About Nancy

Enjoy the little things in life, because someday you'll look back and realize they were the big things.

If We Were Having Coffee…9/25/22 -Fall Has Arrived!

Good morning friends!

If we were having coffee…I would welcome you to a crisp fall day here in Southern NJ…finally! Don’t get me wrong, I love summer, especially the part where I get to stay home and play instead of going to work, but, I was dead tired of the heat and humidity. I felt like it was extra oppressive this summer. Perhaps my age is catching up with me! Anyway, on Friday the weather took a turn and today is a high of 79. The doors are open and the air-conditioned is off. Hallelujah!

What do you all have going for this fine Sunday? Our plan for today is simple. It is an Philadelphia Eagles game day, which is a major event for my husband and I suppose for the rest of the family too (but mostly my husband 🙂 ) so we will be watching this afternoon all suited up in our green and keeping our fingers crossed for a win. In between, I’ll do laundry, a bit of cleaning and basically catch up with my life. Today is a stay at home day. Yesterday I did my running around.

Running around was actually just a trip to the mall but it felt like a big deal because I don’t go that often anymore. I desperately hate shopping for myself and that’s what I was doing-nothing major, just a fall jacket and maybe some tops for work. So, I literally walked from one end of the mall to the other and I’ve come to the conclusion that my body and my taste are out of style. Nothing looked like something I would wear. Plus, and tell me if you all are finding this too, every store looked understocked and messy, which made the whole thing even more depressing. I understand that many places are understaffed (still trying to figure out where all the pre-pandemic workers have gone to. Don’t they still need to make money? I know I do. ) and that many people have gone to online shopping (hard to try stuff on that way) but still it was very discouraging. My dream would be to have a personal stylist fill my closet with clothes that I love and that fit me perfectly. Probably not going to happen, huh?

Oh well. It’s still a beautiful day and it’s time I got moving. Thanks for stopping by. Please let me know what you’ve all been up to and don’t forget to visit the rest of the Coffee Share Post and our host Natalie The Explorer.

If We Were Having Coffee…9/10/22

Hi Friends! This is my first Coffee Share post in some time. Hope I remember how it’s done.

If we were having coffee…I would welcome you to a beautiful sunny day here in Southern New Jersey. My family tells me the tempature not quite as warm as it has been but I’ve been hiding in the house all day so I wouldn’t really know. I’m hiding because my body is recovering from my first week back at work. I feel kind of like a wimp for complaining since I did have two and a half months off and it was only a four day week but there you are.

I bet you’ve figured out that I work in a school, an elementary school to be exact. My job is that of an instructional aide which mostly means that I help out wherever needed. This year that location is in our fifth grade classroom. We have students from second to fifth in our school so that makes fifth grade the final stop before we ship them off to the scary, unknown land of Middle School! The teacher that I am working with has the reputation of being the “meanest teacher in the school!” She know this and is quite alright with it. What it really means is that she expects the students to work their hardest and to follow the rules. If they Personally, I’m very fond of her and most of the students will be too once they get to know her.

This is a new kind of school year for my family because in June my husband retired after 30 years as a middle school counselor so his September looked very different from mine. He is only 59 years old and not the kind of guy to sit around so he has already started a new job. In fact he has two because he it also teaching a class at a college down in Delaware. Needless to say, he is busier now than before but because he works from home part of the time now, he’s always underfoot! That will take some getting used to.

My son is finishing up his last six months of internship to become a school counselor (like his dad 🙂 ) and my daughter works as an administrative assistant at another of our local schools so we all are now marching to a different drummer that my husband. The dinner conversations are a little different and the change in working hours is difficult sometimes. It also is weird to think that next summer he will just keep working unlike the last 28 summers of our marriage. It’s a new phase of life but we’ll get used to it.

Change is good.

*Please visit our host Natalie the Explorer and the rest of the Coffee Share Posts

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The Road Taken

The very definition of day to day existence is making choices. Every one of us has been faced at least once, if not many times with a choice of roads. Often one path is obviously the happier, healthier choice but other times, each has it’s own appeal.

I was reminded of this while scrolling through some photos my daughter had taken during a trip we made earlier this week. Miss Dee has a clever eye and a fancy camera with lots of gadgets so she captures things in a way I don’t always stop to see. These two photos are an example of this.

