Friday, December 31, 2010

7 Days of Christmas and Feel Good Friday

Ok, it's supposed to be a Feel Good Friday over at thegirlnextdoorgrowsup but it seems she is AWOL.  MIA.  IOU.  Actually, it should be S.O.U-- she owes us.  Just great.  She sets us up for this weekly fun and reflection, we get used to doing it and then poof! she's gone.  This is the 2nd Friday in a row that I'm out here hanging all by myself, telling my tales of 5 feel good things from the week.  Looking like a fool.  Not feeling so good right now, girl, not so good.  I don't care if it's new year's eve and you're spending time with family.  We're your bloggy family and you're neglecting us.  I know, you're going to come back and wow us all with some fantastic new contest and whatever, but you're on my list.  And that's not the best place to be. 

So, grab a coffee and get ready for a reading.  Feel Good Friday first, followed by day 7 in my 12 days of Christmas thing:

1.  K-ster got to get his foot wet for the first time on Christmas day.  He was thrilled to take a shower and not have to bag his foot.  It's progressing nicely.  He hasn't walked with crutches since Monday.  He's driving again.  Woo hoo.

2.  A former student of mine is looking at Vanderbilt University, my alma mater.  That's really cool.  He's the first student that I know of that has applied.  I got to do an alumni interview with him yesterday.  He's definitely a good fit.  He's applied to Duke, Stanford and that sort of thing, so I'm sure he'll get in everywhere and then have to make a decision.  It was also nice that though he only had me for 6th grade French, he actually remembers me.  Many students will swear on their graves that they never had me because they took Spanish and then I have to remind them that they did take that little smidgeon of French in 6th grade.  And I remember them, so why don't they remember me?  I know that there are those of you out there that didn't care about your teachers, but don't you remember them all?  Those who tortured you, made you laugh, cry, scream, gave you your first F, first A, etc?  It boggles my mind because I remember my teachers.

3.  Christmas was great.  The morning was a k-ster's mother's house and then the afternoon was a my parents'.   My sisters were both there with their men and we had a great afternoon of opening presents and having Christmas dinner and then pie.  That's what inspired me to do my 12 days of Christmas extravaganza.

4.  I bought a piece of remnant Red Sox fleece a few weeks ago when I was at the fabric store, thinking it might be fun to make a hat or something.  I have a pattern for a hat that I made a few years ago but it seems like there was some issue with it, so I hesitated to do it again.  Yesterday, I opened the remnant and decided I had enough to make 2 hats for my friends' little boys.  I like the way they came out, but it will be a different story when they put them on.  They will open them tonight and if they are not totally lame, I will put up a picture.  I have this odd feeling that when they put them on, they are going to look like they are wearing chef's hats.  Or like the hat that Strawberry Shortcake wore.  Without the strawberry smell.  My sister e-ster had an obsession with Strawberry Shortcake and she got a doll one year that actually smelled of fake strawberry.  I swear I can smell it now.

5.  I mastered the art of the pony tail hat.  I don't love to wear yarn hats because they hide all of my hair and they make me look like a 12 year old boy.  I've seen these pony tail hats online and figured there must be a pattern out there somewhere.  It was such a DUH moment when I realized how easy it is.  You just have to start with an elastic which is what gives the hole for the pony tail to go through.  It takes me less than an hour to whip one up.  I have it on my etsy and other colors are available.  Here's what it looks like.  I know, still like  a 12 year old boy but at least it's cute from the back.  And the plus is that I'm not all itchy from my hair being plastered to my head!  And yes, those gorgeous earrings hanging down are called Orbit and they are available here.

And now a word from my 12 Days of Christmas fun:

I can't believe I'm already on day 7 of my 12 days of Christmas plan.  Today's gift is brought to you by THE GIFT THAT CAME FROM LEFT FIELD.  I suppose you think that means it has something to do with baseball.  That would be simply ridiculous because unlike my family's new (in the last decade) love all things Red Sox and Patriots, I don't give a rat's ass about any of it, so baseball themed things are totally lost on me.

No, this has nothing to do with the Red Sox.  This is from my uncle c-ster.  My sister and BIL were invited to dinner with uncle c-ster and aunt v-ster just before Christmas and c-ster told them he had something that they had to bring here when they came for Christmas.  This piqued my curiosity and my question was "is it bigger than a breadbox?"  That's my father's favorite question.  A-ster's question was "will it fit in the Jeep and can I look at it first so I know what I'm bringing?"  Then nothing more was said, so when they arrived on Christmas morning, I was dying to know what this mystery thing was.  Was it something they found in what they moved from my grandmother's house many years ago?  Was it some papers?  I really couldn't imagine what it is.

I could never have imagined this.  When a-ster and s-ster brought them in, they had them backwards and they looked like small surfboards.  I thought maybe they were skim boards, which are really thin board that you throw into the shallow water and hop on and fall hard right on your butt.  Instead, this is what we call a half boat model.  My grandfather, a boat builder, made a ton of these in his retirement.  All sizes.  But nothing quite this large.  No idea when or why c-ster came up with this plan.  It's about 4 feet long, the back part anyway.  It's quite something.  And a huge surprise.  And there was one for my sister e-ster, one for me, one for my parents and one for a-ster.  Wow, is all I can say.  It's hard to put up something that's this big without having any warning.  Clearing wall space for something this large is actually not so easy!  And fitting it in with the decor.  Let's just say that c-ster has left us all taking a great pause as we figure out where it's going to hang!  And the bigger question:  since he made 4 of them, did he make 2 full models and just cut them in half?

Tune in tomorrow for gift #6:  SEW MUCH CREATIVITY, WHO CAN STAND IT?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

8 Days of Christmas

Today's post is brought to by #5 THE GRATE GIFT THAT STILL PERPLEXES.  I know, you think the teacher has lost her mind and spelled GREAT the wrong way.  No, I mean a it's a grate.  Like this.  Do you wonder what it's for?  Any guesses?  Seeing it like this, it really looks like it could be any number of kinds of grate.  But it's for the grill.  My sister a-ster gave it to us and she gave 2 to my parents.  They are cast iron and you are supposed to put them on top of the grill rack you already have and then cook your meat on this for even cooking.  Everyone explained to me how this works and what the benefits are, but I still don't get it.  A grate on a grate?  How is the cooking on this more even than the cooking on the grate that we normally have on the grill?  I didn't realize that the grill rack that comes with the grill doesn't heat evenly.  I know a-ster is going "sparkling ok she isn't saying that because that isn't really my name, I told you, it sits on the grill rack and keeps the heat more even so you get that nice restaurant grill look on your food".  Ok.  If everyone else says so, we'll give it a whirl.  And it was made in the USA which is rare these days, so that was a big hit with my father.

Currently, the amazing grill rack is sitting on my radiator.  Yes, this old house still has those old fashioned radiators that are one of the things I missed the most when we built the new house when I was in high school.  They have water in them, not those crazy things that people put in their homes these days that have oil and have skinny metal at the top.  These have wide pipes/metal that you can sit on and lay your wet gloves and coat on and you can warm your towel on and dry non dryables on.  Oh, and cats love to lay on them too.  Except when it's really cold out and they are pumping away and they are a little too warm to sit on.  Then they do the ouch my bath is too hot but I'm going to try to ease my butt into it anyway.  After a little dance, off they go.  One of the greatest things in this house.  Yes, they are ugly.  Yes, they are in the way and we can never arrange furniture the way we really want because they are in the way.  But I still love them and always missed them in the other house.  So the amazing grate is sitting on one right now.  And yes, the heat is even throughout the grate.  But I'm still mystified.  I feel like I could take the heated grate and put it somewhere else and still keep warm.  Like maybe after heating it on the grill, I could put it on the table and cook my meat there.

*** Oh crap.  A-ster read this today and sent me a message that she forgot to tell me that I am supposed to season this grate.  And if it rusts, just get it really hot and the rust will come off and then I can re oil it.  Really?  I throw out everything that rusts and living in an ocean climate, that's a lot of things.  The only seasoning I do is putting herbs on things.  Not really sure that sprinkling some oregano on this will do much, but I'll try....

See my other days of Christmas posts here.  Tune in tomorrow for THE GIFT THAT CAME FROM LEFT FIELD.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

9 Days of Christmas

Here we are with gift #4 in the 12 Days of Christmas. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, click here, here and here.  I call this one WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MOM GOES TO AMISH LAND. My mother went on a trip to Pennsylvania with her quilting group this fall.  They visited lots of Amish people and each night, they ate with a different Amish family.  My mother was intrigued with the ways that they get around using modern amenities but are allowed to use gas to light and power their homes.  She enjoyed visiting them and their quilt shops. 

Of course, when visiting the Amish, you must by Amish made goods.  So, for Christmas, my sisters and I got some goodies from the land of the Amish.  The box is a mix for soft pretzels.  Yumm!!!  There is a jar of pumpkin butter and a jar of apple butter.  The mystery is the bottle of vanilla.  Where in Pennsylvania do they grow vanilla trees?  Hmmm.  I think that's a little strange.  I need to know how they got the vanilla beans to make it.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

10 Day of Christmas

In case you've missed my little tribute to Christmas, click here and here to learn more.  Today's post is brought to you by WHAT YOU GET THE PERSON WHO JUST PUT UP A GREENHOUSE.

So, what do you get the girl who wants a greenhouse and is in the process of getting one put up?  Plants, of course!  I'm really excited about the lavender because I never have success with it and I'm determined this time to make it work because it's from seed.  So wherever I start  it, I will keep it and maybe it will grow.  I have a very sad plant from Trader Joe's that gets by but isn't thrilled with me at all.  I'd like to have a happy lavender plant.  And the amaryllis wasn't really a present.  I gave one to each of my sisters and something about it made my mother crack up and then she said she had one in the car if I wanted it.  I do.  I will start it soon. 

Tune in tomorrow for gift #4 WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MOM GOES TO AMISH LAND.

Monday, December 27, 2010

11 Days of Christmas

Welcome back for day 2 of the 12 days of Christmas.  If you aren't in the loop, click here to see yesterday's post. Today's gift is THE NO-BRAINER GIFT I KNEW I'D GET, AND THEN SOME, AND THEN SOME MORE.  I know.  You're expecting underwear, because I've been having so many issues with them and everyone gets underwear in their stockings, right?  My mother has always given us underwear, much to my father's dismay.  Especially the year that thongs came on the scene and she bought them for one of my sisters.  Due to my inability to keep my underwear intact these days, I was hoping my mother would supply me with a few in my stocking, as always.  And that they would fit.  And most importantly that they will not rip or fall off my body any time soon.  And she obliged.  3 pair of Steves or St. Eves if you prefer.
Oh wait, does that look like more than 3 pair?  More than what would fit in a stocking?  That would be because a-ster got in on the act and supplied me with 12 more pair!  That's right!!!!  Can you see all of the pink?  And the white?  LOVE THEM.  6 don't have a brand but I suspect they might be my good old buddy Rene Rafe, from the old days.  The gray and black and white kind are the Rene Rafes that I bought the last time I bought them and was so highly disappointed.  This set is equally bizarre because every pair is structurally different.

This is how a-ster wrapped them.  I wanted new jars to store flour, sugar, etc and when I was at her house in November, she had these jars that I really liked.  They are glass jars from IKEA and they have covers that make a nice seal.  No more plastic containers for me!  Each jar had something cool in it.  Underwear in a future flour jar was probably the most bizarre.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

12 Days of Christmas

I hope you had a nice Christmas.  I had a technology free holiday, so I have no idea what took place in the blogosphere yesterday.  We had Christmas morning with k-ster's mother and b-ster and then went to my parents' for the rest of the day and evening.  Both of my sisters were there and my BIL and d-ster.  D-ster arrived on the scene a little late, so he missed a lot of the craziness that is Christmas at the w-ster's.

Somewhere along the line, a long time ago, we started opening presents, just one at a time.  I don't know if someone named sparkling demanded  suggested this, or if it just happened, but it has become a tradition.  This way, everyone can see what everyone gets.  This also allows for the giver to do some explaining about the gift.  It seems that we w-girls feel the need to do a lot of explaining about the gifts we give.  I don't know when this tradition started either.  Slow opening is fun and takes all day, so whether there are 1 or 101 presents, it doesn't matter because it's not over in 5 minutes. And it allows for commentary from the boys who have now come to witness and marvel at what is Christmas with the w-girls.  The first time k-ster attended for more than an hour, he was asked to be Santa and he thought that would be fun.  Not a lot of presents for him, so why not spend his time passing them out to everyone so he doesn't just sit there.  Apparently this is not as fun as it sounds and we w-girls can be demanding about when to give whom which presents, so he has warned d-ster and s-ster to never ask or allow someone to suggest that he be Santa.  I have no idea what he is talking about.  I am usually Santa.  This comes from my place in the living room, I guess.  And I like it.  Imagine that, a teacher who likes to be in control.  Hmmm.  I've heard tales of people who all open every present at once and it becomes mayhem and screaming and no one is clear about who gave which presents and things get stepped on and I don't like that.  My mother doesn't care for confusion either, so that would never work for us.

I will share a picture of something that I got each day for 12 days, so you can get a taste of who I am.  After taking the pictures, I thought about how really, this is a great way to get to know someone.  If I really knew what I was doing, I'd create a linky thingy and everyone could link to my thingy and share their 12 days too.  But I have no idea what I'm doing.  So, you can email me a picture each day too and let me know a little about you.  Or maybe you can jump on board on your blog and link to mine and tell me in the comments and then I'll go snoop and see what you go too.

So, here is gift #1.  I call this one THE MOST UNUSUAL BUT SATISFYING GIFT THIS YEAR.  I know.  You are seriously questioning the sanity of continuing to read my blog because I keep posting pictures of poultry.  And who in their right mind would get excited about eggs and an uncooked bird for Christmas??  You might remember in my Thanksgiving Hoopla post I mentioned that we had a fresh turkey from the down the road from a-ster's house.  And I might have said when we went to the little farm stand, which really was a nice store, I bought some eggs to bring home.  So when I got home, I suggested that she might like to freeze a chicken from there and bring it up, with some eggs, as a Christmas present.  And she did.  So, I am thrilled to have an organic bird, whose farm I have seen.  And some eggs from the same place.  I know this bird did not lay these eggs because the bird was put to rest in the fall and a-ster has had it freezing since then.  I know, this means I took her last chicken.  But, she has a duck and another turkey, so they'll make it through for a little longer.  And then there will be more chickens available, Lord willing... wait, are they PIONEERS??  

And you're really asking, which came first, the chicken or the eggs?  When I opened the cooler, the eggs were first because they were on top.  And I could take that out and show people.  I really didn't want to take out a raw bird in the living room on Christmas, because THAT would be weird.

Come back tomorrow when I will share gift #2, THE NO-BRAINER GIFT I KNEW I'D GET, AND THEN SOME, AND THEN SOME MORE.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Feel Good Friday -Christmas Eve

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means!! But it looks like the girl forgot it was Friday, so I'm out here solo.

1.  So, the #1 thing I feel good about is k-ster's foot.  You may know he went in for surgery on the 14th to remove a dead bone, a sesamoid bone, in his right foot.  I know, dead bone????  It freaks me out because if one bone dies, what stops the rest from doing the same thing?  But two doctors have said that is unlikely and for whatever reason, the blood supply was cut off from this bone and it died. 

Where's the sesamoid bone, you ask?  Right below the big toe, on the fat pad of the ball of the foot.  Ohhh, right where we strike when we step!  So, after all this pain, he had it out.  After a week, he went back and had the stitches out and the doctor gave him a surprise.  Instead of giving him the boot that he said he would, with more time off of it, he told him that in 5 days, which will be Monday, he can start walking as much as he feels like he can and he doesn't need a boot!  WHAT???  When I asked about PT, he said he'll see what k-ster feels like in 3-4 weeks.  3-4 WEEKS???  He can run around as much as he wants until then?  Yes.  He can drive?  Yes.  He can do pirouettes? Ok, I didn't really ask that.  Can he swim in a pool?  NO.  Oh, that was a sad one because k-ster has a pool membership and  I thought that would be great non impact exercise.  But the doctor said it would risk infection.  But he can resume other activities, like walking again as of Monday.

After hearing that, everything changed.  He immediately wanted to go for a ride, something he hasn't asked to do at all.  He was so careful the first week, didn't go anywhere, took the painkillers  around the clock (I know, because I woke up every time that alarm went off!!) didn't put pressure on it.  Now he's itching for Monday.

And his mother brought  a shower chair, so he took his first shower last night.  He'd been performing some kind of antics with a stool at the sink in the bathroom all week, so this was a relief for him.  And on Christmas, he will be allowed to put his foot in the shower instead of having to bag it and keep it hanging out. 

We didn't realize how active we are until he couldn't be active.  And everything had to come to a stop.  And I had to plot everything I wanted to do so I'd know when I'd be home those first couple of days when he didn't get up.  Then he got more adventurous and handled lunch and stuff himself.  What a reality check!!  Now to keep him from hopping in the truck Monday and going skiing.....  Just kidding.  I know he wouldn't try skiing but he is dying to drive.

2.  I finished my afghan that I was making with the Bernat Crochet Along.  It was a lot of fun because it was a mystery.  Each week, we received a clue and had to make a certain number of that square, but there wasn't a picture.  With the next clue, there would be a picture of what the last clue should have looked like.  When I sewed it all together, I really started to like it.  These colors have nothing to do with my house, so I am not in love with that aspect of it, but I really like how it came out.  The flowers are actually 3D and were the most complex part of the entire thing.  I used to dislike flowers like this on the old afghans I remember, but I must have gained an appreciation for them while making them!

My favorite part is this pretty edging.  K-ster's favorite part is that it's over.  He doesn't love it when I crochet because he says it's like I'm fidgeting and if he sat there fidgeting, I'd tell him to stop.  True, but if his fidgeting produced something he could sell on etsy, then I'm all for it!  If you like this and want more pictures, go check it out on my etsy.

3.  I got a package!  What the heck is this all about?  I was contacted about a month ago by CSNSTORES,  which is an online store where you can get lost for days in the huge amount of items they sell there. They contacted me because they found my blog and thought I might like to review something for them on my blog FOR FREE.  Who doesn't like FOR FREE????

They gave me a $35 credit toward anything I wanted in the entire store.  Which is HUGE and OVERWHELMING in its choices of products.  I was looking for some kitchen things, and I found just about every brand I could think of in the kitchen department.  Sadly, everything I wanted was out of stock.  Too close to Christmas, I guess.

Then I thought about the need for new sheets, so I ended up getting a fitted sheet.  It arrived very quickly, I only had to pay the difference between the total and my credit.  If I had found a product that was less than $35, I wouldn't have paid anything.  The sheet arrived and I washed it and it's already on the bed.  I'm not going to do a review on the sheet because it's not made by CSNSTORES, so I'll review the experience instead.

I was contacted by one of their representatives and she got back to me right away with answers to  all of my questions when I agreed to do the review.  She explained how the $35 credit would work and it worked just as she said.  I placed the order with no problem and received an email confirming the order and then another when it was shipped, which was in the next day or two.  When the package arrived, I was surprised to see that it was shipped from Canada because I did not pay extra for the shipping.  I was also surprised to see a customs declaration form on there with the country of origin for the sheet listed as China.  This leads me to believe that CSNSTORES is a big warehouse, in Canada,  where they import lots of items and then ship them as they are ordered.  The overall experience was positive and I am happy that I was chosen to try out their services!

4.  Magstopher has an extraordinary ability to find things on the internet that I could not find for a reasonable price, no matter where I looked.  This summer, was looking for the movie Bienvenue Chez Les Ch'tis, Welcome to the Sticks, a hilarious French movie.  I told s-ster all about the movie and how funny it was and how I could not find it on Netflix but I needed it to show my monthly French group.  I eventually borrowed it from a French friend who was here for the year and happened to have it.  When I looked to buy it online, it was a fortune.

I guess Magstopher was eavesdropping and she must have gone on right away and supersearched and bought it.  Or she paid way more than I would have paid for such a funny movie.  What a shock when it arrived in the mail the other day!  Merci Magstopher and s-ster. (Magstopher isn't allowed to have credit cards.  She'd be spending all her money on fake nails and oatgrass, and probably catnip, so s-ster has to make all of her online purchases,)  And merci to  e-ster though I am sure he has NO IDEA what any of this is about. 

Now I just have to get k-ster to watch it with me.  He doesn't love to read movies with subtitles and I don't blame him.  But it's funny enough I think he would forget about the annoyance of reading.

5.  We had snow this week, more than I was expecting and though that is not especially feel good worthy, we had a 2 hour delay on Tuesday and I liked that.  Delays are ridiculous because once the phone rings, I'm up, but I guess I like feeling like I'm doing something bad by not going to school on time.  But, I was told not to!  The kids were pretty good this week considering it was the week before Christmas.  But not a lot of teachers did much hoopla over it, so I think that helps keep the kids in check.  And though the snow and the delay are enough to get them extra pumped, they stayed in control.  Maybe there were so many reasons to be crazy that they just were overwhelmed and behaved.

We will have a white Christmas but it will also be muddy brown and gray and all sorts of colors.  Much of it has melted so now the driveway is just soup and everyone's tracking muck everywhere.  What's left is on the grass and it's just in patches.  Never fear, winter is here, and it is rumored that the end of the weekend will be fraught*** with snowstorms.

Now go see if the girl has decided to pick up Feel Good Friday and if not, leave your own feel good comments here!

***Salem State needs to come take by the piece of paper they sent me saying that I am qualified to hold an M.Ed in Reading.  I have proven in a number of circumstances lately that I cannot read.  Now I just proved to k-ster that I can't spell.  I am a master speller.  I love spelling.  I love correct spelling.  If I ever have a Sharpie on my in the grocery store, where they hand write their signs, I will be arrested for defacing property because they spell EVERYTHING wrong and I wouldn't be able to help myself.  K-ster doesn't love to spell and he asks me how to spell things all the time.  I just now could not spell fraught.  I was having a fit.  Welcome to my world, he said.  I asked if he happened to know how to spell fraught.  He did.  I thought it was frought like bought.  But it's fraught like caught.  And he knew.  O.M.G.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

All Clear For Take Off, Over and Out

Tomorrow's Feel Good Friday is going to be chock full of stuff, so be sure to come back.  Here's a preview.

K-ster went to the footologist yesterday and got fantastic news.

Magstopher managed to find me something that I, the queen of finding ANYTHING on the internet, could not find this summer!

I got a package.

That's all I can give you for now.

It's still snowing,.  I can't even call it that.  I call it precipitating because it's not worthy of being called snow OR rain because it can't make up its mind.  Not amounting to much but a big annoyance.  I don't love always having to think about my footwear when I leave the house, which then affects my wardrobe choice. 

Ahh the beauty of snow.  Right?  This is when I don't love it.  When it's a nuisance.  And everything is just gray and dirty.

But today is the last day of school and I must traditionally wear this crazy vest my mother got me years ago.  What other day, besides the last day you see people before Christmas, could anyone get away with wearing something like this?
The back is white plaid, all the way across.  No two plaid combos there.  Oooh you can see a little of my tree in the background.  And yes, this may be a little blurry, but you get the idea.

My mother is probably saying "I gave you that?"  Yes, it was the late 90s, everyone was wearing vests.  This was cute for the holidays and since that's the only time I wear it, it will never wear out.  And when vests come back, and I am sure they will soon, I'll be all ready. 

