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December 31, 2007

2 Book Reviews: Chocolate Beach, A Dropped Stitches Christmas and a GIVEAWAY!!!!

UPDATE! Congrats to Abiga whose name came up the random drawing for this contest! I have contacted her to let her know she has won! Keep coming back. I hope to have at least one contest every week!

Okay, let's get the New Year started off right! I have read two books in the last few days and I really enjoyed them. So I am going to pass them on to one lucky reader (in addition to a third book that I haven't read....). Anyone is free to enter, but if you live outside of the United States, you would have to pay postage if you win. Wish I could afford the postage to send overseas, but my ship hasn't come in yet!

One winner will get all three books! This contest will end on January 9th at 6 pm. All you have to do is comment. If you want a second chance, then feel free to blog about my contest or about your favorite romantic moment and let me know so I can come read it!

So, what's available...

1st: I received this book in the mail on Saturday. It was part of an effort to get me to join the Love Inspired book club. I am swimming in books right now, so I am going to pass this book on. The book is a heartwarming inspirational romance by Irene Hannon. The title is Rainbow's End. It is part of the Love Inspired Series.

2nd: Another Love Inspired Book called A Dropped Stitches Christmas by Janet Tronstad. I won this book last month and I read it in just a few hours. It is a wonderful story about four women who have survived cancer and are working to find their way in the world after cancer. They help one another and as they move forward with their lives, they find love and they find God. This is an inspiring story that you are sure to love and it is hard to put down.

3rd: Chocolate Beach by Julie Carobini. I won this book a couple of weeks ago as part of a themed gift basket. It is a signed book and it is very good. I am hanging onto my other prizes that came in that basket, but I like to share good books.

The Chocolate Beach is the story of a woman who has it all, but then because she listens to others she starts to doubt that her life is as wonderful as it really is. She goes on to make huge changes, bites her nails as she worries about things that circumstantially appear to be prolematic, and she is trying to figure out what is going on with other people in her life. In the end, she learns that appearances can be very deceiving. This book was another one that was hard to put down and I am sure you will enjoy it!

So don't wait, sign up below...tell your friends and get an extra chance to win! Good luck!

New Habits for the New Year

New Habits in the New Year

5 Minutes for Mom will be sharing ideas about New Habits for the New Year and they will be offering giveaways right along with those suggestions. The fun begins January 1st and lasts until January 8th! Go check out their tips and join in the fun!

Do you have any New Year's Resolutions this year? I have some. I plan to lose weight. I plan to spend more time in The Word. I plan to get back to work reading my HTML books and web design books.

There are other things I need to improve of course, but I know if I try to change too many things at once, I will fail miserably. I hope that by keeping my goals for change to reasonable proportions, I will succeed.

What are your New Year's Resolutions?

December 30, 2007

Remodeling - One Room At A Time

We have lived in our home for 14 years. It is a doublewide and was not the best constructed doublewide in the world. We have raised four children in this home and had their friends come to visit. After time and wear, things need replacing and I have a list. I want to replace our crummy windows, first off. They are double paned, but they are hard to get to go up and down, they don't keep the cold in in the summer or out in the winter, and several of them are broken (they have these plastic things on springs that are supposed to help hold the windows in place when you raise them..they are broken on several windows). They are hard to clean because of the way they are constructed and most importantly, I worry about whether the kids could get out of their bedroom windows if they should have to in case of fire. I have told them to throw things through the windows and break the glass if necessary, but one always wonders...

After that, I would like to put down carpet in my den and dining room and living room. The areas are open to one another. We actually put in a wood floor in the dining and living room areas, but chairs sliding across it and hot wheels races have taken their toll on this parquet flooring. The carpet in the den hasn't been replaced since we move in and we can now see the stuff underneath the carpet threads where it has become threadbare.

Next I would want to re-side the house with aluminum (now it is some kind of press board/vinyl stuff I think) and put on those gutter covers so there wouldn't be anymore climbing on the roof to clean out the gutters.

Then, I would have to flip a coin between the kid's bathroom and the kitchen. The kids could use one of those new bathroom vanities, and a new toilet (their toilet bowl actually has signs of a crack in it, I think from years of plunging due to too much toilet paper). The tub is okay, but the shower hasn't worked in years because we once had a pipe break in that bathroom (bad pvc). They fixed what was under the house, but not what was in the wall, and we couldn't let the kids use the shower for fear of leaking into the wall (which had happened once before). It would be nice to get all of that straightened out so the kids could take a shower in their bathroom.

The main thing I would like for the kitchen if possible is more space. If a remodeler could do that, great, if not, new countertops are really the main thing I need. The formica covering or whatever it is called, has chipped off in places.

Then, once the inside is done, I would want to build a nice storage building outside and an exercise room to open up some of the space in our house...and I would like a concrete sidewalk from our front door to the driveway (we currently have a gravel walk and it is hard on heels). And I would like a large front porch.

Hmmm...one may wonder why we would do all of that remodeling instead of just moving. There are conveniences that I wish I was nearer too, but it is nice here. We have 10 acres of land. And we are at the point in our line where we are paying more principal than interest. We can do the remodeling as money becomes available and bask in our low house payments at the same time. So remodeling it is....A really big challenge for somewhere down the road is to redo the walls. We have painted and wallpapered over three of the rooms, but doing that over wallboard leaves a great deal to be desired. The wall board is textured, has spaces between each piece and in general causes problems. I think putting sheet rock over the wall oard, and then painting or wallpapering it would be the best way to tackle that job.

So, if you could do some remodeling, what would you tackle in your house?

Christmas #3 with Family And Friends Come to Visit

Yesterday we had our third Christmas celebration. This time with my dad and stepmother. They came to visit us for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. We were supposed to have Christmas with them last Sunday, but the weather was very poor for a long drive up Interstate 81, so we postponed until this week.

We had a lovely lunch when they arrived. While I was making some sandwiches, the children showed Dad and Dianne their Guitar Hero game and Katrina played on the piano some. After good food and conversation, Katrina was ready to open presents.

Jack got his belated birthday present: a large pack of Pokemon cards...you can never have enough of those things! And then it was all about Pirates. He got a cool action stage that he can use his POTC figures with. Will comes out of the vat of water, Elizabeth swings on a moving beam, and Jack Sparrow can blow up the hut with fireworks. Okay, Jack was there at the beginning of the POTC 3 movie, but it's our house, so we can play the way we want to. He also got the Chinese guys pirate ship, a POTC jigsaw puzzle, pencils and candy. Katrina's theme was Hannah Montana and she was thrilled! A Hannah Montana doll and Hannah Montana's backstage closet...what more could a 7 year old want? She also got a Shrek coloring book, pencils and candy.

Daniel and I were given food for the birds (Dad gets a good deal on the food and I love to feed the birdies). We got a 3 disc set of Country Gospel songs and they gave us a gift card to Walmart...which I am looking foward to using!

We gave them books this year. I had found some humourous Appalachian books and a book on Angling for my dad (The Angling book is very cool as it has photos of scenes that probably doen't exist anymore, from back in the 50s and 60s. I gave my stepmother 4 different cookbooks. One on cooking wild game, one on making gourmet preserves, one on vegetables (growing them and preparing them), and one with some Florida cooking. The first three were ones that go along with her current cooking habits. The last one was a lark. There was a pirate on the front and what can I say? I love pirates:)

Today, Jack and Katrina have friends visiting from church and spending the night. They are a bit cooped up in our house as it is pouring down rain outside, but otherwise they seem okay. It is very important to me that my children have friends come to visit. When I was growing up, having friends come over seemed to require an act of congress on my part. Mom just wasn't up for the kid visits. Overall, Mom wasn't really much into kids. If my dad had had his way, there would have been a bunch or brother's and sister's for me, but my mom felt one was enough. I vowed that when I grew up, I wanted to have the house on the block where the kids came to play. You know...like in those Kool-aid commercials, where the big pitcher came busting through the fence while the kids were all playing in the yard? So I am enjoying the children playing and the occasional tiff I have to referee in. All is right with the world!

Relocation Assistance for Military Personnel

If you or someone you know is in the military, you might want to check out GMAC Real Estate for military relocation assistance. Relocation to a new Permanent Duty Station generally occurs every three years.

Whether relocating stateside or overseas, there are some questions you should consider.

  • Should I live on base or off base?
  • Is buying or renting near post the best option?
  • Will I or my family be a good fit for the military housing community?
  • Does the civilian community welcome military families?
  • What about schools, church, a job for my spouse?

GMAC has articles to help you research the answers to these questions and make the best choice for your next move. They also have professionals readily available to assist you in the process of relocating. Moving is stressful enough under normal situations, but when your job rquires it to be done frequently, the extra help is a blessing.

Hoax? April Fool's Joke? Or Best Kept Secret?

My husband knows I love interesting animal stories, so when he saw this one on DIGG about a 5,000 pound Devilfish (Giant Manta Ray) captured back in 1934, he sent it on to me.

This article came from the April, 1934 edition of Modern Mechanix. My first thought was WOW!. And I am aware that huge creatures live in the depths of the ocean such as the colossal squid. which is probably the source of the Kraken legend. But as I read the comments on this particular story, I got to wondering if this story accurate. One astute reader pointed out it was in the April edition...so perhaps it was an April Fool's joke.

So I went searching for the truth....

Ripley's Believe It Or Not, Snopes, and The Guiness World Book of Records all came up empty. Nada, Nothing! You would think that information about a 5000 pound Manta Ray would be there somewhere!

So then I checked out information on Manta Rays...

According to this information from an educational website. Baby mantas are hard to find, but they seem to be 4 feet across on average, much larger than the 18 inch baby shown in the photo.

According to this site, mantas do sometimes get tangled in anchor lines. Since they are only equipped for forward movement, they can reverse to extricate themselves. This article also says:

The largest recorded manta was taken off the coast of India. It measured 22 feet tip-to-tip and weighed in excess of two tons.
India is a long way from the coast of New Jersey. Also, most articles I have read, say the rays tend to feed at about 100-150 feet, not rarely coming up from the depths of the ocean as is stated in the article (but that could be ignorance of the time.

According to Wikipedia, the largest ever captured weighed 5000 pounds, but it doesn't give any other information which seems a bit suspicious to me. There is an alert at the top of the page that states some references and foot notes are missing. Articles also place manta rays in areas of tropical waters or temperate waters. I am not sure that the waters off of the New Jersey coast would qualify as temperate waters.

Other questions I have are...is it possible to shoot underwater using a rifle? I simply do not know. The article says the manta was put on exhibition, but does not say where, nor can I find any other reference to this remarkable creature! I can't imagine it not being found.

And then there is the question of why this article would have been in Modern Mechanix. Seems like an odd place for it to be written about.

So, there's where my research leads me...lots of questions, not many answers....What do you think?

December 29, 2007

Homeschool Carnival Call of Graphics

The Carnival of Homeschooling was begun by the Cates at Why Homeschool two years ago! Time sure does fly when you are having fun!

In honor of the longevity and sheer numbers of participants and visitors that check out the Carnival of Homeschooling each week, Henry and Janine are sponsoring a Graphics Contest. They are looking for a graphic for the Homeschool Carnival and they want you to give them some options. This contest has a couple of stages to it and by clicking the Graphics Contest link you can find out exactly how it is laid out.

Just think - your inspired artwork could be seen by hundreds each week! Is that cool or what?

Good luck!

December 28, 2007

A Prayer That Reminds Us To Not Be Judgmental

I received this prayer in my email box today and I found it to be a great reminder. I hope you will too.

Heavenly Father, Help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in
traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day
and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the
laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.

Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young
man who can't make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college
student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of
not getting his student loans for next semester.

Remind us, Lord, that the person begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) has a history that we know nothing about.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow
through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are
savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she
got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping

Heavenly Father , remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give
us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love
with those we hold d dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are
close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick
to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

Working for God on earth doesn't pay much......but His retirement
plan is out of this world

"Doomsday Vault" Protects Against Crop Extinction

Did you know that seeds from the foods we eat are being saved in seed banks around the world so that in the event of a catastrophic event, we will be able to start anew? But these seed banks may not just save us in the event of a catastrophe, they may keep lesser used species from being lost and these lesser used species may save us from other problems.

For example, did you know that 70% of today's fresh water usage is used for agricultural purposes? When I read that I was floored! I mean, think of the water we drink, the showers, the baths, the car washes and the swimming pools and the laundry...and all of that adds up to only 30% of the fresh water use? That amazes me!

Some of these lesser used species don't require as much water, so they may come in handy for changing our current crops and decreasing our freshwater usage (I'll be honest, I am very concerned about the decreasing levels of freshwater available around the world as creeks and lakes and rivers get lower and lower).

Another way, these seed banks are eing utilized is that they are now going to be keep the seeds from the top 10 % of endangered plants in the world. Hopefully, that number will continue to grow. I wonder how long the seeds stay viable. The article didn't say.

December 27, 2007

Product Review: Dawn Direct Foam

The makers of Dawn Direct Foam were kind enough to send me a full size sample of this new product. I received it a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't get a sponge until today. To use Dawn Direct Foam, you need to use a sponge. I am a dishcloth user. I have never taken to sponges for my dishes. Don't ask me why, it's just my preference. So today, I finally remembered to get a sponge so I could try out this new product.

The directions with this product are to dampen a sponge, squeezing out the excess water and start washing. You are to use the water for rinsing only. And you don't want to get the sponge too wet, you should only dampen it a bit to get more bubbles out of it. First off, this is so totally alien to me...I have been putting some soap in my sink, running it full of water and washing dishes for over 25 years. But I was game to give it a try.

First I got all of my dishes together. These are our dishes from today. I generally only wash once a day unless a lot of cooking is going on. As you can see there were only a couple of handfuls of silverware, four glasses, four bowls, about 5 or 6 plates, one cookie sheet, and four tupperware containers. Not too much.

I put water in the sink, wet my sponge, squeezed it out, then used my Dawn Direct Foam and pumped out one pump. What I got was a little bit bigger around than a quarter and mayabe a quarter of an inch high...Not very impressive. The white blog is the Dawn Foam...sorry, my camera is not the best. But note the quarter for comparison of size.

So I began to wash...having to fight my urge to dip the sponge into my sink that was half full of water. At first I used that water for rinsing...thinking, hey, this is a great way to save on water. But then I realized it was getting dirty quick and with no soap in there to help keep the dirt from my dishes, I was quickly back to rinsing from the tap as normal. I also wasn't crazy about how the dirt from the silverware was on the sponge...yuck! I got through the silverware and the glasses and then I had to rinse the spongs and there were no more bubbles!

So I went for squirt number two. Same size. This squirt got me through the bowls, plates and most of the tupperware. But When I got to the greasy casserole dish, cookie sheet and leftover manwich container, another squirt was required. But finally the dishes were done (aren't they pretty!).

So...it took three pumps to get my dishes done. If you evaluate the fact that Dawn's statement says one pump will get a sinkful of dishes done, then it does indeed do that job. If you thought that one pump would get all of your dishes done. It doesn't cut the mustard. It also doesn't really save anything in the water department or on time. I guess it saves on how much dish detergent would be needed. But if I need to use on average 3 pumps a day and it really does have 250 pumps in it, that's about 80 days worth of dish detergent. That would defintely last longer than my normal dish detergent does, but then today was a light day of dishes, so I am not sure it would last longer or not.

It smells good. It got my dishes clean. I wasn't overwhelmed with the foam from my one pump, but it was okay. It reminds me of my body wash and I love that stuff. Where a little dab goes a long way!

So on a scale of one to ten I give it a five. I might like it better if it didn't seem so foreign to me. I do think it delivers on exactly what it says and if you think you would only use 3 or 4 pumps a day, it would definitely be a money saver!

Gloom, Despair and Agony On Me...

When I was growing up, we watched Hee Haw every Saturday night. Roy Rogers, Buck Owens, Grandpa Jones, Lily Tomlin...they all entertained us for an hour each week. They had several regular skits each week including when several of them are sitting out on the front porch of a shack singing

Gloom, despair and agony on me...
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery.
If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all
Gloom, despair and agony on me!

Now as I was growing up, when we had a bad day, Mom and I would sing this song ina pick me up kind of way. Today, I am trying to use that age old remedy to pick myself up a bit.

You see, Daniel is working in Illinois after being between contracts for 6 months. This is great, but we don't expect payment until the end of January as he has his own business and it usually takes 30-45 days for the first payment to be processed. If the rest of the world would stop and things wouldn't break, we would muddle through. But to add to the stress of just trying to keep things going, things are falling apart around us...things that if he had been working all along we could have addressed as they happened. But now, they have piled up into a huge pile!

1. My dryer needs a new heating element. It will dry clothes, but I have to run it through two cycles.
2. My freezer leaks from the ice maker and once a week, I have to break up the ice in the bottom of the freezer or it leaks out.
3. Our Jeep has been in the shop since last spring. It took them a couple of months to figure out what was wrong and once they did, we had to hold off repairing it until Daniel's next contract.
4. Our Suburban needed to be inspected last month, but we don't drive it much, so we are holding off on that. It will also have expired license plates after the end o fthis month.
5. Personal property taxes haven't been paid (whose dumb idea was it for them to be due the beginning of December?)
6. Daniel was attacked by a deer a couple of months ago and he lost one of his headlights. The dent needs to be fixed and the headlight housing needs to be replaced. And his car is losing copious amounts of oil.
7. My car is losing oil and apparently has a cracked head gasket (water mixing with oil) We are just driving it as long as it will go.
8. And then today...to add insult to injury and make me want to sing the gloom, despair, and misery song...our furnace/heat pump has decided to go on the fritz.

I went back to the washroom and noticed that the heat pump was running and the temperature was reading 76 degrees. Now, it was less than 50 outside and we keep our temps set with a low of 68 and a high of 72. So the temperature was an immediate red flag. I stood over the vent and warm air was pouring out. Our heat pump was connected into our electric furnace. It doesn't run withouth the furnace and the furnace has decided no matter what the temperature is inside, that it should run... I am sure this is a switch or thermostat issue and at least it is blowing hot air in the winter time instead of hot air in the summer time...

but what can I say, but Gloom, Despair and Agony on me.....

Crying does no good, but blogging is therapeutic!

Or maybe I should try the pie in the face approach!

I guess as long as I am not seeing dancing pink pigs, I am doing okay!

December 26, 2007

Christmas Day

When I was a kid, I loved the fact that holidays never ended on the particular holiday. They often stretched out for a couple of weeks or more. My grandparents lived about 3 hours away, so we would have our Christmas or birthday at home and then there was always more Christmas or birthday when we went to see them. So, even though the day of Christmas is over, I still have to get together with my mom and stepdad and my dad and stepmom for our Christmas celebrations...so there are still fun gift giving times ahead.

We had a lovely Christmas yesterday. The kiddies were up at 6 and I couldn't get them to go back to sleep (can you believe I even tried?) Well, we all got up and by 6:30 were ready to open presents. Katrina's favorite gifts were a really cute purple dress and purse from her grandmother, boots and a guitar from Santa. She strongly resembles Hannah Montana now! Jack got Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii which is a favorite gift for him and Daniel, Jack and Katrina are loving Guitar Hero III. I got some very cute and much needed pajamas and sweat pants. One pair of pajamas has sock monkeys on it and another pair has pandas on it. I love my warm, cozy pajamas.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

I Won Goodies from Hotel Chocolat...ummmmm

Today I received a gift that I won from The Sassy Southerner and Hotel Chocolat.

My new friend at The Sassy Southerner told me this was some of the best chocolate in the world, and after having sampled it today, I have to agree...it just melts in your mouth and chases all your after Christmas blues away!

Here is the box...

Inside the box is lots of packing bubbles and I put the pamphlet here that was on the outside of the box. It tells the story of Hotel Chocolat. (Please note my restraint here as I manage to take these pictures for your viewing pleasure before ripping into the box!)

Ahh...the agony of proper packaging...when will I ever find the goodies inside????

Isn't it beautiful?

And here is the rest of my goodies.

Now...I could show you a picture of the perfect bliss I experienced as I sampled my gift...but since I try to keep this a family friendly blog, you'll just have to use your imagination!

If there is a chocolate lover in your household, I can recommend Hotel Chocolat for your future chocolate purchases. Don't forget Valentine's Day is right around the corner (as if one needs an excuse to buy chocolate!)

Product Review: Oil of Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

I was sent a small sample of this product to try. Personally, it didn't do a whole lot for me. I could tell it was moisturizing, by the way the skin under my eye and on my hand felt after applying it. But I didn't see much difference. Perhaps I don't need that much 'firming' up yet. I was a bit confused as to whether the wrinkles were supposed to become less noticeable or the skin was supposed to become 'firm' looking, but either way, I didn't see these results.

It was easy to remember to apply it. I put it on twice a day when I brushed my teeth! This product may work for you and it is much more reasonably priced than other products that promise similar benefits. But if it doesn't help, don't blame me. If you want to read other reviews, check out Vocalpoint.

Movie Review: The Angel Doll

Katrina and I just finished watching the movie: The Angel Doll based on a book of the same name by Jerry Bledsoe. This story is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. It will take you back in time to a period when children had paper routes and camped out for fun and when the greatest gift in the world was a bicycle. This is the story of a child who grows up in poverty, but is rich in friends and rich in his persistence. His father has died and his mother has a hard time making ends meet. His little sister has polio and he does all he can to make her life as happy as he can.

His sister has a thing for angels and her favorite story is The Littlest Angel (which happens to be one of my favorite Christmas stories). He wants to get her an angel doll for Christmas and has to overcome some huge obstacles to do this. This movie will warm your heart, make you laugh, make you long for a simpler (even if more challenging) time and will fill you with love. There is the orginal book which has been made into a movie and then there is a sequel called A Gift of Angels. I am going to use a gift card I got for Christmas to add these books to our Christmas collection.

Book Review and Giveaway! A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman

UPDATE: Six days have passed and I haven't heard from Kitty, so I used the number generator and Julie Lessman's debut novel. A Passion Most Pure is 477 pages of romance, passion, war, mismatched love, God, family, laughter, tears and rivalries.

This is one of the longer romance novels I have read. And I honestly found it a bit slow in the beginning when the author was setting up the characters and the scene. But once I got hooked, I had a hard time putting it down. I soon felt part of this Irish family and I wanted to know how things were going to turn out. Being an only child, I have always been intrigued by the love and relationships of large families. I also enjoy reading historical novels and this novel that takes place before the 1920s and during WWI not only contains a tale of love, passion, and devotion to God, but I enjoyed reading the historical references.

Faith is devoted to God and does her best to follow His Word. Her sister, Charity, is young, full of herself and on a path to destruction, not just for herself but for all of those around her. Charity and Faith's parents do their best to model a godly and loving relationship, to help their children make the right decisions and to intervene when necessary. And as if life wasn't full of enough curve balls, America enters WWI and the O'Connor family's life is turned upside down.

This story is full of rich and believeable characters struggling with things that you and I struggle with in our lives. This is a well-written inspirational story of love and passion that will leave you anxious to read the next ook in the series.

And today is your lucky day! I believe I mentioned a giveaway... Well, I have one very gently read copy of A Passion Most Pure to give to one lucky reader! (Sorry, but this is open to United States Readers only unless you would like to pay the postage to have this book shipped overseas.)

All you have to do is comment below and tell me where Julie Lessman lives with her family and beloved golden retriever. I will draw names on January 2nd at 6 pm!

Movie Review: The Reaping

Last night Daniel and I enjoyed watching one of his Christmas presents: The Reaping on DVD. I like a good scary movie, but good scary movies are hard to find. Modern day movie makers often seem to think that to be scary, a movie has to be gross and disgusting. So it is always with trepidation that I sit down to watch a 'scary movie'.

We dimmed the lights, sent the kids off to play in the playroom and settled in with fingers crossed. I can't tell you about the story, because I don't want to give away what is going on. But it involves the 10 plagues, a southern bayou, and God and evil. Give it a try. If you enjoy a good scary story, you will enjoy this one.

December 24, 2007

Disposable Medical Express - Delivers Medical Supplies Right to Your Door

With age comes indignities. Our bodies stop functioning as well as they used to. We don't heal as quickly as we used to. We get more aches and pains. We walk more slowly. We can't carry as much. And we are more prone to those...um embarrassing accidents. Women, in particular, have problems with incontinence as muscles loose their strength and mobility. Disease and paralysis can also affect this issue. If you or someone you know suffers from incontinence, don't be embarrassed. You can discreetly order incontinence supplies online. And you can do some google searches for exercises you can do to help combat this problem. Don't let age hold you back from what you want to do.

I've Been Carded Meme

Laura at Laura Williams' Musings tagged me for this Carded Meme. I am always looking for fun blogging material and with the extra twist on this, I couldn't resist. I strongly believe in the power of prayer and I think this is a wonderful way we can support one another.

Ronie Kendig altered this CARDED meme to include a Spiritual Wish list so we can know how to pray for each other, both spiritually and physically. Isn’t that a great idea?


1. Each player starts with 5 gifts that they would want for Christmas.
2. People who are "CARDED" need to write their own Blog about their 5 things & post these rules.
3. At the end of your Blog, you need to choose 5 people to get "CARDED" and list their names.
4. Don't forget to leave them a COMMENT telling them they're "CARDED", and to read your Blog.

My Materialistic Gift/Wish List:

1. A new used car to replace mine since it has 180,000 miles and it needs a new engine.
2. Carpet for my den/dining room/living room area
3. New windows that insulate better (we live in a doublewide...bad windows)
4. An exercise bike so I can exercise without hurting my knee
5. To pay off our mortgage

My Spiritual Gift/Wish List:
1. Discipline to maintain a prayer journal and Bible reading time.
2. To stop worrying so much and trust God more.
3. To put God first and seek his will for my life
4. To show my love for my family and friends better and not get so wrapped up in my own problems.
5. More "bravery" to testify about what God had done for me. I get nervous.

I am supposed to tag five others, but most of my bloggy friends are taking off for the holidays and I don't want to add a burden. So if you have read this and feel like sharing your wish lists, please let me know. I will pray that God will work in your life and I appreciate your prayers on my behalf.

My Daughter Wants a Tent

I have never ever been camping before in my life. My husband and I almost went once back in the mid 1990s. We borrowed a tent, but in the end, we ended up spending one night in a lovely bed and breakfast and one night in a Holiday Inn. A couple of years later, we made preparations for camping out. We bought a tent, sleeping bags, those egg crate things for under the sleeping bags. We put the tent up in the back yard...it was a really nice one. The kids had fun playing in it. But we didn't realize that we should do something to it to protect it from the elements. It was nylon and one day during a storm, the tent was torn to pieces by the wind.

This year my daughter spent some money she had saved up on a tent. Foolishly we got the nylon kind again. It wasn't up long, but there was a lot of work going on in our yard and we had to keep moving it around and then we got it set up where we wanted it and a terrific windstorm came through and broke the poles that held it up! She wants another tent, next time we will go for a canvas tent with stronger poles and we will find out what we need to do to the material to protect it.

Who knows, maybe once we get the tent thing figured out, we will actually go camping!

The Day Before the Day!

Here we are...the final day before the big day! The kids are getting very anxious about the thought of getting up tomorrow morning and filling our home with wrapping paper!

Yesterday we were supposed to go to have Christmas with my Dad and stepmother and then enjoy a meal with my dad's family. But the weather was very bad...heavy rain and fog and the trip is 3 hours each way, part of which takes us over Interstate 81 which is a mess these days. With my car confined to local trips until we work out it's engine problems and Daniel's car confined to mostly daylight driving due to the headlight that got knocked out by a deer and we haven't had the money to have fixed yet, we had to stay home.

I will get to see my dad next weekend when he and Dianne come down to the cabin he owns in Bedford County. So we prolonged Christmas a bit. That's okay! While we were home, the kids and I played Mario Party 8 on the Wii I read a very good book (that I will be reviewing and giving away soon). Daniel and I watched the Bourne Identity and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. And Daniel made chex mix for us all to enjoy. A nice relaxing day.

Today will be more of the same. Right now Daniel and I are watching a movie called The Sentinnel with Michael Douglas and Kiefer Sutherland. Other movies on our agenda today are A Christmas Story, The Grinch, and The Year Without a Santa Claus. And maybe the Bourne Supremacy. I am going to cook our ham today and make our Christmas Quiche for tomorrow. I don't want to cook early in the morning, so I will fix it today and heat it up tomorrow.

I look ahead at our calendar and it is a beautiful sight! The only thing between now and January 1st is a birthday sleepover for Katrina on Friday night and Jack will be working at the Daily Bread with the youth group on Friday morning. And of course we will see Dad and Dianne on Saturday.

Days here without running...without things to do...ahhh...more books in my future!

December 23, 2007

Hands On Tools - The Site for All of Your Tool Needs!

My dad is a carpenter. He also does a fair amount of work on his vehicles. He has a huge variety of tools to keep up with. And without proper tool storage he would never be able to find anything. How do I know? Well, because proper tool storage is sadly lacking in our own home. My husband is a computer guy. He does know which end of the hammer to use and he done a few mechanical jobs like bleeding the brakes on his Jeep Scrambler, but all in all, he and tools don't often come into contact with each other.

He has about three sets of wrenches because he buys one for something he needs, he uses it, then he puts it away and can't remember where it was he put it away, so then he has to buy a new set...of course, then he immediately finds the first set. Whether you have a tool challenged husband like I do or a tool afficianado like my dad, the Hands on Tool website is a great place to fill all of your tool needs! Plus, if you sign up as a member, you can get free shipping and all kinds of exclusive offers and rewards.

December 22, 2007

Three More Days to Go...What Are You Doing?

Daniel and the children left about 3 hours ago to brave the holiday throng of last minute shoppers so they could purchase some gifts for their favorite person...ME!

So, you may be wondering what I have been doing with my solitude. Reading a good book? Watching a chick flick? Staring misty-eyed at the Christmas tree? HA! I wish!

I have been up since 7:30. I spent a couple of hours reading the news, catching up with some emails and doing some 'internal' work on my blog. Then after a yummy egg and tomato sandwich, I set to work on the cookies that I have been putting off doing...my grandma's molasses cookies! I love these cookies. They are one of my favorite Christmas cookies, but they take hours to make. The mixing alone can take an hour (for an old slow person like me) because you mix up the liquid ingredients and then you add up to five pounds of flour until the dough is the right consistency (not too sticky to work with, not too stiff so the cookies will e dry). Then there is the rolling and cutting out of the cookies...and with 5 pounds of flour, you know there are a lot of cookies to make! I started on the cookies about 9:30 and finished at 2. But they are soooo yummy!

While cookies were baking, I tackled some other items. I wrapped a couple of gifts that Daniel got for the kids. I did three loads of laundry. I made Bing Cherry Jell-o Salad...What? You've never heard of it? Well, check out this yummy recipe! There is still time to add it to your Christmas Day meal!

Bing Cherry Jell-o Salad With Coca-Cola


1 can (12 fluid oz) Coca-Cola (I used the cherry flavored)
1 can (16.5 oz ) pitted Bing Cherries
1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple with juice
1 package (6 oz) black cherry flavored jell-o
1 cup chopped pecans


Drain pineapple, discard juice. Drain the cherries and save their juice. In a saucepan combine the reserved cherry juice and the coke. Heat until boiling, then stir in the gelatin. Mix until gelatin is dissolved.

Remove from the heat and stir in the drained pineapple, drained cherries and chopped pecans. Pour into a jell-o mold sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray and refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving.

My mom actually made this for me as a kid, but when I was looking for the recipe yesterday, I couldn't find it. Fortunately, it was on the internet (what on earth did we do before the internet?)

I also started supper...my veggie soup. Nothing hard, but filling and yummy.

Melissa's Veggie Soup
(today anyway)

1 pound stew beef
1 onion
minced garlic to taste
2 24 oz cans diced tomatoes with green peppers
1 can of tomato sauce
1 can of water
2 lbs of frozen mixed veggies
Other seasonings to taste (I am still working on this part), I used to use a soup starter, but I can't find it anymore).

Brown the beef, onion, and garlic, Drain the grease. Add the other ingredients, stir and simmer all afternoon. Serve with yummy rolls...

So, now I have cooked, laundered, wrapped presents...and the house is still quiet and all mine.. A book and the tub are calling, so I will chat with you later...CALGON...take me away!

December 21, 2007

National Geographic - Preserve Our Planet

Tonight we were watching The Dog Whisperer on National Geographic. An interesting show though the skeptic in me wonders if these people really follow through with what Cesar suggests for them. But that is not the topic of this post. During a commercial, I learned of an offshoot sight that National Geographic is running. It is called Preserve Our Planet. This site has a Green Guide with tips on how you can help the environment. It also has information on global warming. And a listing of Environmental Topics in alphabetical order.

If the topic of the Environment interests you, you will definitely want to spend some time on this site.

One of those "Duh" Headlines/Research Projects

Check out this headline: A High Price for Healthy Food...it turns out researchers at the University of Washington did a survey that showed healthier foods cost more and that people on limited incomes tended to stock up on high calorie, inexpensive items! Hmmm...wonder how much they paid for that survey?

The survey found that higher-calorie, energy-dense foods are the better bargain for cash-strapped shoppers. Energy-dense munchies cost on average $1.76 per 1,000 calories, compared with $18.16 per 1,000 calories for low-energy but nutritious foods.

I didn't realize the difference was that great! WOW! The article goes on to say that fruits and veggies are becoming a luxury item...I think meat is too.

So, is this news to you or had you already figured it all out? And how do you get your fruits and veggies in?

Never Say Never...The Lesson I DIDN'T Learn from Sean Connery

In 1971, Sean Connery played James Bond in the film Diamonds Are Forever, and when filming was done, he said he would never play the character of James Bond again. But in 1983, he took on the role again in the film, Never Say Never, Again. It is said the title of the movie resulted from Sean's previous statement that he would never act the character of James Bond again.

Seems like I could take my knowledge of his mistake and not make the same mistake again. And if Sean's example wasn't enough, perhaps, the fact that every year I fall into this same trap, seems like it would clue me in. But nope...I am a very slow learner!

Last weekend, I went shopping with Daniel for the kids. Then on Tuesday I went to the grocery store and I shopped with the plan of not setting food inside of a store again before the first of the year...Hey! What are you laughing at? I really meant it...I was done with the crowds, the driving to town...all of it! I was going to enjoy the holidays and stay far, far away from the others!

And Wednesday, I was home...watching movies, knitting, blogging...ahhhhh, the holidays had arrived...

Alas, on Thursday, I had to go to town not once, but twice! First I had to go in the morning to take Jack to the doctor and to the pharmacy for his medicine (this was instead of having Christmas time with my mom and stepfather and instead of going to a 4-H meeting - not exactly a fun trade-off). Then I had to go back out in the afternoon to pick Daniel up from the airport. His mom had borrowed the car when she was here from Florida and she was going to leave it at the airport but was concerned when the check engine light came on and she left it here instead. So now, I am done, right? Nope, not quite!

Today I left at 9. I had to go back to CVS to work out some insurance issues. Plus I was looking for a sling for Daniel who managed to severely strain a muscle in his right arm this week lugging around his heavy luggage (I told him he needs to pack lighter). I went to four different stores searching for an arm sling, but apparently there has been a strong need for this or the arm sling factory is closed for the winter because everyone was OUT! I also had two other stops to make, but they are related to a Christmas present that I can't talk about, so no detail on those at present.

I had to go by a neighbor's and borrow an air compressor so I could come home, inflate Daniel's rear tire which had gone completely flat after my MIL had returned it. Then I drove it to the near by garage (hoping that the air I heard hissing out wouldn't disappear before I arrived). While the tire was getting plugged, I was invited to join in on their goodie day. They had brought in sandwiches, cheeseball, etc for the employees and customers. That was pleasant!

So now I am home and I don't have to go out anymore until after the first of the year...well, at least not to stores...right? RIGHT????

December 20, 2007

Fluorescent Kitties

Katrina saw these glowing kitties and said I had to share this picture with you, faithful reader!

National Geographic Top Ten Stories and Photos of 2007

As the year winds down, everyone gets busy making their top 10 lists or top 50 list or top 100 lists depending on what their preference is. We always have to come up with the best of the best of the worst of the worst because it helps us to encapsulate what happened during the year. National Geographic is no different! Earlier I shared their top ten news photos...I guess that category was great photos with top news stories? Here I will share the links for what they have picked for their top ten stories and top ten photos of 2007.

Top Ten Stories of 2007 A dinosaur "mummy," mass plague graves in Venice, and a stone box that might have held Jesus' remains were just some of the blockbuster stories covered this year by National Geographic News. Personally, the number one story of 2007 has me the most intrigued and still waiting to hear more.

Mars Melt Hints at Solar, Not Human, Cause for Warming, Scientist Says (February 28, 2007) Simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars suggests that our planet's recent climate changes have a natural—and not a human-induced—cause, according to a controversial theory.

Top Ten Photos of 2007 Just like with the top ten news photos, I have posted several of these top photos on my blog in the past year! Yeah me! The strange owl from Peru, new leopard species, the smiling bird in Columbia, the Goblin Shark, The Giant Squid, the 100 year old Rockfish, and the Colossal Squid. Somehow I missed the photo of the crocodile that had bit off the vet's hand and forearm! YIKES!

Prehistoric National Geographic Headlines

I have been so busy with the holidays and my mother-in-law's visit and sickness that I hve gotten a bit behind on reading my National Geographic stories. So here are some that I perused today that have to do with prehistoric findings which I thought were interesting.

Giant Dino Discovered in Antarctica

An artist's rendition of Glacialisaurus hammeri. Scientists recently identified the giant dino more than a decade after its fossilized foot, ankle, and leg bones were first discovered some 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) up the face of Mount Kirkpatrick. Tipping the scales at six tons and measuring some 25 feet (7.6 meters) long, Glacialisaurus belonged to a group of dinos called sauropodomorphs that were the largest to have ever walked the Earth, scientists say.

Prehistoric Armored Mammal Found in Chile

The bones for this animal were found 3 years ago. They weren't recognized as a different animal right away. Relatives of the modern armadillo, glyptodonts were clumsy, bizarre-looking mammals covered with thick, immovable plates. The study of these bones will give scientist information about the evolution of this species and the geography and climate that they lived in.

Ancient Meat-Eating Fungus Found Trapped in Amber

An ancient flesh-eating fungus that preyed on tiny animals has been found preserved inside a hundred-million-year-old lump of amber, scientists report. Poor worm didn't stand a chance between the flesh eating fungus and the drop of resin!

"Giant Skeletons" Fuel Web Hoax

It's amazing what you can do with a good photo editing program!

Happy Birthday, Jack!

11 years ago today my firstborn, Jack, came a bit reluctantly into the world. You can read about my most special Christmas gift in my previous post as part of the Holiday Bundle Giveaway.

For his whole 11 years on this planet, my son has been a blessing to all who have known him. He is sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. He is great at playing with, watching over and entertaining younger children. Though he and his sister squabble from time to time, her best interests is often on his mind. He worries about her when we lose sight of her at the store for instance. And when I was Christmas shopping, he was pointing out things to me that he thought she would really enjoy.

From the time he was born (after the first few difficult days which were beyond his control), he has been the most easy going child I have raised. When he was a baby, he didn't sleep much, but when he was awake, he was happy to play by himself for periods of time. He loved the exersaucer and those hanging toys when he was lying on the floor. He never got into cat food or trash or pulled things off of shelves. His sister, in contrast, did all of that!

Jack is intelligent. He loves to read. He is in his fifth year of piano and enjoys playing soccer. He is also an understanding and sweet kid. We are having to hold off getting his birthday gift until late January or February due to finances, but he isn't complaining or moaning. Today, he has strep throat so instead of going to his grandma's and getting his birthday and Christmas gifts and instead of going to 4-H where we were going to share cupcakes with the other 4-Hers...he is sitting on the sofa playing Star Wars Legos and not complaining about this rotten turn of luck.

I could go on and on about my son, But I'll hush now and share some of my favorite photos.

Jack enters the new world... doesn't look real happy about it does he?

Jack at 3 months old...that smile was melting hearts at an early age.

6 months old and still smiling...excuse the drool!

Here he is at 1 year old. I loved those soft fuzzy overalls. This is one of my most favorite pictures...the smile, the eyes...adorable!

Jack at 3. Because of having a winter birthday, his pictures always have winter and Christmassy themes, except for one year when I had the kids pictures made in the summer for fun.

Now he is five. He was a little big for the horse, but his sister got to sit on it and he thought it only fair that he get to sit on it too.

Jack was 7 when this photo was taken. I love it though I couldn't tell you exactly why. It just seemed to 'look like him' more casual.

Here's Jack at age 8 and looking like a superstar soccer player!

This picture was taken shortly before Jack turned 10 and right before he slimmed down and shot up about 6 inches!

And here he is today. Smiling in spite of the pain in his throat. Happily covered up on the living room sofa and playing Star Wars Legos.

Happy Birthday, son! You make me proud!

Potential For Big San Francisco Quake in the Next 30 Years

Is it time to be thinking abou moving from the west coast? The Hayward Fault, which runs under Oakridge and San Francisco has a 45-75% chance of letting loose in the next 30 years. This fault, which has recently been discovered to be longer than previously thought has a history of quaking about every 170 years. This October will see the 140th anniversary of the last big quake on this line which occured in 1868.

Though the 1868 quake was eclipsed by the 1906 San Francisco quake (which was related to the San Andreas fault), it still caused plenty of damage and with 100 times more people living in that region now than there were 140 years ago, the results of such a quake would no doubt be catastrophic. Scientists believe the quake would probably be a magnitude of 7. Due to building code changes, there is a high probability of survival of the quake, but experts predict life would not be easy and people should be prepared.

The ground under us is one of the most unpredictable of natural disasters. Even if a quake can be predicted, it is going to be a hard thing to get people out of harm's way and I believe that due to the population growth in earthquake prone areas, the ensuing disaster would make the fallout after Hurricane Katrina look like a walk in the park.

And for my East coast readers who are breathing a sigh of relieve about being far away from earthquake territory...I hate to burst your bubble, but you need to think again! You should check out the information about the New Madrid Faultline.

The New Madrid fault system extends 150 miles southward from Cairo, Illinois through New Madrid and Caruthersville, Missouri, down through Blytheville, Arkansas to Marked Tree, Arkansas. It dips into Kentucky near Fulton and into Tennessee near Reelfoot Lake, and extends southeast to Dyersburg, Tennessee. It crosses five state lines, and crosses the Mississippi River in at least three places. The last time there was a major quake on this fault line was in 1811-1812. This quake had an epicenter in NE Arkansas, SE Missouri. As a result of this quake, bells rang in Massachusetts. The ground is harder on the east coast and the waves travel further. On the west coast, the ground is sandier and the waves don't travel as far. A major quake on the New Madrid Line would rock the entire eastern seaboard from Mississippi eastward. And not only do the waves travel further, but the shake longer before dissipating. So instead of a 30 second ground shake, you could have a 10 minute ground shake... Some reports believe that 60% of Memphis would be destroyed in the event of a 6.0 earthquake.

How's that for cheery thinking! Sorry, I just find the whole thing fascinating as well as absolutely terrifying.

National Geographic Top Ten News Photos of 2007

As I was perusing the list of top ten news photos for 2007, I was tickled to find that several of the photos that have found their way onto this blog and my HSB blog are among the top ten:

The Toyger, the frilled shark, the 8 foot catfish, the dino mummy, the inner workings of the inner nose, the crystal cave in Mexico, the weird deep sea creatures in the Atlantic, and the new 7 wonders of the world.

I missed the monster fish story (not sure how that happened) and I read about but didn't share, I don't think, about the quake that lifted the island 10 feet out of the ground.

Take a few moments and visit National Geographic to see these top ten news photos and read a bit about them!

A Christmas Miracle

Yesterday in between in between watching movies, the kids and I caught a it of news. We heard about the family of 4 missing in California since Sunday. We heard how the dad and his three kids had headed out to find a Christmas tree (a yearly tradition) and how they had not been heard of since. We learned their truck had been found and that one snow storm had come through and another was on its way. We discovered that they left on this expedition in light coats and t-shirts.

The first thought that came to my mind was a dad gone bad. Unfortunately, we live in a world where a parent comes to the end of their rope and kills their children and themselves. But none of the reports seemed to back this up. I offered up a prayer for this family's safety and prompt discovery.

This morning, I was reading through my RSS feeds and discovered that this family had experienced a Christmas miracle. They had been found before the second storm hit! They were dressed warmer than had been thought and they were huddled together in a culvert. They had gotten turned around as they went looking for a tree and had gotten lost. They were spotted by a pilot who saw the word HELP stomped into the snow! They are all okay and I am praising God this morning for the gift he has given this family!

December 19, 2007

Chit, Chat and Chew Cookies - A Review and A Contest!!!!!

UPDATE! Congrats to Sara B for winning the random drawing for these yummy brownies! Enjoy them Sara! For those of you who didn't win, be sure to go visit the Chit, Chat and Chew website and buy some of your own. You will love them!

About a month ago, I won three pounds of Chocolate Chip cookie mix from Chit, Chat and Chew. I had my choice of ready-to-bake cookies or dry mix where I would have to add butter and an egg to. I went with the dry mix, because I am not always at home and getting the refrigerated dough delivered when I was home was a hard thing to coordinate. These cookies taste fantastic. What makes these cookies different from other cookies out there (besides the fact that you are guaranteed yummy cookies?). These cookies come with cards designed to promote conversation between you and your children. There is an adult card, a youth card and two activities cards. The way the cards are supposed to work is that you make the cookies, put them in the oven and then use the cards to jumpstart conversations with your children. You know that sometimes it can be hard to talk to your kids. They don't realize you were once a child and so they feel you two have nothing to talk about these. These cards can help them to realize that you have been there and done that...

We made some of our cookies the day they arrived. Not only were they easy and tasty, but the kids and I had fun with the questions. And we didn't stop talking when the cookies were ready. Another neat aspect to these cookies and brownies is that they are available to sell as a fundraiser! So if you are looking for a new and tasty fundraiser that people will really appreciate, think about contacting the Chit, Chat, and Chew Company. You will makd 50% from what you sell! A pretty good deal!

Chit,Chat and Chew has a variety of yummy flavors of cookies...just look at these pictures!

Oh yeah...I did mention a contest, didn't I? Well, Corliss has been kind enough to allow me to give one of my lucky readers a brownie kit...yes, you could be the lucky winner of three pounds of yummy, chewy brownies!

Here's what you have to do:

1. You have to be a U.S. resident to play.
2. Go visit the Chit Chat Brand website and look around.
3. Come back and leave a comment here. Tell me what one of the new products that will be coming out soon is.
4. That's it! Next Wednesday (December 26th), I will have a random drawing at 6 p.m.

Be sure to tell all of your friends! If you blog about this contest, let me know. I will give you two extra chances in the drawing! Good luck!

Movie Review: The Last Sin Eater

It has been awhile since I have reviewed any movies. I just haven't seen any that I wanted to share and time has been hard to come by. Tonight I watched a really good movie that I gave 5 stars when I rated it on Netflix. I picked out the movie, The Last Sin Eater, without knowing much about it. The title intrigued me because I have read things about 'sin eaters' before and then I saw the movie had been directed by Michael Landon, Jr. and that cinched it for me. I have long been a fan of Michael Landon and his son. It was a shame when Michael Landon died at such an early age.

I wasn't exactly sure what this movie was going to be about and it is rated PG-13. I watched as the story of a ten-year-old girl unfolded. She was filled with guilt over something that wasn't really her fault. She lived in a community full of secrets and other guilty people. She tries to get the 'sin eater' of the community to help absolve her of her sins, but it doesn't change anything for her. She thinks that death is the only answer because the sin eater's job is to eat people's sins after they have passed on, and since he couldn't help her when she was alive, she was ready to end her life because she could no longer deal with her guilt. As she is ready to jump into a raging river, a stranger comes and saves her.

At first she runs from this man, but later, she goes to him and hears the Word of God. She learns that no man can absolve her of her sins, and that only Jesus has that power. Then we watch as she and another child change a community by spreading the Word of God to their elders. It is a powerful story and I highly recommend it. The movie is based on a novel of the same name by Francine River.

My Prize Arrived!

Let me tell you that Amanda from ohamanda.com is faster than a speeding bullet! Today, the gift basket that I just won a couple of days ago arrived on my doorstep! It is filled with goodies and I wanted to say thanks and to show all of you my lovely prize!

A beautiful bag, just right for carrying some books and suntan lotion in or the scarf I am currently working on!

And see the lovely card they sent me?

The card is signed by the Sisterchicks!

And they wrapped the other items and placed them in the bag.

Here are the prizes, now it is time to do some reading and munching!

Thanks again Sisterchicks!!!!

Try, Try Again...And Sickness, Round 2...

Today, I ended up unraveling Katrina's scarf. I had knitted quite a bit on it, but as I feared yesterday, it was twice as wide as it should be and i was afraid I was going to run out of yarn before it was long enough. I have always had a tendency to make scarves too wide, but it had been so long since I had made one, I couldn't rememer what size to make. I tried 40 stitches, but 20 is much better. Oh well, now that I have restarted, it is going very quickly.

We have been enjoying a nice quiet day. Jack woke up saying his throat hurt. Well, mine hurt too and I told him it was probably because of the dry air. I told him to drink some water. The day passed, we watched movies (The Miracle on 24th Street, Dino Autopsy, and the first part of The Tin Man) and he just laid around. By 3, he was telling me that it hurt to swallow. His forehead felt hot and yep, the flashlight revealed some white spots in his throat....lovely! So I called and made an appointment in the morning for him to see the doctor. For tonight, I will give him ibuprofen and tylenol. Hopefully, no one else will get it...Christmas is only a few days away...

Poor Jack...tomorrow is his 11th birthday. We were alos supposed to be going to a 4-H meeting and I had made cupcakes and a sheet cake to take with us so his friends could sing Happy Birthday...that combined with a 1/2 of a sheet cake left over from our family party Sunday nightmeans we have plenty of cake! \

Cake anyone?

December 18, 2007

Hunting Blinds, ATVs, Feeders and More!

Hunting Blinds are useful in hunting and wildlife observation. The Texas Hunter online catalog offers the highest quality hunting blinds and deer blinds they can find at an affordable price - the ones they use themselves. They combine quality merchandise with one-on-one personal service and strive to deliver both at highly competitive prices. In fact, you can build your own blind, but by the time you calculate your time spent and the money spent, it is probably cheaper to purchase one already built.

The Texas Hunter Catalog also offers ATVs, game feeders, and many other items that hunters and wildlife experts will find useful.

December 17, 2007

Knitting Is Just Like Riding a Bike

You know the old saying that you never forget how to ride a bike? It is true. A couple of years ago, I received a bike through freecycle and though I was a bit wobbly for the first couple of minutes, I was soon soaring down hills as the wind swept my hair back behind me...love that feeling! Of course then there is the going back up the hills, but no need to discuss that now...

Anyway, last week when we were getting Wolfman Jack's haircut, my daughter saw some scarves on the shelf. There are local craftspeople who bring things to our local hair dresser and sell them. Katrina wanted to get one, but they were more money than she had with her, plus they were dressy scarves and she really wants a warm scarf. So Mandy and I suggested we get some yarn and I make her a scarf. So that's what we did yesterday. Now, I had in mind that I would crochet the scarf. Once I learned crocheting as a teenager, I left knitting behind. I just liked it better. So I have knitted in over 20 years. But when we were looking at yarn samples yesterday, I liked the way the knitting looked.

I thought about buying some knitting needles, but didn't want to spend the 5.00 and I thought I might have some buried at home or maybe my mom would. So I came home. Sure enough, I have knitting needles. They are ones the kids made during a homeschool project a couple of years ago. Now the real test...could I remember how to knit. I picked up the needles...and my fingers remembered what to do. In no time I was knitting away. So, knitting is like riding a bike. Once you know how to do it, you just don't forget!

Whew...one of the great mysteries in life solved! ( I must admit, I didn't try the purling thing...I didn't like doing that when I could knit, so I probably don't remember it).

Have Fun With the Bubblenator!

I enjoy playing around with online games and with photos, so I thought I would have fun when I found out about the website that offers The Bubblenator. With The Bubblenator, you choose one of your photos, then The Bubblenator will allow you to insert 'bubbles' with text. You can place up to three bubbles on your image, you can choose your text and you can change sizes. You can pick from spoken or thought bubbles.

When you have finished, the Bubblenator will provide you with HTML code that you can use to put your captioned image on your web site, blog, Myspace page or just about anywhere else you would normally add an image. Just copy and paste a few lines and you're done!

I often think in bubbles or speak in bubbles for my kids and my animals. This would be fun to use to create images for our Christmas newsletter. I think this is a fun widget builder. But, I was unable to make it work. The only urls I know for my photos are those that are on Flickr and it couldn't read those for some reason. If you get one to work, let me know and I'll come take a peek!

Have fun!

Look At My Beautiful Early Christmas Present!

In November, I won a $150 dollar shopping spree to In the Pink Designs from Classy Mommy. A lot of the neat gifts I have won the last few months have been turned into gifts for loved ones because we were low on funds and that enabled me to give a little something to those I love. But this particular gift, I am keeping just for me. I sent Hethre Smith some photos of my children when they were babies (1996 and 2000). They worked with those pictures and made me the beautiful bracelet you see below. I will treasure this always!

If you are looking for a very special gift for yourself or for a grandparent, I highly recommend checking out the products that In the Pink Designs offers. They have wonderful customer service and create beautiful jewelry that you will treasure forever.

Want a New Bathroom Look? You Can Get it Without Spending a Fortune!

A few years ago we did some remodeling. First we redid my daughter's room. We changed the carpet, had wallpaper put up over the wallboard and had a lovely border put up. I had so much fun watching these changes take place, I wanted a new look for the kids' bathroom too. So I got some paint and a few ocean related items and redid my bathroom decor in just a few hours.

The bottom 2/3 of the wall is an ocean blue and the top 1/3 of the wall and the ceiling are sky blue. I made waves along the top of the ocean. There are fish pasties in the ocean and cloud pasties in the sky. I picked up a fish toothbrush holder and soap dispenser. A fish shower curtain and bathroom mat and viola...a lovely new bathroom. It is in some ways my favorite room!

One of these days I want to redo the master bathroom. I want to make it look like a flower garden.

Straight No Chaser - 12 Days

Do your kids love the song "Twelve Days of Christmas?" My kids do and after a few years of singing it, I have finally learned all of the words in their proper order.

A friend of mine sent this video to me in my email box today. It is pretty funny and they sing well! Enjoy!

Custom Design Your Christian T-shirt Online

This coming summer, Jack is looking forward to going to bible camp. I just found out a great site that I will be sharing with his camp leaders. It is a site they can go to in order to create custom christian t-shirts. There are several basic styles of shirts: hoodies, v-neck style, round neck style, different colors, and different sleeve lengths.

You can start with one of their design ideas and customize it to suit your needs or you can completely make up your own design. It is soooo easy and fun! I thought I would try one out and see. I started with the Mountain Camp shirt because we live in the piedmont of Virginia and can see the mountains! I could choose the color, upload my own graphics, and type in my own text. I can add clipart, shapes and personalize the shirts and add numbers. And the company offers free standard shipping in the U.S. The site is easy to use and help is always just a click away!

Go ahead and design shirts for your youth group, church sport team or bible camp. You are sure to have fun and to be pleased with the results

Catching Up... A Busy and Fun-filled Weekend

Saturday morning we were up early and on our way to town. Jack and Katrina had a piano Christmas recital to perform in. It is always so much fun to go and see the children ages 7-17 dressed in their Christmas finery and playing their holiday music. When the songs were done, Mrs. Booth, the teacher, handed out a paper with four Christmas songs on it for us all to sing together. That was fun for all of us. Nothing better to get one in the holiday frame of mind.

Next she gave each of the children a small gift bag that contained a musical note ornament, a candy cane, a mint, and a postcard from a trip she had made to Williamsburg. Then there was the reception. We ate a bit, chatted and visited with the other parents. I enjoyed watching Katrina sit and chat with the other girls and I overheard them complimenting one another on their clothes and shoes.

After the recital, we headed home and met the kidsitter from next door. We took care of a couple of things here at the house, then Daniel and I headed out into the nightmare that is known as last minute holiday shoppers...But first, Daniel surprised me with lunch at Panera bread. I love Panera bread and rarely get to eat there. I had a sourdough bowl filled with cheese and broccoli soup...and a mocha. I was warmed from the tip of my toes to the tip of my nose. Ahhhh....

Then it was out into the thick of things...bumper to bumper traffic. Aisles stuffed with people. First stop was Toys R Us. I was able to find the items Jack wanted easily. Two of the things I was looking for there for Katrina were sold out.... So then it was time to make some substitutions

Our stop at the Dollar store left me amazed...There were items that had been dropped in the floor, and in general the store looked like a mess! I found what I needed there pretty quickly and headed on. We stopped at Game Stop, Hallmark, Barnes and Noble and then we had to go to Wal-mart. I tried very hard not to go there, but the things that Katrina wanted were elusive and wouldn't you know it, that was where I found them!

By then, I was tuckered out and my feet were aching. We headed home and got here about 6. We hid the gifts in our office across the street, then settled in at the house and watched The 300. I wasn't really sure I wanted to watch it, but I found it to be quite good.

Yesterday, we had Sunday School and church. At our church, we turned in the Christmas cards last week and then this week they had all been sorted and were handed out to us. It was really neat getting so many Christmas cards at once and we saved a ton on postage!

Yesterday afternoon, I wrapped presents and made pineapple casserole for our Christmas dinner with Daniel's family. We had a lovely time. My stepson, Bruce, provided a most delectable ham. It was the best part of the whole meal. We ate, chatted, sang Happy Birthday to Paul (Daniel's uncle) and Jack (our son). Then we handed out presents. I got a lovely kit for working on my feet from my sister-in-laws family...all kinds of wonderful peppermint lotions and potions. I also got a 20.00 gift certificate from Bruce and Ryan (Bruce's roommate) and my husband's cousin gave us a lovely coffee table book about Georgia O'Keefe.

We all pitched in and cleaned up the rented room and then headed out into the howling winds. Some more Christmas rituals completed, some more time enjoyed with family. More memories made and shared.

I hope you had a fantastic weekend.

Homeschoolers, Educators and Students, Listen Up! Microsoft Discounts Are Available for You!

The vast majority of computer users have Microsoft products on their computer. And every couple of years, Microsoft comes out with a new and improved product, but this also means there is a new and improved price tag. Because Daniel is a computer consultant, we always have the latest Microsoft products. It is necessary for his job and a business expense for us. But there are many others who would like to update, but find the cost prohibitive.

Well, I have found a solution for you! Check out www.CostCaptain.com! This website has a section that is dedicated to educators. If you are a qualified educator, you are eligible for tremendous discounts on several Microsoft 2007 products.

You may be eligible if you fall in one of these categories:

- Accredited Educational Institutions
- Administrative Offices & Boards of Education
- Faculty and Staff of eligible educational institutions
- Enrolled Students of eligible educational institutions
- Public Libraries
- Public Museums
- Home-School Programs

I have found Microsoft Office 2007 to be a vast improvement over previous Microsoft Office products. The layout is more user friendly and I am able to navigate through the Office Programs with ease. There are many features that I have found useful in my day to day activities. If you are in the field of education, you know how useful programs like Excel, Word, and Publisher are. I also really like the new Microsoft Photo Editor. So, if you have been wanting to upgrade, but funds have been low, then check out www.CostCaptain.com. Your budget will thank you!

I Can't Believe I Won!

Last week, I shared with you about Amanda's Themed Gift Basket Contest and I wrote about some of the themed gift baskets I have created over the years (or would create if I had unlimited funds.)

Well, today, Amanda let me know that she and her sisterchicks had picked my entry to win the prize of an awesome themed gift basket! I am tickled pink (or maybe I should say chocolate!). Thanks again, Sisterchicks!

Looking for Beautiful Photography? Read More

Back in the summer of 2005, I was the owner, instigator and moderator of the Lynchburg Freecycle list. It was a lot of fun and I met some lovely people. One person on my Freecycle list had started a blog dedicated to Lynchburg and the surrounding areas. He invited me to join his writing team and so I did. It was a blast and the Lynchburg, VA blog rose high in the ranks. We had a huge following and got lots of comments and had lots of fun. I decided I wanted to start my own blog and the other writers turned to other interests, but I the Lynchburg, VA blog still gets a lot of hits even though it is mostly inactive these days.

Anyway, Bob, the fellow who had the vision for the Lynchburg blog discovered he had a truly amazing talent. The man takes awesome photos. And I do mean awesome! I knew that over the past 18 months, Bob's photos have won awards and contests. He is a favorite over at flickr. He has had photos in Lynchburg Life Magazine and photos that were exhibited in the Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne in Switzerland,(a museum for photography).

What I didn't know was that Bob has put together a book title Blue Ridge Parkway and Beyond that is chock full of his amazing photos. If you or someone you know enjoys beautiful photography and/or pictures from the Blue Ridge, this book would make an awesome gift! Bob is an interesting man who has experienced a lot of interesting adventures during his lifetime. I am pleased to have been around at the beginning of this latest adventure! Way to go, Bob!

Network Solutions - Waiting to Help You With Your Web Hosting Needs

The Internet is full of websites - some that are no longer in use, some that are updated many times a day. There are blogs, websites for businesses, websites full of information, and more. Having a spot in the virtual world that is all your own is as important as having a brick and mortar store in the real world. How do you choose the perfect spot? Personally, I believe it is important for your domain name to be something people will remember or that will show up when they google your name or your product.

For example, my domain name is www.melissaomarkham.com. If you google my name, the first thing that comes up is my blog. It is followed by links to articles I have had published, blog entries I have written, and more stuff for me. This works great if you have a unique name. John Smith probably wouldn't work so well. But the 'O' that is my middle initial (stands for Orndorff - my maiden name) sets me apart from the other Melissa Markhams in the world and makes me easy to find.

But let's say your name is John Smith or Jane Doe ...how can you make sure that people can find you or your product? One option is that if you have a killer middle name or initial, then use it. Another option is what are you selling or what are you writing about? If you are selling cookies, then perhaps the domain name Cookie Monster would be good. If you are selling antique books, then perhaps Antiquebooklover would be a good domain name. You want to choose domain names that will lead people to find you even if they are not looking for you in particular. Think of some of the searches you do, they can be pretty broad like antique book sales...well, if your domain name is antiquebooksales, the person will find you!

I know a lot of people use sites like myspace, facebook, and homeschoolblogger. There is nothing wrong with any of these. In fact, you can get a lot of traffic from other users of those web hosters. But in the end, your site name isn't really your own. It is like you are in a mall and people passing by aren't sure if you are there or not. Whereas if you have your own storefront, then people know that you are there.

So, how do you get your own domain name? Isn't it expensive? Isn't it hard to do, after all, these social sites have templates all ready for you and everything. The answer to these questions is that Web Hosting Services do not have to be expensive, are easy to use and they provide all kinds of advantages to the user. Network Solutions, for instance, not only offers reasonably priced web hosting, but they offer templates, 24/7 support, multiple email addresses, ftp sites and tons of storage space. If you have other needs like having a virtual personal server, they can help you with that too.

It takes some money to make money. If you are really serious about getting your name out there and getting your product seen, spend a little bit of money to help insure your prime Internet real estate.

December 15, 2007

Katrina's Virtual Gingerbread House

Katrina liked my house so well, she had to make one of her own! She would love it if you would tell her your thoughts.

A Virtual Gingerbread House...All the Fun, None of the Mess!

Kailani made a lovely virtual gingerbread house! She shared the link and her lovely house! Since I have never in my life made a gingerbread house, I had to give it a try! It was so much fun! Here's what mine looks like...

So go ahead...create the gingerbread house of your dreams! And then come share it with me! Have a wonderful day!

December 14, 2007

Feeling Better and Having Fun

Today the kiddies were feeling better as was I. No more rushing to the bathroom! Yippee!

So what did we do now that we are all feeling better? Well, this morning I did some blogging work, shipped a dress to Hawaii that I sold on eBay, I started a big pot of spaghetti sauce for tonight's supper, did some laundry and that's about it...gee, that doesn't sound like much does it?

Jack got his haircut at 1:00 (he was starting to resemble Wolf Man Jack so this was a very important part of our day!).On the way home, we dropped off some homemade cookies with a neighbor. She was tickled.

Then we came back by the house and picked up Daniel and headed for the garage where my car has been getting a new heater hose and oil change. My car may be entering the death throws of it's life...or at least of it's engine life. I drive a 1992 Chevy Caprice which I dearly love. My mom and stepfather gave it to me three years ago. About 6 months later I was rear ended by an equipment truck and it was only the supreme condition of the car that made it viable to replace the trunk. The insurance company totalled the car, but the value was so close to what the damage was going to cost to repair, we went on and paid the difference.

About 2 months ago, my car started smoking (no not cigarettes!). I would pull into a parking lot and smoke/steam would be escaping around the hood. At first I thought it was transmission fluid 'burning off'. DH had filled up my transmission fluid and had spilled a bit. But after a week of this, I realized it should have burnt off by then. I popped the hood and realized that a hose that was supposed to be inserted into the valve cover had popped out (I later learned this is called a PVC valve). Anyway, I couldn't get it to stay in. So oil was bubbling up occasionally and leaking down the manifold and smoking as it burned off.

I went to visit my dad and he managed to get the PVC back into the hole and viola, no more smoke/steam for about a day! What, it's still steaming, but the PVC thingy is where it is supposed to do...what now. Well, as I stood there looking at the steam/smoke, I realized that water/antifreeze was leaking down onto the manifold. And I realized that the reason it smoked sometimes and not others was because I didn't always have my heater or defrost or ac on. So since it only seemed to leak when one of these items was running, I just would do without until our financial situation straightened out. No problem! After all, I have coats, hats and gloves to keep me warm. This solution worked for a couple of weeks. Last Wednesday, I thought I had best check the oil as it had been about a month.

Imagine my horror when I pulled the dipstick out and there was rust on it! And signs that water was mixed in with my oil! It had not been that way a month ago when my dad and I checked it! My best guess was that as the steam erupted due to the leak, that water was getting up under the dipstick and dripping down and that perhaps some had gotten into the hole in the manifold. Now this is really wishful thinking on my part because in all likelihood I am looking at a cracked head gasket. But there was nothing really to do. My dad told me to clean the dipstick off good, add a quart as I was a quart low and check it again in a week (which would have been this past Wednesday).

On Sunday I drove to church and when I parked, the steam/smoke was pouring out from under my hood. I was afraid the car was going to catch fire. The steam/smoke stopped and I went to Sunday School class. This was really a breaking straw for me. We have been barely keeping our head above water and I had no money to fix whatever was ailing my car. When we did prayer requests, I offered up a praise that Daniel had a new contract and then I shared my prayer request that whatever was ailing my car would be minor. As I started making this request, all the worries of recent months came up and I began to boo hoo (I know you ladies out there understand what I am saying). I felt like I was at the end of my rope. I had done all I could do, my husband had done all he could do and we just couldn't handle an emergency right now. My brothers and sisters sitting in that room reached out to me with love, emotional support, offers to help and money for repairs. The whole situation reminded me to always trust that God will take care of me ( a lesson I have to keep learning over and over again because I have been programmed since I was a child to take care of myself).

After class, one member went out to the car to try and help me figure it out. Well as he was looking, his hand brushed the heater hose and it literally just fell apart and antifreeze started pumping out everywhere. I rushed to turn the car off. Now my car had gone from smoking/steaming to undriveable. But Gary knew a great mechanic. And Mark and Susie told me they had a car I could borrow while mine was in the shop. I cannot begin to tell you how much my friends blessed me on Sunday with their love, concern and generosity. So today, we went to pick up my car. The heater hose is repaired, so the smoking/steaming should stop. The oil has been changed, so that if the water was coming from the leaking heater hose, then all should be well. If it is a cracked head...I will just drive it until it decides I can't drive it anymore and I will go on from there. A new engine would be expensive, but since the rest of the car is in fantastic shape, an engine would be cheaper than getting another car...so we will see.

After we went to get my car today, we returned the car I had borrowed (I am so happy to be back in my car). Then the kids and I hit the kitchen. We decided we would each pick a favorite cookie to make this year. Jack picked candy cane cookies, Katrina picked sugar cookies and I picked my grandmother's molasses cookies. Today we made the sugar cookies and candy cane cookies. They all turned out very yummy (of course we had to try some as we went along...wanted to make sure they were good).

My MIL arrived around 4:30 and we sat down to a yummy spaghetti dinner with salad and garlic bread and a cookie for dessert. After she and I did dishes and she helped me with some laundry, we sat with Daniel and watched the end of the news. Then we watched The Christmas Gift. This is a movie with John Denver from 1986. It is a harmwarming tale and it was fun for all of us to watch it together. The kids and I played with some legos while we watched the movie.

Then everyone but me went to bed. We have to be up fairly early tomorrow as Jack and Katrina have their Christmas piano recital in Lynchburg tomorrow morning. We will have to leave here around 9. Then we will bring Tess (MIL) and the kids back to the house. Our neighboring teen is coming to take care of the kids, MIL has her own errands to run and DH and I will go and pick up a few gifts for the kids for Christmas. Hopefully we can get that done and return home before the ICE STORM comes! I hate ice! Bring on the snow...but I don't want the ice! GRRR! Hopefully it will not interfere with us going to our family dinner Sunday night, but I have a feeling church will be cancelled Sunday morning which is a major bummer! I have several people I want to thank and we will be out of town on the 23rd...

I have my fingers crosse that our ice becomes snow or rain...either would be better.

If you are still here with all of my ramblings and automotive babble, I wish you pleasant dreams!

Wii Like Golf? How About You?

Golf is a sport of skill and patience. The only golf I have ever played has been miniature golf and Wii Golf. I have to say though that when I play either of those and I make a sweet shot I feel the same as Tiger Woods...elated (and quite often amazed). With the Wii, when I play, I have added advantages. I get an aerial view of my target. I am given a reading of the current wind temperature and direction. I know the frustration of misjudging the whole situation and having my ball roll into the rough or a sand trap! I can see where learning to play golf would be challenging and a lot of fun!

Maybe you are a miniature golfer or a Wii golfer like me. But maybe, just maybe, you know someone who plays the 'real' game. And maybe that person (or you) is always looking for a great place to find great deals on name brand golf equipment like Nike golf or Odyssey Golf or Callaway Golf. Whichever brand you prefer, The World of Golf.com has what you are looking for! Fore! Or is it Four? Whichever...why don't you putt on over to The World of Golf and see what equipment they offer to help improve your golf game.

Largest Spitting Cobra Grows to 9 Feet In Length

The newly anointed Ashe's spitting cobra, or large brown spitting cobra (Naja ashei), can reach lengths of more than 9 feet (274 centimeters) and is believed to deliver more venom with a single bite than any other cobra on the planet.

This cobra is not a new discovery, but what is new is that recent DNA tests prove that it is it's own species of cobra. This is an aggressive and extremely poisonous snake...not a good combination! You would defintely want Rikki Tikki Tavi around if this guy came to visit!

HDTV - It Really Does Make a Difference

Last year while we were spending money on home improvements and paying off our land, we took some money for something fun. We had a lovely Toshiba TV that we had purchased about 13 years ago. I remember the night we bought it...we drove home with it on the top of our station wagon because it was literally too large to fit in our station wagon. I don't remember bringing it in the house, but this past spring when we gave it away, it literally took three college students to carry it out of the door! We had contemplated putting it into the kid's playroom, but it was too wide (front to back) to go through the door! Honestly!!!!

So we replaced our huge television with a flat screen HD TV. And I can't begin to tell you how much clearer the picture is! There are nature programs that we watch where we feel like we could reach out and touch whatever it is we are seeing. The action shows and sci-fi shows are so cool...especially now that more and more channels are making the switch to HD. We are big movie buffs and this has made our home movie experience a kazillion times better! If you are looking for a good deal on a LCD TV, check out Buy.com. You are sure to find the size and mounting style that suit you! One of the great things about our new HD TV...my hubby and I can easily lift it! No college students required!

Divorce - Adds to Global Warming

We hear a lot about global warming these days. I just read an article that adds other causes to our planet's warming and the soaring use of natural resources. Divorce, people remaining single longer, and the move away from mult-generational households are all adding to the toll on our planet. Take a married couple....they divorce and now you have two households.

Instead of one refrigerator, you have two. Two hot water heaters. Two dishwashers. And then there are the raw materials that go into creating two separate domiciles (wood, glass, metal). If one family sits in their living room watching TV together and making use of the living room lights, that is less electricity than that same family divided into two homes and both of those homes watching different TVs and using different lights.

It definitely provides food for thought! I wonder if the political bandwagon is going to start advocating making it harder to get divorces and a return to multi-generational home. Maybe we will be required to get married by 20 or we will have to move into an apartment with others to preserve resources.

Just something to think about! Be sure to read the National Geographic article for more information.

Online Coupons - Hurry There is Still Time!

Is it just me or is Christmas approaching like a freight train? Are you running out of time and Christmas money? Still have a few more gifts to get and just aren't sure what to get? Or maybe you know what to get, but the thought of heading out into the madhouse that stores have become makes you feel ill? Well, never fear, there is still time to take advantage of great online promotions and get items shipped ot you in time for Christmas!

For instance check and see if you can use a Chadwick's coupon to help you save money and find the perfect gift for someone on your list! Chadwick's has beautiful clothing that would delight whoever you chose to bless with it. And right now the list of Chadwick's coupons is huge! You can get free shipping, free items, discounts on the itmes you purchase!

And if you don't like Chadwick's, never fear, Edealfinder.com has hundreds of other great online coupons, codes, and promotions from dozens of other stores for you to choose from! Hurry up...time is running out!

A Twisted Silver Contest

Amanda who said "I love the Candy Wrapper Necklace and the Go Go Convertible necklace/belt.
Thanks!!" won this contest! Jack pulled her name out of the hat! Congrats, Amanda! I am sorry I didn't have a ring for everyone who signed up!

Elizabeth and Tina at Twisted Silver know that my readers love jewelry and love a great contest! So they were kind enough to send one if their newest pieces to me so I could share it with you!

Introducing...the Tattoo Ring!

This delicate butterfly tattoo pattern is artfully crafted, ultra light, with the hard edge look of brass that seems to just mold to your finger. ONE SIZE FITS ALL (wear it on your thumb or any finger!)

Isn't it lovely? Would it look fantastic on your hand? Well, keep reading because this lovely piece can be yours!

Just an aside...you know to keep you waiting on the contest details...I personally am crazy about the earrings at Twisted Silver. I already own a pair of the Diva earrings and I have my eye on the Hepburn earrings...Honey, are you reading this? You were wondering what to get me for Christmas!!!! Hint, Hint, Hint!

Now...let me tell you that Tina warned me that I wouldn't want to let this ring go when I received it. And she was so right...It has a medieval look to it and looks very nice on my hand (I am wearing it as I type...after all, I have to try it our, right? Right?) But, as much as I would like to keep this lovely ring, I am going to share it with you, my reader. I know you have been busy getting everything ready for Christmas and making sure it is just perfect. So this is a little something just for you.

So here is what you have to do...

1. Head over to Twisted Silver and look around. Come back and tell me your two favorite pieces (besides this lovely ring and the two pair of earringsI mentioned of course).
2. That's it! Gee, that's simple enough! I will draw a random name next Wednesday at 6 p.m. Good luck!
3. Want two extra chances? Then blog about my contest! Be sure to share the link with me so I will know!

BTW, I have a little secret to share with you...if you don't win this drawing, there is still a way you can get the ring for free...Enter promo code "TATTOO" to receive a free Tattoo ring with a purchase of $50 or more. *** Be sure to add a Tattoo ring to your shopping cart to receive the free gift *** Offer expires December 26, 2007.

Secrets like this are too good to keep! Go ahead and share the information with all of your friends!!!!

I am sorry, but this contest is only open to U.S. residents. (However, if you are overseas and really want the ring and are willing to pay the postage, then feel free to join in the fun).

Send Your Child A Special Letter From Santa

The magic of Santa is a delightful part of childhood. But even Santa can use a helping hand from time to time. It is hard for him to answer all the letters he receives. After all, if he sat around answering letters, he would never get any toys made or lists completed. However, as a parent, we know the joy a child feels when they open up the mailbox and there is mail for them inside.

Letters From Santa is a company that is here to help. You can order a personalized letter from Santa to be sent to your child. And yes, there is still time! I don't know about you, but when my children write their Santa letter, I keep a copy of what they want from Santa, helps me with my shopping. You can incorporate that information, along with your child's gender, age, up to 3 of their accomplishments of the past year, and the name of the city you will be in for Christmas into a letter that will be sent to them on gorgeous Santa stationery. The envelope also has a Santa picture on it along with a postmark from Santa's Post Office.

And right now can you get this wonderful letter that your child will always treasure, but you can also get a follow-up post card that shows Santa on the beach and a door hanger for your child. Add a little more magic to your child's life this year! Merry Christmas!

December 13, 2007

A Busy 36 hours...warning sickness ahead

Yesterday, my mother-in-law was supposed to arrived around10:30. She was flying in from Florida. We were going to meet her at the airport, help her do a little shopping, then she was going to take us to the Golden Corral for lunch. Afterward, she was going to go see my SIL and the I was going to take the kids to do their Christmas shopping. About 8:30 she called and said her flight had been cancelled and she was still in Florida and would call us back. Turns out that the cargo door on the plane wouldn't close. They discovered this after the plane was loaded and the passengers sat on the plane for an hour while they tried to fix the door. Once they realized they couldn't fix the plane, they unloaded the passengers and rebooked all of them.

Of course, the passengers had to have their luggage checked again. And during the checking of the bags, she ended up having her hairspray, lotion and toothpaste confiscated because the containers were too large to go on the plane in her luggage (why they didn't tell her she could put it in her suitcases she was checking, I am not sure). Anyway, the plane she was rescheduled on didn't arrive until 4 pm. And then it was 30 minutes late, so it was actually 4:30. So she just followed us home and spent the night here.

4:30 am, Katrina came into my room and apologized for waking me, but said she didn't feel well. She said she was either hungry or thirsty or sick. I got her some water and then we were walking back to my room when the moment came. She didn't make it to the bathroom, but threw up on the floor. Once we got over that moment and got the floor cleaned up, we then laid down. She was shivering so I gave her some ibuprofen. By about 5:30, she was asleep again.

We got up about 7:30 and I was feeling queasy, Jack was feeling queasy and Katrina was not feeling well. Between 7:30 and 9:30, she threw up 3 more times. She has spent the day on the sofa going back and forth between moaning and feeling a bit better. She ate some waffles a little while ago and so far has kept them down. We shall see...

Jack and I are feeling better, so hopefully, we just had a brush with the bug and hopefully, we didn't pass it on to my MIL.

Themed Gift Basket Ideas

There is a fun contest over at OhAmanda.com. She is giving away a wonderful themed gift basket (and just let me say, chocolate is involved). In order to grab an opportunity to win this lovely gift basket, she is asking for us to share with her a themed gift basket idea. It can be one we have given, one we have received or the one we would give if we were a millionaire. She and some of her dear friend's will be judging the entries and determining a lucky winner!

I love the gift basket idea. Mainly, because I think it is cool to get multiple gifts from one person. And since I love to get gifts like that, I also very much enjoy giving gifts like that! Two of my more memorable 'gift basket' ideas are below.

1. When I was 22 and working at my first 'real job' after college, I was invited to a baby shower for a co-worker. I had babies on the brain at the time and wanted to get her something relally neat! So I went to the store and bought a diaper bag, then I proceeded to fill every pocket with items I thought she could use: spoons, bibs, bottles, toys, some diapers, blankets, clothes, powder and lotion. I had so much fun filling up that bag and she loved unpacking it!

2. My best friend turned 40 about three years ago. She was going through some tough times with her spouse at the time and I wanted to get her something fun and unusual, so I put together a basket of goodies and a letter that explained the use of the goodies (in case some were lost on her). The main theme was ways to help her relax, count to 10 and take care of herself while she and her hubby worked out their problems. I included bath bubbles for relaxing, some chocolate, a candle, money for a pay phone call should she be in trouble, seeds that symbolized the growth of our own friendship, and gloves to remind her of the fact that best friends would help hide the body if necessary. She loved her gifts...so far we haven't had to use the gloves;)

3. If I had unlimited funds, I would love to give someone a gift basket that included tickets to travel to exotic places by plane, by boat, by train...And it would include hotel reservations, sight seeing tickets and reservations at wonderful restaurants. I love to travel and there is so much to see in the world. I think it would be cool to set up a travel package and give it to a friend or family member.

As usual, I have probably given more information than necessary, but I was having fun and couldn't stop myself! But enough meandering! Go visit Amanda and share your gift basket story with her (but should you win, be sure to share with me - hee hee).

A Visit To Newfoundland...The City of Legends

Back in 2001 and 2002, my husband was working in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We got to spend 2 weeks with him. We didn't do a lot of planning before we went. At that time, I hadn't really gotten the hang of using the internet to scope out my travel plans. There were a couple of places we wanted to see and fortunately some of his co-workers' families took us under their wings and showed us around to places we would otherwise have missed. And my husband had an apartment so we weren't in need of a Canada Hotel Guide because we had a place to stay.

Winnipeg is the only city in Canada that I have visited, but I would like to see more of that beautiful country. My in-laws have traveled around Canada and they have really enjoyed their visits to Newfoundland. I think that would be a neat place to check out.

St. Johns is the beautiful capital city of Newfoundland. The stunning waterfront attracts locals and tourists alike.

St. John's is a place to take your camera. Whether you are taking photos of the local wildlife, beautiful ocean sunsets, or the lovely Newfoundland dogs, you will find plenty of scenes to fill your scrapbook with! As well as lovely lighthouses, St. John's is becoming well known for beautiful churches such as The Roman Catholic Basilica of St John the Baptist and The Gower Street United Church.

We can visit The Cape Spear National Historic Site, The T’Railway Provincial Park, and the East Coast Trail. In addition to seeing plenty of natural beauty you will also come across lighthouses and small communities that have been abandoned, but not forgotten.

St. John's is known as the City of Legends. It is one of the oldest cities in North America and it is filled with quaint streets, delicious fresh seafood, museums, and art galleries nestled among rolling hills that lead down to the sea.

I have always been a history buff and have always thought the perfect combination of geography was where hills or cliffs met the sea (must be a hold over from my gothic romance reading days). Hopefully, I will get to visit Newfoundland someday, and see this gorgeous province for myself instead of reading about it second hand.

Go Visit A Couple of Blogs...

Today I ran across a couple of posts that I want to share with you!

1. I read a wonderful letter to Santa when I went to Cherished Moments. It is a letter that will make all mom's smile!

2. For all of the single income families that stop by, you know how hard it is to make ends meet on one income. Many of you moms out there have come up with ways to supplement your income either via crafts, writing ads, writing books, or other types of work that can be done from home. It is important for us to support one another when we can, so in that line of reasoning, I want to encourage you to visit Julianne. She is having a contest to promote a product she is selling. Go visit! And good luck!

Visions of Sugar Plums and Carnations are Dancing Through My Head!

I love flowers. One of my favorite flowers is the carnation because it comes in so many lovely colors, smells beautiful and has a long life. I am not hugely crazy on roses. They are beautiful and their scent is heavenly, but I obviously don't know how to care for the cut roses very well because they rarely last more than a few days for me.

Several years ago, my husband gave me a wonderful gift, actually two wonderful gifts. He purchased me a year of flowers and a year of plants. Every other week, the FedEx man would arrive with the flower or plant of the month. They were all beautiful and brightened up our home. And it was neat because I knew there would be a flower delivery every couple of weeks! And it was a great plan for my husband because his memory isn't very long and he would forget to get flowers for me, but he knew how much I loved them. So he ordered once and then it was taken care of for a year!

I know flowers aren't necessarily a practical gift...after all, they aren't something you can use again and again. But women all over the world love receiving flowers. My husband's grandmother who passed away a couple of years ago told us she wanted flowers when she was living, not on her grave. So we always got her flowers. One of her grandaughters bought her 90 roses on her 90th birthday! She was thrilled!

My husband was asking me what I wanted for a gift for this Christmas, so I have been perusing the web and checking out possibilities.

Look at this beautfiul Christmas arrangement! It has my beloved carnations, it is very Christmassy and it has some lovely scented roses as well. And I can pick the vase I want and there is an option to add a bear...I have gotten flowers from Daniel before with a cute bear attached. B-yoot-ti-ful!

And here is another beautiful arrangement...it's sugar plum lilies! How could one not love a bouquet of flowers with a name like that?

Want to look at some beautiful arrangements? Hop over to Proflowers.com and tell me which one you like best. Who knows...maybe your husband would appreciate the information!

December 12, 2007

December 12 - A History of Art - Fra Angelico - The Annunciation

Fra Angelico, (c. 1395 – February 18, 1455) was an Early Italian Renaissance painter, referred to in Vasari's Lives of the Artists as having "a rare and perfect talent".

Fra Angelico was a Dominican monk within a teaching order, and his work served a didactic rather than purely mystical purpose. His style is simple. In 1438, he and his assistants began painting a series of 50 frescoes to decorate the monks' cells at the monastery of San Marco in Florence. The Annuciation is one of these frescoes.

The frescoes were created as aids to prayer and contemplation. Their straightforward composition, limited color, and lack of superfluous detail give them a humble grandeur and serenity. Although Fra Angelico uses the realism and perspectival techniques learned from Masaccio, his haloes and wings are flat, painted in the Gothic Style.

Fra Angelico was later commissioned to work at the Vatican, where his frescoes were more ornate, with an emphasis on narrative and detail and that was deemed more appropriate for a public place.

Fra Angelico was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982

This information and these images came from the links below. For more information, be sure to visit them. For other art history posts, go to my home page and click on the art history category on my right side bar.




History of Art by Kirsteen Bradbury

Winter Bazaar at Scribbit

I just joined Michelle's Winter Bazaar at Scribbit. I linked with my Christmas Traditions Craft post.

If you get a chance, pop over and read the other posts (all have to do with Christmas or other December activities). And you can join in the fun too!

December 11, 2007

December 11 - A History of Art - Luca Della Robbia

Today, we leave the gothic medieval art and move into Early Renaissance. Luca della Robbia came from a family of artists. He is chiefly remembered for the glazed terracotta plaquettes that he introduced as a sculptural medium. The family studio kept the terracotta formula a secret, enabling him to establish a flourishing business. Della Robbia also developed a pottery glaze that made his creations more durable in the outdoors and thus suitable for use on the exterior of buildings.

One of his most famous works is the cantoria, or singing gallery, in Florence Cathedral, which shows a cheerful rendition of cherub musicians relfecting antique prototypes. It is paired with cantoria designed by the sculptor Donatello.

Another beautiful piece is the blue-and-white Madonna and Child terracottta reliefs which show that della Robia's major concern was to represent three-dimensional shape on a flat plane.

Another beautiful piece is the blue-and-white Virgin and Child (also known as Madonna of the Niche) terracottta reliefs which show that della Robia's major concern was to represent three-dimensional shape on a flat plane.

Boston Museum of Fine Arts (has some more images)

Web Gallery of Art


History of Art by Kristen Bradbury

Our Ongoing Construction Project

Last spring, we did two wonderful things. One we paid off a piece of property we owned. It was wonderful to know that that 5 acres of land was ours...free and clear! The other thing we did was have a large deck built on the back of our home. It is 18' by 36'. We also had a lovely sidewalk poured from the deck to the driveway (great for visitors who had a hard time walking on our gravel sidewalk) and we had French doors put into our dining room which open onto the deck and make our home feel larger.

The deck addition is awesome and we have really enjoyed having it! We have done school work out there, had plays, had cook-outs, family gatherings, and pirate battles. But this is all just stage one of the plan we have in mind. Before the deck was built, we had a concrete slab poured under one corner. Our next goal is to purchase a hot tub and have it placed in the deck over that concrete slab. Whenever we go on vacation we are always on the lookout for hot tubs as we all enjoy them so much. When we went to WV last year, we loved sitting in the hottub on the deck while it snowed over top of us.

After the hot tub, we plan to enclose 1/2 of the deck and turn the hot tub area into a room. We look forward to having our very own hot tub outside to enjoy when we want and I think it would be great therapy for my aging knees. I don't know when we will start on the next phase of our construction plan, but when we do, you are all welcome to come visit!

Do You Want to Win $200 to Spend on Jeans?

Do you have a hard time finding jeans to fit? You know...they are great at the waist, but two large in the legs or they fit everywhere, but are a tad too long, or they gap at your waist, but fit your hips? Well, look no further! Check out True Jeans. They will take your measurements, and then you will be shown the jeans that will best fit you! Sounds cool, doesn't it? Well, True Jeans and 5 Minutes for Mom have paired up to give one lucky, lucky gal $200.00 to spend on some jeans! So head over to 5 Minutes for Mom and sign up! Good luck!

Great Grocery Shopping Day

From time to time, I have read about great deals at the grocery store...you know the really great deals where someone actually got money back from the store for items they purchased? Or they paid pennies for a product? Well, since we have been forced to cut back drastically (like reduce our grocery bill by virtually half in the last few months, I have been looking extra hard for specials and coupons and preferably the coupon/sale combination. One thing I have decided is that even once I have more money to spend in the food arena, I am going to keep up with these new habits. I would like to get more fresh fruits and veggies (which seem to fall off the list when you are trying to save money), and I have missed having a diet soda each day, but I am not going to go back to doing a lot of shopping at Sam's.

I had gotten in the habit of going there and feeling like I was saving money, but in reality, I don't think that was necessarily true. There are some things that I can definitely get cheaper there, but many things are better price or at least comparable at Food Lion and what I have discovered at Food Lion is that I buy less, because it is just a grocery store...there aren't all the other things to attract my attention that have nothing to do with groceries. I don't have a total amount of what I have saved, but I average 40.00 a week with coupons and MVP sales at Food Lion. Some weeks dip down to $26.00 and some weeks the amount saved goes as high as $75.00. I love it!

So, back to my good great shopping day today. On my overall bill, I saved about $44.00 with coupons and MVP savings. That means I got $135 worth of groceries for a little over $90. But my two big hits for the day were these:

1) I had a coupon for buy 1 2L of Sierra Mist and get one free. I had two of these coupons. I have really been missing soda so I decided to treat myself. The store had them on sale for the price of 4/$5.00. When I turn the coupons in at the register, they mark off the normal price, not the sale price. The normal price is $1.59 per drink. Sooooo I purchased 4 2L sodas for 1.82 cents!!!!! And I got the Sierra Mist diet with cranberry...yummy!

2). This is the find I have been dreaming about! And it wasn't even on my shopping list, but I pounced on it. My daughter loves yogos. I enjoy them myself, but we haven't been getting them very often. They are normall priced at about $2.75 for a box. Well, this week, it turned out they were an MVP item and each box was marked down to .99 cents...that a $1.76 saving per box!!!! Then, the kicker? Some of the boxes had a $1.00 off coupon on the front! YES!!!!! We bought everyone left that had that 1.00 coupon on the front...which was 5 boxes! We were paid five cents from the grocery store to take home those 5 boxes of Yogos...I'm loving it!!!!!!

Amelia Island - One of the Top 10 Island Getaways in America

Right now, I, along with most of the people I know are busy dreaming of a White Christmas. We are looking for, praying for and hoping to have some of the white stuff float down from the sky so we can have our Norman Rockwell Christmas. I know there are some who are already dreading the first falling flake and are dreaming about sunny warm days to come in the months ahead. But for right now, I think most people are dreaming of snow.

However, human nature is a twisted thing. We want what we can't have. When it is summer, we dream of cooler days. When it is cold we long for sun and surf. So by January or February, many of those who were dreaming of snowy days in December will be turning their thoughts to summer vacations. Why wait until summer? Why not enjoy a lovely getaway this winter and take advantage of Amelia Island's Lodging Special. Currently, they are running a special at 12 participating hotels, bed and breakfasts and inns where if you purchase a two night stay, you can get a third night free. Reservations are required and black out dates apply, but you can only find those by checking out the lodging that appeals to you. This promotion is good from now until February 29, 2008.

Personally, I always like to do something special with my husband for Valentine's Day. Some years we have been able to arrange for the kids to be away and we just hung out at home in the peace and quiet. Some years, we have gone away for an overnight trip, just the two of us. I think it would be positively lovely for us to visit Amelia Island for a long weekend.

Amelia Island has been voted one of the Top 10 Island Getaways in Amercia by Conde Neste Readers (a magazine devoted to travel). Amelia Island has much to offer to visitors. Enjoy the historical aspects and southern charm. Spend your weekend relaxing on the beach, riding horses, or maybe learning how to do something new. Definitely an enticing place for a romantic (and warm) getaway!

As I mentioned earlier there are 12 different lodges participating in this promotion. So I went to check some out...ever curious, that's me.

I looked at Hampton Inn and Suites, because I have a hubby who likes to go with the modern place and all the conveniences, so I knew I should at least look at it. Plus we have always received great service whenever we have stayed at a Hampton Inn and Suites. And as I expected, there were lovely amenities to be had and I am sure we would enjoy a stay there.

However, Valentine's is all about Romance and I prefer staying in Bed and Breakfasts and neat Inns. There were several to choose from, but I picked two.

First I took a look at the Hoyt House (I went to school with a gal whose last name was Hoyt, so I figured it was a good place to start).

Isn't this place beautiful!??? And there are gardens, a wrap-around porch, ocean breezes, a heated pool and more...and that's just at the Hoyt House! There are plenty of things to enjoy such as bike riding and fine dining. And they even supply you with robes, towels and beach chairs! Book me a room!

But wait, I shouldn't go with the first place I like. I also looked into Amelia Island Plantation. I love places with the word "plantation" in them...it's so...well, southern!

Wow! Look at the size of this place! Look at those pools! And because it is a resort, a lot of the activities are right on sight. A fitness center, a spa, bicycling, nature programs, tennis courts...

Okay, they are all beautiful, but my choice is The Hoyt House! Don't like one of these? There are 9 other options to choose from! So do something special this winter (either for Valentine's Day, another special day or just to celebrate being alive and in love. Honey, I hope you are reading this!!!!

December 10, 2007

First America Map To Go On Display Soon

The map you see above is part of a map created in 1507 by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller. He created this map after researching notes from explorers Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci, as well as other unknown Portuguese and Spanish sources, according to a statement from the Library of Congress. However, it is not clear how he could have drawn such an accurate picture of South America nor how he knew there was a separate body of water on the west side of America based on his research. According to experts, he couldn't have drawn this map based on Vespucci's descriptions.

Another matter of interest is that in later versions of this map, Waldseemuller no longer used the name America. For more information, visit National Geographic.

December 10 - A History of Art - Ambrogio Lorenzetti Effects of Good Government

Ambrogio Lorenzetti(1313-1348) was a Sienese painter and the younger brother of the artist of Pietro, who may have been his teacher. His style owes much to the realism of Giotto(1267-1337).Lorenzetti painted rounded figurines and showed a regard for space and depth, although the scale of the background is not always accurate. Interestingly, in the early 15th century, architect Filippo Brunelleschi (1337-1446) worked out the mathematical rules of perspective, pictures were composed by eye alone.

The pair of frescoes which show The Allegory of Good and Bad Government was commissioned as a piece of civic propaganda fo the Sala dei Nove in the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena. Both works were extraordinary at the time for showing a contemporary panorama of a real place with real people.

Effects of Good Life

Effects of Bad Life

The Effects of Good Government shows Siena as a place of peace and prosperity, with evidence of commerce, active building, agriculture, and industry. After 1348, there are no further records of either brother being active and it is thought that they both perished from the Black Death.

Information came from:

History of Art by Kirsten Bradbury


Check Web Gallery of Art for more images.

And remember, if you want to read other art history posts, just visit my main page and click on the Art History category.

Check Out the Real Estate Forecast Before You Buy

Real Estate is without a doubt, the best investment you can make. Land pretty much always increases in value, and even if you have a property in an area that stagnates for awhile, somewhere down the road, the price of that property is probably going to increase. Would you like to be able to figure out where the smart places are to buy and what prices are for homes in your area? Then you should visit REmapper and get information from their real estate forecast.

REmapper has taken a variety of sources of information and combined these reports and data into a format that will keep you informed on real estate trends. Read the press release below for more information.

For Immediate Release
December, 2007

Contact: Customer Service, 408-834-7779 customerService@REmapper.com

REmapperTM Delivers Dynamic Maps Block Level Forecasts for Real Estate Professionals

Interactive Web site takes the guesswork out of buying and relocating with unique dynamic class-based gradient color heat maps.

