Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back to Normal

Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else. ~James Matthew Barrie

Today, life gets back to normal (or what passes as normal in our house). We actually had a pretty decent vacation with DH around -- he "hired" out for projects for other people so didn't putter around our house so much ... when he's bored, he's difficult. *G*

He did manage to squeeze in ONE project though: staining the deck. We're putting it on with brushes so it's taking a LONG time -- but spraying gets in on the lawn, my plants and the vinyl siding, so there isn't a choice. We only got half done yesterday -- all the hard stuff thankfully. Our poor deck was in desperate need.

He powerwashed it first to get all remnants of the old, peeling sealer off (and various things like hornets nests under the railings), then we went to work.

We got the top "layer" done, along with the benches and the railings (which are a PAIN).

Railing done, but not the main deck:

Top "Layer" done:

Still need to do the stairs -- this pic shows the difference between stained and not stained best:

We'll finish next weekend, assuming the weather holds. Fun times!

How was your weekend?


You Are the Yellow Bird

You are very determined. You put a lot of energy behind everything you do.

No obstacle is too big for you to overcome. You're going to change the world.

You are amazingly energetic. You don't just get second winds - you get third and fourth winds.

You do things your way, and you always get results. You'll work as hard and long as it takes.

I don't know what Angry Birds is ... but I agree with their choice!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

I've said it before, I come from and am surrounded by veterans and those who served.

My dad was seventeen when he enlisted in the army and served in WWII. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and exerienced things no teenager should.

My brother enlisted during the Cold War. Though he never served in combat, he spent some time in missile cylos, finger over "the button" waiting for the nuclear war that thankfully never came.

My husband and brother-in-law served during the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, as well as in Somalia (during the Blackhawk Down incident) and other periods of unrest. Both suffered from "Gulf War Syndrome" (my husband had blackouts for several years after he came home). Both saw and did things they'd rather forget. Both would do it again.

So while you're barbequing, swimming or playing volleyball today, just take a moment to remember those who served, and those who are still serving.

On a lighter note, DD and I both donated to a Memorial Day contest. Kiki Howell is celebrating a release by giving away three packages of prizes (1 eBook pack, 2 print / prize packs). You could win my "Don't Fence Me In" or a pair of earrings specially made for this contest. Click here to see how to enter.

Happy Memorial Day all!


You Are John F. Kennedy Jr.

You are authentic and real. You don't know how to be anyone but yourself, and that's part of your charm.

You have a creative side to you, especially when it comes to improving your life and your work. You do the unexpected.

Your friends and family have a high opinion of you, but you're still very humble. You put others first.

You treat everyone you meet with respect. You believe in practicing The Golden Rule.

About 75% right.


Friday, May 27, 2011


Mirth is God's medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Another gorgeous day yesterday. I find that when I'm stressed or sad or unsettled, a walk around my yard really helps my attitude. So, even though I wasn't up to significant exercise yesterday because of my cold, I still took an extended stroll through: enjoying the plants, pulling the occasional weed, picking red lily beetles...

A couple of odd things yesterday. One: my ice trays grew stalagmites. I'm truly puzzled at how it might have happened. Check it out:

We still haven't used those cubes, as we're really mystified by them. Maybe we're just easily entertained?

Speaking of being easily entertained ... I was sitting at the computer yesterday, minding my own business, when the chipmunk from our rock wall visited. This can't possibly be the same one from several years ago that we used to feed, but for some reason, he mimics the same behavior: coming the back door and "knocking". This one, though, took it a step further yesterday when I ignored him.

Yes, that's right -- he climbed up my screen door. I got that picture right before he decided he could also climb glass and tried to keep going to the right. Needless to say, he failed. Don't worry, he was fine. Landed on the deck, shook his head and ran off... then came back about five minutes later to knock on the door again (though perhaps he learned his lesson, as he did not try to climb the screen).

I gave DD her annual Standardized Achievement Test yesterday. School is *almost* done -- though she's having trouble concentrating this week with the gorgeous weather. We have about eight more school days until it's all wrapped up. And then, I am retiring as a teacher. I'm still ambivalent about this. I know it's going to be good for her to be in school, but it's the first time she'll be away from me for any significant time... it's going to be weird. I'll miss having her around. I won't miss teaching her though. This past year has been tough and I'm very glad she'll be going to school for eighth grade.

No big plans for our weekend. Really, everything rides on the weather, and it's looking like nice days with afternoon thundershowers all three days, which means no boating for DH. Guess we'll see how it all pans out, since the weather people are not always right.

Anyone doing anything exciting?


You Like Change

You are easygoing and carefree. You like to hang loose whenever possible.

You don't seek out change, but you don't necessarily avoid it either. If it comes, it comes.

You are a big believer in letting go of control. You know that some things are simply up to fate.

You try to be good with whatever happens in life. You find your contentment from within.

This is almost completely wrong... lol...


Thursday, May 26, 2011


If you start to think about your physical or moral condition, you usually find that you are sick. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Proverbs in Prose

In a moment of irony, we're finally having beautiful weather .... and I'm sick. We're finally having sunshine and warmth where I could go out and walk, garden, play with the dog -- and I feel rotten. Sore throat (SO sore!) and a stuffy nose is developing... *sigh*...

Sometimes life is not fair.

I did walk and work in the garden yesterday, but it was torture on my throat. Last night I couldn't sleep for how bad it hurt (and, no, it's not strep -- this is standard for my colds, which have a clear pattern: insanely painful sore throat for a day or two, stuffy/runny nose for a day or two, cough for a day or two, and then the lingering dribbles).

Not sure what I'll do today, but I'm getting outside no matter what, darn it.


You Are Responsible

People can count on you. You take duties and responsibilities seriously.

You are easily delighted and inspired. Life is all about the little things.

You can be unforgiving toward people who fail you. You have high, but not unreasonable, expectations.

You're very picky but extremely devoted to the one you choose. You fall in love selectively.

All that from a bowl of cereal. It's mostly right, and I'm amazed...


Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy. - John Denver

Holy smokes!! The sky is clear and blue outside.

:::faints dead away:::

Seriously, folks I don't know what I'm going to do with myself today -- it's supposed to be sunny and nice. Probably I'll go out and weed, and see if my garden survived the flood. My cucumbers, eggplant and squash weren't looking so great last time I checked on Saturday...

Didn't get my writing done yesterday -- but I have high hopes for today. DH has stuff to do, so shouldn't be underfoot.

Speaking of which, he's awake, so I'm going to sign off early. Today, I'll check for pillars and take some pix of my green, growing things.

Wishing you all a great day!


You Should Celebrate with Champagne

You have high standards, and you are nice to everyone. Manners are important to you, even if that's old fashioned.

You tend to follow norms. You figure why rock the boat unless there's a good reason to?

You think of yourself as regular gal or guy next door. You do your best to make life a little special sometimes.

You don't have a jealous bone in your body, and you're truly for happy for others when they succeed.

About 3/4 right and champagne is the only alcohol that gives me a hangover, so I abstain. *G*


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This and That

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?" ~William A. Ward

I opened up the door to take the dog out this morning and walked into a wall of heat and humidity. It was warmer outside than in my house! It's supposed to be in the 80s today ... but don't think that means sun. It means steam! We're still expecting rain today. It *does* look like tomorrow might be nicer -- clouds in the morning, but sunny and warm in the afternoon. DH talked to his folks about fishing, so he just might get his day out (I'm doing everything: crossing fingers, praying, dancing to the sun gods...)

Also, I checked and last year we found our first swallowtail caterpillars on June 29th ... that date is looming, so if we get a little sun over the next day or two (so butterflies can actually ... yanno... FLY) we're going to start checking for eggs and babies. The milkweed is coming up, too. So I expect Pillar Place 2011 to start soon.

RE: the dog who fell off the dog walk on Sunday. I heard from the owner yesterday and she said she was shocked, but that Missy was absolutely fine. Thank goodness. I told DD and she was relieved. I think she'll always feel like it was her fault, but that's something she'll have to figure out on her own, I guess.

Last night, I got this really strong image for a scene in "Now and Forever". That happens to my quite often really. I tend to "see" parts of the book in my head, like a movie. This one will be my ending scene, and I think it has both an "awwwwww" factor, which I strive for, but should also make the reader laugh.

Today, God willing and DH don't fuss (*G*), I'm going to get it written down.

Then ... I think it's ready to submit. Finally!! My goal is to have my query and synopsis done by next week. I hate writing synopses...

I was reminded how much worse my life could be due to weather problems yesterday, when an author friend who lives in Minneapolis shared her tornado story (she's fine). I have a brother who lives on the Missouri border and who has family only a few miles from Joplin, the town that was completely destroyed by the tornado that hit (they're fine). And then I think about the farmers in Mississippi who've deliberately had their lands flooded in a very Spock-like "the good of the many over the good of the few" decision (though I do wonder how this will impact food prices over the next year). I have to say, I'm SO proud of those farmers. They took the decision to flood their lands stoically, and then took steps to protect what they could. Seeing pictures like this makes me proud:

I can't imagine how awful it was for them to see their land and their livelihood underwater. But good for them for doing what they could to protect what was theirs.

So, although I really hate all the rain ... I remember it could be far, far worse than it is.


You Are Trustworthy

Of all the types, you are the most responsible and loyal. You take your duties seriously.

You thrive when you are able to do something practical and productive. You hate to waste your time.

Some people say that you are a bit neurotic or cautious, but you believe it's better to be safe than sorry.

You do your best to live a engaging and important life. You want what you do to matter.

That's about right...


Monday, May 23, 2011

The Day After ...

Friendship isn't a big thing - it's a million little things. ~Author Unknown

What a crazy weekend -- I might have actually been relieved had the world ended. But I'm still here, and so are all my family and friends, so it's all good.

Saturday I spent with my friend, Michele. We had loads of fun -- didn't really DO anything, just putzed around (visited a bookstore OF COURSE), had lunch and talked. A lot. The time flew by and I had a great time. I don't get to get away from my kidlet and dog very often, so it was nice.

We took two pictures, but one of us is blurry in each, lol... I need to have Judy Photoshop it (take the non-blurry one out and copy it over). Here's the good one of Michele, with me blurry. *G*

Sunday was our Fun With Agility match at the place we go for dog agility classes. It was, as always, a crazy day. Lots of dogs, lots of people. DD was signed up to run three dogs: Dakota, Missy (the instructor's dog) and Kenzie (for a lady who was away). She ended up running those three AND running the last run for "Big Max", the mastiff.

With one exception (that I'll get to in a minute) she did great. She won best overall time with Missy, "Team Dakota" won (there are three teams, each comprised of equal numbers of advanced, intermediate and beginning dogs), Dakota won her "class" and Kenzie won his. I filmed all the runs, but my camera films in HD, so every video takes about 20 - 25 minutes to upload. Since yesterday, I've only managed to upload seven, and I have EIGHTY-SEVEN to do. It'll be a while.

The exception, noted above, was in the run-off round. The top four dogs in each class have a run-off to be the winner (that's what Dakota won). DD was running Dakota and Missy (she's a Papillion -- a very small dog who weighs about ten pounds). Everything was fine until the went up the dog walk ... about halfway across, Missy fell off. The walk is about 4' high -- a lot drop for a little dog. Thankfully, one of the ladies running a dog yesterday is a vet and checked her out. She was stunned, for certain (though still managed to find DD and sit at her feet, waiting for a treat!) and limping a bit, but apparently okay otherwise.

DD, OTOH, was devastated. She held it together on the course, and while the vet checked out Missy, but when she walked off she came over, crawled into my lap (a neat trick when I was in a portable camping chair and she's almost as big as me) and cried. Then, last night before bed, she said, "I'm sorry I made Missy fall." and cried again.

I assured her it wasn't her fault (and it wasn't -- I was filming it, so was able to go back and see what happened. Missy just stepped wrong and half a paw hit the edge, unbalancing her.), and that the instructor wasn't going to hate her, and that Missy would be fine. But it's going to be awhile before she gets past this.

So, now we start a new week. DH is off, and the week that was *supposed* to be gorgeous, weather-wise, has changed to pretty much rain of some kind every day. Next week, too. I swear, my garden is going to rot -- nevermind having some rain to get it all set in. And DH will be at loose ends. He'd planned numerous fishing trips, but now he can't go. It's going to be an interesting week...

Hope you all had a great weekend!


You Are Kind

You value deep, authentic relationships. You're not big on small talk.

You hold yourself to high standards. You demand near perfection of yourself.

You are idealistic, and you don't really care if your ideals are unrealistic.

You are sensitive and compassionate. So many things touch your heart.

About half right.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Craft Show!

My husband gave me a necklace. It's fake. I requested fake. Maybe I'm paranoid, but in this day and age, I don't want something around my neck that's worth more than my head. ~Rita Rudner

I officially signed DD up for a small craft show a local church is sponsoring. It's on June 11th and I'm in a bit of a panic -- I've never done a craft show before, and never really paid attention to what people (the crafters) DO for a show. Thankfully, one of the ladies I work with at LASR/WC does several shows a year and sent me a list of things I need.

I have none of them and three weeks to figure it out.


I spent some time haunting eBay and found a couple of reasonably priced earring displays. I need a tablecloth (I might either buy a few yards of material or a discount sheet -- is that too cheap? will it reflect on us?). I don't have a sign with her name or logo ... since it looks hand drawn anyway, I might go with poster board and ... draw it. Or ... I'll hit up Vista Print.

I need hanging earring cards, a cash box, a way to track sales (because I'm determined we'll have TONS). DD has been making jewelry like a crazy person, because the 100 items she has in her store aren't enough.

