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!

It’s Just Awesome

awesome_by_candyspiegel

I love this paper from Pink Fresh Studio. The minute I saw it, I knew it would be perfect for photos of a trip to the city. Fortunately, for me, my daughter went to NYC to visit her brother and I had a chance to use this awesome paper!

awesome3bycandyspiegel

I love how the words and stripes are “cut” from a photo of skyscrapers. It adds such a great touch.

For the right side, I covered up the word awesome with a stack of photos. I like how it gives the illusion that the stripes go completely across the page.

awesome2bycandyspiegel

Because the paper was already so dramatic, I kept the embellishments simple … I added a few wood tiles with gold embossing on them (also from Pink Fresh Studio).

I think this page “totally rocks!”

For more information on products from Pink Fresh Studio, visit Bayview Scrappers.

The Ghostly Lighthouse

lighthouse-by-candy-spiegel

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.

lighthouse-journaling

lighthouse-journaling-2

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.

lighthouse-by-candy-spiegel

Workin’ on the Railroad

pewamo

I have a strange fascination with trains. I love the sound of them, the way the ground shakes as they go by, and even the clicking of the flashing red lights on the crossing signal. I’m probably one of few people who enjoys being stopped for a train. And, it doesn’t matter the size. I love miniature trains. hobby trains and the ones designed for children at the mall. Heck, even a rubber stamp of a train excites me!

I knew I found the perfect man to marry when, for our second date, he took me to a beautiful depot in a neighboring town I hadn’t known existed. Somehow he knew I loved history and trains and planned accordingly! Nearly 13 years later, he continues to humor me by stopping at every depot and/or train we come near.

This trip, obviously a few years ago by my weight, was to purchase a chicken trailer he found on Craigslist. We were in the middle of nowhere and the only town anywhere around was the tiny town of Pewamo. You can see the entire town in the picture above. About the only thing it had was the head of a rails-to-trails office, bathroom and parking lot dedicated to the town’s train history. The building was a replica of the depot that once stood there; you could climb on old railroad equipment; and turn the signal on. Of course, Matt stopped and I was in train heaven!

I carried the photos around for a long time because I wanted just the right thing for the page.

I found it in a die from Mosaic Moments. The “X” from the X & O Set is the perfect touch. It looks like the railroad crossing sign.

I made a video, here, so you can see how I used it.

Potter Street Station

potter-street-station

I think this is my favorite layout ever … It has all of the elements of a great Mosaic Moments photo — close up photos, distance photos, photos of details and perfect color choices. It features Potter Street Station in Saginaw, Mich. This glorious old train station has endured abandonment and a fire, but there are still real efforts to preserve and restore the beautiful building.

I took these photos several years ago … we were on our way somewhere and drove by and I made Matt stop, turn around and go back so I could take photos of one of the most incredible abandoned buildings I had ever seen. Fortunately, he loves me and he endures my whims.

So, for years, I have been carrying around these photos, never finding the right time or place to turn them into a layout.

When I ordered the new Square Diamond Frame Set from Mosaic Moments, I knew it would make a nice page, but even I was surprised at just how magnificent it turned out!

Naturally, I made a video to show you how I created the page … click here to watch.

Note: I did receive compensation for making this video.

This die is currently sold out at MosaicMoments.com, but I have a few in stock, if you would like one.

Apple Inspiration

applewood3

Today I am sharing a technique I learned from a customer while teaching her how to create a Mosaic Moments page. She gave me permission to publish her page, and the idea, but asked me to leave her name off, so I am. But she knows how brilliant this idea is!

Her page is of her tour to Applewood, a mansion owned by a famous Flint family. (sorry for the photography … I took these pictures at a crop with my phone, but you will still get the idea) The large green space is where her journaling will go … And, you should know this is her first page using the Mosaic Moments system. She used the dies to create the entire page.

She wanted to carry the theme of apples through the page. And she brought this paper to incorporate …

applewood1

As soon as I used the new Pumpkin Harvest Die Set from Mosaic Moments, I thought the smaller pumpkins could easily be used as apples, if cut from red or green paper. But I hadn’t had a chance to try it yet …

applewood2

When I showed her the die and told her my idea, she agreed. She asked if she should cut them from green paper. I thought she meant the same green paper she used for the journaling square and told her that would be perfect. So, I was a bit surprised when I helped another customer and came back and saw she cut from the printed apple paper.

applewood4

Yes, I have cut from patterned paper before, but I have never thought of using a large-scale apple paper to cut tiny apples. When I saw it, I fell in love! It adds so much depth and elegance to the die cuts. And, it didn’t matter where she cut — the bottom one above has a stem in it, but it still looks fabulous.

Thanks for teaching me a new tip, what’s-her-name! Thank you for letting me share it with my readers! And, congratulations on creating your first Mosaic Moments page!