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

Saturday, November 28, 2015

It’s Small Business Saturday

The holiday shopping season is in full swing as of yesterday with the shopping equivalent of the Super Bowl. The biggest differences between Black Friday and Super Bowl Sunday is that on Black Friday the fans are the ones competing and instead of eating standard homemade football party fare, competitors eat standard mall food court fare during halftime. Holiday shopping is best done however any individual finds the joy of holiday giving. For some it’s the competitive allure of the “doorbuster” deals. For some it’s the joy of knowing their shopping is already done by Thanksgiving so they can enjoy peace during the holiday season. I think the important thing is when you are shopping for gifts, let that spirit of giving wash over you and shop with that attitude. Not everyone does that, but whenever and however you do gift shopping, wouldn’t it be better for everyone buying and selling if we did that, or at least tried?

When I was in trade school, in 1990, I worked the holidays at San Francisco Music Box store. That was the coolest place I can imagine to work retail during the holidays because music boxes are very personal gifts. Even people who stopped in asking “do you have something nice for my mom?” or “I’m looking for a gift for my wife for Hanukah, do you have something thats not Christmas?” would leave with a thought to come back or a package in hand because they found that “ah-ha” gift they didn’t even now they were looking for. It was non-commission sales during the holidays, maybe because it was so easy, but it was so gratifying when I sold a music box because the person buying it was buying it as a gift most of the time and the gift they chose was very special. It captured the magic well. And music boxes are not at all just gifts for women! There was a very nice, masculine, wooden trinket box with a frame on top and space for a custom music box tune. With a kitten picture of Azreal in the frame and Spanish Eyes, a song my father loved to play on the accordion and my employee discount it was a Christmas present my dad loved.

Pop and I were talking about gifts for this year’s family celebrations on the phone the other day. Last year we drew names, so instead of choosing then finding gifts for everyone, we’re concentrating on just one person. We have a minimum set with the “rule” that past that you can spend as much as you want, but don’t expect the person who has your name to spend more than the minimum; Concentrate on the thoughtfulness of the gift and don’t spend more than you can afford. I drew my aunt who is a creative person, has some similar taste in books to my own and loves girly spoil things. I am just loving shopping for her!

Pop is not crazy about the suddenly he has to shop of it. LOL When my mom was with us she did all the shopping and the only gifts he bought were for her. Pop was a Christmas Eve shopper. As much as I don’t like being out shopping on Christmas Eve, I shopped with my dad for my mom on Christmas Eve. I joked at him about it but I really loved those few hours at the mall on Christmas Eve every year, just me and Pop. My mother was often pragmatic when she asked for a gift. She would actually ask for vacuum cleaner if she needed a vacuum cleaner and my father would tell her to go buy the vacuum cleaner and buy her something else for Christmas. Pragmatic gifts were neither special enough for Christmas nor for is wife. Something else was usually her favorite perfume and jewelry. We’d usually go into a couple of jewelry stores and look at jewelry until he found the piece or pieces that he felt were just right. Of course he would ask me what do you think often, but even if I wasn’t so sure he’d buy the one he though was right and Mom would gush over it an wear it to death. He obviously didn’t really need my help to pick out jewelry. I think I was really there for moral support for being in the mall and for our grown up daddy-daughter day. Then we’d go to Coffee Beanery for coffee and snack and he let me know that we needed to go through fine perfume on the way out of the mall because he needs to get just one more gift. As much as he always said he didn't like doing the shopping, he has told me a number of times that he did enjoy our Christmas Eve tradition.

Today, we acknowledge that holiday shopping may be about memories and special gifts to give, but we give another gift when we buy gifts because we add to the economy, moreover, when we shop small, that gift is a direct gift to the small business owner too. One of my sweet shopping memories is when Mom and I used to spend the weekend at Grandma’s, shopping in Tawas the day after Thanksgiving. Shopping in a small downtown was wonderful. It was as busy as a summer day during tourist season, sill room to move in the shops and time to talk to the shop owners and sales associates. I’m not a competitive shopper. I like to browse and really think about the gifts I’m buying. Some things I have around the house for the holidays take less thought than gifts. I still pretty much just throw a bag of almond holiday M&Ms in my cart. Some gifts are easy too, the ones that jump off the shelf and say “I’ve been waiting for you to find me for…”

Now I’m the Cyber Monday type, although I’ve already done most of my cyber shopping. I wasn’t the Black Friday at the mall type when I balanced well on two legs. Can you imagine trying to navigate crowds in a wheelchair?? I love that I can literally shop all over the world and take hours searching for the right gift. The other thing that I think is cool about the cyber world is that I have bookmarked sites for small businesses and family businesses I frequent too. I’ll finish this post up with a few of the small/family business my mouse frequently leads me to, also where I’ve already done some ordering in the past week or so.

Etsy is basically a craft mall online! I’ve purchased some dgital supplies from Etsy vendors. In fact this year’s Christmas cards wouldn’t have happened without Resale Clipart's Build-a-Snowman kit at Maddie Zee’s store. My Tigers “Turn Down For What t-shirt in 2014 was from an Etsy store and I’ve given beautiful hand-crafted gifts every year during the holidays.

Photojojo was a source of lots of stocking stuffers the year David switched to digital photography. They are a small company in San Francisco with a big web presence. They have wonderful gifts for pretty much any digital way you take photos, including how to upgrade your creativity and quality in that handy phone cam!

Ron & Franks is one of my favorite places going into winter! They are a small business out of Cheswick, Pennsylvania, that offers hot drink mixes in a greater variety of regular and sugar-free flavors that you’ll find in any chain store! They started selling their great drink mixes in 2001 at a local craft show and still sell their fabulous products in-person the same way. But with the website, I am sure to make at least one big order a winter to restock my supply of hot chocolates and instant cappuccino (What this once removed from the boat girl call cheat-a-chino) in great flavors sweetened with sugar, Stevia, Splenda or unsweetened. I recently tried Snick-AAH Hot Chocolate. STOP! I got unsweetened and added my own Stevia and with a 8-oz cup of water from my Keurig, I had a cup of Snickers heaven! I’ll be sending a gift to a special friend who will not go without a wonderful treat in spite of type 2 Diabetes!

Local Small business meets cyber-small town for me with Kohne Photo. They are our local camera shop, where my Canon G11 came from and where our Christmas cards have been done for as long as David and I have been together. I create the cards digitally at home and upload and place the order from home too. When I get the email that they are done, David goes to the shop across the Maumee River and picks them up. It’s using the internet to make it even easier to access your local business, but it also increases the reach of that business because if I wish I can give my business to them and have the cards shipped to me.

I spent a few years searching for a good source for the Italian treats I grew up with at Christmastime. One of the best things about the Internet is that small specialty stores are often crowded during the holidays and very difficult to maneuver with a wheelchair. (That’s not an excuse, just a reality) Finding a store on the web with the special things is much better than going to the local specialty store and MAYBE finding what I want . Torrone Candy is a family business that sells their classic Italian candies and sweets at their stand at festivals in the Northeast and has them available for one-stop internet shopping for all of us!

Nutscom! nuts.com is forever known to my family as nutscom, thanks to Pop. I got him a bag of chestnuts to go with a nuts history/cookbook a few years ago and he read the bag out loud in his not-so intent savvy direct way. One thing was for sure, Nutscom delivered good stuff! Nuts is a family business that started at the beginning of the Great Depression and has grown but remains a family business through the generations to a web presence and large selection of products. I get nut flours and candied fruits for baking, dried fruits and roasted nuts for snacking, even my most commonly used salad topper from Nuts-dot-com. At this time of year, it’s a great source for gift trays and baskets and wonderful things to offer on your holiday table.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hell's Corner (Camel Club #5) by David Baldacci

Finished November 18, 2015

Synopsis at Good Reads

Oliver Stone and the Camel Club return in #1 bestselling author David Baldacci's most stunning adventure yet.

An attack on the heart of power . . .

In sight of the White House . . .

At a place known as . . .


John Carr, aka Oliver Stone-once the most skilled assassin his country ever had-stands in Lafayette Park in front of the White House, perhaps for the last time. The president has personally requested that Stone serve his country again on a high-risk, covert mission. Though he's fought for decades to leave his past career behind, Stone has no choice but to say yes.

Then Stone's mission changes drastically before it even begins. It's the night of a state dinner honoring the British prime minister. As he watches the prime minister's motorcade leave the White House that evening, a bomb is detonated in Lafayette Park, an apparent terrorist attack against both leaders. It's in the chaotic aftermath that Stone takes on a new, more urgent assignment: find those responsible for the bombing.

British MI-6 agent Mary Chapman becomes Stone's partner in the search for the unknown attackers. But their opponents are elusive, capable, and increasingly lethal; worst of all, it seems that the park bombing may just have been the opening salvo in their plan. With nowhere else to turn, Stone enlists the help of the only people he knows he can trust: the Camel Club. Yet that may be a big mistake.

In the shadowy worlds of politics and intelligence, there is no one you can really trust. Nothing is really what it seems to be. And Hell's Corner truly lives up to its name. This may be Oliver Stone's and the Camel Club's last stand.

My review at Good Reads
4.5 of 5 stars

Wow! This was a great book with lots of action . I've said before they the Camel Club series has a definite Scooby-Doo essence to it, maybe in the way of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show’s Scooby Gang which was darker. Given that, I accept that the heroes and the villains are sometimes a bit over the top. They are very enjoyable.

The story involves multiple big agencies in Washington and England battling the group responsible for a bomb that caused much damage and a major investigation. Oliver Stone was asked to work for the government again for one case. Paired with Mary Chapman, an MI-6 British intelligence agent, they always seem to be one step behind the perpetrators. Clues lead them one direction only to find the truth seems to begin another. Why is that happening? There is a traitor in the ranks, but who?

I enjoyed the plot that seemed to leave the gate twisting. It made a book that was exciting to read. If you enjoy crime mysteries and stories revolving around governments, I definitely recommend the Camel Club series, but read them in order and don't expect to nitpick the believability - just enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I Think I Got It Tough?

I’ve been very self-involved the past few weeks. I haven’t shared a lot because I’ve sorta been in a serious dark spot for me and I don’t want to share that in case it’s contagious. Hey, I’m serious there. I know a smile or a laugh can be passed on when someone is feeling low and I’ve experienced someone else’s bad mood sucking the life out of my mood. Anyone who cohabitates with their significant other or even a platonic best friend knows what I mean, you’ve felt it first hand. Its part of the emotional connection. But as much as strong happiness can put a dance in a stranger’s step when they walk by, a very dark brood can push that same stranger into traffic.

I was sorting through my art journals and I decided the MS art journal pages should be their own book instead of throwing them in my main scrapbooks in chronological order. They express an area of my creativity that I want to keep in its own compartment, I’m not ashamed of it at all. I think it’s good and it’s great therapy. It’s just that it’s very dark compared to most of my scrapping and certainly compared to the parts of my world that I want to preserve.

While pulling out folders, I came across this page I did in September.

Ghost From The Past
Credits: Distressed and This Can’t Be Happening by Created by Jill Scraps, 
When Skies Are Gray by Ginger Bread Ladies

Who we are and who we will always be is a work of art itself. Ideally, it’s a work we love being and others appreciate it too. That work of art is a combination of everything and everyone who has touched our lives. Because we’re always being “painted” or “sculpted” with a stroke here or smoothing out there by different artists we are ever-changing works. Everything we see, every life we touch, leaves a little and takes a little.

The woman represented by this page was very real and although we never spoke a word to each other, I don’t recall ever even making eye contact with her, she left an impression on me. She is one of the artists who added a few strokes to who I am today. I find myself thinking of her a lot as I struggle through the especially trying times.

When I was a young adult, I often went to a bar/concert theater with friends in a rough part of Detroit. They had the local bands and hard rock and heavy metal bands that weren’t big enough to book arenas when they toured, but they could sell out a downtown concert bar. It was festival seating and for the big concerts it was common for there to be a line going around the building before the doors opened of young people, mostly from the suburbs. Safety in numbers, it was a party atmosphere with plenty of six-packs and wine coolers, talking, flirting and getting to know strangers.

She lived there, in those rough streets. To the quiet woman, concert nights were working nights, collecting the empty beer and wine cooler bottles which were worth a dime apiece in Michigan. Sometimes she had a cart, but usually it was a plastic shopping bag or two that she collected her dimes in. It was the unwritten and unspoken rule that she never spoke to us and we never spoke to her. When anyone finished a bottle or can when in line, they left the empty on the sidewalk where she could reach it. The only time anyone ever heard her voice was the occasional time someone would get an extra hamburger at McDonalds and leave it with the beer can. She took the burger and said “thank you.”

She was ragged, dirty and didn’t smile, but she didn’t let her lot in life completely destroy her either. She didn’t panhandle, she collected bottles. Altruistically, she cleaned up after the kids for her payday. The piece of her that she left with me was pride and determination. She left me her dignity and the knowledge that despite the standards I’ve given myself, that dignity is much deeper than a credit score or clean hair. I am able to feel good about the little victories because they are MY victories. Every time I use a bag to move something because I only have one free hand, or lament at my ”Snape hair” or that I was too weak to shower and “smell like a bag-lady,” her image comes to my mind. It might get better, it might not. But as long as I do the best I can and never stop trying today, I can still grasp an ounce of pride, of dignity, even on my worst days.

It was over 25 years ago that the unnamed woman touched my life every couple weeks. The rough life in the streets tells me she’s probably gone. But she is not at all forgotten.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mentioning Many Things

Yesterday was election day. In odd-numbered years the ballot is smaller and the lines at the polls are too. After our mayor died earlier this year, the interim mayor, Paula Hicks-Hudson, won the special election and is now our duly elected mayor. I kind of knew where I was going with my vote, but I was swayed away from voting for Mayor Hicks-Hudson with what I considered a major faux-pas when she addressed Halloween and the weather with cold and forecasted rain during trick-or-treating time. She had no intention of postponing the time and it’s not me worrying about the kids that made me talk back to the TV. She could have said it was bad for general scheduling. She could have said after the last couple of years it sets an erratic precedent. Heck, she could have said with the election so close I just have too much going on to address it - get wet or go to the mall. It would have been a TON better than what she did say days before the election. Her defense for not changing the time for trick-or-treating started “In MY day…” She went on to talk about being from the area and going out in the cold and rain and all, but the parenting mindset is different now and I’m from this area too; it’s been colder and rainier than it was when I was a child. But the big thing with saying that so close to the election is that I don’t want to vote for someone who freely admits that “their day” was 50 years ago. I want to see my city move forward with someone who’s day is TODAY.

Oh yeah, and don’t start pointing fingers at parents “who should” put coats on their kids; the idea of a kid, regardless of what their told, not wearing a coat over a costume is as old as a child catching a cold not buttoning up her coat because Zuzu didn’t want to crush her flower.

In issues, I’m sad that the citizen’s initiative to legalize marijuana for personal and medicinal use was voted down. For me personally, I wanted to see the medicinal use be a legal option for people with chronic pain. I don’t think that’s necessarily me, but I have a number of friends who qualify. The recreational use wasn’t a big deal to me, but I don’t drink much either. Pot is less inhibiting than alcohol and not addictive. It would have been available for 21 and over, like booze, and couldn’t be smoked in public places except in designated smoking areas, like cigarettes, which are also more harmful and addicting. It saddens me that misinformation swallowed by people who don’t use a product makes it unavailable to people who could medically benefit from it and keeps it illegal, high-priced and often dangerously laced to make the profit higher for the illegal sellers for the people who will keep using it anyway. Score one for the pushers.

I am quite happy that the issue that creates a bipartisan process for drawing districts passed comfortably . I will admit the 800,000 people who think gerrymandering is a good thing frighten me.


November promises to be an exciting book month in Naniland! I just finished the last book in the Rare Traits trilogy. I love those books; David George Clarke is an incredible writer! I hope to read more from him, maybe even a fourth book in the trilogy? Douglas Adams did it. The hitchhiker’s Guide trilogy had 5 books. Sure, that works for that trilogy because it’s humor, but the point is that more than 3 books in a trilogy is not unprecedented.

I’m currently reading Hell’s Corner, the last book of David Baldacci’s Camel Club series and I have a list of new in November stuff now! I’m definitely set for reading material through November and likely into December. An e-reader fixes my dyslexia problems but it doesn’t make me a fast reader. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that although I read slower than an average person who reads a lot, I only have only ever had to read once because I have great reading comprehension. That was a plus all through school and a godsend in college where the reading assignments were multiple chapters to discuss in the next class a couple days later. Considering I never took a semester that was only one class, TGFRC! It didn’t take any math skills to know the reading comprehension scores on those standardized tests were essential for-multiple chapters + slow reading + dyslexia to equal success!

My preorders on parade started on November 1, when I got the email telling to refresh my Kindle app to load Pyramid Deception by Austin S. Camacho, the new book in the Hannibal Jones series. If you’ve read any of my book reviews, you know I love me some Hannibal Jones! Two days later Alan Jacobson, my favorite current author, released The Lost Codex and on November 17, David Baldacci’s The Guilty, new in the Will Robie series will be released. I preordered The Guilty and The Lost Codex both in early September. So if I fall off the radar for a while, it’s because I’m sitting in my recliner with the reading apps on my iPad IV tapped into my brain! Okay, maybe just relaxing with Buddy Bat (my iPad by name) and coffee in the IV!

And score one for Nani for name-dropping 5 authors I love in three paragraphs! ;)

Saturday is International Digital Scrapbooking Day

One would think that one of the good things, aside from more reading time, about being more of a shut-in the past few months has been more scrap time. (Although there have been a lot of days where I’ve somehow been on the phone so I can to try to break free from the mobility siege or cleaning things.) While I’ve been able to do more scrapping, I have looked but not bought anything new, choosing to save my monthly scrap-stipend for right now! I’m emptying my wish lists and the saved scrap allowances for the %40-%50 off sales! A few stores have already started great sales that run all week; great to get kits now and use them for chats and games on Saturday.

I’ll end today with a few recent layouts I’ve done. I’ll be enjoying some new scrap toys very soon! :D

Carla’s greeting card from Halloween:

Credits: Black Cat by Little Rad Trio

From our casino night when the girls turned 21

Credits: Class Is In by Just Because Studio and LJS Designs

My annual homage to pumpkin and spice and fall things nice!

Credits: Pumpkin Passion by Lindsay

And finally, I did this one with a leftover pic from our reception weekend in 2009 to commemorate our 6th anniversary last December.

Credits: A Love Like this by Pixelily Designs, beautiful On The Inside 
by Aprilisa Designs, Hazel by JayaPrem’s Hangout, Tenderly by
 Craftastrophic Designs, Template by Oklahoma Dawn

Monday, November 2, 2015

Another Off-Season Begins

Congratulations to the Kansas City Royals, the 2015 World Champions! I predicted the Royals would win it in 5 after Game 1, but I would have rather have been wrong and have seen the Mets win last night so the Royals could have won it at home.

                                                                                                      AP photo

Now, my gripes:

First Gripe: Remember that I remain loyal to “My Tigers” from the “Who’s Your Tiger?” campaign. My Mariner who became My Cub (Austin Jackson) and My Yankee who is now My Met (Curtis Granderson) were both in the post season this year. There were other former Tigers and former Reds in the post season too, including Johnny Cueto who started this year as the Reds’ Ace and ends it with a ring from Kansas City. The Reds and Tigers ended 2015 in the basement of their respective divisions. A good portion of the Kansas City roster was built through their own system, having scored some high draft picks in their worst years. With salary caps the trade deadline becomes less of “a thing” and the playing field becomes level. Franchises can build within their own systems and there is no need to buy and sell championships.

Second Gripe: Last year having been such a “devastating loss” in Game 7 and coming back this year not just determined to get back to the World Series, but almost as if anything but winning it wouldn’t be good enough, because it had been SO LONG since they’d won the title. I will NEVER understand the concept that being the second greatest team in the league in any given year is somehow failure. Yes, winning is fun and an accomplishment, but winning and losing is not synonymous to success or failure.

The Royals have worked hard to develop the great team they have and they’ve earned the title; they weren’t entitled to it, but they earned it. If the Mets had won it this year, the Royals would still be a great team and winners for having been there 2 years in a row. Okay, soapbox notwithstanding, the Tigers haven’t won the title since 1984 and last I checked that was before 85, so forgive me if I congratulate you although my violin that plays “My Heart Bleeds For You” was very small.

Third Gripe: My last gripe is ages old. Mariano Rivera was a modern exception and I love Aroldis Chapman and rallied that he was great closer material rather than a starter, but I still remain of the opinion that the closer is the most overrated position in current day baseball. (although it's still better than the designated hitter) If you have a closer that can get it done, great, but don’t be so stubborn about the job title that you throw out the baby with the bathwater when you put him on the mound. Regardless of the score or inherited runners, the job of that last pitcher is to get quick outs and not let any runners advance.

Baseball Trivia: Who is the only closer to blow three saves in one World Series?

Answer: Jeurys Familia, 2015 Mets.

There have only been 2 other World Series with three blown saves (2001, 2010,) but never by the same pitcher or even the same team all three times.

Just Sayin’