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Monday, April 29, 2013

Password Tips

Lately, several of my friends have had one or more of their social networks hacked. None of us are immune. The best we can do is to change our passwords often.

Back when I worked for a large company I had a dozen different places that required passwords before I could access the sites.  I got pretty creative coming up with passwords since the system wouldn't allow us to use even similar passwords to what we had used before.

Some of the things I've tried include:

• Foreign words
• Unusual names
• Words spelled backwards
• Made up words only me and my husband would know
• Code words or code numbers that mean something only to me

I have a lot of passwords. I keep them all in a nondescript notebook that's always within reach. While I was writing this post, I decided to count how many passwords I used. Apparently, I need passwords for a whopping one hundred and twenty-nine sites!

Scary, isn't it?

Do you have any tips for creating a secure password? Have you ever been hacked? What did you do?

:passing the fairy dust: Here's hoping none of us ever have to go through that nightmare.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Should I rejoin LinkedIn?

Do you use it? Do you feed your blog through it?

I was on it for a couple of years but I never used it much. I "thought" I had canceled the account, but I still get invitations to add this person or that one to my network.

Only when I went back in, it didn't recognize my email address or my password. Yet, it still sends me invitations to the email address it doesn't recognize.

So what do you think? Has LinkedIn been useful to you? 

Didn't someone hack into their database recently, or am I thinking of WordPress? 

Monday, April 22, 2013

State of the Homestead

I've been debating when to post the next state of the homestead, hoping the goats would be here, but my timetable keeps changing. I hope to have goat news next month.

Da Dogs: Everyone is fine, but Tank is slowly diminishing. He still outweighs Iko by 10 pounds, but he's a shadow of his former self. His lumps are growing again and I'm researching some homeopathic cancer remedies to see if we can slow this down. Despite all this, he's in excellent spirits. We deny him nothing and he knows it.

Nana will be out of quarantine this week. We've been keeping her isolated to the house and dog run until her shots have taken effect. The vet says she should be in the safe zone by this Thursday.

Some of you might think I took this to extremes, but when you lose two puppies back to back, you'll do anything not to let it happen again.

She hasn't been idle. I've been taking her on the back porch--an area 45 foot long, and starting her on obedience. In less then a week, she is heeling, sitting, and coming on command. I'm still taking her to doggie school in May so she can socialize with strangers and other dogs.

Grumpy's days are numbered
Chickens: Two of my black australorp hens have gone broody. It sounds romantic, them laying on a big clutch of eggs, but in truth, when they go broody, they stop laying. These are older hens so maybe they feel their biological clock ticking.

We do have a couple dozen Maran chicks on the ground, and ten more ready to hatch in a couple of days. Of all the chicks we've hatched, these are the noisiest birds I've ever encountered. They have warmth, food and water, yet they chirp incessantly! I open the door (they're in my laundry room) to see what the commotion is about, and they look at me like I'm the idiot.

I try to handle the chicks regularly. I want them to be tame, especially the cockerels. One of them is going to have a very special job. He's going to replace the grumpy rooster I have right now. Damn bird attacks me whenever I turn my back, but if I'm looking at him, he struts around like Mr. Innocent.

Plants: The comfrey is growing beautifully. I'm told it spreads easily so I might transplant a couple of them to an empty patch and let it grow wild.


Young pecan trees
My poor fig tree got hit by a cold snap after it leafed out but it's starting to recover again. My brand new pecan trees are doing well. The nurserywoman told me they should bear nuts this year. Now all I have to worry about are the squirrels. We have a huge walnut tree that bears nuts every year but we've never gotten a single one thanks to the squirrels.

All my other fruit trees are leafed out too. My lemon and satsuma trees already have tiny fruit.
Irises in the front

Me: I've been fighting the good fight. I had to scale back on yoga for a whole month due to an inner ear infection that messed with my balance. Then the following week, I wrenched my back moving all that dirt.  I'm better now, but it really slowed progress for a few weeks.

I'm excited about this year. Things seem to be turning around for us. Greg should be retired next year and we're gearing up for our 'change of life'. It'll be good to have a full-time husband again.

PS  If I start complaining that he's underfoot next year, remind me when I said I was happy to get him back. ;-)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

FREE Books on Saving Money

One of my passions is saving money. You might say that it's an obsession. Okay...Greg says it's an obsession. After nearly 38 years, he still complains (in drama queen fashion) that I am too strict with the purse strings.

It's true. I grew up in a big family. And we were cash-poor. This segued nicely when Greg and I got married because we were poor then too. LOL! But even when times got better, I still handled our finances as if we had nothing to spare.

So it's no surprise that my forays into nonfiction compelled me to write about how we save and grow our money, including all my tips and real life experiences on how to get the most bang for your buck.

The first book, Smart Budgets for Busy People, which I've since updated with a few checklists will be going on KDP's free days sometime soon. But my second and third books: Smart Grocery $hopping and Garage Sale Bible are on sale now for $2.99 USD each.

But wait! You don't think I'd let my loyal friends and readers on a lurch without a freebie, do you? If you're willing to write a review on either of these two books, I will give them to you FREE. Just review it on Amazon, Goodreads, or Library Shelf.

I have to make a confession though. These books have been finished for a while. I was supposed to upload them in February, but I got so busy designing covers for other people that I completely forgot to publish them. It was only when Melissa McClone asked me when they were coming out that I realized my faux pas.

So here they are, two months late. I hope you'll try them. If you'd like to get them free, email me and I'll send you a pdf.

I'll upload them on other sites next week, but for now you can find them on Amazon.

Smart Budget$ for Busy People
Smart Grocery $hopping
Garage Sale Bible
Self-Publisher's Punch List

Each and every one of these is available free to you in exchange for an honest review. Just email me. The books are free for a limited time, so grab them while you can. I really did pack a lot of information in them.

My thanks to Melissa for making me get the lead out. :grin: I needed that kick in the pants.

How do you like my covers? I'm going to let the font kind of tie them together.

Monday, April 15, 2013

No Such Thing as a Day Off

Today, in the US, it's 'open your veins and bleed for the government' day, otherwise known as tax day. Dutiful citizens that we are, we got them filed before the deadline. But it was close. I don't like to wait until the end, just in case something comes up missing and it takes us half a day to find it.

I haven't blogged in two weeks! That's the longest I've ever gone without blogging. It felt weird. But it was necessary. We got a lot done--and yet we were still short of our goals.

In the past two weeks we:

• Did taxes
• Dug nearly 500 feet of trenches
• Lay water pipes to the future goats and back orchard
• Planted two BIG pecan trees
• Tilled and hoed two full gardens
• Planted one of the two gardens
• Hatched two batches of chicks
• Moved half a dump truck of dirt for the bed of the goat shelter
• Started the skeleton of the shelter
• Cut and burned brush
• Moved some more dirt to low spots
• Buried the trenches back with dirt (back-breaking work, by the way!)

Oh, and when I wasn't working outside, I was designing covers. 

In the past two weeks, I've created five of them. I can't show you most of them since the authors aren't ready for their reveals, but here are a couple I did for James Garcia Jr.. These are for a horror series he's written.

Jimmy was a pleasure to work with. He listened to my ideas and allowed me to go beyond the typical vampire cover. (I get a little tired of the fangs and blood myself.) The first story, Dance on Fire is about a man looking for redemption, even though he believes he's beyond help. The second story, Flash Point is about a daughter returned, who is not what she seems.

And wait until you see the cover I designed for a new story he's releasing next month. It's one of my very favorites. I worked as hard on the back cover as I did on the front. When last I counted, there were 28 layers of art and special effects on that cover.

So all in all, I've been busy.

We still have the goat shelter to finish--and then of course, the goats. I hope the man we're buying them from still has them. I had promised to see him last week, but there was no way we were ready.

Spring has sprung in north Texas. I'm already pulling weeds. Is there signs of spring (or fall) in your neck of the woods? 

And out of curiosity, what's the longest you've ever gone without blogging?

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Fool's Day--Not

I'm putting this blog on vacation for at least a week. No prank. If it's Spring, it's crazy-busy around the Zannini household.

Aside from the additional chores of working outside, Book Cover Diva is really gaining steam. For the first time since my cover business officially started, I have back-to-back orders. I'm in Maria-heaven!

There's a LOT to tell about the homestead, but I'm going to wait a couple of weeks until we get our new arrivals to do a tell-all. This may be the best year yet for the homestead. Things are really starting to shape up. We might have a full-fledged farm by the end of the year. Or for sure, next year.

Did you have a good Easter holiday? I took Jimmy Garcia's advice and dedicated the whole weekend to my birthday. Yes, we worked like mules, but truth be told, that's my favorite way to celebrate. 

Working in the garden is like a tonic for me. Nothing relaxes me more--not even yoga--though I think that's because I don't fall over as much. :grin:

If you could choose your favorite way to relax, what would it be? I'll see if I've got some extra fairy dust on me and sprinkle it on you so you'll get your wish.

See you around the net!