Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Meanderings

The tower?


Still up, but preparations for the replacement pole installation have begun.

I’m considering sabotaging it during the night. I think God is inspiring me to do so.

Friday I had to make a trip to Target to get the boys more underwear & socks. They wear the same size socks & underwear. I don’t mind them pulling socks from a pile at random but the idea of interchangeable underwear bothers me.

So I made an executive decision without consulting the minions.

As of now & for as long as I am responsible for the purchasing & washing of their underwear - Havoc wears briefs and Mayhem wears boxer briefs. Their wives and/or girlfriends can make whatever changes they wish once they take over those responsibilities.

Saturday we received a state refund check for $258!


Sunday the water heater died and will cost $252 to replace


Also Saturday we made a trip to a local salvage/junk yard. Some photos are on my previous post. We’re building a mud room. (No really, we are. I know I said the same thing this time last year, but we really mean it this time. Probably. We looked for cheap windows & doors, which is further that we got last year). We went to check out their reclaimed windows, of which there were hundreds, many of which still had glass in them.

It’s a post of it’s own.

So is the wind


Sunday was beautiful & about 60 degrees out so we cleaned up the mess in the photo & then I pruned 90% of the forsythia bushes & DH & I spent awhile discussing our various projects, which are the same as the various projects from last year since nothing was done on any of them then. Some of them have been projects since 2002, like the garage, which is still just a parking area. We’ve been talking about concrete or pavers in the pool area, which is currently sand & gravel, since 2006. Then there is the boys ‘fort’ to be build on top of the small shed, on the drawing board since 2008 and the most recent mud room project, in line since 2010 and most likely to be finished this year, if anything at all is.

I *really* want a mud room.

Enclosed storage. A place for all the random weather related crap. A place for the muddy, snowy, wet shoes to go besides my lovely (& sucks to clean) slate floor. (if DH had to get on his hands & knees to clean that slate we’d’ve had a mud room built when the flooring was installed I bet). A stop to the draft under the French doors. Screened window so I can get rid of the siding door screens, which I loath & the cats & dog shred.

I *REALLY* want that mud room.

How was your weekend?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weekly Winners–salvage yard edition

We are planning on building a mud room off our porch this spring & we’re really really cheap. So we went to a local salvage yard to see what sort of used windows we could find.

I love salvage yards! They are stuffed with such random stuff.

And I get to play with gritty, faded, nostalgia-y effects.

There are plenty of windows, some of which have whole panes of glass.


There were rusty old sleds


An ancient washing machine, with mangle


some tractors




A graveyard of toilets


and this totally random box of old record albums in among the cabinet doors.


For more weekly winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Flashback

(I’m trying out some ideas about redoing older posts from the Better Blogging class I am doing this month)

This was originally posted in Aug 2008 & refers to an event from the previous year.

Worst Dining Experience Ever!

At least, it was for the people around us.

We were not exactly thrilled by it either.

We were visiting friends in Baltimore for a weekend. We had gone to the Baltimore Aquarium and then decided to visit a casual & inexpensive seafood restaurant for dinner.

There were 12 of us - 6 adults (over 30) and 6 kids (under 5).

We were, or course, every waiters worst nightmare.

And we recognized that fact. 

Every one of us had, at some point, put in a year or more in the restaurant business. We made sure to call ahead, to arrive at the family dining hour of 5pm, to bring our own sippy cups, goldfish and some toys.

Had the restaurant held up their end of the deal I think it would have been a much better experience for everyone.

But they didn't; so they have no one to blame but themselves.

First, we had to wait 10 minutes for them to decide how to seat us, even though they knew we were arriving when we did & had known for about 5 hours. Plenty of time to work out a seating plan.

Second, instead of tucking us into one of their many alcoves (which were empty and would have seated us just fine & were later in use by others) they pushed 3 tables together right in the middle of the main floor. (why would you do that? ).

Then there was the waiting.

We waited a rather long time for the drink order to be taken. Attempts to also place kid food orders or appetizers at the same time were rebuffed.

We waited an even longer time for the drinks to arrive and then for the waiter to come back and actually take our food orders. No lie, we'd been seated at least 20 minutes before we were allowed to order food.

Why didn't we leave at that point? It was pouring down rain and the cars were parked 2 blocks away.

The appetizers arrived in a timely fashion but nothing else. We'd asked them to put the kid meals in with the appetizers but that failed to happen.

So we waited some more.

Naturally 6 kids under the age of 5 are by now out of their minds with boredom & hunger (not yet being fans of calamari) and have nothing else to do but egg each other on in screaming and running matches. We can't take them outside for a run because it's still pouring rain.

We're getting death looks from the entire restaurant and are actively looking around for our waiter so we can cancel the meal and go to Burger King when finally *some* of the food arrives.

The rest of it would arrive 10 minutes later.

