Monday, December 31, 2012

The "flavor"

I could have sworn that I have written about "the bread", but I can't find it anywhere. Mom, Dad? Do you remember reading about it? Or do you just remember it?

It was Easter 2011. I made "the bread" to go with our dinner.

There was a moment of panic when the smell hit the kitchen. The bread was under the broiler and it smelled like it was burning.

I wasn't worried. It was doing exactly what it needed to be doing.

My mom said it was burning and I said, "No! That's the flavor!"

Hence, it is now known in our family as "the flavor". Not "the bread".

Since I never blogged about it (or at least can't find where I did) here's the link to that delicious recipe. Try it with your next dinner. Follow the instructions and wait. Don't get impatient like my mom. You definitely want "the flavor."

The reason why I'm telling you about the flavor bread is because PW blogged about another of her favorite breads. This post is actually older than "the bread" post. But she just reposted it and it was the first time I had seen it.

Check this out.

I have a feeling that this will be replacing "the bread" in our house. I will be trying this soon.

And, if you read through the recipe, don't fret. I read several of the comments and one urges everyone to use kalamata olives instead of the canned. I will definitely be using the kalamata.

And I promise to post Christmas pictures on here soon. I haven't forgotten.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

my other new gig

One of my jobs is the Wedding Coordinator at our church.

I mention this because we had a wedding today. It was one of our well-known families. Their two other daughters were married in our church. Today was the youngest's wedding.

Here's what I've learned about my job that is not fun: typing the marriage license.

This is quite possibly the most nerve-racking job I've ever done.

Yes, I could hand-write it, but since I was taught to type them, I feel as though I must.

The instructions that come with the license are very clear. No corrections are to be made. White-out or otherwise.

Yikes.

You can see why that would make me nervous.

On the other hand, the part about my job that I do like is opening the door to the chapel so that the groom can see his bride for the first time.

Wow, what a special moment. I don't peek in (because I don't need to be in the pictures), but I do see the groom's face.

Priceless.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Can I get a high five?

Yes, I do have pictures from Christmas and I will post them.

But first I had to share this with you.

Of all the potatoes (and there were a lot), we got the bag with this potato.

Let me tell you how.

There are potato chip factories in Indiana that sample each truck load of potatoes. If the potatoes don't meet the standards of the factory, the potato shipment is rejected. Instead of throwing these potatoes out, a group has organized a distribution at a church. One of the men from my parents church said he would take 1,000 of the ten pound bags.

When he showed up, they had 1,500. He said he couldn't take that many. He was told take them or leave them.

It was all or nothing.

So he took them.

My parents have been taking bags to give to as many people as they can, like Spencer's baby sitter, my sister, Bill and me.

Last night, when I reached in the bag to pull out potatoes, I pulled out this one.

It's the mitten!

The Lower Peninsula!

I had to take a picture.

Can you believe out of 1,500 bags of potatoes that we got the bag with this one in it?

Now we can eat it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

"C" is for cookie

I won't go on a tirade about how the Cookie Monster is no longer the Cookie Monster.

I'm not good at tirades.

I don't like discord.

But I will talk about cookies.

Because I like cookies.

I baked a lot of cookies this year.

Last year's count can be found here.

This year, I did indeed make a ginger crinkle. I also made frosted sugar cookies, hershey kiss peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip bars, pecan puffs, and these amazing Nutella stuffed triple chocolate chip cookies.

Wow. I'm making those again.

And again.

But for the cookie exchange, I made peppermint kiss cookies.

I didn't let the first batch cool enough, so the kisses started to melt a little...

As you can see, I rolled half in green sugar and the other half in regular sugar. These are tasty and thanks Heather O. for the recipe!


And thanks to Bill for the amazing new cookie sheets! The cookies are perfectly baked, not burnt on the bottoms. And for the sugar cookies, I was supposed to grease the cookie sheet, but didn't. But the cookies didn't stick! That's how amazing my new baking sheets are.

Mmmm cookies.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

these snowflakes don't melt

Snowflake update:

While Mother Nature has not dropped nearly enough snow on West Michigan, the mailman has delivered quite the pile.
(these two, and I've added a third since I snapped this picture, are on the window above the sink)

I'm utterly impressed. I love every single one and just like the real things, each one is unique and beautiful. Thanks again to all who have sent them, and there's plenty of room for more if you haven't gotten to them yet! Don't know what I'm talking about? Read this post, and join the fun!


Disregard the yucky rain. Perhaps all these beautiful snowflakes will inspire (or challenge) Mother Nature to make some of the real stuff)!?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

the birthday post

Of course I'm going to post on my birthday. I had a wonderful day.

It all started on Tuesday when Bill and I went to Meijer Gardens to see the Christmas display. (My renewal was my gift from the in-laws, thanks Don & Judy!) They're open late on Tuesdays and, of course, the lights look better at night. Here are a few of the pictures I took.

An ornament on the Great Britain tree.

Just a photo of ornaments.


Pretty.


One of the five newest additions to the train scene (each of these Grand Rapids landmarks are made by volunteers, and are made out of natural materials!)

Jersey Junction! (Bill asked if there was a little diorama of me since I'm there so often, har har.)

The main atrium (this was not new, but I got a good picture of it).

The star in the real atrium.

Today started off with the birthday song by Bill. Then, while I was walking into the bathroom to get ready, I did something odd and my coffee mug flew out of my hand and smashed all over the bathroom floor and me.

I changed my jeans while Bill cleaned up my mess (what a great guy!). Then I went out to breakfast with Sami. She stuck a candle in my breakfast sandwich (don't worry, I didn't eat all of that) and sang to me.

I did some shopping. I came home and enjoyed an afternoon of relaxing. Bill and I went to a wonderful dinner at a local restaurant called Republic. They support the local farms. I had a risotto with beef tips (delicious) and Bill had the pork schnitzel (also delicious). Of course I had the flourless chocolate cake for dessert.

Despite the fact that I now check a different box (no more 25-34 year old) I had a great day! Thanks to all of you who helped make it that way.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12.12.12

Twelve reasons why having your birthday twelve days before Christmas isn't fair:

12. All of your birthday coupons coincide with Christmas coupons and you often end up using them to buy gifts for others instead of yourself (and you don't get any good deals any other time of year)

11. People don't even send Christmas cards anymore, so they send you one card wishing you a happy birthday and a Merry Christmas at the same time, to "save on postage"

10. You get the Twelve Days of Christmas stuck in your head every year

9. Your friends have Christmas parties that are more important than your birthday party

8. Doing any outdoor activity (picnic, going to the beach) requires wearing several layers of clothing which means the minute you zip up the last zipper means you have to go to the bathroom and everyone spends more time inside than outside for the activity

7. Your birthday gifts come wrapped in Christmas paper

6. Your birthday gifts are Christmas themed

5. No one bakes you a cake, instead they give you cookies

4. You may get snowed in on your birthday (that isn't necessarily a bad thing), but if you happen to like snow, it never snows on your birthday

3. Your birthday occasionally falls on a Friday and everyone avoids you because it's bad luck

2. There's no money leftover to take you out to dinner because it was spent on Christmas presents, so your birthday dinner is at McDonald's (what do you like from the dollar menu?)

And the number one reason having your birthday twelve days before Christmas isn't fair is...

1. no good reason whatsoever, it just seemed like fun to count down on 12.12.12

And, just in case you hadn't figured it out, my birthday next year will be 12.13.13 on Friday!

The following year, 12.13.14 there will be a big party. Because 12.13.14 will be on a Saturday. So save the date. I want a(nother) birthday party with all my friends and family there. No Christmas party excuses this time (see number nine above).

Friday, December 7, 2012

the verde verdict

A few weeks ago Bill and I were watching "Diners, Drive-ins & Dives". In that particular episode, they made pork chili verde. It looked amazing, so I did a quick search and found a similar recipe. I made notes to make it like they did in the restaurant featured. The other night I decided to give it a try.

I used two poblano chilies, two jalapeƱos, and several tomatillos.

After cutting out the seeds, I threw all of those into the food processor along with garlic, salt and pepper.

During my processing, the phone rang. As Wedding Coordinator for the church, I am prone to answering the phone whenever I am home. Since I was busy, Bill answered. It was a bride, so I took the call.

At some point, I touched my lips.

Despite the fact that I had washed my hands several times while cutting the peppers, there was still oil on my hands and I transferred that to my lips.

They were on fire.

Holy moly, I have never experienced anything like that before.

Bill suggested I pour a glass of milk and stick my lips in it.

I did.

That did not help.

I resorted to running the water in the sink and sticking my lips under that to wash away the oil.

That worked.

I bet it looked ridiculous.

The chili was not ridiculous.

It wasn't even that hot. After I processed the peppers, I added them to a pot with pork tenderloin chopped into cubes. I added four cups of water (I could have used chicken stock) and boiled it for about an hour. I made long-grain, organic rice in that time. The chili mellowed out and was a yummy alternative to Bill's famous chili.

I must be on a green streak... I just realized along with chili verde, I also made broccoli and cheese soup. That too was a lovely shade of green.

The other dishes I made happened to have red (tomatoes) in them. I must be in the festive, holiday mood!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

the numbers game

     two hundred and thirty

     one hundred (for men)

     one hundred (for women)

     thirty (for kids)

That is how many socks the youth stuffed Sunday night for Casey's socks.

There were at least a dozen youth and leaders there to stuff.

We got them all stuffed, tied and carried over to Wesley Hall where they will stay until Christmas Eve morning when they are given away.

It is quite a sight to see three tables heavy-laden with all the "stuffings".

We granted the wishes of a few men who, last year, asked for t-shirts. Not only did I remember their wish, but will be giving the men choices as to what size t-shirt they would like.

Sometimes there are a few people who don't appreciate the hard work that goes into this.

It doesn't matter to me. My hope (and prayer) is that at least one person, on Christmas Eve morning, will appreciate this gift.

It is also amazing to me that we did actually finish the socks. There was a moment around 6:15pm that I wasn't sure we would be done by 7pm.

It didn't hurt that I told the youth: for every ten socks you stuff, you get a piece of candy.

Have I mentioned I am not above bribery?

I would have loved to have posted pictures.

But we needed all hands on-deck to stuff. And only at the end of the night, when the socks had been carried away and we were cleaning up, did I remember my camera.

Drat.

In my mind I took lots of pictures.

I did take pictures of the kitchen with its final coat of paint. And the snowflakes now hanging on the sliding glass door. Let it snow!!! (Don't forget to cut, paint or otherwise craft a snowflake to send/give to me to hang, help me fill the door!)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

clean sheet day

I haven't written about clean sheet day in awhile and as I was making the bed I thought of Murphy's law applied to cats and bedding.

When a cat pukes on the bed and the owner finally puts a duvet over said bed to protect the sheets from cat puke, the cat will never puke on the bed again.

However, within minutes of removing the protective duvet, the cat will promptly jump onto the bed and puke.

Oh well.

Clean sheet day is still one of those things that makes me think I should be related to Martha Stewart.

It's also clean-the-house day. It now smells lemon-y fresh. That will soon be replaced with Christmas smells.

Clean things are nice.

Friday, November 30, 2012

the fat lady hasn't sung

Do you know what today is?

Yes. It is Friday.

Yes. It is the eve of Advent and I started our Christmas cards.

Yes. It is November 30th.

Yes. It is officially my last day of blogging for another year.

I didn't become famous. I didn't win the lottery. I probably left many of you wishing you could get back the time you spent reading my inane writings. I think some days I bored myself.

No I didn't. I enjoyed what I have written and I have enjoyed looking back and seeing how my writing has grown. I have enjoyed writing about food, projects around the house, trips and everything else.

Don't worry. I'm not going to blog every day for another year. I just can't. There were days when it was just too difficult. Some days there just isn't much to say. I will keep sharing these things as I find they are worth sharing. Don't worry, I'll include pictures too.

Thanks for keeping up with me these last two years. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

trim the tree

Trimming the tree has always been one of my favorite parts about Christmas. As I child, I loved the old boxes in which the glass ornaments were lovingly stored. I liked hanging tinsel on the tree until the year the cat puked it up.

I do not ever recall hanging lights on the tree.

No, that is a job saved for adulthood.

Oh the joys of hanging lights on the tree.

Today, I helped Gwen with her Christmas decorations.

First we had to get the boxes off the shelved in the basement. Then she looked through each box (which numbers and size are much less than my own) and determined whether or not there was anything in it that she wanted to use this year.

Then we took everything out of the boxes and carried it upstairs.

It would have been easier to carry the boxes upstairs and then remove things, but I was there to help not tell her how to do things.

I digress. Many minutes later it was discovered that she was missing a couple of key items that she wanted to display.

We went back to the basement and went through boxes until we found them.

Back to the living room. Only a few minutes later she discovered something else was missing.

Back to the basement, through the boxes, and I came up empty-handed. I went back upstairs. This time Gwen came downstairs with me. Immediately she found what she was looking for (I had actually found it but didn't realize that box was the one I was looking for, funny how that happens when you don't know what color/size the box is).

Over Thanksgiving, Bill and I discussed when our Christmas decorations will be hung. It has to be after this weekend because of Casey's socks.

This was my trunk. Remember, the youth went shopping and all of those bags are already in the storage closet.

These bags were the result of the shopping trip I took with Bill and then various stops I made on several separate occasions.

Back to decorating, it was fun to help Gwen. She had a few stories of where her special pieces came from. That is the part I enjoy most, thinking back to where those special ornaments came from; I guess hanging the lights is just part of it.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

for the love of money

I remember when I was in college and the Power Ball reached 96 million.

I declared that if I won and took the payout, which in 1990-whatever would have been let's say 50 million for easy math (and because oddly enough you can't google "what is the payout after taxes of 96 million in the year 1990-something?"), I would give ten million to my parents, ten million to my sister and a million to each of my friends, I would still be left with over twenty million dollars.

And I probably would have discovered I had a lot more friends than I thought.

And now, today, the Power Ball is five hundred million.

Bill bought tickets.

I told him we better at least win the $50 that those cost.

You can't win if you don't play.

Your odds of winning are one in 125 million.

I think those are pretty good odds, considering.

No, I really do.

Although you are more likely to get bit by a shark while swimming in a pool, according to Ellen.

And you have better odds of getting hit by lightning.

I'm going to wait for the Power Ball numbers outside. Let's see which one has better odds now!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

what I'm reading

As I said the other day, Bill and I finally made it to the library. I picked up the "Screwtape Letters" by CS Lewis and "The Descendants" by Kaui Hart Hemmings. I am also reading "The Journey" by Adam Hamilton which is our Advent study this year in church.

I like reading and I am so glad that even though I would often try to bring a book to the table to read during dinner, my parents never discouraged my reading.

I remember Saturdays spent reading. Dad would be helping the Scouts, Mom would go to the grocery store and I would stay home and read.

One in particular memory took place in the dining room. I read the book while laying on the floor. It was a dark, stormy day.

Why was I in the dining room, on the floor? We had couches in the family room in the basement. That would have been much more comfortable.

I was reading a Trixie Belden book. Honestly, I was probably scared, so I stayed in the dining room where I had a clear view outside. You know, in case the bad guys tried to sneak up on me.

I also remember reading in the car. Every time we got in the car, I had a book to read.

I have one other book on my current list, Anna Karenina. We have it on the iPad.

I believe that if the book was good enough to be made into a movie, it's good enough to be read. Hence  "The Descendants". I will of course be picturing George Clooney regardless that I never watched the movie.

Monday, November 26, 2012

it's a cats life

Ever since we got back home from Vegas, Juliette has been all about sitting on my lap.

Currently she is stretched out on my lap. Being a good human/cat owner, I am leaning off the couch to use my laptop on the ottoman. It's not at all comfortable for me. But I'm keeping her happy.

I'm a cat owner.

Is there a group for that?

Hugs go out to our friends who have recently lost beloved pets. It's very sad to lose a pet, they are family. Just because they're furry or have hooves, doesn't mean they're loved any less.

It took me a few weeks to get over Tails and a longer time to get over Felix. We extend our sympathy to all who have gone through this, recently or not.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

and so it begins...

the Christmas shopping. Officially, I started tonight. Unofficially I started back in August or September, but I can't tell you what I bought. I like surprises.

I didn't get the second coat of paint on the kitchen walls or trim. The first coat looks good though! I'll take a picture when there's good lighting.

I have my first snowflakes to tape on the new doors, but I'm waiting until all the painting is finished. I'll take pictures of those too! There's still time to cut, paint or creatively make snowflakes.

I also forgot to give props to Bill for installing the new smoke detector yesterday. And he cleaned up some stuff in the basement.

Here's to getting the kitchen finished before we decorate for Christmas!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

getting things done on a long holiday weekend

Today was a busy day.

We walked over to our friends' house to take care of their kitty while they visit family.

We stopped at the Library to pick up a couple of books I've had on hold. Bill found a book too so when we have time to read, we're set.

We ran a couple of errands.

When we got back home I began painting the wall around the sliding glass door. You remember, the door we had replaced back over the 4th of July week? Yeah, it's taken us this long to get around to painting it.

I primed it a few weeks ago; one of the last nice, warm fall days. Yesterday I primed the second coat and Bill checked to see if we had the wall color in the basement.

We did not.

One of the errands today was to purchase color-matched paint. Fortunately we only need a quart. The wall has one coat and I went around and touched up parts of the other walls while I was at it.

I also got a coat of the trim painted. We're using a white that we had in the basement. I discovered it was actually used in the bathroom upstairs. I'm not sure we have the paint that was used on the trim in the kitchen. If it is the same trim color, it's badly discolored and in need of a fresh coat.

But since it was late in the day, I decided I'll tackle the rest of the trim tomorrow. Instead I cleaned the bathroom.

Bill filled in an old telephone jack that was in an odd location in the kitchen. Then he ran the vacuum downstairs and I ran it upstairs.

Now it's time to relax. Dinner is over, dishes are washed and the laundry is finished.

Long holiday weekends = getting things done around the house.

Friday, November 23, 2012

my favorite roasted veggie dish

Here are the pictures from yesterday's vegetable medley.

Here is the before

and here is after they were roasted.

You'll notice I added some corn.

After a couple of tries, I think I've found the best tasting dish. Start with a couple Russet potatoes, a few red potatoes, a sweet potato or two, a red onion and carrots. Peel and cut them into large chunks, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 425 degree oven for forty minutes, stirring a couple of times. Halfway through I added the corn.

It's my new favorite roasted veggie holiday dish. And it's healthy! I was asked if sugar was added. The answer is no, the roasting caramelizes the veggies bringing out their naturally sweet flavors.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving tip #13

Or a "tip for peeling carrots". I have discovered that it is much easier to peel a carrot if you start out holding the skinny end. Peel the fat end first. Then turn it around and peel the skinny end. My first instinct has always been to peel the skinny end first. But then you have no grip to hold the carrot while you peel the fat end. It can easily slip out of your hand. Trust me, it's much easier to peel the fat end first.

I just thought you might find that helpful for Thanksgiving dinner.

Of course it may have been more helpful had I posted it when I thought about it ten hours ago. But I was too busy cutting the vegetables for my new favorite holiday dish.

That will be a post for another day.

Why #13? Because I'm not sure I've given any tips before and I didn't want to start with #1 because I didn't want you to think it was the most important tip. Besides #13 is my favorite number, so I started there.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

fa la la la la

I love listening to Christmas music. I have been known to listen to it during the off-season and not just because my iPod hasn't been updated in four years, but because that is how much I like it.

However, I am finding that the commercials this holiday season are ruining Christmas songs. There is one retailer in particular which historically has had clever marketing in their commercials. Instead they've chosen the annoying route and it's ruining my favorite type of music.

I just thought I'd share. 'Tis the season.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fakes-giving

We postponed dinner yesterday because I'm having an allergy/sinus/nasal congestion issue. Yesterday was bad and I took a little nap.

Today has gone better.

Bill helped me get the pork roast in the oven (we're not having turkey because the majority of the family is not fond of turkey and since it's "Fakes-giving" it doesn't have to be traditional) and I got the roasted veggies cut and in the oven. Peggy is making a salad and the Wild Rice Casserole. I got dessert made yesterday, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie.

Dinner is going to be wonderful.

We even watched football.

Happy Fakes-giving!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

it's just another Saturday

If you are a man and a college football fan, I hope you are not a car salesman.

We went car shopping with Don & Judy today. Bill had gone with Don yesterday and they had narrowed the search down to two cars.

The two car dealerships were busy. All the tvs were tuned to football games. There was no time for the salesmen to stand around and enjoy the games.

I enjoyed most of the Iowa/Michigan game.

They have bought a new car. They will go pick it up on Monday after they take us to the airport.

Friday, November 16, 2012

look here!

Judy, Peggy, Ann and I went to the outlet mall today. It was an interesting experience.

Every single kiosk person was vying for attention. They are close to harassment they are so aggressive. It was annoying.

Clearly I am from the midwest and this was simply not acceptable.

Then we got to the Food Court. It was the same way.

I wanted to crawl under a table and rock myself until it all stopped.

Apparently this is how the outlet malls work these days.

We don't have an outlet mall near us in Grand Rapids.

I'm okay with that.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Surprising Don

I didn't blog yesterday because Bill and I spent part of the day on an airplane. We flew to Las Vegas to surprise Don (Bill's dad) for his birthday which is actually December 2nd. But that gets into the holidays and Peggy won't be able to get off from work so this worked out better. Plus he was totally surprised.

We were waiting for him at a restaurant with Ann & Vern (friends of theirs who live nearby). Don and Judy were coming to meet them to celebrate Ann & Vern's anniversary.

This was all prearranged. Ann & Vern's anniversary is in February. Don didn't know that.

He walked into the restaurant and looked all around. He looked everywhere except at us. We were sitting at a table right in the middle of the room with a huge balloon bouquet.

Don was so focused on looking for Ann & Vern that he looked right past us. By the time he was about three or four feet away he finally noticed us. Then he realized it was us.

It was fantastic!

I didn't have my camera (I don't think I could have captured the moment anyway, I was partially behind a fake tree) so no pictures.

We pulled off the surprise. Whew!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

my next crochet project

I started a new crochet project today.

I will of course take pictures to post on here once it is finished.

It started out as a scarf. I was trying to use up some yarn. I knew I wasn't going to have enough, but I decided to see how far I could get.

Turns out, not very far.

So I took it out and found something fun to try. It's an Amigurumi. I didn't know what that was either until someone told me about it. Check it out here. Basically they are cute crocheted (or knitted) stuffed animals. 

The kitty and bear that I made were Amigurumi patterns. There are a lot of different websites where you can find patterns. The one I linked to looks a little more complex than the app I have on the iPad. Don't get too excited about what I'm making.

I may have it finished by Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Customer service is not dead

A day spent running errands is not for the faint-hearted.

Today was no different. It sure seemed like an epic adventure.

Let me start with the shopping adventure last night that was for Casey's socks.

For those of you who haven't read my blog (or forgot), our Jr. High youth stuff pairs of socks with toiletries. These socks are given out at Christmas Eve breakfast to the homeless and whoever else needs a warm meal, aka "our neighbors".

This year we are stuffing 230 socks. We shopped for 130 socks last night. The youth and adults were split into three groups. We spent close to $900. I am fortunate enough to have a credit card to pay for all of this.

When I got home, I happened to be looking at the receipt and noticed that we had been charged twice for something that I know we only bought one. I had told each group to pick up a gift for another program we support (our tutoring program helps buy presents for kids in the program, the volunteers found out that the parents often don't receive gifts, we now encourage gifts to be donated for parents). One of the groups picked out a slow-cooker. You know, a crock-pot. It has leopard print on it!

And we were charged for two.

Granted, our cashier may have been slightly overwhelmed at the amount of things she was ringing, but she did an amazing job. I don't fault her at all. The youth were being loud (and having a good time while being contained) and it was a busy time in the store.

As soon as I noticed the extra charge on the receipt, I called the store. The very nice woman who answered at the Service desk was all too kind and let me know at my convenience I could come back in with the receipt and would get my refund.

That leads me to the beginning of my epic journey this morning.

I started back at that store which happens to be further away from my house then the other errands I needed to run. The Service desk was compliant and I had no issues.

I decided to go ahead and pick up a few more items that I know we will need for the socks. I had five packages of mens t-shirts.

The checkout lane at the 12 items or less wasn't very busy, so I waited there.

The cashiers switched right before it was my turn. The new cashier rang me up and I swiped my card.

It was declined.

Oops! Because of my large purchase last night, I had to verify with the credit card company that I did indeed make that purchase last night.

After waiting on hold for twenty minutes (yes, I patiently waited because my call had gone to the fraud department and I wanted to make sure everything was okay) the nice man verified my purchase and released the hold.

Whew.

I continued on my journey.

The next stop was the Hallmark store where I had bought a few cards on Saturday. I had a coupon, my rewards plus a gift card. The coupon was for $2.00 off, the rewards were for $8.00 and the gift card had $5.00 on it.

When I got home Saturday night I had noticed that the $2 and $5 were both on the receipt but the $8 was nowhere to be seen.

When I went in there this morning (by then it was actually afternoon), I explained to the cashier what had happened and she went to talk to the manager. I figured one of two things would happen. They would still have my coupon (I remember from back when Mom owned a Hallmark store and when I worked in the one in Detroit that you hold on to them and mail them back in bulk), or I would have to call the 800 number and ask for it to be reissued. I figured going into the store was the best place to start.

And it was. The manager came out and had my coupon. Even though it had been marked out as though it had been used, she was quick to initial it and return it to me. She was apologetic and I was understanding. Saturday had been something close to a zoo at the mall.

I didn't mention that I was there for our Quota book fair. I literally parked in the last parking space in the rows that I had traveled down.

Today, I had other places to shop but everything else was smooth sailing.

That concludes my epic journey. Now it's time for a walk.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

the .1k

I have never participated in a .1k until yesterday.

It was an amazing event.

You can watch the race here but I'll warn you; even though its distance is short, the race itself lasted quite an impressive length of time.

There were a lot of people that had to cross that finish line.

You'll see a number of people who actually sprinted and raced.

Bill and I were in the slow mass somewhere in the middle. Our friend Jen T. joined us.

Next year, we're going to have an actual team! If you're interested in a .1k (the length of a football field), let us know. Join our team, "The Runs" (I insist it's a working title).

Before the race started something happened that I haven't heard since 9/11. The entire crowd sang along to the National Anthem. On the streets of Grand Rapids we joined together and lifted up our country in honor through song. It was touching.

And of course we celebrated the end of the race with a beer.

For Kevin and Kyle and their parents and friends who keep coming up with great ideas like a .1k!

Friday, November 9, 2012

little by little

Stamping is a dangerous hobby.

Not in the way that gets one hurt. No, in the way that it could be addicting. Although there is the risk of  a paper cut. I'm probably one of the few people who could get hurt while stamping.

Here's a sneak peak at what I worked on the other night. I was invited to a stamping party. We made nine Christmas cards and one Thanksgiving card. (I went to a party back in August and blogged about it here.)

I don't want to show you the Christmas cards because I don't know who the lucky recipients will be and I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise.

I will say this, they are fantastic! I took pictures so, if I remember, after Christmas I'll post about them.

In the meantime I have decided that stamping is what one can do when they get tired of scrapbooking. I have made a lot of scrapbooks and I am running out of steam. It is really difficult to determine how many pages you'll use when you're scrapping about someone's life (Skylar). Her scrapbook ends when she turned eleven. I've not started one for Spencer because any picture we have of him is on this contraption (the computer/internet). The scrapbook for Bill and I also got too full before I could find a good stopping point. Right now it ends in 2009 and we've done a lot since then. I did manage to scrap our cruise all in one book (but the trip was only fourteen days, it was much easier to pick photos to use). I have one for the cats. I also have one for Halloween. Both of those will just randomly end when I run out of pages.

Stamping let's you be creative in the same way scrapbooking does. You're just not doing a page where you will add photos. You're doing a card. In some ways it's easier. You can make all the same card, or you can make every one different.

I have a lot of scrapbook ideas and stuff that I can use to make cards. I just need a few stamps and some ink pads...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

soccer and the best niece and nephew

 These were taken back on October 13th. We were in Indiana for a wedding and we got to watch Skylar play soccer the next day!

She is really good. I know this is the back of her, but it was the best shot I got of her in action.

Spencer was all bundled up and he had fun hanging out with me.

Oh, Skylar's team won this game but they didn't win the tournament.




Wednesday, November 7, 2012

gobble gobble

While running this morning, I came across some wild turkeys that live near the creek in our extended neighborhood.

They were huge.

There were at least five, the others were back across the street. They ran off when I tried to take their photo.

This photo was as close as I could get/wanted to get to these three and was taken with my phone. My phone is not a smart phone, so I couldn't zoom in.

I think they know Thanksgiving is close.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

oh to be back under the Tuscan sun

It was five years ago that we took our Mediterranean cruise. I never got around to posting all of the pictures on my blog (surprise?) and only got through a couple of days talking about it.

Now, five years later, I'm taking time each day to look at the photos that I carefully labeled and placed in albums.

Plural.

I took six hundred photos in fourteen days.

All of them are in three photo albums.

Then I made a scrapbook that highlights each day. 

We were in Tuscany on this day. We took an excursion to a vineyard. 

The story for that day was:

Jenny & I had to use the ladies room, so while we were doing that John and Bill were discussing the idea of bringing a bottle of wine with us to drink on the bus. It was a long ride back to the ship from the vineyard. 

They went to Diego (our driver) and asked him if it was okay to do that. He said yes and John went to go get the wine while Bill went to go get the "cups". (Cups because what else were we going to drink out of? The wine glasses from the vineyard?)

They met back up. Diego was standing over by the bus in a suspicious looking stance. He called John & Bill over to him. Cautiously they walked over to where Diego was standing.

Diego was busy wiping out four wine glasses that he had swiped from the vineyard! He told Bill and John that drinking out of cups was no good. 

When Jenny & I came out of the restroom, John and Bill were waiting to tell us their tale.

When we got back to the ship we took a photo with Diego and Simona (our guide) and our wine glasses.

Sadly, only one glass made it back to the States in one piece. 

I would post these photos, but they are on the back-up hard drive that we (Bill) have yet to connect to my laptop. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Time for snowflakes

It's time for snowflakes again! Last year, I asked my friends with children (and even those without) to help their kids make snowflakes. Then I asked that they send the snowflakes to me. I hung the snowflakes on our sliding glass door. You can see the end result here.

It was amazing. They really dressed up the kitchen and brightened every morning.

I loved the creativity of each family.

If you would like to, please make a snowflake and send it to me! As soon as I start receiving them, I'll start hanging them on the door. I can't wait to see what I get this year!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

my latest creation

I wanted to share the most recent craft project I completed.

I made this for Addison's first birthday.

I thought Juliette might like it, it's a Siamese kitty like her!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

four out of nine

Whoever said cats have nine lives didn't mean lives. They meant collars.

Atticus has now gone through three collars. He's currently wearing his fourth.

The positive side is that he's getting out of them if they're getting caught on something. Maybe it is lives.

I just wish he'd learn to bring the collar back home. Those "cat" tags aren't cheap.

Well for one tag it's not expensive but multiply that by four and it starts to add up.

Either way, he's got five more...

Friday, November 2, 2012

the light is on in the attic

I went through two boxes that have been in our attic, and in my life, for too long.

I was keeping things like the wall calendar from my senior year of high school.

Sure there are lots of memories that go with it, but it doesn't mean anything to anyone else. Why am I keeping it?

I had a pile for trash, a pile for recycling, a pile for donation and a pile to keep. Oh, and a pile of this-belongs-somewhere-else. Like all the photos I found. Those belong in my photo box.

For the things that meant something to me, I took a picture of it before disposing of it. That means I have more to blog about!

I have many more boxes to go through. Most of those hold knick-knacks. I don't know what I'm going to do with those... leaving them in boxes in the attic doesn't seem like a good idea.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What I'm thankful for...

... today I am thankful that there are only twenty-nine days left of my ridiculous blogging for another year.

No, I haven't been perfect.

No, I didn't have to blog every day.

It was a goal. It kept me blogging. Seriously, without the goal I don't know that I would have blogged. I mean, I've mentioned my habit of leaving pictures on my camera, can you imagine what would happen to my blog?

So here's to my last twenty-nine days. We'll see what December 1st brings...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Yes. I finally rescued the photos from my camera. They only went back to the beginning of the month so I wasn't too far behind...

I wanted to share this one

The same woman who made our Anniversary cake made this. It was a pumpkin square, chocolate covered pretzels and the cute marshmallow head.

I saved this picture for today's post. We did not save the treat. We gobbled it up.

By the way, I also wanted to share my take on the fact that Americans are spending $5000000000000 dollars on Halloween (according to this website). Whether that is the actual figure or not, it's a lot of money.

My guess is that no one stopped to think about how much of that is Hollywood. I enjoy watching the holiday shows, but it seems like every show has gotten in on the act.


Wait. It doesn't just seem that way, it is that way. Add in those costumes, sets, and designs, throw in the Food Network and you get somewhere close to that number.


This year I bought a pumpkin (that I didn't carve). All of my decorations are just fine, I didn't need to add any new ones. I have plenty of candles to set the mood. The candy was leftover from my overnight (I gave the group more than enough sugar). Pretty simple. 


Don't ask about Christmas though. I may have more of an addiction to that holiday.


Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jack-o-lantern

It's Halloween Eve and I have not carved my pumpkin. At least I bought a pumpkin.

Hopefully it will be nicer out tomorrow and I will carve it then.

My other hope for tomorrow is that I finally rescue the photos off the camera.

And then post them in here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

superhero status

I feel like a superhero.

Along with saving dogs and fixing signs, add helping stranded person to that list.

I was running along, like I do, and a woman was pushing a toddler in his stroller. She said more than hello, so I stopped to talk to her.

She had locked herself and the toddler out of the house. She wondered if I could call her sister and ask her to come and get them. She meant, could I go back to my house. I offered the use of my cell phone (because I always take it with me). She gave me her sister's number and I called.

I didn't feel like it was a trick because even though I offered the phone to her to use, she declined. The sister did sound suspicious until I explained to her why I was calling.

After I hung up the phone the woman thanked me and I continued my run.

I need a cape and a superhero name...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

connected

It's taken me awhile but I'm finally starting to make the family connections at our church.

It seems that everyone is related to someone else.

A lot like my high school. My best friend Alisha was related to almost every person in school. Most were distant relatives, family is family.

The same goes with our church. I've known a couple of family relations; some were obvious, such as youth with siblings. Then I learned that some of them were cousins.

I discovered two new relations today and they may be connected.

It's very interesting. You can ask some of the long-time members and they'll just shake their heads. If you ask about specific families, they will tell you. Otherwise you are left to figure it out on your own.

Which takes a few years.

I can't even keep up with my own family...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

the Overnight plus the other days I've missed

Okay, clearly I am too busy for the last few weeks of my "year of blogging, part 2".

Thursday, I went to visit Molly. She is attending Hope College. It was almost 80 degrees so we had ice cream. It was yummy.

Friday, I spent most of the day preparing for the Jr. High Overnight. We had nine youth. We went to The Spark Foundation and made a donation.

Our super star mom, Denise, made the best dinner ever. Here's the menu:
Mini Eyeball subs
Mummy hotdogs
Veggies N Dip (Pumpkin shaped – carrots/broccoli)
Spider Cheese Ball n’ crackers
Bone Bread Sticks n’ Blood Dipping Sauce
Brain cupcakes
Eyeball cake pops

Then we went to the John Ball Zoo for a Twilight Tour. We saw the reptiles, a Screech Owl, a Chinchilla (which we got to pet), some monkeys (or relatives of them), we saw a Barn Owl, the Frogs, and the Aquarium (Penguins sound scary when you wake them up at night).

We watched a video clip (from the Skit Guys but it's not them... it's really good and spooky) and then "Goonies". 

Today I have spent the entire day (once I got home at 11:30am and cleaned up) on the couch watching tv. I watched shows I have dvr'd but haven't had a chance to watch.

Right now I am watching part two of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". It's the end of my marathon. Three months later.

Hey, better late than never.

And just so I would be sure youth show up for Sunday school tomorrow morning, I bribed* them with prizes/treat. 

*Disclaimer: only two of them really came in costume last night and I had three prizes. I also had enough goodie bags for the youth plus the leaders. I had two youth who were grounded and only one leader took a goodie bag. I have plenty of treats left so better to give them away, even if it means bribing them. I am fairly certain the Bible doesn't say anything about not bribing your youth to show up at Sunday School the morning after an overnight. That is pretty specific so please correct me if you know of that particular Bible verse.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

bowling

I went bowling with the Young Adult group tonight.

No, sadly I am no longer part of the young adult demographic (according to our church), I help co-lead.

Someone has to keep those rowdy "kids" in line.

Okay, I fit right in.

But boy do I need to go bowling more. I am not proud of my scores. At least I improved in the second game.

Do you really want to know?

I am so embarrassed to share.

My mom has trophies from bowling leagues. When she was pregnant with me she bowled right up until two weeks before my due date.

She is good.

It was not passed on to me.

Tonight I bowled a 75 and a 79.

I should buy some bowling shoes. I bet that would help.

Or try bowling more than once a year.

Wait, I've bowled three times this year.

Hm, time to buy a home bowling kit.

Our living room looks long enough...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

three days behind

No. I didn't post pictures.

I had lots of thoughts on what I could post.

Like, leave stuff alone that's not yours. I guess they needed it more than I did. The good news is; it was too big and I had been thinking about adding it to the donation pile and buying a new one. That still doesn't make it right that someone else took it.

I think I'm a serious runner now. I ran in the rain today. I didn't give up. It was miserable but I wasn't really miserable until I stopped.

I should think about waterproof mascara. I got a couple of weird looks from people as I ran by them.

I'm still eating sweet potato french fries. I gave up and froze the rest. I don't know if they'll make it but I couldn't just throw them away. I like them. Bill does not. I have made the mental note for next time to make a third of the batter and use one sweet potato.

They taste especially good with Ranch dressing.

I have a Halloween overnight this Friday with our Jr. High youth group. I'm very excited about it and am spending most of the week preparing for it. There's a lot to prepare for. I made goodie bags, I am creating the "worship" service (think Veggie Tales), I have to go shopping for tons of junk food (I'm making this breakfast on Saturday morning) and I have to gather the prizes for the costume contest. I found ribbons in the dollar bins at Target. There were three; Best Costume, Most Original Costume, and Scariest. Perfect!

I haven't given up on blogging yet. I've just been busy. There are still things in life that are more important and since I know none of you are out there waiting with baited breath, I can get away with missing a few posts here and there.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

another post without a picture

I finished a project that I crocheted but I don't want to post it until the recipient has received it. You see, it's a gift.

It's adorable.

I have tons of pictures on my camera that I need to rescue. Download. Remove from the camera and put on my computer. Perhaps I'll get around to that tomorrow. Then you'll get to see the cute crocheted project.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The things I'll learn...

I'm taking over as Wedding Coordinator at our church.

I have been training all year under Pat, the current Wedding Coordinator.

She has been doing this job for thirty years.

I have big shoes to fill.

I've learned a lot the past few months. I have much more to learn.

Tomorrow is Pat's last wedding. It's official, she said so herself tonight.

I'll be taking over with a wedding in November.

It's going to be interesting.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

don't miss the point

I am participating in my first marathon.

We're supporting our friends, the Friar's. Their two boys have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

They have done various fundraisers over the years.

When we first moved back to Grand Rapids they had a chili dinner. They've also had golf outings.

Last year they started the marathon.

It's .1k

As in point one k.

You start at one bar and run, or walk, to the end of the block to the other bar.

I hope you'll help me raise money and meet my goal to help their two boys. It really is for a great cause.

Click here for the link to my page. You can make a donation online or send a check.

Thank you for helping me, for helping a wonderful family and also supporting me in my first "marathon", even if it is only one block.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

how much is too much...

... popcorn?

I like popcorn.

I've mentioned it once or twice.

I am always eager to purchase Boy Scout popcorn.

This year, they are selling two pound bags of kernels for $10.

Last year the bags were 2 1/2 pounds.

I'm not complaining, I'm stocking up. We had one bag left from last year's stash.

I have ordered three bags of popcorn from two of our youth.

Then I remembered my parents still had two bags that they had bought for us from last year.

Then I ordered a bag from a friend's son.

Let's review. That totals three bags of 2 1/2 pounds of popcorn, or 7 1/2 pounds. There are four bags of two pound bags for a total of eight pounds.

We have fifteen pounds of popcorn kernels sitting in the kitchen.

Will it be enough? I just don't know... I'm being serious. We went through six bags of 2 1/2 pounders last year. Do you have a son selling popcorn? I may need to buy more.

Monday, October 15, 2012

leftovers

So those sweet potato fries I made last week, there are a lot leftover. Bill had fried the rest of them for me (I had to leave for a meeting) and stuck them in the fridge.

Tonight, I heated up a plateful. I thought it would be enough for Bill.

Turns out, it was too much.

Frying something three times isn't bad is it?

Please tell me it isn't.

Next time I make these, I'm cutting the recipe by half. And then another half.

Would you like to come eat sweet potato fries with us? We'll be eating them for the next four to six months...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

they do melt in your hands...

We wrote acrostics in youth group tonight.

The youth and leaders got into it.

Of course I may have been bribing them with M&Ms.

Apparently youth and leaders will do anything for M&Ms.

What they didn't know was that later, based on the number of candies they had, they were going to have to write out a phrase that many times.

It's a good thing that's a four pound bag of M&Ms. I wonder what else they'll do if I bribe them?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

we feel like we drove through the night

The wedding was very nice.

The bride was beautiful.

The groom was dashing.

The venue was not "white enough" as Bill and my dad put it.

The walls were white, the cathedral ceiling was white but the floor was not white. It should have been according to them.

The reception was in the Garden Pavilion. It was basically a glass atrium style building. The interior was draped with white chiffon-like material. Think "My Best Friend's Wedding" reception and that's what it was like. The floral arrangements were spectacular. The food was good (even if because of Bill we were the last table to get in line and had to wait for the servers to bring fresh trays of everything).

Today we spent most of the day in the car.

We watched one of Skylar's soccer games (50 minutes from Cicero), went to lunch at 99th street. Drove clear across town to the mall so I could buy a silly lanyard for my church keys, drove back to Mom and Dad's and then hopped right back in the car and drove home to GR.

But Skylar won her soccer game. Spencer giggled, played and had fun blowing raspberries at us. Lunch was yummy (Red Robin, yum). And I found the lanyard I wanted and got $5 off!

While it was a long day, it waited and rained at the end, we made it home safely and enjoyed seeing my family.

Friday, October 12, 2012

just another Friday

Today is the wedding of our dear family friends' son, Ethan.

I have known Ethan since he was born.

I talked about him the other day because I bought their wedding gift (the oil & vinegar).

We got the wedding invitation months ago.

I immediately put it on the calendar. Mine, not the Bill's. I have access to his calendar on the iPad but he's a big boy so I didn't [think to] add it.

About six weeks ago Bill walked up to me in the kitchen and proudly shared that he finally got an appointment with that company in Ann Arbor for October 12th.

Um, that's Ethan's wedding, I reminded him.

After a few minutes of, "oh crap what do we do now"; this is the plan we came up with.

I found a salon here in Ann Arbor, while Bill has his meeting (it just started), I got my hair done. He'll come and pick me up and we'll head to Indiana from here. It's a four-hour drive so we'll get to my parents just in time to get dressed and leave for the wedding.

It wasn't at all complicated.

I am using sarcasm.

Now I sit in the fine establishment with free wi-fi and enjoy a bagel while I wait for his meeting to end.

The uncomplicated part happened when I scheduled my hair appointment. In a perfect world, I could have made it for exactly fifteen minutes before his meeting. When I tried to do that, I discovered my high expectations. The salon couldn't get me in at 11am. They could get me in at noon (too late) or 9:30am or 10:00am. Let's go with the 10am. We had to leave the house by 7:30am (yes, we were early, no we didn't hit traffic but had we, we would have been late and neither of us like being late) which meant getting up early. Early for us. I don't know what time Bill got up but it was before his alarm which was set for 5:30am.

I hope you have a happy Friday. I'll tell you about the wedding tomorrow, after Skylar's soccer game.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fries with a side of meatloaf

I promised to write about our dinner tonight and it was not disappointing.

I made this meatloaf from PW's site. I don't know if I've ever talked about it before.

A quick check of my labels says that I don't have a "meatloaf" label. So if I did write about, I didn't label it as such.

If your standard meatloaf recipe is becoming a bit bland, try this one. It has quickly found its way to the top of our favorite meatloaf list (that list isn't too long, Paula Dean's bacon meatloaf is the only thing that tops it and coming in third is an Italian style meatloaf from Giada; all my favorite chefs + meatloaf = yummy).

The side dish tonight was pretty special. It was a recipe from Giada; sweet potato fries with caramelized onions and a garlic butter-fontina topping.

Bill, do you have our doctor's phone number on speed dial? We may need to get our cholesterol checked.

The fries made enough to feed ten people (don't worry, we didn't eat them all but I'm doubting they'll be as good reheated). The toppings sent them over the top (pun intended).

I used the fancy balsamic vinegar. The aroma was unbelievable. The caramelized onions were delicious. I forget how much I love caramelized onions.

And how can you go wrong with melted butter seasoned with minced garlic? I also added some thyme. Then the grated fontina...

I love cheese.

These fries were superb.

Next time, I won't cut up three sweet potatoes. Unless I'm feeding an army. Or the sweet potatoes are smaller.

Just remember; if anything I mention sounds good, when you come visit just remind me of what specifically you want me to make for you. The list goes on and on...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

a day of shopping

I had a lot of errands to run today for various reasons.

One is for a wedding that we have this Friday.

We (my family) have known the groom's family since we moved to Cicero. We spent many Christmas Eves together and I learned a lot from his parents. They helped shape me.

Ethan, the groom, wanted to be a chef when he was ten. In fact there was a period of time that you asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and his reply was a firm, "I want to go to college for hotel management and then go on to culinary school". He was ten!

He ended up going to Purdue and getting a degree in Engineering. Doesn't that make more sense?

I'm guessing (and hoping) that he still enjoys cooking.

If not, this gift is going to be a huge disappointment.

I went to this great new store called the Old World Olive Press. Bill and I had stopped in there on our anniversary. They have delicious oils and vinegars. I knew this would be a great gift for someone who likes to cook.

I went back today. The young woman working knew her oils and vinegars. She had me try a couple combinations and I was sold.

I bought a bottle of each for us to try too. I'm making caramelized onions tomorrow night so I'll let you know how this balsamic works out.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

food kick

I'm on a roll so I'll stick with the food topic.

I made a creamy tomato soup that I discovered yesterday when I linked the recipe for the focaccia. I will not link it tonight because I am tired and if I go back to the King Arthur flour website I might find yet another recipe. And while I generally get excited for that kind of thing, tonight I really just want to go to bed.

The tomato soup was simple and, while I don't recommend tasting it before it's finished, the end product is delicious.

Trust me. It was really good with the rest of the focaccia bread.

The next dish is meatloaf and sweet potato fries with a caramelized onion topping. I'll let you know on Thursday how it turns out.

Monday, October 8, 2012

focaccia & eggs

I had my favorite breakfast this morning; poached eggs over toast. Except I used focaccia bread. I made it last week and it's amazing. It's so delicious and so easy. If you like bread but don't want a complicated recipe, try making focaccia.

The recipe I followed used two packets of active dry yeast.

I think the trick to getting bread/yeast to rise is to not just use warm water but to heat the water and use a thermometer to get it between 120 and 130 degrees F.

It also makes a difference as to how warm your house or kitchen is. If it's too cold or too humid, you may have a problem with your dough rising. If that's the case, I'll preheat the oven to 250 while I prepare the dough. Then, once the dough is ready and the oven has preheated, I turn the oven off and let the dough rise nearby. The heat activates the yeast and it will rise nicely (sometimes too quickly, so keep an eye on it).

I did find this recipe as an advertisement in the Gourmet magazine back when I was given a year subscription. Here it is, in case you wanted to try it.

I also had some of the best pizza I've had since we were in Naples five years ago. If you're local, check out Harmony Brewery. They're on Lake Drive just past that crazy Wealthy intersection with the Subway and CVS. Their beer is amazing but seriously, their pizza is great.

They're not paying me to say this, but I know one of the owners (and I've mentioned it before). We took our friend Heather W. there on St. Patrick's Day. We had the breadsticks. I'm so sad that we didn't try the pizza that night. It's the best pizza. Seriously, you gotta try it. And if you come into town to visit, ask. We'll take you there.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

the window project

Here it is, the window project, a photo montage from beginning-ish to end-ish.

Here's a sample of what the windows looked like before (this is the set of double hung windows on the second floor).

Here's the casement window that has been under construction since last year. This is the beginning of the scraping. Yes, there is primer on there, that was removed. All of it was scraped off.

You can almost see that here. As I was priming. Did you know I'm forgetful? I almost forgot to take a picture of the window while it was naked, sans paint. Then I remembered and I snapped a picture halfway through priming.
Here they are all primed. Ready for paint...
And here's the final paint. The sill needs one more coat (it's a darker brown, think dark chocolate). We weren't too sure about the trim color at first. I think it's growing on me.


Friday, October 5, 2012

you gotta read this...

I'll get to the windows tomorrow. I forgot to take a picture of the [almost] finished project.

Instead I direct your attention to Bill's blog. It's definitely worth reading today... I even linked it for you.

I hope you enjoy it, I know I did.

I laughed so hard my sides hurt.

I laugh because it's true.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

and the windows are almost done

The window painting is almost complete. Now that the weather is about to take a turn on us.

I was fortunate to be able to get out there today and get a second coat on the casements and trim. The sill only has one coat (plus the primer). If I don't get the second coat on before winter, it should be okay until spring.

I will take a couple of photos of the almost finished project. I may go ahead and post all of them on here tomorrow so you can see the entire process (or as much as we photographed).

We're not sure about the color choices... you'll see.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

a walk in the park on a fall day

Art is in the eye of the beholder.

I enjoy walking around Meijer Gardens and looking at the sculpture that resides there. Today was no exception with the bold fall colors intruding on the gray, rainy day.

One thing I noticed was the different types of sculpture.

I like the simple shapes (seen below).
Then there are others like this one...

Can you see the heads? They have axes sticking out of them and the one is tied up.

Happy and cheerful? I don't think so. Not all art is happy. I thought of all the crazy people out there who create the art and wondered where their inspiration comes from.

Then I stopped thinking about that and just enjoyed the beautiful fall colors.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

boys vs. girls

At a recent party, a friend and I noted that there was one little boy and several little girls. The friend has a boy, she was the one who noticed the difference in genders.

Then, in youth group, we were going on a Scavenger Hunt and when it came time to break into two groups one of my youth suggested boys vs. girls because we had an even number.

It got me thinking about everyone I know with children. How close is the count?

So I figured it out.

I have a lot of time on my hands.

Maybe I do need a fourth job...

Just kidding.

Back to the count. This is completely unofficial and is limited to friends and immediate family.

Out of twenty-seven couples boys out number girls 30-26. Remember, this is completely unofficial. I actually started going through my facebook friends to make sure I didn't miss anyone. I started ignoring families with one of each because they negated each other. If I stretch and look at my extended family, the numbers still come close.

Take a look at your friends with children. Are there more boys or girls? What's the official count?

Monday, October 1, 2012

two more months

I can do this.

I have two more months of blogging every day.

I still don't know what I'll do after that.

Should I blog once a week?

Twice a week?

Will I remember to blog at all?

I fear that if I don't commit to some kind of goal my blog will begin to fill up with cobwebs and dust.

Oh wait, that's just my computer screen.

Just kidding, sort of.

I will let you know what I decide to do.

As a side note: I'm keeping track of my funny youth group stories. I may have to publish those some day. When the kids who are currently in youth group have joined AARP. Maybe I should have them sign a waiver that they agree to let me blog about them. I could just add that line to the bottom of the Release form. I bet I would find out how many parents actually read the form!

I wonder if any of the parents have found my blog?

I'm going to go finish laundry...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

breakfast, lunch... dinner?

My Sundays are off.

We used to come home from the early service and Bill would make Big Sunday Breakfast. It was divine and would keep me full until popcorn after youth group.

Things are different now.

That doesn't mean bad, I'm just still trying to adjust.

Bill made Big Saturday Breakfast yesterday. It was just as good and I'm happy that we are still able to enjoy it.

This morning I had my normal bowl of cereal.

Cereal tangent: I've created what I think is quite possibly my new favorite breakfast cereal combo ever. I have no other combo to compare it to but I really enjoy this one. 1/2  cup of Multi-Grain Cheerios mixed with 1/4 cup Peanut Butter Cheerios. It's just the right balance of healthy and tasty -at least I think so.

After church today, we had a picnic to kick off our Lot Party. Pulled white meat (I thought it was supposed to be pork but someone else thought it was chicken), chips, baked beans, carrot sticks and celery, watermelon and a chocolate chip cookie.

We don't have youth group tonight. I will likely still make popcorn but I'm hungry now. Do I eat dinner to? I don't know what to do. How do I adjust? Maybe I'll just go have my yogurt and granola to tide me over until popcorn.

I feel like I'm in bizarro-land.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I can't help it...

...I love this city.

The festivals, the art, the music...

and so much of it is free!!! 

I hope that if you have visited our fine city before that you find it to be a great city. If you don't, I invite you back to give it a second chance.

Or if you haven't been to visit at all, please come check it out!

Art Prize is a great time to come visit, but so is every weekend in the summer. The fall and spring are amazing too. I love winter, so if you like snow and cold, you're also welcome to come visit but be prepared, you will be handed a shovel.

Below is a very small sampling of this year's Art Prize.

 Sticktuitiveness

 This quilt is actually made of wood...! How amazing is that? I heard about it from a friend and I'm so glad Bill and I went to find it. It's incredible.
 The chalking I wrote on the side of our Administrative building.
The Komodo Dragon made out of buttons. Suspended from the ceiling. 

What is art? Well, I've been thinking about that. The difference between an artist and anyone else is doing. An artist doesn't just look at something and say, "I could do that." An artist goes out and does it. So whatever the artist creates is art. This is my opinion. Not an official definition. 

Just thought I'd let you know.

Friday, September 28, 2012

take time to stop and smell the roses

Even though I'm now running three miles (yes, without stopping, look out! I'm a machine...) I have still noticed a few things on my walk.

There's a house on a corner that has beautiful roses blooming in red and white. They are blooming now, even though it's been so hot and we've had frost.

The leaves on the ground look like frogs, giant bugs, crouching chipmunks and other random things that my imagination sees.

I passed a woman pushing her baby stroller while talking on her phone. I said hi and she didn't seem to notice me.

I try to notice the small things on my walks/runs. Life passes us by so quickly. Of course I have taken time to talk to a friend on the phone when she called me in the middle of my walk.

I'm not better than anyone else, I just wanted to remind you to take time to stop and smell the roses. Or at least notice them.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I like to draw using chalk...

Here is the chalking I did yesterday. I don't want to say I "graffiti-ed" the church because I had permission. But that's basically what I did.

Working on coloring in the letters, I had to make them big enough for cars passing by to see.

My blue hand.

Behind me (not pictured) is all the information on the Lot Party. I hope this advertising works!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

we made it a verb

"Art Prizing". It's what you do in Grand Rapids during Art Prize.

There is a lot going on downtown. We went out and about with the Youth Groups on Sunday night.

This weekend is the Lot Party hosted by our church! (If you live in Grand Rapids, check it out! Here's a link for more info.)

I have taken pictures (and had pictures taken of me) but it's too late and my battery is dying. Perhaps tomorrow you'll see some photos...

Of course you will! For now, I'm going to go try to wash the chalk dust out of my eyes...