Santa stop here

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Trick or Treat!

Here's a quick and easy "treat" idea for you all.  I made this jack-o-lantern cheese ball for the teachers at my daughter's school.  It was too easy and I thought it turned out pretty cute.  I have no idea what it tasted like.  I just followed the recipe from Kraft foods and send it on its way.  Guess I could have sampled a bit before I shaped it into a ball, but I didn't.  If anyone else tries it, be sure to let me know how it tastes!  Have a great weekend and happy trick-or-treating (or trunk-or-treating if you prefer).  You can click <here> to go to Kraft Foods and look around for more recipes or click on the above photo for the original recipe.

Jack-o-Lantern Cheese Ball
3 green onions, divided
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 pkg. (8 oz.) KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped red peppers
2 slices pepperoni

Make It

CUT 4-inch length from green end of 1 onion; slice remaining onions. Beat cream cheese and 1-1/4 cups Cheddar with mixer until well blended. Stir in sliced onions and peppers. Refrigerate 1 hour.

SHAPE into ball; roll in remaining Cheddar. Cut pepperoni into shapes for the jack-o'-lantern's eyes, nose and mouth; press into cheese ball to make face. Insert green onion piece into top for stem.

SERVE with RITZ Crackers.

Eastlyn's tips
I substituted "habanero" shredded cheese for part of the cheddar for a little added pizzazz and rolled the cheese ball in the habanero cheese, too, because it was a little more orange.
I also used yellow bell pepper for the mouth and eyes in place of the pepperoni only because I didn't have pepperoni on hand.
I mixed together the ingredients with my handy silicon spatula vs. an electric mixer and refrigerated the mixture over night.  The next morning it was easy to shape into a ball.  I wrapped the mixture in plastic wrap, shaped it into a ball then rolled the ball in shredded cheese in a bowl.
Bon apetit!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Five Question Friday-29 October 2010

Howdy folks, it's the weekend all over again!  I'd love for you to join me and Mama M at My Little Life for Five Question Friday blog hop.  Check out her blog to get the official rules and copy and paste the questions.  Then, you can link up with other bloggers who are participating.  It's a lot of fun and the questions aren't all that hard.  If you'd like you can also answer the questions in a comment below, too.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.  Here we go...

1. If you could be a fly on any wall, which would you choose?

I am nosy by nature and would want to be on a lot of different kids' bedrooms so I could hear what they and their friends are talking about.  I'd like to be a fly on the wall in a bakery or restaurant and find out about secret ingredients and techniques used to create culinary delights.  Then again, a food preparation work area is no place for a fly!  Furthermore, I might learn some things I wish I hadn't.

2. Do you budget your Christmas shopping or just get it done without budgeting?
Everything is budgeted around here, sort of (in my mind anyway). The hubs and I usually decide on a set amount we’re going to spend on Christmas, and I set out to take care of as many gifts as I can on said amount...practically down to the penny. Then, on Christmas morning some big ticket items miraculously show up for the kids. I have learned not to be the Grinch about such thing because it only dampens the Christmas spirit, but I’m the one who will have to find a way to juggle paying all of the regular bills when there is no longer an extra “cushion” in the savings account! Bah humbug!

3. What is the craziest fad diet you have ever done?
I can honestly say I’ve never done a diet, fad or otherwise, of any kind. Diet is a four-letter word, and I was taught early on about the perils of using those-anybody else remember the taste of the original orange bar of Dial soap? It’s also “die” with a t tacked on for good measure. I like food from all of the food groups and I couldn’t see myself surviving for long on just rice and grapefruit or all meat and no carbs. I get super cranky when my blood sugar gets too low—you know, kind of like whatever sets off the Incredible Hulk only I don’t turn quite that green. Muscles may pop out on my neck and I may scream and roar, though, so dieting is generally not a good idea for me.

4. Is there a TV show that you have seen every episode/season of?
I must say I was quite the Miami Vice fan back in the day and probably saw most of those episodes. I’m sure I have a drawer full of episodes recorded on VHS tapes from the Fridays when I was babysitting or otherwise occupied. Nowadays, though, I don’t really watch much TV so I haven’t seen every episode or season of any of the new stuff. I love The Office, and my daughter checks out the DVDs with episodes from an entire season recorded back to back. I sometimes see a little of that (as in “Mom, come here…watch this part!”)