San Jose, CA – December , 2007 – Imagine being able to accurately pinpoint a property’s future value, so that everyone from investors to brokers to agents to developers can make informed and profitable purchase and location decisions. REmapperTM, the newest and most innovative real estate Web site to hit the Internet in years, delivers just that and more.

REmapperTM announced the long awaited beta launch of the new web-based mapping and graphing tools today. REmapperTM offers a system of proprietary algorithms that take much of the guesswork out of real estate investing and a unique location analysis tool. The site applies proven statistical analysis to the latest economic and demographic data. Unique data such as block level business growth and vacancy are updated monthly and quarterly, allowing everyone to consider forecasted values when buying or selling property. By filtering through up to 640 variables that affect property values at the block level, REmapperTM will help investors make smart, informed decisions, and give real estate professionals and agents a tool to sell with quality information, like no other.

As they say, its location, location, location, NOT market, market, market OR county, county, county. So if location is important, REmapper is a core tool for anyone to everyone in the real estate industry.

Most Real Estate sites simply have what’s on the market and price trends. However, what is most important to the investor or home owner or real estate professional, is what affects price movement at the local level. Typically price alone has anywhere from 45% to 75% of what affects price movement, say the mathematicians at REmapperTM. REmapper let’s Real Estate professionals view the remaining variables in both real-time rendered gradient maps and least-squared monthly regression lines (to reduce outliers) to the block level. With such unique monthly and quarterly variables as: new jobs, new businesses, growth, income change, and the latest vacancy figures which statistically makes up for what is missing in the elements than just looking at prices.

The REmapperTM method has been in development from more than two decades, starting from one MBA’s passion to know which investment was best. With quick visual answers backed up by solid data and statistics. That is the essence of REmapperTM.

REmapperTM uses a combination of GIS (Global Information System) technology and reliable demographic and economic data. Embedded mapping algorithms and proprietary financial modeling algorithms are then applied, delivering dynamic gradient heat maps that show specific locations with high potential for price appreciation. Gradient maps are uniquely dynamic, rendered in real-time, and zoom-able to the block level, so that investors or developers can pick the right block to investigate.

Dynamic maps, as opposed to static or simple mashups. Each time the user zooms, the maps are re-rendered on the fly and the scale in the legend changes, based upon the XY axis of the map. The maps dynamically change every time the user zooms in-or-out of an area. Real estate is all about location, location, location, and locating the right street within the right block or block is critical. All real estate is relative, and each time the maps are rendered relative to the area, or zoom level. Find the best block within a zip code or the best street within a county to build or invest is what REmapper delivers. Simply put, revolutionary…

During the initial release, visitors can log into the Web site and subscribe for a trial period of 7 days and view income changes. REmapperTM users may select a geographic area as small as a city block or as large as the nation, and then use simple forecasting tools to chart the expected future value of properties within that area. With simple, easy-to-use tools, REmapperTM promises to democratize real estate information.

REmapperTM is a subscription-based service, much like the Multiple Listing Service and other tools used to assess the real estate market. A variety of subscription plans are available, giving users a number of affordable options. Subscribers can also view many variables at the same time with a consolidated report that shows market trends in a graphical format.

Real estate professionals who become subscribers will have a unique competitive advantage with their ability to geographically and statistically pinpoint the exact property that will create a high appreciation investment opportunity. Agents and brokers may also purchase a subscription for dynamic, customized newsletters that they can send to clients and prospects within a targeted geographic market.

Christmas Traditions Part 8 - Decorations

Well, I think this is it...the last of my Christmas Traditions posts..maybe...unless I think of something else to share:) This post will have what our house is decorated like this year. Before I show some pictures, though, I want to mention a bit about a couple of contests where they actually want to see what my decorations look like!

Reviews by Heidi is part of the 12 Blogs of Christmas Giveaway that is being sponsored by the HomeschoolEstore. To enter her contest, you simply need to post photos of how your homeschool room is decorated for the holidays and of course, send her a link). She is giving away a $50 gift certificate to HomeschoolEstore and she has reviewed some wonderful Scholastic Products which are just an example of how you could spend that $50.

Also, starting December 17th, BooMama is hosting a Christmas Tour of Homes!. This is an opportunity where you can share your home decor and visit other people's homes during the holidays...all from the comfort of your home! Also, since people are coming to visit, each person will be posting a favorite recipe. You can find my favorite cookie recipes in a link below.

Without further ado...here is what our home looks like this Christmas!

We lost our normal tree spot this past year when we added these beautiful French doors. Because the things that used to be stored here had to go somewhere. Since we didn't want to move a whole bunch of stuff, we decided to place our tree in the only 'empty' spot in our home. To the left, you catch a slice of our dining room table, this is our where we homeschool. And since our living room, kitchen, den and dining room are basically all open to one another, our home decorations can be seen from the dining room table. Makes it hard to concentrate on school work!

Here is a close up of our tree. We have a hodge podge of William and Mary Christmas ornaments, Airplane ornaments (hubby's collection), some glass ornaments, ornaments the children have made or been given and some ornaments that were on my grandparent's Christmas tree.

Our home sits in the middle of a hill and they had to dig out a flat spot to put it, so the only level place we have in front of our home is about 10 feet wide. And we only have one outdoor electrical outlet, so all the outdoor decor gets placed closely together! The kids love the snow globe. The cats can't stand it!

This snowman was in my bedroom window since I was a child. He has now taken up residence in Katrina's window. I also have a Santa and he is in Jack's window.

Santa is hanging out on our front porch, with his arm full of puppies!

Candy Canes lead the way down our long sidewalk to the front door.

Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus are the newest additions to our home decor. We got them last year at the day after Christmas sale! Unfortunately, they are not plugged in because I am out of outdoor electrical hookups. Maybe that will be different next year.

This is from the deck, looking into our French Doors. See all the pretty stickies the kids put on the window? I am hoping for a White Christmas moment. If you have seen the movie, you will remember at the end when they pull back the doors and you can see the snow behind the Christmas tree? I am hoping we will be able to have a similar scene at our house before the Christmas tree comes down.

This is the entryway into our den. Katrina loves standing under the mistletoe! Note the shelves full of books...we love reading!

Here is the entryway into our kitchen.

A couple of singing decorations on top of the piano.

The entryway to the kids rooms and bathroom.

Our table of Christmas figurines.

Our Nativity

I hope you have enjoyed your tour of our humble home. Come visit again sometime!

If you want to read our other Christmas traditions that I have posted about, they are linked below:

First, I shared a treasured Christmas memory - as part of the Holiday Bundle Giveaway post.

Then I shared all of our favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes for your enjoyment.

Then I gave you the titles of our favorite Christmas movies in case you were looking for some new movies to watch this holiday season.

Then I shared a list of some of our favorite Christmas books.

Next came some Christmas Craft ideas.

Activities we enjoy during the month of December.

Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas Day Traditions

December 9, 2007

Bacon Creation

My husband sent me a link to an interesting cookie the other day. I enjoy trying new combinations of food. For example, I enjoy mustard on french fries and mashed potatoes. I enjoy bacon and peanut butter sandwiches. And I like dill pickle and peanut butter sandwiches (weird sounding I know, and yes, I have only tried them once, but they were suprisingly tasty!).

So, this idea of bacon and chocolate chip cookies has me intrigued. Go check out the recipe and see if it is something you would like to try.

Custom Designed Ceramic Poker Chips - a Fun Gift

When I was a kid, my dad and I would play a variety of card games. Mostly we played rummy or rook, but sometimes we played Blackjack or Poker. We had some plastic poker chips that we played with. It was fun and I guess Dad had learned to play these games when he was in the Army. Playing with the chips added an extra element of excitement and fun. Today, I have some chips just like them for the times when we sit around playing a little Blackjack.

However, if you know someone who is more serious about their game playing, they may appreciate having a set of Custom Ceramic Poker Chips. These chips can hold whatever custom design you want to put on them. A person's name, a symbol for a persons business, initials, a special date. And, don't be limited to using the poker chips for just playing poker. They could make a lovely giveaway item to promote your business. They would be a novely and stick out in people's memories.

There are other items besides ceramic poker chips at pokerchips.com. You can find clay poker chips, casino inlay poker chips, economic poker chips, cards, poker chip holders, poker tables and more. It someone in your home enjoys a poker night, any of these items would make a fun and unusual gift.

December 9 - A History of Art - Maesta by Duccio Di Buoninsegna

Duccio Di Buoninsegna was from Siena, a city that had a great cultural rivalry with its close neighbor, Florence. As Italian art moved away from the Byzantine style, the Sienese school turned toward a decorative, almost courtly art, based on Byzantine traditions, but marked by its use of color and attention to detail.

The Maesta (meaning Majesty) was commissioned in 1308and was installed in Siena Cathedral in 1311. It was one of the largest panel paintings ever made in Italy.

In the first image above, you can see the whole panel. It portrays the Madonna and Child surrounded with saints. Around the and on the back are smaller scenes showing dramatic narratives from the life of Christ.

The second image shows a close up of Madonna and child. Look how old of a face they put on the Baby Jesus. Perhaps designed to symbolize his wisdom or perhaps, just the style of the time.

For more work and information, visit the following sites.

Web Gallery of Art (other pieces of art)


More art by Duccio and his contemporaries at Olga Art

History of Art by Kirsten Bradbury

Is an Elliptical Machine In Your Future?

So, are you already counting up the pounds that you are going to put on in the next 25 days or so? I am ... cookies, candy, parties...all add up to added weight. Of course after the intake of the yummy food comes the weight gain comes the guilt...and the desire to get it off before swim suit season rolls around again. It would be good if we could just avoid that whole scenario and not gain the weight, but realism is probably a better choice in this matter. So, what do you do for exercise? What plan do you have in mind for losing those excess pounds?

My husband enjoys using our elliptical. We purchased it about three years ago. It is easy to use, tracks our heart rate, and has several different levels of exercise you can try. Ours has hills, cardio, and strength training settings. My husband has flat feet and says the elliptical is good for him to use because it doesn't bother his feet as much.

The nutrition and diet experts say we should get 30-45 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week. You might want to consider an elliptical machine. You can catch up on the news or some other television show while you get rid of the pounds in the comfort in your own home.

Christmas Traditions Part 7 - Christmas Day

I have been busy blogging about Christmas at our house. It was just too much to include in one post. And I thought If I broke it into segments and shared it, it would be here for my children to read and enjoy as they grow older.

Christmas Day has taken on many appearances for us over the years. Sometimes we have been fortunate enough to have my mother-in-law or my mom and stepdad or my dad here to visit for Christmas Day and be part of the Christmas present opening process. The years that my mom and stepdad came, we put together a neat Christmas meal. We each made plans to make 'party food'. You know...cheese balls and crackers, cranberry salad, sliced meat and cheese and homemade bread, veggie tray, olive butter. We would make things that we didn't often have other times of the year and that would be our Christmas Day meal. It was a lot of fun and less work than other meal options.

Most years, it is just us and our children. Now we are down to just the two youngest. We get up anywhere between 6 and 8. The kids are so excited that they have a hard time falling asleep the night before, which often means we get a bit of extra sleep Christmas morning.

Breakfast varies. I usually make some tea or coffee, turn on the Christmas music and then we might eat homemade cookies or donuts or some other sweet item for breakfast. When I was growing up we always ate Christmas cookies for breakfast...it was fun, and that is still my preference.

Then the kids hand out the gifts. Then we take turns opening the presents. Katrina will open one, then Jack, then me, then Daniel. Then we start all over again until the presents are open. Stockings are always saved until last. When I was growing up, we took turns opening presents. But it was a different way. I opened mine first, then Mom, then Dad. Some years, I would insist on going last to prolong the anticipation. Daniel grew up in a household where everyone opened their gifts at once. He seems to like the way we do it now though. If we spend weeks and months getting ready for Christmas, it is nice if it doesn't all end in fifteen minutes. After we open gifts, the rest of the day is spent enjoying our new items and playing together.

I enjoy Christmas at home and I enjoy it being just us. I love spending time with my family, but I really like doing that on other days. When I was a child, it was important to my mom that it just be us for Christmas Day, she didn't want to be out of town for Christmas, she wanted us to be home. I inherited her desire to spend our Christmas Days like that as well.

As to a Christmas Meal, we don't really do anything special. I prefer not to spend time on Christmas cooking. When I was growing up, mom cooked everything the days before Christmas and we ate pretty much a cold dinner (ham, potato salad, things like that).

So now you have read all of our Christmas traditions. I still have a post to share where I will show some pictures of our decorations, but I am saving that for

If you want to read our other Christmas traditions that I have posted about, they are linked below:

First, I shared a treasured Christmas memory - as part of the Holiday Bundle Giveaway post.

Then I shared all of our favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes for your enjoyment.

Then I gave you the titles of our favorite Christmas movies in case you were looking for some new movies to watch this holiday season.

Then I shared a list of some of our favorite Christmas books.

Next came some Christmas Craft ideas.

Activities we enjoy during the month of December.

Christmas Eve Traditions

New Year's Resolutions Follow Christmas Gaiety

As we look ahead to a few more weeks of parties, holiday gatherings, and holiday cooking, we are also thinking beyond that to our New Year's Resolutions. Quit smoking. Lose Weight. Be more patient. Exercise More. Some may want to go beyond simple weight loss and participate in some bodybuilding activities. Maybe they have a spring or summer sport that the they want to prepare for. Maybe they don't want to have sand kicked in their face this summer when they are at the beach. Maybe they are looking for better appearance and health.

If bodybuilding is on your New Year's Resolution list, you may also want to invest in bodybuilding supplements. Just like there are products to help you lose weight and porducts to help you quit smoking, there are products that can help assist you in your endeavor to sculpt an ideal physique.

Christmas Meme

My bloggy friend, Sherry, has a fun Christmas Meme at her blog. Please go by and make a new friend this Christmas season! The meme looked like fun, so I am doing it here. I love talking about Christmas!

1.What is your favorite Christmas carol? O Little Town of Bethlehem, Joy to the World, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night...shucks, I can't think of just one!

2. What is your favorite secular Christmas song? White Christmas, Winter Wonderland, 12 Days of Christmas, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bell Rock...oops, I didn't it again!

3. What is your favorite Christmas movie? If I could only pick one movie to watch over Christmas, it would be It's a Wonderful Life. But, as I wrote earlier this week, there are a lot of movies on our holiday watch list!

4. What is your favorite Christmas memory growing up? Christmas caroling.

5. Do you shop early or are you a late shopper?. When I was younger, I was a very early shopper (done like in October), then I became a Black Friday shopper and enjoyed picking up a few things on Christmas Eve just to be out among the hustle and bustle.

6. Is your tree real or artificial? It is artificial. We prefer real. Last year, we got an artificial tree, and I honestly cannot remember why. This year, we are glad to have it because we didn't have the money to buy a tree. It's kind of a Charlie Brown artificial tree, but it dresses up well.

7. Do you still put tinsel on your tree? If you mean tinsel garlands, yes. If you mean tinsel icicle, yes:) The more glitter the better! We actually have garlands of gold and red decorating our doorways, we have the stringy icicle tinsel pieces on our tree. The kids loved doing that part! And they are not perfectly hung, but they do shine and shimmer:)

8. Do you read the Christmas story every year on Christmas day? We read the Christmas Story on Christmas Eve. A tradition we just added a few years ago.

9. Would you consider yourself to be a Grinch? Not in any way, shape or form!

10. Are you more like Scrooge or Father Christmas? I love to give presents, particularly the perfect ones! That has bothered me most about being broke this year, I love shopping for others.

11. Do you make homemade gifts for friends and family? I have made homemade gifts in the past. This year, I didn't have time to do that. I have made cookies, Christmas decorations, scarves, blankets, pillows, and more. I love making homemade gifts and receiving them.

12. What was the worst Christmas present you ever received? Rechargeable batteries and a battery recharger...I was hoping for jewelry. It was such an off the wall gift and not even on my radar, I was a bit miffed (but hubby's heart was in the right place).

13. What was your favorite Christmas present ever? Besides Jesus, that would be the complete DVD set of The Bionic Woman and Six Million Dollar Man from my hubby a couple of years ago. You can't watch it on reruns.

14. On the average how many presents do you buy for each of your kids? We don't do a present number. We do a budgeted dollar amount.

If you are looking for some blogging material, feel free to feel tagged!

Mudgee Region - Australia

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time at all, you know that I love traveling and while I have been blessed to travel to many places, there are many more I want to visit, including Australia. So I am always on the look out for places to include in our future travel plans.

Today, I came across the Mudgee Region of Australia. It is located NW of Sydney. Mudgee is a small town (population 8200) and it is one of the oldest towns to the west of the Blue Mountains. It was laid out in 1838 according to the design of Robert Hoddle, who later planned Melbourne. Mudgee is nestled along the Cudgegong River. Many old buildings have been preserved in the town center (churches, railway station, Town Hall, Colonial Inn Museum, police station, post office). Not only is there a lovely, historical town to visit, but recreation opportunities abound.

Mudgee is in the center of the wine district, so if you enjoy touring wineries, this would be a perfect place to visit. A bit off of the beaten path, beautiful and not overly crowded.

There are several National Park and Recreation areas to visit: Wollemi National Park, Munhorn Gap, Goulburn River National Park, Coolah Tops National Park, Frog Rock, Windamere Dam, The Drip, Hands on Rock. Opportunities abound to hike, observe wildlife, climb, and enjoy water recreation.

There is more than one delightful Mudgee Accommodation for you to choose from. Whether you are looing for a bed and breakfast, hotel, motel, campground, apartment, cottage, or home, you can find what you are looking for.

If you are looking for a romantic, peaceful, natural spot for your next vacation, the Mudgee Region is definitely an area to look at! I will be adding it to my list of places to visit in my future travels.

December 8, 2007

Dino Autopsy

A mummified Hadrosaur was discovered in North Dakota by a teenager in 1999. On December 9th, 2007, at 9 pm, EST, National Geographic Channel will air Dino Autopsy. This show will detail the dig and subsequent CT scans of this 67 million year old dinosaur.

The fact that this dino was found with skin, tissues, ligaments and tendons intact has led scientists to change their ideas about dinosaur appearance and movement.

With the aid of a large-scale CT scanner, researchers determined that Dakota had a more muscular rear end and more powerful legs than previously believed, according to Manning.

To become mummified, first the dinosaur body had to escape predators, scavengers, and degradation by weather and water. Then a chemical process must have mineralized the tissue before bacteria ate it. And finally, the remains had to survive millions of years undamaged.

California Attorney's Criminal Law Blog

Do you have an interest in law? Do you enjoy following celebrity legal cases? Then you may want to spend some time checking out the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Blog | California Criminal Attorneys Law Blog. When you visit that blog, you can get information about all kinds of legal situations. Such, as what do you do when approached by a police officer? What is a grand jury?

Learn more about Internet crimes, prosecutor's burden of proof and celebrity or high-profile cases. There are categories that cover drug offenses, DUIs, Domestic violence, white collar crime, and more. It is not always easy to obtain legal information and if you go directly to an attorney, they want to charge by the hour. This blog is one way that you can get some valid legal information from real people that will respond to your comments.

German Leaders are Trying to Ban Scientology

MSNBC is reporting that Germany Security Leaders are trying to ban Scientology. They believe that the goals of Church of Scientology are be in conflict with the principles of the nation’s constitution and they will seek to ban the organization.

Germany has had Scientologist under surveillance for over 10 years.

The Scientologists have long battled to end the surveillance, saying it is an abuse of their right to freedom of religion. They point to several lower court rulings in favor of their right to practice in Germany as a religious organization.

The U.S. State Department regularly criticizes Germany in its annual Human Rights Report for the monitoring practice.

The interior ministers gave no specific examples for their decision, but the most recent annual report on extremism compiled by their agencies criticized the organization for disregarding human rights.

“From a number of sources, some of them not available to the public, it has been determined that (the organization) seeks to limit or rescind basic and human rights, such as the right to develop one’s personality and the right to be treated equally,” the report said.

This is an interesting topic. I believe in the freedom of religion. That is an intrinsic belief of American culture. I don't know much about Scientology or how their belief structure is. I do not know the evidence that is concerning the German Leaders.

I think there are times when as a society we have to be concerned about religions. You can get cult leaders like < ahref="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Jones">Jim Jones which led to such tragic consequences. I am not sure how we determine which religions are to be questioned and when government should step in. I am not that knowledgable. And it is a line we have to be careful to cross, because if we cross it without having clear guidelines, then what is to stop banning of all religious beliefs? And is that the direction we want to head in?

Jitterbug - The Perfect Phone for the Senior Citizen on Your List

As my parents and in-laws grow older, I hear the same complaints from them. Their cell phones aren't meeting their needs. They are too complicated for them to understand. The volume doesn't go up loud enough. They can' see the buttons. The bills are even hard for them to figure out. It is difficult enough to be trying to learn a new technology, but when you add to that tiny buttons and hard to understand menus, cell phones may seem not worth the effort.

However, I feel greater peace of mind with them having a cell phone. That way, if they are on the road and break down, they will have a way to get in touch with others. Or if their phones go out during a bad storm and they need to reach someone, there is a good chance their cell phones will work. Depending on their location, cell phone may serve to save them money as well. Why pay for a land line when they can use their cell phone and know that people will always be able to get in touch with them.

Did you know there are cell phones for senior citizens? I only recently learned of the Jitterbug cell phones. My husband had mentioned them and I became curious. There are two models of Jitterbug phones that you can choose from.

Jitterbug Dial can be purchased for $147 with no contract. It has a soft ear cushion and powerful speaker that make the sound loud and clear. It has a bright screen with large text for easy viewing. There are simple 'yes' and 'no' buttons instead of confusing icons. The buttons are large, backlit, and easy to see. If you dial "0", you will reach a live Jitterbug Operator who can help you with your questions.

Jitterbug One Touch can also be purchased for $147 with no contract. It has the same great features (such as soft ear cushion and powerful speaker and easy to read numbers. This is not a phone for dialing and talking to your friends. Instead of buttons with numbers, there is a button that will link to a towing company, another button for 911 and a third button for reaching the Jitterbug operator.

Jitterbug Phones make great gifts for senior citizens. You can choose the model which will best suit your parent(s) or grandparent(s) and you will know that will know that it is something they will be able to really get good use out of.

And, if you purchase one of the senior cell phones before 12/31/07, you can get a free car charger.

If the phones themselves, aren't enough to convince you, check out the services that Jitterbug offers. They will help the owner of the new phone to get started and they will make sure that the owner gets only the services they need. Customer satisfaction is a number one priority for the Jitterbug company!

December 8 - A History of Art - Giotto

Yesterday, when we looked at the Santa Trinita Madonna, we left early medieval art and entered the Gothic Medieval period of art. Today, we will look at more gothic medieval art by Giotto Di Bondone (a student of Cimabue).

The Florentine painter Giotto is one of the most important artists in the history of Western art. He was the first artist of the medieval period to approach the human figure as a sculptural mass inhabiting its own space. He also left behind the saccharine sweetness found in the work of many earlier medieval artists. Instead, you will find the 'real emotions' of the subjects being portrayed. He wasn't just a painter, but he was also a talented sculptor and architect.

In spite of his fame and the demand for his services, no surviving painting is documented as being by him. His work, indeed, poses some formidable problems of attribution, but it is universally agreed that the fresco cycle in the Arena Chapel at Padua is by Giotto, and it forms the starting-point for any consideration of his work. The Arena Chapel (so-called because it occupies the site of a Roman arena) was built by Enrico Scrovegni in expiation for the sins of his father, a notorious usurer mentioned by Dante. It was begun in 1303 and Giotto's frescos are usually dated c. 1305-06. They run right round the interior of the building; the west wall is covered with a Last Judgement, there is an Annunciation over the chancel arch, and the main wall areas have three tiers of paintings representing scenes from the life of the Virgin and her parents, St Anne and St Joachim, and events from the Passion of Christ. Below these scenes are figures personifying Virtues and Vices, painted to simulate stone reliefs -- the first grisailles. The figures in the main narrative scenes are about half-size, but in reproduction they usually look bigger because Giotto's conception is so grand and powerful. His figures have a completely new sense of three-dimensionality and physical presence, and in portraying the sacred events he creates a feeling of moral weight rather than divine splendor. He seems to base the representations upon personal experience, and no artist has surpassed his ability to go straight to the heart of a story and express its essence with gestures and expressions of unerring conviction.

The other major fresco cycle associated with Giotto's name is that on the Life of St Francis in the Upper Church of S. Francesco at Assisi. Whether Giotto painted this is not only the central problem facing scholars of his work, but also one of the most controversial issues in the history of art. The St Francis frescos are clearly the work of an artist of great stature (their intimate and humane portrayals have done much to determine posterity's mental image of the saint), but the stylistic differences between these works and the Arena Chapel frescos seem to many critics so pronounced that they cannot accept a common authorship. Attempts to attribute other frescos at Assisi to Giotto have met with no less controversy.

That Giotto painted the Arena Chapel is one of the few certainties of his biography. Almost every other aspect of it is subject to controversy: his birthdate, his birthplace, his appearance, his apprenticeship, the order in which he created his works, whether or not he painted the famous frescoes at Assisi, and where he was eventually buried after his death.

The Annunciation to St. Anne, detail of the angel

Giotto's masterwork is the decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, commonly called the Arena Chapel, completed around 1305. This fresco cycle depicts the life of the Virgin and the passion of Christ. It is regarded as one of the supreme masterpieces of the Early Renaissance.

Kiss of Judas

Information from this post came from:

Web Museum


Olga's Gallery Be sure to look here for more examples of art attributed to Giotto

History of Art by Kristen Bradbury

And don't forget, if you would like to read my previous art history posts, go to my main page and click on the Art History link under categories in my side bar.

WLA - Wireless Landlord Association - Free Resource for Wirelss Landlords

My husband's uncle iw a wireless tower landlord. He allowed a cell phone tower to be erected on his property and each month he gets paid rent from cell phone companies for that. So far he hasn't had any troubles, but he was glad when I told him that there is a Wireless Landlord Association(WLA) that can help protect his rights and provide him with information.

And you don't have to be a current wireless landlord, if you are contemplating going that route, WLA can help you with that as well. WLA's team of experienced industry experts and legal professionals serves as a powerful resource for individual landlords.

If you are having difficulties working out contracts with any of the cell phone tower companies, be sure to check with Wireless Land Association for tips and information. Associate membership is free. If you sign up for associate membership you will receive site promotion, the wireless industry newsletter, and a detailed blue book report.

If you opt for the premier membership (cost is 5% of your monthly rentals), then you will be able to access other benefits including wireless lease audit and appraisal, nad rent continuation. And there are other services they can assist you with for additional fees.

The site also has a huge amount of information for Wireless Landlords. You can research articles and learn about recent developments. There are polls you can participate in. You can locate your site and see what else is near to you. You can also check out the newsletter archive.

When you join the Wireless Landlord Association, your properties are listed in their online database and are actively promoted to all major wireless carriers. When your property is selected as a cell site location,WLA will serve as your advocates, representing your interests, not those of the major carriers. WLA helps bring balance to the negotiation by empowering you with the resources and support you need to get a fair and profitable lease. They will represent your interests in negotiations with your current tenants and help find you new ones, so you can earn the highest rental income possible.

Currently, WLA represents the interests of more than 2,200 member sites and over 15,000 managed locations across the country. As a member of WLA, you too can use the experience and expertise of their advisors to your advantage.

Holiday Bundle Giveway - You Don't Want To Miss This!

Jocelyn Dixon is having a wonderful holiday bundle giveway! She is offering a holiday bundle giveaway that is worth over $300! Now I am a little confused as to whether there are twenty bundles to be given away or if there are twenty items and each person gets one, but either way, this is an amazing deal! Be sure to go visit and sign up! It is simple. This post will be at the top of my blog until December 8th when the contest ends.

The other thing I need to do is share a special memory. It is not said that it has to be a Christmas memory, but since it is Christmas time, I will go with that.

December 1996, I was in the hospital due to rising blood pressure and creatinine levels. My first child wasn't due for another month, and I had already been on bedrest for two months. Thanksgiving, Charles' 8th birthday, and Halloween had all passed by. We had a tree with an angel on top in our home and that was the extent of the decorations. My husband was working on a contract in California and my father was helping watch my two stepsons. I was looking at the Christmas tree that my mom had brought me for my room and praying that my baby would be born healthy, that I would be okay and if possible, I would be able to be home for Christmas. (Okay, so I had a lot on my Christmas list that year).

On December 20th, the doctors felt that Jack was close enough to his expected due date of January 19th and my body was doing poorly enough that we should go on and try to have us a child. First they tried to induce labor, after a day of misery (the medications made me feel awful as they tried to help me go into labor and keep my blood pressure in check at the same time). That evening, we went for the emergency c-section. I hadn't had a single contraction and we were worried about everyone's health. Around 9:30 pm, Jack was brought out into the world, with all his fingers and toes and everything else working perfectly.

On December 23rd, I was released from the hospital. It was a special Christmas, our new baby...all of us were healthy, and we were all home together for Jack's first Christmas. Our tree with the angel on top, was one of the prettiest trees we ever had!

Christmas Traditions Part 6 - Christmas Eve

I met my husband in 1990. From 1990 through December of 2005, we spent every Christmas Eve at his grandmother's home. The times of the gathering varied. Sometimes, it was at 2, sometimes at 6. Daniel's mom and uncle, his sister and her family, and five of his cousins and their family all come (some years, not everyone can make it, but you get the idea).

Daniel's grandmother, Nanny, would do the bulk of the cooking and preparation. In her later years, Daniel's nephew Jonathan was often there to help with things like decorating the tree and getting the table ready. We would all bring dishes to share. We would eat...some in the kitchen, some in the dining room, some in the living room. Before we ate, the kids would run around the yard playing. We would all gather in the kitchen and someone would say the blessing before we ate.

After we had stuffed ourselves on good food and conversation, we would clean up, then adjourn to the living room to pass out presents. Nanny always had a gift for everyone. Toys for the youngest, McDonald gift certificates for the older kids. And then a little something for all of us grown-ups...socks, tea towels, etc. And we all had gifts for Nanny and some of us had gifts for one another. After all the gift giving and Merry Christmas greetings and hugs, we would all go home.

A couple of years we went to see Christmas lights afterward with my sister-in-laws family, but it is pretty crowded, so we stopped that.

Now that Nanny has passed on, our Christmas Eves haven't turned into new full-blown traditions. But here are some of the things that we do in our own home on Christmas Eve:

We watch The Grinch and A Christmas Story. We read Twas the Night Before Christmas and the Story of Jesus from the bible. We listen to Christmas music. We may do a little last minute Christmas shopping. We may do some baking or cooking. We have a Christmas CD of very old Christmas music. We will listen to these songs, read about them and sip a glass of wine or eggnog.

If you want to read our other Christmas traditions that I have posted about, they are linked below:

First, I shared a treasured Christmas memory - as part of the Holiday Bundle Giveaway post.

Then I shared all of our favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes for your enjoyment.

Then I gave you the titles of our favorite Christmas movies in case you were looking for some new movies to watch this holiday season.

Then I shared a list of some of our favorite Christmas books.

Next came some Christmas Craft ideas.

Activities we enjoy during the month of December.

Can You See The Big Picture for Your Corporation?

If you have a large company, keeping up with all of the ins and outs of it can be more than a bit demanding. Do you know if your personnel is placed in the most strategic job slot? Do you know if your budget is going to handle the overtime, or would it be cheaper to bring in more personnel? Would you like a detailed analysis of what your various departments are doing (from an objective standpoint?) Is your company organized in the most efficient way possible?

In the corporate world, it is often difficult to see the forest for the trees. My husband has worked for a variety of corporations over the years and time and time again, he has been amazed how little communication there is between different departments, even when they are working on the same project. Departments tend to get tied up in their own project and neglect how there component fits into the bigger picture.

If you need to evalutate your corporate performance management, you should consider PROPHIX. PROPHIX delivers budgeting, forecasting, reporting, consolidation, personnel planning and other financial functions in a single solution. PROPHIX's ease of use and minimal IT involvement provide the benefit of rapid implementation and a lower total cost of ownership.

Figure out your company's strengths and weaknesses today and lead it into a more profitable and efficient structure tomorrow. .

Wisconsin Store Clerk Error Leads to Rush At Pump

MSNBC is reporting how a gas station clerk's error cost a business owner 1,734.56 in less than two hours. When changing the gas pump prices, the clerk mistakenly left of the final number '9' in the price (3.299) so the pump read the price as .33/gallon). The error went unnoticed by the clerks, but not by customers. And word spread quickly. No one bothered to let the store employees know, and in fact, even after the store was closed, people were lining up at the pump two cars deep to use their credit cards on this great deal.

The police noticed the commotion and called the store owner who came and pushed the emergency stop button. She couldn't believe how many dishonest people were taking advantage of the mistake.

So what do you think? Were these people dishonest and greedy? What should they have done? What would you have done?

I have a good friend who owns a convenience store and she has told me how little she makes off of a gallon of gas. So basically that 1734.56 is going to come out of the pocket of the store owner unless there is some kind of insurance that covers human error. Can you imagine if you lost that kind of money in less than 2 hours because of a mistake?

The first person who noticed their good fortune (and maybe they didn't notice it until they were done pumping and pay up time came), should have gone to the clerk and said...hey, something's not right here. Just like everyone else, I struggle with the rising gas prices, but as a good citizen, when I note an honest mistake, the thing to do is to tell someone in charge, not phone a few of my friends. And perhaps, that first person would have been given their gas at the incorrect price as a reward for pointing out the error, perhaps not, but the reward isn't the point, doing the right thing is.

Since most of these people seem to have paid with credit cards, I can't help but wonder if the law won't be catching up with them. There will be a record of their purchases after all. But then that was the price on the pump, so there may be nothing that can be done. Maybe some will have a bout of guilty conscience and come in and offer to make it right to the store owner. One can only hope.

December 7, 2007

Fair Market Business Valuation

Are you a business owner? Are you in search of a fair market Business valuationthat will give you an idea of what your business is worth? Perhaps you want to sell, but you aren't sure what your business is worth. Perhaps someone has contacted you and you aren't sure if it is a good offer or not. Maybe you need to borrow money and one of the things you need to be able to tell your bank is an objective evaluation of how much your business is worth.

If you are interested in a Fair Market Business Valuation, you can simply click on the link above. Fill in the information about your name and business and then you will be contacted by a FairMarketValuations.com representative. The two of you will work together to determine what the current fair market value of your business is.

Family - A Gentle Reminder That I Got in My Email Today

I ran into a stranger as he passed by,
'Oh excuse me please' was my reply.

He said, 'Please excuse me too;
I wasn't watching for you.'

We were very polite, this stranger and I.
We went on our way and we said goodbye.

But at home a different story is told,
How we treat our loved ones, young and old.

Later that day, cooking the evening meal,
My son stood beside me very still.

When I turned, I nearly knocked him down.
'Move out of the way,' I said with a frown.

He walked away, his little heart broken.
I didn't realize how harshly I'd spoken.

While I lay awake in bed,
God's still small voice came to me and said,

'While dealing with a stranger,
common courtesy you use,
but the family you love, you seem to abuse.

Go and look on the kitchen floor,
You'll find some flowers there by the door.

Those are the flowers he brought for you.
He picked them himself: pink, yellow and blue.

He stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise,
you never saw the tears that filled his little eyes.'

By this time, I felt very small,
And now my tears began to fall.

I quietly went and knelt by his bed;
'Wake up, little one, wake up,' I said.

'Are these the flowers you picked for me?'
He smiled, 'I found 'em, out by the tree.

I picked 'em because they're pretty like you.
I knew you'd like 'em, especially the blue.'

I said, 'Son, I'm very sorry for the way I acted today;
I shouldn't have yelled at you that way.'
He said, 'Oh, Mom, that's okay.
I love you anyway.'

I said, 'Son, I love you too,
and I do like the flowers, especially the blue.'

Are you aware that if we died tomorrow, the company
that we are working for could easily replace us in
a matter of days.
But the family we left behind will feel the loss
for the rest of their lives.

And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more
into work than into our own family,
an unwise investment indeed,
don't you think?
So what is behind the story?

Do you know what the word FAMILY means?

December 7 - A History of Art - Cimabue Santa Trinita Madonna

Cenni di Peppi, known as Cimabue, is traditionally believed to have been Giotto's teacher and is credited with preparing the ground for the naturalism of Giotto's revolutionary style. Not much is known of Cimabue's life.

Judging this by the commissions that he received, Cimabue appears to have been a highly-regarded artist in his day.

Cimabue was commissioned to paint two very large frescoes for the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. They are on the walls of the transepts: a Crucifixion and a Deposition. Unfortunately these works are now dim shadows of their original appearance. During occupancy of the building by invading French troops, straw caught fire, severely damaging the frescoes. The white paint was partially composed of silver, which oxidised and turned black, leaving the faces and much of the drapery of the figures in negative.

Among Cimabue's few surving works are the Madonna of Santa Trinita, once in the church of Santa Trinita, and now housed, with Duccio's Rucellai Madonna and Giotto's Ognissanti Madonna, in the Uffizi Gallery.

In the Lower Church of Saint Francis in Assisi is an extremely important fresco, depicting The Madonna and Christ Child enthroned with angels and Saint Francis. It is claimed to be a work of Cimabue's old age.

Santa Trinita Madonna by Cimabue

Note that the faces of the angels, although similar, are expressive and seem to show an awareness of one another. Moreover, although Cimabue "stacks" the angels on either side of the throne, with no real suggestion of depth, his architectural treatment of the throne shows an attempt to create a realistic, three-dimensional space - a new concept in art that was to be taken up with greater effect by Giotto

Here is some more Cimabue artwork.

Olga's Gallery also has some fine examples.

Information for this post comes from Wikipedia and History of Art by Kirsteen Bradbury.

Christmas Traditions Part 5 - Monthly Christmas Happenings

I have been busy writing posts about our Christmas Traditions. There was just too much information to put into one post.

First, I shared a treasured Christmas memory - as part of the Holiday Bundle Giveaway post.

Then I shared all of our favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes for your enjoyment.

Then I gave you the titles of our favorite Christmas movies in case you were looking for some new movies to watch this holiday season.

Then I shared a list of some of our favorite Christmas books.

Next came some Christmas Craft ideas.

Today, I will share some of the things that we do during the month of December. We aren't always able to do all of these every year depending on finances, but these are things we have enjoyed in years past and some this year as well.

Operation Christmas Child this is a wonderful program where you can fill a shoebox and send it to Samaritan's purse. It will then be sent to children around the world to help spread the Good News and to provide them with supplies that most of us would consider very basic. This is a wonderful way for our children to learn about giving and for us to witness to people we will probably never meet.

Christmas Tree Angels. My kids love pulling an angel off of the tree and shopping for a child at Christmas time.

Christmas Caroling with other church members. Going to the homes of elderly and shut-ins and singing to them and giving them a cake or a fruit basket.

Church Christmas programs and Cantatas. Always a wonderful way to return focus to Jesus. I have directed children's Christmas programs and I have had children participating in Children's programs. I love seeing my children involved in these types of activities.

Baking Christmas goodies and delivering them to friends and neighbors.

Jack and Katrina participate in an annual Christmas musicale. All of the piano students play a piece or two. Mrs. Booth gives them gifts and we have a reception afterwards.

Last year, we went to The Black Friar Theater in Staunton, VA and saw a delightful production of A Christmas Carol.

My father's family has a Christmas party every year on the Sunday before Christmas. My dad is one of seven, there are around 35 of us grandchildren and there is a growing number of great-grandchildren. It is a pretty big gathering. We eat. We visit. Santa comes. We play Thieve's Christmas. My dad lives near the rest of his siblings, so we get up early and go to his house first. We have breakfast and Christmas with him and Dianne before heading to the big Christmas party.

My husband's family also has a Christmas gathering. It used to be on Christmas eve at my husband's grandmother's home (Nanny), but after she passed June 2006, we came up with other arrangements. The last two years, my mother-in-law has come up from Florida. We have rented a Community Center that has a kitchen and a large area for tables and such. Then we decorate things up a bit to look like Christmas. We eat, the kids play and we exchange gifts.

My mom and stepfather go out of town the week of Christmas so we get together for gift exchanges when we can fit it into the busy December schedule.

We go to the Bedford Christmas parade the first Sunday of the month.

We drive around looking at Christmas lights. In Bedford, VA, there is the National Elk's Home. They put on a huge free display each year. There is also a park that the county of Bedford decorates, so we have a delightful evening driving through the town of Bedford looking at the lovely lights.

Stay Tuned for our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day activities and for photos of our decorations (we are almost finished).

Breakfast in Bed, A Good Book to Read, Remote Close at Hand, A Hot Cup of Tea

These are a few of my favorite things!

Close your eyes and travel with me through my favorite day...well, maybe you can't close your eyes, because then you can't read the words, but you know what I mean!

It is a cold winter day...snow is falling outside and I am snuggled under the covers looking out as the snow covers the world in beauty. There is a quiet knock at the door. I hesitate, but then say 'come in', knowing that my peaceful moment is over. Imagine my surprise when my son appears carrying a tray with my breakfast sat upon it. There is toast, juice and an omelet. Behind him is my daughter carrying a lovely cup of peppermint tea.

After I get over my shock, I sit up in bed and gratefully accept my children's offering. My daughter leaves and comes back with the current book I am reading. They present me with a bell and tell me to ring it should I need anything to simply give it a shake. They leave and I enjoy my breakfast while watching the snow fall.

When I am done, I ring my handy bell and the kids come back and take away my tray. I dive into my book and read, uninterrupted for a couple of hours. Then my hubby comes in with a brand new chick flick that I haven't seen and offers to watch it with me.

We sit snuggled in bed watching the movie and he doesn't make any 'cheesy' comments. When the movie is over, I finally leave my warm, cozy nest and head out to prepare lunch, only to find that it is ready and waiting. My kitchen elves have been busy again. We eat and chat and watch the snow falling down.

After lunch, the kids and I work on 500 piece jigsaw puzzle. When we finish, we get out Monopoly and spend the rest of a fun-filled afternoon trying to drive one another into bankruptcy. For supper, the pizza man knocks on the door delivering a yummy veggie pizza!

After supper, and the quick clean up, we all settle on the sofa in the living room and watch a fun kid's film, The Incredibles. When that is done, the kids go to bed to read and go to sleep. Daniel and I watch another movie before retiring for the night.

Ahh....what a day. Did you enjoy it? I certainly did. Now, I have one small confession to make, this is a composition of favorite moments with my family. All of these events have occured at one time or another.

I have been blessed with a lifetime of awesome moments and when I read the parameters of this month's December Write-Away contest , thousands of moments flew threw my head...trips, autumn hikes with my dad when I was a child, movies and shopping with my mom, days spent snuggled in bed reading a good book, days spent playing games in front of a roaring fire...how could I ever just pick one day? So I took some of my favorite moments and put them together into one lovely day!

My wish for you is that you have at least one perfect day in your life, but thousands, no millions of perfect moments!

December 6, 2007

Boo Mama is having a Souptacular Day -

It is cold and the soup is on! Join Boo Mama and other souper moms to get a yummy recipe that will warm your innards and thrill your taste buds!

Melissa’s Vegetable Soup
Melissa Orndorff Davis Markham, I created this


Wyler’s Soup starter (vegetable or beef stew)
1 onion, chopped or diced depending on what you like
1 lb stew beef
1 bag (2 lb) frozen mixed vegetables
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
Garlic and other seasonings to taste
2-3 tbsp oil


First I follow the directions on the soup starter which is to put 6 cups of water into a pot, mix with soup mix and bring to a boil. Then it has to cook for 20 minutes on low with a cover on the pot.

Meanwhile heat oil in a skillet, then add in onions and garlic (the garlic is optional, but I love it. I put in 1 tbsp). Once the onions are starting to soften, add stew meat and brown. Add stew meat, onions and juices into the pot with the soup starter. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and frozen veggies. If you like other seasonings/flavors, add them in.

Then let simmer for 3 hours for the flavor to go through.

I can't find the Wyler's mix anymore, so I just follow the other directions and add my own seasonings. DH loves my veggie soup.

Christmas Traditions Part 4 - Crafts

I have been busy writing posts about our Christmas Traditions. There was just too much information to put into one post.

First, I shared a treasured Christmas memory - as part of the Holiday Bundle Giveaway post.

Then I shared all of our favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes for your enjoyment.

Then I gave you the titles of our favorite Christmas movies in case you were looking for some new movies to watch this holiday season.

Then I shared a list of some of our favorite Christmas books.

Today I will be sharing information about some of crafty endeavors.

Several years ago, I used counted cross-stitch to create a stocking for each of our family members. There is one for Daniel, Me, Bruce, Charles (they have theirs), Jack and Katrina. I can't figure out where I found the time!

We all love snow...lots and lots of snow! So, when we put up our Christmas Decorations, we hang our homemade paper snowflakes. They actually are left hanging when we take down the Christmas decorations. We keep them up until when I take down the St. Patrick's day decorations...the green decor with the snowflakes if very pretty.

If you want to make some of your own snowflakes, check out these websites:

Fun virtual snowflakes

Instructions for paper snowflakes

One year, we collected pine cones (the closed kind mostly). We painted them with different colors of glitter paint, purchase some red and green ribbons, baskets and silk pointsettias. Then we make a basket for ourselves and we gave several away for Christmas. We store them each year by wrapping them in plastic. They make wonderful centerpieces or they also look nice on shelves, mantels, etc. depending on their size.

A couple of years ago, we ran across a neat craft idea. I am not sure where we found it. Take your old Christmas cards and use a 3 inch in diameter cookie cutter to trace circles on the Christmas cards. Then use some fancy edged scissors (I think they are called pinking shears) to cut out the circles. Choose a pretty roll of shelf paper and get a roll of clear shelf paper. Take the pretty paper and lie it down on the table, sticky side up. Cut it the size of a placemat. Then remove the backing and lay down your circles so they overlap. Cover with clear contact paper. Trip edges as you like. We trimmed around the rounded edges. This is a wonderful way to keep those beautiful Christmas cards, recycle and create something useful at the same time. Keep them or give them as gifts.

The last fun craft that we haven't done in awhile. I don't have any examples, but we may make some more because they are so pretty! Take posterboard, use three different size circles (like biscuit cutters, glasses, etc). Cut three circles for each snowman. Cut a black hat out of construction paper for each snowman. Use some tape to hold the three circles together (we put the tape on the back). Biggest circle should be on the bottom. Tape on the hat. Then use glitter and sequins for the eyes, nose, buttons, mouth! They are so lovely! Have fun!

Company Domain Names - Give A Gift That Will Last All Year

Just like in everyday life, name recognition and location are very important in cyber space! If you have a brick and mortar business, the best way to have your customers find you in cyberspace is to have a domain name that matches your brick and mortar store. If you have a blog, get a domain name that matches your blog name. If you have a particular type of product, then you are going to want a domain name that reflects that. For instance if you sell Victorian Cards, you might want a domain name like www.victoriancards.com. There are a lot of domain names out there, but there are many that have yet to have been used. Give a gift that will last all year (either to yourself or an entrepreneur you know) by checking with a Domain name registrar.

For more information, read EnCirca's press release below!

.Pro Internet Domains On Sale for Holidays
Great Gift Idea for Licensed Professionals

Boston – December 5, 2007 – EnCirca (www.encirca.com ), domain registrar for .pro, announces a 25% discount promotion for all .pro premium domains. .pro premium domains are designed for all licensed professionals, such as lawyers, doctors, engineers, accountants, dentists, architects, realtors, pharmacists, financial advisors and industrial contractors. Self-employed professionals as well as professional service firms can use .pro to advertise themselves on the internet.

A .pro internet domain is a great gift idea for the professional in your life, including family members, co-workers and friends. The 25% .pro discount promotion ends December 31, 2007.

The .pro domain provides instant branding visibility for professionals of all types looking to promote themselves on the internet. Descriptive keywords in domain names are important for providing professionals a competitive edge in search engine marketing. Many professionals have found that .pro is the best option when it comes to finding appropriate keywords for search engine marketing.

“.pro is ideal for professionals who want to establish a unique presence online”, says Thomas Barrett, President of EnCirca. “A .pro internet address signifies someone who has credibility and mastery of their chosen occupation.”

The .pro domain can be used for a company’s name, brand name, trademark, or as a descriptive keyword to describe a commercial service. Search engines consider keyword relevance in a domain name when ranking search results. In the “Free-Agent” economy, where professionals frequently move from firm to firm, it is also used by professionals to secure their own personal name in .pro to establish a blog.

