Thursday, April 2, 2020

Positivity Project #3 - Lets READ

Good afternoon!

Are you one of those people who says, “I never have enough time to read?” or my favorite, “I only read on summer break.”
GASP! That is just so wrong and my heart aches for you.

Not sure how exactly that could ever be the case. Find 30 minutes in the morning or before bed and guarantee you will start or end your day relaxed.
Do it! Try it! No better time than NOW.

How big is your To Be Read pile? I usually have a TBR pile of only one or two books. I tend to read what I buy immediately. I am more like a kid in a candy store. I want and I want to read it NOW!
My dad (remember he is on an extended visit with me) has read several books since he started his visit. He reads a little in the morning with his morning coffee, a little in the afternoon, and a little to relax before bed at night.

Now the good part is that we enjoy the same books– mostly. Like he loves to read Sharon Sala who happens to be one of my favorite authors. If you enjoy a good romance and ones with a little mystery with characters you can’t help but fall in love with then Dad and I both recommend Sharon Sala and especially her “Blessings Georgia” series. See the photos. But we love all of Sharon’s books.

I finished “The Vanishing”, the latest paranormal mystery by Jayne Ann Krentz. Jayne does a terrific job with paranormal. She and Heather Graham are my two favorites in this genre. I mean what more could a person want: mystery, paranormal, and romance.

We also both enjoy David Baldacci and John Sanford. Dad just re-read “The Collectors” by David Baldacci.
I got Dad started on reading “The Kidd” series by John Sandford. Having lived in Minnesota, we both love and have known a character like his “Virgil Flowers” character, we recommend John Sandford books.

I am finishing up Linda Lael Miller’s latest book, “Country Strong” from her new Painted Pony Creek series. Anytime you want a good romance that takes place on a ranch then Linda Lael Miller is where you want to turn.

Next up on my list is “The Shape of the Night” by Tess Gerritsen. Another author my dad and I have in common. No doubt he will read this one when I am finished, but for now, get in line.
Tell us what you are reading. What author or series do you recommend?

Can’t get your hands on a book right now? Well, you are in luck. Until June 30th we have a National Emergency Library open for digital reading of over 1.4 million books. FREE. Visit this link:
Novels not your thing? That’s okay, Marvel has free digital read of some of their comic books available. FREE. Visit this link:

Prefer someone to read you a bedtime story? Well, Dolly Parton on Facebook can help you out. FREE. Visit this link:
If you know of other ways to get free reads, please share what you have discovered.

More than anything—HAPPY READING!!



Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Positivity Project #2

Here we are again. Spreading the positive! We hope you do too.

My father who came for a visit at end of February is now here at least until mid-May. How can I be disappointed to spend so much time with my dad?

We spend the day (when I am not working) sharing meals and talking. It’s great to hear dad talk about some of the things he experienced when he was younger.

But, what does dad do while I am working from home? For sure dad can and does read. He has read 4 or 5 books so far since he started his visit. But you can't just read all day - every day.

Dad said one day, “I wish I was more artistic.” For the record, dad is a genius with woodworking. He made all kinds of stuff when I was younger out of wood like a dresser, headboard, grandfather clock, chess board, to name a few.
Hmm. What does one do with the statement, “I wish I was more artistic.”

Well, I have a friend who is very artistic and creative and.. has paints! I have old yard statues that are all faded. Put the two together and you have an artistic painting father.
We set up a table in front of a window where sunlight comes in, hooked him up with paints and voila! Dad is artistic.

He didn't stop at just one yard statue. Dad gathered them all up, cleaned them and then every day for a week painted on.

What did I get?

I get to watch my dad enjoying himself and relaxing. I also got fabulous, new yard ornaments that I and everyone who comes to my yard gets to enjoy. All hand painted by my father.  
What is a creative endeavor you have wanted to try but never had the time? Or maybe you already are crafty and creative but just don’t do it any longer because life got in the way.
Got a paint by number set sitting around? What about a camera? It’s spring. Can you go to your yard and take photos of the changing flowers?