Now I'm off to school where I shall be showered with many gifts valued at over $50.  The lastest, most excellent twist, was the edict we received from our principal on Tuesday.  If we receive a gift that we believe is valued over $50, we are to write a statement to the end and give it to her to have her send it to central office to put in our files so that when the ethics committee comes to investigate (and according to this principal, if there is a committee that threatens to investigate something, it will truly happen, so you must ruin life worrying) we will be all set.  Again, I ask you.  Where the hell are these kids who are giving out $50+ gifts??????  I did receive one the other day and I am waiting until I get home to open it, lest the spies see that it's a big fat $100 bill.  Fat Chance! Someone got a cute gift from a kid, probably cost $20 at the most, and he's worried that he should write about it and put it in his file.  PU-LEASE.  And I'm still so shocked that the newspaper hasn't had their field day with this.  I've got my money on getting those tickets that were $40 the day they bought them but have a value of $500 the day I go to see the show.  Can't. Wait.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Let It Snow, But Not When It's Inconvenient

Even teachers get excited about snow days.  We really do.  We even get excited about 2 hour delays.  Something about not having to put in a full day at school is just marvelous.  I used to love to sleep in, but with the phone ringing at 5:30 to tell me there's no school or a delay, it's not possible.  But it's fun.

Until you don't get the call.  And it's still snowing.  And you don't have a garage so you have to scrape your car.  And you really still have to go to school.  And your back yard looks like this.

Ok, maybe that's too dramatic.  That's a picture I took of Montmorency Falls in Quebec, the first year we took kids to Quebec.  We quickly learned that snow and field trips cause me too much anxiety, so we moved it to warmer times.  But this is a ridiculously spectacular picture.  Oh wait, I don't know if I really took that picture.  Oh crap, I really can't remember if that's my own picture or one I stole.  Ahh the danger of the internet.  It's pretty, anyway.

But I digress.  So, when I got out of bed, this is what the back yard looked like.  Yes, the very same yard where we have a fantabulous patio and spend countless hours in the summer.  With the fire pit that looks like a snow cone.   And sadly, we still have school.

But I agree, snow is pretty.  As much as it is an inconvenience, it is pretty.  And this is a wet, heavy snow, so it's really pretty because it clings to everything.  I like this picture below because I like the blue effect.  The sun hadn't really come up yet, so it looked like this.  And there was no 2 hour delay.

Not sure why the camera likes to make the scene blue.  I'm sure it's all about light and the snow and all that.  But it's intriguing to me, anyway.

And this is what my slimy commute looks like.  All 10 minutes of it.  But it does not inspire a desire to drive far. 

And, here's the greenhouse.  I think the camera making things literally green is a little too much, but it's my phone, so what can I do.  And that's how the greenhouse will look until k-ster is up and running again.  But, we got the posts in the ground before it froze, so that's a good thing.  Otherwise I would really have to wait a long time.  Now it's just the plastic that has to go on, but it's tricky.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Feel Good Friday

It's Friday and I have some feel good moments to share.  When you're done, go see the girl and link up your own!

 1.  Hmm a feel good moment?  Is it because I became so nostalgic when I saw this floor from 1970 something?  No, it's because k-ster had his foot operated on and thought that's not a feel good moment, it felt better when he was back to normal the next day.  We are surgery virgins, so it's like the blind leading the blind around here.  He wasn't woozy, he just wasn't himself.  We've never been injured, broken anything or been under the knife, except for wisdom teeth, so it was a strange 24 hours.  Now he's up and running on his crutches wondering what happens when he goes to his follow up next week. 

2.  I missed two days of school, see above, and when I returned, nothing was amiss.  This was a shock.  I am never absent and on those occasions when I go to a workshop or something, I know way in advance and plan my life away.  As  French teacher, I know the likelihood of getting someone who can do something related to French is non existent, so I always leave things like videos that simply require pushing play.  I hadn't planned to take 2 days, so I only left plans for one, so  I had some scrambling to do that morning.

3.  My afghan that I've been  making on the Bernat Crochet Along is getting closer to being finished.  The squares are almost all put together, since I had lots of time (see #1 and #2) and now I have to do the edging.  I'll post a picture when it's finally all done.

4.  I finally found a cleanser/facial moisturizer that I think I like.  Such a small thing, but it really is difficult and I think we might have a winner.  It's Mary Kay.  But the funny part is that when I tried the sample, I didn't know that there were little microbeads in it..  When I looked down and there were little black things in it, I thought maybe I had some kind of gunk on my hands, so I washed it off and wasted it!  If you're in need of Mary Kay products, go see

5.  It's been a dull week.  I made rice krispies treats and they made me pretty happy.  Oh, I know another thing that made me happy.  I got 5 emails from a woman claiming she is from the network CMT (Country Music Television).  It seems that I might have typed the word REDNECK a few times on my blog and she noticed and thinks that perhaps I am a perfect candidate for a new show on CMT called My Redneck Reunion or something along those lines, produced by Tom Arnold.  I felt good because I know for a fact I am not such a redneck that I could even hold a candle to someone who really qualifies for that show.  But she was persistent.  And now she'll see that I've typed it again and ask me again and again. 

That's all I have to say.  It's been a weird week.  Go see the girl and see what other people did for fun!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

To All My Canadian Readers, Please Help

If you live in Canada, perhaps you can verify this.  I went to the Bernat Blog to see about entering a picture for the Crochet Along contest that I have been participating in.  Though I am not completely finished, I'm almost finished, so I wanted to know what the deadline is.  I'm safe, so I'll be entering. 

But that's not why I've called you here.  I was reading the eligibility rules.  And I pass. But if I lived in Canada, I would have to obey this one:

-If the winner is a citizen of Canada, a mathematical skill testing question will be administered and must be correctly answered before an entrant is declared to be a winner.

 Seriously?  Are all contests in Canada like this?  You must pass a math test?  What kind of math?  How many questions?  I'm starting to shake a little, due to my lack of mathematical skills and I don't even live in Canada!  The US does not have such crazy rules.

Maybe this is the answer to the problems with education in this country?  If kids knew that to win a contest ever as an adult, they would have to pass a math test, I bet they'd be singing the praises of math and we'd have a bunch of geniuses!   

So, fellow readers who are of Canadian citizenship, please chime in.  Non Canadian residents, please don't give me your 2 cents about how you've heard of this rule or whatever.  I want to know if it's legit so I know Canada isn't the place I will abscond to when I'm on the lam.

And all you Quebekkers, I know you have your own set of rules and the French language requirement has something to do with it, but don't you feel left out?  I keep seeing things that say "Canadian residents, with exception of the province of Quebec" and things of that nature.  I'm so sad for you! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sunchips Are So Not Degrading

A while back, I posted about the claim on the Sunchips bag that after 14 weeks, the bag would decompose, being biodegrable and leave no trace.  I am nothing if not curious, so on May 2, 2010, I placed one of these Sunchips bags in my garden.  I did not bury it in the compost for a lot of reasons, but mainly because I thought that the average litterbug doesn't bother to bury trash.  I wanted to see if someone just tossed it on the ground, would it break down.

Saturday, I took this picture.  Let's see.  May 2, 2010 to December 11, 2010.  That's umm lots of weeks.  More than 14, to be sure.  And yet, do you see that most of the bag is there?  Can you read what I can read? I am highly disappointed.  I thought 7 months after I placed it on the ground, very little would be left.  I anchored it down with a brick so it wouldn't blow away.  Now I'm glad, because it would be real litter!

I went to their website when I posted back in August, to see why mine didn't break down.  I see that on their website, they show that it breaks down under very controlled circumstances involving heat and clear plastic wrap so you can see the breakdown.  Well, I supposed if I wanted to add more trash and put Saran Wrap over it, it might work.  But on the bag, they don't tell you all of the hijinks you have to perform to make it break down.  They encourage you to buy it so you can feel good about buying something that won't pollute the earth.

And after 7 months, no matter what method I used, I expected there to be very little left.  I figured that the exposure to sunlight alone should be enough to make it break down into smithereens.

I'm very disappointed, Sunchips.  Very.  And to top it off, the bag is so noisy that somewhere I read that they had to stop making the bag because there were so many complaints.

Ugh, I have nothing more to say except that I will continue my little experiment and see where we are a year from May 2!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Governor is the New Scrooge

In the great state where I live, it has suddenly become a law or maybe has always been a law and now someone is enforcing it that teachers cannot receive Christmas gifts of more than $50 value from any one student or parent.  How UN.FAIR.  Who the heck is receiving gifts valued at $50 or more from more than one kid????  Where are these people teaching?   And more importantly, why have I ever received a gift valued at $50 or more?

So in our school mailboxes today, we received a very thick packet from some lawyers delineating what can and cannot be accepted by teachers during the holiday season and throughout the year.  It's really amazing that someone has spent so much time on this.  Here are some examples, in case you were planning to buy something lavish for me at this time of the year.

-a teacher cannot accept a gift that he/she knows is valued over $50 unless it is from several students who chipped in.  Then , the teacher cannot accept anything else from those students who chipped in, because together, they have spent $50.

-if a teacher is given tickets to a show that were worth $40 but then they become scarce and are valued at $500, the teacher would then have been given a $460 gift even though the parents only paid $40 the day they bought them.

-if there is no admission charge to an event, but the presumed cost of food and drink for the attendees is $90 per person, that was a gift over $50.

Really?????  So, now if I happen to get the random gift or two from kids, I have to give them the 3rd degree.  Who bought this?  How many people helped cover the cost?  What was the actual value the day you bought it?  What will the value be the day I redeem it?  Have you given me any other gift during this school year?

And my favorite one is the one about the free admission but the presumed cost.  So now when I am invited to any sort of event, I must ask what the presumed cost per person was so that I know I'm not breaking the law.

So this is what's wrong with education today?  Are all teachers so busy with their fancy gifts that they've stopped teaching?  Who polices these kinds of things?  So, teachers are not allowed to redeem gift cards and tickets they were given because at the time they redeem them they might be worth a whole lot more?  Are you kidding me????  Are there really teachers sitting on death row because they accepted tickets to a Broadway show and dinner afterwards? 

Since this was made such a big deal in our district last year and again today, my fear is that mock presents are going to be given to teachers to "test" us to see if we really accept a gift that is over $50.  This, in a district where over 50% of our kids are on free or reduced lunch.  Yep, I see my Lamborghini waiting with my name on the license plate.

And really, where are all of these rich parents who are giving gifts over $50 to the same teacher?  Seriously?  Send them my way.  They use examples of spa services and fancy dinners and plays.  Umm, I could use some.  I won't even tell anyone, I promise.

I'm lucky if I get a gift from one child worth 50 cents at Christmas.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Adult Trick or Treating

Ahhh the Cookie Stroll.  Someone called it adult trick or treating today, and I liked that, so I stole it.  BEcause it is.  People wear ridiculous holiday clothes(pins, hats, scarves, turtlenecks) all in the name of being festive.  Then they go door to designated door expecting a treat because that's what it said on their ticket when they paid.  Here in  my area of the neighborhood, there is a yearly cookie stroll to benefit the library.  We have lots and lots of old houses in the area, and people just love to be nosy, so it's a good pairing.  At each home, everyone gets a cookie to put in their little bags that they get when they buy their tickets.  And the library makes a butt load of money.

The first year I went, I collected all of the cookies and they were G-R-O-S-S.  It seemed most had been stored in mothballs or they just had no flavor at all.  I quickly learned and the next 2 years, I brought my bag to each house but refused the cookie.  They thought I was nuts.  I didn't care.  I'm all about looking at the houses.  Because...

a)  I am super nosy
b)  I grew up in this neighborhood but never knew the neighbors, so I never got to see their houses
c)  I am always looking to see what people do for decor
d)  I am really catty

I guess I should address the last one first.  I live in an old house.  Around 1810 was the building date for the front portion of the house.  Actually, I should say circa 1810.  Because here, everyone knows the word circa.  It means they aren't sure of the date, so it's around that date.  You see it marked on people's houses like a statement of pride.  Around here, everyone seems to know the dates that everything happened in their houses.  I'd like to know more about mine, but I am very, very lazy when it comes to that.  And I don't know that I trust the info I find, because how do people really know if they are talking about the right house?  And I fear I could become one of those people who constantly rattles off dates that extraordinary things happened in their house.  And that makes for boring dinner conversation.  Here are some important dates I can recall in my house:

circa 1979 we moved here with me and my sister a-ster but I don't remember the move

circa 1980 my sister e-ster was brought home and I was certain I was choking on a chicken bone because no one was paying attention to me.  I was not choking on anything.

circa that same era my mother had to go back to the hospital for a kidney stone but I was afraid she was bringing home another baby (I don't think I choked on anything that time)

circa 1983 we got a dog and then promptly gave him away 6 months later because he was too much for us to handle

circa all of the 1980s, we had many a cat who disappeared or was hit on the street in front of our house

circa 1989 we moved next door to the new house

circa 1997 I moved back into this house

circa 2000 we put in an outdoor shower, truly the best $300 I've ever spent

circa 2008 we k-ster built our fantastic patio

circa 2010 we built a greenhouse

So as you can see, my house has lots of history.  I have no room to remember troubling things like which year a room was added on or when it was floated over from the island or whatever.  Because it was common in the 1800s to float your house over here from the island to sell to the rich folks who liked to summer here.  And over time, they gave it to family members who lived here permanently and rooms were added as babies were born and renovations happened as money came in and lo and behold here we are in 2010 and some look nothing like the original and some have been so painstakingly preserved to look like the original, that this is where my cattiness begins.  And I don't think my house was floated over here, by the way.  I think it was born here.

In my old house, I am horrified that I regularly have to scrub with bleach to get rid of mildew on the walls and ceilings.  Hell would certainly freeze over if I let 700 people march through my house on a stroll to look at my mildew.  I've been in several houses on these tours where not only could you see the mildew, but it all smelled like it.

In my old house, I have some paint issues and flakes are currently falling from the ceiling because it's  a catch 22 about replacing the ceiling entirely or just trying to deflake and repaint. Everything in an old house is a catch 22.  If you replace one thing, you should really replace the entire room because you will have to rip it out again when you decide to really renovate.  So instead, you wait until something actually breaks or explodes and then it's a crisis, so we make do and never actually do a real renovation. Again, no one is allowed to march through here on any kind of tour until we get this settled.  This appears not to phase some homeowners and they open their homes right up.

In my old house, there might be one level floor and that would be the kitchen floor because it was redone circa 1978.  All of the others are so charming that you could put a ball on the floor on one side of the room and go get it a second later when it rolls, on its own, to the other side.  I say this is charming because that's what the people who stroll through these houses say, usually with a big, envious grin.

In my old house, I have replaced all of the carpets which were only about 15 years old because I was grossed out by the fact that other tenants had lived on them and there were some issues with irons or hot coals having been dropped.  Apparently, as I learned today, it is enviable that some people have rugs up their staircases that are literally threadbare and DIS-GUS-TING because great, great, great aunt so and so made it and it's an heirloom.  Can you imagine the filth, bugs, and whatever else live in those? 

In my old house, my mother steamed off the old wallpaper and put her up own 30 years ago and someone else later steamed off her "modern" paper (the kitchen paper had orange potbellied stoves) and all of the walls are just painted.  It appears that very old, mildewed, falling of the wall wallpaper is quaint and people love it.  Really??  I have a shoe closet that has ancient wallpaper remains from probably circa 1800 that anyone can come look at and take, for all I care.

I could go on and on.  I secretly love to go on these strolls so I can have a constant conversation in my head about how I would NEVER let the general public come within 10 feet of my house if it looked like that.  And people are paying $15 per person to stroll through 6-10 houses that have some of the very features I mentioned above.

Some houses are truly gorgeous.  And some have made do in really neat, but not cheesy ways.  And some are actually new houses.  But there are those that just shock me.

Instead of strolling today, I hosted at a house for 2 hours.  And here, my cattiness continues as I share my study in human behavior. Here was what I saw for my whole shift.
Yes, a kitchen,  Not too remarkable.  Not too shocking.  Not too old, not too modern.  This house was built in the early 1800s (but I think mine is older, I just don't go bragging about it) and people were just fascinated.  The reason I show you this shot is because a woman stood right in front of me, looked around and said "Is this the kitchen?"  No ma'am, it's the garage.  I must have made a face because the woman behind her was cracking up. 

I could never live in this house for many reasons (it smelled, it was left to look too old and cold, but mostly, there were no cabinet doors on the upper cabinets and really very little cabinet space at all.  UGH.  I must have cabinets.

The part that I marveled at the most, and that most people marveled at was this.
This is the ceiling of the kitchen that had a cool window but now it looks like a gaping hole.  Let me teach you a little bit about this.  If you look at the boards, they are about 2 feet wide.  This is classic circa 1800s building wood and I know I have this all over my house because a) it looks like this in my attic, all open and such and b) when we redid the laundry room, the boards behind the sheetrock looked like this as did the entire outside of the house when they reshingled a few years back.  However, most people do not leave these boards exposed.  One reason, they are not all perfect, so it looks like of slipshod.  Perfection must not have been invented circa 1800.  Another reason, when the shingles are put on the roof, all of the nails go through, so you can see them all.  The biggest reason, they are not tight.  So another roof has to be put on top or all your heat will escape and the rain will come in.  However, this creative soul found it so important to expose this wood, she had the insulation put OUTSIDE on top of the roof and then another roof on top of that so she could have a cozy kitchen and still think it's old. 

I had to stifle a laugh every time someone ooohed and ahhhed over this because I have the very same thing in my attic but I didn't think anyone would pay a penny to see it.  And I'm horrified when someone does!  And if you look closely, this is some of that ancient wallpaper that I mentioned.  Some of it looked OK but a lot of it was just worn and hideous.  One poor woman thought it was birch and was peeling off because it was meant to.

Another thing that is so telling of an old house is the floor.  Wide planks, milled long before Pergo was even a glimmer in someone's eye.  But there are gaps. And I never understood how anyone could just smile and deal with the gaps.  I've been in some houses where rope was shoved between the boards.  Mmmm very neat and clean.  Thus I have carpet.  And if you look closely, you see specks.  This is a technique whereby they spatter paint on the floor.  I have a theory that it allows the floor not to look like it's dirty, worn or has dirt acutally on it.  I just think it looks like someone spattered paint.  But lots of people were drooling over it today and want to recreate it in their homes.  I bet there are wives at home right now flinging paint all over their Pergo.

What's strange is that I took some pictures of the views from this house but they did not come up on my phone's site.  Sad, actually.  The views are truly breathtaking.  They look out onto the river and from every room, you can see the river.  And it was a glorious day today, so it was picture perfect from any window.  Sorry I can't show that.  It might make living in that house entirely worth it.  But the living room, excuse me, parlor windows are the ancient glass that looks all wobbly, so you would see everything in a blur.  And I cannot handle that.

So my human behavior study results are as follows:

1.  people will do anything, and pay just about anything, to go nose around in someone else's house
2.  people will bring friends along with them and whisper, or sometimes just outright say, bad things about the house
3.  people will become experts on the spot and tell people the most asinine, untrue things and sound like the know for sure (like the woodstove that was in one room that is probably circa 1960 at the earliest and people kept saying it was the "original" potbellied stove.  There was no pot belly, it was flat, and I am certain it was not the original because we have one just like it at the car wash.  Now who's the expert?)
4.  people are never happy with what they have.  Judging the people on looks only, I am certain that they have fabulous houses that are much newer, with more modern features, that are much more efficient, yet they long for the "history" and old ways of the old house.
5.  people will wait in line to go into a house that is supposed to have some great historical secret, like the house a few years ago that supposedly had a shoe that was found under a stair when it was renovated.  Everyone lined up to see the ancient shoe in a glass box.

I am often suspicious of these wild claims that people make about their houses.  Like those were supposedly on the Underground Railroad.  Really?  All the way up here in New England?  I thought once they were north of the Mason Dixon line, they were pretty OK?  We are pretty far north of that, so I don't know why anyone would have been hiding anyone.  And many of these homeowners are so removed from the families that built them, it's all based on hearsay.

I know it is human nature to be curious.  I told you in the beginning I am very nosy, myself.  And I suppose it is our nature to always want what we don't have, no matter how good or bad it might look.  And we like to sound knowledgeable, so we like to think we know everything and share it with those people of lesser intelligence who simply know nothing.  And we love to show off and feel like we really own things.

If this was not our nature, there would be no one to open their homes and there wouldn't be anyone who would pay to go see them and the library wouldn't make a cent.

But I like to fancy myself a "normal" person who can stroll through a house, have a conversation in my head about the atrocities in it and how dare the person think they are so special they can just open their house to strangers and invite them to see their crap, refuse a cookie and carry on with my life.  I don't have to dress in my holiday stroll garb.  I don't have to waltz through every house saying everything is "lovely" at every turn.  I don't have to thank the homeowner profusely for letting us in.  I don't even have to bring a friend with me on the stroll.

But most importantly:  I can run my usual run route all year long and tell myself "I've been in that house and that house and that house and that house...." because before I die, I want to have visited every house in my neighborhood.  And to have made my inner commentary about them all.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Feel Good Friday

We're at it again! Go link up with the girl and do your own Feel Good Friday!

5.  I know it's completely ridiculous, but the zipper on my very old Eddie Bauer jacket, that no one can seem to make another of, fell off yesterday and I almost cried.  Because the head of the zipper sheared itself right off, so I had nothing to attach the pull to.  But, k-ster and I are too slick for failure, so I got a paperclip and he figured out how to reattach it.  See that fancy gold?  That's my styling new fangled zipper!  I'm so rich, I buy gold paperclips!  If someone would just make winter parkas like they did 10 years ago, this would not have been the near tragedy that it was yesterday morning.  Phew.

4.  I laughed so hard at the laundress over at laundry hurts my feelings and it felt so damned good.  One of those hysterical belly laughs that makes tears come and your nose hurts.  Go read yesterday's post to get the link and laugh your own butt off.  Imagine if we could have one of those real hysterical laughs every day?  I guess it would old after a while.  I laugh, I snicker, I smile, but I rarely get one of those guffaw's going.  She did it to me.

3.  We had our school concert yesterday morning which means that the period before the concert, all musicians report to the music room.  That left me with 4 boys who are not musically inclined, and to tell the truth, not French inclined either.  So, I dragged out my European Monopoly board, the one I bought in Belgium and dragged all the way back here, and made them count in French and tell me in French that they would like whichever property.  It was truly the best thing I could have done for them.  I thought they might tell me it was queer and give me grief, but these 4 seventh grade boys just ATE.IT.UP.  They thought it was so cool.  They all counted together each time someone moved.  I just about split my head open from the boredom, but they were highly entertained.  So that was nice.  And the kid who couldn't count at 8:40 seemed to have a pretty firm grasp on 1-12 by 9:20.

2.  Holy CRAP I just realized that we did work on the greenhouse and I didn't post the picture!!! Well that was certainly a feel good moment on Sunday.  We have the frame all up and all of the supports. K-ster wasted no time marking his territory.  Now it's the scary part of putting on the polycarbonate ends and the sides and then the top.  Hopefully tomorrow will be perfect weather so this is all ready before k-ster goes under the knife on Tuesday. Otherwise it will be February before this is finished.  Not sure what my greenhouse reference is all about?  Read all the details here.

1.  I didn't feel good when I was riding Tucker yesterday becasue he was being ridiculous and seemed glued to his water station.  Sucking it down like there was no tomorrow.  I was annoyed, and limited on time, so I kept spanking and kicking him and trying to veer him away whenever we went by it.  I do feel bad when I spank or kick him because I just want him to do what I'm asking.   Some days, he's just such a teenager.  He cooperated on and off but was really ridiculous when he'd see the waterer and try everything to get there.  As soon as I ended the lesson, he went right back and sucked down more water.  I felt really good when r-ster went in to find that none of the horses had water because their self waterers were not working!  I didn't feel good that they had no water, but I felt good knowing that the reason he was being such a brat was because he was dying of thirst, not because he was a brat.  I felt really good that she discovered that before they all died because they had no water!  And that she wasn't alone when she discovered it or she would have had a hard time closing up the barn.  Normally the paddock doors stay open and they get to go outside if they want.  They wear blankets.  And the self waterers have a heater somewhere the keeps the pipe from freezing.  But with the pipe frozen (did I mention it was 14 degrees this morning?) they had to have water in buckets.  We shut up the barn hoping that the buckets would not freeze because maybe 5 beasts in a closed barn would keep it toasty.

That's all the Feel Good I've got, now go see the girl!