A Thanksgiving Message from “Mama Bear”

Dear sweet readers…. I want to start by thanking you for your readership and friendship over the years.  What started as a quest to hopefully become a widely-read, popular blog has yielded… well, quite frankly, almost no results to speak of in terms of internet traffic.  But, there’s a few of you out there who still read my posts and for you I am very thankful on this Thanksgiving day!

I write to you from a beachfront hotel.  It is a holiday when most people are with all their family, but I just can’t do that anymore.  My mother’s Alzheimer’s has progressed so much I don’t think she knows who I am anymore, much less whether it’s a holiday or not.  The rest of my family?  I love ’em, but for one family member in particular holidays bring out the absolute worst in behavior and attitudes.  I learned my lesson about that six years ago.  As I saw the look on my then-teenager’s face as he got to behold all the drama and emotional fuckery unfold at the hands of one person, I went into Mama Bear mode.  I swore then he would never have that look on his face again–at least not for that reason.  He is now about to graduate from college, and even though I can’t protect him from ever being hurt or miserable again, I can certainly protect him (and me) from dreading the holidays thanks to “family obligation.”

Ever since, our holidays have consisted either of traveling somewhere (usually a beach), or, having friends of our choosing come to visit and cook with us.  This year is the beach, as I mentioned.

Of course it had to begin with a stomach virus for me, but I think the worst of that is over.  I am good, really GREAT!  I’m quite peaceful and content, in spite of feeling a bit weak from the stomach crud.  It’s early morning and I can hear my son and Handyman both snoring and all is right with my world.  Bonus points for the fact that I won’t have to tolerate even a bite of turkey today, as we are having mexican food for lunch and italian food for dinner!  My little family of three people is juuuuuust right.

As promised, I did not host my holiday party this year.  I do not miss doing it, and, not one person at work said, “Awwww…. please do it again.”  So either they all hated the parties, or they were just tired of attending and either way, I’m good.  More time for my family, job, and hobbies.

Handyman is still here!  We will celebrate one year together on December 31.  His ex-girlfriend wrote his mother and told her we were having an affair long before we actually became involved.  They had completely broken up before we started dating.  She’ll never believe that, but I guess I can live with that.  I guess there’s nothing like a woman scorned to create historical fiction.

While I was nursing my virus today, I had a chance to go back and review some of my old posts about food.  I think it’s time I get back to that, since I have no more unpleasant romantic adventures to share with you!

We have much to celebrate in the coming weeks.  Have a wonderful, bountiful Thanksgiving!  A great Hanukkah!  A fantastic Kwanzaa!  A very happy Christmas!  A spirited winter solstice!  May you find all the happiness you can possibly stand during this holiday season!

 

Giraffe: A Challenge Entry

I’m once again entering the monthly challenge at More Mixed Media.  This month’s theme is “anything goes + bright colors.”  I knew right away which piece I wanted to enter:  my giraffe.

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Giraffe is built on a 3/4″ thick canvas.  He started out as a pretty simple construct, and as I started applying layers of colored acrylic paint to build him up, I realized that some animal print papers and other mixed media goodies would help make him pop.  Below are pictures showing the progression of his creation.

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A Vintage Corset Dress

I don’t always work in two dimensions–sometimes I use three!  This is a mixed-media piece I did using chipboard cut-outs from Creative Embellishments and lovely little feathers from Paper Mart.  I textured the background with modeling paste and stencils, and sprayed it with about a dozen layers of spray colors from Shimmerz.

It is for sale in my Etsy shop.  Just click here to view the listing.  I’m also entering it in this month’s mixed media challenge over at More Mixed Media.

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Purple Girl

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This is “Purple Girl.”  She is a mixed media art piece I made on  12×12″ canvas.  She started with layers of various papers and ephemera and textures, and then was built up from there with layers and layers of acrylic paint.  Purple is my favorite color!  I gifted her to my dear friend Tracy, who admired Purple Girl and I’m proud that she has her hanging in her beach house.

I’m entering her in this month’s challenge over at More Mixed Media.   Their theme this month is Anything Goes with purple as an optional color, and she’s pretty danged purple!

 

Follow-up:

I’m proud to have been selected as a “top five” entry in the challenge!

Top5

A Mixed Media Challenge: “Pink”

I am taking the summer off, and so far I’m enjoying the hell out of it.  I have never had a real summer off like this, so I’m spending a lot of time doing exactly what I want to do.  We’ve done some home improvement projects, and, I’ve done a lot of painting and mixed media art.

This is a mixed media piece I created to enter a challenge.   It started out as just  decorated canvas but the more I worked with it the more screwed up it got until I had ot just fall back and start over altogether.  As the challenge was to use the color pink, I opted for spray painting the canvas in many shades of such a lovely color.  Then I added some mixed media embellishments that were also painted, along with a silk flower or two, and some handmade clay flowers and butterflies.  It’s not my best work but it was fun to make and I’m sure I’ll find something to do with it.

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Something Fun: A Tie Dye Party

Today I thought I would give you an idea for something really fun to do on a sunny day:   host a tie dye party.  It’s not very expensive, and it’s a lot of fun.

Step 1:  Grab a coupon for your local craft store, then go buy a tie-dye kit.  All three of the major craft chains (Michael’s, AC Moore and Hobby Lobby) usually put out a coupon once a week for 40% off or 50% off one item.  Grab one online or from your local sale flyer and then head to the store.  Buy the Tulip brand tie dye party kit.  It looks like this:

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The packaging may vary, but look for the kit that makes 36 projects.  Realistically, it will make more like 15-18 projects using the colors you really WANT.  Just know that going in.  It typically retails (in North Carolina) for $29.99, so with the coupon, you’re looking at it costing about $1 per project.

Step 2:  Find some stuff to tie-dye.  I order men’s white v-neck t-shirts from Hanes.com, but you can also watch for those at your local discount store.  And, sometimes the craft chains put Gildan brand t-shirts on sale for as little as $1.99 apiece.  But, don’t limit yourself to t-shirts!  You can do tote bags, socks, scarves, and even underwear.

My son really likes to tie-dye boxer briefs.  He once made a pair using the brown dye in the Tulip kit.  It was kind of disgusting but funny.  (Use your imagination).  This is also a good way to repurpose white shirts that have a stain on them, or that have turned yellowish.

Tell guests to bring their own garments.  That way you aren’t trying to buy shirts for everyone, and, they can be sure to have the right size and style of whatever it is they want to tie-dye.  Be specific about how many garments you want them to bring.  Whether it’s one, two or three, or more, make sure you have figured on having enough dye and supplies  for the quantity people will bring.

Pre-wash all the items, and do not dry them with fabric softener, which can impede the dye’s absorption.  I recommend also drying them once, to shrink them.  Then, wet them again (a rinse cycle in the washer is great). It’s easiest to fold and shape the tie-dye design with a damp garment, which is why you need to rinse them one more time.

(Be sure to tell your guests to do this pre-washing step before arriving, and to bring their shirts damp, if possible.)

Step 3:  Set up a tie-dye station outdoors.  You really need tables for this, if at all possible.  Cover the tables with plastic (the kit comes with a plastic table cover, but you may need more).  Don’t use newspaper!  The dye will soak through it and stain your table.  Just a few minutes before the party, add cold water to the dye bottles and mix them up.  Do NOT pre-mix the dye earlier!  It has to be mixed fresh and used within an hour or two.

The kit contains gloves and rubber bands for tie dying, but you’ll probably need extra gloves and you’ll definitely need extra rubber bands.  It takes a lot of rubber bands to create most of the styles that people want to make when they tie-dye.  So, have extras of those.  Good thick strong big rubber bands are ideal, but whatever you have will work.

Finally, you’ll need to have a supply of plastic bags.  The shirts have to be wrapped in plastic and left to process for at least 6 to 8 hours–24 hours is better.  I recommend a package of gallon-sized Ziploc bags for shirts and larger projects, and a package of quart-sized bags for smaller items.  (They are a little pricey but they are the easiest to use and they ensure that dye doesn’t leak out of the bag).

When you invite guests, you can go ahead and tell them to bring one Ziploc bag per garment.  If they are going to bring their garments damp, the bag is a perfect container for transporting the damp items.

So…. you’ve got a plastic-covered table, dye, gloves, rubber bands, and plastic bags.  Now what?

Step 4:   Start the party and fold the garments.  The dye kit comes with some instructions on basic tie-dye folding and design.  You can also find some great design suggestions and ideas online here (just click here to go to the Tulip website).  Pinterest also has lots of other suggestions that you can search for.  Print out the design ideas for your guests so they have something to look at and refer to when folding and shaping their garment.

This is the fun part, where the table comes in handy.  You have to fold and work the garments, and rubber band as needed.  Once the garment is folded and banded, you put on gloves, apply the dye, and place the garment in a bag.  Rainbow Spider DIY:

My advice for a smooth and successful party is to have everyone fold and shape their garments first, THEN apply the dye.  This way someone who is folding and working on a shirt doesn’t bump into an open bottle of dye that someone else is using.

Step 5:  You’ll rinse the shirts out after several hours.  The package says 8 hours, but I recommend 24 hours.  The dye can process for that long without harming the garment.

You should probably print out these instructions for your guests to take home with them…

  1.  Remove garment from the bag and in a stain-proof sink (such as stainless steel, or a laundry sink), rinse the garment thoroughly until the water runs clear.
  2. Remove the rubber bands, unfold, and wash in the washing machine by itself, with no other garments.  Remember there’s still soluble dye in this item that can stain other things it touches, so it’s important to wash it alone.
  3. Dry thoroughly.
  4. For the first 2 times you wash it, you’ll want to wash it alone, or with other tie-dye garments, just to be safe.  After that, it’s fine to wash with other colored clothing.  I’ve never had the dye rub off on other clothes after that point.

There!  That’s it.  Provide a snack or two and some cocktails and you’ve got a really fun afternoon, with a take-away that guests can keep and enjoy for a long time.

More Mermaid Mixed Media

I’ve got another mixed media piece I wanted to share.  Yeah, it’s a mermaid deal.  Yeah, I promise I’ll be working on something besides mermaids soon enough.  Meanwhile, this is my latest endeavor.2016-02-12 10.42.28

It’s made on a 6×6″ canvas that’s gallery wrapped and 1.5″ thick.  Loaded down the first layer with modeling paste for texture, then sprayed tons of Shimmerz paints on to create a multi-colored background of aquas and blues.  On top of that I applied some acrylic medium and sprinkled on iridescent flakes and shiny little beads.

The mermaid and gears look like metal with a rich patina, but that’s just Pebeo iridescent paints in Blue Black and copper, applied to die cut chipboard pieces (“chippies”) from Creative Embellishments.  I topped everything off with a few metal watch parts and pieces.

This is one of my March entries in their challenge contest over at Creative Embellishments.  The  inspiration for this month’s challenge is this picture:

sweet_wallpaper_wonderful_2033_background_editionAnd the “twist” is “why I’m lucky.”

