My New TAG Water Bottle (a review)

First of all, have you ever seen a cuter water bottle?

I picked up this 25 oz. bottle last week, less because of the claims to keep cold/hot for 12-24 hours and more because I adore the print.

But it’s not perfect, there’s a 1/2-1/3 inch section that is just plain white and there’s a piece next to it up by the neck that looks like the printing got folded, if I’d noticed it at the store I would have picked a different one, but the fact that I didn’t notice it until I’d used it a few days probably means other people likely won’t notice it either.

And it has to be hand washed so for the now the plan is for plain water only because that opening is tiny and I don’t want to be rinsing soap out of it for days (with just plain water I am comfortable using HOT-hot water and just the tiniest amount of soap to clean it).

The TAG tag says it’ll keep cold things cold for 24 hours and hot things hot for 12 hours.
I tried it with cold water out of my fridge (no ice), and while it’s not quite room temp 24 hours later, it’s close. BUT, it does keep water cold-cold for better than 12 hours without sweating, so that’s great.

I’ve been using it all day, and keeping it by my bed overnight. And so far I’m drinking more plain water and less sugar laden teas & juices. So, that’s great, too.

And it’s not cheap, but it feels light but solid in the hand. I’ve considered the S’well bottles in the past, but geez $50 for a water bottle is nuts.
The TAG bottle ($30) feels as nice in my hand as the S’well bottle so why would I pay so much more?

If I continue to like it this much I think I will get a second, smaller one to keep by my bed so I can wash it at the end of the day and let it air/dry out overnight. We’ll see.



Getting through the flu season

This is how I’m getting through this winter, instead of an emergen-C everyday.
Hot water with a whole lemon squeezed in, about a 1/2 Tbsp of grated ginger (or ginger paste) and raw local honey.
1 cup of this every morning.

And when I’m feeling a little funky I drink a second one in the afternoon.
I’ll also gargle of warm salt water a couple times/day as well until I’m feeling better.

And so far it’s working, I’ve had a few days of my throat being annoyingly sore and a small bit of cough and I swear this is the reason the illness has not been able to take hold.
Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t “cure” the flu, it simply makes my throat inhospitable to the virus.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, registered dietitian, or fitness expert.
These are my experiences and when it comes to your & your family’s health, nutrition and fitness, I highly recommend every individual to do your research.

A Week In Pictures (Week 7)


Monday February 12 – I didn’t get as long on these orchid blooms as I thought I would

Tuesday February 13 – Here comes the sun! It seems like it’s been ages since the sun has been out around here

Wednesday February 14 – I love these eye treatments, I use them up more than just under my eyes though. I’ll do the under eye area, then I’ll lay down for a bit and put them on my upper lids. But I’m not done there, after that I put them on my forehead or cheeks, which ever is drier at that time. I realized today that they’re probably really bad for the environment though. I’ll have to research that before I buy more (please let them be okay)

Thursday February 15 – My mom’s favorite flower was orchids, she even had them as her wedding flower. So on the anniversary of her passing I picked up a small (it’s maybe 6 inches tall!) orchid. Also, I’ve never seen a variegated orchid in any of the stores around here

Friday February 16 – New. Plant. Babies. I finally found the right sized fiddle leaf fig for my life. I would love to have a large one, but I don’t have any large, tree sized, plants in the house and I’m afraid my cat would try to climb it. So the plan is to acclimate the cat to this one and then eventually let it grow into a tree sized floor plant

Bonus – I also got a new jade plant. I lost a lovely jade plant due to over watering in the past so I was hesitant to get one, but I took the chance on a small succulent a month ago which is thriving so I decided to try the jade again. They’re just so gorgeous

Saturday February 17 & Bonus – Full spectrum lighting is good for both me and my plant babies (don’t ask what was playing on the TV, I had fallen asleep on the sofa and woke up to some old TV show playing on YouTube)

Sunday February 18 – *coming soon*


As always, please check out my Instagram for more photos from my week.


This Sucks

It sucks when good news for your friend automatically means bad news for yourself. Or my friend’s good news means I get to be more stressed out and frustrated – my friend & good co-worker, PLC, was offered a new job at a new company. And she’s taking it.

That leaves me and bad co-worker, BC, to do the job of 4 people. And when we were fully staffed we were talking about needing a 5th person.

And I can’t count on bad co-worker to do much. She’s not even doing a good job at what she’s asked to handle now.

It sucks because I WANT to be happy for PLC, and part of me is happy for her – it’s just a really, really small part of me.
She has wanted to work at this other job for a long time, and really was doing this job because the other job wasn’t an option. It’s a smart move for her and for her family, she’ll be happier at this other company. She’ll be doing good for the world.

The problem is that much larger part of me just says this sucks so bad, she is/was my saving grace when I’d be losing it over some screw up of BC. She’d make me laugh and break the stress spiral.

And I know PLC feels bad leaving me in this situation, so I am trying to only be positive with her about her new job, without making her feel insignificant.

Right now it’s a bit of a farce, because for me this sucks. It just sucks. There is no bright side. This sucks.

Dear Mom (anniversary)

Hi, I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written.
But that’s a good sign, from what I understand. I’m told to take it as a sign that I’m recovering from the tremendous hole I fell into when you died. And I’m also told that I will always feel your loss deeply, the intensity of the pain will lessen, but never really disappear – so far I can attest to the truth of this.

And today’s the anniversary of your death.
It’s been one year since you died on that couch just minutes after I mentioned to Dad that you would not want to die the next day on the boy’s birthday so we would need to talk to the nurse about short term life support. I think you knew you didn’t have the strength left to live for two more days, so you chose to go that day when you had Dad and I at your side. It happened so fast that the Hospice aide thought you’d be with us for a lot longer and told me to wait on calling my brothers and sister.

At 10:32 you died, which I tend to wonder if you planned it? You knew that I like when the clock reads certain times, and 10:32 was one of those times.
I chose to believe that you chose that time as a sign to me that you were truly ready to go.

Many of the last 365 days have been horrible.
Many of them were days that I prayed to die.
Days that I considered ways to make that happen.
Days I wondered if I’d get to feel your hand on my back as you hug me again if I successfully ended my life.
Days when I researched how to write a will so I could be sure that my things would get to the people who would get the most use/joy out of them.

And I really regretted the promises I made to you in your last few minutes.

Then there were the days that I was so angry at the world that I prodded people to find a way to fight with someone so I could get these feelings out of my body.
I think those days were the most painful.
They were the days when I felt most alone in this world.
And I made unhealthy choices to deal with that pain because I didn’t care to keep living so I didn’t care if I was hurting my health.

I drank too much. I took old prescriptions to feel better, and took them too often to numb the world. I didn’t shower, or brush my hair, which has resulted in a sizable bald spot on the back of my head. I worked all day, drank and laid in bed all night.

I moved all my things back to town, but left all my things in boxes so they could be easily moved by whomever handled my things “after”.

I kept your painkillers and looked at them daily knowing that I could just take them all and be done.

But I did make one good decision. I asked for help, and then accepted the help I was given. I started back on antidepressants. I also started on a sleep med, which worked. And I don’t drink much anymore, and rarely take my Xanax.
Your pain killers are still in the house, but more because I forgot they’re there until I sat down to write you this letter.
I will need to find a place where I can safely dispose of them.

I’ve been able to begin being creative again, I’m shooting daily and embroidering. And I’m thinking of picking up painting a little bit to make my embroidery more unique/intriguing.

I still haven’t overcome enough of the depression that I can sit and read a book, but I’m hopeful that I’ll get back there again. Soon.

And I leave the house to do more than grocery shop & check in on Dad. Working from home has been helpful in that because I’m no longer exhausted because of the constant people around me all day – a downfall of being a true introvert.

I cook, not just reheat.

I’ve unpacked a fair amount of my things, and I think I’m ready to start going through the piles of crap I packed that should have been tossed/donated before moving.

I’ve collected a large amount of plants, and am looking to collect even more. Having that life around me everyday is helpful, and the improvement in the air quality in this condo full of man-made materials is palpable (I miss those natural hardwood floors in the old house).

And I think you’re aware that I miss you every single day. I still have those moments when I think about talking to you about something, and then I realize you’re not here to experience these things with me anymore.

But, I believe you’re here. I don’t know the how’s and why’s and in what form, but I believe you’re here with me.
If I’m wrong about that I’ll be sad, but okay.

And those promises? They’re getting easier to keep, most of the time.

I love you and miss you, and I look forward to the day I’m with you again…but I’m not in a rush.


Sharing Is Caring (an evolution in progress)

So, in the evolution of my “Sharing is Caring” posts I am going to try a couple weeks of having categories.

For the next 4 weeks I’m going to go with the categories of: something to watch, something to listen to, something to read, something to eat, something random.

Let me know what you think of the idea as a whole, the categories, the number of items, suggestions…


Week in Pictures (Week 6)

I’m so scatterbrained today. Most Sunday’s I’m up by 6 (that’s sleeping in for me still), photos week in pictures pics edited by 8 and blog posts started, maybe finished even, and blog week planned by noon. This week (Sunday February 4) it’s 1:11pm and I haven’t even finished editing the photos from last week. Sigh.

But, while they’re loading, I decided to change the way I do the week’s posting. I used to just shoot all week then on Sunday morning I reflect back on what I shot while I’m editing. And sometimes I know I was thinking something specific when I shoot but can’t remember it when I’m writing the post. So, this week I am going to write daily while I shoot so I can remember the pithy things I’m thinking when I shoot, and we’ll see if that works better for me.

Monday February 5 – For cheap drug store chocolate these Russell Stover’s Strawberry Hearts are really quite pretty

Tuesday February 6 – “You will always be surrounded by happiness” This fortune is my biggest sign of depression worsening right now. I imagine you’re thinking “Why? It seems positive.” Well, that’s the thing, IT’s positive, but when I read it I hear myself thinking yeah, everyone around me is happy and I’m just sitting here wondering why I don’t get to be happy, and now this stupid cookie is telling me that I’m never going to feel it myself.

Wednesday February 7 – Eggs and burnt toast with too much butter for brunch while working. Life.

Thursday February 8 – I just love this plant so much that I took photos of the same leaf twice this week. Luckily I had also taken a second postable pic on Tuesday – and that one really had more meaning to my life

Bonus – Tuesday’s shot of the same plant

Friday February 9 – So, I finally potted this Vanilla Orchid. Fingers crossed he’s not beyond saving because he’s lost a few leaves and seems more wilted than when he arrived.

Saturday February 10 – Microwaved cheese sandwich. Sounds bad. Looks boring (why so much beige food in my life?), but it’s a favorite from childhood. And it was a favorite of Mom’s, so it’s comforting right now

Sunday February 11 – I’ve played and achieved a perfect game every day for over 400 days straight. And I think I’d previously had a stretch of 370-something days before this current stretch. But, also it’s called Levels and it struck me this morning that there are just so many levels to my emotional state these days

As always, please check out my Instagram for more photos from my week.

Next week’s post may be short a day, but it will be in the following week’s posting. I normally edit & put together this posting right after taking Sunday’s picture. Next week I have a family commitment on Sunday morning/afternoon so I won’t have time to edit/post so I’m going to have to do it on Saturday.

Hearting it up (a lesson in persistence)

I was trying to do an embroidered wreath for the front door for valentines day – but it wasn’t working out.

I kept changing my mind on what I wanted, I’d think something was cute one day and too cutesy the next. And the ideas I really like could be used for wreaths that will hang for more than 2 weeks so I didn’t want to “waste” the idea on valentines day or risk the neighbors thinking I was reusing ideas since one of the points of making my own door hangings is to share my creativity with my neighbors.

So…I decided to change direction for this month’s wreath and went with a pom pom wreath, I was considering doing one for next winter anyway, so I thought I’d try one now then I can perfect my process for next winter’s wreath. Yes, I know this sounds like a contradiction of the previous mention of reusing ideas, but the shape will be different only the pom pom part will be a repeat.

Since I’m going to be doing this more than once, and I have other ideas that will use pom poms, I decided to purchase a pom pom maker, but you don’t have to buy one to make pom poms, search youtube and you’ll find ways to make them using cardboard, used toilet paper tubes, a hair pick, a fork, or even just using your fingers.

I also had planned on doing pink, red and white, but when I went to the yarn aisle I couldn’t find a red that I didn’t hate with the pink – they were all a little bit on the orangey side of red and what I was looking for was more of a blue undertoned red. So, I went with a deep pink, a baby girl pink and white instead.

It was after I got home from picking up the supplies that I saw my inspiration photo has a little bit of very light silvery lavender in it, which I didn’t pick up. I really want to get this wreath done & hung though, and don’t have the time to go back to the craft store today so I am going to get started with the yarn I have and see if I can live without the lavender this year. I’m afraid once I get the pom poms made I’ll feel like it’s missing a tone, if so, well, I do have some charcoal grey yarn in the house for another project I’m stalled on, so I guess I could borrow some of that and mix it with the white to tone the darkness down a bit. We’ll see.

Here’s the how-to that I started with:

I bent my hanger a little different, and tucked the hook down behind the pom poms so it couldn’t be seen, that way I didn’t have to paint it, and it isn’t so obviously a wire clothes hanger. In the end this may have been a problem because I could not get the shape to be flat, no matter how I bent it the sides bowed up. And I bent it so many times that the hook part of the hanger actually came loose.

I also used a smaller pom pom maker, mainly because there is an unusually small space between my front door and the storm door so I was afraid the larger sized ones would look squished when the wreath is hung.

So, in the end I am not loving the wreath, but I powered through my frustration and finished it. It’s okay, not great, if anyone takes a close look at it I’ll be embarrassed, but most people come in through my garage so hopefully no one will be too close to it.

  • I feel like the dark pink should have been more prominent, with just a bit of white and either the silvery lavender or light gray would have been more modern looking.
    I was not happy with the light pink at all. I feel like it gives it a cheap/old fashioned look. Because I think I want to redo the idea for next year I didn’t trim the tails like I would if I were going to keep the same frame. I want to be able to reuse some of these pom poms.
  • I was not happy with the bowed look of the sides of the heart. I will be on the lookout for a heart shaped frame, either an official heart shaped wreath or even some other material that will be more substantial than the clothes hanger
  • I taped the tails to “hide” them, and to try to keep them to the back of the wreath (the individual pom poms kept spinning half to the front, half to the back). If you’re close to the wreath and looking at it you can still see a couple of them, but from far away it’s cute. I just hope no one comes to my front door until after Valentines Day

Anyway, here’s some more photos of my first try. The next wreath will be better – I hope!

I wanted to throw the damned thing away at this point. I hung it on the back of my door and ignored it for 24 hours.

It’s a little better with the tails taped, at least they’re mostly all facing forward now.

And it’s hung, for better or worse.

Dear 16 year old Me

Hey M –

I’m going to start with a face that’s not uplifting, but stick with me, it gets better

Life does not go the way you think it will.
And that’s okay, it’s still a good life; remember – a few bumps in the road do not make the road bad.

I don’t want to tell you the specifics, because it’s your life to live and experience, but I do have some things that I would do differently if I were given the chance.

So, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Your mom is cooler & smarter than you think. Yes, she has her issues and sometimes those spill over onto you, but try to be compassionate about that more than judging her as good or bad, smart or “dumb”, right or wrong. It may seem like you’d be doing her a favor by doing that, but really you’d be doing yourself a favor.

2. You won’t believe how the world changes in the next few years. Mostly this will be good, but you’ll miss some of the simpler things that are available to you now. Enjoy the simple things while they’re still around.

3. You are a teenager – act like it, let your ethics be just a little bit less important for the next few years.

A. He’s on a break with his girlfriend, it’s not your responsibility to forfeit your own feelings to protect his relationship.
B. Working all the time so you can spend money is not going to be something you will be proud of, and it’s a pretty boring story to tell in the future, so live a little more (but still be smart about it – don’t drive under the influence or get pregnant).

4. Take those opportunities you’re being offered. You’re lucky to have all these options, a lot of people won’t get any of them, let alone all of them. So, be open to doing the things that you’re not comfortable with doing now. Go to Germany to work for a summer. Go on that Outward Bound trip. Yes, you’ll lose that summer at the lake, but you might just find you gain so much more.

5. Be less cautious. That caution will turn to fear soon if you let it. If you’re a little less cautious now you may be able to keep the anxiety from taking over your life later.

Most of all, what I mean by all of these suggestions, is to stay connected to this girl, she’s living a good life and has the whole world at her hands if she only chooses to take a few chances she may be worried about taking.


I recommend (Podcasts & YouTube)

I’ve posted quite a few TV reviews lately, so I thought I’d go to another couple forms of entertainment for this weeks suggestions. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do, let me know in the comments.

  1. YouTube channel Kara & Nate. This is a young married couple who are traveling the world. They’re real, genuine and seem naturally upbeat. They most are experiencing adventures on a budget but share some hacks for getting upgrades and splurges. I’ve watched the first 165 of their videos (there’s currently over 470!) in the last week and have not tired of them yet – their is just so much wonder and enjoyment of the world that when they have a rough day it doesn’t get heavy or downer feeling.
    If you like travel documentary type of shows I’d recommend starting from the beginning
  2. Podcast Nerdette. “Interviews with your favorite authors, artists, astronauts and more. Because everybody is a little nerdy about something. From WBEZ.”
    If you don’t fit the typical Yoga type, but have been thinking of trying it I suggest this episode (also, I just now found out the guest has a YouTube channel)
    If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan I’d suggest listening to this episode
  3. Podcast West Wing Weekly. I love The West Wing tv show. I own the box set, I have it at the top of my Netflix queue and I “watch” the show from top to bottom multiple times a year. It’s my favorite thing to put on when I can’t sleep at night  because I know it so well that if I start to get sleepy I can just let it run on and not worry about where the story was when I fall asleep. Anyway, this podcast is an episode by episode review of the show by one of the actors, Josh Malina, and a West Wing Fanatic, Hrishikesh Hirway. They discuss the good & bad points of the episode and tie it in to current events with a guest each week, often a political figure or one of the stars of the show.
    If you liked the TV show then I recommend listening from the beginning
  4. YouTube channel Pixiwoo. Two sisters from Great Britain who are make up artists, teachers and entrepreneurs. They are approachable (they actually answer twitter questions) and genuine. They’ve shared some of their hard times and their episodes on makeup are really enjoyable. I hardly every wear makeup, but I love watching their channel.
    If you are intrigued then I recommend starting here
  5. YouTube channel Andy Rawls. A woodworking channel. Like the Pixiwoo channel above, I don’t need to know how to woodwork, but I love watching this channel. It’s so relaxing and filmed in a way that I feel like I could just sit in his workroom (workbarn?) and meditate while he works away.
    I suggest starting with this video if you’re interested