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Monday, December 15, 2014

News Flash!

 The husband and I are still on speaking terms.

Honest to dog, I thought for sure we'd have some knockdown, drag out fights now that we're living together again, but it's been quite the opposite.

In a way, we're a little lost. A little disoriented. He still thinks he has to rush off to work, and my routine is like a wobbly wheel. I never know which direction my day will take.

Don't get me wrong. It's a unique and liberating feeling. We do as we please, when we please, but there's no structure yet, no routine. We've been told by others that it'll take at least six months to get used to our new life.

We're still spending more money than I'd like--or maybe I'm just more aware of it. Every time Greg looks at something shiny (read: expensive), I have to remind him we're on a strict budget.

Maybe once we're seeing regular stipends it won't feel so dire. Our expenses have been cut in half since he moved back, so I'm not sure why I'm so anxious when it comes to spending on trifles. Guilty conscience, I suppose.

I've suggested we start an expense journal to see where our money goes every week, and he's agreed. If I can see the numbers in black and white, maybe it will ease my stress.

The biggest surprise for me is that I haven't felt the need for more alone time. Ha! Quite the opposite. We try to spend as much time together as we can. He helps me cook, clean, and feed animals. And get this--all without me asking him to help. I was in shock the first time he volunteered.


Despite the fact we're both intolerable A++ personalities, we really enjoy each other's company. I hope it's always this much fun.

So how are the holidays treating you? Are you finished Christmas shopping? My Christmas cards were supposed to be done last night, but they're still staring me in the face this morning. No help from Greg on this one.

Why are greeting cards always left to the wife to write? Any theories?

I'm 99% sure this blog will go through an evolution come 2015. You can expect to see more topics on homesteading, saving money, and the business side of publishing. (My three passions.) If you have any other suggestions, let me know.

Are there any changes in store for you in 2015?


PS  if you see the word verification in the comment box, ignore it. It's just a glitch. Your comment should post whether you type it in or not. At least that's been my experience on other people's blogs.



Monday, December 8, 2014

Oh, Christmas Dog!


Sorry I disappeared last week. On top of being in mourning (and not being very good company) we had house repair issues, and tech problems with my internet. All in all, a difficult week.
Nana is ready to decorate!

A new week is a new beginning though, so I bring you a taste of Christmas at my house including our resident goof, Nana. 

This is the first Christmas in years that I've had the chance to decorate a big tree. Most years Greg was either gone or I was traveling.

We are minus one beloved dog, but we made sure his picture was up on our tree.

Christmas trees are tricky to photograph. Unless you're a professional photographer (and I'm not) I don't think most people can capture the true beauty of their trees. There's too much to see and it's only when you see it in person can you appreciate all the tiny artwork.

My trees are a little like treasure hunts. There are the main decorations, the jewelry of the tree, but I also tuck in little keepsakes in between the boughs of the tree. My favorite part is when people find my secret treasures. It's like looking at a well known painting and finding a surprise detail that you never noticed before.

Greg wanted colored lights this year, and I chose soft gold and red as the main color palette. For the rest of the decorations, I opted for nostalgia and remembrance as my theme. Pictures of many of my past fur babies were placed in little frames. Ornaments and keepsakes that I've collected for decades finished the look.

The tree topper is probably the oldest ornament in my collection. It's almost 40 years old. It's simple, even cheesy, and terribly fragile, but every year I dutifully wrap it in tissue paper and bubble wrap and encase it in its own metal box. It was the first ornament we ever bought as a couple.

I'd like to think it's not the quality of the decorations but the memories they bring with them that counts.


Is your tree up yet? Do you have one treasured item that goes up year after year?

Don't forget to take a picture of your holiday table for our mini blog hop on December 29. Grab a badge and invite your friends to show off their holiday tables too. Just email me your blog url if you want me to send people your way.


Monday, November 24, 2014

State of the Homestead


I won't lie. Things still aren't normal around here since Tank passed away. We keep seeing him in his favorite spots and we'll break down and cry when we hand out his favorite treats. The other dogs have been so sweet. They seem to sense our deep sadness and try to cheer us up, giving us kisses and hugs. Of all the dogs, Iko misses Tank most. They were very close.

We mope a lot. I hadn't had any desire to go online though I've tried to answer emails and personal messages. Thank you for that guys. Your heartfelt condolences meant a lot to both me and Greg.

All these babies are gone except for the big guy in the middle.

In an effort to get back to the world of the living, I'll start out with a homestead report.

Garden: We wuz robbed! I try to keep up with weather changes. I knew the polar vortex was going to hit as far south as Texas, so Greg and I covered several beds of tender veggies with sturdy tents of heavy plastic. I ran out of plastic so I dug up the few remaining pepper plants in a last ditch effort to save them.

The polar vortex was harder than the plastic cover could endure. ALL the plants died. Now I wish I had tried to put them in pots. I especially hated losing all my tomato plants that were full of plump, but still green tomatoes.

The onions, garlic, strawberries, bok choy, and beets survived without any protection and did just fine.

The hard freeze lasted almost a week but we're back to the upper 60s again. Generally, we don't get real cold here until January and February.

Chickens: The Marans will head for the big chicken coop in the sky within the next couple of months. I just have to make room in my freezer. Despite our best efforts we haven't stopped them from eating their own eggs, so they'll have to go. 

Come 2015, we'll probably incubate some eggs from the black Australorps. The hens are getting a little old and they'll need to be replaced next year. They're good chickens. Calm, friendly, and good layers. The Marans on the other hand are all a little schizoid. I should've put them in the freezer months ago.

Rabbits: We've had no luck at all procuring another blue New Zealand. I've decided to settle for another breed until the right one shows up.
  
Freestanding hay manger
Goats: I finally let the boys run with the girls. I might as well. I think the bums did the dirty deed back in October when Greg fed the animals for me. He didn't secure the latch to the locked position, and goats being goats, they figured out how to slide the latch open. My gut feeling is that two of the three girls are pregnant, but I won't know for sure until their udders fill up.

When they were set free, the boys chased the girls (as boys do), but once the girls started ramming them with those sharp, pointy horns, they finally settled down.

Greg built me a hay manger. It holds almost an entire bale of hay and is off the floor so it doesn't take up any more space. Goats are notorious for wasting hay and we hope this will slow them down.

Future Plans: We're thinking of moving animals around. Greg saw a friend's layout for a chicken coop/run that looked like a luxury resort for chickens. We'd like to start moving more of the animals to a centralized location so we'll build the new chicken cabana near the goats.

The rabbits in turn will move into the existing chicken coop and run. It's built like an aviary so no predators can get in. It'll give them more room to move around and allow them to have their babies in a more natural environment. Since the enclosed yard is big enough, I might also grow some miniature trees or grapes under the protection of all that fencing.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the US. We plan on having a quiet holiday this year, but I'll still put out a big spread, enough for man and dogs.

Don't forget to take pictures of your holiday table. I'd like to do a fun blog hop to show off everyone's holiday table on December 29th. I even created a blog badge for the event. Here's the original post with the details.

Feel free to take one of the images below for your blog. If you can't copy it, email me and I'll send you the jpg.

What will you be serving for the holidays? For Thanksgiving, we usually have turkey but since we'll be alone this year, I'll be serving duck. For Christmas I found an excellent recipe for rib roast. The trick is to find a roast that won't break the bank! 

What are you serving this year?

 



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

RIP, Tank

We said goodbye to our angel yesterday.

One last smile for his daddy.

Tank took a turn for the worse yesterday morning. I knew it was his time. He probably would've died on his own the next day but we didn't want him to suffer. He meant too much to us for that.

We adopted him ten and half years ago from a rescue group. He was a lanky two-year old with a head too big for his body. Oh, but how we grew to love him. You couldn't help but fall in love with him.

Although his very appearance could scare the bejeebers out of you when you first encounter him, he was the sweetest, kindest, and most compassionate soul you could ever meet.

He was first and always Greg's boy. I'm so glad he hung on until Greg retired. They had many plans for midday naps and raiding the pantry for snacks. I wish they could've done more of that.

It's eerily quiet at my house. Tank was the quiet one but for some reason all the other dogs have suddenly gone silent. No one is barking or rabble-rousing. Each of them have taken turns sleeping on Tank's bed, even Nana, who prefers to nap from the high perch of the couch. 

It's as if they're grieving too, or maybe they're sensing our immense sadness. It's hard for me to even grasp the words to describe our heartache.  

Tank was the best of dogs and he's left a giant hole in our hearts. He lived far longer than anyone expected despite being riddled by tumors and severe arthritis. A trooper to the end. Happy until the end.

Rest now, my baby, and wait for us.


Everyone is keeping vigil with Tank until it's time for us to go to the vet.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Show Me Your Table

One of the perks Greg received after working 40 years with his company was a very generous gift award, good for a huge catalog of things.

For himself, he got an Ipad Air and one of those fancy, schmancy ladders that contorts into all sorts of heights. He bought me a balance ball chair and a food processor. What money was left he exchanged for restaurant and retail store gift certificates.

Anyway, today I want to talk about the food processor. I'm always suspect of small kitchen appliances, but I was greatly pleased with this one. It's a Cuisinart Prep 9-cup

It's got a heavy duty motor that chops, slices, and purees without any effort at all. I love this thing! I made coleslaw the other day and it was absolutely flawless. 

Later, Greg made homemade peanut butter. While most machines struggle and overheat when crushing peanuts, this one did the job like a dream. It took Greg longer to clean the machine than it did to make the peanut butter.

In short, if you're looking for a food processor, I can recommend this one. I'm so glad we got it.

***

With the year winding down, I've noticed that blog and Facebook posts are becoming fewer and thankfully less promo-happy. I guess everyone is gearing up for the holidays.

With that in mind, I think I'll stick with my current schedule until January when I'll go to twice a week posts.

In the meantime, I thought of something that might be neat to do. This year, I plan to photograph our Thanksgiving and/or Christmas meals (whichever turns out nicer). Would you guys be willing to join me in doing an impromptu blog hop showing off your holiday table?

You don't have to write anything, just show off your spread in pictures. I thought we could post them to our blogs on Monday, December 29.

If you want to join, leave a comment (with a contact email) or email me privately with your blog url. On December 29th, I'll link to each of your blogs here, on Facebook, and Twitter.

I love to see how people eat and entertain so I hope you'll join me. Who's with me? Will you share your holiday table?

This doesn't have to be limited to us. If you have friends who want to join, point them over here and we'll have a big smorgasbord of holiday pictures to share and inspire us on December 29th.
 

Monday, November 10, 2014

What's your Superpower?

The other day, a total stranger paid a really nice compliment to a cover I designed. (It hasn't been released to the public yet). 

My very favorite part about designing is being able to glean the essence of the book and put that nebulous quality on a cover. It's such a subtle thing, but if I can pull it off, it makes a big statement.

You might think my superpower is being a good designer, but that's only a side effect of my real superpower. I happen to have killer observational skills...that is, when I choose to pay attention. LOL.

Alas, I'm oblivious to most things around me unless I want to notice. I think it's a safety mechanism for me so I'm not drowning my brain with too much information.

When I do notice, I discover some amazing nuances. That's why Greg thinks I read minds. In reality, I just happen to notice body language and the subtle inflections in people's voices. 

It's the same gift that helps me anticipate sickness with my animals. I can tell before they show outward symptoms that something is not right. It's saved a life on more than one occasion so I'm particularly glad about this 'superpower'.

Greg thinks that's why we've managed to keep old Tank alive for as long as we have. I hope so.

If only I was that aware about myself. Believe it or not, I haven't gotten rid of this cold or whatever it is I've got. It's better, but I've already had two rounds of antibiotics and it's still lingering. I'm afraid it might be strep, which always kicks my butt and throws me to the curb.

Your turn. Dig deep. What's your superpower? Is there a superpower you wish you had?

Me, I've always wanted to being able to eat anything I want without gaining weight. :grin:


Monday, November 3, 2014

Fun and Fooey

I had my first weekend with a full time husband. It was great! We slept in. He helped me with the animals and my garden, and Sunday, we spent the day in Canton, TX where they host Trade Days. It's one of the biggest flea markets in the country, maybe the world. It's spread over hundreds of acres, and we only tackled part of it.

Saturday, I threw him a little party. It was originally supposed to be a surprise, but my partner-in-crime had a family emergency and I had to pull it together solo. It worked out fine. 

We got to visit with friends we hadn't seen in a very long time and had a chance to chat with others who couldn't make it that night. In short, we had a fabulous time. Good company, good food, flowing wine, and lots of stories to tell.

It was a perfect evening! Greg was so touched by all the attention.

Ah, but there's another side to all the warm, fuzzy feelings about having a husband again.

Do you remember several months ago when I mentioned threatened to start a series called, Things My Husband Does?

Greg has already given me fodder for several topics. Apparently, having a full time husband is going to require some time for adjustment.

I've inherited a serious problem now that I'm responsible to cook for someone regularly.

Here's my question to you for today.  Do you know what you're going to make for dinner (breakfast or lunch) every day of the week? Who decides the menu, you or your significant other (or family)?

Greg always gives me the, "I don't know what I feel like eating" line. Yet if I suggest some ideas, he invariably shoots them down because it's not quite what his discerning taste buds had in mind. 

What's taste got to do with it? It's food. Just eat it.

Worse yet, I must ask him about dinner hours ahead of time so I can take whatever I need out of the freezer. It never fails that he doesn't know what he wants until about 15 minutes before he's hungry.

I'm happy with leftovers three days in a row but I can't get away with that with Greg.

Back when we lived together, he'd eat whatever I put in front of him, but 15 years of independence has made him particular about what he wants to eat and when. Greg rarely cooked at home, so he was used to restaurant food at least 80% of the time.

I made up a list of menu items and I've considered letting him choose from the list. Unfortunately, what's happened on more than one occasion is that I'll have taken out a pre-approved item from the freezer only to find that he had changed his mind. Oy!

To his credit, Greg never complains what I put in front of him, though occasionally I do get the puppy-dog eyes because he got hamburger instead of rib-eye. 

I want to prepare food he enjoys but I'm not one of those creative cooks who could whip up veal Marsala without a lot of prep work and research. I'm more of a "eat it; it won't kill you" kind of cook. Yes. It's always an adventure at my table.

How do you handle the menu at your house? 

A big basket of peppers, okra, cukes, and squash. I picked a couple of watermelons too but I forgot to take a picture. 

Any suggestions on what to do with so many peppers?

I'll freeze the bell peppers, pickle the cubanelle and banana peppers, and stuff some of the jalapenos, but I still have loads more on the vine. What would you try?


Monday, October 27, 2014

Drum Roll Please

It's official! Greg's last day at work is THIS Thursday. We are beyond thrilled.

Forty years at the same company. Well, actually, forty years working for a company that changed hands five times. Like an indentured servant, he went with the furniture every time his company was sold and bought.

I'm proud of him. It takes a lot of fortitude to stick it out. He started out with the company as a smart aleck kid right off the street, and now he's the last of the old guard who knows where all the bodies are buried (metaphorically).

We haven't sold our house down south, so we're not free to say goodbye to SE Texas yet. Soon I hope. It's the last leg of our journey on the Gulf coast.

This is a huge change of lifestyle for us. For fifteen years we've been used to living apart. Now we'll be together 24/7. Oh, the humanity!

I should have plenty of stories to tell.


Copyright: ragnarocks / 123RF Stock Photo
There's the eerie, uneasy  feeling of living off our savings too. Did we save enough? Do we have a good investments manager? Can we continue to live frugally? 

It was kind of a cheat before. We could live frugally all week long and then splurge on the weekend, knowing we still had liquid assets coming in. But now we're working without that net. What we put away is what we have to live on for however long we last.

I can see me now, selling my blood to pay the taxes on Tara. Or maybe I can put the goats to work. I've heard of people advertising Rent-a-Goat to clear out people's brushy properties. And Iko could always get a job scorpion-hunting. Nana could retrieve runaway chickens and toddlers. 

Tank and Maggie? Completely retired, though they would make great nannies. Kids adore them.

For sure, I'll be keeping an eye on the bottom line until there's some sense of consistency.

It's going to be one heck of a ride, but it's one we've been looking forward to for a long time. I'm getting a husband! Imagine me, a blushing bride all over again. Ha!

What's the longest you've ever stayed apart from your significant other? Did you enjoy it or was it harder than you expected?

What's the longest you've ever been at one job? Me, I could never hold a job. :grin: 15 years was my longest stint. 




Monday, October 20, 2014

She's Alive!

Still sick, but not so bad now. I'm still slightly deaf and coughing but at least I'm not hacking out a lung. 

Even while I was sick, things kept happening around me. In one week I had three more design jobs but I've asked them to give me a few more days to recover. 

The good news is I can at least do some of the preliminary work (research) from the couch, all thanks to Greg. 

Last week, when I started to feel marginally better, I decided to hook up my laptop and read a few blogs from bed. Only my laptop was dead. Deader than dead. At first I thought it was the battery, but no, even the power cord wouldn't boot it up.

Frustrated, I got online to see what the tech wizards recommended (besides buying a new laptop). I tried all their suggestions but nothing worked. 

Greg comes home Thursday night and he takes a look at my laptop, checking all sorts of things with a voltage ohm meter. It's the power cord he says. Defeated, I start searching online for a replacement, wondering if whatever fried the cord also fried the laptop. 

Greg tells me to hold off as he scrounges through a box of orphaned electronic hardware and pulls out four other power adapters. He finds the one with the right pin and voltage, and voila, a working laptop.

The man is a genius. Do I know how to pick 'em or what? 

The other thing that happened and forgot to mention last week is that Darke Contour interviewed me on her blog. Oh, sure, roll your eyes at me! But have I ever been boring?

(Don't hurt my feelings. I'm still sick. :cough cough:)

Anyway, she interviewed me specifically about my cover art experience. So if you'd like to see publishing from another angle, go over and pay a visit.

It might be the middle of October but the weather is warm and pleasant here. The garden is going strong and the goats are singing their rendition of "Love is in the Air". There's a lot of grunting and vocalizing from the boys. I don't think they can impregnate any of the girls through a fence, but I've heard stories...

Things are starting to look up. I feel like the fog we've been under is lifting.

If you have any questions about cover art, go over to Darke's blog. I should start being able to visit more of your blogs this week.

So what's new with you? Who's celebrating Halloween this month? I love Halloween, but we live so far from any of the action it's always a quiet holiday for us. Do you dress up or decorate for Halloween?


Monday, October 13, 2014

Done In

We had a lovely visit with friends and my niece and her little family. Everything was going well until Tuesday night. I felt a little off but I thought it was just allergies.

I had an already scheduled appointment with my doc for a physical the next day, but when she examined me, she assumed it was allergies too.

We were both wrong. I kept getting worse and worse until it became a raging head cold. That much I could take, but the part that is still tormenting me is the ringing in my right ear. It's awful! And loud. I've tried all sorts of home remedies. Sometimes it lessens the loudness but it never goes away.

Does anyone have any suggestions? At this point I'd try almost anything. I think it's just fluid buildup from my head cold.

I can thank my grand-niece for my cold, though poor kid, I hear she has the same. An adult can be miserable but a little baby doesn't know why she's hurting. It's got to be worse for her.

I should've realized something was amiss because her parents said she'd been fussier than normal. Poor kid. This is no fun.

Needless to say, I spent my anniversary with Kleenex, cold medicine and hot soup. Greg was a good nursemaid. 

He fed and watered all the animals. Unfortunately, he didn't lock the gate securely at the goat pen for the boys and the rascals got out to the girls. If we have early pregnancies, this will be why. I don't mind if the older girls get pregnant but I didn't want Pandora (the youngest) in the family way until next year.

She'll probably be all right. Accidental pregnancies happen all the time, but I prefer to let her get a little bigger first so the delivery isn't so hard on her.

This is the first time Greg has had to feed animals without me being there but he did just fine. Now if I could only convince him to pick up poop. I'm always stuck with that job.

Design Giveaway: Sadly, there were not enough entries to make it a true contest so I've had to cancel it. This really surprises me because of all the contests I've held, this one had so many people sharing the news. Maybe it was the wrong time of year. I can always try again next year.

Thank you to everyone who shared, tweeted, and blogged about the giveaway.

I apologize too if I haven't been to your blogs. I've had the best intentions, but most days I can barely sit up. As soon as I'm up to it, I'll start visiting again.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to break up the fluid buildup in my head? I've tried hot compresses and that seems to help a little. Hot showers too. But it always comes back. 

Signed: Half-deaf Maria

Monday, October 6, 2014

This, That and the Bed

I'll be out of pocket for a few days while I visit with friends and family this week. Today we're headed for the State Fair of Texas

In years past, something has always happened to stop me from going, but this time the weather is great, no one is sick, and we have company so we'll be playing tour guides.

This Friday is also a special day. Greg and I will celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary. We usually go out some place special but I'd be glad to make a gourmet meal if that's what he wants. As long as we're together, it doesn't matter.

Da bed: A few weeks ago I mentioned that my sleep has suffered for years and that it was time to find a new bed. I've waffled on the decision for years because I was afraid to commit (and invest) on such an expensive item.

After another miserable night of sleep I finally gave in and did some reconnaissance shopping, trying out several beds and talking with the sales people. The chain stores were big on the heavy sales pitch. Although most of the beds were 'nice', they weren't all that different from what I'd been using.

I checked out the TempurPedic mattresses but their 'cooling technology' was a little misleading. When I did further research I found that the foam cooled off but only if you weren't lying on it. What good is that while you're trying to sleep on a hot mattress?


Finally, I went to a mom and pop (non-chain) mattress store and they showed me a hybrid bed that used coiled foam. From the get-go it was incredibly more comfortable than the other beds I tried.

It was also very expensive.

Another few nights on my existing bed and I finally caved and took the plunge.

It's been almost two weeks and I can say without exaggeration that it's the best sleep I've had in my life. Even though I have existing painful pressure points on both sides of my hips, I have not felt them at all on this bed. 

I used to get up exceptionally early, getting only four or five hours of sleep because staying in bed any longer became too painful. Now I sleep a full seven hours and have not had a single backache. Not one.

It's still a big investment, but I am sleeping so much better that I hate to get out of bed.

The brand name is called Woude and it's made by the WorldBed Studio out of California. Their web site is awful. It gives you hardly any useful information, but you'll want to go to the showroom anyway and check it out for yourself. 

Update: I don't believe it. It's thundering and lightning outside. Oy! Maybe it'll be short-lived. Wish us luck.

So, what's going on for you this week?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tick Tock, the Giveaway Knocks

Very few entries coming in. I'm chalking it up to the fact that I gave such a long deadline, but if it turns out there isn't enough interest I'll cancel the giveaway. 

I don't want people to be afraid to sign up for the newsletter either. Knowing me, the chances are good you might see one newsletter a year just to announce I'm still alive and kicking.

This brings me to a strange conundrum with the rise of the internet. I have so many online friends. Every so often one of them becomes very ill--or worse, dies. I don't like to bug people but on the other hand, I worry when it becomes too long since I'd seen them around the net.

Is there a proper length of time to wait before you inquire whether that person is alive and well? Have you ever been surprised to hear about a friend's poor health or untimely death?

Spread the word about the giveaway!  
Enter now and beat the rush. :o)


The Great Design Giveaway
• Four Winners
• Prizes: Two digital covers, One web site banner, One bookmark/postcard
• Promotion Ends October 12, 2014

Need a book cover? How about a header for your web site? Or a postcard? Then you're in luck! If you've never tried me, or even if you have, here's your chance to try your luck on getting one of these projects designed for FREE by a professional graphic designer.  

Rules 
• First, sign up for my newsletter.
• If you want to win one of the prizes, send me a short blurb for your book, or a short description of what you'd like to see on your web site banner or bookmark/postcard.

Subscribe and Enter here.

Put Great Design Giveaway in the subject line.

I will choose the winners based on which description wows me into inspiration fastest. 

