Monthly Archives: December 2009

January 5, 2010 – FREE STUFF

I had to go to the Stampin’ Up! main website and do some scouting around.  I went to the Demonstrator area on the site and found the information I had been looking for.

The new stamp sets coming out by Stampin’ Up! will be available January 5.  Clear stamps.  I’m so excited about this.  To be accurate, the stamps are not clear, just the blocks.  The stamps are still the rubber everyone is used to but the blocks are clear acrylic.  They look to be hefty also.  Nooooo, no heavy hefty.  Good and thick so you can get your fingers on them and have good control of where you put the stamp.  Thick to allow pressure to be applied without the acrylic bending or bowing.

Now for the FREE STUFF.  There is a separate catalog that begins January 5 and runs through March 31, 2010.  All the items in the catalog will be in the regular catalog in 2011.  When this Sale-A-Bration is over the stamp sets, papers, and punches will go away into storage and not brought back out for purchase until the 2011 catalog comes out.

Soooo.  For every order placed online, at a workshop, or in a class that is $50 or more you get to have one item from the Sale-A-Bration catalog FREE.  Absolutely FREE.    You will get to have, in your hot little hands, a product that is not available until 2011.  The product you get from the Sale-A-Bration catalog is yours to play with all year long.

Just think about it.  You choose a product from the Sale-A-Bration catalog from your $50 order, make a few cards, gifts, scrapbook layouts, notes, or anything else.  Someone asks you where you got the punch or the stamp and you can reply from Stampin’ Up!.  When they ask how they can get one you will tell them, of course with a sad look on your face but laughter in your heart, “Sorry, you’ll have to wait until next year to get one”.

The Occasions Mini Catalog comes out on January 5th also and runs through April 30, 2010.  Brand new punch styles, more clear stamps, papers, epoxy brads, corduroy buttons, and lots of other stuff.  New vinyl wall art has been added to the Definitely Decorative line also.

So many ways to get new, never seen before, items and FREE STUFF with your $50 order.  Plus, beginning January 4th my brand new tutorials will be up in my website, Message In A Fold, to get you thinking about what you can do to prepare for all the upcoming events in your life in 2010.  So much happening and what a great time for it to happen.


Changes Are Coming – January 4, 2010

Filming of the projects for the first full week of January of 2010 are under way.

I am so excited by the new focus of Message In A Fold and what is going to be done, and what is happening already.

Stampin’ Up! will be coming out with clear stamp blocks.  That part I am truly excited about.  Not being much of a rubber stamper myself, using the wood block rubber stamps has kept me from really diving into the craft.  I’ve used the wood block rubber stamps made by other companies and just have not gotten excited about using them.

Stampin’ Up!’s stamps will continue to be the deep impression rubber with the foam attached that has been so successful.  The only difference will be the clear mounting blocks and the system they have of getting the stamp to adhere to the clear block.  Pure Genius.  The best part is the new stamp sets will be packaged in containers that are similar to DVD holders.  With limited storage space this is a big plus for me.

Those of you that absolutely love the wood block rubber stamps of Stampin’ Up! don’t have to worry.  You will still be able to purchase them and keep your beloved stamps.  Win Win for all of us.

Sale-A-Bration will begin soon.  This will be my first time of Sale-A-Bration so I’m trying to figure that one out at this time.  What it seems to be to me is added Hostess Benefits.  For an order of $150 you get to choose from the regular Level 1 Hostess items PLUS you get to order some awesome things from the Sale-A-Bration catalog also.  Such a deal, if I am understanding the process correctly.

For Message In A Fold and the exciting news going on here……well I’ll tell you that there is finally focus and some great things happening.  There will be video tutorials posted to the Message In A Fold website each week.  Not just one a week but 5 a week.

Monday – Scrapbook Monday – Layouts, mini albums, lunch bag albums, squash books, and more will be done on Mondays.

Tuesday – Tool Time Tuesday – We have all bought a trimmer, a punch, or some scissors and have them fail.  Or we’ve purchased a punch and used it one time only and now it sits making us feel guilty.  Tool Time Tuesday will be chock full of maintenance tips on our tools plus we’ll put those tools to use in ways to get them back out and used again.

Wednesday – Wet Wednesday – All things wet.  Glues, reinkers, stamp pads, water, and more will be dealt with.  I’m surprising myself by the many uses of all the “wet” stuff.  This should prove to be fun.

Thursday – Thrifty Thursday – We all have scraps that seem to pile up and don’t go away.  There are so many tips and tricks on the internet on what to do with the scraps from storing them to giving them away.  We will be dealing with those scraps and other paper problems on Thursday.

Friday – Friendship Friday – This will be a card and small gift day.  All of us have people in our lives with birthdays, anniversaries, births, weddings, and graduations (to name a few).  Most of the time we don’t have anything suitable when the event arrives or an idea of what to do so we go to the store and find something – anything – that will do.

Everything you will see in the tutorials will be available at my Stampin’ Up! website 24/7 with so easy online ordering.

So be looking for things to begin popping on Monday, January 4, 2010.  I look forward to hearing from you and seeing what you will be posting when you finish a project you’ve been trying to work on for a long time.

Wait…Don’t Throw That Away! – Personalized Journal

Wait...Don't Throw That Out!

So many people are into recycling.  Some of the items I would just chuck in the trash (or recycling bin) are getting a second look now.  “Would this be useful to me in my tutorials and gifts?”  If it is, I keep it.  If it is not, I DON’T keep it.  I am not an advocate for hoarding.  Clutter can be disastrous to most people.  Me included.

I have a difficult time getting rid of the paper supplies and embellishments I had accumulated  before I even heard about Stampin’ Up!.  So I have quite a bit of STUFF that I’ve held on to over the years thinking I would use it someday.  NONE of the products used in this tutorial are Stampin’ Up! products.  Well….that is not true.  The black ribbon I use as a bookmark is 1/4 inch Black Grosgrain from Stampin’ Up!

Journal From Recycled "Trash"

This journal is 5″ x 7″ with a depth of 1″.  You can make your journal any size you would like.  The math part can be a bit of a challenge, but it is not terribly complicated.  If you want to make an 8-1/2″ x 11″ journal with a 1″ spine and 1/8″ spacing in the spine, the math part would be as follows:

8-1/2 x 2 = 17″

+ 1-1/4″ for the spine (this will leave 1/8″ space on each side of the spine plate)

+ 1″ for the cover paper to be brought over onto the front and back flaps.

You will need paper measuring 19-1/4″.  You will not be able to find paper larger than 12″ just anywhere.  It can be found, but not from Stampin’ Up!

To be able to use 12″ card stock the spine piece will need to be in a different paper.  The math part will be a bit different.

For the main cover pages you will need two pieces of card stock measuring 7-1/2″ x 12″.  The spine piece will be 3-1/4″ x 12″.

Your cardboard pieces will be two 8-1/2″ x 11″ for the front and back and one piece 1″ x 12″ for the spine.

Follow the video in constructing your journal covers at my YouTube channel.  There are many ways of adding the pages.  Spiral bound, sewn signatures, glued signatures, something from the store already bound that you can alter to fit your journal.

This journal is for a young man, friend of our family, that has a sports blog on Yahoo! Sports.  He travels in his work, writes his column, and has quite a bit to say on his subject.  So…..for Christmas I thought I’d make him a medium sized journal he could take with him, or use in his work.

I will be posting a video on how to make the journal pages in the next day or two.  So check back for that.

Be watching after the first of the year for weekly projects using Stampin’ Up! products.  There will be a weekly theme making scrapbook pages, embellishments, books, cards, and who knows what else.

My 8′ x 11′ “Studio”

I am NOT an interior decorator.  Design principles escape me.  I also lack a knowledge of design concepts.  Mainly proportion.  The saying “Bigger isn’t always better” is a concept I learned way too late in setting up my room.

November 2003

This was my office and sewing room.  Scrapbook things were gradually brought in.  Mostly it was a dumping place with several flat surfaces.

When I wanted to work on a scrapbook layout I had to push stuff over on the 8′ table on the left in the doorway to do any work.

