Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Yes, yes, I realize that it is 17 hours too early but chances are slim to none that I will be awake at midnight so....there you go!

As I take stock of 2013 I have to say that it was a pretty good year in spite of the drama that ensued.  It started out slow and went on without a hitch until July when my daughter and I both got sick and had to had surgery all within two weeks of each other.  However, we seem to have come out on the victorious side and life is getting back to normal.  Now I am looking forward to the new year and am making plans.

I don't believe in resolutions because they usually involve food -- basically the not eating of it -- and I just fail miserably at that.  If I say I am never eating sugar any more you can be guaranteed that I will have a cookie in my hand before I finish typing the sentence.  So, yeah, no resolutions.  Instead, I would like to look at the goals I have for the year.

Quilting -- yes, I am anxious to get back to it.  I have been away from it -- having burned myself out on it for a while.  It seemed that every time I looked around I was required to make a quilt for something and it went from a joyous pastime to a chore so I stopped.  I have always loved handwork though and am now exploring English Paper Piecing and hope to ease my way back into quilting for pleasure.

Reading -- I signed up for two reading challenges in 2013 and contributed to both.  I committed to 20 books for the 2013 Goodreads Reading Challenge and actually read about 25-26.  I also signed up for the Pre-1960 Children's Literature Challenge and read 5 for that one.  I feel like I did pretty well, I learned some authors new to me, I fell in love with Nancy Drew and I explored audio books which were a fantastic help on my daily commute.

I am only signing up for one reading challenge this year -- the Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge and the first books I will be reading are a biography of John Lennon that I got for Christmas, the next Elm Creek Quilt series book "The Quilter's Legacy", one off my Nook queue "90 Minutes in Heaven" and the fourth in the Nancy Drew series.  I don't know if I will read them simultaneously or one after another -- I usually don't do well trying to read more than one at a time but I will see.

Exercise -- yes, well, I need to do that but after whacking my back out on my Tony Little Gazelle I think I will be revisiting pilates -- on my bedroom floor -- and walking on my little feet.  I have a path through the house that yields 100 steps with my stride.  Yes, I don't have a large house and I would have to walk this path about a bazillion times to get enough steps in for the day but at least I wouldn't have a backache.  So. yes, exercise will be a daily, ongoing challenge it seems.

Eating -- ah, I said eating wasn't going to be a part of this but it is.  I am definitely going to try to eat better -- more fruit and veg, less meat and fewer treats.  I think moderation is the key here.

My blogs -- definitely more attention to the blogs and less attention to Facebook.  Who knew how addictive FB could be and I am sure it is not a good addiction so less Face time and more bloggy time. 

So, there are some of my goals for the year.  I am sure I will have others as the year goes on but for now, this will keep me very busy and I look forward to getting on with it.

So, again, Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Cosmetic Update

A while back I posted about my quest for less toxic cosmetics and skin care.  I think at the time I mentioned that my skin care routine now consists of two products -- Dr. Bronner's baby soap and rosewater.  I did buy a bottle of Burt's Bees Rosewater Toner with glycerin the other day and started using it instead of the bottle of plain rosewater I was using.  No particular reason -- and it works the same.  I don't think I will ever vary from this routine because it is just so easy and very cheap frugal.

I have been using the Rejuva line of mineral makeup for a few months now and I have to say I love it.  Well, not all of it.  I love the foundation and the blush is what I have been looking for all my life! I don't see myself changing either of those any time soon.  I don't care for the eyeliner pencil I bought as it isn't soft and doesn't go on well on my old, creapy eyelids.  The mascara isn't what I thought it would be either.  It goes on well and doesn't clump but it tends to smudge.  I will finish the tube but I don't know that I will re-order.

Looking at other sources for cosmetics I ran across a company called 100% Pure Cosmetics.  I ordered a lipstick.  I don't care for it but it came in a lovely little case.

I think part of it is that I just don't like lipstick so for now I am using Burt's Bees Replenishing tinted balm.  I don't think Burt's Bees is so pure but for now it is the best I can do for lippies.  I digress.  The lipstick came with three little samples of other 100% Pure products and I absolutely love them.  One is a coffee bean eye cream,

 one is a coconut body cream

 and the other is a super fruit anti-aging cream.  I just tried the super fruit cream this evening and so far I like it but I love the other two -- so much that I placed an order for full sized containers of the products.  I might add the super fruit cream after a couple of days of trying the sample.  I am also going to give their eye shadows a closer look.

So, that is where I stand on the less toxic cosmetics.  I have had no desire to search for new foundation or blush and the little containers are so cute!  I would recommend for sure!  I will give another review on the 100% Pure skin care products after I have a chance to use them more.
New Blog

I started a new blog today.  It isn't to replace this one.  This one will remain what it is and won't overlap with the new one.  The new one is faith based and is actually a personal discipline of gratitude journaling.  I am making it public so that maybe others will want to join in with their own gratitude journal.  So, visit me here if you wish:


Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Blog Look --

Ok, last night I spent a little time messing with the blog.  I tried on some of the backgrounds from other places -- some worked, some didn't, some were just frustrating so I came back to the standard ones on Blogger.  I have always liked this one -- a little bit more than just "plain" but not overwhelming.  Some blog pages I see are so busy that I tend to look at the page and not read the content.  They are lovely, to be sure, and definitely catch my eye but again, I am there to read content.  So, I decided on this one so I could add my own photos.

Speaking of photos, I decided to remove the Christmas photo -- nice as it was -- and put up something a bit more wintery.  This is a photo of our back garden during the recent ice storm.  Looks cold and dreary, right?  Well, that is because it was.  Fortunately we didn't lose power which was wonderful.  Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and it wasn't fun.  Anyway, the patio doesn't look like this right now but we are in for another cold snap beginning this afternoon so who knows what might happen.  I am hoping for nothing!

I also added some new lists to the blog.  I am only subscribing to one official reading challenge this year -- the 2014 Goodreads Reading Challenge -- but I have a few personal goals.  I love reading books in a series.  There are two series that I am particularly enjoying right now -- The Elm Creek Quilt series and the Aunt Dimity mystery series.  My goal is to finish these two series this year so making a list on here makes sense as I can see at a glance what I have read.  I also added a list for the Nancy Drew series.  I have no plans to finish this series this year as there are many, many books in the series.  I might stop at the original books and not progress through the more modern writings.  However, since I am enjoying that series as well I would like to keep a tab of what I have read. 

In addition to all the reading, I am pursuing a new quilting technique -- well, new to me but it is quite old in reality.  I have explored English Paper Piecing in the past -- in fact, I just ran across sixteen "flowers" that I made a while back.  I started again and am having great fun both sewing and reading blogs about technique, finishing and such.  Apparently EPP is to quilters what knitting is to knitters -- portable, relaxing and addictive.

Not sure how I am going to finish these -- whether I am going to link them all together and make a quilt top -- applique them down and make quilt squares or put them together and make cushion covers or link them together and make a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt.  I have a couple of other projects to finish before I get too involved with this but it is really nice to sit in front of the fire (and tv) and stitch away.  I have always loved hand sewing from quilting to embroidery and cross stitch.  I would like knitting and crocheting but apparently I was out of the room when that gene was passed on.

