Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Winner, winner! Chicken dinner!

I'm one of those goof balls who is following a million blogs.  Most of which are far superior to my little blog.  Some are even written by professional bloggers. 

I have this routine every night where I sit down, log into Google Reader (which has saved my HOURS!), and peruse the blogs that I follow.

Some are blogs I love, some are blogs I like a lot, others are blogs I only tolerate because every once in awhile they have something of interest to me, and then there are the ones that are train wrecks--I honestly am repulsed, but can't stop looking.

Well.  One of the things I almost always do is enter giveaways.  As most of you already know, I'm sorta a sucker for anything free.  I think I would take a free ten pounds if someone offered it to me.  Come to think of it, I may have already taken a few people up on that offer.

Anywho!  I have been the lucky winner of two prizes:
A yard of beautiful fabric from Aunt Spicy (I still have to make something fun with it).
And a cute handkerchief from a long-lost friend Trevlyn.

Well, I got an email today that I won a giveaway from Gabrielle at Design Mom.  It's my biggest yet.  (Besides the multiple ten pound prizes).  I won $50 of merchandise from Cardstore.

I'm so excited. 

I feel like I won both showcases on The Price is Right.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Want to know a secret?

I really enjoy being creative.  I don't always succeed, or at least not exactly the way I planned.  But most of the time, I enjoy the process.  I'm not necessarily the person who can take four pieces of apparent junk and turn it into a masterpiece.   Or even the person who can create something from nothing.  But I can copy what someone else has done.

Now here is my problem.  Every night, around 11:15, I start itching to create.

I HAVE to do something NOW.  But, since it's super late, and I should be sleeping, and Darrell is already asleep, and I don't know exactly what I want to do, and even if I knew I probably wouldn't have the supplies, I don't do anything.  Which causes me hours of anxiety. 

Which is one of the reasons for my insomnia.

Once I start thinking about creating, I can't stop. 

So, does anyone have an idea for a quick, quiet, and quite fulfilling project I can do tonight? 

I want to get to sleep before 3.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dear hundred degree plus days,

Hi.  How are you?  I haven't seen or really heard from you in about six months.  I hope you have enjoyed your vacation.

I know you are due back soon, but really, when your friend ninety-six visited on Sunday, I was reminded that you are here for such a long time. 

You see, although you come to visit every year in the mid-Spring, I never have quite prepared sufficiently for your return.

Here is what happens:

  • After you pack things up here, the cooler air comes to visit.  I'm able to go outside and spend some quality and quantity time out with nature.  I even can wear my long sleeves without breaking a sweat.  This is autumn in the desert.
  • And then along comes winter.  And although some may say that winter never really lives here, it does come for visits.  And it even is cold sometimes.  And because we have grown so accustomed to your visits, we have a difficult time enjoying and tolerating winter.  Jack Frost really is not the most welcome guy in town, except for a few days around Christmas.  After Christmas, we are ready to wear our sweaters only as decoration and run the A/C in the car, rather than the heater.  People from the North come to visit since it reminds them of their summer and they run around in shorts.  We look at them as if they are crazy, since it is cold. 
  • Around mid-January, rainy season starts.  We have cold and wet days, that chill us to the bone.  We love to make soups and warm breads on these days and cuddle up by our TV.  These are the days that we think of you longingly.  It's so cold in the buildings at work, the store, the movie theaters, and pretty much everywhere else.  It's the one time in the year that going out to the car doesn't warm you up.  Some people even wear coats.  But since it only lasts a few days and provides us with much of the rain we need, we only gripe a little.
  • In late February, the warmer days appear, ushering in Spring.  Flowers begin to bloom.  Trees regain their leaves.  It really is a beautiful time.  However, the pollen permeates the air.  It blankets the out-of-doors and everything in it with a fine yellow dust.  Eyes run.  Noses sneeze.  People both love and hate this time.  It is too beautiful outside to stay indoors, but too allergy-rific to stay outdoors.  
  • Then, sometime in April, you start to test us.  You send friends--like ninety-six-- to see how well your return will be received.  Is it too early?  Do we want you as a visitor for a day or two or are we ready to have you move in for the longer haul?

Once you return, I do love you so.  You demand that the pollen go on hiatus.  You really get things warmed up here.  Some days, when it's really cold in my office, I look forward to sitting in my car, with no A/C, just feeling your warmth emanate to my soul.

I especially love seeing the heat waves and mirages you create on the hot asphalt.  And it's fun to walk from the cold buildings to the warm car and sink into the asphalt.


I'm not joking.

And then you heat up the pools just enough that it takes the sting away.  And I go for a dip in the water, just to cool off.  Yeah...those are good times.

So, and I don't mean to be rude, but if you would like to, you can stay on vacation a while longer.

I am quite enjoying this run of the eighties.  And I promise, if you postpone your return, our reunion will be even more joyful than you can imagine.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Guess the name of this's also a David Bowie song

So...I decided to be a more consistent blogger.  And I'm not sure it was so much a conscious decision as much as it was the natural progression of actually thinking of things to write and doing it.

But, I sort of got on a little bit of a roll.

I was posting every couple of days, some posts that were actually pretty good, if I say so myself.  (Which I obviously did).

I even had a few moments where I cracked myself up.  (Ok.  Not so unusual or difficult for me).

But then, suddenly, without much notice (which is a definition of "suddenly"), I got what people "in the business" call "Writer's Block."  (Visualize me using those silly, little in-the-air finger quotes while reading that last sentence.  I'll wait while you re-read it).

It was horrible.  I couldn't think of anything (a) witty; (b) clever; (c) informative; (d) interesting; or (e) write-able.

I was constantly trying to think of something.anything to write.

Oh look!  Glee is on!  Surely there is something Glee-ish to write about.  But no.  Although I loved it, there wasn't anything to say about it that wasn't said somewhere else.

Oooh!  I went to book club.  We talked and gabbed about all sorts of things.  Unfortunately, nothing that I could or, better yet, SHOULD write about.  I can't even write about the book, since I didn't read it.  Shameful, I know!  It's on my ever-growing to-do list.  That I don't even keep.

I survived the Easter Day earthquake.  Survived being a little bit of literary license.  It wasn't much of an earthquake here in Arizona.  Small enough that there isn't much to post on the blog.  I posted on facebook.  In fact, I may have broken the news to the world about the earthquake.  But still, not enough fodder for the blog.

And so, as you can so easily read for yourself, my life got so boring and mundane that I couldn't even make fun of myself.

I was feeling the pressure.  One could even say I was "Under Pressure."

But, I'm hoping I got a little of my "mo-jo" back.  Or maybe it was my "groove."

Whatever it was, I hope it's back for good.

PS--If you guessed the name of this post, pat yourself on the back.  I would send you a little gift, but I fear by the time I got around to sending it, you will have moved.  Thrice.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Things I can't touch

I know it sound crazy, but there are specific things out there in the world that I cannot touch.  If I do, I  have to immediately wash my hands.  But even then, sometimes no amount of washing will help. 

Galvanized steel.  For some reason, I hate the way it feels.  It gives me the willies.  Just thinking about it makes me hurt.

Bugs, reptiles, birds, and rodents.  When I was younger (like a week ago even), I couldn't even touch photos of these creatures.  In books.  Or even drawings.

Items in the garage that have dust on them.  One day, while living with my parents, my dad asked me to help him move their pop-up trailer.  It was in the garage and had dust all over it.  I really wasn't much help and nearly dropped the trailer.  I guess that's what happens when you will only touch a hundred-plus pound object with your fingertips. 

Coins or keys (for very long).  For some reason, when I touch coins or keys for longer than just a few seconds, I can taste them.  I am afraid I may have actual taste buds on my fingers.  If I experience the contact metal taste, it won't go away for hours.

I'm starting to freak myself out.

I think I need to take a shower. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I found a new hobby....

Help me now!

Editor comments:  I made this myself.  If you go to youtube, you can make your own, too.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Signs you may not be the "ideal" homemaker...

I got the idea from another blog I read.  Some of these have a basis in my real life.  Others have been inspired from comments my friends have made.  Feel free to add your own in the comments...
  1. You have a neat stack (I was going to say neat little stack, but it's no longer "little") of dishes waiting to go in the dish washer.  You are just too lazy to empty the clean dish washer and put in the dirty dishes.  By the time you put away the "cleans," you have enough "dirties" to run the dish washer and start a new neat stack.
  2. Even though you know how, and have all supplies necessary, instead of putting seven quick stitches in the hem of your pants to mend them, you iron the hem with stitch witchery every time you wear them.  It ends up taking much longer since you have to do this about once a week for five months.  Plus, when you add the time it took to drive to the store, buy the stitch witchery, and drive home (don't forget the cost of the things you "picked up since you were at the fabric store anyway," the new shoes from the store next door, and the cool treat from the DQ), you SO could have done all the mending in the pile or paid someone else to do it.
  3. If you keep the vacuum out long enough, someone else will vacuum for you.
  4. You find out that the weeds that looked so ugly three weeks ago (and were on your to-do list to be killed) flower if left alone long enough.  They actually look a little bit pretty.  And maybe, if you are really lucky, one of the neighbor kids will think so too, and pick them for his or her mom.  Another thing crossed of the to-do list.
  5. You don't have dust bunnies anymore.  And it's not because you are efficient or cleaned.  They have turned into dust elephants.
  6. The stack of magazines that started out as three, decorating a plant stand, is now closer to fifty-four that became your fifth grader's science project experiment.  To disprove gravitational forces in his house.
  7. You stop yelling at your kids to keep their hands off the walls.  Rather, you yell at them to keep running up and down the hall, flailing their filthy hands all over the walls.  It's cheaper than faux-finishing and if it looks good enough, you may be able to open your own business.  Now you just need to invite over the high school basketball team to get the hard-to-reach areas near the ceiling.
  8. You spend hours on the phone with the bank. You don't need anything from the bank.  You just enjoy the "grown-up" conversation with the automated system.
  9. You have so many "safe" places to store your important documents that you can't remember what stuff is in which "safe" place.  You find the thank you notes you wrote for your wedding six years ago while looking for your bank statements (see number 17).  You consider mailing them and hope no one realizes how long you've been married.  Then you realize they may get suspicious since you have two and one-thirds children.
  10. You run to the store, just before going to bed, after seeing you are out of milk.  Sixty-two dollars later, you put the groceries away and go to bed.  You wake up thirty minutes early to sneak to the grocery store to get the milk you forgot to buy last night.
  11. You plan for eight months the treat you are going to make for your annual turn to host bookclub.  You make funnel cakes to order, from scratch, for each guest.  You have several homemade topping options available.  You have an equally delicious "gluten-free" alternative that is a hit with everyone.  You bought new dishes, cloth napkins, and fancy glasses to serve your guests.  All for one evening with friends.  The 364 remaining evenings, you make chicken nuggets and tater tots and tell your family to "make do" with paper plates, sporks, and box juices.
  12. You love to decorate for the holidays.  You just hate un-decorating when each holiday is over.  You solve this dilemma by designating each room in the house with its own holiday.  That way you only decorate once and leave it "as-is" year-round.  If anyone complains, you counter with, "Have you always hated fill-in-the-blank holiday?"
  13. Your first child's every movement was documented in photo and video.  Your second child had the "big" moments documented.  You felt a little guilty.  So you installed security cameras in every room of the house and each car.  Now EVERY moment for EVERY child will be documented. 
  14. You decided to de-clutter.  It becomes so overwhelming you think your husband may come home to a wife, chanting like Jodie Foster in Nell.  You decided that anything that didn't move was going in the trash.  Unfortunately, you won the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, but hadn't cashed the check.  Wouldn't you know it...that giant check wasn't moving when you got that crazy de-clutter bug.
  15. You go to the Wal-mart for some peace and quiet.  The day the welfare recipients get their government checks.
  16. It's been so long since you cleaned your closet, you no longer need to buy hangers.  The closet is just so full that if you can wedge that new shirt in there, it will hang rather nicely.  Further proof of number 6.
  17.  You decide to FINALLY balance your checkbook.  You pull out the statements (yes, it's plural--like I said, it's been awhile) and the registers.  You decide a handheld calculator isn't going to cut it and pull out the big one with the receipt tape.  After awhile, you resort to an excel spreadsheet.  After spending countless hours and pulling out more hair than you knew you had, you discover that the babysitter that PROMISED to cash the check you gave her when you forgot to get cash, never did.  Two and a half years ago.  And that is why you can't balance your checkbook. You almost call her to see if she intends to cash it, but decide since she move to another CONTINENT, that she won't.  The check shows up on your next statement, but you won't find out about it for another three years, which turns out to be the next time you balance your checkbook.
  18. You wait until the day after any holiday to buy candy.  Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween. You get it for 50% or more off.  You tell your kids that Cupid, the Easter Bunny, the Great Pumpkin--whoever--had too many houses to go to ON the holiday and you agreed to let him or her to come later. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Raindrops on roses....

Do you have favorite things that nothing in the world can replace?

I most definitely do.

For years, I would only eat Yoplait Custard Style Key Lime Pie yogurt.  There was no alternative.  Now, however, it is Fage Greek Style Plain yogurt, with sugar.  I'm thinking of branching out and trying the yogurt and honey thing.  I get it at the Costco.  One liter container for $6.50.  Seriously good eats!

Another fave, which is relatively new, is my mascara.  It's Loreal's Double Extend Beauty Tubes.  You apply a white (which, I have to tell you, looks a little freaky) layer followed by a black layer.  It never smears, smudges, flakes, or runs.  It isn't waterproof, but it is.  It's kind of weird, but I l.o.v.e. it!

I love Safeway.  Not necessarily because I think their prices, selection, layout, or associates are outstanding.  But because they are closest to me and I am used to the store.  I do, however, really like many of their healthy house-brand items.

I could live on Fiber One bars.  The chocolate ones.  The ones that literally taste like a candy bar.  That are healthy for you.

TV.  All sorts.  Too much.

Napster.  I pay $15 a month for unlimited downloads.  I have amassed quite the collection.  Like so many that I can't access my library remotely.  I didn't need a home equity loan for it. (Good thing I didn't, since there isn't much equity left in homes around here.).

Target.  Do I really have to say more?

America's Test Kitchen, Cook's Country, and Cooks Illustrated.  I love the tests they do (and report about) to make a great recipe better.  I don't always agree and sometime get grossed out (using a hard-boiled egg instead of a regular egg in a cookie recipe makes me want to upchuck), but I am always intrigued.

My DVR.  (See TV, above).

Loreal Endless lipstick.  The stuff stays on for HOURS and isn't dry or stain-ish.  I have almost every shade.

Gel Roller Ball pens.  Almost any brand.  In almost any color.  I love that they are smooth and dry so quickly.  And no smears.

Ikea.  I get in a mood every few months to go.  I want to buy everything.  I think it will make me organized.  I end up buying something small-ish that doesn't help with the organization.

My cute niece Malena.  She cracks me up, even though I rarely understand what she says.  It really is difficult to understand kids on the phone.  I just end up saying wow and really a lot.  With enthusiasm.  Poor girl is going to grow up thinking people are so excited about the most mundane things.  It may be a real letdown.

Costco.  Darrell and I go probably every 10 days.  He would go more often, but we have a "No Saturday" rule.  And I get home too late most nights.  But we love it.  We are those crazy people who can go in and leave with only $20 of stuff.  We do a lot of window shopping, too.  It's a great date night.

Hawaii.  Now that is a great date night!  I've only been once, for our honeymoon, but I loved being there.  I couldn't live there...I think I would get really freaked out being so far from the mainland...but a couple of weeks would be perfect.

King sized beds.  With super soft mattresses.  One day, I will own one.  For now, it will be a hotel luxury.

Games.  Board games. Word games. Trivia games. I like them all.  I really like them when I win.

Cars with gadgets.  I almost bought a car just because it had 47 gadgets.  A hook to hang grocery bags.  And a fancy non-key ignition.  Those are always good reasons to spend thirty grand.

Chocolate.  Dark Chocolate.  I have some amazing dark chocolate with sea salt.  It is delish.  Excuse me while I eat some.  Yep, still as good as I remembered.

And Darrell.  He's my favorite thing.  Even more than Chocolate.  And ice cream combined.  It reminds me of this song, which I love:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Easter traditions

Since Easter is fast approaching, I thought I would share some of the Easter traditions that I grew up with and some that I have now.

At some point in my childhood, the Easter bunny started visiting our house on Saturdays.  My parents decided that it would be a good way to help us concentrate on the real meaning of Easter on Sunday if we weren't hyped up on sugar and talking Easter bunny stories all day. 

In my family, the Easter bunny brought candy, not eggs.  We left our Easter baskets out on the dining room table on Friday night and woke up to find a chocolate rabbit and a Reese's peanut butter egg in it.  (I can't believe how many people I've talked to recently who have never had the Reese's egg!).  We would then take our baskets and search the living room, family room, and dining room for more candy hidden throughout.  My mom, who, to her credit, was very intent on ensuring fairness in all things, hid the candy in groups of five.  When one of us would find some candy, we would call everyone else over and share.  One for Stephanie, one for Jennilyn, one for Todd, one for Julie, and one for Emily.  Eventually it got easier to just walk around together.  And, for the most part, we were honest and didn't ever just put the candy in our basket without letting everyone else know.

When I was young, the candy was always jelly beans.  Then, as we got older, my mom added in peanut M&Ms (although in the 80s, the M&Ms were regular colored M&MS--they hadn't figured out they could sell more if they colored them based on the season or holiday).  This presented problems.  My brother did not like jelly beans.  At. All.  One year, the year my dad decided our Easter candy hunt would be good viewing years later, we all fought mercilessly with Todd because he did not want to share the M&Ms he found since he did not want to receive any jelly beans.  Things escalated out of control until almost everyone was in tears and we may have even been forced to give up some of our candy as punishment.  I was fifteen and I'm sure behaved like a perfect little lady.  (I think I was a main instigator, actually).

Since then, the Easter bunny only brings M&Ms.

We also colored Easter eggs.  We did all sorts of methods.  Used the Paas brand dye to make beautifully colored pastel eggs.  Used an oily dye that made the eggs look tie-dyed.  (I remember dipping my index finger in the dye and discovering that the oily dye was extremely difficult to remove from fingers.)  I'm sure there were other methods, but I can't remember them right now.  What I do know is that not enough people in my family enjoyed hard-boiled eggs.  I also think my mom did not particularly care to boil eggs all day.  So we dyed fresh eggs and used them for the next month when we made cakes, cookies, pancakes, and the like.  A few times I remember using eggs that we had blown out the insides.  Those were mainly used to hang on our Easter tree--basically branches from which eggs hung.

We got new Easter outfits.  Usually made by my mom.  Poor lady.  I don't think she got to sleep at all the night before Easter.  My sister Jennilyn and I would get almost matching dresses.  Because of this, people would often mistake us for twins.  I'm not sure why, since we didn't look THAT much like each other.  But then you hear the stories of the people who, upon seeing a little baby girl, wearing a pink dress, with a giant bow on her head, and a neon sign that reads, "I'm a girl!" ask the mother, "So what is your little boy's name?"

I was about 31 when my mom told me I could no longer expect to receive an Easter basket.  Apparently she has a rule that when you own your own home, you can buy your own Easter basket.  As if!

So, now it's up to me to carry on some Easter traditions. 

Since I don't have kids, the Easter bunny has asked me to allow him or her to forego my house on the route.  You know, to conserve time.  I have obliged.

I don't dye eggs because I don't use them often enough to warrant dying them.  I always am sad that I can't buy the five dozen for $3 and save them for later use.  I probably would, but Darrell would have an aneurysm and I am doing my best to prevent that.

I don't make my own Easter outfit and actually rarely buy a new one.  I try to wear something that I haven't worn in a long time.  It's sort of my cue to bring out the summer church clothes.  The weather is usually warm enough that the A/C that is blasted doesn't cause frostbite.

Darrell and I buy a spiral-cut ham at Costco and make other yummy food.  We vow every year that we will eat the whole ham without letting of it go to waste (not all in one sitting, though).  This year may be our lucky year.  Darrell's dad will be joining us, so he can take some of it home with him.  Yea!

I still love the Reese's peanut butter eggs.  I decided to wait until Monday and buy them at 90% off.  A deal is so much more important to me than having them on Easter.  (90% off is just a few cents away from free, and we all know how much I love free!).

As a last story about Easter traditions, a few years ago I was eating Easter dinner at my mom and dad's house.  My sister Julie invited a friend over to join us.  My mom asked about some of her family's traditions and she told us this:

Her family lived quite a few miles away from their church building, so it was quite a trip.  I think since it was so far, the ward decided to host an Easter egg hunt after church.  She and her brothers and sisters would find tons of hard-boiled eggs and put them in their baskets.  They gorged on candy on their way home from church.  Since the ride was so long, the eggs would go bad before they could make it home.  So, their parents told them they could throw them out the windows at objects for entertainment.  It killed two birds with one stone: The parents didn't have to get rid of the eggs and the kids were occupied and not fighting one Sunday a year.  Sounds win-win to me!

Share some of your family's traditions in the comments.

I hope you have a wonderful Easter.  Here's a little reminder of why we celebrate: