September 27, 2007

I'll have another...

shot that is! Oh yes, indeed. Today while at the doctor (yet again - nother story - nother post) I was offered a Flu Shot, followed by a very emphatic "everyone should have a Flu Shot!" by my doctor. Well guessy whaty? I'll be crapped if I didn't freaking get the Flu starting now. I'm dizzy, I'm freaking dragging rear. I'm so dang tired I can't stand it. I feel achy. Crap!

Not only did I brave yet another needle, and take it all grown-up like, but now I get a mini version of the Flu to go with it. Did I mention how busy and stressful this week has been? And it's not over none neither! (insert Ma Kettle voice there) I'm in the middle of a business conference for my work - of which we're all staying at a hotel, and meetings all day, dinners at night, etc. This goes through Saturday. So add on top of that that I'm leading worship at church this Sunday, and had to rush to a three hour practice tonight from the meeting. I'm performing in a reprise of the kids play "Acorns to Oaks" tomorrow night (as I rush from another meeting to that tomorrow) and then back to the hotel and start all over Saturday. Meanwhile, I still have work deadlines, etc. to meet. Add on to that the health - not feeling so great, etc. It's like a jumbo cocktail for LAME.

So tonight I played hookie - since the hotel is local. In my purse sit the keys to my hotel room and in my bedroom at home sits my rear-end typing this up at 10pm. I just couldn't go all the way back to the hotel after rehearsal tonight when I was ten minutes from home. I was so darn tired and dragging - so I called AB and said "heck with the hotel...I'm coming home to my own bed!"

So here I sit all cuddled up with my comforter and my pillows, listening to my dogs snore. Which is where I love to be the most, especially when I'm feeling sickly. I don't know how I'm gonna get through the rest of this weekend. Gulp. Stick a fork in me cuz I'm done!

Stupid shots...

I hate shots...

No more freaking shots...

At least not this week...

September 24, 2007

Harvest Moon and More...

First of all, I'm gonna need this house. Yes, indeedy. I'll just take it and put a few plump pumpkins in front of that door, and perhaps a few layers of Autumn garland around that door frame...yes, I'm thinking that will certainly warm up my new entry way.

If you're thinking for a moment that this is my house, I've mislead you.'s just a picture of a beautiful inviting home surrounded by the colors and symbols of Fall. And as we've already covered, I love Fall best of all!

No matter, I can at least impart some of my borrowed juicy advice of ways you too can create a sensationally warm and inviting abode during this most pleasant time of year.

For starters, let's warm you up with this simple but exquisite recipe for Autumn Spiced Cider!

1/2 gallon apple cider
2 cups orange juice
3-3" cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves
zest of 1 orange
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1.4 tsp. ground allspice

Bring all the ingredients to a boil, boil for 15 minutes. Strain through fine mesh into a thermos or back into the pan. Serve hot!

Meanwhile, back to some good old fashioned "Sweater Weather" ideas...(on loan from my Fall Goddess, Susan Branch)
  • Keep an old sweater on a hook near the door ~ run outside to see the birds, the moon, lie under a tree as leaves fall with your kids or special someone.

  • Visit a corn-maze or plan a hayride & end the day with a bonfire & roasted marshmallows. No place for a bonfire? Get a fire going in that fireplace and have a ball!

  • Choose the PERFECT PUMPKIN at a farm stand or pumpkin farm ~ then have a taffy pull outdoors.
  • Leaf peep in your own neighborhood or plan a special trip to the famously gorgeous New England & watch the leaves change color around old churches and graveyards. On the back roads of this amazing state, you will find roadside stands, American flags, covered bridges, and restaurants in old houses.

How about a picnic this Sunday? Or next? Take an old basket and fill it with these yummy delights...

Autumn Picnic Menu

Roast Beef and Cucumber Cream Cheese Sandwiches

Potato Salad

Warm Bean Salad

Pork Ribs (yum!)

Deviled Eggs

Corn Bread

Ice Cream

Apple or Peach Pie

Arnold Palmers

(To Make "Arnold Palmers" mix together 2 parts iced tea with 1 part lemonade)

By the way - Wednesday is Harvest Moon! Don't forget to celebrate by hauling a cozy blanket out to the backyard or local park to celebrate our glorious moon and stars. (Not to mention celebrating the ones you love to cuddle with!)

Happy Fall ~

September 23, 2007

Fall Into Reading 2007

It's been quite 'round here, and that's mostly because I've been forcing myself to catch up on some chores, and some work. You know what I'm talking about? The kind of chores and projects that we stare at and walk past every single day, but always end up saying "I've gotta get to that!". So since AB had a trip out of town this weekend, I've been using the time wisely to catch up on those "gotta get to its" and it's been a such a good feeling.

