Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Few Things Before I Go

Heading out this afternoon for a long weekend of scrapbooking for the girls and golf for the guys. I won't have internet access out there, so it will be awhile before my next update.

A few things before I go:

The layouts are up at my AYM Blog:
Jack and Connie have bought a condo on the ocean at Mexico Beach, FL (just outside of Panama City.) Jack has been a buying fool. He's going to win Costco's "highest buyer" award for this year. In the meantime, no house guests are welcome at their house here in Nashville.
You can barely walk through with all the stuff. The biggest problem is that Jack's not too worried about whether the bedding will actually fit the beds. "Can't you just tuck the excess under?" It was dangerous to send him back to Costco for the return. He's really stocking up---and he hash't even started on the paper goods yet! They are going to need a U-Haul to get it all down there---what a job---not to mention all those trips hauling it to the 3rd (or is it 4th) floor.
This really isn't a very good view of the 40, 50 or 60ft. tree we lost. At that size, it's too hard to tell how big it is. It's big. I hate losing any trees, much less the big ones. It's in the side yard---that I used to call my shade garden. There used to be full shade. Now there's sun there in places all day long. Technically, the tree belongs to the neighbor. He called to let us know he was taking care of it. I told him that I had already hired our arborist. He insisted on paying---by the law, we're responsible---even if it's his tree. We compromised and are splitting the cost. Unlike the neighbor on the other side---never thought I'd fight with my neighbors, but that's another story.

 I was upstairs and decided to take a few pictures from above. I'm calling them "a view from above."

Stepping stones leading to the "used to be" shade garden under the arbor.
 I bought this little brown sugar scoop at Dolly's Pancake Parlor in Vermont. I thought it was so cute---and I don't have a scoop for my brown sugar. Since I use it straight from the bag, this will force me to put it in a little bowl the 2 times a year we use if for other than baking.
I put the pen in the picture so you could see how cute and little it is. I haven't even used it once and I've already just about washed the maple leaf off. I didn't realize that it would wash off. Plus, I would never think of using something like this without washing it. Darn, the leaf was so cute.

Lastly, I know I said I'd never mention my hives here again---and I'm not. Seems I have something totally different now. I just thought my hives had evolved in to something else. I have a rash completely covering the mid-section of my torso. It itches maddeningly. I have a prescription that takes care of that, but guess what? That medication causes weight gain! Figures. At least I'm still off the prednisone---and for that I am truly grateful.

Have a great weekend y'all!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Now I've Seen it All!

Today, as I was hunting a place to park at the grocery store, I saw a woman---at least in her 70's carrying an infant on her shoulder---not more than a couple of weeks old. It was obvious to me that she could not carry the weight of the car seat, so she just carried the baby.

Then, I couldn't believe my eyes. She got in to a huge, black SUV parked in the handicapped spot---she had a handicapped tag.

There are so many things wrong with this picture. Can you find at least 5?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's That Time of Year Again...

The leaves are changing, the weather is cooling and it's time to don my sweaters. It puts me in the mood for fires in the fireplace and a pot of soup or chili on the stove. I look forward to all of those things. But this time of year also means FOOTBALL---and you know how I feel about that!

I enjoy the tailgate parties, but I only do the game for love. It's just too long for me to sit and not be able to stitch, thumb through catalogs or play around on my computer. Last year, I managed to not go to a single game. Already this year, I've been to two. Between Mindy, Stephanie and Morgan, there is someone to use my ticket. Mindy was out-of-town this weekend and Steph had to work yesterday, so I knew she would not want to give up her Sunday. I was a sport. The problem is that I find myself rooting for the other team, because if we are being "creamed," we get to leave early. Actually, the same is true if the Titans are "creaming" someone else---but that rarely happens.

Today was a good game. We won, but we had to stay for the ENTIRE game. We got home about 3:30---we get to tailgating by 9:15 a.m., so you can see what I mean about the "whole" day. As soon as we got home, I took a nice "soak" in the tub. Now, I'm watching football the way I like it. In front of my own tv, with my catalogs, stitching and computer.

I think this is going to be a long season.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Little Commentary

So, I got an email from a friend today saying, "I'm sad when I open up your blog and there isn't anything new. I don't know if that is a compliment to you or a sad state of my social life right now!" I don't think so. I just think it's fun to get a glimpse in to other people's lives once in awhile. Here's a little glimpse in to mine.

Today, I met a friend, Susan, for a movie. We saw Hope Springs with Merrill Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. Every middle-aged couple should see it. The movie was funny, but also rings true. When you've been married a long time, it's easy to fall into a rut. Pretty soon you find yourself going through the same routines, having little to say to each other, everything predictable. I don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with that. There's something comforting in routine and predictability. But what I saw as the main problem in this 31 year marriage in this movie (we have 10 years on them) was that they were sleeping in separate bedrooms. To me, sleeping together is an intimate act (and I'm not talking sexual). When you take that out of your relationship, you lose that closeness. It would be easy to feel like there's really nothing left in the relationship.

Now I'm actually going somewhere with this. I wish for William and Kate, a long enough life together for them to get into a little rut. As for now, I hate what they are going through with the paparazzi. But here's the thing. In my younger days, I was know to be a little on the "frisky" side. Sure, I didn't have to worry about paparazzi, but still, I never felt the need to be naked outside in the daytime (well, except for that one time....only kidding---or maybe not). It just seems to me that if you are in the public eye, you would refrain from doing anything that could get you in trouble---even if you think you are "hidden." I had no idea there were cameras that could take photos a quarter of a mile away. Maybe they should be outlawed and then the paparazzi would be out of business---or at least their ability to intrude on the lives of the rich and famous would be gristly diminished.

And now, for our predictable Friday night---started with happy hour (just us tonight)---ordered a pizza (not so predictable) and now watching Shark Tank! Here's to predictable weekends....

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Few Things and a New Recipe

I talked about how Butch and Walter planned our trip. Well, I had to show you the daily schedule. Butch is the king of Excel spread sheets.
If you look close you can see that the activities are in red. They estimated how much time each thing would take and how long it would take to drive and even included the cost. I'm thrilled to have this for my scrapbook. They put a lot of time and effort in to it. At one point, Butch lamented that he was so stressed---planning this trip was like doing a school report. He gets an A+++!
 I cross-stitched this for Lauren Manning's baby. As I was doing it, I was wondering why I hadn't done one for the two recent babies in the family. I just didn't think of it. It's not too late. We'll see....
This spider web has been driving me crazy for awhile now. It was between the storm window and the screen so I couldn't clean it myself. Butch had to take the storm window off.
It took all of 10 minutes. And to think it drove me nuts for months. Now he won't be able to complain if it needs to be done again.
And now for the new recipe. Chris and I were talking on our trip about the fact that we are not necessarily creative cooks. We follow recipes. We've both made up a few things over the years. Well, I made up this one over the weekend. I had a brisket that I wanted to cook. I have a really good recipe that came from my friend, Susan Dawkins. But here's the thing. Ever since she gave us the recipe, everyone makes it all the time. We're just plain sick of it. So, I decided to come up with my own idea and it turned out great. Plus, have I ever told you how much I love my crock pot? The house smells so good when you're cooking.

Brisket with Onion Gravy
Lipton onion soup mix
can of diced tomatoes
2-medium onions

Place brisket fat side down in crockpot. Top with onion soup, tomatoes and sliced onions. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-10 hours. About a half hour before serving, remove brisket and trim off fat. Slice and return to crock pot. Stir gently as the meat will start to fall apart---which isn't all bad.
I sautéed fresh zucchini and onions to go along with the brisket. Sometimes we sprinkle it with parmesan cheese. It doesn't matter how much I make, the family devours it!
 The fresh lima beans boiled over. What a huge mess. I hate that.
I never liked lima beans until I made fresh ones for Butch and Mindy (who love them) a couple of years ago. They are delicious and do not compare to canned in any way. They take at least 2 hours to cook which is why they boiled over.
 Here's the finished brisket. I didn't add any extra salt, but I thought it needed a little afterwards. I rounded out the meal with mashed potatoes.
And now, here's my mess. It's going to take a lot of elbow grease to clean this up. It may take awhile, but I'll get it done.
My cooktop is 17 years old. The only way I can keep it looking new is to clean up the horrible messes right away.

The new season of Glee has started. I just love it. The cross dresser is back. Mindy gets aggravated that they try to take on any social issue there is. She's totally right. This first episode dealt with an obese cafeteria worker that the teens were making fun of. This show is all about acceptance of anyone and everyone regardless of how different they might be. It's going to be interesting to see how they incorporate the rest of the cast that has graduated. It looks like they are going to do a split storyline with Rachel. I don't really care about the storyline. I'm just in it for the song and dance. And I love the guest stars. Tonight it was Kate Hudson. She's going to be on for a few episodes.

A whole lot of the new shows are starting to debut. There are a few that I am really looking forward to. I don't know how I can keep up with all these shows. Thank goodness for the DVR!

What are your favorite shows?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Day on the Lake

So we put our calendars together in July and September 15th was the soonest date we could come up with for the whole family to have a day on Centerhill lake. We rented a pontoon boat with a slide. 

I originally wanted everyone to come at 7 a.m. so we could get an early start. Everyone balked, so we settled on 8 a.m. Butch said we didn't need to rush as it was going to be cool. It turned out to be the most gorgeous day. 

Before we get to the photos of the day, I have to tell you about the food. First, everyone knows that Butch doesn't care about food. He always second guesses me on the amounts I cook for our crowd. Sometimes, without consulting me, he reduces the amount of meat to be barbecued. Or he'll make comments about the amount of vegetables I make. 

For this outing, with 9 of us (including the boyfriends), I ordered 28 pieces of fried chicken, made a dozen eggs for deviled eggs (making 24), marinated tomatoes and potato salad. Butch went to the grocery store for me, but didn't buy the snacks I had listed. He said we didn't need snacks with all the food I had. He did pick up a large bag of potato chips for Mindy who doesn't like mayonnaise based things. For dessert, I made Black Bottom Cupcakes (recipe below.) I added 2 boxes of girl scout cookies, a bag of gummy bears and and some mixed nuts. 

We hadn't even left the dock when the kids started asking for food (they had eaten breakfast at our house before we left.) When is was all said and done, we had 3 pieces of chicken left, some potato salad, 7 cupcakes, some cookies and gummies. They went through a lot of food---as usual. I hope Butch is going to start trusting my judgment about the food soon.

Spencer saved the day when
Morgan's hat blew in to the lake. Butch went back for it as it was floating. Spencer leaned over and grabbed it. It was her Alabama hat, so she was happy to get it back.

 Morgan got to be an ace driver.
 It didn't take long before the boys were jumping from the top of the boat. The water turned out to be warm.

 This is such a pretty lake. They don't have any buildings or docks---just miles of natural shoreline.
 Mindy and Morgan hamming it up for the camera.

 Spencer, Jordan, Carson and Morgan.
 Morgan is behind the camera.

 You can't see it in this shot, but Carson and Spencer put a message on the rock---we love M & J. Actually someone else had done it first.
There were a couple of times that the boys had to help push off after another boat's wake pushed us on to the bank.
 I told the "fam" that we had something important to discuss. What I had in mind was that game where you say you are going on a trip and are packing...then the next person picks it up. They were disappointed that we weren't really discussing something important. Here they are showing their sad faces.
 Morgan at the helm.

 The "kids" spent hours in the water. By the time we got back to the marina, everyone was exhausted. I noticed in Butch's car that everyone was sleeping as they were in my car on the way home.

It was such a fun day that we've decided to make it an annual tradition. We're thinking we'll stick with September as the weather was perfect and there were few boats on the lake.

Now, for the recipe share. This recipe is from the 1970's. I got it from Toni Eads'---dad Eads' wife. It's been a family favorite for years.

Black Bottom Cupcakes
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
Sift dry ingredients. Add:
1 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tbsp. vanilla
Mix well and pour batter in to cup cake liners about 1/3 full.

1-8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
MIx well. Drop by heaping tsp. on to batter. (I use the smallest Pampered Chef scoop).
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's always so good to get home!

We got home early this afternoon---no problems with our flights. One thing I noticed---even though we just spent over a week in some of the most gorgeous countryside I've ever seen---I realized that Tennessee is just as beautiful. For that matter, all of these United States are pretty scenic!

Normally, I unpack immediately---I hate unpacking. Today, I was hungry, so decided to have lunch first. We didn't have much in the house, so I settled for peanut butter and jelly toast.

When I have lunch, I usually watch a show that I have taped (or DVR'd---in today's lingo.) That was a mistake. I ended up spending the next 2 1/2 hours glued to my guilty pleasure---The Bachelor Pad. I think I'm the only one who watches it. It is so totally trashy. I just love all the drama. Anyway, at the very end of the show, it's down to the final two. They have a choice about the $250,000 winnings. Secretly, they can choose to "keep the money" or "share" it with their partner. If both contestants choose "keep," then the entire group gets to share the money. If both choose to "share," they split it. If one chooses "keep" and the other chooses "share," then the person who chose "keep," gets it. That's what happened this time. That has never happened before. They ALWAYS split it! It caused quite a stir---and just when the show was supposed to be over, more drama! I love it! I can't wait until The Bachelor starts again. We usually have a pool for that to make it interesting.

Today on the plane, I put my seat back because I wanted to sleep. The lady behind me tapped me and asked me to put my seat up because she couldn't open her laptop with the seat back. Of course, I complied. I thought it would be for a little while, but it was the full 2 hours of the flight. The middle seat was empty, so she could have moved over. I guess I should have asked her to do that after awhile. Butch says he gets mad when people put their seats back because it's so crowding. I get that, but darn, don't I have a right to put the seat back to nap? It's pretty hard to nap straight up. If they didn't want you to put your seat back, they wouldn't make them "moveable"---right?

One last thing that irks me. At those free continental breakfasts at the hotels, so many people take extra food with them. One day we saw a guy take about 6 yogurts. Then today, I saw a guy in a suit actually use baggies to put prepared bagels in. He had so much stuff he was balancing that the worker gave him a tray. I figured he was taking everything up to his family. Then, when we were leaving, I saw him again with a child's backpack and lunch box. That made me think that maybe he was living there. That made me sad. Plus it made me realize that I had been judging people for taking food. Goes to show you never know their circumstances.

I'm reading a really good book if you're looking for something. It's called---The Scribe. I can't tell you the author (I could look it up, but I'm too lazy) because of my Kindle. Now that I use that exclusively, I don't see the book title and author every day. That's bad. Half the time, I have to really think about the name of the book---forget the author. That makes me sad. I always took a lot of pride in knowing books and authors. Anyway, back to this book. It's another take on Pope Joan. It's very good, but if you've never read anything about Pope Joan, then you need to get the one by Donna Woolfolk Cross. See, since I read that in hardback, I still remember it.

Now, there's lots to do since I'm back home. Later....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Massachusetts---Day 11

We started our last day by leaving Vermont and going to Groton, Connecticut to go to the naval submarine base and museum. Wouldn't you know it---it was closed on Tuesdays. Bummer.
In Mystic, Connecticut, we stopped at the Elm Grove Cemetery to do some geo-caching. It was such a pretty place and probably the most unusual cemetery I've ever been to. Many of the graves are "decorated"---either with flowers or other odds and ends. This grave is in the midst of a little garden. Can you see the bird bath?

 This one had the Magi and other assorted bits and pieces---shells, rocks, an orange and some incense.

 This gravestone is a bench in the garden. Such a serene setting.
 I've never seen a lighthouse incorporated into a gravestone before.
 I guess this person was a sailor. Why else make the headstone a sail boat?
Geo-caching is global treasure hunting. It is so much fun and the "caches" are all different. This one is called a "nano" and is the smallest. It's about the size of a pencil eraser. It opens to reveal the log that is to be signed by the finder. They are challenging to find. This one was painted green to match the torpedo it was magnetized to.
 This was Butch and Walter's most unusual finds this trip. This is a "fake" sprinkler head. Placed in the yard, you can't tell the difference from the real thing. You have to rely on your GPS to get you to the right spot. Sure enough, it screwed open to reveal the log inside. Clever.
After lunch, we headed to Providence, Rhode Island so that Chris and I could go to the Culinary Arts Museum on the Johnson and Wales University campus. It was so interesting. Do you know why chefs wear double-breasted white jackets? So if one side gets dirty, it is quickly reversible---assuring that the chef looks his best at all times. This is just one little tidbit of information we got here. There were full diners on display along with early appliances, presidential china, airline memorabilia and tons more. We spent nearly two hours here. Diners are making a come back with New Jersey having the most.

The guys went off on their own to do some more geo-caching, but didn't have much luck.
Check out the cost of a manhattan on this Howard Johnson. It's Butch's favorite drink. If he could get it for 75 cents, he would love it more!
 Can you believe that the airlines served a small package of cigarettes with every meal? That's the 1960's for you.
 Not exactly culinary related. But I found this in the bathroom. I've never seen a dispenser that hands out free tampons and free prophylactics! I decided to help myself. Both were empty. Figures.
 Everyone remembers the car hop and the food trays with your order that hooked to your window. This one was a "Dog and Suds." Sure brings back lots of memories. Of course for me, it was A&W and Steak and Shake. If it wasn't for "140 Steak," I never would have met Butch.
 You can still find Skee Ball lanes around. I always loved playing and winning tickets for stupid little prizes.
 A complete diner in the museum. A lot of people think they were made from old rail cars. But, they were actually made by the same companies that made rail cars. They were shipped by truck to the desired location.

This hot dog cart started as a mild truck pulled by horses in 1872. Horses were replaced by trucks in  1926. This cart was purchased and then turned in to a hot dog cart. It was used continuously until 2006 when it was donated to the museum. One couple even had it in their front yard, selling hot dogs for over 20 years. They had 20 to 50 customers a day.
This sign in on the cart. If those were the prices in 2006, I can see why this was a successful operation.

This has been the best vacation! We traveled to 7 states (Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island) in 11 days and logged 1850 miles. The guys found about 30 caches. It really went by fast as all vacations do. There isn't anything we would have done differently. Now the pressure is on. The guys did such a good job of planning our route and itinerary---plus all the surprises. Chris and I will have to come up with something the next time.

Tomorrow, it's home again. I'm actually looking forward to it. Saturday, we have a rented a pontoon boat on Center Hill lake for a family fun day. I need to start thinking about the food. Nothing like getting home and hitting the ground running! Plus I have a few layouts I need to finish before AYM on Monday! Sunday is all mine...