Sunday, January 31, 2010

Weekly Winners


Mayhem turned 6 this week


More Clone troopers joined our household as a result


The dinos don’t mine the Clones


But they do not like the droids at all


Unless they are Legos & let them shoot their guns


For more Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

2009 Photo book

I’ve been meaning to post about this & keep forgetting.  I received my 2009 Year in Photos book from Blurb a couple weeks ago, which was super fast printing & shipping. It arrived much sooner than I expected.

(Lets just get this out of the way. I get nothing at all from Blurb for this post. I just like them. I’d accept something if they wanted to give it to me. The books are not cheap)

My 2009 book


The first thing I noticed about it was that it was small. It 7x7 and probably I should have had some concept of that size but I am spatially impaired. I cannot visualize size at all. If I am shopping for purses or camera bags online I have to go get purses I already own and a ruler and then assemble them into some configuration that matches the new purse size before I can grasp how big or how small the new purse will be. I have had layout books printed in 8.5x8.5 before and just thought “oh that’s 1.5 inches smaller” But I have no real idea how big 1.5 inches is, nor did I consider that it was 1.5 on BOTH sides. Probably I should have held a ruler up to one of my existing books.

Last year I did an 8x10 landscape one. So yeah, it’s smaller than I anticipated.


But I love it anyway. I was still able to get photos and layouts in it in decent sizes.

2008’s book photo pages


2009’s book photo pages


2008 with layouts


2009 with layouts




I like getting the full square bleed on the layouts. I had 40+ layouts with 365 photos in 2009 and that made it worth the photo size exchange.  I only had 12 layouts in 2008.  Blurb had also changed the software between the two books and I could create my own photo page layouts as well so I was able to really personalize this one.

I went with the hardbound image wrap cover and glossy premium paper again this time because the last book really has stood up well to handling by the boys.

As much as I love it, it is still on the small side for me. I had considered making the leap to the 12x12 as Blurb does not offer 8x8 or 8.5x8.5 unfortunately. But with 138 pages the 12x12 image wrap is out of my price range, being over twice as much as the 7x7.  I’m hoping that Blurb adds 8.5x8.5 as an option but I’m not sure how in demand that size is among non scrapbookers.

I’m doing my 365 Project a little differently this year. I have about 15 things that I am taking photos of every month and at the end of the year I will be creating “A Year of…” layouts for each of them. That is half the photos right there. If I can assemble the book in under 80 pages I’ll go for the 12x12 for my 2010 book.

It shouldn’t be too big, right?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Mayhem


My 9lb 2oz newborn is a strapping 45lbs today. He’s still every bit as cuddly as he was 6 years ago.

Last night he was in tears because “I want to be you wittle boy forever, I don’t want to be a teenager”


Me too sweetie.

Happy Birthday little man!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Debating the upgrade

Windows 7.

I bought my laptop in July last year and I am eligible for the free upgrade from Vista to Windows 7. I bought it at Best Buy so Geek Squad will do it for me.

But I’m getting mixed info on whether they will reinstall my programs & my settings. I’ve been told “oh no, that’s all on you.” and “if you bring a back up drive we will” and “oh all your stuff probably should be just fine.”

I so don’t want to have to reinstall all my stuff. Apart from PSPX2, all my software was downloaded, the licenses sent to me via email. Lightroom, CS2, tweetdeck, window live writer, picasa, cooliris, audible, flickr & smugmug uploaders…drivers so I can see my RAW .nef photos thumbnails & .psd thumbnails. Firefox and it’s add ons.  My email! OMG all the issues I had with my email programs & importing. Not too mention all the backing up I’ll have to do of photos, scrap stuff, documents, recipes, music, fonts and audiobooks.

And that is just the stuff I can remember.

So. Has anyone done it yet? Had their computer upgraded to Win 7? How did it go? Did Geek Squad do it? Any hits or suggestions?

I think I am going to take it in on either Thursday or next Tuesday. If you don’t see me for awhile you know why

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weekly Winners


I haven’t had much time to get my photos off the camera this week, but I have a few.


I finished crocheting a pair of fingerless gloves


My blight on the landscape


I used this on Wordless Wednesday


Last, a bowl of Mint Chocolate premium M&Ms


For more weekly winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom.  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Worth it?

My children are early risers, like so early we have a rule that you are not allowed to leave the bed before 6am or disturb your parents before 7am.

It is actually sort of nice on school days. They get up, get dressed and occupy themselves with books or the Wii or playing with the action figures until we get up at 6:40 and make breakfast. I currently do not have the hassle of having to get up even earlier to wake them & get them dressed etc. Because of their early rising I can sleep in a bit.


