Christmas Eve at our house 2015

 It's a quiet Xmas eve. All the decorating is done, and presents are wrapped though several still need gift tags. Time for that in the morning. I made New York slice bars, but no other cooking though may make some shortbread and an Ohio lemon pie before New Years Eve. With Cal recovering and school, it has just been an unambitious Christmas season. No concerts nor special events. Cal and I do not plan to exchange gifts; we pretty much leave that for birthdays only. If it were not for son, Joseph Charles Heffernan Jr., nothing Xmas would have been done at all. Thanks, Joe! It's so delightful to have the decorated house looking so much like Christmas. Joe was here helping with some last minute things this afternoon and stayed for a nice steak dinner with us. Later, Joe and I made some cards with Christmas music in the background, and the football game was playing. Just simple designs with supplies from my stash much is years old!). I'll grab some photos of mine in the am for this post (as above), just too tired now. Cal is recovering quickly from the knee replacement. He even helped cook the steaks tonight. Our other Joe will be here with his family tomorrow am, and they said they are bringing ingredients and will be making a bacon and egg breakfast and Mimosas! The grandkids are apparently going to clean up. Sounds delightful. I got sandwich fixings, cookies and chocolates for the holiday weekend. Cooking is not my thing! OK, you know I do fix the occasional dish; but, I'm not a regular chef. I'm looking forward to a nice quiet holiday weekend at home with family.
Wishes for Peace on Earth as I say good night tonight.

Getting ready for the holidays - decorating the house

Joe and I are still decorating for the holidays. We have a lot done. Joe started outdoors with a wreath on the door and some lights. Simple but nice. The indoor decor is also much as always. There is a  heavenly host of Barbie dolls; stockings hung near the fireplace represent all the family members, and Joe put those 500 ornaments on the tree and wrapped several presents.  The 3 French Hens sit on the buffet in the dining room. The table needs to be cleared to lay out the rest of the 12 days of Christmas tableware. It's slow but steady work. Nonetheless, I love how it all comes together. 

2015, coming to a close and an essay on resiliency

Nice to have Cal come home from rehab. He had his right knee replaced a week ago. He is doing well. I hope it makes as much difference for him as it did for me. I got more active than I had been, so I lost more weight. Best of all was how the operation reduced the pain in my life, too. Amazing, how we let things get so bad before fixing them. Of course, modern knee surgery is excellent. Cal and I had the same rock star surgeon, too. Still, having operative procedures is very emotionally tough. I'm not sure I'd repeat the operations done this year even though I'm delighted with the results. Cal says much the same thing.
I am fortunate to have a stalwart life partner in Cal. He is kind, forgiving and a dear friend, too. On the other hand, he does try my patience at times. I was upset with him about his attitude about life and was going to complain; but, have edited this paragraph. Today he was much more hopeful about life; and, I realized that the statements he was making before surgery and since had more to do with facing the procedure and the pain and not with giving up. He seems hopeful; so, I think he is on the road to recovery. I look forward to some fun times and fun travels ahead!
Also, thank goodness school is out. Straight A's! Well, I did withdraw from one class, four was just too much, or I might not have had those straight A's. I have several things planned for this week, not the least of which is getting ready for Christmas. The kids all have busy schedules and will be dropping by at different times. So, we will have a perpetual holiday open house it seems! Lots of food ordered. We will not be hungry.
I've been reflecting on this past year. Lots of ups and downs. I did not realize the impact of becoming a senior citizen would have on my life. It changed my perspective on so much! I wish I had suddenly become wiser and more at peace; but, it is not so, sigh! 
I have been doing a lot of philosophical thinking lately about some topics, such as friendship, disappointments, getting older and resiliency. Writing my thoughts down has helped me sort through some things.  

