Sunday, December 30, 2007

I believe in the magic of Christmas!

This year, I have been so very blessed! I have done so much and shared great moments with family and friends. It truly has been amazing. Here are some photos so you can see what I've been up to this past week...

First, I got to see my cousin, Angel (we call him Butchie) and his wife Ivy. Butchie and I were raised by our grandparents so we're very close. And their beautiful son, Gabriel, is my Godson.

On Christmas Day, my Mami was feeling well enough to get out of bed and share some time with us. Her nurse, Ednis, who is heaven-sent, dressed her all up after the Hospice nurse bathed her and she brought Mami out in a wheelchair to surprise us all! She looked so beautiful! Look at her with my cousin Jessie, my Titi Mae, me and my stepdad Jorge. How sweet is this.

I also shot a family photo of my DH with his wonderful family. Here's Richard with his grandma Meri, sisters Roxana and Rebeca (who came from Ohio), his mom Marita, his dad Pepe and little cousin Isaac.

We ended the day by going to see our best friends, Yayi and Jorge, having dinner with them and exchanging some great gifts. This is my Godson, D'Angelo, opening his presents. He loved his Webkinz best! The next day we went out on Jorge's boat for a fun-filled day out on the water in this great city. So very cool. The day was perfect.

Last night, I got to meet my sister!!!! Can you believe that? My Dad had a lot of children and I have not met them all. I do keep in touch with a couple of them, but I have always dreamed of having siblings nearby. So it was great to meet Evelyn, my older sister, along with lots of cousins, a niece and nephews from Tampa. This all took place at my cousin Saribelle's house here in Miami. She planned a Spiderman birthday party for her 3-year-old little boy, Gabriel.

This is my cousin from Tampa and my sister on the right...

Of course, I had to get a spider tattoo and glitter on my face courtesy of Sari :-)

Here's Sari with my little darling cousin, Crystal. So sweet.

And here's the four of us... My two cousins, my sister and me.

This is my sister with her two youngest boys (she has three!), Jeffrey and Marino, who is named after my Dad.

And finally, here's my cousin with my niece, Karina, and my nephew, Luis. They're 17 and 16 years old! Wow!

We really had a great time over there last night. I hope we get to see them all again soon.

I've also been scrapbooking so I have quite a few holiday layouts to share with you all so stay tuned!

Peace to all and have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! xoxo

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!!!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my wonderful online friends, both near and far! You have brought me lots of happiness and I look forward to all of the comments you leave me here so please keep visiting my blog. Thank you for your support and for your friendship.

I've been wrapping lots of gifts this weekend and it seems that red and white are the predominant colors this year. Isn't it pretty? I really do love this time of year.

Also, I've been listening to this great Christmas music CD from Pier 1 Imports. I love joyful holiday music because it gets me in a festive mood!

Oh, and I can't finish this post without showing you the beautiful January kit that Tricia from Cocoa Daisy has put together. It's simply delicious! Enjoy!

Here's wishing you a very Merry Christmas with your loved ones!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas layouts galore!

I am just so inspired by Christmas this year and so thankful for all the blessings in my life!

I have been playing with my December Work in Progress kit and here are five more layouts that I made... I'm really happy with how they turned out.

This first layout was difficult to photograph because of the glare. The page protector has multiple slots so I used that to include lots of photos from our 2003 festivities. This was an idea I got from Ali Edwards' column in Creating Keepsakes magazine. It's an easy way to include many photos on one page.

This is a 2003 photo of my Mom opening presents (how she LOVED to open presents!) with the sparkle in her eyes. I used the WIP kit and added a green matting paper from my mat stack to frame the photo. I also painted all around the layout using one of my awesome little green Dabbers!

Here I punched out circles with my friend Jeanie's circle punches by Uchida and made them into ornaments. I also cut out little Christmas trees and added glittered stars on top.

Just a bunch of layered patterned papers from my kit...

I hand-cut a big star and then cut out a second star just a little bit smaller. Then I added a few embellies and glittered stars to complete the look...

And here's a cute little hand-painted ornament dated 2007 that I picked up at Pier 1 Imports today... Next year, I've decided that I want a BIG tree! Yippee!

I hope you like all my creations. Peace and happy scrappin!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas is almost here...

I've been working on my December Daily Album inspired by Ali Edwards. It's a 6x6 version using lots of goodies from Hambly, Basic Grey, Paper Source, Pageframe Designs, Making Memories, My Mind's Eye, etc. On Friday night, I got to spend time with Barb, Anilu and Esther. We had such a blast! I finished putting in all 25 pages (one for each day of the month up until Christmas Day). Now I just need to insert my photos, journal a little something every day, and add some embellies as I go along. It's been a lot of fun putting it all together. Here's a sneak peek...

I also managed to do these simple craft projects. I glittered some Martha Stewart white chipboard birds and made them into ornaments. Then I painted and added a little bit of sparkle to this wooden "Peace" sign from Work in Progress and hung it on my little tree.

Last but not least, I've been playing with my December kit from Work in Progress, which I love! The papers and all the contents are simply delicious. Here's one of my layouts, but I have a couple more already underway... I just need to find more hours in the day to create...

Hope you are all having a blessed holiday season! Happy scrappin' or craftin' or whatever it is that makes you happy. :-)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I love Christmas and the winter season. It just makes me happy. I honestly think that it's the most wonderful time of the year.

Even though we don't really feel the winter here in Miami, at least it's a bit cooler and the humidity is not as bad. I do wish a cold front would come by again!

My DH returned from working in Chicago and I had a surprise for him. Before he left, he had mentioned how he wanted us to decorate the house for Christmas, but with everything that's been going on lately, we hadn't had the chance. Well, that was my surprise. While he was gone, I put up our little tree and all the trimmings, including red bows, our Nativity set, holiday scented candles, and lots of other details. Then I hung a "Merry Christmas" sign outside the door for him. It was great! He was very happy (tired, but happy) when he walked through the door on Friday night... Here are some of my shots:

So glad I was able to capture that moment on camera...

I also wanted to share that I went to a small craft fair at my work on Friday and I picked up these beautiful Christmas cards. The photographer works in my building at El Nuevo Herald (Spanish language newspaper). I loved these photos of Christmas, South Florida style!

And finally, Richard and I went to see Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium last night with Yayi, Jorge and D'Angelo. What a treat! We hadn't been to the movies in months and this was an entertaining, magical film (perfect for the holidays). D'Angelo liked it, too! LOL!

That's all for now! I'll share some of my recent projects with you later this week :-)

Peace and happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Scrappy time...

I got to spend the entire day Saturday celebrating Barb's birthday, scrapping and doing our Secret Santa exchange. I had a blast. I need more days like that! Here is a layout I made that day. I used some of my Jenny Bowlin stash.

And these are the rest of my layouts using Cocoa Daisy's October kit with Tara Whitney's favorite products. Love these bright, cheerful papers and embellies!

A scraplift of Kim Musgrove from Cocoa Daisy's gallery...

Inspired by Stephanie Howell from the Cocoa Daisy gallery...

This is a mini album I created using the same Cocoa Daisy kit and Heidi Swapp playing cards. Click here to see the rest of it...

For the gift exchange, my Secret Santa was Anilu. Boy, oh boy, I must have been a good girl this year! I got lots of goodies and a Handmade by Anilu wood and turquoise necklace and earrings that I am in love with. Check it out!

Tonight, I worked on a little surprise for my hubby. He's working on a project in Chicago and he got to see snow today. I'm so jealous! It's been a while since I got to play in the snow. Anyway, he'll be back soon, so I'll let you in on the secret later... Shhhh!

Happy holidays!

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm so thankful...

...for all of the love and support I have been surrounded by these past couple of weeks. It's been an emotional roller coaster ride for my family and I, but we're just taking it one day at a time.

This is a photo of my Mami and I on my birthday in October (my aunt, Gigi, and my awesome stepdad, Jorge, are also in the photo).

When I left my aunt Mae's house earlier this evening, Mami was resting peacefully. Her heart and lungs are weak, but no major change has occurred and she is still in the care of Hospice. Unfortunately, they made the decision today to stop providing 24-hour nurses, so we're trying to figure out how to best care for her. That is just their policies and procedures at work and it sucks. On Friday, a chaplain from Hospice was at my family's home asking if we had funeral arrangements made and today they declare her as "stable" since there has been no significant change. We're just taking it one day at a time. I cannot believe how strong and resilient she is! No matter what, we just don't want her to suffer... That is what's most important and I know that God is watching over her.

I really have the most beautiful Mami in the world! We tell each other "I love you" each day and last night she said "God Bless You" when I kissed her goodbye. And she's just so sweet and cuddly and she smells so good. It's heavenly. I cherish every moment I spend with her.

Thank you so, so much for your well wishes and prayers! It means more to me than you will ever know.

* * *

On a much lighter note, I have been thinking about scrappy stuff and seeing lots of eye candy out there lately...

I love my Cocoa Daisy Nov kit, filled with Karen Russell's favorite products. This will be a perfect fit for my Spain vacation album that I will soon begin working on... but first, I need to edit down my hundreds and hundreds of photographs! It really was an amazing and visually stunning destination. :-) While I was on the airplane, I managed to read the entire "Life Artist" book by Ali Edwards and all I can say is "WOW." Ali continues to blow me away with her passion and creative inspiration. If you don't have the book yet, what are you waiting for? This is a must-have!

As far as happy mail, I will soon be receiving my Dec Work in Progress kit. Trish has done a great job putting together an incredible array of Christmas goodies. I hope this will get me in the mood to create some Christmas projects!

Speaking of Christmas, my DH bought me tickets to go see The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular as a birthday gift back in October. I wasn't really in the mood to go last Saturday, but all that changed really quickly. We had such a blast. The show had an incredible cast, the props were gorgeous and festive, and the choreography was awesome. Very, very cool show!!!

Well, that's all for now... Sorry for the long post, but it's been a while... Happy holidays and please continue to pray for Mami...

Monday, November 12, 2007

I am so sad today...

The excitement from my wonderful vacation ended abruptly upon my arrival last night. I'm just glad I'm here with my family now.

I received a call from Jorge, my one-and-only amazingly loving stepdad, and he told me that Mami (my grandma who raised me) had a major stroke on Friday while she was in the shower. The doctors finally diagnosed her yesterday and they feel that there was a lot of damage done and that she doesn't have much time left now. I have been crying since last night and I needed to get it all out, but I don't have the strength to talk to anyone right now. I just figured that I would let my blog act as a diary of sorts so that I can share my feelings with my wonderful and supportive friends. I've known that this was coming, but that never seems to ease the pain. I just can't help but feel overwhelmingly distraught and alone.

Please keep Mami and my family in your prayers... Thank you!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hello from Barcelona!!!

OK, I'm baaaaack! Sorry, but our wonderful hotels along the way have not all provided us with free Internet access...

I'm loving that you have all left me comments. Thanks for staying in touch! :-)

Well, we started in Madrid, visited Avila and Segovia on a side trip, and headed to Cordoba on Halloween. Here, we stayed at Hotel Maimonides, located right across from the Mezquita. It was awesome because our window opened up right in front of this cathedral and former mosque. It was only about 15 feet across from us! This is me in front of the window.

The Mezquita was such an impressive visit and the structure was truly unique and beautiful.

We explored the streets in the surrounding neighborhood called the Juderia (Jewish quarter) and saw lots of nearby historic sites, including the Synagogue, Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos, Roman Bridge, and Calleja de las Flores, a little alleyway with flowers where you can see the Cathedral in the background. Then we were off to Seville...

Oh, Seville...I fell in love with Seville. This city is romantic and captivating and charming all at once. Our hotel, Las Casas de la Juderia, was an experience in and of itself! To get to our room, we had to walk through underground tunnels and narrow hallways and cross through what was once 14 houses making up 3 palaces. It sounds like a pain, but it was actually awesome! I've never seen anything like that. It was a beautiful hotel with inspiring courtyards and a gentleman playing piano in one of the homes every night. Seville was stunning. The buildings and the architecture were so picture-perfect. We visited the Real Alcazar, and I was in awe! It's a huge complex of palaces and gardens. The Cathedral in Seville is the thrid largest in the world, and we climbed 35 stories up to see the Giralda. (Yes, my torn tendon on my foot from last year's accident was acting up for a while after some of these adventures!) Then there's the Tablao Flamenco show we saw one night. Awesome. I can go on and on, but I won't. NOTE TO SELF: Return to Seville.

After Seville, we drove to Cadiz for a pit stop and continued on to Tarifa and Algeciras, where we actually saw Africa in the distance. Wow. Then we drove the Costa del Sol, stopping in Marbella (I missed Antonio Banderas cause he was no where in sight!) for lunch. We contiued through Malaga, Nerja and up to Granada by nighttime.

The next day was fully devoted to the Alhambra, Spain's most visited attraction, and its palaces and gardens. What a spectacular visit! From the top of the hill, you get a mesmerizing view of the city below and the surrounding areas. We even saw the Sierra Nevada peak from there. Granada had lots to see but we were only there for one full day.

This morning we got up very early and hopped on a plane to Barcelona, where we took a bus tour of the various areas and top attractions. So far, we've seen lots of unique structures designed by Gaudi and art and sculptures by Miro (Richard's favorite -- just kidding -- ask him about it if/when you see him; he apparently cannot appreciate minimalist art with four black dots on a white canvas. LOL!). There's lots to see in this city, but we have three days before we're back in Madrid on Saturday...

I love France and I love Italy, and I would love to return to both of those countries. Spain, however, has a unique culture that I can relate to and I have to say that it has truly captured my heart! This is one amazing trip.

Hugs to all! Gotta wake Richard up so we can go to dinner! LOL!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween...

Blogging is so easy! All you need is a laptop, a fast Internet connection and voila! Trust me, guys, this is not keeping me in the room instead of sightseeing! I've updated my blog at night or in between other things. Right now, Richard went to rent a car so we can drive to Cordoba today instead of taking the train. It seems like a great idea since we want to continue on to Seville and see the Costa del Sol on our way to Granada. So, we'll probably have the car for 5 days. Therefore, I'm taking care of our luggage while he gets us a car... and surfing the Net!

Isn't it funny how women can make some suggestions and the men in our lives won't even think twice about it... BUT when they have an idea (the very same idea, mind you!) it seems like the best thing since slice bread! So, yeah, we're renting a car. LOL!

Yesterday, we were in Avila, the birthplace of St. Theresa, and we visited the Alcazar, Cathedral and Roman Aqueduct in Segovia. What a breathtaking experience. Can you believe that the Romans built the grand arches of the Aqueduct without any mortar or cement and it's still standing there 2,000 years later! The stones are so perfectly placed, it's amazing! When Richard and I were standing below the structure, we had to wonder whether or not one of the stones could quite possible land on our head. Hmm...

After this full day tour/side trip, we rested for about an hour or so at our wonderful hotel (Vincci Soho -- love this place -- can you believe the restaurant has steel butterflies all around!) in Madrid, and then headed out at night for a walk around the other side of town. We saw Plaza de Cibeles, Banco de Espana, Palacio de Comunicaciones, Plaza de la Independencia, Puerta de Alcala, and more! If you know us well, then you know we really don't rest on vacations. We just want to get out and see everything! I've walked more than I have the past year I think! But I'm eating well, too, so I probably won't be losing weight. Shucks!

Well, we're off now... don't know when I'll be blogging again, but I'm having a real blast and loving this extraordinary country. The people are the friendliest and the surroundings are awe inspiring. So cool.

Peace and happy travels... or happy scrapping! He, he, he!

Monday, October 29, 2007

I don't want to leave Madrid...

But there's much more to see and do on this vacation!

We have really enjoyed walking through this awesome city. It's so conducive to walking and walking and walking some more. We have explored so much. The day we arrived, we headed over to the Prado Museum, but we were burned out by the end and we crashed in our hotel room until the following morning. However, we haven't stopped since... We've seen the Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Opera, Teatro Real, we ate imaginative tapas at Casa Lucas in Cava Baja, we attended mass in the Basilica de San Francisco, we walked through the Parque del Retiro, which was so picturesque and entertaining. We saw magicians, musicians, break dancers, and so much more! We visited the Plazas around Palacio Real, and we saw works by Picasso, Dali and Miro at the Reina Sofia museum. We visited the Jardin Botanico and strolled the streets at night. Wow! All that in just two days.

Tomorrow, we booked a side trip so we'll be off early in the morning to explore Avila and Segovia. The following day, we take a fast train to Cordoba.

As you can imagine, we've already shot lots of photos. We seem to find a picture-perfect structure or park or window around every corner. LOL! Today, there was this old man on his balcony overlooking the main street and he was fixing some flowers and we just had to stop and take his picture. So Spanish, so typical, so in the moment.

Oh, and I found my code of arms with the Molina name on it, and it tells of its Spanish origin. Same goes for my DH's last name.

I love just being able to disconnect from the stress of everyday that seems to be consuming me lately. I'm really enjoying this...

Hugs to all of you! I'll try to post again soon.