Chooch Cool Links / Clicky Linky Dizzy Friends Music Podcast Too Long For Twitter

Roller Coaster Day, Part Two

I finally got the message we were waiting for from the Realtor since we listed our house for sale on Friday, that someone was coming for a look. I know that the first buyer won’t put down a contract, but I’ve been terrified about the market. Just knowing that there’s an actual market for our home is reassuring.

After we left the dentist appointment, we returned home and sure enough, someone had indeed been there. What a relief! We then headed out for our planned outing with our dear friend Philippa Ballantine, her parents visiting from New Zealand, and the spectacular Sonic Boom (daughter of Tee Morris). Pip’s dad had business nearby and we were invited to join them for lunch and for me to make good on my long-promised pottery painting trip with Sonic Boom.

It was a sorely needed break in the day for Chooch and I, as we were able to put the other stuff to the side for a bit and just revel in their fine company.

After lunch, Chooch had to return to work, loathe as he was to do so. We jumped in the limo (why yes, I did say limo! The Ballantines travel in style!) and went to the pottery studio. I had promised a pottery painting trip to Sonic Boom as her birthday present last summer, but was then shocked to find that the three pottery studios I knew of had closed, including one by her house and two by mine. I happily discovered that one studio by me had actually just moved and that’s where we headed.

It was delightful seeing Sonic Boom’s excitement, even though she’d already done it before. She took her time picking out just the perfect piece and paint colors. As she painted, Pip and her mother painted a lovely piece together, and Pip’s dad impressed us all with the bold design he painted on his piece. Sonic Boom worked very hard getting her work exactly the way she wanted it, until she spotted the studio cat, Whiskers. She was a bit distracted after that, but who can blame her? He’s a lovey cat that just wanders around jumping into unsuspecting laps for scritches and such.

Happy with all the work done, we jumped back into the limo and they took me home. Everyone piled out for a pit stop before they headed back home, and ended up staying and visiting before waving goodbye to Chooch as he was on a conference call.

I had a wonderful time over lunch, and it was absolutely delightful meeting Pip’s parents. They are just as you’d expect of the people that raised her: intelligent, extremely kind and very funny. Keeping up with Sonic Boom is just as fast-paced as you’d imagine, and I was fairly exhausted from all the fun and laughter we shared.

After they left, I started trying to get caught up on the work I’ve been unable to do for the last few weeks. It was pretty hectic and I wore myself out, but got a lot done, including a quick 5 minute recording that took over an hour to get done. That’s right, an hour, thanks to a crashing computer. As usual, it took Chooch 5 minutes to figure out and fix the problem and I was able to get it done and sent off. By that time, I was extremely stressed and cursing (sorry for that, fine Twitter followers) and my jaw was killing me.

We got in the car to head to band practice, and I medicated the pain and worked on the laptop on the road. I love being able to take the work with me, but I most enjoy the drive when Chooch and I just get to chat.

At Phil’s, we headed down to the band lair and relaxed and chatted with the band while waiting for Dennis (guitarist) to arrive. I was finally able to exhale for what felt like the first time in a long time, and I believe Chooch felt the same way. I still can’t believe how well everyone meshes together and I love spending time with them, whether it’s watching them play or chatting about clothes, kids and pasta makers.

They made amazing music, as always, as they ran through the set list for their show at Axum on Friday night. They are playing two sets, as they were bumped up to headline the show. So they’ll be playing later (11 pm) but longer, which thrills me.

The door proceeds for the band are being split between my Breast Cancer fund-raising efforts for the Richmond Race for the Cure, and between another woman’s efforts for the Komen 3 Day. I’m still blown away that the band offered to do this, and will be there to support them no matter how late they play.

I hope you can join us, as it will be a fun-filled night. Details are posted in Facebook.

Home now as I finish up this post, and I’m glad the insane day is over. It definitely felt as if I was strapped on a roller coaster with all the highs and lows. I’m happy that there were more good things then bad, but the sleep I’m about to get is well deserved.