As a side note, if there is anything in her store you were looking at and contemplating buying, now is the time. I'm going to put her store on vacation for the show, and with any luck sell much of what we have.

We're also bringing her supplies, and she'll be able to make earrings to order while you wait. Necklaces and bracelets take too long to do, but earrings are *fairly* quick, except wire-wrapped ones.

I'm nervous as heck. I don't want to mess anything up.

Click on the button below to take a look at her store if you want to shop before it's gone:

BTW, yes -- it's still raining here.

I'm going to have a crazy weekend, though. Tomorrow, my friend Michele is going to be up from Massachusetts and we'll get to hang out most of the day. Then, on Sunday we have an agility competition. DD will be running three dogs: Dakota, the instructor's dog, Missy (a Papillion), and Kenzie (a French bulldog / terrier mix). I'll be videoing the whole thing and will put it up on our agility class's YouTube channel. I expect to be exhausted on Sunday night...

Any big plans for you this weekend?


You Should Visit Big Ben

You are orderly and focused. You get things done quickly and efficiently.

Whenever possible, you like to be in control. You are good at running things.

You like to be in command. You find the leader role to be very comfortable.

You are a hyperactive and impatient person. Once you get the gist of something, you're ready to move on.

Um ... yeah -- that's about right. LOL...

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while. ~Kin Hubbard

I really only have one thing on my mind:

When I did a search for "It's Raining Again" -- THIS came up, too (and made me laugh), so I had to share:

Who remembers THAT song? *G*

I think it may stop raining eventually ... so, THIS should be my next theme song:

I'm fairly sure I have webbed feet. And the dog is going just a little (okay a LOT) crazy from not being able to get outside and get her wiggles out.

I'm going a little crazy, too. When I don't some sunshine, I get really, REALLY low. I checked the forecast, and this is what they say:

Geez... even the days with a sun on them don't sound THAT great. But, I'll take what I can get.

I shouldn't complain -- we aren't being flooded out of our house. There are no tornadoes or other natural disasters. Truly, we're very lucky and blessed. But I really would like just a teeny bit of sun.


You Are Intense

Your passion fuels you. Your fire for everything and everyone burns brightly.

You are protective of those closest to you. You do the worrying for other people.

You are direct and to the point. You move quickly, and you don't like to waste time.

You are a very inspiring person. You show others that dreams can come true.

That's pretty much right.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednedsday Writing and Weather

The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Yesterday, I took time to write -- and tried not to feel guilty about it. I went back to my NaNoWriMo roots and brainstormed the silliest scenes I could think of and then figured out where they might work in "Now and Forever". I got most of one written AND I think I figured out how to make my ending more "Awwwwwwwwwww....", which is what I strive for in all my endings.

Speaking of NaNoWriMo... they're having a NaNo THIS SUMMER! I'm so excited... though I may not be able to participate (because I have to learn three new computer languages AND rebuild the LASR/WC website -- theoretically) I'm thrilled they're doing this because someday I hope to actually have "me" time again and be able to participate twice a year. I love NaNo. There is something incredibly freeing about NaNo. It helps bring back the joy of writing for me, and I miss that.

In other news: it's raining. Again (or is that "still"?). It's awful. I hate it. The overcast, the lack of sun, the inability to get outside and walk or garden or play with the dog. UGH.

Thankfully, this should be done by Saturday. Then I get a whole 'nother pile of fun because DH is taking all of next week of. For no reason. Just because. And you know what THAT means... he'll be finding chores for us to do. DD is already behind a few days in school, I have neverending work to do (learning new computer languages for one) and I KNOW he's going to be taking down trees or tiling the kitchen or something. *sigh*

If he would just stay home and be calm, relax, recreate ... I could handle it.


You Are Grounded

You don't put bounds or limitations on your thoughts. You are a down to earth daydreamer.

You are compelled to help everyone around you. You are naturally selfless.

You like to be around others even if you don't share easily. You enjoy camaraderie.

You don't try to understand the world around you... it just comes naturally.

I agree that I'm pretty grounded, but the rest is only about 25% right.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Characters Make the Book

A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy. ~Edward P. Morgan

It's amazing sometimes at how different people are. I know, that should be obvious, but it's never more obvious to me than when various people comment on books.

As I've been working through the suggestions given to me on "Now and Forever", one CP has mentioned something things (little things, really, but they clearly stood out to her) that have struck her as odd. Mostly, she questions my hero's behavior in places -- says he's acting far too immature for his age.

I'd never even considered that. Either I hung out with guys who acted immature for their ages or she hung out with guys who acted older than their years. My thought, though, is that my guy should probably fall somewhere in between. So, I've taken her advice on some parts, but not on others, and it will be interesting to see what readers have to say (assuming this story ever sees the light of day).

I recently read a book where I felt the heroine was too perfect. She never got ruffled, never got angry, never got scared; she was always calm, level-headed and reasonable which was ridiculous considering the situation she was in (this was a romantic suspense book). I didn't like her. Ironically, it was those very traits the hero found attractive. Still, it really bugged me ... and when I looked at reviews after I finished, I discovered that more than half the folks who'd read the story felt the same.

Clearly, the author didn't go out of her way to make her heroine a person no one would like. I have to admit to being surprised that no one in her CP group or her editor mentioned it (though, I suppose they might have and she ignored them -- she's a very popular author, so might be able to get away with something like that).

No real point to my rambling other than I know we authors try to create protagonists that people like reading about (unless you've created an anti-hero ... but that's an entirely different thing), but it's amazing how badly we fail sometimes without realizing it.

I'm very much a reader of character-driven stories, so if a character doesn't work for me, the story won't work no matter how amazing the plot or writing. I had to finish that book I'd mentioned above, because it was one sent for review, but had I been reading it for pleasure, I might have stopped. I say *might* because I liked the hero and the secondary characters, so that may have made the difference.

And ... I'm done rambling. *G*


The other day I was so excited because my neighbor mowed his "lawn". I had someone comment that I got excited about strange things... but the fact is, his lawn is primarily weeds, and they spread into OUR lawn if he lets them go to seed. Drives me NUTS.

It's hard to keep a lawn looking like this:

When your neighbor has a lawn looking like this (and actually, this is the nicest part of his lawn because our sprinklers hit it ... you should see the other side of his driveway -- there are these odd weeds that are tall and spiky EVERYWHERE):

I've pulled dandelions four times now, ending up with full buckets every time (and we don't LOOK like we have that many):

It's a good thing I enjoy doing yard work...


You Are a Round Cut Stone

You have excellent organizational abilities. You can make sense of any mess.

You are driven to fulfill your duties. You take every responsibility seriously.

You are decisive and resolute. You choose well, even when the choice isn't easy.

You are quite disciplined. You exercise self-control in all aspects of your life.

How they got that answer from the questions they asked mystifies me... and, though I don't like round cut stones, the answer is exactly me. Scary.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays

Talkin' to myself and feelin' old
Sometimes I'd like to quit
Nothing ever seems to fit
Hangin' around
Nothing to do but frown
Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down.

Yes, it is raining. It rained all day yesterday. And our long range forecast is predicting rain every day but one for the next seven days. Fun time.

Sorry about the prolonged absence, though all of you with Blogger know that the stupid thing was down Thursday and most of Friday. Worse, when they did the "fix" on Friday, it deleted everything done Wednesday night forward. So, even though I *could* have posted on Friday, I had to do massive damage control on the LASR/WC site... all our reviews, our guest blogs, our spotlights -- ALL had to either be recreated or retrieved from draft.

Nope, I was not a happy camper. Which has led me to dusting off a PHP / Java / MySQL computer book and sending myself back to school. We hope to get all the LASR/WC stuff off blogger and onto a dynamic website over the next few months. We're actually planning some pretty massive changes so if I disappear, it's because I not only have to learn an entire computer language (well... three, actually), but also need to reimagine and rebuild the site.

I can't believe I did this on purpose.

However, I did have a wonderful Friday. The weather was GORGEOUS: warm and sunny. And, since there was rain on the forecast until June (that's only a slight exaggeration), I decided to put in my veggie garden.

We planted 24 tomato plants, 21 cucumber plants (yes, I really DO want pickles this year!), 4 butternut squash plants, 3 yellow summer squash plants, 3 eggplants, and uncountable pea and bean seeds. DD already planted carrots and I have my lettuce growing. I forgot to pop in my chard seeds, so I'll do that today.

We ran out of steam on Friday, so didn't put my "weed block" (i.e. newspaper covered with straw or grass clippings -- it all breaks down into compost eventually, but BOY does it do wonders for the weeds) down until Saturday.

Unfortunately, Saturday was cool and overcast and DD and I got eaten alive by mosquitoes.

In any case, the garden is in and happy. The flowers are blooming. I really, really love spring (and summer). I am just not a winter person at all.

Want a tour?

Here's the garden from in front (see the woods? Is it any wonder I have to fight deer?):

And from the side:

My rhubarb is crazy -- I wish you could use it for more, because I always have about ten times what I need, and end up throwing it away:

DD's little garden:

I swear, there are plants there! Here's my squash plant -- you can see my super professional weed block:

DD took a tour around the flower garden, too... here's a sample:

English daisies:

Our peach tree:

Wild blooming dogwood:


Bleeding Heart:

Mountain Laurel (from our woods):

Grape Hyacinth:

Creeping Phlox:

There are tons more flowers -- I love flowers -- but I won't bore you :-)

How was your weekend?


You Are Dominant

You like to put yourself to the test. You don't feel alive unless you feel challenged.

People usually totally love you or totally hate you. You are extremely intense.

You are a little demanding. You know what you want, and you're not about to settle.

You have a very strong personality. You don't tone it down for anyone.

As a funny ... that's actually not a "new" hair color -- it's what I have now. I didn't like the others (if they'd had a real auburn, I'd have chosen it -- but that "purple" auburn is ugly). AND... this is really pretty much true... guess I have the right hair color for me?


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The X Factor

Books are delightful society. If you go into a room and find it full of books - even without taking them from the shelves they seem to speak to you, to bid you welcome. ~William Ewart Gladstone

What "grabs" you about a book? What makes a book the kind of story you can't put down? Can't stop thinking about when you have to close it?

That's something that I've been wondering about for myself lately. I've been trying, and failing, to find new books that interest me. I've picked up dozens, opened and started to read only to lose interest quickly and put them away. One I tried is by an author I usually love and I know why I stopped reading this one: the story starts with the H/H in love and then the hero discovers that the heroine has lied to him about something.

I know they're going to find their way back to trusting each other again, but that isn't the point. Oddly, I wouldn't mind having them at odds in the beginning if they weren't ALREADY in love. It's the destruction of their relationship I can't stand to watch. I'm not sure what to do about this book because it's part of a series, and I feel as though I need to read it. I guess I'll just have to wait until I can handle the sadness I'll feel.

But the other books? I'm not sure why I haven't been able to read them. It's been discouraging, and I finally started hitting my 'keeper' shelf instead.

Yesterday, though, I got an ARC for the LASR site. I usually pass them on to my reviewers, but this was from a very well known author I've never read before, and the review is actually due ASAP, so I thought I'd give it a try. I wasn't that hopeful, to be honest, since I'm apparently in a reading slump, but I figured it wouldn't cost anything if I hated it.

I didn't. I loved it. I didn't want to stop reading even when I was completely exhausted. I'm not sure what grabbed me, though. It didn't start with a huge bang, though it is a suspense book. But whatever it was... I wish I could bottle it.

I'm not teasing you when I say I can't tell you what book it is -- since I'm going to review it for the site, and I HAVE to stay anonymous, I can't share. But assuming the book continues as it starts, I know now why the author is so popular.

What do YOU think gives a book that "X" Factor? What pulls it from just okay to amazing?

What books can you recommend to me that you think have that? Because I'd sure love to populate my Nook with some great books.


You Get Your Point Across by Thinking

To the outside world, you seem to move at a snail's pace. You contemplate everything.

You are detail oriented, and you take things one step at a time. You are very accurate.

You tend to formulate ideas and make decisions alone. Once you're done, you're ready to talk to others.

You work best alone and at your own pace. You have a quiet and low key way about you.

About 75% right.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday Traipsing

"Joy is the simplest form of gratitude." - Karl Barth

Finally got my last crit (of sorts) on "Now and Forever" ... and a couple things are clear. I need to work a LOT on the ending (which I knew) and a couple more scenes need to be added (though I haven't a clue what they will be). *sigh*

This writing thing is WORK. *G*

Speaking of, I gave a shout out to Maria Zannini yesterday about her interview with my old editor, but I was a slacker on mentioning that she has an awesome new fantasy romance release out from Carina Press called "Apocalypse Rising". Though it's the second in her series, it's written to stand alone (though you could always just buy the first book, too: "Touch of Fire" from Samhain Publishing).

If you're a fantasy fan, I'm betting you'll thoroughly enjoy her books.

Yesterday, Brandy asked (in comments): Are you buying items you regularly use if you have a coupon, or are you buying items that you haven't used before because you have a coupon?

Before I started watching "Extreme Couponing", I would idly go through the coupons and clip two or three for items I buy anyway and then use them the next time I went to the store. Yes, I saved my $.075 or whatever, but what I've learned since then has been two-fold.

First: I really don't have a lot of brand loyalty. I'll use Colgate or Crest or Aim or whatever for toothpaste (and toothbrushes ... OralB or Reach or Colgate -- it's all the same to me).

Second: You never, never, EVER use a coupon on a regular priced item. You combine them with sales.

What this means to me is that I clip about 90% of the coupons in the flyers now. There are some things I know I'll never use (allergy medicine, contact solution, diapers, denture adhesive, etc) so I skip those, but if it's something I *might* use, out it comes. They're organized by type of item (Food, personal care, household cleaning, pet, etc) first and then by specific item (toothpaste, canned vegetables, laundry soap) and THEN I paperclip brands together (all my Colgate toothpaste coupons, all my Tide coupons). Though many couponers recommend NOT clipping, I can't rely exclusively on the websites to tell me what date of flyers goes with what sale. It's just easier for me to compare flyers to my coupons. PLUS, there have been times I've been out shopping and stumble across an unadvertised sale (like the Ken's Dressing at Shaws) and if I didn't have my coupons clipped (and with me), I'd miss out.

So, Brandy, long story short? I spend a few hours a week perusing the sales flyers for our three local grocery stores and our three local drugstores for sales and compare it to my coupons. If it's something I think I'll use (I'm going today to Walgreens and getting two big bottles of Listerine for $0.50 after coupon ... I don't usually USE Listerine, but at that price I just might give it a try *G*) and it's a good price (like a few cents or free), I pick it up. In a pinch, if I have to use a different brand of sanitary napkins or toilet paper than I usually do, it's okay.

Right now, I'm still having to buy some things at full price because I haven't been doing this that long. But, as time passes and my coupon supply AND my supply of goods expands, I expect that to end. So, yes, I buy things I may not need right away (I bought six bottles of dish soap the other day ... it'll take me a while to go through it, but I have room to store it so why not buy it when it's almost free?).

Still, I'm not like the ladies I saw on the show... one who has something like 75 things of diapers and NO kids. Or the lady who has hundreds of cat treats, but no cat (they paid her to buy them -- $0.05 per each to take them out of the store after coupon). I *hope* those ladies donate their goods to a local women's shelter and animal shelter...

It can be time consuming, but I'm all about saving money. The sooner we have our house paid off, the sooner we have a decent amount in savings, the sooner my DH can quit working 70 hours a week at a job he hates and enjoy his life. So, it's worth a few hours a week.


You Are Steady

You value your own opinion over the opinions of others. You know when you're right.

You trust your intuition. So far it has a good track record of not leading you astray.

You prefer logical to emotional appeals. You like well structured arguments.

You are very clean and tidy. You take pride in taking good care of your possessions.

Um.. yeah. That's pretty spot on.


Monday, May 09, 2011

Monday Again

Maria Zannini is interviewing my old editor, Deb Nemeth at her blog today. You should go check it out.

My weekend was quiet and though I'm not entirely out of my funk, I'm working on it.

I did do some couponing yesterday morning at Rite Aid and Walgreens.

At RiteAid, I got Carefree pantyliners free after coupon, Speed Stick deodorant for $.50/ea after coupon, and three packs of Irish Spring soap for $.75/ea after coupon.

At Walgreens, I got Mitchum deodorant for $.99/ea after coupon and granola bars for $1/box after coupon.

It was good.

Today we're going to hit Shaws grocery stores for Ken's Dressings (which we love). They're on sale for $1.99/bottle and I have a $1 off coupon. Yay us.


It's the little things in life that matter.


Your Summer Vacation is London

You are pretty conventional when it comes down to it. You have mainstream tastes and interests.

You're looking for something a little different to shake things up... but nothing too foreign.

You consider yourself to be a normal person. You fit well into this world.

You have high standards, and you are fair to everyone. Manners are important to you, even if that's old fashioned.

That's all true...


Friday, May 06, 2011

In My Cave

funny pictures - A  depressed  jus  hit  me.  Needs  a  cumfy,  cuddel  an  catnip.  Pleeze  tu  gib  me?

Having one of those moments and when I have them, the best thing to do is hang out in my cave until it goes away. So ... I'm taking the day off blogging... will be back on Monday. Wishing you all a lovely weekend. Hope the weather is gorgeous for you!


Your House is Ruled by Mars and Pluto

You don't feel comfortable in large crowds of any sort. You get overwhelmed and exhausted.

You may seem quiet and withdrawn, but you're paying attention to every single thing around you.

You are highly principled in your actions. Ethics guide every decision you make.

You are service-oriented. You are willing to pitch in if it helps others.

Oddly, that's pretty close to right. Weird.


Thursday, May 05, 2011

Tick Tick

God in His wisdom made the fly
And then forgot to tell us why.
~Ogden Nash, "The Fly"

Today was pretty much a repeat of the day before, only it was raining. LOL...

Quiet (YAY!), routine (YAY!).

I did have some ickiness first thing in the morning. Found a tick on Dakota, pulled it and en route to the potty to dump it, DD finds another one. So, I dump tick #1 and return, pull tick #2, dump ... and DD finds another.

And another.

And another.

