Friday, May 30, 2014

Project Linus

Today I'm going to showcase a unique and special organization I recently came across--

Project Linus...
Who of us, or perhaps a child we know, hasn't taken comfort in a blanket? My mom has crocheted or sewn/quilted well over a dozen blankets for me or my kiddos over the years. I remember one with particular fondness, crocheted with random leftover yarn. It wasn't much to look at, honestly, but it was warm and I kept that thing until it fell apart!

The Project Linus mission (from their website): Provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.”

I thought this was such a super neat thing, I wanted to share it with my blog readers and ask that if they know anyone who quilts, knits, or crochets to pass on this opportunity to bless a child.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spring cleaning

Spring/summer/fall cleaning will take on an added dimension. Sonshine will be graduating from high school and shipping off to Navy boot camp at some point. In addition, DD will also be moving out on her own.

So any major cleaning will most likely also involve sorting and then packing or giving away. Since I was too bushed to do yard work Sunday, I decided to clean my room. The office space, not the bedroom.

All our family movies were in my room on my bookshelves. Well, I don't watch hardly any of them. Sonshine has his favorites of course, as does DD, so I sorted through and reclaimed my shelves which have bowed with the weight of all those movies.

I went from this...

To this...
And these...
 These are what we're keeping.

 These are for DD and the Brown Eyed Girl to sort through. Anything left goes on Ebay.

And this is Sonshine's box for when he gets to a permanent place of residence other than a ship.

I'm looking forward to cleaning up, cleaning out, and reclaiming my spaces for new purposes.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Three lovely days... rest and relax. The weather was perfect for yard work--warm but partly cloudy.

Before the weekend started, I made a list of all the things I wanted to get done yard work wise. Sadly I went great guns on Saturday and was left pretty wrung out on Sunday. So instead of carrying on my yard work, I took care of the normal inside chores such as laundry.

I've been wanting to get my backyard lawn back up to snuff--actual grass rather than 90% weeds. That requires me to rake up all the crap imbedded down in between the grass and weeds. A very tedious and labor intensive task.

But here are a few of the things I accomplished...

 I screwed the two hooks to the shed to hang my two new hanging baskets... white (below) and one red vinca.

Remember this lovely and fun planter I bought last year around this time?

Well, the flowers died, of course, so I replaced the flowers and now I have this...

That's blue lobelia in the center with white vinca and red petunias alternating around it. What do you think?

I also had plant my lemon slice super bells...

I still have quite a few tasks to get done. Hopefully, my energy will back up to near normals and I'll get some more yard work done today. Best of all I got to sleep in today. I don't get to do that very often.

How has your weekend been so far?

Friday, May 23, 2014


So it's Memorial Day weekend. A three day weekend. WHOOPPEEEE!

I'm very looking forward to three days off in a row. But remember the reason we are free...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Reality is setting in...

Sonshine is at MEPS today.

MEPS is the acronym for Military Entrance Processing Command. He was loaded onto a bus last night with a handful of other students from his school and taken to a Dallas hotel (to stay overnight)(yikes). Today they'll undergo a physical exam along with some other assessments. In addition, I believe he'll be able to choose his field of training, which last I heard is going to be helicopter maintenance. Ultimately he wants to pilot a helicopter, but he has to have a college degree for that, so he's gonna become a mechanic/gunner and then take classes to earn his degree, then cross train into helicopter pilot training.

(Image from Wikipedia and used as per their common licensing whatevers.)

That's the plan. We'll see how it goes.

Meantime, it's all becoming so very real for me. He's gone to MEPS for crying out loud. Although, he'll probably be around for another month or two until slots open up in his field of training. But still.

Sonshine and his activities and his presence (meaning primarily the noise he makes on every level) has been the soundtrack of my life for the last four plus years. And soon that familiar, comfortable background noise will be gone. It's going to be strange and sad and disconcerting.

Last night, with him gone, was an appetizer to my life in a few was really quite strange.

What's a momma to do?

Monday, May 19, 2014

That time again!

Not only was it writers group weekend, but it was the annual JAG get together. After my writers meeting, I traveled further afield to a friend's house and visited with a group of ladies I only see once a year.

We watched close to a dozen episodes of the show, wondering why the lead character didn't, ah, date more women. There were enough of them flirting with him throughout the seasons. In addition we talked about other shows we love and watch, our kids, families, jobs, etc., etc., etc...

We talked a little about the history of this particular group and it all started back in 1999, smack dab in the middle of the show's run ('95 to '05). A group of fans connected online and made plans to meet at a restaurant. They did and the rest, as they say, is history. The following year they moved the gathering to someone's home and it has moved homes a handful of times over the years. Many of the original folks have stopped coming for one reason or another and others (like me) have taken their place. There are even a couple of women who travel from out of state to attend.

In 2010, our group traveled to Corpus Christi to visit the USS Lexington. We rented a huge beach house on the Gulf in Port Aransas. Why would we do that? Well, JAG is a military (Navy) drama. Scenes from the series premier were filmed aboard the carrier museum. So we went. And it was fab.

Hope you had a great weekend as well.

Friday, May 16, 2014

I've been in sponge mode...

Since the discovery of the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcasts, I've been on a learning binge. Not only with the podcasts, but I caught up on some TED talks, I'm watching documentaries (primarily) on the British monarchy, and am researching various topics for some writing.

I'm not sure how much of all this information I'll remember, but I can't help but think I'll remember some of it. On the other hand, it doesn't much matter. The act of learning, of soaking up information keeps my brain active and helps fight dementia. Well, it sounds plausible anyway. Not saying I'm pre-disposed or anything, but you know, the niggling worry sometimes pops up so anything I can do to keep the brain active and working seems like a good idea.

There's also a website (and applicable device apps) called Lumosity which is supposed to help improve brain cognition abilities. Basically the brain's ability to learn. So I went through the assessment and it turns out you have to pay to access/use your specially designed training program. Hmmm... Not sure I want to pay for that. Won't crossword puzzles and word searches and Sudoku work just as well? Maybe, maybe not. The subscription rates are low, but still... I'll think about it and let you know.

(One of my recent 100% scores. I'm the 100% on the right--the EASY difficulty!
Sonshine got 100% playing EXPERT on the guitar.)

Another thing I like to think helps me is Rock Band. I primarily play to spend time with my kids. They generously invite to play with them and those opportunities will be non-existent in just a few short months. But...I've thought often that there's no reason I can't keep playing on my own. The exercise of beating the correct drum pad or multiple pads in synch as directed by the game seems like another good way to keep my brain (as well as my body) working. If you play at a harder difficulty which generally increases the speed at which you play, it could be considered a mini-workout too. :) At least for the drum players.

So what do you do to keep those aging neurons firing and in shape?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An experiment with calcium...

Most of us here are women I believe. We're all aware we need enough calcium to prevent osteoporosis--but that's in the future, later, when we're older. We know it'll be here sooner than we'd all like, but I digress.

A couple of months ago, I read a book called "Kick Your Menstrual Cramps in the Nuts" by T.C. Hale. (Yes, it's in the 2014 book list there on the right hand side...) and one of the things he mentioned was that a woman's body requires a lot more calcium during her period and that part of the pain we experience is due to low calcium levels. Well, I'm all about less pain, so I decided to try a little experiment.

The first month, there was ice cream in the house right around that time, so I indulged. And it seemed as if my cramps were less severe. That's not to say I have debilitating cramps. I don't. But they're bad enough that I stock up on ibuprofen and faithfully take my requisite number of tablets every four hours for the duration. I don't like pain.

But, seeing as how I'm trying lose weight, eating a pint of ice cream a day four days of the month is a bit counterproductive. I purchased a bottle of calcium supplements instead. I'd only just started taking them when the second month rolled around. I doubled up the dosage for the first three days and as luck would have it, there was ice cream in the house again, although I only ate one drumstick. Okay, one and a half.

The cramps were commensurate to the previous month if I recall correctly. I didn't say it was medical trial or anything, did I? So, no, I didn't document pain levels.

So now, month three. I've been taking a calcium supplement every day for over thirty days in addition to whatever's in my one-a-day vitamin. I had planned to begin doubling my calcium supplement a few days in advance of my cycle, but I couldn't remember where I jotted down that piece of information. So that didn't happen until the first inkling that my period was imminent. Meaning I got a double dose for only two days prior to the onset.

I continued double dosing calcium for the fist three days but resisted popping ibuprofen at the first minor indications of cramping. Obviously masking the pain wouldn't allow me to gauge whether the calcium was working... I lasted all of twenty-six hours. It's not that the pain wasn't tolerable, it was, barely, but I really didn't want to deal with it, so I took some ibuprofen.

Fast forward to dinner and I ended up enjoying a delicious bowl of tasty cereal. The last dose of ibuprofen had worn off but the cramps didn't return. Until morning--hours and hours from ingestion of milk so I'm thinking delivery method might be a factor.

The next day was much better. The cramps were barely felt, but really only if I stopped to pay attention.

So fast forward to the end of my cycle and preliminary reports are in. Ice cream and milk seem to allow the calcium to work better than just the tablets. I think next month, however, I need to double my tablet intake well in advance of starting my period and resist ice cream and milk. Just to make sure I'm covering all the bases.

Of course, one can ingest too much calcium too. So I need to find a happy medium. Another consideration is sub-type: calcium carbonate versus calcium citrate. My supplement is the first which is, according to one doctor, harder to assimilate. So next time, I need to find the citrate. Doing so may be the equivalent of the milk and ice cream intake--more easily processed and usable by the body.

Regardless of how much I can reduce my cramps, the secondary benefit of doing so now--reducing the likelihood of osteoporosis later. As a side note, another benefit of calcium is reduction of migraine pain. Sounds like win-win-win to me!

