Through the Port Hole

This is one of those pages that starts out simply, but ends up amazing. Or at least I think so!

It showcases two places … Whitefish Point State Docks, which features a barn and fishing boats on the shores of Lake Superior; and Whitefish Point Light Station, where the Edmund Fitzgerald went down in 1975. We didn’t have time to do much exploring the day we were there, but we did take a quick peek at the light and the beach. And, I was fortunate enough to see a ship passing in the distance.

One of the reasons I love the Mosaic Moments system so much is that you can use it to enhance your photos. Many times those photos that aren’t good enough to scrapbook, become perfect when cutting just the right way.

In this case, my photo of the ship was a bit hazy because it was so far away. By using the Three Circles Die as a frame, I turned the less-than-steller photo into the focal point.

I created a video to show you to do it …

(I receive compensation for making videos for Mosaic Moments.)

My First Bike (in 39 years)

I know you’ve seen plenty of photos of me with my bike, but I had to do one more …

For a little background info … At 44, I decided I was going to be bedridden if I didn’t get moving. My biggest hurdle was that it hurt to walk. After less than a mile, my right leg tenses up, the muscles contract, my foot goes numb and I lose control of it. It is extremely painful and the pain continues for hours after I stop walking. The first time it happened, more than 20 years ago, I pushed through the pain and actually fell and twisted my ankle. Since then, it has progressively gotten worse.

I didn’t go to a doctor because I didn’t want to hear, “lose weight and it will be fine.” Nor did I want to be one of those people who has an “excuse” for everything they cannot (or don’t want) to do.

So, I was looking for things I could do that wouldn’t hurt my leg and I thought bike riding might be good. Problem is, I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was 18 and I weighed so much that I was afraid it would be impossible. So, I set myself a goal. I decided that if I lost 50 pounds, I would try it.

That day came on Memorial Day in 2016. While my family hung out on the back deck of my mother-in-law’s house, I quietly slipped away and took her bike for a ride. I’m sure if anyone saw me, they were laughing hysterically at how wobbly I was, but after a few times of nearly hitting the curb before remembering that I had breaks, I figured it out. It’s amazing how the body can remember to do something again after so many years of not doing it!

My husband and I realized that this could be something fun to do together, so we each bought bikes. I selected a cruiser that allowed me to sit upright and put both feet firmly on the ground while sitting on the seat.

These photos were taken on our first official ride on a bike path — at a park in Linden, MI. They are some of the most important photos I have ever taken … Yes, they mark an important spot in my journey to losing weight and feeling great, but they mean so much more to me.

They were just quick snapshots my husband took with my phone, but they are the first pictures I looked at in many, many years where I thought, “I look good!” For the past few decades, whenever I saw my pictures, I always cringed because I was so much heavier than the person I saw in the mirror. I hated my photos. I still took them and scrapbooked them because they were important to me, but they made me depressed — often to the point of tears — every time I saw them. But when I saw these, I just kept looking at my thighs and thinking, “Wow! I look really good!”

It took me several weeks to share my feelings with my husband (and nearly a year to share with the world), but after that, it became a “thing.” Whenever we were riding and I was getting tired or thinking the hill was too hard to climb, I would look at my thighs and remember how good they looked in this photo and how much better they would look if I kept this up and it would push me further. My husband picked up on it and he would remind me to look at my thighs whenever the going got too hard. It was all the motivation I needed.

Yes, these two little pictures are responsible for me losing an additional 30 pounds and going from riding a mile to riding 13 miles in just one summer.

Such special photos need special treatment, so I went a little artsy on this page. I used papers from Authentique, a resin bike from Melissa Frances (accented with a bit of Distress Paint) and the Circle Tiles and Tab Die Set from Mosaic Moments to complete my page.

I made a video to show you how fun it can be to create embellishments with the Circle Tiles using different patterned papers. Check it out.

(I am compensated to create videos for Mosaic Moments).

By the way, I have talked to my doctor about my leg. After several tests, she thinks it is a mineral and amino-acid deficiency. I’ve been taking both for the past year. It’s not perfect yet, but I can walk faster and harder and when the pain does hit, it hurts less and it quits almost immediately after resting. Bike riding doesn’t hurt it one bit. And those are things I can live with.

Happy trails!

I’m Still Standing

Yes, I’m still here … I’ve been incredibly busy with crops and work and teaching, and well, there are just not enough hours in the day!

Of course, I have still been doing some scrapbooking, mostly Mosaic style, and making videos. And, that means I am way behind in my blog posts! So, I’ll try to get you caught back up …

For starters, this is a page I did featuring the Smile for the Camera die from Mosaic Moments. The die is a lot of fun because it comes with several different pieces you can put in the camera “lens.” I used the “smile” die on this page, but then I also used the heart as an accent. I should tell you, this is also a limited-edition die, so I’m not sure how much longer I can order them. I believe I have one in stock at the moment … just saying!

This page was to celebrate some of the new adventures I have discovered on my pink bike. Sadly, I traded the bike in for a new model yesterday … I LOVED that bike, so it hurt to let it go, but I have a new teal bike with 21 gears that can ride on pavement and dirt and will handle the hills much better. It’s not as stylish as my pink bike was, but it has reflective paint, so it will be safer, and that is always a good thing!

Cutting Tips

Some of you may have noticed that Mosaic Moments dies leave a little bit of a mark on your photos.

That’s normal. It’s how the die-cutting machine works. It’s on all of my pictures, but I don’t think anyone notices. However, some scrappers do see it and it bothers them.

