Life... Health... Reviews...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chocolate & coffee

DSCF4912There are two things that I can’t live without: chocolate & coffee. Together or apart – as long as I get them. I don’t know what it is about the smooth taste of some creamy dark chocolate it’s a little piece of heaven every time I take a taste.

The same goes for my coffee; the first sip is soothing as it flows across my taste buds and eases down my throat. And I like it fixed a certain way: Strong, but smooth (I’ll keep my favorite brand a secret for now) with two heaping spoons of raw sugar and enough low fat original Coffee-Mate to lighten the brew just enough. That’s my morning cup. Any additional cups that I consume during the day are normally spiked with low fat French Vanilla Coffee-Mate.

coffee mate A good cup of coffee and the right chocolate are, to me, like fine wine. And when you add the right ingredients (like the perfect measure of creamer – and my favorite is Coffee-Mate) it’s liquid happiness. Really.

Tell me: Do you drink coffee? If so, what do you add to yours, if anything? What’s your favorite creamer?

Disclaimer: I didn’t receive anything for free. I happen to be a Coffee-Mate user and (although I don’t remember when or how) I signed up to be on the Coffee-Mate Brew Crew. For participating I earn points that I’ll redeem for stuff. Cool, huh?

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Mail stalker

I guess that’s what you can call me. I stalk my mail. Not in a way that I’m peering out of my window waiting for the mail carrier (well, I only do that sometimes), but in a way that I watch what he puts in the mailbox to determine whether it’s worth my time and effort to actually walk out of the door, down the driveway (in the sun), open the little door, reach my hand into the dark abyss and pull out what’s lurking inside.

If I open the little door and there are a bunch of flat small envelopes then I’m normally disappointed. I mean who wants a bill or just a plain ole coupon? Ahem, okay I’ll take the coupon, but you know what I mean.

This week has been a fairly good mail week. Among the books that came for review I got a bracelet, a t-shirt in my favorite color (RED!) and a few samples. Now the bracelet, which didn’t fit, is gorgeous and I gave it to my teenager (*I also don’t remember where I won it, but when I find out you’ll be the second to know). The tee is from Kenneth Cole to raise aWEARness. I was able to pick the color of the tee and the words as well as choose from the different designs. I can’t wait to wear it, but until then here are a couple of sneak peeks.

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Doesn’t that look darling on Amber?
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She has the daintiest little, ladylike wrist ever.
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My shirt says, “Are you listening or just waiting to talk?” –Kenneth Cole

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That’s perfect for me. Perfect saying and perfect color.

How’s your mail looking this week? I can’t wait to get a dress I ordered from Chadwick’s for $4.99. I hope it looks as cute as it did online and that something fun comes tomorrow. :-)

*Update: I found out where the bracelet came from. I won it from a giveaway at Pajama Mommy Community. Cool, huh?

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Follow the womanly road

I’m glad to see you here and I’d like to ask a favor. See that Google Friend Connect follow button to your right? At the top of the column? Would you please follow me? I had to temporarily remove my RSS feed subscribe, so if you’re one of the very few people who were a subscriber, don’t panic it’ll be back soon.

In the meantime, there are quite a few things I’d like to do around these parts and your help with simply following me – publicly – is so greatly appreciated. In return I promise to always be here for you, write interesting (just nod!) content and let you comment to your heart’s content.

Do we have a deal?

Cool.

Now, if there’s anything you want me to do (as long as it doesn’t involve a webcam and flesh) I’m there for you. Need a follower? Want me to enter a contest? What about a guest blogger? I’m your gal… oh, uh: I’m your woman. ;-)

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Beautifying the home

I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t talk about the changes, improvements and decorating that I want to do in my home. I want to maximize on my space as well as make it comfortable, efficient and beautiful for everyone who lives here.

One of the main things we need is kids bedding. The BedBathStore has some fashionable juvenile bedding that I know all of my children would love – from the oldest who’s 19 to the youngest who’s 3 – at prices that my bank account loves. They carry a Chiffon Ruffle Girls Velvet Quilt Collection that each of my girls would love. It comes in a variety of colors to fit their personalities and, I think, the style is something they’ll all be proud of and can grow into. And that’s just one of the many design choices for girls. I was just as impressed with the choices in boys’ linens; there were some fabulous sport-themed sets that I can hear him bragging about now.

If we’re going to get new bedding then we’d have to (well, I would want to) invest in hypoallergenic bedding as well. All of my children have some form of allergy or eczema, and I know that something like this would help them. And, just as importantly, this bedding – especially the ones with protective covering for pillows and mattresses – protects against "dust mite and fecal pellet" nastiness.

One place in the home that I think should be spruced up on a regular basis is the bathroom. Right now, I definitely need to pay some extra special attention to our bathroom. It’s quite small, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need design attention. I recently bought one of those bath accent rugs, which I think makes a big difference especially when you’re stepping out of the tub or shower.

That’s just a glimpse into some of the things I want to do. Come back soon and see what I’ve been up to in the office. Have you made any design changes to your home recently?

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

If you see me eating slap my hand!

If you recall, last week I mentioned that I thought I may be back on the losing weight and workout wagon when Amber and I worked out together, but now I’m not so sure.

Why the doubt? I weighed myself, which also explains why I am two days late in posting this health and weight loss journal. I could tell I put on a little weight, but TEN POUNDS? Geez… Needless to say I’ve been feeling like a cow lately.

DSCF4860 Okay, without further ado, I believe the last time I told you my weight it was about 165. Yes, I am now 175 pounds. So, I’ve officially gained back 10 of the 60 pounds I’ve lost.

(I think I gained it all in the girls, if you know what I mean. LOL. And I obviously need some sleep.)----->

The main problem? I’ve been doing some major emotional eating. I don’t know what’s up with that. I used to be so good at counting calories and portion sizes as well as not eating a bunch of junk.

It all started with my teenager coming home from college. She loves to cook and goes over the top with baking. And her food is good. And I’ve had a lot of stress. Did you hear about the new baby? And there’s always the money issues, parenting dilemmas and general life stresses. SIGH.

Then there were the birthday celebrations: Anna’s, Amber’s times two and my RP has a birthday at the end of this month. Before the summer is over I will be… GASP… I can’t say that. I won’t say it. That’s just taking negativity, worry and rant to a whole new level.

So, what am I going to do besides blame Amber’s cooking? I’m moving more. Since last week I’ve worked out with Amber again. We went to the middle school track the second time and I walked about a mile, sprinted, jumped rope, did some cartwheels and round offs AND I even did a hill sprint. Then there’s the little bit of dancing around the house.

DSCF4830 Now, the food… SIGH (yes, another sigh). I do well in the mornings. I love fruit and whole grains so I normally have a plate a fruit – blueberries, strawberries, cherries – drink some water and take my meds. (The day I took that pic I even had some yummy kiwi.) Then I eat two cinnamon raisin toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter on one and honey on the other and, of course, a large cup of coffee. Hey, I put raw sugar and low fat creamer in it. That varies a little: sometimes I’ll have whole wheat or low fat waffles with honey or I’ll put some lean turkey or chicken on my raisin toast.

The morning snack is pretty good, but as the day goes on my choices get worse and my portion sizes are enough for a family of four. Okay, that was just a little exaggeration, but you get the point.

The solution: More self control and more (way more!) working out.

Wish me luck. How’s your healthy eating and weight loss going? Please tell me I’m not the only one being delinquent. :-) I know, I know… misery loves company. Come on – we can support each other and hold each other accountable. Share. You’ll feel better. ;-)

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Fix computer problems with remote PC access

One of the best things about having a best friend who is computer savvy is his ability to tap into my computer remotely (accessing one computer from another through the Internet) and find out what’s wrong with it. That was especially handy when I had an older computer because there was always something that was going wrong like program incompatibilities, programs crashing, etc. Now that I have a newer system I can get that same type of assistance with Remote PC Access Software, which allows users to take advantage of remote access and management as well as real-time screen sharing.

