Welcome to my coffee shop in the cyber neighborhood!

The Chronicles of Nani On Video

I am overcoming my inability to type with my ability to talk (and talk and talk and talk) I'll be posting a video every week on my YouTube channel. I'll be posting those videos here too along with an occasional regular blog in the mix. (As long as my hands are up to doing the extra typing.)

You'll be able to watch the videos here, but I encourage you to stop by my channel at YouTube once I'm up and running to follow me and get my numbers started!

Welcome to my coffee shop in Cyber Space
Try the latte with a slice of black forest cake!

Contact Nani at

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Photoblog Wednesday

Since there wasn't a Photoblog last Wednesday on Christmas Eve, this week is a 2-fer - 2 photos from Christmas Eve!

Tori and Rina - Nana's Sweeties

15 Christmases later I can't imagine celebrating the holidays without them! We don't have the many days and nights of crafts and games getting ready for the holidays that we did when they were little and we all lived closer, but we are still close and our love is so very special, not a parent-children type, but more than aunt-nieces too. They don't jump into the same frame and "pretend you like each other" for just anybody! LOL

Nana's Baseball Ornament

This is probably one of the coolest warm and fuzzy gifts I've ever gotten! Not only does the baseblall have "Nana" on it, but it's dated 2008. The girls told me they made sure to get the date put on it because they remembered putting the dates on every ornament we made when they were little.

Monday, December 29, 2008

There's Still Time To Be A Hero at Home!

(click iPod in the right column off and press play to see the video!)

Have you checked out the Sears Heroes at Home Wish Registry I told you about yet? There is still time to be part of this great opportunity to help out our military heroes and their families this holiday season!

You can make a donation online. Be a hero at home, part of putting warm coats on kids or clothes for school. Some of the most wished for items from our military families are pajamas and shoes for kids. You know how fast kids grow. We take for granted things like shoes for ourselves and our kids or grandkids. Imagine the stress and pain of having a spouse fighting in a war and a child wearing shoes that are worn out or too small! The donations to Sears Heroes at Home are not tax-deductible, but really, their value is too precious for a tax form. Sears has a pair of warm winter girls’ boots on clearance for just $15.00. Even if you can only spare a dollar, 14 others doing the same can put a pair of boots on a little girl this winter!

Your donation of even just a dollar becomes part of the greater sum to grant wishes for our military families. Sears will take the total of all donations and divide them into gift cards for the 30,583 military families on the registry Over a million people have donated various amounts so far. You donation of even one dollar will put you in that group, one in a million, a part of making dreams realities for the families of the men and women fighting to keep our American Dreams alive.

Won’t you join me in giving whatever amount you can?


Monday Mug Shot

Atlanta, Georgia

Aren’t they cute? They are mini-mugs! Souvenir demitasse or Atlanta cappuccino cups! I chose these as the last mug shot for 2008 because with the big peaches behind the skylines on the little cups it just fits the New Year theme!

I welcomed the new year twice in Atlanta, but the first time was the party night to remember! It was planned all year in 1995. John, Jeff, Jeanne, Heather, Tracy, Rich and I were planning to celebrate the birth of the Olympic year in the Olympic city! We flew out together Friday night, December 29. I had carefully packed my bag and checked it, praying it didn’t end up in Spokane. As good fortune had it, it ended up in Atlanta. So did I!

We checked into The Suites Hotel at Underground, at that time it was a very nice hotel right at Underground Atlanta, which was where the New Years Eve festivities were, so we wouldn't even need to get on the subway to get back to our rooms. Tracy went to visit her Grandmother in metro Atlanta after we got in and she got back to the room very late with a care package that included the absolute best made-from-scratch cake I’ve ever tasted!

Saturday was that fateful day that we met my brother and his family at The World of Coke. After the World of Coke visit, Jeff, Jeanne, Rich and John went to Hooters to have lunch and watch a football game while Tracy, Heather and I went to lunch with Dave, Dee and the girls to Bertucci’s. Bertucci’s is actually a New England based franchise that makes great pasta and the locals called it “the only place in Atlanta where you can have a Pepsi!”

We spent New Year’s Eve at Underground, where the New Year’s Eve party had pretty much already started. You didn’t have to be 21 to enter the mall yet, but there were definitely people getting a head start in the bars! At 6 PM, Underground would transform from a mall to a 21-and-over party. You’d need a wrist band to enter and open alcohol was allowed as you walked through any part of the mall. Of note that I remember from that day, wine tasting at the Habersham Winery store, a candy stop at the penny candy barrels, a few stops for cappuccino at Barney's, taking advantage f the kiosk that did while you wait engraving on plastic key chains and getting my name on a baseball key-fob and discovering Fat Tuesdays!

Fat Tuesdays was a slushie stand! But the slushies were slushies for grownups! A huge selection of yummy fruity slushies that made great use of having a hotel room within walking, perhaps by the end of the night stumbling, distance!

We had an early reservation for Dante’s Down The Hatch, a great fondue restaurant. It was the first time I’d had a full fondue meal and it was great! You ordered the meal you wanted and it was served raw, to be coked in the fondue pot of hot oil. (This was my inspiration for my broth fondue recipe) After dinner, it was a stop (again) at Fat Tuesdays!

We’d later comment that it was the drunkest any of us had been since college for two full days! But in truth, we weren't really THAT drunk, no, we weren’t in driving condition, but we were just silly, punchy buzzed. Jeff’s Atlanta-based brother joined us for the evening too. Much fun was had by all! The center court at Underground, in Kenny’s Alley, where all the bars are was a giant mosh pit! Yes, “I-don’t-like-crampt-crowds” me was part of that! We all, drinks in hand, moved into the sea of people to dance to Devo’s “Whip It.” I got totally separated from Heather and Tracy who were with me when I entered. After I danced my way back to the side, I met up with them when they danced out of it too. We decided that was fun to have done...once, and moved on to the area where the giant peach was to be dropped at midnight. They had live music there. We stopped at Fat Tuesdays for a refill before we went there.

We remet with everyone in our group at about 11:30 for the peach drop. It was at that time that we remembered the champagne we’d bought for midnight was still in the room! Rich was out mad dasher! The elevators were slow and crowded. Not wanting to miss the peach drop and wanting to make sure the champagne was there, he ran up 10 floors of stairs, grabbed two bottles of Asti and ran back down! He was SO out of breath when he got back, just 5 minutes before midnight! But, when we got to the countdown. Rich had caught his breath back and was ready to pop the cork on one of the bottles!

At the stroke of midnight, the giant peach fell in a flurry of sparklers and fireworks started above the hotel. We popped the corks and passed around the bottles. drinking right from the bottle. (Appropriate for such a party, right?) Then after we’d all sipped from the bottles, we offered the to neighboring revelers and that seemed to start a trend as there were bottles of champagne and wine being passed all over the crowd!

After the celebration ended, about 1 AM, Underground was closing and crowds of people were once again “moshng,” this time through the exits. We went into the hotel and waited for the elevators to take us back up. We retired to the guys’ room for more partying and plans to order a pizza.

Remember, to a bunch of Detroit kids, ordering pizza after midnight on New Years Eve is almost a tradition! But here is where the convenience of the hotel location worked against us! We called Dominos to have pizza delivered. They said “NO WAY!” There streets around the hotel were a parking lot. It wasn’t possible for a deliver guy to get there. Jeff was on the phone explaining that we were all drunk and needed food. We’d already tried to see if there was anyplace open Underground or the hotel kitchen to get food and there was none. How could a pizza place turn us down? “Let me talk to your manager!”

He was told that the manager was at a party himself and ot available. Jeff was being impishly ornery and said he wanted to talk to a manager. They took the number and the call ended. Looking out the window at the cars below, we knew that we weren’t getting pizza, so all of the nuts and candy in the mini bars from both rooms became dinner for 8! (Yes, pizza would have been WAY cheaper, especially than the ten-dollar macadamia nuts!))
We got a phone call - it was the Dominos manager calling from the party he was at and asking for jeff! In classic Jeff fashion somehow only enhanced by several stops at Fat Tuesdays and some beer, he had a calm conversation with the Dominos manager. During the conversation where he said, “Oh, I understand but..” a few times, he informed the poor manager that he was from the Ann Arbor, Michigan area and was seriously thinking about stopping by the home office and filing a complaint about Georgia managers who were starving drunks on New Years EVe. He said that with such a smirk on hs face but I guess not in his voice. Nex he was giving his address and the saying goodnight.

Jeff addressed the group anxiously looking at him. They weren’t sending pizzas tonight, but for the inconvenience of us having to empty the mini bars, they were sending him coupons for free pizzas at home.

Jeff and Jeanne are living in Georgia now. I’ve never asked him how often he orders pizza...

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE - Party safe, and stock up on your after midnight munchies before midnight!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Everyone's A Critic

This is just a fun site to check out. EverHYPE is a site where real people get to be the resident experts, the critics, for movies, music and games!

It’s simple. You go to the site and select the entertainment you’re interested in. Imagine, get real Movie Reviews from people paying the same ticket prices you do to see them. That’s what I think is great. I don’t want to read reviews from professional movie critics who see the movies for free and look for things to be unimpressed with. I want to read reviews from people like me. There have been a lot of times I have definitely disagreed with the professional critics and when we’re talking a movie, that’s money and increments of my life I can’t reclaim if they are wasted!

My first stop at EverHYPE was the Action Movie Reviews category. I needed to see if anyone had hyped the new Punisher movie. I absolutely love movies made of comic books. Now, I don't read the comic books so much, but the stories in the comics seem to make the best movies! I bought the last Punisher movie, starring Thomas Jane, and I don’t but many movies, so I am naturally a little hesitant to run out and spend my meager earnings on the new one which does NOT include Jane and Frank Castle!

The review I read was favorable, but I take that with a grain of salt since the reviewer was less impressed with Thomas Jane than I was. I think, perhaps in the world of my current personal economy, I may just wait for the DVD release and rent first. But it’s also free to sign up to BE a critic and I know I’ll be at the new Harry Potter movie in 2009! So maybe I’ll spread a little...a little more, of my opinion around cyber-space!

Check out EverHYPE and revel in the glory of your inner critic!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Mug Shot

Today's very topical mug shot will be the last Chronicles of Nani blog entry before Christmas. David and I have big things going on and a very full schedule for the days leading into Christmas including, but by no means limited to, finishing last minute gift buying, gift wrapping, groceries for our private feast Christmas night! He’s working evenings this week, except for no work on Christmas Eve and days on Christmas. The way our schedules work out, Christmas Eve is the big day will my family and having the evening rather than the day together on Christmas Day is nice because the candles and tree will sparkle during dinner. :)

I still have a couple crostadas that I’ll do this evening and a cake - if you’ve seen my decorating, the cake will be modestly decorated, don’t worry! Christmas dinner at home will be scallops and shrimp Rockefeller (see the Seafood Rockefeller recipe at Davlicious Recipes!) with linguini and a veggie that I’ll figure out when we go shopping!

Between tomorrow night and some time I find while David is at work on Christmas, I hope to have my train show close to done so I have time to make cookies to take this weekend. Then my Christmas baking will be done.

Remember, if you need some last minute cooking ideas for your feast, check out Davlicious Recipes and for a last minute gift idea - brag book pages! You can get some of those here for free, even if you don’t scrapbook, you can slip a photo in pretty easily on a free trail of PhotoShop Elements and get them printed as regular 4X6 prints at your local photo counter. A nice 20-page photo book, even the dollar stores have nice ones, and you have a fairly quick, inexpensive to the wallet, but priceless to the heart gift!

Okay, and Nani’s holiday quickie tips complete, on to the mug before Christmas! May you and yours have a very merry Christmas, beautiful rest of Hanukkah and enjoy the love and festivities of all of this wonderful holiday season!

Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys

This is one of my favorite Holiday mugs. It’s one of the newer ones, actually, although it’s about 8 years old. It was deeply discounted after Christmas at CVS in 2000. I think I paid 50 cents for it. But, it was one of those things I had to buy if for no other reason that to quell my screaming inner child who wanted it so badly.

One of the passions David definitely does not share with me is the absolute love of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. I have loved the story and watched the program every year since I was a child. That kinda goes with the love for Dumbo and The Saggy Baggy Elephant. I guess I’ve always been proudly different and I love stories about the wonderful treasures of misfits. This mug also has my favorites of the misfit toys on it, Charlie in the Box and Spotted Elephant. Yeah, I guess that’s a theme. I’ve always especially loved misfit elephants, huh?

I love this time of year. It can be frustrating sometimes, because I am so driven by the desire to make it perfect and to give generously. That’s tough when the money is tight, but I manage to make it happen, even if it means I’m wrapping up my shopping on Christmas Eve when I have a little more money for one reason or another. That has so much to do with why Grandma asks me to show her what I bought with the money she gives me for Christmas. She found out that one year, I spent it on my nieces and one year I paid a bill that I had let go to buy one mre gift. She insists that I spend it on me and show her what I bought now! Actually, I appreciate that. It means so much to me that she want to be sure I spend it one me!

I celebrate Christmas as several holidays. To me, Christmas is the religious acknowledgment of the birth of Jesus Christ, the miracle God sent to call those of us who would become Christians to him. That included my ancestors and traditions of the relationship with God that have been passed on all sides of my family. My religious observance of Christmas is private. It includes placing the baby in the manger in my nativity and spending some time in the glow of the Christmas lights gazing at the nativity, thinking, meditating and praying. It’s a very special time for me.

I also celebrate the Christmas holiday of family. Every year, we make a trip to Connecticut to visit David’s relatives and either Christmas Eve at my cousin's home or a a weekend dinner in the Motherland to be with mine. The big party I host is UNO and The Fabulous Dessert Bar. That was this past Saturday. I invite everyone in my family of friends, even those I know won’t make it, with a note to simply say that they are wanted here even if they can’t be here. I think it’s always important to invite the people you know won’t be there for that reason. Christmas Cards are a big deal to me in that same way. I send cards to people I haven’t seen in years because they were an important part of my life at one point. They still are. They have left their mark on me, an influence that is part of who I am. This is the time of year that I think back on how blessed I am and having had their influence, having shared part of my life with them, is one of my blessings. I have expressed that in my cards or in the notes I enclose more than once, and I have people I exchange cards with who appreciate and share that same sentiment.

The next holiday of Christmas I celebrate is the celebration of people. It’s really a celebration of the Holiday Season, because I celebrate all people. I love that the commercial world has created such a happy buzz about the holidays. Yes there is some bickering and PC junk. What displays places can or cannot have, what clerks at the mall should say to customers, but the point is, giving the respect that a stranger may not be celebrating the same holiday you are, a warm smile and a “Happy Holidays” to everyone will get that same warmth in return. I love the warm and happiness that’s shared at this time of year and I love being part of it!

Finally, there is that celebration the retailers love so much, the celebration of children. I observe that celebration, the one of Santa and magic, as a celebration of children and inner children, it’s the celebration of presents!

My Mom was big on making the tree bountiful on Christmas morning. The more it looked like Santa’s sleigh crashed in our living room and dumped the whole load, the happier she was. We had huge stocking that she sewed herself by hand. There were always practical gifts under the tree too. When we were in school we got loose leaf paper reams, pens and pencils. There were always small rattling packages of wrapped up boxes of tic-tacs or block-shaped packages of gum. I usually had a package of guitar pics and one of strings and Dave had a few tall, slender gifts sticking out of his stocking of drumsticks. There were clothes, including socks, later things for our cars and the stockings usually had jewelry, perfume and some nicer smaller gifts too. It was always a couple of hours of unwrapping, continental breakfast and just a festive morning with our parents and grandparents, warmed by the huge yule log in the fireplace and the champagne (for everyone after about age seven) toast to welcome Christmas Day.

I like the bountiful Christmas idea. I haven’t reached the point where I have the cash-flow on a regular enough basis to really do it, but I’m working towards it! Since I was a kid, every year there are one or two gifts that are handmade or otherwise personalized. This year, there are and unprecedented 6 personal gifts like that! Whether it was an issue of money or inspiration, I’ve always felt the most warm and fuzzy about the gifts I’ve made. I guess that means that somewhere inside of my undervaluing self, I really do place a lot of value on the things I do and my time, huh? Of course, the made by me gifts have always been the ones most gushed over by the recipients too!

I guess when all is said and done, from the hour I spend in spiritual contemplation to the handmade gifts, from the hours of baking, to the simple few minutes to write out a Christmas card, from the miles of travel to be with family to the quick smile passing strangers the greatest gift we receive and give during the holidays is time. Thank you for taking a moment of yours to read what I took a moment to write.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Want To Give You A Kiss For Christmas!

This is the newest mini kit by Digitalegacies Designs at Scrap Bird, “A Kiss For Christmas,” named for a sweet and a little sexy holiday tune from the late great Luther Vandross! Whether it’s the warm kisses under the mistletoe or the candy kisses that are as sweet as Luther’s voice, this kit captures the image of any of the Christmas kisses you’d want to scrap!

This is my personal membership drive! You can purchase the mini kit, “A Kiss For Christmas” at Scrap Bird for $1.50. OR Send me a PM at Scrap Bird between now and January 7, 2009, and I’ll PM you back the 4-Shared link for it for free! My ID is Nani at Scrap Bird. Of course, you’ll have to stop by at least twice: once to join and send me a PM and once to receive your PM back, but I hope you’ll like it there and stay!

If you use “A Kiss For Christmas” in a challenge layout, you’ll get double points* towards a store gift certificate AND you can ask for Indian Summer too! Are you doing the math on this? It’s join a great new site and get freebie-points towards another freebie-then ANOTHER freebie! Good stuff!

* Double points are awarded for challenge layouts done with supplies from any Scrap Bird designer.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Big Scrapping News!

Well, if you haven’t gotten all of the hints, today is the day I make it official - I’ve gone pro!

Remember when I told you about Darlene’s new store at Scrap Bird? I mentioned the talented new designers joining in the near future. Well, one of those new designers is Digitalegacies Designs!

Scrap Bird is a relatively new site, so I am on the ground floor. Part of that means I am going to really encourage you all to come to see my store and my new designing home! I’m no longer balancing the Mac on the vats of cherry filling in the back of the coffee shop! I’m the real deal now. LOL

Right now there isn’t a lot in my store. “A Perfect Summer Day” and “Premier Templates” have moved out of the Dollar and Dime and I’ve closed that blog. I said before that I wouldn’t put price tags on things that were freebies at The Chronicles of Nani and I plan to stick to that. “Train, Train,” “I’m All In,” “Daddy’s Little Girl,” “Letters From Home” and even the popular “The Old Stuff” will remain free downloads at The Chronicles. There will still be blog freebies as well as freebies available at the store. I’ll also still have a quarterly blog bonus for showing me your layouts with Digitalegacies products, from the store or freebies. Of course, now “Indian Summer” will move to the store in January.

In January, I’ll also be hosting my first challenge, which is one of the things I really found appealing about going pro! I’ll be hosting “I Wanna Talk About Me,” a very Digitalegacies Challenge, taking its name from a Toby Keith song! The “I Wanna Talk About Me” challenge is a “book of me” styled challenge, each month doing layouts that show and otherwise “Talk About You!” There are other challenges that have already started and more that start in January. Challenges will earn you points to collect and get store credit. Hey, participate in enough challenges and my stuff will STILL be freebies!

That leads me to the new news! I am announcing my very first professional kit! Just In time for holiday-cheer, “It’s Christmas All Over The World!”


“It’s Christmas All Over The World” shares its name with one of my favorite classical holiday feel-good songs, sung by Placido Domingo. The kit is one of the larger ones I’ve done with 12 papers and 43 elements including, bows and ribbons, a border cluster, frames and glass ornaments. Eight of those ornaments say the same thing, “Merry Christmas,” but in eight different languages! The Merry Christmas word art is also in a separate folder in the kit if you want to use it on another part of your layout. It is a great kit for multinational heritage Christmas layouts or school or community pageants.

“Merry Christmas” in English, Italian, Spanish,
German, Polish, Portuguese, French and Swedish

You can also choose to purchase just the ornaments in all eight languages and the globe ornament in a separate package.

There is a freebie that goes with “It’s Christmas All Over The World.” It’s a small sampler that coordinates with the whole kit. Now for this one, because I want to encourage you to visit Scrap Bird, you’ll have to get the freebie from my store.

Come on over to Scrap Bird and see what we have in the store and in the forums! Remember what I said before about new sites? Your work is sure to get more love and honest critiques if you ask for them. The site has a good mix of polished designers and rising stars. It was started by Mamrotka and I’ve told you that Darlene Haughin is there. I’m also not the only designer from the recent contest who is selling there. You can also find products by Em-ka and Marta van Eck!

Come get the freebie and check out all we have to offer! I’d love to hear you talk about you in January!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Photoblog Wednesday

When you're railfanning near the airport and a HUGE jet is landing over the train you're about to shoot, you just HAVE to snap a shot of the plane right?

I just love watching planes land. So big, yet so graceful!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Things and Holidays and OMG This Week!

Davinities Black Forest Cupcakes and Krisp Kringles

We got in from our Connecticut trip last night. It was a nice weekend, We got to see EP perform in the Nutcracker Friday night. This year she was a soldier in the first half and a flower in the second half. As David said to EP after the show, “I couldn’t pick you out right away, which means you did your job well!” The company did such a great job, including choreographing parts specifically for the very youngest of the dancers to fit perfectly with the program. From the just the right amount of sexy in the Arabian Dancers to the absolutely precious tiny angels, it was just a great show. I took some pictures with my point and shoot, but EP’s Dad’s “megaphone zoom” lens got better shots of the show. I got some good conversation time with (nephew) Ben at intermission too, so add that to Saturday night’s movie time with EM and JM, I got some good quality time with the niece/nephew tier of the family this trip.

Now this week is a busy week! After a hot breakfast, David was off to work. I did the kitchen cleaning and the kitty-restroom maintenance, then went to check the job board emails I’d missed over the long weekend. I think Christmas being midweek takes even more available job trolling days away. I am SURE that it’s not that there aren’t any jobs. Okay, maybe not sure, but I do know that MY job is open now. Has to be! I’ll be getting my contact information updated to launch my “remember me” I’m still looking” mails with updated resume to the recruiters with whom I’ve been in contact.

Big stuff going on and to be announced this week! I’m not telling just yet, but I’ll give a hint, probably a big hint. If you like Digitalegacies’ stuff and you have some space in your scrapping world for a CT spot or a guest spot, I may be offering something to make it worth your while to put the two together very, and I mean very, soon!

In the interim, I wanted to let you know about the call at Scrap Bird!

You can click on the call image to go to Scrap Bird. Check out the site and by all means check out the store! If you click on the designers, you can see the talent you’ll get to work with!

Scrap Bird has some great challenges and the list of challenges is growing! You can complete challenges to save up credits for the shop. There is a team mega kit every month. The swatch for the January mega kit is just mouthwatering! Of course, joining is free and one thing you'll love there is the extra attention new members at a new site get! Be sure to check out Scrap Bird and if you haven’t joined, please consider it!!

This week is another very full week! We have the annual UNO and The Fabulous Dessert Bar Saturday. We have to finish up the cleaning tonight while Extreme Trains is on The History Channel. Okay, Extreme Trains, a show to which David and I are addicted, is on at ten, so we’d better get most of the straightening done before since I know we won’t do a lot during the show! There’s also the tree to put up and I have a couple days worth of baking the other half of the cookies I did to take to Connecticut last week. I’ll do that between tomorrow afternoon and Thursday afternoon. Then I’ll finish with 2 crostadas Friday while David is at work. Considering the timing for freshness, that will finish up the cookies, with just 2 more crostadas to make for Christmas in the beginning of next week.

I’ve pulled the music and I’m sorting photos for my train show this year, which I’ll show at BORT Rail, the big railfan gathering in Dayton after Christmas. The plan is to try and have my show done by the end of Christmas Day, so I can burn the DVDs overnight and have the Friday after to bake a big batch of Mr. Goodcookies to take with us to Dayton.

I’m really hoping someone has a suggestion for New Years Eve when we get together Saturday. I haven’t planned anything yet! --deep breath-- hehe. I’m going to try to slow down, some, in January. Really!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday Mug Shot

Stone Mountain, Georgia

This is one of those mugs that I just love because it's different. Oh I know it’s not a totally uncommon coffee mg shape, but it's uncommon for a souvenir mug. That’s what caught my eye about it when I bought it.

Stone Mountain is just outside of Atlanta and a State Park. The park has a train, a paddle boat, an old plantation house and a gold course. There is a fabulous restaurant at the Stone Mountain Inn that has large windows that overlook the park’s main attraction, the carving!

The carving was designed by the same man that designed Mount Rushmore. The figures on Stone Mountain are the leaders of the confederacy. From the top of the mountain of granite, you can see the Atlanta skyline clearly on a good day. There are two ways to ge to the top: a narrated cable car ride and a 2 or 3 mile walk up the side of it. I have been on top many times. I’ve always taken the cable car!

Looking at this mug at this time of year, it sparks one very vibrant memory from the trip Mom and I took after Thanksgiving in 1993. After we left Savannah, we traveled to Atlanta for a couple more days of relaxing and a bit of shopping. When we got into town, our first stop was Stone Mountain. We had decided that we were finally going to have lunch at The Inn. We’d been to the park many times and had often thought about stopping at the Inn.

It was the week after Thanksgiving and the park was getting dressed for the holidays! As we were driving in, we saw the platforms floating in the lake with the sculptured frames for the light displays. It was chilly and gray. That’s a relative thing, but even for the deep south, there was a bite in the breeze. We walked into the Inn an they were putting the lights on the huge tree in the lobby. All the workers were buzzing with things to prepare for the holidays, poinsettias, boughs of pine, sprigs of fresh holly. It smelled heavenly and there was such a spited warm glow about the whole place. We went up to the dining room and were seated with a great view of the carving and the lawn before it.

The dining room had already been decked out for the holidays. As it was early lunchtime during the week, there weren’t a lot of people there, but it felt like being early for a holiday party, anticipating other guests. The lighting in the dining room was dim, intensified by the gray day outside. In that dimness, the candles on the tables and the chandeliers twinkled.

Mom and I had a leisurely lunch and lingered over coffee. I mentioned that it felt very Christmas. I hadn’t yet figured out why the visit with Santa on the boat trip in Savannah and lunch at Stone Mountain Inn felt so rich in the holiday spirit without snow. I was really trying to pout my finger on it. True, I had already decided I wanted to move to Georgia at that time, but I wasn’t willing to believe I was brainwashing myself about Christmas!