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Positivity Project

Power of Positivity
During this time of the unknown and the scary, an opportunity has presented itself for us to come together. Distance is irrelevant. As a matter of fact, social distancing is a MUST. But – that doesn’t mean we can’t come together and pass along positivity and help each other thru.

I will use my blog to post positive things. Things are defined as videos, pictures, craft ideas, recipes, anecdotal stories. Anything that doesn’t focus on the negative of our healthcare scare, economy, and politics.

Would love for everyone to get involved and share how they are getting thru. How are they staying close to family and friends, how are they getting thru the day and keeping busy? Share fun stories from now or when you were younger.
You can share your positivity in the comments or send me a direct message and you can send me a blog post. Let's do this together!

Let’s start with Camping Brownies. What? What are camping brownies?

So glad you asked.
Camping Brownies are the best brownies! It's a recipe my grandmother, Maxine (AKA Mad Max) has made since I was a kid. My grandmother is 95 years young and the heart of our family. Not to mention a terrific cook and baker.
I share this recipe for you all to try as part of our Positivity Project.
Why are they called camping brownies? Good question. Because my grandma used to bake them for our camping trips. Camping with my grandparents used to be a summertime activity us kids loved. And the brownies were one of the many highlights.
Can you say YUMMY!!!!

Camping Brownie Recipe:
·         4 eggs
·         1 cup flour
·         1 cup sugar
·         1 stick butter
·         16 oz. Hershey’s chocolate syrup
·         ¼ tsp. salt

·         Melt butter, beat eggs and mix together.
·         Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Camping Brownie Topping:
·         1 1/3 cup sugar
·         6 tablespoons butter
·         6 tablespoons or 1/3 cup milk

·         Boil all the above ingredients for 30 seconds – stirring. Take off heat.
·         Add ½ cup chocolate chips.
·         Beat until it will spread on cooled brownies.

We made these for my grandmother's 95th birthday and they are as good now as they were then.

Enjoy!! And feel free to share a childhood or family recipe of one of your favorite treats as a kid.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

MURCA 50K - an urban virtual ultra-marathon

St. Patrick’s Day weekend I made the decision to do the Virtual MURCA 50K. I had twenty-four (24) hours to run, walk, or even crawl thirty-one (31) miles for the Marine Ultra Runners Club of America to help raise funds for The Warrior's Keep's Vet-Ex and Vet-Rec Outdoor Therapy Programs. Hey! And even better reason to celebrate with a pint of Guinness.

I got up Saturday morning, March 16 knowing I was going to attempt this virtual 50K and started getting ready. Had my coffee and spoonful of peanut butter. Yup! I was wanting to start off by burning fat.
The MURCA site suggests making the Virtual 50K epic. Hm. How do you make a virtual event EPIC?

Think about it. It’s solely up to you. There are no other runners. There are no aid stations with happy and welcoming volunteers. There is just you and whatever route you choose to take. And I live in Nowhere, New Hampshire.
I packed my back to the weight of fifteen (15) pounds and was going to use today as part of my training for The Tough Ruck for the Fallen marathon that takes place April 14.

Yes! Some people call me crazy. This would be part of my EPIC adventure. How far would I go with that 15-pound backpack?

At approximately 8:16 AM I was out the door and on my MURCA epic adventure. The temperature was 30 plus degrees so that meant layers. Hat, mittens, fleece top, wool underlayer, then tights, jeans, Darn Tough socks, and a pair of Altra Paradigm shoes.

At no time did I plan to run. Having bronchitis for over three months killed that idea. Not to mention that 15-pound backpack. It was a pretty lofty goal just to complete the 31 miles. But what the heck! No pain, no gain. No dream, no achievement.
So, me, my backpack, my Garmin watch, and my music were off.

My plan was to use the rail trail and hoof it from Salem to Derry. Then pick up the bike trail in Derry and snake back to the rail trail and head back to Salem until I hit 31 miles.
How’s the saying go? “Best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry.”

I walked through my neighborhood to get a couple miles in before I get to the rail trail. The early section of the rail trail was nice and then became a sheet of ice in other sections. In one part I had to hold onto the wooden railing to get past the ice. I was NOT going to fall on my hiney with a 15-pound backpack attached to me. Can you imagine that thud?

I managed to go nine miles before needing to grab real food. One benefit of an urban virtual ultra-marathon…built in aid stations. After breakfast I wound my way back to the house, AKA my start-finish line.
I was at mile fourteen (14) at this point. It was here I dumped the backpack. Thank goodness!Fifteen pounds is the equivalent of carrying around my chubby cat, Mischief on my back. Nice at first, but dang heavy after a while.

I took advantage of my home aid station to change socks, shoes, and grabbed a salty and fatty snack on the way back out. See my video of chips and almond butter. Salty chips really do hit the spot and they help with extremity swelling.
I was off again for a more leisurely (less heavy) walk. I was feeling good and had a nice spring in my step with fresh shoes. Woohoo!

Wind started to pick up even more about this time. I think we had like fifteen (15) mile per hour winds that afternoon, but I kept my head down and kept moving forward.
I made it back to the beginning of the rail trail near me and at mile 18 I passed a Dunkin’ Donuts.
For those of you that don’t know me…I am gluten intolerant. A donut is a complete no-no. BUT…a girl has to do what a girl has to do when she is in the middle of an ultra-marathon. At mile 18 a chocolate frosted donut never tasted so good!
There’s something about a chocolate frosted donut that makes everything feel better. It also gave me a nice energy boost so when I hit the section of trail that was ice the last time, I was ready for it.

To my surprise, the sun did its job and when I hit the trail further down there was extreme melting going on, so I didn’t need to skate across the trail.
It’s fun to discover nature after winter. To see grass after months of it covered in white puts a smile on your face. There weren’t many people out on the trail that day but there were a few and those folks were just as happy as me to be outside.

When the wind picked up, one gentleman I ran across warned me not to get blown away. It was THAT windy!
When I hit the trail near the breakfast spot I decided to not go there as there was still too much snow. I passed the restaurant via the sidewalk thinking maybe I would walk to Derry on sidewalks.

Again, a very short-lived plan. The sidewalk doesn’t go that far, and I am not a fan of busy roads with narrow shoulders. I turned back and took a side road that hit the section of the trail that I bypassed from the other end and took it back. Not great footing but not bad. As a matter of fact, part of it reminded me of a snow cone.

At mile 22 I was back at my home aid station. My feet hurt. I changed shoes again and grabbed a vest and a different hat. Fed the cats, grabbed a bag of chips and was back out again.
I was considering staying in my neighborhood and walking in circles for the next nine miles. By the time I finished the bag of chips and some Gatorade I decided circling the neighborhood was dizzying. And there was one spot I walked by that had this loud whistling noise, courtesy of the wind. That was enough for me.

After two miles of that I headed back out with a bottle of Califia Farms coffee and almond mile. YUMMY! I needed caffeine.
When I hit mile twenty-five (25) it was as if the energizer bunny’s battery inside me died. And instead of smiling and playing his drums, he grimaced and slowly moved his arms but the only sound that came out was a whine.

I have a video of the whine. I sent it to sister and aunt and a girlfriend. All of whom immediately responded with words of encouragement.
“Only six miles to go!”
“You got this!”
“You can wine later!

Yeah, okay, it was only six miles. “Suck it up, buttercup.”
It wasn’t like this was my first 50K. It was, however, the slowest. But I wasn’t going for speed. I wanted the time on my feet.

Sometimes you have to remind yourself why you are doing something to put the pain and mental anguish back where it belongs. When I hit the marathon distance, I marked that as a mental milestone and sent my virtual support crew a text. “Yea, me!”
Five miles left! Then the thought of dinner hit. FOOD! Real food.

A new plan emerged. Walk to get dinner. This is something I do in the summer on a regular basis. Why not now? The idea made me feel better.
I walked to my favorite pizza and sub shop where I ordered my usual grilled chicken in a bowl. My diet is so unexciting. 😊 But I had already been bad with the donut, so I needed to stay on the straight and narrow or in this case, back on the food wagon.

When my order was ready, I realized they put the food in a paper sack with no handles. More whining could have occurred, but it didn’t. Easy fix!
Two doors down from Romano’s was a pharmacy. No, I did not get any pain meds. Although, good thought. I don’t take them. However, caffeine is a different story. I bought a nice bottle of cold Coke.
Two of my favorite things for an endurance even are potato chips and soda.

The cashier at the pharmacy, a very friendly girl offered to give me a big bag for my bottle of Coke and my chicken in a bowl. SCORE!
With food, caffeine, and a bag, I was ready to get this 50K finished. I walked back the direction I came then veered right for a change of pace and scenery. I passed the donut shop on the other side of the road and when I crossed over for my turn, I considered getting another one.

See what foot pain will do to you? The mind is evil! Bad. Very bad! Nope. I only had three miles left and I had food ready to eat as soon as I got home.
The sun was hitting its downward arc and it was chillier. I pushed that out of my mind and reminded myself that I wanted to finish before dark. Then I reach home and looked at my Garmin watch.

Some evil spirit was screwing with me. It was as if someone had deflated a balloon or a tire went flat.

Defeat was THAT close.
It’s funny, I read all kinds of stories about endurance athletes and I have always wondered how anyone could quit with ONLY a mile to go.

I finally get it. I was literally at my home aid station. The start-finish line and still had a mile to go. My feet hurt. I was tired. And I wanted to eat real food. And it was getting close to being dark.
Wow! Do you hear that whine?

I put my chicken and Coke in the garage refrigerator and turned right back around and headed out in the cold and wind to that neighborhood route.
I was a tenth of a mile into that last mile when my cell phone rang. Hey. You bet I carry my cell on an adventure. Even close to home you never know what can happen. Besides, how else do you record your epic adventure?

The call was from my mom. Now, my mom never calls my cell phone. I was surprised. Pleasantly surprised!
The first word out of mom’s mouth, “Where are you? I’ve been trying to reach you all day.”

“I’m doing a 50K and I’m on my last mile.”
“What’s that?”

“Thirty-one miles.”
“__________” SILENCE.

You just have to smile at that reaction.
“Are you okay?

“Yup. Just tired and hungry. I’ll be home in twenty minutes if you want to call me then.”
The best part of that call, aside from talking with my mother? It totally took my mind off the pain and fatigue. I no longer thought about the aching feet and sluggish legs. I forgot about my growling stomach.

I finished the 50K by walking short loops in my driveway.
My neighbors were probably wondering if I had lost my marbles. BUT then they know me.

I completed the MURCA 50K just before sunset.

Afterwards, I went inside, dumped the outer layers and those shoes, grabbed my chicken in a bowl and the Coke then proceeded to get comfy.
My mom did all back and we had a nice conversation where she told me “I worry about you doing these things.”

‘These  things.’
Gotta love my parents. No matter how old or how far away you are, they still worry. They still care.

My response? “I gotta do it while I can. For as long as I can.”
The best part of this event for me on a personal level?

NO BLISTERS! That's a record for me.

Now, if you wall wanna do your own virtual ultra-marathon and support or Veterans, you still have time. Check out this link.


Friday, December 28, 2018

Closing out 2018

As another year ends, I thought it would be fun to reflect on the little moments that made this year spectacular. You know, take some time to remember the happy or best events that shaped this year. To express gratitude, which as you know can actually make you happier.

Try it. Take 30 minutes or more and think of the times that put a smile on your face this year. The times that gave you joy. Try for 5 moments and believe it or not, I bet you even more will start popping into your head.

Write them down. Share here or share with a friend or a loved one over a beer or your favorite hot chocolate, or pizza. See what they come up with.

Here is my list. Believe me there are more, but I had to stop. Hope it works for you and it makes you smile and feel good about the close of 2018.
Grandma at rehab.
Some of my best moments this year revolved around my beautiful, strong, 94-year young grandmother. My grandmother got sick this year and was in the hospital for several weeks. Well, if you knew Maxine (AKA Mad Max as my father likes to refer to her), you’d know she is one tough cookie. She survived the incident, thank goodness and I have pictures of her smiling to prove it.

Grandma with my hat she made.

Grandma made some of the crocheted hats we donated to the homeless Veterans this year. She even made a hat for me. When I got bronchitis in late October grandma called me to check on my health and to tell me I should go stay with her, so she could take care of me. Such wonderful love and spirit this woman, the heart of our family has to give.
The quilt my mom made.
My mother, who battles cancer every day, the daughter of the grandmother I just mentioned is a fighter and the craftiest person I know. She may not do as much as she used to, but when she does, whatever she makes is beautiful. Mom made the cards for our homeless Veterans backpacks. My Christmas gift this year was a quilt made by my mom, Mary. I adore anything handmade/homemade and she knows that what she makes will be treasured.

Dad and I doing a 5K together.
Dad, AKA Pops, is the smartest person I know with the most common sense and the biggest heart. He takes care of everyone in this family, no matter how close or how far. But we all worried when he had to go in for a hip replacement earlier this year. He survived it and he was right back to playing golf the same day the doctor gave him the all clear. Not kidding. He booked the tee time before he went for his last follow up visit. He was not going to be stopped. I get my outdoors and activity mode from my father, Keith. Along with my tenacity.
My nephew and me.

I had a terrific time when my youngest nephew, Brandon came to visit and share his 20th birthday with me. I mean, seriously, how many aunts are lucky enough to have a niece or nephew want to spend a long weekend with them? Me! I enjoyed every minute and I hope Brandon brings his contagious smile, blue eyes, red hair, and his amazing personality back to visit again SOON.

Even though I am so far away from all of my family I hope they know how much joy they bring into my life.
Tough Ruck 2018

This year I had some huge accomplishments in my running/walking. I did my first marathon ruck this year. Twenty-six point two miles with a 22-pound backpack. Talk about tough, but the reward was time spent talking with many active military, retired military, and first responders. Oh, and the embarrassing part of tripping over the finish line. THAT, I will never forget. And the hot fudge sundae as a reward for my efforts. I had so much fun and supported such a fantastic cause - Military Friends Foundation that I am doing it again this year. If you’d like to help me support the Military Friends Foundation, which helps military and first responder families you can donate here:

Me and my support crew.
What brought me to happy tears this year was FINALLY reaching 100 miles in an ultra-event. Actually, it was 101 miles of cold, rain, heat, sweat, and blisters (my nemesis). What made it all the sweeter was not the buckle I received (although that was very cool!) it was having my good friend Renee there to share it with me. She not only walked with me off and on, but she was my support crew. She pulled me out of my funk when I hit bottom, went and got us real food when we could eat no more junk, and suffered through sleeping in the back of my SUV for two nights. How many friends do you know would do that? Heck, I can’t get most my friends to even go to a run and see what I love about ultras. If they only knew what they were missing…
Renee bucket list.

This year Renee and I also did a run from her bucket list – the Marine Corps Marathon. That is by far the best marathon and I know I enjoyed running it with a good friend, the sightseeing we did before and after the event, and just the general good time. Of course getting that medal put over my head by a Marine - there’s a lot of happy tears involved in running, but none more than when you do it with a friend. 😊

Operation Stuffit with family
What brings me much joy and happiness is giving back. This year I saved so I could spend every weekend gathering backpacks and supplies for our local homeless Veterans. I wish this was something that did not need to be done, but it is an honor and a privilege and a way for me to say thank you to the men and women who do so much for us. The culmination of this effort happened on a Saturday evening where I spent four hours with my neighbors and friends who are more like family to me; listening to Christmas music and stuffing the backpacks with care and love in what I refer to as Operation Stuffit. Thank you, Kenny, Donna, Jay, and Lynn not only for your help, but for your friendship and unwavering support.
Speaking of good friends. WOW! Right before Christmas I got to speak with a couple of longtime friends. I’m talking people I have known and loved since high school. I literally sat in my car for 90 minutes talking with Maurine and Duane who I haven’t spoken by phone or seen in years. Amazing how time slips away even after all these years and you realize how much you still have to talk about and how much these people meant to you back then and how much they helped shape who you are today.

I could go on. Like all the text messages my aunt Sheri and sister, Jeanine share weekly. Drives my brother in law nuts when the phone dings repeatedly when we are on a roll, but the three of us have a good time keeping in touch and making sure we know what is happening in our lives. Sharing with each other. Sharing is caring, right?!
See! I told you once you started you would see there were many happy moments, little slices of heaven that occurred throughout the year. Times and events that that make you smile and make you grateful.
I hope you take the time to recognize just a few and take that warm feeling into the new year.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

4VETS4LIFE – help a disabled Veteran

As Veterans Day (November 11) approaches and we thank our Veterans for their service, another organization, 4VETS4LIFE is looking to help disabled Veterans in a big way and they need our help.

4VETS4LIFE has reached out to me in search of wounded Veterans to aid. I’m turning to you all to help get 4VETS4LIFE some names, to point a wounded Veteran you know in their direction.
Our mission: Identify wounded/disabled Veterans who need 4VETS4LIFE help. Pass this on!

4VETS4LIFE mission: Provide vital assistance and support to American wounded Veterans to help them overcome their injuries and re-establish themselves as successful productive members of society.
4VETS4LIFE is looking for TEN disabled Veterans to help. Each qualified Veteran will be awarded $100,000 toward making their future a reality, but they need our help.

Identify a disabled Veteran and 4VETS4LIFE aims to provide them with a home specially modified to meet their specific needs and help restore their personal dignity and provide a building block for their future. 4VETS4LIFE aids disabled Veterans with the essentials to rebuild their lives, including job training, education or building a business or a modified vehicle the disabled Veteran can operate themselves, or even providing a home designed to allow them to improve their lives, despite any disability.
If you know a disabled Veteran, please help him or her get to this link and apply to be a part of the 4VETS4LIFE program to hep them make their future brighter, to help make a dream come true.

There is no deadline, however, only TEN Veterans will be selected for each Program, with the selection of Veterans occurring prior to the start of each Program. The earlier a Veteran application is received, the more likely for that Veteran to be in an earlier Program and be awarded the $100,000 plus potentially a fully rehabilitated, mortgage free home modified to their specific needs.
Go! Help a Veteran and 4VETS4LIFE. Let's make a Veteran's future brighter.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Underwear wrong side out

You wake up in the morning and rush to get cleaned up, dressed and head out the door.  This is an every day occurrence. What happens next...not so every day.

You are sitting on the toilet with your underwear to your knees, no, not to the floor as that’s a guy habit. They drop their drawers to the floor. Any woman who has ever had to share a bathroom with a man knows…no way are we letting our panties touch the tile surrounding the toilet. It’s a result of knowing men have bad aim.

Anyway, you’re sitting there and getting ready to pull everything back up only to discover your underwear are on wrong side out. You have to do a double take. Really?

You’ve done this, right? I mean it happens to everyone. Not just me, right?
Is it a sign of things to come?

Oh, yes!
I fell off the ladder trying to put up the cable wire to the house that had been ripped off during one of the storms. No biggie, I have a tough backside with padding.

In my case it meant slicing my thumb while trying to strip the covering on some electrical wire. By the way, it still hurts.
It meant that even after shutting off the power to the outdoor lights I get electrocuted. Seriously, talk about shocked. I think I jumped fifty feet in the air and yelped. There’s no other word for it. I yelped. Note to self: the electrical box is not necessarily marked correctly.

All in the same day. The day my underwear were on wrong side out.
What happened to you on the day you wore your underwear wrong side out? Was it a sign? Was it a lucky day or unlucky day? Did you win the lottery or stub your toe?

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