Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What's in My Closet---as Promised

These are my jackets. To the right are what's left of my shoes. I'm over wearing uncomfortable shoes just for beauty's sake. If they aren't comfortable, they are gone.

Here ya' go. A few photos of my closet. I do have one thing over Butch---mine is color co-ordinated. I do have junk lying on the floor during the week--especially if I'm going to wear it again---why hang it up? Mostly my "hangin' around the house" clothes and several pairs of slippers are on the floor. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my slippers? Not perfect like his, but I'm happy with it! Notice the all white hangers? No wires for me! Oh and my stuff all hangs in the same direction too. 

The best idea that I've had that has really worked well for me---I keep a shopping bag in the closet. When I try something on and don't like it for whatever reason, it goes in the bag. When the bag is full, I give it to Margarita. Much better than continually trying on the same things over and over again. Let's face it, if it doesn't fit, don't torture yourself!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What's in Your Closet?

I've often complained about the fact that Butch thinks nothing of "junking" up the bathroom just so he can keep his closet perfect. I finally decided to offer proof! There's  no doubt about it, he has the neatest closet this side of the Mississippi! Every Monday, I take all the "crap" he has laying around the bathroom and shove it in his closet. He HATES that. Of course, for the longest time, he thought Margarita was doing it. I'm ashamed to say that I let her take the fall! But, sincerely, why should I have to look at his "junk" just so he has a perfect closet---that NO one sees?

All items of clothing are hung in the same direction with like things together.

He's definitely set if there's a nuclear fallout. He has the rain ponchos all set. Add the power bars and a few bottles of water and I think he can survive at least a month in his closet. Of course, the window could be a problem. I'm sure it's not air-tight! 

I'd have to say, when it comes to survival, his closet is a close second to his car.  Ahhh, but that's another photo shoot!

I'll share my closet soon. Definitely cuter than his!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I've Sunk to an all Time Low!

Or maybe Butch is rubbing (literally) off on me!

You know all of those perfume flyers you get in the mail at this time of year? Well, I've been able to try a new scent everyday by opening them one at a time and rubbing them all over my wrists and neck. Really works!

So if you are on a tight budget this year, you can give that. It's like receiving a dozen different perfumes for Christmas---at, well, "$0.00" the cost!!

You can thank me later....
The Queen of last minute gifts!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Now We're Even

This was to be my baking day---3 different cookies, party mix, 2 cheese balls, roast beef for sandwiches. Some for the family this week and some for the Titan's tailgate tomorrow. I'm enjoying the process---holiday music on the iPod and a glass of wine. Weeeellllll, Connie called about noon to say that she was dropping off the petit fours I ordered. She doesn't arrive and doesn't arrive. Finally, I get a call from her that she and Jack had been in an accident at the entrance to our neighborhood. Her exact words, "Barb, we've been in an accident at the entrance to your neighborhood. I'm hurt, but the petit fours are okay." I'm like---"I'm on the way!" I slip into some shoes and run out the door with no coat, glasses or cell phone---and it's coooolllld in Nashville today---38 degrees at that time.

I get to the car and Connie's bleeding all over. I look around for something to sop up the blood. I notice her gloves, but decide not to ruin those. I check the trunk and find a golf towel. I told her to apply pressure. She says, "and I really liked this outfit" to which I said, "don't worry, you can buy another at Costco." It's a joke that she finds a lot of her clothes there. But she laments, "no, this came from Ann Taylor!" I say f*** the outfit! Anyway, the bleeding stops so I get a look at the injury. She definitely was going to need stitches---I guessed about 4 or 5 (I'll find out tomorrow if I was right). Both she and Jack had their seatbelts on when they were rear-ended. I think she hit her head on the garage door opener. The police, fire department and rescue truck arrive. They started asking all the questions, then loaded Connie on a stretcher with a neck brace. Jack was out of the car, so they put a neck brace on him and put him in the ambulance too. Later, Connie told me that she was wondering if the man they put in with her was the man that had caused the accident. She didn't want to look at him or talk to him. The paramedics were questioning him. He said his name was John. Then they asked his last name---when he said Potter, she said, "Jack" and only then looked over to find out it was her own husband. From there, she started to correct every answer he gave the paramedics. The paramedic told Jack that that was the reason men get married---so their wives can correct them all the time!

I did overhear Connie say that she was 60. The paramedics kept repeating 60 yr. old female. I jumped in to correct that---almost 61!! Anyway, the ambulance left and I was sticking around to move the car and get all of their personal belongings. The cops started asking me all kinds of information---date of birth, driver's license info, auto insurance info, make and model---finally, I just told him that I'm completely ignorant about cars. I was just there to get my petit fours and move the car to my house. 

It took almost 2 hours before I was able to leave---I was completely frozen. Some nice man came up and "loaned" me a coat for about a half hour. I thought we were about done, so I gave it back to him and then spent another hour freezing. Why didn't I just go home and get my coat, you ask? They told me I couldn't leave. The crappiest thing---after all the emergency vehicles left, there was one cop left to write up the report. He got cold, so SAT in his warm car and had the rest of us---there were 4 cars involved---stand outside his car while he wrote. He would roll down his window if he wanted to ask one of us something. What a jerk!

When I finally got home---at 2, I got my coat and Butch and I went to the hospital. When I saw Connie, I told her that now we're even for the time last year when I asked her to pick up my mail when I was out of town. One of the days, she found about 15 huge boxes on my front porch that she had to move around to the garage. She has not let me forget that! 

I ask you, who made the bigger sacrifice? Moving a few boxes, or "cookie interuptus" (you've heard of coitus interuptus---same thing, but cookies).

Oh, and tonight, I am so sore ALL over. I finally figured out it's from tensing up and shivering for 2 hours! Feels like I've been in a wreck!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Things I get Myself Into!

Last weekend, I was feeling kind of sorry for Steph. You know, the single mom, working full time and running the girls all over tarnation. Then to top that off, she had to give up her Saturday to help a friend move---between meeting Butch to get a Christmas tree, Morgan's basketball game and Jordan's Winter Formal preparations. Since I was completely finished with all of my decorating, shopping and wrapping, I offered to help her on Sunday. I had a 7 a.m. hair appointment and went over straight from there---arriving about 9:30. She doesn't have much, so I knew it wouldn't take long. Seeing her meager holiday collection, I sent her to Walgreen's to get some garland for her stairs. 

While we worked, she told me about her Thanksgiving dinner she hosted with friends. Each person brought a part of the meal. She did the turkey. The whole thing turned out to be somewhat of a nightmare. The girl bringing the appetizers came an hour late. Another friend preparing the soup came straight from the grocery store and then began cooking rather than having done it ahead and just heating it up. And Steph's turkey was---well, how shall I put this---"white"!  She cooked it in the crock pot, so of course, it didn't brown. Admittedly, she is not a cook.

Here's the part where I open my big fat mouth. I said, "Well Steph, what you need to do is prepare the entire meal and just have your friends "pitch in" on the cost. I can give you an easy, yet impressive menu that even you can handle. In fact, I'll help you so that you can learn how to prepare it all." Did I really say that? Big mistake!

I finished doing what I could in the way of decorating, but of course, had visions of what could be.

I went home and raided my Christmas closet for ribbon, greenery, flowers and discarded decorations. I discovered a tub of nutcrackers that I didn't even remember still having. 

Then I put together her Easy Dinner Party Menu for 8:
Spinach Balls
Bourbon pecan pork tenderloin
Mashed sweet and white potatoes
Fruit casserole
Sister Shubert rolls
Fudge pie with peppermint ice cream

I even went so far as to send her the grocery list and recipes with the menu. 

She responded with "Mom, this all looks really good. How about you come over at 5:30 on Friday night---the party starts at 7." I'm like---"what the heck? I just assumed a WORKING WOMAN would plan a party on a Saturday night. I thought we'd get everything ready in the morning (everyone knows I only work in the morning!). What if I get an invitation for Friday night? Unlikely, but still...." So, I take a deep breath and agree. I did tell her that we needed to get together this weekend to make the spinach balls in advance and put them in the freezer.

Now, back to the Christmas decorating. I picked the girls up from school on Monday. When we got to their house, I spent about an hour finishing up the decorating. Steph was very grateful and excited when she got home. She called to thank me and I reminded her that this was not going to be an annual thing. I don't really like doing it and didn't want her to expect it.

My week progresses---full of fun---it's the holidays. On Friday afternoon, Steph calls me and tells me that her dinner party has now grown to 16! OhMyGosh!!! Now I'm freaking out. I leave for New York on Monday with Butch. I don't get home until Wednesday night where I go straight from the airport to Connie's annual ornament exchange. Steph will be there too. 

Thursday is my bridge club luncheon and party for which I do everything, centerpieces, table favors, and prizes. I've got that all ready to go, but the party takes up the whole day. That night is the school Christmas Mass and party and then it's Friday---day of the party. It's not even my party and I'm completely stressed about getting everything done. I told her that she'd have to take a half day off work and I can't get there until 4. 

I sent her an alternate menu that would be even easier and lend itself to a large group. She didn't want to change the menu---still having visions of a fancy "sit-down" meal. Soooo, when she came over today to make the spinach balls, my first words were, "you've just made this so much harder on yourself (and me---although I didn't say that part). I don't even do sit down dinners for 16!" At which time she chose to inform me that now we're up to 18!!! Double everything---including time! (Then I remembered---but didn't tell her---that I actually served this exact meal for a sit-down dinner for Mindy and 29 of her closest friends before her Winter Formal senior year---I had tables set up all over).

Anyway, I went over the entire menu with her. Discussed the timeline, cookware, serving utensils, bowls, dishes, napkins, centerpieces, glasses, candles, silverware, salt and pepper shakers---every aspect of the evening. Then she hauled it all home! Yep, that's right, she borrowed everything from here. I told her that there were a couple of rules if she borrowed my stuff. She can't just hit me with it when I drop the girls off and say, "oh mom, here's your stuff, take it home." She has to haul it all back. And when she does, she can't just dump it in the house---everything had to be put back and hauled where it belongs. I do have everything under the sun for entertaining.

I'm looking forward to my trip to New York tomorrow. It will be a nice break. I have my itinerary all planned out. After dropping my luggage at the hotel, I'm going shopping at Macy's. I just love that store---just feels like Christmas there. Butch will be working. Monday night, we're seeing "Avenue Q" off-Broadway. Monday is the "off" day for theater. I've already seen "Avenue Q" but Butch hasn't. It's "fab." 

On Tuesday, I'm going to the New York Botanical Garden Conservatory. I've never been there, but I'm dreaming that it will be gorgeous for Christmas. After, I'm going to window shop on 5th Avenue. I don't like to actually shop those stores as they are ridiculously expensive, but I love the window displays. I'm also going to Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. It's a gorgeous old church right on 5th. That night, we're seeing "God of Carnage"---2009 Tony winner---Best Play---starring Jimmy Smitts and Annie Potts. My favorite thing to do in New York is the theater---in fact, that's my main reason for going. I'm just not that much of a shopper anymore. Plus I love the excitement of the city. 

I always want to do something festive during the holidays, so this short trip will be fun. Then it's home and a dinner party that isn't even mine. The things I get myself into...me and my big fat mouth!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How Many Decorator's Does it Take to Spoil the Effect?

I guess the answer would be 2! I think it's cute that Butch cares enough to decorate anything. Of course, he has "his" tree---the real one in the family room. If I put an ornament on, he moves it---like I'm a little kid. That's okay with me. He can have it the way he wants.

He took the trimmings from the tree and put them around the house along with the magnolia leaves and holly greens. The addition of the frasier fur branches is all good---I love that smell. It's the smell of Christmas to me.

Our tree topper wouldn't fit this year. We have a 10 ft. tree. By the time he cuts the 12" top off, the "trunk" part was too fat for the topper. So, this is what he did---he placed the topper in the dining room. Now there is officially no place to put a single dish in there! 

I can let him have his little "touches". See, I'm not so rigid after all....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Those annoying cell phones!

Here is an email that I sent to the girls this morning. 

"Okay girls, properly warn the "kids"---there will be no cell phones allowed in the dining room or on Christmas Eve---not even in the room!

I thought of this as I'm thinking more and more about how offended I am when cell phones are constantly ringing. To me it just sends the message that "I don't think you are important enough to spend time with, so I need to get this because whoever is calling is more important than you". Seriously, I know this is my problem as everyone seems to think it's okay to annoy everyone around them with their calls. 

I'm having my "day" group luncheon here today. I've made it really nice---good china, hand-made table favors and all. I was thinking of posting a sign on the front door to leave your cell phones in the car. So you see, I'm not just picking on the kids. Really, except for certain times (like dinner), I could care less that the kids are texting, playing games, etc. 

I just figured I can set the rules for my house! Of course, your dad doesn't get a say!!"

End of email....

I'm not saying that cell phones haven't been the greatest invention since sliced bread, I'm just saying that there needs to be some etiquette that goes along with them. Just a few common courtesies would be nice. Okay, if you must answer your phone, then take the call away from present company. Usually, I just hit the button that makes it stop ringing and deal with it later. If it's an emergency (which is why I originally got a cell phone), then my "kids" know to call back immediately. Of course, an emergency to Mindy is an entirely different thing. "Mom, where can I find lemon zest?" or, "Mom, I know it's 9:30 p.m., but I just got off work and I want to make Rotel Chicken. What do I need to get from the store?" Side note---then I love it when she accuses me of never calling HER. Heck, she never gives me a chance!

Everyone knows I'm not much of a phone person---such a time waster. You all know me---I talk a LOT! I have to schedule a time to even call my mother because I know it will be at least a half hour. Sandy and I have a lengthy conversation at least once a week which I enjoy---she calls me on Monday mornings, or I'll call her on Thursday mornings. Mindy has been calling more frequently recently, but they are quick conversations as she's usually running an errand for work. I don't mind a quick call to get or give information, but email is my preferred method of communicating. 

That brings up another annoyance---while I'm ranting here. If you are not going to respond to emails, then don't give out your email address. My "biggest" gripe of all is if I have to make a follow-up phone call because someone didn't respond to an email. Some of those "people" have been "punished" by NOT getting the call---then being "bummed" later. I just say, innocently, "well, I sent you an email." 

Gosh, I guess I'm getting old because I'm sure getting cantankerous! And in this season of JOY!!! 

Really, I'm very happy right about now---all the decorating is done, shopping done and wrapped and the calendar is FULL! Love that. This weekend, I'll start some baking. 'Tis the season....

For all of you---get up an hour earlier and give yourself some more time! That way, you can talk on your cell phones and not feel guilty about the time you're wasting!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Our "HOME" for the Holidays!

Okay, here we go again. The other pictures didn't quite line up right. I'm not sure how to fix that. When I add the text, it looks just fine. Then when I hit "publish post", it just goes however it wants. I guess you can figure it out.

These cuties are from the 50's. I picked them up in an antique shop. Although we didn't have these exact ones, they remind me of my childhood at Christmas.

This picture is my collection of Murano
glass Christmas trees from Venice, Italy. I didn't actually get them from there, but had definitely planned to add to my collection when I was there. I never saw a single one and nobody seemed to know what I was talking about. I paid a hefty price for them---but they were probably made in Taiwan! 

Here are my elves. I like to refer to my decorating scheme as "Time" for the Holidays. Jeanne's the one that made me realize I have a "thing" for clocks. The kicker here is that none of these clocks are real---just all fake clocks and clock plates.

The elves are named Tick, Tock and Tick II. I didn't name them, that's what's on the collector's paperwork that came with them. 

The brown jeweled clock is real. I got it at the flea market for $4.00. But my best and favorite find is the old toaster. It is in really good shape. There is no rust on it even though this picture makes it look like it. It's pretty shiny---Westinghouse. I paid $5.00 for it. I checked it out on the internet and found a place that sells old toasters. This EXACT one sold for $50.00. I just buy what I love and sometimes I luck into a good deal. I'm going to keep this up all year round as part of my dining room decor.

In the next picture is another flea market find---the old scale. I'm having a love affair with scales right now. I have to stop buying them because I think I've given them to everyone I can think of. This one is also part of my regular decor. The nutcracker is standing on the other end of the scale.

Lastly, you have the blue scale I (well, Janice) found in St. Louis. Sitting on top---the little rolling pin---is an invitation I made last year for my cookie exchange. I decided to use it as a decoration. What the heck else am I going to do with it? I could put it on the tree. Just goes to show, I have a ton of useless ideas. 

The old jar to the right is a newer find---flea market after Thanksgiving. It's really a cool jar with a pattern and an old, rusty green lid. I put ornaments in it and I just might leave them in there all year round.

Now you've seen just a little glimpse of how my decorating is all consuming! But I have to say, I do enjoy it when it's done!

"Hand-made Christmas"

You know I'm not so good at these pictures, but I keep trying. Here goes---the picture of the Christmas tree is made out of pins. I made this about 10 years ago after seeing the idea in the Mary Engelbreit Home Companion. I went out the day after Christmas and bought every pin I could find with plans to make these for gifts the next year. Never did it---only made this one. But I do love it---maybe someday I'll get the others made.

Here we have my favorite cross stitch. Sandy made it for me about 14 years ago. I love it so much that it stays up year round in the powder room. 

On the far left (if that's how it shows up, you can see the button trees I made last year. I have several of these in different colors around the house.

Directly left is the ornament Christmas tree that I made. Connie paid a pretty price at a silent auction and invited Steph and me to join her and Amanda. Despite several burns from the heat gun, we all loved the results.

Stephanie made this tree for me a few years back. It's just about my favorite tree in the house---even if it's miniature.
Besides the regular tiny ornaments, it has miniature photo ornaments that she made. The tree itself is lime green and it is lighted. This picture doesn't do it justice.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A.D.D. Really Kicks in This Time of Year!

It's this time of year that makes me realize how "bad" my A.D.D. is. I got up a little after 5 a.m. to start in on the dreaded Christmas decorating. I just about kill myself to get it all done in a day. Anyway, after getting the coffee and tea going and putting on some Christmas music, I started in. My plan was to start in the kitchen, finish it and then move on to the next room. It never works out that way---no matter my good intentions. As I'm getting out stuff, I might as well take it to the room it's going to go in. Sure, having a huge Christmas closet is a plus (and a major selling point when we bought this house 14 years ago), but it's still one heck of a lot of hauling up and down stairs. I have to put away all of my regular decorations to make room for the Christmas stuff. I try to remind myself that it's good exercise.

I have the entire top shelf in the pantry full of Christmas stuff. Butch gets on the step stool and hands it down to me while I hand "big" stuff (mostly lamps and floral arrangements) up to him. This year, I told him to hand down everything that's up there, as whatever I don't use, is going. I've been in a major clean out mode for awhile now. I guess it's because I don't have room to bring in new stuff. 

*Gone is the cornucopia that's about 3 ft. long that I haven't used in at least 6 or 7 years. Even when I did use it (like twice), that much fruit started to rot after a few days. 
*Gone is the huge "eggplant" soup tureen that has never seen any soup. 
*Gone are half a dozen pairs of candle holders. If you've ever seen my candle "cabinet"---well, it's downright ridiculous---how many candles and holders I have. 
*Gone are angels, figurines, ornaments and assorted other decorations.
*Gone are a half dozen tablecloths (I don't even have tables that size anymore), assorted napkins, towels and 2 needlepoint (store-bought--not handmade) angel pillows. 
* Almost gone (and may be after this holiday season) is this huge, ceramic, gingerbread girl, hot drink dispenser that I've had for about 5 or 6 years that has never been used. I got it as a gift and thought it was really cool. After putting it in the "get rid of pile", I pulled it out to give it one more chance. If I don't use it this holiday season, it's gone. 

See there, my A.D.D. kicked in and side-tracked me from where I was going with this story.

As I'm decorating, I'm also washing everything so that it is all sparkly, shiny and clean for the season. I went to put a decorative plate on the bakers rack. When I moved something that had to be put away, I noticed some brown "drips" running down the wall. Looks like hot chocolate. Can't imagine when that happened as we don't usually drink hot chocolate. Oh, wait, I think the girls had some when they stayed with us a while back when Steph was out-of-town on business. How it got "sloshed" there I'll never know. Anyway, I went to the sink to get the dishcloth and decided that the water was dirty and cold. I emptied it and started a new sink. Then while that was filling, I decided that the dishcloth was pretty cruddy. Took that to the laundry room and thought, "well, I might as well start a load". Then I noticed that Margarita washed some jeans of Butch's, but folded them. He likes them "hung" (just like him---LOL), so I hung them up. Got back to the kitchen just in time to prevent the sink from overflowing. Poured myself a cup of tea. Remembered that I hadn't taken my medicine which requires food, which I hadn't had yet. Made myself a half a bagel and started eating it in bites here and there while unloading the dishwasher. When I'm working, I don't sit down and eat. Didn't like the Kenny G Christmas music that was playing, so I decided to take my iPod upstairs and put the 692 Christmas songs I have on it. Had to call Steph because with a recent software update, I didn't know how to do it. Left that to "sync" (side note---I never remembered to go back and get it for the rest of the day). Took my medicine that got caught in my throat because you can't really take a pill with hot liquid. It leaves a disgusting taste in my mouth too. Then I needed a kleenex. When I went into the bathroom to get one, I remembered about the stuff I have stored in the vanity. Got that out and decided to just go ahead and decorate the powder room. Went to the front porch for fresh greenery (I have the ladies that do the outside decorating cut extra for me). I noticed that one of my wreaths on the front door was higher than the other. Fixed it. Took the greenery inside and placed it in the powder room. Had to go to the laundry room cabinets to get the Christmas towels. Put the washed load in the dryer. Put out the fresh towels and admired my first "finished" room---even if it was a teeny one.  I remembered that I needed to get some things out of the library cabinets. As I was getting out my Murano Christmas trees, they were all sweaty---I don't know how or why that happens, but they are like that every year when I get them out. I stopped to wash them and set them to dry. I noticed the plate that I wanted to put on the baker's rack and then saw the hot chocolate drips. It was exactly  3 hours and 12 minutes from when I first went for the dishcloth. Story of my life!

What I've learned so far this holiday season:
*Dipping hand-painted ornaments in dishwater because they are dusty is not a good idea as the paint will run.
*Leaving Cremora in the cream container for a year turns into concrete---took 6 hours of soaking to get it all out.
*I'm burning the "good" candles---what the heck am I saving them for---that's why I have a kazillion.
*Artificial trees shed when they get old too.
*Spending 8 hours on hard wood floors in slippers makes my plantars fasciatis flare up.
*Although Christmas decorating is exhausting work, it sure does look good when it's done.
*Even though the decorating has only been done for a couple hours now, I'm totally dreading the "take-down"---which will be here before we know it.
*I can go 8 hours without going to the bathroom.
*When you discover that the pants you've been wearing all day are inside-out, you're so tired that you don't even give a s**t!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sandy's Baked Potato Soup

Sandy likes to use crock pot recipes since she's busy running kids around. This is a good one!

Sandy's Baked Potato Soup
6 lg. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 lg. onion, chopped
3 (14 oz) cans chicken broth with roasted garlic (or can use plain)
1/4 cup butter
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
3 Tbsp. chives
sour cream
bacon, cooked and crumbled
shredded cheddar

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in crock pot.
2. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
3. Mash mixture to slightly thicken. Stir in cream, cheese and chives.
4. Garnish with sour cream, bacon and additional cheese before serving.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Little Friendly Family Competition

When we are together, there is no shortage of games. I played a dvd version of Disney Bingo with the little girls yesterday. Elizabeth won. Today it was Pretty Pretty Princess---this time I won.

Then it was on to Wii bowling. We all played with Elizabeth and Victoria. Victoria is pretty darn good---doesn't even really try and still does well. After 2 games, the girls were done, so Butch and I took on Sandy and Greg. I haven't lost my bowling "touch". We beat them 2 out of 3 games, so they owe us 2 bucks. Did I mention that we don't play anything without a little cash riding on it.

I knew it was coming and the time has finally arrived. Mitchell can beat his grammy at ping pong. I can't say that I'm too happy about that as I've always taken pride in my ping pong skills! He beat me 2 games today. I played Sandy tonight and beat her 2 out of 3 games. We started another round before we were interrupted and each have one game. We'll finish it off tomorrow. I guess I'd be better if I played every day! Sandy says that they do play just about every day---and Mitchell plays with his friends all the time. The boys have also added an aspect that I guess only boys would think up. If you lose, you have to raise your shirt and let the winner "zap" you with the ping pong ball. The boys end up with welts on their backs. Fun, huh? Thank God Mitchell didn't ask me to raise my shirt! I have enough welts on my own with my hives---a zap from a ping pong ball would definitely set off an attack!

We did a little ski jumping on the Wii. After watching everybody several times, I jumped the furthest on my first jump. Butch was "bummed". He said, "no, way"! It's about speed and balance and as everyone knows, I do everything fast---and my balance isn't all that bad either. I might have done the best, but my baby toe paid for it! (Oh, and Mitchell's new bed is a killer. I nearly broke the other baby toe the first night!).

Butch and Greg are playing golf now. The Wii is pretty darn amazing. I don't understand how it knows exactly what you are doing. Like on the ski jumping, if you lose your balance, the skier "wobbles" too---exactly like you are. It's pretty funny. 

I may not have been on the treadmill since I've been here, but I'm definitely getting my exercise---which I need due to Sandy's cooking. She's a great cook and loves to try new recipes when we visit. I'll be coming home with a couple new ones. Greg also cooks. I consider them to be gourmet cooks. I cook pretty plain food (good, but plain and the same old things) while they do all kinds of things with marinades, stuffings, toppings, wine, spices, and sauces. I always look forward to the food.

You know how Butch loves everything about money---making it, saving it, finding it, winning it, etc. Well, we went to Steak and Shake for lunch. He didn't even know until it came time to pay that we were there during "happy hour" and all the shakes were half price. He said that had he known, he would have enjoyed his mocha shake even more! 

After lunch, we did a little geo-caching. It was pretty cloudy today, so the gps was bouncing all over the place. Still, we made several "finds". Nothing all that spectacular, but we did learn that Portage is the celery capitol of the world.

Saturday was a pretty, sunny day. Greg, Butch and the kids went geo-caching while Sandy and I went for manicures and a little Christmas shopping. We all got back about 3 p.m. For the next hour and a half, we watched Notre Dame football (a continuing disappointment for the fans), got dinner started (something to look forward to) and took naps (much needed after the late night). Around 4:30, The adults, plus Elizabeth went back out to find a couple more caches before dark. 

Sandy made crab legs for dinner. She relayed the story that Elizabeth brought the snack bag home for her class. She told Sandy that she wanted to bring crab legs! Sandy convinced her that fruit snacks and crackers would be more appropriate (and cheaper). That girl has expensive taste!

After dinner, the games continued---more Wii bowling, jarts, bean bag, darts, skee ball, hoops, horseshoes, ping pong, tinkertoys and books. It's 11 p.m. and I'm plum worn out! 

We plan to do another 7 or 8 caches tomorrow and breakfast before we leave for the airport. I'm so glad that Christmas is right around the corner. That makes it easier to leave knowing that we'll be together again very soon. We always have a good time at the Lapps' house. 

Next week, it 's pretty much nothing but work...but by this time next Saturday night, our house will be all decked out for Christmas. I dread it, but love it when it's done. At least I've gotten Butch to promise that he'll get out of the house so I can put on my Christmas music and have hours to myself to do the decorating.

Happy Thanksgiving to all....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Off Again!

Today I'm off to Kalamazoo---up at 4:30, out the door by 5:10. Everything goes pretty smoothly---until I get to the airport. Valet parked my car---my favorite "perk" for being married to a parking jock. Entered the terminal---can't find Northwest Airlines. Asked someone and found out that they merged with Delta. How was I supposed to know that when all my paperwork says Northwest? Oh, yeah, that's what I get for not reading the newspaper. 

Entered the "check-in" line---did everything the "machine" told me to do. Then, I wait---and wait---and wait for an attendant to put the tag on my bag. After about 5 minutes, a man walked over and asked what I was waiting for.  I told him that I needed my bag tagged and someone to check my i.d. He told me I was in the wrong line. Apparently I was in the "check-in" with "carry-on" line. Sheesh! So, I get out of that area and head down the pike to the "check-in with luggage" line. I entered the maze, followed it to a dead-end. Why are we programmed like rats---that we think we can't just go under the ropes? No, I turn around and follow the maze back out and go around to an open area. Finally get my bag checked. Still ticks me off to have to pay $20 bucks for a bag---their punishment? I brought a really big one and made it really heavy---just under the 50 lb. limit!

Heading through security there are so many choices these days---"expert traveler", "casual traveler", "families" and "employees and crew".  Luckily I'm a morning person---those that aren't might have a hard time thinking this early---not to mention making a decision. I decided to take the "casual traveler" line rather than the "expert traveler" line. Although I consider myself a pretty "expert traveler" these days, I know how it drives Butch crazy that people like me enter that line---you know, computer, coat, scarf, jewelry, shoes---yada, yada, yada,---lots to slow things down. It only took me about 4:45 minutes to "undress". Got through without a hitch, but I do hate walking on that dirty floor and then putting my feet back into my previously clean shoes. What happened to the slippers they used to have?

I do have a little problem that I didn't consider when I planned what I was wearing today. On Sunday morning, upon getting up, I stubbed my baby toe on the "decorative" bench at the end of the bed. I was pretty sure I had broken it. I put my tennis shoes on for the Titans game and didn't dare take them off. I knew I should probably ice it, but didn't have time/patience to mess with that. It throbbed most of the day---I just limped around. I didn't bother with the doctor---what could they do with a toe anyway. Part of my foot and baby toe turned black--- it's starting to get purplish yellow today---I know TMI! I'm still limping around, but it's not that bad. 

When I planned my outfit, of course, I picked out cute shoes. They are very comfortable. That's not the problem. I've worn these shoes all summer without socks. Well, it's cold in Michigan, so I knew I needed to wear something. I put on thin trouser socks so as not to take away from the "cute-ness" of my shoes. Not a problem until I reached Detroit. When I checked where my connecting flight was, the gate agent told me it was Concourse C (I had just arrived on the furthest gate on the A Concourse). She then said it was 2 miles away. 2 friggin' miles! Although I don't always come into this particular gate, I did know that it was quite a trek---just never realized it was actually that far. That's fine, it will be my exercise for the day as I didn't get on the treadmill this morning. 

I start limping down the way and taking those moving walkways whenever I can. Now I start to notice the problem. The trouser socks are slippery inside my cute shoes. I'm having to use my toes to grip the shoes to keep them from falling off. So now, I'm limping, gripping to keep the shoes on my feet and experiencing considerable pain. That's why, half-way, I stopped in a really nice resting area with couches. I've got my feet up and am updating my blog! Not a bad plan since I have a 2 1/2 hour layover! 

Flying really is for the birds!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Takin' it on the Road

I picked up the carpool today. I had RENT playing. It did my heart good to hear Jordan and Morgan singing along to every song! When the song "Will I Lose My Diginity" came on, we sang it in 3 rounds in perfect harmony. Of course to the carpool kids, I'm sure we looked like a bunch of "geeks". Still, I think we need to take this show on the road!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Random Ramblings

1. It's a well-known fact that I take a nap every day---if I'm home. I lay down for an hour---read 30 minutes, nap 30 minutes---pretty much the daily ratio. What changes is the time of day. I nap just whenever it best fits my schedule---could be anytime between 1 and 3 p.m. Doesn't matter, because whenever it is---the phone---which has been completely silent all day---will, inevitably ring! How that happens---everyday, I'll never know. I guess the "nap" gods are not on my side.

2. Another well-known fact is that I love my iced tea. I'm a purist about it too---preferring to brew my own from loose tea---and it has to be less than 24 hours old or it starts to taste "funky". Butch thinks I'm crazy, but believe me, I can tell! I discovered my favorite tea at our country club a number of years ago. I asked then what it was. It was not available in stores. About 2 years or so, ago, Mindy introduced me to Starbucks iced tea. I recognized it as the same as that served at Richland Country Club---and they sold it in boxes! I was thrilled. Then, for whatever reason, they quit selling it to the public. Sooooo, to make a long story short, I've been getting it on-line. The blind taste-test that I watched today on NPT elected "my" tea the winner! If you ever see it, you should give it a try---TAZO Iced Black Tea.

3. Along the lines of the phone and my naps---how is it that every time I'm working in the kitchen, Butch decides to make his coffee/lunch/snack---and just generally be in my way at every turn? I think it's his way of annoying me. Believe me, he doesn't have to try very hard!

4. I've discovered I'm not as flexible as I thought I was. I'm definitely a creature of routine. I never realized that I really don't like it when someone messes with that. Case-in-point: All of a sudden, (okay, for 3 weeks now) Butch has decided to get on the tread mill every morning. That's how I start my day. I get on anywhere between 5 and 6. The first day it happened, I was sort of lost. What to do? I was getting worked up. I calmed myself down---"it's okay, Barb, just do what you normally do AFTER you work out, BEFORE you work out." Determined to be flexible, I didn't complain or even mention how I was being inconvenienced by this sudden turn of events---until day 3. At breakfast, I announced, "okay, here's the deal---if you are not on the treadmill by 6 a.m., I'm taking it!" I've mostly been able to beat him to it and be done by 6 myself. Starting my day at 7 a.m. is just not acceptable. 

5. Who turns down free stuff? Talk about being a creature of routine, I go to the grocery store every Monday morning by 8 a.m. to take advantage of the 1 cent item. With a $10.00 purchase, you basically get something for a penny. I look over the ad, pull the appropriate coupons (part of my Monday morning routine after the tread mill) and head to the store. The store never seems to have the free items in the same place. When I find them, I always get 2 just to be nice to the person in front or back of me in the line at check-out. It's amazing how many people don't know about the free stuff. Well, last week, it was a jar of peanut butter. The lady behind me had about a 2 yr. old in the cart. I asked her if she'd gotten her free jar. She said, "no". I offered her my spare. She turned me down! I know we're taught not to take things from strangers---but come on---it's free peanut butter! Even if your child suffers from a severe peanut allergy, wouldn't you take the jar, and give it away? This gal was in no way related to Butch---he LOVES free stuff!

6. Last week, Mindy arrived on Thursday for the weekend---another wedding. To say she is frustrating is an understatement. The first time I saw her was on Thursday afternoon at 4-ish. Since it was my bridge day, Butch picked her up and they met Steph for lunch. When I saw Mindy, she had been shopping because she needed shoes for the wedding. OMG! I nearly lost it! How could she have waited until the last minute? Plus, now it's after 4 and  she still didn't have shoes. She was planning to take a nap before her 6 p.m. hair appointment, then meeting a friend for dinner and off to meet up with the wedding party at a bar. She said she'd go in the morning and find shoes. I freaked. "Mindy, you have the bridesmaids luncheon at 11, nails and pedicure after and rehearsal starting at 4:30---just when do you have time to get shoes?" With that, she said, "okay, I'll run to Dillard's before my hair appointment. I found a pair, but don't really like them,  they're $90.00 and I will never wear them again." Ahem, guess who's paying? I told her to get the shoes "just in case" and then be ready by 9:45 a.m. and we'd run to Stein Mart. Luckily for me, she found a cute pair there that she actually liked and they were 32 bucks! Then she remembered that she needed hose for her rehearsal dinner dress. That girl. Such a procrastinator---just like her dad. Makes me a nervous wreck. Yet she always manages to pull it off and look cute to boot.

7. Another Mindy-ism.  She told me that she has "overdrawn" her vacation by 2 days. I asked her how that happened. She said, "well, I was told that I got a week's vacation after a year. I thought that meant 7 days. How was I to know that a week was only 5 days?" Such a naive baby in the work world! In her defense, I guess that is pretty confusing. By age 3 you've learned the 7 days of the week song.

8. Today, we went geo-caching---just Butch and I. We hit a "first to find" which is pretty exciting---and rare. That means you were the very first to find that particular cache. Turns out, this cache is one in a series of 8 that is part of a school project for the 5th grade class at St. Bernard's Academy. The travel bug is attached to a bear named Peaches. Right away, it reminded me of Mindy's class bear project years ago. I was so excited to be involved with this one. Their goal for Peaches is to attend a Jonas Brothers concert, see a Yankees game and finally see a Coldplay concert before returning home. I had just bought a Jonas Brothers "hoodie" for Victoria's doll as a Christmas gift. I decided that if it fit Peaches, I'd send it along with her. It was too big, but I took a picture that we'll post for the class to see. We're also taking her to the Titan's game tomorrow and will post those pictures too. Then, we'll drop her off in Kalamazoo next weekend when we visit Sandy and family.

We hiked to the top of Shy's Hill to find another. Butch had been there last winter, but couldn't find it. This is not an exaggeration when I say that the hike was a quarter mile UP the hill---Butch verified that. This is the exact thing I love about this hobby---you learn so much. I had no idea that this historical sight was here. Shy's Hill was part of the Battle of Nashville. Once we got to the top, you can see for miles---all the way downtown too. Since I was one of those kids in school who didn't understand why we had to learn this "old junk", I enjoy reading the information and learning stuff. Plus, Butch is a Civil War "buff", so he enjoys educating me too. Beautiful weather---a fun couple hours. Since January, Butch has found 232 caches around the world (I can say that since he found 5 all over Scotland when we were there in June---and even got our driver interested). It makes me really happy that he's found something else to be passionate about. I don't think you can have too many hobbies! 

Oh and another thing, I love it how he leads the way through "the briars and the brambles and the bushes where the rabbits wouldn't go"---oops, got caught up in the song---so that I don't get zapped by spider webs, bugs or thorns. It still doesn't prevent those dang, little, triangle, sticky things from getting all over my clothes.

9. Are you tired of reading yet? One last thing and then a recipe. A few weeks ago, we switched our home phone service to bundle with our tv and internet. We discovered today that when the phone rings, the caller shows up on the tv! How cool is that? Of course you have to have the tv on to see it! I guess that's why I didn't know it.

10. Friday night Butch's poker group was here. I made a new recipe. Butch said he thought it was just "okay", but I had it for lunch today and thought it was great---and so easy. Try it and see what you think.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

4 cups cooked and shredded chicken (I used all white meat)
1/2 bottle of hot sauce for chicken wings (NOT the same as Tabasco---I used Frank's for wings-- it wasn't too hot---the guys added tobasco to spice it up more)

Place in pan and heat through---or can be put in the crock pot.

6 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup blue cheese

Mix and chill.
Serve chicken on buns topped with dressing as desired.

The recipe called for cheddar cheese to put on the sandwiches too, but I had it just with the dressing and loved it. Maybe the cheese is what made Butch think it wasn't all that great. 

Do let me know if you liked it.

Done rambling now....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

CMA Rundown

Well, the CMA's were fabulous again! I love Taylor Swift and she looked fabulous in those tight leather/vinyl pants. I didn't think she sang her first song very well. Of course, the acoustics are pretty bad at the Sommet Center. Still, she hauled in the awards. I'm glad that Conye West wasn't there to steal her glory. Entertainer of the Year at 19---amazing!

I loved all the songs that Brad and Carrie did together. Also loved Darius Rucker's song. 

Lady Antebellum sure got  some big awards for their first time---single of the year and group of the year.

I love Sugarland and was happy to see them get duo of the year. Still, it would have been nice for Brooks and Dunn to win it one last time. I'm still sick that they are "breaking up"!

Kris Kristofferson was totally drunk!

I'm still in love with Kenny even if he was off-key and even if he didn't win anything tonight. He's had his fair share of Entertainer of the Year awards. I liked the duet with Dave Matthews, but he sounded off-key too. Got to be the venue as too many stars seemed off-key tonight.

Faith Hill should have fixed her hair. I was disappointed that she didn't sing. 

And yes, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley were awesome as co-hosts!

I think I'm going to go next year. Surely Butch knows someone we can get tickets from! At least we'll have the parking taken care of....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Butch Doesn't Talk Much...

...but he's still a blabbermouth! Here's the story:

Butch was talking to Elizabeth on the phone. She said, "my daddy's coming to Nashville." Butch said, "yes, I know, he's staying at my house." To which she responded with consternation, "no, he's not! He's staying at Grammy's!" The girl knows whose house it really is! Seriously, I'm thinking she may not realize that Butch actually lives here.

Greg came into Nashville for a job interview. I'm trying really hard not to get my hopes up. I hadn't told anyone so as not to "jinx" the possibility. Turns out, Butch blabbed to his golf buddies who in turn told their wives, who told other friends, and so on---you get the picture. It was our turn to host the Titans tailgate today---there were 16 of us. I made 2 appetizers, sloppy joes and a pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting for dessert. Ooops,  got side-tracked by food! 

Anyway, just about every time I turned around, someone asked me if Greg had heard anything. This is all I know---the interview went extremely well. Again, I'm trying not to get my hopes up because there are too many things that would have to fall into place to make this really work. But it sure would make me happy!

I'm really okay with Butch being a blabbermouth as long as he keeps taking care of me at the Titan's games. He remembers everything. He brings a little radio for me and a special Titan's cup for my bloody mary. He did all the clean-up while I was busy socializing. I think he was on a "high" from winning a few games of washers. Gotta' love that guy!

PS 30-17  over Jacksonville---Go Titans! And with that, Connie has already lost her 5 bucks in the pool!

Friday, October 30, 2009

This Is It!

I couldn't wait to see the MJ movie/documentary---This Is It! I was not disappointed. It was fabulous! Basically, it's the concert---but during rehearsals. You see some of the costumes, some of the sets---incredible---and lots of what we love about MJ---singing and dancing. The entire show is more of a theatrical event rather than just an ordinary concert. It's so hard to believe that at 50, he could still move and sing at the same time---and wasn't out of breath. He gave new life to all of the "oldies" including some cool new things with Thriller.

The tickets are $10.00. The movie made $20M the first DAY! You certainly would not have known it by our theater as there couldn't have been 15 people in there. I guess Nashville, TN is not an MJ fan capitol! The movie only runs for the next week and a half. I don't know why it's only running for a short time.

I'm sure it will come out on video, but you really should take the chance to see it on the big screen. After all, Michael Jackson was larger than life! 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Who Washes Their Buttons?

It will take me awhile to get there, so bear with me and you'll find out who washes their buttons.

We picked up Steph and the girls at 9 a.m. for a little geo-caching. We drove to Thompson Station and then on to Spring Hill, TN---about 45 minutes away. Butch had lined up 8 caches for us. The conversation in the car is always fun---everyone talking over everyone else. Aside from the fact that the girls were with us this past week, we hadn't really done anything all together since August. Jordan had her iPod on and was already complaining that she was hungry. She said the she didn't have time for breakfast because Steph only gave her 15 minutes to get ready. Still she had on make-up, so I guess for a teenager, that wins out over food.

Our first "find" was down a little incline to some railroad tracks. Morgan had the GPS, told everyone the cache was on the other side of the tracks while she backtracked and found it on her own. After that, we didn't trust her. 

Our next stop was the Thompson Station where farmers brought their crops in the "olden" days. It has been re-built due to the history and Civil War battle that took place there. The cache was a good size magnetic box that I found---pretty proudly---I might add---as no one else could. Even Butch---"the pro" passed it up.

The next one was in a park. The name of the cache was "Re-shaping the earth, Tonka style".  We pulled up to a darling little sandbox full of Tonka trucks. What a cute idea! We all searched without much luck for awhile. Butch said we needed to go about it systematically as there at least 50 trucks there. We were looking for something "velcroed" on. We all wondered how it could still be there with kids playing with the trucks. Surely they would discover anything attached to a truck. We looked at all the trucks again, being careful to keep them separated. Even with that second look, Morgan passed it up. The "Master" found it. It was a tiny, bison tube---about 1/2" by 1 1/2" tube---tucked down between the wheels. No child would find something like that unless they were looking for it. Very fun and challenging "find." (Photo above---still can't get these photos to line up right).

From there, we continued further into the park. We hiked down a trail and then ventured into the woods. Jordan found it---a bat house mounted on a tree. When Butch went to open the lid, a mouse jumped out. The girls freaked. The photo below is of the mouse nest inside. Dilemma---disturb the nest to get to the box and log the "find", or leave it alone. We decided that the mouse would re-build if necessary. I'm glad we did because I got this darling little, PINK, Madame Alexander doll. She's a munchkin from the Wizard of OZ. I was happy. 

Steph was complaining that she hadn't found one. Butch set her up with an easy one in a parking lot. Morgan beat her to it. Butch set her up with another easy one in another parking lot and sent Morgan in the other direction. Now Steph was happy. You know how she can be when she's not happy!

There was one we decided not to look for as we were having trouble trying to get to it. It was supposed to be at some rec center. The girls had a fit when we drove up the driveway of what was clearly a farmhouse. We figured we had the coordinates wrong.

We stopped at Applebee's for lunch---they have a great 2 for $20.00 special---choice of 1 appetizer and 2 entrees for $20.00, plus we had a $5.00 coupon. Butch and Steph did the "deal", Morgan had a sandwich and I got the grilled shrimp and spinach salad (fabulous). Jordan wrecked all the savings with her order of the sirloin steak and shrimp skewers. She got away with it because Butch had gotten up to wash his hands. Great meal anyway.

Now we're finally to the buttons. On the way home, the girls were
 talking about someone being A.D.D. I said that
 I didn't really know what that was, but thought I might have that. I explained that I had made my "to do" list for the weekend. I hardly had gotten anything done on my list because I kept getting side-tracked. I spent 3 hours finishing up organizing my fibers from my stitching projects---putting each one in individual bags marked with their lot number and organized by color. When I finished that, I decided to wash my buttons. 

When I said that one line, the whole family chimed in---"why would you wash buttons?" I started to explain that I needed to do it so I could sort them for Christmas gifts. Everyone jumped on that---why would you spend time sorting buttons. Butch interrupted that he wanted to go on record right now, saying that he didn't want any buttons for Christmas. He told the girls that they might want to go on record now too---otherwise it would be dirty buttons for Christmas. Steph was the only sensible one. She said, "wait, if mom's making something, then I might want it." Good answer Steph---but it's not for you. 

Washing buttons isn't really anything I had ever done before. But, I purchased a big jar at the flea market---and they were dirty. Now I'm not an idiot, I didn't wash each one by hand. I filled the sink with hot, soapy water, and dumped the buttons in my large colander. Then I realized that I needed the colander to rinse and drain them, so I had to dump them out. I scooped them up by the handful and swished them around and then rinsed them. Look how filthy the water got! How does a jar of buttons get so dirty? I tried really hard to not let any go down the drain, but I failed to "catch" the straight pin. That can't be good. An $8.00 jar of buttons could cost me a service call from my favorite plumber, Jeff. Yes, I'm on a first name basis with him too. 

I'm actually doing the sorting tonight while I watch t.v. 

Oh, and one last thing---the girls decided that grandpa's "coolness factor" was greatly diminished by the 50's music in the car.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween is in the HOUSE!

Hal (as in "Halloween") and Jack (as in "Jack-o-lantern") greet you as you enter the house. When I was decorating, Butch said, "I thought you hated Halloween." He's right, I always did hate Halloween. I thought about the reasons why I no longer find that haunted night loathesome:
1. I don't have to think up costumes. I used to break out in a cold sweat---I don't sew and store-bought costumes were tacky. 2. I didn't have extra money to spend on decorations--now I do. 3. Now I'm creating spooky memories for my grandkids! Oh, the things you do for them...

I haven't named my witch yet---Wendy is just too predictable. Notice my hand-made pumpkins---well I didn't actually make them. They are paper mache' that I painted, stenciled and decorated.

How do you like my adopted creepy relatives? Some of them look familiar. I got the glittery skull from Michaels. They have all their Halloween stuff on sale now.

I was so excited to find these old apothecary bottles at an antique mall complete with vintage poison labels. The perfect addition to the Halloween decor.

Just a few things I've made. The Halloween banner was going to be the project for our Cousin's Crop, but I couldn't get enough of the base banners. Next year for sure. 
Connie is coveting my witch's hat, so I'm going to put her name on it. She has "dibs" on a piece of my needlework already.

And finally, the latest addition to our household---Bernard the Butler! He moves and interacts with the skull on the plate that also talks and lights up. His eyes are incredible. A bargain for $49.99 at Walgreen's. I'll bet he's half price on Halloween. At least go see him.

So what are you all doing for Halloween? I'm going to the theater with friends to see "Little House on the Prairie" starring Melissa Gilbert as "Ma". Whoopee---part of our season tickets. Butch will handle the trick-or-treaters---all 12 of them.

Share some of your decorations with me!