Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ancestry DNA Results

I've been interested in my family tree for a long time.  Like, all the way back when I was a teen.  Back then, with no internet and no resources, it was exciting to gather bits of info from talking to people at the annual family picnic and scribbling down notes about what they recalled of our history, or trying to piece things together from reading old obituaries and studying old photos.

My ambition for doing family research sort of died out many years ago after meeting a cousin of my grandma who is pretty much a professional researcher.  Once it became clear she had more info than I could ever dream of having, and that she knew all the hows and wheres of searching, I sort of gave up and figured I'd just swoon over the information she has.

Well jump ahead into the modern age of DNA and the growing popularity of those ancestry DNA test kits that you see advertised all over TV.  I've wanted to do one for a few years now.  The price always scared me away but they seem to be more affordable these days.  Then one day Ty and I were talking about it and he said he was quite curious about it all.  That's what got me to finally do it.

Back in June I ordered two DNA test kits from MyHeritage.com.  I did not do any sort of research on the different companies offering these kits, just went with this one because it was on sale at the time and because I was already somewhat familiar with the MyHeritage website.

I ordered two kits on June 19, at a cost of $69 each (on sale), plus $12 shipping.  They arrived on June 26 (I think) but since I was working that day we didn't do the actual test until June 27th, my  next day off.

Each kit contained a bit of information, a code that I had to go online and register to 'activate' the kit, two swabs, two vials, a zip baggie, and an envelope to mail it all back in.  Directions said to not eat, drink, or smoke for at least 30 minutes before doing the swabs.  Hubby is a smoker so it was funny when we tried coordinate when to do this.  We ate supper, he had a cigarette, then we set a kitchen timer for one hour later.  LOL

Ya know, you see on all the cop shows on TV where they just poke a swab in the mouth for a moment and they're good to go.  Ha!  With these kits, you take one swab and keep rubbing and swirling on the inside of one cheek for 30 seconds, then use the other swab for the other cheek for 30 seconds.  That might not seem like a long time but when you're rubbing your mouth raw with a large swab and practically drooling cuz your mouth is hanging open, it seems like forever.  So anyway, the spit soaked end of the swab is carefully placed into a vial and sealed, then the vials are put into the return shipping envelope and you send them back.

And then you wait.

On July 10 I received email notification that the kits had arrived at the lab, and then FINALLY on July 24 I received the results from my swab.  Hubby's results came the following day.  They emailed saying the results were ready, and provided a link to where we could see it all.

I was soooo excited, and nervous!  I even got quite emotional before I finally clicked the link.  I hadn't been expecting that!  My heart was racing and hands were shaking slightly as the website played a short little video, and then . . . 
(Click image to read results.)
Tada!  In a way I was not surprised because I'd always known we were German, Irish, and Scottish.  I'd been wondering how much of each we were though, and hoping the German roots prevailed.  I was surprised to see that fairly large amount of *East* European though!  True, the regions overlap and those ancestors could have still been close to Germany if they were Austrian, Czech, or Polish, but farther out from that would be curious.  I'd also been told from that family researcher of mine that there is proof of connection to Charlemagne, who was French.  (I always scoff at these claims because what proof can one have?  But hey, whenever his name comes up I claim kinship, hehe.)

So nothing TOO surprising in mine.

I was super curious to see hubby's results though.  He's always bragging about how he's a Viking, and how much Scandinavian blood he has.  We joked while waiting for the results that it would be rather awkward to find out he only has like 2% in him.  Still, we were both shocked by what showed up on the results screen . . . 
 (Click image to read results.)
Whoa!  51.2% Scandinavian?!  We were laughing a victorious Viking laugh when we saw that.  Then it all started to fall apart.  Maybe I don't understand the science of DNA enough but how can he be over 50% if his mother's side has no Scandinavian blood?  Also, why is Iceland not included in it?  Everything hubby's been told has a good portion of his ancestors coming from Iceland.  AND, his mother's side is supposedly a very large percent Polish.  True, that 11.6% Baltic might represent that, but it seems odd.  There is always the chance that Grandma and Grandpa's hand-me-down tales might not be accurate, but still.  Hubby's family totally scoffed and blew this test off as a money making gimmick and are sticking to what they've always been told.  Their attitudes pretty much killed any excitement I'd had about this whole experience, and that's why it took me this long to post about it.

I did some reading after all this and found a lot of people trashing these DNA test kits.  I watched a couple videos from some investigative TV shows where they sent in swabs from identical twins and triplets and had varying results.  I read about how the databases are still fairly new an undeveloped.  Maybe if I'd read all that stuff before I never would have spent the money on these kits.  I haven't totally written them off like hubby's family has, but it has knocked my excitement back quite a bit.  At first I was super excited to get online and start researching my dad's side of the family, see if I could figure out just where that East European comes from, but then the ambition fizzled out.  Someday maybe I'll put some effort into it again.  My dad's side of the family, and hubby's family on both sides is still like a blank book when it comes to family history, so even if my grandma's cousin has my mom's side traced all the way back to the beginning of time, at least there are other areas I *could* dig around in.  For now though, my interests lie elsewhere.

So what do you think?
Are these test kits just a gimmick?
Would you still do it if you were given the chance?
Do you know much about your ancestry?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Aug. 14 - Yep, Still Alive


Well that was quite a break from blogging, huh?  And totally unintentional.  I'd come to realize during my week off at the start of the month, that I was just as miserable at home as I was at work.  That told me my funk was not quite as work related as I'd thought.  I just sort of shifted in my interests after that for a while.  I didn't worry about making cards or doing blog stuff, or really anything.  I just sort of hung out and puttered on other things, went to Casey's place a few times, started playing UO and Wizard101 more again, and just did whatever.  But the urge to blog has been growing the past couple days so here I am.

The barn project continues.  They have insulation up on all four walls now, except for a few spots along the sloped edges on each end.  They've done a lot of work inside, most of which is hard to show in pictures.
If you remember, there used to be two rows of support posts and leftovers from when there were stall walls on each side of the center cement slab.  Those are all gone now and they have the single row of support posts going right down the center of the building.  They also redid the stringers that run across the roof, raised them up about two feet so the eventual ceiling will be higher.  The place looks HUGE inside now.  Holy moly, it's like a whole new building!

Fattycat's 16th birthday was last week (Aug. 8).  He's still doing pretty good.  I need to make his appointment to have bloodwork and everything rechecked soon.

Casey's roommate moved out last weekend.  Yes, his second roommate has already left.  This guy was totally taking advantage of things, having his brand new girlfriend pretty much living there already.  It will suck for Casey having to pay all the bills on his own, but he says he already feels so much better living alone.  And he has Cinnamon to entertain him now.  Hopefully life finally settles down for him!

I've been out of 'everyday' wax for almost two weeks now.  I have a ton of fall scents waiting to be started on September 1, but for now I'm just going to take this little break.  I noticed at Walmart today that they have a bunch of fall scents in the American Home/Yankee line.  It was super fun to see and sniff them but I probably won't buy any.  The fall ones are on sale right now but I still prefer my Scentsationals/BHG.  There is a cranberry one in the American Home line though that I might get since Scentsationals/BHG lacks in that area.

Anyone watching that new show The Sinner?  I was intrigued and watched the first episode but haven't watched any after that.  I'm still intrigued but there was just enough weirdness to turn me off.

Game of Thrones has been pretty good though, huh?!  Especially last night's episode!  So many clues about Jon!  And I said to hubby at one point, "What if we all got it wrong and Khaleesi turns out to be the monster tyrant, not Cersi?"  Hmmm.

Alrighty, well, I hope you're all doing fine and dandy out there.
Are you reading anything interesting?
Watching anything good?
Doing anything fun?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Book Review - Rebel Belle

Rebel Belle
by Rachel Hawkins
2014
345 pages

'Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him--and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.
'

*** MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

This book was fun.  It was weak in a lot of areas, which I'll go into more in a bit, but it was strong in others and it was just a quick, fun read.  I actually have the book Debutantes and Daggers, which looks like this . . .
. . . and is a compilation that includes Rebel Belle and Miss Mayhem, the first two books in this series.  When I first saw this in the store I was like "Whaaaat the heck?" and couldn't help but pick it up to have a better look.  Then, seeing that it starts off saying something about how 'none of this would have happened if I'd had lip gloss,' I was hooked.

So anyway, this first book, Rebel Belle has main character Harper unknowingly and awkwardly becoming a paladin at the Homecoming dance.  LOL!  Okay wait.  The book is not an actual comedy, but it's not as serious and dark as something like the Shadowhunters books or other YA books.  Harper has some sass and plenty of arrogance.  It takes place in the south so all that southern charm is there, and I love how manners, etiquette, and respect are all very important.  There is sort of a Beautiful Creatures vibe in that way.

 When Harper becomes a paladin, she knows something has happened to her but doesn't know just what.  She soon suspects she has awesome new superpowers and spends the weekend watching Spiderman, X-men, etc. superhero movies as research.  She tries to figure out just what superpowers she's received by doing things like jumping to see if she can levitate, or staring at pictures to see if she has laser beam eyes.  It's all quite quirky early on!  She eventually figures out it's her enemy David she's now charged with protecting, and from there learns more about what a paladin is and why she has become one.

And this is where things get weak.  I thought a book about paladins would be an interesting new twist compared to all the vampires and nephilim and demon hunters in the usual YA books I've read.  I'm aware of paladins from video games like UO and World of Warcraft that I have played.  I thought this book had great potential!  But it just fell short because the author didn't delve deeply into that whole paranormal world.  Sure, we learn that David is an oracle (can see the future) and that he's ultra rare and needs to be protected.  We learn that his aunt who has raised him since he was a baby, is not really his aunt after all but had stolen him to protect him and oh, she's a mage.  Paladins AND mages?!  Heck yeah!!!  But no.  The mage explains that the three of them work as a team, that there must always be a paladin and mage to help protect the oracle.  Okay, but protect him from what?  From who?  It never really does go into that.  And thinking about it, an oracle in this day and age is probably not all that valuable.  I mean, we're such a small world now, insta-connected with everyone and everything in this tech age.  Unless an oracle is having nonstop and very clear visions about things that affect the whole dang world, does it even really matter?  Sure, back in the medieval age when things were spread out and secluded and your 'world' was your little area you lived in, yeah an oracle probably would have been important and worth protecting.  It just doesn't work in a modern age story though.  At least not for me.

Still, there was enough mystery and intrigue to keep me reading.  Who was this mysterious other mage?  Why does she want to claim David as her own, and kill Harper?  What exactly is Miss Saylor's (David's 'aunt') mysterious past?  There are a lot of hints that she might not be all she's pretending to be.  And who the heck are they protecting David from?!

Of course there is a big showdown, which is again quirky.  Tainted punch at the Cotillion, anyone?  And in a strange twist of events, two of Harper's friends are drawn into this mysterious mess.

Another weak area is that apparently six weeks or so pass in the course of this story but it seems like only about two or three days.  There is much made of Harper's training and how important everything is but the story just glosses over most things.  It's like, six weeks passed and only one or big things happened?  Well, heck, this paladin job is going to be a piece of cake.  In six weeks of supposedly intense training, why haven't we learned more about . . . well, anything?  If this oracle only had one very vague vision in that time, what is it about him that these unknown others are so determined to have?  Ya know?  Sooooo much potential just sort of skipped over.

The strong areas of the story are the relationships.  If this author has just regular YA or contemporary romance novels, I'd probably be very interested in reading them.  The relationships Harper has with her best friend, with some other classmates, with her boyfriend, and with David, are all really well written.  You go through the gradual decline of her relationship and the building relationship with David, and you feel for all three of them.

The weak parts and the stupid ending really were eye roll worthy for me but there were enough good things about the book that I'll gladly dive into the next one to see where this all goes.  I also discovered that this author also wrote the Hex Hall series, which I've had on my wish list for ages!  I think I will go ahead and bump those books up to the top now.

Have you read Rebel Belle, or anything by Rachel Hawkins?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Aug. 3

Hubby and friend got back to work on the barn today, although it was more just cleaning and rearranging some things in preparation for the next phase.  This next part won't be as quick and 'easy' as the walls phase was.  Now they're working up in the rafters, raising the stringers that run across, so they can create a higher ceiling.

Cinnamon (Casey's kitten) had his first vet visit today and all is fine with him.  Even his weird eyes.  What?!  Casey says the vet said they are just a unique color, sort of a rainbow color on a green base.  They're still weird.  But anyway, he had an exam and two shots, and got his neuter appointment set up for later this month.

Casey came over for a bit this morning and helped me move his old dresser and bookshelf down from upstairs so I can use them in the craft room.  I did manage to rearrange things in there but I'm not sure I like how it is yet.
I moved the desk up against the wall instead of sitting in the center of the room.  I also swapped the folding chair out for a wooden stool.  I like that things won't be falling off the front edge of the desk now and that I can just turn and hop off the stool to go grab whatever I need, but I don't like how all the light is now behind me.  The stuff on the shelves and along the wall needs to be better organized but I'm not sure how I want to do that yet.
Across the room from the desk, I've put the old dresser to use as my cutting station.  My Cuttlebug die cut machine will sit there, with the plates in the top drawer, and I've also set me large paper cutter there with the bulk white paper that I cut the most also in the top drawer.  I love that this dresser is a perfect working height for such tasks, and that that both pieces of equipment fit there on top.
Already mentioned the plates and white paper in the top drawer.  The second drawer now holds my baskets of stamps and die sets.  Again, nearly perfect level to look down on them as I flip through to find what I want.  The only thing is clear plastic pockets they're in stand just a hair too tall and I have to sort of push them back/down when I close the drawer.  Hubby suggested getting another basket so these aren't so full and can lean back a bit more.  I think I'll try that.

So yeah, I'm glad to have actually gotten this done but I'm such a 'Change is bad!' person that it all has me a bit twitchy for now.  Tomorrow I'll hopefully be able to try working in there and see if the process is less frustrating.

I'm still very curious to know what sort of price you all would pay for handmade cards.  Please let me know!  It will help me greatly in trying to decide how to go about selling them.

The football season starts tonight!  Yaaaaay!  Well, it's just preseason but still, football is back!
We have the game on (Cardinals and Cowboys) and I was watching but then came in here to blog.  And now I'm going to post this and head up to bed.
Tomorrow is my last day off on this vacation I've had.  I'm already feeling the stress and anxiety about going back to work start to stir in me.  Ugh . . . 

Are you a football fan?




Band of Bloggers - August 2017 / Vol. 20

Band of Bloggers Photo  
Pop quiz, hotshot: How well do you know your favourite Band of Bloggerette? Sure, we're all reasonably up to date on each other's interests, hobbies and the pretty, glittery things that make our hearts go pitter pat, but when it comes to the vitally important markers of a person's character - favourite band, desert island scent, fight stance in the zombie apocalypse - how well do we truly know our virtual neighbours? :) Let's delve into 10 deeply random questions and find out, shall we?
1. No really, zombie apocalypse survival strategy: Fight or flight?
Flight, because proper zombies are slow and stupid.  I don't like how zombies have evolved into fast, thinking, planning, banding together supermonsters.
 
2. You've been a bad, bad kitty and you have just one final meal coming your way. What's on your plate?
Rocky Rococo's sausage pizza with a side of their bread sticks and marinara sauce, and a big cold Mountain Dew.  Oh, and some chocolate....Hershey's bar with almonds is my current fave.
 
3. Aside from wax (or nail polish, or crafting supplies, or beauty products) what item do you have major multiples of?
Hmm, since you've taken wax and crafting supplies out of the equation I can't think of anything.  Dragons, maybe?  I have a lot of dragon figures, like stuffed animals, collectibles, toy figures.
 
4. You've just won the lottery. Before best friends you didn't even know you had begin to show up on your doorstep, what's the first thing you buy without even thinking twice?
A full set of Tombow markers for crafting!  Normally I would say pay off the house, but I can still do that after I have my markers.  LOL
 
5. Biggest celebrity crush? This can be anybody - an actress, a musician, a fictional character from a favourite movie, book or television show, or maybe even an historical figure.
Although I am King Ludwig II obsessed I don't think it's a crush.  His story is so sad and fascinating, but I don't think I have feelings of  'Oh, I want to marry him and save him.'  
*thinking thinking thinking*
Maybe Edward Cullen, from the original Twilight book only.  He got kinda whiny and annoying as the series went on.
 
6. Flats or heels? Or are you running barefoot through life like some sort of hippie?
Sneakers are pretty much the only thing you will ever find on this blogger's feet.
 
7. Whether it was created through a customs order or simple pick-and-mix blending at home, what's the greatest scent blend you've ever stumbled upon?
I can't even answer this.  I'm not a custom blender or an at home mixologist.  I mean, there were a couple really nice ones way back in our Smelly Sisters Muffin Club days but even those weren't mine.  One was a borrowed blend idea of (Rosegirls) Peppermint/Watermelon Slush/Marshmallow Smoothie.  And the other was hubby's idea of (Rosegirls) Hot Apple Pie/Pecan Waffles/Pie Crust.

8. It's snack time! Are you reaching for the sweet or the salty?
More likely to be sweet, although I do love a good bag of salty chips too.
 
9. What's a personal style moment you'd never care to re-live?
No answer for this because I'm very bland and always have been.
 
10. You are going to live in a biodome beneath the sea for the next three years and have been allotted space for just ONE book (tiny dome!) What cherished book will keep you entertained for the next 1095 days?
My first thought was to say Twilight, but actually I think I'd rather have Embrace, by Jessica Shirvington.  Like Twilight, I absolutely LOVE this first book of the series, but then the following books all fall far short for me.

If you'd like to play along at home, please feel free to answer these questions in the comment section below, and we hope you'll visit these Band of Blogger blogs and help support the blogger community!
Amanda at Thrifty Polished
Jessica at The Meltdown Blog
Lauren at LoloLovesScents
Liz at Furianne
Sandra at Finger Candy
If you are a blogger and would like to join the Band of Bloggers for our monthly posts, please contact us.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Aug. 2 - Cards


No work on the barn today.  Like I mentioned yesterday, I think they're finally feeling burned out.  They're also trying to decide how they want to continue from where they're at, like which part to tackle next.  Hubby's been falling asleep at about 6pm these past couple days.  Yeah, I think they need this little break.  Hopefully momentum and ambition doesn't slide with this down time.

I went back and forth between playing a lot of Wizard101 and working in the craft room today.  Both were frustrating, which is why I was going back and forth.  I worked on one till I got pissy, then went to the other till that one pissed me off.  I think I've figured out a couple things about why I get frustrated and overwhelmed in that craft room.  It needs to be set up different.  Right now the desk is crammed so full of stuff that I have to constantly move and rearrange things every step of the way.  The shelves are behind me, which also makes it awkward whenever I need something.  My chair is just a temporary folding chair, not a swivel type desk chair, so to get anything off the shelves behind me is a pain in the butt unless I actually get up.  Sooooo, tomorrow I'll be working on rearranging things in there and trying to set up stations for different tasks, like my die cutting machine will have its own place and I'll go to that spot, instead of lugging it out and moving things on my desk like I do now.  I'm actually looking forward to seeing what I can come up with.

I also found it's quite nice to have a good selection of stamped images already colored and cut out.  I haven't been making cards lately but I've been coloring a lot of images, trying different markers and different papers, etc.  Today I spread them all out on my desk and fairly easily found some fun combinations that allowed me to make three cards.
While it was frustrating during the process, I actually *really* like these cards.  The picture does not do them justice since I took it in the fading light of evening.  That's another thing I want to incorporate into the craft room, a photography spot.

I have some questions, and I'm really hoping you guys will take a moment to answer.  A couple people have already offered to buy cards I've made.  I've kinda blown it off because I just wouldn't know how much to charge.  Greeting cards bought at the store can be ridiculously expensive, like easily $4.00 for a simple one, and even up to $7.00 (or more!) for fancier ones.  I've browsed Etsy a bit to see what people are charging.  I have no idea what I would charge for my cards.  So I'm asking all of you what your opinions are.  What you pay for a handmade card like this?  Or what sort of price range have you seen for such things?

I'm also wondering about single cards vs. sets.  I'm not wild about the idea of sets because what if someone absolutely loved the pink one above but was like 'Darn, I only want that one, not the set,' and decided not to buy any?  Hubby suggested making duplicates of things I would have in sets.  I suggested having all single cards but have deals on two or more, which lets the person pick their own 'set.'  What do you all think?

I really *really* would like to know your thoughts!

Other than that, not much to report today.  I took it easy, played with the kitties, and watched some true crime shows on TV when I wasn't playing Wizard101 or fumbling to make cards.  Tomorrow Casey takes his baby (Cinnamon) to the vet for the routine kitten exam and shots, and schedule his neutering.  I'm really curious to hear if the vet says anything about the weird eyes!

Okies, people.  I'm off to bed, and look forward to your thoughts on the questions I put out to you all.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Aug. 1 - Barn Natters

Ahh, little Cinnamon with your weird eyes and small head.
I went to Casey's for a bit today, had to play with the baby.  lol

Yesterday I was at my mom's, taking her shopping and doing her laundry.  I got really frustrated and angry with her for a bunch of reasons but managed to bite my tongue.  When I got home from there, Ty was here doing his laundry.  He hung out for a while and we chatted about stuff.  This morning Casey stopped over on his way home from work.  He had a problem with his debit card and was waiting for the bank to open so he could call them.  Turns out they called him first and he had to go there to get it straightened out.  Apparently there was some sort of breach related to Kmart and many people had their accounts hacked.  Someone tried to make a purchase in Spain with Casey's card but it was flagged and blocked.  Whyyyyyyy do these lazy asshole hackers have to do this crap?  Why can't people just get jobs and contribute to society decently?!  Ugh, it makes me so mad.

Anyway, moving on before I rant for days . . . 

Work on the barn continues, although it might be slowing down for a while.  Hubby and his friend are finally starting to feel burned out.  Not only that, but work is picking up back at the shop and they need to start putting in some overtime.  While this cuts into their barn work time, the money from the overtime will come at a good time because we're going to have start making some more expensive purchases soon for them to continue.  We were discussing whether to do windows now or later.  Hubby and the friend both voted for later, like in the spring.  They are more concerned with getting the walls done, insulation up, and siding on so they can be doing work out there in the winter.  Makes sense I guess, but I'm just so anxious to see it with windows and doors back in it!

It's harder now to get pictures of the work that's been done each day.  A lot of it is smaller things, or inside things, stuff that's hard to show in pictures.  I can show you a before and after of the south wall though.
 
This is the side that faces the house, the side we look at the most.  This is the side that will have the most windows, and they're hoping to do a fancy, custom built door for the main entrance there on the left.

I also found out they have much bigger plans than just using this space as a casual crafting hobby.  They want to turn it into a small business, selling online and at craft fairs and even from the shop itself.  I'm not sure how I feel about venturing back into an actual business but after hubby explained it all to me in more detail it appears that I'll be able to sell my cards and papercrafts (if I ever get going!) and might even start up soap making again.  The soap part is iffy right now.  I'd probably wait until I could retire from my actual job before I threw myself back into that again.  Still, it's all kind of exciting even if I am a Nervous Nellie Debbie Downer.

Seems like I had so much more to natter about but now I'm drawing a blank.
So on that note, I will get this posted and go play some Wizard101.

What do you think?
About anything?