Five YouTube Vlogs I Watch Regularly

I have to admit, the idea of starting my own vlog has crossed my mind a few times. I could never pick a theme or make any design decisions, though, so here we are (lol). Meanwhile, I do watch a lot of vlogs. I am a woman with a multitude of hobbies–writing, sewing, baking, cooking, low-carbing, crafting, decorating, organizing–I need inspiration for a lot of my things. And, honestly, YouTube makes me happy. Did you see my list of guilty pleasures in here?

Before you click elsewhere, know this–inspiration comes in many forms. Sometimes all a person needs is to know they can do things. Examples: Finishing projects around the house, making a corner in your bedroom more organized and functional, writing a short story you’ve been meaning to get to, decorating a cake perfectly for whatever function, or just cleaning your living room. There are YouTube channels for just about everything out there.

None of these videos are in any particular order. I love them all equally.


1. The first channel I really love is Love Meg.

This woman is a mom, does DIY’s, clean with me videos, a makeup tutorial/health and beauty vlog here and there, and she has a really bright personality. I usually watch her videos when I need something cheerful to get me moving.

2. I also love Keshia J.

Oh, what this woman can do with dollar store stuff! I never miss one of her videos because she’s very down to earth, but also way more together than I am, so she motivates me. She does DIY’s, fitness and health, home decor and home makeover type videos, and loads of other cool stuff.

3. Professor Pincushion!

These videos are about sewing, as you can imagine. A lot of them are quite long and are instructional videos for completing sewing projects that range from quilt tops to baby shoes to full outfits, following a pattern.

4. California Gardening

This channel is another instructional vlog. Gardening videos are what brings me peace when I need it. Calming, soothing, and educational. Also, I like to grow things sometimes, so I learn a lot.

5. T3N31-Film Studio

This is my brother from another mother’s channel. I keep up. And, if you’re horrorly inclined (I’m allowed to make up words, FYI), you might just learn a thing or two in here. Caid is my go-to for FX. He knows EVERYTHING.

I’m subscribed to a lot of YouTube channels. This list certainly isn’t all of them, but it’s certainly the ones I watch the most. If you’re wondering why I’m not subscribed to more writing channels, well…Maybe I should be. I’m subscribed to a few, but I keep it at a minimum because writing isn’t the only thing I like to do and usually if there is a part of the writing or publishing process I don’t understand, I can easily Google or ask a friend.

That being said, I’d love to know if some of you have any channels you love.

 

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10 Things For West Virginia Parents To Do With Their Kids During the Teacher Strike

In case you’ve been living under a rock, West Virginia has been out of school statewide since Thursday due to a teacher strike. I’m not going to explain why the teachers are striking, but it made the national news and I’m just going to share some links for you instead.

FOX NEWS

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HUFFINGTON POST

WASHINGTON POST

So, if you’re in West Virginia and you have a houseful of antsy kids, I’ve given some thought to what you can do with your kids to have some fun and pass the time. My kids have been driving each other (and me) crazy with boredom and I don’t blame them. There has been some rain and mud issues, so going outside is a touch and go thing.

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Chocolate is a very, very important part of a writer’s life.

