Friday, December 31, 2010

The end. Amen.

Its the last day of 2010 and its time to get those resolutions going. I always struggle with making resolutions because we all know 99% of resolutions aren't kept, but still, with the new year starting it doesn't hurt to make them...I guess.  Last year I read a blog about making lists, (of all things), and according to the author, a good list has no more than 6 items on it.  Whatever.  So here's my list:

  • I'm not really making a list.
Sorry.  That was anticlimactic wasn't it?  I do have plans - the usual - eat better, lose weight, exercise, that sort of thing.  But for this first week of the New Year, I'm going to say that I'm going to avoid white foods.  Because I'm so addicted to sugar and carbs, I'm hoping that avoiding white foods (white flour, potatoes, rice, etc.) will get me over that habit of rummaging through the cupboards looking for something sweet.  Besides, as my coworker Barb says, "You do realize that carbs are mostly grains, and grains are what they give cattle to fatten them up."  That was like a light bulb moment for me.  Next week's menu is going to have a lot of veggies and fruits on it, just not white ones.  : )

And now for something completely different:

There are very few blogs I read on a daily basis.  I do read the ones that are listed over to the right quite regularly, but there are a few others that I go to a lot too.  You'll probably like them.

Need a good laugh?  Go check out Ugly Christmas Lights.  Lots of pictures of hideous Christmas lights that make you feel good about your own display of holiday splendor.  Or perhaps, they'll look similar to your own display.  Gasp!

I used to love going through open houses on Sundays just to see what other people's houses look like.  I also like movies (as you've probably detected) so imagine my elation at discovering Hooked on Houses! This woman has posts about  homes that are used in movies with a lot of backstory and bits of trivia as well.  One of my favorite posts there is about the movie White Christmas.  Go check it out.  Don't forget to check the section of Bad MLS photos.  These are pictures that realtors take of houses that are for sale. Funny stuff. 

More funny stuff.  Cake Wrecks, which I've mentioned before.  Professional cakes gone wrong - some of those are so hysterical that you have to wonder if people are really that stupid.  And yes, people really ARE that stupid. 

Here's a site to help with some of those resolutions everyone makes.  Sparkpeople, which is mostly for weight loss and exercise also has a section for helping with your budget.  The weight loss and exercise component is a lot like Weight Watchers only its free.  The budget section looks interesting and I may be exploring that in the next week or so.  Speaking of Weight Watchers, apparently they've changed up their program.  Again.  I've always spoken highly of WW as it doesn't tell you what to eat, and it teaches you how to eat a good, basic, healthy diet.  Some of their changes mean that foods, which have a point value according to their fiber, fat and calorie content, have changed in point value.  One good change:  fruit is now considered a free food, meaning there are no points.  An apple used to be 1 to 2 points depending on its size.  Anway, I don't know much more about it because I don't go there anymore.  But if you want to lose weight, WW is a really good program.  Go check it out if you need that weekly accountability.  Otherwise check out Sparkpeople. 

Whatever your plans are for ringing in the New Year, please be careful.  May 2011 bring lots of happiness and good health to you!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Distressed

Well, it has happened.  Its the end of the year and once again, I'm realizing that my New Years Resolutions from last year didn't happen.  Again.  I will be a glutton for punishment here and tell you what I didn't accomplish:

  • I didn't run a 5k
  • I didn't pay off all those bills
And there, that's about it, because that's the only resolutions I made.  So I had a 100% failure rate.  yay me. 

So why do I feel it necessary to make new resolutions for this next year?  Because its what we do. 

I stepped on the scale this morning and to my dismay, I discovered that I've gained 6 lbs.  (6 lbs!!!) in one week.  Yes, one week.  I must be stopped.  I'm so angry with myself because lets face it; no one forces me to eat, or to sit on the couch rather than exercise.  So I guess desperate times call for desperate measures, and I have to take action.  (literally and figuratively)  At this point it sounds like I'm overreacting to 6 lbs, but its those 6 lbs added on to the 15 that I've gained over the year that are really pissing me off. 

And once again, I'm going to be public about this in the hopes that it'll force me to be accountable.  Although, it didn't work all that well with the previous year's resolutions, I'll just be the eternal optimist and hope that this time, it does. 

In the next week or so, I'm going to come up with measurable, attainable goals that will give me something to shoot for. In the meantime, I HAVE to get moving.  Yada, yada yada.  Same old song, new verse. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

What's the dealio?

While doing my online Christmas shopping, I discovered a website that was new to me.  It's called Dealio.  It compares online prices of whatever you're looking for, and lists those deals with links to the websites.  Very handy.  Maybe you'll find it helpful too. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Menu

Believe me, I'm no expert in the field of home management, but I have to share something with you.  Its something that has saved me a great deal of time and lately, lots of money as well.  Are you intrigued?  Here's my tip for you... plan a weekly menu.  That's it. 

I know, you're probably thinking you don't need to, and that you have everything under control.  But bear with me here because it gets a little more exciting.  (I think, anyway.) 

I've given a little bit of effort in years past with planning a menu, but felt very restricted by it.  What if, for example, I don't feel like eating spaghetti on Monday?  or whatever.  In the past 3 months though, I've planned a menu simply as a way to actually make some of the recipes I've collected over the years.  I have a huge stack of good-sounding recipes that I've been meaning to cook - some I've had for 20 years even! And since some of these recipes call for ingredients I don't normally have on hand, I thought I'd be smart and make a menu and a corresponding shopping list.  By doing so, I spent about $100 less on groceries during that 2 week period. Yes, I said $100.  I could probably save even more if I planned a menu based on whats on sale at the store that week too.  I don't necessarily stick to the menu as its written, and I usually swap days depending on whats going on that particular day.  But I don't usually abandon the menu entirely. 

Anway, I was checking out one of my favorite websites, I'm an Organizing Junkie , because, frankly, I want to be one.  And she had a link to another blog where there was the cutest menu board.  I'm linkin' up that website too...
She made it out of a baking pan!  How clever!


The directions are all on her blog, While He Was Napping.  And while its super-cute, I won't be making it because its just one more thing for me to do.  But hey, you're you. 


In case you still need convincing, I'm going to list some benefits of planning a menu:
  • You can save money
  • You never have to worry at 4 pm what you could possibly whip up for dinner by 5.  I look at the menu for the next day while I'm cleaning up from the current day's dinner and take out any meat that needs to thaw, chop up any veggies that I may need, etc.
  • This saves time
  • In theory, if you have a menu posted, other family members can get started on cooking it.  Notice I said "in theory".  Because in all honesty, that'll never happen. 
  • It helps you eat healthier by having food thats actually good for you, rather than ordering a pizza or running to the nearest fast-food restaurant because you can't possibly have dinner ready in an hour.   
  • It makes you feel oh-so-smart because you have it all under control. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

On a Lighter Note

I've become fairly obsessed with The Next Iron Chef on the Food Network recently.  I have never been one to watch cooking shows as I'd rather do than watch, but I happened to be tuned in when the first show of this season aired.  Its kind of late in the game to be talking about this because next week is the final show, but next season, if you like cooking shows, you should definitely watch. 

They started out with oh, I don't know, maybe 10 chefs and each week they eliminated one of them based on cooking challenges.  They'll give these people a challenge, say, updated carnival food and then give them 30 minutes to come up with something.  And what they come up with is amazing.  I can't even come up with a dinner idea in a house full of food, but these chefs are so creative that they can make anything. One week one of them made corn snow-cones. Aside from that concoction, everything else looks really, really tasty. 

And then there's the inevitable personality clashes and irritating habits of chefs that just make it all the more fun to watch.  One week, when given a challenge to come up with something that utilized the concept of respect using potatoes (I don't know who comes up with these ideas, and they are a bit out there, but...) one pompous chef kept critizing others for not "respecting the potato".   That made me smile several times during the week. 

So if you're looking for something to watch and you're tired of the same old reality shows and you've seen every episode of CSI, try something on The Food Network.  And then after you've watched and learned, invite me over to your house to eat.  : )


Here's the guy I want to win.  Chef Forgione.  Cutie.  : )

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Confessional

Here we go again.  Its a Sunday and I find myself with time to post so I guess its confessional time...

I don't like Christmas.  Yes, its true and I said it out loud. 

Maybe someday soon I'll elaborate.  Suffice it to say that the occasional Christmas commercial that I hear now signals my fight or flight response, and hearing a Christmas carol in JCPenney the other night made me clench my fists.  This is nothing new and I'm afraid it won't go away any time soon. 

Sigh. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Proud Mom Soapbox

This past weekend, our marching band competed at its last event of the year; the Michigan Competing Band Association's State Championship.  It marks the end of a very long season, which technically began last May.  44 bands competed in 4 different sets of finals.  Each flight is based on high school size so that similar schools are competing against each other.

 For the 6th year in a row, our band took 1st place!  Yay band!  All 3 of my kids have played in this band during the past 6 years and have experienced the thrill of winning.  However, my oldest was also in this band when they didn't win.  Her freshman year, we took second place to our biggest rival by 5/100's of a point.  It didn't kill her or anyone else in the band for that matter.  It was a good life lesson, in fact. 

Sitting in the stands at Ford Field in Detroit this past Saturday, I was once again reminded how petty and small-minded people can be.  Bitter parents form non-winning schools are very vocal when it comes to their criticism of our band, simply because we have a history of winning a lot.  "They have a lot of money for props and uniforms" was one of the things I heard mentioned a lot. (which is totally untrue!)  "They should just make them stop competing, give our kids a chance to win" was another comment I heard.  As a band parent who's been at both ends of the spectrum, I can identify with some of their complaints.  Its not fair that there can't be 11 first place winners, but thats just the way life works.  Every single student on the field works hard, and puts a lot of time into their practices.  Every one of them.  Our band director is always stressing that we aren't striving to win, but to give the best performance they can.  If they do their best, that's all he can ask of them.  I've known this man for most of my life, but in the capacity of a band director, I've known him for 7 years.  Not once have I heard him say, "Let's go out there and win!"  He has always encouraged the band members and band parents alike to be gracious in winning or losing. 

99% of the parents in our organization are always very gracious to other bands and their parents, offering praise for jobs well done, giving compliments on their shows and music.  But I've gotta tell you that isn't the case for most of the other bands in attendance.  One band mom from another school was once so upset about our winning that she slugged one of our band moms while this mom was washing her hands in the bathroom.  What kind of message is that sending to our kids?  It makes me almost fearful of wearing my school sweatshirt in public.  After the show Saturday, my family went to a restaurant (while I rode the bus with the kids) and they were treated poorly by parents from other bands.  Dirty looks and all. 

Its just band, people.  And winning isn't everything.  No where on any college application will any of this matter.  What really matters it that kids learn the value of hard work, and that striving for something as a team creates a work ethic that will serve them well throughout their lives. 

For right now though, I'm going to play the role of proud band mom and post a picture. 
I'm proud of ALL of our band students.  They are a great group of kids!

Realization

Just like everyone else, I have a "favorites" tab in my task bar at the top of my screen.  For the longest time, it was just filled with my favorites, until my kids figured out that they wanted to save their favorite web sites too.  So mixed in with my gardening blogs and coupon sites, there are sites like..."How to make a realistic werewolf mask", and "how to make a fake Pepsi bottle and hide stuff in it".  I even found one that gives instructions on how to create  realistic fake squirting blood from a wound, which of course begs the question, "why?"  Anyway, while looking at my favorite blogs I was faced with the realization that they're all talking about Christmas already.  (!)  I don't know if these super-organized people are in the minority, or if I am.  (I'm going to choose to believe that they are...) So here's my contribution to being organized this Christmas. 
  •    Organized Christmas  This site offers a lot of recipes and homemade gift ideas.  They suggest you have a Grand Plan (their term) and use a notebook to keep all of your recipes, receipts, and lists organized.  Sounds good in theory. 
  • Organized Home - Christmas  A general home organization site, it too uses a notebook.  There are even printable forms you can put in your organizer.  There's lots of useful information too, like sections devoted to freezer cooking, cleaning your house, and getting rid of clutter. 
  • Speaking of lists,  if you need a list, chances are its here.  Of course, it ain't free.  And I'm too cheap to have someone else make my lists for me but hey, you're you.
  • Christmas Organizing This one is by a woman who calls herself a "Christmas Coach".  She's even on Facebook.  There's a lot of ideas here, but not a lot of depth.
I guess I should start taking the Halloween decorations down if I'm going to start thinking about Christmas...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Warning

If you have no desire to hear me whine and complain, then back away slowly right now.  And if you keep reading, don't say I didn't warn you.

Today is one of those days that I'd just like to run away from home.  At one point this morning, I was very close to doing just that, except I can't run away from home.  Part of this started last evening, and most of it started long before then. It involves a broken lawn mower, a rake, and no help.  Throw in some frustration at trying to start the neighbor's mower, a downpour, a corrupt ipod, and a dog that thinks she no longer needs to go outside and you have an inkling of the problem.

Believe me, I know that I don't have it that bad.  You can take me to task for complaining and don't think I haven't taken myself to task either.  I'm just fed up with life at the moment.  I'm questioning why, if God knows the desires of our heart, and wants us to be happy, he's chosen not to hear me.  Is this payback for something?  Here again, you can berate me and remind me that God has his own timing, and has a plan for our lives.  I know these things.  One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you...plans to give you hope and a future."  But this knowledge isn't making me feel any better. 

There...I've vented.  If you're still reading, sorry about that.  I'll try to clean up my attitude.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Evil

Krispy Kremes are the devil.  Just thought I'd point that out. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Scary Movies!

Its only a few days before Halloween and the weather here is already frightful.  Its not too cold, but it sure is windy - The Weather Channel was broadcasting from my local beach for the past two days because the waves were supposed to reach an all-time high of 20 feet.  I live 5 miles from the shore and never bothered to drive out and see.  Shameful.  Anyway, its good weather for watching movies, and since its so close to Halloween, I'll share some good scary movies.  I'm not a fan of the slasher-type horror movies so those won't be appearing on my list.  Ready? 

  •  Hocus Pocus  (1993) - this is one of my favorites!  Its not very scary but its cute and rather harmless.

  • Ghostbusters (1984) - Again, harmless fun.  My family quotes this movie often.  "Listen, do you smell something?"

  • The Shining (1980) - One of my favorites and the remake is just about as good, although no one could ever top Jack Nicholson's creepiness. 

  • Halloween (1978)  This was the original and the best.  It is bit slasherish (what?  that's not really a word?) but still a scary one. 

  • Wait Until Dark (1967) This is more suspenseful than scary and stars Audrey Hepburn.  I saw this for the first time when I was about 10 and in the company of about 150 high schoolers at marching band camp.  Its about a blind woman who gets tangled up with some creeps looking for stolen drugs. I'll never forget the simultaneous screaming of all of those high schoolers at a certain point in the movie.  ...don't want to give anything away now... 

  • Rosemary's Baby (1968) Another really suspenseful one - Mia Farrow is carrying a devil child.  Really!  Only she doesn't know it. 

  • Disney's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1958) This is the cartoon version and while its not totally scary, it certainly isn't Mickey.  And on a side note, I visited the home of Washington Irving a few years ago while on a trip to New York.  I'll have to post about that someday.


  •  The Exorcist (1973)  I still can't watch this without covering my eyes and getting totally creeped out. 

  • Poltergeist ( 1982)  A classic! 

  • Seven (1995)  This Brad Pitt film was creepy, and disturbing, and chilling.  It was awesome.  You have to hope that people like that don't really exist in the world.  I'm not referring to Brad Pitt you know.  Good heavens!  I wish more people in the world were like Brad Pitt!  And lived in my neighborhood.  Sigh. 

  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991)  Anthony Hopkins plays a really good psycho.  I can't even see the words 'fava beans' without thinking of him in this movie. I don't think I'll ever actually eat a fava bean. 

  • What Lies Beneath (2000)  This one had me literally gasping out loud.  I love this movie - and the house that the characters live in is absolutely beautiful.  Its the kind of movie where you yell at the screen, "Don't open the door!" or whatever.  I love those kinds of movies. 


  • The Gift (2000)  Cate Blanchett stars in this movie about a psychic woman and a missing local girl.  I don't think too many people saw this one but its worth a rent.  You can yell at the screen in this one too. 


 There.  That should get you started. 




Monday, October 25, 2010

More Bathroom Ideas

I'm thinking more seriously about remodeling my bathroom.  Its been drifting back and forth between the "want" vs. "need" list for oh, about 15 years now.  I think I've mentioned before how truly ugly my bathroom is.  Its original to the house which was built in 1977 so its a hot mess, with its yellow/brown/orange colors of wallpaper and the nasty wrought iron swag light fixture.  But it has been functional so no matter how many times I try to put it on the "need" list, it always keeps getting put back over to the "want" list. 

But now I find that with each passing day, it is not only inching its way on to the "need" list, but its quickly moving to the top of that last.  The little latch on the tub that makes it hold water (I'm sure this has a real name but I have no idea what that is) no longer works so you can't take a bath anymore.  One sink leaks so badly that I had to put a basin underneath, hidden by the cabinets, to catch the water.  Only half of the light fixture works anymore so anything done in the bathroom is done in dim light.  OK.  I've convinced myself. 

I've been buying scrip from the band over the past few months to help fund this makeover but I don't have nearly enough to cover even half the cost.  But anyway, I have enough to buy a new tub and tub surround.  I don't think you can install a one piece shower/tub thing in an existing home - too hard to get it in the doorway - and also a builder once told me that older homes aren't level and "square" enough to get a one piece to fit.  But my big dilemma is what to do with the big double sink vanity.  Do I replace it with exactly the same thing?  Do I go with two pedestal sinks with a cabinet between?  Do we really use two sinks?  I need a decorator.  I'm terrible about making decisions so what I really need is someone to come in and take right over.  Tell me what to do. 

In the meantime, I've been looking at pictures so I'm sharing.

This seems really busy to me.  And I definitely don't need a tv in the bathroom.  But I like the vanity.  I'm thinking we only need one sink, really.  That would free up some space for more storage.  Except I have this really big closet in there already and I really don't need more storage.  I'm trying to think in terms of what a future buyer might want so thats figuring into a lot of my decisions. 


This is so bright and sunny!  Maybe a little too bright and sunny... I need more counter space than this too.

This does not appeal to me at all.  I just don't like the bowl sitting on the counter look.

Here are two from Pottery Barn - two words that strike fear in my bank account.  But holy moly!  I love that store!



Basically the same cabinet,  only the top one has one sink, the bottom has two.  This piece alone would eat up the entire budget for the room.  So this, sadly, is a no. 


...and then I have to think about lighting.  According to people who know these types of things, your bathroom light shouldn't come from above you...that creates shadows and makes it hard to apply makeup.  Lighting sources should be on the sides of the mirror.  I get what they're saying, but it seems like the light should be over the mirror, above your head so you can see what you're doing.  But what do I know? 
          
Here are some lights I like, also from Pottery Barn.




 I really love the subway tile.  It is classic and never goes out of style.  Unfortunately, it would cost too much for my project too.  If I planned on living in this house for the next 20 years, I'd do it in a heartbeat, but thats not the case.


But look what I found!  This vanity is pretty similar to the one at Pottery Barn only its a fraction of the price. 

Well, similar if you use your imagination I guess.  

Now I'm sufficiently inspired.  I guess I'll go do a little home improvement store browsing today!



Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kiddos

My two youngest children are involved in a group at school, called STATS, which stands for either Straight Talk About Tough Stuff or Students Talking About Tough Stuff.  Either way, its a great program.  The students in this group go to middle schools in the county and through skits and personal talks encourage others students to stay away from alcohol, drugs and sex.  Our local paper has a really nice article about it so I'm linking it up.  My daughter is quoted near the end of the article, and my son is included in the first picture shown.  Of all the things my kids could be involved in at school, I'm really proud that they have chosen this one.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween

Fall is my favorite season and Halloween is my favorite holiday, mainly because I like the decorations.  It might have something to do with my fascination with horror movies back when I was in middle school.  Not sure.  At any rate, I do like Halloween and all that goes along with it - except maybe the 3000 trick-or-treaters we get in my neighborhood every year.  I especially like when Halloween movies start playing on the Disney channel. 

My decorating skill is just one notch above a kindergartener and usually involves just placing figurines in random places on a shelf.  My sister Kathy got all of the decorating skill in my family and can throw together a beautiful little display of gourds, branches and weeds and it looks better than what Martha Stewart can do.  Sadly, my displays just look like someone forgot to put the groceries away.  That said, I thought I'd show you a picture of my wreath, which I'm pretty proud of, by the way.  I collect antique Halloween postcards and really have no idea how to display them so this is what I did with a few of them.

Now that I"m looking at it, it's not all that wonderful.  Oh well.  It'll do.  Those little orange rectangular things are antique noise makers.  They click when you squeeze them.  Funny!

What're you looking at?

I feel like a lost soul or something.  Like I've lost focus and can't get it back.   I mean really, why are you here?  This whole blog bidness started out as a way to keep myself accountable to my New Year's resolutions and I've been partially successful, but not because of this blog.  I had 2 goals, as you may recall, and I did finally meet one of those goals.  Ho hum.  I feel like I need to have a specific theme here or something...something to keep people coming back.  I'm sure no one wants to read about the mundane things going on in my life, right?  Don't answer that...  You have your own mundane things going on in your life, I'm sure.

Did you ever see that movie about Julia Child?  Julie and Julia, I think it was called.  The one where Julie decides to try a new Julia Child recipe every day and blogs about it and soon she's an internet sensation.  Not that I want to be an internet sensation or anything, but I feel like I have to have a challenge like that.  Except I can't come up with anything. 

There is a blog out there by a woman who decided that she would follow the advice and suggestions Oprah gave on her show.  She decided that since Oprah's mantra was "Live your Best Life", that she would see if following that advice did indeed result in a better life.  She did this experiment for one year and I found her blog about a month before the year was over.  It was fairly interesting and entertaining, especially since Oprah gives a lot of conflicting advice.  I don't have anything that interesting going for me.  And now that I'm working twice as much as I was when I started this thing, I really have nothing interesting to talk about.  I spend most of my week at work.  Pretty boring. 

As is true of most people, I've got stuff going on in my life I don't feel comfortable putting here for the world to read.  Really don't want my dirty laundry hanging out right there in the front yard so to speak.  Maybe someday I'll feel some level of comfort enough to share some of that stuff, but not right now.  Life is really hard and sometimes not very enjoyable.  I think I'm in that spot right now.  Still trying to find my groove.  (Not to be confused with my groove thing, which I found back in the late 70's).  So if you're not put off by my loss of focus here (and elsewhere, really) hang around and see what happens.  Maybe  I'll find something interesting to blog about.  And if you really do just like reading about the stupid stuff I put on here, let me know.  I can do that easily enough. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New Addition

There's a new baby in the family!!! 


My niece Lindsay and her husband George had a baby boy yesterday, their first!  He weighed 7 lbs 3 oz.  I can't wait to hold him. He lives in Chicago so if he doesn't come here soon, we'll be on our way!


Zombie



I'm not sure if this is technically called a zombie but I'm trying to figure out how to get him into Kate's locker at work.  Shhhhh.  Don't tell her...

Really?

All week long, we've had inspectors at the hospital where I work.  They're checking to make sure proper paperwork is in place and that we follow procedures for safety and that sort of thing.  Its kind of like having company over for dinner, so you know the entire place is spotless and we're all on our best behavior.  Man, is that hard!  We all live in fear that the interviewer will pull us aside and start asking questions.  I've worked in this hospital for 25 years and have managed to avoid this scenario.  Until today.  However, I was asked brief, meaningless questions before the inspector turned her attention to my co-workers.  Whew!

So the surveyor starts looking around the department, heads into our playroom and looks at the only electrical plug that does not have a plug protector in place.  The one thing we missed!  Of course! That kind of made me mad though, because in the general scheme of things, a missing plug protector doesn't mean our patients aren't well taken care of.  And I'm certainly not going to ignore a patient's needs while I go look for a plug protector.  I guess I'm not detail oriented.  And maybe I have a bad attitude.  Im just glad we don't have to do this again for another 2 years.  

Happy
About a month ago now, my daughter was very ill.  She had gone away to college with what we now know was a kidney infection. Unfortunately, we didn't know that until it was almost too late.  The poor thing went to class every day feeling just awful, and finally came home a week later.  By the time she got in to see the doctor, she was in kidney failure and almost at the point of vascular collapse.  I think if she had waited another day, she would have died. She spent several days in ICU, where I slept in a chair at her bedside, watching the constant display of her blood pressure and pulse.  To say that I prayed constantly would be an understatement. 

Thankfully, she recovered and quickly got back to school.  She had a really rough start and once back at college, was extremely homesick.  What's making me happy is that she's doing very well now.  She's healthy.  She has her sense of humor back.  And her beautiful face now has a smile.  Jeremiah 29:11 has always been a favorite of mine. Its a comfort to me in times of trouble, and an inspiration to me when I look at my kids.  Paraphrasing here, "For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord.  "Plans to give you hope, and a future."  I'm so thankful for the prayers of so many friends, and so thankful that my daughter is once again back to her normal, wonderful self.

 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Here's what I've learned:

Now that gardening season is done, I'm writing down what I learned about having a big garden so in the future, I will learn from this year's mistakes. 

Lesson #1:  No one needs 50 tomato plants.  Unless you're a farmer, or plan on making a living selling tomatoes, 50 tomato plants is just too many.  I had planned on canning lots of different versions of tomato products but that just didn't happen.  First of all, it was a bad year for tomatoes, and second, and probably more importantly,  I just didn't have time to can much anyway. 

The weather was hot and humid most of the summer, rather than just the one or two weeks we usually get.  Good beach weather, but apparently bad for tomatoes.  I really thought that I'd have enough tomatoes for the neighborhood but I got a relatively small harvest, considering that I had...say it with me...50 tomato plants. 

Lesson #2:  Planning is essential.  I had a master plan for my big garden and did a pretty good job of following it, but got enticed by some plants that weren't in the plan.  See Lesson #3.

Lesson #3:  There is no point in growing eggplant if no one in the family likes it. 

Lesson #4:  Mulch is also essential.  My idea of putting down newspaper an inch beneath the soil kept the weeds at bay...for about 2 weeks. 

Lesson #5:  Everything takes longer than you plan.  And by this I mean that it took twice as long to plant, weed, prune, and harvest than I had scheduled.  It also took twice as long, in some instances, for stuff to grow.  Seed packets give you the number of days from planting to harvest, but I guess these are just general guidelines.  Stuff just grows in its own good time.

Lesson #6: This is probably the most important thing I learned.  You have to have time to devote to taking care of your garden.  I was willing to overlook the fact that this garden is 20 minutes away, and thought it would be no big deal to run up there a couple of times a week to care for it.  But then, lesson #5 was quickly learned, and there were very few days that I had enough time to devote to doing the garden justice.  In the mean time, my own yard suffered because I just didn't have time to take care of it properly.  Maybe some day, when I'm retired, I'll have a big garden again, but for now I'm going to stick with my tiny little garden and grow stuff in pots on my deck.  I guess for now, I'll be a frequent flyer at the farmer's market! 


I don't mean to sound like gardening was a negative experience!  It was quite relaxing to go up to my garden and see the entire farm growing.  People planted some of the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen, and a lot of people personalized their gardens making it fun to wander around.  I also learned a lot by being up there and watching how people plant their stuff.  Much of the time, I was the only person there and I enjoyed being outside listening to the birds.  You can do a lot of thinking in a garden!

Happy
The reason I started this silly blog in the first place was to keep myself accountable for 2 goals I had set for the new year.  One was running a 5k, which I still haven't done, and the other was paying off a bill.  Well, I paid that bill off last week and was thrilled for about 5 minutes.  Then I realized that I still have other bills to pay (well...I didn't just realize that, but reality has a way of being a downer sometimes).  And it only took me 6 months longer to do than I had planned.  Sigh.  But hey, I'm making progress!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday Confessional

Not only has it been a long time since we had a confessional here, but its been a long time since I've been here at all.  The last part of August turned out to be quite a busy time.  Preparing a child to leave for college is rather time consuming.  And then going to retrieve that child because she is sick consumes even more time.  But then sitting with that child in the emergency room, the ICU and the medical floor for 5 days takes up even more time.  Poor kid!  I wouldn't have been anywhere else.  She's recovering nicely, thank God!  And the knowledge that many, many people were praying for her really comforted me - and helped her too!

So what to confess...what to confess... hmm... ... ...

This is not a shocker to those who know me.  And I hope its not something that is exclusive to just me;  but I can't seem to find my car in a parking lot.  Ever.  You could suggest that I use the panic button on my key fob, but that whole thing hasn't worked in a really long time.  I've tried memorizing just where I park (section G, or whatever) but that doesn't seem to work either.  So instead, I wander the parking lot, trying to act nonchalant about it. I don't want to appear uncool, you understand.  I'm sure people can figure out that I'm lost anyway. 

I've been known to get in the wrong car too.  Which mortifies my kids.  But really, people should keep their car doors locked!

Please tell me I'm not alone!

You'll Thank Me

Allright my friends, I'm gonna say three words that are going to make your life complete:


Green Goddess Dressing


Maybe that's a bit dramatic, but seriously, Green Goddess Dressing is my new favorite food product. 

My 17 year old daughter told me about GGD (I'm too lazy to keep typing it out) a few months ago when I was going to make taco salad for dinner.  She insisted that the salad had to be made with Doritos, but that it also had to have GGD.  "Trust me", she said.  So I went to the store and bought a bottle of GGD and a bag of Doritos, and I'll be darned!  That was the Best taco salad in the world!  And I'm not being too dramatic here! 

Yesterday at work, a security guard gave me a recipe for a seafood salad that contains...you guessed it, GGD.  He said that without that dressing, the salad is nothing.  He's tried substituting ranch or other various creamy-type dressings but that the GGD really makes it good.  Thus began a discussion about GGD.  Just what is in GGD?  Thank God for Google!  It contains tarragon and chervil which we think makes it green. 

A lot of stores don't carry GGD anymore because, while it was popular in the late 70's, not too many people use it anymore.  Kraft still makes it but I'm a little nervous that they'll stop.  So before it disappears completely, go buy some!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Harvest

I found myself with some unexpected time off of work today so I decided to pay a visit to The Big Garden.  I brought containers to haul home whatever was ready to be picked... the last time I went, I didn't have enough carrying devices.  I had an hour and a half to pick the ripe tomatoes, and whatever else was ripe. 

I ended up staying there two and a half hours, which made me late for a good-bye party.  But I was on a roll!

I picked one watermelon which may or may not be ripe.  I'll know later.  About a month ago I picked one that wasn't even pink inside.  The limits of my patience were really tested with this watermelon...its one of the reasons I had a garden in the first place.

And then I picked tomatoes.  Gobs and gobs of tomatoes.  You should see the ones I didn't bring home;  my harvest would have doubled in size.  Many were unusable because in my stupidity  lack of judgement, I failed to properly stake my plants, and tomatoes were growing all over the ground.  And it seems if they're on the ground, something has burrowed into the fruit, making mushy, icky, nasty spots.  And then there were the ones that were so ripe that they cracked or were rotten, still hanging on the vine. 

What you can't see are the tomatoes I picked on Sunday.  There are just as many as this on my back deck.  Plus I've given some away, and made salsa.  My God!  What did I expect with 50 tomato plants!?!

After the tomatoes, I picked some eggplants, squash, and peppers.  I must say that it was really hard to see some of the ripe stuff because my garden is a hot mess.  There are weeds taking over everything, and since this is an organic garden, I can't use weed killer.  My brilliant idea of using newspaper under mulch to keep the weeds at bay didn't succeed.  At least not long term.


The basil was almost ready to bloom so I knew I had to get that picked.  The problem is cleaning all that basil.  Plus I have so much more that needs to be gathered.  I'm gonna have enough pesto for the neighborhood!


Finally, I decided to dig up half of my potatoes.  The plants have almost all died so they're good to go.  It wouldn't hurt to leave them in the ground another week I suppose, but I'm nosy and impatient.  Digging up potatoes is like digging for buried treasure.  Seriously!

20 lbs of potatoes

I weighed one of those containers of tomatoes (the styrofoam one) and that alone weighed 25 lbs.  There are hundreds of tomatoes still on the vines, still green.  I may, at some point, have to abandon them due to tomato overload. 

Last week I picked all of my onions.  Here they are drying on my back deck.

I can't seem to do anything in reasonable quantities.  Maybe I'm a little obsessive? There are more on some chairs that aren't in the picture.  (she said, sheepishly)


If you've been reading about my garden from the beginning, you may remember Peggy.  She was my crabby garden neighbor.  I feel I must take back what I said about her because last Sunday, when my son and I were picking stuff, Peggy told me that there were strangers in my garden helping themselves to some produce.  Interlopers!!  She told them that it wasn't very nice to help themselves and that had I put a lot of time and effort into that garden and she was sure that I wouldn't appreciate stealing.  Wow.  I guess I was wrong about her.  Of course, I thanked her. I guess she's not so bad... and really, most people aren't.  Meanwhile, my cabbages are gone, and my cauliflower, which was labelled as cabbage, has rotted right there in the garden.  It smells terrible! 


Happy?
Tomorrow's the big day here at our house.  My oldest heads off to college.  Sniff.  We've packed up her car, packed up my car and have additional stuff to be packed into a pick-up truck.  I hope I've prepared her well for whatever she faces.  Maybe all parents feel this way, but I think that I didn't do as much as I should have.  I could have been a better parent in a lot of ways.  Hindsight is always 20/20 I guess.  But she has a really good head on her shoulders; she's a smart girl with a lot of common sense.  I really don't worry about her - I know she'll be fine.  I'll just miss her...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hey

Have you ever gone to the video store and just stood there waiting for a movie to jump out at you?  It happens to me quite frequently; I know I want to watch something, but nothing looks particularly good.  "Just pick something!" you say, but for some reason, its just not that easy.  Here are some movies I've seen that I really enjoyed, and may be rather obscure.  Maybe not.  Anyway....   take these as suggestions...and if you end up really hating the movie, you can blame me.

Love Potion # 9 -
This is a really old movie (1992), one of Sandra Bullocks first I do believe.  It also stars Donovan Somebodyorother.  They're both scientists and they get ahold of a love potion and hilarity ensues.  Wait, his name is Tate Donovan.  Anway, there's a really funny part involving a hooker, the love potion, and the scientist.  (Those are words I don't think I've ever strung together in a sentence before.)  If you can find this at the video store, you should rent it.  Its a good light movie that doesn't involve a lot of thinking. 

Waitress
Another good, rather thought-free movie.  It was made in 2007 and was written by a woman named Adrienne Shelly.  She was later murdered in her New York apartment by a neighbor.  Wow, that was uplifting and makes you want to run right out and see that movie, right?
Anyway, its a good movie about friendship and marriage and kids and all that stuff.


The Majestic

One of my co-workers cannot watch Jim Carey in any movie.  She can't stand his facial expressions.  He doesn't bother me at all, and I really liked him in this movie, one of his few serious roles.  In this movie, his character loses his memory and ends up in a small town, where he looks just like the son of one of the townspeople.  I thought this movie was really touching, but required more thought than some of the other movies I've suggested here.  Still a good rental.

Frequency


This movie was made in 2000 and stars Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid.  That much information alone should get you to watch it.  Two handsome men... in the same movie....sigh.  Now where was I?  Oh yes, this is a time travel/thriller kind of movie which kind of asks the question, "if you could go back and change the past, would you?"   This one you HAVE to pay attention to because if you miss a bit of it, you get lost.  But again, the handsome men thing makes that very easy.  : )

Well, that's enough to get you started at the video store.  And if you have suggestions for movies that I should watch, just let me know. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Confessional

Its been a long time since I felt the need to confess anything.  But since its Sunday, and I find myself with some free time (actually, I should be cleaning but this is procrastination at its finest)  I'll confess away...

I dislike old people feet.  Strongly dislike.  I know, someday I'll HAVE old people feet but I will feel sorry for anyone who has to touch them.  As a nurse, I've dealt with a lot of feet, but I just get the heebie jeebies from nasty old people feet.  In fact, feet don't thrill me in any form; young, old, whatever.  I could get into descriptive words here and talk about just why I don't like feet, especially old people feet, but I think that's highly unnecessary.  It'll just creep us both out. 

 Let the season begin!
I started my canning season yesterday. Well...technically I started it in June with the strawberry jam I made, but now I'm hauling out the big guns... the pressure canner.  Yesterday I picked 5 1/2 lbs of green beans out of my garden and decided to do something with them.  I found a recipe for dilled green beans and I just happened to have the dill in my backyard so I whipped up a batch.  Because there was vinegar in the recipe, I didn't need to use a pressure canner, and a hot water bath was sufficient.  Today, however, I'll be canning plain ol' beans so I have to fill the giant monster canner and get to work. 

Last year a friend gave us a huge bag of pears from their yard.  There weren't perfect because they weren't sprayed and they were all a funny shape, but they sure made good canned pears.  Some things just aren't worth the effort or time to can... like corn.  You can buy it at the store for less than 50 cents a can, but cut that stuff off of a cob and freeze it, and nothing tastes better in the winter! 

If you've never canned anything before, you should give it a try.  You'll amaze yourself!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ode to Lake Michigan

OK so its not really an ode... I'm not motivated to write poetry today.  But I just returned from a swim in Lake Michigan and I must say, those of us who live along the lakeshore really take it for granted.  Beautiful white sand beaches, warm fresh water lake, the list could go on.  And its right up the road! 

I grew up in a house where we went to Lake Michigan a LOT!  We used to camp a great deal and the campground was located right over a dune.  It seems like I was at the beach more than not.  And then, when I was 9, we put in a pool, and beach time abruptly stopped.  Mind you, I loved that pool too!  I spent every sunny day either in it or laying out along side of it.  That pool figures prominently in many of my best memories.  We swam in that pool until about 5 years ago when my mom sold the house.  (That's another story.) 

Thus began our trips back to the beach.  Yes, its sandy, and its a little inconvenient to pack up everything you think you might need while at the beach:  beverages in a cooler, a book, an ipod, towels, chairs, water toys, etc.  But to have such beauty at our back door really is quite a blessing! 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More Green things

Another trip to the garden...

compare these two photos:

This is the same watermelon, one week apart.  Amazing!  ( I suppose its not really amazing, as everyone's watermelons do the same thing but still...)
Now to have enough patience to let it fully ripen.  One year, I was in such a huge hurry to pick a watermelon that it wasn't ripe and tasted terrible. 

A few of the cabbage plants are doing quite well:

While others are NOT doing so well.  I'm sure its a different type of cabbage, but apparently its very tasty to cabbage loopers and other bugs. Take a look:

Can you see all those holes?  And there isn't a cabbage head in there at all.  I'm just viewing this as free food for the bugs. 

And then there is this plant,  which I think is a cantaloupe, but there is no fruit on it.  Not even little tiny ones with blooms attached.  All just male flowers.  But the plant itself is going crazy!


Its been a really good year to have a garden, weather-wise.  Last year the weather was very cold and rainy but this summer has been ideal!  Very hot and sunny! 

Here's what I brought home from the garden today:

Yes, that's a handful of beans but next week, there'll be more than I can deal with.  Better get the canner ready!




Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saturday

I find myself with an unexpected, but very welcomed, day off today.  My employer let me know, as I was in the shower, that they were overscheduled and didn't need my services.  Darn it!  I could have really used more sleep.  But, since I was already showered, I headed to the farmer's market and bought some blueberries (which seem very early to me) and lettuce.  Two things I don't grow myself.  Blueberry crisp is cooling on the stovetop and I'm on the computer.  Ahhhh.   I also bought some perennials - cheap! - and will be planting those later today. 

My oldest daughter leaves for college in a little more than a month.  We need to begin shopping for dorm stuff... on sale of course.  I started making her a rug about a week ago and I'm trying to make it in her school's colors but its not quite there.  Oh well.  It'll do. 
The colors are supposed to be maroon and gold.  I guess if you squint just right, it could pass for maroon and gold.   Right?  Right? 



Here's a close up of the weave.  Some of these fabrics used to be my bed sheets.  Very green of me wouldn't you say?

Happy

One thing that makes me happy is checking out my garden and seeing what's growing.  I stopped up at my Big Garden yesterday and harvested lots of basil.
I made gobs of pesto:  pesto with pine nuts, pesto with walnuts, pesto with lemon basil, pesto with regular basil - (you should be saying this like Bubba from Forest Gump when talking about shrimp). 

But what made me REALLY happy was this:
Watermelon!  I actually took this picture about 5 days ago and yesterday, when I checked on them, they had doubled in size.  I literally cheered right there in the community garden.  Thankfully, no one else was there to give me odd looks.  Hopefully, they'll survive to "adulthood" so we can enjoy them.  Nothing is better than homegrown fruits and veggies!

And finally, my daughter posted this link on my facebook.  She thought I would like it and I think you will too.  Read the whole thing, its a little long but so funny!