Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Wrap Up- Your Favorite Posts

We all have favorite posts that we write.  For me, it's the posts that I can read and read and read and they still make me laugh because the events were just so funny.  To me. 

Sadly, we can't always properly convey the images to make everyone laugh.

OR, what I dislike the most, we post them when EVERYONE is out of town, not reading their favorite blogs and it falls on blind eyes (kind of like deaf ears, right?)

Some bloggers end the year with their own top 10 favorite posts.  Instead, with some inspiration from my new favorite blogger , I decided to show YOU what YOUR favorite/most-read posts of 2011 were, according to google analytics.  But what do they know? 

#1  Yes, I Made This But You Can Too, a cute quilt I made for some friends who had a boy.  This quit appears again in the top 10.  I like it too, but I'm surprised that this was the #1 most visited post in 2011!

#2  How To Grow Your Own Clothesline.  Ah yes, I enjoyed this post and mostly enjoyed installing the clothesline.  And it's still standing.  Most sturdily!  The ropes on the other hand....  They've needed to be tightened like eleventy times because they just keep stretching and stretching.  K-ster thinks I will eventually see the light and used metal ropes (oxymoron?) that won't stretch, like he recommends.  What does he know about laundry hanging?

#3  Give Thanks For Meeting Me.  This is really a recipe from my sister, but she doesn't update her blog, so I have nowhere to send you.  Just enjoy the recipe and think of me us. 

#4  Made By Me Monday Times Two.  Two projects I crocheted.

#5  Living Life in Onesies.  Some days, I truly wish we could!

#6  What an Infomercial Can Teach You.  Once a teacher, always a teacher...

#7   Feel Good Friday I'm Your Hostess Welcome Aboard.  Ok, I'll admit that for the top 5, I had linked to a lot of linky parties with those, so that might have had something to do with the numbers of visitors.  But for the life of me, I don't know what is so attractive about this post that it's driving people to my blog.  Maybe it's the new couch.  Everyone thinks I'm going to invite them over since we have so much space to park our butts now.

#8 Trucks, Tractors and Bulldozers, Oh My!  This was the quilt before it was totally finished.  I think.  Or maybe it was finished here and that top post is the one where the pins were still in it.  I still think it's got great colors!!  I especially love the fabric for the wheels.

#9  Does Your Classroom Layout Affect Your Teaching or Does Your Teaching Affect Your Classroom Layout?  Ah yes, the philosophical question we all ponder.  Daily.

#10  Pony Up For Pony Hats  This post must have directed some traffic to my etsy because I've sold about a dozen of these this winter!

I also thought you might enjoy the top 10 key phrases that people use to get to my site.  Watch out, you might see a pattern here....

#10 painted squares on surfboard (I swear, I've been through every post and I never wrote those words together....)


#8  lia sophia blog

#7  funny wedding clothes

#6  naked bridesmaids

#5  lia sophia

#4  pudding pops


#2  nude weddings

#1  lia sophia blog

I wrote one post about weddings that I found funny from  ONE POST  And they haven't paid me a single cent for all that advertising!!

And pudding pops!  Who knew so many people also longed for the days of Bill Cosby and his Jello Pudding Pops???

It's kind of sad to think of all the time I've spent writing and this list is what people have googled and fell upon my site.   And now that I posted these words again, even more will come for the very same reason.

Ooooh you know what would be interesting for me?  Leave a comment about YOUR favorite post of mine from 2011.  Not just from the list above, but from any post of mine that you read and enjoyed.  I'm curious....

So off we are to 2012.  Thanks for reading and please stick around for the ride!  No charge for your first trip around!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Feel Good Friday

The GARAGE DOOR edition.

We have what we call "the shop", which anyone else would call a garage.  But, with my parents' house having a garage, that would just confuse things.  We also have the barn and the grey barn, where more things are stored.  Is the grey barn grey?  Well, sort of.  But so is the other barn.  I can't explain, we just know where things are if you say "it's in the shop" or "it's in the grey barn".

We store the lawnmowers and just about anything that's not stored in the house out in the shop.  It's always been a catchall and a place we liked to play in when we were little and had to go play outside.  Ironic because that's not really outside, is it?

We found my mother's old 45 records in there.  We found lots of books from her college days.  At one point, I thought it was a magical treasure trove of past items.

Oh, it's a treasure trove, all right.

One issue I've always had with the shop is the door.  For as long as I can remember trying to open it, it has taken all of my strength.  When I was little, I could get it open about a foot off the floor and then I'd have to let go and pull up as hard as I possibly could, until it was just over my head.

At one point, it got a little easier.  I think someone greased the track or something.  BUt it was still a pain.  And then if it went up over my head, I'd have to perch precariously on a 5 gallon bucket to reach the handle and pull it down.

K-ster eventually put a really heavy duty strap on it that even I could reach.

But sometimes, I could just about hang my whole body weight on it and it just wouldn't move.

And in these past few years, it got really bad.

Recently, I could not open it AT ALL, and was furious. It was yet another thing around here that needed to be tinkered with every time you opened it.  Just press here with your knee while pressing here with your shoulder and then lift it with one hand....

And the glass in the middle was breaking.  One piece was gone, another was on its way.

And this week, some little elves appeared and this is what they left.

I laugh every time I watch this because when I say "I could do this all day" it sounds like the next thing that should happen is the whole thing comes crashing down, or someone drives their truck right through the door, or some other catastrophe.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sleeping In A Tree

On the Travel Channel, I caught a piece about extreme family vacations.  The part I saw was about climbing way up into these trees and sleeping in them..  It was a father and son and they spent the night sleeping in this sled like contraption where they were harnessed in. 

In the morning, they were sent up breakfast and hot towels by the crew on the ground.  All done by ropes.  I didn't see the beginning, so I don't know how high up they were, but they were waaaaaaay up there.

The father and son raved about how great it was.    It was $400 per night, per person and they thought it was just wonderful.

And the only thing I could think was:  They were strapped in, kind of like being on a stretcher, on their backs, all night.  Where did they go to the bathroom?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another Thing I Can't Begin To Understand

Have you seen the latest craze- TABLESCAPING???  It seems to be everywhere I go on the internet lately.

Come see my tablescape.

I made this tablescape in 5 minutes flat. 

Isn't this a darling tablescape? 

You have to come see my tablescape!

Basically, you set a table with as many plates and stuff (pinecones, dolls, heirlooms, small children) as you can find, then you take pictures and put them on your blog.  Then you link up with all kinds of blogs devoted to the fine art of tablescaping.

I can't believe people seriously do this. 

I'm not even going to link to any of the sites I've seen.  It's just too ridiculous.  Google it if you don't know what I'm talking about.

Who wants that much stuff on their tables- EVER?

Am I alone in thinking this borders on the insanity suffered by Extreme Couponers, Bridezillas and Toddlers in Tiaras women??  Anyone agree?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How We Do Christmas

For all of my life, I remember lots of presents under and around the tree on Christmas morning.  There are 3 girls in my family and we always made lists from the Sears Wishbook.  I vividly remember being so excited the year I could read through the book and write my own list.  It was all Garfield.  Comforter, trash can, underwear, I think.  I don't know if I got the trash can but I definitely got the comforter and I think I remember actually owning the underwear and until at least 10 years ago, that comforter was still in the linen closet at my mother's!  Talk about durable goods!

After we had started opening some of "Santa's" presents, my grandparents would arrive with lots of their own presents for us.   We always had a good time. 

As we got older and actually got jobs and our gifts for everyone were no longer limited to 50 cent items from the church holiday fair, my sisters and I started giving things to each other that we thought were useful gifts.

I know in some families, lots of lavish gifts are given but they are things like fancy watches or Omaha steaks deliveries.  Not the W girls.  We give practical things.  We ask for practical things.  If you look at last year's 12 days of Christmas posts, you will see all manner of practicality in my gifts.

Things were no different this year. 

When we got to my parents' house, lots of presents still abounded under and around the tree.  True, we now have a granddaughter in the family, but she's just 7 months, so there wasn't a whole lot for her.  And what she did get was, you got it, practical.  Clothes, mostly.

My father says with the amount of kitchen goods we've received over the years, my sisters and I could open a restaurant.  Very true.

My middle sister has taken to giving me food.  I know it sounds like it's the 1800s (and my sister brought me an ORANGE!  I hadn't had an ORANGE since August!), but they haul farm goods from a farm near them because I like organic eggs and chicken.  I already got a chicken when my parents were there for Thanksgiving, so my sister brought me eggs for Christmas.

When I hear about what other people get and give for Christmas, sometimes I think our Christmas must sound strange.  How can you get excited over Calphalon pans, a dozen organic eggs and a bread machine?

L-ster can show you how:

Oooh what's this?

Hey, it's a gadget!  It's the same brand as the rice maker.  Are we going to make more rice?
A BREAD MACHINE???  We're going to make our very own bread at home?  You're kidding!
And that cute outfit she is wearing was made my sister just for Christmas.  Her name is on her butt.  So cute!

Anyway, we do Christmas the way we do and I think we do it right!  Lots of homemade things, lots of things we will use right away and very little of the things we put in closets because we don't know what to do with them.

If you'll excuse me, I have some fruitcake to eat.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gnocchi Virgin

When I went to France in 1993, I visited my friend m-ster (who I didn't know reads my blog but recently commented on my Santa wear) who was in Rome for the semester, excuse me he was in Sienna, but close enough, and they kept talking about gnocchi.  For some reason, I never tried it, but it sounded right up my alley.

It's surprising to me that I have never, ever had the occasion to order it in a restaurant or eat it at someone's house.  Until I made this gnocchi myself, I had never even seen it in real life.   I guess I forgot about it until I heard someone say it and then I'd forget about it again.

If you don't know what gnocchi is, it's a lot like ravioli.  And this recipe used ricotta and cheese and eggs and was basically the same ingredients I used for stuffed shells, just with flour to make the dough.

We have a Write to Know column in our newspaper, where people ask the weirdest things and I'm just as weird for reading it.  Recently, someone asked about the gnocchi recipe for a local restaurant.  Write to Know printed it and since I had the ingredients and realized it was much easier than I thought, I whipped some right up.

You are supposed to roll out the dough into "snakes" and cut them up, but I try to do as little rolling as possible because my counter space is limited.  I have a great marble rolling board that I can bring out, but it's heavy and I decided not to get it out.

Instead, I took small piece and rolled them and the cut them.  Some pictures of gnocchi have what are truly bite sized pieces, but these are bigger than that.  These are like 2 bite pieces. This recipe had little bits of spinach in it, thus the green.   I chop up spinach for my stuffed shells, too.

It amazes me how fast they cook and how "naked" they seem when they are cooked.  I served it with spaghetti sauce (I know someone out there is GASPING) because I'm redneck like that.  But, we didn't dump it on.  We put a little beside it.  Because we're classy like that.  I think I served it with bread, but I'm not sure.  Sometimes I get all carb crazy and serve bread with pasta, but only when I'm living on the edge.

I will make these again.  I probably should put the recipe, but that means I have to go into the kitchen to get it and type it up and.....

Friday, December 23, 2011

Feel Good Friday

School's out for the year.  I'm done for 2011.  And I brought very little home to correct over the vacation. AND I don't have much to prepare over the break.

A very exciting Friday, in my book!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

While I have Your Attention....

Yeah, I probably ruined a lot of fun for a lot of people with yesterday's post about germs and cookies and throwing away any food my students give me.   I'm kind of sorry.  I think some people are really sad now.

If you're like my mother, you read it, made that noise with your tongue, said to yourself "I raised a nutcase you can't get sick from eating someone's cookies, now knock it off" and carried on with your cookie baking, pretzel dipping and peppermint bark cracking and gave everyone your cesspool of germs in a bag and wished them a Merry Christmas.

If, like me, you have now added OTHER PEOPLE'S BAKED GOODS to your list of things you won't touch with a 10 foot pole, I have something else to share.

Serving spoons and thongs.

I thought about this  long and hard the last time I was at a meeting where we had a buffet.  I happen to really like rolls and don't hesitate to eat them whole-heartedly once a month at our American Business Women's Association meeting.  But, as many restaurants do, they have a big basket of rolls, with a pair of thongs to get a roll.  Presumably so that you will not touch anyone else's roll with your filthy fingers as you get your own.

Now, I don't know about you, but I always wash my hands before coming anywhere near food .  ALWAYS.  Or I use Purell, if I can't find soap.  You could be the first person I see after being stuck in a cave for weeks and eating nothing but peppermints I found in my bag and if you offered me food, the first thing I'd need is clean hands, or forget it. 

I've had this affliction as long as I can remember.  I vividly remember washing my hands for supper and pulling out my chair with my wrists so as to  not infect myself with my germs from my own chair at the supper table.

If I can't get to soap or Purell, I use the bag the food comes in and hold the bag with my dirty hands while eating the sandwich or crackers or whatever. 

Don't even ask me about eating unwashed fruit.

I've been known to eat French fries or cookies down to where my fingers are holding them and then throw that part away.

I know, I am nuts.  They have doctors for people like me.  I am aware of it and can't help and I'm not looking to stop it, so it's all OK, right?

But, I am so rarely sick, it must work. I have used FOUR, count them, 4 sick days in my 16 years of teaching and 2 of them were for k-ster when he had his foot operated on and I had to cater to his every whim keep an eye on him for the first day.  So rarely am I sick and I see how many kids per day in my classroom?

Germaphobe, yes, but fairly healthy, yes ma'am.

Back to today's lesson.  So, I was getting myself a roll or 6, about to use the thongs (wait, is it tongs?  I'm talking about the grabby things you use to get food off a plate or off the grill, not the butt flossing underwear so many people wear these days...) and I realized something. 

If I reached in the basket to get a roll, I might brush a roll or two with my fingers.  I might. Or I might not.  And my hands have been sterilized prior to stepping in line, so it would hardly matter. 

But, by touching the thongs/tongs that EVERY person ahead of me has touched, people who have not gone near soap since lunch time, I have now touched far more germs than I would have possibly had on my roll if one person happened to touch mine while they were getting their own. 

So, I didn't grab the thongs/tongs, I reached and picked out my own roll, being especially careful not to touch anyone else's roll.  No one said a word or raised an eyebrow.

And this got me thinking about the serving spoons ahead of me.  Surely I am not going to reach my hands in and scoop out some rice, bare handed, and then grab a piece of meat, bare handed.  So, I had to touch all of the nasty handles ahead of me.  And then made sure I didn't touch my food with my hands.

You know I went back and washed my hands prior to eating my rolls. 

Here's the moral of my story. This holiday season, keep an eye on what you're touching.  Think ahead for your guests who have to share serving spoons.

I'm not a fan of Purell.  I happen to think it's a curse and is used way too liberally and is adding to the mayhem of our antibiotic resistant strains of bacterias, but in a pinch, I will use it.  I'm not recommending placing the bottle of Purell on the table alongside the servingware.

Perhaps you could be so kind as to place those disposable (I know, ME?? Recommending disposable anything????  In this case, absolutely) large napkins in your bathroom, near the sink, to encourage hand washing.  Because if I have to dry my hands on the same towel that everyone else dried their hands on....

I rest my case. 

And you can all have a rip snorting laugh when my next post is about how I contracted typhoid for Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Can You Get Dysentery From A Christmas Cookie?

When kids get to middle school and have 10 teachers, they don't  know what to do for Christmas gifts.  They sometimes pick just one to give a present to. Or they pick their 4 core classes and leave the rest of us in the dust.   Or, their mother's say "this is a great time to stop giving gifts, you're getting too old to suck up anyway, right?"

Or, they bake and give all of their teachers a little bit of the goodies.  And I applaud the frugality of that.  And the wisdom in giving sweets, because who doesn't love sweets?

And they deliver these goodies the week before Christmas.

Some come in first thing, very proud and excited to give a gift to me.

Others toss me things in the middle of class and I'm never quite sure if they are meant for me, for the whole class or if the kid just found this bag of cookies on the street and wants to get rid of it (this happened today).

And some sneak in, in the still moments when I'm not in my room, and leave them on my desk.

Some even have the nerve to not put their names!  Just Merry Christmas.  Or sometimes, not even that.

And I have to confess, I can't eat a single one of them.  Can't stomach the thought of where some of these things have come from.  Some of my nastiest, smelliest, dirtiest kids give me food for Christmas.

So I bury it in the trash, at the end of the day.

It kills me a little, because I am a baker.  And I used to make lots of cookies for Christmas and give them to people.  And then I looked at myself and thought "what if they're like me and throw it away?  All that work for nothing..."

So I stopped.

I'm a tosser.  I've been a tosser for 16 years.  I will always be a tosser of food, now that I know how gross people are.  I have some of the filthiest students.  Some wear the same sweatshirt for the ENTIRE year, no matter what is on it.  I could not make that up.  Some smell like they haven't taken a bath in years (although I blame Uggs for a lot of this because they smell really bad!).  Some have filthy hands first period!  First period????  Did they stop and change the oil on the way to school? 


Selling lia sophia jewelry has only made matters worse.  Now that I have been in the homes of some of my students, former and present, I have seen first hand what their kitchens look like.  And I have thought, a few times, "how about if I just go home and you use the money you were going to use on jewelry for, let's say, ummm, a VACUUM?"

But, I look for these things because I have germ issues, so maybe the average person doesn't notice and doesn't care. You'd be surprised at some of the germy things I've seen happen in kitchens of people who I would assume are very clean people. 

Their kitchens.  The very places where my holiday cookies/bars/biscotti/treats were made.  Carefully made by my students and their parents.  While the kids licked their fingers and scratched their butts. 

All for me, for Christmas. 

Even if I am up to date on my shots, it's not worth it to have even just a bite.

I'll take the $100 spa treatment and go to jail for taking gifts over $50.   Jail is pretty sterile, right?

Linking up with these clowns

Sunday, December 18, 2011

This is a Stick Up

Give me all your fruitcake.  Seriously.  I actually like fruitcake!  I see so much chatter out there about fruitcake and how awful it is and it's always the first thing people throw out.

NO more!  I like it!  I swear!

My aunt used to send us one every year and it came in a little tin.  It was super sticky and sweet and I remember eating some and no one else ever seemed to want any and then it would disappear.

Probably to the mass graves of fruitcakes.

So sad.

I like it.

I really do.

It's Ok if you give me fruitcake.  That comes in a tin.  I swear I won't throw it away, unopened.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Creepy Holiday Decor

We have some neighbors who put out some really funny decorations at Halloween.  They make tombstones and put them on their front lawn and they have funny epitaphs.  So funny that right now, I can't remember any of them, but trust me, they are amusing.

Sadly, they missed the amusing boat this Christmas.

Thankfully, they took it down. 

It was really interfering with my life,  thinking that Santa wears sunglasses and is really 9 feet tall.  And leaning like the Tower of Pisa.

I laughed when I read my mother's blog because it creeped her out too.  In fact, this is her picture.  I was so shaken, I couldn't remember to go take a picture.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Feel Good Friday

I didn't put up all of my decorations this year because I was busy making  a new one.  I had seen this somewhere online, not Joy to the World, but some other Christmas banner and I thought it would be a good idea and easy to make.
And it was.  But, I'm a little distressed that I did not leave a lot of space between each word.  After I had made all of the letters, I realized this was going to be a long banner and I tried to leave some space between words, but not too much. 
 I suppose I could have measured and planned ahead.  But really??  Who does that?  It's not like this is a ball gown or anything.

 I saw an aisle of red and white Christmas display at Joann Fabrics and really liked the quietness of the red and white, with no green.  I thought it would pretty to make.

 This one makes me laugh because the snowman got cut out for the hole in the R but it wasn't meant to be that way.  He's just so jolly anyway!

 I didn't think I should leave it out on the greenhouse for the whole Christmas season, so I brought it inside.  I usually hang Christmas cards on a string from this beam, but when I saw the banner online, I thought this was a better use for the beam. Plus, everyone's sending pictures for Christmas these days, so the days of the cards hanging from the beam and coming to an abrupt end.

When I showed it to my mother and it was too long for her beam,I wondered if it would fit on mine or if I really would have to leave it on the greenhouse!

It fits and then some.  We have 2 really long beams in this living room.

I think it fits in especially well with rabbit cat scratcher  on the door and the crooked Bruins flag on the wall. By the way, that Bruins shrine was supposed to come down after they won the Stanley cup.  Somehow it has stayed AND it now has the flag hanging from it.  We're really classy here, as you can tell.  

My phone's ringing.  It's probably House Beautiful wanting to do an expose on my Christmas flair. 
 I'll show them this tree first.

It's sad that you can't get the right look in a picture.  It is a really pretty tree, but this does it absolutely no justice.

P.S.  Kelly, these pictures of my old house are just for you!  Marvel at the million doors I have and the crookedness of every one of them!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Letting Go

When I find something I like, I can't get rid of it. Especially when it comes to clothes. That fit. And look decent. And last. Because I have a hard time finding clothes that fit well, last and look decent for long.

So long ago I can't even remember, I bought a winter coat at Eddie Bauer. I love it. It comes below my butt and keeps me so warm. It's waterproof, it fits over all of my sweaters. It's great for skiing. But it's probably a little outdated. It's at least 10 years old.

And it has come to mean winter to me.  When I think of cold weather, I think of wearing that coat.

It has the pull ties inside that let you adjust the waist to make it more fitted.  Jackets don't really seem to have that anymore.  That was all the rage, for a while.

So, for the past few winters, I've been on a quest for a new coat. But, the bar is set pretty high, so I can never find what I want. I guess in the past decade, people have decided bulky, puffy coats that make lots of noise are the way to go. They all are too fitted for my liking.  And those puffy coats are greasy looking.

And none seem to go below the butt. Unless I want it to go to my knees, which I don't.

After much searching, I think I've found my replacement coat. It's from Land's End. It's warm. It goes just below my butt. It's comfortable and very lightweight, so I can move well.   And it allows for adjusting in the waist. 

And did I mention, it's warm?

 This crazy furry thing zips off, and I think I'll keep it off.  It's really big and gets in the way and it itched me in the 5 seconds I had it on.  It's sitting on the chair and looks like I've killed a ferret.

 Better without the fur, I think. 
 And the pockets have pockets!  I think this is a little inner pocket where the handwarmer things are supposed to go so you will have hot hands when you put them in your pocket, but they are lined with fleece anyway, so they are plenty warm.

One of the complaints online was that the sleeves are a little too long but I think they are prefect for a winter coat.

And the other complaint was the the down gets everywhere.  And somehow, it does.  The little pieces of down seem to be making their way out of the quilting an sticking to things.

But, I'm going to keep it.  I really like it.

I can't get rid of my Eddie Bauer one just yet.  I'll put it in the ski box for shoveling and skiing because it's a great coat.

Monday, December 12, 2011

This is Why Playboy Never Calls Me

I thought I was being all naughty in my Santa suit.

But it really just looks like I'm suppressing a burp.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bass Ale Made Me Do It

A few years ago, I did promotions for various alcohol companies.  I was a Bud girl a few times.  I was a Malibu rum girl quite a bit.  Smirnoff, Bailkey's, Bacardi, and the list goes on and on.

Before you get carried away, I didn't have very many slutty  cute outfits for most of these promotions.  Yes, there were the hula skirts for Malibu, but the t-shirts were so big it kind of ruined the effect.

But most of the time, I was told to put on one of the XL t-shirts which just swam on me.  I'd tie them and try to do things to make them work.

One time, I even took a Smirnoff vodka golf shirt and tried to tailor it to my size.  And that was better, but not perfect.

Basically, I wasn't the hot (enter brand name here) girl that everyone wanted  thought about when they heard what I did.  It was like playing dress up in someone else's closet.  A giant's closet.

However, Bass Ale had a very cute outfit one Christmas season.  They had women's Bass Ale shirts that actually fit little old me.  And then they had these cheesy felt skirts that were like Santa skirts.   And since I am short, they weren't sexy, they were cute.  I liked those promotions because it was fun to wear the costume.

I kind of like wearing costumes.

The same boss that I had for the promotions also got me hooked up with a great organization that does a variety of really cool fundraisers.  One is called the Spectacle of Trees.  That deserves a post unto itself because it's really amazing what happens during it.

But the first year they did it, they asked her to provide some greeters, and could they wear Santa suits.  Remembering the Bass Ale skirts, she agreed and sent me on the job.

They loved it.  They thought it was so cute.

Once I learned this would be a yearly gig and that I would be "Santa" each year and pick the winning bidders for all of the trees, I decided I should make something more substantial.

So, I took the cheesy, felt, one-size-fits-all skirt, paired it with a top from one dress pattern and sleeves from another, trimmed it with fur and VOILA.

 My favorite part is the bottom of the skirt.  It makes me want to twirl as you can see above.

This was really easy to do and came out just like I envisioned.  Do you ever have those moments when you sew that you just amaze yourself?  I go through phases where I do the most amazing things, do them well, and they look great.  Then I look back at them years later and wonder how on earth I did it and made it look so good.

Those moments usually come when I can't even make a pillow without it looking like it was made by a 5th grader with one hand.

Sadly, I only have reason to wear this outfit once a year.  For about 20 minutes.

I thought about wearing it to school tomorrow but I suppose someone would frown on that.  I don't think my fingertips would reach the bottom of the skirt.

And it might be a tad distracting.

All that twirling I'd be doing all day.

Linking up with everyone this week:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Feel Good Friday

How can it be anything but a Feel Good Friday when it's time to take out this number?
I realized I have never taken a picture of me in this snazzy outfit.  It's time, my blog friends, it's time.

Details and pictures to follow!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

One Word

Once again, I believe the French have it right.

When someone doesn't want to spend money, we say they are stingy.  But we say it like it's stingey.  I think we should say sting-y like sting with a y.

In French, they say the equivalent of :  he has a sea urchin in his pocket.  Meaning, he doesn't want to stick his hand in there and get stung.  Read about it here.

So, I think the word really used to be pronounced STINGy because they didn't want to get stung.  But then someone said stingey and it stuck.

I sometimes really dislike the English language because it doesn't make sense.

Take the word butterfly.  At no point, should butter fly.  I have never made butter, but I am pretty certain that butterflies don't hang around it when it's being made.

I think the word used to be flutterby.  Because they flutter by you.  But then someone said butterfly and it must have just stuck.  What a stupid word that is.  Butterfly.  Imagine being a non-English speaker trying to understand.

In other languages, things are often compound words that make sense for what they are.  In French,  a  sunflower is a tournesoleil, tourne being turn and soleil being sun, it turns toward the sun.  We get it right in English too, because it's a flower, looks like the sun and likes the sun.

But try using that logic with butterfly.  Nope.  Nonsensical.

Whenever my students fuss that French is so hard, I remind them that English is so hard, they just dont' know it. 

We say there are rules in English, but there are million exceptions to every rule.  In French, if it's a rule, it's a rule and that's it.  Beauty.

When they still gripe and say that everyone should just learn English, I put these words on the board:


And then I ask them how they would explain to a non English speaker that ough has these 5 different sounds for seemingly no reason.

That usually shuts them right up.

What languages have you learned? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm a Little Bit Frugal

Does your grocery store have the gas rewards deal that mine does?  For every dollar I spend, I get a point toward money off my next fill up at the Shell station.  The points last for a month.

The grocery store has "specials" each week where if you buy a certain quantity of a certain group of items, you get extra points.  I never seem to want these items because they are CRAP, CRAP, CRAP and more CRAp.

Every so often, they have a coupon in the flier that says you can get 200 or 300 extra points if you use it.

This weekend, I shopped and got the extra 300 points.

And then I went to get gas tonight, expecting to save a little.  80 cents per gallon is the most I've ever saved and that was just once.

This is what the price said when I pulled up.
Yuck.  When I got my license, I spent $1.08 per gallon and thought that was a big deal.

When I put in my rewards card number, I almost dropped dead.  And not because I was doing the forbidden touching my cell phone while pumping gas- so I could take pictures for you, of course.
That's right.  I had 1000 points stocked up on that card and saved ONE DOLLAR PER GALLON.  Can you believe it?  I wanted to call everyone I know to get over there and save money on me. 

But I was hungry and wanted to make supper, so I took my gas and ran.  $18 richer.  WHOOO HOOO.

By the way, who stole my card and racked up 1000 points for me?  No way did I spend anywhere near that money in the past month anywhere, let alone the grocery store!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fat Man In A Tight Suit

I had my first riding lesson with a different instructor this week.  They had a "clinic" at the barn, which isn't what I thought a clinic would be.

To me, a clinic means that someone is coming to instruct a group of people and those people will be there learning, together, all day or during said time.

A riding clinic is just some outside instructor coming in to give lessons every hour and you sign up and pay to ride at X time, either in a group or by yourself.  But there is no sort of comradery about it. 

We had heard the guy was coming and no one seemed to know  him.  I went and watched a clinic at another barn one time and there was this very professional looking man to give the lessons.  He had his riding gear on and actually got on people's horses and said "see, I want him to do this" and the horse did.  He was small, like I would think a jockey might be.   And when he wasn't on someone's horse, he was standing in the middle, watching and coaching.

I watched another clinic at another barn where a woman gave the lessons.  She too was in riding gear though she did not get on the horses.  She stood in the middle and gave instructions.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this, my first actual clinic.  I liked the price and was glad r-ster said I could do it at no extra expense(usually, you also pay to use the horse unless you have one of your own).

So, I arrived early and there was sort of hush in the barn, which was weird.  I couldn't read r-ster's body language at all.

Much to my surprise, there was a man in the middle of the ring, SITTING on the mounting block (the thing you step onto to get on the horse, it usually has 2-3 steps) and he was slurring, as though drunk.

He was not in riding gear.

He was not fit.

He wasn't inspiring, from my angle.

So, I groomed Tucker and listened to what he had to say to the woman that was riding before me.  I was surprised that some of what he said was kind of harsh.  Oh, I thought, so he's one of those.  An instructor who tells it like it is.  I can deal with that, I do the same thing.  This should be interesting.

So, it was my turn and I went outside so I could enter the ring.  As I entered, he said he'd be right back, so I figured he had to go to the bathroom.

When he returned, he was very busy eating a brownie.  Stuffing the brownie, actually, while he was trying to talk to me.  So that was strange. 

And then he SAT back down on the mounting block and told me what to do.

And for the most part, we did what he said to do.

He kept laughing and telling me that we are "fun to watch".  I'm not sure what the really means.  He said I was "sweet to teach" and that it was a good lesson.

Considering how weird horse people are and how everyone thinks they are THE EXPERT when it comes to their horses, I suppose I am nice and easy to teach because I don't think I know much.  And I don't own the horse, so I don't feel like he's my child that I need to defend.

I bet it's really hard to teach people who have been riding for a long time and have learned all kinds of bad tricks.  And who have a chip on their shoulder to begin with.

I definitely believe he rode at some point and knows what he is talking about.  I think it's strange that he is too heavy to ride a horse and let the horse feel good about the weight on  his back.   I wonder if he had an accident or injury that keeps him from riding and then he got fat and this is his only income.

I don't know if I would or would not take another lesson with him.  He certainly didn't damage me.  He spoke the same language as r-ster. 

But it's like the 400 pound woman that I took tap dancing from years ago.  Or the fairly overweight instructors who teach at my gym.  REALLY?  Isn't part of why I do these activities to remain fit?  Shouldn't you look the part?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Cards and Holiday Cheer

I like to get Christmas cards and I always used to like sending them.  Somehow the frenzy that occurs before Christmas seems to make it a chore and not as much as it should be.

So now, I send New Year's cards.   It's really hard to find them.  They are out there, but few and far between.

I like to think that people enjoy a little surprise in the mail after Christmas.  Most people probably think it's weird and that I'm up to something in my choice of not sending them before Christmas.

I have, however, received my first Christmas card this year.
From my newspaper deliverer.

And from the writing on the self-addressed envelope ** it appears that he is 8 years old.  This is the annual "please send me money because I get up at 4am every day to deliver your paper, rain, shine, snow, wind".

I have no sympathy for today's newpaper boy.  It's not like in the old days when they walked or rode their bikes all over town to deliver and had to actually work.  Those kids deserved extra bonuses.

But today, they drive and deliver, and in this case, it looks like his parent drives while delivers.  They get paid real money from the newspaper company.  Money that I pay for my subscription.  I don't think I need to fork over a lot of extra cash.  It's not like they didn't realize what newspaper delivery was all about when they started this job.

Gee, how's that for holiday cheer?

Who do you tip?  Mailmen?  Newpaper?  UPS?  Hair stylist?  Nails?  Bank tellers?

**When I was little, I thought "self-addressed envelope" meant you had to write it yourself.  On TV, when they said that to enter a contest, you had to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope, I always wondered how they would know if I wrote it or if my mother wrote it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I Am Clean, I Promise


"When you were upstairs, did you notice the stench of rotting flesh?"


Such is the conversation of those who live in ancient houses.  Or at least, I hope so.

This house is 200+ years old and we know we share it with numerous critters.  As I sit here typing, I can hear them in the ceiling.  I think they have shackles and are dragging them across the ceiling.   I'm not kidding.

Thunk, scrape, skitter, thunk, skitter, bang.

You might be sitting there, cringing, gagging, thinking you should unfollow me and my filthy ways.

I swear it's not that.  I do clean.

But they did not build houses as tightly back then.

The mice have lived here for far longer than we have.

When we first moved in (remember, I grew up here and then my parents built a house next door- critter free- and then I moved back in in 1997) we had an exterminator come.  He agreed there were many mice in the walls, ceilings and God knew where else, so he put these tidy little blue blocks of poison in the attic and cellar.

And the mice came and ate them.

And just like he said they would, they died in the walls.

And STUNK up the joint.

It was summer.  That was good and bad.  Good because we could at least have the doors and windows open and no heat to add to the smell.  Bad because it was summer and there was natural heat.

We dealt with the smell of death all that summer.

Over the years, we've gone the exterminator route only to have that nasty smell with us for a while each time.

The cats have occasionally caught some mice.

Gwenstopher was actually extremely busy last winter, catching a lot of mice in the house, trying to bring the occasional mouse INTO the house.

But the one thing I don't ever find is any evidence of the mice.  We hear them in the walls and ceilings.  I have seen them in the house.  But never once have they nibbled through a box of crackers or left any droppings anywhere.

I dont' know what these mice want but my food is not it.

I think they want my sanity.  For years, k-ster never heard them.   When I explain to people what it sounds like, they say the mice could never move in that direction because of how the ceiling was built.  They say that the support beams would be in their way.

I think they've engineered some other sort of architecture all their own up there.

A few years ago, I had the most terrifying moment of my life.  We had been smelling the stench in the laundry room.  After doing all of the laundry and ruling that out, k-ster was sure it was the trash.  The laundry room trash consists of lint, but, whatever.  That wasn't it either.

After a while, we gave up.  Because after a while, they don't smell anymore.  Don't ask me what the carcasses do in the walls.  I'm sure that's our new insulation.
Eventually, I did find the source of that laundry room stench.  It was a dead mouse under a thing and it had, ummm, well, started to decay. ANd if you know what happens when bodies decay, well that was happening in my sight.  Purely vile.  I heard Psycho music and everything.  I think they were dancing to the music.
I am a courageous person.  I might grumble or gasp when things are gross or awful, but I don't shriek and play the girl card or run in the corner and throw up.

But the sight of that mouse was enough to render me speechless and when I walked into my parents house and told my father to come now, he actually did.  Usually, he'd give me a hard time about how he is "doing something" and he'd  be over later.  I must have been giving the "I'm going to lose my shit NOW" vibe.

One oatmeal container and a shingle later, the mass had been scraped off the bureau and was disposed of.  But no amount of disinfecting would ever make me ok with that bureau, so we got rid of it.

Alas, last Monday morning, I noticed a vague stink when I went upstairs.  We don't use it as part of the everyday house.  It's storage and my sewing room.  I had been sewing and there was no smell on Sunday.

As the week progressed, the smell got worse.  And it's only when you open the door to upstairs.

Since it's not the main part of the house, it's not exactly neat and tidy.  It would take a long time to actually pick up every single item and inspect it for dead bodies.

So, I don't really know what to do.

Do I just let nature take its course and hope to God I don't run into the rotting process until it's all over?  Do I start moving every single object in hopes that I never find it?  Is it in the wall ?  In the ceiling?  Chimney?

Do you own an old house and know just what I'm talking about?

Do you think this is the most disgusting thing I could write?

Do you have a cadaver dog I could borrow?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Feel Good Friday

Here we are again.  It's Feel Good Friday.  Write about what made you happy this week, come here and leave a comment and we'll come by and check you out.  I usually try to pick 5 things that were good, but sometimes I struggle and come up with just one or two.

Go try it, it's a great way to wrap the week.

**After a terrifying incident of a flashlight being shone into my living room on Saturday night, I got over it, I wasn't stolen and nothing happened.  More on that in another post.

**I did a 5K race that I used to do pretty regularly but it's hard being right after Thanksgiving.  Sometimes we aren't here. Since I twisted my ankle almost a year ago, I haven't done any races.  Not even my own.

I have started running again, not a lot, but a little.  I decided I should do this one race to get me back in the game.

It was a GORGEOUS day.  60s which is not normal here for the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  My time was 27:43 which is slow for me, but not awful.  It didn't feel great, but my ankle didn't have a fit, so all is well.

I even ran again on Tuesday and had no issues, except that I wasn't fast.  And it didn't feel awesome.  But then, running never feels awesome when I do it, but I like the results.

**Pampered Chef might be the awesomest company ever.  I had bought some bowls and one chipped.  They were a set, but my consultant said she could just send back the one for a replacement.  When I got the replacement, it was the set of TWO!  So now I have more bowls than I started with!  AWESOME.

**My sister sent home a frozen chicken from the organic farm that I like near her with my parents after they spent Thanksgiving there and I cooked it the other night.  What a grammatically awful sentence.  I should have taken a picture.  Great chicken.

She sent eggs too but I haven't had any of those yet.  It's pretty good we have to drive 10 hours to get organic farm food.  Around here, it's hard to find and when we do, I think it's really expensive.

**I started making a fabric holiday banner that I really like and love the way it's coming out.  I'll show pictures when it's done.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Witnessed Greatness Last Night

My last post might have sounded more serious than I meant for it to.  I just get tired of all the Biggest Loser competitions and most recently, the winner at my gym was someone I know and I don't know what she had to lose in the first place, but she won the whole thing.  It bothers me when someone who loses like 10 pounds can win a competition with women who are breaking their necks to lose 50.

And then I ran out of material.  I just haven't had anything to bother posting about all week.

So, k-ster made a suggestion.

I am to tell you that I witnessed greatness last night.  K-ster makes me watch the Bruins if he's watching it at home.  It's good for 2 things.  It either lulls me into some kind of drooling trance so I fall asleep, or it allows me to make lots of ridiculous comments so I can  make k-ster laugh.  Paying to see a  game live would really be lost on me because I would either fall asleep or be laughing like a maniac at all my silly jokes and no one would know why because  live games are so noisy.

So,  the greatness is that the Bruins beat Toronto last night.  That makes them now 1st in the northeast conference.  And something about how they didn't lose a single regulation game for all of November which hasn't happened since before I was born.  And they are so great and blah, blah, blah......  Fell asleep for a minute.