  1. But, you can always bake some Chocolate Sugar Cookies! My kids love these. We haven’t made them in ages and I think I might do this tomorrow. We sort of made this recipe up ourselves and it never fails to keep everybody happy for at least ten minutes. Or until the milk jug goes empty.
  2. Read some books. I don’t have any suggestions because it would take me all day to hunt down age appropriate material for K-12, but if you have an Amazon Prime account, sometimes there are some killer Kindle freebies available for download immediately. If not, there is always the public library or your own bookshelves.
  3. Plan the week’s breakfast/lunch/dinner menus. This is something I generally do by myself, but this week I had my son help me out. It wasn’t the most exciting of tasks, but I think he enjoyed being able to help. He learned how I budget for the week and how I plan every thing out down to the last ingredient to make sure everything is there. Preparedness–it’s a great life lesson.
  4. While the weather holds, you can go outside and check out the flowers because Easter Lilies are starting to pop up everywhere. As a matter of fact, there are other signs of spring popping up everywhere, too. Maybe even do some flower photography. If you have a printer, print them out and frame them. The Dollar Tree has some nice frames you can use as the base for an art project. Buttons and do-dads can be glued on for extra decoration.
  5. Do you have HBO? DVD’s? Have a Harry Potter marathon. Pop some popcorn, too. Make a rainy day of it.
  6. Enlist the help of your own tiny little army to start spring cleaning a little early. Maybe not the best to start big projects, but you can always have them help you go through toys, clothes, and match containers to lids. You can make a game of it.
  7. Make (ahead) some Easter cards to send to relatives. At our house, we have an art box full of crayons, markers, colored pencils, paper, etc… I like to use every excuse I can to make the kids drag it out (ha!).
  8. Arrange a play date or two. With everyone being home, I’m sure other parents would be more than happy to make this work out. After all, a kid with a friend is a lot more likely to stop telling you how bored they are than a kid sitting at home alone. And, if you’re feeling really brave and don’t have to go to work, you can even have an impromptu slumber party.
  9. Catch up on some problem areas with schoolwork. If there’s a subject your kid needs extra help with, why not go ahead and try to carve out thirty minutes to an hour and figure out how to work through it?
  10. This last one is probably more for the parents. Go to our Governor’s Twitter profile and check out some of the things he has to say.

    BONUS– Reach out to teachers and ask what you can do to help them out. Or, maybe just let them know they have your support.

 

Low Carb Eating– A Beginner’s Shopping Guide

I promise you folks eating low or lower carb is a lot easier than you might think, but I understand why people shy away from the idea. Learning a new way to eat is overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Most of us just overthink things. To simplify your life a smidge, here is a good starting off list of things you might like to pick up at the grocery store to give you the push you might need and help you get an idea of what you can have. And, you can have more than you might think.

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Zuchini noodles, marinara, shredded cheese, pepperoni. YUM. 

PRODUCE:
Lettuce
Tomatoes
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Brocolli
Zuchini/Squashes (Our local store now has pre-packaged zuchini noodles, which are worth their weight in gold.)

DAIRY:
Almond milk, unsweetened
Heavy whipping cream
Block, shredded, or sliced cheeses of your choice
Cream Cheese
Eggs (Lots and lots of eggs)
Sour Cream (or light sour cream, if you wish)
butter (or light butter, which is what I prefer)

MEATS/FROZEN FOODS:
Chicken (breasts are versatile, but you can buy any bone-in cut you like, too)
Bacon or turkey bacon (I eat turkey bacon more than regular, but I’m probably the only one lol)
Sausage or turkey sausage
Steaks, ground beef, and any other chops or cuts of anything you like.
Frozen berries
Frozen brocolli or other low carb veggies (Spinach is awesome to have on hand)
Frozen riced cauliflower

**Watch out for special sausages (like polish sausages and hot dog weenies) because they tend to be high in calories and sodium, so if you’re watching those things, too, be mindful when meal planning and shopping.**

CANNED/PANTRY ITEMS:
Taco sauce/salsa
Canned chicken
Adkins Protein Shakes (if you don’t get enough protein in your diet…like me…these are great as an end of the day treat).
Peanut butter or other nut butters
Nuts (just watch for special flavors, plain or salted is best)
Stevia or other sugar substitutes (Stevia is my favorite)
Sugar free jello and pudding mixes
Powerade Zero, any flavors you like. Red is my go to.
Almond and/or coconut flours (these are expensive, so I don’t use them often, but I added them because a lot of Keto/low-carb eaters do)
Sugar Free candies, jams, and jellies (READ the labels.Not all of them are low-carb friendly, but most are)
Bottled waters