It was when we were leaving the park that the answer threw its sparkles in my eyes. Driving out, the floating lights had been lit and were reflecting off the lake. The lights! The gray day had intensified the effect of the lights and the earlier sundown on that gray day had the light rafts twinkling off the water early. Mom always loved water and effects you could do with it, bout as a native Michigander herself, said she still wanted a white Christmas. Okay, so I’m not totally my mother! I want a white Christmas too...white lights sparkling off the tinsel on my tree!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Around The World

Last year, Christmas Around The World was such an awesome site for finding just fabulous Christmas scrapbooking kits and they were all free, which was great for someone just starting to get into the craft. I'd only been doing it since August and my budget for supplies was about ten dollars a week. Building my "craft drawer" on my hard drive was a big task at the beginning and thanks for the generosity of so many for freebies!

I’ve used a few of those goodies from last year in layouts myself, and it’s also where I became familiar with Darlene Haughin’s work! So, I have the Christmas Around The World collab to thank for some great kits and what lead to a CT spot with a designer I just love! I never would have imagined that a year later I’d actually be on Darlene’s creative team or that I would have designed anything other than an element or two for myself. As stressful as so many other things in my world have been this year, I’ve had some wonderful creative things happening for me!

I had my first CT position with Sherrie, RC Mama Designs, and watched her rise to the pro level with her work. Shortly after joining Sherrie’s team, I started dabbling in designing, looking to create a kit with some train elements for my railfan weekends with David, then I started off March with the release of “Train, Train.” Less than a month after that I saw the CT call for Darlene and just had to apply. I guess I was an enthusiastic and gushy enough fan to make the grade, and I’m doing well enough that Darlene is keeping me! :D

My work scrapbooking and designing has been progressively improving. Even David made very kind comments about the last books I had printed and, while not enough to make it to the end, I did last two rounds with enough votes to move ahead in the SAS designer contest in September. Now after feeling pretty good about “Fall Splendor,” the first cyberspace-wide collab I’d participated in organized by Kristine, Wenchd Grafix, I was eager to try it again!

I want to give a “shout out” and a HUGE thanks to Kimberly, Fishinmom Designs, for her work in organizing Christmas Around The World again. I know from the much smaller scale I did with the SAS Cast Party how much work it takes to pull this off. Take an opportunity to stop at her blog to check out the range of her design work and leave a thanks for her effort on the Christmas collab! All those goodies wouldn't there without her!

Here is the Digitalegacies Designs contribution. This color scheme is SO me! David thought I came up with it and was doing a kit on my own when I was working on it!

Download Digitalegacies Designs’ Contribution to Christmas Around The World
LinkSorry, this link is expired.

Now, it’s your turn to be amazed at all there is to see, and download for free, at Christmas Around The World. Maybe you’ll discover that designer that just seems to have her (or his) finger on exactly what you want for your scrapbook pages. Hey, maybe you’re visiting from the main site or someone else’s blog and that designer is Digitalegacies Designs. I think that would be very cool!

See all the Christmas Around The World offerings at the main site:

LinkImage Hosted by ImageShack.us

So many designers offering a sample of what they do
and making that a special Merry Christmas to you!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Photoblog Wednesday

Railfans: Passion or Insanity?

It was a COLD weekend and trains are my #2 passion. I've sat out in that kind of snow for baseball, but I stayed in the car and took this shot!

And before you decide we're both judgment-challenged, it was the Braves and Cubs in April at Wrigley. We scored HBO box seats courtesy of a friend in cable marketing. What would you have done? Box seats at Wrigley!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday Tidbits

So many things going on! I’m taking a pre-lunch break right now. I’m already behind today!

I can’t locate my double boiler! Oh, we actually have a few, David had a ton of pots and pans when I came into this situation and I brought some of my own too. But my double boiler is missing. I’ve made my Krisp Kringles for Christmas in that double boiler for 35 years. The magic of Christmas Davinities is in it. David is having a busy enough day that he didn’t text back this morning after I’d spent about an hour searching! :(

So, now will be lunch and Mr. Goodcookies. Then I’ll search a little more for the double boiler. It’s just going to be harder work to make it CHRISTMAS Davinities with a different double boiler. There are cherished and nostalgic dents in that one!

Scrapping news!

You might have noticed some changes in the creative team part of my sidebar! I’m no longer on RC Mama Designs’ CT! Sherrie has decided, at least for a while, to hang up the pixel brush. She was having nasty headache troubles when she was spending any time at all, really, in front of the computer! I hope she can get a solution to her troubles! Even if she decides not to go back to designing, there’s still that plain digi scrapping addiction to deal with!

Sherrie is still blogging from time to time and you can leave her a bit of encouragement or a holiday wish at her blog RC Mama Designs.

Also, Darlene has left DSO as of the end of November. At SAS, she left the hosting job for the My SAS-y Self challenge and is ow officially the organizer of their regular blog-hop parties! Cool job and that means look out for those fantastic freebies! In fact, I stopped at Darlene’s blog just today, where she has a great sampler from her “Dear Santa” kit. She is also giving details for the next SAS blog hop, which is a Christmas hop scheduled to start December 14! Be sure to check out her blog for the details! Darlene Designs

Darlene is also going to be participating in “Christmas Around The World” again this year and, oh, me too! BE on the lookout Friday for a new freebie from Digitalegacies Designs as part of “Christmas Around The World!” The color swatch is wonderful, I loved working with it and I’m pretty pleased with the results. So look for great parts of that super gianormous mega endeavor on Friday from Darlene Haughin and from Digitalegacies Designs! Clear out some space on your hard drive because there will be a LOT to download this weekend!

You’ll also see a new clickable icon in the scrapbook sites area. Darlene is designing at Scrap Bird. It’s a great, fairly new site with some great new designers too. Keep an eye out as the family grows there!

You can get all of Darlene’s Christmas kits for 25% off at both of her stores!

Okay, off to find that magical double boiler, make some cookies and...um...oh yeah - have lunch!

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Sat On Santa's Lap Today!

Oh, you know you aren’t getting tired of my silly holiday self!

You all know what a high opinion I have of digital picture frames as gifts. My dream gift-to-give fantasy just got trumped!

What if I told you there was a way to make that fantasy gift a gift that keeps giving and the recipient doesn’t need to know any more than where the “on” button is? What if I told you that you can sit at home and update the photos on your gift all year long? It’s just WAY TOO COOL!

Cevia Digital Picture Frames are so much more than just a picture frame! You can give the gift loaded with pictures and hook the frame up to a phone outlet in the recipient’s home. You can send new pictures to the frame from your computer or even from your cell phone! Humph. If I’d have known about this last year, Grandma could be the most “in the know” member of the family information line!

And getting a good look at the frame and details of how it works is almost as cool as the frame or the feeling of giving it (or receiving it) as a gift!

I sat on Santa’s lap and asked for it myself! I mean I really did! He and his elf, Ollie, told me all about the frame and when I sat on his lap and asked for it, he showed me the new state of the art facility in the North Pole! Checking his list is as easy as a few keystrokes and a search of the database!

You think I’ve gone loco don’t you?

Okay let me explain! That photo up there is the one I sped to Santa through cyberspace into his Cevia frame. I thought that one was fun because, well, because I’ve always worn hats and silly head gear, especially celebrating the holidays! I was sure he’d remember me from that photo!

It’s really a lot of fun! You get to virtual sit on Santa’s lap! Tell him you have got a wish and he’ll see what he can do for you! Click that link and try it out. You know ou want to! You miss those innocent days sitting on Santa's lap too!

Click the link and come back after your visit with Santa!

Did you catch the details at the end of your visit with Santa? One person who sits on Santas lap each day will win a prize! They say you get your wish, but the prize is a $500 cash prize. It’s a great bonus, but even if you don’t win, there’s $100 off the frame if you order it from the sit-on-Santa’s-lap site, which is almost half off. That brings it to the price of many digital frames that don’t let you send new photos to the frame just like you’re sending it email!

If a digital picture frame wasn’t a perfect gift before, it is now!


Monday Mug Shot

Two weekends! Only TWO WEEKENDS left before Christmas! Yeesh!

I’ve noticed that my visitor count is down. Actually, my visiting count is down too! There’s so much to do and so little time! This week is baking week one. David and I did the grocery shopping this afternoon before he left for work. I now have a couple shopping bags of baking supplies in the atrium next to my exercise bike. (Don’t think the irony of that is lost on me!) Tonight I’ll get a start on the treats that will be going to Connecticut with us. The cats will love that, Mom and Dad gone and a cat-sitter again. Luckily, they like their usual cat-sitter, so no one trashes the house or spends the weekend under the bed. Not that I think Baggle would ever be scared enough to go a whole weekend without food, anyway! When we had all four cats in Michigan and Dad watched them for a weekend, he said he always thought there were three, but every now and then a fourth one would show up at the food dishes!

So this week, I work on earning that “anal-retentive” label so many of my friends lovingly place on me. The schedule on my desktop has specific times for cover letter writing, shower, which day is shaving day and how long I have to floss my teeth before the next batch of cookies goes in the oven with just enough time to change the laundry loads while they bake...

Okay, NO, I’m not THAT bad! But I do have a detailed “to do” list for each day! When people taste the treats, eat a meal I planed or enjoy the festive look of the home I welcome them into, no one utters the label without an appreciative smile!

This past weekend was COLD! I mean cold too, we were in Lafayette, Indiana in my car. My heater is dead. Saturday morning, the bank clock said it was 4 degrees. I had long underwear, leggings, a turtleneck, a sweatshirt, jeans, a fleece coat and three pairs of socks and STILL had my feet bundled up in a blanket and another one across my lap to keep warm.

Why didn’t I fall in love with a nice Georgia boy?

I spoke to David’s brother on the phone when we were en route to the store today. It’s not supposed to be above freezing the entire time we’re there.

Why didn’t I fall in love with a nice Georgia boy with kin in Florida?

I pose those rhetorical questions with a grin. David’s family are wonderful people who I enjoy spending time with and that Georgia boy would pretty much have to be David with an accent!

So, I have 45 minutes on my schedule to write and proofread a mug shot. ;) Better get to it!

A Christmas Gift from my Mom
circa 1994

This was a gift in my Christmas Stocking in the mid-90s. I’ve made mention before to my “type A” past. I lived with my parents then. The 60+ hour workweeks (on salary) and my seeming inability to talk about anything but work weren’t lost on Mom. I did still find time to have coffee with her once a week, almost on a schedule.

Now, I wasn’t the type who never took vacations. Mom worked on me at home to get away and my program director was awesome at tempering the balance between the drive of my ego and the point where I’d break. She was good about making sure I had what amounted to an extra week of vacation as comp-time every summer. I just wasn’t very good at relaxing, even when I had time off.

This mug was Mom’s way of extending a warning to me.

The truth is, when the company that bought out my old company came in and told me about that financial ceiling if I didn’t get a degree, then turned around and kept insisting that there wasn’t time in the schedule to let me have a night or two a week off to go to school that I realized I really didn’t have all that much to show for the over four years of grindstone I’d given. I’d been giving and expecting appreciation for it. Silly me. When it comes right down to it, a job is only a way to make a living. To be appreciated, to be remembered, you need to make a life, and for that you need people.

My nieces were 2 when I left to go back to school and they knew me as that aunt-lady who came home just before bed and played with them a little. I had old friends I hardly ever saw and new friends with whom I only “talked shop.” When I went back to college, I discovered Hip-hop music, deeper meditation and deeper relationships.

Everyone discovers something new outside of the curriculum in college, even those who are almost 30 and in college. My musical taste expanded courtesy of the top songs of the day on WJLB in Detroit that played on my way into school. I just liked what I was hearing and kept listening. College students commonly broaden their musical tastes. I also learned how to do something I already had tried even better.

I quit smoking in 1990, just before trade school, with the help of a self-hypnosis tape and absolute will power - I looked at myself in the mirror and told myself if I could provide one GOOD reason that I did it, I could keep doing it. I couldn’t come up with anything good. They say that in 5-7 years after quitting, your lungs heal and that’s where a lot of former smokers develop a serious allergy to it. That’s me now. I think of it as God's way of saying “Good job, I’ll help make sure you never do something that nasty again!” But, I really do consider that a gift!

That self-hypnosis program helped me stop overnight. No munchies, no cravings, I just quit. I figured that the sincere desire for it to work helped a lot, but I also figure that if it worked for smoking, it could probably help me help myself with a lot of things. I studied a lot of religious meditation for several different religions, in my World Religions class. What an eye-opener that was! Meditation is a lot about bringing yourself to deep relaxation, to controlling your own mind and how it reacts to your environment. I learned how to step back from the forest to study the trees before I start chopping them down. I am a lot calmer now. I’m not stress-free, in fact I still thrive on occasional positive stress, but I don’t let it become emotional chaos where all I can do is keep moving forward so I don’t see what’s left behind. I like to look back and enjoy my accomplishments now. I think I’ve become a more complete person.

I’m close to my nieces and closer to my family and my friends, all of my friends, in a more personal and loving way now. I feel that in many ways I have generally better relationships with everyone, even with myself.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It’s Crunch TIme Already??

Late turkey days definitely increase the holiday stress. I’m trying to juggle time, money and brain power this month and I have a weekend less to do it all with!

I have lot of baking to do. That’s such a big must this year since I don’t have the cash flow to do much gift buying. I’m gift making, including edible gifts. We also have to get the house cleaned up for our party. I’m also preparing a mini kit for Christmas Around The World. Oh yeah, and I do this in the evenings because our weekends are already booked.

I’m stealing a couple hours a day from job hunting right now too. This is not the time of year companies hire new people or even call back a lot. It is the time to get resumes out and in front of people. Fortunately cold-call, unsolicited, resumes really don’t differ a lot from cover letter to cover letter. Insert the new company name and then it’s generally “I’m hoping to secure a full time position in marketing, coordinating or creative. This is me in a nutshell. I am a really cool employee.” So I can actually do a lot in a little time. It is a time of year that is common for turnovers or retiring and that makes it a good time to have your resume on a desk or desktop. I’m just praying that the new year will bring some work related blessings for me!

I also have train photos I’ve been collecting all year for my end of the year show that I hope to have done in time for the railfan gathering in Dayton in between the holidays, but I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to get it done this year. It would be the first year since David and I met that I haven’t had something to show and that would make me unhappy, but I’d be more unhappy if I showed up in Connecticut empty-handed or if I had to call and cancel our Christmas party. I wouldn’t get to see any of my friends for Christmas then. That would definitely be worse! So, I’m going to keep on going like crazy and see if I can’t manage to get it all done! I can sleep in 2009 right? ;)

What gifts are being bought are coming along well. Shutterfly is so great! They have easy-to-design yourself gifts and they print digital scrapbooks too - great quality, full bleeds and beautiful hard cover books, with your designed covers too! I am so happy with them and they have phenomenal customer service! I have relatives who read the blog every now and then, so I can’t elaborate, but I got a Christmas gift order in as well as a couple of Christmas cards orders and they are just awesome! I did train cards for the first time this year and David and I will send our train cards together. I think my cards look pretty good! I’m not ashamed to have them on the door with all the cards we get and I think David is kinda looking forward to bragging about his girlfriend who likes trains! There will be much signing and addressing this weekend!

I was happy to see my PayPal account credited with the first fruits of my blogvertising efforts! If anyone was thinking that maybe they could write an occasional post for a little earning, Pay Per Post does work and they are honorable for the money promised if you were skeptical. You’re paid for a post 30 days after you post it. I’ve now been paid for the 2 posts I did in October. I wish I’d discovered it sooner! I write a little more than the word count they ask for, but it still is only about a half hour’s work to write the post. I wish I could do it 40 hours a week, it’s a good hourly wage! But now I have about a half tank of gas, a few batches of cookies or an ink cartridge for my printer and a ream of paper. Not bad for a couple of blog entries! I’m not going to post numbers here, but if you’re considering doing some promoting for cash and want more details of what I’ve been doing, drop me a an email at the address in the bulletin board (top of the posts) and I'll tell you about it!

I’ll finish up this post with a happy announcement of TWO new awards on the side bar award wall courtesy of Miss Edna!

The first one is the “Treasured Friends Forever” award, celebrating the greatest thing about the internet. Beyond commerce, information or a chance to get out there and let your talents shine, the best thing about the internet to a personal blogger is meeting people and making friends from all over the world!

The second is one that really makes me feel good! The “This Blog Has A Heart” means that I’m making a meaningful contribution to cyberspace at my little coffee shop.

I have to thank Edna for letting Tootsie read blogs too! Tootsie left a very nice comment on Kaline’s blog and now Kaline is staring to rethink her anti-dog stance. What a relief! I really don’t like prejudice of any type and cats, if they have any flaws, can sometimes be a little speciesist! See? The blog world is good for everyone! :D

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Photoblog Wednesday

Our town sucks!
(and that makes me glad!)

In Toledo, we still have to rake leaves, but we rake them out into the street. The city does the rest! Vacuum trucks come out and suck up all the leaves. We don't have to bag them, burn them or otherwise dispose of them!

I used to live in one of the wealthiest counties in the country. But NOW I'm spoiled for the lower taxes we pay!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Afternoon Break Giggle

Okay, you all know that I’m a stats geek and monitor the heck out of The Chronicles of Nani. I had a hit today that brought the seeker to the Monday Mug Shot, but they weren’t looking for a cup of coffee!

The search terms they used on Google were “old time mug shot” and The Chronicles was one of the front page picks for the search! That probably has to do with that spider I told you l about some time back! The spider not withsquishing, the other hits for “old time mug shot” were interesting.

I had forgotten about Mel Gibson having been busted in 2006 for being a general drunk jerk one night. Yes, I do realize that you have to be stupidly and cruelly drunk to get busted for it. He was and he did. But I’d never seen the police mug shot. Have you? I mean isn’t it strange that a star gets brought in and the mug shot wasn’t ALL over TV and the web?

According to the first hit for “old time mug shot,” fearing a Nick Nolte image that was just everywhere making him look like a crazed homeless person, Mel “tidied himself up at the water fountain before he got his picture taken. I guess either he was sobering up or his vanity is a tea totaler!

click image to see the Smoking Gun page!

That’s the mug shot. I don’t even look that good sober and he was drunk and 50 in 2006! That’s ten years older than me. :::shaking head::: Mmm-mmm..HUMPH!

But I didn’t sit before the keys to tell you how good Mel Gibson looked after a drinking and driving binge at 50 years old. I wanted to share where I got the picture! There is a site for this kind of mug shot! The Smoking Gun has an archive of celebrity mug shots! Yes, all those people who think they are above the laws we have to follow, or anyway for some of them, they do when they are in an altered state. Some are just in a terminally altered state! I get a slightly demented kick out of seeing the “beautiful people” when they're not so beautiful!

Check it out! http://www.thesmokinggun.com/mugshots/index.html

But remember to come back on Monday for a picture of a useful mug!

Monday, December 1, 2008

You have already applied to this job. Please select another job.

Okay, I’ll take the advertising copywriter position, you know the one that’s budgeted $50K a year plus bonuses and 50% telecommute? That one. I’ll take it.

I wish it were that simple. “Please select another job.” What have I been doing for a year?

Remember how I put the great companies that treat job seekers like people on my list of things for which I am thankful? The above grumble is about the opposite type of job provider, actually, job NON provider. That was the text for a job that I applied for three months ago. It’s still posted. Because in all of this country, so dry of job seekers, their system recognizes me as having been there, but it ate my resume and no one else has applied for the marketing coordinator job. You know, marketing coordinators, mid career, so yesterday. Everyone who’s not a CEO wants to be a fry-cook nowadays!

So, I'm working on a new cover letter/message to leave on voice mail. How does this sound?

Dear Human Resources:

Hi. My name is Nani. My phone number is 419-555-XXXX. I need a job. I need a job REALLY BAD.

I’m pretty open about what I’ll do to earn an honest, steady paycheck. I have a degree in broadcast communications with an undeclared minor in business that I earned with 3.8 grade point average. I have experience, tons of experience. You could put me anywhere and I’d excel. I have entrepreneurial experience, a foundation of professional placements and personal pursuits that add value to me as a future employee of your company.

