Monday, April 30, 2012

Zippity Do Dah!

Today is the last day of the A to Z Challenge - to that I say Zippity Do Dah!!

I am glad to say I made it through even though there were days I wanted to quit, I didn't.  

Even though there were days that I got my post in right under the wire, I never gave up

Even though I thought this last day was never going to come up until this last week, in all reality the month really went by like a flash.  Didn't it?

I learned a lot about my own discipline.  Being a blogger that has never been a "daily" blogger, this challenge helped me to see that it can be done...I can do it!  I enjoyed talking about my European travels so much that I easily came up with future blog posts as I was doing the challenge.  Enough future posts are in the works that I am thinking about making Tuesdays Travel Tuesday and making a series out of it.  From the comments I got from regular readers, it looks like this would be something we will all enjoy together.

I also chose to title this post Zippity Doo Dah because I am in the middle of planning a trip for my family to Disney World - we are all very excited and I plan to share all the trials and tribulations (and all the fun - don't forget the fun!) that go along with this momentous family vacation.  We are going the end of June so you can expect to see a bit of the Disney magic working it's way into the Travel Tuesday posts and then some.

You will no longer see daily posts from me (I know you are crying inside, or letting out a sigh of relief..either way, I'm happy).  I will be going back to the regularly scheduled program around here of sporadic family posts and the snark you have come to love.  I do plan to post on Tuesdays (Travel Tuesday), Thursdays (Throat Punch Thursday) and Fridays (Coffee Chronicles) on a regular basis so you know when you can find me.  If there is something you would like to see more or less of around here, (I know I tend to get out of hand with the pictures sometimes..) let me know and I will see what I can do to oblige. I love hearing from you whether it's here, on Twitter or (the dreaded) Facebook - you all have been my support system and I appreciate that more than I could ever tell you in a post.  

THANK YOU!!!
Let me know what you think about the Travel Tuesday series..and join me tomorrow for the first post that I'm linking with @JenAnnHall and @MotherhoodTruth for their "Did You Know" linky about a little something I bet you didn't know about Ireland...






Saturday, April 28, 2012

YUK

As in Mister YUK...
If you grew up in the 70's you are sure to remember bringing home a sheet of stickers to put on all the poisonous substances in your house that looked like this:



This symbol was created by a doctor at the Pittsburgh Children's Hospital to replace the universal skull and cross bones sign of poison as it was said that the skull and bones actually attracted kids because they thought it had to do with pirates rather than anything harmful.  It was later determined that the green sticker of Mr. Yuk didn't really deter children from harmful things either which is why the craze didn't last.  I think parents smartened up as well and started putting those poisonous things in higher cabinets rather than under the sink right in the reach of children.  In the meantime this scary PSA was out there. (thank goodness I can't say I really remember this)






What you may not know is that Mr. Yuk is still available today for your nostalgic safety needs by contacting the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC who gives out free sheets of Mr. Yuk stickers when contacted by mail.  I'm telling you this because I'm seriously considering getting some for myself.  I miss Mr. Yuk.

Are you old enough to remember Mr. Yuk?  Did you put stickers on  the harmful chemicals in your house in second grade?  Do you remember the PSA?




Friday, April 27, 2012

X Marks the Spot

There is a spot in the middle south of Ireland near the city of Killaloe on the Bronze Age grounds of the Craggaunowen Castle where I was able to take in this incredible scene:




I have never had to edit or doctor this picture in any way.  It is the epitome of Ireland for me out of all the pictures taken while we were there.  I know it could be anywhere at a forest preserve near you but for real, here's where we were:


Our Sunday to Saturday cruise itinerary brought us from Athlone south to Killaloe on the Shannon River and was truly a lesson in history and culture that we never expected.  The scenery was something else entirely - green as far as the eye could see.

Have you been to Ireland? Can you even tell that this is Ireland?


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Go on over and visit Coffee Chronicles at the robot mommy's place today!  
Get your caffeine fix!!



Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wordless



Brought to you by the letter W and the A to Z Challenge..





Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vagina Power!!

My Featured Guest today really needs no introduction but if you aren't familiar with her, I will warn you.  You might laugh so hard you cry down your leg a little.  Sarcasm Goddess has been a friend for awhile now and she's really more about the bacon than she is sarcasm.  AND sausage - LOTS of sausage.  Once upon a time we had a band called Vagina Monologues, I'm not sure if I was on keyboards or vocals but it was fun while it lasted.  I felt it appropriate to title the post for that reason (among other vaginous reasons)  She is also responsible for the comeback of the adult onsies and legwarmers - the whole ensemble together - you will see it now that I've mentioned it and now you know who to give credit to for it...




