Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 13 - Mom and the Wendy's Napkin

Wow!  That's a boring picture!  But the sight of a Wendy's napkin will always remind me of my mom.

I don't have that many specific Christmas related memories of Mom.   About all I do remember is her being frantic and exhausted.   When I was 10-ish, we changed the family tradition from eating a big fancy Christmas Eve dinner at my grandparents to having it at our house.  So Mom had that to deal with.  And when I was a child, Santa decorated our tree.  Christmas Eve morning, we'd put it up and put the lights on, but Santa put all the decorations on.  And there were a LOT of decorations!  There were plenty of Christmas mornings when I'd get up and be excited because Mom was already up and in the bathroom.  What I didn't realize is that she was in there brushing her teeth before she went to bed, not because she'd just gotten out of bed.

Christmas day involved opening gifts and Mom fixing a real breakfast.  Christmas day was the only day she ever cooked breakfast.  The other 364 days of the year we ate toast or frozen waffles or cereal.  After our big breakfast, we'd head out to my cousin's for a big lunch then back to our house for what Mom called our "Thank God It's Over!" party.  That gathering was very casual.  We'd have soup and ham biscuits, a few deserts and what ever other people brought.  Anyone and everyone was invited, and folks were encouraged to show up in their bedroom slippers.  But even though that party was casual, Mom used the good china.  There was a lot of clean-up involved.  No wonder she was always frantic and exhausted!

So, what does a Wendy's napkin have to do with it?  Well, let's see if I can explain without making myself sound like a horrible, horrible person.

A few years ago, my healthy as a horse mom had her first heart "episode" just before Halloween.  She spent a week in the hospital, was sent home, had a week there and was sent back to the hospital.  This time, 8 days in the hospital, and home for 4.  Next time it was 10 days in the hospital, 3 days at home.  This went on and on until just before Christmas.  We all knew that she was dying, but the doctors were determined to keep her alive through Christmas.   Mom seemed to be ok with her fate.  She was nervous about dying, but not of death.  She was worried about being in pain, but she was confident of her place in Heaven.  She was also in her upper 80's and had outlived the majority of her friends and had recently lost her sight.  Mentally, she was ready.

A day to two before her last trip to the hospital, she'd had a cancerous spot on her leg removed.  That doctor sent her home with instructions to change the bandage daily.  A few days later, she had another episode that landed her back in the hospital.  The admitting doctor knew that this was her last trip in and they didn't write up the orders to change that bandage.  My mom was obsessed with that bandage being changed though and during one of my & my sister's visits, Mom began to rant about it.  My sister, being the good daughter that she is, took it upon herself to fix the problem.  We didn't have access to a Bandaid, but we did have a Wendy's napkin.  Cary, my sister, replaced the dirty bandage with the Wendy's napkin and some Scotch tape that happened to be in the room.  That napkin stayed taped to Mom's leg for days.

On Christmas Eve morning, Mom was sounding chipper over the phone.  The family, minus Mom, got together at my sisters for dinner as we do every year.  After dinner, my sister packed up a few left-overs and we all headed to the hospital to visit Mom.  When we got there, it was obvious that she wasn't so chipper anymore.  It looked like she'd recently suffered a stroke.  She was able to say "Hi folks" when we walked in, but those were the last words she ever said.
Another family tradition we have is reading The Night Before Christmas.  It has been read to my mother, to me and to my kids every year of our lives.  Tradition says the oldest male reads it.  Since my dad's death, that means my brother-in-law gets the honor.  He'd brought the book to the hospital and we all gathered around Mom for the reading.  Somehow, the nursing staff found out what was getting ready to happen and they all gathered around Mom's hospital door.  A few on-call doctor's joined in and even a few patients in wheel chairs.  There was quite the gathering outside Mom's door.  I think it took about two hours to read the poem because everyone was crying so hard.  We kept having to pause to collect ourselves.

After the reading, everyone but my sister and I left the hospital.  My sister and I had decided to spend the night.  Mom wasn't expected to make it through the night and we wanted to be there with her.  At 5:24 a.m. on Christmas morning, Mom quietly passed away.  As we were leaving the hospital for the final time, my sister and I realized that Mom still had that Wendy's napkin taped to her leg.  Between the exhaustion and the emotion of loosing our mother, we were a little slap-happy and we both fell into hysterical giggling fits laughing at what the morgue would think.

So, for the rest of my life, a yellow Wendy's napkin will always bring a bitter sweet smile to my face.  Merry Christmas, Mom.  I love and miss you more than I ever thought possible.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 12 - Merry Marital Bliss

After we had our first child, I decided to leave the work force and stay home with him.  I had a little trouble adjusting to being home with a newborn.  I loved spending time with my child, but I missed the social aspects of going to work each day, not to mention the paycheck.  And now that I look back, I realize that I was probably having some hormonal, “baby blues” problems too.  In an effort to cheer me up, my dear sweet husband gave me a diamond tennis bracelet for Christmas.  A bracelet I’d always wanted, but one we could NOT afford.  Without telling him I was going to do it, I returned the bracelet and replaced it with the cheapest thing the store had in stock - a plain gold wedding band.  I then went to the bank and made a couple of mortgage payments with the refunded money.  I was scared to death to tell Mike what I’d done, but it turns out he was pretty relieved.  He said that he’d gotten a rather sick feeling the moment he’d walked out of that store with the bracelet.  So, now, I wear the cheap wedding ring every day with pride.   Merry Christmas, Mike.  I love you!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 11 -

This is not the prettiest ornament I have but if the stories are correct, it belonged to my great grandmother, which makes it close to, if not more than, 100 years old.  The face is made of wax while the clothes are velvet.  I’m not sure if it’s handmade or not.  The clothing looks like it probably is, but the detail in the face makes me wonder.     My grandmother was quite artistic though, so perhaps her mother was too.  Anyway, even though this one creeps me out a little, it’s proudly hung on our tree each year.
I never knew my great grandmother, but my grandmother is one of those people who, when I think of them, a zillion different memories zoom through my brain.  There were the summers I spent with her at the river, there was her famously bad driving, there was the story about her sliding down the steps on a crib mattress, and the story of her chasing a bat around the inside of her house.  And her house, I'll never forget the way her house smelled.  Sort of a perpetual essence of baked macaroni and cheese.  

Merry Christmas, Ti.  I miss you!

#10 - Liza

I love this little ornament.  I loved it more when it still had the little red bow that was tied around the top.  A dear friend, Liza, gave me this beachy ornament as a reminder of all the fun we’d had together in Key West.  Liza used to live there and I had many fun and exciting visits.  I liked this ornament so much that I made several and gave them as gifts the following year.  

Liza made me another ornament before she passed away.  This one is very simple but I’ve always loved it.  It’s huge and does a fantastic job filling in that hole that every tree seems to have, plus the gold paint does a great job of reflecting the tree’s lights.

I have so many wonderful memories of Liza I could overflow the internet if I tried to include them all.  Luckily for you, & the internet's storage capacity, many of those memories include things I wouldn't necessarily want my family, children or prospective employers to know about so I won't list them all here.  Liza and I met in secretarial school.  On that fateful first day of school, we each noticed the other from across the room and instantly took a dislike to each other.   I thought she was the most uppity prepster I'd ever seen.  She looked like a walking watermelon in her preppy pink & green dress with her pink & green hair bow.  An actual bow for goodness sakes!  She instantly thought I was the biggest snob she'd ever seen.  By the end of the day, we were best friends and inseparable. 

A few years after we'd graduated, Liza moved to Key West.  It wasn't long before she became slightly homesick.  I have no idea how she could possibly be homesick in that setting, but....  In any event, we wrote each other letters frequently.  And yes, I'm showing my age.  This was all waaaaay before the internet.  There were certain things Liza missed.  Things like fall leaves, the smell of woodsmoke on the crisp fall air, snow of course, and Wendy's hamburgers.  There wasn't a Wendy's in the Keys back then, in fact, I don't remember there being any fast food places at all.  Being the excellent friend that I was, I mailed her care packages every now and then.  I included things like pretty fall leaves, a piece of charred & burnt wood,  and a jar of snow, which I bet wasn't snow by the time it reached her.  And of course, yes, you guessed it - a Wendy's hamburger.  She in turn mailed me things like sand, sea shells and dead fish & a sea urchin.  I'm sure the postal service enjoyed delivering our packages!  LOL

I decided to share that memory because I just received an unexpected package from another friend, Kate, who I've already mentioned here.  Although there was nothing dead or stinky in it, receiving Kate's package reminded me of Liza.  In fact, Kate reminds me a bit of Liza.  They are both incredibly kind & giving people.  Neither of them ever have an unkind word to say about anyone and they always have a smile on their face.  Liza's life was cut way too short, but her memory lives on in the hearts of many.
Merry Christmas, Liza!  And a Merry Christmas to you too, Kate.  I LOVE my GU!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 9 - Strange Gifts

Fara was/is a fellow homeschooling mom and dear friend.  Her kids have long since graduated and we don’t see as much of each other as we used to but we continue to keep in touch via email.  However, Fara occasionally sends me the absolute best gifts via snail mail.  Her gifts are always strange, but very thoughtful.  One year, she sent me a six pack of Coke in the small, green bottles.  Happy Holidays, Fara!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 8 - The Birds

Another Daddy memory.  Dad had a set of bird ornaments from his youth and as a child, they always freaked me out a bit.  Why, I have no idea, but I did not like those birds.  Besides this red one, there was a slightly smaller glittery silver one and an even smaller gold metallic one.  The gold one sits on a small metal spring so it wiggles just a bit.  Maybe that metallic bird sitting on the tree & wiggling slightly is what bothered me so much - I really don't know.  Now, they don't bother me at all.  They aren't my favorites, but they don't scare me like they used to.  Anyway, they were Dad's, he loved them so they continue to go on the tree each year.

And since it's snowing today, and snow always makes me think of my dad, I'll tell of another Daddy story.  Dad worked for VDOT - "the Highway Department" back then.  Dad had many duties, mainly supervising the building of certain stretches of the highways.  But Dad also served "snow duty."  Whenever it snowed, Dad always took a turn driving either a plow or a sand truck.

I grew up respecting the folks that cleared the roads.  While others would be complaining about the conditions of the roads, I was thanking those men that spent long, cold shifts working in blinding snow, sleet or freezing rain trying to maintain the roads.  While others complained about their cars being hit by sand & salt as they passed a sand truck, I heard my dad telling stories of how dangerous those passing cars are for the snow plows.  Stories of the plows & sand trucks being run off the road by out of control cars.  I cannot tell you how many times I heard the lecture about how if the people would just stay off the roads for a few hours, the highway department could do their jobs much easier and quicker.

But to get to the funny story....  It was the winter after my sixteenth birthday, and I know it was that year because I'd received a phone in my room as a birthday gift.  Having my own phone, a pretty white Princess phone,  was a big deal back then.  Anyway, it was the first night-time snow fall of the year.  The phone rang during the night, I promptly answered it, mumbled "hello" then shoved the receiver under my pillow and went back to sleep.  It wasn't too much later when the blue lights started flashing outside our house and someone began to bang, quite loudly, on our front door.  The State Police had been called out to come rouse Dad.  The phone call had been from the highway department calling Dad up for snow duty.  When they didn't reach him, they sent the police.   After giving me a quick, but stern talking to, Dad was off to duty.

Another time, Dad returned home from snow duty around 3:00 a.m.  He pulled into the alley because State trucks, which he drove, were not allowed to be parked on the city streets.  Dad promptly got stuck in the snow.  He called for a plow to come give him a push.  The plow, with it's yellow flashing lights showed up, started to push and then it became stuck.  A sand truck was called.  Meanwhile, a local city police cruiser had come along, seen what was going on and stopped - with it's lights going.  Eventually, the sand truck was able to get all the vehicles un-stuck and they went on their way, but not before every single house in the entire neighborhood had been awakened by all the flashing lights.  

Merry Christmas, Dad.  While I sure miss you, I'm awfully glad you aren't out on the roads risking life & limb in a snow plow.  Although, honestly, I think you secretly enjoyed it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 7 - Dad & the Angel

My dad gave me this angel in 1983, I think it was.  It was to celebrate my first tree in my first apartment.  Personally, I think the angel is pretty ugly as angels go - it’s got red glitter on it & the cardboard cone under her skirt shows.   I’m sure Dad bought it at the local drug store while making a cigarette run.  And Dad was color blind and insisted the red glitter was blue and that it looked like snow.  But I don’t care how ugly the angel is or how much Dad spent on her.  She’ll always be special to me because my dad picked it out himself.  
I have a totally different Christmas memory of Dad as well.  Dad and his Christmas lists.    I loved Dad’s lists. You could buy everything on it for under $5.  And it was detailed!  He would not only ask for a certain size nail or screw, but he’d ask for a certain number of them.  He’d have a project in mind and know that he needed eight screws and that’s what he’d ask for.  And you better bloody well not buy nine because that would be wasteful!  Index cards were another thing on the list.  Almost every year he asked for index cards.   Some Number 2 pencils and a package of pipe cleaners  were normally on the list as well.  The pipe cleaners had to be a special kind though - they weren’t the fuzzy, crafty kind.  Each year it became more & more difficult to locate the kind he wanted which added a bit of excitement to shopping for Dad.  And then there was the year he bought himself a Dremel.  That year, he asked for a couple of attachments for it.  It was also the year I’d met my husband-to-be.  We had more fun going from store to store trying to locate the attachments.  Back then, Dremels were new and not so popular and not many places carried a variety of parts for them.  So now, not only do I think of my dad every year when I see someone’s Christmas list but also each time my husband drags me off to Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 6 - Gloating

Yesterday, I was reminded of a tradition my sister and I used to have.  My kids were comparing stocking size.  Who had the biggest?  Zack’s is wider but Sarah’s is slightly longer.  They duked it out for a while and even got their father involved in the measurements.  The argument came to a close when Sarah announced that it didn’t matter if hers looks slightly smaller, hers always contains better gifts.  And with that, she stomped off.  Argument over.
My sister & I didn’t compare stockings, we compared gifts.  Specifically, the size of the gifts.  We didn’t care if one of us got more than the other, or the cost of the gifts.  We simply wanted long gifts.  As soon as the presents started piling up, we’d start gloating.  We’d draw a starting line on the living room carpet, and start lining our gifts up end to end.  Who ever had the longest line of gifts won.  We’d do this daily.  Sometimes multiple times a day.  And while we may have dreamed of receiving ear rings for Christmas, we asked for brooms, mops, yard sticks or hoola-hoops.  Anything that might give us an edge to the Gloat.
Merry Christmas, Cary!

And Santa, I wouldn't mind receiving some grout around the fireplace tiles.  :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 5 - Leroy

Meet Leroy.  My sister is ten years older and when I was somewhere between six and ten, she bought me a wooden Christmas ornament kit to paint.  This was one of the ornaments and it became my father's favorite.  Dad named him Leroy and Leroy always had to be hanging on the tree so that he was clearly visible from Dad's chair.  I have no idea why Dad liked this particular ornament so much.  Maybe I'd attached it to Dad's gift so it was officially "his."  Or not.  I really don't remember.  I just remember how funny Dad was about insisting he be able to see Leroy.  Now, Leroy has become as important to me, if not more so, because he reminds me of my dad.  Merry Christmas, Dad.  I miss you!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 4

This ornament was handmade by Don Garber back in the 80’s.  I worked for Don in the audit department of Virginia Federal Savings & Loan.  As I recall, Don’s life centered around turkey hunting - with a bow.  I have no idea where he is or what he’s doing these days, but each time I see this ornament, I think of him and how much I enjoyed working with him.

And in case you are wondering about the fuzzy photo, it's a mouse sleeping in a nut shell.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 3 of 30

My kids call Kate (on the right) my imaginary friend.  I met her through http://www.sparkpeople.com/, a wonderful, free, healthy lifestyle website.  Kate lives on the West Coast but was here on the East Coast for a visit last Christmas.  I was so excited to get to meet her in person.  We didn’t get to spend much time together, she was passing through Virginia on her way to somewhere else.  In a blizzard.  But even with the weather, she took the time to meet up with me.  I’ll always thank Kate for her gift of time, not to mention what she’s done for my running.  But that’s a whole other blog. Even though we’ve only spent about 15 minutes face to face, our friendship has developed on line and we’ve become close, like sisters.  Kate encourages me to live a healthier life.  She encourages me to eat healthier and she encourages me to run.  It is Kate's voice I hear telling me to suck it up and get on with it when I know I should run but don't feel like it.  It is Kate's smile I picture while I'm running and it is Kate's voice I hear lecturing me when I'm injured but want to run anyway.   Merry Christmas, Kate!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 2 of 30 Christmas Memories

Each year, my in-laws have visited Florida and brought us back a crate of tomatoes.  It is always wonderful to have fresh tomatoes in December.  Unfortunately, my father-in-law passed away a few years ago, but the tomato tradition lives on.  Thanks and Merry Christmas, Irene!  And, Rex, we miss you!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday multi-tasking

I've been plugging along, working on my 101 in 1001 goals.  It may not look like I've accomplished much from looking at my list over there on the side of this page, but I have been focusing on those goals.  I've committed an hour a day to working on them.  Some days I might spend the entire hour on one item, some days I spend a few minutes on multiple goals and some days I spend a lot more than one hour working on the list.

If you notice, one of the items on the list is to post a photo to this blog every day for 30 days.  I've been a little worried about that one.  What on earth am I going to photograph?  I can only imagine how bored we'd all be if I took 30 photos of the dogs sleeping or the kids playing video games.  I thought about photographing my cooking attempts but I doubt seriously you want to see that either.  Plus, I have a hard enough time cooking.  I can only imagine the disasters I'd create if I was trying to take pictures as I went.  So, what to photograph?

How about photographing Christmas memories?  Each year when I pull out the Christmas decorations, I have my own personal walk down memory lane.  Almost every ornament and/or decoration reminds me of someone or something.  So, what if I photograph the ornaments?  That might be a good idea.  There are a few important people in my life that don't relate to a specific ornament, however.   I wouldn't want to leave anyone out so for those folks, I'll just throw in a photo of something that reminds me of them.  

So, in no particular order....

The above is a beautiful wreath given to me by my friends, the Mount family.  Their son, Logan, made it and the wreath always hangs on our back door.  While it sounds like it's not getting much of a place of honor, it actually is.  The washing machine is right there beside that door and I spend an awful lot of time at the washing machine.  During the Christmas holidays, I have the opportunity to think of my friends while I do the laundry.   Merry Christmas, Mounts!


Uh-oh!  I might be in some serious trouble.  I think I've learned to bake bread from scratch.  My inability to make edible bread has been a major source of irritation for me for years.  My dad used to make homemade rolls and it looked so simple, and they tasted so divine!  My attempts at rolls have always been disastrous.  Instead of nice, soft rolls, I make hockey pucks.  Even when I made the dough with the bread machine, I ended up with small, hard, unrisen hockey pucks.  Over the years, I've attempted to make loaves of bread as well as rolls with basically the same result.  Instead of small hockey pucks, my loaves turn into bricks.

I recently discovered a book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/  The theory behind their recipe(s) is that you make a huge batch of unkneaded dough, stick it in the refrigerator and over the next two weeks, you cut chunks of dough off and bake it.  Simple.  Making the dough really was a breeze.  Stir together some water, a lot of flour, a little salt & yeast and presto!  Dough!  It literally took me longer to gather the few ingredients than it did to make the dough.  I stuck the dough in the fridge and the next day, I cut off a chunk and baked.  And...

Bread!  Ok, it's a little small.  I needed to use a larger chunk of dough, but the point is, I got bread!  Yummy, delicious bread.  And best of all, I still have a great big Tupperware container of dough in the fridge just waiting to be baked.  I can have fresh, warm, yummy delicious, homemade bread again today!   I might be in serious trouble.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My new obsession with knitting lace...

Finally!  I finally finished a lace knitting project.  I have been trying for years and years it seems but I always either screw it up so badly it's not worth fixing, or I give up on it because it's 'too hard' and takes too much concentration.  But not this time.  This time, I actually finished two projects within days of each other.  I loved knitting both of these items.  While I did have to pay attention to what I was doing, I didn't begin to have the struggles I've had with past lace attempts.  I find myself wondering why.  I wonder if the fact that I'm eating so much healthier is affecting my brain and allowing me to do more difficult tasks.  I also wonder if the running has calmed me to the point that I can stay focused on something difficult.  Or, perhaps, I've finally matured a bit.  Nah, probably not.

Ok, once again, I seriously need to take a photography class.

But there they are.  A shawl and a scarf.  In the above picture, they are being blocked.  I was a bit terrified of the blocking process but it turned out to be a lot of fun.  It was absolutely amazing how a shawl that was only about three feet wide at it's widest point grew into something about six feet wide and the weird lumps along the edges turned into points.  Very cool.

Here's a little detail:

The pattern is the Meadow Flowers Shawl from Knitters Stash http://www.amazon.com/Knitters-Stash-Favorite-Patterns-Americas/dp/1883010896   The yarn is Gloss Lace in the Sterling colorway from KnitPicks.  http://www.knitpicks.com/yarns/Gloss_Lace_Yarn__D5420172.html    And, I noticed as I posted that link, that a few of the colors are currently on sale.  Awesome, because I'd really like to knit that pattern again.

The scarf was knit with Wildfoote Luxury Sock Yarn in the Purple Splendor colorway.   http://www.brownsheep.com/wls.htm   

The pattern came from The New Knitting Stitch Library  http://www.amazon.com/Knitting-Stitch-Library-Easy-Follow/dp/1579900275  I simply added a garter stitch border to the pattern and voila!  A scarf.  I used two skeins of yarn and it worked out perfectly!  I finished knitting the border repeat and had just enough yarn left to knit the final garter border.  When I was finished, I didn't even have enough yarn left to knit one more row.  

As I said, I thoroughly enjoyed knitting both of these items and I'm now totally obsessed with knitting lace.  Too bad I don't have anymore lace weight yarn in my stash pile.  Sounds like I need to go on a shopping trip!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November 24, 2010

Great blog title, huh?  Guess I'm feeling a bit uncreative today.


