Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Winter's Reprieve

Winter has truly been upon us over the past month. With some of the coldest temps on record and plenty of snow mixed with occasional ice, it's not been the most agreeable weather to get out and about in. It's been nice in some ways, as it's afforded me a chance to get caught up on work and things around the house. The last week or so, however, I'm starting to feel a bit of cabin fever, so when the temperature climbed up to nearly 50 degrees F the other day, I knew I had to get out. I ran a few errands and then drove around with my camera.




In one of the most northern parts of my city, there's a road that leads from one of the main streets to a quiet, residential neighborhood. It stands out in particular for its tree-covered road. While it will look gorgeous and full by the beginning of Summer, it looks beautiful now.




Here's a shot of the same road, but coming from the other direction.




I drove farther north, out of the city, and into the Ponca Hills. Here you can see a pond nestled in a valley. The skies were so clear that I could literally see for miles. The Sun was warm on my face, and the air was calm, making for a peaceful, serene moment.




Here's a random shot I took from an intersection. It's interesting because the plane trails in the upper left-hand corner align perfectly with the stop lights, and you can see the massive radio towers that dominate the sky in this part of the city.

It felt good for my mental health to be out and about outside again. It reminds me of how I really need to start purchasing heavy gear for Winter hiking. I think I will make that a goal for this year. If I purchase everything piece by piece, I should have it all by next Winter.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

-H.A.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Latest from the Write Life


Good morning! I got over eight hours of sleep last night so, combine that with a cup of coffee, and I'm feeling pretty good today. I didn't get much sleep on Monday night which meant that last night I was feeling pretty tired. Since I had a meeting at 9 p.m., I thought I would take a quick power nap - something I've done many times before. Instead, I slept for a few hours, waking up well after the meeting was over, so I went back to bed. At least I'm rested, right? 

As you all know, I've put my latest book endeavor Vanished on the shelf for awhile. This was mainly due to my hectic schedule that began early last year. After I finished The Box, I decided to start Vanished, but hold off on writing it in a dedicated fashion until after a big event I'm helping coordinate is over in May. Well, being a writer means writing calls you, not the other way around, so I've been called back to my storytelling. 

Instead of Vanished, I'm back to working on a series of three books that I already had pretty well sketched out. One of the characters from The Box inspired the idea for the series, and, recently, my mind starting thinking about that series in earnest. I'm back to writing again, and it feels good to be back in the saddle. Depending on how it goes over the next few months, I'll be releasing the details as I progress farther.

Speaking of writing, have you signed up for my newsletter yet? It is soon time to release the second of four newsletter installments of my short story "The Scream". There's still time to get the first installment if you sign up by Friday! The sign-up box is in the right-hand corner of this site.

Last, but not least, have you checked out my Patreon yet? If not, click on the Patreon menu up top for more details. I'm releasing "The Scream" there as well, so this is yet another way to read it!  Get it while it's hot.

Have a great week.

-H.A.



Saturday, January 13, 2018

Dollar Tree Haul

Oh, how I love the Dollar Tree. I'm pretty sure I've said that exact same thing on this blog before, but it's true. You can buy things you need and things you don't need for a mere dollar. I live in a city where there are several DTs, and this makes me happy. Some locations have different items than others, and since many of their products are a one-time deal, it's always good to go check out other DTs when possible. After the holidays, I headed to another location instead of my local DT, and here's what I scored.




Oh. Em. Gee. I love thin mints, and I love orange creme, so when I saw these babies I grabbed the box and read the label. They are accidentally vegan so into my cart they went. Let me say, these are delicious. (As you can see, I didn't even wait to open them.)




This is one of those items that must not have been selling very well, so it ended up at the DT. Since I talked about doing more exercise at home when getting out isn't possible, I figured I would grab this. Besides, I can't lose for $1.00.




I found these microfiber facial pads, and since I get sample-sized face cleaners from Ipsy often, I figured these would be great to use with them. They are! I really like my new face routine in the shower. It's quick, easy, and really helps deep-clean my skin. The other item is silicone wine caps. Most of the time, getting a cork back into an opened bottle of wine is tricky. Well, not this time! 




Here's a better view of what they look like. Just pop this on your wine bottle when you're done, and it will help keep your wine fresh until the next time you imbibe.




This was a fun find that got me excited. They had about 4 or 5 different varieties of product sets, sold individually. This one is Lemon Verbena & Mint, and I purchased the bath soap, facial wipes, body cream, and body oil. They also had a hand soap and a bath salts for each type, but I decided against those.




I also bought the Lavender & Chamomile set. Here you see the facial wipes and body oil.




Here is the bath soap and body cream. I might give one set away as a gift, but I might keep it...who knows? 




The last two items I grabbed were some lens cleander spray with wiping cloth; and coconut lip balm. I recently fell in love with lens cleaner - especially if it has the cleaning cloth. It cleans glasses so well, and since I wear them every day, keeping them clean is a necessity. The lip balm is always a good purchase, particularly in the winter when skin is dry from the air. I put one in my car as I ran out of the one I always keep in my glove box.

And there you have it: my latest Dollar Tree haul. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of what a few dollars can get you. Have a great weekend my friends.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Holiday Indulgences


The holidays got me, they truly did. As I sit here, a few weeks removed from the tidal wave that was Thanksgiving and Christmas, I have to admit something: I gained back a few pounds. It's so frustrating when you're working on getting healthier and staying on track and you let something like the holidays derail you. 

Now, I didn't gain back a ton of weight, but it's enough to make me feel like I've failed. I worked so hard to lose the weight I did, and here I am backsliding. I can, once again, feel myself slipping back into those bad habits that gained me the weight the first time around. 

The Teen and I joined a gym right after Christmas, but since my husband now works a part-time job most evenings, I don't have access to a vehicle but a couple of days a week. Also, with the weather now cold and icky, walking to work is not an option. So, not only am I slipping back into bad food habits, but I'm not exercising anymore. And I can feel it. All of it.

So, I'm going to take control of the situation before it escalates, and here's my plan:

1. Go to the gym when I can.
2. Quit doing the food cheats.
3. Get back into healthy snacking.
4. Do exercise videos at home when that's my only option.

It's like I talked about when I first got back on the wagon: I can either sit around and cry about it, or I can do something about it. I'm going to choose the latter. I'll keep you updated on my progress. I'm going to achieve my ultimate goal one way or another! How do you stay on track? I'd love to know, so leave me a comment.



Monday, January 8, 2018

Ipsy's November Glam Bag


I've had a few requests recently, asking if I could start doing the monthly Glam Bags again, so I'm obliging. Now, I'm not saying I'll do these every month like I used to, but I might. I kinda missed doing these. At any rate, let's check out November's Glam Bag! Here's the monthly card that tells subscribers about the theme, along with the five items I received.




#1: Colourpop Ultra Satin Lip in Calypso

This is one of those liquid lipcolors that dries into a matte. I tried it once, but I get so many of the same color type from ipsy (which truthfully isn't my favorite color to use) that I don't use them much.




#2: Skyn Iceland's Berry Lip Fix with Wintered Red Algae

This is a lip balm that smells like berry but tingles on the lips. I put this on every morning after I've put on my makeup, especially now that Winter is in full swing and everything on my body is DRY!





#3: Tarte's Deluxe Amazonian Clay in Quirky

This is a beautiful blush that goes on cleanly. I use this one quite a bit, and what a pretty design!




#4: Crown Brush's C141 Small Chisel Brush

I use this brush to apply the above blush. Very nice.




#5: Naked Cosmetics Mica-Loose Powder in Mother Nature #6

I received another loose powder from Naked before, but that one is a light, bright color. This one is in a dark purple with greenish highlights. I used this one night when I was going out by dabbing it on my final eyelid color. It would neat mixed into some gloss for the lips as well.

So, there you have it! Another ipsy from me. I didn't get a chance to post this this past weekend as we went out of town to visit family. I'll be posting again in a few days so I can get back on schedule! Until then, have a great week.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

What We Leave Behind



A new year is once again upon us, and, like many people, I'm contemplating the year that was. It was a good year, possibly one of my best, even if it did have its share of dark clouds.

  • I turned forty-five right before 2017 began, and so began another Five Year Shift
  • I got more intimately involved with an organization I feel strongly about, as well as becoming a founding member of another organization that I have high hopes for. 
  • I traveled by taking a wonderful family vacation to the mountains, as well as a couple of weekend getaways. 
  • I explored the numerous places of beauty and wonder that make my home an amazing place.
  • I spent quality time with the people I care most about.
  • I finished & published my book The Box.
  • I lived life with more purpose, meaning, and adventure.

While I enjoyed every bit of these things, it's the first and last ones that resonate with me the most. I really feel that 2017 was the year when my life finally hit its stride. Never in my whole life have I felt more confident, engaged, unafraid, mindful, independent, and sure of myself than I have this past year. My 25-year-old self would be in awe of who I've become. I've truly come unto myself. I'm doing things that I would have never imagined myself doing, let alone imagined that they would have been possible. I still march to the beat of my own drummer, but I'm in charge of my own life and my own destiny. It's been a wonderful year in plenty of ways.

That's not to say that 2017 was all sunshine and roses. It was also filled with some of the hardest moments I've ever had to face. Personal struggles within myself and with someone very close to me cast a long shadow over me. The loss of a friend to suicide and my best friend's dad to heart issues hit me hard. Watching my oldest child make poor choices as he navigates the world of being somewhere between a kid and an adult have made my heart heavy. My ebook publisher, Pronoun, shut down. It's been a tough year in plenty of ways as well.

But, as C.S. Lewis said, "There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind." And he's right. There is a newness about the dawn of another year that gives a sense of hope, and a promise that this year will be better than the last. While I'm smart enough to know that there will still be the occasional dark cloud, I'm wise enough to understand that I can expand upon the greatness of last year as I look forward to 2018.

I'm optimistic, and I hope you are too.




Saturday, December 30, 2017

Latest Libations: 10th Edition

As most of you are already aware, I like to enjoy a few beers here and there. I like to pick up mix-a-six packs often so I can try new and different beers. It's a good way to expand your palate and find new favorites. Here's what I've been drinking lately.




I first tried Abita beer several years ago when my husband brought home a six-pack of the Strawberry Lager for me. It was the first fruit brew I'd ever had that wasn't sweet, and I wasn't real fond of it at first. By the time I finished the six-pack, I changed my mind. A non-sweet brew lets the flavors shine through without masking it in sugar. This particular brew by Abita is their Andygator. A Helles Doppelbock, it is a high-gravity brew with an alcohol content of 8%. Bold on taste, it's a decent beer.





Glacial Till recently began canning their quality Cider, making it available for the general public to purchase. They are a vineyard in my state with a tasting room in a different town in my state. I've been to their tasting room with a friend, and that's how I first learned about them. Their Cider is crisp, lightly sweet, and for purchase in small growlers. Their Hibiscus Ginger Cider is to die for, and I look forward to the day they sell that in cans as well (if they don't already).





Another Abita brew, this one is Amber, and surprisingly, it's not an ale but rather a lager. Brewed in the Munich style, it's no Munich lager, but still a decent brew. I don't think Abita beers are top notch, but they're pretty good, and definitely a cut above your average brew.





Ahh, Boulevard, you have yet to disappoint me. Their Bully Porter is a dark, strong, delicious brew, perfect for sipping. The roasted flavor mixes well with the hoppiness, creating a good balance that doesn't leave it being IPA hoppy. I like hops in moderation.





Kros Strain Brewing Co. is another local brewery right here in Omaha, NE. This one is called Dark Paradise, and is an actual amber ale. I like amber ales for their drinkability. They're bold enough to not be watery, yet light enough to drink several without feeling rough (I'm looking at you Porter, haha). This is a decent amber ale, and I'm looking foward to checking out their brewery. I never even realized they were local! Honestly though, I've only had this beer one other time.





Last, but not least, I'm including Baileys Almande. I've been an Irish cream fan for many years, enjoying a double-shot over ice alongside a nice beer, like an amber ale. Since switching to a plant-based diet a few years ago, finding a vegan Irish cream was laughable....until now. Baileys has stepped up their game by offering an almond milk version of Irish cream. It's not quite the same as the original, but it's very tasty and I'm thrilled to drink Irish cream again.


So that's what I've been drinking lately. This time around, I've included links to all the brewers, so you can check out their websites and, hopefully, find a retailer near you that sells any you might be interested in trying. Happy indulging!