This is not a matter of having 12 entrees to make at the same time. 1 adult chose to just have the appetizer, 1 was having a salad, 2 others were sharing an entree, so there were only 3 entrees to make, plus the 2 kids meals we'd asked to have arrive around the same time as the 3 appetizers we'd ordered. I've seen tables of 5 order just as much food with far fewer problems.

The kids settled down and ate rapidly. No wonder, they were starving. They were done long before the adults, even before some of us had received our food.

By now we are just as annoyed as the people around us & decided to stick it out and eat our meals rather than box them up. Given the rate of service so far, we’d be done eating by the time the boxes finally arrived anyway.

The waiter seemed to realize something needed to be done and suddenly baskets of bread sticks appear at our table (where were they an hour ago?) to keep the kids occupied. Yeah, occupied....

Breadsticks make great swords.

Our longest wait was for the check.

When the last of the food arrived we'd asked for the check right then.

It didn't come.

Time passed.

Food was finished. Breadsticks were broken by breadsticks wielded by others. Spilled ice cubes melted into small puddles.

Time continued to pass....

One of our number even went looking for the manager so we could get our check & could not find one. People at nearby tables asked their waiters to bring us our check. Eventually our check arrived and we were able to leave.

Surveying the stacks of plates, the numerous plastic cups, the food on the floor, the broken breadsticks everywhere and the disgruntled patrons one of our number observed "Chaos, misery & destruction. Our work here is done."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Searching for me

I cannot remember the last time I did a post about search queries. Probably the last time I bothered to look at my analytics & since I only seem to do that in months with a F in them, it’s been almost a year at least.

This blogging class I am taking has you look at your analytics rather more often than I am accustomed to doing.

My queries are not really all that interesting, which might be why I rarely do these sort of posts. If I had queries like “Sewing head of llama to lampshade” or “samba pickles chainsaw” like I ran across for others, I would do this much more often.

52% of all queries are for just havoc

18% are for stacey havoc

Most of the rest are from perverts, with sex naked nude being added to various spellings and combinations of stacey havoc and mayhem. Those queries all show 00:00:00 time spent on the site, so I’m hoping they knew I wasn’t what they were looking for & didn’t visit.

But there were a few interesting non-perverted query strings

"where did all the dip go" – Well, if it is evil dip, then I probably ate it

candy wrapper – I’ve got nothing on this one.

chalkboard paint bathroom – a project by Martha

crochet cone pattern – I did make a crochet traffic cone

how to determine if technology is for me – I’m no help with this at all

i lost my pants and i cant find it – I have this problem every fall myself. They are in a box, under something in a closet. Trust me.

and lastly

loud pad wrappers – which is the topic of one of my favorite posts

Anything interesting in your analytics lately?


Tower Update: God-5  ISP-0. But they are still planning on trying again. That tower needs to be someplace else by Monday, they tell me.

I think God feels otherwise.

If you should see news stories featuring a nut job screaming “GOD WILL PUNISH YOU FOR THIS!” while chasing a bucket truck down the road, you know what happened.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A gravy boat?

Yes. A gravy boat.

Though mine is not at all floral. In fact it’s just plain glass.  This particular gravy boat is $75 and all my plates & bowls put together probably didn’t cost $75 because I buy everything on excessive markdown from chain stores & not from places that sell ‘china’.

Suddenly, it seems there are sauces everywhere in my life. I buy them, I make them, I freeze them, and I thaw them out.

This seems to be the Year of the Sauce.

I’ve always marinated things but I never took it to the next level, where you set aside some of the marinade for a pan sauce.

Also I usually broil things and the broiler pan does not lend itself to pan sauces.

But suddenly I am cooking on the stove top.

DH finally leveled the stove & all the liquid no longer pools on one side of the skillet & food cooks more evenly now.

I’m not going to tell you how long the stove has been out of level.

Longer than I have had a blog though.

Plus, I learned to make sauce from the marinade & discovered that drippings & stuff stuck to the bottom of pans is not necessary for a good sauce. It’s good, but if you have a marinade, you can work without it.

Also, balsamic vinegar.  Adds just right kick if you stir it in at the end. I have 4 different kinds of balsamic vinegar now as a result.

Wine in a box is handy too. It keeps much longer & I am no longer faced with needing to drink a whole bottle before it goes bad. Not that that is a hardship but I prefer to drink wine at leisure, not against the clock.

What am I cooking that ends with sauce?

The menu plan for the next two weeks includes – milk braised pork loin, chicken fried steak, steak bites, turkey croquettes, ginger chicken and parmesan crusted tilapia. All of which end with deglazing and/or cooking down things to get a sauce.

We’re also having lasagna, meatloaf, tacos, chicken sandwiches and a soup to be named later.

I foresee leftover gravy joining the meatloaf. Possibly the chicken sandwiches also  if I make chimichuri sauce for the steak bites.

It feels good to enjoy cooking again.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Meanderings for Monday

**primary news**

DH & I discussed our various options for Spring Break. It turns out the train idea has some merit.

Not all the way to Florida, but the idea of going somewhere by train in general.

