December 24, 2012

Real or fake?

I am referring to Christmas trees! Good gravy, get your mind out of the gutter. I was in favor of the good old fake "pencil" tree this year (which I wrote about briefly here two years ago), but Sassy just had to have a real tree. I give her major props for going to pick it out, load it up, and decorating with lights and ornaments. She does not however remember to water it. Hence my hesitation about real trees ... aka major fire hazards. I'm not feelin' real Christmasy this year. I've kind of been muddling through thinking I'll fake it 'til I make it, but it hasn't hit yet. I watched my favorite holiday movie of all time, Miracle on 34th Street (the original 1947 version with Natale Wood and Edmund Gwenn of course!). Nothing. I even made cookies thinking that would help. It only fueled my guilt about needing to drop a few lbs. Sigh. 
left to right: Rugelach - Peanut Butter Blossoms - Tea Cakes - Pizzelles

Bad news - time is running out as it's Christmas Eve; Good news - only a little over 24 hours to fake it if the spirit doesn't kick in.


May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white

December 9, 2012

Hyperinflation

I just completed my final exam for International Trade. Now I'm super hyper ... not sure if it was the coma-inducing studying for exam, running back and forth to Chunky's basketball games for a tournament, or helping with snow related activies*, but I have a major second wind going on. The exam was online with a time limit of 3 hours - I completed in 2 hours, flipping back and forth in my textbook and once a question was answered there was no looking back. My score is 88% (44 out of 50) and I am perfectly happy with that. Exchange rates and purchasing power parity are not my forté. I figure with 30% weight of exam and 100% on everything else (for which I'm reasonably on track) I could still get an A at 96%. It will all be finished after one more class and group paper/presentation on Turkey.

* kids did shoveling/snow throwing - thank you! - I moved to-be-fixed snowthrower from back shed to garage uphill and delivered occasional help to Hubby while he supervised activities from the garage

Side rant - we are currently experiencing Winter Storm "Caesar" according to the media. When did they start naming snow storms?! Is there a competition with naming hurricanes with which I am unfamiliar? This perplexes me greatly.

November 29, 2012

Baby Sleep

A coworker recently had her first baby and a few of us got together last week to catch up and enjoy baby snuggles. She mentioned how elusive sleep is with baby feeding every hour and I felt so bad for her. Unfortunately I didn't gain my first-hand knowledge of sleep deprivation from parenting as both my kids slept through the night at five weeks. Yes, you read correctly. 5 weeks. Both. We were blessed. I know how difficult sleep deprivation is due to more recent circumstances ...makes it hard to enjoy anything/anyone. Isn't that what prisoners are subjected to when they won't give up their secrets?! Are you holding something back? After our visit my coworker reached out for advice. I don't know how wise I am, I just know what worked for us. Two kids, one boy, one girl, six years apart. Could be genetics ... maybe Hubby passed on the good sleep gene :) Anywho, following are my two cents worth on getting baby to sleep and restoring parent sanity.

Our method was routine and we never deviated except to adjust as baby grows of course. Our theory was they are smart little creatures of habit and like knowing what to expect. Same time every night - Food, Play, Bath, Book, Bed. No sleeping one hour before food or between food and bedtime - keep baby up so they want to sleep for a l-o-n-g time and recharge for more fun the next day.

We also believed in a full tummy. This is hotly debated in the parenting/medical community. We didn't do demand feeding past a certain time so baby was good and hungry for dinner; also supplemented at 3-4 weeks with very weak cereal (gradually increasing as needed). Both our kids were big at birth (Sassy 8 lbs; Chunky 10 lbs - ouch!) so we were comfortable with them being developed enough to handle it and both our moms said they did cereal early - it doesn't appear to have scarred us too badly, though that's certainly up for debate :)

We also used a crib aquarium - best buy ever!!!!!!!! Everyone should get this as a shower gift. We turned this on religiously as we left the room at bedtime and back on for soothing if needed. The key for us was no talking or picking up - don't engage or they get their little hooks in you. Even in the middle of the night, we turned on the aquarium and left. The theory again was routine and learning to self soothe.

We made a very big deal about waking up in the morning (aka 5 am diaper change and breakfast) and sleeping through the night. Super happy (sickeningly so). Part of the whole routine thing.

That's it. No judgement - you have to find what works best for you and yours. If you're sleep deprived, may the force (and sleep) be with you!

November 23, 2012

Let's Talk Turkey

I am thankful for friendship and leftovers this day after Thanksgiving. I had lunch with my BFF whom I haven't seen in almost six months and love that we are always able to pick up where we left off without skipping a beat. Hubby wanted straight up leftovers for dinner but I couldn't do it so made PDub's turkey and swiss panini with a couple of modifications ... no fig jam, spicy brown mustard instead of Dijon and walnut halves instead of pecans. Fabulous!

