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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

E-Reader Love

I do love a gizmo. The only problem is that I am just not sitting on any fat stacks so I am not rocking the newest i-thing nor do I feel pressured to upgrade just because there's a new bell or whistle. I think that's why I've fallen in love with my Kindles. The e-reader to the left is #3 (I think). #1 wasn't charging right due to a wiggly connection so Amazon sent me #2 (no charge). I drowned #2 in a swimming pool (I actually had it in a Ziplock freezer bag so that it wouldn't get wet but in a fit of brilliance, I flipped that bag over to see if I had sealed it and um, it turns out, I hadn't) so Amazon sent me #3. I bought Steve #4 and then we got Kindle Fires. (I think I've replaced the Fire once as well). I have not had to pay for any of my replacements since they were covered under warranty and when Big Daddy's regular Kindle died after the warranty period was over, they offered him a replacement at discount. We actually used the discount on a Fire which was the newer/better version at that time.

So why do I love the e-reader better than I love "real books?" Let me count the ways:

  1. Books on demand-I am a traveler and an insomniac. I also have very little patience so when the little bell in my brain goes off, I want it now! I love that I can choose a book at 3 a.m. and it's in my hand almost instantly.
  2. Compact Library-I have over 100 books on my regular Kindle and over a dozen on my Fire. I have reference books, spiritual books, games, fiction and nonfiction at my fingertips. I don't have to know what I'm in the mood to read before I leave on a trip, I can take all of it with me without herniating myself. 
  3. Cheap cheap! There are lots of ways to get cheap or free books for an e-reader. Most libraries offer e-books and the nice thing is that when they are due--they simply disappear.
  4. Instant entertainment-with my Kindle Fire, I can play games, check my email, watch a movie (if I have wi-fi access and a movie account like Netflix or Amazon Prime), and read a book. I can also use the small back up battery I have for my phone as an additional power pack for extended use. Amazon offers a free app of the day so it's easy to stockpile apps in the cloud for times when I need to entertain a kid. I can add and remove those as needed without wasting space on my device if I'm not using Fruit Ninja.
  5. Sharing is Caring-Big Daddy and I share an Amazon Prime account. This means that when either of us buys a book or an app, the other has access to them for free. While there's not a lot of overlap in our reading habits, there is some. We both downloaded Kindle versions of several spiritual books and the Hunger Games trilogy which kept us from needing to buy two copies of the same books. We can both watch movies on our Kindle Fire and we get free two-day shipping on all Amazon purchases (which can pay for the annual membership in no time)! 
  6. Go greenish-there is less carbon footprint left by e-books and I don't have to dust my e-reader.
  7. Word of the Day-I love that there is a dictionary attached to the e-reader so if I come upon a word or phrase I don't know about I can look it up instantly in either the dictionary or (with my Fire) in Wikipedia. Super handy feature!
  8. Easy to carry=More reading. My Kindle is almost always with me so when I have to sit in a waiting room, I can read. When someone is late for lunch, I can read. When I'm hanging out waiting for my husband to get off work, I can read and if there's free wi-fi, I can also play Words With Friends. I figure anything that keeps me reading is a very good thing.
There are a few ways the Kindle isn't better.
  1. You can't get a signed/collectible copy of an e-book. 
  2. A Kindle book doesn't smell like a real book.
  3. Some folks miss the heft of a real book--that's not a big thing for me, but I do understand the nostalgia.
  4. It's not as easy to lend/pass on an e-book. 
I know that the e-reader is not for everyone. My mother misplaces her password and finds her e-reader frustrating because she doesn't use it enough to feel comfortable with it. My niece's Amazon account got hacked and there was a pretty big hassle getting that cleared up (although Amazon was very agreeable about it, it took my sister awhile to make the time to call and backtrack with the rep to get things straightened out). I have had nothing but a bunnies and rainbows experience with mine because I use it every day. I hope your day is filled with wonderful words and gizmos that make your life happy. Peace, love & literature!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Write Stuff

I have a secret. I haven't been writing. I haven't been writing anything--not my blog, not my daily inventory, not even a journal entry. This is not good. This is not good at all.

When I'm not writing, I'm playing hide and go seek with myself and it creates some symptoms that tend to get worse the longer I ignore them. The first symptom is sloth. I get lazy. I don't ride my bike. I don't eat like I'm supposed to. I don't completely quit anything, I'm just not doing enough to improve. I'm not heaping on any pounds but I'm not losing either and historically this means, "What's the use anyway?" is just around the corner. Clutter begins to take over my home. I make grocery lists but I just don't know if I have the will to actually go to the store to buy the food because if I buy it, I'm obligated to cook it. Sigh.

The next symptom is decreased tolerance. I find myself reading links on Facebook that I KNOW are going to annoy me and then I remove the person who posted the link from my news feed. I become Jen the Great and Powerful in my own living room. I rant internally. I roll my eyes. I start diagnosing folks. I do a lot of arm chair quarterbacking other people's problems. Sometimes during this phase I take on a cause, like straightening out Walmart's price match policy, or I set out to debunk every inaccurate link I can find. (Snopes people, just check snopes before you post!)

If the sloth and the intolerance don't get me, the next phase will because this one sort of demands attention. This is the catastrophic meltdown phase. Sometimes this manifests in a full on fight with someone else and sometimes it's just a one-woman weepfest. At this point, I'm not even pretending to function. I'm mad, I'm wounded, and life is terrible. Sniffle, sniffle. I use a lot of absolute statements during this phase--it's always been this way, this never changes, I can't, I just can't do this...sniffle, sniffle.

So I take out my composition notebook and a good pen. I sit down with a cup of coffee and I begin confessing my sins to some blue parallel lines. I begin, "I haven't written in a while. I don't know why. Well, yes, I do. There are things I don't want to look at. There are things I don't think I'm ready to take action on. There are things about me that I don't want to face. I'm angry. I'm afraid..." And the healing begins again. I write down the BS and then I write out the truth.  I discover that I am angry and it's not fair. That's the truth and it's okay. I still have to participate. I still need to contribute. I still ought to try. After I write all of this down, I know that I can do what needs to be done. I don't have to want to. I don't have to like it. I don't have to do it forever, but I need to do something today. I'm going to do something today.

If you need to do some writing to get unstuck, I have a few suggestions:
1. Write in a cheap notebook. There's entirely too much pressure when one buys a $75 leather bound journal. The kind of writing one does to get unstuck is messy. It's not a bunch of $75 deep thoughts it's a bit more barf baggish. Buy a notebook you don't mind being sick in.
2. Write fast. Write faster than the little perfectionist in your head can critique. Get rid of all the rules of grammar and punctuation. This is not an essay. This is "the plane is going down and I have five minutes to get this on paper" writing.
3. Keep the pen moving. Set a timer for five or ten minutes and keep writing no matter what. When you get stuck, write, "I am stuck. This is dumb. I don't want to do this. What is the point. I am stuck. So what. I don't care. My hand hurts but I'm going to keep writing even though I don't want to..." Eventually something is going to splash out. If you don't have a timer at hand decide to write two pages front and back. Push yourself farther than you want to go.
4. Feel free to be angry. It's okay to curse. Seriously. If you feel it, write it! Let it out. You can burn the notebook later but for now, just tell the truth! There are people growing tumors because they aren't letting their anger out--don't make yourself sick. Use your cheap notebook as your personal padded cell. Bounce off the walls. There are no rules in here.
5. If you are afraid of someone else reading your notebook put it away. Lock it in your glove box or put it in a box in the garage. Slip it under a mattress. You can find a hiding place. I believe in you. (Big Daddy used to read my journals but I don't think he does anymore. They really aren't that exciting.)

I hope this silly blog helps someone. I really do. Maybe it just helps me and that's enough. Ya'll have a good weekend and if you get stuck, get to writing! Peace, love & fountain pens!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Plants Gone Wild

I get so excited when Spring comes because I get to plant and then we harvest two cherry tomatoes. I get six irises and four hydrangea blooms and then it gets hot and nothing happens while we water and water and water our plants. The pumpkin plants die. The watermelon plant dies. The tomato plants turn into skinny stalks with four brown leaves on them. The herbs carry on but they don't do much exciting. Then right around the time we lose interest and stop paying attention we get three days of rain in October and BOOM! Pesto Farms goes crazy.

So I thought I'd take you for a walk around our scraggly back yard.


marigolds (?)

cherry tomatoes

orange mint







Easy Riser

Before I get started musing, I think I'm going to give my self a little pat on the back for that breakfast right there. Big Daddy and I are still doing slow carb and you must admit that's a pretty tasty looking dish right there.  I went shopping last night so I could make him a homemade Chipotle bowl (I will post a tutorial later) and I took some of the leftover onions, peppers, corn and black beans, threw in some turkey taco meat with some eggs and topped it with a sriracha drizzle and ay carramba that's good stuff! (Yes it would be better with cheese and tortillas but that's kind of how we got in this mess.)

But back to my week Big Daddy and I will have been married four years, and we've been together for six. That pretty much triples my record and most days I think we're pretty pleased with the decision to get together and stay together. What has surprised me is the shift from my expectations early in our marriage to where we are now. When we were newlyweds it was important to me that my husband have nights and weekends off. I wanted to take dancing classes and get dressed up to go to dinner, I wanted plays and museums and dinner parties (?) and while we did some of that,  (and admittedly it would be easy to throw Big Daddy under the bus on this) I know I had unrealistic expectations about the Kelleys. (I'm sure there are couples who are out tripping the light fantastic three nights a week, but I'm not friends with any of them.) I think I based my daydreams on the Huxtables or something, but we're not a sitcom family and our lives and my expectations as well as what I appreciate and enjoy have gone through some transformations.

Case and point: I love mornings with Big Daddy. While we don't often run around town howling at the moon, I get the luxury of quiet mornings with my pal. We ride our bikes, share facebook news, read books, and watch Good Morning America. He waters the plants in the backyard while I fix breakfast. Our day unfolds slowly and we get quality time when we are fresh and nothing has messed up the day yet. I never would have chosen this. If someone had given me the option, I would have explained that I am not a morning person, that I am grouchy and hard to deal with before noon which it turns out isn't entirely true. I prefer to stay up late and to sleep in a bit which I get to do now. I rarely have to set an alarm. Most days I get twenty to thirty minutes in bed between waking and actually putting my feet on the floor. I was apprehensive when Big Daddy got a job at a bar but the hours have been GREAT for us. He now lives on my vampire schedule rather than me trying to keep up with the cock-a-doodle-doo clock (which I slept right through).

I guess one of the lessons of our first four years is something Mick and Keith figured out a long time ago. I hope your day is filled with peace love and unexpected blessings.

Homemade Chipotle Bowls:

Grill chicken (and or beef) marinated in evoo and fajita seasoning.

Make basmati rice according to instructions. Add fresh cilantro and lime juice. (We left this out because it's not on our diet.)

Then make some pico de gallo. (I just used the grape tomatoes and red onion I had in the fridge.)

To pan roast frozen corn, warm a nonstick pan on high heat and add corn (I didn't add oil so it would brown quickly--you have to keep it moving.) Add a can of rinsed black beans (you can substitute pinto or chili beans).

Chop a head of Romaine.

Make guacamole.

Set out bowls of salsa, sour cream and cheese.

If you are making salads here's a copy cat recipe for the dressing. (We usually skip the dressing.)

Set out all the ingredients and let your family have at it!

This can be wrapped in warm flour tortillas for the burrito, can be served as a burrito bowl or can be made into a salad. Enjoy!

Friday, October 11, 2013

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

Let's just say you've stopped at a garage sale in Fort Worth just to kill a minute or two and although you didn't find anything at the garage sale, when you look across the street you see a pile of boxes. Do you get in your car and drive away or go see what's in the boxes? Well of course you check the boxes.

Imagine that in that pile of boxes you find a whole bunch of groovy sewing patterns--do you leave them for the trash man or do you pick them up? You pick them up!

So what is a crafty girl to do with these patterns?

You might make a tissue paper flower!

You could print some retro clip art on them and then decoupage it to a canvas!
You might create a shabby chic wreath.
Or you might make a funky lamp shade!

As I always say, "free is my favorite price!" I hope you find some treasures among the trash today! Peace, love and upcycling!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Living Room Redo

Yesterday I got a wild hair and decided I wanted to redecorate. I stayed in a guest house in Smithville, Tx last weekend and it was decorated up fifty flavors of cute and I came home with an itch. There was only one problem--I have no dinero for decorating. So here's what I did: I shopped my house for bits and pieces that I could put together to give the living room a new feel without spending any money and after several hours of moving and dusting, shifting and arranging, I wound up with a new room filled with my own stuff. I made a couple of new things to hang on the wall (there is a picture of a bicycle and a wreath made of old sewing patterns that I whipped up yesterday) but for the most part all I did was rearrange and voila! I got a room that makes me smile. As an added bonus, I made Big Daddy say, "Holy cow!"

I hope you are preparing your nest for cooler days and snugglier nights. Peace, love and Modpodge!

Friday, October 4, 2013

My Superman

I have to leave my Superman today. I'm headed out of town to Smithville, Texas. I have no idea where that is but I have a GPS so I imagine I'll get there one way or another. Leaving town used to be a big fun thing before Big Daddy came into my life. I'd look forward to it for weeks, sometimes months. I would get so excited that I couldn't sleep.

It's not like that anymore. I often realize only days in advance that I'm heading out of town. I procrastinate about packing my bags. I whine about all the stuff I have to do to get ready. I drag my feet.

While I was out of town, people inevitably thank me for giving up my time to be at their thingie and in the past I would brush that off saying, "Are you kidding me? I get treated like a princess and I don't have to do any chores. Where's the sacrifice in that?" Now I just say, "You're welcome." Now it is a sacrifice. I love my home because I share it with someone who makes sure I know I'm special every day. (And I get treated like a princess and often don't do any chores.)

So I'm sitting on the couch and I need to make breakfast, finish packing, get showered and ready and I have to load the car. I keep peeking over at the clock to see if I can squeeze just ten more minutes of peace in before I have to start scurrying again. I just want a few more minutes to count the blessings of home before I have to leave it...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Cookie Time

Today I'm baking cookies for a party. A little girl died of cancer last week and her family is hosting a party for family and friends including other "cancer kids" to celebrate her life. I feel very honored to get to play a small part in this celebration. This is one of those things that feels like a "divine appointment." I've prayed for her family and friends while I've been baking cookies and even though I've never met Maddie or her family--she has changed me. And just in case you were wondering, I'm making oatmeal craisin, pinkiedoodles (pink snickerdoodles), pumpkindoodles, chocolate chip cookies and decorated sugar cookies. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The State Fair of Texas

Big Tex

The Ferris Wheel

            Deep Fried Love                                                                          

Big Daddy and I went to the State Fair of Texas. We walked about a million miles in the heat. We rode the DART rail to Fair Park. We ate corn dogs and held hands. Sometimes it feels like we've rewound to the days when he was wooing me and then I realize he still is. It's pretty neat to get swept off my feet all over again (which is a good thing because even after wearing sensible shoes, my feet are killing me). Keep calm and eat corn dogs!