We had discussed that this year, for the winter holidays, we might, just might, take the train to NYC for a few days. I think it would be fun to spend a few days there when all the tourist spots are decorated & the boys would love the train ride.

Applying that  idea to April we are thinking of taking the train to DC for a day. It’s a 90 minute train ride & it’s be $90 for the 4 of us round trip. Sure we could drive it, save the $90. But there is gas & parking & metro fees, since we won’t drive into the city. Plus the non-monetary costs of sitting in traffic, driving around parking garages that are actually totally full but failed to say so and the associated costs of whatever shops are in whatever strip mall we stop at for supper.

The train gets us into DC at 11:30am & leaves at 6:30pm. Our train station is not near a strip mall, so no consumer temptations. No traffic. No parking problems,

We haven’t told the kids yet. They’ll just spend the next 2 months asking how many days until we leave.

**secondary news**

I find myself, at the age of 43, needing, for the first time in my life, ever, a gravy boat.


Gravy and various pan sauces have been largely lacking in our lives, but since I surrendered on the veggie thing & realized the unitasking nature of my cooking, I seem to be making lots of things that finish off with ‘deglaze the pan with wine’ or broth or cream, etc. I have no idea why stressing over veggies = no gravy for all these years, but there it is.

Suddenly I am regularly making some sort of sauce & decided to show a little class & stop using whatever plastic measuring cup is clean & start using an object designed for the task.

I have three sets of inherited china.

None of them have gravy boats.

So, this is also the fault of my foremothers, this lack of gravy. I didn’t grow up with it. Women in my family OPEN JARS for goodness sake! We don’t deglaze pans! And jarred gravy sucks so we just don’t eat gravy at all.

Wal mart does not sell gravy boats. Target does. But they only had plain white china & I wanted glass. So I got a glass creamer container for the gravy. We use soup spoons for mashed potatoes so it’s all good. Labels are limiting.

**tertiary news**

The photo project is plugging away. It is really really strange still to not take photos every day. I’ve taken 7 out of the 17 topics I did last month.

Got 3 of them done Friday.

The boys had a scheduled day off (along with today) & we went to the park. It was about 72 degrees outside.


Perfect for the playground


I was also able to take advantage of the nice lighting & get a decent Lego photo with white background


I’m working on f-stops, this was the best of about 8 shots.

Know what f-stop that is?

Neither. Do. I.

Probably Lightroom can tell me but I need to make better notes as I go.

In other news, they were going to come for my tower Saturday. But God breathed and the force was scattered (or whatever it was that Elizabeth I said when the Spanish Armada was defeated by storms). The wind once again prevented tower removal. It was only a temporary setback though. The forces of my ISP will be mounting a new attack on my tower tomorrow.

Unless the Divine chooses to intervene once again.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Seasonal Amusement

It’s February & at this time of year I like to go online and amuse myself by pricing airline tickets to Florida for the kids’ spring break.

This is generally a purely mental exercise because I loath flying. Airports stress me out. Airlines with their baggage fees and change fees and general piss poor customer service stress me out too.

And lets not even get started on Homeland Security.

I have to send everything UPS to my destination because I refuse to pay luggage fees and assume everything I want to carry on is probably forbidden.

First I have to overcome all these mental hurdles to even bring myself to visit or whatever site to compare fares.

Then my personal flight restrictions kick in.

1. No early morning flights. While there are 3 major & two minor airports in a 100 mile radius of me, most of them are at that outer limit & I am looking at least a 90 minute drive, probably more due to traffic, and since we have to be there at least an hour before departure I have to leave my house at 3am to catch a 6am flight.

and that shit ain’t happening.

2. No connecting flights. I am not paying hundreds of dollars to keep my children out of trouble for several hours in some random airport the airline simply MUST redirect all flights through. Southwest wants me to fly from Baltimore to CHICAGO before flying on to Florida. Really Southwest? Chicago? Delta wants me to go to Cincinnati.  Atlanta (Air Tran) & Charlotte (US Air) are bad enough but at least they are on the SAME COAST as my departure & arrival cities. Why not route me through LA and Houston while we’re at it?

3. Probably I am being picky about this one. Closed minded and with no sense of adventure either. But still… it would be extra special nice if I could perhaps return to the airport I DEPARTED FROM a week previously. You know, so I can get to my car, which I foolishly left at the departing airport & couldn’t arrange for anyone to pick up and then move to the arrival airport for me. Or does the airline offer shuttle services from BWI to Washington-Dulles so travellers can pick up their vehicles from the other airport?

4. It would be handy if we could book seats next to one another but the boys are now old enough that I am willing to sit two rows away and listen to them scream and whine at some stranger for 3 hours. I’ll even look around with that half annoyed “why doesn’t that person shut that kid up?” look on my face when they do. Darn kids. Someone should control them. Pity I am too far away. Oh well.

5. The whole round trip flight has to meet these conditions AND come in at under $250 a ticket.



We’re not flying to Florida for Spring Break

Then I though “How about the train?” The boys would love the train! We have a train station 20 minutes away! And that is still only 20 minutes in traffic!