The Small Print 
 • All designs are limited to the art stock I have on hand. (Don’t worry. It’s a big library.)
• Cover art is for digital only.
• Web site banner is for design only. You’ll have to provide the size specifications and upload it to your site. This can be a banner for Facebook, blog, or personal web site.
• Bookmark/postcard  is for a two-sided layout.
• Winners are not obligated to accept the layout I design, but they are allowed minor changes.
• All designs will be showcased on my gallery wall.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Great Design Giveaway


The Great Design Giveaway
• Four Winners
• Prizes: Two digital covers, One web site banner, One bookmark/postcard
• Promotion Ends October 12, 2014

Need a book cover? How about a header for your web site? Or a postcard? Then you're in luck! If you've never tried me, or even if you have, here's your chance to try your luck on getting one of these projects designed for FREE by a professional graphic designer.  

Rules 
• First, sign up for my newsletter.
• If you want to win one of the prizes, send me a short blurb for your book, or a short description of what you'd like to see on your web site banner or bookmark/postcard.

Subscribe and Enter here.

Put Great Design Giveaway in the subject line.

I will choose the winners based on which description wows me into inspiration fastest. 

The Small Print 
 • All designs are limited to the art stock I have on hand. (Don’t worry. It’s a big library.)
• Cover art is for digital only.
• Web site banner is for design only. You’ll have to provide the size specifications and upload it to your site. This can be a banner for Facebook, blog, or personal web site.
• Bookmark/postcard  is for a two-sided layout.
• Winners are not obligated to accept the layout I design, but they are allowed minor changes.
• All designs will be showcased on my gallery wall. 

Newsletter Details 
• The newsletter will be sent out quarterly (unless something BIG happens).
• There won’t be any fluff in it. Just useful information and newsy stuff.
• The first newsletter won't be released until January 2015. 

Want to see more of what I can do? Check out the Gallery. This will give you some idea of my style and scope.

All winners will be announced on October 15, 2014. Winners will receive their design prizes no later than December 30, 2014.

Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. Good luck!


Monday, September 22, 2014

The Great Purge of 2014

For the last three weeks, I have methodically severed myself from anything I didn't truly need or love.

Greg is a big-time pack rat, but I'm just as guilty--albeit to a much lesser degree. With everything stacking against us for the last few weeks, I decided it was a good time to release myself from the past. I needed to lighten the load.

If I didn't throw it away, I gave it away. The rest has been stored in Greg's workshop for a monster garage sale set for whenever he comes home for good. (No way am I doing this one alone.)

I am done collecting stuff. All my life I've hung on to these little bits of this or that thinking I'll use them someday, but reality finally sunk its teeth.


Let's face it, I was never going to turn those nice bed sheets into dinner napkins. I don't sew, so who am I kidding? I don't have the slightest talent for needle and thread even if I did have delusions of Martha Stewart.
Nana when she's not a blur.

And all that furniture we had bought over the years to furnish two homes? Most of it is now awaiting the garage sale to end all garage sales. If it doesn't sell, it'll go straight to Goodwill. I'm not keeping anything I don't truly love. 

(I guess that means Nana is staying too.)

I was just as ruthless with my email. I deleted close to 6,000 unread emails. Most of them were from groups that post several times a day, but I finally admitted to myself I was never going to go back and read those things. 

I deleted all my emails from my old newsletter job. After six years it was time to let them go. I have no plans to go back. Enough time has elapsed that the new newsletter editor can handle it from here on out.

In short, I divorced myself from anything that had worn out its welcome.

It was liberating, but also a little scary. I've never been this fierce about letting go.

I'm not sure if combining two households pushed me over the edge, or if deep down I felt it was time to let our stuff be loved by someone else. 

If it weren't for Greg, I probably would've unloaded way more stuff, but he's on a 12-step program for pack-rattery. It's much harder for him to let go. :grin:

There are more deletions, purges, cleanses, and exorcisms in the future. I want a fresh start.

Have you ever done a purge? Was it draining or cathartic?
I promise to take pictures when I set up my garage sale. It will be AWESOME in scope and size.


In other news: My mother is in a convalescent home for physical therapy. She's got another week there and then they'll let her go home.

Maggie is doing great after her run in with Nana. And Nana, that little monster, has been good as gold since we had a 'come to Jesus meeting' between us. 

Maybe this is a sign that things are getting back to normal. I hope so.