Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Be Careful with the CF Light Bulbs!

We had something scary and potentially very dangerous happen last night. I was on the computer in the living room and reading a new book (at the same time) and Jim was in the bedroom watching TV. I had smelled something strange for about a half hour but thought maybe it was the book since it was brand new and sometimes ink smells. Suddenly Jim came out of the bedroom and says, "What smells hot?" That got my attention and we both started looking around trying to figure out where the smell was coming from. We have a lamp in the dining room that we leave on every evening since you have to pass through that room to get to the others. Last year I put florescent bulbs in all the lamps to save energy. I noticed the lamp was off and I asked Jim if he had turned it off and he said no. He looked at the bulb and where the filaments go into the base, it was glowing RED HOT! I quickly unplugged the lamp but this was very scary. It's a wooden lamp base and it was sitting on a wooden table close to the wall. The potential for a fire was very definitely there. And this was a GE bulb, not some discount brand. I'm sure glad we never leave home and leave a lamp on.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Favorite Nature Scenes

I enjoy taking pictures of storm clouds, rainbows, sunsets, unusual clouds, and just nature in general. Here are a few of my favorite photos.

This first photo is at sunset but this is looking east from my house with the sun shining on an unusual cloud formation.

Stormy skies - west view from my house.

More clouds.

Red bud trees. I think this is Red Haw State Park near Chariton.

Butterfly on Autumn Joy sedum in my yard.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Books I've read this week

I did get another book read this week and I really liked it. It was Dean Koontz's By the Light of the Moon ©2002. The main characters in the book are Dylan O'Conner, an artist, his autistic brother, Shepard, and Jilly Jackson, a stand-up comedienne. They all happen to be spending the night at the same motel in Arizona where they're attacked by a mad scientist who injects them with some strange 'stuff'. He tells them it's the result of his life's work but he's not sure what it will do to them; it may transform them in a remarkable way or it may kill them. It affects everyone differently. He also tells them that he's being pursued and if his pursuers find him they will kill him and hunt down anyone he may have come in contact with. The trio connects outside the motel after the scientist steals Jilly's car and Dylan and Shep are preparing to make their escape. After comparing notes, they realize they'd be better off traveling together and the story then follows them as they try to keep one step ahead of their pursuers. The 'stuff' does cause different effects in each of them and Shep's autism also causes problems. One minute he's cooperating and helping them and the next he's stubbornly refusing to even move although the pursuers are just minutes away. The book demonstated how something evil can sometimes be turned around into something good. It made for a very interesting story and I think it would make a great movie.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring Has Arrived! (poem)

Spring Has Arrived!
When I look out my window what do I see?
Beautiful grass as green as can be!
After looking for months at brown or white
To see green grass is a welcome sight.
It won't be long before mowers start
I may complain but not from the heart
I'd rather have grass any old day
Than a yard full of brown that looks like hay.

© Kat Bryan March 27, 2009

Win a Personalized Market Tote!

Check out the collapsible Market Totes at Suzi Homemaker. These totes have two handles instead of one. They also have a wider opening at the top and two mesh pockets on the ends to stash small objects like your keys. Flip down the metal frame and it collapses flat for easy storage. You need to choose your favorite color but it's going to be harder than you think since they come in pretty colors like navy, turquoise, hot pink, lime, orange, and several florals. After you've decided, go to Mom Made That and leave a comment for your chance to win one of these handy personalized totes. Contest ends March 31.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Win a Fiber One Gift Basket

Win a gift basket filled with Fiber One's newest snack bars, a bath pillow, chocolate scented soap, lotion and bath salts, and a coffee scented candle. Just visit Sherbet Blossom's blog and leave a comment. Contest closes at 11:59pm on Monday, March 30th. The winner will be announced the following day.