An Essay on Resiliency

I know my strengths; yet, at times, know that I am fragile and wonder how I have not broken into a million pieces. Nevertheless, bits of Karen are not scattered everywhere. I remain whole. My surface has taken on a fine network of cracks, a craze (ironically, situations like I will describe can lead to some temporary insanity) and over time, that exterior has developed a well-worn and rich patina. Some people say that pain and tribulation shape us and good experience adds to our form. Deep in our core, loving ourselves, we develop the substrate that holds our parts together. Sometimes, we find something or someone outside ourselves which prop us up and help bind the broken bits. Regrettably, that external fix can leave us with a weak and vulnerable spot. I had a friend, who lives across the country (Penfield, New York; I live in Sacramento, California), to whom I revealed a significant break and hurt. My friend said I did not deserve such pain. However, I discovered that those words of comfort meant, to the speaker, that "only they" were free to inflict more of that same pain. Why our existence, like a Roy Lichtenstein painting, is full of comic melodrama seems weird. Life can be that, very bizarre. When I reacted with hurt, frustration and anger to a broken promise, I revealed a secret story of even more betrayal. It was an over-reaction, true. Telling the truth, revealing a secret though it was my secret, too, made me the villain. I admit, I was ugly about it. Betraying a confidence was out of character for me, too. Then again, I had never let myself feel free to be so hurt and angry before. I knew that the result was too often "kill the messenger.” I understand that reaction. It does serve to move attention from the bigger deeper problem to one more immediate and solvable. My friend informed me there were fatal consequences to my actions; my response meant the loss of everything. (The story about losing the dog in particular really got to me.) I am a woman, and of a generation where we learned, and we are expected, to take our hurts and keep them quiet. Speaking up makes us, not the perpetrator, evil. Of course, this conditioning also made me worried; I tried to learn if I truly had caused my friend grief. Those efforts solidified me as "the bad guy". However, it helped me discover that much of the story was indeed melodrama; solely, to cause me anguish. I have felt pain; but, am not shattered. There are a lot of rough and jagged bits; there are regrets. Sadly, while my friend has a life philosophy predicated on seeking mercy (“It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”), I doubt my friend's philosophy extends to granting forgiveness to others. I recently attended a talk about regret and medical personnel. It got me thinking yet again about the topic of resiliency. How do we go on after an unfortunate occurrence? The primary and most efficient system to avoid problems and to mend them is talking things over - communicating. It works well when situations are prone to mistakes: medical management, flying airplanes, and everyday life.  There is not always the opportunity to discuss things and situations do run awry. Systems shut off communication and errors are often the result. Forgiving ourselves, no matter the situation, is an important part of resiliency. There are some life situations when avoidance does seem to work and appears to be an approach recommended by most contemporary therapists. I think our huge population and mobility of society make this way possible. My niece is one of those who just swears, says forget it, and puts things behind her - avoiding the turmoil altogether. I think she has developed a protective coating. It is an approach many contemporary young women have learned. My generation has an approach that has failed to be effective and I think may account for this generation's response. Helen Mirren says, "At 70 years old if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words ‘fuck off’ much more frequently,” If only I could have carried through on that! Helen Mirren also said, "Unfortunately, at least for my generation, growing up (we didn’t say that) and I love the fact that girls are so much more confident and outspoken than my generation were. We were sort of brought up to be polite and sometimes politeness, in certain circumstances, is not what’s required, you’ve got to have the courage to stand up for yourself occasionally when it's needed.” Oh, to have the confidence to know you were right, to be righteously angry and not have regrets! I know I was right to be angry. Nonetheless, I do miss my friend, do have regrets, and, for the moment, I cry a lot. Will a tough outer coating wear as well over the years as my more exposed surface? Young women, like my niece, will likely, over time, have a form with more original shape and definition. Me? I'm not sure I want all those sharp and prickly bits. Whatever the final form of our lives, we are beautiful, we love ourselves, we are resilient. (I know my audience all too well; you need an animal report. You will be happy to learn the dog is well, not lost, and living comfortably with a human caretaker, Mike Kerwin.)

A recipe gift for you on my Birthday

I do not cook. Well, almost never. I tried a goat cheese scalloped potato dish for Thanksgiving but it did not work out as well as I’d liked. I tried it again; but, I modified the recipe and the results were amazingly good. It is definitely for special occasions only because it is high in fat!
So here is my recipe version for 

Lactose free chèvre potato gratin. 
(Full dairy and a vegan (for my niece, Danielle) option also listed.)
Serves 8-12

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare casserole dish (9.5 x 14 x 2.5 inches) by coating interior with olive oil or butter.

5 lb russet potatoes
1 medium to large white onion
1-2 cloves garlic (1 teaspoon)
1-2 cups of crumbled goat cheese or vegan chèvre (1 cup minimum to 2 cups maximum should work, just depends on how cheesy you want the dish. I use closer to 1 cup.)
kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste and ground nutmeg (less than 1/4 teaspoon total of the nutmeg)
2 cups lactose-free whole milk and 1 cup olive oil (OR 3 cups heavy cream for full dairy version OR 2 cups soy milk and 1 cup olive oil for vegan alternative)

Peel and slice one medium size white onion to 1/4 inch slices
Heat skillet with vegetable oil or butter to medium heat and add onion slices to caramelize.
Mince 1-2 cloves of garlic, about 1 teaspoon) and add to onions when almost done caramelization. Remove onions from heat when lightly caramelized.
Peel the russet potatoes and slice to 1/4 inch slices .
Divide potatoes in three parts and layer one portion in casserole. Sprinkle with a third of goat cheese (or vegan chèvre) spread a third of prepared onion/garlic over top of layer.
Season with sprinkled kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and very fine dust of nutmeg (I used a barely visible amount).
Repeat layers and seasoning for two more layers.
Pour two cups lactose-free milk and one cup of olive oil over ingredients. (Substitute 3 cups of heavy cream OR two cups of soy milk and one cup olive oil, if full dairy or vegan alternatives desired)
Bake for 90 minutes.

