Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Bump That Shall Not be Named

Anyone who is a friend with me on Facebook knows that I love shoes. The higher the heel, the better.  (You might have discerned that from the title of my blog, as well.) Believe it or not when I say that I find high heels actually comfortable to walk and dance in. Well, I DID anyway...that was before The Bump That Shall Not be Named.

It all started when...

A few years ago I was on a mission. The mission was to find a pair of nice mid-calf, brown leather boots that had a little heel and traction. (VERY important in a winter boot.  I don't care how hot the boot is, if I'm afraid I will slip and fall on my butt, I will NOT buy it!) I searched high and low, near and far.  Finally, toward the end of winter, I found THE boots.  They were at Macy's and were about 3x what I wanted to pay for a pair of boots, but they looked great!  So I brought them home.  I soon discovered that I did not have the right kind of pants to wear with my new boots.  All my pants were boot cut or flares and would not tuck in nicely.  So, after having to pay through the nose for the boots, I had to wait until the following winter when I could buy a couple of straight-leg jeans to wear with them.

The next year arrived, I bought straight-leg jeans and donned my fabulous boots!  They were awesome.  However, after wearing them for a few days, I noticed that the top of my foot, near my toes, would hurt.  If I flexed my toes, there was pain. One has to suffer sometimes for fashion, right? So, I kept wearing them.  I wore them all winter until I discovered come early March, that my big toe was sporting a small bump right at the base, on the side of the toe.  The bump was sore after I wore my boots (as was the top of the foot).  I decided that, since the snow was on its way out, I should shelve the boots.  I kept thinking that the bump would go away now that I was no longer wearing the boots.  Nope.  It stayed around.  It didn't bother me, unless I put on one of my closed-top, structured pairs of shoes...whether they were standard shoes, high heels, or stilettos.  It didn't/doesn't bother me when I wear sandals.  Thankfully!  Anyway, I looked online and pretty much determined what the bump was.  However, since the only recourse for Mr. Bump was surgery, I decided not to take ownership of it...hence: The Bump That Shall Not be Named.

Fast forward to now.  Our post-AFA massive insurance deductible and maximum out-of-pocket was met back in October (and it is so large I HOPE it will never again be met!) so I went on a quest to have every medical procedure and diagnosis done now.  One of the things I did was go to the podiatrist.  You see, I forgot to mention that I also have plantar fasciatis. I would have never spent the money to have it addressed by a professional, but since "now is the time" to the podiatrist I went.  And the bump was named. Boo!  He says it is a bunion (I knew that already).  He tried to talk me into orthotics, but I said, "I'm a stiletto girl!"  He laughed, and told me to take Tylenol when I go dancing.

So there you have it.  There is nothing to be done about said bump, unless it gets much worse.  For now, I will be on a quest to find a shoe stretcher, with the bunion pads, for my stilettos.  It also gives me one more reason to want to move to the dessert where I can continue to wear my sandals...all year long.

I know everyone is curious about my shoe collection.  Here are the ones I wear most often:

The yellow ones are a pair that I painted. I took an old, much-loved pair that was chipped and scuffed, and gave it new life.

It's kind of hard to get a real good look at any individual pair.  I'll have to try and remember to take some closeup pics. Maybe I'll feature a pair a week for a while.

Remember, the moral of this story is:  If the shoe HURTS, don't wear it!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Still Playing With My Food

I had so much fun making the Reese's turkeys the other day that I had to follow up with another fun Thanksgiving treat that I found on Pinterest.

I had so much fun with these.  They were actually more time consuming than the Reese's turkeys, though.

To make them, you will need:
Pretzel rods, some sort of round, flat chocolate-covered cookie (I used off-brand fudge stripe cookies. The ones I was inspired by used chocolate-covered mint cookies.), candy corn, candy eyes, orange M & Ms, chocolate discs (for candy-making).
 Melt the chocolate discs in a tall mug in the microwave (50% power for one minute at a time, then stir).  Dip the pretzel rods in the chocolate and lay on a wax paper covered tray.  Put in the refrigerator to cool.  When the chocolate has cooled, begin adhering the other items using the melted chocolate as glue.  Note:  you will want to cut the M & Ms in half...they work better that way.

I hope you'll join me for more holiday goodness as we head into the Christmas season.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Creative Time...With Food

While I haven't exactly been getting into my studio daily, I have been inspired.  I was inspired by pins I found on Pinterest for fun Thanksgiving food.  I decided it would be fun to make some yummy treats to serve at our Thanksgiving dinner.

You will undoubtedly recognize these treats if you spend any time at all on Pinterest.  I claim no originality.