What is a pro?
pro stands for “professional”, a title bestowed upon someone who has demonstrated mastery of knowledge and skills in their chosen occupation or career. Professions are usually regulated by professional bodies that may set examinations of competence, act as a licensing authority for practitioners, and enforce adherence to an ethical code of practice. Examples of professions include: Doctors, Lawyers, Dentists, Therapists, Pharmacists, Nurses, Industrial Contractors, Teachers, Architects, Engineers, Surveyors, Accountants, Financial Advisors, Realtors, and Insurance Agents.

Examples of professionals who have established websites using .pro domains include:

• Lynch.pro (www.lynch.pro )– Chartered Accounting agency
• Wright.pro (www.wright.pro) – Zachary Wright, lawyer in Seattle
• Larealty.pro (www.larealty.pro) – Los Angeles Realty professionals
• Hplaw.pro (www.hplaw.pro) – Hesik, Prybylo Law Partners in Oak Park, Illinois
• Arcadia.pro (www.arcadia.pro) – Architecture firm based in North Carolina
• Educate.pro (www.educate.pro) – Bluewave International education service
• Visalaw.pro (www.visalaw.pro) – The official blog of Nexus Advisory
• Appeal.pro (www.appeal.pro) – Chad Ruback, Appellate lawyer
• Smiles.pro (www.smiles.pro) – Livreri Orthodontics in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
• 1040.pro (www.1040.pro) – Sinclair Associates, an accounting firm in New Jersey
• Patentlawyers.pro (www.patentlawyers.pro) – John F. Early – Registered Patent Attorney
• RMSengineering.pro (www.rmsengineering.pro) – Rainwater Management Solutions,
a professional engineering firm

About EnCirca
.pro registrar EnCirca (www.encirca.com) was formed in 2001 and is based near Boston, Massachusetts, USA. EnCirca also supports many other top-level extensions, including .travel, .jobs, .asia, .mobi, .com, .net, .org, .info. For more information, contact EnCirca at +1.781.942.9975 or pr@encirca.com .

December 6 - A History of Art - Pietro Cavallini - The Last Judgment

Pietro Cavallini was active from 1273 to 1308. He was in all likelihood a leading artist of his time. His two major surviving works are mosaics of the Life of the Virgin (Sta Maria in Trastevere, signed and dated 1291) and a fragmentary fresco cycle, the most important part of which is a Last Judgement (Sta Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome).

He was the first artist to make a significant break with the stylizations of Byzantine art, and his majestic figures have a real sense of weight and three-dimensionality. His work undoubtedly influenced his great contemporary Giotto, whose Last Judgement in the Arena Chapel at Padua features Apostles enthroned exactly as in Cavallini's fresco of the subject.

The Last Judgment (detail of The Apostles); 1295-1300 (60 Kb); Wall painting; Santa Cecilia at Trastevere, Rome

For other detailed images of The Last Judgment, check out Web Gallery of Art. If you click on the thumbnail size images, you will go to a much larger and more detailed image of this artwork. Not only did Cavallini move away from the Byzantine style with the pale colors that he used, but his work was notable for the individuality of the faces personifying Christ and his apostles. Each was painted to reflect the man's character and not to be the archetypal ideal.

Visit the University of Wisconsin for detailed images of The Life of the Virgin But, please note, you cannot see the larger images unless you are a student or faculty member there.

The Annunciation, Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Something I thought was cool in the picture above is that in the top center, you can see the face of Jesus, then from there you follow a light to a dove and then follow the light to Mary. A visual image of the Holy Spirit placing Jesus in Mary's womb.

Information came from the following sources:

WebMuseum, Paris



History of Art by Kirsten Bradbury

Sorry that I missed posting yesterday, but you know how it is...sometimes there is more to do than there is time to do it in!

For more Art History posts, go to my main page and click on the Art History category

Webby Planet - Easy Coupon Searches

I try to let you know when I find a new site that offers coupon codes to help you save money. Webby Planet is such a place. They have a huge database. And so many ways to search it! (That's the part I like). For instance, I clicked on the games and toys category, and I found stores I had never even heard of (and some great deals!) You can also search based on keywods or by alphabet letter. For instance the letter 'T' has 5 pages of stores listed under it!

When you choose a category, the stores come up alphabetically and at the bottom of the page, there are sections that show you new stores that have become part of the Webby Planet network, extra great deals and gift certificates that are available to help you save money! If you still have some Christmas shopping to do, set down with your list and visit Webby Planet. You will save money!

December 5, 2007

Movie and Book Review:Pollyanna

If you haven't ever read the story of Pollyanna or seen the movie, I highly recommend both. We just read the story and what a wonderful story it is! I remember reading it over and over as a child and trying to play the glad game as it had such a postive effect on everyone.

I know times are busy now, but make time to borrow or buy this delightful movie or book in January. It is a story that changes lives! It doesn't get any better than that! Watch as a young orphan transforms the hearts of an entire town!

Christmas Traditions Part 3 - Books

First, I shared a treasured Christmas memory - as part of the Holiday Bundle Giveaway post.

Then I shared all of our favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes for your enjoyment.

Then I gave you the titles of our favorite Christmas movies in case you were looking for some new movies to watch this holiday season.

Today, I thought I would share our favorite Christmas books with you.

Both of my children are very good readers. Katrina, who is only 7 enjoys reading Nancy Drew Mysteries, Mary Kate and Ashley movies and other such books. So over the summer, we had to clean off her bookshelves so we could make room for her chapter book collection that was growing. We went through the golden books, the easy reader paperbacks and the beautiful picture books. We couldn't let those go, so we put them in a box and packed them up for when Jack and Katrina have children of their own.

What we realized tonight, was that a lot of our Christmas stories are no longer here, they are packed away in that box at my mom's. So Frosty, Rudolph, Santa's Surprise, Poky's Christmas and some others will have to slumber for awhile.

However, we have some good ones still available to read.

Can It Be True? by Susan Hill with pictures by Angela Barrett (a story about Jesus with lovely pictures)

The Steadfast Tin Soldier illustrated by Fred Marcellino. I have loved this bittersweet story since I was a child.

Santa and the Christ Child by Nicholas Bakewell. I was given a figurine of Santa kneeling by the baby Jesus. Then I found it was linked to this story. I love this book and it really brings home what Christmas is all about.

The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell - this is absolutely one of my favorite books. I love the story of The Littlest Angel and the gift he gave to honor the Baby Jesus. If you have never read this one, be sure to read it this holiday season!

The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Cheryl Harness - my in-laws purchased this book for my stepsons over 15 years ago. We still read it every Christmas Eve.

And of course we read the Nativity Story from the Bible.

Today, we picked up three other Christmas books to add to our holiday reading list. Our library only allows us to take three seasonal books at a time. Our choices this week were:

A Christmas Story by Brian Wildsmith

The Snow Speaks by Nancy White Carlstrom

Rocking Horse Christmas by Mary Pope Osborne

More Lead in Toy News

Today, MSNBC is reporting that 35% of the toys still on the shelf that have higher than acceptable amounts of lead and other dangerous chemicals. That means more than 1 in 3 toys has unacceptable amounts of lead. What are you doing regarding lead toys in your home. My children are older and I haven't worried about it too much as their toys don't often end up in their mouths. I do wonder about the possibility of the lead out of these toys getting into the environment. I mean, wasn't that one of the big problems with lead paint? It chipped and the lead got into the air and ground and carpet?

One point made in the article was that the lead is not always in an 'accessible' form. I guess that means it is so bound in the materials that it won't leech out? So many questions, but are there any answers?

It's Snowing!!!!!

Yep, we are getting our first snow of the year! It snowed for about an hour earlier this morning and we immediately cancelled school...what did you expect? It's the first snowday of the year! The kids went out and played in the dusting, and then it melted, but now it is snowing heavily again. We are not expecting accumulation, but we are definitely enjoying it somcing down! This is the first snow since we had our French doors installed last spring. So I can sit on my sofa and look out the doors at the snow. So we are baking cookies, watching Pollyanna (a movie I borrowed from Netflix that is based on one of my favorite books from when I was a child).

And in a bit we are going to get the Christmas decorations out of the building and start decorating! Christmas is coming!

Spock - A People Search Engine That is Fascinating!

Do you ever use a search engine and search for your name? You know to see how many times you pop up (and how close to the top of the searches?). As a writer, I do it from time to time. I will also search for people I know, but with some search engines you don't just get links to people, you get links to a larger variety of informaiton that you are having to wade through. And it doesn't always tell you 'where' that person is. However, Spock.com - The Best Way to Search People returns people oriented links and is easy to use. So I have signed up and I have been enjoying playing around with this fun site.

First I tried the name of a friend and author, Dotti Enderle. I enjoyed visiting the different sites that she is linked up to. Though, I do know there are more links to her on the web than showed up. So then, I checked out my name of Melissa O. Markham. I love seeing my name in print! What I found interesting is that when I took the 'O' out (which stands for my maiden name, Orndorff, btw), a lot more hits appeared and there are a lot of Melissa Markham's in the world! Maybe we should create a club! And it even shows pictures!

So, then I had to look for Daniel and he was only fifth down in line! When I clicked on him, I found some more specific information and I can actually add more links to his profile.

So I left behind the names of those I know, and then I checked out some of those famous people I like to know about and know how to contact. Obviously, Johnny Depp had to be top of my list! There were pictures, movie links, news articles, and where he is mentioned on the web. Lots of cool information here! Did you know that he dropped out of high school? That his real name is John Christopher Depp II? That he was born June 9th, 1963? All of this information and more can be found at the fingertips!

One more search...and then I really must do something more productive. Geoffrey Rush is a favorite of my daughter's. She loved his performance in the POTC series and she was so thrilled when he showed up at the end of the second movie! It made her day. I would love to figure out a way to get an autographed photo of him as Barbossa for her. But I haven't found out how to do that yet. Perhaps Spock can help me.

So, go search Spock and find people you are looking for!

December 4, 2007

Email Problems

For the last couple of hours, my email has not been acting correctly. I am not sure exactly what is going on and DH has hit the sack early. If you are trying to reach me, please comment here! Thanks! I don't know why these things always seem to happen within days of Daniel going out of town!

Linky Love - I Made a New Friend

I got tagged today by a new friend. Her name is Nikki and I would like to invite you to visit her. She has a sweet looking blog and right now she is looking for others to share their autumn poetry with her! So stop by, say hi and visit a spell!

She tagged me with the 7 weird things about me tag. I had done that recently, but if you missed it, you can check it out here.

European Ski Holidays

Have you ever thought about how much fun it would be to go on a luxury skiing holiday? You know, you could stay luxury ski chalet, enjoy roaring fires, spectacular views and some of the finest ski slopes in the world.

Whether you want to stay in one of the luxury chalets in St Anton, Austria, Courchevel, France or Meribel, France, Supertravel has over 40 years of experience and is ready to help you plan out the luxury skiing holiday of your dreams!

Book Review: Crimson Eve by Brandilyn Collins and a Giveaway!

SaraB at Young Mom in a Big World was randomly chosen by my sweet, but sick daughter to win a copy of Crimson Eve. Thanks to everyone for playing along! Check back, more giveaways are on the horizon!

About a month ago, I was fortunate enough to win an autographed copy of Brandilyn Collins' newest book: Crimson Eve. I just finished reading it today. In fact, I took it with me to the library to read while Katrina was picking out books. She used the fact that I was getting near the end to 'bribe' me into letting her play on the library computer for awhile so I could finisht he book! Smart girl!

Crimson Eve is the third in the Kanner Laker Sereis. I haven't read the other Kanner Lane books, nor have I read anything written by Brandilyn before, but I will be reading more in the future. The book is excellent. Even though it is the third in the series, I had no trouble following it at all. This story stands on its own. The action is nonstop and in fact rivals the '24' series with the pace and the fact that the whole book covers little more than 24 hours of time (yet spans a couple of decades). If you enjoy reading fast paced thrillers with strong female characters, you would love this book! I give it a thumbs up!

And since I love sharing, I would like to pass this book on to another reader! This is open to any U.S. reader. Just leave a comment below. I will have a random drawing next Wednesday (the 12th) at 6 pm to pick the lucky winner!

Area Rugs - An Inexpensive and Attractive Fix

Three years ago, we remodeled my daughter's room. I was envisioning pinks and purples (her favorite colors). I found beautiful fairy wallpaper and border that I loved and in the right colors too...but she wasn't having any of it....Nope, she chose beige wallpaper that went with the beautiful border full of baby big cats (tigers, lions, leopards...). That's my daughter, the girly Big Cat lover. We affectionately call her the Jungle Princess.

So, then it was off to the carpet store. We ended up with the perfect matching carpet (unfortunately not the best for a child's room). It is beige with little speckles in it. The sales lady assured me that the little speckles would help hide dirt...but they don't hide the stain from when Maggie (our golden retriever) came to live with us and peed on the floor and then I used the wrong kind of cleaner to clean it up with. They don't hide the pink stain from the kid's makeup kit that Katrina was given...so now I am thinking an area rug might be the answer. One day we will want to move. I can shampoo the carpet, but then it will get dirty again. An area rug over the main area would help protect the main carpet. Perhaps something in a nice animal print!

There are other areas in our house that could do with lovely Area Rugs. Our den is one of two rooms that has not been recarpeted in the 14 years that we have lived here. Partially because we were busy working on all the other rooms and partially because recarpeting the den means moving two desks (with computers), a long two drawer wooden filing cabinet, 3 bookshelves full of books, a piano, and a cabinet for homeschooling stuff...to recarpet means moving all of that stuff and finding a place for all of that stuff....a huge undertaking! But it is also the most walked through room in the house and the carpet is literally gone in spots. Something must be done. This would be another perfect spot for a lovely area rug...something bright and cheery with some blues to it would work nicely. Our bedroom only has about 3 feet of exposed rug and that carpet is holding up okay, so I am not too worried about it.

The living room and dining room share the same parquet floor. We installed that in 1998. It really brightened up the house, but it has not worn well. Furniture being slid across the floor, hotwheel battles, and Maggie have all taken their toll. Pluss, the floor is chilly. An area rug or two in here would hide a myriad of imperfections. Maybe something warm and traditional. So, do you use area rugs? And if so, what are their purpose?

December 4 - A History of Art - The Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux Tapestry (French: Tapisserie de Bayeux) is a 50 cm by 70 m (20 in by 230 ft) long embroidered cloth which depicts the events leading up to the 1066 Norman invasion of England as well as the events of the invasion itself. The Tapestry is annotated in Latin. It is presently exhibited in a special museum in Bayeux, Normandy, France.

Since the earliest known written reference to the tapestry in a 1476 inventory of Bayeux Cathedral, its origins have been the subject of much speculation and controversy.

In France, traditional legend said that the tapestry was commissioned and created by Queen Matilda, William the Conqueror's wife, and her ladies.

However, recent scholarly analysis in the 20th century shows it probably was commissioned by William the Conqueror's half brother, Bishop Odo. The reasons for the Odo commission theory include: three of the bishop's followers mentioned in Domesday Book appear on the tapestry; it was found in Bayeux Cathedral, built by Odo; it may have been commissioned at the same time as the cathedral's construction in the 1070's, possibly completed by 1077 in time for display on the cathedral's dedication.

The Bayeux tapestry is embroidered in wool yarn on a tabby-woven linen ground using two methods of stitching: outline or stem stitch for lettering and the outlines of figures, and couching or laid work for filling in figures. The linen is assembled in panels and has been patched in numerous places.

The main yarn colours are terracotta or russet, blue-green, dull gold, olive green, and blue, with small amounts of dark blue or black and sage green. Later repairs are worked in light yellow, orange, and light greens. Laid yarns are couched in place with yarn of the same or contrasting colour.

For many centuries, the Bayeux Tapestry was apparently forgotten. It was not until the eighteenth century that it was rediscovered, by two French archaeologists.

Here you can read the tale told by the Bayeux Tapestry - The story of William the Conqueror and Harold, Earl of Wessex, the men who led the Norman and Saxon armies in 1066. William's defeat of Harold at the Battle of Hastings ensured the success of the Norman invasion of England...

This part of the tapestry shows the crowning of Harold in January 1066.

For more images, go here.

And check out this cool YouTube video of the Bayeux Tapestry...the art work has been animated! It is really cool!

Some of the above information came from:

History of Art by Kirsten Bradbury and Wikipedia (be sure to visit there for more information and pictures)

Be sure to check out other Art History posts by visiting my main page and clicking on the Art History category on the right sidebar.

Hotel Reservations Don't Have to Be Expensive

You don't have to pay full price for Hotel Reservations. In fact prices for hotel rooms is more of a guideline than anything else. My husband worked in DC a few years ago. He would walk up to the desk and ask for their best price on a room. They would say something like $175. He would walk to a phone, call a travel agent and get a reservation for $125.00 at the same hotel. We have seen this sort of thing time and time again with hotel reservations, car rentals, and plane flights. Just last week, he checked into a car rental. If he used his gold membership car, the car rental was twice as much!!!! So check around to find the best price. Saving that money means you have more money for things like eating at fine restaurants or sight seeing while you are on your trip!

Christmas Traditions: Part 2 - Movies

Yesterday I blogged about our Christmas traditions of baking cookies and shared our favorite recipes with you. I thought about doing a post with everything we do for Christmas in it, but it would have been huge! So I decided I would just tackle one aspect a day. Then it will be recorded for posterity and your reading enjoyment!

Christmas is a time that I love to watch Christmas movies and I have favorites that I enjoy watching every year! I thought you might enjoy reading our list of Christams favorites. I would love to hear if any of them are on your favorites list or if you decide to add them to your holiday movie watching!

Here they are in no particular order:

Miracle on 34th Street The one I like is the 1947 version with Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn and a very young Natalie Wood. I have always thought Maureen was an excellent actress ( I love her in The Quiet Man with John Wayne).

It's a Wonderful Life We watch this movie every year either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. It is such a heartwarming reminder of how each and everyone of us makes a huge difference.

Elf with Will Ferrell and James Caan is a recent addition to our Christmas movie line-up. We love the big Elf with the huge heart....and the even bigger burp!

Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. This movie is electrifying! I don't know which part I like better...Chevy Chase and his great lighting adventure or Randy Quaid and his shenanigan's. Randy really made the movie explode with laughter!

Another movie that we watch on Christmas Eve is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Would any holiday be complete without the message that the true meaning of Christmas was in the hearts of the Whos down in Whoville.

An American Christmas Carol - this version of A Christmas Carol displays the acting talents of Henry Winkler (the Fonz). It is a wonderful story of a 20th century Scrooge. The familiar story will feel comfortable like a pair of old slippers, but the updated twists are delightful.

The Polar Express with Tom Hanks is another new addition to our movie collection. We were lucky enough to see it in an IMAX theater. I highly recommend doing that if you get the chance. The scenes where the train are going down into the gulch will take on a whole new meaning for you!

A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott. In my humble opinion, George C. Scott makes the best Scrooge ever! If you haven't seen this version, be sure to check it out this holiday season!

The Night They Saved Christmas with Jaclyn Smith, Art Carney and Paul Williams. This is a movie from the 80s, but I still enjoy watching it.

Disney's The Santa Clause this movie is hilarious! And they use some of the same fun cinema magic in Evan Almighty.

Jingle All the Way with Arnold Schwarzenegger will make every parent who has ever missed out on that 'special' toy laugh and shake their head in a very knowing manner.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph and The Island of the Misfit Toys

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas

Frosty the Snowman

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

The Year Without A Santa Claus - This is one of my favorite Christmas cartoons...Mr. Heat Miser and Mr. Freeze Miser...gotta love them!

Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn and White Christmas and The Bells of St. Mary. - My mom loved Bing Crosby. When he died, she sent a sympathy card to his family and got a lovely response in return from his wife. I have to watch those movies every year at Christmas time.

A Christmas Story
- this is another classic that is part of our Christmas Eve ritual. My husband loves to watch this movie. A couple of years ago I bought him his own leg lamp.

Christmas in Connecticut with Tony Curtis, Dyan Cannon and Kris Kristofferson is another fun Christmas tale of love.

and finally...Little House on the Prairie There are two episode I love to watch:

Christmas at Plum Creek - I dare you to watch this episode and not cry! When Laura makes a huge sacrifice out of love for her mother...I get misty eyed just thinking about it!

The Christmas They Never Forgot - in this episode, the adults (Mary and Laura now among them) remember past Christmas stories during a blizzard.

oh yeah...in order to balance out the sentimental movies, my hubby demands to watch at least one Die Hard movie during the holidays! Well, it does take place during the Christmas holiday...

As I look atthe two towering stacks of Christmas movies here, I am wondering when we will have time to watch all of these this Christmas season...and the fact is that we probably won't. I just don't have that much time anymore. But we will watch our favorites and we will remember the lessons they share about faith, love, family and tradition!

Organize Your Movie Collection

We have a lot of movies, I mean a lot. We started buying DVDs back in the day when the only place you could get them was at Circuit City and the cheapest you could get was 18.99. We would go every couple of weeks and there were maybe 20 titles and there would be one or two new ones which we would add to our collection. Now we probably own around 1000 DVDs. Movies are our biggest 'vice'. We live 30 minutes from town and with the cost of going to the theater these days, it is cheaper and easier to purchase the movies we want to see and have them here at home. Plus, there is the added advantage of the extras you get with DVDs and the fact that by owning the movies you can watch them multiple times and loan them to friends. Our neighbors love us!

We have a book shelf and a half full of DVDs, plus two boxes of videos. This year, we had to make more room for the DVDs, so we went through our 200 videos. Some were given away or sold because we knew we could get replacements on DVD (like the Rocky collection). the rest are sitting in 2 boxes until we can actually replace them. They are older movies and good movies, but we are not sure we can find them on DVD and until we can, we don't want to get rid of them.

Then there are the movies Daniel TiVos, the movies we very occasionally borrow from Blockbuster or a friend, the movies we watch on PayPerView, and lastly the movies I get from Netflix...All of this can become very confusing to keep up with, needless to say!

Our videos used to be organized by category (Christmas, horror, comedy, etc). Our DVDs have always been stacked alphabetically (don't ask me why we used the two different methods because I don't know!). You have no idea how many times we have thought we had a movie only to find out we didn't. We end up realizing it was a movie we borrowed or watched on TV, but not before we wonder who we loaned it out to and forgot to write it down. When people borrow movies, they write them down on a piece of paper for us. Then when they bring them back, we tear up the piece of paper...very complicated...very 20th century...And so I was thinking perhaps we should move into the 21st century with our movies and create a database. Plus it would be a great way to convince the insurance people that we really do own a thousand movies in case of fire or robbery.

Fortunately, software companies are a step ahead of me and ready to help me create my Personal Video Database. This will allow me to list all of my movies, keep track of who has borrowed what and keep track of whether a movie was something we saw on TiVo, DVD, VHS, or whatever. No more scratching our heads and going...'didn't we own that movie?'

All My Movies looks like a great product that will do what I have been thinking and more. It is also said to be user friendly, Vista Compatible (which is great as many programs aren't yet), And it has some other neat features...like you can get a cheap barcode scanner and it will put all the information about your movie in for you. It also provides extra information about actors and you can export your list into other formats (such as HTML and Excel). Have you tried All My Movies? I would love to hear from you! If not, I will be considering this as a gift for my geeky husband this Christmas! He is always complaining that movies are disappearing. This should answer that question once and for all!

December 3, 2007

December 3 - A History of Art - The Book of Kells

As I continue through the pages of History of Art by Kirsten Bradbury, I see page after page of beautifully illustrated Gospels in the Early Medieval Time. I do not know if that was the only art to survive from that time period or if it was simply the most prevalent. I am simply following along in this book which I am using as a guide as I try to learn a little about the world of art. I love looking at the beautiful ways the Bible has been illustrated in times past. Can you begin to imagine the painstaking work of creating this beautiful work!?

The Book of Kells contains the four gospels in Latin and was created by Irish monks living at Iona, an island in Scotland's Inner Hebrides. The pages are made of vellum and decorated with richly colored dyes, some imported from the Middle East. Monks created such wors as a sign of their obedience and devotion to God. They believed that the Word of God should be recorded within scenes of beauty.

The Viking invasions caused the monks to flee to Kells in Ireland, leaving the Book of Kells unfinished.

This page opens the Gospel of John

This is an image of the four evangelists

If you would like to purchase a DVD-Rom that contains the complete Book of Kells, you can do that here. This would make an amazing gift!

For more extensive information and wonderful pictures check out the Wikipedia article.

This appears to be a college level written paper on the Book of Kells

Rare Mayan Death Vase Discovered

This beautiful vase was discovered in Honduras in the 1,400-year-old grave of a member of the Maya elite. The vase is carved with sculpted scrolls, overlapping tiles meant to resemble serpent scales, and handles fashioned into the shape of bats' heads.

Studies of the soil in and around the vase contained traces of things like pollen from corn, false ipecac, and cacao. These trace particles have helped the archaeologists to solve some mysteries regarding the use of these vases. For more information, read the rest of the article at National Geographic.

Get Help With Your Law School Personal Statement.

I remember my senior year in highschool. I had two colleges in mind to apply for and the applications were a little bit intimidating (but only a little...as I love to write, in case you haven't noticed). However, I knew kids who were literally sweating bullets as they tried to come up with the right words for their personal essays (not to mention the right words spelled correctly and used correctly as well). I remember reading over some of my friend's personal essays and helping them with some of those issues and pointing out to them strong points or experiences that they had left out.

It is a scary thing to a studen to know so much can be riding on one essay. I know that the Dean of Admission will tell you that it is just a part, but it is a very important part. They look at your grades, they look at your test scores, they look at your transcripts and then they read those essays and you can lose them there if you aren't careful! If a very real sense, applying to college is as tough, if not tougher, than applying for a job. You are essentially selling yourself to a stranger and you better do a good and convincing job. You only get one shot at this and with college and graduate school essays and personal statements, you have a disadvantage...you aren't being personally interviewed. There is no chance for your body language or appearance to help or hinder your cause.

You would think that after you had mastered 4 years of college, that applying for law school wouldn't be so difficult. I mean, you have been through the application process before, you have written a personal essay before, this should be a piece of cake, right?

Maybe...it depends on your writing skills and your selling skills. Did you know that each year law schools accept less than 11% of their highly qualified applicants? That means if 1000 people apply, only 110 or less get accepted. That's tough!

You have already spent four years preparing for the next step of your career which is law school. You have worked hard, gotten good grades, and maybe graduated top of your class...but how are you going to compare with the best of the other colleges around the nation? You need to use your application to convince the Law School Admissions office that you will succeed in their law school. That you will increase their standing and be an asset to them. The final decision can come down to the difference between law school personal statements.

If the Admissions Staff has two very similar sets of scores and classes, they are going to be left with comparing those essays. And it will be your words versus their words. To make sure that your essay is as powerful as you can make it, isn't it worth a small investment in a service that can help review what you have written? They can give you tips and pointers that may help propel your essay to the top of the stack.

Holiday Homeschool Open House 2007 - Cookies, Cookies, Cookies!

This post is a sticky post and will be the second top post on my blog until December 7th. Please scroll down for newer posts

Tiany is hosting a Holiday Homeschool Open House 2007. If you haven't heard about it, no worries, there is plenty of time to join in! It beings December 3rd and runs until December 7th. This is a chance for you to share about Christmas - you choose what. Memories, crafts, special traditions, recipes, etc.

Christmas is a busy time in our home. We actually homeschool extra in the summer so we can take the month of December off for baking, visiting, decorating and having fun.

Baking cookies is something that I have done since I was a child. My mom is an excellent cook and she always made lots and lots of different kinds. The month of December, our home smelled good the whole month long. We ate cookies, we gave cookies away as gifts and one of my favorite childhood traditions was eating cookies for breakfast on Christmas morning. As I got older, I would get out all the cookies, start the coffee, pour the milk, turn on the Christmas music, and set the table. I am sure mom and dad were awake, but they slept quietly and let me get things ready. I decided that I would share our favorite cookie recipes here with you. (warning, we like a lot of cookies). Hopefully there will be a recipe you haven't run across before. Enjoy!

7-Layer Candy Cookies
Sheila Elaine Lemley Orndorff Galford, my mom


¼ lb margarine
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 can coconut
1 can Bordens Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
1 package chocolate chips ( 6 oz)
1 package butterscotch chips (6 oz)
1 cup chopped nuts


1. Melt margarine and mix with graham cracker crumbs
2. Spread in bottom of 8” x 8” pan
3. Next sprinkle layer of coconut.
4. Then pour layer of condensed milk
5. Then layer chocolate chips
6. Then layer butterscotch chips
7. Then layer 1 cup chopped nuts
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Cake Cookies
Mary Irene Spiker Orndorff, my grandmother


1 box cake mix
8 oz cool whip
1 egg


Mix ingredients together.
Drop into powdered sugar and roll.
Place on cookie sheet. Cook at 350 degrees.

Aunt Lou’s Sugar Cookies
No idea who Aunt Lou is


2 cups sugar
3 eggs
¾ cups buttermilk
1 cup lard
1 tsp soda
1 tsp nutmeg
6 cups flour


1. Cream sugar and egg
2. Add rest of ingredients
3. Mix well.
4. Roll on floured board and cut with cookie cutter.
5. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown.

Candy Cane Cookies
Sheila Elaine Lemley Orndorff Galford, my mom


1 cup shortening
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
½ tsp almond extract ( or ½ tsp peppermint extract)
1 tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp salt


1. Blend together all ingredients
2. After blended, divide the dough in half. Add a few drops of red food coloring to one half and mix it in until that part of the dough is bright red.
3. Pinch off a piece of plain dough and roll into a ‘snake’. Do the same with a piece of the red dough.
4. Then ‘plat’ the two colors together and form into a candy cane.
5. Bake at 375 degrees until brown.

Fig or Date Filled Cookies
Sheila Elaine Lemley Orndorff Galford, my mom


1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
4 cups flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla

1 ½ cups chopped figs or dates
½ cup water
½ cup sugar

1 cup chopped nuts


1. Blend first 6 ingredients together and chill.
2. Cook next three ingredients until thick
3. After dough is chilled, pinch off some and roll out. Spread some of the filling on dough, then roll up as a jelly roll and wrap in wax paper. Be sure to close well so it doesn’t dry out.
4. Repeat this process until all of the dough and filling has been used. Usually makes 4 to 6 rolls. Place in refrigerator overnight.
5. Next day, slice rolls and place cookie slices on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Grandma Lemley’s Applesauce Cookies
Sylvia Powell Lemley, my grandma


½ cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 ½ cups flour
1 cup applesauce
½ tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts (optional)


1. Mix all ingredients well. Drop on greased and floured cookie sheet.
2. Bake at 375 degrees until brown 15 to 20 minutes.

Grandma Lemley’s Fruitcake Cookies
Sylvia Powell Lemley, my grandma


½ cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup applesauce
2 ½ cups flour
½ tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts
1 pound mixed fruit


1. Mix all ingredients well.
2. Drop onto greased and floured cookie sheet, bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Grandma’s Billy Goat cookies
Sylvia Powell Lemley, my grandma


2 cups raisins – stew in 1 cup water, drain, add 1 tsp soda. Set aside.

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup margarine
3 eggs
4 cups flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts


1. Cream margarine, sugar and eggs.
2. Add vanilla, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, and then flour.
3. Mix well, then add raisins, and nuts.
4. Mix
5. Bake at 375 degrees.
6. Use floured and greased cookie sheets.
7. Drop by tsp. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Grandma’s Ginger Cookies
Sylvia Powell Lemley, my grandmother


2 pint bottles of Brer Rabbit Molasses (green label if they have it)
1 pint melted lard
1 pint buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp ginger
2 tbsp soda
1 cup white sugar
5 pounds flour (won’t need all of it, but have it on hand)



1. Cream sugar and eggs. Add salt, ginger and soda, mixing well after each addition.
2. Then add lard, molasses and buttermilk, beating after each. Then, add flour (a couple of cups at a time) until you have a soft sticky dough. Do not get the dough stiff or the cookies will be dry.
3. Flour board and roll out dough and cut with juice glass or small cutter (we like to use gingerbread men shaped cookie cutters) We also like to decorate with raisins, cinnamon hearts and icing.
4. Bake at 350 degrees. 10-12 minutes, begin watching.

GREAT WARM and dunked in milk or coffee!!! Freeze well.

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Cookies
Sylvia Powell Lemley, my grandma

1 cup flour
½ tsp soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup margarine
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 egg
½ cup peanut butter
1 tsp water
½ tsp vanilla


1. Mix sugars, margarine and egg till creamed then add rest of ingredients and mix well.
2. Drop by tsp onto greased and floured cookie sheet.
3. Take fork dipped in flour and press down flat.
4. Bake at 325 degrees about 15 minutes or until brown.
5. I usually double this recipe.

Santa’s Surprises
Family Fun?


2 sticks butter (softened)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 bag Snickers miniatures (or Reeses cups or Milky Ways or Hershey’s Kisses)
1 bag Dove milk or Dark chocolate gifts


1. Combine the butter, peanut butter, and sugars using a mixer on medium to low speed until light and fluffy.
2. Slowly add eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Then mix in flour, baking soda and salt.
3. Cover and chill dough for 2-3 hours
4. Unwrap all candy
5. Remove dough from refrigerator. Divide into 1 tbsp pieces and flatten
6. Place candy in center of each piece of dough
7. Form the dough into a ball around each candy
8. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes
9. Let cookies cool. Spruce up by drizzling melted Dove Chocolate over the top of each cookie. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Spry Cookies
Kay Allen


½ cup Crisco
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp molasses
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup oatmeal
½ cup raisins or ½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup nuts – chopped (optional)


1. Combine 1st 7 ingredients.
2. Beat thoroughly.
3. Sift flour with soda.
4. Add to the mixture.
5. Mix well.
6. Add remaining ingredients.
7. Drop by level teaspoons onto greased cookie sheets.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes. 8-softer, 12 -crisper

Mrs. Barringer’s Fruit and Nut Log
Scott Barringer’s mother


1 (12 oz) package vanilla wafers crushed
1 cup chopped candied pineapple
1 cup chopped candied cherries
2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
Sifted powdered sugar


Combine 1st five ingredients. Mix well. Divide into 3 equal parts. Roll into an 11 inch log. Roll each log in powdered sugar. Refrigerate for several hours or until firm. Cut in ½ inch slices.

Chocolate Orange Balls
A magazine, I think


1 bag (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup sugar
3 tbsp light corn syrup
½ cup orange juice
2 ½ cup crushed vanilla wafers
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


Melt chocolate chips in medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in ½ cup sugar, stir in corn syrup and juice.

Combine cookies and nuts in bowl. Stir in chocolate mixture. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour, until firm. Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar

Store in container at room temperature 1 week before serving. Makes 5 ½ dozen.

Potato Candy

Mary Irene Spiker Orndorff, my grandmother


Powdered sugar
Peanut butter


1. Cook a potato in plain water
2. Take powdered sugar and use the potato to make a dough of it and the sugar
3. Roll it out and spread with peanut butter
4. Roll up like a jelly roll and cut in slices
5. Store in air tight container

Chocolate Rum Balls
Nancy Davis, my ex-mother-in-law


1 (8 1/2 oz) package chocolate wafer cookies, crushed or chocolate pie crust
1 cup pecans, chopped fine
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup dark rum
Additional powdered sugar for rolling rum balls in.


Combine 1st 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well. Shape into 1” balls and let stand 10 minutes. Roll in additional powdered sugar.

Chow Mein Noodle Candies
Sheila Elaine Lemley Orndorff Galford,


1 large package (12 oz) chocolate chips
1 large package (12 oz) butterscotch chips
2 small or 1 large can chow mein noodles


1. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips over low heat stirring constantly after melted remove from heat and quickly stir in noodles
2. Drop by teaspoon onto wax paper and let cool and set up.
3. If weather is hot, store in the refrigerator.
4. Place piece of wax paper between each layer when storing so they won’t stick together.

December 2, 2007

December 2 - A History of Art - The Apocalypse of Beatus

The eighth century was a time of great upheaval in Spain. The Muslims’ invasion of 711 and the emergence of several heretical theologies had wreaked havoc on the orthodox Catholic church, and medieval calculations of world chronology indicated that the end of the world would come in the year 800. It was in this uncertain environment that Beatus, a staunchly orthodox monk from the monastery of San Martín de Turieno in Liébana in northern Spain, compiled the text that would become the basis for some of the most important works of Spanish art ever produced.

Beatus was an abbot who lived in Liebana, northern Spain. In around 776, he wrote his masterpiece, a manuscript describing the apocalypse - the biblical end of the world. The theme was a common one for scholars and religious leaders. Beatus' Apocalypse was an extremely popular version of the story, which was reporduced by monastic communities for their own use. His work was passed down through generations of scholars and there are now 25 surviving copies, produced between the 10th and 13th centuries.

The information for this post came from

History of Art by Kirsten Bradbury

American Federation of Arts

And you can see more images and gather more information of the various surviving Beatus works at Wikipedia and Online Gallery of European Manuscripts

Are You Thinking About Moving? Check Out the UN Top Ten Countries!

The Human Development Report 2007/2008 rated the countries in terms of their "human development index": a statistical analysis of factors that influence a person's quality of life, such as per capita gross domestic product and life expectancy. Here is a list of the top 10:

1. Iceland
2. Norway
3. Australia
4. Canada
5. Ireland
6. Sweden
7. Switzerland
8. Japan
9. the Netherlands
10. France

The United States ranked 12. Now the list seems pretty accurate to me, except for number 10. With all of the civil unrest in strife in France, how the heck did they make the top 10?

Photos from National Geographic

If you love those great National Geographic photos, be sure to check out this week's selection! You will find a whale shark, spiral galaxy Messier 74, Glasgow Cathedral, Robot Dental Exam, Record Truffle, and a Western Lowland Gorilla, and California smoke.

Did you hear about the record truffle? It weighed in at 3.3 pounds (normally 1 - 2 oz) and sold for $313,000!!!!! WOW!

My favorite photo (though there are several good ones this week) is the spiral galaxy. Isn't it beautiful?

Delightful Concert - Emile Pandolfi

Daniel was up at 3:30 and I got up about about 4. I woke the kids up shortly before he left at 5, so they could say good-bye to their dad. Then we all went back to bed and I got up after 8. I decided to let Katrina sleep until she got up as I wanted her to be well rested before the concert this afternoon. I got some shipping done and other odds and ends done. Made some turkey salad, did some laundry, and then at 11 a.m. our next door neighbor, Ashley, came by. She was going with us to the concert, since Daniel couldn't go. But she and her mom had been in an accident last night and while they were both okay, she was too stiff and sore to go with us.

We left at 1 and got there around 2:15. It was an easy place to find and a very comfortable and well kept theater (North Theater in Danville, VA). The performers were Emile Pandolfi and James Sibley.

Emile's piano playing was magnificent. I had never heard him before, but I plan to add his CDs to our collection in the future. And he was a humorous fellow too. He would talk between songs and tell jokes with James. If you are looking for a new pianist to add to your collection, I highly recommend visiting Emile's website and listening to some snippets. I promise, you won't be disappointed!

It was great for the children to see and hear someone play who was so gifted at the piano. It gives them something to work towards.

The concert ended shortly before 5. We headed home and got in the door in time to change clothes for Awanas. I found out that the Commander needed extra help as several regulars had things come up, so I went in to volunteer. A busy and fun day!

December 1, 2007

December 1 - A History of Art - The Lindisfarne Gospels

Today's art work is an example of early medieval art. In the first half of the 7th century, Irish missionary Saint Aidan arrived in Northumbrian from Iona. He founded a monastery at Lindisfarne, where the Lindisfarne Gospels were created by Irish monks. Their spectacular illuminations and jewel-encrusted binding reflect the importance of God's word, spoken through the Bible. Costly in time and materials, superb in design, the manuscript is among our greatest artistic and religious treasures.

the Lindisfarne Gospels is the work of one remarkably gifted artist who produced both words and images, giving the manuscript a particularly coherent sense of design. According to a note added at the end of the manuscript less than a century after its making, that artist was a monk called Eadfrith, who was Bishop of Lindisfarne between 698 and 721.

His superb skill and power of invention are strikingly evident in the opening pages of each gospel. A painting of the gospel’s Evangelist is followed by a ‘carpet’ page, so-called because the whole page is covered with intricate pattern. Next is the ‘incipit’ page, that is, an opening page in which the first letters of the gospels are greatly elaborated with interlacing and spiral patterns strongly influenced by Anglo-Saxon jewellery and enamel work.

The outline of the design was drawn on the reverse of the page, which was then lit from behind so the design could be painted on the correct side. Eadfrith employed an exceptionally wide range of colours, using animal, vegetable and mineral pigments.

This extravagance was a measure of the status accorded at the time to this magnificent manuscript. It was an enormous act of faith on the part of Bishop Eadfrith. In some places the manuscript remains partly unfinished, suggesting Eadfrith’s cherished work was ended prematurely by his death in 721.

Like most medieval Christian manuscripts, the Lindisfarne Gospels was written in Latin. However, around 970, when it was owned by the Minster of Chester-le-Street, Aldred, the Provost, added an Anglo-Saxon translation in red ink beneath the original Latin. This is the oldest surviving version of the gospels in any form of English - another indication of the manuscript’s importance in the growth of England’s national identity.

I have never seen a beautifully decorated Bible up close, but everytime I see one shown in a movie or on TV, I really am amazed by the beauty and intricacy of the drawings. I would love to see one in real life someday!

Carpet Page

Lindisfarne Gospels: page 2, a letter from St Jerome addressed to Pope Damasus

St. John

For more amazing images, google Lindisfarne Gospels under their images option.

Information comes from the Online Gallery of European Manuscripts. You can even view the Lindisfarne Gospel in 3-D. You will also find other beautiful manuscripts!

Also some information came from History of Art by Kirsten Bradbury.

And if you want to learn more about Art History, be sure to click on the Art History Category in my right side bar on my main page!

I Love a Parade....

We had a wonderful time at the Christmas parade today! The kids and I left here around 9:45. We got there in plenty of time to grab a cup of yummy hot cocoa and find a prime spot near the beginning of the parade with friends. I don't know if they do this in all parades, but in our parade, the people in the parade throw out candy. It was like Halloween all over again! Of course at the start of the parade, they are throwing out lots of candy...who knows if the poor kids at the end get any. Katrina came home with two pocketfuls of candy and that was after she had given all of her peppermint to her friend Mariah and she had given many, many pieces to children in the parade.

We met up with three other homeschool children: Mariah and Cade. As we started to see some young kids going by in cars and trucks and on floats waving...we realized they weren't getting any candy. So from then on, these five kids would run up to kids in floats and hand them candy. It was sooooo cool! And I was very proud of all of them! The kids who were receiving the candy from us were tickled too!

The parade ended after about 1 1/2 hours, and then as we were walking back to the car, Daniel called. He was in Roanoke, picking up some dry cleaning and getting some last minute things he needed for his trip. He invited us to come have lunch with him ...Chinese...yummmmy! So we drove to Roanoke and met him for lunch...or lupper since I have eaten since that yummy lunch. Then on the way back, we stopped and found Katrina some slip on winter shoes. I was tired of the fact that she was still wanting to wear flip flops and she doesn't like tennis shoes. She doesn't like any kind of confining or binding or scratchy clothing. Whe doesn't like to wear socks. She isn't crazy about jeans...she would rather wear dresses and skirts and flip flops. We may need to move to CA!

We got home about 4:30 and I spent a couple of hours helping Daniel get packed and ready to go. He leaves at 5 am tomorrow to catch his flight to Bloomington, IL.

And no, we didn't get any decorations up...but that's okay, at least we enjoyed some Christmasy stuff today.

Oh, and one more thing...the parade was cool and had some good floats. There are two memorable ones I want to share with you. (Sorry, I forgot to take my camera). One of the local red hat societies had a pick-up truck. They were all sitting in the bed of the pick-up, with one lady in a wheel chair and a cast on her arm and her leg. In the front seat of the truck on the passenger side was a mounted deer head that was moving back and forth like he was nodding his head...he looked very Christmasy too. The sign on the side of the truck said "Grandma got run over by a reindeer'! It was the best float in the whole parade!

Then there was one of those 'What were they thinking moments'. An EMS group went by...with Santa on a stretcher...they were shouting...'It's okay, he's alright...just too much holiday cheer..." I can't even imagine how many kids had to have therapy after that! Gee whiz! I told my hubby and he remarked it was probably one of those ideas that sounded really good when the EMS people were talking around a bowl of spiked egg nog!

Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008

I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity to try Microsoft Student With Encarta Premium 2008. I didn't Microsoft had such a product out there, but let me tell you, we have been enjoying it tremendously now that we have it! I loaded it onto my son's computer, and now I want to load it on my own! I also have been having a hard time getting Jack and Katrina to stop fiddling with it and do something else! Jack, 10, in particular has been enjoying it tremendously.

Let me start at the beginning and tell you a bit about Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008. This is a productivity suite of homework tools designed to help students excel. This version includes the following:

  • Encarta Preumium 2008 - The #1 best-selling encyclopedia brand with content you can trust
  • Learning Essentials - Complete with preformatted templates and tutorials designed for Microsoft Office (sold separately)
  • Microsoft Math - which provides step-by-step help with math homework.

I installed this program easily (for me that is always a plus. I only had to click a few buttons (mostly next and okay) to get the program up and running.

Once the program was painlessly installed, Jack and I began looking around...well, okay, I began looking around (while holding him off while he said...come on, Mom, that's for me!)

There were four new icons on the desktop. There was one option called Learning Essentials. This led us to templates for everything from science reports to writing tips to an Excel tutorial to book review templates to foreign language help! WOW! All there at the click of a button.

Then there was the Dictionaries icon. Click on that, type in the word that you want to know what it means and up pops the definition and other important information (like pronunciation and part of speech). Then you can click on thesaurus and get other words that mean the same thing. Or you can find out how the word is conjugated if it is a verb. The graphics are appealing and it is easy to use. We didn't have to read any instructions at all. It was really self-explanatory.

Then there was a link that looked like a backpack. When we clicked there, it gave us an overview of the program. We found there were games we could play, videos we could watch...and it was educational! Jack and I played one world geography game where we matched landmarks to the proper countries. And if we guessed wrong, the picture would simply go back to the box of choices until we got it right. There are puzzles and other matching type games. Areas covered by the games are history, art, culture, geography and more!

Then there is the encarta section. Here you can find out just about anything you want to know! It is an encyclopedia after all! Type in words you want to get information on and start learning! Jack has checked out space (and marveled at all the sub-categories that came up). He has checked out the Swiss National Anthem (and listened to it play). He looked up neat statistical things like the biggest ocean, the deepest lake and the deepest spot on earth. He doesn't want to go to bed, he doesn't want to listen to stories, and he doesn't want to eat (okay, maybe that's not quite true, but you get the picture). Learning and having fun! Gotta love that!

I give this product a two thumbs and two big toes up!!!!

Of course, you should always check into the system requirements before purchasing such a program. You need to have Windows XP and Vista.

To use Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008, you also need:

  • A personal computer with a Pentium 600-MHz processor or faster (1 GHz or faster recommended)
  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) or later
  • 256 MB of RAM (512 MB or more recommended)
  • 1.5 GB of available hard-disk space
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 requires between 210 and 620 MB of hard-disk space (included on disc)
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • High Color capable or better video card with a minimum 800 x 600 resolution (1024 x 768 recommended)
  • Microsoft Mouse, Microsoft IntelliMouse or compatible pointing device
  • 16-bit sound card and headphones or speakers

Additional items or services required to use certain features:

  • Encarta Kids requires an additional 430 MB of hard-disk space.

  • Copy to Hard Drive requires an additional 1.8 GB of available hard-disk space.

  • Learning Essentials Templates and Toolbars require Microsoft Office XP, Office 2003, or the 2007 Microsoft Office system, available separately.

To use Math Online Help, Update Encarta, Web Links, Weather and Radio Links, or Encarta Premium Online, you need:

  • 28.8-Kbps or faster modem
  • An Internet connection
  • Internet functionality may require payment of a separate fee to an Internet service provider (ISP); local and/or long-distance telephone toll charges may apply.
  • Up to 4 MB of additional hard-disk space required for each monthÕs installment
  • Access to Encarta Premium Online requires a Microsoft .NET Passport (Microsoft Windows LiveTM ID)

And you can get this program at a very reasonable price of less than $30.00 (the link is below). I am pleased to have this program for my children and can see it being a staple program for us in the years to come!