SKOL Minnesota Vikings!

You’ve heard it said that Minnesotans are hardy folk. We roll with the punches, we have thick blood to handle whatever cold old man winter can dish out, and then flip around in the summer to deal with heat, humidity and mosquitos. Ohhh, the mosquitos. But nothing is more heart pounding for us than a good football game, and we had that in spades last night. While I’d love to tell you the story of the #MinneapolisMiracle, Case Keenum and the little team that could, I think that Mike Freeman does it far better than I could ever hope to, in today’s Bleacher Report:

Skol Mary: Case Keenum Keeps Surprises Coming, Delivers a Miracle in Minnesota


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Go Vikes!



Why Bother With Gender

“The best a man can get”…the the words roll around in your head for a moment. Do they sound familiar, or maybe feel like they should be sung? They should, they’re part of a jingle that Gillette has been using since 1988. I’ve heard the jingle countless times over the years but until recently I hadn’t given it another thought.Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 10.51.42 PMPerhaps because of all the attention that is being given in the past few months to inappropriate sexual behavior and sexual harrassment by men in a position of power, toward both women as well as other men, I’m on heightened alert.  But when I heard it the other day it suddenly rankled with me – why just the best a man can get? Why not a woman? Do women also not deserve their best shave at an equal level? So I sent them a tweet, not really expecting a response. To my surprise, they not only responded but rather quickly (before 3 pm that day):


I understand companies make and market things specifically for women, and that there can be a legitimate reason for doing so. Bicycle saddles are one thing that immediately come to mind. Because our pelvises are shaped differently, and what is called our ‘sit bones’ end up being in different places, as a woman you want to have a bike saddle that is designed specifically for maximum comfort. (Your sit bones are the bones in your butt that come into contact with the saddle when you sit on it. Google it for pictures if you need to.) But razors? Really? I’ve used a Gillette Quattro for years, as noted above, and really don’t see any reason not to. I’ve peeked at the Venus website, and see a lot of cutesey colors for women and a couple of things that seem to be invented to try to get women to think they need this line because it’s better for a woman’s delicate legs and curves than a “man’s” version. Seriously? Come on, Gillette, get into the 21st Century. At least it doesn’t appear that they’ve put a “tampon tax” on the base razors, however the refills are another story. Comparing the prices for a 3 blade refill (5 count), at Target the Mach3 costs $9.99 and the ComfortGlide Vanilla Creme Scented refills (I swear I am not making this up!) are $14.99 – for 4. The Venus Swirl,a 5 blade razor, is marketed as “adjusting to every curve” is $29.49 for 6 refills! You could buy the Fusion 5 razor with the flexball technology, which adjusts to curves as well and then your refills would be between $14.99-17.99 for 4, depending on which blade you picked. Talk about a ridiculous “tampon tax” (and another reason I keep using my plain handle) or gender based price discrimination.

Other places this price discrimination shows up is in personal care services such as hair salons and dry cleaning. Some salons will use the excuse that women’s hair is longer and more difficult to cut and/or maintain, therefore they will charge more. My recommendation is to find a stylist with the following motto: “I don’t care how much hair falls on the other side of my scissors, here is what it costs.” That’s what one I used told me a number of years ago, meaning she didn’t care if it was a trim or full on cut, man or woman. It was all the same price. Some dry cleaners are doing better now and giving the same prices for clothing, just charging higher if something is specifically delicate. I wonder if perhaps our ability to have a voice like this and raise awareness quickly through the media is why. 20 or 30 years ago before the internet, there might have been an article in a magazine, or a newspaper, and folks would get annoyed and mad, but then it would die down. Today with something appearing online and links being emailed, tweeted and retweeted and going viral in hours and days (Dear God, may I please have a blog article written so well that this one day happens to me?) there is power in our online words.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I like being a girly-girl. I’ll dress up, put on make up, hose and heels, a little perfume and lipstick and I like looking nice and hope that in addition to my husband telling me I look nice, I might even turn a stranger’s head. But it just hacks me off if I feel like something is being marketed or sold to me just because I’m female, and for no other reason than that, or if it’s assumed that because I’m a woman I’ll like something pink, or frilly/lacy or delicate. Go into any hardware store and you can find tools that are marketed “for her”. I’m not talking about the ones with slightly smaller grips, or lighter in weight either. Nope, they’ll be in delicate girly colors like pink, or light blue, which is just so doggone important to me when I’m rewiring an outlet you know, or putting in a new light fixture, both of which I have done successfully and on my own without help from anyone, and NOT using a pink or blue tool. I have, however used the impact driver we own which is from Milwaukee in a lovely unisex red. (A really big thanks to my honey, great purchase you made! A thousand apologies to you for my ever doubting we needed it.)

What are some things you’ve seen that are marketed to women that really shouldn’t be? Have you ever tried communicating back to the manufacturer about it? I’d love to hear what happened!




Boom Goes the Dynamite


I have no idea how this will come together, but when I hear this phrase it always makes me want to laugh a little and the corners of my mouth start to twitch. So at the very least i need to put this much of a post to paper, and start out. Who knows where it will lead. Flight of ideas? The Diane Henders method of beginning a blog post? Suddenly before you know it, you have the whole thing put together and there it lies before you. It’s taken shape and come together and is a thing of beauty…a work of art. A blog post worthy of at least being long-listed for the Man Booker award. It’s insightful, deep, relevant and so in tune with the times. It hits at the heart of modern society, seeming to understand the soul of the middle aged adults of today and….blech. What drivel.

OK, maybe I blather and babble, but part of what I said was true, that phrase does turn up the corners of my mouth when I hear it and I have no idea why I think it’s funny. It almost makes me feel like a baby…imagine one not quite old enough to crawl, sitting up and seeing something that jut delights them. They clap their chubby little hands together and giggle with delight over and over again. Inside, that’s how I feel. The little baby is clapping and giggling.

Life seems so serious lately, and it occurred to me recently that perhaps we aren’t giggling enough. Reader’s Digest has a section called “Laughter:the Best Medicine”, and I have to say it’s true. We feel better when we laugh, endorphins are released. You get more oxygen, release stress, soothe tension in the short term and and improve the immune system, relive pain and improve your mood in the long term, among other  benefits according to the Mayo Clinic.

It’s easy to find things to laugh at too, just look around you, there are no shortage of them. Darwin Award winners abound! If you have pets, I’ll bet like mine they do ridiculous things from time to time. The most recent example is courtesy of my husband, and a purchase he recently made of yet another one of those things I just don’t get – a fidget spinner. But hey, he’s amused by it so that’s enough for me, and what’s even better, so is our cat, Inara, who has now figured out how to make it go on our hardwood floors. The sad part is, I was thinking “look how smart my cat is” until I did a search on YouTube for ‘cat playing fidget spinner’ and got ‘About 3,140,000 results’. Amazing and deflating all at the same time.

Go to any shopping mall, and just sit and start people watching. It won’t take long before you’re laughing at least on the inside, and probably shaking your head thinking “who dressed you this morning?”  From the mismatched tops and bottoms, to the absurd footwear, I mean really. Are they just there for my amusement and delight? Honestly, now I understand why guppies eat their young. And goth – I didn’t even know that was still a thing! I look at kids dressed up like that and want to laugh out loud. There is nothing like working hard at putting on a costume that says “I’m unique, I’m not mainstream, I’m not like the rest of you, I’m going against the tide” and then hanging out with 10 of your closest friends who look exactly like you.

Christmas decorations are up on a lot of houses now. Ours are done, and we try to keep it tasteful, not too many. We’re not going all Griswold on the neighbors, but I have noticed as I’m out and about there are some interesting things folks do with lights. I’m not quite sure of why people wrap only the trunk of a tree and quit when they hit the lower branches. Then there are the newest decorations, the laser lights on the entire side of your house. I’m old fashioned I guess, I love the look of lights nicely attached to the edge of the roofline, but I know it can be risky to get up on a ladder and get them attached, so you best know what you’re doing for that project. Otherwise ALL the neighbors are going to laugh at you when you explain why you have casts on both legs and are on crutches in the middle of winter. (I remember when a girlfriend’s husband slipped on the ice one year after a few too many holiday beverages during a poker game, breaking both wrists. Ponder for a moment how an accountant explains casts and sweatpants to the office…but you might not want to ponder that scenario too long. Let’s just say she was thrilled when the casts came off.)

The Minnesota Vikings played the Green Bay Packers last night in one of their regular season match ups. For the first time in 24 years, the Vikings shut out a team 16-0 (and in 46 years for the Packers that they were shut out!) boom-2028563_640Granted, it may well have been due in part to Aaron Rogers being out with a season ending injury, but I believe we still would have won regardless.  I mean come on, anyone who’s been watching the Vikings this year knows this team is on fire, with their 12-3 record. They’re in the playoffs, and the Packers aren’t! (That’s my nana-nana-boo-boo moment to my former neighbor and friend Corey, who I’m pretty sure doesn’t read my blog, but then again, I might be wrong. If I am, and he does, Corey, consider this the big raspberry I’ve waited years to give you.)

For a real corker of a “Boom Goes the Dynamite” moment, I leave you with this. A TV stunt that went awry, and ends up being funny but could have ended so very badly. It is pretty amusing, but clearly, don’t do this at home.

Merry Christmas everyone, and may all your “Boom Goes the Dynamite” moments be safe ones!




Giving Thanks

This is such a strange time of year. Many of us sit at a table, surrounded by family members we’re obligated to spend time with but don’t really want to see, we try to make nice for a few hours and pray to God no one brings up politics while we stuff our faces with way too much food, alcohol and goodies. And pie. Pumpkin, pecan, mincemeat, pumpkin, lemon meringue. Oh, and did I mention pumpkin pie?

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This year is different for me, for a number of reasons. I’ve been out of work for 5 months now, looking faithfully every week for something that suits my skills and career path. It hasn’t been easy, not being able to find something, and I’m sure as difficult as it’s been for me, it’s likely been even harder for my husband. So as I think about what I am thankful for, he really is first on my list: he’s my rock, a source of quiet strength and support at all times. He pushes me to be my best in everything, but knows when to let me be. I’m thankful that we were wise enough to have money tucked away so that I can not worry (ok I worry, but at an appropriate level) about our finances during this time. Yes, we’ve cut way back on spending, and the list of things we need or want to get when I get a job is growing ever longer, but that’s ok. I’m thankful we have a home that isn’t in need of major repair, that we replaced the furnace a couple of years ago now that the temperature is dropping into the teens here. I’m thankful that we’re both healthy, that we have enough to keep us busy in and around the house when I’m not job hunting. I’m thankful for the fact that I can not only make Christmas gifts for friends and family, but that I have enough craft things in my home already to do it, and don’t need to buy much of anything so we’ll be able to have a very affordable Christmas this year.

I’m also thankful for so many other things around me. As the news of David Cassidy’s death broke on the news services, and I was immediately saddened and thought  for the first time, “we’re old!” But I’m so thankful for the joy he gave all of us young girls as teens, and that we got to have him in our life for a time, however remotely. Come on, admit it. You know you had his poster on your bedroom wall back then. I’ll admit it, but we were so young and silly and and young pre-teens and teens just thought he was so dreamy. I found an article yesterday on CNN that is worth a quick read that is a hoot, with a few facts about him we never knew. Take the time to read it, if you were a fan it will make you smile.

I’m thankful for my friends, who listen when I need them to, and who are just there to make me laugh, or hang out, or allow me to reciprocate for them in kind.

Speaking of my friends, I am especially thankful for some new ones this year I didn’t even know that I had. When I was laid off 5 months ago along with the rest of the team I worked with, I was just getting to know the team I’d worked with for only 4 months. We were all telecommuters, and worked from coast to coast, and were on different projects, so we didn’t all interact with each other every day. That meant after 4 months I was still just barely getting to know some of the team. After we were all let go, a group of 5 of us started group texting. It’s become a sometime support group, a virtual happy hour, and a wonderful sisterhood. So I am so grateful for Salpy, Jamie, Kathy and Blair, I don’t know what I would have done without you wonderful women.  Along with them, my friend Morissa, who has also been an uexpected source of support and assistance that I never saw coming. Along with all my other fantastic friends who listen, guide and help me look for jobs, I wish you joy and blessings this Thanksgiving.

What are you especially thankful for this year?


Death of the Editor II – Update!

For those of you that read this when I published it 15 days ago, here is a fun update. I sent Andrew Rafferty (@AndrewNBCNews) an email in early October, and tweeted him on November 7, letting him know that his article where Ben Sass asked President Trump if he was recanting his oath of office had some typos. Those typos remain in the story as of November 22. Apparently Andrew either a) doesn’t read email and/or tweets,  b) doesn’t give a damn about how poor his product is, or c) both.

I also emailed Carol Kuruvilla () on November 1, and tweeted her and the Huff Post on November 7, about her story on the pastor being banned from a university. Huge kudos to Carol, she corrected her story within 24 hours!! Thanks Carol.

I’m a fantastic editor. No really, just ask any co-worker or fellow grad school student whose document or presentation I’ve nitpicked to death. (I’m also a currently unemployed project manager but hey, I can edit, so if anyone wants to hire me, you can contact me through this blog!) I find all kinds of typos and mistakes in other people’s work, although I must confess if you go through my posts you’ll likely find things I’ve missed, since my eagle eyes seem to fly off when I own it. I do try to remember to run things though spell and grammar check, but occasionally get lazy, or just forget. Be that as it may, as I said in a prior post, it does seem nearly all of the editors that once checked things for printed format have been deemed unnecessary in the digital age. Poof! So I continue to collect evidence for your amusement, although the first example isn’t an online one, but nonetheless, should have been caught by SOMEONE before it was printed on the wrap.

From People Mag online, September 28, 2017, in an article about HRH Prince Harry (yes, I confess, I love to read stories about him. I’m fascinated by the man he’s become.)Screen-Shot-2017-09-28-at-7.58.33-AM

From (10/12/17), in a story about Senator Ben Sass asking President Trump if he is recanting the oath of office:


and the same article, a few paragraphs later:


(It should read ‘past’, in case you’re wondering. The days are what are past in this context. Passed is what you do with a hat. Or gas. And yes, I did email the article’s author on this, sheesh. Hence the screenshots. As of 11/6/17 it had not been corrected.)

From The Huffington Post on 11/1/17, in an article on a Pastor who was banned from a university after speaking out about Trump because the university’s president is a Trump supporter.University

(Seriously? NO ONE caught that? I could’t help myself. I emailed the HuffPost on it. Shame on them for not using spell check. As of 11/6/17, this has also not been corrected.)

Since no one is apparently reading email anymore either, I’ve also taken to Twitter to raise the alert. Maybe putting the message out in front of thousands will make ’em wake up and edit. I know, it’s not my job to police the world, and you can’t legislate stupidity. But I sure can have fun trying!

What great editorial misses have you spotted lately? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Word of Advice

Note: Since first publishing this blog article back in March of 2016, I’ve found myself back in the job market. Today I was looking at my own advice for job interviewees, and found it needed some updates that I had missed, probably because applying for jobs and interviewing has changed a lot over the years.  I’ve also done more with Craig’s List/Ebay etc, and am updating those sections as well.

Job Interviewee – Take a shower, groom yourself for Pete’s sake. Put on professional clothes and shine your shoes, lose the gum and brush your teeth. It really IS true, you never have a second chance to make a good first impression. This advice applies whether your interview is in person, or is a video interview. What’s that, you say? A video interview? Yes, Virginia, a video interview. Today’s businesses are beginning to use video interviews as initial screening interviews. The HR representative can record themselves asking a series of questions, and then the interviewee has a predetermined amount of time to respond. It saves the HR rep a lot of time, by not having to schedule the calls or bring people into their offices. You do, however, need to treat it as if it’s a true face-to-face interview. Test your system first, make sure your lighting is good, that you don’t have a distracting background behind you. I invested in an inexpensive photography backdrop that I hang up behind me, and put that up. If you set yourself up facing a window you’ll get nice, diffuse light that is flattering, but if that’s not available make sure you at least have enough light that your face can be seen.

For in person interviews, learn how to shake hands. Do you have any idea how many people I’ve shaken hands with that don’t know how? If you aren’t sure how to, then you probably don’t do it well. Go ask someone you know that is a confident business person to evaluate yours and help you improve because a limp handshake is horrible, and look people in the eye when you shake their hand.

Drive the route to the interview BEFORE you need to do it so that you know how long it takes. Don’t be late. If you’re going to be late, call. If possible, send a handwritten, yes, I said handwritten thank you note, and if your handwriting is illegible (you know who you are) then print. If you only had a phone interview or video screening, you may only be able to send a thank you via e-mail, and then you should do it that way, but that’s only if you don’t know an address for your interviewer. If you have an actual address, a handwritten note is always better etiquette.

Craig’s List/Ebay Buyers – Have you ever sold anything on Craig’s List or Ebay? If you have, then you know what an adventure it can be, but it can just as easily be a pointless exercise in futility. We’ve been cleaning out our crawl space, trying to get rid of a few things, make a little money, you know the drill. I’ve learned a few phrases that are rather helpful. “Cash is king” and “cash talks, bullshit walks” are my two favorites that my husband is continually beating into my brain. Now I started out being a Craig’s List softie…”oh, you need a day or two, sure, get back to me, I’ll hold it for you…”, or negotiating simultaneously with one buyer who then couldn’t deliver on time, going with a second who could then feeling bad when the first wanted more time because “I promised him he could buy the item, even though he didn’t have the money right then” or feeling like I needed to answer every email, and telling people that I had other buyers and what the conditions were. However, after being taken advantage of a few times, I’ve changed, become a radical hardliner. Gavel down, BAM! “SOLD to the first one at the neutral (and safe) meeting place with paper money that passes the counterfeit test wins the prize.”  For all you potential buyers on Craig’s List out there, here are some helpful tips.

1.Don’t email me to tell me “I’m interested.” I’m tempted to reply “that’s nice, so what?” Because I don’t care if you’re merely interested, I only really care if you want to BUY IT.  So if you really want to buy my item, tell me you want to buy it and when you want to meet, otherwise stop wasting my time.

2. Read the dang ad AND look at the pictures. I took the time to take photos, at different angles, to show you lots of information. I also said in the ad that the item a) works, b) does or does not have scratches c) is new or is used, etc. Now if you want more information about it that I didn’t put in the ad, that’s a different story, please go ahead and ask for it.  But don’t waste my time asking about what’s already there.

3. Don’t contact me unless you’re interested and plan to follow through. This week I had someone tell me she wanted something, we exchanged messages about connecting, then she dropped off the face of the earth. Meanwhile I had another person waiting to see if the item was still available.  I mean really, did you want it or not? If you changed your mind, I don’t care, you’re not hurting my feelings, just say so. Stop wasting my time for the love of…(are you seeing the theme?)

4. If you ask me to ship you the item because you’ve decided you don’t want to drive to me, realize it’s an inconvenience for me, act accordingly. Don’t dictate terms of this to me, I’ll choose my shipping agent, thanks.

5. And here is the kicker. If you ask me to accept money through PayPal, then you pay the fees to transfer! You came to me knobhead. I’m not taking a loss in my profit as a convenience to you.

Ebay Buyers – There isn’t as much to say here, probably because it’s an online bidding process and Ebay has already taken a lot of the guesswork out of it for you. The best advice I can give is to just pay promptly, because I won’t ship anything until your payment has come through. So any delays on your part will result in a delay in receiving your item.

Grocery shoppers – it’s just like driving (assuming you’re in a country that drives on the right side of the road). Carts on the right please, although I’d love to know if it’s opposite across the pond, where they drive on the wrong side of the road.  Do they move grocery carts on the left side of the aisles as well? : ) But how hard is it really, to get your cart out of the middle of the aisle. When you stop to get something off the shelf, just move to the side. Don’t stop in the middle. Look around. The aisles aren’t 3 carts wide. If you’re in the middle, ain’t nobody getting around. My parents brought me up to be polite, Minnesota nice, to say a gentle “please”, and “thank you”, and “excuse me”, and to cover my mouth when I burped in public. I am SO over that in the grocery store now (The Minnesota nice part. I’ll still cover my mouth when I burp in public, I promise Mom), it’s a firm and vocal “Excuse Me” that’s a whole lot closer to East Coast than the Midwest.

Anyone under the age of 35 – chronologically or mentally. Remove the phrase “I deserve” and “entitled” from your vocabulary and attitude. You don’t, you aren’t. Period. The world owes you NOTHING, you have to earn it. When you act like they do, you not only show your immaturity, but I really want to swat you off my shoulder like a gnat. Scat, go away!

Just sayin’.


Things Mom Never Told You, Vol 1

From time to time I find these little helps referred to as “lifehacks” by many, a term my husband detests. I’ve put a couple of them together to share with you, and over time as I come across more I will keep doing so. I want to make you all a promise right out of the gate – I will never share something with you that I haven’t personally tried. I won’t tell you it works if I can’t prove it. Where possible I will share photos or a video. If something is an epic fail, well I’ll tell you that too as I think that is just as valuable. So with that, I bring you the inaugural edition of “Things Mom Never Told You”.

Have you ever wondered…

…What to do with old toothbrushes?

Bet you always wondered what to do with a) your old nasty squished toothbrush or b) the free toothbrush you get from the dentist that you don’t like/use because you have an electric one. Well stash em all over your house, because they’re amazing cleaning tools. They’ll get the dust out of little crevices on your appliances, in grout and corners, in windows, in your car. Firm bristles scrub well too, and aren’t just for getting light cleaning done. We have them everywhere! I’ll even wrap a sanitizing wipe around one for some of the cleaning, like when I’m cleaning the caulk around the sink to get into the tiny crevices.

…New use for old flannel sheets

I cut mine up into small pieces, and I’ve used some as dusting rags or glasses cleaners as they don’t give off lint, others for wrapping up delicate items before packing away like china or other breakables. If you cut off the edges that have the elastic on the bottom sheets you can use those too. They also work well for staining and painting rags.

…Breathe new life into old plastic flower pots (or other plastic stuff)

Get a large bucket that you don’t mind ruining. I use a Homer bucket – you know the ones I’m talking about, from Home Depot, the big orange project buckets. You’ll also want plastic or latex gloves you can wreck, just get a cheap pair of the dishwashing kind. Next select 2 (or more) colors of spray paint that you like and want to have together on an object. Finally, choose the item you want to work with for this project. For this project I picked a plastic flower pot.

IMG_1287I’m doing this one with the color it is, which is the mock terra cotta, but I’ve also done it by first spray painting it with white primer so that my base was white. IMG_1288

You can also see this pot wasn’t new to start with, and was pretty sun bleached and dirty. I did scrub it up with some simple green but you don’t need a new one, just a well cleaned object.



Step 1. Fill up your bucket with cold water, deep enough to fully submerge the item. Take the bucket outside and put it on the ground, either in the grass, or on something that protects the area underneath it.

Step 2: Set up some method for drying the item you’re going to cover. You may want to hang it to drip dry, if possible. I have several large “S” shaped hangers that were originally used to suspend birdhouses or birdfeeders from trees, and I now use them as hangers from trees to spraypaint items or as my dryers. If you don’t have a way to suspend outside, you can hang the item from a garage track with something underneath, or even inside as long as you have something underneath to catch drips.

Step 3: Take your spray paint and spray on the surface of the water, alternating colors. You can spray in concentric circles, or vary it up. Do a bunch of concentric circles, then start a new set next to that. You’ll need quite a bit on the water’s surface though. (I know, in your mind you’re thinking “that much?” Sorry I can’t be more specific. It’s a learning process.) After you spray on what you think you need (add more for good measure), take a popsicle stick or tooth pick and with the tip lightly pull a bit through the paint, so you’re creating a bit of a pattern on the surface. You don’t need to do much, and if you try to do too much you’ll get paint sticking to the stick and start pulling it out of the water.

Step 4: Put on your gloves, then pick up your item and SLOWLY immerse it into the water. I recommend starting with the top of your item, so if you run out of paint, and have to respray and resubmerge it will be toward the bottom of it, not the top. For the first time, however, dunk the item all the way under water and hold it there for about 30 seconds, which helps the paint to start setting up and harden.

Step 5: Remove it from the water, hang it up and let it drip dry. Voila! You have a crazy new painted pot!IMG_1745

IMG_1245Here are a couple of other things that I’ve done as well. The table was originally black, we then spray painted it a light blue. I decided to try the two colors but it was too big for the bucket.


In a flash of inspiration (and sheer stubbornness because my husband didn’t think I would be able to find anything large enough to dunk it in), I lined our wheelbarrow with plastic and then filled that with water, and took the table apart into two pieces, dipping those separately.





IMG_1259The shell was a plain white/cream. I did that in a magenta/pale pink to accent in our bathroom. In hindsight the pale pink barely shows through, it almost looks like it’s the white, so I could have selected a different color for more of an accent. Don’t get me wrong, I like it, and can tell the difference between the pink and the white, it’s just subtle.


…Remove Old Stain

OK I admit this one isn’t something most of us run across too often, but the need we had and product we found for the job was such a revelation that I have to show it to you. We had an old aluminum canoe that was under a deck when the deck was restained, so the canoe had oil-based stain that dripped onto it. We didn’t notice it right away…or even later…we saw it probably a year later. Ugh. Fast forward to about 18 months later when some friends asked if they could borrow the canoe. Now it’s not a new canoe, it’s probably 30-40 years old, and has gotten banged around on rocks a fair bit, so it’s scratched, dinged etc. But stain? So I did a little research and found on something called Motsenbacher’s Lift-Off #4, Spray Paint and Graffitti Remover. It doesn’t dissolve the paint, it breaks the chemical bonds between the paint and the surface it’s on. Here are some initial before and after shots:



In the top photo I had already started to remove stain when I realized I’d better get a posterity photo so I quick shot one, hence the little gap on that middle spike. On the bottom photo you can see the left spike of stain is gone. I literally sprayed on the Lift-Off, waited 2 minutes, then used a plastic scraper (like the ones you get from Pampered Chef) and just a tiny bit of elbow grease to get it started. Once it started to come off, it truly peeled off. Once my husband saw how well it worked he said he’d finish it up, then decided he would also give the canoe a good overall scrubbing. Here is how it looks now:IMG_1424.JPG

Crazy, aint it? I linked to a YouTube video on the product name above so you can learn more about it if you would like.


I hope you found this fun, informative and/or helpful. Volume 2  is already underway, packed full of more great tidbits!    

The (Lack of )Trouble with Harry

Now I’m not one to go all gaga over the British royals, acting all starstruck and speechless if I were to see them – in fact I rather think I’d keep a good poker face on. Even though their grandmother is the Queen, I’d be a normalish, like it was just another day, anything goes kind of person. Because let’s face it, you have to feel a little sorry for those poor princes, Harry and William. Dealing with the paparazzi all the time has got to be a nightmare, and they sure didn’t ask for it, they were just born that way. Honestly, they aren’t bad kids, and would you and I handle all the fame and nonsense as well as they have? Probably not.

(Anyone figure out the theme of the first paragraph yet? If not, here’s a clue:)Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 7.42.59 AM.png

More seriously, I’m often struck with how extraordinary Princes William and Harry have become. Growing up under a microscope had to be absolutely unbearable, and many of us saw some of the ways that played out for Prince Harry thanks to the Internet. Over the past 5 years however, he’s worked hard to clean up his image, and demonstrate that he’s grown up. Most recently he and his brother, Prince William, accompanied by Princess Kate, have become strong vocal supporters for mental health advocacy. Prince Harry has been openly discussing his struggles with depression and how the death of his mother, Princess Diana, affected him. They seem to be determined to break old stereotypes and blaze new trails for royals. Can you even imagine 25 years ago, when Princess Diana was still married to Prince Charles, if she had openly discussed her struggles with depression or bulimia? How different things might have been if she could have, but at that time there was such a stigma about it all. Even now, we struggle to talk about mental health comfortably; we still want to treat it like it’s weird, or defective. Perhaps their openness on the subject will be what we need to begin breaking through for everyone.

I’ve run across a couple of stories I wanted to share about Prince Harry that for me at least made me think “what an amazing individual” he is, how real and genuine he seems. The first is from a trip that he made to Australia last year. Here is the link to a video on NBC on the trip, it’s very short, but worth watching and is delightful, particularly in these harshly partisan times.

The conditions aren’t the best, it’s raining out and he’s doing a fan ‘meet and greet’. As he walks the line he sees a familiar face. Watch his face – you can clearly see the delight when he recognizes this fan, and see when he mouths her name as he bends down in the rain, gives her a hug and kisses her cheek. They chat for a few moments before he moves on. What really struck me is that she is 97 and they are in Australia. He’d apparently met her the previous year when he visited there, and according to her, greeted her then and “he kissed the other cheek”. Think about this for a moment…how many people do you suppose he meets in a week…a month…a year? Yet he remembered her name – Daphne – you can see him say it, and clearly with pleasure from the smile.

I think that’s what the story from Australia was really about, Prince Harry being absolutely real and present, in the moment. In that video is a still photo of him capturing a moment of pure happiness in the moment, with his old friend Daphne. How many of us honestly are in the moment with the people we’re with, whether old friends, new friends, casual acquaintances or even someone you just met? If Prince Harry can do it, so can every single one of us.

Be In The Moment

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I challenge everyone reading this to just stop at least once this week, and pause to reflect. Are you in the moment? Not thinking about all of the distractions around you, the pressures and stresses, the kids, the bills, who made you mad or sad, but right now, in the moment. Go somewhere you can do this if you need to. Find a park, go to a zoo, or the animal shelter and hold a puppy or a kitten. Just take in that moment and hold it, realize its preciousness.

I also found an adorable story about him from when he was recently at the Invictus Games in Canada. (For those of you who are asking “Invictus Games, what the heck are those?” here is what it says about them in Wikipedia:

“They are an international Paralympic-style multi-sport event, created by advisors of Prince Harry, in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and their associated veterans take part in sports. Named after Invictus, Latin for “unconquered” or “undefeated”, the event was inspired by the Warrior Games, a similar event held in the United States. (The first Invictus Games took place in March 2014, and Harry attends each time they are held.)

Prince Harry was watching the volleyball finals, sitting next to friends, and their daughter started sneaking some of his popcorn. After he caught her at it, he started to make the most adorable faces at her, some of which were caught on camera. There is also a short video clip of it as well which can be found in the article in People Magazine online. If this doesn’t make you smile, nothing will!

Lightening it back up a bit, so are you still stumped on the first paragraph? I did my best to ‘turn it up to 11’ but no, it’s not about Spinal Tap. That first paragraph had 11 Lady Gaga songs in it – well, 10.5 since I changed one word slightly in one of her biggest hits, so with all due respect and appropriate apologies to Lady Gaga, it’s still her hit, and there are no copyright infringements. Here you go:

Now I’m not one to go all gaga over the British royals, acting all starstruck and speechless if I were to see them – in fact I rather think I’d keep a good poker face on. Even though their grandmother is the Queen, I’d be a normalish, like it was just another day, anything goes kind of person. Because let’s face it, you have to feel a little sorry for those poor princes, Harry and William. Dealing with the paparazzi all the time has got to be a nightmare, and they sure didn’t ask for it, they were just born that way. Honestly, they aren’t bad kids, and would you and I handle all the fame and nonsense as well as they have? Probably not.



There’s a Wasp in My What?

If you own a home, chances are at some point you have, or will have to get rid of a wasp nest somewhere on your home or property. It isn’t all that fun, but at least when you can see the darn thing, you can come at it with a spray can of Raid at night and kill the buggars.  But what about when you suddenly notice the damn things are flying around your house, and there’s no sign of a nest? That happened to us the other day, when I was pressure washing the side of our house on a fine, warm fall day. I hit a corner of the house where the bowed out area for our patio door meets the house again. Suddenly I noticed dozens and dozens of wasps everywhere, and they’re all flying behind the inside corner strip at the top, right by the soffit. Seriously? So I do what every sane woman does in a situation like this: holler for my husband. Yeah that worked well. He didn’t have any better idea of what to do than I did, except to wait for dark.

Well, we got a can of Raid and waited, and tried to listen in the walls to see if we could figure out more precisely where they were, but no luck. We weren’t even sure if spraying up by the soffit would work. THEN we did a little Internet research and stumbled on what is turning out to be a cheap and ingenious solution to the problem. It needs just a few things most homeowners already have at thier disposal: A shop vac, a ladder, some tape or velcro, and either water and dishsoap, or bleach.

  1. Put a few inches of water and a bit of soap in the shop vac. Make sure your filter is in place, and the exhaust port uncovered. ALTERNATIVELY you can put a few inches of bleach in the shop vac, no soap is needed.
  2. If you have rigid extension tubes for the shop vac, connect as many together as you can (we used 4), then connect your shop vac tubing.
  3. Rig it up to a ladder with tape or velcro. Get the nozzle of the shop vac right up where the wasps are going in.
  4. Plug in the vac and turn in on.
  5. Sit back, watch ’em get sucked in and die.


The first day we did it, we ran the shop vac for maybe 3 hours total. I’m running it a second day as there are still more wasps, although it’s slowed way down now. The goal is to get all the drones out, and eventually the queen will come out as well. When she does, your work is done.  You can plug up the area, but it’s my understanding that a new queen won’t move into an old nest.

Something to be aware of, if you do use bleach, you’ll get wasp soup. Bleach, as you might recall from high school science class, is sodium hypocholorite, and it does in fact, dissolve organic things like wasps, and rather quickly. So we aren’t too sure how many we actually caught, because by the time we took the cover off the shop vac maybe an hour after we turned it off, they were already dissolving. As a precaution, if you turn it off, make sure you disconnect the hose and COVER the opening, because if there are live wasps remaining they will fly out.  I think most of the wasps died right away, so we probably would not have needed to wait an hour.

(There are many videos about this on YouTube, so so need to add one from us.)

Unfortunately, as we walked around the house we noticed the little suckers busily trying to build new nests in a few other places. So we’ve done our best to hit those spots with the Raid, in hopes of driving them out before they’ve gotten too cozy.  I know one of the spots seemed to have a queen inspecting it, and I think we did get her, so perhaps we’ve dodged on bullet. I’m not entirely convinced we’ve dodged them all so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

A Trip to the Twilight Zone

Several years ago, my husband brought a proposal for a trip to witness an event to my attention, and at the time I really didn’t think he was all that serious about it. Fast forward to a few months ago when he brought up the topic again, and it was readily apparent to me I’d significantly underestimated his interest in this event, so we began planning how we might be able to be among those who watched the 2017 Solar Eclipse, and in August we took a road trip down to Columbia, Missouri for the big show. We are terribly fortunate, my husband’s brother and his wife live there, so we were able to stay with them, and his nieces were in the process of moving from Florida to Jefferson City which is about 30 minutes south of Columbia. One was there already and was gracious enough to let us stay with her for the first two nights in spite of the fact that she didn’t even have towels or pillows unpacked yet, items we were happy enough to bring along. (Thanks Mary!!)

The trip down was mostly good, up until the last half hour before Jefferson City, when we hit a heck of a rain storm. Suddenly our long drive got even longer, when hubby had to slow WAY down just to see the road. Fortunately that didn’t last terribly long, and after winding our way on a curvy, hilly road in the dark, we got to Joanna and Mary’s house, a couple of weary travelers stumbling out of the car and into an unexpected wall of warm humidity. Yeah, that wasn’t planned for at all, after all that time in an air conditioned car and we were instantly dripping wet. Fortunately his nieces’ house had AC, so we were quite comfy inside. What we didn’t realize is that Missouri is known for it’s humidity, and the air conditioners go on May 1, and don’t go off until the end of October. The other thing we didn’t know, is that there are armadillos in Missouri…yep, you read that correctly, armadillos. We saw a couple of dead ones on the road, and fortunately other drivers hit them, not us, as I’ve heard they can do some awful damage to your car. I guess it’s because they have this weird startle reflex causing them to jump straight up in the air…so when cars drive over them, they jump up, and that lovely armored shell causes all kinds of damage to the undercarriages of cars. Ugh.

Sunday morning we headed up to Columbia, where we had the unique experience of attending church where my husband’s brother is the pastor. It’s not an ordinary church, but rather is an international church on the campus of Baptist University. There were attendees from a number of different countries and cultures there, so his brother is kind of acting as a missionary right here in the United States. His wife teaches Sunday School to the children, and she said it can be really interesting as some of the children don’t speak any English at all. She finds she has to be creative, and uses lots of crafts to teach the kids. Look out on glitter Sundays!

Monday dawned, and was the big event. We set up our lawn chairs and waited, then watched in dismay as hazy clouds started to fill the sky. Apparently this isn’t an unusual phenomenon with eclipses, as the moon begins to cross in front of the sun and the temperature drops, it causes clouds to form. So on top of the partly cloudy sky we already had, we got more haze blocking our view. We did get to experience and see the eclipse, and while it wasn’t nearly as good as some parts of the country, I can’t really fuss because back home in Minnesota, I understand it rained all day and where they were hoping for a partial, they got nothing so I really shouldn’t whine.

The experience – now that was something else. While I can’t say the four of us were moved to tears or were overwhelmed, like some folks seem to have been, it certainly was an awesome and amazing sight. IMG_9633Perhaps if the sky had been clear it would have been different for us, but the sun/moon were periodically disappearing and reappearing behind clouds, so we had less than the 2 min of viewing the corona that a lot of others got. (I want a do-over!) It was beautiful, eerie, and kind of otherworldly. My husband and I took some photos that unfortunately were also a bit on the hazy side. The thing that was weird though, is that it got dark out, but not as dark as I thought it would. IMG_9651The light that remained literally made you feel like you were in the Twilight Zone, and then all of a sudden it was done, the sun peeked out, warmth came back and the haze disappeared.
We also got a few photos on the “exit” side. You’ll note that the sun looks orange, which is more from the color of the filter covering the lens of the camera than anything.

So would I travel again to see an eclipse? You’d better believe it! They happen about every 18 months somewhere in the world. There are total, annular and partial eclipses. I’d never heard of an annular eclipse before and had to look that one up. That’s when there is a ring of the sun that is still visible, where the moon isn’t quite covering all of the sun. In that case you can’t remove the protective glasses at all. It’s like having a “ring of fire” in the sky. I think that would be interesting, but not nearly as much fun as a total eclipse. So who knows, maybe we’ll plan some around the world vacations around the coming total eclipses. There are a couple that go over Australia, and I’ve always wanted to go there. Can you imagine what a trip that would be? Dive the great barrier reef, visit New Zealand AND see a total eclipse? Truly a trip of a lifetime for us. Have you gone anywhere that you considered your “trip of a lifetime”? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.