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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best Places to Live

I have this idea of moving somewhere out west - maybe Pacific Northwest. The problem is, outside of tv, I really don't know where I'd go or how much I'd enjoy it. Forbes has an article on the 10 Most Stressful American Cities - those are definitely out. Forbes also has an article on The Best US Cities to Earn a Living and American's Fastest-Dying Cities. The kind of articles that make you say hummmm.

In my mind, I'm looking for something more medium or even smaller sized where I can open a brick and mortar scrapbook store with a large crop room and develop a community of women with similar passions. Do they even still have retail locations with living spaces above? In my fantasy island, that would be ideal.

I'm looking for feedback on Washington State and Oregon - if you live (or have visited) these places, I want to hear about what you found fabulous and what you hated. Please do share with me the good, the bad and the ugly.

Monday, September 29, 2008

PostSecrets

Have you ever checked out this site http://www.postsecret.com ? Each week, the owner updates with new secrets that he receives in massive quantity by mail. He's even published many in several books. At the bottom of the site is a short video of an appearance at one of the universities where he speaks to groups. I think originally the theme started out to help people who were suicidal from holding on to their dark secrets, feeling alone. It's now grown into so much more - a place where people can find out they're not on their own and others also have dark places in their past that haunt them as well. Feel like you need a connection? Give them a visit.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sarah Palin - the Ruler?

I realize twitter is just a microblogging platform - at 140 characters, it's sometimes hard to express fully what you really mean, but one blogger wrote:

"The most awkward interview. Unfortunately she is not ready to rule http://tinyurl.com/54jfka "

I don't know about you, but I've always been under the impression that the VP role is supporting the president - but I've never thought that either of them "ruled" our country. What happened to by the people, for the people? Don't the three branches of government work together in a system of checks and balances?

I know I've been a slacker when it comes to following political news, but I don't recall hearing a whole lot about any "ruling" being done by a VP - or even a whole lot of action from them at all. The president seems to have a bit of power, but even he doesn't work in a vacuum and has the resources of the country watching his performance (and criticizing most decisions he makes whether they are good or bad.)

I don't know about everyone else, but I sure wish we'd see more about the issues and less about the personalities. I only made it through the first question of Friday's debate before I had to go to bed - I was bored senseless. Both candidates were given 2 minutes to respond to the first question (what do you think of the new financial policies about the bail out - which had not yet been finalized) and both spent the first minute thanking everyone from A-Z for the priveledge of using the theater etc. Then they spoke about how nicely the parties were playing together. Give me a break. I sure will be glad once the election is over. The yammering is boring me to tears.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Grey's Anatomy

Well, the season premier was quite the show. Lots of drama. The teasers led me astray and I was surprised with a few of the turns in the show (which is a great thing - at least it wasn't boring). Christine made me laugh with her struck down by cosmic karma joke about her accident. I was quite intrigued by the major who was on this episode and hope they'll have him joining the staff in the not too distant future. He's definitely the right kind of guy for Christine. But no, I definitely do NOT want her trading in her scrubs for camoflague and switching to army doctor. It IS rather annoying that ABC is going to make us wait another 2 weeks for the next episode. They've got to get a grip and become more consistent with the episode schedule.

Another tv scare we had - saw that there were *3* Wednesday night shows we wanted to watch - DVR can only let you have 2 at a time - one to watch the other to record. Thankfully, it turns out #3 comes right AFTER #2, so I'm good there now - the three under discussion are Dexter, Pushing Daisies, and Private Practice. Sure am enjoying that we're back to the new season. Sometimes I wonder if I missed anything great all the years I had pretty much sworn off TV and spent all my free time on the computer or reading novels. Ah well, too late to worry about that now.

Any new season shows have you excited? Spill!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Safe Haven Law

Just read an AP story about a dad in Nebraska who dropped off FIVE kids in a hospital waiting room - using this law to protect him. WOW

Lawmakers initially made this law so women who gave birth to babies and felt they couldn't do it anymore could leave the baby in a safe place without getting in trouble with the law. Makes sense - people under pressure can do bad things and innocents should not have to pay.

Apparently, when the law was under review, they changed baby to child and now we see the results. I guess if you think of some of the reasons a parent would give up the children, many would be valid. The thing with this story is, how do you get five kids and then suddenly think you can't do it any more? I guess with the way the economy is right now, it's not that hard to come up with valid circumstances - lost job, lost home, drug or alcohol abuse out of control...

Where is this society going when this kind of thing happens more and more. With five children, we're obviously not talking about a teenage accident and remorse. Guess WOW about sums it up.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Exercise

The problem with exercise is that your body adjusts to it so quickly - when you're trying to lose weight, there is only so many miles you can walk a day and still accomplish the rest of your life. My body seems to lower the set point every other week by a pound or two and nothing I do seems to affect that. The "muscle is denser than fat" theory really isn't a whole lot of comfort. Yes, I'm in a smaller size, but still, the numbers are not going down the way I dream. And in case you are wondering, no, I'm not one of those 10 lbs to go people - I have several 10 pounds to go and want them to leave ASAP. The budget won't stretch for surgery, so I'm plodding away the old fashioned way with daily exercise and low fat, well balanced, high nutrition eating... ah, when will I see results to encourage me?!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TrueBlood / Sarah Conner Chronicles / House / Grey's Anatomy

We've seen the latest episode - we're a little disappointed. We've read all the books but the show seems to be more pornography than story line. Wonder how the author feels about selling out her creations this way. Was there sex in the stories? Yes, but more the blurry, you don't really want all these details kind. Rather reminds me of the difference between Stephen King's "The Shining". In the book, most of the activity takes place in the perceptions of the characters - in the show, all the motivation and thought goes away and you're left with a limited vision. We'll hang in there and hope they get more story going in TrueBlood, but it's not what we expected at this time.

Sarah Conner Chronicles, on the other hand, is turning into quite the action adventure. Lots of teenage angst as John tries to grow into his role as leader of the free world. The show is fast paced enough to keep us interested, so we'll definitely keep this on the record list for our DVR

House premier was another let down - he was too distracted and there wasn't enough drama medicine for us. Sad to see Wilson going. Can't figure out how they'll redeem the show without him to keep House in check.

Looking forward to Thursday night and the new season of Grey's. Saw the little preview snippet - a baby sure is going to change the show dynamics. I guess the writers are just opposed to happily ever after since none of the characters on this show can ever find a relationship to last. We'll be interested to see where they take these characters.

What shows have you tuning in this new season?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just another manic Monday

Had a great weekend. We've added an evening walk to the daily routine - worked great Friday and Saturday night, but we were BAD on Sunday. Went to a friend's house to do some art and there it fell apart - she made the yummiest little croissants with chocolate inside and also a baked Brie. The croissants were my undoing. Had too many and had another disappointing weigh in this morning - back to my Friday weight. Weight loss would be so much simpler if your body paid any attention at all to your hard work, but it seems to be a battle where the weight picks a 2 lb range and changes within that on a daily basis despite your best efforts.

Weekdays I seem to do better - it's easier to be consistent when your daily routine doesn't offer as much flexibility. Shortly, I'll have to break down and hit ths shower (hopefully I'll be done sweating soon) then get ready to leave for work. Work is definitely an in my seat proposition. After that, it's home, dinner, walk, TV and maybe a tiny bit of computer time... we shall see. Life in the rat race - there's got to be more than this!

Talking about the more than this - yesterday was my church's first Sunday in the newly constructed building. With the stadium seating, wrap around video screens, improved acoustics and concert style lighting, it rather felt like I was attending a rock concert. The good part is, there are now plenty of seats for everyone. The bad part is, my eczema on my hands is flaring from the anxiety of the quantity of humanity around me... sigh... the joys of being slightly neurotic.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Taxes and Abortion

Our morning dog walking is turning out to be more than just a mild form of exercise. During the quiet, early hours of the day, Melody and I can talk about anything. This morning we talked about the parties and their tax plans. As someone who hopes to one day be in one of those high tax brackets, I'm really opposed to the Democrat socialist leanings to strip the rich of their earnings to support the poor. I have no desire to live in that kind of country that discounts people being punished for being successful and working hard. I am also not thrilled about supporting those who will not work. How about a flatter tax the make all working members contribute more equally. I know if I were rich and the Dems got in office and actually executed their tax plan, I'd consider picking up my life and moving to somewhere that lets people keep more of their hard earned money. Where that is, we have yet to figure out, though...

