Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beautiful Bride


No, I did not get married again!

I am starting to sort through my London pictures. So many great ones!

This is me with my dear friend, Bonnie. I opted out of the black dress, deciding a nice suit was more my style!
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DC Trip - Part 8


More photos...apparently I can only load about 3 or 4 at a time....I am having so much fun going through my photos and wondering about making a slideshow. I wonder what music I would use? Something patriotic, perhaps, or this batch is very eery....maybe some sort of spooky or sci-fi music! :)
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DC Trip - Part 7


More photos that were too much for Part 6.
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DC Trip - Part 6


Here are some random photos from our first day in DC that I really like. There are tons of photos that I just love from this trip....the lighting on this day especially was so great!
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pens at

My name is Dakota and I am an office supply addict.

I admit it, I could spend hours in an office supply store that lets me test the pens and feel the paper. I love the way office supplies smell - fresh and new - and how they feel in my hand. I am a complete sucker for a good pen. I am partial to gel pens and love the Uniball ones we have at work. OK - well, I have to ask for them to be specially ordered, because if everyone had access, they would just disappear! I just saw a really nice looking Uniball gel pen that is a step up from the inexpensive plastic ones we get at work. This one look classier. I can tell it would feel good in my hand - just heavy enough, with a cushion grip for comfort. I can almost feel the gel ink smoothly spreading across the paper as I dash off a quick memo to myself to remind me of a task for later. It wouldn't be scratchy, or would be smooth and even-flowing. It looks classy - basic colors that won't clash with my outfit. OK, so that part really does not matter to me and I love loud colors....still, these colors would look professional, for office use. Really good if you are....oh, I don't know...a lawyer! :)

If I see one of these on sale, I may just have to pick one up!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Trip to DC - Part 5

Saturday morning we arose early....not quite as early as we'd hoped, but still...managed to get breakfast and head about an hour out to a train station, and then took a train into DC to avoid parking hassles. It was a rainy morning, and cooler than it had been, which was oddly nice. Rain didn't scare me, but it did keep the tourist population down for a while.

We first went to the Holocaust Museum, which was huge and very powerful. There was film-clip footage that I had no idea even existed, both of some of the atrocities that happened and of what US and Russian troops found as they liberated the concentration camps. Unbelievably sad and maddening. There was an interesting display about propaganda and Hitler's rise to power...frightening how relatively easily it happened. The most touching and deeply disturbing display was simply of shoes....thousands of shoes found at a concentration camp.....kid shoes, adult shoes, all styles and sizes. When I saw a shoe about Kaylen's size, I just started to cry. What that child must have witnessed, the complete helplessness and desperation the parents must have felt. All too much. So terrifying that thousands upon thousands of people let 11 million people be murdered. (Numbers somewhat uncertain.)

On a happier note, we then wandered by the Washington Memorial, took a long walk along the river over to the Jefferson Memorial, then back to the main mall for a short rest with our feet in a fountain at the WWII memorial, then up to the Lincoln Memorial and finally past the Vietnam Memorial. It was all much BIGGER than I thought....the size of the city, the grandeur of the monuments, and the distance between things. It was so much fun to see the sights I had only seen in movies or on TV. Whenever I see the National Mall, I think if pictures I saw of the AIDS quilt displayed upon it during the late 80's or early 90's. Not a happy memory, but of historical significance, which is what a trip to DC is all about.

Note: These are camera phone pictures. My "real" pictures are still on a disk in my camera and I have not gone through them. As you can tell, the sky was amazing and I think I may have gotten some really spectacular shots as the afternoon turned into evening. Stay tuned!

I Write Like....

This was a fun little test! Simply find a piece of your writing, cut and paste, and it is analyzed and compared with famous writers. I have no idea how many authors are in their database or if it is random.....but I still liked my results:

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

This is very appropriate! Stephen King has always been my favorite writer and I would love for my writing to be compared with his. Can't really argue with decades of success.

I love this quote of his about why he writes such terrifying stories, "Why do you assume I have a choice?"

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trip to DC - Part 4

Friday night, after the museum, we ended up going to a movie at GF's favorite theatre, which has seating like a regular theatre with long tables in front of each row. There is a full menu and you can order dinner, popcorn, dessert, alcoholic beverages, whatever you want and be served during the movie, up until the last 45 minutes.

