"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Scrapbook Pages

>> Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I haven't been able to do much lately with everything that is going on... But these two got finished in the last couple of days.

I really like this one. I wanted to bring some classic charm to the photo. I think I was able to achieve it with the background paper, the brads and the metal charm. You can't tell, but the brown background is a faux suede.

And this is a Wishblade creation for Caelan's baby book. The first food she fed herself was mac & cheese.
Really not much going on. Lots of time spent by the potty. House is in desperate need of cleaning. Almost done with the final Harry Potter book. Dull....


Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire

There is nothing I love more in the winter than curling up in front of a fireplace with a cup of tea, a few biscuits (preferably a really good shortbread) and a really good book. That is my idea of contentment.

And we actually have two fireplaces in our home. Unfortunately neither of them is really in a good spot for such a relaxing activity and both sit below televisions. But, since Doug and I have been talking about adding on to the house in the next couple of years I’m thinking I could build my perfect room: craft tables and lots of storage for scrapbooking and sewing, book shelves built in to the walls and a comfy chair snuggled up right in front of a fireplace.

Clicking around I was able to find this site that lets you design fireplaces. Very cool. So, should I design the room to go with the fireplace... Or the fireplace to go with the room?


3 Times!

>> Monday, July 30, 2007

Brenna used the potty three times today.

Only one accident. After Daddy got home and she was playing with a gift that we had just given her (leftover from potty party day) for wearing the samepanties all day long.

Yes, ironic. I know.


I'm Not Really Here

This week is going to be busy, busy, busy. Brenna is still working on using the potty so I am keeping an eye on her every minute. So far no accidents today. That's progress...

Right now I am also using part of the monster zucchini

to make chocolate zucchini cakes- one large bundt, one large loaf and a mini bundt in one of Brenna's pans.
Doug is working from home this morning so he can watch Caelan while I take Brenna to swimming lessons. Swimming lessons run through Thursday so Doug will be here every morning. It's a treat for the girls to see him in the mornings when he comes up from the dungeon to get coffee.
I finally started reading the last Harry Potter. I'm only getting in a few chapters at night before bed so it will probably take me until the end of the week to finish it. I really miss the days when I could curl up in a comfy chair and read all day.
I feel like I could ramble on but Brenna says she needs to use the potty and the zucchini cakes are almost done!


Poopy Happens...

>> Sunday, July 29, 2007

On the potty!!!

Happy dancing ensues...


Potty Party Update...Did It Work?

>> Saturday, July 28, 2007

Last night was spent preparing for the big day. Brenna and I were to be ensconced in the master bedroom/bathroom while Doug & Caelan had the rest of the house. The rooms were prepared for a princess and held games,movies, books, fun things to do while on the potty...

I even made a sign for the door:

First thing this morning Brenna got to open her big surprise:
She really enjoyed playing Mommy to "Dolly". Yes, it's an original name. My daughter can pretend to cook and her imaginary friends accompany us everywhere (lately it's Shreck,Princess Fiona & Donkey) but she can't give a doll name. Go figure.
We dressed up like princesses, played in the castle, had tea, read potty books and watched potty movies all morning.
And while Brenna was teaching Dolly how to use the potty she got in some fishing...
And bubble blowing... and she got a manicure and pedicure... Anything to keep her on the potty.

But the main point of the morning was for Brenna to teach Dolly to use the potty. Which she did. And did very well. By the end of the morning Dolly was using the potty like a pro.

(Tootsie Rolls with a bit of water really look like poo, huh?)

We had a celebration with mini cupcakes for lunch as a celebration for Dolly.

Then came quiet time. At which time Brenna, who had ingested 3 bottles of juice and some water and had sat on the potty numerous times, was put into a Pull Up- which she immediately wet.

No problem, we hadn't really started her training yet.

We began her training after naps. And I'll say this:
She knows when she needs to go and she will tell us "it hurts".
She knows where she is supposed to go.
She won't dirty her "big girl" panties.
But she will hold it in for hours- until she bursts or is put into a Pull Up (bed time and naps only).

So, did it work? I suppose the real test will be the next day or two. I think that if we don't fall back into putting her in Pull Ups during the day she will be completely trained by mid week. If we keep working with her and she keeps working with Dolly (who she loves and is sleeping with her tonight) I think we can count this as a success.

If nothing else it was a great bonding day for Brenna & I and for Daddy & Caelan.


It's A Potty Party!

>> Friday, July 27, 2007

Everything is getting in place... Tomorrow is the BIG DAY... Hopefully by tomorrow night at this time I can come back with a success story.

I'm gonna try to potty train in one day. Wish me patience and Brenna knowledge.

I'll be back to tell all tomorrow... With photos, I'm sure.


Fab Food Friday

Today I bring you a recipe that receives rave reviews no matter where I take it. When I took it to Mom's Group the normally reserved ladies each had two...
PS Cute pictures at the end of the post. Baby... Chocolate... Nuff said...

Chocolate Filled Breakfast Crescents

Recipe from Hersheys.com

2 cans (8 oz. each) refrigerated quick crescent dinner rolls
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 tablespoons finely chopped pecans (optional- we opted out)
CHOCOLATE GLAZE(recipe follows)
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Separate crescent dough into 16 triangles.

2. Beat butter in small bowl until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in milk and vanilla. Add cocoa; beat well. Stir in pecans.

3. Spread slightly heaping teaspoon chocolate mixture on each triangle within 1/2 inch of edges. Roll up; start at shortest side of triangle and roll to opposite point. Press all edges to seal completely. Place point side down on ungreased cookie sheet; curve slightly to form crescents.

4. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool to room temperature. Drizzle CHOCOLATE GLAZE over top of crescents. 16 crescents.

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons HERSHEY'S Cocoa
2 tablespoons water
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat; add cocoa and water, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Do not boil. Remove from heat; gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating with whisk until smooth. Add additional water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency. About 3/4 cup glaze.

Today I had an extra special baking buddy. And she helped with the most difficult part of any kitchen project...

The clean up!

A little more chocolate around the eyes and she would have "The Crow" goin' on... Or "The Joker", if you're a Batman fan. I'd take Brandon Lee, myself...


Mo' Money

Making money online is the new “work from home” job. But just how do you do it? There are so many options out there. One option is affiliate marketing. That used to be a difficult thing to do, but with SiteMighty.com all the difficulty is removed.

So, What is siteMighty? It's a pay as you go plan that helps you to create a working website. In about 5 minutes you can have a credit card affiliate website up and ready to make money.

Not sure if this is for you? Take the tour and see what it's all about.

With a 30-day free trial offer and no penalty for cancelling you really have nothing to lose.


Wow... That's A Mighty Big....


Honestly, it's 2 feet long and probably 12 to 15 inches around.

Doug brought it home from work. I'm guessing everyone there wants me to send more goodies...


An Easy Call To Make

According to my travel blog I have just over 8 months until we go to Ireland. I have been looking over possible itineraries, places to visit, and sites I would really like to see. I have also been pouring over my books of Irish bed and breakfasts so I can pick just the right places for us to stay. Because we are traveling with two small children and my mother we will need bed and breakfasts that can supply a cot (that’s a Pack & Play to us in the US), at least one room with two beds and, preferably, ensuite bathrooms.

Picking the right bed and breakfast is so important. And I did very well the last time we were in Ireland. Except for the final bed and breakfast. And, funnily enough, that is the only bed and breakfast that I didn’t actually call. So,in addition to emails, I plan to call on the places we want to stay.

To do that I use a phone card for cheap international calls I've found the Pingo phonecard provides great service and value. Their RateWatcher monitors savings and makes sure you get the best rate. And with their web based management system you can monitor your useage and make sure your profile is correct for that useage.

And because Pingo is a global phone card I will be able to use it to make calls from Ireland.

If your plans take you overseas or you just need a long distance calling card check out Pingo. If you sign up now you'll get $5 in free calls.


Bitching - You Might Want to Skip This

>> Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I hate my cat and if I see her sitting on my laptop one more time I may just throw her through a window.

Caelan has been fussy most of the day.

So has Brenna.

Except when their favorite babysitter was here... Then they were good.

I've gotten about 5 hours of sleep in the last two nights.

I need to visit my chiropractor something fierce.

My head is splitting.

I need to make 12 pairs of dolly panties before Saturday's "potty party". (More on that later)

I can't type.

I haven't even gotten to begin the new Harry Potter book.


Need A D8?

Doug and I met three times before we ever dated. Once in high school when I was dating long haired rocker wanna bes and Doug was in ROTC. Again, years later, when my sister was marrying his best friend- I was maid of honor, Doug was best man; I brought a date and Doug left with one. And finally, many more years later, when we were both single and attending a party at my sister and brother-in-law’s house. Third time’s a charm.

Of course Doug likes to tell that story with much more flourish and humor. Like how he was too much of a geek for me to date him the first time. Or how I was dating a male stripper the second time. And how I was finally ready for a real man when we met the third time. But what it comes down to is that we met through my friend (and future brother-in-law). Because that’s how you did it back in the day.

Now, of course, you don’t need friends to meet people. First came chat lines, then speed dating, internet dating and now SMS Dating.

With I Love Texting.com you create a profile and can instantly find new friends in your area and begin texting. The website is easy to navigate and the sign up looks easy; just a few questions and you’re set. Not sure just how to do it or what to say? You can check out their blog.

Of course it’s a good thing I am married as texting doesn’t come quite as easily to those of us who actually take the time to spell the words. I’m not even sure I could understand the language, as it were. It’s a shorthand my mind can’t quite comprehend. Maybe they should have a dictionary for people like me...

But if U want 2 D8 and U txt then this may B 4 U.


Don't You Love Me?

>> Monday, July 23, 2007

OK, I know it is only the 23rd... But scrap bribing has been up since Thursday and I have not one comment?

Do you not like it? Would you all prefer something "made"? More albums? Or cards? Created pages that you only have to add pictures to? Because I can do that...

Let me know... I can do something diffrent for this month...


Very Harry

After a very busy weekend filled with driving and extended family you would think that we would want to sit at home and relax on Sunday.

So did we. But after trying to relax with Brenna during Caelan's nap Doug and I realized that what we truly needed was some time away fro the girls. Because, honestly, sometimes you just do.

A quick phone call was made to my mom and about an hour and a half later the girls were both at her house ready to play with Grandma, and Doug and I were on our way to the mall.

We bought the new Harry Potter book, bought chocolate at Godiva, had dinner then went to the new Harry Potter movie.

So relaxing. And kid-less.

And then it was back to normal.

For the record: I enjoyed the movie. And I look forward to finding time to read the book. After I finish the book on potty training your kid in one day... and clean... and care for the girls... and make breakfasts, lunches, dinners...


A Nice ColdOne

>> Saturday, July 21, 2007

Caelan *seems* to be teething. I say *seems* because she has been acting like she is getting top teeth for about 2 months now. Still nothing.

She is not a fan of "normal" teething tools, instead choosing odd items. Like this cold (unopened) soda can. It must have felt good- she used it until it warmed up.


Fab Food Friday

>> Friday, July 20, 2007

Last week I told you that I sent zucchini cupcakes to work with Doug. They got rave raviews. I'm sure his students (co-workers who only wish they were as talented at Doug. I jest. Kind of.) wish I would send goodies every week.

So here is this week's recipe:
Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
A reader recipe from Everyday Food

Makes 12 * Prep Time 20 minutes * Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

You'll Need
1 1/2 c all purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 c packed dark brown sugar
2t baking powder
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/2 c coursely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 zucchini, coarsely grated (1 1/2 c)
1/3 c vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with paper cups.

In a medium bowl mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix in nuts.

In another bowl combine zucchini, oil, eggs and vanilla; add to flour mixture and mix until combined. Do not over mix.

Divide batter among cups. Bake until a toothpick insrted comes out clean; 40 to 45 minutes.

Cool completely.

Make cream cheese frosting:
Beat 4 T room temperature unsalted butter and 4oz room temperature bar cream cheese until smooth. Add 2 c confectioners sugar and 1/2 t vanilla extract. Beat until light and fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use.


How Many Servings Do You Get?

>> Thursday, July 19, 2007

The US Department of Agriculture recommends five to nine servings of daily vegetables to keep you healthy.

Five to nine.

How many do you get? I'm lucky if I get two; maybe three if I drink a V8.

I honestly can't tell you why I am so bad at eating my veggies. It may have something to do with mushy canned peas in grade school... But I digress. I'm quite vigilant about what the girls eat. They have fruits and veggies with every meal. Of course my meals have a tendency to wait until I am so famished that I just grab what is easiest; and although not unhealthy (as I don't keep junk in the house) I know I am missing key nutrients.

Because of this I am pretty interested in My Daily Veggies Free Sample.

It has half the calories and none of the sodium of V8 when mixed with water. Ta-Da! Instant snack or light lunch.

Or you can mix it in to your favorite foods. Tune up a boring burger, add some zing to your rice, heck, toss it in pizza or pasta sauce- you won't even know it's there.

I think I could use this as an alternative vegetable supplement pretty easily. And with My Daily Veggies Free Sample I really have nothing to lose.

Drink your veggies.


Jill's Book Bag

My BB (Blogroll Buddy) Jill has a monthly give away, too. It's called Jill's Book Bag. She gives away a book... in a bag. This month's book is I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb. A great selection.

So, head over to Jill's, enjoy her blog, tell her that I sent you...And check out the cute bag that comes with this month's book!



Brenna has been able to recognize all of her letters since early spring. Long before she "knew" the alphabet song she could point out letters and tell you what they were. So, just recently, I decided that she would begin learning how to print her letters. It's been a difficult process and we've only gotten the "A" done.

So I was really excited when I found these handwriting worksheets online. There are so many things that I love about this site, the first being that it's FREE!

I can create my own alphabet or writing worksheets and upgrade from print to cursive when Brenna is ready. Or I can use the ready-made worksheets.

This is a great find for me as I really want to teach my kids as much as I can. Besides, Doug's nephew is here visiting... And I can't read anything he writes. Maybe he could use a few lessons...


Wish I thought of this one too

Get your carbon offsets here...step right up...don't be shy.



Or how I (not this geek, some other geek) made money on the new Harry Potter book.


Scrap Bribing- "Rocket's Red Glare"

Here it is:

Your Scrap bribing bribery for July.

This bunch of goodies has 3 sheets of cardstock- 1 white and two reversible (stars & stripes); two custom Wishblade items- AMERICA spelled out in stars & stripes with small silver accent pieces that can be removed for use elsewhere and "rocket's red glare"; a light up fireworks sticker; and a set of red, white and blue stars accented with beading and silver.

I actually thought about creating a custom layout but I know that "I" hate it when things are all tacked down and not necessarily the way "I" would want them. If "I" were going to be crafting with theses pages "I" would probably use the stars & stripes pages as accent by tearing or cutting them and not necessarily use them as complete pages. But "I" will not be crafting these, now will I?

So, here's the rules:
*Write a post about this on your blog- don't forget to link back to this post!
*Leave me a comment letting me know that you gave me some linky love.
*On the 30th one of my lovely assistants will draw the winning name.

Good Luck!

PS If you like something I have created (just see my Wishblade label) or want me to create something for you- let me know! We'll work out a price...


Heading to London?

>> Wednesday, July 18, 2007

If you happen upon Platform 9 3/4 sometime you might just need this: A traveler's guide to the wizard world.

And for more fun for fans of Harry Potter visit The Harry Potter Lexicon.

Fun for Harry Potter fans of all ages.


Want The Scoop?

A new weblog is on the scene. Hoping to "facilitate discourse and dialogue on multiple topics in an open environment that is deferential to others’ opinions, free from vitriolic language, civil in debate, respectful in all spheres" GimmeTheScoop.com plays host to many topics.

From topics on their Business Blog discussing search engines and mortgage rates to topics concerning health and real estate, the blog tries to bring about polite debate and discussion.

All blogs have to start somewhere, and this one is no exception. I think Gaurav Bhola and his fellow bloggers have some great information to share. I look forward to future articles and an expanded range of topics. And more input from readers. This is a blog to keep watching.


Geeks Rule

Yet another in a long list of things I wish I'd done first. This has to be the most clever video game marketing ever...


What's Your Sign?

When you are promoting yourself or your business you use every means available to you. Including your car. I'm sure everyone has seen window decals and bumper stickers. The problem with those is that they are difficult to lay flat and even more difficult to remove.

The solution? Magnetic Signs for your car. BuildASign.com can help you design your custom magnetic sign quickly and affordably. If I had known I could get them for such a reasonable price we would have had them for Doug's senate campaign. Definately next time. Oh, yes, I'm pretty sure there will be a "next time".

BuildASign.com can help you with all of your signage needs. All at great prices and completely customized.

So, what's your sign?


Customer Service

This should be my final Kum & Go post. After I sent the email in this post I noticed that Kum & Go had commented on my first post.

Shortly after sending the email I received this:

Ms. (last name removed),

Thank you for contacting us regarding this issue. We certainly understand your frustration and sincerely apologize for this error. We are focused on answering concerns as quickly as possible to relieve any confusion and disappointment this may have caused.

Customer service is always one of Kum & Go’s top priorities. We understand this is a difficult situation and are doing our best to communicate with our customers. Please know that the actual winners in the Fuel Good Sweepstakes for June had already been selected and prizes were awarded as promised. As unfortunate as it may be, the sweepstake’s official rules do allow for situations as this, and we are managing all aspects of the program in accordance with those rules.

Again, we apologize for this mistake. We would like the opportunity to serve you again, and certainly welcome any future feedback from you as a customer.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any further questions or concerns regarding this issue.


Courtney Lansink

Public Relations Manager

Kum & Go, LC

To be quite honest I wasn't impressed by this response. I felt "brushed off", like the response was only because I had been hounding them.

I hadn't really decided what, if anything, I was going to do as my MIL, GrandMIL, Doug's nephew and his aunt were all due to arrive at any time. And, honestly, that was a much more pressing (and stressful) situation for me at that moment.

Forward to 2:30pm. The extended family is leaving to go visit someone else (the nephew went with them and will be spending the night with a cousin) and the home phone rings. Now, noone who knows us calls the home phone so neither Doug nor I made a move to answer it. The machine picked up and over the speaker I can hear that it is the PR manager from Kum & Go just wanting to make sure that I had received the email. I pick up.

We had a 15 minute conversation. I was able to air my grievances with their handling of the situation. Which, in all honesty, is all I wanted to do.

Mistakes were made and the entire situation was not handled correctly. And I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the company at this time. Will I do business with them again? Probably. Will I be as loyal of a customer as I once was? Probably not. They will have to earn my business again.


This Got Me Thinking

I read in our local paper the other day that one of my favorite restaurants- The Melting Pot- is looking for franchisees in our area. Now, I'm an OK cook but there is no way I desire to be a chef. But this... Heck, no cooking involved, it's all prep work. And every time I've been to one of their restaurants they are packed and have a waiting list for cancellations.

Of course opening a chain restaurant costs big bucks. But today I happened upon this website specializing in restaurant business loans.

So this gets my mind working...

If you're not into restaurants they offer small business loans, too.


Yet Another Attempt at Contact

>> Tuesday, July 17, 2007

So, I am again attempting to contact Kum & Go about their lack of customer service.

Here is the email:

I have contacted your company twice, once after receiving the initial phony
“winner” email (I was the second person to call about it and was assured that I would receive a phone call in response) and once after the “you are not a winner” notification.

And now I am contacting you again because I have yet to receive any response from your company. While I am sure you are being deluged with calls and emails I feel that you have really let down a very loyal customer by not responding to either of attempts to contact your corporation.

There are so many convenience store choices available. There are, in fact, two that are closer to my home. I consciously chose Kum & Go and made all of my gasoline purchases there. By not responding to my missives you have shown me that customer service is not as high on your priority list as your commercials would have me believe.

Jody H(last name removed)

Hey, there is a comment from Kum & Go on my first post...

Jody -
We would like the opportunity to explain. Please provide an email or phone number where we can reach you, or feel free to email us at communications@kumandgo.com.

Thank you,
Kum & Go

Hmmm... I've called, sent one email and just sent this one. Did they lose the first two bits of information? I guess we'll see....


I Still Haven't Won... Or Gotten a Phone Call

>> Monday, July 16, 2007

So, still no response from Jerk & Squirt. (I couldn't resist)

I am still waiting to hear something- anything- from Kum & Go to make me think that they really care about having me as a customer. So far I guess they don't. Which is fine, I guess. There are other gas stations I can use.

But now I'm really getting annoyed. Honestly, is it too much to ask? Customer service, people. C'mon.

I've gotten responses on my winning/losing sweepstakes post from a couple of people who got the same email. I'm beginning to think I should contact the Attorney General here in Iowa like Anon did.

BTW- has anyone seen anything on this other than my posts? I keep Googling it but am not finding any other info. Anon- where did you get the info you spoke about?

Let's do some math:
If that information is correct 8,000 people got the same emails I did. (But not everyone who entered. What set those 8,000 apart from the others?)
That's 8,000 annoyed people.
That's 8,000 people who may never use your product again.
That's 8,000 people telling at least 10 people (or in my case about 650 since Friday) about their bad experience.
That's a number (approximately 80,640) that could hit your corporate pocket book pretty darn hard. Even if you are a part of "big oil". Or, since this is all about "Fuel (ing) Good", "big corn".

For a store that touts it's customer service in commercials, Kum & Go's corporate HQ certainly doesn't live up to the standards it expects from it's convenience store employees.

That's bad business, Kum & Go.


Ever wonder

Ever wonder why the media gets so many pro-weasel, I mean, pro-American defeat...err...anti-war spin "leaks"? This isn't necessarily new if you've been paying attention, but the details will piss you off.


Hi, This Is Me...

Business cards are something most people don't think about. Probably because most of them are dull. I know that ours, though they have our business logo, are very plain. And most are. They have a logo and the necessary info. Dull.

I'm sure that many of you know that I have a little travel blog floating around. It's small but growing. What many of you don't know is that I am actually receiving offers from hotels and attractions to visit and then write about my experience. In my mind there isn't much better than free travel. So I'm thinking I should, maybe get some business cards.

But not just any business cards. I want something fun. Something fresh. Something that not only says, but also shows, what I am about.

So when I found the business card templates on this site I was immediately excited. I love that I can create just what I want easily online. (Because you all know how I love online shopping.)

This site is easy to use and includes tutorials so you are sure to create your design correctly. And they have a variety of products including magnetic business cards, letterhead and envelopes.

The prices are very competitive, even with shipping added. I'm really impressed with this website. Give Great FX Business Cards next time you need business cards.


Could A Swarm Of Locusts Be Next?

Jennings (Louisana) Police Department employee, Eleanor Beal was just crossing the street to go to work when something dropped from the sky.

The sky wasn't falling. She says it was worms, large tangled clumps of them.

Beal says, "When I saw that they were crawling, I said, 'It's worms! Get out of the way!'"

She even called her co-worker outside to prove she wasn't making it up.

Sure enough, she saw worms, and globs of them.

Where they came from is a mystery, but some believe that a water spout spotted less than five miles away at that same time near Lacassine Bayou could have something to do with it.

Eleanor Beal says she hopes she doesn't see it again.


Hmmm, flood, worms.... If locusts come I think Louisana should probably watch out.


Garden Dreaming

I know that I have mentioned many times how much I like to shop online. No driving, no hauling the girls around, no crowds, no lines… It’s perfect.

What’s not so perfect is my yard. It’s dull. Boring. Uninspiring. And undecorated. But check this out: Online Discount Mart.

Home and garden d├ęcor. Right now they are offering a 10% discount to all online shoppers through the end of summer. And you don’t have to spend a certain amount to get the discount. No minimum order. What a great deal!

Look at this cute Tavern Toadhouse. The girls would be fascinated if we had a toad in our garden.

And Brenna loves feeding the birds at grandma's house so we should probably get a few birdfeeders.

With my adoration of mythical creatures you can bet I have been on the lookout for the perfect garden gnome. And I think I found him- just look at this cutie!

What are your home and garden needing? Get over to Online Discount Mart . Remember: 10% off all online orders through the end of summer!


Manic Monday

Today will be crazy busy as we found out yesterday that my MIL made a last minute trip to Iowa. She arrived at her mother's yesterday evening. We found out when Doug's nephew called us from there to wonder when we could get him (they will be here for a week and GGma lives in a very small town, has no cable, internet or video games. It would be a very tedious week for a teen).

So we had no knowledge of this trip. And now I have Doug's mom, grandmother and nephew all coming to my house for the first time. Yes, we've lived here 18 months. We do the visiting, obviously. And we'll be hosting the nephew until Friday, probably. Or should I say that I will be hosting him... Doug will see him in the evenings.

And I had to cancel my "Mother's Helper" for tomorrow- which really sucks. I look forward to that.

So, those of you with teen boys- how much does it cost to feed these things? And what do I do with it? Will it sleep most of the day and then use the internet and watch movies in the basement?


Infomercial; No Midnight Viewing Required

I’m not a big TV watcher. And when I do watch shows TiVo has kindly recorded them. I honestly can’t tell you what time or channel most are on. Because of this I don’t often see the revolutionary products that fill the airwaves. With TVProductsForLess.com I don’t have to.

Clicking through this site I am intrigued by the Driveway Alarms. Being at home alone with the girls I am always surprised when the door bell rings and I am not expecting anyone. A little added security might be nice…

And who doesn't love Chia Pets? New and improved figures...

Then there’s the Zorbeez, a super absorbent cloth. They would probably be great for cleaning my windows… Which reminds me, I really need to do that.

With so many new products you could click around here all day and find tons of products you never knew you needed. Which begs the question, “Why didn’t I think if that?”


You Won! No, Wait, You Didn't....

>> Saturday, July 14, 2007

A local convenience store chain is having a sweepstakes. It's an Iowa chain and I know the minute I write out their name the jokes will start... So let's just get them over with.

It's Kum & Go. Yes, it sounds like a bordello name. Yes, it's kind of got a "wham bam thank you ma'am" ring to it. Insert your own jokes here:_____________________.

And speaking of screwed...

Today I got an email regarding one of my entries in the sweepstakes. It looked like this (best viewed in Firefox but you will get the gist if you use IE):

You have won $150 worth of gas from Kum & Go's Fuel Good

Sweepstakes! Look for your gift card in the mail soon. Also,

don't forget that you can still re-enter as many times as you like.

Thanks for playing!

Copyright © 2007 Kum & Go, L.C. All Rights Reserved. 6400 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, IA 50266

You are receiving this email because you entered our Fuel Good Sweepstakes. Unsubscribe from this list.

With the price of gas rising again (seriously, why now?) you can imagine that I was thrilled. I went to their website so I could forward the winners page on to Doug at work only to find...

My name wasn't listed.


So I called Kum & Go. Of course everyone was out to lunch and I ended up speaking with a lovely receptionist. She was very nice. She told me that a woman had called about three minutes before me with the same issue. We spoke for a few minutes, I left my name and number and she said that someone would call me back.

Call me crazy, but I fully expected someone to call me back. 5pm came and went and still no call. I figured that the problem was still being resolved and someone would call me on Monday.

Call me crazy, I was still expecting a phone call.

So you can imagine my surprise when this email appeared in my inbox:

Dear Sweepstakes Entrant,

Earlier today you may have received an email stating that you had won $150 worth of gas in the Kum & Go Fuel Good Sweepstakes. Regrettably, that email was inadvertently sent to you by a third party vendor, and your entry was not selected as a winner in the June drawing. However, you are still eligible to win in the July and August drawings, and you may also enter the Sweepstakes again as many times as you would like through August 31, 2007.

We apologize for any confusion this error may have caused. Please feel free to visit http://www.fuelgoodsweepstakes.com/ for a list of the June prize winners.

Thank you for your participation in the Kum & Go Fuel Good Sweepstakes.

No purchase necessary. A purchase will not increase your chance of winning. Open to legal residents of AR, CO, IA, KS, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, OK, SD, WI, WY. 18 years of age or older. Void elsewhere and where prohibited.
Ends at 11:59:59 pm CDT on August 31, 2007. See official rules for details and free method of entry.
Copyright © 2007 Kum & Go, L.C. All Rights Reserved. 6400 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, IA 50266
You are receiving this email because you entered our Fuel Good Sweepstakes. Unsubscribe from this list.

This upsets me for a couple of reasons, none of them being that I didn't win.

I am upset that they just dropped me this email instead of calling me. I was the second person to bring this to their attention. I left my phone number and was assured someone would call me back. This, to me, is very bad customer service.

I am also disgusted that they are placing the blame on a "third party vendor". Granted, it may be the vendor's doing but who hired the vendor? Take responsibility. Oh, the vendor is Encircle Marketing (was able to find that by viewing the source of the email. Ilove that my husband, the geek, can show me how to do these things) out of Dallas, Texas. Gotta love how they farmed the job out of Iowa since I'm sure someone here could have done just as well. Heck, maybe better considering this blunder.

So, what does this all come down to? Well, probably a change in gas stations. Which really sucks as I use E85 in the truck and the next closest place to get it (that isn't a Kum & Go) is about 15 miles away.

Customer service is really the main objective as there are so many choices out there and Kum and Go really failed in that department today.

So I sent them an email:

I have to say that I am very disappointed in your corporate customer
service. Today I received that email stating that I had won gas. I
did not, however, see my name on the winners list so I called your corporate
office. I spoke with a very nice receptionist (because everyone was at
lunch) who told me that I was the second person to call regarding that.
She took my name and number and told me that someone would be sure to call me

No one called me, instead I received the email that shifted the blame to a
"third party vendor". I am beyond disgusted by this. First, that you
would not call me back as I was assured someone would and second because you
shifted the blame.

My husband and I run a small business. You can be sure that we would
never treat any of our clients this way. As your company has grown it
seems that customer service (with the exception of the lovely woman I spoke to)
isn't as important on the corporate level as it is in your stores.

I also want you to know that I am sharing this experience with anyone who
happens by my blog (http://www.iowageekonline.com),
including this letter.

What happens next? Will I get a phone call? Or a form letter? Be sure to tune in for the exciting conclusion....


Truth hurts

Diane Sawyer is take off jury selection. Maybe that's why journalists don't mingle with Middle America.


The NYT Surrenders

...and the response from someone who actually knows history.

The Times has been wrong about so many things that it's not surprising that they back failure now.

More history and possibilities here.


Well that makes me feel better

Via the charming Side Notes...

I just want to fly all over the place now. Yes, so the tests are hard and they expect a certain amount of failure, but come on! Can't we expect some competency? Oh, wait, the government is involved...


Read these because....

>> Friday, July 13, 2007

Terrorist Death Watch Because the media doesn't want you to know.

What would nationalised health care look like here? Because the Democrats don't want you to know.

Grim Milestones Because the media and the Democrats don't want you to know.


Fab Food Friday

I have a very difficult time keeping Brenna from helping me when I bake. She is very interested in helping; from measuring ingredients to licking the beaters- and everything in between. Soon I'll have to take all the recipes she helps with and print her own cookbook.

A couple of weeks ago we made
Aunt Maggie's Jam Thumbprint Cookies

These were great fun as they involved poking...

The recipe came from Everyday Food.
Here's what you'll need:
24 T (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c sugar
1 egg
3 1/4 c all purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
3/4 c jam (any type)

What to do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg and beat until completely combined.
With mixer on low, add flour, and mix until just incorporated.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls (about 2T each). Place on baking sheet at least 3" apart.

Moisten thumb with water and gently press the center of each ball, making an indentation about 1/2 inch wide and 1/4 inch deep. In microwave or on stove heat jam until liquified; spoon about 1/2 t into each indentation.

Bake until cookies are golden brown around the edges, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. If storing place into an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.

This will make about 54 cookies so the recipe is terrific for gatherings. I sent a bunch to work with Doug. He is teaching a class on Fridays and shared them with his "students". I got rave reviews... And requests for more treats. Today I sent sweet zucchini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Watch for that recipe next week!


Three words

Be sure to read the whole thing. It's one of those stories that you really, really hope is fiction....


Uncle Wiggle?

>> Thursday, July 12, 2007

Watching the Wiggles this morning Brenna noticed that Anthony (the blue Wiggle) has cut his hair very short. Along with his exaggerated grin and antics Brenna thinks he is "like Uncle Jon".

I'm sure Uncle Jon will be thrilled to know that!


Time for RECESS!!!

>> Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Monday was a rough day here at Casa Geek. Caelan is into everything now that she can crawl and pull herself up and Brenna was bouncing off the walls. I found myself raising my voice- ok, yelling- more times than I care to remember. It was hot and humid outside and I didn't need to be any crankier.

So I loaded up the girls and headed to Ankeny's new play place: Recess- Go Bananas. It just opened so it was our first visit.

The girls had a great time. There are soft play areas for babies and toddlers

A blow up castle for the younger set and a big blow up slide for larger kids, as well as a blow up catepillar tunnel.
Two jungle gym areas, this one with a small slide A trampoline, soft play blocks, ramps and tunnels. The larger jungle gym area has a bigger slide, a large "hamster tube" area and a trampoline.
There are also rides; the train is for smaller kids and is included in the cost. A few small rides take tokens while the larger train, helocopters and bumper cars require tickets or a ride sticker.
There is also a disco with a big screen playing kid friendly videos, face painting and an arcade.

The price is reasonable- $5 for 2 hours (no rides)- which is about all the time the girls can handle. Check the website for a complete list of prices.

Recess is adult friendly, too, with free Wi-Fi and a menu that includes salads and sandwiches along with pizza and other kid-friendly fare.

Recess also has safety precautions in place so noone walks out the door with your kids. You are given a ticket when you enter that says how many kids you brought in. You can't leave without showing your ticket. Doug actually met us there, so his ticket said "0 kids" while mine said "2 kids". He was carrying the girls out and was stopped by the attendant who let him in because he knew that Doug came in alone.

Recess gets the Geek Seal of Approval. We'll probably take a few friends there for pizza and fun on Brenna's birthday.

Of course we'll probably be back before then...


The case for pre-emption

>> Monday, July 09, 2007



Pimp My Power Wheels

A big thanks to Lisset for that title!

So, I'm sure you have all been on edge to know just how the Power Wheels Jeep turned out. In case you missed the beginning of the story, click here.

So,as we left off I was showing you the Jeep, as I received it. Yep, it's a bit rough.

I stripped it of all the stickers and gave it a good washing. Then I had to "rebuild" the front bumper. It was completely broken off and could have been a big hazard.
Ah, good old duct tape. Then the painting began. Two coats. More in some places. I'm sure the people that drove by thought I was crazy. Then again most of them are much older and have Corvettes instead of kids at home.
Don't you just love the painter's tape and plastic-bag tire covers?
After the painting was done I created stickers with my Wishblade and sticky backed vinyl that I had left over from decorating the bathroom.
I actually finished the stickers about 11pm. Doug was in bed reading and I made him get up to help me apply them. Yes, you could say I was having fun.

And here it is:
The repaired bumper:
I really like how the letters turned out.
GPS and cell phone.
Very fancy.
And flowery.
Brenna loved it!


It's Just Business

Doug is self employed. He set up an S-corp quite a few years ago here in Iowa, the land of high taxes (I really think we may be coming very close to being the highest taxed state in the Union). I know that it cost him quite a bit of time spent with accountants and lawyers (ugh. I’d rather have a tooth extracted) and money to get this set up. But he says that the benefits far outweigh the cost. I choose to believe him.

Thankfully it’s done. But if I had to do it, I’d go this route. For under $300 you can have a corporation set up in under 2 days. And you don’t have to sit in any stuffy offices. Except your own.

Not sure if you need to incorporate? IncParadise.com has a large section of FAQs including the differences in LLC, INC,S-corp and C-corp, suggesting the right
business structure
for your company and protecting your assets.

Find out why Nevada is the #1 business friendly state. I'll give you a hint: fewer taxes.

They also offer incorporation in all 50 states. A Texas business isn’t even exempt, so you know they can work anywhere.

Interested in working with IncParadise.com and making some money setting up corporations? They also have an affiliates program that may interst you.

Self employment is on the rise. Be sure that you do it right.

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