Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Artists in Training

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quirky 1-13

Who says winter is drab? 
'Round these parts, we're just full of color!!
(See how I went all cowboy there? Pretty impressive, huh?)


Monday, January 28, 2013

writing, appreciating, building--influenced by the world around me

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I've been reading and enjoying "Reached", the last installment of the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie.  I'm really enjoying the book--a dystopian young adult novel in which the characters are living in a civilization devoid of most of the freedoms that I take for granted--they've even forgotten how to write without a keyboard.  It's made me want to start writing in my journal again.  I'm fast at typing, and my handwriting (as we've discussed) is nothing to write home about, but still--there's something to be said for having a history, as incomplete (and nearly illegible) as it may be, written out in my own hand, you know?


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A few months ago, we decided that we'd seen every Netflix DVD that really interested us, and we switched to a streaming plan.  Almost immediately, I started watching Jon & Kate + 8, and got completely addicted.  Knowing how the story ends (and can I just say, that is one sad ending!) made it all the more compelling for me to watch, although I hate to admit it.  Poor Eric has had to endure semi-frequent late night soul-searching questions from me, such as, "Do I treat you the way Kate treats Jon?"  "Do you feel like I am critical of you?"  "Do you know I love you?" etc. etc.  ad nauseum.  Poor guy.  He takes it well, and I'm starting to lay off the paranoia, but it's a cautionary tale for me.  I'm not saying that the Kate & Jon divorce was all Kate's fault, I'm not saying whose fault it was, because I have no idea, nor any right to an opinion, frankly.  What I am saying is that I've got a good man married to me, and I don't ever want to take that for granted, no matter how many times I'm tempted to get annoyed with messes around the house, miscommunications, differences of opinion, or what-have-you.


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One more area that I'm trying to work on:  A few years ago, I read a blog post by a woman who talked about being rejected as a child by one of her neighbors, a woman who also happeend to be her Primary President.  Apparently she and the woman's son were the only two kids their age in the neighborhood, but for some reason, the girl wasn't allowed to play with the boy very often.  Then one day she was allowed to the house, where she had a glorious afternoon, and then was promptly banned from the house, never allowed to go back inside because she had made a mess there and not cleaned it up. (Or at least that's the explanation that the little girl remembered)  The way she tells the story, from then on, the neighborhood children would go to that house on hot summer days for a cool drink and while all the other children were allowed inside, she would have to drink her drink on the porch.  She says that it was very confusing for her in those days, because she would feel so unloved during the week, and then she'd go to church and see that woman standing up in front of all the children, representing all that should be good and righteous.

That story haunts me now.  Now, whether I am or am not the Primary President, I honestly can't imagine ever making one child stand outside our little house while all the other children are allowed in.  Come to that, I struggle to imagine a situation in which I would deny entrance into our home to any child for any reason.  We all know that as far as I'm concerned, when it comes to kids, the more the merrier.  But children are fragile, and they can be hurt by something far more innocuous than a locked door.  Their feelings are tender, and you never know what chance word or action will stay with them throughout their lives, molding who they are, how they see the world, what they think about themselves.

In all my associations with children (and I now have quite a few more associations than used to be the case), I really really almost desperately want to be a builder.  With the exception of Heather, Eden, and my nieces and nephews, I can't say that I really care that much whether or not a child remembers me throughout their life as someone who helped them to feel loved and happy and safe.  Hopefully there will be so many people like that in any child's life that remembering them all will be as impossible as remembering all the meals one has eaten.  BUT, I absolutely don't want to be someone that is remembered for a belittling word or action.  I want to be a builder.  I want to build.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Random Photo Friday--Spin-off Edition

Honestly, I think the inscription I received with the following picture (from my brother) is much better than anything I could write.  So, I close my words now, and leave the rest to Doug:





I'm thinking about a new club. Seekers of stone hippos!  Who doesn't love a stone hippo? Mom found a stone lion in the same place which she should be sending you. They are both in Dallas. 

Enjoy

Doug Corry


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Okay--it's me again.  I couldn't resist one more little bit of writing.  How cute are those kids?  I haven't seen them in ages and ages, and I am missing them something fierce.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Our Thwarted Christmas Plans--Chapter 3 (and final): Post Christmas

Everything fell apart on December 26.  I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a Mack truck.  Heather woke up whining.  Eric was even worse off than Heather and I.  (He didn't make it out of bed until 5 p.m., at which point he made it down to the couch for two hours, and then returned to bed.)  We spent the day moaning, groaning, coughing, sleeping, aching, fevering, etc.  I did make it out of the house three times, once for a prescription, once for Little Caesar's pizza and soda (we had to eat you know) and once for cough syrup.  All three times it took every bit of energy I had to make it out the door and then back in.

It was rough. Not as rough as some people had/have it, but rough for us for sure.

So, that was the 26th.  I had the 27th through the 2nd off from work, and it took me about that long to get fully recovered. Needless to say, we did not head down to Cedar City as previously planned.

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We did manage to make it out the door on New Years Eve for a little 12:00 dinner celebration.  Sure, it was 12:00 noon, not 12:00 midnight, but making it out of the house was such a big occasion that we didn't bother to quibble about times.



Luckily, as we were laying around the house, riding the roller coaster of flu and cold, and being under our self-inflicted quarantine, Heather and I had some time to do a few relaxing things as well.

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I did eventually venture out to one or two after Christmas sales.

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All in all, it was not my favorite Christmas break, obviously.  Luckily, in a little stroke of holiday irony, it may very well have turned out to be the best time of Heather's short life. She got feeling better about five days sooner than I, and a week or two sooner than Eric.  So, for seven fabulous days, there were no errands to run, no jobs to do, no aunts/uncles/grandparents or cousins to compete with for parental attention.  In fact, there was nothing but sitting around, chillin' with mom and dad, who (gloriously) are her favorite people in the world right now.  She was happy as a clam, in absolute heaven.  When I look back on this holiday, that's what I'm going to try to remember.





Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Our Thwarted Christmas Plans--Chapter 2: Christmas Day

Christmas morning started around 8:00 a.m.  I had slept in the trundle bed in Heather's room (also known as the "hidden" bed) so that my coughing wouldn't keep Eric awake.  (Heather was coughing as well, plus she sleeps much more soundly than Eric).  We tromped into our master bedroom and announced to Eric that it was present opening time.  Eric sleepily got out of bed, and we all made our way downstairs.  On the way down, Eric mentioned to me that after holding out for nearly two weeks, he was pretty certain that he had contracted my dreaded illness.

Merry Christmas, Darling.

But, illness or no illness, it was Christmas, and we had a very happy four-year old, and it's impossible to dwell on feeling crappy when you have a little girl squealing with delight and gratitude and excitement.  So really, how could it be anything other than a lovely morning?  Here's a little rundown of the presents:


Eric bought this play-doh factory (below) at Wal-Mart at around 7:00 on Christmas Eve.  We had stopped to pick up Mentholatum and cough syrup for me, and Eric just "couldn't resist".  I was going to leave it up in the man cave and then return it later (Heather already had plenty), but on a whim, as we were setting things out, I decided to just go ahead and leave it there.

Thank heaven.

As it turned out, after about an hour of Christmas fun, and just as my Christmas coffee cake was coming out of the oven, Eric determined that he needed to go back to bed for a few hours. As for me, I wasn't exactly ready to go to bed (I hate to waste a Christmas Day sleeping!), but I wasn't really up to a whole lot of activity either.  Enter the Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe (or something like that).
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Heather happily, ecstatically, enthralledly played for over an hour while Eric napped and I sat on the couch doing I-don't-remember-what.
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These cardboard blocks were also a hit, and have continued to be a hit throughout all that we've seen so far of 2013.
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they make an excellent hiding place
This year, courtesy of Eric, I got a surprise "retro" Christmas.

First up was this 1950s phone:
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Second was this 1970s Empire State Building lamp.
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Eric also gave me a small sundial, to be mounted in our garden later, some heavy duty kneepads, also for gardening (the bulk of my gardening is me, kneeling on our concrete pad, digging in the little bit of dirt that we have around the perimeter of the pad.  Kneepads will certainly help that situation.  I'm stoked!) and some kind of multi-use hat/scarf/face-mask/pull it together and it makes a bag thing. Interesting stuff for sure.

As for Eric, he pretty much bought his presents himself, and he got a tool Christmas.

However, I was able to give him a huge and much-appreciated surprise!  Kudos to me!
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Yes, that's a gnome pop-up book.  Eric grew up with a set of very small gnome books, and so when a vintage bookseller on Etsy contacted me for a trade and I saw this book in her shop, I was thrilled.  I thought he would like it, but it wasn't until I heard him telling his best friend on the telephone about them that I knew I had done really really well. It's not often that I can surprise Eric and get him something that he is glad to own, so I'm feeling pretty flush about myself.

After gifts and naps, we headed back out to Grandma and Grandpa's, where we played games and snacked and played and opened more presents and had a lovely lovely afternoon.  I took no pictures, but loved it all. We headed home, tired, kind of sick, but glad to have enjoyed a lovely Christmas Day.  As we were pulling into our driveway, I mentally went through my plans for the next day--hitting an after Christmas sale or two, packing up our stuff for our Cedar City road trip, sleeping in.  Things were looking up.

To be continued . . .



Monday, January 21, 2013

Our thwarted Christmas Plans--Chapter 1: Christmas Eve

Ah Christmas.

Our Christmas this year was a little strange.  We had a perfect plan:

  1. Spend Christmas Eve afternoon with the Cantwell's, eating delicious food, spending quality time, doing a nativity, loving every minute of everything.
  2. Go home and spend Christmas Eve cozily in our home, reading beloved Christmas stories, setting out cookies and milk for Santa, prepping for the big night.
  3. Wake-up for Christmas morning, happy, healthy, grateful.  Spend the day playing with toys and visiting with cousins.
  4. Chill out on the day after Christmas, do a little packing so that we could hit the road bright and early-ish on the 27th, heading to Cedar City for five more days of fun with family. 


The reality ended up being just a little bit different.  

Around the middle of December, I started feeling the tell-tall signs of a winter cold.   "No big deal," I thought, "I'll be sick for a week or so, and get well just in time for Christmas."

Yeah.  Not so much. 

By Christmas Eve, I was still in what turned out to be the middle of it all, as was Heather. Not feeling great, but not feeling bad enough to be in bed on Christmas Eve, we headed out to Grandma's, armed with sanitizer and tissues and hopes that we wouldn't infect everyone.

All things considered, it was a great, great afternoon and evening.  

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I don't know that I can even express how much I love this man.  What a gem.

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A Cantwell tradition--Austrian Pastry.  I need to nail down either Aunt Linda or Amy for this recipe.  It's basically butter, flour, and sugar though, so I'm hesitant to have that kind of temptation in my recipe book, you know?  

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One pensive (and under-the-weather) angel.

After a delicious meal, and several hours of playing, all the other cousins and their parents left for home.  We stuck around for some quiet time with Eric's parents, opening presents (no sense waiting, right?), giving a little netflix tutorial (since our gift to them was a netflix membership for a few months), and sitting on the couch, watching some program of funny cat videos.  Finally, out of the blue Heather stated, "Well, should we go?"  And we did.

Heather fell asleep on the way home--hard.  So, there was no putting out cookies for Santa, no reading charming Christmas stories.  She did wake up enough to insist on opening her present from Grandma and Grandpa Corry, and was thrilled to put on her new kitty loompas, after which she promptly went to sleep.

Eric put on A Christmas Story, and we watched it while he assembled cardboard blocks and I filled stockings and wrapped RC Helicopter boxes (to be given to nephews the next day).  Eventually I went to bed, and Eric followed soon after.

Our well-planned Christmas wasn't happening exactly how we had planned it, but all in all, it could have been much worse.

To be continued . . . 



Friday, January 18, 2013

Random Photo Friday--ladybug edition

As we were driving to Cedar City a bit ago, I was trying to distract Heather from the long boring drive, and I asked her to tell me some of her favorite things about going to Grandma Corry's house.

This game, and (more importantly) the fact that she gets to play it with Grandma were first on the list.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

I have laughed harder in the past 24 hours than probably the past three months.

And I'm a laugher, so that's saying something.


First of all:


1.  Go to hulu.com
2.  Search for "the biggest loser"
3.  Click on Season 14, Episode 3
4.  Skip to 1:15:36 in the episode (near the end)  You'll probably have to endure a few commercials.  It's worth it.
5.  Laugh and laugh, and if you're like me, maybe you'll cry a little.  What can I say?  I'm a softie for success stories.

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Then:  


1.  Go to amazon.com and search for "Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer"
2.  Or--you can just click here.
3.  Read the reviews of this fine product
4.  Look at the customer images
5.  Die laughing.  (But don't really die please.)

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You're welcome.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Spiced Nuts

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Here's another recipe that we like.  We often give them for Christmas gifts, but sometimes I make them during the rest of the year as well, particularly after I've been to the fair or some other place where they are selling them for some outrageous amount of money and I want some, but don't want to fork out the bucks.

They are easy and delicious, not too sweet, but just sweet enough.  Eric is a particular fan.


Spiced Nuts

1 egg white
1 tbs water
3 cups pecan halves, or almonds
½ cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves

Beat egg white (at room temperature) and water at high speed of an electric mixer until foamy.  Add pecans or almonds, stirring to coat.  Combine sugar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, and sprinkle over nuts; stir well.  


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Spread nuts in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring twice.  

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Let cool.  Yield:  about 3 cups.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Indulgence

Once again, I'm posting a bunch of pictures that I culled from a recent "housekeeping" of my photobucket account.  I can't bear to delete these without letting them see the light of the blog, but at the same time, they don't really match up with a whole post of their own.  So, here they go.  Feel free to skip over this one.  (Of course, you can feel free to skip over any of them now, can't you?)

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Love these two.

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Love these two too!

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This is my niece, cuddling up with a baby blanket that I made for her older sister.
She's a lot older now,  which makes me like this picture all the more.

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Awkward, but fun.

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Technology city right here!

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I call these two Brady Bunch pictures.

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Back in the fall, "Farmer Gary" (also known as the Managing Director at the opera festival) allowed me to glean sungold tomatoes out of his garden right before the first frost was to hit.  So, while I was picking tomatoes, Heather was living it up in the old John Deere.  Lucky girl.  

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Love where we live.

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Oh, just hanging around, checking out dad's collection of dismembered limbs.  What's new with you?

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It drives me crazy when people post pictures of their pets ad nauseum.  My fondness for Marilee notwithstanding, I'm of the general feeling that a cat is a cat, and once you've seen one, you've (almost) seen them all.  So, of course I'm posting a picture here.  (Eric's going to be bugged if he reads that second sentence.)

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What a fun memory.

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My mom gave this to me years and years ago.  She started it as a gift for a friend, but soon found that it was so much work that she couldn't imagine herself giving it to anyone but one of her siblings or children.  I was the lucky designee.  Lucky, lucky, freaking lucky.  



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