I only have three assignments left for my International Business course and one of them is a group paper on a country (the other two are short paper on international expansion and a 50 question exam). Guess which country my group selected? You got it, Turkey! Each of us is researching a separate topic and we'll conclude with how to do business in Turkey. I am researching the country's government and legal & political systems (the other topics are culture and the economy). I found a website with information on Country Commerical Guides prepared by the Department of Commerce. All I had to do was email the Turkish representative and he sent the entire PDF ... score!

As the world’s fastest growing economy during the first quarter of 2011, Turkey represents a market with great potential. Turkey has been designated as a priority market under President Obama’s National Export Initiative and has, as a result, been the focus of sustained International Trade Administration and U.S. Government efforts, including targeted trade promotion. U.S.-Turkish trade grew by 34 percent last year, reaching a record high of almost $20 billion. Furthermore, U.S. exports to Turkey rose 38 percent, totaling $14.6 billion and making Turkey one of the top 25 U.S. export markets.

Fun facts:
• The Republic of Turkey is at the "crossroads" of Europe and Asia
• Depending on how you define continents, Turkey is either part of Eurasia or part in southeastern Europe and part in western Asia
• The part of Turkey in Europe is called ‘Thrace’ while the part in Asia is called ‘Anatolia’
• Turkey was the center of the Ottoman Empire with Constantinople as its capital (now Istanbul)
• If you subscribe to the seven-continent definition, Istanbul is the only city in the world located on two continents
• 98% Muslim - Turkey is the only secular Muslim country amongst all the Muslim countries in the world (separation of church and state)
• The Turks introduced coffee to Europe and tulips to the Dutch
• St. Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) was born in Patara and became the bishop of Demre, on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast
• Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey
• It is only 577.36 miles or 929.15 kilometers from Istanbul to Sochi, Russia - the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics (only 440 days away!!!)

November 14, 2012

13

Seems like it was only yesterday that I wrote this post about Chunky turning 10. Where does the time go?
Loving the new hair cut!

November 4, 2012

Christmas Wish List

My MIL advised she is no longer going gonzo for Christmas. It figures as this is the first year I started my list early since she historically asks for one on Halloween. I can hardly blame her ... no little kids to get excited about the simple things, busy lives, a lot has changed, etc. So this is the list I may be gifting myself this year -

Bathrobe - boring but necessary; the challenge is finding just the right one as I'm super picky about length and weight

Desserts in Jars by Shaina Olmanson - I've wanted to make these since I found this shop on Etsy

Kate Spade Twirl perfume - LOVE the description ... captivating day-to-night fragrance where pink watermelon mingles with blackberry and red currant finished with luminous musks and a touch of French macaroon cookies

Rabbit bottle wine opener - my sister in law loaned me hers for Sassy's grad party and it was life changing

Kindle or Nook Tablet - for to read 50 Shades of Grey over and over as well as all the empowerment and self help books I should be reading; On second thought, I may avail myself of Chunky's hand-me-down iPad he received from my mother - I totally approve of re-gifting

October 31, 2012

XO Treat

Happy Halloween!

Hubby and I recently went on a double-date with good friends to a favorite authentic Mexican restaurant. A lady was walking around handing out sample shots of a coffee liqueur - Patron XO Cafe. It's actually tequila and coffee extract. Ah, yum! She also handed out Halloween-themed recipe cards. Since we like to have a gathering on our favorite pagan holiday, I decided we should have a signature adult beverage for the festivities. I picked the Butterscotch Treat and of course had to taste test before I serve to guests. Home run!!! Here's the recipe -

3/4 oz. Patron XO Cafe
1/2 oz. Butterscotch Schnapps
1/2 oz. White Creme de Cacao
3/4 oz. half & half  I use unsweetened Vanilla Almond milk cause that's what I'm into these days
cinnamon and sugar  I skip this
Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Or mix in a juice glass and stir with finger like I did.

More recipes here.

Happy Trick-or-Treating!

October 18, 2012

Getting Pinned

I have a new interest - Pinterest! I'm not going to call it an obsession because thankfully I am not spending all my free time pinning, but it's a lot of fun. It totally appeals to my organizational sensibilities. I used to spend hours creating my own "boards" for decorating, gardening, travel, etc. and now I peruse, pin and modfiy away. I'm pinning outfits I want to put together, places I want to visit ... toying with the idea of moving WAY south when Chunky is done with high school ... decorating, planning Sassy's wedding for 2021 and my own 50 Shades of Grey casting. Join the fun!

