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Archive for July, 2013

Now Being a Vegetarian for a day can make you $250 rich

July 31st, 2013 at 03:03 pm

Be a vegetarian for one day in October and enter to win $250. Or one week and enter to win $500. Or if you're feeling REALLY ambitious, do it for the whole month and try for $1000. Just give up meat, fish and fowl. It's OK on the milk, cheese and eggs (this is for vegetarian, not vegan).

It is all part of World Vegetarian Awareness Month in October. The North American Vegetarian Society puts it on - the information is at http://worldvegetarianday.org and the contest info is here (click the 'WVD Contest' at the top of their home page).

I'm in!! are you?

Forgot to Write the Big News!!

July 30th, 2013 at 03:14 pm

There was an important day last week in our summer vacation. It was the day my daughter would compete in the ISI (international skate institute) world figure skate competition. ISI is like the minor league to USFS (the olympic qualifying group). It is where younger and older skaters join to compete but at a somewhat lower level of pressure.

But it is still reasonably serious! The competition was held in Anaheim, close enough for us to drive. It was open to ALL skaters though the majority entered from the US.

My daughter entered at the Freestyle 4 level, and they separate by age. There were 8 others in the event for age 13. The skills for this level include moderate spins (sit spin but not a layback for example) and intermediate jumps (anything below an axel) and required footwork. Her proficiency at this level is solid but she has only been in 2 small competitions before.

To prepare psychologically, we took a trip down to the rink the week before and skated in a public session to get a feel for the place. We went the night before and stayed at my MIL house who lives about 20 minutes. That night we went to see other events to see how things were set up (judges, etc).

She was scheduled FIRST of the group at 8:15 am. The time was hard to work with, she is not a morning person! You are required to check in 1 hour ahead so it was a 5:00 am wake up to get dressed, do hair and a bit of makeup and be there by 7:15 am.

Being first has advantages. I've seen girls get increasingly nervous if the other skaters fall before them. On the other hand, it is hard to know how good you HAVE to be if you are the first to go.

Well, she went and did well. Not her absolute best ever, but very good. Then there were 2 very good skaters after; one was a Korean girl who was very very polished but FATE she fell on her footwork (of all things!). The other was a fun polished spanish dancer number.

I am not an expert but the judges are, right? MY DAUGHTER TOOK FIRST !! This was really unexpected !!

Here are a couple on-ice candids from the professional photographer...(the lady in pink is her coach)





Remember those 423 crystals I glued on that dress? It was worth it Smile

By the way, I am pleased the photographer was so reasonably priced at the event. They took 50+ on-ice candids and you were able to pick any for $10/ea. And that included a podium portrait at the same price if you medal (we did and got a podium shot of her on 1st place).

It's all a downhill skate from here now! At least for the summer.

What's next? Her coach has it figured out correctly: she now goes up to the next level (freestyle 5) and adds the hard jumps to her program!

Thanks for reading!

Furlough No. 1 Free Time Fun

July 23rd, 2013 at 02:39 pm

It was all work for one of us and no work for the other. My husband was off from Fri through Mon - his first furlough weekend. For me? Work on Fri AND Mon, a departure from my usual part time status.

Many good results!

1. My additional work hours are approximately making up for his pay loss. Of course we still have an overall decrease in income, but my pay was used more for extra improvements in our lives over the years such as: bathroom remodel (we did the installation ourselves), solar panels on the house, lots of figure skate costs (equipment, coach expenses, entry fees), even buying land and a rental house.

2. My husband took advantage of the long extra days off and went backpacking. And fell back in love with the trail!! I couldn't go (working!) and my teen son passed but my husband didn't give up and found a way to make it happen. He went with Sierra Club on a not-to-far-away trip that was still challenging. HE LOVED IT. The leader was fabulous and supremely interesting. The location was a major treat, and the whole experience was a dream come true. Now he wants me to go next chance I have (HA, WHEN?!)

And other fun results? I went to a produce exchange on Sunday. It was small, about 10 people, and I brought some of the more interesting things: green beans, sunflower seeds, nectarines. But we also reaped some fun. My daughter brought a friend who picked out a tomato seedling for her house.

It was also a big art fest in my city last weekend and I invited my boss to meet me at one of the galleries on Sat night. She showed up with a friend who in fact by chance saw an old dear friend at the gallery. It was wonderful to see the reacquaintance of these folks.

Tomorrow is a big big day - my daughter skates in the ISI International Figure Skate Competition in Anaheim - wish us luck!

Opening Move Practice

Kicked out of the Bedroom

July 19th, 2013 at 10:09 pm

It's been 2 weeks and one day but feels like months! The changes are numerous: moved one laundry basket to block a doorway (but leave the fresh air flowing), using up paper bags to scoop litter, buying $1 cans of tuna, babysit instead of dusting, babysit instead of gardening, babysit instead of vacuuming. I'm talking about you know who, Big Annie (now 8 weeks) and George (6 weeks), foster kittens I am helping to raise until they are adoptable.

George


Annie


Not really, all the instead of stuff. I am squeezing in the household chores, but certainly not as much as usual. And forget about cooking for my family! Thank goodness my husband is happily home early and off some whole days on furlough cooking away!! We've had specially coated fresh cod from his last fishing trip. And seared green beans from the yard, orange and nectarine smoothies from the yard. And way too many onions which are going to become french onion soup soon.

But the kits have claimed the bedroom. The first to go was my husband, he was smarter than me and just gave up trying to sleep in the same room as they are (separated from the dog). For a couple days, I was sleeping on the floor until they settled down in the closet whereupon I would sneak into my bed. Only to be awakened usually around 1am for some kitty tag. And then get up 5:30am to get ready for work.

Silly me.

It didn't occur to me to give up and go downstairs on the guest bed until DH invited me. Of course! Much better and not too tired anymore.

When I took them in for the 2 week check up it was so encouraging to watch 3 different citizens walk in while I waited and get volunteer paperwork for the county shelter.

AND...a middle age guy was there to take a very sick schnauzer which was going to be euthanized (I didn't see the pup). He was with a schnauzer rescue and was going straight to the vet and help get the dog better so he could also be adopted.

Happy news.

Newest and Best Yet

July 11th, 2013 at 05:37 pm

I have admired wire work in jewelry for a couple years. It looks so detailed and fancy, I loved that it was made from simple wire and beads. No power tools, no torch or chemicals. Just a big dose of patience and imagination.


Here's some examples:

Google Images for WIre Wrapped Pendants

Usually I can figure out how to make things, but this type of work looks perfect without a start and end. Never fear! When an master wire worker gave some free written downloadable lessons on line, I jumped on them!

Determined to carve out some time between the day job, the kids, the husband, the dog and yadda yadda yadda. I made myself LEARN!! The first attempt came out beautiful.

Beginner's Luck?


In fact, that one went right into a shop. Ditto a second. Now I am working on a series for fall and winter shows and online sales.

Oval and Teal


Triple Curl


Mine are made with non precious metal wire and glass/freshwater pearls/crystals. My prices online will be starting at $25. The experts work with sterling silver wire and their prices are double and triple of course due to material.

Having a great summer!

Didn't think getting 'Outside my Comfort Zone' would involve 2 kittens

July 8th, 2013 at 10:03 pm

How can 2 kittens impact my life so much? Well, I am definitely outside my comfort zone these past 4 to 5 days. Lots of problems! Lots of brain work figuring out solutions!! How to get the little ones to sleep at night and not waking my (normally very patient) husband? Litter training one of them! How to keep them separate from my unfriendly dog? And more and more.

Here's the story:

I want very much to help the less fortunate, be it at Christmas with donating to kids' shelters or volunteering at the humane society. So when the county animal shelter asked the community for kitten/puppy fostering this summer (so they can transition to no-kill) I signed up. It was something I wanted my children to experience since they never have had a baby pet, but something I knew about from my own childhood.

The shelter called on July 3 with 2 kittens that needed a home for one month only. They were already on hard food, no bottle feeding. It looked great, the schedule fit perfectly with ours.

I picked them up on July 4 (that shelter staff works all the time, extremely dedicated!). We planned to go to our weekend house for the next few days, so I just took a separate car. The ride up was hard! One kitten slept the whole time, and one cried the whole time and threw up a little and had a wet poo on a towel. Wah! My 13 y.o. daughter did everything she could to make it comfortable.

Things went better after we arrived. I got them settled into the master bedroom/office/bathroom. That night was a trial though. Here's a look back:

9pm. Sleep with #1 in my bed a couple hours to start.

11pm. Put #1 on a blanket in the corner (with the other), praying it didn't want to come back with me in bed. It didn't.

1am. Both wake up for a little play time, drink. I stayed up with them especially to make sure the litter box got used.

1:30am. Both go back into the blanket in the corner without my help to sleep WHEW Smile

5:30am. Everyone awake, kittens and humans.

All day long I watched #1 for purposes of litter training. The poor baby had worms which meant it didn't like going potty anyway (the shelter had started deworm medicine before I got them). I took a well needed nap later that day, and kept fingers crossed that kitten #1 didn't need to sleep in my bed anymore. In fact, it went smooth night two. WHEW WHEW.

Litter training was accomplished after a couple mistakes within another day and the trip back went better.

But other big issues confronted me!
Keep the kittens separate from my dog. The shelter advised separating fosters from family pets and I planned to use the master bedroom/bath. This room has an outdoor patio that was perfect for fresh air, but the door needed to be blocked so kittens did not go out and run away.

I didn't want to spend alot (or hardly any) money either. So for the patio door? We had a big spare window screen that fit the doorway. I clamped one side to the door jamb and made a makeshift latch/hinge and nailed to the other side. Never again will I complain about my husband storing old stuff around the yard (like old window screens!!!)

For the bedroom door inside the house I bought a portable metal exercise pen. Though it was $60, it would be useful for other critters. It encircled the doorway so the dog couldn't get through but humans could walk over.

Night Schedule. Now only the problem of how to make the kittens sleep at night!! My husband would not tolerate middle of the night shenanigans. I wasn't looking forward to exhaustion either. We both needed to go to work!! (The teen daughter was to babysit during the day).

The first night the kits were running everywhere. Nothing worked. They would not settle into a corner blanket.

I hadn't planned letting them in the big sliding closet, but I gave it a try the next day (my laundry baskets were in there and I didn't want to relocate them along with all the other stuff that has changed!) It seemed the kits were not doing any damage so I let them explore.

And guess what?! They found a very enticing sleeping spot within an hour!! No more worries about night. The closet saved us!

So all is working out, except my brain hurts! Want a peek at the two little 'angels'?

Most Unusual Frugal Tips in Hawaii

July 3rd, 2013 at 05:16 pm

We had a couple weeks island vacation without spending a fortune. Everyday we made cost saving choices; some of which are typical frugal living habits, some of which you would never think of!!

The Tried and True Tips
1. Free hotel nights or room upgrades. Our family of 4 needs a little more room than the standard hotel digs. Fortunately we squeeze every drop of upgrades out of my husband's Holiday Inn Priority Club status. He racks up points throughout the year (via business travel and regular purchases on a Priority Club credit card) and uses the points for free nights and bigger rooms on family trips. This time we got one free night out of 6 and an extra large room on the 18th floor with a HUGE view of Waikiki and Diamond Head ($$$) AT NO EXTRA CHARGE to the standard rate. The view? see here...



2. Eat in. Almost every trip we use Holiday Inn express which has a very very nice free breakfast. On the rare occasion that we don't, we try very hard to get free room upgrade with mini kitchen (microwave and refridge). That's what happened this trip. The typical day's meals? Dad wakes early and walks for fitness to a non-tourist grocery (sometimes this is 2 miles one way which is good!). There he picks up breakfast and lunch supplies such as: milk, dry cereal, breads, peanut butter, sliced cheese and fruits. Upon return, the teens might be awake and have breakfast. We pack lunch and go off for the day's travels.

3. Use Local Transportation. We resist car rentals especially in areas with major bus/train choices. This trip we did not have a car on Oahu for the first 4 days but still saw parades, went snorkeling and had plenty of beach going. The bus stop was right at our hotel doorstep (admittedly a lucky choice!) and we used it to go to Hanauma State Park where the snorkeling was highly recommended. The cost? about $2.50 ea.

The Unusual, Unheard of and Weird Tips
A. Ask the Beach Bums. Sometimes simply buying inexpensive beach equipment at the destination is the way to go instead of renting beach equipment, (e.g. boogie boards and umbrellas). We were about to buy a couple boogie boards but a local overheard our discussion and said, "Why don't you ask the homeless group over there to buy their stuff?" Hmmmm. We had seen several groups of folks who didn't look mentally unstable but more like they camped out at the area for awhile. We kind of liked the idea! Less STUFF in the world and perhaps help these folks out a little. My husband gave it a shot and guess what? They said, "Sure, no charge, just bring it back when you're done." WOW! We used a couple boogie boards for 2 days and brought them a couple pineapples as thanks.

B. Scavenge fruits and nuts. Well, certainly you've done this on the mainland. Backyard orange trees? Wild berries? The fruits in Hawaii are just more exotic and tropical. We found mangoes and macadamia, coconut and more off the main tourist areas.

Stay tuned for 'No Cost Hawaiian Activities Tips'