My travel wall

I’m so excited about my new travel wall. I had the idea to turn a little triangular wall in my downstairs workroom into a travel wall, inspired by my daughter’s wall in her living room, which is full of beautiful travel photos taken by her husband. So I picked out a bunch of my favorites (evenly vertical and horizontal) and had them printed as 8×10’s. Then I picked out a very skinny black frame, which would give definition to the photos but not take up much room, since it is a small wall.

Then I recruited help. My daughter and her husband agreed to come over on Sunday afternoon, and since that gave us four sets of hands to work with, we completed the task in a very short time. Before they arrived, we taped poster boards to the wall so we would know the shape and size we had to work with. Then I took down the poster boards and laid them on a table and started laying out the photos. The pattern I ended up with (alternating vertical and horizontal in a grid) worked nicely in the space and filled my need for symmetry. Once they arrived, we moved some of the pictures around so that we were all satisfied with the color flow, etc. Then all we had to do was pick a starting point, and armed with a level, a pencil, a handful of picture hangers,and an empty frame (so we would know where the nail needed to go), we got to work.

Here’s what the completed wall looks like. There are pictures of trips to Puerto Rico, Istanbul, Skyline Drive, New York City, Wintergreen Resort, New Hampshire, Germany, Washington DC, Rockport MA, Gunnison CO, and more!

Travel Wall

Every time I walk past the wall, I stop and gaze. I love looking at photos that remind me of wonderful trips we’ve taken as a couple or a family (and some that I took alone!). I am so blessed that we completed this project and thankful for the help my husband, daughter and son-in-law provided. It was a family effort and it was fun. And I LOVE the result! I even have a few spots left over for our upcoming family trip to Barcelona!

Until next time,

Grandmothers

I’ve been thinking lately about grandmothers. My best friend just became a grandmother to a sweet baby girl. Another friend’s first grandbaby (a boy) is due in a few weeks. None on my horizon as of yet, and that’s just fine (no hurry, girls!!).

But all the grandbaby talk got me thinking about my grandmother and my mom as a grandmother.

My grandmother was British. From the “old country”. She cared for her father and siblings after her mother died and she married my grandfather, who was Scottish, when she was an “old maid”. When my mom was a young child, their family came to America. They landed in Boston and built a new life there. I grew up in Connecticut, but all of our grandparents lived outside Boston, so we visited them regularly. My grandmother (“Nana Baird”) loved us lots, but she was very proper in her mannerisms. There were women that she had known for 50 years who she still didn’t call by their first names. She wore dresses, never pants and NEVER a bathing suit! I don’t remember her ever getting down on the floor and playing with us, but maybe she did. One memory stands out, though, as being out of the ordinary. I was visiting my grandparents when I was a tween-ager and she took me to see an Elvis Presley movie! Quite a departure for my proper grandmother. She lived with us when I was a teenager and I loved going into her apartment to talk after school or on the weekends. And she made AMAZING egg custard! So yummy.

Nana & Grampy

Nana & Grampy

Nana Baird

Nana Baird

My mom was a different kind of grandmother. She played on the floor (and in the pool). She went to a Water Park with us when she was in her late 70’s and rode all the rides with my kids. Even the “Bubba Tub”! She baked cookies, yes. But she also played Uno and Scrabble and Hide & Seek. She made Gingerbread Houses with the girls at Christmas and she and my dad took the older grandchildren camping with them in their RV. She mailed the Kids’ Page from her local newspaper to our girls so that they could do the games and puzzles and think of her. About a week before she died, she went with me to take the prom pictures of our younger daughter and her friends. She was amazed at the Paparazzi that appeared for the event (or was it the Mamarazzi?). She traveled, and she had fun.

Camping w-David H

With Grammy at the pool

Naptime with Grammy

Grammy & Becca

Making Gingerbread Houses

Neither was better; just different due to their times and lifestyle. I just discovered, when writing this blog, that my Grandmother was about the same age when I was ten as my mother was when my older daughter was ten.  So much had changed for women in those years!

