Wednesday, December 17, 2014

One of Those Days


Have you ever had a day that was so bad that you either have to laugh about it, or just go back to bed and pull the covers over your head?  That is what today has been like for me. 

My day started off with horrendous traffic.  There were two different wrecks that resulted in lanes being completely shut down.  It took me an hour and a half to get to work!  I had a 7:00am meeting, but luckily I was able to call in from my car. Thank goodness for Bluetooth!

The unholy traffic also caused me to have to slam my brakes a couple of times.  Unfortunately, today is our holiday potluck and the cupcakes that I stayed up late baking and decorating went slamming into the floorboards. They were in a cupcake keeper, so most of them were salvageable, but a few of them were just completely destroyed.

I finally made it into the office and decided that since it has been such a horrible morning I deserved a little treat. Since Coca-Cola is my biggest vice, I decided that a little caffeine and sugar was just what I needed. Guess what happened?  You guessed it – I opened it and it spewed all over me and my desk!

The really sad part about all of this?  It is only 8:30am. This cursed day has a whole lot of time to spring more nasty surprises on me.  It is too late to go back to bed, so I think I’ll just have a laugh about the ridiculousness of this day and eat those destroyed cupcakes.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Life Lately

I'm sure everyone feels this way (given the season), but holy-cannoli life has been insane lately!  I have neglected this poor little blog terribly.  Luckily, I just found out that my work will be closed between Christmas and New Year, so I can hopefully do some catching up soon.

Since I last posted I have had a birthday!  Some friends were in town, so we went for steaks at Pappas   Bros.  It was so much fun and the food was soooooo good.  If you are ever in the DFW area and craving the best steak money can buy, check them out.  They ain't cheap, but very worth the $$$.

My house has resembled a hospital ward since the week of Thansgiving. First hubby came down with bronchitis and pneumonia. We were just getting him back on his feet when I caught the flu, then developed bronchitis.  You don't even want to think about the amount of hot tea that has been consumed in my home the last few weeks.

We were able to decorate our mantle and hang a wreath before the plague hit. Thank goodness for that or there would be no Christmas cheer in my house at all  I think we will skip the tree this year. Neither one of us has the oomph  to deal with it.

So, that had been my life lately. Have you been up to anything interesting?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Inventing Recipes - Pork Chops in Hard Cider

I enjoy cooking, but I rarely have time to do it during the week thanks to a long commute.  Whenever I get a chance on the week-ends, I really enjoy either tweaking existing recipes or inventing new ones.  Tonight I invented a new one and I’m really pleased with it. 

My new invention is for bone-in pork chops braised on the stove top with hard cider.  This recipe would work fine for 4 chops, but since it is just the two of us I only cooked two.  Actually, I wouldn't even call this a recipe since I rarely measure anything when I cook.  Think of it as more of a guideline.

I started by putting a glurg of olive oil in a skillet and tossing in some sliced yellow onions. I cooked them until they started to get soft, then added the chops that I had sprinkled with one of those “everything but the kitchen sink” spice mixes.  Once the chops had browned on one side I flipped them over and browned the other.  Then I took the chops and the onions out of the skillet. I used one bottle of hard cider (a single serve size bottle, not one of the huge ones) to deglaze the pan.

After the pan was deglazed I added in about a cup of organic chicken broth, then put the chops and the onions back in.  After that I chopped a granny smith apple into large chunks and added them to the skillet.   After the liquid started to boil, I dropped it down to a simmer, covered the pan and let it simmer away for a while.  Mine took about 20 minutes, but that will depend on how thick your chops are.  Be sure that your internal temperature gets to the acceptable level for food safety.

Pork chops simmering away

Once my chops were done I pulled out the chops, tented them with foil and let them rest. While they were resting I brought the rest of the stuff in the skillet back up to a good rolling boil.  While it was boiling (and thickening a bit) I mushed up the chunks of apple to get all of their goodness out.  After it got to the consistency I wanted I strained it through a fat separator.  Be sure to squish the apples and onions in the strainer to get all of the juices out.

The next step is the best part. Put the chops on your plate, top with sauce, and eat it up.
I was really pleased with this recipe.  The next time I make it I will probably add a little bit of butter to the sauce just before it is finished.  That will make the sauce a bit thicker and will add a bit more dimension to it. Otherwise, I think that the apple and pork flavors were well balanced.  It didn't have much onion flavor, which is how I like it. If you are an onion fan you can always add more onion, or serve the onion with the chops.  I tossed out my onions once the sauce was done since I just wanted the flavor of them.

The finished product with risotto. This was before I poured sauce all over it. 
Normal people would probably want to add a veggie.


My husband thinks I’m a genius and my dogs are following me around the house kissing me.  So, I think the whole family rates this new recipe as a winner!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My First Corporate Retreat

Last week I was able to attend my first ever corporate retreat. It was amazing! At first I was a little bit shocked to be included since I am a contractor and retreats tend to be more for the inner circle of employees. I am thrilled that I got to go and I feel so much more a part of the team now.

I work for a global organization, so many members of my department are based overseas. Listening to all of the different accents made me feel a bit like I had made a wrong turn and wound up at the U.N.! We had attendees from South Africa, China, France, Singapore, Mexico, U.K., Dubai, India, Brazil, and Poland. That list only includes where they are currently based. If we added country of origin it would be much larger!

Part of the team getting read to play mini-golf


Our retreat was held over 3 days at the Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa in Austin, TX. Those of us that are based in the Dallas office took a luxury chartered bus down. We had WiFi, food, alcohol, lots of first-class amenities and even an attendant to see to all of our needs. It was more cushy than any first-class flight I have ever taken.

The view from my room

Our three days of meetings were split up with ice breakers, group activities, and lots of small group meetings. Our dinners were always in a private setting, so there was a lot of "getting to know you" time.

Fire pit for telling stories around during our first dinner


By the time we got on the bus to go home I was utterly exhausted, but also rejuvenated and ready to leap back into all of my projects.

It was an incredible three days and I came out of it with new friends from all over the world, a much deeper understanding of my department & how we fit together, and a greater sense of excitement for how my projects will affect the organization going forward.

To sum it all up in one word - INCREDIBLE!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I'm Back!

Sorry for disappearing for over a month!  My work life has been crazy, but in a good way.

Back in July I mentioned that I had left my job and was taking a class. I had just started getting calls from recruiters and was setting up some initial interviews. Well, that all progressed quickly and I found myself in final interviews for two different jobs. They were both great companies and I know that I was truly blessed to have such amazing opportunities.

I was ecstatically happy when my favored one offered. It is a contract position, but it is scheduled for 18 months. It is a terrific organization and I am loving it! I have been here 4 weeks now and I am thrilled with the work I am doing.

It has been a little rough getting used to everything. I'm really getting to stretch myself and do new things, but my brain is pretty much fried by the time I get home. So, I decided to take a few weeks off from the blog until I got adjusted.

I am finally settled in and looking forward to getting back to blogging. I have some fun adventures coming up and I can't wait to share them!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Best Friends

When we adopted our kitty, Harley, I was really worried about how the dogs would handle it.  I knew that our older dog, Fancy, would be fine. She is a very gentle, easy going dog.  However, I was really worried about Piglet.  She is a very feisty Jack Russell terrier and is quite jealous. I was really concerned that we would have some serious sibling rivalry happening in my house.

Luckily, that is not how it played out at all. Harley and Piglet almost immediately fell in love with each other. Piglet never once even growled at her!  They enjoy playing together and have become the very best of friends. They are convinced that they are litter-mates!

Hey Harley, want to play?

After play time, nap time is fast approaching.

Now they have a lap, so both babies settle in for a snooze.

Life is so much sweeter with fur babies!






Sunday, August 3, 2014

An Anniversary Fairy Tale

Yesterday was our 19th wedding anniversary. In honor of the occasion, I am re-posting the story of our wedding that I wrote last year.

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of San Antonio, there lived a curly-headed princess.  (Well, she was actually a soldier, but the story is much more romantic if she is a princess.)  She fell in love with a kind, handsome prince. (You guessed it, he was a soldier too.)  They fell in love and wanted to share their lives together, but were in no hurry to make things legal. 

Then one day a ferocious dragon attacked.  (She got orders to go to Fort Drum.)  The prince and princess knew that only the power of true love could save them, so they decided it was time to get married.  

On the day the marriage was to take place they ventured out in the midst of a powerful thunderstorm in search of a justice of the peace.  They finally found the JP in a converted jail house. So, in the midst of a raging storm, while standing in a former jail, the prince and princess exchanged their vows. (The wise JP included a wonderful clause in the prince’s vows.  He had to promise to bring the princess presents even when it wasn't a holiday.)  Once the vows were said the dragon was slain and they went off to Fort Drum together. 

They went on to have many wonderful adventures and have enjoyed living their unconventional fairy tale ever since.  Their happily-ever-after is still continuing.

Wedding Day


In the nineteen years since that stormy day we have had many ups and downs and many great adventures. We are quite a bit older, but he is still my Prince Charming.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Good Excuse to go Shopping

I ran into an interesting challenge yesterday.  As you know, I recently quit my job to focus on upgrading my skills. I finished my class, but wasn't planning on looking for something new until after I passed my certification. Out of the blue I got a call from a recruiter that was interested in talking with me.  She asked if I could come by their office for a meeting.  That was really unexpected, but very exciting!

Now, if you have been reading this blog for a while you know that for the last two and a half years I have either worked for a company that had no dress code (and was very, very casual) or worked from home.  So, I walk into my closet to figure out what to wear to my meeting and very nearly have a panic attack. Where are my dress pants? Don’t I have any shoes that aren't sandals? Do my jackets still fit?  Thank goodness that I have a bit of an obsession with jewelry and purses.  Those are the only things that I didn't have to worry about! 


It took a while, but I finally found my dressier clothes and managed to put together a really cute outfit. This was definitely a wake-up call that I need to get my closet reorganized fast!  Also, a very nice excuse to go shopping!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Making the Leap


First of all, let me apologize for disappearing for so long. As if my life wasn’t already crazy enough with the move and settling into our new home, I decided to up the ante. I resigned from my job!
My position had morphed quite a bit since I started at the company. I have nothing against taking on new responsibilities and learning new things, but the part of my job that I like the most I was doing less and less.  I administer CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems. I’ve been doing it for years, and I’ve worked with both SalesForce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
When I decided that the time had come to get back to doing CRM exclusively, I also decided to fully embrace Microsoft Dynamics. Not only am I going to take the certifications exam for administration, I am also going to study development.  I start a workshop on extending CRM on Monday.
My last day at work is Friday, and I start my workshop on Monday. That gives me one week-end to pivot from one mindset to another. I am beyond excited!
This probably means that the techy, geeky side of me will be coming out to blog more often. I promise I’ll try not to bore anyone!  I’ll do my best to bring out the silliness in software!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Life Amongst The Chaos

Aargh!  My life is nothing but chaos these days. Between trying to get unpacked, adjusting to being back in the office, the longest commute I've had in a dozen years, and a very large project at work my head is just spinning.

It is ridiculous how far behind I am with unpacking and putting things away. The movers did a lousy job with labeling boxes, so looking for anything specific is just hit or miss. We are still using disposable silverware because I can’t find the box with our real stuff.  Every box seems to have a crazy mishmash of stuff in it, and they apparently labeled every one of them “purses”. I swear I don’t have enough purses to fill up that many moving boxes.

Work has also been crazy. We have a very large software roll-out coming up on July 4 week-end.  I’m really lucky that I’m not directly involved, but I do pick up some of the slack and do some testing. I've also been working on making the changes that our e-mailing marketing program has to make because of Canada’s new anti-spam laws. We started on that a little late, so I’m up to my eyeballs in Canadian emails.

I’m not even going to talk about the commute. I whined about that in my last post, so I won’t bore you with it again.  I’m doing better with the commute, but the getting up early thing is still really challenging.

Right now I’m just really hoping I can make it through the next 4 days. If I can make it to the week-end we will have the roll-out and whenever I’m not working on that I can hopefully work on unpacking and organizing. Doesn't look like there are any cook-outs or fireworks in my future, but I’ll gladly trade them just to get through the crazy chaos of the last few weeks.

Thanks for listening to me whine!



Friday, June 20, 2014

Not An Early Bird

Holy cow, this has been one exhausting week! This has been my first week back in the office after working from home for 8 months. It has been great seeing all of my co-workers. I also didn’t realize how much I missed having human interaction during the day. However, trying to get used to going into the office everyday again has been hard.

The best part of working from home was that there was no commute. I now have a commute that takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the traffic. I knew that it would be a rough commute when we bought the house, but we really wanted something that was out in the boonies away from the city craziness. Luckily, after my three long road trips I have gotten really good at amusing myself on long drives.

Another thing that is tough getting used to again is the amount of time it takes to get ready in the morning. While I was working from home I got really used to just throwing on yoga pants and a t-shirt, pulling the curls into a ponytail, and sliding on my house slippers. Luckily I work in a really casual office, so I don’t have to get dressed to the 9’s every day. Still, a work casual look takes more time that a home casual look.

The hardest part is that I was in the eastern time zone when I worked from home, but my company is based in the central time zone. I matched my hours to theirs, so I didn’t even log in until 8:30. I could wake up at 8:00, shower, dress, have a leisurely breakfast and still be to work early. Now I am having to wake up at 5:30 and hit the ground running to get to the office in time. I am a night owl by nature, but I’m working on turning myself into an early bird.

If anybody has any words of wisdom on converting from a night owl to an early bird, please leave them in the comments below. I could use all the help I can get!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Smitten With A Kitten

We have a new family member!  On Friday we adopted a beautiful year old black cat from the ASPCA.  A cat. A black cat. On Friday the 13th. I guess if anybody ever asks if I am superstitious I can safely say no!  I wasn't trying to be ironic by adopting a black cat on Friday the 13th. I didn't even realize it until we were doing the paperwork and then I got a really bad case of the giggles.

Her name was originally Looney. It doesn't fit her at all and she doesn't respond to it, so we are changing it. We think her new name will be Harley, but we are waiting to see whether she seems to like it. I am a big believer than a pet will usually pick their own name if you just pay attention.

She has settled right in and my two pups just adore her. She seems to love them right back and will give them kisses. She loves to give kisses. 

I’m sure you will be hearing lots about her here on the blog as I am completely smitten with this kitten.

Non-blurry pics coming soon, I promise


Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Journey of a Thousand Miles

Everyone knows the old saying “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Given that I have done three solo road trips of 1,000+ miles in the last month I think I have a few more things to say about the journey of a thousand miles.

A journey of a thousand miles…..

...Is literally (and I do mean literally) a pain in the butt
...Is a whole lot easier with Google Maps
...Is a good excuse to drink way too much caffeine
...Is a whole lot less dull with some good audio books
...Is a good excuse to wear your comfiest clothes and go without makeup
...Is a whole lot easier when your family and your new home are waiting at the end

My Journey

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Good Dog


I have to brag on my sweet little pup, Piglet. She had a vet appointment today for her yearly vaccinations. I promised her that if she was a good girl we would go to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. This dog loves chicken, so it is always my go-to bribe.  She was very good, so we hit the drive-thru on the way home.


Now, you would fully expect that a chicken-loving dog would have been snout first into that bag on the way home. My sweet little girl just curled up in the seat next to the bag all the way home. In fact, she was better behaved than I was  (I couldn't resist sneaking a waffle fry). In case you were wondering, she got to have a whole order of nuggets all to herself.  

Pic taken in parking lot.  Safety first!


Such a good dog!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

An Accidental Drive in the Country

Recently I stumbled across a great blog called “Found Love, Now What?” written by Belinda, an expat living in Wales. I've always been fascinated by Wales, so I've had a blast reading about her adventures. Recently she started a Life is Good link-up.  I've never participated in a link-up before, but this one seemed like it was right up my alley.  I've been trying really hard to stay focused on the positive, so I decided to dive right in.

The point of the link-up is to share the small, everyday moments that have brought us joy in the last month. I spent a lot of time trying to think about what moments to share, but nothing about my May was small, nor everyday. We purchased a house in Texas, hubby moved down to start his new job, and I have been in Ohio prepping for our move. Lots of highs, lots of lows, but not a whole lot of ordinary.

Yesterday I had driven to hubby's hometown to visit with his grandma. On my way home I decided to stop by the cemetery to visit his parent's graves. That left me trying to navigate home from an area that I am not at all familiar with, so I pulled up the map application on my phone.  I had lots of errands to run, so I wanted to get home quickly and not take a chance on getting lost. Apparently, the app had a different idea in mind. My phone, in its infinite wisdom, decided that the shortest way was through a series of twisting and winding country roads. My first reaction was to get angry. I had lots to accomplish!  No time for this foolishness!


Then, I decided that I should just calm down and go with the flow. Maybe this was the universe's way of telling me to take a little break. I backed off on the speed, and started to look around me. I took in the trees, the rolling hills, the fields, the beautiful old red barns.  I rolled down the windows to let the breeze blow through my hair. I turned off the radio to enjoy the quietness of the country. A feeling of calm washed over me, and I decided that I had found my moment. My drive through the countryside was my joyful, everyday moment.  In the midst of all the craziness of moving I had found an oasis of calm. For just a little while I could completely unplug from the stress, the lists, the plans, the work. I could just exist in the moment and enjoy the beauty around me.

All too soon the moment was over and I found myself back on the interstate and rushing back to the real world of packing and moving. But I will always consider myself blessed by my accidental drive in the country.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Women Who Inspire – Maya Angelou

Yesterday the world lost one of its most beautiful literary voices – Maya Angelou. Her writings had a way of bringing people together, of bringing understanding to all who read her words. My life was very different from hers, but through her writings I felt like I could understand what it felt like to have lived in her world.

