Monday, April 30, 2012

My New Obsession

I'm in love.  With a website.  Yep, a website.  Of course, given my reading addiction...it's a website all about books and reading!

Welcome to Goodreads.  An entire website devoted to books, reading, book reviews, authors, readers, and everything a reading addict could love!

Goodreads lets you connect with fellow readers, favorite authors, and lets you check out the shelves of your friends' bookcases.  There are reading groups, interactive chats with authors, and tons of reviews to read.

Goodreads also gives away thousands of books.  They are advance reading copies (ARC) of coming releases so you actually get to read the book before it's released to the masses.  Nirvana to a reading addict!!  All they ask is that you review the book when finished.

You can also set a yearly reading goal.  This year, I picked 121 as my goal for the year.  No specific reason, just a number I pulled out of thin air.  So far, I'm on track to beat it by a mile.  As of 04.26, I've read 59 books so I'm 21 books or 17% ahead of schedule to meet my goal.

You will add each book to your reading timeline as you begin it and update either your progress or your finish date.  As I read pretty quickly, I don't bother with the progress update and just update when I finish the book.  I then rate the book on a scale of 1 to 5 stars and write a review if the book really caught my fancy.  I also have my timeline tied to my Twitter account (@JerrilynnA) so it automatically posts there when I'm finished.  If you wish, you can also tie it to your Facebook timeline.

Head on over to Goodreads and check it out!  While you're there, send me a friend request...I'd love to see what's on your shelves!!

Love,
Jerri


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fruit To Go

I love fruit, any kind, any shape, any way.  This is a cute idea and perfect for kids and grandkids!

Fruit Cones

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut up
3 cups various fruits, cut up  (your choice, such as apples, cherries, kiwi, seedless grapes, peaches, bananas)
2 Tbsp shredded coconut
5 large waffle cones

Directions:

In a blender, puree the strawberries.  In a mixing bowl, combine the other cut up fruit.  Mix gently and divide among the waffle cones.  Drizzle the cones with the pureed strawberries and top with shredded coconut.

Enjoy!!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Frugal Fitness

Let's start with a disclaimer.  I hate to exercise.  I also don't trust people that say they love it.  It takes time, it hurts, and results are too slow.  I'd rather curl up with my dogs and read a book.  Unfortunately, it's sometimes a necessary evil.  I refuse to pay for something I hate so here are a couple of tips for frugal fitness.

1.  Go for a walk.  Explore your neighborhood.  Drive downtown, park and explore your city from the sidewalk.  Go to a local park and walk on the trails.

2.  Play with your dogs.  Think that's not a workout?  Throw that tennis ball a hundred times and see if you don't feel the burn.  Just remember to switch arms now and then!

3.  Clean the house.  Yeah, I know...not fun.  But you have to do it anyways so you might as well get something out of it.  It actually burns about 200 calories an hour.

4.  Unless your yard is like an acre, mow it with an old-fashioned reel mower.  This is without a doubt an intense workout and you benefit the environment at the same time.  No pollution from a gas mower and no power used for an electric mower...it's all you power.

5.  Rearrange your living room.  You know you've been wanting to..so do it!  You'll reap the benefits of a refreshed room and work those guns moving that furniture.

All free, all ideas you would probably do anyways.  Not everything has to cost money.  Trust me...I'm the Queen of Cheap!!

Love,
Jerri

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bigger Isn't Always Better

Alright...get your minds out of the gutter!!  I'm actually talking about the size of your home!!

I was watching House Hunters on HGTV the other day.  I love that channel...I love the ideas I get and the opportunity to peek into other people's homes.  What I don't understand is the burning desire of new homeowners to have huge homes (and mortgages) when they are just starting out.

There was one in particular that just floored me.  It was a young couple with a newborn looking for at least 2600 square feet because "they had a child now and needed the room".  Really?  Just how much room does a family of three need?

My first thought was that they'll now spend all of their spare time cleaning, maintaining, and working to pay for that home rather than spending extra time with their baby.  The same baby who was supposedly the motivation for needing all that square footage.  They'll be working every moment to pay that maximum mortgage they could afford.

Bigger isn't always better.  There is truth to the old adage that quality means more than quantity.  With the wisdom of age and of course 20/20 hindsight, I wish I could talk to these young families and share that time spent with your family is infinitely more valuable than time spent working on the yard.  Bigger and better will come, but don't let it be at the expense of the joy of the here and now.

And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Versatile Classic

I saw a post on Facebook the other day and the poster was stressing over how to pack for a multitude of occasions.  That brought to mind the most versatile classic of all...the black pump.