Real exciting and welcoming area, don’t you think?  This place made me crazy.  My justification was that being a truck driver and hardly ever home the room didn’t need to be anything special.  I wasn’t going to be there anyway, so it would just be a storage room that I would go and play in once in a while.

With my room being only 11′ x 8′ I knew vertical was what I was going to have to do.  I began searching online in 2005 for something that I could do with this room.  With a limited budget and unlimited questions about how best to do my room I began to really think about what I needed to do and what I wanted in my room.

California Closets

I wanted this, or something like it.  I had to measure my room and draw it out on some grid paper.

I had some grid paper 8-1/2 x 11 with 1/4 inch boxes.  I figured I could use that and the math would not defeat me.

I’ll wait for the laughing to stop.

That was a challenge.  Figuring out where the window fit on the diagram since it was not placed EXACTLY an even number of feet from the back closet wall on the left side of the window and from the kitchen wall on the right side of the window.  So I sort of guessed at where it was.  The closet and adjoining wall to the door were another issue for me to draw.  Then from the left of the door (inside the room) the wall makes a couple turns because of the furnace/air conditioner.

Once I had my floor space drawing done, then I had to figure out the height of the room.  There is a peak in the roof, more towards the door near the furnace  and outer wall, while it is  lower at the window side of the room.  This entire floor plan took me, literally, all day to figure out.  Someone with knowledge of how to actually do this could have had the room layout and floor plan done in about an hour.

Using the California Closets site I figured placement for the cupboards and the vertical bookcase like shelving units.  While hunting through the site I could not find costs for the units I wanted to use.  I had to find a local dealer.  $8,000 including installation.  Definitely NOT in my budget.

I had to adapt my plan to what I could afford.  My husband is totally AWESOME.  When I told him what I wanted to do he thought of Lowe’s so we went there to have a look at what they had.  I envisioned metal shelving much like the plastic shelving I already had in the room.  I was not looking forward to the trip to Lowe’s.

Lowe's Kitchen Cabinets

We bought 4 of these cabinets and I helped my husband install them.  All 4 were a total of $375.  A LOT of assembly was required in getting these ready to hang.  They came in a flat box with several bags of screws and other strange hardware.

The first cabinet was the hardest to put together, as usual.  Reading the directions and looking at the diagrams to figure out what we are being told to do.  The first cabinet took 2 1/2 hours to put together.

Once the first one was done, the remaining three were completed in the time it took us to do the first one.

I don’t have any idea why, but I had a stash of various types, lengths, and widths of wood in the closet.  The piece below the cabinets (used as a ledger board to hold the cabinet up for installation) had been moved around in this room several times before it ended up in the closet.  The thought of putting it in the trash had occurred to me several times in a few years but I hung on to it.  Some types of clutter can be useful later on.  NOT ALL OF IT THOUGH.

2 Large Storage Cabinets

The next purchase at Lowe’s were these two armoire type things.

The one closest to the door is 16-3/4 inches deep by 29-1/2 inches wide and 70 inches tall.

The other one is 21 inches deep, 47-3/4 inches wide and 70 inches tall.

My floor plan diagram was off by about 5 inches.  According to my drawing I would have had about 8 inches of room left from the outer edge of the closet door along the wall and to the room door.  By the time we got these units put together and up on the wall there is almost 3 inches of room left between the open door, that you can see, and the edge of the unit.

The cost of these two units was $350 and much assembly was required.  However, since we had already gone through the process on a smaller scale with the kitchen cabinets these units just required more floor space to put together.

Gallant Table With Extension from IKEA

I needed a table to work at and had found one at IKEA in Frisco, Texas while I was hunting online.  That was a day trip since Frisco is about 230 miles from our home.

This table with the extension was another Assembly Required item.  This is one heavy table and cost about $130.  While at IKEA I found several wooden box storage items that can be painted and decorated however a person wants to.  They are so handy I would recommend these to anyone looking for stack-able storage that can be altered to fit your own decor.  So at IKEA we spent about another $200.

For less than $1,000 I had my storage and room pretty much together.  Time, tools, sweat, and very little blood shed got this room to sort of be like the California Closets picture I so badly wanted.

IKEA Wooden Storage Boxes

These are the IKEA Wooden Storage units.  There are 4 of them here and each one cost $9.95.  Assembly Required.  The units come with all the screws, nails, and pre drilled holes to attach everything to.  It does not take long to put these together.

At first I just used a label machine I had and stuck them on the drawers indicating what was inside.  Not much imagination, I admit, but it was a place to start.

Wire Grid Cube Storage

I bought this black wire grid unit from eBay.  It came with enough pieces to create 4 squares.  This unit has gone through many transformations.

First it was along the wall on my table laid out horizontally with all my papers.  When I got tired of knocking things over to get at the paper products in the far corner I altered them to go vertical, as in the photo, and on the outer edge of the table.  Then it went in the closet and vertical to hold my papers after they came crashing out of the big wall unit the third time.

Kitchen Sink Shelf

My husband bought me a shelf that goes over a kitchen sink, a long time back.  This shelf had spent quite a bit of its life on a closet shelf or on the closet floor.

There were many times I picked it up and thought I’d put it out at the curb with a “Free” sign on it just to get rid of it.  But, I kept it.

It did, and still does, have a home on my table.  The thing to the right of it with punches hanging from it is a wall storage unit for rubber stamps.  At the time I had very few rubber stamps….not any more.  I purchased that item (the rubber stamp holder) from eBay.

So, since 2006 my room has morphed many times to fit the needs of my stuff.  And over the years I have acquired more stuff.

Before Thanksgiving 2009

My daughter in Arizona had a Workshop for me to do while I was out there.

I left this room in such a mess before I left town.  I had created some Thanksgiving cards here and made packets of things for the Workshop, cards for the people to do and a squash book.  By the time we were ready to leave town for the train trip my room looked like I felt.  Frazzled.

I had been dissatisfied with the look of my room for quite some time.

I admit it, the green eyed monster had seized me and I was coveting other peoples rooms.

I especially coveted this room….scrapduo…  I love all the color and the open space.  The big problem is that the coveted room is a whole lot larger than 8′ x 11′.  So I had to figure out how I could make my room pleasing to the eye – my eye.

So everything came out of my room…well almost everything.  It was piled up in the hallway and into the kitchen.

Books, television shows, and on the internet professional organizers have a mantra.  Sort like with like.  After I had that done I began to take a look at all I had and nearly ran screaming out of my home.  What had I done?  ALL THAT STUFF WAS IN THAT ROOM??????  How am I ever going to put it all back?

I had bought some things from IKEA while we were in Arizona and now I had to get them put up.

During this time my husband was beginning to feel better from his hypothermia illness.  At least I no longer had to take his temperature and blood pressure every hour as I had been doing for the past several days.  I could leave him for 3 or 4 hours at a time and if he needed me for anything he could holler.  He had no strength so I could not ask him to put the new items up on the wall.  I was going to have to use his tools.

I’ve watched many a DIY show with women using tools and it looked easy to do.  Power tools raise all kinds of fears and wild imaginings in my mind.  But I thought a cordless drill would not hurt me.  It didn’t, but it did get the better of me.

I thought, how hard can it be to drill holes in the ledger board under the cabinets at my table?  It can’t be too hard.  Well, I tried to do it for two days with very little success.  Either the wood was so much harder than the drill bits I was using or I just had no clue.  Yep, that was it.  I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

When my husband was up and around I asked him to come in and at least get one hole started for me.  Yikes.  I sure felt like an idiot when he told me I had the drill going in reverse the entire time I had been trying to use it.  He pushed the switch on the drill to go forward, then had to leave the room so I would not see him laugh.  I heard him though.

The Drill That Gave Me Fits

The towel bar like things with the hanging baskets is what I had been trying to get up for two days.  These are from IKEA.  The baskets can be set on a flat surface, mounted with screws on a wall, or they can hang from their handles on the bar.

You can see the drill in the foreground that had got the better of me.  Once I figured out how that puppy worked there was no stopping me.

Looking Into Room From Doorway

Looking At Table

Looking in from the doorway you can see the table has been pushed up against the far wall.  I took the extension off the table and shortened it quite a bit.  There is still quite a bit of work surface to use.

Looking Toward The Furnace Wall

I opened my fabric cutting table for my Cricut and my computer.  On the wall I mounted another towel bar thing and have hung smaller buckets to hold my decorative edge scissors and small punches – behind the Cricut.

Under The Fabric Cutting Table

This is under the fabric cutting table.  My larger punches – all Stampin’ Up are in the brown cardboard box that used to house photos.  Someday I will take the wooden thing that is next to the cardboard box and do something with it.  Might make some kind of an altered shadow box out of it.  I have to have the back of it fixed first, it has come loose.

The Rubber Stamp Holder

If I don’t see the things I have I forget I have them.  Then I go and buy more.  So I thought I’d make the rubber stamp holder into an embellishment holder.  Hooks and clips I got from IKEA.  There are dowels mounted into the frame of the rubber stamp holder.  Just the right diameter for the clip hooks I got to hang an assortment of embellishment items.

Maybe I’ll use these up and then have to buy more….

Ribbon and Chipboard

I now have most of my ribbon in front of me.  The regular spools fit in the IKEA basket, others had to be put in a wooden bowl which looks pretty good.

The chipboard embellishments I have had for a few years are now separated by color in glass jars and under that kitchen sink shelf unit.  Still have found a place for that thing.

My pens, pencils, scissors, paper piercer, and bone folders are in a box my daughter and her husband made a few years back for a bridal shower she was in charge of.

The IKEA Baskets

The IKEA baskets are hung from the rods and standing on the table.

My glues and glitter are in the hanging basket while my stamp cleaner and the tray for glitter or embossing powder stand in the basket.  I’ve also got my chalk from Stampin’ Up in the basket.

I have finally figured out a way to have the tools I use the  most close at hand without having to find them from elsewhere.

Stacking Storage From The Container Store

All the paper is now in vertical storage.

My Stampin’ Up paper is in the metal grid unit to the left.  Not much of that yet, but give me some time.

To the right of that are three stack able units from The Container Store we went to in Denver.  These are sweater storage units.  They are holding all of my non Stampin’ Up 12 x 12, 8-1/2 x 11, and scraps of paper.  I grouped the colors together.  Patterned and solid papers of each color have a shelf space of their own.

These papers will be used for my family gifts until I run out of all this paper.

Using The Large Cabinets For A Showcase

The room needed a bit of a color splash.  I had an idea to put scrapbook layout page protectors on the storage unit doors with layouts that need photos.  The colors add to the room and I can change them out from time to time or seasonal event.

Using that drill I mounted more bars to the doors of the storage units and hung more of my embellishment items from the bars with hooks and clips.

Tags, Words, Labels, And Letters

Embellishment items out for me to see.

I have tried to create a colorful space for myself.  One that is functional, organized, and pretty.

What I have seemed to have accomplished is something that looks a bit like a store.  I can live with that.

So….when you feel your space doesn’t speak to you any longer.  Or you begin to covet someone else’s space.  Maybe it is just time change things up a bit.

If you are contemplating setting up your own “studio” and are not sure what you will need in your space the best thing to do is figure out how much room you really do have.  What are your room dimensions – height, length, and width.

Just remember, if you have a small room don’t put in over sized furniture as I have done.  Bigger is not always better.  Another thing to remember is that your room will morph as you grow and get comfortable in what you are doing.  It is just as changeable as your growth and knowledge in this craft.

Getting Back On Track

As you may have gathered, my husband and I took a train to Tucson, Arizona just before Thanksgiving.    The purpose of the trip was to pick up a car we had purchased so I can have transportation while he is off being the sole “road warrior” in our family.

Thanksgiving was spent with our daughter that lives in Arizona.  Our daughter in California came for the festive occasion but was unable to stay through Thanksgiving Day, she had to be back at work for the Holiday.  Two Thanksgiving dinners were prepared in Arizona, then a third one was prepared in Colorado, for our kids that live there, a few days later.  I can say that I have been turkey’ed out this year…and it is not even Christmas yet.

On the return trip home, from Colorado, the temperatures had dropped considerably.  The thermostat on the new (to me) car was stuck in the open position and it was a very chilly drive home.  Needless to say, my husband became ill upon our return home.  A trip to the local emergency room for a case of hypothermia after being subjected to prolonged cold temperatures and our home heat thermostat being programmed to 60 degrees.  Neither one of us can figure out how to change the programming on that crazy thing.

My main focus was getting my husband better.  Any other business was put on the back burner until we got him back on the track to being well.

I will be posting more later today.  The actual business of tutorials and show and tell will begin next week.  I had to get my room in order first.

Taking The Train

Have you thought about taking the train for your Holiday travel?  Don’t know anyone that can recommend train travel?  I am no authority on this subject and can not give you much information about it.  I can, however, tell you what my experience was like.

In my opinion, it was not too bad.  Would I do it again?  Yes.  Would I recommend taking the train over other forms of travel?  Yes.

I have been fortunate to have experienced all forms of travel – except a skateboard, a wagon, or a sea going vessel.  I’ve made journeys in the back seat of cars which required a Dramamine before the trip since I have a problem with motion sickness.  I’ve driven long distances in cars, pickups, and semi trucks.  I’ve been on several air planes, and I’ve taken the Greyhound Bus.

This train trip was my first.  As far as the cost is concerned it was just a few dollars cheaper than the Greyhound Bus from Norman, Oklahoma to Tucson, Arizona.  For two people the cost was $236 for coach.  The trip was 37 hours in duration with a stop in San Antonio, Texas from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

At the Norman, Oklahoma train depot we got on the Heartland Flyer which has daily service from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas.  A trip of about 4 hours which began at 8:40 a.m.

Heartland Flyer

The Heartland Flyer makes daily trips from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Fort Worth, Texas.  It leaves Oklahoma City at 8:25 a.m. and returns at 9:39 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Oklahoma Universities and Texas Universities have an ongoing rivalry and game days find this train packed.

While my husband and I waited at the Norman train depot we learned that the fares are nominal.  They range from $43 to $10 depending on your age and frequency of use.  There were many people traveling for the Thanksgiving Holiday to be with family in Texas.  There were a couple of ladies that were meeting a sister for a bit of shopping and dining.

A young couple with two children under the age of 5 had one small suitcase, a diaper bag, and two car seats for their train ride to Fort Worth for the holiday.

I admit it, I groaned when I saw the children.  Yikes, screaming and running children for 4 hours was not going to be my idea of travel.  After about 10 minutes on the train I didn’t hear the children nor see them.

Anyone that has traveled in an airplane or a bus knows that small children can wear on your nerves and sanity.  So I can say that our trip was a pleasant one.

Baggage policy is each person can take on two pieces of luggage with a weight restriction of 50 lbs each.  The size of the luggage for carry-on is what an airline would have you check.  For the Heartland Flyer, no baggage car is available for checked luggage.  They do have a place to store the items you do not wish to take to your seat.  Items such as camera bags, diaper bags, briefcases, purses, strollers, computers, and any medical equipment (oxygen bottles) are not included in the luggage requirements.  You can carry these on and take them to your seat with any of the trains you ride.  With an exception to the Pacific Surfliner trains.

For our train trip, seats were not assigned.  We did, however, have to go on the upper level to our seats.  There, evidently, are different prices for lower level seating.  The stairway to the upper level was a bit dicey.  Not only narrow but steep.  Both my husband and I navigated the stairway with little difficulty, aside from balance issues when the train was moving, but we had to take extra care with the steps.  The steps seemed to be at a steeper incline than a standard stairway – but that could just be me and claustrophobia.  There is definitely not enough room for one person going up and another going down at the same time, even smaller sized people would not be able to navigate the stairway simultaneously.

Reclining Seats

As far as comfort and room goes, the Heartland Flyer and the Texas Eagle trains were roomy.  The seats were wide enough for me to not feel squeezed in and there was plenty of distance between our seats and the one in front to be able to stretch out your legs, prop up the leg rest and recline back and not be in anyone’s way in front of you or behind you.  According to the information page on the Heartland Flyer the seats have more room than the first class seating on an airline.  I don’t know about first class seating in an airplane but I do know that these seats were quite roomy and comfortable.

Once we got on the Texas Eagle out of Fort Worth, the seats were a bit more worn and lumpy in places.  Some of the foot rests on the seat back did not come down to prop my feet on.  It still was a comfortable ride.  This seating and sleeping arrangement was not going to work for my husband.  He broke his back in 1976 and would not be able to sleep in his seat.  He did request a sleeping room and the Conductor did an amazing job at getting us settled in one before we reached San Antonio, Texas.  There was an additional cost of $108 to be upgraded to the sleeping room.  This cost included breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the both of us on the next day.

There is a lounge car with seating that faces larger windows along both sides of the train car.  The seats do not recline in this car but there are foot rests and tables or small shelves to put a drink or a book on.  If you have not done much traveling across country this would be the seating for you.  Chatting with other people in the car, snoozing in the sunlight, watching the stars at night, plus many photo opportunities as the country side passes by.  A route guide is provided online if you would be interested in knowing railroad history as you travel, as well as landmarks along the way.

Most of the trains passengers will stumble through the lounge car on their way to the dining car from time to time.  I did.  Grabbing a seat back to steady myself a few times as the train rocked back and forth.  Much to my surprise I did not have any trouble with motion sickness.

Breakfast in the Dining Car

The dining car and the food prepared by Culinary Institute of America….well lets just say that there is a dining car and they serve food.

On our trip there were two people that served all who entered the dining car.  From 5:30 a.m. to well after 9:00 p.m.  Such a long day for those two workers.  Each diner was given several options to choose from for the meal.  The food came plated from somewhere on the train via a dumbwaiter then hand delivered to our table.

There is a sandwich and snack car on the train.  You can get anything from a hot dog to a deli sandwich, chips, sodas, and coffee.  There are other items for sale in the snack car.  I purchased a deck of playing cards to help my husband and I pass the time since we had seen most of the scenery any way over the past 9 years.

El Paso, TexasThere were several places along our route to get out and stretch our legs for a few minutes – maybe 5 at the most.  We were cautioned to stay near the train since it would depart on schedule.

My husband, I’m so lucky, left me a message in the dust on the window of our sleeping car.  There were many comments about his thoughtful note to me and none of them were bad.  Several of the women reminded me how fortunate I am and I whole heatedly agree with them.

There was an incident at one of the stops.  About 10 minutes before we arrived at the El Paso train station, and again pulling in we were all warned that this stop would not be long.  Some passengers spied a Burger King and made a dash for food.  When the train was ready to leave and moving, frantic calls were made between passengers on the train and their errant family members running as fast as they could from Burger King back to the train.  Admonishments were yelled by the train staff threatening to leave these people behind if they didn’t move faster.  There was a lot of groaning, huffing, and puffing going on when these people got back on board. Had these passengers not got back on the train they would have had to wait two more days before the train came back through.

We met people that had been on the train for over three days and still had several more days to go.  For a relatively short trip I would recommend this form of travel.  It is comfortable, you are able to walk about on the train.  Bathrooms are communal, there is a shower area in the sleeping cars and only available to the people in the sleeping cars.  Food and beverages are always available except for a few minutes at shift change each day.  There are travel games to occupy your time should you choose to purchase them.

There are handicapped bathrooms available not usually in the same car – you will have to hunt for one,  and 4 of the regular sized bathrooms in each car.  All bathrooms are located on the lower level of the train and are similar to that on an airplane.

So, if you would like to take a different kind of trip and have thought about taking a train for the leisure ride then check this form of transportation out.

Our train ride to Tucson, Arizona was to pick up a car I had purchased then drive it home.  Plus the added incentive to the trip was getting to have Thanksgiving with our daughter in Arizona (the daughter I make the YouTube videos for).  So I had two great reasons to take the train.