My paltry words could never do her justice, so instead I will share some of her words.

“All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us that we are all more alike than we are unalike.”

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.


Photo via MayaAngelou.com

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Going Home

So, my picture of a key was a not so subtle hint that we have purchased a house!  A new home and all that moving entails is always exciting, but our house has an extra bit of excitement attached.  It isn't in Ohio. It is in Texas!  We are going home!!!

If you have been a reader for a while you know that last fall we moved from Texas to Ohio to be with hubby's father as he fought pancreatic cancer. Even though we only got to have a few months with him, I know in my heart that we made the right decision. I would not trade those months for anything.  After he passed, we started thinking about what the future would hold for us. Although we loved having our Ohio family (especially our precious nephews) close, we both felt that Ohio wasn't the place for us. The cold, wet winter was very hard (we both have arthritis thanks to old Army injuries), and most of our friends and our professional network was back in Texas. So, after a very short discussion we decided to move back.

I now find myself moving halfway across the country for the second time in less than a year. Luckily our amazing real estate agent was able to find us a great house. That is pretty darn amazing when you consider that we flew down for one week-end to look at properties!  I am also blessed with my job situation. The company that I worked for before the move to Ohio kept me on an a contractor when we moved north, and as soon as I told them I was moving back they cleared out a cubicle for me and are welcoming me back with open arms. 

Hubby is already in Texas getting things set up there. I am closing up our Ohio life and will be driving down in less than 10 days.  I am exhausted and overwhelmed, yet still so excited that I can't hardly stand it.


Texas, here  I come! 


Monday, May 26, 2014

Thoughts on Memorial Day

Ah, Memorial Day. The traditional start of summer. A day associated with BBQ, picnics, and sales. There is nothing wrong with enjoying those things, but as you do please remember the reason behind the day. Please take a moment to remember those men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. Regardless of our political beliefs, the one thing that we can all agree on is the respect due to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and the families that they left behind. 

Although it isn't part of the traditional observance of Memorial Day, I also choose to use this day to remember those who service to their country left them with wounds (physical, mental, and emotional) that will impact them for the rest of their lives. To all of those who never made it home, and to those whose lives will never be the same, I send a humble and deeply felt “Thank you”.

Never Forget

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sneak Peek

Sorry for the lack of posts this week, but I promise there is a good reason for it. I'll tell y'all all about it soon, but for now here is a sneak peek of what I've been up to this week.


Friday, May 9, 2014

The 8 Percent Project

In my last post I told you about the comic book “8 Percent” that is a project to raise funds to fight pancreatic cancer.  Today I’d like to share with you the press release that introduces this unique anthology.

Cover of "8 Percent"

Vanbreed Studios has teamed up with some of the top talent in the comic book industry to create a new comic book titled “8 Percent”.  100% of the cover price, plus all digital sale proceeds from 8 Percent will go directly to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

8 Percent is set in a world where 92% of the world’s population gets terminal cancer and only 8% survive. The book deals with triumphs and tragedy, love, loss and regret.

The book is made up of four stories with very impressive creative teams.  In “The Creature Within”, comic book legend, Tom DeFalco (Marvel Comics’ Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four) tells the tale of a man that has a monster growing inside him. The story is exquisitely painted by Richard P. Clark (Marvel Comics’ The Incredible Hulk).

Vito Delsante (DC Comics’ Superman, Adventures of Batman) gives us a time travelling tale of hope and loss in “The Ballad of Blue Jay”. The art for The Ballad of Blue Jay was done by digital artist David Benarski (Prisoner of None).

Allen Cordrey teams up with Cory Hamscher (Image Comics’ Supreme, Marvel Comics’ X-Men Forever) for “Friends and Enemies Pt. 1” which tells the story of how the 8 Percent event begins with one of the world’s most powerful heroes.

Finally, Ron Marz (DC Comics’ Green Lantern, Image Comics’ Witchblade) breaks from the 8 Percent universe with “Dreams of Flying”.” Dreams of Flying” is the amazing life story of Ron Marz’s father who was a gunner in World War II. Ron’s father passed away from pancreatic cancer so this project is very important to Marz. Joining Marz on this story are Rick Leonardi (Marvel Comics’ X-Men), Andy Lanning (Marvel Comics’ Guardians of the Galaxy) , Troy Peteri  (Image Comics’ Witchblade) and Ross Hughes (Image Comics’ Youngblood).

The book also features art by Darryl Banks (DC Comics’ Green Lantern) and Alan Kupperberg (Marvel Comics’ The Defenders).

The foreword for the book was written by another comic book legend, J. M. DeMatteis (DC Comics’ Justice League, Wonder Woman). Mr. DeMatteis lost his mother to cancer.

The book can be purchased at http://www.Vanbreed.com and will also be available at the Dallas Comic Con in Dallas Texas and at Indy Pop Con, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

About Vanbreed Studios
Vanbreed Studios works with a blend of hot new artists and long established professionals to create interesting and involving characters. Vanbreed Studios latest title is 8 Percent, a charity book benefitting the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. More information about the book can be found at http://www.Vanbreed.com.

About the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is the national organization creating hope in a comprehensive way through research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy for a cure. The organization is leading the way to increase survival for people diagnosed with this devastating disease through a bold initiative —The Vision of Progress: Double Pancreatic Cancer Survival by 2020. Together, we can know, fight and end pancreatic cancer by intensifying our efforts to heighten awareness, raise funds for comprehensive private research, and advocate for dedicated federal research to advance early diagnostics and better treatments and increase chances of survival.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Comic for a Cause

Today I’m taking a break from my regular posts that are about nothing of importance to write about something incredibly important… cancer.  Don’t worry, it is a serious subject and although the story starts off sad it winds up being very uplifting.

As regular readers may know, my father-in-law died in January of pancreatic cancer. My husband decided that he wanted to do something to honor his father, increase awareness, and raise funds for pancreatic cancer.  He decided that his first love, comic books, could be a unique way to get his message out.  From that idea, the 8 Percent project was born.

He reached out to comic writers and artists to see if they would be interested in helping. The response was tremendous!  It was shocking (and very sad, too) how many responded with their own stories of losing loved ones to cancer.  The level of support that he has received has been tremendous.  Even if you aren't a comic book fan you will recognize the projects that these amazing writers and artists have worked on.

Issue #1 of 8 Percent features four stories written by Tom DeFalco (Spider-Man, Fantastic Four), Ron Marz (Green Lantern, Witchblade), Vito Delsante (Superman, Batman Adventures) and Allen Cordrey. The first issue also showcases the artistic talents of Rick Leonardi (Uncanny X-Men), Andy Lanning (Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy), Darryl Banks (Green Lantern), Cory Hamscher (X-Men Forever, Avengers Academy), Matthew Waite (Deadpool, Quantum & Woody), Richard Clark (Incredible Hulk), Chris Ehnot (Fallen), Ross Hughes (Hawk and Dove) and many more. This issue also has a special foreword by comic book legend, J.M. DeMatteis (Justice League and way too many to list here).

Issue #1 will be available at the Dallas Comic Con beginning on May 16. It can also be pre-ordered at the Vanbreed Studios website. All proceeds will be donated to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

So, are you curious as to how the name "8 Percent" came about?  It comes from the story that Allen Cordrey wrote for the first issue. It was the first story idea for the book and I personally think it is brilliant (not that I'm biased, since Allen is my oft-mentioned hubby).  I'll tell you more about this story in the coming weeks.

I'll also be posting sneak peaks at some of the amazing artwork from the book. First up is the artwork for one of the variant covers. This beautiful lady is inspired by WWII bomber nose art and is by Chris Ehnot and David Delanty. 


I can't wait to share more about this great book with you!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Party Animals at the Zoo

We had an amazing time this week-end!  Hubby, sister-in-law, nephews, and I went to the Columbus Zoo.  I love zoos, and the Columbus Zoo is truly outstanding.

Since we had two little guys with us we didn't try to do the whole zoo.  We just headed straight for the polar bears (the nephews favorite) and stopped for whatever struck our fancy on the way there. We all have zoo memberships, so we can go as often as we want and don’t feel pressure to see all the animals every time we go.

Our first stop was the petting zoo.  There were goats everywhere!  Both of the little guys enjoyed it, but the older one just had a blast. One of the goats had a very curly coat that was a bit like nephew’s poodle pup, so he really had a great time petting it. For a while it was looking like we might spend the whole day with the goats.
Goats at the petting zoo


Next up was the train.  The boys both enjoyed it and the grownups appreciated a chance to sit for a bit. I don’t know what it is with little boys and trains, but I've never met a boy who didn't love trains.

Next stop was the polar bears! The Columbus Zoo has a wonderful polar bear exhibit. You can view the bears from ground level, but you can also go down to the underwater viewing area. Part of the underwater area juts into the habitat, so the bears are actually above your head. It was so fun to look up at the bears while they played over our heads.  It was kind of like polar bear synchronized swimming.  It was a beautiful day and the bears were obviously enjoying themselves.

Up close and personal with a polar bear 


I always love going to the zoo, but it was even more fun getting to see it through the eyes of a child. We were able to make so many special memories and I will always treasure the day. 

If you are in the central Ohio area, I cannot recommend the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium highly enough. You can learn more at their website. 


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day

We humans are a diverse bunch. We come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. We all have our own unique beliefs, preferences, and values. There are so many things that we sometimes allow to separate us.  However, the one thing that we all share is that we live on this precious earth.  I think it is wonderful that we have a day that reminds us to celebrate and protect the earth. So, on this Earth Day, please remember to do your part. Recycle something, pick up some litter, or plant a tree. Every little thing helps. Remember, she is Mother Earth and if Momma ain't happy, nobody is happy!


Sunrise on the beach in Florida - taken during vacation a few years ago


Reduce - Reuse - Recycle - Replenish - Restore


Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Texas Tummy

Hubby and I took a quick trip to Dallas this week-end.  We had such a good time!  We were on a secret mission (which I will tell you all about soon), and we got to spend time with some good friends.  But the thing I really want to talk about is how happy my taste buds were this week-end!

Texas born and raised

We started off Saturday morning with breakfast tacos from Taco Cabana.  I know that the breakfast taco has been a little more mainstream, but most of what is out there is pretty generic.  The ones at Taco Cabana are made with fresh tortillas (yummy!) and they have a selection that you don’t find most places.
Later than day (and again the next day) we went to Bahama Buck’s.  That is my happy place.  My own personal vision of heaven has a Bahama Buck’s on every cloud.  If you haven’t ever heard of them, they make the most incredibly delicious shaved ice.  You can also get smoothies, coffee, etc., but the watermelon shaved ice is always my go-to treat.

When dinner rolled around hubby surprised me with Schlotzsky’s.  I have loved Schlotzsky’s ever since I had my very first bite way back in my college days.  Believe me when I say that it has been a LOT of years!  This is not my hubby’s favorite, so I owe him a huge thank you!

For lunch on Sunday it was the good old Texas stand-by of Whataburger.  Whataburger is a Texas institution.  In my opinion they have the best fast food burger around.  It has been six long months and my tummy was so happy to finally have a burger from Whataburger again.

In case you recall my bluebonnets post from a couple of weeks ago, I did finally get to see some. It was raining so I didn’t get pictures, but it finally feels like spring since I got to see them.  Of course, we are back in Ohio now and the forecast for tomorrow says there is a chance of snow.  Oh well, at least I will have happy memories of all the wonderful food and great times with friends to keep me warm.


Note:  I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this post, nor did I receive compensation from them.  These are just some of my favorite food places in Texas and I wanted to share them with you.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It Is A Good Week To Be A Geek

I haven’t always been a geek, but I married a geek. When that happens you either resolve yourself to lots of time alone, or you embrace it and go with the flow.  I am now happily going to Comic Cons, watching sci-fi shows, and even reading the occasional comic book. 

Image via

This has been the best week to embrace my new found passions.  We went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier Sunday night.  It was so good!  Hubby has been a huge Captain America fan since he was old enough to read the comics, and even he approved.  I highly recommend it, whether you usually like superhero movies or not.

Since we were at the movies Sunday night we DVR’d Game of Thrones and watched it on Monday night. I really like where they are taking some of the characters.  I know that GoT sometimes gets a bad rap because of the way that women are depicted, but it is not true across the board.  It also has some incredibly fierce female characters (hello, Brienne).  I really enjoy female characters that are tough and don’t need anybody to take care of them. Daenerys Targaryen is not only a queen, she is the best ruler on the show (not to mention being the Mother of Dragons).  Little Arya Stark has been growing into a force to be reckoned with for awhile, and this episode was really a turning point for her.

This brings us up to Tuesday and a new episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.   From everything that has been teased about this episode it should be incredible. They will be dealing with the events that happened in the Captain America movie and I am really intrigued with how they are trying the whole Marvel universe together.


So, that is how my geek week is shaping up so far.  Anybody have any fun plans for the week?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Homesick for Bluebonnets

It snowed again on Saturday. Is this winter never going to end?  I’m a Texas girl, and this time of year I should be going for long drives in the country to enjoy the wildflowers.  Ohio is very nice in fall, but this winter is killing me.  Mother Nature, do you hear me?  I. Am. Over. It. 

To cheer myself up, or maybe just to torture myself, I've been dreaming of bluebonnets.  This is what spring is supposed to look like.

Gorgeous photo of bluebonnets is from TravelTex.com


You hear me Ohio?  I need spring, and I need it now. Please.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Beaten Up by a Pup

So, I got beat up. By my dog. No, not the big one. The little 15 pound terrier. 

She didn't mean to do it, she was just in a hurry to get outside. I had her leash in my hand and as soon as I opened the patio door she took off running as fast as she could. The result was my hand being smashed into the door frame. It immediately started swelling and bruising. Luckily, I was in the kitchen when it happened, so I had an ice pack on it in less than a minute. It wasn't until I saw the blood on the ice pack that I realized that the door frame had sliced me open.

Fortunately, hubby was home and he bundled me into the car and off we went to the emergency room.  I got some really funny looks from the staff when I tried to explain that my dog broke me. By the time we left I had x-rays, a tetanus shot, my wounds cleaned, two different kinds of antibiotics and a prescription for Vicodin.

Does this look like a pup that would beat up her Mommy?


My pup has been so sweet ever since. She sits in my lap constantly and keeps giving me these “I’m so sorry” looks.  The really ironic thing about the whole situation? She had obedience class the day that it happened. I had to call her trainer from the emergency room and explain why we would be missing class that day. To her credit, the trainer did her best not to laugh.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Chaos and the Home Office

One of the best things about working in an office is that when your personal life seems chaotic you can escape to work, and when work is chaotic you can escape to home. Unfortunately, when you work from home there is no escape.  Cue the scary, horror movie music.

One of my better plans when I started working from home was to try and keep things separate.  I keep everything work related on my work computer and everything home/personal on my home computer.  Heck, I even have two separate desks.  Unfortunately, since my office space is limited the desks sit next to each other.  Today is one of those overwhelming days where both desks are stacked high with stuff that needs doing.  I’m trying to focus on work, but out of the corner of my eye I see the stack of bills that need paying. If I take a break to work on home stuff, I can’t help but see the emails rolling in on the work computer.  Now, I know that conventional wisdom would say to turn off the email notification, but since I support a crucial software system I have to at least scan emails when they come in.

Not me. Not my desk. But a very good representation of what it feels like.


When I started working from home I naively thought there would be few distractions.  Boy, was I wrong!  The distractions are different from what you get in an office, but they are still there. My older dog thinks it is her sworn duty to bark at everything that passes by her window. My younger dog doesn’t understand why I won’t take her for walks whenever she wants, so she gets whiny.    Telemarketers call all day long, but I at least got smart and turned off the ringer on the home phone.  We live near a busy road, so there are traffic noises and sirens all day long.  I feel like that old commercial, “Calgon, take me away”!

So, there is my confession. Working from home is not all sunshine and roses. It can be filled with distractions and on a bad day there is no escape from chaos.  Oh well, time to stop distracting myself with the blog and dive back in!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dogs & Kids

Two of the cutest things in the world are little kids and dogs. While my hubby was out walking our dogs today he ran into a very little girl who was out for a walk with her mom.  The rest of the story is hilarious.

We have two dogs, so hubby was walking them one at a time.  First up was our Jack Russell Terrier, Piglet.  Piglet is about 15 pounds.  Hubby and Piglet were walking around the block when they ran across the little girl and her mom walking the opposite direction.  Piglet is very excitable, as Jack Russells tend to be, so she just immediately went into wiggling, squirming, licking, mode. It was probably a little overwhelming for the little girl, but she handled it well.

Piglet

After they finished their walk, hubby drops Piglet off at the house and leashes up our Australian Shepherd, Fancy.  Fancy is about 85 pounds.  The two of them walk off on the same route, and a little while later they came across the same little girl and her mom.  The little girl’s eyes got wide, and with a voice full of wonderment she said “Mister, your dog grew up fast!”.

Fancy

Is that not the sweetest, funniest kid/dog story?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Kids For a Day

My recent stay in Florida wasn't all work and house fix-ups.  The first week-end my hubby was able to join me and we decided to spend a day at Disney since it is only a couple of hours away.  We decided that for a couple of grown-ups with no kids in tow the best place to go would be Disney’s Hollywood Studios®.  We had a blast, so I thought I would share some of our experiences with you.


The number one attraction on both of our lists was Star Tours®.  This was pretty much the perfect ride for us.  Hubby is a big Star Wars fan and I like rides but I am terrified of rides with any type of fall or plunge.  I have a mild fear of heights but a huge fear of falling. (If reincarnation is real I must have died by falling off a cliff in a previous life.)  Between the flight simulator and the 3D video they do a wonderful job of making you feel like you really are flying in a Starspeeder.  However, since you aren't truly hurtling through the air I didn't freak out.  Hubby swears that I giggled through the whole ride.  I will neither confirm nor deny that allegation.  This ride was so much fun. I highly recommend it for anyone regardless of whether they are a Star Wars fan or not.


Apparently we had a bit of a Harrison Ford theme going, because next up we went to the Indiana Jones™ Epic Stunt Spectacular.  That was also lots of fun.  It really gave you a sense of being ‘behind the scenes’ during the filming of the action sequences. It had lots of action and plenty of comedy as well.  If you happen to be at the park during the summer months you will also appreciate that the seating is shaded. It is a great way to take a break, get out of the sun, and be highly entertained at the same time.


For lunch we went to the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant. This restaurant is done up to look like a 1950’s era drive in movie. The booths are even recreations of cars. Clips of cheesy 50’s sci-fi/horror films play on the big screen.  The food is classic American cuisine – hamburgers, hot dogs, milkshakes, etc.  My burger was tasty.  I will admit that it wasn't the best burger I have ever had, but it was definitely quite a few tiers above a fast food burger.   The movie clips were hilarious. It is very kid friendly, but the kitsch will go above most youngsters’ heads.

This is far from everything that we did during our day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but it should give you a fair idea of what to expect from the rides, dining, and attractions. We had a terrific time and it was so much fun for the two of us to just let go and be kids again for the day.

Note:  This is not a sponsored post. I was not compensated by, nor am I affiliated with, Disney. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Seize The Day


I’ve spent the last week cleaning out my father-in-law’s old house.  I have been a little surprised by how emotional it has made me. Initially it wasn’t too bad. I tried to think of it as just “stuff” instead of “Dad’s stuff”, and for a while that was working. At least, until I got to this one particular drawer in his dresser.
There wasn’t anything in the drawer that was particularly sentimental. In fact, most of it was just clothing that had never been worn. It was just sitting there with the tags still on, in packages that had never been opened.  Those unopened packages hit me harder than anything else. More than his favorite shirt, more than photo albums, more than anything else I came across. Those unopened packages were such a stark reminder that none of us knows how long we have on this earth.
How many of us have clothing in our closet that has never been worn? Maybe we are waiting for a special occasion, maybe we are waiting to lose five more pounds, or maybe we just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Maybe it is a perfect pair of shoes that sits in a box because they are so pretty we don’t want to take a chance on messing them up. Maybe it is grandma’s china that sits in storage because we are afraid that we might break a piece if we use it.
Seeing those unopened packages really drove home to me how pointless it is to wait to enjoy the things that we have.  Those shoes may be perfect, but what if your time comes before you ever take them out of the box? Grandma’s china may be very special, but wouldn’t you rather think of her every time you use it (even if you do break a saucer)? What if you don’t ever lose those last five pounds?
Those unopened packages have inspired me to stop waiting. When I get back home I’m going thru my closet to find those ‘special’ outfits and I’m going to wear them. I’m going to eat a hamburger off a china plate.  Because we never know how many days we will have I’m going to start seizing every single one of them.

Me and my father-in-law

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why I Love Working From Home, part 3


This week there is one thing that I am extremely grateful for – the flexibility that I have because of working from home.  Now, I’m not talking about the stereotype of the WFHer that sleeps in late and runs errands on work on time.  I am talking about the flexibility to take my office with me wherever I go.
As some of you may know, we lost my father-in-law last month. He was a snowbird, so he had houses in both Ohio and Florida. My husband inherited the Florida house, so we decided to take a week-end trip down and start getting it cleaned out. Unfortunately, the first thing we found when we walked into the house is that the skylight in the kitchen had sprung a leak. We aren’t talking about a little water spot on the ceiling kind of leak. We are talking about a full-fledged put-a-bucket-under-it kind of leak.  So, we changed my flight and called the roofer.
Since I had my laptop and all of my work gear with me I was able to just set up a home office in the Florida house and not have to take any time off to deal with house issues. I can put in a full day of work, and still be physically present for the repair people.  It has been a lifesaver for me to be able to stay here and deal with everything, and it has been completely seamless to my employer.  If I had a regular job these unexpected two weeks in Florida would have killed my vacation time for the year, thrown me way behind on all of my projects, and caused a huge burden to the co-workers who would have had to cover for me.
Another thing that I’m really grateful for?  The gorgeous view outside my Florida office window.

It is a rough life, but somebody has to live it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Women Who Inspire - Dr. Jen Welter

Sports history was made this week-end, and it had nothing to do with the Olympics.  This week-end marked the first time that a woman has played a contact position in a professional men’s football league.  An awful lot of people think that this was some type of marketing stunt, but I personally know the woman in question and I can guarantee you that this is no stunt.  This trailblazing football player is Dr. Jen Welter and she is going to be the first person I write about in my “Women That Inspire” series. 

When you first meet Dr. Welter you would never suspect that she is a football player.  Sure, she is in amazing shape and has awesome muscles, but she is tiny.   At a height of 5’2” you would never imagine that she could play with the “big boys”, but her knowledge of and passion for the game more than make up for what she may lack in height and weight.  In addition to playing for women’s football teams (and winning many, many honors) she is also a PhD in Psychology, a personal trainer, and a motivational speaker.  You can learn more about her credentials and awards on her website, www.jenwelter.com

Photo via The Dallas Morning News


I have read comments from some folks on the internet that are critical of Dr. Welter and her motives. They think that she is endorsing that women compete directly with men in all areas, but that is not the case at all.  She is passionate about football and she wants people to understand that women are just as passionate about the game as men are.  She wants little girls to understand that it is OK to play sports instead of dolls. She wants women and girls to have an opportunity to play.  In her own words, “If people don’t want me or any other girl to play with the boys, then equivalent options need to be created for girls to play against girls.”

In Dr. Welter’s interviews it quickly becomes obvious that she is not doing this for herself. She is very vocal that this is about giving young girls an example and opening doors for girls to play sports that are not “girl sports”.   She always wants to teach girls the lesson that you earn respect by taking the big hit, getting back up, and going for it again.  I don’t have a daughter, but if I did I would be eternally grateful to Jen for teaching this lesson that goes far beyond the playing field. 

Although Dr. Welter is mainly trying to be a role model for young girls, she is also a wonderful role model for us “big girls”. She shows us by example that you have to push for what you are passionate about. She reminds us that it doesn't matter what other people think we “should” be doing with our lives. The thing that matters is that we pursue our dreams, that we go out onto our chosen playing field & play with passion, that we take our hits & keep on playing.




Friday, February 14, 2014

Romance

I have never really been that into Valentine’s Day.  It has always seemed to be a bit of a made up holiday and if I’m going to get lovey-dovey cards and presents from someone I want it to be because they are feeling it, not because Hallmark told them they had to.  So, hubby has always gotten off easy.

Since I don’t have any grand Valentine’s Day stories to share with you, I wanted to tell you about the most romantic thing my hubby has ever done for me.  It wasn't on Valentine’s Day, it was on an incredibly cold & snow Monday in upstate New York.  Before we begin, let me set the stage…

The hubby and I met while we were both in the army.  Shortly after we were married we were transferred to Fort Drum.  If you aren't familiar with it, Fort Drum is the home of the 10th Mountain Division and is located about 30 miles from the Canadian border.  I am a native Texas, so it is no stretch to say that I was woefully unprepared for months on end of snow and sub-freezing temperatures. It seemed like the sun never shined. It was always gray outside and my mood matched the weather.

One incredibly cold Monday afternoon in January my hubby came home with a dozen yellow roses in his arms.  It wasn't my birthday, it wasn't our anniversary, it wasn't any special occasion whatsoever. He had stopped by the florist because he wanted to bring me some flowers, and he said that when he saw the yellow roses he thought that they would bring me some sunshine and that they would remind me of Texas.


That day was over 15 years ago, but I still get a little misty eyed when I think about it.  He has brought home flowers many times since then (he is a big fan of “just because” flowers), but I still think that bringing me home sunshine in the midst of the worst winter I had ever known was the most incredibly sweet & romantic gesture of all time.


Happy Valentine's Day!  Please feel free to share your romance stories in the comments.  I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Why I Love Working From Home, part 2


Today is the second part of my “What I Love About Working From Home” series, and it is all about food.  Managing to have a healthy breakfast and lunch was darn near impossible when I worked in an office.  I always intended to get up early enough to have a light, sensible breakfast and pack my lunch, but I was much too fond of the snooze alarm to make that happen.  So, I wound up skipping breakfast and grabbing fast food for lunch. Bad, bad, bad.
Now that I am working from home I have so many more options when it comes to my food choices. I’m not limited by what can be reheated in the microwave or whether there is room in the breakroom fridge.   I’ve never been much of a breakfast eater, so most days it is just a hard boiled egg and a piece of fruit or maybe a toaster waffle.  Sometimes I just wait and make myself an omelet and have brunch.  That is definitely something I couldn’t have done in my cubicle!
For lunch I try to have leftovers whenever possible.  On days that I don’t have leftovers I usually just heat up some soup or have a sandwich.  Yeah, I know that is all stuff I could have done in an office, but I was always so bad about forgetting to pack them along. 
Another great thing (especially in the winter) is that I can put on a pot of stew or chili or pop a roast in the oven during the day. My house stays toasty warm and dinner pretty much cooks itself while I’m working.  I get to feel like both super employee and super wife.  Can’t lose situation!
My favorite stew. Nothing but meat and potatoes.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Making Friends


So, yesterday I learned the quickest way to make friends with your neighbors in the wintertime. It is really quite easy.  All you need is a snow shovel on your back patio and a townhouse complex that didn’t plow the parking lot.  Almost immediately you will have neighbors beating a path to your door to borrow said shovel.

The view from my back patio

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Random Thoughts on Super Bowl Ads


Overall, the commercials during this year’s Super Bowl were really not that exciting.  Of course, there are always a few that get people talking and set social media buzzing.
One of the most talked about is the Coke ad that featured “America the Beautiful” sung in multiple languages. While I was first watching it I thought that the song was incredibly beautiful in some of those languages. I was also reminded of the old “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke” commercial and its message of harmony.  I was completely shocked when this commercial turned out to be controversial.  I am flabbergasted by those that assumed that every non-English singing person in the ad represented a first generation immigrant who refused to learn English.  What?  My assumption was that they were bilingual.  You know, it is quite possible for someone’s family to have been in this country for many generations and yet they still know another language.  Heck, I know Spanish and to the best of my knowledge there is not a drop of Hispanic blood in me.  Get over it people!

Another commercial that caused quite a bit of buzz, but in an entirely different way, was the Budweiser puppy commercial.  I always look forward to the Budweiser Super Bowl ad, and this year they really hit a home run (oops, wrong sport).  I am a dog lover, so it made me all kinds of squishy inside. Heck, even non-dog lovers found this one adorable. I detested the Bud Light ads, but Budweiser comes thru as usual.

One of my personal favorites was the GoldieBlox ad where the little girls take all of their pink girly toys, put them on a rocket, and blast them into space.  I love that there is a company that doesn’t assume all little girls are alike in their love of pink and/or fluffy toys. When I was a little girl, I was quite stereotypical in my choice of toys, but there wasn’t a whole lot of choice way back then. Congrats to GoldieBlox and thank you for giving today’s girls greater options in their play.
So, what about you?  Were there any Super Bowl ads that really struck a chord with you?