I wonder what kind of grandmother I will be when it’s my turn? I’m sure it’ll be fun!

Until next time,

I’m a Photo Advisor – what does that mean?

I have realized lately that not everyone I know knows what I do. I realized this when a fellow Forever Ambassador (Lisa Kirkley) shared this story with us:

I once had a team member attending her first team meeting who saw a co-worker there that was on our team. After the meeting she came up to me in tears and said, “It’s not fair that she had known about this for three years and saw me every day and never shared the product or business with me.”

So, just so you can know what I do and can take advantage of it if you want to (or share it with someone else who may be interested), here goes:

I work with Creative Memories (yes, we are back and better than ever!) to help people preserve their photos and memories in beautiful albums; traditional style, the quick and easy “Fast2Fab” albums, and the even quicker and easier Slide-in Albums. None of us have perfect memories and just about every child (and most adults!) love seeing their lives and loves in an album before them. You can check out the latest from Creative Memories at www.creativememories.com/user/PhyllisOffenkrantz.

I also work with Forever, which has two avenues for preserving photos and memories.
We have digital organization software (Historian) and digital scrapbooking/design software (Artisan) which are inexpensive and easy to use. We also provide printing of those scrapbooks and projects and other items such as calendars and wall art.
Secondly, we offer permanent, cloud-based photo storage, which is free of data-mining and information-sharing to other companies, and is triple-backed-up and encrypted for safety. Your Forever account can be organized into “albums” so you can easily find the photo you are looking for. And because it’s also available on our Forever app, you can carry ALL of your photos with you without using up all of your phone’s memory.

As Nick Kelsh (photographer) says, there are two kinds of people in the world – people whose hard drives have crashed and people whose hard drives will crash sometime in the future. Losing a lifetime of photos due to hard drive crashes or flood or fire or theft would be so very sad – please take the time and energy to protect your photos and memories for the future. You can check out Forever at http://www.forever.com/ambassador/PhyllisO.

Well, now you know what I do. Let me know if I can help you!

Until next time,

It’s February – where’s the snow?

So, I was thinking this morning about my next blog post and what the topic would be, and I decided to write about the fact that it is February and supposed to be mid-40’s to mid 50’s for the next week or so. Although I like the warmth, it just doesn’t seem right to be this warm in February! When I logged into Facebook, it brought up my “memory” from six years ago – and it was a picture of a car covered in snow. Which got me thinking about other times when we go lots (or a little) snow.

This picture is from February, 2010. We called it “Snowmageddon”. So.much.snow! We had two really big (for us) storms that year and there was snow everywhere. Half of the parking lot spaces were unusable because they had to pile the snow somewhere! Let’s just say that even though the DC area is technically in the North, we don’t have the snow removal capacity that New England has! We lived on a cul-de-sac and couldn’t get out of our driveway for days because there was 3-4 feet of snow on the ground and our street was not exactly the first to get plowed!

Snowmageddon 02/08/2010

Snowmageddon 02/08/2010

Flash back to 1989. Jenni was almost two and we moved from New Jersey to Florida. In December, we bought a house in Orlando, which had an above-ground pool in the back yard. David was determined to have a picture taken of him in our pool on Christmas Day so he could send it to our relatives (in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Montana & Wisconsin) and torment them. Christmas Day arrived and IT BEGAN TO SNOW!   IN ORLANDO!   WHAT??? Everyone turned on their heat at the same time and blew out all the transformers. No one had electricity except for a few restaurants and hotels that had generators. So we all went to Denny’s, which had a generator (and a huge coffeepot set up in the entrance for people while they waited for a table) and had breakfast. By the time we were ready to cook Christmas dinner, the electricity was back on, but there was not pool picture that day! For some reason, I have no pictures of that snow on Christmas day, but my photo albums are full of snowy pictures from many other years!

I don’t know when we will get more than a dusting of snow this year, but I’m looking forward to it!

Stay warm,

Phyllis signature

Rusty!

So, I’m not really a dog person. I don’t hate dogs, I’m just not into them the way some people are. We had a great dog when I was growing up – a boxer named Freckles, who used to walk me to Kindergarten. But when Freckles died we didn’t get another dog and we pretty much became a cat family.

Fast forward many years to my married life. My husband really dislikes cats, so they were out. We lived in the suburbs and didn’t have a lot of space for a dog to run and didn’t want to commit to the walks and poop-picking-up and vet visits and the cost and, well, you get the picture.  So a dog was also out, tho he really likes dogs.

Once, for a school writing project, one of our daughters’ classes was asked to write about their pets. My daughter’s writing was short and sweet, “My mom doesn’t like dogs and my dad doesn’t like cats, so we don’t have any pets”. Period. End of story. Don’t remember what her grade was, but it was certainly accurate!

Fast forward again. Both daughters are grown up and married. Daughter who wrote such a succinct essay on her lack of pets has married a man who came with a dog. Rusty. Sweetest dog ever. I was prepared to tolerate Rusty because I love my daughter and her husband. I didn’t know I would love him! She knew I was toast when I offered for them to bring Rusty with them on their next visit. He stayed in our home. He napped on his blanket on our couch. My husband (who loves dogs) took him for a walk and, yes, picked up the poop.

Rusty is part of our family now and we all get a kick out of him (but he doesn’t stay at his “aunt and uncle’s” home, just ours). He’s funny and smart and chill and adorable. Really adorable. See?

Christmas

Christmas

Cuddly warm Rusty!

Cuddly warm Rusty!

Rusty in my guest bed

Rusty in my guest bed

Rusty's visit

Rusty’s visit

This is why we don't have nice things

This is why we don’t have nice things

Christmas

The whole famiy!

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post – I’ll do better this year!

Until next time,

Phyllis signature

There’s a whole lot of moving going on!

It’s been a moving year so far for our family!  This Spring, our daughter and her husband bought their first home. It needed a little work, so there was painting and carpeting and flooring (oh, my!) going on.  Some they did themselves, some they got help for.  It is lots bigger than the condo they were living in, so they’ve been having fun picking out furniture and filling it up with new favorites. There is lots of space to entertain, so their home has gotten a lot of fun use in the last few months.

Moving quote 3

We moved into our new home not too long after they moved. However, our new home is MUCH SMALLER than our old one. Seriously, much smaller.  Instead of picking our furniture and filling up our new house, we had to do some major downsizing.  We thought we had done enough downsizing before the move, but after we moved everything in, we found out we were wrong! We still had way too much stuff to fit in our new home. There is ONE spot for each item we have, and no spots for many of the items we had.

Moving quote 2

So how does moving into a new home have anything to do with “Holding on to the Memories”? Well, a lot of the things that were downsized were things that held memories.  That Duncan Pfyfe drop-leaf table? Held the plants at my parent’s home for most of my life. Then they gave it to me and I refinished it and used it in our (many) homes since then. No room for it in this house, so after consulting with the fam (and finding  out no one wanted it or had room for it), it had to go.  The secretary that was also from my parent’s home – you know, the one that I doodled on with a bobby pin while I was on a phone call as a teenager – thankfully our older daughter wanted it for their new home, so the memories will continue. Hopefully, if they refinish it, they won’t sand off the doodling. It’s part of its charm! Younger daughter is taking a mirror that was her grandmother’s (and an old torchiere lamp) because she and her husband are also moving this summer!  They are also downsizing, but most of their stuff is still too new to them to have a lot of emotional tug, so it’s a little easier for them!

I had to remember that the memories were what was important, and not every piece of stuff.  A few of those items stayed out in our garage for a while until I could wrap my head around getting rid of them. And some things I was really sad about. But I’m OK now, because I’m still able to pull up the memories (or go visit the bobby pin doodling at my daughter’s house!) whenever I want. And that’s really the important part, isn’t it?

Moving quote 1

Until next time,

Phyllis signature

What if I hate my handwriting?

How many times have I heard my customers and friends tell me that they don’t like to journal in their albums because they don’t like their handwriting. Typing is easier and more legible and faster! I can sympathize with that. My handwriting is ok, but it’s nothing to write home about. But I got to thinking the other day about handwritten communication and how we are losing it to emails and texts and Twitter and all the other types of non-written communication. But it is so important!

Here are two examples for you. The first is from my best friend, Paula. She has the most beautiful handwriting! So much prettier than mine. But the best part about it is that it is distinctively “her”. When an envelope arrives in the mail bearing that distinctive handwriting, I know that it is from her and that the contents will bless me. Just pulling the envelope out of the mailbox makes me happy once I see the handwriting!

TMP745922222

Second example – my mom. Her handwriting wasn’t as pretty as Paula’s, but again, it was distinctively “her”.  When I was a kid, I did a pretty good imitation of her signature. Oops, did I just admit that to the internet?

Mom's brownie recipe

My mother was a great letter-writer. When she was a young bride, she moved with my father from Boston to Connecticut, and wrote letters weekly to her mother and his mother, to let them know how and what they were doing. Oh, how I wish I had those letters today! When my dad was overseas in WWII, she wrote to him every day and mailed the letters weekly. He wrote to her once. And it contained a brief note saying that they were told to send home their Last Will and Testament. Amazingly, after he got home safely, he lived to tell the story! When I was in college, my mom and I wrote letters to each other. After she died, I found a shoe box in her home with all those letters from me in it. She had saved them all.

So, did my mom care that my handwriting wasn’t perfect? Do I care that hers wasn’t, either? Do my kids mind that mine isn’t as pretty as Paula’s? No and no and no! And probably none of the people in your lives care that yours isn’t perfect, either. So tell the stories, write the info, get it down on paper (in a scrapbook album, preferably!) and help keep the memories alive. If we don’t do that, the stories may very well die with us, and our families deserve to have their stories remembered.  If typing is easier for you (as it is for most of us), I have nothing against typing the stories – but include some of your handwriting in there somewhere! And if you are doing only digital albums, at some point add in a photo of your handwriting, just so it lives on.

Until next time,

Phyllis signature

 

A picture is worth a thousand words…

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words – but I say that’s only true if you use the words!  You see, I believe that it’s as important to journal the story behind the photo as it is to keep the photo itself.  Ever forgotten anything that happened in your life or your children’s lives? Yah, me too.  That’s why I think journaling is so important! It continues even when your memory doesn’t!

So, by way of an example, I will show you several of our family photos that are, without the story told, just nice photos. But, with the story told, they become an important family memory.

Kindergarten Show & Tel

This is our younger daughter when she was about two. Her sister had recently started Kindergarten and was told to bring her Show & Tell item to school in a brown paper bag. She wanted to bring her baby sister as her Show & Tell item, so I made a little dress out of a grocery bag and put it on her.  Needless to say, she didn’t like it. BUT the teacher loved it!

Skyline Drive

This just looks like a fun photo of my husband running through a meadow.  However, he was entertaining our children by singing, “The hills are alive with the sound of music” as he serpentined across the meadow at Skyline Drive, one of our favorite family places. It made them laugh then and it would probably make them laugh now, too!

Christmas presents

Dad had been working out of town a lot, so he did some Christmas shopping at the Dollar Store.  He gave the girls these tinsel thingies as a gag gift – and they immediately put them on their heads and pretended to be Lady Gaga. Great gift!

New England Aquarium

This just looks like a photo of an eel at an aquarium.  It is, but the back story is that my husband and I took about 50 photos of this giant but elusive eel before we got a good one.  The two of us were chasing the eel around the aquarium, trying to get a decent photo.  Finally got one! I’m sure folks thought we were nuts!

Becca Golf TV Star

Younger daughter again.  This is a screen shot from a local TV news segment, highlighting her participation in a local kids’ golf camp. Looks like great form, doesn’t it? She’s even watching the ball travel down the fairway. However, the ball was still on the ground in front of her! Totally wiffed it!

Jenni pink pants

Jenni pink pants

And finally, the story behind #1 Daughter’s nickname. My husband was working in Germany and he would come home one week per month. One month, the company paid to send the three of us to Germany (coach, of course) instead of sending him home (Business Class) because the price was about the same.  We went to a consignment store across from the hotel and Daughter #1 found a pair of skin-tight pink pleather snakeskin pants – and asked if we could buy them. We were all shocked when her dad said, “Sure!” She wore them to school (8th grade) when we got home and she rocked them. Even teachers were stopping her in the hall to tell her they loved her pants. From that day on, she has been known as “Jenni Pink Pants” and for a long time, her license plate was PNKPNTS.

Now, what if you don’t  like your handwriting? Many people don’t like to journal in their albums or prefer to do it on the computer because they don’t like the way their handwriting looks. Well, that will be the topic for my next blog, so keep your eyes open for it!

Until then,

Phyllis signature

Ooh Rah!

This weekend, my husband did something amazing. At 57 years old, he ran his first Marathon – the 40th Anniversary Marine Corps Marathon here in D.C. I’m so proud of what he accomplished and the hard work it took to get him there. You see, he only started running about two years ago! From 0 to 26.2 miles in two years! Now you know why I’m so proud!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there to see him run or cheer him on, because I was representing our family at a close friend’s wedding. So, other friends pitched in and waited for him at the 23 mile mark, to give him some encouragement.

Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon

After he started running races, we started making a running scrapbook for him. He takes pictures during/after the race (or I get them from the Internet, if he doesn’t take any) and he gives me his bib, medals and T-shirts to photograph and put in the album. Then, he journals about the race (on the computer, not by hand). I love the book because it shows how hard he works and how much satisfaction it gives him.

Here are some of the pages from his running book:

David's running book

David’s running book

David's running book

David’s running book

David's running book

David’s running book

David's running book

David’s running book

David's running book

David’s running book

And here are some of the items that will be added for the Marine Corps Marathon race. I think this race will be four pages instead two like the others, because I have more pictures from my friends and he has a lot to say about it!

Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon

So proud of my guy.

Until next time,

Phyllis signature

It’s Fall, y’all!

Growing up in Connecticut, I was totally used to seeing four seasons every year. (I was also totally unused to saying y’all, but that’s a story for another day!)

I left Connecticut when I was 18 and since then have lived in Rhode Island (four seasons), New Jersey (four seasons), Kansas (four seasons), Ohio (four seasons), Florida (two seasons; hot and not quite as hot), New York (four seasons), New Jersey again (four seasons), Florida again, Ohio again (four seasons), then to Richmond VA (four seasons, but all of them fairly mild), and finally to Northern Virginia, outside Washington, DC. We have four seasons here, and I really like that. Just about the time I am getting tired of being cold, it becomes Spring! And just about the time I’m getting tired of being hot, it’s fall!

I think one of the things I love about Spring and Fall is how pretty everything becomes. In Spring, all the trees and flowers are in bloom (achoo!) and in the Fall, everything turns beautiful colors. My husband and I love to go for drives in the country and when we go in the Fall, I usually end up taking pictures. Here are some of my favorites from over the years (Please note: early pictures were taken with crummy camera and are old so color is not as great as it should be. But I still like them!)

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Shenandoah weekend

Photo class pic's

Washington, DC

Canaan Valley

Canaan Valley

Canaan Valley

Canaan Valley

So, go enjoy Fall, y’all!  Get outside in the nice, crisp air and take some pictures. If you don’t get pretty colors where you live, take pictures anyway. I know I will!

Until next time,

Phyllis signature