Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Clean Up Begins

There was not one room in our house that was not completely trashed! "Stuff" everywhere. And the laundry...

Anyway, Butch and I started the "take down" on Saturday. I finished everything but the tree. We did that today. This year, the tree held up really well. Butch said he read a tip about putting maple syrup in the water of the second watering. It worked! We had very few dropped needles and the tree was still soft and perky (hmmm, sounds a little like my "girls").

I've found that there are things we do every year in conjunction with the "take down": cleaning out the refrigerator to dispose of all the holiday leftovers, cleaning out the cabinets to get everything back in order, sorting through the mammoth collection of overflowing bags in the pantry, and, last but not least, minimizing the number of cups/glasses/mugs in the beverage cabinet that have multiplied to epic proportions over the past year. Of course, we each have our favorites. I want to get rid of his and vice a versa. Butch has a particular cup for each type of beverage. His favorite gin and tonic glass is from Sandy's first dorm room. I would think that little guy could be retired after 17 years, but noooo. He has a manhatten glass, assorted travel coffee mugs, and 525,600 sports cups (blog candy for the first person to post where that number came from. Blog candy---little treat sent by blogger). I have 2 extra large insulated cups (granted they take up the room of 6 regular size cups, but this way, I don't have to refill very often) a favorite mug I use for hot tea and a small juice glass. We have another set of glasses that somehow found their way across the kitchen and into this cabinet. We can only guess that they migrated due to the "not enough clean glasses when 12 people use 4 a day". Add to that the sippy cups I keep on hand (and another that was left behind) and MIndy's favorite cups. Decisions had to be made.

We finally compromised---got rid of all the lids that we didn't seem to have cups for, got rid of the cups that were missing lids. We re-located the glasses that migrated. Now we each have our own shelf and one for the "public" glasses. This looks like it just might work.

Back to the laundry.

Lots to Blog About!

It's been over a week since my last entry, but it has been wild around here!! I have lots to blog about, so I'm going to do it in a couple of entries. Here's a run-down of our Christmas.
Friday---December 21st:
Mindy arrives in the a.m., takes my car, has a daddy/daughter date while I meet a friend for lunch and a movie.
Lapps family arrives 11:30 p.m.
Bennett/Jackson (forevermore B.J. family here) arrive 1:30 a.m. (12 1/2 hours---traffic in Chicago)
As a result, we got to bed really late. Butch and I were feeling so good to have the whole family here---let the fun begin!

I planned a surprise for all of us. Everybody had to be ready for pictures at 10:30. After all the usual groans and moans over the number and types of pictures I want, the family was surprised by the arrival of a hummer limo to start our day. I reserved the private dining room at the club for lunch which is always a hit. From there, we went to the Grand Ole Opry for a performance of the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. Butch and I had seen them in New York years ago. The show was great---and exactly the same as the one we saw years ago.

We got home about 5. While everyone rested, I had to make an appetizer for the party we were going to at 6:30. Last year, I hosted a family trivia party for the first time. I made the rule that the losers had to have the party the next year. This year, it was at the Black's. Everyone teases us about having the largest team (12) and how easy that makes it for us. But the opposite is true. With so many opinions and different answers, we don't do particularly well. In fact, Elizabeth saw how the wind was blowing and changed teams after the second round. We never saw her again. We came very close to being the hosts of next year's party, but luckily, we beat the Egberts by one point!

We got home about 10:30. At 11, the gang wanted to play Texas Hold 'em. Sandy and I declined. The rest played into the wee hours.

I got up early and enjoyed a little quiet time in front of the fireplace in the living room with a pot of tea, my iPod and book. The Lapps and B.J.'s went out to breakfast. The guys (including MItchell) all went to the Titan's game and tailgated. Jordan and Morgan went to their dad's for the day. Sandy, Steph, Mindy, Victoria, Elizabeth and I had a quiet and calm afternoon. This was one of my favorite times. Just us girls---talking, talking, talking. Oh, and the laughing!

When the guys got home, the games began. We played a new game that Sandy brought---the first of many.

Christmas Eve
We started with a big breakfast in the dining room. This year, Victoria got to be the "santa of the sleigh". I have a lighted sleigh in the entry that I put small gifts in. Each year, one of the kids gets to don a santa hat and pass out a couple of the smaller gifts at breakfast. We have so many traditions that it's hard to get them all in.

Everyone is on their own for the day while I cook. This year, Morgan helped me. She's the little cook of the family. We have some traditional foods on Christmas Eve. Pick-up type food that we eat while opening gifts--beef tenderloin, crab spread, cheese balls, clam dip, petit fours, cookies, etc. After gifts, more games.

By the end of the week, my jaws were so sore that I thought it was from eating too much. Then I realized, it's the laughing!! Bryan has a great sense of humor. He and Greg really played off of each other well.

On Christmas day, Steph and Bryan headed to South Carolina and the Lapps went to Greg's family.

Mindy went back to New Orleans the day after Christmas. Steph returned on Thursday for the wedding festivities of her best friend.

We saw the movie "Enchanted"---GREAT! All ages will get a kick out of it.

Butch and Greg took all the kids except Elizabeth to the hockey game on Thursday night. Another calm evening for Sandy and me.

The Lapps family left on Friday. Morgan and Jordan asked if they could have friends over. Little did I realize that I had committed to them spending the night. Not good! I was pretty sick of kids at that point (or I should say the chaos). It went downhill from there. They were playing around in the dark and Jordan fell down the steps. She was quite dramatic about it all and was upset that I didn't take her seriously. I was more concerned about the hole she put in the wall. Not to be outdone, Morgan's friend threw up in Butch's car on Saturday when I was taking everybody home. You know how particular he is about his car---I blamed it on Mindy as she took my car (remember, I don't really have a car of my own---but I do have the Solstice now).

Mindy and the B.J. all left today. Bryan comes back next Sunday and I'll see Mindy in New York on Wednesday. Butch will see Mindy in New Orleans next Saturday, Sunday and Monday. He's going with his brother, Walter, to the BCS championship.

Damage and expense report:
slow running toilet
door to sunroom "stuck"
towel holder in kitchen loose
6 poinsettias wiped out
hole in wall
vomit in car
graffitti on underside of pool table
spending $250 to fly Mindy back to New Orleans so she could make $8.00 an hour for 10 hours of work

Sheesh, having family home is expensive! I guess we wouldn't have it any other way...but I am exhaused!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


That's what Sidney, my little turtle did today. How could he not be happy in a large tank with plenty of room to swim, basking under the florescent lights of my desk, while feasting on crickets and shrimp? Not to mention frolicking with Sheldon. I think he planned his escape carefully. He knows that Butch cleans out their tank every weekend. While he lets the water reach room temperature, he leaves Sidney and Sheldon in a bowl. Somehow, Sidney escaped. How do I know that it was Sidney that escaped? He's the feisty one and is always into mischief---eats most of the food too which now makes me realize he was building up his strength to make a break. Anyway, the bowl was on my desk, but still it's about a 3 ft. drop to the floor. I didn't see any sheets tied together or rope, so can only figure he jumped! That little sucker can really move. No telling when it happened, but we tore the house apart looking for him. We can't find him. Butch thought the fall should have killed him, but apparently didn't. Poor Sidney, he must have thought he was escaping from Alcatraz but instead of a sheer rock cliff, it was slick cabinetry with no place to grab hold. Well, little guy, enjoy your freedom! I just hope you don't start "stinking" in time for Christmas. Sad. Really.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I've Lost My Mind AND My Bills

Sure, I'd like to blame it on the medication that I'm taking. (Quick update: due to the antibiotics, I now have Thrush--yeast infection in the mouth--and have added another drug to the mix). I'm having a hard time sleeping due to the med side effects so got up even earlier than usual for me. I decided to pay the bills. Now I keep them in a neat little stack (or big stack depending on how naughty I've been) even in alphabetical order to make it easier since I pay my bills online. I keep them in a particular place---always. They were gone! I swear I am not exaggerating---I've spent an hour searching for them. I checked the trash in my office and the recycle paper, opened up two boxes I had ready to mail thinking I might have somehow slipped them in, searched my scrapbook room, looked in the bathroom (who knows where I might have left them), emptied out the trash can in my office for the second time--as if they might magically appear, looked downstairs in the kitchen, back upstairs to see if I had accidentally "filed" them, you get the drift---I was manic over it. Then, I convinced myself that I mailed them out yesterday to an ebay-er with some needlepoint canvases I sold. Finally, I told myself, "Okay, what's the worst that could happen (besides send my friend, Connie into anaphylactic shock--she's paranoid about bills)? So I might have to pay some late fees". Here's the kicker, I just looked at them yesterday and couldn't think of one of them today. I knew there were 5 or 6, but that's about it. Finally, I told myself to calm down and THINK really, really hard. Concentrate. Lo and behold (whatever that means), I remembered that I decided to pay the bills from my laptop downstairs. But, I had already checked my "mini" office/chair/table--twice. Then I remembered carrying a bunch of Christmas presents downstairs. Sure enough, the bills were with the presents. This kind of stuff is downright scary to me. I'd be more worried about it if my friends didn't have the same problem!

PS The stockings are not yet hung by the chimney with care---I forgot them too.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas Shopping Tips for Procrastinators

You can conceivably get all of your Christmas shopping done in one fell swoop at the grocery store. (That looks weird---wonder where that saying originated---but I digress). You can find something for virtually everyone on your list. For mom or women friends, you can find a nice Jean Nate gift set. For the older lady on your list, you might even find a bottle of Evening in Paris. For the guys, you can never go wrong with Old Spice after shave or some "green" light bulbs---and don't forget the tool aisle. Teens on your list? How about a Bonnie Bell gift set or a nice pair of earrings with a matching watch? For the younger kids, you'll find an assortment of bubble baths, lotions and soaps in all of their favorite characters: Dora, Diego, Barney, Disney etc. You can find toys and baby items from cute "sippy" cups to onesies, bibs and rattles. For the sports enthusiast, you can find any assortment of team related items: t-shirts, flame hair, chef's outfits, auto flags and a jumbo foam #1 finger. There are digital cameras, binoculars, dvd's, books (always 25% off), music cd's and Russell Stover chocolates. Don't forget the cook on your list. There are kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, baking pans, casserole dishes and dish towels. If all else fails, you can find an assortment of gift cards. But, don't do what I did last year---bought 4-$25.00 gift cards to Werhenburg Theaters only to discover that we don't even have those in Nashville. What the heck are they selling them for? Mindy lucked out!

Now, procrastinate no longer. Get yourself to the grocery store and "getter done".

Friday, December 7, 2007


A shout out to my sons-in-law. Especially Greg---who, as it turns, out is a closet BLOG reader!! Go Greg! Bryan, you've got some catching up to do.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Garden and Gun

That's the name of a magazine we got in the mail today. Doesn't that seem like a sort of contradiction? Gardens are sweet while guns are harsh. Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against guns, I just don't want them in my garden. I have no idea why we got this magazine. I wonder how this magazine came about. Perhaps an avid hunter and his gardener wife were talking about starting a magazine and couldn't decide what it should be about. Then the compromise---Garden and Gun. Why in the world am I wasting time thinking about this? You'd think I have nothing better to do.

Day 3 on Drugs

I'm just starting my third day of my experimental drugs and already hating it. I don't know how old people keep up with all their meds. I have 3 different things I have to take daily, but at all different times and amounts. One pill I take 3 times a day, I take two pills once a day, and 1 pill twice a day. Seems like it should be easy to keep up with, but it's not. I've already "screwed up". I think I took the 1 pill twice a day both at the same time and the 2 pills once a day separately. It's not like you can use one of those pill things and know at the end of the day if there are pills in there, then you didn't take them for the day. Each time I'm ready for a dose, I have to use all of my concentration to focus on what I'm supposed to do and when (very difficult for someone with ADD---for example, last night, I went into the kitchen to take the pills, noticed that there was a message on my answering machine, listened to it, jotted down a note about it, carried the note to the steps so that I wouldn't forget tomorrow to return the call, noticed poinsettia "droppings", picked those up and put them in the trash compactor, noticed that the chili needed to be put away, put it in several containers, froze one which caused me to think of a great scrapbook page title, jotted down the title, put it on the stairs, then had to wash the chili pot because there wasn't room in the dishwasher, decided to make myself some iced tea, had to stop and go to the bathroom, settled back into my chair---30 minutes later---and then realized about 15 minutes after that, I had forgotten the d*** pills). Aggravating.

On to the side effects. Okay, I knew plain well going in that this was something totally experimental and since it isn't harmful in any way, decided to give it a try. Well, nothing has prepared me for the side effects. I'm obsessive enough that when I get medicine, I read every bit of the information that comes with it so that I know what to expect. Normally, I don't usually suffer any side effects from any medicine, nor am I allergic to anything. The side-effects are pretty much the normal things, dizziness (experienced with that--caused me to decide that my skiing days are over), nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach, and headache. Lucky me, I've got them all. Not fun, but I try to look on the bright side. I'm thinking, okay, it's only 3 weeks and maybe I'll lose some weight---which, depending on how much, could make it totally worthwhile. But the worse side effect of all--and it blindsided me because it wasn't listed in any of the information---is this god-awful taste in my mouth. Brushing and using mouthwash only helps for about 10 minutes. I can't imagine what my breath must smell like (ewww)! So now, because of the yukky taste, I'm constantly sucking on mints or chewing gum. I think that shoots the whole weight loss thing out the window. Now I stand to put on a few pounds---and I'm not even enjoying food or candy that I really like! Merry Christmas to me! All I've got to say is, this better work.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Check this out. If it's not clickable, you'll have to copy and paste. Totally worth it.

Mindy, I'm expecting something "big" from you!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stool Happens!

Went to the doctor today and am excited to try an experiment that could finally rid me of these pesky hives. I will be taking a series of 3 medications for 3 weeks to "kill" a possible bacteria that I might have. After my talk with the doctor, he sent me to the lab for bloodwork. His nurse gave me a little cup and something wrapped up in a bag for my "stool" sample. Having never done anything like this before, I asked her if there were directions. She said, "no, you just use this (pointing to the wrapped up "thing") and return it to the lab." I left the office, still unsure as to what I was supposed to do---many questions swimming around my head like, "how much, how do I "catch it" or do I scoop it out (I know, more information than you want to hear---well, now you know how I felt). On my way to the lab, not one to waste time, I figured I'd just go to the bathroom and get it over with right then and there and save me a trip. I opened the mysterious package to find a tongue depressor. Now I was really baffled. What was I supposed to do with that thing. Okay, I'll try a "catch". I sat there trying to "get into it" when someone knocked on the door. I said, "just a minute please". After that, it was all over, there was no way I could rush it, nor get it "moving" with an audience. I threw away the stick as I figured it was already contaminated by taking it out of the package. On to the lab for the bloodwork. They got me out pretty quick, but upon leaving, I said, "psst" to the nurse and motioned her over. I wanted to be discreet about my stool ignorance. So I asked her if I was supposed to fill up the cup. She sort of gasped and said, "oh, no! Just this much" and pointed to about 1/2" up the container. Okay, now we're getting somewhere. She then said she'd give me a bag to put it in. Imagine my distress when she handed me a CLEAR bag---not exactly what you want to carry your stool around in. Makes you feel rather exposed--if ya know what I mean.

Feeling confident that I now knew what I needed to do, I left and went about my day. I got home about 3 p.m. and decided to "try" again. It hit me then that I still didn't know exactly how to go about it. Everything went smoothly and I did a perfect "catch" with what appears to be the exact amount all in one neat little turd. I put the container in the clear bag and then in a Victoria Secret gift bag for good measure. I love the irony of that neat little "gift"!!! I just hope Butch doesn't try to "peek" in the bag---what a surprise that will be!!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


The Christmas decorating, that is---well, at least for 2 weeks until we get our live tree. I actually started on Thanksgiving day, worked some yesterday and then got up at 5 a.m. to finish today---was done by 11:00 a.m. What a job. There was a time when I really enjoyed it all, but no more. Somewhere along the line, it turned into a big ordeal. I think it started with my Christmas closet 12 1/2 years ago when we moved into this house. I was so excited to have a walk-in Christmas closet as opposed to the pull-down steps to the attic in our other house. In fact, it was the closet that just about sold the house for me. But you know what, even with the closet, it's a lot of work---hauling up and down (with the number of times I go up and down these steps everyday, I don't know how I can be fat---it's unfair, I tell you). Back to the decorating---I literally have to put everything away downstairs to make room for the Christmas decorations. And I only do 4 rooms: living, dining, family and kitchen. Now with everyone out-of-state, it almost seems pointless. I don't entertain at Christmas like I used to. This year, we're having our friends for drinks before going to dinner and that's about it. I considered scaling back, but then figured the "kids" (big and little) would be disappointed. I must admit, when it's all done, I love it. But the actual "doing" puts a dread into my Thanksgiving like nothing else. And the "taking down" puts a damper on my Christmas. For a couple of hours this morning, it was actually quite pleasant. I put on Christmas music, lit a candle, and made my tea. Working while it's still dark outside is really fun to me. I've always enjoyed those quiet hours in the morning.

I have some ladies that decorate the outside of the house and then decorate my banister in the entry with garland, tulle, white lights, foliage and ornaments. It looks awesome and can't imagine how long it would take if I had to do all of that too. But this year, I guess they were in a hurry, because they left a huge mess. Usually they vacuum after they finish---even the fake stuff sheds all over the place.

Butch vacuumed the entire downstairs for me---huge help as I obsess until everything is done. I vacuumed the upstairs including the attic---AGAIN! Totally unfair! Remember, it was just this summer when I did it. Little did I know that getting a new roof caused such a mess INSIDE the house. But all is nice and clean and good in my world!

For those of you that have not seen my house at Christmas, I'll post a few pictures in a day or so. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mindy's home and you know what that means!

I'm cooking my heart out! Mindy starts with her food requests about 2 weeks prior to her arrival. I've been in the kitchen since 4 p.m. and now it's 6:15. We're having Rotel Chicken tonight, Chicken Pot Pie tomorrow night and I made a huge pot of spaghetti sauce for the road (meaning there's not enough meals to eat all the food she's requested, so I'm freezing the sauce and sending it back with her). It may be a lot of work, but I love requests. When I ask Butch what he wants for dinner, he says, "I can't think about dinner at breakfast!" In reality, the man never thinks of food---any time of day. So, that's why I love requests. If you request it, by golly, I'll cook it---even if my feet hurt from standing on these hardwood floors for 2 hours and may be possibly aggravating my plantars fascitis. I say, my family is WORTH it! I love you guys...

Monday, November 19, 2007

I can't have anything nice...

I've been whining that lament since my girls were little. But it really is true. I just got home yesterday after being in St. Louis last week. I was excited to see my newly finished kitchen. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed with my window treatments---a bit too much green---the style is awesome. I've already figured out how I want them fixed, so that's okay. Everything else, custom-made rug, chair pads and other accessories were great. Today, I had a repairman here working on my French doors in the kitchen. I didn't realize he would be going in and out and traipsing through the house. We had rain this morning, so the patio was wet. I usually make myself scarce when work is being done, so didn't realize that he was totally messing up my BRAND NEW rug that I've only had for ONE day!!! After he left, I was just sick. Now the side by the door is dingy. I'm hoping that when it dries out, it will be okay. Just my luck.

Oh, and I'VE made a decision (notice the "me" in that statement). We are definitely going to move---I've had it. We got home yesterday to discover another pool leak. My pool man tells me that these problems are just the nature of a 25 year old pool. It's driving me nuts. I just want everything to be fixed and working properly all at the same time for a little while. It's always something!

P. S. Who's the wiseguy that had the dog gifts catalog sent to me?

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Finished Product

I couldn't get this picture to upload, so I put it in a new post.

My "Work" at Stephanie's

Stephanie asked me if I would organize and set up her scrapbook room for her birthday. I totally love doing that sort of thing---surprising since I was such a slob growing up. I think that I got the "genes" from my mom, but the practical experience came from my cousin, Chris. I never actually saw my mom organize anything---it just always WAS---down to color coded hand-made hangers (I was yellow) to the embroidered colored "x's" in our clothes (I was red---now I'm wondering why I didn't have the same color as the hangers---hmmm). But it was my cousin, Chrissy who came over nearly every weekend and sorted through the crap in my room and cleaned out my closet (while I layed on the bed and watched). I guess I learned something because there is nothing more fun to me than making order out of chaos! Little did I know that when I invited Chrissy over (and thought, "yeah, she'll do my work"---kind of my personal "bitch" in a way) that she was really teaching me. Funny how that worked out. Anyway, I owe her---for that and so much more! Thanks, cuz.

Now on to Steph's room. By the time we got to Steph's house on Monday night, it was pretty late. It took awhile to show me around as there was so much to see. Everywhere you move, they do things differently. She has these rounded corners on all her walls---looks really cool. Anywhere that should be a right angle is rounded. The walls also has a really neat texture to them---not that pokey stuff or stucco---sort of flat, but textured---if that makes sense. I should have tried to take a close-up picture. Steph??

Last, they took me to Steph's room. The room was a little smaller than I expected (really could only be used as a nursery---about 8x12 or so) and filled to the brim with boxes that overflowed and lined the hallway. In my mind, I'm thinking "no way will all this stuff fit". And, since the closet she had to store her scrapbook supplies in was so small in the other house, I couldn't imagine where she had all this. Right off, I had to have Bryan and her help me get some of the boxes out so that I could even begin to work. I was completely overwhelmed and doubting I could get it done. Of course, it was night-time and I always feel that way at night. In the morning, I can tackle the world.

Tuesday a.m.---no clock in the guest room, but I thought I heard a shower. I figured it must be around 5 or so and time to get started. When I got upstairs, I discovered it was 3:30 a.m. The perfect time to begin! Here's a shot a little way into the "before":

Here's one of the hallway, but by the time I took this one, I had already cleared out a bunch of boxes:

I made a few things for her room. I got this idea from the Pottery Barn catalog. Mine are smaller---I used 12x12 patterned paper attached to 12 inch cork squares. She can use them as a bulletin board (or not) and change out the paper as necessary.

I also had her give me her baby box so that I could incorporate some of her childhood momentos into her room. This is her Strawberry Shortcake doll collection. If you look at the pictures above, you can see a pair of New Kids on the Block boxer shorts hanging from the light. On the shelf over her desk are all kinds of dolls, books, toys and even her baby spoon.

Stepanie totally loved it---did I mention that I didn't let her see it until I was completely finished? Morgan helped me with a few things---especially dressing the dolls. Jordan and Morgan helped me in the dentist's office assemble some Quickutz dies. I just hope Steph will keep up with it and put things away when she's done with each project. There were a couple of minor things I didn't finish, so I left her with a homework list. Such a great room! It was a pleasure. Happy Birthday, Steph!

All totaled, I logged 20 1/2 hours in two days to get the room done. That counts an hour in the dentist's office too---had to use every available moment. I have to say, I'm pretty tired of hauling boxes down! Really makes me NOT want to move. Golly, we're back to ME again! And I realize I say "golly" a lot! Later....

PS I couldn't get the final picture of the room from the doorway to load. I'll have to try again later.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

We are a family of color!

No, I'm not trying to be politically correct. We really are a family of color. It hit me as I was visiting Stephanie in her new home this week. When you walk through her front door, the first thing you see is a red wall in her family room that spans the entire 2 floors of her home. The girls rooms are colorful and so is Steph's and Bryan's room. My house is colorful, Sandy's house is colorful. Mindy's apartment isn't---but she doesn't really have a choice. She always chose bright colors for her room at home. Like I said, we're a family of color. More details about Steph's new house and my "work" there later.

Oh and MIdwest Airlines isn't half bad. They serve hot chocolate chip cookies that were "to-die-for". I guess it is an asset to be "pudgy" as they offered me a second one!!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Watching and Wrapping

I'm watching the Titan's game and ---yep---wrapping Christmas presents. I love to be that person my friends love to hate at this time of year. But, I think my friend, Connie has stolen that spot from me this year. She started LAST week!! Go, Connie! I'll be back on top of my game next year!

On another note, Mindy was home for the weekend. I'm always so sad to see her leave. You know, sort of like that depressed feeling you get on that first day after vacation. Oh wait, when Mindy's home, it is like being on vacation! Or at least we spend as much money as on vacation!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Finally Finished!

Well almost. Just waiting on a few pillows. I've also included a close-up of the floral arrangement I made and of the window treatment so you can see those buttons! They have a little more blue than you can really see.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Recipe

This was my first attempt at making gumbo. Having Cajun friends provides us with pleny of opportunities to have "authentic" gumbo. But, I came across this recipe and decided to give it a go. I didn't have the required cast iron skillet, but it worked anyway. Patience isn't really my virtue but is required while making the "roux". Also, notice that there isn't a single spice or salt and pepper added. The flavor comes from the onion, celery and sausage.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
1 (4 1/2 lb.) chicken (I used 6 boneless chicken breasts).
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 onion, quartered
3 bay leaves

In large dutch oven place all ingredients and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Remove chicken from broth. Let cool. Chop chicken, set aside. Strain broth, discarding solids; reserve 12 cups broth.

1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour

In a cast iron skillet, combine oil and flour; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until roux is the color of dark caramel---about 20 minutes.

4 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery

Stir in chopped onion and celery into the roux; Cook 10 minutes. Transfer to dutch oven with 12 cups broth. Add:
2 pounds frozen, sliced okra
1 pound Cajun smoked sausage cut into 1/4 slices (I used Johnsonville New Orleans Style smoked sausage---the whole pack).
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 2 hours. Stir occasionally.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

10-12 servings.

An Attitude of Gratitude

November 1st---the beginning of the season of Thanks! I have many small blessings for which I am grateful:

*My vacuum upgrade. Margarita was so happy. I'm not sure exactly what she said, but I could tell by the smile that she was happy. I'm all about making the lives of those that do my work easier! For that I am grateful.

*The "water dripping catch tray" on the front of my refrigerator is kept so clean. Margarita again. For that I am grateful.

*That I DO NOT have to have a new picture for my passport. I think the gal thought I was nuts when I told her that I had gained 60 lbs. since my passport photo had been taken in 2000 and was wondering if I would get arrested. She said a lot of people gain and lose weight. I told her I was just concerned because my facial features are a bit distorted. I've never had anyone question my driver's license, so I guess "pudgy" is still recognizable as me. For that I am grateful.

* iChat, web-chat and those family members who Blog (all two of them---even the one who doesn't update hers very often). Seeing my "loved ones" gets me the fix I need to carry on without any family in town---unless you count Butch---I do get to see him pretty often. For that I am grateful.

*100 calorie packs even if they "cost $3.00 more and you can make your very own with ziplock snack bags for about 10 cents each". I told HIM to "go" for it and I would be perfectly happy. I'm all about giving myself limits and convenience. For that I am grateful.

*Christy, my nail techinician turned decorator who has the best drapery lady---and the lengths they'll go to to make me happy. Sitting here from 10-5 covering buttons (which they had to search high and low for to come up with something that would work) that I had to have for my window treatments because I just couldn't go with medallions and making sure the plaid lined up perfectly. Little did she know that I wouldn't have cared if the plaid lined up (I'll send pictures later---totally awesome). And the best part, she doesn't think I'm difficult. She said she likes that I know exactly what I want! For that I am grateful.

*A new recipe that was fabulous! The only new recipes I make anynore are the ones given to me by family and friends, so this was unusual. I'll share it with you later. It "turned out". For that I am grateful.

*And for all of my wonderful, quirky, family and friends. For that I am grateful.

*Oh, and I must not forget my new Solstice! For that I am grateful!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Car Issues and Lessons Learned

Saturday started off like most---me up at 4:30-5-ish, Butch still in bed. I came down at 8 to put myself together for the day. As I was ready to leave the house at 8:30, Butch informed me that he was taking a load to Goodwill/recycle with MY car. Even though it's MY car, I've never really had a car of my own. MY car has always been the family car. The conversation went like this:
ME: "For crying out loud, you have 4 cars and you have to take mine?"
He: "Which of my cars can hold all that crap? I'm not the one receiving all these boxes filled with styrofoam peanuts!" (I'm sure my ups buddy, Randy, would get a kick out of this conversation--yes, he and I are on a first name basis--he's even on my Christmas list).
ME: "You know it's close to Christmas and we're going to be getting a lot more boxes." (In my mind, I'm thinking of the little girl on Kid Nation that everyone hates---she always says, "DEAL With IT")!

Then I take a different approach.
ME: "I told you last night I was leaving at 8:30. Besides, you don't even ask if you can take my car? Let's be clear about this. From now on, you cannot have my car until after noon on Saturdays. Now I have to drag all that crap around with me. Does it stink?"
He: "NO, it doesn't stink, it's not garbage!"
ME: "Great, if I take the car, then I'll have to drive it all week like that." (He had a tee time set for noon-ish and then the Titan's game today. I could see I was losing this battle.) "Never mind, I'll take your car." (It's automatically understood which car that will be as I am "not allowed" to drive the sports cars, nor do I want to. I'm demoted to the "old man" car in which I can barely see over the dashboard and can't see out of the back at all---and you know I have backing up issues).

Off I go to my nail appointment---the first of many errands I have planned for the day. On the way, it dawns on me that I have to go back home after my appointment to get my car after all as I need it for the plants I planned to purchase--knowing they will not fit in his car. Now I'm mad all over again. When will my car ever be MY car?

I stewed about it for awhile, but it's an effort for me to stay mad. With the way my mind is "going", I have to keep asking myself, "Now why am I supposed to be mad?" But I digress.

When Butch got home from his golf game, I said, "By the way, the Solstice is MINE!" I really am going to take it. I'll let you know how that goes.

The rest of our evening was pleasant enough.

Now on to the tailgate party before the Titan's game today. As we were party-ing, Butch made a simple statement.
He: "By the way, you really shouldn't leave money in clear view in your console. Someone is going to break your window to get to it."
ME: "For crying out loud, (I realize I say that a lot) it's just a couple bucks. Besides, it's a test for your valet parkers".

That diversion tactic led to a little Central Parking bashing.

After the game, we get back to the car and I notice the money is gone. I'm thinking Butch was teaching me a lesson.

ME: "Oh, so you took my money?"
He: "No, I didn't touch it." (He looks all around, very concerned). "But, I did forget to lock the car. See, I told you, you shouldn't leave money in view."
ME: Well, my window didn't get broken now did it?" Chalk one up for me!!

Lessons Learned:
Even if I think I have my own car, I really don't.
And, he's always right even if he's the only one that thinks so!
And, yes, if you leave money in your console, someone will steal it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Survivor---A disgusting episode and just downright WRONG!!

This past weekend I was just discussing with my sister-in-law how Survivor doesn't make people eat gross stuff anymore. Well, last night, they had to eat disgusting stuff. Some of it was tame---chicken hearts and eel---not for me, mind you, don't think I could get those down. The rest was so gross it had me wretching just watching---half-formed birds with claws, beaks and feathers and 1000 year old eggs. But one thing they had to eat was just downright WRONG!!! They ate baby turtles!!! 3 each! I had to close my eyes as I moaned through the whole thing. I could feel their pain (the turtles, that is)! At least they didn't seem to crunch---I thought that shell was hard.

Hmmmm, since I'm getting sick of, no, I could never EAT them! Could I? If I were starving? Poor little Sydney and Sheldon.

See what evil thoughts I have?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Turtle Update

A week and a half ago, we decided it was time to bring the little guys inside. Butch bought a larger aquarium since I found out in my research that the plastic tank I had been using was woefully too small. I thought catching those little suckers was going to be a problem---they are really fast and can hide well. As it turned out, it had gotten a little chilly, so they were half frozen and easy to catch. We decided that we would keep them on the hearth in the family room as the tank is too big for the kitchen counter now. I promptly went on the internet to make sure that I was doing everything possible to make sure that Sydney and Sheldon were getting the best of care. I found that they need to have a varied diet. I'm sure they had all kinds of treats while in the pond outside, but inside, I only have the original pellets that the girls gave me. I went to a website that specializes in red-eared sliders and ordered $30.00 worth of various food including dried crickets. I couldn't wait for the food to arrive to see them get excited for all the special treats I bought them. They didn't act excited at all. I think they live by Butch's philosoply---they just "eat to live" rather than "live to eat" like most of us.

By the fifth day of being indoors, they started to really stink. Butch was ranting and raving that I had overfed them and the excess food had fouled the water. He was totally right and I acknowledged that fact. But knowing Butch, he gets on something like a dog on a bone and won't let go. The problem was that I needed him to clean the tank as now it's too heavy for me to manage. He said, "I knew this would become my job"! I told him that if he didn't want to clean their tank each week, then we could just take them to Pet Smart and give them away. He said, "No, because you love them". Awwww, isn't he sweet? But of course, I'll have to listen to the complaining each week when he cleans their tank. And you can bet that they will no longer be getting the warm showers and scrub (with an old toothbrush) that they got from me.

There was a split second when I was ordering the food that I had an evil thought. When the food cost came to $30.00, I noticed that you could buy the turtles for $1.75 each. I considered just flushing them---cheaper. And I am getting sick of them. But now, they are just one more responsibility. And to think I have to hire someone to take care of them when I'm out of town. I'm so over them.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Well, I guess it's official---we're actually househunting. Our realtor has been sending us listings for a couple neighborhoods since spring, so technically, I guess we've been househunting for several months. But today is the first day I actually went to look at some. Crazy, since I'm still in the midst of redecorating this house---fabric ordered, window treatments being made, custom rug in the works, etc.

Like everything else I do, I look at houses fast. (I did have a talk with myself this morning before leaving to take it slow so as not to fall down and make a fool of myself)! We saw 6 houses in 3 neighborhoods in 1 1/2 hours (only went in 4 of them). Since I love my current house, the standard has been set---must have white cabinets and moldings, proper "brown" hardwood floors, 10 ft. ceilings, open foyer, big dining room and pool. White appliances are pretty much a reach, but I just finally have all white in my kitchen and love them. Butch wants---well, never mind, doesn't matter as you know the saying "mama ain't happy...".

Found one! Butch happened to come home early today, so I was able to get our realtor to show it to us again. When we pulled up, a woodpecker was pecking the heck out of the decorative wood above the front door. When I saw the house this morning, I noticed this goofy owl hanging from a tree and was told that it was to scare woodpeckers away. Wouldn't you know that pesky little pecker would make his appearance in front of Butch. Apparently, the "critter ridder" (hey, Bridge, remember him?), is coming tomorrow to either capture him or kill him.

About this house---have been intrigued by it for a few weeks now. It's bigger than I really want (which is why I've never asked to see it), but it's really easy to justify it by all the advantages---all of our girls and their families live out-of-town, so we will always have a houseful when they're home and... it would help to ease our "tax" problem. Still, there are a few things we would have to give up, fireplaces, central vac, Butch's workroom and office. The pool and decking are beautiful but need pretty much work. After all of my leak problems this year, I'm not sure I want another "old" pool.

We're not ruling it out, but we're in no rush either. And, the thought of actually moving is pretty overwhelming. I really still want a condo in St. Louis for when we retire, but I have to work on Butch longer for that. Am past using the methods that really worked in the past---if ya' know what I mean!

Monday, October 8, 2007

I'll Call Mindy's PMS and Raise a Menopause!

Maybe the "young" folks have to deal with a little PMS, but getting older is no picnic either! I've already reported the relocation of my eyelashes to my chin. Well, that isn't the half of it! Let's start with the eyesight. Okay, been wearing readers for years---not a problem. But try taking a shower blind. I have my shampoo and conditioner in a precise order as the printing on the bottle is so small, that you need a magnifying glass with your regular glasses anyway. Occasionally, my cleaning lady will switch the bottles. You'd think I'd realize that the conditioner is opaque while the shampoo is clear. I've shampooed with conditioner and rinsed with shampoo more times than I like to admit.

As if shampooing blind isn't bad enough, you need to try shaving. About a year ago, I discovered after my shower that I had a huge wad of underarm hair that had slid out from under my armpit. Now mind you, I've never had to shave in that spot before. Somehow, my armpit had moved without me knowing it. Either it's gravity or weight that pulled it down! I find myself shaving halfway down my side these days. But yesterday was the worst. I was nearly finished shaving when I realized that I had the razor upside down and thus hadn't shaved anything. Well, that's just too darn bad as I had already neared my 7 minute shower limit (I'm always on a tight time schedule). The re-shaving will have to wait until my next regular scheduled shaving next month--due to hair loss from getting older, I don't have much left. If the young people would realize that they only have to wait 30 years, they get a Brazilian for FREE!

Gravity isn't very nice to the body as we age. Most women my age have to deal with the boobs heading south. Well, that's not a problem for me, but I must admit, my "girls" standing at attention all the time doesn't look quite right either.

I've been to the doctor for what I was sure were some early skin cancers only to be told that I had "age related" warts---twice! I've had skin tags removed---I'll be doing that on my own from now on. I can snip them with my sharp little Gingher scissors and save a bunch.

I won't even go into hot flashes, nightsweats and the dreaded colonoscopy. And to top it all off, I think my back is going out!! I've never had back problems before, but I guess when you have lower back pain and can barely stand up, that's what it means.

I do believe that Menopause definitely trumps PMS! Give me a pimple anyday---ahhh, those were the days!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Princess and the Pea

I think I've known for a long time that I am not a princess, but today proved it. I've been having problems with my plantars fascitis and today seemed to be the worst. By the time I got to Sandy's, my foot hurt so bad that I was limping. I decided that I needed to change shoes although the ones I had on seemed to have plenty of support. When I took them off, something fell out of my right shoe. Turns out that when I put on these new socks, I had inadvertantly left one of those little plastic connector pieces in. I spent the whole day walking on a little piece of plastic that caused my p.f. to become really inflamed. It might as well have been a pea.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What Goes Around, Comes Around

I never really knew what that meant until I realized that Butch is using my "tricks" on me now! I guess after 36 years, he's learned them all. He has been talking about getting himself a bike for several weeks. I tried ignoring him for awhile thinking he'd forget about it. But when he didn't, I just brought up the obvious reasons why it's a waste of money: no time to ride, it would just sit in the garage where we don't really have room for it and besides, it's probably just a passing fancy anyway. Apparently, he's really serious because he even brings it up with friends about how Barb won't let him get a bike (I guess I have more power than I thought).

Anyway, on our way to church on Sunday, I asked him what he was going to do today. (Okay, stay with me here, it will make sense soon). He replied, "I'm going to a couple Open Houses"! That caught me off guard! He's made comments about moving now and then, but again, I thought he'd forgotten about that---especially since I'm doing so much re-decorating. To make a long story short, the house was much more than I want or need. So, on the way home, I said, "Now I get it---if you can't have a new house, you'll take a new bike". Therefore letting me know he's settling and getting his way at the same time. What can I expect? He learned from the master!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Church Brings out the Worst in Me!

Everytime we go to Mass, I try really hard to pray and be holy. But it doesn't last long. My mind starts to wander. I invent stories about the people around me. There was a guy in the pew in front of us that had a huge dent in his head that was totally black in the center--about the size of a quarter. I couldn't imagine what could have fallen on his head to cause this. I finally settled on a story that he was bitten by a brown recluse after putting on his dusty, moldy old garden hat to prevent his bald pate from getting sunburned while he set up Japanese Beetle traps to save his heirloon roses. Seemed like a nicer thing to think about in church rather than he was hit by the ceiling fan during a romp in the hay. Besides that, he was a bit too old to be romping---if ya' know what I mean!

On to the next person---a young man in church alone with a baby. I admired the brave guy and imagined his story: his wife is off fighting in Iraq and he's keeping the home fires burning. Shaking off that idea, it seemed more likely that he was divorced and it was his weekend for visitation. Still, gotta' love a guy who takes a baby to church. Doesn't really fit the divorce scenario. I gave him the father of the year award. The only plausible answer was that he took the baby to church so his sleep deprived wife could sleep in.

All this in the first five minutes. Mass was going to be long today!

Next, a guy sat in the pew in front of us wearing nearly the exact same shirt as Butch. I nudged Butch and he growled---"I know"! If it wouldn't have caused a scene, I'm sure we would have moved. I was reminded of the time that we got to church in my car and it was pouring down rain. I had two umbrellas, so I gave him one. Unfortunately for him, they were matching Brighton umbrellas with red and pink hearts all over. He said, "oh, great"! But what choice did he have. On the way in, two separate people said "nice umbrellas". They are nice. He wasn't.

Okay, so that was 5 more minutes---it was going to be a long mass. I think I dozed off some. They played a song I liked, so I got the songbook and sang---pretty loud---I do that when I know the song.

Then it was time for Communion. Afterwards, when you are kneeling and supposed to be praying for a long time (I can only pray for a short time), I'm watching the shoes go by. I do that in airports too. "love 'em, hate 'em, hate 'em, like 'em"---the "hate 'em"'s usually win. There are some ugly shoes out there.

Priest sits, we all get to sit. Ahhh, now we're into the home stretch. I can just about smell breakfast.

Don't get me wrong, I do pray. It's just that you can only say so many Hail Mary's and Our Father's. I think it's okay---God gave me this short attention span---at least I'm there part of the time. That should count for something.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Happy Together

How appropriate that this song was by The Turtles!! Click on the image to see it bigger.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Creative Escape

Pam and I just returned from Creative Escape this past weekend. It is the ultimate scrapbook event. And for those of you that think $600.00 was a ridiculous amount to spend on something like this, let me put it in perspective for you. We brought the guys with us so they could golf. 3 rounds of golf cost them $630.00. At least our fee covered all classes, workshops, make and takes and food---not to mention all the "stuff" we got. We all had so much fun that we want to do it again next year. However, I don't know if we could be so lucky to "get in" again. They sold 600 spots in 1 1/2 minutes---yes, you read that right---1 1/2 minutes. I guess we were just lucky this time.

The picture below features Heidi Swapp and "Mr. Bazzill" who put this event together. So much fun!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Cell Phone Ignorance

I don't know what made me think I could download a new ringer for my phone without Mindy's help. But, I decided to do it anyway. Everyone knows my love of theater and showtunes. A few years ago with Mindy's help, I downloaded a tune from Phantom and another from Rent. Well, I'm kind of tired of them, so decided to download one from my favorite musical of all time---Les Miserables. The song I picked is "The Dream I Dreamed". Just punch a few buttons and select---simple, right? Wrong! Oh, I did it all right. I guess there was a way to preview or find out what the song would sound like. That would have been nice. Imagine my surprise when my phone rang with the lyrics---"I had a dream my life would be... so different from this HELL I'm liiiving"! That song is so beautiful with rich lyrics and I get that line? It's so far from the truth---my life is pretty darned good. Now what am I going to do? I've already paid $2.50 for it. But if I keep it, I might jinx myself. What to do? That's what I get for trying to be "hip".

New Furniture

In my younger years, I would never have dared to ask the salesman to move chairs from the 3rd level and a table from the 2nd level to the couch I found on the first level just to get a look at it all together. But, now I have an attitude! If those "clones" are going to annoy me, then they are going to earn their money!! Here are a couple pictures. I'll send another when I have the living room done.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Turtle Love---Who Knew

Here's a layout I did about my "guys". Lest you think I've gone off the deep end---scrapbooking my turtles, this layout was for my Not Your Ordinary Book Club. I didn't like the papers I had to work with this month and didn't want to waste good pictures on them. You can click on the picture to see it bigger.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Another one bites the dust....

And another one's gone! (Notice how I like to use song titles for my blog entries?)

On my way to St. Louis, I always look forward to stopping at my favorite scrapbook stores. On this trip, I had some extra time, so I decided to stop in Florissant at Scrapbook Designs. To my surprise, the store's last day had been the previous Friday. To assuage my disappointment, I decided to drive down Lindbergh about a half mile to the Steak and Shake of my teen years. "140 Steak" was a major stop on my stomping grounds. It was THE place to see and be seen as you drove continuously around and around---sometimes never even stopping for so much as a Coke. (And, truth be told, if it wasn't for 140 Steak and a friend (who I didn't like) of my best friend who spit on Butch's car (yep, she spit on his windshield), I never would have met the man of my dreams! Aaaah, these trips down memory lane take me back....

Anyway, Steak and Shake was GONE too! What's happening to this world when your youth is wiped out just like that! Oh wait, I guess my youth has been wiped out for awhile now!

Driving a little further, I decided to go to White Castle. As I pulled through the drive through, I, again, was taken back. This time it was White Castle in the 70's where my brother, Ron "streaked" through the parking lot. In case you are too young to know what "streaking" is, here's the short of it (and I do mean short---if ya' know what I mean): you get buck naked and run around. I wasn't there to witness this event as I was down the road at 140 Steak. Had Ronnie "streaked" Steak and Shake, that would have been something. I think he felt safer at White Castle as no one he knew would have been there. It's a good thing he had a couple of his buddies there to vouch for him as we might not have believed it. Oh, and, Ron, I told mom about that this week. She's going to "ground" you.

Back to my original story. On Wednesday, I went out for a manicure and pedicure. On the way home, I wanted to stop at another scrapbook store near my mother's house. It, too, was GONE!!! I was just there in May. It's really sad that so many scrapbook stores are closing. So if you are reading this and you scrapbook, please be sure to support your local store. End of public service announcement.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lost and Found

I've been losing my eyelashes. Well, come to find out, they've fallen onto my chin and taken root!

Friday, August 17, 2007

You Better Believe that Humans are Being Cloned

All you have to do is to step into a furniture store to know that it's true. There are at least 4 clones of each salesman in the store. Everywhere you turn, there he is! They all have the same pasted smile and ask the same questions: "Is there something in particular I can help you find"? ("No, you dummy, you just asked me that two seconds ago---oh yeah, that must have been your clone that was at the front door").

I decided to spend some time today looking for new furniture for the living room to replace what we gave Mindy for her apartment. I went to 5 stores in an hour---7 minutes in each store and 5 minutes travel time to each. I figured out how to avoid the clones for about 2 minutes. As soon as I entered a store, I took a sharp right and went across the windows and then down the far right side of the store. I was able to dodge the salesman and reach the back of the store before he caught up with me. I've learned the best way to handle them. 1. Do not make eye contact. 2. Keep walking briskly while refusing their attempts to help. In response, he will say one of two things (must be part of salesmanship 101 as the same statements are made in every store): 1. "You look like you are on a mission" (I am, I have exactly 7 minutes in this store). 2. "You look like you know what you are looking for" (I do, so get out of my way).

I can remember a time when I used to love to shop---when I didn't have much money to spend. We bought the furniture we gave to Mindy 30 years ago from Penney's because Butch couldn't stand the empty room. No telling how long the room will be empty this time. I only found one set that I like pretty well. Everything seemed so dark and either too formal or too trendy. Chocolate brown and blue are definitely the "in" colors, but will surely be out next week if I buy it. And what's with the skulls and crossbones in decorating (okay, that was kids stuff, but I saw it as I circled the entire store)---I thought the Grateful Dead died in the 70's! I've seen these skulls all over the place lately---even in my favorite scrapbook store. In the scrapbook paper, the skulls were mixed with darling little bluebirds. Don't have a clue what that's all about. I guess I should ask the grandkids. I guess I'm getting old. I guess that's true. I guess I better not rush with this furniture as it might be the last that I buy. I guess if I keep it for 30 years, I can get rid of it before I go to the home. I guess it sounds like a plan!

Monday, August 13, 2007

New Orleans is hotter than hell!

If you think hot is hot, then you've never been to New Orleans in August! Mindy and I left her apartment this morning at 7:15 a.m. and it was already 84 degrees and muggier than I've ever experienced. By the time we were on our way home at 9:45, it was already 95. It's so hot, that the coolest her apartment gets is 83. I haven't stopped sweating since arriving on Sunday afternoon! Reminds me of when Butch and I brought Mindy down here in 2003 to start at Tulane. By the end of the first day helping her move in on the 3rd floor of her dorm, I had sweated so much that my feet were permanently blue from my dyed, royal bule slides. Of course, my other shoes didn't cover my blue feet. I looked like a Smurff for a week!

I've spent the day trying to resolve some drain issues in Mindy's apartment to no avail. I've plunged, drano-ed and luquid plumber-ed all day. I get to take it up with the landlord tomorrow---who doesn't want to spend a dime on the place. I can't say I'm looking forward to it---and I believe in letting "kids" handle their own problems. But in this case, the landlord is not taking Mindy seriously enough. It's a little too late to threaten to leave as Mindy starts orientation on Wednesday. We'll see....

All we have left to do is to clean out Mindy's bedroom and re-organize everything. That way, she'll start the school year with everything in order. Knowing Mindy like I do, that will last about 2 1/2 hours!! At least I tried!!

I'm really looking forward to getting back to 102 degrees in Nashville and my own 76 degree house!!!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Stockpile Issues

Would you believe me if I told you I have stockpile issues? I guess after revealing my box obsession, this isn’t much of a surprise. But I’ve just realized it myself. A few days ago, I went into the pantry and was immediately attacked by bags! Bags of every description---shopping, brown paper, plastic grocery sacks---what in the heck am I saving them for? And, when Butch takes one, I say, “Oh no, not that one”!---as if one is more valuable than another.

I have to have multiples of everything---measuring cups, wooden spoons, spatulas (you’d think I was Martha Stewart), sheets (at least 5 sets for every bed in this house), towels (enough for a Turkish bath), and don’t even get me started on my scrapbook supplies. 5 drawers of ribbon---need I say more?

The point of going into my stockpile issues is because last night, I had to face the fact that I really do have a problem. I got home from an evening with friends to find Butch in a bad mood. I figured it was just work related, but no, he was quick to inform me that someone had left the freezer open and EVERYTHING thawed. Now, there are only a few things that really get him wigged out: leaving the water run in the pool overnight, ordering an expensive meal and then wasting it, Styrofoam peanuts, opening bottled water in a hotel room that costs $7.50, people backing into his car, and a certain daughter accruing a $35.00 overdraft fee for the love of a $6.00 Starbucks. Okay, there are a lot of things that wig him out.

Back to the freezer. Oh, my, gosh, what a gloppy, sticky mess there was. How did this happen? Well, let’s just say that the girls have been here all week. Enough said. Well, in all fairness, it could have been me.

We threw away all the ice cream, popsicles, pizzas, vegetables,
pizza rolls, fish and anything else that was warm. I spent the day cooking meat that was still cold and partially frozen: 8 lb. standing rib, 4 packages of chicken breasts, 1 turkey breast, 1 pork tenderloin, 1 beef brisket, 2 cherry pies, and 4 lbs. ground round. I put it all back in the freezer after I cooked it. I guess there’s some comfort in that.

But the point is this---why in the world do I have that much food on hand? There’s just the two of us now and I only cook twice a week (remember my plan---cook twice, eat 4 times?). I just need to get rid of that darn freezer. And if I can get myself to do that, maybe I can turn loose of some of those bags too.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Communication Problems

It’s no secret that I have a communication problem with my housekeeper. We mostly communicate by charades. When I talk to her, I have a terrible habit of saying everything twice. The second time, I say it louder with bigger hand gestures. If Margarita still doesn’t get it, I’ll say it a third time (still loud) and point to things. Occasionally, I try to resurrect my Spanish from high school 37 years ago. That hardly ever works because I’m sure I’m saying all the wrong words---not even sure I ever knew the right words back then. Lunch with her is downright painful---I mean, you can only talk about how hot it is for so long. Well anyway, on Monday, I was out running errands when I realized that I had left the chicken on the counter for dinner. I knew that I could not leave it all day as I’d taken it out at 6 a.m. My options were: 1. Turn around and go back home (which would have taken a lot of time as I was already 30 minutes from home and would need to return to the exact same area). Or, 2. Try to call Margarita and get her to put the chicken in the refrigerator.

I opted for #2 (which should tell you something right there). Knowing Margarita wouldn’t answer our home phone, I dialed her cell. She picked up in Spanish, “Hola”. Okay, I understood that, so far so good. I say, “Margarita, can you put the chicken in the refrigerator?”, very slowly, enunciating each syllable. Her response, “huh” (have you ever heard “huh” in a Spanish accent?). I tried again, louder with added hand gestures (something akin to the funky chicken)---what---did I think she could see me? The third time, I threw in the word “pollo”---I have no idea where that came from or if it even means chicken. I was about ready to throw “Big Bird” into the mix when she said “okay”. Not really sure if I understood her that she understood me, I repeated “can you put the pollo in the refrigerator? It’s on the counter.” By now, fellow motorists were honking at me to get a move on. Hey come on, I was in the middle of a chicken emergency. I can’t possibly drive, talk on my cell phone and pull Spanish words out of a hat all at the same time! Give me a break! Anyway, I said “gracias” (at least one word I’m sure of) and hung up.

When I got home, I held my breath as I walked in, hoping that she had gotten the message. She did!! Maybe there’s hope for us yet! Now if I can only figure out how to tell her not to spray the dust cloth over the hardwood floors. I’m already a “faller downer”, I don’t need any extra help!

Friday, July 27, 2007

My Granddaughters are Pond Scum!

Oooops, I meant to say, they are cleaning pond scum! I can't believe how excited they have been to help their grandpa clean out the pond. We're taking a little trip to Green and Hagstrom in Fairview tomorrow morning to buy water plants and fish. So we planned to get the pond ready tonight. I've taken some pictures of them siphoning and scrubbing. It's a stinky, nasty job. I'm surprised they are liking it. Kind of reminds me of when we were kids and our basement leaked. We would get on our hands and knees with rags and sop it up into buckets. We weren't told to do it, or made to do it. We just wanted to. It was water. It was play. It was fun. I don't know why. Seems stupid to me now. But at the time, we couldn't wait to get to it.

With the enthusiasm that the Jordan and Morgan are showing, I think we'll make it an annual tradition: Family Clean Out the Pond Day. Ranks right up there with our Family Clean Out the Garage Day, or Steph's favorite: Family Clean Out the Pantry Day. She used to complain that no other family had a Family Clean Out the Pantry Day. I don't understand that. Call it what you want, but make it a tradition and give it a name. Continues to work for us. On to the next generation!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

it's no surprise---I'm obsessed!

I've been researching my turtles. Sidney and Sheldon are officially called Red Ear Sliders. I have found out that they are both boys because they have very long--------tails (what did you think I was going to say?). That's good since I've been referring to them as "the boys". I also found out about their care and feeding. I've been giving them a shower every Saturday and I scrub their little shells. No smelly boys for me!

I took Jordan and Morgan to PetSmart today to buy some minnows as a treat for the guys. I also bought them some live plants as I discovered that they like to snack on them. We waited for Butch to get home so he could join in the excitement. We even let him be the one to release the minnows into the tank. Only Sidney went after them. Sheldon was scared off by them. It turned out to be a bit gruesome, so I felt guilty about those defenseless little minnows. The violence made me lose respect for Sidney. I don't think I like him very much anymore.

I think I'm getting tired of these guys. They are starting to seem like work.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

What a Way to Start a Saturday

Okay, so I was up at 4:30 a.m.---not unusual for me. Despite the fact that Butch had come out to the couch in the middle of the night and would be suseptible to noise, I decided to tackle the most dreaded job on my weekend to-do list---clean out the closet in my scrapbook room. Last summer, when I re-did my room, I never did the closet. The obsessive part of me couldn't just be happy doing the closet. Oh no, before I knew it, I was in the attic trying to make sense of that mess. I finally heard Butch about 6:15 and called down to him, "Buuutchhh, I need your help up here", very sweetly. He came upstairs to the 50+ boxes that needed to be discarded. (I don't know what it is about boxes. I save way too many. And when I really need one, I never have the right size anyway. If there's ever a box shortage, we're covered)! Butch started to grumble about who cleans out the attic at 5 a.m., so, I told him that at least I hadn't asked him to help me. After that, he didn't say another word. He did all the hauling. What a guy!

At 7:30, the phone rang. I answered and a guy on the other end said, "Are you just as gorgeous as you were 15 years ago"? Being the honest person that I am, I reluctantly replied, "well, not exactly". Then started the guessing game. I finally got it right---Rich Aubuchon---an old friend of Butch and his brother's---was 20 minutes away and wanted to stop by for breakfast. I assumed that he was with his wife. What is it with Butch's distant relatives and friends that they don't believe in giving advance notice that they are coming? They just give us a call when they are around the corner. Of course, Rich asked if we were busy. Well, who is at 7:30? We told the appropriate lies so that he wouldn't know we really were sort of put out.

I quickly put on some clothes and make-up (might as well do the best I can). I came out of the bedroom and noticed that Butch had turned on lights all over the house---even the dining room (isn't that so cute---he "threw caution to the wind" and disregarded the waste of electricity and dollars).

When Rich arrived, I about died. He was on a motorcycle. I knew that I wouldn't hear the end of that. Butch has been talking about a motorcycle for at least 5 years. I keep saying "no", as if I really have a say. Since he hasn't gotten one, maybe I have more "say" than I realize. We'll see if he tries to wear me down this time.

Anyway, I made bagel-wiches and we had a nice visit. It is nice catching up with old friends. I'm glad that he felt welcome enough to call us.

Falling Down

I've always been a faller downer. Or actually, I should say a faller upper. My falls almost always occur while walking UP stairs (unless, of course, I was faking being sick in high school. Then I would set my alarm for 5 a.m. and then pretend to fall down the stairs because I was so "dizzy" and sick. Worked everytime!). Well, on Tuesday, I had a handyman here to give me an estimate for a bunch of odd jobs. As I was taking him upstairs, I fell. He was behind me, but luckily I wasn't wearing a skirt, nor did I fall on him. He said, "oh, mam, are you all right"? I quickly reassured him that this happens all the time. And then---I fell again! At that point, I just told him that I fall everyday! I felt ridiculous saying that, but that's the best I could come up with.

So now, fast forward to Friday. The handyman is here doing the work. I leave to deliver some gift bags. When I arrived at the lady's house to whom I was delivering, it was starting to rain. As I took the first box to the door, I rang the bell and hurried back to my car for the next box. In my haste to beat the rain, I fell on the front porch--totally down and sprawled out. I was quickily trying to get up before being discovered. I was about half way up when the lady opened the door and said,"oh my, did you fall"? I considered lying, but decided she had seen too much. So, I just told her I do it all the time. I mean, really, what can you say under those circumstances?

When I got home, I told "Glen" about it. I just wanted to prove to him that I really do fall all the time. He must have thought he was working for a nut case.

I really must slow down. Don't want to break a hip!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

And a few more...

Brantley and Victoria have become the best of buddies. We're so happy to have Brantley in the family. She's a sweetheart---very well-behaved and easy-going. Finally, someone Victoria's age!

More Vacation Pictures

I'm Baaaaackkkk!

The Grand Hotel---Mackinac Island is the most incredibly beautiful place I've ever been---talk about luxury! The island is exactly what I expected Martha's Vineyard to be (and was really disappointed when we visited there). You truly feel like you've stepped back in time. No cars allowed, bikes and horses only. Very quaint with darling houses perfectly landscaped with beautiful gardens. The hotel itself was built in 1887 and contains most of the original furniture. Each of the 450 rooms are decorated differently---no two alike. The entire place is very colorful and inviting. The front porch is 650 feet long with 1000 red geraniums and 100 white rockers. I had expected to park myself there for most of the week to read and stitch. There was so much to do that I only did that for about 3 hours one day.

You have to dress for dinner and the guys had to have coats and ties everywhere in the hotel after 6 p.m. We girls loved getting all "gussied" up---but the guys weren't too thrilled. The dining room was to my liking with cloth tablecloths, fresh flower arrangements, china and crystal. The original china was made in St. Louis and was in a display case in the grand parlour. I thought that was pretty interesting.

I took the garden tour and Butch joined me for the historic lecture. I love all the educational "stuff"! I just want to know everything!

There were so many activities---it was great to see the kids having the run of the place. They had a great carnival on Tuesday and Wednesday with really good prizes. Butch had a good time winning stuff too. You know how he likes free stuff! This was such a family oriented place----we highly recommend it, but wait until most of the kids are 5 and older. They have to be 5 to participate in all the children's programs. It's an all inclusive type place---breakfast and dinner, on your own for lunch (we mostly had lunch at the pool).

The best part---this vacation was about half the price of Disney!!! We'll definitely be going back.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mindy is driving me nuts!!!

There, I've said it! I know I shouldn't, but it's true! She just got home this morning. I let her drop me off at bridge so she could have my car. I got home to Mindy's laundry in the back hallway, messy kitchen with the leftover takeout bags from Richland where she ordered her lunch, pantry door hanging open, covers in disarray in the family room, Butch's recliner left in the "up" position, shoes on the floor, my computer open and fingerprinted up, graduation gifts opened with wrappings everywhere, bathroom cabinet door wide open and more of her belongings in the entry. She's like a tornado and you can follow the wreckage through the house! I just have to remind myself that it's temporary and just cherish this time I have with her.

We leave tomorrow for our family vacation on Mackinac Island. We're all looking forward to it---despite the cool weather there. It's only going to be in the low 60's all week with nights in the 40's. Mindy is bummed as she prefers hot weather. Steph and girls have not adjusted to the change in climate in Wisconsin and all have colds. I hope they are past the contagious stage when we get there.

There is so much to do and see---horseback riding, croquet, golf, butterfly house, swimming (if the pool is heated), spa, tea rooms, bowling, bike riding, etc. I'll probably need a rest after our vacation!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Even after all these years...

Butch can still surprise me! You know about my plan to cook on Sunday and Monday---well, last night I was asking Butch if he had anything in mind that he'd like for dinner tonight. He shocked me by saying, "I want to go out to dinner"! I whipped my head around so fast you would have thought it was a scene straight from the Exorcist! He NEVER suggests eating out. And we're talking a Sunday night even. That never happens---we don't eat out on week nights. Don't get me wrong, we certainly eat out our fair share, but it is never his idea. Remember, he's a man that doesn't care the least bit about food. I really wasn't sure that I'd heard him correctly. I pressed the issue, "What? You want to go out? Why?" He said he was in the mood for a good steak. Okay, so I'm all over that! Then I went too far....I was asking too many questions. I could tell that his eyes were starting to glaze over. He had already reached his 100 word quota for the day. Sensing my dinner out might be in jeopardy, I let it go.

This morning, I started hinting around to see if dinner out was still on the proverbial table or if I had dreamt it. "What do you have planned for the day?" He mentions a couple things, but no dinner. About noon, I just asked him outright if he still wanted to go out. He said yes, but didn't tell me where. Finally about 4, I asked him what time he wanted me to be ready. He said 5:30, but still didn't say where we were going. On occasion, when we're out and about, he'll just take me somewhere for lunch. He likes his little surprises, so I didn't press the issue. I'm thinking---a good steak---Stoney River or Sperry's. Then I noticed that he changed into jeans, so then I think at the very least---Outback. We get in the car and head in the direction of Cool Springs. Outback is looking like a clear possibility. Why I think this, I do not know as it's been about 5 years since we've been there. Finally, I could not contain my curiosity and asked. He said, "Longhorn"! Not only was I not surprised, I wasn't even disappointed. They have a great salad that I like.

We get to the restaurant and he has forgotten his glasses as usual and borrows mine---remarking (as he always does when he borrows them) that they are really too strong. He decided on the Renegade---8 oz. portion. I get the salad. Our food arrives. We are having a pleasant dinner and nice conversation. As he is eating his "mini" steak, I asked him if it was good. He said that it was, but who in the world could eat the 12 oz. size? I swear, I don't know how the man thrives.

All in all, we had a pleasant dinner for around $30 bucks and were back home within an hour. We watched the results of "So You Think You Can Dance". A very nice ending to the weekend. He can surprise me anytime.