I’ve Entered the Twilight Zone

TwilightI love plants. I add to my flowerbeds every spring and fall. My hostas are the envy of the neighborhood. So I never mind a little rain. I even appreciate it as I can leave the bulky water hose in the garage. But, this is verging on Forks rain – Forks, WA that is. Or is it?

The average rainfall for New Albany, IN is less than 4 inches for June, but there’s more than that in my basement. And overall, New Albany, IN gets plenty of rain. The least rainy month on average is in October with a mere 2.7 inches falling. But our yearly average is 43.6 inches of umbrella-ella-ella-ella toting weather. That’s a lot of flowers watered and puddles to jump in.

Forks, WA averages 59.38 inches of rain hitting the ground every year. That’s 15.78 inches more than New Albany, IN. A respectable amount (and more than us for the year) but the bulk of it comes in November through January with little precipitation through spring and summer months.

Just look at the averages over the past few years for Forks, WA for the month of June:Forks, WA

June ’08 – 3.50

June ’07 – 5.49

June ’06 – 3.12

June ’05 – 3.16

June ’04 – 3.02

June ’03 – 1.43

June ’02 – 4.67

June ’01 – 3.62

June ’00 – 5.20.

Very few times do they exceed New Albany, IN rainfall during this month. Only Fife, WA actually has more rain in June than New Albany, IN. No other city or town in Washington represented has more rain than us. I say all this as a warning. Are there vampires here? Do they summer in New Albany, IN?

Swing Music for Art That Swings

Swing Music Workspace

From June 1 through August 1, my Swing Music Louisville Slugger will go on display at the newly renovated Louisville Slugger Museum. The decorated bats are a collaboration between Louisville Slugger and The Arts Council of Southern Indiana to support the work of the Arts Council which serves students, artists, educators, schools, libraries and non-profit organizations in six counties in Southern Indiana.

The idea for Swing Music arrived unannounced while I was thumbing through some sheet music for my project. I saw the song title, It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing), and realized that was the song my Slugger needed. It was meant to be.

Swing Music In ProcessAfter a great deal of procrastination in getting started, I finally began on a Monday afternoon. Collage is not necessarily a difficult medium to work with. There’s an abundance of materials to choose from (like sheet music), the tools are simple enough, and it’s really quite fun. It’s also quite messy. I decided to burn the edges of small torn sections from the sheet music to give it a better contrast. Then I used a decoupage medium to affix each piece in an aesthetically pleasing location on the bat. Piece by piece a design from sheet music, charred edges, and lyrics builds around the original logos of the Louisville Slugger.

swing-music-knob-handleswing-music-barrelSwing Music Barrel Song TitleSwing Music Barrel LogoUpon completion, unsurprisingly the same day delivery to the Arts Council was required, I rushed downtown to introduce my Slugger to all the others soon to join in the exhibit.

If you plan to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum to see Swing Music in person, please remember to vote for your favorite bat. There will be approximately 40 bats on display by local artists in a wide range of mediums and styles.

The Louisville Slugger Museum is located at 800 West Main St., Louisville, KY. Their hours are Monday through Saturday, 9am – 5pm and Sunday, noon – 5pm. Admission is $10 for adults (13-59), $9 for seniors (60+), $5 for kids (6-12), and kids 5 and younger are free. Check their Visitor’s Guide for additional information.

A special Art That Swings celebration will be held on August 1. There will be an opportunity to meet the artists and recognize the creators of the three most popular bats (decided by votes). Be on hand to watch event sponsors draw for their favorite bat. Experience ball park food, a cash bar, and cracker jack boxes with chances to win valuable prizes. More information can be found at The Arts Council of Southern Indiana.

Don’t forget – if you really like Swing Music, be sure and vote for it. Just maybe, my little Slugger will hit one out of the park.

Sa-wing, batter, batter…

Art That Swings

My friend and mentor, artistically speaking, suggested I participate in an art event that has turned out to be really exciting. The event is a collaboration between The Arts Council of Southern Indiana and the newly-renovated Louisville Slugger Museum. Just a side thought – did they use a baseball bat to prepare for renovation?

The event, Art That Swings, offers local artists the opportunity to decorate, however they see fit, one Louisville Slugger baseball bat. How cool is that?

I picked up my bat at the Arts Council offices on Market Street in New Albany. My only instructions were, “Nothing vulgar.” Since my original idea was now off the table, I chose to cover nearly the entire bat with torn and burned sheet music which I acquired at Jimmy’s Music Center in New Albany. They ordered exactly the music I wanted since it needed to include a specific song – If It Ain’t Got That Swing. You know the song, “It don’t mean a thing… if it ain’t got that swing…” I titled my musically enhanced Slugger, Swing Music. Clever, huh?

I recently attended a photo shoot at Jean Schettler’s studio. Several artists brought their partially completed bats to take part in the shoot. We staged working on our projects and pictures were taken. These images will be used in publications and advertising venues for the event.

I completed my bat last Friday and turned it in to the Arts Council. Beginning June 1st, Swing Music, along with other bats from other artists, will be on display at the Louisville Slugger Museum where visitors can vote for their favorite. Event sponsors can receive one of the artistic bats along with other benefits. On August 1st, a special Art That Swings Fundraising Event will be held where attendees can meet the artists.

Animal Marshmallows

600699661027Recently I was researching cheeses to see if we, as vegetarians, could still indulge in Pizza King. We can, by the way, as explained in an earlier post. But, in my search I ran across something disturbing. Gelatin is in many foods unbeknownst to consumers. I guess it would be knownst if you could interpret the ingredient lists on packages and if you could actually read it without artificial magnification. However, in this particular case, I am at fault. I believed I knew what was in marshmallows. It’s just sugar in another shape, isn’t it?

Well it’s more than sugar. According to the package, it contains: Corn Syrup, Sugar, Dextrose, Modified Corn Starch, Water, Gelatin*, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate (Whipping Aid), Artificial Flavor, Artificial Color (Blue 1).

So what’s the big deal about gelatin? Gelatin is extracted from the collagen inside an animals’ skin and bones, therefore making it a non-vegetarian food additive. You can’t get something from an animals bones while it’s alive.

reading_glass_1I stumbled upon this infuriating information at Almost Vegetarian, a website created by another human trying to go vegetarian in a “don’t ask, don’t tell AND don’t assume” food environment. Gelatin isn’t just in your favorite hot cocoa accompaniment either. It’s also in some ice creams, sour creams, cottage cheeses, yogurts and frostings to name a few. So check those ingredient lists carefully and don’t be afraid to put on your reading glasses. Better to admit your eyes aren’t as young as they once were than to eat animal parts you didn’t even know about.

*Bolded for emphasis

In Search of Vegetarian Cheese

baby_cowOne of the things I’ve noticed since joining my daughter in being vegetarian is the complete lack of good, consistent information on ingredients in cheese. Some cheeses are vegetarian, but since it only lists “enzymes” in the ingredients, you can’t trust it. Better safe than kill a baby cow.

Enzymes, for those who don’t know, can come from the lining of calves and pigs stomachs or from non-animal sources. Non-animal sources have become popular of late, not because of vegetarians, but because they are cheaper to use. Enzymes are the catalyst for creating cheese. They are in your cheese regardless of type in some form or another. But cheese makers don’t bother to let us vegetarians know for sure, so every time you want something particular, you have to begin another search.

If that wasn’t confusing and difficult enough, what about eating out? When you go out for pizza, how do you know what’s in that cheese? Unfortunately, you have to research each pizza restaurant individually. You might find information on the web from others who have found out, but you have to check how old that information is. You can contact the headquarters of your favorite pizza delivery place, but sometimes even they don’t know.

kingmeRecently, my husband asked me to find out if the cheese at our local Pizza King is okay for vegetarians. We have always loved their pizza. Well, there is nothing on their website regarding this topic and when I contacted the headquarters, the person I talked to sheepishly admitted he didn’t know. I asked him for his supplier and if that supplier supplied all Pizza Kings. Then I began searching for information on their cheese supplier, Frigo. I found them on my list of vegetarian cheeses by brand name and will be enjoying a large cheese pizza on our next family dinner out at my local Pizza King. WooHoo!

FYI – Horizon is a great brand since all their cheeses are vegetarian and organic. You can find them at Kroger. I don’t usually shop at Kroger, but I go there specifically to get cheese. A great place to check whether your cheese is vegetarian or not is at Vegetarian Cheese List – where I found my Frigo cheese from Pizza King. You can look up your cheese by brand or type. You can even sign up for updates if anything changes in the cheese world.

Hope this helps anyone out there trying to get a slice of pizza without unknowingly eating cow parts.

BTW – marshmallows (of all things) are not vegetarian. Ahhhhhh! I could just scream. More on this later.

Good to the First Cup Update…

About a week ago, my husband went with me to purchase my Keurig B70 Platinum Single-Serve Coffee Brewer. It’s my Christmas present, but I wanted it before my family came over for a Christmas party at our house. You know – so I could show off. We purchased it at Bed, Bath & Beyond since we had a 20% off coupon that saved us $40.

Once home with my prize, my husband unpacked it for me. I had him do this in case I hated it and wanted to return it. He has better memory than the 2GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM in my Mac. Yeah, I had to look that up. What that means is, he can easily remember how it was packed and return it to it’s pristine packing condition. I would have to wrap it in an old dishtowel, shove it in the box, force the lid as closed as I could get it, and tape the whole thing up leaving it looking like it had been handled and delivered by those apes who test luggage.

I still enjoy that video. Now, on to installation…

Once out of the box, you place your machine where you would like it to live on your counter. You’ll first notice how heavy it is. Not super heavy, but heavy enough to make you feel you purchased quality. You then remove the water tank and rinse it (don’t wash – rinse) with cold water. Fill up the tank and return it to where it belongs. You place a mug in position (do not add a K-cup at this time) and select a priming sequence which runs water into the heating area and deposits a quantity of steaming hot water into your mug. Throw this water away. This water is used to sterilize your machine.

You are now ready to begin brewing coffee, tea or hot cocoa to your hearts content. Easy, huh?

Using the Keurig (I named mine Brew•C – sounds like Bruce) is just as easy. Place a mug in position, select your K-cup and insert by lifting the lever. You can even remove the drip tray for those taller mugs like my Starbucks one seen below. That’s a really nice feature since I’ve found most of the K-cups to be quite strong and I brew mine on the largest mug setting. So far, I like the Newman’s Own Fair Trade Organic Extra Bold – which is stronger on purpose and needs the larger setting for my taste. I also really like the Caribou Coffee Daybreak Morning Blend which is a lighter selection and can be brewed on smaller settings.

I’ve read at some coffee blogs that you can use a K-cup more than once. I gave that a try since the Newman’s Own Extra Bold is too strong for me the first time through. I find it’s much tastier when running it through a second time. This is great if you aren’t extremely particular about your coffee being exactly the same cup after cup. Which I’m not. One of the reasons I loved the idea of a single-serve coffee brewer is to more easily enjoy variety whenever I feel like it. If my first cup is a little strong and my second is a little weak, that’s okay with me. Another idea I read online and loved is to run your extra bold K-cup through twice on a medium setting to fill your travel mug before heading out into rush hour traffic.

Since I had my brewer in time for my family arriving, it was fun to show it off and get everyone’s reaction. My family is comprised of heavy coffee drinkers, but not coffee snobs. Everyone loved the ease of use and were fascinated at how simple the design was. Each person tried a different coffee with most of them agreeing the Newman’s had great flavor but was a bit strong. It is an extra bold after all. They were also impressed with the idea of easily grabbing a cup of coffee and then making a cup of tea if that’s what they wanted next. I have one sister who drinks more tea than coffee and she loved that flexibility. All in all, it was a big hit. The talk of the party. Brew•C won’t let it go to his head.

One final great feature – instant hot water. Let’s say your want to brew some tea using a tea bag. Just pop your tea bag into your mug and you can get hot water from your brewer. Or maybe you want cocoa, but you’re out of your cocoa K-cups. Just rip open the old-fashioned pouch cocoa of your choice and add hot water. It can also be used for cups of soup. Yum.

Final thoughts: This Keurig brewer rocks! I absolutely love it.

What’s a Blog?

Tonight I went to Crit Club. That’s short for Critique Club. It’s an art club where each artist brings in a sample of their work and a guest artist will provide critique. I went as a guest speaker, not critiquer. I had the opportunity to speak to the artists about websites. Since I have created websites for several individuals and businesses, I was considered an authority. Strange what goes for “expert” these days, huh?

I gave the usual spiel about types of websites, especially talking up WordPress as a good option for artists since they can make updates themselves. I also mentioned how it’s great for users who blog. This comment brought up more questions than anything else I talked about. They asked what it was, how it was done, why you would want to, how would it benefit their site, how would it create more traffic to their site…on and on. I really struck a nerve. They were really excited about the possibilities blogging could bring to them and their potential website. So, prepare yourself, world. A new batch of bloggers are on the horizon.