And to be sort-of official, here's a link to the article I found that explained things the best.

If you know anyone who suffers at any level of cramps, I hope you'll share my info and have them do their own research.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A great new discovery!

I love history. Always have. Too bad we don't learn as well from history as we ought, both personally and societally.

Anyway, last week, my dear and lovely friend, Nancy, turned me on to this fantastic series of pod casts called Stuff You Missed in History Class. Produced by the website/show/people of How Stuff Works, the narrators delve a little deeper into the lives of the famous people and events of history. Sort of like the rest of the story, for those of you familiar with Paul Harvey!

So I've learned a little more about the lives of Laura Ingalls Wider and Jane Austen, as well the father of the private investigations Allen Pinkerton. I learned about five of the deadliest storms in history and that the Titanic was probably doomed from the start.

Each pod cast is usually shorter than an episode of TV and works well when I'm walking on the treadmill. They'd probably be great for road trips too.

Another great discovery are TED Talks--thank you to another dear and lovely friend, Regina, for those. TED talks are short talks (ten to twenty minutes usually) given by all kinds of people on all kinds of topics. Their slogan--Ideas Worth Spreading. Absolutely!

From anecdotal to entertaining to educational, this site is a treasure trove of information. For instance, I learned that not only do (obviously) humans have gender, but so do our cells. Certain diseases manifest themselves differently in men and women and the treatment may be different as well. Well worth the fifteen minutes!

Have you heard of either of these? Do you listen?

And if you know of any other cool sites or links to share, please do!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Look what I bought!

So Wednesday, I was met a friend to chat, but I was early, so I wandered into a Container Store. Believe it or not, I've never been in one. If you have, you know they have all kinds of storage containers and organizational paraphernalia. I just needed to kill time.

As I wandered about, I came upon these cool measuring cups and just couldn't resist!

 (Photo courtesy the manufacturer Fred and Friends website.)

Yes, they are Russian nesting doll measuring cups! How fun are they??

Well, it's Friday again and I have big plans for working in my yard. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate. Although we do need the rain...

How about you?? Big weekend plans?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Harlequin Sold!

This week it was announced that Torstar sold it's publishing arm, Harlequin, to HarperCollins.

It's about time something happened. Something needed to happen.

Harlequin sales have been in a steady decline for a handful years so it's about time. Harlequin has been quite controversial for several years now for varying reasons. Some of their authors have jumped ship or sued over paltry royalty rates. Of course, some authors understand that Harlequin is also about branding and distribution--something they've done well for a very long time. It's not always about the money, but when an author only makes 5 CENTS a book, there's something rotten in Denmark.

I believe one of Harlequin's major issues is that they didn't embrace the digital as quickly as it evolved. According to a trusted source of mine and a long-time Harlequin author, the top heads in the company are barely removed from the Victorian era and may be having a hard time themselves with the rapid changes in technology. Transitioning a huge company to the digital age? Quite the undertaking. Another friend of mine who writes for Harlequin Intrigue had to complete edits via hard copy (along with paying requisite postage to send it back) for the first two or three of her books before her editor switched to using track changes.

Another issue I think Harlequin failed to address was marketing to the correct demographic. They've continue to do whatever they've done for the last thirty years and the young hip digital/online/E generation -- i.e. their replacement consumers -- have been ignored. The average age of a Harlequin Intrigue reader is in her 60s. They've not tried to pull in new readers with fresh innovative and ONLINE marketing techniques.

You and I both know there's a lot more to it than just these two factors, but they've certainly played a part. It'll be interesting to see the positive changes that come about from the deal, both for Harlequin and its authors.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fast forward one year...

And I'll have my weekends back. It seems like there's always something going on either Saturdays or Sundays and I haven't had a good solid weekend to work around the yard.

Most of what I'm doing are bite size pieces of larges projects--filling a bag or two or three of yard waste rather than twenty, weed whacking but not mowing, killing weeds here and there. But there's so much more to be done and by the time I have a full weekend, it'll be real summer and real hot.

Of course, despite my watching what I eat, my morning stint on the treadmill, and daily calisthenics, I proved yesterday, I'm still woefully out of shape. Granted it was pretty warm Sunday morning as I was raking and I was up till almost 1am Saturday night, but I ended up taking an hour and half nap yesterday afternoon and I still felt rather draggy.

I pushed through the lethargy to get laundry done as well getting my dinners partially pre-cooked and some minor housework accomplished. I was ready to hit the sack by nine p.m. So I did...

How was your weekend??

Friday, May 2, 2014

Was it just a few months ago...

...that I was lamenting the slow churn of time?

Well, now I'm staring down the barrel at Sonshine's graduation a mere month from now.

Then it'll be fireworks season.

And before I know it, Sonshine will be off to boot camp...

I haven't gotten maudlin about it all.


I'm still looking forward to a kid-free house. We'll see how that changes the closer we get to these milestones...

Where did the time go?