Monday, November 1, 2010

Celebrate Those That Have Passed...With a Picnic

 If you have read my blog in the past you may have seen this poem I wrote for one of Mama Kat's Workshop days.

When the fall days ripen into an orange haze,
When the shop windows fill with leaves and candles and webs
I think back to a time where we still laugh and wish
For full pillowcases

When the streets hush early,
When the first tiny children step out as something other than themselves
I tie the ribbon in a foolish way ‘round my head to hide
My face and maybe tears

When the lights bob down the way,
When the laughter and joy fills the streets
I’ll ponder the delicious fragility of this travesty of the day
That celebrates the thin veil between this world and the next.

When the sun rises tomorrow,
When the stone warms to my touch and the grass is scented
I’ll take my cakes to your resting place
And share them with you.

This is a poem that is a bit of an ode to the last day of October and the first two of November.   I am talking of course of Halloween, All Souls Day and The Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos).  Over the years as I have pondered what my spiritual beliefs were there is one spiritual tradition that comforts me and makes me smile. Here is a line by line explanation of the poem.

The Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico on the 2nd of November.  On the 1st they also celebrate this but is is specifically for children and infants that have died.  I celebrate it on the 2nd mostly due to my Dad.  My Dad loved Latin American culture and I am sure that if he had lived longer he would have made many more trips to his beloved Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Mexico.

My Dad died on October 31st at around 4am.  The traditional aspects of Halloween were forever changed for me after that day.  I could no longer be bothered with dressing up or worrying about Halloween parties or anything like that.  I was and still am heartbroken that he left us at such a young age.  After a few years of faithfully going to the cemetery on the 31st.  I found myself unable to get there one year.  The guilt was terrible.  I managed  to get there on the 2nd though and on my way, I realized that is was the Day of the Dead.

I knew vaguely what the holiday and it's traditions were.  Having no time to make sweet cake in the shape of death's heads, I stopped at Wawa.  I picked up my Dad's favorite hoagie, Italian, a Coke and Reece's PB cups.  All things he liked.  I went to the cemetery, laid out my yoga mat and had lunch with my Dad at his resting place.  I didn't have to talk but could sit, reflect and laugh and even cry.

Instead of going on the 31st, I go now on the 2nd to celebrate my Dad.  I might still cry at times but I want the planned time I spend with my Dad to be more of happy memories both mine and his.

If you have never looked into the culture of this celebration, I highly recommend it.  We all have loved ones we have lost and at times there almost seems like there is no way to cope.  For some reason, this made sense to me and I cherish it as something not only I do in memory of my Dad but in memory of other loved ones that have passed on.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Writers Workshop: Stall Her!

Growing up my sister and I babysat all the time.  I don't want to toot my own horn but we would get booked months in advance.  We were the kind of sitters that played with the kids and made sure the house was clean when the parents came home.  Most kids didn't cry when their parents left and if they did, they didn't do it for long.  Our business grew by word of mouth and we never had any complaints from parents or kids. 

I did have complaints sometimes.  There was one family who just wasn't right.  The first time I babysat for them, they told their 11 year-old that I was not there for her, just the rest of the kids, basically license to be a brat.  Then their home decor was early dead African animal.  I am not kidding.  There were mounted animal heads everywhere from Africa and pics of the Dad with his kills.  (Sidebar: I don't have a problem with hunting if the hunter is choosy with his kills AND eats the animal as well.  Killing for killing sake is not a sport in my opinion.)  The first time I ever babysat for them they started freaking out about the baby ducks in the barn (it was a horse farm) that were bleeding and kept throwing the ducks at me.  I went home, my new pink Gap collared shirt covered in duck blood (this was the 80's). (Note: the ducks were fine, the ends of their feathers were scratching them.  Normal when the flying feathers are growing in...I think they knew that).

I always tried to come up with excuses as to why I could not sit for this family.  Unfortunately, if the Mom got my Mom on the phone, my Mom would usually accept the engagement without asking me (oh, YES you did, Mom!). 

One time, the last time, I was there babysitting during the day and we walked down to the barn.  The 11 year-old went into an empty stall and said, 'Oh, no!' and pointed at the corner where she was on the ground. I along with the younger girls went to look what she was worried about.  The 11 year old ran out of the stall door, slammed the door shut and locked us in, laughing, then ran away.  The girls got scared and started to cry a little bit.  I gave them hugs and told them it was ok and we'd figure a way out.  Luckily, there was a small window not far off the ground.  I turned a bucket over and was able to lower the older of the two girls out of the window and to the ground.  She ran around and opened the stall door.  As we were walking back up to the house and I was telling the girls how helpful they were, the Mom came in the driveway.  I did not see the oldest girl but told the Mom what happened.  She wasn't even that apologetic.  She kind of laughed it off. 

The next time she called (cannot even believe she called), I declined her offer and told my Mother I was never going back there and if she accepted a job then SHE could go and get locked in a stall.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Caption It!

It seems like some of you really liked my "Caption it!" idea from last week so here's another one.  This is from our vacation this summer.  I think this pic tells a story.  Look closely.
Have fun!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Finally Have My House Back

I did not blog last week really because...well...I barely wanted to breathe.  You see, our house has been in a state of disarray for about about two months now.  This was a combination of piles of stuff in the living room that was for a yard sale.  We were having a yard sale because we cleaned out the room we were using for storage because that room was getting finished to be used as a combo dining and 'Masterpiece Theatre' area.  Then, we also had been waiting for a fridge for a long time from Best Buy and then needed to be cut and sanded down, blah, blah, blah.

For me, it was a nightmare.  I have issues.  I know, who doesn't?  Unfortunately, my issues lead me to Crazytown when I can't get a handle on the condition of my home.  I tend to spiral off into rants that make no sense and lose all focus when my house is in the condition it was a few days ago.  Mostly, it is my husband who gets the brunt of it.  I don't need the house spotless (although that makes me very happy) I just need it tidy.  Last week there was a conspiracy against me.  Between the cluttered crap, the curtains being closed ALL the time to hide the crap and the fruit flies I started to seriously lose it. I remembered the feelings of anxiety and they frightened me.  The more I got scared, the worse I felt.  It was a big nasty circle.

Now, the yard sale (which I will write about later) took care of the crap in the living room, the kitchen is clean and free of (almost) all fruit flies, the fridge is in and working great.  I was finally able to make dinner in my kitchen without having to scrounge for counter space.   I have my house back and I feel so much better. 

The reason I am writing about this is because, looking back on how I felt and the way I handled it all tells me that I need to do somethings to help myself out.  I am not handling my anxiety/depression well and I think it's time I went back to someone to talk about it or get something medicinal to help me focus.  At times I feel like I am weak for needing this but then other times I see that at least I can recognize the warning signs rather than letting get as bad as it got several years ago.  This time I am choosing to get some help and it feels better.  Hopefully soon, I will get back to feeling really step at a time. 

Getting my house in order in this case means not only my physical house but my mental one as well.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

So you probably read that last week was a Craptastic one.  Yesterday one of my monitors at word died too (for me it is like having an eye patch over one eye) so I think that's in the 3 things that go wrong then you are out of the woods.


Today on Facebook I said "I really would like to say something positive with all the bad luck I have had over the past week...still trying to come up with something."  I really hated to say it but that is what I felt like.  I had a bloggy friend from across the pond that gently reminded me that I do have a few things to be positive or thankful that I have.  

clean water
two doggies

He of course was right and as I thought a little about those things, my fog lifted a little, enough for me to make my lunch.  Then the fog lifted a little more and then I thought about writing about it and now, I am bright(er) eyed and a little more ready to crawl out from under the black cloud that has been hanging around for too many days...partially my fault, partially fate. 

So today I am going to ask you, even though it might sound a little Pollyanna-ish, especially from a cynic like me, If you see someone under a dark cloud, say something nice.  It doesn't have to be annoyingly cheerful, just an acknowledgment that you 'see' them and there is a light out there beyond the black cloud.

Thank you BS5. :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Craptastic Day

I really wanted to write a good post today.  Instead you are getting a letter I sent to my girlfriends (edited for my blog) because I am so done with this day.

So I was in an accident today.  My new 2011 (notice it is not even
2011) baby was hit by a woman coming out of a school parking lot
(after dropping off her kids thank goodness).  It is not drivable.

