Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve and randomness

Happy New Year's Eve! Be careful and have fun. Oh, that's actually another post, when I have the time.

Bill recaulked the tub again. Pray or cross your fingers that it works this time. The tub did start draining faster, so that's good news.

This is all I have time for today. See you next year (yes, I still use that line)!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

another busy day

Today was another busy day. Bill and I walked over to the hardware store to exchange the caulk. That was a total of 1.2 miles. After I did my yoga I ran the vacuum. I stopped and ate lunch. I also was working on some laundry because Juliette puked on our duvet at 6:21am. It woke me up, but not Bill who immediately pulled the covers up, right where she had puked.

By this point it's almost 2pm and we are going to an office party that Bill's St. Joe office won from the local radio station. Fun! But now I have to get ready. I was not rushed. I even had time to put the dishes away that were still in the dish drainer.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

what's for dinner?

I know, it's too early to be thinking about dinner, but I am a planner. I plan ahead for the grocery list, I plan ahead for meals, I like my routine. Don't get me wrong, I can be spur-of-the-moment, but I have to know that it's going to happen. Just kidding. Sort of, I can be flexible when I know I need to be (for instance while traveling). But if I have something set in my mind, I like things to be that way. I don't get upset if they're not, I just don't always handle it well.

Hence the post, what's for dinner. I had planned on homemade pizza pockets, which are yummy and delicious. And then I weighed myself this morning. Needless to say, Bill and I took a 2-mile walk and I will be doing yoga later. That changed dinner plans too. That and the fact that we have greens in the fridge that need to be used, otherwise they'll go bad and will just get thrown away. Like the basil I bought. Imagine my disgust when I pulled it out and not only were the leaves turning brown, but there was actual fuzzy mold growing on them! Ew!! I had to toss it all out. What a waste of money. Apparently December is not the month to buy healthy basil. I also purchased spinach leaves and romaine. Both of those are still hanging in there. And that's where tonight's dinner comes into play. I'm going to make spinach pesto in my new food processor. With our pesto pasta we will also have salads made from romaine. It sounds nice and healthy and light.

We have finally run out of leftovers. But there is still cheeseball. Mmm cheeseball. I've not given up on eating healthy, but I have done a poor job of paying close attention to what I eat. My eating habits will resume after this weekend. And we will be walking at least three times a week January and February.

And in case you're wondering from my post the other day; our walk this morning already has me at 5800 steps. I hope I can get 6000 in by the end of the day (that will probably happen before the afternoon).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

wrapping presents round two

My boss called me this afternoon and told me to take the rest of the week off. I have to admit, I am happy because she is going to pay me. My first paid week off in four years. Since we moved to Michigan, I have not received paid time off. If I took time off, it was without pay. So I'm pretty excited about this.

I decided to get started by wrapping the Christmas presents for my family. We'll be seeing them this weekend, so I had postponed wrapping all of their gifts until this week. No time like the present... (yup, I had to use that pun). So I got all of them wrapped and then I got all of our wrapping paraphernalia gathered up, sorted and put back in storage. This of course needs to go back up in the attic. Which is a lot neater today. Bill cleaned it out yesterday. It was quite a feat, started by the new tv. See the old tv box is up there, with lots of other boxes hiding inside. After clearing the path to the box, Bill decided it was doing a good job of keeping all the other boxes together. He then proceeded to clear out the miscellaneous boxes that had been piled at the top of the stairs. He also went through his electronic mess. The answer is always, "yes, we do have the proper connection for ___." And one can easily find it now that he put them all together.

There was only one accident. While he was chucking trash down the stairs, I came in to hand him back a box to throw said trash in. He had just let go of a cd which slammed into my head, edge first. Those things hurt! Of course a warning could not have been shouted because the cd had been launched well before my head entered the doorway. It was perfect timing. we laughed about it. The goose egg on my head has finally gone down and the headache went away after I took a couple of ibuprofen. I think I'll survive.

Monday, December 27, 2010


One of my Christmas presents was a simple pedometer. I am so excited to use it. I'm wearing it right now. Before the tv died yesterday, we did get a walk in. So before we took our walk, I set my pedometer. First, I had to walk ten steps and measure them. I had to walk through three rooms at a diagonal to be able to go that far! My steps measured 272 inches, so I input that into the little "machine". Now it will be able to tell me how far I walk, not just how many steps I take!!

Side note: I had asked Bill for a pedometer, stressing, emphasizing I wanted a simple one. This is exactly what I wanted. I knew if I just told him a pedometer, he would go find the best one out there which will not only calculate distance, but calories burned, weight loss, speed, etc. To me, that means entering a lot of data and I just wanted to be able to clip it on and go. That is why I am so happy with the one he got me. It's perfect!! Yes, the other high functioning one would be cool, but not what I wanted.

So I had to do that one minor step (haha) to start tracking my mileage. Cool! Our walk, which was a shorter version of our typical walk, measured 1.5 miles. I didn't start using it until the walk, so I don't know how many steps I took overall yesterday. But so far this morning I have taken 450 steps! And it's not even noon.

With a quick push of a button, I can find out that equals .2/mile. Just doing my normal morning routine I'm impressed!! Bill and I are planning on getting a walk in later, so I'll have to come back and let you know my final end-of-day count.

Editor's note: we did not take a walk, so my final count for the day was not great. I'll let you know when I hit 5,000!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

now it's quiet

It's the day after Christmas. A day of rest, Sunday. We had a typical morning. We attended church, Bill made breakfast when we returned home. I had asked him if we could spend some time with the tv turned off today, and he said the Lions game was on, and after that we could turn off the tv. That's fine, I told him. I just don't like when we have the tv on and there's nothing to watch. It's sort of like a bad habit. We had caulked the tub on Friday, so neither of us has showered since then (which is now a whole different story). While Bill was in the shower, I was sitting here reading with the tv on. Bad habit what? And then it happened.


Juliette jumped. The picture was gone, but there was still sound coming from the tv. I quickly turned it off. Then my phone rang. It was my sister, I started talking to her. When Bill came down stairs, he saw I was on the phone and motioned that it was quiet time? I told my sister to hold on and explained to him what happened to the tv. By this point it smelled like burning, so he unplugged it (duh!). How late is Best Buy open?