Meanwhile, since it's my favorite time of year, I also LOVE the Fall Into Reading Challenge over at Callapidder Days! This seems to really motivate me to get through my piles and piles of books. I've shown you the pictures recently of all the books we have, and I just love the motivation this gives me to set a goal for myself and see it through. It helps that there are weekly prizes! Go and visit Katrina and "Fall" into the fun! If you love to read, then not only can you post your own list for others to get ideas from, but you go looking at other lists and find some really good books! So here goes the big un' for my Fall Into Reading Challenge '07: Drum Roll Please....................................................(dots represent said drums)

Non Fiction

Marley & Me: life and love with the world's worst dog. By Josh Grogan. Such an excellent book for those who love animals, specifcally dogs. It has warmed my heart and made me laugh out loud. Now I just need to finish it!

The Power of a Praying Wife: By Stormie Omartian. Just an encouraging book that gives us a refreshing look at the power of prayer in our marriage.

A Gentle Thunder: By Max Lucado. The Amazing lengths God will go to get our attention. Something I think I really need to grasp in my heart.

Each for the Other: By Bryan Chapell. One of the wisest things I've been taught in my marriage is that you must live for the other person and not yourself. If you're both doing this, your marriage is so much happier and healthier. Since following Christ is about letting go of ourselves and serving others, it makes perfect sense that in our marriages we would mirror that. Really looking forward to this one.


The Next Big Thing: By Johanna Edwards. The story of a "big girl" who goes on a reality show to lose weight so she can meet the man of her dreams and have the perfect life. Or so she thinks...

Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: By Linda Berdoll. Since Pride and Prejudice is one of my hands down favorite movies (and no, not the one with Collin Firth, but the new one) when I saw this book, I knew I had to have it. Now finding the time to read it is another issue. It's the love story of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy after the wedding. Mmm, mmm, good!

The Birth of Venus: By Sarah Dunant. This just looks interesting. It's the story of a 15 year old girl in Europe 1528 and her love of learning, and dazzling art and painting. But her parents wed her off to a much older man who is wealthy, and she struggles to find out who she is and how she can return to her much loved passions without being punished.

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows: By J.K. Rowling. I've read them all - I'm actually re-reading #6 right now so that I can remember what happened before I plunge into this one head first. The beauty with the Harry Potter series is that once you read them, you not only find out that they are wonderful, but that they are well written, imaginative, amazing literary genius that take you into a world of literary candy and creativity. They are pure imagination from beginning to end.

Homeland: By John Jakes. This one caught my eye from the half price books shelf. I loved the "North and South" series - well, the television version. Anything with Patrick Swayze, right? This is the first in a series that brings to life the saga of the American immigrant experience of a family at the turn of the century. Total early 1900's and all the drama of the war, love, etc. I love a book with a tells me the author just couldn't bear to part with the story any more than we probably will.

The Historian: By Elizabeth Kostova. Story of a young woman plunged into a labyrinth where the secrets of her family's past connect to an inconceivable fifteenth century reign of Vlad the Impaler. Her journey to uncover the truth takes her all over Eastern Europe. Sounds good to me...

Snow Flower & the Secret Fan: By Lisa See. I keep meaning to read this, and keep not getting to it. Nineteenth century China - in a remote Hunan county, two girls are paired in an emotional match that lasts a lifelong. This is the story of Lily and Snow Flower - and how they reach out to each other in their isolation as they age, marry, endure foot binding, share loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood.

Ok, there's the list and there's the challenge - if you're a reader, stop over here and join in the fun. There's no "time-limit" per-say. It's just a way to coerce yourself into finally getting to all those juicy literary finds you have piling up around the house. And if you don't have any...well, I can recommend a great half price store where you can stock up. Time to light a fire, curl up on the couch with a light blanket and a cup of coffee and grab one of those books - it's time to Fall Into Reading!

September 18, 2007

Tidbits of Titillating Topics

Right. So, today the phone rang and I saw it was the adoption agency for our Ethiopian adventure. I panicked first and answered second. Thoughts running through my head were:
1. Something is wrong with the paperwork
2. They're shutting/slowing down the process
3. We're all of a sudden disqualified.
4. Something is wrong with the paperwork.
5. We're all of a sudden disqualified.

Are you sensing a theme here? Our China process has been seamless. Seamlessly bad! There haven't been any road bumps, as one might think, or any major upheavals - but that's just it. There hasn't been anything! No word, just an ever-increasing wait time. So when you hear from your new (2nd) agency, mid-process - and you've come to associate actually adopting with, say, retirement, you start to imagine what our life has been like for the last two years. I said hello, and she said "just checking in and making sure you're ok, and that you don't need anything". Eh? Are you sure you have the right number? I mean, thank you. I mean...that is to say...errr...we're good. Still paperchasing. Just waiting on Government docs, as per usual (snort giggle). At this point, I'm so giddy to have non-negative communication I pretty much blacked out. So that was that...just checking on us. then she even said "well, I'll call you next month and see how your doing!" I know! I feel like I slipped into the Adoption Zone - someone actually cares how we are?!?!