I will be starting a new blog on Wednesday -- well, Tuesday night probably.  It is devoted to gratitude and will be heavy on the spiritual side.  I am doing it as a personal discipline and I thought about keeping it very private but then I decided that it would be a good opportunity to encourage others to count their blessings and maybe see life from another perspective.  Anybody who is interested is certainly welcome to visit me there but if that isn't your "thing" feel free to visit me here -- the two blogs will not be linked -- both have different purposes and will probably have different audiences. 

So, there you have it -- blog overhaul, dreary photo, and goals for a New Year! 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Blog Redo

The end of the year is creeping up and it is time for a new start.  Sounds poetic but actually, January 1 seems pretty much like December 31 to me.  I gave up resolutions a LONG time ago and my mother pretty much killed the black-eyed pea tradition when .... well, let's just say one year we didn't have such good luck after eating said peas.  So, no peas, no resolutions, just one day to the next but I am going to give my blog an overhaul.  I have been looking through the various sites that supply backgrounds and templates and such but I think I still like putting up my own photos.  I don't know, the choices are endless and I get bored easily so it is easier to be able to change things up with photos.  We will see.  I will probably add more lists -- mostly for my own reference and -- oh who knows -- maybe I will surprise myself and go all fancy schmancy.  It will be fun!  But, anyway, if you come around here and it looks all wonky don't go away -- I will get it fixed.
2013 Reading Challenge and a Book Review

The year 2013 is rapidly coming to a close.  Most would say I should be grateful for that since this year has been a bit challenging in other areas than reading.  However, I don't feel that way.  I feel that every day is a blessing with it's own work to be done and it's own promise to be enjoyed.  I find that as I am getting older the days pass way to quickly  with too much time spent on meaningless endeavors.  But, as has been said in the past, all good things must come to an end and I guess that means 2013 as well.  Unfortunately that also means the Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge.  However, the 2014 Reading Challenge is just around the bend and I am already looking forward to that.

I signed up for 20 books to be read in the 2013 challenge however, I surpassed that by 6.  It was easy to do since some of my books were actually audio books that I listened to on my daily commute.  Loved listening to them and I found it made me a better driver because I would slow down so I could listen to more of the book!  One of the books is not on my Goodreads list as it just wouldn't load.  I have no idea what I was doing wrong but it didn't work but trust me, I read it.  I think my 2014 Challenge will be about the same.  I will commit to 20 books and see how it goes. 

My last book in this years challenge is "13 Little Blue Envelopes"  by Maureen Johnson.  It isn't usually the sort of thing I read but it was the first in my Nook queue so I decided to give it a go.  I actually enjoyed it although I found it sad in a few places but I think that is due to personal identification with "Aunt Peg" who reminded me so much of my Aunt Linnie.  I thought the concept of the book was really clever -- it progressed the main character -- Ginny -- through her adventures quite well and it didn't seem awkward.  I will say that in the beginning of the book the adventures seemed to have more "meat" to them and the last few adventures seemed to be hurried through -- not as much "adventure" but all in all it flowed nicely.  It ended nicely but rather abruptly and I do think you could see some personal growth in Ginny.  However, I think there were some things left unfinished -- perhaps room for a sequel.  Don't know how that would work but I guess you never know.

I would recommend this book as a light read.  It isn't a long book and it did keep calling me back so it held my interest. 

I also signed up for the "Pre-1960 Classic Children's Book Challenge" and I didn't do as well with that but it did spark my interest in the Nancy Drew books again.  I decided to try a series on this challenge and I started with the Bobbsey Twin books.  They were fun to read but didn't really grab me so I decided to revisit the Nancy Drew Books.  I had tried to read them as a child but they didn't hold my interest.  I was much more interested in the works of Kate Seredy, Lois Lenski and Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I even had a subscription to the Nancy Drew Book Club where I would receive a new book each month but I still couldn't get into them.  I am happy to say that I absolutely loved reading them in my old age and am going to try to read the entire series.  Don't know how that will work because I am going to want to actually buy the physical book because a part of it is actually owning the whole series but I will see how it goes.  All in all, I read two Bobbsey Twin books and three Nancy Drew books.  I am looking forward to the next ND book in the series as soon as I can go get it!

 That is the end of my reading challenge for this year.  I think I did pretty well.  I found authors new to me that I really liked and I discovered audio books which were quite enjoyable.  I think I will only sign up for one official challenge next year but I have set a few personal goals for myself which I will discuss in another blog entry. 

So, for anybody reading -- have a fantastic New Year! See you on the flip side!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Musing Mondays -- December 16, 2013

Musing Mondays is a meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.  The goal is to answer just one of several questions posed for readers. 

Today I am going to discuss what I am reading, what I think about it and why I chose it.  I am currently reading "13 Little Blue Envelopes" by Maureen Johnson. It is the chronicle of a young woman, Ginny Blackstock, who is sent on a journey by her unconventional and newly deceased aunt, Peg.  The journey is guided by 13 little blue envelopes containing instructions along the way.  Each envelope contains a destination and a number of tasks to be completed once Ginny is there -- funds are provided by Aunt Peg.  Clearly this is an opportunity for Ginny to discover herself as she is put in situations that she would probably never find herself in otherwise.

The book is reminiscent of "Bridget Jones Diary" (which I never read, I am basing my opinion on the movie) and "Austenland".  It is light hearted yet very deep.  Ginny finds herself in some situations that she handles with much maturity -- more than most seventeen year olds would.  For that reason, I think it is a bit unrealistic but it is a fun read if you don't get too analytical.

I chose it because it is the first on my list in my Nook library.  I keep adding books to my Nook library and then I keep buying physical books so I figured I should start chiseling away at that list.  In fact, that might be one of my own personal challenges for the new year -- read the Nook Books!

I am about half way through the book -- it isn't a long book, I have just been busy, and at this point I would recommend it for something light and quick.  I will review further when I am done.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas 2013

I have to admit that I don't like decorating the Christmas tree.  I am too short, it is too tall, most of the ornaments I have are absolutely decades old and are beginning to look it.  I wish I could kidnap my daughter for a day and have her decorate the tree for me like she used to do when she was a child.  She was a perfectionist and absolutely ran her brother off when he tried to help.  I was more than content to get out of her way and let her do it.

Some years we don't put up the big tree because we have a small tree in the center of the Christmas Village that goes up every year. That tree is decorated with candy canes, jingle bells and glittery pinecones.

Since I don't particularly enjoy the decorating part of things, I started slow this year and did just what made me happy to do at the time.  I didn't want it to become a chore. 

I started with the ornament collection started for me by JLSHall.  I added one this year in the form of a little owl sitting on a candy cane.  For some reason he just spoke to me.

 We added the wreath

The Nutcrackers

And, of course, Tuppy

I wonder where he has gotten off to -- haven't seen him in awhile.  Hmm..that pesky little elf!

