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Monday, August 31, 2009

The reason why is because....

(Did you just cringe when you read that? Good! You should! It's wrong...very, very wrong.)

The following are reasons completely unrelated to blogging that probably have a lot to do with why I am not blogging:

  • It's back to school time for teachers.
  • I miss my kids.
  • My hormones hate me.
  • I'm trying to plan for yet another new class.
  • The cat is feeling cuddly.
  • I found gf crackers that actually taste like crackers.
  • There are new video games in the house.
  • My kids are texting me.
  • I found my old Jezzball and Chips PC games.
  • The Saunder's chocolate sauce is calling my name.
  • The dog is sick.
  • Jim gives good hugs.
  • My Netflix movies came in.
  • Our friends called and invited us out to dinner.
  • I like to cook.
What else do you do? (or do you just sit here online and let the world roll by?)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gasp! Buried Treasure!

When I was working on my degree and certification, I had to take a class on how to use a computer. (Family: have you stopped laughing yet? Ok, I'll go on.) One of the things that I had to do was create a website with a PowerPoint-based photo slide show.

Today, I found those photos on some old 3.5 disks! I thought they were lost. I give you now a quick (somewhat incomplete) peek at my life and family in photos, circa 2003.

Granny Weidler

Great-Grandma Hutchinson

Grandma and Grandpa Hutchinson

My Mom


Me at age 3

Me in Kindergarten

Grandpa and Me, Sault Ste. Marie

Grandpa's 70th Birthday party

Me with Mom

Me with Mom and Dad

Me with Mom and matching perms
(what exactly were we thinking?!)

Wedding Day with my Jim!

The infamous Marker Boy

My lovely daughter in a jacuzzi tub.

Probably my all-time favorite photo of Jimmy, age 3.

Little Annie in Kindergarten after her first big hair cut.

Me and the yearbook kids from my student teaching

Me, 2003

Steak Ceasar

It's Wednesday, and time for "What can I Eat that's Gluten Free?"

Thin-sliced steaks, any cut. (I prefer strips or sirloins for this salad.)
Romaine lettuce
Cardini's original salad dressing
Parmesan and/or romano cheese
Thin-sliced red onion and tomato
GF croutons

I like to either marinade/glaze the meat with the salad dressing or season it with garlic powder, salt and pepper before grilling. After grilling, let the meat sit for a few minutes before slicing thin.

Prepare salad as usual.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

...and a gracious good evening to you.

My dad says this ALL the time when he calls me on the phone. It's like his catch phrase or something. :)

I get to see him today (probably) because I bought him a present on our recent trip to Michigan. That's why I wasn't posting, BTW. No internet access for me on the trip until near the last day.

So what did I get him for a present?

Pop, Pickles, and Chocolate Sauce.

(Yes, really.)

When one of us goes home to MI, we always buy pop, pickles, and chocolate sauce. Why? Because there are three things that we love that you can't get in VA.



Chocolate Sauce


Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Dreaded Sleepover

Why is everyone so afraid of sleepovers?

...and I don't mean the kids, either. One time - just one! - have I ever had a kid ask to call dad and go home. I'm talking adults. What is it about sleepovers that frighten you?

I have found that these are the #1 easiest parties to give.
  • There's no need for goodie bags (don't even get me started on those.)
  • They're cheap.
  • Kids love them.
  • It's amazing just how many kids love either Lucky Charms or Cheerios Honey Nut cereal.
  • Glow sticks can entertain them for hours. Literally -- HOURS.
  • So can any action figures/Littlest Pet Shop toys
  • Ditto for Legos, flashlights, lightsabers/Nerf guns, and BBQ chips
Our kids take turns getting a birthday party. We started doing this because we were poor, in college, and living on ramen noodles and hope. We continued it because now that we're slightly less poor, out of college, and living on canned soup and student loan bills, the kids can have either a really nice present every year or a great party.

Back to the sleepover: they love them. Ever since they were old enough to have one, they want them all the time. ALL THE TIME. There have been 3 this month. One while Jimmy was at camp, one while Annie was at camp, and now -yes, now- one for Jimmy's birthday. Which is today. You may now send him presents.

It never fails, though: parents always tell me I'm brave or they could never do it or ask me if I'm quite sure I'm stable since I seem so happy about being invaded by a pile of children for 14 whole hours. I'm not brave. You CAN do it. and Yes, I am stable, thank you so much for asking.

14 hours of sleepover:
Hour 1-2: scream hysterically as each new guest arrives. Tell each guest something ASTOUNDINGLY AMAZING. Guest who have already arrived are welcome to add, change, or embellish details. Watch cartoons/play video games AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS even though you're all mere inches from each other because you're so happy to be together that it's almost like you think it's a mirage and your friends will disappear the instant you're not in close physical contact with them.

Hour 3-4: Option a) eat voraciously everything that is set in front of you. Option b)claim an allergy to whatever is being served and instead make yourself a pb & j which you secretly feed to the dog when no one is looking, never mind the fact that said pb & j will cause the dog to lick its face for the entirety of hours 4 and 5 so it's not like you're being that sneaky - you are after all the only one who had peanut butter in the first place. Wait for it to get dark so you can go outside. Play with anything and everything you can find. Birthday party: Option a)Eat half a slice of cake Option b) eat a whole slice of cake, and then randomly finish off the other slices when you think no one's looking. Hey - you have to make up for that pb & j somehow, right? You're hungry!

Hour 5: Run around with glowsticks and flashlights. Get the hose because there's always one puppy pile that gets missed and there's always one kid who will step in it.

Hour 6-9: Laugh at the kid from hour five at random moments. Have a long extended committee meeting over which movies to watch. Make popcorn that some of you will eat, and most of you will feed to the dog to see how high she can jump and catch at the same time without knocking over the lamp. Fall asleep watching the movies.

Hour 10-13: Sleep. Sort of.

Hour 14: Eat afore-mentioned cereals and/or pancakes, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, fruit, juice, milk, leftover dinner, dog food, toast, or whatever. Breakfast is, after all, THE #1-most-likely-to-bring-out-the-PICKIEST-eaters-ever meal of the day. Pack your stuff. Act surprised when host kid asks you to help pick up from last night, but say, "Sure, whatever!" and help out anyway because that's what kids do 99.5% of the time. Decide not to be that .5% kid because chances are you won't get asked back, and everyone likes a sleepover.

Ta-da! Done!

And, if you've done a good job as a parent and let your kid stay up until the wee hours of the morning and then given them sugar for breakfast, they will crash again in about 3 hours and the whole house will be nice and quiet.

You're welcome.

PS. Believe it or not, that was NOT satirical, but the honest truth of how sleepovers go around here. Party on, dude/man/bro/chick/whatever your catch phrase is.

PPS. Best overheard line of all time: Holy Snap, Dude!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Meatloaf and pan-fried potatoes

Well, it's Wednesday, and time for another recipe. This is the least random part of my blog, but I didn't pick the day, so it still feels sort of random to me!

This week: Meatloaf!

Ok, so it's just a link to an old post, but I don't think I've added it to my recipe circle before.... I hope.

I just made this yesterday, and for a side dish I briefly fried some thin-sliced potatoes and onions in olive oil - just enough to brown them up - then I added a little water, covered them and turned off the heat. Oh, if you're using a gas stove, you'll want to keep it on low.) The steam cooked them the rest of the way while we set the table and got drinks. Salt and pepper to taste.

Ta-da! Dinner!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Toadstools Gone Wild -or- What kind of fairies ARE you?!

I like mushrooms. I do!
But may I say, that for those of you who do not...
This post is not for the faint of heart.

We've always had mushrooms in our yard: It rains, a few pop up here and there, it dries up, they disappear. The whole process usually happens so fast that I have no time to dig them up, even if I feel the desire to. This year is different.

What do you think of when you think of mushrooms? Are you a romantic, like me? Do you think of these little spotted cuties?

...complete with a tiny fairie to sit atop them and enchant the crickets?Well, I got news for you, pal. I think my yard is infested with evil fairies.

See her? She has it out for my yard, I just know it. Take a look at the very NOT cute mushrooms occupying my front yard:

Oh, sure, they don't look so bad in that picture - a little obnoxious, maybe. Heh heh heh. Take a look at them with some common items thrown in for reference!

Can you say, "Holy crap, ya'll!"? 'Cause, um, holy crap!

(That's a size 9 1/2 sandal, btw!)

When I went out to dig those guys out of the yard, I realized that they were not alone. (cue dramatic music) In addition to those "lovely" specimens, there were at least 5 other varieties growing ABUNDANTLY in my grass!

I had these little brown ones growing both alone and in forest form:

...hiding under grasses, even.
I have fairie mushrooms like the first picture, and even one or two pink ones like this:

I even had one of these little teeny tiny buttons! It almost seemed a shame to dig him up, he was so cute snuggled into the moss under the pine trees!

Why am I blogging about mushrooms, you ask? Well, let me tell you something: normally, I wouldn't, but you see this bit of yard here?

(Lovely, just lovely. Oh, thank you! You're welcome. Where was I?)

Oh, yes. In this tiny little corner of yard, on my way to the big ones, I found all of these:

Yes, my friends, that is a flower flat FULL of shrooms. Those little buggers were hiding EVERYWHERE! What should have been a 5 minute dig turned into a 30 minute - how dang hot is it out here anyway - event of torture!

All told, my (quite fragrant) crop of mushrooms came to this:

Here's that big sandal again - just to help you soak it all in:


Now THAT's a lot of shrooms.

PS. My son has been saddened by the loss of the mushrooms. Apparently, they weren't disappearing last year after all -- he was running out in the morning and kicking them. -sigh-

PPS Next time, HE gets to dig them up.

PPPS Don't kick mushrooms. They like it.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Isn't it funny how a powerful memory can be triggered by something tiny? A sound, a smell, a jingle, an old photo...?

Every time I hear a mourning dove, suddenly I'm at G'ma and G'pa Carley's house. I can smell the water of the lake and hear the cuckoo clock, and I can see the canal out front. All from a soft coo of a bird.

Or, fire up a grill and throw some chicken on there, or give me sun-warm raspberries, and suddenly I'm out back with Grandpa Hutchinson and he's making chicken for us while I roll down the hill and raid the berry patch.

One of those moments happened to me at church Sunday morning. I was walking down the hall and glanced into the youth pastor's office. I saw this:

Suddenly I was a little girl again, and I wanted my daddy. This green suitcase, a bit beat up, made me miss him so bad!

We used to have those suitcases - a whole set of them. I remember that I loved how hard they were; they seemed practically indestructible. They had a silky lining, with little elastic pockets around the edges. And they smelled funny. They always smelled funny.

I haven't seen one of those suitcases in 20 years, probably.

I think I'll go call my Dad.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Coral Cactus

Jimmy and the coral

My paternal grandmother loves cacti. She's very ill now; she has Alzheimer's. She has forgotten my generation - or rather - she thinks we're all very small.

The last time I spent a few days with her, she told me some great stories about my "Uncle George". Then she'd shake her head and say, "No, he's your grandpa, isn't he?" We had a good time, but I think what bothered me the most - more than her forgetfulness, which was expected - was that her cacti were disappearing. There weren't nearly as many as before. That made me sad. Those cacti were a big part of who she was to me when I was little.

Grandpa built his ships, and Grandma had all kinds of cacti. She had a cactus with flowers, one that was tall, one that was fat, a soft one, a super spiky one... all kinds, all shapes. I've loved them ever since. She said she liked them because they were "hard to kill". :)

Boy was she right! I have a coral cactus that I bought at Wal-mart (of all places), and I don't think I've watered it since Christmas. It's quite happy on my deck in the heat and humidity. It rains occasionally, so I guess that's all it needs. I stuck it out there once the cold evenings had passed. Before that, I had it sitting on an end table by a bay window so that it could get light and warmth. It sure is happy. It's even getting ready to blossom again!

Before I show you the current pictures, I want you to see how it looked when I bought it. My mom, Clara, took a picture of it for her photo hunt shortly after I had bought it. Here it is, with tiny flowers and all:

Isn't it cute?

It's a bit more rugged now, I'll admit, and I thought maybe I had figured out a way to kill a cactus. You see, it lost its purple almost entirely, and the green became spotty. Then, last week - boom! - Purple and flowers and new growth. Practically explosive! This is the second time it's grown (the first was shortly after I got it), and it's growing like crazy right now! Check it out:

All of the bumps and folds you see in these two pictures are new growth. The fold in the picture above began with the 1st growing cycle, and it is accelerating quickly in the second, with a matching fold on the far side now. The high bumps in the picture below are new this summer.

All of those bright purple ridges are flowering and will be producing new growth soon. I am so excited! I can't wait to see what shape my coral will take next.

Thanks, Grandma, for giving me (among other things) a love of cacti.

I don't wanna grow up, I'm a ToysRUs kid!

...and there's a million things at ToysRUs that I can play with!
(and now you have the song in your head! haha!)

Perhaps it's because they're trying to keep up the million toy count for the whole truth in advertising "fad" or maybe they're just lazy, but ToysRUs trips have sort of morphed into what-kind-of-wacked-out-scary-toys-are-on-the-shelf-today trips.

Yesterday was Jim's birthday, so I took him out on the town for the new GI Joe movie and then some shopping. Here is my latest cache of weird, strange, and disturbing items found at your friendly ToysRUS.

1. liquefying Bambi "Look, Ma! No bones!"

2. Zoo Dr Barbie "Look, Ma! No dress code!" Seriously, when is the last time you saw anyone who deals with random bodily fluids on a regular basis dress like that?
Before we move on from here, check out that monkey x-ray. Apparently it ate a radioactive partially-peeled banana. Whole.

3. Animal Planet's Shark Attack play set, complete with dented cage and biting motion. "Look, Ma! No funny one-liner!"
Aside from the fact that this perpetuates an unhealthy stereotype (sorry - soapbox moment!), check out the fine print.
And, no Animal Planet, that does not make up for the disturbing little play set you've created.


And remember, nothing lights up your world with love like an $8 neck-less doll!
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