Saturday, November 28, 2009

A.D.D. Really Kicks in This Time of Year!

It's this time of year that makes me realize how "bad" my A.D.D. is. I got up a little after 5 a.m. to start in on the dreaded Christmas decorating. I just about kill myself to get it all done in a day. Anyway, after getting the coffee and tea going and putting on some Christmas music, I started in. My plan was to start in the kitchen, finish it and then move on to the next room. It never works out that way---no matter my good intentions. As I'm getting out stuff, I might as well take it to the room it's going to go in. Sure, having a huge Christmas closet is a plus (and a major selling point when we bought this house 14 years ago), but it's still one heck of a lot of hauling up and down stairs. I have to put away all of my regular decorations to make room for the Christmas stuff. I try to remind myself that it's good exercise.

I have the entire top shelf in the pantry full of Christmas stuff. Butch gets on the step stool and hands it down to me while I hand "big" stuff (mostly lamps and floral arrangements) up to him. This year, I told him to hand down everything that's up there, as whatever I don't use, is going. I've been in a major clean out mode for awhile now. I guess it's because I don't have room to bring in new stuff. 

*Gone is the cornucopia that's about 3 ft. long that I haven't used in at least 6 or 7 years. Even when I did use it (like twice), that much fruit started to rot after a few days. 
*Gone is the huge "eggplant" soup tureen that has never seen any soup. 
*Gone are half a dozen pairs of candle holders. If you've ever seen my candle "cabinet"---well, it's downright ridiculous---how many candles and holders I have. 
*Gone are angels, figurines, ornaments and assorted other decorations.
*Gone are a half dozen tablecloths (I don't even have tables that size anymore), assorted napkins, towels and 2 needlepoint (store-bought--not handmade) angel pillows. 
* Almost gone (and may be after this holiday season) is this huge, ceramic, gingerbread girl, hot drink dispenser that I've had for about 5 or 6 years that has never been used. I got it as a gift and thought it was really cool. After putting it in the "get rid of pile", I pulled it out to give it one more chance. If I don't use it this holiday season, it's gone. 

See there, my A.D.D. kicked in and side-tracked me from where I was going with this story.

As I'm decorating, I'm also washing everything so that it is all sparkly, shiny and clean for the season. I went to put a decorative plate on the bakers rack. When I moved something that had to be put away, I noticed some brown "drips" running down the wall. Looks like hot chocolate. Can't imagine when that happened as we don't usually drink hot chocolate. Oh, wait, I think the girls had some when they stayed with us a while back when Steph was out-of-town on business. How it got "sloshed" there I'll never know. Anyway, I went to the sink to get the dishcloth and decided that the water was dirty and cold. I emptied it and started a new sink. Then while that was filling, I decided that the dishcloth was pretty cruddy. Took that to the laundry room and thought, "well, I might as well start a load". Then I noticed that Margarita washed some jeans of Butch's, but folded them. He likes them "hung" (just like him---LOL), so I hung them up. Got back to the kitchen just in time to prevent the sink from overflowing. Poured myself a cup of tea. Remembered that I hadn't taken my medicine which requires food, which I hadn't had yet. Made myself a half a bagel and started eating it in bites here and there while unloading the dishwasher. When I'm working, I don't sit down and eat. Didn't like the Kenny G Christmas music that was playing, so I decided to take my iPod upstairs and put the 692 Christmas songs I have on it. Had to call Steph because with a recent software update, I didn't know how to do it. Left that to "sync" (side note---I never remembered to go back and get it for the rest of the day). Took my medicine that got caught in my throat because you can't really take a pill with hot liquid. It leaves a disgusting taste in my mouth too. Then I needed a kleenex. When I went into the bathroom to get one, I remembered about the stuff I have stored in the vanity. Got that out and decided to just go ahead and decorate the powder room. Went to the front porch for fresh greenery (I have the ladies that do the outside decorating cut extra for me). I noticed that one of my wreaths on the front door was higher than the other. Fixed it. Took the greenery inside and placed it in the powder room. Had to go to the laundry room cabinets to get the Christmas towels. Put the washed load in the dryer. Put out the fresh towels and admired my first "finished" room---even if it was a teeny one.  I remembered that I needed to get some things out of the library cabinets. As I was getting out my Murano Christmas trees, they were all sweaty---I don't know how or why that happens, but they are like that every year when I get them out. I stopped to wash them and set them to dry. I noticed the plate that I wanted to put on the baker's rack and then saw the hot chocolate drips. It was exactly  3 hours and 12 minutes from when I first went for the dishcloth. Story of my life!

What I've learned so far this holiday season:
*Dipping hand-painted ornaments in dishwater because they are dusty is not a good idea as the paint will run.
*Leaving Cremora in the cream container for a year turns into concrete---took 6 hours of soaking to get it all out.
*I'm burning the "good" candles---what the heck am I saving them for---that's why I have a kazillion.
*Artificial trees shed when they get old too.
*Spending 8 hours on hard wood floors in slippers makes my plantars fasciatis flare up.
*Although Christmas decorating is exhausting work, it sure does look good when it's done.
*Even though the decorating has only been done for a couple hours now, I'm totally dreading the "take-down"---which will be here before we know it.
*I can go 8 hours without going to the bathroom.
*When you discover that the pants you've been wearing all day are inside-out, you're so tired that you don't even give a s**t!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sandy's Baked Potato Soup

Sandy likes to use crock pot recipes since she's busy running kids around. This is a good one!

Sandy's Baked Potato Soup
6 lg. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 lg. onion, chopped
3 (14 oz) cans chicken broth with roasted garlic (or can use plain)
1/4 cup butter
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
3 Tbsp. chives
sour cream
bacon, cooked and crumbled
shredded cheddar

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in crock pot.
2. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
3. Mash mixture to slightly thicken. Stir in cream, cheese and chives.
4. Garnish with sour cream, bacon and additional cheese before serving.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Little Friendly Family Competition

When we are together, there is no shortage of games. I played a dvd version of Disney Bingo with the little girls yesterday. Elizabeth won. Today it was Pretty Pretty Princess---this time I won.

Then it was on to Wii bowling. We all played with Elizabeth and Victoria. Victoria is pretty darn good---doesn't even really try and still does well. After 2 games, the girls were done, so Butch and I took on Sandy and Greg. I haven't lost my bowling "touch". We beat them 2 out of 3 games, so they owe us 2 bucks. Did I mention that we don't play anything without a little cash riding on it.

I knew it was coming and the time has finally arrived. Mitchell can beat his grammy at ping pong. I can't say that I'm too happy about that as I've always taken pride in my ping pong skills! He beat me 2 games today. I played Sandy tonight and beat her 2 out of 3 games. We started another round before we were interrupted and each have one game. We'll finish it off tomorrow. I guess I'd be better if I played every day! Sandy says that they do play just about every day---and Mitchell plays with his friends all the time. The boys have also added an aspect that I guess only boys would think up. If you lose, you have to raise your shirt and let the winner "zap" you with the ping pong ball. The boys end up with welts on their backs. Fun, huh? Thank God Mitchell didn't ask me to raise my shirt! I have enough welts on my own with my hives---a zap from a ping pong ball would definitely set off an attack!

We did a little ski jumping on the Wii. After watching everybody several times, I jumped the furthest on my first jump. Butch was "bummed". He said, "no, way"! It's about speed and balance and as everyone knows, I do everything fast---and my balance isn't all that bad either. I might have done the best, but my baby toe paid for it! (Oh, and Mitchell's new bed is a killer. I nearly broke the other baby toe the first night!).

Butch and Greg are playing golf now. The Wii is pretty darn amazing. I don't understand how it knows exactly what you are doing. Like on the ski jumping, if you lose your balance, the skier "wobbles" too---exactly like you are. It's pretty funny. 

I may not have been on the treadmill since I've been here, but I'm definitely getting my exercise---which I need due to Sandy's cooking. She's a great cook and loves to try new recipes when we visit. I'll be coming home with a couple new ones. Greg also cooks. I consider them to be gourmet cooks. I cook pretty plain food (good, but plain and the same old things) while they do all kinds of things with marinades, stuffings, toppings, wine, spices, and sauces. I always look forward to the food.

You know how Butch loves everything about money---making it, saving it, finding it, winning it, etc. Well, we went to Steak and Shake for lunch. He didn't even know until it came time to pay that we were there during "happy hour" and all the shakes were half price. He said that had he known, he would have enjoyed his mocha shake even more! 

After lunch, we did a little geo-caching. It was pretty cloudy today, so the gps was bouncing all over the place. Still, we made several "finds". Nothing all that spectacular, but we did learn that Portage is the celery capitol of the world.

Saturday was a pretty, sunny day. Greg, Butch and the kids went geo-caching while Sandy and I went for manicures and a little Christmas shopping. We all got back about 3 p.m. For the next hour and a half, we watched Notre Dame football (a continuing disappointment for the fans), got dinner started (something to look forward to) and took naps (much needed after the late night). Around 4:30, The adults, plus Elizabeth went back out to find a couple more caches before dark. 

Sandy made crab legs for dinner. She relayed the story that Elizabeth brought the snack bag home for her class. She told Sandy that she wanted to bring crab legs! Sandy convinced her that fruit snacks and crackers would be more appropriate (and cheaper). That girl has expensive taste!

After dinner, the games continued---more Wii bowling, jarts, bean bag, darts, skee ball, hoops, horseshoes, ping pong, tinkertoys and books. It's 11 p.m. and I'm plum worn out! 

We plan to do another 7 or 8 caches tomorrow and breakfast before we leave for the airport. I'm so glad that Christmas is right around the corner. That makes it easier to leave knowing that we'll be together again very soon. We always have a good time at the Lapps' house. 

Next week, it 's pretty much nothing but work...but by this time next Saturday night, our house will be all decked out for Christmas. I dread it, but love it when it's done. At least I've gotten Butch to promise that he'll get out of the house so I can put on my Christmas music and have hours to myself to do the decorating.

Happy Thanksgiving to all....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Off Again!

Today I'm off to Kalamazoo---up at 4:30, out the door by 5:10. Everything goes pretty smoothly---until I get to the airport. Valet parked my car---my favorite "perk" for being married to a parking jock. Entered the terminal---can't find Northwest Airlines. Asked someone and found out that they merged with Delta. How was I supposed to know that when all my paperwork says Northwest? Oh, yeah, that's what I get for not reading the newspaper. 

Entered the "check-in" line---did everything the "machine" told me to do. Then, I wait---and wait---and wait for an attendant to put the tag on my bag. After about 5 minutes, a man walked over and asked what I was waiting for.  I told him that I needed my bag tagged and someone to check my i.d. He told me I was in the wrong line. Apparently I was in the "check-in" with "carry-on" line. Sheesh! So, I get out of that area and head down the pike to the "check-in with luggage" line. I entered the maze, followed it to a dead-end. Why are we programmed like rats---that we think we can't just go under the ropes? No, I turn around and follow the maze back out and go around to an open area. Finally get my bag checked. Still ticks me off to have to pay $20 bucks for a bag---their punishment? I brought a really big one and made it really heavy---just under the 50 lb. limit!

Heading through security there are so many choices these days---"expert traveler", "casual traveler", "families" and "employees and crew".  Luckily I'm a morning person---those that aren't might have a hard time thinking this early---not to mention making a decision. I decided to take the "casual traveler" line rather than the "expert traveler" line. Although I consider myself a pretty "expert traveler" these days, I know how it drives Butch crazy that people like me enter that line---you know, computer, coat, scarf, jewelry, shoes---yada, yada, yada,---lots to slow things down. It only took me about 4:45 minutes to "undress". Got through without a hitch, but I do hate walking on that dirty floor and then putting my feet back into my previously clean shoes. What happened to the slippers they used to have?

I do have a little problem that I didn't consider when I planned what I was wearing today. On Sunday morning, upon getting up, I stubbed my baby toe on the "decorative" bench at the end of the bed. I was pretty sure I had broken it. I put my tennis shoes on for the Titans game and didn't dare take them off. I knew I should probably ice it, but didn't have time/patience to mess with that. It throbbed most of the day---I just limped around. I didn't bother with the doctor---what could they do with a toe anyway. Part of my foot and baby toe turned black--- it's starting to get purplish yellow today---I know TMI! I'm still limping around, but it's not that bad. 

