Finding time for yourself during the holiday rush

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During the holiday season we give and serve others seemingly non-stop. I personally think this is great. Doing for others helps me remember what this season is really about. As I mentioned in my last post The holiday rush begins, you can easily get overwhelmed and exhausted. You really have to pamper yourself a bit to relax and rejuvenate in order to tackle the next item on your To Do List. What I am suggesting is an inexpensive way to pamper yourself without expending a lot of precious time either.

I am suggesting having your own spa at home. Going to a professional spa can be time consuming, consider the travel time to and from, as well as expensive. I know that when I have treated myself and my niece to a massage, I get so relaxed and comfortable that I don’t want to leave. Spa staff kind of frown on someone sucking up the ambience for hours. This is not a problem if you do your own spa treatments at home. Try these ideas out:

  • Turn off the bathroom lights and burn several fragrant candles. Turn on a heat lamp if you wish (and have one.) Take a refreshing warm bath adding some drops of your favorite essential oil or some bubble bath and relax. Or just take a nice shower using your favorite smelling body wash.
  • Turn on some relaxing music or natural sounds like ocean waves, rainforest sounds, or in this special season, your favorite Christmas music. Guys – if you find listening to a favorite sportscast relaxing, turn it on.
  • Exfoliate your face, and then massage your scalp, temples or upper neck as you stand under the shower spray or soak in the tub. Fresh skin always feels delightful. We carry a lot of tension in our shoulders so along with a relaxing bath, massaging the neck and shoulders is great therapy. Guys – try wrapping a hot towel around your face like they do at the barber shop. That is sure to feel good.
  • Some bar soaps can leave skin dry and flaky. Use a perfumed body wash. Guys – there are some more manly sents out there to enjoy. While I have nothing to do with your shower or bath, I love the smell of musk.
  • Complete your home spa experience with a clean shave. Blot dry and add an emollient to your face, hands, elbows, knees, and feet. Finish off with a splash of body spray, or for the gents, a splash of aftershave.

I guarantee that you will enjoy the experience, and the fresh, clean feeling afterwards. I truly believe you will feel rejuvenated. I might suggest you use lemon or peppermint oils for an invigorating experience. I would love to hear from everyone who tries this to see how the experience was. I’m thinking I might have to treat myself tonight. It is my night off. Sounds delightful! If I didn’t have so much to do today, I’d soak in the tub right now!

You deserve to be good to yourself. Try it and Enjoy!!

The holiday rush begins

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I don’t know about you, but I am not ready for December to be here! Holy Cow! The year has flown by and now we have 23 days until Christmas. Are you ready? I have the tree up and trimmed and the stockings hung over the fireplace. My grandchildren were here this past weekend and so we had to get the tree. It really is a delight to have small children around trimming the tree, and they most definitely hung the stockings with care. They get so excited. Their joy is contagious.

I have done a little on-line Christmas gift shopping in the last 2 days, but that’s it. The nativity scene isn’t out on the mantle yet. I have purchased the Christmas cards, but haven’t started them. I guess I shouldn’t fret about that since it is only December 2nd. The Thanksgiving cheesecake I made for a friend, which was not made until after Thanksgiving, mind you, is still undelivered. I guess late is better than not at all. This is on my to-do list for tomorrow.

As you can tell I am beginning to feel the pinch on just how much has to be done before the Big Day. Do you have a ton of things on your holiday To Do list? Do you have to scramble or are you able to fit it all in without pulling your hair out? Best wishes to you for a peaceful and productive month.

Each year I try to simplify. And each year I plan to start things earlier. Well, I guess in some respects, I did. I already have the wrapping paper and the cards. That is a start, meager though it is. I have always started my Christmas shopping in July, but this year was a bit too broke. I just don’t appreciate the fact that the calendar sneaks up on me and when I turn around Thanksgiving has come and gone! When it gets to Thanksgiving time, I would like the calendar to roll back a month. I just need a little more time. But since it hasn’t cooperated with my request here I am.

I have decided that this year I am going to add more service to my celebration. I think service will make the holiday season a lot better. Our church has started a 25 days of Christmas service initiative based on the life of the Savior Jesus Christ, who is the focus of my holiday.

I would like to list a few here for you that might be something you would like or be able to do.

  • Call, not text, your parents. My father is in heaven as you know. But my precious mother is still alive and I confess that it has been a while since I have called her. Shame on me!
  • Find an old pair of eyeglasses and donate them to a vision charity. Here in Southern California, we have the Lions Club that provides glasses for those in need.
  • Point out a virtue in someone they don’t see in themselves.
  • Donate non-perishable items to a food bank. Most grocery stores have a bin in which to place items.
  • Invite a neighbor on a tight budget over dinner. You are fixing dinner anyway. Why not just add another place setting at the table.
  • Spend 1 on 1 time with each of your children or grandchildren.

These are inexpensive ideas that will make the lives of others and yourself much happier. A little time and a little money, like for the food donation, are all that are required. And though I have been lamenting that there is not enough time until Christmas, even I can fit these things in.

If you would like the whole list of service activities for the 25 days of Christmas please let me know. Or, if you would like, you can go directly to mormon.org and find the heading for “Light of the World.”

And while you are serving others, don’t forget it is okay to give yourself a little service time. You can’t share with others out of an empty well. The rule of thumb on an airplane is to apply your own oxygen mask and then you are in a position to help others with their masks. I have some easy and pleasant ideas for serving yourself in the following Sugar and Spice Advice column.

I wish you a very merry holiday season!

(Re)Moving Mountains

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The man who removes mountains begins
by carrying away small stones.
~ Chinese Proverb

Book Review: Killer Takes All by Erica Spindler

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Killer Takes All
By Erica Spindler

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small,
And the ones that mother gives
Don’t do anything at all,
Go ask Alice
When she’s 10 feet tall.

And if you go chasing rabbits…
~ White Rabbit by Jefferson Starship

The White Rabbit is a role playing game in this book by Erica Spindler and it is lethal. The White Rabbit is the game master and his/her goal is to destroy every other character to be the undisputed champion. In this game, the good Wonderland characters have all become evil. Alice and her team of ”good guys” must defeat the white rabbit and restore peace to Wonderland. As in the book, Alice and Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, nothing is what it seems. The game was originally designed for computer play, but someone has made it real and is killing people in order to be the last one standing, thus the title of the Winner Takes All.

The game was originally created by a couple of bright students at Berkeley years ago. One partner died and the other, Leo Noble, inherited all the rights and profits. He and his family begin to receive unique hand drawn cards of the Wonderland characters, only they are shown murdered in gruesome manner. Leo, his wife, Kay, and their daughter, Alice, are afraid for their lives.

Just prior to the Nobles receiving the cards, Stacy Killian, an ex-Dallas PD detective, now turned literature grad student, hears a sound one night. This is a sound with which she is very familiar – a gun shot. She checks on her friends in the other half of the duplex and finds them shot to death. Civilian though she is, she decides to aide the detectives assigned to the case. Doing so draws her into the game and her life is now in danger.

The book leads the reader on a suspense filled chase through Wonderland. Who will be the next victim? Can Stacy guide the New Orleans detectives to the game master before she gets killed? I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and give it 5 of 5 stars.

One thing that I found interesting was the author’s comment in the brief biography on the fly leaf. Ms. Spindler loves her family and God. In MHO I thought it was a bit incongruent in regards to loving God but using swear words in the book. That’s just me. I am glad that there were no sex scenes. The story was really well done.

Happy Reading!

Defective Dog

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MAMA VICKY SAYS…

I want my money back! You sold me a defective dog.

I have been robbed! I was tricked into buying Mr. Pete. The seller wasn’t honest, and my animal loving daughter gave me her pleading puppy dog eyes, and so I ended up with a dog from a Mexican puppy mill (We had sworn we would never buy from a mill.) who turned out to be a stinking Chihuahua with literally a birth defect. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. It would have helped greatly if I had I known street Spanish. (I speak medical Spanish.)

We get home with the little puppy, pull off the blanket, and I realize that this is not a golden lab at all. It’s an ankle biter! He also came with a ½ inch bald spot on his right side. When I felt the spot it has a teeny weeny hump in the middle of it. Because this is a family friendly blog, I will use the adult term for what it reminds me of – a vestigial nipple. Oh my gosh! We bought a hermaphrodite dog! After giving the dog more than one once over, it was clear he had no other interesting structures of that nature. And we did have to get him neutered.

That is his obvious physical defect. Do you know how old it gets having to assure each veterinarian that he visits that he was born with this and it is not cancer? They just don’t seem to believe me.

He has several other interesting/annoying traits. People who don’t own him think those habits are endearing, but if this was their dog, they would definitely find his oddities annoying and frustrating. For example, walking Mr. Pete can be a pain in the flying buttress! He weighs 6 pounds on a good day. Yet, when big dogs come near him he not only barks at them but the hackles on his back stand up, and if he didn’t have a leash on, he would charge at them. He challenges them. One of these big canines would make an appetizer out of him in 1 bite. We have been unable to get him to break this habit. He has a Napoleon complex and needs a doggy psychiatrist. By the way, Mr. Pete did flunk obedience school.

Who’s dog empties his bladder doing a handstand? I want to find one other dog that does this. It’s either a phenomenon or an anomaly, depending on how you look it at. If I were a You Tube kind of person, I guess I could film it and put in on the internet. It would probably go viral, but I don’t want millions of people to associate me with Mr. Pete. I am serious. He does handstands to urinate. He even walks a couple of steps on his front legs. I do get a chuckle when he is a bit off balance and tips into a bush. (I know. I am evil.)

He also does not get the concept of playing fetch. He has a rope toy. When it is thrown he will go get it, but he either will bring it back but not let go of it, or he gets it and then lays down and chews on it. He understands when he is told to get his rope, but he doesn’t understand the words “drop it.” Remember, he flunked puppy training.

He used to fit in a small purse and that was kind of cute. Now he doesn’t, even though he is small. Oh, by the way, we were told by the evil woman who sold us the dog that he was a miniature model. Miniature, my eye. For a small dog he sure can hog my bed. He rarely sleeps with his real mother, Daphne. If I want to roll over, there is this lump in the center of the bed that doesn’t budge. I actually awaken a bit and physically have to push him out of the spot my belly is wanting to occupy. Oh, and he doesn’t want to sleep under the sheets. No, not him. He expects the comforter to be lifted so that he can climb under it and be between the layers of the bed. Gee whiz! I get no respect from my children, and I don’t even get any from the family dog!

He barks like a maniac and has not responded to any methods to shut him up. I am certain that at least one of our neighbors hates him. I can understand that. And no one that I have offered to give him to has accepted. He’s 56 in people years and has definitely not shown any maturity. Well, I guess that’s not such a big deal. I know several men that old who show no maturity either.

I have a feeling that I will never get a refund, find the lying wench who sold him to us so I can punch her in the nose, nor will he take 1st place in the Westminster Kennel Club competition. What’s a mother to do?

Bow wow! Bow wow! Blog you later!

True Greatness

Contrary to what we might often think,
greatness does not come only because of strength and power;
true greatness requires humility.
~ Barbara Lewis

Blog Tour/Book Review: In the Blue Hour by Elizabeth Hall

untitled3About In the Blue Hour

Paperback: 316 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (November 1, 2016)

Elise Brooks dreams of a car accident on an icy road. Weeks later, her beloved husband, Michael, is killed in just such a crash. Now, overcome with grief and uncertainty, Elise believes his spirit may be following her in the form of a raven, trying to tell her something from beyond the grave.

Desperate to understand the signs, Elise embraces both the Native American wisdom she grew up with and the world of psychics and seers. So when a tarot-card reader suggests she take a journey to the mysterious address found in Michael’s old jacket, she embarks on a cross-country trek to follow the clues.

Accompanied by Tom Dugan, an engineer and scientist who does not believe in psychics, mediums, or the hoodoo “conjure woman” they encounter on the road, Elise navigates the rituals and omens of the spirit world in an attempt to unravel the mystery of her husband’s message.

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My Review

It is the dark gray-black of midnight and Elise hears the car coming up the mountain pass, crunching snow as it climbs. She now sees the silver car as it tries to negotiate the slick turns, only to see the car miss a turn and slide to the edge of the cliff. The clouds block her view, but Elise can hear the sound of crunching metal as the car makes its way through the trees and rocks to settle at the bottom of the canyon. No one could survive this. As the clouds scuttle by she sees a black bird fly up from the wreckage, and soar off into the night. She has had this dream for quite some time now, months in fact. What does it mean, if anything? If she tells her husband of the dream will he think she’s crazy? She keeps the dream tucked into the recesses of her soul, only to later wish she had told someone.

Elise is a recent widow of 8 months who now lives alone in the cabin atop a mountain in New Mexico. She and her Native American husband, Michael, designed and built this together. They were soulmates and had been married for 25 years. Now Michael is gone, and the cabin feels more like a prison. She cannot escape her depression. She has never been anyone but Michael’s wife, and realizes she does not have an identity of her own.

Every now and then she thinks she hears Michael’s voice or sees something out of the corner of her eye, but it is gone before she can turn her head and identify it. Her best friend, Monica, tries to coax her off the mountain for an outing. She reluctantly goes and by accident, is it really an accident?, she come across a woman selling gem stones at the market place. The woman is a complete stranger, yet she knows things about Elise that no stranger should. Elise is shaken by what this woman knows, and because of this she is propelled forward to take a journey looking for answers.

At every turn, there is the black raven watching her. Elise is certain that this is the same bird that flew up from the wreckage of the car in her dreams. She is coming to believe that this raven carries the soul of Michael and that Michael has something to tell her.

Do you believe in an afterlife? Do you believe that spirits of the dead can contact you now? Do you think they might have a message for you? A wise man of religion once said that the veil between this world and the next is very thin.

Elise’s grandmother, Beulah, was a stern and unfriendly woman. Living with her blocked out joy. At times, though, she and Beulah would stand together outside as the afternoon turned into the deep ice-blue of dusk. Her grandmother called it the blue hour. It was the time of the evening when the veil between the living and the dead was at its thinnest and it might be possible to make a connection with the departed. At the age of 7 this would creep out Elise. She didn’t want to have any connection with the departed. She pictured them as evil zombies and creatures like that.

Now at the age of 48, Elise is not sure if this is true. She desperately wants to connect with Michael again, even if it is only just once. She misses him so much. What is he trying to tell her? As she takes this journey, there are so many things she doesn’t understand. She does not know what to believe or who to trust.

Only by reading this book will you be able to find out what is hiding in the blue hour. Is Elise nuts and the things she is told, are they lucky guesses or true? Are there really such things as mediums and psychics? Are you analytical and could you explain these things away by rational thought or scientific methods? As you read, you may even end up asking yourself what you believe? Is contact with the dead possible? Is it evil or good to do so? Why try to communicate with the dead anyway?

The author weaves a very good tale. It is not just a story, though. It is a thought provoking novel that encourages the reader to think what about what she/he believes. I enjoyed this book. I was a tad disappointed in the ending, but then, I had already made up my mind as to what I expected. The ending was a lot different than I had anticipated, yet it fit with the story line. As you read will you assume the same conclusion I was anticipating or would the ending be what you thought would happen? The only way to know is if you read the book for yourself.

I would give this novel 4 of 5 stars.

 

 

About Elizabeth Halluntitled4

Elizabeth Hall, author of Miramont’s Ghost, has worked as a teacher, communications consultant, and radio host. She spent many years in the mountains of Colorado and now resides in the Pacific Northwest, where she indulges in the fiber arts of knitting, beading, and weaving.

 

 

Elizabeth Hall’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS

Tuesday, November 1st: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Wednesday, November 2nd: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Thursday, November 3rd: Books A La Mode (Guest Post/Giveaway)

Friday, November 4th: Bibliotica

Monday, November 7th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Tuesday, November 8th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, November 9th: Write Read Life

Thursday, November 10th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, November 14th: Kahakai Kitchen

Tuesday, November 15th: Wall to Wall Books

Wednesday, November 16th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, November 17th: Broken Teepee

Monday, November 21st: Chick Lit Central

Tuesday, November 22nd: Mama Vicky Says

Wednesday, November 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller

TBD: Brooke Blogs

 

Movie Night: Bound By a Secret DVD Review

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Bound by a Secret
A Movie on DVD

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Jane (played by Lesley Ann Warren) is a highly successful soap opera star. Her best friend is Ida Mae (played by Meredith Baxter). While Jane gave up everything to become a star, Ida Mae was happy to stay in their old home town. Ida Mae is a home body. Jane has traveled the world.

Things suddenly shift when Jane gives up her starring role in the soap opera and returns to her hometown and stays with Ida Mae. She has end stage cancer and does not have long to live. She has not shared this with anyone.

Ida Mae has a lovely daughter who is married and has blessed her with a lovely granddaughter. Her family means everything to her. When Jane arrives she and Ida Mae’s friendship is tested to the breaking point. When Jane begins giving Ida Mae’s daughter advice, the tension builds because her advice is exactly opposite of Ida’s. Both ladies have some growing to do. And if they can’t work it out, a shocking secret from their past could come to light and ruin everything.

I don’t like crying, even when the movie is very emotional. However, Daphne and I both were shedding a few crocodile tears as we watched this movie together. Make sure to have a box of tissue handy because this movie is a definite tear jerker. The movie was a 5 out of 5 star film. The performances were well done. The story line was believable. We liked both Jane and Ida Mae. They were strong characters despite their flaws. We understood both of their sides of the arguments. So glad we didn’t have to make the tough decisions they did.

Daphne and I don’t often agree on what movies are good. We both enjoyed “Bound by a Secret”. So if we both liked it, you can be sure it is worth watching. Just don’t forget the tissues!

The benefits of doing 10,000 steps a day

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You worked hard all day and now you are too pooped out to hit the gym on the way home like you had planned. There are days like that. I know I have them often. Get my long evening walk in? Well, it’s the dog’s walk, too, at our home. But no, thanks. Not tonight. Point me to the nearest Lazy Girl recliner. And by the way, please bring me my slippers.

Did you know that you can burn off calories on the job? We’ll go over a few ideas. That way you won’t feel as guilty for skipping the gym. The family dog may not be thrilled to miss his evening constitutional. But toss him a doggy cookie and he’ll forget all about it.

The goal is to move the equivalent of 10,000 steps a day. Meeting this goal can help you maintain and even lose weight. Don’t forget to pair it with a healthy diet. Many workers in the USA have sedentary jobs, commutes, jam packed schedules, and family commitments and getting exercise in can be tough. Research shows that many Americans are not even getting in 6000 steps a day. For many of us biking or walking to work is not feasible.

So what is a person to do? Try these few easy ideas and you’ll add as much as 2000 steps to your day:

  • Exchange your high heels or loafers for a pair of tennies, sneakers, or other workout shoe and use your lunch break as a chance to walk and get some fresh air. Have a co-worker partner with you. You will be more likely to get that walk in routinely. Don’t walk past the vending machines. Instead bring a healthy lunch from home.
  • Park as far from the entrance to your building as you can. Skip the elevator and take the stairs. Visit the farthest powder room, drinking fountain, or copy machine. Gather your team together for a brainstorming session outdoors. During training session break times don’t run to the coffee cart. Walk around the building taking in some deep breaths.
  • Time to load up the family car for baseball practice or ballet lessons. After dropping off the children where they need to be, take a 10 to 20 minute walk while waiting for them to be done.
  • Invest in a pedometer or one of the new fangled tracking bracelets. After resisting the technology, I did break down and got a tracking bracelet for myself. I love it. It is a great way to clock your progress and can motivate you to keep moving to reach your daily goal.

It is true that you can squeak in some exercise even on a busy day. Remember that walks even as short as 10 minutes can help with depression symptoms and renew your energy.

10,000 steps a day can keep the pounds away! Who wouldn’t be excited about that?

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Quotes I Like

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I was given a book of quotes written or said by grouchy people
by a dear friend of mine. I couldn’t pick just one so here are a few.

There was no respect for youth when I was young,
and now that I am old,
there is no respect for age.
I missed it coming and going.
~ J.B. Priestley

If you can’t say anything good about someone,
sit right here by me.
~ Alice Roosevelt Longworth

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.
~ Oscar Wilde

I am tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep.
That’s enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas?
~ Jean Kerr

Television is a device that permits people who haven’t anything to do
watch people who can’t do anything.
~ Fred Allen