We had drinks and shared a pizza, talked about the motorhome repairs that had been required before GF put her motorhome up for sale, and what we would do in DC the next day. Somewhere in there we watched The Last Airbender in 3D. It was OK, but could have been better. My sense is that it may have been too complex for some children, but did not offer enough depth (or talented actors) for most adults. Still, it was a good night, and I went to bed with a much greater appreciation for the area than I had before and excited to see DC the next day.

Trip to DC - Part 3

On Friday, I was on my own to explore Winchester, VA, or wherever I chose to drive. GF had to work, so she turned over the rectangular bar that serves as a key to her Prius and I was on my way! First off - love the car! I kept the "key" in my travel wallet that was slung across my body, so every time I walked up to it, it recognized me and unlocked the doors. The car starts with the push of a button and drives like a dream. Way cool!

I ended up first at the visitor's center watching video's about the area's civil war history, then about tourism. Then I went to see Abram's Delight on the same grounds as the center. It is the oldest house in Winchester and was built in 1754. It has been restored, contains many of the original furnishings and other period pieces and I was given a personal tour by a girl who appeared to be all of 16. She was nice and did a good job with the history.

Next I visited a building that served as George Washington's office while Fort Loudoun was being build in 1755/56. Winchester is where George Washington's political and military career started, so he plays a prominent part of the area's history.

I later drove out to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, which, according to its website, "interprets the art, history, and culture of the great valley for which it is named. This regional museum complex in Winchester, Virginia, includes a historic house dating to the eighteenth century, six acres of spectacular gardens, and a museum designed by internationally recognized architect Michael Graves."

I wandered the museum on my own and then picked up GF, who was done with work by then, to explore the gardens with me. That is her favorite part of the museum, so it was nice to experience together.

Trip to DC - Part 2

After Harper's Ferry, we headed back to GF's home in Virginia, got a little rest, and headed to her friends' house for a BBQ. I was excited to meet her friends in person because we've been texting each other for a few months now. They were warm, easy people to be around and we had a great time sitting on their back deck, listening to their kids splash in the pool, and finally eating dinner and watching fireflies. I love fireflies! I have not seen any since I was about 7 and we lived in Texas.

It was a beautiful, warm night and for a while worries about finances, the gulf oil spill and Asbestos cancer were far from my mind. It was nice to be sitting in my GF's world, experiencing life from her side of the country.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The New Neighborhood

It was the first weekend I spent with the kids and the new girlfriend in the new apartment. It all went quite well, considering two rowdy kids who are excited and need to be reminded that we are in an apartment with others around us. There was a lot going on in the neighborhood - neighborhood association sponsored a garage sale for anyone who wanted to participate, and the stores were having a big block party-type sale which included live music in various locations and free snow cones!

We found almost new, matching furniture at a garage sale right next door - kitchen table and chairs, chest of drawers and night table - for a great price, kids got lots of garage sale toys, many for free, and we enjoyed wandering the neighborhood. We got a new top mattress for the kids' bunk bed and a bed for the bedroom - all at one of the mattress superstores with the annoying commercials. Kids got new pillows. We stopped short of new lingerie - oh - and now we need sheets that fit the new mattress! So many things to think about about and purchase all at once....but it is starting to feel like a home.

Kids are waiting to visit tomorrow to see the completed bunk bed. They like it at the new place. I am glad.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Scanning for New TVs on Buy.Com

A new apartment means a new TV! Actually, I was OK with the idea of no TV. GF really does not watch TV, and the kids and I could get along with internet and DVDs. GF thinks we need one, and also pointed out that football season will be starting soon. She is a fan, which is funny, not just because I am not, but because she is one of the last people you would expect to like football - computer/techno geek, very spiritual, always reading, knows very few pop culture references.....I am amused.

Anyway, we started looking at TV's last night and this Samsung 32" LCD is one that we are considering. The picture is sharp, the price is very reasonable and...oh, who am I kidding, those are pretty much my only two criteria! It does have this other cool feature called ConnectShare™ Movie - "Connect a thumb drive or digital camera quickly and easily. Userfriendly interface allows access to videos, a music playlist and pictures via the remote" How much fun is that? Yes, exactly!

I have had other Samsung products and been quite happy with them. As you may recall, the netbook that I lusted after for months and finally got is a Samsung product, and computer whiz GF was so impressed she got herself one, too. So, we are feeling pretty good about the brand name. We'll do some shopping to see what is on sale with the kids this weekend and hopefully have a TV by the time the Direct TV installer arrives at the apartment on Monday!


Kaylen is wearing jeans! It has happened twice this week, that I know of. She has NEVER liked jeans, so this is HUGE!

She is so stinkin' cute it them.

Here, she is surfing on the swingset. Years of watching her brother do this has paid off!

Trip to DC - Part 1

I don't know if I mentioned previously that I had been planning a trip out to Virginia and WA DC to visit my girlfriend. Well, "planning" is perhaps an ambitious word....we had talked about it and figured eventually I would go out to visit her world, then things just fell into place and pretty soon I had airline reservations!

The week before I was to leave, the DC area was having record-breaking temps...over 100 degree days with close to 100% humidity. Apparently July and August are not the smartest times to visit our nation's capital. Oh, well, I figured any temp is fine for visiting....not like I am moving there!

I flew out last Wednesday night....11:00 pm flight....hanging out in the airport with weary travelers, parents with children and 20-somethings with their e cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. Two blissfully uneventful flights later, I landed at 9:00am eastern time in Baltimore. I'd never been to Baltimore.....within hours I had been in Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. Interesting how close the East Coast states are and how easily one can travel from one to another as compared to the West Coast.

On the way from Baltmore to Virginia, where GF lives, we stopped at Harper's Ferry, WV for lunch and site-seeing. It was amazing being right there in the location of the John Brown raid, which basically started the Civil War. Harper's Ferry was also the starting point of Lewis and Clark's expedition - which ended over in the area I call home, and the site where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers converge. Thomas Jefferson declared that the view was worth crossing the Atlantic. Unfortunately, I only had my camera phone with me, but still, got some decent shots.

Jefferson Rock:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Useful Accessories -

I have been traveling a lot lately and found an inexpensive item that has been priceless. It is basically a travel wallet that I can sling over my shoulder. It is big enough to hold both my very small camera, and my phone, plus money and miscellaneous things - like my baggage claim receipts. I bought it a few years ago, and Casey claimed it was a purse.

It is SO not a purse. :)

It is only about big enough to put a passport in, as far as width and height goes....then there are a few pockets - two zippered ones on the outside, and if you flip it open, a couple more inside. The entire unit clips closed with a buckle. You could put too much in it and make it bulky and not particularly usable, but I have managed to find just the right combination. It is perfect when traveling in warm weather because I can hold my phone and camera in it when my shorts pockets might be too loose ore get wet playing in sprinklers, and great for going through airports because all the little "pocket stuff" can be carried in it and tossed into the bin and through the z-ray machine with ease.

The one pictured is not exactly like the one I have, but is similar. Usually these can be found for sale with travel accessories like luggage locks, power converters and sleep pillows, or I got mine at an outdoor store where it was with other bags, backpacks and wallets.

Zhu Zhu Everywhere - even

The Zhu Zhu Pet craze hit our family last Christmas and though it subsided for a time, appears to be going strong again. Kaylen received a small starter set - a few tubes and two pets - for Christmas. From time to time, she plays with them, or asks for a new one.

Recently though, both kids caught the bug for these small electronic hamster-like creatures. They really do look like hamsters and the play sets are similar to the old Habitrail tubes and cages we all grew up with. They even have a hamster ball for the Zhu Zhu pet to run around in. There are several different colors - and each character makes her own sound and has a unique design on her back. There are various accessories, like cars, outfits, and babies with strollers that can be purchased separately to increase the Zhu Zhu collection.

The kids, especially Kaylen, have worked hard weeding and doing other chores to earn money to buy more pets and accessories. At first, most of the pets were either sort of gender-neutral or "girly." Now there is a line of pets targeted for boys - they are Kung Fu pets or other versions of warrior-like creatures that can do battle. Same creatures, different gear and costuming.

They are pretty cute, I have to admit. They are soft and when you press on a place on their back "come to life" and they make whatever their unique sound is...quiet sounds, not terribly obnoxious. Their wheels allow them to run on a track and sensors make them back up and turn when they hit something.

They seem to be on sale pretty much everywhere. In fact, it is sometimes hard to find the pets themselves as they seem to sell out fast, leaving mostly accessories on the store shelves. Pretty clever gimmick and way lower maintenance than real hamsters! Call this mom a Zhu Zhu fan!

Wine Personality?

Pour Your Personality Wine Quiz

Here are my results:

Friends might have to start calling you Cabernet. Big and bold is the name of your game. You live life to the fullest. Carpe Diem might even be your motto in life.

Here's To You!

This is funny because a good Cabernet is my favorite!