Each image shows a straight path, dappled in sunshine, inviting and fresh but, they are also very different. One is clean and straight, the other bushy and cluttered. I truly can’t decide which I like the most. Truth be told, as it is with many choices we make every day, each one would probably lead somewhere interesting. You just have to decide which journey is right for you.

Which path would you chose?

https://www.groundsforsculpture.org/

Never too Old to Learn

Image

During the middle of the pandemic, back in 2020, I was stuck at home like everyone else. Oddly enough, I didn’t mind too much. Being an introvert, home is my happy place and as long as I had a way to keep busy I was okay. I turned to the thing that has eased my anxiety and cluttered mind since I was a child: ART.

Wet on wet technique, great for making reflections in the water

Drawing had been a passion all my life but adulting, things like raising my children and paying the bills, had pushed this aside for many years. By 2020, my children were out of college and they, along with my husband and myself were hanging out, working from home, so I decided to jump start my creative side. This came in the form of a medium I had always wanted to try but found rather daunting: watercolor.

Portrait for a friend. Learned a lot about mixing watercolor paint with pencil and about shadows and reflections.
Learning to paint more loose.

Bless the internet and, particularly, YouTube because there were endless sources for finding the ins and outs of this beautiful art form. As a teenager and college student, I had learned about painting in acrylics and oils. Some of the ideas there did carry over but others (like the ability to “fix” a mistake by simply painting over it) did not. Needless to say, there were some frustrating moments and lots of disastrous paintings that became lots of scrap paper! Eventually, I began to get comfortable with my results. I was amazed at how much there was to learn just about this one medium. Things I needed to think about and all the exciting techniques that resulted in such different looks and styles. I still struggle with things both related to and not related to watercolor itself like finding a good composition, or the correct balance of lights and darks. I also need to learn when to stop, something very important in this medium because overworking a watercolor painting is just the worst! I’ve come to a point where I’m happy with a good percentage of the finished paintings but, even two years later, I am still finding many new adventures and new skills that I can practice.

The first painting I sold. It was fun to experiment with the pops of color.

After several months of creating and experimenting, the art work began to pile up and I was inspired to open a shop on Etsy in order to sell some of the finished pieces. So far it’s been a modest success. I will never get rich, but I’ve been able to share some pieces and create many commissioned one of a kind watercolors that have, hopefully, brought joy to the people who own them.

Playing with shadows experimenting with water

That said, I know, even as I approach my 60th year, a fact that still sends my head spinning some days, that, no matter how old I am, there is still SO much more I can learn. Possibly, that holds true for life in general, wherever or whenever you find your passion.

CuriousKatStudio

If We Were Having Coffee 10/10/20: Pumpkins and Hay Bales

Happy Saturday morning, Friends! I’ve been absent for a bit taking care of life but I’m so happy we have time for a quick cup of coffee and a catch-up. I’m having a nice strong up of Italian Roast (periodically reheated in the microwave ’cause I like my Java hot!) but there is also tea and lemonade. Unfortunately we have no homemade baked goods today but I’m hoping Miss Dee will whip up some sugar cookies later today.

Let’s chat

If we were having coffee… I would tell you about my first week of hybrid school and all the challenges it entails. Whew! What a crazy teaching experience that is. We have half the students on Monday and Tuesday from 8:20 to 12:20 then the other half at the same time on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is fully virtual. The teachers have to plan lessons for the children at this time plus have something planned for the other group in during the time they are at home. Basically, they are doing twice the lesson plans all while managing to fit in hand washing, mask breaks, technical help and actually learning during a 4 hour day! As a classroom aide, I can help with some of these things but I really wish there was more I could do to take some of the workload off the teacher I’m with. I give all the teachers out there immense credit for their patience and dedication to the students.

How are the schools in your area handling this crazy academic year?

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that we welcomed a new family member this week. On Thursday morning, my niece’s wife gave birth to their second daughter. Her name is Emily Claire and she weighed in at a generous 9lb 8oz! We all can’t wait to meet her.

Any exciting family news to share?

If we were having coffee…I tell you that my brother, who lives out in Oklahoma, finally retired this Friday. He works as an automobile mechanic and has been talking about retiring for years but just wasn’t able to financially till he was the right age. It’s a pretty physical job and his aches and pains were telling him it was time to relax some. I’m so happy he finally can. My two sisters and I were able to have a surprise video chat with him during his retirement party at his daughter’s house. She had texted me with the idea earlier in the week so I coordinated with my technically challenged sisters and Miss Dee and I were able to get us all on board at the right time. Luckily I’ve had lots of experience with Zoom and Google Meet since school went virtual in March!

Jim, my brother, was very surprised to “see” us and we had a nice chat. We were also able to meet his grandchildren and great granddaughter thanks to the magic of technology. What a great way for families far apart to keep in touch. I don’t always love all the technical advances around today but this was a time I did truly appreciate it.

Are you a technical person? Is the internet your friend or your enemy? 🙂

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that I’ve been feeling “Fall-ish” now that our area is finally having some cooler weather. Miss Dee put up some Autumn decorations around the house and D-man added some ghosts and pumpkins to the porch. The folks in our town really get into the whole decorating thing so it’s fun to walk around and see what they’ve come up with. Down the street there is a lawn with a skeleton holding a fishing pole dangling a skeleton fish in front of a group of skeleton cats! Further down the block is a skeleton unicorn being ridden by a skeleton princess complete with a ball gown and tiara! There are also plenty of giant spiders, Hay bales and pumpkins. It makes our after dinner walks so much more enjoyable. My latest watercolor even reflect my Fall-ish state of mind…

Are you experiencing Autumn weather where you live? Do you and your neighbors decorate for the season?

If we were having coffee…it would be time to rinse the cups and say our goodbyes. The day here in New Jersey is cloudy and cool but no rain is expected so there are several outdoor jobs calling my name. I’m so glad you could stop by. Please visit our host Eclectic Ali to enjoy the rest of the Coffee Share Post.

Have a great week!

When Vacations Were a Thing

I finished this painting last week. It’s kind of a quirky subject for a still life but I’m pretty happy with the results. The photo I based it on was taken by my daughter when she was just 13. It was a lot of fun to create for a couple of reasons.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/840895152/original-watercolor-painting-morning?ref=shop_home_feat_2&frs=1

First off, the morning light coming in the window created such great shadows and highlights. Also, creating the reflections of the pillow and curtain on the glass was something I’d never tried before. I’m always much more motivated to do something if I can learn new skills and techniques. This provided some good challenges.

The second reason I enjoyed it so much were the memories associated with the subject matter. As I said, Miss Dee took the original photo a little over seven years ago when we were on a family cruise to Bermuda. This past June I was all booked to take a very similar cruise with my sisters and best friend but, I guess we know that didn’t work out. 😦 We are hoping to reschedule next year. In the meantime thinking about my last trip there was a nice distraction.

Miss Dee’s photo was taken the morning we docked in King’s Wharf on the island of Bermuda. This would have been day three of a five day cruise. We awoke to find a Tugboat tooting outside the window as it, and a few of it’s friends guided us into port. The rest of the day was just as surprising.

After enjoying breakfast aboard the ship we disembarked and began to explore. We started with a slightly scary bus ride (I don’t think there are any traffic laws in Bermuda) to Horseshoe Bay Beach on the other side of the island. We were told that it was quite beautiful and well worth the ride and it certainly was. The sand was pink and the water was warm, crystal clear and perfectly still. Being from New Jersey, I’m accustomed to dodging riptides and trying not to get knocked over by incoming waves. This was a nice change. Even more impressive though, were the rock formations that stood right off the beach. Some were like hidden little tunnels that you could swim through. After a few hours, enjoying the sun and the water, we showered in the available bathhouses which were very clean and well maintained and took a taxi into the town of Hamilton. The taxi ride was much less scary although the people who get around by scooter in Bermuda must have no fear at all! They seem to zig-zag in front of traffic without even looking.

Scrapbook Page. I can’t believe how young we all look!
Miss Dee looking super cute posing with the rocks at Horseshoe Bay.

Hamilton, the Capital city, is a quaint little colonial town with lots of historic Stone buildings, restaurants and shops to explore. We had a snack then took a walk through the Queen’s Gardens in the center of town. The tropical flowers were amazing! I’d never seen such bright beautiful colors. Miss Dee took some very nice photos there too. By late afternoon, we were all getting tired and decided to head back to the ship for dinner. No taxi or bus was needed though. Kings Wharf Royal Dock Yard was just across The Great Sound from Hamilton so we were able to take a water taxi back to the ship. That was a lovely way to end the day.

