Gimmie all your money….kidding, just kidding

You may have noticed that I’ve started doing a few new things on the website, blog, newsletter and on Facebook.

First I want to issue a statement: I’m not a sales girl….I’m the same chatty blogger that you know and love. (Like?…. vaguely tolerate?…. stop… just stop… this is just bad for my ego.)

Anytime you see me posting about a product I’m posting something that I use and love. The whole point of the PhoenixRize Blog is to share stuff that I think is cool, interesting, fun and worth sharing with my friends. Recipes, yoga tips, travel destinations, thoughts and products.

I’ve recently become associated with two new organizations that I’ll be sharing through the PhoenixRize Blog that allow me to make a little profit if you purchase through me…. if you want to buy through my links… cool. If you don’t… equally cool. Okay?  If you want to shop at Target or used book stores…. still cool. The links I’m sharing give you the chance to purchase through me and I get a small fee from the company….

The first…..

I’m pretty sure you couldn’t have missed that I’ve joined Jamberry. I’m madly in love with these nail wraps and products. They’re just so perfect for me…. these things hold up to all the abuse and torture that I inflict on my hands and nails and they still look pretty. Nail polish doesn’t stand a chance with me.  Acrylics are the only thing that even comes close and they cost about $20-30 every time. I like to get the French Tips… plain color is a bit cheaper, but with Jamberry I can have French Tips and/or other embellishments…. for about $5 a manicure. Yep… each set of wraps ($15) can do up to 4 manicures. 💜LOVE 💜 … oaky…woosh!  I just took off on a Jamberry ramble… see?  I have no control when it comes to sparkles. Sorry about that.

And the second….

Really isn’t anything you haven’t already seen in my posts/newsletters, I’ve always posted links to books and products on Amazon. What has changed is the fact that I now live in a state that allows me to collect a fee if you buy through my links. I’m an ‘Amazon Affiliate’… which means that when I post a link from Amazon there’s a little bit in the code that tells Amazon that I suggested the product to you. It doesn’t change your interaction with Amazon or the cost of the product at all. Amazon doesn’t give me any info about you… just that someone bought through my link. Another cool bit is that if you click my link and buy anything from Amazon within 24 hours of that click I get a fee. For instance, I share a certain book… and you click my link and decide not to buy that book, but you choose another book and maybe a box of tea… I still get a little fee. (I didn’t understand that about the program before I joined…. and I follow a lot of other bloggers who are part of the program too… just thought it was cool.)

So I have the ability to monetize my blogging/posting habit a little bit now.  If you need any encouragement to shop… I’m happy to have helped!  If not…. well just ignore me… no biggie.

I just wanted to be up front with you about what I’m posting and the fact that I make a bit of a profit on certain items.

Still love me?  Yay!  Okay… let’s go shopping!

you can go home again, but Mom will have moved everything

They say you can’t go home again.  What they should have said is ‘you shouldn’t go home again, and if you do, for some stupid reason, you won’t be able to find anything.’

Since our house officially sold at the end of July, we’ve been living with Mom until her house sells… which will be at the end of September… so basically out of one chaotic, moving-box filled mess into another.

Living at Mom’s is just a short-term thing until she closes on her house and then we’ll all move into the RV…. Me, Mom, Brian, Boo…. and six (SIX OMG!!!) cats.  I thought I was being really clever when we started moving our stuff into Mom’s place.  Most of our stuff was already packed in a POD and on its way to Florida to wait for the new house to be finished (which is never going to get finished if these builders don’t get started!).  So I kept putting the things that I knew we’d need in the RV into the RV.  Right?  Makes sense…. we didn’t need it in Mom’s house so it should just go straight into the RV…Right?

Well, it would have been a good plan except that we took the RV in for service and apparently I have no ability to estimate how long it will take to get things done.  (Actually, I’m pretty good at estimating how long it takes me and Brian to get stuff done, because we just DO things.  Got a project?  GO DO IT!!!! Bam!  The project is done.  It’s not hard people!!!! – Oh, dear….  can you tell I’m a bit tired of working with other people?) Anyway….. So I packed useful things into the RV and just brought clothes and stuff inside. And then we sent the RV in for service and apparently I needed everything that was inside it.  😦

I spent the first few days at Mom’s sick as a dog… moving stress isn’t good for my head and I had headaches and then I did something (moving) to screw up my back… but Mom babied me, so it was kinda nice.

Then I spent the rest of the week looking for things.  Things that Mom either got rid of IMG_1178already (‘but you said you had a blender, muffin tin.. etc.. so I took mine to Goodwill’)… or she moved them at some point in the 17 years since I moved out.  It was all very exciting. It’s been like living in my very own Chopped episode.  ‘Now you must cook dinner using only a spoon, a whisk and the contents of the pantry!’ Since we’re trying to use up all the random stuff left in the pantry dinners have been kind of interesting….

I bake when I’m stressed and not being find anything in the kitchen was making me more stressed.  So the second week I had a fit of OCD and rearranged everything in the kitchen while Mom was gone.  She loved it…. yeah…. no.  No….. I’m totally in the doghouse every time Mom looks for something now. I keep trying to explain my system… Everything is alphabetized by category….. but she’s not having it.  She keeps moving the peanut butter and coconut oil back into the lazy-susan when I’m not looking.  IMG_1182

This morning Brian made his Happy Accident GF Biscuits for breakfast so we could work on using up all the jelly in the fridge.  Between Mom’s collection and our own we had six jars of jelly/jam open. And apparently, Mom has been stockpiling Costco bacon….. I’m going to weigh 400 lbs by the time we get out of here.




it’s just 110

Mom called me the other day:

“Hi, Stef.  How are you?”

“Fine, Mom.  What’s up?”  I’d just finished mowing the grass and I was trying to get all the grass and twigs out of my hair… how does she always know when I’m taking a bath?!

“Oh, nothing much.  Can I talk to Brian?” She sounded really cheerful.  I should have been more suspicious.  We don’t really call to chit-chat.  We talk in person and we text.  Besides, in my family we all jump and lunge for the phone whenever it rings because there’s usually been some disaster… we try to spare each other the dreaded “Ring of Doom.” You’ll notice though, even in the tub I answer the damn phone, because who knows what disaster might be happening this time.

“He’s downstairs…. what do you need, Mom?” shampoo was foaming towards my eyes.

“Oh, nothing….” really cheerful.  Like the time she called me at work and chatted for five minutes before asking me if I thought I could leave a little early and take her to the emergency room because one of the llamas had head butted her and broken her nose.  (See… me?  I might have led with that little bit of info.) “I just did something stupid.  Don’t worry.  I’ll call Brian.”

“Ummmm… okay?”   She’d already hung up.  I finished washing my hair because I figured I’d need to get the shampoo out of my hair if we were headed to the ER anyway.  Besides, she was talking pretty coherently, so I figured I had a few minutes.

I texted Brian from the tub:

Me: What stupid thing did Mom do?

Brian: Cut an extension cord

Me: How?!

Brian: Pruners

Actually… it wasn’t as bad as some of her phone calls…. “Hi Stef….. I’m locked in a dog cage and I can’t get out because the there’s a big dog outside the cage and the neighbors are vacuuming and can’t seem to hear me yelling.  Could you come get me?”

That happened back when Brian and I were first dating.  He still married me… even after I yelled at him to grab his shoes we had to go get my mom because she was locked in the neighbor’s dog cage… again.  Seriously…. he had plenty of warning… he has no excuse now.

Text to Mom:

Me: Mom… WTH?!

Mom: I was clipping a path so I could shut this door and the extension wire was in the middle of the grass.  A little shocking is all… oh.. and the clippers have a chunk out of them, but the handle has plastic, so I’m fine.

Me: OMG!!!!

Mom: You know I provide lots of material for your blogs.

And she does.  Soooo much material.










snuffleupagus has a cold

Brian’s had a cold this week and no one has been sleeping…. Trying to sleep when Brian has a cold…… It’s like trying to sleep next to a drunken snuffleupagus.  He snorts and snores and flails around.  Boo and the cats have abandoned Brian’s side of the bed and huddled on mine… which is totally unheard of, because apparently I can’t produce my own body heat, so the cats prefer Brian.  Also, he remembers to feed them at regular intervals…. so…. whatever….

Last night… after a week of Mr. Snuffleupagus snuffling, coughing and snoring he finally stopped snoring.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve spent my entire life listening to people breath while they sleep….. while I don’t sleep….

I was probably 3… maybe 4… Mom was having an asthma attack… mostly, I remember the end of the attack… Mom working to convince her lungs to stop trying to kill her.  Sitting in the dark living room… Mom wrapped in an orange quilt… drinking coffee?  Dozing beside her as her breathing eased and quieted… Starting awake because I couldn’t hear her breathing anymore.  Learning that Mom didn’t like to be poked (gently)… just to make sure that she was still alive.

Not sleeping while listening to people/puppies breathe has become one of my hangups…. Bailey, my Pomeranian who had seizures… Boo, my Pomeranian who does this weird reverse sneeze thing…. and snores (basically just to screw with me) and now Brian…..

Since sleeping wasn’t likely anyway, I’d been reading a book (Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh… freaking hilarious!) so I noticed when Brian switched from bone jarring snores to soft rattles….to … nothing…..

“Brian,” I whispered.


“Brian…” I poked his arm just a little.

Still nothing.

I poked his arm just a little harder… sorta like a slap… but… a gentle one…. “Brian, are you alive?!”

Brian jerked awake, “Hunh, what?!”

“Nothing, Baby.  Everything’s fine.. go back to sleep.”

Good thing I was there to keep an eye on him.   He’s so lucky.




Starbucks Mind Control

I think I may be an awful person… or maybe Starbucks has just got me trained really well?!

Today I pull up to the Starbucks drive-up window and hold my phone out the car window to pay (with the Starbucks app).. and the perky little barista tells me that the guy in the car ahead of me paid for my drinks.

“Wait. What?!  No.”  Yeah… Super clever conversationalist, huh?  I my defense, it was 3:00 and I needed that coffee to be able to use complete sentences again.

So… This guy paid for Mom and my Coffee Frappuccinos with mini chocolate chips…. That was nice….. but… um… It’s after 3:00 so I get bonus stars with my Starbucks Rewards Card.

So maybe I was just completely thrown by someone being nice to me…

Or maybe it was that it was after 3:00 and I really needed caffeine and sugar.

Possibly it was just that I’d been talking about paying and I’d been playing with the app…. I’d just spent the wait in the drive up telling Mom how the new Starbucks rewards thing worked.

Or maybe it’s a math issue… Converting Stars to US dollars?!

Totally at a loss I took my Frappuccinos and drove away.

Mom: That was nice

Me: I didn’t get any Bonus Stars

Mom: you got free drinks…

Me: But no stars!

Mom: So, wait… You’d rather pay and get stars?

This is where I realize that the Starbucks mind control thing is totally working…

Me: No?  Right…? Yeah… No.

Mom: We’re you supposed to buy drinks for the car behind you?

Me: Well, F@&$

Thanks to the guy ahead of me… Apologies to the guy behind me…..

Because the world needs more cat pics

I had to take my cat MoJo to the vet this week for a dental cleaning. Thank god we don’t have human kids, the fur-babies dental work costs plenty!  213fbb6a-14d0-48fb-8d6c-33593e6996c1

MoJo is an older cat and apparently I am a terrible parent…. he had his teeth cleaned a year and a half ago, but needed them done again.

We have started going to a new vet recently…. the sweetest vet…. As politely as possible she told me that I really should be brushing MoJo’s teeth every day…. and Mayhem’s and Boo’s…. and shit! she doesn’t know about the two outdoor cats yet.  So she really doesn’t know what an awful parent I am. I can’t even begin to imagine trying to wrangle all the fur-babies and get their teeth brushed every day.

See why I don’t have human children?  Somebody would be calling Child Services on me all the time. They’d be roaming around the backyard in their pajamas with their teeth not brushed… Brian would have to be the one to remember to feed them too… No, no… I’m better off with the four-legged kids… they’re more self reliant.  And they can’t tell their therapist stories about me…

“Or, maybe, I could just bring him in every year and you could clean his teeth?”

The vet sighed.  Maybe she has realized what an awful parent she’s dealing with… “Or you could bring him in every year and we can clean his teeth.”

Yay!  I’m a bad parent, but I’m supporting local business!


MoJo decided to sing the whole way to the vet’s office.  Opera. So, I was punished for being a crappy mom… When I dropped him off he’d let out a melodramatic wail every time the vet tech would say anything…

me: MoJo’s here for his dental

MoJo: OOOoooowwww!

Vet Tech: Hi there, MoJo

MoJo: OOOOhhhhhoooooooowwwwwwaaaaaa!

me: He’s the first one you’re gonna knock out, huh?

Vet Tech: (pained smile) We’re gonna get him in right away.  You should be able to pick him up around 3:30.

MoJo: UUuuuuuggggghhhoooww

Vet Tech: Maybe earlier…. We’ll call you. Keep your phone turned on.

a77ceef5-4475-46b2-8aa2-4128ff02a338I got a phone call at 12:00 that MoJo would be ready to go home at two.

Of course it had started to snow by the time I went to pick him up so he wailed pitifully and melodramatically all the way home through the snow.  So helpful.

Also, I discovered this thing called Dream Scope, which is a wonderful way to waste three hours and make really cool pictures of your cats.  Because the world needs more cool cat pictures.

I’m not a blogger, but I play one on the internet

me: I can’t find the paint brushes.

Brian: What are you painting?

me: I’m going to touch up the wall in our room.

Brian: I thought you were photographing the cinnamon rolls.

me: Yeah, but I had to take my Yoga bag downstairs so I wouldn’t forget it…. and I found the paint and remembered that I needed to touch up that wall.

Brian: Yoga isn’t until Monday and the cinnamon rolls are almost done….. (He’s very concerned about these cinnamon rolls)

me: Yes… but the Yoga bag was on the dining room table and I couldn’t get all the vacation photos laid out so I could frame them.

Brain: What does any of this have to do with the cinnamon rolls?!  (He’s very concerned about the cinnamon rolls.)


This is a pretty typical conversation in our house…. the little details change… like “Why is the iron on the dining room table?” and “What is the dog wearing now?” and “Why are all the cats hiding under the couch?”

Brian doesn’t really understand how my brain works.  He likes to start a project and finish by lunchtime.  I like to start ten projects and wander back and forth between them as inspiration waxes and wanes….. Which explains everything really.  The iron is still on because I was making t-shirts with funny little iron-on sayings for the dog and the cats, but I wanted to make sure that you could read them and then I wanted to take a picture and the dog wouldn’t smile and the cats were being unhelpful little asses….. Honestly, this all makes perfect sense to me.

Lately I’ve been trying to figure out what this blog is all about.  It started as a place for me to talk about the wedding (7 years ago) and then wandered back and forth between being a gluten free foodIMG_0936 blog and a travel blog.  Sometimes there’s little bits about yoga, maybe a craft project or two….

I guess I’m having an identity crisis….  Am I a blogger?  And if I am, what kind of blogger am I?

One of my favorite bloggers wrote a series of great posts about blogging and one of the points that really struck me was to write a mission statement.  What a great idea!  But I’m not sure what my mission is…. So I spent entirely too long reading my favorite bloggers’ About Pages which would of course lead to reading more of their posts and then clicking links and then several hours had disappeared and I wasn’t any closer to my own mission statement….. Do I want to be like my favorite Food Blogger? Or my favorite Lifestyle Blogger? No, wait! Maybe that Yoga Blog that I love so much…… And of course, there is always Jenny who I really identify with….

Well…. I love them all…. I want to be like all of them when I’m a Grown Up Blogger….. and I think to choose just one area to focus on and share stories about wouldn’t be honest… that’s not me.  I’m not a Food Blogger or Yoga Guru or Perfect Lifestyle/Hair and Make Up kinda girl….. I’m a bit of all of them.  I’m the girl with a bucket of purple paint under one arm and a Pomeranian in the other, with cats hiding under the couch and cinnamon rolls in the oven and travel photos scattered all over the dining room tables and yoga bags left in the doorways…. and well….. that’s just me.  Weird, chaotic and endlessly curious…. I think we’re got our mission statement there folks…..

Weird, Chaotic and Endlessly Curious…. the Phoenix Rize Blog.

Something to Occupy My Brain

When Brian and I stared renovating houses for a living I found my brain had a lot of free time available.  I spend a lot of time painting or cleaning or scrubbing vinyl siding by myself. My brain is like an ADD toddler hopped up on Mt Dew and Pixie Stix…. if not kept entertained it’ll run rampant and cause all kinds of trouble… like planning a My Little Pony Circus birthday party for my Pomeranian (Brain didn’t think it was an amazing idea…. because dying ponies purple and gluing glitter wings on them was a “bad” idea…) or worrying about government/alien conspiracies (Brian told me to email Amazon and return all my Doomsday Prep supplies…. he’s gonna be sorry when the aliens invade and we have to forage for Gluten Free food!)

Since Brian doesn’t appreciate all my planning and genius ideas it’s just best to keep my brain entertained quietly.  Brian recommended podcasts.  He got me started on educational stuff…. which I enjoy… I listen to a bunch of shows from TWIT tv.  (This Week In Tech… it’s an abbreviation, not an insult…) I enjoy them…. there are tons of interesting things to learn…. but… you know… “educational.”

I’ve recently discovered story style podcasts and I’m hooked on several really good ones.

You can listen to podcasts in several different ways… iTunes, direct from the web, Pandora, but I like using the Overcast App.  There is a free version, but I opted to pay the $5.00 so that I could download podcasts using data instead of only WI-FI… I like to be able to download new podcast when we’re traveling and I don’t want to have to wait for a WI-FI connection.  (There are other benefits, but that was all I was after.)

Favorite Podcasts:

Serial  – Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial tells one story—a true story—over the course of a season. Each season, we follow a plot and characters wherever they take us. We won’t know what happens at the end until we get there, not long before you get there with us. Each week we bring you the next chapter in the story, so it’s important to listen to the episodes in order.

The Black TapesThe Black Tapes is a weekly podcast from Pacific Northwest Stories and Minnow Beats Whale, and is hosted by Alex Reagan. The Black Tapes is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her enigmatic subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both.

Lore – Lore is an award-winning, critically-acclaimed podcast about true life scary stories. The people, places, and things of our darkest nightmares all have real facts at their core. – Each episode of Lore looks into a uniquely scary tale and uncovers the truth behind it.  Sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction.

Limetown – Ten years ago, over three hundred men, women and children disappeared from a small town in Tennessee, never to be heard from again. –  In this seven-part podcast, American Public Radio host Lia Haddock asks the question once more, “What happened to the people of Limetown?”

The Message – The Message is a new podcast following the weekly reports and interviews from Nicky Tomalin, who is covering the decoding of a message from outer space received 70 years ago. Over the course of 8 episodes we get an inside ear on how a top team of cryptologists attempt to decipher, decode, and understand the alien message.

Tanis – Tanis is a bi-weekly podcast from the creators of Pacific Northwest Stories, and is hosted by Nic Silver. Tanis is a serialized docudrama about a fascinating and surprising mystery: the myth of Tanis.  – Tanis is an exploration of the nature of truth, conspiracy, and information.  – Tanis is what happens when the lines of science and fiction start to blur…

Do you have a favorite podcast?  Share with me!





1. a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom:

I know I haven’t been blogging much lately.  I’ve just been feeling “blah’.  No real motivation to do much of anything…..

I’m trying to get back into the swing of things…. blogging and baking, knitting and photography…… yoga, travel and crafting…. and… well…. life.
So here we go……

The time that we were given


Where to begin?  How to begin?  There are not even words to measure… to explain… and yet I feel compelled… in my own words… in my own way to honor and say goodbye.

On September 1st my Mother and Father-in-Law were involved in a car crash that took them from us.

There are not words to encompass the heartbreak and horror.  To lose them both…. to lose all the possibilities and promise that we had before us.

They were my In-Laws…. and I adored them…. and they made me crazy…. and they got on my nerves… and I loved them…. They were my husband’s parents…. and I cannot thank them enough for raising the man of my dreams.  I don’t know if I ever told them. I thought we had time.

I cannot tell them in words… not in this life, but I can honor them.  I can love the son they raised, my husband.  I can love their daughter, my Sister-in-Law.  I can remember to never let a day go by without being thankful…. or an opportunity to pass without exploration…. or let an “I love you” or “thank you” go unsaid.

They were in my life for such a short time, but they will live in my heart forever.  And I am ever so thankful for the time that we were given.

– S