Ridiculously Easy Ways To Spread Some Kindness Around

When I was little and our family would camp in the woods or go fishing in the wilderness my dad would have us picking up cigarette butts, beer bottle caps and tangled lures to haul them back out and trash them. Some may teach the principles of “Leave No Trace”, but my dad did them one better. His motto was to leave things better than you found them. That’s a good way to live your life, in fact.

There was a challenge recently set before those of us who blog to step away from the keyboard and do something kind in the real world this month. This month? Heck, that’s easy enough to do every day. It can start right at home, too. In fact I think I’ll go put a load of my husband’s clothes in the wash for him.

Okay, I’m back. That was pretty easy. You know, I went to an awesome Switchfoot concert in Salem a few weeks ago. Everyone that bought a ticket donated $1 to Habitat For Humanity. Jeez, go to a concert and help build a house. Switchfoot itself donates and supports even more charities, including a home for abused children, so that ticket money was well spent.

Feed hungry people using my mailbox? All I had to do was stuff a bag full of food and put it out for the mail carrier. That food headed right out to food banks in my area and from there went on to fill people’s pantries and tummies. I can also provide training and employment for people when I drop off my used stuff at Goodwill. That place is great for finding records, books and all kinds of things so I shop there, as well. It’s only the best second hand store around, according to the locals. Way to recycle, huh?

Speaking of recycling, can I fund jobs, help the homeless and save the earth just by getting rid of trash? Sure, if I sort it first. Now I can keep those empty food boxes, junk mail and more from going into my local landfill and recyclers get paid. Those old newspapers, magazines and phone books go into a bin to support a homeless mission. Some people take it a step farther and turn their trash into fashion accessories, like this girl. It takes a child to raise a village’s awareness, I guess.

Oops, got to go put that stuff in the dryer and make lunch for the family. Charity begins at home, you know.

That was pretty painless, and now back to the blog. There’s another blogger doing the BlogCatalog.com challenge who made multipurpose wheelchair - walker tote bags from recycled plastic bags and donated them to her local VA hospital. Check it out here. She even gives out the pattern directions she created. I think that’s pretty rad.

Well, it’s time to put that laundry away, so I’d better go. If I see you in the real world, I’ll be sure to give you a smile, hold the door for you or give you a friendly wave. In the meantime, here’s an online smile and a wish for an amazing year to come.

Why Photo Booth Rocks Really Hard

When my husband got an iMac we found that there was an addictive little program on it called Photo Booth. It completely rocks and here's some reasons why:

It entertains children - even the adult ones. Okay, okay, especially the adult ones.

It can convey a mood. A mood like honorable or cute and sweet or brooding musical genius.

You can even get your pets in on the action. Your long suffering pets that can put up with this sort of thing.

It's the perfect icebreaker for parties. Hey! Wait for the real party snacks.

So if you want to be ridiculously good-looking (even with four eyes or something),

Combine pop art and modern technology,

Scare your dental hygienist,

Or just shoot laser beams from your eyes...

...Then this may be the right program for you, too. I'm also intrigued by Freak Show. It might well be the next software we install. I'll be sure to let you know.

What The Heck Is In My Candy?

(Cue scary music)

It’s late in October, the moon is full and the cupboards are full of candy. Soon, in a strange ritual, one parent will hand out various types of sugary consumables whilst the other takes their children door-to-door in search of other people’s contributions to tooth decay. Later, after checking the candy for any hazardous additives and calling dibs on their favorites, parents will dole out these treats for weeks. Any candy leftover in households will also be consumed with glee over the coming weeks. Real sugar addicts may even buy it on markdown to satisfy a sweet tooth.

There are things (not necessarily these things) in some of that candy that chill my blood. If you are faint of heart or have a medical condition then please be warned. This may get disgusting (or interesting – depending on your outlook) and it’s okay to look away, feel nauseous, vomit in your mouth a little or go running for a healthy snack.

The catalyst that started me thinking about what was in my candy was a sweet little tutorial called, “How to eat fewer insects”. Whoa. Wait a minute. There are insects in my candy? These insects did not just wander in while the candy was being made either. Candy makers were deliberately using insects in their manufacturing process. I want to know if I’m eating bugs. I might even choose to eat them. If you try to slip them in on me though I’m apt to say, “Hey, what else are you trying to pull here?”

All vegetarians and vegans are probably completely appalled by now because insects are technically meat. I’m not done though.

My mom and I once stored a huge bar of chocolate on top of the refrigerator where it was nice and warm. You might have thought we’d have learned our lesson after the powdered sugar doughnuts we’d sat up there grew a well-camouflaged white mold that we discovered only after taking a bite. Chocolate
wouldn’t get moldy was our reasoning. It was perfectly safe there for weeks – except from us, of course. Then one day I broke off a piece and “Aaaaaaah!!!” there were worms living in it. How did they get there? Well they didn’t just crawl in. They hatched from their eggs. Yuck!

The FDA says no more than 359 insect fragments and 5 or less rat hairs in six 100-gram chocolate samples or we’ll have to take action, even though it’s only of aesthetic significance. They call it “filth” and yet set levels for it “because it is economically impractical to grow, harvest, or process raw products that are totally free of non-hazardous, naturally occurring, unavoidable defects.”

Does this mean I'm giving up candy? Well, no. Even if there's lead in my organic dark chocolate or car wax in my Almond Joy I will still indulge occasionally. Candy is yummy and there are so many varieties. There is candy with caffeine, candy I get for free, candy that kids will love, candy from all over the world and candy that will burn my lips off. Besides, I can always make my own candy if I want to be really safe. So don't be afraid to eat candy or try new kinds. It's not like it will kill you. Probably.

Let’s Talk About Self Abuse

“Hey,” you might say, “that doesn’t pertain to me at all! It’s not like I cut myself or I’m anorexic.” Well, maybe you don’t and you’re not (if you do or you are – go here and here), but that doesn’t mean the potential to harm yourself doesn’t lurk right below the surface. Let’s take a look at some of the forms that self abuse can take and then we’ll see, shall we?


Sure, sure, you work out. You park farther away instead of fighting for that spot by the entrance to the store. You make a point of doing aerobic activity, strength training and flexibility exercises on a regular basis (we are not talking annually, by the way). Right now though, you are sitting in front of a computer screen like me and maybe we’re not nearly as active as we should be. Plus, my posture was just horrible a second ago!

Disrespecting Yourself

“I’m so dumb, ugly, lazy, fat, useless, fill in the blank _______!” We often describe ourselves with negative terms. It’s a form of self-talk. It may be repeating things we heard about ourselves from others as we grew up or labels we have applied as we realize our inadequacies, but it is verbal abuse, plain and simple. It can lead to accepting the same abuse from others, forgoing our aspirations, repressing our feelings, or even engaging in things like risky and untested plastic surgical procedures. Label the behavior, not yourself. Trust me; you are an amazing and valuable person.


The day is rushing by, you have so much to do, lack of sleep is catching up with you, nobody understands how you feel and now you have more work to do. Well we’ve all been there, so take heart. There are things we can do to help ourselves. As we tell our children, “Just Say No!” It’s okay to not take on every little thing. Delegate, take care of your physical and emotional needs and take the time to relax. Mild amounts of stress may improve our performance; overstress is like over inflating your tires. Sooner or later something’s going to blow.


There are just two words that sum up all that is wrong with my diet. They are the words “junk food”. Why, why, why do I fill my body with this crap when it needs whole and healthy foods to run at its efficient best? I’ll tell you why. It’s fast and it tastes good. If I really thought about what is in most of it though, I would run in the other direction screaming things like, “Get that poison away from me!” And then there’s debt and the acquisition of possessions. I’m learning that giving stuff away and shopping for used items is a healthy way for me to recycle, reduce consumption and banish debt. It really works.

The Classics

Now it’s time for the fun ones – *oops* I mean the ones we all know are bad for us. Here’s the list: Drugs, Alcohol, Cigarettes, Caffeine (my personal favorite), Gambling and Unsafe Sex. Some of these things have a benefit when used moderately, although obviously not the last one, but abusing them only hurts us. Even an overuse of herbal remedies has been known to kill folks. There’s a saying that is appropriate to repeat here, “The body may be a temple, but most people treat it as an amusement park.” I think that says it all.

One Last Note

One of the ways I’ve found to help me become a positive person (who tries her best to care for herself) is to do positive things. Volunteering, utilizing my skills, voting and being an advocate for those who need it are among the things I find work for me. These next two links contain mature subject matter, as they point out horrific forms of mutilation that are perpetuated on both young girls and infants. Please help me to spread the word and educate people about what they can do to help.

You may want to join Think. Think, by MTV, is a new network of people and organizations who believe in social activism. However you do it, I encourage you to support the causes that are important to you. Knowledge is powerful. You can make a difference!

Games! Games! Games!

In this, my inaugural blog, I will be profiling the games that are near and dear to my little gamer's heart.

Magic: The Gathering
This is probably the most amazing card game on the entire planet. Collectible cards, an ever changing array of combinations to choose from, challenging to play and win, decks that can evolve, any number of opponents or teams, and most importantly... fun to kick butt with!

Champions of Norrath
This Playstation 2 RPG game is based on the EverQuest universe. It is super great because it has single or multi-player options, extreme amounts of character, weapon and item choices and modifications, lots of levels and side quests, kind of easy cheats for leveling and enhancements and... now you can fight for the good guys or the bad guys.

Animal Crossing: Wild World
I loved this game on the Game Cube, but I love it even more now that it's on the Nintendo DS. Why? It's portable, it's very open ended, and I can do everything from fish, to hunt bugs, to dig up fossils, to shop, to design clothes, to visit other towns, to invite friends to my town, to furnish my huge house (now that my mortgages are paid off), to making my own constellations, to... well you get the picture.

Beyond Balderdash
If you have some smart, creative friends and/or family (which I do) this game is a total blast! There are five categories of answers. The "dasher" reads a movie title, word, set of initials, person's name or a date, and others write the description thereof. Everyone's answers are read along with the real answer and the guessing begins. Since the real answers are usually crazy or unbelievable, anything goes!

The Wii
Yes, it's not really a game but a game system. Still, it has so much going for it. With games like Wii Sports (that comes with it), Trauma Center and WarioWare: Smooth Moves , I can't help but love this console. There are many different types of gameplay (some of which seem to involve flailing about), and a nice stable of games to choose from. The newest game I've tried is Alien Syndrome .

Well, that about wraps it up, for now. If you feel you must, go out immediately and get some of these games to play. I won't stop you.