Saturday, August 31, 2013

My Garden in Late August..Still Going Strong

Tomorrow will be the first day of September, the month when things start cooling down around here in Northeastern Ohio. Already there are leaves beginning to fall from my maple trees, a bit early but the transition to Autumn has already begun. As Summer starts fading, some types of plants finish their flowering and the Fall bloomers start coming alive with color.

Morning Glories are now blooming like crazy. Floral fireworks every day from dawn to mid-day

There are some plants that just keep on going, such as Dianthus, Coreopsis, Portulaca and others. They are powerhouse flowers that just keep blooming.

The blueberry bushes are pretty well finished producing fruit now, but they sure had a great run. Next year I'm getting more berry bushes such as raspberry, black+raspberry and others. It's so great to have pesticide-free berries and herbs. Here are the Basil plants, who have turned into bushes. Time to make a bunch of pesto, before it gets cold and they all die off.

Two of my basil plants..and one of the big bumble bees that love them

This year I planted a Buddleia or Butterfly Bush that has three different colors of blooms from dark and medium purples to white. So far I'm seeing the medium and white colored flowers, which are very pretty, no sign of the darker purple yet. The plant is very young and so far is thinking it's a groundcover. When it finishes blooming, I'll trim it into a bush shape. I'm just glad it's happy and already beginning to flower.

Butterfly Bush flowers

So, that's how my garden grows right now. I'm going to miss all of this when the growing season is done. May have to get more indoor plants and continue the gardening indoors for the Winter. I used to do that before moving to Florida awhile back, grew a jungle in my former apartment's sliding glass door window areas. I think the Hibiscus tree I already have will be having more plants to keep it company this year. Having colorful flowers and green plants make Winter so much better. Until then, my garden still grows and grows.

Keeping Busy Working on My Stores and Baking Things

It's more than a fulltime job to run my Zazzle stores. Other elite level store owners have family or maybe even employees to help them, I do it all myself. I know it's best to delegate work and let go of some of the control and I would, but it all costs quite a bit and I'm not ready to make that investment yet. I'm ok and am glad to be home, doing what I love so it's not bothering me at all. It's nice not to need to deal with office politics, commuting, and all of that. So, I keep my head down and work. It feels good to see my daily sales rosters grow, as a result. It's all good.

Lately, Zazzle has updated our phone cases (used for iPhones, Samsung, Motorola and other brands)from Speck to CaseMate. In the migration, they transfer our (already designed by us) images to the new case. Unfortunately, many of the times, the result comes out with the designs too big or askew. So, I have a veritable MOUNTAIN of cases to go in and redo, as many, many oversized designs of mine float around in the marketplace, waiting to be fixed. The customer can do it themselves most of the time, but I like replacing the messed up ones with correct, accurate images. So, I'm lying on my bed, circulator and ceiling fans going full blast, with the Tonight Show on in the background as I do this. As I have, all day from early morning. Today I was going to go to the fair in Burton but I decided not to. I'm feeling kind of weak and not in the mood to go spend a bunch of money. Love fair food but it doesn't love me. I'd pig out on too many calories and be worth nothing afterwards, plus it takes time out of my work to do that, on a very hot day. Better to stay home and work. Make money instead of spend it..that's a plan. I'll go next year. My parents went and said it was fun but very hot and humid, just getting water there was $1.50! What a ripoff. Glad I stayed in.

Pie I made today

Mid-afternoon, I did take a break to make a blueberry/raspberry crumb pie, using raspberries from a local Amish market and my own blueberries from my bushes. It's easy to make,and full of anti-oxidants (yeah, I know, piecrust is fattening but it's better than 55 grams of fat for a fried whatever on a stick at the fair..that's my rationale, anyways.) As far as desserts go, it's one of the better ones to have, at least that's what was told to me many years ago when I lost weight at Jenny Craig. It's all about portion size and keeping active. Well, I went up and down my staircase a few times, and did some gardening, so that's the extent of today's exercise. The pie turned out good..not too sweet, just right. My cat Farrah held down the cookbook, she makes a good paperweight. So does her brother, Matisse. Last week, I was going to make something and got out a cookbook, then she flopped on I moved over, opened up another cookbook, then Matt flopped on that. They take their cookbooks seriously.

That's Farrah in the foreground, Matisse in the background..each with their own cookbook. And in the waaay background, see two male goldfinches, two of many who live on/at my feeders.

So, now it's midnight, and a warm breeze is coming in my open bedroom windows. Work is winding down for the night. I keep working until I can no longer concentrate (brain gets in a fog). Tomorrow is a new day, with new types of clothing to design, as well as work on more phone cases. Once I get caught up then I plan on getting my brain in gear to start doing more drawing. Drawing has been on "back burner" lately because I've been stressed with many things going on. To do my best work, I need as stress-free an environment as possible. Once these cases are done, stress will be lessened. It's not easy being so high strung, but I deal with it. Need sleeping pills in order to sleep, having been an insomniac all of my life. The nighttime is a good time to get work done. It only bothers me when I sleep too little then get exhausted the next day, not able to think straight. It's better to be rested than worn out! This soon-to-be 50 year old body needs to be treated's a quiter, gentler life now and that's ok by me. Need to get vitamins, to boost my system and help my health. It's a mission to get better, healthier and feel more energetic, one step at a time.

Monday, August 26, 2013

End of Summer..Time for Fairs and Other Outdoor Shows!

Here in the country, there is so much to see and do in late August. Out here in the country, this is a busy time of year for events from horse shows and art fairs to the big Geauga County fair (a few blocks from my parents' house). As I drive to the village of Burton to see my parents, I pass the fairgrounds and enjoy seeing all the vendors setting up for the opening of the fair, which happens later this week. There are hundreds of food vendors, not to mention tractor, shed, and other farm themed vendors, setting up their merchandise. I know nothing about farming but it's fun to see all the shiny, new contraptions they sell. Mom and dad have been seeing countless trucks going by their house, from the French Fry man to the Corn Dog, Elephant Ear and Funnel Cake vehicles. What a trip this is, we always lived in the suburbs before coming out here, so it's a fun change of pace to see these things.

Framed artwork I sold in my booth at Brooklyn Home Show in the mid eighties

Years ago I used to do many types of art and animal shows, traveling in my reliable Buick LeSsbre from state to state, seeing the other vendors at the same shows each time, for the most part. We always had good luck with sales and would enjoy seeing the cities, and going to the wrap-up parties afterwards. I got to know breeders of all kinds of animals, learn as much as I could about the animals in depth, and I was interviewed a few times by tv stations. It was a good time, and I dressed up, and enjoyed each and every trade show while very young. Even got to walk around with breeders' parrots on my shoulders a few times, and get a chance to photograph birds of prey up close and personal at the National Aviary, at a show I did there. Back then I sold my jewelry, greeting cards, posters, bookbags and other items, much like now but on a much smaller scale. Then my ex-boyfriend, who was skilled in trade shows because he owned a very large wholesale establishment, took my jewelry and sold it to his customers around the country. I would provide the displays, made by my dad and myself. Those were the days.

Fast forward to now, where I attend shows but don't exhibit in them. My car isn't strong enough for interstate travel, and I'm recuperating from a strong infection that causes me to be worn out easily, but when the conditions are right, I will again do some shows because I miss the feedback of customers, and being where the action is. Being single with no dependents is ideal for doing shows out of state. It would be better with a friend by my side, of course, but I'm ok with doing it alone since I'm used to it. I plan to stock up on better displays this time around, because back in the day I was very, very poor and struggled to look as professional as possible with decent looking displays but they weren't very sturdy. This time around I'll save up and get better displays, since I'm established now and it is extremely important to be polished when doing shows, from what I look like (hence the weight loss) and what I wear to the displays themselves. It's a package deal. When I go to the fairs and art shows, I observe what people are doing, how they do it and what are the best products to use for displays. When I'm ready, I start with some small, tiny show such as a Christmas fair of some sort to do a test run, then do better shows when my confidence and stamina are improved. It's a process.

So, the fair is here soon..can't wait. My parents and I really enjoy the big book sale there, and last year there was a pet supply vendor's booth where we got some cat supplies. Then there's the food. Diet be damned during the fair! I usually get a chicken or pork fajita and onion rings, or if they have them, sweet potato fries. Heaven. We love going to see the animals, listen to a band or two and see the buildings where the many, many competitions are held. They even have competitions like frog jumping and rooster crowing! Haven't seen those yet. One of these days I'll submit one of my caramel apple crumb pies for their pie bake-off. It takes time and effort to of these days, I'll make the time to do it. They are auctioned off for good causes (for obscene amounts of money)so it's good to do.

When I did a huge orchid show in downtown Tampa, Florida at the University of South Florida campus, I got hooked on sweet potato fries. Just one big plate of an entire sweet potato, put on a curly fries peeler and it ends up a big pile of curls. To die for. And, as a big bonus, I walked out of that show with a good amount of gorgeous tropical plants (I raise orchids..orchid shows are a big weakness of mine). Fun stuff.

University of South Florida/Tampa. My art booth was close to where this photo was taken (not my to the anonymous photographer!)

Until the fair starts, I'm just working on my computer to design new products for my stores. We now carry leggings and winter scarves so I'm in marathon mode, doing those. See them at my brand new offshoot store just for apparel, TPC Studio Clothing at A pot of coffee by my side, and Farrah is up sleeping on my stereo (that is turned on, being deaf she likes to "listen" to its vibrations). Life is peaceful and good.

Farrah sleeps on my stereo, high up on my tallboy dresser in my bedroom, every night..and day

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Driving in the Countryside With My Mom

There is nothing more relaxing than driving out in the country. Living out here in Amish country is wonderful, relaxing and fun yet I know so little about it even still. I moved out here about five years ago from Largo, Florida, coming home from being out of state for nearly ten years. Down in Florida, you leave your driveway and stomp on the accelerator, because traffic is endless and fast paced. I used to live a block away from one of the most dangerous intersections in the state, people kept getting hit by cars and there were countless major car accidents all of the time. It was total hell and moving out to rural Geauga County, Ohio was, and is a dream come true to me. No Florida traffic jams, irate drivers and stress. Just blissful, wonderful peace.