Books I've read this week

I haven't been in the reading mood too much this week but I did read Suspect by Jasmine Cresswell © 2007. I quickly found out it was the second book in a trilogy, the first being Missing and the third, Payback. The story centers on Liam Raven, an attorney and his client, Chloe Hamilton, a former Olympic athlete, who is charged with murdering her husband Jason, the well-loved mayor of Denver. It turns out that Jason has more than a few secrets that could cause someone to want him dead, and Liam is more than just Chloe's attorney, and lots of people have a motive. Liam's father, Ron Raven, had been outed as a bigamist in the first book and the fallout for his family plays a big part in this story, too. Liam himself isn't that likeable of a person in the beginning. He's in his mid-thirties, a divorce attorney, and has never been married. The story opens with him waking up in a woman's bed and he doesn't even remember her name. This character 'flaw' explains one of the big plot lines so I guess it's necessary. It was a fairly good story (except for the mistake I point out in the next paragraph) and I didn't figure out the real killer until almost the end. I do wish I had read the first book and I'd like the read the third because I don't think all the loose ends were tied up.

There was a very big mistake in the last part of the book and it just amazed me that the author didn't do her research better. Someone tries to kill Chloe by turning on the gas valve in her bedroom. That part I can understand but it says carbon monoxide is escaping and that's what will kill her. If you open a gas valve and the burner isn't lit, natural gas is what is going to come out. Carbon monoxide only occurs when there's a faulty burner or the flue is blocked. This bothered me so much I emailed the author. I'm looking forward to hearing her explanation.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Last Saturday was a beautiful spring day with temps in the 70s so we decided to go for a daytrip. We took highway 92 all the way to Council Bluffs/Omaha and just enjoyed the drive. We like to check out the little towns along the way and see what's new or, in some cases, what's missing. It seems like a lot of the older buildings in small towns are just going to pot until they either fall down or are torn down, leaving empty spots on Main Streets. All of the towns are proud of how long they've been around and they proclaim it on signs as you come into town that they've been there for over 100 years but I seriously doubt a lot of them will make it to 200 hundred.

Once we got to Omaha, it was time for lunch. We got a gift card for Cracker Barrel as a Christmas gift so we decided to use it. They always have good food and I enjoy looking around their gift shop, too. Jim had the Sampler plate of meatloaf, ham, and chicken and dumplings with mashed potatoes and baby carrots. He must have been really hungry! He didn't like the meatloaf because he thought it had too much green pepper. I tasted it and thought it was okay. I had a Skillet meal which was a mix of chicken breast chunks and broccoli and something else (hashbrowns maybe?) covered in Ritz Cracker crumbs and some cheese and baked. It was really good. All the meals come with fresh baked biscuits and corn muffins. There was enough left on the gift card to get a bag of sweet potato chips from the gift shop. I had seen them there before we ate and wanted to try them. They weren't bad but I won't be buying them if I have to pay cash; they were $3.49 and the bag wasn't that big.

After our big lunch and long drive we needed to stretch our legs. We drove around Omaha some looking for a good place to walk and we found the perfect place, the new Bob Kerrey Pedestrian
Bridge over the Missouri River right close to the Qwest Center. The nice weather had brought out hundreds of families walking, many with their dogs or pushing strollers, or riding their bikes along the path, and we decided to join them. The Omaha side of the river is being developed quite extensively with a restaurant and marina, trails, parks, and plenty of parking. The only downsides we could see were that you can't hear when a bicycle comes up behind you and the complete absence of toilet facilities. During the week I'm sure you could use the National Park Headquarters building which is right at the start of the bridge but it's closed on weekends. It would be fun to walk over the bridge in the summer when the barges and recreational boats are on the river.

Stepping onto the suspended part of the bridge made me feel 'seasick' for just a few seconds and I had to grab the railing. You could feel the bridge swaying slightly in Saturday's breeze. Once I got used to it, it was fine. We only walked halfway across the bridge and then back since we were searching for those ellusive bathroom facilities. The bridge was just completed last year and has a 3000-foot span and its twin support towers are 210 feet tall. It connects 150 miles of bike and pedestrian paths. Community leaders in Council Bluffs are hoping it spurs development on their side of the river, too.