EASY MEAL IDEAS:
1. Taco salad, minus the chips! You can have just about anything you might put in a taco salad and it’s one of my favorite things.
2. Baked egg cups — Cut up a few bell peppers (any color, but a minimum amount because they’re carby lol), some mushrooms, some spinach (fresh or frozen) and even, if you like, cooked ground sausage or chopped bacon. Toss it into a bowl with about 8 large, whisked eggs. Stir together and pour into greased cupcake tins. It’ll make about a dozen. Bake on 350 until done. If you like, you can add a little bit of shredded cheddar to the top. These are about 80-90 calories and carbs depend on what you put in them, but usually no more than 1 or 2 net carbs (usually less).
3. Zuchini noodles with basically anything. Toss some olive oil in a frying pan and heat on medium. Toss in a handful of (optional) onions if you don’t mind a few extra carbs and honestly a few tiny bits of onion won’t hurt, but add a lot of flavor. Cook the onions until they’re translucent. Add zuchini noodles and whirl them around a bit while they cook. From here, you can add in your favorite homemade or store bought spaghetti sauce or alfredo sauce.
4. OR, you can make a stir fry instead (in which you would use a wok or high sided pan and cook the noodles with the other veggies in the stir fry, using the zoodles in place of noodles. For a stir fry, you could also make fried rice with riced cauliflower. It’s seriously good.

EASY SNACKS:
1. Strawberries and whipped cream (I make my own and use stevia instead of sugar).
2. 1/4 cup of nuts
3. An ounce of cheese
4. Brocolli/Cauliflower and 2 tbsp. ranch dressing for dipping.
5. Lunch meat roll ups — Any sandwhich meat you like, spread a thin layer of cream cheese on top, place a sliver of a pickel in the middle. Roll up, eat. Delicious.

 

Everything Sucks – Yes, it’s fantastic.

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For the past few days, I’ve been watching Everything Sucks on Netflix. Let me start by just telling you that I was not ready for the multitude of trips down memory lane I’d take by the time I made it to the last episode. Seriously, I should have packed a suitcase and a hatbox. It was bananas how great it was to see kids on a television show from my day. I do believe it’s my new favorite thing.

Let’s just remember that when I was a kid, I wasn’t nailed down to one place. We moved often (every few years, really) and I hated to make friends knowing it was completely possible I’d only be their friend a short handful of months. Realistically, I knew it was a good idea to keep a few pals around because loneliness isn’t my thing. So, I made a few friends here and there. And a lot of them are still my friends, or at least acquantances, thanks to the beauty of social media. Reconnecting is a beautiful thing.

But, being somewhat of a loner–maybe or maybe not by choice–I connect strongly to nostalgic movies and television shows. Stranger Things gave was a whisper into my early memories (I was born the year the first season of Stranger Things began, 1983), but Everything Sucks was a scream and a fist pump.

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Didn’t we all have a thing for Leo back then? And…maybe some of us still do. No judgement here.

I didn’t realize how much I miss having a corded telephone on my nightstand. Sounds silly, but I do miss it. And I also didn’t realize how much I (sort of) miss having to actually talk to people on the phone, rather than type things to them. Obviously, I miss other things from my childhood, too. The flannel shirts and ripped jeans (no, the flannels and ripped jeans of today are NOT the same), the soundtrack of Romeo and Juliet, and hanging posters from Teen Beat and Hit Parader on the wall come to mind.

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FYI–there were parents who wouldn’t let their kids hang out with me because I listened to Marilyn Manson and wore black and green nail polish. I was THAT weirdo. And today their grandkids eat Tide Pods…

Watching Everything Sucks has made me realize that maybe my childhood wasn’t as odd as I thought while it was actually happening to me. Sure, there were some things that maybe other kids might not have ever had to deal with, but I guess that just makes me an original product. The world hasn’t changed much in twenty or so years, but at the same time, it’s a different world altogether.

A typical Saturday night for me when I was my son’s age was spent writing and drawing in my bedroom. I would lay on my bed with my legs stretched up the wall, ankles crossed, and stare at the ceiling while curling the phone cord around my finger. Chatting away with friends for hours on end was time well spent as far as I’d been concerned. And, obviously it payed off because I cultivated a lot of lifelong friendships at that age.

A night out was different (I think) than what a night out for my kids now is. For one, I lived in a larger area until my first year of high school. So, going out really meant going somewhere, not hanging out in a Dairy Queen parking lot or cruising Wal-Mart or the mall. We did those things, too, but not all the time. We hit clubs, we danced on tables (I’ll tell that tale one day, just not today), we got down and herbal with our bad selves, and we spent entire nights watching the same VHS tape over and over (which took patience because you have to rewind those).

It makes me somewhat sad knowing my kids will never hang out like we did. They won’t live life the way we did. With the popularity of cellphones, everything has changed. I love my phone, too, so I’m not here to tell people to get off my lawn or anything, but the game has changed, and with it, the people too. And the ball, the court, the spectators…nothing is the same.

My kids think I’m probably the lamest mom ever. I don’t think they realize their kids will say the same thing about them one day. But, what my kids don’t realize is that I saw The Foo Fighters during their first tour ever. I was on MTV once (the back of my head was lol), and I used to take great joy in matching my nail polish to my shoes. I wasn’t one of the first, but I was one of the last teenaged girls to paint my nails green knowing I’d carry hell all day at school because that was weird. It wasn’t a popular thing. I wasn’t the first, but I was one of the last to wear a homemade dog collar choker because those weren’t sold in stores (except for actual dogs) at that time, either. Myself and others like me sort of paved the way for today. Just as there were others before my generation, too.

Sidenote–a good friend once said that you can tell what will be popular fashion in fifteen years by looking at what the goths and oddballs are wearing now. Because in fifteen years, it’ll be all the rave with the mainstream kids.

Everything Sucks is pure genius. I really don’t know what else there is to say to try and convince others of my generation to give it a watch. I just wonder if this was what it was like for my folks to watch The Wonder Years. Because, if so, I should apologize for picking on them.

Five Guilty Pleasures

When compared to other people, I’m not a horribly busy person, save for school days and weekends (ha!), but like anyone else, there are things that just make my silly heart happy. Some trendy, some not. Mostly not.

I absolutely love keeping up with Youtube channels I’m subscribed to.

My subscriptions have a wide range, too. I follow a few beauty vloggers, a few mom-based DIY channels, some home decor inspiration channels, and a few channels that made it big with “clean with me” videos. Yes, that’s totally a thing. And, though it sounds downright ridiculous, sometimes you learn things and sometimes it makes great background noise when the house is quiet and I have a job to do. I’ve always been one to stay busier if I know someone else is busy, too and those videos give the great illusion that you’re not alone in the tasks of a tired homemaker.I also follow a lot of crafting/sewing and gardening channels. Those are the ones I typically watch while I have my morning coffee. Or my third morning coffee. Whatever.

When I am alone, I like to browse Amazon for no reason at all and look at all the things I may or may not buy one day. I don’t think I’m the only person who does this. I try to check out the Daily Deals and look at different lists of collections. It may be weird, but nothing makes me smile more than looking at funny coffee mugs on Amazon.

Recently, I have discovered Grove Collaborative, a website which specializes in cleaning products. I’m a lazy person–I’d rather order than go to the store and buy. The cool thing is, there is typically some kind of a discount or a big list of freebies they send you when you make your first order. I got a ton of free stuff for spending only $20. I’ve received my first shipment and am surprisingly delighted at the array of products. Prices–mostly–are comparable to big name brands you can get at Wal-Mart or dollar stores. There is usually a sale or discount being offered on their website, too. I already have a few favorites that I plan on reordering. One, Mrs. Meyers Dish Soap in lavender. It’s really nice. Two, Method all-purpose cleaner in honeycrisp apple. It’s probably my absolute favorite thing ever. And, three, Method Glass + Surface cleaner in mint. It seriously smells like mint. *Disclaimer* I am not affiliated with Grove Collaborative, nor do they compensate me for this post. A lot of bloggers out there DO receive products from them for review, but I review books, not cleaning supplies. Though, one day I just might…

Weigh-in days have become my favorite days… For those who follow my blog or Facebook account, you will know I’ve been on a weight loss journey since June. I have lost over fifty pounds already, though I did take a diet break from Halloween through Christmas. I’m at it again and I’m loving my results. I have become half-mom, half-scientist because I now read a lot of health and fitness articles whereas I used to just not (ha ha). Weigh-in days have become much needed confidence booster days. I am enjoying my success to the fullest and I think I probably really deserve it. I’ve worked hard to come this far and failure is simply not an option.

Ibotta and Retail Me Not. Those are apps I keep on my phone. I just got Retail Me Not, so I’m not sure if I’ll continue to enjoy the coupons and discounts it finds for me, but as of right now I love it. And, as for Ibotta, who doesn’t like a rebate on things they’ve already purchased? Both of these apps save me money on just about everything. Both are easy to install, easy to navigate, and I like money–I’d like to keep as much of mine in the bank as I possibly can. After all, I have kids to raise and a family to feed. And cats. Those little buggers are expensive, too.

Obviously, reading is another guilty pleasure, but I didn’t list it because I feel like you probably already know that about me. I’m reading something awesome right now, as we speak. Review to come tomorrow! Until then, tell me what your own guilty pleasures are? I could have seriously listed ten more, but I probably would have lost you all after six or seven.

A Writer Not Writing…

One of the hardest thing any writer could ever go through is not writing. I mean it. It’s ridiculous how sometimes words flow easily and sometimes they just sort of putter out, the flames of creativity are extinguished and the writer is left in an endless cycle of house chores and filling coffee cups. But, I think we all go through it.

A lot of writers and well known authors have said that when the block hits, you just have to keep going. Sit down. Type words. Guzzle the bean fuel. Repeat.

There is a lot of truth in that. Still, for the last two years, I haven’t written anything substantial of my own. No new books. No new short stories. Few blog posts of meaning, aside from reviews (which, in total honesty, I totally enjoy because my first love is reading). It feels like my brain has turned to mush and every time I sit down with characters bouncing around in my head (sounds painful, eh?) they just fizzle before I can make anything that makes sense.

I feel that one day I might actually write a book again. I might regain what I’ve lost. I might be able to work through the storm brewing in my head and turn it into a story. I feel like I’m close to meeting that goal. After all, I’m still writing things, just not stories. No new worlds to explore and no new characters to torture.

It makes me wonder what other writers do when they lose someone who took a piece of their heart with them when they left? Up until two years ago, I thought personal losses and heartbreaks were supposed to send writers into a writing frenzy as they drown their sorrows in a bottle of absinthe and bang out hundreds of thousands of words on their vintage type writers, which their agents will immediately declare a masterpiece. I don’t even have an agent. Nor do I have a bottle of absinthe. And, I haven’t owned a typewriter in many a dark moon.

Through the journey of deep loss, I have gained something. I have learned to see the beauty in things I used to take for granted, like the turning of seasons. Sometimes it hurts to know that I’m watching the leaves turn or the snow fall, but my daughter can’t. But, most of the time, the biggest part of me knows she would enjoy it and, more than that, she would want those of us she left shattered to enjoy it, too.

I’m going to make a promise to myself this year that I will at least begin a new novel. I miss magical realism and the thoughts I shift through while writing. I wrote an entire novel in three weeks once. I really want to bring that young, somewhat talented writer back. She is missed.

In the meantime, I have a whole slew of books to get reviews out for. I’m behind. The holidays really kicked my butt and I don’t like being behind. I hope my readers are of a forgiving mind. I’ve read some really great books to share with you lot and I have a few in queue that I believe are going to be hits with the hard case crime crowds.

Stay tuned. Stay warm. Look forward to watching the seasons change again. pexels-photo-573566.jpeg

Someone To Wed (A Westcott Novel) by Mary Balogh

5136KRDuxTLThis Regency romance released on November 7, 2017. I received an ARC copy and have been mulling over the review for two weeks. I love Mary Balogh. 

Also, I loved this book. Full recommendation, five stars, all that jazz. When I write reviews, I sometimes comment on writing style, but I won’t for authors whose books I pick up without even reading the back cover blurb because it’s a non-issue. No complaints, only the highest of praise for Mary Balogh because she sets the romance bar higher than most.

I found that I could relate to the characters on a personal level, which is always such a hard thing to find in books. The romance was front and center, love scenes tasteful and unpredictable, and the story believable–even if it takes place before my grandparents were even born. Regency is actually not my favorite time period, but in this book it really doesn’t matter.

I don’t even know what else to say about the story. It’s superb. If I had a microphone, I’d give it to Mary Balogh so she could drop it.

To my blog readers, please note that I will always pick up titles by this author when they come into my view. I will always review them here when I have the opportunity, whether I’m given an ARC (as was the case with this particular title) or I run to the store to buy a copy myself. If you have a favorite title by this author, please do share!

If you’d like to read your own copy, head over to Amazon before Christmas shipping times get ridiculous! 😀 Of course, with a Kindle copy I suppose you can get around that.

Kindle $7.99 
Paperback $10.42