Thursday, April 30, 2015

Who does everyone love to hate? Zombies #AtoZChallenge

There was a time when Klout considered me "influential" about zombies... and bacon... (thankfully not zombie bacon). Zombies, what's not to love?

Today one of my fellow IT folk was explaining how to do something and said "you have to double tap it, just like zombies". The reference was lost on the person she was talking to, but not on me - I loved it.

Zombies are great fun, except for the ones in World War Z. NO ONE likes fast zombies. We like slow zombies that shamble and give us time to double tap them. Shambling and slow = good. Fast = bad.

I've read several books with zombies of one type or another, but my favorite is still Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry. It's the first Joe Ledger novel and it is fantastic. The whole series is. I highly recommend it. LOTS of action, suspense, cool gadgets, sci-fi and just a tinge of paranormal. Just great all around.

Well that's it folks, the end of the challenge. I did it! Hopefully I'll continue to blog throughout the year in 2015, unlike last year. Fellow bloggers, how do you stay motivated to blog from May to March?

For those of you who stopped by, and especially those who commented, THANK YOU! I hope I made you smile.

Yarn Bombing... who knew this was a thing?? #AtoZChallenge

Well, this is late. Last night I passed out around 6. I'm pretty sure it's the Post-Bahama Blues/Rum Punch Withdrawals. All I know is that I didn't feel well and after some Thieves tea and a bowl of homemade chicken soup I was out for the count.

 But it works out actually, as I had no real plan for Y before today. I'm listening to a new audiobook - Hit by Delilah Dawson. It's a YA novel about a 17 year old who is forced to become a hitman to save her mother when a bank starts enforcing a well hidden clause in a credit card application. It's an interesting premise and will make you think twice about taking on debt, and our country's propensity to also go into debt.

Our heroine's secret passion? Yarn Bombing... Never heard of it? Yeah, neither had I.

So I Googled it... and wow...

According to Wikipedia: Yarn Bombing is " a type of graffiti or street art that employs colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fiber rather than paint or chalk." Looks like a pretty time intensive hobby to me. Of course, I have no idea how to knit or crochet. 

Time apparently did a whole article on it: The Fine Art of Yarn Bombing

Who knew?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Liquid Xanax... just one more reason I love essential oils #AtoZChallenge

My family and I use essential oils daily, after a year and a half they've become part of our daily routine. 

One of my favorite homemade blends is called "Liquid Xanax" and I've used it quite a bit when suffering from anxiety. I used to take medication for anxiety, but I never really felt like it worked well. So after trying several varieties, I weaned myself off of them (with my doctor's permission) using oils - specifically Joy, Stress Away and Geranium. It's been over a year, and I'm doing great.

If you're an "oiler" like me, try whipping up a batch of this. I find it works great!

Note: I didn't create this graphic, nor do I know who did, but if anyone knows where it originated I'd be happy to credit the source. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Wanderlust #AtoZChallenge

I have often said that I'd love to travel... but only if I could go home every night. Lately though I've been more and more interested in traveling. It's funny, I thought wanderlust was more of a young person's thing.

After having such a great time on the cruise last week, I'm already planning the next excursion in my head. I'd really like to go do an Alaskan cruise, but I'm open to ideas. Where is your favorite travel destination?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Vacation! #AtoZChallenge

Sorry, this one is a day late, but it just so happened that V came up in the challenge the day we returned from a 7 day cruise to the Caribbean! However, I was too tired to blog about it when we got home last night (big surprise, eh?).

I pre-wrote all of the past week's posts before I left, just so I could keep up. Crazy that I can't seem to blog the rest of the year LOL

We took the Carnival Sunshine out of Cape Canaveral Florida where we met up with my brother- and sister-in law, their three kids, another friend and her daughter. We had a great time!
In Nassau 

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Grand Turk
The food, fun and activities were awesome. If you haven't been on a cruise, I highly recommend you give it a try. Plan to eat a lot (pack some "roomy" pants for the last few days), stay up late (to catch the comedy and music/dance performances), spend some money (on gambling, bingo and/or drinks), go on at least one excursion (there are a wide variety of activities available at each port), do some shopping (on and off-shore) and never checking your phone for messages (I didn't miss it at all).

