Friday, April 30, 2010

Disaster in the Gulf

Brown Pelican, originally uploaded by Vesuvianite.
The Brown Pelican, recently removed from the endangered species list, is only one of many birds found along the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico. As we speak, 5,000 gallons of oil per day are spilling into the waters and heading towards Louisianna. I had planned to visit several of the National Wildlife Refuges near Lake Charles in a few weeks. By the end of this weekend they will be a black, gooey mess.

Will the oil eventually make it's way to Texas beaches? I remember as a child all the restaurants and gift shops required customers to remove the tar from their feet before entering. After all the progress we've made cleaning the beach, are we going to see that again in our near future? What about Gulf shrimp? The fishing industry?

Words cannot express the anger and sadness I feel.



Image from Flickr.

Up until now I've been avoiding the giveaways.  I don't think there's anything wrong with hosting them, I just didn't start blogging to enter the modern version of sweepstakes, which was my first impression.  Now that I've taken a closer look, I may have changed my mind.  They are not giving away plastic swords.  I'm not receiving a genuine CZ diamond along with a special offer to have it set in a beautiful ring for the ultra low price of $499.99 if I act within the next thirty days.  They are giving away some nice merchandise.

I've been trying to teach myself to cook recently and trying out new recipes.  Nobody sells exactly half a pound of ground turkey or 6 ounces of dried cranberries.  I've been guesstimating.  I've been thinking about buying one of those kitchen scales, but didn't want to spend the money because I was debating if I really need it.  Then I stumbled upon Blueviolet's EatSmart Precision Pro Kitchen Scale Review and Giveaway.  I believe I might like to own something like that, especially if I don't have to pay for it.

I follow the if-I'm-hungry-I'm-gonna-eat-dammit diet plan so I won't be using it to count calories, but for those of you that do it looks like this scale could be of help.  Head on over to Blueviolet's to read the review, enter the contest, or purchase the scale from Amazon for $25.   

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Size Does Matter

Mossimo® Black Women's Halter Bikini Top - Purple M swimsuits.  What a difference the correct size makes!  I bought a new one last night.  Three cheers for the retailers finally selling tops and bottoms separately!!!  I'm not so proud of the way I look that I'm going to take photos and plaster them all over the internet, but I wasn't embarrassed to put it on and head back out to the pool today.  In fact, I feel pretty darn confident wearing it.  That's not me, that's a link to the same suit I bought at Target.  I've got a few more curves than she does.  

I didn't get much reading done this time because I was busy chatting with a new neighbor.  We started talking about our kids and when I said mine was 17, her jaw literally dropped.  "I thought you were 20."  That never gets old.  "You look like a college student." 

"I am a college student, but I'm not 20."

I should have said, "Let's get together and use these grills.  I've got some new recipes to test."  Oh, well.  There's always tomorrow.  I need to spend more time at the pool and meet people who are home during the day.      

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Tampax Pearl Regular Tampons with Plastic Applicator, Unscented, 20-Count Boxes (Pack of 4)
Image from Flickr.

Are any guys reading this post?  Or did the image frighten you away?  I stash any cash I have in my tampon box because I know a male burglar will never look there. Why are men so afraid of tampons?  I just saw the funniest commercial I've seen in a long time.  A girl says she forgot her bike lock will someone please run in and buy a box of one would!  Watch the video.

It reminded me of something that happened on my trip to Bossier City.  I was in the hotel gift shop looking for breath mints when a man said, "I need your help."  He was staring at the feminine hygeine products.

"She sent you for supplies and didn't tell you what to get?"

"I'm not sure which ones go in the underwear and which ones..."

"Those are the plugs."

"Oh, good.  That's what I need.  What's the difference between these and these?" he asked, referring to the green vs. yellow boxes.

"That's how absorbent they are.  If you're not sure, get green."

He thanked me and paid for my wintergreen Life Savers (they didn't have breath mints).  When I find a guy willing to buy my tampons...maybe I'll consider getting married again. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Parks, Plans, and Pencils

Grand Canyon Facts, Arizona Colours, Timeless Wonder

Image from Flickr.  Grand Canyon. 

I hate shopping for shoes or dresses. When I’m forced to go clothes shopping out of necessity the goal is to get in and get out as quickly as possible. Turn me loose in a bookstore, however, and that’s another story. I did pretty well this time – I only bought 4 of the 8 books I wanted. The others will have to wait.

National Geographic’s Complete National Parks of the United States was a little on the expensive side, but I think it was worth the price. It features “400+ parks, monuments, battlefields, historic sites, scenic trails, recreation areas, and seashores” organized by region. It doesn’t appear to have any of the national wildlife refuges but it does list wild and / or scenic rivers. I’ve been looking through it and arm-chair traveling.

I think for my road trip this summer, I will bounce around the Southwest region (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah) hitting as many of the parks as I can. I’ll drive straight to Grand Canyon first, since I want to make sure I have plenty of time to see that one, and then go wherever the road takes me. There are national monuments I’ve never heard of that contain hundreds of petroglyphs (Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico) or ancient cliff dwellings (Tonto National Monument), historic trails that follow the route of Spanish settlers from Nogales, Arizona to San Francisco, California (Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail) or travel routes first used by Native Americans (El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail), and scenic drives. I could spend a year and not see it all.

I had made reservations for the first week of July, but my daughter will be in summer school so I have to reschedule. It also looks like the Hawaii trip might work out, so I may have less time in the contiguous 48 than I had planned and the drive down PCH1 might have to wait for another year…not that I’m complaining. This is why I always use a pencil and rarely make reservations.

I spent 40!  It's cheaper on Amazon...maybe I'll take it back.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beautiful Blue Day

The images are mine, taken this afternoon.  Today was too pretty to stay inside.  I put my definitely-not-bikini-ready body in my swimsuit and went out to the pool, missing toenails and all.  One of the big toenails finally came off, but it is barely noticeable.  If someone wasn't looking very closely at my feet, they would never know.  I also saw that the other women were twice my size and didn't feel self-conscious any more.  I sat poolside reading my book and relaxing.  Someone was grilling and the smell made me hungry.

My apartment complex doesn't allow cooking on patios, but they provide these areas with grills and tables for residents enjoyment.  I just bought a recipe book specifically for outdoor cooking in anticipation of my road trip.  I should start testing recipes.  These picnic areas are just a few steps from the pool enclosure, so I can  easily take a break from my novel to check on my meal.      

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bic Your Lid

Image from Flickr.
John Travolta Bald, originally uploaded by joe103169.
Guys stress way too much over losing their hair.

Recognize this man? Holy,'s John Travolta! Is it just me, or does this look work for him? Big improvement over the Welcome Back Kotter days...

I cannot stand a guy with a combover and am not fond of the doughnut encircling the crown. Guys, you look much better if you just accept that you're bald and go with it. Stop trying to hold onto those last few strands. I can't be the only one who thinks bald is hot.

My Wyoming crush bics his lid. I wish I could post his pic here, but he's not a public figure and I don't have his permission.

Nope.  I haven't seen the movie yet.  I want to now.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lights Out

Vector 3LED Recharge Night Light (VEC186) at CompactAppliance.Com

I decided to cook dinner early today, which is good because the lights went out and stayed out for a couple of hours.  My daughter came out of her room, upset, and asked if I paid the bill because it's not even raining.  Yes, I paid the light bill.  She can't get on the internet or watch TV without power.  What is she going to do?  I suggest reading a book and she looks at me as if I've suggested that she could clean her room (another valid option). 

She decided to do her nails.  Not just paint her nails, but put tips on.  She pulls out the glues, acrylics, and several other aromatic (not pleasantly) potions.  Without the A/C running and providing ventilation, it's not long before the entire apartment reeks of acetone.  I can't take it any more and make her put it away.  What is she going to do now?  She told me she hoped there isn't a hurricane this year because it's only been an hour and it sucks already.

Other than it being a little hot, I don't remember having such a hard time entertaining myself without electricity when I was a kid.  We played with a deck of paper cards...or ivory dominoes.  Yes, it is fun to play poker at the same table as Sven in Sweden and Nga in Asia, but I still like to play with friends that are physically in the same room. 

Where I live, we have to be prepared for power outages all the time.  The image is of my favorite emergency lighting.  I have two of them and want to buy more.  During Ike, we placed them in the bathrooms.  If you unplug them while they are not in use, they'll last for days if not weeks.  One of the teenagers took it in his room and ran the battery down - during daylight hours.  It lasted at least 8 hours of continuous use.

Now I keep it plugged in an outlet in the kitchen.  The batteries automatically recharge without overcharging, so you can leave it plugged in all the time.  The light comes on automatically when the power fails and provides enough light for the entire kitchen and living room area to move around without crashing into the furniture.  I don't have to stumble around searching for the flashlight or trying to light a candle which I'm afraid to leave burning with the cats around, anyway.

I had to do a Google search to find the exact model I have.  I've never shopped at that particular site.  I'm sure you can find them or something similar at Target or Wal-Mart.  I found some similar items on Amazon.  I linked to the ones with the best reviews.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

Image from Flickr.
Going Green Y'all, originally uploaded by nbklx17 (Sandy) I'll Be Back - I Promise!.

"We did not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We are borrowing it from our children." - Native American proverb.

I love these bags from HEB. Not only am I doing my part to make the earth green, but I'm making things easier for myself. They hold a lot of groceries and are much easier to carry than those little plastic bags. I've never needed more than 4 or 5 even when I bought $150 dollars worth of groceries. That makes a difference when you have to carry everything up three flights of stairs to your apartment.

They're great for more than just groceries, too. I use them when I'm traveling to hold any odds and ends that don't fit in my hold dirty clothes when the beach or the pool...picnic supplies to the park...any time I have to take something to a friend's only 99 cents they are the perfect little tote for just about anything.

Have you made any changes to do your part? Every little bit helps.


It means don't litter, for those unfamiliar...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Make it Stop!

Image from Flickr.
Very rare Green 332 Bakelite Telephone, originally uploaded by Old Telephones.

It never fails...I get absorbed in a good book...comfy and cozy on the couch...RING! RING! RING! It startles me every time. It might be different if it was someone I actually wanted to talk to. These days it's a bill collector who can't remember Stephanie does not live here, someone trying to sell me a timeshare, or an ex. Everyone I want to talk to has my cell phone number and more than half the time I don't answer that, either. I'd rather speak in person. I don't even call my Wyoming crush. That's makes me a bit odd, I know.

Why do I even have a home phone? The only reason I can think of is to give the number to people I don't want to talk to so they can leave a message. Like my ex. My divorce papers state I must provide my phone number, but they don't state I have to answer the phone. He likes to call at dinnertime. If you interrupt my dinner, there'd better be some blood or something on fire.

It's been ringing all day! That's it! The ringer is off. I'll check messages and return calls...maybe...

Aaah...nice and peaceful. Now I just need a glass of wine and a bubblebath.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oh My Blog

Thanks Blaize!

This reminds me that I received a couple of other rewards just before my break when I was so stressed.  I will go back and find them soon.  I promise.  

Here are the procedures;

1. Get really excited that you got the coolest award EVER!

2. Choose ONE of the following options of accepting the OMB award:

(a) Get really drunk and blog for 15 minutes straight, or for as long as you can focus.

(b) Write about your most embarrassing moment.

(c) Write a "Soundtrack of your childhood" post.

(d) Make your next blog a 'vlog'/video blog. Basically, you're talking to the camera about whatever.

(e) Take a picture of yourself first thing in the morning, before you do anything else (hair, makeup, etc) and post it.

3. Pass the award on to at least three, but preferably more, awesome bloggers as yourself. Don't forget to tell them.

I'll choose option (b).  I don't know if it's the most embarrassing moment ever, but it ranks way up there.  I can't think of a more awful date moment.

Just before my asthma attack after Hurricane Ike, I had started talking to a guy online.  I kept putting off meeting him because I was having so much trouble just breathing.  I didn't want to tell him what was going on but eventually I had to say, "I'm not contagious, but I can't get through an entire sentence without stopping to take a breath and I'm coughing uncontrollably."  He said he'd like to meet me anyway.  Not knowing how much longer it would be until we finally got my asthma under control, I relented and agreed to meet for dinner.

My cough was not caused by a tickle in my throat that could be appeased with a drink of water or a cough drop.  It came from my bronchiole spasms deep in my lungs that could not be supressed or predicted.  I was seized by a coughing fit at the worst possible minute and spit a mouthful of food all over the table.  I took my napkin, cleaned it up the best I could and informed him, "You didn't see that."

To his credit, he didn't act disgusted.  He continued the conversation as if nothing happened.  There was no second date.

Now to pass it on.  Please know if I tag you, it means I enjoy reading your blog and want to tell everyone to visit.  You are not obligated to post it.

Vince, who always leaves great comments.
Rebecca S., one of my earliest blog friends.
Rachel Cotterill, an interesting Brit.

Go visit their blogs and say hello. 

Monday, April 19, 2010


Lava Flow, Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Photo from Flickr.  Volcanoes National Park.  Click to view original post and more images from

It looks like my Hawaii connection might fall through.  I can't go until July and I think he wanted me to go sooner.  He doesn't know what his circumstances will be in July.  *Sob*

Since when have I needed a man to take me to Hawaii...or Vegas...or anywhere?  I was planning to visit national parks this summer...Hawaii does have at least one...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Houston International Festival

Crowd watching Joe Ely at iFest (Houston's International Festival).  After I took this picture I saw some professional photographers go to the same spot and do the same.  Friggin' copycats!

In exchange for promoting Bayou City Outdoors for two hours, I got free entry into the International Festival yesterday.  BCO had a booth where we handed out coupons for one month free membership, passed out calendars, and told people how much fun we were having kayaking, backpacking, etc.  It was an easy job.  Everyone seemed to be interested in the kayaking.    

The Texas Parks and Wildlife special on outdoor clubs is up on Youtube.  They didn't use any pictures of me.  :(  Most is footage from the Big Bend trip.  Hill Country Outdoors is one of our sister clubs and I have full access to their calendar, as well as clubs in Denver, San Diego, and a couple of others.  I have done a few things with the Meetup groups they mentioned, but I have had more fun and made more friends with BCO.     

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hawaii's Calling Me

Hawaiian Hula Dancer

Photo from Flickr.  Click to view original post and more of the Andy-Beal's photostream.

After I got home from my walk yesterday, I found another email from my Wyoming crush.  He's going to Hawaii for a year to clear his head.  I'm jealous.  He said if I traveled that far, I had a place to stay.  Did he just invite me to Hawaii?  I think he did.  I could easily add a week (or two...) in the islands to my trip this summer.  I would absolutely love if this turned into more than friendship, but even if it never does...I have a friend in Hawaii who said I have a place to stay!!!!  Is it too early to start packing now?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Swimsuit Season

Are you ready?  I'm not.  That picture was taken July 4 of last year in Florida.  I don't think I want anyone taking my photo in a swimsuit today.  I have a half marathon in June and I'm nowhere near ready for it, either. I haven't done much exercise since I hurt my knee in February. Time to get moving.  I need to start small to avoid re-injury, so it will be a 3-mile walk this evening.  I'll test my knee to see if it can handle running next week.    

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Time

Image from Flickr.  Time for Taxes - Clock, originally uploaded by iQoncept.

I completed my tax return months ago but didn't file until today. Why? Because Uncle Sam doesn't get my money one minute before I have to send it, that's why. It sat in my savings account earning the few extra pennies to which I'm entitled.

I'm sick over the amount I paid this year. I had to pay a penalty for cashing out my 401K before I'm old enough to retire. I have to get my degree or it won't be worth the sacrifice.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Image from Flickr.  Inbox, originally uploaded by Jeetster.

11, 601 emails in my Inbox. Some are SPAM. Some are from friends. A few are updates on items I've ordered online. Most are from blogs. I always click to have new comments sent to my email. I like to see when people reply to my comments and I don't want to miss any comments people leave on my blog.

Sometimes I stalk your comments. I follow the link to the commenter's own blog and leave a few of my own. I could spend hours doing this. Half the fun of blogging is reading and commenting on everyone else's posts. Sometimes they return the visit or even become a new follower. Am I the only one who gets excited every time that number increases by one or two? I probably found 90% of my followers this way (or helped them find me).

So, I've been spending some time today trying to clean up my inbox. The problem is, every time that I leave a comment and click that subscribe box, I generate more emails. Now I've got 11, 650 emails in my inbox. Maybe it's time to set up a separate account for blogging...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mountain House Oven

By the campfire on the Lone Star Hiking Trail.  I'm on the left in the purple jacket, eating my Mountain House beef stroganoff.  I bought a titanium spork and forgot to pack it, so the lady in blue was kind enough to loan me one.   

This is my first product review.  I was planning to write about my trip and all the new equipment I tried anyway.  I figured I'd add the Amazon links and if anyone uses them to shop and I get a few dollars, I won't be upset.  I haven't figured out how to put the links where I want them.  Maybe I'll just leave them at the bottom where they can be easily ignored by those that don't appreciate ads.  I've heard of bloggers receiving free products but I have yet to be approached by anyone to do this.  I researched and bought everything myself.  There are more product reviews on Amazon.  I usually research there whether I buy from them or not because Amazon buyers are not afraid to post bad reviews.  They are brutally honest.

I tested the oven a few days before my trip.  It's not an actual oven, but a reusable bag that cooks your meal by heating the water via a chemical reaction with salt water.  First, place the heat activation pad in the bottom of the bag.  Second, add water to the supplied water bottle to the fill line, add a salt tablet, and shake until dissolved.  Then place the meal, to which you will have already added 2 cups of water, inside the bag, seal, and wait 20 minutes.  The bottom of the bag gets very warm, but not hot enough to start a fire.  There are vent holes near the top which emit a lot of steam.  It's probably a good idea to not let children or pets near while it's cooking because steam burns are possible.  A fellow hiker also pointed out that since the heat is activated by salt water, and our bodies contain salt water...KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN.  Especially the ones who still put everything in their mouths.

The meal itself wasn't very exciting when I ate it at home.  It's advertised as an emergency food supply, but I think you'd be better off buying a propane camp stove and preparing tastier meals.  After a strenuous 10-mile hike, however, the beef stroganoff was wonderful.  I couldn't have been happier if you'd served me steak and lobster.  This will be my food of choice for backpacking trips because it's easy to prepare, the stove and the food weigh next to nothing, you don't need to bring any pots or dishes since you eat it right out of the bag (just a spoon), and the meals are delicious (on the trail).  At five uses per $10 (approx) bag, it's an economical choice as well.  

If you are a coffee drinker, I don't know how you'd prepare your coffee using this.  The bag is not designed to cook anything other than Mountain House meals.  The others I have seen will not fit.       


Monday, April 12, 2010


...of the camper variety...

Paul'sTeardrop Camping Trailer Hillsboro, NM

I want one!  They have sleeping space with a few storage cabinets inside, and the back opens up to a pantry / kitchen area.  They are small and light enough to be towed by small cars and large motorcycles.  They can be pushed by hand into an RV spot for those of us that are not so good at backing in. 

 Teardrop Trailer

Photos are from Flickr.  Click on the picture to see the original post and more photos of teardrops.

This guy built his own.  There are instructions available on the web.  I wish I was talented enough to build one of my own.  Or knew someone who could help me build one that wouldn't fall apart the first time I hit a pothole or a speedbump. The ones for sale at RV dealerships cost at least $5000.  That's not in the budget.     

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Black and White

Photo from FLICKR.  The Bride Wore Black, originally uploaded by Olivier Jules.
My daughter was invited to a wedding with her boyfriend this weekend - in Austin. I was tempted not to let her go. If a guy takes a date to a wedding, doesn't that generally mean he's pretty committed? I'm not sure I want my daughter to be in such a serious relationship at the age of 17.

I don't want to deny her the experience of dating and falling in love, though. I don't think my parents did me any favors by making me stay at home. I was rarely allowed to attend parties or go out with friends, much less date. Would I have been better able to recognize toxic relationships and end them quickly if they hadn't been so strict? I ended up letting her go even though it was an overnight trip.

She needed to go and buy a dress since she doesn't have one suitable for a wedding. I told her not to buy black or white because black is for funerals and white is for the bride. Apparently, this advice is old-fashioned and out of date. Several people told her that was no longer true and a few had never even heard of that rule. Would any of you wear black or white to a wedding?

She settled on a lovely little black dress not too trampy and not too modest. I wish she would come on a cruise with me or someplace else where we could both have fun dressing nice. How did I end up with such a beautiful daughter? I don't remember ever being that pretty.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Blast from the Past

This one is mine.  I took it in Yellowstone last year.

Remember my Wyoming crush?  He apparently remembers me.  I just got a message from him.  He's newly single, but he's still 1000 miles away.  *sigh*  Oh, well.  We can be friends.  Maybe I'll see him again if I decide to add Yellowstone to my road trip this summer.  My heart did skip a beat when I saw his name. Am I capable of not getting too attached?