These pumps can be the most versatile piece in your suitcase.  Having to only pack one pair of shoes will also save you a ton of space!  I'm one of those that never checks luggage, so I maximize every bit of space in that carry-on.

Wear the pumps with a business suit or straight skirt and blouse and you're ready for a business meeting.  Black goes with almost every color so they are easy to match to an outfit.  They are a professional look and you still look stylish.

Wear the pumps with a cocktail dress and you're ready for a reception or night out on the town.  Just make sure the heel height is comfortable for you so you don't end up barefoot by the time the night is over.  And don't forget what heels do for your legs and butt...you'll look fabulous!

Wear the pumps with a pair of skinny jeans and a cute top and you're ready for a casual outing.  They work perfectly for hitting the local pub or a happy hour at a restaurant with the girls.  The jeans give you a casual look but the heels give it just that little bit extra.

So now you have a few ideas on how to pack just one pair of shoes and get a number of uses out of them.  Don't forget, they are also easy to slip on and off at airport security so you won't hold up the line!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Apologies

I'm so sorry for my absence!!  I'm back and let me regale you with the story behind my disappearance.

On Saturday, I was taking a jewelry rack down from my wall.  Here's a picture of what one looks like from Brylane Home's website:

Jewelry Collection Organizer image

As you can see, it's mounted directly on a wall or door.  Mine was mounted on the wall.  On the floor beneath it, I have a chair and a half sleeper.  Rather than moving the chair and getting a ladder like I should have done, I grabbed my beloved drill and up on to the chair I went!



Removing the jewelry rack itself was no problem.  I got the screws out, lowered the rack to the chair, and went to jump down from the chair.  And that's where things went awry.

Somehow, as I was on my way down, I completely lost my footing.  In itself, not a huge deal and I thought I was going to be able to catch myself.  I caught myself alright.  Using my head and the edge of the seat on an oak chair.  Did you ever think about just how hard oak is?



Needless to say, the oak didn't give.  Neither did my skull.  So I headed up with a golf-ball sized lump behind my left ear, a good sized gash, a headache from hell, and a concussion.  Not my idea of how I wanted to spend the last few days!!

I'm feeling a lot better now and I'm back to my usual ditzy self.  That would be without the added ditziness of having scrambled my brains.  I did learn a few lessons, though...and here they are:

1.  You are 50 not 19.  Stop climbing on furniture.

2.  Use the proper tool for the job.  An upholstered chair is not a ladder.

3.  Oak does not give.  AT ALL!!

Love,
Jerri


Thursday, April 19, 2012

RIP Dick Clark

The voice of my generation from American Bandstand to the $10,000 Pyramid to New Year's Rockin' Eve...You will be missed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Dog's Life

As I sit at my desk this morning, my black lab Max is sound asleep on the couch beside me.  Yes, he's allowed on the furniture.  At the grand old age of thirteen, he's allowed to do whatever he wants.

He's rapidly turning gray and doesn't much resemble the pup we first rescued at 8 months old.  That Max was so wired for sound and active, he could make your head spin.  He also was a lab puppy which meant he chewed everything in sight.  That includes eating a wall off the outside of the house, the trim around the patio door, and various flower pots.

Now, he gets a few spurts of activity during the day.  He'll bark, spin in a couple circles, then grab a toy and lie down with it to find the squeaker.  I have to search for my shoes every morning as he likes to carry them around the house.  No more chewing...just carrying.

I watch him as he is sleeping and my heart fills with all the years of joy he has brought to my life.  He's been a good dog, even if he does backtalk when he gets reprimanded.  So if I have something on the couch, I'll move it so he can jump up and take his nap.  He's earned every bit of it.

Love,
Jerri

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Curse of Amazon

I've written before about making extra Amazon credits via Superpoints and Swagbucks.  Not a fortune, but $10-$20 a month always comes in handy!

I have the best of intentions.  I tell myself that I'm going to save those credits for something big on my wish list or for Christmas.  I'm only deluding myself.

I'm a reading addict.  With Amazon, I can have any book I want to read in my hot little hands within 60 seconds.  It is impossible for me to resist!  We're talking about an almost unlimited supply and more than I can possibly read in my lifetime.

So my good intentions fly right out the window.  Book by book, those credits get whittled down until they're gone and I need to earn more.  My wish list?  Still just as long.  Christmas?  I'll figure something out.

Ooo...look!  A new book!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

3 Out Of 4

It's estimated that three out of four female murder victims are killed by their significant other.  That means 75% are murdered by the very men who claim to love them.

I am a survivor of domestic abuse.  Every time I look in the mirror, I see the two inch scar on my face as an ever-present reminder of just how much love can hurt.  And I was a lucky one...I got out alive.

Over time, the scar has faded.  In fact, if you ask any of my friends...they couldn't tell you if I even had a scar or which eye it's under.  Of course, that may have something to do with the wrinkles it is rapidly disappearing in to on my rapidly aging face!  The memory will never fade.  It is decades old but makes me fearful and distrustful to this very day.  I'm sure other survivors will tell you the same.  Your guard is always up and the walls built out of that scar tissue are tall and thick.

Even so, that scar is nothing compared to the pain of the families who have lost someone to domestic violence. There is a hole in their lives that nothing can ever fill.  The pain and what-if's last a lifetime.

If you are in that situation, get out.  However, whenever you can, there are resources to help you escape.  Use them.  If you think you see someone in that situation, your instincts are probably correct.  Do not remain silent.  Silence is what allows domestic violence to flourish.

Stand up.  Speak out.

Love,
Jerri

Saturday, April 14, 2012

An Easy One!

Earlier in the week, I did a post on making do.  In that post, I mentioned the white chocolate/strawberry parfait I made for Easter dessert.  Here's how to make them...hang on, it's a tough one!!

Ingredients:

1 box instant white chocolate pudding mix
2 cups milk
Strawberries

Directions:

Prepare pudding according to directions on the box.  Chill.  Hull and thinly slice strawberries.  Layer strawberries and pudding in parfait or sundae glasses.  Chill until serving.

Enjoy!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Rough Day

I didn't post yesterday due to attending a memorial service.  Without a doubt, the worst part of aging is the ever increasing number of deaths, loss of friends, and funerals to attend.

My friend is now a widow while still in her 50's.  That just seems so inherently wrong and it breaks my heart to see her in such pain.  She is alone with a business to run and a joint dream that no longer holds value to her alone.  But there is a home to maintain, animals to care for, and a business that has to be open six days a week in order for her to survive.

What to say?  "I'm sorry", "I love you", and "I'm thinking of you" only go so far.  I wish I knew some magic words that would alleviate her pain and ease her loneliness.  But I don't and I don't think anyone knows those words.  I can only hope that my hug conveyed them.

Treasure your loved ones, our time here is short.

Love,
Jerri


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Making Do

Making do...something our mothers and grandmothers excelled at accomplishing.  Somehow, with the baby boomer generation, the focus changed from making do to everything has to be new, bigger, and better.  With that, we also became a generation of debt and stress.

Making do doesn't have to mean doing without.  Let me give you a couple examples from this past Easter dinner.  With my kids grown and gone, Easter egg dye kits are no longer in stock in my kitchen.  But I decided that I needed some dyed eggs to make it feel like Easter.  What did I do?  I used koolaid already in the fridge! Yes, it works.  Cherry makes a pretty pink and well, grape is self-explanatory.

I also needed to come up with a dessert.  The oven was off-limits as it was already full with racks of ribs and a huge pot of Boston Baked Beans.  Digging around in the pantry, I found a box of instant white chocolate pudding.  I still had about half a container of strawberries in the fridge so I decided to use those up also.  And the white chocolate/strawberry parfaits were born!

You don't have to run out to the store every time you think you might need something.  With a little imagination and a little creativity, you can make do with what you already have.  The internet is full of amazing ways to re-use things you already have.  Next time you're stumped, do a quick search...you'll be amazed what you'll come up with!  Remember that not everything you want/need has to cost extra!

And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

National Sibling Day

I miss my little brother.  He lives in Hawaii and visiting him seems a far off dream.  I dearly wish he was closer!

We have what I think is a usual brother-sister relationship.  We tease each other relentlessly.  Our first response to each other is almost guaranteed to be a smart-ass one!  When we were younger, we frequently knocked the crap out of each other.

But there is that line that is common in sibling relationships.  While we do and say things to each other, heaven help an outsider who does or says those same things.  I may smack him upside the head for something stupid he did, but let anyone else hurt him and I will tear them apart.  Well, except for his wife!!  After all, I count on her to keep him in line!

He would do the same for me.  Although he's my baby brother, he's big and can get kinda scary!!  I really wouldn't want to cross him for real.  Luckily, as his sister, I have a lot of leeway and can get away with teasing not too many people can.  But I know he always has my back.

I love my baby brother and wish I could give him a hug on National Sibling Day.  But Hawaii is a long way away from Texas so I guess this counts as my hug!  Hug your siblings today!

Love,
Jerri


Monday, April 9, 2012

Ready, Set, Swap!!

Clothing.  One of the expensive categories in our budgets, and a difficult one to manage.  We all want to look good...but how to do it frugally?

One option is a clothing swap.  You will get new clothes for your wardrobe, get to spend time with friends, and they get new options to wear also.

First, compile a list of like-sized friends.  Choose a theme for the night and make it a pot-luck to save wear and tear on you!  Personally, I would choose to make it a night of drinks and desserts.  That way no one has to worry about heating things up and running back and forth to the kitchen.  You can grab paper plates and such at the dollar store so no great expense there.

Send out your invites.  Use email or an online service such as e-vites.  The only rules in regards to the clothes and accessories are that they be clean and well-maintained.  You don't want anyone bringing clothes that are stained or should really be rags!

The day of the swap, set up your living or family room like a boutique.  Put blouses in one area, dresses in another, etc.  When your guests arrive, help them sort in to the different areas.  Go over the rules you've set such as if you brought five items, you leave with no more than five.

Last thing...enjoy the time with your friends!  Put on a fashion show with items you all have selected and have fun with it!!

Love,
Jerri


Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Different Twist

Shrimp and Bacon Deviled Eggs



Ingredients:

  • hard-cooked large eggs, shelled
  • 1/4 cup instant potato flakes
  • 1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 cup cooked medium shrimp, peeled and chopped (about 4 ounces) 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 
  • center-cut bacon slices, cooked and crumbled 
Directions:

  1. Cut eggs in half lengthwise; remove yolks. Place 4 yolks in a medium bowl; reserve remaining yolks for another use. Add potato flakes and next 6 ingredients (through red pepper) to yolks; stir well. Stir in shrimp and parsley. Spoon about 1 rounded tablespoon shrimp mixture into each egg white half. Sprinkle with bacon.
Enjoy!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

This Weekend

Wishing you all a Happy Easter weekend and a Happy Passover!







Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Last Words

Ever since I lost my best friend to breast cancer, I have made a conscious effort to change how I end each and every conversation.

Whether in a chat box, text, email, or phone conversation...I end each conversation with "I love you".  It doesn't matter if it's friend or family.  It's important that anyone I have a relationship with knows that they are in my heart.

Each conversation and each interaction may be my last.  I'm not being morbid, that's just reality.  I want the last words anyone remembers me saying to be "I love you".  Those are the words I want to be echoing in to whatever void my absence may leave.  Any conversation where I don't say it is a missed opportunity.

So whether it is just for now or whether it will be forever...my last words are now and always will be...I love you.

Love,
Jerri

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Menopause Brain

Today I have a severe case of menopause brain.  It's empty.  Completely empty.

I've caught myself a few times today wandering around a room with no clue why I even entered it in the first place.  I did manage to get the trash taken out before the garbage truck actually got here so I have accomplished one thing today!

I distinctly remember having pregnancy brain decades ago.  I could have a complete conversation with you and five minutes later, I would deny ever talking with you.  Little did I know then that it would return with a vengeance all these years later.  God bless hormones!

This blog sat staring at me with a blank page this morning for hours.  A friend told me to just go ahead and write what I know.  This is what I know this morning:  The porch light is on but the occupant is on vacation.

I think today that I'll stick with sandwiches and fruit.  I think I might be a menace when it comes to open flames or a microwave.

Better yet...I think I'll take a nap!!

And those are my random thoughts this morning....and boy, are they random!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month.  More and more children are being diagnosed with varying types and degrees of autism.  This is an often misunderstood disorder and one frequently the target of charlatans and scam artists.  With this awareness month, the hope is that more will become educated and access to appropriate services more available.

Autism is something close to my heart on a couple of fronts.  I have a friend who is the most incredibly talented artist.  She has made the beautiful decision to use her talents as an art therapist for autistic patients.  She has almost completed her schooling and will receive her certification soon.  I am so proud of her and her desire to help!

I have another friend with a daughter who has been diagnosed with Asperger's.  As I watch her fight for her daughter to receive the educational services she requires, my heart breaks for her.  It shouldn't be that hard.  Her daughter is a beautiful, smart, loving girl and deserves the best.  But my friend is passionate and determined so Lord help anyone who stands in the way of her providing the best for her daughter.

To put my money where my mouth is, there is a box at the bottom of my page at my blog.  It's powered by SocialVibe and each click on the box helps pay for a minute of behavior therapy.  Head on over to the blog at Jerri's Empty Nest and click to support Autism Awareness every day this month.  Thank you!

Love,
Jerri

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