Travel on the cheap

So, I ran across an alternative to hostels and today. It’s called Christian Home Exchange. The premise is pretty straight forward: sign up on the site, find a home available in the place you want to go, and arrange the details with the home owner.

So, you get to go on a vacation, you have someone to watch your home while you are away, and instead of a hotel with whatever perks they are labeling amenities these days, you get an actual house to stay in. With a fridge and a stove and all the other stuff houses come with. So maybe you don’t have to get fully dressed to walk down to the vending area for ice and a cold coke. Nice, right? The only down-side is that you are probably going to have to make up your own bed and wash the linens when you are ready to depart. But you were going to do that at home anyway, and hello, you aren’t paying for maid service.

Now, I would like to tell you how simple that was, but I can’t. This is a membership site. It’s not expensive. In fact, it’s as low as 89.95 for a year. And if vacations and home exchanges are in your plans, that comes out to less than one night’s hotel bill. But I am a student, and on a student budget so I didn’t join. I’m kinda on the couchsurfer plan here. It also comes without maid service, and I get…wait for it…a couch.

January 10, Peace in Every Step

Probably the most significant thing I did today, besides making my favorite instructor laugh, was to finish Peace in Every Step. It had been on my “want to read” shelf at goodreads for quite a while, and was assigned for my positive psych class. I started it….Monday, I think. The book is a fairly short read, but it is a life altering, perspective changing tome. I really do recommend it to anyone who is stressed, frazzled, sad, or just stuck in a rut. It’s a treatise on mindfulness and being aware, about focusing on the moment. Maybe you guys know all that, and really so do I, but it was a great reminder of some specific things we can do to bring ourselves back into mindfulness.

I am adding it to my “Once a Year” shelf. Since I have already told you I am focusing on getting rid of books this year, this should tell you how valuable I found the teaching here. The next time I read it, I will do so slowly and mindfully, instead of reading it as quickly as possible to get to the next book. Which is Still Here by Ram Dass.

No, I am not taking a comparative religions class. Nor a class on Buddhism. Nor is the Dass for the same class as Peace. Remember that tweet from a couple days ago? I said, “If the universe gets any more synchronous, I am going to think it is hitting me over the head with a brick, instead of giving me a gentle nudge.” Now, remember that I am also reading Simple Abundance and Something More, and you will begin to see what I meant.

peace and dass

My oldest son brought this home today. He’s been selected to the National Junior Honor Society. Not that I ever brag on my kids or anything.

national junior honor society

Yesterday, I started a new thing. Every day from 4-5 is quiet study time. I’ve been getting too many notes from teachers about homework not being turned in. So, for an hour we do homework, or read a book, or write. Me, too. Today, when they started talking, I read to them. From the Encyclopedia of Social Work, which was my assigned reading. Nod. It worked. Muhahahahahaha!

I started another new tradition today: afternoon tea. I made it a little too strong, but it was an effort at some semblance of civilization, and something I have been thinking about doing for quite some time. I would tell you what flavor it was, but it’s actually too strong to discern. I’m sure it was either Raspberry Zinger or Strawberry Fields, but I can’t get it any narrower than that.

inaugural tea

Here’s today’s sweater outfit. Love the pants, and if I can find a clothes shaver to get the tiny pills off, I will have them hemmed. I have them rolled and safety pinned here, which is how I wore them today. The sweater may look okay in the picture, but it’s in the Good Will bag. I like a roomy sweater, but I could fit two of me in it, and the way the excess fabric hangs is not flattering. No one needs to look like an albino bat. I’m just sayin’! I did get a compliment on the scarf, though. I love being able to say, “Thanks, I made it myself.”

sweater girl day 3

P.S. Did you notice I cleaned the mirror?

nullbtt2 Today’s Booking Through Thursday question was “do you like to give books as gifts?”

Yes, but not on gift-giving occasions. I am more inclined to gift someone with a book they want *when they want it*, because then I know I am getting a title they will enjoy. Or at least not blame me for choosing, LOL!

The Thirteenth Tale

So, my cousin and I, we share a love of the written word. Not too long ago, she read a book called The Thirteenth Tale. She told me it was really good, and that she would bring it to me, but only if I didn’t stick it on “the pile” somewhere. I agreed, and made it a point to finish my current read promptly, so I’d be ready for this one when I saw her.

The book is written by Diane Setterfield, and my cousin was right: I enjoyed it thoroughly! To say this book is a story within a story is like saying an onion has layers. It is a marvelously complex piece of work, and the slide on it begins about halfway through. We’ve talked about the slide before, haven’t we? That point in a book where you can hardly bear to put it down, not even for such mundane things as eating and going to the bathroom?

I have a love/hate relationship with writing book reviews, you know. I never know how much to say. I don’t want to know about the plot of a book before I pick it up. A simple and direct “read it” from a trusted source is a much more effective draw for me that all sorts of details and character analysis. So, uh, “read it”.

It’s way more interesting than shopping for xerox phaser 8560 supplies. Or your dinner. Just go get something you can put in the microwave, or maybe even some trail mix, and pick the book up.

Meet your automation expectations with church management software

Have You Ever Thought Of All The Ways You Can Use Your Membership Lists? Use Church Management Software To Find Out

Congregation Builder’s web based church management software can, and does, use your membership lists in many creative and useful ways.

Congregation Builder’s Church Management Software Options Page

The Options page of Congregation Builder’s web based church management software is where you can select which membership types you would like to include for newsletter labels, broadcast emails, the online and printed directories, and attendance lists.

Congregation Builder’s Church Management Software Skills, Interests And Passions Page

The web based church management software Skills, Interests and Passions page will allow you to survey the members on your membership lists to determine their likes and dislikes. This allows congregations to use this information to match each member with a suitable church endeavor.

Congregation Builder’s Church Management Software eBeacons and Email Broadcast Pages

By using your membership lists, Congregation Builder’s Church Management Software eBeacons and Email Broadcast pages can be utilized to send email transmissions to select membership categories.

Congregation Builder’s Church Management Software Print Labels Page

By clicking on “Make Labels For: Member Types” in Congregation Builder’s web based church management software Print Labels page, you can create and print labels for just the membership types that you want to target. No need to print labels for the entire congregation and then pick and choose those you want, and possibly missing some!

These are just a few examples of the ways you can use your membership lists with Congregation Builder’s web based church management software to obtain the results you want each time, all the time!

Movies with That One

This past weekend I watched a couple of movies. I’d never seen Monty Python’s Holy Grail, and That One insisted it was a must see, so we watched it. Umm, I’ll say that it was pleasant to sit with him and watch a movie he enjoyed. How about that for politically correct? I mean, it was ok, but I don’t feel like it made my life complete or anything. Not like, say, when I made him watch Time Traveler’s Wife with me, yk? It was ok, but I won’t be looking at prevera review to erase new laugh lines.

Then we watched Apocalypto. This one movie was like watching two different movies for me. It’s about the ancient Mayan civilization, and it portrays that civilization with gruesome accuracy. I spent a good bit of the first half of the movie averting my eyes. There was a LOT of violence and gruesomeness, and while I understand that it was historically accurate, it is one thing to read about something in black and white and quite another to see it acted out in full color with bloody special effects. My motto is that you can’t unsee a thing, and so I avoided seeing that which I knew would bother me later. I’m told by Micheal that That One and I had matching looks of distaste on our faces during the first part, so I guess that’s comforting. I don’t think I’d much like to know a man who could revel in that. Just sayin’

Now then, the second part of the movie was awesome. The switch from group violence to one man’s desperate struggle for survival was what made it seem like two different movies. As much as I found the first part distasteful, I enjoyed the second part. Watching one man outwit and destroy a band of 10 men one by one changed the movie into a mental game, and I was swept up in it as he fought to live. It was still quite gory, but the overwhelming oppressiveness was gone, replaced by pure action adventure. The special effects remained awesome, and I was able to watch every bit of it. They did a great job depicting arterial spray from a head wound. In the end, of course, he……..never mind, not gonna tell ya, but it reminded me very much of the Bourne movies, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Does that show my penchant for mental violence as opposed to physical? Probably so.

The movie is still very much on my mind and not in a bad way. Mel Gibson did a great job with it, and even though I chose not to look at parts of it, I think I came away with pretty much the lessons he meant to teach in it. Fear will destroy you from the inside out. Conquering your fear will free you in the same direction.

March 28-31 Various Pictures

Ok, here we go, assuming I can find all the pictures. Of course, with a month of photos to post, perhaps a lost one or two wouldn’t be a disaster. Not like running out of diet pills with ephedra, yk?

Speaking of technology that doesn’t work, this post has come to a screeching halt while I wait for the blackberry to reset itself after working on DriveCarefully. Well, if deleting with intent to re-install counts as “working on it”. Tap, tap, tap. Guess I’ll make a grilled cheese or something.

