Monday, November 30, 2009

Slightly Less Thankful

For traffic, that is.

Specifically 1-95 traffic between Richmond and DC. It's terrible.

We've never encountered smooth sailing on that stretch of road; chances are we won't any time soon.

Traffic woes aside, I'm happy to report that Craig, Caroline and I had a nice Thanksgiving trip to North Carolina to visit with Craig's sister and her family. The trip on Thursday was effortless. Except for the fact that McDonald's wasn't open in some town with a name that I do not recall, on I-95 in Virginia, and we had to stand in a very long line to use the restroom in an OLD gas station. Now here's the thing: I don't mind using the facilities in a brand new convenience store. You know, the kind with 18 gas pumps and soda fountains that offer 27 varieties of soda plus those drink additions like vanilla, cherry and lemon.

Those I can handle. New gas stations have new bathrooms.

Call me picky.
Call me high maintenance.
Call me a bathroom snob.
Call me whatever.
It's all true.

When it comes to travel and where I choose to make a pit stop, I'm not willing to sacrifice my standards.

Well, unless I REALLY have to go.

In emergent situations, as in the "I souldn't have gotten the large diet Coke" type of situation, I just close my eyes, don't touch a thing, all the while hoping Caroline is doing the same. And then, of course, I follow up with copious amounts of soap and hot water... and an extra application of hand sanitizer, just for kicks.

So, McDonald's was closed. Which is nice for the workers, since it was Thanksgiving and all. I think the McDonald's I worked at way back in the day was open for at least the morning on Thanksgiving to provide travelers with a nice, hot, trans fat laden breakfast and bathroom pit stop while on their way to gorge themselves on Grandma's turkey, Aunt Shirley's green bean casserole and Cousin Velma's jello salad.

And while I'm rambling, let me just say that I lived in a family that did not make jello salad OR green bean casserole for Thanksgiving. Heck, I didn't know what green bean casserole was until I moved to Florida. There is nothing wrong with it, I'll eat it, if placed in front of me, but it just wasn't a staple growing up.

Perhaps it's just a regional thing? However, I'm sure many families living on the west coast eat green bean casserole.
We ate cream of mushroom soup in other applications; just not cream of mushroom soup mixed with green beans and french fried onions.

We're just odd ducks, I suppose. Yep, that's probably it.

We've had many unconventional Thanksgivings. For a few years we went to the movies and then went out to eat. Yay for Turkey Day buffet.
One year, we sat down to eat, enjoyed our meal that my mom lovingly prepared and then my dad said, "the dinner was great, Nancy, but you forgot the mashed potatoes."


Well, not really. Our potatoes came dehydrated in flake form in a box with the only requirement being to add water and stir. I could take or leave those. I'm more of a stuffing girl, anyway.

We may not have eaten them on Thanksgiving that year, but I can assure you that there were some mashed potatoes made on the sly after dinner and stored away with the other leftovers. My dad doesn't cook. He made eggs once and perhaps some spaghetti, but when my mom was away, we ate pizza and Burger King. He may not cook, but he can answer any and all questions pertaining to hot water heaters and car maintenance, so we let that slide. Anyway, despite his lack of kitchen experience, every year after Thanksgiving, he makes a special meal. I'll spare you the name he coined for his world family famous leftover creation, but let's just say that the food tastes better than it's name. I have a reputation to maintain on this here blog and would hate to soil my good name by sharing such a distasteful detail.

Since I'm so klassy and all.

Four days away from the blog = wordy Alison.

So, we had a nice time. The trip, despite the aforementioned bathroom issue, was uneventful.
Our time spent with Craig's sister was lovely, as well. Caroline hit it off big time with her cousin, Erin, who is 6 months older. They were inseparable, which was great for every one.

Dinner was tasty and the company was equally as enjoyable.

On Friday, instead of braving the crowds in search of cheap flat screen TVs and $7.50 puffer vests from Target, I took a drive to visit my pal, Sissy. Sissy and I go way back; back to high school, where we both had curly brown hair and excellent study habits. Sissy still has curly hair (and study habits, I presume), so I guess that goes to show which one of us was the recipient of an ill-advised perm back then.


I had a few of those ill-advised perms in my younger years and have since found my way back to the straight hair God intended for me to have.

It was really nice to visit with an old friend. We had lunch, did a little shopping and talked.
It's no secret that I lack true friendship in my everyday life and while one lunch with an old friend won't do anything to change that, Friday's meet up was just what I was craving.

I'm also quite proud of myself for braving major highway all by myself, without the help of a GPS (perhaps I should have gotten up at 4am to buy one on Black Friday), and not getting lost. I got slightly disoriented once, but I did not get lost. This is a huge accomplishment for me. I don't usually drive very far by myself. Not because I can't, but mostly because I rarely find myself in a position that requires it.

Our time in NC was enjoyable.
The traffic in Virginia was not enjoyable.
Not in the least.
What took us 4 1/2 hours to drive on Thursday took us around 7 hours (minus a stop for dinner) on Saturday.

Even so, it was worth it.
It was nice to escape from the mundane.

We should do that more often.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Here I sit, trying with earnest to express gratitude for all that I have, and yet I'm having trouble focusing my mind on being thankful when a pack of wild beasts are currently bickering, screeching and destroying my living room. Since I'm a glass half empty kind of girl, I know that I do not focus on the good stuff as much as I should; it's far easier to gripe than take the time to count my blessings. So, while I try to block out the sanity shattering chaos occurring on the floor above me, I'll do my best to focus on thankfulness.

I do love a challenge.

I'm thankful for honeycrisp apples and Sharpie fine point markers. For a smart and sweet daughter, a forgiving husband, talk radio and the smell of laundry detergent. For a free spirited sister, a fun and easy going mom and a wise and pragmatic dad who answers all of my car and appliance related quandaries. I'm thankful for diet Pepsi, English breakfast tea, Top Chef and the Biggest Loser. For Body Pump and the StairMaster, rum raisin eyeliner and black mascara. For cinnamon gum, french press coffee and white chocolate mocha coffee creamer.

For a neighborhood full of kids to keep Caroline occupied. For good health and forgiveness. For financial security and for freedom. For things I don't deserve. I'm thankful for hope, a warm (and neatly made) bed, Glade apple cinnamon candles, Greek yogurt, the US Army, the color of granny smith apples and flip flops. For sourdough bread, almond butter and dark chocolate. For double coupons, Dunkin Donut's iced coffee and the smell of McDonald's french fries. I'm thankful for common sense, kind neighbors, willing taste testers for all my baking attempts. For Charlie Brown holiday specials, other people's dogs, space heaters, fleece blankets and fuzzy socks.

For wireless internet, Twitter and an abundance of blogs to get lost in. For snarky recaps on Television Without Pity, pre-lit Christmas trees, pumpkin pie spice in my oatmeal and gingersnaps to crumble over my ice cream. For culinary mysteries and books about a hapless bounty hunter, for music, running socks that don't slip by my heel and pink ipods that make running more enjoyable.

I'm thankful for the freedom to gripe, grumble, complain and expose my neurotic tendencies on this blog. I'm thankful for people who graciously overlook my flaws and seem to like me anyway. Even when I am most unlikeable.

I'm thankful for stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.

And most of all, I'm thankful that I will not have a turkey meltdown this year. Which, by my calculations, means next year's meltdown will be legendary. Legen-DARY. So says Barney Stinson.

May your hearts be merry, your bellies be full and your family be on their best behavior.
If that's even possible.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Meet Ebony.
Ebony is my trusty side kick in the kitchen; my right hand man machine. I've been wanting to name my stand mixer for quite a while, since we're quite the team and I've grown quite attached to her, but I was having trouble coming up with a fitting name. Ruby was my first instinct, but I'm a literal sort of girl and couldn't name a non-red appliance Ruby. I could have named her anything, like Lulu or Sandy, but again, I'm pretty literal and wanted to use her shiny black paint as a reference point. So, Ebony it is.

It could be worse, you know. Caroline and her friends are the least creative when it comes to naming their Webkinz. When Caroline brought home a black poodle Webkinz and wanted to name it Blackie, I suggested we find a more creative name, instead. Besides, Bailey, Caroline's friend already named her black poodle, Blackie. I suggested Hallie, as a play on Halloween, but Caroline went with Halloweena, instead.
I tried.

So Ebony and I have done a lot of bonding lately. Bake sales, birthdays, cakes for Craig's co-workers and the usual weekly goodies have kept Ebony spinning and Land O Lakes butter in business. I'm glad I have her; it's hard to think that I spent the first 11 years of marriage making cookies by hand.

Ebony has spoiled me and I hope that she'll remain a part of our family for years to come.

Most brides these days register for a Kitchen Aid stand mixer and are lucky to find one wrapped in festive wedding paper and placed on the gift table amidst towels, picture frames and, well...whatever it is you might receive as a wedding present.

I really haven't a clue; as you know, I sort of skipped over all that traditional wedding stuff.

I, on the other hand, eschewing tradition, secured my Ebony the old fashioned way; I ordered her on Amazon.

From the moment she entered my life, I've been a happier and better baker.
Ebony and I were pretty busy yesterday; I was asked to bake a four layer chocolate cake for one of Craig's co-workers. She even paid me money! Compared to the first layered chocolate cake I made, this one came out really nicely and only a *little* bit lopsided. I should make up business cards that say "Lopsided, by Alison." Catchy, eh?

One day, when I grow up, I'll manage to make the sides all smooth. Must. Keep. Practicing.

Feeling the need to unleash my inner Martha, I even decorated the box with festive fall leaves and some shimmery ribbon.

It was a busy day in the kitchen, indeed. With the exception of preparing the yearly Thanksgiving dinner, I've never done so many dishes in my entire life.

Chocolate buttercream is messy.

So is chocolate ganache.

As evidenced by the Jackson Pollack imitation I attempted on my shirt.

We keep Spray 'n Wash in business.

Monday, November 23, 2009

And This is Where I Apologize to Ms. King

I've never been a big fan of science and science related activities. Honestly, I'm just not smart enough to understand most of it and I really haven't any desire to devote my time to remembering things that mean nothing to me.

I'm talking about physical science here. I'm a wee bit more interested in biology,chemistry and anatomy, but anything involving matter, mass or velocity just flies over my head.
Baking is a science. And as you know, I like to bake. Since I just follow the recipes and don't write them, I don't pay much attention to the confusing, science related details. Acids, alkaline, baking powder, baking soda. I do know that when you include buttermilk in a recipe, you must add baking soda. Why? I'm not entirely sure; it has something to do with acid.

I follow the rules; I don't make them.

Some people have scientific minds; some have literary minds.
I'm just lucky to have even a quasi-functioning mind.

I wonder what it's like to be exceptional? Being mediocre is easy and effortless, and not to mention, terminally pathetic. But still, I'm not sure I do anything with true exceptionalism.
Oh, wait...I worry exceptionally well. And my laundry skills are above par. Practice makes perfect, you know.

Caroline has a math minded brain. I think she's exceptional, but I'm biased. I'd like for her to NOT put her pajamas on inside out AND backwards, but for now I'll just focus on the fact that her penchant for numbers is pretty awesome. Hopefully she'll always be an effortlessly smart kid. I'd like for her to be exceptional. She's our only shot at success.
Only children carry a heavy burden. If you have more than one, it's okay if one of them turns out to be a dud. You always have a spare.

We don't have a spare. Caroline is it.
Poor kid. Not only do I refuse to supply her with a baby sister, she's also denied a pet (per our landlord's wishes) and she's faced with the burden of being the sole supplier of pride-filled, praise-worthy, brag-able moments to her parents.

Anyway.... here I go with the long, rambling lead in... I should take this opportunity to publicly apologize to Ms. King, my 9th grade physical science teacher (she also taught physics, but well....there's no way I'd make it through that class) for not paying attention. If I had paid attention, focusing my easily distracted teenage mind on her lessons on energy, heat and combustion, instead of my angst du jour, there is a pretty good chance that I would have remembered that HOT glass shatters when cold water touches it.

Let's just say, it's a good thing my pan of roasted butternut squash was over the sink when it shattered in my hands. Apparently, if you add a smidge of cold water to a screaming hot pan, the pan shatters. Shatters! In eight million pieces.

Cleaning up hot broken glass ain't no picnic, but the worst part is that you can't eat your butternut squash anymore. I like a little cinnamon and brown sugar on my butternut squash. Not glass shards.

It was a science lesson I wish I didn't have to learn. But I learned. And I'll never repeat that fiasco again.


Sometimes I need to learn the hard way.

I was sort of in shock after my dinner exploded in my hands and as I cleaned up the remains of my roasting pan, I kept thinking how glad I was that none of the glass pieces got in my eye. I have an intense fear of getting pokey things in my eye.

I guess that explains my irrational fear of the staple gun.

No, I don't walk around with safety goggles permanently guarding my eyeballs, but for some reason, I am plagued with irrational thoughts of having my eyes poked. Maybe I've watched A Christmas Story too much (hello it's on for 24 hours each Christmas), but I have honestly been known to worry about having a screw driver fall out of my hands, bounce on the ground and land in my eye.

Is that odd?

Wait....don't answer that.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Did He Buy NOW?

That's usually what I say when I see the UPS or Fed-Ex man or woman at our door. In our family, Craig is the online shopping addict. He doesn't buy random stuff he sees on TV, thankfully. We don't own a ShamWow or a Magic Bullet; nutritional supplements and anything that might increase Craig's athletic endurance or enhance his recovery time are generally the items purchased.

As Caroline and I approached the front door yesterday after school, I saw a Fed-Ex slip on the door and a little package on the front stoop. "Sheesh, what did your dad buy now?" were the words that escaped from my lips. Upon further inspection, I saw MY name on the box.
Slightly confused, as I knew I hadn't order anything recently, I opened the package only to find the most awesome kitchen gadget ever.
For the perfectionist that I claim to be, I'm a horrible cutter. No two brownies are ever the same size.
I find it slightly annoying that despite my best efforts, I lack the ability to cut perfectly.

Well, my mom has a cousin, named Jan, who owns a bakery in Southern California. My mom attended my cousin's wedding this past September and evidently had a conversation with her cousin about some sort of device that would help a competent home baker, with a less than precise eye, cut perfectly portioned brownies.

Jan, being the kind woman she is, told my mom she'd take care of it.
And she did! It totally made my day.

Jan sent me this adjustable dough divider.

Thanks, Jan.
I cannot wait to try it out!

In other news, Craig bought me a new camera for my birthday.
It's pink.
Apparently matching my shirt to my camera makes me take ridiculous pictures in the bathroom.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me

Three years ago, on November 17, 2006, I woke up, no longer 29 and holding, but very much a 30 year old. It was a pretty uneventful birthday, as most of mine are. Craig was in Kuwait and I had big plans to go to my favorite step aerobics class, shower at the gym and then treat myself to lunch and maybe a quick shopping trip before picking up Caroline from pre school.
Well, as my luck would have it, my step class was cancelled because the gym was busy moving to it's newer, bigger location. So I went home. And exercised at home. And ate lunch at home.
It was kind of pathetic.
I do remember going out to dinner with Caroline, my friend and her family that night, so all was not lost. And still, it was hardly a birthday worthy of remembering. Especially since the piece of cake I brought home from the restaurant was devoured by my 4 year old, leaving me just a few bites.
Missing your favorite step class on your birthday is bad, but only getting a few measly crumbs of cake is MUCH worse.

You might be wondering why I'm reminiscing about my pitiful 30th birthday instead of talking about turning 33 today. Well, first, I'm not all that happy about being 33 so I'm trying to avoid the topic, but secondly, I'm remembering that day in 2006 because on that fateful 30th birthday, I had a little talk with my faithful date of birth: November 17th.

The conversation went something like this:

"Hey November 17th, you've been good to me for a long time. And for that I am eternally grateful. I've enjoyed many birthdays, opened many presents, blown out many candles and eaten many slices of cake. In theory, I don't really have a problem with YOU, November 17th. It's not YOUR fault I was born on your day. It's not YOUR fault you come around once every 365 days.
But here's the thing. I'm DONE. 30 is good, 31 is not. Nor is any number after. Once you're in your 30s, things change. Body parts that were once perky are perky no more. Smile lines become more defined. Joints creak and crack and lets not even talk about middle age spread.
I'd appreciate it if you'd consider not coming around anymore. I won't mind. Really.
Tell your buddies you're going on vacation. November 16th is welcome to occur as scheduled, as is November 18th. I have no beef with them.
But, I'm giving you the axe.

Thanks for all you've done for me, but really, it's been too much.

I don't mean to sound ungrateful, honestly, I don't. But please take this opportunity to go bless someone else with another candle on their cake and not to mention, the accompanying cellulite and deeply embedded forehead lines."

It was a heartfelt conversation.
Unfortunately for me November 17th is cruel and heartless.
And dead set on returning year after year.

November 17th is evidently a rule follower. As a rule follower myself, I can sympathize with his/her plight. I just figured if I talked sweetly enough, November 17th would permit this one exception.
I figured wrong.

And here I am, 33 years old. Does that mean I'm in my mid-30s? Or do I have one more year in my early 30s?

I realize in the grand scheme of things 33 isn't that old. It's not, I know. But what bothers me is how quickly the years fly by.
It's scary how I remember turning 25, but the subsequent years are all a big blur. I suppose I could blame that on Caroline since I had her at that age. Yep, that's it. The big blur that is the last 8 years of my life is definitely peppered with spit up, interrupted sleep, dirty faces, meltdowns at the mall over balloons in locked stores and stepping haphazardly on Legos with bare feet.

Parenthood or not, time is zooming.

Each year I lament the fact that I didn't enjoy the previous year as much as I should have; I think that's why I dread adding another number to my age each November 17th.
It's not that 33 is bad; but 32 wasn't great.
It's my fault. I should work harder at enjoying life; finding joy in simple things, letting go of the things I can't control.
Instead I dither away the time, worrying about big things I haven't an ounce of control over and also, little things like finding the perfect pair of jeans or whittling down my ever growing laundry pile.

It's a lesson I can't quite seem to get.

But on the other hand, if I did finally "get it" I wouldn't be able to call myself "The Neurotic Housewife" any longer.

Somehow "The Completely Well Adjusted Housewife" doesn't have the same ring to it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Woman of Unextravagant Taste

Back in the good old days, aka when we lived in Hawaii, Craig and I found ourselves spending some time down in Honolulu at the Ala Moana Shopping Center. I'm not sure why we were at that particular establishment, as it's kind of swanky, and we're hardly swanky people. Anyhow, we were at the Ala Moana Shopping Center for an undetermined reason and we happened upon the newly opened Neiman Marcus store.

As I stated before, we're not swanky people. We don't shop at Neiman Marcus. However, we must have been bored, so we went in. As soon as I saw a male sales associate wearing a very nicely tailored suit, I knew we weren't in Sears anymore. It's safe to assume that you cannot buy jeans, a television, steel toed work boots, a refrigerator and a riding lawn mower all in one trip to Neiman Marcus.

Despite being completely out of our element, it was fun to see the neatly displayed yet disgustingly expensive items on display. It was a look, but don't touch kind of experience.

Down on the lower level near the jewelry and make up counter I broke the "don't touch" rule and picked up a lovely candle.

That lovely candle cost $70.

That's when I knew we most certainly did not have any business gracing Neiman Marcus with our simple and humble presence any longer.

$70 for a candle!
For a hunk of scented wax!

Here I go again with a long lead in....

See, I'm a girl with simple tastes. I'll probably never own a Coach purse or drive a luxury car. So long as I have a good pair of running shoes and name brand soda, I'm happy with clearance priced items in every other area of my life.
I do love candles, but I'm being very honest when I tell you that my favorite candle in the whole entire world is made by Glade.

Cheap Glade candles; the kind you buy in the grocery store.

Glade candles in the apple cinnamon scent = Heaven.

I like Yankee Candles very much, but if I'm doing the buying, I'm quite happy with Glade. The aroma permeates through the house and the warm spicy scent is the epitome of home to me: Inviting, warm and welcoming.

With that being said, I veered off course yesterday and along with my stand by apple cinnamon purchase, a bayberry spice candle also found it's way into my cart. I had a $1.50/2 coupon to use and felt like walking on the wild side.

I'm not normally so open to variety in my candle buying ventures, but I was suddenly struck with the memory of having a bayberry spice candle when we lived in Hawaii. Although that candle was white and this one is green; I hope the scent hasn't changed.

Suddenly everything is coming full circle, here with the Neiman Marcus/Hawaii talk. Yes? Or no. It's okay, I don't really have a point to all this candle talk. I just happen to have some time to waste while Caroline is at swimming lessons. My neighbor volunteered to drive her (her two girls are in the class, too) because she's going to swim while the girls are in their lesson. Also, I think she feels guilty for always dumping her kids on me. Not that she's really dumping them, but it seems like they're here an awful lot. It's all good...
Anyway, I accepted her offer with gratitude because I have big birthday cake baking plans to tend to. Am I the only one that bakes her own cake? Actually I'm baking it, saving a slice for Caroline and me for tomorrow and sending the rest to work for Craig and his co workers.


I'm waiting until after Thanksgiving to pull out the bayberry spice candle, since it's a "holiday" scent and I'm loathe to start the holidays too early. I hope, upon the candle's initial lighting, I'll be swept away to that carefree time we spent in Hawaii.

Pardon me as I wax nostalgic; I'm longing for the good old days; probably because my birthday is quickly approaching and I was so young back in those Hawaii days.

Young, perky Alison.

Well, young; I've never been particularly perky.

Not even in my ill advised middle school cheerleading days.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Twizzlers and a Tube Pan

Despite my fervent protestation, my birthday is quickly approaching. Last week as I was devouring the last of Caroline's Halloween Twizzlers, I told her that Twizzlers were all I wanted for my birthday. Well, Twizzlers and a tube pan. NOT a tube TOP. A tube PAN.

A tube top, would in fact, be a horrible gift.

However, considering the stack of recipes in my "to make" pile that require said pan, a tube pan (it's like an angel food cake pan) would be an excellent gift. The Twizzlers really go without saying.

To say that I have a sweet tooth would be the biggest understatement of the century.

But you know what, I'm kind of surprised with my reaction to Caroline's Halloween candy bag this year. Normally I pounce quickly, early and often and shovel all the chocolate into my mouth as if there is no tomorrow. This year I'm finding that I've easily maintained more self control than normal. I'm not sure why. In the spirit of full disclosure, I did eat all the Twizzlers and most of the Butterfingers BUT not as quickly or in my usual morifyingly unlady-like fashion. The other night I went to eat a Reese's peanut butter cup, took one bite and realized I didn't want it. And then I threw it away! I never do that. Usually I just eat it anyway. You know, because wasting chocolate is a sin akin to murder and coveting your neighbor's ass. Or however that commandment goes.

While we're on the subject (of candy, that is...NOT my neighbor or his ass) have you noticed how small the fun sized Snickers and Milky Way candy bars have gotten? It's probably a good thing, since no one needs that much caramel, nougat and chocolate (mmm nougat) but the fact that the companies are charging the same amount OR more for a smaller product is kind of annoying.

Craig and Caroline did some shopping for my birthday. I'm 100% positive I didn't get any Twizzlers because yesterday upon their return I asked Caroline if she bought me Twizzlers and she said no. So there you go.

That's ok.
I'm still holding out for a tube pan.

It's actually kind of strange to get presents. Craig and I haven't ever been good at giving gifts to each other. It's far easier to buy what you want and call it a gift. However, I'm pretty easy to buy for. You could give me nice dish towels and I'd be happy. Or an apron with a beaver on it that says "best dam cook."

Thanks, Dad!

Craig is a little harder to buy for and I've pretty much given up trying to get him anything. I've waved the white flag of surrender and it works out fine that way; he buys something that he really wants and every one is happy. Everyone wins.

I'm a peacemaker; I like when everyone wins.
If I weren't the oldest child, I'd be a great middle child.

A bossy middle child.

Or maybe I'm just wishy-washy.
As much as I hate to admit it, I think that's the actual case.
I'm wishy-washy and terrified of stepping on toes.

Except with Craig and Caroline, of course. Home is where my bossiness grows.
Our home environment is conducive to the cultivation of my bossiness because I'm the overseer of all things domestic.

When it comes to laundry, groceries, the tidiness of our house and the issuing of snacks: I am the law.

In other news, today is National Bundt Day.
It's also National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day and National Raisin Bran Cereal Day.

I happen to like raisin bran cereal as much as the next senior citizenperson, but I haven't a clue what a spicy hermit cookie is. I do, however, know and love the bundt cake. Had I known of this occasion earlier, I would have baked a bundt cake in celebration. Instead, I baked another batch of white chocolate gingerbread blondies and pumpkin pie snickerdoodle bars for a bake sale at Craig's work tomorrow.

If you love big bundts as much as I do, check out The Food Librarian and her 30 days of bundt cakes. Oh, how I wish I had stumbled upon this sooner.

Any blog that can incorporate cake and "Baby Got Back" in one post is truly meant for me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gotcha Sucker

Yipes, two posts in one day; and two posts in the span of a couple hours. Clearly I have too much time on my hands. I even have extra time today because I don't have to pick up Caroline from school until 4:25. She spends an extra hour in detention at Mad Science on Fridays. Hopefully she's learning something scientific, but she's probably using it as social time with her two friends.

Nah, she's learning something.

I hope so.
Mad Science costs $96 for 7 weeks.

She better be learning some science.

Anyhoo, I do have a point in this second post; I'll get there eventually.
I happen to prefer a longish lead in.

It's my blog and I can bloviate if I want to.
Or post twice in one day.

Heck, that's really not much considering that I read many food blogs in which the bloggers post three times a day. Three posts in which they include details and pictures of their daily eats. Food blogging is a huge commitment and I'd admire those that put their lives and their food consumption out there for weirdos like me to read about. I eat the same things every day and take horrible pictures; I wouldn't be a captivating food blogger.

Heck, I'm hardly a captivating regular blogger.

And my point.

I'd like to give mad props to the fundraiser monkeys at the school who have learned to successfully play with parent's emotions. It's very easy to refuse to sell gift wrap or buckets of chemical laden cookie dough, but it's darn near impossible to refuse to buy your child's art work.

As I was stuffing the Thursday Folders yesterday, a stack of brightly colored envelopes caught my attention. Inside each envelope was a refrigerator magnet that was a picture each child drew. Evidently they were told to draw a picture of an animal in art class. Then the artwork was given to some company that then turned the artwork into magnets. In the envelope was the magnet and a brochure offering many other items (key chains, oven mitts, coffee cups) all sporting the picture your child drew.
The magnet is $6, which in the grand scheme of school fundraising, is el cheapo. I'll happily buy the magnet. How could I turn away my baby's art? I may lack some of that desireable warm fuzziness, but I'm not THAT cold hearted. Besides, who wouldn't want a magnet of a cat wearing a blue shirt?Although I first thought it was a mouse. Oops.

I'm also purchasing a Christmas ornament, which I'm a total sucker for. It's $15. Could be worse. You know, I'll tell you what is worse: in the brochure the ornament, that is shaped like a Christmas tree, adorned with little silver ornaments, is described as "a decorative ornament." It bugs me to high heaven that they could not write "CHRISTMAS ornament." It's shaped like a Christmas tree and decorated like a Christmas tree, for crying out loud.
It's a CHRISTMAS ornament.

Something like this happened in Kindergarten when we lived in Georgia. We received a notice telling us to come to an "art show." Each child in the school drew a picture, which was going to be artfully and proudly displayed at an art show. And guess what? The pictures were available for purchase.
How convenient.

We couldn't make the art show for some reason, but I felt the pull to buy the art, anyway. Since they were also quick to assure us that the art was also available for purchase online in the event we couldn't attend the art show.

Again, how could I turn away my baby's finest work.

So, for $45 we are now the proud owners of a nicely framed picture of an octopus.

It hangs in Caroline's bathroom and it's really very cute.

So there you have it. I've found my soft spot.
But like I said earlier, I'd MUCH rather spend $21 on a magnet and a CHRISTMAS ornament than $12 on a roll or wrapping paper.

Split Pea Soup

I'm one of those weirdos that LOVES split pea soup. If my mom ever made it growing up, which I can't really remember one way or another, I would not have been the kind of child that would have refused to eat it. The more I think about it, my mom must have made split pea soup because how else would I have established such a love for it. Now that I'm tripping down memory lane, I do remember her telling me about a woman she knew growing up who called split pea soup "Mary Poppins soup" to get her children to eat it.

Hey, whatever works.

Maybe I'll call it "Spider Man soup" to get Craig to eat it.
He's not a fan.
I could also go with the "it'll put hair on your chest" sales pitch, but he already has that one covered.

I'll admit,split pea soup is not a dish that warrants an A+ in visuals; people rarely refer to something as being "split pea green" in a positive way. Such as, "the carpet in that house is the color of split pea soup." No one wants pea green carpet or furniture or appliances. That I understand.
But not liking pea soup is a foreign concept to me. Not as foreign as those claiming to hate chocolate. That is certifiably insane, in my eyes. I can see how the color and texture of split pea soup might not appeal to everyone; but for those with a sense of adventure: give split peas a chance.

The other day, the first of the many cold, windy rainy days that have overcome our area recently, I bought a can of Amy's split pea soup at the store. I paid $2.29. That's kind of pricey, if you ask me.
As you know, cheap is my love language. Or, something like that.
Knowing that I could easily make myself a whole lot of split pea soup from one bag of dried peas, I dug deep within the recesses of my pantry and discovered a bag that I probably paid a little over a buck for.

And then I made myself some soup.
That was a good idear, if I do say so myself.

Economical, nutritious and tasty.

And that my friends is the extent of the exciting events that have occurred in Casa de Smith lately.
Yep, split peas. That's it.

It has been a low key kind of week. Craig has been working some long hours; in fact, neither Caroline nor I have seen him since Wednesday. He's been driving to Maryland for meetings in the mornings and then finishing up his regular work shift. I haven't been able to keep my eyes open later than 9:45 lately; consequently, I've been dead to the world on the couch downstairs when he arrives home a little after 10.
I'm sure he's looking forward to the weekend.

It's been cold and rainy. Oh and WINDY. I normally love this kind of weather so long as I don't have anywhere to go. However, I was feeling oddly antsy yesterday and went on an outing, braving the cold, rain and hair style demolishing wind.
First I did my weekly volunteer gig in Caroline's class. I read about maps with my reading groups and then helped the kids as they brainstormed for their stories about a turkey in disguise.
After catching up on all the second grade gossip at lunch, I left, debating the whole time whether I wanted to endure the nasty conditions. Knowing that I couldn't bare to spend another solitary moment at home without a thing to do (besides laundry), I carried on.
First stop: lunch. I wanted soup but Panera was in the opposite direction in which I was going. Subway just had to do.
I grabbed my veggie sub and baked Doritos and ate in the car whilst listening to the radio. After that I went to Michael's to see if there was anything I couldn't possible live without.
The answer to that question is NO.
I couldn't find anything I wanted, needed or desired enough to spend my money on.

Oh well. It was nice to browse, anyway.

After running through the congested parking lot, dodging rain and blowing leaves, back to the car, I pointed myself in the direction of Trader Joes. It's been a couple of weeks since my last trip and my almond butter jar is empty and in the recycle bin. Time for an ab refill.
By the time I drove to Trader Joes, bought my ab, pumpkin butter, cranberry apple butter and some steel cut oats, it was still only 12:45. Apparently I'm too efficient to waste time.

Still not wanting to go home, I went to Target.

Every other time I go to Target I can find a zillion things to spend money on.

Today, not so much.

So I went home.

It wasn't nearly as fun an outing as I had hoped for.

Today's events have been similarly pathetic. Gym, library, home, split pea soup, laundry.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gratitude in the Form of Hot Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

Do you spell it donuts or doughnuts?
I go either way.

Anyway, today is Veteran's Day. So, thanks Veterans. Especially my mom, dad, four uncles and last, but not least, Craig.

Each year Caroline's school puts on a big Veteran's day shin dig. It's up to each grade level to choose how they celebrate, but often times it involves parents and grandparents or friends and neighbors coming in to share about their jobs or their time spent in the military.
Last year the first graders sang some songs and listened to some of the dads talk about their jobs as pilots, doctors and computer geeks.
This year the second graders didn't do anything big so I didn't plan on going in to the school this morning. In fact, I was eagerly anticipating a sweaty gym session. That is, however, until I ran into my neighbor after school yesterday. She's the same neighbor that coordinates all the parent volunteers for the PTA. Can you guess where this is going?

I had already signed up to provide baked goods for the goodie table, but she was also looking for a sucker willing participant to stand by the goodie table and greet people as they passed by. She needed someone to say hello, thank them for coming and suggest they grab some coffee and a doughnut from the table.
I agreed to do it so long as I didn't have to wear a dress. I didn't agree to this because I fancy myself the greeting type. I'm friendly. I love to chit chat, but I don't fit the cheerful greeter profile. I much prefer to ease my way into conversations and when you're greeting people, you have to be the conversation initiator. I'm not an initiator.

There's a first time for everything. And today was my day.

Instead of easing into the day as I usually do, I hopped out of bed as the alarm sounded and did the shower, hair and make up thing. The hair thing was completely pointless, by the way. I was having an excellent hair day until the moment I stepped outside into the breezy rainy morning.
I was not happy.
Nor was I efficient with my time. After I dropped Caroline off at school, I booked it back to the house to brush my teeth (clean teeth are imperative when you're in charge of greeting people), grab the brownies and feed the neighbor's cat.
After all that was done, I walked back to the school, with my hair just a blowin' in the wet wind all the while cursing the weather.

I'm fairly easy going, but I have my limits. Hair mussing weather is one of those limit reaching, ire inducing occasions.

As it turns out, greeting the veterans was a lot of fun. I talked a lot, pushed the baked goods and enjoyed watching the kids eagerly salute those in uniform.
Our area is a veritable melting pot of military families so it is only fitting that the school take time out to show support and gratitude to those who serve.

The goodie table was over flowing with treats. So many, in fact, that the remains will be pawned off on the teachers and staff. One of the parents brought in two dozen freshly made Krispy Kreme doughnuts, which were accepted with relish. One lady, a Navy IT specialist, had just come home from Afghanistan two weeks earlier and was SO happy to eat a Krispy Kreme. Seeing her devour the doughnut with such joy made my cold, black heart feel all warm and fuzzy. Doughnuts can do that to you.
Well, not to me; doughnuts give me heartburn. But it's nice to see that others enjoy doughnuts without needing to follow the doughy sweet goodness with a Tums chaser.

Many of the veterans had the day off today, so it is only appropriate that we ply them with sugar and really strong coffee in an effort to say thanks. They could have stayed home in their comfy clothes on this rainy day, enjoying quiet while their kids are at school.
Instead, they put on their uniforms, endured the nasty weather and came to visit hoards of eager and excited children.

They could have chosen to not serve our country, but they did.
Selflessly. Honorably. Courageously.

And for that I am truly grateful.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Sticky

It might be accurate (and not an exaggeration in any way) for me to say that I'm pretty sure I'm falling apart; or perhaps it's the cloudy day and whatever is in the air that is causing my sinuses to remain on the verge of explosion, that is contributing to my problems. My body works, mostly, but my mental faculties are fuzzy. And let's not even talk about my grace and coordination.
I'd like to think that a big magic wand with a giant eraser on the end would come in handy; I'd pretty much like to erase most of the events of the past few days.

I'm being a wee bit dramatic, you know. It hasn't been that bad; I've just been feeling a bit contrary lately. Heck, I've been having some decent hair days, so I can't complain TOO much. Finding and maintaining an attractive hair style is half the battle, no?

This might come as a surprise to many, but I'm a glass-half-empty kind of person. Oh, I kid. That tid bit of information is glaringly obvious. My mom used to call me Eeyore, which is quite a befitting nickname.
Forever bumbling along with a storm cloud over my head.

In hopes of turning my frown up side down, I'll start with the good stuff, since this blog post is titled "The GOOD, the bad and the Sticky."

I already mentioned the good hair, but that's something that bears repeating. I'd like to thank Pam at the Hair Cuttery in Alexandria, VA for giving me some good layers. Yes, I go to a cheapy hair cut place; it's shameful, I know. But I'm cheap and would much rather pay $21 for a hair cut than $50+. It's all about numbers.
As a side note, I hate it when hair dressers ask if I'm using "good" shampoo. Honestly, I lied to Pam and said yes because I not only didn't want her to publicly chastise me for using inferior hair products, but I also didn't want to feel pressured into buying some ridiculously priced shampoo.
The truth is, sometimes I use the good stuff and sometimes I use Suave. As it so happens, I'm using Suave now because I got the bottles on sale with a coupon, paying about .29 a bottle. Quality or not, I can't pass up a deal like that.

I've been blessed with silky, shiny hair and can get away with the cheaper stuff. I prefer the good stuff, since I have impeccable taste and all, but I had a coupon. A coupon! You can't roll your eyes at that.

Hair. Good.

Brownies. Good.

I'm baking AGAIN. This time it's for Caroline's school's Veteran's Day program tomorrow. I had originally planned on making coffeecake muffins, but the volunteer organizer (and my neighbor) said she had tons of muffins, but no brownies.

NO BROWNIES! Not good.

I changed my plans and now my house smells like chocolate.

Chocolate. Good.

Yesterday Caroline told me she needed to wear red or camouflage tomorrow for their Veteran's Day celebration. Today, an email from her teacher reiterated the information.

Short notice. Bad.

$4.50 red long sleeved tshirts at Wal Mart. Good.
As are $2.00 clearance charcoal grey corduroy capris. For Caroline, not me.

I did, however, manage to find a piece of wall art (?) for $5. It's a wooden framed metal scrolly thing. Obviously my descriptive powers are lacking today. Basically, it's something to put on the wall. I've had an open space in our living room for um, ever. Since we moved in. Just recently I decided that I needed to find something to fill the void. On the wall, that is.

The void in my soul cannot be filled from the clearance rack at Wal Mart. Or could it?

Serendipitously stumbling upon cheap (but lovely) wall art. Good.

And for the bad.

Hmm, suddenly I've forgotten what has gone so terribly awry in my life. I suppose accentuating the positive first IS a good idea.
I'll have to remember that.

I spilled my water on the gym floor today. That's BAD.
Thankfully the bottle was nearly empty, but not nearly empty enough.

I hate when I'm so messy.

Speaking of messy...and sticky...aha, this is where the sticky comes in....

As I grabbed my gym bag out of the car this morning and walked into the gym, I heard a few little squirty noises. It was my hair spray; evidently the nozzle was pressing against something. I quickly repositioned the hair spray bottle and went on my merry way. I deposited my gym bag in the locker and placed the bag with my clean change of clothes on top. Just like I do everyday.

I had a decent workout; ran three miles (with minimal hip pain, yay!) and did Body Combat. And spilled my water, but I don't want to rehash that.
After Body Combat, I went to the locker room to get ready to beautify. I pulled out my bag with the clean clothes and noticed that my gym bag felt sticky. And wet. It was hairspray! The bag on top depressed the hair spray button, allowing all the hair spray to escape from the bottle, leaving EVERYTHING sticky. My make up bag, including the brushes, my soap and shampoo bottles, my weight lifting gloves. All sticky. The hair spray somehow managed to infiltrate my clean clothes bag and left three large hair spray spots on my pants. Thankfully on the legs and not anywhere embarrassing or suspicious.


This isn't the first time this has happened. In fact, it's probably the fourth time. And to think I averted a crisis earlier in the morning as I was walking into the gym. That was merely a prelude to a bigger, stickier storm.

I honestly don't know where my head is on most days. I'm fairly competent on many levels, especially on the domestic front. But, gee whiz, I'm a total space cadet sometimes.

Sure, having to wash my gym bag and all it's contents is somewhat of a bother, but what was worse is that I didn't have any hairspray to use to secure my coif after I blow dried. Talk about horror.
Thankfully, I used my wits and applied extra pre-blow-dry hair product which managed to help maintain some hold. I honestly didn't need the extra hair spray today.

Aww, a hair success story.

Caroline's teacher has been reinforcing the "author's message" to the kids as they read stories. Often times I don't have a message; heck, I hardly ever have a point.

But, in the interest of maintaining some sort of literary integrity, ahem, I suppose it's safe to say that today's message is this: a good hair day and a few clearance items can make a sticky gym bag more bearable.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Is it REALLY Time for Christmas Already?

Christmas is 7 weeks away, but the retailers and their extravagant decorations would make you think otherwise. Everywhere I turn I see Christmas displays in stores and hear holiday music piped through the speakers. I know November seemed to arrive pretty quickly, but sheesh, I haven't even thought about December yet. I guess the early displays and decorations are the retailer's way of sending (not so) subliminal messaging to their patrons to start spending money. I sort of keep harping on this, but I just don't appreciate feeling like I'm already behind or not doing my part to create a "magical" Christmas. Whatever that is....

Charlie Brown would not approve.

Before I go any further, let me pause to say that if you're the baking type, you really should make these white chocolate gingerbread blondies. No, seriously. I'm not kidding. You NEED to make these; your taste testers will bow before you, with tears in their eyes and thank you profusely (and hopefully with gifts). Martha Stewart may have exhibited some poor financial choices in the past, but she knows her baking stuff. Try these now. And, if you can't find molasses in your grocery store, because it's not with the sugar, like you might expect, it's by the pancake syrup. I learned that lesson the hard way and have been able to help a few fellow molasses fetchers with this bit of advice ever since.

Oh, one more thing: if you do choose to make these, I used only 2 sticks of butter instead of the 2 1/2 it calls for because I made these before and they were sort of greasy on the bottom from the excessive amount of butter. 2 sticks worked perfectly.

I made those blondies and some double chocolate chunk cookies for the bake sale at Caroline's school's Craft Fair today. Since I'm a neurotic freak and like for my bake sale goodies to be nicely presented, with clean edges, I ended up with a fair amount of blondie corners and sides left last night. Knowing how poor my will power is when brownies or blondies are involved, I really knew that I should just throw them away. Somehow Caroline talked me into keeping them. I reluctantly obliged, but for safe measure I put them in the freezer and tried to hide them.
And do you know what? They taste awesome frozen, straight from the freezer.

Our day has been jam-packed with activity, but this is the last soccer game, so the weekends to come will be not as eventful. Caroline and Craig are at a birthday party in Maryland; Craig has a long time friend who has a son that is a few months older than Caroline. He's having a party at one of those inflatable jumping places and kindly invited Caroline. I went to the party with them last year, but decided to sit this one out.

Instead of joining in the birthday fun, I used some of my baking earnings (I was also graciously given $20 for baking that going away pumpkin cake yesterday) to buy myself some lunch at Panera and then I got a much needed hair cut. I forgot how tasty Panera's black bean soup is; I ordered that along side half of a mediterranean veggie sandwich. I was starving and practically inhaled it all. Unfortunately I also managed to inhale a piece of feta from my sandwich which caused quite the coughing fit. A lady beside me kept inching further away as if she thought I had the swine flu or something. It wasn't that kind of cough. Sheesh. I'll be sure to wear a mask the next time I choke on a piece of feta.

After my hair cut, I paid visits to Target and Kohls but couldn't find anything to waste my money on. I did find some *almost* perfect jeans at Kohls. They were dark wash denim with a bit of stretch and on clearance for $8. The only pair left was in the right size and I liked them, but they were about five inches too long. Oh well.

This morning I also volunteered at the Craft Fair, helping at the food table. In my usual clutzy fashion, I spilled the last of our coffee that someone was hoping to purchase. It dripped down the table and on to the floor, making quite the mess.

I'm so classy.

I like to keep things real, you know that.

I'd hate for anyone to think I'm really as perfect as I appear.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Incognito Turkey

It's that time of year again. Turkeys all around us are starting to get a little bit nervous. They're pacing around their coop, unless they're free range, of course, with their waddles just a flapping, biting their knuckles knobby, scaly, long and creepy feet, hoping and praying they won't find themselves the featured attraction on some ungrateful family's dinner table this Thanksgiving.

In celebration of the brave (and delicious) turkey, the ones that sacrifice their lives so that we can eat a hearty, enjoyable dinner, Caroline's class has been given the task of creating a disguise for a turkey, in hopes that they might save a few fowl friends from their impending November doom.

I think she did a good job.

Who could possibly mistake this hoodie wearing, Sheriff's badge sporting, scarf adorned, pink bespectacled creature for a turkey?

Surely not I.

I must confess that I made the scarf; I we figured that a scarf would be the best way to disguise the gnarly waddle. Am I alone in thinking that turkeys are really UGLY animals? There just really isn't anything attractive about them; unless, of course, it's piled high between two slices or bread or served doused in gravy alongside a mound of mashed potatoes and stuffing.

Mmm, I'm hungry for some Thanksgiving dinner.

It's been a busy day, although I'm not sure that I really accomplished anything. I still have a basket full of clean clothes at the top of the stairs waiting to be put away AND a dryer full of clean towels that need to be folded.

I volunteered at the school, ate lunch with the kids, remembered to feed my neighbor's cat (and fish!) and then I think I spent most of my day in the kitchen. One of Craig's co workers is leaving, so in honor of her last day, I'm making a pumpkin cake with caramel cream cheese frosting, garnished with glazed pecans. It's been quite a labor intensive cake.

Eh, that's ok. I've got nothing else of note going on in my life.

I did, however, earn $10 for the pan of butterscotch cashew bars I made for Craig's co-worker. There is nothing like a little extra money to illicit a happy response in me. The ingredients cost around $8, so I technically only made $2, but that's $2 more than I've made in a very long time. Somehow I'm quite sure that Caroline will manage a way to usurp my earnings some way or another. She's pretty good at that.

And now I know how my dad felt when I was growing up.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cheap Labor

If only *I* thought raking leaves deserved to be classified under the heading of a "fun afternoon activity." Chances are favorable that this motley crew of wannabe landscapers will grow bored and abandon the half completed task (and our rakes) in favor of a different, less labor intensive activity. For now, they're having a ball, and that's all I can reasonably ask for.

Although, I'm sure that when Caroline is older and in her moody teenage phase, she won't feel this enthusiastic when her presence (with rake in hand) is required on the lawn. Well...if money happens to be involved, she *might* be inclined to cheerfully help out.
Caroline is like Mr. Krabs; her eyes light up upon even the faintest utterance of the word money.

I took some cute up close pictures of the hard working crew, but I'm not crazy about putting the faces of other people's children on my blog without permission.
Just a peek into our day.....

Monday, November 2, 2009


It's so cliche to say that I can't believe how quickly the year has passed, but, seriously, I cannot believe that it's already November.
Where does the time go?

While I'm sad to wave good bye to October, and the fact that fall will turn into a chilly winter before we know it, November brings some fun stuff (my birthday!), so I'll focus on the happy. On the bright side, when I see Christmas decorations in the stores that have been up since the Back-to-school supply displays were taken down, I won't feel as annoyed anymore. The commissary was playing Christmas music on Sunday and I noticed this morning that the Dollar Tree store next to my gym had Christmas stockings in the window. It makes me kind of sad that you can't enjoy one holiday before the next is being shoved in your face. We still have turkeys to roast and pumpkin pies to bake before worrying about Christmas stockings and trees.

Actually, this Thanksgiving I won't be roasting a turkey. We're taking a trip to North Carolina and sharing Thanksgiving with Craig's sister and her family. It'll be kind of strange not cooking the Thanksgiving meal, but, on the bright side (always thinking positively!) I won't have my annual turkey meltdown and the accompanying sweat and tears of frustration. I like the sound of that. However, I do not like the fact that we won't have any leftovers to munch on for days after.

Speaking of turkeys, today and tomorrow are Teacher workdays, so my house was brimming with turkeys this afternoon. It started innocently enough with Caroline and Bailey constructing another giant fort in our living room. After a brief visit from Bailey's little brother and some heavy duty bickering resulting in the little brother leaving in a huff, Caroline and Bailey went outside to meet the new neighbors.

A few minutes later the two girls were dragging moving boxes across the street and into our house. The boxes, destined for the recycle pick up pile, were brimming with packing paper. The sight of large moving boxes and mountains of packing paper gives me the shivers, reminding me of the many hours I've spent opening boxes, unwrapping my (hopefully still intact) household items, breaking down boxes and smooshing as much paper into garbage bags as I possibly can.

Such is the life of a military wife.

Anyway, they brought the boxes in, haphazardly threw all the paper out of the boxes and onto the floors and proceeded to sit in the boxes while eating a snack; a fun and completely harmless way to spend the day. Before long, two more girls and at least four more boxes joined the mix. I had packing paper EVERYWHERE. I'm sure the neighbors were more than elated to pass their mess on to someone else. In the spirit of being neighborly, I picked up all the paper and put it out with the recycling instead of dumping it on their front lawn. Not that I'd ever really do that; I'm a wee bit too passive for that sort of behavior.

Undeniably, the kids had a blast and I'll gladly take that over a pristine house, anyday.

I think. Maybe.

Um, sure.

But, like I said, the boxes and copious amounts of crumbled up paper, conjured up all sorts of previous moving memories nightmares. Thankfully we have a little more than a year and a half before we have to pack it up and move on again. Changing location can be fun, but unpacking and getting resettled is for the birds.

I'm sure we'll have a repeat of today's box fun tomorrow and Wednesday I'll be skipping and singing, as I walk Caroline to school in the morning. Four day weekends are just too long.

Tomorrow I am volunteering at the school to help distribute the gift wrap orders for one the of PTA's fundraisers. I HATE fundraisers, especially the gift wrap, small trinket catalog fundraisers. I don't even try to sell the stuff because no one wants it and it's all cheaply made and/or expensive. Even though I didn't buy any gift wrap, I'm going to help hand out orders to those who did. It's the least I can do.

Last year I wasn't on the PTA volunteer list; this year I get an email a couple of times a week asking for helpers. Not surprisingly, I've signed up to provide baked goods whenever that option is available.

Speaking of baked goods....holy crow, this is a random post.....I did some baking for Craig's work mates this afternoon. A co worker of his requested a whole pan of butterscotch cashew bars to bring home to her family and I also baked up some apple pie crumble bars for Craig to share with everyone else. Needless to say, the house smelled wonderful this afternoon. Unfortunately the intoxicating aromas could not compete with the aftermath of what Hurricane Caroline and her thunderstorm posse did to my house as they blew through.

Sure the house smelled of brown sugar, apples and cinnamon, but in my neurotic mind, all I saw were pieces of corrugated cardboard on the floor (the remnants of the air holes they cut into their boxes) and crumbled up paper balls in the base of my fake ficus tree that were used in a paper ball war yesterday. And let's not even talk about the 37 throw blankets and pillows and enough packing paper to make a sequoia tree in my living room.

And to make this post even more random, I almost forgot to feed my neighbor's cat this weekend. They went out of town and asked that we feed Wilbur on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (today). Saturday was a busy day with soccer, rain, last minute costume repairs and trick or treating, but I remember saying to Caroline around lunch time that we'd go feed Wilbur after we got back from the store. 11:15pm Saturday night, I was laying on the couch, just about to fall asleep when I suddenly remembered Wilbur. Eep.
I threw on some shoes, grabbed my jacket and ran over to their house as fast as I could.

The key they gave me is new and it sticks in the locks, which made entry into their house a little difficult.

So there I was at 11:15pm, dressed in dark clothing, except for my big white legs left uncovered by my pajama shorts, trying to work my way into a house that wasn't mine. I hoped and prayed that one of the other neighbors wouldn't get suspicious and call the police. I did not want to answer to the police while wearing a tank top, shorts, running shoes without socks, and a jacket. Thankfully I got in and fed a VERY HUNGRY cat without a hitch; I locked the door, wrestled with the key, turned to go back home and then remembered that I also had to feed their fish. Duh! Again, I fiddled with the sticky key, fed the fish, who was also quite eager to be fed, and made it home.

I didn't hear any sirens, so I assume none of the neighbors noticed my "suspicious activity." That's good. As it has always been a goal of mine to never appear on an episode of Cops OR to get a mug shot while wearing pajamas and no make up.

At least I have my priorities straight.