Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Good Fortune.

Fortune from my fortune cookie I had after dinner tonight:

I like that.  Think I'll save this one.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Have Returned.

In case you noticed, I've been missing for a week now.  And in case you're thinking I was on some wonderful tropic vacation,  you could not be more wrong.  I was home alright.  Home with two boys sick with the dreaded H1N1, swine flu.  And let me tell you, last week sucked.  
Last week sucked big time.

The boys are fine now, but last week was a whole different story.  Headache, fever, body ache, sore throat, coughing, tired.  They were miserable and it's always terrible to see the boys sick.  But they had exactly enough energy to argue over who had more couch space, who got to choose the next television show, who was the sickest.  Be happy I spared you of a week's worth of "boy B has a fever of 103.5 today" and "boy C has a fever of 102 and won't stop asking me for McDonald's" and "when in the hell is this swine flu going to leave my house".  We watched movies, "Full House" marathons, we played video games, we watched game shows (who knew you could find an episode of "Family Feud" on at any given moment).  I was subjected to a 1st grade spelling test (which, according to my son, I failed miserably).  My friends on Facebook became my lifeline.  They humored us by playing along with our game show questions, they offered to leave Starbucks on my porch.  It was a very long week for all of us.

But I'm back now, the boys are back at school, H1N1 has left our home,  every surface in the house has been saturated with Lysol.

It is so good to be back.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

3:33 p.m.

Ridiculously busy day today.  So just for fun, I asked my son to pick a time, anytime.   I then set the alarm on my phone to go off at that time.  The plan was to stop what I was doing when the alarm went off and take a photo wherever I was at that point in the day. 

He chose three o'clock in the afternoon.  

As it turned out, in my fascinating life,  I was at Walmart flying through the aisles with my oldest son at 3:00 p.m.  And I did not hear the alarm over him repeatedly telling me we needed to hurry home (his sleepover guests were scheduled to arrive at 4:00).  The photo above was taken in the parking lot at 3:33.  The exact moment I checked my phone and realized not only had I missed the alarm, I had missed 3 phone calls as well.

Yes, it's a very fascinating life I lead.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Corn Maze 101

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, on Tuesday I was a chaperone on my son's pumpkin patch field trip.  I also mentioned the corn maze.  

I need to elaborate on the corn maze.

Ariel view of the awesome maze.  I tracked down a farmer and asked how it was created.  

Here's the rundown.
  1. Corn is planted in a criss cross X pattern.
  2. Drawing of the maze is created on paper.
  3. The farm actually has a surveyor working on the property who is able to translate the drawing into the field of corn.
  4. GPS devices are used to map out the maze.
  5. The appropriate corn stalks are then removed from the desired paths.  If done early enough in the season, this is an easy task.  If they wait too long, an ax needs to be used to cut down the stalks.  I got the impression the ax was used more often than not.

Maps were provided should you need them.  You need them.  It's very disorienting in that sea of 7-8 feet tall corn stalks.  We had a guide, a map and there were marked signs with John Deere Trivia to let you know you were on the right path.

I still got lost.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Little Things.

Today was a good day filled with lots of little good things.

  • Yoga. The day started off with the best yoga class ever.  I mean ever.  Made me remember why I need to continue to go.  And why I need to go more often. 
  • Sunshine.  The rain stopped, the sun came out, the air warmed up.  It was wonderful.
  • Candy corn.  Officially cracked open bag number 4 today.  I so love candy corn.
  • Clean house.  The house is clean.  Until the boys came home from school, anyways.
  • Chicken nuggets.  All 3 boys are buying lunch tomorrow.  Such a rare occasion to not pack a single lunch.
  • Survivor and Grey's.  Both new episodes.
  • Short list.  Totally tackled the to do list.  Not completely, but crossed more off than I have in months.
  • Soak.  I love a good soak in a perfectly hot, bubble bath.
  • Fresh.  Freshly laundered sheets.
I need more days like today.

I loved this day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lessons Learned from a Fall Field Trip.

Chaperoned my son's field trip to a pumpkin patch today.  And what a perfect day for the trip. Couldn't think of anything I would rather do then spend the beautiful fall day with my little guy and his classmates.

And of course, there was much to be learned today.
  1. I learned that if you scratch a farm dog in exactly the right spot, he will pee all over an unsuspecting 6 year old.  Can I mention how relieved I was this child wasn't riding home with me?
  2. Prickly burrs grow in pumpkin patches.  Something I wish we had learned before we let loose a group of 1st graders into a field to find a pumpkin.
  3. Prickly burrs also grow in corn fields.  Again, something I wish I knew before I spent 15 minutes removing the burrs from the pumpkin expedition.
  4. There is one strand of corn silk for each kernel on an ear of corn.  Did not know that. 
  5. If there is one cat and one person with cat allergies on a 100+ acre farm, the cat will indeed find and stalk that one person.
  6. This rule also applies to bees and children terrified of them.
  7. I learned that the inside of a green pumpkin is orange, the inside of a white pumpkin is white.
  8. Soybeans eaten directly out of the shell taste horrific.  Trust me, they need to be roasted first.
  9. If you've watched or read "Children of the Corn", you'll find corn mazes a lot less charming and a lot more frightening.  Stupid, scary movie.
  10. Speaking of children and corn, if you are responsible for 5 boys in a corn maze, chances are they will all choose different paths in the maze.  Some will even make a path of their own (at which point the map becomes completely useless).
No bee stings, no allergic reactions to soy nuts, all children returned safely home.

A very good day.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cool Bottle with a Mysterious Lid.

That's pretty much the reason for this week's selection in my "Cheap Wine with a Pretty Label" series.  

See for yourself.

I'll keep it short but sweet this week.  Bought the wine because I was curious as to how I would get it open.  Screwed off, by the way, and there was also a cork under that silver cap.  Voga Italia is a very tasty Merlot in a cool, sleek, slightly curved bottle.  Loved the wine, loved the modern design, loved the way the half empty bottle looked (the glass is clear instead of the usual tinted red).  Most importantly, loved that it didn't make my face break out into a nasty rash (whew, not allergic to wine after all).

All this and under $10.00.  Told you I'd keep it brief.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Oh please don't go...."

we'll eat you up-we love you so!

Took my little guy to see "Where the Wild Things Are" today.  

Wow.  Please go.  You need to see this movie.

What a wonderful film.  Beautiful scenery, a touching story and creatures with such personality they made me (and my 6 year old) forget they weren't really real.   I have been waiting months for the release of this movie.  And I couldn't help but wonder how Spike Jonze would be able to turn a 338 word children's book into a 98 minute flick.  Somehow he pulled it off.  Perfectly. 

I enjoyed this movie on so many levels.  As an audience member, I was thoroughly entertained.  I laughed, I cried, I totally lost track of time.  As a mom, I could relate to having a rambunctious son (or two or three) who doesn't like frozen corn.  I could relate as a sister to a younger brother, and as a worried child who feared the sun would fail to rise in the morning.

And as an artist I couldn't help but wonder what it must feel like to watch a book you've illustrated be transformed onto the big screen.  Forty six years ago, Maurice Sendak couldn't possibly have known he was creating a story that would live on for generations.  Awe inspiring to think about.  I also found it interesting that the book's original title was to be "Where the Wild Horses Are".   After realizing Sendak had no ability to draw horses, he changed the title and subject matter.  The large noses and fat bellies of the wild things are modeled after his own relatives, and I'd love to know if the names in the movie are in honor of his aunts and uncles as well.

I was surprised (and a little nervous) that my son was one of only a handful of children in the theater.  There were dark, somewhat scary scenes, but he was not afraid.  There were also funny scenes and he laughed right along with me.  At times he was a little sad.  But he was mesmerized by the film just like I was.

Please go.

You really will love it so.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Purchase to Pay it Forward.

For those of you that don't know, yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my very 1st sale on Etsy.  And what a year it was.  I am so grateful for all of those that have supported me and the wonderful clients I have been lucky enough to work with.  A very heartfelt thank you to you all!

In honor of my anniversary, I decided to "pay it forward" by purchasing an item from an Etsyian yet to make a sale.  Their first sale on the anniversary of my first sale.  I spent hours pouncing, searching for items, reading profiles and lurking in the forums for that special something.

My search (and my heart) stopped when I found this: 

Don't you just love my new bracelet?  

The designer of this wonderful piece of jewelry and my "pay it forward" selection is Elizabeth of Elizabeth Plumb Jewelry .  I had such a wonderful time looking through her shop (I know you will, too).   But this piece was one of those "this is it, this is the one" kind of moments.  The photo of the bracelet remained open on my desktop much of the week.  I'd take a break just to stare at it every once in awhile.  I couldn't wait until Thursday when I could officially make it mine.

I have to share with you an edited description Elizabeth wrote on the piece, as it played a big part in me making this selection.

"Pearls are said to give the wearer a sense of calmness and centeredness, and to promote faith, loyalty, truth and purity.... They can especially enhance personal integrity.

Sterling Silver improves speech and brings eloquence.....Sterling Silver will also help you make a graceful entrance and exit...

Garnet is associated with vitality, courage, passion, love, sensuality and self-confidence. Garnet blesses its wearer with good health, victory over enemies and wealth. Garnet makes the person knowledgeable and improves higher education and professional prospects. Garnet improves imagination."

Every time I wear this bracelet, I know I will be reminded of this special anniversary.  And I hope the attributes in the description will help guide me through my 2nd year.   It means much more to have purchased it from Elizabeth who was so kind and grateful--makes the bracelet even more meaningful to me. 

Happy for her, happy for me, happy with my new purchase.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Leaf Letdown.

The weatherman is predicting snow this weekend.  

I hate the weatherman.

In any event, thought I'd scan the leaves one last time before the snow falls.  Walked around in the cold rainy 42 degree weather to collect them, probably ruined my scanner scanning them. Saw all kinds of beautiful trees and leaves during my frigid leaf collecting.  

Unfortunately, I did not choose to observe any of those leaves.

No, as you can see I managed to choose all the ugly brown ones or the ones that stay completely green.  Note to self: cross botany off list of back up career options.  

The top right leaf is beautiful, if I knew what kind of tree that was I would plant more of them. Bottom middle yellow leaf is pretty.  The tree it came from?  Not so much.  

All in all, leaf scan project was a total leaf letdown.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tales From a Fifth Grade Diary.

Oh my, the goodies I found while cleaning out my basement last week.  Who would have known an unmarked container could hold such treasures from my past.  A month's worth of blog posts could be written based entirely on the contents inside that plastic green box.  

The first thing I picked out to examine was this:

Behold, my 5th grade diary. 

Looking through, I can't for the life of me figure out why my younger sister would have spent so much time prying open the lock to read my entries.  The one about the time John Z. tried to set the school on fire and "almost got away with his stupid idea", was admittedly interesting.  You would think I would have a better recollection of that day.  Lots of entries on boys, pets, dancing and my best friend Carol.  No clue who Carol is, but the big fight with her led to my favorite entry in the diary.

Wednesday the 12th, 1980

"Today I made up with Carol just because she cried and her nose ran."

We're talking Pulitzer Prize material inside that little red book.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Program.

Happy to report I had a glass of wine over the weekend with no hideous, rashy side effects.  It was a boring name with an ugly label that I have had countless times before, so I won't post a review.

But next week, don't despair, I'll be back on track with my "Cheap Wine with a Pretty Label" series.

See you then!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Photo for My Future Self.

Four months from now, in the dead of winter, 
I am going to need a reminder of why I choose to live up north.

This photo of the view outside my kitchen window should help.

I like fall.  Fall is pretty.  Fall is good.  

Remember that, future self.  

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Paying It Forward on My Etsyversary.

Next Thursday, October 15th, will mark the anniversary of my very first sale on Etsy.  Listed my first item on August 28, 2008.  And let me tell you those were 48 excruciatingly long days.  Waiting, hoping, nearly giving up and closing shop altogether.  When I finally got that Etsy transaction email announcing I finally had made a sale,  I stared and stared (and stared) at the computer screen in shock.

A photo of my first item sold 
(don't worry, the name and number are fictional).

To see a "1" for sales instead of that big old goose egg I'd been staring at for 48 days gave me an incredible boost of confidence.  It made me believe maybe I really could make a go at this.  If one person would buy from me--surely someone else would as well.

It was a huge turning point.

I've thought long and hard about how I would celebrate this day.  And I can't think of a better way to mark it than by "paying it forward".  So in honor of my first sale, I will be giving an Etsyian their first sale.  I want to give someone else a boost, maybe give an artist a little bit of hope.

I have been searching and pouncing and will post in the Etsy forums as well for that special something.  My purchase will be $50 or under, and I am looking for something that I personally can not do (i.e. no papergoods, wedding items, stationery, baked goods).  

What do I like?  I love ceramics/pottery, jewelry, photography, handbags.  I am more of an artsy person, rather than crafty.  I am not particularly girly and not interested in baby or children's items.  And I do not have pets.  I love the beach, the ocean, the color blue.  Maybe this helps you if you happen to be waiting for that first sale.  

My purchase will be made on Thursday, I'll share the item with everyone on my blog on Friday.

Please don't be shy.  Take a chance.  Post a comment if you would like me to browse your shop.  I will happily check out your listings.  And if I don't select my purchase from you, maybe one of my readers will.  Keep working hard, don't give up.  You will make that first sale.

And what about you?  Made a sale and looking to pay it forward?  I'll give you a head start--my sister's shop "Lark's Nest".  I know she would love and appreciate a (non relative purchased) first sale of her own.  Or feel free to choose a listing from the comments I hope to receive. 

I truly can't wait to see what you're creating!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Get These Mutts Away from Me...

 you know I don't find this stuff amusing anymore."

Can't get these lyrics out of my head today.  It's only fair that they should be stuck in yours as well.   "You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon-- such an entertaining, classic song.   I have no idea what the lyrics mean, but I would love to have been a fly on the wall when they were written.  The entire Graceland album is beautifully written, come to think of it.  Definitely one of my favorites.

You know you're looking for a diversion, go ahead, watch the video.  Chevy Chase's subtle dance moves and silly facial expressions will have you smiling the rest of the day.

"He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture 
Spinning in infinity 
He says Amen! and Hallelujah!"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Domino, I Miss You So.

In my mass cleaning binge last week,  I recycled 6 bags of magazines I'd been holding onto.  I saved several garden magazines, a few organization publications made the cut as well.  But every single issue of the now (sadly) shuttered Domino magazine remains in my home.

Premiere issue on the left.  Final issue on the right.

Nothing like a stack of Domino's on a Baroque coffee table lacquered with 1970 Dodge avocado green automotive paint.  
I'm a Domino gal alright.  

It has been 8 months since my favorite magazine of all time ceased publication.  And I still miss receiving it. I was a loyal reader from the very beginning, subscribing shortly after that.  It was a unique magazine that I instantly connected with.  The one magazine that when it arrived in my mailbox each month, everything stopped.  I'd curl up on the couch and read all the articles, check out the website, enter the contests.  The homes featured were always unique, personal artistic places.  Not perfectly decorated symmetrical rooms you were afraid to touch anything in.  But homes comprised of pieces lovingly collected over time.  Pieces that told a story in warm, artsy welcoming spaces.

There's nothing out there like this awesome magazine, and believe me, I've certainly tried to find a replacement.  As for me?  Still working on creating that warm, artsy, not so perfect home of my own. 

So sad it will never have a chance to appear in Domino.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rash, Rain, Rant. Repeat.

And that pretty much sums up the way last week went for me.

Here's a brief rundown of the annoying week (notice I didn't say bad.  Just annoying.)

  1. Husband brings home new bottle of wine to try out.  New wine causes the entire left side of my face to break out into a very red, very unattractive itchy rash.  Thinking maybe it wasn't as bad as it looked to me, asked my husband if he could notice it.  I believe his reaction was something like "Whoa--what happened to your face!"  
  2. Bad reaction to wine leads to scrapping this week's "Cheap Wine with Pretty Labels" post.
  3. Itchy, inflamed face and rain much of the week lead me to remain housebound.
  4. Remaining housebound was boring.
  5. Boring led to a massive cleaning out of the laundry room and basement, many trips to recycle, trips to Goodwill and a lot of questions about why we own half of this stuff.
  6. Rain most of the week also led to the cancellation of both my weekly leaf photos and the hike I had hoped to take.
This week started off better.  Tried enchiladas for the first time (okay, where have they been all my life?),  baked a delicious, homemade apple crisp, went to 2 football games without getting rained on, and I am still 4-0 in the family football pool.  The rash has finally cleared up, and I enjoyed a nice glass of Red Stripe in lieu of wine.  

Oh, and my basement?  Much, much cleaner.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

89 Fake Spanish Dollars.

If you happen to have some extra fake Spanish money burning a hole in your pocket....

I just love the clever idea my son's teacher had to teach the kids how to count in Spanish last week.  She asked each child to bring in an item that they would be willing to donate to a class auction.  Something small that another child would be willing to bid on.  My son scoured the house and finally settled on three very old, unopened McDonald's Happy Meal toys.  Each child was then presented with 100 (fake) Spanish dollars to bid on the auction items.

My son had his eye on a mood ring but was outbid.  He was, however, the proud winner of a mysterious beaded ornament (I think that's what it is anyways) and the lovely fall treasure pictured above.  Somewhat surprised by the items he chose, but he had a great time counting in Spanish and competing in the auction process.  And he still had 11 fake dollars to spare at the end of the day.

I would have loved a game like this when I was growing up.  And more importantly, I'm always happy when a teacher can find a creative, exciting way for the kids to learn.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Whatever Happened to Supertramp?

"It's raining again..."

All week long, rain, rain, rain.  Cold and rainy and dreary.  I searched today for Peter, Paul and Mary's "Rain, Rain Go Away" on YouTube and came up blank (wouldn't you have liked to hear that song today?).  I did, however, stumble across another awesome song I had completely forgotten about.

I used to love Supertramp as a kid.  "Breakfast in America" was one of my most played cassettes.  I remember blaring "Goodbye Stranger" while my sister and I played Barbies.  We'd pretend Ken was singing the song as he was ditching Barbie.  For some reason Ken was always riding away on horseback during the chorus and one of us always got to pretend Barbie was crying. Looking back, I don't know if we were reenacting a western movie or just wanted to get some use of that horse.  But we would play that song and reenact this scene over and over.

As a mom now, I'm thinking my sister and I were some pretty freaky kids.  Not 100% sure I would have let my kids play with us.

Sorry, I really went off on an old person tangent today.  It's raining.  And I want to know where Supertramp went.  Ignore the crazy Barbie stuff.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Drunk Bees Ruined Everything.

See this spot?

Picture if you will, a beautiful little apple tree planted here.  That's what my secret plan was for this spot next spring.  I had all these fairy tale visions about going out and picking fresh apples off a tree growing in my own backyard.  I could picture the house smelling like homemade apple pie, making fresh apple butter, or just picking an apple off the tree for a backyard snack.

Sounds nice, doesn't it?

Two days ago, my son came home from school talking about drunk bees and apples.   And it was some scary stuff that made me rethink the whole backyard tree thing.  I've spent some time conducting super scientific google research since our conversation and it turns out to be true.  Bees really do get drunk off of fermented apples (and other fruit).  And drunk bees are mean, aggressive bees.  Mean, aggressive bees that sting and attack for no reason at all.  Probably not a good combination with a yard full of boys playing football.

So.  No apple tree.  Drunk bees ruined everything.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Sisters, Sisters..

....there were never such devoted sisters,
Never had to have a chaperone, no sir,
I'm there to keep my eye on her.
Caring, sharing...."

Sisters are great.  I ought to know as I am lucky enough to have two of them.  And they are the reason I've chosen this week's "Cheap Wine with a Pretty Label".  I'll get to the review in a minute, but first I can't resist sharing an old family photo of the three of us.

I'm the one on the left.  If I'm not mistaken, my mother made us all those matching dresses for Easter Sunday.

Back to the wine...
I have to give credit to my niece for bringing 
Middle Sister Wines to my attention, she's always scoping out new labels for me.   But, boy, I really had to search for this one--looked for weeks before finally finding it at Target of all places ($10.99 a bottle, by the way).  It was definitely worth the search.  And I know if you have a sister, you'll get a kick out of the website, the clever wording and awesome wine varieties (Rebel Red, Drama Queen and Mischief Maker to name a few).

I had some crazy times with my middle sister growing up.  And I'm sure we would both agree the day we created a circus in the backyard was our most memorable childhood story.  There are two different versions of this legendary tale in our family, both end with my sister losing a mouthful of teeth, a bloody smile, a standing ovation from the neighborhood kids and an emergency trip to the dentist.  Unfortunately, there wasn't a "Trapeze Artist" variety of this wine, so I settled for the label that would get me in the least amount of trouble with my middle sister.  "Forever Cool", a California Merlot, seemed like a safe choice.

I enjoyed the wine and I truly can't wait to try them all.  Come to think of it, I ought to buy a bottle or two for our younger brother while I'm at it.  Poor guy probably deserves it the most for putting up with the three of us his whole life.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What a Cold and Rainy Day...

...where on earth is the sun hid away?  

That's the song I hear in my head every time it rains like it rained here today.  I spent my early afternoon standing in a torrential downpour watching my sons football games (note to self: research indoor sports).

In any event, I thought it would be nice to post the song on my blog today.  Well, now there's a great way to feel ancient.  Turns out the song I've been playing in my head is 22 years old.  That's right, twenty two.   And there's a lot of questions in my head as I watched the video--the roosters?  Someone please explain that to me, I am definitely missing something.  

 Twenty two years old.  Seriously.  I need to find a new rain song. 

Anyways, did I mention it rained today?

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Igloo in Picture 10.

Here's a fun trip down memory lane. I got tagged yesterday by a fabulous new cyber friend, Victoria at The Moss Garden. I like this tag--it's clever, unique and had me curious about my own results.

The rules? Open your first photo folder, scroll to the 10th photo, post the photo and tell the story behind it. Tag people to do the same.

My 1oth photo went way back to the winter of 2003.

It's a gigantic igloo snow fort I spent the day making with my two older sons. Funny this picture turned up, the boys still talk about building this creation. My youngest son was in the house napping (I noticed the patio door is cracked open so I would be able to hear him when he woke up).

We took a huge toy bucket and filled it with snow as if we were making an oversized sandcastle at the beach. When it was complete, there was no snow left in the backyard and the fort was taller than either of the boys. Speaking of my sons, they were 6, 3 and 7 months old at the time. Just looking at this photo exhausts me.

The remnants of the fort remained well into March before it finally melted away. A nice memory, I was happy to think about the day again.

And I am tagging the following: a niece, a cousin, two bloggers with fantastic photography and a blogger that never ceases to surprise me. I'll let you try to figure out which one is which.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Undefeated and Looking For a Sure Thing.

That's the run down after two weeks in our (completely legal) Fun Family Football Pool.  I am currently undefeated and have every intention of keeping the streak alive.  My little guy, on the other hand, is winless.  The only winless participant, I should add.  He is handling this very well so far, but I'm thinking if he loses a third game...let's just say, we need a sure thing this week.  

We need a victory for the boy. 

My middle guy, also undefeated and very competitive, feels his brother's pain.  He actually spent the better half of Sunday evening researching possible options for his younger brother.

His carefully selected list is above.  

So which one is it?  Which team is the sure thing, guaranteed to win, keep civility in our home, keep the boy happy, football pick?

He has until noon Sunday to decide.  Let's hear what you have to say.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's Like Watching Paint Dry.

That's what I discovered from my weekly leaf scan project.  Fall leaves are beautiful, don't get me wrong.  I love to watch the trees changing color.  But on a weekly basis, at least at this point in the season, the individual leaves are boring with a capital B. 

Still a lot of green on those leaves.  No clue why the one scan is so freaking huge.  I guess I could lie and say I did it intentionally.

Like I said, it's about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Nice Way to End the Day.

Went to bed last night and was 
greeted by this post it on my bedroom door.

A note from my little guy.  The perfect way to end my day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Monster of a Wine.

I confess, I cheated on this week's "Cheap Wine with a Pretty Label". 

  1. Didn't really drink it this week, actually drank it awhile ago and saved the bottle.
  2. In fact, I drank it so long ago that I no longer remember what it tasted like.  It must have been good.  I would have remembered if I didn't like it (this is really not helping my fantasy of being a world famous wine reviewer).
  3. I did not choose this bottle, this one was my husband's choice.  Frankly, I am a little afraid of this label.
So here it is (and I am sure the winemaker is thrilled of my mention so far.  Hopefully, they will never read this post.)

The Big Red Monster is a California Red Wine produced by Bennett Family Vineyards.  My husband bought it somewhere within a 10 mile radius of our house (just can't remember where) for under $10.  Definitely an original, reach out and grab you design.  It would be awesome at a Halloween party or while watching an old horror flick like "Godzilla" or "King Kong".   While I don't remember what I was doing when I drank this, I can guarantee you I was not watching a horror movie (those films absolutely terrify me).

Oh, and don't worry, I did consume wine this weekend.  Went back to my old favorite Pomelo again (can't get enough of that wine).  And also, I was joking about the fantasy wine reviewer thing.  Just not seeing that in my future, especially after this shameful post.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Go Take a Hike.

Really.  You should.

Every fall, the MetroParks in the county I live in hosts a Fall Hiking Spree.  Basically, participants have 3 months to hike 8 of 13 selected park trails.  First time hikers receive a hiking staff once the spree is complete, veteran hikers receive a medallion to hang on the staff.  Pretty cool and free for residents of my county.

Every fall, I say I am going to do the spree.  And every fall I never get around to it.  Until now.

And I am so glad I did.

I took the photos above.  My little guy surprised me by asking for the camera halfway through the hike.  He's never done that before, so it was interesting to see the journey through his eyes.  His photos are below.

It's okay if you like his photos more than mine, I do too.

I will note that I did have to drag the boys to the hike.  No interest at all on their part.  But once there, they had a wonderful time playing with sticks, climbing on rocks and tossing stones in the pond.  And they spent the entire car ride home picking out the next trail.  It was a great day.

1 hike down, 7 more to go.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It Went "ZIP" When It Moved and "POP" When It Stopped...

...."WHIRR" when it stood still.  I never knew just what it was and I guess I never will.

If you happen to know that those are song lyrics from "The Marvelous Toy" by Peter, Paul and Mary, can I just say I am so impressed with you right now.  

"The Marvelous Toy" is from the Peter, Paul and Mommy album.  It's about a mysterious toy that a father shares with his son and eventually the child passes on to his own son.  Just like the toy in the song, this timeless album has been handed down in my family from generation to generation.  My father shared it as a record with me when I was a child, I've listened to it on a cassette with my oldest son and now my youngest enjoys the music on his MP3 player (I wonder what format it will be on when I share it with my grandchildren).  No trip to the zoo has ever been complete without "Going to the Zoo" playing through my head at least once.  

And who doesn't know the lyrics to "Puff the Magic Dragon"?

I was truly sad when I heard the news that Mary Travers passed away on Wednesday.  Really, truly, sad in a way I don't usually feel about people I've never met.  I'm also disappointed that I never was able to see them perform live.  I never went to a Peter, Paul and Mary concert.  

And, sadly, I guess I never will.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Went to bingo last night.  Yeah, you heard me right.  Bingo.  And I learned that I can cross the professional bingo circuit off my list of back up career options.  Googled it today and there does appear to be a Bingo World Championship.  I may be missing something, but I don't know how one can practice bingo or develop a bingo strategy.

But I am thinking the picture taking, incessant talking, drinking, paper throwing and not paying attention to the bingo caller attributed to my downfall last night.  That's what I'm thinking.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Different View, Week Two.

As promised, I scanned a fresh set of leaves from the backyard today.  First a reminder of what they looked like last week.

And scans from today.

Posted by Picasa

I kept them in the same order as last week, replacing two duplicate leaves.  Third row, first image is from my magnolia tree.  First row, second image is a mystery leaf.  Absolutely no clue what kind of tree that is (frankly I don't remember what tree I got it from either, so this may be it's last appearance).

Many of the leaves are still green, but definitely a more yellowish green than last week.  And I'd love to know what's up with all the big dark spots.  I'm hoping that's normal.

Back with more scans next Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Spinach Dip and Social Media.

I heart social media.

For at least 5 years now I have been on a quest to find a nice, hot, gooey, cheesy spinach dip recipe.  As it turns out it is surprisingly difficult to find a dip that is cheesy enough without being too spinachy.   After my last attempt turned out terribly wrong, I blogged and twittered about the failure.  I asked for anyone to please pass along their delicious recipe to me.

My pleas were answered.

I wish I had taken a pretty photo of the dip before we inhaled it.  As it was, I gave myself a blistering burn on the roof of my mouth I was in such a hurry to try it fresh out of the oven.  Totally worth it, by the way.  So delicious.

Props to Megan, twitter pal extraordinaire, for passing along the recipe.

Garlicky Spinach Dip With Hearts of Palm (Cooking Light)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. To prepare dip, combine mozzarella, 1/4 cup Asiago, sour cream, and remaining ingredients, stirring until well blended. Spoon spinach mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Asiago. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Serve warm with chips.
This awesome recipe can also be found on RecipeZaar.  And I'm still open to trying more, so feel free to pass along your yummy recipes to me.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009

    Butt Crack Wine.

    I need to offer both sincere praise and a heartfelt apology to the talented illustrator of "The Slammer", this week's "Cheap Wine with a Pretty Label".

    First the praise:  Slammer Illustrator, You Rock!  What a cool, awesome label design.  I love, love, love this label.  I had such a great time checking it out, hunting down all the little details you thought up.  So clever.  I love the lock on the top of the screw top, the keys around the top of the lip.  Such a clever idea to put the year and wine scrawled into the wall like graffiti (it's a 2006 Central Coast Syrah, by the way).  And your copyrighter?  Well, let them know they rock too.  The little wine blurb on the back about being criminally rich?  Well done.

    But you didn't stop at the front of the label.  The back illustration?  That rocks, too.  So smart that the inmate's name is the name of the wine, Syrah.  This part of the illustration, however, is where my apology comes in.  It's the butt crack.  Love it, don't get me wrong.  But at this point, I apologize, the juvenile humor in me takes over and I can't think about anything but the butt crack.  Great idea coming up with a name like The Slammer, and I'm sure you labored over that decision, but I'll be referring to this one as Butt Crack Wine.  And giggling a little bit when I say it.

    Final details.  Let's see, distributed by Big House Wine Co.  (the website is worth checking out, complete with a note from the warden and a map of the cell block).  Good wine, very fruity, almost grape juice like.  The bottle was $9.99, and I enjoyed a glass while watching "The Green Mile".  Would have gone equally well with "Shawshank Redemption" (if you haven't seen this movie, you need to).

    Still cracking up about the butt crack...

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    "It Could Be 80, It Could Be 8."

    That's the age estimate the homeowner (and new friend) gave me on the latest "True Love Always" carving.  I've mentioned before that I live in a wonderful old historic town.  This drawing happens to be painted inside the detached garage of one of those beautifully renovated century homes, which gives a very wide span in predicting it's age.

    I always have so many questions when I see these declarations.  This was no exception.  Of course I wonder who Brad and Amy are, how old they were, how long this marking has been here.  I knew quite a few Brad and Amy's back in my high school days, so I imagine they are around my age.  The handwriting to me looks feminine.  I also noticed that Brad's name is first and more care is taken to writing his name.  Which leads me to think Amy lived in this house and made these marks.  I also have to wonder how her parents felt about her marking up the garage.  And then I think, maybe it was a married couple excited about buying their new home.

    In any case, if Brad and Amy are interested in a visit to the garage, their time is running out.  The building and the carving are to be torn down in the next few weeks.

    On a personal note, I do want to thank my new friend both for bringing this to my attention and allowing me to photograph it.  Met her and her husband at a dinner party last week (she's the one holding the wine bottle near the fire in my last wine post).  Thank you to "the real MH"!

    Friday, September 11, 2009

    It Just Doesn't Seem Right.

    On this day, the 8th anniversary of the day America changed, it just doesn't seem right to compose a post about the cookies I baked today.  Or the football game I'll attend tonight.  Eight years ago everything changed, yet my memory of the day is still crystal clear.  I am still as angry, sad, heartbroken, mortified, as if it had happened yesterday.  I wonder if that will ever change.

    It just doesn't seem right for me to write about my thoughts or emotions on what happened September 11th.  There are so many people more qualified to write that post and tell their story.

    What I can speak about is the little lesson that I learned 8 years ago.  The habit I picked up.

    I am always reachable.  

    My cell phone never leaves my side and it's usually in my hand.  On a walk, at the pool, grabbing the mail, a quick run to drop off my kid.  I am reachable.

    The phone calls that were placed that day haunt me still.  People calling for help or speaking to a loved one from a hijacked airplane.  Husbands calling their wife one last time from the top of a burning building.  I always think, as horrific as that situation was, they could make that one last phone call.

    So my phone is by my side.  And I hope and pray that I never have to use it for this kind of situation.  I hope and pray I never get that kind of call.  But if my phone does ring, I will be there to answer.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    We Are Ready For Some Football.

    It's that time of year again.  The return of football and also the return of our family's "perfectly legal fun football pool".

    We can thank (or blame) my dad for creating and maintaining the pool.  We can also thank (and again blame) him for making us change our names for the season.  From September until Superbowl Sunday I am known as ShaNayNay around here.  And no, I did not choose that name.  I have to note that one person's identity has not been changed.  Not sure how they got away with that.

    In theory, it is a fun family pool that keeps us all together throughout the season.  In reality, there will be lots of trash talk, disqualifications and several heated conversations about ties and playoffs.  Heaven forbid you call in your pick at 12:01 on Sunday afternoon (the rules clearly state you need to have your pick in by noon).

    What's the prize?  The prize is a yard sale find trophy complete with the winners name and year engraved on the base.  The winner has possession of the trophy all year and the bragging rights as well.  And believe me, there is definitely bragging.  I'll have a chance to take a photo of the trophy at the end of the season as I have every intention of winning it back this year.

    For now, this is ShaNaynay, signing out.

    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    A Different View.

    The view outside my window is beginning to change, another sign that fall has arrived.  Each day the trees are more and more colorful.

    Rather than take a photo of the changing backyard, I thought it would be cool to scan an individual leaf from a few of my favorite trees.  Garden experts will note there are a couple of shrub leaves in the mix as well.

    I'll try to remember to do this with a leaf from the same trees every Wednesday.  It will be interesting to see the progress from week to week.  Wonder which ones will change the fastest, have the most red, or won't change at all.

    Monday, September 7, 2009

    Antiperspirant on My Ankles.

    I have been drinking in every last second of summer, truly dreading the end of my second favorite season.  I love the ice cream, hot weather, lemonade, the long relaxing days.  I didn't think there was a single thing about summer I didn't like.

    I was wrong.

    Last night, in an effort to cram as much outside air into my weekend as possible, I went to an early evening concert with my husband and youngest son.  And I got eaten alive by mosquitoes.  They completely feasted on me as if they had never eaten before.  In between the itching, I counted the bites today.  Sixteen on one leg alone.  Sixteen, unbearably itchy bites.  I scratch, I itch, I curse, I complain.  I smack them, I obsess over them, I scratch them some more.  I can't think about anything else but the unbearable itching on my legs that won't go away.  I applied two different creams, took a hot bath, tried to pretend I didn't have the bites at all.  But the itching won't stop.

    This evening, I complain to my mother.  Now here's the kicker.  My mother tells me to roll antiperspirant "not deodorant, that won't work" on my bites.  Sounds wacky to me, but at this point I am willing to try just about anything.

    It worked.

    The itching stopped immediately and I am amazed.  She also tells me to carry a Bounce dryer sheet in my pocket when I am outside and I won't get bit in the first place.  I don't know where she gets this stuff, but I can assure you, as foolish as this sounds, I will have a dryer sheet stuffed in every pocket from June through October from this day on.

    And I'll also have antiperspirant on my ankles.

    Sunday, September 6, 2009

    Dinner and Ménage À Trois.

    Went to a wonderful dinner party last night.  And I'm not usually a fan of these kinds of nights.  But this one was spent dining under the stars in a truly beautiful garden.  Good food, new friends and out of this world cookies.  The hosts are heavily involved in the historic town we live in and it was interesting to hear them talk about the history of the homes and people in the area.  A very nice way to spend the evening.

    And, of course, there was wine.

    Ménage À Trois by Folie À Deux  has been on a long list of wines to review for my "Cheap Wine with a Pretty Label" series.  So I was thrilled to see a guest bring it to the party.  The label isn't all that interesting, but I still wish I had taken the picture earlier in the night (the caption under this image should read "hurry and take the photo before my hand catches on fire").  The name is catchy and led to dinner conversations about things I had no idea were happening in my neck of the woods.

    The wine?  Frankly, I was surprised by how much I liked it.   Actually, everyone at the party mentioned how much they enjoyed it.   Very, very good.  And as my husband said, "wine always tastes better when you share it with a group of friends".

    Saturday, September 5, 2009

    Running Out of Summer.

    Beautiful day here today.  And I'm spending as much time as I can outside enjoying it.  Football games in the morning, pool in the afternoon, dinner outside this evening.

    I tried to capture the warmth of the sun on my face at the pool today, but the iPhone view just doesn't give it justice.

    Here's my feeble attempt:

    I did have a wonderful "Sunshine On My Shoulders" YouTube video link here, but boy, was it slowing my blog down.  Unfortunately, I had to delete it.  It's a pity as it captured the sun far better than my photo did.

    Hope you are able to squeeze in a bit of sunshine into your weekend.

    Friday, September 4, 2009

    What I'll Serve My Worst Enemy.

    Well, the good news is if I ever invite my worst enemy over for dinner, I know exactly what I am going to cook for them.

    Oh, you know there's gonna be a picture of the dish.

    Give up?  It's a spinach dip.  And I know what you're thinking--how can you screw up a spinach dip.  Oh, you can all right.  Tonight I mastered that skill.

    All day long I've been craving a nice, hot, gooey, cheesy spinach dip.  I don't have a good recipe, certainly try and try to find one, but nothing compares to the dips I have eating out.  So I google and find this awesome knockoff claiming to be the same as the one they serve at California Pizza Kitchen.  I have had that dip.  That dip is delicious.  Now, I don't know who came up with the recipe I tried tonight, but it was no California Pizza Kitchen.  It was just plain nasty.  I can't get the smell out of my house, the taste out of my mouth, the memory out of my brain. 

    So if you happen to have a dip you are willing to share, I am willing to try it.  It needs to be hot and cheesy and I don't want any monkeying around with fresh spinach.  That's just silly.  If I like it, I'll let you (and everyone else) know.  If I don't, I won't rat you out.  

    Let's see what you've got.  It has to be better than the one I made tonight.

    Thursday, September 3, 2009

    Location, Location.

    The little info box in your Etsy shop with your location name?  Fill it in.  

    Here's why:

    About 6 months ago, the editor of our town magazine "Hudson Life" contacted me.  She was writing a story on local artists with shops on Etsy and wondered if I would be interested in appearing (seriously, like I'm going to turn this down).  How'd she find me, you ask?  By doing a "Shop Local" search on Etsy.  And she would never have found me if I hadn't filled in my location box accurately.

    In any event, a very nice article was written and just released this month.  Complete with a photo, a link to my website and a lengthy interview.  The magazine was distributed to over 10,000 homes in my area.  Pretty awesome free press, if you ask me.  

    Thanks, Hudson Life!

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    True Love Always.

    I was at my son's football practice last night, and noticed this carving on the picnic bench I was sitting on.

    As I traced the worn letters with my finger, I couldn't help but wonder who K.B. and S.G. were.  The carving was worn and old and I wondered if they were still together, and if not why weren't they?  I tried to guess their ages, what their names were, were they together as they carved the letters.  Or was he thinking of her while she was somewhere else?  Maybe she was the one with the knife?  I wonder if they even remember taking the time to do this in the first place. 

    Now I'm not one to condone defacing public property, but I am going to start taking photos whenever I see such an image.  I'll post them when I do and I'll call the series "True Love Always" (we used to call it "TLA" when I was in high school).  But anyways, I'm waiting for the one person to come on my blog, recognize the photo and let me know they carved that heart.  I'd love to hear that they're now married with 2.2 kids, the dog and the white picket fence.

    Probably unrealistic that this will ever happen, but wouldn't it be cool if it did?

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    A Butcher, Two Bakers, A Crazy Homemaker.

    That was my family growing up.  My dad was the butcher and my mom stayed home with me and my siblings (we would have made any person crazy).  Luckily for us kids, both my parents were fond of baking.  And very good at it.

    One of my favorite childhood memories was baking cookies with my dad to pack in our school lunches.  We'd pick a recipe from the old blue cookbook, and if we didn't have all the ingredients it required we would search and find a different one.  It was always a challenge to find a recipe on a day you didn't have eggs in the house.

    Luckily for me, the baking gene appears to be hereditary.

    Nothing like a warm chocolate chip brownie and a glass of milk after a long day at school.

    Monday, August 31, 2009

    One Less Thing.

    Every time I take a walk with the boys, we walk by a tree bearing these cool seed pods scattered around it's base.  

    And as my boys will tell you, every time I can't resist picking one up and carrying it with me the rest of the walk.  I then obsessively wonder (out loud, over and over) what kind of tree it is.

    It's a sweetgum.

    Googled it today and finally solved the tree mystery.  That's one less thing I do not know.