Leaving the bridge it was a short drive back across the river to Council Bluffs where we made a quick stop at Harrah's Casino. Jim had a little luck but I can't say the same. Then it was back in the truck for the long ride home.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Birthday Present

I have posted before about my brother Larry and his wife Sue and how talented they both are. Lately Sue has been making beautiful quilts, lap blankets, and quillows (quilts that fold up into pillows), and Larry has been helping her. They know I'm a cat lover and when Sue saw some Laurel Burch cat fabric, she knew I'd love it. Together they made me a gorgeous lap quilt for my birthday and they delivered it today. It's almost too pretty to use, though, and I may have to find a place to hang it to display. Thanks, you guys. I love it and you!

Another Bag Giveaway and NEW Febreze Destinations

Frugal and Fabulous is hosting a giveaway of a handbag from M. Avery Designs. The prize is a shoulder bag from their Green Line, the eco-friendly line of accessories made from upholstery fabrics. To enter, go to M. Avery Designs and select your favorite from their bag selection. Than post a comment here . You have until Friday, March 27 @ 7pm EST to enter! (*winner must contact Frugal and Fabulous within 48 hours!*) To earn extra entries, check out the web site.
If you'd like to win a set of the new Febreze Destinations Collection products including Air Effects, NOTICEable, and a candle, head over to Rockin Mama's. Comments will close on April 5, 2009 at 10 PM PST. The Febreze Destinations Collection offers three great fragrances inspired by scents from around the world - Hawaiian Aloha, Brazilian Carnaval and Moroccan Bazaar. You can check them out here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rambling Again

Do you ever see someone you think you know but you're not sure because where you're seeing them is so unexpected? That happened to me today. I was working at the Center like I have been on Fridays for the past month when a couple of ladies and a younger girl came in and I thought I recognized one of them but just couldn't place her. I started thinking she must be someone from school. I watched her as she was shopping and after a few minutes she turned around, saw me, and I could see she was just as surprised to see me. She instantly spoke and even though I acknowledged her, she was smart enough to say who she was - my cousin's wife Chris from Des Moines. I'm sure I looked surprised to see her because she quickly gave me an explanation of why she was in town. One of her aunts is in a local nursing home and Chris and her sister had came to visit her. Now you might think I would know all my cousins' husbands and wives but it's sometimes hard to keep track since I have 43 first cousins. If you were to count my second and third cousins there are more than 200. I don't even try to keep most of them straight. Anyway, Chris, my sister Anne, and I got to visit for a few minutes and it was very nice to see her. She said she'd make sure and stop again next time she was in town.

And speaking of work, I got another cute purse, a sweater and 2 t-shirts today. I may not get paid but I always find something I need or want which is fun.




I made it through another year; Thursday was my birthday. No big celebration, no milestones, just another year. How old you ask? Well, like they say, "Old enough to know better." I've been getting senior discounts at some places for a couple of years which is nice. :-) Okay, okay, I'm 57. Are you happy now? Five kids in the family with three birthdays in March and two in September and Mom and Dad were in the middle in June and July. Dad's birthday was July 7th, 7/7, but I don't think it ever brought him any special luck.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Just thinking outloud.......

I received a book today that I had won a couple of weeks ago, The American Journey of Barack Obama. I haven't read it all yet but I did spend several minutes looking through it and it's very interesting. My comment is this, and it's not something that just came to mind, I've thought it for some time - why all the hoopla about the first black president? Mr. Obama is half black and half white. The last time I checked half and half meant two EQUAL parts, right, so he's just as much white as he is black. Yes, he looks black and he's married to a black woman but he's still half white. And not that it makes any difference, but yes, I did vote for him and not because of his color.

Win a $25 GC to Outback Steakhouse!

Do you like Outback Steakhouse? Who doesn't, right, and with the cost of eating out these days, anyway we can save money is a plus. Kimberly at She Scribes is going to help out one lucky person by giving them a $25 gift card to Outback. Just go to Outback's web site and check out their new "15 under $15" menu. Then go to She Scribes and tell her what your favorite is. You can post your comment here. You can get several more entries by following directions on the post. Maybe you'll be the lucky one who gets to enjoy Crab Stuffed Shrimp, Alice Springs Chicken Quesadilla, Teriyaki Glazed Sirloin, or their famous Bloomin' Onion. Good luck!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Save at Lauren Nicole Gifts!

