Friday, August 30, 2013

Random Photo Friday--sneaky (devious?) parents edition

When we explained to Heather that we'd be going to Alaska and that she'd be having a week-long sleepover at Grandma's house, she wasn't exactly thrilled with the prospect. Soon though, she remembered that anytime mom and dad leave for a trip they always come back with presents. This realization changed her attitude considerably, and resulted in her giving us "Alaska present requests" several times a day.

Foremost on her Alaska wishlist was another diamond to add to her giant pink diamond that her Peter gave to her for her fourth birthday.

So, being obedient parents, and not wanting to spend all our time in Alaska stressing out about whether or not we had the perfect gift for the little miss, Eric and I took a pre-trip visit downtown.

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Mission Accomplished.

(We ended up getting her a few other trinkets in Alaska. Unsurprisingly, the red "diamond" is by far her favorite.)

Friday, August 23, 2013

backlogged and puttin' on the Ritz

You ready for one million stone lions???

Well good, cuz that's what I've got for you!

This guy was taken in Texas by my mom, Barbara Corry.
(You might remember a mention made of this particular lion way back in January.  All I can say about that is, better late than never.)
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These next five are also courtesy of my mom, taken in Arlington, Virginia.
(At the Ritz Carlton. That will become a bit of a coincidence at the end of this post, so watch for that.)
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If you look closely, you can see a lion's face here.  Here's what Barbara has to say about this picture (and why we can't see the lion all that easily)
"I was excited to see the lion face on the outside of the Lincoln Memorial, looking toward the Washington Monument.  I couldn't get closer since you're not suppose to climb on anything and it was getting dark.  Maybe someone living in DC could get a better picture (or a picture at all)."
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These next two (taken from slightly different angles) are courtesy of Carol, taken outside of the Littleton Adventist hospital in the Denver Colorado area. 
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These one was taken by yours truly, on our Alaskan Cruise. This is actually a shop window in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
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These three (which are really three different shots of the same lion) were taken in Victoria as well, in Chinatown.
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And these next few are from Cherie in China. This one is in Xi'an at the Terra Cotta Warriors
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This guy is in Nanjing:
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And this one at the Ritz Carlton in Shanghai.
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So so awesome. Thanks to all of you!

Monday, August 19, 2013

cheap and clean--what could be better?

Almost a year ago, I happened upon a blog post touting a make-your-own laundry detergent recipe that was amazing, cheap (as in--around $30 for a batch, a batch that will last around a year if you have a big family, and probably two years if you have a small family like me), and easy to put together. I was skeptical, but I decided to try it out.

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I honestly can't imagine ever going back to purchasing laundry soap again. This soap is pretty (which I know isn't important in the long run, but I don't like doing laundry and if I have something pretty to look at it definitely helps), smells nice, cleans well, and every time I use it, it's just a nice little treat for me--as much of a treat as you can get from washing dirty clothes and towels anyway.

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You want the recipe? Of course you do. Here it is:

(Most of this can be found in the detergent aisle, with the exception of the Baking Soda and the Zote Soap)
1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax
1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Super Washing Soda (Arm & Hammer)
1 (3 lb) Container of OxyClean
2 (14.1 oz) Bars of Zote Soap (I found this at our local Latino market. If you can't find it, you can use an equal amount of Fels Naptha, but those bars are smaller, so be sure you get 28 ounces, not just two bars)
1 (4 lb) Boxes of Baking Soda (Arm & Hammer)
1 (55 ox) Bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener (optional--but it smells nice, makes the detergent look pretty, softens the fabric, AND provides a bottle for you to store your soap in so that you don't have to have a giant bucket of soap cluttering up your laundry room)
Grate the bar soap--I used my food processor, and it worked great. If you want smaller bits of soap, you can do it by hand, using the smaller holes on the grater. 
Next, get a five-gallon bucket, and start mixing everything together. Unless you have arms of steel (I don't), I recommend a layering approach to this--like dump about 1/4th or 1/3 of each ingredient into the bucket, then stir them all together (I use a wooden spoon). Then repeat two or three more times. 

Now you're done! To use the soap, just put in 1-2 Tablespoons in with each load of laundry. You'll think you need more, but really you don't. Also, you will notice that your water doesn't have the suds that you're used to. That's okay, your clothes will still get clean. After this experience, I have a sneaking suspicion that companies put sudsing agents in their detergent more so that you will think it's doing a better job rather than because it is actually needed.

