Monday, March 30, 2015

Top 5 Libraries

If you live in Missouri, your public library is being threatened. Under the current approved budget Public Libraries in the state were allocated $6.6 million. Governor Nixon has only released a fraction of that, $724,000. He proposes to cut the budget next year to $724,000 for Public Libraries. Lets do a little math, there are 6.06 Million people residing in the Show Me state, with a budget of $6.6 Million, each person is paying $1.10 per year for access to a public library. A buck and change for unlimited access to books, media, special collections, lectures, etc. Most libraries offer computer and internet access to those who cannot afford a computer of their own. I am a proud and vocal supporter of the Public Library system. I am lucky to live in a town with an amazing library staffed by knowledgeable and passionate people. Here is in my opinion the 5 best Public libraries in the US.

5. McAllen Public Library, McAllen, Texas
McAllen Public Library takes pride in providing resources that help young minds grown. Their Tumblebooks E-book library offers read-a-longs, interactive games, quizzes, and puzzles, designed to strengthen reading comprehension. They offer homework help for all grade levels, and special college preparatory programs for high school students. The main branch offer's access to 128 computers. Best thing about McAllen Public Library? Their main branch is located in an old Walmart. This town took an eyesore of consumer excess and created something grand. 

4. Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri
You have probably seen pictures of the Central library floating around the interwebs, on lists of unique or unusual buildings. The Community Bookshelf, spines of 22 books ranging from Goodnight Moon to Catch-22 dominate the parking garages south wall. The books were chosen by Kansas City residents. ESL and community Spanish classes are offered, in addition to career workshops, movie nights, E-books and digital media. You can even use the library as a venue for your wedding and reception. 

3. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
3D printing has the world intrigued. By joining a Techconnect class at the Carnegie Library you can learn how use this amazing new technology. Instructors will show you how to design and print 3D projects, free of charge thanks to a special grant the library received. In addition to books, the library offers a variety of classes, research tools and cultural events. 

2. Library of Congress, Washington D.C.
You may not think of the Library of Congress when you think of public libraries, but it is America's library. A place to not only preserve our history, but a place to inspire the creativity of a nation. The library houses not only the Congressional Research Service, but the Copyright office, Folklife Center and the nations law library. Special events, concerts, lectures and exhibits makes this Library one of the best. But what in my mind is tops?

1. Your local library,
If its been a few years since you last visited your public library I suggest you go, soon. Join the email list, and discover all the exciting opportunities your library has to offer. I have a friend whose children attend weekly music lessons at her local library. My library brings in guest speakers, authors and performers from Kentucky Chautauqua

Friday, March 27, 2015

Discovering Spring and Basketball Riots

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Spring has officially sprung in Kentucky. The state is in the period of chaos known as March Madness. An area of downtown Lexington has been declared an Emergency Zone. Why, you may ask? Well here in Kentucky some more energetic fans of University of Kentucky Basketball like to take to the streets after burn couches, cars, themselves. I am not much of a sports fan, and don't see the point of burning perfectly good furniture, or people over a basketball game. With UK poised to win the NCAA tournament, law enforcement and the city of Lexington is taking steps to control the chaos that will ensue. Win or lose there is nothing like a UK fan, and sometimes I don't know if that is a good thing.

major wins,

In now sporting news my sweet little Silkie hen Cottonball is setting on a nest. Most of the eggs are hers, but we slipped a few from our Barred Rocks under her. I love the sound of little baby chicks. I get excited in the spring when I walk into the farm store and here the little peeps of freshly arrived biddies. This is Cottonballs first time sitting. If all goes well I will be posting pictures of our little flock additions soon.

The dog Wonders are enjoying the lovely weather. We have taken a few hikes around our local lake enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.

The Wanderers Aunt and Uncle are set to arrive any day now from Georgia. After many years away his aunt has decided to move home and is settling down on property adjacent to ours. When they arrive they plan on buying goats. I LOVE goats, I have been trying to talk the Wanderer into letting me have goats for years!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Discovering Gypsy Life

I have always loved travel, the open road and adventure. But the concept of living on the road full time, living the travel lifestyle was very foreign to me up until a few years ago. I do not travel full time yet, but I can dream and plan.

I stumbled upon her blog by strange twist of chance. I was a regular poster on a message board. We were discussing creating less household waste. The topic of reusable toilet paper came up, and I went on a mission to discover if reusable toilet paper was a thing. The is how I met the Happy Janssens, at the time they traveled full time on the road with their 2 lovely daughters. Now upgraded to 3 cute little girlies they limit their travel to part time. Currently the Jassens reside at Nesting Gypsy where you can follow renovations to their Colorado mountain home. Matt is amazing at home and RV remodeling, and Sara has strong style.

The Happy Janssens blog introduced me to Sparkling Adventures I have followed Lauren and her family on their journey across Australia, New Zealand and Europe in a small housebus. Life isn't always sparkling for this single momma. She provides a raw, up-close glimpse of her personal tragedy, including the unexpected death of her only son and the imprisonment of her husband.

The Janssens sold one of their old rigs to the Maison family who embarked on an Eco Womb tour of the US fueled by Love, Peace, and Veggie Grease. 

I would love to say the Wanderer latched on to the idea of travel and freedom easily. But like gardening and homesteading he was slow to come around. Now we are actively planning for our own adventure and to finally start living the life we want to live. Its never to late to run away from home and become a gypsy. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Roadtripping with Dogs

The Wanderer and I have two dogs, Scarlet and Inigo. Scarlet has been on several long road trips. Inigo is still fairly young and has only traveled to my sisters house just over an hour away, and back.

Tip 1. No food or drink with in an hour of travel. Some dogs get upset tummy's while traveling. Momma Wanderer's Yorkie once threw up for the first hour of a 3 hour trip. It wasn't pretty.

Tip 2. Before you get in the car, let the dogs have a good long walk to stretch their legs.

Tip 3. Just like with children, the safest place for the dog is in the middle of the backseat. If you have a carrier that you can secure with the seat belt, use it. In all honesty we don't usually follow this tip. Inigo whimpers if he isn't laying on my lap, Scarlet likes laying in her doggy bed. If we were ever in a wreck this wouldn't be good.

Tip 4. Book your room in advance, and confirm that they allow pets. Most places have certain rules that apply to pets, like weight limits, cages, etc. We rented a cabin in the mountains a few years ago, between booking the cabin and arriving to check in they changed their pet policy. Thankfully they honored the original agreement and allowed us to stay with Miss Scarlet.

Tip 5. Make frequent stops. The dogs will need to stretch their legs and take potty breaks, probably more often than you are use to when traveling. Try to avoid stopping on the side of busy interstates the noise and wind from passing cars and semi's can scare your pet.

Tip 6. If you are not keeping your pet in a carrier while driving, consider leashing the dog and looping the leash through a seat belt when exiting the vehicle. More than once while traveling I have encountered families distraught over losing a beloved pet while trying to exit their vehicle. Even well behaved dogs will sometimes try to make a break for it when the car door opens. Don't rely solely on someone in the car being able to hold the dog back.

Tip 7. Lock your windows. A curious dog looking out the window could easily roll down the window and fall out! Inigo is notorious for trying to roll the window down. The imagine of the dog cruising down the road with his head out this window, ears flapping in the breeze may be iconic, but its just not safe. We have Shih Tzus. Shih Tzu eyes are very sensitive, prone to drying out, and easily damaged. We don't risk debris flying into their precious little eyes.

Things not to do:
1.) Leave your dog unattended in the car, the temperature inside a car can reach dangerous levels very quickly.
2.) Let your dog drive your car. May seem like a good idea at the time, but dogs are easily distracted.
3.) Put your dog in a carrier on the tow hitch. To much wind, debris, to hot when the car is stopped in traffic, its just a big no.
4.) Drag your dog behind the car Griswold style.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Yard Sale Adventures

I am a natural born bargain hunter. I wore a 5 dollar thrifted vintage dress to my grandmothers funeral. I have amazing art on my walls found at junk stores and trift shops. My mom, sister, and Momma Wanderer are all avid bargin hunters. Mr. Wanderer not so much. But he does enjoy, for the most part, the spoils of my hunts. The famous multi state highway 127 yard sale has spawned copycat yard sales across the nation. Here are other highway yard sales that may interest you.

Dixie Highway, June 5-7, 2015

This 90 mile yard sale winds through northern Georgia, passing through the towns of Tunnel Hill, Rocky Face, Dalton, Resaca, Cartersville, Cassville, Adairsville and Kennesaw.

Great U.S. 50 Yard Sale, MAY 15-17, 2015

Like many miles long yards sales this was started as a way to drive up tourism. It stretches the length of U.S. 50 from Maryland to California. Individual towns and communities along the route have control of their portion of the yard sale, so in many areas you will find the yard sale stretching community wide as opposed to just the portion bordering U.S. 50.

Route 60 Yard Sale (no date yet)

This yard sale stretches along Rt 60 From Rowan Co to Carter county. Its small, only 40 miles, but its the place to go for good farm antiques. Swing into Smokey Valley Truck Stop for lunch.

The 400 Mile Yard Sale, JUNE 4 - 7

Highway 68 is designated a State Scenic Byway in Kentucky, meaning as you cross the state from Paducah to Lebanon you will be trailing through some of the most picturesque land in the state.

Tn. 52 Yard Sale, May 15 & 16

This Yard sale stretches across middle Tennessee. Last year they boasted over 800 vendors along the 95 mile stretch. The route runs through the counties of Robertson, Sumner, Macon and Clay. A lot of good antiques and handmade quilts can be found!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Unexpected Jewelry box find

My grandmother has been in poor health lately. To the point where we were forced to put her in a skilled care facility. While sorting and organizing her apartment I discovered a small jewelry box that I had bought her years before. While on vacation in Texas I had bought both my grandmothers simple, pretty, floral jewelry boxes. I don't know what became of one grandmothers box after she passed when I was 12, I wanted to ensure this box was safe. I took it home and sat it on my dresser with my boxes. There it set for several days before I had the courage to open the lid for a peak. My grandmother apparently kept some of her prize keepsakes in this box. There was a old watch they her uncle Prince had gave her, her valedictorian and high school pin, a decoration from some roses papaw had bought her years before.

Among these special possessions was a tie tact from the US Department of Customs. No one in the family had worked for Customs, at least to my knowledge. Slowly through many questions the story unfolded. I knew my grandmother had been considered a "catch" in her youth. She had several men trying for her hand before she settled on my grandfather. The pin came from one such suitor. No one can quite remember his name, and now that grandma has passed I may never know his name.

The story starts when my grandmother decided she was going to join the Air Force. Her sister was already part of the WAF program, and that sisters husband was in the Air Force. My grandmother flew out to meet them. While there she met, and was courted by this young US. Customs officer. He "pinned" her with his tie tact. 

The rituals of relationships and courting was much different in my grandmothers day then they are now. Grandma always joked that she married Papaw because he had the fasted horse. :) 

Grandma in May of 1958

Monday, March 16, 2015

Top 10 movies, and a bonus!

Yet another of my friends has earned a IMDB credit. We don't even live in LA! In honor of his achievement I felt today's blog needed to be a top 10 list of movies that I could (and have!) watch over and over. For fun I will throw in the 1 movie I have yet to actually finish watching.

10. The Never Ending Story
My sister and I watched this movie so often as children. I am fairly certain we wore through a couple VHS tapes. 

9. Secret of Roan Inish
Based on Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry by Rosalie K. Fry. Its a beautiful telling of folklore and folkstories, focusing on Selkies.

8. The Breakfast Club
This one is probably on a lot of favorites lists. My oldest niece was recently introduced to this movie, not surprising she also identifies with the characters. No matter where you live, or where you go to high school, some experiences are universal.

7. Full Metal Jacket
Probably an odd choice. This movie is gritty and raw, and is so shockingly real that it sticks with you. As Gen. William Sherman is quoted as saying "War is hell."

6. Teen Witch
Whats not to love about this movie, its quirky and fun. The moral of this tell is simple, be careful what you wish for, it might just come true. "Top That" 

5. Back to the Future
This movie may have made me fear Libyans and those VW mini buses for most of my childhood, but I still get a kick out of watching this movie.

4. Gods and Generals
I love Civil War history, and despite the flaws with this film, its still and enjoyable movie. I have been to many civil war battlefields, stood in the room where Jackson took his last breath, and have walked in the footsteps of men far braver than I.

3. Smoke Signals
If you haven't watched this quirky Native American movie then go right now and watch. Evan Adams, who is now Chief Medical Officer of the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, channels his grandmother for the role as Thomas. You will laugh, you will cry and maybe you will gain just a little more insight into what it means to be Native. Its based on the book of short stories, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie. 

2. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
This movie was mine and the Wanderers first date. After years of tip toeing around dating, he finally asked me out. Watching this movie always brings up memories of those first few months as a couple. 

1. The Princess Bride
One of our Dog Wonders is named after a character in this movie. I have watched the movie so many times that I can now quote it line for line. Yes, I have even read the book. 

Now for the 1 movie I haven't been able to watch all the way through. 
Frontier(s). Its a French horror movie. I love horror movies. This one started off great, but the family of sadistic Nazis they encounter was just a bit much for me to handle. We wasn't close to have way through the movie before I threw myself off the couch screaming "Make it stop, please make it stop". Great movie, just a bit to intense for me apparently.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Travel at a Moments Notice

If the Wanderer turned to me and said "Lets go on an adventure" I could be ready to leave in less than an hour. This stems from my childhood filled with spur of the moment trips. My parents travel philosophy of if we have the time and money we went. As a result of this I have developed little tips, tricks, and hacks to make spur of the moment adventures possible.

Tip 1: Invest in a well stocked toiletry bag. In my cabinet I keep a fully stocked bag of necessary toiletry items, mini size shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, full size toothbrush, tweezers, face wash. Anything and everything I find necessary for getting ready on an average day. This bag is solely for travel. I don't dip into this stash if I run out of a full size. When I get home from a trip, I restock this bag.

Tip 2: Keep a well organized makeup drawer. I don't have a collection or an organization system as intense as some Youtubers, but I do keep my items organized and in their proper spot. This makes tossing the basics into a makeup quick and easy.

Tip 3: Keep a partially packed bag ready to go. Some things stay in my bag year round. Extra feminine products, a flash light, a back up wall charger for my phone, a seamless comb. Things that may slip my mind while I am packing to leave in a hurry.

Tip 4: Organize that closet! Same as above, a well organized closet will make packing for a last minute trip easy. I like to organize mine my type and fabric weight. My sister organizes her's by type and color. Mr. Wanderful leaves the closet organizing up to me. I also fold and place clothing in drawers in a way that I can easily see everything in the drawer.

Tip 5: Proper and routine vehicle maintenance will not only extend the life of your car, but also make last minute getaways possible.

Tip 6: Keep your car stocked. A GPS, maps, all those little things you appreciate when you travel. I personally like to keep a pair of fuzzy socks in the glove box for times when I am riding shot gun and letting Mr. Wanderful drive.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Budgeting for Life

Budgets are important, especially for those of us who love to travel. Methods of budgeted vary from family to family, situation to situation. Several years ago a friend of mine was in financial straights. Her family was hemorrhaging money and she didn't know how to stop. I asked her about her budget. Not only did she not have a budget, she didn't know what or how to budget. She is a well educated professional woman! We spent the better part of the day discussing methods of budgeting, and later led to a tough conversation between her and her husband. 

I have used a few different budgeting methods over the years. The most important thing is finding what works for you.

The Envelope System:
I was first introduced to the envelope system years ago on a blog, sadly I can't quite remember whose blog. She had posted links to cash envelopes on Etsy. You divide your income up between different envelopes, each envelope is a different part of your budget (Insurance, Rent, Groceries, Gas) once the money in that particular envelope is gone, that is it, no stealing from other envelopes.

Last Months Money Budget
This budget requires you to plan ahead. This probably isn't a budget you can jump into straight away. You save your monthly income, and from that you build your budget for the next month. You live off of whatever you took in from the previous month. No borrowing from incoming funds, those get saved to be used for the following months budget. 

Spread Sheet
This works best for those who know exactly how much they bring in every month. Using either budgeting software, Excel or pen and paper break down your spending into categories with an estimate of how much you spend in each category. Its best to be a bit generous with your estimation and plan for the unexpected.

Its important to have a grasp on how much you bring in, and how much you spend in a month. Some categories are more important than others. Budget your mandatory expenses first, mortgage/rent, utilities, groceries, transportation. After you have budgeted your mandatory expenses you can plan how you will spend your left over discretionary funds. Plan and spend well with an eye toward the future.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

In need of an ark!

March came roaring into my little part of Kentucky like a lion. Snow and rain this week sent the river over its banks in several spots, that coupled with the snow and ice blocking another road left me stranded. Thankfully the water has receded leaving everything a muddy mess. 

Several cars in this area became trapped in flood water, and while thankfully no one died as a result I cannot let this issue go without giving a warning. Don't drive through flood water, you have no guarantee that the road under the water is still intact. A swift current can easier push your car off the road and into deeper water. That very thing happened to my great uncle last spring. He was driving home after having spent the night at the hospital with his ailing wife. He was tired, and that clouded his judgement. He drove across a flooded bridge. The water pushed his car off the bridge and several yards down stream. It took rescuers days before they found him. Its not worth the risk, turn around and wait until the water has receded. I also have friends who are swift water rescuers, don't make them risk their lives to save yours.

Warnings an gloom aside my sister finally convinced me to start selling my hair pins and accessories on Etsy. I may include vintage items also, I am a collector/hoarder, and its past time I pair down and part with some items. 

Monday, March 02, 2015


We don't get many tornadoes in this part of the world. So earlier in the day when a friend from Kansas sent me a message warning me about storm bearing down on us that had potential for tornadoes I dismissed it. By the time I made it home from work we were in the gripes of a major thunderstorm. The power was out at my house so I made the decision to get dinner and ride out the storm in a safer area. I went to get dinner in a town about an hour south of me. I texted my sister along the way warning her the storm would be there shortly. She was staying at her boyfriends house in a small town about 40 minutes from me. Two days before, that town, West Liberty was hit by a very small tornado. What was the likelihood that it would be hit again? We so rarely got tornados, surely we wouldn't have 2 in the course of a few days?
The steakhouse was packed, and loud, but the waitresses had turned the TV's on to watch the news. You see things like this play out in movies, not in real life. The fork stopped half way to my mouth, my first bite hanging in the air. A news clip showed a huge wall of clouds and what would later be categorizes as an EF-3 tornado a half mile from where my sister was, and it was tracking straight for her. 

Phones were out and I couldn't get a call through to my sister. The blood in my veins felt as cold as ice as I asked the waitress to box up my meal. I made the 2 hour trip to West Liberty in record time, and all I saw along the way was destruction and chaos. I was one of the last cars to pass through the town on Salyersville and down the Mountain Parkway that night, before they closed the roads. A small community near my home was completely underwater.

 I made it to West Liberty. My sister's boyfriend lived high on a ridge overlooking the city, trees blocked the

roads leading to his house, but I managed to make it to the parking lot of the towns hospital, a quarter mile from his house on the same ridge-line. I continuous line of ambulances streamed up the hill to the hospital (I was in a completely separate part of the parking lot and not in their way at all). The hospital had lost its rough and ambulance crews from all over had volunteered to transport patients to other facilities. I got my first look at downtown from this vantage point. The little town were I held my first job, were every fall a group of us would gather to host a Living History, the town was no more. 

Stories of bravery in the face of certain death came pouring out of West Liberty, the girls who locked themselves in the freezer of the little walk up dairy-bar. Cops who ushered people to safety. A woman whose car was ripped away by the tornado just as her hand reached for the door handle. In all this little town of 3,000 people would only lose 6 residents. Most of their buildings would be a loss, either directly knocked down by the storm, or declared structurally unsafe. It would take 2 years for the elementary school to reopen, two years for the youth center to reopen. Just a few weeks ago that Methodist church that had long stood as a landmark at the crossroads in town hoisted the steeple into place atop their new building. 

In all this tornado outbreak spawned 70 tornados, took 41 lives and caused over 3 billion dollars in damage.

And my sister? They survived, despite the tornado going directly over their house not even a trashcan was moved. Her, her boyfriend and her dog hid in a closet in the center of the house until well after the storm had passed.