7/28/2017: Celebrate the Small Things

Friday, July 28, 2017

It's Friday and time to post my Celebrate the Small Things on this blog.

If you'd like to join in the fun or check out some other participating blogs, click the image to the right or the link at the bottom of the page.

My small things for this past week, some not so small, but all great!

First is a successful baking of blueberry banana nut bread. I took two recipes and adapted...a little moist but oh my, DELICIOUS!

Second is the addition of a puppy to our household...yes, I am seriously nuts. But what a joy he has been. What work he has been! Housebreaking is going okay - as long as we are paying attention. He has his own Instagram account and his own Facebook page, Mighty Mini-Cooper!

He had his first vet visit on Wednesday and all was generally good. He could stand to gain weight so we increased his food. A little irritation in his ears, very common on the Doodles (Poodles, Golden Retrievers, Labs, etc) so we have some natural stuff to hopefully clear that up. He got shots updated and goes back in three weeks for the rest and to recheck his ears.

He has made himself right at home...ya think? LOL!

Third is finally getting back to working on Paradise Dead, the second in my trilogy of novellas in the Lei Crime Kindle World. I hope to make my August 1st deadline to get it out to my beta readers and typo hunters. Phew!

I hope you've had a spectacular week and have some small things to celebrate!

Click to see the other blogs participating in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop.

Ciao for now!

Introducing Mini-Cooper, the Mighty GoldenDoodle

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Many of you have followed us for a while and enjoyed Sadie's (our PitBoxer pup) tales. When we moved to Ecuador, she moved in with Stu's oldest and her family. She is now a well loved and well spoiled member of their family. We see her when we visit them in Delaware.

But being without a pup since 2013 was wearing on us. While we love Sadie, we knew we didn't want another pit mix and we didn't want a female this time around. We both fell in love with the Poodle mixes we ran into while traveling - LabraDoodle, NeufyDoodle, GoldenDoodle and of course the ever popular YorkiePoo.

So, we promised ourselves if we gave in, it would be to get a Doodle mix. Looking for a medium sized pup that wouldn't struggle with space when we are in the RV, we initially watched for a rescue of an older dog. We soon realized many of these were troubled dogs, a product of poor breeding or owners who didn't understand what they were getting into. At this stage of our life, we opted for a puppy over an adult rescue. (We may rescue a second dog once Cooper is about a year old).

I ran across an ad for GoldenDoodle pups for sale in the Crossville, TN area. We started talking to the breeder and before we knew it, we had put a deposit on a puppy. Fast forward two months and yesterday we brought home our own little Mini Cooper, GoldenDoodle extraordinaire. Here are a couple of photos of his trip home...in my lap.

First stop was Tractor Supply to get a halter so he could ride in the back seat, strapped in. He did well for his first time ever with a leash. We lucked out and got the harness at 50% off, we also picked up a water dish for outside.

Once home, he's been a jewel - almost too quiet. Weighs about 20# according to our scale. No accidents, slept in the crate all night with only 10 minutes of protest, eating, peeing & pooping all good. Even lets me brush & comb him and behaves on the leash most of the time.

But he doesn't play much. I'm used to puppies wanting to play all the time. Thinking it's just an adjustment period. Also, unless he is really hungry, he ignores treats including peanut butter, bananas and even a tiny bit of cheese. Definitely not food motivated...

While Sadie had her own blog (now merged into this one), Cooper will only have a Facebook page and an Instagram account [@Mighty_Mini_Cooper]. I hope you will follow him there.

His first 24 hours and 1) he slept all night, okay 11-5:30, 2) his first nap in the crate he cried for 20 minutes, the next two times it was 10 minutes, 3) he is eating and free feeding is working well, downside is he isn't food oriented, not even cheese or peanut butter, 4) he whimpers when he wants to go out, we're still working on the bell training. He's not a fan of his worm medicine and other than magazines, hasn't tried to chew on anything.

Ciao for now!

7/21/2017: Celebrate the Small Things

Friday, July 21, 2017

It's Friday and time to post my Celebrate the Small Things on this blog.

If you'd like to join in the fun or check out some other participating blogs, click the image to the right or the link at the bottom of the page.

My small things for this past week, some not so small, but all great! By the way, it's been a BBBIIIIIGGG week!

First is delightful evenings spent on our back deck. Cooler temps, a little breeze and some beer &/or wine. Ahhhhh...

Second is finding two bargains. First was this hutch for our dining area. I wanted something with storage underneath for small appliances (ones not used too often) and the top for our collection of pint glasses. Got this for $100! It's a little darker than our other pieces, but I don't mind. It works perfectly. The open bottom shelf will hold some of the collectible pieces of our McNicol china that we've saved as well as a couple of my favorite creamers.

...and this 4' long stained glass wall hanging that will eventually hang in the dining area as well. $35

Third is watching the hummingbirds soar by, stop and drink when we are sitting on the deck. It was getting dark so my iPad didn't get great photos but here are two. Oh, they are definitely ruby throated hummingbirds.

Fourth  is getting our driveway expanded so there is more than enough room for the RV to the side of the garage and opening up room for two cars in front of the garage. It also makes it much easier for him to back in and pull out.



BONUS: Stu got our 50 amp plug installed and working. We now have A/C in the RV - more room for company!

I hope you've had a spectacular week and have some things, big or small, to celebrate!

Click to see the other blogs participating in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop.

Ciao for now!


Monday, July 17, 2017

Our new house has a lot of blooming plants and shrubs....

...including roses.

And roses mean Japanese Beetles. I remember these growing up in Massachusetts. I think my mother spread some kind of powder to fight them. Now it's even easier with these amazing traps. We now have three out and they are filling fast. Of course, some damage has already been done to the bushes but hopefully they will be okay.

Stu tried to get the traps at our local Tractor Supply but they were sold out and backordered. He found one at our local co-op and as soon as he saw how effective it was, we ordered two more from Amazon.

Ciao for now!


Saturday, July 15, 2017

We have keys....LOTS of keys. Keys to three vehicles. Keys to the RV entry doors. Keys to the RV outside storage bays. Keys to the toolbox on the pickup. Keys to the shed on our property. Keys to the shed on our house. Keys to the deadbolts on the house. Keys to the storm door on the house. Keys to doorknob on the door between the utility room and garage. Keys to Stu's Craftsmen toolboxes. Keys to....well, you get the idea.

This means multiple key rings. I have one set up for the RV, when in Florida or traveling and I have one for the house. Both have keys to the pickup, the only vehicle I drive. Stu has one set for everything but the motorcycle and one for the motorcycle.

Last week he was out riding with our friend, Earl, and they wanted to stop at the house. Stu realized he had the garage door opener but no house key. I had left to do some shopping and was 30 miles away.

So we bought a couple of things to aid our failing memories (and yes, he did add a house key to his motorcycle key ring) and also help if we need to ask someone to access the house when we are away.

First was adding a Universal Garage Door Wireless Opener from LiftMaster. My late husband and I had one and I loved it. (And if I close the garage door while Stu is working in the shed and the side door is locked, oh, and his keys are in the house - VOILA! He can enter). You can read more on the Liftmaster site.
LiftMaster Universal 387LM Keyless Entry
Next was adding a combination Key Safe or LockBox inside the garage. We did this for two reasons. We never lock the doorknob lock on the door between the garage and utility room. Since we already carry too many keys, that is one we don't bother with. But what if someone accidentally locked it?

The key safe is mounted inside the garage and we have stored a copy of the deadbolt key as well as the doorknob key. This way we will never be locked out. Plus, if we need someone to access the house and they don't have keys to it, we can get them inside without having to mail them keys.
Kidde KeySafe Push Button Combination Key Lock Box, 2-Key
Of course we now have number combinations to remember for our house security system, the house safe, the RV safe, the garage door opener and the key safe. LOL! Needless to say, these are written down and accessible via our smart phones thanks to DropBox and a shared folder between us.

Phew! I think we have all contingencies covered...well, for the most part. I'm sure something will come back to bite us in the butt. LOL!

Ciao for now!

7/14/2017: Celebrate the Small Things

Friday, July 14, 2017

It's Friday and time to post my Celebrate the Small Things on this blog.

If you'd like to join in the fun or check out some other participating blogs, click the image to the right or the link at the bottom of the page.

My small things for this past week, some not so small, but all great!

First is for my hubby who got out several days on our motorcycle. It's been so hectic and so rainy that he hasn't been able to ride much in the last couple of months. On Sunday, he took an all day ride with a good friend who moved from Maryland to Tennessee a couple months before us.

Second is getting my hummingbird feeders filled and mounted. It took a couple of days, but they have found it. We enjoy sitting out in the late afternoon (it's on the east side of the house, so shady) and watching them come and go.

Third is finally getting all our files sorted and cleaned out. We now have one small tote box that will go between the house & the RV, one file drawer in the file cabinet now in the house, and the important paperwork sorted into the two safes we have. Hopefully we won't have something in the house that we need when we are traveling. LOL!

Fourth and final is my final eye checkup was excellent. I've ended up with 20/20 in my left eye and 20/40 in my right. Very happy but will be happier when I go shopping for glasses and hopefully have them next week.

How did your week go? Any celebrations or victories, big or small?

Click to see the other blogs participating in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop.

Ciao for now!

YouTube is Evil (It All Started in Ecuador)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Honest! YouTube is evil.... The story began in Ecuador where Stu discovered he could watch YouTube videos on our TV. In the states he always watched car shows. In Ecuador he discovered woodworking shows. LOTS of woodworking shows.

A year later, we are back in the states, we bought a house but the obsession didn't stop. Oh no, it got worse. The obsession has spread from watching YouTube woodworking videos to.....


and THIS!

LOL! Seriously, he is having a blast turning the shed into his woodworking shop. He still needs to install an exhaust fan but for now he has moved on to organizing the garage.

Yes, YouTube can be evil, addicting and educational!

Ciao for now!

Tui Snider: What possessed you to start on this project?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Q: What possessed you to start on this project?

Writing research often takes me to historic cemeteries. I love it! But all these trips to the graveyard made me realize that us modern folks have forgotten what burial grounds are for. 

Graveyards don’t exist simply to shelter the dead. They are also meant to nurture the living. In fact, it may surprise your readers to learn that America’s garden cemeteries were our nation’s first public parks! 

During the Victorian Era, especially, families might take a picnic to a cemetery for a fun day in nature. Yes, FUN! 

Graveyards could be quite lively on a sunny day, with hunters shooting game, artists painting landscapes, and families strolling about. Some garden cemeteries even hosted public festivals and carriage races!

In recent decades, many of America’s original garden cemeteries have been placed on the historical register. More and more cemeteries across the country offer historic tours, annual festivals and events which run the gamut from jazz picnics, birding tours, costumed reenactments, performances of Shakespeare, and more. 

Also, since the shrubs and flowers planted during the Victorian Era are now a source for heritage bulbs and plantings, many burial grounds have arboretum status. In this way, America’s historic cemeteries have become living libraries!

Another thing that deepened my appreciation of historic cemeteries was understanding the meaning behind the many different symbols people used on their headstones. The meaning behind these has been forgotten over time, and that’s a shame. 

Anyway, I tried finding a concise guidebook to graveyards and cemetery symbols, one I could keep in my purse or glovebox. While there are a lot of great books out on the subject, I never found quite what I wanted. So I decided to write it myself!

My hope for Understanding Cemetery Symbols: Your Guide to Exploring Historic Graveyards is to inspire readers to get out and enjoy these living libraries for themselves! 

Q: Do you consider yourself a history buff? Or are you just interested in quirky things?

While I now consider myself a history buff, I hated the subject in school. It seemed like all we did was learn about wars and memorize battle dates. Boring!

But even as a kid, when it came time to write a history report, I managed to dig up quirky facts, like how Paul Revere was a talented silversmith who made a special collar for his beloved pet squirrel, or how Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay on farting, invented a musical instrument that made people go insane, and believed in the healing power of taking “moon baths” in the nude. 

Q: How did you research for this book?

First off, I read (and continue to read) every book on cemeteries and symbolism I can get my hands on! The research is ongoing.

The bulk of my research was offline, but I used the internet, too. For instance, the US Department of Veterans Affairs website was helpful for researching military headstones. (And I’m very grateful to them for granting me permission to use their Emblems of Belief graphics in the book.)

Visiting museums and speaking to curators, historians and other experts was helpful, too. I visited a Greek monastery, for instance, to learn about ex votos and the meaning behind the Eastern Cross. (I was left a little red-faced, however, when the first monk I spoke to simply shook his head and walked off. Turns out he had taken a vow of silence!)   

Last week, I gave a talk about Understanding Cemetery Symbols at the Southern Monument Builders Association (SMBA) conference. Wow! Was that ever a great experience. I came armed with a list of questions and they did not disappoint!

And, of course, I visit historic cemeteries every chance I get! I’ve got a research road trip coming up at the end of this month. I’ll be exploring historic graveyards, Native American burial mounds, scraped graveyards, spirit houses, and so much more along the way! (If you want to follow along, I’ll be posting photos on Twitter and Instagram as @TuiSnider as well as my FB Author Page: Author Tui Snider

Q: Will this be a series? If so, do you have any idea of how many books there will be? If not, what might be next on your agenda?

Oh, boy! While I knew that cemetery symbolism is a huge topic, it really hit home while writing Understanding Cemetery Symbols. People have been dying for a very long time, after all, and it doesn’t look like they will quit any time soon! 

Seriously though, every single chapter in this book could easily be expanded into an entire book of its own.

There’s a chapter on crosses, for instance. Sounds simple, right? But not only are there well over 300 different types of crosses, but nearly every cross goes by at least four different names, and has an extensive history behind it. Needless to say, I couldn’t include every single type of cross in Understanding Cemetery Symbols. So there’s a possible book topic, right there.

The same goes for my chapters entitled "Saints, Angels and Other Beings," "Cemetery Architecture," and "Plants, Flowers and Trees." And don’t even get me started on the chapter about "Clubs, Secret Societies & Organizations." Considering that at one time there were over 2000 active fraternal organizations in America, you can see how there's another topic that could easily grow into a book of its own!

That said, when I give presentations, audience members really love hearing about all the quirky graves I’ve seen, such as the military grave for Douglas the Confederate camel, or the alleged space alien grave in Aurora, Texas. So, while I don’t yet have a title for that one, I have enough bizarre burial stories to fill a book. That one could well be my next book, actually!

Q: How do you envision this book being used by people such as those researching their genealogy?

Good question! I really do have a mental picture of my readers - lol! While I'm sure every person will have their own way of using Understanding Cemetery Symbols, I have little daydreams of people keeping a copy in the glovebox of their car, so it’s handy for spontaneous trips to historic graveyards. I’d really love it if my book inspired people to visit graveyards in their area for the fun of it.

In fact, despite of the rather pointed epitaph I saw in Key West claiming, “If you’re reading this, you desperately need a hobby,” I think exploring cemeteries is a great hobby. For starters, it gets you out into nature and it helps you connect with history. 

You asked earlier if Understanding Cemetery Symbols was part of a series. Yes, it is! The title of the series is Messages from the Dead, because our ancestors left symbols on their headstones as messages to the living. 

So in addition to Understanding Cemetery Symbols, I have created two companion workbooks: Graveyard Journal: A Workbook for Exploring Historic Cemeteries, and Ghost Hunters Journal: A Workbook for Paranormal Investigators

Graveyard Journal is a workbook for keeping track of all the cemeteries you visit. It has room to record the details for up to 50 different burial grounds. 

Ghost Hunters Journal, on the other hand, is a place for paranormal investigators to keep track of the various experiences they have, whether they are in a haunted cemetery or elsewhere.

Even if you don’t use my companion workbooks, it’s a good idea to write down the details of your cemetery visits. Details can get fuzzy over time. You may forget which cemetery has your favorite angel statue, where the key to the graveyard gate is kept, or which farm to market road leads to your favorite country burial ground.

Q: Anything special you'd like to tell folks about this book?

I should let everyone know that I've got some crazy discounts going for a limited time. The paperback version is 1/2 off right now. It's currently only $9.99 (and will soon be $19.99). The ebook version is also deeply discounted, too. Right now, the preorder is only $2.99!

Also, if you or your readers ever share photos online from your own cemetery visits, I invite you to tag them with #TuiSnider #GraveHour and/or @TuiSnider, so that I can enjoy them and respond to you.

T U I  S N I D E R 
Amazon author page: Tui Snider
Website:      TuiSnider.com
Twitter:        @TuiSnider
Facebook:   Tui.Snider

Both of my best selling travel books, Unexpected Texas 
Paranormal Texas, are available on Amazon!

A HUGE thank you to Tui for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions. Remember, you can still pre-order both the ebook and print book versions of "Understanding Cemetery Symbols" at Amazon at discounted prices!

Ciao for now!

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