Also, my phone keeps dying on me for no other reason than I believe
all phone have a suicide code that when they hit over 2 and a half
years they are programmed to die so you have to get a new phone.  This
caused problems between me and P whose phone I had to use to deal
with insurance.  He was giving his 2 weeks today and was late for that
meeting because of my accident.

Also, KoP Plaza first floor flooded in case you did not know.  Our
beautiful new Lottery Yarn store now is sopping wet with water and mud.

I am picking up my rental in an an hour or so then going back to bed.

That is all

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Caption It!

I was at a bit of a loss today but wanted to start posting more pics.  Here is one I took at P's soccer game a couple weeks ago.  I welcome any captions you can come up with.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Bit of a Rant: When Companies Make Mistakes

I was so excited this weekend!  I was getting a new fridge!  Even better, we were getting a nicer fridge than we originally picked out because it was a floor model.  It had zero scratches.dents or whatever.  It just so happened the one we picked the store was not carrying anymore but here was this nice Electrolux counter-depth, stainless steel fridge just waiting for us to take it home. 
Isn't she pretty? Thank you Best Buy for the pic. 
I prepared all week for it's homecoming.  I cleaned out the fridge and the freezer.  I carefully planned our meals for the week so that there would not be a whole lot in the the fridge/freezer to switch over.  I put off my usual soup cooking for my fall/winter lunches to keep the freezer as empty as possible. 

At 9:50am P got a phone call. 

Warehouse Worker: "Your fridge is out of stock."
P: "Um, no.  It is a floor model, there is only one of them.  It cannot be out of stock."
WW: "Well we don't have one here." 
P: "Is it still at the store?"
WW:  "I don't know.  It is out of stock."
P: "No, that is impossible.  Again, it was a floor model we touched and saw this week."
WW:  "Well if it is still at the store maybe you can pick it up."
P: "It's a refrigerator."

Can't explain to you what would have happened if I had fielded that call.  I think that is why P gives people his cell number now instead of the home phone. I can tell you that the laws of physics would have been broken and her head would have somehow ended up on my side of the phone.

So we haul ourselves to the store and luckily the woman we worked with to buy the fridge was there.  She saw us coming and said, "Guys I am so sorry.  I am on hold right now to find out what happened and get it fixed."  She even brought her manager over and he apologized profusely.  For some reason, the warehouse sent it back to the store and they have no clue why.  We thanked them for working it out and left.  Later we received a phone call and were told the fridge would not arrive until Thursday.  This was Saturday morning.

Now, after going through something much worse but similar in the area of inept delivery with Sears and our washer/dryer a year ago, we are familiar with how things work between the company that sold you the item and the people who are in charge of getting it to your door.  The people that sold the item are actually pretty decent and will do what they can to help you...

...the delivery companies basically tell you to suck it if they have made a mistake.

In my humble opinion, what SHOULD have happened, is they should have gotten our fridge on the very next truck leaving that warehouse and brought it to us at a time-frame we chose, not them.  Why?  Because we already arranged our schedule to meet them the first time, it is their turn.  It is called CUSTOMER SERVICE.  We paid you, now you deliver.  Secondly,  I know that Monday was an option because it was a date would could have picked when we originally chose the date.


Not possible.  Why?  The idiot at the warehouse could not explain why.  Why?  Because the less the people answering those calls for complaints know, the better for the people higher up.  All they care about is that they don't have to go an extra inch, let alone a mile for a customer. 

So, this is a controlled rant.  Why?  Over the years I have found it is much easier to find the root of the problem and concentrate on ranting on that root rather than the whole tree.  The associate that helped us originally, was very good at her job and did everything right.  It was the delivery company that caused the problem and then because they don't have to deal with me directly, can sit on their lazy butt and just say 'no' for no reason.  The store is at their mercy as well seeing as how they only have one delivery company. 

Now, when the fridge is delivered on Thursday, the store will be getting an email from me.  It will sing the praises of the people in the store and tear a new one in the delivery company.  I figure it should be at least worth a gift card.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Writers WorkShop: Don't You Just Want to Squeeze Him...Just Not too Hard

This is M-dog.

Isn't he a cuddle-umpkins?

You better say yes or I will sick his sister G-dog on you and she will jump on you until you let her kiss you on the face.

M-dog is a big love bug who is a scardy cat. His jumping around when we encounter other dogs on walks (and teenagers in black shirts and white vans and the occasional blow up chair) is often misconstrued as aggressive dog behavior.  It is hard to see him not be able to romp with other doggies besides G-dog and to constantly look out for other dogs around corners and such. 

You might think this is his worst trait and while it is difficult to deal with at times, the fact that we know he is a cuddly bunch of love is fine.  He does have another issue that is most difficult to deal with, on normally associates with beer guzzling, junk food eating, snoring, uncouth men...

he farts!

Yes, you say, all dogs fart.  Yes they do but do they wake you in the middle of the night with their silent stench?  Oh, yes...they are the silent but deadly type.  You never have time to prepare.  It can happen anywhere and at anytime.  Is it associated with an urgent need to use the facilities (grass, bushes, etc)?  No, he will let one fly foul just after he's been  Is it when he is scared?  Sure it has happened but is not narrowed down to a stressful squirt. 

M-dog is exceptionally good at carpet bombing or crop dusting; walking in to a room, letting one loose and walking out.  Then when you turn up your nose and pass out he is confused. 

I sincerely wonder sometimes if he doesn't even know that thing came from him.  He likely thinks the smell came from one of us and probably likes it less than we do because he cannot distinguish it as his 'own brand'.  In his mind we are the foul humans who need a bath or Beano or something. 

Still you can't help but want to love him and cuddle him and squeeze I said about though...just don't squeeze too don't know what you might unleash.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fall Back into Place

Fall to me is synonymous with comfort. It seems that all things fall into place this time of year.  I am calmer, I am happier and I am able to reflect on subjects rather than attack them with my opinions. 
I am not sure what it is about fall that makes me feel like I am back where I should be.  It could have something to do with the fact that way back when I was in school, starting the routine was so safe and comforting.  I don't think I ever saw it that way but I can trace certain feelings back to that.  Things from the rumble of the bus under my saddle shoes in grade school to the dust up of falling leaves under the tires of the car as we jetted off to high school.

These days I think my fall routine has more to do with cooking than with anything else.  Cooking is comforting to me because I have gotten to a point where I can follow a recipe, or not and still have a good outcome.  I am comforted by the warmth and the scents and the jazz music that I usually play while I cook. A poof of flour is easily dusted up without the humidity of the summer and the oven can be on without the need to strip down to a sports bra and running shorts.

I love that I can have a taste of fall by just heating up some apple cider and sipping it as I read my favorite book.  Favorite books and a cup of something hot are always a soothing combination.  They allow my mind to wander within the realm of the world of the book and my eyes gently follow the words instead of devouring new material that I have a tendency to speed through. 

I will sit outside tonight after a fall dinner of ribs, roasted root veggies, and salad, a half smile on my face, a cup of tea in hand as my mind wanders through Middle Earth.  I will be happy, peaceful and


Monday, September 20, 2010

How to Irritate Me

P: I had a peanutbutter sandwich and the rest of the Humboldt Fog cheese for lunch.

Me: Why?

P: It's all we had.

Me: Um, what about the rest of the London Broil in the fridge?  We had bread and cheddar cheese and lettuce...There was grilled chicken in the freezer and salad in the fridge...

P: I had the London Broil yesterday.

Me: I am sorry your highness, that I did not have another selection ready for your table today.  Perhaps you should send me the way of Anne Boleyn and a couple other of your wives.

P: Depends on what is for dinner.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inspiration in a Whisk - Back 2 Blogging Day 4

I now have that song by Chicago "Your the meaning in my life. You're the inspiration." in my head and it will not go away.  I blame 80's sticky, sweet sap music if this post doesn't cut the mustard.

These days, inspiration can be hard to find.  The media and the internet age seems to expose every flaw in those we hold up on pedestals.  While knowing the truth is a good thing and also knowing no one is perfect is as well, sometimes, it mars the image we had of the person we held to such high esteem.  In my case though, there is an exception.