I have experience as: a project coordinator, a department coordinator, production logistics, field technical troubleshooting, teaching, customer support, administrative support, public speaking, copywriting, web content writing. I’ve assisted in writing a barcode-based computer database and have worked extensively with other custom databases. I have negotiated with nonprofit organizations, government officials and celebrities’ agents. I have both assistant and supervisory experience and I’ve worked with senior citizens and children. I’ve designed a company presence for a trade show booth and worked the crowd with promotional collateral. I’ve swept the floor and cleaned the windows, I can make chili and cookies from scratch to feed a production crew and can make grout shine on kitchen tile with a toothbrush, I can show you pictures! I’LL SHINE YOUR SHOES IF IT MEANS I CAN PAY MY BILLS!

So, please, if you have any openings, consider me. Call me any time. I’m not busy at all. We can meet during the department cleaning week. I’ll bring my toothbrush!

So, whadda ya think? Will it work? ;)

Charter's Gifts For Getting Connected!


If you’re in an area served by Charter Communications, here’s a deal you need to know about!

Right now, Charter is offering some wonderful extra perks for signing up for their communication bundles. It’s part of their Black Friday/Cyber Monday online promotion and it extends until December 5. You still have 4 more days to take advantage of the deal!

You get to choose the bundle that best serves your communications needs. Even if you only need one service, you’ll score a $25 gift card, but with the Ultimate Bundle, which includes unlimited calling on their voice service, high speed internet and a full entertainment package of basic and premium cable channels, you’d get the $250 gift card! You’ll have a large selection of stores to choose from for your gift card too: Barnes and Noble, Outback Steakhouse, Macy’s, a Shell gas card, even Dunkin' Donuts and that’s just naming a few!

You can lock in your package for 2009 at the best price! Plus when you order, you’ll have a chance to win an X-Box 360 game console. 45 customers will win an X-box on top of the gift card and great bundle deal. It’s definitely worth checking out!

You can check out the complete X-Box contest rules here.

Monday Mug Shot

Seagram Museum
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Alas, poor whiskey, I knew it readers, a museum of infinite wisdom with a great restaurant! The Seagram Museum closed in 1997, but I’d been there a few times! Mom and I discovered the Seagram Museum en route to Stratford the first year we went after I’d turned 19. What better combination than Shakespeare and Canadian whiskey?

Turning 19 as a Metro Detroiter, is almost as cool as turning 21! There is the mandatory birthday celebration in Windsor, to have your first legal drink, but remember that if you come home drunk, you’re an instant felon! Then there is just the fact that for the next two years, you really are an adult in Canada. For me the big thing was that I could have a glass of wine with a nice dinner, so if I was going out for a nice dinner, I usually wanted to go to Canada!

The Seagram Museum was so cool! There were displays of old timey whiskey making tools, diagrams about how the whiskey is made and helpful people that were more than willing to answer any questions!

Perhaps the most memorable trip I took to the Museum was when John and I went in 1987. When I’d been there on a previous trip, I’d gotten a bottle of Museum Blend whiskey, a blend made especially for the museum shop. It was wonderfully smooth and had a good flavor. I was 21 in 1987. While the first bottle I brought home I bought, but it came back as Mom’s, now I could even legally bring my own purchase home!

John and I decided that we’d like to get a bottle of the Museum Blend for Christmas. I’ve known John since I was 15, but he’s always been legal to drink at home. My big bro has a few years on me. But this was my thing. I was old enough and I was bringing my own whiskey home!

When traveling to Canada, at that time anyway, you were allowed to bring home one bottle of alcohol per person, per night stayed in Canada without paying duty on it. We were driving to Kitchener for the purpose of buying the bottle of whiskey and stopping for a nice dinner in Stratford before heading home. We weren’t even staying a full day, so I knew I’d need to pay duty on the bottle. I was 21. I was more than happy to pay duty on MY bottle of whiskey that I was bringing home as a souvenir from Canada.

I planned ahead. the worst thing in the world to a 21-year-old is to have the booze, be able to legally bring it home and NOT have enough money left after a day in Canada to pay the taxes! So, the first stop of the day, was the customs office in Port Huron, Michigan, to find out what our duty would be so I was sure to have enough left when we crossed the border that night.

Ah, youth. Honesty is such an innocent thing.

We puled the blue Monza with Michigan plates into the US Customs parking lot. It was early on Saturday morning in December, so there wasn’t a wait. When the woman at the counter asked , “can I help you?”” I told her that we were planning to go to the Seagram Museum in Kitchener, Ontario and I wanted to bring back one bottle of their Museum Blend whiskey, a blend that can only be purchased at the museum store and I wanted to know what the duty would be when we brought it home.

“Can I see some ID?”

Remember, I was 21. That was such a normal question! Besides, I figured that she wanted to confirm that I could legally bring the bottle back. She asked for John’s ID. That still made sense to both of us and John handed her his license too. Then a man walked in, also in a border cop uniform. They both looked at our IDs, made a few inaudible to us comments and the man asked, “Is that your blue car?” I said it was and he asked for the keys!

Remember, we hadn’t left the country yet and were getting the third degree for asking a question, for being honest! We stood in the lobby of the customs office and watched them search my car in the parking lot for asking a question! They still had both of our IDs too. I remember asking John if what they were doing was legal. He told me that they were US government officers, everything they did was legal. I was between being worried and angry. I knew there was nothing they’d find in my car to give me grief, but I also knew there was nothing about asking a question that made it plain I wanted to follow international law to make me a suspect of anything.

After about 40 minutes of asking us questions and completely searching my car, they FINALLY told me, it would be about $1.25 US, for the duty on a bottle of whiskey.

I think back, and I still say “YEESH!”

The rest of the day was not nearly as eventful, except that now we were about an hour behind the schedule we’d planed. We toured the Museum, got our bottle of whiskey and had a nice dinner in Stratford. We decided that we did NOT want to cross the border in Port Huron on the way home, so we came back through Windsor into Detroit.

When we pulled up to the customs gate, at about 10 PM on a Saturday night, the agent asked if we had anything to declare. I told him that we had bought a bottle of whiskey at the Seagram Museum. He asked me to pull into the parking lot. The agent there asked me to open the hatch of my car. I was afraid it would be anther hour-long ordeal to pay my $1.25!

The agent looked over the back hatch with his flashlight and at the one bottle of whiskey in plai n sight, but out of reach of the driver, legal placement in Michigan for a car without a trunk. He smiled and said, “Thank you. You can close the trunk.”

I asked where I went to pay they duty in the whiskey. Again he smiled and said, “What whiskey? Have a nice night.”

In the end, honesty DOES pay!