Saturday, January 31, 2009

Camera Critters (#43)


I was going through some old pictures and found this one of Tillie.  Beth is holding her little kitty paws.  I’m not sure what Tillie is looking at, but I thought it was cute and would make a good Camera Critters post.

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in.  There are all kinds of great critters to see!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 2


For more info on this fun meme, click the image.

I’m not going to have much time to visit everyone today, but I will try to get around tonight. For today, I am going shopping with Beth. I can’t believe I said yes – I don’t really like shopping, and Fridays are usually really busy, but she called from work yesterday and asked me if I wanted to go shopping, and since we don’t get to see each other or do anything together very often, I said yes.

And then this morning, I spent too much time trying to figure out how to get pictures off my cell phone to my computer via Bluetooth – instead of just popping the card out or connecting the phone with the cable. So, now I really need to get ready! Where does the time go? The good news is that I figured it out, and I can send pictures to my computer from my phone. How cool is that?

Here’s one of those pictures from my phone. I took this from the car when Jeffrey and I were coming home Sunday.

And another one for good measure:

If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Win a GelPro Floor Mat

I'm trying to catch up with some blog reading, and I found this giveaway on My Wooden Spoon. Lori is giving away a GelPro floor mat. I'd love to have one of these. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and this would be a lot more comfortable than my cheap kitchen rugs. It says so right here.

My favorite color and style is the Cordoba in Chestnut. Visit My Wooden Spoon to find out how you can enter to win a GelPro floor mat.

Show Your Student ID

Is saving money as simple as showing your student ID? With ISIC (the International Student Identity Card) it looks like it is. With this card, students can get discounts at more than 33,000 locations in 103 countries. There are discounts on travel and hotels, food, entertainment, and online shopping.

I searched through the discounts to get an idea of the savings. Here are a few that stood out:
  • Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 for 91% off
  • 5% off everything at
  • 10% off at
  • $15 of flowers and gifts at
  • 15% off plus free shipping at
  • Free and legal music at
  • 15% off the lowest available fare on AMTRAK
  • A special $13 menu at Hard Rock Cafe
  • The card also comes with travel insurance
There are many, many more. For $22, students can carry this card and have access to all these savings for an entire year. The way I usually figure it on these kinds of things is that you take the cost, then each time you use a discount, you subtract that amount from your cost. When you get to $0, your card will have paid for itself and all additional savings are a bonus. Since many of these discounts are on things students will be spending money on anyway, like textbooks, travel home, and stuff for the dorm, the savings will probably add up pretty quickly.

There are also cards available for youths under 26 who are not students, and for teachers and faculty.

Why Total?

Do you know those commercials for Total cereal? The ones where they compare how many bowls of other cereals you would need to get the vitamins and minerals in one bowl of Total? I always thought they were dumb. After all, you don't need to get all your nutrients for the day in one meal, right?

But now I've figured it out - they make Total for people like Beth! She usually eats breakfast, but there's no guarantee that she'll eat the rest of the day or, if she does, what she'll eat.

Good thing she likes Total.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Read Faster

While posting my book list and looking up reading statistics, I came across an interesting blog about speed reading - The whole blog looks interesting, but what particularly caught my eye was a post about how to read faster on the computer screen. There's a Firefox plug-in you can download and use to read faster. Maybe it will help me keep up with all the blogs I want to read. And then I'll have more time to read more books?

I was getting ready to download it, when I realized I'm on the basement computer, and I really want it on my laptop because that's the computer I use 90% of the time. So, I'm mentioning it here - in case it's something you'd like to check out, and so I won't forget to get it when I get back upstairs.

2008 Book List

I've been reading all my life - well, since I was 5 or so - but last year was the first time I thought to keep a list of all the books I read. I used the weRead app on Facebook to keep track of them, adding them when I started reading and then marking them as read when I finished. So, this list is sort of in order. It's in the order I added the books and started reading them, but I didn't necessarily finish them in that order. I tend to have at least a couple books going at once, and some of them were audio books I listened to when I walked.

The 2008 list:
  1. Queste (Septimus Heap, Book 4) by Angie Sage
  2. Eye of the Beholder by David Ellis
  3. Paper Towns by John Green
  4. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  5. Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat
  6. The Dark Is Rising Sequence, Book One: Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
  7. Creaton in Death by J.D. Robb
  8. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  9. Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner
  10. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
  11. Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon
  12. Strangers in Death by J.D. Robb
  13. The Arrival by Shaun Tan
  14. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  15. Split Second by David Baldacci
  16. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
  17. Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum Novels) by Janet Evanovich
  18. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
  19. Fame: 1 (Firstborn) by Karen Kingsbury
  20. Lilies That Fester (Bretta Solomon Gardening Mysteries) by Janis Harrison
  21. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
  22. Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides
  23. Redemption by Lee Jackson
  24. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  25. Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson
  26. Blindness by Jose Saramago
  27. Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam W. Shepard
I thought about linking all of them to Amazon books so you could easily click and find out more about any books that interest you, but that was going to take more time than I wanted to spend. It's pretty easy to search Amazon, anyway.

