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8.31.2010

Too Many Books?

Although it seems as though it would be impossible to have too many books, there comes a time when every book hoarder has to part with a few. Recently, I took the advice of a friend and signed up for a website called Paperback Swap. It's a site where you can list books that you'd like to trade. There are guidelines for the shape they must be in, but it's easy to list them by the ISBN numbers on the back of the book.

I thought I would share the info with you on Tuesday's everyday ideas.

By listing ten books when you start out, you can receive one bonus credit to be used towards any available book you'd like to order. When someone requests a book on your list of books, you package the book and mail it out at your cost. When the recipient logs in and confirms that the book has been received, you'll receive a credit that can be used towards ordering a book from another member. If the book you'd like is not available, there is a wish list feature where you can be on a waiting list (if it isn't unreasonably long).

In the first 2 weeks, I traded 20 books! That means for the cost of postage for sending out the books people requested from me (around $2.36 per book), I can obtain a "new" book to read. Yes, that's a lot of books to wrap and mail, but they have printable labels and you can purchase postage online if you'd prefer not to drive to the post office.

Isn't that just perfect for book lovers on a budget? Think you'd like to try it out? Follow my links and I'll receive credit for a referral. try Paperback Swap for yourselfTrade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.


Are you really into DVD's? They have a Swap-A-DVD too.
 



Don't forget to check back and let me know what you think. 



8.30.2010

Let's Do Lunch

I've just finished reading "Let's Do Lunch" by Roger Troy Wilson, a story about how the author lost 230 pounds to go from 425, to 220 and the plan he devised that helped him lose the weight.

I suppose you saw the blog title and hoped I was inviting you to lunch. I wish I could do lunch with every one of my readers. Wouldn't that be fun? For now, we'll have to have a virtual lunch date. You at your computer and me at mine. I'll work on my next blog post for you, and you can check out my review of Roger Troy Wilson's book.

Let's Do Lunch- My Review

“Eat all the calories and carbs you want to lose weight.” That’s how Roger Troy Wilson subtitled his book “Let’s Do Lunch. It seemed a little too good to be true, so when I received a copy of the book from Thomas Nelson publishers for review, I was eager to discover this unbelievable possibility.

Roger Troy Wilson is a success story, evidence that his plan does work. And the book is filled with testimonials from others who have successfully lost large amounts of weight with the plan. However, the subtitle is a little bit misleading. After all, once I began reading the book it was clear that I would not be allowed to eat ALL the calories and carbs I wanted. For instance, Wilson makes it clear that the Let’s Do Lunch plan cuts out bread, pasta, potatoes, and white rice. That’s a significant amount of carbs. There’s no cereal either. So that's not exactly eating all you want.

What the follower is allowed to have is an unlimited amount of fruit. In fact, supper is all fruit, as much as you want. Lunch is the big meal of the day with the bulk of the day’s protein, and breakfast pretty much fruit and a source of protein.

I know it would be much more helpful if I were writing a review having tried Wilson’s plan. However, I cannot afford to purchase enough fruit to follow the plan accurately. Although it begins with eating limitless amounts of fruit in order to cut the craving for sugar, in the end, Wilson’s plan boils down to a controlled calorie plan. From the food plans and recipes in the back, it’s light on fat, light on carbs, and light on calories. Although he says the reader does not have to exercise, the plan is still a calories in, energy out balance.

What the plan is good for, is the person who has massive cravings for sweets. Testimonials from Wilson’s followers is enough evidence to prove that the plan diminishes craving for sugar and fatty food. That in itself is a good benefit.

If you’re looking for a plan to get you started in a better direction and you’re tired of everything you’ve tried, you have nothing to lose by checking out “Let’s Do Lunch”. You’ll find a simple description of the plan, daily meal plans, and recipes—everything you need to get started. And you’ll find group support on the message boards on the accompanying website www.letsdolunch.com.

Note: I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson publishers in exchange for my fair an honest review.

Photo of the Week

The bees do what they were created to do. How often do we try doing everything but what God designed us to do before we finally give in and discover His peace?

8.17.2010

Edit Your Own Photos and Save $$

For this Tuesday's everyday idea, I'd like to encourage you to save money and explore home photography. With today's cameras and the free editing programs available on the internet and via free software, almost anyone can be a better-than-average photographer. I recently read a statistic from a photographer that said the average senior high student spends between $700 and $1200 on senior pictures. I almost choked on the number.

For many students, that's how much they'd spend on their first car, and I know my sons would rather have wheels that an airbrushed photo on the wall. So, with my small $160 Kodak and a good editing program, I've set out to save money as my first son enters his senior year in a few weeks.

This past weekend, we had some time to kill, so I brought the camera with and we spent a little time at a nearby park snapping shots. I know we will do some more in a few weeks, but this gave us a good start. And a few weeks ago, I shot senior photos for another friend of his. Let me show you what I was able to do with a mediocre camera.

The first picture is the unedited shot, taken in a dark woods on a rainy day using a low light setting on my Kodak and no flash.
 With a little editing using Picnik, an online program, the picture has drama. I darkened the edges, corrected the color, and added text. Then I brought the picture into a free program that I downloaded called GIMP and added the light you see coming from the side.

You can even clone areas if you don't like something about the picture. Notice the picture below where I have added the corner on the bottom of the dress. Very easy to do!
The secret to taking your own pictures is editing them. You don't have to have the world's best camera if you have the right editing software. Just be sure when you edit that you save them in high quality and you'll be happy with your prints.

Here is another example of what editing can do. I took this picture of my son this past weekend.
I like the pose, but it's a little washed out because we took it during the brightest time of the day. With a few tweaks, this is how it turned out.


I used Picnik.
Step 1: Auto color correct
Step 2: Darken the exposure slightly and increase the contrast a little
Step 3:Touch up blemishes with blemish feature
Step 4: Use the airbrush and wrinkle remover to fix lint on shirt and airbrush harsh lines.
Step 5: Darken exposure slightly more.
Step 6: Add a "fancy focus" where the subject is in focus but background is not.

Of course,  you can do whatever you wish to suit your own taste and it's easy to undo any move you make so it's fun to play. I've probably added a little too much color, but that's easy to fix!

You can upload your photos to one of several companies or department stores for developing and either pick them up in the store or have them arrive by mail.

I'll leave you with one last little secret for getting a bargain price on your own photos. If you're looking for wallets, the cheapest is to design a 4x6 picture "canvas" in your photo editing program such as Photoshop with two large wallets (4x3) or 4 small wallets (2x3) pasted onto the page. Then develop that as a 4x6 and cut it apart. With a corner rounder punch (purchased from a scrapbook or craft store for a dollar or two) you can round the corners.

Need me to back up a little? Okay. Open your photo program (you probably got one with your camera on a CD). Open a new document. Set the canvas size to 4x6 inches. Then add one photo and then the other resizing them to fit side by side within that canvas size. Don't worry is some hangs off the edge. Just be aware that it will not appear in your printed photo if it hangs over. Save it. Then upload it or take it on a disk to get it developed as a 4x6.

Here's an example of the 4x6 I had printed of my boys a few years ago:

I added the year on the corner with my photo program.

I hope this inspires you to play around a little bit with your own pictures and do some editing. Who knows, maybe you can save $700 too.

8.11.2010

Book Excerpt from Peggy Nelson

In the last of the guest posts from Peggy Nelson, she describes their whirlwind romance. If you'd like to read more of Peggy and Byron's story, check out Life with Lord Byron: Laughter, Romance, and Lessons Learned from Golf's Greatest Gentleman.

Life with Lord Byron: Laughter, Romance, and Lessons Learned from Golf's Greatest GentlemanTeeing Off with Byron
By Peggy Nelson

Other than my new penchant for prevaricating, the breakfast was delightful, and soon we were on our way to the first tee at NCR Country Club, where the pro, Jeff Steinberg, was waiting for us. I had at least had the good sense to alert him that Byron was coming and to let him know not to noise it about, because I certainly did not want a crowd around for my first drive in front of Byron Nelson and possibly the entire membership, their spouses, and a gaggle of children.
   
As luck (and the Lord) would have it, I hit a whopper of a drive, for me at least. It sailed high off the elevated tee and far down the hill, tailing off just a touch to the right and a few feet into the rough. Byron looked a little surprised, though my subsequent play lived up to my earlier bad expectations. I remember very little of that round, other than just enjoying being with him and wishing I could play better. But he did not seem to care about my score at all, though he did show me a great little chipping technique I could do with my six-iron when I was close to the green but a ways from the pin. It has come in handy many times since.
   
About the rest of his stay, I don’t recall a lot. The Bogey Busters event that year was played at a different course, and naturally I went out to follow my hero. As it happened Byron was paired with none other than Johnny Mathis, the singing legend and a great part of my high school fantasy life from twenty years before. Wow! Here I was with two celebrities, pretty tongue-tied, and just living in a state of suspended animation, wondering to myself, Will I ever recover from this out-of-body experience?
   
By the time Byron flew back to Texas, we both knew we had the start of a wonderful friendship . . . that was rapidly becoming far more serious. The phone calls and letters came and went more often now, and soon we were talking about marriage, even though this was just July and August, only a couple of months after we had reconnected five years after our first meeting.

Excerpt taken with permission from Life with Lord Byron: Laughter, Romance and Lessons Learned From Golf’s Greatest Gentleman by Peggy Nelson (2010) available at: www.byronnelson-golfpro.com

Now Booking Interviews and Book Reviews. Contact:
Kathy Carlton Willis Communications
956-642-6319
WillisWay@aol.com

8.10.2010

Mr Romance by Peggy Nelson

Today's post is another guest post from Peggy Nelson. I'm inspired by how much Peggy and Byron loved one another and how they made everyday things like one month anniversaries a grand event. I think they are such a sweet example of everyday romance. I hope you enjoy "Mr. Romance."

Mr. Romance
By Peggy Nelson

There were moments in our nearly twenty years together when I would fall far short of Byron’s or even my own standards of patience, perseverance, and several other virtues. When I would wonder aloud to him about how he managed to put up with me, or what he saw in me in the first place, he would sometimes say, “I saw what you could be.” Isn’t that amazing? He had such a gift for not only seeing the best in people but helping them, often in some unspoken way, to bring it out, and to become better people just because they had been around him, even for a little while. You’re beginning to see, I think, why I have always felt that I’m an extraordinarily blessed woman.
   
One of the most wonderful signs of Byron’s love was something he did for our second anniversary. Unbeknownst to me he had gone out to Preston Trail where there was a display of some of his medals and other small mementos and asked if he could replace the 1937 Masters Gold Medal with another one he had. They cooperated, fortunately, and he then took that precious piece of history to our jeweler and had it made into a beautiful pendant and gave it to me. It truly brought tears to my eyes, because I knew that was the most important tournament in his career to him, so I understood how much it signified of not only his love for me but also his trust that I could prove worthy of such a gift.
   
You may wonder what our days and weeks and months and years together were like. We quickly developed a comfortable pattern of normalcy. When we were at home, we had breakfast together, and then Byron would do the dishes and go out to his shop for some woodworking. He would come in later for lunch, then go back to the shop or maybe to play golf with friends in Dallas or Fort Worth. We typically had a fairly early dinner and relaxed in the evenings together. At first I remember Byron had been so used to going to bed early while Louise was ill that he thought 9:30 was about the right time to go to sleep. But he had also been used to getting up at 5:30 or 6 to take care of Louise. Fortunately, we were soon able to change that schedule by a couple of hours.
   
Soon after we celebrated our first one-month anniversary, Byron announced his next goal was to make it to one hundred months, which we gleefully celebrated with an elegant dinner at the Four Seasons. The monthly anniversaries continued until we got to ten years, then he wanted to get to two hundred months, which we did. Each month was sweeter than the one before, until finally, just eleven days before he went to heaven, we celebrated number 238 at the Olive Garden, another of our favorite restaurants. How we delighted in each other!
   
When we were driving to Dallas, Fort Worth, Kerrville or wherever, we held hands. Byron’s were always so warm, and of course, if you ever got to shake hands with him, you knew his hands were really big. In fact, when we were first married, his grip on mine as we drove along would slowly, gradually, get tighter and tighter until I would need to shake mine a little bit to restore the circulation. One time when I did that, he apologized and said, “I guess I’m trying to make sure you’re not going to go back to Ohio.” Fat chance.
   
As everyone who knew Byron well would agree, he was a born encourager. He found ways to express his appreciation and enjoyment of others and did so at every opportunity. Above the other compliments from him, my very favorite was when he would say, “When you look at me, your eyes sparkle and dance!” It said so much about the feeling that flowed between the two of us. He really did light up my life so beautifully that it was the most natural thing in the world to reflect that light right back to him. I always had the same reaction when we had been separated even for as little as an hour at church, if I was helping with a children’s class while he was in the adult Bible study. When I would catch sight of him again, my heart would beat faster, and I’d say to myself,There he is!
   
We had so many pet names for each other that some folks might find it a bit silly, but we enjoyed and used every single one: Honeypot, Queen of All Queens, Sleeping Tiger, Adorable Darling, Angeldoll, Cuddlebear, and the like. And of course, on a more formal note, we occasionally addressed each other as Mr. Nelson and Mrs. Nelson just for the sheer joyful fun of it.
   
I felt so secure, so completely cherished and appreciated in every way with Byron. His praise of my every little accomplishment, or sometimes just the way I walked, was unceasing. It occurred to me that, if we could only hear what God is saying to us, it would be like that, too—constant praise and gentle guidance when we needed it. Or occasionally it might be a stronger no when a temptation gets a little too strong for us to handle by ourselves.

Excerpt taken with permission from Life with Lord Byron: Laughter, Romance and Lessons Learned From Golf’s Greatest Gentleman by Peggy Nelson (2010) available at: www.byronnelson-golfpro.com

Thanks for guest-posting on the Faith Creativity Life blog this week, Peggy!

Now Booking Interviews and Book Reviews. Contact:
Kathy Carlton Willis Communications
956-642-6319
WillisWay@aol.com

8.09.2010

Photos of the Week

Are you enjoying the sunshine? I love sunflowers. So for my picture of the week, I've chosen some from my flower collection. The birds sit right on them just as if I'd put little bird feeders all around my yard.

8.04.2010

How to Play Golf With Your Spouse

Over the next week or so, I'll be posting several articles by guest blogger, Peggy Nelson. Each is an excerpt from her book, Life with Lord Byron: Laughter, Romance and Lessons Learned From Golf’s Greatest Gentleman and I thought you might enjoy Peggy's story. These excerpts are used with permission from Peggy and her publicist. You'll find the biography of Byron and Peggy Nelson on Peggy's website.

For creativity Wednesday, I thought it appropriate to look at how creativity affects our relationships. It isn't just about crafts and decorating. Sometimes creativity is all about finding new ways to approach something and finding creative ways to connect with our spouses. In "How to Play Golf With Your Spouse," Peggy shares how her husband discovered a way to resolve a conflict in their marriage. 


How To Play Golf With Your Spouse
By Peggy Nelson

Byron showed his sensitivity to my feelings and moods in many ways, and of course one of the most critical was golf. Having been a teacher for more than fifty years by then, he realized women need to be treated differently, and he was always gentle in his suggestions as we played together during the first year of our marriage. However I was something of a special case. I just knew I could figure out this simple game all by myself, thank you. While I certainly respected his experience, when we were on the course, I was forever thinking about my score and would brook very little distraction while I was endeavoring to make a seven instead of an eight or nine. Silly, wasn’t it?

So, even though he made very few suggestions, within the first six months Byron saw there was a little problem. I would skull a chip across the green or chili-dip a pitch shot, and he would say, “Sweetheart, try that again with an eight iron this time.”

I would reply (minus the sweetheart), “No!” Or I would try what he had recommended, and if it didn’t work instantly, I would fling the offending club back into my bag and march on to the next hole without a word. I thought things were going swimmingly, but Lord Byron knew better.

One day in May 1987 I had just come home from Dallas where I had been working on a writing assignment for Scottish Rite Hospital. Byron met me at the door with the latest issue of Golf Digest magazine in his hand.

“Sweetheart, I just read this article called ‘How To Play Golf With Your Spouse,’ and I want you to read it. I underlined everything I’ve been doing wrong, and I’m going to change, because if I don’t change, you’re not going to want to play golf with me any more, and you may not even want to stay married to me!” 
   
I melted, of course, as well as feeling like the world’s biggest idiot. There I was, balking at advice from the greatest golfer/teacher ever, and he’s taking all the blame for my frustration on the course. I took the magazine from his hands and sat down next to him. After a number of hugs and kisses and a few tears on my part, I read the article as he had instructed. Naturally the piece was not written for professional golfer husbands who had won five majors, fifty-four tournaments, eleven in a row, eighteen in a year, and taught other pros like Watson, Venturi, and Ward. No, it was designed more for the eighteen handicappers, who wouldn’t know “you looked up” from U.S. Open rough.
   
We talked about it a little bit and finally figured out that, as silly as it was, I preferred to play on my own when I was on the course, instead of thinking all the time that he was going to want me to try another club or re-do a shot. So from that moment on, he would only offer advice when I asked him during a round.

Oddly enough, that made it easier for me to ask, which I did a lot more often over the years. The result was that, even playing only once or twice a week, I went from a thirty to a sixteen. And let’s not think about how much better I could have been if I had sat at the feet of this master of golf and tried to learn all I could about the game. As he told me years later, he really wouldn’t have wanted me to get so gung-ho that I would be in single digits. He knew how much work that would take and felt it wouldn’t have made me happy anyway. Byron always felt the happiest golfers he knew were the 80-85 shooters, who made enough pars to keep them happy, an occasional birdie for an extra lift, and the occasional double bogey to keep them humble.

Tagging the Master

Oh, it was so much fun playing with him! Not only could Byron still play very well during the first several years of our marriage, but he seemed to get more kick out of my occasional ripping good shot than he did his own. One time we were playing at Riverhill in Kerrville. I was about a twenty-five, and he was about a ten. So we were on the ninth tee, a great, really tough par four, and the forward tees were only a few yards ahead of the whites. He hit an excellent drive, and for once I tagged one that rolled a few yards past his ball.
   
After rejoicing about my drive, Byron hit a pure little three-iron that ended up on the green about a foot away from the pin for a kick-in birdie. I, my brilliant drive notwithstanding, hit my three-wood amazingly fat and rolled it about thirty yards. Madder than a wet hen, I took out my four-iron, and thinking fairly murderous thoughts, swung blindly at that wretched white ball. Blinking in amazement I watched it sail up and straight onto the green, where it disappeared into the hole for a three. I got a stroke on the hole from Mr. Nelson that particular day!
   
You would think he’d be a little crestfallen after hitting two wonderful shots and getting an easy birdie but then getting beat by his floundering wife, thanks to that mysterious fiend known as “the rub of the green.” No, my champion absolutely whooped with joy over it and proudly told the story dozens of times afterwards to anyone who would listen. What a hero! “How to play golf with your spouse” indeed!

Excerpt taken with permission from Life with Lord Byron: Laughter, Romance and Lessons Learned From Golf’s Greatest Gentleman by Peggy Nelson (2010) available at: www.byronnelson-golfpro.com

Now Booking Interviews and Book Reviews. 
Contact: Kathy Carlton Willis Communications
956-642-6319
WillisWay@aol.com

8.03.2010

Everyday Living-Indoor Kid Fun

It's been hot where I live, and it's unbearably humid. The heat and humidity also contribute to conditions that make the weather unpredictable and a thunder storm can move in at any time. This also means it has been a summer of moms desperate for some way to occupy their kids without spending tons of cash. Most days, it's been too hot to be outside, or too rainy to tolerate.

If you don't live anywhere near a pool or a lake and you have children or grandchildren who have whined, "I'm bored," in the last few days, here is some help for you. On the Momsense web page (part of Christianity Today) Melanie Clark gives ten ideas for indoor fun that might be a great activity for you to try. But a word of caution, some of them are very messy, so neat freaks, please prepare accordingly.

Click here to read Melanie's article "10 Ideas for Indoor Fun."

Have your own idea for indoor summer fun? Post your comments below.

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