Sunday, December 20, 2009

Four handmade dresses for girls and dolls, so cute!


From Dresses

I just finished making these cute dresses for my nieces and their American Girl Dolls! I haven't sewn anything but squares in some time so my first attempts at the dresses was what I would like to call a practice run; good thing I had extra fabric! I'm so pleased though, they are done and the four dresses, with patterns cost less than $50, way under what matching dresses would have cost at American Girl.

I used McCalls pattern 4338, Simplicity 4786, See & Sew B4161 and McCalls Easy Stitch 'n Save M5351. I made slight modifications to the McCalls 4338 and Simplicity 4786 to get the doll dresses to look as close to the young girls dresses. The patterns have other garment choices so future outfits can be made which is good, I have a feeling now that I've made these, the girls will want more.

If you have other patterns you have used to make matching girl and doll clothes, I would love to know about it, please comment!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Ginger finally decides to get some exercise




From Ginger

My cat Ginger decided 2 am was an appropriate time to being her exercise program, right on my bed. I was sound asleep and all the sudden I realized something, apparently Ginger, was rustling around and making circles on the bed. She was in stealth mode as if she was hunting something. I opened one eye to see her crouched down seemingly staring at something but of course I couldn't see anything, I was half asleep. I thought I say a firefly but I think it was just my imagination. Then I thought, on no, there is a bug on the bed and she is trying to get it!

I keep the house at a cool temp at night so the bed is covered with blankets. The top one is a crochet one that has holes it it. ginger kept poking her paws through the holes and moving the blanket around. She thought this was great fun, she must have been at it for at least 5 minutes. Perhaps the longest she has EVER exerted so much energy.

I tried to get her to come sit with me but she was too focused on what she was chasing. I was too tired to care if there was a bug. I figured if there was one, she would get it. And she kept jumping up from time to time so then I thought it might be a moth, she loves to play with them. They on the other hand hate it.

Then, for no obvious reason, she jumps from the bed and runs to the living room where I can still hear her running around. I'm glad she is getting some exercise but really, is 2 am an appropriate time?!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Michael's Goes Small in Manhattan

 


I just read an article about Michael's Arts and Crafts opening a store in Manhattan. They stocked the store with items geared towards small living spaces. I'm so jealous! And do you know why? Not because they are selling smaller things, although, tiny things do make me want to buy them. No, I am jealous because they expect Martha Stewart to come by! Michael's sells the Martha Stewart line of craft items and she tapes her show there in Manhattan. One of the benefits to Michael's is the opportunity for Martha to make appearances on television. What great brand recognition! I wish I lived there, really want to go to a taping of the Martha Stewart show.

Besides Martha Stewart, I also think it is great Michael's is catering to small space living. They should probably consider that in other stores as well. So many times when I need something all that is available are oversized, over stuffed items. It seems to be an epidemic in America. So it is nice to see they specifically thought about their target market and stocked smaller, slimmer Christmas trees and wreathes, just as an example. The next time I am in NY, I will have to make a point to go by and see all the great things!

To see the full story, click here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ford is Looking for Outstanding Individuals, Top Award is a 2010 Ford Taurus

Ford Motor Company is looking for ten outstanding individuals who excel in their profession as well as contributing to their community. "Taurus Top Ten" is an online contest open to the public that invites influencers who are in the fields of philanthropy, business, entertainment and sports to enter for the chance to be named Ford's 2010 Top Performer in America. In addition to their role as it relates to their profession, each candidate must also work to make a positive impact in the world around them. Once entries have been received, the field of candidates will be narrowed down to the top ten with each finalist campaigning for the top spot. The "Taurus Top Ten" Grand Prize champion will be determined by the community at large and the winner will be announced during a high-profile professional basketball experience.

Potential candidates are encouraged to submit an essay or video to www.fordurban.com/topten stating why they should be considered among Taurus' Top Ten no later than November 15, 2009. Consumers will vote on the winner during online voting December 1 through January 15, 2010. In addition to the Grand Prize of a Ford Taurus, nine finalists will win a trip for two to the "Taurus Top Ten" culmination event and a $2,500 donation to the charity/organization of their choice.

For more information on the program or to enter, please visit www.fordurban.com/topten.


Submit your email to win The Beatles Rock Band free on Wii, Xbox or PS3 http://tinyurl.com/ygfgxog

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Get a Wedding Dress for $249, if You Dare!

Filene's Basement is have a Running of the Brides sale on wedding dresses THIS Friday. Dresses on sale for $249! A record number of brides-to-be are expected to rush doors with their helpers to get the dress of their dreams from $249 - $699, regular price could be as much as $10,000! Now that is a sale!

This reminds me of the Friends episode where Monica, Feebie and Rachel go to the discount store to get the wedding dress of Monica's dreams. They like the people on Friday plan to do rushed the doors and scrambled to find the dress. I wonder how many cat fights, pushing and shoving matches will go on Friday as women search for the dress that is just right for their perfect day. I suggest if you don't want to get trampled, stay away. If you feel confident and have a plan, go to Filene's Basement in Warrensville Heights, Ohio and snag yourself a deal!

The Running of the Brides(®) sale takes place at Filene's Basement, Harvard Park Shopping Center, 4045 Richmond Rd. in Warrensville Heights, Ohio. Hours are 8:00am to 9:00pm. Checks, credit cards and cash are accepted. For more information go to www.filenesbasement.com.

For more information, click here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tortillas Become a Mainstream Meal Solution

  
 September celebrates America's 2nd most popular bread

IRVING, Texas, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The tortilla, which has been a staple in Mexican homes for thousands of years, has become a contemporary favorite in mainstream households in recent years. With sales estimated to be $950,400,000 in 2008(1), it's no wonder the month of September is devoted to this versatile food. It's the second most popular bread type, beating out whole wheat bread, bagels and rolls, and only giving way to classic white bread.(2)

Experts attribute some of the growth to the nation's rapidly expanding Hispanic population while others suggest that consumers are choosing tortillas for their versatility; using it for much more than just the usual Mexican fillings and creating a wide variety of delicious recipes. Some consumers even perceive tortillas to be healthier than white bread.

Health-conscious consumers have been a major focus for tortilla producers. While offering a full spectrum of tortilla products, Mission Foods, one of the largest tortilla manufacturers in the United States, is filling consumers' desire for more healthful versions. Mission Foods' Plus! Line of tortillas including Life Balance(TM), Multigrain, 96% fat-free and Carb Balance(R) have helped consumers view tortillas in a totally different light and given them permission to use these products in new, healthier ways.

For quick, nutritious and versatile meal solutions the entire family can enjoy, log onto www.missionmenus.com.

Tortilla Facts:

    * Mission Foods is one of the leading tortilla producers in the United States.
    * Gruma, the parent company of Mission Foods, revolutionized the tortilla-making process by creating Maseca corn flour that allowed for convenient mass production of corn tortillas while preserving their authentic taste.
    * All of Mission Foods tortilla plants are kosher.
    * The word "tortilla" comes from the Spanish word "torta" which means round cake.
    * According to Mayan legend, tortillas were invented by a peasant for his hungry king in ancient times. The first tortillas, which date approximately 10,000 years before Christ, were made of native corn with dried kernel.
    * NASA has used flour tortillas on Space shuttle missions since the 1980s. They use tortillas in the place of bread because of the easy clean-up and because the bread crumbs can cause a lot of trouble in space.

Nutritional Information:

    * Flour tortillas are a low-fat food and contain iron along with other B vitamins. They have about 115 calories with 2 to 3 grams of fat per serving.(3)
    * Corn tortillas are a low-fat, low sodium food and contain calcium, potassium and fiber. An average serving contains about 60 calories and only 1 gram of fat.(4)

About Mission Foods

Mission Foods, headquartered in Irving (Dallas area), Texas and Gruma S.A.B. de C.V., a Mexican corporation, was founded in 1949, and is one of the largest tortilla manufacturers in the United States. Gruma S.A.B. de C.V. is the parent company of Mission Foods (Gruma Corporation) and is a leading Mexican producer of corn masa flour and tortilla products. It has operations in Mexico, the United States, Central and South America, Europe and Asia. For more information, please visit www.missionmenus.com.

(1) According to Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, June 2009, p. 22

(2) According to the Tortilla Foodservice Usage Study commissioned by the Tortilla Industry Association

(3) According to Wikipedia's tortilla nutritional facts

(4) According to Wikipedia's tortilla nutritional facts

SOURCE Mission Foods

Chicago Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler, Eli Lilly and Company and the American Diabetes Association Team Up to Fund Diabetes Camp Scholarships Through "Touchdowns for Diabetes"

Lilly to donate funds to ADA camp program for every Cutler TD, pass completion
CHICAGO, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When the 2009 NFL season begins this weekend, rooting for Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler means rooting for kids with diabetes.
Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) announced today they're teaming up to help send children with diabetes to summer camps through the Touchdowns for Diabetes camp scholarship program (www.touchdownsfordiabetes.com).
For every touchdown pass Cutler throws during the 2009 season, Lilly will send a child to diabetes camp by donating $1,000 to the ADA's "Camp Scholarship" fund - roughly the cost of providing tuition for one child to attend a week of diabetes camp.
And for every pass Cutler completes in 2009, Lilly will donate $100 to the ADA Camp Scholarship fund to allow even more kids the chance to attend camp next summer. The ADA is the largest provider of diabetes camps in the world and is serving as the national champion for Touchdowns for Diabetes.
Since learning he had type 1 diabetes after his second season in the NFL, Cutler has worked to help inspire children with diabetes to achieve their goals - and let them see that diabetes doesn't have to stop them from being who they want to be.
After playing in his first NFL Pro Bowl in February, Cutler teamed up with Lilly in the offseason to visit children's hospitals across the country and visit with families affected by diabetes.
"I've met a lot of kids through my hospital tour with Lilly that have inspired me as I enter my second NFL season with diabetes," Cutler said. "Parents and kids have told us how important diabetes camps are to helping children learn how to manage diabetes -- and to help them understand that thriving with this condition isn't just possible, it's within reach. Every kid should have the chance to experience diabetes camp, and I'm proud to work with Lilly to make this more achievable for families across the country."
Children with diabetes, particularly those with a new diagnosis, often feel like no one understands how they feel or know what it's like to live with diabetes. Diabetes camps are an important place for kids to connect and become empowered to learn more about managing their diabetes.
"It's easy for children - and their families - to feel overwhelmed and isolated by the challenges that diabetes presents, but they need to remember that they are not alone," said George Huntley, chair of the board, American Diabetes Association. "Jay Cutler is showing the world that he is proactively managing his disease and fighting diabetes. He is an inspiration to people with diabetes and we are thankful to Jay and Lilly for their support in helping us raise awareness about this serious disease and raise money to support our camp program through Touchdowns for Diabetes."
Lilly has a long history of supporting diabetes camps and has donated $100,000 to the ADA's camp scholarship program in the last two years alone through the Inspired by Diabetes art campaign.
"We're honored to work with Jay and the ADA to help more kids get to camp next summer," said Matt Beebe, senior director of the diabetes brand for Lilly USA, LLC. "We hope Jay has another fun and safe season and leads the league in touchdowns and pass completions so we can help even more families."
Cutler, 26, is beginning his first season with Bears after an off-season trade from the Denver Broncos.
In 2008, his second full season as the Broncos' starting quarterback, Cutler had a breakout year and was named to his first Pro Bowl. His 4,526 passing yards led the American Football Conference (AFC) and were third in the NFL, and his 25 touchdown passes were third-best in the AFC. A first-round draft pick from Vanderbilt University, Cutler became the Broncos' starter late in the 2006 season and was the first NFL rookie to throw at least two touchdowns in each of his first three starts.
For more information on diabetes camps, visit:
American Diabetes Association - www.diabetes.org/camp
Diabetes and Education Camping Association - www.diabetescamps.org
About the American Diabetes Association
The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, the Association's mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit www.diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.
About Lilly Diabetes
For more than 85 years, Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) has been a worldwide leader in pioneering industry-leading solutions to support people living with and treating diabetes. Lilly introduced the world's first commercial insulin in 1923, and remains at the forefront of medical and delivery device innovation to manage diabetes. Lilly is also committed to providing solutions beyond therapy -- practical tools, education and support programs to help overcome barriers to success along the diabetes journey. At Lilly, the journey of each person living with or treating diabetes inspires ours. For more information, visit www.lillydiabetes.com
About Eli Lilly and Company
Eli Lilly and Company, a leading innovation-driven company, is developing a growing portfolio of pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers -- through medicines and information -- for some of the world's most urgent medical needs. Information about Lilly is available at www.lilly.com

