Wednesday, August 16, 2017

No Totality Here

One of my Facebook friends just posted this neat site that lets you put in your zip code to see a simulation of next Monday's solar eclipse in your area.

Here's what the peak coverage should look like at my house:

We won't be in the area of complete totality, but it will still be interesting to check it out. Of course, I haven't picked up any of those eclipse glasses or even figured out the best way to 'watch' it. I'm thinking I'll definitely be checking out the shadows on the driveway through the leaves on my tree, but other than that, I don't know.

ABC News is planning to do a live special Monday afternoon, and NASA will be streaming it live with views from NASA research aircraft, high-altitude balloons, satellites and specially-modified telescopes. They'll also include live reports from Charleston, as well as from Salem, Oregon; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Beatrice, Nebraska; Jefferson City, Missouri; Carbondale, Illinois; Hopkinsville, Kentucky; and Clarksville, Tennessee.

What are your plans for viewing the eclipse?

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Health Care Made More Convenient

Doctor Looking for a physician for your health care needs can sometimes be a bit of a challenge.  However, many Houston family physicians have chosen to provide healthcare options all in one online place through Spring Medical Associates.  Many people call them their go-to website and love the convenience of having several types of doctors all in one place.  They provide a variety of convenient healthcare services via online appointments, specialists are also available as well as onsite x-rays and labs.

Healthcare in One Place - Searching for a general physician or even a healthcare specialist all over the internet can be a challenge.  To make healthcare a lot more convenient and easier to handle, many healthcare developers are combining services in one central online location to meet the demand of their patients. Spring Medical Associates is one of these places that have gotten onto this new type of healthcare bandwagon.  On websites such as this one, patients can easily search for the doctors by name, gender, specialty, and even language.  Sites such as this one allow the patient to search by languages, such as Chinese, Hindi, Telugu, and French.
Specialists Available - Specialists doctors may be another challenge for some patients to find. However, websites such as Spring Medical Associates helps patients find specific specialists all in one online site.  The website provides walk-in appointments, online appointments, and same-day appointments for specialists, such as ear-nose-and-throat specialists, interventional pain specialists, and breast specialists.  Patients can also find specialists that work in primary care or family medicine, urology, and even general surgeons.

Onsite Technology - Another challenge in healthcare is finding doctors’ offices that have onsite x-ray technology and labs.  Spring Medical Associates is one of the places where patients can make a doctor’s appointment and know that laboratories and x-rays are on site.  This can save the patient time, gas money, and energy when they are especially sick.

Getting check-ups, routine care, and maintaining health care are so much more convenient when medical associations provide a network of healthcare providers all in one online location.  

It Takes a Bit Longer

Our grandson Jason is visiting this week. He's 6 and about to go into the first grade. I'm not sure who told him he could grow up so fast, but he's certainly doing it.

Ready to go, sporting his new Spiderman
water squirter (from the cereal box)
I usually get up every morning after Jeffrey leaves for work and go walk 2 or 3 miles. With a 6-year-old here, I can't exactly do that, so I made him promise to go walking with me. Of course, that means I have to wait until he gets up in the mornings, so we're not leaving until quite a bit later than normal. (I should probably start getting him up earlier so he can start getting ready for his really early mornings once school starts, but he does have all month...) And then it takes quite a bit longer than usual to walk those 2 miles. His little legs are a bit shorter than mine, and he's always stopping to pick things up or look at flowers or trees or bugs. It's a boy thing, I guess.

Getting hot

Yesterday we walked a mile - and then we went to the playground and played for a bit afterward. Jason wants to be an American Ninja Warrior when he grows up, and those playgrounds offer all kinds of 'obstacles' for training.

On the home stretch

Then today Jason was determined to walk 2 miles, and a Ninja Warrior should be able to walk 2 miles, so I took him on my regular route. He made it! Never mind that it took an hour to do it...

And we made it!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Making Extra Money

It can be difficult to take care of a household when unexpected expenses occur. Even expected expenses can be hard to juggle. A night out at a restaurant can quickly turn into a costly outing. If you make a bit of extra money, then you will feel free to go out and enjoy yourself without feeling guilty about spending extra money. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of creativity to make a bit of extra money. Here are some suggestions to stash away some cash.

Offer Services - If you have any special skills, then you can consider using those skills to make some extra spending money. Taking care of children in your home or providing tutoring to neighborhood children can help you bring in some extra cash. You can also consider other services, such as cleaning houses, doing chores, or offering handyman services. Sometimes a hobby can turn into a lucrative gig as well. If you love to garden, then consider offering landscaping maintenance as a service. If you are a dog lover, then you may be able to take care of dogs while their owners go on vacation. 
Host a Yard Sale - Another way to earn money is to sell items that you no longer need. Clean out your closet and put together all of the items that you want to get rid of. You may be surprised to find how many items you have kept throughout the years. Selling these items can bring you more money than you might think. If your friends or neighbors have unwanted items, then you may be able to work together to have a larger sale.

Be Creative - You may feel that you do not have any skills or unwanted items, but you may just need to be more creative in your thinking. Families who have sold used wheelchair vans have been able to earn money quickly. Think about any larger items that you may have, such as unwanted furniture or vehicles, as well as smaller items. If you have any creative talents, such as creating crafts or wreaths, then you may be able to market those skills as well.

Once you have earned some extra money, then you should feel comfortable occasionally treating yourself to a special time with friends and family. Consider trying a new restaurant or visiting a local attraction. You can enjoy your outing without breaking your budget.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Top Benefits Of Using Full-Service Storage Solutions

Long gone are the days when you have to load up all of your belongings and transport them to your new home or to a storage facility yourself. These days, you have many storage options available at your disposal and one of them is storage pickup service Boston MA (the reputable company found at While there are many advantages to using storage solutions of all kinds, here are some of the top benefits of using a storage company that will pick up your stuff for you.

Moving companies Arlington VA

No Renting Trucks - It can be time consuming and expensive to have to rent a moving truck. Not many people enjoy having to load and unload the truck, and it can also be tricky to try and drive that huge truck in traffic. When you hire a storage service with pickup included, they will come to you, get your stuff, and transport it for you. There is no need to worry about renting or driving any moving trucks.

No Heavy Lifting - With storage solutions that offer pickup services, you don't have to worry about doing any heavy lifting. You have enough to deal with when you are moving or storing your belongings. Full-service storage companies will come to you, pack and load up all of your stuff, and then transport it to their storage facility until you need it again.

Return Items - When you use a traditional storage unit, you have to pack up your belongings and take them to the unit yourself. Additionally, when you want to remove your belongings, you have to go pack them up again and transport everything. When you use a full-service storage solutions company, they will not only pack and transport your belongings to the storage facility, they will also bring your stuff back to you when you are ready. There is no need to make the trip to the storage facility to pick up your stuff. The company will bring it to you wherever you need it.

Moving or trying to store your belongings doesn't have to be difficult anymore. Using full-service and on-demand storage services can take away a lot of the stress involved with moving. It couldn't be easier to get your belongings packed and stored away so that you can have extra time and energy to take care of other important things.

Leave all of the work to the professionals.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Camp Outreach

I spent last week at a summer camp. It's not your ordinary summer camp. Instead of swimming and hiking and canoeing, and whatever other activities you regularly find at a summer camp, the campers at Camp Outreach spend their days painting, cleaning up overgrown lots, replacing roofs, and all kinds of other projects in a neighborhood in downtown Indianapolis. And they love it! Some of these young people (and not so young people) have returned year after year after year.

This was my third year. The first year I helped out in the VBS for the neighborhood kids in the mornings and then worked on various projects in the afternoons. The last couple years I helped out with VBS in the mornings and then was responsible for feeding all our hard-working people dinner every night. There's a lot of planning, a lot of shopping, and a lot of work involved, but it's all worth it. And I certainly could not do it without lots of help.

If you're interested in seeing a bit about Camp and hearing from some of the young people who were involved this year, be sure to check out this video and discussion of Camp Outreach 2017.

Perhaps it's something you'd like to get involved in next year?

The Magic of the Bedtime Story

Bedtime StoriesMany of us have fond memories of childhood and the bedtime stories that often ensued once we were cozily nestled underneath the covers. The magic that happened at bedtime was often our first introduction to literacy, and one of the defining moments that fueled our interest in the world and all the adventures yet to be had.

The Magic of Routine
One of the sweetest and most satisfying aspects of bedtime was knowing that there was always an interesting and exciting story to send us off into sleepy land. Although none of us really wanted to go to bed, we were always excited about the prospect of another bedtime story adventure that would be unveiled if we submitted to the necessity of bedtime. Bedtime was never put on a pedestal, but we knew that bedtime was the only ticket to the coveted bedtime story.

The Adventure
Bedtime stories were always fun because each one had an inherent adventure and dilemma tucked neatly into the story line. Would Jack ever make it back down the beanstalk without being caught? Would Little Red be spared from the Big Bad Wolf? Would Elizabeth ever find those regulation cornhole boards she secretly borrowed from her mom? We were all on the edge of our seats waiting to hear what the outcome would be as each character battled their nemesis for survival or some other hidden or obvious treasure. These stories taught the love of the unexpected and the need to embrace courage and face problems in order to overcome them.

281/365 Bedtime StoryLove from the Storyteller
Although the storyteller was not the obvious heroine or hero of bedtime, they were, in an unspoken way. They were the bearers of the stories. We learned to appreciate them just as much as the adventures they unfolded every night. We knew that it was love that fueled their desires to enrich our lives with the stories and adventures of others, both fiction and nonfiction. We loved them for loving us enough to tell the stories in such provocative and entertaining ways. Often, these people were our very own moms and dads, or grandmas and grandpas, and the love was often twofold because they did so much more for us than tell bedtime stories.

The telling of bedtime stories has been a well-known tradition for many years. Many children have looked forward to the telling of some exciting adventure or dilemma faced by a character in a bedtime story. This ritual has often been the first taste of literacy that a child experiences, and it is often one of the tools to help encourage bravery and problem-solving.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

What is the Best Counter Material for Your Kitchen?

One of the huge pluses when we bought this house was that the kitchen had been completely redone and upgraded just a few years prior. Now, if you know me, you know that the kitchen is probably the most important room in the house. I spend a lot of time in there, and it has to be usable. Some of the other houses we looked at had kitchens that were just barely usable and would have had to be upgraded and redone as soon as possible. In one way that would have been nice because I could have had exactly the kitchen I wanted - in the end - but I certainly wasn't looking forward to the actual remodel.

Even though I didn't get to actually design my current kitchen or choose any of the colors or materials, I'm happy with it overall. And there are some really great features like the spice cabinets on either side of the cooktop. The one thing I think I would have chosen differently is the countertop. It's a nice color, and it looks nice, but I just don't like that it's glossy. When I wipe the counter, I always have to dry it too in order to keep it from looking streaky. Maybe I'm just picky...

The point of this story is that, if you are remodeling or upgrading your kitchen, be sure to research the types of counter materials that are available so that you pick the one that is best for you. Because you will be living with that countertop for a long time, and you want to love it. Don't just get a granite countertop because you think that's the thing to do.

Choosing from the wide variety of counter materials can make the decision difficult. They all can have both positive and negative features. You'll want to do more research and actually look at and touch and feel the different options, but here is a bit of information and a few of the more popular countertop materials:
  • Soapstone - The non-porous nature of soapstone makes it a desired counter product, but it is a surface that can be easily scratched. Natural soapstone is lighter in color, but the surface can be oiled, providing a slightly darker coloration. This product is impervious to staining, but has to be sanded or oiled again to maintain a like-new look. Soapstone is the perfect choice for bathroom renovations.
  • Marble - The variety of color mix with marble offers an almost guaranteed unique look to every kitchen and bathroom. The formed designs within the stone are different with every piece that is milled. Marble is considered very soft and should only be used in areas without a lot of traffic. This may not be the perfect choice if you have a number of heavy appliances on the counters.
  • Granite - Granite is one of the hardest substances used for counters. It has to be coated with a protective seal to prevent staining, since it is porous. The colors of available granite are many and there is one that will fit any decorative style you wish to create, or match.
  • Engineered Stone - Many types of engineered stone are made with crushed quartz embedded into resin. It creates a non-porous surface that is easy to clean and keep clean. There does need to be extra care taken to keep hot pots and pans off the direct surface. Use of pot holders is essential.
  • Ceramic Tile - Tiles made with ceramic are durable, come in many colors and are popular for use in bathrooms, kitchens, and for backsplash. This product is not easy to scratch and doesn't easily stain, but individual tiles can be broken when hit with enough force. The grout can be the most difficult part to keep clean.
When you're ready, you'll want to contact kitchen and bath experts San Diego or the experts in your area to get started on your kitchen remodel.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Have Patio, WILL Use It

We had out of town visitors a couple weekends ago, and we ended up spending a long lazy day just hanging out on the patio. It was so nice and has me wondering why we don't use the patio more often than we do. We've lived here almost 4 years, and we've only used the patio a handful of times. I'm thinking we definitely need to change that!

When we built our house in Wisconsin, we didn't put in a patio or deck right away. A lot of the houses in the neighborhood had concrete patios that were usually put in when the driveway was poured, but we just had some rock brought in. It wasn't the most beautiful thing, but it was usable, and we wanted to wait until we had the money to put in a paver patio. We really liked the way the patio would look, and we liked the idea that there weren't very many paver patios in the neighborhood. And yes, we know that there are many different patio designs and patio pavers, so even if every other house in the neighborhood had a patio, the odds of them all being the same were really low. Still, in a neighborhood where every house was built by the same contractor, every little bit of individuality is important.

In the end, Jeffrey and Cory built a deck and pergola on the back of the house. I can't remember the exact reason we decided on the deck instead of the patio - perhaps that it was something they could do more easily than put in the patio - but we really loved that deck! Once it was built, we ate dinner out there often. It was also a great place to enjoy my morning coffee and read. It was a wonderful addition to our living space.   And it was a great Father/Son project I doubt either one of them will forget.

Building a Rail

Here we have a nice brick patio with a brick wall all the way around and beautiful hand-made tin light fixtures on the wall. It's showing its age a bit, quite a few of the bricks are coming apart, and weeds keep trying to take over. We mixed up some salt, vinegar, and Dawn and sprayed the weeds a couple years ago, which killed them pretty well, but they're weeds and they keep coming back. One of these days we are going to have to tear out the whole patio - not because of the weeds, but because of all the bricks that keep deteriorating - and put something else in. Maybe this will be our chance for that paver patio, hopefully with a nice stone fireplace or firepit area. We may just go with the poured concrete patio so many of our old neighbors had, but have you seen what they can do with concrete these days? It can look just like a fancy paver patio. Either way, we'll probably have to have someone come in and build the patio for us. We can probably do the demolition, but I'm not so sure about the leveling and installation that comes after. It's important to get the drainage right so that we won't have water standing on the patio when it rains - and it can certainly rain around here! - or water running back to the house and sun room.

In the meantime, our patio is still very usable and very pleasant. It's nicely shaded throughout the day and the best place to enjoy our backyard. Even if I can't figure out exactly why we haven't been using it, that doesn't mean we can't do a better job of using it from now on. Jeffrey does need to use his new grill. Often.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


This was just posted by one of my favorite librarians, and I had to share.

Reading really is like magic. We look at these printed marks on a flat, white surface, and whole worlds come alive. We make lifelong friends, fall in love, and have our hearts broken time and time again. And then we dive right back in for more!

Oh - I really need to make more time to read. Why is it that real life always seems to get in the way of all stories just waiting to suck me in?