Friday, October 24, 2014

still giving thanks

It was only back in January that I tried writing daily posts. You can read that here.

I have not done a very good job of keeping up with that. Nor have I done a terrific job of saying what I'm thankful for in each post. Sometimes, I think, it's been obvious. Perhaps the less obvious times I have tried to point it out.

At any rate, when I went searching for that original post, I thought it was late fall or early winter that I had started. I was actually hoping I could tell you in this post that I was "close enough" and give it up while I learn my new job. Yet, much to my chagrin, not only was it not late fall but I've only written about two hundred thankful posts.

I've felt guilty these last few weeks. I have intentions of writing something, but the end of the day arrives and I'm too tired. I need my rest.

I will try to carve out time to write something. I have a problem though. When I pick up my laptop to write a blog post, I think, "Oh I'll just check my email quick." The next thing I know two hours have gone by, I never wrote a post and it's way past my bedtime.

Knowing this happens, the other nights when I do have time, I don't even pick up my laptop because I know I won't write anything and I'll just spend time checking email!

With that in mind, please extend me grace. There are three of you who read this and you can all email and ask me what is going on if you miss me that much. I'll keep trying.

I am thankful I'm not being graded on this.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I know. A long awaited post. What happened to me?

As indicated in my title, the total is four. As in, that's how many part-time jobs I now hold.

On Monday, I started at Baker Publishing Group as an Administrative Assistant for the Visual Communications Department.

Think that title is long?

My other titles are (in order of shortest to longest titles):

  • Wedding Coordinator
  • Jr. High Youth Director
  • Administrative Assistant to our Associate Pastor for Adult Education

I constantly define that last one because I am not the admin assistant to the Associate Pastor. That would require more hours. Hours more like the new job. Also defined as a full, part-time job. Get it?

Let me explain; my AA in Adult Ed. is four hours/week. My AA in Visual Comm dept is up to 30 hours/week. If I were assisting our Associate Pastor in full capacity, it would be more like 30 hours/week. But it wouldn't be fair because no one else on staff has an assistant. But the other ministry departments have full, part-time or full-time staff. For instance, the Children's Ministry? Full, part-time staff person (I think she works 35 hours/week). Youth Ministry? Full-time, plus others below her in specific areas of ministry like me in Jr. High.

Now that I've explained that, let me explain that I am not crazy. Four part-time jobs is not too many.

For Wedding Coordinator, that's a consultant job. I'm paid when there's a wedding. We only have one on the calendar for 2015.

Jr. High Youth Director, it's ten hours/week for the school year. Most of the work takes place on Sundays. Plus, I have already planned out Sunday mornings through the school year. Sunday nights are planned out through December.

AA in Adult Ed, honestly that job may not exist after the end of the calendar year due to budget cuts. If it does continue, I have worked it out with my new boss that I can work half a day and then go work my four hours at the church, one day a week.

Hence my lack of blogging. I was visiting mom and dad when I got the call from Baker. I came back home and we have just been busy, busy, busy.

Last Saturday was the .1k and it was a blast. Team Bald Ego formed once again. We had a fundraising goal of $500. By Friday night, we were $225 short of the goal. The date was earlier (last year in was in November) so we had fewer team members.

Bill and I were taking a walk and I thought of a few other people I could ask to donate. When we finished our walk, I sent out an email.

One of those people is a Quotarian. She donated last year and has always been a great supporter of me.

Before I went to sleep that night, I said a prayer. I asked for a fundraising miracle.

Saturday morning, I was drinking my coffee, checking my email, and mentally preparing for the race ahead of us (just kidding). I got a text from the Quota member asking me how to donate to the .1k. I walked her through it. (I think it takes longer to donate than it does to race!)

About ten minutes later, an email popped up telling me I had received a donation. It had put us over our fundraising goal! We had been given that miracle!

Bill, Heather, Kathy F. (she was there somewhere, we never did find her), Chandra, Jason, and Addison were all a part of the team. We have decided, for next year, we will dress up. We are Team Bald Ego, after all.

Needless to say, I did not take any pictures of the race. We still had a lot of fun. We hope to come back next year with a bigger team. If you can't make it, you can still donate! I'll keep you posted on information.

I could have made this into two posts… to make up for my lack of posting. But I didn't. We'll see how often I can keep writing. Come back tomorrow for another explanation. I promise it won't be as long.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

String [cheese] Theory

I love pasta. If I had to pick my favorite pasta dish it would be this one. It has all of my favorite things; creamy sauce, shrimp, tomatoes, onion, garlic…

Or it might be this one, creamy orzo. When I make it, I add smoked sausage. Oh yum! The peas put it over the top.

Maybe I should categorize my list of pasta favorites.

Lasagna: from Paula Deen. Although my version is from Shannon and we've both modified it.

Fresh Rollatini: I had this once at a restaurant (and had no idea what it was before that), came home and googled it. I found this recipe which was pretty close to what I remembered from the restaurant.

Alfredo: This one is so simple and pure. I have other alfredo recipes that are thick and filling and delicious.

Then there's this next one, also a pasta dish that I had no idea what it was until I saw it made on tv. Capellini al Forno. It's like a pasta pie. Don't make it for just two people though. Make it for a group of four or six.

Okay, so what do all of these pasta dishes have in common? If you're lactose intolerant, it's your enemy.


Cheesy Mozzarella, cheesy Parmesan, cheesy Romano, cheesy cheese.

Cheese which turns into a gooey mess the instant you put it into a sink full of hot, soapy water.

That's not actually my theory. It's fact.

But I love cheese, so I'm going to keep making pasta. And I'll keep washing dishes. And I'll keep having gooey messes.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

birds of a feather

Two weeks ago, we went to a soccer game for one of our college students. As we were leaving, a large bird landed on a light pole. Bill and I guessed it was some kind of hawk. We looked it up when we got home and here's what we found.

I'm just now getting around to writing about it.

It was very large, but very pretty.

I was concerned it was checking us out. It was probably attracted to the silver aluminum pan that I had made krispy rice treats in and had given to Maria. It flew off without attacking us or the treats.

I don't think Atticus could have caught this bird. I think it would have been the other way around.

While I'm talking about animals, that's been the suggestion for our house name, Animal House. We live on College, the movie was about college. Atticus brings home animals (or like the opossum, they wander into our yard/onto our deck), the movie is named for "animals". I happen to like Animal from the Muppets, so it fits there too.

There was only one vote and it was for the name. I guess we'll name our house Animal House. We should start using frequently. We'll see if it catches on!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fall at the Gardens

I went to Meijer Gardens yesterday. I haven't been there since August and wanted some good autumn photos. What better place to take them?!

Here's a sneak peek at the Japanese Garden, set to open June 2015.

 Inside and out they are showcasing mums. However, outside they haven't fully bloomed, so here's a good photo of the indoor display.

 Here's the Michigan farm.

 This statue is by the farmhouse. 

 I like the palette of colors and the reflection in the pond.

 That's the statue of Eve by Rodin. I like how she's framed by the trees.

 This is inside the gallery, the showcase for ArtPrize at the Gardens. This piece is part of the wall.

 Here's a different angle to help you understand it. 

These bricks are made from clothes, pressed into the shape of a brick. They were then stacked to look like a house that had been damaged. You can read the artist's statement here. I hope you'll take time to read it, she makes a fascinating statement.

I hope you enjoyed my visit. (And photos! I know, I'm shocked too!)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

In A Nutshell

Have you ever thought about the nuts we eat and the nuts we don't? I thought of this on a recent walk as squirrels ran across my path. One of the squirrels happened to have an acorn in its mouth.

I thought, they eat acorns, why don't we?

We eat pecans and walnuts. Then there are hazelnuts and chestnuts. Both are good over an open fire, only one has a song about it.

We don't eat actual Buckeyes because they're poisonous, but we make candy to look like them.

There are macadamia nuts, making the perfect mate to white chocolate chips. Macadamias also make the most expensive cookie to bake.

There's the exotic Brazil nut.

We can't just limit the list, we must include the nut of cashew.

I could keep going but not without cheating because I'm running out of nuts.

According to Wikipedia, there are forty-two.

No, they are not all for human consumption. It is a very fascinating list. If you're a nerd. Or someone who's blogging ridiculous amounts and needs a good topic and when a squirrel runs in front of them it gives them the idea of writing about nuts.

I'm glad I got that off my chest… nut.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

An Odyssey

Homer's Odyssey is epic.

We don't really come across a journey like that in our everyday lives, and if you happen to come across Medusa it would probably be all over the media.

Our move from NJ to GR was somewhat of an odyssey, it certainly was epic.

Then there was my trip to the credit union Monday.

Let me premise this story by stating for the record that Bill does not have direct deposit.

I know, I know.

Let's move on or we'll get stuck in the twentieth century.

This means one of us has to take a physical paycheck to the credit union. It is usually me. This is not a big deal until I point out that our nearest credit union location (the c.u. that we belong to anyway) is in Holland. Which is a solid forty minute drive from our home.

Fortunately, credit unions have co-ops. We can make a deposit into one of several ATMs of another credit union and the money goes into our account fee free.

The closest co-op ATM is blocks from our house.

Except that for some reason, the last two times I have tried depositing at that one, it won't take it. That's okay, there's another one about two miles away. However, that ATM is frequently down (as in every time Bill and I stop there, it's not working). But again, it's okay because there are other choices.

Let me also say they are building a new branch of our credit union in GR.

I cannot wait.

Especially after Monday.

First, I went to broken ATM credit union. Guess what? The ATM was down.

I didn't even bother with ATM that stopped taking our deposits. Why waste the gas?

I looked up another one of the myriad of ATMs and found one in close proximity to our house. As I drove toward it in the pouring rain, it became clear I was headed into a sketchy area.

I arrived at said ATM only to discover there were no envelopes. I was flustered, it was raining hard, and a car pulled up behind me.

Forget it. I drove to Holland.

Did I mention every time a person pulled out in front of me, they would go slow. Of course the closest car behind me was nowhere to be seen so these people could have waited. But they didn't.

Then, on my way out to Holland, traffic inbound was backing up because of construction. I took the back roads home. I drove through parts of our fair state where I could have come across some interesting characters (like in the Odyssey).

I made it. And I found out that we can use the mobile app to deposit checks. I'm going to try that out next time, instead of driving all the way to Holland. Of course the new branch will be open in December.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

So they say. Then there are pictures we take during youth group.

I don't know if one thousand is enough… or too much.

Anyway, without further ado, here are a few photos from our ArtPrize Scavenger Hunt last week:

 I can't just post the pictures without descriptions.
I picked this one because of the reflection in the window. 

 I decided I needed to be a part of this photo. Perfect!

 I love how the girls decided to stand… Did they do that on purpose?

This piece is in on the side lawn of our church. We painted flowers two weeks ago that are now a part of it. You can't see the flowers we painted though, they're out of the shot to the left of frame.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

C is for Cookie

Make these cookies.

Double the recipe and add an extra 1/4 cup of flour.

You will not be disappointed. Unless you don't like chocolate.

But make them especially if you like chocolate. If you do, add one cup of semi sweet chocolate chips and one cup bittersweet.

I recommend eating these cookies with a tall glass of milk.

Oh my.

They are really good.

My problem, and yes it's a problem, is that we're taking these all the way to St. Louis. How am I supposed to sit in a car for eight hours with these cookies taunting me. Oh sure, I'll put them in a bag that will go in the back seat so I don't have to stare at them.

But I'll know that they're back there.

I'll be able to smell them.

I'll be able to sense them.

Seriously, these cookies are that good.

The recipient (one of our former students now at college) may only get crumbs…

To keep that from happening, I put some in a container for her and some in a container for us.

If I share any with Bill.

I know what I'm making for the next cookie swap!