Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Flowers of Hawaii ...

We recently went to Hawaii for my father-in-law's inurnment at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, which is aka Punchbowl. This is partially why I've slacked off on my blog lately. Hopefully, I can get back to it now. I took a lot of pictures in Hawaii, although most where on my phone. I'll try to share some over the next few days. Here are a few of the flowers I took.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Muffin Wars

I don't know if I've ever blogged about Muffin Top before. She's all over Instagram and Facebook, so if you follow me there, you've probably seen her at one time. Muffin Top is a pet rock that was originally designed for a photo challenge on Instagram. She's taken on a life of her own, however, and I still love photographing her in various situations. Today she decided to hang out with R2D2 and BB8. Personally, I think she'd make a great cast member for Episode VIII. She could at least have as many lines as Luke Skywalker had in Episode VII.

Eventually, I'd love to make a picture book featuring Muffin Top, so that could be in the works sometime. I have also been wanting to make an Instagram page for Muffin Top. It would be nice to have all her photographs placed together. You can supposedly have up to five accounts there. I have mine, plus one for my little stuffed mountain goat, Manny. Each time I've tried to make one for Muffin Top, I get an error message, so I don't know what the problem is. I guess I will just keep trying. In the meantime, you can see a lot of her pictures on my Instagram or over on Facebook at the following link:

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Book Finds ...

I found these four books at the thrift store yesterday. The Skywalker Family Album made me a little more excited than I probably should have gotten, but hey ... it's Star Wars. I was thrilled to find Oh, the Thinks you Can Think. I knew we didn't have that in our Dr. Seuss collection, so that was a fun find. The Edgar Allen Poe poetry book was cool too, and I'm looking forward to incorporating those into our school sometime. As you might know, I collect Little Golden Books. I already had a Dumbo one, but not this version with the original artwork from the 1940s. So, now I have two Dumbo LGBs, but that's okay. It was a good book day, especially since they only cost me $1 for all four.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Young At Heart ...

This meme was posted by a pastor I follow on Instagram. I asked if I could share it, and he said yes, so here it is. I don't know why, but I really love it. Maybe it's because there are some people that I still see as their younger versions, as well as what they have become as they've grown older. Or maybe it's because I feel this way about myself. I'm 51 and I guess I've never felt my age ... nor have I felt like I've truly ever really grown up. Just one look at my Instagram or Twitter accounts and you'll see that it's filled with posts and pictures of kids, pets, toys, cartoons, children's movies, kid's books, candy, and other silly stuff.

I guess that's why I find it so bizarre when people follow me on those sites who are into things that are totally the opposite of who I am. Oddly though, I get the strangest followers who are into a lot of things that I never talk about, such as news stories, politics, adult fiction, and so forth. Just yesterday I liked a couple of sites relating to my hometown in California. A few hours later I noticed I had a slew of Bernie Sanders supporters following me. Bizarre. I don't post about politics. I might follow a few sites, but I rarely comment on them. It's just funny because all my profiles state that I'm a homeschool mom who loves hiking, red plaid, thrift stores, music, Star Wars, the Seahawks, etc. I post silly things ... there's nothing adult about me.

Below is another I'm fond of. I don't really need to say why because I think that's pretty evident. However, I think the two memes/sayings go well together. The trick is finding the perfect balance of loving yourself for who you are—no matter how old you are—but still not lose sight of who you used to be and what things shaped and created you as an individual. 

"You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old." — Author Unknown
"The heart that loves is always young." — Author Unknown

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Is this unfair?

I saw this meme on Facebook. It's a few years old, and I've seen it before. However, I honestly don't like it. The lady on the left is Ernestine Shepherd. She's 77 now, so this meme is a few years old. She didn't start working out until she was 56 years old. Obviously, she looks great, and I'm very impressed to hear you can start at a such late age. That's awesome. Perhaps there is hope for me yet. {{snort}} I'll start tomorrow ... {{double snort}}

But anyway ... I don't like the meme because it seems unfair to the lady on the right. I don't know her name, but she looks like a wonderful woman. She's my idea of the ideal grandma, if there is one. She looks like the type of grandma who'd have homemade cookies—still hot from the oven—waiting for you when you came to visit. The image, I think, seems cruel. It shows her looking out a window longingly, almost as if she's waiting for someone to show up, or wondering why no one ever does. The one on the left looks like keeping her body in shape takes up all of her time. She's probably not into baking cookies, but then again, I could be wrong. Even so, it takes hours each day to keep your body in that kind of shape. If I were to guess, I would say working out consumes much of her day. That's not a bad thing. Neither is sitting by a window and watching the world go by. Both women are beautiful.

The meme says, "The choice is yours to make." Perhaps that's true, or perhaps it's not true. Ironically, it also says, "Both of these women are 74 years old." What it doesn't say is their story, or their background, or what they've been dealt with in their lives. That's what I don't like about it. It's obvious that both are alive, regardless of who is in better shape. It's impossible to say who will live longer. It really doesn't matter. And this goes back to my last blog post about simply loving who you are. Perhaps both of these ladies are completely content in their lives. I hope they are. I just couldn't help feeling sad for the lady on the right. What do you think? 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Body Image Movement

I bought this book, EMBRACE by Taryn Brumfitt recently. Quite some time ago, I saw a short video clip on Facebook that was floating around. It's about five minutes long, and you can find it by clicking here. It was powerful the first time I saw it. Recently I saw it had made a comeback on Facebook, so I watched it again. Then I decided to check out Taryn on other sites such as Instagram and Twitter. She's all over the place, including her main site at the Body Image Movement. I was so intrigued by her story that I ordered her book as well. Once it arrived, it was one of those books I just couldn't put down until I'd finished it. The first part had me in stitches, and I actually had to pause from reading because I was laughing too hard. It turned serious soon after though, and the whole thing really made sense to me.

"From crying in despair on the bathroom floor to stepping out in stripper heels onto a brightly lit bodybuilding stage, Taryn Brumfitt has had one hell of a journey from body loather to body lover ... and she's ready to share it in EMBRACE. After posting a less than tradition 'before' and 'after' photo on social media in 2013, not even Taryn could have anticipated the attention it would gain worldwild in the media, propelling her Body Image Movement into the hearts and homes of millions in Australia to the U.S. and every country in between. Taryn's brand of honest and witty storytelling will have you both in stitches and in tears. From losing her brother to a heroin addiction and being bullied in school, to embarrassing (yet let's face it, relatable!) toilet tales, EMBRACE will challenge you to reconsider the relationship you have with your body, but above all, will inspire you to embrace a life without boundaries, so that you too, can love the skin you're in."

Taryn Brumfitt is a mother of three and lives in Australia. Like many of us, she struggled with her weight and was unhappy by her appearance. It got so bad that she was only happy when she was pregnant because she had a reason for looking the way she did. Been there, done that! Eventually though, it began to destroy her social life, her marriage, and her family. It got bad enough that she did something radical—she entered a bodybuilding contest—and for several months she trained to get her body in shape so she could compete. And, she did it! Just watch the video. In her book she mentioned that she nearly got into a car accident on the way to the competition. Her first thought was that she was thankful the other car missed her because she wouldn't have been able to compete. It wasn't about her husband or children, and I could tell that upset her. She had become so consumed with the competition that it was all that mattered. Another thing she mentioned was that getting her body to that level of physical condition was literally a 24/7 job. It took up hours of her day, which took away from her husband and children. A lot of people won't mention that. Taryn found out the hard way that getting her body in that shape meant time away from her family. Most of us don't have that kind of time.

It made me sad to read in Taryn's book about all the people who left nasty comments on social media, claiming she was fat and had really let herself go. What many probably didn't realize was that her 'before' picture was actually after she had three kids. Usually people post before and after pictures the other way around. People were mean though, and that bothered me. I don't know why people have to be so concerned about other people and what they eat, do, or wear. Some folks just need to mind their own business. EMBRACE isn't a diet book. It's not even a book that teaches you how to love your own body. When reading the reviews, I saw quite a few people mention they wished it had more details on how she got to that place in her life. That's not what it was about. At least, that's not how I took it. It's a memoir. It's Taryn's story, not a how-to manual. No book or video is going to magically teach someone how to love their body. We have to get to there on our own, and books like this only help to inspire us.

Right before I started blogging, I came across an article online entitled Why The Body Image Movement Is Bad For Women. I don't think the author was referring to Taryn's movement specifically, but I could be wrong. If she was, she's way off in her article. She mentions how she found herself telling her daughter to love her body, but realized she's never said that to her boys. She's stereotyping that what we all do that. It's not true. I've discussed body image with my boys. She also mentions that she didn't know how to define good food from bad food. Seriously? That's sad. Maybe she didn't take Home Ec in high school, or maybe she just lives under a rock. But anyway, I'm not sure if the author of the article was referring directly to Taryn's movement or not. If she was, she certainly hasn't read the book because Taryn covered all those things the author of the article complained about. It's about loving yourself for who you are, not what you look like. It's not about letting yourself go, or eating whatever you want. It's just about acceptance. If you can't accept yourself for who you are, you certainly won't be able to accept others for who they are.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What New Nativity?

So, a few weeks ago I came across this wall hanging at the thrift store. It's about ten inches in height and pretty heavy. It says it was made in Italy on the back. With a price tag of $3.75, I knew I had to get it. I finally got it up on the wall the other day. Now many of you know I collect Nativity scenes. Most are very, very inexpensive sets. I have probably around 100 now, if you include ornaments. I get them out every Christmas and they literally take over the house. Often times Rick will stare at one confusingly and ask, "Is this new?" I've gotten pretty good at bending the truth a bit. "Oh, no, I've had that one for awhile." His idea of "for awhile" might be different from mine, so it's not technically a lie. Anyway, when he saw the new one above, he seemed a little baffled because I usually put them out for Christmas. He seems to be under the impression that they're taking over the house year-round. I don't know why ...

The new one is on a wall between a window and some French doors in our living room. On the opposite side are some Nativity plates that I decided to keep out all year. In my mind, the new one balances out the plates on the other side. Symmetrical balance, you know. ;)

Then there's a wall hanging in my front entrance. It's definitely a Christmas one, but it fits the section of wall so perfectly that I just leave it up year round. The one below is also in the entrance area, but I don't consider it a Nativity. It's actually the Flight into Egypt. I still display it when my Nativities are out at Christmas, but this one stays out year-round too.

So, I guess Rick is right ... they are taking over the house. Oops.

Monday, April 11, 2016

National Pet Day

Thanks to my friend Kaylyn for alerting me that today is National Pet Day. Of course, it's that day everyday here. At least that's what Denny would have you believe. These are my pets pictured here ... Denny and an aquarium of tropical fish. I will tell you what today is NOT ...

It's not National Let Your Pet Run Loose Over The Neighborhood Day
It's not National Let Your Pet Hunt Birds In My Yard Day.
It's not National Let Your Cat Pull Off My Screen And Let My Indoor-Only Cat Outside Day.
It's not Let Your Dog Chase My Cat Under My Own Deck Day.
It's not Let Your Pets Roam Through My Yard Day.
It's not Let Your Rabbits Live In My Yard Until They Get Eaten By Owls Day.

Nope, it's not any of those. It's National Pet Day, plain and simple. If I sound irritated, that's because I am. I'm so sick of a neighborhood dog tormenting everyone. There's one dog in particular who stands in the road by our house and hassles everyone who comes by. We live on a dead-end road, so our driveway is where everyone turns around. That one dog is out there all the time barking at everyone, as well as lunging at us from time to time. POS dog!

If you're going to have pets, great. One of my biggest pet peeves—pun intended—are pet owners who don't give a damn what their animals are up to. Some people shouldn't be allowed to have animals. Had I known this ten years ago, I might not have moved to this neighborhood. I shouldn't have to worry about backing over someone else's bunny while pulling out of my driveway. I shouldn't have to wonder if someone's cat is sleeping under my hood when I start the engine of my car. I shouldn't have to chase cats off my deck that are hunting the birds and squirrels that I feed. I shouldn't have to deal with being barked at all the time, or lunged at by a stupid dog, while its owners couldn't be bothered.

It's getting old. It started from the very first day we got here. The people who owned the house before us left their cats outside. A few days after moving in, I saw all sorts of wildlife going behind my propane tank. Turns out, the previous owners dumped a 20-pound bag of cat food there. We know it was him because we saw him do it when we drove up. At the time, we didn't know what he was up to. Apparently, they had three cats. One was declawed and inside-only, and the other two were outside cats. We asked the neighbors if they knew who the cats belonged to, but none of them would fess up. Nice. When we first moved here we got hit with an early winter. The cats came up to the doors screaming to be let in. We couldn't because we had two cats at the time, who had just made a very stressful move from California to Montana. So, we had to lock them in the garage for the night so they wouldn't freeze to death. Then we took them to the local animal shelter. Crazy thing is ... the freaking owners showed up six months later with cat carriers hoping they were still here. Can you believe that?

I don't know what the deal is in this neighborhood. One family lets their cats roam all around. They wander on our deck at night. One of their cats pulled down our screen one night and let Denny outside. If that wasn't bad enough, he got in a fight with the same cat and ended up with sores all over his neck. We were so lucky we even found him that night. Other cats come around on our deck too. I've even had one run into my house and go under my bed. Then there's the dog that roams free tormenting everyone. Ugh ... I am so sick of it.

National Pet Day, indeed ... not around here. The wildlife is better behaved!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Oh yes ...

Total chocolate chili fan here ... I am definitely voting for these!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Force Is Here!

To my utter delight, we received our copy of The Force Awakens early yesterday afternoon. Today is the actual release date, so I'm not sure why we got it a day ahead of most people. My guess was because we had pre-ordered it months ago through Amazon Prime. Other people I know ordered it there too, but it didn't get delivered until today. Maybe it had to do with the timing of the pre-order? I have no idea. I was just thrilled. We watched it again last night—my sixth time—and it was just as great as the first time seeing it. I loved the special features too. We watched most of those, but I think there are a few left we have to see still.

As I've said before, Star Wars has special meanings for me. For one, it was one of the first movies I saw at the theater with just a friend, and not my family. My family mostly went to the drive-in, and I was taken to some pretty awful movies that have stayed with me all these years. Star Wars was one of the happier ones. I was twelve when A New Hope came out, so it remains a good memory for me. There are other reasons I'm so attached to the saga—many relate to family issues—but I really don't want to go into that right now. It's just a good, positive thing for me. I already can't wait for Episode VIII, although I know I have to.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Creston Auction

Rick and I stopped at the annual Creston Auction on Saturday. Creston is a very small town not too far from here. Every year the local fire department hosts an auction, which is said to be one of the largest spring events in Montana. It was the 50th anniversary, and the place was packed. We've lived here almost ten years, but had never been, so we decided to stop. Neither of us have ever been to an auction before. It was pretty wild listening to the auctioneers speak so fast. I would have loved to have looked around more—it was like a giant yard sale—but we just walked around for a little while. I took a few photographs, but nothing that spectacular. There was a lot of farm equipment, but I did see some pretty cool antiques. Check out that bright orange chair! It had to be from the 1960s or 70s, but it was in perfect condition. It certainly brought out the vintage loving hippy in me! Maybe we'll go back next year. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Woodland Park

Rick and I did our usual thing of asking each other, "What do you want to do today?" We do this every Saturday. I've been sick all week, so I kind of wanted to get out of the house for awhile. I knew Rick needed to run by Staples for printer ink, so I suggested going there and then to Woodland Park, which is nearby. I hadn't been there in years, even though we drive by it all the time. So, we picked up lunch from a local place and went to the park to eat.

It's a nice place, even though city parks really aren't my thing. I'd rather be in a more secluded, wilderness area, but this is a fun place to visit. It has a lagoon, playground, picnic areas, a looped hiking trail, and so forth. There's even a skate park and a water park.

So, we had lunch at one of the picnic tables, hoping the gazillion birds wouldn't notice us. The place is filled with seagulls, ducks, snow geese, Canada geese, squirrels, and so forth. With all the birds squawking, it's a loud place.

The last time I was at the park was in the middle of winter. That was years ago. Everyone was sledding, and the lagoon was totally frozen. I wanted to check out the walking trail though, so we did that after lunch. It's a paved loop trail. I guess it's a little over a mile long.

I didn't bring my camera, for some dumb reason, so all I had was my phone. It was such a pretty day though, so I managed to get some decent shots. There were some turtles sunning on a rock, so I wished I had my Canon for that. Otherwise, the phone did okay.

It's definitely a good place to go if you want to feed the birds. I see people still bring bread for them, which isn't really good for them. There were piles of corn meal in various places, and I noticed some of the geese eating that instead. I've heard corn meal is a lot better for them.

Anyway, going to Staples and the park was the initial plan, but we ended up going on four different hikes today. We also went up to Lone Pine State Park, Herron Park, and our own Wayfayers State Park near the house. I'll try to post some of those other pictures next time. It was a fun day out. We only walked about 4.6 miles, but after being sick all week and kind of loopy from cold medicines, that's about all I could take. Now I need to soak in the tub!

Monday, March 28, 2016

New Books!

Well ... they're new for us, anyway. I've mentioned before how I collect Great Illustrated Classic books. My mother-in-law got me hooked on these books after she kept buying them for the girls. They are obviously abridged versions of the stories, but I've found they're great introductions. We've read many of these books in school, which lead us to reading the original full versions later on. I found both of these copies at a thrift store locally. I paid only a quarter for each one. You certainly can't beat that kind of deal.

I also found this book called I Love You, Mommy! It's a newer book from 1999. I guess that's not too new, but it is for me because I usually search for the vintage ones. It's a cute story, and definitely geared towards single moms who are involved in their kids' lives. I didn't see a father in any of the illustrations, aside from the picture frame on the cover. That got me curious, so I did a search and found the same author (Edie Evans) has a similar book called I Love You, Daddy! I imagine it's the same type, geared towards fathers who are actively involved with their kids. They seem like they'd be great books to read to kids of single parents.

I'm a huge Little Golden Books fan, and I've been working on my collection for years now. Just the other day I printed up a title list of Little Golden Books. I printed it in three columns, and it ended up being ten pages long! Sometime this week I want to get all my LGBs out and check them off that list. I doubt I will barely make a dent in it. Perhaps I'll post a photo with my results when I get around to going through them all. I'm curious how many LGBs there are in all. The Poky Little Puppy has sold over 15 million copies alone. One of my dreams is to have a story published as a Little Golden Book. Until I get an agent to get my submissions seen, that just won't happen. I'm not going to give up. Having a LGB is one of my goals in life.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Holy Saturday

I hope everyone is having a nice weekend. For those who celebrate Easter, I hope your week has been a good one. We don't have any big plans for Easter Sunday. I'm thinking of going to the Sunrise Service with Nichelle. It starts at 7am, so hopefully I can get myself up early enough. She said she wanted to make us all waffles for breakfast too, so that will be nice. The boys are too old for the whole Easter egg hunt stuff, so we don't do that anymore. I miss those days sometimes. I loved this Holy Saturday image that I found online. I'm not Catholic (I was for a very short time), but Easter is still a big deal to me. I was just watching Watters' World where he interviewed people on Easter. Most of them had no clue what the holiday was about. I realize not everyone is religious, but still, not knowing is kind of sad.

Happy Easter to you all!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Another "DUH" moment ...

So, today I decided to read a little from my Kindle. I've been downloading books for free, mostly classics and other things I wouldn't normally buy in a bookstore. Right now I'm reading Wuthering Heights. I was looking around the classics for a bit and thought The Picture of Dorian Gray sounded interesting. It was free, so I decided to download it as well.

A little while later, Nichelle came home from work and we were discussing books. I mentioned the free classics. Then I remembered I had bought a Great Illustrated Classics book at the thrift store the other day. For the life of me, I couldn't remember where I had set it down. I went out to the car, and sure enough, it was on the back seat. Guess what it was ...

Duh! Now I don't know whether to delete the one on my Kindle, or just read it, and then read the abridged version to the boys in school. Considering I got the Kindle one free and paid a quarter for the hard copy, I'm not really out anything. It's just typical of me, though.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


This little beauty sat still long enough for me to snap a couple of pictures yesterday. There are some blurry marks, but that's because it was snowing at the time. A long time ago, the boys nicknamed them "pinky birds" after their pink colored beaks. Whenever we see one, it's always called Pinky or Pinky-Bird. We have them year-round where I live, but lately I've been seeing a lot of them at my feeders. I'm thinking this one is a female. The males have darker hoods that are almost pitch-black in color. Click on the link below to learn more about them. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Remember this?

The other day we received a free Reader's Digest in the mail. I haven't read this magazine in years. As a kid, I often sat around hospitals and nursing homes waiting for my mom to get off work. Magazines were all over these places, including Reader's Digest. I remember reading it quite often. Over the years, I have really gotten out of buying magazines all together. When my girls were younger, I used to subscribe to Family Fun magazine. After awhile, Disney bought it and started making it smaller with more ads than articles or projects. I guess the Internet was partially to blame for killing the allure of magazines. The boys still get a few, but only ones their grandparents have given as gift subscriptions. Anyway, back to Reader's Digest ...

I sat down yesterday and went through this magazine. I was really surprised how little it has changed after all these years. It's still the same small size, and still filled with interesting articles, comics, how-to tips, and a few ads. It's *almost* made me want to subscribe to it. I'm curious how many people will actually subscribe after receiving a complimentary issue. Would you?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I hope everyone has a wonderful St. Patrick's Day, whether you celebrate it or not. I know some people go out to Irish pubs to drink green beer. Other people like to cook corned beef and cabbage. I guess that's technically an American-Irish tradition, and not something they do regularly in Ireland. We cooked it last night. It's especially cheap this time of year. I cooked it in the crock-pot for the first time and it turned out pretty good. Thursdays have become "pizza night" for us, so right now I'm waiting for Rick to get home with my green olive & pepperoni pizza. I have to stick with my green theme for the day. I think I'll skip the green beer, though.

I made this picture on that PhotoGrid app that I mentioned in my last post. I have this habit of running off when we're in line at the supermarket. I'll help Rick unload the groceries, but while he goes through the process of paying for them, I tend to scout out things to photograph. Flowers are my favorite, which is how I got this picture of the green bouquet. It's a fun app. I can't believe it took me so long to realize I could do scrapbook pages with it. Too cool.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fun Photo App ...

I have this app on my phone called PhotoGrid. I got it originally to make photo collages. Just yesterday I realized it has the ability to make scrapbook-like pages. It features all sorts of backgrounds, borders, frames, stickers, and more. I made a few samples really quick, and then I realized I might be able to use them for our school yearbooks. I take a lot of school-related pictures on my phone, so if I can mess around with them there and just add them to my program later, that will save me a lot of time. How cool is that?!

The other day Rick and I went for a walk at Wayfarers Park, which is next to Flathead Lake. It's only about 3 miles from my house, so we walk on the trail there quite often. These are the pictures I decided to play around with on PhotoGrid. I also made a quick one of Denny below.

My HP laptop is getting ready to die, so I'll be switching to the other one we have soon. I'm not looking forward to that. Not only does it have a different type of operating system, but I won't be able to use my In-Design program on the other laptop. That's what I use to make the yearbooks for school, along with all other other things like our weekly schedules, attendance sheets, school forms, etc. I'm going to have to make them on Word or something that the new laptop supports. That's a major "Ugh!" for me.

So, if I can use some of my phone photos on PhotoGrid and insert them that way, it will save me some time. Yay! Funny thing is that I have a whole drawer of scrapbooking materials. I thought it would be a fun hobby, but I just never made the time for it. I seem to do stuff like that digitally more often. Hopefully, this will help me add some fun photos to our yearbooks and such.