Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I am my Mother's Daughter

Growing up, I don't have many memories where my mother didn't have some project she was working on.  When I was very young, she was a puppeteer.  She made her own puppets using paper mache, old bathroom rugs (Cookie Monster puppet) or foam rubber and leftover fabric.  My father built her a stage and she performed at birthday parties and church functions. She even wrote her own scripts.

iPad Covers
She also made all of our Halloween costumes and we never lost a costume contest.  She knitted. She made dresses for my sister and me. Later in life, she made wooden 2-D dolls in all different themes and costumes and sold them at craft shows and later she learned how to make porcelain dolls where she poured the molds and painted their faces and made the clothes.  The dolls are a beautiful illustration of her boundless talent.  At nearly 78, she's still going strong and I have picked up a few of her habits, I love to sew and crochet too.  Last fall we started our own business together selling my Kindle, Nook, and iPad covers, 
Hand made Scarves

And crocheted scarves, and her hand-knit scarves.  

My husband and I designed and built a booth and once we booked our first show and filled it with our wares, the booth looked beautiful.  
Our Booth

We learned a few things along the way and are looking forward to making this an even better year to capitalize on our talents.

I love having this chance to have a little business with my mom. I love that she never stops creating. And I love that she has passed her love of crafting onto me.    

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Kindle Conundrum

When Amazon's Kindle was first released, being an avid reader I said, "No way!" How could I forsake one of my true loves for technology? Sitting out on the deck with a book in my hand is one of my favorite indulgences in life. I love the feel of a book. I love the smell of a book. I look at my wall of bookshelves and admire every last damn author who braved the process of writing down the story in their head and developing that into 300 pages or so into a journey that I as a reader can travel. Then to face the rejections before finally finding someone to publish that story and put it into book form, just so I could hold it in my hand and be enraptured by every word, is a feeling that connects me to that author.

How could some Jetsonian piece of plastic with buttons ever give me that kind of personal connection, that kind of joy, that kind of escape?

However, as is the case with many a new product (the Chia Pet for example), flat-out rejection turned to curiosity as I saw more and more people using a Kindle in doctors' offices, on airplanes, and at the gym. (Alright, I know I don't go to the gym, but I'll put money on the fact that there's people using them there) What magic potion was emitting from this device that was drawing these people in?

At the time of my first real encounter with a Kindle, I was reading the book "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett. A wonderful, amazing book of 975 pages. Yes, 975 pages!!! This was not a book, it was an anvil. I couldn't just slip it into my purse. Nor would I bother lugging it to the doctor's office. On an airplane it would barely pass the carry-on size test.

But when my sister-in-law, Stacy, received one as a birthday gift, she showed it to me. Placing this church-program-sized device into my hands, as I saw the pages turn with a flick of my thumb, I felt the heavens open up and I too was drawn in like a moth to flame.

As my husband stood close by, I felt the words rise up in my throat, unable to squelch them, I heard myself say...

"I want one."

And so it came to pass that I too became the owner of a Kindle. Although I can't shake the feeling that I am cheating on my books. I look at my bookshelf full of those wonderful nuggets and think of all the book printers and cover artists who will soon be looking for a new career and sigh with a true sympathy.

Besides the guilt, the other downsides that may or may not bother you are that there are no page numbers. You can only see the percentage of how far you are into a book. However, this is because of the big upside of being able to adjust font size to your liking. Screw you, bifocals!

No cover art, maybe that one's just me but I like the cover art. And it's not a lit screen, so you still need a lamp or a book light at night. Also, it's a little too easy to buy new books. Don't think you'll be asked, "Are you sure you'd like to purchase this book?" because you won't be. If you click 'buy this book', you just bought it. No shopping cart or time to change your mind.

Other upsides besides the font size control are that it holds about 1500 books without getting any heavier. You can have a book in seconds after buying it. The wireless only version (meaning you can only download a book when connected to a wireless network) runs $139 and the 3G version (download anywhere you can get a mobile signal) is $189.

Also good: Lots of free books out there! Not the current bestsellers but tons of the classics. So if you've always wanted to read Wuthering Heights, you can download it for free. But I suggest you read my blog about that book before you do.

One other thing to think about. With the Kindle, you're a slave to Amazon for your book-downloading. Whether that's good or bad for you, I find myself driving by Borders and thinking, "I'm sorry it had to end this way."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Reports of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

You're probably wondering (because you have nothing better to do) 'What happened to my old pal the guinea pig?'. No doubt you've tossed and turned at night with worry, led an anxiety-stricken charade of a life waiting for the next installment of The Road to Thindom. Well, me too!

Time and resolve slipped away from me as I received many freelance jobs which pay a heck of a lot more than writing my own blog. I have been busy producing corporate videos, writing scripts for a sick and twisted (but thoroughly addicting) show called "Snapped", and writing articles for

2010 was a blessed year and the panic of losing my job was quickly calmed by the influx of paying work. I thank God for watching over me and making me feel much more like a winner than a loser in the past year.

That explains my absence in the past five months but does not excuse it! So here's the skinny (or the fatty, in my case) on The Road to Thindom...

it was a dead end.

I'm going to try the road again and if I find a successful path to Thindom, I will invite you all to travel the route I did and when we get there, we'll have a party complete with carrot sticks and cucumber water.

In the mean time folks, stand by because a new GP report is coming up on this year's hottest gift! And no, it's not a Zhu Zhu pet.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Week 2: The Greasy Taco Incident

Weight total: -4lb.
Activity Points: 4
Wii Fit Plus Time: Zip!

Okay, so I only lost 1 pound this last week. In two different visits, I had both my brothers come to town. There was eating out, there was the whole showing them the town, the 4th of July cookout, and then there was... The Greasy Taco Incident.

You know how growing up when it was your birthday, your mom would make you your favorite dish? Well, for me and my brother, it was greasy tacos. I'm about to give away something about my age, but here goes. When I was young, we didn't have the pre-formed taco shells; they weren't invented yet. There, I said it. My mother would fry the totillas and fold them. She'd then stuff them with meat and cheese and then bake them to melt the cheese. When you took a bite, the grease would squeeze out the other end and run down your arm. DELICIOUS!!! But as the years passed, it was just easier to use those break-upon-opening-the-package Ortega taco shells and a little healthier as well. Gone were the days of the greasy taco.

But when Brother Chris came to visit my mom and me here in Tennessee, he requested those tacos like mom used to make. And how could the woman deny her prodigal son the dish he held so dear to his heart? Twenty years must have passed since I'd had them and they were just as good as I remembered. So I ate 5. Yes, I said 5. FIVE TACOS!!!!

Despite my inability to hold on to my will power in the face of Mexican food, I was able to stick to my points. So even though I had about 35 points that day, I didn't go over my weekly points. So I still shed that one little pound. And I'm okay with that. If I had worked out, I'm sure it would have been more.

As for the dust collecting on my Wii Fit board, I have no excuse. The most difficult thing about making this a habit is that it takes a good 2.5 hours of your time. It's warm up, workout, shower, hair, make up. I don't always have a 2.5 hour chunk available. And that was the case this week. I know that lots of people get up real early just to work out but I never liked their kind and I'm not drinking their Kool-Aid either. I like sleep as much as I like greasy tacos, if not more.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Week One: Roughing It

Weight: -3 lbs

Activity Points: 23

Wii Fit Plus Time: 2 Hours

Well, folks, it’s been an interesting first week. I stuck to the Weight Watcher’s point system and worked out three times on the Wii Fit Plus, as well as went camping for the weekend. If you’re wondering why I threw that in there, then you try setting up and breaking down a tent in 97 degree weather and NOT call it a workout.

The Wii Fit Plus is a very FUN way to exercise. There is a lot of variety in what you can do. Aerobics, Yoga, Strength Training, and Balance exercises. What I found very amusing was the estimation of my Wii Fit age each time I started up. On the first workout, I came in at 27. WHOO HOO!!!! The next day when I tried unsuccessfully to stand on one foot for 30 seconds, I came in at 48. So I aged 21 years in two days. The third time I was 34. Alrighty then. My advice to new users of the Wii Fit Plus: Don’t put too much stock in your Wii Fit age.

Also, you may want to ignore the little jabs at your physique it likes to take. For instance, when you weigh in, it announces “THAT’S OVERWEIGHT” and plays a little music sting that sounds like a game show loser riff. Then it turns your Mii character to a little chubby version of yourself. The character then looks down at its own waist then back up at you with a sad face. Nice. Thanks.

And each time you get back on the board for your next exercise, a little surprised voice says “OH”, as if to say “Oh, holy crap you’re a fatty.” But don’t worry. It means it in the nicest possible way.

And during my camping weekend, I sweat out the equivalent of eight 7-11 Big Gulps. So yes, it counts.

The Weight Watcher Points Plan was, as I have experienced in the past, my friend and my enemy all at once. The plan is UBER-flexible so that I love. During my week I was able to eat two chili dogs (turkey dogs) as well as a Sonic burger and a couple of Chips Ahoy cookies. Being able to eat something sinful and still stay on the plan helps me to say no to other not-so-healthy things. I had the strength to pass up the S’Mores when camping knowing I’d much rather eat the chili dog.

There are also some surprisingly yummy recipes like my favorite, Picadillo Egg Rolls. 2 points each and they’re like a little Cuban taco! Love them! Also, I was able to put in my own recipe for a quiche (substituting the pie crust for phyllo dough) and each slice is only 3 points.

What has always vexed me about Weight Watchers is that for the first couple of weeks, I’m CONSTANTLY thinking about food. Because I have to be aware of every point that goes in my mouth, I have to think about how many I have left for the day or the week. “Let’s see, if I eat this piece of cheese, I’ll only have 8 points left for dinner. That’s just one Lean Cuisine. It’s not enough! I’ll be foraging for chips by midnight!”

I get 21 points a day (and if you’re a WW subscriber who’s reading this you know I’m over a certain weight mark so please don’t tell!) Plus, an extra 35 points for the week to use any way or day I see fit. It may sound like a lot, but trust me, they go fast when you grab that dinner roll off the table. My advice if you can do it: drink the 8 glasses of water a day if you can (even if you can only handle 4 or 5, just drink more than you normally do) and skip the white bread. I know you love it as much as I do but remember you can have it again someday. Just get yourself off of it for now.

All in all, I stayed within my points, lost three pounds and was still able to enjoy some decadence. Next week will be tough because I have a lot of family coming to visit so let’s see how I do. I know the first week you tend to lose more so I’m not expecting to lose three more pounds in the second but wouldn’t that be nice? But even if I did, my Wii Fit Plus would still say “THAT’S OVERWEIGHT!”

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Road to Thindom

There’s nothing I enjoy more than working out and eating right.

Wait, I was having that dream again where I am Bethany Frankel from Real Housewives of New York City. Sorry. There’s nothing I enjoy LESS than working out and eating right. That sounds more like me.

When I was told my job as VP of Branded Entertainment of a major cable network was being eliminated and I had two months to live… I mean “pack”… I quickly developed a “F*** IT” attitude. If they were getting rid of me then I was taking an extra five minutes at lunch, damn it. And I arrogantly began leaving 15 minutes early… on Fridays. HA! I showed them!!

I also began some anger eating. And let me tell you, I was really pissed. In two months, I gained eight pounds. Now for most of you eight pounds is nothing but I was already a little on the plump side so it didn’t do me any favors.

I was home two months, wondering how to spend my severance pay when I happened to catch a glimpse of my tremendous posterior in my full length mirror (which now lives in a landfill somewhere).

Now, I've started my own business and I have control over my working hours. The initial pissed-offedness has worn down. But, I’m left with the shock of what I’ve done to my body. So I’m thinking it’s time to do something about said ass. So I bought the Wii Fit board and “game” to get in shape and dusted off my Weight Watchers on-line membership to do something about that anger eating.

I have 30 pounds and 3 dress sizes to lose to get back to normal. So to my smattering of readers, this blog is my chronicle of what’s sure to be this Guinea Pig’s rocky journey to thindom. I will check in each week to let you know if the Wii and Weight Watchers are living up to their hype and I’ll be honest about whether or not I’m living up to my promise.

If you’re on a similar journey, please share your experiences, good or bad. Tips, encouragement, words of wisdom and celery stalks will also be welcome.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meet George Jetson...

That would make me, Jane, his wife. I will say, when it comes to husbands, I got one of the good ones. No. He doesn't help around the house any more than any other hubby, I suppose. And yes, he still needs to be reminded to take the kids out shopping for gifts because my birthday is just two days away. But he is kind, good natured, funny, smart, and top of the list: has absolutely no interest in sports.

What he is interested in is science and technology. I believe his ultimate goal is to turn our entire household into one giant robot with a central processing unit named HAL located in the attic. He enters a room and demands "Computer, lights!" hoping someday they'll actually switch on with voice command.

The following are home improvements he has offered to jury-rig in order to reach his goal:
1. A television in our bedroom that stays flat to the ceiling and comes down on a robotic arm over the bed when you're ready to watch.
2. A wave motion serving dish holder that continually moves the marinade around the roast for full flavor impact at dinner.
3. A joystick-controlled lawn mower.
4. A Flowbee system for the hedges.

All of these ideas I vetoed. However, some robotic/automated items have made their way into our home. Here's how it happens:

"Honey, I need your help a little more around the house. Maybe you could be in charge of cleaning the floors?"
"You bet! I'm all over it!"
... 3 days later...
"Honey, what is that round thing driving around on the floor upstairs?"
"Oh that's a Roomba! It vaccuums the floors for you. Now you have the help you need."
"Okay. Not exactly what I had in mind but..."

This is exactly how we came to own the following items:

The iRobot Roomba (a robotic hands-free vacuum cleaner that you set on a timer)
A Petmate Le Bistro (the automatic portion-control catfood dispenser)
A self-cleaning litter box
The Scrubbing Bubbles automatic shower cleaner

Here's what I think of them respectively: Awesome. Crap. Crap. Crap.

The Roomba: (We've named ours "Rusky")
Since we got Rusky, the floors have never been cleaner. You set the timer and it runs every day at the same time. It vacuums in a zig-zag motion for about an hour and a half on a charge. It finds its way back to the dock when it's finished and charges itself. And then you empty the dirt bin.
The few downsides: It occasionally gets itself stuck under a dresser or coffee table. Also, my living room rug pattern has some blocks with a black background. When the Roomba gets close to those blocks, it assumes the black is a hole and moves around it instead of over it. So the dust is piling up there but if I let it sit long enough, it will appear as gray instead of black and then problem solved! I'll let you know if my theory is correct.

The Le Bistro pet feeder:
Well, let's just say ours has found a new home and is happily living in a landfill somewhere. The tank comes in different sizes so my husband, I mean you, can go long periods of time without filling one of the bigger ones. But the catfood gets jammed in the chute. The dish doesn't stay snapped into place and gets moved around when the cat eats. So when the food does come out, it pours out onto the floor. I felt like I had a whole new pet that needed constant attention and care. Thank goodness for Rusky who helped me out with this one.

The self-cleaning litter box:
This lives next door to the Le Bistro in the landfill so I can’t even tell you what brand it was. It consisted of an open-topped round drum where the litter was held, a rake arm that came down like a record-player needle, and a side bin to catch the waste. Theoretically, after the cat has done his business in the litter, the drum begins to turn, the rake comes down and digs into the litter catching every clump and poop as it rotates. The arm then begins to lift with the excrement in its claw, and robotically moves over to the bin as the lid opens and dumps it in. At least that’s what the box said it would do.
Real life? Not even close. The clumps were often too big for the rake to hold and the rake would carry them halfway to the bin and then they would just fall back into the drum or more often than not, out onto the floor. The bin was big enough to hold about 2 small clumps and one poop before that would overfill and also be on the floor.
Again, Rusky had to help us out with this one.

The Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner:
We tried this in our shower, which is not a full tub but a shower stall so weren’t asking a lot from this device. The idea is to hang this from the shower head. Every day when you get out of the shower, you push a button and pull the curtain and it emits a spray that essentially cleans your shower without rinsing or scrubbing.
Day 1… No difference.
Day 2… No difference.
Day 5… The shower seems to need scrubbing but my husband convinces me to let it do its job.
Day 8… Soap scum is turning brown. Maybe that’s a good sign.
Day 12… I nearly crack my head open slipping on the scum-covered shower floor. My husband says it’s the cleaning solution.
Day 15… I crack open the contraption and use the remaining solution to scrub the unaffected soap scum and the mildew garden that’s beginning to grow.
Day 16… The Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner heads for the land of misfit devices… the landfill.

So he's one for four. The Roomba is the only item that is welcome to stay in the house. It is the only item that operates on its own and saves time and energy. If only my hubby could say the same. :](Just kidding, Sweetie. I love you! ;)