While our tiny town does have a train station, my parents’ thriving metropolis does not. Amtrak can get us to Tampa & then they put us on a bus.

I’m not taking a bus. Probably my parents would meet us in Tampa if we went that route & maybe we’d stay the night & do Busch Gardens the next day.


There is a 5 hour layover in DC. Sure there is plenty to do in DC and the Metro runs right through Union Station. But it’s 2 hours there, plus another 21 to Tampa. To then add another 5 hours is just wildly inconvenient. So I picked another station. This time there is a 4 hour layover in Richmond.

I could drive there myself quicker. And MUCH MUCH cheaper, considering it would be $450 a PERSON and that is just coach seats, not the kind you can recline & sleep in. Me & 2 kids in coach seats for 21 hours. I will be THAT MOTHER on the train. The one who simply stopped caring several hours ago and is now using her mp3 player to just sort of cling desperately to what little sanity she has left. Hoping it will last until she can hand the kids off to Grandma and collapse in a small sobbing heap in the backseat of the car. Don’t mention I have to do it all again next week to get home. PLEASE GOD DON’T MENTION IT!

I never wonder why parents are not controlling their kids better. I can recognize that glazed look of surrender from 1000 feet away. I’ve been there, I’ve done that & I assume you are there too now. I can’t help you but I won’t condemn you either.

So to recap

Flight – 2.5 hours to 7.5 hours depending on layover. $286 per person if I leave at 6am from an airport two hours away. $325 if perhaps I’d like to leave at a more civilized 9am.

Train – 21 hours if I drive 2 hours to the big train station. 26 hours if I go to a nearby station. $450 a person and I end up still being 4 HOURS AWAY from my destination!

Car – 19 hours if I don’t stop & folks, I have insomnia. A Pepsi Big Gulp at about 8pm would probably do the job. $150 in gas money. Plus $200 in hotel rooms if I feel a burning need to lay awake somewhere rather than drive on. But it would be just me. DH is not coming & he does 99% of the driving when we go to Florida. It will be a physical & mental challenge to do that drive alone.

It appears we will be spending Spring Break at home this year unless some late flight suddenly offers incredibly low fares.

I wonder how much seeing their grandkids is worth to my folks?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Surprise treats!

Monday when I checked the mail it included a package for me from a far away land.

Packages from far away lands are the only decent things the mail ever delivers and they are very few and far between, so I was elated!

The far away land was the UK and the sender was my long time bloggy friend Mel, of I Speak Melsh.

It was a container of mixed chocolates!


Which is a wonderful thing to receive unexpectedly on Valentine’s Day


+2 points for the exotic nature of the candies.

These were the varieties


The boys were instantly fascinated with them. Though because Snickers is common here it was immediately ignored. They were also somewhat disappointed the different color Milky Way wrapper did not hide a different flavored Milky Way but instead had a 3 Musketeers Bar in it. The Mars bar was the Milky Way.

Two countries, separated by a common language.

But it did taste a bit different. Why?

No high fructose corn syrup. These candies were made with sugar & glucose syrup (which could be every bit as evil as HFCS is supposed to be but is not on US food radar so I have no clue). They were not as sweet, which is good because milk chocolate can get really cloying with HFCS. They tasted like milk chocolate. Not milk chocolate and sweetner.

I snuck all the Truffles out of the bag and am hording them.

The boys’ favorite is the Teasers followed by the Caramel.

I have to show you this photo of the back of the bag. I was tired & my mind was on dinner when I opened the package so I wasn’t giving it the attention I should have.


What I read was “Best Before 18:04 on Tuesday” and I said to DH “Wow, that is really specific. Do they mean 6:04 GMT do you think or will they still be ok at 6:04 EST?" And which Tuesday?  What’s the date on the postage?”

While he was looking at me like I was insane I looked closer at the box.

Right. Not TUE but 11UE

But there is no 22nd month. Wait…how do European dates work again? Is this good until 2022? May 11 2022? November 5 2022? May 22 2011? 6:04pm May 22 2011? GMT?

And DH continued to just stare at me in amazement while scarfing down Snickers.

If there was still candy on Tuesday at 6am GMT it would be a near miracle.

There was still candy. But it will be gone long before the first Tuesday in May.

Thank you for the candy Mel. It’s a big hit!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Divine Intervention

I wouldn’t say God Him/Herself wants me to keep my towering blight on the landscape, but…

Thursday's removal was thwarted by snow – an act of God


Monday’s removal was thwarted by 40MPH wind gusts – also an act of God

What I will say is - circumstances certainly do seem to point toward a certain Divine interest in the topic.

Another attempt will be made next week.

I wonder if it will rain?

Also, I got a package all the way from England yesterday!

More on that tomorrow.

The winds keep blowing & the power will no doubt go out any time now.

