Wednesday, October 31, 2018

It's Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus

When last we spoke, I was headed out the door to compete in Day Job's annual Halloween costume contest, and, while I'm sad to say that my costume failed to win a prize, it certainly generated a lot of laughs.

My co-workers were great sports, joining as Mary and Winifred to my Sarah Sanderson. I can't imagine doing this particular theme with anyone else, and, personally, I think we rocked the costumes.

For the record, the Sarah Sanderson costume is tough to pull off; it tends to walk a very fine line between Saucy Witch and Drag Queen. I'm really hoping I didn't cross over into gay nightclub territory, but, I'll let you be the judge.

Of course, now you're probably asking yourself how, with those awesome costumes, could we have possibly lost the contest; I mean what could be better than the Sanderson Sisters? Um... how about a bouncy T-Rex?

That's right, we lost to a dinosaur. No hard feelings, though, in fact, we invited T-Rex to join us in reverse Trick-or-Treating later in the day, delivering candy to the local Police Department and City Hall.

But, first, we played a round of Live Clue, which was ridiculously fun. I didn't win, but, seeing the creativity that my co-workers put into their costumes for the game was a prize in itself.

From left to Right, we have:  Miss White, Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum, Mr. Green, Miss Scarlet, and Mrs. Peacock.

Our administrative assistant (Professor Plum) did a fabulous job organizing the game, and, she's now talking about doing a murder mystery themed luncheon sometime in November. I'm totally up for that.

Speaking of being up for things, it's time to get off my ass and prepare for this evening's Trick-or-Treaters. I wonder how many tiny Sanderson Sisters will come to my door?

What's Up Wednesday

I am participating in my seventh link up with Sheaffer, Mel, and Shay  When I joined the link-up, I thought that I would do it a couple of times and, eventually, lose steam, but, instead, "What's Up Wednesday" has become a favorite post for me; I enjoy the challenge of answering the questions, as well as reading the answers of other bloggers. Plus, I think it will  be fun to look back in a few years to see what our days looked like during this season of our life' it's so easy to forget the small details with the passing of time. Oh! Speaking of seasons, happy Halloween! I'm headed to Day Job, where two of my coworkers and I are competing together to win the office costume contest; it should be tons of fun and I will have to remember to get pictures. But, for now, on to the questions...

What We're Eating

Nothing new or very interesting. Actually, my diet has been a hot mess, lately. I'm still off sugar, but, I've found plenty of other ways to wreck my nutrition, including an almost embarrassing dependency on Goldfish crackers. I'm not proud.

What I'm Reminiscing About

When the kids were young, Jana and I had a standing date for Halloween; each year, we would meet at my house for an early dinner, making sure to serve some recipe especially adapted for the holiday. One year, we carved Jack-o-Lantern faces into orange bell peppers, stuffed them with spaghetti, and baked them; the kids loved them. Another year, we made hot dog mummies, and, yet another year, we created an "eyeball" stew that we served to very mixed reviews; for the most part, though, as long as a dish was tasty and creepy, it met the quality standards of the kids. After dinner and a mandatory viewing of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, we fixed up thermoses of hot chocolate laced with peppermint schnapps or hot coffee liberally laced with Baileys and hit the streets for Trick-or-Treating.

To be  clear, the thermoses were for me and Jana, not for the kids, because, a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do (this is a motto that served me well through the pre-school, elementary, middle school, and high school years, and, which I still embrace today, enthusiastically).

Anyhoodle, I miss those days and would love to recreate them, but, following Trick-or-Treaters around on Halloween night with a thermos of spiked cocoa now would just be creepy. Although, if Jana's up for it, I guess we could give it a shot...ha! Kidding. Mostly.

Our motley crew, circa 2008
Including the ghost of Elvis, thank you, thankyouverymuch

What I'm Loving

In no particular order:

This wine glass...

These dish towels (Mary Lake Thompson has become my favorite folk artist)...

Cozy fires on chilly nights...

And, this candle...

What We've Been Up To

Haunting the yard! Hugh and I completed this year's Halloween lawn display a lot later in the month than we aimed for, but, with plenty of time to spare. The neighborhood kids have already made their annual trek down the road to check it out and, they gave it two thumbs up...times five, which brings our total score to ten thumbs up. Success!

The display is super creepy at night, so I am sure that the Trick-or-Treaters will get a kick out of it later tonight.

What I'm Dreading

I'm not exactly dreading it, but, I turn 50 on the 28th of November. I know it's just a number, and, that 50 is like the new 40 and all that, but, I would be lying if I said that I'm super-excited about the prospect of turning a half century old. Beats the alternative, I suppose.

What I'm Working On

I recently purged my cupboards and pantries and started organizing the cabinets in my mudroom. All of which was sorely needed and which has inspired me to tackle all of the closets in the house. You know, eventually.

What I'm Excited About

I mentioned our Halloween party at Day Job at the beginning of this post, and, I'm looking forward to that later today. I'm really excited about my costume and about the live Clue game that we are going to be playing; the administrative assistant decorated all of the rooms for the game earlier today and she did an amazing job; it's going to be a blast to play. Also, back in the day, I rocked the board game, so, I'm fairly confident in my ability to pull out a win.

What I'm Watching

The Haunting of Hill House. I binge-watched the entire series in just a couple of days and I enjoyed every creepy, freaky, scary, touching, and suspenseful minute.

What I'm Reading

Recently, I am having a love affair with Kristin Hannah; since finishing The Great Alone last month, I've read a couple more of her books.

From Amazon: In the rugged Pacific Northwest lies the Olympic National Forest—nearly a million acres of impenetrable darkness and impossible beauty. From deep within this old growth forest, a six-year-old girl appears. Speechless and alone, she offers no clue as to her identity, no hint of her past.
Having retreated to her western Washington hometown after a scandal left her career in ruins, child psychiatrist Dr. Julia Cates is determined to free the extraordinary little girl she calls Alice from a prison of unimaginable fear and isolation. To reach her, Julia must discover the truth about Alice’s past—although doing so requires help from Julia’s estranged sister, a local police officer. The shocking facts of Alice’s life test the limits of Julia’s faith and strength, even as she struggles to make a home for Alice—and for herself.

I really enjoyed this story; it was unique and fresh, and, so well-told. I highly recommend it.

My next Kristin Hannah read was

From AmazonIn the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the "coolest girl in the world" moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all---beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer's end they've become TullyandKate. Inseparable.
So begins Kristin Hannah's magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.
I loved this story so much, I immediately ordered the sequel, Fly Away. I haven't started it yet, but I am looking forward to talking about it in next month's What's Up Wednesday. I think it's pretty clear that Kristin Hannah has become one of my favorite authors, right up there with Maeve Binchy and Elin Hilderbrand.

What I'm Listening To

On my right, the dog is snoring, and, to the left, the cat is wheezing. Not quite sure what's up with that but I damn straight hope it doesn't result in an expensive trip to the vet.

What I'm Wearing

Fall weather hit hard this month, so I have finally busted out the thermal henleys, warm cardigans, and over-the-knee boots. I haven't quite gotten into scarf mode yet, but, time's a comin'.

What We're Doing This Weekend

Queen B is coming down to spend some time with me, and, we are going to put together her graduation announcements. I can't believe I'm about to be the parent of a college graduate, but, then again, I am about to turn 50 (throw-up, in my mouth, most unpleasant).

We spent a day together the weekend before last, taking pictures for the announcements, and, they turned out great! We have a couple of favorites, but, I'm not planning to share them here until closer to her graduation in December.

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month

Thanksgiving! I'm hosting dinner again this year and I'm thrilled! For me, there is nothing more enjoyable than simultaneously cooking a turkey with all the trimmings while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while decorating the Christmas tree with family and friends. In my opinion, it's the best of all worlds! Probably because I was born on Thanksgiving day...50 years ago (again, throw up, in my mouth).

Bonus Question: What Was Your Favorite Halloween Costume

This is a tough one! I've had a lot of really great costumes over the years, but, these are two of my all-time favorites:

Dead Prom Queen. 

The year after Hugh and I got married, we participated in a haunted house put on by the aquatic facility at which I was the Director; one of my lifeguards made the bloody stake out of...well, a wood stake, that was attached to a leather belt that hooked around my waist. I picked up the prom dress at a local thrift store, cut a hole in the front, strapped on the bloodied stake, popped it out the hole, and voila! Dead Prom Queen!


I wore this costume to Queen B's first grade classroom in 2001. I had volunteered as Room Mother for the Halloween party, and, knowing that I would need back-up, I convinced Hugh to go along. Since it was a family affair, it was only right and natural that, once Queen B decided to be Snow White, the rest of us would match the, Hugh spent an hour of his time dressed as Grumpy, squatting on a tiny chair making spiders out of cut-up egg cartons and pipe cleaners. Good times.

For the record, I'm not entirely certain the Man-Cub has ever forgiven me for that Dopey costume.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

I'm Becoming My Grandmother, and, Not in a GOOD Way

Yesterday, I got a wild hair to reorganize my kitchen cupboards and pantry. The inspiration struck while I was mining its contents for a can of fire roasted tomatoes to use in a new crockpot recipe that I saw on Pinterest, which, is yet another example of Pinterest Fails ruining my Saturday, but, I digress..., when I didn't spy a can of tomatoes upon first glance, I started digging deeper, pulling out items as I went. At some point, it occurred to me to start looking at the expiration dates on the items that I was pulling out, and, I was mortified by the number of things that were not only past their sell-by dates, but, past them by years.

Years, people!

This is what happens when one has a pantry that is too large for practical purposes, I mean; I am no longer feeding an army of teenagers, here; it's now just Hugh and me, on a good day. Clearly, there is no need to stockpile canned and packaged goods like they are either going out of style, or, will be the only thing standing between us and starvation come the Zombie Apocalypse.

The entire experience reminded me of the time that we went to Texas to spend a holiday with my grandmother on my Dad's side; my mom ended up cleaning out the fridge and cupboards, both of which were full of expired products, products that my grandma was still using! We were, of course, horrified.

Well, yesterday, I was horrified by the sheer volume of stuff that I tossed; it felt completely wasteful. On the other hand, there was no way I was going to donate expired items to the shelter or food bank (remember, we are talking years past the expiration dates, in some cases), so, I didn't have a lot of options.

Moving forward, I will be far more mindful to not purchase more than I can realistically use within the time frame stamped on the can or package. I will also be able to take pride in the fact that I inherited my grandmother's legs, and not her hoarding tendencies.

On the bright side, my pantry and cupboards have never looked more organized.



(How many jars of sprinkles does one woman need?)

 (Seriously, this is ridiculous)


My next goal is to tackle the freezers, not to get rid of stuff, but to use it, so; you can probably expect this year's version of Wacky Recipes from the Pantry Purge coming at you, soon.

Shit's about to get interesting.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Friday Favorites on a Saturday: A Year in Chalkboard Art Edition

I missed posting this yesterday because I was in an all-day training for Day Job. The training is the first step in preparing me to move into a trainer position that will take me across the state (there are only a handful of people doing the work I'm doing, and the goal is to train an entire statewide workforce within the next three years; this could be tons of fun, or, a giant pain in the ass. The jury is still out).

I figured "better late than never" however, so, today, I am sharing a year in the life of the chalkboard that I purchased at Neighbor Pam's barn sale the spring before last. I am honing my artistic skills on this chalkboard, which, isn't really saying much, but, I have enjoyed the challenge of capturing an artistic design for each season.

 Halloween, 2017

 Thanksgiving, 2017

 Christmas 2017

 Winter, 2018

 Spring, 2018

 Early Summer, 2018

 Late Summer, 2018

Halloween, 2018

And, that wraps it up. I'm currently scouring Pinterest for an appropriate design idea for this year's Thanksgiving board, but, so far, have come up short. The challenge with the board is that it is super long and narrow, so, landscape designs are kind of out of the question, which, means that I will probably land on the tallest, skinniest Thanksgiving turkey ever depicted. But, hey; at least I'm making good use of the chalkboard that Hugh swore I would never use.

As an aside, have you noticed that I appear to live to prove Hugh wrong? There's probably a therapy topic in there, somewhere.

As another aside, the string at the top of the board was meant to hold a piece of chalk, back when my original intent was to use the chalkboard to write my grocery list on. You know, before it occurred to me that, a grocery list on a giant-ass chalkboard wasn't exactly helpful when venturing to the store, unless I wanted to pack it on my back, which, totally brings to mind The Flintstones: I could channel Wilma, chiseling my list on a slab of granite and then hauling it to the Bedrock Piggly Wiggly...


Perhaps it is time to remove that useless piece of string.