Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I LOVE HALLOWEEN: Don't Judge...

Got this today in the mail. I propped it on top of my old display typewriter in the corner of my office. It's kind of funny, the rest of my house is very modern--lots of retro and 50's style stuff, but my office...well, that's a different story. It's the one room that could only be described as...Victorian in nature. Filled with antiques and potted ferns, styled with my old-world maps and bookcases and dark woods--I even have a great turn-of-the-century styled settee. (as in 20th century, NOT 21st!) It's all reds and browns and dark walls and just the atmosphere I love to write in. So, the sign looks pretty good in here. At least until I turn the rest of my house into Creepyville. ;-) I don't know why, but Halloween always holds a certain macabre charm for me. I LOVE Halloween ephemera, I love the old fashioned vintage creepy stuff, it's so much fun! I am already working on several projects to prepare for Halloween, such as the "13 Days of Halloween" countdown, and a "spooky party" my Thing One wants to throw for some select friends. Can't wait!

Now, to figure out costumes...

On the 21 Day No Junkfood Challenge:

I'm on day three. Three days without soda, chocolate, and a whole slew of things. I'm actually doing ok. We went out to celebrate after Thing Three's XC meet last night, and I had to order water instead of my usual "Coke Zero with Grenadine" but life goes on. I am not really suffering. I am just eating more healthily. Although I felt bad because Thing Two, who is doing the challenge with me, I was helping him pack his lunch and I offered cookies, just before I realized we can't have them! (oops!) The look he gave me broke my heart. But he shrugged it off. We can do this!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Am I a "gamer?"

First off:

Day One of the 21-day Junk Food Challenge:
It really wasn't that hard. Well, maybe the "no soda" part. But I caught myself, a few times. Usually, if I want some cookies and milk, I just have them. If I want candy or chips, I eat them. No second thoughts. Yesterday made me aware that my food choices really aren't that awesome. Granted, a bowl of Lucky Charms wasn't on the list, so I sure had that for breakfast, but otherwise I was not dying or anything. Let's see how today goes...

So, GAMING.  I have one son who is a full-on gamer. At least, he games on his iPhone and iPad. He has an X-box and a Wii U, but I don't like the war/kill everything in sight with a semi-automatic weapon games, so he only has like Skyrim, and those types. No Call of Duty, no Modern Warfare, etc etc..

I am not a gamer in that sense. However, I've become addicted to Big Fish Games. I got started with the Puppetshow series:
 The game was creepy, steam-punky, macabre, just up my alley. And I LOVED the atmosphere. It immerses you in the world with eerie music and sounds and you solve a mystery and find hidden objects and work out puzzles. I was HOOKED. This was a few years ago. 

Anyway, there are about five or six continuations out there, and OH MY are there some fun Big Fish games. The creepier and more sinister the better, for me, I love walking through a haunted mansion, or a creepy graveyard, or a dark hidden tomb, looking for clues. It's addictive. Now that a lot of them are available on iPad, when I go to bed at night, I usually spend some time before bed playing around on one of my games. So, basically, I guess you could say I "game" every day. HAHA. 

Or is that something I should admit out loud? ;-)

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The 21-Day No Junk Food Challenge

This is it. I'm doing this. I found it on Pinterest, and it intrigued me. Would I be able to stick to this challenge? For 21 WHOLE DAYS?

Looking at this list, I am sad to say that I usually have at least half if not more of these things on this list, EVERY day. I am not the healthiest eater, ever. So, I am going to do the 21 day challenge, and post and describe how I'm feeling about it. Good thing I don't curse on the blog, because I think if I did it would be curses galore.

I'm sitting here, drinking my last soda for 21 days, and narrowing my eyes skeptically. I'm a "visual" person, so I need to see how I am doing. So, in my little laundry-room command center I've made a calendar, so I can cross the days off as I go:

This way, I can "see" how far I've come, and how far I have left to go. For me, that is motivating in itself. I have to be honest, the no soda and fast food and chocolate are going to be the HARDEST. Can I do it? Well, I'd better. Putting it on the blog keeps me accountable. Because it's embarrassing when you fail in front of the whole world...


Friday, September 05, 2014

Nickeled and Dimed to Death...

I usually refrain from being political on the blog, but I have to voice some frustration about the time we are living in. Is it me, or is everything costing WAY more?

I was at Wal-Mart the other day, and noticed that they have raised their prices on lots of staple items. I was surprised. When we moved here 4 years ago, a big box of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish was $5.98. Guess what it is now? $7.98. That's just an example. Even at places like Wal-Mart, groceries aren't cheap anymore. And for this family of six, which three teenagers, food goes fast!

Insurance is more expensive. My first 3 children were born in the 1990's. Guess what I paid for them? A $50 copay, and everything after that was covered 100%. Now, it's a copay for every pre-natal visit (and there are a lot of them), you get zillions of bills from the pathologists, Radiology, the tests, etc. etc. and THEN you get to pay anywhere from 20-40% of the hospital stay during the birth of your baby. We had a baby in 2007 and he was thousands and thousands of dollars. UGH.

Now, I learn that public school Driver's Ed (which was a FREE class in my time) in North Carolina will go up from the meager $55 it is now, to $300-$500 dollars per student after this school year! UGH! It's not enough that my insurance payments literally QUADRUPLED when my daughter got her license!

Gas is expensive. Groceries are expensive. Taxes are higher. Utilities are WAY more expensive. (I about fell over when I got my water bill for last month!) Insurance is pricey. School field trips are $100+ and they used to be like, FIVE DOLLARS. Airlines are starting to charge a fee for CARRY ONS. Everything is being stripped down to the most basic service, and things we were never charged for before are some sort of fee now, and it all adds up.

It's scary, how much money having a family costs these days. Don't get me started on College tuition.


Thursday, September 04, 2014

Funky Time of Year

Well, we are here again. That "awkward" time of year when school is in, and it's September, but it's not officially fall, yet. In fact, the temps the last week have been in the mid to high 90s. With 85% humidity. NICE. Not exactly sweater-wearing/leaf-raking/pumpkin everything-baking weather.

But I always jump the gun. I LOVE fall. The colors, the HOLIDAYS (so much to be thankful for and don't get me started on how much I love Halloween!) So, in preparation for this fall/Halloween season, I did the following this week:

1) Put up my Fall front door wreath.
2) Baked Pumpkin cookies
3) Went to the local craft stores (after combing Pinterest) and filled my list so I could make all my Halloween crafts (yes, I was the ONLY one buying Halloween stuff haha!)
4) Began my Fall de-junking.

I am ready for the sweltering summer to be over--bring on the cooler weather! Things I love about fall:

1) Hoodies and jeans and sweaters and boots
2) Football
3) Pumpkin in everything
4) Leaves changing
5) No more ginormous AC bill (haha)
6) Cider and doughnuts

Bring on fall!!! I'm ready!!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

So...I suck.

Needless to say, it's been A While. I've been so caught up in Facebook and Twitter and my children's lives and family stuff, the blog has pretty much fallen to the wayside.

I had my blog made into books by year at Blog2print (which is actually reasonable if you get soft cover) and I noticed that every year since I started the blog in 2004, the books get thinner and thinner. This year's will be non-existent if I don't start things up again. So, I'm going to revamp the look of things. I am tired of the old format, so changes are coming! And I fully intend to post regularly. Let's just see what happens...

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

I'm a Traitor: Real Books vs. E-Books.

I saw a Facebook post today with an article from the Huffington Post titled: In 10 Years, Will Kids Even Know What Bookstores Are?. 

Reading a book--as in a REAL book: holding it, turning the pages, the smell of it, it's all a very tactile experience for me. As was the thrill of holding my own first novel in my hands. It was a concrete thing I could hold and take with me. When e-readers came out for the first time years ago, I scoffed. "Nothing could rival the feel of a real book," I said. And frankly, I'm still holding to that opinion. Reading a book on a Kindle or iPad just isn't the same. But unfortunately, even for me, something did prove to be stronger than the pull of reading a "real" book:  


Take the latest release from the "superauthor" of your choice. It's a blockbuster, yes it is. And it's a monster. Hardcover, with a bazillion pages, it weighs a lot...but it's sooo pretty. And there are two immediate problems: A) It's going to take up space on your already sagging bookshelves at home, and B) the cost for said book is $23.99. As opposed to the e-version, available for $13.99. (And on one website, (gasp!) it's $9.99!!)

It's really not a hard choice. You tap a button, the download begins instantly, and within seconds, You own said book. You don't have to get in your car and drive to a brick-and-mortar store, you don't have to brave parking and people and standing in lines. You get instant gratificaton, and you don't have to worry about shelf space. See where I'm going with this?

I've run out of space in my office. I've had to buy more bookshelves, and now that I've run out of space for bookshelves, I have to "decide" which books need to go into storage. Yes. Storage. What is the use of buying more books when I don't have room for the ones I have?

Economy. It trumps everything in the end. Who doesn't want to save money? E-books are flat out cheaper than real books. And easier to come by, without wasting gas and time. If my son wants the latest Rick Riordan novel, all I have to say is "sure, go ahead and buy it on your kindle." And he gets what he wants, and there is no pestering at all for me to leave the house and take him somewhere to buy it.

So, I think I'm a traitor. I'm sinking the "real book" business by not buying real books. You know that commerical where one person stands there and says: "I don't recycle. I'm just one person. I don't see how it will make a difference." And soon they are joined by another person saying the same thing, and then another appears, and another, until you see a sea of people, all saying that what they are doing won't make a difference. But clearly, it WILL.

So, if enough people stop buying real books, the same effect will happen. It's happening now. It's HAPPENED.

I, too, wonder if my grandchildren will know what a bookstore is? They very well may not.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Strange and Weird.

I guess North Carolina isn't immune after all--we NEVER get snow here. None last year, and I think a few days the year before that. My kids don't even own snow boots. Why would they? They'd wear them once, and with four kids, that would be some $$$ for no reason.

It's supposed to snow here tonight, starting around 3. They are saying 6-12 inches. WOW. This never happens. I went to the grocery store and stocked up. (We already are stocked because I do all my grocery shopping for the week on Monday) but I had to get a couple more things of milk and eggs and TP--the basics. The store was CRAZY. People were being all anxious and weird and running around.

We moved here from Wisconsin. This is nothing. We spent the better part of six months SUBMERGED in snow, back in good old Pewaukee. (That's outside of Milwaukee, for those who don't' know.) We even owned not one, but TWO snowblowers. His and Hers. And yes, I'm completely serious.

So, my kids are home early today, and we may possibly have a snow day tomorrow. We are ready. I just hope the power stays on. THAT would be a game changer. I have no desire to be back in the 17th century again! At least we have a gas oven and stovetop and fireplace so we will be ok that way.

This is so strange and weird, but everyone all over the country is dealing with a lot of Strange and Weird, weather lately.

I'm not an expert, but I'm wondering where Global Warming fits into all this? ;-)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Because I like to Cheat...

...but not in the way you think. I mean when it comes to cooking and baking. I will be honest, I am not a chef. I can't whip up stuff out of my head and not bother with cookbooks, etc.. I don't like to experiment. I like tried and true stuff, where I know it will turn out if I follow the recipe and I know how long it will take.

And yes, I sometimes DON'T (gasp) make things from scratch.

Let's take Cinnamon Rolls, for instance. My family likes them. They love it when I make the dough from scratch and roll them out and roll them up and bake them, and my recipe yeilds like a thousand rolls. But it also takes HOURS to make them, so why would I want to get up that early on a Saturday morning? So, behold, the CANNED CINNAMON ROLLS:
My family loves these, too. And I love them, because they take 25 minutes, start to finish. But, there's a small problem with them:

It comes in that little teeeny tub at the end of the tube, and when you frost the cinnamon rolls, what do you get? CRUSTY EDGES:
Image borrowed from -

See how there isn't much icing? I don't like crusty edges. I like the icing to cover the whole roll, and make it SOFT. So, I've devised a "cheat" for canned cinnamon rolls. It's simple. All you need ( I have a family of six so this cheat is for two cans) is a tub of vanilla frosting, a small bowl and a spoon:
Nuke the two little containers of icing (that means put them in the microwave) for ten seconds. This will make them nice and soft. Take 2/3 cup of the vanilla frosting, and mix it with the little tubs.
See? You suddenly have twice as much!