If you make this, please let me know how it turned out, if you liked it and if you have any suggestions for improvement.


One thing I have learned from having surgery is how weepy and vulnerable I feel after a procedure. I cry for no reason, and my emotions are near the surface. Still, I am happy I have done these. My knee has been the most wonderful story. I am still a bit bruised and swollen (and not wearing makeup yet); so, the plastic procedures are hard to be enthusiastic about; though, even now they look good and I know in a few months will even be better. I am glad the eye surgery is over, and I think no more procedures.) I feel more myself. However, my husband has been the most patient of men as I work on the emotional stuff.
Obviously, one procedure after another has had its toll on the blog. It's been hard to do more than Facebook recently. I am getting enthusiastic about scrapbooking again, and I am looking forward to completing school for the semester. I am producing a few interesting prints. I plan to post those when I have more done. My French has improved even though I have not devoted the time I should have to my lessons. Art history has been fun. I think I like studio classes best, though.
I had some wonderful travels in October and hoped to pull things together into some scrapbook pages. I did try to keep up on Facebook, as I took the trips; but, looking back is a lot of fun, and I get to use my DSLR pictures!
Here are a few layouts from the past few months that I made for "Get It Scrapped" at It's been fun creating a variety of digital, paper and pocket pages. 

Supplies: papers and elements: Traci Martin Designs Missing You, Mommyish All A Flutter button, Amanda Yi The Darndest Things alpha, fonts: Pastiche Brush Regular, Avenir LT 45 Book Italic, template: GIS Template Scrapbook Coach 19 Double Wide lesson 3

Supplies: Papers - American crafts “Do IT Yourself”, epoxies - Me and My Big Ideas “mambi Sticks”, brads & baker’s twine - stash, wood veneers - Studio Calico, Basic Grey

Supplies: Paper - American Crafts; Pebbles, JenHadfield, Home Made; Studio Calico, Wanderlust; stash, paperclip, wood veneer -stash, 3x4 cards- WeRMemoryKeepers, confetti and cork stars - Studio Calico, die cuts and puffy sticker - stash

Supplies: TDF79_kimeric_summertimeblues, ProductPlay_DHodge_sketch2_template

Supplies:TLP_kwiniecki_freezefactor, TLP_ForeverJoy-COZY-UP, ClubScrapDigital_inkededges, file: MSD_201403_PhotoPlay_EPitts_Template

Supplies: One Little Bird - Crazy for You kit, Mommyish - I'm So Fancy kit, A Pennington - Honey kit, staple, Fonts: Heart and Soul, Trend Rough Sans One, Bohemian Typewriter, Traveling Typewriter, Styles: Mommyish, Distress Brush: Karla Dudley. Template: Debbie Hodge, Packed 2-Pagers| Layout 4 

Thank goodness for the Creative Team projects! They've kept me creating even when I've been challenged by the wear and tear of surgical procedures. The fact that I've been making art, too, has me reflecting that I have been busy! Just not blogging much. I've always found it a challenge to keep up even in the best of times, but I do save it for a personal record and like to look back. So, I am sure I'll keep at this.

On the Road

 This summer was not only consumed with time off for surgery but also travel. I attended CHA's Paper Arts Show in Chicago in July, then the Podcasters Movement convention in Fort Worth and now am finishing up in Wisconsin at Club Scrap's annual retreat. Very busy!
How's the knee? Healing well, though I ought to be doing more exercising. I always use wheelchairs at airports as it's not just my knee but also my arm and neck that limit my activities. Walking has not been neglected when I can control the pace, distance and duration. The facelift and arm lift went well too. Very happy with results.

Wisconsin, the summer is delightful there. We were tempted to get a summer home. The big problem in the Midwest is the air conditioning. Folk there dial the temperature down very low in buildings in places like Chicago and Green Bay. It helps control the humidity, I suppose. Pack sweaters, jackets and long sleeves! Outdoors, though, is beautiful! Even rainy days! (A real oddity for a Californian like me.)
Of course, I love California and was anxious to get home. A backyard swimming pool and reasonable air conditioning do help one's tolerance for the hot weather. There's always the chance of a quick trip to the coast to cool off and that cool air does rush into the valley at night to make Sacramento more livable.
My opinions about the shows I attended follow.

Paper Arts was too small for me, though the manufacturers who attended did well in general. I think the buyers would have appreciated more vendors and a wider selection. I loved seeing my friends and I did a little photography for Charity Wings. Do check Charity Wings out at Videos from the Paper Arts Show and another craft show from Utah are available there.

Podcasters Movement was very inspirational and educational and Fort Worth is a wonderful city to visit. I learned a lot and made new friends. I'm definitely planning on going to go to the meeting in Chicago next year unless we go on a river boat cruise in Europe before the Medical Women International meeting in Vienna, Austria. Thinking about that!

Club Scrap's retreat is always fun! I had a bit of  a head cold that kept me from some of the activities. I just spent time with Cal and rested. That was nice. The creativity of the Club Scrap staff always amazes me! Their products are very carefully considered for quality and usefulness. Impressed as always. Lovely people at retreat, too!

I'm going to encourage you all to take time to travel or try new things. Travel always gives me new energy and despite set backs like travel delays, viral illness, and early morning false fire alarms is over all a positive experience!

Getting a Facelift and other thoughts on surgery

 Maybe one is not supposed to admit to plastic surgery. After reading a recent article in Time magazine, I realized that a lot of folk are not being silent about "having things done".
I'm no stranger to plastic surgery, I had some procedures in my 20's when feeling a bit self conscious about my appearance. In particular, my nose, which on reflection was not bad at all. However, with frequent negative comments from the first ex-husband about the nose, I felt my self-confidence eroded and did the procedure. As I look back, no regrets. I'm happy about my past procedures.
Now, I'm planning on a lower face lift. My hairdresser has been after me to have it done for some time now. I decided to go ahead after a man, who I met recently, guessed, without hesitation, my age at about 60. This is, of course, true and was not a negative comment at all; but, I realized the tell tale signs of age were there. Now, he's an artist and attentive to detail, nonetheless it made me realize I'd like to appear a little more ambiguous when it came to my age. A little hesitation before answering would be nice. I am proud to be over 60 and to have all the life accomplishments behind me that I do. Still, it remains a youth oriented culture despite the large number of baby boomers around who are now seniors and elderly. Some of us just like to look our best, too. I have a good dermatologist and have taken good care of my skin but that doesn't help with underlying structure. Losing weight, while wonderful for my health (no blood pressure meds!), does accentuate the sagging of the face. I tend to pick the most flattering photos for my Facebook and blog posts but I'm posting one here that illustrates those soft jowls and turkey neck I want to be gone.

So, September 1, I will be having the procedure done. September 30, I plan to have a procedure in my plastic surgeon's office to tighten up my saggy arms. They are the result of weight loss as well as age.

Having just had a total knee replacement I'm a bit nervous about having more surgery. I realize that a total knee is an incredibly major procedure and not the easiest recovery, though I'm being told I'm doing way better than most folk. The knee was a very necessary surgery and well worth it, I might add. I'd highly recommend the procedure to anyone having significant knee arthritis where the operation has been advised. So many folk say "I wish I'd done this sooner". I, too, think I'd have liked a referral for this long ago. The knee replacement and the injections in my neck and in my finger joint have really helped me cope with living with arthritis. I'm still challenged by pain and restrictions but feel more hopeful that getting older will not be as dreadful as I was imagining just 6 months ago.
Also, I want to look my best and look forward to the results of my plastic surgery.
There are risks and limitations to surgical approaches to solving the signs and symptoms of aging and illness. It's not an easy decision to make. I'm nervous about the surgery; yet, I feel it's a good plan for me. Sure, I could have complications. I'm confident that even if adverse occurrences, ultimately, I'll be fine.

Post-Op Recovery

Here I am at Blogging after my knee replacement. I have not had too much trouble with conversation though, a little. I was falling asleep writing simple Facebook posts of a couple of sentences. With the pain, the drugs and fatigue I just said, "Avoid keeping up on the blog. Just too much."