The Divine might be inclined to let me keep the tower, or They might just want the pleasure of taking it down Themselves.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Randomness

Havoc got sick with a stomach bug Tuesday evening, threw up until midnight & missed school Wedneday to sleep.

Thursday there was almost an ENTIRE INCH of snow on the ground so naturally, school was closed. (ok, not naturally, the county was actually doing rather well about not freaking on the snow thing until this). And Mayhem came down with his brother’s  stomach bug.

Which was no end of a bummer to him because it totally blew the snow day & since it hit him at around 11am, he was fine to go to school on Friday.

Thursday was also supposed to be the day the tower came down. But due to the snow & winds they put it off until Saturday.

Saturday morning I got hit with the stomach bug, but just stabbing agonizing cramps. No ‘activity’ as it were. So I spend the day in bed with my heating pad wishing whatever was tearing around in my insides would just pick an exit and LEAVE already; in between bouts of dizzyness, aches, pains & lightheadedness. (DH practically had to carry me to the bathroom at one point)

Saturday night DH got hit with it as well, but his version involved ‘activity’ so he was up and down all night long and spend most of Sunday asleep in his recliner.

Nobody came for the tower.

Supposedly they will be here today for it

We did manage a dash to Target to pick up Valentines for the boys’ class parties today. They came in packs of 16, 27 and 35. Havoc has 21 kids in his class and naturally wanted the ones that come in packs of 16. Mayhem has 18 in his and wanted the ones that come in 35 packs. So the bus driver, the gym coach, the janitor, the principal, the TKD instructor & guidance counselor are all also getting cards.

And we still have almost an entire class worth left.

Since it is Valentine’s day today I’m sharing an early photo of DH & I


Summer 1991. We’d been dating 2 years and would get married 2 years later. We were living together in this apartment while I finished grad school & he cooked at a local restaurant.

Happy 21st Valentines Day honey!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

weekly winners

We had a snow day this week and the boys dragged out the Thomas trains for the first time in a couple years.


They put together a big track


Everyone helped


But diesel 10 was unimpressed with the Jedi’s efforts


For more weekly winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Putting things off

I have a task this month that I am SOOOOOO not looking forward to doing.

My bank card expires this month.

Do you know how many things are paid through that card?

Neither. Do. I.

A couple places have been nice, proactive, and sent me notices reminding me the card they have on file is about to expire.

I’ve even kept some of those notices.

One of them was the auto insurance & I can only say “THANK GOD” because I thought they were auto debiting us with the account number, not the card and I would never have contacted them with the new card number until I started getting “OH MY GOD YOU HAVEN’T PAID US” notices and I would have been all indignant because they HAVE my information or how else have they been getting paid all these years?

I’m a set it & forget it bill payer in case you haven’t noticed. I’ve got my life arranged so the only bill that fluctuates even the slightest is the phone bill & I auto send them $2 over so if I don’t look at the bill for a few months I don’t come up too far short if the rates change due to the credit balance I usually carry.

Yes, I know I should look at all my bills every time but I hate the phone company & opening their bills ruins my whole day even if there is nothing but the regular charges in it

There are bills I have set to send out auto payments & there are bills that auto debit me & there is the electric bill which I pay in cash in person because the electric company & my bank are engaged in acts of mutual hostility & I always seem to get caught in the crossfire. I no longer trust either one of them to send or receive payment unless in my presence.

I can see easily what I am sending out. But it’s much harder to sort out how people are taking money out. The bank statements just say “Insurance company – $98” not, ‘via card’ or ‘via direct withdrawal’. And even if it did, it could be DH’s card & not mine that they have on file. His cards don’t expire anytime soon.

Any new debt contracted in the past 3 years would have my bank card number because I haven’t owned a check book in that time & have no clue what my account number might be to give to people.

But I  haven’t added any new debiting debtors. New people are all me sending out auto pays.

So I have to call everyone who regularly appears on my bank statement & ask them if they have my card number. They’ll probably ask me if I have an account number and I’ll be all “Dude, I don’t even know how I am paying you! Do you really think I have an account number handy? Do I sound at all like that sort of organized person?” and we’ll have to play guessing games about security questions, which could have been set up by DH and I have no idea what the name of his favorite childhood pet was. Not to mention my hated of voice controlled automated systems that never understand half the numbers I say & I end up screaming OPERATOR and AGENT into the phone until a live human being answers. They always point out I could have made the changes with the automated system.

And there are always those, like life insurance policies, who only charge me once or twice a year who I won’t see unless they have charged me in the past few months. I suppose I’ll hear from them when the payment fails.

oh..BTW.. They are coming to take my internet providing blight on the landscape tomorrow. Probably. I’m hoping for snow & high winds so they can’t. I’m guessing they will also be erecting the pole to replace it. No one said anything about that though.

So if you hear of a ‘tense standoff’ and ‘hostage situation’ in the Mid Atlantic area tomorrow you know they tried to drive off and leave me with no internet & I just couldn’t allow that to happen.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Maybe we can get it out of the way now?

I’m thinking Havoc is starting his teen-rebellion-goth-phase a little early.

8 being a little early in my mind.

Havoc wants his ear pierced. Maybe both, maybe just one so he’ll have a non-sore ear to sleep on.

I like that he is considering that his ear will be sore for awhile & ways he might cope with that. Obviously he has put some thought into this.

He wants an axe or a sword or a ninja earring, though he understands he has to wear a basic stud for 6 weeks.

“Boys can have earrings. They are not just for girls.” he tells me.

And I can’t argue with that because it’s true.

One of his male classmates recently had an ear pierced when he went with his teen brother to get his ear done.

Then I came home with grey nail polish and Havoc wanted his nails painted because “Grey is a boy color. Like black. Boys can paint their nails, not just girls.”

And I can’t argue with that because that’s true too.

Boys can also have long hair if they want and some boys even wear EYELINER!

He prefers black or dark clothes. He’s moody & introverted at times.

You see where this is going right?


I’m going to have the only 8 year old goth in primary school.

I painted his nails over the weekend. Mayhem wanted his done too but in the end never found the time to sit still long enough to get them done.

We have not gotten Havoc’s ears pierced yet though. Ear piercing has to happen at the mall & the mall is an hour away & we rarely go to the mall. So even if I said “yes” wholeheartedly, it wouldn’t be happening with alacrity.

I am of the opinion that they are his ears & he is probably old enough to choose whether or not to jam a piece of metal through them & then take care of the resulting wound. He also has to pay for it out of his allowance. I’m not a fan of the idea just because I am the one who will have nag him to clean his ears & the one that will have to deal with the inevitable infections.

DH has not weighed in one way or the other, except to admit that yes, in college, he did have his ear pierced & Mommy gave him some sword earrings once. He also had long hair & occasionally painted his thumbnails black.

Grandma though has some strong opinions about it.

“No way in HELL” being the short form.

Grandma is 71 and in her world view boys do not wear earrings, or nail polish or make up or have long hair. Unless they are in 80’s rock bands and even then, those things are only permissible as ‘stage costuming’ not for wear in everyday life. Only  girls do those things regularly and Grandma already has 2 granddaughters & feels that is enough. Grandma will be ‘so disappointed’ if Havoc gets his ear pierced.

And I’m fairly sure that guilt trip was directed at me every bit as much as at Havoc.

Havoc found this information perplexing, not understanding what his cousins have to do with his having his ear pierced and said he’d make sure not to wear them around the grandparents.

Thus coming early to a conclusion I was 14 before I reached.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Honestly? If this is a necessary stage in his life, lets get it over now while he is gregarious & oblivious and save me dealing with angsty teenage ‘you don’t understand. I need to be an individual’ BS that will so totally be met with mockery by one or the other of his parents, who have been there & done that.

So Monday I sent him off to school in his black jeans, with his black hoodie and grey nails. If he still had the blue avatar hair from this summer he’d have made quite an impression.


The kids at school laughed about the nail polish but according to Havoc it was the same as when he did tricks on the trampoline to make them laugh.  He didn’t feel teased or anything. He didn’t ask me to remove the polish, which I had been expecting. He still has it on, though it’s all scratched up from playing. He’s decided that is why boys don’t usually wear nail polish.

Boy games are too hard on a manicure.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Some general blog housekeeping notes.

Martha, the crafty voice in my head, has retired for the moment, pleased with the chalkboard paint project.

But while was heaving a sigh of relief at that, Ambition suddenly appeared. Ambition is a pain in my butt. Unlike Martha, Ambition knows exactly who he  is dealing with & is well aware of my lack of motivation.

Ambition is having none of it right now.

It all started out innocently enough, I was reading a website (not for a change) and they were talking about a 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge they were about to begin on Feb 7.

And Ambition said “Ah HA! you need to do this”

and I whined “But I don’t wanna monetize my bloooooog! I just wanna have a commuuuunityyyyyy”

and Ambition said “Geez, Martha and the Insecurities are right. You are pathetic, and lazy. No one is expecting you to become the Pioneer Woman. Just try the self promotion thing for a month. And it’s February, so it’s a short month. At worst you meet some new people & maybe gain some followers. At best you may make enough in ad revenue for BlogHer to finally cut you a check.” (you need to earn $25 to get a check. In 3 years, I have gotten exactly one check)

Then Ambition cheated & brought Vanity into the discussion & Vanity is ALL ABOUT getting noticed & for once the Insecurities were silent on the subject. (anyone else ever let down by their Insecurities? I count on them to make my life easier & they totally dropped the ball this time. Possibly they are still sulking after losing the purple streaks in the hair argument last summer)

And I mentally crossed my arms and grumbled that ok I’d try it this time. For now.

So, I have done the first exercise which is writing an Elevator Pitch about the blog.

Short Pitch: Finding the funny in the daily routine.

Long Pitch: Havoc & Mayhem is the totally true story of a married, happy but incredibly tired, insomniac mother of two who occasionally forgets just who's life she is leading. It is a rollicking tale filled with action, adventure, suspense, humor and really out of date food products. Join Stacey as she plans meals, reads books, crochets small items, battles with technology, raises her kids and tries in vain to convince the voices in her head she is not Martha Stewart, an underwear model, a tech geek, the Fly Lady or any of the chefs on television, all while clutching a Nikon D40 to ‘capture the memories’. With special guest appearances by her nemesis - The Scissors and his little straight pin minions.

I think it more or less covers it all.

I’ve also added an option to subscribe to my blog by email. (and probably mucked up my RSS feed in the process, if you don’t see this post in your reader, please let me know)

Off & on throughout the month, as I work my way through this project, there will be random posts like this & you may be seeing more of me on bloggy forums and stumble upon and tumblr.

Or not.

I’m trying to lure Ambition into applying his energies toward diet & food restraint but so far no luck. As I said, Ambition knows *exactly* who he is dealing with and when to give up a lost cause.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Randomness for Monday

I did well with my photo project last month. I had 16 topics to start with and ended up not taking a macro shot, but I added menu planning & gas prices so had 17 photos at the end of the month. We’ll see how I keep up this month.

This is the menu board from last week. Sunday to be precise


Still left to make this week on the list is everything from lasagna-rolled on down. A rare example of me following the order of the list.

I still have no idea what to cook in the crock pot. I’m thinking beefy lentil soup. I made marinated steak bites for snacking during the game last night & have plenty left for soup. But I do need to run out & get some root veggies to add to it. But I think a crock pot is sort of unnecessary. It’s not like I am not home from 11am every day. I can easily watch a pot on the stove & you don’t get that ‘watery’ taste everything I cook in the crock seems to get.

I managed a decent self portrait this month & had fun playing with it in Lightroom 3


I’m finding more grey in my hair these days. Those ‘highlighted’ hair strands on my shoulder? Grey.

I was looking for a charted Celtic design book in my office last week. I wanted to do a pattern framing the cross stitch project I am working on. I never did find the book but I did find several sheets of 14ct Aida fabric. My bloggy friend Carol recently made a cute cross stitch bookmark and I decided to make a few myself with this fabric. But cross stitching will take too long, so I dug out my Elizabethan Blackwork patterns and will make a few this week using them. Only with color thread instead of black. Depending on how it goes I might put some for sale in my neglected etsy shop.

DH is supposed to take the cub scouts bowling tonight but one of the tower climbers hurt his back so DH may have to take the climb & it’s 3 hours away. So I may have to take the cub scouts bowling.

Pray for me.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


Martha, the crafty voice in my head, was unsatisfied with my apron making. It wasn’t enough for her. She needed more.

Once again I was out on (I never learn) and I saw these photos of walls with chalkboards painted on them. And cabinets with chalkboards on them & one of them had some comment about it being DIY chalkboard paint & you can use whatever color you like.

I’ve long thought of getting some chalkboard paint for the inside of a couple of my kitchen cabinets. I want to be able to write recipe ingredients on them when I am cooking because I really have no space to put the book anywhere near where I prep & cook & end up wandering all around my kitchen with every new step. But I didn’t want black. Green might be acceptable. Only nowhere around here sells chalkboard paint in any color. Lowes claims on the website to stock it at both the Lowes ‘near’ me, but neither of them actually stock it. So it’s just been one of those things on the mental list that I check on randomly from time to time when in Lowes.

But the comment linked up to the DIY instructions.

They were on Martha’s site! So of course Martha in my head was overjoyed!

And the thing is…painting is actually sort of do-able for me. Much more so than sewing or making floral wreaths.  I *like* to paint and the inside of a couple cabinets is a reasonable size. So I went to Lowes Sunday and got my supplies.


A pretty, dark purple. I mixed a cup of it with 2 tablespoons of the unsanded grout.


Then I taped up the cabinets. I’m only painting the bottom halves because that is as far as I can reach to write stuff.


Let me just say here that I had no idea how much surface a cup of paint would cover. I assumed it would do both doors for two coats, the end.

Then I painted it on, thickly


But wow there was a lot of paint left and the container had no lid and it would be wasted paint unless I found something else to paint.

Dangerous times.

First I painted another cabinet


Then I decided to paint an area in our bathroom. Why? No clue. I have no idea what I might want to write on a chalkboard in my bathroom. I’ve never felt it was lacking a chalkboard, but the urge to not waste paint was strong and my bathroom is pretty much the only other room in the house where purple paint would not clash horribly.

Probably a good thing really.


Then I sat back & watched the paint dry




And it was every bit as exciting as I was led to believe it could be.

Then, once several hours passed, I removed the blue tape. Martha herself (not the voice in my head) suggests at this point that you sand the paint with 150 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. I disagree with this. The uneven bits were from the wood underneath. A better suggestion would have been to sand BEFORE painting. Also, sanding caused my paint to rip & peel and I had to peel off all the paint & redo the one door I sanded. The next step is to rub the painted area all over with a piece of chalk and then wipe it off to prime it. Then you have a chalkboard


Mayhem wanted mac & cheese for dinner. Havoc decided to remind me he prefers something else.

I peeled the tape off the bathroom square & tried sanding it so see if it was an issue of wood versus paint background & the same thing happened. Don’t sand the chalkboard. Learn to live with the ‘personalization’ the texture gives it.


You can see where I had to touch up spots.  All I need now is to measure the thing & go buy some trim pieces at Lowes to frame it. They’ll even cut them to length with the 45 degree miters for me.

Sound so easy doesn’t it?

We retiled the bathroom floor in April 2002 & broke a couple baseboards when we pulled them off. All we needed to do was measure the length & take a piece of trim to match to Lowes.


Our bathroom Feb 1, 2011.

Yeah…starting & doing projects is easy. It’s that finish work that gets us every time.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Just putting it out there

I have a deep, abiding love for things to put things in.

I adore purses, backpacks, satchels, briefcases and messenger bags. I even like clutches though I find them useless as a portable accessory. There are great for storage but a PITA when you are out & about. I need my hands free.

So when I found this at my inner role player was in heaven

It’s a Bag of Holding!

It’s bigger on the inside!

It apparently can hold a 17” laptop even though it is only 16” long.

*I* have a 17” laptop!

It can also hold a large 3-ring binder, two college textbooks, two paperback books, Amazon Kindle, iPod, cellphone, cables, pencils, business cards, and spare batteries all at the same time.

*I* have all those things!

Granted I never carry the college textbooks because I finished my MA in 1992 but at any minute I could need to carry them. You never know when Applied Sociology vol 3 1990 Revised Ed & The History of Old English might be needed.

Probably it would be a better travel bag than day to day purse I admit, though there are times when it would be a good day to day purse.  True, less so now that I don’t have to carry diapers, wipes, sippy cups, goldfish crackers & changes of clothes. But! My camera stuff would fit wonderfully in there & could easily take the place of the textbooks.

I think it would make an awesome Valentine’s Day present. Or for St Patrick’s Day. Or the Vernal Equinox

Just saying.

And no…nobody is paying me to say it.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The 2010 photo book!

It arrived Friday


but before I talk about the awesome-ness of the book I have to share the story of it’s delivery.

Yes, a book birth story as it were.

I ordered this book from Blurb, as I did both my previous 365 books. Blurb ships FedEx now, which I failed to pay attention to in my excitement at ordering the book.

FedEx has, 9 times out of 10, had ‘issues’ delivering things to me. Granted, about half the time it is weather related. Like before Xmas when it took them 6 BUSINESS DAYS to take a package the 50 miles from their distribution center to my home. It kept going out on the truck but just not making it to my house until I finally made such a pest of myself they sent some guy out at 5pm to make the hour long drive. (I’m sure FedEx and the tech support folks at my ISP would have *lots* to talk about over drinks. I’m civil but I am insistent). Yes there had been a major snowstorm, but a FULL WEEK earlier & that package was at my ‘local’ distribution center when it started so don’t give me ‘we have a backlog to deliver’ BS. My package was part of the original backlog. And UPS was there the day AFTER the snow with my stuff. Hell, USPS was there too.

Anyway…I try not to end up with FedEx for my deliveries.

So when the ‘we shipped your book’ email from Blurb arrived with the FedEX tracking number I knew there would be problems. And snow was predicted. And my heart sank.

Delivery was supposed to be for Thursday but it snowed & there was no package, so I assumed it would be this week before the book showed up.

But NO!

Friday afternoon, as I am heading out to the kids’ school to take Mayhem’s class cupcakes (which should have been Wednesday but school closed early due to impending snow) I see this at the end of the driveway


Yes, that is my package. Yes, they tied it to a TREE branch by the road & just left it there for anyone to drive by & steal. Apparently my driveway was ‘snowed in’ (I called customer service to complain Saturday) and yet, there I was in in a mini van without snow tires, studs or all wheel drive, getting in and out of it.

My snowed in driveway


A Kia could manage that driveway!

But I did get the book before anyone thought to steal it, so that’s good.

It’s really nice too. I am delighted by it & so happy I went with the 12x12 size this time. Seeing everything full sized is awesome!

Wonderful clear colors


nice tight binding


great quality paper


no weird cropping of my pages


It’s kinda skinny though


I expected 80 pages to be…thicker.


But that’s due to me being spatially challenged. I can never tell how big anything will be.

I’m very pleased with it


And do you what else? I ordered something from another company that ended up going Fed Ex and surprisingly was delivered on Saturday.

And they did it AGAIN!


This time I wasn’t even expecting a package & only learned of it’s existence because one of my neighbors saw it when they drove by and called to tell me something was tied to my pine tree by the road.

That’s when I called FedEx customer service.

Seriously people. Packages tied to a tree. I suppose I should be glad they didn’t just keep them & say they were undeliverable.