Lauren Nicole Gifts is offering 30% off on their Monogrammed Cosmetic Bags from now until midnight on March 19. The bags come in 6 different colors and can be monogrammed with either a name or three initials and usually retail for $10. To receive 30% off on the bags just enter the following coupon code in the coupon box during checkout: wacky

Books I've read this week

I've read 2 books already this week. The first was another by James Patterson called 2nd Chance © 2002. It's the second in his Women's Murder Club series. These books were the basis of a past television show by the same name starring Angie Harmon. In this book, Lt. Lindsay Boxer and her friends have to figure out how the murders of a child, an older woman, and 2 policemen are related. Is it a hate crime like some suspect or something more personal? And why has Lindsay's father suddenly shown up after walking out on their family over 20 years ago?

The second book I've read so far this week is Critical Conditions by Stephen White ©1998. I'm pretty sure this book is another in a series because the author kept referring to things that had happened in the past with the same characters. The main character is a psychologist, Dr. Alan Gregory. He's called in to help a 15- year-old girl who has tried to commit suicide. Although she recovers physically, she refuses to speak a word to anyone so he has a hard time trying to figure out why she did it. Her younger sister is slowly dying while waiting for experimental health treatments that the insurance company refuses to pay for. The story follows the anguish of the family as they're pulled in two different directions by the problems of their daughters. Then when the CEO of the insurance company is murdered and signs point to the older daughter being involved, things really get complicated. At the beginning of the story there were quite a few characters thrown into the story very quickly and I had a little bit of trouble keeping them straight. As the story progressed, it got much easier. There were a lot of twists to the plot but the author did a good job tying them all together.

More March Wins

March is continuing to bring me some small wins. I received 2 emails today. The first was from Stacey at Glimpse Reviews letting me know I won her recent contest of my choice of earrings and hair elastics from Enthral Designs. I had already picked out a pair of jade green glass earrings and blue elastics with white stars. I have 2 neices and I'm sure one of them would love to have the elastics.

The other email told me I was a daily winner in the Win a Tee Looza contest. The prize is the winner's choice of a T-shirt from http://www.theryde.com/ . It seemed like they were out of every shirt I liked in my size and I ended up picking a Daydream shirt from the men's selection. The contest is still taking entries until March 21 and you can enter here if you're interested.

Another Bag Giveaway

Audrey's Country's Crafts is sponsoring a giveaway of a very pretty handmade bag from Dasha's Creations. All you have to do to win is check out the bags at Dasha's shop and then leave a comment on Audrey's site here with the LINK of your favorite bag. You have until the morning of March 30 to enter. You'll get 5 extra entries if you purchase something from Dasha's and then leave another comment telling what it is.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Leisurely Saturday

Ah, the weather is finally warming up again and today it reached the fifties. That works for me. It was such a great day for a drive, we decided to check out the monthly flea market at Ft. Dodge. We usually get there most warm weather months and a couple of times during the winter. I lucked out and found a vendor selling paperbacks for only fifty cents again so I picked up 4 more. This time I got Thrown Away Child by Thomas Adcock © 1996 which is a Neil Hockaday mystery that takes place in New Orleans; Stars by Kathryn Harvey © 1892 which is about a luxury resort by that name; The Rock Child by Win Blevins © 1998, a historical novel that takes place in the west of 1962; and Vanish with the Rose by Barbara Michaels ©1992 which is about a lawyer's undercover search for her missing brother.


After we had lunch we left Ft. Dodge heading east and north. We made our way to Eagle Grove. We were driving around looking at the town and we drove through the county fairgrounds. There was a dog there that started following alongside our pickup. Jim has a ball on his antenna and it was making a shadow on the ground behind the dog. The dog happened to look back and saw this shadow chasing him and he kept trying to outrun it. He would run a little ways, look back and see it was about to catch him so he'd run faster, look again, run, look, run, look. He kept doing that and we were cracking up laughing. It's a good thing we finally turned so that shadow didn't get him.

We then went back south and east to Woolstock. Just outside of Woolstock we were lucky enough to spot about 8 bald eagles sitting on the ice of a partially frozen quarry pond, feeding on something. I love seeing these magnificent birds.

From Woolstock we headed over to hwy. 69 and then south. There are hundreds of large wind-power generators which are spread around the southern Wright/northern Hamilton County area. The terrain in that area is pretty flat so you can see many of them at the same time. It's like something out of a futuristic movie. They're so huge but you don't hear any noise driving near them and they don't seem to move very fast when looking up at them from the ground. It's my understanding that the landowners get compensated fairly well for leasing land to the energy companies and letting them erect the towers. It's a great way to earn some extra income and help provide clean energy.

We hit the outlet mall at Story City but it doesn't offer much anymore. About half of the store spaces are empty. They have a large VF outlet store, a Black & Decker, 2 shoe stores, a flower & gift shop, a kitchen store, a store for dance clothes (leotards, etc.), a Van Huesen's, and 2 women's clothing stores. There used to be a toy store, a card & paper products store, another shoe store, and a store that sold towels, bedding, etc.. They're supposed to close at 8 on Saturday nights but 2 of the stores were already closed when we got there at 7. Jim bought some socks and we left.

Olive Juice Bag-of-the-Month Contest

Olive Juice Bags is holding their first ever bag-of-the-month contest with prizes valued at over $450. You can win the featured Olive Juice bag-of-the-month, it could be a Madi Bag with interchangeable sash, a Jennifer Hobo Bag, or any of the bags featured at http://www.olivejuicebags.com/. Every Olive Juice bag is designed and manufactured in the U.S.A.
Enter now through August 31st, 2009 by simply blogging about the contest on your personal or professional blog. For each separate blog entry you will receive an entry into our contest. Just send them the link to each of your postings (maximum one per day) at olivejuicebags@comcast.net and you’ll be entered for a chance to win the featured Olive Juice bag-of-the-month. Six total winners will be chosen, one per month, and will be contacted by e-mail. A list of winners will be available in their monthly newletter.

Friday, March 13, 2009

This Full House Triple Play Giveaway

Are you having trouble deciding what to fix for dinner? Could you use a little help with the cost of your meal? Would you like a tasty, healthy snack? Well, if you answered yes to any or all of these questions, head over to This Full House Reviews and enter her giveaway. She's giving two winners 2 free coupons for the entree of your choice from Michael Angelo's Gourmet Foods, 2 (two) $10.00 worth of complimentary coupons for Long John Silver's Restaurants and 2 bags of Bear Naked Granola. Just leave a comment on this post by 10:00 a.m. on March 16. Additional entries by blogging and/or subscribing.

Books I've read this week

iI just finished reading The Absence of Nectar by Kathy Hepinstall ©2001. I have to say the book pulled me in and didn't let go until the very end. The main story is of 2 young children's fight for survival against their evil stepfather while their mother stands by and doesn't help. You have to feel sorry for all of them. The mother is weak and doesn't think she can survive without a man in her life. When her husband walks out on her, she first totally collapses, lays in bed, and refuses to go on with her life, then she accepts the first man who pays attention to her, overlooking his obvious faults of meanness, bulllying, and lying. He tells her and her kids that his wife and son both drowned so they'll feel sorry for him but the daughter never really believes him. He's jealous of the children and does all he can to make their lives miserable and when they try to tell their mother, she refuses to believe it. Even when he starts mistreating her and emotionally abusing her, she stands by him. All he wants is for her to get pregnant so he'll have a child of his own. It gets so bad the children feel their stepfather is going to poison them but they don't know where to turn for help. Their mother finally reaches the point where she knows her husband is dangerous and tells the children to "RUN!" What they do next to survive is amazing.

The story, which takes place in 1971 in East Texas, is told in the viewpoint of the daughter who is 12. The son is 14, very religous and feels everyone should be forgiven for their sins. He's fallen in love, via newspaper stories, with a girl who's locked up in a mental hospital for reportedly killing her mother and attempting to kill her father. He writes her telling her that God will forgive her if she'll just let Him and he'll help her, etc. This girl ends up playing a very big part in their lives.

The telling of the struggle all 3 of these kids go through to survive was very well-written. I highly recommend this book.


I also read Nora Roberts' book Going Home, which is made up of 3 previously published short stories, Unfinished Business © 1992, Island of Flowers ©1982, and Mind Over Matter ©1987. These 3 were all definitely 'chick-lit' and easy reading. You could tell they were written several years ago as several of the main male characters smoked and bossed the women around. I don't think you'd see as much of that in a newer book. Several times I just wanted the woman to tell the guy to "F* off!" instead of letting him control her but, of course, they all fall in love in the end. Typical romance novel.


I managed to get another book read on Saturday bringing this week's total to three. After reading James Patterson's Sundays at Tiffany's, which didn't impress me at all, I was hesitant to read another of his stories. However, I had a copy of Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas © 2001 and I decided to give him another try. I'm very glad I did as this is a much better read. I am also surprised that this book, with all it's emotional ups and downs, was written by a man.

In the book, Katie Wilkinson meets and falls in love with the 'perfect man', Matt Harrison. She plans a big dinner for him so she can tell him exactly how she feels and instead he breaks up with her that night for no apparent reason. The next day she finds an envelope on her doorstep and inside is a diary written by Matt's wife, Suzanne, for their infant son, Nicholas. Suzanne had lost her parents at an early age and always wished her mother had left her a diary so she writes one for her son. She starts it before he's even born by telling him how she and Matt met, about their wedding, her hopes for the future, etc. In it the love she and Matt share is very evident. Matt's note with the diary says it will help Katie understand why he left. Seeing that's it's Matt's wife's diary makes Katie feel that she's fallen in love with an adulterer and she's even more upset. The story is then told as Katie reads the diary entries and what she does because of it . It's a very emotional story and you don't know exactly what's going on until towards the end of the book. At one point I just had to take a break to get my emotions under control. Read it and you'll understand.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Win a Cookbook for your Teen

Do you have a teen who could be a big help in the kitchen if you could only get them interested? Maybe they need their own, interesting cookbook to get them inspired. Sam Stern is a world-famous young cook who may just change your teen’s perceptions of helping in the kitchen. He has published a cookbook that includes favorite foods of his friends and himself which includes sections on pasta, tomatoes, cheese, veggies, and chocolate. Would you like to win a copy for your teen? Check out Sam Stern's site then go to dkMommy Spot and tell her why you'd like to win. Contest ends midnight EST on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Good luck!

Win a Mystic Wonders Complete Laundry System

Head over to dkMommy Spot and enter to win a Mystic Wonders Complete Laundry System. This laundry system uses special balls in the washer and the dryer to cut down or completely do without laundry detergents and fabric softeners and they last up to 3 years. Think of all the money you can save! You can check it out here and then go to dkMommy Spot and enter to win the Mystic Wonders Complete Laundry System for yourself. Contest ends midnight EST on Thursday, March 19, 2009. Good luck!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yesterday (Monday) was a day of ups and downs emotionally. To begin with, it was the one year anniversary of my sister Pam's death. It certainly doesn't seem like she's been gone that long as she's in my thoughts often. We're both night owls and she was the one who used to holler at me on Messenger late at night. Sometimes if that wasn't enough, she would say, "Can I call you?" We'd talk until one of us realized just how late it was and then reluctantly, hang up. I miss you Pam.

I don't go to town very often with the price of gas and no real need but yesterday I made the rounds. Yesterday was also my younger sister Anne's, birthday. I won't say how old but let's just say she's a little bit 'over the hill'. LOL She had taken yesterday off and was spending part of it babysitting with her twin grandsons. This gave their mom a break and her some time with the boys. I tracked her down to deliver a card, balloon and a large bag of M&Ms. I figured she could stretch the chocolate over a few days, right?

From there I went to my brother's. Larry's my computer guru and always ready to help me out. He had given me an all-in-one printer but didn't have the software. I have a VERY slow dial up internet connection so he downloaded the drivers onto my flash drive so I could install them later.(I still couldn't get it to work but that's another story.) Larry was busy helping his wife Sue are busy make some beautiful quilts. They were happy to show me what they'd been working on and the fabric choices they made are so pretty. I can't wait to see the finished products. Sue is also making one featuring Larry's barn drawings which is definitely one-of-a-kind. I suggested showing it at this year's Covered Bridge Festival Quilt Show. You can check out some of Larry and Sue's work by visiting his blog here or his website. Winterset is the home of Marrianne Fons and Liz Porter who have a quilting show on PBS, a quilting magazine, and there's a local shop that features their fabrics so quilting is really popular here.

Leaving Larry's, I stopped by Mom's. I hadn't visited with here in quite a while and she wanted me to look at her jewelry. She LOVES jewelry and had bought some nice pieces over the years. She has decided to let us girls pick out some things we like and have them now instead of 'fighting' over them later. I think that's very nice of her and so far it has worked out well. She gave me a beautiful necklace and earrings that are tanzanite and diamonds, a pair of sterling silver earrings that have a small round top with a slightly larger round drop, and 2 gorgeous CZ rings that are set in 14k gold. One of the rings has a 3 carat marquis middle stone with 4 round stones and 2 baguettes on each side. It's really beautiful. I love jewelry almost as much as Mom so I'm very happy.

By then it was time to meet my girlfriends for supper. There are 4 of us who used to bowl on the same team, Jo Ann, Nancy, Dee, and myself. Nancy is the only one still bowling but we try and get together at least once a month to catch up. These ladies are all very special to me and I hope they know it. I've known them all for years (Jo since the 60s!!). We can share so much together whether it's family news, chat about television shows, or just the latest jokes. We've been giving the local restaurants some business and it's fun to try something new. We've had pizza, Mexican, and Chinese lately and next month we're going to the Country Club. Meals sometimes stretch into 3-hour gabfests which my hubby just doesn't understand, but with these gals it's easy. I'm looking forward to next month already.

I got another win notice today. I won a sweatshirt from "Win with Loacker's All Natural Products" sweeps. I even got to choose the size which is a big plus. Usually with clothing wins they just send whatever and it doesn't fit.

Jim does all the shopping for us (another LONG story) and last night he brought home a 10# roll of ground beef. This was a great buy at only $1.79/lb. I spent a few minutes today dividing it up into 1# packages and I made some into quarter pound patties. I froze it all in quart-size baggies which I'll put into larger freezer bags after it's frozen and I put wax paper between the individual patties so it will be easy to use them later. I bought a cast iron grill pan a few weeks ago and it works great for burgers.

Monday, March 9, 2009

More Wins

I received 2 winning emails Sunday from blog contests I had entered. The first was an audio book of Little Pink House by Jeff Benedict from A Bookworm's World . This is a true story about a woman fighting to save her house from condemnation by the process of emminent domain. The woman had been through 2 divorces, her kids were grown, and she was going back to school to be a nurse. She bought a small house and invested time and money in it to make it her own. Along comes a big company who wants to expand and the city decides to offer some property which includes her home. She decides to fight and the court battle goes on for 10 years. Can you imagine what that must have cost? If someone owns a farm, home, business, or whatever, the government should not be allowed to step in and take it just so a big company can build there or a road can go through even if they pay fair market value. You can't put a price on people's memories or sweat equity. Last year there was a story on the local news about Vedic City in southeast Iowa. They decided they wanted to expand their city limits and to do so they wanted to take a farm that had been in a family for 100 years. I know the family was fighting it but I never heard the outcome; I certainly don't think it's right. I've seen little businesses torn down so a larger chain grocery store or a mall can be built. I've always thought emminent domain (the process where government can take your property for the supposed good of the majority) was wrong and I'm looking forward to hearing this woman's story.