Me and Julia, we love our knives - courtesy of
Julia Child

Why is she an exception?  Julia never thought she was perfect nor did she ever hide her imperfections.  
I remember seeing her on Public Television when I was little.  I watched her chop things and giggled at her funny voice.  She said words like terrine and Bon Appetite.  I thought she was from Europe. 

Now I know better thanks to "My Life in France" and "Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child".  Julia was an amazing American woman.  It was not just her cooking that made her amazing, she had a wonderfully full and rich life that she achieved on her own.  She was a risk taker and had a passion for life that I so wish I had.

Before Julia even knew how to cook anything, she worked in the Office of Secret Services (predecessor to the CIA) during WWII.  She signed on as a typist but because of her education, she soon became a top secret researcher.  How cool is that?! She received a medal for her work and was greatly respected by her peers and superiors.  She was an organizational machine, cataloging all the officers working for the OSS and keeping track of where they were and what skill sets they had.  This was BEFORE EXCEL!

She married Paul Child whom she met while in the OSS in what is now Sri Lanka.  He signed up for the US Foreign Service so it was off to Paris where Julia discovered her true calling - food.

This was a Valentine's Day card she and Paul sent out one year.  They didn't do Christmas cards but made their own Valentine's cards every year.  She cooks AND she is crafty.  Totally rocks!
Now most of us know the story.  She went to Le Cordon Bleu, and became a famous chef.  End of story.  Not quite.

What you might not know is Julia was the only woman at that time that attended Le Cordon Bleu in the professional section and she spoke next to no French when she began and oh yes, all the classes were in French. 

WHA!  Seriously!?  YES!  She learned French from people and classes while she was there. I can barely read the Metro signs in France (which any child can follow, and do) and she was listening to cooking classes and reading French books not knowing French.  Crazy and awesome.

Also, she started a small cooking school with friends in France and called it L'Ecole des Trois Gourmandes.  These are the women with whom she wrote a little book called "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" or as I (and many others) refer to it, the bible.  Actually, they had a hard time selling that book.  Some silly company named Houghton Mifflin passed it over, citing that it was too much like an encyclopedia. 

Um, yeah...encyclopedia of GREATNESS.

It took time but they found another publisher.  Julia didn't give up.  When it was published, it became a best seller.  Put that in your omelette pan and flip it Houghton Mifflin!

We all know from Public Television or (Saturday Night Live, which she thought was hilarious) that she was on TV as well.  She flung fish and chopped chickens and served up French dishes in a way that made people say, "I can do that."  The more people that tried it, actually liked it and a new cooking movement was born, or reborn depending on your opinion.

Julia was a force of nature, in the best possible way. She was strong, passionate, smart and lived life to it's fullest and still was the gal you want to hang out in the kitchen with a glass (or many glasses) of wine.  I think she is one of the most amazing women to ever walk the face of the earth.  She inspires me to at least try to take risks and ENJOY LIFE!  I am working on them both but I have a good person to learn from.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Dog Cooks! - Post Title I am Particularly Proud Of - Back to Blogging Day 3

I am participating in the SITS gals Back 2 Blogging event.  Today on Day 3 we were to choose a favorite past post based on a title we liked.  That was really hard for me seeing as I think maybe my titles need work AND I could not separate the content from the title while I was choosing.  I tried very, very hard.  I chose this post because you probably could not help but click on it if it showed up in your list of updated posts.  I mean seriously, who doesn't love a dog who (tries to) cook?  Also, my doggies are my kids so this is as close to a Mom post as I get. ;)

I chose a post circa 2008:

The Dog Tried to Make Brownies

This is how my weekend without internet started.
I walk in the door to let G-dog out at around noon Friday and notice a bottle of vegetable oil on the rug in the living room oil spots on the sisal rug and the cap next to the bottle AND a bitten but not eaten box of brownie mix on the floor under the dining table.

Me: (calling out) G-dog!, (waiting) G-dog!

G-dog: (Comes out of bedroom, sleepily blinking eyes and wagging tail) Dude, I was sleeping. What's up.

Me: What did you do?!

G-dog: Well I ate the treats you left for me. The one you hid under the pillow was hard to find. Relaxed a bit, got bored with moose, rabbit, squirrel, et al and went into the kitchen to find something to do. I went in to the room I'm not supposed to and decided to make brownies.

Me: Brownies.

G-dog: Yeah. So I got the brownie mix out and then realized I needed vegetable oil so I went and got that. Then I realized the oil was in a plastic bottle and you know how much I like plastic bottles.

Me: Uh-huh

G-dog: So it started innocently enough, I was working on getting the cap off then I bit the bottle and it felt so good I continued. Then I tasted the oil and decided, ick! So I dropped it on the floor and nosed it around a few times, trying to get the oil out and eventually I went back to the brownie box and realized that I needed eggs AND water too. Well I had water in my bowl but the eggs are in the fridge and I couldn't reach them so I abandoned the whole brownie idea and went back to the bedroom and took a nap.

Me: So you do realize that you can't have brownies. They are chocolate and not good for you.

G-dog: Really!? Huh. Well I guess it's a good thing I didn't make them then.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gift to Myself for My Birthday

It seems 38 is not such a bad place to be.  I have been gifted with good skin from my Mom and Grandmother so I don't look quite like a cougar yet.  I have friends all over the world and all over the interwebs.  I really don't need much.  So what to you get for the girl who has everything?

Since I am ME I would probably know.  This morning, I gave myself a dose of good health.

"GA!"  You say, "That is boring! How about a new pair of shoes or a cute purse?  What did you do? Drink one of those crazy Green Monsters or your Overnight Oats?"

Nope...what I did this morning was push myself.

"No!!!" you say, "Why on earth would you want to do that on your birthday? You could have slept in, cuddled with the doggies and then been late to work because you stopped at Starbucks overslept."

What happened was the voices inside my head told me, to take it easy this morning because it was my birthday.  I could have rolled over and slapped the alarm a couple more times but...the fact that I was another year older made me get up and out the door.  I was tired, I really was.  Last night Halo Reach came out at midnight and of course P had to go get it and play it which woke me up and/or kept me from sleeping well.  So after I walked the doggies, I set out to run.  As much as Annie Lennox told me 'One more time for the womenkind' and Cowboy Troy enticed me to 'play chicken with the train,' the voices kept telling me, "It's your birthday, you can stop at 3 miles.  It's like a gift to yourself."  I knew better.  I knew the best gift I could give myself was to push on to my 4.5 miles on my 38th birthday.  Even when the voice told me it was ok to stop and walk (which it usually is) for a bit, I felt a deeper need to power through, to prove to myself that even though I was 38 years old and I had too much pizza the night before, I could do this.  I could round the bend a the top of the hill and keep going.  I could run past the STOP sign that was usually the end of the run for me.  I COULD GO ALL THE WAY!

And I did.

Happy birthday to me!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bloggy Bootcamp Philadelphia ReCap - (Extended Version)

For a shorter re-cap from me, click here

My head is still spinning from Bloggy Boot Camp in Philadelphia this past weekend.  If you read my post on Friday, you'd know I was a little nervous and unbelievably excited at the prospect of meeting all the wonderful ladies that I had 'met' online over the past couple years and meeting new SITS girls that I didn't know before that were newbies and vets. 

Now knowing Tiffany (in all her pretty glory and melodious voice) I knew this was going to be a special event but I was blown away by everything that was packed into an 8 hour conference.

Scary Mommy aka Jill Smokler showed us how to grow our blog in "an organic and authentic way" by following some basic social media etiquette.  You must visit her.  She is an amazing person and blogger.  I also commend her for not killing her husband when he brought a puppy home while she was away.  We have dogs but I would kill my husband if he did that to me and then I'd let the new dog take over his half of the bed.

Nap Warden aka Cynthia Wheeler rocked an awesome video about blogging and why your design is important.  I loved seeing her show us why a 250 pixel heading is a good way to BUT...that rule is made to be broken at the right time and blog.  She is a super talented illustrated and designer and in love with all things Adobe.  Someday Cynthia, they will be begging you to represent them.  I know this.