5. What one song always pulls at your heart?
Maybe if you’d rephrased the question to say what song doesn’t pull at my heart I could answer it more succinctly, but since you asked…I’m going to go with “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. Every time I hear it, I can’t help but sing along (usually in a very loud voice much to my children’s chagrin) and wonder how I’ll react when I am in God’s presence in Heaven. Another good one is “How Great Thou Art.” I’m usually balling by the last verse that talks about Christ coming (with shouts of adoration) to take me home…Oh wait, there it says in this verse how I’m going to respond, “Then I shall bow in humble adoration, and there proclaim ‘My God, how great thou Art!’” I guess I don’t have to “only imagine” anymore. All kidding aside, any song that reminds me of Jesus dying on the cross for me, a lowly sinner, will tug on the old heartstrings and bring tears to my eyes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Thursday 10/28/10

For the past few days, Lionel Richie and the Commodores'song Jesus is Love has been on my mind. I thnk it takes me back to my junior high days and a much more innocent time. In spite of all of the heartache my family has experienced, there's always something for which to be thankful.  So, once again, I'm joining Mama Hen for Thanksgiving Thursday. This week my list includes...
Thanksgiving for cool wind in my face as I ride my bicycle downhill.  Don't 'cha just love that feeling?! It almost makes the uphill climb worth it...almost!
I am thankful for dedicated friends who never cease to amaze me with their good times and in bad.
I am thankful for books on tape/CD from the library that allow me to "read" so many of the latest novels for free while I'm doing other stuff like laundry and dishes. (Well, almost free until you check out so many that you forget when to turn them in, and the due date slips past, and then you have to pay a fine.)
I am thankful for stolen moments with my Hubs who works ridiculously long hours.  Usually the kids and their myriad activities come first.  Recently, we have made it a point to spend a little time together on Mike's days off, and I admit it has been nice.  At first I wanted to whip out my list of "Honey do's" but soon realized he needed the down time after all of the long hours he works; so I've had to learn to relax a little, too.
Finally, I am thankful for the life of our niece, Kizzy Richardson, and for all of the songs and scriptures that remind us that everything litttle thing is gonna be all right.
Thanks to everyone who has stopped by my blog, left a comment, said a prayer or just wished us all well over these past couple of weeks.  I am encouraged by your warmth and generosity.  I love you and appreciate your thoughtfulness.  Until next time...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tragedy strikes again

Dearest Blog family, please keep my family uplifted in prayer.  One week ago my brother in law called to tell me that our niece (my husband's sister's daughter) who is a truck driver was missing. I received news from my brother in law this afternoon that her body was found.  She suffered a blow to the head which fractured her skull and was badly burned, but a positive identification was made with DNA and finger prints as no dental records were available. Specifics are sketchy at best, but the suspect believed to have committed this crime is in police custody.  I don't know what to say to my poor sister in law.  It just isn't the natural order of things for the elders of a family to bury their young.  Here, we've experienced just that very thing for two weeks in a row. 
I am okay, but my husband's grief is so very nonexpressive that I wonder where he stores all of his tears and sadness...surely he feels these things, too.  One of the hardest things for me is watching my children try to understand the cruelties to which life sometimes falls prey.  They are still reeling from the unexpected death of a classmate who was buried just last week.  This is very tough for them.  They were not really close to their cousin because there is a considerable age difference, but family is family, and when one member hurts or suffers, we all do to some degree.  I only hope that my faith is sufficient to get us through the next couple of weeks.  Until next time...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Five Question Friday-22 October 2010

  Good Friday morning to you, folks!  I can't believe I'm actually getting this posted before lunchtime.  If this is your first time stopping by, welcome.  This is a blog hop hosted by Mama M at My Little Life.  Click <here> to visit her blog where you can copy and paste the questions, read the rules and link up with other participating blogs.  Here goes...

1. Who is the better cook, you or your spouse?

Wait a minute! Are there spouses out there who cook?! Do you mean to tell me I got a defective model? How am I just finding this out 15 years later? Actually, I was reading someone’s blog recently and she said her husband could boil eggs and cook rice. I was impressed. I have a hard time cooking rice on the stove every time. I rely heavily on my vegetable steamer/rice cooker. If you want to know how to boil an egg to perfection, visit my IRL friend Nicki Woo the Home Guru. The hubs does not cook unless he is on the brink of starvation and according to the scales at his last physical that won’t be happening anytime soon! I have tried to encourage him to just try to make someting as simple as Hamburger Helper: here’s the hamburger (which I felt compelled to specify does not come in the box), here’s the “helper” part; here’s the measuring cup; and here’s a can of green beans—Got it? I come home to a box of Popeye’s fried chicken (complete with fried apple pies only ‘cause they were on sale 2/$1) and hungry people waiting for me to add some sides. The Hubs fries himself an egg from time to time, but that’s the extent of his “cooking”; therefore I win by default. I am the better cook.

2. How often do you talk to your mom?

I talk to my mom almost every day. She lives less than 2 miles away. Sometimes, she pops in while doing her morning walks. Sometimes I return the favor t replenish my water bottle and take a potty break when I’m walking. Occasionally, we’ll miss each other for a day or two, but that’s not too often, especially with cell phones.

3. Are you adventurous in the kitchen or stick to the recipe?

I love trying new recipes. The first time I try one, I follow it line for line. The next time, I’ll tweak it to suit my personal taste. I usually follow recipes, but I have gotten a little more adventurous with creating soups and casseroles without a recipe. If it turns out well, I try to remember what all I put together. Just as I admire people who can look at an outfit and make it without a pattern, I have great respect for folks like Lisa at Korean American Mommy with a God-given talent for knowing how to combine this and that and come up with a spectacular culinary delight or as we lay people call it: a recipe.

4. Is your second toe longer than your big toe?

Nope. My big toes are the longest and they stair-step down to the pinky toes.

5. Do you dress up for Halloween? (Bonus question: What will you be this year?)

I do not dress up for Halloween. I have a tall pointy witch’s hat that I wear when I take the kids around the neighborhood, but I usually just throw on a solid orange t-shirt or my “itsy, bitsy spider” Halloween t-shirt. This year I am desperately in need of a haircut and there seem to be more and more gray hairs sprouting up along the front of my hairline, so I’m considering a bride of Frankenstein look!

Have a great weekend!  Until next time...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Thursday 10/21/10

It's been a while since I posted on the things for which I am thankful.  I think it is so important to follow Mama Hen's example and take a little time each week to reflect on the many blessings we have in our lives in the form of people, experiences and physical things.
(5) I am thankful for Fly Lady and her do-able routines and encouraging baby steps approach to home economics that are helping me slowly but surely move my home out of its present state of CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrome).  I don't think I'll be ready for any hard-core entertaining this holiday season, but I have every confidence that one day I will.
(4) I am thankful for other parents who volunteer their time and resources to care for groups of kids involved in extra-curricular activities.  I have volunteered to help the Band Booster Club raise money by selling concessions at the Friday night football games as well as the Ballpark where the Texas Rangers play.  This Tuesday, however, was my first time to "chaperone" the kids on the bus headed to the UIL competition.  It wasn't a bad gig, but bumping around without a seatbelt (I felt so naked!) on the old yellow school bus is certainly not something I'd want to do week in and week out!  I am thankful for the parents that volunteer to do this so the same people don't have to do it over and over again.  Bus #6 had a pretty good group of kids, if I do say so myself.  The night before the competition, a large group of parents, including myself descended upon the band hall to decorate their children's lockers with streamers, curly ribbon, posters, candy, etc.  You could tell the parents of the juniors and seniors-they came prepared-Christmas garland, mardi gras beads, pipe cleaners....  I had a sheet of white cardstock, some tape, glitter glue and markers.  By the time we left, there were 200 green and white helium-filled balloons floating overhead, too.  The parents made sure to adorn every locker so the kids whose parents couldn't make it wouldn't feel left out.  Thank you Band Booster Parents!
(3) I am thankful for homemade caramel corn.  Nothing says Fall to me like caramel anything: caramel apples at the fair, homemade caramel corn, caramel apple cider, miniature candy bars with caramel passed out to trick-or-treaters. I have a great microwave caramel corn recipe I will share next time I make a batch and remember to take pics along the way!
(2) I am thankful for community.  It really does take a village to raise a child...and to mourn the loss of one, too.  The Williams family has been engulfed in prayers and support this week as 13-year-old Kelsee was laid to rest following a car accident last weekend.  Organizations (like our PTA) have rallied together to arrange for families to volunteer to prepare meals during their time of loss.  Kelsee's classmates have had grief counselors present on campus this week to help the students cope.  For many of them, this is probably the closest they've come to death in their young lives.  That's what community is all about--rallying together in good times and in bad. (click on older post below to view my previous blog about Kelsee-"In an instant").
(1) I am thankful for understanding dance instructors who tell me I had better keep bringing my daughter to dance class even though we don't have money for tuition or to replace her pink tights with holes in them right now.
*Bonus: It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway...I am thankful for my husband, my kids, my extended family and everything that goes along with them all.  I am thankful for all of my wonderful blog buddies who keep me uplifted with their inspirational and entertaining posts and comments and who value my opinion and help validate who I am.  I love you all.
Now, I'm off to make my own "spirit shirt" for the band.  I've been "borrowing" my son's shirt, but as I knew would happen eventually, the day has come that we both need a spirit shirt at the same time.  I scored a t-shirt at Hobby Lobby on sale for $2.00 and purchased $1 worth of fabric and $.50 worth of Wonder Under fusible web.  I'll let you know how it turns out!  Until next time, dear friends...

Monday, October 18, 2010

In an instant

My heart is heavy this morning as I mourn the loss of someone I didn't even know.  Let me explain.  My son played in a marching band festival on Saturday.  I did not attend for several reasons: (1) it was an all-day ordeal; (2) Mike was working a double shift which meant; (3) Alisa would be left alone or "pawned off" to another family member all of whom were busy.  I decided Alisa and I would hang out while I entrusted Aaron's care to the band directors and other parent chaperones in the Band Booster Club.  Aaron returned that night and casually mentioned that a band member had been hit by a car after Friday's game and killed and some of the other students were crying.  He didn't know the name of the student or any further details.  I asked if the band director mentioned it to the students.  He simply said, "No."
Fast forward to this morning. When I dropped my daughter off at her school there were crepe paper ribbons tied around the trees in front of the school.  As I drove slowly down the street, I noticed one tree had an "In Loving Memory" poster affixed to the trunk and cellophane-wrapped bouquets of flowers encircling its base.  Traffic was not heavy, but people were still dropping off students so I couldn't really stop and see what had happened.  I went back home, changed out of my flannel pants and into walking shorts and my shape-ups, grabbed a water bottle and set out again.  On my way I noticed someone had put red Solo cups in the chain link fence to spell out "R.I.P. KELSEE."  Two young ladies by that name came to mind.  The walk around the block seemed to take an eternity.  I neared the crepe paper-clad trees and read the full name with the date 10.15.10 beneath the torn and weathered photocopy picture of the 8th grade student.  The student whose face I recognized as she has gone to school with my kids since kindergarten: a year older than my daughter, a year younger than my son.  The same face I'd seen with pigtails on the playground across from the elementary school years before.  The same face I'd seen adorned with sparkly make up as she danced with her girlfriends at the talent show.  The same face I'd just seen at the football game a couple weeks ago...I saw the vice principal comforting a student in front of the office.  I saw teachers in small groups crossing from the cafeteria back into the main building.  What had happened?  Was Kelsee the same student who'd been struck by the car Friday night?
As I turned the corner continuing on my walk back home, the choir teacher with an entourage of male students dressed in black t-shirts were loading boxes into her car.  I'm guessing these were Kelsee's things that would have to be delivered to her family.
Hot tears began to glide down my cheeks as I mourned the loss of the same face a mother would no longer kiss good morning or good night.  Did I kiss my girl this morning?  Yes I did and she has warm brown sugars that rival everything Bath and Body Works has to offer!
I called my mom on my way home to see if she had heard anything about an accident involving this student.  She'd look it up on the internet and let me know.  I asked the assistant band director when I went back to drop off Alisa's instrument.  I was only getting bits and pieces: she was not hit by a car but thrown from a car and suffered a head injury.  My mom called back.  Yes, she remembered the newscast: 16-year-old driver, car full of teenagers (only supposed to have one other teen in the car), returning from a game Friday night; dark road; no one wearing seatbelts; Kelsee the only casulaty.  How does a mother make arrangements to bury her child before she's shopped for prom dresses and made arrangements for college?  How does a mother give herself permission to let go of the child to whom she never gave permission to date? How do you say good-bye to a child who has barely said Hello to the world?  As a mother my heart aches for Kelsee's mother. I can't even imagine.
We live in a world where we have so much at our disposal in an instant.  We speak a name into our cell phone, and the phone dials and connects us in an instant.  Car-pooling to work? Hop in the HOV lane and bypass the traffic jam to arrive to work in an instant.  We snap a photo with our digital camera or cell phone and see an image in an instant: no waiting around to finish up a roll of film then drop it off for processing which used to take several days.  Days like today also remind us that what we have and who we love today could be gone in an instant.
Please join me in praying for the family of Kelsee R. Williams and remember to cherish the ones your love while you can.  Until next time...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Five Question Friday-15 October 2010

Is anyone besides me having trouble with their blog lately?  I typed up a post late Wednesday night for "Thanksgiving Thursday" and received a message just below my post that "an error occurred while saving" or something to that effect.  I didn't think much of it because the blue "save now" box kept flashing gray to "saving."  When I attempted to "publish post" it never gave me the "okay, you're done; view blog" option.  I was tired so I just logged off thinking I'd publish it Thursday morning, but then Thursday morning there were two "drafts" saved but it was only part of the title and nothing in the post box!  I'd lost my post.  The same thing occurred last night as I typed my 5QF answers, but this time I saved to a word document so I could cut and paste this morning.  Is this a user-related problem or are others experiencing technical difficulties, too?'s today's post as I saved it last night:
Hip hip hooray for Five Question Friday! It's after midnight in my neck of the woods, so I'm going to go ahead and post this as if it is Friday already. Anyone wishing to join the fun can visit Mama M at My Little Life and link up with us. This really is a fun way to learn more about others in the blogohood, and I always enjoy answering the questions. Here goes...

1. What is your favorite Halloween candy?

I am by all means a seasonal candy eater. I’m a far cry from a chocoholic, but in February I have been known to eat the assorted chocolates that come in the heart-shaped, red cellophane-covered boxes…to a certain extent (I actually cut them all in half and eat the ones with caramel and/or nuts and “share” the rest). Around Eastertime I like jelly beans, especially the black ones, and “whopper eggs.” Christmas brings cravings for old-fashioned hard candies (ribbon candy), candy canes and red hots. As for Halloween…have you guessed yet? Candy corn, of course! Even though Brachs sells them year round, they just don’t have the same appeal in the spring or summer. I also like those horrid peanut butter flavored taffies wrapped in orange and black wax paper. Again, this is a delicacy in which I only partake IF my kids bring it home in their trick-or-treat bags!

2. Do you fold your socks?

If they are anklets (which I mostly wear), I just match them up and criss-cross one flat pair over the other in my drawer. For the few pairs of crew socks & trouser socks I own I do line them up and fold them over. I do not tuck one inside the other like my mom had us do when we were growing up.

3. What is something that you wish you had been warned about?

I wish I'd been told how closely tied your own emotions are to those of your children. Maybe someone tried to explain it, but it just didn't hit home until I had kids of my own. When one of them experienced even just a simple scrape or “boo-boo” my throat would close up as if I wanted to cry right along with them. I really came to understand the pre-spanking admonition, “This is going to hurt me more than it’ll hurt you!”
On a completely different note, I wish I’d been warned about the true (hidden) costs of home ownership. When the Hubs and I bought the house we’re in, we planned on having more kids, but since we stopped at two I have often wondered if we should’ve “downsized” right away to save on taxes, utilities, (clutterability) and upkeep. Now that we’re close to paying it off, we might as well stay put, but it has been a financial nightmare for me (the bill-payer) month after month after month.  I'd much rather have had a smaller home with less financial stress.

4. What is the most significant difference between you and your significant other?

I sometimes wonder if anything between the two of us is the same! I’d have to say the biggest difference is: he’s laid back and I’m high-strung passionate. My job is constantly lighting a firecracker under his behind gently motivating him to get in gear and do things; his is attempting to get me to kick back and relax a bit. I’m hoping that the kids will find a happy medium between the two when they grow up. I can always hope, right?

5. What are three words you would use to describe yourself? (And, just for fun...if your significant other is around, ask him/her what 3 words they would use to describe you!!)

I would describe myself as loving, passionate and au natural/genuine (think of Aretha Franklin singing, “You make me feel like a na-tu-ral woman!): what you see is what you get! I asked my Hubs who chuckled when I asked him to tell me three words that he would use to describe me and said, “I can think of one word: HOSTILE!” He chuckled some more at his own humor and then was snoring by the time I got back to my computer to finish this post. He has obviously mistaken my passion for hostility toward the kids when it’s an hour past their bedtime and I’m yelling at them to go to bed right now! I’m definitely going to ask for the other two words tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mean Old Mama

Last Thursday, the Hubs had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 9 a.m. about 45 minutes from where we live.  I always go with him because I am concerned with his health and I like to help him recall all of the past year's complaints: What about the pain in your hip? Did you mention the heartburn? etc...Actually, I just like the satisfaction of the doctor confirming that losing weight would take care of about 90% of his "ailments."  The Hubs tends to believe it if anyone other than me says it!  Anyway, I digress, this e-mail is supposed to be about Alisa, my 12-year-old daughter.
Because the Hubs had the appointment, and I was accompanying him, and my mom had to work and her car was in the shop anyway, Alisa had to walk to school by herself for the first time ever.  We had discussed this fact earlier in the week when I scheduled the appointment.  Now, keep in mind we live less than a mile from her school.  Even lugging all of her stuff, it would only take her about 15 minutes tops to get from our front door to the school's front door-that's walking at a snail's pace.  I can make the walk in about 6 minutes.  Nonetheless, I was almost as nervous as Alisa was.  I had to quell the urge to call the attendance clerk and verify that Alisa had made it and e-mail each of her teachers just to get the confirmation that she was in class.  I figured there might be more of the same once I begin working in January, so this would be good practice for Alisa.
Fast forward to the afternoon.  After the appointment the Hubs and I stopped for a late breakfast, ran a few errands and returned to the house to select medical benefits for next year and complete some other paperwork we'd been sitting on for a while.  Around 3:45 the Hubs asked if we shouldn't cut off and go get Alisa from school.  I reminded him that she stays after school until 4:30 to practice her instrument in the band hall so she doesn't have to drag her percussion kit back and forth.  I was standing in the kitchen washing up dishes, peering out of the window and waiting for 4:30 to roll around when I saw Alisa marching stomping down the street!  I was overjoyed to see her and shocked just the same.  I smiled and shouted through the open window, "Lu-Lu!"  I glanced at the clock wondering if time had gotten away from me.  It was only 4:20...that's when it dawned on me: The kids were out for a 4-day weekend.  Friday was a teacher in-service day, and Monday was Columbus Day/State Fair Day.!  Alisa glowered at me and then burst into tears.  My poor baby girl not only walked to school but had to walk home from school, too, because her mean old mama had forgotten her!  Her feelings were hurt and she was furious that I had abandoned her-not just that morning but that afternoon as well.  I felt bad.  I really did.  Alisa said she fully intended to hold this one over us for the rest of our lives; and trust me I believe that!
Thank God one of our errands that morning had been going by the hardware store to get a sample of "key lime green" paint to test on her bedroom wall.  If that act alone wasn't worthy of forgiveness, then surely the french fries and micro-size Frosty from Wendy's would get us out of the doghouse!
Alisa knows how much I love donut holes, so I e-mailed her this image: it's a donut hole running toward a donut, both with outstretched arms.  The caption reads, "You complete me."  {I couldn't upload the image for whatever reason, but if you click on either italicized words above you can see it.}  I think she even found it in herself to forgive us because she baked us these yummy cupcakes on Monday:
Good job, LuLu!  You really do make my life complete.  I love you. -Mom
Until next time, Blog Buddies...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

5QF-Saturday Edition

Well, yesterday was Five Question Friday, and I was trying really hard to get this posted in time.  There was just too much going on so I didn't get a chance to "link up" and play with everyone else, but since I took the time to answer the questions, I thought I'd post them anyway!  Have a great weekend blog buds.  I have a busy one, but all is well...

1. What do you listen to while driving?

I always have a book on CD going; sometimes I’m “reading” two at a time. I keep one in the kitchen while I wash dishes and cook, and one in the car while I’m out and about. If I forget my book, then I usually leave the radio off and enjoy the solitude. On the rare occasions that I turn on the radio, I mostly llisten to classical music or contemporary Christian.

2. What is your least favorite thing about Fall?

I don’t like for it to be dark when I get up in the morning. The getting dark early in the evening I don’t mind so much, but I need at least a little daylight to really feel awake.

3. What does your dream house look like, inside and out?

Let’s see, now. My dream house is called “Harmony House” and has a place for everything and everything in its proper place and everyone knows where those places are and puts things there when they are finished. That, my friends is my dream house. It could be a single-wide mobile home for all I care as long as it meets the above criteria. Just kidding…well, sort of. My dream home would definitely have lots of large, bright rooms with fresh cut flowers on my non-cluttered dining room table. Right now, I feel like we live in a bat cave b/c the Hubs likes a dark, cozy room with the TV being the only source of light! I’d have a “mother-in-law” suite around back that would house no mother-in-law but my well-organized, spacious craft room (It would be big enough for several 6-foot tables so I could invite friends over for our own personal scrapbook retreats every once in a while). I’d have a huge kitchen complete with state of the art appliances where I could cook, bake and decorate cakes and store my supplies to my heart’s content. I’d be sure to include a media room with lots of wood, leather and oversized comfy chairs for the Hubs. He deserves his own personal “man cave” space. I’d like a laundry room with a table for folding clothes and hanging rack. I’d like one of those built in doggy bath/showers in the mudroom. My boudoir (is that French for bedroom?) would be a cozy, romantic sanctuary for the end of long days at the hospital: big comfy bed with lots of decorative pillows (and somewhere to put them when I crawl in bed at night), wall sconces with candles. I can’t even burn decorative candles on the bathroom counter right now for fear of the whole house going up in smoke (check out domestic godlessness’s pics & comments if you don’t believe me!). The master bath would have a Jacuzzi/hot tub and separate 2 or 3 person shower. Although I rarely have guests, I’d like my dream house to have a guest room that I could decorate and “stock” like a hotel room. This would also double as my “prayer room” with an old-fashioned desk where I would have my Bible, a candle, and some religious articles for daily meditation with God. I’m getting carried away—should’ve dedicated an entire post to this question alone. The outdoors would sport a well-manicured lawn, shade trees, a walkway lined with solar-powered lights, and flower beds with a low-maintenance yet attractive mixture of greenery and colorful blooming plants. The backyard would have a great big tree my grands could swing from on an old tire swing, a more conventional swing for me to enjoy a glass of mint iced tea and a good book when the weather permits, some bushes that attract butterflies, bird baths, a small garden plot, wind chimes and an outdoor fireplace (chiminea). We don’t currently grill all that much, but I bet we would if we had a slammin’ grill, so I’ll throw in one of those in the backyard, too. I would want a year-round sparkling blue swimming pool complete with someone who knows what they’re doing to maintain it. We have a gravely neglected pool now that looks like the swamp thing may rise up out of it any moment now and devour us all. All of that would make up my dream house.

4. Would you ever own a minivan?

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Honda Odyssey minivan. I only have the two kiddoes, but there’s always someone else in tow: a cousin or two, a neighbor, my grandmother, my parents, etc. Now that the kids are getting older, I’ve considered downsizing (I’m sure my kids would greatly approve of me in something smaller and sportier only because they’re thinking of getting behind the wheel when they start driving in a couple more years-Ha! We’ll have to see about that…maybe I’ll keep my handy minivan after all.)

5. Do you wash new clothes before wearing them?

This one depends on how big of a hurry I’m in. I always wash my kids’ things first. After all, who knows who has been trying them on, right? If I’ve gone to the trouble (and I do mean trouble because shopping is akin to bamboo under the nails torture tactics in my opinion) to “shop,” it’s because I needed an outfit for something I’m going to attend! (Did I mention I don’t like to shop so I put it off ‘til the very last minute just about every time?) For this reason, I usually don’t have time to wash my outfits before I wear them, but I do think it’s a good idea to do so.

That was fun, now I'm done, folks!  Have a great weekend.  Until next time...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kitchen pics

Pic number one is how my sinks have looked every night since 10/3/10 as FlyLady's first step is "shine your sink."  Pic number two still looks a little cluttered, but do you notice the whole strip of exposed countertop that even has a little shine to it (right by the stand mixer)!  This is sooo exciting to me-you all have no idea.  I have to do a little more rearranging and tossing to make space in all of those cabinets for some of the larger appliances, like the George Foreman grill (yes, it is duct taped together r/t a little "accident" my daughter had mistaking it for a step stool to reach something in the cabinets!  I'm just waiting for sparks to come flying out one day while I'm grilling burgers or chicken breasts).  I may have to toss my vegetable steamer/rice cooker because it's not acting right.  The reason it's on the counter is that I have vinegar sitting in the well with the heating element to see if that will remove some of the "hard water build up" and improve the performance.  If not, it's gotta go!  I haven't really tackled any other major areas, but I have to get on board with FlyLady's "getting rid of paper clutter" habit for this month.  In FlyLady's words: "I am not behind! She doesn't want me to try to catch up; She just wants me to jump in where I am. O.K.?  Okay, FlyLady, I'm with you all the way.  Until next time...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Update on the kitchen...

Hello, blog buds-just wanted to update you all on the progress in my kitchen...I know a picture is worth a thousand words, but I haven't had the time to post new ones yet.  I'll suffice it to say I am pleased with the progress, and I will post pics a little later.  I'm nowhere near where I hope to be soon, but there is improvement.  Adrienne of Stories from the Shoebox left a comment last week suggesting that I pay the FlyLady a visit, and friends it was love at first sight.  She teaches you how to quit living in CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrome)!  I am on day 3 of her 31-day challenge.  As you have probably surmised, my house will not by any stretch of the imagination be completely clean or clutter free by that time, but at least I will be establishing some ongoing routines and habits to help me through the process!  I am so excited.  Click <here> or on  her name to learn more about FlyLady.
Also, if you want to see the extent of my daily horror (beyond the kitchen), visit Domestic Godlessness where I was honored humilitated to receive 4 out of 5 hearts rating for my mess!  (I'm not bragging, really.  I just feel like the more people who see my mess, the more people I'll have to hold me accountable for getting my act together!)  My plan is to incorporate FlyLady's tips into a daily routine and post updates as "stuff" is dealt with (ooohhh! that sounded kind of ganster/mob-like, didn't it *tee-hee*).  Well, that's all for now.  I will try to get some "improvement pics" posted this evening.  Until then...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's Now or Never...

And, I'd frankly prefer the "never" half of that phrase, but here I go.  The first pic of my kitchen as of 9:33 a.m. today, Friday 9/24/10.  I thought better of posting this after my Five Question Friday blog hop.  I'd hate for my messy kitchen to be anyone's first impression of me!  So, I'm working today but will post on Saturday or Sunday.  I am going to add a pic every couple of hours and hopefully see some improvements.  I figure I have a good stretch before the Hubs rolls in from work and it's time to pick up kids from school.  I'm going to refrain from answering phonecalls and checking to see what's going on in the blogosphere, so I can work uninterrupted.  It'll be just me and my latest Stephanie Plum adventure (Finger-licking Fifteen by Janet Evanovich) compliments of books on CD from my local library.  I may, however, need a nap after a little while.  I'm even going to forego my morning walk to get this project underway.  Here #1 & 2
I tried to leave the mixer in both so you could see the layout

My kitchen counters are like a big horseshoe

Here's photo shoot #2 taken at 11 a.m. --not much progress to report r/t a phonecall from my sister and an unexpected visit from my mom to deliver my b-day gift!.  I'm headed back into enemy territory for now.

Okay, friends, let's fastforward to Saturday, October 2, 2010.  I did end up taking a nap.  Then, the hubs came home.  Then the kids came home. Then we went to the high school football game, etc... My kitchen still looks about the same, or dare I say it? even worse!  Gives a whole new meaning to "Hell's Kitchen" doesn't it?!  This snapping pics every couple hours is a real distraction.  Then, I have to download the pics from my camera to my computer and import them into my blog.  It is just too much!  I sent my pics to "domestic godlessness" and will let you know if they get published.  In the meantime, I just wanted to get on with my blogging and cleaning update.
On Thursday, I spoke to my friend John who has a bit of a clutter problem himself related to packrat tendencies.  (I loved Jinnia's comment about being a "recovering packrat" last week.  I look forward to the day that I, too, am a reformed/former packrat!)  We are challenging each other to conquer the clutter by November 2, 2010.  We didn't line up specific guidelines, but the gist is this: we e-mail each other photos of our respective clutter areas.  We call one another for progress reports and moral support.  Finally, we compare our accomplishments at the end of one month's time.
Switching gears...In the nursing world, one of the rules about documentation is: if you don't document it, it didn't happen.  Well, I feel almost the same way about my blog--so much happened this past week, but I can barely remember since I haven't blogged in a while.  Other than the clutter, here's what's been happening in my neck of the woods since my last post over a week ago:
Saturday, 9/25/10  I watched my nephew and two nieces while their parents all went to dinner for my SIL's birthday which was the day before mine.  I was invited to the party, too, but since it was a "couples" thing and my other half was working (as usual) I decided not to attend.  Instead I got to watch everyone else's kids.Sunday I attempted to make homemade whole-wheat rolls to go with my smothered pork chops, brown rice and salad for dinner.  The rolls didn't turn out all that great, but they were okay fresh out of the oven with a dab of butter, and the kids and I indulged ourselves a little.  Monday and Tuesday were a blur.  I just remember running lots of errands with the hubs since those are his off days and listening to him comment on how quickly his days off fly by.
Wednesday morning, I ended up watching my 2-year-old niece for a couple of hours while my mom attended a luncheon.   Later that evening the hubs and I attending a college planning workshop. It was one of those things like going to the doctor knowing he or she's going to tell you to eat right and exercise. The main idea of the workshop was that college is expensive and you have to know what you're doing in order to tap into the monies available to help you fund your child's education. Of course, the facilitator of the workshop just so happens to be in that very business! Well, will wonders never cease!

When I returned home after the workshop, I had a message from my other SIL.  I returned her call to learn that my 5-yr-old niece is recovering from pneumonia and still had a bit of fever.  Because they could not send her to school until she was fever-free for 24 hours, my brother and SIL needed somone to watch her Thursday.  I was just the woman for the job (do you see how I never get around to doing the stuff I'm supposed to be doing?  Have you all noticed a pattern of being utterly unable to say "NO"?)
Here I thought my poor little niece would be "puny" and napping most of the day.  I pulled out the hideaway bed in the living room so she could sip chicken noodle soup in bed and watch  her favorite VeggieTales (okay, so maybe they were MY favorite VeggieTales!) while I was a few steps away in the kitchen doing my thing.  But, nooooo!  She was obviously feeling much better and marched right in with her art kit in hand and a request for me to help her make some "signs" and posters for her room.  I'd try to linger in the kitchen, but she'd call me out in a minute, "E-ee! (that's the two-syllable version what she calls me) I'm rea---dy."  We ended up making and reviewing Kindergarten sight word flashcards and trying our hands at scratch art as seen on Nicki Woo's blog.  We read books and poems and finally took a quick nap before it was time to pick up my daughter from school.  Sasha's appetite was poor, but that was about all that was wrong!

Thursday evening, I went to hear my nephew sing in a choir concert at his school. My nephew had a solo part and sounded really good. I love to see his choir perform. It is so obvious that the music teacher at his school loves what she does. The kids all seem to have fun up there on stage.
For some reason I was exhausted by the time I returned home.  I went to bed "early" (as in around 11:30 p.m.) without ever even logging back onto my computer.  I even forgot about Five Question Friday, so you know I was tired.
Friday morning, I hit the ground running.  Had to get the trash out and get kids off to school in time to intercept my grandmother while my mom attended a meeting.  Then, I was up to my elbows in celery, carrots, onion and stewed chicken making chicken noodle soup to serve for lunch for the Women's Cursillo (this is like a semi-annual women's retreat in the Catholic church).  I worked the concessions stand to raise money for the band booster at my son's high school last night and got stuck on "nacho duty" once again.  Nachos aren't so bad, really--just messy and very popular!
*sigh* Ahhh, now I can feel that I did indeed do something with my entire week!
Now, it is after 3 a.m. and I'm about to fall into the warm spot my husband just vacated in my bed and catch some zzzz's  I will probably snore because I've been sneezing all evening and my nose is a little stuffy-welcome to fall allergies in Texas.  Lucky for the hubs, he'll be off to work and won't have to be bothered by it!  Good night all.  Until next time.