Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Snip It, Snag It #AtoZChallenge

Do you take/use a lot of screenshots? I take a ton of them at work when I create How To documents. I take quite a few at home too.

Image result for snipping tool
On your home PC, if you have Windows 7, 8 or 10 you have a screenshot tool already loaded. It's pretty simple, but it does the job. Just search for "Snipping Tool". Then click on New, your screen will go pale, just click and drag the area you want to capture. Easy!

If you do a lot of screenshots and want some easy to use editing tools to go with it, I highly recommend SnagIt. It links with your PrtScrn button and works like a dream. You can even capture videos with it. The editing tools are great, you know those torn page graphics? One button. You can add call outs, dialog boxes, circle items, blur or zoom in, this list goes on and on. SnagIt costs $49.95, but if you do a lot of screenshots it is invaluable! You an do a free trial to check it out too.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Rereading Favorite Books #AtoZChallenge

I'm rereading (listening to) The Passage in preparation for the third book in the series, The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin. (Woohoo, can't wait!!)

I have reread The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon several times as well. Outlander is the of two books that I reread as soon as I'd finished it. Atlas Shrugged was the other. 

There are several other books, usually series, that I have reread several times over the years. Some of them, like The Belgariad and the Malloron, by David Eddings, I used to read almost annually for about twenty years.

The Incarnations of Immortality series by Piers Anthony is another that is eminently re-readable.

I almost always pick up on new things when I reread a book - foreshadowing I didn't notice before and other small details.

What books do you love to read over and over?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Quiet #AtoZChallenge

I tried to blog tonight, but my muse is quiet. She's off somewhere listening to old Prince cds.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hi Poop! #AtoZChallenge

For years I refused to text, or get a texting plan. People would send me texts and I'd grit my teeth because they cost me $0.10 each. But eventually I buckled and got unlimited Talk and Text.

Image result for poop emojiMy friend Denise suggested I use Messenger+ for texting. She had me open it and told me to type "Hi". "Now tap on it, you can send an emoticon instead of the text. Type some other words to see what else has an emoticon."

Well, the first thing that popped into my mind was the Poop icon, so I typed "poop". Sure enough, I could tap on it and get "Frosty" instead.

So my very first text with my new texting plan was to Denise and it read "Hi Poop". We laughed until we cried.

A few weeks later I happened upon plush poops, so of course I had to get one for each of us.

Some people complain that they have sh*t all over their desk... I have frosting :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Organizing Your Closet - a Few Helpful Tips #AtoZChallenge

Is your closet a mess? Does it take far too long to figure out what to wear every morning? Here are a few things that have helped me:

  • Better lighting - I swapped out my standard light bulb for a LED bulb - what a difference! Now I can tell my dark blue skirt from my black ones!
  • Sort your clothes by color - have you ever shopped at Goodwill? Notice how they organize all their racks by color? It will only take a little bit to do the same in your closet, and can save you time looking for things in the morning. 
  • Get a shoe solution! Organize your shoes in a shoe rack (or racks) so they're easy to find, and not all over the place. 
  • Speaking of shoes... swap out your shoes - do you wear boots in the winter and sandals in the summer? Keep your shoe boxes and swap your shoes out every season. This makes managing your shoe collection easier, and the dust off your favorite kicks. 
  • Swap out your clothes too! Pack away your sweaters when Spring comes (and you're sure it's here to stay). Some under the bed boxes work great and are inexpensive. This will free up space in your closet. Room for new clothes! :)
  • Put empty hangers in one spot - when you take clothes off a hanger, put the hanger in one area. No more hunting for hangers on laundry day!
  • If it bugs you, figure out a way to fix it - there's a great book called Two Second Lean that's all about making small, incremental changes in your life towards continually improving. I highly recommend it. While the book is geared largely towards a manufacturing environment, one of the common side effects is organizing your closet. You can find the book, tons of videos and lots of info at Check it out.
What do you do to keep your closet organized?

Negativity - How do you keep it at bay? #AtoZChallenge

Negativity... it can be hard to avoid. It's like a mist that sneaks up and envelops you before you ever see it coming.

It's catchy too; when you're around someone who is in a negative mood, it's hard not to follow suit.

I really, really try to be positive. I believe that happiness is a choice, but some days it's really hard.

What do you do to avoid negativity? How to you keep it from sapping your energy, your enthusiasm and your joy?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

"The Talk" we Never Got - Menopause #AtoZChallenge

I still remember way back in grade school when they split the girls off into a class to give us "The Talk" about what to expect when we got our periods.

I like how Ovulation is depicted here, LOL

Later (or perhaps earlier) we got "The Talk" about where babies come from.

(I haven't read this book, but I liked the picture)

But, I realized about nine years ago, no one ever gives us "The Talk" about Menopause. Instead one day your head catches on fire, you're in a crappy mood, depressed for no reason and realize you haven't had a period in far too long.

Welcome to Menopause!

I've actually done it twice; here's my favorite menopause story... I had started chemo for breast cancer and lost all of my hair. Then one day I realized that sometimes my head would just start SWEATING, for no reason. I wondered if maybe this had always happened, but I didn't notice it when I had hair. So I asked my bald, male friends. "Does your head just start to... sweat... for no reason?"

Yeah, they looked at me like you're looking at me now... "Uh... no...?"

So I mentioned it to my chemo nurse, who laughed and said "Oh honey, that's a hot flash."

Who knew?

If you haven't had a hot flash this is what it's like... normal, normal, norm- HOT, OMG IT'S 1,000 DEGREES IN HERE! OM... normal, normal.

Yes, out of the blue you suddenly feel like you're on fire. You break into a sweat at night, regardless of the temperature of the room, and are moody and depressed. You put on weight, especially around your waist, lose your libido and forget stuff.

My body recovered from the chemo-inducted menopause for a few years, and then I got to do it all over again. Yippee!

However, now that I'm on the other side, I have to say that menopause is one of the best things ever.

No periods, period!

Sure, I have a crappy memory and have to attach my keys to my wallet so I don't leave home without both. I'm moody with an annoying spare tire and a ton of anxiety, but those are all normal side effects that I can manage with attitude, True Focus (an herbal supplement), Essential Oils, Google and putting my phone to work for me.

It's possible that I am "a lean thinker" because of menopause; it really changes everything. But don't fear it, it's natural and happens to all of us. Embrace the perks - no periods, no birth control!

I found ways to manage the symptoms naturally, like Black Cohosh for hot flashes, St. John's Word for mood and exercise. Just be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, as some of them may affect other medication you take.

I am often surprised by women I talk to who feel something akin to shame or depression about menopause - it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's the start of the next phase in our lives, just like getting our period so many years ago was the first step into that phase of our lives. Embrace the change, because you can't avoid it.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Let it Go... Let it Go... #AtoZChallenge

I have this sign up at my desk, because there are some days I really need to have it right in front of my face. If you're not familiar, it's from a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

What do you keep handy for rough days at the office or at home? (besides wine LOL)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Karma and Other Life Lessons #AtoZChallenge

I may not be the best mom in the world, but at least I have taught my daughter three of life's most important lessons.

1. Not too long ago Angie tried to kick me. Not in a mean way, she was kidding around, but when she brought her foot back she accidentally kicked something behind her with the back of her foot. "Ow!" she cried, "what was that?"

My answer, "Karma"

2. Just a few days later on the way home from school she was complaining about her day and kept saying "what could possibly make today worse? Nothing. Nothing could make today any worse."

"I wouldn't say that," I warned.

When we got home I helped her study for the next day's spelling test. She got a few of the words wrong, so Lenny suggested she write them each 10 times. She complained, but did it. We retested her on those words and she still got three of them wrong, so we told her to write them 10 more times. Well she pitched a fit and, long story short, she was sent to her room. A few minutes later Lenny went in to talk to her, but she had barricaded her door.

Every person I have told this story to winces at this point, without fail.

At dinner I asked Angie "do you remember how you kept saying on the way home that today couldn't possibly get any worse? Well let me explain Murphy's Law to you."

And the 3rd essential life lesson? Righty tighty, lefty loosey.

I figure if you understand how Karma works, that it's a bad idea to say "Never" or otherwise tempt Murphy's Law/Fate and which way to turn a cap or screw to loosen it you at least have the basics covered.

Just a Few Random Tips #AtoZChallenge

If you frequent a movie theater that offers free refills on a large popcorn, take a bowl with you to the theater. Order your popcorn, toss it in the bowl and get your refill immediately. Perfect when you don't like butter, but your husband does! You can even pick up a cute Popcorn bowl at Party City for about $3.

Put your smartphone to work for you.

Don't have a texting plan? Use Facebook Messenger - no per text fees and it works just like texting does. Bonus: cute emoticons.

Do you blog, tweet or share stuff online? Join Amazon's Affiliate program. If people follow your links to items on Amazon and buy something, even if it's not what you linked, you can earn a percentage of what they spent. It does not cost anything for you or for the people you link to. I link to stuff on Amazon all the time, but as far as I can tell no one ever follows those links and buys anything LOL, but a girl can hope. You can find out more here:

Get yourself one of those wallets with a strap and hook your keys to it. Now you'll never leave the house (i.e. drive away) without your wallet. Bonus, if your cars beeps if you try to leave your keys in it, you'll never leave your keys and your wallet in the car!

Do you use Chrome? (You should, it's awesome). There's a Plug In you can get that will search for coupon codes when you buy things online. It's free and could save you some money. It's called Honey; search for it in your extensions or go here.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Illuminae #AtoZChallenge

One of the best audio books I have listened to is Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Normally I wouldn't expect to like a book that features sound effects, but wow did it enhance this space odyssey!

Strong characters, space (the final frontier), an AI that would give Hal a run for his money, a sprinkling of zombies and a surprising ending left me hoping for a sequel (which I just found out is coming out in October!!). If you're not an audiobook listener, check out the physical book which is filled with maps, diagrams, briefings and more. One of the few books I want to own in multiple formats.

Here's the official summary:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
      The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.
     But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
      Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
Speaking of Audio books... even if you don't have a long drive, you can still enjoy audio books. I sometimes listen to them when I clean the house and wow does the time fly by. I also sometimes listen to them while putting together a puzzle or coloring; toss in a glass of wine and you're in for one of the most relaxing evenings ever.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Hunger Games #AtoZChallenge

Have you watched the Hunger Games movies? They are very well done and most enjoyable. How about the books, have you read them? They are very, very well written.

I must admit that the third book left me a little flat. Katniss was so strong in the beginning, but by the third book she's... well she's just not the same. I struggled with how the series ended until I tripped over a blog post that put it all into perspective for me. Katniss suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. Boom... now everything makes so much more sense. In fact, I realized that the third book wasn't disappointing, it was amazing; raw, deep and spot on.

I would imagine that many people suffer from PTSD. Any major stressor that changes your life is bound to leave a scar. Sure, it might not be to the degree portrayed by Katness, or those returning from active duty, but stress always leave a mark.

Many breast cancer survivors suffer from PTSD. When you look in the mirror and expect to see yourself, but instead see a bald, eyebrowless, scarred fat woman it leaves
a mark. But things get better, eventually your hair grows back, you lose the weight, the scars fade and the face in the mirror becomes more familiar again.

So what's the point of today's post... well first, you should read the Hunger Games series, it is excellent. The movies are also fantastic; I love Jennifer Lawrence. And finally... life isn't always easy and stress, no matter how big or how small it may seem to others, leaves its mark. Be kind to yourself and to others. Never lose hope. Some day you'll love the face in the mirror again.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Great Games #AtoZChallenge

I have always loved playing games and luckily my family does too. Our current favorites are:

Monopoly Deal will feel familiar, since it's based on Monopoly. Same properties, but completely new rules. And the best part, the hands are quick - like 15 minutes! You might think you're ahead, but don't be surprised if you suddenly find yourself losing your properties and the game. Angie picked this game up very quickly when she was still 7, but it's fun for kids and adults alike. Highly recommended.

Phase 10 is a lot of fun, but will take much longer to play. You have to complete 10 different phases (hands) to win the game. You keep score after each hand, but if you're the first one to finish all of the phases, you win regardless of what your score is. The Skip cards in this game can be played against anyone, not just the person to your left, which adds to the fun. You can play two player, but the more players you have the more fun it is. Angie also picked this one up quickly at 7, and it's also not just a game for kids. Bonus, I had her keep score, which helps with her addition skills. Also highly recommended. 

What games do you and your family play? Any recommendations? We're always in the market for new games :)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Favorite Things #AtoZChallenge

These are a few of my favorite things...

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - a genre-defying novel that has been one of my favorite books for over 20 years now.

The Starz Outlander series. You can now subscribe to Starz via Amazon Prime, or on its own. MUCH cheaper than cable. They have done an amazing job with the Outlander series so far. I am so glad that no one tried to cram this amazing novel into a 2 hour movie; 15 hours is barely enough time. - I drive 2+ hours a day and audio books have changed my life. Where I used to suffer from road rage, I now enjoy my drive because it's entertaining. If I'm in the middle of a particularly good book, which is the norm, I'm almost glad when it lasts a little longer. If you travel at all, I cannot recommend audio books enough. Plus, Audible has amazing sales - Two for One, Daily Deals less than $5, somehow they're always sucking me into another, amazing series. Great service.

These two... they complete me :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Expressing Yourself, Not Always Easy #AtoZChallenge

My skis right where I wanted them...
i.e. not on me.
Last month my husband tried to kill me. I'm not sure why, but probably because I'm a huge pain in the ass.

I am not athletic. Sporty things do not come naturally to me. He, on the other hand, slapped on his skis and away he went. Oh sure, he'd had a lesson... once... when he was 14... thirty years ago now. No matter, swish swish swish and off he goes.

Me? I had to be tricked down the hill by my poor, underpaid ski instructor who was forced to ski backwards down the hill. He had to coax me along clinging for dear life to the ski poles he held out in front of him for me to grasp.

Anytime he tried to make me go on my own, I promptly lost control and threw myself to the ground.

Pathetic, I know. The moments I wasn't terrified, I was absolutely humiliated.

Good times.

When we finally got to the bottom we had to ride the ski lift back up the hill. Only slightly above my fear of stripping slippery sticks to my feet and sliding down a hill to my death is my fear of heights. I whimpered all of the way to the top of the hill and then promptly fell off the ski lift in a heap. They had to stop the lift so I could crawl away in shame.

When my poor instructor made it to the top he slapped on a happy face and said "ready to go again?" I was nice, and thanked him profusely for his time, but told him that there was absolutely no way I was ever doing that again, thank you very much.

My husband tells me I don't communicate well when I don't want to do something. Personally I thought refusing to put my skis on and bursting into tears when the instructor showed up was pretty telling, but men hate subtle.

So, one of my goals this year is to express myself better, even if it's not always easy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Don't grow up, it's a trap #AtoZChallenge

I'm still waiting to really feel like "an adult". I pay bills, I own a home, I have a car loan, I have a husband and a child, I'm 45 now and yet most of the time I still feel like I'm just totally winging it.

So what does being "an adult" really mean? Well, here's a few things I've come up with...

  • Ability to Google life's mysteries, like what to make for dinner.
  • Ability to search YouTube for assistance, like figuring out how to use software or paint a tree.
  • Willingness to take responsibility for your actions, your words and what you expect from yourself. 
  • Remaining optimistic, but not naive. 
  • Restraining pessimism. 
  • Figuring out that road rage is a waste of time and energy. You'll get there when you get there, and bonus, you'll be alive. 
  • Audiobooks help stave off road rage.
  • Karma is real.
    • (And it's going to get that jerk who cut me off...)
  • Work with, and never, ever against, Murphy's Law. 
  • Never say "never" - trust me on this one.
  • The Universe likes to make you eat your words and especially likes the taste of "never".
  • Life is not a competition or a race, it's a journey.
  • No one gets out alive, so enjoy it.
  • Happiness is a choice. Choose to be happy.
  • Put everything in perspective - will [life-shattering-event] matter in six months or five years? Perhaps, but you'll be stronger for it, even if it sucks now.
Perhaps it all boils down to not losing your wide-eyed optimism and enjoyment of life :)

Don't grow up, it's a trap!

What are your adulting tips? 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Calendars, Voice Commands and a Crappy Memory #AtoZChallenge

If you don't keep a calendar on your phone, you should; Google will do the rest with just a few pieces of information. I'm pretty sure that Siri will too, for you iPhone users.

  • In settings, tell your phone where you live and work. 
  • Add an address when you set appointments that require travel.
  • Turn on Location.
Now that you're all set up....
  • Google will go into semi-stalker mode, letting you know what's happening nearby, what the menu is at the restaurant you just walked into, what time you need to leave for your appointment so you're not late, if there's an accident on the road ahead of you and alert you of anything else of interest around you.
  • You can press and hold the home button, say "OK, Google" and tell Google what you need. Some examples:
    • What song is this?
    • When I get home, remind me to do laundry.
    • When I get to work, remind me to call Bob.
    • Text Lenny and tell him I love him.
A friendly female voice will confirm your request and boom you have a better memory (and, in my case, your husband is wondering why you just texted him when you're sitting next to him).

You can also use Voice to Text, instead of hunting and tapping. Click on any field you would type text into to open your keyboard. See that little microphone button next to the space bar? Tap it and start talking 

Now, and this is important, proofread what the phone typed for you. Trust me. I am not ducking kidding you :)

I blame chemobrain for my poor memory, but it's possible my brain has just gotten lazy. Why should it remember stuff when there's Google?

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Books to Time Travel With #AtoZChallenge

I recently started reading/listening to the Chronicles of St. Mary's by Jodi Taylor and haven't been able to stop bingeing on them since. I'm now on book six of the series and am already looking forward to the seventh, which comes out next month.

I stumbled upon the series a few years ago actually, bought the first book (very likely on sale) and never got around to listening to it. Although I listen to audiobooks for two plus hours a day, I never get caught up because Audible has so many good sales.

The Chronicles of St. Mary's is centered around a group of eccentric, accident prone historians who travel back in time to witness historical events. They never intend to get involved, but often find themselves in some sort of trouble, right in the thick of things. The main character, Max, is hilarious; she's got amazing wit, is very smart and has me laughing and slapping my steering wheel every day. I like her so much, I want to be more like her.

I also recently read Jodi Taylor's The Nothing Girl, which was also fabulous. Jenny has a stutter and very low self-confidence and at the lowest point of her life finds a friend in a golden horse only she can see... ok, I admit that's a bit odd, but somehow Ms. Taylor makes it work perfectly. Jenny's family is overprotective and intent on keeping her sheltered, but a chance meeting has her breaking away from her solitary existence and taking a chance on actually living her life. I highly recommend it.

I admit, I've been a sucker for time travel books since I was a teenager. Do you like the genre? Which one is your favorite? Mine is Outlander, but I could rattle off dozens of others too :)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Adulting #AtoZChallenge

In two short days, I will be 45... how the Hell did that happen? Surely there's a typo somewhere. Forty-five is mid-life, right? Am I required to buy a sports car and pursue men half my age? I hope not, because I have this fear of a monster truck rolling over me if I stop short in a car, so I avoid cars that are low to the ground and honestly, I'm too tired to chase anyone.

Anywho where was I? Oh yes, the annual A to Z Challenge. The one month out of the year I manage to blog every day and then May 1st hits and my Muse hits the road. 

This year's theme... Adulting, or more precisely the things I have learned that make adulting easier (or as avoidable as possible in some cases). Over the past few years I've learned that I am "Lean"; not skinny mind you, but a "lean thinker". I've also been exploring meditation, reading up on embracing my inner sloth, using technology to help me to remember... uh... well whatever I usually forget and other helpful things. 

Hopefully I can pass along a few ideas that you'll find useful. I'll also very likely toss in some audiobook reviews of some really great books that you too might enjoy (even if you choose to read them, rather than listen to them). 

If you'd like to join the challenge - it's a lot of fun - it's not too late to sign up. Join us! Visit: