Sunday, December 29, 2013

The time that I ate a dumpster cookie from a homeless man.

We went up to Burke Lakefront Airport with a borrowed spotting scope to look at Snowy Owls.  This is the first time that K and I have ever seen any, and I believe that it is the same for Hubs.  It was delightful.  We were able to find one near a runway, sitting in wait for a vole or another critter to cross so that it might have some lunch.  After Burke, we decided to visit the Cleveland Museum of Art.  We visit there a few times a year and generally stop by the same things.  Today as we were going on our general roam through the contemporary art, Hubs said, "Hey K, ask Mom about that picnic that I took her on."

I laughed out loud.

"What Mom?"

"Well, Dad decided to take me on a romantic picnic here when we were dating.  He packed up a lunch and took me to the lagoon out back.  He pulled everything out and all was going well until Dad decided to pull out a map.  Every homeless person within a 10 block radius popped up out of the bushes, but one got to us first.  He got on to talking and telling us about the area.  He talked for a good 10 minutes, then started in about his need for money.  I offered no money, but I did offer the apple and the banana that we had.  In exchange, he offered us some cookies.  Dad declined, but I didn't want him to feel bad.  I took the cookie.  I had the intention of pitching it later, but he kept saying that I had to try it.  He explained that he had gotten them from a dumpster after a wedding and that they were good and he wanted me to enjoy one.  It was powder sugar coated and in hindsight, my fear of it being a cocaine-coated cookie was a little far fetched, but I had to eat the cookie."

K surprisingly asked, "You ate the cookie?  A cookie that you knew came from a dumpster?"

Hubs replied with a laugh, "I was surprised that she did, but she did eat the cookie from the dumpster."

"Not only did I eat the cookie from the homeless man who said that he got it from the dumpster (it was in a ziploc bag), but I also prayed for God's protection because I didn't want to die from the cookie because I only ate it because I didn't want to make the man feel bad.  Obviously, I survived."

You'd be glad to know that in those days, I hadn't developed my massive case of germophobia.  It still makes me shake my head.

I ate a dumpster cookie.

I ate a dumpster cookie from a homeless man.

I ate a dumpster cookie from a homeless man who handed it to me and goodness only knows when either one of us cleaned our hands last.  That alone should get me to let up a bit on the germophobia.  We did laugh the rest of the way through the art museum.  We all decided that a blog post was a must.  I can't imagine the google searches I'm going to pop up on.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A thoughtful substitute.

My mom buys my siblings the yearly Whitman's Sampler.  We are not Whitman's Sampler people.  Not only did she not buy us the sampler, but she substituted it out with paper towels!  Hooray!  We don't use many paper towels here, but definitely needed them.  (I was down to the last roll.)

Lookie loo!  No calories!

Friday, December 27, 2013

A crisp breeze will fix that!

My parents asked what we wanted for Christmas.  I told my mom pillows.  Hubs' pillows were different states of flat and mine held no form.  I could bend that thing around like a pretzel.  Mom went forth and purchased really good pillows.  We were very thankful.  At home, we pulled said pillows from their plastic bags and noticed that they had a lick of smoke smell.


My dad smokes.  He smokes a fair amount.  My mom is a recreational smoker.  Sometimes it is more than others, depending upon the stress that my siblings are heaping upon her at the time.  She had the pillows upstairs in the living room, as opposed to under the tree.  Still.

"What are we going to do?"

I told Hubs to hand them to me and I would hang them on the line.

"But it's snowing or raining or something."

"It's not.  It is 17 F and has a little breeze.  Whatever is in these pillows will blow out before I bring them in."

"How long do you plan to leave them outside?"

"Until bedtime."

"That's not until at least 10 PM."

"And I will trudge out into the snow and pull them from the line then."

I should add that this discussion occurred at 3:30 PM.

You know what?  My solution worked.  They aired out for a good 7 hours on the line, as well as the casserole carrier that my mom and dad had made for me.  We slept well on the new pillows and neither one of us had any smoke issue.  They smelled freshly laundered and the crisp, breezy air fixed what ailed them!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Another reason as to why my husband should be sainted and other tales of Christmas.

I've shared with you in the past that I do not have good CD etiquette.  It has been a forever syndrome.  It drives my husband absolutely batty because he is the exact, extreme opposite.

It should be noted that I'm not intentionally uncaring about the CDs.  I don't put them on the dashboard to slide back and forth.  I do, however, have them in all of the wrong cases.  Sometimes they are not in cases, but in a stack.  Sometimes the stack is really tall.  Sometimes that stack gets referred to as the "leaning tower."

For Christmas, my husband did some rather lovely things for me.  It was very Pearl Jam themed, which is my love.  He bought me a stack of CDs from his favorite resale CD store including PJ Twenty (documentary and soundtrack), PJ Live on 2 Legs, PJ Live at the Garden, PJ Lightning Bolt (new for that one), Fugazi (The Argument),  the Lumineers, The Raconteurs (Broken Boy Soldier), Rush (Retrospective), Linkin Park (Minutes to Midnight and yes-- a guilty pleasure), but the very best thing-- he spent two days cataloging all of my CDs into binders.

I had stacks in the bedroom.

I had stacks in the studio in the three CD organizing racks he has purchased for me and on the top of my long glass organizing bin.

I had them on the movie shelf in the living room.

I had them in a variety of places in my car including in the door pockets, the front of the center console, under my seat (in a binder!) with another binder tucked into a back seat pocket.

He said that he has reacquainted himself with my full library (rather extensive, but not nearly as bad as his) and there were practically no savable jewel cases from any of them.  Some CDs come in the paperboard books like all of PJ except for Vs. and Ten, Cake and NIN.  All others that he could, he included the interior paper "guts" to the accompanying CD pocket.  He said that he now knows absolutely everything that I own in CDs.  Since he is a bit of a Rain Man about it, I don't doubt that he knows it even better than me.

K said, "MOM!  The entire bed was covered in CDs!"  I don't doubt it.

He even included his copy of Temple of the Dog in my collection for me to have.  That right there is a gift in itself.  He doesn't share his CDs with anyone, much less his wife who has had a sad history of CD abuse.  I've promised to keep up his organizational system.  I still haven't lived down the Faith No More cassette incident of 1994.  :(

I should also note that though we set a budget every Christmas, Hubs never stays within the budget because he says that I don't buy myself anything throughout the year.  (He doesn't count general clothing, underwear, socks and shoes as frivolous.)  He tried to be reasonable.  Our budget was $50 each and though we didn't exactly stick to that, Santa and I were at about $65 each for K and for Hubs.  I think Hubs topped out about about $100, thanks to sticking with mostly used CDs.  My love for music produced by independent labels does hike the cost up a bit, but I'd rather feed the little guy.

As for the little guy, I bought Hubs' wish list from Nuclear Blast, an independent heavy-metal label.  I even managed to find a Blu-Ray Stallone movie that he didn't own.  (I earned extra credit for that.)

K's gifts supported the not-so-little guy.  She received a sewing basket (a prettier print than this, though and a super Black Friday sale with extra off with a super early shopper coupon) and an AG sewing kit.  Santa left a balloon bending kit and extra balloons.  Her big gift was purchased by my in-law's (and K has promised to never tell Grandma and Santa the same gift again), but Santa was able to triumph with the entire movie collection of Harry Potter on Blu-Ray.  (Black Friday sale.)  Santa left some delightful items in her stocking, including a bin to gather up those blasted little rubber bands for the Rainbow Loom, yoga socks, an Angry Birds notebook that she longed for a while ago, more of the blasted rubber bands for the Rainbow Loom, sniffy erasers, puffy puppy stickers and letter stencils.

I made my in-law's a poster photo collage frame with a rubbing that we made when we visited the National Policeman's memorial. Uncle John's name is below with a collage of photos I took of Hubs, his sister and the girls.  My BIL and I kind of hung back, but I did have one photo of each of us that I included.  It was kind of a family project, with everyone hanging out and putting up with me as I turn into the tourist with a camera.  (They know this by now and just press on as if I'm not there.)

My mom gave me a list of kitcheny kind of things she needed and I granted her wish.  Sink mats, a set of "cheap" plastic bowls (I didn't buy cheap ones) and a silverware organizer is what she requested.  Hubs bought a suet feeder and some energy cakes for it for my dad, as well as a jar of this corn salsa stuff that he loves that we get at Bass Pro.

We gave more games and craft kits to nieces, nephews and cousins.  It was a great Christmas Eve with my cousins and their kids.  The White Elephant netted us a farting butt bank and a big pack of AA batteries and a bag of "chocolate" coal.  The White Elephant is as it is and unfortunately, my people thought that the bank was the greatest thing.  I banished it to basement to exist for the rest of eternity in my house.  It is to live on my husband's work bench.  It was on my kitchen table and I gave a giant veto to that.

We're spending a quiet day at home.  We didn't get out of our pajamas until noon.  K, thanks to a bit of loss of self-control, lost screen time today.  She is, however, having a grand time making a Barbie village in the basement.  I'm all for that.

To a quiet day in the neighborhood.  Ahh.  We all needed it.

Have a great day!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Steps toward completion.

Christmas isn't meant to be viewed as a marathon.  I do, however, feel like I'm at mile 23.  My mom called this evening to say that they would be by to pick chairs up that we had borrowed.  I decided that I would dash through and bag up all of the presents I had to send to their house.  I had the Christmas Eve bag with 6 gifts.  I had two large bags and two gifts of overflow for Christmas Day.  I was able to give a quick evaluation, re-wrap one that got the front punched out somehow, wrap two more (and add batteries to the one) and get those dropped into the sack, too.  I was just finishing the last package when my parents came in.

I'm waiting for K to go to sleep so that I can make some earrings for her for her special gift from me. I'm just making some really tiny drop earrings, but I have to get them done.

K's baby arrived today.  K got her baby hamster.  Yes, I'll take photos later.  I can tell you that he is charcoal with a white racing stripe on his underside.  Miss Stephanie gave her good instructions, have changed what we typically feed. (We fed H exactly what they told us.)  K is so very excited and Miss Stephanie was thrilled that K is so very caring and is completely responsible for every aspect of care of the hamster.  He is a baby.  He is very squealy.  He's keeping her awake, but I told her that she needs to get used to him and he needs to get used to her.  The wheel rides again!

Off I go to check to see if Sleeping Beauty is sleeping so that I can make her gift.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Thoughts and ramblings about things of little importance.

I was just doing a Google search on something and noticed that someone searched in text-speak.  They used "r" and "ppl" in their search.  Hmmm.  I honestly don't use text-speak (generally) unless I'm so close to 160 characters.  I certainly wouldn't consider using it in a search.

I'm making taco soup today.  I knew that you'd like to know.  Since I don't use Twitter, that is my Twitter-like comment.  Also, I changed my socks last night and they have flip flops on them.  I found them new at the thrift a few years ago.  I knew that was of utmost importance and that you needed to know that.

I'm also having cold pizza for breakfast just because I can.  There.  More Twitter/FB-like information.

I had a Christmas party for 30 children at the school yesterday.  We decorated ornaments and I have to tell you, not only did it go well, but it took us to the end of the party time-- just like I needed!  I had great helpers and the kiddos did well.  Thank goodness for ideas on Pinterest!

I had a birthday party for my kiddo last night.  It was a family party and the usual suspects showed up.  We had two sets of grandparents and the boys from across the street.  My sister was feeling a bit under-the-weather and my brothers, well-- who knows?  Although I was feeling a bit hit-by-a-semi myself, I managed to clean the house, run the school party, make and decorate the tie dye birthday cake and take the kiddo to get her ears pierced.  I exhaustively dropped into bed, never waking except to turn the alarm off for Hubs to go to work.

Happy first day of break for us!  Our goals are to have a Brady Bunch marathon and to bust out some bracelets on the rainbow loom.

I've had people get mad at me lately because we don't have boxes for about 90% of the merchandise that we have at work.  A lady yelled at me, then her mom yelled at me because I didn't have a box for a small, under $5 ornament that she was purchasing.  I had a man mad at me last week because he wanted a box and INSISTED that he get a box, "It doesn't matter if it doesn't fit exactly."  Well, he got the box from Poopouri. He was also the very same customer who, despite the holiday music we had going, decided to pull up Pandora on his phone and play some gawd awful Mariah Carey or Beyonce Christmas stuff really loud.  Then he couldn't figure out how to make it shut off.  Why is it that people have to have a continual soundtrack to their life playing at every minute regardless to the humans that they may have surrounding them?

It's crap like that where my hatred for some human behavior make me writhe behind the counter.  (Probably visually.  So sad to say.)

Let me clarify a fact for everyone.  Not everything comes in boxes.  Not everything will come in boxes and it is this time of year where I really hate the idea of people and their addiction to THE BOX!

:deep breath:

And then there's Target.  I've called Discover, talked with that gentleman and called my bank.  By mutual agreement, the bank and I have decided to reissue a new debit.  What's sad is that my bank pin is the same I've had since I started the account in 1994.  :(  I have no fraud going on thus far and admit that I'm ever grateful that I have everything locked down with Equifax.  Despite my best efforts to keep everything secure, I've had my accounts compromised twice this year (once with the city tax site being hacked by a Turkish group and now the Target incident.)  My Federal Reserve friend is right-- must keep monitoring on forever.

In other news, our work lottery pool didn't win the latest big jackpot.  Just thought I'd let you know.

K was gifted a box of Legos yesterday.  The neighbor brought them over.  The child hasn't stopped playing with them.  I love Legos.

Must shuttle to soak some beans.  Must get my morning can of Coke.  (My coffee.)  Must make my bed.  A hair brush is currently optional.  So are pants that have snaps, buttons and zippers.  Yoga pants today.  :)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Double Digits!

K is officially 10, earning her the right to get her ears pierced for her birthday.  We'll be doing that today after school.

She is so excited!

Happy birthday, doll!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Of tires, warranties and silver linings.

Tires are a problem for me.  Truly.  They are round.  They are rubber.  They are supposed to hold air.  I swear that every single tire on the RAV has an inner magnetic field that pulls every hunk of metal (including nails, screws, shards and chunks) toward the roundness that allows said vehicle to roll.

I was on my merry way home from work last night when 1 block up, I noticed that the tire pressure sensor light came on.  I admit that I am completely aware of exactly which light this is.  I work in not a terribly good section of town.  I decided to pull off to the local Thai restaurant, run around the car to see if all tires were round and if getting home without assistance was possible.  I went on the car roundabout and saw that my back passenger tire was low.  Visibly low.  The good news is that I didn't hear whistling of air pouring from the tire, so I thought that I could go and top off the air in the tire.  It was 26 F and perhaps it was a cold weather thing.

I went to the gas station where I thought there was a free air pump and it was not free.  It had a Visa or MC logo on the front, so I gassed up the 1/4 tank with the $2.88 in gas/gallon and used my handy-dandy tire gauge to assess the situation.

10 PSI.  That's not good.

I called Hubs and told him that I was certain that I picked something up and that I'd be parked in the neighbor's drive.  I then called Mike, who wasn't home at the time, but he told me his garage code and told us to help ourselves to tools.  In the change of 22 F, the zipper on the spare was frozen shut, so I ran back home, got a measuring cup of warmish but not hot water to loosen the zipper up.  Of course, I had no gloves on because I had to deal with water and by the time we got the tire changed, my hands were blocks of ice.  We did, however, find said metallic substance.

I could see into my tire.  I could see into the interior of my tire.  Hubs has no idea how I made it home.

God.  It's all God at work.  There is no other answer.

On his way to work, Hubs took the RAV to the fine, fine folks at NTB.  "Sir, we can't fix that."  They showed him that I picked up a 1" x 5-6" hunk of metal in my tire.  A bigger concern that they addressed with him was that my 70,000 mile tires had only 35,000 miles (ETA 31,000 miles) on them, but were essentially bald.  Hubs called and told me that NTB offered to switch the tires out with new 50,000 for $100 each as a part of the warranty.  Shoot, we've paid more than that for a single tire for the RAV, so I told him to go ahead and do it.  We also have road hazard (not an option) and an alignment for the bargain price of $530 ish right after giving a huge deposit towards phase one of braces.  HOORAY!  :S  We consider it a blessing to have an opportunity to replace crappy tires that were so very loud (the salesman asked if loudness was a problem) with tires that will hopefully be much better.  We are blessed to have an NTB on the way to Hubs' work and how fortunate for me to be off so that I could run out, drop Hubs off at work (a few minutes late, but they were okay with that) and run back out to do the family car shuffle tonight.

Bonus number two is that I was able to fill Hubs' tank before gas went from $2.86 to $3.29 right before my eyes.  I was sitting in line for gas and the price changed on the sign.  I got to the pump and it was still the previously stated price and I absolutely couldn't scan the credit card in fast enough to secure that price.  I got it, then right after I was done, they shut down my pump.  Wow.

We're fortunate to have the ability to replace tires and get gas for our cars.  The tires weren't built into the budget for now, but we have a savings and I'm glad to have it though we ignore it.  How fortunate we are to have them offer a warranty deal, even though I've been a bit remiss on rotation lately.  How lucky I'll be to have a car that isn't sliding anymore.  (Hubs said, "You were sliding, weren't you."  "Yes, but I didn't want to say anything right now.")  How great it is that Hubs could go to take care of this for me.  I don't pull the girl card often, but I was fearful that I might get the dumb girl run-around if I took the truck and gave a warranty complaint.  They brought it up to Hubs and all is well.  I've never had a problem with NTB.  They've always stood behind the products that they sell and they've always given great service.  Still, I'm glad that Hubs could handle this one for me.

Monday, December 16, 2013

An awesome teacher that goes the extra mile.

Last week, you read about K's hamster dying.  She was very sad and had every right to be.  She took excellent care of H.  Today at school, Mrs. S handed her a paper lunch sack.  She told her not to tell.  Here was what was inside:

Mrs. S made K a hamster out of one of her favorite socks.  :tears:  How incredibly sweet is that?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A big thank you to the random coupon depositors!

K and I had to go to the big box today to pick up some photos.  We also had a big need for razors (despite it being winter and all) and Hubs needed lotion.  I always dread the razor aisle.  Truly, I hate to spend what they want, but unless I want to go around with my legs looking like they came off of Chewbacca, something needs to happen.

K and I went to peruse the razors and like a ray of light, there was an unexpired coupon for $3. off of a pack of razors.  Angels sang.  Lights brightened.  We found what we needed and happily tucked that $3. coupon into the basket, but underneath the razors so that it wouldn't blow away.  We went on to the lotion that Hubs needed and there was a $2. coupon off of one of the giant bottles of lotion he wanted.  Hooray!

I was able to save $5. on things I needed and didn't even expect to get that savings.  I went on and picked up an eyeliner for the amount that I saved.  Since it is the eyeliner that twists out of the plastic pencil that holds it and they don't give a warning stripe, so when you are out, you are left to scrape your eye with stubbbins until you get to the store again.  I see that happening soon, so I'm glad to have an extra on hand.

The $3. coupon was as if someone was standing there and just handed me three dollars.  I was stunned, appreciative and taught K that sometimes the shelf coupons are definitely something to look at. The $2 coupon was rubberbanded to the lotion bottle, so I taught K that it doesn't hurt to look at the stock that hangs out behind.

Keep it up random coupon depositors!  Thanks for the Christmastime tip!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Perler Bead Yoda

I needed to make Hubs his yearly Christmas ornament.  I found the pattern for Master Yoda on Pinterest and changed it a hair.  Now, all I have to do is to string some ribbon through his head and we'll be good to go! His clothes glow in the dark, but wouldn't you know, his light saber doesn't.  Rrr!

The Girl Party: K's birthday party #1.

Birthday party #1 is done.  We have survived.  Everyone came out happy and well-fed.

We had just your average at-home girl party with some crafts in the basement and "bars" of several in the kitchen.  We started out with a make-your-own-pizza bar.  I bought some pizza shells, pizza sauce, pineapple and pepperoni (name brand!) at the Dollar Tree.  I mean, two personal shells for a dollar (the size of a salad plate) is not a bad deal!  We had a salad bar, partially compliments of the Christmas Tea of Sunday.  We also had a Sundae Bar.  The Sundae Bar was filled with all sorts of movie theater boxes of candy, some homemade brownies, a couple of syrups, sprinkles, marshmallows and Cool Whip.

The kids crafted, they ate and we re-acquainted ourselves with how to fold the blasted cootie catchers.  (I had to excuse myself and consult Pinterest.  None of us could get it flipped the right way, but now we know.)

Most. Laid. Back. Party. Ever.

Now, if we can only keep that tradition going.  My house wasn't even trashed!  Even Hubs was thrilled!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Taco Soup-- A recipe that I don't want to forget.

I served Taco Soup at my Christmas Tea.  It may not be a very tea-like soup, but it was danged good.  It was so good that I'm going to write it down here before I forget.  You see, I went to one of those female obligation parties where food is had and sold and whatnot.  I purchased the Taco Soup and the Sea Salt Caramel Brownies.  Now, I could live without the brownies for a few different reasons.  First off, they had no actual sea salt.  Hmm.  I'm thinking that the name suggested and all.  Thankfully, my MIL just gave me a sea salt grinder.  Secondly, the caramel provided was nearly impossible to work with.  Thirdly, the brownies didn't wow me.  The soup, however, wow'd everyone.  I was disappointed when I opened the soup mix and thought, "I paid $7 for that?  I have the ingredients in my house!"  Besides, I had to add an extra taco seasoning, because the original package didn't have enough flavor.  With all that, here is my version of a more affordable Taco Soup.

Taco Soup 
A cup or so of holiday soup mix beans, soaked overnight.  -- You know the kind with 12-15 types of beans in there.  Too lazy to count the beans listed out on my bulk bean label.
A pound of 93% fat free ground turkey.  You could use beef if beef is your thing.
1 can of whole kernel corn with water
1- 14 oz  can of diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 bag of matchstick carrots
2 packages of taco seasoning
3 cups of water
A couple of cranks with the sea salt grinder and of the pepper grinder 
Pre-cook your meat, then add the rinsed beans (that you left soak overnight,) a regular size can of corn with the water (don't drain,) the diced tomatoes (don't drain,) the carrots, 2 packages of taco seasoning, water and salt and pepper.  Bring it to a boil, then simmer for 1-2 hours.  Do not cook in a crock-pot or slow cooker.  
Voila!  Done!

People raved.  Not that I mean to toot my own horn, but it was dang good!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The friends and family Christmas Tea

Today K and I hosted our Friends and Family Christmas tea.  This past week has been a whirlwind of way too much stuff.  I had a realization, confirmed by a best friend and my husband, that I had grossly overbooked myself.  

Never fear, my peeps were here. My husband and K kicked in and helped. 

The whirlwind started Thanksgiving week.  My sister and I entered the bowels of holiday retail on Black Friday (12 midnight, so it was FRIDAY) and came out victorious.  That lead to home, a nap and onward to the tree.  I admit that I was a wee swidge tuckered and since Hubs was still playing with lights hours later, K and I decided that Saturday would be a better day.  We spent all day Saturday decorating.  With a tree as full as mine, you can't bust it out in an hour and breaks are most definitely NOT an option.  We chipped away at it all day, as well as Thanksgiving leftovers and we had the house complete by the end of the day.  Sunday took us on a road trip to Frankenmuth, MI to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland.  We also stopped by Bass Pro in Toledo and Cabela's in Dundee, Michigan.  I worked M-W.  I also had a PTA board meeting on Wednesday morning and one on Thursday morning.  I had a date with my book fair chair/best friend to go to the Scholastic Warehouse sale to purchase books for the Birthday Book Club at school.  We had 66 books or so to purchase and they all needed to be hardbound.  We were able to bust that out and rock our way back to school.  I was at school for the day, because -- well, it just worked out that way.  Friday started with me and my weekly cleaning, but a bit more pressed to do so because of the tea.  I worked the Scholastic Warehouse sale breakdown, and was paid in a sweet pile of books.  Never mind that I rolled one of the big ole fat case carts over the inside of my book.  :S  I went back to school and helped set up Santa Shop until 8 PM.  I ended up back at school Saturday morning at 7:30 AM and was there for Winter Wonderland/Santa Shop until 2 PM.  I ran home, baked Sea Salt Caramel Brownies for Hubs' work Christmas party, cooked up the meat for the soup, got ready and hauled out for said party.  We got back and I started setting up for the tea, but decided that curling up on the couch with my cell alarm set for early was a better option over pressing on.  On came this morning.  Hubs was kind enough to bring my giant haul of Christmas dishes up from the basement and we readied for the tea until it was time to get ready for church.  We were the Advent readers this morning, we listened to the Cantata and skipped Sunday School in order to come home and continue with preparations.  

My people are so kind to help me do this.  Truly kind.  

I realize that I had the option of ironing the table cloths, but had no time.  Ignore that, please.  

The table that my sister and I sit at.  My niece gave me a cookie jar last year and the poinsettia looked so good next to it, that I decided that putting it into it wasn't such a bad idea. 

The kid table.  I found them wonderful foam craft house kits last year at Michael's for 90% off.  K has enjoyed putting hers together tonight.

The mama table.  The boys across the street loaned some table linens to me and I thought this one was a delightful touch.  My dessert stand was waiting for the other desserts to arrive.  You see, I make a soup and a giant salad, while the guests bring a small dessert.  Believe me when I tell you that we had more than enough dessert.  

Everyone had a delightful time.  We ate.  We talked.  We all sat and relaxed.  

After the tea K took my MIL to see her hamster and he had become a dearly departed.  While yes, her fundraiser prize hamster had taken his last breath some time before.  She asked that I call Hubs to let him know.  (He was at his parent's house watching football with his dad.)  "Do you want me to come home?"  "Yes, we need you."  We had a proper burial for him in the backyard.  He's in now what has become our pet cemetery.  :(  He was a good little hamster and again real soon, we'll have another.  

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Listening to what you are listening to.

I'll start out by saying that I'm feeling a bit tangential.  This may make no sense to anyone but me and I'm not certain as to exactly how the flow will go, but hang out if you'd like.

My husband's life is music.  He eats, he breathes and he sleeps music.  I swear this to you.  He'll go through phases.  He'll watch documentaries and start listening to the bands that his bands say are influences.  No offense to Styx, but I'm glad that particular phase has passed.  :shutter:  His passion (addiction) has taught me something-- listen to what you are listening to.

I've mentioned before that our bed was handcrafted in Amish country.  We ordered it and waited 6 months because Hubs needed it made to accommodate his CD collection that is under our bed.  He has pull-out plastic bins with wheels and trimmed down swimming noodles between the rows of CDs to keep them from all banging into each other.  He cleans them.  He cares for them.

I drive him crazy with mine.  I'm not so tidy and OCD about my CDs.  At all.

He buys CDs as opposed to bypassing and copying because he wants to support the band.  His stand is that the bands aren't making a whole lot of money, but they do make money with merchandise sales.  Not all he purchases are new.  He does purchase some used CDs, but he is supporting a small business with that.  Liner sheets and CD art are romantic to my husband.  He loves the feel of the CD in his hand.  He enjoys reading whatever it is the band wrote and included inside.

My husband is a bit of a rock and roll savant.  He can tell you who produced what, who was in what group, what group morphed into what and so on.  He could be very best friends with Sam Dunn or Eddie Trunk.

At any rate, I've been on a bit of a Pearl Jam and Jack White kick lately.  I've always had a love for Pearl Jam and Hubs has been faithful about supplying me with their CDs when they hit the resale rack at his favorite establishment.

When the Pearl Jam Twenty documentary came out, I got to see it in bits and pieces, but not in full.  I can tell you that I ended up until about midnight watching it last night.  I find that band documentaries always give me a new appreciation for the band.  That's kind of what they are designed to do.  With bands like Pearl Jam, I appreciate the true artist of it all.  They are not making music just to have sound come out of speakers.  They are making music that they like to make and if people should happen to like it, too-- fantastic!

You fall into dreamy artist syndrome.  You have Eddie Vedder who is easy on the eyes anyhow, but the whole creativeness about him just makes him that much more dreamy.  :swoon:  You have people like Neil Peart and Jack White who are, by physical appearance, not that fetching to me. Then you throw into the mix their passion and intellect and my oh my.  You can't help to be enchanted by the depth of all their passion for what they do and how they are attempting not to make canned music that is radio-friendly, but rather things that are a bit chewy to make you think.

My husband's passion is death metal.  It is loud.  It has hair and teeth.  I have to tell you, having watched enough documentaries with him (in whole or in bits) they are truly in the same boat as the people that I enjoy.  Again, my husband is the one who has taught me to stop and listen to what I am listening to.

A few weeks back, I was on a run with The Lumineers.  I had found this delightful live performance and was telling Hubs about it.  Even he sat down and watched it with me.  In the video, The Lumineers are so basic with their instruments and space.  What comes out is so pure.

On my quest for musical knowledge and in-depth research (thanks Hubs!) I found an interview that Conan O'Brien had with Jack White.  I'm busy making my way through it.  Jack White talks all about people singing off tune, then hitting a button and magically everything is fixed.  Just as with photography and screwing around with settings and whatnot.  All of that takes the pureness out and you have doctored two dimensional work on the wall or music that sounds okay on a CD, but the live performance (my husband's take on the whole thing) suffers and sounds like crap since you have a bunch of people who can't play an instrument without the aid of Pro Tools.

Technology is great.  It can make things wonderful.  It can also be a hindrance and a cheat.  Listen to what you are listening to.  Can you really hear it?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Crunch, munch, a trip to the ortho and all is well.

I am not full of grace.  Well, God's grace is what I try to be full of, but physical grace is something that can allude me.  Take this summer for instance.

My left leg was swollen under the knee, and where the graft for my ACL hamstring endobutton reconstruction had gone on.  It was suspiciously close to where the staples are and I had a concern about hardware rejection.  (Mom had that, so it was of concern.)  A coworker who is also a massage therapist yelled at me for the way I was sitting (leg up under me) and after I stopped that, the leg gradually got better.

Then came September.

I had a want for ice cream and only in a fashion that I could manage, I got my leg closed in the freezer door at the grocery-- at the exact same place I had been having problems.  It swelled.  It bruised.  It hurt like no tomorrow.  I was convinced I made it angry.  It agreed when we went to Washington DC and my leg hurt so bad that I felt like it was going to explode.  I came home and made an appointment to go to the orthopedic surgeon.  Then like a car with a noise, my leg started feeling better.

Wouldn't it figure?

I still had a knot.  A goose egg-like knot where the freezer door shut.  Lumps and me don't get along.  They are a mystery that freak me out.

This past Thursday I went to the ortho guy.  He was delightful.  I was there for 2 hours and after all of that, I find that the freezer door closed right on the area of my bone that had been drilled for the graft to feed through.  I may have also nicked the corner of one of those staples.

No surgery needed!  Hooray!  I do have a lump.  A good sized lump that will be with me for a while.  He told me, "Well, I could go in if you want and remove it."

"If you aren't chomping at the bit to go digging around in my knee and tell me I'm fine, I'm good with it."

A $30 copay and an intensive bruising that will go away with time.  Yup.  Takes talent for sure.  :S

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Holiday Cookie Baking: A lost lid, oven flames and 5 pounds of baking soda.

I have a rather minuscule home.  I don't mind it.  I really don't.  I do have to store some baking pans in the oven.  In there I have my Pampered Chef stones.  I pulled the baking pans out, pulled the stones out, turned the oven on and went about my business.  I came back in a few minutes later, K working on getting baking things ready and I see flames-- flames in my oven.


Hubs is behind me yelling something.  K is starting to panic.

"I've got this.  No big deal."

Hubs kept yelling to put water on it.

"This isn't an electrical fire, but it is small and enclosed in the oven.  You don't want to put water on it.  I have baking soda.  It's all good." Y'all-- it took 5 lbs of baking soda to put it out.  I swear to you.  Hubs did make me put one glass of water on it.  By the way, it did nothing.

So what went aflame in the oven?  It was a 13 x 9" cake pan lid.  A plastic lid.  Stinky.

Once I got the fire out (and I do mean flames) I carted the oven rack outside and doused it with water to be extra certain I wasn't going to light any of the wet leaves on fire.  :S  It was easy to get out since when I was busy trying to put the fire out and calming K at the same time, Hubs was running around opening every window and door he could find.  The back door was propped open, the smoke detector screaming, K crying, Hubs insisting I use water and all the while, I stand there with the Rapunzel plastic drinking cup and a 13 1/2 pound bag of baking soda, flinging cupfuls of baking soda at the flames.

Good times.

We only lost the cake pan lid.  (K was rather distressed.  I told her it was better than burning the house down.  A lid is a lot easier to replace.  That's what Black Friday is for!)  I scraped the pounds of baking soda back out of the oven, Hubs swept it out with the shop vac and I wiped it all down.  We fired it back up as high as she could go with the oven door open so that we could burn the remaining plastic off of the element while the the winds would carry the evil plastic smell out.

I'm happy to announce that the cookies are baking just fine with no plastic smell lingering.  Well, that is until I place the involved rack back into the oven and rock it out in heat as high as I can make her roll.  Hubs saved it.  He pulled all of the plastic off that he could and scoured the rest with Scotch Brite.

I was that mom who used this as a teachable lesson to K.  "What do we do if there is a fire?"  "Don't panic and if it is small enough, the fire extinguisher or Mom's giant bag of baking soda may take you where you need to go.  If not, exit the house, call the fire department and let them take care of business."

For those of you wondering a few things-- I clean with baking soda, which is why I have such a large bag.  I also had the bag on my kitchen table from dough day yesterday.  You can purchase the Arm & Hammer 13.5 pound size at your local Sam's for around $4.00.  It's handy to have around!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Holiday Cookie Baking: Dough Day!

I looked deeply into my calendar and had a realization.  If I did not do holiday baking this weekend, there would be no solid string of days between now and December 26th to do it.

I'm not really about giving holiday cookies after the holidays.

We went to Amish Country last weekend to wrangle up the supplies.  I went to the store yesterday, then returned after signing K up for Archery league because I forgot a major ingredient.

Today is officially Dough Day.  What is Dough Day?  Well, I like to do one day of just making dough.  That way, I get all of the measurement and whatnot out of the way.  I'm able to concentrate on what the recipes call for instead of skipping between mixing, baking and cooling.  Tiredness made me goof once, so I'd like to avoid that.  It wasn't inedible.  I mistook mint extract for the vanilla extract and put that in chocolate/chocolate chip cookies.  Actually, it came out rather delightful.  Still, this method works for me.  One day dough.  One day bake.  Generally, I have a remaining day of packaging.  We'll see how that goes.

And yes, we have a chest freezer in the basement.

K has a test on Wednesday on measurement.  Today has been a test of measurement and a test in patience.  Neither one of us corner the market in the area of patience, so we've made two doughs and took a break.  Gone back, made two more doughs and took a break.

It should be said that our ginger dough needs to sit for 24 hours, so that is kind of where the true inspiration of dough day came from.

We've also made peanut butter dough, apple oatmeal craisin cinnamon chip dough, and thumbprint dough.  We have red hot sugar cookie dough to make, then onward to chocolate/chocolate chip (minus the mint this time.)  The Almost Candy Bars are not a sit-and-get-happy kind of dough, so we'll make those up tomorrow.

What we make this weekend is what we'll have.  I'm okay with that.  I didn't want to rush cookie baking, which is why it is getting done now.  Next up?  Addressing Christmas cards and making a little label for the backs of the cards.  I mail them out the day before Thanksgiving, so I have a week and a half yet to go.  I don't want to rush those, either.

I hear the Kitchenaid calling.  K is hovering so that she can get onto Webkinz while I do a bit of wreckage removal.  I mean, the child is laughing and staring the big greens right into my big brown eyeballs.

She is nearly sitting in my lap.  Pardon me.  I'm getting kicked out.

ETA:  Some of my recipes are here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

National Adoption Month: Adopted children do not come with gift receipts.

Disrupted adoptions are something that absolutely make my head spin.  Here is yet another example.  There was a comment from someone stating about how you don't know what these children were exposed to . . . she lived it and so on.  I agree.  You don't know.  What I do know is that when you go before the court (or fill out the paperwork) you agree to raise this child as if they were yours biologically.  The court and the court papers don't have a special "return policy" clause.

When you have a child by birth, you don't know how your child is going to be, behave or whatnot.  Truly.  You do the best you can and take the best care of yourself, but biological birth isn't a sure shot.  I'm just saying.

I'm friends with someone who adopted internationally.  Their child has RAD.  Believe me, I know issues that can come up.  K's brother has been diagnosed as ADD, OCD and Tourette's.  Holly refers to his diagnoses as "another layer to his onion" yet I can tell you that as much as L can be a pill, Holly and Joe have never considered 'giving him back.'  Heather and her husband haven't 'given' Lewi back either, but I admit that he has tested every boundary that they have set for him.

I've harped on this before.  Yes, yes-- I know.

Adopting children is something that you have to do from the core of your being.  (You should do that with birth children, too.)  It is true that you don't know the family history, the prenatal care . . . that went on.  When you choose to adopt, you choose to adopt the whole child, the wholeness that comes with them.  It is what it is.

It's not to say that the road is going to be one without bumps, hills and cliffs.  I know that both K's brother and Lewi have given their parents a run for their money.  Still, they are loved.

It is National Adoption Month.  Let's eliminate stories like this and give the kids as we promise to the courts and in all of the legalness of it -- a forever home.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Inside, outside, count of three and the ice cube flush.

The first snow!  (That would be my draining rain barrel at the end of the slide.)

Snow!  K tried the recipe for a snow day.  Actually, she combined all childhood tricks into one snow day stew pot.

1 pair of pajamas, worn inside out
1 ice cube, flushed down the toilet
1 spoon under the pillow

After she saw how the snow was progressing at 9:41 PM (well after bedtime, but her dad called K and me out to see the snow,) then she decided that a few more spoons wouldn't hurt.

She didn't get a snow day, but she did get snow.  She was thrilled!  Keep it coming, we say!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


It's official.  My daughter is now an acolyte for our Methodist church.  She was an acolyte for her first service this morning.  She did a great job!  I was teasing her about lighting the back drape on fire.  (No, she didn't!)  She was a little nervous.  Hubs and I even did a simultaneous (accidentally) big eye wink at her.  She was in front of the entire church and had to keep from laughing.  We did it one more time just to be hams.  ;)  My in-law's came and really enjoyed the service.  K was glad to have them there and so were we.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Washington D.C. Trip-- The photos

 The Vermeer at the National Gallery of Art (a cell picture)

Ceiling of the Natural History Museum 

 The 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer

The White House 

Metro- Foggy Bottom!  (My SIL kept saying Foggy Bottom and I asked her if it was a Tourette's-type syndrome that was making her Foggy Bottom and it just became the line we would belt out at random times throughout the trip.)  Sorry, grainy cell phone quality.

The view outside of my hotel window on marathon day.  The streets were blocked off by buses.  They don't mess around with little tiny barricades! 

The beginning of the Rosslyn Center clot o' folks I blogged about earlier.

Iwo Jima was around the corner from our hotel.  A grainy photo from my cell, but we didn't exactly expect to stop there.  We didn't know it was that close!

A close-up of a Tiffany window at the American Art Museum. 

This is as close as we got to the Capitol Building.

Air and Space sculpture out front.  

The girls skippity-doo-dah day!

The National Policemen's Memorial

Uncle John

Didn't realize that the wall was curved.  Made for an interesting time getting rubbings. 

Kristin wrote a note and deposited it on a beautiful wreath that was there.  

The Eisenhower Building that is next to . . . 

The White House.  This seemed to be the backside.  

The Jefferson Memorial is what Hubs said that this is.  We only got to see it at a distance. 

WWII Memorial

Map of the National Mall

Hubs' shadow on the Vietnam Memorial

K's reflection on the Vietnam Wall

Lincoln, of course!

We hung out for the changing of the guard and for a wreath laying ceremony.

The amphitheater that sits just ahead of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The six of us.  Kristin opted out of Arlington because of needing to rest up for the run the next day.

The President's helicopter!

Marine Corps Band

Hubs waiting for his sister.  K's head is at the bottom left. 

Kristin high-fiving her husband.

"Won't you run with me?"


"There is a man with a machine gun and did you check out those Marines over there?  I can't!"

The marathon after-party in Rosslyn.  I tell you, they shut that joint down!

Another cell picture.  On our way through Reagan National to TSA.  I did get busted for trying to take through unopened Coke and bottles of water.  Snap.  

It was a wonderful trip and we consider ourselves blessed to have been given this opportunity to enjoy forever.  My kiddo is quite a history buff.  We all loved it, but especially K!