Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fall 2017 Bucket List in Review

It's almost time for another seasonal bucket list, but, before we can move on to new goals, we must check in on the old.

As an aside, perhaps, one of the new goals should include not speaking in plural, I mean, really, do I have a mouse in my pocket or something?


So, how did I do on the current list?

1.  Take control of my health. Eat a healthy diet. Exercise regularly. Holy shit, people, I actually made some progress on this one! Five millionth time is a charm, apparently. But, seriously, I have managed to avoid both sugar and diet soda since the end of August. I've walked pretty much daily, in fact, I can count on less than five fingers the number of times I have missed accomplishing my 10,000 step goal. I feel quite a bit better than I did three months ago, and, even though I have a way to go; I am proud of my progress.

2.  Step outside my comfort zone as often as possible. Challenge myself to do new things. Umm, photographing a wedding? I'd say I stepped out of my comfort zone, for sure. Hiking with Kristi? That was outside my comfort zone at the time. New challenges at work? Check. Nailing this one, clearly.

3.  Go on a winery tour with friends. Kill me. Kill me, now. I will clearly never accomplish this.

4.  Decorate for Halloween, even if I wasn't feeling it this year. Nailed it! Actually ended up feeling pretty darn good about it.

5.  Visit one new place. Discover one new thing. Eat one new food.  Visited Baltimore for the first time. Discovered a new-found tolerance for some of my more annoying co-workers (that counts, right?). Ate my first Kentucky Brown while in Baltimore. It was delicious.

Now, I know this list wasn't exactly ambitious, but, for being my first list as an empty-nester, I think I did a pretty respectable job of it.

Tomorrow, I'll attempt to create a slightly more industrious list. Or, I won't; I am still really new at this "putting myself first" nonsense that everyone keeps telling me I should be taking advantage of, after all.

If I Had Better Photoshop Skills I Would Put Maui's Face on a Milk Carton

Maui is still missing. The search has been exhausted and we now have to face the fact that he is never coming back. Despite aggressive interrogation of the two prime suspects in his disappearance, no new information has been obtained. In short, the mystery may never be solved.

Rest in peace, Maui Fish.

In other news, I had another migraine yesterday; that's exactly one month and one day since the last one sidelined me in the Hellmouth parking lot. Hormones, much?

In other, other news, I am becoming increasingly concerned about that fat fucker over in North Korea. The Man-Cub is having to do bomb drills and other such emergency-preparedness crap and I am becoming ragey. Deep breaths, Chelle; he'll be back home in twelve days...

In less ragey-but sadder-news, Mama Jill lost her sweet daddy last night. His death was not unexpected but, no matter how much time you have to process that or to prepare yourself, you can never be ready to lose the person who has been a touchstone throughout your life. My heart is so sad for my friend.

On a happier note, my nephew and his wife have asked me to take pictures of their daughter in December, which means that I will finally get to meet her in person. I am scouring Pintrest for holiday-themed photo shoot ideas even as we speak.

On the happiest note of all; her photos will require neither Photoshop nor a milk carton.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

It's My Birthday and I Fear the Rapture is Upon Us

These two things are in no way related.

I swear.

So. Why do I fear that End Times are near? Well, this evening, when I went to feed Maui the Fish his daily food pellets, he was missing from his bowl.

Missing. Gone. Disappeared.

And, before you tell me that there is some reasonable explanation for his disappearance-such as, oh, the cats got him, or some such nonsense-let me assure you that the position of his bowl on the bookcase makes it virtually impossible for a cat to reach him, let alone fish him (no pun intended) out of his bowl and eat him without leaving some trace. In all honestly, the bowl would have had to have moved, at least a bit, and, there would have been splashing.

So. Rapture.

Prepare yourselves.

I am personally happy to have spent the last 49 years on this lovely planet, with the lovely people to whom I am related whether by blood, marriage, friendship, or circumstance; they made this birthday enjoyable and memorable. And, if I am caught up in the rapture prior to seeing it through to my 50th year, well, at least I know I'll go with good company.

It'll also be nice to see Maui again.

Totally gratuitous photo of my first birthday; I still have that sock monkey in my possession, he resides on the rocking chair in my guest room. Or, at least he did the last time I looked. It probably wouldn't hurt to look again, what with how things are going missing around here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ok, It Can Snow Now

We saw the Man-Cub off at the airport early yesterday morning and I worried non-stop until he called at a little past midnight last night to let us know that he had made it safely to Hawaii. I had good reason to worry; his first flight was delayed by an hour, causing him to miss his connecting flight, which meant that he had to actually approach a customer service representative to book a new flight.

By himself.

Mah baybeee!

Anyhoodle, he's squared away again at school, where he will be studying furiously for his finals, I'm sure.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, I am finally finished decorating the house for Christmas. It looks fabulous, if I do say so myself. The only way to improve upon the outdoor decorations would be to have just a light dusting of snow.

