December 30, 2012

2012 a Year in Review

     I always think that these type of posts are so similar to the letters you receive in holiday cards.  OOooo we did this, we went there and look how incredible my kids are. Yea not so much.  What I thought I would do is actually just look back through the year at what it really was...  an incredible roller coaster ride.  FYI Stroke survivors aren't supposed to ride roller coasters.

December 27, 2012

The Holidays' Three R's

Wrapping~ Relatives ~Religion
 Now before anyone gets their panties in a know and fusses that Wrapping starts with W and not R I remind you to think about the three R's of education Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.  OK moving on...
     Could you imagine this season without any of the three?  I recently read an article that compares the season to a Three Ring Circus.  I have to agree sometimes it gets crazy enough that you would think Barnum himself was behind it all.

What to do.....

     Let's just be honest right up front.  We all get gifts that we wish we hadn't.  I sincerely believe that everyone who gives a gift believes they have chosen well.  Before we get into my take on unwanted gifts I think we need to look into the psyche of those who bought you that weird thing.  Gifters I believe fall into four distinct categories.

December 26, 2012

So ...What'd you get??

     Remember being a kid and running to your friends in the neighborhood the day after Christmas?  All anyone could talk about was what they got.  Of course at the bottom of the list and actually very rarely talked about was the obligatory socks and heaven forbid underwear.

December 20, 2012

I Always Keep My Promises

 If you recall last month in my post Alabama Just S**ks and it is my fault  I was so disappointed at my inability to attend The University of Mobile's Christmas Spectacular performance.  WELL............

     Fox News has fallen under the spell of The University of Mobile's talent.  First shared by Fox Radio News personality Toddy Stearnes  on his blog the clip then aired on their programs  Friends First, Greta Van Susteren, The Five, Fox News & Commentary. and posted online on Fox Nation. They are calling the school's rendition of Carol of the Bells "Jaw-Dropping"!! It starts off with the Chamber Singers singing and playing hand bells then the orchestra takes over finishing with dueling guitars.  You can see Emily in the Chamber Singers on the right side, she's  playing two bells. Currently on YouTube The Carol of the Bells has over 50,000 hits since its post Monday.  An annual favorite performance during Christmas Spec is The Twelve Days of Christmas.  Fox News is calling this year's performance "An Epic Politically Incorrect Carol".  Each year the twelve men give a twist to the carol; this year included Chewbacca among other unexpected oddities.
     In addition to the airings on Fox News the performance can also be seen on WALA-FOX TV10 at 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Christmas Day. WHBR-TV33 will show it at 7 p.m. Dec. 22, 2 p.m. Dec. 23 and 9:30 p.m. Dec. 24; and it will be shown “at various times” on the Trinity Broadcast Network. It also will be aired internationally throughout the season on satellite stations Cornerstone TeleVision and The Walk TV [formerly Legacy TV).
 WOO HOO we're going Viral :)

December 12, 2012

We're going DEFCON (Squirrel Wars part 2)

It seems that I named Nadia appropriately:
 Nemesing* Animal Destroying Innocent Agriculture
Last week I shared how Nadia had attacked my Broccoli and Lettuce crops.  Well it seems she hadn't quite had her fill.  As you can see in the evidence presented here:

She not only ate all the leaves but actually scarfed down more than half of the plants themselves.  
With this last assault on my innocent vegetation it is clear the time for being nice is over.  In response to her first attack last week I covered the shelves with a frost blanket to keep them safe, unaware of her ability to burrow through the fabric to get what she wanted.  I received some interesting advice last week from my friend Sherri.  She told me about motion sensitive sprinklers that she uses to protect her yard from deer and other unwanted dinner guests.  Upon research I've learned there are a variety of choices, styles and of course price ranges.  The one I particularly likes is called the Scarecrow from Contech Inc.,.  This company actually has the profile of a menacing crow as part of the design which I find very entertaining.  Of course I had to search YouTube and find video proof of animals fleeing after activating the sprinkler which you can also giggle at.  This handy little soldier at the moment is most definitely on my wish list.  

What I also am not understanding is why NADIA is only assaulting my broccoli and lettuce.  Right around the corner is the last tomato plant of the season.  There are four glorious tomatoes slowly ripening.  Oh maybe that's it she doesn't like green tomatoes?  Picky little thing she is.
My plan is to cover the shelving unit with screening.  I'll glue the screening to the side supports, back and top.  For the front I'll glue the screening to the top triangle only and attach the rest to the side supports with clips so I can get access the plants. HMM considering the framing is metal maybe I could somehow electrify the frame as well (insert evil laugh).  With my luck I'd shock myself every time. Unfortunately it poured here yesterday and everything is soaking wet ~ thank heavens though all my rain barrels were empty!  So for now I am  just going to cover them by laying down screening on them weighted just enough so it won't blow off.  
Bring it on Nadia!!

*I know that this is not an actual word but it fits perfectly and remember this is MY WORLD :)

December 11, 2012

Rise of the Guardians ~ A Must See Even if you don't have kids

    For years the Muppet's Christmas Carol has been my favorite Christmas Movie, that title is in serious jeopardy!   If you haven't guessed I absolutely love Dreamwork's Holiday Release:

     Based on series The Guardians of Childhood by Academy, Emmy and many other award winning author William Joyce, this movie has something for children of all ages.  The premise is that The Man in the Moon has created Guardians (Santa and such) to protect the innocence of children.  Each of these Guardians are special in their own rite and come together to fight against any attempt to take away the hope and dreams of childhood. 
   We attended the movie on November 23, the first Friday after its release.  Making our viewing even more enjoyable was the very young children in the audience.  There were times when I believe I was watching the reaction of the toddler sitting next to us rather than the screen.  
     I'm always surprised with reviews of animated movies.  Very often they are trashed with complaints of the story line and character development.  While I do believe that all movies should be held to a certain standard I also believe it is important that reviewers remember who the target audience of a movie is.  With the sad quickness that children outgrow most of the childhood innocent fantasies so many of us embraced for years I absolutely love that this movie reinvented all of the main characters. Is this movie going to convert Santa non-believers? NO of course not, that is not the movie's purpose. This Santa is not the "bowl full of jelly" that is usually portrayed.  North, as Santa also called,  makes me think of a retired Marine or a viking gone soft; someone who seems rough and tough on the outside but will get down on the floor and play with a child.  You'll find Sandman, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy all reworked and just as endearing as Santa.  The Villain in this is Pitch, whose goal it is to make all the children of the world no longer believe in the Guardians.  I love how Joyce visually worked night-mares by actually having them be dark horses charging into children's dreams.  
     The cast for this movie was phenomenal : 
  • Chris Pine ~ Jack Frost 
  • Hugh Jackman ~ Bunnymund (E.B.)
  • Isla Fisher  ~ Tooth Fairy
  • Jude Law  ~ Pitch
  • Alec Baldwin ~ North (Santa)
     My favorite throughout the movie was the Elves.  Like many "extra" characters before them The Elves absolutely make this movie.  It was actually the previews with them that made me even more excited to see Guardians.  They provide so many of the burst-out-loud laughs that the movie would be incomplete without them. 
     I am quite confident that this movie will be a Christmas tradition for years to come.  Actually we'll probably be playing it as Easter as well (like I need an excuse).

December 10, 2012

Drive-throughs ~ Why don't I just give up

As Leo Getz from Lethal Weapon says: They always get you at the drive-through.  Ok he wasn't as PG when he said it. I am soo tired of it.
     Really how hard is it to get an order right?  It isn't as if you have unlimited choices when you order off a marquee and shout into a box!  Without fail I can guarantee you that my order is wrong 50% of the time.  The sad part is I order the same thing at every McDonald's so I can't blame it on a specific store.
    You would think I was ordering a burger cooked a special way or fries with no salt.  Nope it isn't anything that complicated.  The order that seems to completely baffle the employees is... UNSWEET TEA NO ICE.  That's it ~ a drink for heaven's sake.  Unlike my son who on occasion will ask them to make his Power-ade with half water, all they have to do for me is put the cup under the correct spout and pull. I can't blame the order taker because it shows on the screen when I confirm my order.
     I now have a ritual for making sure I get the right drink.  When I pull-up to the window I always smile and say hello.  As I am handed my drink I'll ask: That's UNSWEET right?  Now all I can think of is that there is a camera watching to see if they've made a mistake because no matter what they have put in my cup they always assure me that my order is correct.  Maybe they think that I'd prefer Sweet Tea if I'd just try it?  Well no matter what they say before I pull away I take a sip.  This of course means I have to open the straw first so precious seconds are ticking away.  Why they're surprised when I give them back the wrong Tea I just don't understand.  Usually they're very quick to blame the order taker even though they just told me it was Unsweet. Another quick response is that they gave me the wrong drink order ~ I really giggle at that one when there's no one behind me in the drive-through.
     Half the time it isn't just the drink they can't get right.  Not putting ice in a cup must send some kind of electrical shock through their system.  I can usually plan on my tea being nice and cool at room temperature, the worst that could happen is that I get (OH-NO) warm tea.... that works for me as well!!  Every now and then the window worker will tell me they just brewed the tea and asks would I like some ice.  On those rare occasions I call the store and compliment the employee; yeah I'm one of those people.  Now I get that there is no way for me to be able to tell if my Tea is Sweet or Unsweet but people come on~~~anyone and I do mean anyone who is able to hold their cup can tell if there is ice in their drink.
     Seriously I am not making this stuff up ~ Life is way too entertaining to need to do that.  Just today I went through and ordered a Happy Meal, one large UNSWEET TEA no ice and one Sweet no ice.  I'll deal with the Happy Meal issue in a minute.  I was talking with the guy as he handed me my food.  First drink handed over ice tinkling and I asked is this Sweet or Unsweet?  The look on his face said it all.  That's one Sweet the next one is Unsweet.  I can tell he's not thrilled as I start searching for the straws...BIG SURPRISE both were sweet.  Meg was OK with the ice in hers.  I hand him back mine and heard the usual excuses.  As I handed it back to him I ask him please remember no ice. I'm really hoping his inability to follow simple directions will have no bearing on his SAT scores.  I point out that he's handed me a drink with ice and his reply was "that's OK there's just a little".   At least this time it was Unsweet~ you know I checked it before I drove away.
     Onto the Happy Meal issue.  This is a pet peeve of mine and well while it may seem insignificant I think it is just plain rude and false advertisement.  My kids are way past the age of eating Happy Meals so if I am ordering one you can be sure it is because I WANT THE TOY!!  That's right the toy.  Currently McDonald's is advertising that with their Happy Meals you will get a toy from the new Christmas Movie Rise of the Guardians.  (Review on that tomorrow)  If you haven't seen any commercials, the elves are just adorable and I want the toy.  Now I understand that they run out of toys so I have no issue with that.  What bothers me is that they leave the signs up advertising the toys that are included in the Happy Meal.  Where's the truth in advertising?  Do they think a little girl is going to be happy with the left-over Power Ranger toy or a boy with a My Pretty Pony?   Where's the humanity????
If anyone wants the Power Ranger toy that came with my meal today let me know :(

December 6, 2012


 I've decided my Holiday issues are all President Roosevelt's fault!  Why he had to mess with Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation I just don't understand.  Lincoln had it right when in October of 1863, you know what he said it better than I can: "to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise".  In 1939 Roosevelt, succumbing to pressure from retailers wanting more than 24 shopping days before Christmas, moved the date that year from November 30th to November 23rd. People were in such an uproar that only 23 states moved the date, 23 states stayed with the 30th and 2 states couldn't decide so they actually celebrated two Thanksgivings that year.  Finally in 1941 Congress passed a law declaring Thanksgiving to be the 4th Thursday of every November.
     You might be wondering why did I just give you a history less some two weeks after Thanksgiving?  Because I am so behind on everything this year!! You'd think that with Thanksgiving being early that meant there would be extra time for Christmas preparation~ have you ready any of my blogs???  I had serious issues with the holiday being so early. It seemed they were playing Christmas music as soon as we turned the calendar to November.  The Christmas Tree Lots were up and running while turkeys were still defrosting (like a tree might really live long enough if you buy it before Thanksgiving).  UGGH the whole thing just put me off my game.
     So here it is already the end of the first week of December and what have I gotten done for the holiday???? NADA  That's right a big whopping zero.  Outside of a few gifts bought early on I haven't even done any real shopping.  OK my kids are all teens (oops sorry one twenty-year old as she keeps reminding me) and they basically just want gift cards BUT STILL.  Cards aren't signed, decorations aren't out, baking hasn't started, I'm just totally off my game.
    I firmly believe that the reason Roosevelt moved the holiday from the last to the fourth Thursday of November no longer holds any water.  The idea of retailers needing more shopping days is absolutely CRAZY.  If they respected the idea that the Christmas shopping season started AFTER Thanksgiving I might give them some credence however I dare you to find me one box store that doesn't start putting out Christmas decorations before the Halloween candy has been grabbed up by  trick or treaters.  Macy's Parade and the idea of escorting Santa in on Thanksgiving day is wonderful ~ had the Christmas songs not started before we all voted.  FYI according to a poll done by SOASTA 78% of Americans also think stores should refrain from playing Christmas music til after Thanksgiving.
    With all of that being said......

Royal Decree of 6 December 2012 concerning the return of Thanksgiving to the last Thursday in the month of November.
We BREN, by the grace of God and continuous medication, Lady of ALL, wife, mother to three children, two dogs and chickens
Believing the World would run better following my opinions and the Proclamation of the United States President Abraham Lincoln dated October 1863; 

Have approved and understand that:
 Article 1 
Starting with the year of our lord 2013, the American holiday of Thanksgiving shall be permanently moved to and celebrated on the last Thursday of November regardless of whether there are four or five Thursdays in said month
Article 2
Retailers shall acknowledge the consumer's ability to continue with their holiday shopping regardless of the music playing or the store's decorations.  Therefore said retailers shall refrain from the playing of holiday music as well as the displaying of candy canes, snowmen and any other holiday paraphernalia until Black Friday shopping commences
Article 3 
This Royal Decree will become active on the day after its publication and the inevitable acceptance by the United States Congress

The Royal Place in my Mind,
6 December 2012


December 3, 2012

Fun and games are over ~ this means war!!