Better in Bulk aka Laura Franklin's presentation could not have come at a better time for me.  She wore her beauteous DSLR camera proudly around her neck (I hope she got a massage later) while she showed us how to get the best out of our cameras.  You know how we bloggers LURVE our pictures!  Her top 10 Tips are now inside the camera bag of my NEW NIKON D3000!  I might have to laminate it. ;)

Uppercase Woman aka Cecily Kellog in her very quiet and unassuming way (giggle, giggle, giggle) explained how we can find our voice when it comes to our blog.  Ok, that is all wrong.  Cecily showed us how to ROCK our inner voice through our blogs.  Her 'be yourself' no nonsense attitude made me want to run out and attack all those opinions I have that I have not shared on my blog out of shear fear I might offend A reader.  Ok, then I calmed down and realized she was showing us how to be ourselves and still connect with our readers.  Cecily just rocks and I really hope I can put my voice out there like she does.

During our PR 101 section Just Precious aka Julie Meyers Pron, The Centsible Life aka Kelly Whalen and Philly Burb Moma aka Shannon Ott made the somewhat confusing and overlapping worlds of PR, Advertising and Marketing understandable.  Their instructions on adding a "Blog Package" vs. a "Media Kit" to your blog were invaluable.  Having people from the industry teach you about the industry was unbelievably helpful.  They are also local gals so I was mucho proud to have them speaking. While the PR virgins were getting their info on, the vets were in another room gabbin' it up about what they were up to with the next steps to their blogs.  You'll have to check in with some other attendees for that info. 

Feels Like Home aka Tara Ziegmont blew us all away with her roadmap to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  The brain on that chick is amazing.  She explained how shearch engines work and how to use them to get people to find your blog.  What happens when you type your blog name into a search?  want it to be up top?  SEO is the way to go.Oh, I am also breaking her rule at this moment with a long post.

Open Sky's go to guy for social media, Ted Rubin, showed us not only the intriguing world of Open Sky and having your own easy as pie shop on you blog but showed us how relationships matter.  He uses the phrase ROR or Return on Relationships a good deal and he knows what he is talking about.  It is all about the networking whether you are blogging, running a business in a brick and mortar store or doing your business online.  He also likes scotch.  My kind of guy.

It all ended with drinks, feather masks, a little bit of JC Mellancamp dancing at the cocktail party sponsored by VirtuaWoman.  I wish I could have partied all night with these ladies.  I was having such a good time.  Alas, this chickie was local and took the Lansdale/Doylestown home at the last possible minute.  Please read my shortened version of the conference here and my do's and don'ts and general suggestions if you are Campin'  at another event.

Bloggy Boot Camp - My Brain is Full (Short Version)

If you'd like to see my full re-cap go here.  I highly encourage you to visit because I have included each speaker what they spoke about and links to their blogs.  They are amazingly talented women and they probably have posted info about their presentations on their blogs.  If you can't get to a Bloggy Boot Camp, stalk these ladies.  I cannot say enough good things about them. 

Ahem, to begin Tiffany is pretty...even without Photoshop actions to make her look rested and her voice is that of a thousand butterfly wings over lavender, beating not in unison but in a melodious tempo to sweeten the air and soothe the mind.  :)

Ok, here's the lowdown on Bloggy Boot Camp.  My brain is full.  That is all.

Just kidding!  I still remembered to shower and keep up basic hygiene on Sunday and Monday.  I did wear my bra on my head but my husband caught me before I went out the door.

But I digress, you don't want to hear about my awesome fall style, you want to hear about Bloggy Boot Camp in Philly. 

Here is what I LOVED about Bloggy Boot Camp:
  • Everyone was Tweeting about it in the days leading up to it.  Tiffany sent out a Twitter list and we all tweeted excitedly.  BTW - if you are not doing Twitter and you want to meet other bloggers, run, don't walk and get yourself a Twitter account.
  • A meet up the night before was a great way to get to know people early.
  • I got to FINALLY meet Kathy, Tiffany and Jill aka Mama Kat, SITS girl extraordinaire and queen of the R Family Diaries and Scary Mommy.  It was like a backstage meet and greet with your favorite bands.  if you go to a Bloggy Boot Camp, the bloggers you love WILL be there and they will be so happy YOU are be there!  
  • I was able to use all my social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, etc) while the conference was going on.  This was great because people got to document some of the wonderful things that were said, right then and there for those that could not make it. 
  • I got something from each and every speaker.  There was not one I wanted to leave for a bit for or get a cup of coffee because it didn't apply to me.  Everything applied to me or to my blog or will in the near future.  
  • Every person there, was glad I was there and I felt the same way about everyone else.  It was a love fest and I was happy to be a part of it.  Whether you have thousands of followers, or not any, everyone was there because they love to blog and want to support those who do.  There was no toxic talk, no comparison of money made, in fact it was barely spoken about.  Why?  Because that is not the measure of a good blog and everyone there agreed with that.
What I did not love about Bloggy Boot Camp:
  • I did not stay in the hotel with the other bloggers. :(  I was very local so I thought it would be fine to take the train in to Philly for this.  Boo!  Never again will I make that mistake for any conference.  I didn't have a place to go between the conference and the party.  Luckily because Nap Warden aka Cynthia and Every Day Childhood aka Kelley, they let me hang with them and eat pizza.  :)   I missed the late night stuff and the additional bonding.  I really hated to leave when I had to.
  • I did not take enough pictures.  I vow to bring a camera EVERYWHERE now.  Whether it is my new 'big' camera or the point and shoot, look out because I am going to git ya!
My advice for future campers
  • If you have a laptop, bring it, if you can bring a power strip bring it. You can probably make money off letting people rent space on your power strip during the day.  Kidding!   Just bring one if you can.  I promise people will be grateful.
  • Stay overnight if you can on the day of the conference.  See above.  
  • Tell Tiffany she is pretty.  She is so it's not hard but she really likes to hear it.
  • If you don't have time to buy business cards, print some up on your computer.  You'll do a lot of talking but having a card is a great way to follow up with people if you only got a second to chat.
In closing, have a to-do list a mile long but if I never went to Bloggy Boot Camp, I wouldn't have a list of cool ways to improve my blog.  I'd be stumbling around in the dark.  Thanks to BBC, I am in the light...and I have cool sunglasses for it too. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Social Media Overload or Why I Need Bloggy Boot Camp

It started out simple enough a few years ago.  Start a blog and and write.  I like to write always have.

Then it happened ...comments.  People read what I wrote and liked it!  They even took time to tell me they liked it.  Then I started reading other people's blogs then they read mine...followers!  I blogged daily, sometimes more than that.  I came up with "My Island" and people loved it!  I met up with a blogger in Massachusetts, As Cape Cod Turns, while I was on vacation and we hung out.  It was awesome!

Then I was a featured blogger on SITS.  OMG!  The comment love was so addicting!  I met more bloggers and followed more blogs until...


I didn't blog for a long time.  I thought about it often and I admit...I lurked.  I felt guilty for not nurturing my blog.  I missed writing.  I watched too much tv. 

So I started again, a little at a time to get back into the swing of things.  It made me happy so I decided to put more effort into my blog.  I bought a domain name but wasn't sure how to migrate it also, it seemed the game had changed.  Between Facebook, Twitter, something called BlogFrog...what the heck is that?  Keeping up with all those Tweets should be a full time job oh and was I writer on my Facebook fan page or a business?  If I was going to participate in Health Living Blogging could I only write about healthy stuff?  Am I persona non grata at BlogHer now that they pulled their ads from my tiny blog?  What about stats and how much should I care about them...and how do I get to do reviews and giveaways? 

I must be doing something wrong. :(  I started to get lost again and then...

Da da da da!  

I saw it, help from the gals at SITS!

And it was coming to Philadelphia.

It was like a bunch of things all fell into place the week I discovered I could go.  Finally someone, actually a lot of talented someones, would all be gathered together to help each other make the most of what they love doing, writing, blogging, networking and I could get some help!

I am so excited to share a freezing hotel conference room on Saturday (and Friday night at dinner) with a ton of other funny and talented writers I can barely contain myself!  It is going to be a crazy weekend for me but it will all be worth it I know.  I will gain knowledge, insight and most of all...

a new bunch of friends who blog.  Can't wait to hang with you all!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Writers WorkShop: The Best Movie I Ever Memorized

This week's choice was a no brainer for me.  I have this odd gift for remembering just about everything about any movie I have seen.  I even remember things about movies that I don't want to remember like 'From Dusk Till Dawn'...ick is all I have to say about that.  I pretty much kick ass when it comes to movie trivia, as long as I have seen the movie at least once. 