Friday, April 24, 2015

Utterfly - Sandra Boynton is Amazing #AtoZChallenge

Behold the Udderfly...

I started following Sandra Boynton on Facebook about a month or so ago, she posts something cute and typically oddly relevant each day. Relevant in that she's discovered a list of "days' like Scrabble Day or National Farm Animals day.

So I was scanning my newsfeed, looking for something "U" to post about and there it was... the Udderfly. Sandra saves the day again.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield #AtoZChallenge

I stumbled upon The Thirteenth Tale about a year ago. I forget how, but likely another impossible to resist Audible sale.

The story begins with a famous, reclusive novelist's decision to have her biography written. She chooses a young shopkeeper, Lea, for the task. What follows is a Gothic suspense with so many twists and turns that you'll be guessing right up until the end as it switches between present day and long ago.

The characters are well written and interesting. The story is intriguing, spooky and filled with surprises. I highly recommend it, even if it is a departure from your typical reading genre as it was for me.

There was a movie made based upon the book. It was pretty good, but the book is almost always better, right?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Samantha Shannon and The Bone Season series #AtoZXChallenge

Yet another series set in a Dystopian world - I guess I just gravitate towards them. Plus Audible knows my tastes very well and dangles series novels in front of my nose and I can often not resist. I think that's how I came across The Bone Season.

This series is scheduled to be seven books long - only the first two have been published so far. The books have been very well received and I know I have enjoyed them a lot. I hope that eventually they'll be picked up for a television series - I don't think a movie would do them justice.

These are Dystopian with a supernatural/paranormal twist. Many of the main characters have some type of clairvoyance, and are shunned and feared because of it. They also often disappear, just like our main character Paige does.

The Bone Season is all about that disappearance and how Paige manages to return. The Mime Order finds her fighting to bring the truth of their world to people, despite those in power either not believing her, or wanting to block that knowledge for their own reasons.

Gripping novels, unique world and deep characters will keep you turning the pages. I do suggest, however, that you read the two books back to back. The second book picks up immediately after the first and you might find yourself quickly lost, like I did, if you wait for a long time between books.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Right here, right now... the challenge to be present #AtoZChalleng

Today's world is full of distractions - our Smart Phones are constantly beeping and vibrating, the radio is on, Facebook updates need to be read, blogs need to be written... the list goes on and on. On the surface, I don't really care all that much about these things, but fall victim to their lure all the time.

Oh hey, I just got a message, be right back...

And on and on it goes. I see it happening and I hate it, but it's like a tide pulling me in. I see my daughter succumbing to it as well. She doesn't stand a chance, she's never known a world without technology all around, constantly begging for attention. She doesn't understand why I can't pause live television - we don't have cable, so no DVR.

How do you fight the tide?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Question Everything #AtoZChallenge

I recently helped some of my co-workers realize that a process they'd been performing for over 10 years was no longer necessary. That sort of stuff makes me insanely happy.

How did this happen? Well, at least 10 years ago a manager dictated that this process be done and no one asked why, or it was still necessary, until about two weeks ago.

So, the moral of the story folks is to ask why. Question everything. This is the beginning of Lean thinking and it's something I hope to teach my daughter.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pawn, Captive, Queen - a great series by Aimee Carter #AtoZChallenge

Set in a dystopian world where one's place in the world is based upon how well they do on a test, one girl is offered a choice - either be a III and live a hard life in a strange town away from everyone she knows and loves. Or become a VII and live a life of luxury with the highest ranking family in the land.

The only catch... she will lose her identity and become a Pawn.

The second novel finds Kitty the reluctant center of a rebellion, a Captive in many ways.

The third book in the trilogy will be released this fall, and I can't wait to read it. Although these are labeled as young adult novels, the story is gripping, the characters have depth and the premise is interesting.

I highly recommend these novels - check out Aimee's website at:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Oreo Balls - delicious, award winning, may ruin relationships #AtoZChallenge

Oreo Balls... have you heard of them? They are amazing. I have won three consecutive dessert contests against other amazing desserts with them.

Here's my trophy from last week's Company Picnic. Isn't it awesome?

And they're not hard to make...

Empty one package of Oreos - whichever type you'd like - into a food processor and chop them into dust.

Add in one package of cream cheese and mix until a dough forms.

Roll approximately 45 small balls of the dough. Make them small - trust me. Place them on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.

Put them in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.

Melt chocolate (I prefer semi-sweet, but pick your poison) and dip the balls into it. Place them on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and put them back in the freezer.

Once they're set, put them in a container.

Enter dessert competition. Reap the rewards.

However, I will warn you that they could cause relationship problems... Oreo Ball Envy is real...

You have been warned :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

No, I don't really feel like blogging tonight #AtoZChallenge

We're on letter N of the 2015 A to Z Challenge, so far, so good!

How are you doing this year? Do you have a theme going? Does it help?

Tomorrow I have a great post planned for O... so check back then and have a great night :)

An N-related photo ;)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Minute... just one minute before you go - An Outlook Tip #AtoZChallenge

Have you ever sent an email and then instantly regretted it? Realized you left out something important, forgot to spell check it, forgot to cc someone, left off the attachment or realized you reacted too quickly?

Yeah, me too. But not anymore, now I have a minute delay on all outgoing emails and I cannot tell you how many times I have edited an email after hitting Send, but before allowing it to leave my mailbox.

Setting it up is easy:

  •  In Outlook, click on “File”
  • Select “Manage Rules & Alerts”
  • Select “New Rule”
  • Highlight “Apply rule on messages I send”
  • Select “Next”
  • Select “Next” again
  • Click “Ok” to the dialogue warning you that this rule will apply to every message you send
  • Check “Defer delivery by a number of minutes”
  • In the lower area, click the “a number of” link and set it to whatever you like
  • Click “Ok”
  • Click “Finish”

After you hit Send, emails will sit in your Outbox folder for a minute before being sent. So, if you realize you need to make a change, look for your email there, change it and hit Send again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ledger, Joe Ledger - Amazing Series by Johnathan Maberry #AtoZChallenge

Joe Ledger is a character in a series of novels by Johnathan Maberry. Currently there are seven books in the series and several novellas as well.

Joe works for a covert government agency that tackles global threats like madmen looking to unleash a zombie-virus epidemic using super high-tech gadgets, ingenuity and a very healthy dose of dry wit and sarcasm. I have listened to all of these novels on audiobook and frankly I think that makes them even better. Ray Porter does the narration and trust me when I say that he could read the phone book and make it compelling. Fantastic voice actor.

If you like action, adventure, sci-fi, strong characters, interesting story lines and a whole lot of fun you should definitely check out these books.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Kaizen, Continuous Improvement and Lean Thinking #AtoZChallenge

Actually all three mean pretty much the same thing. About two years ago I read a book by Paul Akers, 2-Second Lean, and realized that I have always been a lean thinker; it's just who I am.

What does that mean? I am constantly trying to figure out better ways to do things, asking questions and trying to figure out the root of any given problem. I love problem solving.


If you're not sure where to start, I suggest clicking on that link above and getting that book (it's also available from Amazon and various other places) or the audiobook. You'll learn skills that will help you at home and at work. The book is short and fun to read, I highly recommend it.

You will also very likely clean out and organize your closet at home... it's a common side effect. :)

Continuous Improvement is (finally!) taking hold where I work, and it's really cool to see. How about you? Do you see an improvement movement in your world?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Jeep! #AtoZChallenge

I love my husband's Jeep - it has such a unique style to it and we have a lot of fun family adventures in it to boot.

What do you do for family fun days?

Friday, April 10, 2015

I'm Imperfect, but hopefully Interesting or at least an I word that means funny #AtoZChallenge

The older I get, the quirkier I get. I'm hoping I'm not alone in this... not being... irrational.