I’m inspired by the ethereal look of the sky in this picture, and I try to apply that to all my mixed media works.  And, I’m lucky because I live only 90 minutes from the ocean and I love all things nautical and aquatic (could you tell?)  I never thought I’d get this close to the beach!  It sure is nice, and I’m a very lucky, fortunate girl.

Here are a few other views of the piece:

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Electric Crab (Killin’ Time, Part 5)

Ever since I started taking Saxenda I rarely feel like eating.   The stuff does a great job of killing my appetite and thus I don’t cook so much anymore.  I’m not sure how much weight I’ve lost but it’s pretty significant!  I haven’t gotten a Hello Fresh box in months!  Hard to want to pay for one when nothing really tastes good.   So, with all this spare time I have from not cooking, I continue to paint.

My friend who owns three beach houses she uses for rental properties has asked me to paint some things for her houses.  I’m really honored by that prospect and I’m excited that someone thinks my work is good enough to display.  I’m going to be able to put a little placard below each painting with my contact information on it so maybe I’ll sell a few pieces along the way?  I don’t really want to make much money off these–just enough to buy more canvases and paint.

One of the first pieces I have made for her is one I call “Electric Crab.”  Here he is…

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I got the inspiration for him when my friend showed me several paintings that she liked, and one of them was a big blue crab.  It was lovely, and something far beyond my skill level to paint.  I went online and found several colorful crab paintings for  inspiration and then just started sketching.

She asked me how do you start a painting?  How many layers of paint go on?  How do you know when  you’re finished?  In this case what I did first was paint in a nice background of pearlescent white paint with faint color splotches blended in for an interesting “sandy” background.  You cannot see in these pictures how shiny the background is, but it is my interpretation of wet sand.

Once that dried, I had to put pencil to canvas and sketch an outline.  At first I painted him with two claws, four legs and two backfins.  I later went and looked at pictures of crabs again and realized they have six legs, so I had to add in two more legs.  I started out applying layers of yellow paint, trying to mimic a neat watercolor painting I saw online, but eventually I just had to wing it on my own and start applying color in my own way, rather than emulating that artist’s work.

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At some point I put a blue outline on the crab and thought, “he should look electric” and then the name “Electric Crab” came to my mind and stuck.

This is a big canvas–30″ x 48″–and I had never painted anything so large before.  I enjoyed working on this scale because details are very easy to apply.

My friend likes this, but I confess I am still not happy with him.  However, there is a point you just have to stop, or else you’ll muddy up what you’ve done already and make a mess.

The local art gallery is having a show next month and I can enter 3 paintings for $15.  I’m going to enter Electric Crab plus two of my mermaids just to see what happens.  Since we are only 90 minutes from the beach there’s a pretty big demand here for coastal art, so maybe someone will like what I’ve done?

Killin’ Time (Part 4)

It was only in the last year or so that I really got into mermaids.  I have always loved the ocean, and for years I collected dolphin figurines and sculptures.  That was my passion for the longest time, until I realized I had collected just about every dolphin trinket made in China and my curio cabinet was smack full of dust catchers.

In the last few years I have become great friends with a gal named Lindsey.  We met through the jewelry business I used to own, and we have remained friends since.  We both love the beach and water so much that we call each other “Salty Sis(ter).”  She loves mermaids and I kind of picked up on that, I suppose.

Anyway, here is a painting I just did of another mermaid.

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A friend requested a mermaid painting for one of the bedrooms in one of her beach houses.  I drew this one freehand and it’s an original design.   Her earrings are three-dimensional pearls, and the scales on her tail are painted with several colors of iridescent paint for a shimmery effect.

Killin’ Time (Part 3)

Well, since dating hasn’t been something to spend time on, and since my promotion at work went through (Yay, me!), I have been relaxing in my ample spare time with some paintings and art.  Here is another piece that I did in my first ever mixed media art class.

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I have tried and tried to get this picture to rotate one turn to the left so you can see it as its meant to be seen. I cant seem to get it done!!!!

I decided to sign up for an art class at Emerge Gallery in Greenville, NC.  My teacher, Gail, was just amazing.  She let us work on individual projects that interested us.  Our first real exercise in painting was to find a painting or picture we liked and “copy” it.  I found something on the internet like this, and set out to make a painting of it.  Mine looks very little like the original, but I did have fun painting her!  It’s all acrylic paint, with real starfish in the corners for a 3-d accent.

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I’m signing up for the class again next week!  Looking forward to making more art with Gail!

Killin’ Time: My Mermaid Obsession (Part 2)

Here is another piece of deep sea art using chipboard products from Creative Embellishments.  I am entering this piece into the Creative Embellishments February challenge, which was to get inspiration from this photo:
il_fullxfull-344959819I am inspired by the fact that I LOVE mermaids.  The “twist” for the challenge is “white space.”  Under the sea, there is no white space!  But, I did manage to incorporate some white in there with the seashells.

Here’s my second entry for the challenge:

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This is my original creation using Creative Embellishments’ Mermaids, Seahorses, Seashells, Seagrass, and Seaweeds.  This is created on a 12×12″ canvas that was first textured with modeling paste and then a layer of cheesecloth was added to the lower half.

The background is colored with inks from Shimmerz (Heidi Ho Blue, and Jeni B Bleu) and highlighted with Pebeo High Viscosity Studio Acrylics in Iridescent Blue Green and Green Blue.

The chipboard nets in the corners were sprayed with Shimmerz ink (Don’t Be Suede), then highlighted with  Pebeo High Viscosity Studio Acrylics in Iridescent Copper.  The other chipboard pieces were primed with a layer of white gesso, then painted with various colors of Pebeo High Viscosity Studio Acrylics (iridescent colors)

The chipboard seashells were painted antique white, then spritzed with Don’t Be Suede, then dry brushed again with antique white.

Finally, little pearls, rhinestones, dried starfish and real seashells were glued on with acrylic gel medium.

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Killin’ Time: My Mermaid Obsession (Part 1)

I thought today I would show you one of the ways I’ve been killin’ time.  I’ve been making some mermaid and deep sea art using chipboard products from Creative Embellishments.  I am entering this piece into the Creative Embellishments February challenge.

The challenge was to get inspiration from this photo:
il_fullxfull-344959819I am inspired by the fact that I LOVE mermaids, and, by the steampunk vibe of this photograph.  The “twist” for the challenge is “white space.”  Under the sea, there is no white space!  Here’s my entry for the challenge:

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This is my original creation using Creative Embellishments’ Steampunk Mermaid and several of their chipboard gears in assorted sizes.  This is created on a 6×6″ canvas that was first textured with modeling paste and then a layer of cheesecloth was added to the lower half.

The background is colored with inks from Shimmerz (Heidi Ho Blue, Oh Say Can You Sea, Jeni B Bleu) and then heavily highlighted around the edges with Clearsnap Fluid Chalk ink in Chestnut Roan.

The chipboard gears and mermaid have a textured layer of gesso as a basecoat, then they were painted black, and then layers of Pebeo High Viscosity Studio Acrylics in Iridescent Blue Black, Iridescent Copper, and Iridescent Green Blue were applied.

Finally, I have a big stash of old watch parts and I applied a few of those as accents in and around the gears.

Check out the Creative Embellishments Blog by clicking here.

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Politics, Sex and Religion

sex-religion-politicsI don’t think I’ve ever truly tackled any of the three deadly subjects–politics, sex, and religion–on BWAV.  But, I’m in a mood.  So, here goes, in reverse order.

Religion

I grew up going to the Winterville, Georgia, United Methodist Church.  I never fit in there, I never understood why we went, and I had lots of conflict about the fact that my mother was afraid if she drank a beer on Sunday afternoon someone might smell it if we went to Sunday evening services.  I also didn’t understand why my father’s photograph was in the church membership directory with the rest of us, but, he never ever ever went, not even for my baptism or confirmation.

And then there was the time in the late 70’s/early 80’s that the preacher invited some black folks from another church to attend, and a bunch of people boycotted the service and wouldn’t show up.  What kind of message was that?

I didn’t like church then, and I don’t like it now.  I respect faith, and I have deep respect for people who try to live with love and compassion in their heart–but I think organized religion generally does more harm than good.

I will never forget the scene in “Trading Places” when they were on the New Year’s train, and Denholm Elliot was dressed as an Irish priest.  He said, and I quote, “Religion is a fine thing…in moderation.”   And that pretty much sums it up.

Sex

Yes.  Often.  It’s good…best I can recall.

Politics

The older I get, the more I realize that the political system in this country responds to the one thing I don’t have–money.  And quite frankly, I’m sick of that shit.

It’s supposed to be one vote for one person, and I guess that’s still true in terms of the details, if not in reality.  I’m  tired of a system that allows big corporations and uber-wealthy people to buy the support of politicians that I cast my one little vote for.  I have watched, in my lifetime, people in government go from having rational and reasonable political views to being beholden to special interest groups with money.  This isn’t some allegation someone made about them in a campaign speech–I’ve watched it happen.  I’d name names but that’s not the point of this entry into my little diary.

The point is that I think politics should be back in the hands of little people like myself, and you, and every other average person who is slugging their way through life to get by in this world.  Yet when we can’t get half of our population to vote in a presidential election, what does that tell you about how people view their role in the political process?

So, I’m just asking you to do one thing. Just one.  And that is to vote.  People in other countries have died for that right.  It’s your’s now.  Use it wisely.

If you don’t know how to vote, e-mail me and I’ll tell you.

Alright that was a joke.  I won’t tell you how to vote, although sometimes I might want to.  Notice I haven’t said a word in this post about any candidate?  And I won’t.  If you know me personally and you want to ask me why I support certain candidates, feel free to ask.  I’ll share.

I also have one suggestion–start contributing to the candidates you believe in.  Even just $5 or $10 helps.  The people you support need to see that us “little people” matter.  No, we are not going to get invited to a black tie gala by sending in $25.  But, we will be affecting the political process one buck at a time.  And I think that’s important.

Finally, I’d like to suggest that if politics is getting on your nerves, or if religion is holding you back in terms of happiness, that you focus on sex.  I find it’s always the most pleasant of the three options.  And hopefully you’re having some, because I can assure you that I am not.   hahaha

A Crafter’s Delight: Webstaurant Store

If you’re a crafter or hobbyist, and you’re like me, you’re always looking for new places to find supplies.  Let’s face it, even with their weekly 40% off coupons, it’s not particularly affordable to stock up on many basic supplies at national craft retail chains.  So today, I’m going to show you a few of the craft finds from Webstaurant Store, an online restaurant supply house that I wrote about previously.

Souffle Cups

These are the little paper cups they once used to dispense medication in hospitals and nursing homes.  They are still used in restaurants to dispense single serve portions of ketchup, tartar sauce, etc.

Capture1These are great for disposable paint and glue cups.  I use them for small dabs of gesso when I’m working on a small project.  I’m also quite sure you could create some interesting textures with them if you unfold all the pleats in them, flatten them out, and use on your gelli plate.  And, I also think you could cut them up and make cute little doll skirts out of them for a card or scrapbook page!

I bought both the one ounce and two ounce sizes for various applications.  You get 250 in a package that costs less than $5 (the one ounce size was only $3.19 for a package of 250).

Click here to see the souffle cups available.

Gloves

web2Fellow crafters, we do love our messy substances, don’t we?  We often need gloves.  I found this great package of rubber gloves that are durable and reusable at Webstaurant Store.  You get a package of 12 pairs for $3.99!

Click here to see the gloves.

Deli Paper

Deli paper is seriously good stuff for making art prints.  It is especially great for making prints with your gelli plate.  (If you don’t know what a gelli plate is, let me just say “Yes, you need one”….go to the Gelli Arts website so you can see why.)

Deli paper is made of dry waxed paper, and it’s great for covering your work surface, wiping things, and you can create textures in paint with a wadded up piece of deli paper.  It also can make very interesting gift wrap for small objects.  I’m not sure what else you can do with it, but it comes in several sizes and it is super cheap.  I got a box of 10″ square paper (500 sheets, which will last a long time) for $3.89.

Click here to see Webstaurant’s selection of folded (pop-up) deli papers.

They also have “sandwich wrap” paper, which comes flat, instead of folded like deli paper.  I didn’t know that was available until after I ordered the folded papers.  They have several designs and colors, and some of those would be suitable for collage artwork.  Most of those are just a few bucks for a box containing several hundred sheets.  If you’re getting it for craft purposes, make sure you buy “dry waxed” paper, and not “wet waxed.”  The wet waxed has a glossy finish that won’t accept paint very well, I suspect.

Check out all those options by clicking here.  

Knives

CaptureI found this serrated knife that I just love for cutting up bars of soap to make my own laundry detergent.  I also think it would be quite handy for cutting up styrofoam and floral foam, too.

Webstaurant Store has tons of knives that I’m sure you would find a multitude of uses for.  The best part about their knives is how affordable they are.  They are intended for commercial use so they’re nice and sharp, but, they don’t break the bank!  This serrated knife was under $8!

Click here to see the vast selection of knives they offer.

Picks/Skewers

There are tons of things you might need bamboo skewers for in your craft room.  They can be used to form clay beads, stir paints, create lines and textures in paint surfaces, and I’ve even seen books bound with bamboo skewers.  Webstaurant Store has several lengths, from 4″ on up, and you can buy them in small packages or large.  I paid about a buck for packages of 100 skewers (I bought two sizes, 4″ and 8″, for various uses).

Click here to see their selection of picks and skewers.

Butcher Paper

web5Butcher paper can be used for lots of things, including printing, drawing, covering your work surface, and wrapping gifts.  It comes in brown and white, and, in several widths.  You will always find a use for this type of paper!   Rolls that are 18″ wide, which is a pretty good width, are about $10-$13 each.

You’ll probably also want to get a dispenser for the roll, which is a bigger investment, but it will last you pretty much forever.

Click here to see the selection of butcher papers.

Click here to see paper roll dispensers.

Masking Tape

Masking tape is always a craft room staple.  And, Webstaurant Store carries it, too!

Click here for super inexpensive masking tape and dispensers.

Chinese Take-Out Boxes

Don’t you love the idea of wrapping gifts in those cute little Chinese food take-out web6boxes?  I do, too, but I don’t like paying the price for them at expensive gift wrap stores.  If you do a lot of gift-giving, you can buy a case of those boxes in plain white or kraft color and decorate them yourself!  They come out to be pennies each if you buy a pack of 50 or a case of 500!

Click here to check out the Chinese take-out containers.

Portion Cups with Lids

Ever need to mix up a special color of paint, or, make a mixture of paint and acrylic web7medium?  And, you might want a lid to cover it so you can use it later?  Then plastic portion cups with lids are just the thing for your craft table.  They come in round and oval shapes, and in smaller packages or in cases.  I always keep a couple of sizes of these in my art stash.

Click here to see the various portion cups and lids.

If you need larger containers with lids, go look at the deli containers.  They have 16web8 ounce sizes and larger that you can store paint and liquids in.

Click here to see the 16 ounce deli containers.

Disposable Steam Pans

577967I love these pans for so many things around my kitchen, and they have naturally migrated to my craft room.  The full-size pans are great for making larger sheets of marbled papers and shaving cream paper.  The smaller pans are great for soaking stencils in water to keep paint from drying on them.

Click here to see the various pan liners.

There you have it–that’s everything I spotted at Webstaurant Store that I think would be useful in a craft room.  I’m sure there are items I overlooked, so please comment and share any other items you find!

Moving Forward…

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Hello, 2016!  It’s like there’s this clean, fresh, crisp new opportunity and I’m gonna’ seize it for all it’s worth!  I hope you do, too–grab it by the cajones and make 2016 the year of YOU, baby!

I did want to take a minute to pause and reflect on how the blog has gone the last few months.  The stats are pretty cool…

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As you can see, since I started keeping track of things, the number of views I’ve had has steadily headed in a positive direction!  Yay!  And, the number of hits this site gets on average, per day, is also going up steadily, which is another good sign.  Maybe 2016 will be the year I become famous (in blogger world, anyway?)  Meh… fame isn’t important.  I just enjoy writing and I have enjoyed getting to know my readers.  Thank you again for following BWAV.

Now, looking forward…I have a couple of things I plan on doing for 2016 that I will share. The first is finish losing some weight.  The start to the program, using Saxenda, has been very encouraging.  Jeans are getting looser and the last time I weighed, almost a month ago, I had already lost 10 pounds in just 5 weeks!  Based on how my clothes are fitting and how I feel in general, I suspect by now another 6-8 pounds are gone, but I will find out when I see the doctor later this month. (Yes, I have a scale at home, but I don’t use it because I get obsessed with it if I weigh every day and I don’t want to start that nonsense).  My goal weight is 150.  If I got to that I’d be so happy!  Keep your fingers crossed for me, please.

Another thing I’m going to do is start a YouTube video series.  I was talking to my son about this a few months ago, and mentioned that one of my friends had started doing one and she was up to 10,000 subscribers and receiving a monthly check from YouTube.  She’s a very talented crafter, and honestly so am I!  I spend a lot of time making things and I think I have a pretty good sense of humor, so I thought maybe I could combine the two into an entertaining, adult-oriented (this ain’t gonna’ be crafting time at Sesame Street!) video series?  You know, have some cocktails, tell a good joke now and then, etc?

We thought about names for it and my son came up with the perfect name, which I will reveal later.  I’ve bought the URL and I’ve got my graphic artist guru working on a clever logo for it.  I just ordered a camera stand so I can film myself making projects in my art room.  Should be pretty fun once I get everything organized and rolling.  Plus, the added bonus–it is sparking my creativity and getting me back into doing the art that I used to love working on so much.  Stay tuned!

 

Orlando for Christmas: My Review

As I mentioned a couple of months back, we decided to spend Christmas in Orlando.  It mickey-mouse-iconwas a place to go, we got a great deal on the hotel if I agreed to go to a Hilton Vacation Club time share presentation, and, well, like I said, it was a place to go!  Here is my review of Orlando for Christmas.

First and foremost, it was GREAT family time.  I got some time with my son and his girlfriend, and that was what counted the most.  To that end, it was a wonderful trip.  We had lots of nice meals together, and enjoyed time just relaxing in the hotel room together, too.  Good conversations were had in the car while traveling.

On the way to Florida we stopped off to see my parents and that was also good.  Mom’s dementia is getting progressively worse so I spend every moment I can with her, and I treasure our time together.  Had lunch with a friend from middle school even, and that was also a wonderful experience.

Now, the family time was the best, most important part of the trip.  But I’ll confess that I was underwhelmed with Orlando.  Let me start by saying I’m deathly afraid to even look at my bank balance.  Holy crap that place was expensive!  If  you are planning a trip to Orlando, here’s what you do to budget.  First, figure up what you can afford to spend.  Triple that amount.  Then add $250.  You’ll still come up short.  (Hahah?  I’m not joking!)

Day 1, December 23:   We arrived at the hotel.  Valet parking was $25 a day (self-parking was $18!).  Internet service was $20 a day.  So much for the “great deal” on the hotel room!

That evening we had reservations at the Orlando Melting Pot.  It was delicious!  A really fun experience cooking fondue at the table. I would love to eat there again and try some different combinations of food.  The kids really enjoyed it and got to try some things like duck that they had never had before.

Day 2, Christmas Eve:  I sent the kids to Magic Kingdom while I did the time share presentation.  They really enjoyed the park, although it was super crowded.  They closed the park because it was at capacity!

The time share presentation was P-A-I-N-F-U-L.  My gosh that guy tried hard to establish a rapport with me but I just didn’t feel it and I really didn’t like him.  He was too busy telling me stories about his family and his parents’ “old fashioned” time share and he kept reassuring me this was not going to be high pressure.  So much that I was starting to feel pressure.  I walked away without buying anything, as I knew I would.  With a child in college and a deadbeat ex-husband who won’t contribute to the cost, there’s no way I was going in debt for a time share!

That night we met in Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) and had a nice dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s Cafe, which was absolutely amazing.  And, amazingly expensive.  I ordered the scallops and there were two on the plate.  Two.  The service was outstanding and we do love ourselves some of that there fine dining.  So, it was money well-spent I suppose.

Day 3, Christmas Day:  We decided to go to Epcot.  So did everybody else. Especially people who didn’t believe in making their children mind.  I was also appalled at how adults acted in some of the exhibits.  Cutting in line, and, some of them justified it by looking at my son, who had waited patiently in line for an activity, and saying, “Come on, let my kid go first.”  It was obnoxious and I’m glad I wasn’t standing right there or I’d have said something that would reach “Showing My Ass” proportions.

The food in the World Showcase was really good, but again, very pricey.  We went to “France” and I had my first glass of “real” champagne.  It was $13.  We had a package of six French macarons–$10.  A small cheese plate–$10.  Lobster bisque–$8.  A ham and cheese sandwich–$10.  A croissant–$3.  It ended up being a $50+ “snack” (but it was really good).

We poorly planned the trip because we didn’t know any better.  The lines were long and there were no Fast Passes available for the rides. If we had bought tickets early we could have gotten a Fast Pass and avoided long lines.  Some of the best rides had 2 hour waits, and I don’t stand in line 2 hours for a 3 minute ride (unless the ride involves George Clooney’s lap).  Oh, and every one of the nice restaurants was booked solid, no reservations available.  I had no idea we needed to make dining reservations at an amusement park until it was too late.   I have since created a Disney travel planning Pinterest board in case we ever go again.  Click here to see it.

I think I mentioned there were a lot of unruly unsupervised children?  It was also 90 degrees and about 90% humidity.  My son caught people cutting in line and he got royally pissed.  We finally had enough of the place by around 4:00 p.m.  We went back to the hotel.

I suggested that we go to the nice steak house in the hotel for one last nice dinner, until I checked out the menu.   Entrees were $70-$85.  And it was the kind of place where everything was a la carte, so a salad would have been another $15-$25, a baked potato would have been $10-$15, etc.  We instead ordered room service (dinner for three, including a burger, a club sandwich, and a huge homemade cheese pizza, was $55–what a bargain!) and crashed.

Day 4:  December 26:   We met some people on a cruise eight years ago, and they live in Florida.  We arranged to meet them for brunch on our way out of town and that was a real treat!  Then, we got to fight traffic of unbelievable proportions. Apparently everybody else had the same idea we did–to get the hell outta’ Dodge!

So, here is my overall evaluation of the trip:

THUMBS DOWN TO:

  • Orlando’s ridiculous food and beverage prices.
  • Children with no self-control and no manners.
  • Parents who allow aforementioned children to go without proper discipline.
  • Time share presentations (seriously, did I agree to do this again???)
  • Disney on Christmas–it’s just too damned crowded!
  • Whatever I spent (which I still haven’t officially added up yet, but for three days in Orlando I know it was at least $1,500!)

THUMBS UP TO:

  • Good quality time with my son and his very sweet, charming girlfriend–this was the best!
  • Being away from home on Christmas and doing something different.
  • Seeing old friends.
  • Delicious food and drink.
  • Time with my Mommy.
  • Being home again!

Painting a Mermaid

Sometimes I enjoy making mixed media art. It’s a hobby of mine.  I’m not very good at it, but I enjoy it just the same.  I recently finished a painting of a mermaid that took me months to complete. I started out with good intentions, then got distracted with other things and finally got back to it over Christmas break.  Here’s a gallery of the various stages it went through:

 

Saxenda: An Update

I recently wrote about Saxenda, a new weight loss drug my doctor gave me.  I’m 47 years old, have thyroid issues, fat3and I’m insulin resistant with a family history of Type II diabetes.  The likelihood of me losing weight on my own has gone down over the years as a result of these conditions.

I weighed on October 30 at my annual check-up.  I was 186 pounds.  There, I said it.  Publicly.  I was over 200 pounds a few years ago after my thyroid went bonkers.  I took some of the weight off and kept it off, but I’ve held steady at between 180 and 186 for the last three years.  I never seem to be able to lose weight, even though I always feel like I’m watching what I eat and that I’m more often-than-not depriving myself of what I really want.

Well, I’m here to report that, so far, Saxenda is working like a charm.  I weighed this week, just about five weeks after I started taking it, and I’m down ten (10!!!!) pounds!  I can see it in my face and neck a little bit, and I can definitely tell it in how my jeans are fitting.  I’m so encouraged to finally have some success!

The downside–I just cannot eat much at all unless I lay off the Saxenda for a day or two beforehand.  Otherwise if I have more than a few bites I get horrible heartburn and acid reflux.  I sometimes end up having to throw up to feel human again.  That’s because Saxenda causes the stomach to empty slower than normal–a little food goes a LONG way.  So, I just have to make adjustments in the medication if I have a special outing or meal planned.  For instance, when we go to Orlando for Christmas we have reservations at Emeril’s restaurant.  I will definitely not take my Saxenda for two or three days beforehand!

fat2As I mentioned before, there were some digestive issues when I first started taking it.  It gave new meaning to the phrase from “The Bucket List” Jack Nicholson said–“Never trust a fart.”  I am pleased to report that those side effects went away after a couple of weeks.  Whew.

All-in-all I am pleased with how it’s working.  I’m still living off doctor’s samples and waiting on my insurance to approve the prescription.  That’s going to be the next hurdle.  The last time my doctor prescribed something for weight loss they denied it because I wasn’t fat enough.  I’m guessing that’s what’s going to happen this time, and I’ll have to fight with them about that.  Ya gotta’ love health insurance these days.  But that’s another rant for another day!

Holiday Spirit

xmasHoliday spirit for me has waned as I’ve gotten older.  I’m not sure why, although I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that my son outgrew the concept of Santa Claus years ago and that took a lot of the magic out of it for me.

I used to really enjoy planning his Santa surprises, hiding them, wrapping them in special paper, and then putting them out for him on Christmas Eve.  I always bought a bag of fake glitter snow and I would sprinkle it from the fireplace all the way to the tree and back to show him the “trail” that Santa left.  I’d eat the cookies and carrots and leave a few crumbs of them on the plate, with a thank you note from Santa and the reindeer.  It was such fun!

All that kind of magical stuff is gone I suppose, and won’t return until Ixmas1 have grandchildren.  I look forward to that someday, but no time soon since my son is only 18 and I don’t feel like being a “grandma” just yet.

I would try decorating, but since we are going to Orlando for the holiday, I don’t want to decorate.  That’ll just be work for me to come home to–taking down all the decorations!  Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So, without the joy of a small child in the house, and without the joy of decorating, I’m trying to find some holiday spirit this year.  I’ve been browsing my Christmas Pinterest board to look for inspiration.  Maybe it will help you find your’s?

Creative Christmas Gift Ideas

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One of many creative ways to present cash to a gift recipient this holiday season.

I love Pinterest!  I have lots of boards on there, and one of my favorites is my “Nifty Gifty” board. On that board I pin creative gift ideas all year long.  You can click here to go to the “Nifty Gifty” board.

I used to love shopping for Christmas, but as I’ve aged my Christmas list has gotten shorter and shorter and the amount of energy and thought I put into each gift has risen.   So here are some miscellaneous thoughts about interesting and creative gifts you can give this holiday season.

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A creative package of mini-bottles would be perfect for the drinker on your list!

I personally think that cash is a wonderful gift for any occasion.  I’ve never known anyone who didn’t appreciate it!  But, in my opinion just sticking it in an envelope or card is so boring and lacks imagination!  You’ll find lots of ideas for presenting cash gifts on my Pinterest board.

Another great gift idea is liquor, assuming your recipient is 21 or older, and consumes alcohol.  (It’s very bad form to give alcohol to someone who doesn’t drink, so make sure you know the recipient before buying booze for them!)   Most liquor stores carry the little mini-bottles of liquor and you can do some really creative presentations of those.  Not only is it a cute gift, but it’s an affordable one!  Present the little bottles in a nice reusable jar or box and that gives the recipient something to remember you by long after the booze has been consumed!

xmas2

There’s no limit to what you can put in a mason jar!

There are a million sites on the internet with ideas for “gifts in a jar.”  Mason jars are so popular and easy to find that it’s a no-brainer to use them as gift packaging.  They are reusable and up-cycleable, and easier on the environment than a gift bag or throw-away box.  Fill them with the aforementioned mini-bottles of liquor, or spa goodies, or homemade recipe mixes.  Heck, use them to present cash!

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Cardboard animal busts are fun to put together and decorate.

I love the cardboard animal busts for a handy gal or guy who likes an artistic project.  Throw in some markers or some paints and brushes and you’ve just given the gift of creative entertainment!

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Revenge knives–for the pissed off person on your gift list!

For the newly-divorced person in your life, a set of revenge knives couldn’t be more timely.  They are a bit pricey, but if you know someone who is feeling a little downtrodden or put upon, they might be just the thing to elicit a big smile.

Just don’t be afraid to think outside the box!  The world is full of bad gifts–fruitcakes that no one will ever eat, clothes that don’t fit (either in size or style), and excessive quantities of coffee mugs–so this year be creative and try to have some fun with your gift shopping (and wrapping)!

 

 

The Newest Weightloss Drug: Saxenda

download (1)I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life.  After I had my son 18+ years ago, I never lost all my baby fat.  And, after I turned 40, my thyroid went bonkers and I gained even more weight.  I am 5’6″ tall and got well over 200 pounds at my heaviest.

The weight just doesn’t come off anymore.  My doctor says I am insulin resistant–and that makes sense because diabetes runs in my family on my dad’s side.  She says that’s one reason I have trouble losing weight. The funny thing is as much as I write about food I don’t eat that much. I’m not much of a snacker–I don’t sit around eating chips and candy all day or anything like that.  Yet my ass remains at about 185 pounds and has been stuck there for years.

Part of me wishes I could just accept it and say “This is who I am,” but I can’t.  I look better at 140 or 150, and the older I get the more I’m worried about how my skin is losing its elasticity.  I would hate to lose the weight and have all my skin stay stretched out, and those days they are-a-coming.

I’m trying something new I wanted to tell you about.  It’s called Saxenda and it’s a daily injection I take.  I’ve been on it almost a month and I have to say I think it’s working saxendaaccording to how I feel and how my clothes are fitting.

Saxenda is also marketed under the brand name Victoza.  Victoza is for Type 2 Diabetes.  But, it also has the very pleasant side effect of weight loss.  As it was explained to me, it causes your stomach to empty much slower than normal, which keeps you from eating as much.  Your food intake goes down, and, that results in weight loss without you suffering or feeling deprived and hungry.

Okay, so here’s the bad news.  If you’re used to eating a certain portion size, you better adjust those expectations as soon as you start taking Saxenda.  Where a Quarter Pounder or Big Mac once did the trick, now you’re only going to be able to eat a small size hamburger.  If you don’t?  You’re going to hurl.  Quickly.  That’s because there’s just no room in your stomach for that much food.  So, I liken this medication to a pharmaceutically-induced gastric bypass.  Everyone I know whose had gastric bypass gets sick if they eat one or two bites too much, and that can happen here, especially when you are getting used to the medication.

The dose can be cranked up from .6 to 3.0, and you’re supposed to increase it slowly every week.  Start with .6 daily for a week, then in week 2 go to 1.2, 1.8 in week 3, etc.  I have worked my way up to 3.0 and it makes it very easy not to eat.  It also makes it very hard to keep food down if I consume a lot of liquids.  I was in New Orleans this week and did a little bar hopping on Bourbon Street. By the time I got to dinner I could only eat 2 or 3 bites of food since I’d drank several beverages.  That was a huge disappointment for me since we were dining at Emeril’s restaurant.  I wish I had laid off the medication for a few days before going to New Orleans just so I could enjoy the food there more.  But, alas, I did not. So, I spent a lot of time wishing I were hungry, and, a fair amount of time throwing up due consuming too many liquids.

It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I did not take my Saxenda shot today.  Nor will I take it tomorrow, just because I want to be able to enjoy the food that we’ll be eating.

There is one other unpleasant side effect I encountered that I better warn you about.  When you first start taking Saxenda, for goodness sakes, uh….. how do I put this?  I know…do NOT trust a fart.  I shall not share with you the details of what happens, just take my word for it and let’s leave it at that!

So what about taking a shot every day?  How is that?  Well it’s not too bad.  The needles are very tiny, and short.  They pierce the skin pretty  painlessly, although I will say there are some places on your body that are less sensitive than others.  I usually do my lower abdomen, below my naval, because I find that to be the least sensitive area.  I’ve tried arms, legs and various portions of my abdomen.  The lower abdomen seems to be the easiest and least sensitive zone, but  that could vary depending on how you’re made and how sensitive your skin is.

The studies done so far show that it does help take off and keep off weight better than diet and exercise alone.  I hope I get results out of this, but if I don’t maybe it’s just time to decide I can live with myself just the way I am?   I’ll keep you posted on how it works….

The Muppets, and Why You Should Watch

This is the first time I have reviewed a television show at BWAV, but I’ve fallen in love with this little gem and I hear it’s getting bad ratings.  So, I’m hoping if I tell you about it you’ll watch it too and maybe help save it from cancellation?

I’m talking about “The Muppets,” which, is a pleasantly surprising puppet version of “The Office.”  It has lots of adult humor, lots of innuendo and sufficiently over-the-top characters to entertain and engage even the most jaded person.  The premise is that there’s a late night entertainment show hosted by Miss Piggy.  Kermit the Frog is the producer of the show, and “The Muppets” is a mockumentary about how the show is made. It explores the characters’ personal lives, including the highly dysfunctional relationship between Miss Piggy and Kermit.

Fozzie the Bear is the comic who warms up Miss Piggy’s nightly audience with his brand of humor.  He’s still not funny, but that leaves plenty of room for the two old cranks, Statler and Waldorf, to heckle him.   And, Fozzie is dating a human in the series, which leaves room for lots of jokes about “mixed” relationships.

The band that plays on the show consists of several musicians, but Animal and Janice are the most notable.  Janice is adored and wooed by the ever-staid and completely 12208477_952158531516412_2530950674469431577_nawkward Sam Eagle, and of course she is so air headed that she doesn’t notice him.  Animal is….well, he’s still Animal.  The innuendo about the band being high is plentiful.

Beaker and Bunsen are still inseparable, and on Episode #4 (“Pig Out”) they show up to work wearing each other’s clothes after a night of partying.  When Kermit asks them why, Bunsen tells Beaker that if it happened outside of work they aren’t required to answer the question.  Classic.

Pepe the King Prawn is a Latin romance expert who is first of all hilarious looking, and second of all his lines are just pure gold. He reminds me of Puss In Boots from Shrek.

And then there’s “Chip, the IT guy” who is beyond creepy.  I’ve met some IT guys like that before.

I could go on and on listing the characters, but what I’d suggest is you get on Hulu and watch this season’s shows yourself.  The best one, in my opinion, was Episode 4, “Pig Out,” when Ed Helms made an appearance at a karaoke bar.  The Swedish Chef singing “Rapper’s Delight” has been watched at least a dozen times on my computer and I’ll probably go watch it again after I finish writing this.  I’m including it here for you to enjoy.

And then there was this little exchange in Episode #3, “Bear Left Then Bear Right” that made me officially fall in love with the show:

Fozzie the Bear:    You ever been shot with a tranquilizer dart, Kermit?

Kermit:  Uh, well, no, but I did lick my third cousin once and the walls started melting, so I feel you, bro.

So check out my new favorite show on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. CST.  Please?

The Hazards of Travel

I hate to post something else bitchy about my trip, but hey, it is my reality.

My flight out of Vegas on Friday night was missed.  We were winning at the craps table and lost track of time.  Okay, that was MY FAULT.  It was not American Airlines’ fault.  But, the hateful shrew of a ticket agent just made the situation ten times worse with her attitude.  It was going to be another day before I could leave, and then she was going to charge me hundreds of dollars to get the next flight.  I have never seen an airline do that if you miss a flight!

I asked about flying into another airport.  She found a ticket for that, and wanted $350 for that ticket.  I lost it.  I’m surprised I didn’t have a stroke at that moment.  I should not have, but I called her a bitch.  I stormed off, ready to scream.  Someone yelled at me, “Hey….” and I realized I left my purse there.  Nothing like making a good scene and then fucking it up with a faux pas like that.

So I called my friend up, crying, and he came back and got me.  I had a nice evening and I rebooked a ticket online using frequent flyer miles–no way I was going to give those jackholes any of my money if I could help it.  The next day was nice, too, we did some sight seeing and a little gambling here and there.  I found a 70 year old man walking around downtown in nothing but a thong and I had my picture made with him.   That, alone, was almost worth missing my flight over.

This time, though, I got to the airport 3 hours early just to make sure I didn’t miss my flight.

I flew all night to Miami, then from Miami to Charlotte.  On the flight from Miami to Charlotte I sat next to some woman whose name had to be Amazonia.  Oh dear lawd she was big in that middle seat and she hogged the arm rest the entire way, I couldn’t move, I was edged almost out of my seat.  When we landed she insisted on stepping over me to get out of the seat before me.  Nothing like a 300 pound woman’s ass dragging across your lap to make your day seem kinda’ hopeless.

The good news is I am on the last flight to home.  The flight attendant is friendly and the flight looks to be not full…. which means maybe I can get some more sleep?  Oh hell no, there is a 6 month old baby sitting right behind me.  I bet it screams the entire time.  I can’t wait to snuggle up with my dogs, give my son a big hug and kiss, and flop down in my favorite easy chair and just enjoy being home.

P.S.  I’m now home.  Baby did not cry once on the entire flight.  Great success….then American Airlines lost my luggage.  WTF?!?

Rantings of a Woman Trapped on an Airplane

woman-talking_300So I’m on a plane to Las Vegas.  I’m going to a conference for work.  The guy next to me is quiet.  The people on the other side of the aisle are quiet.  It’s a nice quiet flight, except for the woman behind me.  Dear sweet Mary, Jesus and Joseph, she will NOT shut the hell up.  And she found herself a chatty buddy to sit next to, so they are talking nonstop.

Apparently he said something that was just beyond hilarious and she cackled and snorted and laughed while slapping the back of my seat.  That wasn’t too annoying <RMFE>.

I have turned around in my seat a couple of times to give them “the look.”  You know the look I’m talking about.  With absolutely no words spoken, it clearly conveys this message:

“Wow, are you loud!  I can hear everything you’re saying, and it’s annoying.  Nobody cares that your gerbil died when you were seven years old.  How did he die?  I’m betting he committed suicide to avoid listening to you rattle on incessantly about whatever the fuck it is that you were talking about at that age.  Please, for the love of all that is good and decent, and for the sake of my sanity, think about your surroundings and lower your voice.  Hey, I am going to call the flight attendant and order you a nice steaming hot cup of shut the fuck up if you don’t stop.”

I am absolutely certain that’s the look I gave her because for a while, she lowered her voice.  But it’s back up to maximum volume again and she is rattling on about this and that and she’s got Chatty Charlie back there chiming in and they’re talking about x-rays and illnesses and I’m thinking, “Your mouth… your mouth and vocal chords are in outstanding shape.  Bet ya’ got a clean bill of health on those.”

Oh she just announced that she’s a nurse practitioner.  I bet the patients she treats never need anesthesia.  All she has to do is talk to them and they just pass the hell out from boredom!

She’s headed to Wyoming.  Lucky Wyoming.  I’m just glad she’s not following me to Las Vegas because that would be my luck.  She’d probably be staying at my hotel.  On my floor.  And I’d have to hear that annoying laugh for three days.

I have some little mini-bottles of rum in my purse.  It’s 7:30 a.m. and I busted one out to settle my nerves.  I offered one to the guy in the seat next to me.  He declined.  Oh well, more for me.  I can feel the plane descending back towards earth now…..OH CRAP…I just remembered that Nevada is close to Wyoming.  I don’t know if there are direct flights to Wyoming from Charlotte or not.  If there aren’t she could be on my next flight.  I bet if she is she’ll sit right behind me again.  I’ve got to buy some earbuds in the airport, that’s all there is to it.

She keeps talking about being a nurse.  I have friends who are nurses I know would stab her in the neck with a scalpel if she talked like that all day every day.  Maybe she’s quieter at work?

Thirty minutes later…flight is over.  That was the longest 50 minute flight I can remember in a very very long time.  As soon as we landed I bought some earbuds for $37.50.  I consider that a bargain at twice the price for the next leg of my trip, which is a five hour flight.  Thanks for listening and Viva Las Vegas!

A Pleasant Diversion: The Nostril Cam

11774607_10206961395455040_1541974693_nI want to recommend to you all a very fun arts and crafts video series on YouTube.  It is created by my friend, Shannon Green.

Shannon started taking an interest in arts and crafts when she was a teenager but didn’t get heavily involved until the early 1990s. She subscribed to a brand new magazine called Martha Stewart Living from which she got a lot of inspiration for projects she thought she could never ever do.

Around that same time she bought her first few rubber stamps, intending to use them for the invitations and decorations for her daughter’s first birthday because doing it herself would save money. She was young and naive.

Shortly after that Shannon joined a few local rubber stamp enthusiasts and they started meeting once a month. They all got involved in the online rubber stamping communities on Prodigy and mIRC (which is where I met her).  She’s still good friends with some of those ladies even though they’ve moved and gone in different directions with their lives.

Shannon started making YouTube videos in the summer of 2012. It was on a whim, really. She had been watching some videos on making books and journals and wondered if she had the right equipment to film and upload to YouTube.  It turns out she did.  Three years and 400 videos later, here she is!  She has over 15,000 followers on her YouTube channel!

I just love her “nostril cam” videos, which she shoots in her car.  I hope you enjoy Shannon’s videos as much as I do.  Here’s how you can find her:

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/byShannonGreen

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/ShannnonGreeen

Mundane Entertainment (blog) – http://shannongreen.blogspot.com/

Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/shannongreen/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ShannonGreen

Instagram – http://instagram.com/jaysonshannon/

Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/shannnongreen/

And for your viewing enjoyment here is a Nostril Cam video!

 

DIY Laundry Detergent

6a0133f4eaebe0970b01538e946a07970b-800wiA few years back money was tight and I was trying to find ways to conserve resources. I read about making your own laundry detergent and how affordable it was.  I decided to give it a try.  I still make it to this day, even though I can afford to buy the fancy brand-name laundry detergent.  It just seems stupid to waste money on it when I can make something that works just as well for a fraction of the cost.

It’s easy to make, just buy five things (you can find recipes on Pinterest that require fewer ingredients, but, if you want it to really work, make it this way):

  • Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (available in the laundry section of the grocery store)
  • Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
  • 20 Mule Team Borax (available in the laundry section of the grocery store)
  • Oxi-Clean Powder
  • Kirk’s Castille Soap (available in bars in the bath section of Wal-Mart, or, you can order it on Amazon.com)

If you want your detergent to have a scent, then buy a 6th ingredient:  essential oil.  You can get lime, lemon, orange, or even grapefruit at your local health food store.

The proportions are simple:

  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 bar Kirk’s Castille Soap
  • 1/2 cup Oxi-Clean powder
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 5 to 10 drops of essential oil (optional)

The secret to making it is how you get it combined.  You can hand-grate the bar of soap and add everything together, but it works out a lot better if you grind it all together in a food processor.  You get a fine powder that dissolves easily in the washer, even in cold water.  Just use 1 tablespoon of powder for a standard load of laundry.  Two tablespoons for really dirty/stinky laundry.

Warnings:

  • If you have deep stains, oily spots, etc., you’ll want to pretreat those with Shout or some other pre-treater.
  • This detergent does not have the stuff in it that absorbs bleeding colors from fabrics.  So, if you wash darks and lights together, your whites are going to get dingy.  You definitely want to separate lights and darks when using this homemade detergent.

 

 

Travel Lessons from Me to You

My wallet was under the seat

My wallet was under the seat

I just got back from giving a lecture in Indiana, and along the way, I lost my wallet.  I learned some pretty valuable travel lessons that I thought I would pass on to you.

How I Lost My Wallet

I fly from my town in North Carolina to the US Airways hub in Charlotte, NC, then on to whatever my destination might be. This time, as I mentioned, it was Indiana.

The plane had just landed in Charlotte and was taxiing down the runway.  I put my purse in the seat beside me to get some stuff out.  The pilot slammed on the brakes and my bag went flying forward, spilling a lot of the contents.  Apparently my wallet ended up hiding under the seat, and I didn’t see it.

LESSON:  Always check to make sure you have your wallet.  Duh.

The Taxi Ride

When I arrived at the hotel and tried to pay the taxi driver, I realized my wallet was missing.  Fortunately I had $100 bill in my purse that didn’t make it into my wallet.

LESSON:  Always keep some cash outside of your wallet (in case you lose your wallet).

Getting In the Hotel

This was Indiana, home of incredible hospitality.  I’m from the south and we pride ourselves on our hospitality, but we have nothing on Indiana!  The hotel staff was incredibly kind.  They looked up the number to the airline for me so I could call and start tracing my wallet.  And, because I had reserved the room with a credit card they had a method of payment on file.  So, they let me right in the room.   I was able to charge food and beverages to my room so I could at least eat something.

LESSON:  Always reserve your room with a credit card, even if the hotel doesn’t require one.

Looking for Money

I knew if I could find a branch of my bank in town, I could go get a temporary debit card.  I use two different banks, and unfortunately neither one had a branch in Indianapolis.  I did call Chase, as I have a credit card with them.  They said they could probably help me somehow if I had i.d.  My i.d. was in my wallet.  Which was lost.

LESSON:  Always carry a back up copy of your id., or store one one your phone.

Getting Some Cash… Finally

I was finally able to borrow $100 from someone I knew at the conference.  That was going to be plenty of money for me to get home on.  I had $60 in my wallet left out of the $100 bill I gave the cab driver.  SO, for $160 I thought I was good.  I had lunch at the hotel and charged it to my room.  Then I left the hotel.

wallet2Delays, Delays

I took a taxi to the airport, that was $40.  I had a couple of beers at the airport, that was $20.  I had $100 left.

Then, a huge storm slammed down on the midwest and my flight was cancelled.  The soonest flight they could get me on was 24 hours later.   I checked on going into a different airport and renting a car… I got the gate agent to change my flight.  Oh wait, I had $100, no credit cards, no i.d.  They don’t rent cars to people with no credit car and no drivers license.  $%$&!@#.

The desk agent had to change my flight back to the original one.  She gave me two wrapped chocolate chip cookies because she felt so sorry for me.  She was so nice I gave her a $20 tip for helping me.  Now I had $80.

I took a taxi back to the hotel, which cost me another $40.  I got to the hotel, explained the situation, and they were able to retrieve my credit card number from my previous booking and they put me in a room.  They even gave me the really good convention rate for the room of $149, even though rooms at that time were going for well over $200 a night.   So, I had a place to stay.  And, I could charge food and drinks to the room again.  But, by the time I paid for the cab back I was down to $40 and still had another 24+ hours to travel.

I had two friends at the convention.  One of them gave me $100 and even bought me a stiff drink.

LESSON:  Be nice to hotel staff, gate agents, and people in general.  You never know when you’ll need a favor.  

LESSON:  Carry one credit card in a safe location away from your wallet or purse.  That way if you lose your wallet or purse, you can still get home without begging and borrowing. 

Flying Standby

The gate agent told me to come on in to the airport early the next day, as there were several flights I might be able to get on standby for.  So, even though I didn’t have a flight until 5:00 p.m., I was there at 8:00 and hopped in line for an earlier flight.  I got one at noon to my destination hub, Charlotte, NC.  I still had to wait until 10:30 that night for my connecting flight home, but, they have a nice Admiral’s Club for American/US Air in the Charlotte airport and I had a free pass for that.  I figured it was best to get there and wait on my next flight.

Now, the fun part was getting through security with no identification.   They wanted two pieces of identification, and they would accept any kind of piece of mail, a check, etc.  Itsa-pat-down_1770516i had NOTHING but one prescription in my purse.  Without two pieces of i.d. they had to take me aside, call Washington, D.C. and run a background check on me.  The Feds wanted to know 1) how long I lived at my current address, 2) where I worked, 3) where I worked previously, 4) my birthdate, 5) the make, model and year of my car.  Yes, they “knew” all that about me, and I have no criminal record and no federal security clearance.  Creepy.

Once I cleared that hurdle, I had to go through a complete and total pat-down by TSA.  Yes, they felt up my boobs, my inner thighs, etc.  My bags were searched thoroughly inside and out and tested for explosives.  I will say they were all super nice and very professional, I just wonder if the one who felt me up will call me?

I finally got on the flight to Charlotte at 12:05 p.m.

LESSON:  Always carry two pieces of back-up identification with you outside your wallet or purse.  A check, a copy of your drivers license, etc.

Weather Is Unpredictable

Weather in Charlotte prohibited us from landing.  We were rerouted to an airport 30 minutes away.  By then I was so happy that I had carried a supply of mini-bottles of liquor in wallet4my purse that I made myself a cocktail.  It was soothing.  I shared them with some of my fellow travelers.

LESSON:  Always carry mini bottles of liquor with you when you travel.   They are cheaper than what the airline sells and you’ll make friends wherever you go.   

Flying Standby, Part Deux

As I was cooling my heels in the Charlotte Airport, I got an e-mail from the airline.  In their system they still had me shown on the 5:00 flight.  The e-mail said, “Your 5:00 flight from Indianapolis to Charlotte has been cancelled due to weather.  You are rebooked for a 5:15 a.m. flight tomorrow….” 

I was SO happy I had gotten on that earlier fight to Charlotte!  Otherwise I would have been yet another day trying to get home.

LESSON:  Always get the earliest possible flight you can to wherever you’re going.  You never know when the next one might be cancelled.

wallet3Home, Sweet Home

I finally got home at 1:00 a.m.  My dogs were so happy to see me and I have never been so happy to arrive at my abode!  The airline found my wallet, by the way, and it is en route back to me via Fed Ex.  People are still good and decent and honest,  contrary to what you may have heard.

LESSON:  There’s no place like home!  

 

 

Chi-Wow-Wow

Sweet little Zanie

Sweet little Zanie

I love dogs and I always have.  I grew up with them, and have had at least one in my house since 1997 when I got my first canine love, “Max.”  My favorite breed is the chihuahua, and I have a Pinterest board with hundreds of pictures of the cute little monsters.

There are several different types of Chihuahuas.  They are classified by the shape of their head and the length of their coat.  There are “apple head” chihuahuas, with very round shaped heads, and “deer head” chihuahuas that have flatter skulls.  Chihuahuas can also be short-haired or long-haired.  The short-haired ones typically shed a great deal.  My personal favorite is the apple head, long-haired chihuahua.  I think they are beautiful, and, they don’t shed.

Chihuahuas have gotten somewhat of a bad rap over the years.  Stereotypically they are described as bug-eyed, yappy, and sometime

My sweet baby Xena, may she rest in peace.

My sweet baby Xena, may she rest in peace.

mean and possessive.  I have owned three in my life and never found that to be true with any of them.  All of mine have been super friendly and super sweet.  My first one, Xena the Warrior Princess, was admittedly kind of bug-eyed but she was still beautiful and beyond sweet. She loved everyone, but was especially partial to men.  If a man came into the house and sat down, she was right in his lap as soon as she could find her way to it.  Poor Xena died three years ago, and it broke my heart to lose her.  She  somehow contracted encephalitis and died very suddenly.  I was devastated.

Foxi Belle, who stole my heart the moment I picked her up and held her.

Foxi Belle, who stole my heart the moment I picked her up and held her.

That left little Zanie, who had grown up from a puppy with Xena by her side, with no one to play with.  I found a dog in need of a home at a local rescue shelter and thus brought home “Foxi Belle.”

Foxi was rescued from a puppy mill that was raided and shut down on animal cruelty charges.  No one knows how old she is because there were no records of her birth.  My vet told me she was “somewhere between one and nine.”  When I got her, her coat was short, and thin.  She was malnourished and so frightened of everything and everyone that it took her about two months to wag her tail.  To this day when anyone picks her up she flails her legs around as if she’s afraid someone will drop her or throw her down.  It took a few months of good nutrition to get her healthy but her coat filled in and her eyes brightened up and she became a happy dog.  Foxi and Zanie are sisters (“seesters”) and inseparable.  They travel well in the car and are very outgoing when company comes over.

(I’m not normally a violent person but I’d like ten minutes alone with whoever mistreated her in that puppy mill.  I would so hurt ’em!)

If you’re in the market for a dog, I can highly recommend a long-haired chihuahua for your next pet!  Please try local rescue shelter first, as there are always pets there that need good homes.

Sites I Love

Have you ever clicked on the “Sites I Love” link at the top of my blog?   It’s a page that contains links to my favorite shopping sites, blogs etc.  Here is a list of them for you to peruse at your leisure:

Here’s where I buy almost all my clothes and household stuff:

Zulily

Here’s where I get monthly “surprise” boxes of make-up samples and full-size products:

Glossy Box

Ipsy

Here’s what I like to read when I’m not writing stuff for my own blog!

Blonde Like My Coffee

Moscato Mom

Shut The Front Door

Third Day Hair

Here’s some sites I love to get crafting and design inspiration and supplies:

Brave Girls Club

Darby Smart

Factory Direct Craft

Pick Your Plum

Save-On-Crafts

Life’s a Beach

beach3I have loved the beach ever since I can remember.  My parents would get a chance once a year to take us somewhere on vacation, and living in Georgia that meant the ultimate destination was almost always Florida.  The salt air, the waves crashing, playing with my parents, collecting seashells, and going to the amusement park are all fond memories I have of those trips.

I still love the beach.  I managed to find a job just 90 minutes from the ocean and I don’t think you’ll ever convince me to leave this place unless you can find a job for me that’s even closer to the ocean.  I love knowing that I can have my toes in the water and my ass in the sand in less than two hours!beach2

I have a Pinterest board dedicated to beach and ocean crafts.  In addition to loving the beach I also love to make things with my hands.  I have amassed a gigantic assortment of sea shells and I am always looking for things to make with them.  My pinterest board gives me inspiration when my creative juices just aren’t flowing.  Click here to see it.

Most of my shells I bought, because it’s hard to find a really good eclectic assortment of them on local beaches.  If you buy wholesale you can get some really great assortments for next to nothing.  I have more shells than I’ll ever use I suspect, but I enjoy having them just the same.  I find the cheapest place to get them is U.S. Shell, although they do have a $100 minimum purchase.  Another good place is Save On Crafts.

I’ve included here a couple of pictures from the Pinterest board.  I hope they inspire you to do something fun with shells that you’ve collected and have on hand.  Until next time, have a magical day!

 

 

Summertime Blues…

summertime-bluesAnd here’s a post about absolutely nothing.

For five years I worked a full-time job and owned a business.  I sold the business at the first of this year and have slowly backed away from it as the new owners took over.  It’s summer and I’m not teaching any classes, so I suddenly have all this free time on my hands and nothing to do.  Well, nothing to do that I want to do.   There are tons of household chores I could be doing, but I’d rather not.

Dating is in a lull right now.  I had a fantastic date a few weeks ago with someone, and I really thought it went well.  I never heard from him again so apparently he disagreed with my assessment of our date.  I started talking to a couple of folks last week who seemed promising, and in spite of light banter and generally pleasant conversation that could not possibly have offended anyone, they have suddenly stopped responding to my messages.  I assume they have found someone more interesting, and that’s fine.  But it just seems kind of ironic and somewhat cruel that I now have lots of free and flexible time, but have no one to help me while it away.  It’s a good thing I’m comfortable being alone or I’d be climbing the walls!

I’ve got all these nifty art supplies I’ve been collecting for years.  I sit down to make something and have no inspiration.  I guess I’m going to have to decide on something to create and “just do it,” but that seems rather forced and contrived.  If you’re interested in taking a look at my inspiration seeds, check out my Mixed Media board on Pinterest.  There I have pinned all kinds of neat ideas for art that I’ll probably never create, but it’s nice to dream.  I’ve invested in a couple of new technique books to give myself some new direction. Maybe I’ll find a project in there?

I’m doing a lot of cooking since we’re in the house all day every day.   I made this amazing shrimp dish yesterday called Green Dragon shrimp.  I got it from “The Chew” and it was really good.  I would make it again, but would add more jalapeno for sure.  I also would remember not to dump salt from a container into the marinade, but rather add it in loving little pinches.  Something about trying to pour salt always goes wrong for me and I end up with waaaaaaaaaaay more than I planned on.  We should be able to rehydrate from last night’s salty shrimp within a week or so.

What are YOU doing this summer?

Spicing it Up with Magnets

As I have learned to cook a wider range of dishes over the past few years, I have acquired a lot of herbs and spices.  They were cluttering up 2015-04-29 11.15.39my cabinets something fierce!  I wish I had taken a “before” picture of my cabinets to show you, but I didn’t.  Anyway, I just wanted to share with you what I did to fix the problem: I went to the interior cabinet and pantry doors with magnets and metal containers!

I have seen this done on some cooking shows, but never had the nerve to try it or invest in the supplies.  But at the point I broke a bottle of turmeric on the counter because the cabinet was so full that I couldn’t fit one more bottle up there?  I decided I had to take action!

It’s simple–you buy heavy duty self-adhesive magnet strips and put them on your doors.  Then you put your spices in the metal containers and label them.  Stick ’em up there and you’re done!  It does take a little rearranging to make things fit as they should.  You’ll notice that between the fourth and fifth rows of containers there’s a gap–that is so they don’t bump the shelf in the cabinet.

I bought my tin containers at PaperMart.   I bought the 8 ounce size because spices and herbs are usually sold by weight, not volume, and they take up more space than their weight suggests.  Two ounces of a powdered or dried substance is, by volume sometimes as much as 8 ounces.   These tins cost $1.19 apiece in a case of 24.  I ended up having to have 48 tins to hold everything!  They are great gift containers and 2015-04-29 11.26.15organizers, though, so it’s okay if you buy a few too many.

The lids on the tins were very loose.  I knew what was going to happen…sooner or later they were going to wiggle off the containers and spill turmeric everywhere (again!)   With my fingers I squeezed the edges of each lid sort of inward and that tightened the lids right up, leaving them secure.

The magnetic strip came from Custom Magnetic Spice Rack.  One package of 3″ wide, 42″ long, was just enough to hang 12 spice tins.  Their shipping and handling charges are pretty high there so I recommend making sure you order enough to start with–I did not and had to pay a second shipping charge to get the rest of the magnetic strip I needed.

I labelled my spices with my Brother pTouch label maker that I’ve had for years.  You can do that, or use any self-adhesive label you have.  They even make clear labels that will run through an inkjet printer if you want to get really fancy.

That’s all there is to it.  And now, I can reserve my shelves for really small containers of spices that don’t justify a whole 8 ounce tin, specialty bottles and one-time purchases, and of course all my hot sauces.

 

Sunshine and Turds

Pitbull’s new song has a line in it:  “Everyday above ground is a good day.  Remember that.”  And I really try to.  During this month, as I advance another year in age, I am reminded of a part of mypollyanna2 past that makes me grateful for every day I have today.  Aren’t I just a little ray of sunshine?

Almost 8 years ago my job really and truly sucked.  I was miserable, angry, bitter and resentful about changes in management that had been so unpleasant and so world-rocking that I found myself walking in to the office every day white-knuckled and pissed off.   Nothing I did seemed to matter, nothing made it better, and just when I thought my boss couldn’t sink any lower?  He would prove me wrong.  I had a good job in terms of money and benefits, but sadly there was absolutely no peace.

Then one day my doctor prescribed a medication that nearly killed me.  It wrecked my world and caused a LOT of problems.  I was hospitalized.  I regret that it happened, but, I have to say in looking back that it may have been the best thing that ever happened to me.

Up until that point, I had this nagging fear that something bad was about to happen.  I don’t know where that fear came from.  I kept wondering when that tragedy was going to happen.  I didn’t know what it would look like when it came.  I wasn’t sure what it would entail.  But, I was sure of one thing:  that I probably could not survive it.  I know that sounds like a horrible way to live, but, it was a real fear in my mind.

After everything I went through (it took about three years to really recover physically and emotionally) there is one thing I have realized:  I’ll survive whatever comes my way!

I’m not trying to tempt fate with that statement–I want to have as much smooth sailing as possible!  But, the reality is that I survived something that, when I was in it, seemed like the worst nightmare possible.  And, I came out stronger on the other end.  It really gave me perspective that I just didn’t have before.  Everything is, after all, relative.  Now?  Today?  When I have aches and pains (and those get more frequent with age, dammit), they don’t seem so bad because I simply remember what else could be wrong with me.   I also realize that I am lucky to even be here.  A lot of people who took the same drug that I did died as a result.

It’s all how you perceive things and from which vantage point you decide to examine them.  For instance, I get frustrated with the problems I have in my neck, but I’m so relieved that’s all that I have to deal with today.

Here’s another bonus:  in almost six years at my present job I’ve had less than five “bad” days at work.   That is in large part due to the fact that what I went through motivated me enough to get up off my ass and find a better job where I would be respected and appreciated.  But, it is also because I saw some truly dark days at work in my previous life and I know what they look like.  I realize now, today, that on a bad day–the seemingly worst day–it could always be WORSE.

I’m not suggesting that to be happy you must settle for less than optimal conditions and circumstances.  No no no!  Do NOT try to make lemonade out of turds!  What I am getting at is that when life hands you a big bouquet of turds, you have to believe you’re strong, you have to believe you can get through anything, and you have to keep a positive and forward-thinking attitude.  Digging out of the turd trenches is hard enough on a good day, but it’s even harder if you’re negative, pessimistic and generally doubtful about your chances.

Now go out there and have a bright and amazing day!

.

Bitch, Please

I love the bitchword “bitch.”  Sometimes it’s just a great word to use in a sentence, sometimes it’s funny, and sometimes it’s simply called for given the situation.

 

To celebrate this wonderful word I have created a Pinterest board dedicated to all things “bitch.”  I hope you love it!  But just remember, when someone calls YOU the “B” word, take it as a compliment because what it might mean is “Babe in Total Control of Herself.”

 

Happy Birthday to Me

funny-birthday-cakes-for-girls1-300x300My birthday month is now at hand.  Time to celebrate!  I know, I know, it sounds rather over the top to have a self-sponsored and hosted month-long celebration.   Truth is it used to be a weekend, then I decided to take a week.  Now that I’m almost 47, I figure I’m entitled to an entire month.  If I have to get older, I’m going to have a damn good time doing it.  With each birthday comes more age spots and other assorted body barnacles, and things continue to wrinkle up, drop down, and otherwise wear out.  It’s depressing.

The older you get, the less other people do for your birthday.  Have you noticed that?  I think that sucks, but it is what it is.  And, if you’re a single gal like me, you get even less attention than most do on their birthday.  No significant other means no special surprises and no fancy dinner on the big day.  It isn’t that I want or need any material things at this point.  I have more “stuff” than I’ll ever need in three lifetimes.  It’s an attention thing, really.  Your birthday is supposed to be a time to celebrate and if no one is going to acknowledge it or make it special, you have to do it yourself.

Also, Facebook has completely ruined birthdays.  Now I love Facebook and I use it to communicate every day, so, it’s pretty rare for me to criticize it.  But yeah, I think it sucks what has happened to birthdays because of Facebook.  Nobody sends cards anymore!  Everyone just posts “Hey, Happy Birthday” on your FB page and that serves as the closest thing to a card you’re ever gonna’ get.  My closest and dearest friends don’t send me a card.  I don’t send them one, either.  I just post on their FB walls “Happy Birthday” and I’m done.  It’s pathetic how little effort any of us put forth for each other anymore.

Cake.  This is the only time of the year I can eat cake and not feel guilty about it.  And guess what?  Nobody is going to buy me a cake!  I’ll have to buy my own.  Which I will do.  I might have a couple of them before it’s over with.

Finally, the older I get, the faster time seems to fly.  If I only have a birthDAY, it’s like gone before I can blink a couple of times.  If I do an entire month?  I make some memories that stick with me.

So, please join me in celebrating the MONTH of my birth, which was almost 47 years ago.  Let’s see what mischief and frivolity I can find during the next 28 days.   So far I have plans to go to my happy place (a little seaside town about 70 miles from here) twice.  I have a blind date for Valentine’s Day, which should be worthy of a laugh or two.  And next Friday I’m going to the spa for a massage, facial, and general decompression.  I’ll keep you posted on the other trouble I find…

 

 

 

Simply the Best Razors I’ve Ever Used

shavemobWell since I started dating Fox and I’m getting some on a regular basis, I took a more keen interest in my choice of razors for shaving my legs.  I stumbled upon something wonderful and thought I should share it with you.

I hate to shave my legs.  I think we all do.  What I really hate are disposable razors.  I hate shaving and then feeling stubble on my legs before I’ve dried off good.  I also hate having to go over the same area three or four times to feel like it’s really done.  And, most disposable razors make it easy to cut yourself and I hate that, too.

Now, there are some newer disposables on the market that are pretty good, but they tend to retail for about $3 or $4 apiece, and I choke on that price. Good grief, it’s just plastic and a little bit of metal, it’s not a cure for cancer.

One day I was browsing on www.drugstore.com and shopping for stocking stuffers for Christmas.  I was looking at disposable razors for my teenage son and remembered I was almost out of them myself, so I started browsing around for some and I found ShaveMob‘s brand.  They sell them on Drugstore.com but they also have their own website, you can click here to see it.

I bought a package of 24 blades, with a reusable handle, for $39.99, less a 20% off coupon that Drugstore.com was offering at the time.  That got me the ShaveMob “top of the line” blade cartridges, which have six blades each, plus a flexible razor head.

The first time I used my new razor I took two or three strokes up my leg and then I felt my skin.  It was beyond smooth.  It felt like glass with just ONE pass of the razor!  I didn’t cut myself, either.  The razor’s head just glided over my skin, it maneuvered around my knees easy enough and there was no razor burn afterwards, either.   I have since used it two or three more times and it still gives the same close, smooth shave.  Each blade is designed to last you about two weeks.

You can go to the ShaveMob website and order a small quantity of them to try.  The best pricing is of course on 24 blades at a time, but you might want to try the smaller package of four blades to start, just to make sure you think they’re as awesome as I do!  Now please excuse me because I have a date with Fox and I need to go shave my legs!

 

 

Happy New Year

I have to say I don’t miss Match.com at all.  I am still dating Fox after almost t10888482_10154973966080442_5415228604813035809_nwo months.  I like him a lot but damn if this isn’t really screwing up my blogging!  I have nothing to write about anymore!  I still haven’t thought of any clever penis posts to entertain you with and now that the holidays are over I’m done entertaining so there’s no food to write about.

I did find this funny picture so I thought it would be a nice way to say hello and remind you that I’m still here.

Don’t give up on me and please don’t forget my new advice column–I need your questions!  They can be serious or silly, related to sex, food, work, etiquette, parenting, dogs, Pinterest, skin care, consumer topics, or anything else you can think of.  (Yes, even penis questions will be answered.)  Write to me at info@broomwithaview.com

 

 

A New Feature

imagesI swear this whole finding a nice guy and getting off Match.com is really screwing up my blog!!!  I have nothing funny to write about.  (I’m still thinking about some penis posts, but haven’t exactly decided what they should be just yet.  Meanwhile, I have a couple o f ideas….)

If you are single and have relationship funnies to share, send them to me!  I will block out faces, names and phone numbers and post any pictures you care to share.  I know some of those Tinder hook ups have stories behind them, so let me share them with my readers.

Also… I’d like to start an advice feature.  Surely you have questions that need answers.  Let me answer them!  Dating problems?  Hell I’ve probably been there.  Family drama?  Honey, we put the “fun” in dysFUNctional so I am sure I have words of wisdom to share.  Food questions?  Well duh, I got that one covered.  Party planning issues?  I love me some parties!

So, send your pictures, stories, and questions to me at info@broomwithaview.com !   Until next time…have a magical day!

A Fun Place to Shop

In today’s post under the “Killin’ Time” category, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite shopping venues:  Zulily.

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My $29.99 dress I bought. I don’t look this good in it, but it’s still pretty flattering.

Zulily is a “daily deal” site that posts new sales on a daily basis.  Most of the sales run 2 or 3 days, but, the best selection is available when you shop early.  Sales (called “events”) launch every day at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time.  I find that my mornings revolve around that time.  I reach for the computer and find the Zulily site as soon as possible after 9:00 a.m. each day.

I’ve had a few friends try it and say they weren’t impressed, or, that they didn’t like the “no returns” policy.  I’m going to tell you what I think is special about Zulily, and I’ll also address the no-returns policy and other criticisms.

Corky's Footwear flip flops for $19.99, retail for $40.  These have become my "go-to" shoes for summer!

Corky’s Footwear flip flops for $19.99, retail for $40. These have become my “go-to” shoes for summer!

Selection.

Every day they have multiple sales in five categories:   women’s, men’s, maternity, kids’, and home.  The largest number of sales usually are in the women’s and kids’ cateogories.   Today I counted 33 different sales for women.  Most are clothing, but some are in categories like jewelry, fragrance, and shoes.  Clothing sales sometimes focus on a specific brand or style, and other times might be built around a particular color or color palette.   They always have clothing for plus size women.   It is rare for me to shop all the women’s sales and not find something that I want!

Price.

The full retail price is always listed, and then there’s the sale price.  Sometimes the discounts are good, sometimes they are great, and other times you just have to pick your jaw up off the floor.  A four-person food box from Hello, Fresh contains ingredients for 12 complete meals and retails for $129.99.  The day those were on sale the Zulily price was merely $40.   A $138 Samuel Dong jacket sold for just $29.99.

Reasonable shipping and handling rates.

Shipping starts at $5.95.  I’ve never personally seen it go over $7.95.  What’s really cool is that you pay shipping once per day at Zulily.  If you order this morning and  pay shipping and handling, then later in the day order something else–the shipping and handling charge on the second and subsequent orders is $0.  Even better is you only pay shipping and handling once per WEEKEND, starting with Friday and ending Sunday at midnight.  The benefit of this is if you see an item that the quantity is limited on, you can place your order immediately and then shop at a more leisurely pace later without worrying about paying a second shipping and handling charge.

Outstanding customer service.

Sometimes things go wrong.  My biggest complaint about Zulily is that whoever works in their shipping department doesn’t have a clue how to package and ship glass items.  I’ve had so many glass pieces broken during transit that when I order glassware I don’t even think about getting my hopes up until the package is in my  hands and I shake it for the familiar sound of clanking glass pieces.  The silence of hearing nothing is always a joyous happening!  But, even though they don’t know how to pack glassware, they will refund your purchase price on broken items and they do so quickly.  Usually, as an apology, they also give you a $10 store credit on top of the refund.  I’ve also received some items that I just simply wasn’t happy with.  Maybe there was a defect.  Or, the size was a lot smaller than advertised.  All I have ever had to do was e-mail them and they refunded my money quickly and I always get the $10 credit, too.

Nobody and nothing is perfect, so let me share with you the bad parts about Zulily (besides some knucklehead in shipping not buying enough bubble wrap):

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Every girl needs a pirate hat for Halloween, and it’s even better when it costs $9.99.

No returns?

That’s right–there are no returns.  You can’t send anything back just because you didn’t like it or because it didn’t fit.  And that makes it frightening to shop unless you know the brand or read the size charts.  I know in Pretty Angel brand I wear a large, and, in certain other brands I wear an extra large.  In some jeans I’m a 12, in others a 14.  When trying out a new brand, I really am taking a risk, and that’s when I limit how much I’m willing to spend.  Some of the jeans they sell retail for $120 and their price is $50, which is a steal.  But, since I’ve never tried on a pair of that brand before, I refuse to risk $50 for a pair of jeans that may or may not fit.  But, if the jeans are $19.99, I might take the risk if I like their looks and if the size chart matches up to my approximate measurements.  I would say about 5% of what I buy ends up not fitting and I donate it to charity or pass it on to a friend who can use it.  But, at the prices I pay I can afford to do that.  I’ve spent a lot more on clothes at the mall that I ended up not wearing.

Some brands.

Okay, I’ll just say that some of the brands piss me off because they are made for tiny tiny people.  A “Large” is a size 10?  On what planet?  But, I’m sure the skinnier folk appreciate those offerings and so I won’t begrudge them their miniature clothes.  I am just jealous.

Limited stock.

Sometimes they only have 1 or 2 of something.  If you see something you want, I suggest you buy it as soon as possible or it will disappear!

So, that is my review of Zulily.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

 

 

Internet “Rehab” In A Box: Darby Smart

When I’m not working on my exciting love life or cooking up something delicious in the kitchen, you can often find me in my craft room.  I am very fortunate to

Project made with a large wooden letter from Darby Smart

Project made with a large wooden letter from Darby Smart

have a room in my home that is all mine.  It’s dedicated to crafting and it’s my little oasis away from all things stressful.  It’s piled full of art and craft supplies of all varieties.  I would show you a picture of it but it’s a messy place most of the time.

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A t-shirt made with Lumi Inkodye.

If you also love to craft, I want to share with you one of my favorite sources for craft supplies:  Darby Smart.   Darby Smart is a place to buy interesting craft kits, and, they also have a subscription option that provides a monthly box of “internet rehab” supplies.  The monthly subscription is just $19, and that includes shipping and handling!

For Valentine’s day they sent a cupcake making kit.  It included Sprinkles brand cupcake mix (which by itself retails for about $14 a pack), and fun supplies for making molded chocolate decorations to go on top.  All together I estimate that if I bought the contents of the kit separately I would have easily spent $30.  Admittedly I would never ever ever pay $14 for a cake mix, but it was fun to try it once!  Another month I made a clock.  Yep, a complete clock!  It’s hanging in my laundry room now and it matches the decor in there perfectly because I painted it to match.

September’s kit was particularly interesting.  It contained the Lumi Sunfold printing kit, which retails for $35 at Amazon.com.   This kit containing “Inkodye” was really fun to play with, and included enough supplies to dye two

One of my scarves made with Lumi Inkodye.

One of my scarves made with Lumi Inkodye.

scarves.  There was enough dye left to make plenty of additional projects.  I managed to dye four t-shirts, and could have done more had I not accidentally wasted part of the dye (I thought the stopper was secure in the sink drain, but I was wrong and all the dye I mixed up ran out).

Lumi Inkodye is C.O.O.L.  It works like this:  soak your fabric in the dye, then fold or arrange it the way you want it.  Take it out in the sun and the dye reacts with the sun’s UV rays.  It’s kind of like tie-dying except instead of applying dye strategically to certain areas, you simply fold strategically and the parts of the fabric that are directly exposed to the sun will not change colors.  I had so much fun with this kit!

You don’t have to have a monthly subscription to shop with Darby Smart.  You can buy kits individually, and they have tons to choose from.  Or, just use their site for inspiration, because they have a showroom that features art and craft projects shared by crafters from all over.  Be sure to watch for my projects that I post in the showroom!    The prices they offer on supplies are reasonable, and, they frequently offer coupons and special deals so you can get them even cheaper.

So, if you are looking to get crafty and aren’t sure where to start, I’d suggest giving Darby Smart a try.  There is no minimum length of time you have to subscribe for, you can cancel at any time.  Tell ’em Broom With a View sent you!