Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I left my heart in Firenze!!!

Well, we have come back now to England from Florence, Italy. It was a lot of fun and there is much to tell. There is so much in fact, I don't know if I will ever be able to stop talking about it, I loved it! There was laughter, there was much walking, there was great food, there was good times, there was drama, there was planes, trains and automobiles!!! I was not able to post anything while I was gone due to the fact that they didn't bring either one of their laptops...also there just was no downtime. I've been going going going for days...

There was also a wonderful surprise for me, for my birthday...a gift above all gifts. Something to last a lifetime! Sunday evening, my dear friend gave me a birthday card that said, "May the spirit of Tuscany remain in your heart...and in your kitchen. Surprise, you get to go on an Italian Immersion cooking class tomorrow!!!!" Later it was topped off with a bonus trip beforehand to the mercato centrale or 'Central Market' for a lesson in ingredients and such. That was my early Christmas present!

So, like I said, there's much to tell you and many, neigh, I say MANY pictures to show, I'm on like memory card number 3. The first 2 were 1GB cards and I'm most of the way through a 2 GB card and have another waiting after that! I caught this really great rainbow today from the sky. It was a circle rainbow, and the center had a shadow shaped like our airplane!!! I can't wait to show you all. Unfortunately, most of the museums and such would not allow photos of any kind so I had to take mental pictures in those cases. LOL

I did discover a beautiful painting at the Ufizzi Gallery called 'The Flea' that I thought looked alot like me. It's freaky, but sometimes, I find things that remind me of myself, and I like em'. If you are curious, since this isn't my computer and I have no idea how to copy and paste a link using a mac, do a google search for 'giuseppe maria crespi the flea' and then click on one of the links. There is a knock off site, don't see that one. This painting is also known as 'Rising from Bed'. Anyway, I thought it was sorta neat.

Also, one of the most impressive pieces I saw on that trip was 'David'. We went to the Acedemia and saw the real one. Man that thing is HUGE!!! I really was impressed by it. We also took a train into Pisa to see the leaning tower. Man, I can't wait to start telling you guys with pictures about everything!!

Thursday Poe and I are going to London, Friday is the castle feast and stayover and Sat I pack to come home on Sunday! It will be over very quickly...but for now, I must get sleep. I am exhausted, Mamma mia!!! Ciao!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Just a quick note...

to let you know that we are leaving England to go to Italy today. We will arrive in Pisa and then take a train to Florence. We won't be back until next Tuesday, but I will try to post some thoughts sometime before then. Bon Voage!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Greetings from England!!!

Hello there! Thank you everyone who has been praying for me and this holiday. It was a long trip to get here, but it's totally worth it!! It's so green and beautiful here. Everything is just dripping with lively vegitation. Ivy, plants, flowers, shrubs of all kinds and trees of all kinds too!

The driving is INSANE!!!! Seriously, the car my friends have has about 3 inches of front end in front of the teeny tiny wheels. So you end up being really close to the vehicle in front of you when you stop. I mean, so close I could kick the bumper of the next car! And the streets are so narrow and you have to share the road with the oncoming traffic in some spots.

I've been to Stonehenge now. It was very interesting...we were just driving along the road and then you look over and its right there! It's sort of unassuming actually. I took 152 pictures, so yes, I will have Wordless Wednesday covered for a while :)

Yesterday, we also went to 'Bath' which is famous for the Roman Baths. Very cool, I took about 117 photos there.

We are currently sitting in the living room making our plans to go to Italy on Thursday. There are so many things to see in Florence!! More about that later...

I'm having a great time, I still can't believe I'm here. Thank you everyone who is visiting my blog in anticipation of an update. To all those important few, I mailed off postcards today ;-)

I'm sorry for not sending any photos yet, this obviously isn't my computer, so I can't load any pictures to it. I have already used over 1 GB disc and bought 2 more 2 GB discs.

I'm having a great time on my European adventure...keep praying for me and I'll come back soon for another update, so check back in a few days!!!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Off to England!!!

Well, it has been a long time coming, but it's finally here! Tomorrow morning, I'm off to England and Italy on my big vacation! Tonight I had dinner with my mom, brother and his girlfriend Amy to sorta say good bye for now (hopefully not forever!). I still have a ton of things to finish before I can go to bed tonight, including deciding my outfits and packing the last 3/4 of everything!!

If all goes as planned, my plane is scheduled to leave St. Louis @12:05 pm Sat. Sept. 15th. I'll have a 2 1/2 hr flight to Newark, New Jersey followed by a 5 1/2 hr layover. Next, a 7 hr transatlantic flight to Bristol, England!

There will be lots to do and see including Stonehenge, Bath, London, various castles and such. Then on Thursday, the 3 of us are off to Pisa, Italy where we will enjoy a 1 hr train ride through the Tuscan countryside to Florence. We rented an apartment and will stay for a long weekend (6 days actually)! Tuesday we will leave Italy :( and return to England. Friday night will bring a medieval feast in North Wales at Ruthin Castle, along with an overnight stay there. Remember, I also found Ruthin Castle or 'The Red Fort' on a haunted hotel website! Eeeek!! After that, time to pack up and come home!

That was the short of it...I'm sure there will be many more details to share once I have returned. I will try to post at least once while I'm gone, but I'm unsure of how much access I'll have to a computer. Until then, miss me whilst I'm gone!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I just ate the yummiest pear I've ever had!

Nigella Lawson might have said it more like this: (not a direct quote, insert strong English accent here)
Just look at these ripe, round, scrumptious pears. They're so tender and fresh. The peeling just gives way with simple pressure. I can see the blade of my knife disappearing into the milky meat of it. This pear has so much life in it and will surely satisfy your craving for a healthy snack. Just look at it! It's dripping with summer goodness!

I love her show, have you seen it? Nigella Feasts is on the Food Network in the USA, I believe on Sunday mornings...it should be on everyday! Thanks Jen for turning me on to it!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Heads or Tails #4 - 9/11/01 Memories

Today's Heads or Tails is all about September 11, 2001. We are on Tails this week, which means we are to talk exclusively about the topic. That's not hard to do with this one.

Everyone remembers where they were when they began to hear the news of the morning's events. I was late for work, as per usual, and much like Barb over at Skittle's Place, the news came to me via a phone call from my mom. She was already at work and they had the tv on watching the attacks unfold. A plane had been hijacked and flown into the 1st tower. By the time I made it to the office, both towers were ablaze and rescue crews were frantically trying to evacuate the buildings. Both towers were still standing.

I was in complete awe of it all. At first, I was like, "Here? Really???" I felt so sick to my stomach when I saw those towers fall. It's certainly something I hope we don't soon forget. Alot of innocent people died, a lot of innocent kids lost their parents forever. Gone to never know how they grow up. Dead, in the rubble.

By then end of the day, the Pentagon had also been attacked and then there was Flight 93 that went down in a field in Pennsylvania. The more I learn about that flight, the louder I shout back, "Yeah, take that! We are a country of some who will lay down their own life for the sake of their neighbors! In your face!!"

I don't know how many volumes of sad stories this tragic act of extreme terrorism has inspired. It will always be a sad day in American history and a lesson to us all. Do not be naive to their motives. These terrorists have no inclination to come here and convert us to their religion or to take over our country. That's not what they want. They want us gone. They believe with a powerful faith, that we represent everything wrong and against their way of life. They are spiritually driven to carry out a mission bigger than themselves. We're not dealing with rational stable thinking here.
I could go on all day about thoughts and feelings surrounding this day. There are the heros, the orphans, the politics, and the many other aspects. But if I could only transmit one message, it is to express my acknowledgments that these are the types of events spoken of in the Bible as 'end times.' We live in a corrupt world that has an end. Study up, be vigil. Prepared yourself for more where that came from.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Shopping for a 1 year old

As soon as I get back from my vacation, I will be excited to see my 'nephew' turn 1. This will be extra fun for me because I was privileged enough to be asked to witness his birth! It was so awesome and breath taking, I just fell in love with him right away. I mean, it was sorta hard to see his little face through all the joyful tears, but I was so happy to meet him! I had spent alot of time with his momma during her pregnancy and we grew alot closer as friends during this time. She also helped me through some hard times I was having by always being a good listener and actually trying to understand where I was coming from. That means so much to me!

I remember one day, right towards the end of her pregnancy, I was sitting a few feet away from her while she was laying on the couch. That baby in her belly was just flip floppin' and tossing and turning and doing aerobics! I told her that I didn't know how anyone could ever get any rest with all that flip flopping going on inside their body! Remember, I've never been pregnant. I told that baby if he didn't give mom a rest and knock it off, he was grounded! LOL

So, I've got to watch him growing and changing this year. They certainly do go through alot of changes in their first year. He's been walking for about a month now, and I can still remember seeing him let go and take off that first time. So precious!!!!

His birthday party will be just a couple of weeks after I get back, so I need to be thinking about his present. I mean, it's his first birthday so I wouldn't expect him to really know what's going on but I still want to get him something fun. I love to get things that are sentimental, but with boys, it's usually better to get like RC cars or trucks are popular gifts. Except this is his first birthday, I can still get away with learning toys too. Any suggestions??

Catch 22 of sorts

The brilliant owners of my apartment put in one of those 4 foot florescent light fixtures just before I rented this apartment 3 1/2 years ago. I'm not too big on florescent lighting in my home, but I rent so I have no options.

Well, the inevitable has happened, the bulbs are burned out. Which means of course, that it's time to call the maintenance crew to come out. Well, I haven't exactly been Martha Stewart in my kitchen for some time now, and really, my kitchen has become more of a "catch-it" room than a functioning kitchen. Thus, I need to clean it and make sure the maintenance guy has plenty of space to work an such. I mean, I'd really hate for him to drop something and break something of mine just because it was out.

The catch 22 is, the light is out. I can't clean in the dark! I need the light to work so I can clean so the guy can come and fix the light. LOL So the only time I can clean is during the day. That's what I'm doing today. I've made some progress, but taking extra time for the little projects that have been set to the side are starting to add up, and it's now getting dark here. So I have to go finish now. :-)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I'm disappointed today...

Well, 2 things happened today that made me disappointed. Of course they are not the 'end of the world' type deals, but still.

Ok, the first one is that I lost my favorite tweezers. Now that might not sound like much to you, especially if you are male, but for a woman who needs to tweeze and is highly picky about the quality of the tweezers, this is a big deal. It's my own fault too, so let this be a lesson to me.

Here, let me explain. See I bought this nice new travel purse made by Travelon to take on my trip. I am using it now in an effort to get accustomed to using it, that way I will be very comfortable with it's ins and outs. It happens to have a zippered pocket on the inside of the big flap that when it's in it's resting place, the zipper is toward the ground. Therefore, anything inside the pocket can slip out if the zipper is not closed before getting out of the car and walking into the store. UGH! I opened the zipper to get out a bead bracelet I put in there, slid it onto my wrist and then hurriedly jumped out of the car and into the store. I noticed much later in the day that the zipper was open and the pocket was empty. Not only did I lose my favorite tweezers, but also lost was my travel nail kit and a couple of hair ties. I really hope that's all that was in that pocket!

The second thing that disappointed me today was the low turn out for my At Home America party! I had several more yeses that simply never showed up. I had a few who called at least. There were literally 3 people from my invitation list of over 40!! 2 of those brought a guest with them that had not been invited by me, so that helped. I have a few outside orders to still collect, but I am disappointed. It's a lot of work to put on a party, there's food, drinks, plates, cups, napkins, gifts and let's not even begin to talk about the cleaning! It's frustrating....I told my friend Jen, "It sucks because I did all that work, just like her other hostesses did for their parties but don't get all the benefits." I think I will do good to earn enough free product to repay myself for what I've spent on the food and plates. I think I remember saying this the last time, NO MORE PARTIES FOR ME! I should do like my cousin Misty and ban them altogether LOL

And I'm so tired, I'd love to jet off to somewhere for a wonderful relaxing break, like renting one of those Las Vegas luxury homes! I can see it now, comfort and class and relaxation! I'm so tired from getting everything done, I deserve it!

I heart St. Louis, MO

Warning, nostalgic feelings are a stirrin'!
Maybe it's because I'm about to leave my fair city of birth, maybe it's because on my way home tonight, I caught a distant view of the Arch, or maybe it's just 'that time' of the month, but I'm feeling the love for my hometown. I have lived within an 8 mile radius for basically my entire life. I grew up in South City St. Louis, MO. Once on the phone with a potential new client at my office, the guy breaks out with, "You are from south city aren't you?" I answered "Why, yes, how could you tell?" He said we have a distinct sound. Well, I don't know about that, but there are a few tell tale signs that you are from St. Louis:
  • When you meet someone new, you always ask them "What high school did you go to?"
  • You know where both Ted Drewes' are.
  • You know what Ted Drewe's even is!
  • For vacation, you ask, "Do you want to go to Branson Missouri or Lake of the Ozarks?
  • You've had the pleasure of Hodak's chicken.
  • You crank up KShe 95 (or KMOX)
  • You are a die hard sports fan. I mean, hello, we have Pro Football, Major League Baseball and Pro Hockey!
  • You've partied one too many times on the riverfront or have said before, "What happens on the 'East Side', stays on the East Side!"

There's just something about going away and coming home to be greeted by that big beautiful Arch! It's almost comforting, you really know you are home when you see it again. I think it's sorta majestic, actually. It can be seen from many points of the city and counties for miles away. It's odd really, because when you are downtown looking at the arch, it seems as though there are alot of buildings around it. But if you can catch a glimpse of it from around town, it almost always appears to be standing alone. Very cool! I heart St. Louis, MO!

Ever feel like you just don't belong here?

So, tonight I went to the mall. Now, you must realize that I'm not really the mall type. I don't have anything against malls in general, I think it's great to have a bunch of stores all in one place for crying out loud! But on certain days of the week, mainly the weekend days, average age level drops amongst the population there.

That being said, I'm glad the teenagers can still enjoy themselves congregating at the mall and eye balling passers by trying to look attractive. The mall is to a 15 year old what a bar is to a 22 year old. Anyway...I realize I'm on their turf, but hey, I like to shop too. And really, if it weren't for their parent's credit cards, they couldn't afford to actually shop at a mall anyway. But I digress.

My point is, and yes, I do have one, the mall is full of different kinds of stores. Layne Bryant, for one, is right up my alley. Nice quality clothes with style and class.

Deb, on the other hand, I felt as if I really didn't belong. The style (and quality) of clothing were on a different and might I add younger level than my taste. I only went in to look for a brown crop sweater to go with a dress I just bought. It felt like I was on some other planet. None of the sales people acknowledged me. I actually made several rounds looking for help without being noticed. I spotted a group of female employees and stood by the fitting rooms while they chatted. After they split up, I walked up to the counter and waited while 2 of them carried on an entire conversation without even so much as being looked at!

I'm not sure if I'm worried more about the next generation that is so self centered they can't be bothered with serving others, or about an entire generation of people that don't care about receiving good customer service! I finally got a fitting room and was quite happy to pick up a new pair of brown and a pair of black goucho pants. I'd been looking for them and finally found them. I don't think I'll be shopping there again until (that is IF I even have one) my own daughter drags me there kicking and screaming. With poor service like that, I would be surprised to see that store survive until then. But if it does, maybe I'll be one of those parents who send their kids to the mall with my credit card. At least I won't have to go in! LOL

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday's Feast #159

Using only one word, how does grocery shopping make you feel?

What is your favorite part about the season of Autumn?
The look of the trees changing colors and the cool bite in the evening air with a slice of pumpkin pie!

Have you ever had any bad experiences online?
Yes, I had an anonymous commenter on this blog that was so rude and got very personal about me. Kinda creepy!

Main Course:
Name three things that make you happy daily.

1. Being able to talk to the Lord any time I want or need to and feeling His grace in my life!

2. Getting out of bed and having a job I like to go to.

3. My kitties give me joy everyday!

What one household cleansing or organizing item would you not want to be without?
My Swiffer duster! I may not use it often, but I love that thing!!!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

For all you moms out there...

especially the ones with young children, don't forget to take pictures! I was talking earlier about digital cameras and how they are awesome these days with the better technology and features.

The problem is, and I hear this alot, 'I don't have time to snap photos! I'm too busy chasing after the kids.'

I hear you. I do! But I cannot stress to you enough to keep that camera handy around the house, throw it in the diaper bag. Make it a practice to capture those little fun times that make you smile. You will not regret it in the end!

And for all the scrapbooking moms out there (even if you haven't started scrapbooking yet, but would like to some day) I say once again, "You can't scrapbook it if you don't have pictures of it!" Mark my words....I've been preaching this so long, my friend Jen told me the other day, "My youngest one snuck off and I found him playing pee-a-boo in my shower! All I could think was Aunt Becca is gonna say, 'Why didn't you take pictures?' So I ran down the hall and grabbed the camera and snapped a couple of really cute pictures of it."

Embrace my shape

I have always disliked the shape of my body. Ever since I was young and began to gain weight, I seem to gain in my belly most easily. It's easy to see, I am definitely apple-shaped. It's hard to find clothes that cover the fact that I am 'thick' in the middle without making me look like I'm 9 or 10 months pregnant.

I've always thought, "Hey, if you'd just lose weight, your belly would go away!" I am shaped just like my dad's mom, grandma Becker. She has bird legs and all belly. I was talking to her one day about our shape and she happens to mention that she is shaped just like her mom-who weighed 98 lbs and was ALL BELLY!

Forget it!

So I have decided to embrace my shape. See me, love me. I will wear any style shirt I care to. If I look pregnant, guess what, I can't help it! I'm excited about the new clothes I bought for my trip, they are all fun and a new style for me. I can't wait to wear them all the time! Of course I will still continue to try and lose weight, I'm not making this into a situation where I give up on every being small so why try. But I am no longer going to be ashamed and worry about it. It's just me, so there ya go!

Fun with digital photography

I used to say, that the technology just wasn't there yet in the world of digital photography to deliver film quality photos. Or at least not in digital cameras that normal people (non professionals) like myself could afford, anyway.

My first digital camera was an inexpensive basic model that sported a whopping 3.2 mega pixels. Woo. The quality was ... ok. I certainly took my share of photos with it. I did enjoy getting the gist of the photo on the display screen. That was a plus. Also being able to edit and crop the photos at home was definitely an added bonus to traditional developing and printing options.

In preparation of my upcoming trip overseas, I decided to upgrade the quality of my digital camera. I now have a Canon Powershot A630. I love this camera! Not only does it have all the above mentioned features, but it boasts 8 mega pixels, the display screen can flip around and be maneuvered so you can capture angles yet keep your ability to see what you are taking. It has so many features, well, let's just say I am still learning about it. Thus far, I have been impressed with the clarity and quality of the photos taken. I look forward to using this camera on my vacation and will certainly share my photographic experiences here for everyone's enjoyment! Did I mention, I love my new camera???

Change of address

I have been considering for a while now, getting my own domain. I don't think it will be a bad move, but am just very nervous about it. I don't really want to lose my PR1 I've built up here, don't really want to lose my Alexa ranking I've gotten either. I really don't want to lose all my wonderful content either! HELP!!

So I ask all of you, have you ever gone from Blogspot or another free host to your own domain? How was the transition for you? Did you lose your content? What hosting companies do you like best? I am looking for any and all advice on this subject, I think I really want to make a move soon. They just finished a Google PR update so I will have the next 2 months or so to start to build it up before the next reviews.

Please leave some advice in the form of comments...thanks, I really appreciate it!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Apple Picking

Rumor has it...

Well, I've been hearing recently that there have been some new rules coming down and changes to the Terms of Service (TOS) over at PPP. Rumor has it that PPP is trying to tell us bloggers how to order our interim posts between paid opps for them (PPP) which is fine. I have read the new section of the Terms of Service, as suggested by my friend and also by PPP. You know, they should have regulations like these in order for the advertisers to get fair ads and to maintain a certain level of original content to these blogs that are being paid to advertise for them.

The problem comes in, when PPP is now trying to tell us how to order our interim posts with other paid posts from non PPP paid ad websites! They are trying to override the stipulations other paid sites put on the posts for their interim posts. For instance, PayU2Blog allows you to include the link texts for their paid assignments in back to back posts. Only one per link text ad per post, but that post can be followed up by another post with an ad, and so on. They do not require non-paid posts in between.

In other words, PPP would like posts to go like this:
PPP ad post
Interim Original post
PayU2Blog post
Interim Original post

Currently we have been able to decide our own blog content and abide by PPP TOS and post such as this:
PPP ad post
Interim Original post
PayU2Blog post
PayU2Blog post
Interim Original post
PPP ad post

So, really, who's blog is this anyway? What's next, is PPP going to begin to regulate what the content of our original posts can be now, too? I mean, I agree that they should do their best to cut back on those blogs that are just being maintained to generate money. That's not fair to the advertisers at all. But for those of us who actually like our blogs and throw in some paid content from time to time, we shouldn't be told what we can or cannot post for other websites! PPP should be able to regulate what we do directly before and after the posts we do for them, but that's it!

And the TOS described other websites that pay bloggers for ads as "competition" sites. What? Are they on drugs? Do they need some drug rehabilitation or something? How are they "competition"? They aren't really that similar at all, if you get right down to it. The differences are staggering. But that is another post entirely.

Yo, PPP, you are going to make some great and faithful bloggers very upset! Why not spend some time looking at the content of our blogs and weeding out those blogs that are just 'Open for business' and get rid of them? Otherwise, leave us to decide the content of our blogs!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Heads or Tails #3 - School

Today's Head or Tails theme is School. So without further a due: I can say that when I was young, I loved school. I went to public school in Kindergarten where we learned colors and our A, B, C's (although my mom had already done that at home) and numbers and played house. Life was great!

The next year I started at a Christian private school for 1st grade. I was immediately behind! Those kids learned to read in kindergarten and I didn't. So I struggled but quickly caught up. I went to private school from 1st through 5th grades and I wouldn't change it for the world. I received the best education during that time. I scored 9th grade 5th month + on my math sections of the standardized tests in the 5th grade. I was told they had to add the 'plus' because I scored above the scales they used.

For middle school, unfortunately I had to go back to public school. I did very well because I already knew the materials. I began to get bored of relearning things I already knew. So I would not do any homework and ace the tests and squeezed by with a 'C' average. This set the stage for my behavior going into high school. Where I was finally being introduced to new lessons. I mean, I was in a special group called 'The Young Readers & Writers' class where we did more difficult diagramming of sentences and compound sentences in the 7th and 8th grades. Hello, I'd been doing that since 3rd grade and I wasn't in a special class for it, we all learned it!

Something to keep in mind too is, I had an older brother who was 2 grade levels ahead and very protective of his little sister (before we couldn't stand each other!). Every classroom I came into, "Oh, you're Larry's little sister!"

In high school, I played tennis and had to have a 'C' average or 2.0 anyway. I scraped by. By this point, I had a hate of homework because I was not in the practice of doing it and so my grades began to suffer. School suddenly became hard and I lost interest. In the middle of my Sophomore year, my best friend got pregnant and dropped out. I felt alone. At the beginning of my Junior year, I learned quickly that my brother's protection was gone, since he had graduated that spring before. Also, our city was at a time when they were working to remodel some of the schools. I lived and went to school in the St. Louis City Public school district (which I believe has since lost it's accreditation) and things were a bit rough and tough enough. This particular year, a rival high school had been closed for remodeling and those students were distributed throughout the city school system. A lot of students came to my school and weren't happy about it. Everything was on edge...everything was crowded....I had no big brother there anymore, no best friend to sidle up with and my grades had seen better days. I wasn't even able to maintain a good enough grade point average to play tennis anymore. I slept through 1st hour everyday and was late everyday. Remember walking through the over crowded lunch room one day, and a guy turned around to walk and walked right into me. He threw up his arms and yelled in my face, "B*&%h, what's your problem?" Yeah, I was done. I quit. In my Junior year.

I set a goal for myself, to get my GED before I would have graduated and I did just that. I received my GED about 2 months before my class took the stage. I have not regretted it too much, I try not to think about it. I think my school life took a sad sad unnecessary turn of events and I am not the kind who should not have graduated high school! I used to love school....

Since then, I have taken a couple of college courses. I have a Certified Nurses Assistance license in the state of Missouri. I passed my Accounting 101 class with a 98%, top of my class. So that's what school meant to me, in a nut shell. A long nut shell, but a nut shell nonetheless! I didn't go into any details about specific teachers and such. I don't have time for all that...I mean school is something that is a huge part of a child's life. It would take a long time to really delve into it's impact and meaning to us! Thanks for reading!!!