Yes, I said it; I would welcome a snowfall. This may be a first.

However, let's be perfectly clear; it can snow, it just can't snow anywhere near the days that I will have a family member on the road-or in the air-on their way to my house for the holidays.

That's not asking too much, right?

Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday Favorites: Thanksgiving 2017 Edition

I already wrote about the best part about Thanksgiving this year, but, there were a lot of additional things that bear mentioning.

1. My turkey was the bomb diggity this year. I don't know if it was the extra butter that I massaged underneath the skin on the breast or the frequent basting that I gave it, but, seriously, it was one delicious bird. It looked really pretty, too.

Best part though? I didn't have to carve it; that chores always goes to Hugh and he does a really good job of (thank you, Martha Stewart Magazine, for that step-by-step tutorial that you published all those years ago!).

2. Getting to see Mikey and the Man-Cub reconnect was a huge favorite. They love each other like brothers and it's so much fun to listen to them reminisce about their shared childhood.

Reminiscing with Miss Shelley is equally awesome. I was so blessed when she and I met at the pre-school when the boys were toddlers.

3. I served dinner this year on my favorite china. It's vintage Noritake from the early 30's and I love it. I got really lucky when I found the set on eBay, because, in addition to a service for twelve, it also came with an almost complete set of serving pieces. I know I should use it more, but, the fact that it is such a complete set (and in such good condition) makes me super cautious.

4. Having the Cub home for the holiday was such an awesome surprise, and, one that I took full advantage of for my own nefarious purposes: busting the Christmas props out of the attic for our annual Christmas card photo!

The kids were really good sports about it, although, I'm sure neither of them were really hoping that they would get to spend the best food holiday of the year posing for a photo shoot; one of the things I continue to be most thankful for in my life is the ongoing patience that my offspring have with my hare-brained schemes (photos to follow at some point!). Even when it clearly exhausts them.

And, that wraps up today's Favorites. I could probably come up with quite a few more, but, it's the day after Thanksgiving, which, means that I have Christmas decorations to bust out. Black Friday may mean shopping til you drop for some people, but, here at Casa del Chelle, it means decking the halls until you faint from hunger or exhaustion.

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving leftovers!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Best. Thanksgiving. EVER!

Yesterday's Thanksgiving prep went so well; Mom and I were way ahead of the game today. I got up at 6:00 to put the turkey in the oven and the rest of the meal came together like clockwork. I was feeling pretty smug and 100% ready to entertain Oscar, Emily, Mikey, Miss Shelley, Queen B, New Boyfriend, and Queen B's boss.

Then this happened.

And my heart exploded all over the place.

Apparently, this surprise has been in the works since September.

Mom knew. Oscar and Emily knew. Queen B and New Boyfriend knew. Hell, Queen B's boss knew, which was why she agreed to lie like a rug and let me believe that the tenth place I was setting at the table was for her.

It so was not.

Mikey and Miss Shelley also knew! In fact, all my friends knew! And they all kept it a secret! Even Miss Shelley, who actually hid from me in the grocery store rather than speak to me and risk letting the cat out of the bag.

Suddenly, the recent inexplicable absence of most of my friends made sense; no one wanted to accidentally spoil the surprise, so they had been avoiding me instead. Whew! I was beginning to think there was a rumor regarding me and leprosy or something.

Happily, no.  Just amazing, wonderful, loving friends and family who wanted Thanksgiving (and my upcoming birthday) to be extra special this year. Well, my loves, you nailed it.

My heart is so full.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving: The Pre-Heat

I'm working half a day at Day Job before coming home to start the pre-Thanksgiving feast preparations. I would have preferred not to have to work at all today, but, duty calls.

Chores for this evening will include stuffing prep, cranberry sauce making, and pie baking. With any luck, the turkey will be completely thawed by the time I get home from work and I will be able to extract the neck and giblets from it's cavity (damn thing has been thawing in the fridge for a week, how much longer could this possibly take?) so that I can get them on the stove to simmer; if not, the stuffing and gravy are going to be a lot less flavorful.

In addition to the meal prep, I plan to hit the gym for my daily constitutional on the treadmill; yesterday, Co-Workers and I were able to take our usual walk, but, today, I will be solo at the workplace, so, I'll need to catch up on my steps.

I should also clean the house a bit, with company coming and all. And, I want to set the table tonight so that I don't have to do it tomorrow.

In short, lots to do today. It seems ridiculous to some people, I suppose, but, if you look at Thanksgiving as a marathon (which, I do), you have to look at today as the training period. Can't run a marathon without conditioning!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

T-Minus Two Days to Thanksgiving

Mom gets here today!

There is a 25 lb. turkey thawing in the fridge and a container of homemade pumpkin puree chillin' next to it.

My 1930's Noritake china is prepped and ready to hit the table and Hugh's carving knife is at the ready.

I think we are prepared for the most important food holiday of the year.

Time to bust out the stretchy pants!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Recent Proof of Life Photos

The Man-Cub texted me yesterday, letting me know that his Thanksgiving care package had made it to Hawaii safe and sound.

A little while later he Snapchatted me a couple of pictures which would seem to indicate that he was already enjoying the treats.

The second picture left me both sad and confused: confused because,  has his friend really never tasted pumpkin pie before? And sad, because, if that was going to be her first experience with pumpkin pie, it's a crying shame that it couldn't be my homemade version (which, incidentally, I baked the pumpkins for just this morning).

On a less confusing, and happier, note, the Cub also Snapchatted me this totally adorable picture of him and Miss Madi... may remember that Miss Madi is the girl from Denver, whose mother and I connected through one of my high school friends prior to the kids leaving for Hawaii. It tickles me that the kids have bonded and continue to hang out together.

I also credit Miss Madi with the Cub's recent willingness to try out some of the less masculine Snapchat filters.

He's doing so well with this daily check-in! I could not be more pleased.

On an entirely unrelated note, he's totally getting a shave and a haircut (two bits!) when he gets home.

Only three weeks to go!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Favorites: Products I Actually Love

If you read many blogs, you've probably seen a lot of bloggers sharing products, and, in a lot of cases, they've probably been products that they are getting paid to promote. I tend to give the side-eye to those posts. For one thing, they always show pristine packages and clearly unused products; who in their right mind would believe that a product you profess to loooove would look so untouched?

Not this girl.

When I talk about products I love, it's because I truly love-and use-them. Like, a lot. Case in point: today's favorites:

Urban Decay Naked pallets. Truly, these are the most flattering and versatile eye shadow pallets I have ever owned. They were pricey, but, they last for ages, so they end up being an economical investment in the long run. I currently own all five of the line; Naked, Naked 2, Naked 3, Smokey Eye, and Naked Heat, but I've owned 1 and 2 the longest, so they show the most use.

Too Faced Bronzer in Chocolate Soleil. This bronzer was also on the pricey side, but, like the Urban Decay, it has lasted for ages. The chocolate line is made with actual cocoa powder and it still smells like a cup of hot cocoa every time I use it.

Nars blush in Orgasm. Who doesn't love a good Orgasm (sorry Mom)? This blush is a cult favorite because it is almost universally flattering. It's also $$$, but, again, lasts forever (are you sensing a theme here?).

Nutragena Healthy Skin Enhancer. I'm not a huge fan of foundation, so this tinted enhancer is perfect for me. It provides enough coverage to even out my skin tone on bad days and it contains both SPF and retinol, so it's really like three products in one.

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara. Possibly the best mascara that I have ever owned. Other than Benefit's Yes, They're Real; that's also a great mascara.

Buxom  Full Bodies Lipstick in Nudist. Oh my, gawd, y'all; this is my favorite lipstick of all time, which, of course means that it has been discontinued. This always happens to me! I was down to the bare nubs of both the tube I keep in my vanity and the one I keep in my purse and was starting to panic when I miraculously found two more tubes on Amazon. You can bet I will be hoarding those bad boys for special occasions.

Three of my last favorites are:

Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Dry Shampoo, which I use to stretch out the time I need between hair washings. It smells amazing and doesn't gunk up, flake, or dry out my hair like some other dry shampoos I have tried.

Kenra Blow Dry Spray, the best product for helping to create a salon blow-out at home.

Enjoy Protect and Shine. This spray smells like heaven. It protects against uv rays and makes my hair shine like glass. It's also expensive as hell, so, it's a good thing that (say it with me!) it lasts a long time.

And, that wraps it up for this week's favorites. If makeup and hair products aren't your jam, this was probably a pretty boring post for you to read, but, hey! I didn't try to sell you anything!

And, it wasn't about birds, walking, or the pain in my ass! So, there's that at least.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

November Care Package

We mailed the Man-Cub's latest care package earlier this week, and, with any luck, he should be picking it up from his post office some time today. The package has a Thanksgiving theme, or, as
Thanksgiving-y as I could think to make it, anyway.

In the box:

- Ramen Noodle Bowls
- Harvest Trail Mix
- Wheat Thins
- Spray Cheese
- Cookie Butter
- Nutella
- Pop Secret Popcorn
- Smores Flavor Carmel Corn
- Velveeta Shells and Cheese
- Turkey Jerky
- Turkey Snack Sticks
- Little Debbie Snack Cakes
- Stance socks
- Steam gift card
- Charlie Brown Thanksgiving DVD
- Mini Pumpkin Pie

I wanted to include the entire menu from Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving, but, I didn't know how to get buttered toast to stay fresh during a trip over the Pacific Ocean. Plus, the Man-Cub isn't really a fan of jelly beans, so, my only nod to the movie was the popcorn.

I think he'll forgive me.

I did dress the box up a bit, you know, to add to the festive nature of the occasion.

I'm sure the effort will not be lost on the Cub.

And, that's it for care packages for this year; next month, he'll be home (happy dance! Happy dance!), and, he won't return to Hawaii until after the new year. So, time to start thinking about his February package.

Although, why rush it? Right?


The Theme of the Week is Baby's First Car Accident

Not my baby, thank God. But, twice in the span of a week, I have found myself in the position of comforting a youth who was involved in their first car accident.

The first was a minor fender-bender last Thursday, when a sixteen year old boy accidentally put his dad's car in drive instead of reverse, resulting in the car jumping the curb and taking out a brick retaining wall in the parking lot across the street from Day Job. The poor kid was in total shock and I stayed with him until his dad arrived, talking calmly with him and reassuring him that he had done everything exactly right; he stayed at the scene, he reported it to police, he had his license and insurance card in hand, and he had called his parents. I also told him about Queen B's first accident (remember that time when the kid jumped out in front of her car and she broke his leg? Yeah, good times). He appreciated the story, I think.

Last night's accident was more serious, and, truly, could have been a complete tragedy had God not had his hand on the situation.

I was driving home from Denver, where I had spent the day at a retreat for Day Job. It was dark and the traffic was moving pretty fast on the interstate. I was about two and a half hours from home when I came up behind an accident that had just happened; a young girl had hit a deer and her car was completely disabled in the right hand lane. She had no working lights, so the car-a small, dark colored sports car-was virtually invisible until you were right on top of it. Luckily, a man had stopped at just the time I did and he had a reflective vest in his truck, so he was somewhat visible to oncoming traffic. I turned on my flashers and we did the best we could to keep an additional accident from happening until another gentleman arrived with flares and was able to assist. Once the traffic was slowed down, I spent the rest of my time comforting the poor kid- a twenty year old college student, in her brand-new car (insert sad face here), who was on her way to Neighboring City to spend fall break with her family.

She was a wreck, as anyone would be. So, I took her first into my arms and then into my car. She just needed a soft place to cry and to be comforted and I was glad I could be there to give her that. I stayed with her until State Patrol arrived, some time later, and then I continued on my way. Since I had loaned her my phone to call her phone (it was lost in the accident and we located it by calling it), I had her number, so I texted with her later in the night to make sure she got home ok.

I hate accidents. I hate that kids have accidents. But, man, I hope I threw some good karma out into the universe this week, because, if either of my kids ever needs a mom to help them and I'm not there, I hope it will return to us in the form of a good Samaritan.

Monday, November 13, 2017

DIY: Farmhouse Table Make-Over

Two years ago, after Hugh finished converting our downstairs guest room into my scrapbooking room, we purchased a farmhouse table at a local discount furniture store. The table was not exactly what I wanted, but, it was functional and it was cheap-about $75 cheaper than the table closest to exactly what I was looking for. So, we went with functional and affordable over pricey and perfect.

And, the table has been exactly what I paid for-functional; it's seen a lot of crafting, scrapping, present wrapping, and, more often than I care to admit, time spent as a storage platform for whatever the next project was that I was planning.

This weekend, I finally got around to making it into what I had originally envisioned-functional, affordable, and stylish. Gone is the forest green and brown color pallet, circa late 1998, and, in it's place, vintage shabby chic, distressed, and fabulous. And, it only took a little bit of chalk paint, some sandpaper, and a coat of wax.

Oh, and time and elbow grease, both of which were free, and, of which I have plenty, recently.

I love it, and, could not be more pleased with the result; it finally matches the rest of the furniture in the room. My only regret is that I didn't do it two years ago.

Live and learn!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Because I'm Not One of THOSE People

You know, those people. The ones who skip right over Thanksgiving and start decorating for Christmas the second their Halloween decorations are stored away. Yeah, those people.

Those people are missing out.

They are missing out on the warm, rich colors of fall. They are missing out on fall-scented candles and the feeling of bounty and blessing evoked by the sight of a cornucopia, resting on a table. They are missing out on the meaning of this particular season while rushing toward the next.

Not this girl.

Nuh-uh. This girl was born on Thanksgiving and this girl celebrates it in style. The decor in my house right now is testament to that.

There will be plenty of time to deck the halls with boughs of holly after the turkey has been eaten and the last balloon in the Macy's parade has been deflated, my friends, so, slow your roll and enjoy the downtime, friends, family, and food.

Hell, I don't know, maybe take some time to count your blessings and to express gratitude for the wonders in your life.

It is called Thanksgiving, after all.