So the BURNING HOT QUESTIONS from the last post are:

1. Do you like AB bald? Yes and no. On the one hand, it's nice to go out and have people think I've brought along my bodyguard. On the other hand, I spent the first two days following "the shave" just walking up to him and saying "you're very bald". It's been an adjustment, but he definitely has his moments of being dead sexy with that bald head o' his. It's just hair - it will grow back.

2. Will he grow it back? How soon? Yes, he will. And as far as how soon - he estimated it would be a couple weeks totally bald and then he'd leave it alone. Let's keep in mind that shaving the head every day for AB is right up there with shaving the legs everyday for us ladies. He's not into the chore of it. And quite frankly, he's cut himself so badly that he's got band aids on his head. It's kind of, (dare I say it?) hilarious to see all these band aids all over and you just feel bad for him, but you're hiding the giggles.

I have to go on Friday for my Hep B series shot. I just physically gulped when I typed that. That in turn made me laugh, because I'm such a wimpy wimp.

I can't wait until these shots are over with! I still have FIVE to go...

nother' gulp...

Speaking of haircuts - it was time for me to do my annual "hack it off" and so I took my little self right up to the SAY-LON (that's southern style!) today and did away with 2 1/2 inches off the bottom. It's layered and lighter, and fun. I always love my hair the day I whack it off! Ahhhhhh....much better!

I've been thinking a lot about mothering. A lot about my style of parenting and wondering what that will look like and how that will change my life. What kind of Mom I will be and what kind of kids I will have. I also have to confess that even in the middle of a second adoption, I feel like neither will ever take place. I don't feel this way all the time, but certainly a lot of the time if I stop and think about it. It just feels like it's surreal. But there is no other option than to keep plugging along. Other than have no children - and that's just not an option, unless the good Lord closes all possible doors. Up to the present, He's only opened them, so we're walking on...but every year we say "next year" or "a year from now" and it's been that way for four years. I'm weary. I feel like some days it's all a sham. All this baby stuff we've collected, and all this preparing - what if it's for nothing. What if, what if, what if!??!? So I try not to go there, and I just try and imagine that all of this will be a distant memory once I have my kids in my arms, where they belong. So, yeah...I'm wondering what that will look like - what kind of mom I will be...and will I ever actually get on a plane bound for Africa or China, out to find and bring home my little darlings?

This is funny. Really it is. The other day, I got totally lost in thought about exercising, and dieting. I thought about attempting for the 1000th time to be a health nut. And then I got exhausted just thinking about it. And I started to crave Pringles. And it just so happened that we had some - Sour Cream and Onion. So, as I made my way through that can, I was thinking of ways to work out more. out at all, rather. And then AB called and wanted to know where I wanted to meet for dinner. Sushi, please! And so when I sat down at the table, AB said some magic (unprovoked) stuff that maybe I needed to hear..."you're so beautiful...I love you just the way you make me happy!" So on that note...(ahem)...I'm content again to be "Big Mama". For now anyway...

...and anyway, with the holidays coming - I can't bear the thought of health shakes and protein bars in exchange for my dearly beloved turkey dinner and chocolate dream pie! (*insert drooling here). But I did get EXCELLENT news this month and it came from my lovely Mom an Dad - they will be coming to visit us for the Thanksgiving holiday and I could not be happier about it. I get them all to myself (sans my younger siblings) for a whole week, and it's my Dad's first time to TX. Wha-hoo! I'm so glad their coming, I can hardly stand it!

So that's the latest and greatest - although there is always more to tell! I have post coming soon with a Hospitality Flare! Stay tuned!

September 14, 2007

Bald is beautiful?

AB is a crazy guy. He's a man without fear. He's...very "fly by the seat of his pants". He also loves to entertain kids. Gulp.

In May, he decided he was done cutting his hair. He wanted it long - like shoulder length, cool motorcycle (though he doesn't have one) hair. I was opposed, because I prefer the clean cut look. He didn't care...he was not cutting it.

His family, myself included, his friends, etc. all gave him a hard time over the ensuing months. He was teased openly about his shaggy locks. The longer it got, the more...shall we say...not so appealing it got. I know this sounds harsh, but it just wasn't working for him. Well, he wasn't havin' it. He could care less what any of us thought. He continued to put up with it, even though he himself admitted it was not a "good" look.

Well, it all came out what he was doing. He was growing it as a barter. I kid you not! He was growing his hair, so that when the first fundraiser of the year approached for his theater troupe, he would barter his hair for their efforts. In other words, he told these children that if they raise $5000, they can shave his head. Oh yes...he DID!

Tonight is the event - tonight is the night. He has asked me to bring the camera and the video camera. If the tally comes in at $5000 - the kids get to shave his head, on stage, in front of everyone. Then he will go backstage, and complete the job until his head is a nice bald landing strip. If they don't raise the money, he has agreed to go to get his haircut tomorrow (normal and nice!).

O. M. G.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I knew he must have been up to something this summer. He seemed to be going nuts with the length, but he just refused to cut it. Now we know why!

Oh Lord...I have been told there are parents coming to donate tonight just to see him get his head shaved. It's become quite the upset among the kids as well. They are CHOMPING at the bit to raise this money and see his hair gone.


As much as I want his hair "shorter", I wasn't exactly aiming for cue ball. Shiny sheen, wax on wax off, see your reflection in it short.

Pictures to come later on after the event - we'll see what happens. I never thought I'd be rooting for a low fundraiser - isn't that terrible!?!

September 12, 2007

Really Expensive Idiot

Tonight, AB and I had gone to our weekly Bible Study at a friends and then stopped for some good old fattening S@nic on the way home. As we tore into our late dinner at the dining table, Anton noticed we had a message. Odd. People usually know to call our cells. We listened and as we munched on tator tots and corny dogs, this is what we heard:

Mr. need to call "us" as soon as possible...we suspect you have been the victim of fraudulant acitivty on your credit card. Here's "our" number.

I about gagged up my double mustard burger! We just kind of looked at each other and AB - calm as a cucumber, kept right on eating his dinner. I said (yelped) "aren't you going to call them? You have to call them right now! You have to see what this is about! Oh my gosh...I can't believe it! You have to call them..." He took a swig of his Route 44 Apple Lime@ide and stared at me while I went into fits of hysteria. When he was done eating, he sauntered over to the phone and called. He went through the generics of proving to be who he said he was by verifying this and that. By the way, we didn't call the number on the machine - we called the number on the card. But right away, they started in on the fraud talk. They started listing off charges to prove or disprove that they were legit. Anton said this:

"Yep...that's us...yep...yep...yep...yep...well sir, we do love our Wii....yep...yep...(at this point I'm almost embarrassed. But to be fair, we use this card for everything and then pay it off each month to rack up on air miles) yep...yes, that's us too...
um, NOOOOO and NOOOOO......yeah ok, that's a problem."

Folks, let me just say that if the THIEF had been brilliant enough to go to Walm@rt, T@rget, C@rters, S@m Moon, I could go on and on, then we would have had a really big problem over here at La Casa B. Anton would have assumed that in my long term paper pregnancy and what with my gestation of a lemon shark (2 years!!) that I had finally gone and lost my mind and not only bought but hidden $2000 worth of goods.

Good thing our THIEF was an idiot and made a major mistake. They forgot the old adage to "know thy freaking audience". If you're gonna rip someone off, at least try to make it seem like it could have just been the owner. But this fool, who we can only assume is a woman or an exceedingly flashy transvestite, bought $2000 in makeup. Now people - puh-lease! If you know me at all, you know that I wear makeup only under extreme duress these days. I can't bring myself to be bothered. I work from home and just don't like to mess with it unless I'm heading out to church or a nice dinner out. AB took one look at me while the rep listed off "Cosmetics from Spain" and knew that his wife could never, would never, have wasted a shopping spree on improving her own personal state of facial art. And with that it was resolved - the wife, who loves to shop, had been cleared of all guilt (not that AB really thought it was me anyway). Thank you Ms. Thief for being an idiot and for not taking my card and your excursion to my favorite stores...

Puuuuu-lease, honey! Give me a stinkin' break! This face ain't buying it!

Meanwhile, you can see from the pictures my present state - sans makeup as per usual - and this is face I gave Anton when I heard the rep say "...blah blah...Makeup from Spain.....blah blah..."

Hello stupid rip-off person?!? Give a non-makeup wearing sista a break already!
That's all I'm saying..."Make-up from Spain" indeed...more like "make-down" from W@lmart and only if it's on sale sista! Can I get an Amen? Shoot...

*Meanwhile, the company was great - we were credited back the money, the cards were destroyed, and new ones are on the way. But I hate bad people. The world just stinks sometimes.

Real Classifieds

I love to laugh...

8 years old. Hateful little jerk. Bites!

1/2 Cocker Spaniel, 1/2 sneaky neighbor's dog.

Mother, AKC German Shepherd.
Father, Super to leap tall fences in a single bound.

Looks like a rat . Been out a while.
Better be a big reward.

Also 1 gay bull for sale.

$300 Hardly used, call Chubby.

California grown - 89 cents lb.

Must sell washer and dryer $300.

Worn once by mistake . Call Stephanie.

Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica, 45 volumes. Excellent
condition. $1,000 or best offer. No longer needed, Got married last month.
Husband knows everything.

September 10, 2007

The Remembering...

Growing up a funeral home owners daughter, my family saw, talked about, lived through, and in many ways experienced death daily.

It was a natural thing - not like a cheesy horror flick or "night of the living dead". It was just part of life and we talked openly about it. None of my three siblings and I ever feared a casket or attending a funeral. In fact, each of us has worked at funerals over time for our Dad - save for the baby sister of ours who is fresh out of highschool. But she too has had her share of exposure to the family business.

As living and breathing people, we have limits to what our minds will process. In other words, we have expectations of death. We need it to be in a very neat box. We need it to be gentle. As gentle as it can be. Our feelings and mental pictures toward death are generally very negative, but we all hope for the peaceful exit. We hope for the passing that takes place while we sleep. We hope that for our loved ones too. We can't bear the thought of suffering or seeing those we love suffer.

But I can recall many times that my Dad would sit with us at the end of a particularly hard day and say "it still gets me when it's a child, or a baby, or someone who has died tragically." And I can understand that. For instance, even though we loved and adored both of my grandparents, each of them were well into their eighties and had lived long seasoned lives. We lost my Grandma to cancer. Grandpa went somewhat suddenly from heart failure. We hated to see them go, but we knew it was time. It was just time. On the other hand, when my Aunt took her own life, we were shocked and bewildered. We couldn't get our heads around her passing. Likewise, when a child dies, or someone we love passes away in a car accident, it just goes against everything inside of us. It just gnaws at the heart and tears away at the fragility of our lives. It makes us all feel so temporary.

I do remember what I was doing 9-11-01. I'm sure you do to. I watched it all - unfolding like a bad dream on my TV. But as I sat on my couch that night and the several nights that followed, I could not seem to tear my eyes from the personal tragedies filling up the screen. The faces of the lost on posters, hung on fences, street signs, walls, stores. Everywhere. The lost. The missing. Here's my husband...he was wearing jeans...and a dress shirt...he's a great Dad...he's the love of my life...I think he was on the 86th floor. Please, if you've seen him - call this number. Phone numbers splashed across these signs - caution gone and open desperation in it's place. Crying and overwhelmed faces of family pleading for any news. Every single face on those posters, a loved one tragically stolen and gone, just like that.

There are a few times in our lives when our mortality comes to visit our thoughts. Not even just of our own life, but of those we love. We think "what if that was me...what if that was my love...what if that was my Mom". Do you ever find yourself thinking that? Or how about just having those moments where you are going about your day, and you find your eyes wandering to the one you love? And then it hits you. What will I do when you're not here anymore? How will I go on? Heck, I think that when I look at my animals. Please don't die, I whisper in their floppy ears while they nap. Never leave us! We love you so...

On 9-11-01, I was married not quite five months. As I sat staring at the TV all evening, perplexed and overwhelmed, with the world, I began to feel that weight of losing your loved ones in a flash. I pictured the wife, kissing her husband goodbye as he quickly dashed out the door, late for work. She continued on with her morning. Today would be like any other. No reason to believe otherwise. But he wasn't coming back. That peck and quick goodbye was the last. When they went to bed that night before, maybe he said something funny and they laughed and she reminded him how much he always makes her laugh? That night spent curled next to each other, was the last one of it's kind for them. That last glance and quick "see you later, love you" and "love you too, have a good day" was their final moment - though they didn't know it. And if you multiply that by 2,974 - you begin to feel the enormity of the overwhelming loss on that day. That tragic, unexpected moment in time where our lives get ripped open by sudden loss and death, in all it's finality.

That night, I crawled half sobbing into bed next to AB. He didn't stir, because he's a heavy sleeper. But this gave me the opporunity to curl up beside him and cry myself to sleep. I kept thinking "what if it had been you?" What if he had been the one to leave that morning and never come home? What if he had been the one to kiss me as I slept and slip out for work, only to be tragically killed hours later? That night, thousands of families were grieving over the lost - hundreds, maybe a thousand or more wives were crying in their beds, next to an empty spot that had the scent of their husbands still on his pillow? The indent on the mattress where he slept. Your mind can't get around it. It does not make sense. We can't even begin to comprehend it, because it's so unbelievable, so incomprehensible. Someone who was with us this morning, and such a strong and important part of our lives, is never coming back. That's tragedy.

All I kept thinking was "the humanity"! How final. The humanity! I still find myself from time to time catching documentaries from 9/11, and I feel that same panic that I did back then. That same "oh God...please, it's so terrible!" It all comes back and I feel that overwhelming gratefulness for those I love.

...and so it's true, that no matter how accustomed or unaccustomed we may be in dealing with death in general, we are never prepared for it's tragic and unexpected appearance in our lives. We are never prepared for losing our loved ones through tragic loss - we cannot fathom this type of pain or loss. And not one among us wants to. We certainly cannot fathom losing almost three thousands sons and daughters in one morning, and yet it is the same tragedy that breaks our hearts, that also draws us all together and calls us to love each other better and to extend the hand of love to others. It causes us to re-evaluate what's important. It makes us stop and take stock of our priorities. And it certainly brings us closer.

Take time today to tell them you love them. You know who "they" are.

I remember 9/11.

September 9, 2007

Sunday Fun

Happy Sunday -

Now click HERE to be thoroughly "cute-i-fied"

Tip Goodies

These were passed along to me and I thought they were fun to share! They're good ones! Hope you all had good weekends to blog about! -C

Reheat Pizza
Heat up leftover pizza in a non-stick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza. I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works.

Easy Deviled Eggs
Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.

Expanding Frosting
When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar/calories per serving.
Reheating Refrigerated Bread
To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.

Newspaper Weeds Away
Start putting in your plants, work the nutrients in your soil. Wet newspapers: put layers around the plants overlapping as you go cover with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic they will not get through wet newspapers.

Broken Glass
Use a dry cotton ball to pick up little broken glass pieces of glass - the fibers catch ones you can't see!

Squirrel Away
To keep squirrels from eating your plants sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn't hurt the plant and the squirrels won't come near it.
If you purchase a new bike for your child, place their picture inside the handle bar before placing the grips on. If the bike is stolen and later recovered, remove the grip and there is your proof who owns the bike.

Flexible Vacuum
To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.

Reducing Static Cling
Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and - voila - static is gone.

Measuring Cups
Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill it with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don't dry the cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.
Foggy Windshield?
Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car. When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!
Reopening Envelope
If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Voila! It unseals easily.
Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It's a lot cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It's also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn't like when you tried it in your hair...
Good-bye Fruit Flies
To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass fill it 1/2" with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dishwashing liquid, mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

Get Rid of Ants
Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it "home," and can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, ESP. if it rains, but it works & you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!

Take Baby Powder To The Beach
Keep a small bottle of baby powder in your beach bag. When you're ready to leave the beach sprinkle yourself and kids with the powder and the sand will slide right off your skin.

September 5, 2007

The Shot Heard Round the World

So let's talk needles for a minute. I have an aversion to needles that goes way back to my younger days. Young as in very young. I was a bone breaker. Not anyone else's, mind you. My own bones. I broke my arm, wrist, ankle (twice), and let's not forget my collarbone (ouch!). And I never just "broke" them, I BROKE the heck out of them. So that they had to be set. So that I had to get a shot to numb the pain and sometimes several. This in addition to all your usual blood work, labs, vaccinations, etc so that by the time I was a wee lass, I had worked up a solid fear of needles. One that went as far as climbing under the patient table in a doctors office and screaming bloody-stinkin-murder. To say my parents were embarrassed when I had to be held down by three nurses, is a bit of an understatement.

This trauma (as I like to call it) spread well into my adult life and still nags at me every time it's "that" time. Time to get blood work done. Time to check the ol' thyroid. Time to measure the blood pressure. Time to adopt from a third world country. Shoot. I forgot that when you travel abroad, there are certain things in the fine print of the adventure that read like this: "unless you want to die a most untimely and miserable death of the Yellow Fever - or unless you want to be stuck in our country should an outbreak occur and you are not vaccinated - we heartily recommend getting a freaking immunization from it". The list of immunizations that we will need between China and Ethiopia reads like a John Jakes novel. It actually spans two pages. I'm not even kidding you.

Now people - you just don't do this to a needle-phobic. Have you noticed, the way that I have, that things that you need and are good for you come in rotten packages? For example:

Health (Cardboard) Food = Good Health and longer life, as well as a smaller dress size
Exercise (yawn!) = Good health and longer life, as well as a smaller dress size
Greasy Sales people = New Cars
Immunizations from horrible diseases = Needles stuck into your body

On the other hand, we could list the things that are terrible for us, but come in oh so lovely packages. Such as chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, french fries, chocolate brownies, fried chicken, soda, chocolate bars....but I digress...

About two months ago, we applied for a new life insurance plan. The nurse came to our house, took our vitals and our information, and then proceeded to bust out his handy dandy needle case. I gasped. Audibly. My palms began to clam up and my feet got cold. I started cold sweating. I went into panic mode and started thinking of ways to get around it. I got so worked up, that by the time I had to sit there and allow this stranger danger to poke stainless steel into my flesh, I was actually crying. I was sooooooo embarrassed - so please hold the "big baby" comments. I could have died from feeling like such a fool. But I could not overcome my fear long enough to allow him to do his job without me freaking out. It was over in a flash and there was no pain. I sniffed into a tissue and off he went, probably thinking he had just witnessed the world's oldest surviving cry-baby.

Background on said fear: As an adult, I did ok for years. I would just suck it up and go get it done when it had to be done. I would be a nervous wreck and then I would want to vomit, but I would just get it over with. Then I had to get a blood draw for our China adoption two years ago while paperchasing. What should have been in and out, took 45 minutes of two techs looking for a vein. Five sticks later, I was in tears, demanding someone who knew what they were doing. I was devastated to learn shortly after that I'm what they call a "tough stick". Apparently, when you are blessed with extra poundage and beautiful extras all around, your veins - I don't know - go South for the winter. They take refuge beneath the folds. Including the ones on your arms. They just...disappear. And when they are spotted via a very tight and uncomfortable tourniquet, and then subsequently poked, they retreat hastily and dry up - so that no blood can exit through the infiltrating enemy. Thus started the next two years of difficulty with any type of blood draw. It was like overnight, I had been labeled and it never failed to happen. Every time I went for blood work, the same thing occurred - I was a miserably difficult "stick".

One time (recently) at the doctors office, I had sweat through four pokes total between the two arms, and as they headed for the fifth - the nurse was visibly upset. Her confidence was clearly slipping at my body's inability to give up the juice. She had to step out for a minute and bring in recruits to help. I was crying and apologizing for crying. The sad truth? She was rumored to be the best at phlebotomy in the medical office. Are you with me now?

So, this did nothing to lessen the fear that I had yesterday when I walked into the lab. I had to have blood work done in advance for yet another physical, for yet another adoption letter stating I was in good health and free of any communicable diseases. I made up my mind that this time would be different. I made up my mind that I was not going to be afraid anymore. It doesn't even hurt, for crying out loud. It's the mind's the fear of the mental picture we set up. It's the anxiety of the fear of the pain that we might have. So I prayed that God would just release me of this nagging fear I've had for far too long. This "trauma" of getting blood drawn. I just had to let it go and get on with it. There are far worse things in life, I reasoned. And who am I to cry over a needle, when sick children are suffering much worse procedures and bearing up under it with a smile on their face? What kind of freak am I to fear something that doesn't even hurt, really?

Well, I prayed all the way there. Lord! Help me get over it! Help me calm down! Help me release this incessant fear and give me peace!

I walked in, did the paperwork, smiled at the lady behind the desk, and took a seat. Only a moment later, I heard it. My name. I gulped, but remembered my prayer. I took a deep breath and stood up. I smiled and walked forward and in I went. As I rounded the corner, I could see the chair right away. The kind with the folding arm that comes across your chest. I sat down and made small talk while the tech quickly assembled my "stick kit". The fear was not there. Just a few nerves, which I made haste in ignoring. She grabbed a butterfly needle (smaller, but takes a little longer to draw). One last attempt: "Lord, she knows what she's doing, but now it will take me be calm". Calm came. I smiled. She warned me and there it was - the pinch that hurts far less than slamming my toe into the table, much less than ramming my head into the trunk of the car as I remove groceries, far less than slipping and falling in my kitchen on the two drops of water that I spilled. And just like that...I looked over at her and then at the two viles already filled up and laying on the table beside me. Poof. Done. Bandage on. I'm leaving and she's saying "I wish everyone was this calm!" Did she just say that to me? Am I imagining that I just got a compliment for being so calm whilst having a needle in my arm? Am I dreaming that it took one stick, and no pushing on my arm and coaxing the blood out? Did she really just break the curse of my "tough stick" badge? Let's face it, I'm probably still a "tough stick", but she - glorious needle goddess that she is - managed to do what no one has been able to do in two years. Get me in and out the door with no sweating and no tears, and only one small needle mark to show for it.

Lessons Learned:
Shots don't kill people, people kill people.
I don't like shots, but shots like me.
Shots don't always hurt.
Mind over matter. Thanks Mom, sorry I learned it 30 years too late.
Prayers are answered. Even ones we think are silly.
I'm the world's oldest living cry baby.

Lessons Not Learned:
How to get through the doctors visit tomorrow (said necessary physical) where I will be receiving three of my 216,543,213 shots for travel. Gulp.

It's just a pinch, it's just a pinch, it's just a pinch,
It's just a pinch, it's just a pinch, it's just a pinch,
It's just a pinch, it's just a pinch, it's just a pinch,
It's just a pinch, it's just a pinch, it's just a pinch,
It's just a pinch, it's just a pinch, it's just a pinch,
It's just a pinch, it's just a pinch, it's just a pinch,
It's just a pinch, it's just a pinch, it's just a pinch,

Double Gulp.

September 3, 2007

I Heart Fall

My friends, the time has come. I cannot contain my happiness any longer - Fall / Autumn is here!. Now, never mind the e-mails to tell me that it really starts September 23rd this year. I don't care what the calendar tells me. I only care that it's September. And in September we can mark the beginning of a change in temperature, a change in weather, a change in ambiance, and a change in color. As you stroll through the stores, you may see pumpkins, Halloween decor, and a variety of things in shades of oranges, browns, tans, and reds. You might start to see cake and loaf pans in the shapes of cornucopia and pumpkins, and you may even catch a glimpse of signs advertising for pumpkin patches and hayrides.

Without any reserve, I can say that Fall is my favorite time of year. Spring is too rainy - Summer too hot, Winter too cold and expensive (ahem). But Fall! Glorious Fall! I love your colors, your windy days with leaves skipping along the sidewalk. I love your cool evenings and the smell of neighborhood fireplaces shaking off the dust from the summer months. I love your hearty soups and warm banana bread. I love your pumpkin pies and your apple cider, sending the perfume of cinnamon through the house. I love your warm colors and your gentle reminders that another year has successfully fluttered away. I love the way your prepare us for Christmas by warming us into the season and filling us with anxious anticipation of the coming holidays. I love your Thanksgiving dinner filled with the turkey, the luscious cranberry sauce, the mashed potato, the green been casserole, and warm browned rolls and butter - all that we can devour in one sitting. I love your Sunday afternoon football and long naps. I love your hospitality - your ability to make us feel warm and snuggly and happy to be together again enjoying your season. How I love Fall!

So for me, it has begun. When the calendar "struck" September 1st, I could feel the season within me shifting. Bidding Summer a fond farewell, with all it's sweaty humid misery and saying "Hello" to a dear and timely friend - Fall. It never comes too soon, and never stays quite long enough. Once the trimmings of Thanksgiving are packed up and put in the fridge, we are often on to the next major holiday. I encourage you all to heartily enjoy this season with your family and friends. I'm no professional decorator, and certainly not a seasoned entertainer - but here are some of my favorite ideas borrowed off my good "friend" Susan Br@nch and excerpts taken from her lovely book simply titled "Autumn", that might inspire you, as it did me, to make your home a lovely Fall sanctuary, filled with the colors and smells of a warm and cozy season. Happy Fall!

Decorating ~

  • Set out puzzles and games for cozy and warm nights at home
  • Use Candles! Fires in the fireplace, brass, wooden or pewter candleholders are perfect for the season. Place a dark orange or red pillar candle into a large hurricane lamp. Surround it with tiny pinecones, leaves, berries, etc. Bring nature indoors!
  • Brew mulling spices and have friends over for tea
  • Display old Books and all your favorites for quiet nights spent together
Entertaining ~
  • Ask yourself: does it smell good, taste good, feel good, sounds good & look good? Appeal to the senses.
  • Plan your menu ahead - simple and delicious, so you can be an unruffled and relaxed hostess and enjoy your own dinner party.
  • Use molds to make butter or ice cubes shaped like leaves.
  • Hollow out oranges, then draw a leaf on the side and cut out. Slip a small votive or tea light inside and wala - yummy scented orange votive holders.
  • Set your table outdoors in the crisp air among the leaves. Or how about in front of a cozy fire?
  • Gather small dry leaves and write your guests name on them in gold or silver metallic pen.
Gift Baskets ~
  • Apple Bowl - Take an old mixing bowl and wooden spoon, 4 green apples and in the bottom of the bowl, a bag of fresh cranberries. Place a plastic bag with the dry ingredients measured out for Cranberry Apple Crisp. Tie the recipe to the spoon.
  • Sunday Breakfast - Into an old fashioned batter bowl put pancake mix, real maple syrup, two bananas, a whisk and lay all this into a dish towel.
  • Sock Neck Warmer - Fill a cute knee-high sock with uncooked rice. Tie the open end closed with a satin ribbon. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute and then place it around the back of your neck. Cozy!
Recipes to warm your heart and home ~

Olive Bowls
Hollow out a sourdough round and fill with all sorts of delicious olives. Set it on a bed of herbs, like rosemary. Hollow out several other medium size rolls. Use one for the olive pits, and fill the others with creamy cheeses.

Side Dish:
Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes - (Recipe by:Susan Branch)
5 lbs. sweet potatoes (yams)

1/2 stick butter

1/4 c. bourbon

1/4 c. brown sugar

zest of one orange
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat over to 375. Pierce potatoes & bake 1-1 1/2 hours, 'til soft. Let cool 15-min. Halve potatoes & scoop pulp into a large bowl. Partially mash - add remaining ingredients, mash well & serve.

To come in another "Fall" post! Yum!

Cranberry Apple Crisp -

(Recipe by:Susan Branch) Serves six
4 lg. green apples peeled & sliced
1 c. fresh cranberries
3/4 c. brown sugar firmly packed

1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. oats

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/3 c. softened butter

Preheat oven to 375. Butter a square baking pan. Place apple slices & cranberries in the pan. Mix remaining ingredients well & sprinkle over fruit. Bake 30 minutes. Serve hot with ice cream or cold with whipped cream.

We are in for a spell of perfect weather now, every day luminous, every night brimmed with stars. Picnics at noon, supper by the applewood fire at night, a walk in the cool moonlight before bed.
- Gladys Taber