Hamilton
Beautiful Queen’s Gardens

The next day we took an excursion on a glass bottom boat. It was really incredible to see all the fish, Coral and even a few sunken ships below the blue water off Kings Wharf. The tour guide was so informative about the various fish and sea creatures we saw. I also learned that Bermuda isn’t actually one continuous landmass but instead a collection of 181 different islets and small islands. There were snacks and sodas served during the two hour tour and the D-man and I even received a complimentary cocktail with coconut rum as part of the excursion packet.

Such blue, blue water!

Even though we still had two days left on our cruise, we were a bit sad when the ship left dock at two that afternoon. It felt like there was so much more of Bermuda to explore. When Mr D graduated from college last year we chipped in with his grandparents and sent him and his girl on the same Cruise that we had taken. They saw some things there that were new since we had been there. I’m hoping, if I get to go next year, I’ll see even more. By then, maybe vacations will be a thing again. 🙂

If We Were Having Coffee 8/15/20…

Good morning friends! Welcome to a cloudy but, thankfully, less humid day here in Southern New Jersey. We can virtually catch up over coffee and my husband’s homemade blueberry muffins. Sit. Relax. Let’s chat!

If we were having coffee...you would have joined me in waving to Mr D as he headed out the door a few minutes ago. He and some friends are off to the beach for the day. It’s a bit cloudy here but apparently 70 miles to the east there is part sun. I don’t know if it matters though. A day at the beach is still a day at the beach. I’m glad he will have something fun to do since it’s been a tough week for him. His girlfriend moved up to Syracuse NY this week to do a two month rotation for her Athletic Trainer’s degree at Syracuse University. Two months is a long time when you’re 25 so neither one was very happy about the placement but they knew it was a great opportunity for her to train at a really good school. They’re both really responsible young adults and have been together a few years now (I’m pretty sure it will eventually lead to the altar) so they will manage this hump just fine but in the meantime we have to live with a slightly grumpy guy! Like I said, I’m glad he’s off to the beach for the day. 🙂

If we were having coffee...I would tell you that Miss D and I are planning to walk uptown later and visit a new cookie shop that opened last weekend. “Is there anything better than a cookie shop?” you might ask. My answer would be “Only a bookstore would be better” and, guess what? We’re getting one of those too! It will be called “Words Matter Books” and the owner is now finishing up work that was slowed down due to the shelter in place. Hopefully they will open in the next few weeks. I can’t wait! In the past year the uptown business district has added an Antique Store, an English Pub and a ladies clothing boutique. Now we have the cookie shop and the bookstore added to the already established ceramic studio, pharmacy, bakery, homemade Ice Cream Shoppe, and several other eateries all three blocks from my house! This is one advantage to living in a small town.

Of course small town living certainly has it’s disadvantages too. Other than the fact that everyone seems to know your business, our population, teaching staff and business owners are embarrassingly undiverse. This is something we newer folks have been battling for years. Finally it looks like it is being addressed with a new committee on diversity and inclusion being added to the town board. I have noticed in the past few years that we’ve been inching in the right direction electing young forward thinking council people who are dragging the town into the present. There are many families that have lived here for generations (we moved in a mere 17 years ago) and some tend to be a bit stuffy and slow to change. Hopefully the archaic views are on their way out. I guess time will tell.

Anyway…

If we were having coffee… I would probably look around and realize that the day has started without me. I would love to chat longer but I really should attempt to clean some things and be productive. I’m glad we had time to visit though because after six months sheltering at home my world view has begun to narrow. These coffee shares have become extra important. They act as a window to the events outside my walls and beyond my porch. I plan on visiting some of the other posts over at our host site Eclectic Ali. Please try and stop by as well.

Thanks for visiting!!

