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


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.


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.


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...