October 13, 2012

October Birchbox

I got the goop box!
It's a little anti-climatic. Especially compared to the recently read 50 Shades of Grey trilogy (oh my!).

DDF Wrinkle Resist Plus Pore Minimizer Moisturizing Serum - thank goodness this isn't a "night" product. The description says "It gives you instant gratification by hydrating skin and shrinking pores. At the same time, the peptide-packed formula exfoliates and repairs skin cells for lasting anti-aging benefits."

OROFLUIDO Elixir Hair Oil - anxious to see if this is as good as the Shu Uemura oil

Chantecaille Faux Cils Mascara - trial size, perfect for my travel bag (if I ever travel)

Embryolisse Anti-Aging Firming Cream - another trial size so going in the travel bag

Lemon LUNA Bar - this is going in my school book bag as I'm always in need of a snack at the 2:30 pm break.

October 10, 2012

N is for ...

You know the saying, it takes a village to raise a child? Well, I believe that. I also believe I can be a village idiot. And I'm not alone.

One of my best friends called this morning ... we talk often on the drive to and from work ... to tell me she'd just woken my daughter up to go get her 3 yr old daughter some pajamas at nearby Target. Huh? Turns out today was PJ day in honor of the theme for the letter of the week, "N". The theme for the week was "Night". She thought it was "Nose". Nice! Luckily munchkin's daycare is at the end of our block and Sassy babysits for her so there's a connection. I love that my friend felt comfortable enough to call Sassy in for help and I especially love that Sassy was all too happy to help.

Cut to mid-conversation, I receive a call from home ... Chunky. He never calls me (I've recently become aware that it is a 12 going on 13 year old boy's mission in life to avoid his mother at all costs) so I answer immediately.

Me: Hi
Chunky: Um, hi. Did you pick up my meds?
Long, awkward pause
Me: Uh, no. I think it's a good day to take a break.
Ya think so smarty pants?! You forgot to pick up your kids medicine and that's what you have to say for yourself?
Chunky: Ah, ok.

Of course I picked up the meds on my way home from work. Of course Chunky tells me he had two tests today when I arrive home.

N is for Naughty mommy. Oh dear, there goes that ever elusive mother of the year award ... again.

September 28, 2012

Want to Get goop-ed?

That was the subject of an email I received this morning. SO excited that Birchbox and goop have teamed up for an "exclusive goop Birchbox filled with some of their much-loved beauty and lifestyle products". Yeah! When I responded 'yes', I received this in the follow-up email - Selecting yes indicates preference for a goop box but does not guarantee receipt, as supplies are limited. Oh! Pick me, pick me!

September 24, 2012

Second Guessing

I'm in a bit of a funk today so decided to hang out at home. Maybe I'll log in to work later, maybe I won't. Attended second of eight grad classes this past weekend. Critical analysis papers are due each class (every other week) based on the chapters read and I was so nervous about the two due first day of class. I worried that maybe I had taken on too much, that I'm in over my head on so many levels. It felt so validating to see As on both of those papers. Of course there were two papers due this past weekend as well ... in true fashion I cram a couple of days before, get up early the morning of and write two papers in 4-5 hours. Haven't decided if this is just the way I am ... perform under pressure ... or am in need of a major overhaul. We'll see soon enough as two more papers are due in 12 days. I watched maybe a total of 30 minutes of the Emmys last night ... enough to see that 'Homeland' and 'Modern Family' were the big winners. 'Modern Family' has been on for a couple of years and others have told me how great it is. It may be our TV obsession via Netflix this winter. My mom recently told me how good 'Homeland' is and since I'm home today and have Showtime On Demand I decided to try it out and make it my escape for the day if I like it. I'm only halfway through episode 2 and am hooked.

September 15, 2012

September Birchbox

My favorite delivery arrived this week!
This time I copied the photograph from the website ... smart, huh?!
LiQWd | Volumizing Catalyst - I was anxious to try this as I have fine, thin hair. I used the other morning after towel drying then went about my morning rituals before blow-drying about an hour later ... definitely noticed a little more oomph, but ended up putting my hair up so am anxious to try again with hair styled down.

LiQWd | Volumizing Shampoo & Conditioner - saving to use for future travel (who knows when or where)

BVLGARI | Mon Jasmin Noir perfume - this was pretty spicy/heavy for me

Color Club | Birchbox custom nail color - "Insta-This", a deep cobalt blue ... the color is not for me so passed on to a friend who is much younger and hipper than I

Dr. Jart+ | Water Fuse Beauty Balm SPF 25+ - Love!!! It's a lightweight multi-tasker with just the right amount of coverage that left my skin looking dewy and flawless. SOLD!

twistband hair tie | Lace up for Fall - cobalt blue matches the nail color; I was super happy to get another one as I've used the pink one from the May box to death. These don't leave a kink in your hair and never pull or lose their stretch.

Madewell | $25 gift card - Young, hip clothing line. I think I'll use this to buy a Christmas gift for Sassy.

I also received an email offer for 20% off to celebrate my 6 month anniversary with Birchbox - awesome! I am ordering the hair ties in neutral - I'll actually wear them out vs. the pink and cobalt ones and will share with Sassy, the Dr. Jart beauty balm and a Christmas gift for Sassy since she commented on it in July. I really want to order the Shu Uemura Hair Essence from my first box back in April but can't justify the cost even at 20% off. Combined with the $10 rewards I earned from previous small purchases and a gift subscription for my mom, this was a great deal. I am trying really hard to economize ... thinking about need vs. want and price relative to things like groceries, Hubby's personal care aide, etc. Trust me, the hair ties and beauty balm have become needs!



September 4, 2012

Not so fast

September is here, a new school year is beginning and I wish I could hit the pause (or sleep) button.

This is Sassy on her first day at St. Kate's. Technically it was the first day of orientation - one of three - but when you're a college freshman I suppose this is good enough for your mother taking a first-day-of-school photo. She looks smart, doesn't she?! For many of you, this is the first look at the new "red" hair (it looks violet or fuschia to me). She met a girl from Sacramento in her The Reflective Woman class (sounds so "worldly") and they bonded over having tattoos in honor of beloved grandfathers who passed away.

This is Chunky's first day of 7th grade. As an "upper" classman, they have different uniforms than K-6. Instead of yellow shirts and navy pants, they have blue shirts with logo and khaki pants.
With logo emphasis is intentional. We have two options for purchasing approved uniform apparel - the store that's been in business since the '50s (both hubby and my mothers got their uniforms there as did we) or the national retailer. The "traditional" store is our preference ... it's local and has a sense of history/tradition ... even though it's further away than the national one. When we arrived on Friday at the traditional store to purchase uniforms for today (remember, the blog name is better late than never), we were told they didn't have shirts with logos. I figured it must not be a requirement and others would likely be without the logo shirts. So I bought 6 to get through at least the first half of the school year. Chunky and I talked about it this morning and I sent an email to the principal. This was her reply -

Traditional store does not carry our logo. The banded polo shirt with the logo is sold at National store. I am sorry Traditional store did not tell you this.

How is it the Traditional store's responsibility to tell me to go to another business? I was not a happy camper thinking I had to run around returning 5 shirts and buying new ones before tomorrow. I was afraid of this, but cautiously only washed one shirt for today and saved all the others in the bag just in case. I checked the laundry room ... no bag. I checked Chunky's room (which I try to avoid at all costs) ... no bag. I waited for him to come home to hear how his day was and demand the bag before running errands ... shirt rigmarole, meds and groceries. He began with a story about the bus driver "taunting" him (his word!) by picking someone up a block south of him, turning down the street across from where he was and then coming back to pick him up, only to drive down our street after he'd walked a block and a half to the official stop. Needless to say I'm faxing in a "request for bus stop change" tomorrow so he can get picked up at the end of the driveway. I then asked him for the bag. Uh, I threw it away. With the shirts?! No, I took out the shirts. I forgot you might have to return them. I was livid ... they're $20 a shirt! I told him it was coming out of his allowance. Hello?! We talked about it this morning! I am considering being passive aggressive and not getting new shirts. I paid for that negative energy ... ran errands only to find the pharmacy lost the prescription refill Chunky needed for tomorrow (called in 5 days ago) and the grocery store filled with crazy people ... me included I guess. I should have gone back to bed after sending them off to school.

August 19, 2012

August Birchbox


I dismantled the box and put everything away before I could photograph ... sometimes I'm too efficient for my own good. Here's the summary -

Beauty Fixation Lip Conditiontinted swabs filled with a nourishing cocktail of sunflower seed and sweet almond oils. I am saving these for winter when chapped lips are a constant issue. Beauty Fixation has other helpers in handy swab form as well - polish touch up, makeup remover, cuticle conditioner.

Blue Copper 5 moisturizer - another use-at-night product ... evidently its the best time of day for face magic to sink in and take hold. I need a lot of magic, just thinking I need some day stuff too as juggling the four night products is a bit much for me. So little time, so many products.

Juicy Couture La Fleur perfume - floral without being too sweet. It's a little light for me, but a nice option for hot days in late summer.

Caldrea Hand Soap - these came in the cutest individual packets and are going in my purse for emergencies. Since I didn't take a photo, I linked to a different sample from Caldrea so you could see the packaging ... so cute.

A full size Schick Hydro Silk razor - bonus!

And a bonus for you since I didn't include photos ... Lemondade-thyme ... my summer drink 2.5.

August 11, 2012

Fields of gold

I am glued to the Olympics ... most of the family is, but I am a tad more devoted. Two of my favorites are coming up ... synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics ... before the closing ceremonies bring it all to a screeching halt. It will be bittersweet. It's been fun to watch the competitions, all in the name of being the world's best (if only for a moment), team spirit and national pride. I love watching the winners' thrilled reactions and hearing the backstories of how they've come so far ... often working hard for a very long time. I will be happy to return to a normal bedtime ... been staying up way too late each evening to avoid missing anything. Hubby says he'll be happy to have his wife back and is confounded by my ability to watch events on TV while also watching things on the internet at the same time. What can I say, I'm a talented multitasker? I'm fascinated by random facts so thought I would share this interesting tidbit about flowers at the Olympics. You're welcome!

July 28, 2012

The 411

Inspired by this post from one of my favorite bloggers, I purchased a cute little pan for $12 and made Æbleskivers this morning. Delicious! Turning was a bit tricky ... wooden skewers rather than traditional knitting needles ... but it didn't take long to get it down (sorry for the blurry photo). The main trick is to not fill each of the wells too full (2/3 at most). Not only do they taste good (a cross between a pancake and donut), they are darn cute which makes them even better :)

 

**UPDATE** We had leftovers for breakfast the next day and they're just as good though none of the crust when fresh. Anxious to try other recipes ... savory with cheese like a white cheddar sounds awesome. Other recipes here and here. Though the pan only makes 7 at a time, which is considered one serving, the recipe makes 4 servings.

It's the end of baseball season so Chunky has playoffs this weekend. He really loves it, but I will not miss the driving around for practices and games. Sassy is a HUGE help with that though.

We are watching the Olympics of course (have I mentioned I'm a fan?!). We've seen regular and beach volleyball and have heard about swimming 400 IM results but are anxious to watch tonight. I give the opening ceremony a B ... loved the flame lighting and fireworks. Paul McCartney sounded good but he is definitely not getting any younger.

Trying not to complain about hot weather ... wish we could bottle it for 6 months from now.

Stay cool!

July 16, 2012

Wings

Hubby was giving Chunky grief tonight about his hair "with wings" à la Leif Garrett. Of course Chunky wanted to know who Leif Garrett is and neither Hubby nor I could stop laughing long enough to give him a straight answer.

July 15, 2012

You've Got Mail

How sad is it that Nora Ephron recently passed away? Nothing better when you want a good stay-in-your-jammies-its-all-about-you-day than Heartburn, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail or Julie & Julia. My favorite is You've Got Mail. Which got me thinking about my current favorite mail item ... Birchbox. I discovered this in a TIME article about young entrepreneurs and decided it was the perfect way to treat myself with the birthday money my mother gave me (a gift that keeps on giving!). I heart receiving my monthly birchwood box of beauty samples, grab bag style. So I am starting a new monthly post about my treasures à la The Small Things Blog.


Alterna | Bamboo UV+ Color Protection Fade-Proof Fluide - I will likely give this to Sassy as she recently colored the bottom layer of her hair red (I guess it's called 'minking') and she is out in the sun much more often than I

Eyeko | Skinny Liquid Eyeliner - dying to try this! I've never tried liquid eyeliner ... I used to think it was retro in a not so good 60's way, but I guess what's old is new again

Harvey Prince | Hello Perfume - I wore this today and while it smells nice enough I didn't think it lasted very long. I am a HUGE fan of Jo Malone fragrances - they're beautiful, last a long time and are "blendable".

Supergoop! | City Sunscreen Serum - these are definitely going in Hubby's backback for any of us to use in a pinch. Love not having to carry a big ass bottle of sunscreen around.

Tea Forté | minteas - these are going in my purse

Birchbox Exclusive | Earbuds - super cool colors! Not sure if I'm daring enough to wear these, but I'll place them in with my seldom opened workout clothes drawer as a backup pair

July 13, 2012

Here I go again

Happy Friday the 13th! I may have mentioned my fondness for the day here and here :)

I've decided to get back in the saddle and resume my graduate course. My fall class will be International Trade and the Global Economy. Very relevant given the current state of many foreign economies as well as our own. I'm excited and nervous. I pray it's better than Finance because if not, this may be my last class.

July 12, 2012

Anticipation

Only 15 days to the summer Olympics!

July 10, 2012

What's for dinner?

I make dinner at least four nights a week, sometimes more. We value having family dinners to stay connected with one another, though admittedly not all family members are present for every meal, as well as it being important that Hubby maintain good nutrition (as we all should). I struggle with creative ways to make good meals and am often in a hurry because I'm either coming home late, tired or need to do something else. I've found resources like eMeals and Let's Dish are super helpful, but they require a degree of planning I haven't been able to muster lately. This morning I frantically searched the freezer (all 10 items) to find a leftover container of spaghetti sauce and package of Italian sausage. Then I scored penne and a little extra tomato sauce in the pantry. You guesed it, we're having spaghetti! On the drive home from work I got to thinking it would be nice to serve garlic bread with the spaghetti and I remembered I had a loaf of ready to bake French bread in the freezer. I called Chunky and asked him to take it out for me so it would be thawed when I arrived home. Then I had an epiphany ... I should make PW's Olive Cheese Bread! I salivated over this when she made it on her Food Network program back in March. I couldn't recall if I had all the ingredients, but knew I had at least one type of olive and parmesan cheese so would improvise if needed. It turns out I had both types of olives and a shredded Italian cheese mix. I did end up improvising a bit by paring down the butter (half stick), adding minced garlic (from a jar of course) and parmesan. The green onions were omitted (none on hand) as was the mayo (I am so not a mayo lover). I made one half garlic/cheese only for picky kiddos and added olives to the other half for Hubby and myself. Oh my stars and garterbelts is this ever good! Make this bread - it will rock your world! And you deserve a reward for making it through this entire post :)

July 8, 2012

Unity

It's been three years almost to the day since my last concert. While not as grand (small venue, no opening band), last night's 311 concert was awesome in its own way. The band kicked off their summer Unity tour in our fair city. We had great seats, or I should say Hubby had a great view from directly above the band and one member of our party of six was allowed to sit with him. I made friends with the security guard - stay at home dad with two girls ages 6 and 3 weeks - so both Sassy and I got good seats :) The lead singer is super cute ... it was a major hardship to see him so close up :) My only disappointment was that they didn't play two of my favorites - "Amber" and a cover of The Cure's "Lovesong" they performed for the movie 50 First Dates (it was also covered by Adele on her 21 album). It's sort of mine and Hubby's theme song. We listened to them in the van on the way home so all ended well. Rock on!

July 5, 2012

Memories

I started scrapbooks for the cherubs several years ago, but I lost interest after awhile so have a lot of hard copy photos in boxes and digital ones online that don't see the light of day, as well as a gagillion photos from life pre-kids. I discovered ScanDigital through one of the daily deal sites (Groupon, Living Social). I thought it would be a good idea to use this for childhood photos as well as much older ones from my parents' families to preserve and maybe build a photo book with my favorite online photo site.

This is one of the best ideas ever (the business as well as mine!). It was super easy - I signed up, obtained a customer ID and address to send in my box of photos. Voila, a few weeks later I received an email with access to view photos online as well as a box via mail with CD of all my photos, original photos, order form for future use and handwritten thank you note. I am extremely impressed and highly recommend this service. If I didn't have umpteen dollars worth of scrapbooking supplies I should put to good use I would use this service to catch up on all my hard copy photos for the kids.

I just had to share a few of my very early early year favorites.

How cute is she?!

July 4, 2012

Some Like it Hot

It is hotter than Hades in the arctic. Like last year, we're at 100F°, but this year the rest of the country is experiencing it too and for longer periods. We're not complaining - air conditioning works and the local movie theater has a great selection. The heat isn't conducive to Hubby's sensitive condition so we won't be seeing fireworks tonight (predicted to be 90F° at 9:00 pm).

Stay cool and God Bless America!

June 24, 2012

New Additction

I knew there was a cult following of Downton Abbey so presumed it was good. It premiered in the UK fall of 2010 and in the US early 2011. I finally decided to invest some time and used Sassy's Netflix account to watch the first episode. I am now officially addicted and on episode five. It's fantastic - the story, costumes, ensemble cast, everything! As usual, Maggie Smith is extraordinary. The story starts in 1912 with news of the Titanic sinking critical to the plot. I love how the lives of aristocats and servants are juxtaposed. I'm late to the party as usual, but definitely a follower.

June 21, 2012

Inked

Sassy got a tattoo!

The dates are for Papa's death and Hubby's accident. I'm not a devotee myself, but Hubby has five (one is a cover-up). Volunteering for pain is not high on my bucket list and I find the permanency a little offputting. Sassy is happy with it and I'm happy it's in a location (back) that's no one will see unless she wants them to. As she turned around with her shirt still up I saw something else ... a bellybutton ring. I asked if there was anything else new ... pregnant, dropping out of college to backpack through Europe. She said no, but I have a feeling her rebellious independent period isn't over.

June 19, 2012

Summer in a glass 2.0

Version 1.0 was delicious, but this is right up there!

Watermelon Agua Fresca  courtesy of Rachael Ray

8 cups seedless watermelon cubes
6 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
1/3 cup fresh lime juice plus 1 sliced lime
A few sprigs mint or rosemary
Ice

Puree watermelon in blender. Strain into bowl through fine-mesh sieve. Stir in honey and lime juice. Transfer to pitcher; stir in 1-1/2 cups water, lime slices and mint. Chill; serve over ice.

I halved the recipe - used honey, substituted three packets of True Lime for lime juice and eliminated mint/rosemary. Delicious! Add a little vodka if feeling saucy :)

June 17, 2012

Win some, lose some


This rosemary garlic bread recipe was a huge hit! I don't have a finished photo due to some drama and the work-in-process photos seemed silly to include without a finished product. I made the bread early in the morning (my great grandmother always said that was the best time to bake ... low humidity or pressure or something like that). They turned out beautiful, 2 gloriously browned loaves with rosemary and garlic dotted perfectly all over the tops. Gorgeous. I left them to cool and five minutes later I heard odd noises so went back to the kitchen only to find two empty pans and one of my dogs, Abby, rushing away. I could have cried. It is a super simple recipe, but I was low on flour and rosemary. I went to the store and made another batch on principle. There was significantly less rosemary and the dogs were relegated to the backyard for the entire process. Next time I may make them side by side on the same pan as well as add garlic to the itself rather than just on top.

The mint brownie recipe is another winner. The kids told me these were too chocolately as if there is such a thing, but Hubby and I love them. Very rich ... a little goes a long way which is better for my waist. These remind me of the Cocoa Gems my great grandmother made.

The potato salad and peppers were okay. I think I'd add garlic to the peppers and though the salad was okay I guess I'm a traditionalist for mayo, mustard, dill and celery seed.

Bon Appétit

June 16, 2012

Buzzzzzzzz

I got a bee in my bonnet this morning - I haven't cooked/baked much lately and miss it so I made three new recipes and am planning a fourth for dinner.
  • Mint brownies
  • Rosemary garlic bread
  • Summer potato salad
  • Summer grilled peppers
 I'll post recipes if any of them turn out.

June 15, 2012

The Graduate

Sassy is 18 and a high school graduate. How did this happen? Where has the time gone? I am NOT okay with this. Moving on. Sassy was #9 (alphabetical) out of four hundred-and-something graduates at her high school. I wasn't sure what to expect - I'd only attended my own and Hubby's graduation previously. Sassy's ceremony was very simple and nice.

I always take first day of school photos so thought I'd take a last day photo, especially since it was Toga! day. Those white jersey sheets sure came in handy - Sassy used them for her toga (strategic pinning courtesy of YouTube) and I used for a tablecloth on the dessert table at her open house.


Wish I'd caught a photo of all the grads throwing their caps in the air following the ceremony. True to form (better late than never), I caught the moment afterward. That's Sassy in the front row, fourth from top, sweeping her bangs to the side as she looks up at the caps stuck in the rafters.

Family photos from pre-graduation dinner -
 The people who made her life possible - literally!

 The she-should-be-moving-out-so-I-can-have-her-room look

 Grma P (my mom)

Grma G (Hubby's mom)

I don't have many photos from the open house and those I do have are fuzzy or dark. This is the only photo that turned out well - we hung tissue paper pom poms in the trees to guide people from front of house to back along the side of our house.

I can sum up the party with: great food (thanks Mom!), great people and fantastic weather.

May 20, 2012

Prom 2012 Recap

Last night was Sassy's senior prom. We were a little more low-key than last year. This year's dress was from Rent the Runway - best idea ever! Sassy picked out the gown she wanted a couple of months ago, selected two sizes (standard, one price) and then a back-up gown. She ended up choosing the back-up gown. Her first choice was the same dress in gold sequins - it photographed beautifully, but the red was really special in person and was perfect for her skin tone and hair color. She wore inexpensive earrings from Macy's (which were strategically selected so I can wear in the future!), gladiator sandals and a good friend styled her hair - she didn't want an up-do, rather more of an old Hollywood vibe. I think she looks perfect!

The happy couple - it wasn't easy to get his hair in the photo!
Family photo
Good looking group

May 18, 2012

A Friend Is Like A Good Bra...

Hard to find
Supportive
Comfortable
Always lifts you up
Never lets you down
Never leaves you hanging
Always close to your heart

May 15, 2012

Smashed

I've been thinking about writing a post on my yin-yang relationship with the show Smash, then PW goes and writes this brilliant post. 'Nuff said.

I couldn't resist adding this write up.

No one is allowed to visit Ellis in prison. Ever.

May 9, 2012

In this house

I saw this vinyl decal saying on etsy and knew we had to have it in our home ... it's so us. I just put it up downstairs and absolutely love it. More to come on renovations/redecorating soon.

April 26, 2012

April 20, 2012

Admission

Okay I'll admit it, I read Gywneth Paltrow's "lifestyle journal" GOOP. I don't remember how I found it, though I don't recall specifically seeking it out. She's often criticized for being self-absorbed. I ignore that. I don't care, I don't know her and if I don't like what she has to offer, I can move on to the next thing. I don't read all of the newsletters ... I definitely pass on the shopping / fashion ones as a) I don't have the budget required to purchase recommendations and 2) her body type is the antithesis of mine and anything she wears would look beyond ridiculous on me. Enough about what I don't like ... let me share something I do, this excellent post about healthy relationships. Enjoy!

April 19, 2012

Good cop, bad cop

Sad, helpless, tired ... this is how I feel about our bathroom remodel. The one being rebuilt for hubby's needs. It was supposed to be 20 days - we figured 6-7 weeks. It was supposed to cost X - we figured it would be a little more. We were told there would be open communication and things would go smoothly - we figured there would be a few bumps in the road. Here we are 12 weeks later with at least another 2, possibly 3, weeks to go. Here we are paying an additional $13,000 (30%+ over original quote), which doesn't include things we've paid for on our own like sink, faucet, toilet, tub. Here we are not knowing who is coming in our home, or if anyone is coming, on any given day at any given time. We've often had people working until 8:00 or 9:00 at night ... it kind of cramps your style but we figured maybe they'd be done quicker. Oh no. We're ready for this to be done.

We had a sit-down the other night with the contractor ... I'm VERY comfortable with candid conversations. Hubby always plays the role of good cop to my bad cop. Including parenting situations. It's super annoying. As usual, I was cool and calm, yet specific and firm. Hubby was dead silent (one of a good cop's best qualities). Then the universe shifted at one point and Hubby went all bad cop. He let 'er rip ... something, something, something, "this is bullshit", something, something, "get it done". He didn't say much, but what he said was profound. We made our point. We came to a reasonable resolution. When Hubby and I debriefed later that evening, Hubby said he didn't think the contractor could sink any lower in his chair. I'm evil ... that made me smile a little.

Being the results-oriented bad cop I am, I followed up our conversation with a detailed email of decisions, to-do's, timelines and outstanding questions. Of course there's been no reply. I've morphed from sad, helpless, tired to THIS IS BULLSHIT and GET IT DONE! I must be turning into good cop!

April 17, 2012

March 25, 2012

I have a date tonight

With Mad Men season 5 premiere!


I'm hoping the show deals with the sexual revolution and civil rights movement of the 1960s more boldly than the brief nods in previously seasons. I've mentioned my obsession here in the past. The show may have "men" in the title, but it's the women who make the show - give it heart, depth and complexity. So don't call me tonight, I have a date!

March 11, 2012

Stuffed

Another eMeals hit! We love colored peppers and "minis" are super convenient to eat so I improvised the recipe a bit. I realize the photo is not as appealing raw as it would have been cooked ... I should have taken a photo after they came out of the oven. Oh well, such is life. Hubby couldn't get enough of these - sweet and juicy peppers with seasoned meat. Delish!



Stuffed Peppers
4-6 medium bell peppers, cut off tops & remove seed or one bag mini peppers
1 1/2 lbs ground beef or ground turkey
1 chopped sweet onion
14 oz can Italian style diced tomatoes, undrained
⅜ c cooked white rice
3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper
6 T ketchup-divided
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano or italian seasoning + dry mustard

I used glaze from my favorite church cookbook:
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp dry mustard
1 Tb brown sugar

Combine ground beef, onion, rice, 4 T ketchup, salt, pepper & 3/4 tsp oregano. Stuff mix in peppers & set in 8x8 baking dish. Stir diced tomatoes, 2 T ketchup and oregano then pour over peppers. Cover with foil. Bake at 350° for 1 1/2 hours or until no longer pink in center.

Mine only took an hour to cook. I added tomatoes, ketchup and seasoning to meat mix. Then I put in large Ziploc bag, cut corner and "piped" into peppers. Add glaze on top with teaspoon. I ran out of peppers (half bag) so made mini loaves - these tasted good, but because no egg to bind they fell apart when I took them out of the pan. Super yummy over mashed potatoes two days later though!

March 10, 2012

Hot Wheels

Our new handicap accessible van!


March 1, 2012

Kitty Love

Another cat post. Pre-accident hubby made fun of how close Sookie and I were. She follows me everywhere, cuddles and even likes to "chat" while I shower. He called her pathetic. Look who's all buddy-buddy now?!