So, it is all decorated and I actually think I enjoyed it this year.  I decided early on that there was no "decorate by" date and I think stretching it out just made it better!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Beginnings on Friday

Brought to you by Rose City Reader. Book Beginnings on Friday ask that you share the first sentence or two of whatever you are reading.  Unfortunately, I am reading the same book as I was for my last post but here goes.
From Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson.

"Dear Ginger, I have never been a great follower of rules."

I am reading this book on my Nook -- I think I got it for free or on a good sale.  At any rate, it isn't the sort of thing I usually read -- it is sort of Bridget Jones-esque and Austenland-like -- but I got into it on the first page and I am really enjoying it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays -- December 10

Teaser Tuesdays is a meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  The idea is to grab your current read and share a couple of random sentences.  Share the title and the author so others can add the book to their TBR list if they so desire.

Currently I am reading two books so I will share from each.

The first is Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson.

"Dear Ginger, I have never been a great follower of rules.  You know that."

Hmmm...sounds like a great big "but" to me!  I just started this book last night and didn't get beyond these first two lines before the bag monster got me so I will refrain from even trying to make any sort of assessment at this time.

My second book is Good News for Modern Man:  The New Testament in Today's English.

 I have had this book for years and have never read it because I always felt the King James version to be the gold standard for Bibles but I ran across it recently and decided to give it a go.  The only thing is, I found the little disclaimer on the front page to be a bit off putting.  It says "God's Word for a New Age".  That brings up a whole other issue for another blog.  So, here is my passage:

"No one can be a slave to two masters:  he will hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one and despise the other.  So it is with you:  you cannot have both God and wealth as your master."

So, there are my two passages. 

Sunday, December 08, 2013

New Christmas Acquisition --

Isn't it cute -- a Nativity in a leaf!  I went to a cute little gift shop in Hurst called Apple Annie's.  I couldn't stay there though because it was hot, crowded and the heavy candle scents were overwhelming but I spied this on my way out and just had to pick it up!  Love it!
The Bungalow Mystery -- Carolyn Keene

Last night I finished "The Bungalow Mystery" by Carolyn Keene.  It is #3 in the Nancy Drew series.  I have been reading Nancy Drew as part of a reading challenge -- 2012 Pre-1960 Childrens Book Challenge.  This particular title was originally published in 1930 so it certainly fills the criteria.

It was an enjoyable read, as have been the two previous titles in the series.  I was introduced to Nancy Drew as a child but I didn't like them -- I am not sure why because now they are quite delightful.  I think I am going to challenge myself -- not necessarily part of some big, public challenge -- to read the entire series.  Not sure if I will actually purchase the physical books but I might since I have a difficult time trying to declutter my books -- seems logical to just add more to the fray -- oh well, at least this is the only area of my life I am not thinking minimally!

Anyway, I digress.  This is a great little read and I recommend.
Our One Guest

We put out some bird seed for the poor, freezing birds but, much to our surprise, none came -- until yesterday afternoon.  This lonely little guy decided he would brave the ice and have a little "something".

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Minimalism VS Prepper and How I Messed Up

We live in a new house -- built in 2005 -- but we don't live in a huge house.  We "downsized" to a garden home  - we have more square footage in our current home than we did in our former home but we have fewer rooms.  We have a "garden home" but we have a yard as large as our former yard -- fortunately we don't have to cut it ourselves as that is included in the HOA dues.  When we first moved here we only brought what we absolutely wanted and then took the next six years to empty the former house of our "stuff".  It was so nice, at first, to actually have empty drawers and space in the closets but somehow more "stuff" has crept into those spaces and now I am trying to sift through it and get rid of things. 

A good deal of my problem stems from the fact that I sew. I  quilt, I sew and I do needlework -- all hobbies that generate lots of mess.  I don't have a room to do any of this in -- I sew in the laundry room and while everything fits, it doesn't allow for much clutter which seems to accumulate every where I go.

Because of this I have been doing a lot of reading about minimalism.  I have looked at lots of photos and read lots of blogs.  I have even referred back to one of our favorite books -- "The Not So Big House" by Sarah Susanka.  I have tried to employ the principals of minimalism -- if it isn't useful and you don't love it, toss it. That is difficult because I don't generally acquire things I don't like or aren't useful.  I have already gotten rid of almost every small appliance in this house and ALMOST went out and bought another rice cooker before I came to my senses. Another popular technique is to get rid of books and use an e-reader.  I have done some of that and I do enjoy reading some on the Nook but I still like books.  That creates another problem for me.  I have been known to go absolutely insane while standing at the sale table at our neighborhood B&N and buy books that I "might" read someday.  Well, I only have one bookcase dedicated to my own books and it is now double deep so I have taken some to my neighborhood Half Price Books.  However, I have been reading the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton and love, love, love the series.  I guess I had a weak moment while "minimalizing" my bookshelf and I took all my Aunt Dimity books to Half Price to sell.  Immediate regret!  So, I got online and bought them all back in hardback versions!  THAT is how I messed up!  However, I got ten hardback for $35 which wasn't a bad deal and I had earned half that from my paperbacks that I sold so I guess I didn't mess up completely!

So, we have had a major ice storm here in DFW and I have been doing a lot of thinking about minimalism VS prepping.  I have always been one to prep for weather events because I have always lived someplace where we actually had weather events.  I don't worry too much about nuclear war and stuff like that but this ice storm -- quite another story.  So, I was thinking about how you could be a minimalist and a prepper at the same time and it dawned on me that you have to be minimalist thinking in order to be able to prep at all because if your house is full of clutter and stuff you don't use, you aren't going to have room to store the things you do need and be able to find the stuff when you need it -- like gloves for instance.  Yes, I know where my gloves are, thank you, but when fishing through the drawer for them it occurred to me that some organization was in order so, as soon as I can get out of here and go shopping, I intend to buy some organizers to get my stuff in order so I don't have to search for it.  Yes, I will probably have to get rid of some stuff -- like the half dozen socks with no mates -- and I will probably have to replace some stuff -- like the half dozen pairs of socks that are no longer pairs -- and I will probably have to do a good amount of rearranging because things are not stored very logically.  I do have to get the Vera Bradly purses out of the drawers and on the shelves which means I have to get rid of the purses that I don't use anymore into a box for Goodwill. 

Ah, yes, so that is what I have been thinking about while being housebound and it looks like tomorrow is going to be a very busy day with all the drawer cleaning and all.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Book Beginnings on Fridays

I learned about this site from JLSHall's blog, A Little Reading.  It is hosted by Rose City Reader and the idea is to share the first line of whatever you are reading.  I have been looking for a new meme to participate in and this looks like something fun.

So, my excerpt comes from "The Bungalow Mystery",  Nancy Drew, #3.  I have been reading the Nancy Drew series for a children's challenge I have been participating in this year and I have been enjoying it a great deal -- much more than I did as a child when I tried to read them.

So, my sentence goes like this --

"Look at those black storm clouds!" Nancy Drew pointed out to her friend, Helen Corning, who was seated beside her in the bow of the small red motorboat."

Nothing like impending danger to lead into a story! How can you not read on.

I am reading this on my Nook Simple Touch which I am finding to be a good thing and a not so good thing but that is another blog entry.

The Wreath Has Been Hung ----

This was done two days ago when it was about 80 degrees outside.  I made this wreath years ago and it has served me well.  However, today it is a little icy so I am not sure if it will survive this year.

Today our yard looks like this --

This is NOT snow -- it is ice -- and it will not get above freezing until Sunday so here we are.  I am going to go put on some chicken and rice soup and crank up the bread machine.  Thankfully, I think it is over for us -- now we just have to thaw.  Great day for reading and Christmas movies!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

And Here Come the Nutcrackers ---

There was a time when I rushed through the holidays.  I shopped early.  I wrapped early.  I wanted the tree up on Thanksgiving night regardless.  I was driven.  I was also tired with all that rushing.  I couldn't enjoy the end result because I didn't enjoy the process.

There were a few years that I tried to keep up the pace for my children even though my children were grown and gone with spouses and homes of their own.  Maybe I was trying to ignore the fact that my nest was empty and I wasn't enjoying it.  It was very depressing to realize that I was doing what I had always done and nobody cared or appreciated it.

So....then followed the years that I just didn't bother.  I have a Christmas village that we put up every year but it turned into a chore with no joy.  Nobody was there to enjoy it and I just ceased caring.  There were even a couple of years that I didn't bother with a tree -- the village was exhausting enough.

The last couple of years my apathy was fueled by what was clearly declining health although I didn't realize it at the time.  I didn't have the energy or the interest and besides, the children were doing their own thing so it didn't matter whether I went through the motions or not.  These last couple of years Christmas has just sort of come and gone and I was just as glad to have it that way.

This year is different.  A lot different.  In the first place, my good health has been restored and I have a huge amount of energy and interest in things and I am seeing the holidays in a whole new way.  What way is that?  Well, I have come to realize that Christmas is MY Christmas too -- not just reliant on my children.  I can enjoy the holiday on my own terms -- and do it the way I want even though that may not be the way it was done in the past.  I can change things up and not feel like I am somehow betraying my traditions.  I can decorate as much or as little as I want.  I am not in a race against some arbitrary time constraints.  So, I have been decorating a little bit at a time -- looking at my decorations that have been accumulated over time -- really enjoying them and remembering when they were acquired and where.  I have even added a few new things this year.  The village will most certainly go up -- probably this weekend -- and I may or may not put up the tree, I haven't decided. The wreath goes up this evening and the stockings will follow suit. 

This season of Advent is so meaningful to me.  It is a time of quiet which I need.  It is a time of peace which I feel so strongly right now.  It is a time of new beginnings which I look forward to.  This Christmas is going to be different than the last several Christmases have been because I am different and I am thinking I like this new outlook.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

I Realize I Am Old But ...

is black Friday really necessary?  I mean, when I was a kid, we had Thanksgiving which was a really quiet day for the most part.  The rest of the weekend was pretty relaxed as well -- some people had company for the weekend and families like mine just enjoyed the long weekend. We didn't rush through Thanksgiving with the focus on going shopping at some ridiculous hour only to trample people for "stuff".  In my family we didn't even start thinking about Christmas until December! Imagine that.

I went shopping this evening for an event at our church and I was appalled. My neighborhood Target looked like it had been ravaged by locusts and it didn't appear to be recovering.  Everything was completely picked over, shelves were empty, there was nothing to choose from and there was no evidence to suggest that there was any restocking planned. I mean, seriously?  It is only the beginning of December and I can't believe that everybody is done with their shopping.  What is going to happen to people who don't shop until mid-month, like when they get paid?  Not everybody like to shop for Christmas presents and Halloween simultaneously.  It was really depressing this evening. 

So, I have to ask -- is Black Friday necessary? 

Sunday, December 01, 2013

And We Wait --

Advent has arrived and I have to say I really look forward to the season.  I try to get the majority of the shopping done prior to the first Sunday so that I can actually enjoy the waiting and the quiet.

 When my children were little I didn't really subscribe to the Advent mindset -- I was caught up in the chaos that begins somewhere around Halloween.  I have to admit, sadly, that I didn't really enjoy their Christmases.  They were too hectic, too much materialism, too much comparison.  I was insecure in my role as a mother and clearly lost focus easily.  Even though I was religious and my children were raised in the church, I was too caught up in the Christmas of the world and I regret it.

However, things are different now.  I have learned to embrace the quiet and the concept of waiting.  I have slowed down -- not because of my advanced age (that is a joke, people) but because I have a new appreciation of time. I don't want to look back at my time and see chaos.

So, today as I blessed our wreath and shared the readings with my youngest granddaughter I took my time.  We didn't rush through, we talked about what I was saying and what the season meant.  We talked about Advent being a time of waiting for something wonderful to come, the birth of Baby Jesus.  I could almost feel time slow down.  It was such a wonderful feeling.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Minimalist Melissa

Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about my possessions mostly because I am overwhelmed by them.  We don't have a large house and when we moved here we had a place for everything and things were organized and manageable.  However, in a mere seven years something dreadful has happened.

One of the dreadful things that has happened is the sale table at Barnes and Noble.  I have a huge personal library that I will never read.  When I purchased a lot of the books, they seemed interesting but now, not so much.  So, in the last couple of weeks I have culled some of the books and taken them to my neighborhood Half Price Books to sell them.  I didn't get a lot for them but that is ok.  Yes, I could put them on Ebay and try to recoup what I paid for them but that is just an awful lot of bother, now, isn't it?  Other options are to offer them on Goodreads or donate to the library -- both options I might consider -- especially the library.  In any event, I need to make further strides in that area and keep the books that truly mean something to me.

Another dreadful thing that has happened -- magazine subscriptions!  Somehow I have to get my husband to quit subscribing to magazines.  Really.  They are taking over the house!

I also seem to have a problem with purses/handbags.  I put out a question on facebook yesterday asking if I were to only have one purse, what would my friends recommend.  I got a few responses -- all good -- and I think I am considering this:

They come in three sizes and I will probably opt for the large considering I could use it as an overnighter if I chose to. It is weather proof nylon, lined and has leather trim.  It doesn't have lots of pockets inside which I always seem to gravitate toward yet never use. These bags are very popular on the East Coast and not so much here in the south, however, because they are lightweight and water-resistant, I think one would serve me well.  So, this might be on my Christmas list.  First, however, I need to go through my current pile of purses and sort things out.

Shoes are not really an issue.  I used to love to buy shoes but not so much anymore.  I have a pair of black Clark's flats and a pair of tan -- exactly the same, very comfortable and very basic.  I have some sandals, one pair of athletic type shoes and one pair of top siders.  I have a pair of black heels but I don't wear them often.  I will keep them though, just in case the need arises.

I have several silky blouses that are just too big and really, even though I am old, they just smack of "old lady" and they are going away.  Far, far away.  I have a few coordinated items with colored slacks and coordinating blouses -- too, too old lady for me.  So, they will be going.  I am shaping my wardrobe around the basic colors of navy, black, and gray -- I don't like khaki -- and intend to use some accent colors of red, turquoise and possibly pink.  I don't get dressed up anymore in dresses and I think I can dress up the other things I have to serve the purpose if I need to.  I have long comisserated the demise of our "ladylike" dress, complete with gloves but, now that I am living life in the slower, retired, more leisurely lane, I think I might actually enjoy no stockings and no gloves --- soft socks are really nice.   I might consider a black, straight skirt -- I might be able to do that.

As I discussed in an earlier post, I am test driving a new makeup -- Rejuva Minerals and so far I like it.  I placed an order for two foundations, a blush and an eyeshadow.  The blush was not in the order and I called the number, got a real person -- a nice one -- and explained.  She explained to me why the blush was not there -- it was on backorder -- and she expected it to be in stock and shipped by Friday.  I received an email that it was shipped and I should receive it tomorrow.  The reviews of the mascara was very good and so, if I like the blush I will probably order the mascara and an eyeliner and purge the rest of my cosmetics.  I buy the stuff but don't wear it or wear it once or twice and don't like it and then it just piles up in the drawer because I feel bad about buying it and then just throwing it away.  Since I do believe that less is more as we age, I think this amount of makeup will do just fine and I can throw it in a makeup bag and take it with me if I so choose.  I still can't download a photo so visit the site at rejuvaminerals.com.

I am looking for a new pair of dressy jeans and I think I am going to try the ones at Coldwater Creek.  I have seen them on and they are nice.

So, that is what has been on my mind all this week.  Getting rid of things, paring down to what is important and meaningful and making my life easier on the whole.  Once it is done, I guess the trick is to keep up the process -- that may be harder than getting things done to begin with!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New Approach

For sometime I have been interested in a "greener" way of life and have been successful at effecting some change in my home.  I have either disposed of all plastic items or swapped out for a healthier option -- it seems that no matter how much I get rid of, I still have a need for some plastic but it is far less than I used to have.  I have experimented with making homemade laundry detergent which I still do and I prefer cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients rather than using processed foods.  My bread maker has had a good workout this past year although I have had to cut down on making bread because my diabetic husband can't seem to control himself and he over indulges.  However, because of the bread baking, I can't eat loaf bread anymore.  I just don't care for the taste.

So, in light of recent health issues I have turned my attention to personal care products.  I have done quite a bit of reading on the chemicals that go into what we put on our skin and since our skin is our largest organ, everything that goes on also goes in.  I learned in high school that I am allergic to formaldehyde so I can't use nail polishes that contain formaldehyde so, rather than use and pay for a product that doesn't work very well, I opt to not use it at all.  Once in a while I will go for a pedi but not often.  I have never dyed my hair because I have always been concerned about the health concerns involved so I started turning gray at 19 and never covered it up.  I am still ok with that.

So, that brings me to cosmetics and that is a whole new world of toxicity.  Now, I would love to just wash my face, moisturize and go but the reality is that I am a Baby Boomer and if I don't do a little something I run the risk of scaring small children while out and about.  However, I have pared down what I do.  I used to do a lot of exfoliation, cleansing, moisturizing, toning, and treating the wrinkles and fine lines which aren't so fine anymore.  However, after researching many of the drugstore brands I have pretty much banned all of them.  I have been using a lot of Origins products and I can't find much on cosmetic database sites about them so they probably won't be coming back into the house either.  So, I am using this:

 It is castile soap which has an oil base so I am not needing too much moisturizer and what I do use is Aveeno -- plain Aveeno without the soy.  It is working fine and I don't see any ill effects to my skin -- plus I feel squeaky clean.

So, that brings us to makeup.  I have a love/hate relationship with makeup at best.  I love it.  I love to look at it, buy it, organize it but I don't love to use it.  However, there is that thing about scaring children so I need to do something.  I have tried many of the natural/organic makeups and they are all lacking in some way -- mostly that they aren't as natural/organic/pure as they claim to be.  So, after doing some research on www.ewg.org (cosmetic database) I chose to try Rejuva Minerals (www.rejuvaminerals.com)  and sent off for some of their samples.  I received them yesterday, minus one of the items (I don't know why) and I tried them for the first time this morning.  They have a large selection of colors and I, surprisingly, hit on one that works well.  I ordered two different shades but feel that one will be way too light and I haven't tried it yet.  I ordered an eye shadow and a blush but the blush wasn't included and I have sent an email to their customer service.  I hope to hear from them today.  So far my impression is favorable.  The packaging is very pretty -- little cardboard containers with sifter lids.  The product went on well and I haven't itched or gotten red at all.  There doesn't seem to be any scent to it, or none that I have picked up on -- that means I don't smell like dirt.  I wish I could download a photo  because they are really adorable little boxes.  The samples are a bit pricey -- $10 but there is a lot of product in there and definitely worth it.   Since I don't wear makeup every day the sample will last me a while.  If I like the blush when I get it I am going to try the mascara and then will probably purge my entire stash and just switch over.  That approach fits my new "minimalist" mindset and I will be glad to have less to keep up with, especially if these new products fill the bill.

I have been following a blog -- becomingminimalist.com - and it is very interesting and informative with lots of idea about how to simplify your life and declutter.  I have started paring down in many areas and will continue to do so as I like the peace and quiet of having what I need and nothing more.  But...that is another blog entry.

To South Carolina

I have been enjoying the novels of Dorothea Benton Frank since earlier in the year when I listened to "Pawley's Island" on audio book while commuting to my daughter's house daily.  Shopping my own bookshelves -- I always have unread books there waiting for me -- I noticed that I had picked up a copy of "Return to Sullivan's Island" sometime back and since it is the second in a series I decided to pick up the first book and read it.  "Sullivan's Island" was a great read for me -- it switched back and forth between the present and the past -- the past being in the 50's and 60's which brought back memories for me.  It was a very engaging book and I enjoyed it very much but I always enjoy books about families and interpersonal relationships and how they deal with difficulty.  So, when done, I immediately picked up "Return to Sullivan's Island". 

It takes up with all the children in the first book grown with families of their own.  The main character is Beth -- the daughter of Susan, the main character in the first book.  This book is a bit more light hearted with a bit more comic relief even though Beth goes through some rather difficult growing pains.  This is a great book for curling up with on a cool, rainy day because it is an easy book to get "into".  Both books are easy to get into, actually, and I high recommend them both.

I have to say that reading these books about the Lowcountry have made me want to visit Charleston, SC.  I must be on the right track because in a survey discussed on the "Today" show this morning says that Charleston is the number  one choice for smaller city vacation spots. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Ancestry Abounds --

I love Ancestry.com.  I have done genealogy for a lot of years and all those years of research have never yielded me as much information as I have gotten off Ancestry, mostly recent.  It is amazing the number of photos that I have been able to view and download in just the last year.  The headstone photos below are definitely within my reach as they aren't a very long drive east from where I live.  However, some of the photos of family members I would never have seen if it weren't for kind folks putting them on their Ancestry pages.

This is my 3rd great grandfather, Henry Patrick Conn.  When hearing about him as a child I somehow envisioned a person very much like the wizard in the movie, The Wizard of Oz.  When I found this photo I was surprised at how unwizardly he was but I have to say I think he was rather handsome.  In later photos, it appears that he was much taller than the wizard as well.  I definitely think he shows a lot of his Irish heritage here -- mostly the hat and the shirt.  I have no idea when the photo was taken.

Here is Henry's final resting place marked by a very lovely headstone which I would assume is not original.  The name of the cemetery is Gravel Hill and it is located in Sabine County, Texas.  A number of my relatives are buried here as well.

Meet my 3rd great grandmother, Clarissa Gibson Conn, wife of Henry.  She appears to be tiny, almost child-like.  Her daughter Clarissa Abi Conn was the same way.  In any event, this lady is buried next to her husband and here is her headstone.

Another lovely headstone, also assumed to be more recent but I am not sure.  I wish I could have known these people as I don't know a whole lot about them except they were farmers in East Texas.  They were both descended from Irish/
English ancestors and their names are carried down through the family not unlike most other families of that era.  You can find Patrick's and Clarissa's and Martha's all over the family all the way down to my father, Pat (fondly called Paddy by my grandmother) and a cousin named Martha Ann. 

I just love doing genealogy and being able to find these photos has just made it all the better.  I spend many hours looking at photos and documents and family trees -- it never gets old to me. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Nancy Drew -- Who Knew?

I have always been a reader.  I don't remember a time in my life that I wasn't a reader.  My daughter's name even came from a book so you can see that reading has had an impact on my life.  I remember as a little kid I watched my mother read the newspaper and was completely fascinated by it -- I would ask her what it felt like to be able to read.  So, when I started reading I never stopped and, in my old age, I truly believe that if you have your health you have everything and if you can read, you can do anything.

So, this year I decided to join two Reading Challenges on Goodreads -- the 2013 Reading Challenge where my goal was 20 books.  I have met and surpassed that goal and I still have a couple of books to finish before the end of the year.  I also joined the pre-1960 Children's Book Challenge.  This challenge requires you to read any children's book that was published prior to 1960 and contains more than 60 pages.  I decided I would read one author and I started with the Bobbsey Twins books but they didn't hold my interest well enough. So, I decided I would try Nancy Drew again and have been completely drawn in.  I had quite a few Nancy Drew books from a book club I belonged to but I could never get "into" them.  My mom read them, my aunt read them, my grandmother read them but I didn't.  However I decided to give them another chance for this challenge and I am really enjoying them.  Today I finished "The Case of the Hidden Staircase".  It was really good and a little spooky.  I really enjoy the settings in these books -- I mean, who doesn't like big mansions with antiques and secret doors and, yes, hidden staircases.  There is just enough intrigue to make you keep reading but not so much to be frightening to younger readers.  They do hold an adults interest and they are very quick reads.  I would recommend to anybody who wants something light that takes you back in time a bit.

So, after finishing "The Case of the Hidden Staircase" I immediately bought the next one in the series for my Nook.  I will be starting "The Bungalow Mystery" tonight!  Review to follow.

Friday, September 20, 2013

2013 Reading Challenge

I was going great guns on my reading challenge for 2013 and then many distractions popped up and the reading fell by the wayside.  However, it is picking up again and I have completed one more book for the 2013 Pre-1960 Children's Book Challenge.

When I was a child I belonged to a Nancy Drew book club but I never read any of the books! My mother loved them and my aunt loved them but me -- yeah, not so much.  However, I revisited them for the book challenge and I was completely taken in by this story and would definitely recommend it.  In fact, I am looking forward to the next title in the series -- The Case of the Hidden Staircase. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Old Meme Revisited

Taking some time this afternoon to catch up on my blog reading, I was reminded me of an meme I shared a long time ago.  JLSHall at Joysweb decided to revisit this meme and I thought it would be fun to do the same.  In order to participate you google your name and the word "needs" and list the first ten things that come up.  So, here is an updated version of mine.

Melissa needs:

some help -- hmmm.. yeah .. vacuuming comes to mind here.

a bunny and a stove .... uh, ok

to see -- is this prophetic or philosophical or perhaps a reminder that I need to get my eyes tested

make the signed copy of Google maps she uses -- who is supposed to sign it?

to stop wearing -- is this a remark about the blue eye shadow? How rude!

 a home -- what? this isn't home?  Then why am I doing all this vacuuming?

 a straightjacket --  excuse me?  Well, maybe I do.

to focus -- this is true -- Christmas shopping did not go well on Wednesday

help getting her truck on the road  -- well, first I would need a truck.  Hubs won't let me drive his. 

I don't think these responses were as much fun as the first time around.  Oh well, have a go and see how funny your responses are!


Monday, September 02, 2013

All Things Family History

I have done genealogy for years -- absolutely years.  I have never, up until now, figured out how to store and organize all the documentation that goes along with it.  I didn't think up the system on my own, I stole it from somebody on YouTube and, I will say, she did a much better job of it than I have.

I have tried everything from file cabinets to notebooks to folders to electronic programs and nothing seems to work for me as well as I would like.  So, when I went looking for a "new" way to do things, I had an open mind and a good thing, too, because I watched this woman organized her records and was slapped in the face by the simplicity of it all.  Why hadn't I thought of it?

The whole idea is filing documentation, in pendaflex folders in portable, plastic file boxes, by the individual.  Each person in your tree has a folder and whatever information you have on that person goes in his/her file.  They are arranged in the file box just like they appear on your ancestor chart.  By doing it this way you have ready access to whatever you have on any person and you can readily see if you need to find a document to add more information to your tree.  Before I tried keeping all my death/birth certificates (and other documents in like fashion) in one folder labelled as such and I had to sift through all of them in order to find one particular one.  This was time consuming and also meant I handled the documents more than necessary.  Those things are expensive so you really don't want to handle them more than you need to.

Now, the lady on the YouTube video did hers with more panache than I have.  I have been reusing file folders that have been used before, not caring if they were color coordinated.  This lady used blue for her male ancestors and pink for her female ancestors.  It looks really nice when put together but, since I have been going "green" for a while, I saw no sense in repurchasing what I already had. 

As I sat and worked on this today, totally trashing my dining room table, I was amazed at the amount of information I have amassed on all those who went before me.  A good deal of it I had forgotten I had.  I was surprised at some of the information and was able to add it to my tree on Ancestry.com right away before I filed it away.  I discovered some copies of pictures that I mulled over for a while -- I never knew these relatives but I feel like I do.  I finally feel like I am getting all my information in some sort of workable order.  Genealogy is a great hobby but, when you get past the four or five generations, the volume of information becomes almost uncontrollable and almost takes on a life of its own.  I feel like I might actually have a shot at taming the beast with this system.  In the new system, it will be so nice to be able to pull a folder and look over the contents without having to sort through tons of material to find something.  Yes, I think this will work.

I have abandoned the project for the evening -- the dust from the paper is making my nose run and I don't need that -- so tomorrow is another day and I will continue then.  I don't want to rush through this process, I want to enjoy it and relish the past.  My mother always chastised my dad for "living in the past" and I guess, to some extent, I do the same but some days, the past is just the place I need to be.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Still Here -- Just Tired

Hi, all! I am still here -- just a little tired.  Things have been very busy lately what with babysitting the Bean and taking care of my health -- both very tiring activities.  I find that when I return home of an evening about all I can do is a shower, a bit of reality tv, some facebook and then I am down for the count.

Speaking of reality tv, I have somehow morphed into watching Honey Boo Boo.  Why you ask?  I have no clue.  This isn't my usual sort of viewing pleasure.  I love the Smithsonian Channel, PBS, The Learning Channel but not Honey Boo Boo.  I have to say, though, it is the ultimate diversion.  For sure.

Facebook has taken on a different approach for me.  I have a love hate relationship with FB -- I really don't like some of the political stuff on there but I have really enjoyed reacquainting myself with people I went through school with.  We have talked about our present lives and we have talked about our childhoods and taken walks down memory lane, dredging up old memories and having a lot of laughs over it.  We have watched our elementary school be torn down -- much to our dismay -- and we have wondered where others are that we haven't heard from in many years.

After one of those walks down memory lane, I seemed to stay on the path for a while.  I was trying to find my  "happy place" and I did -- in the library of my junior high school.  In a previous post, or two, I have discussed attending a "historical" school on a main street that led to downtown San Antonio, in a beautiful, historic neighborhood with gorgeous homes called Monte Vista.

 The school was built in 1923 and many of my family members attended.  It was, in my mind, a beautiful school -- on the outside.  It has been described as a bit "prison-like" on the inside, however, but I never felt that way.  As one who always loved old architecture, I just loved the dark woodwork, the transom windows, the mullioned floor to ceiling windows and the library.  The first floor windows in the photo above are that very library.  Those windows look out on San Pedro and into the neighborhood of beautiful homes across the street.

Now, I always wanted to be a writer and I would spend many long study hall periods studying each house I could see and making up stories of the families that lived in each house.  The stories became very elaborate in my mind but I never seemed to write them down.  What a shame because I believe that they were very good -- in my 14 year old mind.

During this same time, my father was dabbling in movie making.  He created a film that used almost all local talent including a young college student named Helen Hogan.

My twelve year old self thought Miss Hogan was wonderful.  She was elegant, poised,  pretty, and thin!.  She was active in the San Antonio Little Theater scene along with several of the other cast members.  I thought the little theater life was the most glamorous even though I had only been in the theater once for a piano recital.  So, the movie making came and went, as did the cast members.  I grew up and never gave all that much thought until I was recently asked what happened to all those people.  So, the genealogist in me went on a hunt for those elusive cast members.  I knew a several had passed away, one had moved far away and then there was Helen Hogan.  A quick search and I learned that she had married in the 1990's and was living -- yes, in one of those houses that I had made up a story about!

No, none of my stories ever centered around a young socialite of means, a debutant, a budding actress who was active on the civic front and enjoyed starring in her university's dramatic performances.  But, maybe one should have -- sounds like a pretty nice story to me.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Suddenly Good Reads Dysfunctional

I have been participating in the 2013 Goodreads Reading Challenge, pledging to read 20 books.  I have met my goal but Goodreads will never know that because it won't let me add one of the books I have read! I have tried everything I know but it just won't get added to my "read" list.

The book is titled "West of the Creek:  Murder, Mayhem and Vice in Old San Antonio".  It is a small book with 35 stories about all sorts of scandalous activities in San Antonio from the early days until the 30's and 40's.  Now, I recognize that this isn't a book for everybody but being from San Antonio and doing lots of family research in the area, I found it to be a really interesting read.  I was curious because, when I worked downtown just south of Hemisfair Plaza, my mother was horrified that my place of business was actually in a section of what used to the the old "red light" district.  I laughed but one day I was there late, by myself until my husband could pick me up, and the neighborhood definitely took on another feel at dusk.  Ghosts, maybe?  Ha!

The book was very interesting when I looked at where events took place or where businesses were located and they were areas that I am familiar with and had no idea that shady things had once gone on there!

Anyway, this was my 20th book for my Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge and I can't get it to post!  Grrrr!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times -- No, Wait, It Was Just July

Do we all remember when Queen Elizabeth referred to her particularly very bad year as "annus horribleus"?  Well, that is how I feel about July but just don't know how to say it in Latin.  It all started the last of June, actually.  School had let out,  plans were made for the Bean's birthday party, the day had arrived, the guests were there and the party ensued but the honoree's mother was on the bathroom floor writhing in pain.  Immediately after the last guest left, Dear Daughter was taken to the emergency room (this was a Saturday) to have her gall bladder removed as she had two gall stones stuck in a duct.  Of course, she had to wait until Monday because only emergencies are taken on weekends so she had one procedure on Monday to remove the offending stones and the second procedure on Tuesday to remove the offending gall bladder.  I stayed at her house for the duration.

I felt terrible.  Couldn't breathe.  Couldn't walk. Chest pains.  Yes, I was going to the doctor right after the planned trip to San Antonio on July 8.

The trip to San Antonio came and went and I wasn't able to participate much because of the aforementioned symptoms.  During one sight seeing venture, I just stayed in the hotel room.  We came home.  Truly, the daughter shouldn't have gone either as she was having trouble eating from the surgery. I made and went to the dr. appointment as I said I would. I still felt horrible but he said everything sounded fine and looked good.  This was on Wednesday.  On Thursday I was sent to the hospital because my hemoglobin was half what it should be. I received four pints of blood.  When the doctor started quizzing me I mentioned that I had never been through menopause and immediately a gyno was called in and in very short order I had an exam, a sonogram, a biopsy and a referral to a gynecological oncologist.  The next week I had a hysterectomy, a pathology report that declared everything negative but one lymph node and because of that one lymph node and the fact that the type of malignancy tends to be a bit aggressive,  I will be starting a  twelve week stint of chemo starting on August 19. 

This blog is primarily a book blog, a Bean blog, sometimes a travel blog, sometimes a rant/vent blog.  What it will never be is a political blog or a cancer blog.  I am upbeat, I think things will go well, I have faith in the doctor and in my God and I will not allow this to define me.  I have not discussed this on Facebook and will not do so -- I have talked to the people that I feel need to know and that is where I am leaving it.  I just wanted my bloggy friends to know why I haven't been here for a while and also that I feel really good, have a very positive outlook and feel that things are going to go well for me. 

So, on that note, I would like to add that I have been doing a LOT of reading during all of this -- I finished "Sullivan's Island" and am half way through "Return to Sullivan's Island".  They are fantastic reads and I recommend to everyone.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

And She Lives to Tell The Tale --

Yes, today I went to visit the little doctor man.  I was anxious, upset, and my hands felt like they had been in cold storage.  He was friendly and personable.  I was comfortable with him and the nurse although I still don't like the Nazi receptionist.  The final result was my heart and lungs sound normal -- how can that be -- I have an irregular heart beat and I have heart palpitations and now I have chest pains.  Ah, yes, anxiety.  The blood sugar was normal but he did the A1C anyway.  The thyroid is in question but we will have the results of that Friday as well.  So, he sent me on my way and pronounced me ok albeit somewhat of a nervous, anxiety ridden walking disaster.  Take Clariten for the allergies, exercise, good about that 31 lb. weight loss, get a new b/p monitor and have a nice day.  Sigh.  I am pleased, don't get me wrong, I am just surprised.  Is the mind all that powerful to make a sick person out of a well person?  I guess it could be.  I think I am a good example of the first year psychology student who analyzes everybody -- maybe I know a just enough medical stuff to be dangerous.  In any event, we will talk more when the test results come back.

Monday, July 15, 2013

If It's Not One Damn Thing, It's Another......

Yep, those are the words of my wise Aunt V.  The last several weeks have been chock full of challenges and the only good one resulted in a new computer for me.  And a new Vera Bradley tote bag.

It all started when school let out and my DD went back to being a full time mommy and I went back to whatever it was I used to do before I became a part time caregiver to the Bean.  It is hard to remember what I used to do so for the better part of June I just sort of roamed around the house.  I did notice, however, that I was getting shortwinded.  Well, I do have allergies so.....that is my catch all excuse for everything.

Anyway, about three weeks ago I noticed that I could only walk about 25 steps before I got this really bad pain in my chest.  I had had this pain before but usually only outside.  Now it was happening inside after 25 steps.  It made me nervous.  I started researching online and I think I have angina.  Or possibly anxiety.  There is no "possibly" for the anxiety -- I have always been the most nervous person I have ever known -- well, not really, I think my mother cornered the market on that.  Anyway,  on the 29th I went to the Bean's birthday party and when I walked in I found that my daughter was in great pain -- she had been since Thursday but didn't say much.  However, this was different.  The party happened, all 30 something people came, ate donuts, opened gifts and left all while my DD was wadded up in a ball on her bathroom floor.  After almost everybody left she did too -- for the hospital.  Long story short -- bad gall bladder, two stones stuck in a duct, surgery not an option.  Done. 

A week later it was off to San Antonio for a little vacation.  My chest was still hurting tafter 25 steps so I didn't do so well.  DD did fine, she went on the trip with the blessing of her surgeon, but came home with a blood clot in her wrist.  After they dropped us off at our house they were back to the hospital -- blood clot is fine -- it will go away in a week or so.

So, back to me.  About six weeks ago I discovered that I was really thirsty -- a lot-- so I asked my hubs to test my blood -- he is diabetic so he has all the equipment.  I have been testing my blood sugar daily since then and it has stayed firmly in the pre-diabetes range except for the couple of times it has gone over into the diabetic range. 

Then, there is the ever present worry about my thyroid.  I had a diagnosis of overactive thyroid years ago - it was never addressed and nothing was ever done.  However, I think I have a thyroid issue since I have almost every symptom of both over and under active thyroid.

So, Wednesday I will be visiting my husbands little doctor.  I was always a doctor goer but, after my parents and aunt passed, I decided to fire the dr. we had been going to.  I never really trusted her, felt she was too handy with a prescription pad, and when I realized that she actually made deadly mistakes, I decided I was better off without her.  However, I don't know what the chest pain is, really, and WebMD isn't too reliable.  I could test my own thyroid but I would feel better with a dr. doing it and I can't do the A1C for the blood sugar so, hi ho, hi ho, off to the dr. I go.

That is why I have been absent here but that is temporary.  I will be back with more boring posts as soon as I have all this sorted out.  Or, maybe later to post some vacation pics.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

WWW Wednesdays (June 19)

WWW_Wednesdays4To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading Sullivan's Island by Dorothea Benton Frank.  It is another in her collection of Low Country novels.  I am half done and it has me completely taken in. 

I just finished reading A Highland Christmas by M. C. Beaton.  This is the first in the Hamish Macbeth series and it was completely enjoyable. It was a short read but it was engaging and entertaining.  I  can't wait to start on the next one,

I am not sure but I think I will start The Secret of the Old Clock next -- I might even read concurrently with Sullivan's Island. As a child I was not a big Nancy Drew fan but since I have been so enamoured with the Macbeth and Dimity series, I thought I would give it a go.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

Ok, my teaser this week is coming from A Highland Christmas by M. C. Beaton, page 103.
"A red haired little boy  called Sean Morrison said "Folks say Morag has been visiting Mrs. Gallagher." There was an amazed chorus, "That old witch! Maybe she'll put a spell on her!"

This is a short little book -- only 130 pages -- and very easy reading but it is so relaxing -- you are simply transported to this little village of Lochdubh in Scotland and there you sit watching the antics and mysteries of the locals and you feel like you are right there.

Monday, June 17, 2013

MusingMondays5Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it! 
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

I recently bought Imitation of Life, The Secret of the Old Clock, and A Village Christmas.  I was pretty desperate to acquire Imitation of Life so, when I couldn't find it locally and actually wanted a physical book, I ordered it.  I haven't started it yet but am anxious to. 

I had to  hunt down A Village Christmas as well but managed to do so and that is what I am reading now.  This is the first book in the Hamish Macbeth mystery series by M. C. Beaton and, even though I listened to another title in the series on audio book and enjoyed it but I like to read a series in order of publication even though it might start with a Christmas book in the middle of summer!

I am also participating in a childrens book challenge requiring me to read books published prior to 1960.  When I was in elementary school, we were issued a required reading list at the beginning of the year and a due date for four book reports.  We could choose whatever books interested us off the list and I even had my favorite authors back then -- Lois Lenski, Kate Seredy, Laura Ingalls Wilder, etc.  I tried to enjoy the Nancy Drew series but I didn't so I thought I would give it a go for this challenge and since I have to start a series at the beginning (bit OCD maybe?) I acquired the first in the series -- The Secret of the Old Clock.  I haven't started it yet but since it looks like we have a long rainy day ahead of us, I might get a whole lot of reading done.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Finds is hosted by shouldbereading.wordpress.com.  This week my Friday Find is M. C. Beaton's "A Highland Christmas".

When I say it was a "find" I meant it-- literally.  I had checked this book out from the library via my Nook.  It was my first library book on the e-reader and, as I was finishing up some other reads, I didn't have time to finish it before it was due to be returned so I decided to purchase the book.  I went to my local B&N to find it and, for the life of me, I couldn't find any of the Beaton books.  Yes, yes, I know, I could have asked but asking for help in a bookstore for me is like a guy asking for directions while driving -- isn't going to happen.  Somehow I managed to find the books and I honestly don't know how they were shelved -- they just didn't seem to be in the correct place but I DID find them but not this title. Looking down at the lowest shelf, behind another title by another author, I found this little bitty book.  Was it shelved wrong or did somebody hide it there to be picked up later?  Who knows but the bigger question is-- this is such a short book why didn't I finish it before it was due at the library?  Anyway, I have the book and will be finishing it now.  As far as "discovering" a new read, I have to say that I discovered this entire series and look forward to enjoying it as much as the Aunt Dimity series.