I'm still on the powerful prescription drugs though taking a little less than before. The pain still comes but is much better controlled. I never did have the really awful pain after surgery that folk experience. I had a successful nerve block which worked well for about four days. I'd highly recommend that as pain control to folk planning surgery where a block could be a pain control option. Also, if planning something like an elective knee replacement, really work hard at exercising almost daily, as much as you are able for at least 6 weeks pre-op. I did well in my recovery and I told everyone who was impressed with my progress that "I trained for this". I really believe that it helped. I, also, needed to work on walking without a walker or cane because of my chronic neck problem. That was highly motivating. Still, it's a long recovery and I will not be really recovered for another 8 weeks.
Photo of knee at 4 weeks. I think it will look pretty normal in 2 months.

It's hot here in Sacramento. You may have all heard about it if you are watching the USGA Senior Open. It's being held at Del Paso Country Club, just across the street from me. I think it's been very well organized. Very little disruption to our daily lives. Weather is a little cooler for the last two days so golfers should enjoy it more; spectators, too.

I brought my niece down from Canada to help me. She's been driving me around, making sure my to-do-list is getting completed; and, just generally, has been fun to have around. I'm not sure what I'd have done without her.

The gardens are growing nicely here and over at my other house, where my son lives. Love the fresh produce of summer!

Lots of spring/summer repair work needs to be done to spiff up the houses and the yards but it's all getting done, bit by bit.

Of course, summer is the time to be lazy, rest by the pool, read books and visit family. Getting lots of that done, too.

Well, wrote the entire piece without nodding off! Will add some photos later and hope to post this soon. Feeling very accomplished!

No longer a jungle, garden started

 It was but is no longer, a jungle despite our drought conditions. Almost scary to walk out into the yard. Now it is beautiful. The weeds are gone, and the scraggly plants contained.
Joe helped start a garden for us since Cal has had hip surgery. Cal is actually getting out to the garden a bit this week. I plan some updates on how the garden grows. Here are a few photos from May 1 when the garden went in behind the oleanders. The area of power line easement at the back of our large yard gets the most sun and is where Cal plants the most extensive garden.
I'm going to try and get some morning photos of the yard to post.
Naturally we have tomatoes since it is Sacramento. The Farmer's Market held weekly is only a couple of blocks away, so we do not grow everything, but there are peppers, melons, cucumbers and squash in this plot.
The other garden has potatoes and chives and not much more at the moment.

Friday, May 1st Live Podcast

 We are having a live show at The Digiscrap Geek Podcast. Even if you are unable to attended, there is a link on our site to enter for prizes # dsgpromo we will record the show for future listening, of course.

Join us, if you can. We will have active chat available.

Happy National Scrapbook Weekend!

Back to the Blog

 The household is settling down once more. My husband had a hip replacement but is recovering. Just took this photo last night. The kids brought food and I could not resist this photo of Cal and grandson Austin with their hairy faces. Too cute!

Slow on the scrapbook front. With hospital visits and art home work I'm pretty busy. The art homework is a bit behind, too.
Sill here are a few of my recent pages and finished art project. The pages have been done for Get It Scrapped and for fun on the community blog, too. It's my favorite scrap site on the web.

The embellishments are from #Freckled Fawn and #Little B, cardstock #Club Scrap, #Prima flowers,patterned paper #Ken Oliver Crafts, #Simple Stoies DIY overlay 

Supplies: kit is from #The Digi Files 72, a collab, LoveLivesHere. Journal card - Becky Higgins, Project Life, Cherry Ed; shadow styles - #mommyish and #One Little Bird; glitter style - mommyish, fonts - Garamond, Avenir,  scattered hearts from #WM2(squared) xoxo kit

I used the matchbox die as a starting point for my page and included the journaling and another photo inside the matchbox, next making the size of the patterned paper rectangles to match the matchbox.
Supplies: Cardstock #Bazill, patterned paper - #Jen Allyson lime twist MME; buttons, Baker’s twine - stash; matchbox die and white chipboard - #Little B, die cuts - OUR LIL’ MONSTER, Noteworthy, #Bo Bunny; chipboard word art - Bundle of Joy, #Echo Park, stamp - #Dear Lizzy, dimensional sticker - Ready, Set, Go, #Amy Tangerine, #AC

Pastel drawing After Claude Campion

Our gardner are here today working on the yard. I think Cal will be able to get in a small garden with our younger son Joe's help. Should motivate him to recover more quickly as he loves being out there in his garden. I must do a post on the yard. It is wonderful! It really had been neglected. Cal's hip was just getting to be too much of a problem and he would not admit it. I think it will be better now since his surgery. But, I think we'll still be keeping the gardner. It's an awfully big yard!


Are you dedicated to creating wonderful art? If so you are really in for a treat! Today's guest is April Bey, an exciting visual artist,...