Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Dogs Are Barking

I love four day weekends. I especially love them when I can spend the majority of my time on the porch with a glass of iced tea and a good book.

This has not been one of those four day weekends.

Instead, I have spent sixteen hours of each day on my feet, cooking, cleaning, climbing up and down attic ladders, hauling boxes to and fro, climbing a ladder to the top of my entertainment center to organize my village display (side note: skip a year of putting the damn thing up and any understanding of cord management seems to vanish into thin air), putting up the trees, decorating the trees, hanging garland, swearing in frustration when the garland lights refuse to glow, tearing down said garland, replacing light strands, re-hanging garland, decorating the porch, and feeding my family turkey leftovers.

I've been a little busy, is my point.

I did, however, take a moment to enjoy my Thanksgiving birthday. Hugh and the kids aided in that effort with the prettiest gift that I have received in quite some time...

...I can't wait to wear it.

I also took a moment to enjoy a glass of wine, which, is to be expected since my supply was so nicely replenished by my friends (God bless them).

One thing I have not done is shop. I boycotted the whole "Thanksgiving Day/Black Friday" shopping experience on principal: Families should get to spend the holiday with their families, not refereeing fights between idiot shoppers. And, the thought of breaching the doors of the Hellmouth for even something as simple as a gallon of milk gave me hives, so; I will catch up on Christmas preparations later in the week.

In the meantime, I have Christmas cards to address, a million cookies to bake, and, Christmas movies to watch on DVD and The Hallmark Channel. And, I still have two days in which to do it.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

This Is Shaping Up to be the Best Birthday, Ever

Yesterday, my co-workers surprised me with a bunch of balloons, a Starbucks gift card, and a bouquet crafted entirely of mini wine bottles and herbal tea bags. They know me so well, it's scary.

Today, Jules surprised me at the hardware store with a bottle of wine while on her way to spend Thanksgiving with her parents in Neighboring City. She also knows me so well, it's scary.

My actual birthday is tomorrow.

I'm going to have more than enough wine to make it a holiday to remember. And, it goes without saying that I am thankful for the awesome women in my life, although, I am totally saying it, anyway. And, I'm not just saying it because of the wine.

But, I think you know me well enough to know that.

Monday, November 25, 2013

In Which We Kiss the Notion of a Relaxing Weekend Goodbye

It's a good thing I have rediscovered my energy reserves, because, if I hadn't, this weekend would have completely kicked my ass. As it is, I am a tad bit tired and looking forward to an early night tonight.

What kept me so busy? Well, let's see:

Friday, after working a full day, I headed to the bank in Hooterville to volunteer at my women's club's annual holiday fundraiser. The Teenager accompanied me and was quickly put to work at the coat check while I spent the evening selling tickets at the front door. I did get a chance to take some pictures of the venue, however.

The event was a huge success, as usual, and; every item was auctioned off at the best possible price, securing the funds necessary for our club to continue to do our work in the community.

Following the event, The Teenager and I went out for a bite of dinner before returning home to catch a few winks before driving to Neighboring City early the next morning. Our mission for the day: Christmas shopping (success!), bulk food buying (success!), and, selling some of The Teenager's old clothing to a consignment shop (really successful!).

By the time we got home, I was ready for a nap. Unfortunately, I still had a few hours to do at the hardware store as well as some housework to do and some craft projects to complete, so; no nap for me. I did, however, sleep quite well that night.

Sunday morning, I got up early to get started on laundry, a chore which is rapidly becoming my weekend nemesis.

I intended to get out on the porch to start my holiday decorating, but,the weather was fairly  dismal, with a combination of rain and snow that continued throughout the day, and it really didn't foster a holiday mood. Instead, the Man-Cub and I went for a drive in the country, ending up at an art studio where one of my friends was hosting a show featuring her pottery. Her work was lovely and quite well received, and; the weather was easily ignored while basking in the glow of her success.

When we left the art show, we did some grocery shopping before racing home to pick up The Teenager for a matinee of the new Hunger Games movie (excellent). Then, it was back home to start preparations for Thanksgiving dinner (yes, already) and to finish up the last of the laundry, freeing some space in the mudroom to set up my wrapping station. Actual present wrapping will happen later today, and, all of my out-of-town packages will be on the road to their new homes well in advance of Thanksgiving.

So, in hindsight, I really didn't accomplish all that much, but, my heavy head this morning might disagree with that.

Friday, November 22, 2013

One Pot Wonder

Last night I tried a new recipe that I had seen making the rounds on Pinterest. The recipe seemed too good to be true: one pot, raw ingredients, ten minutes, and, wa-la! Pasta dinner!

I was skeptical, but, too lazy to think of something different to make, so; I gave it a shot. The basic recipe is as follows:

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (I used basil and oregano seasoned)
1 onion, cut into slivers
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh basil
1 pkg. linguine
4.5 cups vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. flaked red pepper
2 tsp. oregano
2 tbsp. olive oil

Directions: Throw that shit in a pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring every two minutes or so until liquid is almost absorbed.

The finished product will look something like this:

I made a couple of tweaks to the recipe, including the addition of a package of frozen meatballs that I had heated in the microwave and drained of grease before throwing in the pot. I also increased the garlic by a few cloves because they were the last cloves from the bulb and I didn't want to see them go to waste. I increased the basil by an extra bunch for the same reason, and, added an additional 3/4 cup of vegetable broth to account for the meatballs.

The verdict? Four-out-of-four family members gave it a solid thumbs-up. Hugh declared it a "keeper", the Man-Cub had seconds, and then, thirds, and, The Teenager said it was good.

 Definitely a recipe that I will make again.

The recipe originated on and they have a host of one-pot pasta recipes that I am now looking forward to trying, and, why not? Less than thirty minutes, one pot to clean, and, tasty as hell.

What's not to love?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

In Search Of: The Cat Puke Edition

The first thing I did when I came downstairs this morning was to step in a puddle of cold cat puke. It was not my idea of a good time.

The Law of Averages states that: Where there is one puddle of puke, there is statistically bound to be a second puddle. With that in mind, I did a thorough search of the house, minus the kids' bedrooms since they were still sleeping.

I didn't find anything, which, makes me nervous.

On the bright side, I now have a new chore to occupy my mind while sitting in boring meetings; I can mentally search my home for surprise puke puddles.

Am I living the life, or what?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's Wise to be Prepared

Today, I was invited to participate on a disaster planning committee at work. The committee will be working on plans for a number of possible disaster scenarios, including those caused by people as well as those caused by nature.

Unfortunately, the committee doesn't plan to work on a scenario dealing with the Zombie Apocalypse, nor do they feel a need to plan for an eventual alien invasion, which, I'm sure we can all agree; are two events worthy of a written document.

So, I declined the offer. Instead, my office mate and I are going to do our own disaster planning. Over drinks and junk food.

As one does.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Productivity: It's My Thang

I have already accomplished a boat-load of chores this weekend; chores that have needed to be done since Jesus was a baby as well as chores that were of a more recent nature, and, the weekend isn't even over! I still have a whole day to cross the rest of the items off my "To Do" list; chores which I would have cheerfully (or, not so cheerfully) ignored just a few months ago (thank you, modern medical establishment!) but, am now tackling with gusto! It's awesome!

Here is a breakdown of the things I have finished and a bullet list of things yet to do, today (because I know your lives won't be complete until you have read all about it):

-Friday evening, after working a full day at both jobs, I spent two and a half hours chaperoning a lock-in at the High School.

-Saturday morning, The Teenager and I went to Hooterville, where we spent three hours setting up the bank for next Friday night's Festival of Trees. During that three hours, we hung up four wreaths, set up three fully decorated trees, placed numerous centerpieces, washed and dried over a hundred beer steins and even more wine glasses, ran bid sheets around the building, and gossiped with my fellow members of my service club.

-Once we were finished at the bank, The Teenager and I shopped for a number of small items at the local Target while plotting the best way to leave the channel of communication between The Teenager and the Man-Cub open once The Teenager goes to college; you know, in case he needs advice about girls or some other topic that he is too embarrassed to talk to his parents about (insert sad face, here).

-After shopping, we went to lunch. Because we deserved it.

-When I got home, I spent five hours vacuuming the upstairs living room, rearranging the furniture in that space, and, deep cleaning the entire second floor until it gleamed.

-I also attempted to clean out my hope chest, with the intention of making more room for new items. This endeavor proved to be a bust since I spent a solid hour cooing over the artwork done by both children from pre-school through elementary grades, as well as newspaper clippings, documenting my family's awesomeness, notes, cards, and letters from my offspring (who, clearly loved me with a fierce passion at some point in their childhoods, sniff), and, enough baby teeth to fill the heads of two small children (go figure). I have no earthly idea what purpose it serves to save the teeth, but, I am loathe to discard them, so; back into the chest they went, along with every other scrap of memorabilia. I may need to invest in a second hope chest. I'm sure Hugh will be thrilled.

-After I cleaned, I went to the hardware store to work on the days receipts, before returning to the house for pizza and a movie marathon with the children (Hugh was working at a weekend-long security) before falling into a deeply rewarding sleep.

Today, I plan to knock the following items off my list:

-Clean and organize my craft room, set up my holiday wrapping station.

-Wrap my out-of-town Christmas presents, box those that require postage and set aside the packages that Oscar and Emily will be transporting to Maine for the East Coast family members, later this month.

-Take photos for the annual Christmas card. Design and order said cards.

-Order The Teenager's senior pictures.

-Laundry. Tons and tons of laundry.

-Finish making a holiday garland and wreath that I started a while back.

-Take the Man-Cub on a drive.

-Grocery shopping.

-OPIcure with a new shade of OPI, recently procured from the Mariah Carey Holiday collection.

-Try out a new recipe for an Asian-inspired dish.

And, that about covers it.

You'll notice I haven't scheduled time for a nap. It's like a Christmas miracle!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Flotsam and Jetsam

-Hugh and The Teenager have recently developed a dependency on caffeine, specifically; they have developed a hankering for a morning cup of coffee. The first time I went to the coffee pot to pour my travel cup for the drive into work and found it empty resulted in some not-very-nice words and a withdrawal headache.

-I learned quickly, and, now; I make three times as many cups as I used to. Our coffee budget has been increased, accordingly.

-The bruise on my inner thigh is the gnarliest shade of purple that I have ever seen. It's so disturbing; I want to drop my pants and make other people look at it, just to see the horrified look on their faces. I resist the temptation, of course.

-My womens' club's annual holiday festival is next Friday. Saturday, The Teenager and I are headed into Hooterville to help set up the donated trees, wreaths, centerpieces, gift baskets, and garlands at the bank that traditionally hosts us. I have finished my contribution for this year's event and am hoping that it is well-received, pictures to follow.

-The Teenager is starting to fill out scholarship applications. One of her teachers wrote her a letter of recommendation that made both The Teenager and me cry. It's one thing to think that your kid is pretty amazing; it's another thing, entirely, to have a respected professional confirm it.

-Basketball practice is well underway for the Man-Cub. I also think he is due for another growth spurt, if the amount of food that he is consuming recently is any indication (it is). Also, God bless him for not drinking my morning coffee.

-With the energy that I have recovered since starting my thyroid meds, I have been putting more effort into my daily wardrobe. Having discovered that I wear approximately 10% of the items in my closet, I challenged myself to break out of my rut and to create new and fun outfits with what I already own (since my recently increased coffee budget has cut into my clothing allowance and all). To that end, I have set a goal to not repeat an outfit for as long as possible. So far, I am on day three.

-I have 50% of my Christmas shopping finished.

-The Man-Cub and I went to Neighboring City last weekend to pick up a video game that he had pre-ordered from a game store in the mall. While we were there, we saw Santa entertaining children in his North Pole village. It was November 9th. What. The. Fuck, Santa? I mean, really; I want to be done with the majority of my shopping before Thanksgiving so that I can enjoy the events and the traditions of the season with my family without stressing over the commercialism of the season; that doesn't mean that I want to see you before Thanksgiving as well. Back to the North Pole with you!

-That is all.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What's Your Number?

Yesterday, some co-workers and I went to Neighboring City for an enneagram training. For those of you who don't know what enneagram is (hello, EVERYONE IN THE WORLD), it is the study of personality traits based on an enneagram figure (think, geometry). According to the enneagram theory, every person is comprised of nine personality types, however, we each identify most strongly to one or two of the types.

The four hour training consisted of an in-depth description of each of the nine types, to allow us to identify which type(s) we felt we were as well as providing some helpful tips on how to better relate to people who were different types than ourselves.

I personally identified with three different types, which, the instructor said was perfectly fine. I doubt that I will use the training for much more than poking fun at my co-workers who identified with the more strident personality traits, which; it turns out that teasing others is a trait of at least one of my identified numbers, so, go figure.

Anyway, it was a decent way to kill four hours during the workday. Actually, make that six hours; there was the drive to and from Neighboring City, after all.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Yep, Still a Klutz

Saturday afternoon, I took a couple of young men out for a senior picture shoot. I don't normally shoot pictures for people, other than my close friends and family, but; these boys wouldn't have had an opportunity to get senior pictures, otherwise, so, off we went.

Our first stop was a railroad trestle that runs over a small creek. The shot I wanted required us to climb down into a gulch and then up onto the beams running under the trestle. I was doing really well, shooting away, when I temporarily forgot that I was standing on a six inch beam, suspended seven feet over a moving water source; I took a small step to my right, to get a better angle on the light, aaaand, I fell. Because, of course I did.

Luckily for me, I am still part monkey and was able to catch myself by hooking my left leg over the beam, while doing a fabulously awesome side twist that allowed me to protect my camera as my right arm slammed into the beam, thus saving myself from the additional embarrassment of tumbling into the creek or the agony of ruining my Canon. Indeed, the worst that I emerged with were a wicked bruise on my left inner thigh, a slightly-less-wicked bruise on the inside of my left knee, a barely noticeable bruise on my right forearm, a scratch on my right wrist and a severely damaged ego. Which, really isn't all that bad when one considers how bad the damage could have been.

The boys fared far worse; I don't think they will ever get the image out of their minds. They may require therapy.

But! I got the shot I wanted. And, really, that is all that matters.

Besides, at this point in my life, I am totally used to holding an ice bag to some random part of my body while popping ibuprofen like candy; it comes with Klutz Territory.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

It Was Nice While It Lasted

The Man-Cub started practice for basketball today. Technically, it was an open gym-not a fully sanctioned practice, but, we all know that, when a coach encourages a kid to go to open gym, what he's really saying is the kid better be ready to practice. It's coach-speak.

So, it's just a matter of time before we find ourselves in the bleachers, cheering for the Fearsome Foursome as they pound down the court, hoping to find nothing but net.

And, I had just gotten over the latest case of bleacher butt, too.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Death of Black Friday, and, of Thanksgiving in General

I heard on today's news that Kmart is planning to be open for twenty-four hours, starting on Thanksgiving morning. Other stores are sure to follow. Which, means that people who usually get up well before dawn to take advantage of the sales on Black Friday; will most likely be sleeping in this year.

I hope they are thankful for those extra hours of sleep and for the deals that come early.

Actually, I hope they remember to be thankful at all, what with the whole "pissing on the tradition of gathering as a family to give thanks for one's blessings" and all.

What IS this country coming to?

As for me and mine, we will be safely ensconced in our home, enjoying good food, great company, the Macy's parade, and our own traditions, which include putting up the Christmas tree and watching the first in our extensive library of holiday classics on DVD. No crowds for us. No jockeying for position in line at the checkout counter, and, no inflated sense of achievement at having snagged the best deal on the next piece of electronic gadgetry (that will be obsolete by summer).

I actually feel sorry for the people who feel the overwhelming need to leave the warmth and safety of their homes to surf the tide of greedy consumerism; I would take a cup of hot tea and the soothing voice of Burl Ives over that noise, any day.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Baby's First Court Appearance

The Teenager went to court this morning, to plead guilty to-and ask for a deferred sentence-on a speeding ticket that she received back in September. She was nervous, as would be expected, but she did great. She maintained eye contact with the judge, answered her questions in a clear voice, using a polite tone, and, when the judge asked for reasons to grant the deferred sentence; The Teenager indicated that she was ready to provide a transcript of her grades, complete with class ranking, current GPA, membership in The Honor Society, and, proof of her position as editor of the school yearbook as well as her acceptance letters from a number of colleges. She was also contrite and accepted full responsibility for the ticket, as well as promising that she would make every effort to obey the posted speed limits going forward.

The judge granted the deferred sentence and The Teenager need only stay out of trouble for six months for the infraction to be cleared from her record. Hugh and I had prepared her for a deferrment of up to a year, so; six months sounded pretty good to The Teenager.

All in all, it wasn't a bad way to break the child into her country's judicial system. I mean, I see far worse offenses on a daily basis, as does Hugh, so; we'll just count our blessings on this one and call it good.

Plus, the poor kid actually comes by her lead foot naturally; from her father's side of the family, I mean, obviously.