Bling Your Brew

Now this is some expensive caffeine. Next time you’re thinking $5 is way too much to spend at Starbucks, check out this dazzling duo offered by Nespresso in their Crystal Collection.

Those are Swarovski crystals encrusting the sides of these cool little single-serve coffee brewers.

These are a limited edition of only 30 and they aren’t currently available in the US or on ebay. Yeah, I checked. If you really want one (and who doesn’t?), you’ll have to find a Swiss boutique near you.

Someone, please tell me, how is this gonna look next to my Bullet?

Good to the First Cup, and the Last Cup, and Every One in Between


I’ve been researching several new coffee makers in anticipation of switching from the common drip brew thermal carafe I currently own to one of the increasingly popular single-serve brewers. I was shocked at how many are out there. This is a burgeoning market.

Naturally, when considering a purchase like this, you want to do your research but finding consistently reliable feedback and reviews can be daunting. So check out this great website – Single Serve Coffee. They have reviews on a wide variety of topics – single-serve brewers, K-cups, pods, hacking your brewer… yes, I said hacking your brewer. Lots of great reading material to digest while having your favorite brew.

And in case your wondering (and who wouldn’t?) I will very likely purchase the Keurig B70 Platinum model for myself. I’ll let you know…

Why would I choose this brewer? It has a generous 60 ounce tank – but so do some of the others. It uses proprietary coffee (K-cups) – like most other brewers (i.e. T-discs, pods, etc.). But this brewer comes with a reusable My K-cup for your own ground coffee and I’ve even seen ways to use pods from other companies in your Keurig brewer. The main reason I would choose this brewer over the many other formidable offerings is for the immense variety of coffee available – several hundred choices. And then there is tea and cocoa too! No other brand of brewer I’ve looked at so far can even come close. I also feel more confident that my purchase will only improve in variety in the future because the Keurig is a popular choice for hotels, offices and other businesses making it a more sustainable brand.

The big drawback – the ecological footprint. Single-serve coffee is having it’s effect on the environment. Some more than others. K-cups, which are used for my chosen machine, are particularly hard to recycle. They have a foil top (recyclable) with a filter (bio-degradable) insert which holds the coffee inside a plastic “cup” (recyclable). The problem is that you have to disect the little bugger to recycle it’s parts.

I’m Trippin’

August 20th was a day like any other. The girls were in school, the husband off to a client’s, my fave songs on my iPod – I was ready to tackle the grueling daily mission that is the bane of a woman’s existance – housework.

After plugging in my tunes, I bounced down the stairs like an energetic twenty-something (which I’m not). As I placed my right foot to the foyer floor I turned my ankle at an unnatural angle. After a Kelly-Clarkson-esque scream, I hopped to the nearest chair. Luckily my iPod is my iPhone (thank you Apple) and I was able to call my husband. He said he was at least 30 minutes away, so I called a friend who’s closer.

I could already feel swelling and removed my shoe. I realized my toe ring was going to be a problem, but it’s a really thick Celtic silver band – not easily opened for removal. I rummaged through the table next to my chair and found a paperclip which I used to get under the edge of my ring and wrench it open enough to free it from my already puffy toe.

My girlfriend, Rose, arrived swiftly and she enlisted a neighbor’s help to get me to her SUV. A hurried trip to the emergency room and I was whisked in efficiently via wheelchair. Everyone was kind and professional, but I gotta say, when you’re hurting, everything takes way too long.

My husband arrived before admittance was complete and my friend took off to return to work. I was eventually wheeled back to a room and people came in and out with little actual interaction with me. My husband surfed his iPhone.

At one point, pre-opium-based drugs, I was taken back and received six x-rays. Back at my room I did get that opium-based pill and an ice pack. A doctor came in finally and gave me the great news – a bad sprain and some arthritis. He said I’d be on my foot in no time and walking normally in a week or so. He didn’t even introduce himself.

Once home, my husband got me situated in bed and ran out to get more of those opium-based medications I love so well. Fast forward…

Two months passed and I still couldn’t walk without great pain and difficulty. I arranged an appointment with my osteo guy, Stan Schooler. He previously diagnosed the osteo-arthritis in my knees and arranged a therapy program to improve my range of motion.

Stan had x-rays done as well and thought he saw a fracture. To be certain, he ordered an MRI. I’d never had one before, but I watch a lot of House, so I thought it sounded exciting. In reality, it’s kind of dull and noisy.

The MRI did give some great images and Dr. Schooler let me know I had five fractures and edema. Edema is fluid trapped in the body’s tissues and mine was around the fractured bones. I’ve been trying to walk on a broken foot. Great!

He had me fitted for a cam boot. It’s one of those Franken-Stormtrooper looking things that goes all the way to the knee. I’ll be sporting this style for a minimum of two months.

Hide All Jesus Freak Shirts and SUVs

I’ve been seeing this a lot. If something offends someone, the person offended wants the other person to cease. So whose rights are being violated here? The person offended by another’s actions? Or the person minding their own business, living their life, but a life that doesn’t “fit” someone else’s view of correct? Why does my life offend anyone? If I choose to eat organic, and it offends you, I shouldn’t have to hide by Horizon single-serve strawberry milk. Why does my milk have anything to do with you?!

Why don’t people just quit taking everything they see personally? Of course, if I come up and insist that you should only drink organic milk too, then you have every reason to be offended. You also have every reason to tell me to get lost. Politely of course, no reason to be offensive.

So, if I’m going down the street drinking my organic strawberry milk, twirling my natural hemp necklace and wearing my faded Jesus Freak t-shirt, why does it bother you? I may not like it when you toss your cigarette butt onto the streets in my neighborhood, buy Big Gulps in styrofoam that won’t degrade for at least 100 years and drive a 5 MPG Hummer, but I don’t insist that you hide it because I’m offended. No. I would rather live my life as an example to others and quietly work toward those things that matter to me. I can’t make them matter to you. But, if you see me in the store with my re-usable clothe grocery bag and you ask me what’s wrong with paper or plastic, I’ll tell you – politely of course.

NOTE: The Hummer in the picture is only green superficially speaking.

Elvis Uses My Dry Cleaner

Running errands the other day, I stopped by to pick up my dry cleaning. As I’m paying I notice a jumpsuit hanging alone in the back of the store. Perhaps it was being prepared for the process or maybe it was just finished and not bagged yet. Who knows? The one thing I do know, it was covered in bright stones and glittery beads around the shoulders, cuffs and pant legs. The suit was snowy white and had a high collar that stood up without the need of starch.

I joked with the sales lady, “I see Elvis comes here too.” She smiled but didn’t respond. Hmmmm. Is she hiding something?

Nothing Says “Spring” Like an Open Flame

The weather this year has been crazy. You will be in shorts one day and shoveling your driveway the next. But when I got home from gymnastics class with the girls last Thursday, I couldn’t believe how nice the weather was. I announced, “I’m grilling out!” to cheers from both girls. I had to spend a few minutes sprucing up Bruce All Meaty (my grill)

for a new season. But, in no time I had corn on the side burner, broccoli in a foil pouch to steam, and cheesy grillers making those seducing sizzle sounds when the juice drips to the pan below. Mmmmmmm, tasty.

Unfortunately it is still way too cold to eat outside. We shivered while gulping down our meal before it got cold.

Pogo A No-No

Today, the sun was out, the air was warm and me, Allyson & Sierra were sitting out on the front porch. I decided to sweep out the garage and tidy up the accumulations from winter. I was putting things in bags to go to Goodwill and wiping down months of dust from the recycle bins. Allyson pulled the toys, scooters, hula hoops and other assorted items away from the wall so I could sweep out the winter doldrums.

Once the floor was free of debris, I began putting things back in an orderly fashion. When I picked up the pogo stick, for some unexplainable reason, I decided to give it a try. One foot on the right side, hop, one foot on the left side, fall.

Yep, great big thud. I hit the concrete driveway on my right knee and took a pretty hard jolt to both wrists and elbows. The girls freaked. I was able to get myself up and into the house. I sat in my glider and put my feet up while Allyson and Sierra grabbed bags of ice for the assorted areas that hurt the most.

So let’s rehash the events. Feeling good; little work; big mistake; feeling rotten.

Guilt Trips – How to Buy a Doll

I realize your immediate reaction is going to be, “What does buying a doll have to do with traveling?” Just keep reading and it will all become clear.

A couple of months ago, my niece, Sierra, became enamored of a particular American Girl doll. This doll, Nicki, was special because she, like Sierra, was very fond of animals. Nicki even worked with seeing eye dogs. Sierra wants to become a veterinarian one day so naturally she felt a special kinship with this doll. A doll only available for a short time. Insert foreboding music here.

A plan was devised, probably by my daughter, Allyson. The girls set to doing extra chores and pooling all their money. I was actually quite proud of them. Not only were they working hard, they were working together. It was a very unselfish act for Allyson, something she is not entirely apt to do when it comes to money.

This past Monday, I decide they were getting close enough to the total needed that I should probably go ahead and order the doll. I go online to the American Girl website. Here’s what I found:

Ahhh… yes. Isn’t it great when we can teach young ones how hard work and unselfish sacrifice leads to absolutely nothing.

Anytime I want something I can get no where else, I check eBay, the world’s largest yard sale. The Nicki doll, normally $87 from American Girl, is being sold for over $200 on eBay. I’m torn between hate for the obvious vultures and the realization that not thinking of these kinds of things first is the reason I’m not rich. Naturally, I go crying to my husband, Rob. Not a great time to be the guy. But, he’s a calm sort and very patient with my emotional roller coaster personality. He says he will do whatever is necessary – even paying the exorbitant price people are trying to get on eBay for the now unavailable doll. What a great guy!

Later, it occurs to me that they might still have some in one of the three American Girl Place stores. I call. A very polite (especially for Christmas time) customer service rep informed me that they have 800 Nicki dolls in the Chicago store (the nearest one to us), but because of the limited availability, they do not take orders over the phone or put dolls on hold. I live five hours from Chicago. It’s already too late to leave and get to the store before they close.

I tell my husband all this, and believe it or not, he agrees to rush to Chicago first thing the following morning. I call later that evening after the Chicago store has closed to see how many dolls are still on the shelves. The customer service rep answered the phone very politely – more polite than most customer service people anywhere, anytime. I asked, “Will you tell me if you have any Nicki dolls still available in the Chicago store?” He replies, “No.” I snicker and ask, “‘No’, you won’t tell me or ‘No’ there aren’t any?” Can you guess the answer?

The following morning, the girls mention that they are so very close to having all the money they need. I have no choice but tell them. Days away from Christmas, I break the hearts of some hard-working, hopeful girls.

I’m heartbroken myself. It seems as though time has been against me. I berate myself that I didn’t call one day sooner. I nag myself in silence that I should have called earlier yesterday and we would have had time to rush up to Chicago before they closed. Then, breaking through the guilt and remorse, comes this still, small voice. My husband says, “Call again. There could have been a mistake.”

Again, I get in contact with a very polite customer service representative for American Girl. Where do they find such nice people? This ones tells me there are still several hundred dolls in the Chicago store. To assuage my obvious, and rightly-so, skepticism, she calls the store directly while I hold. Yes! They have 600 dolls on the shelves.

We drop everything! It looks like a Three Stooges rerun of scampering children, barking dog and rushing grown-ups. We literally hurl ourselves in our car and peel out of suburbia heading for Chicago at light speed. Two stress-weary adults, two children once again believing in Christmas miracles, and one dog, who would go anywhere just to be going bye-bye.

Since the trip was unplanned, we grab some cash at the local ATM and lunch at the local McDs, to be eaten in the car, before hitting the main interstate out of southern Indiana. It’s a five hour trip to Chicago from where we live. We already know without having to consult Google Maps since we’ve made this homage to all things American Girl before.

The trip through southern Indiana is uneventful. We pass through places like Tanger Factory Outlet at Seymour and the nicer one at Edinburgh. Yes, I said it – Edinburgh is nicer. No stopping for shopping this trip. We’re on a tight schedule. The girls thought fast and grabbed faster preparing themselves with GameBoys and iPods for the trip. These things kept them fairly content. Rob and I always take advantage of long car rides to catch up on all the things life doesn’t leave us time to discuss – like the big house I want to build one day. So, all in all, the trip up was nice with the exception of all the rain.

During the drive from the southern-most tip of Indiana to the Great Lakes region, we watched the temperature outside drop from a “long-sleeves” 58 degrees to a “frost-bite on the dog’s ears” 34 degrees. By the time we passed the last Starbucks before, what we call, No-Starbucks Land, I feared freezing rain. None came, though, and we arrived in Chicago safe and sound around rush hour. I realize that could be an oxymoron. No one is safe in Chicago at rush hour, but it really isn’t that bad. Quick navigation through downtown to the Magnificent Mile and Rob is dropping us door-side in front of American Girl Place. The girls and I rushed in, dog in tow in her bag, to escape the rain and the temperatures. Rob drove on to find a parking garage and make the trek back to meet us. Not a great time to be the guy.

The girls knew, instinctively, where to go to find the much-anticipated Nicki doll. At first glance, there were none on the shelves. I’m still coming up the escalator, so I point to an American Girl associate. The girls descend on her like ravenous wolves at Texas Roadhouse. She delivers. And pleasantly. Where do they find these people?

So, we have the doll. Now what? Rob hasn’t even made it back to the store from parking the car. To the girls delight, we look around. I even buy a couple things. Of course. No sooner than Rob arrives, we’re ready to check out. He turns right around and walks 6 blocks back to get the car from the garage he only moments before paid $12 to park in. Not a great time to be the guy.

He calls when he’s in front of the store so we can rush out through the rain and cold with minimum exposure. All safely, and warmly, and slightly more snugly tucked into the car, we head for home.

Courtesy – It’s Not Common At All

This past weekend, a very sad thing occurred. My husband’s grandmother died. Now, she’d had a great life and certainly great family. She was not young, although no one really knew her exact age, so it wasn’t a surprise. But, what was surprising and also sad was the things that happened that day on the way from the funeral home to the church.

My husband and I got in our car with our 2 daughters. We were told to keep our headlights on, run our emergency lights and proceed through intersections with caution, but to keep going just the same. Oh, and we had that “drive as you please” pass on our car top – the funeral flag.

We left the funeral home without incident. But, the first intersection we came to was a disaster. Several cars injected themselves into our procession. The one who cut in front of us proceeded to stop at the next red light directly cutting us off from the procession. Now, in defense of the thoughtless young men in front of us – they didn’t have the “drive as you please” funeral flag on their car, so they had to stop at the red light.

We were stuck there behind their aging red car through 3 straight-ways, 2 left turn signals, and 1 long rant by my husband. Our procession drove out of sight. We didn’t know where the church was. There was one vehicle behind us from our procession, so we pulled over as soon as it was safe to see if they knew the way to the church. They did.

To wrap things up, we made it on time and all was well. But, I really wonder where common courtesy has gone. It was a funeral procession. What could possibly be more important in the lives of those guys than was in the death of a great lady who deserved respect even to her entourage?


My daughters and I signed up for a birdwatching expedition with some avid birders from our church. A birder is anyone who loves watching birds, whether searching the world for one more sighting to add to their collection, or from feeders in their own back yard. 

We aren’t actually what a person might think of as birders. Sure, we like birds. We watch some locals hawks. Yeah, mostly because we fear they’ll swoop down and snatch up our little dog. But, we do like birds as much as the next person. We signed up, however, because we home school and are currently studying birds. 

So, we prepare by looking up some of the birds we might see on our outing. We read about whooping cranes and sandhill cranes. We packed snacks and charged the camera. We bundled up expecting to be outdoors walking through the woods and crouching in small shrubs to await the sighting of the next winged miracle. We spent most of our time in a van.

Not that it was a bad thing. It was relaxing and easy. We traveled to Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Indiana.

Who Knew Baking a Potato in the Microwave Took 3 Hours!

Microwave Baked Potato Recipe

Step 1: Clean potato with water and scrub brush. (30 sec.) 
Step 2: Poke holes in the potato with a fork. (30 sec.)
Step 3: Place the potato in the microwave on top of a folded paper towel. (1 min.)
Step 4: Cook on High for 8 minutes. (8 min.)
Step 5: When paper towel spontaneously combusts, open door and blow on flames. (30 sec.)
Step 6: Run for fire extinguisher. (30 sec.)
Step 7: Blast flaming potato with entire contents of fire extinguisher. (30 sec.)
Step 8: Stare in disbelief. (30 sec.)
Step 9: Open every window in the house. (10 min.)
Step 10: Clean everything in the entire kitchen. (2 hours, 38 minutes)

Sierra Goes to Work with a Vet

Not a veteran, but a veterinarian. A friend from church recommended someone and it all worked out. She works once a week and gets to handle all kinds of animals since this particular vet sees exotic animals. Sierra has had the chance to assist with birds of all kinds, a rat, and a chameleon. She gets to put slides under the microscope and look for signs of disease. He allows her to pull shots and help with other things in the office. She’s really enjoying it.

Canine Intervention


As you may have learned in “Two Puppies, a Pastor and Spring Break,” we have obtained a new puppy.

We’ve tried, or at least I have, to adopt a puppy before. First there was Bowler, a german shepherd approximately 6 months old and 60 pounds at the time I brought him home. Although he was beautiful, smart and loving, he had a difficult time adjusting to the change. He began to show aggression toward any and all strangers. Since we have kiddos at our house nearly every day I was afraid to continue to try. He made it nine days. My sister took him in. He’s still there and doing well.

Another time I adopted a puppy from an animal shelter. He was really cute and much smaller than Bowler. We named him Dollar like the dog from Richie Rich comics. Although he too was adorable, I continued to read about his breed, Bassett, and discovered he was going to be a larger dog as well. I decided he wasn’t exactly what I had wanted and placed him with a nice family with three children. He made it seven days.

By now I’m quite discouraged. On top of the attempts and disappointments, my husband has never been committed to having a dog. He has been against it and only willing to allow it to appease me. He told me to quit trying and I agreed to try to let it go.

For Christmas this past year my husband gave me the set of Legally Blond and Legally Blond 2. I loved those movies when I first saw them and enjoyed being the proud owner of them. The main character, Elle Woods, has a dog. His name is Bruiser and he’s a Chihuahua. After receiving and viewing the movies again, I mentioned to my sister that if I ever tried again to adopt a dog, I would choose a Chihuahua. It would suit my lifestyle more and they are generally smart, loyal and easily cared for.

I didn’t give it another thought, but the idea apparently stuck with my sister. She had a girlfriend who owned a pretty little female Chihuahua and an acquaintance who owned a cute little male. She arranged their discreet union and by my birthday I had pictures in my inbox.

In the meantime her girlfriend had moved to Louisiana, thus resulting in our Spring Break trip. Now, this whole time I have not shared the news with my husband. I figured why discuss and discuss when I could just take the initiative and bring her home. If he didn’t like her, I’d find her a nice home. If he did like her, well then, we’d have saved ourselves weeks of discussing it.

We got home from our vacation on a Friday about 2:00 am. Upon arriving home with my new little girl, Dixie, I placed her in my husband’s arms and said, “Here, hold this.” I was nervous over his reaction, but he took to her almost immediately. He thought she was cute and since she was so little (and always would be) it relieved some of his previous fears (like carpet-digging or door-scratching) about having a dog.

That’s been seven weeks ago. So Dixie has already been with us approximately six times longer than previous attempts. She’s doing well and is loved by all. Even my husband, as you can see by the picture of him napping with her in his arms.