If you have the We R Memory Keepers Evolution Advanced machine, you can dial down the pressure and you will not get the marks.

But, if you’re like me and you have a Sizzix Big Shot or Vagabond and you love your machine and do not want to buy another, you have to deal with the marks.

Fortunately, I recently had a customer who came up with a solution. And, I made a video to show you how to avoid that mark with the crease pad. You can watch how to do it, here: https://youtu.be/wQV4mhVmfhk

And, if you have any other questions, feel free to ask away!

 

Ribbon for Parrots

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My cousin has five children … all of them are African parrots. There are three I love (I’ve never really bonded with the other two) Ferguson, Rudy and Sydney.

Rudy is my favorite. He’s tiny and adorable and he likes to dance.

Sydney is the most lovable. But, she loves too deeply, so these days, she has to stay behind bars.

Ferguson is the biggest and he is beautiful. He’s shy, but I did get him to eat off of my finger during my last visit!

Anyhow, I put together a page of my three favorite cousins with pictures from Christmas. They are so bright and colorful, it’s hard to find a way to scrapbook them. I finally settled on some simple stickers and made a border as a design element.

Naturally I made a video to show you how to add ribbon to the border … you can watch it here

The Ghostly Lighthouse

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I am so excited to share this layout with you. The story it tells is one of the most important things to have happened to me in a long time.

It is of the Seul Choix Point Lighthouse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on Lake Michigan. It is haunted and you can read of my experience with the ghost in the lighthouse. It was my first encounter with a ghost and had me shaken up for quite a bit, but that is just the sidebar to this story.

The real reason this will always be my favorite lighthouse is because it is here that I learned you can accomplish anything. It is here that I first pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of. And it is here that I conquered my fear of heights.

lighthouse-left-by-candy-spiegelA year ago, I was too afraid to climb up on the counter to clean the cabinets. And I was too fat and out of shape to walk up more than one flight of stairs — and I had to take a break halfway up in order to do that. Last June, after I lost 60 pounds and started walking, my husband took me to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to camp, hike and photograph nature and lighthouses. We stopped at this one, located at the tip of a peninsula far from anything but water. It was our first visit and, although eager to explore, we had to set up camp that evening, so we didn’t want to linger.

The lighthouse keepers were nice enough to let us take a shortened tour of the lighthouse and they told us we really needed to go all the way up to the top. At first I was eager, but then I learned it was 96 stairs to the top — and we were already up a flight of stairs from the ground. At first, I let my fears take over and I declined. I knew I couldn’t handle the climb, mentally or physically. But the tour guide kept on me until I gave in. I figured I could go up as far as my legs and fear of heights would let me go and then I would come back down.

lighthouse-right-by-candy-spiegelMy legs handled the steps with ease, but it didn’t take long for my fears to set in. About halfway up, something in me snapped. I suddenly had this urge to push forward. With my husband behind me assuring me I was OK and protecting me from falling backward (the main reason I was afraid of heights), I kept going. My heart was pounding so loudly, I was sure everyone could hear it. I was gasping for air and holding on to that railing for dear life. In full-blown panic attack mode, I climbed step after step after step, winding around and around the lighthouse as I continued my upward journey. I kept telling myself I could do it … chanting over and over in my head. My whole body was shaking and I was nearly in tears, but I made it to the top of that lighthouse and peered outside. I was practically paralyzed with fear and I had to go down the first few steps on my butt, but I did it.

That moment changed my life. Since that day, I have been up and down ladders, escalators and glass-sided elevators with ease. The fear of heights has been conquered.

But, more importantly, there is this new fire in me. I am no longer afraid to try anything new. I’m not afraid of failing. And I know, if I set my mind to it, I can do anything. It’s like I have finally given myself permission to “live” for the first time. And it is all thanks to that haunted lighthouse.

Yes, I did have a paranormal experience during this journey … you can read all about it, here … click on the photos to make them bigger.

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This story was written soon after the experience … before I felt the continued benefits of climbing all of those steps. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t think of that journey to the top of that lighthouse. I always say a little thank you to that guide for encouraging me to climb. Had it not been for him, I might not have learned to ice fish, ride a bike, shoot a gun, hike through the woods, kayak, swim in public or do any of the other things I have learned to do since that day at the Seul Choix Point Lighthouse. And I certainly wouldn’t be thinking of learning to rock climb or taking escalators just to prove to myself they no longer scare me!

Thank you.

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Baby Blue Jays

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Have you ever had one of those magical times in nature where you just happen to witness something spectacular? This was one of those times.

I was sitting on my back deck, enjoying a cup of coffee and watching my chickens play (a favorite pastime of mine). I had filled the bird feeders and given the chickens a little treat and then just sat back and relaxed. I was enjoying the cacophony of sounds from various feathered friends, but the blue jays were definitely the loudest. And then they came. Young jays flew onto my swing, the bird feeder, the shed and into and out of the nearby trees. I’m not sure how many I saw that day, but from the photos, it looked like at least two. They posed for photo after photo (this is about 1/4 of the ones I took) in between calling to friends or mom. Then, they would fly off and another would appear. They didn’t seem at all threatened by the chickens or the crazy lady on the porch. For about 20 minutes they posed and gathered sunflower seeds, while I photographed and studied them. It was incredible.

I, of course, used Mosaic Moments Grid Paper on this page. I find it is the perfect way to scrapbook when you have so many photos you want to use. The different size squares and rectangles allowed me to emphasize the important portions of each photo.

I also used layering dies to make the photo mats on this one. And, I even made a video to show you how I did it!