The second win was The American Journey of Barack Obama from The Editors of Life Magazine and I won it from Literary Menagerie . Even with all the pre- and post-election publicity, I can't say I really know that much about Mr. Obama. I'm think this will be an interesting book and one that I'll definitely share with others.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Random Thoughts

We recently switched house insurance companies after our previous company almost doubled our rates. They changed how far you could be from town (or a fire hydrant) by 2 miles and we were outside their limits for a cheaper rate. I think that's like changing rules in the middle of the game, don't you? My house never moved!

Anyway, the new company had to know how old things were at the house - roof, electrical, plumbing, heating, etc. I gave our insurance man all the information, paid him, and got the new policy in the mail this week. This morning I'm awakened by the phone and it's an inspector for the new company. I guess telling them isn't good enough; he's coming Friday morning to take photos of the furnace, water heater, and electrical panel. Now all of these things are in my basement which isn't very nice and I only go down there because that's where the washer and dryer are. I decided the least I could do is sweep down some of the cobwebs before he comes. (Aren't I nice?) We just had the water heater replaced last month even though it was only 10 years old. It had started leaking around the top connections. Ten years ago with installation, the complete price was about $275. The new one installed was $607! While I was down there cleaning, it came to me - that water heater cost more than our first car!!! We've been married for 37 years and our first vehicle was a used Plymouth Fury II that we gave $400 for and it was a decent car.


It was an absolutely gorgeous day today, around 75°. Too bad it won't last. There's no way winter is through this early in the year. I guess that makes today that much better.

It's back to help at the Center again tomorrow. I got a large garbage bag full of clothes from a Freecycler on Tuesday and after picking about a dozen tops and jeans out to keep, and trashing a few more, I'm donating the rest. If you don't Freecycle, you should really check it out. Just google for it and then find one in your local area.

Books I've read this week

We went to the flea market at the State Fairgrounds on Sunday. I was very lucky to come across a booth selling like-new paperbacks for fifty cents each and I ended up buying 7. I have read 2 already. The first one I read was The Drowning People by Richard Mason © 1999. The title is what caught my attention on this book. The book starts off in a very interesting way. “My wife of more than forty-five years shot herself yesterday afternoon. . ….. Of course, I know that she did nothing of the kind. … It was I who killed her.” Now doesn’t that get your attention? The story takes place mainly in England and is told from the viewpoint of the husband as he tells what led up to him killing his wife. A few other people die along the way and a family is seemingly cursed by insanity. It wasn’t a bad book.

The next book I read was a romance novel called An Accidental Woman © 2002 and it’s by Barbara Delinsky. It’s a follow-up to a previous book entitled Lake News which I haven’t read but you don’t need to read it to enjoy this one. The main female character, Poppy, is in a wheelchair after being injured in a snowmobile accident several years earlier. Heather, a friend of Poppy’s is arrested for a murder that took place 15 years ago in California. Everyone feels it must be a case of mistaken identity and they rally to try and clear her. The underlying story is Poppy’s involvement with Griffin, a writer who feels guilty for accidentally tipping the police off to Heather’s whereabouts. The story takes place in New Hampshire during the early spring and I really enjoyed learning all about the process of making maple syrup. The author also does a good job explaining what a paraplegic goes through in their every day life. I enjoyed the book very much.

I also bought James Patterson's 2nd Chance; Suspect by Jasmine Cresswell; Minutes to Burn by Gregg Andrew Hurwitz; Suzanne Brockmann's Gone Too Far; and The Absence of Nectar by Kathy Hepinstall.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Win a Hasbro Game

Do you need some new games for family game night? Chefdruck Reviews is giving away your choice of one of the following Hasbro games - Monopoly "Here and Now" edition for ages 8+, Monopoly Town for ages 4+, Pictureka, or Operation. To enter, leave a comment here mentioning which game you're interested in. Contest ends Friday, March 13. One game per winner. For extra entries, see the contest page.