Frequently, mom and I like to go exploring around the area, since she and dad moved from Beachwood four years ago to be near me. I'm so glad that they did, and we now have a kinder, gentler existence. I inherited my love of exploring and travel from my mom especially, we like to drive down streets we don't know, and find places that are new to visit. So far we've really found some fantastic greenhouses, restaurants, farm markets and more. Who knew that the countryside would yield so much to see and do?! I didn't. Before living out here, we'd come out to Burton Greenhouse when I was a kid, and thought at that time that there wasn't much else out here in the boonies. So wrong! We've only just begun. I'd like to check out auctions, other greenhouses and more places further out. For me, I'm limited by my car, which isn't very strong. Next year I'll try to get another one that is more reliable to take longer road trips without worry. It's a long term goal. Until then, we stay in Geauga County, and mom and I do our mini travels here and there with her car. It's bonding for us, and means so much to me since we didn't get along so well when we were younger. As time goes on, she mellows and is nicer, which makes me feel closer to her. And, she likes me more, too.

Today we went to a lovely little farm market in Troy, Ohio. It had gorgeous produce, fresh picked and sold by the Amish. There were also baked goods, many of the traditional Amish kinds such as Whoopie Pies, fruit pies, fry pies, homemade breads and such. I was proud of myself, not buying any bakery items, just a bunch of berries (blackberries and raspberries) so I can make my own pies, along with other produce such onions and tomatoes. Mom got herself some, too and we left, happy to have discovered a new place for buying fresh, healthy goods. She and dad usually go to our old favorite market further away called Miles Market, but this place was closer by far. It's a keeper.

After that, we discovered a big greenhouse full of beautiful, bushy and healthy plants called Urban Growers. They had some really exotic hydrangea plants that I liked but I've finished buying plants for my garden for the year. Mom got one plant, and we will be back in the Spring next year. They had a good variety of plants but their inventory is a bit low due to it being late in the planting season. Still, they were very helpful and kind, and all the plants are well taken care of. It's good to make a mental note of, and being in greenhouses to me is one of the most relaxing and fun activities around. Being a "Type A" personality (high strung inside), I like to keep my mind calm by being in nature, around flowers and plants or animals. Mom, too. We both love gardening, always have, so it's always fun to find new greenhouses and nurseries. There's another in Madison that we will have to go to next, it's huge, and mom told me about it. Madison used to be a world away from us when we lived in town, but now that we're here, it's not all that far. And the drive out to pretty much anyplace we go is always pastoral farm scenes, old towns with over-century old homes here and there. It makes me wonder what life was like a hundred years ago, when there weren't so many people, where horses were transportation and houses were fewer and far between. Going way out in the boonies is like stepping back in time, to a slower pace of living, with beautiful scenery and fresh air.

It was a successful trip, of many more to come. Now I'm back home, mom and dad are back on their front porch, enjoying their evening. I'm resting, very tired but happy. Dad wanted to stay home, he's not into being adventurous but likes to take care of their cats, read and keep busy with his projects. When we're out, he gets his well-needed alone time. They have two little semi-wild kittens living on their porch, and dad loves watching them play and taming them. Whatever makes him happy. He's looking and feeling well, getting checked by his nurses and doctor on a weekly basis. It's so great that he gets to enjoy life the way he wants it..peacefully, after a briliant and stressful career. I love seeing him smile and enjoy himself like he does.

As for me, my health isn't great..I'm battling infections in my system that frequently make me feel very sick here and there, but slowly with this wonderful country life, my body heals a little at a time. My stomach is always bothering me so it looks like I need to go back to the doctor to find out what is wrong. I'm busy watching what I eat, losing weight and being more mindful of health. One step at a time. Getting my teeth fixed is a huge help, and responsible for my progress. It's all a process. I keep positive and just hope for the best. And plan for the next road trip with mom :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's a Very Good Thing..Saving Shelter and Other Homeless Animals via Social Media

For anyone who loves animals, Social Media is a useful, formidable tool for saving the lives of countless shelter animals who otherwise wouldn't be seen at all by the public. As we all know, the Internet is the wave of the future, and so why not use it for doing good and getting "thrown away" cats and dogs homes, far from the misery of death row in shelters. It costs nothing other than time to share posts to friends, who then share to their friends, and the exposure of an animal up for adoption just continues to snowball. People who share these animals are known as "crossposters". Contrary to popular belief that we are fanatical or crazy animal people, we're a caring bunch who just want to help save lives. I question those who don't care about animals, because it takes compassion and caring to help something that is totally dependent upon others for help with no promise of anything in return for the helper, other than the satisfaction of seeing a life saved.

My precious cats living the life indoors as incredibly pampered housecats!

