Friday, October 15, 2010

We interrupt our regular broadcasting schedule

I'm doing something a little different today.  I know this blog is about oh so many things, but, generally speaking, I don't really show much of the creative things that I do.  Even though I scrapbook, crochet, knit, sew, etc etc etc, I guess I feel like there are so many great crafty blogs out there that I don't really share much of that side of me.

But...I'm making an exception today.  Tam over at Sew Dang Cute (such a cute blog name and an incredible blog as well!) is having a contest for crafters in the blog world!  It just so happened that I was halfway through creating my project when I found out about the contest, so it was perfect!




This summer I got a new sewing machine.  My old one was a gift from my mom 20 years ago for my 16th birthday (yikes!) and had been well-loved and well-used.  But, alas, it went to sewing machine heaven.  I replaced it with a new machine made by Pfaff and I LOVE it.  I love it so much that I am just making up things just so that I can sew.  I don't have any children of my own, but this summer I made a ton of baby blankets for my new niece and a friend's nephew.


This fall, the sewing inspiration hit and I decided to make a halloween costume for my friend's 1-year-old.  After having two boys, she is loving have a little girl and she absolutely dotes on her little "love bug."  Since that's what she calls her, we decided to go with the idea of a love bug for the costume.

I don't have a tutorial because I just sort of made it up as I went along, but I'll do my best to describe what I did.  The only part of the costume that I had a pattern for was the onesie.  I made it out of a really soft brown knit and I was thrilled with the way that it turned out because I've never sewn with a knit.  I'd also never used the sort of snaps that go on the crotch portion of a onesie, so it was amazing that it turned out so well (even if I do say so myself!)

For the skirt, I wanted to use a pink fabric with brown polka dots, but since I couldn't find the right fabric, I decided to applique the polka dots onto the skirt.  This was the first time I've appliqued as well and I was so pleased with the dots.  They certainly aren't going to come off of the skirt!  As far as the shape of the skirt, I knew the baby's waist size and just sort of did a rough sketch and it poofs out at the right angle just perfectly!  I then used some of the brown fabric to make a waistband and my bias tape maker for the edging on the bottom of the skirt.  I think it gives it a really finished look.

For the tutu portion of the costume, I simply cut strips of tulle and tied them around a piece of elastic.  It was easy peasy and sooo cute!

I TRIED to make the wings myself, but after several failed attempts at bending the wire perfectly, I opted for a pair of dollar store butterfly wings.  I think they work just perfectly and were a very economical choice.

Finally, the headband that she's wearing will have two little ears attached to them.  I would have attached them for the pictures, but my model had skipped her nap and had an ear infection, so I was working on borrowed time to get her into the outfit and snap a few pictures.  (Hence, the death grip on the bottle!)

On Halloween night, her outfit will be completed with some brown tights and shoes.  I can hardly wait to share those photos.  She is such a cutie patootie, don'tcha think?


So, if you get a chance, drop on over to Sew Dang Cute and check out the rest of the contest entries. While you're there, let'em know how much you adore the little love bug!

Thanks!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Things that are worse than unmet expectations - lowered expectations


So, having not committed suicide, I decided to instead commit to making a real effort in my dating life upon returning home after my brother's wedding.

I decided to really buckle down and give this thing a go!  I swear I tried everything and looked everywhere for Mr. Right.  I hunted down hotties at the grocery.  I gave God's house a go.  Much of the time I came up heart-wrenchingly empty-handed.  Whatever it was that I needed (skill, swagger) to "turn some heads",  I was clearly not equipped with.  The only numbers I was giving out at the grocery store were the ones stamped on my debit card.

Not getting the results that I desired through conventional means, I ventured out into cyberspace.  Back in those days online-dating was in its infancy and for the most part, it was still populated by those who were less than successful in meeting people in "real life".  Most of the time, if a couple met via the internet back then, they had to get their "how we met" story straight.  After all, no self-respecting person would admit to finding "real" love via virtual means.

So I joined Match.com and chatted with more than enough guys online to be able to fairly quickly sort the testosterone-filled wheat from the chaff.  It's also where I developed some very basic tests for determining if I would even respond to an email from a would-be beau.  For instance, if he didn't know when to appropriately use "there and their" or "your and you're", he was clearly not going to make the grade.  It may seem a bit picky, but there had to be SOME sort of process for culling the herd!

After all, in cyberspace I was a regular hottie.  I was witty and charming.  I could talk on a wide range of subjects and I laughed at all of their (sometimes horrible) jokes.  (What I lacked in self-respect I more than made up for in self-loathing.  {sigh})

This is the way things generally went in my online-dating life:  1)  Guy would find my profile online and send me an email.  2)  I would respond to his email and wait with baited breath for his response.  3)  We would converse like this for a week or more before he would suggest we could talk by phone.  4)  Phone conversations back and forth would proceed for another week or so before he would eventually ask me out on a "real life" date.  5)  We would go on said date and then, inevitably, 6) all communication would end.  Rinse.  Wash.  Repeat.....

Even after the 10th or so time of this happening, it was simply emotionally devastating for me.  The worst part was always the deafening silence of the phone in the weeks following those dates.  The only thing worse than NOT receiving a phone call when he said "I'll call you," were some of the other responses I received:

"I had a rough break-up and I don't think I'm really ready to date yet." - Apparently he recovered quickly because he was messaging other women just days after telling me this.
"I think I'm going to try to get back with my ex-girlfriend." - Apparently she didn't take him back because, once again, he was online chatting with other women just days later.
"Well, I called you ANYWAY." - said to me after a brief lunch date with a man that I wouldn't have dated if you had paid me.  He was telling me this because, in his opinion, I was below HIS standards!

I can MAYBE understand this sort of out and out rejection if I had, in any way, lied or misled them about who I was or how I looked.  But I hadn't.  I always posted an accurate, up-to-date photo of myself (more than I could say for many of them).  I was always up front about what I looked like.  I was always honest about who I was.  Besides, I may have never deluded myself into thinking that I was beautiful, but I don't think the self-loathing brought on by their behaviour was warranted either.

Stay tuned for the misery that is speed-dating and turning over a new leaf.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

More on unmet expectations


So, in 1997, my younger brother told me he was going to ask his girlfiend to marry him.  For the next 18 months, I swear the wedding and all of the planning that goes along with it was the ONLY thing that was discussed by my family any time we spoke on the phone or were in the same room. God love them, I know they were excited about it, but by the month before the wedding, I had long since had quite enough of it all. I just wanted to talk about ANYTHING that didn't have to do with their "blessed day".


Thinking back, it was about then that I THOUGHT I had hit my emotional low.

A few weeks before the wedding, there was to be a girls' night-in (kind of like a mini-bachelorette party). By then I had grown to know my future sister-in-law, T (names have been removed to protect the innocent) and had actually begun to like her. However, I barely knew the other girls who were going to attend. The evening started off well enough. There was a little alcohol involved, but we were all pretty light on the spirits. A few hours into an evening that I thought was just supposed to be us girls (imagine painting fingernails, watching chick flicks, etc - all out girliness), the guys showed up. The boyfriends (or fiances) of each of the girls decided to crash our little party and mushiness ensued. With a little wine in me, (it IS a depressant, ya know!) I was in no shape to be so violently confronted with my singleness.

As they all cooed and cuddled one another, I slipped out the front door and stumbled over a few tree stumps into the pitch black of the night. We were at the house of one of the girls and she lived out in the country. So with no moon and very little ambient light, I crumbled at the base of a tree in the back yard while the tears flowed and the bugs began to feast on me.

As I sat there, I was overwhelmed with grief and feelings of loss. I wasn’t where I thought I’d be by then. (I was 26, after all – practically a spinster!) Sure, I’d graduated from college, but there was no dating life going on to speak of at the time and the future looked fairly bleak in that respect as well. I’m sure there are many who don’t know (and probably don’t want to know), but I seriously considered suicide.

I clearly didn’t go through with it. But it makes me sad to think a young woman such as myself would feel such deep despair over being alone.

After all, there should be a big difference between being alone and being lonely, right?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The best laid plans of mice (and me)

Growing up, I was never one of those girls who had the big book of wedding plans like the one that Monica whips out in Episode 2 of Season 7. I never had my colors chosen years ahead of time. I never dog-eared fabulous wedding gowns in the pages of "Bride" magazine.

It wasn't that I didn't want to get married. In fact, I was the vision of eternal optimism. Even though I came home from every school dance bawling my eyes out because no one had asked me to dance, I always thought that NEXT time would be different. It had to be, right? After all, my mom always told me that she thought she would never get married and she had obviously done that AND had two kids. (Thank goodness she just barely avoided spinsterhood at 19!)

I guess I always just assumed that marriage was an inevitability. After all, hundreds of thousands of people get married every day. So what if no one asked me to dance in high school. There's always college, right? ....Wait, I dated one guy during college until he dropped out during my junior year and I called it off. After that, I never went on a single date during my whole college career..... No matter! When I get out into the "real world", there will be scads of opportunities for dating and marriage. After all, I'm young and I have plenty of time. This is a new world and women are waiting longer to settle down and start their family lives.

Finally after college and out in the "real world" I did finally go out on lots of dates. I was the master of the first date (thanks to an introduction by Match.com, mostly. {sigh}), but I couldn't seem to keep them interested enough for a second date. Sometimes that was just fine with me, but too often I was simply emotional roadkill when that promised "I'll call you" never came.

I always thought that my emotional rock bottom in the relationship area came in 1997 when my (younger) brother told me he was going to ask his girlfriend to marry him. My response to him was an admittedly shameful, “Have you lost your mind?”

There were so many things about the situation that I didn’t understand. First, my YOUNGER brother wasn’t supposed to get married BEFORE me, was he? If he does, what does that mean? What does that say to the world about me? Second, I couldn’t believe he was marrying HER. At the time that they met, my brother and I were very close. We were attending the same college, had lunch together every day and somehow the boy who had driven me nuts when we lived under our parents’ roof had turned into a very good friend.

We were close and SHE was butting in. Matt and I would spend hours hanging with one another before they met, now I wasn’t allowed to spend 15 minutes with him before she needed his undivided attention. And now she was going to be around FOREVER? Til death do they part and all that?

(Stay tuned for the rest of the story.)

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm an aunt!



I'm so sorry for the delay, but on Sunday August 22nd, I became an aunt!  Miss Madison was born 31 days early and was definitely very baby "rubbery" to begin with, but she was released after just 48 hours as a very strong little girl.

My brother already tells me that she's growing too fast and she's only 9 days old!

She is precious and beautiful and I can't wait to go up and see her soon!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

At the hospital waiting for life to change.

So, I asked you all to hang in with me and I apologized for leaving you for so long.  Thanks to all of you who did and hopefully the story will be worth the wait.  For now,  I simply tell you that I am at the hospital waiting for our lives to change (for the better).  Hopefully in just a few hours, I will be welcoming my first niece into my open arms.  It's a long story (one I still promise to tell), but this will be the first grandchild for my parents (they are THRILLED beyond belief).

Mandi, my sister-in-law, is being a trooper and doing an amazing job.  I'm blessed to have been invited into the delivery room (who knew that was a possibility?!?) to witness the birth and take pictures.  Since it's probably the closest I'll get to witnessing a birth up close and personal, I'm so excited.  It's emotional and amazing and I can't wait to welcome her!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Don't give up on me!

For those of you still out there wondering where I am, I know I haven't posted in over a month (EGAD!).

But there's been a ....LOT!......going on in my life.

I promise to get you all caught up in the next few days.

Until then, just him a little "Journey" to yourself and think good things of me:


Friday, July 16, 2010

Ask Atgatt Girl - It's Hot!

Atgatt: All The Gear. All The Time!
Dear Atgatt Girl,



I love riding my own bike and I know that you say I should wear all of my gear all of the time, but during the summer months, it's so hot!  How can I stay safe and cool while I'm riding?



Emma Haught
Arizona

Dear Emma,

I imagine it is VERY hot there in Arizona during the summer!  But that's no reason not to wear the proper gear.  In fact, sometimes when it's hot, wearing all of the gear is even more important!

Staying safe while riding is, of course, always one of my top priorities, but part of staying safe is dressing appropriately for the weather.  When it's 85 degrees and I am asked if I'm hot in all of my gear, I either simply rolls my eyes or smart-assedly retort, "that's why I have to ride fast!"  There is a kernel of truth to that, but there are better ways to beat the heat than twisting the throttle.

Father and son on an antique motorcycle; both dressed in shorts and T-shirt
Photograph from:

I know we've all seen those riders out there sporting shorts and sandals when it's hot.  They look like they are probably staying cool, but they are actually making themselves warmer by not gearing up.  Sounds wrong, right?  It's not!  When we get hot, we perspire.  When air passes over our damp skin, we cool down a bit.  However, riders who are wearing a short-sleeved shirt may be sweating, but that sweat is being quickly dried off of their skin by the warm air they are riding through.  What we want to do instead is to take advantage of the combination of our sweat and the wind as we ride.  One of the best answers that I've found is mesh gear.  These specialized jackets (and pants) provide protection through a number of strategically placed pads (knees, elbows, shoulders, etc) and they are made of a perforated denier poly mesh which is lightweight and yet stands up fairly well to abrasion (like from skidding across the pavement!).  My favorite mesh gear for women is made by First Gear.  They are well-made, the sizes are accurate and proportionate for women's bodies and they come in caauuute colors!  Prices for these jackets are in the $120 to $140 range.

The mesh gear will go a long way in allowing some air to get through while keeping the sun off of your skin, but there are a few tricks that I've learned that add to my comfort when I'm riding in warm weather:


1)  Stay hydrated!  If your body is low on fluids, it's going to make it harder to sweat and as we discussed already, sweating is the body's air conditioning!  When I am riding in the heat, I make sure to stop about every hour to drink.  I alternate between water and a sports drink like gatorade.

2)  Wet a bandana (or even your shirt) and wrap it around your neck.  When the air passes over the wet bandana, it will help to keep your torso cool.  You can do the same thing with a banadana on your head under your helmet.  It may not be the most attractive look, but you will feel like a new woman!


3)  You know those ice storage units at gas stations?  While you're making your hydration stop, pop your helmet in there.  (Trust me on this one!)   In the 5 - 10 minutes it takes you to fuel up and gulp down some water, your helmet will have cooled off considerably.  When you put it back on your head, I dare you to tell me that angels don't break out into song for you!

4)  Try to avoid riding any distance in the most brutal heat of the day.  When I ride long-distance, I try to schedule things so that I leave early in the morning.  I then stop for lunch (get off of the bike, sit down in an air-conditioned place or at least find some shade and cool grass) during that hour or so during the day when the sun is really heating things up.


5)  Finally, dress in layers.  We've been talking about how to beat the heat, but when you've been riding all day in temperatures in the 80s or 90s, you will be amazed how cool it feels as the sun goes down and the temps drop into the 70s!  Like your mom always told you, "take a sweater!"

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Don't forget!  If you have a question for Atgatt Girl, simply leave a comment and she'll get to you soon!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I have found the anti-christ.......

and her name is Betty Crocker!

I've told you a bit about my relatively new habit of couponing.  I don't do it nearly as well as people who have kids and families may, but I've been pretty proud of my savings over the last few months.  A few weeks ago CVS has a discount on the Betty Crocker Warm Delights.  They are on sale for just 88 cents and I had 2 coupons for 75 cents off on 1.  That means this new desserty item from Betty Crocker for just 13 cents!

.............THAT was the good news.

....The bad new is.....these are seriously good!  And CRAZY easy!  2 tablespoons of water and a few minutes in the microwave and you have creamy, chocolatey, fudgy goodness.  If one is an emotional eater and lives alone, this is DANGEROUS!

Not that I know anyone like that........

Just sayin'......

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

There's still time to vote!


There's still time to vote for Sasha and to register for the Target gift cards!  Just a reminder that this is a fundraiser for the Indianapolis Humane Society.

Currently, they are at capacity and desperately in need of donations to make sure that the 550(!) dogs and cats in their care are fed and sheltered well.  The average cost for an animal's stay at the shelter is $600 and the facility operates on donations alone.  I know that any donation (and/or vote for Sasha) would be greatly appreciated.

If you are unable to give money and are in the area, there is also a list of supplies that are needed.  For the shelter's wish list, click here.

My heart breaks that I can do no more than spread the word to you about their plight.  I've attached a news release being sent out by the facility about their needs.

Humane Society of Indianapolis reaches limit of animals it can care for with current resources.


IndyHumane’s budget and staff stretched to capacity as shelter cares for more animals than ever.

INDIANAPOLIS (July 7, 2010) – The Humane Society of Indianapolis (IndyHumane), currently caring for more than 500 kittens, puppies and mature cats and dogs, has reached the limit of the number of animals it can care for with its current financial and staffing resources and is asking the public for support of its mission, services and animals.

IndyHumane has a balanced budget for 2010 that allows it to care for 300 animals at any given time. Due to the dramatic increase in the number of homeless and unwanted animals in the Indianapolis area in recent months, though, the shelter is currently caring for 550 cats and dogs and must take measures to reduce the intake of more animals.

The Humane Society of Indianapolis typically asks people who wish to surrender pets and strays to call for an appointment to bring cats and dogs to the shelter. This allows staff to ensure proper care and adequate space for every animal that comes in. However, due to the large number of animals currently in the shelter’s care and its limited resources, it cannot currently take walk-in owner surrenders. The shelter’s schedule for people wishing to surrender animals is full until the first week of August, and appointments from then on will be scheduled as resources become available.

The Indy-based and independent shelter does not euthanize for space or time. It currently has 150 animals available for adoption, with a total of 400 living at the 7929 N. Michigan Road facility and 150 more in foster homes. Though IndyHumane invests, on average, $600 in medical, behavioral and shelter services per animal, regular adoption fees remain low: $35 for some cats, and $150 at the highest, for puppies.

“An army of 250 animal lovers sponsoring an animal for $600 each will help us alleviate financial strains, though any gift will help the animals and our mission,” said John Aleshire, Humane Society of Indianapolis CEO.

The current situation reflects general economic circumstances, as well as a recently updated mission and change of culture. The Humane Society of Indianapolis revised its mission in 2009 to better reflect new life-saving initiatives and an increased focus on public services, in addition to its traditional pet-adoption programs. In 2009, the shelter saved the lives of 85% of incoming stray and surrendered animals – 30% more than in 2008. IndyHumane also works with other local animal-welfare groups to save more animals, though these groups have experienced similar pressures, according to Christine Jeschke, Humane Society of Indianapolis Director of Operations. “We’re contacted daily with pleas from local rescues and shelters asking us to help their animals. It breaks my heart to have to turn them away.”

The shelter’s leadership recognizes that its current life-saving programs rely on donor support and the efforts of a small staff. “As hard as we are striving to be one of the nation’s premier animal shelters, we also have to be fiscally responsible and live within our means,” said Aleshire. “That has not always been the case in years past. We’re now a very lean and frugal organization. We’re caring for more animals than we ever have with much less staff than two years ago, and they continue to find ways to make every dollar stretch and be used responsibly.”

Larger economic concerns have impacted the non-profit. The shelter’s intake area has seen more people than ever surrender their pets due to financial difficulties, as people have lost their jobs or their homes and have had to focus greater resources on caring for their families. Other financial concerns have affected the shelter as well. IndyHumane’s veterinary team has seen the price of an antibiotic used daily to save the lives of kittens with severe eye infections skyrocket from $2 to nearly $20.

“When people tour IndyHumane, they are always moved by the scope and depth of our services,” Aleshire said. “I invite any member of the community to contact us and arrange for a behind-the-scenes tour to see all of our services in action. They’ll see that the overwhelming need in our community far surpasses our resources, and that their charitable contributions and support are used wisely.”

Aleshire says that the public can help the animals in IndyHumane’s care by lending financial support, by donating items found on the organization’s wish list, or by utilizing a number of IndyHumane’s services, including a recently opened low-cost vaccine clinic. To sponsor an animal’s care, call the Humane Society of Indianapolis at 317-872-5650 ext. 125. For more information, visit IndyHumane.org.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ask Atgatt Girl - SUPER!

Atgatt:  All The Gear.  All The Time!


Dear Atgatt Girl,

I am a new motorcycle rider, but so far I've just been riding my brother's extra bike.  How should I go about choosing a motorcycle for myself?

Valerie Star
Yamaha, PA

Dear Val,

Congratulations on contemplating taking the plunge into motorcycle ownership!  That's very exciting.  I know it can probably feel a bit daunting at first to consider all of the different motorcycles available.  In my own search for my first bike, I took several things into account.  Over the last 6 years of riding I've tried to keep them in mind as I continue to look at new motorcycles.  You know, because a girl can never have too many motorcycles, right?

There are basically 5 main things I consider when looking for a new motorcycle.  If you just remember that motorcycles are SUPER, you'll be all set.  SUPER stands for Size, Upkeep, Price, Extras and Ride.

Size:  I think one of the most important factors is how a motorcycle fits you ergonomically.  Whether you are short or tall, find a bike that you are comfortable on.  I'm a short girl (5'1" without boots on) and since I was a new rider, I wanted a bike that I could comfortably "flat-foot" when I was stopped.  Motorcycles are heavy (between 500 and 1000+ pounds) and I didn't want to have to worry about the bike tipping over on me because I had to balance the weight on just one leg.  You also want to make sure that you can comfortably reach everything with your arms and legs.  Lots of new motorcycles have the foot pegs placed closer to the front of the bike than the middle.  When that's the case, even if I can touch the ground when I'm stopped, I can't reach the shifter or brake while the bike is in motion.  That makes actually operating the bike extremely difficult, to say the least.  Make sure the distance to the handle bars is long enough or short enough for your arms to comfortably reach for an extended period of time.

So, when you're out looking at motorcycles, {carefully} sit on them!  Make sure that when you sit on the seat, you can reach the foot pegs.  The showrooms generally have enough space between bikes for you to stand the bike up while sitting on it, so do that.  Get a feel for how heavy it is and whether you think you'd be able to lift it off of it's sidestand several times without being exhausted.  Turn the handle bars a bit to make sure your reach is long enough.  Don't worry.  They EXPECT you to do this!


Upkeep:  This is where knowing yourself and how much you like doing your own "wrenching" comes in handy.  Do some research on how much maintenance a bike takes.  Talk to a motorcycle mechanic (or search the web).  Some bikes are built like tanks and you can practically run them into the ground.  Others are a bit more touchy and require a constant eye.  What is the routine maintence schedule for the bike (generally it's either every 3000 miles, 4000 miles or 6000 miles)?  If you like working on the bike yourself, what kinds of skills are required to do that routine maintenance?  If you don't like working on the bike yourself, how much are you going to have to pay someone else to do the maintenance?  (I like to call that the "How much to take away my pain?" test.)

Price:  Speaking of "How much to take away my pain?", let's not forget about the purchase price of the bike!  If this is your first bike, I definitely recommend looking into used bikes.  You can usually find them very reasonably priced with very few miles.  Also  know that, just like with cars, some bikes are just going to be more expensive because of the name on them.  When I bought my first bike, I didn't have the scratch for a Harley Davidson (what my brother drove) or a BMW (what Troy rides).  There were lots of affordable options made by Yamaha and Suzuki though.  I bought a Yamaha for about 1/4 of what a Harley would have cost me and I've been more than pleased with my choice.

As well as the purchase price, take into consideration what the insurance will cost on the bike.  Sport bikes are generally more expensive to insure than cruisers.

Extras:  For some motorcyclists it's all about the extras.  They like to farkle (a combination of "function" and "sparkle") their motorcycle with GPS Systems, auxiliary lights, radar detectors, etc.  If this is something that interests you and a motorcycle that you are considering already has some of these things, great.  If those items are not already on the bike, make sure you check to make sure adding them would be a possibility.  Specifically find out whether you would need an extra power source to power those devices as they can pull quite a bit of juice from the battery.  In addition to all of the electrical gadgets, I also take into consideration things like saddle bag space and pillion (passenger) seat back rest, since those are things that are crucial for me to stow gear on longer rides.


That brings us to the Ride:  Find the bike that fits the type of riding that you will be doing most.

My first bike was a Yamaha V-star 650.  That's a 650 cc engine.  When I got it, the bike seemed big to me, but my brother said I would be unhappy if I got a smaller bike and I would have been.  I routinely took it to the same shop for any maintenance it needed.  If there was a leak of some sort, I got it checked out.  I rode the heck out of that bike.  But that was the problem!  For the long-distance, high-speed riding that we were routinely doing, the 650 was the wrong choice of bike for me.  Unfortunately none of my (FORMER) mechanics clued me into this fact and as a novice rider, I didn't know any better.  I thought it was normal for your hands to go numb and to have a pounding headache at the end of the day from the vibration of the bike.  As an experienced rider, I now see how silly that sounds, but back then I just didn't know any better.

I learned the hard way what an appropriate bike for the job feels like.  After a major tran$mi$$ion failure on a ride to St. Louis a few years ago, I happened upon a Yamaha V-star 1100.  {cue the angelic chorus!}  THIS is the bike I should have had from the beginning.  Although it looks nearly exactly the same to the casual observer, the real difference is shown with the twist of the throttle.  When I take it out on the highway, I have been known to hit 90 and not even realize it.  By comparison, on my old bike, the fillings in my teeth being shaken out of my head told me when I had hit 80.

So figure out what kind of riding you are going to be doing and pick the bike that works best for that job.  If you are just going to be commuting to and from work 10 miles away, maybe that little 250 cc engine will be just what you need.  If you are young and fun (and don't have any back problems), a sport bike may be just the ticket.

Just remember as you go out to look for a motorcycle of your very own just how SUPER fun it can be!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Does bribery work?


Okay, kids!  I plugged Sasha's entry into the Indianapolis Humane Society's Poster Pooch contest the other day and got an okay response.

So, perhaps I should up the ante.  Originally I promised a prize worth $25 if Ms. Sasha received at least 150 votes.  Perhaps I can go one better.  Here it is:

If Ms. Sasha receives 150 votes, 1 lucky winner will receive a $25 Target Gift Card.
If she receives 250 votes, I will give away TWO $25 Target Gift Cards.
If she receives 500 votes, I will give away THREE $25 Target Gift Cards AND if I have 100 followers, 1 lucky follower will receive an additional $25 Gift Card.

I know you can rise to this challenge and help support all of those loveable animals at the Indianapolis Humane Society.  Each vote is just $1 and the minimum number of votes is 5.  Once you've voted, either leave a message here or on the original post.  There's no need to be a follower, but if you are, that gives you another chance to win.

Thanks so much for reading my blog and voting for such an adorable dog.

If you would like to do more than just donate and have a place in your home and heart for a new family member, the Humane Society is running an adoption special until the end of the June.  IndyHumane is flooded with hundreds of unwanted cats and dogs, and until the end of June you can adopt any animal one year of age or older for 50% off their regular adoption fee!  That 50% off adoption fee includes microchipping and spay or neutering.  If you are looking for a pet, this is the perfect time to go down and check out all of the available fuzziness!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sasha's Shameless Plug

I believe in putting my money (and my blog) where my mouth is.  I don't often plug things on here, but I'm doing it now....shamelessly.

The Indianapolis Humane Society is a really great organization that is supported solely by donations.  They are a no-kill shelter.  That means as long as an animal is healthy and adoptable, they can live at the shelter for years.  There is no expiration date on an animal simply because they've been around too long.  Consequently, personal donations of food, supplies and money are the livelihood of the facility.  They hold several fundraising events each year.  Among these events is the Mutt Strut.  It's held at the beginning of May and it's touted as a day when the track goes to the dogs because it happens at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Sasha and I have attended the last 2 years and while this year was a rainy mess, she had a blast in 2009.  There are lots of great vendors giving away free samples of food and offering medical check-ups for dogs.  It's just an amazingly fun doggy day.

Sasha!

So, here comes my plug!  Each year all the participants receive a t-shirt as part of their registration costs.  On the front of that t-shirt is the photo of the "Poster Pooch".  I would love nothing more than for Sasha to get to be that Poster Pooch for the 2011 Mutt Strut.  (I mean, seriously!  She's adorable!)  Here's where we need your help.  Go here to vote for her.  Each vote is $1 ($5 minimum) and ALL proceeds go to help some of our neglected, furry friends.  Right now she's waaay behind in the voting.  It's totally my fault and not at all a reflection on her lack of cuteness.  Did I mention that she's seriously cute!?!  The 11 runners-up will be part of a photo shoot and a 2011 doggy calender.  She'd be cool winning that if she can't have the top prize.  She's a giver, ya know!

Do you need more motivation than her fuzzy wuzzy muzzle?  Oh, okay!  If the great Sashinator receives more than 150 votes, you will be rewarded.  I will give away a prize package (worth at least $25) to one lucky voter.  Simply leave me a comment telling me that you voted and you'll be entered.  No need to become a follower.  Of course, if you want to be kept aprised of the contest, you might want to anyway.

Thanks so much for your time and your donation.

Stop by tomorrow to find out about the amazing adoption deal that the Humane Society of Indianapolis is having right now.
   

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ask Atgatt Girl

Atgatt:  All The Gear.  All The Time!


Dear Atgatt Girl,

I've been considering learning to ride a motorcycle of my own.  I've ridden on the back of my boyfriend's bike for a few year, but I see other women riding their own bikes and I wonder if that might be something I could do.  What 3 things would you tell women who are thinking about learning to ride their own bike?

 - H Davidson
   Sturgis, SD

Dear H,

Thanks for writing in and congratulations on thinking about joining an elite class of women.  As Virginia Slims say, we've come a long way, baby!  Female riders are an ever increasing portion of the field of riders and luckily our voices are being heard by the manufacturers of motorcycles and motorcycle apparel.

I know that from my own experience, thinking about learning to ride your own bike can be a bit overwhelming.  When it comes to learning the ropes, the first 3 things I would say would be:

1.  Take a motorcycle safety class!  In Indiana, motorcycle safety courses are offered through Abate of Indiana.  Something similar exists in every state.  For me, this step was a life saver!  Before my class, I had never been on anything with 2 wheels other than a bicycle.  The classes can usually be taken over the course of a weekend or several evenings during the week and cost less than $100.  Small motorcycles (around 250cc engines) are usually provided and they are taught by certified instructors.  The classes are broken down into a textbook portion and a riding portion.  They are held on a closed site (usually a large parking lot), so there is no other traffic to worry about.  They will teach you everything from the very basics about your motorcycle to how to stop quickly without laying the bike down.  At the end of the class, there is a written test as well as a basic riding test.  If you pass these tests, you will receive a certificate of completion and (at least in the state of Indiana) a waiver of the riding test when you go to get the motorcycle endorsement for your driver's license.

Some of you may have boyfriends or husbands who assure you they can teach you to ride.  I beg of you, kindly DECLINE their offers.  I have seen way too many conflicts arise from this scenario.  For instance, while your husband/boyfriend may be a patient, caring man.  I assure you if he has been riding for any period of time, he has picked up some bad riding habits.  You are better offer learning from someone who is not emotionally involved and who is an expert motorcycle instructor.  I promise.

2.  Get appropriate riding gear that fits you and wear it!  I'm certain to rile up all kinds of talk on this one, but I believe in riding gear.  That's what ATGATT stands for.  All The Gear All The Time.  I've noticed an interesting phenomenon.

Invariably when I see a man and a woman riding together (either both on one bike or each on their own bikes), they are always similarly dressed.  I'm not talking about matching t-shirts or helmets.  I'm saying that if her man is comfortable riding in a do-rag, jeans and flip-flops, more than likely, a woman is gonna be wearing similar items.  If you are going to start riding, please don't do this.  You need the proper gear.  That means pants, jacket, gloves, boots and a helmet.  If your man loves your beautiful legs wrapped around him, then shouldn't he want you to keep them looking beautiful?  Nothing is LESS sexy than burnt flesh on your thighs from hot pipes or worse.  {WARNING.  Do NOT click here if you have a squeamish stomach or don't really want to know what road rash looks like.}

Motorcycle gear for women has come a LONG way.  Manufacturers have finally figured out that we aren't just smaller men and that we come in all shapes and sizes.  I'll cover more on what to look for in gear in the coming weeks, but First Gear has some really great looking, high quality, reasonably priced gear for women.  I wear it and I love it.  While quality riding clothes may be pricier than your husband's old motorcycle cycle jacket, just remember that $1000 in gear is worth $10,000 in skin grafts.  It may not be pretty, but it's true.

3.  Ride your own ride.  Let me say that again.  Ride your OWN ride.  I'm not talking about the motorcycle that you sit astride, but the manner in which you navigate that motorcycle.  If your riding companions think you take too long to put on your gear or you don't ride fast enough, say ok ... and then ride your own ride!  Tell them you'll catch up with them at your destination or just that you'd rather not ride with them that day.  It is so important, especially in the beginning, that you not ride beyond your comfort or capability.  This is your safety that they are messing with and you are in charge of it.

This doesn't mean that you'll never ride with them, but it's important that you find your own "riding voice".  Troy and I have very different riding styles.  He has been riding for well over 25 years.  I have been riding for 6.  He LOVES the twisty roads where he can lean his bike over until hard parts scrape.  I would rather open up the throttle and whiz down the open highway at 85 mph.  (Sorry, mom!)  I wasn't able to say those things in the beginning without thinking I wasn't a "real" rider because I was comparing myself to him.  The important thing is that I know it now how I like to ride.  We still have very enjoyable rides together.  We simply find a path and a destination that both of us can enjoy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Sex and the City" and summer motorcycling!


Wednesday night my girls and I went to check out the new(ish) "Sex in the City" movie.  As we nestled into our theater seats, we practically had the place to ourselves.  I know the critics have panned it, I actually enjoyed (most of) it.  I can honestly say that the writers have matured the characters of Miranda, Carrie and Charlotte (in a good way).  The three of them are each married to men who seemingly adore them.  Carrie is struggling with settling into married life with Mr. Big.  Miranda is trying to balance being a wonderful attorney with being an equally wonderful and attentive mother.  Charlotte is having a crisis of conscience as she tries to come to terms with the fact that her 2 lovely daughters, who she wanted so desperately for so long, are driving her insane!

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is where Miranda and Charlotte are comiserating about the difficulties of motherhood over a cocktail.  They both clearly love their children, but they are sometimes overwhelmed as well.  I'm certain that most mothers feel this sometimes.  So, while the writing might not be the most clever ever put to paper, the conversation seems genuine and cathartic for both of the women.

My heart also broke for Carrie as she called Mr. Big after an encounter with Aiden.  She is obviously in anguish and desperately needs a response from Mr. Big, which she's not receiving.  The angst she exudes is not of the teenage variety, but instead it is the genuine misery of realizing the consequences her thoughts and actions may have.  It was a great example of truly figuring out what we as women need and want.

HOWEVER....my one (huge!) gripe about the movie was Samantha.  While Miranda, Charlotte and Carrie had tender moments of insight and true feeling, Samantha seemed like more of a caricature.  Yes, she's always been bawdy and sexually forward, but things have gone waaaay too far in this movie.  I'm sure for some, it's what they've grown to love and expect from Samantha, but I guess I was kind of hoping that at 52, she would have matured a bit and learned something more than just how to stay hot enough to land a man.  Perhaps, as a single lady, I am too sensitive, but it's as if the writers couldn't come up with a plot line for a single woman that consisted of anything deeper or more interesting than chasing pants.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Moving on............

Some serious, mad, crazy props go out to Troy!  Summer is upon us and for me, that means riding season!  There's just something about the smell of the open road and the roar of the engine when you twist the throttle that makes all the worries of life just melt away.  I planned to ride my motorcycle to meet the girls for the movie, but when I went out to start the bike, it wouldn't turn over (DESPITE being on the battery charger for the last few days!).  Ugh.  My heart sank.  I knew it was time to get a new battery.  The problem was that it was 5:45 and I was pretty sure the bike shops would all be closing in the next 15 minutes AND I needed to get to the movie by 6:30.

After I called around to a few places, I finally found a battery for my bike in stock at Cycle Outfitters.  I had kept Troy apprised of the situation (I can totally take care of these things myself, but it's nice to have someone there to back you up).  He asked how late they were open (8 PM, woohoo!) and offered to go pick it up for me.  What a man!  Score!  By the time I got home from a lovely evening with the girls, he had prepped my bike so that he could show me how to install it.  (By the way, it was easy peasy and I totally could have figured it out on my own.  Still...it was very nice to have his help.)  Thanks to Troy's generosity, I was able to ride in to work the last few days!  Woohoo!

Speaking of motorcycling, I've had quite a few friends lately who expressed an interest in taking up motorcycling as a hobby.  So with the start of summer just a week away, I thought I'd take one day a week to talk about some of the things to consider when thinking about learning to "ride your own" in a series I'm calling "Ask Atgatt Girl".  Come back tomorrow for her first installment.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

NOW - Journalling

"Each of us is many women, and each stage of life offers the potential for discovering new freedom, new growth, and new pleasures."  - Penelope Washbourn

"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."  - Maya Angelou


I am not a writer.  I never claimed to be since I'm really a mathematician.  But over the last few years of blogging here, I've actually learned to enjoy writing a bit.  I love it when I find a witty turn of phrase or when I'm able to convey or evoke true emotion with mere words.  As I go through my day, I think, "Oooh!  I need to write something about THIS!"  It's a powerful thing for me to share my life, loves and woes with the world.

But so far, that's where all that written sharing has stopped.  I have a stumbling block when it comes to other sorts of writing.  The real thorn in my side is journaling, as in keeping a diary of my day to day life.  Oh, how I wish I had journaled my life up until now.  I'd love to go back and look at what I really thought the first time that I hopped on a motorcycle or to read how I felt the first time I was kissed.  What were my thoughts upon graduating from high school or what were my hopes for my brother on the day that he married the first time?  Sure, I can remember bits and pieces of what I thought and felt then, but those memories are being remembered through the filter of the person that I am today.  They are remembered with 20/20 hindsight and that can distort things.

So, what keeps me from doing it?  I think there are several things.  When I was younger (high school aged), I think my fear was of my diary being read by my brother or parents.  It's not that I had anything to hide.  Believe me!  I was about as squeaky clean as they come!  But when you're a teenager, having someone find out about your crush could very well be the end of the world.

Then as I got older, when I read what little I had written as a sort of diary, I was very judgemental of what I had thought or felt just a few months earlier.  After having my heart broken, I would mentally scold my former self for having let myself get hurt.  Or if I read how excited I was at the beginning of an undertakement that had failed, I would chide myself for being such a fool and believing I could succeed at something.

Over time, this sort of mental badgering takes a toll.  I learned to protect myself from being hurt emotionally so that I wouldn't later be ashamed of myself.  I learned not to take chances or to voice an opinion because people (even me) remember what you say and can use it against you....even years after you've grown to know better and to do better.

That brings me to who I am today.  I've learned a few things in therapy the last few years and it's about time I put them into practice in my real life.  I've learned that I'm not the same person I was 6 months or 6 years ago in the same way that I don't WANT to be this same person 6 months or 6 years from now.  In my opinion, my time here on earth is for me to grow emotionally, physically and spiritually.

I am most certainly making mistakes and missteps right now that will teach me things and mold me into the person that I will be in the future.  Hopefully that is a better person.  Hopefully that is a person who can be forgiving and understanding of who I am today.  Hopefully that is a person who will appreciate the things I write today for their wit and emotion and historical merit.

Today I may be disappointed that I don't have a written record of my life up to now, but my hope is that in 10 or 20 years, that's won't be true.  My goal starting today is to write it all down for my own personal benefit.  No constraint.  No rules on what I should write.  No censoring.

After all, if you want shade, when is the best time to plant a tree?  40 years ago.  When is the 2nd best time?  TODAY!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The importance of (cute) shoes

I'll admit I'm sort of a back-to-basics girl.  I always wish I was the girl whose hair and makeup were perfect, whose skin was soft as a baby's bottom, whose nails (fingers and toes) were always perfectly polished, whose body was a perfect size 2 (or 4 or 6 or 8, whatever!)   I'm sure there are those women out there for whom most of these things are true.  I am not one of them.  I rarely own anything that is considering trendy and cool (ever since that horrible incident in grade school with the parachute pants!  Bubble-butt is NOT what a fat little girl wants to be called!)

I guess growing up, for better or worse, I never really learned the art of being a high-maintainence girl.  My mom's hair and make-up and unpolished, yet perfectly filed nails were always impeccable, but she wasn't breaking any new fashion ground.  She doesn't really ever wear skirts or dresses and I've rarely seen her in anything higher than a 1 inch heel.  Most of the time she wears some standard (comfortable) flats.  Alas, I have taken on some of these same fashion standards, but no more!

I have a friend who is the ultimate in girly.  She's thin and beautiful and obsessed with cute shoes.  I've been to her house.  She has a TON of shoes...and they are all crazy cute!  That kind of puts my 3 basic pair of shoes to shame, huh?  I always admired her shoe choices, but didn't really see the point.  Yes, they were cute, but they looked uncomfortable and after all, who notices them?  Apparently lots of people do!

I am most certainly not looking for attention from men other than Troy at this point (he's a VERY basic shoe kinda guy!), but cute shoes apparently garner attention I never knew was out there!  Since it's summer and the weather is FINALLY nice, last week I decided to bust out my (one and only) pair of black sling back shoes with a bit of a heel (only about 2 inches).  I painted my toenails (because that is one of those rules of summer footwear I never knew before last year) and donned my kicky shoes.  I didn't change my hair or clothes or anything else, but I got quite a few comments.  Maybe it's because I have to walk differently, but I had a guy actually say to me, (ala Joey from "Friends") "Hey, pretty!  How are you doing today?"  I said "fine" and went on my way thinking, "what the....?"  The only thing that makes any sense to me is the shoes.

Maybe they are sort of like sexy underwear.  No one else may notice (or even see) them, but they certainly make you feel differently as you walk out into the world.

What do you think?  Are cute shoes important to a woman's self-image?  If not, what makes you feel fun and flirty?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Motorcycle lessons

I really love riding my motorcycle.  Here are a few things that I've learned from my time spent astride my iron steed.  (I LOVE #3)!  Thanks for passing these on to me, Troy!

12 Things My Motorcycle Has Taught Me


1. The only good view of a thunderstorm is in your rear view mirror.

2. Four wheels move the body; two wheels move the soul.

3. I'd rather be riding my motorcycle and thinking about God, than sitting in church thinking about my bike.

4. Life may begin at 30, but it doesn't get real interesting until about 75 mph.

5. Midnight bugs taste just as bad as Noon time bugs.

6. Sometimes it takes a whole tank full of gas before you can think straight.

7. A bike on the road is worth two in the shed.

8. Young riders pick a destination and go; old riders pick a direction and go.

9. When you're riding lead, don't spit.

10. Catching a yellow jacket in your shirt at 75 mph can double your vocabulary.

11. If you can't get it going with bungee cords and duct tape, it's serious.

12. Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Message to the 16-year-old me

I usually just write whatever comes in to my mind, sticks in my craw or tugs at my heart.  Today I'm going to answer one of the questions posed by NaBloPoMo:


  If you could go back in time and meet your 16-year-old self, what three things would you tell yourself?

This is a tough question.  The irony is that I've thought of this before.  I think, "Argh...If only I could go back and tell Me what I know now!"  The problem is that, like most 16-year-olds, I knew EVERYTHING.  I thought my parents were terribly old and old-fashioned and I couldn't wait to grow up and be an adult.  Ahh, to be so young and ignorant again.

On with the things I would tell that silly, snobby, ignorant girl:

1)  Life is short.  You may only have another 70 years on this earth if you're lucky enough to one day be an old woman, so don't take any day for granted.  I'm sure that sounds like a long time to you, but believe me when I tell you it's not.  Those years go by FAST!  Spend your days laughing often, loving those around you and figuring out what it is that YOU love.  Don't be afraid to try things that are scary.  Some of the best stories come from doing the unexpected thing.

2) Keep a journal (and take more pictures)!  Write it all down.  In 20 years, you will want to remember the ups and downs of life.  If you do this, you will be able relive the joys and successes.  You'll also be able to reconsider the "failures" with a different perspective.  Don't worry about not having a writing "voice".  You will find it and even begin to enjoy writing and story telling.

3)  Take care of your body and appreciate all it does for you.  You are NOT fat!  But if you don't take care of yourself, and instead constantly put yourself down, you will be!  Eat right.  Get off of your butt and get moving.  Find sports and activities that you love and do them...often!  And if you're never a size 2, I guarantee life will go on and you WILL be loved.  I promise!

Oh!  And buy stock in Dell.  In 20 years it will be worth a lot!

Friday, June 11, 2010

It's Friday Follow time!

friday-follow

It's time for Friday Follow.  I do so love finding new readers and new blogs to read.  (Like I really need MORE blogs to read.)  So this Friday I'm linking up.  Check out some of the blogs if you're interested.

And make sure to leave a comment.  We bloggers {heart} our comments!

Have a great weekend everyone.  If the weather's nice, get out and enjoy it!  The housework will STILL be there. ....I promise!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

NOW - Strawberry Festival in downtown Indianapolis

As I've said before, working in downtown Indianapolis is a wonderful thing during the summer.  We just had all of the festivities of the month of May and all that goes on for the Indy 500.  Now it's June and that means it's time for the Strawberry Festival!  Yummo!

It's such a great charity event and really kicks off the summer for me!  I  love the scandalously decadent shortcake and whipped cream.  I love how the strawberries (and all of their wonderful juices) seep into the shortcake and puddle on the bottom of the container.  It is sooo yummy.

So, if you're in Indianapolis, you need to drop what you're doing RIGHT NOW and head down to Monument Circle.  The lines can get a little long sometimes, but it's totally worth the wait!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hair cut-astrophes!

Okay, I'm gonna need a little moral support, girls.

I can't be the only one who FREAKS OUT when I go to get my hair cut.  For me, my hair doesn't define me.  I had short hair all while I was growing up (I think because my mom decided how my hair would look and she was tired of me not wanting to have it brushed.  I can understand that .... a little.).  I even donated my hair to Locks of Love as part of my first 101 in 1001 list a few years ago.  I had grown it out for about 5 years and I was ready for a change.

Since then, I may have taken it too far.  Over the last few years, every time I go in to the salon, it seems to get shorter and shorter (yes, I understand that's the point of a haircut!).  It was a shoulder-length bob for a while.  Then I moved to a regular bob which came about 1/2 way between my shoulders and my chin.  Then I entered the 90s (in 2009 no less) and discovered the stacked bob.  I think before then the stacked bob had always been too "out there" for me.  What can I say?  I'm a straight-laced kinda girl.

I may have taken it too far this time.

I swear when I walk into the salon, I nearly break out into a cold sweat.  Maybe it's because I don't have a regular stylist.  Maybe it's because a haircut isn't something you can really undo all that quickly.  Oh sure, it will grow out, but until then every day is a hat day and I really don't look good in hats!

Last night when I went into the salon, it was no different.  I eyeball the stylists and, fair or not, I judge their skills at cutting hair based on what their hair looks like.  Let's just say my prospects were not looking good!  But I steeled myself, plopped my butt in the chair and explained what I wanted.  About 20ish minutes later I had a new (quite short) do.  Apparently when I told her that the length in the back should START tapering at the occipital bone, she took that to mean 1 1/2 inches ABOVE it!  Egads!

Let's just say this hair-do is SHORT!  Crazy short!  I-don't-have-to-use-much-shampoo short!  I-stepped-out-of-my-car-and-the-lesbians-that-live-next-door-to-me-said-"CAUUTE haircut" short!

The jury is still out.  If I decide I like it, maybe I'll share a picture with ya'll.  Maybe.

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