ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Performing Arts, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

The Weekend Report

TRAVEL HERE: A BIG WEEKEND

A Good Excuse for Fun!

So last weekend was my husband’s birthday. It was sort of a milestone for him and he decided to live large! In fact, he started looking forward to it a day early, when usually he does his best to ignore it. So, Thursday afternoon he pulled out one of the good bottles of wine and enjoyed smoking his hookah in our sunroom.

Friday Night Date

The celebration, which started on Thursday, kept going on Friday night. You have to know that Friday nights are pretty quiet around here, usually. We don’t like to fight the big crowds, but we researched several Dallas restaurants, trying to find something new. We finally gave it up and went to Fire and Fable, something in Rockwall I’d tried out for coffee the week before. I found out they had a bar and stayed open 10 to 10, so we gave it a shot.

Warning it’s a little confusing. They bill themselves as a bookshop bistro, but when you walk in, the first thing you see is a pastry counter. In truth, the ladies at the counter were a tad bit more interested in whatever they were doing than they were about seeing if we were taken care of. We told them we were going to the bar, but then decided maybe we’d prefer to eat, but having already talked to us, they weren’t going to give us their attention again.

So, we walked through the next bit, which is actually bookshopish and found ourselves in a line, but we weren’t sure what we were waiting for. Chatting up the group ahead of us, we found out they’d just been called to their table, and we were in the right place to put our name on the list. They were seated and after a bit of a wait, the hostess asked us what we wanted.

She put us on the list for a table, but then found us a place to sit in the bar. We ordered drinks and an appetizer. Then we sat back to enjoy the show. All the cool kids were there being cool, so it was quiet entertaining. The service was slow, but I can only imagine what kind of chaos going on back in the kitchen, because the place was jamming.

Our appetizer was fried artichoke hearts and I cannot heartily endorse them, but in spite of that, I think you should go check it out – just maybe not on a Friday evening. We managed to wrench our check from the waiter and get it paid. Then we escaped out the back door. The hostess texted us our table was ready, just about the time we got home.

Saturday Night Date

You know it’s a big weekend if we go out twice!! Bill joined my bestie and I on our Saturday afternoon adventure, which happened to be a movie. We saw A Man Called Otto with Tom Hanks. It was really heartwarming, but you have to sit through a lot of sadness to get to the good part. All three of us gave it a thumbs up!

But that’s not all. On a walk around The Harbor earlier in the week, I suggested to Bill the new Sear Steakhouse might be a good place to celebrate his birthday. He allowed that it might be, but he hadn’t worn his glasses and couldn’t see the menu posted outside the restaurant. He checked out their website once he got home, which didn’t have pricing and decided it would not be a good place to go.

Well, Deb decided to take him to 360° for a drink. 360° is the circular bar outside Sear Steakhouse – perfect for a sunset drink, since it overlooks Lake Ray Hubbard, but it worked fine for a drink (or two) in the dark, too. I must say we thoroughly enjoyed our time there and after a look at the menu (he had his glasses) we decided we could even afford to eat there!

Sunday Night Date

Nah! We didn’t go out again. After church, we both went to our offices to catch up on things which needed our attention. When dinner rolled around, however, Mr. Bill did cook up some falafel sandwiches and it was very good.

It was a really good weekend and we had a lot of fun. Thanks for dropping by. I hope you’ll come to visit again next week.

Photo Organization, Photo Organization Coach, Photography

Digitize Your Memories

MEMORY KEEPING 101 – PUT ALL YOUR MEMORIES ONLINE WITH FOREVER

Forever Boxes Make Digital Easy

Unless you’re quite young, you’ve watched the world go from analog to digital. One set of grandparents used a Brownie Hawkeye camera to take photographs, while another set grandparents opted for slides. An uncle wandered around all of your family gatherings filming reels and reels of movies. Then maybe your dad showed up with a huge camera on his shoulder to take VHS tapes and you may remember when he changed over to the Hi8 format. Then you went digital, but you’ve got photos on your computer, more on dvds, others on a hard drive, perhaps some on the cloud, but a whole lot on your phone, for sure!

A lot of that media you no longer have the equipment to look at it with and if a photo you want to find is on your phone, then you might have to scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll to find it. Last week I told you how wonderful Forever’s storage is and obviously moving all your digital images from wherever they are to your own digital storage space will be easy. But what about the slides, the movies and all the rest. Well, Forever can convert it all to digital – including the piles of photographs.

Well, that’s easy, too. You put it all in a box and send it to Forever. Not just any box, a Forever box and I’ll be happy to help you.

Your Forever Box

Here’s how it works. We decide which box(es) is/are going to hold all your stuff and order what you need from Forever. Forever sends you an empty box to fill up with all the items you would like to be converted to digital. When the box comes, you fill it up and send it back to Forever. Forever digitizes it and puts it online. Then they’ll send your stuff back to you, but if you don’t want it, you can just dump it in the trash, because all your stuff is online.

When Forever digitizes your material, it goes into a temporary storage account for 60 days, so you can decide what you want to do with it. They’ll also be happy to produce a dvd or thumb drive. But the very best thing you can do, in my opinion, is get your own permanent storage from Forever and put your memories there. Those memories will be there to be enjoyed by generations to come and you can rest easy.

Organizing Your Online Memories

Once you’ve gone to the trouble and expense of getting your memories online, you’re going to want to share them and Forever makes that easy, but somewhere along the way, you really need to do some organizing – or get me to do it for you.

Many Forever customers want to do the organizing before they send their memories off to Forever or they get me to do it for them. This is the most economical way, because you won’t be digitizing things you’re not interested in keeping. Your empty boxes will come from Forever with plastic bags and labels to keep your memories in order. If your memories have already been organized, at that point we can put notes on your bags and Forever will use those notes to name your online images. Your organized memories will be ready to share.

However, some of my clients say, “Jane, I don’t even know what’s on these videos!” Or they say, “It will be easier for me to sort through them once they are online. Some even say, “Once they’re online, my family is going to help me sort them.” In this case, we can get your stuff all packaged up, as is, and send it off to Forever. Then you’ll have 60 days in your temporary account to decide what will go on Forever, what you’ll download and what you’ll just delete.

Curation for the Generations

Anything is better than nothing. If all you manage to do is send your stuff off in your Forever Box and move it over to your own online storage account once it’s digitized, then you’ve already done more than most people manage to get done. Too often, the next generation, faced with a cache of slides, reel to reel tapes, VHS videos and a pile of analog photos, will just toss them into the trash. And why wouldn’t they? If you haven’t organized your memories and taken the time to identify who is in them, then exactly how are those who come after you supposed to know what it’s all about?

Now, imagine notifying your family and friends they can peruse their memories online, at their leisure, with the click of a link. That will be great news for them, even if the images are helter skelter, but imagine how much more excited they will be if the memories are organized by date and event and tagged for cross-referencing by name. With a few clicks, your Uncle Joe can see all the photos you have of him in one place. You get to decide which of your photos you want to share, whether you want your family and friends to download from your cache and even if you want someone to be able to upload new photos or add notes.

I’m There for Whatever You Need

If you like, you can do all of this yourself. It’s easy and I am happy to show you how. Or, if you’d just like to turn it all over to someone and wake up one day with a totally organized online storage account, I’ll be happy to take over for you.

How much does it cost? Well, that depends on a lot of things. How much do you have, what does it consist of, is it organized or do you need me to sort it? Here’s the link to the digital conversion page, which has the cost of the various boxes https://www.forever.com/digital-conversion/, but first timers can find it very confusing. You’ll need to understand what an item is and how overages work, to begin with. So, give me a call at 972-971-5263, and we’ll get you started.

When it comes to pricing with Forever, there can be a little sticker shock along the way, but there are also a lot of different ways to save, save, save. During November’s Black Friday Sales, you could get $1000’s worth of storage for less than $400, but you needed to know all the money saving tools available from me and from Forever. So, while I encourage you to browse the Forever site and learn all the exciting things you can do with Forever, don’t let sticker shock scare you away. I’ve got offers you’ll be excited about.

In fact, why don’t we talk about those money-saving plans next week. You’ll love all the ways there are to save with Forever.

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Performing Arts, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

Stardust in Our Eyes

Travel There – Ellen’s Amazing Stardust Diner

So, Deb and I are a great pair for traveling. I need her input. I am Museum Girl. I can find wonderful museums and historic homes almost anyplace you put me, but I am restaurant and bar challenged. In part, because I have a pretty solitary existence here in my home office, while Deb goes into a brick-and-mortar office everyday and has an eclectic group of coworkers who point her to the good stuff.

I’m so glad someone pointed her to the Stardust Diner. Believe me, it’s not the sort of place I would have wandered in on my own. It’s a neon-covered corner building which appears to have seen better days. At times it has a line wandering down the street from it, but that didn’t encourage me either. You wonder if they’ve got a gambling den or something nefarious going on.

Well, Ellen’s Stardust Diner is where future Broadway stars make a living until they make it big, alongside the guy and gals in the chorus, who need to pay rent. The diner is stuffed with linoleum topped tables and vinyl booths. There is no theme and the walls are covered with faded photographs. The menu is your basic diner food.

What set Ellen’s apart is the attitude and a slim catwalk running through the center of the restaurant. Other restaurants and establishments in the area employ wannabe Broadway stars, but they treat them like regular employees, who are supposed to show up for work, even if they have an audition, and if you actually end up getting a part, they’ll fill your spot and you won’t be invited back.

You also won’t sing. At Ellen’s auditions and casting are the lifeblood of her employees, so your work schedule is set around your singing career. When you finish with a booking, be it a few day or a few years, Ellen will fit you back into the schedule. And you will sing.

All day, every day, from the crack of dawn until after the bars close, someone is on that catwalk belting their heart out. And these folks are good. Not the girl-back-home-who-sings-solos-in-church good, but Broadway good. One after another, male, female and otherwise, tall, short, gorgeous and ugly, people with amazing voices grab a mic and balance on the catwalk, while belting out some of the best music you will hear in the Big Apple.

When we passed by the Diner just after sunset there was a very discouraging line running down the side of the building and it was misting rain. So, we gave it a little while and came back later. There was still a line, but it wasn’t raining and the line was somewhat shorter. We had nowhere else to be, so we just waited it out. And you are going to wait, because no one wants to move too quickly at the Stardust. Don’t go when you’re starving, because after you wait in line, you’ll need to wait on your food.

Singing is the main attraction at the Stardust, but there’s nothing wrong with the food. I had a grilled cheese sandwich and a chocolate shake. Deb had the Ruby Rueben. Both meals were great. We thought about dessert, as an excuse to stay longer, but what with the Junior’s cheesecake earlier in the day and my chocolate shake, I couldn’t face it!

Time to head back to the hotel. You come back next week and join us on our visit to Lady Liberty. It’s one of those things you have to do and it is well worth the time and effort to do so.

DFW Metroplex, Photo Organization, Photo Organization Coach, Photography

The Weekend Report

TRAVEL HERE: NETWORKING, NOT WORKING & OTHER DISTRACTIONS

A Friday for Networking

Friday morning I had a 1:1 scheduled with a great local business owner and she suggested we meet at a great local business. My meeting was with Candace Barnes of Noble Barnes and she’s the reason I was a Fable and Fire when they opened at 10.

Let’s start with Candace. I first ran into her at RASBA – Rockwall Area Small Business Alliance, a networking group for local entrepreneurs. We have a great Chamber, but us small guys can get lost in the shuffle, so there was a need for something on a smaller scale. It was started by Sarah Naylor , who is not only an amazing asset to our community, but also one of our top clients at Spot On Images. When she started the group, I had a standing commitment at the same time, but I put RASBA on my wish list, not just because she was our client, but because I heard such good things about the “speed networking” format they were using.

Well, they were right about RASBA! Since it’s in my neighborhood, I saw several people I already knew, but I also met a handful of new folks, one of them being Candace. I set up an appointment with her and then I ran into her at least twice at other networking events before we had our 1:1 – events like RWIB (Rockwall Women in Business) and RCAN (Royse City Area Networking).

So, Friday morning, I’m standing outside waiting for Fable and Fire to open. I wasn’t really paying much attention to a pair of women standing nearby, who were also waiting, until I saw Candace drive up in the Noble Barnes pick-up truck. One of the women said, “Oh Noble Barnes is such a cool company.” She proceeded to tell the story of Candace’s son who started a lawn business at 14, so he could buy a car and turned it into a company with 10+ full time employees, who will handle your lawn, your home or your pets for you.

I gotta tell you, I’d love it if someone said, “Oh, Spot On Images is such a cool company,” and proceed to tell about the ex-Realtors® who liked taking photos of new listings better than they did selling them and started a real estate photography company from scratch, which is now one of the top photography companies in the area. The story is true and most real estate agents know about us, but a couple of housewives meeting for coffee? Not so much.

The meeting with Candace went great. We have many points in common. I recommend Noble Barnes whole-heartedly. So, if you’re in the area and need help with most anything, give them a call!

Next up was the monthly Wine Women and Wealth Meeting of Kaufman County, sponsored by my friend, Susan Bennett White. Sorry gentlemen, this one is for the ladies. Lunch is free, as is the mini-financial seminar and business spotlight. It’s been a great resource of leads for my Memory Keeping business and I really enjoy it, every month.

A Saturday for Not Working

Friday afternoon I dropped off a big Memory Keeping project I’d been working on and found myself in a break between customer projects. I drug out the personal project I’d been working on and got things set up to crop throughout the weekend.

Saturday morning I got busy on the album until it was time to go to lunch with my bestie, after which she graciously agreed to do cemetery duty with me. For lunch we went to Mi Cocina in Watters Creek, mostly because we both needed a margarita or two. Then it was on to Pecan Grove, because Mom’s birthday was a couple of days away and I really don’t want Ruth haunting me. We chose a red plumish bouquet with peonies at Hobby Lobby and it looked great.

Then for a little shopping therapy. We didn’t score any major bargains, but we both found things that we couldn’t leave at the outlet mall. Back home, i dug back into my album.

A Sad Sunday

My pastor is leaving. I’ve mentioned this, but it still breaks my heart. I’m happy he and his wife are excited and challenged by their new ministry, but selfishly, I wanted them right here at my church. I was greeting Sunday, which kept me out of Sunday School and rendered me late for the worship service, but it also probably kept me from sobbing through the morning.

The elders and the congregation had cooked up a surprise farewell party. They still have a week left, but there’s a business meeting after church and so that’s how we managed to make this a surprise. It was a touching event and I got to participate by presenting them with a digital photo album I’d made with photos another lady had been taking, ever since we found out they were leaving.

I worked on my personal album before and after church. I finished up (except for the cleaning up around 8:30. Then I watched a little TV with the hubby before heading to bed.

And that was the weekend. I was a little late with this weekend report today. It was a busy week and writing my post got lost in the shuffle – but here I am. Come back next week. We’ll have adventures in NYC, adventures in Memory Keeping and the next weekend report.

DFW Metroplex, Photo Organization, Photo Organization Coach, Photography

Back to Digital

MEMORY KEEPING 101 – STORING AND CURATING YOUR PHOTOS ON FOREVER

Why Forever?

Back in November I introduced you to Forever Storage and the reasons I think it is best way to store your photos online. If you would like to review that post, click here, but here’s a chart that spells it out.

Perhaps the best part of a Forever account is that you buy your storage rather than rent it. Think about the difference in a landlord and a tenant. With other storage systems, your photos are merely tenants on someone else’s property. The landlord makes the rules. The landlord has a right to enter the property. The landlord is responsible for maintenance and you’re screwed if they don’t do it. If the landlord changes the rules, you either have to live with it or you’re stuck with the new rules. The list goes on.

At Forever, you own the property your photos are stored on. You make the rules about your photos. No one can go in there without your permission. No one can change the rules without your permission. You can do as much or as little as you like with your photos. It’s yours.

When you’re renting space for your photos, if you don’t make your rent payment, you lose access to your photos and what’s more, they don’t even have a plan for you to pass on your space, even if you want to. At Forever, you buy your space, so it belongs to you and whoever comes along after you.

Fully Customized Organization

I’ve used a lot of different online storage products in my life and while they will give you all the space in the world for a small monthly fee, your options for setting up your library are always limited. When I first started using Forever, I didn’t even know how to appreciate the flexibility I was given. It took me a while to create a system that worked for me, because it’s not just a matter of fill in the blanks.

It didn’t take long for me to get the hang of it and now I love it. Forever keeps a library of everything you upload to the site and with a few query words you can get to exactly what you want, You also get to set up whatever albums you want and then nest albums under there to as many levels as you want. Each album you access quickly tells you how many photos are in that album and how many nested albums you have within that album.

Within any album, you get to chose the order you want them in and if none of the automatic choices work, you can create your own.

As you set up your albums and nested albums, you can create a name for them and then you can fully describe what the album is about and if you want, put a date or date range on it.

Tagging is a breeze, but that’s only the beginning of the ways you can identify your photos with Forever.

Most online photo storage picks up information from your metadata and you’re stuck with whatever is there. Not with Forever. You have total control.

Just because it was Conger-7 wherever you got it from doesn’t mean it has to stay that. If the date taken is really just the date you uploaded it, you can change it to the real date.

Want that photo to be in other albums? That’s easy and it doesn’t take up more of your storage to do that.

And the description? None of that 25 words or 100 character stuff. Tell the whole story. Don’t want to key it in, fine, go to the app and use voice to tell the story. You’re not going to run out of space.

Sharing

While Forever will stay out of your storage and diligently protect it from others who shouldn’t be in there, it’s got all kinds of ways to share your images when you want to do so. You can share a single shot or an entire album or even your whole account. You can also set a level of sharing for the top level of each album. You might have some items you want to stay private, just for you. Friends and Family could have their own level of access to other albums. Then you could even have public items you opened up to whoever wanted to see them, so it’s great for all kinds of applications like teams, schools or other groups.

There are other ways to give the people you want access to your files. You can collaborate with others in you albums and decide what level of collaboration you want them to have. You can set up a manager and allow them to act as you if you want. You can also designate who you want to have access and control of your files and which files after you. Try that with icloud!

Auto Uploading

Have you ever wished that every photo you took on your phone or added to Facebook could be captured permanently somewhere so you never have to worry about losing them? Forever can do that. Or you can do one or the other of them. Up to you!

So What’s the Bad News?

If you’ve been using a free service or have been paying $1.99 per month for 100 gigabytes of storage, the bad news at Forever is sticker shock. The first time you hear how much 100 GB of storage costs at Forever it is going to be a difficult pill to swallow.

I must be honest with you. While I love Forever storage, I have to admit I don’t like all the rigmarole it takes to figure out how much you have to pay. On the day in November I wrote this post, with all the various deals and discounts available, you could get 100 GB of storage for $387.98 or something close to that (according to how you stacked the deals). However, the retail price for 100 GB of storage is $1000. I think that’s crazy, but someone smarter than me dreamed up this pricing and if you’ve ever shopped at Macy’s or Kohl’s, it will seem familiar. (This dress is $400, but today with a coupon you can get it for $19.99.)

So, while $387.98 is a lot, it’s really not fair to compare it with the $1.99 a month at Google, for instance. Google can rent that space for that price, because they owe you nothing in the way of privacy or security. They also know they will be able to make money off your photos with data mining and advertising. If they lose all your pictures, that’s OK. They can compress your photos anytime they want, so they will take up less space. If they want to delete your photos, all they have to do is send you an email and if you miss it, that’s tough. They also have your permission to use it for whatever else they want to.

On the other hand – all you will ever pay for your Forever storage is $387.98. After 16 years, when you’ve paid Google that much (if they don’t raise the price, which they most likely will) you’ll still have to go on paying something every month and if your kids take over the account, then they will have to keep paying as will your grandkids, great grandkids or whoever of your decedents is still around – if Google is still around. Remember VCRs? Which reminds me, that you Forever account will be upgraded for free to whatever formats come around after .jpg or whatever has disappeared.

Chances are at this point I have confused you more than I have helped you, so give me a call and lets review this. Whenever you decide you want to purchase your storage, I will research the deals at the time and make sure you get the best of them.

Come back next week and we’ll dig beyond mere storage and see what else Forever has to offer.

Accommodations, Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Fashion, Gardens, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Walking Tour of Broadway

Travel There – Just a Couple of Texas Girls in the Big City

As soon as we got our stuff stowed away we hit the streets of NYC. In just a few steps we figured out the Sheraton New York Times Square is the perfect place to stay. Don’t let them put you in the Four Points by Sheraton Times Square, that’s a whole ‘nother place and I am so glad a fought the battle to get where we wanted to be. We were right in the middle of everything without being in the insanity of Broadway itself.

Broadway, just a few blocks away, was insane and I am glad we had a buffer zone. They smoke pot everywhere in NYC, but on Broadway they smoke it a lot and they want to sell it to you. They also want to sell you fake designer bags. I could have done away with that whole vibe, but you just have to take New York City as it comes at you.

You also get mobs of people all the time. Later in the trip we’d be there on a weekend evening and we would really understand exactly how crazy it could get, but for our first day in the city, it was crazy enough.

We hadn’t scheduled anything specific for our day of arrival, because air travel is so unreliable these days. I didn’t want to have tickets riding on me getting there on time and we’re still stuck in the air somewhere. So the plan was to stroll Broadway and see what we could see…or eat.

Junior’s Cheesecake

Our first stop on our tour of Broadway was one of the best of the trip and we repeated it several times. I had read in my research that THE place to have authentic New York Cheesecake was Junior’s. I cannot speak to the authenticity, but oh my goodness, can I ever speak to how delicious it was. We both love cheesecake, but if possible we love Junior’s Cheesecake more than any other we’ve ever had. Deb liked it best topped with various fruits. I had mine plain, but there was nothing plain about it.

Our Key to the City

Broadway, Junior’s and a MetroCard. We were knocking it out of the park in the first few hours we were there. This was not Deb’s first NYC rodeo, so we decided we’d be brave and use the subway system. She had the app and I had the maps.

On our stroll down Broadway we dipped into the subway and purchased a MetroCard, loading it up with rides for the next week. We weren’t ready to use it, but we’d be getting up early the next morning to head to the Statue of Liberty, so we wanted to be ready!

The Biggest Department Store in the World

Confession, I am not a big fan of Macy’s. Well, to tell the truth, I’m not a big fan of department stores, with perhaps the exception of Neiman’s and Nordstrom’s – but I don’t even shop there. I just eat and browse. I am a bargain hunter, so most of my purchases actually occur at one of the stores at the outlet mall.

However, this is New York, the home of Macy’s, so I wanted to be able to say I shopped there. We’d timed our trip to attend a christening, so I planned on buying my gift at the famous store. It is big, ridiculously big, but just like the closest one at Firewheel Town Center, they are short-handed and you are going to have to help yourself.

We found the baby department and I found a darling pink cotton knit sweater with matching socks in the Ralph Lauren section. They were embroidered with the familiar logo in baby blue. They do not, however, have gift wrapping, so I ended up buying a gift bag and card a few stories up in the stationary department.

Deb and I went all the way to the top and rode all the way down on the escalators. Towards the top, they still had the old original wooden escalators. That was something to write home about.

Back Up Broadway

Our goal was Greeley Square and we made it. We tucked over to the Empire State Building just to say I’d been there. We saw Herald Square, Times Square and Duffy Square. We were ticking off the sites!

The evening had set in, but we were still full of cheesecake and the line at the Stardust Cafe was intimidating. So, we went back to the Sheraton, found the bar and celebrated our first day in New York at Happy Hour.

Here’s a few photos from our day. Come back next week and we’ll visit the Stardust Cafe.

DFW Metroplex, Fashion, Photo Organization Coach, Photography, Restaurants & Bars, Shopping, TRAVEL

The Weekend Report

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

TRAVEL HERE: BLUE MESA, CHUCK, ALFREDO’S & FERAH’S

Polka Dot Dinner at Blue Mesa

Rolling it back to Thursday, I have to tell you about Polka Dot Powerhouse. If you need an international women’s group in your networking mix, here you go. Yes, you can connect with women all over the US, as well as the rest of the world. I joined to get to know some Rockwall women better, but the Networking Gods intervened and now, twice month I travel over to the Stonebridge Area to connect with some of the coolest women you can imagine. Second Thursday is at Blue Mesa Granite Park and fourth Monday to Kelly’s Craft Tavern Stonebriar. Let me know and I’ll get you in.

Getting to Granite Park for dinner is quite a commitment for me. I wake up so early that I’m powering down by about 7, but for my Dots, I crawl in the car around 5 PM and drive to the other side of the world for the 6:30 meeting. I can usually make it in an hour, but since I have to go over the dreaded I-30 bridge, I must add half an hour, just in case.

Totally worth it! I’ll leave it at that, but it’s not all business. These women are fun and business is not the focus, but the result. The theme is, build the relationships and the business will come, and they’re serious about it. I do a lot of networking and they ALL say you should build relationships, but nobody does it better than the Dots. So join me for a lunch or a dinner and find out what I mean.

Chuck

So, I don’t watch a lot of TV and when I do I usually hate it, but I love Chuck! Computer nerd working at the local big box electronics store inadvertently becomes a CIA asset when his brain is downloaded with a program called the Intersect. That’s the plotline, but it doesn’t begin to describe the fun you are about to have when you start watching it. There’s violence, but it’s obviously make-believe and they use tranq guns more often than live ammo. See, Chuck doesn’t believe in killing people. It’s sexy, but nothing you’d be afraid of your four year old watching. They do cuss, but it’s the light stuff for effect, not the shock treatment you get on most modern TV. So your four year old has already heard all of it.

Anyway, I won’t wear you down with more, but that was my Friday night, my Saturday night and the cliff hanger was so good, I watched an episode after church on Sunday. I have to slow down though. There’s only one season left and I have no idea what I am going to do without it. I don’t think there’s any other good clean fun designed for adults.

Alfredo’s

I wish it were not so, but the restaurant my car most frequently goes to is Alfredo’s in Forney. That’s where FANG (Forney Area Networking Group) meets every Tuesday. It’s the one networking meeting I try to make every week, because this is my gang. It’s really more like visiting family than it is going to a networking meeting, but over the years, I have gotten some darned good business from it.

It’s also where my friend Susan Bennett-White has her WWW (Wine, Women and Wealth) meeting. It’s a monthly financial seminar for women with great networking and the opportunity for spotlighting your business. I admit, I go for the networking. I am married to Mr. Finance, but the WWW tips are always good and I’ve racked up some good leads.

So, why in the world would I go there on a Saturday morning, right? Well, a lead I got at the November WWW suggested we meet there for breakfast and she’s so excited about Forever, I would have met her on the moon if she’d suggested it.

What a morning! First, I missed a turn on the way there and was forced to wander around the backroads between Heath and Forney – but I was only a few minutes late. Then my laptop totally failed me. For reasons unknown and totally unrelated to the Alfredo’s location, because not it won’t go online anywhere, now. Then she had her granddaughter with her, which in most cases would have been totally fine, but with no visual aids to assist me, I was going head to head with whatever the granddaughter was playing on her tablet, her complaint about the restroom being in use, her ginormous breakfast order and the side of sausage which was delivered later. Still, Forever won the day and I have a new client.

Finally, Ferah’s!

So, after a week with six networking meetings, five 1:1 meetings and a failing laptop, it was time to play. When I left Alfredo’s, I headed to meet my bestie at Ferah Tex-Med Kitchen. And no, that’s not a typo, Ferah’s fuses Mediterranean dishes with Texican favorites for something that will both surprise and delight you.

The first thing I ordered was a Sauvignon Blanc. Then we shared the Chef’s Sampler Platter with Falafel, Fried Goat Cheese, Crab Cake, Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Dates, Hummus and Pita Bread. How do you say delicious in TexMed? I’m not sure, but I am sure you’ll love it.

Instead of dessert, we chose shopping therapy. A little Ulta’s for some of life’s necessities, like a new mascara I didn’t really need, but the tube was so cute. Enough Chico’s to confirm we love their outlet store and DSW. I told myself I didn’t really need any shoes and I didn’t until I strolled through the clearance racks.

Now, if you love DSW, I don’t have to tell you about the clearance racks. I don’t even look at shoes which aren’t on clearance, but I have another filter. The shoes are tagged by colors indicating from 20-60% off. The percentage of the colors change week by week instead of having to re-tag them. Whatever colors are 50-60% off, those are the only ones I will seriously consider and they better be really good for me to even be interested.

I’m hard on shoes and my feet are getting more picky about what they will wear, so those off-brands you’ve never heard of, they don’t get much of a look either, but JLo’s and Jessica Simpson’s? I couldn’t name any of their tunes, but I love their shoes. JLo was really styling this time, as was Jessica and Adirenne Vittadini, she had a stunner, too.

I walked out with four pairs. Three of them were legit purchases based on things which fit right into my current wardrobe. This metallic orange number with the rhinestone aglets? No reason and no excuses. They just weren’t going to let me walk away without them. It won’t be long until they tell me what to wear them with, either.

So that’s the weekend. Sunday I went to church and then spent the rest of the day getting caught up with stuff, like this post. Keep coming back. Travel Talk and Memory Keeping 101 will keep coming at you, just like the Weekend Report!

Photo Organization, Scrapbooking

Custom Scrapbooks By Me

MEMORY KEEPING 101 – LET JANE DO IT!

Save Money & Time with Custom Scrapbooking

If you love scrapbooking yourself, then the cost and the time are nothing, but most people have no idea what it takes to produce a photo-safe album with attractive themed pages, so their jaw drops when I tell them the price and then they tell me they have to think about it. The people who do have a clue of what is involved can’t hand their projects over to me fast enough.

I’ve spent several weeks of posts introducing you to scrapbooking, because until you understand what it takes to create a scrapbook, you can’t appreciate what I do. If I just tell you, “Custom scrapbooks start at $500,” and you have no idea of the time, money and effort involved in creating that scrapbook, then you’re going to think I am out of my mind.

The Bare Bones Album

Last week I told you newly minted scrapbookers will spend about $450 dollars and 72 hour on their first album. My most basic album will cost $500, if the photos and memorabilia have already been curated. That’s because I already have all my tools, I have decades of experience, I get a discount on what I do have to buy and most of all, because I have been doing it for so long, I’m going to do it a lot faster than you!

The Bare Bones album will not include embellishments, but your photos and memorabilia will be attractively displayed on wallpapered pages with mats behind selected photos. You can be very proud of theses albums and your investment includes all materials and labor.

The Basic Album

While the Bare Bones Album is good for someone on a budget or anyone who would prefer a minimalistic look, most people really enjoy embellished pages. They want festive borders, fun stickers and other elegant embellishments to create themed pages and a rich look.

As I’ve said before, the more embellishments there are, the more it will cost to in time and money to complete the album. My primary style is simple and quick, but with a lot more decoration than what I put in a Bare Bones album. The emphasis is still on the photos and memorabilia, not the decoration, so there are more of your memory items on each page, than you would find on a more elaborate album. This is the album most of my clients prefer. My Basic Album, is $750 and like all my albums includes materials and labor.

The Fancy Album

While my personal style is to create simple pages so I can have completed albums, some people want more. They may just like the look of highly decorated pages with only a few memory items or perhaps it is a really special album, like a wedding or a new baby and so they want something that is obviously out of the ordinary. I have all the tools and experience required to create these heirlooms and I would love to do it for you. Fancy albums start at $1000, but according to the level of decoration desired, the sky can be the limit.

I use the same techniques and tools I would use for any album, but instead of various decorative elements being spread throughout the albums, I pour everything I’ve got into every page and the results are breathtaking. One popular look is to have heavily-decorated matching pages throughout the book, while another is to create a heavily embellished theme for each page. Bring your desires and I will pour on my creativity. Together we’ll create a masterpiece.

Curating Your Photos & Memorabilia

Some people are naturally organized and while they haven’t gotten as far as creating an album, their memories are sorted and just waiting for memory keeping. I’m happy to take over at that point and put together a wonderful album for you.

The truth is, most people just have a mess. There are photos under the bed, their shelves are full of movies, videos and slides they don’t even have the equipment to show and their phones are overloaded with images. They have tickets and programs from their kids performances, items left over from a vacation and all manner of other items of memorabilia.

Don’t fret! I can help. Even if I know nothing about you, your family and/or your friends, one of my greatest gifts is the ability to find order out of chaos. I will need to know a few things about the photos and memorabilia before I start and during the process I may shoot you a text and ask what something is, but I can sort your stuff. I also know how to tell the story without using every single item. I’ll return what’s leftover to you, but most people look at the album and throw away the excess.

It’s great if you can provide enough information to create a detailed timeline, but many times people have inherited a pile of family photos and they haven’t got a clue of the time frame and locations. They may not even know everyone in the photos. Albums do not have to be chronological. So don’t worry! I can turn your mess into something beautiful, even if you’re at a loss about what you actually have.

I will sort and curate your photos and memorabilia for $20 an hour. That scares some people, because they’ve been trying to sort it all out for years. My sorting and curating is completely different than yours. For one thing I don’t know your tribe, so I’m not going to get caught up in reminiscing. I won’t stop every 15 minutes to show something to my husband, to text someone I saw in the photos or to cry. Oh, I do cry every once and awhile, but I’ll be crying a lot less than you. It’s also my job. I don’t have to squeeze it in between all the other things in my day. I sit down in my scrapbooking studio and work, un-interrupted for hours on end.

Only it’s going to take me a lot less hours than you might think. My favorite story is the attorney who had photos spread out on her dining room table for two years. I took them to my studio and had them sorted in six hours. She was flabbergasted, but that’s what I do. I turn messes into memories.

So, while I would love for you to become a fellow scrapbooker, if that’s not going to work for you, I still want your mess to be memories, so let me be your memory keeper!

If digital is more your thing. I will be talking about that over the next few weeks. Keep coming back!!

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

On Our Way to the Big City

Travel There – Gee Thanks WAYZ

Gotta Love Rush Hour – NOT

Going to New York City has been on my bucket list for a long time and going with my bestie was a dream come true. I love to travel with Bill, too, but it just wasn’t going to be his kind of trip. We planned to get up early, stay up late, spend the day in museums and our evenings at shows, but we were never, ever going to take a nap. That just isn’t his idea of a vacation.

Even though Bill wasn’t thrilled about a week without me, he agreed to chauffeur us to the airport. I had put us on a mid-morning flight to keep him from having to do it at the crack of dawn, so instead we were in the middle of rush hour traffic. OOPS, being self employed, my commute is from the bed to my office upstairs. Should I need to be somewhere in the morning, I live in a little, teeny tiny community almost in the boonies and I know all the backroads.

So, I was a little surprised when we we rolled to a stop in the vicinity of I-30 at Jim Miller. Deb and I both pulled out our phones and checked the traffic. It looked OK for a few moments and suddenly both of our phones demanded we get off I-30 and strike out across Dallas. But as we maneuvered across the city, they didn’t always agree.

Google Maps or WAYZ

One of my current theories about life today is that we have too many choices. It’s hard to find commonality when you have nothing in common. I grew up in a world with only 3 or 4 TV channels and virtually everyone watched the same thing. There were more radio stations, but in Dallas, we all listened to KVIL. No matter who you met, you were going to have something in common to talk about.

There could be fewer people in this world who are as close as the three people in that car on its way to Love Field, but we couldn’t even get our phones to agree on how to get there. No wonder the world is in such a mess.

Bill and Deb are WAYZ people. They swear by the reliability of the app. They turn it on even when they know where they are going for the traffic updates.

I’m old school. If I know the way, I’m going to drive the way I know. If I need help getting there, I will pull out my GPS and use that, because I don’t want to be messing with a phone as I try to drive. If I do need to look something up on the fly, I’m going to Google Maps. However, if Bill’s driving, he hates Google Maps, so I have to keep WAYZ on my phone for his benefit.

What we discovered on the way to Love Field is that our WAYZ apps couldn’t even agree on which way to go. Traffic really was awful, no matter where we turned. The apps were taking us through neighborhoods and down backstreets we’d never been on. Bill was driving, but I had his phone on WAYZ, mine on Google Maps and Deb was clicking back and forth between both. Sometimes each app on each phone was telling a different story.

Then Deb said, “Turn left at the next street.” Bill said, “Are you sure it’s left.” Deb hands me her phone and that’s when we got in trouble.

In case you didn’t know, these apps with their AI get to know us and give us different instructions based on what they learn about us. They also have their own internal algorithms. So, we poor humans are actually at their mercy.

Come to find out, Deb sets her WAYZ app to always point north. We set ours to point in the direction the car is headed. When Deb handed me her phone, I interpreted according to my settings and we were soon making U turns.

We Did Arrive in Time

In spite of dueling map apps, we did manage to arrive on time, but we were happy to see the curbside check-in. I hate waiting in line to do battle with a kiosk, so it was nice to be able to tip a human to take care of us and I tipped him well.

The flight was uneventful, our luggage arrived intact and Lyft was waiting for us as scheduled. We checked into the hotel, which had our reservations, and moved into our room for the week.

Come back next week and we’ll head out on the streets of the Big Apple. What fun we’ll have!

ART, DFW Metroplex, Performing Arts, Photo Organization, Photography, Restaurants & Bars, Scrapbooking, WRITING

The Weekend Report

TRAVEL HERE – NCFCA AT DBU, AT MY DESK & TAKING DOWN THE TREE

National Christian Forensics and Communications Association

Once upon a time, before there was a Spot On Images and we lived in Dallas, I used to attend Dallas Christian Writers Guild. Somehow that ended up taking me to Denton for a group of writers I can’t remember the name of. While I was never able to sell my novel, I did make some great friends. One of them, Rachel, invited me to judge at a speech tournament. By then, I’d figured out the market was focused on paranormal young adult fiction and wasn’t interested in a simple romance at a retirement center. I’d also moved to Wylie.

Rachel suggested I give judging a whirl. The tournament was going to be in Wylie at a church almost around the corner from our rental. She had no idea I’d been on the speech team at Bryan Adams High School. NCFCA, to which her children belonged, just needed community judges. She thought I’d be good at it, because she’d observed me critique the works of my fellow writers. I was flattered at the time and agreed to do it.

Now, I’ve got to admit. These kids blew me away. I’d belonged to the National Forensics League back in the late 60/early 70’s. My fondest memories of the time was a trip to a Houston tournament in Jimmy Johnson’s red Impala convertible. After our sponsor threatened our lives if we went to Galveston, we, of course, snuck out and went to Galveston. It was 10 minutes on the beach and we had to head back, but the exhilaration of the outing stays with me, even today.

The home-schooled members of NCFCA are dead serious about their craft, unlike us crazy public school kids, who just wanted a reason to get away from home. Don’t get me wrong, we had some really great people on the speech squad, who would walk away with all the trophies, but most of us were just there for a good time. NCFCA members are all there to compete!

Anyway, I loved the experience and have continued to volunteer every time I can. We moved to Rockwall and I discovered many of the families in the church participated in NCFCA, but that’s really not my primary motivator. I really just love the kids and love the experience of the speech tournaments. If you are the least bit intrigued by it, I think you should follow the link above and give it a try. They have a tournament over in Ft. Worth in March. I’d love to have someone to carpool with.

Last weekend they had a tournament at Dallas Baptist University and even though I was fighting with allergies, I went ahead and judged, because I love it so. I was not disappointed. It took the whole day. I judged four events and the commute was substantial, but I loved it.

Bill was not amused. I left the house at 8am and got home after 9:30 pm. The allergy symptoms I had been fighting were winning the battle and I was miserable, but my faith in the upcoming generation was renewed. I have hope things are going to be better in the world when these guys take over. Come with me in March and let’s help the next generation blossom!

Digital Photobook Project

If you read this blog at all, you know I’m all about scrapbooking and I have a business devoted to it, but I also offer digital solutions. I booked a new digital assignment which needed a quick turnaround, so I was afraid starting it from scratch would take too long. I decided to create the photobook from one of the gorgeous templates Forever has on their site, but that was totally new to me, because I usually create photobooks from scratch in Artisan. As if that weren’t challenging enough, I also decided to use the album planner in the Historian program.

I had assumed there was some sort of integration between the Historian album planner and the photobook templates on the Forever site. What is it they say? “Don’t never assume nothing.” Yes, I found the album planner to be a great tool, but it would have been an even better tool if I could have clicked a few buttons and automatically populated the template.

My other challenge had to do with saving the template in some format which would let me stop somewhere along the way. I knew there had to be a way, because few people can sit down and do a whole album in one sitting. After exhausting all the methods which made sense to me and losing a couple of starts, I had to call customer service for some help. I am happy to report in a few minutes I had talked to someone very knowledgeable who had all the answers I needed. The solution was easy, just not intuitive.

I finished the photobook and got it ready for my client to proof. However, I do have several integration innovations to suggest to Forever. The photobook templates are lovely, the Historian album planner is a great tool and Artisan is an amazing scrapbooking program. However, these three products need to be able to shake one another’s hand. Integration of their products is one of the big jobs at Forever, but Job One is always the security of the online storage. What might seem simple or apparent as a product feature isn’t going to happen until the Forever engineers are 100% certain it won’t compromise the storage. So while I might fuss a little bit, I’m happy Forever does things the way they do.

Taking Down the Tree

Client’s rush order out of the way, the Christmas tree standing in my living room was the next challenge. I usually go to church on Sunday mornings, but this week I was just too puny to do so. Yet, I was also feeling too good to sit on the sofa and vegetate, so I started the job. I gave it a good three hours and got about two thirds of the way through before I ran out of steam.

Then my bestie came over and we indulged in one of our favorite comfort foods, chicken pot pie! Later Bill dragged me to Olive Garden for dinner. He had a plan to maximize his monetary investment while feeding both of us. Good job Bill. We may be eating Olive Garden to go orders and leftovers all week, but you proved just how much food you could get for under $50!

The Christmas tree project was Job One for me on Monday. It’s time to get over the holidays and get back to real life. Come back next week for more adventures of Jane. Wednesday is Travel Talk and we’ll be talking about some Southwest challenges which happened long before the recent meltdown and Thursday we’re talking about what it costs to build a scrapbooking page. Looking forward to chatting with you!