Monday, March 31, 2008

time flies, part V

Recipe update: I am saving them. I spent a good part of Friday filing, sorting, clipping, and decided I just can't part with them, quite yet. I did get rid of a bunch, that I knew I wouldn't make, due to the likes and dislikes of my guys. But if nothing else, it inspired me to try a bunch of new things this week.

Spring Break at our house this week, it was so nice to sleep in a little today! As many folks are, we decided to forego the warm weather vacation this year and hang out at home. We have things to take care of around the house (basement and attic cleaning, etc) that we need to do now, so that when it finally DOES get nice, we can be outside as much as possible. And there are some great movies showing at the Omni Theater at the Science Museum we want to see, and friends to hang out with, games to play, and puzzles to put together. We are forecasted to get dumped on today, so we may have to make a snowman too.

Mike was at ACES all day yesterday, so Charlie and I decided to tackle his room. (Okay, my idea, Charlie was not an enthusiastic supporter.) We did that big job of going through all of his clothes and shoes to see what no longer fit, checking out what he has for spring ( FOR WHEN IT GETS WARMER), and even completely cleaned out his closet, and went through toys. wow, what a job. We still have about 72 billion Lego pieces to sort, but that will be another day.

As with all of the toys, I would say "Do you want to keep this?" I pulled out the storage tub of matchbox/hot wheels/tonka trucks. It was full of all of the little vehicles he collected. He LOVED them. He had them from the time he was quite little, he respected the truck and never put them in his mouth. He knew what models they were when he could barely talk. Dump trucks, garbage trucks, bulldozers, coupes, all terrain vehicles, convertibles-he had them all. I would draw a big city for him, on a giant piece of paper, and we would play for hours with his little vehicles. Here is the police station, and the school, and the hospital, and the mall, and the construction site.

"You know mom, I don't really play with them anymore. They can go away".

My heart nearly burst. "Hey, I will get you a little box, maybe you want to save just a few of them for when you have kids". (because Mike's mom had saved some of theirs, and Charlie used to love playing with them). So he did, and they are tucked away with his Winnie the Pooh, and his train set, and "Good Night Moon". So while there may be a little more room in his closet, a piece of my little boy is gone forever. He would rather race those cars on his video game!

Friday, March 28, 2008

too many wonderful things

Ever since I was little, I have always saved magazine clippings. I would tear pages out of the Sears and JCPenney catalogs, and furnish the rooms in my little house that I would draw. I would cut out pictures of things I wanted to make when I was older. I would cut out whole familys and use them for paper dolls. I have always had an obsession with those glossy colored pages.

As a senior in high school, I figured I would be moving away some day, and would need to cook, and I started cutting out recipes. (I had to check with mom first, as she herself is a champion recipe clipper-perhaps it is a genetic thing).

Then college kind of got in the way, what with working all of my jobs, and homework, and such. And since I was moving all of the time, it made no sense to haul all of that paper around. So they were parked in a closet in my room at home.

But I kept clipping, and once Mike and I finally got married and somewhat settled in down in Bloomington, the clipping became even more profuse. Because someday I would have a house, and maybe I would want the bathroom to look just like that picture. Or I would plant those flowers. So the files grew.

Right now there is a small semblance of organization. I have a file cabinet, the top drawer is all recipes, organized by type. The bottom drawer is house stuff, and crafts, and gardening. But I haven't filed anything since I was on bed rest with Charlie, so that would be 10 years ago. And I keep clipping. So I now have several storage boxes full of clippings to go through, and sort, and trim, and file. this really the best use of my time? Because I honestly don't remember the last time I actually looked in that file cabinet for something.

So this would be a big deal. Shall I just throw it all away? Recycle it? Without even looking at it? Will I feel a huge sense of release, and relief? Or will a small part of me feel like it is missing?

I wonder if any shrinks read my blog, and if they do, are they shaking their heads in wonder, and thinking perhaps they need me to start some counseling?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

children's books and girlfriends

Two of my favorite things. I have books that were childhood favorites that I still pick up and read now and then. When Charlie was little, I was in heaven, getting to read Make Way for Ducklings, and Blueberries for Sal, and One Morning in Maine (okay, I have a Robert McCluskey thing) over and over. And buying Henry and Ribsy for Charlie, and The Trumpet of the Swan. Charlie's room is full of books, some he may never read, but ones that I have loved through the years.

Of course the Little House on the Prairie series, I am just sure one day I can get Charlie to read Farmer Boy. And I make it a point in life to read Anne of Green Gables at least once a year. She really centers me, and I love the descriptions of life through a young girls voice. I adored all of the Betsy Tacy books, and The Secret Garden. I have a whole shelf of my favorite childhood books: Little Women, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, The Saturdays, the original Boxcar Children book. I so enjoyed starting the Harry Potter books, and The Series of Unfortunate Events. Wonderful authors, like Road Dahl, and Kate DiCamillo, cause me to pick up anything they have written.

My new favorite "The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls" transports you to Sherbet, and the pesky aftermath of Dorothy landing in Oz. The thing I most enjoyed about the book, was the concept that no matter how different we are, girls need each other. And it doesn't matter if we are 10 years old, or 40 something-women need each other for things that even our sweet husbands can't give us. No matter how strong, confident, smart, funny, or organized we may be every day, there is nothing like a girl friend, when you really need her. Or even when you don't know that you really need her.

So here is a big thank you to all of my girl friends, who always help me find my way home.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

baking day

On those towels that your grandma used to have, was it Wednesday or Thursday that was baking day? I can't recall, so I am going to proclaim today to be baking day.

But unlike the way they used to do it, I won't be kneading bread dough to make enough bread to last a week. Lately I have been craving one of my favorite cakes of all time, and feel compelled to whip it up today. I always asked for this cake for my birthday (since we got to choose). There is just something about the fluffy yellow cake, and the gooey brown sugar topping seeping into the golden rings of pineapple. And of course the dollop of whip cream on top. Always real whip cream. My mom was not a big fan of Cool Whip for cakes. She would have it on hand, to top our jello, or pudding, but you had to whip real cream for a cake. Especially a birthday cake. And Reddi Whip? There was never a can of it in our fridge growing up. Of course, that is something that is ALWAYS in my fridge, as times have changed, and you never know when you need a decorative squirt of whip cream on top of your hot cocoa, or your hot fudge sundae.

I am pretty sure my mom used a cake mix as the base for her cake. I found this version on the internet a few years ago, since I had lost my mom's recipe and couldn't find one in any of my recipe books. The internet is a godsend for finding recipes. There are times when I will literally just type in the main ingredients that I have on hand, and Google will find me any number of things I can make. I am guessing I could just get rid of all of my cookbooks, and just use the internet! (yeah, right, like that would ever happen). Cooking Light has a great site, and also Epicurian, and pretty much any major food magazine or tv show has recipes on their web site, and of course, there is Martha. I won't link them here, as you will just end up down the rabbit hole. But do surf sometime, it is a delightful food journey, and you may find a gem like this along the way:

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1 lg can pineapple slices in juice (not syrup)
2 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c dried tart cherries
3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3 lg egg whites
2 lg egg yolks
1/3 c. milk
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp. vanilla
REAL whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350. Drain pineapple, reserve 5 Tbsp of juice. Set aside 1 whole pineapple slice, cut 4 slices in half. (use the rest for something else). Melt butter in a 9" cake pan with 2" high sides over low heat. Transfer 1 1/2 Tbsp butter to small bowl and save, leave the rest of the butter in the pan. Add brown sugar and 3 Tbsp of the pineapple juice to the pan, stir over med. heat. Heat until mixture boils and thickens slightly, about 45 seconds. Remove from heat. Place whole pineapple slice in center of pan atop sugar mixture. Surround with the halved slices, rounded side toward pan edge. Sprinkle cherries in hollows of pinapple slices.

Mix flour and baking powder in small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/4 c. sugar, beat until stiff peaks form-set aside. Using same beaters, beat yolks and 1/4 c. sugar in another large bowl until well blended. Into this mix, add milk, vanilla, and reserved butter, and mix. Beat in flour mixture until just blended, fold egg whites into batter in 3 additions. Spread batter over pineapple in pan. Bake cake until golder and tester inserted in center comes out clean-about 30 min. Cool in pan 5 min. Place platter over cake, then invert onto platter. Remove pan, rearrange any fruit that has become dislodged. Cool on platter 30 min, brush with last 2 Tbsp of pineapple juice. Cool completely-then crown with freshly whipped cream. Makes 8 servings. Or four, if you really like it.

I like this version, even though it seems rather involved, because it is really light, and makes a small pan. For my small family. You can surely use good old fashioned maraschino cherries out of a jar instead of the dried cherries, but I do like this variation. And the leftover pineapple is really good with cottage cheese.

Monday, March 24, 2008

random stuff

Dental update: Charlie got a new tooth today! We love Dr. Bob. You honestly cannot tell there was ever a break. It is amazing! He is really happy it is all over, and that novocaine was not involved. He told Dr. Bob "You are a tooth artist!" And he is.
Going to take my 12 pictures for the month-here is a sampling of ones I took for the Jan. and Feb. pages, just to give you an idea of what I am talking about. As you can see, I am still pretty jazzed about doing this scrapbook. And I want the whole world to do it too. But I realize that not everyone is interested, so after today I promise to never bring it up again.
I am trying to capture the mundane, everyday stuff that is all very important to our lives, the little things I want to remember 20 years from now (when I am taking a shower and can't even remember if I washed my hair or not).

I want to remember that I bring Claude up to Charlie's loft bed every morning, to wake him up for school. And what good buddies they have become in the last year. And that Charlie liked wearing his hair long in 4th grade.

And that Mike likes to eat the same thing for breakfast, every single morning. Which in a way is a good thing, I wouldn't want to have to make him eggs and bacon every day. Because I probably wouldn't, anyway.

I am just trying to get the hang of putting photos in my blog, so bear with the bad graphic design while I work through this.

And really, I promise not to bring up again this whole idea of taking twelve pictures every month and making an amazing scrapbook for your family. Really. Seriously. Cross my heart.

(but it IS a really good idea....)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

all he wanted for Easter...

...was a new front tooth.

A grand time was had by all on our long weekend in Bemidji. Okay, not all of us.

Friday afternoon, it was nice enough to be outside to play. Well, not exactly nice, but not freezing. Charlie and his cousin Riley are playing football, running around as 10 year old boys will do. I was in the cozy house with my mom, a fresh cup of coffee by my side. I was just settling in to do some knitting, when Riley burst through the sliding door, "Kristi! Charlie fell and lost a tooth!"

At the same time, Charlie is coming in through the front door, holding his mouth, blood dripping through his fingers and down the front of his sweatshirt, sobbing. His other hand is holding out a tooth. Or what I thought was a baby tooth, but turned out to be the bottom half of one of his front teeth. His lip is bleeding profusely, as he bit it with the broken tooth as his face hit the ice.

Grab some ice! Get a towel! Hold the poor crying child while trying to figure out the smartest course of action in the next few minutes! Do we put the tooth half in water, or milk? Let's find a dentist! Mom tells me her dentist doesn't work on Fridays, so I just start going through the phone book and calling every dentist in town. Turns out NO DENTIST IN BEMIDJI is open on Good Friday afternoon. Who knew they were so religious????

Heather calls to say she is leaving work early, and is there anything she can bring out? How about a DENTIST??? She makes some calls, while I call Urgent Care. They can't help either. One of the dental offices that I did get a hold of, before they closed, said we needed to get a sealant on the broken part, and get him to his own dentist as soon as we could on Monday.

So we spent Friday afternoon in the emergency room of the hospital.

Luckily, there were not a lot of bloody patients coming through, and we got a very nice doctor from Detroit Lakes. He informed us he had very little dental training, but would do his best. As he was looking through what I can only imagine is called "The Dental Emergency Handbook, A Visual Aid to Dental Trauma", he looked at Charlie and said, " I guess you must think I don't know what I'm doing ". We all laughed, nervously. He finally found the picture that must have matched Charlie's injury, and applied a lovely sealant. Painlessly, so he must have SOME idea of what he was doing. And so what I can only imagine is about $500 later, we were on our way back home.

We asked Charlie if he wanted us to put his slice of pizza in the blender for dinner.

He survived, and even kept his date for a sleepover with his cousin that night. He had a very sore, giant lip, but not too much pain. But he really misses his tooth. And asks to see the broken part every so often. So I guess we will be spending tomorrow trying to get in to see Dr. Bob, so Charlie can get a new tooth.

I guess as far as First Emergency Room Visit With Your Child goes, this was a pretty easy one, compared to others I have heard. But let's face it, had there been a dentist open we wouldn't have had to head to the hospital at all!

Anyone know a dentist who is looking for some new business? Because I gotta believe you would do really well in Bemidji, what with all of their ice. And especially if you were open on Good Friday afternoon.

Hoping all of YOU had a memorable Easter too!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Easter doings

In my usual exuberance to take on a new project, and then go overboard, and really not pay attention to how much time I actually have to finish things, I am sad to report that this will NOT be the year of the felted wool Easter eggs.

I have knit them. A LOT of them. They were a great thing to do at night while the TV was droning on in the background. (I have been renting MI 5, a British spy series. Oh my.)

But now they need to be felted. And my front load washing machine doesn't work for that. So I would have to felt them by hand, on the stove, which would require several hours (days) to do. And we leave for Bemidji tomorrow to spend Easter with the families, so I guess I have run out of time. Because after you felt them, you have to shape them, air dry them, stuff them, and then sew all of the cute stuff on them.

If only I didn't have a job, and dinner to cook, and laundry to wash, and a child, and a husband, and a cat, I could sit and make felted eggs all day long.

But boy are they gonna look good when they are done.

It just seems too darned early for Easter. I had to scramble to come up with some ultra fun bags of goodies to bring up to the cousins. And we still have to pack snow boots and parkas for the trip. No spring dresses and bonnets this year! (Charlie will be so disappointed). Guess we will stick with turtlenecks and sweaters.

I am looking forward to being with everyone, since we can't get home for Thanksgiving or Christmas anymore, Easter has become the one holiday that my whole family usually gets a chance to be together. And there will be chocolate.

I won't be posting again until we get back late Sunday night, so a Happy Spring (it arrives tomorrow!) and a Lovely Easter to all of you. (remember, don't eat too many hard boiled eggs, cholesterol is bad, you know. stick with the chocolate bunnies.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone, the light remains."

Today Mike is heading to Fargo to attend a memorial service and funeral for his former boss, mentor, and dear friend, David Kane. David had been having health issues, and was scheduled for a heart transplant on March 12th here at the U of M. Sadly, he suffered a major stroke on the 10th, and did not recover.

He was a monumental man, and touched so very many lives. Mike was privileged to work for him for many years, both while in college and after graduation. He learned so very much from this great man, not only about the insurance business, but about life itself. He was such an enormous presence, it is hard to believe that he was not immortal.

In fact, back in 1988, we came very close to leaving the cities and moving to Fargo, so Mike could become more involved in David's business. We decided not to pursue that path, who knows what our life would be like now if we had made a different decision. I would never have met many of the dear friends I have now.

I know that others of you have lost dear people in your lives around this time of year, and I am thinking of all of you today. The opening of this post is from a card I picked up a bit ago, and was saving for just the right person. It definitely applies to my dear Grandma Betty, who was buried on Easter weekend seven years ago. And this week, Mike can deliver it to David's family. Hugs to all of you today.

Monday, March 17, 2008

springsteen, again

Parking for concert: $20
Sitter for Charlie: $50
Overpriced beverages: $18
Tickets to Springsteen: $222

Seeing him perform Jungleland: priceless

And to think we were going to sell our tickets. We had seats 4 rows up from the back corner of the stage. We get to see everything that goes on behind the stage, from the guys working the light and sound boards, all of the guitars, and the guy who manages all of the guitar picks. We got to see the performers walk out from the lower level, before they headed up the steps to the stage. And at one point in the evening, Bruce walked back and stood at the end of a little walkway, and he was 10 feet from Mike and I, and there was nothing but air between us. I nearly swooned.

It was a completely different experience sitting there, compared to where our seats were when we took Charlie. We were so wishing he had been with us last night, he would have loved seeing all of the action. It was really fun to watch the band work together, send each other signals, and to see how one of those shows really happens. And I love being able to watch the reactions of the crowd, it makes for an amazing show. Springsteen still has the same enthusiasm for what he does as when I first saw him in concert, 22 years ago.

And he played Jungleland. I firmly believe it to be the most beautiful rock and roll song ever written. It starts out with a gorgeous, restrained piano introduction, tells it's story and builds to Clarence Clemon's unbelievable saxophone solo, takes you along for the ride, and leaves you at the end, all limp and amazed. I had always hoped to hear it live, and last night I got my wish.

After the last encore song (a rolicking rendition of American Land, that had the whole crowd on its feet singing along) everyone started heading home. We hung around a bit, and got to see the band after they had left the stage. So cool. Clarence needed help walking out, I think he had a hip replaced not too long ago, and I can imagine what a show like that does to his body. Mike assumed we had missed Bruce, but in a little while there he came, dressed in a long black top coat, he stopped and waved and pointed to the few fans who had remained to catch a glimpse. Just pure magic.

So today I can't hear very well, and I don't have much of a voice, I popped a blood vessel in my hand from so much exuberant clapping, and my body is protesting all of the dancing I did last night. But it was all so worth it.

EDITED 11:46 am

This is the only other song I really wanted him to play, but I have this awesome You Tube link to look at whenever I feel the need. This was from his concert tour back in '84, when I first saw him. Is it any wonder I was hooked?

Saturday, March 15, 2008


warning, I am going to ramble.

I just finished reading an article in Real Simple magazine, called "my identity, lost and found" and it got me thinking. At the same time, I was watching "Silverado" (one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIES) while my boys were at the Supercross at the Metrodome. And I came up with this post:

Everything we do, at the time it is happening, seems SO IMPORTANT:

-picking just the right outfit for the first day of school
-giving the boy in 4th grade that you have a crush on the Perfect Valentine
-Choir, or German? Which elective should I choose? And will I have any friends in class?
-Oh my gosh, bikini or one piece?
-If the boy I like hears I like Christopher Cross, will he still like me?
-Should I go with the Gunne Sax dress for prom, or sew a knock off?
-If I go to UND, will Mike keep dating me? Will my parents ever talk to me again?
-Should I drop out of Accounting class, because it is WAY OVER MY HEAD
-If I let Mike stay overnight in my dorm room, will I get fired from my Resident Asst. job?
-Should I switch my major from Business to Art so I don't have to take Speech class?
-Is Mike EVER going to propose? Should I ask him? Should I give him an ulitimatum?
-Should I take the job at NDSU that starts the day after graduation?
-How about the 2nd floor apartment in the old house in the seedy part of Fargo?
-Can I afford $700 for a car?
-Do I apply for the management position for Northwest Fabrics?
-Do I want to live in Sioux City Iowa for 4 months?
-Is it really a good idea to sew all of my bridesmaid's dresses?
-Can I be really skinny in time for the wedding?
-How the heck am I ever going to find my way around the Twin Cities?
-Why do I have this job where I work my butt off, get migraines, work nights and weekends for crappy pay?
-Will Target really hire me?
-Will Mike EVER want to have a baby?
-Will I ever be able to HAVE a baby?
-What the heck do I know what to do with a baby?
-Is Charlie ever going to stop crying?
-How can I get him to take a bottle, or a nap?
-How do I dare put him in day care?
-Will he EVER sleep through the night?
-Are there really germs in my furnace ducts?
-Am I giving him enough vegetables?
-Is he getting enough socialization?
-Which preschool is best?
-Can I leave him in the backyard alone for one minute while I go to the bathroom?
-Does his kindergarten teacher understand when he needs to go to the bathroom?
-Do the other kids like him?
-Is he ready for T Ball?
-Is his BMI normal?
-Can he handle a loft bed?
-How many summer camps does he need?
-What about swimming lessons?
-Are the neighbors talking about my messy yard?
-Where the heck does Charlie go to middle school?
-Shall I go with Butter Cream or Creme Brulee for the paint in my living room?

My my my. I could go on and on. And I have. Things that were REALLY REALLY important, aren't anymore. They get replaced. Thank goodness.

I guess the most important thing is that I care. And I know all of YOU care. Maybe just a little too much. But I think that is okay, too. As long as we remember to care about ourselves, too.

Friday, March 14, 2008

countdown to bruuuuuuuuuce

Mike and I are heading out Sunday night to see Springsteen, for the second time in just a few months. I am SO excited, I am like a gawky teenager who wants front row seats so Bruce can sweat on me.

Mike introduced me to Bruce Springsteen when we first started dating, he had been a huge fan for a while, and had already seen him in concert. 'The River" came out the fall we started dating, and Mike went to the next concert. His music became the background of our courtship, so of course it will always have it's own special magic and memories.

My first Springsteen concert experience was in the '80's-during the "Dancing in the Dark" phase. Mike and I had come down to the cities to spend the weekend, and the night before the concert we went to First Avenue to hear this new band called Los Lobos. The Blasters were the opening act. It was a rolicking, amazing, beer-drinking, dance until you can't dance any more kind of night. How could Bruce be any better?

Well, he was. There is a reason he is so legendary. And later on the news came out that they had filmed the "Dancing in the Dark" video (remember it on MTV? It was Courtney Cox's big break) at the concert the night before. Dang! That could have been me! Oh wait, I wasn't exactly in the front row.

So we have been to more concerts since then, both here in St. Paul, and also in Fargo. We took Charlie to his first concert in November, how fun was THAT to experience it all through a 10 year old's eyes? But he did get quite embarrassed by his mother's behavior, he had never seen me like that, all dancing, singing, and grinning. There was a lot of eye rolling, and "moooooooom!" going on. It was WONDERFUL. And for a few days after that, all he would wear to school was black tshirts and jeans. And he wanted a guitar for Christmas (which of course Mike and I jumped all over) and he starts taking lessons shortly.

Being responsible, conservative kind of people, from a money stand point, we decided to forego this concert. Well, initially we were going to go, if we could just get tickets behind the stage. Because that is our favorite place to sit, go figure. Anyway, we had both computers ready the day tickets went on sale, and after several fruitless attempts to get tickets for ourselves and some friends, we let it go. No Bruce for us. A couple of weeks later, just for kicks, I went on to Ticketmaster, and was able to find two tickets! Behind the stage! How does that work? So we threw caution to the wind, and bought them. And here we go.

I of course will write a breathless review on Monday morning. Bet you can't wait.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

livin' in the cities

I already am in trouble for not posting yet today. Sorry! I had just enough time this morning to take a shower and read the paper, or take a shower and do a post. I chose the newspaper, as I really felt the need to do my daily sudoku. So now you know where my priorities are.

I have mentioned before that I often feel guilty (well, that's another WHOLE issue) about living in 'the cities' and not doing more of the things that we can, just because we live here. Today I got to help chaperone a field trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. If you have never been there, GO the next time you are here. On a field trip, you are with a docent, and are whisked from room to room so quickly so that they can fit in everything they want to show you that you really don't get a chance to stop, and look, and absorb what is in front of you. Not that I'm complaining, it was actually good that they do it that way, because then it just makes you want to go back for more.

There is something for absolutely every one in your family to enjoy. Delicate pottery, incredible sculptures, master works of art. It is huge, and peaceful, and overwhelming, and inspiring. And the most amazing part? IT'S FREEEEEEEE.

I am already planning to go and spend a whole day, taking my time, and really seeing what is there. And since looking at beauty is kind of tiring, there is of course a lovely little cafe. And in the summer, beautiful outdoor spaces as well.

Sometimes we just need a little reminder of the wonders that are in our own backyard. Thanks to Charlie's teacher for letting me tag along!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

the roller coaster that is March

Beginning of March-still freezing, as in below zero freezing. We have been looking at the same hard crust of snow since NOVEMBER.

No problem! More books, candles, flannel sheets, blankets, comfort food.

Planning things for April, will it really be warmer then? As in, we don't need to wear our boots anymore?

Washing all of Charlie's coats, snowpants. Wishing it was the last time for the season, sadly, not.

New sandals arrive in the mail. (Have I mentioned to you yet how much I love Free shipping, free returns, tons of things to choose from, and regular sales. If you have a line you love, that you know fits you well, check HERE first before you buy another pair of shoes.) I want to wear the new sandals, at least around the house. They don't look so cute with my wool socks. But I WILL get to wear them, sometime, right?

Stuffing Charlie's shoes and snowpants into his backpack, along with his homework , I am sure we are getting close to 20 pounds. A day will come when he can just wear his tennis shoes, right? Except then I won't be able to put a hat on him in the morning to tame his bedhead hair.

Oh glorious day, it was fifty degrees yesterday! And the sun was out too!!!! Wanted to get out my lawn chair, and sit in the back yard and just soak it up, but it wouldn't sit upright on the piles of snow and ice. dang. Where was that gardening magazine I had?

Back to gray uglies today. But it isn't below freezing, so that's good. They say we may be in for the biggest snowstorm of the winter next week.

Don't like getting up in the dark. Love the fact that it stays light until after dinner.

Whew! I don't know about you, but this has just worn me out. Time for a hot cup of tea, and some candles. Maybe I can cast a spell to make winter go away, forever....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

quiz results

You have been on pins and needles, just waiting for me to publish the answers. right?

EDIT FIX: Realized the original post had been archived, quite sure you don't recall the questions, I have fixed it so you can see the original post.

1. A, B, and C are all correct! My parents weren't too enthused about hauling me around, which was the basic reason for all of those answers. But yet they wouldn't let me drive. Go figure. I am still bummed about the play. It was "Anne of a Thousand Days", and I had been chosen for final call backs. Guess I should get over it!

2. I love movies. Although I just watched "Michael Clayton". And I am sorry, other than seeing George Clooney, I didn't like it. In fact, I didn't even watch the whole thing. The correct answers are B, C and D.

3. When I was 18, answers A, C, and D all happened to me. I wasn't drinking (come on, the legal age then was 19). I was an Avon lady on my lunch hour, at night, and when I wasn't working full time at Pattersons. And the Seventeen magazine thing? It was a great item to put on my resume when I was job hunting to help people remember me! I think I won $100, and a box of sewing notions.

4. I made money on everything but pottery during my college days. I loved throwing pots, but was never good enough to sell any. But if you ever want to learn how to wheat weave, I am your girl.

5. When I traveled for Target, and vendors were footing the bill, I loved to try food that I would never get to otherwise. I tried eel out in LA, the same trip where we had lunch with Steven Speilberg and were on the set of "Batman" with Val Kilmer, Nicole Kidman, Jim Carrey, and Tommy Lee Jones. My one and only brush with fame.