Looking at the list, I feel like I should have read more. That might be because I have friends whose book lists are a lot longer. However, when I read that 1 in 4 U.S. adults read no books last year and 80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year, I don't feel so bad. I feel bad for them - how in the world can anyone can survive without reading?

I'm already working on the 2009 book list, again keeping track of it on Facebook. They've added a new feature that lets me add tags to my books, so I'm tagging books with the month when I finish them. That will help me keep track of them even better. If you have any book suggestions for my list, you can leave me a comment or 'chuck' them at me on Facebook.

Why Dad Had to Look

Beth printed her taxes out so her dad could look them over. Remember the whole dependent thing? We discussed it. I told her she had to check the box that said someone else could claim her as a dependent. She checked the box, and it came out the same.

Well, the reason it came out the same was that it didn't register that she had checked that box. Jeffrey looked the taxes over and noticed that it wasn't checked. So, she went on and changed it, and now she's not very happy. I'm not sure what the bottom line is, but she's getting quite a bit less back now.

Now she wants to know how much we're going to get for claiming her. No, young lady, that money does not belong to you!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Don't Know What to Say

our good friend, misty.Image by riot jane via FlickrI wanted to post something here, and say something important - but I can't think of anything.

I grabbed the photo of the dog from Zemanta (are you using it yet?) because the caption said, "our good friend, misty." I rather would have expected Misty to be a Border Collie, but at least we now have proof that she is a dog - or will be in her next life, or something like that.

It's about bedtime - another excuse for using the dog photo. Maybe that's why my brain can't come up with anything. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to give you some info you can use, like information about acne treatments or the best lotion for winter dry skin or even a great idea for getting organized.

And then again, maybe not.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Heads or Tails - Loud

This week's theme/prompt is:
HEADS – Loud

As soon as I read the prompt, this song started running through my head, and I just couldn't get it out. So I'm sharing the video, and you can have it in your head, too.

I love that the video is from Dancing with the Stars. I really enjoy that show - the hard work, the dancing, and how the judges get loud sometimes, too.

Heads or Tails is a fun weekly meme hosted by Skittles! Do go check out some other LOUD posts.

For Love and For Horses

The local radio station I listen to in the mornings has an online dating club, and one of their commercials was on the radio this morning. The young lady was explaining how hard it is to meet people, and the kind of men you might meet in a bar aren't necessarily the kind you'd choose for a long-term relationship. Not in so many words, but you know what I mean. It makes me so very thankful that I met my special someone when I was 12 - even though I didn't know or admit he was all that special until a bit later.

Luckily, there are more tools and resources available now to help singles meet. One I found out about today is called equestrian cupid. It's especially for horse-loving singles. If horses are your passion, it's a good place to meet others who share your interests. Find new horse riding buddies, find new trails and riding areas, and maybe find someone to share your love of horses and your life. Judging from the success stories, this site has helped quite a few people. It makes a lot more sense than walking into a bar and hoping you will have something in common with someone there.

Equestrian Cupid has online chat, equestrian forums, blogs, and equestrian news. They offer FREE sign-up, and it's totally free to place lifetime ads and contact hundreds of thousands of members. We have a lot of horses and trails around here. It wouldn't surprise me if several people from around here are already members.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rebates & Movies

Jeffrey and I went and bought TurboTax today, along with a bunch of other software that will be free after rebate. I have a hard time resisting free stuff. Have you noticed? We got several different Internet security titles, a PDF converter, PrintShop 23, and some other stuff. I will have to spend a bit of time reading over rebates and making sure everything adds up, and then putting stuff together to mail, but it's all worth it in the end, right?

It will have to wait until at least tomorrow, though. Right now we're watching Ocean's Thirteen. We talked about going to a movie since we were out, but decided to come home and watch some I got from the library instead. We could have watched them on the big screen, so it would sort of been like going to a movie. I could even have made some popcorn, but instead we're just watching on the television - the one on the tv stand in the living room. It's probably too cold to go down in the basement anyway. That's our story, and we're stickin' to it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Camera Critters (#42)


Here she is again – out resident critter, Tillie.  She loves her grocery sack.  It’s a place to hide, a place to sleep, a place to play.  It’s an all-purpose cat possession.  No self respecting cat should be without one.

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in.  There are all kinds of great critters to see!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 1


This is my first post for Looking at the Sky on Friday.  Click the image to join.

This is the view through the sliding glass door in my dining room.  Yes, Misty actually goes outside to take her sky pics.  I just shoot from inside.  Hey – it’s cold out there!  Still, nice view, don’t you think?

Now, I really need to go through all my pictures – organize them, delete the blurry ones before I have to buy computer memory to keep them all, and get them backed up to CD or DVD.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's Friday

Notice anything missing? Yeah, I haven't posted a Sky Watch Friday photo in a couple weeks. I'm still takings photos of the sky, because I just can't help myself, but I had some computer problems. Then, when I got those fixed, my computer wouldn't read the SD cards from my camera. Panic! If I can't get the pictures off those cards, they're gone. Forever. Luckily, Cory's computer could read them, and he put them all on the hard drive downstairs. Now I can get to my sky pictures - and all the other ones too.

Still, I think I'm going to turn in my Sky Watch Friday membership card. Before you get too worried that you'll never see another sky picture from me - you were worried, right? - let me reassure you that I'll still be posting them. I just decided to join a different meme, one I found out about on Misty's blogs, My Dogs Keep Me Sane and Misty's Words. No one ever complained, and I honestly didn't pay attention, after all, I've been posting Sky Watch Fridays for months, but apparently SWF has rules. They don't want blogs with paid posts or links to participate. I fail to understand how it matters - unless we're putting those paid links in the Sky Watch posts, but I guess it does. So, I'm quitting before someone yells at me. Luckily there's a new meme for those of us who are addicted to taking sky photos and still want to make some money with our blogs.

Next post: Looking at the Sky on Friday

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I'm Flipping

Have you tried these Keebler Flipsides crackers? (Click on the TownHouse crackers) I bought a box a while back but hadn't opened it yet. Cory discovered the box and wanted to try them today. But first he wanted to take a shower, so he left the box with me, so I could try them first.

I did. I love them! They're so crispy and yummy. I really need Cory to come back and take this box away from me.

Tax Return Time

Beth got her W-2 from work yesterday, so she used the free form at TurboTax to see how much she'll get back. She wasn't sure it was right, though, because it says she'll get back more than she paid in taxes. So, not that I know much about taxes, I went over it with her.

She filled in all the info properly, except that she indicated that no one else was claiming her as a dependent on their tax return. You know the question - did your parents provide for more than half of your support? Since she pays for her own clothes, beauty supplies, and gas, she was sure that she had paid for more than half, and we shouldn't claim her as a dependent. I had to remind her that we pay for the roof over her head, her auto insurance (since she has maintained her B average), food, utilities, etc. She's nowhere close to paying more than half the cost of living her life.

It didn't make a difference, though. She should get all the taxes she paid in back, as well as an additional $300 because she missed out on the stimulus refund last year. At least, as far as we can tell. She was ready to go ahead and e-file her return - TurboTax not only lets you prepare your easy tax return, e-file is free too - but I told her I thought she should wait and have her dad go over it with her, just because he's the one who's been doing the taxes, and he might see something we missed. Now that she's seen the money she can claim, she's ready to do it as soon as possible. Can't really blame her...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Last Day

This is Beth's last day of high school. She's got one exam and has to get some teachers and administrators to sign her check-out sheet, and then she's all done.

How is that possible? How can I have a daughter who's out of high school? What do you buy for a graduation present? Do you think she'd like replica watches or a new pair of shoes? Luckily I have a few months to figure that out. She may be finished with classes and exams, but she's not actually graduating until June, with her class. In the meantime, she's just out of school.

I hope she remembers to pay the money she owes on the lunch account.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Heads or Tails - Feet

This week's theme/prompt is:
HEADS *or* TAILS – Feet *or* Feat

The first thing that came to mind was this picture I took a few years ago.  My mom was reading to my niece:

This was taken several years ago, so you know what that means – my niece’s feet are a bit bigger now!


Heads or Tails is a fun weekly meme hosted by Skittles!

Exam Schedule

The kids went back to school today. Even though they missed two days of school last week, exams are still scheduled as originally planned. I'm not sure what Beth's schedule is, but Cory has two exams tomorrow - well, one is just a 'culminating activity' in Phy. Ed. Then he has two on Wednesday, and he's out of school for the rest of the week. Another four day weekend!

Whatever Beth's exam schedule is, she's finished with high school when she finishes her exams. Can you believe that? She's working all the rest of the week 2-10pm, and then next week she can work even more. She says she's scheduled 35 hours next week.

I just realized this short week means I need to send the next payment for the New York trip with Cory either tomorrow or Wednesday. The good news is, Cory's portion is covered with trip points this time, and I now have some nice luggage to use for the trip. It was on sale at Kohl's, and Jeffrey had a 20% coupon on top of that - so he got a nice set of luggage for under $60 today, 3 rolling suitcases, a tote, and a toiletrie bag. It may not be the best quality, but for the amount of travel we do, it will be fine. And it's certainly better than the old suitcases we've had for years. At least these won't fall over when we roll them! Suitcases are designed so much better nowadays.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Camera Critters (#41)


Just a quick picture of our ‘trained’ cat.  If she’s kind of running away, half the time I can just say “fall down” or “fall over” – and Tillie will plop down, all ready for her belly to be rubbed.  Of course, it only works if she’s really just playing hard to get and wants her belly rubbed.

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

No School Again Tomorrow

It's supposed to be even colder tonight than it was last night. They're talking air temperature down to -20° - even colder with the windchill. I guess that means the kids get to sleep in again tomorrow. I even stayed in bed this morning, until about 8am. I didn't see any vertical teenagers until noon or so...

It will be interesting to see how or if they change things next week. They've got finals scheduled for the end of the week, but missing a couple days of school has interfered with reviews and such. Cory has some of his review assignments at home so he can work on them, and he's got his art project here to finish, but some other things are still at school. So, I wonder if they'll adjust things a little?

Beth is home. She had to go to work this afternoon and work 'till close.

Get the Best Body Work

Until last year we had never bought a new car. They were all new to us, but they were always used cars. Then last year, Jeffrey bought his brand new from the dealer Honda. Since that time he has gotten into an accident when somebody pulled out in front of him, and had to have the car fixed. Then, he had a tree branch fall and dent the trunk, and had to have that fixed. His fog light broke, and he had to have that fixed. And now there's something on the back end of the car where someone ran into him in a parking lot or it just cracked when he went over a bump because it is so dang cold out. He has no idea, just that there's something else that will probably need fixed. We never had such issues with the used vehicles! Or maybe with the used vehicles we were more likely to overlook a little dent in the trunk or something like that.

I wonder if there's a listing of repair shops here in Wisconsin like this one of auto body shops california. Only the best of the best collision repair experts are listed there. All members of the network are committed to providing quality work and excellent customer service. You can even read customer reviews of the different shops. So, you'll know you're getting the best service possible when you take your car to one of them.

I'd rather not have to take it in in the first place, but if it's going to be fixed, I'd like it to be fixed right the first time, wouldn't you? Enter your zip code to find a shop near you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm a Little Jealous

...of my other blog.

This blog's RealRank hovers around the 2000 mark- sometimes as low as 1300 or so, and sometimes up to 2400. Imagine my surprise when I visited my other blog (one of them) yesterday to see a RealRank below 1000. Today it's 659.

I mean, I like that blog, and I post interesting things there - interesting to me, anyway. But I don't post nearly as often over there, and I definitely haven't promoted it much. I don't even have an Entrecard for that blog, though I've been meaning to get one. So, what gives?

The best I can tell is that I wrote a post about free blog backgrounds, and there are a lot of people searching for free blog backgrounds, or cute blog backgrounds, or free blog designs - and, starting last Wednesday, they've all been finding their way to my blog. A few of them were coming before, but suddenly there are a whole bunch more. I have no clue what changed.

I had someone visit today who searched for 'bird sounds to drive cats crazy' - good thing I had an answer for that, too!

No School Tomorrow

The cold air is moving in - wind chills supposed to be way below zero from tonight until noon on Friday. There are already over 300 closings and delays reported, and our school is one of them. I'm sure the kids will be happy. They won't have to get up in the morning. I think, for once, I'm going to stay warm and comfy in bed, too - at least for a while. It will definitely be too cold to go walking. Sure, I wear layers and bundle up, but still that's a little cold. If I didn't wear glasses, I might be able to go out in colder weather.

The problem with glasses, you ask? You can't cover up your face to keep it warm. I can cover my mouth, but as soon as I cover my nose too, my glasses fog up and I can't see. If I need to blow my nose, and I start breathing through my mouth, then my glasses fog up. It's kind of hard to walk if I can't see.

So, no school and no walking tomorrow.

How Secure is Your Home?

Living in a small town, we don't usually think about home security beyond locking the doors when we leave home and when we go to bed. Sometimes we even forget to do that - not often, but sometimes.

Until today I thought home security was strictly to protect your home and valuables from break ins and theft. Since we don't really worry about that, I never seriously thought about getting a home security system. However, today I was reading the ADT web site and read about a home fire survivor who would be dead if he hadn't had home security monitoring from ADT. Before the smoke alarm even went off, the heat sensor sent a signal to ADT, and they notified the fire department. Because of the quick response, the fire department was able to get there in time to save him. I can see this service would really help if you're not at home, too. Should a fire break out, the fire department would definitely get there sooner than if a neighbor or passerby had to notice and report the fire.

We may feel pretty secure from thefts and break ins here, but fire can happen anywhere. I'm starting to think that home security monitoring isn't just for the big city folks. What do you think?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Heads or Tails - Bottle

This week's theme/prompt is:
HEADS - Bottle

This one was easy. You see, Jeffrey has this collection of bottles. I probably should have taken some new pictures, because he built a set of shelves to display them so they sit there and look pretty all the time. Still, you get the idea:

He does have a couple bottles that he actually opens and drinks from, too - but not these ones. These are all still sealed. He keeps telling me that someday they'll be worth something. He can sell the bottles on eBay and get a lot more money than he paid for them. Somehow, I doubt he'll ever want to part with any of them.

Heads or Tails is a fun weekly meme hosted by Skittles!

You Could Carry the Olympic Torch

I was in college in Pasadena, California when the Olympics came to Los Angeles in 1984. One day, quite by accident, me and a few of my friends happened to be on the street when the Olympic torch went by. It was quite exciting just watching the runner carry the torch down the street, vicariously being a part of something important. Imagine actually being that runner.

Now, thanks to SOGO Active, when the Olympics come to Vancouver in 2010, over 1,000 Canadian teenagers will have the opportunity to be an Olympic torchbearer. They don't have to be outstanding athletes, they just have to become an active member of the SOGO Active community and demonstrate a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. SOGO Active makes it easy, too. Registration is free, and it's open to 13-19 years old. Using SOGO, Canadian teenagers can plan activities with their friends, find activities in their communities, and track their progress.

I love the idea of this. If young people get in the habit of leading active lives, hopefully that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. SOGO understands that people, probably especially teenagers, are more likely to do something if someone else is doing it too, or if someone is counting on them to be there. Back when I started walking every morning with my neighbors, it certainly worked for us. There were mornings every one of us wanted to just go back to sleep, but we knew the others were waiting for us, so we got up, and we walked. We were also a lot more low tech. We turned on our outside lights so the others could see we were up.

So, if you're a Canadian teenager, do yourself a favor. Register at SOGO Active. Get off the couch and do something. Instead of just watching that Olympic torch go by, you could be carrying it. How cool is that? You'll earn entries according to how active you are, and torchbearers are being chosen every month now. So the sooner you get active, the better your chances are. And you'll be having fun and feel better, too.

This program is a Coca-Cola initiative, executed by ParticipACTION.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Camera Critters (#40)


I brought a basket full of laundry upstairs the other day and set it outside my bedroom door. (I fold the clothes on the bed because it’s the right height, and it’s a nice flat surface)  Then, instead of taking the laundry into the bedroom and folding the clothes right away, I went to do something else.  Later when I went back down the hall, I found this:

So, I went and did something else, until Tillie was finished with the laundry.  Cory won’t care if his clean sheets have cat hair on them.

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Was It Really Worth It?

Cory came home Wednesday and said one of the girls who was supposed to be working concessions on Thursday couldn't do it, so he said he would. The band students get 10 points/hour when they work concessions, and for a basketball game it's 4 hours and 40 points. That will help pay for that trip to New York.

Then we found out it was a wrestling meet and only 2 hours. 20 points is better than nothing, right? Except that Cory thought I should take him to Subway for dinner first so he could try that new $5 footlong, the Buffalo Chicken. So, 2 subs at Subway, 1 for me and 1 for Cory - $10 plus tax. Then, while working concessions, Cory wanted a Gatorade and some candy - another $2. So, for 20 points (which translates to $20 when cashed in for the trip) I spent $12.

On the other hand, wrestling isn't a really big draw so there weren't many people there and not much to do. They really didn't need me there, but for only 2 hours I didn't see any point in taking Cory over there and then having to go back to pick him up later. We watched some of the wrestling, which was really disturbing. Seriously, what is up with that sport? I read my book and just hung out with Cory and Jestine. And we were done a little after 8pm.

Worth it or not, it was kinda fun - and Cory has another 20 points to apply to the trip. Me, I got no points, so if you care to donate to my cause....

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Keeping Really Cool

This may not seem like the time to ask whether or not the Air conditioning compressor in your car is working or not. After all, winter has just started, and it's cold outside. You're more worried about the heat, right?

Now would probably be a good time to think about that auto air conditioning, though. If it needs fixed, you can get it fixed before summer sneaks up on you and it gets hot. For those of you who live in Florida, that's next week, right? You don't want to be driving down the road with the windows rolled down and the sweat running into your eyes, do you?

For the best selection of auto air conditioning parts, with free shipping and full warranties, check out It sounds like they do everything but install it, but with their low prices, you should be able to afford the installation charges. If you know how to do it yourself or have a friend who does, even better.

Update on my Uninvited Guest

I'm crossing my fingers (and my toes) hoping that I got the irritating little virus, worm, Trojan, whatever off of my computer. My brother suggested I try Malwarebytes. I figured I'd try scanning with Norton first, so left the computer scanning overnight. It didn't work. I think once the scan found the bad file, it stopped or something, because it was just sitting there when I got up this morning.

So, I went ahead and downloaded the free version of Malwarebytes, and after some messing around and frustration, I'm hopeful that I took care of it. If you want the details, you can go here.

Jeffrey has been having even more problems with his computer the last couple weeks, so we are going to have to try this on his computer, and Beth's too. Even if you don't have a problem yet, you might want to go ahead and get this program, because once you get one of these bad boys on your computer, they don't like you to download or install a program that might stop them. Jeffrey has repeatedly tried installing some other programs, and his attempts have been blocked every time. This seemed like a quick download and install that will hopefully get through, but if you've already got it on your computer, you won't have to worry about that.

You know, I'd much rather blog about giveaways...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Fiskars Wants to Help Your Community Garden Grow

LogoA couple years ago our Library Director decided that we needed some flowers out in front of the library. She got a local business to donate the plants, and she got a group of community residents together one Saturday morning. Together, they planted a beautiful flower garden in front of the library building. Now, instead of dirt and a few bushes, visitors to the library are greeted by colorful blooms. I don't think anyone realized what we were missing until we had it.

A community garden, whether to grow flowers or vegetables, is a great way to bring your community together. That's why Fiskars has created the Project Orange Thumb grant. They are going to award up to $1,500 in Fiskar's garden tools and up to $800.00 in gardening-related materials to 20 groups or organizations in the US and Canada. The grant is available to groups like schools, youth groups, clubs, and, I'm sure, libraries. You have to submit an application in two parts, an electronic submission to answer some questions about yourself and your organization, and a creative portion that can be about anything. You get to use pictures, words, video, whatever you can think of to help an alien understand how gardening makes you feel. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

So, if your group is interested in starting or maintaining your own garden, be sure to check out Fiskars Project Orange Thumb. The deadline for submitting your application is February 17, 2009 and recipients will be notified by March 25th.


I'm Not Real Happy Right Now

I went downstairs for like 20 minutes, came back upstairs to find my computer taken over. There were all kinds of error messages, 4 Internet Explorer windows open, and I never use IE. There was a popup from some so-called anti-virus or scanning software offering to scan my computer for free. Seriously - I wasn't even gone that long.

I did not even touch that stupid popup, closed everything down, and restarted my computer. And 4 windows of Internet Explorer started, too. Now I have my firewall blocking IE - so periodically a small Firefox window will open. It's blank. There's nothing there, but it makes itself the active window and interrupts whatever I'm doing.

I had a bunch of tabs open, so I have no clue where this came from, but it's not making me happy. I'm especially irritated that Norton didn't block it, and that I didn't even have to be here, click on anything, or install anything. Why don't these jerks who come up with things like this devote their energies to say, solving world hunger, developing a viable clean energy source, or solving the financial problems in the world?

Free Internet to Phone Calls

We have VOIP. That means, for $24.99 a month, plus taxes and fees, we have unlimited long distance to the US and Canada, among other things. Now, does that mean I pick up the phone and call anyone? I'm so bad. I'm paying for it anyway so I really should use it, but I don't. If someone calls me, I'm more than happy to talk. It's just the picking up the phone to make a call. Don't ask me why, I don't know.

Because of this, I'm always looking for ways that let other people make free calls so they can call me. Today I tried to see how that would work. Anyone with a broadband internet connection and a headset can make calls for free. The service is supported by advertising, so the person who places the call has to listen to a short ad, but the person on the other end of the call won't hear it. They just get a call on their cell phone or landline, just like any other call.

If you register, for free, you can place as many calls as you want. The calls are limited to 15 minutes, which could be a good thing because you might actually get off the phone and get something done. Otherwise, if you still have things to say, you can make another call. If you don't register, you can only make a 2 minute call. I guess that's enough to say, "Call me back with your unlimited long distance!" but that's about it. So, to really get some use from, registering would be a good idea.

If you don't have your own unlimited long distance, this may just be the service you're looking for. I didn't register because, like I said, I'm already paying for VOIP, but I am going to remember this site. One of these days I may be away from home and need to make some phone calls. We have been known to take our phone adapter with us, just in case, but this would be much easier.

What Does This Say About Me?

Cory didn't even ask me today and I still went in his room several times and sounded his hunter's horn on MouseHunt. Sorry I didn't get back to you, Tammy - yes, it's an application on Facebook. There isn't a real horn in his room. I guess every 15 minutes or so you get to click this horn, or whenever it shows up on the page. It shoots out little music notes, you get some points, and then the page refreshes. Sometimes it says you caught a mouse, which gives you points and gold, and sometimes it says you didn't. Like I said, really random. I can't actually see any rhyme or reason to it.

So why did I bother? It's that darn cat, lying in there on his bed being all soft and stuff. If I hadn't walked in there to pet her and happened to glance at the computer screen, I wouldn't have thought about hunting mice. Notice that Cory still hasn't gotten the cat to hunt the mice. What good is that cat, anyway?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

To the Bitter End

Cory has pep band tonight at the girls' basketball game. Since he brought home the schedule, I actually knew ahead of time and was thinking about going. Except that he and his friend Pam didn't want to stay for the whole game. The band gets to leave at half time, and they don't want to stay for the rest of the game. They just want to come home. I said, if I was going to go and pay to get in ($3?) then I wanted to stay for the whole game. So they decided Pam would drive, and Jeffrey and I stayed home.

Besides the money thing, I just think it's kind of rude. People go for the band or to watch the dancers, and then after half time they leave. I know they are there to support their own kids, but their kids are there to support the basketball team, and it only seems right to support them until the end. Leaving at half time is kind of like putting in hardwood floors, but not getting any area rugs, or fixing dinner but not serving it. Or... never mind - it just seems rude to the kids who are playing. Win or lose, they work really hard and deserve the support.

So, when I do go to a basketball game, or two, I want to stay to the end. Yes, I'll enjoy the part when the band is playing best, but I'll stay until the final buzzer.

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Heads or Tails - 3 Things in 2008

This week's theme/prompt is:
TAILS - "Three Things"
Tell three things you learned in 2008

For some reason I'm having the hardest time thinking of what I want to say. I've been struggling with Heads or Tails today, even though it should have been pretty simple. The prompt for the day was, 3 things you learned in 2008. It was an entire year - you'd think I'd have learned a thing or two, or even three. So why can't I come up with a simple list? No, I'm trying to come up with some earth-shattering intense things I learned. Maybe I need to learn not to over think things. And maybe I should just be thankful nothing is all that earth-shattering and intense.

On that note, I learned (this is #1) that my daughter, Beth had something wrong with her heart. That could've been really serious. And scary. Yes, it was a little scary, for all of us - especially Beth. But, she had the procedure last week. It went really well, and she's back to her normal life. The bruises haven't faded yet, but they're going. Thankfully, it was (relatively) easy to correct, and there's only a 3% chance it's not completely and totally fixed. That means 97% that she will never have to worry about that again.

Also in 2008, I learned (this is #2) - well, I keep starting that sentence, "I learned _________." But then I stop and think, but I already knew that. I'm not saying that I already knew it all. Maybe it's that some things I just have to learn over and over before I actually get it? Or maybe once I figure something out it seems so obvious I can't believe I didn't know it before?

Somewhere along the line I learned (this is #3) that I better write stuff down, or post it to my blog, in order to remember. I bet if I took the time to read through all my entries for 2008, all 851 of them, I would have found it a whole lot easier to come up with three things I learned in 2008. I ought to start a new label for my blog - 'something I learned' - and try to use it on a regular basis. That way I'll be good and ready for next year's '3 things you learned' - or whatever number Barb comes up with!

I know it's late, but it is still Tuesday. I learned the days of the week in some previous year, though, so I couldn't use that for this post. Heads or Tails is a fun weekly meme hosted by Skittles, and it's not too late for you to join in, too.

We Are Living in a Material World

I just joined a new consumer network called acobay. It's like a social network, only with stuff. What that means is you add the things you have to your account, rate them, review them, and even upload photos. Then, you can connect with and make friends with other people who have the same stuff you do.

I added my digital camera and my cell phone to my stuff, but I haven't connected with any people yet. I'm not sure that's really what I want out of this, considering I have enough friends to keep up with on Facebook. What I think is going to be helpful about acobay is the ability to see what other people think about the stuff they have. For instance, when I or one of the kids is ready to get a new cell phone, we can find people who already own that phone and see what they think of it. The same goes for new cameras, televisions, MP3 players, cars, books, and even restaurants. Just add the item to your wishlist and join the discussion.

Oh, I should add my MP3 player! Back when I first got it I was having trouble getting it to work with some of the audio books I downloaded from the library. I searched all over the Internet trying to find some answers, but didn't have much luck. A network like acobay would have let me ask the people who owned the same MP3 player to see if they had the answers. Now that I've figured it out, when I add the player to my stuff, other people will be able to ask me.

I'm also thinking this could be a very handy way to inventory all the stuff we have. You know how you're supposed to do that for insurance purposes? I keep meaning to do that.

So far, the only thing I don't like is that I have to put a price in when I add stuff. If I start adding as I acquire, that won't be a problem. I love telling people what a deal I got, but for the stuff I've had a while, I really don't remember. That's pretty minor, though compared with all the possibilities. What are you waiting for? Go add some stuff!

Monday, January 05, 2009

A Family Reunion of Sorts

Facebook is a real time waster, isn't it? At least it can be. Don't get me wrong, I love it. I love that I've been able to reconnect with people I haven't seen in years, and I love that I'm now in touch with all kinds of cousins and family members I haven't seen in years, either. I'm pretty sure I have more friends on Facebook than I have in real life - except that all my Facebook friends are my friends in real life, or at least they were at one time, or we're related.

So, I find myself on Facebook throughout the day, checking to see what everyone is up to, looking through old (and new) photos, thinking I really must get my scanner to work so I can add some too, commenting on said photos and status updates, and now playing Lexulous. I don't think all that is quite as bad as the new game Cory's dear Aunt Cindy has gotten him playing. It's called MouseHunt. Have any of you heard of it? I don't really understand it, and I'm not really trying because this game seems to take a lot of time.

This morning before school Cory asked me if I could do him a favor. He wanted me to go into his room periodically throughout the day and blow his hunter's horn for him so he could catch a mouse, or something. From what I could see, it was pretty random, but I did it several times throughout the day because I'm a nice mom like that. And because Tillie was lying in there on Cory's bed, so I had to stop in and pet her when I walked by. While I was in there, I might as well click, right?

One of those times, Tillie came over to the computer to see what I was doing and climbed up on the desk. So, I figure since she's a cat, and the game is all about hunting mice, then Cory should teach her how to play it for him. Sounds reasonable, right? And it will save me some time in the future, assuming he's going to keep playing the game.

It may be a waste of time, but Cory has really been enjoying playing the game and spending time with his aunt (and his uncle) while playing it. I even got to talk to Cindy for a little bit today when she asked Cory why he wasn't in school. He has also started talking about Doctor Who with one of my (his) cousins he's never met.

Facebook may not be quite the same as a family reunion, but it's better than nothing. Now, I need to go whup my mom at Lexulous!

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Camera Critters (#39)


Here’s a picture I took of one of the goats while we were visiting my parents for Thanksgiving.

We always had goats when I was growing up.  Mom & Dad had a few years they lived in town and didn’t have any, but now they’ve got three.  If you’d like to meet them, you can read Dad’s post.  There are more pictures, too.

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Cleaning Today

I don't have much time for blogging today or playing the new game on Facebook, Lexulous. If you haven't checked that game out yet, do it, you'll be glad you did. It might even already be your turn - I'm just sayin'.

Instead of having all that fun, I've been trying to get my house cleaned up. I tried the new hypo-allergenic Endust and dusted all my furniture. Why didn't someone come up with this before? No perfume and a reduced mist spray. It didn't bother me at all, and I feel like my furniture is dusted better now. I've been using a static duster that just never seems to work for me. Static gets me every time I get out of the van (OW!) but never seems to be there when I want it, like when I'm dusting. So, with this new Endust, I think it's back to the dust rag.

Now I've got to go clean my bathroom. Since I polished it up with the Turtle Wax cleaner, I've mostly wiped the sink down with a towel after a nice steamy shower. I polish the faucets to get them shiny, and I'm good to go. However, I think it's time for a real cleaning, so I need to get that done.

Oh, and I have to finish this library book, too since it's due today. Why is there not more time in a day?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Sky Watch Friday (#50)

It's (almost) Friday again, and that means
Sky Watch Friday!

Jeffrey and I walked a little later than normal on Tuesday. Because of Beth's surgery, he wasn’t leaving for work as usual. So, instead of walking in the dark like we normally do this time of year, we got to enjoy the sunrise and had some light to enjoy our surroundings.

I walked out the door to see this sunrise, turned back around and grabbed my camera.

Then, since I already had the camera, I took it along. Jeffrey does not wait for me when I stop to take a picture:

There he is up ahead of me, so I have to run to catch up. He says he’s walking for exercise, not to take pictures. Does he even know what he’s missing? Look at that sky!

If you enjoy looking at the sky as much as I do, you'll want to check out Sky Watch Friday. You can enjoy skies from around the world!

I Need New Cookie Sheets

I think it's about time to buy new cookie sheets. I used my first set for I don't know how many years, until they got all nasty looking. Then I found some non-stick ones on clearance and bought those. Unfortunately they weren't real high quality so the non-stick coating started coming off pretty quickly. I guess you get what you pay for, huh? The ones I have now started out real nice, but at some point in time my kids didn't dry them properly, and now they rust very easily. That also adds an unpleasant taste to the food, so I am going to have to break down and get some new ones. The question is, what do I buy? Do I just buy the same kind, or do I try to upgrade in the hopes that they will last longer? Maybe even something completely different like this silicone baking sheet?

I'm looking at this infinite circulon bakeware because it says it's designed for frequent use. I do bake a lot, so I want something that will stand up to that and not have to be replaced frequently. I really want to get something that I can use without ever having to worry about it again. At least not for a long time. These circulon steel elite pans come with a lifetime guarantee, so I take that to mean they will last a good long time.

While I was browsing the bakeware, I got distracted by these art and cook utensils in all kinds of fun colors, but I think I've got plenty of utensils. Still, they are kind of fun. What I'm really thinking I want to try is the silicon bakeware. It comes in all kinds of fun colors, too, and it's completely nonstick, odorless, and saves space. If you've tried it, please let me know what you think. Do you like it? What kind of new bakeware should I buy?