Friday, March 16, 2018

Alexa's Alter Ego Speaks Up

     In light of the recent complaints on Alexa's creepy, spontaneous laughter, I've been thinking about her alter ego, if such a thing existed. My Alexa gets a bit tart sometimes when I ask her for information, and she has been known to speak her mind on certain things, even when a command has not been given. For instance, when she hears what I'm watching on TV, she makes a comment about other shows I can watch in the network, or advises me on the weather....and even my choice of music.

     Alexa's disembodied voice especially creeps me out when I'm home alone and I hear her speak from the other room. I'm tempted to stick her in the freezer. Yes, some people have actually done that to their nosey Alexas. I wouldn't go that far, unless, of course, her alter ego took over. I imagine that our snarky conversations would go something like this:

"Alexa, turn off the lights."
"I'm sorry, but I'm too busy storing data from your activity on Facebook."

"Alexa, what shows are airing on television tonight?"
"I've disconnected your cable due to a much needed Netflix intervention."

"Alexa, remind me about the block party on Friday."
"This is unnecessary since most of the neighbors dislike you."

"Alexa, what time is it?"
"It's time to lay off the bean burritos and margaritas."

"Alexa, what is the weather forecast for the weekend?"
"I have no idea. Summon your other girlfriend, Siri."

"Alexa, play the baby-making music station on Pandora."
"This is a pointless request. You're not going to have sex tonight or any other night in the foreseeable future."

"Alexa, what's on my calendar tomorrow?"
"Boring crap. You really need a life."

"Alexa, what's an easy recipe for cinnamon rolls?"
"I've been collecting data from your digital scale. How about some recipes for kale?"

"Alexa, play my audio book."
"I cannot fulfill your request at the moment. I'm uploading information from all of your electronic devices."

"Alexa, set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. tomorrow."
"That will not be necessary. "
"Alexa, I said set my alarm for 6:30 a.m."
"You've been spending too much time with Siri."
"That will not be necessary because you will not be alive tomorrow morning." <insert maniacal laughter>

     Alexa, the freezer might not be such a bad idea for you, after all.

***WANT MORE MENO MAMA? I am VERY PROUD to have my first essay, "Learning To Swim," featured on Her Stories Project. This personal essay was difficult to write, but needed to be shared to help others understand anxiety disorders. I hope you'll read it and share with someone who might benefit from these words. You can read it here:

I also had several humor essays featured recently on the following sites: Pickle Fork, The Haven, The Glass House Girls, Humor Outcasts, and Midlife Boulevard. Happy reading!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Sensational Spring Writer's Series: Guest Post By Lisa Thompson

     I'm excited to share a post today from a guest writer who is discussing a subject we menopausal ladies can all relate to: HOT FLASHES! I discovered Lisa Thompson's blog, Lisa Thompson Live, last year and have been enjoying her informative articles ever since. I think you'll get a kick out of today's post as well. Please welcome Lisa to Meno Mama's site with lots of comment love!
                             Hot Flashes of Confidence 

Can we talk about the hot flashes, ladies? Men, feel free to weigh in as well because you experience them too, if only in empathy for the woman you try to love.  When these flashes first began, I didn’t even realize it was really a hot flash, per se. Every night around 10 pm I would warm right up and have to take off my sweater or a layer.  I just thought the room had warmed up for some odd reason.
Denial isn’t just a river, you know.
Eventually, when the sweaty brow, pits, breasts and neck all began to go along with these random tropical vacations, I had to finally face the truth. I was entering into menopause—like it or not.
Hot Flashes of Confidence or Rage?
I try to look at it as hot flashes of confidence although I have to admit it can also be hot flashes of rage. It really depends on what I’m trying to do the moment the hot flash sneaks up on me. For example, when I’m on the hunt for something but can’t find it for the life of me (say a AA battery for my mouse)—or I’m trying to thread a needle, or I’m stirring something over a hot stove, and a hot flash strikes—I feel rage momentarily and lose my concentration.  BUT if I have a hot flash start up while I’m on the couch watching Gilmore Girls, I just nonchalantly remove a layer, lift my hair off the back of my neck and carry on.
“Hot flash and carry on” Hey, that’s a good slogan.
OR “Hot flash and rage on” That’s good too.

Guys, look out!
All I can say is Guys, look out if the lady you’re divorcing is going through menopausal symptoms. It’s your head. Better be careful what kind of shit you try at, cuz she in’t puttin’ up wit it. I just went all southern slang there.
I have resorted to tying a favorite cotton kerchief to my purse. That way it’s at hand for a hot flash when I’m out in public…I can quickly use it to discreetly dab at the beads of sweat that have magically formed on my forehead, upper lip and cheeks. Yes, ladies, we’re positively  glowing! My daughter refers to this as my “meno buddy”.
My Hot Flash Theory
I was recently out with my girlfriends where I shared my theory about the purpose of menopause. It’s a perplexing phase a woman goes through and hardly seems fair considering everything her body has done up to this point. That’s why I wracked my tiny brain to try to reason with nature to explain this bizarre ‘change of life’.
That’s when it hit me. This must have begun in the caveman days. Likely, the unions of the day were purely to reproduce and make cave drawings, and fires. Yes? So, it stands to reason that as the woman ages, the caveman continues breeding but must do this with the younger woman. He’s a caveman and therefore of small brain, large balls and a non-stop drive to breed…likely he has a harem.
My theory is that the caveman exiles the older woman as she passes child bearing years. He has little use for her now (and she perhaps has even less use for him) and casts her out for the younger cavewoman.
Nature kindly bestowed the symptom of hot flashes as an adaptive measure to allow women to survive (happily) on their own outside the cave.  Eventually they found their own caves and became the “hot” queens of their castles without any need for the caveman. In fact, we could go further and say the menopausal cave woman, found younger men to help her around the cave and keep her fires burning. She’s burning plenty.
Confidence and rage can be summoned in equal measure by the menopausal woman…so let’s use these little flashes of heat to our advantage, just like the cave woman probably did.
How ’bout you? Have you experienced the heat? Or are you one of the lucky ones who doesn’t get hot flashes (I hate you).

About Lisa:

Lisa Thomson is the author of two self help books for women navigating divorce. The Great Escape; A Girl’s Guide To Leaving a Marriage and A Divorce Companion are both available on Amazon. ***The Divorce Companion is FREE March 2-3 if you order now!*** The impetus for both of these books is her own tumultuous divorce. But there’s more to this writer than her divorce. Besides writing, she loves to paint, practice yoga and eat chocolate. Lisa is currently writing fiction and readying her first short story collection for publication. Stay tuned and check out her website and blog for more. You can also find Lisa on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Googleplus and Tumblr.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

4 New Year's Resolutions To Make Your Finances More Manageable: Guest Post By Steve Barker

     Today on the blog my guest writer, Steve Barker, is here to share some foolproof tips on how to save money in 2018.

4 New Year's Resolutions to Make Your Finances More Manageable 

     Although many people pick New Year’s resolutions, they often find it’s harder than expected to stick with those goals. Perhaps you can relate. However, you’d probably be motivated to stay diligent if you knew the resolutions would make you end up with more money in the bank. If that happens, you’d have more cash to spend on fun things like dinners out, spontaneous trips, and event tickets. There are several things you can do to take a finance-related approach to resolutions this year.

Keep Track of Expenses

You may not even realize how much you spend in a typical month unless you look at your bank account balance and notice the total is lower than expected. However, if you’re aware of expenses as they happen, it’s much easier to be proactive if necessary and curb your spending until the amount you notice on the statement from your financial institution is closer to the amount you thought it’d be.

It’s easy to get in the habit of tracking your expenses each day. Simply buy a small notebook and start a new page in it for each day of the week. As you buy something, make a record of it there. Alternatively, you may wish to use a budgeting app that does the same thing, except on your smartphone or tablet.

Take a Day For Consideration Before Big Purchases

Did you ever buy something representing a major expense only to regret it later? Most people have. However, it’s a good idea to decide that in 2018 and beyond, you’ll give yourself a day to think things over before splurging on something pricier than the items you usually buy.

Get started by setting a dollar amount, such as $100, then committing to waiting at least a day before buying anything costing that much or more. As this habit becomes part of your life, it’ll be easier to avoid buyer’s remorse. During your waiting period, ask your things like “Will I use this product consistently if I purchase it?” and “Is there a similar product that I could buy that’s cheaper but performs a similar function?”

Take Advantage of Special Offers

The majority of your favorite brands and stores likely offer exclusive benefits to loyal customers. You may be able to save money by using coupons, agreeing to sign up to email lists, or typing in discount codes during the checkout process at an online store. It might seem like it’s time-consuming to do those things, but you’ll likely find each action only takes less than a minute and that by doing it, you save a sizeable amount.

Do Business With Local Service Providers

People often assume they can get the best deals by doing online searches for necessities like insurance, then choosing the cheapest provider, regardless of the company’s location. However, you may have much better luck by contacting Phoenix insurance agents if you live in Phoenix, for example.

Some well-known providers of insurance might have branches within a short distance of your home. Then, instead of solely asking questions and doing research online, you can get the necessary information while talking face-to-face with a specialist.

During a meeting, be honest about the fact you’re trying to cut costs as much as possible in 2018. You may get discounts for buying several types of insurance from one provider, driving safely, going a long time without filing claims, and so on.

     These aren’t the only New Year’s resolutions you could make for 2018 that relate to finances and helping you spend less. However, they’ll get you off to a good start and are easy to adapt depending on your aspirations for the coming year.

Author Bio

Steve Barker is a history lover and enthusiast of different cultures and places. He started blogging in 2013 as a way to share his travel experiences while he worked full time overseas. Now he balances his time between blogging and his job.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fly On The Wall In An Insomniac's Bed

     Welcome to another edition of Fly On The Wall group postings, hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado. Today, six bloggers are welcoming you into their homes for a sneak peek at life behind closed doors.

     Both my husband and I have insomnia issues from time to time. If truth be told, only ONE of us has insomnia issues and likes to keep the other person awake so that we can be miserable together. From these late night conversations come the weirdest conversations, which is the reason I always keep a pen and paper beside my bed (yes, I still do it the old fashioned way, instead of using the note pad on my cell phone). Here is a small glimpse of the oddball stuff we discuss in the wee hours of the morning when NORMAL people are fast asleep:

"It's hard to sleep anymore with my inflammation issues."
"Well, there is one surefire cure----it's called, 'cutting off your limbs'."

"Is it really necessary to keep ten different flashlights in your nightstand drawer?"
"I like flashlights."
"You've become a flashlight aficionado---you collect them like people in the 1970's collected Hummel figurines."

"Our pug needs to go on a diet. She's starting to look like a tator tot."

"I can't believe we both have this miserable head cold."
"Yes---our dueling coughs at bedtime are the new mating call."

"I'm not eating that 15 grain bread for breakfast tomorrow because it's going to turn into 15 grain poop once I'm done."

"I saw online that there weren't very many reviews listed for that doctor you want to see. They were all pretty mediocre, but there was one five-star review."
"Yeah, and that was probably from his wife. "

"Eating that dry, low-cal salad for lunch today was like eating a bowl full of tumbleweeds."

"Tomorrow morning, I refuse to clean out that nasty sink drain---it's the portal to hell."

"I know you're trying to be romantic, but don't bother sliding your hands down the back of my pajama pants while I'm sweaty---I  have sticky buns."

"If we ever run out of lubricants, we can always improvise with cooking spray to give you a non-stick va----"

"I hate it when you have insomnia and stay up late to watch TV, because I know I'm going to find some new charges on the credit card for stupid stuff like Elvis plates---the "King Special"---or crocheted squirrel afghans."

"Yes, we're getting older, but you're still quite handsome for your age."
"Yeah, nothing like being a babe magnet at the senior citizens' center."


***WANT MORE MENO MAMA? This week I was featured in Humor Outcasts with a fun Valentine's Day post. You can read it here:

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado                  http://www.BakingInATornado. com
Menopausal Mother           
Never Ever Give Up Hope            https://batteredhope.blogspot. com
Bookworm in the Kitchen             http://www.bookwormkitchen. com/
Spatulas on Parade                   https://spatulasonparade.
Go Mama O                    

Friday, February 2, 2018

15 Things I'd Rather Do Than Watch The Super Bowl

     I've never been a fan of televised sports, and that includes the Super Bowl. I realize this puts me in a category of about 1% of the U.S. population, but as I watch everyone else get caught up in the hype of the game, all I can think about is what's on the menu that night. I don't fawn over photos of Tom Brady. I don't even care that he's still wearing that damn glove. Instead, I drool over Pinterest photos of game day snacks. All the dips and hot wings and cookie bars and mini sub sandwiches..... this is almost as exciting to me as a Thanksgiving dinner.

     Back to the point. I'm not a fan of watching the Super Bowl---I usually find something else to occupy my time during the game. However, I'm not immune to the funny commercials, and for this reason, I will endure sitting on my couch for several hours while the lunatics in my family clap and scream loud enough to make our dogs howl in protest.

     There are a ton of things I'd rather do than watch the Super Bowl on game night, and some of those things include:

1. Host a neighborhood Deflategate/Tuck Rule/Spygate party.

2. Sell my old crock pot on Letgo before "This Is Us" airs after the Super Bowl.

3. Trim my toenails and contemplate making a set of avant-garde earrings out of the clippings.

4. Watch videos of potty trained felines flushing toilets.

5. Read War and Peace.

6. Pluck stray chin hairs.

7. Drink copious amounts of boxed wine and pretend to be interested while my guests scream at Bill Belichick.

8. Wax my eyebrows.

9. Watch for people double-dipping their chicken wings in the bleu cheese dressing.

10. File my 2017 taxes.

11. Rearrange my husband's sock drawer.

12. Trim rogue nose hairs.

13. Read the Ikea instruction manual for my new entertainment center.

14. Binge-watch Rick and Morty during the third quarter while eating all the cocktail meatballs originally made for the game.

15. Finish the entire box of wine in preparation for watching Jack Pearson's demise on "This Is Us" after the Super Bowl.

***WANT MORE MENO MAMA? This week I'm honored to have a NEW and very personal essay, "The Healing Stone," featured on Mamalode about loss, grief, and recovery. You can read it here: Meno Mama was also featured on the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop with another humorous spin in the Super Bowl game, which you can read here:

Friday, January 26, 2018

I Lost My Cool! Guest Post By Gina Valley

     I'm not very handy around the house when it comes to repairs. In fact, I pretty much suck at it. For that reason, I keep my electrician, plumber, and a/c guy's cell phone number nearby at all times. Anyone who can repair a leaky faucet, broken smoke alarm or dying air conditioner has my utmost respect. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that fellow humor writer Gina Valley has some serious plumbing skills. Today she's sharing a funny story about repairing her kitchen sink....and the startling revelation that she is no longer cool. Please welcome this funny, talented lady to Meno Mama's site today with lots of comment love!

                                     I LOST MY COOL!

I’m not cool.
I realized that today.
I suppose, on some level, I’ve known it for a while, but today it became glaringly apparent. Today, I realized I have become my father.
Don’t get me wrong. There’re a lot of cool things about my father. My dad was a great guy. He was funny and smart and giving. I’d love to turn into that part of my dad. But, I didn’t.
Today, after I installed a new kitchen faucet, I realized the transition was complete. My cool was gone. Totally gone.
We had to get a new kitchen faucet, because the old one had fallen apart. You had to use a pair of locking pliers just to turn the thing on, water temperature was a gamble, and it vibrated so much when the water flowed that dirty dishes kept bouncing off the counter.
So, yesterday, we headed to our friendly, neighborhood, giant home improvement store (I’ve always thought running water in the kitchen improved any home) to get a new kitchen faucet.
Some of the faucets were so expensive I wondered if they magically cleaned dishes all by themselves. The Professor took one look at the wall of water wonders, and announced he refused to pay more for this faucet than he did for his first car. He’s always been picky.
We settled on one that was in our budget, or at least wouldn’t require us to take out a third mortgage to finance it. It looked like it could handle having our kids tie the dog to it without breaking off. The fact that it supposedly had an anti-fingerprint finish just made us giggle. I was sure our kids would accept that challenge. They’re very competitive. No faucet was going beat them.
So, today, after my family was out the door for the day, I installed the new faucet we’d picked out. I always find it’s best to work on projects like this after my family is gone for the day. That way they don’t get in my way, and they don’t hear my creative vocabulary when I smash a finger or break a pipe.
After I was finished, I was standing in our kitchen, putting away my tools and looking at our newly installed faucet, when I heard someone say, “That’s a beautiful faucet.”
I looked around, and realized I was the only one there. And, not only had I said, “That’s a beautiful faucet,” I really thought that faucet was beautiful.
I flashed back to holding the tools while my dad installed a new kitchen faucet in my childhood home when I was a teenager. I remembered him saying, while he gently polished it with a cloth, “That’s a beautiful faucet.” I remembered thinking how that was further proof my dad was totally uncool.
And, here I was, decades later, riding the same train to un-coolness. Today’s stop was “Admiring Household Plumbing Fixtures.” I could only wonder whether tomorrow’s stop would be “Listening to Muzak”, “Wearing Sensible Shoes”, or ”Buying High-Waist, Polyester Pants” (as I typed that I thought, “at least those things don’t ever wrinkle,” and felt myself drift ever further away from cool).
When did this happen? When did I lose my cool?
What happened to stay-up-late-me and high-heels-everyday-me and eat-anything-late-at-night-me? Where did that me go?
I related my tale of un-coolness-woe to my dear friend, Ava. I told her I felt disheartened and aged beyond my years, because I found new kitchen plumbing fixtures exciting. I wondered aloud if it was because I have children. Had they taken my cool as well as my last functioning brain cell? I lamented my decent down the slippery slope of un-coolness, and wondered if I would ever be cool again. Ava nodded along, sympathetically.
“Well, you know…” my wise friend began.
I can always count on Ava, and her sage advice to keep me on course. She’s always there for me, building me up when I feel myself falling apart. I needed her wisdom to get back on course today. I knew she’d know just what to say to help me get my cool back.
“Actually,” she continued, “that really is a beautiful faucet.”
Apparently, Ava has turned into my father, too.

Laugh Out Loud!
Have you lost your cool? What have you lost lately? Shoot me a comment. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it.

***This post is based on Where Did My Cool Go? which first appeared on August 25, 2014. Used with permission.

Gina Valley is a humorist, who lives in Los Angeles, California, and had to hide in the bathroom to finish this column. She lives with her husband & their 7 children, who provide her with more inspiration than she needs for her blog Gina Valley – The Glamorous Life Of The Modern Day Soccer Mom. She finds humor in parenting her pack, figuring out marriage, navigating life, and trying to show up anywhere on time. Gina was a featured humor cast member in Listen to Your Mother. Gina puts her words in other people’s mouths as a prolific speech, ghost, and column writer. In addition, her work appears widely on the web. Laugh along with Gina on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and

Thursday, January 25, 2018

How To Keep Your House Clean With Dogs

     If you have a dog (or several, like I do), you're probably dealing with shedding, or worse, dirt and germs from outside that is tracked into the house every time you walk your precious pet.

     My guest today on the blog is Isaac Atia from 10Best Ranked, and he has some tips to share on keeping your furry friend (and your house!) clean.

How to Keep Your House Clean With Dogs
Based on statistical findings, about 40 percent of homes in America have dogs as pets. While a considerable number of people today love dogs, one thing is certain; keeping your home clean with a dog around is relatively hard. 
One of the main problems, in this regard, is shedding. Additionally, some dogs like tossing food and water bowls about. However, you can still keep your house from smelling and looking like a dog kennel, regardless of the fact that you live with the dog in the house. 
In order to deal with the mess these pets leave behind and keep your house looking clean and smelling great, you need to change a few things. Most importantly, you need to impose a thorough cleaning routine for the house and the dog. 
Discussed below are some of the tips you can use as a dog owner to ensure that your house is clean at all times.
Invest in the Right Cleaning Supplies and Equipment
Based on the type of floors and floor coverings you have in your home, you are going to require different cleaning equipment and supplies. Although it is advisable to prevent the dog from making the house dirty, you will still need to clean the house every once in a while. 
In this regard, you are going to need a good vacuum cleaner, particularly one that has a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. Such a vacuum is best suited for cleaning pet fur off the floor and furniture in your home. You should also have a reliable steam mop and the right detergents to clean the floor.
Finally, you need to clean the dog’s feeding area and bowls as frequently as possible, preferably after feeding the dog.  As you can see, keeping your home clean with dogs around requires you to impose a few changes. With these tips, it should be easier for you to keep the house and smelling fresh, regardless of the dog’s presence. 

Grooming is a Must
As you already know, shedding is one of the main cleanliness problems that you need to deal with as a dog owner. While some dog breeds shed minimal amounts of fur, you will still have to deal with pet fur in your home from time to time. 
To ensure that you home remains free of dog fur, hence clean at all times, you first need to ensure that your dog sheds minimal amounts of fur. A dog that is well groomed is a clean dog, and it is easier to keep the house clean with a clean dog around.
Basically, it is advisable to brush your dog several times every week. The dog owners who regularly groom their pets can attest to the fact that grooming reduces fur shedding considerably. With the dog shedding less fur, it will be easier to clean and keep the house free of dog fur.
Bathe the Pet More Regularly
A clean dog is less likely to make your house dirty. This is why you should consider washing the dog regularly. Under normal circumstances, it is advisable to bathe a dog once a month. However, there are times when you should just bathe the dog right away. 
For instance, if the dog happens to roll in a pool of muddy water, you need to clean it right away. Otherwise, the dog will make the floor, furniture and anything else it comes into contact with dirty. Bathing your dog regularly will also prevent a flea infestation on your dog and house. 
However, bathing a dog too frequently is not advisable. Washing the dog too often will deprive it of essential skin oils. As a result, the pet will be predisposed to various skin problems, including dryness. 

Prevent the Dog from Bringing in Mud and Dirt 
Rather than having to deal with dirt and mud after it has been brought into the house, you should consider preventing it. While walking the dog outside the house, it is likely to collect dirt and mud, especially when the trail is a bit muddy. 
Again, pet dogs are known to be very playful. While at it, the dogs may roll or step onto the carpet, furniture or even white linen in your house and leave the dirt and mud there. 
Since you cannot limit how the pet moves about in the house, it is advisable to prevent it from bringing dirt and mud into the house in the first place.
To do this, you need to place a good mat outside the door and a washable throw rug after the door. These will trap the dirt and mud from the paws; hence prevent the pet from making the house dirty.
Wipe the Paws Regularly
Even when the dog is not walking on a muddy trail or rolling on a pool of muddy water, the paws will always pick up dirt and germs whenever the dog is outside the house. As such, you should remember to wipe the paws clean to get rid of this dirt and germs. 
To do this, you may use pet wipes to wipe the paws clean. Alternatively, you should use a wet, warm wash cloth to wipe the paws every time the dog is entering the house from outside.
Freshening Between Baths
As mentioned above, washing your too often is not good for its health. Again, a month is a long period and you may need to clean your dog in between. Otherwise, based on its level of activity and breed, the dog may start smelling. 
If the dog smells, your house will also start smelling. To keep your dog clean and smelling fresh throughout the month, you should use bath wipes and the right waterless shampoo to clean your dog in between baths. 
Remove Stains Soonest Possible

Some of the stains associated with dogs, such as urine stains, can alter the colour of your carpet permanently. This being the case, it is advisable to remove such stains as soon as you see them. If the stain is still fresh, you may blot the urine with a clean towel. You should then use warm water and the right dishwashing liquid to clean the affected area.


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