Welcome to my coffee shop in the cyber neighborhood!


Welcome to my cyber neighborhood coffee shop! Grab a mug of your favorite
beverage and a cozy chair to read and comment a bit. Be sure to try a piece of

black forest cake or the tiramisu. Try both; cyber-cake is calorie free!

Contact Nani at chroniclesofnani@gmail.com
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Christmas Scrapbook Freebies

If you were visiting from Worldwide Christmas Scrapbooking Freebies, follow the
hyperlinks for Digitalegacies Designs' mini kit Christmas Cocoa
and the add-on Christmas Cocoa Flowers.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

New Things

It's been a week of lots of new things. I'm getting settled in and cozy with Joey, the MacBook Pro, finally a computer worthy of being named after Joey Votto.I'm loving having a Mac again! I'm getting comfy now with the dictation software that's part of Pages, the Mac software for documents. The cool thing about Pages is that, unlike its predecessor, AppleWorks, Pages reads and can save in .doc format. That means it can read and communicate with Microsoft Word documents. Very cool!

I finished my first scrapbook page with the new computer. Photoshop works the same as it did on the old computer and I'm having pretty easy time getting used to the smaller screen.

Credits: The Autumn Knocks by GabisCreation

David left on his stress detox vacation Friday. Taking care of me can be a pretty high stress job, especially when you work a full time job already. Chapter 4 in “The Care and Feeding of Your Caregiver” stresses the importance of caregivers having a break from caregiving. That usually means a girls week for Kelly and me. Right now Kelly has some family stuff going on and can't be here till later in the week. That means I get to try something new. I have home health aides that come in a couple of times a day to help out with things and basically do a wellness check. It’s not too bad and rather helpful, especially at night to make sure I'm safely tucked in. I have “me time” to scrap or read or whatever without feeling like I need to be a host to someone in my home but I have someone who is there a few times a day to help me with the things I can’t quite do on my own.

The only bump in smooth sailing has been Marco. Marco likes to try to “run the gate” when the door opens. I blame his daddy; David is such an enabler. He lets Marco go outside and do his roll around ob the driveway and eat some grass before he sends him back in. Of course, I can’t do that. He ran out in the rain Friday night when the “tuck me in” caregiver came in and she had to chase him down in the driveway and bring him back. Did I mention it was raining? Then yesterday when the delivery guy brought my dinner, he did it again. The poor guy was holding the keep warm bag with my dinner, the re copout and pen for my signature AND chasing the cat. Marco didn’t get any further than the steps on the porch last night, but jeez, Marco! On my paperwork for the caregiver agency it says that I have three cats; Kaline, Carla and Marco. There is a note that says to watch out for Marco because he tries to go outside and none of the cats are outdoors cats. He tried to do the entitled “I’m just going outside” march when the assessor came in to meet me too.

Pop will be here tomorrow to get started on construction on the downstairs accessible bathroom with shower! He’s staying tomorrow night and is going to be Construction Guru and caregiver so I don't have to pay for the wellness checks. I am totally excited about the new bathroom! Add that to the new top half of my power chair, that's hopefully in the final process of being ordered, and they'll have a lot of independence back. With the lift mechanics in the new chair, I’ll even be able to stand a little, good for edema, and reach the controls to cook!

As long as everything goes alright for Kelly, she’ll be here Tuesday for the rest of the week and we will have our "girls time” for the rest of the week. It’s been a new world this week, but it’s a good new world.



Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hey, What Day Is It?

Tori and Rina last Christmas

We had a big family dinner last month at Pop’s place. He’d mentioned that he hadn’t seen “the gang” since we’d moved from Northville, in 2007, and he wanted to do a barbecue and have everyone come over. We did just that for our Leos dinner where Aunt Judy and I celebrate our birthdays together. I’m proud that my family, the brothers and sisters I met and took as part of my family in life’s journey, have been part of my world long enough that most of them remember when Tori and Rina were babies. They were a “no way” part of the discussion when I mentioned how old they were!

They used to welcome me home from work when 
they were at their grandparents' house 
with kisses and stealing my jewelry!

US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio
They were 4 

They're about 10 in this one

This is Christmas Eve 2008. 
They're 14 and don't now they have an Uncle David yet..


They very well may have been out with friends last night to count down to midnight and buy their first legal alcoholic drink. Today, September 13, 2015, those sweet little girls pictured above are 21! I told them yesterday that whenever and however they celebrate with their friends, be crazy and make sure there is a designated driver!

 20-year-olds last Christmas

Monumental things that happen in your life can be very easy to remember. I remember my first legal drink when I was 19. I was in Canada and I had a glass of Maria Christina white wine with dinner. That was fun because I was perfectly legal but not legal at home. My friends and I spent a couple of years hanging out in Windsor.

My first legal drink in the US was on my 21st birthday. I worked that day and I went to lunch with my mom and our boss, mom and I worked in the same office at the time. We went for Chinese and I had a mai tai with lunch. It was 1987; I don’t think a boss would take an employee out to have a drink with lunch on her 21st birthday now. Maybe, I’m a little past 21 now.

I don’t worry that the girls have never had alcohol. Even above and beyond a glass of wine at a family gathering, Italian family, remember, I know Canada wasn’t the only place I had a drink when I was 19&20, just the only place I drank legally. Turning 21 was pretty cool to me because I was really an adult then. I could do ALL of the things adults could do. Drinking was a big deal on the weekends for a while, then it settled in to just a social thing. I really haven’t been much of a drinker for a number of years now. (But I have to have schnapps during the holidays!)

I hope the girls enjoy taking a big ole bite out of the alcohol apple for the celebration as it becomes no longer the forbidden fruit. Then accept it as something that complements the fun with their friends and not let it be the fun.

David and I will be having dinner and a casino night with the girls, their parents and a couple of their friends in a couple of weeks. I’ll try and get them to take a picture with me then, for an update. This one is from last Christmas.


I have always said it and always will; they get cooler and cooler every year!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Pizza Time!

"The Usual"

David got a good laugh out of me last night. I let myself order pizza once a month; it’s my splurge. I know things, like a small Marco’s pizza is 26-36 Weight Watchers points, depending on the toppings and it’s 2 meals for me. It’s usually lunch and dinner but sometimes dinner and breakfast. Yeah, my inner-20-something still enjoys cold pizza the next morning.

Now strange as it sounds, at least to me, my American-born husband doesn’t eat pizza. Everyone has different tastes, but I thought pizza was one of those things that, I don’t know. I mean, pizza, ya know? I think the maturing of priorities is so important. Think if we’d met in our early 20s with very different taste in food and music. We wouldn’t have ever dated, even though we have so much in common in hobbies and core values, which is often overlooked in the dating game at a very young age. So I’m married to a man that doesn’t share my appreciation for Frank Sinatra, Iron Maiden or Drake and we won't share a meal of Mexican, Cincinnati Chili or pizza. I’ll make that trade for being able to discuss religion and politics at a baseball game after a day of chasing trains knowing we’ll still sleep comfortably under the same roof.

What that means for pizza is two things. I order pizza when he works the night shift but I get to pick the toppings, all of them! Last night when he got home and was preparing his midnight snack, he looked at the pizza box that held my Saturday breakfast and asked what toppings I got. I don’t think he’d ever asked me what toppings I ordered before, so I told him it was one of my usuals, a Nani-Classic pizza; pepperoni, bacon and onions, well done. Marco’s, my pizza of choice, bakes them light, regular, well-done or extra well-done. I went on to tell him that’s been my go-to pizza since my teens. “The Usual” is that pizza on half, with banana peppers, green olives and feta on the other half, making two different meals and my “Specialty Pizza” is the Cheesy White with banana peppers and green olives on a thin crust baked extra-well so it’s like a white sauce with tangy extras on a cracker.

David laughed at my pizza soliloquy. I asked why it was funny, because lots of people have regular toppings they always order. But what he was laughing at is that I have names, Classic, Usual and Specialty, for what I order. That’s just part of my organized brain. If Marco’s remembered the pizzas in addition to my address and the nearest location that delivers to my address when i sign in to my account, I’d have those three pizzas and my favorite condiments on a salad saved with those names for one click ordering. Hey Marco’s, if you want an online account idea…

So, are you a pizza fan? Do you have regular toppings you like or do you try different things when you order?

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Art of Pain


I’ve mentioned before that I do Art Journaling as my own therapy for the times when the MS feels like it’s controlling more of my world than I can handle. It really does help too. When I'm having a meltdown, when the tears and agony of what I can’t do is taking over emotionally, I feel compelled to create. I have sat in front of the computer creating a page at 2AM because I’m so wound up I can’t sleep. I can physically feel when the page is done. It’s hard to describe but I feel the tension release and finishing a page makes me feel good. It’s kinda like taking a drug that kicks in and you instantly feel better.

I did this page last week after an hours-long meltdown when I was unable to get out of my wheelchair to pull myself into the bathroom.

I’m A Mess
Credits: Life Aint Always Beautiful by LJS Designs, Melancholy by
Connie Prince, Distressed by Created by Jill Scraps

I knew the page was complete when the tension in my neck and shoulders disappeared. It felt like a vice just lifted off them and I relaxed. Art as almost a spiritual experience sounds strange, but that really is what happens for me. It’s kinda cool.

Like I’ve said before, art journaling is personal, at least for me it is. It’s like poetry. It has great meaning to the person who creates it. It might mean something totally different to someone looking at it and that’s okay; it’s what art is about. You may read a poem or look at a work of art and get a different meaning than the artist/writer expressed, but for the viewer art is not about feeling what the artist was feeling, it’s feeling what you feel. You’re not supposed to experience the artist’s feelings, but join the artist in experiencing the work of art.

If a work doesn’t move you or have any meaning to you, it doesn’t mean it’s bad or not art. It just isn’t for you. That’s oaky too.

Now I’ll share art that I probably get a very different feel from than was intended. I also have a little smile and snicker as my blog is probably the only place you’ll ever see one of my art journal pages and a Salvador Dali painting displayed in the same place.

Dali is best known for his 1931 work, The Persistence of Memory.

The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali, 1931

But when I saw his painting, Woman with a Head of Roses, done in 1935, I saw my legs!

Woman with a Head of Roses, Salvador Dali, 1935

Last week I met my spasticity specialist at Cleveland Clinic. He asked me to describe what my legs feel like and I told him the Dali painting described my legs better than I can with just words. Those are my legs. The left leg feels almost dead and deformed and the right leg feels like the draped fabric represents the muscles and tendons, weak and just hanging. The weakness feels just like that.

Before anyone freaks out about the description, it represents the weakness and frustrated emotional pain; the kind of pain that comes and goes. My legs do pretty much always match the Woman with a Head of Roses description but I don’t always feel the frustration and fear of that face in the back of the painting! And when I do I create works like that one at the top of this entry to quell the powerful dark feelings.

And there is my relationship of art and pain, Nani and Dali.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Book Review: Divine Justice (Camel Club #4) by David Baldacci


Finished September 4, 2015

Synopsis at Good Reads

Known by his alias, "Oliver Stone," John Carr is the most wanted man in America. With two pulls of the trigger, the men who hid the truth of Stone's past and kept him in the shadows were finally silenced. But Stone's freedom has come at a steep price; the assassinations he carried out have prompted the highest levels of the United States Government to unleash a massive manhunt. Joe Knox is leading the charge, but his superiors aren't telling him everything there is to know about his quarry-and their hidden agendas are just as dangerous as the killer he's trying to catch. Meanwhile, with their friend and unofficial leader in hiding, the members of the Camel Club must fend for themselves, even as they try to protect him. As Knox closes in, Stone's flight from the demons of his past will take him far from Washington D.C., to the small, isolated coal-mining town of Devine, Virginia-and into a confrontation every bit as bloody lethal as the one he left behind.

My review at Good Reads

5 or 5 stars

Initially I had a character problem with this one. Two of my favorite authors use the same last name for men of different levels of authority at CIA. Maybe I should change genres and read those books with Flavios and Blades to swoon over. Nah, I’ll stick to getting used to THIS Knox; Joe. It only messed with me for a couple of chapters before I focused on the current Knox anyway.

It was a great follow-up to Stone Cold, picking up where it ended and answering my question about how there could be a Book 4. Oliver is being hunted by CIA investigator, Joe Knox. Knox was ordered to locate John Carr (AKA Oliver Stone) and report back to a higher up wo unbeknownst to Knox had a personal reason he wanted Carr silenced before he was caught by some other branch of government where the higher up could end up facing having to admit to not so legal doings of his own if Carr was brought to trial.

Oliver saved a young man in a 3 on 1 fight and travelled back home with him to a quiet small town where Stone figured he might be able to hide for a while. Except that it turned out the little town of Divine wasn’t so quiet. Stone ended up in the middle of a murder investigation with a bigger than you’d expect in a small town drug ring involving a power dunk warden at the local super-max prison and the drug-addicted workers of the local coal mine. Not so quiet, but definitely the base for some serious action and the book doesn’t disappoint.

Members of the Camel Club are searching for their needle-in-a-haystack friend by tailing Knox unearthing clues to Oliver’s whereabouts just after Knox does while trying to get to Stone before Knox does. As Knox searches for John Carr he finds facts that point to him not being involved in legit investigation for reasons of questionable morality. The questions in Knox’s mind become even less clear when he finally finds John Carr; war hero who has become Ben; drifter and local hero.

It’s a great book with action, moral dilemma and even a little bit of a love scene. See, I don’t need to change genres after all. Considering where this book ends, I look forward to seeing where book 5 goes!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Soon!

I’m living with more bad computer news in Naniland. Remember how Stupid (my Dell computer) had to have a lobotomy in July because it was losing the ability to communicate with itself? Well after it came home I reloaded the basic programs I use every day because I wanted to take it easy on it just coming back from wipe clean. I also wanted to get the basic programs that I’ve had on it pretty much as long as I’ve had it, about 2-1/2 years to try to avoid whatever happened to it with newer stuff. I’m already getting the messages and trouble I had before. When I restart it the desktop icons are all over, I get long waits and “not responding” on desktop windows and programs and a blue screen and reboot every other day. It did the same things last time and I know I’ll lose function using it regularly by the end of the month. Yes, the Geeks at Best Buy will fix it again, but then I’ll be spending $5 in bus fares and time in my day again in November, right?

If I upgrade for free to Windows 10, it's adding on top of the system I hate and the one that keeps giving me the blue screen with notes about kernel problems. It’s added stress and frustration I don’t need in my life. I deal with enough things I CAN’T change. I did some math and I believe I can fix this situation. I’ll meet with my account guy tomorrow and make sure I carried all my math columns right. As long as I did, I’ll be hitting the mall next week to Tilt-A-Whirl my way to the Apple Store.

http://www.apple.com/macbook-pro/
Shortly after Labor Day the name Joey shall belong to a 13” MacBook Pro. My external keyboard and mouse will still work with the Mac for use at home. The touch pad does some new things that might make that more user friendly to me. Also, now that I’ve gotten used to the tablet and phone talking to each other about me, I like that convenience and I look forward to them including my computer in the conversations. It means my personal calendar will update on all three, photos I take will be available on my computer without emailing them to myself and I can read a book on any device and it will always be on the right page. I most enjoy now that I can comfortably read on my tablet before be and on the phone while I’m waiting for the bus. Now I'll be able to read on the computer while I'm having lunch too!

I will suggest to everyone that you should password protect all of your electronic devices so someone can’t even see your menu or desktop without your code. There are some wonderful advances in this world we share now, but it also means there are not-so-wonderful opportunities for dishonest people to get their hands on your information. Just be careful and know what security is available to you on devices you use. When I’m at home Stupid doesn’t require a password every time I step away for 5 minutes, but when I’m away from home I adjust the settings so it requires me to log back on more often when I have been away from it. Answering the phone and dialing 911 are the only things I can do on my phone without the passcode if I’m off it for 30 seconds. I like the fact that I can erase the phone or tablet from any computer if I lose them. Know what you can do to protect your data!

Actually, I have to thank Stupid for its timing. By acting like the lobotomy worked for a month, it puts me between kids on summer vacation and holiday shopping beginning so the mall will be slower. A slower mall means fewer people competing for the sales reps’ attention, I still have many questions to ask before I make a huge purchase. (Well, it’s huge to me!) Less wait means more time to have lunch and fewer other people means more room to Tilt-A-Whirl! That is if I decide to Tilt-A-Whirl with a big bag of computer stuff. Maybe I should Tilt-A-Whirl before I go to the Apple Store.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet…


…We're hunting pumpkin spice!

According to Nani’s Rules, September 1st is the official opening day of Pumpkin Spice Season!

Yes, this is a huge fad and yes the middle-age-white-woman is the stereotypical demographic that the fad is known for. But I don’t follow the fad; the fad followed me and now it caters to me. I’m okay with that.

Starbucks takes credit for starting the fad, but I think the first time I had a pumpkin spice cappuccino was a gas station machine cheataccino a year before it was available at Starbucks. Starbucks made it "cool." Also the whole “pumpkins mean fall” thing for me was since childhood. I loved pumpkin pie and Pop roasted the pumpkin seeds from the Halloween jack-o-lanterns he carved before we were even allowed to handle sharp knives. I also used pumpkin pie spice mixed into Cool Whip for a low calorie pumpkin spice treat. I hadn’t thought of adding pumpkin spice and sweetener to coffee but when I tried the gas station cheataccino, I was hooked! It was a hot cocoa styled drink for fall; yum!

Starbucks is caving into the health food Nazis who started the Pumpkin Spice Latte conspiracy theory last year, freaking out about not having pumpkin in the drink and having some sort of poison instead. This year they have changed the recipe that’s been so successful while, according to them, not changing the flavor. Pumpkin Spice Latte will be available at Starbucks, to slide down your throat with slimy pureed pumpkin making your drink thicker but not affecting the taste, which you hopefully don’t really remember exactly from one year to the next, on September 8.

I probably won’t try the new recipe. If other places use a small amount of mashed pumpkin in their pumpkin spice drinks and I don’t notice it, fine. I had decided a couple years ago that for flavor, Eat ’n Park’s pumpkin spice latte was the best anyway. I have 2 big things that drive my thought that I have no interest in trying the new recipe at Starbucks. First, the purely psychological effect; I never expected anything but the spices in pumpkin spice latte and the thought of purred pumpkin in my coffee just sounds gross. Second, and I think the bigger reason, is I just can’t support anything that’s purely kissing the butts of conspiracy theorists. So, if I don’t know the pumpkin is there and it is, it proves that it doesn’t make any difference because I liked it fine without. It might even be defense of the change if it’s discovered that pumpkin in my coffee is what makes me think one is better than the other. BUT, you can’t even improve the taste and win me over when you’ve offended me, and giving in to the food Nazis is offensive. It won’t affect Starbucks at all. Many people won’t care, they’ll have a new customer or two who’ve read and were afraid because of the food Nazis and I’ll still drink plain lattes and their fabulous, albeit hard to get there in time for, pumpkin scones. But for pumpkin latte, I’ll stick to Eat n’ Park or Speedway.

I won’t miss Starbuck’ 'Pumpkin Spice Latte anyway because there are now so many fabulous pumpkin spice treats in the fall! Be on the lookout for these pumpkin inspired yummies!

The only things on the list I haven’t tried are the ones highlighted in yellow. #means I didn’t care for it. * means I have to have it at least once every fall!

*Pumpkin Spice Latte (Eat ‘n Park is the best!)
*Cheataccino (gas station cappuccino)
*Coffee (I’ll be ordering a Couple boxes of PS K-cups next week!)
Tea

Cookies
*Donuts (At a cider mill or orchard is the best, but Dunkin Donuts does good ones too!)
Loaf (I make a loaded Christmas loaf with pumpkin and spice that I rather like)
Cake
Muffins
*Scones (Starbucks)

*Ice cream
Shakes (McDonalds are great)

Egg nog (I called it Pumpkin Nog)
Cream cheese (Philadelphia, but I couldn’t find it to try it last year)
Yogurt (Couldn’t find it to try it.)

Pudding (Jello instant, YUM!)
Oatmeal (Made my own with pumpkin spice creamer)
Peanut butter (Jif WILL try this year)

***Soup (Zoup, OMG)

#Beer, Ale, Shandy (The pumpkin beer I tried was okay, but not really a Nani choice)

Pumpkin butter (I’ve bought a jar at a fruit market and made a batch of my own; an excellent fall addition for biscuits, toast or anything you’d use a fruit butter with!)

Snack pie (McDonald’s has a hot pumpkin McPie which I love. I think Hostess does one too)

Pop Tarts (I WILL find these this year!)
Oreos
Pepperidge Farms Pumpkin Spice Milano cookies

***Pumpkin Spice M&Ms
Pumpkin Spice Latte M&Ms (New this year and I want to try them. It might Pumpkin Spice repackaged or there may be 2 types of pumpkin M&Ms this year)
Hershey Kisses (These are good, but they are pumpkin spice white chocolate confection, not chocolate)
*Candy Corn (Seriously, pumpkin spice candy corn – OH MY!)

**Pancakes (IHOP has done these for many years and they are fantastic!)

Fudge
Salt Water Taffy
Marshmallows
Chewing gum
Toffee (Trader Joes)
Salted caramels 

*Almonds (Blue Diamond – fabulous!)
Candied Pumpkin Seeds (Trader Joes and Nature Box, both excellent with baked sweet potatoes!)
Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Truffles (tried these in Vermont last year – YUM!)

Are you a pumpkin spice fan? What are some of your favorites?