Sunday, December 14, 2014

CATastrophes And Cereal Killers

I had a few minutes Friday afternoon to sit with my feet up before going to my side gig, helping with a photography business, and thought I'd make some notes for this weekend's Ten Things of Thankful post. I fixed myself a bowl of cereal and sat down in my chair-and-a-half (a/k/a my office). I held the bowl up under my chin as I took each bite, so I didn't drip any milk on my never-been-worn-before black and cream infinity scarf. Fletcher (the family Eeyore) jumped onto the arm of my chair (he is a great lover of cereal AND cereal milk). I ignored him and his sorrowful eyes, lifting the bowl to my chin for another bite, when out of NOWHERE, Fletcher head butted my bowl, sending milk and cereal all over my me, from my chin down. Milk was dripping from my face, running off my scarf and puddling onto the chair. I ran to the bathroom, pieces of cereal falling off of me as I went. My scarf had pieces of cereal in all the folds, some of which transferred to my hair when I lifted the scarf over my head. There was not only cereal down the front of my fleece jacket, but also inside it, and my shirt was wet, too.  All of this led to me calling him Asshole all weekend, and it also led to me not getting my post written until now. The little asshole is on my lap now, his butt on the mousepad, his front half pinning down my left arm, my right arm bent around his back end in order to reach the keyboard. Bear with me. Here's the list:

1. My College Boy is home for a whole month! 

2. I finally got the Christmas tree decorated. The lighted tree had been up, but undecorated, for over a week, as (a) I hadn't had a block of time large enough to use for decorating the tree without cutting severely into my beauty rest; (b) the Little Red Hen couldn't get anyone else in the house interested in helping, anyway; and (c) it was a test to see if Ruby would try to climb the tree this year, given last year's fiasco. Since the tree was still standing, I took the window of opportunity I had and got the ornaments on.

3. The College Boy helped me with some of the decorating, making sure to hang any ornaments made by, or given to, his sister on the back of the tree. (She could have done likewise to him, rather than lying on the couch two feet away from us, watching Grey's Anatomy on Netflix.)

4. Ruby did, indeed, try to climb the tree, making ingress from the windowsill rather than climbing up the trunk (center pole, really, given that it's an artificial tree). My son reached inside and pulled her back out the way she went in, and thus far, it's the only time she's tried it THAT WE KNOW ABOUT.

This year, tunneling in through the side of the tree.

Last year.

5. The preschool Christmas program was this week. The kids did a beautiful job, plus no one peed, pooped, cried or threw up on stage.

6. Pinterest win! We made Christmas trees out of fingerprints and they turned out really cute. We will laminate them and make them our placemats for our Christmas party next week.

7. Pinterest win #2! Instead of making a pan of cinnamon rolls, I used a pie pan and made one giant cinnamon roll that loosely filled the pan. After it had risen and been baked (and frosted), I had a most delicious cinnamon roll cake. I wish I had taken a picture of it, because it was GORGEOUS. You can see my inspiration for this here, at Sally's Baking Addiction.

8. Okay, so I was carrying a gallon sized ziploc bag of beads (each one the size of a small pea) down the hall from my primary classroom to my pre-k classroom, along with an armload of books and papers. I was about six feet from the (closed) door when the bag of beads slithered over my arm and all the beads spilled out. On the tile floor. Did I mention it was a gallon sized bag? And did you know that beads bounce? Imagine hundreds of beads, each of them ping, ping, pinging across the floor. It was enough to cause our music teacher to come up the stairs and the church secretary to come out of her office to see what kind of holy hell on earth was occurring. I just stood there and laughed, because what else are you going to do? I'm very grateful Miss Ruth and Miss Vanesssa came to my rescue, because between the three of us, we got most of them picked up. I suspect we will be finding beads for years, as they went under every door within about a six foot radius, including a furnace closet, two bathrooms, and two classrooms. The only reason they didn't rain down the stairs was the fact that there was a rug at the top of the stairs that caught a few hundred beads before they had a chance to make a break for it. 

9. I saw a car with antlers and a Rudolph nose this morning, and as stupid as it is, it still made me laugh.

10. My dad's 80th birthday was yesterday. Happy birthday, Daddy!

Ready or not, the holidays are upon us. You a Not? Or a Ready? Be thankful, either way, and link up your list below.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas Exploded

Has this week flown by for everyone else, or just me? There's something about being exceedingly busy that makes the days go by in a flash, and next thing I know, it's Sunday night and I haven't written a word for my Ten Things of Thankful post. But not this week! I'm not waiting until the last minute! I really hate having done so the last two weekends, because I can never get caught up at that point. BUT I'M ON IT THIS WEEK, THOUGH, BABY! 

1. I got all my Christmas stuff out of the attic (correction: my son and husband got the stuff out of the attic while I supervised), unpacked everything but the ornaments, and had my son return the empty containers to the attic before he went back to school. This by no means implies that I finished decorating the house, because I didn't and I haven't, but at least it's all out (and by "out" I mean all over the downstairs in much disarray).

2. I took my son back to college on Sunday afternoon and did a little shopping while I was in town. Ever been to a Garden Ridge store? They are AWESOME, and there is now one in the town where my son goes to school (the name of the store has changed to At Home, and boy, was I!). I found a couple of Christmas gifts, plus just some other things that I was sure I needed, including a new drying rack for the laundry room, as the old, wooden one I have had for over 20 years broke and was held together with popsicle sticks and duct tape (no lie).

3. Dinner and one-on-one time with the college boy. Can't get enough of that!

4. Oncology appointment this week. They now ask if you have traveled to Africa within the past 21 days, been in contact with anyone who has Ebola or if you have any symptoms of the disease yourself, to which, thankfully, I could answer "no." However, I DID point out that the medical personnel in the doctor's office were MUCH more likely to come in contact with someone who had been exposed to Ebola than I was and that perhaps I should be the one asking the questions. And, thankfully, they were able to answer all the questions "no" as well.

Don't you love the care they took to have this printed?
My MOTHER could do a better job making a photocopy
than whoever did this (no offense, Mom).
5.That last one counts as two.

6. And everything was fine at my appointment, the best part being when I visited with a couple in the infusion center. The woman was receiving a double treatment of chemo that day and had been there since 8:30 that morning (it was 3:00 when we were chatting). She told me she was going to be 75 this month, and she just looked marvelous and I told her so. She was so positive about her treatments and was just delightful (her husband was scheming to steal the bag of caramel popcorn I brought to the nurses and I WISHED I had another one with me to give him, he was so darling!). Remember, people, a happy heart is good medicine!

7. Pandora Traditional Christmas station.

8. After much blood, sweat and tears (literally!), I FINALLY got the lighted greenery and ribbon hung up around my front door. This was something I saw on Pinterest last year and replicated (Pinterest WIN) and thought I could just take down carefully, intact, put away, and put back up this year, but I was kind of wrong. After taking the whole thing apart, I got it reassembled and hung and it makes me happy to look at it.

9. I won a ham at a volunteer appreciation Christmas dinner. When I texted my son with the good news (ham is one of his favorite things), he asked me if I got an entire ham. No, son, just a slice....

10. I had wasabi edamame, a double dip of peppermint ice cream in a waffle cone, and a diet coke for lunch today and lived to tell about it (so far).

How was YOUR week? Did you eat anything that should have killed you? Get the house decorated for Christmas? Link up below and spill it.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 12.2.14

Emma with her role model, the libero for the Mizzou volleyball team, in 2012 and in 2014. Both wear #4 on their jerseys (happy coincidence).

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Land Of Our Pilgrim's Pride and Other Thankfuls

Here I am, behind the 8-ball again on getting my Ten Things of Thankful post done in a timely manner. Was this really a long weekend? Because it doesn't seem like one, even though it was a two day work week and five day weekend. But I'm thankful for that long weekend, plus:

1. Emma started practices for her club volleyball team last weekend. I'm so glad she's back with this team! She played with them for two years, got talked into playing on a different club team last year after deciding she wasn't going to play club ball at all, and now we're back to her original club team. Go, Spikers!

2. We celebrated Thanksgiving at preschool with feasts both days. Our Pre-K kids dress as Indians, Primary as Pilgrims and Toddlers as turkeys, and they all contribute items for the feast, plus we've talked all month about the importance of being thankful for all we have. 

Poster child for the Puritan life, right?

3. I received a delicious turkey from two darling "Indians" on Monday. Thanks, girls!

4. On Tuesday afternoon, Emma and I went to the hospital to visit a dear friend who is in hospice care. We only stayed a few minutes, just wanting to tell her we loved her, knowing it would be the last time we would see her in this life. I'm grateful we took the time to go see her, as difficult as it was for us. She looked beautiful and was so glad to see us! I wrote a 101 word story about it for a writer's workshop at Mama Kat's, and you can read about it here.

5. Wednesday morning, my parents drove to our house, then we loaded all of our stuff into their vehicle and all of us headed off to my brother's house for Thanksgiving. We turned a three and a half hour trip into a six and a half hour trip, but we made it!

6. Wednesday evening, we continued a tradition of going to see the Mizzou Tigers volleyball team play their last home game of the year. It's so exciting to watch college level volleyball! Holy mackerel, they hit that ball hard! After the game, we took time to visit with a player who is a sophomore from Springfield, Missouri, and whom we had the privilege of watching play high school ball when her high school team beat the pants off our varsity team. She even remembered meeting us last year!

My dad and brother, watching the game.

Chancellor Loftin was there. That's impressive.

This guy was wearing an SEC belt.
Who knew there was such a thing?

7. Part two of going to the volleyball game was that Emma got to visit a few minutes with her favorite Mizzou volleyball player, Sarah Meister, a senior who just played her last home game of her career. She was so sweet to take time out to speak with Emma and get her picture taken with her again. They both play libero and they are both #4, so she remembered meeting Emma before as well. When we got back to my brother's house, Emma posted the picture on Instagram and tagged Sarah, who wrote a sweet comment and then started following Emma on Instagram, which made her feel like da bomb.

Emma with Sarah, two years ago.

And with Sarah for the last game of her
college career. What a darling girl!

8. Part three: Shakespeare's Pizza. If you've ever had it, then 'nuff said.

9. Thanksgiving dinner was excellent! My brother outdid himself this year. It would have been nice to have had more mashed potatoes, though. Hopefully, next year....

My brother. Write you own caption.

10. My niece SWEARS these are not weevils in the soap in her shower, as I originally thought, but just to be on the safe side, I did not use it. (She swears it's some kind of lavender bits, but I'm still not completely convinced, given the family history, and if you haven't read this post about how my brother fed me weevils, then you should.)

Lavender? Mhm.

Now home again from our trip, Christmas decorations out of the attic and in much disarray around the house, and I've got a college boy to return to school, so I'm off and running again. Link up, if you haven't already!

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Slipping Away

The door to the room was ajar.

“Is she asleep?” I asked. “Don’t wake her up.”

But the woman gently shook her mother, who blinked, then held her arms out. My daughter went first, hugging her gently, then me, feeling how fragile she was.

She was wearing pretty pajamas instead of a hospital gown. No poking or prodding necessary; just pain medications to keep her comfortable.

“Sit down,” she instructed, and we did. We each held one of her hands, talking, smiling.

We hugged her again, told her we loved her.

And we left, not able to say the words “goodbye.”

This post was an entry for Mama Kat's Writing Workshop with the prompt:

Write a story in exactly 101 words.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

In Which I Include A Lot Of (Mostly) Useless Links In My Ten Things Of Thankful

I am behind on everything blog related this week, and I will never catch up. Even my husband has spent this weekend repeatedly asking me when I'm going to write my TToT entry. I've got 30 minutes while I wash away the grey (just shut up), so dashing it off now.

Last weekend, I was pondering my sanity for signing up to make four pies for a fundraiser, since I've really never made pie. Oh, sure, I can make a delicious pumpkin pie, using the recipe on the back of the Libby's pumpkin can my mother's secret recipe. I've made a couple of apple pies before, too, but I always used already prepared pie crusts my mother's secret pie crust recipe for those. If I were going to present myself as a pie baker (what an idiot!), then I needed to go big or go home. SO I WENT BIG! I spent last weekend practicing, and I got the crust DOWN. It was tender and flaky. My husband even said it was the best homemade pie crust he'd ever tasted. Rolling it into a perfect circle is a work-in-progress, but I don't think anyone but Martha Stewart can do that, and I have my doubts about her, figuring she relies heavily on the magic of television to accomplish that neatly rolled out circle of dough. But I get the job done with artful trimming, as my rolled out crust still resembles Great Britain more than it does a neat circle.

Picture sideways, but it doesn't matter.
It's not a circle no matter which way I turn it.

But I make it work.

And the filling? The filling was PERFECTION! Coconut cream is probably my favorite pie, especially when it has meringue on top. I learned a lot about "weeping" (which is not only what the pastry chef does but also what happens when the filling is not piping hot when the meringue is put on the pie and a layer of water forms between the two). I also made two French Silk pies, which are decadently rich, especially when made with Ghirardelli baking chocolate and covered with whipped cream.

Upside down. What's up with my pictures?
Coconut cream filling. Five eggs, milk, sugar, coconut,
other good stuff. Mmmmmmm!

Even if you don't like meringue (but you should),
you have to admit this is GORGEOUS.

Test piece of French Silk.

HUGE shout out goes to Christopher Kimball and America's Test Kitchen for being my pie tutor! I am a faithful watcher of the PBS show and proud owner of the cookbook. They don't just show you how to make something or provide you with a recipe, but they also explain why some things work and some things, well, not so much. 

I even made lemonade out of lemons with a pie crust fail. I did a horrible job rolling one out, I trimmed it too close and I didn't have enough to crimp the edges properly, making it slide down into the pan. I tried to patch a place that didn't patch so well (figured out how to do that the right way, so it wasn't all in vain), and while the pie shell was cooling on top of the stove, my husband knocked something off the top of the microwave, which, of course, landed right on the pie shell, breaking off the patch plus another huge chunk. Contrary to what you might think, I did NOT get mad about it (seriously, it was a crappy pie crust), especially because he spent the entire weekend doing all the laundry, and by all, I mean probably 9 loads, since Emma finally picked up all the clothes off the floor of her room and made a stab at making it livable again. I rolled out and baked all the other scraps of dough I had been saving, made the filling for chicken pot pie, and we ate that for supper, poured over all the sad, broken pieces of crust plus the extra pieces I baked. Happy tummies!

On Wednesday, my husband had a meeting in Kansas City, so I took the day off from preschool and rode shotgun. We left at 5:30 a.m. (gah!) and hit the road. As per my usual m.o., I drank a diet coke on my way up there. About thirty miles south of Kansas City, I realized I needed to go the bathroom. Like, really go. My husband was concerned he wasn't going to make it on time for his 8:30 meeting, so he didn't want to stop until we got closer. And closer meant about a block from the building, by which time I was absolutely whimpering when I pointed out a Burger King on the corner. "Oh, do you want me to stop?" my husband asked. Barely waiting until the car stopped moving, I lurched into the Burger King and finally relieved my poor bladder.

While in Kansas City, I made use of the time my husband was in his meeting to visit two friends with children at Children's Mercy Hospital, an amazing facility. One friend had a 14 year old daughter who was undergoing special therapy for an autoimmune disease, and we had a long visit at her suite at the Ronald McDonald House (another amazing facility). Then down the block to Children's Mercy, where I visited with another friend with a 14 year old son who has just spent 8 weeks in the hospital with a virus that attacked his nervous system. He was being discharged from the hospital, but they will be staying for another month while he undergoes intense physical therapy to help him regain use of his arms and legs (he's come a LONG way so far). Thankful that there is such a facility with specially trained physicians and nurses and therapists and other support staff to help both of these kiddos become healthy once again, and oh, so thankful for healthy children of my own.

I also got to have lunch with an old friend from high school ("old" meaning one I've had for a long time, NOT old as in years - we are far too young for that!). Great little Mexican restaurant that had delicious salsa, and we talked and talked and talked. Growing up, I lived on a street with mostly boys, and most of them at least a year younger than me, so when Debbie moved in next door when we were sophomores, I was ecstatic! I love the kind of friends whom you can just pick up with just where you left off last time. Debbie, Heather, and Dawn are all those kind of friends, and I was so lucky to get to see each of them in one day!

My husband and I went to one of my favorite stores while in Kansas City, Pryde's Old Westport, an incredible kitchen store in, well, Westport, just north of the Plaza, if you know anything about Kansas City. They have bakeware and utensils and bowls and specialty items galore and AN ENTIRE ROOM WITH JUST FIESTAWARE! I could have stayed in there all afternoon, but instead, I picked up a couple of things to aid in my pie baking and a Christmas gift for my mom (shhh, don't tell her). The woman who rang up my order commented on the pie shield I bought, and I told her I was honing my pie baking skills. "How long have you been baking pies?" she asked. "Since last weekend," I answered, taking my purchases and heading to the car. I'm a pie baker, world! 

We ran into Trader Joe's next, a store I used to shop at in Los Angeles when it was just a cheap place to get groceries and wasn't so freaking trendy. They had brussel sprouts on the stalk, which my husband had never seen before, so we got a stalk, along with various oddball things, including a couple of bottles of Two Buck Chuck. Then, before we took the two and a half hour drive home, we stopped for an early dinner at an Italian buffet, the same place Christine and I, along with Cuckoo and Buttercup, ate at when they were in Kansas City last summer for a soccer tournament. Delicious!

I spent Thursday and Friday making pies, plus a German chocolate cake from scratch, delivered them all to the venue for the show choir fundraiser, then attended the fundraiser, (making sure to eat a piece of my own pie, since it was better than any of the store bought or bakery items available at the fundraiser). 

Saturday morning? Made more pies, this time for my mother in law, who commissioned me to make two for her to take to a party. Time out to take a jaunt through a craft fair with my friend Breana, then back to pie baking. A two hour nap while the pie was cooling, delivery to my mother in law, a stop at the mall to pick up a few things from Ulta, back home and to bed ridiculously early, then up again this morning to make the dough for my great aunt's sugar cookies, a family favorite and a requirement at Thanksgiving. Club volleyball practice this afternoon, a workout at the Y, a couple of loads of laundry, a quick trip to buy feathers for the pre-k Indian headbands for our feast tomorrow, and THAT'S WHY IT TOOK ME UNTIL SUNDAY NIGHT TO POST MY TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL!

I sure HOPE there were ten things there....

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tally Ho, It's Time For Tea And Crumpets

Yes, I'm posting ANOTHER Ten Things of Thankful this weekend. Here's why:

This morning, the wonderful, amazing Charlie came to my rescue and put in my new garbage disposal. I am so thankful he came on a Saturday morning, since I had planned to spend the weekend doing a little practice pie making and was desperately in need of my sink for that. Besides, the couple of hours last night that I had to run from the kitchen to the bathroom to pour something liquid down the drain grew really old really fast. So that's #1 on my second list.

(Following is an audio recording of an excerpt from the Bob & Tom Show radio show. It just seemed fitting to include it. When you listen to it, you'll know why.)

So #2 occurred when I opened the door to let Charlie out, because sitting on my doorstep was a box.

It arrived! It arrived! It finally arrived! Several weeks ago, I was in a Facebook conversation with Lizzi (Considerings) and Piper (Talk About Cheesecake) about crumpets. As in, what the hell is a crumpet? Piper said she'd mail me some. SHE DID IT AND THEY ARRIVED! 

When I brought the package inside and opened it, the first thing I saw was a card. I pulled it out and opened it and SHE GLITTER BOMBED ME! That's #3.

Also inside the package? Two, TWO packages of crumpets. (#4) My husband got very excited just by reading the label on the package and seeing how different it was. "Look, it says 'energy' instead of 'calories.' Which is more accurate, really. Of course, they spelled 'fiber' wrong." Funny guy.

I jumped on Facebook and sent Piper a message to tell her the package had arrived. She told me how to fix and eat the crumpets. Lizzi chimed in, too, and they told me I should drink PG Tips tea (and use lots of butter and jam and toast them well, among other things). I figured some good ol' English breakfast tea would have to do, but my daughter and I had to run to the grocery store to pick up a couple of things, and I just happened to walk down the aisle that included tea and coffee. As I passed by, out of the corner of my eye, I saw (#5):

And at the Walmart Neighborhood Market, no less! I've looked at the tea display before and never have I once noticed a brand of tea called PG Tips, but there it was, so, of course, I bought it.

Following Piper's recommendation, I thoroughly toasted the crumpets. (#6).

And I got out my grandma's china and our good silverware, butter and strawberry preserves. (#7)

Miss Picky Pants, here, even poured a little milk into my tea and found out that I quite liked it that way. (I still don't like jam or jelly, but I tried it on my crumpet, just for you Piper!) The crumpets were like English muffins, except they were thicker, and the tops aren't browned. Piper's description of crumpets was that they were wet bread that you toasted and then slathered with butter and jam. In actuality, crumpets are MUCH BETTER than Piper made them sound (because how good does "wet bread" sound to YOU?). (#8)  "Tell Lizzi I feel very Downton Abbey," said my husband.

Fletcher even tried to get into the action when my husband got up to get more water for tea. (He really only wanted the butter.)

Do I look like a proper English woman, enjoying tea and crumpets? BECAUSE THAT'S HOW I FELT! (#9)

And now I've had crumpets and real English tea with sugar (okay, Stevia) and milk. And now I get to send something quintessentially American to Piper (#10).

So, fellow 'Muricans, what IS the quintessentially American food product that I should send to Piper? Shout it out below, and if you haven't done so already, link up YOUR Ten Things of Thankful while you're at it.

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