Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry (few days after) Christmas!

Yeah, way to slack, huh?  I totally meant to write out a heartfelt, meaningful Christmas post a few days ago and set it to auto-post on Christmas.  Which is probably why I never got around to it.  Lately it seems that blogging only works for me if it's a spur-of-the-moment sort of thing.  Since the only to-do on my list today is "finish unearthing the kitchen from the abyss it fell into over the course of the week-of-Christmas festivities," today seemed like a good day to sit down and blog.  Because I really, really hate cleaning the kitchen.  There have been things I've been wanting to blog about lately, but of course the moment I sat down, I forgot them all.  Procrastination rarely takes preparation into account.  So I decided that today's post will be about what we're all up to.

It's Christmas vacation, which means I've had both kiddos at home.  Together.  AllDayLong.  I suspect that Christmas vacation was the original inspiration for spiked egg nog.  (Although I do believe it was a stroke of genius that inspired us to get Ben a PSP and Olette a Leapster2 this year.  They are more than happy to go outside in order to earn video game time!)

Christmas was the same as Christmas usually is around here, which isn't a bad thing at all.  Except for the rain on Christmas Day.  (Particularly because Olette got a bike that she had to wait a whole day to use!)  Festivities lasted the entire month: Christmas program at Ben's school; Christmas Parade in town; Church Christmas Program; Ben's class party, and a little party hosted by one of Olette's buddies; Christmas cookie decorating with the cousins (my nephews and niece).

Messy? Yes. Fun? Of course!

I decided that everyone was getting homemade goodies from us-- no surprise there, it's what I do every year-- and that this years goodies would be fudge and chocolate truffles.  I used a new, quicker and easier recipe for the fudge* and I was very pleased with the results.  I made truffles** for the first time ever, and, despite the amount of time involved, I was surprised by how easy it was!

Christmas Eve was spent at my parents' house with all of my siblings and their families (and my baby [17-year-old] brother's girlfriend).  We had pizza, of course (following a tradition that began when I was about 2 or 3, I think), and all kinds of other foods.  We all overate and then enjoyed the whirlwind chaos that can only occur when 15 people (five of them aged 7-and-under) in a relatively small space start opening presents.

Particularly when their Neena has packed their presents with loads and loads of tinsel!

After Christmas at Mom and Dad's, we came home, checked the NORAD Santa tracker, and determined that if Santa was in Brazil, it wouldn't be long before he made it to Alabama!  The kids went to bed.  And after about an hour, finally went to sleep.  Santa came and filled stockings and left a few bigger items under the tree to be discovered on Christmas morning.  The kids waited until about 6:30 to wake us up (God bless them-- Ben had been talking about 4am before he went to bed!), and Christmas Day officially began.

Olette kicked things off by hopping on her bike (have I mentioned that we currently reside in a teeny, tiny trailer?) and riding across the living room, rolling over my bare foot in the process.  

But I forgave her-- how could you mind someone this cute riding over your foot?

Just a few moments and a huge pile of ripped wrapping paper later, and they had worked their way through all the presents.  I decided to make homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast (hey, it's a holiday!), and then settled for homemade cinnamon biscuits (less work, fewer dirty dishes, yay!) when I remembered what a mess my kitchen was after all the baking-and-making I had done the day before.  (***Side note: I also learned that if you want to cut corners on your glaze by microwaving the butter and powdered sugar together, you need to set the microwave to a low time and stand right by it, watching it like a hawk.  Moving to another room to check on something else and then forgetting about the microwave entirely results in billowing smoke and scorched black sugar.***)

After breakfast we headed next door to visit Hubby's parents, where Santa Claus had left a few things he forgot to drop off here, and where NaNa and PaPa had a big pile of presents waiting.  We had Christmas lunch there as well, and it was delicious!

Aren't they adorable?

And now, here we are four days after Christmas.  All of the decorations have been packed away already, in an effort to recover what little bit of spare space we had in the first place.  The kids have been (mostly) entertained by all of their new toys, and I've managed to (mostly) get the house put back together.  Mostly. I'm ready for school to start again so that we can all get back to our normal schedules, but otherwise, life has been great.  Except for the whole applying-for-a-mortgage adventure.  Tune in for regular updates (maybe).  It's definitely been interesting.

1 can (14 oz) condensed milk
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 tbsp butter

Combine all ingredients in a double boiler and melt together.  Pour into a greased 8x8 dish and refrigerate until firm. To serve, cut into 1" squares.

16 oz good, high quality chocolate, no less than 60% cacao, chopped
16 oz heavy cream

Combine chocolate and cream in a double boiler.  As soon as it's all melted together, pour it into a bowl and chill for about 2 hours, or until firm.  Scoop chocolate out into 2tsp-1tbsp sized chunks and place on a cookie sheet or large plate.  Refrigerate another 10 minutes, or longer if it seems very soft.  Roll chunks into balls and then roll them in the toppings of your choice.  I used chopped pistachios, crushed candy cane, cocoa powder, and instant cappuccino powder.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

If You Don't Know How To BS Correctly, You Won't Make It Far In Life

What?  It's true.  At some point or another you're going to have to do it.  Whether it's in school, where you've just been told you have to write 10 pages about something you couldn't care less about (and can't find enough information about to fill more than 5 pages about), or in the grown-up world where occasionally you just need to fill a silence or move a conversation forward.  I'm proud to say that my son, a mere seven years old, and only in the 2nd grade, is well on his way to becoming a champion BS-er.  Come on, everyone remembers writing papers or paragraphs like this at least ten times in the course or their education:

"I have learned that you have to know how to weigh to ballence.  If you do not know how to weigh you can't ballence.  You have to have stringth to ballence your self.  If you are not able to ballence you do not have streanght.  If you have no streanght you can't ballence."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crock Pot Mondays: Yeah, I Know It's Not Monday and Yeah I'm Still Calling It That

I haven't pulled out the slow cooker in several weeks, can you believe it?  Tonight's dinner will be a quick whatever-I-can-throw-together before the kids leave for church.  Tomorrow night's dinner, however will be a revival of sorts for my slow cooker, who must be feeling a little bit neglected as of late.

Since I don't have to worry any more about having everything ready before I leave, I'm going to serve it with some roasted potatoes, but you could probably throw in some potatoes to cook along with the meat if you wanted to.  I've never put potatoes in my slow cooker before (mostly because I'm pretty picky about potato preparation-- now, say that five times fast!), so unfortunately I cannot offer any guidance toward how to go about doing it.  That's what google is for, right?  (***Edit: I don't know why I said that.  Of course I've put potatoes in my slow cooker before; I do it every time I make stew.  I think what I meant to say was that I've never put just potatoes in my slow cooker.  Or I've never put potatoes in my slow cooker except when I make stew.  Really, I just don't know for sure what I meant when I said that.  Just thought you should know.***)

Slow Cooker Country Style Ribs

1 1/2 - 2lbs Country Style Pork Ribs
1 onion, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup water
salt and pepper

Scatter the sliced onions and garlic across the bottom of the slow cooker bowl. Top with the ribs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix together the water and soup until smooth, then pour over the top.  Cook on high 3-4 hours or on low 6-8 hours.

I like to serve it with mashed potatoes or rice, as the sauce makes a nice gravy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

There are a lot of things I love about this time of year.

(For the record, the weather isn't one of them, unless we're having one of those great, glorious winters where the daytime temperatures are kind enough to hover around 60 degrees.  Today's high?  44.  Current temperature?  33.  With a wind-chill of 25.  Not my kind of weather, at all.)

Things like:
--Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song 
--Christmas Cards, both the giving and receiving.
--Christmas Cookies!  And, quite honestly, the decorating is often more fun than the eating!
--The fact that it's ok to listen to Christmas music.  People tend to look at me funny when I do that in July.
--That we all get together at my parents' house on Christmas Eve for pizza and present opening, carrying on a family tradition that began when I was around two or three years old.

But my very, very favorite part of the whole Christmas season has always been decorating the Christmas tree.  I still have ornaments I've had since my very first Christmas.  And every year, unpacking them feels like opening the door to an old friend.  Every year, things are a little bit different-- the food, the place, or the people we're with-- it's nice to know that there are some things that will never change.

This year's Christmas Tree

One of my favorites, made by my Grampa.

Star ornament, given to Hubby and me the year we were married.

 (And now I have justification for adding Christmas tree/ornament pictures.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

If Murphy's Law And Monday Got Together And Had A Love Child...

This has not been the best week so far.  In fact, by now I'm not even optimistic that the next two days will be any better.  Way to start the post on a high note, huh?  Monday was really just your average Monday-- a few kinks to work out as we changed gears from "relax" to "back to the grind."  We found a house we like this past weekend, but since we're complete house-buying novices (not to mention that we weren't actually in the market, but happened to come across a deal on a fixer-upper that was just too good to pass up) we ended up wasting a trip to the real estate office, only to find out that we have to get mortgage-approved before we can move forward.  So really, the worst part of Monday was wasting a trip to Daphne for information we could just have easily gotten over the phone.  But yesterday... oh, yesterday was when things really started going wrong.

To begin with, on Monday night I put a load of Ben's school uniforms into the washing machine.  And went to bed.  Without taking the important step of removing them from the washer and putting them in the dryer.  So we were running late Tuesday morning, and to top it off had to spend an extra five minutes hunting for Ben's jacket.  Naturally.  So Ben got to school just after the bell rang.  I did a little bit of cleaning during the day, but not much since Olette's idea of playing involves bringing all of her toys out of her room into the living room.  I finally decided I was fighting a losing battle.  I managed to get the trash out and clean up the dog food that Wilbur left all over the floor and called it a day.  Before long it was time to pick up Ben from school and that's when Murphy's Law decided it was time to play.

I didn't put a jacket on.  I figured, it's 50 degrees, and I'm only leaving the car to run into the post office and drop off something at my parents' house.  I didn't put a jacket or shoes on Olette because the errands were short enough that I could leave her and her brother in the car while I ran in.  Before leaving, I looked at the new insurance cards that have been sitting on the bar for at least two weeks and thought, "I really need to put those in the cars..." but my arms were full of squirmy four-year-old, and I told myself, "I'll do it when I get home."  (I tell myself this a lot.  Ben comes by his absentmindedness honestly.)  We went to pick up Ben and headed to town to take care of the errands.  On our way, we passed Hubby who had gotten off of work early and was on his way home.  There was almost no line at the post office.  I started feeling lucky!  I dropped off what I needed to leave at my parents' house and decided to take the back way home, since there was a better chance of getting stuck behind several school buses going the other way.  So, of course, (thanks, Murphy!) I got stuck behind a school bus.  I hate being stuck behind school buses: drive a quarter mile, stop ... drive a quarter mile, stop ... drive a quarter mile, stop.  Finally, the bus turned and I saw nothing but open road ahead of me.  I was master of the road, ruler of the street, and most importantly, almost home, where all I had left to do for the day was wash some dishes and make some spaghetti for dinner.

And then I saw it.  Chevy Lumina, sort of a grayish-tan color, and about to pull out of a driveway.  She didn't see me.  After what felt like an eternity of squealing, skidding tires and ditch hopping, my truck came to a stop.  I had felt her car hit us and I was almost afraid to check the backseat.  "Everyone ok?" I asked. I heard two voices say, "Yeah," and when I turned around to look Olette asked, "Why'd you pull over?"  I had to laugh.  "Uh, you didn't notice that another car just hit us?" I asked.  Olette shook her head.  I got out of the car to check the damage and saw the other lady walking toward us.  The damage was minimal.  In fact, once Hubby showed up he said, "Oh my gosh, you have to take a picture of that!" (Side note: More interference from Murphy's Law again-- Hubby forgot his phone in the truck after our wasted trip to Daphne on Monday.  I had to get ahold of a neighbor to go to our house and tell him what happened.  I haven't decided whether it's lucky that he was off work early and happened to be at home, or bad luck that he wasn't still at work where it would have been much easier to get him on the phone.)  So I did:

Even the fire/rescue guy who showed up said that was something he'd never seen before. The lady had a Bama tag on her front bumper that managed to get stuck to my wheel!

The lady asked if we were all ok, and I assured her we were.  I asked if she was ok.  She said she thought so and apologized and said she didn't see me at all before she hit me.  (Her story changed once the State Trooper showed up and she swore she saw me talking on the phone.  I wasn't.  And even if I was, how would she have known-- she didn't see me... wasn't that why she hit me?)  The fire/rescue guys and the ambulance showed up and called for a State Trooper, and Hubby took the kids home with him, as it was 40-something degrees out by then and the only one of us with a jacket was Ben, and Olette was just in stocking-feet, and the fire/rescue guy had asked me to turn off my truck while he made sure there was nothing dangerous leaking or anything.  I had to sit in the cold for about half an hour before I got the ok to turn on the truck again.

Not content with having convinced me to go out jacket-less, leave the new, not-expired-like-the-one-in-my-glovebox insurance card at home, and take the back way home from my parents' house to avoid school buses, Murphy's Law decided it had just one more trick up its sleeve.  Naturally, one wouldn't expect a no-injury fender bender (well actually, less than a fender bender for me, but a complete front bumper loss for the other lady, so if this was math, it would probably just average out to fender bender, right?) to be on the very top of the list of priorities for the State Troopers on the best of days. But apparently the whole space-time continuum synced up just right yesterday afternoon, so not only did that lady pull out of her driveway just in time to hit me, but also just as the Troopers were changing shifts.  It took an hour for a State Trooper to show up.  ONE. HOUR.  Half of that spent shivering in my truck.  And of course, once the Trooper showed up, it took another half an hour to go through all the motions of insurance-taking, license checking, etc.  Two hours after the initial collision, I finally got to go home.  And I made the mistake of thinking, "Well, after two Monday-ish days in a row, tomorrow should be a breeze!"  I probably should have knocked on wood before bed, but I like to think I'm not very superstitious.

Guess who, once again, forgot that a load of Ben's uniforms was in the washing machine?  But it's ok. I had plenty of time to wait for them to dry.  Because it turns out that, after idling in my already-low-on-gas truck for half an hour then driving the mile between where we got hit and home, I was out of gas.  And had to wait until Hubby could leave work to bring me some.

After the week I've had so far, there's nowhere to go but up, right?  *Excuse me while I knock furiously at my wooden desk.*

(***Edit:  I just spent the past 10 minutes cleaning my kitchen floor as the dust receptacle on my vacuum cleaner just fell off for no reason as I was carrying the vacuum cleaner to the living room.***)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's Ok, I'm Still Here... Sort Of

Welcome to December!  Where in the heck did November go?  For that matter, where has the rest of the year gone?  I swear August was just a couple of weeks ago... what happened?!  Who hit the Fast Forward button?!  And when's it gonna stop?!

The past week has been crazy.  We haven't been particularly busy (although if you happen to stop by and see the shape my house is in, I will lie to you and say we've all been just so, so busy so that you don't wonder what sort of wild animals live here), but we've had just enough going on that, on top of trying to recover from a five-day weekend (why is it that the more relaxing we do, the harder it is to get back into the groove?), all the normal day-to-day things have been slipping through the cracks.  My hubby who, thankfully, is mostly understanding of the fact that I am a whole new breed of scatterbrained, volunteered to clean the kitchen last weekend.  I have never seen anything so sexy in my life.  I'm not exaggerating.  We've had lots of running errands to do, mostly because businesses had odd operating hours last week.  (Side note: I did my first ever camp-out-at-a-store-until-they-open-on-Black-Friday this year!  I got to Target two hours before they opened.  On that "morning," I was thankful that A.) the expected rain decided not to come, and B.) it was about 65 degrees out.  Freezing my butt off, sitting on a curb at Target would most certainly have dampened my spirits!  But I got what I went for and I now own a brand new camera that I paid almost 50% off regular price for.)  So Monday-- all day long-- was spent running errands.  Tuesday was spent attempting to make the house look habitable.  I didn't get far-- it was raaaaaaaainy alllllll daaaaay loooooong, which means I was trying to work and provide entertainment for O.  Not exactly the conditions most conducive to productivity.  Yesterday I had a meeting with Ben's teacher, and guess who inherited his mother's extreme scatterbrainedness?  Sorry, buddy!  On the bright side, he's a joy to teach and very intelligent.

But now I come to a day where, finally, I have absolutely nothing scheduled until after dinner (Christmas program at Ben's school), so guess what I'm doing today?  Brace yourself, house: you are no match for me and my three cups of coffee.  Prepare to be spotless!  (Or at least clean-ish.)

(I was hoping to work decorating the Christmas Tree into this post somewhere, so I could justify adding a picture of it.  I think I might make it the subject of a whole post soon instead... although we know what happens when I say that...)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Today Is...

Today is my lovely, sweet, funny, silly, beautiful baby girl's FOURTH birthday.
Also, I am extremely thankful for her (and her brother)!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Just So You Know

I think I'm going to implement a new policy on my blog.  It will involve not announcing my plans for wonderful post ideas.  Because it seems like that may be the kiss of death to my ability to actually sign in and blog about said ideas.  Seriously.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Today I Am Thankful...

...that no one reads my blog.  Because I totally dropped the ball on my plans for posting something I'm thankful for each day.  Luckily, no one noticed!  I sat down yesterday morning to start drafting a post and I got distracted.  I finally gave up.  I'll save what I was thankful for yesterday for another day.  Tomorrow, maybe?  Maybe.

Right this moment, though, what I'm really, really thankful for is the fact that Pandora seems to have changed its mind about only playing songs for me that I'm not in the mood for.  Because I have a living room that looks like a tornado has blown through it and it's just so hard to keep myself moving when I don't have some good "get movin'" music in the background.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Time To Get Thankful

Since it's November, and since November is Thanksgiving month, I've decided that every day I will write a post about something I am thankful for.  I find that I do a lot of complaining, particularly when I've had a long day (or week... or month...), and I don't acknowledge my blessings as often as I should.  

So my goal for the month is to count my blessings.  And, hopefully, remind myself that life is good and I should really quit my whining.  We'll see...

Friday, November 5, 2010

I Think I Can, I Think I Can... But I Probably Can't... But Maybe I Might?

Have you ever heard of NaNoWriMo?  It's National Novel Writing Month.  Basically, a whole bunch of people say, "Yes! I totally can write a 50,000 word novel in just one month!"  And, according to the accumulated word count on the NaNoWriMo home page, apparently lots of people really do.  So why is that when I decide, "Oh yes, I totally can write a 50,000 word novel in just one month!" I usually just end up spending a couple of hours staring at a blank Word document?

It's not like I have no ideas-- I generally come up with a new story idea once a day.  It's just the way my mind works.  And it's not like I've never written anything before-- just ask my 4th grade teacher. No lie, I probably spent more time writing stories than paying any attention at all to what was going on in class from 3rd-6th grades.  But 4th grade was definitely my peak.  (Side note: I probably should have been diagnosed with ADD or something similar around this time.  But this was almost 20 years ago [that was just painful to type!], and that label wasn't something thrown around as often as it is now.  It took me until the final semester of my senior year of high school to realize that if writing and doodling during classes was what it took to keep my mind engaged, perhaps those efforts would be best channeled into trying to write down everything the teacher said.  I'm a champion note-taker these days.  But that was one steep learning curve.)

So why can't I sit down and write 50,000 words in 30 days?  12,500 words a week?  1,667 words a day?  It's not like I don't speak that many words in the same amount of time.  I have at least one plot and a hundred characters fighting for space in my head at any given time (it's really no wonder I have such a short attention span-- you would too, if you had that many people in your head).  All I've ever wanted to be is a writer.  There is no place in my life that I can remember not wanting to be a writer (except when I was really little and wanted to be a ballerina despite my complete and total lack of grace, and when I was around seven and wanted to be a professional baseball player) "when I grew up."  But wanting to be a writer isn't practical.  I am well aware of that.  "Oh, well what's your back-up plan?" was the most common reply I got when I told people what I wanted to do.  And sure, that question makes sense.  It's certainly not like everyone who ever decides to be a writer actually makes a living doing that.  But when you're young, what you hear in that question is: You're probably not good enough.  What do you really want to be when you grow up?  I never had an answer.  I wasted a year (and an ungodly amount of money) in college immediately after high school because I picked the first "practical" profession I could think of.  I'm still in school, chipping away at a "practical" degree when all I really, really want out of life is to share the people, places, and plots in my head with the world at large.

But... what if I'm actually not good enough?  What if I do spit out 50,000 words by the end of the month only to realize that they suck?  Is staring at a blank computer screen at least better than that?  I can't decide.  But I drafted a few paragraphs to a story I've had in my head for a couple of weeks while I was in the shower last night (for some reason, my best thinking happens there).  And I'm tempted-- mightily tempted-- to let them see the light of day.  Maybe.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Minnie Mouse And Darth Vader Want Candy

Who wouldn't want to give these guys all kinds of candy?!

Can I Sleep Yet?

I've been looking forward to the beginning of November as a time when I could finally rest.  October was go-go-go with barely a pause for breath.  I realize it's only the first day of the month, but I have to admit I was a little bit disappointed when I woke up feeling like I had just fallen asleep!  A brief recap of the month:

-Three weekends ago: DeLuna Fest on Pensacola Beach. It was loads and loads and loads of fun.  And I'm still on my "gotta listen to more Stone Temple Pilots" kick.  We were on the beach all day long and didn't get home until sometime after midnight.  I woke up the next morning feeling hungover, even though I'd had absolutely no alcohol.  (One word: Port-a-Potty.  Alcohol renders my bladder all but useless.  No way was I going to be running back and forth to port-a-potties all day long!  Ew!)  I realized then that either we need to get out more, or 27 is older than I thought.

-Two weekends ago:  Road trip!  We went to Clearwater, FL for my sister-in-law's wedding.  It was nice to see them, and to meet her husband's family (who, it turns out are some of the nicest people I've ever met).  It would have been nice to spend a little more time there and explore the area a little bit, but we knew we had a busy week ahead (Hubby's more than mine), so we left at 12am on Sunday.  We wanted to beat the traffic, get home in time to rest, and-- most importantly-- trade the constant stream of are-we-there-yets for the sound of soft snores.  In order to accomplish this, though, we ended up staying awake for just over 24 hours.  It was nice to get home by 8am, and we most definitely spent the whole day resting, but by the time Monday rolled around, I was still feeling a little bit under-rested.

-Yesterday: Halloween.  Remember how I thought it was going to be a cake-walk?  Ha!  (Although there was a cake-walk at the church fall festival...)  Olette had had a low-grade off-and-on fever for the past week, but it didn't seem to be bothering her.  Friday night, however, the fever decided that "off" was for chumps and put all of its efforts into being "on."  When I put her to bed Saturday night, her temperature was 103.  That was a long night.  But by Sunday afternoon, she was feeling great and it was decided that we were going to the fall festival/trunk-or-treat after all.  And then her temperature shot back up to 103.  Motrin and a cool washcloth had her feeling better after about half an hour, though, and we took advantage of the break by dressing up and hitting the fall festival.  Lots of candy was collected, O was hungry enough to polish off a little bag of potato chips, and she and her brother even played a few games.  We topped it off with a hay ride.  Towards the end of the hay ride, I could tell she was starting to warm up again, so we went straight home, much to the chagrin of her big brother.  Two pieces of candy apiece had Miss O bouncing off the walls, and Ben begging for more.  When they went to bed, Ben crashed immediately, and Olette played quietly until she finally fell asleep.  Her fever stayed low, and I caught myself thinking, "Hooray, maybe she's over it!"  No such luck.  She woke up this morning feeling just as miserable and feverish as she had been the past few days.  (We're waiting for the results of the strep test her pediatrician took this morning.)  She was up several times during the night, miserable and cranky.  Which means I was up several times during the night as well.  And now I'm tired and cranky, too.

Here's hoping there is some sweet sleep in my future.  Olette is sound asleep now, and I could really use a nap, as well.  Too bad I've just finished my third cup of coffee!!  On the bright side, this weekend there is a big, blank empty space on my calendar.  It's the most beautiful thing I've seen in a long time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The End Is Near...ish...

Here we are, the end of October is visible and I'm so ready to breathe a hefty sigh of relief.  The only thing left on my plate (until a few days into November when I realize oh-my-goodness, only how many days until O's birthday and Thanksgiving??) is Halloween.  And after the past two weekends we've had, that's looking like a piece of cake!  Costumes are bought and hanging out in the back closet, just waiting.  We'll hit up the church parking lot for Trunk-or-Treat and the accompanying festivities, and then make it back home by bedtime if we play our cards right!  Darth Vader and Minnie Mouse will have enough candy to last the rest of the year, they'll go to bed hopped up on sugar, and then (crossing my fingers) crash hard and sleep well.  We'll see how that last part goes...   

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just Add It To The List

It's been busy around here, lately.  October started out quiet and unassuming, and now it is rearing its giant head (shaped like a pumpkin, naturally) and mocking me, saying things like, "You knew all of this was coming up as long ago as July... you're really just now getting around to doing something about it?"  October's giant pumpkin head spares no compassion for my fragile self-esteem and disregards all of my excuses.  This month, we have three big weekends in a row (one of them is done, two more to go).  Time for me to start repeating to myself: take a deep breath... decide if it's worth freaking out over... make a noble attempt at not freaking out if it isn't... repeat.

This past weekend was giant boatloads of fun, but it also came at the price of giant boatloads of to-do's being ignored.  We went to DeLuna Fest on Pensacola Beach and got to see some awesome concerts.  It was a great day-- time with hubby (sans kids, who spent the day/night with their Neena and Poppy), and hanging out on the beach, one of the best live concerts I've ever seen/heard (311, if you're curious), and Stone Temple Pilots. Live. On the beach. About 20 feet (and 2,000 other people) away from where I stood.  Oh yeah.  It was a good day.  Followed by what I can only describe as a hangover, even though I've never had one of those, and did not actually drink any alcohol at all the previous day.  (However there were some Rastafarian-types standing near us.  Devout ones, if you catch my meaning.  The air quality wasn't quite the best, is what I'm saying. I was torn between leaving and giving up our hard-won view of the stage.  Hard-won view was the winner.  A Pyrrhic victory, apparently.)  I had a raging migraine and an earache.  And, like October's mean old pumpkin head, they seemed to me mocking me, reminding me that I am 27 and ought to start considering the idea that I might be getting too old for these kinds of things.  I refuse to agree.  But it also meant a lazy Sunday, spent watching football and telling myself, "I really, really should wash some dishes/fold some laundry/pick up the mess in here."  (I'm still telling myself that, actually, and today is Tuesday... although in my defense, I spent yesterday running errands all over the place, so that's why it didn't get done yesterday..... I'm still working on today's excuse.  It's gotta be a good one...)

This weekend will be spent mostly in a car (about 17 hours, round trip), and then partially on a beach and in a hotel room.  Hubby's sister is getting married, and of course we're making the trip to be there for it.  It will be fun, I know... I'm just having a little trouble right this moment seeing past the whole trip-preparation aspect of it.  That is most decidedly not the fun part.  We will pack up and leave on Friday, then re-pack up and drive home on Sunday.

And of course, the weekend after that is Halloween.  I cannot even begin to explain how excited I am to witness that sugar-high.  We've also got to fit in a trip to the corn maze at some point, too, because Ben is pretty bummed about trading off a field trip there with his class for 8 1/2 hours in the backseat of our truck with his sister.

Now, this just in-- my driver's license expires today.  Because, you know, I was really hoping for just one extra thing to add to my to-do list.  Honestly, I thought it expired in October of next year.  I'm not sure why... but I guess it's a good thing that I checked.

It's been busy around here lately.  And it looks like it will remain that way for awhile!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Change-y Stuff

I am currently in the process of dropping my Spanish class (I should just be able to click "drop" on my schedule on the school's website, but it says I have an "advising hold." So, I'll find out what that's all about Monday).  Which, of course makes me feel like a total failure at life.  But despite all my efforts, and despite all of my confidence in my knowledge of the material, I just kept bombing the tests.  Somewhere between learning all the grammar rules, and putting them into context, something just went flying out of my mental window.  So, I will use the next few months to work on all of this on my own-- practice, practice, practice-- and give it another go next semester.

No more school on Mondays and Wednesdays means I will have tons more spare time-- and my home can stop looking like a frat house by the middle of the week!  Crock Pot meals will also be a little less necessary, however since it's winter (ok, fall... but it was 39 degrees this morning) I'll probably still try to get a Crock Pot Mondays post up once a week.  I'm going to put something in the slow-cooker today, I just haven't decided what it will be yet. Wait, scratch that. I just remembered I've got chicken thighs in the freezer and a whole day ahead of me-- chicken and dumplings tonight! Oh, that's gonna be soooo yummy!!

Oh! I suppose I should also include an update on our pumpkins... Brace yourself: They died.  Same as last year-- they grew beautifully, got gorgeous giant orange flowers all over them, and then withered up and died.  (And yes, I did remember to water them regularly.)  We'll try again next year, I suppose, but I'm not getting too hopeful!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Crock Pot Mondays: Fall Break

Have you noticed I'm only posting to the crock pot feature lately?  I guess I was right about one thing-- it keeps me coming back once a week.  I'm sure I'll have more brilliant blogging ideas at some point...

This week is fall break.  That means no school and no real need for the slow-cooker-- I can "regular" cook every night.  In fact, yesterday was the first time in quite awhile that I made a real hands-on meal rather than dumping raw ingredients in the crock pot and walking away, or throwing a frozen meal in the microwave.  It felt great!  I absolutely love the feeling of chopping and stirring and taste-testing as I go along.  It's a cathartic thing for me.  Some people are overwhelmed by the idea of preparing a meal at the end of a long day, approaching it thinking, "After all that, I still have to cook..."  But me?  Not at all.  It's a quiet time for me-- no matter how crazy my kids might be in the background.  After making supper last night, I was happy as a clam!  (Side note: Just how happy are clams?  Whose job was it to determine that clams were so happy we should measure our own happiness next to theirs?  These are the random thoughts I have...)

However, I can't imagine that I'll be letting my crock pot totally off the hook this week-- it's suddenly feeling very fall-like around here, with temperatures in the 40s in the morning and nothing more than the mid-70s by the afternoon.  I think tomorrow will be the perfect day to try out that Tortilla Soup I was talking about last week!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Lied

I honestly did plan to make the tortilla soup in Monday's crock pot post, but I was unaware that I was missing a few key ingredients.  Like beans.  Of any sort.  (I usually have several cans on hand!)  So instead, we are having throw-a-bunch-of-stuff-in-the-crock-pot-and-cross-my-fingers served over whole wheat pasta tonight.  My to-do list today is incredibly long, and even now-- almost 4:00-- I've barely scratched the surface.  The kids are going to church with my mom this evening so I'll have a little kid-free time to get all caught up.  (I'm skipping school tonight.  Things have really been piling up and needed and extra day to work on it!)

Today's "recipe" (if you can call it that:)

4-5 chicken tenders (probably equivalent to 2-3 small chicken breasts)
1 bag frozen veggies
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup chicken broth (I think... I used what was left in the box I had in the fridge, so that's an estimate)
1 tbsp herbes de provence (spice blend that includes thmye, basil, lavender, and fennel seeds)
salt and pepper

Put everything in the crock pot.  Cook on high 3-4 hours or low 6-8 hours. (If cooking all day, I recommend adding the veggies shortly before serving so they're not overcooked.)

Watch the veggies! They go from crisp and verdant to mushy and that overcooked color extremely fast! In fact, if you have the time, you may just want to throw the veggies in there when you're ready to serve and let them just heat through.
Also, I recommend going for just a tsp of the herbes de provence. Mine came out tasting almost floral, I didn't realize the lavender would have such a strong flavor.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Crock Pot Mondays: Tortilla Soup

Since last week's Crock Pot Monday turned out to be a total bomb (you know, since I didn't actually use my crock pot at all last week), I've decided that even though I'm not pulling out the crock pot until Wednesday (we've got leftover pizza in the fridge for tonight-- a meal that makes everyone happy) I will go ahead and give you the recipe today.  This week's crock pot meal will be Tortilla Soup.  The recipe I have is for a quick stove-top soup, so I'll be making just a couple of modifications.  (And thanks to my friend Jenny for the recipe!)

Tortilla Soup:

1 onion
1 chipotle in adobo (buy a small can, use one pepper and freeze the rest in a ziploc bag. When you want to use it again, just cut off the amount you need-- it thaws very quickly. It also lasts about forever.)
2+ quarts of chicken or vegetable broth
1 can (or 2 c frozen) corn
2 cans (or 3 c bulk) black beans
juice of 2 limes
chopped tomatoes
cheese (I'll be using a pepper-jack/cheddar blend)
tortilla chips

Sautee the onion and chipotle and add to the broth, along with the corn, black beans, the juice of two limes, and salt. Cook until everything is warm. When serving, add the tomatoes and cilantro, then add tortilla chips and cheese to each bowl.

Modifications I'm making:
1.) Obviously, I'm putting it in a crock pot, and since this is a meatless dish, I'll make it later in the day and let it cook on low for 3-4 hours.

Tune in on Thursday to find out how it turned out!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Crock Pot... Oh, Who Am I Kidding?

It's just been one of those weeks.  I hate to say it, but it looks like there will be no Crock Pot post this week. Unless I decide on something tomorrow.  Tonight, my kids are hanging out with my mom until it's time for them to go to church, so I'm sure they'll get some sort of healthy meal.  ...or at least not total junk...  And I'll probably pick something up for hubby and myself on my way home from class-- there's a Panera Bread in the same shopping center where I have to stop and pay a bill anyway, so we can go healthy and effortless.  (Although not made-at-home cheap... but, like I said, it's just been one of those weeks.)

I very much hope I will be greeting you next week with a wonderful taste-explosion of a crock pot meal!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Crock Pot Mondays: Ooops!!

I completely forgot to have a crock pot recipe ready for today!  This weekend was a busy one, complete with major household organization projects, and familial obligations, and today is one of those Mondays upon which all stereotypical Mondays are modeled.  As a result, I will be observing Crock Pot Monday either tomorrow or Wednesday.  I'm thinking either turkey chili or a chicken tortilla soup.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Is It Wrong That I Hope This Doesn't Change?

My lovely daughter is dancing around the house and singing.  She does this a lot.  I smile when she does it, because it's one of those things I can look at and say, "Yes!  She gets that from me!"  (Especially the highly uncoordinated dance moves!)  Today she is singing a song that she's making up as she goes along:

Who is that girl?
She is a princess!
She is so beautiful in her white shirt and pink pants.
And in her pink flip flops.
She is so lovely and a beautiful princess.
And what is her name?
It is Jocelyn Olette Taylor!

She is certainly not lacking any self-esteem.  And a tiny, small part of me kind of hopes that never changes.  Sure, it makes her look a little bit self centered-- but what three-almost-four-year-old isn't??  She's also extremely sweet and kind to others.  If she can bring both of those traits with her into adulthood, well, I think she would be quite the force of nature, really.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Case You Wondered...

Last night's crock pot meal was INCREDIBLE!!  It was quite honestly one of the best things to ever come out of a crock pot in my house, and by far the best thing I've made since I got my new one!  The hubby loved it, too!  The meat was falling apart tender, and the sauce turned into this rich, flavorful thing you would never guess started as a jar of Ragu!  I can't wait for lunch today, because I am definitely having leftovers today!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Crock Pot Mondays: Fake Fancy

I've always felt that if you give food a special name, it makes it seem way more fancy than it actually might be.  Maybe I'm just gullible?  It's entirely possible, although not exactly a flattering possibility.  But when my friend Rachel announced on facebook that she had a Steak Italiana going in her crock pot, I got all excited-- steak and Italiana?  Fanciness!  Turns out, it's astonishingly simple.  Also, according to her facebook announcement later that day, very yummy!  So, today's crock pot meal will be Steak Italiana and I bet you're dancing in anticipation for this recipe.  (Or is that just me?)

I'm not sure where she got the recipe (yeah, I could always ask, but I'm already typing this...), so I will name it:

Rachel's Steak Italiana

1 1/2 lbs round steak**
1 jar (about 15 oz) chunky garden spaghetti sauce (or your favorite variety)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
1-2 c. whole small onions (frozen, thawed or canned, drained)

Cut the steak into 5-6 serving-sized slices.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and oregano and place in the crock pot.  Cover with the spaghetti sauce.  Cook on low 7-8 hours, then turn to high, add the onions, and cook 30 minutes longer.  Serve over pasta.

**I will be making mine with a couple of "beef chuck underblade" steaks, as these were BOGO (and a great price on top of that; I think I'll get some more before they go off sale!) at Winn-Dixie this week.  Also, I will be skipping the onion step since it will be nearly 7:00 when I get home and I don't want to wait another 30 minutes for supper!  Plus, the hubby is not a big fan of onions anyway.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What Are You Reading?

One of my favorite memories is from when I was about four years old.  My brother, cousin, and I were downstairs in our playroom.  One of us was holding a book, and all three of us were just looking at it.  It was one of our favorites.  (I don't remember for sure what it was, now.)  We wanted to read it.  But none of us knew how.  So my brother, in all of his two-year-old wisdom, suggested that one of us learn how.  It was decided that since I was the oldest, I should be the one to learn.  "Ok, I'll be right back," I told them, and, book in hand, I marched up the stairs, into the living room, and right up to my dad where I said, "Hey, Dad?  Can you teach me how to read?"  He looked a little bit surprised, but he sat me down and we went over letters and sounds and how to put them together to make words.  It took a little longer than I thought-- I remember being under the impression that it was like cracking a code, and once someone taught me the trick, I would be able to read everything I saw.  I was a little bit disappointed when I found out that there was actual work involved, and that it was going to take more than just a few minutes!  I don't really know how long it took me to get all the basics down, but once I learned how to read, I never stopped.  I've always got at least one book that I'm in the middle of, and most often I'm in the middle of several.  And I am always asking people, "What are you reading?"

Right now, I am reading Beyond Einstein: The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the Universe by Michio Kaku.  I've been reading this one for quite a while now, actually.  It's one of those that requires concentration and lately I just don't have the time for that!  I have been reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo for almost eight years.  It's a great book, I just can't sit down and finish it for some reason!  I also recently started The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I love him.  And I decided to re-read Bram Stoker's Dracula.  (The last two I am reading on my phone's book reader.  These will take me awhile to finish, as I usually save them for waiting rooms and other such situations.)

In between those books, I also like to sprinkle in some easier reads to lighten things up.  I'm pretty much never not reading something or another.  So... what are YOU reading?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Books!  That was my great idea as I was drifting off last night!  I was gonna talk books!  I knew once the stress of my Spanish test (which, by the way, I'm pretty sure I bombed...) was gone, I would remember!  Tomorrow, I'm talking books!

Sleep Blogging-- Apparently, It's An Epidemic

Once again, I have completely forgotten what (as I was drifting off to sleep) seemed like an excellent blog idea.  This is frustrating.  Although, if there is any silver lining at all, I at least know for sure that I was thinking about it before sleep, and not just dreaming that I had a great idea.  I should have written it down.  I even thought, "I should write this down so I don't forget..."  But did I?  Of course not!  (In my defense, it was cold in the bedroom and I was all toasty warm under the covers...)  I really, really need to keep a notebook and pen nearby when I sleep.  Sometimes all I want to remember is simple, silly things, but there are times when I think of important stuff that I absolutely need to do as I'm drifting off to sleep and I don't remember until halfway through the next day!

Hopefully at some point today, I will remember just what it was that I wanted to share with you... and hopefully I will remember to write it down if I'm not in front of my computer!!  Today, my brain is filled with Spanish words, phrases, and grammar rules for my test tonight though, so if I do remember it will be a small miracle!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Crock Pot Mondays: Beef Stew

I've promised you a weekly feature, and that's what you're going to get!  But, while today is Monday, I'm not pulling out the crock pot.  It's a holiday!  Which means none of us has school or work today, so a wait-awhile supper isn't necessary.  We're having ribs and potatoes (they're currently getting all happy together in the smoker) with cole slaw and roasted asparagus.  My mouth waters just thinking about it!  However, yesterday was a crock pot kind of day, and so I'm sharing yesterday's crock pot meal with you today!

I made beef stew, which is one of my favorite crock pot meals.  Few things make the whole house smell yummier!  I deviated from my normal recipe a little bit, because I was in a hurry at the store and forgot a few things!  I think I'm going to post both recipes, though, and let you decide which to try.  (Note: I used the smaller sized package of precut beef from Wal-Mart.  My level of dedication does not extend to digging through the trash can to find out the exact weight.  Just, use your instincts on this one!)

Beef Stew as I Made it Yesterday

1 pkg. of pre-cut beef for stew (or get a roast and cut it yourself... but why make it harder than it has to be?)
1/4-1/3 c. all purpose flour
1 c. beef broth
3 med. potatoes
1 onion
8-10 oz baby carrots
salt and pepper
olive oil

Cut the potatoes and onion into whatever size you decide is best. Put them in the crock pot. Next, add the carrots. Cover with the broth and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the flour in a ziploc bag and add some salt and pepper, shake it to mix. Add the beef, shake it to coat the beef with flour. Put the beef in the crock pot, shaking off the excess flour, first. Drizzle olive oil over the beef.  Cook on low for 10 hours, stirring everything together about halfway through. (I put this on before church, and stirred it once after we got home from lunch.) You can add more broth if the gravy is too thick. I actually thought mine was a little thin, but once I turned the heat off, it thickened to just right in 10 minutes or so.

Beef Stew as I Usually Make It

1 pkg pre cut stew beef
1 8oz pkg white mushrooms, halved
6-8 baby red potatoes, halved
handful of baby carrots
1 onion, diced
1/2 c beef broth OR water
1 can cream of mushroom with roasted garlic soup (I've only seen it in the Campbell's brand)

Mix together the soup and broth; set aside. Put everything else in the crock pot: veggies on the bottom, meat on top, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the soup on top. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-6 hours.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Crock Pot Mondays: Wednesday Edition

Monday's crock pot meal turned out great!  If you don't mind mushy rice, that is.  Actually, the rice wasn't so much mushy as almost completely dissolved.  It made for an interesting texture, that's for sure.  But the TASTE is what is important, and that's where the meal totally rocked!  And now I know to add the rice later on in the cooking process on days when it's going to sit on its own, and to not cook it as long on days when I'm around to keep an eye on it.  Also, I just cut each chicken breast in half when I made it.  I think from now on, I will dice it so that it's distributed throughout the dish.  I might even brown it in a skillet first on days when I have the time for that.  So, the following is the recipe I used.  Feel free to modify it as necessary.  I wasn't working from a cookbook, just going through my fridge and pantry to see what I had.

Crock Pot Chicken with Rice, Tomatoes, and Black Beans

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 sm-med onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked rice
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can black beans
1/2 cup taco sauce
1 cup water
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
salt and pepper

Put the chicken in the bottom of the crock pot, sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Mix together the remaining ingredients* and pour over the chicken.  Cook on high 3-4 hours or on low 6-8 hours.

*If you're going to cook it more than a few hours, I would recommend adding the rice later on and cooking on low.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekly Feature?

Well.  Despite all of my great and heartfelt resolve to spend more time blogging, I have been failing miserably.  However, there has been no lack of brainstorming on my part and I feel that that should count for something!  I believe I might have finally come up with a weekly feature to keep me coming back here, at least once a week.

Saturday, when I was supposed to be reading chapters 1 and 8 in my Global Perspectives textbook, after I actually fell asleep on page 9 out of sheer boredom, I picked up my newest cookbook.  Well, new to me, anyway.  It's the 1975 edition of Rival Crock-Pot Cooking.  Yup, I said 1975.  I got it from my brother, who got it from my mom.  (There, the trail runs cold, although I could always just ask my mom where she got it, if I was curious enough...)  Since I recently decided to start doing much more slow-cooker cooking, I've been eagerly searching out good slow-cooker recipes.  (***Tangential trail-- can I just call it a crock pot?  It's technically not one, my small one is a "Proctor Silex slow cooker," and the bigger one is a "Hamilton Beach slow cooker."  But really, everyone just calls them all crock pots.***)  I have class in the evenings on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and I don't want to come home every evening and eat junk just because I wasn't home to cook supper.  Also, I hate for Hubby and the kids to have to resort to junk because I wasn't home to cook supper.  But I also don't like the idea of eating soups and stews several nights a week.  So I was very excited to come to possess this book, with its 300+ recipes-- only a handful of which are some sort of soup or stew.

First, it's a little entertaining to read.  Some of the recipes call for things like MSG, and one recipe even listed an ingredient I've never heard of.  (I'm currently flipping furiously through the book to see if I can remember what it was, but no luck so far.)  Some of the recipes made me actually laugh out loud, like the Emergency Shelf Casserole which calls for, I kid you not, baked beans, vienna sausages, and spam. (1/4 lb of diced dry salami is optional.)  It's safe to say that that particular casserole will not see the light of day in my house.  I'm not a fan at all of vienna sausages and spam.

Anyway, as I was reading, I decided that it would be fun to blog about my crock pot adventures.  Why not?  It would be like Julie & Julia, only so much more my style!  So, welcome to (da-da-DA!) Crock Pot Mondays!  (Even though it's not an actual Crock Pot.  Yours might be, right?)  Today's meal isn't actually coming from the cookbook.  I know, weird, since I just spent so much time telling you about it.  The cookbook inspired the idea.  But I'm between grocery trips this week, so it's going to have to be something I can make with what's on hand.  And what's on hand is chicken.  And while there are more than 20 chicken recipes in my cookbook, each one calls for something I don't have.  Important somethings.  Not oh-I'll-just-omit-that somethings.  So....

Today's recipe will be chicken and rice.  Ted LOVES the rice you get with you get with your combo meal at any Mexican restaurant, and I'm aiming for it to be something like that.  I've never made rice in a crock pot before, but according to the cookbook, it's doable.  I guess I'll just have to keep an eye on it to see if I've got enough liquid, but once I leave the house, it's on its own.  So, this will be a "fingers crossed" recipe.  If it comes out yummy, the recipe will follow.

Monday, August 23, 2010

New And Exciting Happenings

I'm in love. Such sweet, sweet love!  Who is this new object of my affections? (Hint: the key word here is "object.")

It's name is hp Pavillion dv7, and if you were to say, "If you love it, why don't you marry it?" I would quite fervently reply, "Why that seems like a perfectly reasonable idea, and were I not already married to, you know, an ACTUAL MAN, I totally would!"

After years and years of hand me down computers, I finally have a brand new one of my very own. I'm STOKED!! And a little bummed that I'm leaving it here when I go to school this evening!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pumpkin Update

Oh my gosh, two blog posts in one day?!  Stick your head outside and check for horsemen, because I think it just might be a sign of the apocalypse!!

I just wanted to offer an update on the pumpkins we planted last month. Last year, they never made it past this point, so I'm crossing my fingers that we get some actual pumpkins this fall!!

There are two of them (of the 5-6 seeds we planted... hoping that's not a bad sign!) just like this one, but the picture I took of both of them was all fuzzy thanks to all of the humidity fogging up my camera lens yesterday evening.

My Life Right Now

Ugh. Ok, so I got an email back from the financial aid office, and basically it said that I should have read my award letter in the first place because it SAYS that financial aid amounts (for pell grants) are based on whether you're full-time or part-time. Which, fine, that makes sense, and I've been a student almost a decade, and I KNEW this. But apparently their letter is worded differently than Faulkner's was. Because instead of saying something like "potential award amount, based on number of hours" or however I'm used to seeing it, it listed it as "total award." That's it. No extra qualifiers, so I assumed that that was my total award, based on how many hours I was taking. And I thought, wow, that's AWESOME, I never got that much when I was at Faulkner, this is wonderful! My life is happy and beautiful and stress free, and was that a prancing unicorn I just saw? So when it showed loan amounts I was eligible for I said "Oh no, I don't need those, I actually have enough for not only tuition and books, but even a new laptop, and thank goodness for that because THIS ONE is knocking on death's door and I'll be lucky to squeeze a full semester out of it!" So I merrily clicked "decline." And went on my happy way. :-/ .... I'd forgotten how much it sucks to start at a new school and get everything together. :-/

(The above will look very familiar to any facebook friends who have moseyed on over this way. That was a comment I left, offering further explanation of a status update.)

This is my life right now. After coasting along for nearly four years in a community college, I have finally done all I can there toward a degree (without taking a bunch of PE classes and such. Because really, at what place in my resume will it be a plus to say I aced a PE class? Who cares? I was an English Major!).  After deciding I wanted to get a degree in foreign language (I will be focusing on Spanish), I chose the University of South Alabama.  Well, "chose" may not be the right word.  It was more like, they were the closest college offering that major.  If it was up to me, I would have chosen someplace in Pensacola.  Because I just have serious issues with Mobile.  I avoid the city at all costs. Because there's nothing there that isn't also in Pensacola.  And for that matter, better in Pensacola.  I just don't like Mobile.  No offense to any Mobilians.  But the city just isn't navigator-friendly.  I rarely make it in and out of Mobile without getting lost at least once.  But I digress.  I was talking about transferring to another school.  USA has the program I needed, so that's where I'm going.

I had forgotten how much is entailed in starting college anew!!  Like I said, I had been at the same community college for nearly four years.  All of the processes for financial aid, registration, etc were a habit after the first two semesters.  I could handle all that stuff blindfolded in my sleep!  So now I have to get used to an all new system and good grief, it's taking a toll on me!!!!  Combined with the fact that I've discovered that a whole new higher level of organization is required for getting my son through 2nd grade in one ready-for-3rd-grade piece (more on my lackadaisical organizational skills in a later post, I'm sure!), and I am just one big ball of could-explode-at-any-moment!

I'm going to be taking LOTS of deep breaths in the days to come.....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I'm The Sheldon Cooper Of Grammar

If you don't watch "Big Bang Theory" on CBS, you might be a little lost at this point.  Which isn't a good thing, considering we're only one title and just over a sentence in.  (Ok, two full sentences now.)  Long story short, Sheldon Cooper is a genius who is baffled by basic social protocol and most likely suffering from a severe case of OCD.  Now, I'm not a genius.  Not even close.  And I'm clear on basic social protocol.  (I just sometimes forget to engage that filter between brain and mouth ...and those things usually come out at a louder-than-necessary volume.  I'm generally the person being shushed in any given group.)  And, while my husband may disagree, I don't really display any OCD-like symptoms. Except when it comes to grammar.

Yes, it's true. I am the grammar police.  It's not something I want to be, it's more like something I just can't help.  A compulsion.  A force within me that is greater than myself.  I would say, "Hello, my name is Erika and I'm a grammar-holic," but I would land myself on my own "grammar pet peeves" list.  That's right folks, there is no such thing as "chocohol."  Your job does not consist of "workohol."  And you do not blow lots of money when you "shopohol."  People who are addicted to alcohol are called "alcoholics" because they are addicted to alcOHOL.

 Things like "ain't," "gonna," "gotta," and "y'all" don't bother me.  Probably because I've lived in the South my entire life (except for the three years I lived in Minnesota when I was little).  That's just how people talk.  Made-up words, on the other hand, drive me nuts!  Do you want to relax?  Go ahead.  Do you want to chill?  Go for it!  But I'm begging you: if you're going to "chillax," PLEASE don't tell me about it.

There are actually many, many more examples but for some reason Blogger is unable to keep up with me as I type.  And it turns out that the only thing more annoying than silly grammar is waiting five full minutes to see what I type. In fact, I'm refusing to go back and edit this last paragraph. That's how crazy it's driven m.e  So, please excuse my typos, I assume there are several. i wouldn't know. My screen hasn't made it past "unable to".  Technology sucks sometimes. I'm gonna count to see how long this paragraph takes. Its really amazing how slow it goes... Well, there wentt 15 minutes of my life I'll never see again.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Just as soon as I thought I had time for a blog, life got crazy! Hopefully I will be able to post regularly before long. I actually think once school starts I'll have a little (very little!) more time. We'll see.......

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, an idea struck me.  An excellent idea.  An amazing idea.  The kind of idea that made me think: I really should put that in my blog!  I was so excited about this idea that I started drafting the post, right then and there-- lying in bed, deciding which adjectives sounded best in which order and  mulling over punctuation (how lame is it that I actually do that?)... and at some point while composing that most excellent and enthralling of blog posts, I fell asleep.  I have absolutely no memory of that idea, beyond being so excited about the prospect of sharing it.  I don't even remember a single phrase of the blog post I so meticulously thought out.  Which leads me to wonder: was I lying in bed, excitedly mind-drafting? Or was the whole thing a dream?  I have no idea.  But not remembering anything about that greatest and most amazing of ideas is starting to drive me a little bit nuts!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010


People think I'm crazy because this is my favorite time of the year.  As much as I love the whole Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year's triad, I sincerely despise cold weather.  (I can't be the only one-- we may celebrate Christmas in winter, but you'll notice that according to history, God Himself chose to become human flesh in the Spring.  I think this affords some vindication for my dislike of the cold.)  I'm a summer baby by birth, and a Southern summer baby, to boot!  Whenever I hear someone say something like, "I wish I lived in a place where it was 70 degrees, year 'round," I think, "Why on earth would you want to be that cold, all year long?!"  I mean, come on-- you need at LEAST 80 degrees for things like enjoying the beach, pool, or whatever other body of water you frequent during the warmer months.
But today we planted pumpkins-- they have to be started in July in order to be ready by October.  And a little, small, tiny part of me is now anxious and ready for Fall.

If all goes well, in a week or so, there will be seedlings in this pot, and those seedlings (again, if all goes well) will soon become vines loaded with pumpkins!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

That's Right, I'm Officially A Blogger

"Are you sure you're not exaggerating a little bit there?" If I had a nickel for every time someone has said that to me, I'd be a bazillionaire. At least. For some reason, I tend to either exaggerate or understate whatever it is I want to say. Just a random fact about myself. And of course, the perfect introduction to my new blog: WELCOME to Hyperbole... and stuff!!

And for my inaugural post, a quick Q&A with myself.

Q: Why are you blogging?
A: Why not?! I'm a writer, albeit one who hasn't written anything in quite a long time. I'm out of practice and I wanted to get back into it. Writing is one of my favorite hobbies, but I've been busy and it got shelved, along with scrapbooking and a few other things. It's summer vacation now, so I have some spare time every day. Also, I've noticed that I update my facebook status a crazy number of times each day. I think a lot of that could be channeled into writing material. It would also lower the number of people who MUST be thinking, "Does she not have a life...?"

Q: What are you going to blog about?
A: What am I NOT going to blog about?! No, seriously, I've given this a lot of thought in the past couple of weeks, and I couldn't come up with anything that's not being blogged about already. So I'm just gonna blog about whatever I feel like sharing on a particular day. What things am I interested in that might make it to the blog? To name a few: food, books, other blogs, news, my kids, and other little random daily life moments.

Q: Wait a minute, aren't you pretty much computer illiterate, and isn't basic internet browsing the height of your technical prowess?
A: Yup. This will be a learning experience for me, as I intend to make this blog not only entertaining (for myself, if for no one else!) but also pretty.

Once again, welcome to Hyperbole... and stuff! This will be fun... right?