     Last week I shared the antics of a  backyard squirrel Nadia.  To refresh your memory I commented on how much I fun I had sitting in the backyard watching the animals enjoying our treats.  I thought it was so cute watching one specific furry little rodent attack the sunflower.  Well that little love fest is over and I'm out for blood!

    Today while I was out watering our plants I discovered that my generous offering of sunflowers and feeder corn wasn't enough for the local furry thieves.  The only excuse I can up with for the attack they've launched on my greens is that after all the protein they need some ruffage (or roughage depending upon where you live), or maybe they're on a diet.  Remember my beautiful pots of lettuce and how proud I was that we'd have salad greens for weeks on end~ NOT ANYMORE!!
What I don't understand is that they didn't eat from the full grown leaves but rather attacked the baby lettuce :(  They even munched on my one and only spinach plant.  If you look closely you can see the teeth marks.  With that I could get a forensic odontologist to get the exact furry little thief. Why they would feel the need to completely eat some roots and all is beyond me.
    It gets worse! The lettuce wasn't even enough.... they attacked my freshly re-potted broccoli as well.  I don't even know if the attacked plants will continue to grow now that their crowns have been attacked.  The broccoli they ate wasn't even mature as you can see by the ones they left untouched.   I really don't want to transfer them to the greenhouse as it isn't necessary and I think it would actually hurt the plants.  Tonight I am going to throw a frost blanket over the entire frame and hope that will keep the critters away.  UGGHH  I thought this container gardening would mean less critters.  I didn't realize I was creating an all you can eat salad bar!!
    Any advice?  In the meantime here's the solution I'm pursuing:

November 29, 2012

Alabama just s**ks** and it is my fault

  OK I take that back.  The state of Alabama doesn't suck nor does the University of Alabama ~ Roll Tide Roll.  What sucks is that my daughter attends school in Mobile, Alabama which is 7 hours away.
     I encouraged my daughter to attend a school far away.  I believe that not being able to come home at the drop of a hat helps to foster a stronger sense of independence.  When I went to school I specifically searched for a college that was as far away from home as possible that allowed me to keep my state scholarship.  SUNY Geneseo was my home away from home for 5 years and the best decision I made.  Unlike my parents who never visited until Senior Year I am an involved parent who is used to supporting my children and their activities. Being 7 hours away this weekend especially sucks :(
     This weekend the University of Mobile kicks off the Christmas season with an incredible concert known as Christmas Spectacular.  For three nights, the school takes over the 3,000+ seat Dauphin Baptist Church with this incredible performance.  The free tickets are usually gone within the first week of their availability in late October.
    2012 will be the 10th anniversary of this concert and has drawn national attention.  Renowned Nashville director Steven Yakes will film Christmas Spectacular 2012 for a television special that will air later in the month on several national satellite stations and local stations according to the school's website. Many alumni are returning to perform.
     If you haven't figured it out yet I CAN'T GO.  I feel like crap.  I've attended the concert the last two years and was planning on going again this weekend.  Life of course has since intervened and I can't make the trip.  We only found this out today.  Poor hubby had to call Emily this afternoon and break the news.  To say it went over like a lead balloon would be an understatement.  Usually I would make the drive myself but after a week of migraines that's really not an option.
     I don't think there is anything worse in the parenting world than disappointing one of your kids. That feeling of failure cuts so deeply.  I'm all for kids learning life lessons and such but not at my expense.  Will she survive ~ of course.  Is this going to send her over the edge ~ not even remotely.    When you choose to attend school far away the one of the most difficult parts is the loneliness that comes from not having "anyone" near by.  Are there going to be friends and such there to cheer her on, most certainly.  But there isn't going to be anyone there JUST for her.  Oh how I wish I had a private plane on call.
You know once I find out the satellite stations that will be airing the special I'll be sharing it with you.  Well for now all I can do is assure myself that she knows she is loved and that we would be there if we could.  ~Wonder how much chocolate I'll need to survive this guilt??

Here's a favorite from the concert 2 years ago I found on YouTube


November 27, 2012

Can't get much fresher

     Gardening is something that I'd like say I'm pretty good at.  The reality is that my enthusiasm is usually met with limited success.  However this year we've taken a new approach and I must say my success rate is increasing.
     In the past I think we've set our goals a bit too high.  I believe it could best be summed up as why only do one when you can do so much more??  Instead of easing our way into gardening we attacked like a SWAT team unfortunately our results were more along the lines of the Keystone Cops.  That's not to say we didn't enjoy the fruits veggies of our labor, but our yields definitely didn't match our efforts.  Until this year!!
     We decided to go smaller, much smaller.  Instead of four 16-square. foot boxes we opted for container gardening.  Finally our thumbs were beginning to change a slight shade of green.  Our most successful endeavor was the easiest and the most cost saving.  As you know we've been trying to eat healthier.  Unfortunately eating healthier costs much more than well NOT!!  Especially when it comes to salads.  We were dropping almost $20 a week on salad greens and such.  Well not anymore:

    We hit a clearance sale at Wal-mart and got 4 of these 22" window boxes for $4 each.  We have our own compost bins so the enriched soil was free.  One packet of mixed salad green seeds (also on clearance for 25 cents) and just a few weeks later ~Salad!!  Now for once I thought about the future and planned.  Instead of planting all 4 boxes at the same time I planted one every other week.  We had steamed shrimp salad for dinner the other night. I only needed to harvest half of a planter to fill three large bowls for dinner.   By cutting the lettuce and leaving approximately one inch of the plant behind the lettuce should be large enough to harvest again in the next 4 weeks.  If I do this right I believe we'll have fresh salad for months!!

 I'm also giving Broccoli a try this year.  I got a 9 pack of seedlings for only $1.99, there were actually 11 plants as two pods each had two plants ~ freebies I'll take any time. Last time I checked fresh Broccoli was $2.49 lb so even if only half of my plants survive I'm way ahead of the game.  I transplanted them about three weeks ago; looks like it is time to put them into bigger pots soon.  By using our compost the plants are always being fed whenever we transplant them into larger pots.
 Our other container success this year was this pepper plant.  We grabbed it at Sam's Club of all places and it has been producing spicy red peppers since June.  We're going to try and figure out a way to make a "greenhouse" of sorts to put around the entire plant hoping to prolong its life.  Did you know that squirrels like spicy peppers?   We have to harvest the peppers quickly or we lose them to those furry beasts.

    I have to tell you that having the lettuce planter on the table looked really pretty.  Which gave me this idea:
   I'm thinking of planting 8 or so small pots of lettuce and using them for a luncheon.  I'd put one pot at every place with a pair of scissors.  All of the salad fixings would be on the table and everyone would make a fresh salad.  At the end of the meal each guest would leave with a pot full of growing salad to take home with them.
 ~ What do you think?

November 26, 2012

Backyard Entertainment

     It is pretty much common knowledge that I am easy to entertain.  Just this past week I have spent more time than I'd like to admit sitting out back giggling to myself or anyone nearby... OK usually to myself.  Between the dogs, birds and squirrels it has been a nature channel comedy zone.
     We love feeding birds and have quite the buffet offering for them in the backyard.  Our feeding station includes various styles of feeders so birds of all sizes can partake.  We also try to offer different seeds throughout the year.  Upon first setting up our system we put a baffle on both the top and the bottom to stop the squirrels from raiding the feeder.  We very quickly learned that the squirrels in our yard were members of the local gymnastic team and could leap and twist their bodies across amazing distances (3 feet) to out-maneuver the baffle.  In response we trimmed the trees and bushes nearby thus ending our sponsoring the local gymnastic tournament.
Sunflower after having a few visitors
The corn far away from birdfeeders
     Things were fine until this year.  I do think it is my fault because I upped the ante.  Recently I spent the weekend in Helen, Georgia and while visiting a farm-stand I bought dried sunflowers to hang for the birds AND feeder corn cobs for the squirrels.   However my generosity was short lived and the squirrels decided that they didn't want no stinking dried corn.  OH NO they wanted the sun flowers. I have since learned that squirrels not only enjoy the seeds but the entire flower head as well. One squirrel in particular was extremely determined to enjoy all that the sunflower had to offer.   I didn't really mind but just couldn't figure out how the squirrels were getting to it.  So I sat and waited for their return ~ that's right I stalked a squirrel. And I'm so glad I did.

     This squirrel, whom I nick-named Nadia, made my day.  She had me laughing so much I really didn't care that she was eating my sunflower.  The maneuvers she went through to eat that flower were nothing short of amazing.  I knew how smart these animals were but I never really gave much thought to their problem solving skills.  The suet feeder you see her straddling was her first obstacle.  It kept spinning around and flipping her off (which I wish I had a picture of b/c that was hilarious) every time she was about to get situated.  After about 4-5 times of this happening she took a different approach.  Now my crew says it just happened but I'm believing Nadia figured this out.  She landed on the top of the suet cage and kept walking on it, like a clown walking on a ball, until it locked in place.  Once she had that handled she began swinging to reach the flower.  It only took her a few failed attempts of trying to grab the flower before she switched gears and swung out for the hook that it was attached to.  While she's eating, bits and pieces are falling to the ground.  Within minutes birds are happy eating at the droppings which doesn't seem to bother Nadia until another squirrel starts joining in.  Nadia, it turns out, doesn't like sharing.  She first started barking at her unwanted dinner guest.  When that proved inefficient she jumped down then chased the other squirrel away.  Nadia returned within a few minutes and was happily eating away at the sunflower when with no notice the two of them crashed onto the ground.  It seems that Nadia had been eating away where the sunflower was connected to the hook ~ whoops.  Once the flower was on the ground she was not going to share it with anyone and even chased some hungry birds away.  I can only guess that she thought it would be better to take the flower home to explain what happened next.  Nadia started dragging the entire flower into the bushes, or as we call it ~ The Jungle of Elephant Ears.  I thought she'd just hide out and eat the flower in there.  Well if I didn't see it myself and have the pictures to prove it I'd never believe what she did next.
Nadia carried the sunflower up the tree.                                                                    
So yes I spent probably 30 minutes staring out of my dining room window watching this crazy squirrel and I'm proud of it.  Who needs cable TV when you have critters like this in the backyard?Have I told you we have crazy chickens? 


November 16, 2012

I just love Libraries

     It is no great secret how much I love books so it isn't surprising that I love Libraries. Growing up our town's library was a weekly stop.  I never realized how incredibly fortunate I was with our library.  It wasn't until I moved away that I discovered very quickly how not every library was as friendly and welcoming as the one back home.
     It is very possible that I may have been spoiled by my home library and the incredible staff there.  I realize that over the years the role a library has played in communities has changed.  No longer are students pouring over encyclopedia's for research material.  There's no need to run to the library for the next book in a series when they can be so easily purchased on-line.  With the introduction of eBay in the mid 90's we were able to buy boxes of books for pennies on the dollar and then resell them when our kids out-grew them (OK I'm really bad at the reselling part).  Now with so many people turning to e-readers and buying digital versions of books I wonder how many families will never even visit a library? That thought makes me sad for them.
         I loved walking into the library and being greeted by name.  I knew that if I couldn't find the answer to something Mr. Marve at the research desk was always able to help and if he couldn't find the answer immediately I'd hear from him as soon as he did.  Looking back I can easily see that it was in the children's department that I discovered what an important part books were in my life:  reading the Beatrix Potter books in their green covers; loving the picture books even when I was "too old"; discovering Louisa May Alcott.   They had such an impact on my life that my first nursery was decorated in Beatrix Potter's characters, Meg's name is from Little Women, and I believe the summer I spent working the Children's Reading Program was the stepping stone to teaching preschool.
     I recently discovered that I could join Alachua County's Library for free (unlike Duval which would charge for non-residential use).  I can't tell you how impressed I am with their system.  Now I love my libraries here in Clay County however they could really learn some things from their neighbor.  I've been to three different branches and each time I checked out the librarian noticed I was a new member then asked if I had any questions, would I like a tour and did I see their activity board?  Obviously someone in management believes that customer service is of the utmost importance.  More than once I saw Librarians walking around simply engaging people in the stacks.
One thing I absolutely love is their website.  On it you have the option to keep a reading history of everything you've checked out.  You can also create "lists".  For someone like me who can barely remember what I ate for lunch yesterday I love that I can go in and create lists for my favorite authors and keep track of books I read even if I didn't check them out of their library!
     Without a doubt I can tell you I'd be lost without a library.  At least once a week I'm there using the computers to kill time between appointments.  I don't think there's a library today without a video department where you can usually find the classics right next to the latest release.  For fun I thought I'd try and figure out how much I would have spent on all the books I've "heard" just this year along and let's just say it is well into 4 digits.
     I understand that with today's budget cuts that libraries everywhere are getting hit hard.  However I believe if communities would view their libraries as their heart and soul and use it to that effort not only can their usage increase but their importance would as well.  It is fun seeing kids heading to the library with their arms full of creations for the monthly Lego club meeting.  I wish that instead of cutting hours, as our county has had to do, we find clubs and organizations that can use the facility for meetings in the morning or evening so hours could be extended.  Once a community realizes the true importance of their library they'd never allow services to be cut.
    It is my desire that everyone who calls themselves a reader is an active member of their local library.  I also hope everyone is as lucky as I was to have a great library in their neighborhood.
Shout outs to the great librarians of my past:
Mr. Marve~Mrs. Johns~Mrs. Clark~Ms. Miskowski


November 8, 2012

Curiosity vs Concern

     Well thank heavens I am not a cat because with my curiosity I would have been dead a long time ago.  This last week I really struggled with feelings of curiosity and concern.  Can you be curious without feeling that you should be concerned?
     It is no great secret that I am estranged from my mother and sister (who are also estranged from each other ~ gotta love dysfunctional families).  The last time we talked was shortly after the passing of my dad so it has been approximately 9 - 10 years.  We have no interaction whatsoever.  I have no clue if she keeps tabs on me and my family, I don't think so.  I keep no tabs on her.  So with all of that being said I'll be honest that this last week my curiosity as to her welfare has been peaked.
     I grew up on Long Island and my mother still lives in our family home in Bay Shore.  We've checked in on family and friends who still reside there and are glad that everyone is safe.  Like most other Long Islanders they were struggling with power outages and a few had major damage to their homes. Seeing pictures of the disaster was heartbreaking knowing many favorite childhood places were destroyed.  So is it really all that surprising that I would be curious about how my family home fared?
     This was a great struggle for me.  My mother is over 80 and as far as I know lives on her own. Like many houses of its age there is only one bathroom and that is upstairs with the bedrooms.  My father installed a wood-burning stove so I wasn't horribly concerned about heat. The house has a basement (what I wouldn't give to have a basement again) and while I remember it flooding a few times while growing up I am sure what Sandy may have done wouldn't even compare.
     So there lies the struggle.... am I curious or concerned?  I know that I am not going to inherit anything in the house so my questions aren't fueled by greed over having lost anything of value.  I know that my sister  lives close enough that if a dire emergency arose she could intervene, if she chose to.  I have always said that despite our relationship or lack there of I genuinely hope that she is happy and healthy.  So is it OK to be curious about someone you used to be concerned about?
     Very often people tend to reach out after times of crisis.  Whether you are the person surviving the crisis or someone aware of what you are going through.  We live in this world where just about everything that goes on in our lives is instantly shared so when you can't find something out it is very frustrating.  I have learned that very often the relationships that are either reconnected or formed during a crisis tend to fizzle out once that crisis is resolved.
   Here we are one week later.  While I am still curious as to how she and the house weathered Sandy and the snowstorm I am comfortable feeling that way.  Curiosity while harmful to the proverbial cat isn't going to kill me.  In fact I think it would be weird if I wasn't curious.  I know that I have absolutely no desire to open any type of relationship with my mother so that means no communication whatsoever.  I do sincerely hope that she is safe and the house remains a safe haven for her.
   With all that being said I would not pass up any first hand information
Sorry couldn't resist

November 7, 2012

Losing Fat Loving Food Friday (whoops) Wednesday

     So I just couldn't seem to get this written until today~ we'll blame it on the beautiful fall weather we are currently enjoying here in Florida,. and mind you we don't get to enjoy fall weather very often.
     Last week I maintained my weight which I'll admit was a bit disappointing but  these things happen.  However I did want to share with my my newly discovered "hobby" of sorts.  for the last 4 weekends I have risen early on Saturday mornings, which in of itself is pretty incredibly in itself.  The reason behind my no longer sleeping in has been so that we can get up and out and head to a state park for a hike.  You read that right I've been hiking.
     My family has enjoyed going to the The Ravine Gardens for a number of years.  There is a 1.8  mile paved loop off of which there are numerous trails which take you down into the ravine as well as along the spring-fed stream and  2 suspension bridges that Treasure needed much coaxing to walk over.  When the kids were younger one of their favorite activities during our visit was stopping at each of the fitness stations along the trail that offered different stretching and cardiovascular conditioning exercises.

     After passing it for years we finally visited Gold Head Branch State Park for the first time.  Unlike The Ravines at Gold Head Branch the trails are not paved.  We enjoyed two of the hikes featured and look forward to going back and doing more.
     While I do not drive on I-75 into Georgia often whenever I do I am always tempted to pull off and visit the State Farmers Market that's advertised.  DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME  We decided to make a day trip of it envisioning bringing home apples as the case I brought home from Georgia is near gone.  The Florida State Farmers Market was not at all what we thought it would be.  It actually is for Farmers' to bring in their crops to sell to major distributors.  There was one gentlemen there with a stand selling some very sad looking produce.  However I was determined not to let the trip be a waste so we ventured one more exit north and discovered Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park.  The weekend we visited there were no events going on so the park was pretty empty.  We spent over two hours walking different trails enjoying all that nature had to offer.  A fun surprise was stumbling onto the small farm that housed goats and an emu.  After a few minutes Treasure was pretty convinced she could take her on~ thank heavens the emu wasn't interested in us at all.
     It really is amazing all that there is do once you start looking.  This weekend we are hoping to get over to Camp Milton Historic Preserve here in Jacksonville.  Who knew we had this amazing Civil War Fort right in our back yard?

October 30, 2012

There's no room at the Library

     Can you believe it?  I couldn't find a parking spot today at the Library!  I felt a bit like a stalker driving around until I saw someone walking to their car then snagging the spot.  As if that wasn't enough when I walked up to the doors I saw there was actually a line going around the building?  A sense of pride washed over me as I realized these people were standing in line on a chilly Tuesday afternoon so they could vote early!!
     With the election just one week away I am not going to jump on the political bandwagons out there.  There are enough people spewing sharing their views one way or another and my voice, as glorious as it is, isn't needed.  All I want to do is encourage you to vote.
       I remember when parents headed to the local school all hours of election day; which is probably why we had off that day, to vote.  I first heard of absentee ballots while I was in college.  The reality was in the 80's there wasn't a real push to engage college aged voters and getting absentee ballots weren't all that easy so I missed the 1984 presidential election. Since 1988 I'm proud to say I've never missed a presidential election and very rarely have I missed any opportunity to vote.
    This will be the first presidential election that my two oldest children will be able to vote in.  I love how engaged they both are seeking out answers to their questions and discovering which candidate is best for them.One will be voting by mail from Alabama and the other wants to wait until election day to vote.
     Here in Florida I can't imagine the Supervisor of Elections making the process any easier (note me swiftly side-stepping all the voter id issues). We have 7 days, including a Sunday, to vote early.  You can vote anywhere in your county, at which site is most convenient for you.  Don't think you can make it to the poll? You can request an absentee ballot up until 5pm on October 31st~ no questions asked.  As far as I am concerned nobody has an excuse for not voting in the Sunshine State.
     What does amaze me is that not every state offers early voting.  According to the National Conference of State Legislators (check out their cool map) 32 states and the District of Columbia offer early voting.  Two states, Washington and Oregon do all of their voting my mail (learned something new today). As far as absentee voting goes 27 states and DC will mail a registered voter one no questions asked while the remaining 21 require a qualified excuse.  Finally 7 states offer permanent absentee voting for their residents who meet qualifications.
   So whether you consider yourself Conservative, Liberal, Republican, Democrat or simply confused like me please be sure to cast your vote in this presidential election.  'Cause like my Dad used to say:
 If you don't vote you can't gripe

October 29, 2012

What more do you need?

I really do not understand drivers today.  Not too long ago I shared my bewilderment over the clueless folks I see on a weekly basis getting pulled over in school zones.  Today I have to add that well simply put some people are just plain STUPID.  
Honestly that has to be the reason because what more do you need than the sign above to make you obey the speed limit?   I can't even cut any slack because 3.5 miles later there's another sign warning you:

I have yet to pass though Waldo without seeing some idiot receiving a ticket!  The city of Waldo (it is so tiny calling it a city seems much) ranks as Florida's Worst Speed Trap according to National Motorists Association.  Personally when driving through this town I go 5 mph below the speed limit, I do not change lanes unless I have to and if I do my signal is on before crossing lanes.  
This got me thinking though ~shouldn't we be driving this vigilantly all the time?  I'm not saying we should drive in fear of getting pulled over for the slightest infraction.  However shouldn't we be as cautious as possible at all times?  In no way shape or form can I say that I always obey the speed limit.  I'm a stay in the flow of traffic kind of gal.  I'll admit to having received a speeding ticket while driving through Emporia, Virginia years ago which I deserved but not at the rate the officer wrote, the worst part is I knew that was a speed trap area but it was late at night and well getting to NY for an emergency was heavy on my mind.  
I strongly believe that texting and driving should be illegal.  Not so sure where I stand on the cell phone issue if using a hands-free set.  Currently neither is illegal in the state of Florida despite multiple attempts to pass a bill. For some reason these bills continue to die after being read in the Transportation and Safety Subcommittee but then all are referred to the Economics Committee (gotta love politics)

So readers please please please I beg of you.  Should you have to travel on FL301 through the town of Waldo please heed their speed limit signs. You really don't want their favorite souvenir.

October 27, 2012

Losing Fat Loving Food Fridays 10/26

     Think I have finally settled on a name for this weekly post that I like ~ hope you do too!

    I am very excited to share that I have crossed a threshold on my weight loss journey.  As of yesterday's weigh in I am down:

To try and give you an idea of what thirty pounds is ~
Cocoa a cow from Stonyfields Organic Farm weigh 30lbs when she was born.

I didn't discover any new glorious food to share with you this week. However last I did try a new breakfast recipe that was a huge hit.  I, of course, tweaked it a bit and think you'll really enjoy it:
Original version 5 PP+ Updated 7PP+

2 tsp olive oil canola oil
1 large green pepper sliced
1 large red pepper sliced 
1 tsp minced garlic
4 6 large eggs
3 6 egg whites (fed puppies extra yolks)
salt and pepper to taste
1 TBSP Italian seasoning
4 low calorie hamburger buns
6 ciabatta rolls

  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and pepper; saute until tender and light golden, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Set vegetables aside.
  • In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, egg whites, salt and pepper. Scramble in same skillet over medium heat until almost cooked, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Add vegetables back to skillet and gently mix; continue scrambling until eggs are set but not dry, about 30 seconds to 1 minute more.
  • Divide filling onto 6 buns. Yields 1 sandwich per serving.

October 22, 2012

Don't Let The Skinny Girl Cook

    I don't know about you but when I plan on going away for a girls weekend the last thing on my mind is making sure everything I eat will make any nutritionist jump for joy.  Not that I am saying every meal should be a feast reminiscent of Thanksgiving however people I want some food I can grab onto.  Especially if I am spending the day pretending to be an outdoorsy type person.
     OK yes I am currently on weight watchers ~ and doing quite well I may add.  No where in my plan did I expect to come back from a 4 day retreat in the mountains with 9 other husband-less/childless for the weekend women having lost weight.  Heck if I came home having gained less than 2 pounds my plans were successful.  In fact when I told my WW leader where I was headed she admitted that every time she spends time in the Helen, GA area SHE gains weight enjoying local fare.
   You should have seen the food that we brought this weekend in addition to the supplies for dinner.  A pack of hungry teenagers would have been impressed with the amount of snack foods we amassed.  We had all major food groups covered: Chips, Chocolates and Cookies. I actually felt guilty that all I had brought was a  bag of butterfingers.  In addition to the 3 C's there were even healthy snack choices with a variety of fruits, granolas and such to choose from as well.
***At this time it is important for me to just come right out and say that I was the heaviest person on this trip.  Most of the remaining 9 women are incredibly healthy and active.  I admit that chances are my views on the food are maybe not coming from the healthiest standpoint***
    The plans were to spend the days out enjoying all that fall in North Georgia had to offer.  The first day my group hiked Tallulah Falls, which was incredible ~ more on that adventure another time.  We then hit a farmer's stand, enjoyed lunch in town and walked around the annual Oktoberfest.  The other group had spent the day zip-lining and hiking.  We were to all meet back for a dinner of Brunswick Stew and cornbread.  The crock-pot that was brought along should have been my first clue that things were going to be interesting.
     Before I go any further I have to acknowledge how incredibly generous it was of Skinny Minnie to offer to not only do all of the basic food shopping for our trip but to cook all 3 dinners and our picnic lunch.  Skinny Minnie's family lives an incredibly healthy lifestyle and her shopping/cooking reflects that.  I am quite confident that I will never see her grace the inside of a weight watchers meeting.
     When we returned Friday evening none of us were incredibly hungry which wound up being a very good thing. The group of 5 that had arrived earlier nearly ate all of that evening's stew.  I'm guessing that when Skinny Minnie was planning to feed 10 women she was thinking about the portions she serves and eats at home.  No one was minding portions this weekend.  It didn't take long for the grazing of the snacks to commence.
     Saturday while packing up for the picnic lunch it was evident that healthy snacking on fruits and veggies had taken a back seat to their unhealthy counter-parts.  The plan that day was to have a picnic at Unicoi State Park park followed by an intense hike.  After submitting my body to a hike on Friday and wanting to be able to drive home Sunday without the aid of life-support I opted out of the hike and volunteered to use up the untouched healthy snacks to make salads to accompany the night's dinner of Chili.
     Chili is one of those foods that is truly reflective of its' cook's style.  Depending on where you live your chili may or may not have beans in it.  Fresh tomatoes verses canned verses none at all.  Some cooks' chili require a personal fire extinguisher others seem a step above ketchup.  One thing I think most people will agree upon is that chili should be something that is thick, hearty and warms your soul. I'll be honest I've never really thought about making a lighter version of chili, Skinny Minnie did.  I have the same crock-pot that she does.  When I make Chili in it I'm lucky to serve my family of 5 (OK I have a teenage boy which counts as two I guess) 6, and have enough for hubby to take for lunch twice.  I make a rich meat and bean chili, while I use fresh vegetables you really can't find them once everything gets going.
     I stopped on my way back to get supplies for homemade bread so the chili had been cooking for a few hours when I got back and did smell wonderful when I returned but not what I expected.  Skinny Minnie's version of Chili and mine definitely were not lining up.  The crock-pot, not even full,  was bubbling with what I would consider a rich soup.  Bits of veggies were floating on top of a flavorful broth.  When I stir my chili my forearms are getting a work-out, not so much Saturday night.  I thought maybe if I put it into a pot and cook it down some it would get thicker, however I quickly discovered that if I did that there wouldn't be enough to feed 6 people not 10 hungry hikers so I left things alone.
    Do you know how hard it is to respect someone else's cooking?  I'll admit I had never thought about it before.  Years back while working during a church camp I was so lucky to be assisting a woman whose kitchen talent was incredible.  She taught me short-cuts, recipes and tricks that I rely on to this day.  I'd like to think that she even learned one or two things from me but I'm hard pressed to think what they could have been.  Working with her and following her recipe was easy b/c she was right there if I had a question or suggestion.  So when I found myself wanting to doctor Minnie's chili Saturday I really struggled with those thoughts.  In the end I decided not to change anything because in the long run it was her Chili we were serving that night, even if I did think it was more of a soup LOL.
         Did anyone complain about the food? What are you nuts of course not!! It was good and nutritious and most importantly someone else did the cooking. Next time I hope we had let the fat girl do the cooking ~ oops that would be me!!


September 28, 2012

Losing Fat Friday

     Well I am not sure this title is any better than last week's. What do you think?  I am sure that there are going to be weeks that the scale is not always going to be headed in the right direction and boy would that title hurt then... moving on.

     Amazingly I actually lost 1.2 pounds this week. Old habits die hard and I'm a stress eater. This week was absolute proof that this is something I am going to struggle with for a long time to truly get under control.  Monday I ate not only my allotted daily points (43) and all of the 49 extra points we get every week but also the 3 activity points I earned and beyond.... think I was stressed?  It isn't as if we can plan on when we are going to stress eat and Monday proves just that. I had scheduled a roasted veggie salad for dinner ~ very low in points.  So before I even walked through the door at Chili's half of my daily allotted points were gone between breakfast, lunch and a snack. Despite drinking most of the points that night (dang those Long Island Iced Teas will get you one way or another) I was a bit proud of how I handled the food.  We didn't take the free unlimited chips and salsa, as I knew that would just add to my being even more out of control with the food.  Even though Chili's does offer a couple of entrees under 750 calories I did NOT want salad or grilled chicken.  We started off with our favorite Appetizer, their Triple Dipper, which came with 2 sliders, 3 loaded potato skins and 8 boneless buffalo wings.  That dish, including the three dipping sauces that come with it, is over 60 Points and for those unfamiliar with Weight Watchers over 2500 calories!! I'll admit that in the past we would have that and then split an entree.  Monday was no different. We ordered the Fajitas for our entree and when it came I didn't even want it.  Michael, who wasn't drinking one for one with me as someone had to be the designated driver, could barely finish the small one he made.  The kids were certainly happy when we brought home, which was almost a complete Triple fajita dinner that they gladly consumed quite quickly despite having eaten dinner, ah to be a teenager  So despite my completely blowing the day it wasn't as bad as it could have been,
     I wouldn't recommend anyone to eat like this on a regular basis and expect to lose weight weekly.  What I do believe is that this proves even when you do have an absolutely horrible, throw the plan out the window, points who cares about points day, the week is not a total loss.  The important thing is to get back on track the next day you can and will be successful.  That's the wonderful thing I am loving about Weight Watchers~ every day is a fresh start.

     This week's food find was a personal creation.  I absolutely loved the Strawberry Poppy Seed Chicken Salad that Panera had this summer and with it being only 6 points (w/o dressing) I ate it at least twice a week. I was recently crushed to learn that it is seasonal and no longer being offered :( Their fall offering is a Roasted Turkey Harvest Salad. I have now eaten this twice and just can't embrace it.  To start off with I'm not a huge Turkey person.  I dislike turkey so much that the only day I cook one is on Thanksgiving and then it's usually the smallest I can find.  Secondly the salad is 14 points!!! HOLY SHAMBOLI!!  The reason being they've added cheese and dried fruits to this salad which are high in points.  However it was not a complete  loss as I absolutely loved the dressing they used ~ cherry balsamic vinaigrette.
     I recently learned that Target carries Panera dressings, however this flavor I couldn't find.  FYI you'll find the dressings in the refrigerated section.  Not to be dismayed I was determined to create a version of the harvest salad at home for dinner.   Thinking that this was probably no different than the raspberry vinaigrette we all love I went to the frozen food section and grabbed a small bag of frozen pitted cherries.  Once home I made my basic balsamic vinaigrette, OK it is actually Emeril's. I then added half the bag of cherries and placed it in the microwave for 5 minutes @ 50%.  I removed the dressing and smashed the cherries a bit and cooked it for another 5 minutes @ 50%.  I'm a big low and slow cooker even with my microwave.  I then placed the dressing in the blender and blended until smooth.  This yielded almost 2 cups of dressing.  Knowing we wouldn't eat it all and not sure how well it would keep I used 1 1/2 cups as a marinade on the chicken.  I prefer to cook with skinless chicken thighs and this was more than enough to cover the 6 pieces I had.  I'm proud to announce this was very successful, so much in fact the family would like it to be a weekly salad night offering (woo-hoo).
     I also wanted to mention my new fascination with froze as a whole.  Like many households I usually have some frozen fruit on hand for smoothies and other various (possibly alcoholic) drinks.  These last few weeks I've been using them regularly for my morning yogurt and granola breakfast.  Chances are many of you are shaking you heads thinking DUH where have you been and I totally agree it was a duh moment when I realized what I was missing out on.  Instead of putting the fruit in the freezer when I get home it goes straight into the fridge.  Over the next couple of mornings I get to spoon juicy, glorious berries into my bowl!  After my success with the Cherry Dressing I am considering playing with other frozen fruits and seeing what I can come up with.

   So all in all a pretty good week.  I'll admit to being a bit disappointed when my loss was 1.2 but that's only because if it had been 1.4 that would have meant I hit the 30 pound mark!!! Here's to getting another 5 pound star next week :)

September 20, 2012

First Foodie(Fat Loss) Friday

HMM not sure if I am married to this title for my Friday posts but for this week we'll say it is a go, any suggestion is welcome
   Last night was weigh-in at Weight Watchers and I am proud to announce that I am down another
1.8 pounds Woo Hoo!!  What I found funny is that the bag of grapes I bought today weighed almost that exact amount ~ and I was looking for the biggest bag. Okay so it is not as dramatic as last week's 4.6 pounds but I will take it just the same.
Here's some facts from my week:

  • I learned that I can buy 1 petit four at a time from Publix's bakery.  Costing only 69 cents believe me when I tell you they are absolutely worth the 3 points.  I've been enjoying the WW treats as well as Skinny Cow's offerings.  But let's be honest nothing tastes as good as real cake and frosting.  I know myself and I can't buy even "just" a slice as well simply put there'd be no sharing possible just the sound of wind gushing by as I inhaled the whole thing. BTW Chocolate is my favorite not wasting the 3 points on anything that's not incredible
  • I am still struggling with my late-night eating.  Some people will get this others won't.  I'm not talking about eating at 10pm.  It is the waking up at 230am knowing exactly what you are going to devour and hide the evidence eating I've done most of my adult life.  As in any War it is important to have a Battle Plan and so far it seems to be working.  Before bed I make myself a container of fruit.  This week grapes and cantaloupe were on sale so that's what we've been eating.  I also grab a package of Granola Bars.  The first couple of nights I ate everything.  The last few nights haven't touched the Granola Bars.  As far as Weight Watchers goes fruit counts a 0 points so not a bad trade off.
  • As far as recipes go this week I tried a Biscuit for our Tuesday night Breakfast for Dinner and it was a great hit!! Somehow I lost the recipe I actually used but found this one and have it on my Breakfast for Dinner Board  What made these Biscuits incredible was the "folding process".  Before you let the dough set-up/cool down you folded it into thirds, it is just prior to this that you add the bacon and cheese....OMG they were so good.  My batch yielded 12 biscuits each being 5 Points.  Seeing as I am still in the 40 points a day range I had 3 of these.  With my eggs and fruit salad I was definitely satisfied
Overall I'd have to say it was a pretty good week.  I know that in the very near future I am going to have to add some sort of activity but I'm just not there yet.
I'll leave you with this thought for now~

So what have you been up to?

 .      This summer as I mentioned earlier this week, truly seemed to fly by.  It wasn't that I had a whirlwind of a summer or even went on a long vacation.  But I'm guessing now that the kids are older summers truly aren't what they used to be.   I think we figured that everyone was home for maybe 3 weeks of "Official Summer". We did wind up having one childless week as all three volunteered as counselors at a camp. And I must say it was quite nice not having to write a check for camp this year ~ woo hoo.
     Reflecting back I can't really say I even accomplished or completed anything major this summer and you know what I am perfectly OK with that.  I believe this new laid back attitude of mine is helping in my recovery as I have had less stressed-out/migraine episodes. So yeah.
    While doing "nothing" I did however seem to devour books.  I still am having trouble on the reading side so all of my books were audio versions.  I think I completely read all that my library system offered on two different authors.  I really am running out of option though so if you have anyone you particularly like that writes suspense or historical fiction please let me know.  I have added a page to my pinterest board just for my audio books. Though now that I've looked at it there are a bunch missing... guess what I'm doing once this is posted.
     One thing hubby and I did get into this summer was COCKTAILS. How is it that I didn't know such a thing as watermelon or strawberry vodka existed?  (head shake ~ I know how sad).  Well I made up for lost time.  We were buying a bottle every other (OK sometimes every) weekend.  With hundreds of recipes on the Internet how else was I going to do diligent research to share with you???  After trying a few (dozen) I finally decided to get creative for two reasons.

  1. It gets expensive going out and buying all the different juices and vodkas
  2. We started Weight Watchers
By the end of July our weekend cocktails started to follow this format:
2 2 liter bottles of club soda
1/2  flavored bottle of vodka (approx 1 1/2 cup or 12 oz)
fresh fruit
2 pks crystal light type mix.

PEOPLE do you know the combinations you can come up with??? I found that Wal-Mart has many more choices than Crystal Light does.  We did some serious experimenting.  Once favorite was Strawberry Vodka, fresh strawberries and banana muddled, walmart's strawberry banana drink mix.  Here's the best part~ the pitcher usually lasted the weekend.  Hubby and I shared so figured we each drank half (just go with it).  As far as WW goes half the pitcher would wind up being about 15 points.....less than 1/3 I was allotted for the entire weekend.   Here are some we tried :Lady Bren cocktails

     There were a number of exciting moments of  course but I think I'll share those one at a time.

So tell me any great cocktails you'd like to share :)


September 17, 2012

Mummy please tell Daddy I'm scared

Dear Parents of Terrified Child:
   What makes you think that just because something is educational means it is appropriate for all ages?  AND just because there is a cartoon version that your child loves doesn't mean they will embrace reality in the same way.
   We spent almost an hour with you this past July as my family and I toured the Mummies of the World Exhibit at MOSI in Tampa.  My family, which included our daughters aged 15 and 20, absolutely loved it.  Like you, we chose to upgrade our tickets to include this private exhibit at the bequest of our daughter and I am so glad we did.  In the short hour that it took us to walk through the hall it seemed that at every turn I was learning something new.  Before that morning I didn't know that mummies first appeared in South America before the Middle East, did you?   Who knew that the oldest mummy found to date was from Chile?  We absolutely loved the 3-D and interactive displays where we learned how today's forensic science is revealing long hidden secrets that mummies once  held.  How cool is it to know that they are able to diagnosis causes of death as well as create a nutritional study for a person's lifetime?   The best part for us, at least, was that in addition to videos, spinning globes, and wonderful docents there were over 50 REAL MUMMIES.   Not only were they real but they out for the world to see and not hidden away in a sarcophagus.  The had mummies of cats, rabbits men, women and children; some clothed some not.
     So dear parents what possessed you to bring your pre-school aged child to this exhibit??  The rules we were read before entering should have been enough of a warning:
  • no cell phones allowed
  • no photography
  • no bathroom
  • dim lighting
  • and NO RE-ENTRY
     In addition to a docent informing you of these rules we watched a 5 minute video about the exhibit.  This video informed us that while this is an exhibition the ultimate goal is to respect these individuals on display and to remember that they once had families and friends. After that video was over we entered the exhibit through dark curtains and came face to face with the first mummy.  We watched as your sweet little girl ran up to the case and peered in.  "What's that Daddy?"  "That's a mummy," you replied.  "Is it Real?" "Yes that is a real mummy?"  "Is it Dead?" "Yes, it is dead."
     At that point your daughter climbed your leg into your arm then buried her head so deep into your neck an ostrich would have been proud.  I truly need to know, what possessed you to continue with the exhibit?  Did you think things were going to get better?  Maybe you thought they would be prettier as if you were viewing the riches of Tutankhamen's tomb?  I really need to know.
     Throughout the entire exhibit we could hear your daughter squealing with fear, crying and asking you to please take her home.  More than once we witnessed you telling her that she wanted to come here and see the mummies so you were staying.  I know that we were really impressed that they had an actual page from  The Book Of The Dead on display but somehow I don't think your daughter felt the same.
     While we were learning from the docent how Egyptians would paint their bodies different colors so they could find them in the afterlife we also got to hear your daughter crying to your wife "Mommy tell Daddy I'm scared".  ~On a personal note:  I absolutely love this idea of painting your body so much that I am going to include in my will/funeral directions bottles of the exact color of nail polish to be used.  In addition there will be a can of spray paint for my cousin Nancy and her husband Gordon who also totally love this idea and have permission to spray my feet. (OK maybe you had to be there but I laughed over this for about a week and again just now)
After this last outburst my family could no longer bear to hear it any more and actually hung back a bit in hopes we wouldn't encounter y'all anymore.  How you handled seeing the nude mummies or the last exhibit of an entire family I do not know.  What I do know is this:    YOU sir are the parent.  And as such you have theright to say no when a child asks to do something which is above their true understanding, know this is different for every child..  Also as the parent it is your responsibility to research an exhibit such as this if you are taking your young child.  Oh look the museum has a link for families which was easy to find and called: Information for families.  Finally your response of "I paid for these tickets we are going to see the entire show"  truly has no meaning whatsoever to your child. My advice for the future is to show your daughter pictures on the computer or in a book.  Possibly do a side by side comparison between the TV character and reality. See if videos (like the one above) are available and then give it a few days to see how or even if she truly understand what the exhibit is about.
     Somehow though I think your daughter got the last laugh as I am pretty confident she didn't sleep very well that night ~ bless her heart.

Lady Bren
I must admit my kids and I loved this show