If We Were Having Coffee…8/1/20: Beaches and Babies

Good morning friends! I’m so glad you stopped by. It’s been a while. Have a seat and I’ll get you a nice strong cup of French roast coffee or perhaps tea if you prefer. There is raspberry strudel or donuts so please help yourself. Here in Southern New Jersey we are still experiencing the season we refer to as “Hell’s Front Porch” so I’m thinking an indoor virtual visit would be advisable. 🙂 Tell me, what have you been up to? Have there been more “ups” than “downs” over the past few weeks? I hope so.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that my family and I were lucky enough to spend a few days at the beach this week (or rather, down the shore, as we say around here.) The weather was hot, hot, hot but it was still so wonderful to be away, to be somewhere other than this house! My husband’s step mother owns a condo in a small shore town that she generously shares with the rest of the family and this week was our turn. The beach is only a block away and there is a lovely built in pool just steps from her front door. We were there during the middle of the week so it was quite empty. This worked out well for us because with the virus concerns, they are only allowing 12 people in the pool at a time. As it turned out, the four of us had it to ourselves for the most part. It was a wonderfully relaxing three days and we all came back feeling refreshed.

Have you been able to get away recently? What is your favorite vacation spot?

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that the progress on our new deck that I spoke of in my last coffee share post, had stalled for the time being. We needed to order covers for our existing rail posts and the company is unable to deliver until the second week of August. I’m actually quite happy with the delay because I would rather not have the D-Man and Mr D out there working in this heat. Maybe the weather will break by then. I surely hope so. I miss being able to take walks or work in the yard.

How is the weather in your part of the world?

If we were having coffee…I would fill you in on all the new baby news around here. In my opinion, new babies make everything better! Our neighbors recently welcomed a new granddaughter named Ellery (love this name!) She was born a few weeks early and needed to stay in the NICU for a bit till her weight came up but she is thankfully home now with Mom and Dad. They drove out to Ohio to meet her this week and are simply over the moon!

Baby number two, also a little girl named Lillian, was born to our friends who after years of infertility treatments and 26 hours of labor followed by an emergency C section, are finally able to experience the joys of parenthood. My heart warms with each photo I see if them with their new baby and I’m looking forward to meeting her in person.

Baby number three is actually a “baby to be.” One of Mr D’s best friends from High School and his wife are expecting their first and are a week overdue! We are all waiting anxiously for news. There is talk of inducing her this week. I hope so because the poor girl is looking very uncomfortable. I admit, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of my son’s childhood friend becoming a father but they are both 25 now so I guess I should start getting used to the idea. Not quite ready to be a grandmother myself yet….

And the final baby is one that is in the works, not due till October but still a topic of discussion around here. My niece and her partner are expecting their second daughter. Older sister Juliana, age 6, is so excited! My sister is planning on throwing them a “sprinkle,” which is apparently a new type of shower that you have for a second baby?! Miss D and I have been enlisted to help with party theme and favors. All of this, of course depends on what the situation is virus wise in September.

Lots of babies, right?! How about you? Is your, or your extended family growing?

I guess that’s all the news for now. I do have some cleaning and laundry to do. I’m so glad you stopped by and I hope you will swing by Eclectic Ali, our host site and catch up with the other Coffee Share Posts.

Be well, stay safe and have a good week. ❤

Summer Art

My sister is a crafter and a beach lover. Each year she combines these loves by taking part in a huge craft fair on the Wildwood boardwalk. This New Jersey shore town is a big tourist destination and the crowds insure she has lots of sales. Months ago when we started quarantine she suggested I use my abundant spare time to paint more pictures of the beach, the Jersey shore in particular, that she could add to her already beach themed inventory. So I did. Well, needless to say, this year, the crowds at the Craft Fair will be much small if it takes place at all. As a result, I’ve got all this Summer Art with no place to go!

I’ve always been a beach baby and every vacation I ever had as a child took place in Wildwood or one of the other towns along the coast. It’s my happy place so spending my time thinking about it and creating art representing it really wasn’t much of a hardship. When I think about it, it was more likely a form of therapy. Painting in general, has become my form of stress reduction during this crazy time.

Circumstances have decided that I won’t be sharing my beach paintings with the good people of Wildwood this summer so I thought I’d share a few here. I hope you all have a place that makes you feel as peaceful and centered as sea makes me feel. This quote which has been on my kitchen memo board since the summer began, says it all…

Smell the Sea and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly!

Sunrise in North Wildwood
This was inspired by a photograph of my brother-in-law and his granddaughter.
West Coast beach art-Sunset over the Santa Monica Pier. This was from a photo I took during my trip to Hollywood.
Morning walk along the beach in Ocean City, NJ

All images available at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CuriousKatStudio?ref=search_shop_redirect