State of the Kara Address

Well, it looks like I only posted here once in 2014, hopefully 2015 will be better for keeping things up to date.

So what did I do all year?

Well, I built a website for my mom. And launched a fundraising campaign to help pay for her care, because having chronic and terminal illnesses is expensive. With everyone’s kind and generous donations we’ve raised $2305 (I’ve got a $50 bill in my wallet I need to deposit).

I’ve started dabbling with photography again. I took photos for the HackMemphis pre-party, as well as the actual event. I climbed more stairs than I want to think about while taking pictures at TechCamp, and got a few shots at the Memphis Technology Foundation holiday party.

I loaned my voice out to MTF, and recorded their commercial which has been airing during the Nerds Drinking Podcast.

Along those more technology related lines, I’ve been exploring some avenues of continuing my education without having to go back to school. If you know me from way back, you probably know I’ve always had an interest in design and that’s something I’m hoping to explore further in 2015.

I spent a lot of time at the gym in 2014 working towards the goal of a healthier me. To date, I’ve lost 70 pounds. At the end of 2014, I switched gyms for convenience and better amenities. I’ve started swimming at the gym a few times a week and love it! My overall health has was pretty good this past year, aside from ending it with a sinus infection. I do seem to have a problem with my body creating more white blood cells than I need, but I’m working with a hematologist to figure out what’s going on with the renegade cells.

In July my BFF  gave birth to her first child. I’ve spent a lot of time at her house since then getting to know this amazing little human as she grows and develops.

August was… interesting. I was in a car accident that did quite a bit of damage to my car and initiated the Epic Battle of Car Insurance (if you follow me on FB or twitter you probably know all about it) with the other driver’s insurance. I also spent several wonderful days in Biloxi with my husband, that included a side trip to New Orleans. I dream about beignets now, ya’ll!

Then, in September we celebrated my Papaw’s 80th birthday!

I finished out 2014 by switching to a new budgeting system that has completely changed how I think about money. And, as someone with substantial student loan debt, I think about money a lot. I’m a convert, and cannot recommend You Need A Budget enough. I’m a person that works well with a system. Give me a method, rules, guidelines, lists, etc and I’m golden. YNAB, appeals to the uber-organized methodical part of my personality.

And hopefully YNAB will help me pay off the debt we accrued by having two major appliances call it quits in the last two months of the year. At least I have a new washer and dryer?

2014 wasn’t so bad, and I think 2015 will be even better.

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Update: Still Here

I obviously haven’t been very good at writing here in awhile. Things have happened and it seems like to much to just try and sum it all up in a few paragraphs. I mentioned in one of my lasts posts that my mom was being put on the lung transplant list. As it turns out that’s not quite how it works. In February she went up to Vanderbilt to be evaluated by the transplant team there. They won’t even consider her for a transplant until she’s on full-time oxygen, which she’s no using at all right now. She has Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, and it’s basically a death sentence.


You can watch a short documentary about the disease here.


I commented to a friend awhile back that handling my mother’s health problems is sort of like grieving something that hasn’t happened yet. And you know what, that’s actually a thing. It’s called anticipatory grief. Because waiting on the inevitable shitty thing that you know is going to happen, sucks.

It’s like watching a bad 80s horror film: you know the skinny blonde is going to fall down and then die is some horrible way, and… there’s nothing you can do about it.

Your life span after an IPF diagnosis is typically 3-5 years, and mom is a year in. I’m currently working towards starting a fundraiser to help pay for her medical care.


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Symptoms Of Weight Loss With A Side Of TMI

If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to the past few months, I’ll gladly tell you. Aside from internalizing my anger, sadness, and frustration over my mother’s illness, I’ve been trying to be a healthier person, mentally and physically.

What does that mean, exactly? For me it means working out five or six days a week, and meticulously logging everything I eat. While I try not to deny myself anything (because that never works for me) I try and stay within specific ranges for calories and fat. I also pay close attention to my carb intake.

In addition to all of that, I’m taking metformin for an off label use. My doctor has been using it with some of his patients to assist with weight loss and has had very good results. I’ve been taking it for about two months, which is why I watch my carbs. And drastically limit my alcohol in take. I know you can’t see me, but I’m making a sad face. A very sad face.

Despite my size, chub rub has never really been an issue for me. I have super crazy dry skin, so I moisturize like a mad woman. Think Cassandra from Dr. Who… MOISTURIZE ME! Yeah. But, for the last week or so I’ve had some ridiculous chafing in the groin area. I’m trying not to get too graphic here and embarrass anyone, so we’re just going to go with that. Anyway, so I had the chafing, and it sucked. AND, I couldn’t figure out why all of the sudden this was a thing.

But then I had one of those complete AH-HA moments and it suddenly hit me. As of this week, I’ve lost a little over 30 pounds. I had to buy all new pants so I wouldn’t be at risk of flashing my coworkers. And you know what I didn’t replace? What it hadn’t occurred to me was also now too big? My underwear. Yup.

So, if you’re currently on your own weight loss journey, don’t forget to downsize your underwear, folks. You’ll thank me. Actually, don’t think about me while you’re buying underwear, because that’s just awkward.

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The Way Of Things

A couple of nights ago I had a dream I was writing my mother’s eulogy. There was no way in HELL I was going to let some guy who had never even met my mother stand up there and tell us how we were supposed to feel about her. I woke up at 3 am with strands of my mother’s eulogy still playing in my head.

This wasn’t one of those weird “ate Chinese food too late at night and now I’m dreaming about being eaten by zombies” dreams. This was an anxiety dream. Because, my mom is dying. And not in the same way we’re all dying every day. Dying, dying. As in, her doctors have stamped her with an expiration date, dying.

And, I was okay with that, I guess. You know, as much as you can be okay with a horrible thing you have no control over. Because, it wasn’t soon, like tomorrow. They were talking in years, not weeks or months.

My dad called last night to tell me they’re putting her on the lung transplant list. And I lost it a little bit. It’s one thing to talk about bad lungs, and dying, and transplants as ideas, future things, hypothetical situations… But the actual things, the realities, are… well, indescribable for me right now.

I lost someone a few years ago who meant a great deal to me. I never got to say goodbye, and I carry that with me. We get so caught up in “life happening” that we take it for granted. And the truth of it is we never know how much time we’ll have with the  people we love.

Tell the people in your life what they mean to you now, you might not get a tomorrow.

And please, sign up to be a organ donor. Save a life.

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15 on the 15th

Hello all, I’m not dead! Just busy taking care of things that I’ve gotten behind on. Regular posts will be coming soon!


Check out 15 on the 15th: fifteen curious things found on the web in the past month.

I’ve always been interested in what blog other people read, so I’m going to pick 15 interesting things that showed up on my feed the past month and share them with you. I read a lot of different blogs, so it’ll probably be pretty eclectic. Enjoy!

1. Eating Vegetarian? 7 Cooking Blogs to Check Out Right Now, The Kitchn

2. Adding Bra Strap Carriers to your dresses and tops, Dixie DIY

3. Depression Part Two, Hyperbole and a Half

4. The World’s Most Ironic Mother’s Day Card, Epbot

5. “Is This What Respect Feels Like?” A Real Wonder Woman Speaks Out, Epbot

6. How-To: Brew Sake, MAKE

7. 25 Most Dangerous Craigslist Adjectives Exposed, Projectophile

8. The Doctor Who post I can never write, The Bloggess

9. Make Easy Porch Lights, Dollar Store Crafts

10. How to Ride a Werewolf, Finishing School Books (looks like this is an offshoot of Gail Carriger’s books)

11. International Politics, Courtesy of Matt,

12. Free pattern: Favorite Tee Dress revamped, icandy handmade

13. Roasted Pecan Broccoli, Slim Palate

14. Master Closet Baskets, diy Design Fanatic

15. Sockupied Summer 2013 Preview, Knitting Daily

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April In Review

On January 1, I posted a list of goals I wanted to accomplish this year. Here’s how I’m faring so far…

  • a real vacation with my husband (even if it’s just a long weekend–it’s been FIVE years!) Nothing. Seems like it’s going to be another year where our money goes to other things.
  • better health Still no fastfood! It’s been 62 days including today.
  • pay off a significant chunk of debt Moving forward, and still on schedule.
  • devote more time to getting my work out there No change from last month. I have sucked at this lately. But, I have several pieces that I need to follow up on at least.
  • at least five publication credits this year Three!
  •  read all the books… or what I’ve read this month: An Ice Cold Grave by Charlain Harris, Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan, A Vision of Murder by Victoria Laurie, Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal, Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi  

Best pick this month?  Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal

Currently reading? The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld, People Who eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry & The Glycemic Index Diet for Dummies by Meri Raffetto

  • start remodeling the house (at least two rooms complete) Not much movement in April. Someone hasn’t finished patching the wall yet. I have made some improvements to our overgrown flowerbed in the front yard though. Thinking about painting the front door this weekend to keep my momentum going.
  • knit lots of awesome things Finally semi finished something. I completed the knitting on a wrist cuff. I need to wind the ends in, and sew on some buttons. I’m thinking about trying my hand at a sweater. But, I still having my first pair of socks to finish.
  • get the etsy resale shop off the ground Not much going on. I’ve fired some more glass pieces and need to get them cleaned up and bails on them.
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Have You Read: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

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From GoodReads: “August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.”

MEDIUM: bought the ebook

10 Points:

1. I don’t usually comment about cover art, but I love the cover art for Wonder.

2. About a week before I read Wonder I heard a radio interview with the author where she explained she did a lot of research prior to writing the book, and Auggie’s condition is based loosely on Treacher Collins Syndrome.

3. Wonder is a quick read. The hardback is 315 pages, and I read the ebook so the page count was probably a bit higher. Wonder is engaging; you get pulled right in. I read in three nights.

4. I found myself wanting to feel bad for Auggie, but you really can’t. That kid has spunk. We can learn a lot from people who have his outlook on life.

5. I would classify Wonder as middle grade, but it is well written and will appeal to readers of any age.

6. Be prepared to cry. A lot.

7. One of the things I liked about this book was Auggie struggled with the same things any kid that age struggles with. Maybe for different reasons. Every kid that age as encountered a bully of just a generally mean kid. Every kid that age has had problems with friends.

8. Auggie’s disposition–his sense of humor, his kindheartedness–attracts people to him. In the book Swan Song, there was this idea of what you look like, versus what your “true self” looks like. I think Auggie’s friends and family see him for his true self.

9. Did I mention you’ll probably want to have a box of tissue handy?

10. Wonder is one of those books that while fictional, is so plausible and real that you feel it in the words. It shows you the best and the worst of people.

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15 on the 15th

Check out 15 on the 15th: fifteen curious things found on the web in the past month.

I’ve always been interested in what blogs other people read, so I’m going to pick 15 interesting things that showed up on my feed the past month and share them with you. I read a lot of different blogs, so it’ll probably be pretty eclectic. Enjoy!

1. When the city says they’d like to showcase some of the local culture and invites us, Running a Hackerspace

2. DIY J.Crew-Inspired Necklace, owlswakeup

3. Tutorial: Paper Flower Push Pins, Dollar Store Crafts

4. Review: Needles and Artifice, Plus Sample Project, All She Wants To Do Is Knit (Ok, so this is actually a post from January, but I didn’t read it until April. And this book looks awesome!)

5. Photo Gallery: the Brooks Musuem’s Spring Break Chalk Art Fest, I Love Memphis

6. Advice to my young self on my one-year-Con-niversary, Starts with A Bang    For those not in the know, I was the head of programming for MidSouthCon 30. Ethan was a fantastic guest, and we were thrilled to have him!

7. The Best New Fonts (VOL. 3), Smart School House

8. Strawberry Lemonade Slushie, Blissful and Domestic

9. Plus Size Shopping: Before, During, and After You Shop- A Roundup, The Curvy Fashonista

10. Full Skirts with Trimmed Tulle peeking out, Make It & Love It This might be a kid’s skirt, but I would totally make this in my size and wear it!

11. 5 Difficulties New Sewing Machine Users Commonly Encounter, While She Naps

12. Cadence KAL: Finishing your Knit!, KristenMakes   Great tips for knitters!

13. April Fools: My History of Failed Jokes, After Plumcake


15. Vengeance is a dish best served with inflatable horns, The Bloggess


P.S. Since Google Reader is being shut down soon, I’ve migrated over to TheOldReader.  They’re having some growing pains, but they’re awesome

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Have You Read: One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

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From GoodReads: “One Fine Mess
Welcome to Trenton, New Jersey, home to wiseguys, average Joes, and Stephanie Plum, who sports a big attitude and even bigger money problems (since losing her job as a lingerie buyer for a department store). Stephanie needs cash – fast – but times are tough, and soon she’s forced to turn to the last resort of the truly desperate: family…

One False Move
Stephanie lands a gig at her sleazy cousin Vinnie’s bail bonding company. She’s got no experience. But that doesn’t matter. As does the fact that the bail jumper in question is local vice cop Joe Morelli. From the time he first looked up her dress to the time he first got into her pants, to the time Steph hit him with her father’s Buick, M-o-r-e-l-l-i has spelled t-r-o-u-b-l-e. And now the hot guy is in hot water-wanted for murder…

One for the Money
Abject poverty is a great motivator for learning new skills, but being trained in the school of hard knocks by people like psycho prizefighter Benito Ramirez isn’t. Still, if Stephanie can nab Morelli in a week, she’ll make a cool ten grand. All she has to do is become an expert bounty hunter overnight – and keep herself from getting killed before she gets her man…”

MEDIUM: purchased the audiobook

10 points:

1. I really wasn’t expecting to like this book, so I was pleasantly surprised.

2. Janet Evanovich is someone I associate with romance novels, which are not really my cup of tea. This book to me was less romance, more mystery/adventure.

3. Stephanie Plum is a great character. She’s realistic, flawed. Desperate.

4. The history between Stephanie and Morelli was great! I laughed my ass off when she hit him with the car.

5. I didn’t really connect with Morelli the way I thought I would. Obviously, Stephanie likes him, so I wanted to like him. But, he is really an ass. She probably should have just run over him again.

6. That being said, Morelli is not the bad guy in this story. Ramirez is the worst of the worst. He is the perfect villain, complete with his own greedy henchman.

7. One character I would have loved to see more of is Ranger. Of course getting shot can sideline someone.

8. In fact, I think Stephanie should ditch Morelli for Ranger. That would be good.

9. I loved the scenes with Morelli’s mom, and with Stephanie’s family. It’s nice to feel like you are not the only one with crazy relatives. But seriously, what’s up with the duck?

10. I still stand by Stephanie being a great character. I hope she develops in a way that she sees she can save herself and doesn’t need a man to do it for her. I hope her gun training is an indication of character development along those lines.

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March in Review

On January 1, I posted a list of goals I wanted to accomplish this year. Here’s how I’m faring so far…

  • a real vacation with my husband (even if it’s just a long weekend–it’s been FIVE years!) Nothing. I did stay in the hotel for MidSouthCon, but the husband couldn’t go this year.
  • better health No fast food in March!
  • pay off a significant chunk of debt Still plowing forward! Of course, having to take a cat to the vet unexpectedly didn’t help. She’s fine… just weird.
  • devote more time to getting my work out there I have sucked at this lately. But, I have several pieces that I need to follow up on at least.
  • at least five publication credits this year Three!
  •  read all the books… or what I’ve read this month: One for the Money by Janet Evanovich, John  Dies at the End by David Wong, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, World War Z by Max Brooks Best pick this month?  Wonder by R.J. Palacio Currently reading? Jenny Pox by L.J. Bryan, An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris, & Mortuary Confidential by Todd Harra
  • start remodeling the house (at least two rooms complete) Ok, so my husband and a friend of ours reran quite a bit of cat5 cable in our house. Did I mention we switched offices? We did. The cat5 had to be rerun before the hole in the wall could be patched. The hole in the wall is now patched. Which means I can finally paint in my office. I need to do the closet, all the doors, and trim as well. Which means I really need to make a final decision about the color.


  • knit lots of awesome things Yeah… I suck. I haven’t touched any of my knitting this month.


  • get the etsy resale shop off the ground So, I think I’ve picked Goodsmiths for my handmade stuff, and etsy for the vintage resale and upcycled stuff. I wore some of my fused glass pendants at MidSouthCon and got several compliments, and gave out a few “coming soon” cards.
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