I finally finished reading Eat, Pray, Love.  Or is it Eat Pray Love, without the commas?  What ever.  I finally finished it and am glad I stuck with it.  I thoroughly enjoyed the Love part, mainly because of the varied and kooky characters the author met while in Bali.  I'm not sure what I'll read next.  Probably either one of the many Philippa Gregory books on my list or Point Blank.  After struggling through Eat Pray Love, I feel the need for a quick, fun read.  The Gregory books aren't what I'd call "quick & fun" but I have very much enjoyed all of her books that I've read so far.  Point Blank looks like it would probably be a very quick read, but because of that, I'm thinking I might save it for when the Christmas Madness is threatening to destroy me.  But then, do I really want to have my nose buried in a book for 24 hours straight during Christmas Madness?  Decisions, decisions.

In other news, tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  How on earth did it get to be Thanksgiving already?  I don't even feel like we had a summer this year.  How can it possibly be the end of November?  And how could summer have gone unnoticed when we had record breaking heat just about every day?  Maybe the heat is why I didn't notice it.  I stayed holed up inside the air conditioned house the whole time instead of enjoying my normal summer activities.  But no matter how I feel about it, there's no getting around it.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Which means today is baking day.

We go to my sister's for Thanksgiving every year so luckily, I don't have to worry about the turkey and all the trimmings.  I simply worry about desert.  And garlic biscuits.  Paula Deen's garlic biscuits to be exact.  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/garlic-cheese-biscuits-recipe/index.html
We love these biscuits & I have to triple the recipe.  My son and I eat the first 12 straight off the baking sheet when they are still so hot we end up with "pizza burn" in our mouths.  The remaining two dozen get eaten at the Thanksgiving table and there are rarely any left overs.  And if there are a few stragglers left in the serving dish, my niece claims them and takes them home with her.

As for desert, I'll be making the traditional chocolate cake with mocha icing, pecan pie muffins and a pumpkin pie.  I'm not sure if the pecan pie muffins will actually be a desert or another bread to serve with dinner.  I've never made them before but I'm intrigued with their name, they look awfully easy & I just happen to have all the ingredients on hand, so....  Here's a link if you'd like to check them out:  http://www.livingonadime.com/pecan-pie-muffins/    The pumpkin pie is at my husband's request and the chocolate cake is basically for my sister & I.  The cake recipe comes from my grandmother.  I remember her making it for special occasions when I was a child and I was SO excited when I came across her recipe while looking through the family records.  I'll post the cake recipe one of these days when I'm in need of blog fodder.   But for now, it's time for me to go destroy my kitchen.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Destroy the Joy

I sure am having a hard time reading these days and I wonder why.  Is it because I hate to be told what to do and I made that list of 101 things and put, "read the books I already own but have never gotten around to reading" on it?  Or is it that I'm just not enjoying the book I'm currently reading?   Normally, I love to read, but I really don't like to be told what to read.  I once joined a fantastic book group.  The other women involved were great, the books tended to be books I wanted to read, and the food was always excellent.  But from the very first month of joining, I could not force myself to read.  Not even the newspaper.  I finally quit the group after failing to read the book of the month four times in a row.  And promptly went back to obsessive reading.

So, knowing my history makes me wonder.  I'm I struggling to read Eat, Pray, Love because it's on my list or because I just don't like the book that much?  I sort of enjoyed the Eat part.  It took place in Italy and made me want to learn Italian and visit Italian restaurants.  The Pray part seemed to drone on and on and on.  I'd finally decide that life is too short to waste time reading something so boring.  I'd decide to quit reading the book as soon as I got to the end of the chapter and Bam!  The author would write something that moved me or gave me one of those light bulb moments about my own life and I'd decide to keep reading.  After all, it may get better.  What if I've struggled this far through the book and the last part is where it gets really good?  I wouldn't want to miss out on the fun.

I sure hope it doesn't take me another two weeks to get through the Love part though.  At this rate, I'll never make my goal of reading 89 books in 1001 days.  Specially since Eat, Love, Pray is one of the thinner books.  Which is why I chose it to read next.  Well, that and the fact that it happened to be laying on the floor next to the couch when I finished my previous book.

And that leads me to realize that rather than worrying about what I'm reading, I should really be working on that goal of "getting the house clean and keeping it that way."

Monday, November 15, 2010

101 Goals Update

Wow.  I can't get over how motivating having that list of 101 goals to accomplish in 1001 days is.  While I haven't fully accomplished many goals yet, I've been steadily working on small parts of many of them.  I think this 101 goals project is going to fit my personality quite nicely.  I love making lists and checking tasks off as they are completed.  I get a real sense of accomplishment seeing all those little check marks add up.  But, I'm also immature enough to hate being told what to do.  I hate "having" to do something and I'll drag my feet and kick and scream and do pretty much anything to avoid doing what I "have" to do.  But by having 101 goals and the huge, long list of Next Action items that goes along with it, I experience the best of both worlds.  I have a list, I get to check things off and I have plenty of options to choose from.  There is nothing on that list that "has" to be done today.  I'm really liking my list.

And having said that, I can go check off, "Blog at least once a week."  Yay.

If you think you might be interested in starting your own list, visit http://101goalsin1001days.com/about/ for the details.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

101 Goals in 1001 Days

In my constant search for the perfect way to get organized, I came across someone's blog that suggested working on 101 goals in 1001 days.  (http://101goalsin1001days.com/about/) The idea is that you create a list of 101 things you want to accomplish.  These goals should be challenging, but doable.  In other words, you wouldn't list doing the laundry and you wouldn't list becoming debt free if you currently owe over a million dollars.  You could, however, list paying off your Sears card and/or paying off your car.  

Once you have your list of 101 items, you then list the steps necessary to reach those goals.  Or at least the first step you need to take.  Depending on the item, you may not know all the steps.  After you've done that, you make a third list of "Next Action" items.  This becomes your master to-do list.  At least weekly, you should review your Next Action list and check off and add items.  You should always have at least one item on your Next Action list for each goal.  

I'm slightly worried about my list of 101 things.  That original blog I read and the other folks working on their own 101 goals who had linked to it all mentioned that they'd had a hard time coming up with 101 goals.  Me, I had no trouble.  In fact, I had to cut quite a few items.  Several of my goals probably aren't doable.  For instance, I want to read all the books I own that I've never gotten around to reading, and that's a lot of books.  I could list my goal as reading ten of them, but I figured I'd stay more motivated if I listed them all.  And, since I know up front that the goal is not very realistic, I won't be upset if I don't reach it.  Same thing for my yarn.  Another goal is to use up all the yarn I have stashed away.  Well, I could knit 24/7 and not use up all that yarn in the next 20 years.  But I can work towards reaching the goal.  And then there's the debt thing.  Since I'm currently unemployed, paying off my Sears card is about as likely to happen as becoming debt free, but debt free sounds great and you never know - I may win the lottery and be able to pay off all my creditors.  So, I'm listing becoming debt free.  It's something to strive for.

I'd also like to note that on the list you see here, many of the items are rather open ended.  Some things are that way because I don't really know what my goal is.  Take "learn more about i-Photo" for example. In this case, I simply don't know what it is that I don't know.  Hopefully by August 5, 2013, I'll know everything.  For "learn more about the computer," I have a whole great big list of things I want to learn but there simply wasn't room to list it all on the sidebar.  There's also a few items like "wash windows" and "replace light bulbs."  While those things may not be a challenge for you, they are for me.  They are things that have been on my to-do list for over a year.  Hopefully, by putting them on this list, they'll get done.

My plan is to list my 101 goals down the side of this blog and I'll indicate which ones have been completed.  So, in no particular order....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fun times at the DMV

Today was a big day in our household.  Z turned 15 & 6 months old today, and that means, Learner's Permit.  Z has been waiting for this day since his third birthday.  By the time he'd turned 10, he was calculating the number of months and he's been counting down the days for the last few years.

Was he ready?  Had he studied?  Not that I was aware.  We'd picked up the study guide a few months ago, but he never asked me to call him questions or help him study.  Whenever I asked him if he'd studied the book at all, his response was always that he had an app on his phone and had taken the quiz a couple of times and gotten most of them right.

So today, we arrived at DMV with me thinking we were probably wasting our time and Z thinking he'd sail through the test with no problem.   Z even dressed up for the occasion.  Which means he didn't wear his pants with chains all over them.   Of course, he didn't wear shoes either.

S tagged along for my moral support and to make fun of Z when he failed the test.  Nothing like sibling love.

I don't know how your DMV works, but here in Virginia, you go inside and stand in line to get a number then you go sit and wait a couple of hours for your number to be called.  It felt like we waited an hour to get our number, but it really wasn't all that long.  Just long enough for me to consider the reasons the DMV needs multiple armed guards patrolling the place.  We got our number, sat down and prepared to wait the normal 30 minutes to an hour before our number was called.

Suddenly, after only five or ten minutes, they announced our number.  Wow!  This is going great, I thought.  Z and I went up to the counter, I handed over the necessary documents and the lady started typing away.  All of a sudden, she gets on the phone and starts calling for a supervisor.  Crud.  A supervisor??  Turns out, their computer said Z's social security number was already being used by someone else.  WHAT????   I think they must have seen the panic in my eyes because they were very nice, and calm.  They thought it was most likely a data entry error on their part but they needed to research it, so back to the chairs we went to wait.

Thirty minutes later, they called us back up to the counter.  All they'd been able to determine so far was that it was a child using Z's social security number.  They still thought it was probably due to a data entry error on their part.  They were still researching and back to the chairs we went.  I was appreciative that they were keeping us updated and I was glad to know it was a kid who had the number and not some 40 year old criminal, but still....   At least they were playing good music over the loud speakers.  Of course, my kids begged to differ on that one.  They were also getting rather embarrassed because I was starting to sing along and chair dance.  It is so much fun to embarrass my kids.  :)

It wasn't long before they called us back up to the counter.  Now what, I wondered.  The research was done.  It was a data entry error on their part and "a note had been put on their computer."  That was about all I could get out of them as to how the situation was being fixed.  At this point, I was ready to accept that answer.  I was getting pretty hungry, and therefore cranky, and at least they had fixed the problem in their computer so we didn't have to come back another day.  Unless of course Z flunks the test...

They handed Z a computer screen thingy to sign his name on and good grief!  You've never seen someone have so much trouble signing their name.  It was pretty dang embarrassing!  First of all, he doesn't write in cursive.  He learned it, never used it and promptly forgot it, but it's the DMV law  - you have to write your name in cursive.  He finally managed that task except he'd written his nickname, not his legal name.  Crud.  Gotta start all over again.  You'd have thought they were asking him to perform brain surgery.  Finally, his name is signed.  Now he has to take off his hat and get his picture taken.  We stood their and argued for a few minutes because I hadn't brought a brush into DMV.  Then the DMV employee made him put his hair back in a ponytail.  Z HATES his hair pulled back and really hates to be hatless.  But he really, really wanted that learner's permit so he pulled his hair back.  Photo taken, time for the eye test.  Passed that just fine.  Go sit back down and wait for an available computer so he could take the test.

While we were waiting, they called another person up to the counter.  This lady had to have been at least 130 years old.  Her son, who was at least in his mid 50's was helping her.  He had to help her get up out of the chair because she couldn't do it on her own.  He had to help her walk past the six chairs to the counter because she couldn't walk that far on her own.  I mean, this lady was OLD!  As they passed by us, the woman asked her son where they were.  He replied that they were at DMV renewing her driver's license.   OMG!  This woman can't walk and doesn't even know where she is, but she's getting a drivers license???  And yes, she got it!   A few minutes later, DMV took her picture, they paid and they walked out of DMV with a new license for the old woman.  Sheesh.  And I was worried about Z driving!

Finally, they called Z up to take his test.  He was there at the computers for quite a while so I assumed he'd survived the first part of the test and had moved on to the second part.  When he was done, he walked back over to the counter then over to me.  He needed $19.  Which means, he passed!!!

Aack!!  Woo-hoo!!  Aack!   I'm still not sure if I'm super excited or terrified.  A little of both, probably.  What I do know is that I need a drink.  And a big, gigantic bottle of valium.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Family Reunion

This past weekend was one of my husband's many, many family reunions.  The whole concept is a little strange to me.  My family seems to avoid each other like the plague, but hubby's family is a fairly tight knit group and get together frequently.

I have to admit, Hubby and I were sort of dreading the event.  The traffic we have to drive through is always awful, the location is a couple of hours away and recently, it's been horribly, disgustingly hot.  The thought of hanging around outside and eating potato salad that's been sitting out for hours in 100+ degree weather wasn't overly exciting.  But, we went and had a good time as usual.  The traffic wasn't great, but it could have been a lot worse.  The food was excellent and plentiful (a little too plentiful!) as always and the weather was perfect!  Mid 80's and cloudy, not too humid and a slight breeze blowing most of the time.  It was also nice to catch up with other family members.  I think this was the first year since meeting my husband some 18+ years ago that there hasn't been a wedding or funeral to attend.  That meant, we hadn't seen the majority of his family since last year's reunion.  We had a lot of fun and this year, there was even a photographer there to take a group photo.  Now, if I could only put names to all the faces...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Electric plug madness

Minnie is obsessed with our TV’s electric plug.  She spends hours and hours a day staring at it, whining to it and unfortunately, clawing and biting it.  It seems she’s trying to unplug the TV.  Perhaps we watch too much TV and don’t spend quite enough time throwing the ball for her.  We do, however, tend to eat in front of the TV, and if we eat, she eats, so I don’t know what her problem is.  

At first, she only clawed at it.  She clawed at the outlet cover so much that she eventually pulled it partially off the wall and broke it in half.  I can’t believe she didn’t electrocute herself in the process.  I practically electrocute myself just plugging or unplugging an appliance and I have opposable thumbs!  

Once she had the cover off and it was just the plug and the exposed outlet there, she started trying to bite it.   She bites at the plug and pulls, like she’s trying to unplug the TV.  I really can’t believe she hasn’t electrocuted herself doing this.  
And how do we make her stop??

 Here, she’s trying to sneak under the table to get to the plug because we’ve blocked her other means of access.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What's on the needles?

A fellow knitting buddy recently asked me what I've been knitting lately and unfortunately, my answer was  "Not much."  It seems that when I started running last year, I stopped knitting.  My new running addiction sort of took over my life and I was constantly either too pumped up, too tired or too sweaty to knit.  Plus, there's that whole New Year's Resolution thing where I said I was going to go a full year without buying any yarn.  Yeah, like that would ever happen!  Except it has, mostly thanks to the running addiction.

But I have been knitting a little. With my resolution to not buy yarn in 2010, it means I'm forced to look to my stash.  And it is a pretty big stash pile.   I used to be sock obsessed and I have an entire cedar chest full of nothing but sock yarn.  There are some new skeins just waiting to be turned into glorious socks, but most of it is odds and ends and left-over little bits that are too small to even knit baby booties.  And really, how many pairs of baby booties can you knit, specially when you're at that stage of life when you don't know any babies.

So, what could I knit with teeny tiny bits of left over, multi-colored sock yarn?  I decided on a scarf.  Very simple pattern.  Just cast a bunch of stitches onto circular needles and start knitting.  Knit alternating rows with 2 colors, one solid and one patterned yarn.   It turned out...  how do I describe it?  Pretty?   Bold?  Interesting?  The tackiest thing you ever saw?   I wasn't sure.   Actually, I'm still not sure if I like it or not, but no matter - I decided to make another one.  The first had black and gray as the solid "background" color so it turned out not quite so bold.  The second one had blue as it's background color.  It started out with a dark blue and as the knitting progressed and I had to move from one skein of blue to another, the blues get lighter and lighter until the last one is so pale it's almost white.  Again, I'm not sure if I like it.  Is it interesting or tacky?  I just can't decide.  Neither of them are completely finished yet.  I thought I'd really tacky them up by sewing some dangly beads on the ends, except I haven't bought said beads yet.  Haven't been able to find any that even remotely go with the multi-colored yarns.  But I will.  I'm confident.  But in any event, here's a picture of the unfinished scarves.

Obviously, I have a bit to learn about taking pictures of my knitting.  A white background would probably have been a much better choice.   And boy, those scarves look even tackier in the photo than they do in reality.  Oh well.

But no matter how tacky those scarves turned out, I kind of like them.  Or I should say, I liked knitting them.  It was fun and relaxing to just knit away and have the colors constantly changing.  And I have to admit, it was pretty satisfying to watch my stash of teeny tiny left-over balls of yarn disappear.   So, I decided to make a pillow the same way.  I decided to give the pillow a brown theme, cast on about three times as many stitches as I'd used for the scarves and started knitting.  Once I'd gotten enough knitting done to be able to tell how big the pillow would end up being (I was way too lazy to count all those stitches and figure it out mathematically) I realized it's going to end up being bed pillow size.  The tube I'm creating by knitting in the round fits onto a bed pillow perfectly.  And, as luck would have it, we have several bed pillows that stay on the family room couch, so, all I have to do is make the tube long enough and it will fit perfectly.   I'm sort of excited about the project.  The rest of the family just rolls their eyes.  What ever.  Here's a picture of what I've got so far -

Well, ok, it looks like a giant hat, but that's because it's still on circular needles.  And yes, once again, it would probably look better against a white background.  Guess if I'm going to keep up this photo taking, I'll have to invest in a white sheet.  What kind of family doesn't even own a white sheet?

Anyway...  I'm just pretty amazed that such a diverse group of multi-colored yarn can blend together so well.

By the time I finish that pillow, I'll still have more than three quarters of a cedar chest full of sock yarn left.  Any suggestions as to what the next project should be?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Drivers Ed

Phew!  I'm finally finished planning the coming school year.  I may have to make a few adjustments though.  It's looking like I've got about three years worth of history crammed into one for each of the kids.   Oops.  But other than that, it should be a good year.  Everything else seems quite doable.

Everything that is except the Drivers Ed.  Z gets his learners permit in a few weeks (assuming he passes the test) and as homeschoolers, we've opted to teach him at home instead of paying someone else to do it.  We've got the state approved curriculum which seems easy enough and yet, OMG!   Driver's Ed!  Aack!!  

Part of me has total confidence in his abilities.  He's been driving since he was old enough to walk.  First, he drove the Rescue Rider, a self-propelled riding toy, next it was a tricycle, then a bicycle, then an ATV, the lawn mower and a tractor.  He's even driven a backhoe and steered a great big dump truck.  He's got great hand/eye coordination.  The boy can drive.  And yet....  

And then there's the actual Drivers Ed curriculum.   It looks like it might be a bit mind numbing.  There are specific lessons you have to provide and a specific amount of time you have to spend doing them.  During the first lesson, the student must spend two hours learning to put on his seat belt, adjusting his seat and mirrors and practicing putting the car into Drive.  Two whole hours of that?  Aack!

The next lesson takes 3 hours during which time you move forward in a parking lot, moving at a speed of 10 mph and then 15 mph.  Three hours of driving 15 miles per hour?  It just might be worth paying someone to teach him!

Next comes learning to drive in reverse, then how to park, how to drive on the interstate and how to skid, hydroplane and drive off-road.  Now, that might be a fun lesson.  As long as we are in my husband's car, not mine.  I'm pretty sure I don't want my son learning to hydroplane off the road in my car.

Hmm...  Do you think it  would be horrible of me to hope and pray he flunks the learners permit test?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

They say it's a woman's prerogative

Changing your mind - they say it's a woman's prerogative, but apparently, it's a man's too.  After having argument after argument about the cost of our TV and whether we spend too much time in front of it or not, Hubby finally won the argument.  And of course, he made me call to cancel the service.  It was in my name after all.

So, I call and arrange to have it canceled on Friday which just happened to be the last day of our billing cycle.  I blogged about in on Thursday and told my husband I'd done it.  I'd talked to the kids about it and acknowledged that the first week of no TV was likely to be pretty hellacious, but we'd adjust and I was actually kinda, sorta looking forward to it.  The kids weren't overly pleased, but they were on board.  Sort of.

Then Hubby sat down to watch his nightly news and got to thinking about life without TV.  And he got scared.  Scared like a little girl.  By 8:00 a.m. on Friday morning, he was on the phone to the TV people canceling the cancellation order.

So yes, I am watching mindless TV as I type this.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Frugal or insane?

Remember that song... 57 channels and there's nothing on?  Well, that's pretty much how we feel about our T.V. service, except there are 900 channels and there's still nothing on.  Nothing worth the $75 we are charged each month anyway.  So, we've made the decision to disconnect our T.V.  


The first T.V. free week will be pretty rough for all of us, but we'll adjust.  We've been without before.  Actually, I'm sort of looking forward to no T.V.  It tends to suck me in and I waste way too many hours each day sitting in front of it.  The kids, well, they'll suffer a bit, but with school starting before long, they'll have other things to do anyway.  And Hubby will still get to watch the football games either at the local pub, a friend's house or at his mom's.  Most Sunday's find us at his mom's house anyway and she always has the football game on.  The races too, for that matter.

So, wish us luck.  I'm sure there will be quite a few posts about how bored we are in the beginning and later, what we are doing to fill the time.  Who knows.  Maybe I'll actually get the house cleaned, the closets organized, the books read and the gazillion craft projects finished.  Or not.

And just think of all the new yarn, books and closet filler I can buy with an extra $75 a month.  :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Children

Meet Minnie.  She's our Foxhound/Lab mix four-legged daughter.

Meet Max, our Great Pyrenees/Irish Setter mix four-legged son.  Max likes to sing.

My dear daughter who wishes to remain anonymous.   We'll call her S.

Meet Z.  He's apparently in the witness protection plan.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 1

Wow.  It's obvious I have no idea what I'm doing here.  Please pardon my fumblings as I learn my way around this blog site.

I'm not sure where to start.  As my profile says, I'm a homeschooling mom of two teens.  I have a wonderful husband and two dogs that waiver between being wonderful pets and being the most annoying creatures on earth.  I love to knit, read, listen to music and run.  Running is a relatively new experience for me and I can't believe how much I enjoy it.   I like to cook although I tend to have as many goofs as successes in the kitchen.  I would love to garden but I've got two black thumbs.  I'm  a shopaholic that's trying to tame her ways and live a much more frugal lifestyle.  I'm also trying to live healthier life.  

This blog will be about all the trials, tribulations, successes and failures that make up my life.  There's never a dull moment so come join me in celebrating the craziness I call my life.