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Unboxing the We R Makers Thermal Cinch Book Binding Machine with Extras – Does the finished product lay-flat?

I purchased the We R Makers Thermal Cinch Book Binding Machine with Extras on HSN. Before I purchased, I asked We R Makers if the finished items would lay-flat. They told me that the finished product was not meant to be totally flat, and to consider it like a paperback book. I couldn’t find where they responded to me, but I did see that someone else asked the same question. Here is a snapshot of the answer:

The video below is the unboxing of my Thermal Cinch. The machine does use consumables, such as spines and glue strips. You can create your own spines and purchase the glue strips from We R Makers or purchase them online. Below are links to glue strips online. I haven’t used them myself, but these links should help with search terms and to familiarize yourself with what you would seek should you want to purchase glue strips online.

Items to check out on Amazon (affiliate links):

https://amzn.to/3ujdGhI
and you can even purchase presentation covers that make things a little easier or professional, depending on your use:
https://amzn.to/49lTRVQ

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The Time I Cut My Hair To My Shoulders

“How much are we talking about, Jeannie? Are you thinking a trim or something drastic?”

“I don’t know. I just know I need a haircut. Will you take me?” I asked.

“Depends. I love your hair. I want to know how much you are getting cut off. Has something happened? You aren’t opening letters from your boyfriend, and now you want your hair cut. This feels like the time my sister cut her hair off when she went through a painful breakup. I don’t want to take you to get all your hair chopped off,” Joe said.

“I’m not cutting it all off. I just need to cut it. I’ll decide when I get there. Will you take me or not?”

My friend Joe begrudgingly said he’d take me to the salon. He pleaded with me not to go too short.

I really didn’t have a length in mind when I asked him to take me to the hair salon. I woke up that morning and decided that I needed a change. A big one for me. I’d never cut my hair beyond a trim, and my current length was well past my waist. At the time, I’d never heard of the concept that women cut their hair when they experience great change or a traumatic event. No one in my family had ever cut their hair for that reason, and I wasn’t aware of it as a normal act. It was just a strong feeling that compelled me to ask Joe if he would kindly take me. I didn’t have a car, so I either had to take public transportation to the mall or walk to my destinations.

The afternoon of the appointment, Joe arrived with additional warnings of how short he felt I should cut my hair. The entire car ride he bemoaned my decision and tried to convince me that this was a bad idea. I told him all would be fine.

The hair stylist patted the seat and began combing through my hair with her fingers. She complimented the health of my hair and admired the color. She smiled at me in the mirror, asking me what I wanted to do with it.

Joe, who who was sitting a few feet away, announced that I wanted to cut it off.

She laughed and said I surely wasn’t doing that. She asked me again if I’d just like a trim.

“No. I think I want something else. Can you cut it to here?” I held my hand up to my shoulder.

Her eyes widened as she looked at me with shock. “You don’t mean to cut it off at the shoulders, right? Honey, that’s a lot of hair. It is so pretty. I don’t think you are prepared for how that will look. Have you ever had short hair?”

“No, I haven’t. It’s just hair,” I replied.

She kept combing through my hair with her fingers, her touch becoming more nervous. “Honey, I don’t think your boyfriend wants you to cut that much off,” she said with a laugh and knowing glance.

“He isn’t my boyfriend. He is a friend and my ride. It is my hair and my decision.”

Joe was silent now. His worst fears were coming to fruition.

“Honey, let’s talk about it and see if we can’t come up with something else,” she said.

“No, I want to cut it off at the shoulders. Can you do it? I can go somewhere else if you won’t.”

She sighed and put my hair in a ponytail. “You understand that once I cut it off I can’t glue it back together.”

“Yes. I understand that.”

She inhaled deeply and asked once more if this is what I wanted.

“Yes. It is what I want.”

“Honey, are you okay? Has something happened?” she asked.

“I’m fine.”

Seeing that I wasn’t budging, she sighed and closed her eyes for a moment. If I didn’t know better, I think she said a prayer. She opened her eyes, met mine in the mirror, and offered a sad smile. “Okay,” she said.

She picked up the scissors and cut off at least 18″ of my hair. Joe gasped. She held it for me to see.

“It’s just hair,” I said.

I had no reaction to my hair being cut. As I said, it wasn’t something I had planned. I woke up and felt that I needed a different look.

Thirty years later, I can see that my desire to cut my hair was a trauma response that gave me back some of the power that had been stripped from me. I needed to look as differently on the outside as I felt on the inside. Cutting my hair afforded me some control over the change I was forced to endure when I was raped. This hair cut, after all, was just a few weeks after my rape.

The hair that was removed from me was a physical representation of the change I had undergone. I was different now, and this new Jeannie needed to be physically different. It was a physical change I could easily alter. I didn’t know any of this at the time. I just craved to have a haircut. I needed to shed something, in the hopes that better would grow in place of it.

Joe rode back to school with me in silence. He was devastated at my choice. He was the only person who knew I was making such a change. My roommate couldn’t wrap her mind around my new look and started peppering me with questions as to why I had done it. Strangers stopped me as I walked across campus, asking why I had cut my hair. It was antithetical to my intention with the cut. I wanted to disappear, and yet, more people than ever were approaching me about my hair.

Only one person had something positive to say about my new cut. A campus construction worker who had seen me a few days prior and after stopped to tell me he liked my new cut. Everyone else either proclaimed, “Oh, you cut your hair!” or went with the sage advice I hadn’t asked for and said, “It will grow quickly” and marked me with their sad eyes. My mother saw me at Thanksgiving and wanted to know what I’d done to myself. She said it was ugly and there was no reason I needed to do that. She didn’t know what I needed to prove.

Well, I guess I needed to prove that my hair and my body were indeed my own. Maybe I was attempting to be less attractive. Maybe I needed to take the one thing that had always garnered me attention and destroy as much of it as I could stomach. I didn’t want admiration. I didn’t want attention. I didn’t want to be wanted.

I didn’t think my hair cut was ugly. I still don’t. It was different and definitely out of character for me, but it didn’t make me ugly.

This was at Christmas, 1993, after two months of growth.

For those who are contemplating cutting their hair after a challenging time or traumatic event, I say, “Go for it!” It will grow back. If it is a step that you need, even if you don’t know why or can’t explain it to anyone, just do it. I have zero regrets that I cut my hair back then. It was my own little rebellion that hurt no one. It did grow back, although much slower than I could have anticipated. It taught me I’m not fan of short hair on myself, and I learned that cutting off my hair doesn’t carve out the pain. It doesn’t remove it or make it lighter to carry. But, that was my lesson to learn. Mine. I’m still proud of myself for stepping out of my box and doing something I hadn’t expected myself to do. A small freedom, in the prison of my internal torment, felt like a grand thing.

“You ruined your hair. You could at least smile for the photo.”
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The Death Mourned Only By The Self

Thank you for the photo, Marek Studzinski

I remember waking up in an angry panic. I was worried I would be late for history class. I respected the professor and didn’t want to show up late to his lecture. I sat in the front row, and it would be more than obvious if I entered mid-lecture. 

I was angry that I was there. Disgusted that I was in a filthy motel room usually rented by the hour. The anger was like a hot poker stabbing me in the face. I wanted to scream. At him. At me. At time. At God. At anything that would let me scream. I wanted to scream until I wasn’t angry anymore.

I couldn’t put everything together. The night was a compilation of images and moments. Nothing flowed like it should. I was struggling to understand the haphazard playback in my mind. I pushed the thoughts aside and focused on the one thing I understood: getting away from him.

I panicked because I wasn’t sure I would get back to school safely. I didn’t know what his plan was, and I was completely in the middle of the ocean without a ship in sight. I didn’t have a driver’s license, much less an available car, and I knew I could walk back to campus if I had to, but I’d definitely be late for class, and I couldn’t get off of this wheel of thought. If anything other than him driving me back to campus occurred, my entire day would shift and I couldn’t take that instability. I needed to go to school and go to history class. That was my mantra. That was my plan. That was all I could focus on.

Shower. I needed a shower. I went straight to the bathroom and was grateful for the hot water that hit my body. I scrubbed with the tiny bar of soap, as my silent tears fell, landing next to the mix of sweat, sperm, and layers of cells I violently washed off of me with the aid of a scratchy washcloth.  He entered the bathroom. We couldn’t see one another, as the years of soap scum and hard water spots created an opaque glass that offered me protection from his gaze.

His shadow approached the toilet. He laughed and said he really needed to pee. He said we didn’t need to be in a hurry. He said I could skip my classes for the day.

No. No. No. No. No. I told him that I needed to get back to campus. I said I couldn’t afford to miss class and work, and it would raise all kinds of flags as to why I wasn’t there. Realistically, my absences would raise eyebrows, and I’d have to answer for it, but I needed to make him feel like I would be missed and people would worry enough to seek me out. He didn’t know any better and accepted my answer.

He continued to pee and said that he could join me in the shower. 

I said I was nearly done and needed to dry and fix my hair. He left the bathroom and I exited the shower, quickly wrapping up in the only available towel. He was back before I could turn around, the smell of him alerting me of his return. 

My heart was beating as though I’d just finished a sprint. I maintained his eye contact as he walked around me, manically smiling  as though he were giving me a view I craved. He entered the shower, and as he started to whistle, I ran to quickly dress in the other room. I stood in front of the mirror, lost in my face. I felt like a separate being, trapped inside a shape I recognized but couldn’t connect with as being me. I was shaking. The reflection pursued her lips and stared ahead,  her hair flying around her as though it were trying to escape the room and the hot dryer she waved about it.

The anger rose up and bubbled over, streaming into every pore of my body. I wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of that room. Flee. Run. Escape. I knew I was in danger. 

I grabbed my backpack and took inventory of the room. If necessary, there were chairs I could use to fight him off with and get out of the door. I just needed to get out of that room. Sunshine and oxygen were on the other side.

He took his time getting out of the shower. He never stopped whistling. His pride was loud and echoing in my ears. I steeled myself for a fight when he came out of the bathroom. He vocalized a disappointing sigh when he spotted me gripping my bag with an eagerness to go.

“Why so anxious? Why don’t you skip today? We could have more fun.”

I shrugged and repeated that I would definitely be missed if I didn’t return soon. I kept looking for things that I could use should he attempt to prevent me from leaving. The plastic forks and knives from the Taco Bell meal we ate the night before were not much help. That moment, as I focused on the empty food and soda containers, would later be the puzzle piece that unlocked the “how” for me. He’d given me a soda and the lid was attached with the straw, but it wasn’t snapped closed. I’d commented that it was strange. He’d brushed it off like it wasn’t odd. I’d come to realize that was how he drugged me. I’d interrupted him, and he couldn’t quickly get the lid back on the cup

He finally started to dress, complaining the entire time, and telling me that I just needed to loosen up. Finally, he opened the door, and I practically ran to his car. He laughed, joking that I really took my studies seriously and commented on how cute it was that I couldn’t wait to get back.

Thankfully, school wasn’t far, and he drove straight there. He pulled up to the front of the student center, near where a trio of men were performing landscape work. I opened the car door, hesitating as the men all stopped doing what they working on to turn and stare. Classes were in session, and the campus was quiet sans their trimmers. I made eye contact with each of the men, but it wasn’t comforting to me. I couldn’t read their expressions. They weren’t smiling, and I certainly wasn’t offering a friendly greeting. His loud laughter interrupted my thoughts.

As I stepped out of the door, he laughed and said, “That is how it will be from now on. They are staring at you because you are different. They know what you did last night. It is all over your face. They know by how you walk. They can smell it. They know that you have had sex.”

I slammed the car door on his dreadful laughter and didn’t look at him. I faced the men and met their gazes with defiance. “Don’t look at me!” I wanted to shout. Instead, I quickly ran to class, anxious to be outside his reach in a classroom that offered safety.

I remember apologizing to my professor at my tardiness. I sank into my seat, allowing myself to exhale for the first time all morning. The classmate next to me asked if I was okay. I nodded. “I’m fine.”

I don’t know what was discussed that day in class. I don’t know how I got from my classes to work and to the dorms that day. Everything was different. Every piece of me was different. I was not the same. I wondered if what he said were true. Was I marked in some way?

All I wanted was to call my boyfriend. All I needed to hear was that he loved me and it would be okay.

Later, as I sat in my room, wishing I could piece together everything, straining to understand, the grief washed over me. I was gone. I didn’t know who this new person was, but she wasn’t me. My brain flooded with statements of blame and shame. I knew that I was tarnished. I was less than I was a day ago. I didn’t deserve my boyfriend, and why would he want me anyway. I wasn’t the girl he loved. I wasn’t worthy of his love. I couldn’t keep him tethered to the worthless person I’d become. I vowed to deal with this on my own and release him to find someone worthy of him.

I believed I was fine. It wasn’t the first time something bad had happened to me. In my regular style and family training, I simply needed to push on and forge past this moment. It was something that could be absorbed and never thought about again. I was wrong. I was so wrong.

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30 Years Ago Today I Had Everything Stolen From Me

It feels like a heartbeat ago. Recognizing that 30 years has passed since I last felt like the girl in this photo reminds me of the grieving that has been required of me since that day in 1993.

I look upon her face in awe. She was so young and hopeful. There wasn’t anything she didn’t believe she could do, and she was determined to work hard and earn everything that awaited her. She’d survived so much, waiting and believing that the best was just around the corner. I want to scoop her up and protect her. I want to get in a time machine and prevent the moments that are about to claim her life. There wasn’t an obituary when he took her life. Nobody but the two of them knew that he’d murdered her when he drugged her and repeatedly raped her throughout the night. Each time he took a little more of her light, a little more of her soul, until she was a shell that only resembled her. He stole everything from her.

I have grieved for you every day. I will grieve for you for the rest of my life.

I spoke about my rape for the first time on FB in a post on September 14, 2019. Here is that post:

Twenty-six years ago today, I was a freshman in college enjoying a night of music and dancing in the student center. I didn’t know that the person I was in that moment would never be seen again. I didn’t know that the person I was in that moment would be stolen by a man who was selfish and desired to claim one more virgin for his collection of rape victims. I didn’t know that the person I was in that moment would soon be drugged and raped repeatedly throughout the night. I didn’t know that the person I was in that moment, the eighteen-year-old young woman in purple sweatpants and a worn t-shirt, would wake up the next morning fearful for her life, trying desperately to piece together all that had happened to her overnight so that she might begin life anew as someone who carried the burden of her assault. Oh, sweet girl, if I could go back and change just a few moments of your night. I pause tonight to think of you and remember the girl who didn’t survive that night.

I speak out now because I could not do it then. I speak out now in the hope that I may offer some support to a woman who needs to hear a voice that understands. I needed it then. I speak out to normalize the act of listening to those who have a sexual assault story to tell. I speak out to help foster a world where there is no shame in speaking out about rape.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: a service of RAINN

  • Telephone hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673)
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What I’m Watching: Moving On with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin

Thanks for the photo, Glenn Carstens-Peters

A revenge comedy about two friends who reunite at a funeral to seek justice for a sexual assault that happened while they were in college. As a survivor of rape, I recommend this film and applaud the sensitivity and honesty with which the subject is handled. It is a movie with a great deal of humor, but above that, it has a heart.

Many movies I’ve seen miss the mark when attempting to express the feelings of those who have been sexually assaulted. This movie has some poignant moments that are beautifully expressed in the words of the script and the character portrayal by Jane Fonda.

Moving On can currently be seen on Hulu at the time of this posting.

There are some very memorable scenes in this film. Here are few of my favorite pieces of dialogue.

When Jane Fonda is expressing to Lily Tomlin how she wants revenge on her attacker, the following is said:

Lily Tomlin: “Oh, Claire, it’s been decades, and not like a couple of decades. It’s been four and a half decades!”

Jane Fonda: “It was yesterday.”

This hit me directly in the heart. It doesn’t matter how many years or decades it has been, for it always feels as though it was just a moment ago. Like a damaged nerve, where the ends are always attempting to reattach and reach out to the other, the person we become after a rape is continually seeking the person we were before. To remember her, to validate and soothe her.

It is one of the most insensitive comments a person can make to another, to inform them that a certain amount of time has passed and therefore the experience should be less painful. This has happened to me a few times. One was by a friend who was a widow and very comfortable grieving her for her loss many years later. I wouldn’t ever be able to tell her to “get over it…he died six years ago.” Unfortunately, she felt comfortable telling me that my rape “was in the past,” and I needed to move on.

Jane Fonda is speaking to her ex-husband, Ralph, and he wants to know what happened to her that made them a viable couple. She says something bad happened. He wants to know why she couldn’t tell him, and she says, “It made me mute. It made me deaf. It made me blind to you and to everything good in my life. I just couldn’t.”

This is exactly my experience. The shame I took on moved into every cell in my body and made me unable to speak my pain. It made me unable to accept that anyone could understand or love me. I was damaged. I was trash. I just had to get through it and keep my pain from overwhelming anyone else. It was my problem, and I wouldn’t make anyone else experience it.

There is another scene where Lily Tomlin is reminding Jane Fonda of all that she has now. She has children, grandchildren, and a nice home.

Jane Fonda replies, “You know what you have? You did what you want in life. That’s what you have.”

After her attack, we understand that she gave up becoming a photographer.

Yes! I understand this so well. Once I was raped, all that I ever was, including my dreams and hopes, were replaced by doubts and fears. I no longer had the self confidence needed to climb the last of the stairs necessary to reach the level I had been chasing. I turned down every opportunity that came my way. Those choices were stolen from me. I no longer believed in me. I was stolen.

Whether you are a survivor of rape or care for someone who is, I hope you’ll consider watching this film. It is very humorous, and while I’ve touched on the moments that made me appreciate the film as it relates to my sexual assault, it isn’t a heavy topic in the film.

The movie is written and directed by Paul Weitz.

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Prime Day Savings of My Favorite Products on Amazon

sale

The days of Prime savings at Amazon are here, and there are some wonderful deals to be had. Below are some of the items I’ve purchased and love. I thought that you may find them beneficial to you! Reminder: Prime Days are a benefit of your Prime membership during July 11 – July 12, 2023.

Safety and Prepping Items

If you have ever lost power and needed a light, ability to charge your phone, or wanted to have a radio to hear the weather, then look no further than this adaptable FORTECLEAR 5000mAh Hand Crank Solar Emergency Radio.

A safe house needs a smart lock. I love that my door locks automatically, and thanks to the addition of the keypad (sold separately), I don’t have to worry if I’ve got my phone on me, I can just type in my code and the lock will open. You don’t need a keypad, but it comes in handy for guests or neighbors that you’d like to have access to your home (you can see if the code has been used, and you can always revoke access at any time, so no worries!). Installation is a breeze!

Don’t fall in the shower! When I had surgery last year, I installed these Shower Handles and frequently relied on them for security when I felt weak. I sincerely believe that EVERY house needs some handles in the shower. The suction cups are strong but are easily removed for cleaning or to rearrange.

The LEVOIT OasisMist Smart Cool and Warm Mist Humidifier is a smart device that alerts you when the tank has run dry and allows you to control the settings via the app. It automatically shuts off when the tank is dry, too! Easy cleanup, quiet, and works like a charm! Your nose will thank you when the winter months are dry and itchy.

Maybe you’ve never thought about having a chainsaw, or perhaps a large one is just too much for you to take on, but either way, a mini one may just save the day! The Saker Mini Chainsaw is a perfect size for trimming back tree small limbs or taking care of fallen debris. Easy to store and ready with two rechargeable batteries, you won’t have to hurt your hands when you want to break up some kindling for the winter fires.

If you are looking for ways to keep your food fresh and stable on the pantry shelf, the Eazy2hD Mason Jar Vacuum Sealer is an inexpensive item that pays for itself in a very short time.


Office and Home

I needed a drafting chair for my art studio. The SMUG Drafting Chair is everything I could hope for, and doesn’t break the bank! Super comfy, and the arms fold up for those quick exits in and out of the chair for potty breaks for Hillary!

I’m not a fan of earbuds, and I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg on something I wasn’t sure I’d even like, but I have to say, I’m loving these SUPFINE Wireless Earbuds. They are listed as IPX8, meaning they are waterproof. You can learn more about that rating and how items are tested at audioreputation.com. I personally haven’t tried them in the shower or dropped them in the water, so I can’t attest to that quality. They are great earbuds! I own some very expensive headphones that cover my entire ear, and while those are wonderful, these earbuds are great for either popping in for a conversation (as I’ve heard the mic is great), using while in an office setting or while falling asleep and listening to music or watching tv on my phone. For under $15 bucks, they come with a great case that you can drop on your wireless charging pad for a quick charge.

I recently heard a crash and ran to discover that a photo frame had fallen and broken. It was 30 years old, but something had fallen against it and knocked it off the wall. I ordered UpSimples 11×14 Picture Frame Set of 5 (8×10 fits without the matting), and happily had my photo replaced within the week.Now that I have other matching frames, I’m encouraged to add more photos to the wall. A few extra never hurt, and they are quality frames.

If you do any crafts with wax seals, you NEED the Wax Seal Kit,Electric Wax Seal Warmer. I’ve used the little melting kits that use a tea candle to melt the wax, and they are inferior to this electric tool. The wax melts quickly, and you aren’t worried about keeping a stash of tea candles. This kit speeds up the process and helps you create more seals in a consistent manner.

I needed a car vac that didn’t require me lugging out my wet vac for every hair that Hillary sheds in the car. The Vactidy Cordless Vacuum Cleaner fits the bill! I get about 45 minutes on a charge, and that is while using the higher suction speed. There are two speeds, and unless you are sucking up husky hair, you will probably be fine with the lower suction. There are numerous attachments, and including one that allows you to take care of the floor. I was drawn to this item because it is easy to clean. While I don’t think it would replace a vacuum like my Dyson, I do use it for a quick clean of the carpeted stairs and any crumbs nearby. A handy tool to keep close to encourage quick cleanup.

My need for kitchen door curtains led me to Deconovo Door Curtains, and I am very pleased with them. The fabric is light blocking and is easily gathered with the included curtain pull-back. Such a simple necessity and there is no need for an expensive solution. I thought they were a great deal at regular price, but this price makes them an even better one!


Kitchen

Next to gadgets, kitchen organization is a passion of mine. These YEBODA 11oz Glass Milk Bottles are perfect for filling with juice, tea, or water and stashing in the door of the fridge. I especially like them for juice, and the two lid options are a great idea for travel, too.

If you want a little more to drink with the protective sleeve, too, please consider the Otis Classic Reusable Glass Water Bottles with Protective Sleeves. These are my “go to” for grab and go hydration, whether I am hopping in the car, gardening, or just relaxing inside the house. The lid means I’ll not spill them, and the protective sleeve keeps them safe from dings and drops. I try to keep my favorite tea in them and ready to go at all times!

My new favorite gadget is the GIVENEU Electric Fondue Pot Sets with Barbecue Grill. I used to have an electric fondue pot, but it never came close to the fun and excitement of this one! The little mini pans are perfect for additional food and your favorite sauces! It is a great item for parties or for the single person who just wants to throw it all on the grill and have fun with minimal and easy cleanup.

The NOYA Adjustable Tofu Press is a perfect kitchen tool for anyone who eats a lot of tofu. It helps to squeeze out any moisture and can be used to marinate tofu, too. Quick cleanup and easy to use!

I wanted to clean up the area under my kitchen sink and make it easier to clean. The Under Sink Mat, 34″ x 22″ is a great item that has a drain that helps should any water spill into it, and a nice lip on it to contain any drips. It bends easily for installation, and since it isn’t rigid, you won’t have to struggle with it when you need to pull it out.


Gift Cards

Now is the time to buy Gift Cards!

You can make those dollars STRETCH when you secure a gift card deal during Prime. For example, Buy $50 get $10 credit, code UBER.


Pets

I have tried many poop bags over the years, but I have to say that my faves are Amazon Basics Unscented Standard Dog Poop Bags with Dispenser and Leash Clip! I get them every six months with a 900 bag delivery. That’s a lot of bags, Jeannie! Yes, but I pick up immediately after Hillary goes in the yard. I keep them stashed all over the yard, and they are ready to go when she does! They are sturdy, have a nice scent, and I never get a bag with a hole in it.

Winni recently had to have dental surgery and was given a new drug that kept her free of pain, but she was a high risk for falling. I had to keep her contained in a separate room, and even when she felt better, she returned to the room for a few days for quiet time. I kept her litter box in the room and didn’t want Hillary to enjoy the buffet, so I purchased the Baby Gate with Cat Door – Auto Close 29.5″-48.4″ and solved the issue of allowing Winni the opportunity to come and go without Hillary following. Easy to install and a wonderful addition for pets who need a little R&R (or to keep the bigger animals or kids out of the pet room).

The Made4Pets pet stairs are wonderful and strong! Both Winni and Hillary use them. They come with carpet you can attach, and there is a little hidden storage area in the lower step for toys or other items, and a hideaway hole for a rest for small pets. Perfect for help to the furniture or bed.


Outdoor Decor and Lighting

A little extra lighting in the yard is always a good thing, and I am really happy with the Dynaming 8 Pack Solar Post Lights. They are bright and last a really long time.

Gardening is a passion of mine, and my new peony plants needed staking. The 20pack Garden Plant Support Stakes worked like a charm, and you can connect them to make a little fence enclosure, too. Easy, adaptable, and a great item for the garden.

The Ayleid Retractable Garden Hose Reel has saved my back in the summer of 2023. I had previously used a hand crank reel to wind up my hoses, and I hated every minute of it. I’ve used it for over twenty years and cussed a streak at it. Not anymore! The retractable garden hose is like having a butler carry my hose and assist me with winding it up. Do your back a favor and make gardening a little more enjoyable, too

I’ve used the Gardzen 10-Pack 20 Gallon Grow Bags for two seasons now, and I have to say, they are great and make gardening easy and portable! I recently needed to move my garden area, and moving the bags was no trouble at all. They have held up in the weather and sun, and I look forward to using them for many years to come!


Personal Care

After my lipedema liposuction surgery, I’ve experienced nerve damage in my legs. This has made using a traditional blade razor very unsettling. I can’t really feel how deep I’m going with the blades. The Electric Razor for Women – Painless 2-in-1 Women Shaver has solved two problems for me: it is a rechargable razor, and it has two head attachments (one for body and one for face). Your stray chin hairs will be a thing of the past, and you won’t need two tools to take care of your shaving needs.

If you suffer from any form of leg exhaustion or swelling, you may consider compression socks. The 3 Pack Copper Compression Socks are ideal for men and women. They wash beautifully and maintain their shape.

The UTK Heating Pad for Back, Far Infrared Natural Jade and Tourmaline Heating Pad has quickly become my favorite self-care tool. Ever since I visited the Shoji Spa in Asheville, North Carolina, where I first used a similar mat, I’ve been feeling great with improved motion in my shoulder/neck and ridding my body of headaches that hit me first thing in the morning due to stiffness from sleep. The stones do not get too hot, and unlike traditional heating pads, my back does not have discoloration after I use it. This deal is really limited, so run if you want it!

There we have it, my top picks for Prime Days 2023! I’d love to hear if you have any of the items and what you think of them! Happy shopping!

Disclaimer: Some links on my site are part of affiliate programs, and if you click on them or make a purchase from the link, I may make a few pennies. There is no additional charge to you.

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Days that Define Us: Moving from Virginia to Texas in 1993

Actual entry from my calendar.

Thirty years ago, on this very day in June, I left Virginia for Texas. I didn’t go willingly, and I did not possess a happy heart. Three days prior, I watched my love board a plane and return to Spain. I was finally at the time of my life I’d waited and worked for since I had known what it meant for one to have goals. I was headed to college in August. As far as I could see, my life was finally beginning.

Thanks for the photo, Ross Parmly

This should have been one of the happiest times of my life. A dream brought to fruition by my hard work and determination. This win was mine, and yet, I felt alone and inconsolable at the loss of my home, friends, and boyfriend. Additionally, my parents chose the college that I would attend. They wanted to return to Texas and had forced me to apply to Texas Woman’s University (TWU) in Denton, Texas. While they weren’t paying for a dime of my education, I didn’t have a driver’s license, much less a car, and I was only in a position to do as I was told.

I calmed myself by believing that it didn’t matter if I started college at TWU. I could always transfer. At least I’d made it. I’d survived to eighteen years old (just barely 3.5 weeks prior), and I could begin living my life, even if my controlling parents were dictating how it would begin. I just needed to look at the positive and move forward. This was a rocky beginning, but it didn’t need to compose the complete narrative of my life. I just needed to embrace the journey and jump into the opportunities that waited for me. My boyfriend planned to return in a year, and we’d be on our way to our happily ever after.

Thanks for the photo, Marcel Ardivan

My mindset had always been one that leaned toward the light. Like a plant seeking the sun, I would bend as needed to find a sliver of sustenance and bloom despite a less-than-ideal environment.

Thanks for the photo, Nathália Arantes

This challenge was nothing new and held the potential of a greater reward than I had ever known.

I packed, said my goodbyes to childhood friends, and I was once again dragged across state lines to a strange locale where I was the new girl without a friend in sight. Nothing new to see here.

This day, as we set out for an 18+ hour journey, I kept my face on the window, absorbing the sun’s warmth and encouragement. It was my only source of comfort.

Hold on. Just hold on.

Hold on. Just hold on.

Hold on. Just hold on.

I repeated this phrase to myself until the rhythm muted my mother’s mocking laughter, as she poked fun at my heartbreak.

Hold on. You are almost free.

You are almost who you’ve always wanted to become.

Hold on. Just hold on.

Thanks for the photo, Sydney Sims

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Bushnell Unscripted Podcast: Read with Me – Winnie-the-Pooh Chapter One

Illustration by Ernest H. Shepard

I may be the only person who has not read Winnie-the-Pooh, but I’m quickly fixing my deficiency of Pooh literature. I never knew the story was so funny and packed with adult humor. Just how he came to be named “Pooh” made me laugh loudly when I first read it. I’m kinda glad I wasn’t previously introduced to the honey-loving bear, as my fresh eyes are thoroughly enjoying this new reading adventure. Whether you’ve read the story before or over a lifetime, I hope you’ll give my version a listen.

You can read the original digitized version with me at Google Books.

If you’d like to hear the author, A.A. Milne, read from his work, check out this video.

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BUE03 Bushnell Unscripted Podcast: Dipping back in with TV Shows I’m Watching: Will Trent, Inside Man, and Emily in Paris

Hi! I’m returning back to the land of audio with my latest podcast that is a tiny taste of TV shows I’m currently watching. My time away has certainly been lengthy, and I’m coming back with a variety of subjects to talk about and share with you.

First up, I’m watching Will Trent. I watch it on Hulu, but you can also purchase the entire season or pay per episode on Amazon.

I’m digging that the show is similar to Monk, but definitely suited for a more adult audience. The sweet little chihuahua Will rescues is darling and is honestly one of the draws of the show for me. The series is based off of Karin Slaughter’s New York Times best selling “Will Trent” book series that I will be checking out. Have you read the books? What are you thoughts on the show?

Stop what you are doing and RUN to watch Inside Man. The BBC has done it again with a magical mix of drama and mystery that will keep you riveted for four episodes. The end comes too soon, as watching David Tennant and Stanley Tucci is a treat in and of itself. These two talented actors make for a combination that keeps one on the edge of the seat. RUN…watch… report back on what you think.

Finally, a little fluff and fun to wash down the serious watching, as we return to Season 3 of Emily in Paris. I adore Emily and her French friends. How could you not? When I’m not watching the show, I’m listening to the music on the Emily in Paris Soundtrack.

Emily in Paris, A Netflix series

The last episode of Season 3 was certainly a bombshell. Do you believe Cami? I think our favorite secret keeper has grown her nose a bit with this story. I can’t wait for the next season. Will it be the last?

What are you watching this Winter? I’d love to hear your recommendations and view your list of favorites!

Thanks for listening and reading, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Check out my watchlist on IMDB.

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Happy National Popcorn Day – Easy Popping at Home

National Popcorn Day is a great excuse to enjoy your own popcorn at home with little expense and great fun. I do love popcorn. As a child, it always felt like such a treat, especially when we would buy a “self-contained stove-top popping pan” from Jiffy Pop. We would watch it pop, the foil balloon of popcorn expanding and sizzling. Of course, as a vegan, I haven’t had that product in years, as they have milk derivatives in their products. That’s okay, the sweet memory is there.

I have a vintage air popper that I use, but I find myself avoiding it because the blower is quite loud, and I don’t enjoy the sound. I started purchasing small, individual bags of popped corn from Costco, but the new price increases have made me avoid putting it in my cart.

Popcorn is too delicious of a snack to abandon! The low-calorie snack is a great treat throughout the day. Determined to find a solution, I started searching for an answer to my popcorn dilemma.

I took a leap and ordered the Mueller Premium Microwave Popcorn Popper, 3 Quart Capacity Popcorn Maker, Borosilicate Glass, with a 3-in-1 Silicone Lid.

I was drawn to the popper because it is glass, has a silicone lid for measuring kernels and melting a variety of additional items to help flavor the popcorn, but this microwave cooker doesn’t need any additional oils or flavors to make the popcorn. It is a simple design with promising results based on the reviews. It is in a charming red color (they seem to have a happy yellow now) and is dishwasher safe, too.

I needed some popcorn, so I ordered a 3 lb. bag of Anthony’s Organic Yellow Popcorn Kernels, 3 lb, (Gluten Free and Non GMO).

I was apprehensive, but foraged ahead with my goal of having yummy popcorn without additional packaging waste and extra expense. The first batch was not ideal. I followed the instructions and most of my popcorn didn’t pop. The second time, I extended the cooking time and it got better, but not great. The third time, I set the microwave to five minutes and watched as the entire bowl cooked up. It didn’t need the full five minutes, but it was close. Since that successful time, I’ve tried other brands of popcorn and can attest that the cooking times have been all over the board. Some have needed a swift three minutes, and others need a bit longer. My advice is simply to experiment and standby as the popcorn is in the microwave. Nobody likes burnt popcorn.

The popcorn has been delicious. While you don’t need any additional oil to make the popcorn pop, I plop a little organic coconut oil in the bowl before I measure out and dump my kernels. I put a pat of vegan butter in the top of the lid to melt as it pops, and I frequently experiment with a variety of spices and salts when the popcorn is completed. I have yet to try chocolates or other sweet mixtures. I do like a healthy dusting of nutritional yeast.

Clean-up is a snap, and whether you keep it on the counter or tuck it away, it looks attractive.

Here is the refined coconut oil, butter, and nutritional yeast that I use: