Monday, November 30, 2009

I {heart} faces challenge: We {heart} Tooshies!

Here is my photo entry for this week's challenge on I ♥ Faces. 
Click on the button to visit the blog!

This week's challenge has a twist, to capture bums instead of faces!

This photo was taken last year at a festival.
My husband is holding hands with our two daughters and our niece. Sweet!

Writing Workshop: ER Visit

This Writing Workshop is brought to you by
Mama Kat at Mama's Losin' It.

This is a special Valentine's Day (2008) edition of "ER Visit", wherein Bekah is clumsy and stupid and sprains her ankle:

I was trying to be good. Trying to be nice. I was taking out the trash, for Pete's sake!
I somehow walked wrong and twisted my ankle,
falling down three cement steps outside our back door in the process.

I laid on the cold ground for a few minutes, leaking a few tears and wondering what the hell I was going to do. I was at home with the kids by myself.

I gathered myself together and crawled, quite literally, back into the house. I made it to the couch and took off my shoe and sock, as my ankle was already swelling. I have a random fear of being in an accident and the medical personnel being forced to cut off some article of clothing. Wierd, but off with the shoe.

Now, who to call? Dear hubs was out shopping and the man refuses to own a cell phone. Try Mamo. No answer. Try Mamo's cell phone. No answer. (slight panic) Call sister. No answer. Call sister's cell phone. Finally! She agrees to come wait with me and watch the kids when hubs returns and takes me to the ER.

Hubs returns and freaks a little. He's not good in medical situations. Read: I always take the kids to the doctor.  Anyway, he pulls the car into the yard so I don't have far to hop. We high-tail it to the ER, where we are greeted with a crowded waiting room full of the sick and sniffling. February, remember?

We sit forever. I try to prop my foot on a small table, but I am bumped and jostled. No good. I am in some serious pain at this point. I am really starting to think I broke something. Despite the pain, in true photo geek fashion I ask hubs to snap a few pictures. He rolls his eyes, but complies:

Finally in an examination room, my helpful nurse takes my blood pressure.
Her: Oh, this is kind of high. Someone must be in a liitle pain!
Me, out loud: Oh, just a little. (smiling weakly)
Me, on the inside, screaming with pain and frustration: No shit, Sherlock!!

Her, frowning at my ankle: I guess you need an x-ray, huh?
Me, out loud: Yes, I think so.
Me, on the inside: You must be related to Dr. House!!

After forcing me into even more painful positions for the x-ray, it is determined that my ankle is "only"severely sprained, not broken. Mr. ER Doctor informs me that "at my age" it is often better to have a break. Me, at my advanced age of 31, can't comprehend this logic. But I went on my way with a pair of crutches and called off work for the next two days.

Moral of the story: If you need a couple of days off work, fake your illness or injury!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday in My City: Santa Parade

Unknown Mami

We are traveling the world together with the Unknown Mami. I am joining you from Middletown, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati.

Well, Thanksgiving is over! Last night there was a Santa Parade downtown, welcoming the Christmas season. Of course we toted the kids down there so watch. It was longer than I expected (an hour), and a strange time for a parade- it didn't start until 5pm, and it starts getting dark around 4:30!  Here are some of the shots that turned out:

Some sort of Snow Queen.

One of several fire trucks.

Various characters. My kids liked the Gingerbread Man.

Little cutie-pie dancers. Morgan and Viv were dancing along!

This was a pretty elaborate gingerbread house, complete with Kermit, Elmo, and Cookie Monster.

Lots of the parade "floats" were large inflatables on top of cars.

Had a great time!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Volunteers Make a Difference

My dad volunteers at a local elementary school, helping kids with reading and basic study skills. He loves it, and insists he gets as much out of it as the kids. Recently our newspaper did a feature on school volunteers, and they interviewed dad and included his picture with some of the students. The article is now in the career/life album I am making for him.

cs: black & white
stamp: Print Pattern
ink: Whisper White
vellum quote: DCWV
chipboard buttons: ColorBok

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Random Dozen...Tuesday?

Welcome to my 100th post!!

1. Are you sticking to traditional Thanksgiving foods this year, or are you being culinarily adventurous?

Pretty darn traditional around here!

2. Tell me something concrete that you're thankful for. (Something you can literally touch, see, etc., not a concept like "hope.")

I am very thankful for my dishwasher. Seriously. It gets a lot of use.

3. You knew the flip side was coming: Share about something intangible that you're thankful for.

Today, as part of my job, I saw a child who had been abused by his mother, so badly that he is legally blind. I am thankful that I never experienced anything like that, and that my life choices have not led me to become a person who would do that.

4. Share one vivid Thanksgiving memory. It doesn't have to be deep or meaningful, just something that remains etched in your memory.

A couple of years ago someone brought a karaoke machine, and lots of people sang. Very strange Thanksgiving activity, in my opinion.

5. What is one thing that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt is going to happen this Thanksgiving because it always does, year after year?

My Great Aunt Rosie will eat dessert before any “real” food!

6. Do your pets get any left-overs?

Nope. Anything but dry cat food upsets Luna’s tummy.

7. Does your family pray before the big meal? If so, do you join hands while seated, stand, repeat a formal prayer or offer a spontaneous prayer? Who does the praying?


8. Will you be watching football in the afternoon? If not, what will you be doing?

Probably not. The guys watch football and the women sit in the dining room, drinking coffee and catching up.

9. There are two distinct camps of people on this issue: How do you feel about oysters in the dressing/stuffing?

This is the type served at our dinner, and I don’t care for it! One of my cousins brings it every year.

10. Do you consider yourself informed about the first Thanksgiving?

Now that I think about it, probably not.

11. Which variety of pie will you be enjoying?

I think a better question is, which variety will I not be enjoying? I love pecan, pumpkin, peanut butter, and apple.

12. Do you feel for the turkey?? (This is a humorous throw back question related to the 12th question in another Random Dozen!)

The poor turkey was born and raised to be on my table; it’s his destiny.

Visit Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee for more randomness... and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Book Review: Lying with the Dead (2009) by Michael Mewshaw

The title is intriguing. The cover art is intriguing: a white box containing a toy airplane, bus, and car. It’s a quick read, full of melancholy and some dark secrets. Unfortunately, the story itself fails to deliver on the expected level of mystery and depth of character emotion or revelation.

The book tracks the lives of three siblings, 60-year old Candy who is the self-designated “mother’s keeper” and longs for romance; Maury, a loner with Asperger’s syndrome; and Quinn, who is a jaded actor living in London. The adult children reconnect in their Maryland hometown at their aging, manipulative mother’s beckoning.

Each of the book’s chapters takes the point of view of one of these characters, showing us their present lives as well as moments in the past that contribute to their family’s dysfunction and their own idiosyncrasies. Even though we are afforded views into each individual’s life, none are fully developed characters. None really get to the point where they can address and deal with the past, at least in any meaningful way. And isn’t that the point of a “dysfunctional family” novel? Isn’t that where the real drama lies?

The conclusion of the story is at once swift and predictable, leaving the reader with longing for the “what next”… or maybe it’s a feeling of “so what”? If you’re in the mood for dysfunction and shocking parental behavior, but with a sense of success, or at least closure, try The Glass Castle: A Memior, by Jeannette Walls.

Next review: Jemima J by Jane Green

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sundays in My City

Unknown Mami

I have joined this meme over at the Unknown Mami.  Each week we post a picture of our town/city/suburb, etc. I am starting with two of my favorite pictures from a recent trip to Smith Park. The park has miles of walking trails, a large fishing lake, baseball fields and soccer pitches, picnic shelters with grills, a playground, splashpad, and skate park area. It is also the home of many festivals and events throughout the year. Oh, by the way, I live in Middletown, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you all have a lovely park in your area, too! Have a great week.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


A while back I decided to make a "Week in the Life" album. The album is not completed, but I wanted to share my favorite part of the experience: every day for a week I recorded three gratitudes. Most were small things, but it really helped to boost my outlook and put my life in perspective. Here's the list for the week:

Kings Island season passes
A beautiful day!
auto brew on my coffee maker
Monday afternoon naps
quiet time in the car
hand sanitizer
the kids being in a good mood when they woke up
Morgan was able to get her H1N1 vaccine through her school
I was chosen for a guest spot on a stamp design team
kids got dressed for school without nagging
a good night's sleep
eating dinner at the table as a family
my supervisor is pleased with a newsletter article I wrote
shopping for the baby shower I'm planning is finished
McDonald's Coke!
Justin took the kids to school this morning
our babysitter
an easy day at work
kids at my dad's for the night
seeing out of town relatives
Pumpkin Spice lattes

Give it a try for a few days and see how you feel!  If you post about this, send me a link and let me know. Tis the season for Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friends with Flair 11/20

I had big plans to reveal my Christmas card mock-up today. Let's just say Life, with a capital "L", got in the way. So instead, a quick card I made for my brother's birthday.
Sketch: SCS244
Supplies: June KOM, wc pencils, aqua blender pen, stickles, misc. ribbon, Staz On Timber Brown ink, Me &My Big Ideas paper.

Have a great weekend, and please stop by tomorrow for a peek at some content from my "Week in the Life" album!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Random Dozen 11/18

Here's another Random Dozen from Linda!

1. If you could master one sport, what would it be?
Ohh, figure ice-skating or gymnastics. So pretty, graceful and powerful, accompanied by music.

2. When you make a major purchase, do you go with your gut instinct, or do you do research to make an informed decision?
As I get older, I tend to do more research. It took me 3 weeks and 2 trips to the dealership to decide on the last car we bought, a Kia Sedona. I tend to second-guess myself. Did you read last week’s post about Buyer’s Remorse?

3. There is an old kids' game that says you can find out what your movie star name would be by using your middle name as your first name and the name of the street you grew up on as your last. What is your movie star name?
This is quite tame- I always heard it was your “adult film” star name! Mine is Lynn Hetzler.

4. Would you rather give up your favorite music or your favorite food?
I say this with trepidation, but food. Anyone who knows me also knows that I don’t really discriminate when it comes to food, so I’m sure I could readily find a replacement favorite food. Music, not so much.

5. There are two types of banana preferences. One is pristine yellow, almost to the point of being green; the other is spotty and more ripe. Which is your preference?
Ripe, but not completely mushy. I like my bananas to smell like bananas. Now apples, I have more distinct opinions about.

6. Your favorite tree is?
I really like the romanticism of Weeping Willows. We had one on the farm on which I grew up. Great for shade and games of chase!

7. On a scale of 1-10, how tech savvy are you?
Maybe a 5? Web-based stuff and cameras I do OK with, but put an advanced phone, Crack-berry, or video game in my hands, and I am lost!

8. Has H1N1 touched your family?
Not yet. I say this because I am immune compromised, and still have yet to find the injectable vaccine. I get every bug that comes around (I have kids AND work with kids), so I figure it’s just a matter of time. I usually don’t get worked up about stuff like this, but I admit I’m a bit nervous. However, my oldest daughter has already had seasonal flu, and my doctor put me on Tamiflu as a precaution, and it worked!!

9. Are you an analytical person, or do you just accept things the way they are without questioning or scrutinizing?
I scrutinize and analyze to death.

10. Is your personality more like that of a dog, cat, or Koala?
Considering I have no idea what the personality of a Koala is like, I will say cat. I’m not the “follow you around like a puppy dog” kinda person. I am very independent, I like naps, and I like cars. Thus, the cat. Here's our kitty, Luna.

11. Do you keep in touch with friends you made years ago?
Yes, thanks, in part, to FaceBook. I also am still very close to 3 college friends. (See previous meme regarding “jumping for joy”- my biannual Girls Weekend!) Here we are in 2008:

12. You are checking out at a grocery store. In the express lane, there are more people than the regular lanes, but of course, their load is less than those in the regular lanes. Which lane do you choose (assuming you qualify for the express lane) and why?
If the express lane is run by a grocery employee, I will choose that. If it is the self-scan variety, I tend to shy away of there is a line. In my experience, there is always something that doesn’t ring up properly, or someone who can’t figure out where the money goes in. By the way, seeing people in the express lane with too many items is one of my pet peeves. It’s just rude!

Join in on the fun at 2nd Cup of Coffee!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Mojo Baby Card

Just a quick post for today. Geez, I haven't posted a craft project in quite a while! Anyway, this is a baby card I made using an older Mojo sketch, #105. The paper is all scraps, and I used my new Martha Stewart border punch to create the zig-zag pieces. I love this punch because it punches and embosses at the same time!  I used So Saffron and Soft Sky ink, and the SU! stamp set, "Small Sayings". In case you can't read it, it says, Twinkle, twinkle, little star. Darling baby, here you are!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fall into Flavor, Week 5

So here we are, the final installment of Fall into Flavor.  This week I have "Beefy Hashbrown Bake". This dish is very hearty and practically a meal in itself.

Beefy Hashbrown Bake

4 cups frozen hashbrown potatoes
3 TB vegetable oil
1/8 tsp pepper
1 lb ground beef
1 cup water
1 envelope brown gravy mix
½ tsp garlic powder
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1 can (2.8 oz) French-friend onions, divided
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

In a bowl, combine potatoes, oil and pepper. Press into a greased 8 inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350* for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are thawed and set.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, cook the beef until brown; drain. Stir in water, gravy mix, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes. Add vegetables; cook and stir 5 minutes. Stir in half the onions and cheese.

Pour over potatoes. Bake for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining onions and cheese; bake additional 5 minutes or until cheese in melted.

Join us at 2nd Cup of Coffee for more yumminess!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Random Dozen Wednesday!

1. What was the last song you listened to?
“Five Little Monkeys”…jumping on the bed… I work with children with disabilities. My days are filled with annoying, stuck-in-your-head kinda songs. By the time I leave work, I usually want silence in the car for the drive home!

2. Have you ever had “buyer’s remorse” over anything?
I hate to say this, but my house. It was perfect when my husband and I first bought it in 2002, when I was pregnant with our first child. Now with a 6 and 4 year old, one bathroom in an overall too-small house just does not cut it. We didn’t look far enough into the future, and with the economy, I don’t know how long we’ll be stuck here.

3. What is something in your life that you are thankful for now that you didn’t think you would be at the time of the event? (Something that seemed ill-timed, inconvenient or hurtful which turned out to be a good thing)
I think I need a lot more time to think about this one!
4. Do you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade every year? If so, do you have a favorite float or balloon?
I have long held a trite fantasy of cuddling on the couch each Thanksgiving with my children to watch the parade. However, my daughters aren’t really into it yet. I try to draw their attention to the cartoon characters with which they’re familiar. Being a former band geek, I like the marching bands!

5. Share a quote, scripture, poem or lyric which has been an inspiration to you lately.
That which does not kill me makes me stronger. I call this one up frequently, and I really believe it. I have been dealt some major challenges in my life, and I know I am wiser, more patient and tenacious because of them.

6. This is meant to be a fun question, and this is a G-rated blog, but please share a “guilty pleasure,” something that you enjoy that’s probably not the most edifying, time-worthy or healthy thing you could be indulging in. Did I mention--G rating?
I love cheesy chick flicks. My husband is a terrible movie snob and makes fun of my tendency to stop on “Dirty Dancing” (or a similar movie) every time it’s on cable.

7. What Thanksgiving food are you looking forward to?
My great aunt’s homemade noodles!

8. What is your favorite book to read to children, or what was your favorite childhood book?
I love anything by Eric Carle. Right now my girls are really into The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Polar Bear, Polar Bear. Even my youngest can “read” the stories to us. Carle’s repetitive language and colorful collage art are perfect for young pre-readers, and they lend themselves well to extended lessons on animals, colors, art, etc.

9. Do you collect anything? (Feel free to post a photo.)
Spoons. I have assorted spoons including antiques, State spoons, and those from tourist attractions. My dad made this display rack that hangs in my dining room.

10. Gift bags or wrapping paper?
Gift bags. They are reusable and store easily.

11. Share an after-school memory from when you were younger. What was your routine like on an average day?
High school football season was the best- I was on the drill team and we had practice every day that began about 45 minutes after school let out. Friends and I would drive to the nearest convenience store to grab snacks, or listen to music and flirt with boys. The picture below was taken my Junior year. That's me, front row, left.

12. True story: Once, in a job interview, I was asked this question and told there would be no clarifying; I simply had to answer the question: “When you’re fishing, do you feel for the fish?” So what about you? When you're fishing, do you feel for the fish??
I don’t like to fish, but on the rare occasions I have participated, I tended to LOOK for the fish!

Check out other Random anwers at Linda's blog, 2nd Cup of Coffee.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fall into Flavor Week 4

It's time for the fourth installment of Linda's Fall into Flavor. This week I am offering Calypso Beans, a dish that my friend and coworker Kristine makes for carry-ins and cookouts. She originally found the recipe on the internet, but in her words, "has tweaked it to perfection".

Calypso Beans- serves 12 but is easily doubled

1 large can pork and beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can butter beans
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground sausage
1/4 lb. bacon, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt

Brown beef, sausage, bacon and onion over medium heat. Drain kindey and butter beans. Combine ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar and salt. Put meat mixture in crockpot. Add beans, then pour ketchup mixture on top. Cook on low 6-8 hours. May be made ahead of time and stored in refrigerator, then cook on low 8 hours.

Visit Linda for more deliciousness!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Random Dozen 11/4

1. It's early morning, about 2:00AM, and you're driving home. You come to a red light and sit there. There is no one in sight for miles around. Do you wait it out or run the light?

I am cringing as I write this, but I wait. What a wimp.

2. If you had the chance to re-do the last 24 hours, would you change anything?

I would drink more water. I had a ton of caffeine today and am feeling a little buzzed and headachy. Other than that, I can’t think of anything that was in my control that I would change!

3. When you reply to someone's comment on your blog, do you reply in your comments or go to her blog and comment? (Or email her)

I usually go back to her/his blog and comment. If I think about it, I will go to her/his profile and look for an email address.

4. Your favorite Disney movie is:

Sleeping Beauty

5. Do you recycle?

Oh, you really want me to answer this question in this day and age?! Yes and no. We don’t recycle things like cans and pizza boxes, because it costs quite a bit to recycle where I live and we are on a very tight budget. However, more than a little of our potential household waste goes into crafting projects! I also employ reusable grocery bags. Does that count?

6. Games of strategy or games of chance?

I prefer games of chance, so if I lose I can pretend it's not my fault!

7. Do you have any recurring dreams?

I did when I was in high school, a terrible one about my father dying and me hiding behind the school to cry. Thankfully that one only lasted about 6 months, and I have not had a recurring dream since.

8. What did you learn from your first real job?

That I am not as patient as I had thought.

9. Do you buy or borrow most books?

Mostly borrow.

10. What fashion trend of the past did you say you'd never wear again but did?

I honestly can’t think of anything, but I am really looking forward to everyone’s responses!

11. When do you start Christmas shopping?

I usually start sometime in September. I need to spread out the spending over a few months. Last year was my first time braving “Black Friday” and I had a great time, so I will probably try that again. This year I am making a lot of gifts and have already purchased most of the materials I will need for those (lots of crochet).

12. Have you ever been so happy that you literally jumped up and down for a few seconds? If so, what was the occasion?

At least twice a year, when my college girlfriends and I get together for our bi-annual girls weekend! When we're finally all together in the hotel lobby, it's time for the happy dance!

Visit Linda for more Random Dozen answers!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A story that ends up being about potatoes, or Fall into Flavor Week 3

This is Dan. Dan played a pivotal role in my life when he introduced me to my husband over 13 years ago. He was Justin’s best childhood friend; Dan’s girlfriend Kristie was my friend from the freshman dorm at college. Some of the very best days of my life were lived in Columbus, Ohio, with Justin and me living in a small campus apartment and Dan and Kristie living right upstairs. Impromptu parties, constant music and incense, good beer and wine, late night save-the-world sessions, and Dan’s cooking… Dan is a master in the kitchen.

So here comes the potato part… one of Dan’s creations was Potatoes and Brown Cheese, an ooey, gooey, filling dish that can be served along side a main course, or just heaped on a plate by itself. I have attempted to quantify ingredients for you all, but please remember this is a “to taste” kinda recipe. In fact, Dan's eloquent directions go something like this: cut up some taters, throw them in a pot with tamari and cheese, and cook 'em until their done. Enjoy!

Potatoes and Brown Cheese:

Olive oil

Minced garlic

4-5 lbs. red potatoes (scrubbed but not peeled)

1 cup (or so) Tamari sauce (rich, dark soy sauce)

2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, the sharper the better

Cut potatoes into equal sized pieces. In a large, non-stick stock pot, sauté the garlic in the oil. Add the potatoes and 2/3 cup tamari sauce, cover, cook over medium heat until soft, about 30 minutes. (DO NOT USE WATER). Stir occasionally. When potatoes are almost done, add 2 cups or so of the cheese (more if you really like cheese) and the rest of the tamari. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For more Fall recipes, visit Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee.
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