SOURCE Eli Lilly and Company


Woman-Owned Businesses Retaining Their Employees in Tough Economy

The annual survey by the Women Presidents' Organization shows 67% of companies have increased or maintained employee salaries
NEW YORK, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Women presidents have shown they can adjust to the changing economic climate. Results from the surveyed membership indicate 55% of women presidents and CEOs of multi-million dollar companies have maintained or grown their employee base, according to the annual economic survey by the Women Presidents' Organization (WPO), the premier peer advisory organization for women entrepreneurs. Despite the economic downturn, 82% of these CEOs and presidents are optimistic about their company's performance for 2010.
"These statistics are evidence of the versatility and strength of companies owned by women entrepreneurs in the face of adversity," said Marsha Firestone Ph.D. president and founder of the WPO. "Our survey indicates that WPO members have found ways to adapt to the changing economic climate. To succeed as a small business is tougher than ever, yet 56% have indicated that their businesses are growing or stable in 2009. I sincerely believe that the members of the WPO are models of perseverance of small businesses globally."
The WPO currently has 1400 members from four continents (US, Canada, Peru, South Africa and the UK) and the survey showed that 81% of these women presidents confirmed that the WPO has helped manage their business concerns in the current economic climate.
Other Key Findings:
Relative to 2008, regarding financial performance in 2009
  • 31% of companies have grown
Environmental Sustainability
  • 54% have made their business environmentally friendly
  • 35% are interested in making their business environmentally friendly
WPO
  • 61% Believe their business has grown since joining
  • 65% Believe the WPO has contributed to economic success
Additional survey data is available upon request.
About the WPO:
The WPO is the premier peer advisory organization connecting women who own multi-million dollar companies. In monthly meetings across four continents (US, Canada, Peru, South Africa and the UK) chapters of 20 women presidents - from diverse industries- invest time and energy in themselves and their businesses to drive their corporations to the next level. Local WPO chapters are coordinated by a professional facilitator and meet monthly to share business expertise and experience in a confidential setting. For more information, call 212-688-4114 or visit http://www.womenpresidentsorg.com.
CONTACT:  Kirsten Wynn
    Women Presidents' Organization
    212-688-4114,
    Kirsten@womenpresidentsorg.com

SOURCE Women Presidents' Organization

Woman-Owned Businesses Retaining Their Employees in Tough Economy

Remembering 9/11, Firefighter Pat Brown and Others that Lost their Lives

Remembering the tragic events of 9/11 and rejoicing in a new book covering the life of a 9/11 firefighter that lost his life saving others

Today is September 11, 2009, 8 years after the tragic 9/11 events that changed America. Today seems like an appropriate day to reflect and think about that day and all the men, women and children that had their lives shortened or altered for life by the death of a loved one.

I remember exactly what I was doing that morning, I was on my way to a property inspection in Austin, Texas. On the radio they broke in to say a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center. At the time I didn’t realize the severity of the situation and didn’t pay much attention. Later I, along with all of America became glued to the television, watching in horror as newsreel repeated the days events.

I actually had been in one of the towers in 1994 when I was in NY for an internship, I worked at the Express store one day while I was there. It was a weird feeling realizing I had been there and now it was gone. I tried imagining how it would seem to be there, at the bottom of the towers, realizing the building was collapsing all around you. What an awful thing to have to go through.

I’ve been back to ground zero probably 4 times over the last few years. The first time I went I just stood in the middle of the street gazing at the big empty hole. Now when I go I stare into the hole and remember all the people that died that day.

Captain Patrick J. Brown of the FDNY is one of those people. He was one of the brave public servants that risked their life to help others in evacuating the World Trade Center.

In my random searches of the internet, I found a news story about Captain Patrick J. Brown and a book about his life, “Miss You, Pat.” It is fitting to bring up the book, not only because it is 9/11 but also it interested me because he was an avid yogi. The book cover says it all with a photo of Patrick on a yoga mat.

The book shares stories and memories from friends and family, as a result, it is a very intimate and touching book. Proceeds of the book benefit Bent On Learning.

To order, please click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I love Getting Free Things!

Today started off just a regular day, I'm taking a vacation day to get ready for my century ride this weekend. But it is turning out to be a money saving day and those are always good days! I just received the opportunity to get four things free, absolutely free! How? Because I sign up for just about any offer that comes my way. Let me explain.

Free Soap
It started with CVS. I have a CVS card and get emails from time to time with coupons. Lately it seems the coupons require some coupon program to be on your computer so I haven't actually used any of the email coupons. Today I got an email for a free item. I clicked on the link and the coupon was right on the link. Free antibacterial soap, no purchase required!

Free Cold Pack
Baylor Medical Center sends me their magazine. I usually flip through it, don't see much of interest and toss it in the recycle. I flipped through this one and there was an insert, fill this out and get a free heart shaped cold press. Cool! I think to myself, I could use one of those. So I filled out the card and mailed it off, postage paid, so that was free too!


Free Drink at Starbucks
On email today Starbucks is giving away a free drink on your birthday. All you have to do is update your online account with your birthday. So, I went online, updated my account and am now waiting for my free drink email! My birthday is in September so I get a free drink really soon!

Free $10 at White House Black Market
White House Black Market has a member club where you save 5% on your purchases and they send you catalogs and coupons. I've been trying to curtail spending so I haven't been using the coupons. Today I received a birthday greeting from them for $10 off. I have to buy something but I could buy something for as little as $10 and get it free! (That assumes they have something for $10 which is unlikely but I could get a knit top or a cute trinket for not much. Might be good to get a nice gift for someone.)

I encourage you to sign up for all kinds of email lists for places you enjoy to go, you never know when they will send you an email for something free! If you don't like getting all that "junk" email in your inbox, set up an email address just for those kinds of email lists. Sometimes it is the little things that make people happy, today free soap, cold press, coffee and $10 did it for me. 

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The day in the life of a plastic bag


Yesterday I carried groceries for someone. Today I am free and flying around the sky, getting blown from side to side by the wind and gusts from passing cars. It is so nice to be free! I am a little tattered from bumping up against cars, the road and the median barriers but I am not bound by a box or restricted to just holding groceries.

Today I saw the windshield of a grey Tacoma going along 635. Traffic was average I suppose; I barely had time to notice before I was tossed from the Tacoma into the air, flying higher and higher. Free! I flew around most of the day, tossing and turning, bumping into all kinds of things. I finally rested along the side of the road but I am sure with the next big gust of wind I will be up again on my next adventure.

I have the joy of knowing I will be around for a very long time enjoying the breeze, even the sun, rain and snow can’t keep me down. Oh, I might be a little worn for the wear but I will still be around, blowing in the breeze and making a nuisance of myself along the side of the road or in a parking lot. I might join some of my friends along trails or along the off-the-beaten path roads where trash likes to collect. Hopefully I will not be stuck to a fence like my poor friends that find themselves attached to barbwire.

Yes, it will be me, the plastic bag, and cockroaches that will survive after the rest of you are gone. Oh yuck! Cockroaches?! Perhaps I need to rethink this. If you could, could you please help me and recycle me instead? I would much rather be useful than be stuck being the shelter for a cockroach.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Return Address Labels: What to do with them

I got got a mailer today from the SPCA asking for money. It came with a sheet of address labels with cute pets on them and a donation sheet. This isn't unusual, I get maybe 2 - 4 of these a month from various businesses or charities. For the most part I don't donate to these anymore. I did one time and OH MY GOODNESS, I now can not go a day without getting mail from them soliciting MORE money from me! I appreciate the mailing labels; I have enough I will never be able to use them all. The businesses could stop mailing me stuff, save the money they spend on mailers and just use it for the cause. All that junk mail is such a waste!

So what do you DO with all these labels? Here are a few ideas.

  1. Keep a sheet in your purse or wallet. When someone asks you for your address or you want to be added to a mailing list, give them a label. It is quick and prevents them from writing it down wrong. Saves time and money!
  2. I keep a sheet at the office in case I need to mail something quickly, then I don't have to waste time writing out the address.
  3. To save time, I stick these to envelopes in bulk rather than one at a time. Then I don't have to go rummaging around looking for the label.
  4. They make great name plates for easy returns for things you loan out, books, cd, movies, etc.
  5. Got kids? Send the labels with them when they go away so they can mail letters back home.
  6. Add labels to kids stuff they take to school in case it gets lost.
  7. Going to a potluck? Stick a label on the bottom of the dish to remind people which one is yours.
How do you use your labels?

- Comfy Crafter

Monday, August 17, 2009

Recession 101

Have you seen billboards lately that say messages like "Interesting fact about recessions, they end." It is a new effort being overseen by Outdoor Advertising Association of America as a light hearted campaign to remind Americans we can all make it through this. I recently saw one in Dallas on my way back from Austin, it was along IH35 near the Bank of America building. It was definitely noticeable and made me look at it.

I'm not sure they make me feel more secure or that the recession will be over soon. With all the news stories of stocks going up, then down, then up, then down...who could be confident of anything? Businesses are going bankrupt daily, probably hourly and I just heard a news story the other day about EDS here in Dallas laying off people and cutting salaries. I don't think those people think the recession is ending. They probably wonder how they will even make it till tomorrow.

Even so, I do think it is great some one is trying to pass along a positive message. With all the negative economic talk, we sure could use some "glass is half full" motivation. Look them up at www.recession101.org or on twitter at www.twitter.com/recession101.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Houdini Limited Reproduction Bust, Stage Coat and other Memorabilia for Sale


If you are a magician or magic enthusiast, you know of Houdini and his many contributions to the world of magic. Today you have the rare opportunity to own a limited reproduction piece of Houdini memorabilia to display and share with family, friends and clients.

There are only two known copies of the Houdini plaster bust, one in David Copperfield's collection and one in Sidney Radner's collection. Owning one of the reproductions would put you in an elite group of magic enthusiasts.

Bess' stage coat is a rare one of a kind piece that is just now being offered as a reproduction piece. Skilled designers and craftsman are carefully and authentically reproducing Bess' stage coat using the same methods and materials used over 100 years ago.

If you are interested in learning more, contact Kent Cummins at 512-288-1596 or kent@kentcummins.com.

A portion of the proceeds goes to helping non profit organization The Kent Cummins Magic Camp. www.magiccamp.com






Friday, August 14, 2009

Is my head shrinking?

I’m convinced one of three things is happening to my head: my brain is losing brain matter, my head lost some fat or my hair is thinning. These are the only explanations I can find for my cycle helmet not fitting right anymore. I mean, is there another reason?!

I was riding my bike the other day and noticed my helmet was a little loose. I reached back to adjust it and realized it was as tight as it would go. As I rode around the lake, the wind kept pushing it up a little. Every time I pulled it down I kept feeling like it was looser than last year.

I bought the helmet last year when I was a little heavier. Now I already know my feet expand when I gain weight and shrink when I lose weight so it seems logical my head would also be a little fatty when I gain weight and shrink when I loose weight. Right? So last year when I bought the helmet, I had to get a large men’s. Yes, that’s right, a large MEN’S! There were no women’s helmets that were big enough. So sad. I have rationalized the size of my head to large brain mass, it makes me feel smarter some how. ( I realize this blog is changing that.)

So fat or brain loss? If you don’t believe the fat theory, we can discuss the brain matter theory. So lately I feel like my brain is on vacation. I use to be smart and able to think quick on my feet and lately it takes me longer to get going, I had to get glasses and my brain takes awhile to turn on in the morning. I do Sudoku puzzles to try and keep my brain fresh but age is moving faster than I can do puzzles. If I am loosing brain power, one might assume my brain was shrinking and my head was getting smaller, right?

Ok, you don’t like that theory? How about hair loss? Now this is totally possible. I have very thick hair. I hated it as a child and wished for thin hair. Watch what you wish for. Now as an adult I have thinner hair. So my next thought is maybe my hair has thinned out over the year and THAT is what is making my helmet not fit. Totally possible.

