Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oh Dear Me!
I DO Procrastinate--But In Moderation!

Here is my entry in a (a.k.a. WDC) contest called Dear Me, which has to do with making plans for the new year (a.k.a. New Year's Resolutions).  Hope you enjoy reading it!  I might have given it a title having something to do with procrastination, but the title was supposed to be Dear Me.  Not sure if it won any place in the contest, but I've gotten lots of positive feedback about it.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Let Me Take You Where The (Inter)Action Is!

Shortly after getting online a few mornings ago, I decided to make a snowflake for my friend, Chris, to show her how it was done.  Making these flakes is so much fun that I couldn't stop at one and ended up making three.  Here they are:   First         Second       Third      Check out all of the action I put into them!

After viewing the possibilities, don't you just want to make some of your own!?!

I'll let you in on a secret to get you started:  One sure-fire way to get a flake animated is to cut designs that take in previously-cut designs.  You also need to cut little pieces out one-at-a-time, and you can try doing this on different spots.  One thing to remember is that there's no such thing as making an uncorrectable booboo.  You can always go back and correct it--or else you can decide that it really isn't a booboo after all and just kinda go with the flow.

One of these times, I'm going to do an entire blog-entry about Popular Front Snowdays where I'll be introducing you to some of my fellow flakers, but not this time around.

This time, the theme of my blog-entry is interaction!

The way I became inspired to do this blog-entry was in hoping to get more people involved in adding to a favorite In & Out of mine called Cheap Imitation Crystal Ball.

Since anybody reading this who is not familiar with the idea of In & Outs and/or Cheap Imitation Crystal Ball is probably scratching his/her head right now and feeling a little puzzled, I think I'd better explain what they are.

An In & Out is a neat, interactive item found at  The item is set to display a set number of contributions at a time.  Probably, the busiest one of these is The Shameless Plug Page  where you can go to find a wide variety of reads (usually, of very high quality) being plugged by their authors and/or others who want to give these items a wider audience

Although you can't rate and/or review the items or contact their authors without becoming a member of, you can read any of them that haven't been limited to being read by members.

And why not become a member of WDC?  You even have a free option that will make you able to participate in most public interactive items and forums as well as rating and reviewing items and contacting their authors.  You can also even keep a small portfolio of your own works.  With upgrades, of course, you'll be able to have even more privileges and perks--not to mention a larger portfolio (usually, referred to as a port at WDC).

As I said, one thing that initially inspired this blog-entry was wanting to draw some attention (and, hopefully, more participation) to Cheap Imitation Crystal Ball.  When I joined WDC nine years ago on the 27th of this month, this was probably the very first In & Out to which I contributed.  Back then, it was much more active.  Now, it has slowed down to where even days might pass between signs of participation, and I think that's really too bad, because it's tons of fun, a great mixer, and really gets our creative juices flowing.

This isn't some kind of mysterious occult site.  It's simply a place where each participant must come up with some kind of answer to the previous question and then ask his/her own question to be answered by the next participant.

As with probably all In & Out games, the more participants the better.

Here are some other examples of neat In & Out games:

Money, Money, Money -- Contribute thoughts about money.  It's amazing what a variety of thoughts there are on this subject!  Each participant can have up to three thoughts showing at the same time.

Poetic Insanity -- The poem goes on and on and on. . .Just hop on and contribute, but never finish the final line of your contribution, because that's the next person's job!

Imagination Alphabet -- Contribute--and talk about--a word beginning with the letter of the alphabet that's being featured at the moment.

The last one was created by a very nice lady named Maryann Hicks who has her own website at WDC called Writings of Maryann.

Here are some other interactive things to do at WDC.

You can create amazing and amusing results of a Madlib like this one.

Besides that, you can add to stories, solve crossword puzzles, and a whole lot more!

One final note for now:

I'd like to invite you to join me at tagvillage where there's a lot of action and interaction going on that is not only fun but, also, has the potential to send you ROTFL all the way to the bank!!!

Remember that I'm also looking forward to seeing more activity going on with these In & Outs--especially, Cheap Imitation Crystal Ball--so here's hoping to see you around!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Move Over, Martha Stewart--
Here Comes
Annamarie Dodge

It seems very appropriate that Annamarie Dodge would make her first entry into PASSIONATE LIFE...A FOODIE'S JOURNEY on Valentine's Day.  After all, hers is a life of love and passion.  

Even though she claims to do her best when keeping things simple (e.g. no fancy url; few, if any, bells & whistles when it comes to creating a blog), I doubt if you'll ever find it boring to read her blog-entries. 

After all, we're talking about a spunky woman who met her husband of five years a little over ten years ago online when she lived in the northern part of California and he lived in the southern part.  Together, they had the amazing son whom doctors had predicted she'd never be able to have.  Eventually, they moved to New Mexico.  

What I've just written is a thumbnail sketch of her story and am going to hand the talking stick over to her now so that she can tell it to you in her own words. . .

Welcome to my is truly a work in progress, as I have never done anything like this before.  Yes, I am a foodie, I love to cook, bake, try new things, etc. But I am not JUST a foodie, I am passionate about everything I do, about everything in life.  Family, faith, volunteering, art, crafts, love, new items on the market, toys, games, even cleaning products...if I like something well enough, I become passionate about it, and then cant wait to tell people about it...good or bad...actually.  I dont like seeing people wasting their money on a product that may just be junk.  So I will go try it out first and then review it.  I am on many survey sites to do just that, give my opinions, tell it like it is (trust me, I have become very good at it) and in doing so, I have become pretty well established out least in the survey circles.  I have done reviews for such groups as Judy's Book, Associated Content, etc.  It is just something I have always enjoyed doing.

Now to give you just a little more insite on me:  I am handicapped, not that I admit it, nor could you ever tell, because I never let it slow me down.  I presently work as a volunteer at my son's school (along with my husband).  I help out as a teacher's assistant, I help out in the front office, or where ever else I may be needed.  I did actually work(for pay) at the school cafeteria as a food service worker, up until October/November of 2010.  I had back surgery back in June of 2010, and it just posed too many health risks to keep working under those circumstances, even tho I dearly loved my job and the people I worked with.  Of course, I loved it, I got paid to do what I loved doing best, cooking/baking and dealing with children and doesn't get any better than that!  Anyway, I digress.  I had to give it up, and go back to being just a volunteer and a stay at home mom for the most part. 

As for my husband, we have been married approximately 5 years, and together  for over 10 years.  When we first met, he was pushing close to 500lbs!  He was not in good health.  But in the first year we were together, I knocked close to 300lbs off him, and got him on the road to better health.  I did nothing drastic, just cooked better for him, got him on portion control, got him out walking, etc.  It works, if you really put your mind to it.  It is not easy, not by a long shot, but it can be  doesn't all have to be  hard work.  Try new recipes, go window shopping, etc...make it fun and it will work for you.  He did end up having open heart surgery a few years back, due to all the damage that had already been done, not to mention from a stressful job, etc. 

We met in California, he lived and worked in Southern California, and I at the opposite end of the state in Northern Cal.  We met online in an interest group we both belonged to.  After about a year's time, we decided to meet for the first time, face to face.  Just over a year later, we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy (something we never dreamed would happen, since I was told I could not bear children), but God knows, I have always been one to prove the doctors wrong.  We lived in Southern California up until hubby's father took ill and we chose to go visit him before his death three years ago.  I fell in love with New Mexico and did not want to go back to California (but of course someone  had to pack up the apartment lol) so we went back, and I did just that.  Hubby retired from his job with the federal government and we moved to New Mexico. And the rest is history.

What can you expect from this blog?  What do you want to see?  I will post recipes that I have tried, ideas, ways to make an average recipe more healthy.  I will check out stores, businesses, establishments and such and give my reviews on their service, atmosphere, prices, etc. I will give reviews on products, books, etc.  If there is something in particular you want to see or hear about, let me know.  If you have questions, feel free to ask.  Having a party or get together and are clueless about what to serve or do? Ask, I will do my best to help.  This may be my blog, but I am doing it for all of you!

I hope that you'll decide to go over there and check out what Annamarie has to offer--and, while you're there, I hope you'll also leave her some comments and follow her blog both through Google/Blogger and (if you're a member of Facebook) through Networked Blogs as well.

Speaking of which. . .I hope you'll also follow me and sign my guestbook.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ron "Jaguardog" Drain!!!

It just seems as if I'm no sooner finished with wishing Honest Abe a very happy birthday, it's time to pay tribute to yet another one of my favorite people.  Below, find the tribute to him that was originally in e-mail form and is now right here...

From the desk of Ainsley Jo Phillips--shared on February 13, 2011...
It seems as if I've known Ron forever, even though it's only been about 10 1/2 years since our paths first crossed at Epinions. 

We became even closer right around 10 years ago at a now defunct writing site out of Australia called WrittenByMe. 

At the time, I was the guest-of-honor at a flaming party that had begun in late December at Epinions and had managed to follow me over to WrittenByMe.

Ron was one of the people who had courageously stuck his neck out in my defense at the risk of losing his own popularity.  He didn't have to do this, but he did--and he really pulled all of the stops out when doing so!!!

Don't believe for even a minute that I'm going to stop being grateful for his kindness and support at a time when I needed it the most!!!

Over the years, Ron has also had his ups and downs, and I've tried to be there for him, though I'm not really sure how helpful I was in the scheme of things.

Back then on WBM, he was always creating these trivia quizzes about music and TV, and I always enjoyed seeing how many answers I could get right. He always was very encouraging, whether I aced his quizzes, barely got anything right, or had results somewhere in between those two possibilities.

He and I aren't as active at Epinions as we once were (though I'm hoping to change that soon), but we still have several items on display for your reading enjoyment.  I've written there several times over the past several years and here recently, but Ron hasn't contributed anything new in awhile.

Perhaps, this little tribute will give him an encouraging poke that will send him over there to write something new at least once every ten days.  We can only hope!

Anyway, if you know Ron and bump into him anywhere, be sure to join me in wishing him a happy birthday and a wonderful year ahead!
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Honest Abe!!!

Note:  If you haven't already, please read my previous entry, Lifeboat Stewardship.  The following is a copy of what I sent out as an e-mail right before posting it here...

From the desk of Ainsley Jo Phillips--shared on February 12, 2011...
In honor of one of our greatest Presidents, I've made up this special tribute to him in the form of an e-mail.  Notice that the theme of Abraham Lincoln (born 202 years ago today and assassinated 146 years ago this coming April 15) has been made a big part of this entire e-mail.  The only thing that actually isn't, in some way, spotlighting Honest Abe is the link (my hyperlinked name) to my website.  Even it will be graced with a copy of this e-mail before the evening is over.

My Question Of The Moment is one of which I'm sure that he would approve, if he were here.

Since he was a fun person, he would even like the little party game I've provided.

The name of the party game is Cheap Imitation Crystal Ball.

If you have some concerns about this being a game about the occult, let me reassure you that it isn't.

It's just something fun that brings out your creative juices as you ask and answer questions.

I love it!

This is also my birthday month for being a member of  As of February 27, I will have been there for nine years, thanks to my goddaughter, Michelle. 

You see, this was the time when Epinions was in the process of giving the site an extreme makeover, so a whole bunch of us who were Jones-ing to write migrated to such places as the now defunct Australian site called WrittenByMe.  Even after Epinions began to revive, we still stayed there along with returning to Epinions.  When WBM was showing signs of not being around for very long, Michelle invited me to join WDC, and the rest is history!

I think that Cheap Imitation Crystal Ball was about the very first In & Out I came across at WDC, and I totally fell in love with it!

Anyway, in order to be a spectator (not participate actively in the game), all you have to do is to click on the hyperlink of its name placed a few paragraphs back and read the responses.  However, if you want to be a spectator, you will need to be a member of WDC. 

Unless you want to have an upgraded account (several options from which to pick there), it's absolutely free.  You can participate in such things as In & Outs, several forums, etc. and you can have a limited amount of your own writing talents displayed in your portfolio.

Of course, if you join using the link I've provided, I'll be getting the credit for bringing you there.  At this time, that consists of perks like a higher number shown beside my name in my portfolio, etc.  I'm not even sure how many people I need to bring in to go towards raising that number.  All I know is that several things figure into raising it, and, when enough of them happen, my number gets bigger.  Just recently, it went from 99 to 100!

But raising my number really isn't the big thing when it comes to asking for your participation re: Cheap Imitation Crystal Ball.  It's still pretty busy, but nothing like when it was first created, and I'd love to see it get at least that busy again.  Sometimes, a couple of days--even more--go by before the next participant shows up.  That's just TOO slow, if you ask me!

Once you get settled in, I hope that you'll also invite your own friends to join as referred by you and encourage them to play around with the Cheap Imitation Crystal Ball.  There is no pyramid scheme at WDC so far as I know, so this won't feather my nest any, but it will certainly not only get more people playing around with this ball of fun but, also, more people being a part of WDC and all of its many wonderful things to do in the way of reading, writing, and other creative activities.

On February 27, I'm hoping to have a very special celebration of my 9th WDC Birthday and will be sharing it at AJville.  Will remind you when it's closer to the time.

For now, scroll on down and celebrate Honest Abe's 202nd Birthday with me!--and don't forget to attend the BALL!!!

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lifeboat Stewardship

Within the past year or two, I read somewhere that the Titanic had lifeboat capacity enough to have saved everybody on the ship but that the people in the lifeboats were ordering the ones doing the rowing to hurry up and move away from the ship before too many people got on board and sank everybody.

Because of this ungrounded panic, lifeboats were pulling out that weren't even half-full.

Another one of the "facts" about the Titanic was debunked around the same time--perhaps, even in the same article.

I'd always heard that the lifeboat rule was that priority would be given to women and children with the men staying behind.

The actual order was that women and children in the upper class would have dibs on the lifeboats followed by the men who were in upper class.  After that, women and children in steerage class could board the lifeboats.  Men in steerage would be the last in line for this.

Of course, the captain would go down with his ship (though I'm sure that he would have been on a lifeboat, too, had the lifeboats been managed properly--and so would everybody in steerage).

There seems to be something similar going on when it comes to health care these days in the United States.

Some of us--due to such things as having enough insurance coverage or being taken care of by private foundations in their chosen hospitals--are fortunate enough never to feel the brokenness of health care firsthand.

However, there are others who have personally felt the effects of this in a very intense way.

Take this one 74 year old woman who recently held her first great-grandchild in her arms--and, at her age, should have been able to have seen him go off to school for the first time, if not actually see him graduate from high school.

There are times when doctors do all that they can and still lose their patients--some of those patients even younger than Mary's new great-grandson.  That's just one of the cold, hard facts of life, and I can accept it.  This doesn't mean that it's not sad, but it's acceptable, because all medical options have honestly been exhausted.

What sticks in my craw is when those options HAVEN'T been exhausted--and that the only reason(s) that they haven't been exhausted can be traced back to mismanagement of health care expenses and downright GREED!!!

This is what has happened in the case of Mary in the form of what I would consider to be major patient dumping due to a combination of age and poverty on her part.

Mary never set out to be poor.

She was a divorced mother of two who worked at a post office in Indianapolis for many years.  When she was younger, she had been able to lift heavy bags of mail whenever necessary.  

However, her main job for most of those years had been that of a postal clerk.  This meant spending most of the workday standing on her feet.

When she was in her late fifties (too young to actually retire with full benefits), she was given a choice:  to either go back to lifting heavy bags again or else take an early retirement.  By that time, she really wasn't up to doing this, so she had no choice but to retire--either that, or else stay on and TRY to do the job with the likelihood of ending up getting outright fired.

As a result of this, she ended up with a very small pension compared to what she would have received had she been allowed to continue working until the normal age for retirement.

She had been born and raised in a little community not far from Nashville, Tennessee, and, as her widowed dad was getting up in years, he suggested that she move back home, help care for him, and always have a place to live. Already, both of her sons had moved down there, and she also had a younger sister living in the area.

There is, likely, a certain amount of brokenness in the health care system no matter in which state you live, but there are some states that are worse than others for living when you're both sick and poor, and Tennessee is among those for many reasons.

It was in Tennessee where Mary found herself to not only be too old to be added to a transplant list but, also, to find that kidney dialysis wasn't an option for her--that is, it won't be an option if some cages aren't rattled in a mighty big hurry! 

It's my personal belief that Mary can still get the treatment that she needs if the right people learn of her situation.

Because she and her family value privacy when it comes to their presence on the Internet, I'm acting as a go-between.

For this reason, I have developed a blog-format website called Mary's Place.

Mary's Place will have a mission of not only keeping you up with Mary's progress and giving you the opportunity to help her, but it will also be a place where I'll share other stories of people falling through society's cracks (and, hopefully, many inspirational stories of help being provided).

I won't be set up to receive donations, so please don't send any to me.  However, whenever it applies, I'll be providing information on how to donate to this or that cause.

Remember that good stewardship when it comes to lifeboats (both literal ones (as in the case of the Titanic) and symbolic ones (as in the case of health, education, welfare, etc.) is when nobody is denied access to any lifeboat that will safely hold him/her and take him/her to a more hopeful shore!