Friday, December 05, 2014

Best Books of 2014 and a Christmas Book Selection

I've read 165 books so far in 2014, and rated 27 of them as 5 stars on Goodreads. I suppose I should wait until the end of the year to see if any more books rate 5 stars, but I was thinking about end of year lists, so I'll go ahead and list these here now.

The Runestone Incident, by Neve Maslakovic
The Language of Spells & The Secrets of Ghosts, both by Sarah Painter
A Second Chance, & A Trail Through Time, both by Jodi Taylor
The Damsel and the Daggerman, by Delilah S. Dawson
Mission to Murder & Guidebook to Murder, both by Lynn Cahoon
Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
The Cat Sitter's Nine Lives, by Blaize & John Clement
Midnight Crossroad, by Charlaine Harris
Don't Look Back, by Greg Hurwitz
The White Magic Five and Dime, by Steve Hockensmith
Vanished, by Kendra Elliot
Second Star to the Right, by Mary Alice Monroe
Serpent's Kiss & Oracle's Moon, both by Thea Harrison
When I Found You & Take Me With You, both by Catherine Ryan Hyde
One Breath Away, by Heather Gudenkauf
Half Off Ragnarok and The Winter Long, both by Seanan McGuire
Night Broken, by Patricia Briggs
Broken Homes, by Ben Aaronovitch
Mortal Danger, by Ann Aguirre
Hard Return, by J. Carson Black

I've loaded my Kindle apps with a bunch of Christmas books, and that's what I intend to concentrate on in the weeks before Christmas. These look like the best bets so far, mostly anthologies:

Cozy Christmas Capers, a holiday short story collection
My True Love Gave to Me, a holiday story anthology edited by stephanie Perkins
Cat Deck the Halls and Cat Coming Home, both by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Fatal Fruitcake, by Mary Kay Andrews
Kiss of Christmas Magic, a paranormal holiday anthology
A Fantastic Holiday Season, an anthology edited by Kevin J. Anderson
A Fantastic Holiday Season Volume 2, a anthology edited by Kevin J. Anderson and Keith J. Olexa
Let it Snow, a speculative fiction holiday nthology
Let it Snow, three holiday romances edited by John Green
A Cosmic Christmas, edited by Hank Davis
A Cosmic Christmas 2 You, edited by Hank Davis

And of course, there's always Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, by Connie Willis

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Book Series Recommendation

It's been awhile since I discovered a new (to me) series that I can read all the way through without waiting for the next book, so I'm very happy that I discovered Thea Harrison's "Elder Races" series this fall.

I somehow ran across a $.99 short story set in the series called Peanut Goes to School. It had an adorable cover, and after I downloaded and read the free sample, I went ahead and bought it. It turned out to be about the young son of two shapeshifters, one of whom was a dragon. To my surprise, I found it to be very well written, and I enjoyed it very much. So I ended up purchasing the first full length book, Dragon Bound, shortly thereafter.

The series is set in a world where there are shapeshifters, fairies, vampires, etc., which isn't all that different from a lot of paranormal novels. But there's just something about the way Harrison writes that brings this world to life in a wonderful way that I haven't experienced in awhile. Maybe it's because I'm gorging on them.

Dragon Bound is about Dragos, a shapeshifting dragon -- the shapeshifting dragon. There are a lot of other shapeshifters, but only one dragon. Normally I would scoff because the premise sounds so crazy, but once I started it, I couldn't put it down. It's a romance -- a young shapeshifter woman (Pia) (not a dragon, but we don't find out what she is until much later) is blackmailed into stealing something from the dragon's hoard, and even though it's only a penny, the dragon notices that it's gone and devotes himself to finding who stole it and why.

It's a romance (obviously), and it's just wonderful.

The rest of the books are:

No. 2 - Storm's Heart, about Tiago (the Thunderbird) and Tricks (an elf)

I really enjoyed Storm's Heart. Both Tiago and Tricks are employees of Dragos'. Tiago is an ancient Native American God and Tricks is an elf, Dragos' PR person. Part of what makes these books so addictive is the protective aspect of the (very) alpha males.

No. 3 - Serpent's Kiss, about Rune (a gryphon) and Carling (a vampire)

Each of the books are about a different couple, and when I read that the third book was about Rune, a gryphon and Dragos' second, and Carling, the former queen of the vampires, I put off reading it for a couple of weeks. I just didn't warm up to Carling when she appeared in the other books. But I finally bought it, and as I was reading it, I was thinking, don't even worry about the rest of them, just buy them, they will all be wonderful.

No. 4 - Oracle's Moon, about Grace (an oracle) and Khalil (a djinn)

I was a little hesitant about the fourth one as well, Oracle's Moon, but I bought it yesterday and finished it this morning, and it is my favorite so far. I thought the oracle would be interesting, but again, I hadn't warned up to Khalil, the djinn, in the other books. But he turned out to be one of the most interesting characters, mostly because he is the least human (of course, not human at all).

It might actually be one of the best books I have ever read. So I have no qualms about buying the rest of the series:

No. 5 - Lord's Fall, Dragos and Pia again

No. 6 - Kinked, about Aryal, a Harpy and Quentin. Okay, I'm a little leery of this one, because after reading some reviews it sounds a little, well, "kinky," but I'll give it a shot.

No. 7 - Night's Honor - Tess and Xavier (vampire)

No. 8 - Midnight's Kiss (due to be published 5/5/15) - Julian (vampire) and Melisande (fae)

There are several other novellas and short stories sprinkled throughout, and Harrison's website lists them all in order.

I just wanted to mention these books in case anyone else is looking for a really absorbing series to get lost in.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday

I'm not a big shopper.  I'm a big browser, I guess, but I don't really buy a lot of stuff.  I do go out on Black Friday, but traditionally, I make it a day for myself and just buy a few little things.  Today I gathered up my coupons, and went out at around 9:30.  My day:

Starbucks: A Grande Peppermint Mocha, free, using my filled-up holiday drink sticker card (buy 5, get one free)

Ulta: A free mascara for my birthday.  I also tried to convince the salesgirl that shampoo was on sale, when it clearly wasn't, because I knew I had seen it.  Turned out, it was on sale at:

Beauty Brands: The shampoo I use, Matrix Biolage Color Care, was half price, a normally $19.99 liter bottle for $10.

Kohls: I had a 15% off coupon, plus a $10 "gift" coupon.  I'd been wanting some stud earrings.  I knew I couldn't afford diamonds, and most of the cheap cubic zirconium ones are too sparkly and fake looking, but I wanted to look again.  I wanted some yellow gold ones.  I was going to settle for a sterling silver pair, but found some 10K gold ones with white topaz stones.  They're a little larger than I wanted, but very pretty.  The original price was $125.  They were on sale, then there was an extra 20% off, and with my 15% off plus my $10, they ended up being around $27, which I didn't think was bad.

Then I had lunch at Long John Silver's, using a coupon for a free fish sandwich.  It was pretty good.

Then I went to Barnes & Noble.  I had a 30% off coupon that was only good today.  I had gone online and had them save a calendar for me, one that I get Bob every year (shhh), and I wanted to be sure to get it.  So I got that, and I used the 30% off coupon for a small red Moleskine agenda to carry in my purse.  I haven't given up on the big Daytimer--I still use it for work--but it's too big to carry around all day, and I like to have something small to write in if the urge strikes.

So then I went to Target, but first I stopped at Macy'sShopKick was doing a big Black Friday push where you got 200 walk-in points at several locations, so I walked into Macy's and got 200 points, then went to Target, and with the 200 points there, plus the ones I already had, I had enough for a $4 coupon, which I used to buy a $5 DVD copy of "The Holiday."

And I went to WalMart to see if I could get a DVD that Bob wanted, but they didn't have it, so that was kind of a waste, except that I got another 200 ShopKick points.  I also went to CVS to try to spend a $3 birthday coupon, but I didn't really need or want anything and was getting tired, so I went to Hen House to get a couple of things--bread, 7-Up, and tortilla chips, and came home.

I pretty much had a coupon for everything, and any actual money I spent came off of a gift card that I had been given in thanks for some work I did, so I didn't spend any real money at all. Pretty good day, actually.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


When did it become acceptable to use "ask" as a noun, i.e., "I need to take care of a client ask," or "Here's a list of the asks."  What's wrong with "question," or "request," or "requirement?"  Too many syllables?  Where did it come from?  Is this just a case of someone trying to be clever and it spilled over into marketing-speak?  I've started to hear it all over the place, and I think the thing that annoys me about it the most is that it's not a new, made-up, word, but an existing word used in a weird, awkward way.  I see no need for it.

I went to the allergy doctor several months ago and he said that he believed that I had both asthma and acid reflux, which often go together.  He prescribed several, well, five, medications for me.  I dutifully filled the prescriptions and have been taking everything at the mandated times.

For about a month I have had excruciating pain in my knees. I figured I had twisted my knee or something, although I couldn't really remember anything.  I wore a brace for awhile, and that helped, but I hated to get dependent on it.  It was getting so bad that I could hardly walk.  Hot baths helped, but getting in and out of the tub was almost impossible due to the pain in my knees.  I've been hobbling around like an old woman, thinking maybe I'm just too heavy, and I reached the point at which my knees could no longer take it.

On Friday evening, I was lying in bed with my legs up over a pillow to keep them in a semi-bent position, which seemed to work the best.  If I laid when them out straight, it was terrible to bend them, and vice versa.  I thought, this is ridiculous, I feel like I'm in a hospital bed. And I had this epiphany--maybe the joint pain was a side effect of one of the new meds I was taking, because it didn't really make any sense.  The arrival of the knee pain corresponded closely with the time that I stopped using a sample Symbicort inhaler that the doctor had given me, and started using a new one, Advair, since my insurance wouldn't cover the Symbicort.

So I didn't take anything on Saturday or Sunday, and Monday morning I would estimate my knees felt 80% better.  On Monday afternoon, though, my chest was feeling tight, so I went ahead and took an asthma pill (Singulair), and I was having heartburn later in the afternoon, so I took the acid reducer (famotidine) when I went to bed. I did not use the Advair inhaler, which is what I believe is causing the problem.  (This may be just because I hate it -- it tastes bad, is unpleasant to use, and is very expensive.)

Last night I ran a bunch of errands after work -- got gas, went to Bed, Bath and Beyond for a small space heater and humidifier supplies, picked up a book at the library, cashed a check at the bank, went to Kohl's to spend a $5 coupon that expired today, and went to the grocery store.  By the time I got home several hours later, my legs were really tired and sore, but they didn't feel too bad this morning, certainly better than they had for weeks.

I called the doctor's office yesterday, wanting to talk to him to see if it was plausible that one of the meds was causing the joint pain, and someone from the office called back this morning.  She said he had left a note that I was to stop all meds for one week, then add them back in, one per week, and see if the pain came back.  This was extremely upsetting, because the whole reason I had gone to him in the first place was that I was coughing so badly that I was sleeping on the couch so as not to keep Bob up, and maybe sleeping two or three consecutive hours a night.

I understand what he is trying to do, and it makes sense, but I just don't see how I can do it.  I would be absolutely miserable for six weeks without anything to treat the asthma, allergies, or acid reflux.  The nurse asked, "Is that something that you can do," and I told her no, I just didn't see how I could.  I said that I would think about it and maybe call the doctor back next week.  I don't know what to do.  I really like the doctor, and I want to do what he says, but I just don't think I can do it.  I think I'll try a few more days without the Advair and see how it goes. That will be my version of a scientific experiment.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Creating habits

I'm doing a photo-a-day thing over on Instagram. I love Instagram, and I'm having a lot of fun playing around with different photography apps and filters, and making my photos look interesting (at least to me). The person running the project picks four photos each day, and I don't know whether to say they're the "best," or her favorites, or what the criteria is. She says that's difficult, and I'm sure it is. I've looked at a few of the ones that were picked, and so many of them look like professional photos, with lightboxes and staged object and posed subjects. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I couldn't be less interested.

I love the little moments, the everyday things. I love seeing a blurry photo of someone's scruffy dog, or the flowers that they got for their anniversary, or their kids' Halloween costumes. My own photos tend to be what I see out the window at work, or Dinah lying in her chair, or one of the dogs at work acting goofy, or a fortune cookie fortune that tickled me. I try to make a nice composition, at least sometimes, but I usually don't give it a lot of thought. For me, the point is recoding something from my day, and making the commitment to look for something beautiful, or at least interesting, in that day. And to take the photo of that everyday object and play around with it and make it more interesting, or more beautiful.

Rachel Herron writes:

That part, the cataloguing, feels important to me. We’re so good at posting the pretty and the perfect. We like Pinterest for a reason. Pretty is attractive. We like the well lit, the well composed, the perfect. It’s good to open that up and post the real things, the attempts that don’t work as well as the ones that do.

She's talking about a sketch-a-day project that she's doing, but the sentiment is the same.

This month the project is alphabetical, i.e., the first day of the month was A, the second day B, and so on. I couldn't think of anything for yesterday (N) until I went to the cabinet for a snack and saw the container of mixed nuts. Aha! The picture isn't very well composed, or particularly interesting, but it's a slice of my life, and when I see it I will remember the process of creating it.

The benefits are two-fold. One, it's a commitment to do something every day, whether inspiration strikes or not. Because you can't wait for inspiration to strike, you have to forge ahead and keep your eyes open, and make it happen. Make it happen every day, make it into a habit, and it will be so much fun to look back on. I'm also doing two other "every day" projects right now. One is affirmations that I write every morning, and the other is a gratitude journal that I write every night. I put them in my iPhone reminders, and it is always a temptation to say, "oh well, it doesn't matter if I skip a day," but it does matter.

Two, it's creative. It may be a tiny bit of creativity, but it's creativity, and every little bit helps push me to the next level. It's like Anne Lamotte's concept of "shitty first drafts," or Barbara Bretton's "butt to chair." You just put it out there, and keep putting it out there, and even if the first iteration is terrible (and it almost always will be), it will just keep getting better as time goes on. You just have to keep doing it.

So, I just keep doing it. Today's letter is O . . . .

(I designed Barbara Bretton's website, and I'm pretty proud of it. I'm not even going to put any caveats or false modesty in there, because I know it's good. Once in awhile you just get it right.)

(Oh, and I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year, and it's not like I have nothing else to do. But the busier I am, the more plates in the air, the better.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Photo apps and magical thinking

I like the idea of having rituals that I do every day, but I'm not very good at sticking to them. But there are all kinds of iPhone apps that help me do it, and I did pretty well in September.

I've tried to the "photo-a-day" thing before, but I always kind of fizzle out. In September I did it every day. Part of it was having fun with a bunch of iPhone photography apps, and having a new iPhone with the space to install a bunch of them.

Aside: When the new iPhone 6 came out, the price on the previous models dropped dramatically. I had a 16GB iPhone 4, and the home button was starting to be unreliable. I was able to get the 32GB 5S for $149. Then the battery on Bob's cell phone stopped holding a charge. We were both out of contract, and he could have gotten a 5C for free, but he decided he would be happy with my old 3G, so he swapped out the SIM card from his old phone, I added a data plan, and he's back in business with a new (to him) iPhone for just a few dollars more a month. He's really enjoying it.

My current favorite photo apps:

Instagram, of course. It might be my favorite app of all.

Little Moments. This is the app built for the Fat Mum Slim Photo a Day project. It has a bunch of nice filters and doodles. This is the photo-a-day project that I did in September and will probably continue with.

CCDays. I don't use this one so much for the photo-a-day challenge aspect as for the calendar view that automatically pulls in your Instagram photos and displays them.

Afterlight. A photo filter app with lots of nice, soft filters.

MagicHour. I love this one! It has tons of user-created filters, and new ones are added all the time. My favorite is the default "Magic Hour" filter.

Some more good ones:

DistressedFX. Lots of really nice distressed-looking filters, and you can add birds to your photos as well.

Aura. A nice group of good filters.

Instaplace. Adds overlays to your photos with location and other info.

Day of the Dead Me. Decorate your photos for the Day of the Dead!

I kind of got carried away with the iPhone photo apps, but there are a couple of other rituals that I am doing lately. One of them involves another iPhone app, this time, Gratitude Journal. I have it set to send me a reminder at 10:00 every night, and I open up the app and add at least 5 things that I'm grateful for. It's usually small things like getting a compliment, having something good for lunch, sleeping with the windows open, etc. And sometimes it's a stretch to think of five things, but it's a good exercise to go through every day, and I think it helps mood-wise.

I'm also doing affirmations first thing in the morning. I am going through a Daily Om course for the second (or maybe third) time, called "Make Yourself a Money Magnet." It's all about changing your mindset about money, and I have to admit mine is pretty bad. It's really hard for me to change my thought patterns, but I'm trying. It always seems to work to a certain degree, i.e., when I'm going through it I always start getting a bunch of little things, like finding coins in the street or getting my annual $1.87 dividend check from a former employer.

It's a form of magical thinking, of course, but I do think that if you can change your thought processes, you can sometimes make changes in your world. You just have to believe that change is possible.

Here's another photo app: Simplique - For making cool iPhone wallpaper from your photos.

Monday, September 29, 2014

I am so annoyed at Target

I used to love shopping at "my" Target store. It had everything I needed, I knew where everything was, and I just liked it. I almost never shopped anywhere else. I got all my groceries and drugstore items there, they had a great office supply department, household stuff, pretty much everything.

Then they remodeled. For the last few months it's been a mess, but I kept going, assuming they'd figure it all out and it would be the same, but better. That didn't happen. They finished, I guess, or at least it seems like it's finished, but it's kind of awful.

One of the reasons I liked it was because it was big, and spacious, and it was just kind of fun to wander around in. Now the aisles are VERY narrow, and REALLY long, it's almost claustrophobic. And they switched to those huge plastic carts that look children's toys, and you can barely get two of them down on of the newly narrow aisles. And of course, they've moved everything, which I expected, but I'm not really excited about doing a scavenger hunt every time I need something. I went there on Saturday, and I can't remember what it was, but there was something that I never did find. I just gave up.

Tonight I wanted to make soup when I got home, and I was thinking, well, Target has good produce, usually, I'll give it another shot. It's like the produce department is just for decoration now. I wanted celery, and they had a few packages of celery *hearts,* but no actual celery stalks. I like to use the tops in my soup, but nope, they didn't have any. They had baby carrots, but no whole ones. There was a lovely little display of peppers, though, like four of each color arranged very artistically.

It's like a boutique grocery store or something, like the one down at the lake that drives me nuts because they have one brand of pickles and one brand of jelly or whatever . . .

My dad complains that all the stores now want to be all things to all people, like how they're all adding gas stations and coffee shops so they can get all your money. I'm not sure what the aim here is, but I think at some point stores need to realize that they can't be all things to all people. I actually did enjoy going to Target as kind of a destination, but it was just because I could get what I wanted there, and it was a pleasant shopping experience.

I actually couldn't believe that they didn't have celery stalks. They had some organic celery for about twice what I was willing to pay. So I bailed and went to the Price Chopper across the street. Bye bye Target, it was nice knowing you.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

New site for Barbara Bretton

I designed a new site this weekend for my first client, author Barbara Bretton, to highlight the October re-release of two of her books set in the 40's and 50's.

Friday, September 12, 2014

How I set up my day planner

I've been enjoying my paper planner so much lately that I decided to write about it again. I know this is one of those "what is in my purse / what did I have for lunch" topics that not everyone is interested in, but it's the kind of post I love, so, so be it.

I, of course, keep a lot of information in my cell phone, and that's great, and I periodically try to just go with that, i.e., be electronic-only, but I haven't found a good enough notetaking alternative, and also, you know, when the zombie apocalypse comes, I'm going to be glad that I have all this stuff written down and not in my phone exclusively.

All kidding aside, there are a few things that I don't want to rely on my phone for, and two of them are phone numbers and medical records. A few years ago I read a book about a natural disaster that cut off the electricity, and once everyone's cell phones died, no one knew anyone else's phone numbers, because they didn't need to since they were in their phone. So I made up a little card that has my family's and friends' phone numbers on it, and I made one for Bob, too.

I also have a card in my wallet that lists the medications I'm currently taking, and the ones that Bob takes. Because that's something that's pretty important, and I can't always remember everything off the top of my head. If my phone is stolen, or lost, or dead, then I still have a record that I can refer to.

So, the binder.

My binder is a big, squishy Franklin Covey leather one in a light beige with a very subtle shimmer to it. I'm not sure what that's all about. I don't remember when I bought it, but it was a long time ago, and I'm sure it was on sale. It it the Classic size--5" x 8" -- with seven rings, and has a zipper all the way around, which I love; it keeps stuff from falling out, and keeps everything in much better shape than it would be in an open binder.

Some of the inserts are Franklin Planner and some are DayTimer, and a few are just random things that I have picked up in office supply stores. Oh, and I was SO disappointed to find that all of the Franklin Covey brick-and-mortar stores have closed, except for one in Minnesota or somewhere. I do understand that paper planners are sort of dinosaur-like given the current electronic climate, but I always enjoyed going into the stores and browsing. It's not possible now, everything has to be ordered over the internet.

From the front, the binder contains:

Plastic one-sheet hole punch, useful for punching random pieces of paper so they fit in the binder and don't get lost

Front inside zipper pocket: A few 3x5 cards and a small Post-It pad

Front inside card slots: Business cards (mine) and a credit card-sized calculator

Page lifter (one in the front and one in the back, this keeps the pages from getting messed up when I close the binder)

Vinyl zip pocket: Post-It flags and tabs

Business card holder - Business cards and reminder cards

Page protector containing the binder flyleaf with my contact information

Page protector containing a couple of photos of Bob and me

Plastic pocket divider page with return address labels and miscellaneous loose papers

Dividers - I couldn't find what I wanted, so I created these myself by cutting down some clear plastic dividers I already had. The tabs are:

Phone - Emergency phone numbers and other numbers I refer to frequently

Calendars - Planning calendars that came with the planner insert, from 2014 to 2022!

Work - Information that I need to have easily accessible for work

Personal - Current medications, medical history, Christmas list, other miscellaneous personal information

Book Notes - I'm working on a new book, so this section holds notes, research, lists, scenes, brainstorming, etc., related to the book project

After the tabs are some lined blank paper, then

Two page per month calendar tabs for a year (July 2014 to June 2015)

One month of DayTimer Classic Size (5x8) two-page-per-day daily pages. When the month is finished I go through all of the daily pages for that month and put any important information on the monthly diary record on that month's tab page, then remove the month's pages and add the next month. I leave the calendar page dividers there so I can refer back to them. I wish I had room for more months, ideally three -- the previous month, the current month, and the next month -- but I just don't. It makes the binder too full and hard to close. I just have to be diligent in making notes on the calendar pages that I can transfer to the daily pages when I put them in.

I've tried different brands and different sizes and layouts, and I always come back to this one. Franklin Planner has a comparable design, but I like DayTimer's better. The paper is wonderful, smooth and thick, and I like the layout. The left-hand page has a "To be done" section, an appointment section with times from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., a "Phone calls" section, and an Expense and Reimbursement Record section.

The right-hand page is called Diary and Work Record, and it's a completely blank, lined page, and that's my favorite part. I use it for meeting notes, journaling, and lately, affirmations. If I run out of room, I just go get one of the blank pages and stick it in there and keep on writing.

And two pens in the pen loops, a black one and a pink one for making things stand out -- both are Pilot G-2 07 roller balls, my current favorite pens.

Over the years I've gotten tired of carrying a big binder around and tried smaller ones, but for me, they just aren't as useful or satisfying, so for now, this is it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Back to paper

I can't remember what prompted it, but a couple of months ago I decided to start using a paper planner again. It could have been something as simple as seeing someone using a nice planner in a meeting, or reading a brief mention in a book or something. I don't remember, but whatever it was, it set me off on a journey to document my life by hand.

I've used paper planners for a long time, all my life, really, but with the advent of the iPhone and iPad, it began to feel like a burden to carry a big book around. It seemed like I should be able to keep everything in my phone, and I always have the phone with me anyway, so why worry about an additional thing? I've tried taking notes on my iPad, and it just doesn't work that well for me. I've tried to find apps that simulate a notebook, and they're okay, but just not the same as actually writing with pen and paper.

There's something about writing by hand that is different than typing on a computer keyboard, at least for me. There's something about the act of writing things down, particularly notes from a meeting or discussion, that makes more of an impression on my brain, for lack of a better way to put it. I know that there have studies about that that find the same thing, that the act of forming the letters and words with a pen makes them "stick" better.

And I do enjoy it. It takes me awhile to get used to handwriting, I write so much on a keyboard. But there is something very pleasurable in picking up a nice pen and writing on nice, smooth paper. Over the years I have used several different planner systems. The two I have used most often are Franklin Covey and Day-Timer. I have a beautiful Franklin Covey binder that's just perfect. I've had it for years, and I reinstituted it for this incarnation of my planning life. It's unconstructed leather in a light taupe with a zipper all the way around. It has a zippered pocket inside, and lots of slip-in pockets. It's the desk size, for 5x8 fillers.

I chose to go with a Day-Timer refill this time. I actually think I like their paper better than Franklin Covey's, it seems smoother. I used to buy the decorated pages with flowers and cartoons and things, but I don't need that anymore. I bought the Day-Timer "Desk" size, which is equivalent to the Franklin Covey "Classic" size, i.e., about a half-sheet size, or approximately 5" x 8".

I use the two page per day version. On the left hand side are spaces for "to be done today," "phone calls," "expense and reimbursement record," and "Appointments and scheduled events. The right-hand side is lined, but otherwise not delineated. I use that page for extended notes on phone calls, meetings, or just as journaling space. I have a little business card-sized calculator in one of the slots, a USB thumb drive in the zipper pocket, stamps and return address labels in a vinyl pocket, and various post-it notes, flags and tabs in the back pockets, along with a few 3x5 cards. And two pens, a black one and a pink one, both Pilot G-2 .07, which is my current pen of choice.

The daily pages are divided by month, with two page per month dividers, and then in the front of the book I have blank lined sheets divided into "Phone," "Calendars," "Work," and "Personal." Those sections are for information that I have to refer to frequently, phone numbers and other info in the Work section, and medication lists, goals, and Christmas lists in the Personal section. I also have a new section, "Book Notes." I'm starting to work on a new book, so these pages hold notes and research which I then input into Scrivener, a software program that will be a whole other journal entry one of these days.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Kindle Unlimited

I know it's no secret that I read a lot. I read almost exclusively fiction, mostly urban fantasy (or paranormal) and mystery/thrillers, with a little "women's fiction" thrown in. I have also almost exclusively migrated to digital, rather than physical, books. I read on my iPhone, my iPad, and on my Kindle Fire. Less on the iPhone, usually if I'm waiting in line for something. Whether I read on the iPad or the Kindle mostly depends on which one is closer to hand.

I follow several blogs that post free and discounted Kindle books, and I'm also on a couple of email lists, so I pick up quite a few free ebooks that way. I keep track of new release dates for my favorite authors, and add upcoming books to my Amazon wish list. If I see a book that I think I might be interested in, I will usually go ahead and add it to my Amazon wish list, and send a free sample to one of my devices.

I know that there are many more proprietary ereaders out there, Kobo and Nook being the ones I can think of off the top of my head. If I see a mention of a free or sale book on one of those platforms, I will usually go get it, since I have their iOS apps on my iPad, but I usually don't even think to go read anything on them, I'm so happy with the Kindle experience.

I have also tried the subscription services -- Oyster, Scribd and Entitle. I believe they are all around $10/month with the first month free. The problem I had with all of them was that I thought it was hard to find books that I wanted to read. I guess it's mostly because I spend so much time on the Amazon site, but Amazon does it so well with the books that they recommend based on my reading habits. The subscription services I mentioned made me kind of nervous, like I had to be sure that I was reading enough books to get my money's worth out of the subscription price (although I didn't pay for any of them, I cancelled before my free month was up). I think a lot of the problem is just like anything else -- it's hard coming into an already-established market and being successful. I have no idea whether they are successful or not, I assume they are, but they just weren't for me.

This is all leading up to a love letter to Amazon's new Kindle Unlimited service. Most of the big publishers aren't participating yet, and who knows whether they will or not, considering everything that's been going on between Hatchette and Amazon, for instance. They say there are over 600,000 books available now; most of them are probably self-published or indie publishers, but I haven't had any trouble finding plenty of books to read. The price is comparable to the others at $9.99/month (with the first month free), and it also includes audio. If there is audio available for a book that you choose, you can listen for free. The subscription also includes three free Audible audio books, one a month for the first three months.

You can have ten books out at a time, with no due dates. When you finish a book, you can return it, just like a library ebook, and get something else, or keep it as long as you want, with the caveat, of course, that if Amazon decides to discontinue the service or something like that, they can suck the book back out of your Kindle, but I think they can already do that anyway, actually.

Oh -- I wrote all that, but the whole point of thinking about it was to comment on something that I keep reading on other commentary about Kindle Unlimited. It seems like everyone who writes about it says something like, "but with Amazon Prime you get a free ebook anyway, plus free shipping and streaming video, and it's $99 for a whole year, so why would anyone want to buy Kindle Unlimited for $10/month and just get ebooks?"

Maybe most people do feel that way, I don't know. And yes, with Amazon Prime, you can read ONE book for free per MONTH. One. And that's it. Not one at a time, ONE. I don't buy enough physical stuff from Amazon to care about the free shipping, and I don't really care about the streaming video, either, so Prime doesn't make sense for me, but Kindle Unlimited is perfect. If you don't read, or don't read much, maybe access to one free book a month is fine. I don't know. I do know that I read at least 100 books a year. This year I've read 115 so far, so considering we're just over seven months into the year, that's about 16 books/month.

Now that my library offers ebooks, I do occasionally get one there, but they don't have much of a selection yet. If it was possible to get every ebook that I wanted from the library, Kindle Unlimited might not make sense, but at least for now, it seems like a great value to me.

I have occasionally felt guilty about buying an ebook when I could request the physical book from the library. It's not the waiting that I mind, usually, but the fact that after reading so much digitally, I find it almost impossible to read a physical book. It feels awkward--I have to hold it open with my hands!--and you have to have a good light, which I often do not. I don't know. I just know that I enjoy reading on my digital devices a lot more than I enjoy holding a book in my hands. I don't care about the feel of a book in my hands or the smell (which a lot of people mention), I really just want the words.

When I was buying books in bookstores, I would sometimes pick up a book that looked interesting, but put it back because of the way it was printed -- too large margins, or too big type, or deckle edges, or whatever. I don't have that problem with ebooks. I can set the font to whatever I want, whatever size I want, and all books are created equal.

And another point -- I don't know for sure, but I believe Unlimited operates under the same model as the other subscription services and pays authors their free after a certain percentage of the book is read (maybe 20%). So while they aren't getting the revenue immediately, they aren't getting shut out, as it might seem.

Here are a few good books that I have read for free:

The Eighth Guardian (Annum Guard) by Meredith McCardle (YA time tavel paranormal)
Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde (literary fiction)
When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde (literary fiction)
Vanished by Kendra Elliot (thriller)
Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott (thriller)
A Trail Through Time by Jodi Taylor (time travel; fourth book in a series)

And the best non-free book I've read recently: "Mortal Danger," by Ann Aguirre. It's $9.99, but you can read the first five chapters free. It was excellent. The book is about Edith, a student at a private high school. Unattractive, unhappy, bullied and humiliated to the point of deciding to kill herself. But right on the brink, she is stopped by a young man, Kian, who offers her the chance to get revenge on the students who tormented her. Revenge isn't free, of course, but it sounds like a good idea at the time.

Edith enrolls in a summer science program away from home, and with Kian's help, reinvents herself as "Edie," pretty, self-confident, smart, with a new best friend and a summer boyfriend. Right away, things start happening to the students who bullied her, and they just keep happening . . . Edie begins to think that the bargain she made might not have been the blessing that she thought it was at first.

Edited to add: Entitle is a subscription service that lets you purchase two ebooks per month for $9.99/month. They do have new releases and best sellers, but during my free period I really struggled to find just one book that I wanted to read, and hadn't already read.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hand sewing

I've been having a lot of fun with my new sewing machine. I'm probably halfway through my Christmas list. My routine has been to cut fabric a couple of evenings a week, then do a marathon sewing session on the weekend, usually Sunday.

This weekend I also made some pattern weights using this tutorial. They are little fabric pyramids filled with tiny polystyrene beads. I've never liked filling fabric things with beans or peas or rice, because what if they get wet? They're not intended to get web, but stuff happens. I have made eye pillows and stuffed them with rice and lavender, but I also put separate cases on them so if the cases get dirty, they can be washed and put back on the pillow. I think the weight of the rice is probably good for an eye pillow because you do want some weight there to ease tired eyes.

These little weights are used to weigh down tissue paper sewing patterns while you cut them out. I probably should have put something heavier in them, but they may be fine. I'll have to try them out. Right now I just have them piled in a little bowl on my cutting table, which is actually just my dining room table with a cutting mat on it. I think the fabric was a Debbie Mumm print called Alley Cat, but I've had it awhile.

These weights would also be cute beanbags for a toddler, although they might be too small, and too easily put in a kid's mouth. That's another reason why I wouldn't fill them with peas or rice!

I hand sewed the weights shut, and that got me thinking about hexagons again, so I rummaged in my precuts box and got out a mini charm pack of Sweetwater Fabric's Road 15 . I pretty much love everything that Sweetwater does.

I finished the Road 15 charm pack and moved on to Sweetwater's Boo Crew. It's a little early for Halloween, but I love this fabric, too. Little monsters, spiders, a screen door print, etc.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them, but I'm thinking something small scale, like mug rugs. For now, I just have zip lock bags full of them. I mostly just like to make them.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Sewing Machine

I finally decided to go ahead and buy a new sewing machine. I bought the one I had been looking at at Amazon; I had a bunch of gift card money saved up, so it didn't cost me much. this is the one I got (lists price $349, I had $100 in gift cards, so it only cost me $40!) -- a computerized Brother machine with 70 stitches, most of which I probably won't use. The thing I really wanted in a new machine, besides being able to sew a tight, appropriately-tensioned seam -- was automatic buttonholes, which this one has. There were a lot of machines to choose from, but this one had good reviews. The one feature that made me choose this one was the oversized table. It came yesterday and I read through the manual, threaded it, and sewed a seam, and it worked like a charm.

I may not sit down and do much of anything with it until the weekend, but I wanted to be sure that it worked! It will be fun learning my way around it. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, June 27, 2014

New Pillow Cases

Sometime last year I found a very cool pattern for making pillow cases (I paid $6 for it, I think, but it looks like it's free now), and thought I might make pillow cases for the people on my Christmas list. Like most things, though, I was too ambitious, and I ended up making a pair for my parents, several little travel pillow-size ones for myself, and a Halloween one for Bob. He's the one who always changes the sheets on the bed, and ever since I made that case, he's been using it on his pillow.

Last week he remarked that I needed to make some more, and with that encouragement, I spent some time on Sunday making three new sets of cases -- one with fish and various sea creatures (these are on our bed now), one set of Independence Day cases with flags, Victorian children, and fireworks, and one set with cowgirls and western boots. Not because either of us have any particular affinity for cowgirls or boots, I just loved the colors, basically.

It's a super easy way to make a pillow case in no time at all. I've seen other patterns on the web called "burrito" or "sausage" pillow case patterns, and they're all basically the same. This one calls for 3/4 yard of the main fabric, 1/4 yard for the cuff, and a small amount (1-1/2" x width of fabric) for the trim. So I bought 1 yard each of two prints to make two coordinating pillow cases, and used fabric that I already had for the trim. You just cut each of the larger pieces into 3/4 yard and 1/4 yard pieces, and cut the thin strip for the trim, then you stack the fabrics and create the "burrito." I used quilt clips instead of pins, but pins work just as well.

It's kind of funny -- it's been awhile since I made them, and it's hard (for me, at least) to grasp how the pattern works. You just have to take it on faith, both in the burrito-making phase, and the seam sewing phase that produces French, or hidden, seams. There are no raw edges at all once you're finished.

My sewing machine is pretty old, I bought it maybe 15 or 20 years ago. I've had a lot of trouble getting the tension right, and I was about to the point of giving up. I was looking at new sewing machines online, and read one review that said a certain machine didn't do very well if you went too fast, so I experimented with mine, and sure enough, it does a LOT better if I go really slowly, but that's not my default speed. I want to just ZIP through a seam, if it's a straight one. So I'm still thinking about getting a new machine; Bob said I should, that if I'm going to be sewing a lot, I should at least have the right tools. Also, my machine doesn't make buttonholes, and that's something I would really like to have.

This is the one I'm leaning toward, because of the wide table. It has a lot of good reviews. I may try to look at one in person somewhere and see what the prices are locally. I'm not going to rush into anything, but I'm still thinking about it.


Monday, June 09, 2014

Getting better, finally

So I think I'm finally getting better. Like the nurse said, I waited another week to see if the antibiotics were going to help, and they didn't. We went to Omaha for a wedding over the weekend, and while the wedding was nice, and it was great seeing good friends, Bob got food poisoning, and I coughed all night, and it was basically pretty awful.

I ended up at Walgreen's at 6:30 in the morning on Sunday buying Gatorade and various over the counter meds, and then was back again a couple of hours later to pick up prescriptions -- fortunately we were traveling with Bob's best friend, who is a doctor (the father of the groom)!

The hotel graciously allowed us to stay a few extra hours until Bob felt better. By around 2:30 we got him stabilized enough to pour him into the car and drive him home. It took him a couple of days to get his strength back, but he felt a lot better once I got him home, let him sleep for a few hours, and fed him some chicken soup.

I called my doctor again, and got another appointment. They took another chest x-ray and said nothing had changed, so gave me a prescription for prednisone and one for a different, stronger, antibiotic. After taking them for two days, I woke up on Sunday morning with a red, puffy face, which I assumed was an allergic reaction to one of the meds. I wasn't sure what to do, since it was the weekend, so I called my insurance company's Ask-a-Nurse, who recommended I call my doctor's office and talk to the doctor on call, which I did. I was advised to stop taking the antibiotic, and they called yet another one out to the pharmacy for me to pick up. Another $40 prescription down the drain. It's bad enough when you actually get to take them . . .

I took Benadry last night both to calm down the allergic reaction and to sleep, and I slept all night, I think for the first time in weeks. So I don't have to sleep on the couch anymore! I'm still coughing a little, intermittently, but the wheezing is gone, and I'm getting my energy back. Every time I exerted myself at all, I was very short of breath, which was awful. The doctor's diagnosis says "reactive airway disease," which I think actually means asthma. So who knows? All I know is, I feel much better.

And then, to round out my week o'fun, I had a mammogram today and visited my ob-gyn for my annual checkup. Just all fun and games around here!

I've spent the last couple of evenings making jewelry and restocking my Etsy shop with new goodies.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I've been coughing a lot, especially at night, so much so that I end up sleeping on the couch a couple of nights a week, so I don't wake Bob up.

So I went to the doctor last week to see if he could figure out why I keep coughing and wheezing. He took a chest x-ray, and said it looked like I had bronchitis, although he also wouldn't rule out asthma, or even allergies. So he went with the scattershot approach--two different inhalers, an allergy pill, and antibiotics for the bronchitis.

It seemed to get better, I've almost stopped wheezing, but I'm still coughing. I'm getting a headache today from the coughing. So I called the doctor's office and talked to a nurse, who said that even though I finished the antibiotics, they would still continue to work for another five days, so as long as I don't have a fever (I don't know that I ever did), I should just wait a few more days and see how I feel. I feel exhausted.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Reading, reading, reading

I've been reading a lot lately. I inherited a hand-me-down Kindle Fire at work, and I've been loving it. It's another thing to carry around, but it fits in my purse (currently a Vera Bradley backpack), so I can carry it anywhere, and it's a better reading experience than the iPhone, although I still do read on the iPhone in a pinch. I also downloaded some of my favorite jigsaw puzzle apps onto the Kindle, so I can do that as well.

The last few books I've read, I've really loved, and they weren't bestsellers, and I just ran across them by accident, so I wanted to pass the information along.

The first two books I wanted to recommend are by Sarah Painter: The Language of Spells and The Secrets of Ghosts. I was originally interested because of the covers. I really loved them. You can't always judge a book by its cover, and I try not to, but sometimes there are books with covers so beautiful that I really want to love them, and just can't. That wasn't the case here. I really did love both the covers and the books. Both of the books are ebooks only, and they are $.99 each, a huge bargain.

In the first book, The Language of Spells, Gwen Harper inherits a house from a great aunt that she barely knew. Her mother was a fortuneteller, they were constantly moving. The inheritance comes at the perfect time, since she is basically homeless, but it thrusts her back to her hometown and bad memories, and into a world of magic that she had tried to leave behind. Her sister still lives in the old hometown, and there is bad blood between them. Her sister doesn't want magic to touch her family (particularly her daughter Katie), and thus, wants nothing to do with Gwen, but she turns out to need her and her powers when a crisis arises. There is also a love interest in the person of the attorney she meets with to arrange things, who turns out to be an old boyfriend.

The second book, Secrets of Ghosts, is basically Katie's story. Due to events that came to pass in the first book, Katie is super cautious, never taking any kind of risk or chance. She also believes that the family magic has passed her by, but it turns out that she does have a version of the family gift, or as it is more usually referred to, the family curse. It just manifests differently in her.

I just thought both of these books were really lovely, very well written, suspenseful, and delightful overall. Very much worth reading, and definitely worth the $.99 price.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More knitting stuff

As much as I love knitting, I may love the knitting tools even more. I love all the little things that go into my knitting bag. I have two basic modes of knitting. One is sock knitting, which, for whatever reason, I tend to do more of in the summer, and scarf knitting. Both are pretty much mindless; I knit the ubiquitous Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf, which I have memorized by now, and I knit my own basic sock pattern, which I have cobbled together from various patterns that I've tried over the years.

I also occasionally knit other things, like baby sweaters or novelty items, but socks and scarves are the constants. When I'm knitting a scarf or something like that, i.e., larger than a sock, I usually carry around a small tote bag with the knitting and a few tools, i.e., tape measure, crochet hook, stitch markers, etc. I have a Vera Bradley bag that I'm currently using as my knitting/tote bag, it's their Holiday Tote from a couple of years ago.

If I'm knitting socks, I carry a smaller bag, and I like clear vinyl bags because the yarn is so beautiful. I have a couple of small ones that I've purchased at yarn stores, but I kept hoping that Vera Bradley would make one, and they finally (sort of) did. I went to the VP store last weekend to get a coin purse, but when I saw it in person, I didn't really like it, but they did have something new--a Clear Beach Cosmetic.

It's the absolute perfect size for a ball of sock yarn and all of the accouterments. The only thing that would make it better is if it had handles, but other than that, it's pretty perfect. Inside the bag are:

  • Ball of sock yarn
  • Half a sock on five Size 1 bamboo double-pointed needles
  • Extra needles -- I seldom break one, but it can happen, so I have three or four extra ones
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Yarn needles -- a "chibi," a little plastic tube, with two needles, one plastic and one curved-tip metal one
  • A pill box with stitch markers, a couple of fancy ones that I made and a ton of tiny colored rubber bands that I just love
  • A crochet hook in case I drop a stitch
  • A laminated card with my sock pattern on it
  • One of my business cards, also laminated, in case I leave my bag somewhere
  • A pack of Post-it notes and a pen in case I need to make a note
  • And not absolutely necessary, but handy -- a tube of handcream, a package of tissues, and a spare pair of reading glasses

That pretty much covers all the basics. There are things that would be nice to have, and have occasionally been recommended, like a nail file, and band-aids in case you cut yourself, so you don't bleed all over your yarn, but there is such a thing as going too far, and that's pretty easy for me to do, so I try not to.

Olympic Knitting

I LOVE the Olympics. I always have. I look forward to them every time. I'm not exactly sure why I love it so. I have almost zero interest in sports at any other time of the year.

I've tried to analyze it; I like seeing the different countries, the different customs and scenery, and I enjoy the human interest stories about the athletes, but I think what I love most is the insular nature of it all. I enjoy books set in defined spaces like hotels, airports, resorts. There's just something about it that intrigues me. I think that's a big part of why I love Disney World so much, too.

I hurried home Friday evening so I could see the opening ceremony, and I've been firmly planted on the couch every evening since then, from 7:00 to 10:00. As far as the ceremony, I don't really care all that much for the pageantry, but I love seeing the athletes walk in, and I try to see all of that part.

And I also knit. I settle in on the couch with a fleece blanket and my knitting, and I'm set for the evening. Dinah sticks right by me, either on my lap or beside me on the couch. Or on my lap and under the blanket, which was kind of funny.

I do more knitting during the two weeks of the Olympics than I do any other time of the year, I think because I really watch so little television. In my down time I'm normally reading, and it's hard to knit and read at the same time. But watching television, I feel like I have to be doing something with my hands, so I knit. I finished a sock over the weekend, and started a new one, and I'm about halfway finished with it already. If I keep up this pace I can probably finish a pair before the Olympics are over.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Keeping track

One of the things that I really love--okay, one of my obsessions--is calendars. I love them, and I'm picky about them. When I find one I really like I want to keep getting it every year, but sometimes that causes some anxiety. I used to start getting really anxious when the calendars came out around September each year, wanting to be sure that I could get the ones I wanted.

Then the big bookstores--when there were still big bookstores--would have them for half price or less after the end of the year, so I tried to wait for that, and I was lucky for awhile. Then they got smart and stopped carrying so much inventory, so by the end of the year all they would have would be "History of Shoes" or "Sharks of the World" or The Simpsons.

Bob has gotten me Llewellyn's Witches' Calendar for several years now for Christmas. The last couple of years he hasn't been able to get it locally, so this year he went right to the website and ordered it, and then, of course, he went to Barnes and Noble and they had it. That one hangs next to my desk/sewing machine.

Then we have a calendar in the bedroom, and for several years that has been a Spirit of the Far East calendar. And I bought the "Zen Cat calendar for work last year and really liked it, so I wanted it again for this year. I didn't even try to get them locally, though, I just ordered them from Amazon.

I also ordered my favorite datebook, We'moon Gaia Rhythms for Womyn. I know. "Womyn." But I love it. It's perfect. I think the first time I bought it was in a gift shop in Sarasota, but I've never seen it anywhere else. Since then, I've ordered it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, wherever it was cheaper. I tried to not buy it this year, but I caved and placed the order on Christmas Day. It looks like they probably won't arrive until after the first, but that's okay. I'll try to not wring my hands too much.

Bob also has a calendar he needs every year, the Trout of North America calendar, and I ordered it for him from Amazon, too. It's an odd size, and fits in his bathroom on the wall between the toilet tank and the shelf above it. Oh, and we always have one in the kitchen, but I don't obsess over that one. If someone gives us one, that's cool, or I'll pick up a cheap one somewhere. We always used to get one from my uncle's service station, which was neat, but he passed away last year, and we don't get that anymore. (I ended up getting Charles Wysocki Cat Tales at Joann on the clearance rack last week.)

Barb got me a mini Japanese Wood Block Prints calendar for Christmas, and that goes by my "writing" chair. So I think we're pretty well set for calendars!

For the past few years I have successfully kept myself from buying Franklin Planners or similar; I love them so much, but I just can't justify them anymore since I keep my calendar on the computer. And they're heavy, and I get tired of carrying them around, but they're useless if I just leave them at work, so I try to resist. The We'Moon one is a compromise. I probably don't really need it, but it's lighter than some, and not too bad to carry around, or at least that's what I tell myself.


I didn't feel like I accomplished a lot this weekend, but I did accomplish some things.

I don't usually do a huge shopping trip all at once, partly because it's too expensive, and partly because I can never really plan, since Bob doesn't work a regular, set schedule.  Some days he goes in at 6:30 a.m. and works until 3:00, some days he goes in at 1:00 and works until 9:30.  So I tend to go to the store a couple of times a week and just buy what I know I need.

Yesterday I asked him what he wanted for dinner (this was a day when he was working until 9:30 at night), and he said hobo dinners.  I had gone out earlier in the day and gotten my nails done and had lunch, then I had come back home and fallen asleep in my chair.  I didn't really want to go back out, but I needed to.  I needed to get potatoes, onions, and ground beef.   I decided I wanted to go someplace different, just to be a little more interesting, so I went to the WalMart grocery store (Neighborhood Market?).  I have been there a couple of times, but I don't usually shop there.  I usually go to Target, occasionally to Price Chopper, and sometimes to Hen House because there's one very close to home.

So anyway, I started walking around, and got the things I needed, then thought, well, as long as I'm here I might as well try to plan some meals.  So I got enough ground beef for the hobo dinners last night, chili tonight, and maybe something Italian tomorrow night, if there isn't enough chili left for chili dogs.

I also got stuff to make vegetable soup, which I did yesterday, and which will be my lunches all week.  I've already portioned it out into individual Rubbermaid containers.  What else . . . I bought peanut butter and jelly, and potato chips and bread, bacon and eggs, lunch meat and cheese, a lot of cans of cat food, and various odds and ends.  It came to almost $100, and filled four reusable bags, which is what it almost always costs anymore--a bag is $25.

I really hated to spend that much all at once, but I shouldn't have to go to the store any more this week unless it's for bread or something like that.  I never plan meals for the week, but this week I could:

Saturday - Hobo dinners
Sunday - Chili and biscuits
Monday - Chili dogs
Tuesday - Italian casserole
Wednesdayt - Ham sandwiches and tortilla chips
Thursday - Grilled cheese sandwiches and potato chips
Friday - Bacon, eggs, hash browns and toast

When I was making the chili tonight, I was opening cans of beans and tomato sauce and tomato paste and whole tomatoes, and breaking up the tomatoes in the pan, and I wondered why I always buy whole tomatoes.  I always do, and it seems like maybe they are better, but I don't know why.  Why not try diced ones, or better yet, crushed ones?  I guess I do it because that's what my mother always got.  But it made me think of that old story about the new bride who made a pot roast and cut off the ends first.  Her husband asked her why she did it that way, and she said that was the way her mother did it.

The next time she saw her mother, she asked why she did that, and her mother said it was because that's the only way she could fit it in the pan!

So maybe the only made  cans of whole tomatoes when my mother made chili.  I don't know.  I guess I'll just keep doing it that way, though.

I also bought a new electric skillet this weekend, because the non-stick coating was coming off the old one, and a cookie sheet, and got prescriptions filled and went to Costco to buy coffee for work.  Just a bunch of normal errands, but kind of a lot of running around.  And I read a couple of books, which is always nice.

Oh, and listed a few things on Etsy.  So yeah, I accomplished some stuff.