April 2009 Archives

Swine Flu: Media Hype or Real Threat?

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The media sure has been good about getting the word out about the swine flu.  Over the last few days I didn't quite get it.  I mean, it's the flu.  People get the flu, and the very old and very young sometimes die from it.  I wasn't sure why everyone was getting so upset and frantic. "Someone in our area might have the flu! OMG!" I went to the doctor today as a follow-up for what happened to me earlier this month, and at the front desk there was a box of masks. And a sign that said, "If you have flu symptoms, please wear a mask."

Tonight I did a little research. I listened to the news, spoke with my sister, and read some articles. I think I have a slightly better understanding now. I just read an article about the first person to die from the virus. She was 39 years old. I presume since she was young, and the article didn't mention she was weak or unhealthy, that she was not in the demographic where death typically results from a case of the flu. The doctors did not recognize the symptoms. She was gasping for air, and her feet and hands were blue. That doesn't sound like the "normal" flu I know.

My sister mentioned that some of the concern is the fact that it mutated enough from pigs so that it could be passed to humans. The concern is it could mutate again and become much much worse. Or, it might be fine. Some people might get the flu, be sick for a few days, and get better. But, I guess there's a real fear that it could be much worse than that.  The one thing I read/heard that made me feel a little better: the cases in the US seem to be much less severe than the ones in Mexico.

I'm still not entirely sure whether to panic or not. One thing is for sure: I'm not going to Mexico any time soon. And, I'm not getting on an airplane. Also, washing my hands a lot. You know, just in case. I do not want to get sick again after what I went through in March and April.

So what do you think? Which camp are you in?  How concerned are you?

Do Something Nice

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I would like to ask you for a small favor.  I would like anyone who reads this to please do something nice for someone else. 

This has been a particularly bad month for me, and for many I care about.  April 1st marked the very beginning of a nearly month long journey I would have with a reaction to a medication.  The wife of a friend of mine is pregnant with twins and at 27 weeks she was just admitted to the hospital for the duration of her pregnancy.  Things don't look very good.  My parents are coming to the end of a very difficult 2 years and starting on a new and scary journey they didn't choose to take. 

Tonight my boyfriend and I picked up a card, some of my friends favorite candies, and some chai tea while we were at the store.  It's not much, but I think the small gesture will mean a lot to my friend and his wife.  I know that I really appreciated every small gesture that was done for me while I was sick.  Text messages, facebook messages, flowers, short visits, gift bags. 

So if you would join me, I'd like us all to play the Pay It Forward game.  I can (almost) guarantee that you will feel better afterward.  It doesn't have to be anything big.  I'll even post a few suggestions...

12 ways to pay it forward

  • write a letter or send a card through snail mail (aka US Postal Service)
  • pick up a small gift for a friend, maybe their favorite candy or book you think they'd like
  • bake something for others to enjoy
  • make a special dinner for someone
  • pick up a cup of coffee and surprise your favorite coffee drinker with a cup of their favorite coffee
  • tell a co-worker you really appreciate their hard work
  • mow an elderly or sick neighbor's lawn
  • donate a small amount to your charity of choice
  • bring donuts or bagels for people in the office
  • do a chore your significant other usually does
  • treat someone to lunch
  • offer to babysit for a couple you know with young children so they can enjoy a night out

Of course those are just a tiny handful of ideas of random acts of kindness you could do.  Please, brighten someone else's day, feel good about yourself for doing something nice for someone, and come back here and comment on what you did.  Thanks in advance!

"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." -- Sir Winston Churchill

Squirrels in the garden

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Some cute squirrel pictures, and some tips for keeping them out of your garden.

Squirrel Pictures

I took the picture below at my parent's lake-house.  There are a lot of squirrels there and they drive my parents crazy.  They are always digging holes in flower beds and a lot of times digging up the flowers themselves.  I have a lot of squirrels at my house too, but for some reason haven't really had a problem with them in terms of my garden (knock on wood).  Although, I do believe there a couple of large holes in the ground courtesy of these small visitors.


I thought it was kind of cute how he/she had the two peanuts lined up like that in his/her mouth.

Yesterday I saw something even cuter. A squirrel with a peanut kabob!  I came across it on Apartment Therapy.  The article that the picture was posted in is, Squirrel and Neighbor Dilemma.


Squirrel Repellents

I found a few ideas online of how to keep squirrels from ruining your garden.

  1. Add a squirrel feeder to one corner of your yard. -- I suppose this will keep them from eating your vegetables and digging up flowers but I'd be afraid it would attract even more squirrels.
  2. Cayanne pepper. Sprinkle it on plants, bulbs or other areas you are trying to keep the squirrels away from. -- I'm not sure how often you'd have to do this, but it sounds like you'd have to keep doing it too frequently to be worthwhile.
  3. Commercial squirrel repellents. -- I am not sure how affective these are, but my guess is they may not be worth the money.

Unfortunately I'm not sure there's really much you can do if you've got a problem with squirrels in your garden. Please leave a comment if you've had a problem and successfully dealt with it! I'd love to know.

Being Single Sucks

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I think being single sucks. 

No, I'm not currently single, but I spent a large portion of my twenties single.  I was, and still am, shy and introverted, and was also very picky about who I would date.  For the most part, unless I saw real potential and felt like the relationship could really go somewhere right from the start, I wouldn't even give it a chance.  In retrospect I probably would have put forth more of an effort to be sociable and find a significant other.  And I probably would have given more people a chance.  I guess even though I was fairly unhappy being single, I didn't do a whole heck of a lot to change it.  I didn't want to feel like I was settling for someone.  I didn't want to date someone, just for the sake of dating someone.

When I was single I would always complain about how much it sucked.  It sucked going to weddings alone.  It sucked not having someone to help or give me a ride if I had to take my car in.  I always hated asking friends for help. It sucked not having the frequent physical contact of a hug or a kiss from a significant other.  It sucked eating dinner alone most weeknights.

And now, I couldn't be happier not being single.  I absolutely adore my boyfriend, and I love having him around all the time. I have him to lean on for absolutely anything. He's my partner in all my home improvement and gardening projects, whatever. He introduces me to new things and teaches me to see things from a different perspective.  To be honest, if I were still single, I probably would not have bought a house. I would be too overwhelmed by the idea of having to do everything on my own. Of course my family and friends would be there and would help when they could, but it's not the same. At least for me it isn't.

Not wanting to be alone makes me feel weak. I feel bad that, in a way, I am dependent upon someone else for my happiness. Even though I do believe this feeling (of wanting/needing a partner) is part of humor nature, I still kick myself for not being strong enough to overcome it. I admire and look up to those who can overcome it. People like Dawn who, at least from my point of view, has good self-confidence, belief in herself, and is very happy and living a very full life as a strong single woman. No matter how much I tried to ignore what I was feeling, or how many times I told myself I could be perfectly happy without a significant other, deep down, it just wasn't true.  Sure I could get along fine on my own -- I had a very good job, some good friends, and a great family -- but I still always felt like something was missing.  And I'd never truly be happy without that missing piece.

So what do you think? Does being single suck or is it just me?

Thoughts on turning 30

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Today I have some more thoughts on turning 30 for you, brought to you by Mike at unpaidentertainer.com.  It's a little longer than my usual posts, but it's definitely one you will want to read through from beginning to the end.



Two months ago I crossed over into the realm of adulthood known as my 30's. My fourth decade on Earth is officially underway. As unnerved about this as I was in the past 12 months, I am now decidedly at ease with the fact that my youth is officially done with.

"Lines form on my face and hands
Lines form from the ups and downs
I'm in the middle without any plans
I'm a boy and I'm a man."

Although those lyrics are from the classic Alice Cooper song "I'm Eighteen" , they're actually more appropriate for the age of 30 then they are for someone just getting out of high school. The fact that this song was written in 1970 says a lot about the evolution of the growing up process.

I am a member of the tail end of what's been labeled as "Generation X ". We've been accurately dubbed "The Slacker Generation".

The rites of passage that were coveted by prior generations as gateways to manhood are not only an object of indifference to today's budding adult male, they are often shunned in their entirety. This intentionally condescending moniker was obviously coined by the Baby-Boomers to express their displeasure of this fact. But, not only do we largely not care what they think, we actually have embraced the paradigm and use it as an emblem of our prolonged youth.

"We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives."  -Tyler Durden

Two cycles ago they were known as "The Greatest Generation". Then came The Baby Boomers and now us - the MTV watching, video game playing, know no hardship slacker generation. This is clearly a sore subject with the older folks and their apparent resentment over the fact the we've had the luxury of taking our time growing up. In their days, when you turned 18 you either did one of two things: you got a job or your joined the Armed Services - and with either choice starting a family wasn't far off. A handful went to college - but that was somewhat of an irregularity and was usually an option reserved for people of above average intelligence - which is in obvious contrast to the standards of secondary education today.

I recently watched an episode on Oprah about decluttering your home, helped my parents declutter the basement, and just yesterday came across an interesting blog post entitled, 31 Days to Clean!  It has inspired me to write my own post with my personal tips for decluttering your home, and keeping it that way.

Getting rid of the clutter

1. Write a list

Write a list of all the things that need to be done. Clean out the closet. Organize kitchen cabinets. Tackle the junk drawer.

2. One [baby] step at a time

Don't take on too much at once. That's part of the point of #1 above. Tackle the things on the list one item at a time. Don't try to do everything at once. Even if you just set aside 15-20 minutes a day, you'll be surprised how much you can accomplish in that amount of time.

3. Organize into piles

As you are going through each area of the house, organize things into 3 separate piles. A "Keep" pile, a "Donate" pile, and a "Trash" pile.

4. Get a helper

This is important for 3 reasons. 1. It makes things go a little faster. 2. It's more fun that doing it alone. 3. I am a very sentimental person, and I know I find it very difficult to get rid of things. I think it's very helpful to have someone there helping you decide what to ditch and what to keep. I might be tempted to keep everything if I were doing it alone and that sort of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

5. Invest in organizational products

Things like bookshelves, folders, filing cabinets, shelves, hooks plastic bins. This will let you keep more in less space. It will also look a lot nicer. Oprah has an article on Eight Products to Keep Your Home Clutter-Free.

Funny Things Kids Say

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I know kids say hilarious things all the time.  I don't have any kids, and I am not around any all that often, so I am still shocked when I hear them say something totally off the wall.

My little 5 year old neighbor seems to love it when I go outside to do yard work. He always appears in my yard shortly after I go out. I love kids and he is very cute (and quite a little helper) so I don't mind when he comes over.

Here is a short conversation that took place between us this afternoon:

Him: Guess what I am doing today?
Me: I don't know. What are you doing today?
Him: My friend is coming over to sleep with me.
Me: What did you say?
Him [a little louder this time]: My friend is coming over to sleep with me.

I don't think the kid stopped talking for over an hour. Even when I was using the leaf-blower and couldn't hear a thing he was saying.

What have you heard a kid say recently that really cracked you up?

Chicken Dish For 2 In Under 30 Minutes

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The Boy recently made a really tasty chicken dish.  It was fast and easy and tasted great.  I thought I'd share the recipe and a picture of the outcome. 

Yes, The Boy made dinner with very minimal help from me.  He's become quite the chef lately! 

We based our recipe on the one posted on recipezaar.com.


2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 can chicken broth
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon butter


Pound chicken breasts. 
Lightly cover with flour, salt, and pepper. 
Fry in oil using electric skillet for 5 minutes on each side.
Remove chicken, set aside, and cover with foil.
Add broth and garlic to skillet.
Let simmer for 2 minutes.
Put chicken back in the skillet and pour sauce over chicken.

Side Dishes

Green beans. We just grabbed a bag of frozen beans and heated them up on the stove in 1/2 cup of water for a few minutes.

White Rice.1 cup of dry white rice, 2 cups water.  Makes 2 cups cooked.

Dinner time! (unfortunately I seem to really stink at taking food pics)

Related Posts:
Last Night's Dinner

Come On Eileen

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Sunday night driving home from my parents house, "Come On Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners came on the radio.  I rarely hear it, and when I do I get all excited for some reason.  I love to sing along to it.  There is one major problem with that, though.  I don't know the lyrics other than "come on eileen".  The second, and almost as major, problem with that is I sound awful when I sing.  But I guess that's besides the point at the moment.

So the song is on and I am attempting to sing along and announce to my boyfriend that I don't even know what they're saying in the rest of the chorus.  He said he didn't know either.  So I whipped out my phone and fired up google.  I was fully expecting to find some nice english lyrics that made perfect sense.  I did not find what I was expecting at all.  Here is what I found instead:

Come on Eileen too-loo rye-aye
Come on Eileen too-loo rye-aye
Toora toora-too-loora

So yeah, that's pretty much what I always mumble when I sing it.  I still have no idea what it means!  I didn't manage to find something that said "toora loora" often means "goodbye for now".  That kinda makes sense, I guess?

Also, I had no idea how dirty the song was.

Come on Eileen oh I swear (what he means)
Ah come on, let's take off everything
That pretty red dress Eileen (tell him yes)
Ah come on let's, Ah come on Eileen
That pretty red dress, Eileen (tell him yes)
Ah come on let's, ah come on Eileen

Mighty Girl

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I wanted to spotlight a blog that I have come across in recent months.  The site is called Mighty Girl, and it is written by a woman named Maggie Mason.  She is one of the participants in momversation.com, which is how I first happened upon her blog.

There are several reasons why I keep up with her blog and continue to go back.  1.  She is very funny.  2.  She often has very useful tips and ideas for the thirty-something crowd.  3.  She has a wonderful personality which shines through her written word on the page.  4.  She updates frequently.

I really enjoyed one of her recent posts about her husband's birthday titled, "40 GIFT IDEAS FOR YOUR 40-YEAR-OLD GUY".  Here she lists each of the 40 gifts she bought/made.  I can't imagine how time consuming it was.  It really stuck me how loving and thoughtful and creative this woman is.  It also inspired me to keep this idea in mind for when my boyfriend hits the big 3-0, which is still 2 years down the road.

I think it would be worth your while to check out the post (if you are looking to be inspired for gift ideas) as well as her entire blog.  What have you got to lose?

5 Reasons for Weight Gain

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Being sick, I've spent a lot of time on the couch in front of the tv these last two weeks.  Yesterday I watched a show called 'The Doctors' for the first time.  It was an episode on 5 shocking reasons for weight gain.  I don't quite agree with the title since not a single reason was shocking to me, but anyway.... the 5 reasons were:

  • Being In Love
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Stress
  • Menopause
  • Medicine and Illness

The one I found most interest and wanted to discuss is the first one.  I think it's an interesting phenomenon and I know it happened to me as well as one of my sisters.  She called it "boyfriend weight". 

I started eating out a lot more when I started dating my current boyfriend.  A lot of what we did together revolved around eating.  Going out to dinner.  Going out for ice cream.  Beyond that, I think unconditional love comes into play.  I think when you have someone else that loves you no matter what you start to worry less about your appearance.

I also believe that a significant other can have an opposite effect and help you to lose weight.  You could make cooking healthy meals an activity.  You have someone to go out on a nice walk or bike ride with.  You have someone to support you through making the life-style changes necessary to lose weight and get healthier.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Have you gained weight as a result of any of the reasons above?  How do you feel about the affects of a significant other on weight gain?

Get Well Easter Lilies

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My boyfriend's parents bought me a beautiful easter lily plant as a little get well gift to help make me feel better.




Illness by the numbers

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Number of days being sick: 9
Number of work days missed: 5 1/2
Avg. daily temperature reading since last Friday: ~99.8
Number of trips to the doctors office: 4
Number of biopsies done: 3
Number of prescriptions picked up in one day: 4
Number of other over-the counter items also purchased: 2
Highest number of doctors and nurses inspecting me in one day: 6
Confidence level that this thing will ever go away: 10%
Decrease in my confidence level in doctors: 50%
Days to wait for preliminary biopsy results: 1
Days to wait for official biopsy results: 7
Days until next appointment: 1
Average number of hours I sleep a night: 1 1/2
Total number of breakdowns so far: 4?  5?
Number of super-heroes that emerged from this: 3 (boyfriend, mom, dad)
Number of diagnoses: 0

Now if I did my math correctly, that all computes to: one very sick erin who has had a really rough 9 days.

Kodak EasyShare Z712 IS

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One of the blogs I check out frequently is "thoughts from along the broken road" written by a lovely gal named Dawn.

The other day when I stopped by I saw a couple of posts where she had taken some shots of a baseball game (Red Sox!) and her trip to Animal Kingdom.  I was really impressed by the quality of the pictures. 

You should take a moment and check them out too (and then come back here to finish reading!):

Animal Kingdom: March 29, 2009
Red Sox at Braves, Spring Training: April 1st 2009

I was immediately interested in what kind of camera she used. She said it was a Kodak EasyShare Z712 IS.  It is 7.1 MP, has awesome 12x optical zoom (which I love on my canon), and image stabilization.  I already have a Canon S2 IS digital camera which is very nice, but it is a few years old now, doesn't have as many megapixels, and I don't think it takes as nice photographs as the Kodak does (but that could be more due the person behind the camera!).

I decided to check it out on amazon in terms of price and found some amazing deals. The regular price seems to be 364.99. But there are links showing other places selling it for as low as $145.99. So if you are looking for a new digital camera, it might be worth your while to check this out by clicking the image below.  Once you get there click on the '29 used and new' link under 'More Buying Choices' on the right hand side if you are looking for a deal.

Kodak EasyShare Z712 ISKodak EasyShare Z712 IS

Drug Reaction

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I went to my doctor last Friday (March 27th) and he prescribed two types of medication for anxiety/insomnia.  Wednesday morning, at 2 AM, I woke up with a horrible rash.  I couldn't sleep most of the night because I kept waking up with such irritated skin.  I know I am allergic to Penicillin and Bactrim (Sulfa drugs) as I had bad reactions when I was little so my immediate instinct was that this was a reaction to the new medication.  My entire abdomen and chest were all red and covered with bumps.  I called my doctor's office and made an appointment for that day at 10:30 AM.  My doctor was not in so I had to see another doctor in the office.  As I was sitting in the table in the little paper shirt I noticed that since I had called earlier in the morning it had now spread to my arms.  The doctor didn't seem too concerned.  He told me to stop taking the meds, gave me an anti-histamine and sent me on my way.  Basically he said if I can still breath then I was fine and it was nothing to worry about.  I took the pill and went to work.  By the end of the work day my arms were looking even worse.  The rash continued to get worse, and I was feeling worse. 

I called my doctor on Thursday.  He said to try taking Benadryl, so I did.  He said he'd call and check up with me on Friday morning. 

Thursday night/Friday morning I continued to get drastically worse.  I was up pacing around the entire night because it hurt to have anything touch my body and I was in incredible pain and had terrible itching.  New bumps had formed ALL OVER that were filled with fluid and were leaking.  I sent a message to my boyfriend to come straight over in the morning instead of going to work.  I needed to either go back to the doctor or to the hospital.  It was spreading ever further to my neck, scalp, back, thighs, and knees and I was in agony.  I couldn't wait for my doctor to call so at 9 AM I called him and they gave me an appointment for 10:30.  The nurse that first saw me noted that I had a fever of 100 and also gained 7 POUNDS since my appointment on the 27th, exactly one week before.  That means that I was all swollen and retained 7 pounds of fluid since the start of the reaction.  Then the doctor came in and took a look. After looking me over for a few minutes he came back in with 2 other doctors, including the one I had seen on Wednesday, so that they could take a look as well.  Then they called in a dermatologist to take a look.  They all concurred, or guessed, that it was indeed a more severe reaction to the drug.  None of them were sure though and they ordered several other tests.  They prescribed the generic version of allegra, an anit-biotic, and a steroid cream.  When the first three doctors were discussing treatment while waiting for the dermatologist my doctor asked the "elder statesman" of the group if he thougt 20MG prednisone would work.  He pointed his thumb upward and said we need to treat this more aggressively.  40 milligrams, my doctor asked?  And the other doc pumped his thumb upward once again.  The dermatologist said that I should use a steroid cream instead.  For some reason he thought taking it orally could actually mak me worse.  Another reaction, I guess.  By the time I got home from the appoinment and the pharmacy, about two hours later, my shirt was pretty drenched from the leaking fluids.  It basically felt like the worst sunburn you'd ever had, only worse, with all kinds of leaking blisters everywhere.

Believe it or not, I actually did crack a smile during the appointment.  I had one doctor lifting the paper shirt to look at my back, another lifting the other paper draped over my legs to look at my thighs, another lifting the front of my paper shirt.  The dermatologist looked in my throat too and said he saw some redness and called my doctor over so they were both hovered together flashing a light and inspecting.  It felt very surreal.  It was funny how it seemed like I was some inanimate object, as if they were all in medical school learning about drug reactions and rashes on some cadaver.  For whatever reason, that scene just struck me as somewhat funny. 

After coming back and taking all the prescriptions and putting on the cream and taking tylenol for the fever, I was finally able to sleep for the first time since essentially Monday night.  I took a 2.5 hour nap.  And last night I was able to sleep for about 5.5 hours.  I tried sleeping in bed but the only position I could really lay in was on my back and I can't really sleep like that.  I ended up moving to the couch and was eventually able to fall asleep there.   

This morning I woke up doing much better (finally!).  I am still bright red and itchy and in a little pain but almost all of those little fluid-filled bumps are gone.  I can actually keep a shirt on for more than an hour without it getting all disgusting!  I am still all swollen and retaining a lot of fluid and have a little fever, but the tylenol is taking care of that pretty well.

The doctors said they weren't sure yet if this was an incredibly severe, mild reaction or a mild, severe reaction.  Essentially things could still get worse (throat closing up, etc) and I could end up in the hospital for IV treatment.  If I didn't get better quickly, that's where they were going to have to send me.  I was so happy to see even mild improvement in the last 24 hours.  It's been pretty much the WORST WEEK EVER but I am hopeful that I will continue to get better and that at my appointment on Monday I will maybe have some more answers.

I also have to note that my boyfriend has been IN-CREDIBLE throughout this ordeal.  He's done a great job taking care of me, doing things for me that are even making me gag, such as help applying cream in certain parts I can't do myself. 

A Little Contest

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I thought I'd attempt to make things a little more fun and a little more interactive around these here parts.  This post is inspired in part by Kathy over at The Junk Drawer | Humor for the Masses and her "What's That" contests. 

For the first person to correctly guess the vegetable in the picture below, I will put up a 125x125 ad for their site on my blog for 30 days.  It will go just below the block of 4 125x125 amazon ads.  I hope this is fun and neither too easy nor too difficult.  I had one picture that would be hard and one that would be easy... I ended up going with the easy one.

This picture was taken as it was just coming up in mid-April of last year.  When the ugly red bulbs started popping up from the earth, I honestly had no idea what it might be.  It was something I had never had before and was pleasantly surprised!

Ok, start guessing and good luck!

click the image for a larger view

About This Blog

Stories, advice, and random thoughts from a thirty-something female.

Many people in their thirties are dealing with common issues and concerns. Some of these include buying a home, establishing a career, starting a family, and dealing with aging parents. I will blog about all these things as well as other every day stuff as I make my way through this third decade of life.

You can read more about the author behind thirty-something blog on the About Me page.





About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2009 is the previous archive.

May 2009 is the next archive.

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