They were not difficult to make, but were a bit time consuming.  Next time I bake or do any holiday treat-making, I will start off chewing gum.  It was an unfortunate side effect that I wound up eating several Reese's peanut butter cups and chocolate covered pretzels.  I'll post the pretzels in another post.

Turkeys in progress
 I needed a good, and secure, place to store my adorable little turkeys.  This egg carton was the perfect home for them.

Don't they look adorable peeking out?

To make these fun little guys, you will need:  Reese's Snack Size Peanut Butter Cups, Reese's Miniatures, candy eyes, candy corn, red gel, chocolate discs (for candy making). 

You will melt the chocolate discs and use them like glue to attach the peanut butter cups, eyes, nose (part of a candy corn) and candy corns.

Do you follow my blog by email?  It is the best way to make sure you don't miss any of the fun Christmastime posts I will be making.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Yummy Pumpkin Dessert

The day after Halloween I was in the mood to bake.  My family was gone, and I was home alone.  I resisted the urge to pour a glass of wine and turn on the Christmas music.  I neglected the first because I am trying to get back on a healthy diet of some sort, and I knew I wanted to spend my calories on some of the dessert I was going to make.  I resisted the second (and I DID find a Christmas station on Pandora already!) because it would have been breaking the rules. (See my post from November 12th.) Even though the family was not home, it just wouldn't have been right.

So, I baked alone. (Listening to swing music.) I had purchased the ingredients for this recipe the week before so I could make this dessert for a Halloween party I was going to, but I forgot the pudding, so I took something else.  I made sure to get the pudding after the party! 

I found this recipe on Pinterest.  You can find it here. 

Oops!  I forgot to take a picture until SEVERAL pieces were gone. 

It calls for pretzel crisps, butter, sugar, instant vanilla pudding mix, skim milk, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, 8 oz. of cream cheese, vanilla extract, a tub of Cool Whip, and a Hershey bar (optional).

So, for the purists out there:  I wasn't exactly baking. (It is called a No-Bake Dessert.) But I did "create" some sweet, decadent "yummy-ness".

As I mentioned, I am trying to get back on the straight and narrow food-wise, as I have some of the 53 lbs. I lost a few years ago that need to be "re-lost."  So, you benefit by the fact that I know precisely how many calories are in 1 1/16 of a piece: 184 calories!

This dessert is not overly "pumpkiny," but it is the perfect pumpkin "fix".

By the way, the store did not have the original pretzel crisps, as called for in the recipe. I bought the sea salt and pepper ones and they worked just fine.  The extra flavor did not hinder the recipe at all.

'Tis the season for baking and goody-making.  I'm sure I'll be back with more. 

You can check my Pinterest board: Food - Trying it Soon, if you would like to see what other delectables are on deck.

After I make a recipe, I pin it to: Food - Recipes I've Tried.  On that board I rate them with stars and comment on any changes I've made.



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

DIY Christmas Ornament Garland

I have always loved those beautiful Christmas ornament garlands that inundate all the holiday catalogs this time of year. However, priced at anywhere from $50 to over $100, it has always been a splurge I was unwilling to make.

Last year, though, I went on an after-Christmas rampage and hit all the major sales. I, fortunately, was able to pick up the makings for an ornament garland on the cheap. I don't remember if the sale was 50% or 75% off, but at any rate I got all the supplies for between $3.99 and $7.99. I bought the pre-lit 9' garland and two packages of ornaments on sale. To complete the project I also used floral wire and wire snips that I already had on-board. From setup to completion, it took almost exactly one hour.

Laying out the supplies.
Before I started attaching, I laid out the pattern.  Notice there is one ornament left-over.

One thing to note is that when I was wiring the ornaments onto the garland, I discovered that it was so much easier to remove the ornaments themselves from the metal hanger and to attach only the metal hanger. Once wired into place, I would then put the ball back onto the metal hanger.

Placing the wire (colored yellow for easier viewing).

Attach the metal hanger only.  Replace the ball after you wire it on.
The number of ornaments I had purchased did not completely fill the garland, so when I get a chance I will be getting more ornaments to complete the project. One more package should do it; at Wal-Mart they should be only about three bucks full-price.

The original price.  Not bad to start with, right?  If you wait for the after-Christmas sales like me, you could score it for $2.50!

The original price for the ornaments.
In my family we have a rule: We may not decorate, listen to Christmas music or watch Christmas movies until AFTER Thanksgiving. Of course as tradition has it, we listen to Christmas music on the way home from Thanksgiving dinner. That said, I won't be displaying my garland until that time. When I do, I'll be sure to post follow-up pictures.

It's a lot easier than you think!


Monday, November 10, 2014

Book Review - The Lost Key

Sherlock and Savich.  If those names ring a bell for you, then you are likely familiar with the FBI series by Catherine Coulter. This book is one of a new spin-off series by Coulter which features British agent Nicholas Drummond.  While Sherlock and Savich are not central characters, it is fun that they pop up in the story from time-to-time.

These FBI books by Catherine Coulter are ones that I watch for.  When a new one comes out, I immediately snatch it up...they are that good. This one was no exception.  Coulter chose a good co-writer for this series.  I would look for books written by Ellison alone.

In this story, the plot centers around an international secret society. Are you intrigued?  You should be.  Go get this book and read it; you will be happy you did.

Here is the synopsis for The Lost Key by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison taken from Amazon:

     Freshly minted FBI agent Nicholas Drummond is barely out of his Quantico training when he and his partner, Mike Caine, are called to investigate a stabbing on Wall Street.
     Their investigation, however, yields more questions than answers. It quickly becomes clear that the victim, John Pearce, was more than the naval historian and antiquities dealer he appeared to be. What Drummond doesn’t know is that buying and selling rare books was Pearce’s cover, and that he had devoted his life to discovering the whereabouts of a missing World War I U-boat concealing a stash of gold bullion, and an unexpected surprise that only raises more questions. When Drummond and Caine find both of Pearce’s adult children have disappeared, the case assumes a new sense of urgency. The FBI agents know their best lead lies in the victim’s cryptic final words—“The key is in the lock.” But what key? What lock?
     The search for Adam and Sophia Pearce takes them on an international manhunt, which threatens to run them afoul of an eccentric billionaire industrialist with his own plans not only for the lost gold, but the creation of a weapon unlike anything the world has ever seen.
 This one is a page-turner.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Book Review - Seven Wonders

If you've been following my current book review series, you know that I discovered my last book, Magnificent Vibration, when I walked into the library and hoped and literally prayed for a book that I would enjoy.  I picked up Magnificent Vibration because it seemed maybe more than coincidental that I had just experienced vibrations in my leg.  In the same trip, I spied Seven Wonders by Ben Mezrich, and thought "hmmm, seven is a good number."  So I grabbed that book, too.  A strange way to select a book, for sure, but in these two instances it worked like a charm.

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

When the reclusive mathematician Jeremy Grady is murdered, it’s up to his estranged brother Jack to find out why. Jack's search leads him on a far-flung journey—from Brazil, India, Peru, and beyond—as he unravels the mystery that links the Seven Wonders of the World, and discovers that Jeremy may have hit upon something that’s been concealed for centuries. With the help of scientist Sloane Costa, they discover a conspiracy to hide a road map to the Garden of Eden—and the truth behind a mythological ancient culture.

This book is definitely a four-star.  It is the first in an upcoming trilogy and I can't wait for the rest!  I could not put this book down.  The story moves the reader through many exotic locales filled with lots of action and adventure.  If you like fast-moving reads, you will definitely want to pick up this book.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Book Review - Magnificent Vibration

I wandered into the library one evening after exercise class wanting to get a new book or two to get me through the next week or so.  I was currently reading Half in Love With Artful Death, and I was not even half in love with the book, so I wanted a new one.

I walked up to the new releases shelves and hoped, no, I actually prayed that I would find a good book to read.  Just before I had entered the library, on the drive over, I had noted a strange phenomenon that often happens to me.  In this instance it was probably from exercise, although it often happens without any provocation:  my leg (or foot) started rhythmically buzzing. Sometimes when it happens I think my cell phone is vibrating...but it turns out to not be the case.  It can be annoying.  Anyway, back to choosing a book...  Since you already know the title of the book I selected from my blog post title, it suffices to say that when I saw that title, I chuckled to myself and picked it up.  Maybe it was a sign?  Lol.  The fact that it was written by rock and roll legend, Rick Springfield, was an added intrigue.

Below is the synopsis from the Magnificent Vibration website:

After stealing a mysterious self-help book called Magnificent Vibration: Discover Your True Purpose from a bookstore, Bobby calls the 1-800 number scrawled inside the front cover, only to discover that he has a direct line to God. This launches Bobby on a whimsical quest, serendipitously accompanied by a breathtakingly sexy and exceed­ingly sharp travel companion named Alice. Together the pair sets out to find some combination of spiritual and carnal salvation—and possibly save the planet.

By turns hilarious, poignant, over-the-top, and deeply meaningful, Magnificent Vibration is a highly original novel about the biggest questions one man—or mankind—has ever asked.

The book was over the top, for sure. The main character is obsessed with masturbation, for starters. God is portrayed as a prankster who may just be nutso. With those things in mind, I have to say that I REALLY enjoyed this book.  I often thought to myself that it was awesome that Rick Springfield was so versatile. His writing style is compelling and the story was well executed. This book was outside my normal genre, but it goes to prove that sometimes it is worthwhile to venture outside your comfort zone.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Review - Half in Love with Arftul Death

The second in my series of five of the most recent books I've read is Half in Love with Arftul Death by Bill Crider.

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:
The local community college and an antique dealer team up to have a workshop for artists. One local man, Burt Collins, isn't fond of the art, and he isn't fond of having the artists in town. Sheriff Dan Rhodes is called to the antique store because Collins has been accused of vandalizing some paintings. When Rhodes arrives, two men are restraining Collins. But before Rhodes can take Collins into custody, a near riot breaks out. Rhodes gets the situation under control with the help of college math instructor and wannabe cop Seepy Benton.

Later that day Rhodes has to help the county animal control officer round up some runaway donkeys, and that evening there's a robbery at a local convenience store. After looking into the robbery, Rhodes goes by to see Collins and talk to him about the vandalism. Collins isn't talking because he's been killed, his head bashed in with a bust of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Rhodes is faced with other problems, too: a naked woman in a roadside park and a gang of meth-cookers. It seems as if a Sheriff's work is never done.

I read a lot of these cozy, easy-on-the-mind mysteries.  As with many of the cozies, this one wasn't particularly stellar.  It wasn't awful, but it wasn't a page-turner either.  As a matter-of-fact, I put it down and picked up the third book in my current blogging series before I finished it.  I would have been content to turn it in at the library before finishing if I had to.  That says a lot.  In the end, I did pick it back up and finish it.  It wasn't laborious reading, it just wasn't compelling.  I didn't feel the need to find out what happened...I wasn't drawn in at all by the characters.  On a one to four scale I would probably give it a one-and-a-half.  This title is the 21st book in the series, so obviously these characters resonate with someone, just not me.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Book Reviews - The Trident Deception

Have I mentioned that I read? A LOT?

A number of  years ago I suffered from insomnia.  I would lay awake at night tossing and turning until the wee hours.  Some nights I didn't sleep at all.  I realized that the reason why I had such awful insomnia was because I am a planner, and I spent all night planning.  Add in any anxiety, and the planning to try and relieve whatever was causing it, and it seemed I never got a good night's sleep.

I decided I needed something to shut my brain down at night, a misdirection, if you will. Enter the books.  At first it was very difficult to read at bedtime.  I would read several paragraphs and realize that I did not have a clue what I had just read. Why? Because my mind was working on other subjects at the same time.  Once I was finally able to have my mind focus on the written word only, I was able to get drowsy and fall asleep.

What started as a prescription to relieve insomnia has resulted in a large consumption of fiction.  Thank goodness for my library card!

Over the next several days I will be posting reviews of the last five books that I have read.  I read all of these books in the span of about four weeks.

The first one is The Trident Deception by Rick Campbell.

Here is the synopsis from the author's website:

The 24 missiles carried by a TRIDENT ballistic missile submarine can obliterate an entire country, leaving behind a wasteland uninhabitable for 10,000 years. A single radio transmission stands in the way…

 Israeli Intelligence confirms Iran will complete assembly of its first nuclear weapon within a month, and the Israeli Security Council decides the Iranian facility must be destroyed. But the Iranian weapon complex is buried deep underground and can be destroyed only by a nuclear strike. The political implications of using nuclear weapons against Iran are severe, so the Prime Minister authorizes a Mossad operation that results in launch orders being transmitted to a U.S. ballistic missile submarine. As the USS Kentucky transits to within launch range, the Pacific Fleet is sortied to prevent the unthinkable. But will the Kentucky be detected and sunk before the crew completes its mission, or will the ship's 24 nuclear tipped missiles unleash a holocaust of unprecedented proportion?

I really like spy novels...think the Bourne series by Robert Ludlum.  This book delivers in that same style.  The reading was easy and the story compelling.  It was a page-turner and was difficult to put down.  This one would be a four-star book in my mind.  If you like action-packed adventures, you, too, will enjoy this book.

This was the first book I'd read by this author and I can't wait to sink my teeth into another one.  The sequel to it, Empire Rising, is due out in February, 2015.

The next books in my book review series are:  Half in Love with Artful Death by Bill Crider, Magnificent Vibration by Rick Springfield (Yes, THAT Rick Springfield!), Seven Wonders by Ben Mezrich, and The Lost Key by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison.