In Tune with June – 365 Pictures update

It has been quite a while since I added any of the pictures I’ve been taking.  Here are a few of my recent ones:

#169 – In honor of Father’s Day I picked this one of my dad helping me blow out the candles on the occasion of my first birthday.  Somewhere I have one of him holding me but I couldn’t find it now (of course – which leads me to add sorting photographs to my current to-do list!)  My dad passed away about 35 years ago so he didn’t get to meet my husband or our kids, a fact that I’m a little sad about.  I know he can see from heaven, but I am pretty sure my kids would have gotten a kick out of him.  Wasn’t I a cute kid?  There is a sparkly thing on my left hand which I am pretty sure is a ring given to me by my godparents.  Who in their right mind would let a little kid have a choke magnet like that?  

#158 – Speaking of fathers, my husband has this to say to any guys who want to date his daughters.  Any girl who wants to date our son has me to answer to 🙂  (No, my husband has not ever actually been in jail – just in case you were wondering).
#160 – We had our full moon.  I took a clearer picture of the moon itself but I kind of like the way the clouds are forming around it in this one.  Kind of looks like angel wings to me.  
#164 – Book #10 on my reading challenge.  This was a good one that I had heard a lot about but never read.  Actually made me cry a little.

#168 – Tuesday’s With Morrie was a quick read so here is book #11.  This is based on a true story of a Holocaust surviving family.  It is one of the “mystery books” that Bill brought home from Oregon.

#161 – One foot in front of the other.  I’ve been walking around our neighborhood to get some exercise in and trying to take note of the world around me as I walk.  I happened to catch this shot by accident but kind of like it.  Reminds me that it takes putting one foot in front of the other to get to my goals.
#166 – This is one of the interesting looking flowers I saw at Safeway.  I’m not sure what it is (my father, the florist, would be disappointed in me I think for not knowing the names of all the flowers), but I really like the way it looks.  

So, there you have some of the pictures I’ve been taking this month.  I am “cheating” in that sometimes I take more than one picture a day that way when I get to a day I forget, I have one to add.  Sometimes I have to take two or three in one day to catch up.  I set the rules for this game I’m playing so as long as I end up with 365 pictures for this year, I’ll consider it good.  What do you think of these?  Have you read Tuesday’s With Morrie?  Taken any walks in your neighborhood?  Have rules for people who want to date your children?  Love to hear about it!

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April 2017 – #Atozchallenge – Suddenly S

If you pay attention to the dates on the blog then you’ll know this is seriously past due for the A to Z challenge.  I made it one of my goals, though, to finish the letters so here is my letter “S.”

Sade is one of those singers like Adele, who does not tour very often.  When she came out with her “Soldier of Love” CD we were hoping she would do a show near us.

John Legend was the opening act, which was a pleasant surprise.  His first song was a cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep!”  We had some real Legend fans around us who kept shouting, “Sing it, John!”  “That’s right!”

Sade took FOREVER to come out.  We had heard rumors that she was slow to start her shows but we were beginning to get frustrated.  All that changed, however, when the first beats of “Soldier of Love” started and she rose from underneath the stage.

She sang songs from the new album and also lots of her hits from other albums.  She had a really good backup band.  When she came out for her last few songs after a costume change, she wasn’t wearing shoes!  I thought that was pretty funny.

Unfortunately, because she was so late in starting the show, we had to leave before the encore or we would miss the last BART train home.  Still, it was a great show and she has not done a big tour since then so I’m glad we went.

Even though the challenge was over a month ago, you can still click over to the main A to Z Challenge page to see what other participants have come up with for this letter.

I have one more letter left, “V,” and then I really will have finished the A to Z!

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In Tune With June – Another Mystery Blogger Award!

Interestingly, I was nominated for another Mystery Blogger Award!  Since I have already participated once (read that here) I decided not to go ahead and do the full list of requirements, but I will answer the questions posed by the person who nominated me, Miss Andi.

Miss Andi is one of the bloggers I ran into during the A to Z challenge.  She talked about living courageously, something we all need to do!

Miss Andi asked the following questions:

1.  Why do you blog?  Do you have any specific goals?  Have you reached any yet?

  • I blog because I think I secretly want to be a writer.  Or maybe I just like to talk and no one around me listens?  Originally I started blogging hoping to get some increased traffic to my Etsy site.  That is still one of my goals.  Also, I’d love to be able to supplement my income by making some money blogging.  That is something I am investigating now, since my transcription business is diminishing.
2.  Are you planning/dreaming about writing a book?
  • When I was younger I used to write stories all the time.  I even submitted one to a magazine once.  Unfortunately, they did not accept it but at least I tried.  I don’t know about writing a whole book, but see question #1 about making money blogging!
3.  Who is your favorite writer/blogger?
My Agatha Christie Collection
  • My favorite writer has to be Agatha Christie.  I fell in love with her mystery stories at a young age.  As far as bloggers, I ran into quite a few good ones during the A to Z.  See my list in my reflection post.
4.  Do you think blogging will stick around in the era of podcasts, videos, Snapchat, etc?
  • In my opinion, yes.  There are people who are a bit technically challenged who may be able to master typing a blog post but not uploading a video or people who would prefer not to show themselves in front of a camera.  (Naming no names and admitting nothing!)
5.  What do you consider the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
  • That is a really tough question.  I moved out on my own at age 21.  I had three children without anesthesia of any kind.  I started my own transcription/secretarial service 16 years ago.  I have participated in a couple of craft fairs to try to sell the cards and things I make.  All of those things took a lot of courage (at least to me).  
+1.  If you could be an animal for a day, what would you choose and why?
  • Definitely a cat.  I watch our cat lay around in the sun all day and do nothing and it just looks so inviting.  Not a care in the world!  
So, there are the answers to the questions posed by Miss Andi, another deserving Mystery Blogger Award winner 🙂
How about you?  What animal would you like to be for a day?  Done anything that took a lot of courage?  Love to hear from you!  

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In Tune With June – Believe It or Not

Each year for the past few years I have chosen a word of the year.  In 2014 it was “Courage” and in 2015 it was “Change.”  In 2016 it was “Focus” and this year it is “Believe.”  Throughout the year I try to incorporate that word into my life in lots of different ways.  Some are obvious, some not so much.  I wear it in a locket around my neck and I have little notes in different spots on my planners and things.

Sometimes the word shows itself to me in very unexpected ways.  The background:  We were offered 4 free nights in Reno, which is our usual getaway at this time of year to celebrate our anniversary (33 years) and so I booked them for the end of May.  My husband has been retired since June of last year and we are living on his retirement and pension plus my transcription work (I am self-employed doing medical transcription for the last 16 years).  Things were going reasonably well and since it was Memorial weekend I figured I could take a few days off. 

Then little things began to pop up that made me have some second thoughts.  Bill was injured at work a few years ago and we are expecting a settlement from his Workers’ Comp which I was hoping would come before the trip.  It did not.  During the weeks before we were set to go I lost one of my transcription clients (he retired without warning) and the volume from another major client has significantly decreased so my income basically has been cut in half overnight.  I really agonized about whether to cancel the trip and stay home and was trying to think about ways that I could start to supplement my income – maybe even go out in the “real world” and get a job.  I decided we should go ahead and go on the vacation and we could start exploring new ideas when we got back.  After all, the hotel rooms were free and we were going to be doing some inexpensive, fun things while we were there.  If our financial situation is changing, we probably won’t be able to do a trip like this again for a while.    

While in Reno we went on a Big City Hunt which I wrote about in a previous post.  One of the places we were led to was a sculpture in the middle of the city.  We approached it from the side and all I could see at first was a tall metal piece with birds cut out in it.  Bill was a bit ahead of me and he said, “Honey, look at what it is.”  As I turned the corner to see the whole sculpture I just lost it and started crying.  This is what I saw:

Even with the person sleeping on the bottom leg of the middle “E” it was still very impressive.  I felt like a shock went through me.  I held onto Bill and the tears just came.  I had not told him of my concerns because I didn’t want to worry him and then when I started crying, I explained my fears.  He held me and being the sensitive guy he is, he totally got what I was feeling.  There was another couple there and we took their picture in front of the sign and they took ours.  Don’t know why we didn’t move to one of the other letters so the guys feet wouldn’t be in the picture.  Guess I was still a bit emotional.
Then Bill took one of me:

Talk about a sign, huh?  We had a really good time while we were away and now that we are home, I believe that we will find a way to make things work.  I have to.

How about you?  Ever get a sign like that?  Do you pick a word for the year?  Have any transcription work you need done?  Want me to make a special scrapbook album for you?  I have some time 🙂 

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In Tune with June – Big City Hunt Scavenger Hunt

For our recent trip to Reno, since we were going to be there for four nights and there was no way we could afford to gamble all that time, I looked for other things that we could do.  I got us tickets to see the Reno Aces play the Sacramento Rivercats (the San Francisco AAA baseball team) for one of their night games and we were going to see a friend of ours play in a softball game as well.  I wanted to do something else and I remembered that I had gotten us a Big City Hunt Scavenger Hunt to do in San Francisco but we hadn’t had a chance to do it yet.  I looked to see if they had one in Reno and sure enough they did, and they were having a sale so it was only $22 for the two of us.  I figured it was a good way for me to incorporate some exercise into our trip since I was giving myself permission to relax a bit on my healthy eating program.  The Scavenger Hunt is a walking tour but it is self-directed so I knew we could take our time and not be under any pressure.

I must admit we did not begin very well as I started us off in the wrong direction.  Much to my husband’s credit, he did not get too upset or give up on the excursion just because of that.  I did get to take a few cool pictures:

Good luck message to start the walk.
Huge butterfly.

Stars on a star

Some kind of accident happened here!

Looks like an ice castle.

Love this winged horse.
After I got us back on track, we started the actual hunt.  Our first stop was at a park that had a large mural on the wall.  The question we were asked was about one of the figures depicted on the wall.

I love this mystic Indian

Just in case you decide to take this hunt, I’m not going to give away the answers or tell all the specific locations…

Next was an outdoor amphitheater and then came a church.  My husband went around the side to see if we could actually enter the church and got some pictures for me.

It was a beautiful day and we tried to walk on the shady side of the street as much as possible because it was afternoon and the heat sometimes affects my husband.
After the church, we were led to a sports bar.  Perfect timing to wet our whistles!  Along the way we ran into this antique shop.  We could definitely have spent all day in this place!  So many cool things!

This old typewriter was one of my favorites.

We felt right at home at this sports bar!

Definitely a San Francisco sports fan!

Interestingly, the bartender did not know that the bar was part of the scavenger hunt.  We told him about it in case they got credit for people who make it there, but since he never heard of it, I guess that’s not part of the game.  Still, as I said, we felt right at home!

Next was a walk over the bridge to the other side of town.  The river was quite high thanks to the good rain we had.  

Some beautiful clouds in the sky!

It’s hard to tell from the picture but there is a waterfall across the front of that building.  Very neat.
Next stop was to a structure in the middle of the city.  We came upon it from the side so I could not see what it really was until we got right in front of it:
This deserves its own blog post since it is my word of the year.  Stay tuned for that.
Fittingly, since it was Memorial Day, the next stop was a Veterans Memorial:

it was a very moving tribute to all branches of the Armed Services.  
We could have stopped at this point but there was one more place on the hunt so we decided to continue.  
My husband asked if I wanted to go inside but I figured I had put him through enough already so I said no.  Next time I may make that a spot to visit.  When we submitted our final points for the Hunt, we were in about 4th place but we didn’t submit pictures along the way and we took our time.  Submitting pictures and speed could get you more points, but it wasn’t really about that for us.  
On the way home we found some more interesting things to look at.  I think my husband would have done very well at this sandbag toss if I hadn’t tired him out with all the walking!

This is called The Eddy and has lots of different games to play.

We made it back to the hotel and were not too worse for wear.  Later in the evening we were walking outside and I saw the statues I had taken in the beginning all lit up:

I should have crossed the street to get the “ice castle” closer but I didn’t.  
All in all we had a great time in Reno (even if we didn’t win any money gambling).  I would definitely recommend the Big City Hunt if you have time on your next getaway, or even if you just want a fun thing to do on a day off in your home town.  My husband and I did it by ourselves but you could get a whole group together and try it that way.  You can set roles too, tour director and photographer were what we chose, but if you have more people you can have more roles.  I am looking forward to doing the one in San Francisco.  Bonus, we can do it in the middle of the week so it shouldn’t be as crowded.  
Have you ever done a Scavenger Hunt like this?  Won big in Reno?  Love to hear about it.  

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Man, It’s May! Weight Loss Progress

So I’ve been mentioning in a few posts that I am following the Hungry Girl Program and have been pretty faithful since September of last year.  I am not out to break any speed weight loss records but instead am taking it slow and steady, that way I don’t feel like I am depriving myself and I am making it a sustainable habit.  So far I’ve lost a little over 43 pounds and have not been at this weight since 2006.

Here is a comparison photo from August 2016 to February 2017 and then one from today.

In addition to following the plan, I’ve begun taking a walk around our neighborhood daily and doing some plank exercises at night before bed.  I am definitely not a fan of exercise and though I had a membership to Planet Fitness a few years ago, I think I only went 10 times in a year and a half.  I don’t run.  I have never been a runner.  When I walk I listen to music and use the time to look at the world around me and do some thinking.  When I first started doing planks I could only hold it for 30 seconds.  Now I am up to at least 2 minutes or more.  It requires no special equipment. 
I’ve been keeping a food calendar/journal since I started and write down pretty much everything I eat during the day and note the exercise I do.  I’ve been wearing a basic pedometer and keep track of my step count.  Since I work from home doing transcription which keeps me at a desk most of the day, I was not getting too many steps in.  I find that if I can get at least 6000 steps a day, I notice weight changes.  Each time I hit a lower number on the scale I give myself a star.  This month I have 4 stars so far!  That may only mean a loss of 4 ounces, but it is motivating me when I see the stars to keep going.  I also took my measurements so when I hit a patch where I feel like nothing is happening on the scale I re-measure and the decreasing numbers help me see that something indeed is changing. 
I am taking medication for diabetes and my most recent numbers were so good that if they continue to fall I may be able to cut it down, if not completely eliminate it.  Since diabetes is in my family and I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant, I am not surprised I have it now, but keeping control of it is important.  
Preparing four meals at a time is helpful, especially on those really busy days.
Drinking these teas has been a staple.

This is one of the “snacks” you can have – strawberries stuffed with ricotta cheese and topped with chocolate chips.  I could have had 6 stuffed strawberries but 4 was enough.

Trying new things like powdered peanut butter and tofu noodles have been pleasant surprises.  They are not half bad. 
I am about halfway to where I’d like to be but as I said, I’m not out for speed, I’m out for sustainability.  I can definitely tell the weeks and months I concentrate harder than others but overall I’m pretty pleased.  Weight is definitely one of those subjects that is kind of hard to discuss and I’m not at the point where I am comfortable putting my exact weight out there, but seeing the difference in the mirror is pretty cool.   
How about you?  Have a weight challenge/success story?  Love to hear it if you’d like to share.

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Man, It’s May! 365 Picture Update

It’s been a while since I shared the 365 pictures I’ve been taking.  Here are some of my favorites in no particular order:

#136 – We went to see the Giants play and in the concourse they have a case that shows the 3 World Series trophies.  I wanted a picture of them and my husband took this great shot.  It looks like I am standing in the middle of them but it is really my reflection in the glass!  Perfect illusion.  So good that another fan copied the idea!  You can see my husband’s hand holding his phone up in the middle trophy.  Next time we go I’m going to have to check out the other side of this case because our friend told us that they have the rings on that side!
#143 – This is a mini-album/Father’s Day card I made.  It is in the shape of a t-shirt and is sports related.  It is for sale on my Etsy shop and I am in the process of making another one that is tool related for the handyman.  I just got invited to participate in a Holiday Boutique in Redwood City in November.  The chairman of the event likes the things I have for sale in my shop and sent the invite.  I am honored!  
#193 – I’ve been taking a walk around the block almost every day and even though we have lived in this neighborhood for 20 years I am continually finding things I never noticed before.  This is in the sidewalk down the street from us.  It looks to me like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. 

#137 – One of the things I’ve been making in my Hungry Girl meals is an egg mug breakfast muffin.  I cook Egg Beaters in the microwave and then put them in an English muffin with a slice of cheese and/or a turkey sausage patty.  The eggs look so cool when they are cooking in the microwave.  They really puff up and it almost looks like it is going to overflow but it never does. 

#140 – Our anniversary was on May 20th and we’ve been married for 33 years, together for 35.   Ours is a true romance story which I’ve talked about before.   It’s still a good story and whenever I see a picture of a couple like this I think it is us.   This is by Mary Engelbreit from one of her desk calendars.  I can see us dancing along the shore in the sunset.

#142 – I went to the grocery store the other day and saw these gorgeous red, white and blue bouquets and my first thought was 4th of July, which is still a month and a half away!  I thought these flowers were never going to last that long.  When I posted that on Facebook, one of my friends reminded me of Memorial Day, which is this weekend.  That makes much more sense!

#141 – We went to a Stanford baseball game with our local Pony baseball team.  I had never been to the sunken field at Stanford and it was pretty cool.  It was a moving game on several levels.  The coach was retiring after 40 years coaching there and this was the last home game of the season so there were tons of tributes to him.  The game was a close one and Stanford eventually won in extra innings.  As we were leaving the game, I saw the tower on the Stanford campus.  Love this style.   

So there are a few of the more interesting pictures I’ve been taking this year.  I am up to date in my book and I think that’s pretty good for 144 days!  This year I think I’m going to attempt a slide show when the year is over and I have the complete set of pictures.

How about you?  What have you been up to for the last 144 days?

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