Having this software can save computer users time and money. There isn’t the delay of waiting for a technician and once the online assistance is contacted, there’s no worry about downloading and figuring out new software. With this software, it’s easy for someone to remotely troubleshoot your computer, access files and data or collaborate with a work team, which is a definite plus for someone like me who mainly works virtually.

What do you do when you need work done on your personal computer or laptop? Do you take it to a technician, call someone to help you or get assistance virtually?

Share your experiences here.
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Message in a novel

UPDATE/REVISION ALERT I’ve added some text since I originally posted this. It’s below in red. I would love your opinion on the addition.

There are times when I begin reading a novel and I’m drawn right in. There are times when I read a novel that I just keep reading to find out what’s going to happen. Believe it or not, the novel Arthur’s Soul Adventure by Brian R. Chambers caused both of those reactions.

                             

Before I get more into that here’s a synopsis of what the book is about, which I’ve taken from the back cover:

“During the Great Depression in Boston, a young family without parents rose above hardships to show the true dignity of poverty and the power of their relationships. Arthur’s gentle connection with others and humorous exploits, softly convey the story’s spiritual undercurrent. Injured by a severe blow, he died temporarily and was swept into a mystical light. Journeying through heaven, Arthur received an important message that he was told to help others and was miraculously revived. He returned from heaven with ideas about how powerful we truly are and how to overcome our deepest fears.”

What’s good about the book? The message. In the book, young Arthur dies, takes a journey to Heaven and receives a message from his Guardian Angel, his parents who both passed away, and a man he met while in the hospital. What’s the message? That we – each of us individually – are the greatest things God ever made and we can have whatever we want. If we don’t worry and concentrate on filling ourselves up with the love God has for us we can eliminate fear and worry. Regardless of how many times Arthur tries to tell the message, no one believes him.

What’s bad about the book? The dialogue is my main “complaint.” It, and I hate to admit it, isn’t the best written novel I’ve ever read; however, if you can get pass that then Arthur's Soul Adventure has a much bigger message and purpose to convey. I believe the message could have been communicated more quickly.

In fact, it was the afterword, which I think should have been the foreword, that solidifies how special the book is. Don’t take my word for it one way or another, take a gander at it yourself. And, if you decide to do that (here’s my creatively included disclosure), click through the above widget or the link in the paragraph before this one to purchase. Each link goes to Amazon where, if you purchase, awards me a small commission.

Some final thoughts: There was one main point to the book that I think was an important message because it’s one that I’ve had discussions about. I’ll just pull the text directly from Arthur’s dialogue, “… He wants us to know that we don’t need to follow anyone else to find him, but that it’s also okay if we do. We can find our way back home to him just fine. He doesn’t like it when we let other people tell us the way home instead of following our own hearts. And he really doesn’t like it when we believe the people that tell us they know the ‘one and only way home. No one owns God and no one owns the way home. All ways are good and there are many ways. God doesn’t like it when we fight each other about the right way home.”

Complete disclosure: Many thanks to Ascot Media Group, Inc. for forwarding me a copy of Arthur’s Soul Adventure to facilitate this review. The opinions included here are my own and were in no way influenced by anyone else. Click for my ever-so-interesting full disclosure policy.

Oh, and before you go, tell me about the latest book you’ve read.

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Look into beauty school

I’ve always been amazed at women who have the skill to do their own hair and make it look like they just walked out of a salon. I’m always trying to figure out if it’s the products that help them, the styling tools, just the type of hair they have or a combination of everything. Maybe it’s just skill. Now skill with hair is something I don’t really have. Oh, sure, I can braid a child’s hair or whip up a cute ponytail style in a minute, but ask me to make my hair (without locks, braids or extensions) look stylishly trendy and “Houston, we have a problem.”

Although I was never interested in beauty schools I’m thinking it would have been a practical thing to take. Not only would I be able to do my own hair and my daughters’ hair when money is tight, but I’d be able to do hair – even if it were on a part-time basis – to make a little money for my family.

It’s not like the opportunities aren’t available, there are tons of Beauty Schools and Hair Academies in the United States like the Arizona Beauty School. In fact, there are several nearby and I don’t think there will ever become a time when women (and even men) won’t want to get their hair done.

It’s probably more realistic that I’ll go back to school to get a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing, but – you never know – I may looking into beauty school. If I do that then I can stop complaining about my hair.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

All mixed up…

My 6-year-old son just called me; I guess he’s feeling a little upset, confused or unsure. He and his sisters are spending time with their father. When the phone rang I wasn’t able to get to it and before I could listen to the voicemail or call back I receive a text saying Andre wants to talk to me. I called posthaste and hear his sweet voice on the phone:

“Hi mommy, we went to see Grandma Steen in the hospital.”

Grandma Ernestine is his great grandmother.

“Oh, you did? Is she okay?”

“She’s going to be coming to daddy’s house.” I think that’s what he said… and he repeated it. Not too long ago Ernestine’s husband passed away.

“Trina is going to have a baby,” he says. Trina is his dad’s (my ex-husband’s) girlfriend.

“Trina is pregnant?”

“No, she’s going to have a baby.”

He was silent and I guess he was waiting for my reaction.

“Ohh… okay…” And then I changed the subject.

He says he wanted to talk to me ‘cause he missed me. Seems like there’s a lot going on over there and he needed to hear his mommy’s voice.

Me? Well, right now I’d like to hear my mommy’s voice too.

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Roof restoration

One of the things that can improve the look of your house, as well as it’s value, is replacing or restoring the roof. That’s probably one of the main things that I need to do right now. Although I do know there are different types of roofing available, I didn’t know about the different techniques used in roof restoration.

For instance, Roofline has a “new look” type of roof restoration where pointing is applied after the roof is re-colored. The visible difference between that and a new-tiled roof is the pointing, which is coated over using the same color membrane that is used on the tiles.

Have you ever had your roof restored? If so, what technique was used? Take a moment to share while I figure out what to do with my roof. Maybe your experiences can help me.

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Oh my brain!

Every once in awhile (all the time) I remember something important seconds after it’s too late. It’s a frustrating ailment that I’ll call Petula Brain. I mean with my youngest child being 3, how long can I actually use the excuse of mommy brain? The most recent thing that occurred was the deletion of a post I started yesterday. I saw in my Drafts list in Windows Live Writer that there were too posts: One titled Message in a book and one Untitled. I assumed that the untitled one had been accidentally saved when I had to shut down a couple of times yesterday. I assumed that it was an empty post. Seconds after I hit the “yes I’m sure I want to permanently delete” button, I remembered the post.

DSCF4825 {SIGH}

Luckily it wasn’t important and was a I-don’t-know-what-I’m-talking-about random post. Now this is a random post about my brain – or the lack of its function. I’ll just attribute it to my decorating and cleaning of the office: I can’t wait to tell you about that. My lounging, staying up late and sleeping ‘til all hours. Well, that was just today… and the headache that has been plaguing me for eons now. Yup, the stress is still lurking in the background.

DSCF4827 I’m just pleased that the long weekend has been quiet and enjoyable even with headaches, chronic pain and the grumpies coming and going. I’ve enjoyed time with my teen, my man, myself and my home. What more could I ask for? …

Well, there is that $2,000 I need; so let me know if you can help with that… mm’kay?

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

Here’s to wishing you relaxation, great food, fun, companionship, enjoyable conversation and a day to remember and celebrate. Happy 4th of July!

 

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