Thursday, December 11, 2014

Happy Birthday to ME :)

So, the other day I bought myself a little present for my birthday tomorrow, and it arrived today.  I don't even know where to begin to describe how much I love this product so let me just say, if it were possible to fall in love with a pillow, THIS is the pillow to fall in love with. Really.

I create custom designs for other people all the time but rarely do I create them for myself.  Just busy doing other things, I guess :)  But this idea popped into my head the other day and it came out exactly on canvas (so to speak) as it appeared in my head, and I was very happy with it.  I decided to go with a burlap design for the background and red for the heart and names to match our dark brown couch and my super soft red throw blanket that lays on the back of it.  It was a perfect match!

Now about the product itself:

zazzle offers these pillows in either Polyester or cotton, and I decided to go with the Polyester as customer reviews always mention how silky soft it feels.  They weren't kidding! Super smooth to the touch, and very very soft. It has a hidden zipper enclosure at the bottom seam and that's the zipper pull you can see at the bottom right of the pillow above.

The pillow insert itself is SUPER fluffy, which is awesome. I chose the 20"x20" size (they also come in 16"x16") because I require large pillow-fluffy-ness :)

Two more added bonuses: both the cover and the insert are machine washable and this product is made in the USA.

As for the printing:  zazzle's print quality never fails to blow me away.  Depending on the product (fabric, texture, etc., the final color may be a shade different than what you see on the screen, and that was the case with the pillow.  The faux burlap background is slightly lighter, a more muted shade, but still the same color.  The red I used in the design is actually a much deeper red in the final product and that worked out wonderfully as well since it matches my throw blanket almost exactly.

Overall, I couldn't be more pleased with the final product.  I do offer customization on these (both top and bottom lines of text can be changed, as well as all the names on the right and left), so if you'd like one for yourself or for a gift for someone special, please contact me here and I'd be more than happy to help you with that.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

'Tis the Season to celebrate

It's hard to believe it but once again Christmas is just around the corner.

Everywhere you go, in every store you'll see all the un-sold Halloween decorations whisked away to the "reduced for quick sale" bin and the shelves that held them just a week ago... filled with Christmas *everything*.  From cards, to lights, to decorations in every size and shape and color.  Even some new sizes and shapes and colors you've never seen before!

With that in mind, New Year's Eve is fast approaching as well.

If you're planning a festive New Year celebration this year, whether it's an intimate gathering of friends and family for a dinner party or a few drinks and appetizers, or a full out corporate affair for hundreds of clients, you'll be be sure to find the most classy, elegant and festive New Year's Eve party invitations at Reflections zazzle.

The New Year's Eve Masquerade Ball invitation shown here was the signature choice for an elite country club in Desert Hot Springs, CA last year, for over 500 distinguished guests, and virtually everyone just absolutely loved it! The reviews, (while private and unable to show you here), were simply phenomenal.

Here's a sampling of what's new and popular for New Year's Eve 2014.

With every invitation design the goal is to utterly WOW your guests, at the attention to detail on the card you've chosen to showcase your event.  Every sparkle, every glitter, every letter, right down to the shimmer or shadow across the printed card.

Whether you're planning an indoor event with mood lighting, an outdoor event with fireworks, or a whimsical event for close friends and family, there are over 150 styles and themes to choose from to make your NYE party, an event to remember!

Click HERE to see the entire collection.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Women are Watching? GOD is watching...

Earlier this evening while scrolling through my twitter feed I saw this image of a t-shirt design.  So, I clicked because tees are sort of my thing.  This is what I saw. I don't know every last detail of the back story on this but it's essentially a tee design from a loud-mouthed pro-abortion celebrity backing a pro-abortion industry. That's really all I needed to know. If you need to know more details, you can read about Lena Dunham and Planned Parenthood here.

So allow me to explain why I'm blogging this.

A.) It infuriates me that this message of "kill your baby, it's totally okay" has become so mainstream.  Really, folks have gone to great lengths to whitewash this but that is in fact, the root message.  It's a baby.  Abortion kills it.  It's NOT okay.

B.) I'm a designer, and designing eye-catching designs is what I do, so that's what I did to counter the message on this nasty, pro-abortion tee.

Now allow me to explain, briefly, what this message says.

• It says all life is precious, and every human being is created in the image of God, to be treasured and protected. At all costs.  Even at the cost of the mother's convenience or lifestyle.

• It says LOVE is a verb. Not a fleeting, subjective feeling.  It doesn't matter if that baby was planned or not, choosing to make the sacrifice needed of your personal self (and your figure, career, lifestyle, finances, living arrangements, etc.) shows you put that baby's life above your own comfort and convenience.

As a mother of seven beautiful people (none of which were "planned") and four beautiful grand-people, I know first hand how difficult it is to wrestle with the "oh no, we didn't plan for this, what are we going to do!?" difficulty.  I know it multiple times over and I know it's NOT easy to put your selfish feelings aside and consider what is best, what is right, what is good and what glorifies God.  Is it easy to accept and embrace an unplanned pregnancy?  No, no it's not, especially for those who are unmarried and completely unprepared but even for those who are married, stable and perfectly able to care for a new baby but also completely unprepared for this news.  However, God does honor those honor Him, and He does provide for those who trust in Him, and He does comfort those who bring their doubts and pain struggles to Him.  You remove God from the equation and you will be left with what modern culture is screaming at you: kill your baby, it's totally okay.

You add Him back to the equation and you will find hope, support, comfort, peace and encouragement, not matter how hard it gets.  I've BEEN there, I know.  I've been on my knees at the side of my bed, weeping to the Lord and asking for guidance, wisdom, and peace.  He was always faithful to provide exactly what I asked.  ALWAYS.