Then we got around to discussing the abortion thing. I know this is a hot button for many of the liberals who think murder on demand is fine. Abortion as a form of birth control is no big deal. Unfortunately, it is a big deal. While some people are quick to condemn capital punishment as playing God, what makes deciding to end the life of an unborn child any less playing God. Surely by now everyone has seen the fetal development pictures. You can kid yourself that a "fetus" is not a real person, but in the end, it's just another life being snuffed out. Are these strong words, probably to some, but to others, very mild. After seeing a video of a rescued abortion child who survived a late term saline abortion, I was just appalled that someone could go 7 months into a pregnancy then try to burn the baby to death. We wouldn't consider the methods abortionists use to kill babies as humane enough to use in our prisons for death sentences of deserving criminals, but it's fine to use them on innocent unborn children? Something is totally messed up. People will protest to protect animals, then march for abortion on demand. It's a weird world when animal rights take a higher precedent than people rights.

As media goes wider and deeper, it's next to impossible to stay out of the discussion. I guess there just comes a time when a person needs to stand for what is right. This seasons election is certainly bringing some of these issues to a head.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

September Kit, Bones

All the kit parts have arrived and we're organizing to send to the design team. I'll work up the preview and share it this weekend. This month's kit is bright and beautiful and stuffed with lots of great embellishments.

Last night we saw the new season of Bones - the episode was rather not up to their usual quality. They were missing the usual humor and even the medical drama was much simpler than the usual cases they handle. Guess that was the plan to address the situation with House and Wilson. Wish they could have come up with a better story line, though... interested to see where they go with the show now...

Not much else to share today. Completed our morning walk and now I'm just cooling down and catching up before I need to get ready for my day job. TTYL!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Exercise and Creativity

Melody and I are doing well with our diet/exercise program. At the beginning of September, I recorded my first daily weigh in on a small desk calendar on my home work desk. Each day, good or bad, I've been recording my numbers in pen. Since September 1, I'm down 4 pounds. That is a happy thing and easy to see and claim because I wrote it in pen - no cheating, no lying to myself.

The daily walks with Buddy are getting better - thankfully, the weather is starting to cool off so the sweat is more manageable. We walk a long trek through the neighborhood for about 45 minutes each morning. It means getting up earlier than I really would like, but it also means I'm kickstarting my metabolism each morning and I can see that it's having positive effects. Whenever I start feeling like it's too little too slow, I try to remember that sticking to this commitment to a healthier me is worth way more than any temporary gratification from fat or calories that might be tempting me.


Back to Eastover, I had an awesome relaxing time with my friends and surprisingly enough, completed 28 12" pages. Some are more photo shares than deluxe design, but I did do a number of pages that were better than average. I have yet to photograph them all and prep them for sharing, but here is one I did and used on my message boards for an online crop last Saturday as an embellishment challenge (use 5 or more embellishments on a page). This layout uses the August kit paper from Mollie and Mac and also a vintage photo of my parents with myself (the little girl front and center in the lace pantaloons and frilly dress), my brother Mike (young child in Dad's arms) and my then infant sister Valerie in Mom's arms. Naturally, I don't remember that exact day, but looking at the background, my best guess is that it was taken up the river (my Granny had a cottage on the Delaware river in Narrowsburg PA). I have lots of happy memories of times spent there growing up, visiting with family, swimming, boating and canoeing on the river and other good things.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TrueBlood

Melody and I are voracious readers - when I heard that HBO had turned the Sookie Stackhouse novels into a series, we were totally excited since we've read every book out in the series and feel like we know these characters. So far, we've seen the premier and all the little bits they've shared on the demand channel as well as each episode as it comes out and we're LOVING it!

Sookie is a special person who hears people's thoughts. Since this developed at an early age, she's spooked many people who are paranoid about her "talent" and is something of a social outcast, even though she's a lovely built blonde with a perky demeanor. Sookie works at Sam's bar, Merlotte's, in a small Louisiana bayou town. Sam is a shape shifter who's favorite incarnation is a collie. Sam harbors a love for Sookie and would like to take the relationship farther.

Thanks to Japanese scientists, a new product, TrueBlood, has been released on the market and vampires, which did not previously exist, are suddenly coming out of the woodwork and becoming part of society in an unprecedented wave. These stories are quite intriguing and very enjoyable, although the sex scenes are a bit more graphic than I'd like to see on TV - then again, this IS HBO and maybe their usual clientele likes it more sexy.

Needless to say, our DVR is programmed for every episode and we're so happy to have a fun new departure from reality show to watch.

Have you seen it yet? What do you think?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Virginia Zoo

Saturday was an awesome hot day with temperatures in the 90's. The company I work for held their annual Family Day at the Virginia Zoo and it was a wonderfully done event. I took my 3 daughters and the one's boyfriend (Mark had to work). We got there just as the event opened, got our wristbands, then headed over to the reserved party area for the employees. Since lunch wasn't due to open for a while, the kids checked out some game booths and won some blow up toys, then got in line for face painting. I found a shady table under the big tent and waited with some cool drinks for them to have their fun in the sun. Lunch was burgers, hot dogs, bbq chicken and other picnic foods and they even had a lovely fresh fruit bar on ice as well as an ice cream cooler. We all ate our fill. Brandon hadn't gotten his face done initially, so he and Amanda went back for that while Melody, Margaret and I played 5 cards of bingo. They had great prizes including Busch Gardens tickets, but we didn't win any.

After that, we took our stroll to check out the zoo. Apparently, much of it is still under construction, so we only saw a limited number of animals. The new layout with the bridges and such is quite nice - the animals, though, were sparse. At one point, Amanda was having issues with her face paint and sweat, so we all went into the reptile house while she went to wash it off. It was air conditioned in the reptile house, so that was a nice break. At the end of the reptile area, you go to an outside area with lots of little monkeys. The stench here was unbearable. Needless to say, we got through there quickly. They also have a barnyard animal area where kids can actually touch the animals - we didn't - but we did do a quick walk through - here again, the smells, particularly inside the barns, were too strong to stomach. Other than a small ocelot, we didn't see any of the great cats. We did see a few Raffikis, but no regular size monkeys or chimps. Not sure what's going on with the zoo, but needless to say, I'm glad I didn't have to pay our admission to check it out.

Since it was so hot, we left after our brief zoo tour. Got home around 3 pm. Even though it was a short and sweet for us, we'd call it a good day - we had a nice time together and I managed to take a suitable number of photos, some of which should print out quite nicely. Amanda is going to do a bit of editing for me at school since she's in that graphics program and has a high end Mac there with lots of great tools to make it work well.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Slow Success of a Lifestyle Change

Melody and I have been working for a month now on our new life program - (almost) daily walks of about 45 minutes to an hour with the dog, some core exercises, lower fat diet and portion control. We're seeing positive results, but they are OH SO slow! The pounds go, and then the come back - the up and downs of hormones are so painful. If the weight would just go consistently down and stay there, we'd both be more encouraged, but it seems that between water weight and the usual fluctuations, it's 2 steps forward and one step back. Overall, I have lost 8 pounds, but I want to lose LOTS more! Ah well - at least I can start to see some success as the flabby areas are tightening up and the clothes are fitting better. Keeping the motivation going is the hardest part. I sure am glad my daughter and I are doing this together. Don't think I could make it without her encouragement. While I stick with all kinds of other things in life that are difficult or unpleasant, when it comes to my weight, I seem to take the easy way out a lot of the times.

Thank God for providing us with people to come alongside us in the challenging times and provide the support we need to hang in there.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

May you live in interesting times

Sounds like we've reached this prediction from the fortune cookies. We've got to be in the middle of one of the most interesting political campaigns in ages. Tempers flare hot on both sides. The candidates seem to spend more time attacking each other than discussing their plans for leadership. It seemed pretty aggressive for Obama to hire a team of lawyers and ship them to Alaska to dig up the "dirt" on Sarah Palin. You'd think we'd have more productive stuff to focus on - like what IS your proposal for health care? How will the energy situation be addressed? What about Iraq and Afghanistan? What's the plan for education in this country? And all those other, larger topics.

I know I'm looking forward to the VP debate. I'm interested in seing how they will do in a faceoff. I'm rather relieved that it seems the media is backing off from the how can a woman be a good mother and VP too ploy. Give me a break! When they ask men the same question, then I'll consider it a valid concern.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cropped like Crazy!

My retreat away was totally wonderful. The ladies who attended were great - creative and sharing with their ideas. The mess hall served us substantial meals. Hannah only brought a bit of heavy rain Friday night then went away. I got re-acquainted with my Cricut, and even though I set out with no particular accomplishment goals, I managed to complete 28 pages for my album! WOW! This was all within Friday starting at 1:30 pm and leaving Sunday around 4:00 pm. I love flexible holidays when you just do what you want to do - might have to change my travel every day plans that I usually run for my time off from my day job.

Watched the premier for Bones - it was very enjoyable and it's interesting to see how the characters are changing. Some of those changes made me a little bit sad, but the main characters evolving nicely.

Also saw the season premier of Sarah Conner Chronicles. Very exciting. Feels somewhat like the plot is spiraling out of control, but who knows what they'll think up next.

Get to do my Finance 100 finals this week (probably first thing Saturday morning to get it done). Sure hope I pass - somehow it didn't all click for me like most of the classes I've taken. Ce la vie.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Off on Retreat

What an awesome way to wrap up a glorious week off work - I'm packing up and heading west for a peaceful scrap retreat. There are only 20 of us in the group - the location is rustic and serene. No TV, no telephones (cells DO work), no internet. Just as many hours a day cropping in the woods as you want. The meal hall is on the other side of a small scenic lake, so exercise comes with each meal. I'll be bringing my yoga mat as well so I can get in some extra special time for myself. Decided to bring next to everything with me so I don't have to pick and choose. Every time I try to pack minimalist for a crop, I end up regretting things I left behind. I have no set goals for completion - I'm just looking forward to a no stress time away where I can just let go and explore my creative side however I like surrounded by close friends.

Sounds like heaven to me!


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Enjoying my Vacation

I've done something really radical for me - I took this whole week off from work so I could catch up with my life and just kick back. Generally, when I plan a vacation, it involves traveling away, participating in frantic activity, then getting home the day before I return to work exhausted. This time, I took time just to relax. I've gotten my homework done, my store orders caught up, had time to think about what to pack for this weekend's 3 day crop away (at Eastover - no TV, radio, internet, distractions). I am so happy to be going and getting this time of serenity to be creative once again. Rather than stressing myself with a minimalist packing session, I plan on packing EVERYTHING I think I might need and just making multiple trips to the car to bring it all in. It's stressful to be uber-organized to me - I am like a bag lady in that I like to have all my likely possessions surrounding me. Tomorrow will be my last post before next Monday, so don't worry if you don't see me around. I'll be off communing with nature. Think I'll bring my yoga matt along and do some stretching as well.

Check in with you tomorrow!


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back to School

It's that awesome time of year again when the kids head back to school and my girls were both up hours before necessary in excitement about getting ready (one is 17 and a senior, the other 13 and in 8th grade).

Amanda did her English 12 over the summer so she'd have a lighter course load for this final year - we have A B scheduling here, so her A days (today) consist of Oceanography, then her Advanced Technology Center for graphic design. B days are fuller with computer (math) and something else that I forgot about, followed by ATC. Margaret is excited because she's got a full year of Chorus for her elective as well as her advanced Math and Science program. Both girls did very well on last year's SOL tests, so I'm one happy momma.

I'm up to week 10 (of 11) in my Finance 100 class and hope to wrap it up with a good grade - I'm not used to having B's on my report card (been 4.0 up until now), but the instructor is not clicking for me and some of the equations don't seem to make sense to me in my old age. Rather than have an anxiety attack about the lower grade, I've decided that as long as I pass the course (I'm using tuition assistance through the company I work for) so it's not coming out of my pocket, everything is good. Not too many more classes and I'll be wrapping this up, although our tuition assistance only covers 3 classes a year at Strayer, so progress is slow. Think I'll jump into Descriptive Statistics next so I can get over it and cross it off my list. Even though I'm not doing as well as I have on previous classes (I take my classes online in an asynchronous environment) I am actually learning things that are helping me understand my own small business, so it is somewhat valuable to me.

Melody and I are doing well with our daily walking and healthy diet program and the scale and how our clothes are fitting are telling the tale. It's rather energizing to have success in your life.

Out of rambles for right now - off to read up more on our new VP candidate, Sarah Palin. See you tomorrow!