Welcome to my coffee shop in the cyber neighborhood!

Yes, I’ve been gone a while…a long while. I’ve had some other physical and subsequent mental issues. I don’t really want to talk about them. It enhances the stress and potential depression. I read an article that explains the MIA from blogging probably better than I could.

Isolation: When Our Disease Makes Us Withdraw

So whether it’s starting over or
just continuing like I was never gone…

Welcome to my coffee shop in Cyber Space
Try the pumpkin spice scones!

Contact Nani at

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In Sorrow, Peace

Bittersweet. That’s the word I’d use to describe today. Bittersweet. I was awakened before six o’clock by my phone ringing. I knew what the call was by the time. At 5:44 AM, it had to be the hospice nurse and it was. “I’m sorry to tell you, your Grandma has passed.”

She had been hanging on, almost miraculously, by a thread for a few days. Our prayers had become ones for peace as recovery was finally past reasonable possibilities. Yesterday she was restless and fighting pain. Pain killers and stress relievers were administered to give her comfort. Then this morning, final comfort.

I’m not really up to writing about it right now. Soon, I will share the story of this truly wonderful woman, but for now, I’ll be attending to other responsibilities and absent from blogging for a few days. Knowing it’s coming doesn’t make it easy, but it does make it more bearable. Your positive thoughts and prayers for my family for strength and closure are appreciated beyond measure at this time.

Thank you.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Another Fish Story

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of HealthyTuna.com. All opinions are 100% mine.

The big one that got away, That giant fish we’re trying to catch, pregnant women shouldn’t eat tuna, all myths! That last one is the worst of all of them! Tuna is one of the most versatile and tasty fish you can eat. It’s low in calories, high in good fatty acids, mild flavored and not fishy tasting and is wonderful in recipes hot, cold, mild or spicy.

When you or someone close to you is pregnant, she should stay away from fish that are high in mercury, like swordfish, mackerel or shark to name a few, but tuna is not in that list! In fact, according to recent studies I’ve read about at Healthy Tuna, eating fish during pregnancy can reduce the chances of depression for Mom during and after pregnancy and increases Baby’s brain and behavior development. In the article I was reading, Dr. Ashley Roman, OB/GYN, suggests eating at least two to three fish meals a week during pregnancy

Okay, no, not pregnant here, but I did have tuna for lunch!

My healthy tuna lunch today was a real simple tuna salad on medium-well done, warm toast served up with some yummy crunchy celery. Yes, I’ve been told that I’m one of very few people that ever uses the term “yummy celery,” but I’m among many who say that about the tuna!

My Dad uses tuna in the summer a lot in salads. Back before he retired, when he was in construction and out in the heat all day in the summer, a salad done with tuna, chunk cheese, olives, cucumbers and fresh tomatoes with his homemade vinaigrette was hearty but not so filling to made him uncomfortable after a hard-working day. I remember he used oil-packed tuna when I was much younger, but he switched to healthier water-packed later.

Mom used to make a tuna casserole when we were little that was great! That was another of her fantastic ways to stretch a dollar, but it was so good! I’m going to have to leaf through some recipes and see if I can reconstruct Mom’s recipe for that one. It was done with a soup for the creamy base, or maybe it was milk, but done with tuna and shell noodles with crunched up potato chips on top. I feel all full and warm inside just describing it!

As for me, I do a basic tuna salad that's on Davlicious Recipes, but it’s tuna, sweet relish and Miracle Whip. The salad I did today was smaller in proportion than the one on my recipe site because I used the 80-calorie, single serving envelope from Star-Kist. But I’ve also tried tuna steaks at home and tuna a couple different ways at good seafood restaurants.

Hey look, that’s three different ways to prepare tuna, all of them tasty and all of them satisfying! If there are any expecting Moms reading this, hit print! Everyone should checkout the Healthy Tuna site for more recipe ideas and articles about tuna. As something that’s good for everyone, tuna is the real deal, not just another fish story!

Visit my sponsor: Tuna: Everyone's favorite gift from the sea!

Monday Mug Shot

Hartwick Pines State Park

I got this mug at the visitors center at Hartwick Pines when my Mom and I visited. Hartwick Pines is an interesting study in contrast! They have a little chapel in the woods and alogging museum and the oldest untouched pines in Michigan.

Hartwick Pines State Park is just out of Grayling, Michigan. Mom and I went f0or a small trip, a couple of hours when we were visiting Grandma. “Chasing around,” is what she called it. Hale is a wonderful home base for many touristy things in Michigan and we often went out to do some of those things when we visited. Sometimes Grandma went with us, sometimes she waited for us to get back. This trip was just us.

As usual when Mom and I went someplace together, there was much chatting. There was also the usual looking for hawks and deer in the Michigan woods just off the side roads. There is just a wonderful feeling in the upper and upper lower peninsulas of Michigan. It always brings back memories from childhood and camping.

On this day, the mission was simple. The oldest and biggest pine trees in Michigan are at Hartwick Pines. Sort of the Redwood Forest of Michigan. We got into the park and got out on the walking trail to the old pines.

It was a very scenic walk and one of those great walks where you can hear the small animals on the forest floor, lots of birds and the breeze in the trees. It was summer, but even so, there weren’t a lot of people in the park. It’s one of those things where the park is so big and just enough out of the way that you can feel free and still private.

When we got to the place where the oldest pines were, I was amazed. The truly ancient pines were just huge! Imagine a pine tree that you can’t join hand and surround completely with two people. Just wow.