I ran all these theories by my boyfriend. Amazingly, he didn’t find any of my explanations plausible. His response? The padding in my helmet was probably worn out. Oh sure, have the practical answer!

So what do you think? Fat? Brain? Hair? Or just the padding is worn out?

Shame on you DFW Airport Part 3

Follow up email from Ken Kundmueller:

The CEO of D/FW has responded (http://www.freedomparkdfw.com/response.aspx#Fegan) to the volume of email and phone calls generated by my recent email to FreedomPark customers wherein I express concern over measures taken by the airport affecting valet parking. Mr. Fegan has a challenging job balancing the concerns of the airlines, the commercial partners of D/FW Airport, and the air travelers who support the public institution that he is entrusted to oversee. Sometimes decisions that benefit the interests of one group may compromise the interests of others. It has been my observation and experience that Mr. Fegan has done an excellent job navigating the mine field of problems and conflicting interests that attend his position as the head of the third largest airport in the nation.

However, as one of the most powerful public figures in North Texas, Mr. Fegan also has a fiduciary duty to you and all D/FW patrons to be factual when responding to an issue that generates as much passion as the one I shared in my email. I also have that same obligation to you to state the facts without abridgement.

Mr. Fegan uses terms such as 'misinformation', 'incomplete picture', and 'mischaracterization' when referring to the content of my email to FreedomPark customers. He's partially correct. I did indeed evaluate the facts and characterize the situation. It's my job as the head of my business to look at facts and draw conclusions, and then respond to those conclusions. When I see gray clouds and hear thunder, I roll up the windows on my car. Whether or not I mis-characterized it is a matter of opinion. His opinion. I think you, the FreedomPark customer, are intelligent enough to draw your own characterization from the facts.

So I have prepared a FACT sheet (http://www.freedomparkdfw.com/valetfactsheet.aspx) for you, without any characterization. Nothing in this fact sheet can be disputed by D/FW Airport. You decide for yourself whether or not I mischaracterized the situation, or the CEO of D/FW did.

It is important to note before you read further, that FreedomPark does not object to competition from the airport. We do object to unfair competition. It's hard enough for a small, local company like FreedomPark to compete against a large public institution that has combined forces with a company that has 160 parking operations in California. But it's another thing to try to compete against a different set of rules, a different fee structure, and a couple of lobbyists working the Board on behalf of PCI (why do they need lobbyists anyway).

It is also important to note that we do not object to the privilege fee. We never have objected to it. We just object to an increase in imposed fees when our competitor is afforded a decrease in contractually agreed fees.

But speaking of misinformation, mischaracterization, and giving an incomplete picture, I'd like to respond to a few of the representations that Mr. Fegan made in his release.

Fegan: "First, in narrowly defined circumstances due to the recession the Airport Board has approved temporary contractual adjustments for on-airport concessionaires."

Incomplete picture: recently approved a policy that grants only relief from the Minimum Annual Guarantee for struggling concessionaires, not for the percentage rent paid according to their contract. PCI was the only concessionaire given both MAG relief and a reduction in percentage rent, even though PCI did not qualify under the guidelines of the new policy.

Fegan: "A decision was made to forego a percentage fee increase due to the unique nature of the service provided by an on-airport concessionaire, which is a separate business segment and service for our customers from off-airport parking."

Incomplete picture: the board did not 'forego' and increase, as represented here. Mr. Fegan even acknowledges in this same response that the contractually 35 percent fee had been in place for 3 months and that the Board voted to "return PCI's percentage rent to 22 percent rather than 35 percent where it had been for a period of three months per the terms of the contract. The proper characterization of a rate that is already in place and then reduced would be 'rollback'.

Fegan: "In no way does the Board's decision on PCI represent a "bailout." No "taxpayer" money was lost."

Incomplete picture: The D/FW Airport Board charter specifies that any budget deficit that cannot be made up through higher fees to the airlines will be made up by tax money from the owner cities, Dallas and Fort Worth. So in that respect every dollar coming into or going out of the airport is 'tax dollars' since the owner cities, and their taxpayers, are ultimately on the hook for what happens financially at D/FW Airport.

Fegan: "It is also important to note that from 2001-2007, off-airport valets paid no privilege fees to the Airport whatsoever, while deriving over $25 million in revenue from their airport operations during that period. Off-airport valet is one of the largest non-aviation commercial users of Airport infrastructure, yet during this period of time they reimbursed DFW nothing for their utilization of Airport assets."

Misinformation: FreedomPark and the off-airport valet companies, contrary to this statement, did reimburse DFW Airport for its use of the infrastructure by paying the same entry and exit tolls that the public and many other commercial users pay to drive a passenger vehicle into and out of the airport.

Misinformation: FreedomPark and the other off-airport valet companies derived $14.5M during the period 2001-2007, not the $25M as stated in Mr. Fegan's response.

Mischaracterization: D/FW Airport is a public facility according to its charter. There are thousands of businesses that leverage the assets of public infrastructure (highways, etc) for the benefit of their business without paying a privilege fee to do so. Specifically, at DFW Airport, there are approximately 25 hotels with airport shuttle service, and whose occupancy is largely driven by passengers to and from D/FW Airport. Yet those hotels pay nothing for a privilege fee as required of the off-airport parking companies. All they pay is an entry and exit fee for their shuttle buses. So it is a mischaracterization to suggest that off-airport valet companies are somehow commercially exploiting DFW Airport.

Mischaracterization: FreedomPark does not, and has never, objected to the privilege fee.

Fegan: "It is important to note that in 2008 PCI paid more fees to DFW than all off-airport valet companies COMBINED. The question of who is receiving a subsidy is certainly an appropriate one to consider."

Incomplete picture: The complete picture is that during the term of PCI's first year in operation FreedomPark paid $650K in privilege fees, and the other two valet companies paid approximately $250K in fees. Additionally, The off-airport valet companies and their customers paid an additional $600K (by the airport's own estimate) in entry and exit tolls, which PCI customers are exempt from paying. PCI paid $800K in fees compared to $1.5M in fees and tolls paid by the off-airport valet operators. This is a financial fact the Mr. Fegan and his staff are very familiar with because the off-airport valet companies were denied a request to have the entry and exit tolls waived for their customers as they are for PCI customers.

Furthermore, besides receiving operating privilege for their fees, PCI also received a 1300 space parking facility and offices in two locations on the airport (by comparison FreedomPark paid $900K last year for 975 spaces and offices), and $250K in marketing expense paid for by DFW Airport. Ignoring the value of the parking facility and just deducting the marketing expenditures of the airport on behalf of PCI, the complete picture is that the airport netted $550K from PCI and $1.5M from the off-airport valet operators.

Fegan: "A decision was made to forego a percentage fee increase due to the unique nature of the service provided by an on-airport concessionaire, which is a separate business segment and service for our customers from off-airport parking."

Mischaracterization: the only unique nature of the on-airport service is the fact that they are allowed to take new customers without a reservation. FreedomPark asked to have this privilege included in our permit and were denied. Fegan replied: "It's not the deal that we sold them (PCI)." Ironically, we are permitted to accept existing customers without a reservation. So any uniqueness about the on-airport service is arbitrarily imposed and against the consent of the off-airport valet operators. Furthermore, the on-airport valet service can, by no stretch of the truth, be considered a separate business segment and service from off-airport parking.

To use Fegan's own terminology, the question of who is mischaracterizing, giving misinformation, and and incomplete picture, is certainly one to consider.

You decide.

Ken Kundmueller
CEO, FreedomPark

Shame on you DFW Airport Part 2 - Mr. Fegan's Response

http://www.freedomparkdfw.com/Res/FegansResponse.png

Shame on you DFW Airport

Here is an email I received from Ken Kundmueller, CEO of FreedomPark in Dallas, Texas. FreedomPark is a small business trying to provide valet service to DFW airport users. I've used the service and love it. DFW Airport is trying to squash the little guy in favor of keeping all the money for themselves. Shame on them.


In June the D/FW Airport Board approved a financial bailout for the California parking company (PCI) that operates the D/FW branded valet parking (you know, the guys that say “There's Only One”). The Board waived the minimum annual guarantee that PCI agreed to in the contract, and the percentage fee PCI pays to the airport was reduced by 33.3%.

Here's the part you're not going to like.

This past week the D/FW Airport Board approved a 25% increase in the fees that you, as a FreedomPark customer, have to pay for the right to chose FreedomPark as your valet service. That's right. The airport's DFW branded valet company's fees went down 33%, yours went up 25%. I guess they need your money to pay for all the big banners, and carpeted parking slots, and $10 per day valet parking coupons (which we are restricted from having).

The truth is, this has been brewing for some time. I've been holding off notifying you to see how the airport was going to respond to the financial results of their in-house valet project.

What are those results? PCI, the airport's valet contractor from California, lost $2.1M on $2.4M in revenues its first year in business. That's a loss of 87% on revenue. D/FW Airport also may have lost approximately $1.1M on the valet project based on information we have obtained through the Texas Public Information Act (information even the Airport Board has not been shown).

Instead of acknowledging the failure of this project, and allowing the successful off-airport valet companies like FreedomPark to take up the slack, D/FW Airport has responded by placing operating restrictions on the free-enterprise providers, and by using their regulatory authority to increase the financial and operating disparity between their government-supported operation and the independent valet companies. If you want a more detailed explanation of the systematic steps the airport is taking to eliminate competition in this market, click on this link.

But the bottom line is that they are increasing your fees to pay for their failed project. I personally believe that in order for their valet project to succeed they will ultimately need to eliminate all other valet options and establish a monopoly in the airport valet service industry at D/FW Airport. I believe that if the airport's Parking Business Unit is able to regulate the industry without any public accountability, then their
valet motto will become a reality: "There's Only One." In fact that is
exactly what one of their marketing memos states as a goal: “To build a fence around parking business from going to off-airport.” (June 9, 2008)

Carolyn, that will be a sad day, not only for you and for me. It will be a sad day for private enterprise in North Texas. The message to free enterprise will be: If you innovate for the benefit of the North Texas traveler, take risk, invest capital, develop a market, work hard to serve that market, and are successful in your efforts, DFW Airport will use its regulatory authority to usurp your innovation and seize control of that market. What country are we in?

I've appealed to the airport staff, with no results. So it's up to you.


If you want to insure that you always have a choice of service providers in a fair market, you are going to need to let the Airport Board and staff know how you feel. You are their customer. They exist to serve you. If you reside in the city limits of Dallas or Fort Worth you might also want to contact your city council member or mayor.

You can email the D/FW Airport Board and staff, or call them. The email addresses and phone numbers are listed below. Better yet, take a few minutes to defend our free enterprise system and your right to chose, and come to the next D/FW Airport Board meeting. You can contact the Board secretary, Donna Schnell, at dschnell@dfwairport.com to register as a speaker. You'll have 3 minutes to talk. The next meeting is at 8:30 AM on Thursday, September 3, at the DFW Airport administrative offices. I will be there.

Thanks for your support, and for being a FreedomPark customer.

Ken Kundmueller
CEO, FreedomPark Airport Valet Services
ken.kundmueller@freedomparkdfw.com
214-673-0524 cell

Jeff Fegan
CEO DFW Airport
jfegan@dfwairport.com DFW International Airport 3200 East Airfield Drive DFW Airport, TX 75261 972-973-5200

Ken Buchanan
Executive Vice President - Revenue Management D/FW Airport kenbuchanan@dfwairport.com
DFW International Airport
3200 East Airfield Drive
DFW Airport, TX 75261
972-973-5225

Armin Cruz
Vice President - Parking D/FW Airport
acruz@dfwairport.com DFW International Airport 3200 East Airfield Drive DFW Airport, TX 75261 972-973-4850

Lillie M. Biggins
Member, D/FW Airport Board
lilliebiggins@texashealthcare.cor

Harris Methodist Fort Worth
1301 Pennsylvania Ave.
Fort Worth, TX 76104
817-250-1200


Robert Hsueh
Secretary, D/FW Airport Board
dschnell@dfwairport.com Law Offices of Robert Hsueh
4201 Spring Valley Road; Ste. 1102
Dallas, TX, 75244-3619
972 239-5888


Tom Leppert
Mayor, City of Dallas

Dallas City Hall
1500 Marilla Street, Room 5EN
Dallas, TX 75201-6390
214-670-4054

Mike Moncrief
Mayor, City of Fort Worth
Mike.moncrief@fortworthgov.org

1000 Throckmorton St
Fort Worth, TX 76102
817-392-6118

Francisco Hernandez
Vice Chair, D/FW Airport Board
francisco@texasmexicolaw.com
Law Offices of Francisco Hernandez
800 W Weatherford
Fort Worth, TX, 76102
817-335-2331

Benjamin Muro
Chair, D/FW Airport Board
bmuro@brick.com
Acme Brick
2821 West 7th Street
Fort Worth, TX 76107-2288
817-332-4101

Bernice Washington
Member D/FW Airport Board
bernice@bernicewashington.com
BJW Consulting Group, LLC
18352 Dallas Parkway ste. 136 PMB 340
Dallas Tx 75287 6842
972-407-9090

Brenda Reyes
breyes@prodigy.net
Member D/FW Airport Board
Arriba Solutions
6333 E. Mockingbird Lane # 147-779
Dallas Tx 75214
214-727-7295

Betty J. Culbreath
bettyculbreath@yahoo.com
Member D/FW Airport Board
P.O. Box 764588
Dallas Tx 75376
214-374-9100

Forrest Smith
forrestsmith@wforrestsmith.com
Member D/FW Airport Board
Forrest Smith
3232 McKinney Ave


Media Contacts

Cheryl Hall
Dallas Morning News
cherylhall@dallasnews.com

Jack Fink
Channel 11 News
jackf@ktvt.com


Bennett Cunningham
Channel 11 News
bennettc@ktvt.com


Eric Torbenson
Dallas Morning News
etorbenson@dallasnews.com


Byron Okada
Fort Worth Star Telegram
okada@star-telegram.com

Thursday, August 13, 2009

ShotBloks, Gu, Chomps, Sport Beans: Which one is right for you?

Have you ever wondered what electrolyte supplement was best for running, cycling or general exercise? I have and I’ve tried many. The short answer is it depends on what you like and what works for you. The long answer? Here is what I have found out, hope it helps you find what is best for your exercise routine.

First let me say that before last year, I had never heard of Shot Bloks, Gu, Chomps or energy Sport Beans. I started with Shot Bloks and Gu when I was training for my first century ride. Chomps is made by Gu so that was a natural progression and Sport Beans was only after a fellow Team in Training runner had some and liked them. During my Team in Training experience while training for my first marathon I mostly used Shot Bloks. In general I use Shot Bloks and Sport Beans for running and cycling now. Chomps seem just like Shot Bloks and the package is harder to stuff in a fuel belt or pocket and Gu is a little messy.

Here is a run down of my opinions of each product.

Shot Bloks
Shot Bloks recently changed their packaging from a square package to a tube like package which makes it perfect for a fuel belt, pocket or pouch. Six Bloks come in each package, three is a 100 calorie single serving. You can take as many or as few as you would like but a standard serving is three blocks. When I put them in a pocket I squeeze the tube, separating the package into three and three and fold it in half. It is now a perfect size to go in a pouch or a cycle shirt. The package might “pop” and break a seal but it should be ok, if you exercise long enough to need two servings a broken seal shouldn’t matter. If you have some left over, you can put then in a zip lock bag or if you have a Food Saver sealer, you can seal the end. I love this because it saves the other blocks and they don’t get hard and dried out. You can cut a tiny slit in the seam the next time you exercise to make it easier to open.

Gu
Gu comes in a single 100 calorie serving. It is perfect if you are only plan on taking one serving of electrolytes. You basically rip off the top and suck out the gooey substance. You can roll the package as you suck in the Gu to squeeze out all the product. One negative is you have to use the entire product at one time; you can’t just have half a serving. As long as you need the full serving this is fine but the other products give more flexibility to use as much or as little as you need. I also don’t like the fact that the piece you ripped off and the rest of the packaging are separate, inevitably one ends up on the ground and I hate that. The good thing is if you accidentally leave it in your shirt and wash it, they was fine and are still usable, not so much with Sport Beans.

Chomps
Chomps are made by Gu. The package is a small rectangular bag that holds two 100 90 calorie servings. I have had these before but like I said, they are similar to Shot Bloks and I find Shot Bloks easier to manage. I get the same energy out of them so I am sticking with Shot Bloks for now.

Sport Beans
Sport Beans are made by Jelly Belly and are pretty tasty which goes against everything anyone had ever told me prior to me trying them. (One reason it took me until this year to try them.) Each single serving package is 100 calories. I like these because you can “snack” on the beans and eat one or two or a whole handful. One downside I found out is when they heat up, they tend to melt together and stuck to the package. I had some beans in my cycle shirt and either I was heating up or the sun melted them. Also, unlike Gu, Sport Beans do not wash well, the package lets in water and the beans just gel together. Of course, I could just remember to take them out of your shirt but then what would be the fun in that?

All the products come in a variety of flavors with some containing caffeine for an added boost. Shot Bloks has margarita flavored ones with extra salt. I like to use these for my long runs or rides, helps replenish the salt I loose from excessive sweating. (Yes, I sweat a lot!)

I hope my trial and error in finding the right energy supplement helps you narrow down what is right for you. Here are links to the various products.

http://www.clifbar.com/food/products_shot_bloks/
www.guenergy.com/
http://www.guenergy.com/products/gu-chomps
http://www.jellybelly.com/Shop/ShopMain.aspx

Thursday, August 06, 2009

If you are having a bad day, read this...

When I have a bad day, I pull this email up and it makes me laugh. If you are having a bad day, read this and see if life doesn't seem just a little more funny and easier to handle.

For all of you who occasionally have a really bad day when you just need to take it out on someone!!! Don't take that bad day out on someone you know; take it out on someone you DON'T know!!!

Now get this... I was sitting at my desk, when I remembered a phone call I had to make. I found the number and dialed it. A man answered nicely saying, "Hello?" I politely said, "This is Patrick Hannifin and could I please speak to Robin Carter?" Suddenly the phone was slammed down on me! I couldn't believe that anyone could be that rude. I tracked down Robin's correct number and called her.

I had transposed the last two digits. After I hung up with Robin, I spotted the wrong number still lying there on my desk. I decided to call it again. When the same person once more answered, I yelled, "You're a jackass!" and hung up. Next to his phone number I wrote the word "jackass," and put it in my desk drawer. Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills, or had a really bad day, I'd call him up.

He'd answer and I'd yell, "You're a jackass!" It would always cheer me up.

Later in the year the phone company introduced caller ID. This was a real disappointment for me; I would have to stop calling the jackass. Then one day I had an idea. I dialed his number, then heard his voice, "Hello." I made up a name. "Hi. This is the sales office of the telephone company and I'm just calling to see if you're familiar with our caller ID program?" He went, "No!" and slammed the phone down. I quickly called him back and said, "That's because you're a jackass!"

The reason I took the time to tell you this story, is to show you how if there's ever anything really bothering you, can do something about it. Just dial 823-4863 ............

[***Keep reading, it gets better.]

The old lady at the mall really took her time pulling out of the parking space. I didn't think she was ever going to leave. Finally, her car began to move and she started to very slowly back out of the slot. I backed up a little more to give her plenty of room to pull out. Great, I thought, she's finally leaving. All of a sudden this black Camaro come flying up the parking aisle in the wrong direction and pulls into her space. I started honking my horn and yelling, "You can't just do that, Buddy. I was here first!" The guy climbed out of his Camaro completely ignoring me. He walked toward the mall as if he didn't even hear me. I thought to myself, this guy's a jackass; there sure a lot of jackasses in this world. I noticed he had a "For Sale" sign in the back window of his car. I wrote down the number. Then I hunted for another place to park.

A couple of days later, I'm at home sitting at my desk. I had just gotten off the phone after calling 823-4863 and yelling, "You're a jackass!" (It's really easy to call him now since I have his number on speed dial.) I noticed the phone number of the guy with the black Camaro lying on my desk and thought I'd better call this guy, too. After a couple rings someone answered the phone and said, "Hello."

I said, "Is this the man with the black Camaro for sale?"

"Yes, it is." "Can you tell me where I can see it?"

"Yes, I live at 1802 West 34th street. It's a yellow house and the car's parked right out front."

I said, "What's your name?"

"My name is Don Hansen."

"When's a good time to catch you, Don?"

"I'm home in the evenings."

"Listen Don, can I tell you something?"

"Yes,"

"Don, you're a jackass!" And I slammed the phone down. After I hung up I added Don Hansen's number to my speed dialer.

For a while, things seemed to be going better for me. Now when I had a problem, I had two jackasses to call. Then, after several months of calling the jackasses and hanging up on them, it just wasn't as enjoyable as it used to be.

I gave the problem some serious thought and came up with a solution: First, I had my phone dial Jackass #1. A man answered nicely saying,"

Hello." I yelled "You're a jackass!" but I didn't hang up.

The jackass said," Are you still there?"

I said, "Yeah."

He said, "Stop calling me."

I said, "No."

He said, "What's your name, Pal?"

I said, "Don Hansen."

He said, "Where do you live?"

"1802 West 34th Street. It's a yellow house."

"I'm coming over right now, Don. You'd better start saying your prayers."

"Yeah, like I'm really scared, Jackass!" and I hung up.

Then I called Jackass #2. He answered, "Hello."

I said, "Hello, Jackass!"

He said, "If I ever find out who you are..."

"You'll what?"

"I'll kick your butt."

"Well, here's your chance. I'm coming over right now Jackass!" And I hung up.

Then I picked up the phone and called the police. I told them I was at 1802 West 34th Street and that I was going to kill my gay lover as soon as he got home.

Another quick call to Channel 13 about the gang war going on down W. 34th Street.

After that I climbed into my car and headed over to 34th Street to watch the whole thing.

It was Glorious! Watching two Jackasses kicking the crap out of each other in front of 6 squad cars and a police helicopter was one of the greatest experiences of my life!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Bikram Yoga, Yard Work, Good Day

I got up today thinking I was going to cycle 60 miles around White Rock Lake. I was half dressed when I heard rolling thunder, cycling was not in the cards today. I decided to swap with Sunday and go to Bikram Yoga today and ride tomorrow. So what to do all day if I'm not riding? Tree trimming apparently.

I went to Lowes and bought a limb cutter, one of those pole cutters that cuts limbs. I would have used my typical method of ladder and handsaw but I've already cut the limbs I can reach with that method and my neighbors winch when they see me teetering on the ladder with a sharp blade.

The hardest part of cutting limbs might have been getting the darn thing out of the plastic package. Why are those darn things so hard to get into? I had to use a pair of scissors, a wire cutter and brute strength. I did finally manage to get it put together and cut some limbs. If you decide to try this, these things are not meant for the weak. The pole is not particularly heavy but it is awkward and after some time of straining your neck looking up into the tree, your arms do get tired from the angle.

After I did that I got motivated to plant a small tree I had growing in a pot. Don't think too much of me, it really was a SMALL tree! It's cute though, I am going to call it Greenie. I'll blog about its progress.














After yard work I got ready for yoga. The 4:00 pm class at at Bikram Yoga Dallas was packed. I managed to get a place on the 3rd row. I love Bikram Yoga. It is 90 minutes of me. No one there cares what you look like, who you are outside of the yoga room. Heck, they aren't even looking at you, they are looking at themselves. It isn't a self centered negative thing, it IS a self awareness GOOD thing. I get to spend 90 minutes focused on my mind and my body and making both do exactly what I want them to do. It is an amazing experience. Class today was hard. I guess if it isn't hard you aren't trying hard enough but today was particularly hard, I had to sit out of a few postures. Even so, great class!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Reuse Plastic Zipper Bags

Ever wonder what to do with those plastic bags(the kind that zip) that come with linens?

Use them to store packing material or gift basket filler material.

I had several of these bags and almost threw them away but instead used them to store my packing and basket materials. I used all but one which is great, less in the landfill and they are securely closed and easy to see since they are clear plastic. Plus, the plastic is more sturdy than a food bag such as a Zip-Lock so they hold up longer.















Gift basket filler in a bag that a blanket came in.

















Popcorn styro peanuts in a bag that a comforter set came in.