Yeah, sometimes coming up with a blog post is tough... until the next day when I think of all sorts of things I could have blogged about on the prior day's letter.


I guarantee that tomorrow morning the perfect I-themed post will pop into my head...

Like when I realized that for G I could have blogged about GodVille, my favorite ZPG. What's a ZPG? It's a zero player game. You don't actually have to actively play this game for it to happen. I've been playing it every day for about 10 months now. It's a wonderfully punny game.

Or.. oh yeah, I meant to blog about Gangster for G... as in Ain't it Good to be a Gangster from Office Space... dang it. Maybe I can blog about smashing a copier for S, or O or X! I should write that down.

So there's my rambling I post... chalk it up to my being eccentric... damn, that would have been a good E word...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Healthy, and staying that way #AtoZChallenge

Staying healthy is important to me, not only because... well really, who wants to be sick? But because I've been sick (cancer) and I know how lucky I am to be healthy today.

Now I am no health nut, not by a long shot, but I very much dislike taking pills and try to only use natural and herbal remedies whenever possible.

I use essential oils to elevate my mood, increase my energy levels, kick my metabolism in the butt and to combat colds. I also take herbals like Ginko Biloba for... uh... well I forget why (that's a joke, it's for memory) and St. John's Wort for mood.

I am a strong believer in the idea that there is a natural cure for just about everything. Would I have fought my cancer with oils and herbs? No, probably not, but I would have used them to help and also the help mitigate the side effects from the chemo, radiation and drugs.

So tell me, what natural cures do you use for everyday ailments?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Games - I love games! #AtoZChallenge

I've loved to play games since I was a small child. In fact, I learned my numbers playing cards with my Grandmother around the time I was five.

Some of my current favorite games include:

 Monopoly Deal - this is a card game based on Monopoly. My family plays it and we love it. The games are quick - 15 minutes - yet challenging and fun. We typically play three rounds at a minimum. It takes strategy, and sometimes luck, to win this game and every round is different. I highly recommend it for kids (around 7 and up) and adults alike.

Diablo III is another current favorite, along with its expansion pack Reaper of Souls. My husband and I have been playing Diablo the entire time we've known each other - first with Diablo, then Diablo II. The fact that I liked to play video games reportedly factored into his decision that "I was the one".

The first time Lenny every told me he loved me was when he snagged a Ring of Jordan right from under my nose in Diablo II. "I love you" he said when I protested. "Bullshit" I replied.

Ah love...

And a new favorite, War for the Overworld. If you played Dungeon Keeper back in the day, you will love this. I actually bought this game two years ago when it was being developed, because I liked where the developers were going with it. It's the spiritual success of the Dungeon Keeper games. I've only just started it, but I already love it. If you like building dungeons and beating up those annoying "good guys", this game is for you!

What are you favorite games? Any hidden gems you'd like to share?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Facts of Life, I'm just not ready... #AtoZChallenge

A few weeks ago my daughter and I were in the shoe aisle of Target when she says to me...

"Mom, I think I'm pregnant."

Angie is 7 1/2 (the 1/2 is very important and must always be mentioned)

I managed to choke out "uh... why do you think that?"

"Well, my tummy is upset and it's 'big'."

Insert picture of beanpole 7 1/2 year old kid...

"Honey, I can assure you that you are not pregnant."

"But mom, how do you know for sure?? You told me that you didn't have to be married to have a baby. So how do you know I'm not pregnant?" Yeah... she asked that question a few weeks ago.

"Well, a very specific set of circumstances would have to occur in order for you to be pregnant." 

"Like what?"

"Uh... can we talk about this when we're not in the shoe aisle at Target?"

Since then I've given her the basics... vague basics... and told her we'd talk in more detail in a few years. I'm all for being open and honest, and giving her good information, but I'm just not ready yet... 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Extremely Average Brian Meeks is not #AtoZChallenge

A few years ago I met Brian Meeks on Twitter - he goes by @ExtremlyAvg. But I assure you, average this writer is not.

On January 2nd 2010 Brian made a promise to himself that he'd blog every day. First he started with a story about a detective set in 1955. Since that day not only has he blogged every day, he has written and published nine novels in several different genres with a wide variety of fun, interesting characters. 

To suggest that I admire him would be to put it too lightly. I am constantly amazed by what he has accomplished and I have purchased every book he's published so far. 

I highly recommend you check out Brian's books.

 If you like Mystery, there's the Henry Wood Detective series.

 Satire more your speed? Be sure to read Underwood, Scotch and Wry.

But my favorite so far is Killing Hemingway, and not just because the main tortoise character was inspired by my Russian Tortoise NomNom, but because it's just a great novel. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

D&D, how I miss thee #AtoZChallenge

I am currently "reading" (I listen to audiobooks) a very charming novel by Drew Hayes called NPCs. It's a tale about the non-player characters in D&D Games.

Four gamers start a new campaign and their characters are killed off. Four NPCs witness the death of those adventurers and take up their quest to protect their town from the wrath of their king, who would be put out of the original four never appeared at court as instructed. I recommend it, even if you've never played D&D.

It brings back memories of when I played D&D games years (and years and years) ago. Good times. If you're lucky enough to have a great GM, which I was, then playing D&D is rather like living in a novel with the ability to effect the story.

Have you ever played? I wonder if there are any online games I could join - I have dice!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Crafty - it's not as hard as it looks #AtoZChallenge

About two years ago my aunt, daughter and I started Crafty Saturdays.

So far we've done glass painting:

Diffuser necklaces to use with essential oils, or just for the fashion forward:

Shoe painting:

And various other stuff painting:

And creative use of stickers, frames, photos and scrapbook tools... ing:

We've also made rubber band bracelets and melty bead object and created houses out of Popsicle sticks, among other things. And let me be the first to say, I am not particularly talented. I just devoted a few hours a week to creating something crafty and not worry about laundry or cleaning the house or anything else. It has been great bonding time for us, and I have some wonderful things to show for that time too.

If this sounds like fun to you, you should totally go for it. Artistic ability isn't required, just the desire to create something and have fun doing it.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Books - where some of my best friends live #AtoZChallenge

I was puttering around the house the other day and the thought crossed my mind that I missed Polgara. And then I remembered that Polgara is a character in a series of novels, not actually someone that I know.

And yet... I do know her. She is one of my very favorite characters and up until recently I had made a point to visit her, and the rest of the gang, every year since she first appeared in 1986.

If you haven't met Polgara, you can find her living in the pages of David Eddings' series The Belgariad and The Malloreon. Tell her I said "hi" please.

Another of my best friends... Claire Fraser. I'm willing to guess more people know her, with the popularity of the Outlander series on Starz. It's always hard when a movie or series is made from a beloved book, but despite the inevitable changes to the story they've done an excellent job.

Series books are my favorite, likely because I don't have to let the characters go as quickly. I'm not sure if it's a sign of a book lover, or an introvert (or both?), that I would rather spend time with certain fictional characters than actual people.

Who is your favorite book character? Is it possible to pick only one?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Adulthood, or Something Like It #AtoZChallenge

If you're like me you have spent your life expecting that one day you'd finally be An Adult. You'd finally have it all figured out, stop making dumb mistakes and choices and feel confident in all of your decisions. Yup, there'd be that magical day when you'd never again sweat the small stuff, your advice would always be sound and your life would fit a pattern laid out in shows like The Brady Bunch.

Well, I have news for you... are you sitting down? Yeah... it's all a hoax.

That threshold, it doesn't exist. All those "adults" we've looked up to all our lives? They were just winging it too. They've just mastered the art of sounding like they know what the heck they're talking about.

But don't despair, this is actually good news. It means that when you make dumb decisions or find yourself struggling to "act your age" or agonize over "what to be when you grow up" (when you're technically already "grown up") that you're not alone.

Shrug it off, bounce back and keep trying. Tomorrow is another day. And in the meantime, work on that confident-sounding voice so others might think that you're An Adult.

Not quite a rainbow.... more of a rainblob (as Angie dubbed it)