I smile when I think about it. It’s a great memory with my Mom, but it’s also the opportunity to really appreciate what we have in my own country, in the state in which I was born. We have industry and history, but we still have more area of wilderness than we do cities and farms. We have an incredible wealth of man-made and natural wonders. I’ve been truly lucky to experience so many of them from the small to the large. That little hour-long walk in the woods definitely shows that you don’t have to take a two-week vacation to find a little peace and see something magnificent.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Football Fans Raised in Detroit

The most watched show on TV is Set!

The Detroit Lions raise some very strange football fans. The first rule of being a football fan in Detroit is learn how to have hope and realize that being a Lions fan builds character. Being a Lions fan also messes your head up for going into the adult world!

Smart Lions fans grow up, get married to someone from another state and adopt their team! But that has a whole new set of complications!

Take my brother and me. Dave and I grew up in metro Detroit, raised as good little homers, cheering for the Lions as long as the Red Wings or Tigers weren’t playing. Mom was a baseball fan and Dad is hockey first, other sports next! Dad scored tickets to a Lions game when we were about 11 and 12 and the four of us went. They were 50-yard line tickets at the Pontiac Silverdome, 3 rows away from the dome! They played the Dolphins and I recall the blue ants and blue and orange ants fighting over a chocolate chip. I remember the guy on the shuttle bus from parking to the arena, decked out in Lions gear and cheering loudly, “Rah rah ree, kick ‘em in the knee, rah rah rass, kick ‘em in the other knee!” He was cheering looking at us with a fun smile, glancing up at our Mom and Dad who had mildly concerned looks. I don’t remember who won, but dollars to donuts, it was probably Miami.

So now, a year after the team we grew up with was the first team in NFL history to finish the season 16-0, we have both married into new teams. I’m a Patriots fan by marriage and Dave is a married Colts fan.

Both teams were in the playoffs this year. Just a couple years ago, the Pats were on the verge of a better kind of history, they almost had a perfect all the way season, missing that with a Super Bowl loss, but what a ride that was. The Colts are going to be IN the Super Bowl this year. We’ve made significant gains with our football marriage bonuses!

Ah, but there are new rules to learn that we haven’t managed to get past. I was talking to Dave tonight and he told me he still wishes the Lions could manage a winning season. Well, actually, me too. I think it would be totally cool to see Detroit’s Hawaii blue jerseys on the field in the biggest American TV event of the year.

But the rules that are hard are not marrying into a new team forsaking all others. The Colts and Patriots are rivals! Like a couple of Lions kids understand football rivals, no one wants to make a big deal about playing the Lions! NFL rivalries are something new! Here’s where the problem is with the rivalry. I am happy that the Saints made it and I’ll be cheering for them on Super Bowl Sunday. You see, I’m an alumna of Siena Heights University, we’re the Saints too! My school is a small private college and while we have a great basketball and soccer teams, we don’t have a football team. I like the idea of being able to cheer “Go Saints” at a football game. But if the Saints had not won tonight, I’d be cheering for the Colts. I have family in Indy now, ya know? Besides, I’m a big-time Brett Favre NOT fan!

Dave is also a University of Michigan football fan. So, he finds himself with a natural leaning to support the Patriots because our QB, Tom Brady is a UofM grad. EEKS! If Laura would tolerate that, I’m sure his new son, Robert, would have something to say about it!

David says he’s okay with the fact that I’d support the Colts if the Saints hadn’t won because he understands the Favre thing, but that's easy to say now because he won’t be seeing his wife sheering for the Patriots’ arch rivals in the Super Bowl this year!

Now I just have to figure out how to crash a certain Super Bowl party if I should find myself in Indianapolis in two weeks…


Backup Glasses for Safety!

Who would have thought that an extra pair of eyeglasses could be a safety measure too? No kidding here, I have a couple of bruises on my face, including a really ugly one below my left eye. And I’m grateful to my dearly departed backup glasses that it wasn’t much worse! I’d turned in early and as a result woke up before the sun did Friday. Rather than waking my husband up, I got my backup glasses out of the office. Good thing I have an extra pair! Well, I just kept the extra pair on. Several hours later, I was in the bedroom to get a sweater. I twisted wrong and fell, face first, into the bed frame! My glasses took a lot of the impact. My broken glasses are probably why my damage was bruises and not a broken nose!

I learned two things that day. First, people with bad knees need to twist slower when they are looking for something and it’s really an essential thing to have at least one pair of backup eyeglasses! I’ve blogged about Zenni Optical before and I’ve also read the great review in examiner.com, part of New York’s Info 101, telling how it IS possible to get low cost, high quality eyeglasses. Now I’m about to make that call and get the necessary prescription information to become a customer too!

Zenni Optical has a selection of simple, fun frames that are only $8.00 with the lenses! They also have a large collection of frames in different designs, including rimless ones that are just like the ones I usually wear, glasses that look like my over $250 glasses for under $30. So tomorrow will be a call to the eye doc to get my prescription and pupillary distance. I’ll need that information to order my new backups. I picked a very pretty pair of half-rim glasses, adding the anti-reflective coating that my vanity has to have - $20.91! Even with my insurance, I can’t replace the broken glasses for anywhere near that inexpensive!

I’ve heard great testimonials from friends who swear by Zenni Optical for their backups. Of course, you aren’t replacing the care you get from your eye doctor. You still need the prescription information from an optometrist, but what you are replacing is the big bills for multiple pairs of glasses, which, believe me, are a good thing to have! Of course, if your reserve glasses look as good as your primary glasses, if anything does happen to them, you’ll still look good!

Whether it’s a backup pair or a couple in different colors to match your wardrobe, Zenni Optical keeps you looking and seeing your best for a LOT less!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Challenges, Treats and a Gift

Okay, I am so overdue for my first freebie of 2010, huh? Keep reading, that’s coming at the end!

When I take photos, I download them from my camera into folders. Two sets of the photos go onto my EHD on the Mac. One set is simply organized by month to be archived on a DVD when I have 4.7gb ready to burn. The other set is divided into folders for scrap pages. Right now I have master folders for 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. I’m pleased to say that all of the folders in the 2010 folder are highlighted gray, the color code for “page is scrapped.” May through July in the 2007 folder and Thanksgiving-New Year’s Eve in the 2009 folder are highlighted blue, which means “on laptop.” What I’ll do is work on my catch-up work from the 2007 point and do my “scrapping in the now” layouts backwards into 2009 as long as all the 2010 folders are done.

My page-a-day goal still includes doing a 2007 page first, but then I’ll do the 2009 layouts as I can too. This means I need to get some flash drives in the mail! I promised a couple of those camera wielding guests at the reception drives to get copies of their photos and I could be back to July before I know it! We didn’t hire a professional photographer, I just asked everyone who had a camera to bring it and let me have a copy of their pictures, I’ve got a really nice collection to scrap!

There was a speed scrap last night at Designs in Digital and on Monday, Tracy of Ambowife Designs, hosted the first chat scrap at The Studio, formerly Stone Accents Studio. Both challenges were one-photo challenges. Hmph. In all of those folders on my EHD, there are very few with only one picture! I did have one from the holiday season last year with only one and a plan to include some journaling detailing why a sandwich was important enough to scrap!

Well, I decided to use the same photo, journaling and the same kit for that sandwich and do both challenges. Then I’d decide which one I liked better to add to the scrapbook.

Here is the Monday one:

Credits: Kit – Ciao Italia by Darlene Haughin, CU leaves by Voshebnica

Here is Wednesday:

Credits: Kit – Ciao Italia by Darlene Haughin

If you have a favorite of the two, I’d love to hear it. Leave a Monday or Wednesday in the comments. I’ll take those opinions into consideration while making my choice!

Java 365

What I find I like the most about this year’s 365 project, is that in order to have interesting photos related to coffee, I’m trying new coffee things! This week’s new coffee was my own blend, leftover coffee if you will. I took the last of a bag of Starbucks espresso beans that I had in the fridge and put them in my coffee grinder with a couple sticks of cinnamon. I ground that top drip coarseness and mixed it with an equal measure of our everyday Columbian. That gave me enough grounds for two fantastic full-bodied pots of Cinnamon-espresso-Columbian. Serve it with Coffeemate and Splenda and it’s just a Heaven-sent treat! I’m thinking it’s time to look into some one-pot bags of beans and maybe a vanilla bean and continue playing!

Here is my week three masterhouse…er, masterpiece:

Credits: Nicole’s Coffee by Green Elephant Designs,
Template P365-Java1 by Digitalegacies Designs

This week’s layout is done with a Digitalegacies Designs template and you know what that means! I have a gift to share!

Password is coffee

J1 is a great template for your project 365 layouts or any multi-photo page with some room for more elements or journaling. If you download it, I’d love to read your comments here rather than at 4-shared and if you use the template in a layout, I’d love to see it! You can link to it in comments or via email.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Photoblog Wednesday

Cousin Reunion

On New Year's Eve, David and I met my cousin, Stefano, and his family for lunch. I hadn't seen him in so many years and I wanted him to meet David before they went back to San Marino. Steve and I were close as kids, when my Aunt and Uncle were still living in the States. He was the first baby my six-year-old self had ever held.

I asked my cousin what kind of lunch he wanted and I'd find a restaurant half way between Toledo and where they were staying and was ecstatic with his choice! He had a list of places he needed to visit while he was "home" and he hadn't gotten to Red Lobster yet! We got this shot was taken at the decadent chocolate end!

It was a nice finale for 2009.

Happy National Popcorn Day!

Word art by Create with TLC

(This would have been up before NPD was over, but we lost Internet for a few hours!)

It's National Popcorn Day! Anyway, it way, it was. I found out about this holiday surfing the net. There was a link to a freebie stamp that brought me to Paulette’s blog, Create With TLC . As a popcorn fan myself, I just had to snag the stamp and discovered a wealth of fantastic freebies and sets, modestly priced, in her store. There are some fantastic things you can add to your digital and hybrid layouts to give them great character!

Of course, I popped a bowl of popcorn to go with my Bacon Ranch salad for lunch. I had errands to do and, craving a salad, I drove through McDonald’s after my bank stop, before I came home. Then, in honor of National Popcorn Day, I made another bowl for my afternoon snack! No, I very seldom make popcorn twice in a day and it really was, to me anyway, for the holiday! I made my popcorn with my trusty air-popper, seasoning it with butter flavored cooking spray and Kernel Seasons caramel corn. It’s a completely Wife 1500 approved treat, 120 fat-free calories for 5 air-popped cups, or 2 tablespoons of kernels, however you want to measure it. I usually measure 2 tablespoons into the air popper.

Here’s my layout to commemorate the day!

Credits: Kit – Amica by digiMom Designs, Template by
Lindsay Jane Designs, Word Art by Create with TLC

My scrapping in the now while I’m catching up is going well! I have no photos to scrap for 2010 right now and I did “The Good Lives” with the remaining photos from the folder of the layout I finished up last night

The Good Lives
Credits: For You by Mamrotka,
challenge template by Tiger Lily Digis

And now, April 2007 is done!

Dinner tonight was late. Popcorn is very filling. So, after David got in from a late night, I asked him if he was hungry. He was and we had the ham soup I made yesterday. I love Honey Baked Ham for soup! We got a quarter ham for Christmas dinner and I took the leftover ham out of the freezer last week for diner. We had Christmas dinner, dinner last week and I have one more package in the freezer that I made for another dinner. The end was a decent-sized piece with a bone in it! I cut the end in half and froze the half without the bone. I poured the remaining glaze in the zip-loc with the half with the bone in it to make soup.

Honey Baked Ham Soup

That was yesterday’s project. I browned an onion in a half tablespoon of oil, then added the piece of bone-in ham and a gallon of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer a few hours until it’s broth. Last thing add salt to taste. It’s really simple to make! Anything baked 0or roasted makes very flavorful soup that doesn’t need a lot added. That made enough broth that I had some for dinner yesterday with an ounce of the ham from making the broth and tonight we shared the rest of the broth with mini farfalle noodles and the rest of the meat.

David hadn’t tried ham broth before and I was really hoping he’d like it. He did! I love soup! It’s filling, cozy on a chilly night, low cal and just tastes good! Making soup also makes the price of just about any kind of meat go down!

Now, my sleepy self is going to have some popcorny dreams!

Create with TLC
Create with TLC Shop

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How Did My Wheat Field Do?

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Wheat Food Council. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’m taking advantage of a minute to check back in and tell you about my wheat field!

Remember in December when I told you about How Wheat Works, a great interactive opportunity to learn abut one of the most important crops in America? Well, indeed I did plant a cyber wheat crop and I kept with it after telling you about it.

How Wheat Works is from the Wheat Foods Counciland it’s a neat way to learn a thing or two. Whit all the wheat fields David and I see when we photograph trains, it was very cool to see my bowl of cereal grow up!

It’s a terrific learning tool for kids who will get to choose what kind of wheat they grow by what kind of end product they want. I can also suspect from the number of adults who have Facebook farms, it’s fun for grownups too. I had fun with it! I grew soft wheat to make breakfast cereal. Seeing my products in the cyber store also included some valuable hints for reading the labels and how to know the difference between grain and whole grain products

Now when I eat my Malt-O-Meal hot cereal, I can add to the warmth inside knowing that I’m helping others too. Having completed my journey from the farm to the fork at How Wheat Works, there has been 2 pounds of wheat flour donated to Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization that assists needy US Troops’ families. ADM and ConAgra foods, two of the world’s largest millers and grain cars we’ve seen on trains that roll by those wheat fields, make the donation to Operation Homefront possible.

Visit my sponsor: HowWheatWorks.com

(The Best of) Monday Mug Shot

Okay, I completely forgot I said I was going to do this for busy days. Duh! Yesterday was a day very filled with family stuff for both David and me, so it was not a time for reminiscing or even writing. You know, a short blog in the morning then nothing on a Monday is very odd for me!

So, for yesterday’s Mug Shot, I’m posting from the “best of” series, since I still have a few things I need to do during the first part of today! I hope to get back in this afternoon with holiday greetings for National Popcorn Day and perhaps to share a layout or two with you. Enjoy this mug shot from the archives!

It’s kinda topical in a "remember when the disaster was closer to home" sort of way. Keep the people of Haiti in your thoughts and prayers and help if you can.

Originally posted on Yahoo July 30, 2007

Ave Maria Grotto Cullman, Alabama

I went to Ave Maria Grotto with my Mom on our trip south for 2 weeks in 1989. I’d never been south of Florence, Kentucky before that trip, so it was full of new sights to see! It was also a great female bonding trip, lots of talk, lots of desserts and lots of shopping! That was the trip where I started to collect coffee mugs as souvenirs, with the hope that I’d eventually have a wall with mugs on it.

It was during the World Series between San Francisco and Oakland. Neither of them are one of my teams, but I had a passing interest because Brett Butler, a player I enjoyed, was on the Giants that year. After a crazy day that had us believing that Birmingham was a city that ate Yankees, spit them out and swallowed them again for fun because we kept ending up passing another “Welcome to Birmingham” sign every time we’d thought we’d gotten OUT, a fierce afternoon rain that had me thinking something had happened to my car (Only to have a mechanic laugh at me because I had “those good Yankee snow tires” throwing water on the un-crowned road at the bottom of my car) and a much later than expected arrival in Cullman after a stop at one of the chain in the new restaurant we’d discovered in Kentucky, Cracker Barrel, for diner, we didn’t even turn the TV on. We went right to sleep after checking in to the hotel. I figured I’d get the score for game three in the morning.

That was October 17, 1989 and of course, the next morning, there was no score. Just eye witness accounts about the earthquake, horrific shots from the pancaked highway bridge and a few sound bites from the Candlestick Park, which was evacuated and the World Series put on hold pending a structural inspection of the ball park after search and rescue efforts were complete. The news from San Francisco made it a late start to the day for us, but somehow going to a Catholic Shrine for our first stop of the touring day had become quite appropriate.

Ave Maria Grotto, in Cullman, Alabama is the work of a Benedictine Monk in the early 20th century. It is places of spiritual significance and world landmarks done in miniature sculptures in an outdoor garden setting near to the Abbey Brother Zoetti called home. Now, that’s a switch from my usual attraction to larger-than-life sculptures, but it was an incredible place! The detail in the tiny sculptures just brought the far-off places to enchanted life! If I get back to that part of Alabama, I definitely want to go again...just no earthquakes this time!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Busy Day

There will be a Mug Shot! It just will happen later or maybe tomorrow, we’ll see. David and I have a list of family obligations this MLK Day, which I think is okay. Peace, equality and acceptance of all people begins at home with the family, no? Martin Luther King only asked for people to think with good Christian family values. My opinion, it’s shameful that there was ever an issue with relations of people based on their gender, color of skin, religion or sexual orientation. People are people, all of them have gifts and faults. If we learn to see past unimportant differences, we can all benefit from each other’s gifts and help each other past our faults. Sadly, there’s still a long way to go.

I’ll check in this afternoon with some more wisdom or at least some pretty pictures! :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Work It, Walk It

I am a big fan of home fitness equipment. I’m not saying a home gym, but hey, if you can afford it and have the space, why not? What I mean is having a key fitness item or two at home.

I’ve talked about my beloved recumbent bike that sits just off my kitchen. While things are baking or setting or whatever, I can sit down and give my arthritic knee a rest and also get some exercise, something very good for arthritis sufferers too! That’s exercise I wouldn’t get at a gym because first, I wouldn’t drag my butt to the gym and more to the point, I’ve made exercise convenient to incorporate into my normal routine. I was listening to a doctor on a Christian radio station just yesterday who encouraged that very thing! The doctor’s advice was a bike or treadmill in front of the TV, instead of being a couch potato, be a couch salad!

The truth is, I was a serious walker before the arthritis go too bad to do it. I would wear the knee brace at the end of a mile in the park, but I’d stop at the park and go on the walking trail for a mile every afternoon until it snowed. I used to walk the mile up to the Meijer near home in Northville for small grocery trips too. I started on the stationary bike in the winter because my Mom had one she wasn’t using and, well, the price was right! But, oh, I miss the walking and I’m doing all I can to try to get the knee back to close to 100% so I can do it again.

There is a great Online Sports Store in the UK, Sweatband Sports and Fitness, that has some great choices for in-home fitness “toys.” That’s the way to think about them, toys – something that makes things more fun, better at home! They have among their stock bikes, elliptical machines and treadmills.

A treadmill is something I think I’d want to use when my knee is ready to start doing a little walking work. I wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a path in the woods when my knee tells me “enough!” A treadmill would let me go a little further each time with bars for support. It’s also a machine that can sit in the atrium off the kitchen next to the bike!

There are two basic kinds of treadmills. One is the folding type. Folding ones are a little less expensive and great for areas with limited space, because they can easily be folded down and stored after using them. The other type, the fixed ones, are a bit more pricey, but also sturdier and have more functionality. If you have space for a fixed treadmill, it’s also something you can easily step onto and walk, even just a little when you have a minute or two for a little extra exercise. The fixed are definitely a good choice to keep you from slacking on your fitness goals too!

I think I’ll eventually want the fixed type when my knee is ready for a treadmill. I know I do use my bike a lot more because it’s there and ready to go. Ultimately, every little bit helps! Why not make it easy?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Photoblog Wednesday

Just Kaline

I was doing some tidying up in the living room yesterday afternoon, so Kaline spent some time hanging around Mommy while her brother and sister were taking thier afternoon naps. Really this thrills me! She has finally started sleeping on my hip at night again and is back to watching cat TV instead of watching her new sister watching cat TV. Baby steps, but cat relations are starting to walk again!

Is a New Place Part of Your New Year?

With a new year comes a lot of new choices. As the temperatures are down like the economy all over the country we all find ourselves trying to shovel out. Whether it’s snow places that just don’t see snow, or a pile of debt and rejection letters from resumes sent, part of that shoveling out, your fresh start, could mean moving.

I absolutely adore my current housemate and plan to remain bunking with him for a long time, but I hated moving in with him! That’s the time old truth that you have to be prepared to move! Whether you’re looking for an apartment or house, you can find many choices of homes for rentat Move.com. It’s an excellent first stop!

I’ve talked before about the heartbreak of reading about and seeing pets that can’t stay with the people they love because moving to an apartment meant NO PETS. What about a woman living alone moving for that first job after college? Someone looking for a short lease taking a temporary job in another state? Mve.com serves all those instances and then some!

Move.com gives you the opportunity to search for the area, type of living facilities, price and amenities for the right place for you. But you get more than that, there are great links for moving tips, getting your credit score, even how to decorate to give the illusion of more space and still be able to get you security deposit back when you leave.

I wish I’d have had the time and presence of mind to get some of their checklists for moving. There are things that stayed in Michigan that I swore I put in the box to come to Ohio. I even had to rescue my glass pates from my Dad and Aunt’s place. I saw them displayed like they were crystal on my Aunt’s hutch. A little bit of a snicker for me, because they were dollar store plates, but they sure did look good there! My Aunt was great about wrapping them up for me to take home. Can you imagine if she hadn’t liked them? IF I ever saw them again, I’d have had to buy them back from the Salvation Army Store!

Some day David and I will move. I’m not hoping it’s soon, but when we do, I want to take advantage of being able to move the organized way. Move.com offers the tools to find the place that’s right for you to live and tips for making it the smoothest transition possible!

If you’re even thinking about a move, it’s definitely worth a click!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Mug Shot

Niagara Falls, Canada

Niagara Falls is someplace I’ve been to many times since I was a child. There were family trips and I’ve seen the falls with friends and a trip with my Mom. But today’s mug-story is of a couple of trips I do not have vivid memories of. I have some photos and stories and just a few snap-shots in my mind from when I was very young. Looking at this mug right now, popped the thought, with a smile, of traveling in Canada and language. Ce n'est pas ce que vous pensez! (It’s not what you think!)

When I was little, we always stayed at the Cliffside Motel on the Canadian side of The Falls. When Mom and I were there in the early 2000s, we found the hotel, but we didn’t stay there that time. But I remember a flood of memories washing over me when I saw the hotel. Funny how things can just trigger the mind that way. It was the side view of the hotel overlooking the falls, which by the way also struck me with the similarities of a certain angle of both Lookout Mountain in Tennessee and San Marino, the Fatherland.

I have a couple of photos, one with my Grandfather (Papa) and one with Grandma. Each photo is posed on the brick wall where you can view the falls, each of them taken by the other one with me when I was about 2 ½ years old. I have on a fur hat that tied under the chin with matching furry balls on the end of each string. I remember the hat and I remember that I loved that hat. Okay, so we can establish that my thing for flashy to odd headgear is many years embedded into my personal style!

Grandma always called me “her gypsy” because I was always ready to go wherever they were going. I didn’t need a lot of advance notice and I was ready to move on to anyplace anyone was going, but especially when it was Grandma and Papa. In fact, Mom had retold the story a few times about when I was planning to run away from home.

I was about 4 and was mad at Mom. She couldn’t remember in the retelling why, but it was something I wanted that she had the nerve to tell me, “no.” So I was done with her and ready to move out. I had packed my suitcase: clean underwear, my doll and an empty milk carton. I knew I’d want milk to drink on my journey, but a full milk carton was too heavy to carry in my suitcase. I brought my suitcase out and announced to my Mom that I was running away from home. Mom asked me where I was going in case she ever wanted to find me. I told her I was going to live with Grandma and Papa.

When Mom told me the story she marveled at my accuracy when she asked if I knew how to get there. I answered with “go down the street, turn this way, walk for a while, then turn and walk for a long time…” but I was correct in all the directions and the “little bit” as opposed to “walk a long time” parts. David will laugh when he reads that and ask “What happened” about my accuracy with directions!

The running away ended with Mom’s suggestion that I should call Grandma before I go because it would be rude to just go without telling her I’m coming. On the phone, Grandma suggested that since it was getting dark and I’d probably get sleepy, it might be a better idea to come in the morning and get a good night’s sleep before I walk all that way. I took Grandma’s advice, but then I forgot to run away in the morning.

The hat I described from Niagara Falls saw the Falls more than once. On another trip, it helped to christen a childhood word that my English-speaking family adopted. With the Italian-speaking part of the family, delicate words around the kids were simply said in Italian. By delicate words, I mean, what do your kids call their private parts? What did you call yours as a child?

Let’s talk about the balls at the end of the strings on that hat. I called them “flubbies.” No one has any recollection why I called them flubbies or where I’d heard the word flubbies. Maybe I just made the word up, but it was my hat with the flubbies. On a later trip to Niagara Falls with extended family on the Italian side, we were going to take the boat ride that went under the Falls, Maid of the Mist. I was excited to go, but worried that my beloved hat would get wet. I had the rain poncho hood pulled up and the flubbies tucked safely in the poncho so they’d be dry.

Imagine a 4-year old with big balls on the ends of strings that tied a hat tucked under a rain poncho. I looked like quite the early-bloomer! My aunt’s friend, looked at me and gasped pointing and asking me if I got “boobies.” I said “No! Those are my flubbies!”

Breasts were “flubbies” until my brother and I were about 10 and 11!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

2010, Week 1

Well, it’s a week into the second decade of the third millennium AD…

That’s the key to happiness – make every day an event. Think about it, there has never been a January 7, 2010 before and there never will be one again. In your lifetime, you will meet people who weren’t here for this day. They’ll only know about it by your memory of it. This days belongs to US.

Today was the first day of the semester for me. I earned my first 10 points for the class by posting my introduction in the discussion forum. The forums are how you earn your class participation in online classes. I also now have 50 pages to read between tonight and tomorrow so I can get working on the assignments. So now all of my New Year goals are in process!

I did my catch-up layout for today this morning, picking up the notes for the speed scrap at Designs in Digital. The speed scraps there are due by 5 the next day, to give all time zones the opportunity to join in. I got it done in just over an hour while I had breakfast!

Credits: Kit is Aidan Again by Retrodiva Designs

Today’s “scrapping in the now” layout is the first week of Java 365!

Credits: January Recycle Bin by Mrs JayBob,
Template is modified from Project 52, Week 1 by Dogs Day Designs

After blogging tonight, I owe me one more catch-up LO. I didn’t do one yesterday because I was in the Motherland for most of the day. I went to visit Grandma first. That’s become a visit that’s a little draining for me, but still one I’m glad I do. Her confusion is increasing, but there is so much she still fights to remember and understand. It’s the moments of fire in her eyes, that glance of happiness that I’m there that make every bit of difficulty and every mile of the drive worth it.

Then I stopped at Cracker Barrel in Belleville to meet Tracy and Heather for dinner. My plan really was to leave for home by 8:00 and NOT close the place like we always end up doing. Well, the guy who locks down the rocking chairs on the porch at close held the door open for us when we were leaving. I frustrate myself, but I don’t take it to heart. I know how lucky I am that I have dear friends that I can just get so wrapped up in being with that we all lose track of time. And they are friends that make the same effort I do to be together, it’s that important to us. I got into the house 45 minutes after I left the restaurant, just as I was getting the “I’m home” text from Heather. I texted back “Me too,” and sent an “I’m home” to Tracy who sent back “Okay, me too now,” just a few minutes later. So, now I need to finish up another catch-up layout to keep on track. A small price to pay for such awesome people in my family!

Friend of Wife 1500

I found an awesome diet tool online! LiveStrong.com has some great food and fitness tools. You can choose to use them in your account privately or publicly in the online community. I choose to use the tools privately. I know that a lot of people do well with steady support or by making a detailed public affirmation, actually writing about this on my blog is my affirmation, I just don’t do well with a “diet stage” where strangers encourage you to change. Even if I want to make changes in my life, I don’t want a stranger agreeing with me! Some people like to post a picture of themselves at their physical worst where they can see it all the time to keep them from “cheating.” I think looking at a picture of myself that looks as bad as I can is putting way to much importance on appearance and fostering a negative self image. I prefer to get a really cute blouse that doesn’t fit…yet and have my reward as a goal!

I have my food, water and exercise diary at livestong. They have a fantastic food database for counting the calories and nutrition stats. I even found Bauli Panettone, Mac Snack Wraps and Cracker Barrel sides there! They also have the stats for all of my Trader Joe’s favorite items! So far this week, I’ve hit between 1000 and 1500 calories every day, which is my goal range. That total is low enough to reduce me, but high enough not to lower my metabolism. That was my problem with the South Beach diet when I tried it. I have elevated cholesterol and have had for a while. I have to keep the fat content of what I eat in check. Low carb diets are made for people with high blood sugar and no problems with cholesterol. I knew the recipes in South Beach were a fat content that was essentially heart attack on a plate for me, so I cut the fat out. I was consuming 500-600 calories a day. I felt sick and lost three pounds the first week – then I gained 4 the next week.

At livestrong.com, I get to analyze the stats at the end of the day, and I LOVE analyzing stats! My averages for this week have been at about 100% or less of the RDA carbohydrates and sodium, very low in fat and cholesterol and high in sugar. That doesn’t really surprise me because I’m really conscious of the fat and cholesterol intake. I’ve never had issues with blood pressure and my blood work has consistently been perfect in the area of blood sugar levels. So, if the balance is a little high in sugars but low in fats, I’m okay with that. What I love, is that I now have a calculator that will measure all of the other levels for me so I can concentrate on the calories and just make sure I keep the other levels in check. So, “My Plate” at livestong is my Wife 1500 best friend!

Tomorrow is going to be our undecorating day. The tree stays up and lit until epiphany, which was yesterday. It’s always a sad day for me when the tree comes down. I love the lights and our tree is very personal, all the bits of David and me, from the crystal ballerina Mom gave me in recognition of my dancing as a child to the glass poker chip stacks recognizing David’s evening hobby. The cats, the coffee cups, the baseball and train ornaments and all of our dated ornaments, one for every year we’ve been together, our tree is a beautiful celebration of the holiday and the hearts that make ours a home. Oh the love and smiles will always live here, but the magic that is the holidays will go back in the boxes to sprinkle it’s glitter again in another 11 months!

Okay, now I’m going to celebrate what’s left of my one and only January 7, 2010, ever. I hope you all enjoyed yours!

Links - livestrong.com

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Three Coins for a Fountain Drink

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of iCoke.ca. All opinions are 100% mine.

Well, actually it’s for a bottled drink, but what a tasty way to win a Canadian Gold Medal! Exclusively at Mac’s Stores, in Canada, you can get a FREE Coca-Cola Collectible Medallion. You can get one of three Canadian Olympic Coke medallions when you purchase 2 Coca-Cola 591mL products at Mac’s.

Mac’s is one of those places that David and I make sure to stop at when we railfan in Canada. They have a good selection of those Canadian chocolates we love and a great selection of refreshments. Those refreshments include the bottles of Coca Cola products that will earn you the collectible coins celebrating the Olympics and Team Canada. You don’t have to be Canadian to participate or enjoy Coke!

I look at it as similar to the collectible pins. I know I have a host of souvenirs from the Atlanta Olympics. Mom bought Dad a shirt with flags for all of the countries that participated on it, which included San Marino! I think the coins in celebration of the Vancouver Olympics are a great addition to any sports memorabilia or Olympic mementos collection, and all you have to do is enjoy a couple of refreshing bottles of your favorite Coke product. For me, that’s Cherry Coke. I drink Cherry Coke a lot when we railfan. There is definitely an art to making a good cherry cola and there is none as good as Cherry Coke! And now, when we railfan in Canada, my Cherry Coke comes with a collectible Olympic medallion!

This offer is subject to availability, so get out there and buy your coke products, exclusively at Mac’s, while the supplies last!

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Photoblog Wednesday

Sunrise in Toledo, Ohio 12/26/09

Taken with the new "party cam" on the sunset/sunrise exposure setting. It did pretty well!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Food Fanatic

1 cup of oatmeal with 1 TBS chocolate & butterscotch morsels,
2 strips bacon, half grapefruit
and coffee with Coffeemate 360 calories

Breakfast was yummy this morning and filling enough that I skipped my mid-morning snack time. Like I said yesterday, I’m not going to show all the food I eat every day and I’m not going to talk about food on my blog every day, but today is one of the last couple of days off until school starts, so I have the opportunity to blog about it and establish a healthy food obsession. I’ve mentioned that before, that I need a decent obsession about food to keep me focused on doing it right!

Here was lunch:

1 cup Trader Joe’s Roaster Tomato and Red Pepper soup,
salad with 2TBS Newman’s light Balsamic Vinaigrette
and an Italian breadstick 215 calories

I LOVE that soup! It's the one I bought three boxes of last month when I stopped at Trader Joe's when I was in the Motherland! Some of the things I really enjoy about eating in a healthier balance are soups and dips! I have a copy of the Campbell’s Soup for Life book and it inspired some great ideas. I love to make soup, love to eat soup. Soups and stews are about the most creative I get to be in the kitchen and they are tasty, satisfying and make into gorgeous presentations! I always serve myself a setting that looks elegant, homey or both! Dips are very similar. I stick to lower fat dips like hummus, bruschetta or yogurt-based dips, but the content of the dip is determined by the maker of the dip, so often I make my own dips for crunchy veggies or crackers. I get to be creative with dip-making too!

I’ll stop in later with more food. But now is time for The Monday Mug Shot!

It’s just inches away. Scroll down!

Wait for it……….

Wait for it………….

Wait for it……………

Monday Mug Shot


John Conti Coffee
Louisville, Kentucky

This is the first Monday Mug Shot of 2010. There are Mondays that, for one reason or another, I can’t get the Mug Shot in, so for this year, I’m going to try a trick morning DJs use. I started doing the Mug Shot in 2007, when I was still blogging on Yahoo 360, back when Yahoo had blogs. Some visitors here may remember those days! Well, when some morning show or talk show radio people go on vacation the station plays a “Best of” show, in other words, a rerun. Since the newer Yahoo profile does have my blog archives, I hadn’t thought about doing that. But the truth is, you have to have a Yahoo account to view it and it’s really difficult to find specific content without going through many pages. So, on Mondays when I have just too much otherwise going on, I’m going to try to republish “Best of The Monday Mug Shot,” including the original blog date. If you weren’t a regular Chronicles of Nani reader on Yahoo, you’ll get to read some of the original Mug Shots! This is a filler, like the radio shows, when I can’t do it. I’ve still got lots of mugs left!

Today’s tale is a short one, but a nice memory!

The mug from breakfast on New Year’s Day has been around a while! I visited John Conti Coffees in Louisville on the trip I took with Mom in June of 1994. It was a nice trip, just a long weekend, but it included a dinner train and train museum, a paddleboat steamship ride on the Ohio River between Louisville and Indiana and a brief but informative stop to John Conti Coffee’s roasting facility/store.

The smell was incredible. Think of Starbucks times 100 flavors! Okay, maybe it weasn’t quite a hundred, but there were so many roasts and flavors! We saw the displays that talked about how they roasted the coffee and how flavors are add4ed to the coffees and of course we sampled what they like to call “the best coffee in town.”

It definitely did rate well with Mom and me. After spending an hour looking at the displays and sampling the coffee, we found ourselves going through a large bin of one-pot packs on clearance to go with the coffee beans and sweets we’d already picked out. Mom always joked that her boyfriend’s name was Clarence and they never spelled it right, but that’s why she always hung out wherever she saw his name! That was Mom’s way of saying “A sale! A sale!! A sale!!!” I think we were drinking the flavored one-pot vacuum packs for a year!

Goaltending Starts in the Morning!

The personal goal of better health and weight starts when I wake up. It’s Monday and David will work a little later, so we’ll probably do hot breakfast, as we often do when he’s working late, then we’re hoping to get to the grocery store to stock up on meats and veggies for the week, including some fruit for me and cup-o-soup, which rates way up there for Nani-snacks! I’ll try to remember to photograph breakfast so I can show it off with the calorie counts. I’m not going to do that every meal, every day, but tomorrow being the 2010 kick off and all, I’ll ask you all to indulge me!

Since the educational goals start later this week, I’ll be doing some organizing and scrapping on Monday. Scrapping in the now and a page-a-day in catching up starts officially tomorrow. I already have my layout of the first photos of 2010 done, with a few photos from BORTrail this weekend that will make a page or two. I decided not to do a show of my train photos this year. After the months that ended last year, I just wanted to take a break between the holidays. Besides, my Mac is getting way up there in years and very slow. It’s not that it won’t make movies anymore, but I know that right now it’s more stress than I wanted to deal with waiting forever for each bit to render! I’m hopeful that by next December I’ll either have a Mac upgrade or at least some decent calm in my life that I won’t mind the extra time the undertaking needs right now! There were a lot of fellow railfans that were surprised and a little disappointed that I wasn’t representing the BORT Women on the screen with my usual solo act. David did an awesome job on his show! He did a “talkie,” narrating rather than music with his slides and ended his show to an ovation from the fellow railfans when he showed his excellently exposed shots of the rainbow we saw on our honeymoon!

So, tomorrow, in addition to at least one catch-up layout, I’ll get probably page 2 and 3 of 2010 done too. I said that a page-a-day will officially start tomorrow, but I’ve been trying to keep that started since just before Christmas. I got a lot of catching up of the holiday stuff done as Christmas challenge layouts in 2009. I finished up 4 that I’d started before the end of the year on New Year’s Day while David was at work. I figure that counts as 2, since it was 4 half-done ones! I wasn’t home yesterday and didn’t bring my laptop with me because I know BORTrail runs late and I’m usually very tired by the time we check into the hotel. But I did get a catch-up layout for today d0one!

This is the begining of February, 2007:

Credits: Lions Fan Kit by Midnight Scrapping (except NFL trademarks),
template 11 by Designs by CMR

That one is a little fun ripping on the home football team of my Michigander days! I had only been an Ohiogander for 6 weeks when the frozen-over pictures in Hell, Michigan were taken!

Java 365 Update

Three days in and I have three coffee photos! Yay! I joined My Life & Scrap, who is doing a Project 52 challenge, which opens up to either a weekly layout of daily shots or weekly photos. You get a free template every week, that you don’t have to use to complete the week’s layout, and If you have 52 pages done at the end of the year, you win a year of access to Dogs Day Designs’ store, she’s the challenge host for the project 52, plus a year of store collabs! As if the free templates and encouragement wasn’t enough incentive to keep with it. WOW!

Well, I’m going to wrap up tonight in planning and scrapping. Is anyone else doing a project 365 or 52 this year? Anyone want some comment space for goals or resolutions, to brag, get some support or just make a public affirmation? Please feel welcome to shout it out in the comments. We’ll all raise a mug of cyber-coffee to your planned success!