My cats are all rescues. They came from various places in the country and being deaf, they were "special needs" so owners and breeders tossed them aside for hearing animals instead. My Matisse came from a hoarder, who just had way too many cats in a one bedroom apartment (I think she had over 32). The truth is, they are no different than other cats other than the fact that they are visually oriented and need to stay indoors. They eat, sleep and love like other cats. I truly recommend a deaf or blind cat, since they have big hearts and love to be loved.

If you want to help save animals on Social Media, a good place to start is Facebook. Friend other cat lovers and crossposters, and then share their posts. As you do it, you will find the sources that they use (shelters, rescues, and other places who have animals that need homes). In time you will amass a large group of people who will support one another in the endeavor of saving lives. It's a beautiful thing to see grow and spread. Ignore critics who think we're crazy cat or dog folks, who cares what they think. I have had nearly no criticism from others for what I do, which has been encouraging. Even if I had, it wouldn't stop me because the cats I help would die without assistance. And they still do, it's not all rosy in the world of saving shelter animals. You save some, and still, others are lost. But, in time, less are lost as the popularity of sharing homeless pets grows.

In the rescue world, there is a network of those who save animals, from the crossposters to animal rescues, transporters and fosters. Rescues help out people who want to adopt but need the help of an animal rescue in order to do it (not all shelters are like this). If you see "Rescue Only" on an ad, that means that only rescues can get the animal out of the shelter..BUT, they can give it to you afterwards, if you pass their criteria for adopting (usually a short form with a nominal fee). Foster homes are used to take care of animals sprung from death row but not in permanent homes yet. They take care of the animal until the adopter adopts the pet. Sometimes this is used when you are far from the shelter you want to adopt from. A rescue will "pull" the animal from the shelter, and then transport will bring it to you (often free of charge). Fosters will bridge the gap between the animal being pulled and getting it sent via transport to you, if needed. My cats didn't need fosters, they were brought directly to me from other states and I paid nothing but the adoption fee (fifty bucks, roughly). I give them donations or gifts if they allow it, some don't accept anything but it's a nice gesture since they worked so hard and so long to bring the animal to me.

So, when you find an abandoned kitten on the side of the road, do everything in your power to find a home for it (or keep it!), otherwise bring it to a cat rescue, not the shelter. Shelters notoriously put animals to sleep soon after they arrive. They are overrun with animals and I don't agree with what they do, at all, but that is the truth of the matter. Another place to take an abandoned kitty to is a cat sanctuary. They should be registered with the state, and have licences. Google "cat sanctuary" and your state, for the names of ones in your area. Let's keep innocent lives from being killed and help them out a little. You save not only their life but create room in a cage for another animal to be saved by finding an adopter for a shelter animal. Let's keep the flow going and go save more lives! By the way, my parents have rescued many animals, throughout my life. They, too have saved many cats. It's in the blood, I guess..and I'm proud of that :)

This is Cinnamon (Cinny), a Maine Coon mix that I rescued from the balcony of an apartment building I lived at many years ago. He was left on the 7th story balcony without water and very little food, as his people moved out. I lived a few balconies away and it was July, very hot and he was distressed, so I contacted the apartment management and they let me go in and get him. Mom and dad came to see him at my place, as mom said to dad, "We are NOT getting another cat!". The minute they saw him, they both wanted him. And he is their pride and joy ever since.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Big 5-0... Getting Older and Hopefully Better!

As my fiftieth birthday approaches, I think about health, life and how I just don't feel this old! :) A half century..yikes! With the brain of an overgrown twentysomething, it's so strange to watch my body age. I wonder if others feel like this? I didn't care about turning forty, but, well, fifty takes a little digesting. I don't judge others by their ages, so why be so critical of myself? My boyfriends have all been older than myself, many of my friends, too. It's no big deal. But watching people I've known deal with major illness, and a few peers of the past have even died, it puts life into a bit more perspective than the formerly happy-go-lucky, invincible feelings of youth. It's time to get serious about health, but not lose the youthful and fun side along the way.

Some people run out and get plastic surgery at the first signs of aging. It's all over television, those who plumped up their faces too much and ended up looking like Barbie-doll blowfish. It's one thing to fix a minor issue here and there, but quite another to make your face look like plastic. Yikes. To me, some lines on the face are character lines. Taking them away will change the character of the face. I have always had "laugh" lines since childhood. To me, they are ok. They're just me. Others who never had them and then started getting them, I can understand them wanting to get those fixed. It's all an individual choice for each person to decide. I personally like the lasers that kill photo-aging. Had it done once in Florida and it was like a rubberband snapping, not painful, and it took some of the light brown, lacy sun damage off of my face and neck. It's not cheap so I only did it once, but it lasted for ten years, without being invasive in any way. To me, that is worth the money and I will do it again sometime at a good place I know in Beachwood, where friends have gone and had a good experience.

Another procedure that isn't too bad is having moles removed. Both my parents have had (early) cancers removed from themselves, so being their daughter, I think nothing of getting moles removed if they are questionable. Having fair complexions have made all of us targets for these things, so it's better safe than sorry. My ex had large moles on his body, and I told him to get them checked, because they were bigger than pencil erasers (apparently criteria some doctors seem to think of as possible risk factors for skin cancer). He was fair skinned, too, so he consulted a doctor, who ended up taking all of them off. You just never know. When I lived down in St.Petersburg and Largo, Florida, I saw people walking around with loads of sun damage all over their arms and faces. The sun is so intense down there, it's understandable that it happens to them. But dangerous not to do anything about large purple blotches and other discoloration. I spent most of my time in Florida, indoors, not interested in baking in the sun like a lobster. Did that down in Mexico when I was younger, but it was time to be more careful. And now, I use zinc type sunscreen when needing to be out in the sun for long periods of time, along with sunglasses. Not being a fanatic about it, just being more careful.

As for gray hair, whatever. It looks great on men especially. My dad has white hair, shows his Scottish heritage. The chemicals used to color hair are a cocktail mix of unhealthy chemicals but they do make us all look refreshed when used. I love Aveda brand salon products, due to their apparently natural ingredients (and they smell so darned good!). Working from home and living in the country, I'm less concerned with getting the hair and coloring done every eight weeks like I did in my youth. Nobody much sees me so it's not that big a deal. This goes for wardrobe, too. I might dress a little nice to meet with friends, go to the store or to the doctor but otherwise, it's not a big deal unless being out and more social. Buying girly, pretty clothing is in my nature but so is wearing sweats at home. Women who wear high heels to walk in the park, to me, are nuts (I know, did it a few times in my twenties). I wore high heels my entire young life out with friends but only here and there now. It isn't necessary to do all of the time. Being in less fashionable topsiders is more comfortable and doesn't wreck your feet.

After being VERY sick with serious tooth infection issues (ongoing fight, even now), I have a deeper appreciation for good health and taking better care of myself. In youth, I burned the candle at both ends, eating junk food, staying up late all night/every night (due to excess energy/insomnia), stressing my back by carrying ten bags of groceries at the same time, etc. I even moved my entire apartment in Florida, lifting and transporting my furniture (with help from a friend) myself. Big mistake, tore up my back. When the spine (lumbar area) gave out and needed rehab for a few years, it was time to change habits, and being more mindful of my spine has helped so much. Same with the teeth. My wonderful dentist and his staff have taught me better ways to improve my oral hygiene. The less infection in my system, the more energy I have. Before all the dental work, I felt dead. Could barely do much of anything, just worn out and sick all of the time. I dragged myself to the dental office, scared out of my mind that the infection would actually kill me, as my face would swell up and teeth were breaking off/infecting, one after another. They are now replaced and cosmetic appearances aside, it's beyond a huge relief to see my gums look healthier, and to live without broken teeth carving up the inside of my mouth. If you are suffering with dental disasters like I did, don't give up or avoid dentists like I used to..find a dentist you trust and go. It's worth it. Perfect A Smile Dentistry in Chagrin Falls, Ohio is the best..go if you can. Amazing, caring dentists, all of them.

The next on the list of things to do is to get the weight down some more. I lost weight last year, and will do it again now. But, I don't diet..just eat what I want in smaller amounts and increase my exercise (for me, gardening). Throughout my life, losing weight wasn't hard and I did it a lot. The older I get, the harder it is, but it's not impossible. A good pig-out once a month seems to work for me, to get the need for something sweet out of my system. This coming month, that will be my birthday cake. LOVE cake, even if it doesn't love me in the least. The rest of the month, it's hummus, flatbread, salad, etc. It's surely not a regimen recommended by any doctor but it seems to work for me. I lost over fifty pounds twice in my life (fifteen years apart, the last time being last year), so something's going right. I get a goal in mind and then shoot for it. For me it's about avoiding diabetes and also looking better in my clothes. In my closet is a full range of clothing from small to large sizes. I aim to be solidly a medium again, and throw out any larges. We're never too old to better ourselves, in whatever way it means to us each individually. I want to make fifty look good, but better still, FEEL good!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Busy Sunday Designing Things for the Store

It's a busy month here at my art studio. First of all, my stores now carry watches, available in eight different styles (see earlier post). If that wasn't enough, we now carry Jelly Belly brand candy filled jars and tins! So, I've been a designing machine, and will be for awhile. These tins will make fun party favors for weddings, birthdays and more. They are wonderful additions to the store. The marathon continues..

Last night I worked until 3am designing the new products, quite the contrast from college and post-college times. In my (much) younger days, I used to work all day at office jobs I didn't like all that much then dress up nice and go out dancing at my favorite nightclub/restaurant with my friends then have midnight breakfast at International House of Pancakes until 3am. Those days are longggg gone by now, replaced with drawing and working on my websites. That's just fine with me, a gentler lifestyle is better, with no makeup on, my hair up, in a t-shirt and shorts, on my bed working on the laptop. Dressing up is fun, but not necessary here in the country. And one other thing, I can still listen to the music we used to go dancing to on the "oldies" stations on the radio, while working on the computer. It's all good.

Just talked to mom and dad, who are enjoying this beautiful day working on their projects, too. Mom is on their large, wraparound porch working on her scrapbooking while dad is inside reading books. She has the little feral kittens near her, playing with one another. Dad has his buddy cat, Moxie by his side..his little protector (one of them, Felix and Cinnamon both like to "guard" dad, too). Their gardens are growing like crazy, with butterflies on the butterfly bushes, pink Japanese Anemone flowers in bloom. They are happy and all is well. I'm so glad they have this quieter life after all those years of hard, long hours at their jobs in the city. Moving out the country for all of us has been such a stress relief. Mom was a Montessori teacher (40+ years at the same job!), and dad was an architect with big, fancy Cleveland firms. They've earned the right to kick back and enjoy life to the fullest, they more than deserve it! We all delight in watching Amish buggies go by our houses, being out in Nature, going to restaurants with patios and seeing birds at our birdfeeders. The emphasis out here is on a peaceful life with family, not the frenzied "Keeping up with the Joneses" lifestyle that suburban life seemed to promote. I never felt the need to keep up with anyone. Who cares. There's no competition. I save my competitiveness for my work.

My front (temporary) tooth broke off on Friday. Not an attractive look for me, yikes, but I don't need to be anywhere so instead of needing to stick a bag over my head to go out in public (kidding!) I'm just staying in and avoiding people until my dentist's appointment. It's amazing what a difference one tooth can make in our appearances. I look like a Jack O'Lantern, lol. Answering the door like this on Halloween would scare the Hell out of any poor, unsuspecting child. ;)

Today I harvested a huge handful of blueberries off of one of my blueberry bushes! Time to make blueberry cobbler. Mom is now interested in getting blueberry's contageous, hehe. She's seen how prolific my bushes have been and has now caught "blueberry fever". There's nothing better than pesticide-free, home-grown fruit and vegetables. My pepper plants (Serrano, Jalapeno, Bell and Bolivian Mini) are doing fine, too. The Bolivian peppers are similar to the peppers I used to harvest off of a bush in my backyard in Playa del Carmen, Mexico (they grow wild down there). One tiny little pepper would flavor an entire dish! My West-Indian (Guyanese) ex-boyfriend used to bring me peppers like these whenever he'd go home to visit his family in his country. Tiny peppers are my favorite, so versatile and you can freeze them. The kind in Mexico that grew wild were Tabasco, and if I can find plants here, I will buy them next year (too late for this season by now). They don't winter over since they are native to Mexico, but I'd pot them and bring them inside for the winter. The bush I used to pick from was big (nearly four feet tall and three feet wide), and loaded with peppers. My Bolivian peppers are two feet so far, and I will bring them in when it gets cold.

Well, it's back to my marathon now. Things to design, coffee to drink. Gearing up for the upcoming Christmas season. It's not work, it's my passion.

Random countryside photos near my house

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Hobbies and Staying in on a Rainy Day

It's dark and rainy out here in the country, a good day to stay in and do things around the house. I made sugar cookie dough and am chilling it in the fridge as I work on my computer, making more watches for my website. This recipe is just like the store bought cookies, but with fresh ingredients instead of a cocktail of questionable additives and chemicals (I use half pure walnut oil and half butter for the shortening, for a change, along with half whole wheat pastry flour and half white flour. After they're baked, I frost them using my usual homemade buttercream icing. It's so easy that I don't even measure anything, just a handful of this and a little of that. It's foolproof. Fun to make on a rainy day.

Though it is August, it's time to gear up for the upcoming Christmas holiday season. I've been designing watches for the last week, and have many more to do still. We will be getting other new products in soon, so it's good to get them done now, before Zazzle introduces the next new products. I like to keep up with it all, to keep the stress down and not fall behind in getting products in my stores in a timely manner. A pot of coffee and music on the stereo as I work, and the marathon goes on until I am too tired or worn out to think anymore. It pays to keep "fresh", so I have to stop and reboot here and there..don't want the quality of work suffering by pushing it too hard.

My teeth were bothering me (infection, etc) a few days ago but they are doing better now after seeing my dentist and being vigilant with using mouthwash, toothpaste, etc. It's frustrating and worrisome to have to deal with recurring gum infection problems, but I take it one day at a time and hope for the best. I just think of a year ago (and earlier) when my teeth were so very bad and I was truly suffering. This is nothing compared to that, thank goodness. I've become much more aware of my oral health, better late than never.

As the holidays approach, I'm getting in the mood to make wreaths again. It's a total departure from what I normally do but it's a good change of pace, which is needed every now and then. As a kid, I always engaged in many hobbies involving creating things (pottery thrown on the wheel, enameling, realistic sculpture, murals on buildings and on floors (for my alma mater, Laurel School). Then there was the aquarium keeping era, raised tropical fish of most kinds, but tired of all the work and stopped that. My energy level is much lower than when I was young. I want to get back into horseback riding but will wait until I lose more weight, and get a better pair of riding boots. Have the helmet and some of my old riding gear, just want to be more in shape and save up because it's an expensive hobby, even out here in the country. Riding is such good exercise. I miss having my own horse but will work hard in hopes of getting back into the sport steadily before I get too old to do it. It's all good motivation for my workaholid tendencies. Fuel for my inner fire.

Mom and dad are doing well. They are worried because two feral kittens (that have been living on their front porch) have disappeared. We hope that someone adopted them, they were so cute. The mother cat is still living on the porch, poor thing probably wonders where her babies went. My folks have enough cats already, so I just hope that the babies are somewhere safe and happy. They need to get the mother kitty spayed so she doesn't make more in the future. UPDATE: The kittens came home two days later. Not sure what happened to them to be missing like that, but they are back, living at my parents' house, on the porch, happy and healthy. :)

Mom's garden is huge, growing like crazy and very prosperous. Her herbs are super-sized, and she uses him in her cooking. Mom is the best cook. She could give Martha Stewart a run for her money. Her roses (the ones given to us by a kind nursery owner because they needed some TLC) are doing great. We sprayed all our rose bushes with fungicide and got rid of the diseased leaves, and now both her plants and mine are leafing and even budding! They are Mister Lincoln roses which are longstem, with deep red flowers. Mom already has an amazing Chris Evert rose plant (deep apricot/yellow/orange) that is just stunning. My other roses range from a miniature rose bought at Heinen's (orange/yellow) and pink "ground cover" roses. I grew roses as a kid here and there, always had gardens then, and now it's back to growing them again. Mom's been growing everything, all of my life. She and dad are near-experts at it, but dad doesn't garden anymore. He stopped gardening when I was a kid. Being raised on a farm, he got away from it when he became an architect (when I was a baby) and didn't have time to do it much after that. But mom loves it, and I do, too.. guess it's in the blood.

My garden flowers...and Farrah, garden monitor

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Watches! We Now Sell Watches!

I am a watch designing factory right now. It's new and I'm loving it! It's something all us Zazzle storeowners have been waiting for, and the time has come. We have eight new styles including:

Classic Stainless Steel
Vintage Leather Strap
Kid's Stainless Steel
Kid's Adjustable Bezel Stainless Steel

I've been on a marathon, working on these items, and will be for quite awhile. I even opened a new store called "Watch It" at

I will have watches on both the Watch It store and at my main store, Two Purring Cats Clothing & Gifts at

Friday, August 02, 2013

Late Summer..Keeping Calm and Carrying On

It's a busy start to August but very comfortable, with cool winds and cloudy but blue skies. I have been under quite a bit of general stress, not one thing..just lots of little things..and so I've been working to take a break from drawing (can't draw or do much of anything if too stressed). It feels good to drive in the country or work in the garden, organize my office and downstairs desk, just this and that. It isn't easy being me. I want to accomplish a lot and have to plan to do it because my brain gets all fragmented. So many thoughts and ideas, and then other times, none. My business is ok, despite the upheaval of losing our own personal HTML coding that used to customize our stores. Customers are still coming. No need to worry. Just keep moving forward.

Mom and dad have had car trouble lately and needed help getting around, so today I took them to the store. We went out to eat, dad's treat, for breakfast on the terrace of a restaurant we like. Good home cooking, my favorite. It felt great to sit there over coffee, Belgian waffles topped with strawberries and just talk. We all needed it, they were feeling stressed too. We used to eat at restaurants nearly all of the time when I was a kid so when we go out now (less frequently), it feels like old times. Love it. Most of our favorite restaurants are in Beachwood (where they used to live) but we have some favorites out here in the country, too. It's more laid back and less formal here, which is nice. There's a great golf club down the street from me that has a good restaurant that we all like, too. We just sit out on the terrace overlooking the lake and take in the beautiful environment there. So atmospheric.

Pretty soon I will need to get another car, as mine needs repairs more frequently. I'll keep this car as a back-up, having learned the lesson to never get rid of a car that runs when getting another. It's not a bad car, just need it to be used less frequently to preserve its life. As a single woman alone, it pays to have back-up when living out in the country. As for getting another, I'm in no hurry. Takes time and research to find the right one, sometime next year if all goes well.

After doing chores with my parents here and there, we went back to their place, then I went home. The cats were (as always) excited to see what I had in the grocery bags. Like a good cat owner, there is lots of cat food. They eat better than I do, lol. They have no idea how good they have it, despite knocking over a pot holding one of my orchid plants last night, severing the flowers from the plant and breaking the pot. The cats are fine, but so much for the flowers. It's ok, cats are's their job to be naughty at times. So, I have what amounts to a corsage sitting in water here on my desk. The plant is ok - it will bloom again, but the pot is a goner. Life goes on.

I've known a few people who have had tough times in particular..a friend who divorced her husband apparently encountered a new man who disappointed her somehow (I didn't ask details). I feel for her, been there more times than I'd like to admit. This one cheated, that one got transferred. Another one was a lying snake who had lovers in different cities, that one went back to his native country. Yep, been there. Still, there is hope in finding someone who is ok. She will, I know it. As for me, I don't really know how to flirt and am pretty reclusive by nature. I rarely get interested in anyone out of fear of being hurt but when I am, I just keep my mouth shut and sort of freeze up. I'm not shallow, just timid underneath the big personality. Any man who liked me would have to tell me or I'd never get it. My friend is more open and enthousiastic about things, her spirit hasn't been broken yet. She was married to her ex a long time, they were high school sweethearts. She hasn't experienced (luckily) the full scope of frustration that dating brings yet so she has confidence in it, despite a momentary setback. I wish her the absolute best and hope she finds someone that is good to her! I hate to see my friends feeling rejected..if someone doesn't treat you right...NEXT!

The garden is doing well. I have a new bud coming on one of my rose bushes. It had been so messed up when it was given to me, but with fungicide, plant food and some love, both rose bushes have taken off and are doing fine. The blueberry bushes are turning out loads of berries. It's wonderful..and next year I'll get more berry plants (strawberries, maybe raspberries). I have a book on raising fruit plants now and have been studying it. Nothing beats fresh fruit with no preservatives. After making a blueberry crumb pie last week, I already have a heaping cup of blueberries in my fridge..and more are coming every day. Love it.

So, all in all, it's been a good late Summer so far. In the near future I will be offering watches in my stores. I am gearing up for work marathons, getting my creating mojo back in action. Mom and dad are enjoying their Summer, despite setbacks and issues in their lives at times. They are safe, have what they need and love their cats. How I wish my businesses would really take off so I could help them when they need it. Until then, they are doing their best and are in great spirits. Keeping busy is the best thing. Why I've always been a workaholic. Learned it from them. Just keeping calm and carrying on..the only way to be!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Good Riddance to Ariel Castro, Murderer and Kidnapper

Today, Ariel Castro, kidnapper and rapist of three women who he held captive for over ten years, has finally been sentenced to life in prison. Good, now those women can now heal from the trauma of the ordeal and he can finally shut up. That narcissistic man was full of excuses, trying to control the sentencing by airing his opinions, interrupting the judge, proclaiming that HE was the victim. Whatever. What an idiot. He's a sexual predator, rapist and murderer. He did unspeakable crimes to those women, who now surely have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and they will have that for the rest of their lives. I also have PTSD and though it doesn't show on the outside as much, it's a state of high anxiety inside that never turns off, making it hard to sleep, concentrate (when overly stressed) and trust. These women are strong survivors who will now get on with their lives and be victors, not victims. It takes time, therapy and patience on a lifetime basis to help heal the emotional damage.

Healing from PTSD is all about learning to get rid of old, destructive thought patterns and replace them with new, healthier ones. Depression, anxiety and fear cause the sufferer to feel negative, unworthy and sad. This is why I have spent my life working on being positive, to not walk around with a storm cloud over my head, and to have my own opinions..undoing the put-downs/depersonalization of victimisation. Feeling unworthy is a knee-jerk reaction left over from abuse. A very strong habit that is hard to break. When someone like Castro inflicts cruel dominance and violence on the women, they had to feel very fearful and afraid to do anything. Anyone who can be held for over ten years like that in captivity had to feel extremely conditioned to fear punishment if they tried to leave. This happens in child abuse, too. Constant fear of being hurt/punished, either mentally or physically. It's a mind screw of the highest order. When your adrenaline never stops pumping, it becomes "normal", and then sleep is impossible, shutting down the brain is hard. I use DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), learned years ago, and it is extremely helpful to me. Anyone with PTSD should try it, take the time to learn the principles and see how it can help control the fearful/stressed mind. It's not a cure-all, but it is good. I use it all the time, it becomes habit after a lot of practise.

Another part of surviving abuse is the hypersensitivity. When your adrenaline never backs down, it's like being "wired" all of the time. I am hyper aware of peoples' facial expressions, attitudes and speech. I had to be when growing up, because it was a survival tool. Now it is not necessary but still there. I appear calm on the outside, but inside, my mind is processing everything anyone says or does around me, wondering if they can be trusted, or should be avoided. Castro's victims will surely do the same, and need kindness, comfort and respect. Feeling sorry for someone with PTSD is the worst thing anyone can do. We are not crazy, PTSD is a wound, not a mental illness. It's a "normal" reaction to abnormal, trauma filled experiences on a longterm basis (in this case and in my own). We are tough survivors, not victims. Speak softly but carry a big stick. I'm a lover, not a fighter but no pushover. They surely aren't, either. That was evident in Michelle Knight's victim statement in court today.

I am sure these young ladies will be able to live better lives in time, now that they have their own families back and loving support. They are free, and can now go about being the individuals that they are. The human spirit is tougher than abusers (who are mentally disordered narcissists and cowards, in my opinion). It's so great to see these women have the last word in court and now the work of healing begins. And it is work, hard work. Life goes on. The best thing to do is to work on it piece by piece, lesson by lesson, to learn to overcome old (fear/anger/stress)habits and replace them with hope, love and happiness. It's a process, two steps forward, one back. They are courageous. As for Castro, he can go away now, forever, to prison. Nothing he says or does can undo the severe damage that was done. Stick a fork in him, he's done. Enjoy prison, dirtbag..lots of men in there are also addicted to sex.

For anyone unfamiliar with the case, here's a link: