Friday, February 28, 2014

What do you collect?

Last evening at dinner the hubby and I got into a discussion about hobbies, and interests, and having unusual collections - or desires for unique items.   He is in the market for another play car (a sports car with a great look and with power.)  I have told him many times that I just don't get the desire for a vehicle beyond it being efficient and dependable.  But, then I'm a girl…and I was not raised to think of cars as a fun hobby.  I don't get the "need for speed" either.  BUT - I love my hubby very much so his craving for new car toys is okay with me. Heck, it's better than a new wife, or having a craving for drugs!  Right?

We continued our talk about what others like to collect…  and we rattled off a variety of interests that people enjoy:  antiques, jewelry, unusual coins or other collections,  musical instruments, shoes, the newest golf club, and the list can go on and on.

He asked me what I liked…     what is it I would love to have more of, or upgrade to, or collect??

I thought…and thought…and thought…  

and nothing came to mind.   There was a time when I collected the little wooden Cats Meow houses (made in Ohio) that are miniature replicas of real buildings.  I got some that had special meaning to me.   But, I tired of it.  I have a nice collection of them I suppose.

I used to like to collect a Christmas ornament from each place we visited.  But, I have more ornaments now than I can put on my tree.  I tired of it.

It became apparent to me that I am not a physical collector of things.  I cannot tell you how many times I have walked through a store, or browsed at a flea market, etc., but not picked up one thing.  Now, don't feel sorry for me - my house is not empty.  I have plenty of "things" that make home comfortable and meaningful.

Last night's discussion made me realize that I find my joy not in buying something new - or collecting an item - or updating to the newest fangled electronic.   Where do I find my joy?  I find it in special "a-ha" moments, and for me they are often music related.   I LOVE live concerts and I love the tingles I get from a "moment in time" that I experience at them.  I "splurge" on those opportunities.  I go "all out" for a chance to be there up close and personal.  I think they are life's little gems.    Music theatre and country concerts, although very different, are two of my favorite joyful times.

The country music concert season is getting ready to start. I'm very excited! I go online and check out who is coming and when. I watch for pre-sales, and specials, and enter for a chance to win tickets!!  And... I have been waiting for the CMA Festival in June - really, I have been waiting since I left it last year. I love it that much!!    I am also looking forward to going to some other concerts in Charlotte and Raleigh with my daughters this summer.  Let it begin!

So, I don't collect things… I collect musical moments.  I am practically obsessed with it.  (Like my hubby is obsessed with getting his next car.)   Want to go to a concert?  I'm there with you.  Call me up.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How, why, and when to enjoy the times of your life.

Hello Hodgepodgers!   It's Tuesday and I have a few minutes right now to read and then respond to this week's questions.  I think the questions are pretty deep this week (well, except for #4).  I'll try not to make my answers too long.

Here we go…

1. What is something you'll never forget about the age you are right now? 

In general this is a pretty good time in my life.  I have my health, and I enjoy my life - where I live, my family, friends, and opportunities I get to participate in.  I can't complain about anything.  Life is good! (I think a shirt company could make that their slogan! lol)   But one thing in particular that is something I hope to remember from this time of my life is my relationship with my daughters.  They are "adults" in their 20's - and making their ways.  Neither is married yet so I still feel like a person they turn to occasionally for advice, and they also make time for family fun with hubby and me.    It's wonderful!

2.  What's a household chore you have never done?  How have you managed that?

I have racked my brain but can not come up with a household chore I haven't done.  There are a lot of them I WISH I hadn't done!  (No, not really…)   I clean bathrooms, and I dust and vacuum…and I do occasional "heavy duty" cleaning on carpets, etc. I take out the trash and I have cleaned the garage.  I load the dishes in the dishwasher, and I do the laundry.  I organize closets and drawers.  Am I missing a household duty?

3.  Does nature shape our personalities more than nurture?  Explain.

I think it's a combination of both.  A person can not escape being influenced with what is happening in their surroundings, and from the people who teach them about morals and values (and hopefully there is someone who does that!) But, also, that genetic in-born influence is also in-escapable.  I think most people agree that the older we all get, the more we realize this.  Like the old saying…  about looking in the mirror and seeing your mother - it happens!  It's genetics!   It's mother's mannerisms and hearing her words come out of your mouth when talking to your own children.  ha!  So, I feel the two - nature and nurture - work together to make each person unique….but also connected.   Each personality is a mix of the good and the bad from both nature and nurture.  Hopefully the good wins out.

4.  Friday (February 28th) is 'Something on a Stick Day.'  What's your favorite food eaten on a stick? 

No question about this answer…ice cream on a stick!  I love Dove bars. But, here's a plug (time for a commercial break) for some new ice cream on a stick.  My hubby works with Baskin-Robbins and is in the process right now of making a Baskin-Robbins ice cream on a stick (along with other items…bars, pints, etc.) and they are becoming available in supermarkets around the US. It's already in a few store chains in California, but each week the ice cream should show up more and more.  So, if you see Baskin-Robbins in your local grocery store frozen food section, give it a try!  I think you will really like it!!

5.  Which of your five senses do you treasure most,and why? 

The sense of sight is probably the one I would have a very hard time without - so it's the one I most treasure.  I would certainly miss not being able to see my family and friends, and the beauty of the world around me.  Second would be the sense of hearing.  Again, not being able to hear voices of loved ones - and not hearing music - would make me incredibly sad.

6.  What's the best music, theatre, or sporting venue you've been to?  What makes it great?  

My favorite music spot?  I enjoy going to the local "House of Blues" because they bring in wonderful talent - and you get to see the performer in a rather small setting.  They are "up close and personal" there - BUT to be really close up you have to be willing to stand.

My favorite theatre?  I have gone to some of the old theatres on Broadway in NYC - and you just can't beat it!  It's great to go into those beautiful historical buildings, that are ornate and beautiful, and see the best theatre performances in the world!

My favorite sporting venue?   Definitely William-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina - home of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks!! Since I root for them I love going early to tailgate, and then to watch all the hoopla pre-game.  They have a great marching band - and an awesome football team!  ( :

I know I was probably only supposed to answer one place - but I couldn't narrow it down.

7.  It's the last week of the month…in five words or less bid adieu to your February. 

Done with cold and ice!

8.  My random thought. 

I still watch "American Idol" religiously.  Do you?  I continue to be amazed by the untapped young singers who come to the show.  There are SO many people in our country who can really sing!  (I'm not one of them but I wish I was.)   If you have been watching, what do you think of Harry Connick Jr.?  I have always loved his musical style - and I appreciate that he has a good background in music, but he doesn't seem to agree with Keith and J-Lo that often and I think he says some cruel things unnecessarily.  When he tries to be funny, I cringe and think he falls short there.  Just me.  I will still watch.  I love Keith Urban - he does no wrong!

Have a good week everyone!!  See you in March!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's still February?

I think we are all glad that February is the shortest month of the year with all this crazy winter weather happening in so many places in our country.  Won't it be nice to turn the calendar to March?  (Joyce:  perhaps a future HP question… do you still use a paper calendar?  Or have you moved into the electronic world for keeping track of your schedule?)  

Until then, it's a February Hodgepodge list of questions…

1.  What's the biggest change since your childhood in the way people think or act? 

Somehow I have a feeling that my fellow bloggers and I will agree, and respond the same on this answer!  I think the "change" is a loosening or a total lack of respect for others.   I was first going to say it's about the way children are raised now, and the freedoms they have to be themselves without following rules.  No discipline.  No moral conscience for actions.  But!  I think it's a general problem - of all ages.   And, one could say if parents and older people had more respect for others (regardless of who they are and how they live) then I think it would filter down to the children.  So, really, it's a "change" (problem) with most everyone.   Aretha got it right when she sang about R - E - S- P -E - C -T!   We need more of it!

2.  The Olympic Biathlon involves cross country skiing, broken up with two or four rounds of target shooting.  Which part would stress you out more?  Or would you love both equally? 

Cross country skiing takes endurance with great strength, and target shooting requires precision in aim, and steadiness.  Both challenging!   It's a strange "sport" that I'm guessing came from the past when people actually had to hunt for food.    I don't think I would "love" (as the question states) either of them… but, many people know I have a real aversion to anything that shoots.  So, I would not want to do that part of the race for sure.

3.  February is National Canned Food Month…what is your most often purchased canned food item?  What was the last can you opened? 

My most often purchased canned food is green beans because our church is responsible for the canned vegetables at the community Food Pantry.    The last can I opened?  I made some ham in the crock pot and put some canned diced pineapple on top with a little brown sugar.  I also use canned tomato sauce often for chili, and other wintery dishes.

4.  What river (anywhere in the world) would you most like to cruise? 

I have had a few friends cruise down the Rhine River through Germany and they loved it.  And, I have been to Germany (but not cruising) along the Mosel River and it was beautiful!!  It's the area of the storybook town of Bernkastel - along wine country.    So, yes, I think that a German river cruise would be wonderful!

5.  It's the middle of the night and you can't sleep… what do you do?  Count sheep? Toss and turn? Watch television?  Or do you get up and do something productive? 

I am blessed to be a very good sleeper!  Rarely do I wake up at night and not be able to roll over and fall right back asleep.  But… if I have a bit of difficulty, all I need to do is turn on my bedside lamp and read for a few minutes.  Usually, the next thing I know, it's morning and I have been sleeping with the book on my chest.  

6.  How important is keeping your cool?  

Oh wow!   VERY IMPORTANT!!!   For many reasons…  first, for your own health. Hot headed people often have high blood pressure and other issues that come with it.     People who have trouble keeping their cool and talking rationally are not easy to be around and often lose friends.  But, most of all… people who get worked up in a situation often react with anger… and that anger can lead to horrible circumstances.  We all know of cases of road rage, and of shootings from an escalated fight.  I think right now of the Michael Dunn case in Florida.  He did not keep his cool.   That's just the most recent nationally recognized tragedy.  But, it happens way too often.  

How do we teach people to keep their cool?  How do we stop them from acting out?  Perhaps it goes back to question 1, and the need for more emphasis on respect for each individual, especially when they are different or act differently than us.    "Do unto others are you would have them do unto you."

7.  White lie, wave the white flag, white knuckle it, white wash a situation, or white as a sheet…
which phrase could most recently apply to your own life in some way?  

None specifically apply to me, so I will say "white as a sheet" because I have been out of the sun these past months.  I ache for warmth, and sunshine, and outdoor living.  I need a little color in these cheeks!   Come on March!!

8.  My random thought. 

I wrote in my last post about my darn allergies giving me fits right now.  I'm allergic to trees and they are starting to pollinate in these parts.  That's a good thing because it's a sign of Spring coming.  But I'm wondering from the other seasonal sufferers out there what medicine is the "go to" drug to help alleviate your symptoms.  I usually rely on Benadryl.   But, right now I'm willing to try something new and different.  Suggestions please!  

Have a wonderful week ahead… as we edge closer and closer to March!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Part One: Trees. Part Two: Allergies.


As everyone knows the weather the past couple of weeks has been unusual so say the least!

 Down here in the lowcountry we had an ice storm on Wednesday, one like I had never seen before.  One like few people had seen.  Within hours the trees were covered with thick ice!  It was pretty but it turned out to also be very dangerous as trees started getting pulled down by the weight of the ice on them, particularly on the always-leafed live oaks, and the tall Carolina pines.

I was home and heard trees cracking and saw large branches fall in my yard and in my neighbors' yards.  Some fell right outside my window.  It was loud - and it was scary!  Even my dog kept barking.   My home sits in a grove of old live oak trees with Spanish moss hanging from them.  They are very "southern looking"and beautiful!   They have been here for hundreds of years.

The power went out all around the area - thankfully, not here at my house.  But, in a matter of just a few hours the lowcountry turned into what some called a "war zone" with trees and limbs down, and debris everywhere.  Others said it compared to hurricane damage they had seen in these parts in the past.

Today I'm blogging about the aftermath - and what it looks like as everyone cleans up their properties and they try to get back to normal.  Everywhere you drive around here along the roads you see broken limbs.  Most have been pushed out of the roads but it will take days or weeks to get them picked up.  In my neighborhood we got an email from our homeowners association telling us the neighborhood lawn maintenance company has offered to pick up debris left curbside.   So now, every front yard has piles of broken limbs and sawed trunks.   Again, we have been told to be patient for it might take awhile for everything to be picked up.

We have a place along the Black River in the county. It's rural and therefore we are on our own in terms of clean up.  The place had even more damage than our house.  We had a whole tree come down, plus we had many large pines lose massive branches. The weight of the ice on the pine needles cracked the branches and sent the limbs coming down like a missile.  Some of the branches stabbed into the ground deeply.  Other branches scattered everywhere, including landing on our beautiful camellia bush.

So, for the past two days Hubby and I spent hours chainsawing, and moving branches, and chopping, and  hauling some of it away.  The rest we hope to slowly burn away in our fire pit.


I enjoy being in the outdoors and getting in some physical labor and burning calories.  You know, working the land!   So, the tree removal was hard, tiring labor - but it felt good being out there.

UNTIL….   the allergies kicked in - and when they did they kicked in big time!

 I was tested many years ago for all kinds of things in the environment that sets off my allergy symptoms.   My symptoms?  I experience cracking, plugged ears, an itchy tongue, a plugged nose - at the same time it runs non-stop, itchy eyes, shortness of breath, and tiredness.    When I was tested I found out that pretty much all kinds of trees and grasses can set me off.   Oh boy.

Over time I have learned to take a Benadryl when I start feeling the symptoms and I have also learned to live with the  effects of the drug in my body.  People think I fall asleep easily… I do, because I often have either the allergy making me tired or the drug.  Or both!!   When I lived in New Jersey I broke down and sought help from an allergist and got shots for about ten years.  I started out with 2 in each arm, twice a week.   I was able to taper back over time and not go as often as my body got used to the allergen in it.

Over all, I think the shots helped me build up a resistance. I don't get allergy "attacks" as often as I used to get them.  But, when I do get myself into an overload situation it can still be pretty bad.

So, that's where I am today.  I'm stuck inside - on a nice day - keeping myself away from the trees and whatever else outdoors is making my body react.  I need at least a day to let me nose calm down, to clear my head, to stop the cracking inside it!

I know it's an annoyance. In the whole realm of things it's nothing life threatening.  I am fortunate that I don't have more serious ailments or diseases.

But today I sit inside - on the computer, reading a book, and blowing my nose…   and complaining.

Thank you blog for allowing me to do it here.  And God bless anybody who has read this all the way to the end.  lol   Perhaps you are an allergy sufferer too and can relate.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A penny for your thoughts!

Well, here in the south we are having another freakish "winter storm" with rain, sleet, some ice, and then snow in the highlands.  Thankfully, I am on the coast so we are supposed to stay out of the worst of it today.  But, regardless, it's cold - and wet out.  It's another good day to be indoors and blog.

Here's this week's Hodgepodge questions with my answers.

1.  What makes love last? 

Prepare!  It's a short four word question - but a complicated long answer follows!  

And truly, if we KNEW what made love last then our divorce rates would go down.  Spousal abuse would go away.  The world would be a happier place all around!

Here's my take on it.  Romantic love starts as an amazing time of feeling "high" when with another person.  Everything he/she says or does is magic.  It's exciting and "living in the moment" is wonderful!   But, that feeling can't last forever - and it doesn't.  

Another kind of love has to take over.  I think then it becomes "real love" - the one we pledge in our wedding vows to have…to love, honor, cherish… to go through good times and bad times together.  Real love happens through the passing of time. Real love comes with sharing experiences together.  Making memories together.

Too many people get stuck wanting the first magic love all the time.  When it doesn't last they give up.  They move on.  It's a shame…because the "real love" hasn't even had a chance yet.   Real love can not be selfish.  It can not "taking, without giving" and it has to be ready to accept the bad days.  Real love has to look to the future together.

2.  The Beatles made their US debut fifty years ago this week. As you a fan?  If so, what's your favorite Beatles tune? 

Check out my blog post right before this one.  I wrote about my love of the Beatles after watching Sunday night's Grammy Special honoring them.  I won't repeat everything I wrote there but I will say "I love you - yeah, yeah, yeah!!"    My favorite Beatles song?  That's a bit like asking my favorite child, isn't it?  ha!  I have many favorites.  I think my favorite album though is "Norwegian Wood" …   I can't limit it to one song. I'd be a fool on a hill!

3.  Valentine's Day - your thoughts?  Do you celebrate in any way?  Do anything special for the people you love?  Expect anything special from the people you love? 

I like Valentine's Day… it's nice.  Ha!  I'm a believer of sharing love everyday, so waiting until one special day seems silly.  But, then again, it's never too much to celebrate love!   Quoting a Beatle…"All we need is love!"     I give my hubby a card - and if I can I try to make something special or do something special for him on the day.   He always gets me roses  -which I tell him every year NOT to do…  but he does anyway.   When my daughters were young children I gave them little gifts and cards and made more of a big deal about the day.

I have to mention - last night I babysat and the sweet little girl and I said we would exchange valentines on Friday, Valentine's Day.  I think I'm most excited about that!  Picking out a card for her… and seeing her smile!  (She asked "would I get one just for her alone, and not for her & her brother?"  I said YES!!  ( :  )

4.  Steak or burger…you have to choose.  Now that that's settled, how do you take it? 

90 percent of the time I will take a steak!  I mean, who won't?  I will take a filet please, cooked  medium… with a little mushroom sauce on top!  YUMM!!!     Occasionally, and depending on the situation, a hamburger cooked on the grill, on a bun with all the condiments is certainly really good too!

5. February 12th is the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States.  Lincoln is quoted as saying "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test your character give him power."  Do you agree?  Why or why not? 

That Abraham Lincoln was a smart man!!!   Yes, I agree.  Just look at our Congress members today and think about how they use/mis-use the power we have given them.  Look how pompous the people given power can become!

We all go through life and come upon adversity at times.  Some people handle it better than others. True.  But, those who are given power can effect the lives of so many - for the good OR for the bad.  We have seen it go both ways in history.

6. Honest Abe's image is featured on the US penny (1 cent coin) so I'm wondering…  What do you do with your pennies?  It's been suggested that the US should stop making the penny, and two bills have been introduced proposing just that, but neither were approved.  What say you? 

I think in time the penny will go out of circulation.  Perhaps just on it's own - without the need of legislation.  It's easier to "round up or down" and deal with nickels and dimes.  With inflation the value of the penny gets less and less anyway.

What do I do with my pennies?   I try to use them when possible because I don't like to have the weight of pennies weighing my handbag down.  So, if I'm out paying cash somewhere I try to pay "to the penny" if possible.  (If I'm in a hurry - out comes the $20 I just got at the ATM).   I also keep a coin jar in my bedroom and empty all my coins from time to time into it…then take the jar to one of the coin counting machines you can find in most grocery stores now. I get the receipt and use it for buying groceries.

7.  Do you think pop culture deserves serious study? 

Yes, I do…in a sociology class and in a music class.  But, "pop culture" is a pretty broad term.  I think of it from the 60's and 70's - but maybe this question is directed more to what is happening now.   So, then…no.  I think a decade has to go by first - to look back and to see how the "pop culture" of that time influenced events.  

8.  My random thought. 

I'm guessing that a lot of the random thoughts will be about the Olympics.  Mine is today.

 I have not been especially excited about the Winter Games and have not planned to sit and  watch them non-stop on TV.  One reason:  I get SO nervous watching… downhill skiing, speed skating, the flips of the crazy snowboarders, even the figure skaters are ALL very frightening to watch.  One slight mishap, one little wrong turn of the ski, or one shaky landing can turn an athlete from a winner to a loser. (I know, I know - they are ALL winners.)  It's so hard to watch!

The years and years of training!  I certainly hope the athletes have their heads on straight and can deal with the challenge of the moment, and the acceptance of the outcome.  

Stay warm - and dry out there blogging friends.  Ole man Winter is not done with us yet!   Have a good week!!

Monday, February 10, 2014


Some things are important to keep going generation after generation.

One of them is the Beatles - who they were, what they wrote and sang, how they changed the world, and the timeless beauty they brought to the world.

Last night was the "Grammy's Tribute to the Beatles" on the anniversary of their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago!  It was a beautiful celebration with the remaining two Beatles sitting in the front row: Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.  George Harrison's wife was there.  His son played guitar on stage.  Yoko Ono was there - dancing in her unique way… and Sean Lennon.  (Or was that Julian? I think so.  He looked SO much like John!)

Talented musicians and singers from different music genres honored the Beatles and performed some of their songs.  Movie stars and others were in the audience knowing they were witness to a unique moment.  Paul & Ringo each did a couple of songs on their own, then finished up the special together.  Ringo, always the "under-rated" Beatle, was energetic, sang well - and played his drums.  I especially liked him on "Boys."   Paul was Paul…perfect!  He still had his voice - age has not effected it.  He played guitar and piano with ease.   He still charmed me!

Now, I know there are icons from each generation.  Frank Sinatra and the big band sound was one.  And Elvis (although I never understood his fame as much.)  Both of them had voices.  But they didn't play instruments and they didn't WRITE the music.

The Beatles did it all.

They broke traditions and created new sounds; they wrote songs that we hear all the time still today (and always will).

Now, you know I love country music these days.  Why?  In a way it's for some of the same qualities the Beatles perfected:  talented musicians, singers, and writers.  Lyrics have always been important to me.  The Beatles wrote lyrics that we ALL can sing!   We know the words - we love them.

During last night's performances I was taken back to the days I first heard the where I was in my life.  Remembering the times I heard the songs on black vinyls, with friends, knowing the Beatles were there as I grew up.

When my daughters were very young and in carseats I made a point to play Beatles CD's on long car trips…to make sure they grew up knowing the Beatles.  It was important to me that they learn about them… who they were, to know the songs they wrote and sang.

One day I hope they do the same -  because the Beatles will survive the test of time.  The genius, the influence, the connection with the Beatles will live on!   Generation after generation.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Numbers are not my friends!

I finally admit it.  I have never been good with numbers and I have little interest in them.  

Tell me something about a population, or a price, or a percentage, or a calendar date - and it's in one ear and out the other.  

I have beaten myself up about it for years.  I have not been able to figure out why my brain just doesn't store numbers and then recall them when needed.  But, it doesn't.   It's a secret I have had for a long time…but now, I'm shouting out loud "I can't remember numbers!!"   Aw, that's freeing… to let people finally know.  I'm coming out of the mathematics closet!

Now, I can add, subtract, multiply, and divide….with pencil and paper.  Thankfully I can survive enough in this world with the number knowledge I have.

But, beyond that I can not keep track of numbers.  Ask me what I spent at the grocery store yesterday.  I don't know.  Ask me how much the fence bid I recently got is.  I don't know.  Ask me what channel in HD my favorite shows are on.  I don't know.

I am left-handed, which makes me right-brained, and I think it is the creative side/the artistic side of the brain.  Right?  So, I have always enjoyed visual things, and hearing music. I love doing crafts and enjoy the beauty of nature.  I play music (not as well as I'd like) and I love listening (deeply) to the instruments of music and into lyrics.   I do excel in the artistic - but I also know I'm no genius of the arts.  But it's what I prefer, and it's what brings me happiness.

Numbers - not so much.    So, I apologize to family and friends when I get a date wrong.  It happens frequently.  I apologize for mis-speaking on something I heard on the news with numbers.  I don't mean to "lie" about it.  I just don't retain numbers.  

As Popeye said "I yam who I yam" and that's all I yam.

I accept myself as I am - and I'm not about numbers!

(Next week…  my blog about not remembering names!  ha!!! )

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Winter and sports

Happy February all!  Here's a little Hodgepodge break from the routine… I hope you enjoy my answers and if you want to respond too, please feel free.  I'd love to read your thoughts!

1. Are we always responsible for our actions?  Are there any exceptions? 

My first quick answer was "yes, of course"!  And for most people, and for most cases, I'd say that we are responsible for what we do.  Not only are we responsible, we have to accept/take the consequences from them.

But, there are certain people or situations that are exceptions to the rule….the mentally challenged, or young children are two that come to mind.

2.  Has anyone from your home town become famous? 

It's hard for me to answer this because I have a few home towns.  I spent my childhood in a few places - Cleveland Heights, and Bucyrus, Ohio - and then Timonium, Maryland.   Both Cleveland Heights and Timonium are rather large suburbs and I suppose somebody came from those spots that became famous, but I can't think of names.  Bucyrus is much smaller in population.  Again, I don't know of anyone who became well known from there.   If anybody reading this can tell me, that would be nice!

3.  January was National Slow Cooker month.  Do you own a slow cooker/crock pot?  Did you use it last month? What's a favorite dish you make using a slow cooker or crock pot? 

Yes, I used my slow cooker last month - a couple of times.  I baked ham with teriyaki sauce & pineapples in it, and I made chili in it.   Chili is probably my favorite meal I make in it when the weather is cold.  I like using my slow cooker IF I think early enough in the day what I want to make.  I love the way I can "make it and forget it" all day…and I love the aromas it provides!

4.  How do you feel about private companies collecting data about you?  

I am guessing I am in the minority with my feelings on this - but I do not mind that companies collect info about me, as long as it's not "hacking" personal credit card and social security numbers.  But, if a company is trying to learn more about me as a consumer, then more power to them!  That's what marketing is all about.  I do not mind that Facebook picks up my "likes" and then I see ads on the side that relate to them.  In fact I think it's rather clever!

All companies want to make goods or provide services that will be wanted, and they look for information to make it happen.  Pre-computers there were focus groups, and questionnaires to fill out.  Neilsen TV Rating Company has been collecting data for years to better serve their customers and advertisers.   So, the ways of gathering info has changed, but not the fact that every company wants to know who their customer is and how best to serve them.

5.   The Games of the 2014 Winter Olympics kick off with their opening ceremony this coming Friday… will you be watching?  Which Winter Olympic event would you most like to see in person?  Have you ever been to Russia?  Any desire to go, Olympics or otherwise? 

First, I may catch a bit of the opening ceremony but it is SO LONG and too much hoopla for me.  Friday evening I am out until about 9:00pm and I haven't checked to see what time the ceremony starts. If I'm back home and it's still on, I will watch a little of it.

 What event would I like to see in person?  Well, I have no desire to see ANY event in person but I enjoy the ice skating competition the most.

Yes, I have been to St. Petersburg, Russia.  My younger daughter took Russian language in high school and college and as part of her studies she spent time in Russia three different times.  The last time she was with a program for the summer so hubby and I traveled over to visit her and see the sights of St. Petersburg.  We had a great time! The city is beautiful! We felt safe, and enjoyed the culture very much.

I would not feel comfortable in and around Soochi for the olympics.  Sad but true.  The terrorism threats are concerning for sure.  I know security will be as tight as possible but it's just a scary time to be there.   Saying that, I would encourage anyone wanting to see Russia to go. It's a huge country and there are amazing sights to see and much history!

6.  Share a good or bad sports related memory from your childhood or teen years. 

I'm scratching my head a bit on this question.  I did a few sports in school:  girls' basketball and volleyball, and ran some track.  But I can't think of an exceptional fete or moment, or even an extremely embarrassing one (I guess that's good!)    I was in the high school marching band and in a small Ohio town Friday nights were football game nights in the fall.  It was a "town event."  We marched through the heart of town to the football stadium.  As a band member we worked each week on halftime shows, and we sat in the bleachers as the "pep band" too.  Those days going to home AND away games are good memories for me.

Oh, one May our high school marching band went to Indianapolis for the Indy 500 and we marched in the big parade through the city, and ended up at the famous track - and marched all the way around it.  That was pretty cool!

7.  What's a must have song for you on a work-out play list? 

I am a big country music fan so I usually turn on CMT and watch music videos while I treadmill it.  One song?  I suppose something very upbeat and energetic like "Country Girl Shake It for Me" by Luke Bryan!

8.  My random thought. 

My thoughts are with all of you in the Midwest and Northeast that continue to get snow upon snow and frigid temperatures.  This is certainly turning into a "classic winter" season.    Hang in there.

My other random thought….  what a disappointment the Super Bowl turned out to be!  I was happy to see the Seahawks win but certainly had hoped for a closer scoring game.  The commercials were again mostly wacky, and at times I wasn't sure what company was doing the advertising.    It truly amazes me that companies pay millions for commercials that don't really enhance their company or promote buying their product!  But they do!!!

Have a good, safe, and warm week all!