6. I worked at all of those places in college. Put myself through school, so just one job wouldn't cut it! Between all of my jobs and homework, I learned to live on 4 hours of sleep a night, which came in handy when I finally had a baby.

7. Forensic Anthropologist. I don't know why, it just really intrigues me. And it couldn't be more different from accounting if it tried.

8. The most miserable four months of my life were spent in a mouse infested, dark paneled basement in Sioux City Iowa. I was in training to be a manager for Northwest Fabrics, and that was the only location they did it. They must have figured if you could do that, you could do ANYTHING! I was also getting ready for our wedding, so it was where I sewed all of the bridesmaid dresses, wrote invitations, and made table decorations. Seriously.

9. At NDSU, I really did design a cross stitch kit, and wrote a cookbook, both of which were sold at the bookstore, where I managed the Art and Engineering Department. It was the perfect job to have right out of college, and I still remember that time fondly, and all of the wonderful people I got to know. Hi Nancy!

So there you go. If you felt you did well on my little quiz, let me know, and I have something to send you!

Monday, March 10, 2008

time flies, part IV

Charlie asked for his own email account.

We put off the computer games, etc. as long as we felt we reasonably could. He got his first game from "santa" for Christmas in 2006, and this last fall he had saved up his money for a Nintendo DS. And then that darn Santa brought him an Xbox 360 for Christmas this year.

We limit his "screen time". There are still legos, and GI joes, and airplanes to play with. And puzzles to do, card games to play. Soccer and basketball to practice.

He is now helping develop a web page for his class in school. He really enjoys it, and it is right up his alley. And I discovered he was one of only two kids in the group that didn't already have their own email account. Well, we surely couldn't be behind in his technological development, could we? What are we, Amish? (Not to disparage the Amish, as I very much admire them.)

So I helped him set up a Gmail account. As I am a HUGE FAN of Gmail. And he spent about 30 minutes just trying to figure out a "really awesome" user name. And then another many minutes deciding on a password. Hey, it's an identity!

And then we had to have the "talk". Not about the birds and bees, we are so over that already. Nope, the conversation about rolex watches, low cost vicodin, and "unit enhancers". yikes. And how he should never respond to an email from someone he doesn't know.

Remember when you were little, and you got so excited when you got a letter in the mail, with your very own name on it? Whether it was a prize you had ordered from the back of a cereal box, or a birthday card from your aunt?

Now it's email. And I am guessing Charlie would be pretty excited to hear from you. His email is

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Twelve years ago today, Mike and I got up very early in the morning, (after getting home very early in the morning) to drive to St. Louis Park and open our store to the public for the very first time.

It was the result of months and months of hard work, and it was a really fun day. Lots of people came in to wish us well, in our crazy venture. We had two little simulators, and the screen was just a large monitor on one of them, and a projection type image on the other.

My how things have changed!

I really can't believe it has been 12 years. So much has happened along the way.

1. We welcomed Charlie into our lives.
2. I left Target, and ACES became our sole source of income.
3. We added more simulators
4. We survived the sales dive after 9/11. (no, the terrorists did NOT train at our store.)
5. We built and installed simulators for Lockheed Martin.
6. We built and maintain simulators for Farnsworth Elementary.
7. We moved to the MOA, and added WWII simulators.
8. We plan to survive the current economic slump!

We had a party at the store tonight for our employees, one of our employees has just taken a corporate job with Menards, and we wanted to wish him well, and also say goodbye to a long time employee who left us this fall for a real, career type job. We brought in food from Bubba Gump, and I made a birthday cake complete with candles. They brought their wives and girlfriends, it was fun to meet them. Then they flew all night, as that is something they rarely get to do in their job!

We have had so many incredible employees through the years. And some not so great ones. That is the nature of retail. We hear from old employees all the time, and often someone will leave, and find out they aren't fond of their new job, and ask to come back.

We do not have a conventional manager/employee situation at our store. We train our staff to be able to do all of the jobs, and to make good decisions, and to be responsible for each other. Mike and I don't live at the store. Mostly we just check in, and fix what needs to be taken care of. Because we are confident that the people we hire can handle things, without us looking over their shoulder. But if they need us, for anything, we are just a phone call away. And most of them respond really well to that kind of environment. And if they can't, and prefer having a traditional manager, they don't stay with us very long.

A big thank you to all of you reading this who have played a part in ACES success: starring in our TV commercials, providing advice and encouragement, cleaning our house, taking care of our child, buying flights and merchandise, and telling all of your friends and acquaintances. We can never adequately thank you, but please know how important all of you are to us.

So today is just another milestone in the idea that became ACES. What a ride!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

how well do you know me?

We spent the afternoon at the Minnesota History Center today. It was a great thing to do with a day off of school. Living in the cities, I often feel guilty that we don't take more advantage of all of the wonderful things around us. But today, we did something that was good for us.

There is an exhibit there, called MN 150, that celebrates 150 things that make Minnesota special. There was an area where you could compete in a MN trivia contest. It was so fun, and gave me the idea to do the following little quiz. (FYI, I beat my husband, "Trivia Mike", two out of 3 games. Charlie was surprised.) Because I knew that St. Anthony Falls was the only natural falls in this area on the Mississippi River. Okay, I guessed. It could have very easily been Minnehaha Falls.

Since my blog isn't exactly world-wide, and the only people who read it are friends of mine, I thought I would see just how much you really know about me. I will give the answers in my next blog. Let me know how many you got right, and the winner will get a fabulous prize!

Just so you know there may be MORE THAN ONE CORRECT ANSWER:

Things I wanted to do when I was a senior in high school (and my parents said no):
A. Stay out past 11 pm
B. Try out for the basketball team
C. Go to "call backs" for the school play
D. Date a college boy

Some of my favorite movies are:
A. Halloween
B. Big Chill
C. Raising Arizona
D. Waitress

When I was 18 years old, I:
A. had an emergency appendectomy
B. always ordered whiskey and water
C. won Seventeen Magazines "Design a Prom Dress" contest
D. was an Avon lady

I have made money doing the following crafts:
A. Corn husk dolls
B. Pottery
C. Calligraphy
D. Wheat Weaving

The most unusual food I have ever eaten is: (only 1 here)
A. snails
B. eel
C. tongue
D. fish eggs

While at college at UND, I worked at:
A. McVey Dormitory
B. North Dakota Museum of Art
C. Steak and Stein
D. Craft World

My secret (not anymore) dream profession:
A. Forest ranger
B. White House Chef
C. Forensic Anthropologist
D. Author

While in Sioux City, Iowa, for 4 months I lived in:
A. an apartment with a river view
B. the 2nd floor of an old house turned into apartments
C. a mouse infested, dark paneled basement
D. a cute bungalow

While employed at NDSU after college graduation, I :
A. designed a "Go Bison" cross stitch kit
B. mentored art students
C. wrote a cookbook
D. was a cheerleading coach

good luck!

See, here is the deal. There are things that people who you now call your friends don't know about you. And maybe they should. Because maybe they will understand you, just a little bit better.

Or else they will have really good things to ask you about the next time you are sharing a glass of wine. Or coffee. Or tea.

Beverages. Another entire blog post.

Friday, March 7, 2008

ode to the crockpot

I knew it once
but I forgot
how much I love
my big crockpot
In the winter
hearty stew
In summertime
some barbeque
I've heard that I
can make a cake
not tried it yet
my mistake
for entertaining
you come in handy
cocktail meatballs
are quite dandy
a big pot roast
would sure taste good
or maybe soup
I know I should
late at night
some oats and fruit
in the morning
creamy oatmeal
(sorry, couldn't think of anything to rhyme with fruit....)
let me know if you would like me to post some recipes, and I will add a section to my blog.
( my laptop is being finicky, not quite sure how this will really look once I publish it, hope it goes through okay!)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

and they're worth it

By the time you reach the exciting age of 45 (mid-life if you make it to 90, see, I CAN do math!) you have found products that you use all of the time. And you have figured out what is worth spending extra money on, and what isn't.

For no particular reason (other than I wanted to post about this before my sister did), here are things that are worth spending money, and those that just aren't:


Aveda shampoo and conditioner
Mrs. Meyers cleaning supplies
Starbucks coffee beans
artisan bread
King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour
Duracell batteries
Canon photo paper
Oreck vacuums
bamboo sheets
Neutrogena face soap
Oil of Olay moisturizers
double sided, magnetic, stacking measuring spoons from Crate & Barrel
collapsible colanders
battery operated pepper mill (see, there it is again...)
Joe's Sticky Stuff Adhesive from Restoration Hardware
peeled garlic cloves from Trader Joes
Layer Cake wine
Penzey's spices and herbs
Jelly Bellys
Ghiradelli chocolate chips
fresh flowers in the dreary days of March


Garbage bags
zip top storage bags
instant oatmeal
all purpose flour/sugar
fabric softener sheets
Mike and Charlie's shampoo (they don't care as much as I do...)
toilet paper
paper towels
window cleaner
granola bars
basic pasta
frozen orange juice
coffee creamer
skim milk
shredded cheese

There. Hopefully I have helped you on your next shopping trip. See, the money you save on the basic stuff can go for the splurging on the other things. Or at least that is how I justify it....

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

a world of books

Last night Charlie was diligently finishing up his homework about the International Space Station. "Mom, what 15 nations are part of it?" Ummmmmm, why don't you just google that.

If I had a question like that in fourth grade, back in the day, I would have had to wait until the next day when I could go to the library and look it up. In the card catalog first, to find if the school had a book about it, or in the school's encyclopedia. I REALLY wanted my own encyclopedias. The leather like covers, and that pretty gold printing on the spines, and if you got the deluxe edition, gold edges on the pages. So they shimmered when you pulled them off your book shelf.

An encyclopedia salesman came to our door one day. My parents let him in. We let people in our houses more often back then. And there was someone home during the day to answer the door. It must have been summer, because I was home too. The nice, balding man in the plaid sportcoat asked if he could give me a little test. Well, what do you know, our family was QUALIFIED to buy our own set of World Books! I was so excited, I am sure I just wriggled in my chair. I might even have drooled a little, when he pulled one of the books out, and opened a page for us to look at. We couldn't touch it, of course. Because it was a VERY SPECIAL, VERY EXPENSIVE book. Oh, I wanted them. So badly. I could see myself traveling all over the world with those books. And knowing way more than any of the other kids in my class.

He started discussing payment plans, and I saw my parents eye's shift away. It was the look. I knew I wasn't getting those books. I sat there disappointed, knowing that if Mike and Carol Brady were my parents, they would surely buy them for me and my brothers and sisters. But as my mother patiently explained to my cries of woe, there was no reason to have our own books, when all we had to do was go to the library.

Now when you need to learn something, you just need an internet connection. And within a very short time, you will have the answer. You don't need to know the Dewey Decimal System, or how to read an index.

And when I see the boxes of dusty World Books at yard sales, or on the shelves at the thrift store, I think maybe I should just buy them. To keep. Now that I can.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Time Flies, Part III

As I have mentioned previously, music plays a big part of my life. I used to sing to Charlie, before he was even born. Luckily, my body muffled just how bad my voice is, perhaps all he heard was a distant humming. I only sing in the car, or when I am home alone. Because I can't sing, but I like to pretend I can carry a tune. When Charlie was old enough to talk, and I would start singing in the car, he would put his hands over his ears, and say "mommy! stowp sinnnggggiinnnnng !! Okay, I can take a hint.

When Charlie was small, we always had music on in the car. Never had any Raffi, or any other traditional kids music. Nope, Charlie listened to whatever Mike or I were listening to. Springsteen, James Taylor, Earl Klugh (great for putting Charlie to sleep in the car) Bonnie Raitt.... When he was four, he started going to preschool two mornings a week at the JCC. It was good for him to hang out with other kids, and not spend all of his days with his mother. One day when I went to pick him up, his teacher was just giggling. I asked how his morning was, and she said that it was music day. Wendy had come in with her guitar, and all of the kids were in a circle around her. She asked each child what kind of music they like, what their favorite song was. She got predictable answers-Wheels on the Bus, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. When it was Charlie's turn, he gleefully pronounced "Stevie Ray Vaughn!!" All of the grownups burst out laughing. Because apparently there aren't a lot of four year olds who listen to him. And I was quite proud that I was giving my child such an excellent musical background.

Fast forward to 2008. Charlie saved up his money and bought himself an Ipod shuffle, he loves to listen to it when he takes a homework break, or just needs to tune out his mom telling him to clean his room. He has received some Itunes cards for gifts, and loves to go on-line and find songs to buy. But I am started to grow a bit worried about his choices. He recently added "Ice Ice Baby" from Vanilla Ice, and "Can't Touch This" - what was that guys name? With the Zubas? Oh good heavens. And he has several Queen songs, and Billy Idol. Seriously.

I do my best not to wrinkle my nose in distaste when he picks a song or artist that I would never listen to. Because he is ten. And it is time for him to start making his own choices. And be his own kid. But when he starts searching for Milli Vanilli, I will have to draw the line....

Monday, March 3, 2008

lights out

A typical winter Sunday night at the Pohl house-Mike was on his computer, I was organizing things upstairs, Charlie was playing with his DS. Suddenly, everything went black, and I heard a loud BANG! outside. No power!

In the summer, when a storm threatens, I get out the flashlights, and the kerosene lamps, and the matches and candles, and the radio. Just in case. We have never needed it.

You don't really expect it to happen in the middle of the winter. Luckily, I am a candle freak, so we had plenty of those. And enough fluid to burn two lamps. Mike and Charlie found their head lamps, but our emergency flash light was dead, owing to the fact that whoever used it last left it ON. And I don't normally have five fresh D size batteries lying around. As it was, I had to take the batteries out of my pepper mill to power up my book light, which chose last night to run out of juice. (yes, I have a battery operated pepper mill. I am a kitchen princess. More on my obsession with handy kitchen items in another post...)

Charlie wasn't quite sure what to do. We aren't big campers, so he hasn't had a lot of experience getting by without electricity. Mike and I were excited-the perfect excuse to sit and read! Charlie didn't think it sounded like fun. After sitting on the couch for a few minutes, staring at us, he realized there weren't a lot of other options.

What a setting. Soft candlelight, no noise except the ticking of our battery operated clocks. We were all snuggled on the couch with blankets, each of us with our own little light source, reading away. Luckily, we have a gas stove, so we were able to whip up thick mugs of cocoa and tea.

I was reminded of the "Little House" series, Laura, Mary, and Carrie bundled into their tiny beds, Ma sitting by the fire mending something (don't know how the heck she did that by lamplight, I guess they didn't know any different!) Pa enjoying his pipe.

Every few minutes, Charlie would heave a big sigh, and ask when the power would come back on. We told him it could be 10 minutes, or a day. No way to know. It did come back on, an hour and 30 minutes after it went out, and I was a little disappointed. I think maybe I will declare a lights out night, every so often, just to remind us to take a deep breath and listen to the clocks tick. I am sure Charlie will be thrilled.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

it's a musical life

I could not live without music. It is really essential to my life. The one thing I would absolutely have to have if stranded on a deserted island is my Ipod. And the charger. Oh wait, guess I would need some electricity. Okay, let's just hope I never get stranded on an island, because if the only music I had would be me, singing, I would be in trouble.

Watched the Academy Awards last week, heard a lovely song from the movie "Once". Just beautiful. And then the pair who wrote and performed it won the Oscar for best song. And they were so delightful when accepting the award. I am going to attempt to link to it here:

(Hope that works, I am still learning all of the technical aspects of blog world.)

The movie was beautiful, and yesterday I went out and bought the soundtrack. It was filmed with two hand held cameras, and $100,000, over three weeks. So exciting when you see such passion being shared with the world. And people who you have never heard of getting some attention. Not for being in rehab, or chased by papparazzi, but for just writing and performing a touching song.

Enjoy your weekend! It is finally March. Good-bye dreary days of February, we will start to get our first glimmers of spring!


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