I don't talk about this subject much online only because I've already gone through that stage of "hey, let's argue the abortion issue online!"  idea and have seen the kinds of arguments used on both sides that never result in anything tangible...  back in the 90's when I first become active online.  I've since read those same arguments & commentary and seriously, nothing has changed except, more people being brainwashed into thinking it's "totally okay".

For those who know me, it's clear: I'm a Christian and I believe in 100% pro-life in any situation and regardless of the circumstances. Period.  It doesn't mean it's easy or all rainbows and puppies and sunshine, but it does mean there is a living, breathing, thriving baby that was created in the image of God, by His hand and for His glory.

So this is my contribution to the pro-life message of today.  I don't have any outspoken celebrity models to show you (yet?) wearing this design, but there it is, all the same.  Simply click the image if you'd like to support this message and order one for yourself.

To God be the Glory.

Friday, October 10, 2014

What's for Dinner? Taco Pizza!

If your family is anything like mine, and loves both tacos and pizza, this is a great switch-up from the regular menu.  It's really easy to make and here's how it's done:

1. Go to the store and buy all your usual taco filling ingredients and a plain cheese pizza from the deli.  Do *not* use a frozen cheese pizza, as it does not come out the same way, and it's just gross.  Don't be gross.

Suggested taco toppings for your pizza:

Browned, seasoned ground beef
chopped green onions
chopped jalapenos
black olives
Tex-Mex style shredded cheese
shredded lettuce
sour cream
chopped tomatoes
salsa/taco sauce
crushed tortilla chips

2. Pre-heat the oven and put everything on the list *before* the lettuce, on your pizza. Don't bake the lettuce. **shudder** That's disgusting. So, don't do that.

3. When the pizza is done, cut it.  Cutting it now allows you to avoid a genuine messy disaster later.  

4. Dish up one piece at a time (or let the family/kids do their own) and starting with the lettuce, add whatever toppings you like.

Voila, Taco Pizza! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

2014 Elf Yourself Custom Christmas Greetings

(Normally I'd be posting this at the store blog only, but I wanted to share this with my readers here as well)

Christmas will be here before you know it, and now is the time to Elf yourself and your entire family!

These cards are really popular and a lot of people wait (gasp! last minute Christmas shopping!) until well into November before they start ordering so I thought I'd get the word out that NOW is the time to Elf yourself.

I've just started taking custom orders this week for these adorable Christmas cards so if you'd like an Elf-version of your family (and who wouldn't really?), just drop me a note here with the subject line ELF CARDS and include the following information:

• Elf #1: male or female? 
• Skin color: light/medium/dark
• *Hair color: black/brunette/red/blonde/gray
• Adult or child
• Height: tall or short 

*If one of your elves is bald, be sure to include that information as well, as I can easily take one of the elves to the barber, just for you.

Include that same information for each elf-version of your family member that you'd like on the front of the card as well as how you'd like the card to read, i.e.,

"FROM THE JACKSON ELF CLAN OF LOS ANGELES" and the first names of everyone on the card. 

These cards are also available for your office crew!  Last year's biggest challenge was fitting 17 (yes, seventeen) elves from a real estate office onto one card.  It was a success though, and the reviews on the finished product were wonderful :)

You also have the option for red stripes (as shown) or green stripes in the background, so be sure to include your preference.  Once your card is ready (usually the same day) I'll send you a private, direct link for purchase through Reflections zazzle.  As always, there is no minimum order and bulk discounts available for over 10 cards. Card info: Dimensions: 5" x 7" (portrait) - Printed on ultra-heavyweight (120 lb.) card stock with a gloss finish - Each card comes with a white envelope.

I look forward to hearing from you and Elf-a-tizing your family!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Time to Rant

Every time there is a news item about a female student being taken advantage of sexually by her male teacher, the comments and reaction is always the same:

Pervert, pedophile, string him up, castrate him, etc. so forth and so on.  Both men and women will comment and say the same exact thing. EVERY single time.

By stark contrast, whenever there is a news item about a male student being sexually seduced by a female teacher, the comments and reaction are vastly different.  While some men and most women react the same as if it were a female student, there are always the same, identical comments from men:

He had the time of his life, where were these hot teachers when I was in school, sucks to be him, etc. so forth and so on.

I think they think they're funny.  Problem is, the only ones laughing are them, and the other "men" commenting and saying the same thing.

For those men, I have a few things to say:

1. You're a pig.
2. You're a pig.
3. In answer to your question "where were these hot teachers when I was in school?"

Thankfully, for the most part, those teachers were keeping their hands to themselves and taking their authority over you as a student, seriously.  They were professionals who genuinely cared more about teaching than ever breaking the law with an underage boy.  Not to mention violation of trust, breach of position as an adult, etc.  So where were they?  They were following a code of ethics and morals and not exploiting you like a classic pedophile.

For those of you who think he "had the time of his life" I wonder if you'll still feel the same way when this boy, (who has had it demonstrated for him by a "responsible adult" that casual sex is just a cheap thrill, with no responsibility, or accountability and the law doesn't matter) comes around to date your daughter?  Is it still going to be funny then?  What if your daughter says NO to this boy?  You've already given him (and the adults) your stamp of approval as they broke the law, so... is it okay for him to break the law with your daughter?  Be careful how you deal with this one, because you've already admitted how funny you think it is.  Is it still going to be funny when you're sitting in the waiting room while the medical staff is administering a rape kit to your precious baby girl because some teenage boy thought it would be okay to do whatever he wanted and break the law by forcing himself on her when she said no?  How funny will it be when this teenage boy becomes an adult and has his mind so twisted from this violation of trust, that he himself becomes a serial rapist (yes, rapists almost always have a sexually abusive background - and a damaged, warped view of what sex and intimacy is) and decides to rape your wife one night as she leaves work?

Will you still be laughing and wishing those teachers were around when you were a boy? 

Thankfully, the vast majority of teachers then (and now) do find it reprehensible when something like this happens.  Thankfully, most parents also view it the same way.  As the mother of a teenage boy, I have no qualms admitting that if an adult woman took advantage of my son this way, I'd want to rip her head clean off, exactly the same way I'd feel if an adult male teacher did the same to any of my six daughters.

There. Rant over.  Carry on.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Recipe: Fresh Summer Berry Syrup

Growing up in western Washington where blackberries grow wild almost everywhere, I was spoiled rotten with one of the most amazing berries ever.  Every August, armed with nothing but sheer determination and an empty coffee can, my brother, sister, mom, grandma, or some other family member and myself would head into the blackberry vines and go wild picking berries.  By the end of the day my fingers (and face) were stained purple by berry juice and my can was full, and the anticipation I had for fresh blackberry pies, blackberry dumplings, and blackberries and cream was almost too much to bear.  Like I said, I was spoiled rotten :)

Berry Syrup made with blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries

Today I decided we'd have breakfast for dinner, and I really wanted blackberry syrup for the waffles.  I've purchased the prepared stuff in bottles but here in Ontario it's outrageously expensive so I decided I'd make my own syrup.  It's been years since I did that, but homemade is always better so homemade it was!  Here's the recipe for a fantastic berry syrup, and you can use almost any kind of berry (blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, strawberry or a mixture of any of them).  You can also use either fresh or frozen and it turns out almost exactly the same texture and exactly the same wonderful flavor.

So, without further delay, here's the recipe:

4 cups of pureed berries (I use my Ninja blender and blend them until they look like baby food)
*1.5-2 cups of water
2 cups sugar
**2 tablespoons fruit pectin

Using a whisk, blend all together and bring to a boil in a heavy bottomed pot, stirring whenever you feel like it (like, between text messages, FB and twitter notifications, letting the dog out, letting the cat in, and out, and in again, and answering kid's questions, etc.).  Once boiling begins, watch it carefully so it doesn't boil over (clean up is a mess, trust me on this).  Boil for about 5 minutes then remove from heat.  Skim the foam off the top and either let set at room temp if you plan to use it that day, or pour into sterilized jars and seal with rings & lids.  You can also simply refrigerate if you plan on using it up within a few days.  My kids devour stuff like this so it just goes in the fridge afterwards.

*If you're using fresh berries, use 1.5 cups of water instead of 2 cups since fresh berries tend to be juicier than frozen.

**Pectin is optional.  Without it, the syrup has a thinner texture like store-bought table syrup.  With it, it has a thicker consistency.  Using pectin is entirely optional, and depends on how thick/thin you like your syrup.

Serve over pancakes, waffles or ice cream. It also goes really well as an add-on to a fruit/yogurt smoothie.

Reviews from my family today:

Samuel: motioning with hand gestures: two thumbs up (then he had seconds)
Rachel: "Mom, why do you do these things? This is amazing!"
Jordan: "can we have this every day? Why don't we have this every day?"
Ruth: "is there any left??"
Hubby: "baby, that was awesome"

Your mileage may vary.

Nutritional info:  there is none.  It's berries and sugar and water. *shrugs*

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Giggles Do Come Back

Nineteen years ago today, I became a widow. I was 30 years old.

It's one of those things no one wants to talk about.  No one wants to think about and no one wants to know about, unless they absolutely have to.  Even then, they'd much rather think, talk or know about something else because in all honesty, it's just a terribly difficult, unpleasant subject.

The truth is, saying it outloud "n i n e t e e n years ago" makes it feel like 900 years ago.  Partly because so much has changed since then, but partly because I was such a different person then, living such a different life then.  In some ways it feels like it all happened to someone else, and I was just there.

I remarried a few years later so technically I think I'm supposed to call myself a former widow.

As the years have come and gone since that day, I never really know what's "socially" acceptable to say about the way I feel about it.  Do I talk about it?  Do I go about my day like it's any other day?  If I don't talk about it, where are the voices out there for current widows or other former widows to connect with to find out they really aren't insane, but everything they're feeling is completely normal?  If I do talk about it, will people be all bummed out?

I've discovered the older I get the less and less I care about what is considered socially acceptable or politically correct or any of those other nice phrases we use that essentially mean "don't say what you're thinking because you'll upset the apple cart".  Sometimes, the apple cart needs to be tilted.

So, I write this for me, for you, for your sister, my sister, your grand-daughter, your neighbor, the lady at church, my kids, my mom, your mom, your kids and whoever needs to know someone else has been through it.  We're not alone, I can assure you of that.  In my family alone, in the span of just a few very short years, my grandma, myself, my sister, my step-sister and my mom, all became widows.  No, we are not alone, even though we all have different circumstances.

Monday, August 11, 2014

She Was Only Six

My world has kind of been rocked over the last week and I have a million thoughts about it so I figured this is probably the best place to put them.

I'm a bit of a true crime enthusiast (although that sounds sort of morbid, it's really not) so from time to time I frequent a discussion forum for people just like me to discuss recent crime cases.  It's a really well run and well moderated forum for people to just sort of put their heads together to try and figure out the how, why, when, who, etc.  Well, I was there the other day reading up on a few cases and when I hit refresh to get the latest posts, a notice came up of a brand new case.

That case was of Jenise Wright, a missing 6 year old girl from Bremerton.  I read the city name, then I read it again, then I think I read it at least a couple more times before I clicked on it to read the details of her disappearance.  For those that don't know, Bremerton is my hometown, so that's why it struck me the way it did.

Once I clicked, that was pretty much it for my attention span, working, social networking activity the next week. Something in my heart just said I had to stay up on this case, and so I did.  If you haven't followed any news on it or even heard about it, just click here and you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about this precious little girl and what happened to her. But before you do, look at her picture again and let that great big smile and those sparkling brown eyes burn itself on your memory.

What I quickly learned is that Jenise lived in a mobile home park that I'm very familiar with. It's a park I used to work in when I owned my mobile home cleaning service, and a park my uncle used to live in.  It's a nice place, primarily occupied by young families, retired, current and former military, etc.  Pretty much the same kind of neighborhood you'd find anywhere, but it's all contained in one little community with about 100 homes.

The timeline of her disappearance was basically this: dad saw her in bed around 10 pm last Saturday night, but she wasn't there when they got up Sunday.  By Sunday night the police were at the park and before the investigation was over, over 300 law enforcement agents were called in from local Bremerton PD, Kitsap County Sheriff's office, WA state patrol, Search and Rescue, the FBI and who knows what other departments. They threw every available resource at finding Jenise, and once they did (no, sadly, they did not find her alive) they were just as diligent at finding who killed her (and yes, they did).  The law enforcement agencies as well as the community at large (and not just those in the mobile home park, but all over Bremerton and Kitsap county) stopped what they were doing and dedicated whatever time/talent/skills/prayers/boots on the ground they had to offer to bring this baby girl home.  Deputy Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff's office, during one of the many press conferences held during the week called her a "daughter of Bremerton" and as such, everyone involved was dedicated to helping to get her back.

Just watching the search unfold over social media and seeing word spread like wildfire, I don't think I've ever been more proud to say "I'm from Bremerton Washington" as I have been this week. Despite what some may say about SmallTown America, that showed the heart of Bremerton right there.

As I did what I could being 2500 miles away, via social media and my research skills, I came across a lot of information that hadn't been released to the public yet. And by a lot I mean a TON of information I started keeping in a file all it's own in my favorites. All pieces to a puzzle.  I couldn't post about it at the forum because unless or until a person is named as a suspect, you can't spread rumor or hearsay there and you definitely can't post about minors (unless they're the victim, or also named as a suspect by law enforcement) so my hands were kind of tied.  See, little Jenise lived in a very small community with a bunch of kids and they all just sort of hung out together.  It's just the way it works in those kinds of communities.  But because many of them were teenagers and many (far too many, to be precise) teenagers leave their social networking sites fully public, it was actually pretty easy to find out who was talking about what, to whom.

While I'm certainly not a professional at this at all, I developed a profile of who took her away. I shared this with my husband and then shared it at the discussion forum:

He lives at the park.
He is a teenager known to her.
He is a teenager she trusts.
He is a teenager that knows she trusts him.
He lured her away, with some lie about a puppy or chocolate or something he knew she loved.
He took her into the woods, did what he did, left her there and hoped no one would ever suspect him.

Not so surprisingly, a lot of other arm-chair detectives like myself had already come up with almost the exact same profile.

As it turns out, according to the Notice of Arrest and Probable Cause statement (and please, BE WARNED, it's VERY GRAPHIC) that is almost exactly what happened, and who he is.  I have no idea yet if I have all the details down but I did nail most of them and I cannot express how much I hated to be right.  It was not at all a good feeling, being "right".  This is what I wanted to go to school for so many years ago and for some reason I just can't get this "I have to know who did it, how, why and when" out of my head.  Maybe it's a matter of wanting to see justice in this wicked world.  Maybe it's because I'm the youngest of 3 siblings and being a tattle-tale is just my lot in life.  I don't really know what it is but this crime-fighter thing has been stuck in my head since I was not much older than Jenise Wright, and I doubt it will ever go away any time soon.

So now, my thoughts on all of this.  Random and in no particular order I first need to say that while I believe in the sovereignty of God, and that nothing happens outside of His divine allowance, I will always have a very hard time with crimes committed against children.  There are just some very evil people in this world, or people that even for a flash of a moment in time, give in to those evil urges and God allows it to happen.  That He doesn't allow it to happen MORE often is more mind blowing to me than the fact that He does allow it to happen.

When someone commits a crime like this, there is never just one victim.  While Jenise was the first, after her came her mom and dad, 5 brothers and sisters (one of which was actually friends with the teen who killed her), grandparents, cousins, playmates, teachers at school and neighbors in the park.  Not to mention the law enforcement agents that found her broken little body in the woods.  They can never unsee that.  Then there is the flip-side; the perpetrator's family.  In this case there are his parents, step-parents, a huge extended family, all his friends, his girl friend, every teacher or coach he ever had now wondering "did I ever notice something off about him I should have payed closer attention to?" and the people in the small community that knew him and trusted him.  This ripple effect cannot be pulled back once it's done, and can include hundreds and hundreds of people exposed to the raw, forever-pain of a dead little girl, violated in the most de-humanizing, horrific, personal way you can violate a person.  AND SHE WAS ONLY SIX YEARS OLD.

While I don't know either family personally, through the course of my sleuthing online I came to discover I do actually know people that know the family of Gabe Gaeta (and just to be clear, I will not post his picture here.  He doesn't deserve the space on my blog), the 17 yr old who "allegedly" (legal mumbo jumbo) ripped the life away from little Jenise.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised, really.  When Tori Stafford in my (now) hometown of Woodstock Ontario went missing, I later found out that even though I didn't know her personally, I knew a LOT of people that did.  In small towns, eventually, somewhere, somehow, there's probably a connection.  I wouldn't be surprised to find out I know people who know Jenise Wright's family too.  In any case, my heart goes out to all of them.  I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to have to deal with something like this.

In one of the statements shared in the media, Jenise Wright's dad mentioned he hoped in some way, some how, something good can come of this. While his pain and grief is super-raw right now, that was a good thing to say.  There actually can be good, that comes from tragedy if people pay attention and take it to heart.  While you can never really "know" what someone is capable of (and in this case, the alleged perp Gabriel Gaeta has no criminal history, is well-liked, good in school, etc.) you can do more to make sure your kids are safe.  Set boundaries, know who they're hanging out with, where they are, what they do, where they go, and CHECK THEIR DEVICES ONCE A WEEK.  Yep, all caps, because most parents are convinced this is a violation of their kid's privacy and just don't do it.  And it's just stupid.  Even if you have the best kid on the planet, that doesn't mean they can't get lured off into some sketchy, inappropriate site or social networking app where all kinds of garbage is being shared & discussed.  All of our kids have devices with the condition that they knew ahead of time, we'd have access and check them on a regular basis.  And we do, and yes, we have found stuff that shouldn't be there from time to time and we've talked to them about it, and answered their questions.  I don't even want to think about all the filth they could get caught up in, if we never checked their devices or talked to them, but just let them do "whatever" because we didn't want to be that helicopter parent.

That alone may not prevent your kid from encountering a tragic situation but then again, it might.  As parents we have to do whatever we can to give THEM the tools to grow and make good choices so they can learn the importance of protecting themselves.

I had more to say but, my brain is kind of exhausted now.  I don't even know if anyone will ever read this since it's way over 140 characters but even if 1 person does and it helps them, Jenise Wright's dad's wish that some good comes out of this, will come true. I ask that you join me in praying for the Wright and Gaeta families as they begin this surreal journey and try to figure out how to cope with what's happened.

I didn't know Jenise Wright personally but she and I are both daughters of Bremerton, and her bright smile touched me from 2500 miles away.  Now I just hope for justice for her.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Positive Choice

Our 8th grade son brought this home yesterday and I really wanted to share it:

With all the crazy, obscene, profane, inappropriate garbage out there masquerading as "sex education" in public schools, it's sure nice to know at least in this school, abstinence is being promoted as a POSITIVE choice.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Vinegar Fruit Wash -or- Waste of Time?

So, just for kicks and grins today I decided to do a little experiment as I was tidying up the kitchen.

You may or may not have heard or read online about a vinegar wash for fresh fruit.  I've been seeing it for a few years now and finally got around to testing it out to see if it actually works as claimed.  If you believe everything you see on Pinterest and Facebook, it's the Magic Fruit Spa.  

So, here's what you're supposed to do, and how it's supposed to work:

1. Clean your sink. (I do that every day so that was not hard.)

2. Place the fruit in the sink and cover it with 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar. (With apples, covering the fruit is sort of impossible because they float.  Also, I skipped the measuring of the water and just filled the sink with water until they were barely floating and then poured in 4 cups of vineger.  You're also supposed to get your water the same temperature as your fruit, so I did that.)

3. Let them soak for 10 minutes.  That part was easy.

4. Remove the apples, rinse and dry them off, and you're supposed to see them bright and shiny with all the waxy buildup gone and even smelling fresher. Oh, and your vinegar water is supposed to be murky and gray and make you go "wow, that's really gross".

So, my observations and results:

1. The bag of apples I just bought seemed especially waxy and dull so I thought this was a good specimen.

2. Because they float, after 5 minutes I did turn them over and stirred up the water a little, but not too much so they didn't bump around in the sink and become bruised.

3. As you can see from the picture, once I removed the apples from the vinegar water, the water was not dirty at all.  I guess my fruit wasn't dirty enough to murky the water? I don't know.

4. Once I took them all out and rinsed them off, then I dried them and placed them back in the bowl.  They do look shinier but I don't know if that was the vinegar or the rubbing motion with the microfiber cloth I used to dry them (similar to the old fashioned way of shining your apple, on your shirt sleeve or pant leg).  I sniffed one to make sure it didn't smell like vinegar (it didn't) but it did have a very pleasant apple-y smell.  I don't know if it smelled like that before, because I forgot to sniff it.  I'm going to assume it did, since it's an apple and they smell like... well, apples. Usually.

In Conclusion

Honestly? I think it was kind of a waste of 10 minutes and 4 cups of vinegar, since Fruit Professionals (those people with titles before their names (or after, depending on the fruit, I guess) that are quoted in articles online, and since it's online, we know it must be true, seem to agree that simply washing your fruit with water essentially does the same thing, or, buying a prepared fruit wash and using that (which is probably just vinegar and water).  They might be making that up, but it's hard to say.

There you go.  Now you don't have to try the vinegar fruit wash.  Or, you could if you really wanted to, and see if your results are the same or not. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Yep, I'm Still Here :)

Just a quick note in case anyone is still a regular visitor of this blog (I'd be surprised if anyone was, lol) but yes I'm still around, still busy, and blogging more frequently at my design blog than here.  

I did want to bring your attention to my latest post there, because I think it's something that matters to all of us.  Please see Spread The Word: NO HOT CARS

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

You Have The Right to Remain Guilty Until Proven Innocent

So yesterday I participated in a discussion on FB regarding the news story of the French authorities collecting DNA samples of 527 male students and staff (with the threat of taking them into custody for further questioning and considering them a suspect, if they refused to willing give DNA) at a school where a girl was raped.

The discussion started off this way:

"Do you think this is an acceptable method to solve a crime?"

My answer:

"Acceptable? No, not at all. The very idea that all males in that school are potential suspects due to the fact that they ARE male, is just outrageous. The idea that they'd be remanded to custody for refusing to give up their DNA is purely insane. Thank God this isn't France. Clearly they've lost their minds."

100+ comments and statements later, I can honestly say I was floored by how many people (at least the ones commenting there, and apparently a bunch of them in France) are so ready and willing to quite eagerly sacrifice the rights of others (and by doing so, their own, even though they don't realize it yet).

I had no intention of revisiting this topic today but of course there were more comments and FB notifications and all that when I logged on today.  I won't re-hash the entire conversation but I do want to point out some things that really stood out to me about this topic.

"If you're innocent you'd have no reason not to give DNA to prove it"

That comment came up a lot and I'm honestly not sure if anyone saying it realizes what they actually said. Perhaps it's because I grew up in a culture where it's commonly believed (or it used to be anyway) that in a criminal investigation a person is considered innocent until proven guilty, but each time I read that statement it struck me how quickly people are willing to assume guilt of others, and essentially form a lynch-mob mentality. To me this is like saying, "if you're not engaging in criminal correspondence, you'd have no reason to not let the police read all your emails" or, "if you don't have any stolen (or illegal) property in your home, you'd have no reason to not allow police to enter and search every square inch" or "if you're not laundering money, you have no reason not to allow police to comb through every single financial transaction you've made in the last year"

Now, I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the internet but from where I sit, these things are private and as law abiding citizens not under arrest, we should have the right to keep them private, should we not?  The implication that statement above makes is, only the guilty or only those with something to hide, would refuse to submit their DNA for elimination.  The same implication would have to be said about any random person who didn't let the police read all their private emails, search their homes or pull their financial records. It's truly an absurd idea that only the guilty desire to protect their privacy.

"Who cares about their right to privacy? A girl has been raped, what about her rights and justice for her?"

Another sentiment that came up many times.  Can you imagine if law enforcement carried out every investigation this way?  Let's say for example a blonde woman was seen committing a crime, and then got away before police arrived.  The only information they had to go on was that she is a.) female, b.) blonde and c.) there were eyewitnesses to her crime.  So then, every blonde female in a 20, 50 or 100 mile radius is now considered a possible suspect and for that reason, law enforcement is able to detain, search, enter their homes (without a search warrant), confiscate their property, etc. Even if she can prove she was no where near the crime scene.  Simply because she's female and blonde she is considered a possible suspect without any other evidence whatsoever.  Essentially, the police can do whatever they deem necessary because... who cares about their right to privacy? A crime has been committed. What about the victim's rights and justice for the victim?

Imagine the precedent such a thought process would set if this were to become common practice. At which point, no one, at any time, any place would ever again have any right to privacy.  It would be completely stripped away from every single citizen because... that's what they wanted. Of course they only wanted it in this case, but possibly the next one, and the one down the road, and then that other one and then one day, they themselves would be the one presumed guilty before proof of innocence and they would have no rights, and no defense and no protection under the law.  None.  

Of course this sounds ridiculous and outrageous and (hopefully) will never be a reality but the fact is, stepping on the rights of innocent people to catch a criminal who assaulted someone is unthinkable, unethical, and irresponsible.

Honestly, I hope they catch the monster who raped the girl.  As well, if they had asked the males associated with that school to willingly submit DNA without any threat of detaining/questioning/presuming guilt and they willingly volunteered, that would be just fine by me and there wouldn't even have been a story. I also hope when they do catch him, it will turn out that he isn't a match to any of the 527 they forced to be tested.  Because if he is, that seals it in the minds of those who were for this, to announce to the world that regardless of your or my personal right to privacy, the ends justify the means.  And that's a major slippery slope I honestly don't think any decent, private citizen wants to see coming to their community.

Because if it does, eventually it's going to be you, who has the right to remain guilty until you can prove you're innocent.  Or your husband, or daughter, or mother, or me, or someone else you care about.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

When the Meat Goes Bad and the Wicked Run Wild

Honestly, I don't even know where to begin with this except to say it's one of those things that has been unsettling to me for a long time (years, actually) and I think more and more of society is beginning to see the fruit of it.  And that fruit is rotten to the core.

My husband Kevin, demonstrating the Duckface.
I think for me, I first began to really notice it several years ago when teenage girls were posting the Infamous Duckface pics as their profile pictures online.  That odd, come-hither, aren't-I-so-alluring pose that 99.99% of the internet just laughed at.  Strangely enough, while we all laughed and mocked the nonsense, it didn't fade away but instead became more common.

The rest of us just shook our heads because it was so... dumb.

Over time, the gears shifted considerably.  Social media in the forms of FB, twitter, tumblr, instagram, snapchat and tons of other lesser known platforms became the Go-To for all things that feed the Naughty Narcissist in an entire generation of Internet People.  While my generation didn't even have the internet until 25 years ago, now we have 25 year olds who have never known a world without it.  Kind of strange to think about, isn't it?

In any event, we now live in a world where your self-worth depends on how many friends, followers, comments, likes, retweets & shares you get on any given statement or picture.  Younger people (and even some older people that get sucked into this vortex of self-importance) are doing more and more outrageous and risque things, for more and more likes and shares.  The pics are getting more graphic, the statements are getting more incendiary, and everyone just wants to "go viral".  Everyone wants to become "internet famous" and many of them don't give a rat's scrawny butt how they do it.  As long as everyone knows their name, and they're being talked about everywhere.  Ironically, because of the way social media is set up, it's actually pretty easy to get there because people WILL talk about the creepy, nasty, outrageous, horrible, graphic thing you said or did.  They sometimes talk about the awesome, wonderful, humanitarian thing you did too, but that happens far less often and the attention dies down much faster.  People definitely love a scandal.

Heather Elvis
Which is the perfect segue into what might be one of the worst examples I've read in a while.  You may or may not have heard about Heather Elvis.  Long story short, Heather was a 20 year waitress in Myrtle Beach who went missing December 18, 2013. My radar is sort of fine tuned for cases like this that hit the news because I have six girls of my own, and because I have this odd interest in crime cases.  More specifically, how law enforcement investigates and eventually solves cases and the bad guys go to jail.

As I began to follow the investigation into Heather Elvis' disappearance (via the local news station down there, as well as the discussion forum for amateur crime solvers called Websleuths and handful of twitter and FB accounts) I began to notice something very different about this case than previous crime cases I've ever read about.

ONE: both the victim Heather Elvis, and the accused of having something to do with her disappearance (and who have now been charged with her murder as well) Sidney and Tammy Moorer, had a VERY heavy online presence on a wide variety of social networking sites.

TWO: the victim herself was actively posting to one of her accounts just moments before her cell phone mysteriously lost all data.

THREE: Tammy Moorer, the wife of the duo suspected of having first hand knowledge of Heather Elvis' disappearance (and now murder) was not only super busy on her own social media networks, she was also the fake ghost-writer behind her husband's account(s).

As more and more details came out about the investigation and charges, the whole world learned that the missing young women Heather had a brief sexual encounter with the married Sidney Moorer, whom she met at work, and when the wife found out about it, she lost her biscuits. Literally.  Court documents revealed all kinds of graphic, nasty, threatening text messages from betrayed wife, to ex-girlfriend.  To be honest, that's perfectly understandable.  I suspect a lot of married women might not react so gracefully upon discovery that their husband cheated on them with a woman half her age. And frankly, much prettier.  It would be heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time.

What's more, she was still online on these accounts actively posting and maintaining her facade after Heather Elvis went missing.

Sidney and Tammy Moorer
FOUR: Tammy Moorer's online persona was completely and utterly fake.  And by fake, I mean FAKE IN SPADES.  This is the image of herself that she used as her profile pic and on various sites.  Pictured here with her husband Sidney, they appear to be a somewhat attractive, close, loving couple.  This isn't the only picture of them in this type of pose, there are many others I've seen and EVERY single one of them is extremely digitally altered.  I work with photoshop every single day and can spot photoshopped pics in a heartbeat.  I can tell when an image has been softened, which areas of the face have had the blur tool used, the darkening tool and the lightening tool applied. A lot of women do this to conceal blemishes, wrinkles, double chin shadows, etc.  They want to present the prettiest image of themselves they can and photoshop is what they use to do that.  There may in fact be pictures out there of Tammy Moorer that are not massively photo-shopped (maybe ones she didn't take) but I haven't seen one yet.
The REAL Sidney and Tammy Moorer

That is, up until her and her husband's mug shots when they were arrested for the kidnapping and murder of Heather Elvis.

Now you'd have to click on these images to see them full sized, to really get a good idea of what's going on here. In the first picture, Tammy Moorer doesn't have a single blemish, under-eye circles, discoloration of the skin, etc.  In fact, her face looks nearly flawless.  Granted, she's not wearing makeup in her mug shot photo but even if she was, her face still doesn't look the same.  By stark contrast however, Sidney Moorer looks relatively the same, except for the softening tool used in the first picture.  It's evident in this photo and many many others, Tammy Moorer was quite focused on making her online appearance look flawless.

It wasn't just her images she did this with either.  As more info came out over the last few weeks, Tammy Moorer painted this fantastic, wonderful picture of the Moorer home life. Hubby was a successful, self-employed man, she homeschooled the kids, they built their own dream-Disney-style Polynesian home, and took annual, exotic Disney-themed vacations.  I've even seen some screen shots of her own posts on the Disney discussion forums and she comes off as this bubbly, fun-loving stay at home mom who just loves life and enjoys Disney.

The truth is far from that image.  During the police arrest and the search warrant of the home, many many harsh realities came to light.  They both lied on their taxes (big time) and lied about their income for loan applications.  The condition of their home was absolutely horrific:

"Spoiled meat, moldy potatoes and three guns lying in plain view were among the findings during an Horry County Police Department search of the home of Sidney and Tammy Moorer, according to a police report.... According to the Feb. 21 police report, the Moorers and their children were present during the execution of the search warrant and they were all asleep in the downstairs master bedroom...One family member was sleeping in an oversized chair while another was asleep on a mattress at the foot of the bed. A third family member was asleep on a mattress in the walk-in closet, the report said....Police said in the report that three firearms were out in the open. Two long guns were leaning against the wall while a subcompact pistol rested on the night stand beside the bed. "Overall, the home was in disarray and unsanitary," the officer wrote in the report... Police further said in the report there was some sort of meat lying on the kitchen island and that it had aged for some time. Cooked potatoes were also on the counter top and had begun to mold... The report also said trash was left on the counter tops and floors... Upstairs, the home was in "complete disarray nearly in an unlivable manner," the report continued... Hundreds of Legos were scattered on the floor with other children's toys, trash and clothes and the backyard was covered in animal feces, according to the report." - source

Now, I've been a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom (we homeschooled for 10 years) and that doesn't sound like what police would ever find in my home.  Even on my WORST housekeeping day and trust me, the cat poop on the living room carpet some days was pretty bad, but it was the FIRST thing that got cleaned up, sanitized and blotted with stain remover every morning, even before coffee. Untold numbers of Legos and Barbies on the floor yes. But that's where any similarities end.  In fact, that police report description is a FAR CRY from the way Tammy Moorer gushed about her home life on the internet.  It's completely the opposite, and the fact is, she's a completely and utter fake.  From what she wanted "the world" to think she looks like to what she wanted the world to think she lived like.

While most people following this case are just hoping for ONE outcome, the Moorers confessing and telling law enforcement where Heather Elvis is (and I want this too, for the Elvis family) , many are also finding themselves somewhat dumbfounded at how FAKE the Moorer's really are.

But... it's so common these days.  It's the thing to do.  Fake your picture(s), fake your life, your home, your kids, your job, etc.  The internet has just given an entire generation of people this sort of Second Life where you can be/say/do whatever you want.

Frankly, I find it all deeply disturbing.  It's almost as if it's feeding this wicked, vile part of our soul and saying "post the lie, everyone will love it, and love you!"

Moms... dads... if there's ever been a time to take a serious look at your kid's online world (and your own), it's now.  Be sure they and you are keeping it real, be sure you and them are not so caught up in "fame" or being "known" that clicks/likes/shares/retweets/whatever aren't what matter.

And, for those who pray, pray for Holy Spirit conviction for Sidney and Tammy Moorer and they confess, disclose the location of Heather Elvis and the Elvis family can bring their girl home, and say a proper goodbye.  And pray for the Moorer children.  God only knows what these poor kids have actually lived with.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Can We Combat The Rape Culture? YES, One Little Boy at a Time

You've likely heard the term.  Maybe you even understand what it means.  Maybe you're not sure.  To clear it up, I thought this entry at wikipedia did a pretty good job:

"rape culture is a concept that links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape. Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape. Rape culture has been used to model behavior within social groups, including prison rape and conflict areas where war rape is used as psychological warfare. Entire countries have also been alleged to be rape cultures."

I've written about this before and you can read it here, if you like. But today I want to focus on something specific and that is, how do we combat it?  How do we as a culture fight back against it and change things?  There is actually a way to do this and it's not as complicated as one might believe. It does however take a lifetime of commitment.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Christian Woman Blogger: 10 Years In

Christian woman blogger.

What comes to mind when you see that phrase?  Do you immediately think of your favorite blogger who is a woman and a Christian?  Do you read that phrase and in your head, hear it being spoken it with the contempt-laced tone that critics tend to use? Or does something else immediately come to mind?

I suppose it depends on where you're at, how you perceive that phrase.  After being a Christian woman blogger for 10 years now, I can honestly tell you the phrase means something entirely different to me today in 2014 than it did in 2004.

Back in that day, blogging was still pretty much new ground, and new blogs popped up faster than springtime weeds.  Some lasted just days, while others came along and were awesome and either faded away, or just became more awesome.  I can count on one hand how many women bloggers from that day that I read then, that I still read now.  I don't know how many of them are actually still blogging, I only know which ones came through the filter for me as I've grown over the last 10 years.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I Have a Confession To Make

Do you ever have one of those thoughts that seems so complicated and multi-layered and has like, a hundred different implications, so much so that you can't even really figure out what it is you're so bothered about? Well of course you do, I think we all do.  So for today, here's mine:

"I hate mean people".
Now that I've said that, allow me to explain what it does mean and what it doesn't mean.  I'll start with the latter, first:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Graveyard Wife

When my husband and I got married 16 years ago I knew that he worked night shift.  I was pretty sure I understood what that meant too, since I'd had plenty of experience as a kid whenever my mom would take an overtime day on the weekends, and it happened to be the graveyard shift.  I even went to work with her a few times, which was kind of exciting for a 10 year old kid.  Staying up ALL night? You bet, I'm in!  Of course I never actually stayed awake until her shift was over but that's not the point.  She worked a lot of those shifts when I was a kid and we still had a normal family with a normal routine.  Sure, I knew all about night shift.

Or, so I thought.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

ActiFry Wings

So, the awesome kitchen appliance known as the T-Fal ActiFry has been on the market for a while, but it's brand new to me, as I just got one for Christmas 2013 from my fabulous husband.  Until today I've only used it once to make french fries, and that was pretty fantastic.

Recently though, I was introduced to buffalo chicken wings, and then learned you can also make these in the ActiFry. I know that sounds weird but the fact is, I'm a pretty creepy food-snob and never eat anything that seems like a waste of time.  "Wings" always seemed like a waste of time.  Oh... how wrong I was.  I tasted them and immediate fell in love.  Chicken Love, Sauce Love, Crispy Love.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Because... well, bacon. *shrugs*

So then, because I'm part-skeptic and part-sucker, I'm one of those people you hear about on the internet who reads/sees something and goes "hey, that probably isn't real, but lets try it anyway just in case!"  Yep, that's me.

I suspect it's got a lot to do with the Redneck DNA I possess.

You've likely heard the joke, right?  "You might be a Redneck if your last words were "hey y'all, watch this!".  Uh huh, that's me, sad to say. Although, I do have fun :-)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How To Easily Create Your Own Dog Aroma

I couldn't decide what to title this post.  I've been blogging for so long that I think I've sort of run out of catchy titles.  First I thought "6 Easy Steps to Smelling Like a Wet Dog" and then realized since I hadn't actually written it yet, it might be more than 6 steps.  Then I thought "How to Create Your Own Perfume" and thought no, that's just sort of mean.  So, the official title of this post is:

How To Easily Create Your Own Dog Aroma

Follow these 3 steps:

1. After washing & drying a load of bath towels, toss them on the couch in the rec room and promptly forget to fold them.  For several days.  (It's critical that this couch or surface be in an area of your home that you don't see often unless you make a special point to go into that room)

2. Have your kids shove the load of towels to the end of the couch where the dog likes to lay so that he/she lays on them every time she gets up on the couch.

3. Take a bath/shower and be sure you've collected towels for this event from the dog-end of the couch.

Voila!  As you begin to dry off, you'll immediately notice the unmistakable aroma of Wet Dog.  If that's not your thing, I strongly suggest a lovely body spray and/or fresh towels (that have not been snuggled by the dog) and a good rinse.

The moral of this story?  Unless you really really like smelling like a wet dog, be sure to fold your towels as soon as you remove them from the dryer.