One of my favorite movies of all time is Clue.  This movie, to me, is hilarious.  It has slapstick comedy, bad accents, Nurse Kelly from MASH and best of all...Tim Curry.  The rest of the cast are amazing comedians as well and I just wish they had worked together more.  The dialouge is quick and witty and smart.  It reminds me a little of how Gilmore Girls was written, not the comedy but some of the rapid fire dialouge.

I am not joking when I say that I had this movie memorized when I was younger.  In fact, if I was watching it today, at this very moment, I would be able to recite it word for word.  Why?  I wore out the VHS tapes of the flipping movie.  It was more of an obsession for me and I can't explain exactly why.  It is similar to one of the books you can read again and again.  They give you a sense of comfort and home.  I think this type of comedy gave me that.  I have it on DVD now and on cold nights I will sit and watch and laugh and laugh like I am watching it for the first time.  Maybe it's the laughter that gets me.  There are few things that I can watch that make me laugh every single time I see it...there is one other one but that is another post.

Basically think of the board game Clue.  All the characters are represented with a few additions.  They are all being blackmailed in McCarthy era style and someone dies, then someone else dies, etc.  They then have to figure out who the murderer is.  It could be any of them and they all have a weapon, a la the board game.  The simpleness of the plot makes the comedy easy and the twist 'endings'... and yes there are three different ones that were played in different theaters across the US... smart and well calculated. 

Below you will find 'Clue in 52 Seconds'.  It is a very well edited snapshot of the movie that a guy did for a class and put on YouTube.  In total it is 1:24 but well worth it.  Better than the trailer.  If you have never seen the movie give it a go, I think for many people it might have that Anchorman quality - meaning you have to see it more than once to really start laughing.  For me, it was love at first Tim Curry.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Quran Buring or Don't Give Matches to Idiots

I am filled with hate.  Wait...that can't be right.  I don't want to hate.  Hate is what is causing the problem in the first place. 

Maybe it's not hate but an loathing of ideals. 

No, it's hate. 

What I'd like to do is go to each and every person that sent Terry Jones in Gainsville, Florida a copy of the Quran to burn and ask them what is the most precious book they have in their possession.  No undoubtedly, many will say their bible but some others might mention a photo album or a scrapbook of memories.  Maybe it was a book their read to their child or was read to them as a child.  Books that have no replacement value but are priceless because of the meanings they hold.  They treasure the meaning.  I'd like to hold it.

Then I'd like burn it in front of their very eyes.

They would hate me for it.  They would hate my action, they would hate me.  They might even try to kill me for doing it out of sheer rage. 

Do you think then, Jones supporters would understand what the burning of a book the Muslims consider more than holy actually means?  If their actions in killing me for burning something precious of theirs are justified in their eyes, why would they expect something different from another human being just because they are Muslim? 

Do they really think that the burning of the Quran is going to stop Muslims from being Muslims?  Do they really think an entire religion is going to shut down and say, "Oh my we are scared of this preacher man Terry Jones.  We should give up our religion and become Christians because that is obviously the only RIGHT religion." 


What it will do is make targets out of US Citizens around the world.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  After someone is killed overseas, in the name of Allah, do you think Terry Jones will worry that the blood of that individual is on his hands?

No, I am sure that he will go the way of Pontius Pilate and wash his hands of the action.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Happy 'New' New Year!

No, I haven't cracked quite yet. 

I don't like 'celebrating' in the freezing cold where the longest day of darkness just passed eleven days prior.  I don't like celebrating by waking up the next day, wondering what I promised myself the night before. 

What I DO like is running at 7am when the sun is not high enough to be too hot.  I like passing the smiling faces of kids on their first day of school...and the bigger smiles of their parents.  I love the smell of the fall fresh cut grass and watching the geese start to fly V-formation.  I love that my CSA delivery is going to have kale and acorn squash in it today, a sure sign of fall.

I decided this morning from now on, the Tuesday after Labor Day is MY New Years Day.  It's a day of celebrating the wonderful summer, the gorgeous fall weather to come and the coziness that winter will bring. 

This is probably the best idea I have had in a long time. I will be celebrating by making a fire in the outdoor fireplace this evening and enjoying a cool dinner outside, maybe even some cider. :)

Want to celebrate too? What will you do to celebrate this version of New Years?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Run that Makes You Look Forward to the Next

I have been sick the past two days so this is a post I wrote on Friday about an awesome run.  It helped me remember that my fall runs are very, very close.

I was looking forward to this run all week! The temp was supposed to go down to around 50 overnight and I knew the temp was going to be in the low sixties and low humidity in the AM.  I didn't mind getting up early and walking the dogs first.  They were ready to go too.  I think they realized how gorgeous it was outside too.  They were frisky and and happy as they bounded through their usual paces.

I also knew today I was going to be able to get in my 4+ miles even though I had not done it in a couple months.  I could just feel it in the air.  My iPod started me off with "Womankind" by Annie Lennox from The Women soundtrack and really got me moving.  The beat is great and very uplifting.  I just added it to the mix a couple days ago and it is definitely a winner.  I also like the next song from that same soundtrack called "I Feel It All" by Feist.  It has a great beat but is a little bid subdued so it kept me from bursting out of the gate.

As I ran I noticed that the leaves are starting to fall from the trees and it made me smile becuase I know I will have more beautiful runs like this one coming up.  Eventually I cam to my some what comedic song on my mix, "I Play Chicken with the Train" by Cowboy Troy.  Don't judge me.  It's a combo of country and hip hop and it works and makes me smile every time I hear it.  It also makes me want to dance in the middle of the run.  Someday I might just do that.

Moving on, at about 20 minutes I got that feeling, you know that feeling that you get when you have hit your stride, your breathing works and you feel like you could run forever.  Made me wish I'd gotten up even earlier so I'd have a little more time to do just that.

It seemed like every song in my mix hit at just the right time to either pump me up or remind me to keep my pace even.  Songs like "The Good Stuff" by Sid Maudlin and "Send Your Love" by Sting, remixed version and finally the best one, right at the end, "Straight Ahead" by Tube and Berger.  "Straight Ahead" hit as I was on a straight away towards my endpoint.  I did 4.3 miles in 38:30. :) I am now in a fantastic mood and can't wait for all of my fall runs!

Entire Playlist
Womankind, Annie Lennox
I Feel it All, Feist
I Play Chicken with the Train, Cowboy Troy
Hong Kong Garden, Siouxie and The Banshees
Aphrodisiac, Bow Wow Wow
Show Me the Money, Petey Pablo
Head Like a Hole, Nine Inch Nails
The Good Stuff, Sid Maudlin
Merengue, Robert Abigail (featuring DJ Rebel)
Send Your Love, Sting (remix Dave Aude)
Belleville Rendez-Vous (French Version), Beniot Charest
Straight Ahead, Tube and Berger

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Island: Rick Gets a Buddy

If you are new to my blog you can read about "My Island" by clicking the "My Island" label at the bottom of the post.  Short version: I send people there that I believe have no business being in the gene pool or really with most of the population.

Here's a list of who is there and links to their posts:
Brittany Spears, Amy Winehouse, Lindsay Lohan, Rick Santorum (this was the first post so there were a few people sent right off the bat)
Ann Coulter
Elizabeth Hasselbeck
Ocotmom, Nadya Suleman

This was a hard decision, not because I don't think this person belongs there but becuase I have a list in my head of others who belong there as well.  Also it was difficult because although I was familiar with this person, I did not have the in depth knowledge I feel I need to have to send someone there.  As I have said before, I do not send people willy-nilly.  I am not going to just toss the likes of Snooki there just because she is a moron.  She's relatively harmless really and provides some people with a good deal of comic relief.

The person I chose in many ways frightens me.  His name is Glenn Beck.
Thank you Wikipedia and Photo by David Shankbone for this seemingly cute photo of a jackass

Just looking at this photo steams my hair into frizzy ringlets.  It was hard to do the research on this 'man' becuase everything I read made me angry.  This man twists and bends history for his own benefit and dare I say amusement.  He twists charitable religious organizations into Communist and Nazi organizations.  At one point saying, "Christians [should] leave their churches if they hear preaching about social justice because they were code words for Communism and Nazism."

Um, k.  

He later elaborated that he meant that if confronted with a Black liberation theology church, such as that of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, one should find another parish.

Do those things sound the same to you at all?

His conspiracy theories are the product of his ADHD and really it's all about the attention.  He thrives on it through all of his media outlets.  It's how he makes his money and the only lucky thing for him is, he is just delusional enough to believe his own rhetoric.  Even some conservatives back away (slowly, no sudden moves) from this nut.

He frightens me becuase he is on TV and people that are too lazy to go back and actually learn about history are listening to him.  Here's an example from a CNN Opinion article, click the link for the whole article.

"Waiting for Beck's "American Revival" show in Orlando, Florida, in March, 70-year-old fan Joseph Cerniglia told me he was way too busy for civics lessons when he was raising kids and working as a stockbroker and then cider-maker. "I have learned more from Glenn Beck -- learned more about American history and government, from Glenn Beck -- than in the previous 40 years of my life," the retiree told me."

Now you may get mad at me for calling this guy lazy but he his.  He is learning his history, not from actual research, he is using the abridged/edited for content Conservative Cliffs Notes version!

You know what happened when you took a test or wrote a paper based on the Cliffs Notes edition, right?

I could go on and on about how instead of being intelligent, he attacks on a personal level such as making fun of the President's 11 year old daughter (I don't care if he apologized, it was for attention and he got it), or the fact that he throws in with Sarah Palin (that just makes me throw up in my mouth a little, can you imagine what their kids would be like, ick) and how he thinks that reclaiming the civil rights movement is the right thing to do because "-- because we were the people who did it in the first place." --.  


I honestly think this man says it quite well when talking about Glenn Beck.  Seriously hilarious and also dead on the mark.

At the end of the video linked above, it is suggested that Glenn find a place to hide and we'll tell him when it is safe to come out.

Since we cannot trust Glenn to do that, I think he needs to be taken, kicking and screaming to "My Island."  I think he'll like it actually.  We'll tell him that the government sent him there and all his brilliant conspiracy theories can play out in his head.  He can share them with Rick Santorum and Ann Coulter.  He can draw his chalkboard diagrams in the sand and have a grand old time. He can teach his version of history to the likes of Brit Brit and LiLo, maybe Amy will audit that class.  I think Elizabeth and Octomom might like him a little too much.  We'll have to watch that one.

Stay tuned for the next arrival.  I believe they will be dropped off in a few weeks.  Like I said, I have a list of people that belong there. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Sticks Are Not as Dull as You'd Think or Who the Heck ARE the People in Your Neighborhood

East Jabipp
Cow Town

Growing up, this is what my neighborhood was called.  I honestly don't remember complaining about it.  We had woods to play in, complete with creek and lots of trees to climb and swing from.  Our street had four horse farms and every home had at least two acres of land.  No lines painted on the street and no sidewalks.  It's hard to call that a neighborhood.  We did have a neighborhood of sorts behind our house, across the creek.  It was always quiet and we never had anything really happen.

We had a couple of friends from softball that lived in that neighborhood but they really were not close enough to walk or ride bikes, especially in the evening until we got a little bit older.  One day, when we were on our way home from school, our friend from the neighborhood decided to ride her bike to our house to meet us.  As we got off the bus in front of the house, a naked man jumped out of the brush about 100 feet away from our driveway. 


Yes, a naked man was in the street and motioning for us to go away essentially.  My Mom sent us in the house and then realized that our friend was on her way, she couldn't go in the house with a little girl on a bike on her way.  My Mom saw our friend turn the corner and start riding her bike.  The man ran back into the brush by the side of the road.  Our friend rode right by...head turning as she passed where the man went in the brush.

When she got to the house, my Mom said, "Did you see the man next to the road?"  Our friend said, "Yep!" with a big grin on her face.  My Mom then called the police and then called the girl's mother.  The police showed up and found the man in the bushes.  The police hadn't given him anything to put on but asked my Mom to identify him.  My Mom felt bad for him so she went inside and got some of my Dad's underwear for him.  

We never got the full story of what his deal was.  I assume he was high or crazy or both.  Every neighborhood has their stories, even the non-neighborhood ones.  It just goes to show you that it's those quiet places you have to keep an eye on or actually...covered.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Life is About to Become Somewhere Close to Hades



Moving stuff from one room to another.

These are words and phrases I cannot stand.  We are going to be doing some renovations on our 'big room'.  This room is called the big room because that is all it is, a big, effin' room.  It is about 40x14 feet.  When we bought the house we knew that it was used as a rec room.  We were not going to use it for that purpose however because there was another larger room that was perfect for a large tv and a comfy couch.  Now, keep in mind this is a 1950's Cape Cod style home.  Large rooms a a little odd and are usually additions on a house.  The reason the prior and first owners of the house did this was because they had 7 3 bedrooms. 

I am going to let that sink in for a moment.

So, we have this big room that was really poorly built; freezing in the winter and sweltering in the summer.  Probably poor insulation in the outside walls and ceiling.  Since we did not have a basement, it became the basement while we figured out what the heck to do with it.  Now, it is packed with useless crap. 

We have been tossing around the idea of tearing down the walls and insulating this room so we will be a step closer to our grander designs (including stone floor, 'Masterpiece Theatre nook and dining furniture) and so we can have nice big family dinners at a nice big table.  We have started organizing the room and moving various items to more permanent homes in the house.  We have made not so much dents in the clutter but maybe pinholes or thoughts of dents.  Today I was given the news that we have a week to clean the space out entirely.  The demo will commence in a week and a half.

Yes, it appears that our local contractor (neighbor) will be getting a full time job soon so he has to get this done ASAP.  Um...yeah...remember how long it took to get the closets done? 

No, you would not remember that because I was not blogging at the time due to the fact I had ripped all my fingernails out from stress and my typing abilities were nil.

Ok, not really but is was bad.

It is going to be unpretty...I am telling you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Planning is Key...or...Why I Was Late to Work Today

Although I just started regularly writing about healthy living, I am not a stranger to the brown bag (or lovely Built lunch bag or large Whole Foods lunch bag).  I know how much to cook if I intend on having leftovers the next day and I have go to lunches just in case I happened to not have leftovers because I went to the local bar and had a REALLY good seared crab cake (and maybe a Victory Festbier)  for dinner with the husband.

However, I cannot stress the importance of planning when it comes to healthy living. 

This morning, unplanned,  I let the dogs sleep in a really...M-dog has been difficult to get out of bed at 6am lately so instead of trying to lug all 86 pounds of him off the bed I decided maybe he needed an extra 30 minutes. 

Issue, I did not plan for this last night so my morning was a little more haphazard than usual.  Essentially, I ended up 30 minutes behind schedule.  I was able to get 30 minutes in on the elliptical after the walk but I planned to make then drink a Green Monster this morning.  My first EVER!  Since I was running behind I did not have time to wash the special cup I use to make my smoothies.  It is special because I use an immersion blender and none of my other cups allow the head of the blender to fit all the way to the bottom.  Of course since I thought I was having a smoothie this morning, I did not have any overnight oats either.  Instead I had to settle for cereal and nectarines.  Then, since I had no leftovers, I needed to come up with lunch.  I went with my go to salad; grilled chicken (I keep grilled chicken in the freezer at all times.  I usually get a family size from Whole Foods and grill the whole thing for dinner and the freezer), toasted almonds and dried unsweetened cranberries with vinaigrette.  I also brought a tomato to cut into wedges (I don't like them on my salad).  I threw a couple of snacks in the bag and lunch and breakfast were ready for me.

Now, while this sounds easy, I did this all wrapped in a towel with another on my head (ok...maybe I was running around with a towel only my head but the curtains were closed and I was having one of those moments where you are still sweating from your workout when you are done your shower).  Yes, I still had finish getting ready. 

If I had planned everything the night before (30 minute sleep in, washed out smoothie cup, etc), I would have had a leisurely morning with the doggies, added an On Demand ab and back workout video and been able to have breakfast at home instead of at my desk at the office...way too late in the morning after waking up at 6am.  

Instead I am wearing my lazy curly hair do, a skirt that I am not crazy about wearing to work and a nagging feeling that I should have done about 15 minutes on the elliptical.  It's all good though.  I still did pretty well on the fly and tomorrow is another day. 

Also, since I am running in the morning...M-dog will have to get up instead of hitting the snooze bar. ;)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why I Resent Bob Marley

You are thinking, "How can anyone resent Bob Marley?!  He is the most laid back dude that ever lit a joint."

I know it is strange but I have had a building resentment for the man over the past few years.  It started when we got back from here:


Pronounced ang-GWIL NOT an gee is a British West Indies island, not a Latin one
Have you ever been here?  It is an amazing place.  Anguilla is next to St. Maarten and is a British West Indies Island.  One thing that is absolutely wonderful about it is that it is surrounded by a coral reef through which cruise ships cannot pass.  This makes it so you have all the benefits of the island and its tourist (not touristy) industry but no mobs of people inundating the island off a ship every day.

Sidebar: I have nothing against cruise ships per se but if you go to a town that has ships come in and compare it to one that doesn't, you are going to find the one that doesn't is quieter, more relaxed and less expensive.

My family spent a week here after my Mom had been going a few times a year (she still does).  She has fallen in love with the place and it is easy to see why.  There are miles upon miles, even for a tiny island, of the most perfectly white sand beaches you have ever seen.  There are beach shacks for simple and very good island food and beach bars right there so you don't have to go far for a rum punch or A Carib.  The breeze carries the message of relaxation and the food and drinks help it along.

It is as if you are in the place you are supposed to be in order to listen to Bob Marley correctly.

Yes.  I know.  It is traditionally associated with Jamaica but since I have yet to go to Jamaica, this feels right to me.  I listened to other music while I was there of course but nothing seemed to go right to my heart like Bob when I was in that place.  I could close my eyes, laying on the beach and feel like I was floating on a wave of relaxation; no cares, no worries.  It is something that if difficult to attain anywhere else and explain.  All I can say is, when you have it, you don't want it to end.

Back in the US, I thought that if I listened to the music, I would be able to transport myself back to that place and state of mind...

no such luck.

I felt like there were pieces missing that made it so hearing the music made me long to be there, it didn't just let me be there in my mind.  It made me a little sad.  The more I tried to listen, the worse it sounded.

Now, I listen to a radio station that will play Marley occasionally, especially during the lunch hour.  On those workdays at lunch where I have to rush home to let the doggies out and then try to eat something at the speed of light and rush back to the office, you'd think a block of Bob would make me feel better...


Half of me has an overwhelming urge to change the radio station (or put my fist through it depending on the day I am  having) because I can't be there, go there anytime soon or at least bask in the memories.  The other half wants to desperately to get that feeling back that I can't change the station, chasing the dragon if you will.  It's an exhausting battle of wills going on in my brain.  I end up tired from it...but I still have to go back to work.  Grrrrr.

And that is why it is possible to resent Mr. Bob Marley.

I don't want to resent him, really I don't.  In order to resolve this problem I think what I need to do is hop on a plane, go to Anguilla (with my laptop) and get me a fix of Bob, rum punch and white sand.  I think if I do enough research there, I can find a way to make the music right again for myself.  If it requires many trips back and forth to test theories, so be it.  You gotta do what you gotta do.  Maybe then, 'every little thing's gonna be alright'.  I can only give it my best shot.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Opposite of Healthy Living

I have learned so much by reading blogs because people are actually talking about their experiences, not talking about them in theory.  With what I have learned so far, you'd think I would avoid some of the sillier mistakes that people can make when they are striving to live healthy lifestyles.

I under ate yestdarday.  I literally NEVER do this.  I love food to a fault so I rarely ignore it.  I got up and walked the dogs, did a 3 mile run, only had enough time left over to stretching and a little ab work.  I got ready for work, packed my lunch (tuna sammy with lettuce, fresh tomato and wheat bread) and snacks.  I then made myself a smoothie (nectarine, blueberries, almond milk and Stonyfield fat free vanilla yogurt and a scoop of green powder).  I drank my smoothie and my coffee on the way to work.  Not a bad start.

Things go downhill from there.

At lunch, my boss asked me to run some paperwork to the bank.  No problem.  I had an errand to run too so I decided to do that and run back to the office for my sammy.  I hit the bank and then ran to pick up some more facial moisturizer.  There was a sign that side tracked me...SHOE SALE. one get one half off...

That is what the problem was, if there had been a regular sale, no problem.  I would have found a pair and got out.  BUT, this sale required careful consideration.  I needed to find two pairs of shoes at about the same price to get the most out of it.  I guess I lost track of time because when I left, I was STARVING and my meal was still 15 minutes away.

I got back to to the office, shaking, and quickly made my sandwich.  It was delish.  I love tomatoes and tunafish.  It's kinda like tomato soup and tunafish but since it's summer, you don't really want the soup so much.  Despite my hunger, I was able to enjoy what I was eating. 

The shaking is probably what should have told me I was in big trouble.  I had blood sugar problems in my 20's.  When that happens, it takes my body a long time to recover.  The shaking led to a headache which led to nausea which meant I didn't want to eat my snack.  Not eating my snack made things worse and also meant I could not take anything for the headache.  I made it to 5pm and munched on a mini Luna bar.  I took my headache cocktail and got into bed for an hour.

P felt very bad for me and took me for my fave comfort food...sushi.  The miso coated my stomach and then the sushi, mega protein, and a little bit of comforting rice made my body very happy.

When I stepped back and look at the spiraling of events it just reminded me of how important it is to pay attention to your body.  Listen to the cues it gives you because it is a wonderful and complex living machine.  You have to fuel it correctly to not only just function, but function well.  Today, I missed the boat but I learned or was reminded of some important lessons.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Healthy Living Blogging: What Does It Mean?

 In honor of joining Healthy Living Blogs...Here are my thoughts...

Awhile back, I was about 186lbs.  I did Weight Watchers, got down to 155lbs and then gained it all back.  Then I did it again and went down to 143lbs.  I am still working on losing a little more.  I felt good at 143lbs but plateaued.  I was getting frustrated so I had my husband hide the scale. Seriously, I don't know where it is.

After two months of not having a number stare me in the face every morning (ok, sometimes many times a day) I started to rely on my body more than numbers.  How do I feel today?  What do I feel like doing for exercise?  What do I feel like eating?  Are these pants tight/loose/clean?  Ok, the clean part wasn't a feeling but more of a smell but you get the idea.  I started reading 'healthy living blogs' and they gave me tons of inspiration, recipes and general good advice.  Some of the info worked great for me (overnight oats, new veggie rich recipes, new workouts, etc) some didn't work out so well.  I am not going to tell you which ones because I am sure they work for some people, just not for me and I would not want to keep you from trying those things.

I loved the blogs I was reading and I wanted to be a part of the community.  The people were all so positive.  I liked that.  I am not really that but am trying.  My only worry about blogging about 'healthy living' is that some of the blogs (NOT ALL) I visited seemed like they were just about food and fitness and exercise.  That doesn't work for me.  Why?  For me 'healthy living' is all encompassing.  It is about living your life, your whole life, in a healthy way.  That means that I write about those things above but I will also write about things that have nothing to do with those topics because I need an outlet for other subjects in order to keep my mental health healthy.  To me, it is all woven together.  I now realize that I don't have to box myself in to just writing about a few topics.  Healthy living has to be woven into the craziness of my everyday life in order for it to work for me.  I hope that you stick around to see the whole fabric. :)

If Wishes Were Cool Water

I don't think I need to tell anyone that resides in these United States that is has been a long, hot summer.

**If you are in your 30's and beyond you might remember that the Long, Hot Summer was made into a made for TV movie (original was a scathing version in the theater in 1958) with Cybil Shepherd and Don Johnson.  It was almost too hot for TV.  I remember watching it from the top of the stairs outside my bedroom while my Mom had it on in the basement.**

Anyway, sorry for the sidebar but that is what the heat and humidity in the northeastern US will do to you, not fry, but slowly poach your brain.  It will also cause your hair to look like crap most of the time.

When I was little, we had a neighbor who had a pool.  Her name was Ada; so it was naturally, Ada's Pool.  It was a holdover from the pools of the 1950's; big, L-shaped and  had a 'deep end' of 10ft.  It was fed by spring water which meant is was REALLY cold for half the summer.  It didn't really matter though.  We were cold water kids.  We swam in the waters off Cape Cod.  To us, blue lips were cool.  The only bad part about the cold pool water was when we came home and had to race past the air conditioning unit in the dining room of the house, towels tightly wrapped around bare skin, otherwise you might freeze solid in the middle of the living room.

This summer I wished I was that little kid again.  We know very few people with pools and those we do know live further than next door and no one has a pool from the 1950's.  On really hot days this year I would find myself daydreaming or half remembering the joy of being able to play in a pool of cool water: having my Mom rate my dives off the diving board, Marco Polo, swimming through weighted hoops and diving for coins.  I remembered what it was like 'going under' that first time of the day, the rush I would get from the cold water enveloping my skin and quickly reducing the surface temperature of my body.  Then I'd pop up and the water would stream down my hair, chlorine stinging my eyes a little not just from the chemical but also from the sun reflecting off the water.

These days pools are small, shallow, square and are usually the temperature of warm pee by early July.  They cannot compare to the cold spring water, 10 foot depths and 1950's curves of Ada's pool.

On the hot days that are still due to come, you'll find me cruising along the bottom of Ada's pool or jumping off the diving board in a glorious cannonball trying to make it down to 10 my mind at least.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's in the Works: My Island

In trying to get over my Gym Fear I have been trying to get there more often rather than depend on running in the neighborhood.  Also, I don't want to hear from P that I am wasting money, belonging to a gym but not going blah, blah, blah.  Anyway, the treadmills are set up so that you can watch TV, like most gyms.  What I find funny is that the tv's in front of me, one to the left and one to the right are always on CNN and E! respectively.

What I am finding out is that these two channels, not so different from each other.  On one hand I have a well known person making a fool out of themselves with outlandish comments in an interview, solely for press (you know, no such thing as bad press) and then on the other hand I have a shot of Snooki baring her patoot after leaving a sex shop (girlfriend should know better than to go commando in a skirt that short).   See, not so different.

So these two channels are giving me ideas for the next person to get shipped off to My Island.  The problem is, I have SOOOOO many people to choose from these days.  I feel like I have gotten behind on my travel agent duties.  So, here is a small recap of who is there.

Brittany Spears, Amy Winehouse, Lindsay Lohan, Rick Santorum (this was the first post so there were a few people sent right off the bat)

Ann Coulter

Elizabeth Hasselbeck

Ocotmom, Nadya Suleman

I even have a place for kids of the My Island inhabitants if there is not another parent in the picture

There are a couple other posts about My Island but they deal mostly with what is going on there and responses to requests.  Click on the My Island label to see more.

There is no one currently flying stand by so I have room in that category and I have a few usual suspects to send but I want to do my due diligence.  I don't send just anyone there.  They really have to have some terrible qualities... like qualities that really nothing at all makes up for their general terribleness (I was not really sure that was a word but spell check seems to think it is).  Qualities that should probably be removed from the gene pool.  I am sure you can think of a few people that deserve a one way ticket to My Island.

Would you like to make suggestions?  

Monday, August 16, 2010

When things Fall Into Place...Instead of Apart

It is a good thing. 

Awhile back I started this blog and I was crazy about writing and posting and following and then ... I hit a wall.  Work got crazy, I had to work more hours at the Lottery Yarn and I stopped blogging.  I never stopped to ask myself why.  Looking back, I think that was wrong.

I loved writing and loved the new community.  Why did I stop?  I felt like I ran out of time.  The thing is, I didn't run out of time, I ran out of time for me.  I was setting aside time for my job, my second job, cleaning, cooking, errands but I set no time aside for me.  Maybe that is why I am so cranky.

So I started again.  I did not put a ton of pressure to blog daily but I did find myself thinking about writing again.  The little spot in my brain that enjoyed it woke up and wanted to work.

Then, the comments started to roll back in, not as many as before but there are some lovely bloggers that remembered me.  Then I saw that SITS  was in Philadelphia and although it was sold out, I sent an email to be on the waiting list.  Then, a friend told me a should be a writer (yes, I have heard it before but at this time, it worked with the falling into place thing) after reading what I wrote in my blog.  Then, I was offered a ticket to the SITS conference.  I was able to wrangle a day off from Lottery Yarn and


There is me, going to a social media conference to network and learn how to love my blog more through all sorts of ways.  I am excited about meeting Kathy, Tiffany and Francesca.  I have known them for awhile on line and I get to meet them in person.  I am excited to take this writing thing to the next level and I hope you will come along for the ride. :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Writers WorkShop: The Craziest Reason I Ever Got in Trouble as a Child

 This is a bit of a rehash of a post from a few years ago but it is very much in line with today's Writers Workshop assignment although I was more teen than child at the time.  It is also very least to me. :)

Awhile back I wrote about my Cape Cod summer love (ok, not really love but you get the idea). I mentioned that there were bells involved at some point and that I would write about them later. It is now later.

So this guy that I met on the Cape who turned out to be the best kisser ever and I were out on the beach near our house one night. It was dark and I couldn't see my watch. I didn't worry though because I could always hear the church bells ring the hour. I had to be home by 11pm.

So there we were, kissing on the beach on a blanket. The moon was out, the water lapped on the beach and his sweatshirt smelled heavenly, like suntan lotion and 'guy' (in a good way). So I listened for the bells to let me know what time I needed to be home. You can see where this is going. I of course lost track of time and never heard the bells. My Mom sent my brother out to the beach to look for me and of course he saw me but what was he going to say, "Um excuse me, but can you get your face off that guy because it's after your curfew and mom is pissed"? Considering he was all of like 7 or 8 at the time, I think not. So he of course reported back that I was kissing a guy on the beach on a blanket. (BTW, my brother was also the one that told my Mom about my tattoo and my bellybutton piercing. Thanks, T.)

Eventually, I must have gotten it through the kissing fog in my brain that it was late and I did not hear any bells. So we made our way back to the house. He left and I went inside. Sitting at the dining table in their nightgowns (not pj's, nightgowns) were my mom, my aunt and my grandmother. They were all still up. My mom was all, "What were you doing out there this late, you were supposed to be home by 11pm, yadda yadda, yadda." I was all, "But it wasn't my fault. I didn't hear the bells!" They all looked at me, like "What is she talking about." I said, "You know the church bells. I was waiting to hear them and I didn't hear them. It's not my fault!"

 ***crickets chirping***

BWAAAHHHHAAAA!  All 3 of them burst out laughing, trying to compose themselves to be mad at me. My mom snorted then my aunt. Eventually I just had to walk away because they couldn't stop. Unfortunately, I still got punished the next day. I had to come in an hour earlier my last night on the Cape. From then on, every year, I was the butt of the joke about "The bells, the bells!"

I would not have normally chosen to rehash an old post but considering that this year... OVER 20 years after this incident... my mother chose to say, "Oh, listen, those are the bells, Jen." I think that this post is relevant to the topic of Writers Workshop. :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Love and Marriage...and other stuff


This is the man I married 8 years ago today.  In all fairness, I did ask him to give me blue steel as I took this shot. :)  He drives me crazy in good ways and in bad (wasn't that part of the vows or something?) and he can grill.  

This is better.  We were a match made in heaven.  We are both difficult people and he lets me win most of the time.  He has a kind heart and a very soft spot for the fur babies (sometimes too soft considering he'll let G-dog take my side if the bed if I am not careful).  When we first got together, he played guitar, wrote me songs. He made me cards and one time when he was teaching a camp, made me flowers out of paper.  He was hilariously funny and could disarm you in a second with is terrible puns.  One time he even spray painted his love for me on a football field.  No joke.

Now it is eight years later.  He is no longer a teacher, the guitar case is a tad dusty and I have heard all his jokes...I am not kidding...EVERY SINGLE ONE.  I have not gotten flowers in a while, paper or otherwise and song-writing has been replaced by power point presentations for his sales job. makes me sad.  

Then I remember, this is the man who comforted me when I was at my very lowest and supported me when I left my last job and took a much lower paying one to keep my sometimes questionable sanity.  This is the man who no matter how hardened, cynical or jaded I become, he tries to make me laugh (and usually can).  This is the man who silently stood by and let me go off like a raving lunatic on USAirways when they screwed us out of a weekend away, just because he knew I needed to do it (also I suspect he didn't want any misplaced anger going his direction, smart that one).  He makes sure he tells me he loves me every day, even when I don't feel like saying it back, and kisses me every night when we go to sleep.  

...and he can grill...

I have it pretty good I think. :)