June 9, 2023

And in the Real World Season 2 Episode 6 with Debbie


Vegas… just the name evokes certain thoughts. Some think of gambling and brothels when they think of Sin City; others think of sports like boxing or the bright lights of the city. I’ve read books, watched boxing matches on tv at the MGM, and seen the photos of friends who have visited Vegas but I’ve never made the trek myself… until this summer.


We only had a short trip planned so we crammed as much into it as we could, from the typical to the downright odd. We saw the Tournament of Kings show, toured the strip, saw the Hoover Dam, stopped along Route 66, and then saw my bucket list item: the Grand Canyon.  Everyone told us the heat would overwhelm us but honestly the heat back here in Florida right now is far, far worse. My main gripe with Vegas is the smoke in the casinos as I just can’t breathe then. And yep, I paid for my visit to the beautiful city as I’m dealing with a summer cold and “airplane ear” (I always get a cold after too much exposure to cigarette smoke).

My return home to hot, humid Florida has me trying to rescue certain plants in my garden that are not handling it well. I may lose a couple plants a bit early this year.  But was it worth it? Oh yes, I’m already planning another trip to Vegas- but this one with a lot more time at the Grand Canyon and far more day trips to see the surrounding beauty! It’s so different from Florida, all that dirt and reds, as I’m used to the green all around me in Florida. I have tons to share, both pictures and memories, but for now I’m going to curl up with a good book and get well while reliving the fun we had in Vegas!

And in the Real World Season 2 Episode 5 with Debbie

The best part of gardening… when you start to see the things you’ve planted start to actually grow and you know eating time is near! This year we’ve got several different peppers and tomatoes, already starting to show their pretty faces. The early girl tomato, affectionately known as the late girl here since it’s been the last tomato to finally show any tomatoes, finally has a juicy one growing:


Meanwhile, our old standby, the heat resistant tomato plant, has so many growing that I believe we’ll be making more than just salsa this year! Can’t wait to try some other recipes, like our own spaghetti sauce perhaps….


And oh, the peppers… we’ve got jalapeno peppers growing like crazy and then one lone banana pepper (really hoping we get more than one banana pepper out of that plant!).


Next week, I’ll show some of the progress we’ve had with the blueberries and the Florida Everglades tomatoes we’ve tried out this year. Every day with the garden is like an adventure, as I notice something new. God really creates miracles with his plant kingdom and gardening reminds me of just how awesome He is!

Meanwhile,  just thinking about all of this puts me in the mood for some good, cozy mysteries! I’ve found a couple new to me authors who write about gardening, spices, and even one about an organic farm that just fit my mood perfectly during gardening season. With COYER about to start, perhaps I’ll find some more authors to give a try!

And in the Real World Season 2 Episode 4 with Debbie


So all my talk about gardening and there’s one thing I haven’t mentioned- it’s all in my backyard, while the front yard has been a sad mess. Why, you ask? Well, we have a helpful neighbor, a nice elderly man who will rake our leaves from our 2 huge oak trees in the front yard. He’ll pick up twigs and generally keep things kept up just because he enjoys getting the exercise. Unfortunately, we have a big disagreement with him on the issue of grass. He’s a fan of the St. Augustine grass, whereas we just want anything green at all in the front yard! Unfortunately, this means that in the guise of helpfulness, he pulled up all the other grass we had in several sections leaving us with dirt. I’m now happy to report that we’ve had a couple other plants that seem to be thriving so perhaps we can go a different route.


Hopefully, like my caladiums that are gradually growing in number in the front yard, I can gradually increase these other pretty plants and eventually have a pretty front yard again. If the two pictured plants survive till next year, then I’m going to be loading up the yard with them, just like I’ve been increasing the number of caladiums in the front yard.

As for my gardens in the backyard, I’ll have to get pictures for next week as I’ve got peppers and tomatoes growing! So excited! Also learned that plants can get sunburned as I have two wee plants, a pepper and a tomato plant, that are turning this odd white color that googling indicates is a sunburn. Who knew??

And in the Real World Season 2 Episode 3 with Debbie

Gardening has begun and once we started, we couldn’t hold to our determination to stick to what worked for us last year. We’ve now added two new trees to the backyard, a guava tree and a banana tree.


I’m excited, particularly watching the banana plant as she shoots those leaves up in the air and then flaps them out quite dramatically. Each day is a new pose and it’s beautiful to watch her grow (and yes, my banana plant is a female. My garden, my rules!).


The guava tree is growing taller, bit by bit, but far less dramatically. I’m looking forward to seeing what the guava looks like as more days pass.

Meanwhile, our lemon tree from last year continues to flourish. I’m also experimenting with my usual tomatoes but also some Florida Everglades tomatoes that supposedly are perennial. So far, my peppers are flowering but only a few actual peppers growing. However, it’s early still as last year we were producing food till well into the summer months!

And in the Real World Season 2 Episode 2 with Debbie

And so the gardening season has begun….