Bake the rolls as you normally would, then use the frosting on them. And look ma, no dry edges!!!
 Now you're probably saying "But what about the leftover frosting in the tub?" Well, the answer is simple. Most tub frostings last 30 days in the refrigerator. So, take a sharpie and write on the tub
 the date 30 days from the day you use it:
This gives you 30 days to either use it for cinnamon rolls again, or all the other things you use frosting for. And you know to throw it out if it's past the date. 

I know this seems dumb to some of you, but honestly, I like little "cheats." They make things better! So, once in a while (when it comes to preparing food, of course) there's no harm in a little cheating!


Thursday, January 23, 2014


About a decade ago, I went on a MAJOR old-book buying spree. I frequented antique shops, flea markets, old book stores, Ebay, you name it. Yes, because ten years ago my children were young and I had OODLES of time to do such things--because none of them were in sports or school. I just carted them around with me. Yes, I had an enormous stroller.

ANYWAY, I was organizing my office (a little belatedly, since it was supposed to be done the first week of January) and I was lovingly putting all these books in a display bookcase, and I realized that one of the books was a fake, and inside it I had placed a 1903 copy of Baedeker's Egypt. I had put it there for safekeeping, out of sunlight, and hadn't really looked at it since.

I remember why I bought it. At the time, I was researching what a young british tourist would find on holiday in Egypt. Because they went there all the time, you know. Egypt was a prime vacation spot at the turn of the century. And I wanted to know what a guidebook from that time would have looked like.

Well, I gingerly opened the book and found that it probably hadn't been opened much since it's original occupant possessed it. There were tiny newspaper clippings and handwritten notes from 1903 inside, and then...and THEN...

I found it: a small dried flower, pressed between the pages in the middle of the book. My imagination immediately went wild. What if the person who owned this book, was wandering around Egypt and found a pretty flower and put it in the book? In that case, I had a little flower that had traveled thousands of miles, and hadn't seen the light of day in over a century.

I got a little shiver. It was a magical moment. Probably not exactly how Howard Carter felt when he first gazed on Tutankhamun's tomb--one that had been untouched for centuries, but for this average-joe stay-home mom of four, it was close.  

Very close. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

An Epiphany. BIG TIME.

I sat in my car this morning, waiting at a stoplight, and had the hugest realization ever. I was lamenting how busy I am and how nothing seems to get done and how I was feeling overwhelmed, etc. etc. etc.

I realized, that 99.99999% of my problems, stem from my inability to budget my time. Pure and simple.

I've never been a "scheduler." I've never been one to sit down and plan out my day, unless I knew I had 8069574 things I needed to do in a short time frame. I prefer a more "relaxed" schedule.

Unfortunately, with a husband who works all the time and four active kids, a "relaxed" schedule simply isn't possible.

If I budgeted my time, I'd have time to work out. Time to write. Time to clean the house. Time to spend with Hubby and kids. I look at all these moms who seem to have it all together AND they have time to do things like make scratch meals or run in mini-marathons. Why can't that be me?

WHY is exactly my problem. I need to stop wondering WHY, and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I need to have a cleaning schedule. A master schedule with all the kids sports games, practices and appointments on it. And I need to sit myself down every night, and spend 15 minutes planning out the next day.

Theoretically, I should have time to do what I call the BIG FIVE: Working out, Housecleaning, Writing, Hubby/Kid time, and Learning something new/me time.

I was lamenting this to my friend, and her response? "Me too. I should run to Target and buy a planner. But I really want to just take a nap." Which pretty much sums it all up.

Time to make some changes!!!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Nothing like a Fresh Start.

January is always a weird month for me. I go from "Merry Christmas-Let's-put-bows-and-garland-and-lights-on-EVERYTHING," to "Christmas-is-over-get-it-all-down-and-leave-no-trace-as-if-it-never-happened-as-soon-as-possible" mode.

A complete 180, if you will. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the holidays. They are my favorite time of year. So festive, so fun, so full of good cheer and good will toward men, etc. etc. But when it's over, and I take all the decorations down and pack them away, I do love the feeling of a more clean, open, less cluttered house. It gets me in Organization Mode, and I feel the need to dejunk, my house, my life, and other things. January is motivating. A fresh start, a new phase. I always begin each year with a great attitude and lots of good intentions.

THEN...about halfway through the year I start to panic, because I realize half the year is gone, and I haven't accomplished what I wanted to as far as I wanted to. By the time October rolls around, and we get in the full swing of the Trifecta of Holidays some people call HallowThankfulmas, I throw up my hands and commit to enjoying the holidays and making a fresh start at the new year.

Wash rinse, repeat. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Maybe THIS year, I should actually venture out of my comfort zone, and put myself out there more. I am what you might call a dichotomy. I am a writer, and I love to write, but I am especially lazy when it comes to self-promotion (it annoys me when other people do it excessively, so why would I do that to others?). So I don't. And I won't get very far with that attitude. Let's be real, I haven't.

I've also noticed over the years I've invited people over less, been more focused on my own family than branching out a little. Granted, in winter, everyone can be a bit of a hermit, but it's good to get out.

So, this year, I want to "get out there." Not a lot, just a little. Just more than I usually do. Because change is good. I'd like to think it is.

Sunday, January 05, 2014


Santa was good to us for Christmas. Hubby got a new Macbook Pro (it was time, his four-year old one was on its way out) and I got a 13-inch Macbook air, so my writing can be more portable.

Anyway, I am not ashamed to admit, I am a little old school. I had a PC for 25 years, and old habits die hard. I like MS Office. And since my switch to Mac I have put Office for Mac on my Macs.

So, I dig out my copy of Office 2011 for Mac (We had installed it on all four of our Macs two years ago) and installed it on Hubby's. Then I installed it on mine. I got the error message "this product key has already been used." Well, duh. Isn't that what you always do with Microsoft Office? You buy one expensive copy and put it on all your computers at home? (Let's face it, no one has just one home computer any more.)

Unluckily for us, the money-grabbing cretins at Microsoft were counting on this fact, because as of 2013 they decided that going forward, their MS Office copies would be ONE DOWNLOAD ONLY. If you want another product key, you have to go and spend ANOTHER $219 and buy ANOTHER copy of Microsoft Office. A fact I confirmed with the software people at Best Buy last night at 8:55 pm, because I had to run there right before the store closed and buy ANOTHER copy of MS Office.

I am glad we already have it on our other macs. Can you imagine having to buy THREE more copies instead of one? I was furious. Fuming. I can't believe Microsoft has gotten this greedy. DE-SGUSTING.

I have Pages and such, but I've worked with Word for so long, I just don't want to use anything else. Another fact I'm sure Microsoft is counting on. Suckers like me will pay to have their products.

I miss the good old days when companies weren't trying to nickel and dime you to death. Those days are SO gone. Another part of America I need to say bye-bye to, forever.


Wednesday, January 01, 2014

OMG It's 2014...

...and a time for New Year's Resolutions. I separated mine out into categories. Personal, Spiritual, Home/Family and Writing. I do love the beginning of a new year, so bright with promise, and the allure of a fresh start is always welcome.

I also get on my yearly "organization kick." I sat down and detailed a 4-week "Home Organization Challenge" and I'm going to stick to it. So, by February 1, my entire house will be organized. (Not including storage areas and garages, that will be for February, haha, I am, after all, ONE person!)

I love new beginnings. I love fresh starts. I loathe all the work that goes into them, but it pays off in the end.

And yes, one of my goals is to post on this blog at least a couple times a week. Because I've had it for way too long to let it die. I know I only have about six people even paying attention to it, and that's fine. The blog is more for me, anyway. ;-) I like living with the illusion that people actually are interested in my life, aside from my family members. ;-)

So, happy 2014 to all! Hopefully this year will be better than the last. And more eventful. And more SUCCESSFUL. I am all for that!