Goodnight, Dear Readers!

Consumer Info Cooking Cool Links / Clicky Linky Household No Whining

Home Ec 101 – Help For Your Housekeeping

The majority of the house prep is done and our home has been listed for sale. Now it’s just a matter of knocking out the yard sale to clear the garage and we can sit back and wait for the offers to come rolling in. Oh, I forgot, we have to keep the house pristine for potential buyers while living in it with a large dog that drools and sheds a lot. No big deal, right?

The site Home Ec 101 first came to my attention, guessing here, when author Mur Lafferty tweeted about it at some point in 2010.  I looked into it and was immediately sucked in. It provides all sorts of information for those that may have never learned how to do the basics of cooking and cleaning and find themselves in need of guidance. The site also gives guidance on home repairs and laundry solutions. The site is not just for beginners, as I’ve been maintaining a home of my own for over 20 years and still find lots of useful information. There is even a section on cooking, with information for beginners, along with recipes and food safety.

From the site, “Home-Ec 101 is an attempt to reach average people and teach them the domestic arts that make life a little less expensive, a little easier, and a little more enjoyable.”  Blogger Heather Solos gives a slightly different take on how to get things done, and I enjoy it. You don’t get beaten up for not being Martha Stewart and it casts a realistic eye on the availability of time and funds of American families.

My very favorite thing about the site? The cleaning schedule. When I first perused the site I jumped at a pre-made, no thought needed schedule for keeping the house clean. I fell off the schedule during the Christmas rush, but now that my home is clean and needs to stay that way, I’m back on the program.

It’s simple and straight-forward, although not easy. Yesterday was laundry catch-up and bedding day, and since I was otherwise occupied for most of the weekend, that means pretty a LOT of laundry had to be caught-up. I didn’t finish (four bedrooms and not being well), so I’m rolling it in to today’s tasks, which includes cleaning the floors and a 15 minute quick pick-up and smudge patrol.

There is a standard set of tasks to do every day, along with items like those listed above added on top. I really enjoyed the results when I did it before, and like everything else, consistency is what will make it a success or a failure. Miss one or two days and you can catch up easily without a major re-cleaning. More than that and you’d better put some real time aside. Being back on this schedule will also prevent me from feeling like I have to obsess for hours every day, just in case we’re lucky enough to have someone interested in viewing our house.

And while customization of the list may be needed to fit your individual households, it’s a great place to get into the mind set of keeping things tidy.

**Thanks to Mia for noticing the schedule posted in my kitchen, as it reminded me to share the site here. I hope you find it as useful as I have.**

Chooch Cool Links / Clicky Linky Technology?


You know how you sometimes go to read a blog, and notice that some of the commenters have images next to their comment? Gravatar is the reason why. I will throw in the usual disclaimer that there may be other services that do this, I’ve just not heard of them.

From their site, Gravatar is described as:

A Globally Recognized Avatar

Your Gravatar is an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog. Avatars help identify your posts on blogs and web forums, so why not on any site?

If you go to the site, you will find a simple way to upload your image, photo or otherwise, that will represent you on blog post comments. You can even update it when you like.

For site owners, there is instruction on how to allow Gravatar to work on your site. I can’t tell you how easy or difficult it is, since my technology specialist, aka husband, sets it up on all of our sites. But it is certainly set up for most, if not all, of the blogs that I read.

If you’d like your image out there to accompany your words, give this free service a try. I’ve been using Gravatar for well over a year and have had no complaints.

So there, a technology post that a wee percentage of you possibly don’t already know. Rawr level up?

Cool Links / Clicky Linky Rules of Etiquette

Rules of Etiquette, Lesson Two

This series of posts was inspired by my discovery of Victorian rules of etiquette. The following is a rule concerning calling cards, and when to share them. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, they are similar to business cards, but are used by individuals. A husband and wife would have their own calling cards, and there were strict guidelines to be followed in their distribution to avoid a social faux pas.

Although we no longer use calling cards at social occasions, having hosted many parties through Evite, I found this one to be relevant to today’s world:

“Calls should be paid within a week after the receipt of invitations to a dinner party.”

In those days, your calling card would serve as your R.S.V.P., with a note explaining your acceptance or rejection of the event in the form of a courteous explanation. While I realize that current day logistics may prevent people from responding to Evites within a week, frequently having had a quarter or more of the invitees not respond ever is a bit of stress on the host and hostess. You have no idea if those people may show up and then expend funds to ensure there is enough to cover the largest pool of attendees possible. It is then double disappointing when they don’t come.

Consumer Info Convention Attendance Cool Links / Clicky Linky Friends

Useful Find for Travelers with Style

My husband and I have been overnight guests of friends quite a lot recently. At this point, the most time consuming part of packing is getting my usual grooming needs organized, partly because the big bottles take up so much space. I’ve gotten the cheap mini-bottles from Target before, but they aren’t labeled clearly enough to be useful or are cheap and fall apart quickly.

For a separate reason, I was wandering about in my dear friend’s nineteenOthree Etsy Store. She crafts beautiful boxes and travel cases, and I was hoping to have a peek at what she’s preparing for her booth at Balticon. While there, I discovered these bottles, and treated myself to them.

They are beautifully designed, but more importantly the full set of six manages all of my beauty product mischief. The labels are waterproof and clearly labeled, so even with soap in my eyes I should be able to tell the conditioner from the facial cleanser.

The photo below shows the set that I ordered, and they are perfectly sized for a long weekend away at a convention and even meet FAA requirements for liquid container size.  The care in packing and wrapping made it a treat to open, and although I’ve not yet used them, I’m already impressed with the quality of the product and recommend to any with such a need.

Click on the photo to go to Mia's Etsy Shop


I suggest you head over to nineteenOthree Etsy Store to peruse Mia’s beautiful inventory of cases, bottles and boxes, especially if steampunk or the Edwardian age call to your sense of style.

You will also find her selling her beautifully embellished wares at Balticon, Memorial Day Weekend. Bon voyage!


Chooch Convention Convention Attendance Cool Links / Clicky Linky

Convention Schedule

Upcoming Convention Schedule:

Since all the cool kids are doing it, I thought I’d post the convention schedule for Chooch and I for 2011.

There is a small chance we will attend RavenCon in Richmond, VA in April but it will likely just be for evening social time.
We are humbled and overjoyed to have been asked to again be participants at Balticon 45 over Memorial Day weekend.
We have our fingers crossed for Dragon*Con as attendees, but it’s too far off to know for sure. September in Atlanta has a mighty strong pull…

That’s it, money’s tight and we’re acting accordingly. Hope to you see at Balticon!

Books Cool Links / Clicky Linky No Whining

The Dragons Are Coming. Prepare To Dance.

Most likely, you already know that HBO is currently hard at work creating its newest series, “A Game of Thrones” based on the epic and epicly beloved George R. R. Martin “Songs of Ice and Fire” series.

Today I discovered that there is a release date for the long-awaited fifth book in the series, A Dance with Dragons. We only have to wait until July 12, 2011. There was much rejoicing and squealing!

You can now pre-order the book from Amazon, using our affiliate store. It costs you nothing extra, but puts a few pennies in our coffers. Many thanks if you choose this option.

Enjoy the inserted post from Martin’s very own blog below:

[first posted at 9 am EST on my website]No. Sorry. Not done yet.

I’m close, though. Watch this space. When the book is done, you will read it here.

original cover 2006

Meanwhile… there is news. Big news. The end is in sight, at long long last, and we’re close enough so that my editors and publishers at Bantam Spectra have set an actual publication date.

revised cover 2007

A DANCE WITH DRAGONS will be in your favorite bookstore on

TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2011

new cover 2009

Yes, I know. You’ve all seen publication dates before: dates in 2007, 2008, 2009. None of those were ever hard dates, however. Most of them… well, call it wishful thinking, boundless optimism, cockeyed dreams, honest mistakes, whatever you like.

This date is different. This date is real.

Barring tsunamis, general strikes, world wars, or asteroid strikes, you will have the novel in your hands on July 12. I hope you like it.

((For what it’s worth, the book’s a monster. Think A STORM OF SWORDS))

final cover? 2011

The dragons are coming. Prepare to dance.

And hey… thanks for waiting.

~~From George R.R. Martin’s “Not A Blog” Non-Blog
Chooch Cool Links / Clicky Linky Movies Too Long For Twitter

Sixteen Candles for Valentine’s Day

I’d planned on giving a review of the documentary Don’t You Forget About Me after watching it with Chooch this past weekend. It’s about John Hughes and his effect on film makers, actors and audiences over the last 20 plus years. If you’re a fan of his movies, I highly recommend you watch it, as I think you may be as surprised as I was just how many other folks feel still warm and fuzzy over his movies. Particularly his “teen movies” in which you got the feeling that he really got what high school was like. He was an adult and he hadn’t lost touch with what it was like being a teenager, and that is a rare thing, even today. The really surprising thing, was the number of teenagers in this 2009 film that felt the same way I did, but over 20 years later.

In a strange twist of fate, I discovered a special return to the big screen of my own personal favorite of John Hughes’ catalog. Twenty-seven years after its original release, Sixteen Candles will be shown on Sunday, February 13 and Monday, February 14 at 7pm in limited release at AMC theaters. No, really! Here’s the link to the press release!

I’m ecstatic over this and hope that the shows sell out early. I can think of no better message to send to Hollywood as we are inundated with reboots of beloved movies. This classic cannot be improved upon, in my humble opinion, and I can’t wait to sit in a darkened theater with others just as excited as I am to see it again on the big screen. If you want to see it, I’m providing the AMC Theater link for you to search your location.

Ya know, there really should be a “squee” font for things like this…

Anti-Health Cooking Cool Links / Clicky Linky Weight Loss

Nutella Day (Don’t Judge Me)

I love Nutella. It’s a recent favorite, as I first tasted the insanely delicious chocolate and hazlenut spread about 6 or 7 years ago. If you haven’t tried it, think peanut butter, but sweeter and deeply chocolatey. In fact, it’s typically stocked next to peanut butter in the grocery store. It’s also pretty close calorie and fat-wise, but the sugar is much higher in Nutella than in peanut butter.

I occasionally buy a jar, but it’s a dangerous purchase since I’m the only one that likes it. Because I’m focusing on eating healthier I haven’t had it for awhile, and the craving has grown to obsession. Did I say obsession? I meant to say OBSESSION.

I’ve decided the only solution to purge this frantic desire is to have a Nutella free-for-all. One day where I can have as much Nutella as I want until I’m sickened at the sight of it. What? It could happen.

I’ve chosen this Saturday since my regular weigh-in day is Friday. That allows almost a week to undo all the damage a 20 ton vat of Nutella will do to my weight loss efforts.

I was debating writing this post in order to proclaim Saturday, February 5th as Viv’s Nutella Day and invite folks to indulge as I am. But I hesitated because big girls don’t like to trumpet their fatty-fatty-bo-batty indulgences. On a lark, I did a search and discovered that there is already an established Nutella Day. In fact, the 5th World Nutella Day is … wait for it … Saturday, February 5th! The same day I’m doing mine! How could I not post and encourage folks to join me?

So if you’re interested in this foolishness, you may enjoy the links I’m providing below:

World Nutella Day Website – includes links to 400 Nutella recipes and information.

World Nutella Day Twitter Account

World Nutella Day Facebook Page

Let me know in the comments if you’ll be indulging in any way on Saturday, as I’m curious to see who else is a fan of the sticky, dark deliciousness that *is* Nutella.

Now, does anyone know where I can find a 20 ton vat of Nutella?

Convention Attendance Cool Links / Clicky Linky Firsts TV

Fave Doctor Who Episode (Eccleston -> Tennant)

It was partly geek shaming that motivated me to finally start watching Doctor Who. You know what I mean, the taunting and teasing that occurs when one is uncovered as not having knowledge of a particular corner of The Complete Geek Experience. For most things, I could care less of such judgment and am amused at the presumption that I MUST partake AND worship it in order to attain or maintain “Geek Cred.” Again, I could care less of my Geek Cred ranking/rating. I’m like Cartman. I do what I want.

I started watching the newer incarnations about 3 months ago. The final determining factor was being told not to bother starting further back than when Christopher Eccleston took over the role. I love him, so went ahead and dove in. Surprisingly, at least to me, my favorite episode does not include him.

“Blink” aka the Weeping Angels episode is the one I keep hearing about as the BEST EPISODE EVAR!!!! And I’ll grant you, that is one finely crafted, shiny-whiny episode. It is, quite literally, haunting and goose-bump-raising moments are scattered throughout. In spite of that, the light presence of the Doctor himself in the episode, with his brooding and burdensome role in the Universe, keeps it from being too heavy and dark. For being so spooky, it’s down right charming. And it’s clearly an episode that has resonated with fans, as I’ve already seen Weeping Angels costumers at conventions with their beautifully executed creations.

Weeping Angels
Weeping Angles seen at Farpoint Convention, Feb 2010

Still, it is not my favorite episode, which I was able to easily compare since it was immediately after what I have deemed my favorite episode.

“Family of Blood” is episode 9 of season 3, and is the second of a 2 parter. The first part, “Human Nature” sets it up beautifully and I was immediately pulled into the story. The characters are compelling and the acting superb. Without going too deep into spoiler country, you get a peek at another of the many burdens carried when you are the last known Timelord. It is absolutely wrenching to watch as David Tennant, Tenth Doctor, masterfully demonstrates the pain of having to choose between the life and love he wants and the life he’s destined for. It’s something I would have expected earlier in the series, at least the newer ones that I’ve watched. Maybe it was covered with one or more of the previous 8 Doctors? I don’t intend to go back and watch those, so if you know then please share in the comments below.

I won’t go into greater detail, but I urge you to give the series a try. It’s pretty family friendly, fairly campy and the aliens appear almost harmless and silly looking. (Except for the Racnoss. I didn’t like that spidery thing, no sir, not one bit.) It’s crucial that you start with Eccleston if you want to understand how Rose Tyler and others tie in during later seasons. If you do decide to skip his Doctor, you won’t be completely lost but you will lose some fantastic details and inside jokes.

The writer of both “Human Nature” and “Family of Blood” was Paul Cornell, and the only other episode I see attributed to him is “Father’s Day” during the first Eccleston season (as the Ninth Doctor).  This was also a great episode, so I’m not tremendously surprised. I found it to also be a great pull on the heart strings as Rose has to go back and witness a very painful experience in her life and decide whether or not to change it. I’d love to see more written by him, although it doesn’t appear that he will anytime soon. He has written several Doctor Who novels and comics, as well a few episodes of Robin Hood (2006) among many other things.

There are also a few Doctor Who specials. There seems to always be a Christmas special, and 2010’s was fantastic. Michael Gambon added to it as only he can. I also just watched “Waters of Mars” and all I can say is that I’m glad I’m not a Timelord. Heartbreaking life.

Of tremendous interest to (now fellow) Doctor Who fans is that Neil Gaiman has written what is currently scheduled to be the third episode of the upcoming sixth season.

Although I started watching them months ago with Chooch, I finally mainlined them by myself in the last 2 or so weeks. I finished Seasons 1 through 4 via Netflix streaming, Season 5 I’ll have to get via Netflix by mail. And while I’ve seen several episodes featuring the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, I’ll still watch the entire season in order since I wasn’t really paying attention to detail. I plan on being up to date when the sixth season starts.

So, why don’t you tell me in the comments –  Who’s your favorite Doctor Who? And which is your favorite episode from Seasons 1 through 4?