This year, we are sticking to the things we know worked for us last year (well, except for the blueberry bush we decided to try!). So far, I’ve got a few tomatoes and peppers growing while our lemon tree is starting to bud once again. I’m excited! Working in the garden and digging up that fresh soil just makes me feel so much more connected to the earth.  And even better, it’s good exercise for my #FITREADERS challenge!

We definitely ruled out trying cucumbers again this year. Last year, not only did we not have a single one actually grow, but they attracted a whole host of nasty little critters. The final straw for me was the multitude of spiders *shudders*

Temps are pretty high here in Florida, hotter than the norm. It actually feels more like summer than spring. On the positive side, that means plenty of rain showers and that means less watering of the garden for me (and my husband!).

Oddly, gardening also draws me towards reading different books than I read the other times of the year. I’m mainly an urban fantasy reader but I find myself reading more cozy mysteries and books with a nature theme once the gardening bug hits me. Do you find yourself changing your reading habits at different times?

#FIT Readers Weekly Check-in April 11- Debbie

I haven’t checked in for a while because I’ve been at what feels like a complete standstill as I can’t do a whole lot of exercise. I haven’t wanted to post as I don’t want to sound whiny but since I’m now at the stage where I’m moving forward, here’s what is going on:

I’ve had to be careful about my knee since I was 21 (pedestrian meets car, knee one of the unhappy victims of that collision). In the last year or two, however, it had started to swell and then ache just a bit- more frequently than I would like. I would treat it my usual way and even got some meds from the doctor when that stopped working. Unfortunately, now it just won’t stop hurting- and yep, you guessed it! Arthritis has officially kicked in! So… I’m researching natural alternatives (arnica cream is THE best!) and taking a glucosamine supplement. The doctor’s orders? Don’t bend, squat, lift, twist, turn, or expose it to cold or wet weather. Um….

I’ve rested and rested but now it’s gardening season and you know what? I’m readyto move just a bit no matter what. So in the meantime, I’ve tried to watch my caloric intake quite a bit and last week I tried walking and then gardening.  My knee didn’t seem any worse than it has been so today I will do round two of my gardening that requires squatting, bending, etc and I’m just going to start taking it slowly from here. Wish me luck!

I’ll continue to check in periodically with how I’m doing. Keep up with Kelley and I here at CK2S Kwips and Kritiques all year long as we both work towards a happier healthier lifestyle!

And in the Real World Season 2 Episode 1 with Debbie

Last week was Spring Break and so we made our trip to SC to see my parents and visit the lovely Myrtle Beach. Ah, there is nothing more relaxing than watching the sun rise over the ocean, listening to the soothing sound of the waves, and of course kicking back with your favorite books! Of course my Kindle was fully loaded and ready to go (the first thing I packed, of course!). The week started off a bit on the cool side but that also meant we had it more to ourselves. As the temperature heated up, the Spring Breakers started pouring in. After all, who doesn’t love the beach, especially after a cold winter (okay, well not so cold if you live in Florida but… you get the point!)?


This year we decided to get adventurous. After all, you only live once, right? So….I took my first helicopter ride!


It was exhilarating and I can’t wait to do it again! Perhaps when we go to Las Vegas….

Anyway, the days flew by far too quickly as time at the beach definitely goes faster than time at work (for some odd reason!).  In the meantime, I’ll continue to look at the pictures and remember the peace and calming of the ocean. Life has been a bit challenging lately and so the trip was more than worth it!

#FIT Readers Weekly Check-in February 7- Debbie

The last couple weeks have been challenging as I’ve had some slight physical ailments that have me on a reduced exercise regime. However, today I should be back into the full swing of things again. Regardless, the key thing is that I have persevered so far this year in the year long challenge to better health hosted by The Geeky Blogger and That’s What I’m Talking About. ! I despise exercise and no, it’s not a matter of finding the “right” exercise for me to enjoy. I’d seriously rather be sitting on my butt reading my Kindle than exercising so just for me to keep going at it is a great accomplishment!

I have found one thing to help ease the mental pain of exercising a bit. I’m continuing to use my wonderful new bluetooth speaker my husband got me for Christmas along with my Kindle Fire to listen to my audio books. I’m not as thrilled about my current read- it’s a zombie book, of course (I listen to lots of zombie books!) but it does help encourage me to actually move my rear end to even start the exercise. I’m using a combo of workout videos, mainly boxing, pilates, and yoga.

And seriously… check your calories! ARGH! I checked on my favorite sandwich at Panera and I’d be better off eating a little burger at 5 Guys! Yes, more things I’ll have to keep an eye on as my job often has me on the road and packing a lunch just isn’t an option many times.

I’ll continue to check in periodically with how I’m doing. Keep up with Kelley and I here at CK2S Kwips and Kritiques all year long as we both work towards a happier healthier lifestyle!

