Sunday, January 31, 2010

Random Thoughts

What a quick week!  I can't believe its over already!  I need to learn to make time to exercise if I'm going to be this busy because I absolutely need to exercise!  I'm developing rolls where there never used to be rolls.  Eww. 

I've been playing in the West Michigan Concert Winds for the past month now and I'm really enjoying it.  My lip is slowly regaining its stamina.  Because I"m constantly licking my lips during practice, they get chapped very quickly.  I've found a product that I really like and thought I'd share. 
This works in a few hours.  It even feels wet when you put it on. 

Another thing I like:  my crockpot.  What a time saver!  Its so nice to come home and have dinner mostly made.  My favorite thing to do is to throw a few boneless chicken breasts in (frozen) with a can of cream of mushroom soup.  That's all.  Its so easy and all I have to do when I get home is heat up a vegetable and maybe throw together a salad.  And then I can open one of my many jars of homemade applesauce and dinner's done. 


What really makes me happy today is this, which was suggested by my niece Nancy.  Its hysterical!  I was laughing so hard at the ridiculousness of these cakes that I was in tears.  But those are good tears!  Take a look and see if you agree. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sunday Confessional

So its not technically Sunday anymore; I'm still up so I'm counting it as a Sunday.  What am I confessing now?  And does anyone really care?  Probably not but here goes:  I'm messy.   I'm not dirty, I'm just messy.  Its a constant battle to retain any semblance of organization in my house.  I try.  Really, I do.  I can clean my house so its spotless if I'm having a party.  But on any other day, I just don't care enough to spend that much time putting things in their place.  Besides, those things I've put away find their way out of place in no time and I have no idea how they got there.  I found a website once, called Flylady.  She has good ideas and I'm sure if I followed her plan, my house would be fairly clean, but like all other ideas that need consistency, I'm bad about following any plan. 

I once spent a semester doing student teaching in a room that was horrendously messy.  I'm talking MESSY!!  It was so bad that it made me physically uncomfortable to be in.  I've decided that this teacher was a hoarder to some extent.  (Have you ever seen that show on A&E?  Its disturbing.  Like a car accident that you don't want to look at but can't look away.) By the end of the semester, I'd developed a twitchy eye that sometimes still bothers me.   Anyway, I'm not that bad... 

There are a few things that are making me happy today: 

1st:  My sister-in-law Linda, who had been diagnosed a year ago with multiple myeloma got a clean bill of health from her oncologist!  This past year was a horrible year for her;  she had just about every complication a person could have, and had a stem cell transplant in late fall. I am soooooo happy for this news as Linda is one of the best people I know.  She is a testament to answered prayer for sure!

2nd:  I found a blog that makes me laugh on a daily basis;  Sleep Talkin' Man. This man was on the Today show last week but I found their blog about a month ago.  His wife records his nightly sleep talking and puts it on the blog for all to read. He says the funniest (and sometimes filthiest) stuff! 

3rd:  We got a new truck today.  Well, its actually 17 years old.  Its a red Ford F-150 with a snow plow attachment that my daughter has named Cleetus.  I love how my kids have to name everything.  DD #1's car is named Owen (which is appropriate because she be 'owen' us money for the car).  My car is named Shaniqua.  She's a cute little red, sassy Grand Prix.  The kids even named the dog's new chew toys -  the pink fuzzy bone is Lucy, the blue fuzzy bone is Steve, and the weird green animal is Jimmy.  I will draw the line at naming the furniture.  That's just completely unnecessary. 

I hope you find something that makes you happy today too!  Life's too short to be unhappy. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bread and Progress

Last night I made bread...again.  I've been making at least 3 loaves a week for the past month.  Its actually very simple to make bread, and its very cheap although maybe not as cheap as buying it at the bread store.  But it sure is delicious, especially warm from the oven, and slathered in butter.  I'm trying to be more adventurous in what I add to the bread to change it up just a little.  Last night I used warm beer instead of water which resulted in a very fluffy and delicious bread.  Later this week, I'm going to post my recipe and some pictures.  If I can make bread, anyone can.  Trust me on this!!!

Guess its time to review my progress. 

Goal #1:  I have been doing NO running for a while.  I don't know if I mentioned this but I have suffered from plantar fasciitis in the past and after a busy day at work, I can really tell.  When getting up in the morning, it sometimes feels like there are knives shooting up into the bottoms of my feet.  I'm just so afraid that running will make it return that I'm hesitant to run at all.  I do plan on buying a new, decent pair of running shoes, and I'm going to get some new inserts for them.  I'd also like to buy a pair of Dansko shoes for work - I hear good things about them from other plantar fasciitis sufferers.  They're just sooooo expensive!  (maybe if I consider it an investment in my health I'll feel better about it)

Goal #2:  I've been using the Quicken program for just about 2 weeks now and it is really enlightening.  It takes a little time to set up and I noticed that unless I reconcile some entries, the account balances aren't correct.  But once that's taken care of, it gives me a nice pie chart that shows where most of my monthly payments are going.  And while I knew where most it was going, its quite a shock to see it in pie chart form (in full color!).  According to Quicken, most of my monthy expenditures are towards credit card payments.  But because I made a huge payment to the first bill on my list, this only makes sense.  And until its paid off, I imagine this will be the way it is.  I just have to keep telling myself that its allright.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I lost a friend Friday.  And although he wasn't a particularly close friend, I still feel quite sad.  Rick was a former co-worker of mine and was a good nurse, a hard worker, and just genuinely a nice guy.  I didn't know much about his personal life except that he loved his kids.  That much was evident in every conversation I ever had with him.  He would talk about their school activities, or how he had built them a play center in the backyard of his home, or just about their day-to-day lives.  What I didn't know about Rick was that he was a single dad.  Or that he worked 2 jobs.  I never heard him raise his voice in anger, or say a bad word about anybody.  Really, just a nice guy. 

I understand that he fell down the steps in his home while carrying in groceries.  His son called 911.  He was taken to a local hospital where another friend of mine just happened to be working that day.  How tragic to see a friend come in to the emergency room and know that there is nothing that can be done to save him.  I feel bad that Lori had to be in that position, but I also am glad to know that Rick was taken care of by someone that truly cared about him.  And its a comfort to me, and I hope to his family, that Lori was there. 

Out of this tragedy though, comes a blessing for 11 families;  Rick's family decided, in their grief, that someone should benefit from his death and donated his organs to The Gift of Life program.   That just gives me goose bumps. How unselfish and admirable is that?  And that would be just like Rick; to offer help where it is needed in whatever way he could. 

In the news article that I linked, it states that his neighbors agree that this tragedy should be a reminder to slow down and take the time to appreciate your loved ones.  If you're reading this, please remember to do that.  Rick would want it that way. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

And then the Schwann's Man came to the door

Gosh darn you, Schwann's man!  You and your sinful ice cream and other frozen convenience foods.  You know I can't say no, don't you?  That chocolate peanut butter bliss ice cream you forced  let me buy did my butt absolutely no good.  And we won't even talk about what you did to my budget.  Why won't you leave me alone?  Go pick on my neighbors...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Well, I start out with the best of intentions.  I really do.  This whole eat from the pantry challenge sounded good in theory, and its something I could do if it were just me in this house, but my kids are demanding that there be something to eat when they look in the fridge.  Can you believe it?  My son has a hollow leg these days and is eating everything in sight.  DD#1 has started college again and is bringing her lunch in an effort to save money. (Yay!) And you can't make something outta nothing so ultimately, what I'm trying to say is...I went grocery shopping.  Not only did I go shopping, but I overspent on my budget by about $50.  Maybe that category needs to be looked at again. Anyway, sometimes I think that by setting goals, you're just setting yourself up for failure which leads to guilt.  I don't need any more guilt in my life, thank you very much. 

On another note, I have the Quicken up and running.  That program is very cool!  Its also very enlightening and also guilt producing.  But its helping me see where the bulk of my money is going. It will even pay bills for you if you want it to.  I'm letting it pay my electric bill as a test to see how it runs. That's one of the few I haven't automated so we'll see how it goes. 

Today I'll be hanging out with 25 or so 2nd graders as a guest teacher, (which is just a fancy term for substitute teacher).  What I'm bummed about though is that I could've worked at the hospital today for 5 times what I'll make as a guest teacher today.  Darn it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Confessional

 I have always wanted to be in a musical.  I'm in my glory when The Sound of Music is on television, or when I'm watching Oklahoma for the 50 gazillionth time.  The Wicked soundtrack is on my ipod and when I'm alone in my car, I sing along as if my life depended on it.  And Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, well, its just amazingly dreamy. (As is Donny Osmond in his younger days, but thats another confessional...) *as previously mentioned, although technically a musical, The Wizard of Oz does not count here.*

Once, when I was pregnant, our local community theatre put on Oklahoma and I so deperately wanted to try out.  However, there is no room for a pregnant woman in a musical about wholesome American teenagers. I thought I'd be perfect as Ado Annie.  You know... "I'm Just a Girl Who Cain't Say No.  I'm in a turrible fix! I always say c'mon let's go..just when I oughta say Nix."  My condition obviously fit that song at the time. And of course, my name is Anne.  Oh well...

Anyone who knows me, and I mean really knows me, knows that I sing all the time so this is probably not a surprise.  I sing to the dog, to my kids, to the neighbor kids (who I'm sure are convinced I'm crazy) to my patients at work, to anything actually.  I'll hear a word or a phrase that triggers something and I just burst into song.  Ok, maybe that is a little crazy.  But its a pleasant kind of crazy. The only time anyone stops me is when I veer off into my opera voice. 

Maybe someday there'll be a place for me in a local production of oh, I don't know... Cats or something and I can try out for a part.  Just my luck, I'll try out and get a part that requires I strap on a fake pregnancy belly. 

Goal #1.  Let's not go there. 
Goal #2.  Tomorrow I'll be making a payment toward one of my big bills of about 40% of the balance. I had a really nice check after working a holiday, a Sunday and 3 extra days, in addition to my already scheduled days so I'm throwing that money at one of my bills.   If I can continue to pick up some extra days, I'll have that balance paid off fairly quickly.

Which brings me to another somewhat related goal.  My bathroom is 32 years old and it definitely needs an extreme makeover.  Not only does it look hideous (which I can live with) but its functionality is in question.  Sinks leak, the bathtub has a hole in it and the floor is starting to be an issue.  So I'm scouting out good deals on bathroom components so I can get this taken care of.  I don't need anything fancy, just functional.  One thing I insist on though; the old, wrought iron chain swag light MUST go! 

Friday, January 8, 2010

Live and Learn

So much for the pantry challenge.  Yesterday, after posting my lofty goals for using up my pantry stash, I ran to Sam's club for some yeast. Apparently, Sam's is the only place that carries a certain type of yeast.  And since I'm obsessed with  enjoying making bread these days, it was a very important purchase.  After all, if you're going to take the time to make bread by hand, you really should make sure its going to turn out.  So after walking into Sam's, not having had lunch, you can guess what happened. ( Yes, my mom always taught me "never shop on an empty stomach".  But I did it anyway.) So I wandered over to the frozen food aisle where they usually have demonstrations and samples to taste.  Nothing.  I did stumble upon a ham sample, and a smidgen small cup of soup to taste, but nothing to really satisfy my hunger. Anyway, I walked out of there $97 lighter.  Hey, I didn't spend $100, which is always the joke.  I always say the same thing to the cashier, much to my children's dismay.  "I came in for one thing and I ended up spending $100."  Well.  Anyway, I have a 25 lb bag of flour so I'm good for a few hundred loaves.  That should last me a few days at the rate I'm going...

I cleaned out my beloved pantry closet today.  That closet is the reason I bought my house.  I discovered that I have more spices than the grocery store and I don't even know what the heck to do with all of them!  But it makes me happy to have a clean closet.  Some days, you have to look really hard to find something to make you happy but there is always something.  My goodness, I sound like Pollyanna don't I?  And I just dated myself....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Its a Beautiful Day

Today is one of those days that I just love.  I have no concrete plans and I can do whatever I want.  Oh, there are plenty of things I should do, but I don't have to if I don't want to.  That's the beauty of being an adult.  So I'm just sitting here at my computer, looking at my still-decorated tree (which may or may not come down today) with the snow outside my window, and a cup of hot coffee to sip on.  In this moment, life is pretty good. 

Last night I made some homemade bread.  After taking a bread class last week, and going to my friend Warren's house over the weekend, I was just inspired.  Warren made 8 or 9 different kinds of bread in the span of 6 hours and it was just amazing!  Variations on flour, yeast and water are limitless! So last night before dinner, I whipped up a sponge (flour, sugar, yeast and water) and let it do its thing.  And something about kneading the dough is very therapeutic.  But the best part was the still-warm-from-the-oven bread.  Words just can't describe how good it is.  I must say I haven't been this proud of myself in quite some time.  I can see this will be bad for the diet...

Tonight, I'm going to do something I haven't done in over 25 years:  play in a band.  I'm joining the West Michigan Concert Winds so that I can play in the same band as DD#1.  This will be the only time in our lives that this will happen (that I can foresee, anyway) and its only going to last for 1 semester.  But its something I want to do and I'm all about doing something for me, for a change.  And surprisingly, I can still get sound out of my trumpet!  I can't play longer than 5 minutes at this point, but that should come back.  It will be fun. There's something almost magical about playing music with other people who like to play music. Hard to explain... 

Goal #1  I'm running this afternoon (or sooner, if I'm so inspired).  So far this week, my goals are on track.  And I feel so much better when I exercise.

Goal #2  Payday is today.  Hallelujah!  I haven't been very diligent about getting the Quicken up and running though.  I have it installed, but I still have to fill in the necessary sections in order to actually use it.  So that's also a goal for today.  And then I need to work on a budget.  I'd rather go to the dentist!

As part of my money-saving efforts, I've committed to the Eat From the Pantry Challenge, hosted by  The only thing I'll be buying at the store this week are milk and produce.  (Oh, and anything I REALLY need.) I'm not a nut about this, just trying to use up my stash. 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday, Monday

It's been one of those days.  When the phone rings and its your employer asking where you are, it kind of starts the day in a panic.  Oh, its not entirely my fault.  In fact, its not my fault at all.  And then at one point, my cell phone fell in the toilet.  And let me tell you, its not fun to retrieve ANYTHING out of a toilet.  Then, I received a call from DD#2 telling me that my son had run away from home because they were fighting.  The day was not a total loss, however, and I'm still laughing about my phone.  Thank goodness it works!

How am I doing?
Fine thanks.
But seriously...
Goal #1 I ran for 17, count 'em, 17 minutes.  (I believe my goal was 15.  If it was 20, I'm in trouble.)  And I also walked for a total time on the treadmill (which would best be abbreviated TTOTT hahahaha) of 25 minutes.  I didn't feel anything move, kidney stone-wise, so that's a good thing!  And let me just point out that those 17 minutes were consecutive.  Mmm hmm. 

Goal #2.  I spent 75 cents at lunch today and $33 on dog grooming (thanks to my mom for being a doggie driver).  What on earth could cost 75 cents?  Cottage cheese.  Oh yes, the good stuff.  But get this:  if I buy it from the salad bar, it costs $2.55! In a cup, its just 75 little cents.  I feel like I've found a gold mine, so to speak, and I'm a little worried that the cafeteria will be on to my devious plan and force everyone to buy from the salad bar.  Heck, then I'll just bring it myself.  Anyway, I figure I saved some money to add to my payin'-off-the-bills fund.  Yay me.  So things are on track...

Well, considering today, what's making me happy right now is a large glass of wine.  God bless the guy who invented it!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday Confessional

I'm about to admit something that may get me excommunicated from the United States:  I really dislike the movie The Wizard of Oz.  My sister loves the movie and I've tried to like it, really I have.  But those flying monkeys creep me out.  And the whole thing with Dorothy being away from home just makes me really uncomfortable.  There.  I said it.  I'll move on now. 

I'm really proud of all 3 of my children, but today, I'm especially proud of the two oldest.  DD#1 flew on a plane all alone yesterday to see her best friend  and ride home with her from Disney World.  The friend has been working there for the past 6 months as an intern for college credit and she's done now.  She didn't want to drive to Michigan alone so my daughter flew down in order to ride home with her.  I'm impressed that she didn't get lost in the airport, and that she survived without her Mom.  Sniff.  I guess she doesn't need me anymore.  Sniff. 

DD#2 is going on a mission trip with our church this summer to Kijabe, Kenya to work in an orphanage.  The group of about 10 high school/college students will be building something there, and will be working with orphans.  (I missed out on most of the meeting this morning because one of the students decided to faint so my nursing skills were put to use. I really don't know what they're building...)  I'm excited for this group of very diverse students and for what they're going to experience.  We have to go tomorrow to get her a passport. (And those dreaded shots!)

I can also say I'm proud of my son too.  He snowboarded for 7 hours yesterday and is still in one piece.  That's saying something!

Goal #1:  I've done nothing as far as working out is concerned but its scheduled for tomorrow evening.  I've been dealing with kidney stones this weekend so I'm hoping I'll still be able to run.  Heck, maybe it'll speed up the progress of those little devils.  

Goal #2:  I've installed the Quicken program and will begin to use it tomorrow.  Why not today?  Because.  That's why. 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Culver Christmas Tradition

As I'm putting the Christmas decorations away today, its like taking a trip down memory lane.  Every piece I pick up tells a story or reminds me of other happy times.  So while this job of putting the decorations away is one of my least favorite things to do, I'm trying to make it a little more pleasurable by being mindful of items I'm handling.  Which leads me to think about my favorite holiday tradition:  Christmas Eve Bingo.

We have played Bingo on Christmas Eve for the past 30 years.  It started out as a way to keep the younger kids occupied until we were ready to open a few gifts and it has morphed into the most anticipated event of the whole Christmas gathering.  The best part about Bingo, is the prizes.  Throughout the year we all scout out and gather up potential bingo prizes; the weirder, the better.  In fact, the ladies in the family take a trip to Shipshewana, Indiana every summer to their flea market with big plans to find prizes.  We even make a game out of it.  Whoever can find the weirdest, ugliest, or most bizarre item for $2 or less wins.  This year, I bought a pair of ginormous purple panties.

 Can you see the red hat up in the corner?

There are also some really nice gifts mixed in with the pile of prizes but you never know what you're going to get because they're all wrapped.  This year, we had about 40 prizes in the center of the table.  Stealing someone else's prize is allowed, but only before they're unwrapped.  This year, I won this:

                     If I'd have known that this was possible, I would have saved myself a lot of problems!!!

  My nephew opened these fabulous prizes.  You can tell by the look on his face that he is just thrilled!

While sitting in my Mom's house, my eyes wandered over to her fireplace where she has a lovely scene set out.  But upon closer inspection, something seemed out of place.  It reminded me of an old Sesame Street song:  One of These Things is Not Like the Other...  See if you can figure out what I'm talking about.  

To me, there's something a little out of place with the snowman angel standing in the back.  Anyway, it made me laugh! 

So today, while I'm not doing anything toward achieving my publicly announced goals, I am doing things that make me happy.  I'm sitting here at my computer, watching the snow fall beautifully outside with a cup of hot coffee by my side, and I have plans later to meet some friends for dinner.  That sounds like a pretty good day!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ya Gotta have a Goal!

Happy New Year!

When I was a teacher, we had to make billions  (ok, not billions, but a lot) of lesson plans and we had to list the objective of each lesson.  One thing I learned by doing that, is that objectives need to be measurable.  Its not enough to give a general goal, say for example, "the students will enjoy the lesson" because that can't be measured.  So it goes for my goals.  I need measurable results. 

For my first goal, I'm going to say that in the next week, I'll run twice.  I have a treadmill in the basement so I can walk no matter what the weather is like.  From experience, I know that to train for a 5k, when beginning from scratch so to speak, is to walk 4 minutes and run 1 and repeat for a total of 30 minutes.  Last week, I climbed on my treadmill and was surprised to find out that I could run for 20 minutes without dying.  In fact, I probably could have kept going but I was bored and kept thinking about all the stuff I should have been doing (like laundry, snowblowing, Christmas shopping, that sort of thing) so I'm going to say I'll run for 20 minutes twice next week.  I don't want to over do it right away because that's how I usually roll.  Then I get burned out and quit.  In fact, I'm going to go to my handy dandy organizer -otherwise known as a calendar- and schedule it into my week right now.  (well, as soon as I'm done here)

For the next goal:  I asked for, and received the Quicken program for Christmas so I'm going to install that on my computer so I can start using it right away.  I also have to develop a budget.  Ooh, I just shuddered when I typed that.  I have never lived on a budget which is probably exactly why I need one.  In order to do that, I need to figure out where my money goes and I'm hoping the Quicken program can help there.  I'm lucky enough to be employed in a job that allows invites me to work a lot of overtime.  I've been taking advantage of that fact in order to be able to make a rather large payment on one of my bills.  Payday is next week.  (yay!) 

Here's what makes me happy today:
One of my favorite movies is Serendipity.  I heard this song yesterday on my ipod and it made me smile; its from the Serendipity soundtrack.   I hope it fits the new year for me, and for you if you happen to be reading this.  Its by Chantal Kreviazuk if you'd like to find it and listen to it:

This year, is gonna be incredible

This year, is gonna be the one

All the planets are lining up for me

This year, I'm gonna have fun

This year, I'll paint my masterpiece

This year, I'll be recognized

I can feel like I'll fall in love for real

This year, this year

January, I'll learn to fly

February, love's gonna find me

March, April, May, I'll get carried away

Oh, oh...

This year, I'll reach the pinnacle

This year, I'll get to the top

People will ask where she get that energy

This year, I'm never gonna stop

January, I'll learn to fly

February, love's gonna find me

March, April, May, I'll get carried away

Oh, oh, oh, oh...

This year, is gonna be incredible

This year, is gonna be the one

All the planets are lining up for me

This year, I'm gonna have fun

I'm gonna have fun

Just watch me now

This year

This year

This year