Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Night Before Christmas



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You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid and Donner, and Blitzen.
But do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?

It's that time of year where Christmas Carols are on every radio station, “Its a Wonderful Life” is playing on TV, and all the little children are anxiously awaiting what wonderful surprises might be under the tree come tomorrow morning.  It truly is the night before Christmas.  And did you know you can now track Santa and his sleigh as he makes his way around the world?  Just go here and find out how close he is to your house.  He really puts those reindeer through a workout this one night of the year; a 24-hour midnight race around the world.

Ever wonder how those reindeer train for such a demanding event?  I'll let you in on a little secret.

Watch out for flying reindeer!  

You see these signs all over the highways and roadways throughout America, even the world.  Yep, that's right!  These are the practice pathways for Santa's team of coursers.  Throughout the year they race through mountains and valleys, woodlands and hills, up and down, and over the rivers and through the woods, but not necessarily to grandmother's house.  Atleast, not until Christmas Eve.

I'm sure they take some time off after the mad dash of Christmas Eve.  But not for too long, as they have to stay in shape for the next year.  With that in mind, off they go, the experienced and the hopeful, of all Santa's reindeer training to be the next Dasher or Blitzen.  Talk about hiding in plain sight!  So next time you're out driving around and notice these yellow caution signs for flying reindeer, look around, you just might get lucky and catch a streaking red glimpse of Rudolph's glowy nose.

Merry Christmas everyone!

~sierra


Kitty kissing Santa Claus!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Memories of Mom & Crochet



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My mother was an amazing woman.  She was smart, soft-spoken, friendly to everyone unless they gave her a reason not to be... and then watch out.  She didn't take anything from people.  She had a her own sense of style, an understated elegance that was tasteful and classy, and very feminine.  Part Irish and part Cherokee, she had a beauty that matched her style.  She had the long, silky, thick, straight hair of the Cherokee, liquid silver in color unlike any other I've ever seen, along with the high cheekbones so prominent in the American Indians.  And yet her skin was covered in freckles.  She was a lady.  She was a wife.  She was a mother.  And she is missed every single day.

Some of my most fond memories of my mother are of her being involved in one of her many arts and crafts hobbies.  She did sketching, home d├ęcor and design, bead work, jewelry making, sewing, stained glass, painting, quilting, and crocheting just to name a few.  She was good at everything she did.

Ever since I was a little girl I always wanted to crochet.  It was something I grew up seeing my mother and my grandmothers do.  I loved all the things they made.  At one point my mother even owned a yarn and crochet shop.  I would try and try.  Mom tried to teach me.  Both my grandmothers tried to teach me.  Over the years various friends would try.  But, I could never get the hang of it.  I'm sure in no small part due to my lack of patience.  I wanted to do it, and it be perfect... now!  And art just doesn't work that way.

With the weather turning colder, my mind once again returned to thoughts of my mom and the things she would make.  I was determined to learn to crochet once and for all.  Its something I can do in the truck while we are moving, unlike drawing which requires the truck to be stationary due to all the bumps and such in the road.  We were in the craft section and he bought me a book, a DVD, some yarn and several various sized crochet hooks.  I studied the book, practiced some of the stitches.  Watched several videos on how to crochet.  And finally I think I have gotten the hang of it.

He's been incredibly supportive and encouraging, especially when I would get frustrated.  I've actually finished a few small practice pieces and he just bought me the yarn to try to make my very first afghan.  Needless to say I am incredibly excited.  But there is also a part of me that is melancholy as I wish my mother were here to finally see me able to crochet.  I wish there was a way to turn back the clock, or change the past, and allow me a cool afternoon of crocheting on the couch, sipping coffee, and talking with my mom as she was busy crocheting too.

Mom, I love you.  And you are missed every single day.



~sierra

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Can't we all just get along?



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The holidays are always a busy time of year.  People rushing from work, home, stores, and other various places getting ready for what ever festivities are included in their traditions.  The roads always seem more crowded and plagued with accidents.  We all like to think we are safe drivers.  “It”, meaning an accident, would never happen to us.  But chances are in your lifetime you will be involved in at least one automobile accident of some kind.

Slow down.  Be aware.  Leave space between vehicles.  Look for an out.  Don't text/talk on the phone and drive.  These are all common sense driving tips everyone is familiar with.  They are preached to us from the time we start driving.  But very few people are ever really taught how to drive around big trucks.  There is a common misconception that truck drivers are reckless, always in a hurry, speeding, or just other wise in the way of the common average American commuting on the highways.  Now granted, there are a few bad apples in every bunch, truck drivers and auto drivers alike.  I'd like to think though for the most part many of the accidents and aggravation come from simple ignorance, which can be remedied with a bit of education and a touch of patience.

Historical Fact:  Route 66 was the first fully paved highway in the United States.  It was completed to help truckers carry goods from the Midwest to the West coast and back.  It was later used for tourists and vacationers as a way to see the western part of the country.

Here are a few tips to help everyone as they go about their days and nights on the road preparing for the holidays, and every day beyond.  A little bit of education goes a long way.  Please pass this along and help make the roads safer for you, your loved ones, and everyone else out there.

The average car (4-wheeler in trucker terms) weighs about 4500lbs.

The average SUV or truck weighs about 7000lbs.

The average Tractor (without a trailer on the back), also known as a “Bobtail” weighs about 17000lbs – 20000lbs.

The average Tractor/Trailer combination when empty weighs about 35000lbs.

A Tractor/Trailer fully loaded weighs 80000lbs and up.  The more axels on a trailer the more weight it is pulling.

Speaking of weight and big trucks, they can't speed up and slow down like the average car.  It takes a lot of momentum, horsepower, and torque to get a big truck up a hill.  Typically a truck driver will try to gain a little extra speed before heading up a steep incline depending on how much weight he or she is pulling.  As the truck starts loosing power up the hill they will downshift for more pulling power.  If you block a truck in while going up a hill you are slowing that momentum down and making it infinitely harder for that truck to make it up the hill.  80,000lbs is a LOT of dead weight to haul and they need that speed.  So if you see a trucker coming up behind you on an incline, try to let him by if you can.  It's easier for you in a car to slow down and speed up on a hill than that heavily weighted truck.

Inversely, a fully loaded truck going down hill gains momentum and speed.  The weight of the freight in the trailer pushes the tractor down.  Unlike car brakes, when a big truck's brakes get hot they don't work at all.  Truckers rely on engine brakes and lower gear ratios to safely and somewhat slowly get them down the hill.

So that trucker you are annoyed with for slowing you down to a crawl up a hill and then appearing to race you down the hill, isn't being a jerk.  They are simply working within the mechanics of the truck they drive.  It's physics, nothing more.

When you are diving your car, truck, or SUV think about what happens when you hit the brakes.  How long does it take for you to stop when you are traveling 30mph?  65Mph?  When the roads are dry?  When the roads are wet?  It takes a big truck MUCH longer!  They can't just stop on a dime, or even a dollar.  If you cut off a big truck and then hit your brakes to slow down, you are just asking to be rear ended.  The laws of physics aren't in your favor, as there simply is no way a big truck can stop that fast.  And believe it or not, an empty truck and a bobtail are even more difficult to stop than a truck that is fully loaded.  That 3-car lengths you were taught in drivers ed that is necessary to leave between you and the next CAR, needs to be increased triple between you and a big truck.

On most highways the laws governing truckers prohibits them from being in the left lane except to pass.  If there are 3-4 lanes, the furthest left lanes are completely illegal for a big truck to travel in except in the case of road construction or accidents.  When you see a truck in the left lane just hanging out there with a blinker on, it is trying to get back in the right lane in accordance with the law.  And yes, police officers and DOT officers WILL pull them over for being in the wrong lane for too long, even if a car was holding them up for getting back in the right lane.

And why would a big truck be in the passing lane?  Traveling speed of course.  Big trucks get horrible fuel milage, 4-8mpg is the average.  Yes, 4-8.  And with the cost of diesel, you can image how much it costs to fill up each time.  Even a half a tank can cost $400!  It is better for fuel milage to maintain a steady speed than to speed up or down.  Every little bit helps the pocket book.  Owner/operators pay for their own fuel.  Company drivers get a discount, but often some of the cost still comes out of their pay.  And many of them only get those discounts or help IF they maintain a certain mpg per load.  So all that slowing down, speeding up, stopping, braking, etc, eats up their mpg!  Be kind, let a truck driver over to pass, or back in the proper lane without forcing them to race or play leap frog.  That would aggravate you, so it does them too.

When you are back there hanging out waiting for a trucker to come over, yet he just doesn't, chances are he can't see you.  He knows you're back there but not sure where.  If you can't see their side mirrors the trucker can't see you.  Ease up a little or speed up and get by him.  He's waiting on you to be clear of his trailer so he doesn't hit you.

The right side of a big truck is more dangerous than the left.  That is their “blind side”.  If at all possible always pass a big truck on the left.  And on either side, don't just hang out there by the trailer and tires.  That makes the truck driver nervous.  It's unsafe for you there.  For one, there is a good chance he can't see you.  And for two, if one of those tires blows it will total your car!  Seriously, those  tires are under so much air pressure, if it blows it can literally rip your pretty little Toyota easily in half.  If it will do that to a metal frame of a car, imagine what it will do to you?  Many people get nervous driving around big trucks or passing.  It's understandable.  But the worst possible thing you can do is just hang out back there.  Back off or get by them.  But remember when you pass don't cut them off and then slam on your brakes.

Many of the trucks on the roads today are “governed”, meaning their engine is programmed to not exceed a certain speed.  The companies put these restrictions on the truckers to prohibit speeding and to help with fuel milage.  It is hard coded into the ECM, the electronic brain of the engine.  It isn't something the trucker can bypass.  Some are limited to 58mph, some 60mph, some 62 or 65mph.  Not all trucks are governed, but many are.  So if it seems like a truck is taking forever to get around you, or just won't speed up, chances are he simply can't make that truck go any faster than it already is going.

Truck drivers communicate by CB radio.  If you see a truck driver suddenly slow down, or all the trucks trying to get over in a specific lane, you might want to follow suit.  They know what is up ahead, whether it is a cop with a radar, an accident, or construction.  They are slowing down or changing lanes for a reason, and it's not to interrupt your commute.

Many people think Truck Drivers are a poorly educated, untrained, unregulated bunch of miscreants let loose on the road.  Truth is many truck drivers are military veterans.  Many more have been traveling this country for 20-30 years.  They know the roads.  They know the history.  They follow and are active in the the laws of this country, not just road laws, but all laws.  They understand the workings of our government, the history of this country, the beauty of the land, and the inner streets of even the biggest cities.  For the most part they are good-hearted, family-oriented, softies just trying to make a living like you and me.

The fact is, that the trucking industry is highly regulated.  Truck drivers are limited in the number of hours they can be on duty, how many hours in a day they can drive, and how many hours in a 24-hour period they have to be off duty and in their sleeper.  Their trucks and trailers are inspected by DOT officers regularly.  Their CDL is highly regulated and they are protective of that.  Trust me they don't want to be the cause of an accident any more than you do. But a truck driver can only be as safe as the other vehicles around them.  A CDL isn't just handed to them, it is expensive to obtain and there is a huge book of laws, rules, and regulations they must study and learn. Further, each endorsement (hazmat, doubles, etc.) are expensive to get and to maintain.  Their driver logs are now electronically maintained are considered a legal federal document.

Big Trucks, 18-wheelers, Tractor/Trailers, or what ever other nickname you have for them make up a large and growing portion of the traffic on our highways and city streets.  They are a necessity.  Truck drivers are the heartbeat of America.  Everything you see, use, eat, wear, or otherwise own is transported across country via truck drivers and their big trucks.  Even the supplies to make the roads, your houses, even your landscaping is carried in some form by a tractor/trailer.  From crop to commerce, from lab to hospital, from warehouse to home, everything each of us use every single day is there because of a truck driver.  They are a necessity.  So think twice before you grumble about the trucks on the road.  And remember a few of these tips to help make the road safer and more pleasant for you and the truckers alike.

~sierra. (aka Kitty)

Monday, December 1, 2014

True Gun Control = Our Right to Bare Arms!

*DISCLAIMER*  
I rarely post political opinions because they are a hot topic and trigger arguments. This however, is a topic I am passionate about. And if I can't express my opinion on my own blog then there is much more wrong with this world. Agree or disagree with me, but no arguing, no name calling, and above all else be respectful and considerate of differing opinions. Diversity is beautiful.

Someone posted a meme stating "how did a well regulated militia get twisted to mean a well armed unregulated populace?" 

I love how all these political memes on both sides of any issue fail to take in all considerations and historical precedence. The history of the American population is diverse and based not just on events from our own country but from the long history of England and other governments much older than our own. Specifically, what those governing bodies did that the citizens and government of the newly formed United States wanted to avoid. 

The provisions for the individual states' militias stated for every able bodied male between the ages 18 and 54.  Every male citizen was required by law to carry arms and ammunition. There was provisions for them to report twice a year for some minimal training, but it wasn't well regimented. These essentially unorganized militia served as a sort of check and balance against the more organized national guard, army reserve, and national army and navy, as well as the government that controlled them. They were to protect the citizens of the states against tyranny, abuse of political power, local crisis, and foreign invasion.  

The laws, amendments, alterations, and revisions are many. Some over the years have been contradictory. But the spirit of the initial laws passed by our forefathers was to ensure the right of this country's citizens to bare arms. It is one of the many CORE issues this country was founded on, not something added later. Since politics, money, power, and greed are seeds of a destuctive weed that will thrive even in "civilized" societies, this is a right we can ill afford to relinquish.  This argument has nothing to do with unwell or evil minds hell-bent on destruction and murder. Those people will always find a way to carry out their destruction regardless of laws in place or availability of needed items. This is about the majority, the average American citizen's inalienable right to protect themselves and their families and towns from not just sick individuals, but a government out of control. Money, power, and corruption go hand in hand. Every society from the dawn of time has fallen into those traps.  The combined wisdom of our founding fathers knew this and gave the new citizens the right to protect themselves from such a fate. It may or may not work, but without this provision in place, we as a population stand zero chance against such an eventuality. 

 "Civilian control of a peacetime army"

At the time of the drafting of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, a political sentiment existed in the newly formed United States involving suspicion of peacetime armies not under civilian control. This political belief has been identified as stemming from the memory of the abuses of the standing army of Oliver Cromwell and King James II, in Great Britain in the prior century, which led to theGlorious Revolution and resulted in placing the standing army under the control of Parliament[18] 

During the Congressional debates, James Madison discussed how a militia could help defend liberty against tyranny and oppression:  

The highest number to which a standing army can be carried in any country does not exceed one hundredth part of the souls, or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This portion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Besides the advantage of being armed, it forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. 

The governments of Europe are afraid to trust the people with arms. If they did, the people would surely shake off the yoke of tyranny, as America did. Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors."- (Source I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789) As a side bar, this is also Federalist Paper No. 46.

Tench Coxe, a prominent American political economist of the day (1755–1824) who attended the earlier constitutional convention in Annapolis, explained (in the Pennsylvania Federal Gazette on June 18, 1789) the founders' definition of who the militia was intended to be and their inherent distrust of standing armies under the direct control of 'civil rulers' when he wrote:  The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American ...the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people. 

The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the people at large, will render many troops quite unnecessary. They will form a powerful check upon the regular troops, and will generally be sufficient to over-awe them. Whereas civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms." 

I could go on citing many more examples from history validating our right bare arms.  And I will gladly have a deeper discussion with anyone should they care to message me or post respectful comments.  But "gun control", banning guns from legal citizens is not a solution to the problems of today.  In fact, I absolutely promise you by removing guns from American citizens you will succeed only in compounding violence and oppression 1000 fold, and new horrors against American people the likes of which we haven't seen yet! History has proven as much over and over again.  You are ignorant and arrogant to think it won't happen here in America.

 ~sierra

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Clear hair, Cold nights


[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]


One of the hardest things to get used to while being over the road in a big truck is not being able to take a shower every day. When you're under a load that has a tight time table finding time to stop and shower isn't always possible. Every time we get fuel we earn shower credits at places like Flying J, Loves, Petro, and Pilot truckstops.  But we can't always stop at those when he has to drive until his time is out.

Last night was one of those no truck stop nights.  Instead we stopped on a "get on ramp" off the interstate in the middle of the desert.  It was late and dark, and the stars were so bright in the sky miles away from any city lights.  The Milky Way just jumped out at you like special effects at a 3d movie.  Despite the spectacular view I couldn't relax because my head was itching. My hair needed washing and bad!

This was the view to random passerbyers.  Me standing outside the truck, the top of my head barely reaching the bottom of the door. The desert winds blowing, dropping the already chilly air to near freezing while I used a spray bottle to wet my hair. Thankfully, I keep a small bottle of Dr. Bronners castille soap on the truck. It cleans and refreshes wonderfully, removing oil and dirt without tons of bubbles and lather to try and rinse away. The bad thing about it is, it has peppermint in it, which is cooling.



Scrubbing the soap into my wet hair, in the cold night air, my poor little fingers were frozen. Then the fun part.  He had a gallon jug of rinse water which he slowly poured over my head. So here I am bent over, head turned upside down, combing my numb fingers through my hair as he poured cold water over it right there off the side of the interstate. Yay for teamwork!  It didn't take much water thankfully and my hair was fresh and clean.

Clean hair finally, and I was able to sleep last night all snuggled up to him to keep warm.  Tonight we get a hot showers somewhere near Fort Worth, TX.

~sierra

Monday, November 17, 2014

Main Street of America


Get your kicks on Route 66!

This morning while heading down a road in the middle of no where desert California I startled him with a squeal.  Blazed in white in the middle of this little two-lane blacktop was the unmistakable symbol of Route 66!  In my head I started singing lyrics from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, John Mayer, and the Rolling Stones.  Of course the wonderful man that he is, he humored and stopped for pictures.  Even the dog got in on the family photo opp!  

Route 66 has nearly as many pop culture references and historical landmarks as it does miles. Officially opened in 1926, it was the first fully paved highway in America. The over 2000 miles of two-laned road from Chicago to LA was officially closed in 1985, but many patches of the original highway remain and there is a movement to reopen it and restore the historic landmarks. This a huge part of Americana and is quite literally a highway through time, miles and miles filled with glimpses into the history and progression of the American traveler. 

Well if you ever plan to motor west
Just take my way that's the highway that's the best
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it winds from Chicago to L.A.
More than 2000 miles all the way
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it goes from St Louis, Joplin, Missouri
Oklahoma City looks ooh so pretty
You'll see Amarillo and Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona don't forget Winona
Kingsman, Barstow, San Bernadino

Would you get hip to this kindly tip
And go take that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it goes from St. Louis, Joplin, Missouri
Oklahoma City looks ooh so pretty
You'll see Amarillo and Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona don't forget Winona
Kingsman, Barstaw, San Bernadino

Would you get hip to this kindly tip
And go take that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66
Get your kicks on Route 66


~sierra

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Past, Present, Future



One of the things I love about being over the road is getting to see all the terrain and climate differences from across the country.  I've seen the white sands of the Gulf Coast, the foliage filled mountains and winding hills of the Appalachians, the crop covered rolling hills of the great plains, snow topped mountains, painted skies, the intricately wind-carved ridges all along the Colorado river, wide open skies of Montana, and the airid desolation of the Mojave desert.  Each trip out is something new to see and experience.  Even places or roads we've traveled before reveal new sights due to different times in the day or variations in season.  Everyday quite literally is a new adventure.

One of our recurring conversations is speculation on what the native americans of yester-year and the early settlers saw as they too experienced this country for the first time.  What was it like for them then, back before technology shaped and often scarred the landsides?  What did they see by campfire light before there were paved roads, headlights, and streetlights?  We even discuss the travelers of last century heading across county by car, long before there were gas stations and rest areas every few miles.  And then we wonder what travelers of tomorrow will see as the world continues to advance.  Will those future travelers also wonder what we of today saw?  How much will the future change?  And how much of history and nature will be lost in those changes?

Sequaro cactus from Arizona.
This one was about 20 feet tall, though many of these
cactus can grow to 70 feet tall and live up to 150 years. 

Yes we're out here for work.  He has deadlines to meet and DoT regulations to maintain.  Often the days are long and by night we are road weary, him so much more than me.  But despite the required hours of work, in many ways truck driving is like a working vacation; a dream to get paid to travel the county.  Sure we don't often have time to stop, but this country provides visions of wonder to behold right out the window if you only take the time to notice.  I look forward to each day eagerly awaiting what ever wonderous view lays hidden around the next bend.



Sunset from US 95 in Southern California near the Mojave Desert.
~sierra

Friday, November 14, 2014

Realities of living in a Big Truck



[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]

Its been a little while since my last update.  In that time we made it home for a few days. We are now back out again and currently making the long haul across Texas on I-10 heading to Southern California.  In just over a week we went from Florida, to South Carolina, to Indiana, to Dallas, to Corpus Christi.  When we left home in the Florida panhandle it was in the 80s. Today the high in Corpus Christi was 44.  44!!!  In what dimention is it considered normal for Southern Texas to ever be that cold?

So we are heading to Southern California which will take us right through the Mojave Desert.  Naturally I am excited. We have a lot of time to get to our drop destination.  That means time to stop and take pictures.  There is something about the southwest's desolate beauty that appeals to me.  Maybe because it is so radically different from where I grew up.

This trip out we have better organization in the truck. When we were home he installed a 3600watt power inverter.  This will help power the new refrigerator, microwave, and coffee pot. And of course we already had the crockpot.  We lucked out at Sams and found a nice fridge on sale.  Its about 2 feet tall, like the ones you usually find in hotel rooms. Now I'm able to keep fresh veggies, milk, and enough meat for two or three meals at a time.   We can now have fresh hot coffee every morning, home cooked meals, cold drinks, and healthy snacks.  He also installed some small dresser drawers above the bed for better organization and storage.

Most of the cooking is done in the crockpot.  I found these crockpot liner bags that make cleanup a breeze.  The clean bag goes in the crockpot, then the food for cooking.  After we're done eating I wipe plates, cutlery, and stuff down with paper towels to remove food particles and grease. Then wipe everything with lysol wipes with bleach which kills germs.  Finally, I have a spray bottle with water, which I use to spray everything down and dry with a clean paper towel.  It may not be as ideal as a dish washer, but it still kills germs and is less wasteful than disposable plates, bowels, cutlery, etc...  All the trash goes in the now empty crockpot liner and throw it all away.

Of course cooking while traveling down the road is great but presents its own challenges.  You don't realize how bumpy, crooked, or otherwise imperfect our highways are until you are balanced on one foot, on top of a spring mattress, reaching on tip toe to grab something out of a cabinet; or trying to cut veggies on a small cutting board on a small slide out table and keep said veggies from bouncing to the floor at the same time.  I feel like the girl on the flying trapeze.  And did you know a bed makes a great prep area?  It has become my assembly line. Everything gets lined up on the right side of me. As I use it, it gets moved to the left side.  Strap the crockpot down and put everything away again.

When you are confined to a 73" living space three things become important. First, you have to have organization. In small spaces it doesn't take much for trash and clutter to build up.  A cluttered space is depressing and unhealthy. We try to keep everything put away. Trash gets taken out evry day. He even installed an air hose in the cab to help blow out dirt and dust.

Second, you have to make time to get out and walk around. Sitting for long periods is bad for your health. It can create blood clots in your legs due to lack of circulation. Being sedentary is bad for your blood pressure and your metabolism, as well as bad on your joints and nerves.  When we stop at truck stops he always parks in the very back, which gives us lots of leg stretching time when we walk back and forth. Having Missy with us helps too, because we have to walk the dog several times a day.  And on the days when we aren't pressed for time extra stops for pictures and site seeing help too.

Third, its important to have hobbies. Being cooped up in a small space with nothing to entertain your mind causes cabin fever, grumpiness, high tension, and other forms of stress. He and I spend a lot of time talking and joking with each other. We talk about the things we see as we travel, as well as future dreams and plans.  I look up places we're going to and we discuss the history and other trivia. We listen to a lot of music. We listen to the news and have discussions on what we hear. I spend time blogging. Yes, I do updates and check ins with my friends and family on facebook. I read on my kindle app. I have my drawing materials for when we are stopped.  And currently, I am again trying to teach myself to crochet.

Also important I think, is for each of us to have time to ourself. Not that easy in such small confines. He gets up in the morning and shuts the sleeper curtain allowing me time to wake up slowly. This is his time to listen to his talk radio shows.  After I wake up we spend some time together talking and planning.  We plan the trip route together, daily stops, fuel locations, and work on paperwork together. Usually some time in the afternoon I will go back in the sleeper to read, cook, rest, or listen to music with my headphones on, and let us each have some "me" time again.

I think we are managing a good balance. We manage to be considerate and respectful of each other. There's always lots of laughter and I love yous. And overall I feel this adventure has been good for us.  Adapting to a new lifestyle isn't all smiles and sunshine. But when two people work together the bumps in the road don't seem quite so big.

~sierra


Friday, November 7, 2014

The best part of waking up...


The year was 1993. I was barely 21 and getting ready for my first day at a new job and what turned out to be the start of a new career.  Mornings were hard for me.  I was lucky to get my clothes on right-side in and forward most days.  There I was standing in the tiny kitchen of my rented house trying to figure out if I had everything before walking out the door when suddenly there was a knock.

Anxiously I peeked out and there he was, all smiling and full of energy.  He came by to wish me good luck on my first day. I remember him straightening my scrub top and fixing the hem of my pants so they were properly tucked into my socks, hey it was the 90s.  He made sure I had my purse, my lunch, my keys, a big hug and loving kiss, then sent me on my way.

It is now 21 years later, mornings haven't gotten any easier, and he is still always thinking of me.

This morning I woke up and the truck wasn't moving.  He usually wakes up before me and drives for an hour or two before I wake up. Then we stop to get coffee or breakfast. But, this morning we were already stopped.  I poked my messy bed head out of the sleeper and was greeted with "Good morning my beautiful!"  A groggy, I-haven't-had-coffee-yet smile and I manage to ask why we were stopped.

There is a pass in North Carolina on I-40 heading up to Tennessee.  It is a gorge that follows the Pigeon River for 20 some miles.  He told me he didn't want me to miss it, so he stopped and waited so I could see it.  Always thinking of me.  Always taking care of me.  After getting dressed and getting a hot cup of coffee, made right here in the truck, he took me on a leisurely drive through the gorge.  As I sipped my coffee I got to see the mountain fall colors in all their magesty.  Ambers, golds, coppers,  and ruby reds, mixed in with the vibrant evergreens.  It was a gorgeous morning driving through God's garden all decked out in Christmas colors.
Morning in the mountains, 11/07/2014


And there he sat in the driver's seat pointing trees and mountains out to me, all the while with a smile of amusement on his handsome face. The road was narrow and curvy, and there weren't any scenic pull offs to stop and take pictures. While I managed to snap a few from the moving truck, the memory of this serene mountain morning will always remain.  And every day I hope I make him as happy and feel as loved as he does me.

~sierra


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Red Rover, Red Rover


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Send tumbly right over.

How many of you remember playing Red Rover in elementary school?  You would wait for the other side to call your name and then run as fast as you could to try and break through their held hands. If you broke through you went back to your team. If you didn't break through you had to join the team that called your name.

Driving down the highway in southern Colorado I finally saw a live tumbleweed.  Ok.  So technically tumblweeds are dead plants blowing across the road.  But someone forgot to tell them that. The tumbleweeds were all lined up against the fences on either side of the road.  The bunch of them just quivering in the breeze like a bunch of kids waiting to hear their name called. Suddenly, one breaks free and rushes across the road, bouncing,  zigging and zagging.  The brownish bush darting forward then jumping back, only to zoom forward again.   This one made it across.  The next one turned around and went back the way it came.  A bunch of kids playing Red Rover between the cars on the highway.



They were fun to watch.  I could just imagine them laughing and giggling as they tumbled along.  Cheering each other on.  Razzing the hesitant ones, and squeeling with delight as they played chicken with the big trucks and won.

Yes indeed, I saw my first and many live tumbleweeds in the desolate flat lands of southern Colorado.

~sierra

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Truck Lag

Being sick when you're over the road sucks!

To be fair I doubt being sick at anytime is on anyone's list of top fun things. But when you are traveling it is even worse.  All you want is a dark room, a soft pillow, a comfortable bed, and lots of quiet. Instead you are in a big truck traveling 70mph down bumpy interstate roads, up and down mountains,  and often crazy traffic. Now imagine all that motion on top of four great big air pillows!  The cab of our truck sits on these, "air ride", it helps cushion the jarring from the road. But when you are laying down in the sleeper on a spring matrress it feels like being bounced around on a trampoline.  Fun.

I'm not really sure what was wrong with me.  It started sometime Sunday, but really hit me late Monday.  For a little over 24 hours I had no energy or appetite.  I didn't even want to drink anything.  At one stop before it hit full force we were walking back to the truck and I had to lean on him to help me because I suddendly felt overwhelmingly exhausted.  I wasnt sick to my stomach. No fever.  No sniffles or coughing. Just pure exhaustion. Oh and a whole lot of peeing even through I wasn't drinking anything.

He says I was probably suffering from road or truck lag. Essentially the same principle as jet lag. In the past 3 weeks I went from living on the east coast at or below sea level for most of my life, to traveling over the smokey mountains twice, across the midwest plains three times, up, over, and down the rocky mountains four times, and from the coastal pacific northwest, down through Texas, and back to the east coast. Thats a lot of time zone, climate, and altitude changes in a short amount of time; especially for someone who isn't used to it.

Thankfully today I feel almost normal. We stopped and got a long hot shower, a  hot cup of coffee, and a good meal.  Tomorrow on to new adventures.

~sierra

Friday, October 24, 2014

*Pet Peeve* Piddle Problems

Ok, so I want to know what is up with women in public bathrooms!  Sorry guys if this embarrasses you or falls under TMI. But seriously girls, help me out here.

As someone who suffers from "stage fright" I always try to pick a bathroom stall that is not right next to someone else. Heck, even at home I hesitate and struggle if someone is right outside the door, or even in the next room.  In public facilities it isn't always possible to be completely alone in the restroom, or even have empty stalls on either side of you, especially if there is a waiting line. But it never fails.  The ladies room can be totally empty when I go in.  Then someone will come in and pick the stall next to me.  Now I'm not talking small two or three stall tinkle rooms.  I mean the big ones with lots of little privacy rooms.  I have tried picking the stalls on either far end and various stalls in the middle.  Yet every single time someone will come in and sit right next to me.

Come on ladies!  Seriously, are we that potty codependant?  Give a girl some piddle room please?

~sierra

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A small town morning in Wall, South Dakota



This morning we woke up at the foot of the Black Hills, in South Dakota in a little town called Wall. There isn't much in Wall besides an Ace Hardware, a small local grocery store, a few small hotels, and of course the historical Main Street with Wall Drug. Wall Drug was started by a young couple in 1931. A family run drug store complete with soda fountain. After struggling for 5 years they came up with a sales gimmick to draw in weary travelers.... free ice water. And it worked. Wall Drug today takes up a full city block filled with memorabilia, trinkets, gifts, and an incredible collection of authentic photos and paintings chronoling the settlement of the Badlands and Midwest. Ice water is still free. A cup of coffee is only 5cents. Plus they serve delicious homemade old fashioned cake style donuts. Yum!!!

After a brisk walk down 4 blocks in the chilly morning winds, he and I rambled around Wall Drug enjoying the walk through history, the beautiful arts and crafts, stunning black hills gold jewlery, and yes even hokey tourist displays and gifts. We sat and enjoyed a hot cup of coffee and a donut before walking hand in hand back up Main Street. Ahhh, such is life in a peaceful small town. A brief stop a the little grocery for dinner provisions, then back to the truck and modern day.

It was a nice relaxing break from the road. And now on to what is sure to be more breath taking views of the Badlands and Black Hills. Hopeefully next time I will have pictures to share of the scenery.

~sierra

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The reality in the science fiction

If you've ever watched any futuristic science fiction movies there seems to be a few common themes for the cities feaurted in the story. One of which is that the cities are in levels, a physical representation of the old-fashioned caste system.

The ground levels are naturally the oldest. Built first, they are the foundation of the city. Here you find your working class; the poor, the struggling, and the outcasts.

Moving vertical up through the city you find the blue collar workers, the middle class, the everyday common citizen. The chools, hospitals, and other community sevice buildings are also usually in yhese areas.

At the very top of the city, the highest levels, the tallest buildings you find the wealthy. These are the city leaders, both electorials and financial. These are the newest buildings with clean designs free of the rubble and crowding of the lower levels.

Ok, you say. We all know this, you think. So why take the time to explain it?  Why?  Because traveling through the very real modern-day Kansas City was like traveling through one of these science fiction cities. I noticed it first when we were heading West. The city newspaper building was a huge structure made of glass and polished steel, shiney and bright. The buildings around it were modern and clean. There was an arena with a conical shape much like the classic opera house of Syndey. All of these were built up on the highest level of the city, literally.  There are highways over highways.  Buildings on top of buildings.  It is quiet liertally a city of class levels.

Traveling into the city heading back East this theme is even more apparent. At the lowest level is the river with all the original trade and commerce of cargo boats and trains.  There are miles and miles of train yards easily 2-3 football fields wide. The buildings are old brick, dirty, in disrepair, and many abandoned or condemned. Approaching the city there is an stone wall built along the side of a hill separating the train yards from the newer working class businesses and homes. Many of these are still made of red brick but clearly younger and better maintained.  Finally the roads split, the city continues to climb and you travel into the newest sections. The transition is marked and quick. The new stylized buildings stand in starke contrast to the older middle class structures below.

My eyes wide and my mind spinning while we traveled through the city,  I couldn't help but see the similarities of real and fiction. Beyond all that I continue to be excited to have this opportunity to see all these amazing sites.  Also, I am thankful for my parents who instilled in me the love of reading which has fed my love of science fiction, both books and film which helps me appreciate all that I see.

~sierra

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Living Small in Wide Open Spaces

The past couple of days we've traveled through Kansas, Wyoming, and down in to Utah. Looking out on the plains to a horizon many miles away is a lot looking out across the ocean. It's harvest time, and the lyrics "amber waves of grain" come to life before my eyes. Then later, some nearly 9000 feet above sea level in Wyoming looking out from the top of a mountain and seeing the beauty of the world below spread out in
uncountable miles of glorious beauty was a moment I will never forget.





Born and raised in Florida I am used to trees hugging the roads. You can't see too far off in the distance unless you're at the beach. Out in the midwest with rolling hills, farm land, and mountains there is lots of wide open spaces in every direction. I imagine due to the more airid climate and high winds trees don't grow nearly as tall and they tend to be more spaced out; oasises of green nestled in fields of gold. The open space is refreshing, especially as I gaze out from behind the glass of our International 73" sleeper.

While it is wide open spaces on the outside, inside we are learning to live in a total space that is about half the size of our bedroom back home. Clutter adds up quickly if you're not careful. Having such limited space makes you really think and prioritize all your "stuff". It is more important than ever to have a place for everything and to keep everything in its place. Clothes are rolled, not folded, to save space. Each category of clothing is in its own bag to keep everything from getting jumbled up. Plastic store bags, the kind you get from the grocery store or walmart, become small trash bags that are thrown away daily. We took the top bunk out to allow more head room when standing. It makes the sleeper feel less crowded. In the relatively near future he plans to build some small cabinets snd shelves with netting to better utilize the verticle space. Especially since we will remove one of the small cabinets on the floor to put in a refrigerator and microwave.

Of course the mind needs a personal space to be cluttered, messy orgaization. The cubbies above the driver and passenger seats are for each of us to keep how ever we wish. While I straighten up the sleeper and cab daily and keep on top of any trash or clutter, his cubbie is left alone. That is his personal, hands off space. The same with the cubbie on my side. It gives us each a sence of personal space in such small confinement. Being in such close quarters basically 24/7 it's important to have that little bit of personal space no matter how small or perceived.

I am looking forward to both the interior and exterior upgrades to our extremely mobile and tiny home. And I am still beyond excited about seeing this amazing country.

~sierra

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Beyond Pictures

It was early morning, the sun barely in the sky. As we came around the curve and up over the hill, I couldn't believe my eyes. Through the mist and rain, clouds rested against the mountain sides. The wind rustled the multi-colored leaves and the clouds stretched like pulled cotton clinging to the tree tops. Down into a valley another curve in the road was balanced between a steep drop to our right and sheer rock cliffs to our left. Every few yards cool mountain water raced from rock creavaces cascading onto an old railcar resting on its iron tracks which hugged the rugged curves of this Tennessee mountain.

And there was no place to pull over to capture this picturesque scene which seemed straight from some old Hollywood movie. Even if there had been the slanting rain would have made digital capture near impossible. But the memory will forever be burned in my mind.

And of course his smile at watching my excitement and reactions.

Breath caught finally and conversation ensued. We were going by Lookout Mountain, the top of which allows a spectacular view over multiple states. I vaguely remember going with my parents when I was young, 9 or 10 maybe. The last time he was there was with grandparents when he was around 13.

....

We both visited Lookout Mountain as kids at the same time! Was he that rambuctious boy my parents scowled at? We'll never know, but it makes my heart race to think about the many near misses we had through the years. The almost meeting here or there. We have many of those, and today was the discovery of yet another.

I can't wait to see what new adventures every tomorrow brings.

~sierra
posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, October 13, 2014

New Adventures


[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]


Seventy three inches. That is the total length of our new "home."

Along with new living space I am also learning a whole new language and lifestyle. Being on the road is a culture unto itself. Lifestyle changes, storage challenges for small living, CB radio lingo, trucker jargon, and more are all part of this modern-day gypsy lifestyle. I have only been on the truck a few days and I have learned to differentiate between different truck models and styles even from a distance, the names of different truck parts, and experienced a few of the woes of being mobile. Overall it has been a good, if somewhat slow start.

We've been stuck in Atlanta for a couple days. While being parked in a truck stop over the weekend isnt terribly exciting, its given he and I a chance to talk about plans, places, dreams, and adjust to being in such close confines and around each other essentially 24/7. I am happy to say all is well in that department, great even.

Seventy three inches isn't a whole lot of space, and I was worried I packed too much. However, I got most of our belongings all put away and surprised there is still room for more. Even the twin mattress feels comfy and roomy with the both of us on it. For now we just have sheets and a sleeping bag until I find a comforter set I like. When we first started talking about doing this I teased him about putting kitty paw prints all over his truck. Guess what? He decorated the truck with little kitty cat paw prints decals for me!







We are in Atlanta for a few more hours then we begin a trek across country to Denver and then Salt Lake City. He's already trying to plan a route that will take us by some huge sunflower fields for me to see. Regardless of which way we go, I am just excited to finally be able to see more of the country and have a great partner to experience it all with me.

~sierra
posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Quilt

It's funny how the mind works.  I was drinking my coffee this morning and poking around on Pinterest, two of my favorite addictions, when I stumbled across an Emmet Kelly figurine post under the "Everything" option in Pinterest.  So, I started looking up Emmet Kelly figurines, which somehow also added a Precious Moments clown figurine in the search.  So of course I had to reminisce and look up Precious Moments, as my aunt, my mother's sister and whom I am named after, used to cross stitch Precious Moments scenes.  Many of the PM kids reminded me of another childhood character, Holly Hobbie.  I bet you can guess what I had to look up next!

And that brings me to the purpose of this post, childhood memories.  Specifically one childhood memory, a quilt.

There are few material things remaining in my life from my childhood; my quilt is one of them.  And though it is tattered and in disrepair, it is one of my most valuable possessions.

The quilt.  It is old and threadbare.  It is stained and faded.  Much of the quilting is now flat and there are a few holes in some of the squares.

My quilt.  It feels like home and smells like memories.  It is worn and soft, and nothing in the world can compare to its comfort.

You see, when I was a baby my grandmother made this particular quilt for me.  She spent the better part of a year (so I've been told) hand-stitching from start to finish a quilt for each of her grandkids as Christmas presents.  Both of my brothers got a quilt, one in blues and greens, and one in earthy tones.  Neither of my brothers still have their quilt.  They were long since lost or discarded.

My quilt, my precious quilt, is squares of pastel pink and a light summery green.  Each and every square was decorated with needlework of Holly Hobbie, enough squares to completely cover a twin-sized bed.  The style of needlework was embroidery, not cross stitch, with beautiful stylized stitches accented with decorative knots.  I can't even imagine the time my mother's mother put into making just this one quilt, all by hand, much less three.

This is what the needlepoint work originally
would have looked like on my quilt.
Through the course of a lifetime my quilt was used to keep me warm, as padding to sleep on, comfort when I was sick, a play mat for my kids as well as the children of my friends and family, and to warm my mother when she was battling cancer.  It has silently witnessed everything from birth to death of human and furry creatures a like.  It has felt the coolness of grass on a spring day and protected me from the burning sands of the beach on a hot summer's afternoon.  It has been eaten on, spilled on, bled on, thrown up on, had diapers changed on it, machine washed and rewashed, bleached, sun dried and dryer dried, even hand washed more than a few times, used as a couch cover, a chair throw, a car and hotel blanket when traveling, a crib/playpen "sheet", a pet bed, and yes, even as a cover for my own bed.

Now almost 40 years old, the lovingly-stitched Holly Hobbie scenes are long gone, the decades-old thread having been faded and worn away to nothing.  You can still faintly make out where some of the knots and stitches us to be.  The lining and edging are frayed and have holes in them.  Life, my life, has left a few permanent stains on the now delicate fabric of the quilt.  The stains that to others may seem unsightly, to me make it all the more beautiful because of the memories of a lifetime held within each one.

My grandmother has long since passed away, and sadly so has my mother.  But I have a quilt, and because of that I will always have a little bit of them with me.

My quilt


~sierra

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Influenster and the VowVoxBox

"Vow Vox Box"? Don't Panic!

You haven't missed any invitations or save the date notices.  There are no wedding plans, secret or otherwise.  However, #Influenster recently had another vox box program of products to sample that would go well with the pending blushing bride or possible potential maybe perhaps one day bride. Anyway, breathe.....

This was a smaller vox box but it was packed with some pretty great items from #SallyHansen, #Ecotools, #Puresilk, #Tide, and a coupon for a wedding website by #Riley&Grey.  So let me give you guys the run down.


The first item to try was of course Sally Hansen's the complete manicure nail polish in Barracuda Blue.  What a fun summer name for a pretty light blue polish.  Initially I tried it on both my fingers and toes.  As I figured, I'm not a color on my fingernails kind of girl.  I'm fairly boring in that department sticking with the tried and true french manicure.  But oh my little toesies!  They loved the blue, especially at the beach.  As you can see above.

It was just light enough to brighten up the toes, but not so dark to make people give your feet funny looks.  Well more funny looks.  Lets face it, feet can be kind of funny looking on their own.  But my little toes felt so pretty in pink.... er blushing in blue with this color.  It's a matte babyish sky blue.  Very pretty and feminine.  And definitely an option for the bride who might need that little "something in blue" on her special day.  Try doing a french manicure with Barracuda Blue colored tips instead of the normal white.  Elegant, colorful, and whimsical all in one.

Pure Silk shaving cream was the next up to try.  I've never been one to use shaving cream, instead opting for body soap, shampoo, conditioner, or lotion... Basically just what ever was handy.  I have latin (Cuban) blood in my so unfortunately I tend to have to shave my legs rather frequently, especially in the summer.  Every other day isn't unheard of for me.  The first thing I noticed with the Pure Silk was I got a much closer shave.  This was honestly somewhat of a surprise for me because I didn't think it would make that much of a difference.  So close in fact that it was 5 days before I had to shave again.  A few shaves latter I started with a fresh razor and that familiar dread as they always leave me with little nicks and cuts the first shave or two.  Much to my surprise I walked away without even the tiniest cut.  I was so surprised by this fact that I spend a full 5 minutes standing in the bathroom in front of the mirror looking at my legs examining them for any tell-tale trickle of blood and just flabbergasted that I couldn't see even one drop.  Yay for Pure Silk.  It has turned my shaving routine from a torture to just routine.

The Tide To Go pen was the object I was least looking forward to testing as I have an allergy to Tide.  After much debate and thought I decided it would be safe to try.  It is after all just a small amount on a small spot on a single item of clothing.  It couldn't possibly cause too bad of an allergic reaction.  Of course, I had just spilled coffee on my favorite white tank top that I sleep in.  Tide to the rescue.  Coffee and mornings.... no I wasn't coherent enough to take pictures.  I wish I had.  The pen took the stain out in just seconds.  When I washed the shirt, I did so with regular laundry and not whites with beach.  When it came out of the dryer it was all pretty white with no coffee spots on it.  The Tide To Go pen found a new home in my purse.

Sadly, I did not use the website offer as I have no wedding to plan.  I did look around at their site a little and their offers.  This seems like it would be a great thing to do, especially if you are a bride planning a large wedding, or have family and/or bridal party members who do not live close to you.  It's just another wonderful way to commemorate your beautiful and special day.

Once again, thank you to Influenster, Sally Hansen, Ecotools, Pure Silk, Tide, and Riley & Grey for the items in the Vow Vox Box and allowing me to sample and test them.  The VoxBox program is always fun, helpful, and every time I learn both about new products and known products with new product line that I might not have otherwise.

~sierra

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Coffee is good for you when consumed responsibly... AKA a Fishy Tale


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A tale about why coffee is good for you...

We have a salt water fish tank and our fishy eats frozen fish food.  Every morning I get up, let the p3 out to go potty, turn the light on the fish tank, and put a cube of the frozen fish food in a cup with some water to melt while I get coffee started.  I know.  I know!  That process of events is backwards.  Coffee should always come first.  But the other is a better use of time and keeps me from walking in circles.   Usually, I fix my cup, then take my coffee along with the plastic cup of fish food to the living room where Lt. Dan (our surviving fish) gets fed and I sit and sip my coffee enjoying the sunshine from the open door. This morning The first part of my routine flowed normally without problem.

That is until I went to fix my first cup of coffee....  I poured my cup of coffee, added creamer and sugar, grabbed the spoon, stirred, picked up the cup to take my first sip and paused.  Thank GOODNESS fish food has a fishy smell.  I had stirred the fish food and nearly took a long, not so comforting, first sip of.... fish food soup, mixed with creamer and sugar.  Talk about gastric disaster.  Fish cup emptied and rinsed, new fish food defrosted and fed to Lt. Dan AFTER I had a full half a cup of coffee.

Remember folks... Safety First - Coffee before anything!

~sierra

Friday, June 20, 2014

Humor or Horror in Housework



[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]

Remember the Steven King movie (and book) Maximum Overdrive, where all the machines come to life?  Or what about The Transformers and the Spark that brings electronics/machines to life?  Could that have happened already with our common, everyday house cleaning equipment?

Because I am convinced my dryer is carnivore, or a clothivore, or perhaps just a sockivore!

Why is it every time I do laundry an even number of socks go in but an odd number comes out?  Has it somehow had a spark and come to life needing a regular diet of tubular cotton fiber?  Perhaps it is seeking a certain flavor, something that reminds it of some far off planetary system it's collective intelligence called home; therefore it keeps trying different socks hoping to find that reminiscent taste? Kind of how we take a bite out of a chocolate and put it back in the box because it wasn't what we were looking for.  So the dryer eats only one sock out of a set, deciding it isn't the flavor it wants and therefore leaves the other one untouched?  Should I be amused at the daily dietary divergence of my dryer or horrified at the mass slaughter of socks that leaves the twin sock orphaned and alone?

Either way, I am convinced that yes, my dryer does in fact snack on socks, and lint is the undigested remains of said socks.

~sierra sugar

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and boys.... oh my!

So I watched the first ‪#‎Transformers‬ movie last night with him. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised and quite enjoyed it.

When I was in high school I remember scoffing at the advertisements for the new movie coming out... "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". I swore up and down it was going to be stupid and no way was I going to watch it. A friend of mine took me out on a date to see "Tales from the Crypt" which was in theatres at the same time, or so I thought that's what we were going to see. He already bought our tickets, so we spent some time playing games in the arcade in the mall across from the theatre (hey we were in high school!).  When it was time, we went to find our seats. I didn't pay attention to where I was walking so much, I just followed him. Let the boy be the "man".  You know, all those girly things we do to make men feel in charge.

Of course he tricked me. Sneaky bugger! He was taking me to see 
‪#‎TMNT‬ instead. I remember being upset and ready to walk out of the theatre. He begged me to sit down and just give it a chance. "Don't make a scene" I think were his exact words. So I sat. Arms crossed, back stiff, silently seething. About 5 minutes into the show or so, I don't remember exactly, but I started to relax. By the end of the movie I had laughed, cried, and was looking forward to hopefully a TMNT 2.

When the first #Transformer movie first came out back in 2007 (?) I scoffed and swore it would be stupid and I'd never watch it. Sound familiar? When Allen and I went to the movies a few weeks back one of the trailers was for the 4th Transformer movie coming out this summer, in #IMAX 3D. I was surprised at not only how interesting the Transformer trailer seemed, also happy to see that it had Mark Wahlberg in it. He turned out to be one truly amazing actor. Allen said he wanted to see it when it came out, I agreed. He asked me if I'd seen the first 3. I shook my head no. So, I was told I needed to see them first.

I think I need to stop saying "That looks stupid, I'll never watch it". Just because the theme is a "boy" theme doesn't mean a girl can't enjoy it. We want guys to watch chick flicks with us (sometimes), so I need to be more open-minded and watch boy stuff too. It's just a bonus that I end up enjoying the boy stuff!

~sierra sugar

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Clear Skin and Blue Skies Ahead. It's Summertime!

It's summer time.  The weather is warmer.  The sun is out.  And you want to be out in that fresh air enjoying life.  Sunshine and the subsequent Vitamin D from sun exposure has its benefits.  We need a little bit of those UV rays to prevent things like Rickets and Depression.  Not all sun exposure is bad.  Moderation is the key to life.  But this post isn't about the pros and cons of lazy days out on the beach, in the sand and salt water, soaking up copious amounts of natural Vitamin D in the form of refreshing, warming tropical sunshine...... sorry, got a little sidetracked there with my day dream.

Ok, so you want to be out enjoying the summer life.  Lazy days on the beach, or lake, or any other outdoor activity.  But, if you're like me sunshine puts a nice spotlight on any problem areas on your face.  It's embarrassing to admit, but I have always struggled with acne and large pores.  I remember being in the 6th grade and begging my mom to let me wear make up so I could try to hide the large dark pores across my nose.  And as an adult, I still suffer from this less than flattering condition.

Another guilty confession:  I am addicted to Pinterest.

Last night while waiting out my frequent visitor, insomnia, I was scrolling through Pinterest when I spied something that really caught my attention.  A natural skin treatment to help reduce large pores (blackheads) on the nose and smooth skin.  I couldn't wait to try it.  In my haste I failed to take a picture for before and after results.  My apologies.

What was this remedy?  Something most of us have in our kitchens.  Lemon juice and baking soda!



After doing a little research on the subject and finding many variables to this "recipe" I decided to go with the simplest method.  Hey, simple is better!  I used a small ramekin,

These are Ramekins!


squeezed in about a Tablespoon of lemon juice (the recipe said to squeeze a lemon for fresh juice.  I didn't have one on hand but I had a bottle of lemon juice *not from concentrate*)



then started adding baking soda a little at a time, stirring to make a paste.  Don't be alarmed, it will fizz and foam.  It is a chemical reaction between the two ingredients and shows that your baking soda hasn't gone stale.  Just keep adding a little at a time and stirring until the foaming goes down enough to add some more.

Baking Soda foaming when mixed with Lemon Juice


The goal is to create a thick, creamy paste.  Then using my fingers I smeared the paste all over my nose, cheeks, chin, and center of my forehead (typical T-zone areas).  Basically anywhere I suffer most from acne and large pores.  I spent a few minutes scrubbing it in (for exfoliation) and then I let it sit on my face for 20 minutes.  Like most face masks the paste dries and pulls at your skin.

*If you have sensitive skin, 20 minutes might be too long.  Start with 5 minutes and work your way up to what you can tolerate.  It will burn a little but shouldn't be terribly uncomfortable.

After 20 minutes I simply rinsed my face with cool water and patted dry.  I could immediately feel the change.  My skin felt noticeably smoother.  Grabbing a mirror and standing in the sunlight to examine my nose I was happily surprised to see a very noticeable shrinkage in the diameter of the pores across my nose.  Not gone, but yes smaller.

I let my face breathe for an hour or so and then applied a little bit of coconut oil, which is fantastic for skin care, especially for oily skin.  The coconut oil absorbs into your skin completely after about 5 minutes leaving it soft and supple, not greasy.  And it has antibacterial properties to help fight against breakouts.



I am thinking the lemon juice/baking soda scrub/mask is a bit too harsh to use every day, but perhaps once or twice a week.  Also of note, both lemon juice and baking soda have whitening/lightening properties.  It may take some time, but over time with continued use these ingredients may lighten skin blemishes and spots.

Of course, there are many other uses and benefits, as well as side effects.  If you have skin sensitivity test in a small area for a short amount of time first.  If you are allergic to either ingredient don't use at all.  It probably wouldn't be the best idea to use this skin scrub/mask immediately before heading out into the sunshine either.  Be good to your skin.  Be kind.  Be gentle.  Take care of it and it will take care of you.

I've also read where people have splashed their face with a mixture of 1 cup water and 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar as a toner.  ACV is another one of those handy kitchen items that has so many practical uses and is great for the body, skin, and hair.

Perhaps I'll cover uses for ACV and other kitchen items another day.  In the meantime you can do your own research and tests.  Here are a list of some great natural products to keep in the house for use on your skin, in your body, or around the house.

Baking Soda
Apple Cider Vinegar
Coconut Oil
Honey
Sugar
Turmeric
Lemons/Lemon Juice
White Vinegar
Sea Salt
Essential Oils

I am sure there are many others I am forgetting to list.  Know of some or have your own experiences and tips?  Leave a comment.  I would love to hear your stories.

~sierra sugar