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Showing posts from November, 2015

24-Hour Product Diary

I love the 24-Hour Product Diaries on Millihelen, an offshoot blog from Jezebel. Of course that blog is being closed so there will be no more diaries. I found some good recommendations via the blogs and it was fun to see such personal but helpful information from writers.

I wanted to write my own product diary and have had it on my "blog post idea" list, so here we go on the last day of NaBloPoMo! This is a fictional day because I don't wash my hair every day, and I wear make up even less often. I'll start my diary at night, since I shower before bed. I'm super lazy in the mornings! Sorry for no pictures -- that's how it goes with a fictional day!

10 p.m. - Wash hair with Chi Infra Shampoo and Conditioner, and while the conditioner sets wash body with Aveeno unscented body wash. When I was pregnant with Jane I was extra sensitive to scents and started using this. I've kept it up, aside from a travel size Bath & Body Works warm vanilla sugar body wash …

One Month as a Bullet Journalist

Or maybe it's bullet journaler? The official Bullet Journal website calls them journalists though, and I like that. There's a video on that site that explains the basic set up.
I first heard about bullet journaling on Miss Zoot's blog. She's a super bullet journalist and has perfected the system to work for her. A quick look on Pinterest finds tons of boards and cool ideas for layouts. It's pretty intimidating and inspiring at the same time.
The idea for a bullet journal is that you put your lists in one place. No more floating pieces of paper with notes and to do lists. It's all in one notebook and you create an index and page numbers so you can find lists later. I used to use a Franklin Covey planner (still have it and it serves as my hard copy address book despite being so ginormous), but lately I'd been without a real planning system and relied on assorted lists, calendars and my memory (never a good thing to rely on!).
The preferred notebook seems to b…

A Habit: One Daily Bible Reading

This year I've been reading through the Bible again with my One Year Bible, New Living Translation. I've used my Kindle Fire, which is nice to make highlights and look back on. I rarely write in real books, including my Bible. I've mostly shifted to reading digitally, but there's something special about a torn up, well-used Bible. I've read through my hard copy of this book at least twice in my life. It's pretty convenient to have the Kindle option for travel, not that I did much this year, but I almost always go to bed with my Kindle in my hand. (I do my reading at the end of the day. Maybe someday I'll shift to morning devotional, but I don't know.)

Anyway, I can look up the things I've marked via the Kindle browser reading app, and I thought I'd record some of them here. I'm (obviously) not finished with the year, but Dec. 31 isn't part of NaBloPoMo, and who knows if I'd remember to do it or even be up for doing it then?! This was…

Disk Digger Solution to Recover Video Files on SD Card

Even though I've officially passed off the responsibility for recording and posting the weekly sermon videos my anxiety remains elevated about the whole thing since the new guy hasn't been successful yet (all my fault)!

One of my biggest gaffes was unintentionally completely erasing a memory card. I had imported that day's video files to the computer already, but of course after the mistaken erasing (I meant to just remove some of the older videos) the files were not on the computer.


I spent all day fretting and trying different things, knowing that I had an "import complete" message before I removed the SD card from the computer. Finally I stumbled upon Disk Digger, a free piece of software that I was able to use. I think I just did it on my PC instead of the church Mac, and it really was free (unlike a lot of the other utilities that come up with you search for "restore SD card" or similar).

Between every file you had to do two clicks to continu…

Thanksgiving Cooking, Day 2 and Birthday

Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. You say it's your birthday. Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. Happy birthday to you! 
I woke up to Shawn singing "Happy Thanksgiving to you, Happy Thanksgiving to you. It's also your birthday, let's celebrate that too!" Sweet. I got to open presents on Thanksgiving, and I'll get to do it again on Christmas in less than a month (!).
Shawn preheated the oven for me, and I put the turkey in just about 7:30 a.m. (My family tradition is to eat at lunch so I keep that going. Mainly I like to get it over with AND I like having the leftovers ready for supper.) Pretty sure I made a mistake by cooking the turkey with the giblet/organ bag, but whatever I did I couldn't find it pre-roasting! The turkey was pre-brined from Trader Joe's ($25 for 12 lbs). And the turkey turned out OK even with that dumb mistake.
Last night I did make my Parker House rolls, a recipe from Bon Appetit, a copy of the magazine I got as a hand-me-down from a fri…

Thanksgiving Cooking, Day 1

More freebie spaces for NaBloPoMo -- just write what you cooked that day. OMG I worked for hours this morning, a bit more this afternoon and plan to make the Parker House rolls this evening (bake tomorrow). And I still have to make supper! (Quick turkey chili and some corn muffins.)

I multi-tasked a lot in the kitchen, but the first completed dish was the broccoli mushroom salad. It's the thing that needed dill, tarragon and basil. I never found fresh tarragon so used 1 tsp of dry instead of 1 TB of fresh. The recipe is from Real Simple, and I have the page torn from the actual issue.

Next to be complete was the cranberry Jello salad, which is an improvised version from our church cookbook using my mom's tweaks to make it sugar free. Instead of marshmallows we use lowfat cream cheese and of course swap Splenda for sugar. It fits perfectly in the crystal bowl Shawn's grandma gave us when she moved from her house to an apartment.

I deviled (or "doubled") 12 eggs, e…

A Meatloaf Recipe Tweak

Last night I made a meatloaf at my mother-in-law's request. It's a combo recipe from Saveur Magazine (number 165) and my Gran's recipe, which turns out was borrowed from another church friend.

When Gran sent me her recipe years ago she left out a crucial ingredient -- the binder, in her case oatmeal or crackers -- and I could never get it to turn out right. Finally my sister clued me in to my mistake. D'oh! Gran's recipe uses dry onion soup mix for flavoring, so I that taste is always top notch to me although maybe too processed for some. (My Grandma Jane would mix that soup mix with sour cream and serve with real Lay's potato chips for holiday appetizers and oh-em-gee that's some tasty stuff too. Ah, memories!)

The Saveur recipe is tasty and uses cornflakes for the binder, which makes a sweeter meatloaf -- never a bad thing to my taste buds but not the best for managing my health! It also uses a small yellow onion minced, but I found when I use that it…

Upgrade Her

About a month ago we finally upgraded Jane to a true big girl bed. She had been sleeping in the toddler bed version of her crib for more than a year, and after a round of visits during the summer we decided to do the big switcheroo.

At first she just used the regular twin sheet, the comforter we had on the bed before and her crocheted blankets and handmade quilts that were sized for the crib. But after a bit of searching and thinking I got her a duvet cover from Overstock and sheets from Macy's (on great sale). Wham, bam we had a fully upgraded big girl bed!

She fell out of bed once, although I didn't see her out of bed she was just crying and hysterical and said she'd fallen out by the time I got in there. It was traumatic since Shawn was gone, and I didn't know how to install the rail that was given to us by a former coworker along with the twin bed. I just put the crib mattress on the floor to catch her if she should fall again, which she didn't. Now we have the…

Disappointing People

The church website redesign is basically complete except for a few tweaks that the guy we're PAYING to work on it has to complete. It's been nearly two months since we launched, and he hasn't found the time to finish up. We already paid his invoice, including some extra time for these items (he estimated 2 hours, so seriously how could he have not found two hours to finish in two months?!). I finally heard from him that he's out of town/not working at all this week so...

One of the things I needed his help on was mobile-friendly email templates. We're still using Constant Contact, which is fine/everyone knows how to use, but it's an additional expense to Business Catalyst, which is supposed to be our all-in-one solution for web and email marketing needs. It would be if I were savvier and/or if this technical contact had time to complete the work.

Every time I try to modify the mobile-friendly templates that came with our website theme I manage to mess up someth…

Description of A Saturday

I am quite tired, and I'm running low on motivation and blog post topics. I thought I'd catalog my day to explain why I'm tired.

I woke up pre-7 a.m., which sucks because I could have stayed in bed for at least a little longer. On weekdays I am a total zombie and could sleep SUPER late, but I always get up for school prep. Theoretically I could go back to bed after Shawn and Jane leave, but 1) I usually have some work to do and 2) after breakfast and being awake/upright I'm not sleepy anymore.

So by about 9 a.m. today I had finished a load of laundry/started a second, eaten breakfast, gone to vote (#teamJBE despite being very opposed with some of his positions I am much more in line with him than the other choice, Darth Vitter) and a made quick trip to Trader Joe's for the Thanksgiving turkey. I also got some Harvest Blend tea that a friend recommended and some turkey gravy since the turkey I bought is brined and the drippings would be too salty for regular gravy (…

Stocking Stuffers 2015

I am starting to think about Christmas and buying things here and there, especially for Jane's stocking. I wrote about some of the things I put in her stocking last year.

I've been stocking up (get it?) on little giftie items, and I had some good finds at CVS of all places at the end of the summer. I got some bubbles and a jump rope and other summery things that are thankfully still mostly usable here in southern Louisiana during December. (And if not they're still fun to open and she can use them when spring rolls around in January - HA!) I meant to check out Halloween clearance to see if I could find any small goodies that would be appropriate for a stocking (or maybe even to stuff Easter eggs in March), but I never made it to a store in early November to check it out. D'oh!

I also have some extra Play-Doh from the "Doh Glad You're in My Class" birthday giveaway, so those will be going into her stocking and really filling it up. I have bought a few thin…

Reading Maniac

2015 Reading Challenge Mari has completed her goal of reading 100 books in 2015! hide 105 of 100 (100%) view books
I made a goal this year to read 100 books. I met the goal in late September, and since then my reading has slowed to a glacial pace. And I haven't been doing anything to make up for the time -- it's not like I have a huge crochet project, work or something.

I read mostly on my Kindle Fire, and almost exclusively with library books. I love our library system full stop, and the Overdrive system is great. If there's a book I'd like that they don't have I can request it. I've only done it two or three times, but every time I'm reading what I want within a few days with no direct cost to me. It's a great way to spend our taxes, in my opinion. And there's no digital or physical detritus building up because the LIBRARY keeps all that. (There are very few books I feel like I need my own copies of, despite owning way too many phys…

At Your Own Risk

Driving on campus is perilous, and I do it at least five times a week to pick up Jane from school. This week I also dropped her off two mornings while Shawn was home with repair-type people.

First are the pedestrians - college students who are paying no attention. I can usually manage to be safe when they're in the crosswalks lollygagging, listening to music and staring dumb-facedly into their phones. But it's when they randomly step off the curb into oncoming traffic that I have panic attacks.

Sometimes you can get caught at a class change, mainly on MWF because we pick up at 12:30 and that's a class start time. Then you can be stuck behind several cars as a flow of seemingly hundreds (probably just dozens) of students ambles along slowly.

Second there are the bikes, and I think they're worse. Some bikers act like vehicles, i.e. obey the law, and others ride on sidewalks, shoot out into cross walks or simply ride in the street going the wrong way. My heart has droppe…


In April I read Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans. I cried my contacts out when I finished it, and I took some notes as a response at the time, thinking I would blog about it sometime. NaBloPoMo is a perfect opportunity, right?

My favorite parts were the personal stories - I am nosy and will read minutiae about almost anyone's life. I loved the honesty. I've read Evans' other books and regularly read her blog. She writes some great stuff. I admire her and wish I could be as bold and clear in writing about my faith, not to mention so articulate. She's a great writer.

Although my core beliefs haven't changed the way hers did I can identify with Evans' journey and story so much. I am still United Methodist, but my political leanings have done a 180 as my faith has developed, deepened and my understanding grown. I am so lucky to have grown up in my open denomination and to have had such role models of faith - especial…

Copyright Issues and My Church

I have strong feelings about copyright law. I'm not an attorney, but I AM a writer and care about proper credit for published work and maintaining rights. My church doesn't see things the same way I do. And I'm not sure if I should say anything, and if so what.
Last Sunday, 11/8, a performance of a piece of music from a worship service was recorded and published on Facebook (although not the sermon of course...I think my blinding rage is turning to eye-rolling annoyance, so that's progress). I have recommended against doing this without getting permission first, but that advice went unheeded. Not that I'm surprised about that. 
There are mechanical licenses that can be obtained to grant permission to broadcast music recordings from worship services. I think we obtain permission to perform pieces during the services, so maybe that covers the re-broadcasting permission too and I'm overreacting. But I don't think so because when someone asked me about i…

Gift Ideas for a 4-Year-Old Girl

Jane got a lot of great gifts for her birthday this year, so I thought I'd catalog her favorites as a gift guide for people looking to shop for a 4-year-old or gift guide for preschoolers. (Some affiliate links used, but not all.)

Jane got some great books yesterday, Make Way for Ducklings and This Book Just Ate My Dog. Books are always a safe bet for Jane, and we didn't have a copy of either. She got other books and a National Geographic Little Kids subscription. I highly recommend mag subscriptions as gifts for kids because it encourages reading and gives them something fun in the mail each month. We also really like High Five, and Disney Jr. is OK (I pay for both of those).

A great toy that she got was this Minnie Mouse magnetic dress up doll. It's similar to her Minnie Mouse snap-on dress up doll (from a consignment sale last year), but definitely the magnetic one would be easier for littler hands to manipulate. I also got her a Melissa & Doug mermaid magnetic dres…

An "Everything" Birthday Party for a 4-Year-Old

Jane didn't really talk about her birthday party much during planning. But sometime this week she started saying she wanted an "everything" party. That's a really good thing because that's sort of what I was planning -- a hodge podge of decorations and low key playing with her friends.

I got an email about free shipping for Halloween goodies from Oriental Trading. I already had my Halloween giveaways (and I have so many glow bracelets left over it's ridiculous -- thanks to super rainy weather at our church trunk-or-treat), but I did need things for Jane's party so I took advantage. I got 12 Minnie Mouse balloons, 48 blue and pink regular balloons (only one dud in the bunch), and a Doc Happy Birthday banner. I also got blue with white snowflake punch balloons (a la Frozen) and birthday bubbles (just because) to put in pink treat bags as thank-you-for-coming-gifts. I found Hello Kitty napkins on clearance at Target (52 cents per pack!), where I also got som…

God Loves...

We go to a Sunday school class at our church. Over a year ago we switched from one that had a lot of just slightly older than us couples that didn't include much Bible in the lessons to a class with mostly decades-older than us couples who directly study Scripture. Both classes are fine, but I am pretty sure I have more to gripe about with this one, although I'm staying the course for now.

As far as I can tell everyone else in the class is very right-leaning and conservative. That's cool, and I like being exposed to ideas different than mine. But some things are hard to swallow, especially when we completely disagree on Scripture interpretation. I also don't like their parenting advice (lots of spanking, for example) or the majority opinions on racism and justice (but that's another post). Pretty much every week there's something I don't agree with - minor or major. It makes good conversation fodder for Shawn and me, so I guess that's something.

A coupl…

Gotcha Journalism

I'm not an editor, but ... sometimes I play one from my living room couch.

(And I have two journalism degrees so I'm qualified for arm-chair editing, right?)

I watch the 10 pm news a few times a week, and I always get agitated by at least one story. Local TV journalism is always really weak. Even when we were in NYC it was a joke. But Baton Rouge is ridiculous to new degrees.

Recently here there was a story about some football player meeting with an NFL coach. The player didn't live in Baton Rouge anymore but was in town because he was being questioned in connection with a crime. The reporter camped out at the restaurant and got a waiter to give him information about what the player ordered to eat. It was the weirdest thing because 1) WHO CARES and 2) what a weird invasion of privacy. I get that he's a public figure, but how does knowing he ordered steak (or whatever it was) advance the story? They even broke into other news to show (LIVE!) the guy walking out of the r…

TIBTIL: Squeezmo

A few weeks ago I came down with a cold. I wanted to drink something hot in the morning but coffee was unappealing. So I turned to my trusty electric kettle and Community Coffee tea bags. It's been good to get back into a tea drinking state of mind, but I didn't like wasting the last juices from the tea bag (or burning my fingers trying to squeeze out the last bit).

I searched Amazon for tea bag squeezers. There are a lot of types, and I was thinking I would get something metal like a tiny pair of tongs. But then I came across Squeezmo Tea Squeeze (affiliate link), and I've been very happy with the purchase. It's a Thing that I Bought That I Love.

Basically it's a silicon sleeve or pouch, a little bigger than a tea bag and it has a spout. You drop in the bag, squeeze it and then pour the tea back into your cup. The Squeezmo holds the tea bag, which is great because I don't have those little tea saucers hanging around. If I stop the brew soon enough I can get tw…

Birthday Flowers

Our church does a thing where people can put flowers on the altar in memory or honor of someone. When I realized Jane's birthday would be a Sunday this year I signed up for that week. Later we got the invite for my cousin's wedding on the same weekend, but I kept the slot.

I ordered flowers from the recommended florist because they have a key to the sanctuary and can deliver without someone be there. Ca-ching.

I hope the florist kicks back to the church or.makes an annual donation or something because damn. I spent more on the flowers than all her other gifts combined. And flowers die!

I only gave the instruction to "use pink," and pink they are. I still don't have a receipt because the florist has no website or email ability and didn't want to spend the 49 (?) cents to mail it to me. The florist said she would drop it at my house if she happened to be in the neighborhood. LOL. More top notch customer service. Good grief.

The flowers were gorgeous, and I was …

Doh Glad to Be a 4-Year-Old's Mama

Yesterday was Jane's fourth birthday. It's basically a free space in NaBloPoMo because obviously I can write on and on about my love for Jane, the speed of time since her birth and her latest antics. I could even fill space with what drives me crazy about parenting. But the annoyance of church stuff, the travel and utter exhaustion from a quick weekend wedding trip led me to hold until today.

Suffice it to say that I love Jane more than I could explain. It's hard to believe four years have passed since she was taken from my body. There are too many antics to list, but she's picking up lots of new phrases from her classmates like "Aw, man!" and "What the heck is this?" (We're trying to nip that last one in the bud, but it's better than "Goddamnit!" which was one she learned from yours truly...)

Last night I put together some class gifts for Jane to give her friends at school. I think cupcakes/sweets are overused and not the best way…

Smoke Out My Ears

I was going to tweet about this, but couldn't figure out how to shrink it down to 140 characters. Then I remembered I needed to write a blog post today and I can use as many gee-dee characters as I want. AH.

A very minor church snafu has me all riled up and upset. I am IRRATIONALLY mad, blaming everyone (including myself) and full of rage about the whole thing.

I am responsible for recording, processing and posting the weekly sermon videos. Since we were out of town this week I asked someone else to please record. OK, no problem. This person is NOTORIOUSLY unreliable, but she is a video expert and can work a camera (I've had problems in the past with people not being able to make the camera work).

Unfortunately the battery I had left had somehow worn itself down -- despite being FULLY charged when I left it. Instead of recording the sermon like I asked she spent battery power on recording (copyrighted) music performance, which she then posted (against copyright, I'm sure -…