Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Year Ahead

Based upon the last post ~ I decided that I really want 2009 to be the year I keep in touch. Send Birthday Cards, send Thank You Cards, send Thinking Of You Cards, Anniversary Cards, and if I don't get a card in the mail to call or email or facebook...!

And then the usual:

Lose Weight
Save Money
Do house work for 15 minutes a day (minimum)
Sing every day
Learn all my music
exercise 15 minutes every day (i.e., walk the dog)
Seriously exercise an hour 3 to 4 times a week
Go to bed before 10pm
Get up between 5 and 5:30 am
Spend less time watching television (need to be more specific... how about - watch my shows on Sunday afternoons when I'm home)
Limit my time spent online
Plan for Christmas every month (making cards & gifts)
Do it whether I feel like it or not!
Have a meal plan (to save money on the grocery bill)
grow 3 herbs in pots AND keep them alive (mint, basil, rosemary)
Stick to the Plan (keep focused whether I feel like it or not!)
Read my bible every day
Keep my prayer list and use it every day
Be grateful. Every. Single. Day.
Write in my journal (sorry blog world, some things I do keep private ;-) weekly

To me most of these are LIFE changes, not new year resolutions -- so, more of a "New Life Resolution" rather than new and/or temporary. This past year I got the exercise trainer, and just need to get back into the habit... which means getting to work early to leave on time... which means going to bed at a reasonable hour so I can get the unpleasant things out of the way (exercise & housework) in the early morning and still have time to do the things I enjoy (bible study, journaling, blogging, emails, keeping in touch) so that after the exercise in the afternoon I have the energy and time to craft (make cards & scrapbook), work on what my goals are for the yard, work on the music and goals with quartet & chorus, cook an evening meal and still spend some time with my amazing hubby.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve 2008

I have to say this Christmas has been very weird.

No tree (a first for me) up. Not a single house decoration out.
Haven't sent or given a card... some work people got some ornaments, and that's it.
Himself and I aren't giving gifts to each other, but we need to give gifts to others...

Mom loved her Heritage album -- and her necklace, and her CD (which will also be sent to Dad after the Christmas rush...)! L appreciated his camouflage rifle bar-b-que lighter. I've not deposited Christmas checks from MIL, and the house is a mess. It just feels incomplete - and I think this feeling is because of all the 'unfinished projects' at work.

I started out with a plan, and good intentions, but sitting in front of the boob-tube increased the feelings of "don't feel like it" - along with the messy house, kitchen, craft room and what feels like my life in general. Doing everything based on how I feel is very dangerous indeed - and is a habit that needs to change.

I'm in a weird place... and I hope everyone is having a more peaceful holiday than I seem to be bringing upon myself .

Monday, December 22, 2008

Catching Up With Photos

These are the "Pebber Nodder" Danish Christmas Cookies ~
recipe to follow... (these are the ones that call for white pepper in the
recipe -- and so far have been a favorite of all who have tried it)
I know they're not much to look at ~ but they're good!

These are the "Cookies in a Jar" Orange-flavored Cranberries & White Chocolate chips.
YUM! (Recipe to follow)

These are "Grandma's Ginger Snaps" or something like that -- very very good!
crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside! One of my favorites!
(you'll see evidence of the white pepper for the other cookies on the counter - ignore the dirty stovetop...)

These are the Holiday Cards we made in the Craft Class in November --
I don't have a picture (yet) of the snowflake ornaments...

I remembered this morning that my new computer at work has a multi-card reader
built into the base... and I can transfer photos from my camera card to my thumb-drive
and take those home and download via USB. YAY!

More photos coming... but wanted to prove that I've done a FEW of the many cookies to bake ... more cookies (and recipes) coming soon!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas in Cave Creek

Drove up to have Christmas with mom and step-dad for this weekend... brought the Heritage Album I've been doing for mom... and I was right, some of the photos in this book of her at toddler and younger age she's never seen before. I couldn't wait to give it to her -- so last night at 11pm I said, "I can't wait" and gave it to her -- and we'll go over to her oldest sister tomorrow to verify locations and dates... Feeling very happy that I did it and it is done!!

I also gave her a cappella company's "Praise and Harmony" CD -- choral singing of a cappella hymn favorites. She's loving it :D She put it on the stereo and music is filling the house. I've been drinking flavored coffee, reading book 4 of the Jan Caron "Mitford" series, eating delicious coffee cake, listening to great music and just hangin' with mom. It is good.

I have one more thing for her -- my friend and co-worker (Artisitic Director of TGC) is from Colombia, and her mother is up here visiting for the holidays -- and her mother (who speaks very very little English) makes these incredible one-of-a-kind and unique necklaces. Last year my friend wore one every so often and said her mother had left some with her to sell, but she never remembered to bring them to me at work... well, last Thursday her mom brought at least a dozen necklaces to our Staff Holiday Lunch Party and I bought 3!! Yikes!! One for me, one for mom, and one for awesome aunt M. who bought me lots of great baking things at Target for my b/day and Christmas.

I have a lighter in the shape of a camaflouge rifle for step-dad.

Do I need to say anymore on that?

I think I want to make some more ornaments... still can't get photos off my camera without going to Walgreens, so photos of the really fun and festive ornaments I made for work peeps (until 1am Wednesday night/Thursday morning -- just in time for the 11am work party... nope, not a procrastinator, not me?!!).


Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday's Thoughts

So ~ I got almost all the components of mom's gift done ~ one more thing to do, which will take about an hour. I'll go over to T's tonight and finish. Didn't get a single ornament done.
* * * * *
When I got home last night (around 9pm) ~ himself starts out with, "Well! Let me tell you about YOUR dog!" and proceeded to tell me that while he was out, the 8 x 8 Corningware dish that held "Bill's Magic Cookie Bars" (or, what was left of BMCBs... about one 1/2-inch row of graham cracker/chocolate chip/coconut/evaporated milk gooey goodness...) was broken, there was crockery all over the house, and blood on the kitchen tile... apparently licking broken glass isn't enough to deter my determined dog from licking and eating anything... no blood left on him by the time himself had returned home from Lowe's -- but Rascal was i.n.s.a.n.e. from the sugar rush and wouldn't calm down... other than being super hyper he wasn't injured, nor did the chocolate seem to adversely affect him.

We started watching "Hancock" (the reluctant anti-hero superhero with Will Smith, Jason Bateman & Charlize Theron) -- which was a much better movie than I anticipated ~ Will Smith is just a good actor, and there was quite a bit of comedy in the movie too. Anyhoo - in the middle of the movie himself took the dog for a 15-20 minute walk because Rascal was so hyper. Then we did the "Run Down The Hall and Jump on Our Bed As Fast As You Can, Then Jump Off and Run Down the Hall Just to Do It All Again" game for a few laps, which seemed to tire him out... but holy cow!!
* * * * *
This weekend we also watched "Chronicles of Narnia ~ Prince Caspian" ~ which was excellent also. I read that entire series but didn't remember a single thing except the part when Lucy sees Aslan but no one believes her and they should travel one way but go another and end up going back and taking the original what-seemed-impossible-but-isn't path...

Some violence... but without being bloody, gory and gratuituous... nobody naked... nobody swearing, although there might have been one "hell" -- yet great special effects and general excellent movie making!! It's amazing what a good story can do, eh?
* * * * *
We have Christmas lights up in the front of the house, a new front trellis fence with one gate done and another being built (another Rascal-proofing measure), but still don't have the Christmas tree up. At this rate when it goes up it probably won't come down until around Valentines Day. *sigh*

Sunday, December 14, 2008

'Tis The Season!

The concert is over... it was beautiful as usual! Our parent volunteers who co-ordinate the entire thing are awesome. My work is all the run up to the actual day... on the day I bring the money for change for the box office & flowers; and I bring the programs... then I sit around and chat to the fun parents... mollify the uncool parents... and stand around looking official... letting everyone see that Staff is at least a presence. I also watch the box office during the show ~ because we often have quite a few latecomers -- even in the 2nd half!
* * * * *
So -- I got up at 10:30 am yesterday and made my list for CRAFT DAY at T's:

Goal #1: Finish Mom's Christmas Present. I don't think she remembers to read this blog very often (or else I'd have more embarrassing comments ;-), but just in case... I got half done Friday night (very very pleased with myself!) and think I can knock the rest out today.

Goal #2: 25 ornaments made. This may be a little optimistic... but whatever.

To Take (In my HUGE black rolling suitcase, no less):
  • Plain Glass Ornaments (to decorate) check
  • Beading Supplies check
  • Bewjeweller & crystals check
  • Hot Glue Gun check
  • Quick Cutz Die Cut tool & Dies check

In my other rolling cart:
  • Some scrapbooking embellishments check
  • Embossing Gun, poweders and ink check
  • Glitter & Aleen's Craft Glue check
  • 3 different kinds of hole punches check
  • The stamps I use to decorate the glass ornaments check
  • Scrapbook Paper to stamp on ... still looking at what I have... may need a Michael's run
  • Cotton Swabs & styrofoam bowls to hold the glue check
  • Fancy Scissors check
  • Personal Trimmer check
  • Adhesive Options: Zig Pens (2), Tombo mono-glue runner (2), Xyron "X", Zots (3 sizes), Double sided mounting tape, -- plus the aforementioned hot glue & Aleen's Craft Glue, Pop-dots (3 different varietes!)
  • Tulle Net (for ribbons on cards) check
  • All My Ribbon (2 containers full) check
  • Colored Pencils check
  • Stamp cleaning Supplies check
  • brushes for watercolor pencils check
  • Sponges for stamping check
  • Extension cord -- cuz they always come in handy!

I still don't have packed:
  • Watercolor Pencils
  • Chalks & hairspray (to "set" the chalk with)
  • cardstock - plain and colored
You would think, after this list... that my craft room and supplies would be empty. But no.

It is hard for me to stay focused on the one task at hand. I've got a few ideas for the ornaments -- but really should stick with one or two at the most...! I also want to make little tags for each ornament with the person's name and year on it -- I have the tag-maker (a brand new punch from CM!) now, which I'm looking forward to trying out.

Oh the obsession...

I still want to make the circle/triangle paper ornaments again, cuz T bought a Sizzix die that cuts and scores the circles -- which will save MOUNTAINS of time to make them!
* * * * *
I won't have time today to post the recipes or photos of the cookies -- but on Thursday night I made "Bill's Magic Cookie Bars" and "Raspberry Oatmeal Bars" -- I forgot the flour in the raspberry bars. They look funny but taste good! the 'magic' cookie bars need some modification before they get given away to anyone ~ but they taste yum-mmmeee!!

So -- I've made 7 cookies (8 if you count the 'bark') in the '25 days of Christmas Cookies' so far... with the concert over I should have the energy to do a few more this week. The weekend will be at mom's ~ and she may be up for doing some of the roll-out cookies... I'll bring up my new awesome non-stick rolling pin! :D

Happy Crafting & Cookie Cooking to all....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Crazy Busy

Hectic & Busy... but a good time.

I've not been sleeping all that well ~ too much to do and not enough time in which to do it!!

But... I'm in a new quartet - so a Big WhOO HOOoooo!!!

We sang on Sunday up in the Phoenix area, and had the 'lay your cards out on the table' talk and rang quite a few chords... and ate some Christmas cookies! They all want the recipes - which is a good sign.
* * * * *
I haven't made any cookies since the Cookies-In-A-Jar recipe - which is delicious... so I can now safely give away this as a gift, now that I've tried the recipe!

I've been home too late to be in the mood to bake -- I would have started a batch tonight at 9pm, but have to get up at way-too-early to go to way-too-far-away work Board Meeting -- and don't have any of the fru fru niceties that I wanted to have for a few of the folks -- but I'm hoping to take care of that this weekend at the CRAFT DAY on Sunday afternoon with my pal T.

Saturday I also hope to bake bake bake and get the things I want to make organized to take to her place.
* * * * *
Friday is a crop, and I'm bringing my new (I still say new, but she's been there 6 months!) office assistant, who scraps a little, but needs to be introduced to the obsession...

And I made plans to craft later on in the month with one of the moms who is a friend from work... so that will be fun too.
* * * * *
I've still not got the tree up (which makes me bummed) and not sure when it will get up -- maybe Saturday... but only if we move some furniture around -- right now we don't have the room.
* * * * *
Went to my chorus' show on Saturday afternoon - it was really good! Spent the morning with my Aunt M ~ we went to breakfast at the Good Egg (yum) and I filled her in on the drama of last year's birthday story... and then she took me shopping -- I wanted some baking supplies so we went to Target and got some good stuff.

One of the reasons I've procrastinated baking is that I don't have the room to do any rolling of any kind... so tonight I went to the dollar store and got a holiday plastic table cover, and will use it to cover the dining table and do my rolling out there.

I do need to do some serious clearing of that flat space, however, first.

After the show we went to dinner with mom and "mom 2" - another "M" -- to a restaurant I've been wanting to try for awhile, but the wait is always ridiculous... so going at 4pm on a Saturday would be a good time to avoid the crowd. Oregano's is very good, with HUGE portions at extremely reasonable prices ~ my 4-cheese pasta was a bit on the dry side, but very tasty... and it came in a baked bread bowl, which was cool!
* * * * *
Well, time to snooze -- these mornings are cold and dark!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

25 Days of Cookies... Decided

I've found the 25 + 1 cookie recipes to try... in no particular order of preference:

  1. Pecan Sandies
  2. Chocolate Chip Kisses (Meringues)
  3. Millionaires Shortbread
  4. Easy Decadent Truffles
  5. Raspberry Oatmeal Cookie Bars
  6. Highland Toffee
  7. Frosted Banana Bars
  8. Grandma's Gingersnap Cookies
  9. Chocolate Brittle Surprise *made these last night
  10. Apricot Tea Cookies
  11. Bill's Magic Cookie Bars
  12. Lemon-Lime Crackle Cookies
  13. Chocolate Crinkles
  14. Dora's Christmas Cookies (to decorate)
  15. Spiced Gingerbread Men (to decorate)
  16. Eggnog Cookies
  17. Lemon Square Bars
  18. Big Soft Ginger Snap Cookies
  19. Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti
  20. Delicious Christmas Cookies (Graham Crackers & Coconut)
  21. English Tea Cakes
  22. Peppermint Kisses (Meringues)
  23. Chow Mein Noodle Cookies (aka "Bird's Nests")
  24. Frosted Butter Pecan Cookies
  25. Pebber Nodder (Danish Christmas Cookies)
  26. Cream Cheese Christmas Cookies

I've printed out the recipes (all but one came from All and I plan to photograph and post (plus review on the All Recipes site) my success (and failures). I need to take a photo of the Chocolate Brittle Surprise... which is very very easy, satisfies the sweet tooth and can be flexible with the ingredients (always a bonus when you're dying for sweet and don't have much in the house!) It is fast, no fuss, no candy thermometers (another plus) -- doesn't look terribly festive for a cookie exchange or a gift of cookies to give away, but I like it. One of the reviews referred to it as "Bark" - which it kinda is like... (not woody, however ;-) Himself didn't seem to be a big fan, but hey - more for me!!

I'm thinking (really, worrying) now about realistic storage and presentation -- and while ziplock bags do wonders, am wondering what the best solution will be in keeping the cookies until it is time to give them away. If I could clear off one small section of counter next to the stove, that would be the perfect place for ziplock bags and/or Ziplock Storage Containers...

I had the kitchen clean yesterday -- now it is a mess again -- I did make some awesome Turkey Soup, however!! Not the healthiest after-much-turkey-what-do-I-do-with-the-leftovers soup, but extremely yummy.

I so don't want to work -- I just want to stay home and clean my house and get ready for Christmas!! (whine whine)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Great Times ~ Great Friends

Yesterday was a really great Thanksgiving at one of my good friends' parents home. Their In-laws were there from Washington state... kids were around... there were dogs... and football... and much fun was had at my friend's expense... and her sister enjoyed having someone else to pick on her with...

The food was good. The day was cool (for a change -- fall like, instead of Indian Summer/Hotter than it should be ;-)... and we have so much to be thankful for.

* * * * * * *
I want to do a 25 Days of Christmas Cookies -- experimenting with Biscotti, shortbread, cookies I've never made before...and then give them as gifts in decorated bags with hand-crafted Christmas Cards. A noble goal.

I figure finding 25 (or more) cookie recipes to attempt shouldn't be hard -- the hard part will be narrowing them down! Ziplock bags and wax paper should keep them fresh in the freezer until it is time to give them away. I've started the list of people I want to give them to, and dates to have them done by in order to get them to those people before I stop seeing them before Christmas...

This project should help me keep my kitchen clean because I hate cooking (especially baking, for some reason) in a dirty kitchen.

At the same time, I want to put together in a much more organized fashion, my own cookbook of recipes that we've tried and liked and that I should make more often. I have a binder of recipes that look good that I want to try -- some of which I have done with much success... but organizing a recipe book is a bit daunting -- categorizing dishes that could be "main" or "side" or even "Appetizer" -- my few attempts at getting it organized have seen me become incredibly overwhelmed, and just get up and leave the table (in search of food to placate my feelings of disorganization and lack of self discipline for not finishing what I start), and then leave the PILES of papers, recipes, binders, pens, notecards etc... on the dining table; which then makes me feel even WORSE about the lack of organization, self-discipline etc...

Right now I'm making Turkey soup from the Turkey Carcass -- my first time, really... I want to try homemade noodles for it -- but not sure I have enough room in my kitchen to roll them out.

* * * * * * *
I watched the last half of the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special last night, and then another Charlie Brown Mayflower Special that I'd never seen before. I like the Charlie Brown Holiday specials a lot! I wish we had "The Snowman" (A British Holiday animated no-words-just-music special over here...) to watch. I hope to get to watch some of my faves... I need to find out from the website what the schedule(s) will be.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

20th Anniversary of my 21st Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday... it was pretty quiet... himself got me a 22-inch flatscreen monitor for my 'puter (Yay Himself!!)... Dad gave me money & a cool book "Then Sings My Soul" - 150 Christmas, Easter and All-Time Favorite Hymn Stories... Mom bought me a pair of shoes... 2nd mom gave me a $25 Gift Card for Michael's Crafts... ex-step-mom (who really is still very mom-like) gave me a watercolor of a sunset she painted herself... very cool... and a couple cards, and a neat bag 'o gifts from one of the cool moms at work with musical motif things.

We ordered pizza last night and watched tv -- and that was about it. I'm making a cheesecake for Thanksgiving tomorrow (since I don't like Pumpkin Pie)... actually ~ give me a plate of mashed potatoes & cheesecake and I'm thankful!! :D

I'm once again burned out/bored at work... same stuff, different day -- and then I feel bad about feeling that way.

But I'm excited about a possible new quartet -- as my friend says, "eager to pursue" it and see what happens!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Obsessed -- sometimes (long)

So -- Sweet Adelines International Convention happened November 4 - 8 (I started this post on the last day of the convention, November 8th while watching the chorus finals) in Honolulu Hawaii. The organization started broadcasting live over the internet a few years ago -- so somewhere in the range of 3,000 women worldwide watched the contest...

Wednesday (November 5th) was Quartet Semi-finals
All the winning quartets from 35 regions around the world in one place to compete - plus 4 or 5 "wildcard" quartets. [Wildcard quartets have the top 5 scores worldwide -- but who didn't win their region -- some regions have some really high-scoring quartets. The Wildcard aspect came about because in some regions the same quartets (and choruses) kept winning... but that region's second place quartet score was higher than many of the winning quartet in other regions.]

Because the 15 top-scoring quartets at international contest do not have to re-compete in their regional contests the next year in order to compete at the international level again, in theory the quartet contest could be 35 + 5 + 15 quartets -- each singing no more than 6 minutes each = 55 quartets. This year there were 50 competitors. That is a minimum of 300 minutes. It takes judges between 5 and 15 minutes to score between competitors... so this is a MARATHON of singing.

The director of my chorus (Tucson Desert Harmony), Dayle Ann Cook, is the Lead (singer) of SparX quartet -- and they made the top 10 quartets -- enabling them to move on to the Finals (which was yesterday). Our region (Region 21 is S. California, Arizona, New Mexico & El Paso TX) had two quartets competing in the finals... SparX, and Affinity - the members of which are another post.

Barbershop singing has a PR problem... if you don't know firsthand, then you think singing barbershop is 4 (old) guys with waxed handlebar mustaches and striped vests with straw hats singing "Goodbye You Coney Island Baby." Singing 4-part a cappella harmony is actually quite hip today! This ain't your grandpa's barbershop, baby!!

CARA - Contemporary A cappella Recording Award (Sponsored by CASA - Contemporary a cappella Society) they have a barbershop category in the contest! CASA is hip, its funky, it has cool young people! There are colleges & universities out there that young people choose because of the a cappella extracurriculars! I'm tellin' ya it is COOL!

Sweet Adelines is one of the most dynamic, supportive and organized women's organizations that exist today. With Vocal Education as a core belief, and hundreds of amazing vocal teachers, educators, and women who exemplify that really -- we can be whoever we want to be -- it is a shame it has to fight such an old-fashioned image. It encompasses women of all ages, sizes, backgrounds and abilities... with the goal of constant "Lock and Ring" in singing -- creating an audible "fifth voice" -- a note that is heard above the highest note being actually sung. Music is such a beautiful marriage of Left and Right brained talents -- the art and science a perfect blend!

Real Women. Real Harmony. Real Fun

This Organization offers constant education regarding singing, leading, strategic planning, marketing & team management -- by women who are successful in their non-singing lives in these areas. Opportunties to develop just about any skill you can think of exist and all you have to do is sign up ... and of course, pay $!

Singing is good for your health. My personal motto is, "Everyone can sing, not everyone has to listen!" Singing in a group creates an energy that spills over into your life, and, to be simple -- just plain makes you feel better about yourself and your life. Getting to chorus after a long (and sometimes crappy) day at work is sometimes the hardest thing to do -- but wow -- afterwards I feel energized, enthusiastic, optimistic and happy.

As we age, singing helps in all sorts of ways... an excerpt from the linked article above says this about singing and seniors:

Singing, particularly in a chorus, seems to benefit the elderly particularly well. As part of a three-year study examining how singing affects the health of those 55 and older, a Senior Singers Chorale was formed by the Levine School of Music in Washington, D.C.

The seniors involved in the chorale (as well as seniors involved in two separate arts groups involving writing and painting) showed significant health improvements compared to those in the control groups. Specifically, the arts groups reported an average of:

  • 30 fewer doctor visits

  • Fewer eyesight problems

  • Less incidence of depression

  • Less need for medication

  • Fewer falls and other injuries

Even lead researcher Dr. Gene D. Cohen, director of the Center on Aging, Health, and Humanities at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., was surprised at how big of an effect the seniors' arts participation had on their health.

"My surprise was not a factor of whether the intervention would work, but how big an effect it would have at an advanced age," said Cohen. "The average age of all the subjects was 80. This is higher than life expectancy, so, realistically, if an effect were to be achieved, one would ordinarily expect to see less decline in the intervention group compared to the control. The fact that there was so much improvement in many areas was the surprise factor."

The seniors themselves also noticed health improvements, said Jeanne Kelly, director of the Levine School of Music, Arlington Campus, who led the choral group. The seniors reported:

  • Feeling better both in daily life and while singing

  • Their everyday voice quality was better

  • The tone of their speaking voice did not seem to age as much

  • Easier breathing

  • Better posture

America, Get Singing!! Belt it out and Feel Good about it!

I have more to say on the subject, but this is a LONG post!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Long Time Not Here...

I'm woefully behind in blogging...

I got back from my voonderbar week away -- and hit the ground running with prepping for the TGC Rummage Sale.

I hate the Rummage Sale.

In case I'm not clear - the Rummage Sale and everything it is associated with... -- is detestable.

I enjoy going to other folks' rummage sales... yard sales... etc... It gives a peek into how strange people live (and by strange I mean unknown... and sometimes weird).

Last year we made $3,000 on the Rummage Sale and for all the agonizing over the lack of help sorting and pricing through the donations that over 100 families dropped off (that is a lot of trash... er -- treasure!!) -- fretting over how many volunteers were actually going to be there to help on the day -- struggling with l i f t i n g and c a r r y i n g -- two things which are truly truly odious to me... I figure $3,000 was barely worth it.

Yesterday we'd only made $1,500 -- which really sucks cuz we were more organized, had done more pre-advertising... had our girls promoting on a local radio station the Friday morning before it starting... had signs out... and in the economy we're in one would think we were in a position to do better. But no.

It will be over today. And for that I'm grateful. And in case you're worried that my feelings are not known amongst my workmates -- please do not be worried.

* * * * *

As for my terrifically fantastic vacation -- I scrapped over 50 pages in total -- 25+ for my sister (with some pages done from said sister and step-mom); and 25 pages of my good friend D's 40th surprise party (he turns 42 in February). I still have the random life photos to put on the pages for D's second album... but the party is done done done.

Seeing family was great -- as always. It was a huge bummer himself couldn't come with me :-(
and he was missed big-time by my family. We played Taboo and Catch Phrase and Clue... ate obscenely (though not as bad as it could have been), and I did a lot of laying around -- oh, and did I mention scrapbooking?

We went to Sea World in San Diego -- and I haven't shared with the world the results of my doctor's visit the Friday before I left -- I came away with the knowledge that my knee issues aren't just because seats are too low... my knee cap is sliding out of its groove -- my sis gave me some exercises to help with it -- and walking helps a lot. I mention it now because walking 600+ acres of sea world wiped me out. I mean, I was done by the time we had walked from the car to the entrance... which is so very pathetic and didn't help me feel good about myself. I got some good pics, but still have to get them off my photo card at the drugstore -- card reader at home isn't wanting to play.

I also came away from the Dr. with high blood pressure medicine (I blame the job -- NOT that I'm way overweight and don't exercise --NNOOooooo.... those two things have nothing to do with it!! ;-) -- some happy pills (which I'm extremely happy to have), and two other things that I won't share with the world, but suffice to say that these are things that never crossed my mind in my 20's & 30's. bleh -- I say BLEH to aging ungracefully (disgracefully??).

After seeing family, I went up the mountain 7,650 feet to Big Bear to scrap with 38 other women for 3 days. I've never done this kind of thing before (not that I haven't wanted to!), and it is so worth saving money and doing 3 times a year! I got so much done, had tons o' fun and I was relaxed and truly vacationing... usually I'm scrambling seeing and doing as much as I can when I go away -- and this was just a really really wonderful chance to unwind and be lazy but still get stuff done!

And I was blissfully chilled - cold even! The weather was gorgeous - warm in the sun, cool in the shade, a beautiful breeze... the hotel was kinda cheesy but very comfortable and the staff was friendly and the food was (mostly) very tasty.

T and I are planning to plan a local (but still 'away') scrapping weekend -- I'm muchly looking forward to it!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Craft Class - October 2008

Craft Class Toilet Roll Napkin Rings

(Try to ignore the distracting mess of my desk...)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Voting in Arizona -- morphing to ranting about poorly designed websites

Beware a whiny, whiny rant.... with some valid points :-)

Today's the deadline to make sure you're registered to vote in the upcoming General Election.

Of course, we moved in October last year -- and I just today changed my address via
ServiceArizona's EZVOTER.

It (meaning the EZVOTER website and its services) wasn't advertised in the paper, on the radio or tv that it could be this easy (to change your address or party affiliation online). But I remember seeing the option when I changed my driver's license address (online) a few months ago... and I totally meant to go back, but didn't write it down, so of course, forgot that it was that easy.

But, as it has been publicized last week on my radio station, and on the news Friday night -- that today is the deadline, I dutifully went online with a vague memory of knowing it could be easy... a couple weeks ago -- rather than having to go to a (gasp) building (horror!) during business hours (oh the inconvenience...!) to the police station, the voter place, the library etc... and for whatever reason (like maybe it was too late at night for me to be coherent using a search engine), I couldn't find the right websites. All I got was Pima County blah blah blah.

Well -- THIS is the site I was looking for... easy-peasy lemon-squeezy! Easy, intuitive, informative! So thank you Jan Brewer, Secretary of State in Arizona!! No thanks to Pima County... where this page gives nothing simple or easy -- very small and hard to read if you're over 50 -- and I just noticed the small link with absolutely no explanation for EZ VOTER at the very bottom of the page.

[pet peeve: if you don't know........., you don't know to ask. Put another way -- if you aren't aware that there is more information to be had, and you don't know enough about what it is you're doing and/or how to do it... sometimes you don't have a question -- because: you do not know that you don't know... make sense? I'll talk about Benidorm and travel brochures for package holidays in the UK in another post!!]

*Make the connection in my seemingly unconnected pet peeve and stupid web page-- if you don't know EZ Voter exists, you don't know what you're looking for, and there isn't a simple wee explanation that says something like "Change your address or party affiliation online with EZ VOTER" -- I know I sound like a big whining baby -- and perhaps I am -- but seriously, why go to the bother of putting the link on the page without some kind of publicity about what it does. I'm sure the employees in the Pima County Recorder's office do NOT mind if LESS people call them or come into their office...!*

Which brings to me to a general pet peeve about badly designed, user-unfriendly websites... Don't these people know that if we're looking to do something online we want it spoon-fed to us? (DUH!!) Don't they know we can't be arsed to look it up, drive anywhere, pick up the stinkin' phone.... puh-leeze!! If I wanted to work at it I wouldn't be sitting in my underwear, drinking coffee and eating my breakfast bagel while doing serious work ;-) !!

This website does a valuable, wonderful service and I truly believe in it's mission, cause, the people who work there etc.. but Oh. My. Stars. what a nightmare to navigate. [Of course, I just went there to get the link and it is under construction. hrmph. we'll see....! ;-) ]

All that to say -- I'm quite relieved that I am now legally registered to vote -- because folks, it's gonna be close!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Technology Today

So... after our van was attempted to be stolen (just no good grammar way to write that thought when I'm in a hurry), we had to get the starter mechanism repaired. And there is a computer chip that has to connect with the ignition key (van key) in order for the van to go.

Well -- himself's key is all fine and good.

Mine... not so much. So this morning I had 15 minutes I'll never get back -- thinking the van was broken forever in a weird way that wasn't the battery or that anything was really *wrong* with the van -- when, in fact, I was just using the wrong van key.

My key opens the doors too. It just doesn't make the van go.

Who would think that changing keys (which you think are exactly the same, when in fact they are not), would make the van go.

I tell you -- not such simple times we live in, ya know.

- - - - -
so, now I'm off to teach seniors how to make napkin rings with toilet paper tubes.

I know you want one.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Paul Newman

Hollywood has lost another class act.

frivolous and fun

A Bit 'o fun (since I'm not writing much!)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Oh the Randomness

Life is full!

I'm struggling with sinus headaches = toothaches because of the pressure -- worse on the back teeth that have a crack and are sensitive when I don't have sinus pressure.

Work is way busy -- tomorrow is United Way's Days of Caring -- a great thing but a pain in my backside... too much detail for how tired I am at the moment.

I've been a baaaadd blogger -- so much for consistency!

My knee hurts but it is better.

Had a great weekend at mom's last weekend -- napped, watched movies, ate popcorn... and it was a great rest before the crazy that is now.

Looking forward to my brother & sister in law's open house in October ... lots of family, and I'm gonna be scrapbooking in the woods... so much fun to be had :D. I have such high hopes of how much I can get done in 72 hours (notice I dont' say 3 days!!).

we'll be draining the (green) pool this weekend.

Hubby got great news with work so he's a happy camper.

Rascal is adorable as usual.

I'm blessed, and so thankful.

I've recently been experimenting with EFT -- and it did make my sinus headache diminish by leaps and bounds.

Baronness and Sad Tomato -- would you get your hiney's on Facebook please?! (kiss kiss)

Monday, September 15, 2008


Is something I lack... I'm consistent in that I like to sleep... I like to stay up too late... and I often make a huge effort to avoid something I don't want to do.

I started this blog to help me track how much time passes, and to help me remember what each year has achieved, or not achieved -- I'm a better writer than what goes out there... but often the emotional *crap* (for lack of better word) engulfs me, and I can't see the funny side of anything -- and there are a lot of funny people and situations out there!

I spent a couple hours yesterday finding more Pepperdine alums on facebook -- it is fun!

I've moved my craft room around a little... getting easier access to the music and trying to clear some space for my new keyboard (yay!).

I'm going to a weekend crop soon, and have so many projects to choose from:
  • finish my 3-volumes of college life
  • begin my "Quilters" album in preparation for the reunion that needs to start getting organized
  • Get up-do-date with the Christmas Album
  • Finish my friend's 40th surprise party album (he'll be 42 in February)
  • Begin/Finish my mom's (surprise) album
  • Re-do the Edinburgh Festival album from 1990 (part of college but separate, like Quilters)
  • Get my Bravvo! tour out of three 3-ring binders and condensed into one album
If I finish college, that will clear out a box of stuff... and a table will be free for the keyboard
I'm thinking that makes the most sense right now.

It is going to be a busy week at work... need to get going!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Craft Class Again

We're doing Autumn-Halloween pocket door hangers -- it has been fun putting it together.

Right now I'm sitting in my 'studio' -- I had to find a corner rounder (found it!) and knew where it was, but it was two or three layers of stuff to go through before I could get to the box they were in... So I figure I might as well re-arrange a little -- himself wants my desk for his work-at-home that starts end of this next week, so I'm losing a great (second-hand) desk -- gaining some space -- so I'm trying to think how best to re-arrange.

And I'll be returning to Sweet Adelines, and so have to have access to all that stuff.

I'm going away to scrap for a weekend in October, and it sure would be nice to have all the stuff I've been saving to scrapbook "someday" in page kits ready to go...

Not impossible, and now that it is cooling down slightly (I actually turned the blower of the evap cooler up to 70 last night!!!) I am much more likely to stay in here and get some work done.

- - -
I've not been to the gym since August 14th. My knee is really really hurting, worse than ever before... and I know that walking will strengthen what needs to be strengthened... and do my back a lot of good too.

I got my can of pepper spray (they were out of the pocket/purse size, so I have a MAJOR can of pepper spray) and the silver police whistle -- now for the flashlight and the massive something in which to hang all this stuff and wear while I'm out walking my dog. Cuz when you have a handful of dog poop (which also could be a formidable weapon....) and a dog leash in both hands, you don't want to be worrying about the flashlight and the pepperspray -- but yet you want it handy and ready-to-go.

If I'd left T.'s earlier than 11:15pm (if I'd been leaving closer to 9pm) I would have gone to the gym and walked on the treadmill for 20 minutes. I'm going to do that today. Sometime today. I miss the workout, I miss feeling proud of myself for doing something good for me that I don't necessarily enjoy.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

it's been a busy week...

I sang with a quartet today -- much fun was had by all!!

I had a work strategic planning meeting on Saturday -- lots of good work, lots of plans...

I had my work evaluation on Friday -- it was what I expected but still wasn't spectacular

My knee is killing me -- stupid black slip on shoes

I finally bought Pepper Spray & a Whistle (no more excuses not walking Rascal!) -- it will help my knee to walk.

I haven't been to the gym in 3 weeks -- miss the elliptical. Really!!!

I've decided to go back to Tucson Desert Harmony Chorus (if they'll have me) and begin the journey to International Contest in Nashville next year -- need to get organized, as I hope to go back in October... maybe November since October will be BIZEEE

T. & I made some CUTE door hangers for the craft class this Saturday -- fall themed and halloween themed, and they have a little pocked for a notepad and pen in case you're not home and someone stops by and wants to leave a message! :D

I'm going to bed before 10pm!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day

It's still hot.

I'm still crabby.

I have one good day and like, 9 bad ones.

Self-discipline is miles away.

But my kitchen floor was mopped at 10:25pm this evening.
And 3/4's of my counters are clean and sanitized.
And the only dishes at my sink are two water cups.

And there will be coffee at 5am.

Spent the weekend at mom's -- finished the book I started when I was up canning peaches -- brought back some canned peaches, peach & apple jam, homemade applesauce & spiced peaches.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Working Woes


I'm often at a loss for words to express how frustrated, annoyed, overwhelmed, defeated, disorganized (using the thesaurus now) in a constant state of upheaval, agitated, unhinged (that is a good description) I often feel with how much there is to do. Some of it is the nature of the job, some of it is my emotional state (combined with hormones = whiny, crying & crabby), and some of it is being in the constant stage of change or learning that makes me feel like I'm not ever enough.

I know I'm extremely capable at 75% of what I'm doing. 25% of following through isn't happening, and I had a pretty short blue line (Kolbe). Doing it for a year is just torturing me - I know that I hate it when it gets to a certain point in the details, and seeing how many things get missed because I just struggle with tracking and remembering and forgetting to remember...

I also have learned that the shifting priorities sucks. I had never lived that before and can't say I have any appreciation for it at all (can you hear the sarcasm?!).

  • OGAD - an Opportunity for Growth And Development
    An excuse for ... [I haven't decided yet... any comments?]

  • AGO - Another Growth Opportunity

  • AFGO - Another F-en Growth Opportunity
    My favorite phrase at the moment.

Let's just sum it up to say that my commitment lessens each day because there is only more and more to do, which, after a year, it seems like things should be settling into something manageable.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Life is fragile

Please remember that.

We never know when our lives will be forever changed by the death of a loved one.

Never take for granted... always say I Love You... have the difficult conversations that begin with, "what if..."

Please send good thoughts - say some prayers... my very good friend's husband was tragically killed yesterday in a bicycle accident. A vibrant, energetic, full-of-life retired Air Force pilot turned teacher with two daughters, two grandsons and a much loved brother. Please pray for this family.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Beijing 2008

I love the Olympics. I cry when gold medallists hear their national anthem on the podium. I ache when gymnasts fall. I'm amazed at the dedication, the persistence, the pursuit of a single goal -- the focus and determination... if I could apply just 1/2 of that in my own life to one single objective I've set for myself -- how much I could achieve.

These athletes inspire me. Dara Torres - 41 years old with an amazing body and strength -- wow!
Michael Phelps -- what a cool story.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Not Much New

Where DID the week go?

It's been miserably hot & humid -- work has been a big blah for me... too much to do and too many meetings and too many people in my office... (which means very little work getting done on my part).

- - -
Today's Craft Class we're doing Memory Albums or, more accurately, Memory Pages...
There are only 5 or 6 people signed up -- but I think it will go well.

Now I have to shift my room around so himself can install my window A/C unit.


- - -

Monday, August 04, 2008

...My name is Desert Diva

and I'm an a cappella music addict.

I try to escape it. I listen to other types and genres of music, and even enjoy them. But in my heart of hearts, my soul yearns to hear and sing harmony. Normal harmony -- hearing over 6 different notes sung and my ears crack.

I spend hours on Youtube listening and watching barbershop and a cappella performances.

I try to say I'll take a break from quartet singing, but I am powerless and will be going up to Phoenix for a fun, trial sing with some serious singin' women... one of whom is the bass from the Phoenix quartet (Hearts Afire) I love(d) so much.

If you have not heard amazing a cappella, you probably have gone through life thinking you've missed something... but not really sure what that hole in your soul longs for.

If you've heard even sort of bad a cappella (not even REALLY bad), you've gone through life being thankful you don't have to hear that again. Don't let one or two or a million horrible listening experiences lead you away from the transcendence of your spirit and soul that can come from listening to the old instrument made by God -- the human voice.

Acoustix, some of the best men's a cappella you'll ever hear!

Underage, the SAI Young Women In Harmony Champs (2005). [they're older now and they've changed the name of their quartet to "LoveNotes"] at the time they won, 3 of them were 17 and one was 20 years old!! I was going to post the Youtube video of "And So It Goes", but that song is on their myspace page and the sound quality is much-o better!!

I found Sweet Adelines when I was 22 or something like that -- and I've been off and on since then.

But I'm not addicted to just barbershop... oh no.

DaVinci's Notebook (they broke up) has a very funny song called "Liposuction" - clever lyrics, good harmony, sarcasm at its a cappella best :D

The Flight of the Bumblebee... you've never heard it like this! (The Swingle Singers)

My name is desert diva and I am absolutely okay with being an a cappella music addict.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Edinburgh Fringe

It's that time again... when a city of 600,000 swells to over a million people between the participants and the audience members of the largest annual arts show... from two-seater performance venue (two actors in the front, two audience members in the back of a VW Bug was one such venue one year) to major stage productions - the Edinburgh Festival boasts a traditional Theatre Festival, A Jazz Festival, A Book Festival and a Film Festival -- all going on at once in one of the most historical and beautiful cities (IMNSHO) in the world.

As a student at Pepperdine, I was lucky enough to participate in the Fringe! We put on an adaptation of a medival morality play, "Everyman" (Brian Bremer was the star, and he's still acting today -- I just looked him up on!), adaptation and music by Charles somebody-whose-name-I've-been-trying-to-remember...

[Brian and I took tennis together as one of my final classes... he'd bring diet coke & Milky Way Dark for breakfast and share it with me -- it was an 8am class, which required physical movement and being you know, halfway awake... and if you know anything about theatre people it is we are NOT morning people.... so--- we'd bat the ball for 5 minutes, have a Milky Way break... drink some diet coke... bat the ball around a few more minutes, then sit and talk about nothing -- that is, when he was there ;-) ]

I didn't take full advantage of the festival when I lived so close (smacks self in head), because it cost money -- but even to just go in and not pay for any show was always a fabulous people-watching experience!!

I tried to post a photo -- but my pc is so ready to crash... and the photo was taking forever to load -- so maybe another Edinburgh Fringe Anniversary.

Ohhhh -- and one time I sang a bit of opera ~ "O Mio Babbino Caro" for Eddy Izzard & friends outside in front of a ton of fringe-goers. Quite fun :D

- - -
and yesterday was the 1 year anniversary of the scaredest I've ever been.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

So Far This Week

I'm having a ball on Facebook... quick snippets of catching up with some long lost friends has been pretty cool.

I'm missing singing -- reading The Pitch Pipe (the quarterly magazine of Sweet Adelines Int'l) always makes me want to run back to chorus. Hanging out with C, the bass of my Phoenix quartet and just doing a tiny wee bit of singing with her in the car makes me really really miss it.... *sigh* -- and I waiver between immersing myself in music or spreading myself over the other talents and things I want to do. Focus is a hard concept for me to master.

So much fun to be had!

Himself just got word from his work yesterday that he'll be working from home -- I'm green with envy. There will be a web-cam so he will have to be dressed -- when this concept was mentioned as a possibility a few weeks ago I stipulated he'd still have to shower every day (!). So plans are being made to finish 'his' room and make it really into an office. We'll be adding Cox digital phone to our package, and his company will pay for phone and internet costs... woot!! And with what he'll be saving in gas and lunch, we think that will be around $250 a month.


25 minutes ellipticalling -- with 10 or 15 minutes at incline 4 and 5 -- Killing Me!! Listening to Wicked on my ipod -- I stopped when I got shaky. Yay Me!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Things I Like

I like...

staying up late, not getting up early
Diet coke over ice, not straight from a can
celery with peanut butter or with hot artichoke dip
gel pens not regular ink pens
things color-coded so I don't have to read everything, I can just look at the color
Mountains over beaches
cold weather over hot weather
fall over summer
milk chocolate not dark chocolate
dogs over cats
listening to christian talk radio, but sometimes the music is a bit same-y
Leno over Letterman (and I like Conan too)
College sports over the pros
Burger King over McDonalds
Mexican over Italian
tulips & daisies over fancier flowers
Bookman's (used bookstore) over Barnes & Noble or the other big bookstore chain
doing nothing
being busy (contradictory, no?)
performing over being in the audience
comfort over style or fashion
hoop earrings that stay in my ear as part of a continuous loop (they don't have removable backs that fall off and get lost)
wearing silver most of the times
pearls over diamonds
interesting angles over straight walls (attics & basements vs regular rooms)
hardwood floors
mushy indoor-outdoor carpet
light wood over dark wood (except I love cherry wood)
binders, not hanging files
journal books over blogging (but I've blogged more than I've journalled)
Facebook over My Space
that I don't have a 'style' -- I like so much of everything - bold, soft, eclectic, traditional...
Beatles over Stones

visiting with family & friends in California, coming home, The theme song from "The Greatest American Hero", Pie a la mode, foot rubs & pedicures, Bill Cosby, Hee-Haw, corny jokes, bad puns, silly conversations, writing, cleaning the bathroom & kitchen (which seems odd since my kitchen isn't clean very often), floating in the pool looking up at the stars, how I feel when I'm done exercising, singing a cappella, singing harmony parts, being casual not dressy, Harrison Ford movies, Friends re-runs, that first drink of coffee in the morning, organizing and labelling and figuring out how something will fit, sticky notes, talking to people about their past and hearing their stories, getting people together who haven't seen each other in a long time...

being quiet and contemplating how very blessed I am.

My Life.

Making Soap

How much fun did I have this weekend?!

First -- Saturday morning worked -- two more girls auditioned for the Tucson Girls Chorus before we have camp this weekend...

Then -- Taught the craft class in the afternoon -- we did Puzzle Frames, and they turned out really really cute -- and the ladies had a good time. My friend T and I are still finding puzzle pieces all over ( my carport, her dining room floor...). She was a star and fed me for three nights, and allowed all our stuff to be spread out all over her dining room -- it is a good thing we started this craft early!

Saturday Night - the bass of my former quartet was in Tucson and we had a fabby time -- dinner at the Blue Willow, she came over and met my dog - saw my house, which himself had spent a considerable amount of time making look more presentable than when I'd left that morning!

Sunday afternoon -- Making Soap!! 4 of my favorite people who are connected to the TGC all went to the treasurer of the board's house and helped make soap: pumpkin, lavendar & luxury mint. It was cold processed and was extremely fun and informative.

Yes, of course I want to start making soap now -- and it takes up a whole closet in her house, so I've decided I need another house/apartment/condo to do my business. Cheaper to buy a "Condo" (former apartment) for $45,000 than rent for $400 a month... of course I investigated!

But before I can formally investigate, I need to put together the binder of 2 years worth of craft projects; the business plan; and probably book a class at at least one other property, and have saved $1,000 for a down payment. How much fun would it be to have a craft space that is big enough to have over 6 to 12 people, be able to have a full kitchen for crafting and eating, and enough space for music in one bedroom and supplies in the other??

Ahhh... nothing like pie in the sky.... pipe dreams... hey -- If I Can Dream It, I Can Achieve It!! :D

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ow OwwOwwOwww....

Yep, workout today kicked my be-hind!

Killer aerobic and weight workout (the first half of which I was queen of the whinebabies...!), I finished with 40 minutes on the elliptical and then about 30 minutes of stretching.

I then got home and fixed killer stir fry with brown rice -- watched a couple "Friends" and then floated in the pool for about 30 minutes -- and even did some leg lifts in the water, and some waist twists -- not sure if they do any good, but it felt great.

My good friend and former bass of my Phoenix quartet will be here Saturday, so will be fixing killer stir fry & tofu again after my craft class that afternoon.

We're doing puzzle frames and that is basically what T & I did all weekend... yes, we're seeing puzzle pieces in our sleep (!)

got to sleep now!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Making a Living Without a Job

~ By Barbara J. Winter
(Winning Ways For Creating Work That You Love)

A book I bought over 10 years ago... to create a job around something you love doing is basically the premise of the book. It has lists of personality traits that make doing this kind of thing easier, and what to work on if those traits do not come naturally.

It has been my goal since forever (my mid to late 20's) to start and run my own business -- the flexibility that can come with it, the ability to work whatever hours suit me (usually from 6pm until 2 or 3am is my best creative time) and make lots of fun creative decisions (name of business, logo, how will I market and advertise, websites... communication --not to mention the actual business product, etc...), the sense of real accomplishment... that truly all the experience(s) I've had will have led to this soul-satisfying, constantly-recharged and re-charging of my creative sensibilities yet is a solid, real and "IT MATTERS" way to spend my energy.

So my friend T mentioned kinda casually - but with all seriousness - that we should put together a book of the crafts that we have been doing for the seniors. Crafts for the seasons ~ 14 ~ A Crafter's Dozen (because more is always better for those times when you don't have enough ;-).

Well, I started a binder for my crafts classes - the intent of which is/was to put together by month the supplies I used, do a write up on the level of success of the project by my audience (indpendent seniors), and have photos of the 'demo' of the project, as well as pictures with the class members and their creations.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Progress -- pages done (but not journalled)

I went to a crop last night and actually put down 6 pages!! I've not been that productive in my own album for a loonnggg time.

It was a fun crowd -- much laughter, some awesome food... good times!

The hostess of the crop has been out of town a lot in the past year -- and had to come home because their house was broken into and the thieves got sooo much stuff! She lost most of her Creative Memories tools - antique and sentimental jewelry, safe boxes with passports, social security cards etc..., two complete silver services (her mom's and her MIL's), along with the every day stainless steel (except for the 5 pieces in the dishwasher).

It is horrible what has been taken, let alone the feeling of violation. We all bought stuff from our CM consultant because then the hostess would get credit and can start re-building her stuff... and 4 of us chipped in to buy her a tool tote as she starts re-acquiring supplies.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Nothing Like Old Friends

So -- on Facebook I've caught up with one of my favorite theatre buddies from Pepperdine -- he was Fagin when we did Oliver, he was in the light booth for Quilters, and we went to Edinburgh for the Festival one summer, putting on a modern adaptation of the old morality play "Everyman" with music... weird and special -- very very funny guy whom I'll call "T" and shortly after we were friends on Facebook, another mutual friend ("S") asked me about another guy -- who played Bill Sykes in Oliver, was an absolutely unspeakably amazing King in 'The Lion in Winter' -- seriously amazing amazing... and fabulous voice too... and he also went to Edinburgh -- then after graduation from Pep went to France and become a Priest... we'll call him "D".

*sigh* we all had little crushes on "D."

Anyhoo -- "S" writes me a message on Facebook that do I know what happened to "D" -- if anyone would know, *I* would... and it just happens that in June there was a 20-year reunion of Pepperdine Year-In-Europe folks -- which I chickened out from going, despite being in Southern California (planned my trip around the reunion but didn't go... another post). The organizers (not an official Pepperdine planned gathering, for sure) had an amazing list of email addresses and were awesome in that they let everyone see everyone else... it happens that "D" went to Florence, and while he wasn't at the reunion (still living in France), he did do an update page and there were current pictures and an address.

So yeah, I had the email and the address... so I put "T" in touch with "D" and gave the info to "S" because she was "Baby Doe" when "S" & "D" did that opera with "D" as the husband. I was originally cast as the not-very-sympathetic wife, but ended up dropping out because it was one too many things going on that semester -- one of them being Quilters.

I love getting people together... especially people who impacted me and my life -- 2010 will be my twenty year college reunion, which boggles my mind. I like keeping in touch, keeping track of people... and there are a number of people in my life that while I don't talk to them every month, or even every year -- I could call them and we'd catch up to the last time we'd seen each other without any kind of awkward.

I'm incredibly blessed having these kinds of friends -- and in this busy busy (unimportant non-urgent unessential busy-ness) world, taking an extra 10 minutes to call someone you've not talked to in a coon's age... well, connections and relationships are what carry us through.

"The best mirror is an old friend" ~ George Herbert

"The best way to keep your friends is not to give them away." ~ Wilson Mizner

"Life is partly what we make it, and partly what is made by the friends whom we choose." ~ Teyhi Hsieh

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Cost of Everything...!

Our Cable bill is increasing - $2 for basic and $3 for expanded... so today I'll be calling and just go back to basic.

I'll miss HGTV... but that's about all I watch. And himself and I watch reruns of Friends & a lot of Two and-a-half Men. Really we'll just be missing a lot of reruns.

So now I'm thinking I *REALLY* need to get to the gym more so I can watch those shows I'll miss on the 4 Dish Network tv's there...

30 minutes yesterday on the elliptical -- just happy I got there!

I went later than usual and while it was still light outside, it is a lot creepier than when there are more people in the gym. I like the gym less crowded inside, but appreciate the crowd when I go to leave and get in my car.

*** *** *** ***
One of my local friends who is also an awesome blogger (and yes, you have an inspiring ministry!) is moving :-( If I ever get to North Carolina, however, I'll have a ton of people I can catch up with (Hi SadTomato!!), some relatives, and this caffeinated singer-dancer-sewing gal!

--- --- --- --- ---
The weather has been a lot cooler (more humid, but I don't mind 85 degrees and humidity!), so I've been in a better mental state... cooling down at night is such a huge thing that helps my whole state of mind.

The pool has been FULL of bugs, and the flying ants aka termites have been mating like crazy... lots of them dead in my pool, but some of them were at work inside my office... atop the curtain rod... yeah -- little tiny winged insects squirming and wriggling... just disgusting... so we sprayed RAID flying insect bug spray, and the next day my desk was full of dead winged insects.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Some More Bragging...

So... on Thursday I did 60 minutes a t o n e t i m e on the elliptical!!!
10 minutes incline:3 resistance:15
20 minutes incline:4 resistance:35
15 minutes incline:2 resistance:25
15 minutes incline:2 resistance:15

I actually did 60 minutes and 30 seconds because when I checked how many calories I'd burned it said 399 -- so I did another 30 seconds so I could say I burned 400 calories.

I am so proud!! And I'm not even counting the 10 minute warm-up I did *before* my weight training session.

Oh Yeah... did I mention I did the 60 minutes AFTER my 30 kick-my-patootie weight-training??!!

And yesterday I went in and did 30 minutes elliptical only -- making it three times this week... and I'm thinking I may even go in today just because ;-)

I have to say my calves are quite sore.... I'm trying to stretch after each session so the muscles don't cramp up.

I'm trying to slowly increase the incline, because that is what makes my heart really start working harder... I'm really strong, but my cardio fitness is way behind.... yes, I am in the "cardio zone" for heart rate the entire time I'm doing it -- my stride is right around 70... but I really really hate going fast -- I like slow and resistance, not fast and I-can't-breathe... if that makes sense.

I've been working out with just two weeks "off" since mid-april, and when I started on the elliptical I could only do 3 minutes. My trick was increase by a minute each time... and if I was really tired or wasn't hacking it -- I'd take a break and then go back for another 3 minutes... just telling myself "only 3 more minutes" and eventually it got to 30 minutes. Some days I just do the 10 minute warm up before working out with weights, and then the 20 minutes required. Pushing myself just makes me angry and whiny, so I'm taking the 'slow and steady' approach and now am feeling really proud of myself.

I took my ipod with me the day I did the 60 minutes -- and it totally helped... of course I "rock out" to Scottsdale Chorus singing barbershop -- but hey, whatever floats yer boat! Or keeps the elliptical rotating... ;-)

Now it is time to get serious about the eating habit change. I'll be making up the menus etc... today... and I think counting Weight Watchers points is a good way to start ~ remembering portion control and I'll be back to 40 days with no meat (fish, eggs and a bit of dairy in the form of mozzarella cheese & low-fat yogurt)... I had to start over after the 4th of July :D

Friday, July 11, 2008

What's on your TiVo?


Carol Duvall Show (7 shows, all reruns)

Law & Order: SVU (5 shows, some old, some new - it is set to only keep 5 at a time and they're back up for when we are really desperate for something to watch.)

Law & Order: Criminal Intent (my favorite of the L&O franchise)

Friends (we watch reruns all the time... the only show we agree on)

Family Guy (himself's pick -- ugh)

Divine Design (Canadian designer is really good!!)

Inside the Actor's Studio (2 shows I've had saved for over a year... need to watch them, eh?)

Stargate Atlantis (Himself's show, but I do enjoy it most of the time)

Gardening By The Yard (5 shows -- I like the host, he's a goof ;-)

Kinda pathetic, actually...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Italian Ice

YUM!! There's a new/old place in town - Zona Ice that has Italian Ice, Frozen Custard & Gelato (all of which are fewer calories than DQ ;-). Last night I met my friend (see "Hijacked!" post) and had a large Cappuccino Cream Ice for dinner. It was delish :D

We set our craft class schedule... we gabbed about the new management at my old workplace... we discussed me being the director/leader of the senior living community chorus...
* * * * * *
I've decided that I'm not going to be going back to barbershop for awhile -- still gonna keep my membership and I still love it blah blah blah... but too many other things that I want to do, and I just have a hard time going to just sing -- I want to get highly involved, and then I say "yes" to too many things and then nothing I am doing gets done to any kind of standard and I feel bad all the time.

I think I have found a voice teacher -- just need to give her a call and set up a time, because I do want to stay 'in voice.' And I'm planning to join a less-intense singing group of ladies in September. And, if next year I'm the director of this senior chorus, I will definitely have my hand in musical adventures!
* * * * * *
We now have a scale that works. I'm so delighted. I am really -- but it has gone up 10 lbs since I started working out ~ which I know is a normal thing when you start building muscle, but still... so in the next couple weeks I'll be getting serious about working our aerobically at my gym 5 days a week, rather than once a week, and making better eating choices. I kinda dropped the ball over the 4th of July weekend and now I'm in chocolate mode!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


So.... anyone out there ever owned a franchise and wanna share some information with me?

Pros & Cons... Lifestyle while you ran the business... income during that time... did you enjoy what you were doing... what would you do differently... what are the strengths and weaknesses of the franchise business you were in...?

Curious Minds Want To Know!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


I met a friend/ex-boss for dinner tonight.... there was a socializing/networking thing going on with an organization I belong to... my friend and I were to meet at 5:15pm -- eat & discuss upcoming projects -- then network. I thought my friend could get some good networking going with these other folks.

My friend was 35 minutes late. I, however, know that she usually runs late and had ordered chips & guacamole... and had brought my work evaluation form to start doing while waiting... meanwhile, the networking thing starts... my friend arrives, we eat and finish eating and are having a lively and interesting time... and the networking table folks finish and all come over to our table to make fun of me and how glad they were I could come and hang out with them all for the evening.... one of them stayed for another hour and a-1/2 and we had a super time - she's really nice!!

After closing the restaurant and being the last ones to leave... still chat in the parking lot for 20 minutes... I call my friend...we laugh... and make plans to meet tomorrow after we work out.

Sunday, July 06, 2008


Yesterday and the day before I watched Gilmore Girls -- ALL DAY. Marathon-like. Two 12+ hour days doing nothing but catching up on a tv series. Slothful to the max!

I have two more CD's to go before I've seen every episode. ABC Family doesn't ever seem to show the last season -- I've seen the penultimate last episode (WAY out of order of the season I'd been tivo-ing) -- but yesterday afternoon I started watching the 7th and final season of this awesome series.

Himself made Donner Kebab (flavor) beef -- which was awesome. One of the things we miss about the UK... traditionally made with lamb, the beef did a nice replacement job! I had a hot-dog on Friday because, you know, it is American and it was in the spirit of Independence Day.

It is traditional monsoon season -- hot, with afternoon and evening storms and lightning. Very cool...but the weather zaps me.

Rascal has been digging up bones he must have buried 6+ months ago, because one of them appeared to have roots sticking out from it. His nose gets covered in dirt and mud, and his paws... well, himself and I laughed and laughed about what a mess he is and how he'll try to sneak the nasty bone (with roots and bugs and mud) through the kitchen, down the hall, and if not stopped, will re-bury it in our bed, most likely. With the dirt being softer (i.e., being mud), Rascal re-buries and checks on his stash of rawhides so carefully buried in the yard.

He is such a great dog. He drops the bone when we catch him, trots over, allows me to wipe the first layers of dirt and mud off his nose, then one paw at a time allows me to try to get the mud out from between the pads & crevices of his front paws. Complacent, resigned... knowing that he was taking a chance bringing it inside, that there was slim to none odds that he'd get the bone in the house without being noticed and caught... he makes us laugh and is overall just a great great dog!!

Happy Independence Day Holiday Weekend!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

working like you don't need the money

If you had all the resources in the world, and didn't need to work for money -- what would you do?

I'd draw, paint, sing, sew, act... and somehow help people by doing it. Help them see a sunnier side of life, of themselves... that it is okay to be silly, and humor doesn't have to dig at someone else to be funny. To share a part of themselves and be vulnerable in a safe environment. And to feel the joy of applause, of making someone laugh, of overcoming fear.

I'd get people together. I love planning reunions.... reconnecting with friends I've not heard from or seen for years -- and would love to be that kind of event planner.

I'd learn constantly -- new skills, discover new authors, new musicians, how to build things. Just be in school or classes all the time.

Why didn't someone tell me during high school when I was thinking about college to not listen to that inner voice that was saying "Get a real major -- art isn't a real major... and okay, you'll get a music scholarship, but really -- what is THAT all about?"

I'm really in a bad mental space right now -- can't seem to shake the negative. I'm blaming PMS and the heat. I'm zapped. Today was better than yesterday... but that ain't sayin' much. Trying hard to get out of myself a bit, but I'm so miserable I can't stay focused. Praying constantly. I'm snapping and grouchy, and tired.

I am extremely thankful for a/c, my pool, and ice cream.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Whiny & Grumpy

When it is hot, I am grumpy. Night before last at 8:30 pm it was 90 degrees. (We got an outside temp thermometer). The pool was 86. Divine!! :D

If I am tired, I am whiny. I was up at 5:30 am two mornings in a row and by 2pm I'm just done.

If I am hungry, then I'm just grumpy but don't really know it.

Yesterday I worked out with the trainer for the first time since being back from my trip -- and my knee hurt from, er, rough-housing in the pool. So it was all upper body. And dang it was all heavy. I did 10 minutes 2.5 mph on the treadmill, weights, 10 minutes on the elliptical at incline 2 and resistance 25; then a break (I was tired!); then another 20 minutes on the elliptical at incline 2 and resistance 28.

Last week when I did the elliptical 3 days in a row my calves hurt so bad... today they don't seem too bad. And I'm not sore from the weights, so it probably wasn't as bad as I was whining about.

- - - - - - -
Conversation Monday --

her: do you have a sunburn?

me: no.... I just don't do heat and have bad skin.

This is at least the 2nd or 3rd time I've been asked about my skin (when I'm not wearing makeup) and not responded all that nicely. Which is how I know I'm one of the above: hot, tired, grumpy or a combination of the three.

Funny how when I don't wear makeup how more people notice how red I am. And I don't sit in the sun, but when it is over 70 degrees inside and out, I get red. Rosacea doesn't help, and while I'm not having an outbreak at the moment, it does give me a lovely year-round ruddy appearance. [note sarcasm]

Wearing makeup in this weather -- why bother... it just slides off. And I wear minerals, which don't slide off the other 10 months of the year.

It isn't high blood pressure (well, it could be, but I've been looking this red since we moved to freakin' Arizona when I was 11). It isn't even that I'm working out all that hard. I just --

do. not. handle. heat. well.

period. full stop.

yes, I'm a little grumpy.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I hate to brag but....

I just made THE BEST stir fry EVER!!

This recipe makes excellent stir fry sauce!!

I'm a stir fry novice -- my last attempt was pretty woeful... but tonight I stir fried red & yellow bell peppers and cabbage in olive oil with garlic & onions - then the sauce, took that and put it in a separate pan that had the sauce and a bit of olive oil simmering; then stir fried broccoli, zucchini, chopped spinach and frozen veg mix with corn, asparagus & a few carrots (I took most of the carrots out since I can't stand cooked carrots - blech).

After stir frying that in olive oil and more garlic and sauce, I put that in with the cabbage mix and stir fried TOFU (!). Me -- and himself loved it!

This was my first time really cooking with tofu - I sliced and cubed it after draining it for only an hour (everything I read says a minimum of two hours, but this was 'firm' tofu so it wasn't as crucial as other types), marinated it in the sauce for 30 minutes and stir fried with the sauce, then finished it up with a bit more olive oil to kinda crisp it up just a little.

I had the peppers already chopped up, so my prep wasn't too bad -- and cooked basmati rice in the rice cooker.

And I watched "Divine Design" during all this too.

I'm just so pleased with my vegetarian meal... and that this will probably become a staple meal in our house (yay -- more veggies!!)

:D :D :D

I'm really excited -- can you tell?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

To Be Clear

Just because someone doesn't understand what you're saying, does not mean you are not saying it clearly.

You may not be saying it clearly enough for that person, but it does not mean you deserve attitude and pissy tone because you're "talking in half sentences."

Sometimes a simple, "I don't understand what you are talking about, (are saying, are trying to say, mean....) will let the other person know that more information is needed. All of these things are nicer and don't put the other person on the defense. After the 3rd time of asking, then you might have the right to be annoyed and pissy... perfectly understandable to then flap your arms and raise your voice and blame me for not making sense.

So we're clear then.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

15 Years in 10 Bullet Points (Ha!)

The Rules: Think back on the last 15 years of your life. What would you tell someone that you hadn't seen or talked to for 15 years? How would you sum up your life? You get 10 bullet points. A list of 10 things to summarize you.

15 years ago = June 1993.

[1]*I finished my Boston to Florida tour in April of '92 and was working at Tucson Lifestyle Magazine (I think). I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do with my life after graduating with a degree in Public Relations except that I didn't want to work in the field of Public Relations. Or Marketing. Or Business.

[2]*I was working/playing with an independent Musical Theatre Company - the founder of which had amazing and wonderful influences on my life. This was also not always healthy. Without calling it a cult, it was, in fact, a very tight-knit and opposite-world-view group. I love them still. (When I say working, don't think we made money)

[3]*I decided to move in with SJ ~ whom I love very much but haven't heard from her in about 10 years. She and I have food issues -- she dealt with them in the anorexic/bulimic way -- I just ate and ate and ate. I could not afford to live with SJ, and was quite unhappy in our living situation. So the way I changed my situation was to go back to school for my music education degree, cuz that is what I really should have done. I moved back home and to the UA on a full vocal performance scholarship.

[4]*After one semester with a terrible voice professor, I quit. The real reason: I didn't want to work at it, and while I did have a voice prof who was not a teacher, that is just the excuse.

[5]*I worked as a Temp's Temp while wondering what in the heck I was doing (I worked in a Temp Office as the office receptionist/assistant and was sent out if/when someone flaked for a job and didn't show up). That ended badly for details I don't remember, but learned how difficult it is to work in a small office and that clear communication is critical to success.

[6]* Summer of Hell -- I worked as a karaoke waitress, a coffeeshop waitress, threw newspapers in the a.m. with my mother, worked part time in retail at Lane Bryant. I don't know when that was exactly, but it was in these years sometime -- when I was living with SJ, I think. And yeah, still doing the theatre. 5 part-time jobs... no money... and throwing newspapers with my mom... aw crap.

[7]* 1995 - quit the theatre, went back and worked at American Airlines and loved it. Went back to barbershop. Living at home. Mom moved to San Diego -- life was kinda hell, actually in many many ways.

[8]* 1997 - met himself on AOL in a random chat room and in 1998 we married and I moved to Scotland until 2004, at which time I moved back to the USA and started working for INFONXX (?) a cell phone information service. Life improves dramatically for many many reasons. After a year in Scotland I started looking for how to make myself happy, and life is a constant surprise (not all pleasant) for my endlessly patient and wonderful himself. Coming to America was sort of an ultimatum regarding how we lived our life.

[9]* 2005 - himself joins me after selling our Scotland house and we made probably $30,000 after all was said and done.... bought the van, himself adjusted for 6 months (which means he bummed around and acquired stuff) while I worked as an Activities Assistant for an independent senior retirement community. Life is fabulous.

[10]* Present - He's been working 2 years for the best call center in our town, making great money when you consider where we live and what he is doing; I'm going into my second year at a job I love (making history here), we just bought our first American House and Rascal, our four-footed fur friend completes our family. Life is life, but really great in the great scheme of things.

stolen from Life is Short ~ Partake in Happy Hour.

Now You Play :D

Some Things Added

I've just added a couple things to the "Things Holding My Attention" list --

[1] Being Green, Frugal, Clean & Healthy
[2] Link to Natural Clean House
[3] Link to Flylady (Fly = Finally Loving Yourself; help for those living in CHAOS = Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome)

Being Green is usually cheaper -- using vinegar, lemon, baking soda etc... rather than the chemicals... easier on old pipes, safer to use in general, and did I mention way cheaper? I struggle with recycling because I don't always move the item to be put in the recycling bin off the counter/surface right away, so it ends up being clutter -- then it has been there so long that I don't see it... and well -- you see the downward spiral of adding to my clutter disease.

So -- I'm not going to obsess about recycling or the green thing, it is mostly related to being frugal.

Being Frugal -- himself and I went to a financial planner a year ago last May -- and we have yet to really put it in place. Lefty (isn't that a great name for a financial planner?) gave us some great tools -- and now that we're kind of settled and making our new house a home, we need to get on the stick (or is that phrase get off the stick?) and start making some progress.

My first goal is to get my student loans paid off. No self-judgement, no beating myself up, just stand up and admit that I have not been the most responsible loan payee (cough cough sputter).
They're over $30,000.00. Yikes. Ouch. Now out there in cyber space for everyone to see. Accountability. Follow-through. Responsible. All those grown-up words. blech.

I like to spend, himself likes to save.
We'll have 3 "save to spend" accounts and himself will be in charge of the "save for the sake of saving" account.
We thought three things:
Travel (home to Scotland)
House (big items)
Hobbies (Sweet Adeline travel & events, woodworking tools, craft events/weekends, tools & supplies)

There is also the Car Account -- when my car is paid off, I'll still put that amount of car payment into an account, and while we may not be able to buy a car with cash on the next vehicle, we should be able to on the vehicle after that.

At least, that is what I think we decided -- it was over a year ago we had that conversation.

Key to the process [For ME!] is reminding ourselves what the goal is -- Lefty recommends that before going to sleep at night, we stand in a hug with each other, read over our lists of "wants"(the things we're saving for) -- to remind ourselves of the reasons we're not buying the iced coffee from McDonald's or the fun bags o' crap from Big Lots.

I'm the one that needs the reminder - the visualization of what it will be like when: -- I have no more payments to student loans; when we have a beautiful garden & Arizona Room, when I have an organized craft/music studio, when himself can build furniture for us...

Being Clean
Flylady. (she's now a link in the same area)

How it works for me:
[1] I can do anything for 15 minutes. Even if I don't want to do it, I will set the timer (!) and for 15 minutes I will clean up my sink/kitchen area. If it doesn't take 15 minutes I can quit, or, depending on my mood, I can extend my zone. I use this for everything I don't "feel" like doing -- which is a lot, I'm afraid.

[2] Soap is soap - swish & wipe the bathroom.
I've acquired probably 25 washcloths because the one I'm done using gets a squirt of generic cleaner and I wipe down the toilet & sink. The shower got sprayed before I got out. (with vinegar! -- a natural disinfectant!!)

[3] I don't have to move furniture to clean, and using a feather duster is okay.

[4] You can't organize Clutter.

There are other excellent tools she helps develop habits with... but those are the ones I try to remember all the time.

Being Healthy
I'm working out -- and now I'm feeling better and it is getting easier, so I'm more likely to keep at it -- AND I have a couple buddies who meet me there.

I'm seriously considering going to a plant-based diet. I need a plan, and my first goal is to do it for 40 days. I'll need to have my list of snack foods, and it will take making my lunch and taking it with me, and again -- having a PLAN. When I start I'll keep ya posted.

That would be huge (because plant-based means vegan, and I'm doing it for health. There are other benefits to the planet blah blah blah - yada yada yada... but I don't want to end up with a medicine cabinet full of medications in the next 10 years).

The China Study is a book that (supposedly) explains how a no-animal-protein lifestyle can reverse some serious diseases (heart, diabetes, cancer). I'm still reading -- and I may change my mind...

but let me say that 20 years ago I really really considered going veggie -- lacto-ovo. I like beef, I like chicken... but I love pasta, cheese (!), eggs (!), rice, beans & almost all vegetables (except for weird lettuci [lettuces?], sprouts (grass), tomatoes & mushrooms) -- I'm open to I think everything else!

ETA: I think Dr. Andrew Weil, author of "Eating Well for Optimum Health" is probably the most balanced viewpoint I've come across so far... and the more I research Vegan/Vegetarianism I appreciate that.