Aluminum for Remembrance, Post-Its for Pleasure

Anniversary Post-its from Just Paper Roses

There’s a scene in the movie version of Under the Tuscan Sun where Frances, having decided to pick one room at a time in her new Italian villa and make it her own, begins with her writing desk. She turns it so that she can look out the window while she works, and decorates it with pretty boxes, and bouquets of both pens and flowers. While I enjoyed the movie, for what it was, that scene really resonates with me, because I’m the same way about my writing desk. Oh, I can’t always afford to keep fresh flowers on it, but whenever I can, there they are, and even though I tend to compose everything I write at the computer keyboard these days, I have to have paper. Real paper. I have baskets of blank note cards and piles of post-its, and while none of them are about my anniversary, if someone gave me such a pad, I’d laugh delightedly, and add them to the stack. Post-its are great for jotting down notes, and the one thing I hate about no longer working in the corporate world is that I no longer get post-its for free from various vendors.

The post-it notes are just one reason I’m digging this great web-shop that specializes in wedding anniversary gifts, Just Paper Roses. Not only do they have a selection of faux flowers designed for every anniversary, in both artsy and “lifelike” versions, but they also have post-its, picnic-ware, teddy bears, and lots of other cool gifts for anniversaries, birthdays, and just because.

One of the items I thought was cool was that for the 10th wedding anniversary gifts, which are supposed to be aluminum, they offer metallic roses in a shiny aluminum vase, that should look tacky, but instead feels sort of retro-chic. In fact, if my next wedding anniversary wasn’t going to be my 16th, I’d be asking Fuzzy to get it for me, to put on the desk in the Word Lounge.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to give me the tiny square booklet-calendars she got free from the florist or the bank, or wherever. I always got a kick out of reading the list of anniversary gift themes. You know, first year, paper, and all that. I’m guessing the folks at Just Paper Roses liked those calendars too, because their products suit every taste from serious to silly, and their prices are reasonable.

One of my favorite books is a tiny missive by Alexandra Stoddard called Gift of a Letter, that basically talks about how letter-writing is becoming a lost art. I’m a die-hard letter writer. I’m also a die-hard lover of flowers, but I have many friends who feel sad about sending cut flowers because they don’t last. As you can imagine, I’ll be turning them on to the fabulous silk and paper roses Just Paper Roses offers.

Well, just as soon as I place a bouquet on the corner of my writing desk, light some incense, and sit down to write to them about it.

Online Nursing Degrees? Why Not?

In reading three Michael Perry books in succession, I was struck more than once by the fact that he attended – and completed – nursing school. While I’m fairly certain he went to a physical school in Eau Claire, WI, I like the notion of such a person attending an online university.

One such school is Western Governors University, which has a program allowing you to study nursing (rn to bsn online) via distance learning. What’s more they’ve designed their program so that motivated learners can work at an accelerated pace, writing papers and meeting challenges to prove their knowledge, and not suffering through a traditional educational environment.

In a way, it reminds me of the “College of Professional Studies” my mother went through when earning her Organizational Behavior degree via the University of San Francisco. She wrote papers to earn either upper or lower division credits, and only had to meet with a live person once a week, though she made it very clear that earning her degree was her primary job during that time. Western Governors University says it expects distance learners to put in a solid 20 hours a week of work, and I know my mother did at least that much – and that was in 1987, before internet learning was even possible.

Distance learning isn’t for everyone, but if I were going back to school, I’d look for something similar to Western Governors University’s program. It separates coursework into six-month chunks, during which each person works at her own pace, completing “…as much of your degree as possible…” with the assistance of a mentor, who guides you through the process and the required information.

I have to confess, when I was asked to give an opinion of this program, I thought, “you can’t learn nursing online,” but I was wrong. After reading the information, and scanning the website, I’m confident that WGU has created a comprehensive nursing program for nontraditional learners.

Don’t you just love it when technology is used to make the world a better place?

Rocket Tunes –

Okay, so I just got a stylish new RED iPod NaNo, my first real foray into true iPoddy goodness, and now I have to fill it.

My 30 GB Zen is mainly full of free podcasts and Napster tunes, but Napster to Go, their subscription service, doesn’t work with Apple products (why can’t we have ONE standard for this stuff?), and iTunes has never been my favorite service.

This is why I tried out for free music downloads. Similar to Limewire, it’s a subscription service interface for Gnutella, but it’s a lot more robust, and user friendly – I didn’t even have an issue running it in Vista, which is notoriously twitchy.

Top Five Downloads

Downloading the software is a piece of cake, and searching for songs is simple – type in the track name or the artist, and, if you really want to limit your finds to mp3s, and not videos or other media, specify “audio” before you start the search function.

The basic version of the software gets you instant access to music but for a more robust connection, quicker searches, and different file types, it’s better to join the service. Membership ranges from 1.64 / month for a year to $34.44 for a lifetime subscription, and an additional $14.95 gets you access to downloadable DVD movies as well.

It’s a pretty sweet site, offering services like the top five downloads, as well as a user forum, and a way to meet other music fans.

Goes well with an mp3 player and dancing shoes.


Sitting at Cracker Barrel with Fuzzy yesterday morning, each of us reading, I watched him eat bacon, and thought, “the bacon I made with the microwave bacon cooker was better than this.”

A few months ago, I received a totally enclosed microwave bacon cooker, and even though we don’t eat bacon all that often, I was incredibly happy to have it. You see, this unit, which looks like a cross between a sifter and a water filter pitcher, is the only such contraption that IS totally enclosed.

It’s also really easy to use. You drape the bacon over the internal blades, close and fasten the lid, and stick it in the microwave on “high” for about thirty second per slice (a little more or less depending on the desired end-result and the thickness of your bacon), then unlock, and pull the blades out, leaving all the nasty grease in the well at the bottom. You can then pour off the grease (into a safe container, never down the sink), and make more, or just use hot soapy water to clean the cooker again for next time.

I don’t often wax rhapsodic about appliances, but this microwave bacon cooker really is as wonderful as it sounds.

In fact, as I was reading this morning, and came across characters talking about bacon for breakfast, I thought, “Oh, I want to have some, too.”

And I did.



I often use business cards as bookmarks, so when I picked up a book that I’d read several years ago, I wasn’t at all surprised to see one of my old business cards fall from it. Instead, I was reminded that I don’t HAVE business cards any more. And I really need some, if only to drop in the “free lunch” bucket at my favorite restaurant.

I’ve used online business card providers in the past, but while they were cheap, their design interfaces were clunky and their graphics limited. I was turned onto the logo design feature at LogoYes, however, and fell immediately in love. It’s so easy. You select the general type of logo you want – high tech, staid and stable, or creative – and they give you a bunch of graphics to choose from. You can then add a name or a company name, and change the color of the image you’ve chosen. From there, it’s easy to see what your logo would look like on stationery or business cards, because the design engine takes you right to a business card engine.

LogoYes’s site loads quickly, and it never feels awkward or confusing. Everything is arranged on a grid so you can see how it looks, and while the font choices are limited to the few that print best, there are enough options to suit almost anyone.

I’m thrilled that I’ve found LogoYes.
Maybe someday someone will use my card as a bookmark…in my book.

Writer’s Toolbox

One of the things I picked up at Barnes and Nobel the other day was The Writer’s Toolbox, which was 40% off it’s discounted site. I haven’t used it yet, but I took it apart last night to see what was inside, and it looks like fun.It comes with a book full of examples, explanations of the games, and helpful hints, some of which are oft-repeated wisdom. “Be specific,” it reminds, as Natalie Goldberg also often does. It reminds you to name people and things. Not ‘a sedan’ but a Honda Accord. Not a funky doorknob but one designed by Baldwin.The games are what appeal to me most, as they’re meant to help unstick you when you feel blocked. One involves popsicle sticks with first sentences, non sequiturs and such, that you have to blend, another involves spinning wheels to find your protagonist’s character, goal, obstacle and action required to move forward.

It all seems like a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to have time to use it.

Gold Medal Wines: Wine of the Month Club

One of my favorite relaxation rituals is to light a candle, pour a glass of wine, and recline in a hot bubble bath with a good book. In California, I was lucky enough to have stores like BevMo (Beverages and More) at my disposal, as well as easy access to a number of great small wineries. In fact, when we lived in our condo in the Rose Garden area of San Jose, there was a winery on our street.

Now that we’re in Texas, I’ve looked through the offerings at the grocery store and World Market, and their selections are okay, but for really interesting selections, I’ve become intrigued by the wine of the month club offered by Gold Medal Wine ( They offer monthly deliveries of two bottles of wine from small California vintners, which they’ll send to those states where mailing alcohol is actually legal. Prices range from $32 – $179 / month, depending on the rarity and quality of the wine being shipped. (They’re divided into three levels of club membership with the $32 price being good and interesting, while the $179 level is for wines that are truly original, rare, and special.)

Each package comes with two bottles, generally one each of red and white, but sometimes just red. They’re packaged in a styrofoam bottle-protector, and come with the monthly newsletter that talks about the wines selected, as well as offering news and reviews of other wines. For the money, it’s a great way to experience new and different wines that you may not otherwise be exposed to.

There are no monthly minimums, but members do get a discount on half-case (or more) reorders.