Sandwich cooked and eaten and now the blog is down. What the heck???
And now my computer doesn’t see the pics in my phone?
And now, there they are. Apparently you have to wait for the blackberry to go into mass storage mode. I forget that every time. Sigh.

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March 28 This book is called Call Me By Your Name, and I finished it on the 28th. I’d been looking for something to read and Micheal had just brought this home, and said it was a good book, so I decided to give it a try. It is a good book. The first half of the book details a young person’s infatuation with a man named Oliver. They do the dance of liking but not admitting to liking one another, and the accompanying agonies of over-analyzing every conversation and action, looking for clues to Oliver’s state of mind. It isn’t until a third of the way through the book that the narrator, the younger person, is named Elio, and he is a boy.

I’m telling you, as a firm hetero-sexual, every word describing the initial infatuation and eventual love rang so true that I re-read the section revealing Elio’s identity three times, sure I had misunderstood. Nope, two guys. The book is tastefully done, and I enjoyed it. Right up until I cried at the ending.

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March 29 I’ve developed a new habit. I send That One a picture of a flower almost every day that he is out on the road. It started with just one, but he enjoyed it, so I kept it up. I think we’ll manage to figure out exactly how busy and depressed I’ve been this past month as we see how many days there were where I only managed to snap a flower.

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March 30 My oldest son, playing baseball. He really enjoys the game and says he’d rather do “fall ball” instead of football this year. We’ll see.

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March 31 Another flower. Can you see where we’re headed here?

Nourish Your Inner Goddess with Yoplait-March 27


Recently, I received this lovely box of goodies from Yoplait through MyBlogSpark. Go ahead and take a good look. Aren’t you jealous? Slippers, loofah sponge, fingernail brush, exfoliating towel, a back rubber and one of those velcro towels I have been wanting for-ev-ah, but was too cheap to buy myself, plus coupons for 2 cups of their new yogurt. And this is not skimpy towel either, it is a TOWEL, girlfriends, and it covers me from armpits to knees, muhahahaha.

See, Yoplait has developed a new line of Greek yogurt, with 12 grams of protein and it’s available in 4 flavors (Strawberry, Blueberry, Honey Vanilla and Plain) to nourish you from the inside out. It has a thick and creamy texture you are sure to love! The wonderful part for you, dear readers, is that not all of you will have to remain jealous. MyBlogSpark has offered up a second gift pack, which one of you will receive, so you’ll be able to try the new yogurt for free while wearing the cool towel, too!

Now, if you just can’t wait, you can download a coupon and save $0.30 on one cup of new Yoplait Greek today!

Unfortunately, the coupons for the free yogurts are not valid in California, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Tennessee. For the rest of you, go ahead and leave a comment on this post telling me which flavor you’d most like to try, and I will select a winner at random next Sunday afternoon. We’ll set the deadline at noon of that day. Your package will come directly from MyBlogSpark, so you’ll need to be prepared to give me your address, so I can give it to them. And, oh yeah, please be in the USA, including APO/FPO.

If all that gets you in a goddess-y mood, you might want to check out this Clash of the Titans trailer with actress Izabella Miko:


Yoplait Yogurt Company
Image via Wikipedia
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I’m pretty sure it’s not secret to any of you that I am in a time of great upheaval right now. Things are just…rough. They’ll get better, but right now they just suck, and that’s how it is. So, you’d think I’d be turning my attention to funny stuff: light-hearted flicks, fluff books and just such as this. And, really, I would have. Except that I promised to review this book, Irreplaceable, before the poop hit the fan, and I got sprayed with all that foul smelling stuff.

They sayOk, I say that a well written book can pull you out of yourself, teach you something about life. I fought myself to read this one because it is a very painful story. Seriously, it begins and ends painfully and the entire middle is full of pain. But that’s just the way life is sometimes, and even in the midst of the pain, the story is beautiful, both in life and in this book. Life is beautiful, even when it hurts, because it is life. And this book is beautiful because it speaks a truth even though it is fiction.

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is well written, the characters are fully formed, very human, and the events are realistic, even in their unfathomableness. On the surface, it’s the story of an organ donor and what happens to her heart, but that short description doesn’t do the book justice. It is intensely emotional, and I cried when I read the last sentence: that’s just how they say hello. That one line sealed the book for me, because I actually have a leave taking ritual with a friend of mine–something we’ve never discussed, and I’m not even sure they know it exists, but it does for me, and that’s how I know Stephen Lovely is writing from a heart that understands motivations and desires and can adequately portray that in words that paint pictures for the mind. Irreplaceable is his first novel, and I’ll be looking to see what he writes next.