How long have you been blogging?
Long enough to know better. I suppose you want a serious answer? Fine. I started blogging when yet another therapist said, “there is something deeply wrong with you that cannot be fixed.” But honestly, isn’t that how we all started blogging?
Hmm…I still didn’t answer the question. Could I interest you in some cookies?


What piece of advice can you give to unseasoned bloggers?
This blogging thing seems like fun and games. You see your friends do it and think, that looks easy, I can do that. But no one tells you about the long nights on cold streets panhandling for change. The corruption, the lies. The drugs! Oh the drugs. Prostitution, gambling, deranged unicorns. Blogging’s got it all. The first year will definitely be your hardest. If you can get through it, you can handle anything. But seriously though, it will not be easy. Handsome men with dark eyes and suspicious looking mustaches will try to lure you down dark alleys, promising a million followers and overnight fame. DO NOT BELIEVE THEM. And whatever you do, DO NOT accept the red candy everyone’s always handing out. They are NOT peanut M&M’s. Trust me on this.
My advice? Think long and hard about this bloggy business. Once you’re in, you can never get out. Well…you can, but it will cost you.


When is your favorite time of day and why?
Nighttime. Definitely. It’s much easier to stalk people when it’s dark out.


Where were you last Tuesday?
My lawyer advised me to never talk about last Tuesday. But honestly, what does he know? Last Tuesday I was…um…hmmm…it seems I don’t remember where I was. Wherever it was and whatever I was doing, I’m sure it was fabulous. There was probably bacon. And sausage. LOTS of sausage. And I probably wore super cute boots. I bet there was really good music and I killed it on the dance floor and everyone told me I had really pretty hair. Wow. Last Tuesday was so much fun.


Who or what brings you the most inspiration?
Without a doubt, the voices in my head. Some more than others. I won’t say which ones cuz they get really pissed when I play favorites.
When I’m working on my novel, then music, most definitely is what fuels me forward. I recently compiled a soundtrack of my WIP John and Darcy:
Someone to Watch Over Me Ella Fitzgerald
You are the Best Thing Ray LaMontagne
Crazy for this Girl Evan and Jaron
Crazy Girl Eli Young Band
Give Me Everything Ne Yo featuring Pitbull
Baby Got Back Sir Mix A Lot
You totally want to read it, don’t you?


What is your favorite movie?
While You Were Sleeping. Apollo 13. The Hangover! The Evening Star! SUPER TROOPERS! A Time to Kill! I am sooo stressed out right now. Has anyone seen my Ativan? Oh look, a spider.


Why should people read your blog?
Um, isn’t obvious by the answers to these questions?
Hey, did you guys know one time a lizard crawled up my pants and died? And one night, I caught my oven on fire and the next night I super glued my finger to my face? Also, I peed my pants sliding down a snow-covered mountain in Europe. At the bottom of that mountain? Was my entire senior glass. Because of me a tampon bird lives in a tree on an island somewhere, scaring unsuspecting hikers. And I once shot a diaphragm across the exam room at my gyno’s office as I was trying to extricate it from my vagina.
All these stories are found on my blog. I think the better question is, why shouldn’t you read it?


What blog post of yours is your favorite?
It’s truly hard to pic cuz they’re all such gems. Can’t I just say ALL OF THEM?
No? You’re really going to make me do it aren’t you? You’re going to make me choose my favorite child. Fine. But if the rest of my posts end up in therapy, you’re totally paying the bill.
One of my all-time favorite posts has to be The Husband’s “Other Woman” because for the first time ever, it makes me look like the sane one in our relationship. (http://4theluvofwriting.blogspot.com/2011/08/husbands-other-woman.html)


What is the most interesting place you’ve been?
Most recently? Jail.
Just kidding. It was totally the bathroom.
Okay, seriously. It’s impossible to pick just one place. I will never forget the concentration camp I visited in Germany. It made the horror that took place there real, not just something you read about in history books. The Swiss Alps literally took my breath away. The Colosseum…wow. Just, wow.


This or that?
Gloves or mittens? The other day I tried to put mittens on my feet. True story. I was all, “what the heck is wrong with these socks?” “Oh…they’re mittens.”
Air Guitar or Lip Sync? I lip synched my way through two years of high school choir.
Cape or Mask? You guys better know the answer to this!
Head or Tails? You’re asking me if I’d rather possess someone’s head or an animal’s tail? That is rather morbid, don’t you think? Is the tail still attached to the butt, or is it just a tail? You know what? I don’t want to know. I find this whole thing very disturbing.
Pie in the Face or Slip on a Banana Peel? Is the pie made of bacon? If yes, then definitely the pie.




You can find Sarcasm Goddess on the Twitter @SarcasmGoddess
OR
She also has some killer boards on Pinterest that you might enjoy!
Thanks for the funnies SG - I laughed when I first read this and again when I posted it..I know everyone else will too!





Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Understanding


I understand that... 
the honeymoon is over 


I understand that my boobs... 
will never fill out a shirt the way i would like them to no matter what kind of bra they invent! 

I understand that when I'm driving... 
I probably should pay more attention 

I understand that I have lost... 
my mind and I know I WILL NEVER find it - but it's ok
because i like it here i am comfortable with the voices; you are just jealous they are not talking to you! 
he he ha ha ho ho 

I understand that I cannot stand it when... 
People don't follow through with what they say and that makes me realize i loathe that about myself as well, I can just pick it out better in other people 

I understand that if I'm drunk...
it should never be hard liquor
i usually say or do something i wouldn't normally say and do
like beat people i love and break their glasses without any memory of it whatsoever - wtf 

I understand that money... is in high demand but quite severely lacking in the supply department lately 

I understand that certain people...
will never like me and i am okay with it 

I understand that I'll always.... 
have some sort of issue, not a crisis 

I understand that when I woke up this morning... 
I needed more coffee than usual 

I understand that last night before I went to sleep… 
I may have had a little too much coffee 

I understand that my dad.... 
has helped me in more ways than he will ever know 

I understand that my mom... 
was right when she said I would only be able to understand when I had kids. 

I understand that today... is the first day of the rest of my life 

I understand that tonight.. 
i will go to bed earlier (maybe) (not) 

I understand that life...
is what you make of it - you get out what you put into it 

I understand that this weekend... 
isn't coming fast enough 

I understand the best music to listen to when I am upset.. 
is TMBG....ba bada ba ba bada ba 

I understand that this year... 
I am finally taking the family to Disney! 

I understand that my exes… 
have helped me become who i am 

I understand that it's okay... 
only when you do it but frowned upon when I do it 

I understand maybe I should... 
have sex more often 

I understand that my past... 
does not affect me anymore, it's not who I am today 

I understand that parties... 
are few and far between 

I understand that I'm totally terrified.. 
the bottom will drop out and whatever I lose when I lose it will be lost forever

I understand that my life... 
is a helluvalot better than it would be alone or with anyone else no matter what's going on



 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Trier, Germany - A Walking Tour

Trier Germany is seasoned in Roman history including Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte, being the oldest city founded in 16 BC.  Trier was the first city in Germany we saw that had such an impressive market place square.  The entrance to the square is this building known as the Porta Nigra also known as the Black Gate and is the gate to the city built in 200AD.



On our walking tour of the town, we saw the Trier palace and the cathedral.





Even though this town has all the old world charm oozing thousands of years of history it possesses, it still offers an element of surprise with its unexpected modern day conveniences.

Three story McDonald's


Big Foot in Trier

Trier is a wonderfully inviting city that offers so much it will be sure to tickle up some inspiration.  The colorful city guides (some dressed in era costumes) welcome you to the medieval monuments, roman structures, and the noteworthy structures of more recent times.


Have you been to Trier?  What was most surprising or inspiring?



Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sachsenhausen, Germany

Earlier in the A to Z Challenge I showed you the beautiful Frankfurt Square with its old world charm and eye catching architecture. This is on our way out of the square towards the Main Bridge that led us to our next enchanting destination.  


Frankfurt has many vast scenes and landscapes from one side of it to the other as you can see in their skyscraping skyline.  After seeing the old part of Frankfurt, I never would have guessed they had a business district quite this high tech..


From the Main Bridge
Once we passed over the bridge, I remember turning left away from the big city and not having to walk very far to find Sachsenhausen which is a city in itself within Frankfurt.  Sachsenhausen is a cobble stoned earthy district known for its numerous art museums and would be an easy place to find an open hostel.  Oh, and a Hard Rock Cafe..


Our friend took us our to eat at a neat little restaurant and we walked out to this little number..we didn't get close enough to see what they were really doing inside this groovy van but it would have been interesting to find out I'm sure.  I'm always leery of risking getting arrested in a foreign country, you know?


As cool as the Hard Rock and the hippie German van may have been, I think we were introduced to something even better that I will never forget, another reason this part was the highlight of our trip.  This is a 13th Century castle turned restaurant and wine bar that I couldn't believe we were about to hang out in to party for awhile.  There were outdoor private patio areas that either held a few tables or just a single booth, plus a whole indoor area where we chatted for a few hours drinking German beer.



This was one of those places where I felt like my mouth was hanging open for a minute.


Sachsenhausen is quite a lively place with the shops during the daylight hours; turning into an even more lively place once the sun goes down as evidenced by the volume of people.  It was like once the sun went down, people started coming out of the word work to have a good time.  That's what they did too..check out this bachelor party that was walking around.  The guy with the ukulele and the colorful poncho looked to be the groom to be with the stump connected to his ankle like a ball and chain.  He came up and sang something to me in German which was probably supposed to make my blush but I didn't understand a word so it worked out and only one of us was embarrassed.


Our lovely guide


If you have a chance to get to Frankfurt am Main, please make sure you get to the other side of the river to this laid back festive little town.  Trust me it's worth the walk even if you get lost on the way there, the people are friendly enough to be happy to give you directions.

Did you know about Frankfurt's high rise skyline?  Have you been there yourself?

See where else we've been this week in the A to Z Challenge:

I couldn't go a whole month without the topic of coffee - only that post has nothing to do with coffee at all...


Friday, April 20, 2012

Retro

I wanted to go a different direction time and space; we are going to take a trip today, just not to a place in Europe. Step into the time machine back to the days we refer to when we say 'back in the day'.  I'm not talking about when people walked three miles uphill in the snow both ways to school - my grandpa told that story.  Although I do love that kind of retro, I'm talking about mid to late 70s up until I graduated high school about 20 years later...


Some of the first things I remember were the toys back then.













Where else could you buy an ice cream cone for 25 cents?










Source: google.com via Amy on Pinterest



















I loved that guy!


Source: shoes.com via Amy on Pinterest






Source: ebaumsworld.com via Amy on Pinterest


Funny story about those Dr. Scholl shoes - my first pair; the wooden bottomed ones...
I went on the Zipper ride at a carnival with my uncle.  If you aren't familiar with this ride, it has a two person car that spins upside down.  Those shoes were not attached and came off the first time we went upside down...the rest of the ride was spent trying to catch the bastards before we got clocked in the head with one of them!

I think I miss the gas prices the most.. 
What do you miss from back in your day?




Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quitting Smoking

I quit smoking on June 11, 2010.
I smoked a pack a day for more than 20 years.
If you are a smoker and thinking about quitting, my one and only secret weapon has been the E-cigarette, otherwise known as "vapeing". I've been using ecigs since I quit and I've really never looked back.



By now you must have at least caught wind of this alternative to smoking along with all the cons about it.  Here's what I can tell you from my experience:

  • The company I use is called Vapor4Life. (It's local to Chicago)
  • E-cigs are used with water vapor, flavoring and nicotine (three  ingredients you can pronounce without difficulty) which is why it's not harmful to the environment or other people.
  • I spend less than half of what I spent on cigarettes a month.
  • I had no side effects when I switched.
  • There is nicotine in the liquid used to fill the filter and it can be adjusted in lower doses until there is no nicotine.  (This is why there are no side effects.)

Basically the E-cigarette itself consists of a battery which looks like the white part of a cigarette, and the filter - what they call a cartomizer - which can be taken off so the battery can be recharged on a charger which can either be plugged into the wall or a USB charger attached to your computer.  The cartomizers come in different flavors including regular smoke flavors, full flavor, lights, menthol etc., but also in other flavors such as mint, chocolate, caramel, cappuccino, and various fruit flavors.

There are many variations on the market and companies coming out of the wordwork presenting the same product.  You want to make sure whatever company you choose will guarantee the quality of their products.  Here is a chart that can give you an idea about a few of the companies out there and help you narrow your choices..

Chart provided by the Vapor4Life website.

My Electronic Cigarette Review:
I was introduced to Vapor4Life by my brother-in-law who was using ecigs and being that he was successful, he urged me to try it and let me use one of his batteries while he was visiting for the weekend.  I did not smoke a regular cigarette the whole visit.  Before he left, he helped me put an order in for a kit.  You guys, those few days it took for the products to ship were the only days in my smoking career that I can honestly say I DIDN'T LIKE smoking.  For someone who always enjoyed smoking, I didn't like  the taste of a regular cigarette after smoking the E-Cig. 

I started on the highest strength nicotine and have since worked my way down to about half strength. I enjoy using this product with the peace of mind that I'm not harming myself with the thousands of chemicals that are in a regular cigarette. My clothes don't smell,  I feel better about what I'm putting in my body and my kids don't miss me because I'm out having a smoke. There are days that I don't even pick it up - those days are occasional because I do enjoy the product but I feel like the urge is not the same.

This product does not work for everyone - my husband also tried it shortly after I first started and once since then with no luck.  It can be used to help quit smoking or just in place of it which is what I'm doing.  I think the bottom line to quitting smoking is that you really want to stop smoking more than you want to smoke.  If you think you might be in that place and need some help, I would recommend this alternative.  It might work for you like it has for me.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments - or you can email me.  Have you tried quitting?  What stop smoking aid have you used?








Wednesday, April 18, 2012

People in Paris

The week before we were scheduled to fly to Paris, the Eiffel Tower was evacuated for a bomb threat that ended up being a false alarm and resolved the same day.  My husband plain out told me that if the trip wasn't for work (and completely paid in full) we may have been calling it off.  I couldn't NOT go on this trip and miss my possibly one and only chance to get to Paris. I was SO going with or without him glad this wasn't a personal trip and confident everything would go as smoothly as planned.  It just had to...




The first day we were there we decided to walk down the Champs Elysees only to be greeted by this scene:



Doesn't he look absolutely thrilled??
We were told by people that protests happen there all the time, like on a daily basis and that we shouldn't be alarmed. As you can imagine, it did not make this already fully alarmed, semi-anti-French guy feel any better about getting lost while we were walking through the streets of Paris.  In case you didn't know, the streets in the area all basically come at an angle rather than being a straight T intersection, and meet at the roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe.  It's not too hard for green American newbies like us to get lost even  having a map as it's easy to mistake the map being right side up when it's really upside down and vice versa. In my defense, take a look at this map surrounding the Arc de Triomphe and you will  be able to see exactly what I'm talking about.

We took a tour bus which I recommend for anyone wanting to see the better part of the city without paying for a cab to get around, or getting too lost.  They have headphones so you can use to choose your language to be able to hear all about the sites you are passing by.  There are also numerous stops along the route that you can get off and back on.


It was great to be able to people watch at all different locations. It was all great until a photographer got on the tour bus with us.  He sat in the seat behind us with a camera in hand and another around his neck, obviously some important photographer type that thought he was the next whoever the greatest photographer that ever lived was.


My son is convinced we saw Wolverine on location in Paris.

This guy spent much of the tour standing up right behind us or kneeling in the seat with the camera around his neck in perfect swinging distance from my head.  It didn't really bother me to be honest, I was enjoying myself and chose not to notice how closely he was in my boundaries. All of a sudden my husband stood up.

"Hey could you watch what you're doing?  You're about to hit my wife in the head." (assuming that this guy would even understand him)

"Did I hit her? Did I?" he asked in a British accent.

"You almost did," my husband said after a pause which I was hoping was him thinking about how stupid this was.

"Almost is not hitting her then is it?  It didn't really hit her." the man piped up. Then he mumbled something under his breath about him being a rude American.  I thought he might lose it.  I thought for a moment about how hard it would be to get out of an arrest in Paris.

It was over after a few choice words then a couple international I love you signs and the guy got off the bus at the next stop.  We were able to enjoy what was left of the tour.



Just a warning in case you might think about renting a car while in Paris, it's an accident waiting to happen in most spots.  Think again. I was surprised there weren't any accidents in the 51 seconds, all of which I had my jaw open filming it.  While they do drive on the right side of the road here at least,  I still wouldn't even think about attempting this challenge...



Do you think you could handle it?



The only time I ever felt shunned by the French was the last night we were there - I couldn't handle my shoes after being on them all day so I walked around barefoot.  You would not even believe the looks I got; it was well after midnight when I expected everyone to be careless and full of wine.  I think it was more of a fashion thing than a French thing; I didn't care much either way.  My feet were absolutely killing me and I was proud to have Paris on my souls.



So the lesson to be learned here today about the people in Paris is that it's not the actual Parisians that live there that you have to worry about, it's really the touring Brits you have to watch out for - and the completely insane traffic!

Of course, there's not any harmless gorillas to worry about...
nor were any harmed  in  the making of this post.



Have you been to Paris?  What do you think of the traffic and the people?


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