Two Puppies, A Pastor and Spring Break

Ah! Spring Break. A time to pack the family in an overpriced rental car and drive 2,000 miles in a a deluge of rain through swamp and gator country. Good times, good times.

My sister, Dorothy, conspired for my birthday to provide me with the one thing missing in my life – a dog. Her girlfriend had a teacup Chihuahua and was willing to breed her so I could have pick of the litter when the puppies came. (Side note: a litter of Chihuahuas means two.) Unfortunately, her girlfriend lived in Louisiana.

So being basically optimistic and having our last road trip with children at least 6 years in the past… we planned our trip. There were tons of changes and last minute preparations. We wanted to be sure and have time to enjoy some sun and surf and swing up through the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to visit a friend on our return trip.

The first day of a trip is always the easiest because you are full of anticipation, excitement and adrenaline. The anticipation is always replaced by aggravation as you realize (once again) that your expectations far exceeded reality. Excitement takes a huge hit from the aforementioned reality check and is then sent to the mat by the uppercut of disappointment. Last, but not least…. adrenaline. Well, if you’ve ever travelled with kids, you know where that goes and how quickly it goes there. But, I jest.

We took off on a Saturday and drove straight through the night. The girls slept in the back seat and we gabbed in the front. Upon arriving in Louisiana, we quickly realized we were happy we chose Galveston Island as our port in the storm. I’m not using the term “storm” figuratively, either. We weren’t impressed with what we saw of Louisiana. We saw swamp, swamp and more swamp. It was wet and rainy the whole time we were there. After a visit with Dorothy’s girlfriend, we drove on toward Galveston. It was funny. Just as we drove over the state line into Texas and were warmly greeted by the welcome sign, the sun came out and the rain stopped.

As you may know, Galveston is an island. You cross a long bridge as you enter it from the very bottom of Texas. We could see beautiful, blue waters and dense smaller islands of deep, green grass. All the best waterfront properties were adorned with 2-story homes made to look like 3-story by stilts and lower-level concrete storage rooms. Each home was painted in a “beachy” tone like salmon or mint. You could already smell the salt in the air.

We chose a little hotel only blocks from the beach. Of course, Galveston is not very large, so most hotels are only blocks from the beach.

Seagulls were everywhere. Dorothy would comment daily that she thought they were laughing at her. The sound they make could be interpreted that way.

Our first evening there we dined at the pier. It’s full of trendy restaurants and great views of the water. We ate at Fisherman’s Wharf with a view of Elissa, a large multi-masted sailboat. It was beautiful. You can see it in the picture to the left behind the girls. And the food was delicious. I had a light salad and a bowl of lobster bisque. I ordered another bowl. It was the absolute best soup I have ever tasted. Hmmmm Hmmmm.

The next day we ate breakfast at a restaurant right across the street from the beach. After, we parked the car along the sidewalk that ran the length of the beach and grabbed our pails and shovels for a morning stroll. The water was quite cold, but not uncomfortable. There were people swimming in some areas. The girls collected shells and chased the occasional seagull. Neither one of the girls or Dorothy had seen the gulf before. It made a big impression. We must have walked for 3 hours.

Allyson found a wonderful piece of coral. Both girls got back to the car with a bucket of shells in all assorted sizes and conditions. At one point I found a turtle. Not your average sea turtle, mind you, but a Ninja Turtle. Yes, a plastic action figure Donatello. He was floating in an inlet closer to some dunes. I meant to bring him home with me but he was lost to one of the larger waves when it capsized our bucket and ran off with some of our beach prizes. Poor, poor Donatello.

When we finally left the beach, we set off for Moody Gardens. Moody Gardens is really cool and we didn’t have nearly enough to time to explore all it had to offer. There are three main pyramids and each one is dedicated to a particular theme. On this visit we went to the Aquarium Pyramid. They had the most sea horses I’ve ever seen in one place. Some were so tiny you had to really search the tank to find them. I’ve always thought sea horses were fascinating, so I really enjoyed their display. To the left is a picture I took of one of the fish tanks. I thought it was particularly cool, so I included it for you to see. The aquarium also had those walk through tunnels where the fish swim right over the top of you. We saw some pretty impressive sharks and other kinds of fish we only recognize from Finding Nemo.

In one section there was a hands-on display. It had the usual starfish and lobster to be touched. But it also had an unusual starfish with very long legs. This one was very active. You normally never see a starfish move, but this kind get across the sand and away from you in a hurry. It was fascinating. We must have spent half an hour there playing with them. I took mostly video because they were so neat to watch.

After the aquarium, we had a wonderful dinner at one of our favorite restaurants – The Rainforest Cafe. You can see the girls sitting on the bench with Cha Cha, the Rainforest Cafe mascot, a red-eyed tree frog.

We had a wonderful dinner. Everyone was stuffed. The girls and I had been to the Rainforest Cafe before, but it was Aunt Dorothy’s first time. She really enjoyed it. And the food was delicious, as usual. We even splurged on dessert – the chocolate volcano. You only need one for a table of four. We didn’t even finish it. But, they are worth having. It’s a chocolate brownie volcano with chocolate syrup pouring forth from it’s summit. Surrounding the volcano is whipped topping and when it’s delivered to your table it has lit sparkles on top to give it the full Mt. Vesuvius effect. Yummy.

The following day we visited one of the historic mansions on the island, The Moody Mansion. You aren’t allowed to take video or photographs inside the home, but we took some nice shots on the grounds. This mansion was one of the few homes that withstood a major hurricane and therefore is one of the oldest homes on the island. The interior was stunning. The amount of woodwork that was displayed can’t even be described. If you’re ever in Galveston, it is a must-see.

That afternoon, we were back at Moody Gardens for a tour of another one of their pyramids – this one with a rain forest theme. We encountered a wide variety of birds and lizards, but the main attraction was the sloth. We spotted him up in the rafters moving ever so slowly among some branches. He was a three-toed sloth just like the one in Ice Age, the Disney movie. He had gray fur and was close enough that we could easily see his toes and sharp looking claws.

As Dorothy was walking down one area of the path, she spotted a type of gecko. He was really large and fascinating to watch. However, further up the path I spotted another kind of lizard and was on my way to take his portrait when Dorothy yelled at me. Her gecko was about to crawl up her leg. He had come out of the roped off area and was in the pedestrian path headed for her shoe. He was a funny thing. And big, too. He was twice as long as her foot. Once he realized he was attracting so much attention, he decided to head on up the path. We followed him until he disappeared into the stream that ran through the entire rainforest display.

There was an abundance of beautiful photo opportunities. Everywhere you looked was one breathtaking scene after another. I took some lovely pictures of the girls in various places. I’ve included one of them above with some of the beautiful Macaws we saw.

This was our last day in Galveston. We were heading up to see our former Children’s Pastor, Kenny, and his wife, Sara. They live in the Ft. Worth area near Dallas. As we left Galveston we used the ferry to cross Galveston Bay into Bolivar. We drove up the coast, stopping at Crystal Beach for more seagull feeding and shell gathering.

After meeting Dorothy’s friend to pick up the puppies, we headed north. Four hours later we reached Ft. Worth where we could wind down for a more relaxing visit with friends. While visiting we took in the sites of Texas with a stop at the cattle drive and “dressing up” as cowpokes. Yes, that’s me in official cowboy garb looking like I just found “a snake in my boots.”

Allyson got the chance to herd cattle, but, being a city girl she seemed confused as to what was a cow and what was a horse. Kenny took the girls through this really cool maze.

You can see in the picture where he is using satellite-positioning software on his phone to help them cheat. That’s why you can see all three of them in jail in the next photo. But, they did get through in record time!

That’s what I get for trusting a Children’s Pastor with my kids. LOL

Since he already had a record, Kenny helped Dorothy and I get an authentic souvenir by stealing a brick from some piles where they are tearing down the original stockyards. In the last picture you can see our friends, Kenny and Sara, with my girls.

Hey Kenny and Sara – we miss you guys very much!

The Girls’ Room

When Sierra moved in permanently, we had to decide how to accommodate the extra stuff. We have a bonus room over the garage that we felt would be large enough for both girls. After tossing around several ideas, they finally agreed on two individual themes that allowed the room to have an overall look of the ocean. The first image is the room when we first started moving in three years ago. The second image is the room as it is now.

My sister, Marilyn, came over and painted the ocean in a matter of a couple hours. Then she stayed to help add sand dunes, grasses and other special effects. Both girls wanted a crab and she painted seaweed over a bad place in the wall to disguise it. Sierra painted a seagull on her side. Allyson painted a starfish. I added some clouds to Allyson’s side of the sky.

Like I said, they chose two themes that made up the whole ocean theme for the room. Sierra chose a “Surfing” theme for her side and the “Little Mermaid” was top pick for Allyson’s. Both girls bought bedding to coordinate with their chosen theme. I had to go to reliable old ebay to find Ariel bedding, but it arrived in no time. Allyson’s duvet cover and pillow sham came all the way from Australia. Sierra’s bedding was purchased at Target.

Sierra needed a bed and each girl received new mattresses. We added a dresser, nightstand, armoire, hamper and papasan chair on each side. We put in one bookcase on Sierra’s side for them to share because Allyson has her fridge on her side. You can see the palm tree I painted by the door in one of the images above. We found some great lamps for their nightstands at Target. They fade from white to an aqua color that Marilyn matched in the ocean.

I added surf boards to Sierra’s side and the Little Mermaid, Ariel, to Allyson’s. I also painted tiny seagulls among Allyson’s clouds and a silhouette of the Black Pearl above Sierra’s bed. I think that may be my favorite part of the room.

I Sew, I Sew, It’s Off to Class I Go

Allyson has talked about sewing and designing clothes for some time. My sister gave us a sewing machine last year and we got my other sister to come over and show us how to use it. But, sewing is not really my forte, so after a few half-hearted projects, sewing took a backseat.

As the new school year approached, I asked both girls what they were interested in. Sierra chose animals and Allyson brought up sewing again. Luckily, an email had found it’s way to me about a homeschool mom who does alterations. I called her about doing a sewing class and she agreed.

So, we packed up our sewing machine and headed over to this lady’s home. She was very prepared. She had her former Abeka sewing curriculum, her Encyclopedia of Sewing, and all kinds of handouts for Allyson. They went over the parts of the machine and how things worked. She had Allyson practice sewing pieces of paper just to get a feel for the machine. Allyson loved it. She was so excited. She left there talking about sewing patterns, making her own costume for Halloween and getting her a fancy sewing basket.

I Took Sierra to the Pound

My niece, Sierra, wants to be a veterinarian one day. If not a vet, at least something where she can work with animals. To give her some experience, we signed her up to volunteer at the local Animal Rescue League. She was really excited about it and thought it was an awesome idea.

We went for an orientation last Thursday. They talked through the important procedures and gave everyone a tour. There were others there, including other teens. I learned that some school systems have “volunteering at an animal shelter” on a list of “community services” that kids in middle school have to perform. They put in their 2 or 3 hours and write a report, I guess.

Sierra, however, was very enthusiastic. She wanted to work every day. She was limited to just one day a week and she signed up for the next 2 months. I was very impressed with her attitude and work ethic.

So, anyway, I took her to the pound to put in her 4 hours this week. They were happy to see her. It was a little weird. I just dropped her off and they put her to work. While she was there I took Allyson on some errands and to her first sewing class. More on that later.

When I picked Sierra up, she was sweaty and covered in assorted dog/cat hair. But, she was extremely giddy about her afternoon with the animals. Hard work didn’t phase her a bit. She loved it and can’t wait to go back.

Chicago Trip 2006

It was a whirlwind trip to the windy city. It has become a yearly tradition to travel toChicago with friends, Val & Kim, and visit the American Girl Place. This year, we also had the added pleasure of visiting the Field Museum and seeing the King Tut exhibit.

We took off on Friday morning around 10am and drove straight through to Chicago. Okay, not straight through. There

are approximately 6 Starbucks between us and Chicago and my lifetime membership requires me to stop at all of them.

When we arrived at our hotel (the Wyndham), we got settled in and took a dip in the pool. Whirlpool for us grown-up girls. After swimming, we all had dinner in the hotel restaurant, Caliterra. It is an Italian-inspired upscale bistro with darkened windows and candlelight. Very pretty. Each of us had a pasta dinner of varying kinds. They brought assorted breads to the table in a silver, linen-lined basket. Ice cream for dessert for the girls and the best cheesecake on earth for myself. Val and Kim had something too, but after one bite of the cheesecake… I forgot what they had.

We all slept pretty well that night and got up eager to get over to American Girl Place. We were having brunch in their cafe, so Val took off a few minutes before the rest of us to put in reservations. The girls and I stopped by the concierge to ask directions so I could get lost that much faster. Thank goodness for cell phones. Of course, when we didn’t arrive as expected, Val had to call me. What I mean to say is, she had to call Rob at home in Indiana to get my cell phone number, then call me on her daughter’s cell phone. She got me headed in the right direction, but I still had to get assistance from a homeless guy. He was great. Non of that “Take Ontario 3 blocks” garbage. He gave “chick” directions. He said, “Go straight until you get

to Marshall’s, then turn left past Guess?. Go straight past Ralph Lauren until you reach…”

Val was already seated when we got there, but they hadn’t begun serving. The girls and I got settled in and we all placed our orders. Brunch was delicious, but it always is. After eating, we took the girls shopping. Sierra had never been to American Girl, but she had her prepared list and was done in under 15 minutes. Allyson took a little longer. They made their selections and then I surprised them

with doll beds. The shopping is fun and American Girl Place is just cool to be in. But, carrying the purchases back to the hotel is a back-breaker. My arms were sore too.

We decided to walk around the shopping district until time for dinner. We went to the largest Pottery Barn I’ve ever seen. We visited the Hershey Factory. The smell of chocolate will almost knock you off your feet. We planned to take another carriage ride like last year.

Allyson enlisted Sierra’s help in finding the same horse and carriage, but he wasn’t to be found. We settled for a lovely black horse. The top was up this time for fear of rain. And rain it did! Val was being hit by so much I opened my umbrella in the carriage to shield her from what was blowing in on her side. She was still soaked. It had started raining right after we boarded the carriage… and stopped just as we returned. It did give us the chance to get photos with our horse of choice. It would have been disappointing had it not been so comical.

That night we ate at Rainforest Cafe. Sierra had never been there either. She was so excited. We’ve been several times with Allyson, and she always loves it. We told the host that it was Sierra’s first time, so he was sure to sit us next to the largest animatronic elephant. We weren’t at our table 2 minutes before it went off, roaring and stomping it’s foot. It really startled Sierra. We got to meet Cha Cha the frog and the girls tried fried calamari. After dinner, we picked up a couple of souvenirs in the gift shop. A stuffed elephant for Sierra and an umbrella Cha Cha for Allyson. Now she couldn’t wait for it to rain!

The next day was King Tut day! Val and Kim have been to the Field Museum before, but it was a first for the rest of us. You couldn’t take pictures inside the actual Tut exhibit, but pictures wouldn’t have done the artifacts justice anyway. It would be like trying to photograph the depth of the Grand Canyon or the beauty of clouds. We had the audio tour. You receive a headset and numbered device. As you view certain artifacts, there is a number in the upper right-hand corner of the containment box.

You put that number in and get more information about the piece. It gives you a much better tour than just walking through and reading the text on each artifact. I highly recommend it.

We visited the gift shop and Allyson and Sierra picked out an Egyptian-inspired necklace as a souvenir. We took pictures in front of Sue (the largest and most compete T-Rex), 2 preserved elephants and some totems that were in the main lobby. We walked through a pyramid set up with other Egyptian artifacts and mummies. You could take pictures in this area, so we did. It’s not a real vacation unless you get your picture taken with a mummy.

Ahhhh, I can’t wait for next year.

Who Are These People?

You ever notice those commercials trying to sell you a product that is supposed to be easier to use than what you currently use?

I saw this new Oxiclean Ball commercial where seemingly normal people try in vain to measure their liquid detergent. Since this is such a difficult task, they end up pouring detergent all over their hand and onto the machine.

Or you see some other poor soul trying to measure their powdered detergent only to have a seizure and fling detergent everywhere.

Who are these people? Does anyone really have that kind of trouble measuring their detergent?

Millions and Millions of Pets

I don’t know anyone who owns a dog or cat that hasn’t had a flea or two. However, this was apparently a bad year for fleas… or good depending on how you look at it. If I were trying to breed fleas and sell them on ebay I would be rich by now. Hey, is there a fleabay?

And then there were 1,587,457

Some of you may know that I help find homes for the occasional cat, dog, puppy or kitten. My sister, Dorothy, does this kind of thing a lot and I try to help when I can.

This past summer, I brought a couple of puppies home to spend the night. Their new owners picked them up the following morning. But, they left gifts. Lots and lots of gifts. It was three months before I realized there was a problem. I first noticed that Allyson’s cat, Franna, had some places around her neck. They felt like bites and I naturally suspected Fred, Rob’s cat. I figured they would heal, but they only got worse.
That was when I began checking the other cats. Fleas!
I went out and bought the usual over-the-counter medicine you put on the cat’s neck. I put this on all three cats and it seemed to improve the situation. It looked like we had nipped it in the bud.

Approximately 3 months after first realizing we had fleas, there was a sudden explosion in the flea population. The cats were just eaten up. I rushed out and bought another type of flea repellent and a spray flea killer for the carpets. I treated all the cats and left instructions for Rob to treat all carpets while Allyson and I were in Chicago. Rob treated the carpets just like I asked, but he did it twice. What a guy!

When I got back from Chicago, there was not only no improvement, Franna looked like she was raw from the flea medicine. I rushed her to a vet. He informed me that the stuff I was using repelled the fleas, but as soon as it wore off they came back in force. To make matters worse, Franna is not just allergic to the fleas, she is allergic to the flea medicine. We got poor Franna a cortisone shot. We took her home with new medicine in hand. All three cats had to be bathed thoroughly with dish soap (Dawn is preferred by 9 out of 10 vets) and then let to dry before applying the new medicine. The vet told me it could take up to a year to rid my home completely.

Jenkins Family Christmas 2005

So I decided “quiet and relaxing” anyone can have… I’m spending time with my family. WooHoo!

We had already made a commitment to a little girl in the neighborhood for our daughter to attend her birthday party. We didn’t back out of that so we were late getting to my sister’s house. When we arrived, everyone had already eaten and were about to start singing Christmas carols. Brian had printed pages of carols and brought his keyboard. It started off slow with only a couple of people going up at a time, but eventually, we got most of us up there for several renditions of butchered classics.

We had missed dinnertime, but the goodies were still out to munch on. I tried some white chocolate chip cookies and some kind of fudge. Someone brought this Dreamcicle candy that was delicious.

Gift time brought a tree my sister and her daughters-in-law made. It was a twisted towel adorned with ornaments and garland. This tree sat on a pretty green charger with a present of wash clothes tied up in a bow. My brother had spent the year gathering everyone’s pertinent dates – birthday, anniversary, children’s birthdates. He compiled all of this information into a booklet for each of us. No excuses now for missing a birthday! My daughter received a pretty bead watch/bracelet. She was also given a Samantha paper doll set. She loved both. My husband received an iPod Shuffle from my brother. One of my sister’s put together ingredients in a jar for every family to make something fresh. The recipe served as the gift tag. Another made glass blocks decorated for the holidays with lights inside. One of my nieces passed out jars of handmade candies tied with country-cute gift tags.