Also, as long as we're talking laundry and saving money, you see that ball of aluminum foil in that first picture? That's what I use instead of a dryer sheet to break up static cling. It works pretty well. My dream is to have one great big huge ball, but for some reason I can't bring myself to cut up a piece of foil long enough, so right now I have four or so different balls bouncing around with each load I do, and it works almost as well as a dryer sheet, so I'm sticking with it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Awesome ALASKA-the wrap-up

An alternate title to this post could be: A whole bunch of pictures in no particular order accompanied by a bunch of words.

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Many years ago, my paternal grandmother paid for all the Corry children and their spouses to go on an Alaskan Cruise together. To say that my parents came home from that trip happy would be a huge huge understatement. They both enjoyed themselves thoroughly, which, as anyone who is acquainted with my father and his distaste for travel (How is it that I am his daughter?  Oh right, I'm his wife's daughter too.) can testify, that's saying something pretty significant.

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I think it was at some point during that cruise that my mom decided that one day, she wanted to follow in my grandmother's footsteps (preferably before she became a widow herself) and take all of her children on the very same cruise.

It took her about fifteen or more years to get everything set to go, but finally this year the stars aligned, we were all able to work out our schedules, the tickets were bought, vacation time was obtained, grandparents were asked to watch grandchildren (and they all agreed --bless their hearts) and off we went.

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(This one and the next were taken in Victoria--British Columbia. Not Alaska, but a stop on our itinerary)

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In those 15+ years as we were waiting for everything to work out, my mom never lost sight of that hope. I often wondered why she was so set on an Alaskan Cruise for us all. She never wavered in her desire to do it. Sometimes it looked like it was never going to happen, and during those times she would acknowledge that she wasn't sure whether or not it would ever work out, but she never ever broke down and said, "Oh well, I guess it doesn't matter all that much to me. Let's just scrap it."

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I often wondered why she was so dogged about it all, what was so great about that whole experience for her that made her so committed to sharing it with all of us.

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Now I know.

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So, to my mom (who never gave up), and my dad (who worked hard for years and years and years to put them in a position so that this was even a possibility):

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Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Awesome ALASKA--Eric keeps us safe

So, you know how you go through airport security, and other security when you enter big arenas and places like that?  Do you ever wonder if all the hassle of taking off your shoes, emptying your pockets, making sure you don't have a big metal watch or belt on, not to mention putting all your liquids on those 3-1-1 bags is doing anything for our safety other than making life inconvenient for all of us? Do you ever wonder if these measured do anything to get "the bad guys"?

I used to wonder about that, and then I traveled with Eric.

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Eric has an insulin pump. For those who aren't familiar with these (I wasn't), what that means is he has a tube that is attached via what's called an inset to his body. One end of the tube goes through the inset and feeds insulin in through his abdomen. The other end is attached to a small device that looks kind of like a pager. This device is a pump. Because of the pump, whenever Eric eats anything, as soon as he's finished eating, he can estimate the amount of insulin that he needs, pull out the pump, and order up the correct amount of insulin to cover his meal. Much much more convenient than shots, which generally have to be injected before eating, which is more painful and offers less flexibility than the pump option.

However, I assume because of this pump (and the fact that he has to carry spare insulin in an insulated lunch sack with a freezer pack or two thrown in),  Eric never makes it through security without having to endure further scanning and searching.  This trip was no exception.  While we were on vacation, Eric was stopped and scanned for both of our flights. The second flight even involved the added bonus of a step-by-step search of all his carry-on paraphernalia in addition to the standard x-ray and then body-with-a-wand scan.

(It's still a small price to pay for the convenience of a pump--particularly when you think about how rarely Eric ends up on an airplane.)

Funny thing though--this time, when we got to the ship, Eric got through security just fine, which wasn't surprising, but his suitcase did not, which was very surprising. We didn't know this at first, since you "check" your lugguage at the dock, and one of the millions of cruise workers then take your bags and deposit them in your stateroom within an hour or two of you boarding the ship. Only, one of Eric's bags never came.

We asked our steward, who directed us to the passenger services (a/k/a the purser's) desk. The purser directed us to a pile of 10 or so bags, instructing us to see if ours was in there. It wasn't. We went back to the purser's desk, where they instructed us to go to security, which we did.

Come to find out, Eric had packed a knife in his bag, along with box cutters, along with duck tape. I suppose it's no surprise that he wasn't given his suitcase right off the bat, huh?

As it turned out, we ended up using the duck tape three different times before we got back home, so - not a bad little item to pack I guess.  

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