Friday, February 29, 2008

retail love

I have an unnatural love for Target.

It has nothing to do with the fact that they employed me for seven years.

There is this sensory connection, that starts when I am walking across the parking lot. And then the automatic doors whoosh open, and it is as if I have been transported to my very own playland.

Okay, before you think I have gone a little nuts, bear with me.

Growing up in Bemidji, we did not have a lot of shopping options. We had an old fashioned five and dime-Woolworths. It had the counter in the store, where you could buy a sandwich, or a piece of pie out of the round glass case, or a fountain cherry coke. When I worked downtown, I loved to go there and get a grilled cheese sandwich, and sit on the red vinyl stools. You could twirl them around, and look at all the tables of treasures on display. Sparkly nail polish, 45 records, those nasty black prickly curlers (that I mentioned yesterday), hankerchiefs, candy, notecards, pencils...they had everything. Across the street was a smaller version of that, called Lindruds. They didn't have a lunch counter, but they had fabric, and buttons, and live birds and fish! Then there was S & L, and JC Penney. Two story department stores, where we would shop for school clothes, and new shoes, and get our pictures taken in the basement, or buy our Girl Scout sashes. And then there was Gibsons. Before it became Pamida, and moved out to a giant building, it was downtown (heck, ALL of these stores were downtown, we didn't have a mall). It had everything from ironing boards to Christmas ornaments to swim suits. And I remember the merchandise being stacked all the way to the ceiling, which made it a little dark in the aisles. But it was still a fun adventure to go in there.

So that was what I knew about retail. Small spaces with predictable offerings. And I wasn't a big shopper-I would save baby sitting money to buy a 45 record, or a Seven Up candy bar, or maybe an Archie comic book.

The August before sixth grade, we took a family trip to Duluth. I had never been there. We went to Target. I am pretty sure that when we walked through the doors, I just stood and stared for a while. Until the other shoppers had to move me out of the way. Now THIS was a store. Bigger than the stores I shopped at in Bemidji all put together. Everything seemd to be extra bright, and shiny. Or so it seemed to me. And I don't even remember what I got to buy, but I am sure I had a little retail high going for a few days.

Now that we have Super Target, I do the bulk of my shopping there. I love buying my groceries, and socks for Charlie, and a new CD, and cat food, and a new t-shirt for myself, all in the same place. I have the Target credit card, it's for a good cause, you know. I am guessing that my purchases have probably paid the salary of at least one teacher at our school. I earn a 10% off coupon each month, and save most of my shopping needs and do a big run. Sometimes I could use two carts. But I don't, I have my pride. Dang it, I can fit it all in one. Even with the giant packs of paper towels and pails of cat litter. But even though it appears to be a lot of work , I really enjoy it.

Because when I walk through those doors, I feel like I am twelve years old again, and I have just walked into my first Target, and the whole wide world is right there, for me to buy.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

evolution of a haircut

Do you remember when you were little, and your mom would take you to her 'hairdresser'? Or maybe you had the 'at home' haircut. I don't think there was such a thing as a 'stylist' back then, unless it was in Hollywood.

My first haircut involved chopping off the ponytail that hung down my back, just above the rubber band. My mom saved it. I think she still has it. I might have been 6 or 7. Prior to that, I had the at home haircuts. These involved wetting my bangs with Dippity Do (remember? in the green jar?) then taping them down with the pink zig zag tape, so she could cut them straight. Which, due to my multiple cowlicks, never really worked. But my first haircut was a 'pixie". It was all the rage back then. Before Farrah Fawcett and Dorothy Hamil came along.

If there was a big event, say the Christmas Play at church, or maybe Easter Sunday, my mom would use black prickly rollers in my hair, to keep them in place she stuck pink plastic pins through them. I would have to try and sleep in them overnight. Sometimes she wrapped a scarf around them, so they wouldn't fall out while I tossed and turned, BECAUSE I HAD PRICKLY ROLLERS IMPALED ON PLASTIC STICKS STICKING INTO MY HEAD. Thank goodness curly hair wasn't required very often.

I have an appointment to get my haircut today. I became addicted to 'good' haircuts when I worked for Target, and would run over to Aveda on my lunch break. I felt that I worked so hard I surely deserved it. Those haircuts included a head and neck massage, and wonderful smelling product. And I loved my 'stylist'. But then I left Target. Then I couldn't afford her anymore, (you know, that whole quit-your-job-to-stay-home-with-your-baby deal) so Great Clips became the place to go. I really missed the massages, and the one I went to was right next to a fresh seafood place, so let's just say no product could outdo those aromas.

I got some money for my birthday, and decided to treat myself to a 'good' haircut, and started going to the Aveda in St. Paul, which is now Juut, and I LOVE my 'stylist'. I have been with her for a few years now, and she really knows my hair. You know how it is, you get used to a person. And my sweet hubby is kind enough to buy me gift cards to go there, so I don't feel guilty spending money on my hair.

How the heck did haircuts get so expensive? There isn't really any new technology. The 'hairdresser" who cut off my ponytail in the little shop over Gibsons in downtown Bemidji used a comb and a scissor. So does my 'stylist'. Okay, we have blow dryers now, instead of sitting under the big dryers (which I always secretly wanted to do as a child, and read a movie magazine). And really good smelling product. And the whole neck/head massage thing. But a haircut today could have nearly bought me a wardrobe when I was 7 years old.

But when I walk out of that salon, with my hair all swinging perfectly, and smelling really good, for at least a little while, I will feel like I am worth it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

picture day, & one of my quirks

Today is the day to take my pics for the month of February. I posted about this a long time ago, (so if you have already read that one, I apologize. I think it is such a neat idea that I want to make sure everyone knows about it! ) how I had seen this idea called Twelve on the Twelfth. Every month, on the 12th, you take 12 pictures of your day. It can be anything, what you are eating for breakfast, the pile of laundry you are working on, a sunset, the thermometer reading, or your pet. Just things that show a snapshot of your 'day in the life'.

Since I am not that with it, I didn't get around to it in January until the 30th. And since there are only a couple days of Feb. left, I best get to it.

The idea is that you then take those photos to make a scrapbook of a year in your life. Each month could be a page or two, you could use all 12 pictures, or just 1. Totally up to you. And won't it be fun for Charlie to look at, when he is 45? "Yeah, I remember, my dad used to eat the same thing for breakfast EVERY SINGLE MORNING."

There will be no pictures of celebrating a holiday, or any "firsts", or vacations. It will just be about normal, every day, this-is-what-real-life-looks-like stuff.

And the best part is, you get to go out and buy all new supplies to put your scrapbook together.

Now, that could be another whole post. About how I love coming up with new projects, mostly so I can go out and gather all of the things I need. And then I can put them in a cute box, that maybe I will make a little label for, and it will look really good sitting on my shelf. And you never know, I may actually get around to making the project someday.

Here are just a few projects that are currently "in progress" (meaning that I have everything I need to make them, and they are either in a fun basket or in a nicely labeled storage box):

**aprons for my mom and Mike's mom, from a fun vintage pattern

**a scrapbook from our trip to New Mexico (this one is actually together, I just need to finish the journaling)

**a new scarf to go with my purse. I know, I am weird.

**the scrapbook I started to give Mike for our 20th anniversary. Some really cool supplies here. I am thinking maybe it will be done for our 25th? One can dream.

**a felted tote bag. So fun! It is all knit, I just need to sew it together and felt it.

**Charlie's scrapbooks. An on-going project...

**jewelry. I am pretty sure I have enough beads and findings to make every person in Minnesota something. But the Bead Monkey is having a sale this week, and I have a gift card...

**cards. .. birthday cards, thank you cards, sympathy cards. I really love making cards. And buying more supplies to make them.

**socks. I got this wild idea that I need to learn how to knit socks. Mostly because I found a really cool book that was just about....socks.

I won't continue on, because I am starting to get embarrassed. Needless to say, I am never bored, and if I am ever disabled and can't leave my house, I will have plenty to keep me busy. Hey, maybe if I spent less time down the rabbit hole I could actually get some of these projects done!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

falling down the rabbit hole

It's a good thing I don't work in a regular environment, where I have a cubicle, and a boss, and co-workers who could pop in my office at any time. Because if they saw what I was doing on my computer a lot of the time, I would get fired for inefficiency.

Oh sure, I start out my work day with the best of intentions. I fire up my laptop, and dutifully get my accounting software up and running. I pull up my spreadsheets and enter sales, and calculate how we are doing for the month. But then, my mind heads elsewhere: I should probably check my gmail, and if I check my gmail, there will be a great link I need to go to, maybe a new recipe. Say, that reminds me, I wonder what coupons are on the SuperTarget website this week? And didn't I send back a Netflix movie, I wonder what is in my queue, and I should probably add that movie I saw on the Academy Awards. Do I have any library books due? I should check my hold list, and add that book I read about in the paper this morning. And I think I need to renew my prescription at the pharmacy, okay, we can check that off too.

Oh, right, I am supposed to be working. So I head back to my profit and loss statement, and while I am working I am listening to my Ipod, which reminds me that I wanted to go to the Itunes store to see if they have that song I heard the other day. Oh look, I have new emails, better see what is up. There is the newsletter from the Scrapbook shop, I should go and print their coupons. They are telling me about this great new book, maybe I should go and check it on Amazon to see if they have a better price. Say, Amazon has some pretty good deals of the day! But wait, if I go back to the library site maybe they have it.

Right, I was reconciling my bank statement. Focus! Have I checked the balance of our personal checking account lately? I should probably do that. Oh look, another email! It's from the school, reminding me about an event. I wonder if Charlie has a homework assignment due for inquiry? I should really check. And see what his lunch balance is.

Lunch! That's right, I was going to check that cooking blog for a recipe for tonight. Which reminds me, I haven't even read all of my favorite blogs today. Maybe I will just do that while I am eating lunch, so I don't waste any time.....

Monday, February 25, 2008

12 phases of a husband's weekend away

1. Husband starts planning dirt bike trip in several months. Think to self: "well that will be fun for him."

2. Husband begins to purchase items needed for trip. A new helmet and several motorcycle parts later, think to self: "hey, he is spending some money here, wonder what I should buy?"

3. Long weekend trip now encompasses leaving on Weds. and returning on Monday, think to self: "geez, that's like, almost a week".

4. Husband starts working on check list for trip, think to self: "oh sure, now I am going to have to deal with the store AND be a single mom". Feel sorry for self.

5. Hubby and friends pack their bikes up 3 days before trip, think to self: "boy, it would sure be nice if I could get away for that long". Feel sorry for self some more.

6. Husband decides what he would like me to cook for his night to feed everyone, think to self: "hey, I won't have to cook dinner for five nights!" Do a little victory dance.

7. Night before trip, listening to husband snore, think to self: "I get the bed to myself for five whole nights!" Do another little victory dance.

8. Husband leaves, I say to Charlie "where should we go for dinner?"

9. The next morning, realize I have to walk Charlie to the bus, and it is really cold out. Curse the fact that hubby got to go somewhere warmer and I did not. Act grumpy.

10. Realize hubby will be gone Academy Award night. He will not be here to complain that I watch "those stupid award shows". Decide to have a party!

11. Hubby and friends are driving 16 hours straight through the night to get home, thinking about them and hoping they don't run in to bad weather. Kind of miss having him to snuggle with. Can't sleep, listening for his key in the door.

12. Hubby crawls in bed at 6 am, so glad to have him home.

And I didn't even do any compensation shopping.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

February days

I often wonder how our bodies can handle the giant temperature swings of February. Based on the fact that nearly every family I know has had someone sick this month, I guess they can't! Here is hoping that March brings us a month of health for everyone. And we should have a "February is finally over, and we have made it through the worst of winter" party. Except for all of that snow we usually get in March. But hey, it will be warmer. Right????

The sun is shining today, and it is the first time I haven't felt chilled to the bone since the last time it was over 3o. The snow is even melting, and I would just love to find a spot in my house where the sun is streaming in and curl up like a cat for a nap.

But of course, weekend duties call. Like bathroom cleaning and floor scrubbing and laundry. Mike has been gone since Wednesday, and honestly, I kind of let things go when he is gone. Which is completely ironic, because he could care less if the house is clean when he IS here. I guess Charlie and I have just been so busy these last two few days that we haven't been here to notice. Mike is having a high time riding his dirt bike in Arkansas with some friends. They insist that it is really fun to ride through the woods and get muddy and cold. To each his own! I am just glad he got a chance to have a break-wonder if he will bring home any moonshine...

This is an incredibly boring post-sorry. Today, this is more of a diary entry than anything else. I will try to come up with something vastly more interesting next week.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

hold tight

For any of you who had to ride the bus to school, or send your kids on the school bus, last night's news was hard to take. And today's news of the children that didn't survive brought me to tears.

I can't imagine standing on the corner waiting for the bus, or looking out your window at the bus's normal arrival time, and not seeing it arrive, lights blinking, signaling to you that your son or daughter is home safe again. Even when it is a little late, the anxiety that creeps up on you could consume you with each minute you have to wait.

Two of the boys were brothers, 9 and 13. I am crying just thinking of what that poor mother is going through right now. How nothing makes sense.

I rode the bus all of my school years. I was the first one on in the morning, and the last one off at night (kind of a dumb way to do it, don't you think?) I remember crawling on to the bus in my snowsuit, in kindergarten. I was on the bus a good 45 minutes each way, and the bus driver and I became good buddies, I always sat right behind him. He got to know me, and even gave me a big bag of marbles once that were from his childhood.

One morning we were making the turn to head up the Power Dam Road-I was the only kid on the bus. It was winter, and very slippery. The bus made the turn, then kept going and tipped right over on it's side. It was a slow tipping, so I wasn't badly hurt. The bus driver was strapped in, so he was okay. He helped me crawl out a window, and we walked to a nearby farm for help. And to warm up. As I remember it, they just sent another bus, and we were a little late picking up the rest of the kids. No big deal. I remember going home from school that night, to tell my mom and dad how exciting and scary it was. But that was as close as I ever got to a bus accident.

It seems that every now and then, we receive news that is to be used as a reminder for what is really important.

Every night, after Charlie goes to bed, he calls to me at some point to "come up and snuggle me mom." Sometimes I am in the middle of watching a favorite TV show, or in the middle of a row of knitting, or reading a really good article in a magazine, and I yell "oh Charlie, not right now" or "for crying out loud, you can go to sleep without me coming in there!" Because I have all of these oh-so-important things to take care of, and he would just make me miss them, or postpone them.

Last night he called out to me, for a snuggle, and I practically ran down the hall. Because I could.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

One Special Person

Do you have a favorite teacher that you still have fond memories of?

Mine was Mrs. Brown, in sixth grade, at Lincoln Elementary. She had blonde hair, and glasses, and nearly always had a smile on her face. At least, that is how I remember her. She really seemed to understand me, and was a good friend to me. I wonder if she is still in Bemidji. I would love to go and knock on her door, and give her a big hug.

Charlie has found his teacher of a lifetime this year. Truly, I cannot imagine anyone who is better for him. She listens, really listens, to her students. She has taught them self-reliance, and respectibility. She is tough when she needs to be, and an excellent hugger when that is called for. She knows, every single day, what each of her students needs, on that day. She gives them work suited for their abilities, while always helping them strive for that next level. She has high expectations, and they love to meet them.

Charlie wasn't feeling well this morning, so I kept him home. By noon he was begging to go in to class, so I brought him in. On the way, he said "Mom, I don't ever want fourth grade to end". Now, he has had some good years at Horace Mann, but he has NEVER loved school so much.

So Amy, thank you for putting your heart and soul into every single day, and for being that one teacher that Charlie will always remember.

And if you have a teacher that you still remember with fondness, track them down, and send them a note. Or stop by and give them a hug. I bet they will remember you, too.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Time Flies, Part II

Happy President's Day! I am sure our forefathers would be pleased to know that we set aside a day to sleep in, and go to furniture sales in their honor. My mom always whips up something with cherries in it to celebrate the day-if I was really ambitious I would do the same. Perhaps I will just put a maraschino cherry in a glass of coke and raise a toast to George and Abe.

Yesterday I was making a Chocolate Coke Cake and Charlie was helping me. He really does like to cook, when he is in the mood. I asked him to grab a stick of butter from the fridge, and he said "You know, I have always had a thing for butter". It took me a moment, then I remembered what he was talking about.

Back before preschool days, I used to care for Owen Hoeft on Thursday mornings. They were our next door neighbors (still greatly missed!), and he and Charlie were born only 4 months apart, and were great buddies. They loved getting together-playing in the sandbox in the summer, the snow in the winter, or in Charlie's well stocked room when it was too cold to be outside.

One day Joelle had come to pick him up, and we were enjoying a cup of tea in the living room. Just catching up, sharing mom stories, and getting advice on how to deal with whatever our boys were going through at the time. We heard lots of stifled giggling coming from Charlie's room, otherwise it was too quiet. You remember that non-sound, when you know there is trouble brewing....

I walked down the hallway and peeked into the room, all I could see were two shapes under the blankets of Charlie's race car bed, and more giggles. I whipped back the covers, and there they sat, with greasy beaming smiles. They had been eating a stick of butter. In his bed. Amongst the sheets. I had to choke back my own laugh (I could see a cookie, or a candy bar, but a STICK OF BUTTER????) so that I could discipline them and deal with the mess.

And so the love affair with butter began. I have no idea why, but Charlie just really likes butter. During that same year, I found him under the coffee table with a stick of butter, another time under the dining room table (at least he didn't eat it in his bed again...). I guess now that he is 10, he no longer feels compelled to eat the stick, and can just enjoy it on his mashed potatoes. Or in his chocolate cake:

Chocolate Coke Cake (recipe courtesy of my mom)

Preheat oven to 350, grease a square cake pan.
In a bowl, combine 1 c. flour, 1 c. sugar, and 1/2 tsp baking soda.
In the microwave, or on the stove, melt together:
1/2 c. butter (yup, a whole stick)
1/2 c. Coke (you must use the real thing)
1/4 c. mini marshmallows
2 Tbsp. cocoa (I used Ghiradelli unsweetened)
Add this melty concoction to the dry ingredients, and whisk together.
Stir in:
1/4 c. buttermilk and 1 beaten egg
Combine until smooth and pour in the pan, bake for 30 min. or so.
For the frosting, melt:
1/4 c. butter
2 Tbsp. cocoa
2 Tbsp. Coke
Add this mixture to 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar. Whisk together to get rid of the lumps, and pour over the warm cake. You can throw in some toasted pecans or other nuts into the frosting before you put it on the cake, if you so wish.
Best served with a giant scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

With a cherry on top!

Friday, February 15, 2008

cabin fever

It's that time of year again-if you aren't completlely sick of being stuck at home, you are probably actually sick. I know so many folks who have been sick, are sick, or probably will be sick, this month. Warm hugs to all of you. As one who has made it to the other side of sick, you WILL feel better soon, just give it a few days. And some advil, and some tea, and a really good book, and a whole lot of sleeping.

As far as cabin fever goes, how come we decide in February that we need to repaint our entire house, or at least get some new slipcovers and pillows? Because we don't get out much. And we see the same stuff we have been looking at for months. Only the winter light plays tricks on us, and makes things look even worse than they actually are. Or maybe that's just me....

Okay, this may sound a little self serving, but I just need to tell you what my dear hubby said last night while he was doing dishes. I informed him we would just be having leftovers for dinner tonight (I made a giant pan of chicken lasagna earlier in the week) and he said " yes, but your leftovers are better than most people's firstovers." sigh. Guess that is how we have survived being together for so long! And he can be guaranteed that I will continue to cook dinner for at least another week.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Day of Love....

It being one of my favorite holidays, I am going to take the day off of work and chores and everything else and enjoy it. At my age, I won't be waiting for the roses to be delivered to my desk at work, or wondering if THIS would be the year Mike would propose. I can just sit back and eat fine chocolate.

Hope all of you get some fine chocolate to indulge in too.

And a Happy Birthday wish to my dear friend Kari !

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

new math for old people

Charlie was working on his math homework.

Okay, first let me say, that I did not have homework in grade school. Other than a diorama in November of 6th grade, which I LOVED doing, and made little Indian girls, and clay pots, and tiny little corn in a shoe box.....but I digress. Maybe I am just getting too old to actually remember what I did in grade school, but I am quite confident that I did not have much in the way of homework until I was a senior in high school. But maybe that was just Bemidji. So when I went off to college, it was really overwhelming.

So I am glad Charlie has homework. He has to learn time management, and to realize that there are more important things than playing his xbox. Not to mention all of the other wonderful things he is learning. But honestly, the new math? wow. Thank goodness they send home an answer sheet. Because math really isn't my best subject. Even though I took all of the advanced math classes in high school, I avoided it like the plague in college. And now I am a bookkeeper. go figure. Thank god for calculators.

The question is, if I have to use the answer sheet in FOURTH GRADE, what will I do when he comes home with advanced trigonometry homework in 8th grade?????? Will the teachers still send me home an answer sheet?

All of you who have older kids, do I need to lose sleep over this? Help me out here. And thank goodness I have you. Otherwise I see many dollars spent hiring tutors, because I can't help my child figure out his math.

And then there is spelling. One of the words on his list this week is 'perspicacious'. I don't even know what it MEANS, let alone be able to spell it off the top of my head. Or how about 'paradigmatic'? (seriously, I had to go and get the list off the fridge so I would spell it right for this post.) And Charlie will review the words on Friday morning, before he heads to school, and won't get more than 1 or 2 wrong, if any.

Amy (Charlie's beloved teacher this year, who I know checks out my blog)-you are amazing. Just don't tell Charlie to ask his mom to help him with his math homework without sending me an answer sheet.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Food Ties

Thinking today that it is time to make my annual heart shaped sugar cookies. The recipe has been in our family for generations, and it is THE STANDARD recipe for sugar cookies for any occasion. They are always made at Christmas, Valentines Day, sometimes Easter (shaped like eggs, and decorated-oh fer cute!), or anytime you want a little sugar love. I have made them shaped as airplanes for store meetings, and stars for the fourth of July. With all of the work they are, it seems a shame to just make one batch, so I usually double up, then spend a whole afternoon rolling, cutting, baking, and decorating.

They always remind me of my ancestors. My sister calls them Aunt Katie's Cookies, but I honestly don't know who Aunt Katie is. We have been instructed not to share the recipe, as it has a 'secret ingredient' only known to our family. okay.

There are so many foods that I make that are tied to people. When I make Chicken Chili, I think of my friend Karen, who first made it for us several years ago. When I make Mashed Potatoes, I think of Susan Branch. I always use her recipe, I love her cookbooks, and I actually got to meet her once at a book signing. She was just as I imagined her. Whenever I make Lasagna, I think of my mom, putting it together, and always adding a bit of brown sugar to her sauce, because she heard it was what Italian chefs do.

Waffles remind me of my Grandma Doris. There were rare occasions when she would watch my brother and I, and she always made us waffles for dinner. They were a treat, as my mom didn't have a waffle iron. And it was especially fun to have breakfast for dinner. Pies bring my Grandma Betty to mind. She always sang while she cooked, whether it was pot roast or cherry pie. And she had a beautiful voice, which I think made all of her food taste better. Walleye, or any fish, of course, bring me memories of my dad. From catching it, to cleaning it, to eating it.

I am hoping someday to pull of these wonderful recipes and memories together into one place, but for now I will just keep track of them in this blog. Please share your food memories, if you are so inclined.

Monday, February 11, 2008

book love

Lived a dream this weekend-read an entire book. Whenever I am feeling really overwhelmed, I always think of that day when I will have time to curl up with a good book, and not feel guilty that I should be doing something else. My nasty cold gave me the perfect opportunity to leave the every day and read that book.

It was written by Martha Grimes, one of my favorite mystery writers, who mostly writes a series about a Scotland yard detective. I have read many of them, and they are very well written, with lots of well developed characters. But this is the first in a trilogy of books that she wrote about a 12 year old girl. Emma lives in an old resort hotel which her mother owns and runs, and she is determined to solve a 40 year old mystery of a 12 year old girl who drowned. It was full of lots of atmosphere and intrigue, and wonderful characters. So not only was it the perfect book to read on an extremely cold weekend, I have two more in the series to look forward to!

Books have always been really good friends to me. I used to look forward to going to the Bemidji Public Library-my mom would drop me off on her way to run errands and buy groceries at Red Owl, and I would find a corner of the kids room with my stack of treasures I had found on the shelves. In the summer, I would stash a book in the basket of my bike, and ride somewhere quiet and read as long as I could, before I had to get home to help with dinner.

Going to the library at Lincoln school was my favorite part of my elementary years. I still get a warm feeling when I walk into a library, and know that I am safe, and surrounded by books. My current favorite library is "The Big Red Library" up in Roseville, Charlie has been calling it that since he could talk. We used to go there once a week when he was little-they have a wonderful kids room, and the bonus of a Dunn Bros. coffee shop for mom.

I love technology, and can't believe I have this on-line journal that I am sharing with my friends. I can watch a movie on my laptop, or text my sister on my phone. But holding a book, feeling the rough edges of the pages, and being transported to another time and place, will always be my favorite way to spend those free moments that we all can find in our busy days.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Feed a Cold-

-starve a fever? Or is it the other way around?

I've been hit with the cold of the century. Okay, it isn't THAT bad, it just feels like it.

Today requires warm blankets, fuzzy slippers, hot tea, and a good book. Which I have.

And my guys will take care of me, maybe I can even get them to cook dinner!

Soft fluffy snowflakes have been tumbling from the sky all morning, covering all of the old snow with a clean blanket. Wow, I must have a fever too.

A Happy Weekend to all of you!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Time Flies, Part I

Had to make a very quick grocery store run today. I ran into numerous moms at SuperTarget, babies in car seats, kids in carts, kids walking by moms holding cans of baked beans. (really, he was adorable, and a good little helper).

**May I just pause a moment here, to let all of you know that proper grammar or sentence structure are not all that important to my blog, I write the way I think. So, if you are looking for subjects, and verbs, and proper punctuation, you have come to the wrong blog.**

As I whipped through the aisles, filling my cart with items from my carefully crafted list of things I needed to get us through the weekend, I was reminded of the millions of trips I made to the grocery store with Charlie, back when he was my constant companion.

First of all, just getting ready to go to the store required forethought. Sippy cup or juice box? Check. Cheerios in a ziploc bag? Check. Spare Diaper? Check. Current favorite toy? Check. Then the bundling of the child in winter, the car seat dance, the childfriendly music on the radio, okay, we were set to go.

At the store, I tried to make it fun for both of us. I would have him look for colors in the produce section: yes, those grapes are purple! the bananas are yellow! the cucumbers are green! let's count the red peppers! Moving on to meat: what does the cow say? what does the pig say? where do the animals live? And on throughout the store. I could never get out of there in under an hour. And back then, I did a lot of shopping at the bag-your-own places, so I had to make sure he was entertained in the shopping cart while I was bagging things up. As he got older, I would stand him in the cart with his own bag so he could "help".

Now, I can breeze in, and breeze out, and even have time to grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks on my way out of Super Target (which I really wish I could have shopped at back in the day, the one stop shopping would have been a dream). I don't have to think about packing anything before I go shopping, other than my wallet and coupons. I don't have to get the kid in the car seat, load up the groceries, return the cart and make sure no one was stealing my child. Or break open the Goldfish for the ride home, because he had seen me put them in the cart.

But watching those moms today, with their adorable little kids in their carts, I kind of missed it. I didn't have anyone to talk to while I shopped, or to help me decide which fruit to buy. And honestly, I kind of missed counting the red peppers.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Pressing Matters

Just taking a survey today-how many of you iron? As in pressing your clothes?

When I am working from home, my usual attire consists of things that clearly do not need ironing. Sweatshirts, polar fleece, pajamas. Yes, I do occasionally work in my pajamas. I absolutely do get dressed by noon. In case you were worried. Why? Because I can.

Mike actually irons more than I do. He has done all of his own ironing for 20 years. It all started when I pressed a shirt for him, and he complained. An easy redistribution of household tasks took place.

I used to be fanatical about having Charlie look pressed. I will let you in on a little known secret, until just last year, I ironed his clothes every morning before school. Yes, even jeans. Last year it hit me, doesn't matter! So I only do it now if they are REALLY wrinkled. Or he is going to be in a concert. And he doesn't like to look tidy any more. It just doesn't work with the whole I-am-in-4th-grade-now-and-have-long-hair persona. (oooo, big word, hope I spelled it right).

I once had an accident that involved an ironing board, resulting in 23 stitches in my face. Those of you that have known me for a while will know what THAT was all about. For those of you who don't, I will fill you in sometime over a glass of wine.

My mother is still quite fond of ironing, I think it provides an almost zen-like quality to her daily rituals. She has the board set up in the lower level, and likes to watch TV while she does it.

My grandmother, bless her heart is the Queen of the Iron. She still irons her sheets, and I am pretty sure her undergarments. Of course, she still uses a wringer washing machine, and hangs her clothes outside to dry, even in the winter. I am not kidding. And she turned 85 last summer, and has arthritis, and is blind in one eye. And I think Ironing Day is on Tuesdays, since I know for a fact Washing Day is on Mondays. Just like those dishtowels. And she sticks with that schedule, no matter what. Maybe that is how she has survived on her own as long as she has! Perhaps I need a household schedule. Oh, never mind.

But today, I discovered the Princess of the Iron. She even does snowflakes. And irons in her classroom. So the dying art of ironing has not been completely lost. Thank goodness.

But if you want to know, the worlds best Iron is the Rowenta Professional. Money well spent. I guess I do have a little of Grandma Doris in me after all, since I do own, and use, lavender scented ironing spray on my sheets...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Food can be Fun!

Or not.

The other morning, I was hungry for breakfast. Looked at the oatmeal, didn't seem like a good idea. Then my brain actually formed the thought "an egg/cheese/sausage biscuit would be fun!"

When, or where, did I start putting food into FUN, and NOT FUN categories? I am sure it is a childhood issue. And probably contributes to the fact that I am not a size 2, and never will be.

So, going with that idea, here are some foods that fall into those categories:

FUN-anything with sprinkles on it

NOT FUN-tofu (hey, they should call it tofun, and fool people!)

FUN-anything that has cheese on it, in it, or near it.

NOT FUN-visible fiber

FUN-salty things-especially the really big grains of salt, partially submerged in dark chocolate

NOT FUN-pork rinds. ewwww

FUN-things that have syrup drizzled on them

NOT FUN-gray food

FUN-foods that are crowned with whip cream

NOT FUN-cauliflower. really, what was God thinking? even cheese doesn't help it.

So that is the way my brain is traveling I have made myself hungry.

Feel free to contribute your own FUN/NOT FUN foods! With recipes, if you are so inclined.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008



1. Leave small lamps on all day, in each room, so that when you move throughout the house you don't have any dark corners (don't get all energy saving on me, these little babies don't use that much electricity, and this time of year my sanity does not have a price tag).

2. Use screen savers depicting tropical settings.

3. Read novels set in warm climates, that ooze heat. "Secret Life of Bees" would work perfectly.

4. Light lots of candles. As my sooty walls will attest, it is better to spend the extra money and buy ones made of soy or beeswax. If they smell like coconuts or freesia, all the better.

5. Pull the grill out of the garage and have hamburgers, and get frozen cobs of corn, and slice up some hydroponic tomatoes and pretend you are swatting flies.

6. My favorite place to be in St. Paul to battle the winter blahs is the Conservatory at Como Park. And if you don't live here, it is worth a visit. Or take the kids to the tropical part of the Minnesota Zoo. You will get warm, and shed your coats, and revel in it.

7. Start planning your window boxes and planters. Get a gardening magazine for fresh ideas, or go on-line and look at flowers and pretend you can smell them.

8. Buy some green plants. I like to buy English Ivy this time of year, and put little pots of it in every room. Then when it finally warms up, it transplants really well to those window boxes and planters that you already have planned!

9. Rent a movie that will warm you up. "Dead Calm" with Nicole Kidman will heat things up, and scare the pants off of you at the same time.

10. Put some music on your Ipod that sounds like you are on a warm vacation. I love Bebel Gilberto, her album "Momento" will chase the grays away.

Good luck keeping cabin fever at bay!

Monday, February 4, 2008

coffee love

It is February, and time to reflect on all of those things that make our lives better.


Don't know how I could start a day without it.

My favorite every-day-first-cup-starter is Starbucks Cafe Verona. mmmmm. Only $6.29 for 12 ounces at SuperTarget. That is two, maybe 3 venti coffees if you buy them at the store. So look at the money I am saving! I have also grown quite fond of Trader Joes Winter Blend. Whole bean, love the smell that drifts up from the grinder as it is whirling around. A little cinnamon, a little nutmeg. Makes the whole house smell good. And about $6 for a one pound can. So just a splash of creamer in my mug, and I automatically have the first smile of the day on my face.

Winter days, the second pot is brewing by 10 pm. If Mike is here, we may even need a third pot in the afternoon-decaf, of course. Our school is doing a year-round fundraiser with a local roaster, I love the Golden Blend. And it's for a good cause! Coffee everywhere.

How did I not drink coffee when I was trying to get pregnant, finally was pregnant? I think I let myself have one cup in the morning. For like, 6 years. And while I was nursing. Criminy. It is as if I am making up for lost time.

So, I switched templates, what do you think? Once I get my tax package done, I am going to get some photos on here, and some other links. Then maybe go public. Why am I such a chicken? I guess once it is public, you have to think more about what you say. Wouldn't want to offend anyone. And there is no way it will be as good as yours! I have to say, when you don't have a new post, I get kind of sad.

I surely do need some more action in my life.


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