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Friday, May 25, 2018

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge: ROAD TRIP #roadtrip #AtoZChallenge 2018



I survived the A to Z and now it's time for a road trip!  This year I am going to attempt to visit as many blogs as I can that participated in the A to Z in April.  I already had about 10 or 15 that I was following on a regular basis.  As of this writing there are 63 people signed up for the Road Trip so that means I've already seen almost a third.  Should be doable, right?

We were asked to pick one post to link to and I picked "W" but it was really hard to narrow it down.  I was also a big fan of the letter "M" so I'm gonna be a rebel and link that one here.   

The details about the Road Trip are below.  Hope to see you on the way!


Blogging from A to Z April Challenge: ROAD TRIP #roadtrip #AtoZChallenge 2018: The ROAD TRIP is back!  This year, we ask that you pick ONE post from your #AtoZChallenge 2018 offerings to link it up. Which ...

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Making Memories in May - 2018 - #SoCS

I'm jumping into the Stream of Consciousness Saturday as directed by Linda G. Hill this week.  Her prompt is empty/hollow and that struck a chord with me right now.

Tomorrow our daughter graduates from college.  It seems like only yesterday we were driving her up to live in the dorms as a freshman.  She has absolutely astounded us by handling everything in regard to this college experience on her own.  All she asked us to do was sign the papers, attend the orientation and help her move up.  We never helped her decide which classes to take or check on her to make sure she was doing her homework.

For a brief minute we were "empty" nesters.  I took over her bedroom as my scrap room and we had a friend of ours move in to the other "empty" bedroom.  Now that she is graduating, she will be returning home to live until she decides what she wants to do with her degree.  She is going through a lot of different emotions now and I can't help her with any of them, other than to be a good listener when she wants to share.  Mostly she wants a little time to relax from all the "adulting" she's done for the past four years and that is okay with us.     




I'm not/can't give up my craft room (I've accumulated so many supplies there is no other place in our house to put it all) so we've had to ask our friend to move out to make room for her return.  We'll have a few days when the room is "hollowed" out so that she can paint it.  We will no longer be "empty" nesters and that's okay with us.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Making Memories in May - 2018 - ASmile4UfromJanet

After April's almost daily posting, May is pretty quiet.  I'm thinking of joining some of the challenges that I've seen but I'm not sure which ones yet.  In the meantime, I was working on a project the other day and had to write my name.  Sometimes I like the way it looks, other times not so much.  When I am signing a check to pay a bill, I don't really care but when I know that it is going on the back of a card or something that I made, I want it to look nice so I started practicing - sort of a warm up, you know?  

I'm all about sharing a smile and I've been trying to think of a way to incorporate a smile into a logo.  I haven't wanted to just use a smiley face because that is too common.  All of a sudden, as I looked at the different times I had written my name, something hit me and I started putting two little dots in the crook of my "J."     




What do you know?  There's a smile for you from Janet!  

I love the "J" in this one but I am not happy with the closed "e" and open "t."


This one looked pretty good so I uploaded it to Vistaprint and had them make me a signature stamp.

This is what it turned out like:


I am happy with it for now but as I look at it, maybe the "a" should be a little closer to the "J" so I think I'll keep practicing with my signature and when I get one that is perfect I'll have another stamp made. 

What do you think?  Got any other ideas for a logo that includes a smile?  Any blogging challenges I should join?  Love to hear from you! 



Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Making Memories in May - 2018 - Home Chef Meal Delivery

I don't know how other people do things but in our house we have a tough time deciding what's for dinner.  In all actuality, we have never been a regular eat dinner together type family.  Part of that stems from the fact that during the first 15 years or so of our married life my husband had stomach issues in the form of ulcers that would wax and wane and finally he had to have two surgeries to help alleviate the problem.  It meant that I would make dinner but then his stomach would be bothering him so he wouldn't be hungry.  I would end up with food that never got eaten or have to eat alone since he would be lying down.  Slowly but surely I got out of the habit of cooking dinners and would fix easy meals for the kids and I.

Fast forward to the present.  The kids are grown and out of the house so it is just my husband and I.  I am trying to lose weight and eat healthier so I am doing more planning, usually cooking four dinner meals at a time so I have them ready to go in the fridge.  I will make two chicken and two fish dinners for example.


Unfortunately, these don't exactly appeal to my husband so he will make his own dinners like ranch beans or chili, things that I don't really like.  Sometimes we'll get pizza or Chinese food delivered.  

Still, there is the "What's for dinner" question many nights.  Recently, I got an email from the Hungry Girl where she talked about Home Chef, the home delivery service, and if I used the link in her email I'd get $30 off the first order.  I figured we should give it a try.  Since it was endorsed by Hungry Girl, perhaps the meals would be healthier and by picking the meals in advance we could chose things we both might like.  We decided to try four meals.  I picked two and my husband picked two.  

We got the first delivery yesterday.  


The box was well insulated and inside were the ingredients neatly packaged and labeled for the four meals we had chosen.  There was also recipe cards for each of the meals and a binder to keep them in.  

We tried the first one tonight.  French Onion Shrimp and Grits.  This is what the packages looked like with the recipe card.  


Inside the baggie were these ingredients.  The tiny bottle is the white wine for the sauce, butter, shallot, sour cream and in the baggies are the grits and parmesan cheese.  The green stems are chives for garnish.  Wow, I'm not used to garnishing my meals - fancy!


The only things needed to make the meal that were not included were water, olive oil, salt and pepper.  The recipe card had simple to follow, step-by-step instructions.  No fancy pans or cooking utensils were required.  Here is what my result was and the picture from the recipe card behind it.  



It's not exactly the same but pretty close.  It was delicious!  We had never had grits before and were pleasantly surprised at the taste.  We both like shrimp and the caramelized shallots were yummy.  The recipe said it made two meals but I bet we could have stretched it to three as I had some grits leftover and I could have saved some shrimp and topping to go with it, but it was so good we didn't!

All the nutritional info is given for each of the options so you could really tailor the menus you pick to your preferences as far as low fat or low cholesterol, etc.  They even have vegetarian meals so you could do that too.  Obviously, since you are cooking them yourself, you could change any part of it to suit your taste.  I followed the directions exactly for this meal so that I could give the company a fair chance.  

I really like the flexibility of this program.  When you sign up you are asked about your taste preferences, whether you like meat or fish, vegetarian, low carb or low fat, etc.  They also ask if you would like to try advanced meals.  I chose simple!  They pre-pick the meals for you but you can swap them to others that are being offered for that week.  The choices are set up five weeks in advance so you can schedule a month of meals and forget it if you want.  You can choose some lunch type meals instead of dinners.  The dinner meals are $9.95 per serving and the lunch meals are $7.99.  Some of the meals can be increased to serve four instead of two.   You also have the option of adding a smoothie or a fruit basket with your order for $4.95 per serving.  We wanted more time to be able to try the ones we got so we decided to skip next week's delivery.  It was really easy for me to go online to my account and do that.         

If you think you might like to try this service, use my link to save $30 off your first order:


Have you tried any of the home delivery meal services?  Did you like them?  Share!

 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Blogging From A to Z - 2018 - Reflections




I want to thank everyone who came by my blog and commented or liked my showcase of things found at a Michaels Arts and Crafts store last month.  I was pleased to be able to finish the challenge on time this year and it was a lot of fun.  I was also a little afraid that it would be boring but it seems to have sparked some inspiration in a few people to check their local Michaels for things they would not have done before.  Now if I can just get Michaels to give me a kickback, it would be perfect, right?

In case you missed an installment or want to see something again, here is a recap of my Blogging from A to Z  of Michaels Arts and Crafts store:



A - App
B - Baking
C - Candles and Clearance
D - Drawing
E - Events and Classes
F - Floral
G - Glitter and Glue
H - Home Decor
I - Iron On
J - Jewelry
K - Kids
L - Lighting and Liquitex
M - Miniatures and Missions
N - Necklace holders and needlework
O - Organization
P - Picture frames
Q - Q-Line
R - Ribbons and Rocks
S - Scrapbooking
T - T-shirts
U - Unique and Unusual
V - Velcro and Vases
W - Wedding and Washi tape
X - X-treme, X-acto and X-tras
Y - Yarn
Z - Zentangle, Zippers and Zots


In addition to my recap, I have to put a shout out to several new people I met along the A to Z this year:

Leanne from Cresting the Hill - She blogs about midlife and the empty nest.
Wendy at Wendy's Waffle - She wrote about sports, the usual and the unusual.
Trudy at Reel Focus - She had a great movie game where you were to guess the title from the tagline.
Deena at Deena's Days - She was great with Elvis as her theme.
Sue at Sue's Trifles - Her A to Z was about occupations.
Jeanne Bryan Insalaco at Everyone Has a Story - I thought I knew a thing or two about Nancy Drew until I started reading her A to Z.


My friends from previous years:

Jacqui Murray at WordDreams who talked about the different genres in writing.  Jacqui, in addition to being the inspiration for my A to Z theme, was also the 100th follower of my blog!  Thanks Jacqui!

Patti at Scarlett 79 who shared great movie quotes.
Erika at Dorky Mom Doodles who doodled her way through her past.
Cathy at Curious as a Cathy who used her iPad to create some really neat sketches.
Iain Kelly at Iain Kelly Writing who took us on a trip through Europe.
Deborah Weber who gave us wonderful new words to learn in her manifesto.
Joe Owens at Fiction Playground who wrote a great detective story.


and we can't forget the founder of the A to Z and his wonderful assistants:

Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out who talked about cleaning the clutter.
John Holton at The Sound of One Hand Typing who played his word games again.
J. Lenni Dorner at Blog of Author J Lenni Dorner who once again gave us a thrilling tale of speculative fiction story of life on another planet.


If I've left anyone off my list, it was not intentional.  There were hundreds of participants again this year and while there were a few minor glitches with linking some of the days, all in all I thought things went very smoothly.  Of course you can't visit everyone every day and there are probably many more blogs I would have enjoyed reading so I'm thankful the lists are still available.  There is also the Road Trip starting on May 23 which should be fun.

Just a couple of things I tried this year and felt that they really helped was to get a draft post started for each letter, even if I didn't have the pictures or even the writing done.  There are a few paragraphs at the beginning and the end of every post that were the same so by having those things in place at the start made it much easier when I got down to putting the pictures in and writing the story.  The next thing was to start this recap post at the beginning of the challenge as well and then each day after I officially posted my letter, I would link it here that way once the challenge was done, all my links would be ready and I would just need to add the fluff.  It was also nice to see the number of draft posts I had start to decrease as the days went on.  When I was down to 3 to 4 drafts left I knew I was gonna make it!

Did you have a good time with the A to Z?  Do you have your theme for next year yet?  Any bloggers out there I should immediately go check out?  Any tips you want to share?  Let me know.




Sunday, May 6, 2018

Making Memories in May - Agatha Christie Readathon Wrap Up

Well, as I suspected, with participating in the A to Z Challenge all month, I was not able to complete the Agatha Christie Readathon organized by Jay Cudney on time.  I did finish though and here is my recap.

I read "The Secret Adversary" but didn't have access to the second, "Peril at End House", so I read "Hallowe'en Party" instead.  It was a Poirot mystery so I felt that I could count it.  It was a good one with lots of suspects as usual.  My favorite part was the way the people made fun of Poirot about the way he walked in his patent leather shoes.  They said he looked uncomfortable and at one point he admitted his feet hurt but he was setting aside comfort for style.  Pretty funny.  This story also had the character of Ariadne Oliver who is possibly Agatha herself as Ms. Oliver is a mystery writer. 

Next was "The Body In the Library."  This one started right off with the murder, no beating around the bush.  Try as I might couldn't guess who done it.  Oddly enough, it was someone that I didn't even consider since, in my opinion, it seemed like almost a side character, not written too much about.    Interesting note about this story is that according to Agatha Christie, she believed that if she wrote two books at the same time and alternated the writing, it would keep her fresh.  She wrote "The Body in the Library" at the same time she wrote "N or M?"  Now I want to read that one to see if I notice any similarities. 

Finally, there was "The Murder at the Vicarage."   I thought I had this one figured out but of course I was wrong again.  Since this was the first introduction to Ms. Jane Marple I enjoyed sensing the skepticism about her abilities to solve the puzzle and then at the end seeing her prove her mastery.  Dame Agatha said about this story, "...I cannot remember where, when or how I wrote it, why I came to write it, or even what suggested to me that I should select a new character - Miss Marple - to act as the sleuth in the story."  You'd think she'd remember how one of her most famous characters came into being! 

The quotes I used in this post came from "An Autobiography," by Agatha herself but they were excerpts in a book called "The New Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Agatha Christie" edited by Dick Riley and Pam McAllister. 




This is a very informative book with multiple quotes from Dame Agatha and a synopsis of each of her stories.  It also gives a history of each of her main sleuths and a bit about the people who portrayed them in movies and on television.  There are some crossword puzzles and things inside as well to test your knowledge of the great Dame and her work.  If you are an Agatha fan, I highly recommend it.

Another book I would like to recommend is "Father Figure" the newest book by James J. Cudney. 



I haven't read it yet but it is definitely on my list as I really enjoyed his first novel, "Watching Glass Shatter."  This one describes the story of two girls, living two decades apart, told in alternating chapters.  I love the cover of the book with the mysterious house off in the distance and the crossroad path.  Makes me wonder which is the right path to take - if there is a "right" one.  From now until May 10 you can get the Kindle version of this book for free on Amazon.  I'm not a fan of reading books on electronic devices but free might make me want to give this one a go!  I am not an Amazon affiliate, just a James J. Cudney fan.  

So, now that I "finished" the Agatha Christie Readathon, I'm choosing "Wicked" as my next book in my own personal 2018 Reading Challenge.  Right now I am two books ahead of schedule!  Hope I can continue to keep up.




What are you reading?  Love Agatha?  Finish the challenge?  Did you read "Watching Glass Shatter" or "Father Figure?"  Love to hear about it!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Making Memories in May - 2018

Last month with the A to Z I didn't make time to participate in the Escapist Coloring Club as hosted by Linda G. Hill.  I'm sharing here a few of the things I've colored in the last month.

These are 6 x 8 inch prints that I plan to try to incorporate into my scrapbooking and card making.  I can cut them down a bit to fit as card focals and add a sentiment.




This one I can imagine using in a scrapbook layout with either a picture in the white space or using that space to do some journaling.  Now I just need to go on a vacation to some island to have pictures that would work with it - LOL.  



Sometimes I like doing these because I can finish one or two of them while watching a movie.  If I have to stop in the middle of coloring a larger picture I forget what colors I'm using!  (Maybe because I have too many pencils and markers?)

As with all blog-hops, make sure to stop by and check out some of the other colorers!