Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's almost here... Happy New Year!

In about 2 more hours, we East Coasters will be celebrating the beginning of 2012-the start of a new year.

What plans do you have in store? Do you have any resolutions made? I almost always make a resolution... and then break it a few weeks down the road. :( Just wanted to pop on and wish you all a happy, healthy new year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I wonder if there is a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow? We tried to find the end, but unfortunately never quite made it :)

Take time to enjoy life, cherish what you have, and look forward to the future. As 2011 is almost over, I look back and see it was a rough year health wise for me, but I am hoping that with positive lifestyle changes I will have a better 2012.

Work has been busy, I've been busy wrapping those last gifts up and getting them ready to put under the tree I have yet to buy. Normally I am not this late, but it looks like we will be getting a tree a few days before the holidays and keep it up until just after New Years. I am leaning towards a smaller, fake tree this year (Oh the horror! hubby says lol) We shall see :)

Enjoy the rest of this busy week, and enjoy the holidays with friends and family...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Some Guatemalan Architechture

We took this pic this past July in San Juan Sacatepéquez where hubby's daughter lives... It was a nice ride from the city to the highlands, the views were gorgeous-if not a bit dangerous, lol... I was always thinking our car was going to plunge off the ravine with no guardrails!

The region is known for growing flowers-actually my husband's daughter is married to someone whose family business is flowers. They own two stalls in the Guatemala City Central Market, and do quite well. I just don't envy them having to drive every day to work in bumper to bumper traffic. (at least no snow, sleet, or freezing rain to slow them down!) We got there around 9 am, and the market was in full swing. Lots of gorgeous flowers, food, and veggies for sale.

I have to admit though, that I did get a few looks being blonde, but nothing out of the ordinary. Though I do think they wonder what on Earth I am doing in a truck full of Guatemalans with no other Gringos nearby. I was shocked to see the residents wearing gold jewelry and chains-something you don't do in the city if you value your life. It was explained to me that they have their own justice system, and think nothing of lynching you for being a thief. I guess the week before I was there, two women had come from the capital in the hopes of passing fake money around in the market. They were soon discovered, stripped nude, heads shaved and beaten by the crowd before the police took them away. Guess they will never show up in that town again! (and to be honest, they are lucky they made it out alive.)

One hint, this region is also known for wooden furniture. Their work is gorgeous! The closer you get to the city the higher you pay of course, but if you are willing to travel a bit and have a truck, you can score a good deal on handmade wooden furniture. I've already told hubby I'm bringing my mother in law along when the time comes for me to buy some furniture... she can bargain pretty darn good!

So if you are in the market for furniture, flowers, or a nice local market-head to San Juan Sacatepéquez where the locals are friendly and things can be had for a good price. :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

What's Been Happening Lately...

I realize it has been awhile since I have posted :(

It kind of stinks because I had hoped to post more but have been busy cleaning house, working out of the home (this is our busiest time of year) and dealing with health issues.

Soon I will begin the move upstairs to hopefully help with my respiratory issues. I'm going to be getting some work done by outside contractors and get some new windows put in upstairs as well. (hopefully before Christmas!)

I so miss writing in my blog, and having giveaways and things like that-I loved having new visitors and reading comments from my readers. I don't even have a tree up yet (which irritates my daughter to no end lol) because I am not sure when the contractors will be in and I have to move things around in the house while this process is going on-which means no room in the usual spots for a tree. Although if they are done before the holidays, I might end up putting a small tree in the upstairs hallway in front of one of the new windows.

I am still around, visiting other blogs as time allows, and getting online when I can. At work we are so backed up with files it is crazy-but I've got a great bunch of co-workers and while it is stressful at times, we all do the best that we can given the circumstances.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and got some great deals on Black Friday (if that is your thing lol) and I will try to squeeze in a post or two before Christmas! Have a great weekend everyone ;)

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Yes, I have been missing in action! I needed to take a bit of a break with the hectic work schedule going on currently. Plus, some of my ongoing health issues have been diagnosed. I am in the process of trying to get my upstairs ready so that hubby and I can move to the upstairs bedroom my son left behind. Our daughter is ready to go into her room upstairs as well.

We have a forced hot air heating system, and every winter I am incredibly sick. Blood tests show I have a hypersensitivity to mold dust and now things are starting to fall in place. Of course, one of the treatments is to avoid the dust and get mold abatement. That costs in the thousands and is WAY out of my pocketbook range. Hubby has taken steps to clean up a bit in the basement and add cement around the house so that water flows away from the foundation, not towards it. Snow run off has been a big problem, and for several years it has been leaking into our foundation wall... causing mold, mildew and then forcing all that dust into the house via the air ducts. In the summer, the humid, moldy smell was terrible. A dehumidifier has helped quite a bit.

I now sit in my bedroom, the heating grate is covered with cheesecloth to filter out some particles, and hubby changes the furnace filters every month or so. I have a HEPA air purifier in my room and use it daily. I see a pulmonary doctor every 6 months, and have to undergo breathing tests along with blood tests to monitor the level of damage to my lungs. I will tell you, it sucks. Some people are allergic (or as they say hypersensitive) to the mold-I am one of them. Other people it won't bother. I noticed a big difference when I was in Guatemala earlier this year, I was actually well with no chest pain or shortness of breath for 3 weeks out of the 4 that I was there.

Anyways, I have been busy moving upstairs... cleaning out things, throwing out things-but it all takes time, and I can only do a little per day with a mask on to avoid getting particles in my lungs. (Yes, my CT scan shows damage to the lungs) By keeping primarily upstairs where there is no forced hot air heat (I will be using electric heaters, there goes the light bill lol) I hope to reduce the amount of damage being done-walking away from my home is not feasible right now-but one day I do hope to return to Guatemala and at least there I will not have to use heat much-and when I do, I will use a clean wood burning stove and/or gas monitor built into the wall to take the chill off. Living in Maine, the heat is on most of the year-and then with the humid summers the mold growth really takes off, so it has become a vicious cycle.

So there you have it, I apologize to my readers for this break in posting-I hope to post again soon but it promises to be a crazy few months until I can get established upstairs. Kind of sucks being a prisoner in 1-2 rooms (though I will have to go downstairs to cook, for the bathroom etc...)but so be it as I want to be healthy. Have a great Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

check out the awesome ribs (the day before we had burgers and hotdogs) and of course guess who we got to see? Yup, Montgomery Gentry was playing and their bus was right behind the Coors Light VIP bus... so what do you think I did?

Sharing some pics from the races!

We had a SUPER time thanks to Coors Light Beer who provided us with a VIP Experience at Loudon (Who'd have thought you could win something like that from a text message?!) We had to provide our own way down and stayed a couple of nights in Nashua, NH (and got to try out a nice small Brazilian buffet restaurant called Sabor Brasil on Friday night too)-but MillerCoors Brewing Company provided us with a fun experience right from the start.

We picked up our credentials on Friday night, and got to the track nice and early on Saturday. I was impressed that we got picked up and dropped off in their cute little Coors Light golf carts...boy those things go fast! And of course a bit shocked to find out that we were not getting seats, but would be watching the races from the middle of the field where all the famous drivers etc... were parked! Wow! Now I was not about to climb up on top of the bus like hubby did since he was much more adventurous than me... (and I figured I would fall on my fat butt and make a fool of myself)! Hubby loved the bird's eye view of the track and I loved watching him have fun and drink those free beers ;) Me? Well, I was driving back so let him enjoy himself both Saturday and Sunday. Plus, I wandered around a bit and got pics of the cars close up and sat down under the tents and watched the race from the TV that was on the side of the party bus. (heat and I don't always agree-and it was a hot weekend for Mid-September)

Those buses are amazing! Inside and out, total luxury... I was sooo jealous! These people definitely ride in style. Sunday, with all the people at the race, and hubby having to get back early for work-we didn't stay until the end of the main event... With traffic and all, it might have been hours before we got home-so although we really didn't want to, we had to leave with 64 laps still remaining in the race. But heck, that's what I have a smartphone for-at least we got to keep track of what was going on via my smartphone and see who won :)

We had great food, lots of beer provided, great conversation with some of the other people there, and of course a wonderful behind the scenes NASCAR Experience that will provide us with lots of great memories for many years to come. (Does hubby posing with the Coors Light girl count?) lol! I'm sure he won't forget THAT memory!

So for your viewing pleasure... enjoy a few pics on this post and a few others of the great experience we had at the Sylvania 300 in Loudon, NH thanks to MillerCoors Brewing Company and Hollywood Productions!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Heading to the Races...

In a few hours I will be spending the weekend at Loudon-NH Motor Speedway-for the NASCAR Sylvania 300 races! I was lucky enough to win a sweepstakes (by text entry of all things!) that was an All Access Weekend (pit passes, extra events, etc...) courtesy of Coors Light Beer~

Hubby loves his beer, and this time when picking up some CL for him and his buddies I noticed the promotion materials for the text to win sweepstakes and just happened to put it into my new smartphone and a day or two after the contest ended I got the call that I won.

About 5 years ago we'd gone to the races at Loudon on a very HOT July Sunday-we had a great time and it was super fun, we like going to the local races but even though I don't follow Nascar as much as I should just being there with other die hard fans and seeing the excitement of the race is a fun experience. I'm one of these people who can't watch a race on TV (although my dad did) I have to BE THERE to enjoy it.

We've got a 2 hour or a little more drive ahead of us, hubby managed to get a few hours in at work last night so he is sleeping as I write this. We will miss our 9 yr old daughter (who is staying with Grandma) but it will be a nice weekend away for us.

Enjoy your weekend and I hope to have some great pics (if the camera and laptop don't give me trouble like usual) of the racing events and the race up on the blog soon. Thanks so much Coors Light (MillerCoors) I am looking forward to a great weekend ahead!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001

I remember the day clearly. I was living in Rhode Island and on my way to the hospital to get my blood pressure and sugar levels checked since I was pregnant with my daughter and had gestational diabetes.

I had stopped off at the local Guatemalan restaurant in Providence to pay the landlord the rent money for the next month and when I walked in to the vacant restaurant he was standing there watching the TV in awe. As he wrote out the rent receipt, he told me that a plane had crashed into the first tower and they weren't sure if it was an accident or an act of terrorism. Seeing that plume of thick, black smoke rising from the building I knew instantly that whatever had was not good.

I headed to the hospital, a mere 4 hours away from NYC and saw scenes of chaos as doctors, nurses, and even patients were glued to televisions and computers showing live feed from the various news stations. While there, the second plane hit the remaining tower. Tears flowed freely as we struggled to comprehend what had just happened. It seemed certain now that this was no accident. Staff and patients began calling loved ones all over, many had family in NYC and were concerned about what had happened. I tried to reach my husband, working in the Boston suburbs at the time after learning that the hijacked planes had taken off from Boston. The cell phone grid was not working-calls wouldn't go in or out-and the same for the landline pay phones. Numerous calls on both resulted in a fast busy signal-which made me nervous.

My family in Maine was of course worried, and I finally got through to my grandmother, assuring her that all was okay with me and my son and husband. As I headed home from Providence, it seemed surreal. Security was tight, and I could see that all forms of public transportation (buses, Amtrak, etc...) were being tightly checked in downtown Providence as suspicion was lurking everywhere. Traffic took some time to get past various checkpoints, but soon enough, I was on the freeway, headed home. A quick call to the school assured me that all was fine with my son and that they were keeping the news from the children for as long as possible. Some parents had gone to get their children, I opted to let my son finish out the day at school and continued watching the news from home while I waited for him to arrive.

I finally was able to reach my husband's cell phone and he confirmed that the construction crew had shut down for the day and was watching the news in the lunchroom along with Gillette staff. Boston airport was locked down, and security was very tight. Due to that, and the traffic backed up for miles at other checkpoints he wasn't sure when he was going to be home. I decided that rest was probably the best thing for me at the time, and headed to the bed to watch TV and relax, as my blood pressure had raised quite a bit since all of this happened.

A little after 2pm, my almost 9 yr old son arrived home and came and laid down next to me and we spent the afternoon cuddling and watching the events unfold on TV. Probably the worst thing to see was the video of people jumping to their deaths-it was horrible-and so sad to watch. Frustration took over, and I wondered why some of the people that had made it to the roof weren't evacuated by helicopters before the buildings collapsed. Why were we watching these people that had gone up to the safety of the roof and higher floors die so needlessly? I am sure they thought that someone would rescue them from the rooftop.

After what seemed like an eternity, hubby arrived home and we turned on the Spanish TV station so he could watch the news in Spanish. I didn't feel like cooking, so we ordered out, opting for a pizza delivery because no one wanted to leave our apartment. I called my family again in Maine, and he called his family in Guatemala, telling them we were all okay in Rhode Island.

Now, 10 years later, the memories are still fresh in my mind. What I was doing, what I did, how I reacted and what this did to America as a country. My daughter, who wasn't born at the time, knows something terrible happened but really doesn't understand much about the event. She knows today our country is sad and it is an important day in remembrance of those we lost, and it defined the path that our country has taken in the war against terrorism. She didn't know why people were so happy and celebrating when Bin Laden was killed but in watching the tribute to 9/11 on the 10th anniversary today she has a better idea of why so many were celebrating his death earlier this year.

Just like those before me who will remember where they were when Kennedy was killed, or when the bombs dropped in Japan-I will always remember where I was on 9/11/2001. My sympathies go to those that have lost a loved one, the first responders who so bravely gave their lives and their health to help those in need, and those that have lost family and friends in the war against terrorism-wars brought on by the events of 9/11.

Monday, September 5, 2011

More Guatemalan Food!

Since I seem to be writing about food lately, take a look at the $3.50 USD steak dinner I got in Guatemala (Puerto San Jose) and hubby's seafood stew. (now while he swears it was delicious, it is not something I would touch! lol)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Guatemalan Food

I am seriously missing Guatemalan street food... Even though the doctors will tell ya, DON'T EAT FROM THE STREET VENDORS before you go abroad AND then proceed to give you more shots and medicine that you ever thought you needed-once you get there, you WILL want to eat. Especially if everyone else around you is chowing down on something that looks and smells delicious and it happens to be lunch time and your tummy is rumbling loud enough to rival a summer thunderstorm.

I went to the market, and lo and behold there are tons of people selling everything under the sun. Including food. And drink. It couldn't get any better than that, people. But although I do love street food (similar to our own Fair food lol...)I DO have some standards.

I saw some wonderful smelling dobladas at the market, but on closer inspection noticed that they were cooking in a frypan, in their own grease, and while they may have smelled (and probably tasted) wonderful-I had no desire for a full-blown gallbladder attack later that evening. So if you can look for items cooked on a BBQ type grill where the grease drips down that is helpful. My mother in law told me that the reason those particular dobladas were so darn greasy was because the meat they were using was the cheap, greasy type-lucky for me we found a vendor close by that sold them every other day, going house to house selling them with a cart-that were great tasting and not greasy at all.

Also high on the standards list-look around to see if the vendor cart or cooking area, utensils, condiments, etc... appear to be clean. If you are looking at a grill or cooking surface that hasn't been cleaned in awhile, or condiments containers with baked on, caked on ketchup, mayo etc... then you are asking for trouble later on. I don't add mayo to anything myself, hubby does though on his mixtas (hotdogs with a bunch of condiments rolled in tortillas) but sometimes a dish you order MAY include mayo and you don't know it. Make sure the mayo is fresh and refrigerated! One thing I noticed there is that they have margarine that is made from veggie oil, which does NOT need to be refrigerated. I was a little shocked to see margarine sticks in my mother in laws house lying on the table etc... but after reading the label I was less alarmed. All in all, it was a bit of a different taste from the "dairy" type of margarine sticks here (which they do sell there as well) but I really couldn't tell much of a difference when it was on my buttered corn on the cob or used to cook with.

Another thing to remember-flies. If the vendor covers up their items with saran wrap or aluminum foil, kudos to them. But if flies are buzzing around and landing on the food, it totally grosses me out. That being said, I know I did eat several times from vendors that had flies buzzing around their stands. Even at relatives houses, flies were a normal way of life in the kitchen as they do not have screened windows or doors. I made a mental note to buy those yellow fly strips on my next visit to keep in a corner of the kitchen to hopefully cut down on the fly population. In the meantime, I just grinned and ate After all, I eat out here in the US a lot, and we don't really know what happens in those restaurant kitchens now, do we?

Salt. It is totally different down there. Yes, they have the kind of salt we use here in the US. But over there, all of the vendors I saw and relatives we visited kept a baggie of salt next to their ovens and also on the table. People just reached in and grabbed a pinch or two with their fingers and sprinkled it on their foods. But the salt there tended to stick together, and it was clumped together more and felt different. Almost like it was humid or slightly wet. I was concerned that it was spoiled, but that wasn't the case. When sprinkled over the food, it tended to be clumped together, and at times I wished for the salt we had back home that spread out more over the food. I don't think this type of salt could be used in a traditional shaker as well, since it would tend to clump up at the top and not come through the holes. Other than the different texture and clumping issues, it tasted the same.

I am one of these people who is a finicky eater. I do not like to try lots of new things. Hubby has a way of getting me to try new things without knowing it-like the time he told me our Brazilian friend Joao was serving a nice roast beef-and only after I had eaten it up and said it was delicious did he confess to me I had eaten deer meat. Oh the horror of eating Bambi! I could have KILLED him! Same in Guatemala, I will try something if it appeals to me visually but I prefer NOT to know what I am eating...or at least what animal/part of the animal I am eating. I tried a lot of great tasting things down there, and hubby was pretty darn good about keeping a secret too ;) (or at least keeping his mouth shut!)

As I wrap up this post, I will leave you with a pic of hubby eating from a traditional street vendor. (note the firewood they use to cook their food over) We all ate from this particular vendor, and what she was selling was chicharrones and cheese inside of thick handmade corn tortillas. They were delicious, not greasy at all, and CHEAP!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Surgery for mom tomorrow! And a shot for me...ugh

Tomorrow my mom has total knee replacement surgery and I have to have a shot (or shots!) in the evening clinic for 2 ganglion cysts on my left wrist. I am NOT thrilled, life has been very difficult these past few weeks, MONTHS-actually.

But enough whining! Once I get things back to normal, and am sure my mom is ok then I will post my $20 GC giveaway. No one posted as to what gift card they would like, so I guess I am going to surprise you all! I promise to make it simple and easy-and hope to try out rafflecopter in the process too since that seems like the way most blogs are heading when conducting giveaways.

Hope to be posting by Wednesday if all goes well!

(hubby has been busy putting a cement barrier around the house to keep the water from pooling and leaking in to the basement-dehumidifier is still going strong and more work needs to be done-but it is a start!)

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Quick Update...

Well folks, a quick update on my mold issue... we got a dehumidifier and that baby is sucking out the water pretty darn good. It does need to be emptied every 8 hours, and it's the 45 pint dehumidifier, so that probably gives you an idea of what kind of moisture we are lookin' at.

My house smells better when you walk in, thank goodness, and although the moldy smell still is in the basement area, it is not as bad either. I really hope we can fix things, because our mortgage is cheap and definitely affordable. Hoping to have some professionals come and take a peek and tell me what we are looking at repair wise in a few days-I've also been cleaning like a crazy woman trying to throw out what isn't needed any more.

It is amazing how quickly stuff accumulates :) and at the risk of saying my house resembles something out of the Hoarders series right now, I have to say it's true. But that's because I am busy moving things from room to room, and the living room happens to be the place I am doing my sorting at, and anything that smells the least bit moldy goes in the trash bag. Lucky for me, my daughter isn't here, because she would be whining over her stuffed animal collection. At least the Build A Bear Workshop animals passed the sniff test and were saved from a trip to the dumpster.

Next Monday my mother has total knee replacement surgery, and I will have my ganglion cyst (of which I now have TWO!) injected and probably won't be online much either... I will see about putting up a giveaway before I leave you all hanging though, since gift cards seem to be the fun thing maybe I will get one for a local store... Bath & Body Works? Does that sound good? Maybe CVS? Any ideas? We don't have tons of big stores in our area, just Kmart, Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, Bath & Body Works, JC Penney. What would be YOUR choice to win? Post below from the list I just gave you and I will give away a $20 GC to one of them. I will check back in the middle or end of the week and whatever store has the most votes I will get the gift card from! (and post the giveaway over the weekend)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Time To Walk Away?

Sorry for the lack of postings-between work and being sick, I just don't have the time to dedicate to blogging like I should.

I've been so tired, and just not able to get into much lately. I have entered some giveaways on blogs of course, but really haven't felt much like posting myself. I attributed the excessive fatigue I have to adjusting to a new schedule, but this year it seems so much harder than it has been in the past to get myself out of this fog.

My eyes are red, itchy and blurred vision has become a daily occurrence. Allergies? Perhaps, I just don't know. The constant pain in my chest, burning, hurting and feeling like a heart attack...stress? Maybe.

My blood pressure was perfect when I came back from my trip and I saw the doctor a few days later, 110 over 65. No need for blood pressure meds. 2 days ago I am in the ER where they are sitting me in a wheelchair and rushing me to a room due to chest pain and a blood pressure reading of 176 over 107. In May, it was the same thing-high blood pressure, heart attack like pain, with the result that my potassium was a little low, heart was fine, and I had non-specific chest pain.

After working Thursday, towards the end of the day I started in with the chest pain again. I'd called the doctor the day before and she'd prescribed me some Zantac pills (not the OTC stuff) thinking it might be some sort of gastric issue. No such luck. The next day, I went back to the ER for a workup, determined to find out more about my condition. (my doctor had instructed me to head to the ER if I wasn't feeling any better, as I absolutely HATE going there!)

My EKG was fine, and the heart monitor was not showing anything to be alarmed about. My diagnosis was an inflammation of the chest wall tissues-wearing a bra has become a very painful part of daily life while I try to heal this with Ibuprofen 800 mg and the occasional pain pill when it gets really bad.

Upon taking a chest X-ray, the doctor told me that there was a spot (I thought on my heart) and that they wanted to do a CT scan. After a painful IV (they have to use a honkin' needle on this since it has to be able to withstand the high pressure the contrast dye has when it goes in) and some waiting around after the procedure he came in again and told me I had 5 granulomas in my lungs. (these are supposed to be non-cancerous type things which I certainly hope they are!) There were 2 on one side, 3 on the other. Since my dad died of lung cancer, I was and am still pretty alarmed over it all. (and I don't smoke if you were wondering)

He said I was going to be fine, and to follow up with my doctor (I have a ganglion cyst on my wrist that needs removing ugh...) when I see her the 22nd. When I got home, I began doing some research on these things in my lungs. I found out they can be caused by a bad infection, and there could be a fungal connection as well. (think scar tissue due to fungal infection) Back in May, they'd noticed the spot but didn't follow through on it. This doctor did, and I am glad for that.

Every year I get bad, and I mean BAD sinus infections. This year was no exception. A week or two before I had the chest pains, I had finally gotten to the doctor for a double Z Pack after waiting more than 2 months. And that was after going to another doctor because I was so sick. (the office staff was not giving messages to the triage nurse, thus my calls were not being returned at all-a quick visit to the office manager took care of that!) So, it was possible that the prior May X-ray was considered no big deal as I was just getting over a very bad sinus infection.

As I began to read a bit more about my symptoms (and those of my hubby who couldn't breathe well and ended up in the ER himself and on one of those asthma treatments for a couple times as well as a breathing treatment in the ER back in April) I began thinking what if it was mold?

The evidence was overwhelming-as was the fact that when we were in Guatemala for a month out of the environment of our home it was bad the first week, but afterward no chest pain, eye problems, or high blood pressure for me and hubby felt just fine too.

When we purchased our house, we had a home inspection done. But NOT the mold test. If you are buying a house, spend the extra for the mold test-I wish I had done that now, but $900 for a current test with a specialist is NOT an option. Our agent did state that there was a small foundation leak that could be repaired which we set about doing with some sort of a sealant. When my hot water boiler burst the next year, I immediately called the company and got a new one installed the same day-and used huge dryers to dry the cement floor.

As time went on, our house began to smell musty. Having forced hot air heat made the Winter season terrible allergy-wise for me, as I am sensitive to regular house dust and cat dander. Every year brought one or two sinus infections, and itchy, dry eyes.

I began to notice that the smell was nasty-the minute you walked in the door you could smell a wet, humid, musty odor. We kept the windows open upstairs (no ventilated basement windows) and the cellar door wide open, to get air in. I also got big buckets of Damp Rid and laid them out in the basement-doing what I could to stave off that horrible odor.

It's funny, because a couple of days ago it was like a light bulb went off in my head-telling me that my sickness and that of my husband (and even my daughter's winter coughing fits maybe) could be because of this musty, nasty smell.

It got even better when hubby went to investigate in the basement. Everything was wet and slimy-boxes, the walls, the floor, you name it. Heavy cardboard boxes we had down there had just fallen apart and he said he noticed some mold down there.

Bingo! The light bulb went off again. After speaking with some co-workers and deciding whether to pay the mortgage (I have paid faithfully for 6 yrs, never a late payment, but living check to check like most other Americans these days I had to make a few quick decisions) we went to Home Depot and got a 45 pint dehumidifier. And it filled up completely... within a few hours. The same applies today, the bucket was full and hubby was shocked.

Coming in to the house now, I don't get that moldy, musty odor so much. But yes, it exists in the basement still-and my living room carpet has some sort of blackish stain as does the bathroom sheet rock wall. Next week, I am hoping that I have someone come out to tell me what is going on. And how bad it is. If it can be repaired for minimal cost, I will do what I can to save my home. If not, I will walk away. Sure, my credit may be ruined-which I hate doing. But risking my health, and possibly my life and the health of my family and pets is just not worth it to me by remaining in a house with mold just so my credit rating remains intact. I mean, who will care if I have a 750 FICO score if I'm dead, right?

I will update when I can-I have over 2000 emails to clean out and might enter a few giveaways here and there. I'm on 4 different prescription meds right now and pretty tired, so I will do things as I have the time. Thanks for understanding :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Back to Work!

After a few months off, I am back to work for awhile. It's been a great few months off, but I am left with the feeling I didn't accomplish anything. My house is still messy, my paperwork still needs to get taken care of, and my vacation felt way too short!

It already promises to be a busy season, and I hope it goes smoothly with very few bumps in the road. Summer in Maine is way too short, and I am going to miss the sunshine and warm temperatures that will be leaving us soon enough.

This year my daughter will start 4th grade, meaning a new middle school and new teachers. She's nervous, but excited. Me? I am just plain nervous because she's growing up way too quickly! Just yesterday it seems I was holding her in my arms for the first time, and now she's an independent tween who is asking me to buy her a cell phone.

I've still got to download the pics from our month long vacation in Guatemala and post a few for my readers. I love Guatemala, but am glad to be home too. It makes me realize just how fortunate we are here, even though some of us don't realize it. To hear people complaining, I have to smile. Some people I know in Guatemala have dirt floors, live in houses made of cast off products (wood & tin we'd throw away here) and a bathroom with a flushing toilet is considered a luxury. Yet, they are happy.

It's late and I got up to go to the bathroom, thought I'd get online for a bit-and ended up doing a brief post. Enjoy your day tomorrow folks, it's hard to believe it's August already!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

$10 GC winner... better late than never~!

Random Integer Generator

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Timestamp: 2011-07-27 01:21:29 UTC

Jan is the winner~! I am going to email you now and you have 48 hours to get back in touch with me :) I will be doing another giveaway soon, and hopefully trying it out using the new Rafflecopter softwear. Congrats Jan!

I'm Baaaacck!

Oh my gosh, you would not believe it if I told you lol. Our return home trip from Guatemala was considered the trip from HELL!

First, when we arrived at the airport I tried to use the self check in kiosk for my tickets. After several tries, including one that was done by American Airlines personnel as well-it spit out a ticket telling me my request could not be processed and to see the ticketing agent.

Knowing that was NOT a good sign, off I went. Because we'd purchased tickets before they started charging additional for a second bag, and we were checking 4 bags, the ticket agent had a hard time getting that additional bag checked for no cost. Then, we were informed our 11:30 am flight had changed to 1:30. That meant we would miss our connection in Miami, and the ticketing agent said that they would put us on the 9:15 plane Miami to Boston, so we called our relatives who would be picking us up and let them know it'd be around midnight before we got in to Boston.

Our plane took off from Guatemala at the right time, and although we hit a little turbulence flying in to Miami, all went well. Now of course, we had to wait a few hours until our next flight. Because of my luck, the gate our new flight was booked at was the furthest away from where we landed and we had to take a sky train, and then walk outside in the hot hot Miami weather (100 degrees or more I swear!) due to construction at the airport, to get us to the right gate.

Having some time to spare, we had a great meal at one of the airport restaurants and headed back to our gate. Boarding time came and went, due to the rumble of thunder outside and the occasional cloud to ground lightning I knew we weren't going anywhere until the storm was over. I was correct.

After not one but TWO thunderstorms, it was around 11pm and our pilot came to tell us that the plane we were supposed to fly on was damaged (something to do with the computer and landing system) he'd hoped that it would be fixed but they couldn't do anything until after the storms passed. Finally, a half hour later (everyone was growing very impatient) they announced that we would be taking another plane and that it wouldn't be ready until 12:45 am due to transfer of luggage to the new plane at the next gate. Sigh...

By 1:30 am (we were supposed to have a 10 pm 7/22 arrival in Boston) on 7/23 we took off. We arrived in Boston very sleepy and grumpy at around 4:30 am. Close to 5 am, we hurried for our luggage. Hubby scooped up one of our bags and a few others got some of their bags. Then the belt stopped. Oh no, this was NOT good... we had 3 more bags to go-and in them was perishable chicken (Pollo Campero fried chicken from Guatemala which hubby had been paid for by family and friends to bring chicken to them). I was already worried about the chicken due to the extreme heat in the US and had told hubby that it might be spoiled. Now, we were told our luggage was lost or delayed (later informed that they never even transferred it to the 2nd plane in Miami!) and we needed to call the toll free number to file a claim with American. By now, hubby and I both knew this $200 worth of fried chicken wasn't going to be any good by the time it got to us.

We were right. Because of being so tired, we spent the night in Rhode Island where we'd left the car at hubby's sisters. I was exhausted, so we got a hotel room and were able to sleep during the afternoon for awhile-something we couldn't do at my sister in law's house. We also had NO clothes, so I had to go to Walmart to get a shirt and some undies for me and some undies and a cheap outfit for Deja. Hubby didn't want anything, lol.

I kept checking with baggage services, who informed me that they would deliver my bags once found to my house in Maine. At 10 pm Saturday night I got an automated message on my cell that they'd located our bags and they were scheduled to be picked up by the delivery service and delivered to our house in Maine. The next morning, Sunday, the delivery driver called me around 9 am to tell me that my bags were delivered. My mom went over to bring them into the house, and I informed her to open the bags and get the chicken out. Apparently the chicken had spilled everywhere in the bag, and it was a greasy, rotten mess. One bag ruined... My sister in law had packed some sort of peach applesauce textured thing in a plastic container in yet another bag... yup, it had leaked my mom informed me. And it smelled BAD. Yup, yet another bag down. Finally, the bag that we had gotten off the plane (bought it brand new mind you) had a huge rip in the front and the front pocket was almost torn off. So 3 damaged bags, no recourse for damaged bags (except for maybe the ripped one) due to perishables spoiling in them and no recourse for the couple hundred bucks of chicken we were out.

We got home Sunday around 5 pm and I immediately set to doing laundry. (my sister in law had brilliantly packed her peach applesauce with clothing, lucky for me nothing was stained but just a sticky mess which was resolved once it was put in my washer) It will be awhile before I fly the not so friendly skies again-and I've already informed hubby no liquids and no more chicken in the checked bags!!!

I've yet to pick a winner for my giveaway, but I will later tonight. I have also been suffering from what appears to be a ganglion cyst on my left wrist... I hope to make an appt. soon at the doctor's and I can so see a surgical procedure ahead. Lucky for me I am mostly right-handed, so it should not affect my job too much. So, I'm glad to be back-I apologize for the lack of posts, but with SLOW Guatemalan internet I am loving my DSL right about now. Have a great week everyone, and I will post the winner later tonight!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fiber One Winner!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

Timestamp: 2011-07-19 02:53:51 UTC

congrats to the winner and sorry for the delay:) I've been running around while on vacation and trying to get those last minute things done. There were 121 comments, but one came in after the 11:59 PM EST deadline. I am contacting the winner now and they will have 48 hours to respond to winning email!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Giveaway Extended and other News

Because of such low comments, and my limited internet access-I am going to extend this giveaway a couple of days until the 15th. Hopefully by then I will have more entries into it, since 7 entries is not really a whole lot :(

I am trying to take photos of Guatemala, but all of the photos from the first two weeks here and last years pics too were erased by my husband's niece. Believe me, I was NOT a happy camper! Apparently he had taken a photo she was not fond of, and instead of asking us to delete it for her, she asked to look at the photos on our camera. Hubby gave her the camera and she gave it back awhile later. When we went to take photos later that day, we noticed that the photo count had gone from 400+ photos to 0...

She said she had touched the trashcan button, and meant to only delete ONE photo and apparently thought that she had. She had deleted all the photos on the card, not that one image. It's hubby's camera, not mine-so I bitched at him for it. Not much either of us could do though, but I have to admit I did cry that night :(

Our trip has been fine so far-we really haven't gone very far at all. We do have plans to hit the beach this Saturday though, which is going to be great. (providing I don't get a bad sunburn that is)

Between a slow internet connection, I have hubby's nieces and nephews fighting me to get on to the internet using my prepaid connection. I guess they figure someone here has paid to use the internet so why not take advantage of it, right? Seems the older ones all wanna check their Facebook accounts and the younger ones want to play online.

Thanks for understanding about the extension of the giveaway folks, it's been really hard to promote from Central America, but I'm doing my best! Enjoy your week!

Are ya Hungry? $10 GC Giveaway

While I am in Guatemala chowing on a variety of foods (some healthy, some no-so-healthy) I am thinking about my readers back in the good old USA. Last year I lost about 15 pounds in 3 weeks by eating lots of salads (and yes, even eating an occasional fast food item too!) and drinking smoothies (papaya and banana, yum!) in the mornings.

I love the fresh fruit available in every shape, form and size-and love seeing the fruit vendors carrying their plastic baggies filled with ripe, juicy fruit to sell in the markets and on the street. Usually every place there are people you will find vendors selling fruit, goods, and of course food. Most often, people will set up a small lunch cart-like the guy above-and sell food from that. (Shukos are basically a hotdog with varied toppings, but nothing like the traditional hotdog stands we have in the US!) I have lots of food to try here in Guatemala still, but as they say, so much food, so little time! And I will be honest, while they have four and five star restaurants here in the city that charge and arm, a leg, and even part of your torso for a meal-the food vendors have them beat! With affordable prices and great tasting food, you can't go wrong.

That being said... look for CLEAN food vendors. Some people are not clean, and flies are all over the place. Their cooking utensils or cooktops are nasty, and I tend to stay away from those. Think of being at the fair in the US, and scoping out the food vendors. You usually know just by looking which ones might send you to the hospital with an amoeba in your tummy a little later, so you use good judgment and stay away. It's the same here-although there are times where a vendor might be super clean but use regular water (not pure water) for cooking, and those amoebas might get ya anyways. (but they have pills for that and medical costs here are somewhat low-a brief consultation, perhaps a lab test to verify the amoeba, and the actual meds-or you can usually just get the meds if you're sure you've got a stomach bug to keep it on the cheap side)

But, like any tourist, I get homesick for a taste of home. Here in Guatemala City you can get basically any type of fast food you want. McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway, Little Caesars, Pizza Hut-they're all here to name a few. Hubby was pretty shocked to see that prices for food were comparable to US Prices, and he was even more shocked to see so many people in McDonald's and Pizza Hut eating last year when we were here. I have to say I was a bit shocked too, but Guatemala is a country where you will see opulent mansions in one area, and dirt floor tin huts in another. The contrast is somewhat striking-and sad too. And yes, there seems to be a sort of middle class-hard working people who like the occasional weekly treat-and that is exactly what we saw when we visited the fast food establishments here.

All this talk of fast food has me a bit homesick... and craving something from home. I think I will tell hubby I want a burger and fries tonight lol. What about you? How about a $10 GC to McDonalds, Burger King or Wendys? Keep in mind that it won't be sent out until after I get home and settled a little bit :) If that sounds good to you, then enter below to win!

Giveaway Starts: Today, July 12, 2011
Giveaway Ends: July 23, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST Open to US residents/addresses only.

Winner chosen by and will have 48 hours to contact me to provide full name and mailing address after winning notification received. Please leave a way to contact you in your comment or in your profile. You do not have to be a blogger to win.

MANDATORY ENTRY: I'm curious... tell me what your favorite pizza topping is, or what are your favorite hamburger or hotdog toppings? For me, it's bacon and onion pizza or hamburg/onion pizza and ketchup and onions on my burgers and 'dogs please! Also, let me know from which of the 3 places above you want your GC to be from!


+1 GFC follower new (leave name used for GFC in comment please)

+2 Current GFC follower

+1 Twitter follower @micaela6955 (leave your name so I can check!)

+1 Tweet this giveaway (ok to use button below) & leave link to tweet (1x daily)

+5 Add to giveaway linky or blog about giveaway and leave link

+3 Add my button to your sidebar or add me to your blogroll, leave link to blog

Ok, easy peasy! Good luck! And remember, I cannot send this out to you until I am home at the end of July~!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Currently in Central America...

Hi everyone! I recently got internet access (albeit very SLOW internet access) and just wanted to check in. I am currently staying at my brother in law's house, and it's been frustrating because in addition to the slow internet, the power here sometimes goes out and takes me off line in mid-sentence.

The weather here in Guatemala (where it is currently winter by the way) hasn't been too bad, temps in the mid 70's and rain showers here and there. We've only had one totally rainy day since I arrived last Tuesday-mostly there are afternoon showers and thunderstorms which cool things off substantially after a hot afternoon sun.

Women here also use umbrellas for not just rain, but sun protection. I kind of thought it was funny at first, but after having an umbrella over my head during the mid-afternoon hours I realized just how important it was.

The kids here have a holiday tomorrow, apparently it's a national holiday of some sort, Army Day. My daughter has been attending school all week with her cousins and enjoys the attention she is getting from the other students who often stop to ask her what something means in English. We decided to put her in school so that she would learn more conversational Spanish and also to get some reading/writing skills too. The good thing is that she understands what they are saying, since we are pretty much bi-lingual at home.

I've got a couple posts done up, but haven't been able to get the pics taken for them yet. The rooster across the street has been a pain-waking me up at the crack of dawn with his incessant crowing. I am SO totally ready to make him disappear lol... He just might end up in someone's soup that evening...

So here I am, on vacation and trying to get in some R & R before I start work again a few days after I get back from Guatemala. I hope to post again soon, but I really have to fight with the kids over the internet since they love to play the games their cousin Deja is showing them.

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies Review & Giveaway


Being overweight, snacking has become an all too important part of my life. Unfortunately, unhealthy snacking has become the norm. I am usually hesitant to try any "diet foods" because although they have low calories, they tend to taste like cardboard. And NO ONE likes to eat cardboard, lol.

Unfortunately, with high blood pressure and diabetes knocking on my front door-I need to lose 100 lbs. to get down to a more comfortable weight that I can manage. I want to be around to see my daughter grow up and watch my grandchildren become adults too. I went shopping yesterday for some clothes, and was just so totally embarrassed by the size I had to get. I've spent far too many years putting other people's needs and work ahead of my own health, and it's been a rough 2011 for me health-wise so far.

Today I received a package of Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies in the Chocolate Fudge and Chocolate Peanut Butter flavors courtesy of My Blog Spark. Since I love the flavors of chocolate and peanut butter combined, I had to try them first. Upon opening the box, I realized that while they were small, they seemed very moist. I was a little disappointed that there weren't any nuts-I love nutty brownies-and would much rather have settled for a regular 90 calorie basic brownie with a nut or two if they had them in the 90 calorie version.

They were very moist, and didn't leave me wanting a glass of milk afterward-so they got a big plus for not being dry. While it doesn't taste like a traditional full flavored brownie, the taste really wasn't half bad. Also, it didn't leave an unpleasant aftertaste in my mouth like other diet foods do. I tried the chocolate fudge flavor afterward, and found it okay. I am not a person who likes double chocolate anything, even with all the calories and fat, so for me, it was just a personal taste preference. One thing I love though, was that in addition to being just 90 calories these brownies have an awesome 5 grams of fiber, which is 20 percent of the Daily Value of Fiber. Definitely a smart snack!

My overall opinion is that they taste like a light brownie. Sure, they have the chocolaty taste-which is all good-but don't expect the same flavor as a regular brownie. For me, this would give me a taste of something sweet while controlling portion size, calories and of course giving me the added fiber benefit. I would purchase them again-as a healthier snack or treat and of course pack them in my daughter's lunch as well. I am leaving for Central America in a couple of days, and I've already packed the remainder in my purse for a quick, healthy snack at the airport while on layover. I'd rather have us snack on these than run to the vending machine and get a candy bar.

How would you like to try the Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies for yourself? You can win a prize pack (pictured above) just like I received. Giveaway starts today, June 18, 2011 and ends July 15, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST. US Entries only please. Winner will be selected by and will have 48 hours to respond to email before another winner is chosen. Please make sure to leave your email in your comments or have it visible in your profile. Also, keep in mind that I will be in Central America during this time frame-internet access may be spotty due to circumstances beyond my control-however I will contact the winner as soon as possible and provide them with the 48 hour time limit to respond irregardless. You must first complete the mandatory entry below and additional entries are available. If it says +2, leave 2 separate comments.

For your first MANDATORY entry, you can tell me what time of day you would like to snack on your Fiber One 90 Calorie brownies... or you can tell me where you would plan on enjoying your Fiber One 90 Calorie brownie.


+2 Like Fiber One on Facebook and leave me your FB name (1st name & last initial ok)

+1 follow me on Twitter @micaela6955 leave twitter ID in comment

+1 (can do daily) tweet this giveaway, see button below & please be sure to use hashtags #myblogspark #giveaway in your tweet

+2 follow me via Google friend connect, leave name used so I can check.

+5 add this to any giveaway linky, sweeps site, & leave link so I can check it out.

+2 add my button to your blog sidebar, or put me in your blogroll

that's it! You can do as many or as little as you want-it's all up to you!

Disclosure: I was provided the information, product samples and gift pack through My Blog Spark for General Mills in order to do this review. Product opinions are my own.

Mother's Touch Thermometer Winner!

Congrats go to amyd who is the winner!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2011-06-19 00:43:38 UTC

I am off to email you now :) Please respond within 48 hours so I can send you your prize!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bra Shopping... a Necessary Nuisance

It's been a rough day... I hate shopping for myself now that I am overweight. Before, when I was thinner, you couldn't keep me away from the stores. Now I consider it a chore, and even a pain-to buy something as simple as the basics, such as bras and panties. As a matter of fact, I bought two Playtex bras today that were the wrong cup size.

I brought the bras home and showed hubby. He looked at me and laughed. I was NOT happy. I bought DD instead of D. The cups on the things were HUGE. He argued that there was no way I was that size and that HE should know of all people. Lol... ya right. I am just wishing for the days when I was a plain ole 36C.

My mother went shopping with me today and promptly announced that I had gotten what she didn't. It seemed to have skipped her generation, she and my aunt have regular sized breasts. I made up for both of them and more, and as age and gravity head my way I have nightmares about it. Both my grandmother and great-grandmother proudly displayed their "ample bosoms" for many years. I told my mom I do not like the fact that if I don't wear a bra one day my breasts will hang down to my belly button and I will resemble a milk cow. My mother snickered. I glared. And because I was so traumatized by visions of my grandmothers sans brassieres I purchased a cup size too large.

I'm not there...yet. And maybe, just maybe, if I lose weight I will lose it there as well. They say that you do. And I can only hope for a miracle, right? So the new $33 each bras sit in the bag, and I ponder on what to do with them. My guess is that I will return them to the store and look for something more appropriate fitting. Maybe I will take hubby with me, since he seems to be an expert on women's breasts.

I've got some more shopping to do in the next few days... for pants and other items. I really don't want to do it...but someone's gotta. I do have a couple of nice shirts I received from an online store that I absolutely love... but more on that in a day or two. In the meantime-the bra saga is to be continued...

Monday, June 13, 2011

8 More Days!

And I am SO not ready! After going on a shopping spree, and being prepared to pay $100 each for THREE extra checked on suitcases with American... they placed an embargo on the number of bags we can take!

I wish I'd known this BEFORE I bought new luggage of course. But I am relieved that I checked the website last night and discovered the embargo (which was just in effect as of June 9) prior to heading to Logan Airport and then being told we can't each check a third bag.

So now the fun begins. What to take? What NOT to take? What to send down separately via an international courier? (and had we known we would have sent the stuff down to Rhode Island separately via courier a few weeks ago, to ensure it would be delivered while we are there since it takes 3-4 weeks to get there so we will be cutting it close irregardless)

They say going on a vacation is supposed to be good for you. For me, it's more stressful planning, packing, running around the airport and then worrying about lost luggage, flight turbulence, and weather conditions where I will be heading. Nothing like a hurricane, volcanic eruption or earthquake to make things a little more exciting. This is definitely one of those "Pass me a Rum and Coke, please" moments and most likely that feeling will remain as the countdown enters its final days.

Once there, it will be hectic as everyone from hubby's kids to 8th cousins twice removed shows up to say hello and sticks around with hopes that they get something this year from us. See, when we go to visit people talk. And those people say that we bring tons of stuff. Neighbors pile out of their houses in the Colonia, curious to get a peek of what we are taking out of our luggage. My father in law even stated that we had enough stuff to have our own Paca (flea market) but was quickly met with furious looks by family members lined up to start taking things out of the boxes we'd sent previously and luggage we brought with us.

Poverty is extreme over there. I count myself lucky for having all that I have here, even if it is not much. Hubby's family isn't super poor-they actually do quite well, but they aren't wealthy either. And even though they do well, there is actually no extra money to buy game systems, games, brand name clothing etc... That is where WE come in. It actually is like Christmas in July-I love shopping all year round, so love to see my shopping for bargains pays off and makes lots of people very happy in the end.

The next few days are going to be super crazy. We have to open up NINE huge bags and make them fit to SIX under 50 lbs. Not an easy feat for sure, but we'll manage. I hope to be posting while there, once I can get the prepaid internet to work. But this time, I am bringing the Dell Laptop. No MacBook-it's still in a frozen state from last year after they messed with it at the prepaid internet company. :( Once I find my startup discs in this crazy house I will reformat it and hopefully it will take it back to factory settings and fix it. If not, it goes to the shop...

Like last year, hoping to have a few giveaways for stuff from Guatemala too. Not sure what yet, won't know until I get to a market. In the meantime, enjoy the Guatemala pics above... (one is a pic of the market in Antigua, Guatemala where the guy didn't really like having his pic taken apparently lol, and the other is a small town called Pastores on the outskirts of Antigua, where hubby and his brother went to get boots-many people live on hillsides like the photo shown, that is why sometimes you hear of people dying or losing their homes due to a mudslide, flood, torrential rains, earthquake, etc...)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Review & Giveaway-Mother's Touch Forehead Thermometer

Even though the winter months have passed, summer colds and sickness still exist. With the heat and humidity, it is often hard for me to tell if my daughter or grandsons actually have a fever or are a bit overheated by the weather conditions. With one grandson heading towards the "terrible twos" this coming Sunday and another almost 11 months old, it is really hard to get them to sit still or stop squirming long enough to take their temperature.

As a parent, I need a quick, reliable result. At home, we currently have a digital under the tongue thermometer for adults and the often unreliable in your ear probe for the kids. To be honest, I don't enjoy taking temperatures with this because if you've got an ear infection which is causing your fever the LAST thing you want is something stuck in your ear-take it from one who knows.

I was thrilled to be able to review the Mother's Touch Forehead Thermometer. And over the past few weeks I was able to try it out on my 9 yr old and both of my grandsons to get a better idea of how children in different age groups responded to it.

Bentley my 10 month old grandson had an ear infection when he came over last weekend. He was fussy, and kept tugging on his ear-sure signs to me that he was needing to be checked before a doctor's appointment could be scheduled. The neat thing about this thermometer is that it resembles a ring, and by placing it on my finger and soothing him by touching his forehead I was able to get an accurate reading within the 6 seconds as advertised on the box. The good thing was Bentley didn't even know what I was doing... he thought I was just stroking his forehead and had left my hand in a certain spot for a short time. I was impressed with the short wait time for the reading and the fact that there was no squirming or fussing. The final result? Temperature a bit elevated, and upon return to his other grandmother the next day she confirmed that he had an appointment scheduled to check his ears which made me feel a lot better.

Demetrio, my often wiggly and very curious almost two year old grandson was a little different. He was actually intrigued by my pretty ring and wanted to see what it did before I put it on his forehead. After trying it out on my own forehead, he determined that it wasn't anything that was going to hurt him and allowed me to check him out. He actually fussed a little bit but that was because he wanted to play with it, and wanted me to do it again so he could see the numbers. AND he managed to sit still too~something that is always a challenge with a child that age. His results? Perfectly normal temperature, so he was just fine :)

My final test was with my daughter. She had been watching curiously as I had tested the Mother's Touch Forehead Thermometer on both her nephews and wanted to see what it was all about. When she gets sick, boy, don't I know it-she's a bit of a drama queen and can be quite demanding. Rather than me try it out on her, she wanted to try it out on Daddy-while he was sleeping. Interestingly enough, she managed to do it while he snored away, unaware that he was getting his temperature taken. He did open his eyes after the fact, but we didn't tell him what we were doing ;)

I had done a review previously for the TempleTouch Thermometer, and I was happy to see that the Mother's Touch Forehead Thermometer was made by the same company. When my son and his girlfriend moved out with the boys last summer, they took my TempleTouch with them and I was pretty bummed since it was so easy to use. I have to admit, when your little one is sick, and just wants to be comforted, this thermometer is perfect!

Some neat features that the Mother's Touch Thermometer has are: Memory Recall, a large backlight display, can be used in Celsius or Fahrenheit for readouts and the most important... you don't have to put it in your mouth so germs don't spread amongst family members just by taking the temperature. (even though I usually get what they get sooner or later-I know I won't get it by taking their temperatures!)

I'd like to thank the sponsor for providing me with the product to review and for having the patience while I reviewed the product over several weeks in order to get reactions from different aged family members. And do you wanna hear what is really neat? They gave me another Mother's Touch Thermometer to give to one of my readers! Trust me, this is a necessity if you have kids or grandkids :)

Now I know that you want to win it... so below please find the specifics on how to be able to win one :)

Giveaway starts today, June 2, 2011 and ends June 17, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST. Giveaway is open to US Residents. One winner will be chosen via Winner will have 48 hours to contact me after receiving winning email. I must have a way to contact you, so please be sure email is in your comments or in your profile.

For the first, MANDATORY entry-Please visit the sponsor's website: Mother's Touch Thermometer and tell me something about the product that I did not mention above.

You can earn extra entries by doing the following: (if +2 leave 2 comments)

+3 current blog follower via GFC, +1 new blog follower via GFC

+1 twitter follower micaela6955

+1 tweet this giveaway (see button below) can do once daily

+5 post this on any giveaway linky and let me know where, or blog about it and leave me a link to the post.

Good luck!

Disclosure: I received a sample of this product to facilitate my review. I was also provided a similar product by the sponsor to give away to one of my readers. Opinions expressed within are my own.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Hope all my readers and friends had a great long weekend... we ended up going to Canada on Saturday, and on the way up the river was super high, and the white water rafting was going strong. By the time we got back from Canada, around dusk, the rafting had stopped and people were camping and having major cookouts. I was starved, and so wanted to stop and ask them for a burger, lol!

We ran into some major thunderstorms in Canada, where it had been humid and windy most of the day. Lucky for us, we were in the mall shopping and it didn't affect us that much. I have been slacking terribly these past few weeks-cleaning house, getting things packed for my trip in less than a month, and taking care of my grandsons as my son and his girlfriend recently split up. Not getting into reasons here, but he of course is upset-and has pretty much holed himself up in his apartment and I've been working on getting him out and about. (WHEN he answers the door that is!) Being a mother, I am worried-and hope that time will heal the wounds and at least they will be able to get along for their children. My ex is moving in with him soon, and although Daddy isn't the best influence there is out there-I feel better knowing he won't be alone.

As I wrap up this post, I will put up a few pics above of just how crazy the river was at The Forks, Maine this past Saturday. I can't imagine going down the river in a raft (though I've threatened hubby a few times that I'd send him downriver without a paddle) with the river going so fast. Even driving back, I was sure in spots it was going to go over the road. We took the pics around 8 pm just as it was getting dark, so they may seem a little dark-sorry about that! :) Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CoverGirl NatureLuxe Review

I've been a BzzAgent for some time now, and recently signed up to try out the new CoverGirl NatureLuxe line of makeup. First, let me explain that I received two items free of charge to try out-and offer my opinion on through BzzAgent.

When I finally went to the campaign and opted in, there was not a huge selection of foundation to choose from. I am VERY light skinned, so when I received color 330 Chamois, I knew it was going to be way too dark for me. Luckily for me, my 9 yr old was a willing participant-and considering her dad is Guatemalan, she got the good genes and his wonderful skin tone. (Which makes mom very jealous since she gets awesome tans in the summer!)

When the package arrived, I was surprised to see that this foundation also had the added benefit of SPF 10 sunscreen. Granted, it's not the SPF 30 that I am used to-but I have to admit, ANY sunscreen (for the times that we all forget to put it on, me included) benefit in a foundation is definitely a plus.

I am not a huge foundation wearer, when I was younger I used to wear it occasionally-but it always felt caked on and some of the gals from the 80's (my era, lol)literally wore it as a mask-whenever they smiled it would crack, and you could see the tell tale white skin around their hairlines and under their chins where the foundation stopped and their true skin color began.

Nowadays, I just use foundation for my under eye circles, blending in a light color to go with the rest of my face and hoping to not look like a raccoon. The first thing I noticed was that it has a pleasant scent-and a light texture. Rubbing it in a few spots I noticed I didn't feel like it was suffocating my face, and instead, allowed plenty of room for my skin to breathe. Some of these foundations are so heavy, and this was not one of them. I am glad that this provided a creamier, lighter version of most foundations I had gotten accustomed to, and I can definitely see myself using the Alabaster shade in the near future.

Granted, although it was not my correct shade, it did a great job of making my skin feel as natural as could be. The packaging was the right size, perfect to fit into a purse or travel bag, which was also great. It looked great on my daughter, as it blended nicely with her skin tone, and took away her under eye circles when she was a bit tired from staying up too late one night and had to head to school the next day. At only 9, she's got a few years to go before she gets into cosmetics other than some lip gloss now and then. (or at least I hope so!)

Another product that was sent was the CoverGirl NatureLuxe gloss balm for lips shade 235 Grenache, with another added benefit, this time SPF 15! Considering your lips can get sunburned, I loved this. I really liked the fact that it left my lips feeling soft and lasted awhile without running or bleeding. I love pinks, so the Thistle 210 and Tulip 205 shades are on my TO BUY ASAP list since they look gorgeous!

Did you know that NatureLuxe Silk Foundation contains a touch of cucumber water and natural jojoba and rosehip extracts? By changing the formula a bit for more natural ingredients, they were able to get rid of some of the heaviness used in conventional formulas to create a smoother, creamier, more refreshing foundation. And I bet you didn't know that the NatureLuxe lip gloss balm had mango and shea butter ingredients, which make your lips feel soft and kissable too :)

These 2 products definitely get a thumbs up in my opinion! You can find them in your local drugstores, online, and of course at Walmart, Kmart and other similar stores. The prices are reasonable as well, between $6-10 each so it won't break the bank either. Thanks to BzzAgent and CoverGirl for providing me with the products needed to do this review.

Disclosure: As stated in my review, I am a BzzAgent and was provided the products in order to review them and offer my honest opinion. All opinions above are my own based on the products I received.

Is the Customer Always Right? Not At JC Penney Today!

I do lots of shopping at JC Penney and especially love their clearance sales. In the past few weeks, I've been buying lots of clothing for hubby's family in Guatemala. Today was no different...or was it?

One area I like to focus on is the Women's formal party dresses. His sisters love those type of dresses and if I can get them on markdown cheap enough they can get some lovely dresses for a fraction of the price. Knowing how their sales work (I used to work for JCP way back in the day after high school) I know that their final clearance prices always end in .97 (for example $1.97, $4.97, etc...)

A few weeks ago, they had a few of these formal dresses priced at $70 regular, then marked down accordingly, 60%, 70% and even 80% off. I usually check weekly, and when they hit $4.97 I snatch them up. Within the last month or two, I've gotten about 8 dresses using this method-a great deal for a bargain hunter like myself and also great for my sisters-in-law. Plus, the store is clearing its inventory, so all is good.

Today I happened to stop by JC Penney and noticed the dresses. Most were marked down to 70% or 80% off, however there was one that was clearly marked $4.97 with the code 4/20 (which probably was the date it was marked down). I had purchased a dress with that price and date about a week or so ago no problem, so I took this white size 14 formal dress to the women's register and was waited on by an associate that had rung me up several times over the past weeks, and knows I usually buy the clearance merchandise.

This time, she tried to ring it up and told me that it was not correctly priced. I told her the item was clearly marked at $4.97. She said (with another associate chiming in as well) that it was new merchandise and was on sale for $50.00, not $4.97. She then began peeling the $4.97 sticker off quickly when I told her I did not want it for that price. Obviously someone had made an error in the pricing,she said. She specifically said that the system is always right and it was NOT on sale at that price. Um, what happened to the customer is always right? The associate in back of her said that there was a woman they were watching (and she made it clear to emphasize that it was not ME) that is known for switching the price tags. This tag was attached with one of their little guns that go right through the material, and the markdown sticker did not appear to be tampered with at all. My guess... someone screwed up on the markdown OR the system was not updated.

It's funny, because I went to Kohl's this past Monday as well. Hubby happened to find a formal suit jacket he loved. It was marked $66.00 on clearance. We'd been watching it for a few weeks, hoping that it would eventually go down. Finally, after accumulating $30 in Kohl's Cash and an additional 30% off it would have been pretty cheap. When it rang up, it rang up as $88.00. Immediately we brought it to the clerk's attention. She checked the price tag over, apologized, and told us it probably was the system that was incorrect. And gave it to us at the $66.00 price no problem. WHY JCP didn't do that is beyond me.

I certainly did not feel like a valued customer, and I even told the associate I was pretty humiliated by the whole thing, because I honestly thought the price tag was correct. I understand mistakes can happen-perhaps I should have asked them to call a manager, but the clerk was peeling off the sticker so quickly I really didn't have a chance to state my case. There was some discussion by the other associate that if it was last year's merchandise, which it was NOT, then it might have been marked that price. I told her that's what I thought it was-she mentioned it was still a pretty dress... but-as I stated when leaving-it wouldn't have fit me anyways.

It's really sad, but I think I will be shopping Kohl's more often now. JC Penney is in my home town, and I have to travel to get to Kohl's but I really felt humiliated by the whole scene. Maybe I shouldn't have taken it so badly, I tried to be upbeat and polite-and not throw a fit. I just feel as though if it was their error price wise, it should have been given to me at the price marked. And I just can't believe how the "system" can always be right. Everyone I know has had something that they've purchased that for some reason didn't ring up at the correct price... because the system was wrong. It's a human error, just as marking something the incorrect price is a human error. But most companies let the customer have it at the price marked-and make any adjustments after the error has been brought to their attention. I do not condone price tag switching in any form, as I consider it theft.

Granted, this was only one dress. And I know the others will be marked down eventually. But now, I won't go there. I will head to Kohl's or Deb Shops, or somewhere where I feel I am valued as a customer. Not treated like I am the one that made the mistake. So JC Penney, you've lost a customer. I know I probably won't be missed, but if this is how others are treated as well, those dollars DO add up. When I worked the Catalog Department years ago, and we had the wedding dresses come back (obviously used with wine and lipstick stains-even ALTERED) and the satin sheets purchased by a certain male customer every week (and returned the next week, USED and with stains from God knows what) I had to take them back-and refund their money. The customer was always right. It appears store policy changed... (and in the cases above, for a GOOD reason!)but maybe next time you should post a sign by the registers stating "Our System is Always Right-Thus, If Your Purchased Item Rings Up Differently Than Marked, You WILL Be Charged The Price As Reflected On Our System-Take It or Leave It."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Review-Diamond Candles

Lately I had been hearing the buzz on the internet about a new company, Diamond Candles, that has wonderful smelling soy candles that retail for $24.95 and include a ring in the candle which can be worth $10, $100, $1000 or even $5000.

Now, I like to burn candles as much as the next person-and a visit to the local candle store sets me back around $20 anyways, so with shipping (I paid for the UPS shipping, a little pricier) it was almost $35 but I thought it would be a fun thing to see what I received in my candle. Apparently, tons of other women think so as well, since they are posting photos of their multiple rings they have gotten from their candle purchases and a swap/purchase page has even been started up on Facebook for those looking to swap or sell their rings.

I told my 9 yr old about this, and she picked out the new scent, Carnival Candy. I placed the order, paid through Paypal, and waited. Immediately I received confirmation that the order had been accepted, and the next day received shipping with tracking information. Finally I received the candle. It took about 3-4 days, but that was fine-I knew it was coming and had no worries.

When I opened the box, I was greeted to a cotton candy type smell. Strong, but not overwhelming. While I like sweet scents, my favorite scents are tropical ones-so they would really be on my fan list if they were to make a coconut scented candle, or mango, or something along those lines. But since they are a new company, I am going to wait to see if they come out with something like that in their next batch of new candles.

I immediately saw the ring, wrapped in gold foil, not too far down from the top. I waited until my daughter came home from school, and took a few pictures of her (above) with the candle. Now you have to understand, she wanted this candle AND the ring, AND she wanted it to be a $5000 ring as well. I did my best to prepare her for the fact that it might NOT be what she wanted, but whatever we got it would still be something nice.

We burned the candle for an hour or so, and I decided to get adventurous. The wax was melted pretty good, and I was able to fish around with a steak knife without making a huge mess and get that ring out. We unwrapped it, and while it was not a REAL ring (more likely the $10 costume version stamped THAILAND) it was heavy, all the stones were intact, and appeared to be well made. AND it fit ME perfectly. That did not make my daughter happy. As I write this now she is searching the house for spare coins to save up for yet another candle. And I can only hope we will get something real (even silver) and in a smaller size.

It is a gold finish, with a yellow stone similar to a citrine and small cubic zirconias on the side. All in all, it is a pretty ring-and something I can wear and enjoy. I do have a feeling however, that once I have burned this candle my daughter is going to want another one.

My opinion? While the shipping can be a bit high (depending on what option you use) The candle that I had burned well and had a pleasant scent. My ring was in good condition with no loose stones or damage. It is not a color stone I usually wear, but I am pleased with this design and it doesn't completely overwhelm my small hands. My initial experience with Diamond Candles has been a pleasant one, and I most likely will be a repeat customer when I need another candle to burn. Hopefully they will make some in tropical scents though, because I would love to have a few of those!

If you want to find out more about these candles, visit their blog, their Facebook page, twitter, or their website. You can watch some really neat videos of customers getting some nice surprises in their candles. I would have done a video, but alas, my FLIP cam froze on me last summer, and while hubby wants to trash it, I have been hoping it comes back to life ;) They will be announcing a new contest soon, so be sure to check it out!

Disclosure: I received no freebies from the company for this post-I wrote it as a paying customer, after seeing it mentioned on a couple of other blogs. The opinions above are solely my own-yours may differ.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Just wanted to wish all of my readers a Happy Mother's Day! May you enjoy your day with family and friends-get some rest, relaxation, and maybe even a little pampering too :)

I received a marigold from my daughter, with a lovely verse on the pot that she had made at school... she also got me a keychain that says "Drive Safely Mom, I love you".
(No, I am not a crazy driver-very cautious actually-but she knows how I hate driving in the snow and freezing rain in the winter months so I am putting her keychain with my keys as a reminder that when the snow starts flying again to drive safely...)

Hubby, well, hubby does not get me anything. His theory? I am not HIS mother lol. No big deal, I don't get him anything for Father's Day either. It really doesn't bother me because we rarely exchange gifts anyway, except for the holidays-and even then it really isn't much. I'd much rather have the things I want and need throughout the year than wait until the holidays, so if I need something, or want something, he forks over the cash :)

I am still sore from another ER visit last night-stupid IV's and not being able to find a vein to draw blood from-I've got holes all over my arms and hands :( But I am fine, and that is all that matters. I just wish doctors and pharmacists would read my allergies to meds before they give me a drug for high blood pressure that is in the same family as one that I am allergic to. Looks like I gotta remind them (and I usually do!) at least 3x before they prescribe me a new med. But I am home for Mother's Day, and that is all that counts! Wishing you all a great one!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Winner of Personal Steak Themometers

Apparently no one wanted these :( and there were 4 entries, one didn't put mandatory info in and the other was deleted. Leaving just 2 valid entries lol. Oh well, the prize goes to MomtoDC~ congrats and happy grilling to you! I've notified you by email, please respond within 48 hours so I can send you your prize.

Now on to find the next item to give away...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It's Viral... the infection that is.

Lately I have been terrible at posting. Sometimes life and health issues have to come first, and for hubby and I that is exactly what has been going on with us since the first of the year. Geez, between dentists, doctors, emergency rooms and such for the three of us I think my copays are keeping the medical and dental professionals happy while breaking the bank here at home lol.

Geez, I forgot-the Vet was nice enough to send me a reminder card as well today. For all FOUR of the felines who are past due on shots due to me forgetting to take them. Now while they are all probably very content about that, they aren't getting out of a vet visit THAT easy. If I couldn't escape the dentist, the specialists, and the cute ER doctor then I sure as heck am not going to let them get out of getting a shot in the butt. Believe me, I have had much worse these past few months, lol.

Things went downhill quick after my dental issues around the first of the year. My daughter brought home a virus from HELL. One that she recovered from in about 3 weeks, after a bad cough and runny nose. One that sent hubby to the ER today after suffering for 3 months with the darn thing. One that has me working on a 2nd Z Pack of antibiotics for the lingering sinus infection that has caused me to resemble one of the living dead. I shit you not, I have snot coming from my eyeballs. And it burns.

So with hubby on an inhaler because his lungs think he's now asthmatic due to this upper respiratory "virus" and my drug induced antibiotic state (ok, we've got liquid Vicodin cough syrup as well-and it feels GOOD lol) I haven't felt much like writing. Or doing housework. Heck, I've stocked up on paper plates, cups and plastic cutlery for a month or two. I know, not very good for Earth Day and all-but there is NO WAY that I want to be passing this virus back and forth for the next few months.

At least I have a sense of humor, when I saw the hot doctor and he took my temperature I joked that it'd gone up because I was looking at him. Shhh... we won't tell hubby that, he just might have to find a hot nurse to compensate. So folks, that's where I have been lately, work, the doctors, work, the ER, work and in bed... you get the drift.

I am heading to bed now... enjoy your week and stay healthy!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Giveaway-Win this set of personal steak thermometers!

This year has been a brutal one... dental issues, infections, food poisoning, my ongoing sinus infection and now hubby with a very bad case of bronchitis. Can I just start the year over with NO health issues??? Lol, I don't think that is possible but I really wish it were an option.

But because we are so miserable over here doesn't mean you have to be :) I really had lots of fun giving away a $10 Gift Card a few weeks ago, so I think it's time for another giveaway.

As we all know (and as we have all been waiting for) summer and BBQ season will be here soon. Now if you live in an area where you can BBQ all year round-I envy you. And if you are a grill master (or a wanna be like me lol) you know that certain people like to have their steaks done differently. I, for one, admit that I have a hard time knowing when to take those steaks off the grill because I assume everyone wants them cooked well done just like mine.

I am going to give away a helpful tool for those that need me. I've got a set of four personal steak thermometers to give away to one lucky reader. I am sure these will help you cook those steaks accurately and be easy to read-AND give your family, friends, and guests the comfort of knowing that their steaks will be done the way THEY like them.

Giveaway begins today and will end at 11:59 PM EST on May 1st. Open to US/Canada. I will be mailing prize myself-please allow a couple of weeks for prize fulfillment and if there are any issues (item backordered etc...) I will contact winner by email. Winner will be selected via have provided the prize myself as a thank you for visiting my blog. You must have your email address either in the comment or in your profile. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to winning email or I will select another winner.

For the first MANDATORY entry:

For your mandatory, first entry you must be a follower of my blog via GFC and tell me something you like to grill!

You can earn extra entries by doing the following- (+2 = 2 comments)

+2 Subscribe to my feed

+1 Twitter follower leave username please!

+5 Post this on any giveaway linky and let me know where, so I can check!

+2 Daily-can tweet 1x daily, leave link to tweet in post. Can use button below...

that's it! Good luck :)

Disclaimer: This item was purchased by me for my blog readers. I am an Avon Rep. and this is one of the new items coming out which I felt my readers might enjoy. Item has been ordered but if unavailable due to circumstances beyond my control, winner will be contacted and offered a substitution of equal value.