And in the Real World Season 2015 Episode 1 with Kelley

I was absolutely horrible about these posts last year. So we’ll see how it goes this year. I’m actually going to link my Fit Readers posts to this page as well so at least if I’m bad about life updates on random topics, since fitness is related to my non-book life, they will feed to this page as well.

Life as an animal rescue foster home…

Clipped from my Christmas letter. Clockwise from top left… Amun and I, Jasper and Ace, Aker and Amun, George, Sheba, Cleo, Nala. This was before I had Ralph and Sapphire.

Those of you who saw any of my “And in the Real World” posts last year may remember I got involved in animal rescue. I took a break for a while after my foster failure Cleo who I adopted in February 2014, since I was in an apartment with limited space. After I bought my house last summer, I was able to start fostering again.

My first foster was George, a 12-year-old full blood Maine Coon who had been dumped by his family, along with his canine friend about the same age, when the family decided to get a puppy! Shortly hereafter, George was hit by a car (we believe anyhow, based on his injuries that the vet said were consistent with a run in with a car). He came to stay with me for his recovery from surgery where he had half one of of his hips removed. After a surprisingly speedy recovery and three months with me, George went to his new forever home in December, where his new mom fell in love at first sight. What a wonderful ending to such a sad beginning.

In November, I took in two kittens from a local shelter who were rescued with literally two hours to spare. I got them at 4:00 and they were due to be euthanized at 6:00. While both of these kids were adorable and sweet (most of the time), I had to return them to their rescue this week. Ace, the male, was picking major fights with my cats and other fosters, and being a bully. I suspect this was because even at about 8 months of age, he was a tiny little thing and that was the only way he had to feel strong. I couldn’t risk the safety of the other kids here so sadly I had to give him up. I had a horrible experience with that rescue group when I told them I had to do this, as if it wasn’t hard enough already to give up a cat who had come to believe he was home and who in spite of his fighting, I loved dearly. This was absolutely devastating to me and it still upsets me every time I think about the fact I had to give him up. Nala, the female, was a feral cat who after three months with me, still flinched every time I tried to touch her, unless I gave her a lot of time sitting and waiting for her to come to me. She also would not come out of her little safe area of two rooms. She was a total sweetheart on the days she would allow me to get close, a total chatterbox who never stopped purring. I think though, with as many other kids as I have here, it’s just too much activity for her and I can’t commit the time she needs to overcome that. So she went to a new foster home Jan 25. I was heartbroken over both of these cases, which in turn taught me a valuable lesson. I’m not going to be able to help every cat I take in, no matter how hard I try. Some are going to come to me so damaged by what their life was like before, or with underlying issues that I’m just not going to be able handle.

Those are two opposite experiences of my recent rescue life. I have also had three other fosters since I started again in August 2014. Jasper came to live with me the day George got adopted and he’s still here, and remarkably recovered just in the past 24 hours since I gave up Ace. Poor Jasper took the brunt of Ace’s bullying and he was the real reason I knew I couldn’t keep Ace. I couldn’t risk the lasting impact it could have on another. Seeing him almost back to normal mere hours after Ace left convinced me I made the right choice.

Then there was Ralph, a gorgeous long haired flame point boy who was the first foster I took in specifically because I was already in love with him. He came to live with me just a few days before Christmas. He was only here for a month before he found his forever home. He flew home to California just this past week. Now I have Sapphire, a beautiful blue, with me, who came home the day Ralph left to get ready to meet his new family. She’s a gorgeous little spitfire, who does not know the meaning of “calm” except when she’s asleep. I’m supposed to get at least one more some time this week as well.

I have found a new passion as an animal rescue advocate and foster/volunteer so don’t be surprised to see future And in the Real World posts about my life with the cats I am trying to save.

#FitReaders Weekly Check In Week 4 – January 25 – Kelley

I missed last week obviously, but I didn’t want to miss another week without a check-in. I have completed the first four weeks in the year long challenge to better health hosted by The Geeky Blogger and That’s What I’m Talking About.

Goal refresher:

1. Be ready to run my first half marathon in April. I did change the plan I am using to one that is 4 days of running and one of cross training, with two rest days.

2. Lose at least 45 lbs over the year.

I had my first 10K in several years on January 17. I finished the race in about 4 minute UNDER my goal which was great! I also only walked maybe about 5 minutes total of the entire race. That officially ended my Couch to 10K program.

The final week of my 10K program and the first week of my half marathon training were the same week but it all worked out. I’ve still only been managing 3 running days with my schedule, but I did get my cross training day in and hit the total number of miles expected for week 1. Week 2 was off to a great start until a few days ago when I injured myself. I strained the tendon in my left knee, which brought by training to a screeching halt for at least a week. I have another 10K on February 1 which I may end up walking. After I finish the race, I’ll decide if I need another full week off like the doctor suggested or if I feel like I can start training again without risk of further injury.

There likely won’t be an update next week since I can’t exercise, but I’ll plan to post after my upcoming race!

Keep up with Debbie and I here at CK2S Kwips and Kritiques all year long as we both work towards a happier healthier lifestyle.