While I finished my conversation with my sister, Bill did some quick research. Then we headed out. To Best Buy. The day after Christmas.

While we found many great deals, we finally settled on another Sony LCD, 46". The old one was only 42", but it had a bigger shell. In fact the old one was bigger by one square foot. It also had speakers that faced the room and we could hear everything. Now we will have to rely on the stereo to give us quality sound. That's okay. We are currently trying to get our HD channels/cable to work. It's only picking up the analog channels. This is fun... (please note my use of sarcasm).

Update: we "found" the cable box. We have tv again. It's time for popcorn.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Peace on earth

Merry Christmas

"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Luke 2:14

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Miscellaneous

It's Christmas Eve and this is what it's like in the Uebbing household aka a house with no kids:

At 5:50am Bill woke up before his alarm which woke me up. We got dressed and had some breakfast before leaving to go serve breakfast to those less fortunate than us. You can read more about here, at Bill's blog. He did a great job explaining it. We worked the 7-9am shift. We both stood near the entrances and welcomed everyone as they came in. Bill greeted them first at one set of doors while I stood at the doors into Wesley Hall (why yes, we are United Methodists) and made sure they knew which doors to exit and that they would get their stuffed socks over there too. Almost every single person thanked us, and I managed to get at least a "Good Morning" out of everyone. Most of our guests also wished me a Merry Christmas or a blessing of some sort. I returned the Merry Christmas wishes, having decided last year that saying "Happy Holidays" inside of the church seemed somewhat sacrilege and if they were going to come inside the church for breakfast they should hear "Merry Christmas".

We were relieved by the next shift of volunteers promptly at 9am at which point Bill and I then headed over to West Coast Coffee. We enjoyed bagels, coffee and the company of the proprietor, Doug who is a high school buddy of Bill's.

I just finished cleaning the bathroom and Bill has removed the caulk from around the tub. We are letting it dry out before re-caulking. We have presents to finish wrapping, I have a few things to make in the kitchen and then we'll head back to church for the 9pm service. In the meantime we'll enjoy some tv and relax.

Atticus has not chewed through his present yet! I think he still thinks it's upstairs in the closet. He is after all a cat.

And that is what it's like on Christmas Eve in a house with no kids. Just in case you were wondering.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

time to wrap the presents

I realized this morning, while going through my mental checklist, just how many presents I have to wrap. It's actually less then any other year. I will wait to wrap my family's presents until after Christmas, just to alleviate some of the stress. It's also a lot less because as much as I like giving, I realized I may have gone a bit overboard in years past. Is 20 presents each too much? Yes. Yes it is. So this year I scaled back. That was difficult. Extremely difficult. I'm not even sure how well I did because I stuff everything into the closet and don't look at it again until I pull it out to wrap it.

Just now Atticus broke into the closet and found his present. Not only did he find it, pull it out and start playing with it, but he opened the plastic bag that had been tied without ripping it. That is a huge accomplishment! He usually starts with his teeth and asks questions later. Sneaky, stealth little kitten.

Back to the wrapping party I'm going to have later, after work. I had decided to wait because of Atticus. He likes to eat paper, so I figured if there was less time the presents sat out wrapped, there would be less time for him to eat the paper off of them, ensuring that I would have to wrap them all a second time. This of course, meant that I had to wait until after our weekend out of town. Which brings me to my post. I eventually decided I could wait and wrap them all tomorrow. I don't have anything else to do, once we serve breakfast at church to the homeless, stop and buy coffee at our favorite coffee shop, re-caulk the shower, make a cheeseball, make lunch, and go to Christmas Eve service. Sure. There's plenty of time to wrap all of our presents. I better start this afternoon. I am not a procrastinator and this is starting to get too close.

Plus I'm dealing with a cat that is clearly bent on making it onto Santa's Naughty list (he finally got kicked out of my office after his third attempt at breaking into the closet just in the time it took me to write this post).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

another ornament

You may remember I cross-stitched some ornaments and gave them to the Quota Board Members, in case you don't, click here to see one. When I was finished, I started another ornament. This time it was a gift for our friends Dave and Greg. We stayed with them this last weekend while in Detroit. (you can go back and read about that on your own!) I sort of started a tradition with them, the first year Bill was living with them, I found a snowflake ornament (I thought it was Crate & Barrel, but now that I think about it, it may have been Restoration Hardware) and that was our gift to them. (They gave Bill this awesome tool for his grill, it's a fork and you stab the meat and the built-in thermometer tells you the temp of the food you're grilling, pretty handy.)

Last year I painted a ceramic snowflake at the paint-your-own-pottery store and gave that to them.

This year, I was tempted to go with the snowflake theme I had started, but when I searched for a cross-stitch ornament I got a virus and my computer crashed. Sort of. I knew something was wrong right away so I quick shut it down. I restarted it and ran a systems check (or whatever the technical jargon is, I kept asking Bill what to do and in his most patient tone, walked me through the process). Needless to say, I did not find a snowflake ornament. However, I did have the pattern for this one, and I've made it before. I think it's cute, so I made this one for them. And so continues the ornament tradition.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

last night's dinner

That's actually the name of another blog I follow, check it out here. I found it when I was trying to make a cast iron skillet pizza, which you can see here.

However, I am blogging about our actual dinner last night. I found a pot pie recipe which uses a food processor for the crust. Hey, I just happen to have one of those fancy machines, thanks to Bill!

I cannot describe the delicious-ness of these pot pies. They blew the pot pie memory of our childhood out the window. It was the perfect winter time meal.

Not only did I get a chance to use my fancy new food processor, but also the pot pie dishes that Shannon gave to me several years ago for my birthday! I've made pizza pot pies in them, and apple crisp. But last night I used them for their true purpose (I guess it really doesn't matter what you use something for, as long as you're using it, but I have a sense of fulfillment having used them for actual pot pies) and we had the best homemade pot pies ever.

Monday, December 20, 2010

12 Days of Christmas

Quota Version:

On the twelfth day of Christmas Quota gave to me:
Twelve volunteers signed up
Eleven Cool Cats Singing
Ten crafty bookmarks
Nine Greeters greeting
Eight friends a shopping
Seven games for playing
Six vouchers for redeeming
Five Decibels
Four weeks until the event
Three flyers for sharing
Two verses left for singing
And One more reminder of the Book Fair!!

Shop at Barnes & Noble January 8th-13th. Give them our ID 10337434 to use in the store or online at ANY Barnes & Noble!!

Emily & Quota of Grand Rapids

Sunday, December 19, 2010

snow globes

One of my favorite Christmas "decorations" (aka tchotchke's) are snow globes. I don't have many, our favorite one came from Saks Fifth Avenue and is of Saks, St. Patrick's with the Chrysler & Empire State buildings. Bill and I bought one for his sister and one for us. This was in 2005; we were in the city for the night. We saw "Spamalot" with Jenny and John. It was a fun trip and we miss NYC dearly. All the sounds and smells... I digress, I am very happy that we have this little reminder of the city. We have lots of fond memories (other then the smells and sounds).

Hallmark came out with a line of snow globe ornaments. Of course they're too heavy to hang on the tree, but that's okay. I have a little side table on which our snow globes are displayed. I looked for one in Chicago while we were there on our anniversary. Unfortunately August is not the month for snow globe displays.

As I sit in my office during the winter months, I love looking out the window to see snow falling. If I haven't mentioned it before (and I have, many times) I love winter. I love snow and I even enjoy shoveling. So it makes sense that I enjoy watching the snow fall. But what I enjoy most about it, is that from my window I feel as if I am in a snow globe. One of the windows in my office looks between the houses where the wind blows the snow around making it look like a snow globe. I just love it so much. Every time I look out, I smile.

This is my Sunday, Christmas joy blog for you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

lazy Saturday

Oh what a lazy Saturday. I slept in after having gone to bed late. Our friend Dave baked his family breakfast casserole (which by the way is one of the only casseroles I like), we watched "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Four Christmases". I'm baking individual apple crisps and we played two hours of Mille Bornes. It's still snowing in Detroit (nothing is sticking) and we have a party to go to in a little while. That's a lovely, lazy Saturday.

Friday, December 17, 2010

other plans

Last night we were supposed to go to the Detroit Symphony with our friends, Dave and Greg. This is a tradition that they share with their friends Kevin and Mekel. We were invited to join the four of them this year. However, the Symphony is currently on strike. As things have a tendency to work out, Bill ended up presenting one of his employees with "Employee of the Year" at a business meeting last night.

But first Dave, Greg, Bill and I went to dinner. It came recommended by Mekel, who ended up getting violently ill and was unable to join us. The Forest Grill is the name of the restaurant we went to. Check out their website. It was sleek and modern. They specialize in local, organic food with a french twist. The chef studied in France for several years and that is evidenced by the menu.

We shared a prosciutto platter that literally melted in your mouth it was sliced so thin. Bill, Greg and I all had the Caesar salad which was divine. Greg had the French Onion soup and Dave had the Tomato Bisque both looked exquisite. I ordered the risotto as my main dish, which I asked for in the appetizer portion and it was perfect. Bill and Dave both had the Cote du Boeuf while Greg tried the Duck Confit, also an appetizer which he had as his main dish in a larger entree size portion.

After we finished our entrees, Bill had to excuse himself to get to his meeting. Dave, Greg and I all indulged in dessert, because by this point why wouldn't we? I had the Mont Blanc which was chocolate gelato (hello? I haven't met a chocolate gelato I haven't liked) with Chestnut mousse and nutella. It was amazing. Greg had the bread pudding (I think) and Dave tried the Butter Pecan Meringue Creme Brulee.

I want to go back there. It was so divine. As was the bill, but it was worth every penny (and dollar...).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

No snow

We left this morning for Detroit. As I was packing, I was going through what shoes and boots to wear or take with me. I decided since there was no snow in Grand Rapids, I could wear my tennis shoes since there would likely be no snow in Detroit. This is how it always goes, I will leave Grand Rapids in boots only to arrive in Detroit where there is no snow. Today must be opposite day. Not only is there snow in Detroit, but there is a lot of snow. Significantly more over here than in Grand Rapids. I am shocked! All I want is a white Christmas and I don't know if that's going to happen this year. (there's still time, it could still happen) I should point out that we've had a lot of sun in our little pocket of the state and it has been quite nice.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.’” –Luke 2:10

Most people enjoy celebrating their birthday at some point during the year. Then there are those of us who were born in December and January who have to “share” our birthdays with Christmas. I won’t even begin to tell you how many times Christmas cards and birthday cards are lumped into one. There have been many times I have whined, “Why can’t someone see how special my birthday is?” Other people get to have a special day, why does mine have to be lumped together with Christmas for the convenience of others? My mother (whose birthday is at the beginning of January) was wise to this treatment and always made a big deal out of my birthday as well as my sister’s (whose is also in January). This is why I have “issues” when other people don’t give my birthday the same treatment.

When asked what my favorite time of year is, my answer is Christmas, without hesitation. How does that work when my birthday is so often forgotten by friends and family? To me the difference between my birthday and Christmas is the overwhelming news of Christ’s birth. My birthday was worked into the traditions of Christmas and each year I am reminded how Jesus came to give me eternal life as I celebrate being another year older. Maybe I like Christmas a little more because of my birthday. I know I like the decorations, the cookies, the snow, and the presents. And I also like meaning behind all those decorations. But most of all I like knowing that because Jesus came into this world as a human, He loves me and will celebrate with me every day of the year.

So next time you see me, I might just be celebrating my “Happy Unbirthday”. I pray that you remember to celebrate the love of Jesus everyday of the year and not just on the day we celebrate his birth.


This was my devotion for our church Advent book last year. Since it's still the week of my birthday (there goes Bill, rolling his eyes again) I thought I'd share it with you. Especially because I met another December baby (her birthday is Dec. 25th) who shared the same, let's call them concerns. We love our friends and family. But we send you or think of you both at Christmas and your birthday. Why do you insist on combining our birthdays with Christmas? We were still born, and there's still Christmas. It's not our fault, or anyone's for that matter, that our birthdays fall at this hectic gift-giving time of year. I'm not asking for a gift. Just the separate thought of birthday wishes outside of the Christmas card.

With that being said, this year that message seemed to have reached far more people than I ever thought possible. I had A LOT of birthday wishes on facebook. I also received many cards from friends and family. Thank goodness for facebook. I would not remember anyone's birthday if it weren't for that handy reminder. Yes, I'm just as guilty. I can remember my closest friend's birthdays and my immediate family, but outside of that circle it becomes fuzzy. Even our friends children's birthdays, I don't always remember... but when I do, I send a card. And I do not write Merry Christmas inside. Nor do I send a Christmas card with Happy Birthday. Thank you to all of my friends who care enough to send me birthday wishes as well as Christmas wishes! I love you all, and you're the best present a friend could have!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

pictures from the birthday

I would call it an event. Anyone who was born in December or January understands the importance of making a big deal out of their birthday. (This is the point where Bill rolls his eyes and thinks, "this again?") I wrote a devotion on this subject, which I will post tomorrow. For today I thought I'd share some of the pictures from yesterday's special event.

This is the Pandora charm from Cyndi, Jerry and Skylar. I love it because it's a snowflake.

A card from Mom & Dad U.

An oddly shaped present from Bill...

It's the Miche purse!! (no, this is not a flattering picture, but I found it amusing. Bill was snapping enough photos to make a flip book, so I thought I'd share the bad ones too.)

One of the shells to go on the Miche, it's a snowflake!!

Talking to Mom on the phone, today Juliette would not leave me alone.

A Vera purse from Mom and Dad (I just know Dad picked it out). In my favorite colors; blue and brown. Note that the shirt and sweater I am wearing match it (it's difficult to see that in this photo).

One more present from Bill. This one is a surprise (meaning I didn't buy it and have him wrap it for me). He hid it in the trunk just like his parents used to do.

It's the food processor I've been wanting for a long time!!! I can't wait to make all kinds of things with it! Thank you Bill! That's the best birthday present!!

Here is the collection of cards. We used to put them on the piano, since that's gone I had to find a new spot. The trunk works!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Birthday!

Today is my birthday. Didn't you get the memo? Bill said he sent one out. He's also trying to get it declared a holiday. But you can read about all of that here.

I was born in 1977. Today I am 33 and as Bill lovingly pointed out, I will be 44 in 11 years. I think that's cool!! How often does that happen?

I started a tradition on my 30th birthday (you can read about that here) of saving my birthday cards and opening them all on my actual birthday, instead of when they come in the mail. If that were the case, I would have opened a birthday card a month ago (thanks Alex!). Sometimes they're Christmas cards instead of birthday cards, but that's okay. It's still fun to open all of them on my birthday.

So far today, Bill made me breakfast, a croissant with egg & cheese! It was delicious. I have visited the Cool Cats (you can read a little bit about them here) and we ate vanilla cake! My mom, Bill's parents, and Leah have called to wish me a happy birthday. I opened my present from Leah while I was on the phone with her. It's a Lego man flashlight key chain! Of course I couldn't figure out how to turn it on until I was pointing the light in my eyes and pressed the button. Wow! Is that thing bright!! (By the way, why do we do that? Point it at our face as if the button to turn it on is anywhere near the light??) Pat stopped by with a lovely present of (home made?) jelly and coffee.

After work I plan on watching Ellen. Bill is fixing dinner; steaks with goat cheese, au gratin potatoes (they're leftover, but still yummy!), salads and then the chocolate mascarpone pound cake with cream cheese frosting and peppermint ice cream!!! I better do some yoga at some point. Maybe we should schedule a walk too.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Warning: This post is not uplifting

I wrote the following to share with the Jr. High Sunday school class this morning. I read it before we stuffed socks to give out to the homeless that our church will serve breakfast too on Christmas Eve morning.

Imagine yourself in your least favorite outfit. You're standing outside waiting for the bus, wearing a coat, but no gloves or hat. You don't have boots, so even though it's cold and snowy you're just wearing your sneakers. You didn't have breakfast because there wasn't anything to eat. Your stomach growls as you stand there trying to stay warm. You left your backpack at school because they gave you an extra sack of food to eat for dinner, but you didn't want to share it, so you left it at school to eat this morning. One of your parents lost their job and has been working part time jobs. It wasn't enough to pay the bills, so you had to move out of your house. Your family sold everything; your xbox, playstation, wii, even the tv. You're living in a small apartment. You have to share a bed with your siblings. For those of you who don't have any siblings, you're sharing your apartment with another family and you have to share a bed with their children. There is no hot water, because the water heater broke and the landlord won't fix it. You would rather not shower than try to take a freezing cold shower in a freezing cold apartment. When you get to school, your friends don't want to have anything to do with you because you've worn the same outfit and you smell a little, to put it nicely. You had really hoped one of your friends would invite you over to hang out, their mom would fix dinner and you could play the new video game that just came out, or try that new color nail polish. But your friends have started to avoid you and you will go through your day all alone, cold and tired. Your family has no money for Christmas presents. What little money they have, they're using to put food on the table. Which is a joke, because there's barely enough food to feed one person. They are also trying to pay the rent to keep a roof over your heads. They already told you that you won't be getting anything for Christmas, xbox games and all of that other stuff are far from your mind. Your stomach growls again as you stand at the bus stop, still waiting for the bus. You wish you had a pair of gloves. Even boots and warmer socks would be nice. Couldn't your parents afford at least one of those things for Christmas? Then you remember what they told you about not getting anything. You sigh, here comes the bus for another day at school. Maybe today someone will invite you over...

It's not happy, but I was trying to get the point across. Last week, we successfully packed twenty-five socks for women and twenty-five socks for kids. But it was a struggle. This group of 7th and 8th graders are great, but it's clear they have not been exposed to a lot of community service. They could not understand why we were making these socks and why it was such a big deal. In fact, there was a good deal of complaining. Mostly from the boys, the girls did pretty good and they certainly weren't complaining. The girls tried really hard to stuff everything into the socks. For those of you who don't know what Casey's socks are: you take a pair of thick, wool knee socks, roll one up and stuff it into the toes of the other sock. Then you take full size toiletries (which we shopped for the week before Thanksgiving) and put all of that into the sock. The girls were stuffing the women socks and we had shampoo, toothpaste, a toothbrush, deodorant, a comb, a pack of travel tissues, a bar of soap, a couple pieces of candy, a pack of crackers and cheese, gummi bears (I think they were Elmo), chapstick, gloves and a knit cap. Yes, all of that gets stuffed into the one tube sock. It was tight, but we did it. The girls were complaining about not being able to fit everything. "Can't we leave out the soap?" they would ask. No was our reply. These people have nothing. So, after being somewhat discouraged by the overall attitude of the group, I sat down and wrote that scenario to help them understand. I think it worked. They were at least quiet after I read it. (That says something too, they don't shut up for anything.) It is depressing, but I needed to make a point. We'll see how they do at work camp and next year...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Entertaining and such

We love to entertain. I've talked about it before when I've written posts about all the different things I've cooked. Today I want to talk about the "leftovers". Not the food, but the dishes. Our dishwasher is an older model, circa 1977. I know, that's amazing that it's still going. We had a brand new (GE?) dishwasher back in Jersey. Bill installed it (he only shocked himself a few times) and it was great. But we barely used it. Sure it came in handy after parties, but with just two of us it would take a whole week to fill it. Especially because we have so many "fancy" dishes/pans that instruct the owner to "wash by hand". When we moved here we realized the beauty of the dishwasher here. It can wash everything. Crystal, glass, stainless steel, ceramic, Corning ware, Tupperware, it can take it all. It can do small loads or large loads. It even cleans up after parties. Sometimes we're lazy and we don't start the dishwasher until the next day, but it's not like the dishes are going anywhere. I know some of you have been here and have seen the model we have, for those of you who haven't, it's the EcU brand. It's really well built and, like I said, even as old as it is, keeps on going.

Of course I am talking about me. Someone asked me the other day what kind of dishwasher we had and I foolishly answered, "We don't have a dishwasher." But sure we do, and that dishwasher is me. I really have come to enjoy it, it's sort of a zen time for me. The only downfall is when I get behind (so I try not to) and in the winter, my hands get dry.

I hope you enjoyed my cheeky post, I took a page out of Bill's book.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Finally Finished Friday

The Christmas cards are Finished. They were actually finished and mailed out yesterday. But I'm counting it to fill my post.

The Tree Finally has lights on it, all the way to the top. Read Bill's blog to find out why. I can't bring myself to explain it. He did a much better job.

And FINALLY, I finished reading "Vanity Fair" (you can also read about that in Bill's blog). I checked that book out of the library on November 4th. I just finished it. What you need to understand is that I'm a fast reader. I devoured a Harry Potter book in two days and that was only because I had to work. I enjoy reading a few chapters before I go to sleep at night. I like to snuggle under the down comforter and warm up while reading. I do this every night. I have done this every single night since I checked out that book on November 4th. Plus, I took it with me to New Jersey and read it during the eight hours I was stuck in the Detroit airport and I read it while on all the airplane flights.


You need to understand this book was written in the 1800's and the author, William Makepeace Thackeray was British. He was friends with Dickens. I think I'd rather read Dickens... It was interesting; some of the social commentary was quite dated, while other parts could have easily been written this century. But for the most part it was the language that was outdated. Many words were British English and I just read it until I understood what he was writing. I got the overall story, but there were paragraphs upon paragraphs that could have been omitted. It makes the point of the society which used to exist, but it made "Lord of the Rings", when they're doing nothing but walking through the forest for three quarters of the book, look exciting. Needless to say, I'm done with it. Finally. And, as I pointed out to Bill, it does have a better ending than Harry Potter. By which I mean he wrapped everything up and didn't make it cheesy for the sake of finally reaching the end. If you ever really care to read about the vanities of an 1800's England, by all means I highly recommend this book to you.

Now, to finish decorating the tree and finish the shopping.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I was reading an article that was discussing the worst Christmas gifts received. One of the persons interviewed said that the worst gift she had received was a donation to a charity/cause that she did not support.

I disagree with her logic. We often give gifts in family members names to charities/causes that we support. If you don't know the organizations the other supports, wouldn't you rather support one that you do know? Isn't it the thought that counts?

Would you have a problem if someone gave a gift in your name to a cause/organization that you didn't support? I don't think the interviewed person meant a cause that she didn't believe in. I'm understanding it as simply a cause/charity that she personally does not donate to. Don't they all need our support? Especially at Christmas? I'm just wondering what you, dear reader think?!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I'm talking about the ones you hang by the chimney with care. What do you put in them? In my family, once my sister and I outgrew little toys (although I still haven't outgrown Lego's, that will be in another post for sure) our stockings became filled with useful items; chap-stick, nail files, gum and of course candy.

Bill and I have sort of continued that tradition. Hand lotions, razors and gift cards fill our stockings. But I feel like that has gotten stale. I'm looking for some fun things to add. We're not big on candy, besides there are too many cookies and other baked goodies at this time of year to have candy get in the way. That's what Easter and Halloween are for.

Movies and music go under the tree... so I thought I'd ask the blog world for some suggestions. (For your future reference, do not google "stockings" and then click images. Bad idea. If you're searching for the kind of stockings I'm talking about, search for "Christmas stockings". Much better.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

this is why...

Today is why this was a bad idea. Blogging every day. ugh. I got nothun'. I had a luncheon which the past two years I've gone have been the definition of Joy in my holiday season. You can read about that post here. But this year, I wasn't feeling it. Now I'm sort of bummed. The joy of the day was going to be my post. So, instead I urge you to remember those who fought in World War 2 and Pearl Harbor Day. May our freedom bring you peace today.

Monday, December 6, 2010

holiday cheer

Yesterday we got the lights on the tree only to discover that we need one more strand of lights. Two were dead and the others were checked over with several bulbs getting replaced. Needless to say, we still have to "trim the tree". We got the garland on the banister, the lights on the mantle and various other decorations put out. We had to leave for youth group and when we got home, after eating popcorn, I baked cookies. I've also been cross-stitching ornaments for my Board Members at Quota.

So I was thinking that I may finally be able to rest this week...

Then I remembered, the Christmas letter needs to get mailed out!! So here's to another busy week of December. Truthfully, I don't mind, I like keeping busy.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Deck the Halls"

This year we decided to try something a little more simple and subtle when it came to decorating outdoors. This home has not exactly been easy to hang lights and each year it's been more of a half attempt than anything worth ooh-ing and ah-ing over. Last year we tried hanging lights around the porch with small (3') trees in urns on the porch. Nice, but not fantastic. Unfortunately with our beautiful original casement windows we cannot have candles in each window. They would not be centered which is what gives the candle "look" it's glory. "What about spots on wreaths?" Bill asked me last year. Well, it took me a whole year to ponder that idea and we decided to try it. Here is the result. We love it. And we got the lamp post in our yard to work! (It only took four and a half years to realize that the reason we had power going to it but it wasn't turning on was due to "operator error" and that we just needed to pull the chain attached to the light!!) -Bonus: this lamp is attached to the switch inside the house. We do not have to run outside and pull the little chain every time we want to turn the light on or off. Excellent!

We will try to find some bows for the wreaths. For now, we are happy!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Yes, I'll have a coke"

One of the things I miss most about the south is going to a restaurant, asking for a coke and getting one. Not Pepsi, but Coke. Unfortunately, I think Michigan is owned by Pepsi. Everywhere we go here it's Pepsi. Which is good, because I rarely drink pop anymore (yes, for those of you outside of Michigan/the Midwest we call it "Pop"), so when we go out to eat, if and that's a big IF, the restaurant has Coca Cola, I sometime like to enjoy one. There's nothing like the cold refreshing, bubbly, syrup-y flavor of a fountain coke.

Last night we went to two places, a bowling alley and a restaurant. All I wanted was a coca-cola. I'm not a beer drinker and I'm not going to waste money at the bar at a bowling alley, so my "beer" is a coca-cola. Both places had Pepsi. I was disappointed to say the least and it reminded me of being in Savannah, where everyone serves coca-cola.

On a miscellaneous note we are going to "hang the greens" at our house today. So when you hear about us on the news later (either there is going to be a lot of screaming, someone will get hurt or the house will burn down), say a little prayer.

Friday, December 3, 2010

thanks Bill

Yes, now he has held me to a standard which I cannot escape. Blogging every day. You can read what he said here.

And as he also pointed out, we're on the road. Go on in, help yourselves, take what you want. We have insurance. I typically do not announce when I'm not home, in hopes that it will protect me just a little. Of course my other mantra is, if they really want to break in, they will find a way. Leaving all the lights on, installing deadbolts, having a large dog, none of these are a detraction if the burglar really wants your stuff. It's just that, stuff. It's the cats I worry about more. Is that weird? I think about what would happen if someone broke a window. What would our cats do? Would they stay inside? Of course if Bill were blogging about this topic he would insert something about the current temperature outside being slightly warmer than it is in our house. He's the one who told me to keep the thermostat set low, to save money. I've lived like this for four years and have adjusted (I also like the cold, and the snow...) so when the heat turns on, I easily get too hot. Immediately. Oh what will I be like in thirty years... (I'm being positive that the change won't happen for at least that long.)

Here I am, at my remote "office" (read dining room table at our friend's house) typing away... I need to get back to work. I just wanted to log in for today's post. See you tomorrow!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day 2, so far so good

I'm not going to count every day. I'll lose count. I tried counting the days of my 29th year and didn't do so well. Of course I did try to start counting in the middle of January, or something like that, so it gets complicated... so I won't try it for my year of blogging.

So far, what do you think? No one has commented on my background photo yet. So I'd say it's going well. I have even less followers than Bill does on his blog. Which by the way, if you are reading this, have you checked out his blog? Here's the link: Bill's Blog

Enjoy! His blog name describes it well.

We have snow here. I went out and shoveled yesterday. It only took me twenty minutes, but it the snow that if I didn't shovel and drove over it, the tire tracks would stay until March and would become ice tracks. I had fun the entire time I was shoveling. I really don't mind it. Yes, I'm weird. I love the snow, I don't mind shoveling it (ask me again in February), as long as I have time and I'm not in a hurry to go somewhere (when does that happen?) I enjoy it. I make snow angels and I even shovel the neighbors sidewalk.

Speaking of which, we have new neighbors! We had seen them there, looking at the house, Bill had them all figured out (he watches too much CSI and other investigative tv). Then we talked to the neighbors across the street and found out that they had taught the prospective buyers. That was way back in October, maybe even September. The other day we noticed the same car back in the driveway and two people got out and went inside. They were in there long enough to take down the big signs that were in the windows. Now we wait to see when they move in. I think I'll bake some cookies to take over to welcome them when they do. Look for that post here!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A year of blogging

Yes *gulp* an entire year of blogging. Every day. By me. Hopefully. Why would I do that? Well, you can read a little bit of the explanation here. I decided to start today, December 1st. It's the first day of snow fall that has stuck. It's the first day of December (my favorite month) and why not start today? So for one year, I will [try to] blog and post a picture. A year in the life of Emily.

So to start this year long adventure, my first post is about a new wallpaper for my desktop computer. I like to change it to go with the season and have decided to let you help me. I have these three to choose from for the "winter".


All three were taken at Meijer Gardens in January. It was the first time I had gone there and taken a walk outside in the snow. Please comment on which one you like and the winner will be my wallpaper! I'm giving you a deadline though, you have to comment by Friday. Yes, you only have two days. But I'm not waiting forever to change my picture (it's currently a bin of apples).

Thanks! See you tomorrow.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Please put the lid down

For those of you who were lucky enough to have escaped watching the video of what happens when you flush a toilet, consider yourself lucky. It is forever ingrained in my mental imagery. Here is a link where you can at least read about what happens. I ask you to please read this, and then consider how many times you've brushed your teeth after flushing the toilet without putting the lid down.

This is not about men who don't put toilet seat down. This is about the lid and covering the toilet and all that splashes out of it when it's flushed. (by the way, I think I know more men who put the lid down than women)

We have a poorly laid out bathroom. It is cramped and has inadequate storage. As a result our toothbrushes are relegated to the toothbrush holder that sits on a ledge that wraps around two of the walls. Those two walls are adjacent to the toilet.
see photo of shelf

The toilet is below. The shelf sits on top of wainscoting which is probably about five feet tall. So it's not that close to the toilet. However, when you flush a toilet, all those microbes fly out and land all over the bathroom.

The reason I bring this up is because in our other bathroom, a small powder room, we have a mirror hanging on the wall above the toilet (did I mention it's a small powder room?). This morning I noticed splash marks on the mirror. Ew. That means someone forgot to put the toilet lid down when they flushed. This is for the good of everyone that I share this with you. I'm not pointing fingers, I simply ask that you please put the lid down when you flush the toilet.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


There is a woman who created a scrapbook that let's you journal your life for a year. You take a photo every day and then you journal a little bit. Each page of the scrapbook has enough space for one week. By the end you've completed one year. One of my fellow Quotarians is creating one of her own and I have been captured in several of her photos. I really like the idea, although the idea of making another scrapbook when I have three unfinished ones is a bit daunting. However, this woman also created an online version because it was such a popular idea. Instead of paying for all of this, I decided I could probably just do it on my blog. Which means I will have to maintain a daily post. If there is anyone out there who reads this, other than all the spam, you know that I am not fastidious about blogging. To get me in the habit before I begin my year, I had a thought which I decided to share. (I am also trying to decide when I should start my year. As my friend pointed out, she was going to wait until January 1st, then realized it doesn't have to be a calendar year, and is in the process of journaling her 10th year of marriage, so it doesn't have to be anything special.)

Yesterday on the radio, the dj was reading a study about the states that have banned texting while driving. According to the study, there have been an increase in accidents in those five states with said ban. It went on to say that the increase is possibly caused by teenagers trying to hide that they're texting while driving.

We all hear or have seen the crazy things that people do while driving. I know I have been very tempted to text and after having attempted it decided I was not going to do that ever again. It's too dangerous. For those who think they can do more than one thing while driving should really have a friend record them driving while distracted and see how well they actually do. Not how well they think they do.

I digress, that was not my original point. What I wanted to discuss was one of the things in particular that I have heard of women doing while driving. No, it's not shaving, although that is VERY scary. It's using one of those eyelash curlers. Seriously?? I can't use one while standing still in front of a mirror. I've tried. And I'm a contact lens wearer, but I see that thing coming at me and I flinch faster than Bill does when he tries to use eye drops. No way am I going to use one of those things. Honestly, my eyelashes could benefit from using one, but that thing is dangerous. I nearly ripped out all of my eyelashes the one time I did try it. Obviously I wasn't using it right, or else I wouldn't be so terrified of using it. But this is why I am very scared at the thought of someone using one while driving.

When did driving your car become secondary to everything else?

Monday, September 27, 2010

for Alex

Our friend Alex is planning to visit us. It will be her birthday while she is here. I would like to do something nice for her, as far as cooking goes, while she is here. She got cheated out of one of my delicious meals the last time she came to visit. She had asked if she would get to eat one of my delicious dishes during her last visit, and while I promised her she could, she ended up visiting with her husband's relatives who also live here in town. So they missed out. I am going to make it up to her. *rubbing hands together* I am already thinking of what to make!! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I love cooking, have I mentioned that? We had friends who came to visit this past weekend and I made a creamy risotto for the first time. It was amazing. I am making that again, soon. This time I'm adding shrimp.

Back to Alex, I have many choices of favorite dishes to fix. Help me? She will be here Saturday and Sunday. Saturday for breakfast is easy: my chocolate chip pancakes (or blueberry or both) with the homemade cinnamon syrup. Lunch will be a lighter affair to save room for dinner and dessert. Alex is going to have to tell me what she would like for dessert.

But for dinner, there are so many choices... a pasta dish? Lasagna (from Paula Deen, so there's something like seven different kinds of cheese in it), risotto, cheesy baked ravioli, the list goes on.

Or one of my many varied chicken dishes? This last weekend I cooked Chicken alla Roma (chicken with tomatoes, red pepper, proscuitto, onion in a sauce).

Or soup? I have a great homemade tomato soup (with Sherry), a cheesy beer soup, potato soup... with sandwiches? I love sandwiches.

Or pizza, or a calzone. I feel as though I should start rhyming, but I'm not quite in the mood to do that.

My recipe notebooks overflow with suggestions. What do you suggest I choose??

Friday, September 24, 2010

another homemade dinner

While I think of a clever title for this post, I will go ahead and start writing...

Bill has posted a funny commentary on microwaves and salt (or No-Salt, which exists for a longer period of time in his post that it did in actual life). I had secretly hoped he would end his rant with something positive about my cooking which has come a long way in the ten years we've been married. A very long way. I owe most of that to two people: Giada and Emeril. I "heart" Food Network and because of these two cooks, I am more confident in the kitchen. I should probably read "Julie and Julia" or at least see the movie. I have a feeling I would be able to relate.

Back to my post, it's not really a secret anymore, I just told you. Instead I'll just toot my own horn, or something and share yet another delicious cooked meal that I made. From scratch.

Gnudi and Crostini Alla Roma.

Gnudi means naked in Italian, and in this case it refers to ravioli. That just means no pasta shell, just the filling. How does that work you may be thinking. The filling consists of ricotta, spinach, parmesan cheese, two egg yolks (which are the binder) and two eggs. After mixing it all together, you shape it into flattened balls and roll it in flour. Put them in boiling water and four minutes later you have ravioli without the pasta. I love it. This was only the second time I made it, the first was something like a catastrophe in the kitchen, but I learned and I was prepared for the sticky mess that it makes. I had also made homemade marinara sauce, which I thought tasted great.

The second part of this meal (because let's face it, gnudi isn't very filling since you don't have the pasta to make you feel full) was crostini. Ciabatta bread, cut and toasted. Then take a slice of proscuitto and top it with a slice of fresh mozzerella. Back into the oven. While it's baking the second time and melting the cheese, I take butter and melt it. I add minced garlic, then drizzle that over the crostini when it comes out of the oven. Heaven. I am almost sure of it.

If your mouth is watering, give us a call. We enjoy guests and have tons of room in the dining room now that we've gotten rid of the piano!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Vacation!! the last day

Here we are, finally. The last day of our vacation photos. We checked out of the hotel and waited for the bellman, then the elevator, and then the car. It took an hour to actually get out. I felt like we were in Hotel California. But we made it. We headed to Yolk, a breakfast place that I heard about, but cannot remember where. There was a wait, but it was worth it. Bill had the steak and eggs, I had the crepe platter. Wow, the crepes were so delicious. They didn't need butter or syrup, in fact when I added the syrup just to try it, that ruined them! We didn't need to eat again until later on our way home. I don't even think we were really that hungry, we just ate because we figured we should.

I digress. Before we left Chicago, we went to the Museum of Science and Industry. We parked in the parking garage, so I didn't get any pictures from the outside of the building. But we took a couple of pictures inside. Here's what we saw:

The 727, and the other airplanes hanging around

a couple of clowns

the U-505, which we toured. This was my favorite exhibit. I think Bill was torn between the planes and this.

the main gallery.

That was it. That was our 10th Anniversary extraordinaire vacation. I hope you enjoyed the photos. And that it was just as boring as a slide show in our home (although we would have made popcorn for you).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Vacation! day six

Okay, so these posts are lasting longer than the entire vacation. But it's fun for me to post one day at a time. First, because the photo uploader uploads the photos backward. If I want it to be easy I have to think of what photo I want to be last, and attach it first. I don't always remember. Then I have to sit here and move the photos around in the post, which should be easy, but is not. Second, I get to relive the vacation and see if I remembered everything in my journal. Third, it is hopefully less of a burden to you. I hope you continue to enjoy our vacation pictures as my memory of the vacation quickly fades into routine...

Saturday morning we had tickets for a 10am architectural river cruise. It was another beautiful day and perfect for taking some pictures of the amazing architecture in Chicago. I plan on framing some of them to add to our collection in our living room.

waiting for the tour to start

lots of sunlight pours down over the city, thanks to the setback requirements when skyscrapers first started going up

this is one of the choices for the living room

We saw this sign back at the entrance to Navy Pier. I could not resist taking a photo.

And what are they doing?

We got back to Navy Pier and decided to eat lunch, which was smart because it was already getting crowded. Then we walked to the end of the pier, or as close as we could get because it was all roped off for the Tall Ships. You had to have a ticket to even look at them and they were strategically placed so that you could not even sneak a peak from the restrooms! We decided we have seen enough tall ships and didn't need to purchase tickets, so we would walk back on the inside of the arcade. Did you know the biggest museum/collection of stained glass is housed in Navy Pier? Neither did we, but we do now!

This was in the floor

If you know First UMC Grand Rapids, this will look familiar. We have one of the last Tiffany stained glass windows and it is very similar to this one.

I love the pastoral scenes

We will never forget.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Vacation! part five

This is day two in Chicago. Bill and I decided not to go to the museum of Science and Industry on Friday and we would go on Sunday on our way out of town, instead. I think it was a wise decision since the weather was beautiful. We stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for our morning caffeine and took a nice walk. We walked to the bridge on Michigan and were about to cross it when I looked down. Not smart for someone who has height problems. Instead of crossing the bridge we took some pictures and walked back to shop at Crate and Barrel.

It was a nice quiet morning. We went back to the hotel and did what most people who have been married for ten years do, and ignored each other while sitting on our laptops. We decided to make a lunch (we brought a cooler full of supplies) and then walked up to Lincoln Park Zoo. Yes, it was about two miles away, but who wants to drive less than two miles? The walk wasn't going to kill us, so we set off. We walked along the lake, until we had to cross over to get to the park.

The zoo is on the north side of the park and it's free! What you can't see in this picture are the dragonflies. They show up in this photo as black spots. If you click on it to enlarge the photo, you'll see them.

We saw all kinds of animals and we took lots of photos. I think my favorite were the lions. She was out sunning herself up on the rock so everyone could see. If you look close you can see her mate...

He's not easy to spot in the shadows, so I walked around and took his photo from the other side, can you find him?

This sign made us laugh. Really?

I'm also fond of giraffes, so here is one, the other put his head down and is just behind the rocks.

We decided we were hungry enough to stop and eat on the way back. After we looked up restaurants on the gps, then looked at reviews on the blackberry we picked one and headed toward Wells Street. We discovered that we're old and we eat too early because the restaurant we had chosen wasn't open until 6pm. We kept walking, and figured since we were in "Old Town" we would find something. Almost across the street we found this.

Topo Gilgio. Italian sounded good, so we stopped here. We got an anti-pasta plate that was bigger than our table. It had salami, olives, artichoke, some kind of quiche, cheese, red peppers, mushrooms... I'm sure there was more, but I can't remember. Bill ordered the special; black linguine in a cream sauce with shrimp, scallops and salmon. I had rigatoni with pancetta in a red sauce. Both were delicious!! We had to walk back very slowly because we were stuffed and we were bringing home leftovers! We drank our last bottle of Stringio (from the winery we went to in Tuscany) and had a relaxing evening, resting with our feet propped up.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vacation! part four

Thursday, we drove to Chicago. We had bought tickets online to tour the Robie House which is on the campus of University of Chicago. We got to the house early and actually found a parking spot! We were on the 2 o'clock house tour, so we took the walking neighborhood tour and then ate lunch. The tour took us around the quad and over to Rockefeller Chapel. The Chapel was open so we were able to walk inside.

outside looking at the chapel

inside the chapel looking at the ceiling

in the courtyard of Ida Noyes Hall

We walked over to 57th street and walked until we found a restaurant that looked good. It was Medici and it was delicious! Bill had a "beef stroganoff" burger and I had the special, a meat lover's calzone. Then we headed back for our tour. You are not allowed to take pictures inside which is okay because it's currently under restoration and there is nothing special to see. Especially not after we have been in the Meyer May house here in Grand Rapids, where it's furnished, fully restored and you are allowed to take pictures. Here are a few of the photos from the outside.

It was one of the first houses in the city to have a three car garage!

From there we headed to the Allerton Hotel on Michigan and Huron. We were upgraded to the suite, which was awesome (you can see pictures on facebook). We had dinner reservations at Riva on Navy Pier. We enjoyed our dinner. The food was spectacular and the view was amazing.

Bill had the clam chowder and I had an artichoke stuffed with cheese appetizer. Bill had the swordfish over a creamy shrimp risotto and I had the pork chop. Of course we had dessert and espressos.

It was a lovely anniversary evening. On our stroll back to the hotel we were able to watch the fireworks that were shot off at Navy Pier.