Monday, December 19, 2016

UncommonGoods for Uncommon Shoppers

Living in the Midwest, I'm rather used to winter. As a matter of fact, when I have ventured outdoors this week, I have done so looking like Randy from A Christmas Story.
Poor Randy.

I’m so bundled up that if you knocked me over, I’d fall down and be forced into snow angel servitude. And no, I can’t put my arms down either.
You can imagine how I feel, then, about going out to shop for Christmas in this type of weather. The thought of having to leave my warm home (or office) and foray out into the freezing cold does not appeal. Neither does standing in line, overheating in my too-hot coat. I'm in the throes of menopause, dammit. I don't have time for this.
That's why I have turned to shopping online. However, I have found that even having the entire world at my fingertips via my trusty laptop, I tend to get bored with the same old offerings from department stores and discount stores. In my search for something different, I ended up finding something amazing--UncommonGoods.
What? you may cry. Why should I click on that link when I can find the tried and true at Wally World?
I'm telling you why. Because you're going to find the most unusual items as you browse through their interesting website. Guys, having a problem finding something for your lady? Try this link for a plethora of gifts for women...933 of them, to be exact.
For instance, for the woman in your life who enjoys reading--or writing--here's a scarf that I think would be perfect.

For your writer lady.
You think that's cool? For women (like me) who think owl mugs are cool (also like me) you can also find these little beauties:
I want ALL of the owls.
I know, right? 
I can hear what you're saying, though. "Chris, Poopwa, may I just say that I don't have a special lady in my life. I'd just like to find something that's Uncommon. And Good." Well, here's what I have to say to that:  I give you the fire escape shelf, found in Home Decor. This is different, but in a good way, not in a I'm-just-trying-to-be-diplomatic way.
Now you just need a tiny criminal escaping the good guy.

Not into fire escapes, or plants? Everyone likes candles, though. Check out these beauties.
and my favorite color, too.
Personally, I don't know how people can go through life without having at least one candle lit during the day. I love candles and this set has both the beautifully cut glass and the color I like. Take notes, people. In case you're looking for gift ideas for me.
Speaking of gift ideas, recently I celebrated a big birthday...the big 5-0. I'd like to point out that this is something I would have liked:
She's beautiful. She's petite. She's beautifully crafted and hangs outside in your garden, where she hopefully will attract more fairies. If not, though, you haven't lost out because she's still a wonderful addition to your outdoor space. You can find more unique birthday gifts here.
The best part of the whole website, though? The people at UncommonGoods have worked since 1999 to bring only the best artisans together in one space. Their work is showcased on an easy to navigate site. I have spent many a lunch hour paging through their website, finding item after beautiful item. Anything you could purchase from them would be unique and well made.
Now, what I need is an UncommonCheckbook with a hefty balance so that I can buy every single thing I want from this company.
Find UncommonGoods on Facebook, Twitter, and that site no one can ever leave: Pinterest. Tell them Poopwa Foley sent you. They know me there.
Happy shopping!
Note: This post is sponsored by UncommonGoods. However, all comments and opinions are mine.

Monday, September 12, 2016

My teeth are stressed out

My teeth are stressed out

“Do you grind your teeth?” My dentist sat back in her chair, small mirror in one hand and a dental pick in the other. I felt my teeth with my tongue. There’s a tiny crack off the back of my top front tooth and one on the back of my bottom front tooth.   I thought I just needed to floss out a piece of celery.
Such is not the case.
Forty nine is such a fun age.
“I think I do, maybe.” There’s no maybe about it. Of course I do. I always have. I have a spectacular case of TMJ to show for it, as well as a nerve in the back of my head/neck/cheek that flares from time to time if I really go at it.
“Your bruxism—that’s grinding—is causing your teeth to develop little chips. In effect, you’re breaking them off.” I’m grinding my teeth hard enough to crack them. The stress I am conscious of during the day is carrying over to nighttime, when I should be relaxing.
“I ordered a mouth guard off eBay and used that,” I tell her. “But I would wake up in the middle of the night with it pinching the insides of my cheeks. Because I’m grinding my teeth. Not to mention the fact that a) they smell b) they’re unsexy as hell and c) my dog will chew them up any time he can because see a).”  I don’t mention these points to her, no matter now salient they might be. I’m a little annoyed by the fact that she thought she had to explain bruxism to me. I also don't mention that I ordered cheek retractors like the one Melissa McCarthy wears in Boss to bring to the next family gathering for fun times.
“You need to find a better night guard, then,” she says. “Have you had any stress in your life that would cause you to grind your teeth?”
And then we both laughed and laughed.
“I’m not sure where to begin,” I tell her, my chin wobbling. “Oh, wait. I’ll just save it all for my therapist.”
“You probably should, but good news—identifying the stress might help manage it.”
Oh, right. Manage the stress. In the past year I’ve lost my grandparents, who had been married 75 years. We lost my husband’s mother in June of this year.
Stressful. Heartbreaking.
On the other side of the age spectrum, my daughters both had babies this year. My youngest daughter had baby Sophia at the end of January, and middle daughter had baby Shawn in the middle of July.

Stressful? You bet. Modern medicine is a wonder but sometimes births don’t go exactly as planned, either for the baby or the mother. Watching your daughter in labor, knowing exactly how they feel, is one of the hardest things ever. I was there for the births, patiently waiting with the prospective parents, coloring masterpieces in a coloring book that my niece makes. Because as everyone knows, coloring is supposed to be stress relieving.
I have published two books so far this year, Trouble Lake and Knew You’d Come. I’m about 12000 words into my second Kindle Worlds Mary O’Reilly paranormal mystery called Grave Injury, and I hope to have that out by the middle of October. When I’m on break, I’m editing the final draft of Elise, Evermore so that the third and final book in the Whitfield Witch trilogy will be complete. I hope to have that out by Halloween.
Stressful? Yes, even though I have great fun writing them. Ask any author—it’s very hard to rewrite, edit, secure a cover, proofread, and format a Kindle eBook, and even more difficult to format for Createspace.
The dentist clears her throat and pokes at my teeth a little more, then leans back to talk to me again.
“You’re not crunching ice, are you?” I don’t need to think hard about this, because yes, virtually every single night I have a glass of something (not always liquor, but mostly) that has ice in it and if that wasn’t enough, we have a spare glass full of ice to crunch and/or add to the glass. I crunch more ice in my teeth than three or four people combined.
“Sometimes, I think,” I lie through chipped teeth.
“You’re not supposed to do that. Don’t do that anymore.” I nod but I know that since I quit smoking 17 years ago, this has been my one and only vice. I lie again, of course. “I will try not to.”
I hadn’t been to the dentist since November of 2014, which the hygienist points out several times. I feel guilty but I was busy, dammit. She points out that I’m wearing a Pierce shirt and that our office is literally in the back of the building where my dentist is. I’m well aware. “I’m here now, though,” I say, but to make us all feel better I go ahead and schedule my six month visit for March of next year.
“For not being here for two years, however, your teeth are looking very good,” she digs in. “I’m seeing teeny little infection underneath one of your crowns, though.” The dentist has her assistant write me a referral for an endodontic specialist who’s almost an hour away. “Basically, you need to have a root canal on your root canal. You’ll need to call them. They’ll saw the top of your crown off, yank stuff out, put stuff in, and then put everything back right. I trust them.” She may have been a bit more technical but I didn’t hear that because I was already thinking of the Xanax I’ll have to take before those procedures.
How exciting. A “teeny little” infection in my tooth. A tooth that already has a root canal and a crown (and probably a crack in it.) That explains why I rocketed up out of my chair when I bit down wrong on a sesame seed.
Stress?  Yup. I’ll internalize it, as usual. But in the back of my mind, I’ll be thinking about that exciting upcoming endodontic visit. I’ll probably grind my teeth in my sleep harder than ever. They may even snap off while I sleep and I’ll wake up and resemble Tow Mater from Cars.
Good Ol Tow Mater
I guess there could be worse things. Unlike Tow Mater, I have dental insurance. One thing I won’t have to worry about.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Babies and Books

Babies and Books
To say it was a busy year would be putting it mildly. My youngest daughter got married to her fiancé Steven, and had her second baby, Sophia Iris, at the end of January. I got to be there when she was born. Alyssa, three, is now a big sister!
the newlyweds.

Sophia & Alyssa
If that wasn’t enough, my middle daughter also had a baby! I got to see Shawn Michael make his red-face, squalling way into the world as well, on July 10. I went from one granddaughter at the beginning of the year to spoiling three grandchildren by the middle of July. Ask anyone; it’s my absolute favorite thing in the world, being a grandma.
Daddy Tristan, Annie, & baby Shawn
One of my other favorite things, however, is writing. I finished writing Knew You’d Come back in October. However, I edited and changed, reworked and fine-tuned, and sent it to my sister Jenny for her valuable input and editing suggestions. She can be brutal but most of the time she’s right. After I input those changes, it was sent to several beta readers for their input, then we changed even more things.
Knew You’d Come is an erotic romance. It’s the story of Tansy Reynolds, a paranormal investigator, who gets way more than she bargains for when she does a paranormal investigation of an old saloon under renovation. Whip Daniels has been waiting for her for a hundred years, and only has three days to show her that they belong together.*Version*=1&*entries*=0
My newest baby.
Before I could get it formatted to put on Amazon, I was asked to be a contributor to the Kindle Worlds Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mysteries. I set aside Knew You’d Come in order to be a part of her Mary O’Reilly World launch. It was a challenge to write a novella in six weeks; it included editing, formatting, and finding someone to do a cover in a hurry.** It all worked, though, and Trouble Lake was born. I so enjoyed being a part of that launch, including the Facebook launch party, where I met so many new friends and readers. I enjoyed that so much.
Trouble Lake
Spooky, funny, mysterious ghost story.
Trouble Lake was great fun to write. I hate when people say “this book practically wrote itself”, but I swear, I actually had characters talk to me and tell me what was happening in their world.  It was awesome (and a little scary, because dude, I was hearing VOICES) but it went so smoothly. I decided I will be contributing more novellas to this particular Kindle World because Mary O’Reilly’s playground is a great place to play! Plus, it would be a perfect time to recount more of my character Holly Martin’s adventures. Does she continue with her faux psychic practice? Does she continue seeing ghosts? What other escapades will she drag Mary O’Reilly into? Poor Mary. I don’t know that she’s going to get any rest. No wonder Terri Reid loves to write about her!
Right now, I’m promoting Knew You’d Come and Trouble Lake. It’s fun to see some of the people who purchase these two books are also purchasing the books from our Whitfield Witch series; Baylyn,Bewitched and Cat, Charmed. I wrote another erotic romance novella last year (largely in the Meg’s Coffee Shop in Rockford, across from six elderly women who were playing some card game…if they only knew!) and will have that edited and formatted for distribution later this year. I have it tentatively titled Halloween in Handcuffs. Right now it’s a working title; however, it should give you some sort of idea what it’s about. (wiggles eyebrows) Also, there will be a companion story to Knew You’d Come called Handyman for Hire.
If that wasn’t enough, we have the third book in the Whitfield Witch series, Elise, Evermore, almost completed! So many people have asked and we so appreciate the interest. Even I want to know how it ends! I have to admit that although I love writing the saucy romances, I will really enjoy giving Elise Travers the happy ending she deserves. Elise recently learned that her husband Charles, who had been presumed dead for thirty years might be alive after all, but trapped in another century. Making things a little more difficult, someone from his past has cast a spell on him to make him forget all about Elise. We’ll document her successes—and failures—along the way. Who knows what she might get into; after all, she’s Baylyn’s mother!
Although it seems like we are going to be releasing a lot of books within the next year—and we are—keep in mind that most of these stories have been sitting idle, completed. However, due to our combined six kids, and grandchildren, and pets, and spouses, and oh, let’s not forget, both of us working full time…sometimes things get written, and sit patiently, waiting to be published.
Maybe the literary fiscal year starts in July. I’m going to go with that. It’s going to be a good year!
 **Here’s where I’d like to give a shout out to Nick Block, who did a great job on the cover for Trouble Lake. If you ever need someone to do a great cover for your ebook, please seek him out. His website is here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Well, I'll be! (a winner, that is!)

So a super fun thing happened Monday night.
I had entered a sportsy thing at work involving brackets and teams playing basketball and guess what, guess what, I came in second place!
pretty much.
When our office runs a contest such as March Madness, I’m almost always asked to help draw names.  I think it’s mostly because I know nothing about what seed a team might be, or which team has the best chance of “taking it all”.
We drew names at work, with two people on a conference call reading off the name, then me and my supervisor pulling a team out of a hat.  (Okay, fine, it was an envelope.  Work with me.)   My four teams were Dayton, Miami Florida, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. I took an unusual amount of ribbing because “you picked the names and you just RANDOMLY got those teams?”  If it wasn’t for my supervisor standing directly behind me the entire time, witnessing me pull names randomly, no one would ever believe it was a fair drawing.*
When I got home and told my husband who I had, he was REALLY excited for some reason.
An Excel chart was then created and slowly, as March progressed, more and more teams were out but I still had Oklahoma and North Carolina in the Final Four.  By then, even I understood they were really good teams.  I may not understand how they “seed” the teams but hey, I won some jellybeans, didn’t I?  Most of the time when I participate in these things I tend to donate far more than I win.
It was nice to be on the other side of that for once.
The final game was Monday night and although I abhor watching basketball, I did watch the game between Villanova and North Carolina.  Thanks to them I have no fingernails left because I gnawed them all off watching the game, which I have to admit was really exciting.  I mean, REALLY.
I screamed a little too.
And even though my team lost (losing me fifty jellybeans, so thanks, Villanova) watching a college kid hit a 3 pointer at the buzzer is exciting, no matter who you are. 
Even if it’s a non sportser like me. 
*mostly because when it was all over, OUR TWO TEAMS played each other in the championship game.  He had Villanova.

Monday, April 4, 2016

A big career change for me (or is it?)

I am in charge of putting out our newsletter at work.  Sometimes we have a little extra space in the newsletter, as was the case this month.  My boss knows I love to write and often will let me submit a piece for filler...and for fun.  This was my latest submission for the newsletter that went out on April 1, aka April Fool's Day.
It reads as follows:
Those who are used to calling the corporate office and talking to Chris Cacciatore will have to do without her for the next several months, as she is taking an extended leave of absence to fulfill a dream she has had since she was young—to be a WWE wrestler.
“I grew up with a brother and several uncles, who were more like older brothers.  My formative years were spent fighting off offers of ‘Hertz Donuts’ and twisty Indian burns, among other things.  I also learned that the suggestion of ‘let’s see who can hit the softest’ was clearly not to see, in fact, who hit the softest.  Brother Joe, I'm looking at you.
“I grew tired of being pummeled.  I began working out in the gym and eventually honed my body into a fighting machine.  Soon, a trainer approached me about getting into the ring to do some professional wrestling and I thought, why not?”
Squishing little sister Jen, in preparation for later domination in the ring.
Chris spent ten years in the wrestling circuit, learning famous moves such as the “Tombstone”, the “Flying Headbutt”, and perfecting “the People’s Eyebrow”. 
“I stole that last one from The Rock after I beat him in a cage match,” Chris snickered.  “I also have a new move that I plan on debuting later:  “The Reverse Dog Lay”.  It’s adapted from the “Downward Facing Dog” pose used in yoga.  It lulls your opponent into a false sense of security before you steamroll them completely.”
Chris’ husband, Joe, supports her sabbatical completely.  “I pretty much have to,” he confided, watching for her over his shoulder.    “You don’t want to mess with her.”