They catch the bus at 7:20am and there I am – awake for the day and it’s too early to many things, like make the assorted phone calls usually I need to make or go to the bank, pay the electric bill, etc. I drag out my morning with a second cup of coffee and blog reading but still, I’m ready to get on with the day by 8:15. So I head to the gym & spend an hour or so working out. This generally puts me close to 10am. I  stop by the grocery store in the same plaza to pick up whatever things I need and it often occurs to me that I would love to get a rotisserie chicken for dinner. Serve it with some hummus & other various Mediterranean dips plus a fruit & veggie tray & have a nice quick serve yourself dinner, plus lunch & then soup a couple days later.


Rotisserie chicken is not available until 11am. And it is impossible to kill an hour in the Safeway. It would different if it was Wegmans, but then I’d probably want something other than rotisserie chicken

Yesterday, as a result of leaving a little later, adding 10 minutes to my cardio workout and dropping books off at the library I arrived at the Safeway at very late time of 10:45. They were having a sale on wine. All wine 20% off, plus if you buy six bottles you get another 10% off. This meant I could buy wine in the $9-11 range instead of the $6-9 range and it could easily take me 15 minutes to decide on 6 bottles of upmarket wine, especially since a couple of them give me headaches and I don’t always recall which ones. That put rotisserie chicken within my grasp.

While I was contemplating my wine selection I ran into a friend who was doing the same while waiting for her prescription to be filled. I said I was waiting for a rotisserie chicken to be cooked. She is frugal (she was looking at the $6-9 wine even though there was a sale) and could not believe I wouldn’t just buy a whole chicken (they are only $3.99) and roast it myself. It’s easy to roast a chicken! Heck you can even put it in a crock pot when you get home & it’ll be ready for dinner!(that is more of a steamed chicken than a roasted one IMO, crock pots don’t get hot enough to roast). Why spend all that money on something you can do yourself?

I get that. I crochet things rather than buy them. My husband does most of the electrical & plumbing in our house rather than pay someone. I just don’t like roasting whole chickens. Yes it’s easy, so easy  a cave man did do it (or some sort of fowl anyway) But I don’t want to do it. I prefer not to cook bone in meats except on the grill. I don’t like roasting whole fowl with their different white & dark meat temperatures. You will never eat a whole turkey at Thanksgiving at my house. I buy breast only.

She didn’t buy this argument. (maybe I should have  offered 20% off on it). Save the money. Roast the chicken. It’s just reckless spending otherwise.

A rotisserie chicken costs $6.99. It is slightly larger than the $3.99 raw whole chicken, by about a pound, and it comes injected with flavor (I like the rosemary garlic). I’d have to buy garlic & fresh rosemary (which I have no other immediate use for & cannot buy in bulk so much of it would go to waste), plus the slightly larger chicken so probably we’re looking at $5.50 to roast a comparable chicken. Then there is the time to prep the chicken and check on the chicken while it cooks. And the stress of wondering if you will dry out the breast meat while getting the leg meat cooked or if you are risking salmonella to get juicy breast meat. Did the temperature probe just hit bone or is that gristle? It is worth my time, effort & stress? For a $1.49 difference? I don’t think so.

Rotisserie chicken. Because I am WORTH it.

Plus a discounted $10 bottle of Australian shiraz.

They were delicious, by the way.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Maybe I just have a dirty mind

Have you noticed the word verification for blog posts is getting a bit graphic?

About half the blogs I visit have word verfication you have type in to post. Lately they have been doing this fake out reload thing that makes me think it’s going to post so I move on to the next tab with the next blog and only as I am going back to close tabs do I see, momentarily as the tab closes, that what actually happened was the page reloaded with a word verification form to fill in. Only I’ve already closed the tab. So I go back into my history, reopen the tab, likely having to redo the comment, press post, wait for the reload and then I get the word verification form. It’s mildly irritating but what has been the saving point for me are the words that have been given to me:









These are just a few of the ones I have seen this week. Last week the words all seemed to come from the posts themselves. If the post mentioned flowers the word would be FLOREL. If it was about soup the word would be BROTHS or CARRIT.

So when I started seeing this batch of words I was wondering if I was reading the same posts the word verification was.

Is it just me this happening too? What weird words have you had to enter for verification?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Never manages to be Wordless Wednesday


A rare moment of peace & quiet Monday at the end of a 4 day holiday. They were watching the Penguins of Madagascar on the TV in our bedroom. later we would have epic drama over practicing TKD forms before class, but this was nice while it lasted.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What I have been reading

I’ve been working my way through the pile from the library steadily.

The first book I finished was

Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions

I’ve followed the blog since early on so most of it was not new to me. I find it very funny. However it did confirm that, as I have long suspected, I am not the right kind of white people. The right kind of white people are liberal urban dwellers who shop at IKEA and Whole Foods and love the outdoors.  I am a moderate rural dweller who shops at Wal Mart and is outdoorsy in that I like getting drunk on patios. But I know the right kind of white people, so I find the book very funny.

Then I read

Secrets of the Tudor Court: Between Two Queens

Which is a fictional account of the life of Anne Basset, who was a real person and a maid of honor to Henry VIII’s 3rd through 6th wives and may have had a brief affair with him. Surviving documents show he had some degree of fondness for her. It’s a pretty good story. I enjoyed it for the most part. But Anne is a professional courtier and as such makes decisions that are not always the kindest. There are times when it is hard to feel much sympathy for her though overall I found her an interesting character.

I did prefer the first book in the series more.  I read it a few months ago

Secrets of the Tudor Court: The Pleasure Palace

It is the fictional story of Jane Popyncourt, also a real person, who joined the household of Henry VII as a child and became close friends with Princess Mary, Henry VIII’s sister.

And since I am on a Tudor theme I might as well mention

The Queen's Mistake: In the Court of Henry VIII

Which is a fiction account of the life of Katherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, who was beheaded for having an affair with Thomas Culpepper while married to Henry. It’s a ok story. She gives Kat more intelligence than many authors do but there is depth lacking in her characterization and in the other characters of the book. They all seem rather flat.  A secondary character. Mary Lassells add some much needed emotion and motivation to the story & maybe had she been the main character the story would have been more compelling.

The most recent new book I have finished is

Murder on the Mauretania: A Mystery Featuring George Porter Dillman and Genevieve Masefield (A Shipboard Mystery Featuring George Porter Dillman & Genevieve Masefield)

It is a very enjoyable read about a couple of Cunard ship’s detectives who are on the maiden voyage of the  Mauretania and have to deal with a series of thefts, one of which leads to murder. This is the second in a series. The first was checked out when I discovered them & I am still waiting on it. I hate reading series’ out of order. But it was no real detriment to following this one. There is enough background info given to determine the two met in the previous book when she was passenger & by the end of it they had formed a romantic attachment & she had done so well helping him that Cunard offered her a job. There are 6 or so more in the series. I picked up books 3, 5, 7  and 8 today.

I am rereading an historical mystery series by Roberta Gellis that feature Magdalene la Batarde, a whoremistress in Southwark at the time of King Stephen. She runs a high class whorehouse or ‘house of ease’ which makes people I say that phrase to assume she owns a public bathroom.

Chains of Folly (Five Star Mystery Series)

I enjoy this series enormously & reread it a couple times a year. I first heard all 4 books on audio about 4 years ago, mostly listening in the car. Which meant the boys listened as well. Most of it was just “WHHAA WHHHA WHHHHAA” to them but some words did get through I had the pleasure of explaining to my 2 and 3 year old what a whore was, as well as what a knight, a bishop, a priory and a guild were. Fortunately all words seemed to be equally interesting and I’ve heard nothing about any of them since. The books are well written, with lots of period details, good plots and well drawn characters. It’s a pity there are only 4 of them. I’d love to know if Magdalene ever finds a blind girl to replace the one she los to marriage t & how things develop with her lover Bell. I highly recommend them if you can find them.

I’ll be working my way through the rest of the Shipboard mysteries in the coming weeks as well as trying out

Killer Cocktail (Molly Forrester Novels)

Which is supposed to be a humorous murder mystery that is something of a cross between Sex & the City and Stephanie Plum. I enjoy both of those, off and on, so I’m hoping to at least like the book enough to finish it. It too is the second in a series and the library does not have the first. This gives me some reservations but it worked out ok with Murder on the Mauretania, so I am taking the chance with this one.

What have you read lately?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekly Winners


A few for this week.

Dying daisies




Deep in concentration


He did quite well at the pinewood derby




For more Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


A month or so ago I cleaned out my freezer.

Yesterday I cleaned my refrigerator. This is a different thing than just cleaning it out. Cleaning it out mostly involves taking most of the food off of the shelves, sorting it and putting the good stuff back. Maybe wiping up some visible spills. But not getting behind or under things or dealing with the bottles on the door.

Cleaning it involves taking all the food out, all the bins out, plus disassembling the shelves and scrubbing them & the inside of the fridge all clean.

This happens as rarely as the freezer cleaning for much the same reasons – it’s cold, my hands cramp up from the scrubbing and the solid yet still gel like substances that accumulate in dark forgotten corners are a PITA to get clean. Plus the heavy tempered glass shelves are too big to fit in the kitchen sink and have to be washed in the bathtub. Which means I then I have to wash the bathtub. And mop. I never manage to clean the fridge without getting dirty water on the floor, or wrecking the kitchen in general

So it’s a bit of an undertaking really.

But someone didn’t put the lid back securely on a juice bottle and then someone grabbed it off the shelf with wild abandon, resulting in juice splattering and then someone did not wipe the mess up. (could be the same someone, could be a conspiracy, it’s hard to say as I was not around at the time)

The other night I saw this on the door


There was more on the inside shelves and it had solidified in the chill so it could not be wiped up easily any longer.

You see how given the layout & lighting seeing what is under the cheese drawer is almost impossible? Or behind the jelly? or the back half of the bottom shelf? (this is not an actual before photo, it is from last month)


I cleared the top shelves & removed them & the cheese drawer & found this


I emptied the door shelves, removed them and found this


What is it? How did it get there? How long has it been there?

I left the shelves to soak in the bathtub and scrubbed the whole fridge. Then I sorted the food.

This is all the non-expired still edible food in the fridge, minus a 6 pack of hard cider that didn’t fit on the counter, the bottles that go on the door shelves and the contents of the fruit & veggie bins.

Rather a lot of dairy products, especially if you include the crescent rolls & eggs which are both often found in the dairy aisle of the supermarket. Dairy, alcohol, bread and soup. My 4 food groups.


I cleaned out the bottled condiments for the first time in forever as well. These are all that were expired, surprisingly enough.  We only like Newman’s Own Parmesan & Garlic salad dressing but keep others on hand for company. I have no idea why we have pickle relish.


The prominently placed small bottle of Ranch is the oldest. I suppose it got hidden behind other bottles & forgotten & probably I failed to check dates last time I cleaned the bins. (which was this summer when the Newman’s Own fell over with a loose lid and made an all natural oily mess)

So, how long have I been ignoring this small bottle of dressing?


Not quite as long as I overlooked the tater tots. The rest of the stuff expired in the past 2 months so I suppose I don’t completely suck at keeping the food rotated.

The shelves were washed, dried, replaced and the food put back neatly. (twice because I can never remember which holes the shelves were in & can’t tell until the food is there if I left enough space)

Look at my lovely clean fridge



I’ll be offering classes on “The Effects of Cold on Sticky Liquids & Why You Should Clean them Immediately” to various members of the household in the coming days.

They will be followed by brief lectures on “The Importance of Checking Dates Before Eating Anything Because Mom is Lazy” and “Lids – How to Tighten Them” which is a fun filled hands on seminar.

The first person who spills anything in that fridge will reach for a sponge if he values his life.

It’s delurker day too! So now would be a great chance for you to delurk and tell me what the oldest thing in your fridge is or what the biggest mess you have ever cleaned out of you fridge was.

I look forward to hearing about it!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cold and itchy

It is 37 degrees today which is a veritable heat wave given the past 3 weeks. It’s warm enough the heat pump actually stopped running a few hours ago for the first time in days.

At least, I assume that is why the heat pump stopped running and not some darker, more expensive reason.

The problem with a heat pump is it blows cool air. When you are already cold, having a cool draft blow around your head does not bring you joy. Instead it makes you think longingly of radiators while you go in search of another layer to put on.

All the sliding glass doors and French doors don’t help either. Double paned maybe but still a chill comes off those 36 square foot areas of glass. Not to mention the little gaps from the ‘settling’ of the French doors that I am constantly finding & plugging. Or from them sticking & therefore not being shut all the way by the people using them.

I spend most of my days in an undershirt, a long sleeved shirt,a sweater, warm socks, and slippers. Sometimes wearing fingerless gloves, sometimes with a fuzzy shawl on top of the whole ensemble.

And that is just to surf the internet.

If I want to take out the garbage or meet the boys bus I add a scarf, a hat, a heavy coat, sheepskin boots and mittens to the look and shuffle my way outside.

The only time the house feels actually warm is when I come in from meeting the boys bus. It has apparently been slowed by the cold & has run 7-12 minutes late nearly every day. Meaning I have to stand out in wind chill, with nary a patch of sunlight to be found at this time of year, for upwards of 15 minutes at a time.

The dry heat pump air and the dry wind chill air have combined to make my skin feel like sandpaper. Do you know what it is like to have an itch under 5 layers of clothing? I thought I was going to die Friday from the non stop skin itching.

Turns out I am allergic to Burt Bees Peppermint soap products, so that at least resolved some of the problem.

I bathe with Aveeno moisturizing body wash. I use Cetophil over my whole body. I drink water by the gallon. I am seriously contemplating taking a bath in baby oil.

It itches! Dear god it itches! And where it doesn’t itch it hurts from cracking.

It’s not even mid-winter yet! Spring is two and half months away!

If the electric bill doesn’t bankrupt us the body lotion will.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Weekly Winners


I just have a few from my 365 batch today

Fingerless gloves I’m making


Aren’t you a little short to be a droid


Stay away from my DS game


My 2009 365 book came in the mail


Havoc in his balaclava


For more Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom.  Thanks for stopping by