Friday, January 30, 2009

old kitty

Claude needed a pedicure, and to have his thyroid checked.

Wait, he's a cat, right?

Yup. A very expensive cat. A cat who rarely darkened the door of a vet's office, until his big overnight adventure last summer that resulted in a compound fracture. Now he and the vet are best friends.

While he no longer needs weekly visits to get a new cast, he does have a thyroid issue that needs to get checked regularly. And nails that need to be clipped by a professional since his poor foot healed crookedly. And during his visit this week, it turns out he also has hypertension.

The curse of getting older isn't just for humans. And according to the chart at the vet's office, while Claude is 18 in cat years, he is 85 in human years.Poor old kitty.

So now he adds another med to his daily dose. And he still doesn't like it when I shove them down his throat. But when I reward him with a nice bowl of his favorite grilled poultry with gravy, he mostly forgets about it, until I wrestle him again before bed time.

But I think he loves me anyway, as he will still pose for his portrait.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

party time in Chicago

Mike and Charlie had a grand time in Chicago-the Pohl Family spent the long Martin Luther King weekend with John and Mary at their lovely home in Lake Forest. Thanks for showing them such a great time!

They journeyed downtown, and had lunch at the Billy Goat Tavern (made famous in the Saturday Night Live skits with John Belushi and Dan Akroyd-remember "chzbuga, chzbga, chip, pepsi!):They had a beverage at the top of the Trump tower, and checked out things downtown:
They had dinner at an Irish Pub (my sister-in-law Mary, Mike's mom Jan and his dad Don):Charlie and his cousin Lizzie sledded at the Country Club:John and Mary prepared a gorgeous and delicious birthday dinner for everyone:Left to right: Mike's dad, Don, his brothers John and Bob, Charlie, John's wife Mary, Mike's mom Jan, Mike, and Lizzie, John and Mary's daughter.

And of course, cake for the birthday girl!Happy 75th Jan !

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

banishing gloom

Apparently I am feeling the need to keep everyone's spirits lifted, in what can be a gloomy, depressing time of year here in the northland.

I lifted the following that I got in an email from my very favorite store in Chicago, called POSH. They travel the world and get interesting finds at flea markets from Argentina to France. Dishes, glassware, unique gifts, all kinds of fun things. Here is their website, if you wish to check them out further. I often order on-line from them, they are very speedy!

Anyhoo-they send out an occasional newsletter, and this was the beginning of the most recent one:

Another fresh year is here...
another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear;
to love and laugh and give!
~William Arthur Ward

Here we are once again - poised together at the start of another twelve month journey. The calendar, like a blank canvas, is waiting for us to make our mark. To add first one stroke, then another and then another until - with care, thoughtfulness and grace - we've created a most beautiful 365 days.

And to that end, I hereby pledge to do what I can to inspire all of you to live the next year in the same way.

Today's assignment will be simple. Smile and say hello to a stranger-whether you are walking down the sidewalk, waiting in line at the grocery store, or picking up a child from school. Even if they don't smile back, I promise you will feel just a little warmer inside.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

reality check

Or, the glass is still half full.

If we read every article in the newspapers and magazines, and watched every news broadcast telling us about how bad things are right now, we might actually believe that things were terribly dire. And that the Great Depression is back.

Let's look at some facts, shall we?

a. The jobless rate during the Great Depression was 25 percent. We have yet to reach 7 percent.

b. Bank failures, not hedge funds, or risky investments, wiped out the life savings of millions of people. To date, not one single person has lost a penny in an FDIC insured bank account.

c. About 44 percent of all mortgages were delinquent by 1934, compared with about 4 percent today.

I do not diminish the fact that there are people struggling right now. I am just sending out a gentle reminder that it is not as horrible as the media would like us to believe. Things have been worse, and things will be better.

I have an idea for my own news channel. It will only talk about good, positive things. Like pilots safely landing airplanes, and strangers paying anonymously for another person's meal at a restaurant, and a profile on the neighbor who always shovels your sidewalk for you. I am thinking that is what people want to hear about right now. It would be like the profiles they do of Olympic athletes, uplifting, and miraculous.

And it would have a cooking segment, that would only feature comfort food. Like this:

Sunday Roast Chicken
(but feel free to make it whenever you fancy)
1 4-6 lb roasting chicken
1 lemon
1 head of garlic
one bunch of fresh thyme
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 large onion, thickly sliced
Preheat the oven to 425. Remove the giblets (if they were included) and rinse the chicken inside and out, pat dry. Generously salt and pepper the cavity, and stuff in the thyme. Halve the lemon, and put that in there too. Cut the head of garlic in half horizontally, and plop that in the cavity with the other goodies. Tie the legs together with kitchen string to hold it all together, tuck the wings under the body, and put it in a roasting pan. Brush the chicken all over with the melted butter, and tuck the onion slices under the body a bit.

Roast it for an hour to an hour and a half (depending on size) until cooked through.

It will be moist, and flavorful, and yummy. And you won't even think about the stock market once.

Monday, January 26, 2009

birthday greetings!

It was just one year ago today that I decided to do it, to put myself out there, to commit to being a blogger. I am not controversial, and will never be interviewed by a news organization about my impact on moms, or premenopausal women. But I have made it a whole year.

It's amazing how much has happened in just a year.

We were in the middle of trying to choose who should run for President, and had not heard of Sarah Palin.

We were spending money, and most of us had little idea of what our economy would look like in just a few months.

I still had my crummy old kitchen.

We didn't know our house, yard, and garage would become a simulator building factory.

Charlie still played with Legos every once in a while, and didn't spend his Sundays glued to the TV watching football.

I had less gray hair popping it's way out of my scalp.

My sister was still trying to hold her marriage together.

Charlie had an amazing teacher, and I spent time helping in her classroom.

An awful lot can change in a year. Change is good, even though it often hurts in the beginning, and we don't realize how necessary the change was, or how much better off we are because of it.

I don't know what this blog will look like this year, probably more of the same-recipes, photos, my thoughts on life (and fashion. just kidding) Because all it really is, is my journal, my diary, a way to keep track of my life. And anyone who wants to come along for the ride is more than welcome.

Any diary I ever started before never lasted more than a couple of weeks-there is something to this blogging thing. Several of you have started your own blogs since I started playing with this a year ago-I love following them.

If you want to start YOUR own blog, go here:

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Friday, January 23, 2009

hunkerin' down

Gettin' cold again this weekend. I tend to lose the g's on the end of words when it gets cold.

For those of you who don't get to experience the cruelty of a Minnesota winter, let's just say that when it gets below zero, I don't like to leave the house. Not even the promise of my favorite Eggs Benedict from Bon Vie can get my multi-layered body out the door.

But having a craftin' day with friends? THAT I can do. This weekend it's all about beads, and wire, and findin's, and more beads. It's an excellent indoor pursuit.

Havin' hit up the 30% off sale at Bead Monkey yesterday, I am on my way to spend my gift cards from our newest bead store in town, Beadniks at the Mall of America.

And I am not even stoppin' at our store.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Harry's coming!

Oh, joy! Harry Connick Jr. is going to be here on Monday, for the premiere of his new movie with Renee Zellweger. There will be a red carpet deal at the MOA. Check it out here:

He is going to do a poster signing at the MOA, we invited him to come and fly with us, but of course, he is too darn busy for that. Shoot. And to think he could have walked his beautiful self into our store. sigh. I am quite a fan of the facial hair. Hairy Harry.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

fashion broohaha

I bet you didn't know that I am a fashion guru-completely in the know on trends and colors. So obviously I need to weigh in on the hot topic of Michelle Obama's wardrobe choices yesterday.

Loved the cut of the sheath and coat. Not really fond of the color. I just read this morning that it was very cutting edge, and known as lemongrass. Not that anybody cares what I think. But I think it would have been so much prettier in a brighter color, as she can wear color really well, and I would have skipped the ribbon closure.

Last night's dress? Honestly, my first thought was Wilma Flintstone. The woman has a stature that could really wear anything, but again, I would have liked some color, and less fussy. I thought maybe those were feathers at first.

People are gushing today, and rightly so, I just think she could have done better. (As I sit here writing this in my yoga pants, tshirt, polar fleece, and fuzzy slippers.) What I did love is that today, two obscure business people are waking up to realize that they will now be hot, in demand, and financially successful fashion designers, a dream come true that they probably never imagined.

And now I am done being trivial. She seems to be incredibly intelligent and so ready for her new role, who cares what she wears? I just love the fact that she is going to make sure that her girls make their own beds.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

big day

A very big day. One that we will always remember. Never mind your politics, or your thoughts on government spending or taxes, you can't help but be moved by the events of today.

Right now I am watching the throngs packed on the Washington mall. What an image. Absolutely incredible.

This man has the weight and hopes of this country on his shoulders.

I would never want that job. I can't imagine wanting that job. But I am so glad that someone has the courage to take it on.

And whether you agree or disagree with his politics, we all need to do our part to help this man succeed.And look at that adorable family!

Monday, January 19, 2009

happy holiday

Three day weekends are so important to mental health. I am glad we will have another one in February. Even though we probably don't spend too much time thinking about why we are HAVING a day off, (just being honest here) we enjoy the time all the same.

A relaxing and fun filled weekend, thanks to all of my friends named Tracy, Tracie, and Tracy for sharing time with me! Maybe later I will post the results of some of the projects I worked on, mostly I just took it easy and watched lots of things on TV that my guys wouldn't like.

Speaking of them, they are winging their way back from the Windy City (actually, Lake Forest to be more specific) after a nice weekend with family-and I will be so happy when the little red Fit pulls into the driveway tonight. I missed them!A shot from last summer's State Fair-after almost a week of sub zero temps I needed to see some shirt sleeves and try to remember what warm sunshine felt like.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

crafting holiday

Oh boy. Mike and Charlie are leaving tomorrow for Chicago, and won't be back until Monday night. And I am not.

That means I will have four days. Four days. Four days all to myself!

The last time they left for more than a weekend was in July of 2006-and I used those free days to strip two layers of wallpaper, repair the walls, and paint in Charlie's room-in 90 degree heat.

This time around? I have so many things I want to work on! It is too dang cold to head out for shopping or lunching-so here is what I am going to work on:

1. Refacing my clock. I have a round clock in our living room, that no longer fits my new color scheme. So I found some scrapbook paper, and metal numbers, and new clock hands. New clock for less than $5.

2. Making cards. I love to make cards this time of year to stock up for the year ahead. You can save a fortune by making your own cards. Unless, of course, you buy more supplies than you could ever use in your lifetime. Now who would do something like that?

3. Socks. I am very nearly done with my very first sock-at this rate I may have a full pair by Mother's Day. But it's a good thing to do while watching TV.

4. Speaking of TV, I have stocked up on things to watch: The Gift (a movie I had not heard of with Cate Blanchett), The Inspector Lynley mysteries, and a few episodes of Six Feet Under. Or I could just watch Food Network all weekend...

5. Valentines. It's just around the corner-so I better figure out what I will be creating this year. I LOVE Valentine's Day!

6. 2009 Calendar. I got the most perfect calendar for this year at my local scrapbook shop-it is from SEI and I adore the colors. It has the main page for each month nearly ready to go, you just fill in the photos you want to use. It gives you a nice headstart, but allows for lots of creativity.

7. Books. I need to finish the whole vampire saga. I have no idea why I am attracted to these books. When I first started with Twilight, I wasn't that into it, yet I could not stop. And now that I am nearly done with the third one, I find them impossible to put down. Go figure.

8. Sewing. I have that awesome stash of Amy Butler fabric and patterns that I got this summer, that I have yet to do anything with. May need to tackle it.

And before you know it, they will be home and life will be back to normal. And no matter how nice my long weekend will be, I will miss them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ten things -

- that are necessary for winter survival:

1. Cuddl Duds. goofy name, but I love this product. I own several pairs, and rely on them to be my first layer of defense against the cold drafts in my house.

2. Fingerless gloves. I have a pair of rag wool ones that I wear when I am working on my laptop. It's not like anyone can see me...

3. Hot Coffee. all day long. Trader Joe's Winter Roast is my current fave.

4. Flannel sheets. In Minnesota, they are on our beds from October to April.

5. Afghans/Throws. Whatever you call them, we have three of them in our living room that get used every single day. Charlie grabs one in the morning and makes a tent around the furnace vent to warm up.

6. Comfort food. From stew to chili to pot roast, we don't do a lot of salads when it's this cold.

7. Atmospheric movies. Think Lawrence of Arabia, Dead Calm, or any Western. Save Dr. Zhivago and The Shining for summer when you need to cool off.

8. Cats. Claude curls up with me every single day and night-my own personal furry heating pad.

9. Candles. They instantly add warmth to any room.

10. Wool slippers. I would lose all feeling in my toes without these babies.

Feeling any warmer yet?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

with the cold -

at least we get sunshine! Sure, it was 17 below zero this morning (32 below air temperature in my hometown), but at least when it is this cold, we almost always have achingly bright sunshine. I think I would almost rather have cold and sun, than a little warmer with accompanying gray skies.

Call it that whole glass is half full deal.....

Monday, January 12, 2009

garden thoughts

It's snowing, and we are headed into the deep freeze this week. It's gray outside, and winter isn't half over.What can we do to keep our spirits up, and away from the candy jar?

Let's think about flowers!I take lots of pictures when my flowers are blooming, so that I can spend the winter planning, and reviewing what worked and what I could have done better. I need to plant more lilies. They show themselves for just a day, so I really need a lot more of them. I can't recall the actual name of this flower, it goes by many nicknames-Angel's Trumpet or Moonflower. It is perfectly beautiful when it blooms, and just glows in the moonlight. But like a lily, it only shows itself for a day. So I need more. It vines and thrives like crazy.I am a HUGE fan of begonias. And other than some water, nearly maintenance free.
This perennial found a spot in my garden this summer-and let me be really helpful and tell you that I can't remember what it's called. I love the color it adds to the garden in between the blooming of other goodies.
This window box is on the front of our house. See that enormous tropical looking impatien in there? That was ONE little plant. Can you believe how huge it got? I am definitely planting that in my shade spots again this year.Speaking of window boxes, I always plant callibrochia in my window boxes. I love the look, it usually fills out the window boxes really well, and comes in so many colors. This year, I found that this color-a vibrant hot pink, was by far the best bloomer. I also had red, yellow, and purple, but none of them thrived like the hot pink variety. Go figure?
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See that wimpy vine growing on the trellis by my cat? Each year I plant what I hope will be an enthusiastic vining plant, to cover the three trellises on the side of my patio, to give me a little privacy when I sit out there with my coffee and newspaper. This year I planted cardinal flower, and clearly, it needed a bit more sun. This picture was taken in September. So next year, I will go back to a black eyed susan vine that is destined for shade, or perhaps nasturtiums, they work well. If only I could find a morning glory that loves all shade-I just adore them.

Have you warmed up yet?

Friday, January 9, 2009

the blogosphere

Now that my days have a more normal rhythm, I am cheerfully catching up on all of my favorite blogs. I have a lot, to feed different parts of my soul. Here is a list of some of the ones I regularly check out, in case you are in need of some laughs, or some inspiration, or just some amazing writing or photos, for the coming year (in no particular order):
Mrs. G loves Johnny Depp and all forms of mancake, and never fails to make me laugh.
My dear friend Tracy blogs about her adorable girls, shopping, and her fabulous gardening skills.
Local graphic designer and scrapbooker Cathy Zielske's blog-the very first blog I ever read or followed.
Tara is a photographer out in California-I just love her pictures and her take on life.
Who doesn't know all about Ree already? So much great stuff-from tales to cooking.
An amazing artist and scrapbooker, she really inspires my creativity.
My little sister's blog-I love her stories and how she tells them.
Silly celebrity photos, the writing always makes me howl with laughter.
An old neighbor I reunited with on Facebook, Valerie is an incredibly talented writer.
I found this one on another blog-she has amazing needlework and good recipes.
Another crafting blog I enjoy, especially the color.
A food blog, by a writer from my hometown.
Another artist/scrapbooker-I love her creations.

Now you know what I do all day...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

guitar coward

Showing my age.

Charlie bought Guitar Hero with his birthday money, and got a second guitar for a Christmas gift. So now when his friends come over, they gleefully pick out songs and compete for the most hit notes.

You've seen the commercials-the mom is rocking out while her three small children bop their tiny heads to the music. At the end of the commercial, they let you know the game is rated T for teenagers-mostly due to skanky animated band members and "mature" lyrics.

He has been wanting me to give it a try, so the other night he plunked me down in front of the TV for my lesson. The game assured me that I was now ready to become a legend of rock.

We started with the 'easiest' song-"Slow Ride". That song has been played in this house more in the last few weeks than there were ornaments on the Christmas tree. I wake up to it rolling through my head.

Guitars in hand, Charlie played at the Medium level, while I of course was on Easy. My lack of eye to hand coordination quickly became apparent, and the notes rolled by with a resounding plunk as I missed them. Wait!!! This is a KID'S game? How can it be so hard?

Needless to say, I will be secretly practicing while he is at school, and will surprise him someday with my prowess, and knock out "Through the Fire and Flames" on the Expert level.School is done in June, right?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

creative thoughts

Each January, my mind turns to thoughts of creativity. While it may be better for me to rethink my daily food choices, the area of my brain that has been sadly neglected over the last few months roars back and wants to be heard.

My fingers crave fabric, my eyes want to play with color, my ears want to find some new music to create by.

January in the business world means getting ready for tax time-so most of my days are focused on that, and catching up on bookkeeping that was neglected during the gift card blitz of November and December. Numbers, numbers, and more numbers. But once the table has been cleared and the dishes are done, I revel in the thought that I have a whole evening to play, and use that other part of my brain that would really rather be in charge.

Shall I knit? I have started on socks. I have never made them, but think I need to.

Card making? I have so many ideas, and I just got a whole new set of Martha Stewart colored markers. They whisper to me from my desk "come and play!"

Sew some aprons? I stocked up on some gorgeous Amy Butler fabric months ago, with good intentions of holiday gifts. Maybe holiday of 2009, or 2010...

Jewelry? My dear boy and a sweet friend both gave me gift cards to Beadniks, so a beading shopping trip is in my future.

So many choices. This is when I am happy to live in a part of the country that nearly requires hibernation for several months.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

five "ideas"

I can't call them resolutions. According to the dictionary, that requires firm determination. And I am too tired from everything 2008 brought to be firmly determined about anything. An idea sounds easier, don't you think?

1. daily flossing. wait, how about every other day flossing? that "idea" may be easier to handle.

2. learn how to use the camera. I can't be a point and shoot girl forever.

3. steam more veggies. that's the closest I am going to get to the whole changing my diet idea.

4. get more pedicures. why not?

5. learn to relax more, and take life easy:
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We could all learn a thing or two from our kids!

Monday, January 5, 2009

a deep breath

The sun is rising on a new day here in St. Paul. (Okay, this isn't St. Paul, but a great photo I found on line....)

All of the Christmas decorations are packed away for another year. The gift card orders have been filed and completed. Charlie is back at school, and Mike is back to his daily work-out schedule. We got to visit our families, and have a couple of days of down time.

As they say, Life is Good.

Honestly? This is the first time things have felt "normal" at our house since May. Yup, May. Between kitchen remodeling and simulator building and holiday sales, last year was rather nutty. But all in a good way.

So perhaps this year my blog will be filled with lots of laughs and perhaps some creative writing here and there. A good goal to have.

Happy NEW Year!


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