We pulled -- in total -- TEN ticks off the dog. By the time I was done, she was a quivering mass of canine jello. She was shaking, drooling and her tail was tucked so far between her legs she looked like she didn't have one. I felt terrible, but the ticks had to be yanked. She was well rewarded after :-)

Here's the problem. First, the flea and tick meds (like Frontline and Vectra) burn her skin BADLY. I've tried them all. Not to mention that there is some evidence that they can cause cancer (they are, after all, a pesticide that we're adding to their bloodstream. If it was totally safe, they'd recommend humans use it ... yes?). I've lost one dog to cancer and will do everything I can to NOT lose another one to the beast.

I've tried some of the natural remedies like essential oils (clove, lemon, etc) that are out there. They are a repellent, not a killer, but I've found that they have to be reapplied on an almost daily basis and they made Dakota stressed (she paces, drools and won't settle for hours after I apply them... even if I reduce the dose).

Normally, simply checking her for ticks works. But this year, they are especially bad, and apparently they're everywhere, including the lawn. DH and I have BOTH had ticks on us already this season, and we weren't hiking in the woods.

My next try is Skin So Soft. The smell is a little less obnoxious than the essential oils and I'm hoping it won't stress out the dog.

Ten ticks. :::shudders:::


You Are Good

You have an ethical code that you live by. You think it's important to be a good person.

You are idealistic, and you don't really care if your ideals are unrealistic.

You are a complex and deep person. There are many layers to who you are.

You seek meaning and purpose in every part of your life. An empty life terrifies you.

That's mostly right.


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Calm Days and Couponing

“Life's a game, all you have to do, is know how to play it.” - unknown

Yay for quiet days!

We had a pretty uneventful day, yesterday. I am eternally grateful. When we're back into a routine, everyone is happier. Calmer. More peaceful.

I made someone laugh the other day at the dog park when I said I raised my daughter like I raised my dog (she said, "With a choke chain and a crate?"... lol... Okay, so maybe it wasn't EXACTLY the same!). For those of you who watch "The Dog Whisperer" you know that Ceasar is always saying that dogs need "rules, boundaries and limitations". Same with kids.

DD (and Dakota) were given rules, boundaries and limitations. Punishment for disobedience, praise and reward for observing those rules. As a parent, I did my best to be consistent and fair. Inconsistency confuses kids (and dogs). If one day they are allowed to do something and the next they're punished for it, they never know what's right.

I think having a routine is the same. It gives us parameters to how the day should be. And having those parameters makes people (me, at least) calmer.

Speaking of the dog park, I found that one of the ladies there works for Cigna (of the "Monarch Massacre"). She was talking about how "green" they are and was sharing all the green things they do ... so I brought up the field of milkweed, explained about the monarchs and asked if she knew who to contact about their mowing schedule. She did and was going to do it for me. I should find out this coming weekend at the dog park (assuming it doesn't rain) whether she was able to ask them to NOT mow until after the first hard frost. Hopefully there will be no Monarch Massacre this year.

On a fun note, I did my first foray into serious couponing yesterday. I'm not totally crazy -- I have no plans to go the the store and rack up a $1000 bill, then pay $9 for it at the end like the crazy coupon ladies on Extreme Couponing. I'm not going to buy what I don't need. And I don't have 70 hours a week to dedicate to it.

But ... for a few bucks, DD can clip coupons for me. It takes me 30 mins or so to sort through and keep the ones I'll use. Once or twice a week, I'll match them up to flyers, and hit the stores. I'm lucky that I have EVERYTHING in a fairly close radius: CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid are about two miles away. WalMart and Target are about five miles away. I have two grocery stores very close (soon to be three).

Here's what I brought home:

Here's what I paid at two stores:

That doesn't look THAT impressive, until you realize I got back $12 in certificates to spend on my next order. So, I paid in total $27 for $92 worth of stuff (a 70% savings). For a couple hours work. If I hadn't bought the paper towels (which were a good deal -- but still costly: $4.99 after sale and coupon) it would have been even more impressive. *G*

Today, I can get toothbrushes free after coupon at WalMart, and I have several coupons. So... go me. If I can cut our grocery / sundries bill in half, I'll be thrilled. I don't need to get everything for free, but cheap would be nice.

And don't worry, I won't bore you will all my shopping hauls... this was my maiden voyage, though, so I had to share!


You Are Balanced

You are a peaceful and content person. You don't ask too much of yourself or those around you.

You are confident and self-assured. You never try to be someone you're not - you believe that you are enough.

You have a healthy skepticism about the world. You don't buy into a lot of mainstream values.

You've found a better way to live - through deep reflection and understanding yourself.

About 50% right.