Monday, August 27, 2007

gizmo trick outs

I have to admit, when it comes to doing things that I don't l-o-v-e to do, I usually opt out. I almost always opt out until I trick myself back on the wagon.

Exercise. It's good for me, but not really that fun... Until I buy a new pair of running shoes and write the date I bought them on the tongue. Now, every time I put on my running shoes, I know that I'll need to buy a new pair a year from that date. It makes me feel smart and oh-so organized, and that's a very nice motivator. Oh yeah, and my little ipod shuffle also gets me, especially when it is loaded up with a bunch of new music, or at least the most recent episode of This American Life.

Flossing. I hate to do it. Most people go to the dentist and the fresh start of just cleaned teeth motivates them to floss more often. Not me. I have overactive saliva glands that give me plaque no matter what I do. My dental hygienist does not believe me when I tell her that I floss. Instead she wipes my plaque on my dental bib and keeps shaking her head and making me answer her questions when her whole entire hand is in my mouth. For two whole years I stopped flossing until Zander's parents put one of those Reach Flossers in my Christmas stocking. I'm hooked.

I also don't like taking vitamins. That is, I don't like taking vitamins unless THEY ARE REALLY JUST LIKE TOOTSIE ROLLS.

Laundry, you ask? I got this Downy fabric softener, and while I still don't love doing laundry, I do enjoy the smell of this stuff, and that makes me a little bit less likely to let the dirty pile get as enormous as it has been known get. And, I prefer folding this sweet smelling laundry before the sweet smell goes away, so I tend to fold it sooner than I used to. Nice, eh?

And the thing that I have always hated to do, but do pretty much everyday now, without fail... Shaving my legs. I have scars on my knees from the horrible cuts that shaving with soap and water have given me. I all but stopped shaving around my Achilles tendon because that spot bleeds like crazy if I knick it. Well, on a whim, I tried shaving cream this summer and now I shave my legs pretty often. I don't cut myself anymore = motivation to shave. No more wearing boots in the summer unless I want to!

Anyone have any gadgets or gizmos that trick you into doing things that you don't like to do?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

For Like Ever

The Covington was a lovely place to spend our anniversary. We found out that we can fill it with 11 of our closest friends for less than everyone would normally spend at a hotel. It might have a lot to do with the oftentimes weird things that I think are completely awesome, but this place really kicked ass. As for the anniversary, I know that to some of you old pros we're like babies, but we've known each other for more than 7 sweet years now. With the happy and the sad and the adventures and the non-adventures and the laughing and all the rest that do not even carry words, I am eternally grateful.
This crabby goose welcomed us to the inn.

Yeah, I just colored my hair and it is horrid. Yeah, we just woke up. Yeah, Zander's face is red because I'm sitting on his lap and squishing his guts.
I jumped on the popular band wagon and got us this print for the occasion.

Monday, August 20, 2007

If I don't get around to the jam today, I'll definitely put on some trashy TV and get this easy dress cut out. If you've ever sewn from a pattern, you appreciate that this is made out of 4 pieces. I'm making the blue dress, but taking it in a bit on the sides, so it'll be easy to wear with a belt. I scored a vintage tweedy looking piece 'o polyester from value village that I'm hoping will be easy to sew. If you haven't picked up Adorn Magazine yet, pick it up, it's so great. They've got this same pattern all made up and altered with some cutsie little ruffles and buttons.

Also to be found in the lovely Adorn is this great idea for reupholstering an ottoman. I think it's adorable.
So yeah, this is essentially my last week of freedom before school starts again! Part of me is bummed, but I also feel pretty lucky to truly enjoy teaching, AND to have the summers off. Today I'm searching for easy strawberry jam recipes. Preferably something that doesn't have a ton of sugar and most certainly something that I can freeze. Any suggestions?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My aunt Ailene and uncle Ed have been sweethearts in Plattsmouth, Nebraska for lots and lots of years now. Their family is etched into my childhood memories. They ran the town movie theater for a while and that's where I saw Every Which Way but Loose. They raised chickens in their back yard and that has since made me wonder about my future as an urban chicken farmer. In my mind I can hear how Ailene's voice sounded when she called her kids to dinner. I call hear exactly how she called me Joolie Doolie. She died this Saturday. It was so, so unexpected. Here's her simple recipe for the best cucumbers ever.
4 cucumbers sliced thin
1 onion (that I hate, so I don't use them)
1 cup of Miracle Whip
1/2 cup of sugar
4 T of vinegar
Mix. Cover. Refrigerate. Let them sit for at least 1 hour before serving.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Betsy!

To my funny, smart, happy, strong, full of love and kisses mother-in-law: Happy, happy birthday!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

forgotten cars

My first car was part Ford Escort EXP, and part something else that I can't remember. My uncle Frank bought it for me from my uncle Ray (who welded the two cars together), and my cousin Russ taught me how to drive its stick shift in downtown Plattsmouth, Nebraska. I learned lots of car care and often life lessons with that car. 1. If you write stuff with your finger on frosted windows, you'll be able to read it everytime your windows frost up again. So write nice things, and keep your pictures PG. 2. If you have a bad alternator/battery/starter, that's really OK because all you really need to know is how to always park facing down a hill, and also how to pop the clutch. And really, if you are worrying about these things, you have no business being in the Dayton's or Marshall Field's or Macy's parking garages. 3. If your radiator is not working, it'll cool the engine fastest if you drive with the heat on full blast. I'm thinking that facial sweat probably has some huge medicinal benefit that I'm too lazy to google right now. 4. If it's second semester already and tuition and books are due, along side your license tabs, don't worry about buying your tabs. If they are due in the winter time, a little strategic snow packing works wonders. ***If they are due in the summer time and you are 35 1/2 years old, and you've got the $40 in your pocket, pay for them early, or if you must, just barely on time. It will make you feel like an incompetent jerk to have advanced degrees and good credit and nice manners and and a sweet husband, while you are skiddishly avoiding the police to prevent that inevitable ticket. Ugh. I just need to make it until Monday... Does anyone have one of those "I heart cops" stickers lying around?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Money Rant

I have two beautiful paint by numbers of roses done by my sister's mother-in-law. I thought that was the perfect size for a mini-collection until I saw this autumn scene for $2.99 at the Goodwill. I love it and think I might be hooked on paint by number. No, I don't want to paint any, but if you see any finished ones lying around, let me know, and I'll take them off your hands. I think they're so sweet.

Speaking of sweet, my sneezeweed is now taller than I am. I love how old fashioned it looks. I have a couple things that I'm ripping right out of the garden for next year, but these guys are staying.
Now, onto the crabiness... Let me preface my money rant by saying that I love our house. I love that it's cozy and has character, and mostly I love that it ours and that it even looks like Zander and Julie live here. That being said, it is really pissing me off. Our shower upstairs is so clogged that 2 bottles of DRAINO did nothing but make our bathroom smell toxic. I really started to notice the problem last week when Zander's cousins joked about "breaking" our shower. Upon investigation, I realized that not only was water not draining, but gunk was floating up and out of the drain. UGH. They drove across the country to see us and were given the opportunity to shower in our filth. So I called the plumber and he came over today to fix the drain and also to turn off the gas on our stove so I can pull out the sub floor and linoleum underneath. After spending about 45 minutes with our very nice plumber, he told me that he wouldn't touch our stove unless we agreed to let him bring the connection up to code. Yep, that's right, our gas stove was basically attached to the source with gum and duct tape. And maybe a wing and a prayer. And instead of using an anti-tip part to keep the stove from tipping forward, the previous owners stacked up pieces of plywood and hoped for the best. With the stove pulled out we saw where they started the counter top on fire before they fashioned their very own anti-tip device. I'm thinking that maybe our inspector should have noticed a bit more before we purchased this house. The longer we live here, the more we find that's not up to code. So $900 dollars later on the drain and the gas, I'm a bit frustrated. My mom thinks we could have prevented a tragedy by taking up the linoleum and discovering the faulty hook up, so as least that makes me feel a little bit better. I did call Centerpoint energy to see if our service plan ($14.95 per month on all major appliances including the stove) would cover sending someone out to turn off the gas for 15 minutes. I was shocked to find out that it's not covered and they'd charge an arm and a leg for the first 30 minutes, and just a hand for each additional 30 minutes. I've used the service once in almost 3 years when we had a bird stuck in the furnace. I'm wondering if it's worth it to keep paying them each month when we don't really get much out of it?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Night Out

Well it's an hour and eight minutes before National Night Out starts and I'm procrastinating. I should be stirring stuff together, or at least taking a shower, but I'm having a hard time getting moving today. Oh summer laziness, how I love you so. Anyway, these tomatoes are the tastiest of our three different kinds from this year. I try to not get the same kinds from year to year, so I should probably start writing it down. Speaking of summer foods... I found a recipe for Key Lime Bars in Cooks Illustrated last summer, and I've made them at least fifteen times since then. I don't subscribe to the magazine, but I love browsing at the library, and then I sometimes end up buying the really good issues.

2 ounces of cream cheese (room temp)
1 T lime zest
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg yolk
1/2 C of lime juice (don't use the bottled kind--it tastes bad in this recipe)

5 oz animal crackers (I don't have a food scale so I just look at the total oz on the bag and then eyeball it)
Pinch of salt
4 T of melted and slightly cooled butter

(I use my food processor for the crust)

For about 20 minutes, bake the crust at 325 in a 8 x 8 pan that has foil in the bottom (but hanging over the edge) and has been sprayed with Pam. While that's cooling, make the filling.

Spread the filling in the semi-cooled crust and then bake it for 20 minutes. Let it cool and then cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours before serving.
**Fat Free sweetened condensed milk tasted too sweet, instead of tart--I even added more lime juice and that didn't really help. I think it's worth the fat to use the real deal.**

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Proverbial Elephant in the Room

Lately I'm thinking about babies. And other people having babies. And how much pain we felt with the miscarriages. ***And how far we've come since then.*** And how it's difficult to casually mention in some friendships how much healing has already come to us... That I'm not fragile. I'm more than OK... Even happy. And in an effort to be considerate and sensitive, so many kind people downplay their new pregnancy or pretend that babies are no big deal. ***They are a big deal.*** I don't want anyone to feel like they should suppress their happiness around me! When I see my friends and family and co-workers having babies and getting pregnant, it doesn't make me sad. It makes me happy for you! It lets me live vicariously through your life while we wait for our little one to come to us. I want to be involved! I want to sew little bibs and blankies for you. But I can't do that if you keep me at a safe distance, in order to protect my feelings. Just like you, I want to be sensitive and considerate and I don't want you to feel weird, so I dance around and try really hard to let you know that I'm OK, and I end up exhausted and looking very much like crazy. I can think of about 10 or so people that are going to think that I'm pointing directly at them with this entry. I'm not. But I am ready to move forward from this fragile, bruised, and sad role that sometimes people assume I must be feeling. I'm happy. I'm not afraid to talk about you, your baby, your pregnancy or your happiness. I love it!