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Thursday, January 29, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge, Book 4

Finished the book about Rod Stewart.  He actually seems to be a pretty nice guy.  Definitely lives the rock star life but I think truly loves his family and his career and tries not to take either for granted.  I'd recommend it.

Next up I am choosing "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" by J.K. Rowling.  I am counting it as my "book with non-human characters," because I think it will be easy for me to find another book with magic and because it took me longer than a week to read "Rod."  This is a short book so I may be able to catch up.  It is 107 pages and was published in 2008.

I started reading the Harry Potter books when they first came out and my daughter, Amanda, was hooked.  I must admit I have not read the whole series yet (so I may read one of them for the "book with magic" or "book over 500 pages" category later).  I have seen most of the movies at least once.  I don't think I've seen the last one, though, so I may have to check that out too.

So, what are you reading this week?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Just a Whisper

Anyone in my family will tell you I am not a pet person.  Never had one growing up, never wanted one.  Certainly didn't want one with three kids and a husband to take care of already.  The kids would always ask if we could get a dog.  I said, "When you learn to take care of all the INanimate objects laying around your room, you can get a pet."  I knew that would stop them because they could never keep their rooms clean for very long. I just could not see taking care of another thing and I knew that if we got a pet, I would be the one to feed and take care of it for the most part, no matter how much they told me different.

However, my husband has always been a pet person.  He's had dogs and cats all his life, sometimes more than one of each at a time.  I'm surprised we managed to be together for so long without an animal.  We did have two birds.  One flew out the door when I left the cage open (by accident, I swear!)  The other one died because of lack of interest (the kids said they could not play with a bird so it wasn't the same as a dog or cat).

And then one Memorial weekend hubby came home from work and was talking about a stray cat that had made friends with him in the parking lot of his work.  The cat "picked him" out of a bunch of guys out eating lunch and went right up to him.  At break time the cat came to him again.  When he came home from work it was all he could talk about, that poor cat.  Finally, I said, "Go get the cat, you're going to be miserable if you don't."  I didn't have to twist his arm.

She was a tiny thing, so black and small, and hardly made a sound so we named her Whisper.  She had been injured somehow and had a big scab on her side.  Before she was let in the house I said she had to be checked out so hubby took her down to the Peninsula Humane Society and said we had found her and wanted to keep her.  She was okay so we next took her and had her spayed and all her shots.  It didn't take long for her to make herself home:

After the spaying.
Helping me with laundry.

Reading a book.
Laying at MY feet.
Having a drink.

She started to get bigger and bigger.  Soon she was no longer the little tiny cat but she still was a very quiet cat.  In fact, we hardly ever heard her meow.  People would come over and say, "Wow, that's a fat cat!"  

She even made it into the
Christmas family photo.

Rachel made her a pillow bed.

She would look at me when her
bowl was empty as if to say, "Well, I'm waiting.

Unfortunately, for the last few days she was not eating and barely drinking any water, which she would not be able to keep down.  On one of the last vet visits they had told us that she could develop diabetes and kidney problems because she was so fat.  We were pretty sure that this was the end.      

We took her to the vet and they kept her for the afternoon, running blood tests and giving her fluids.  The blood tests were so out of normal range they would not even register.  Bill and I made the decision not to try to use extraordinary measures to save her.  It was hard but we could not see her suffer and there really was no way to stop the inevitable.  Bill held her in his arms while they gave her the last injection, comforting her and telling her it was going to be okay.  

Even though I still don't think I am a pet person, I cried and I will miss our little Whisper.

Monday, January 19, 2015


I don't know about you, but having a planner has become a very important thing for me.  Actually, I have 3.  I shared a picture in my 365 Pictures project a couple of years ago.

From 2013

I have one in a red binder that I use for my personal life.  I told the family it was "the bible."  If something were to happen to me, the first place they should look for information would be there.  I use standard DayRunner or DayTimer monthly calendars in that.

The second planner I use is for my Administrative Solutions life.  This one is strictly for my transcription business.  It holds a record of my daily work.  I use a regular spiral planner for that.  The past few years it has been a Brownline planner, pink to support breast cancer awareness.  A portion of the cost of the planner goes to support that cause.

The third planner I have just begun to use for my "creative life."  It is to help me with my Etsy site, this blog and just to help me grow creatively.  The first year I used a planner it was spiral bound but too big.  Last year I got a standard spiral one but it did not seem quite right.

There are sites out there where you can design your own planners but that can get expensive and I was finding that I liked one thing from one site and something else from another.  Etsy has several shops that sell planners and inserts but none seemed just right for me either.  Finally, I decided to make my own.  I had a very specific idea for what I wanted.  I liked the spiral part.  I wanted one with both the monthly pages and the daily pages and it had to have a lot of room to write.

I found the perfect "base" planner at Staples.  It has a plastic "see through" cover so I could put my own design on it.  This is what I came up with:

Front Cover
Inside front cover.

First page
Monthly view.  Love lots of space to write.

On each month I added an embellishment
with an affirmation or quote I like.

Monthly Goals
 On the first day of the month I put
a spot for monthly goals and on the last day of the month I put a "Currently" spot to record what I had been up to for that month.

Plastic sleeve insert
I found some plastic sleeves that I
could use to insert my to do list and the reading challenge I am doing. I can move those from day to day, week to week or whatever.

Finally, I got some plastic pockets that stick on the back cover.  This holds some extra business cards and other odds and ends.

So, there is my first attempt at designing my own planner.  I am happy with it so far.  I like the feel of the pages, the size and how it is coming together.  I also got a band to put around it for when it starts to get full.
How about you?  Planners make a difference in your life?  Got a favorite?  Share!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge, Book Three

ROD - The Autobiography.  By Rod Stewart

Front Cover
Back cover
I am counting this book as my "Book with a one-word title." It is 364 pages and was published in 2012.  

I have seen Rod Stewart in concert twice.  The first time was in 2009 with my daughter.  He was performing solo.  He did all his classics and the encore was "Maggie May."

The second time we saw him was in 2011.  It was the Heart and Soul tour with Stevie Nicks!  What a treat!  One of the songs they did together was "Leather and Lace" which is one of my all time favorites.  It reminds me of my hubby and I, opposites.  


Mr. Stewart is a avid soccer player and during both concerts he kicked autographed soccer balls into the crowd.  What a souvenir!  Hubby almost got one but it went into the sound mixer area and the attendant wouldn't give it to him.  On the Bart ride home, there were two people sitting close to us that had caught balls and they let us see them.

  There are quite a few of his songs that I particularly like and it will be interesting to see if he talks about them.  There are a lot of pictures in this book and I am looking forward to learning more about the story behind this singer.

This is my book three for the challenge.  So far I am right on track.  How about you?  Would love to hear about your books.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Putting up fences

The next step in the big backyard redo is a fence!  Every year for the past five or six years part of our fence had begun to lose more and more boards.

Hubby did the best he could trying to use whatever we had to help shore up the holes but during the last big storm, even those things started to fail.  We knew we could not wait much longer but the first step was to clear a path for the fencers to get to the backyard!

We called A1 Fence Company and they came out to put up a portion of the fence.  They are a local, family owned business, something we like to support!  We were surprised at how quickly it was done!  Within about 15 minutes our old fence was gone!

The whole thing took maybe 2 hours, including a gate that we asked to have added at the last minute.  Now we have a new redwood fence!  The piece of plywood is just one of our leftovers from the patch job we had been doing.  I'm sure we'll find a use for it!

First time in the 18 years we have been living here that we have actually had a back gate!

The transformations going on around here are spurring us to do more and more things!  You know I'll be sharing, cos that's just what I do!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge -- Book Two

For my second book I have chosen the category, "A book from your childhood."  I still have several books I read as a child but I'd have to say that one of my most favorite collections was the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene.  Reading Nancy Drew stories began my love affair with mystery books and led me to  Sherlock Holmes and my all time fave, Agatha Christie.

The first of the series were written in the 1930's and, interestingly, in doing a little research for this post, I discovered that there really was no Carolyn Keene!  The books were actually written by several different people under that pseudonym.  The first 56 books are considered to be the classics and most were written by Mildred Wirt Benson and Harriet Adams.  After that the series continued but there were some changes in the characters and a lot of different writers.

Love the cover of these old books!  

 Just opening the first pages brings back memories!

I have to say that I have not read ALL of the books.  I think I grew out of them.  I did save the set we had, the first six, and then I have 7 through 12 and even picked up a few odd ones here and there. I was hoping that my children would get into them but even though the girls are avid readers, neither one of them wanted to read Nancy Drew.

It will be interesting to re-read The Secret of the Old Clock again after all these years.  I wonder if I will be able to solve the mystery before Nancy this time!

Any body else reading their second book in the challenge?  I'd love to hear about it.  Leave me a comment!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Changes are Beginning!

Not quite as frequent posting as I'd like but I have to do my "real" job first and sometimes I just don't have enough hours in the day!

I mentioned that my word of the year was "CHANGE" and one of the vision cards I made was about our house.  Here is the first significant change...

Before:                                             After:

This is the side of our house.  As you can see, it was quite bushy!  You can't see that all along the side of the house ivy was growing.  So much so that it was actually pushing through the screen on some of the windows, trying to get in!  After the guys from Peninsula Hauling were through, we could see all the way through to the backyard and there were even some stone squares under all those weeds!

Down the path you come around the backyard here.  This was so covered with blackberry vines!  I love blackberries but I was never brave enough to trample through to pick them.  You can see the stone steps that were uncovered.  They will make a great new walkway!

Finally, this is the rest of the overgrowth.  There was a bottle brush bush in the very back corner.  I hate those things!  The vines and bushes were all tangled and twisted.  Three hard working guys from Peninsula Hauling came and rescued our backyard.  There is still more to be done but this is such a huge start!   

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Vision Cards for 2015

Last year I made three vision cards and I did really well with two of them.  Health, Home and Craft Business were the three I chose and I did manage to lose 25 pounds and started going to the gym (though not as much as I should have).  In my craft business, I registered the name "ASmile4UfromJanet" and joined an Etsy team here in the Bay Area to meet with other local artists and help promote our businesses.  You can read about those cards here.  I got the idea of Vision Cards from Jamie Ridler and you can find that here.  Jamie gives you a guided journey to help you find the areas that you would like to focus on for the year.  

This year, since I had not done much as far as the Home project went, I kept that and made more specific intentions for my wishes.


We have a fence in desperate need of repair and overgrown plants and weeds in the backyard, not to mention a blackberry bush that threatens to take over the house and ivy crawling up the side.  After we take care of those two things it is time to paint the house and replace the gutters.  Finally, if we can swing it, remodeling the front bathroom is next on the list.  

The other two, Health and Craft Business, are still on my mind for this year as well.  Here are those cards:

Continued work with the Hungry Girl Diet is definitely a priority.  It gets you off to a great start and is easy to follow.  Similar to Weight Watchers, portion control and healthy eating is key.  Good food and lots of it!  Easy to follow recipes as well.

My craft business is also something I want to grow, especially since my transcription business is so unpredictable.  Doing what you love never seems like work.  There are some new techniques that I want to try and I am hoping this blog will help as well. 

Finally, I'm adding a fourth card this year, Finances.  

As hubby and I get older and he is facing early retirement due to a disability, it is very important for us to get our financial future settled.  Thanks to our father (-in-law), and hubby's mother, we have been given a chance to pay off some outstanding debt and make our retirement plans look a little better. 

Tonight is the Full Wolf Moon and I am offering up my vision cards to the universe to help me fulfill my dreams.  What are you dreaming for?  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge, Book One

For our reading challenge I am starting with a book that I am using for the category:  "A book that you started but never finished."  Kind of cheating on this one since I have trouble reading two books at one time and this is a book that I am in the middle of reading at the moment, not something I have had sitting on the shelf.

The name of the book is "A Certain Justice" and it is by the author John Lescroart.  It is a story about a man who is caught in a situation where he is being accused of a murder he did not commit.  It is a racial thing, white man being accused of participating in the hanging of a black man.  Of course there are the expected political twists and there is the videotape of the incident, but the actions in question could be deceiving.  Was the white man pulling down on the black man to make him choke or was he pushing up to try to loosen the tightness of the rope so the black man could try to free himself?  Since I haven't finished it, I can't give away the ending but it has been quite interesting up to now.  I have about 100 pages to go.  

This book would qualify for the challenge in several different categories.  It is set in San Francisco, so I could use it as a book set in my hometown (although I am going to try to find a book for San Bruno), it is a mystery and it is more than 500 pages.

So, that's my first book in the challenge.  Hopefully I'll be able to finish it in a week!  What are you reading?  Love to hear about it.  Leave me a comment.  

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 Here we go!

Last year I had the intention of doing 365 jots because in 2013 I did 365 pictures and had a lot of fun.  I thought that 365 jots would be relatively easy since a jot is just a short note and I am on my computer all day working so I should be able to post something really quickly, right?  Not so.  I found that I was searching for things to write about, even though I had decided to give each day a theme.  I am thinking that maybe I limited myself by doing that and put too much pressure on finding a certain thing for a certain day.  Once I got a little behind, it was overwhelming for me to try to catch up.  I ended up with 173 jots which is not quite half way but it was still a fun experience and I'm not going to beat myself up about the fact that I didn't make it all the way through.  I learned a few things researching the jots and so I'll count that as a win.  You can read some of the jots here in my archives.  

This year I have a couple of projects in mind.  One of them is a reading challenge that I will be doing with my daughters and anyone else who wants to join along.  My daughter showed me the challenge because she was going to do it with one of her girlfriends and I decided I wanted to try as well.  I have a good start on the books because I got gift cards to Barnes and Noble for Christmas and I have several books already at home that will fit some of the categories.

The challenge we are following is from Popsugar and you can find it here:  To help me keep track, and just because it looks fun, I also registered on Goodreads.  So, I will be blogging about the books we are reading and how we are doing on the challenge.  There are 50 categories and one is a trilogy so that brings us to 52 weeks.  I am not sure if I can make a book a week but I think that one of the categories is a book that you can read in a day so that should be helpful!

The second thing I am going to try is the Power of Affirmations Workshop from Dale Anne Potter.  I've already written down my 52 affirmations and now I just need to get the cards prepped.  I'll be sharing my weekly affirmation card here as well.

If you'd like to join me on either of these two adventures, I'd love to have you.  Please feel free to leave me a comment and let me know how you are progressing.

What about you?  Plan any projects?