When I planned my outfit, of course, I picked out cute shoes. They are very comfortable. That's not the problem. I've worn these shoes all summer without socks. Well, it's cold in Michigan, so I knew I needed to wear something. I put on thin trouser socks so as not to take away from the "cute-ness" of my shoes. Not a problem until I reached Detroit. When I checked where my connecting flight was, the gate agent told me it was Concourse C (I had just arrived on the furthest gate on the A Concourse). She then said it was 2 miles away. 2 friggin' miles! Although I don't always come into this particular gate, I did know that it was quite a trek---just never realized it was actually that far. That's fine, it will be my exercise for the day as I didn't get on the treadmill this morning. 

I start limping down the way and taking those moving walkways whenever I can. Now I start to notice the problem. The trouser socks are slippery inside my cute shoes. I'm having to use my toes to grip the shoes to keep them from falling off. So now, I'm limping, gripping to keep the shoes on my feet and experiencing considerable pain. That's why, half-way, I stopped in a really nice resting area with couches. I've got my feet up and am updating my blog! Not a bad plan since I have a 2 1/2 hour layover! 

Flying really is for the birds!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Takin' it on the Road

I picked up the carpool today. I had RENT playing. It did my heart good to hear Jordan and Morgan singing along to every song! When the song "Will I Lose My Diginity" came on, we sang it in 3 rounds in perfect harmony. Of course to the carpool kids, I'm sure we looked like a bunch of "geeks". Still, I think we need to take this show on the road!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Random Ramblings

1. It's a well-known fact that I take a nap every day---if I'm home. I lay down for an hour---read 30 minutes, nap 30 minutes---pretty much the daily ratio. What changes is the time of day. I nap just whenever it best fits my schedule---could be anytime between 1 and 3 p.m. Doesn't matter, because whenever it is---the phone---which has been completely silent all day---will, inevitably ring! How that happens---everyday, I'll never know. I guess the "nap" gods are not on my side.

2. Another well-known fact is that I love my iced tea. I'm a purist about it too---preferring to brew my own from loose tea---and it has to be less than 24 hours old or it starts to taste "funky". Butch thinks I'm crazy, but believe me, I can tell! I discovered my favorite tea at our country club a number of years ago. I asked then what it was. It was not available in stores. About 2 years or so, ago, Mindy introduced me to Starbucks iced tea. I recognized it as the same as that served at Richland Country Club---and they sold it in boxes! I was thrilled. Then, for whatever reason, they quit selling it to the public. Sooooo, to make a long story short, I've been getting it on-line. The blind taste-test that I watched today on NPT elected "my" tea the winner! If you ever see it, you should give it a try---TAZO Iced Black Tea.

3. Along the lines of the phone and my naps---how is it that every time I'm working in the kitchen, Butch decides to make his coffee/lunch/snack---and just generally be in my way at every turn? I think it's his way of annoying me. Believe me, he doesn't have to try very hard!

4. I've discovered I'm not as flexible as I thought I was. I'm definitely a creature of routine. I never realized that I really don't like it when someone messes with that. Case-in-point: All of a sudden, (okay, for 3 weeks now) Butch has decided to get on the tread mill every morning. That's how I start my day. I get on anywhere between 5 and 6. The first day it happened, I was sort of lost. What to do? I was getting worked up. I calmed myself down---"it's okay, Barb, just do what you normally do AFTER you work out, BEFORE you work out." Determined to be flexible, I didn't complain or even mention how I was being inconvenienced by this sudden turn of events---until day 3. At breakfast, I announced, "okay, here's the deal---if you are not on the treadmill by 6 a.m., I'm taking it!" I've mostly been able to beat him to it and be done by 6 myself. Starting my day at 7 a.m. is just not acceptable. 

5. Who turns down free stuff? Talk about being a creature of routine, I go to the grocery store every Monday morning by 8 a.m. to take advantage of the 1 cent item. With a $10.00 purchase, you basically get something for a penny. I look over the ad, pull the appropriate coupons (part of my Monday morning routine after the tread mill) and head to the store. The store never seems to have the free items in the same place. When I find them, I always get 2 just to be nice to the person in front or back of me in the line at check-out. It's amazing how many people don't know about the free stuff. Well, last week, it was a jar of peanut butter. The lady behind me had about a 2 yr. old in the cart. I asked her if she'd gotten her free jar. She said, "no". I offered her my spare. She turned me down! I know we're taught not to take things from strangers---but come on---it's free peanut butter! Even if your child suffers from a severe peanut allergy, wouldn't you take the jar, and give it away? This gal was in no way related to Butch---he LOVES free stuff!

6. Last week, Mindy arrived on Thursday for the weekend---another wedding. To say she is frustrating is an understatement. The first time I saw her was on Thursday afternoon at 4-ish. Since it was my bridge day, Butch picked her up and they met Steph for lunch. When I saw Mindy, she had been shopping because she needed shoes for the wedding. OMG! I nearly lost it! How could she have waited until the last minute? Plus, now it's after 4 and  she still didn't have shoes. She was planning to take a nap before her 6 p.m. hair appointment, then meeting a friend for dinner and off to meet up with the wedding party at a bar. She said she'd go in the morning and find shoes. I freaked. "Mindy, you have the bridesmaids luncheon at 11, nails and pedicure after and rehearsal starting at 4:30---just when do you have time to get shoes?" With that, she said, "okay, I'll run to Dillard's before my hair appointment. I found a pair, but don't really like them,  they're $90.00 and I will never wear them again." Ahem, guess who's paying? I told her to get the shoes "just in case" and then be ready by 9:45 a.m. and we'd run to Stein Mart. Luckily for me, she found a cute pair there that she actually liked and they were 32 bucks! Then she remembered that she needed hose for her rehearsal dinner dress. That girl. Such a procrastinator---just like her dad. Makes me a nervous wreck. Yet she always manages to pull it off and look cute to boot.

7. Another Mindy-ism.  She told me that she has "overdrawn" her vacation by 2 days. I asked her how that happened. She said, "well, I was told that I got a week's vacation after a year. I thought that meant 7 days. How was I to know that a week was only 5 days?" Such a naive baby in the work world! In her defense, I guess that is pretty confusing. By age 3 you've learned the 7 days of the week song.

8. Today, we went geo-caching---just Butch and I. We hit a "first to find" which is pretty exciting---and rare. That means you were the very first to find that particular cache. Turns out, this cache is one in a series of 8 that is part of a school project for the 5th grade class at St. Bernard's Academy. The travel bug is attached to a bear named Peaches. Right away, it reminded me of Mindy's class bear project years ago. I was so excited to be involved with this one. Their goal for Peaches is to attend a Jonas Brothers concert, see a Yankees game and finally see a Coldplay concert before returning home. I had just bought a Jonas Brothers "hoodie" for Victoria's doll as a Christmas gift. I decided that if it fit Peaches, I'd send it along with her. It was too big, but I took a picture that we'll post for the class to see. We're also taking her to the Titan's game tomorrow and will post those pictures too. Then, we'll drop her off in Kalamazoo next weekend when we visit Sandy and family.

We hiked to the top of Shy's Hill to find another. Butch had been there last winter, but couldn't find it. This is not an exaggeration when I say that the hike was a quarter mile UP the hill---Butch verified that. This is the exact thing I love about this hobby---you learn so much. I had no idea that this historical sight was here. Shy's Hill was part of the Battle of Nashville. Once we got to the top, you can see for miles---all the way downtown too. Since I was one of those kids in school who didn't understand why we had to learn this "old junk", I enjoy reading the information and learning stuff. Plus, Butch is a Civil War "buff", so he enjoys educating me too. Beautiful weather---a fun couple hours. Since January, Butch has found 232 caches around the world (I can say that since he found 5 all over Scotland when we were there in June---and even got our driver interested). It makes me really happy that he's found something else to be passionate about. I don't think you can have too many hobbies! 

Oh and another thing, I love it how he leads the way through "the briars and the brambles and the bushes where the rabbits wouldn't go"---oops, got caught up in the song---so that I don't get zapped by spider webs, bugs or thorns. It still doesn't prevent those dang, little, triangle, sticky things from getting all over my clothes.

9. Are you tired of reading yet? One last thing and then a recipe. A few weeks ago, we switched our home phone service to bundle with our tv and internet. We discovered today that when the phone rings, the caller shows up on the tv! How cool is that? Of course you have to have the tv on to see it! I guess that's why I didn't know it.

10. Friday night Butch's poker group was here. I made a new recipe. Butch said he thought it was just "okay", but I had it for lunch today and thought it was great---and so easy. Try it and see what you think.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

4 cups cooked and shredded chicken (I used all white meat)
1/2 bottle of hot sauce for chicken wings (NOT the same as Tabasco---I used Frank's for wings-- it wasn't too hot---the guys added tobasco to spice it up more)

Place in pan and heat through---or can be put in the crock pot.

6 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup blue cheese

Mix and chill.
Serve chicken on buns topped with dressing as desired.

The recipe called for cheddar cheese to put on the sandwiches too, but I had it just with the dressing and loved it. Maybe the cheese is what made Butch think it wasn't all that great. 

Do let me know if you liked it.

Done rambling now....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

CMA Rundown

Well, the CMA's were fabulous again! I love Taylor Swift and she looked fabulous in those tight leather/vinyl pants. I didn't think she sang her first song very well. Of course, the acoustics are pretty bad at the Sommet Center. Still, she hauled in the awards. I'm glad that Conye West wasn't there to steal her glory. Entertainer of the Year at 19---amazing!

I loved all the songs that Brad and Carrie did together. Also loved Darius Rucker's song. 

Lady Antebellum sure got  some big awards for their first time---single of the year and group of the year.

I love Sugarland and was happy to see them get duo of the year. Still, it would have been nice for Brooks and Dunn to win it one last time. I'm still sick that they are "breaking up"!

Kris Kristofferson was totally drunk!

I'm still in love with Kenny even if he was off-key and even if he didn't win anything tonight. He's had his fair share of Entertainer of the Year awards. I liked the duet with Dave Matthews, but he sounded off-key too. Got to be the venue as too many stars seemed off-key tonight.

Faith Hill should have fixed her hair. I was disappointed that she didn't sing. 

And yes, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley were awesome as co-hosts!

I think I'm going to go next year. Surely Butch knows someone we can get tickets from! At least we'll have the parking taken care of....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Butch Doesn't Talk Much...

...but he's still a blabbermouth! Here's the story:

Butch was talking to Elizabeth on the phone. She said, "my daddy's coming to Nashville." Butch said, "yes, I know, he's staying at my house." To which she responded with consternation, "no, he's not! He's staying at Grammy's!" The girl knows whose house it really is! Seriously, I'm thinking she may not realize that Butch actually lives here.

Greg came into Nashville for a job interview. I'm trying really hard not to get my hopes up. I hadn't told anyone so as not to "jinx" the possibility. Turns out, Butch blabbed to his golf buddies who in turn told their wives, who told other friends, and so on---you get the picture. It was our turn to host the Titans tailgate today---there were 16 of us. I made 2 appetizers, sloppy joes and a pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting for dessert. Ooops,  got side-tracked by food! 

Anyway, just about every time I turned around, someone asked me if Greg had heard anything. This is all I know---the interview went extremely well. Again, I'm trying not to get my hopes up because there are too many things that would have to fall into place to make this really work. But it sure would make me happy!

I'm really okay with Butch being a blabbermouth as long as he keeps taking care of me at the Titan's games. He remembers everything. He brings a little radio for me and a special Titan's cup for my bloody mary. He did all the clean-up while I was busy socializing. I think he was on a "high" from winning a few games of washers. Gotta' love that guy!

PS 30-17  over Jacksonville---Go Titans! And with that, Connie has already lost her 5 bucks in the pool!