Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Different Way to Celebrate December

You may have heard me mention jenn (she likes lowercase) around these parts before.  She's the only blogger buddy that I know and am friends with in real life, or as the kids say it "irl".  Like, we've shared a meal in person kind of friend.  (Not that I wouldn't be happy to do so with many others of you...there's just this thing called an ocean that separates most of us.)  In fact, I've known her since before the world of blogging...way before.  We shared the same homeroom from 9th through 12th grade. 

She created this super clever, creative, fun scavenger hunt of sorts that helps put some positivity, goodness, and kindness out into the world.  Here's a recap of her November adventures.  She's doing the same for December.  I know, I know.  Decembers are crazy busy for all of us.  But, I'm going to try to squeeze a few of these activities into my month.  Why don't you join us?

December 1, 2016

it's ten this time because a) time, b) money and c) it's my bloggy and i can if i want to. mental floss compiled a list of fourteen days to celebrate in december. i'm using some but not all because of the aforementioned reasons. if you choose to blog about this, photos are required, but they don't have to be selfies (see reason c). you can do them in any order you'd like. they do not have to be tied to their day. you've until december thirty-first to complete this thing.

one. december first. national pie day. also national eat a red apple day. buy, or if you're feeling especially awesome, bake an apple pie and take it to the servers of a favored restaurant. they bring you food and drink at your beck and call. be sweet and bring them some treats.

two. december second. national salesperson's day. i've done more than my share of time in retail hell. i know how dreaded this time of year is for the gals behind the counter. when you're out shopping for those special gifts, ask an associate what a good pick-me-up would be. what can you do to put a bright spot in her day? chances are good it'll be a simple as a cup of starbucks or, in the case of one of my manager friends, a route forty-four diet coke from sonic with hardly any ice in it.

three. december fifth. bathtub party day. things are about to crazy, yeah? or maybe they've done so already? all the shopping and the baking and the trimming of the tree... treat yourself to a time out. snag a favored scented shower gel from bath and body works (or wherever you go for that stuff... i'm partial to bodycology's white gardenia, which can be found at the grocery store for like four bucks), pour a glass of wine, put on some music or listen to a bit of an audio book you've been dying to read but haven't had the time. give yourself a blessed hour. your family will probably thank you for it.

four. december sixth. st. nicholas day. surely you know a nick or a nicholas (or maybe a nicole?). take some time out of your day to send a special note to that person. 'tis the season...

five. december tenth. nobel prize day. here's a list of the laureates in literature. choose one and share a line or two from a work you admire.

six. december twelfth. poinsettia day. pick up one of these gorgeous creations and take it to a friend you've not seen in some time.

seven. december thirteenth. national cocoa day. take a breather from the christmas shopping. treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate.

eight. december fifteenth. cat herders day. surely you know someone who's got one too many cats in his or her house. and surely those cats are wreaking havoc on the christmas decor. find a cute cat card and send it their way. they may be needing the reminder of why they love the things right about then.

nine. december twenty-first. winter solstice day. the longest night of the year. the hardest time of the year for some. there are those who are grieving. there are those who are in the throes of some pretty wicked depression, and this time of year is NEVER good for them. find a way to bring them some warmth, to shed some light. check with your local service organizations and see what you can do to help those in need. take some flowers to a senior living facility. treat a friend who may be grieving to lunch or a movie. or just sit with them for a while. listen.

ten. december twenty-eighth. national card playing day. we spend so much time on our phones or sitting at computers being "sociable". try getting a group of friends together for a game of hearts or spades, uno, skip-bo or phase ten. turn the television off. sit at a table and enjoy each other. have a game night. unwind.

Monday, December 5, 2016

My mother as a pin-up

I've been on a roll with tattoos lately.  I'd had a "wishlist", and I've been knocking those out since finding my little superstar of an artist, Melanie Milne.  In October, I got a tattoo in honor of my dad, and I mentioned one was in the works in honor of my mom too. 

My mother taught baton twirling in my early childhood.  She can still pick up a baton and do some pretty impressive tricks with it.  She taught me in my early years.  We marched in parades and went to competitions.  She was/is energetic and enthusiastic, and everyone loved/loves her.

Me...during my baton twirling career
Rewind to times before my childhood...and before she was my mom...this woman was a drum major during the 1960s.  Not just any drum major, but she led a band of over 300 members, and this band's claim to fame during their tenure was they played the National Anthem during the opening of the Houston Astrodome. 

I used to work with a guy that went to high school with my mom.  He told me that when she took the field that all eyes were on her.  He may have been slightly infatuated all those years later. 

Fast forward...I'd always wanted a pin-up of some sort, and I wanted a tattoo inspired by my mother.  Drum majors, majorettes, baton twirlers, and even pin-ups are "Americana" identities.  It just seemed to work together.  In fact, when I told my tattoo artist my idea, her reply was "that is sooo American, and I love it!"

So, here we are.  She's working.  I'm wincing (in pain).  We're both singing to Eagles Greatest Hits vol.2 and talking about her recent trip to New Zealand.

And...the finished project...I just love her!  (her as in the tattoo, my mom, and Mel, my artist)

My mom has her own sound when she sends me a viber message.  I heard it as I was getting the tattoo.  She asked what I was doing.  So, I sent this in return.  Let me clarify, my mom doesn't like my tattoos, so I had to tell her to not be mad.

Her response was that it was "nice", but she hoped the picture was just a drawing on paper and not on my body.  Ha! 

What do you do that drives your mother crazy?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday's Seven Snapshots vol.101

This red velvet donut with buttercream icing and candy cane decorations was as sensational as it looks. 

I might've got carried away with tree decorations this year...my back patio trees even have lights. 

I love the jacaranda tree in front of my house. I don't love sweeping up after the jacaranda tree. 

I had a realization that yes, I am old, when I walked through H&M and decided everything was crap. 

A book & my snuggly boys ... Not a lot of things that are better than this. 

Street art in Newtown

Sunday brunch with a girlfriend was a great way to end the week. 

 Happy weekend to you!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Book Challenge by Erin 6.0

I host a book challenge on facebook.  If you've read this blog for any amount of time at all, you know I love books.  I read.  I like to talk about books.  I'm a sucker for book challenges.  I started my own challenge a couple of years ago hosting it through this facebook group page.  My thought was this: if I host it through facebook, that's another venue to talk about books with my fellow readers.  I am already in a few challenges that link back to blogs, but not facebook.  I'm pretty happy and proud of the group I've got happening on facebook.  It's so fun to see a collection of readers that are my high school friends, friends of friends, friends around the globe, all coming together for a mutual love of books.  If you're a reader, please join us.  Even just join the group to follow along with the fun.  Or jump in and rock the challenge!

If you aren't a facebooker, that's okay too.  I have some that participate through their blogs and others through goodreads.  Participation is encouraged as much or as little as you choose.

I attempt to be a stress-free, no-pressure kind of host.  This is about loving books, supporting readers, and encouragement for all who express an interest.

We now have a goodreads group too.  It's in its infancy, and Jenn at Optimization, Actually has been kind enough to join me as a moderator to help organize it.  Just trying to create enough options for those who want to participate can in the easiest medium for them to do so.

Warning:  this may be the longest blog post I've ever published, but it's easy to skim.

Book Challenge by Erin 6.0 - General Rules

·         First and foremost, have fun. Don't stress. No one is being judged, graded, or penalized. Even if you finish only one book the entire challenge, if you enjoy it and it's an accomplishment for you, then that's awesome.

·         The challenge will run from JANUARY 1, 2017 to APRIL 30, 2017. No books that are started before 12 a.m. on January 1 or finished after 11:59 p.m. on April 30 will count.  (We live in different time zones – follow this according to your own time zone.)

·         Each book must be at least 200 pages long.   Audio books are fine too.

·         A book can only be used for one category, and each category can only be completed once. If you want to switch the category of a book, or change the book you originally chose, no worries. 

·         You can read your books in any order you choose.

·         Rereads can be used only once.  If a book you love fits into a category, go ahead and visit it again.  Read it in its entirety.  But, only do this once for the challenge.

·         There will be a photo album for each category with links to books chosen.  Please comment on the photo for each of your books when you finish reading them.  A comment can include a review, a rating, a recommendation…other readers want to hear what you thought of your choice.  (if you need help with this, let me know…or there is a file attached to our group explaining what to do.)

·         There will be 10 book categories with a possibility of earning 200 points.   That’s 10 books in four months.  For some of you, this will be a BIG challenge; for others it will be easy peasy.  It’s all for fun, remember!

·         Book categories will be posted December 1st to give you time to gather books in preparation. 

·         After the categories are posted, please post a preliminary list with books of your choice according to their categories on the facebook group page by December 15th (if possible).  If you need help with a particular category or want a book suggestion, we as a community of reading enthusiasts can help each other.  (Late entries will still be accepted.)

·         The first three people who finish the challenge will be invited to contribute a category for the next challenge. The following will get a small prize from me (1st to complete 1st round; 1st to complete both rounds; most points accumulated; and WILD CARD random draw – all who finish the 10 book challenge will qualify as an entry)!  If the same person wins all categories, then I’ll move to the 2nd finisher, then 3rd, and so on.  Plus, everyone who completes the challenge will gets all sorts of recognition and support!

·         Lastly, have fun.  Don't stress. No one is being judged, graded, or penalized. Even if you finish only one book the entire challenge, if you enjoy it and it's an accomplishment for you, then that's awesome.  Wait, I’ve read that somewhere before…Good luck!

Now that the rules are outta the way, here's the fun stuff:

Book Challenge by Erin 6.0 - Categories

·         5 points:  Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages.

·         10 points:  Read a book that starts with the letter “W”.

·         10 points:  Read a book with six words in the title.

·         15 points:  Read a book that has a (mostly) green cover.

·         20 points:  Read a book with a homonym in the title (inspired by the book Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin that I read last challenge with a character who is obsessed with homonyms.)  Only one word in the title needs to be a homonym.  Helpful link:  https://www.cooper.com/alan/homonym_list.html

·         20 points:  (Submitted by Linda) Read a book by your favorite author.

·         25 points:  (Submitted by Christina) Read a book set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live.  To help with books set in certain U.S. states, this link should help:  https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1152882-where-we-ve-been-master-list  To help with international locations, try with this list:  https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1152745-where-we-ve-been-previous-years-master-list

·         30 points:  (Submitted by Peggy) Read a “Rory Gilmore” book.  The character of Rory from the Gilmore Girls was shown reading over 300 different books throughout the series.  Choose one of them from this helpful link:  https://www.buzzfeed.com/krystieyandoli/all-339-books-referenced-in-gilmore-girls

·         30 points:  (Submitted by Stef)  Read a book from a genre that you’ve never read (or rarely read.)

·         35 points:  (Submitted by Ferne) Read a book with time travel.  Helpful link:  https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/4018.The_Best_Time_Travel_Books_of_All_Time

If you are stuck on any of these categories, ask for help or recommendations!  GOOD LUCK!

Anddddddd..........here's my preliminary list (which can also be found on goodreads):
  • 5 points:  Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages:  The Girl Before by Rena Olsen - Micah sent this to me, so it is waiting on my bookshelf for me.
  • 10 points:  Read a book that starts with the letter “W”:  Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight - I picked this up at a discount bookstore after reading good reviews...still need to read it.
  • 10 points:  Read a book with six words in the title:  Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta - I love this author and looking forward to reading her most recent release.
  • 15 points:  Read a book that has a (mostly) green cover:  Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani - I had a few books with green covers on my tbr, and this is the one that intrigues me the most.
  • 20 points:  Read a book with a homonym in the title:  Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers (homonym: some=sum) - I bought this book (quite possibly) over a year ago when bloggers were talking about it in Show Us Your Books.  Still haven't read it.
  • 20 points:  Read a book by your favorite author:  How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper - I have enjoyed every Tropper book I've read, and I will read everything he publishes.  I'm slowly but surely making my way through his back catalog.
  • 25 points:  Read a book set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live:  I Came to Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington - I think Sanch (a blogger that participates in the challenge who just moved from Sydney) read this last book challenge, and it interested me enough to pick it this time.
  • 30 points:  Read a “Rory Gilmore” book:  The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd - it has been on my tbr for years, and I picked it up at a secondhand bookstore.  About time I read it, don't you think?
  • 30 points:  Read a book from a genre that you’ve never read (or rarely read):  Pines by Blake Crouch - I looked up a list on goodreads for "science fiction" books because that is definitely a genre that I rarely read.  Other book lovin' blogger have raved about this author, so I'll give it a shot.
  • 35 points:  Read a book with time travel:  A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain - this category could double for the one above because I avoid "time travel" books.  I didn't even like The Time Traveler's Wife.  But, I enjoy that these challenges push me out of my comfort zone.  This book was nominated for a Goodreads Readers' Choice Award, plus Olya said she didn't expect to enjoy it as much as she did and rated it 4 stars.  Seems like a good pick for a somewhat challenging category for me.

Are you still with me?  Will you join us for Book Challenge by Erin 6.0?  Have you read any of my choices?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Currently...linking up vol.9

Counting.....  down the days until our shop closes.  I'm sure I'll write a post of my mixed bag of emotions about being a small business owner closing our store and tackling new adventures in the future.

Feeling..... the Christmas spirit a little more this year.  I think it's a combination of knowing that I won't be working Christmas Eve for the first time in years and having friends coming to visit from Texas.  It's got me all the more excited this year.

Doubting..... that my tree is going to make it this year.  It's not even December and branches are bent with ornaments falling off.  "Why?" you may ask.  Because out of our 3 cats, one considers himself an expert tree-climber...or he wants to be one of the decorations.

Planning.....  fun stuff for my friend that is visiting.  She and her 11 year old son will be here Christmas through New Year's.  Their excitement for this trip is contagious.  We're going to the beach, to the zoo, camping surrounded by Australian wildlife and more!

Appreciating.....  how sweet my stepkid can be.  We've been talking a lot about my friend and her son visiting and the fun things we have planned.  He asked me "what are you the most excited for?", and my reply was "all of it!"  I asked him the same, and his reply was "I'm just excited to meet them."  How sweet is that?

Applauding..... my husband.  While buying a coffee this week, he witnessed this lunatic of a woman spewing racial rants to people.  She had a Chinese girl in tears.  She told an Indian man to "go back where (he) came from" and that he stinks.  She told the Chinese coffee shop he also "should go back" where he came from.  When my husband confronted her, she called him a "nazi" and to mind his own business.  The coffee shop owner and my husband both called security, so as she was leaving and throwing out more racist vomit, my husband followed her until security caught up with her.  Oh, and by the way, this ain't her first visit into the land of being a disgusting racist and menace to society.  She's even on youtube for it.

Wondering..... what is wrong with people??

Moving..... to a happier topic:  How is it that I've never heard about Dolly Parton's Imagination Library?  An organization supported by one of my favorite people (DOLLY!) giving books to children?!?  What's not to love?  Jana mentions it (or has a link to it) in this post.  Oh, and by the way, if you haven't read Jana's post, you should.  The initiative "delivers a quality, age-appropriate book once a month direct to children at home from birth to 5 years old in targeted communities. Our vision is that all children start school ready to read and learn so that they can succeed in life."  There are programs in Canada, the UK, Australia, and the US.  Take all my money.

Promoting..... my book challenge: Book Challenge by Erin - you can check out our facebook group where most of the activity goes down or this page on my blog.  Categories are announced December 1st, as in tomorrow (if you're in my part of the world).  That's why this post is going live today.  What a great way to kick off 2017 - reading books!  Won't you join us?

Reading.....  Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein...just started it last night.  I'm pretty sure I'll like it based on those that have recommended it to me.

Listening..... to my personal mix of Bon Jovi, Goo Goo Dolls, and Butch Walker.  I dumped all other songs from my ipod shuffle at the moment and have just been listening to these faves for the last week while I'm commuting. 

Learning..... where bears live in North America.  Why?  Because Steph mentioned seeing bear poop, and I know Steph lives in Pennsylvania, and I had no idea bears lived there.  Then, I found this map and learned there are even bears in Florida?  And Louisiana?  Am I the only one that didn't know these things?  Yep, I'm feeling pretty dumb right about now.  See how educational blogging can be?

Linking..... with Kristen and Gretchen:
What's New With You

Linking..... with  Kristin:

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday's Seven Snapshots vol.100

This happens often...I start out the day with cute shoes, but I end up in flip flops soon enough. 

Friday beer day to watch football and celebrate Thanksgiving...

...which turned into 11 hours of drinking and this picture I don't remember taking. I'm too old for that nonsense. Ha!

Saturday night included dinner at my fave - I was so preoccupied with the good food that I took no pictures except this one when I was leaving. 

After chasing Ricky out of the tree...

...and chasing him away from the ornaments...

...I got our tree up!

Hope you had a fab holiday weekend!  Are you getting ready for Christmas?

Thursday, November 24, 2016


I realize that I'm often a lame blogger as I have admitted in my "Confessions of a lame blogger" post.  In all my lameness, I realized I had no Thanksgiving post ready today.  So, here's a list of things I'm thankful for today...as I sit here...and try to type this post in between customer interruptions and job responsibilities.

I'm thankful for the Thai massage last night.  I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoy a masseuse digging into my back, shoulders, and neck with their elbows, knees, fingers, and toes.  Yes, I said toes.  I love it.  And, the stretching at the end is sheer bliss. 

I'm thankful for technology.  Sometimes, social media drives us all insane.  But, I'm thankful for all the ways to keep connected to friends and family.  This week - I used viber to text my mom in Texas and one of my bestest gal pals in Italy; I used skype to chat with my dad and stepmom; I received a picture of my nephew at his first varsity basketball game via email; I shared that pic with a couple of close friends via facebook messenger; and I look at all the Instagram pics of yummy Thanksgiving food and families.

I'm thankful for Ellen DeGeneres.  What Barack Obama had to say when Ellen received her Presidential Medal of Freedom had me in tears.  I was thinking of an aunt who came out to her parents (my grandparents) in the '70s.  There was no one like Ellen in the public eye.  Her positivity is infectious.  A friend of mine shared this on facebook:  Ellen shows "how normal we are. She didn't hide her sexuality or her life, she just talked about Life. and for years she sat on Daytime television just being herself. Being Funny, talking about the trials and tribulations of marriage. She got political, but never preachy. She epitomizes so much in how we can change hearts and minds not through yelling or anger, but through kindness and humor."

I'm thankful for this guy who has been dubbed the "Aussiest.  Interview.  Ever."  Seriously, if you like to watch video clips for a laugh, please watch this one.  Plus, he shares sound advice: "If you do good for your mates, they do good for you."  Or something like that.  I was crying with laughter, and I love the feeling of finding something so joyful and funny that you're crying and laughing at the same time.

I'm thankful for public libraries - free entertainment!  I'm thankful for book challenges (of course, the participants in my own Book Challenge by Erin hold a special place in my heart).  I'm thankful for Jana and  Steph hosting the "Show Us Your Books" link-up and all the book-lovin' bloggers that I get to book chat with each month.  I feel like the last few years, my love of reading has been rejuvenated, and the library, book challenges, and the link-up have all been full for that fire.

I'm thankful for my fur babies.  The unconditional love that they show with cuddles from the kitties and slobbery kisses from the doggies. 

I'm thankful for gift-giving.  Look, I ain't gonna lie, I enjoy receiving gifts too, but I really, really do like giving gifts.  I like shopping for them.  I like wrapping them.  I like giving them.  And, this time of year over any others, I get to give lots of gifts.

I'm thankful for these guys that I talked about in a 2014 Thanksgiving post.  I'm thankful to feel so much love from a family that it causes me to miss them so much, especially during holidays like this.

I'm thankful for my Australian family.  I feel loved.  I feel valued.  I feel challenged.  I feel appreciated.  I feel like I'm in an equal partnership with my husband.  Those are all feelings that I'm thankful for. 

And, thank you for spending some time with me in this little corner of my world.  I appreciate the interactions, the laughs, the lessons, and the stories that we share in the wacky world of blogland. 

Happy Thanksgiving!