Presented For Your Consideration: 7 Writing Prompts + 1 Photo Challenge

Another busy week here so I’m going to do something fun & different. I’m using the following back-to-school writing prompts AND I’m snapping my first #bumblebeebookstack photo. Tell me what you think…

Teacher Turned Mommy is hosting a blog hop in which she has provided these 7 prompts. Click HERE to be magically taken to her blog where you can learn more about it.

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ONE

My memories of the first day of school involve two things: ANXIETY about what my new teachers would be like & CURIOSITY about who I’d be sitting by.  People, figuring them out & getting used to them– that’s what I remember from my first days of school.

TWO

My favorite school supply was paper.  Whether it was lined or with grids, plain white or a beautiful color, small size or large, loose or in a spiral notebook– I LIKED PAPER.  [Still do.]

THREE

The teacher who made a difference for me was my freshman high school English teacher, Mrs. L——-,  who believed everyone could be a writer if they followed one simple rule: BE SPECIFIC. [Years ago in response to a prompt I wrote about Mrs. L——- here: The One About My Favorite Public School Teacher.]

FOUR

Here’s the thing about apples, they are my favorite fruit.  I LOVE APPLES, all varieties.  Cooked, baked, raw. In salads. Turned into juice or cider. With peanut butter on each slice. With chunks of cheddar cheese to go with.  With popcorn, even.

FIVE 

Getting a new box of crayons was [and is] a treat.  My mother, who had strong opinions on this topic, felt that one child with 64 crayons was excessive and unnecessary, so I MADE DO WITH 48.  Periwinkle and Cornflower Blue were my favorite colors.  I did not like Raw Umber.

SIX

When I think about new friends I’m reminded that I went to three elementary schools in four years.  I walked into the first two schools only knowing a few kids from church, but the third school was different.

It was a new school with a new building that combined about half the kids from each of the first two schools I went to;  therefore, for the first time, I KNEW ALMOST EVERYONE.  And this made me happy.

SEVEN

Answering what’s in your lunchbox is difficult for me because my mother didn’t believe in packing lunches.  She was all about a HOT MEAL so she made me buy my lunch every stinking day until I got to high school when I was allowed to pack my own lunch, that I put in a brown paper bag.

Some of the cafeteria food wasn’t so bad.  I liked the fish sandwiches and the Spanish rice and the baked beans and the no-bake cookies– but the salmon loaf was beyond bleech.  Subjecting innocent children with their tender taste buds to it was cruel.

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I got this idea from Instagram. This is what is called a Bumblebee Book Stack. Finding the books was easy, but photographing them was more difficult than I thought it’d be. Go figure. 

As Summer *Unofficially* Ends, It’s A Party In The Parsley

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This hasn’t been a good summer for our flower beds and shrubs and the flowers in the outside pots of floral prettiness that I insist on scattering around the grounds… until I feel at home.

[Gold star to anyone who gets that reference.]

But on the other hand in the end it’s been a great summer for parsley.  After a slow start the darned stuff has thrived in this hot humid weather.

Each spring I start parsley from seed inside the house, then either add it to my outside pots of floral prettiness as a filler or just put some parsley by itself in a pot to grow.

[It doesn’t spill, it doesn’t thrill, but oh my goodness it does fill.  My parsley-centric adaptation of the classic how-to create an outside pot of floral prettiness.]

I do this because black swallowtail caterpillars, who turn into beautiful butterflies, like to munch on parsley. Oh yes they do.

They have a voracious appetite for it and I’m more than happy to feed them what they need.  ‘Cuz I like to see butterflies flitting around our yard.

Happy Labor Day to everyone who will be celebrating it this weekend. Catch y’all on the flip side, kids.

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Notes On Getting My TSA Known Traveler Number + Chitchat About Where I’ve Been

Let’s heAR it for Ms. Bean

This summer, after yabbling about doing this for years, I finally enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program.

The online application was easy.  The total cost was $85.00 for five years.  But it did require an interview with a real person at a TSA-approved IdentoGO office that happened to be nowhere close to where I live.

My interview appointment time, the soonest I could get, was 4 weeks from when I sent in my enrollment– and then it was 10 days after that before I got my official TSA Known Traveler Number [KTN].

For me this was not a fast process

Do I need this TSA PreCheck status?  I dunno.  But after some of my air travel experiences, most notably standing in the Las Vegas TSA line for 1 hour 45 minutes, I’ll do anything that *might* make the process less painful.

[Click HERE to read an article that helped me to better understand the program.]

And on that note, having talked about the practical side of travel, I’ll share the following fun and pretty stuff.

I created these images using the Visited Countries Project on Douwe Osinga’s website. You may already know about this because it’s been around for a long time.

Nonetheless here is where I’ve been
I’ve been to 9 countries which amounts to 4% of the world.

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I’ve been to 34 US states which amounts to 68% of the country.

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I’ve been to 3 Canadian provinces which amounts to 23% of the country.

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QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Are you in the TSA PreCheck program? If so, how has that worked out for you?

Where did you go for your favorite vacation ever? Where did you go for your worst vacation ever?  

Got any travel plans for the rest of this year?

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This Is How I Make 2 Types Of Images For My Blog

Have you ever heard someone say that their mantra is to always be recommending?  I love that idea.  Information is part of what makes the world go round.  

To wit, here’s what I use to make 2 types of unique images that I share on The Spectacled Bean. I’m often asked about where I get my images, so here you go.  

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WHEN I TURN PERSONAL PHOTOS INTO ART I use a free app called Waterlogue.  It’s on my phone, ezpz to use, and offers a variety of looks.  Here’s an example of a before and after image.

First I took a photo with my phone.  This is that photo.

Then I used the app choosing one of their filters, in this case the Illustrator, to make my photo look snazzy.  This is the after.

As you can see the app has taken a so-so photo and turned it into a bombdiggity blog-worthy picture.

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WHEN I CREATE IMAGES WITH TEXT I use Canva on my desktop computer [or here for your phone].  It’s a graphic design website [or an app for your phone] featuring a variety of free templates, many pre-sized for any social media you might use.

First I picked a template.  This is the before.

Then I did a fast little rewrite using the first movie quote that came to mind, thus creating something clever and unique.  This is the after.

In this example I did a color change & resized the font but there were many free and $$$ options I could have used to make this image even more amazeballs.

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I hope that this information is of some value to you.  

If you know of other ways to create blog post images [preferably free] please recommend them in the comments below.

And on that note, with nothing more to say here, I shall wish all of you Happy Blogging.

At The Grocery Store: You Say Potato, I Say Bosc Pear

A conversation in the checkout lane in which I once again educate the youth of today, a boy child, about the produce one finds in ye olde Kroger…

Cashier Kid: What are these?

Me: Pears.

Cashier Kid: They don’t look like pears.

Me: They’re pears. Bosc pears.

Cashier Kid: What’s that?

Me: Pears.

Cashier Kid: Really?

Me: Yes. Look them up on your list.

Cashier Kid: How do you spell it?

Me: Bosc with a B.

Cashier Kid: Huh, they’re here, BUT THEY DON’T LOOK LIKE THE PEARS MY MOM BUYS.

Me: Uh huh.

Cashier Kid: What do they taste like?

Me: Pears.

Cashier Kid: Why are they so brown like potatoes?

Me: Because, like apples, there are different types of pears. There are golden delicious apples and red gala apples and green granny smith apples, right? Well, there are different kinds of pears.

[Long pause while cashier kid glares at my bag of Bosc pears, presumably thinking about what I said. A learning experience?]

Cashier Kid: Hmmm…

[Second long pause while Cashier Kid stares at me as if he thinks I’m pulling some kind of con on him and the entire Kroger chain of grocery stores.]

Me: These are Bosc pears.

[Finally accepting my explanation of the pears in question, Cashier Kid weighs them so that I might be permitted to buy them.]

Cashier Kid: Bet my mom wouldn’t like these pears. She likes the green ones, THE REAL PEARS.

And so endeth the conversation about pears…

Let’s Chat: Answering 24 Questions About My High School Experiences

I got these questions from John at The Sound of One Hand Typing. He got them from Barbara at teleportingweena. I see that Melanie at sparksfromacombustiblemind has done them, too. Clearly these are THE QUESTIONS to answer.   

Think about your SENIOR year in High School. The longer ago it was, the more fun the answers will be!

  1. Did you know your current significant other? No. We met in college a few years later.
  2. Make and year of car? I didn’t have a car until I was a senior in college.
  3. What kind of job? I worked at a DQ until it went out of business. I never could master making those DQ swirls on top of the cones, but I don’t think that’s why the place went out of business.
  4. Where did you live? I lived in a small house on a brick street a few blocks away from the high school. I walked to school.
  5. Were you popular? I had friends but wasn’t part of the A-list crowd.
  6. Were you in choir? No. I was in the orchestra and the band.
  7. Ever get suspended from school? Why yes I did. Didn’t you?
  8. If you could, would you go back? Are you crazy? I would not in a million years want to go back to high school.
  9. Still talk to the person that you went to prom with? I didn’t go to prom because no one asked me, therefore I have no one to talk, or not talk, with.
  10. Did you skip school? I liked school enough to not skip it.
  11. Go to all the football games? I was in marching band therefore I was forced to go to the home football games. Our team was not a winning team. *yawn*
  12. Favorite subject? I liked English and I also liked Printing which was part of a graphic arts department. Those two subjects made up for Chemistry and the most boring American Government class that has ever happened anywhere in this country ever.
  13. Do you still have your yearbooks? No, I threw them away years ago.
  14. Did you follow the career path you planned? I had no career path in high school. It was just something to get through on my way to college.
  15. Did you have a class ring? Yes, I had a class ring. It was yellow gold with a dark green stone in it. I still have it [somewhere].
  16. Still close with your best friend? Yes, she comments here sometimes.
  17. Who was your favorite teacher? My favorite teacher was the assistant music teacher who’d just graduated from college the year before. His youngest sister was younger than I was and attempting to think of him as a teacher was almost impossible. He was a hoot, especially when he tried to direct the orchestra, something he did not do well.
  18. What was your style? I was a girl wearing matchy-matchy outfits in bright colors with coordinating jewelry and pretty shoes. Let’s call that style: small-town Glamour magazine teenage chic.
  19. Favorite shoes? I don’t remember any one pair in particular.
  20. Favorite music? I liked rock and I liked jazz. I played classical.
  21. High school hair? I had a short hairstyle that made my mother happy. I stretched my curly hair straight and used about half a can of hairspray each morning to keep the frizz at bay. It was a labor-intensive hairdo.
  22. What kind of cologne/perfume? I don’t remember any one perfume that I used. I’m sure I did, but what it was, I dunno.
  23. How old when graduated? I was 18 years old.
  24. Did you play a sport? No, but I did take all sorts of lessons, like golf and tennis and swimming. But as for a team sport… you gotta be kidding me!

FYI: For the next few weeks I’m going to bug out of the blogosphere while we do homeowner things. Our house is 20 years old. There are problems to solve, issues to address. Therefore, I’ll be busy elsewhere being a responsible adult. Look for me back here mid-June.

Purple Dahlias: Musings While Looking At Said On A Tuesday Morning

April showers. May flowers.

Hello green grass. Howdy to this purple dahlia [that looks pink to me].

Regardless of its color I like it because it’s growing and budding and flowering.

Doing that which I like to see.

Both when it comes to gardening and when it comes to people. No one wants to be around someone who isn’t learning new things.

Or at least, among the people who I know and respect, that’s the way it is.

You live, you learn, you grow.

And then you remind yourself to encourage other people to bloom where they’re planted, too.

A simple saying, perhaps trite, but based on a truth.

An approach to life that lends itself to contentment and invites balance. Inspires joy, I have found.

Clear mind, happy heart.

My thoughts for this pleasant spring day. What’s up with you?