Friday, February 20, 2015

the 15th birthday cake that wasn't

My sister and her ex-husband have usually tried to remain civil and share the birthday celebrations for their two children since their divorce. Well, my stunning and super smart niece Diana turned 15 on Wednesday. Her father was in charge of the cake.

He showed up at 8pm. With....a half eaten dutch apple pie.

And he saw absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just like the time he was put in charge of bringing the deep fried turkey to Thanksgiving. It arrived, minus a leg.

Happy Birthday Diana! Emma will be the first to tell you fondant is for the birds, but you deserve a cake just as special and unique as YOU! Here you go:




Saturday, February 14, 2015

sister power: painting the back room

"Come paint the back room," I said to my sister. She wanted the plan. "We'll paint from 8am-noon," I said. "Sister power. We'll knock it out." I convinced her.

8am this morning came and I was still in bed. She had gotten her tax return yesterday and paid off her car. She had taken me to celebrate at the Winking Lizard. What did she expect? I'm over 40. She knows this so she woke me up with a phone call.

Two hours and one Home Depot trip later, I met her at the house. She put together the floor steamer while I prepped the back room. We debated whether the room had been primed. She convinced me it was. Two thirds a can of paint later she would change her mind.

The first coat was finished about 12:30pm so we took a break. There is only one moldy loaf of bread at the house so my niece chose Panera for lunch. She was very hungry from lounging on the loveseat watching The Office on DVD. We swung by the Habitat for Humanity ReStore on the way so I could check for a bathroom sink and a kitchen counter top. I struck out on both but they accepted my flush mount brass chandelier donation with a smile.

After lunch, we collected Caroline at Pizza Hut so Kevin could do his annual V-day shift. Back at the house we divided and conquered with Diana playing with Caroline, Dawn beginning the second coat and me steaming the wood floors in the foyer, living room, and sun room. I joined her after I finished up and by 4:30pm we were done.

We left my ALL WHEEL DRIVE vehicle in the driveway and headed home through a snowstorm. Her Chevy Aveo handles like a joke so she got to pay me back for all the times she's white knuckled it in the death seat of my car. She even did me a huge solid by picking up Jake and his friend on the way home. A quick stop at our neighborhood Subway and then Drug Mart completed the day. She dropped us off and headed home for a hot bath.

I'm glad we are almost done painting because I fear the next time I may be on my own.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

that big box store, but not the one you're thinking

Recently I began working at a local superstore on the weekends to make up for lost daycare income. They hired me as a temporary hardlines toy merchandiser. I get a nice discount in addition to the minimum wage and I get to talk to other full grown humans. Win-win. After Christmas they asked me to stay on permanently(no surprise after I saw the competition) and I agreed.

Toys hasn't been so busy since Christmas but is starting to pick up due to tax refund time. On Saturday during one 5 hour shift I sold the last Barbie Dreamhouse, a Kawasaki Power Wheels, and almost talked a customer into a $400 elliptical. I was looking forward to a lot more of that, but...

During one of my last shifts in January, the grocery manager had pulled me to work in HBC(Heath and Beauty). I got completely absorbed in organizing makeup, which I don't even wear. There are at least 500 different L'Oreal lip products we sell and they all look the same til you read the fine print. Well, I did such a bang up job they told me today I have been reassigned permanently. They even gave me a key!

So today, in between watching the rest of an ADA Compliance Training video, I organized cold medications and pulled expired stock. There was quite a bit due to the night crew pushing the old stock to the back to make room for new items.

I also gave assistance to a few customers. One was visiting from West Virginia and forgot her Vicks Vaporub. She puts it on her feet at night to help her athlete's foot. She can't use the regular medication because her liver is "gone". She said she usually buys the ointment at the Dollar Tree 4 or 5 jars at a time. It does not sound like it is working.

At one point a Spanish speaking couple in my aisle got into a heated conversation over some pain reliever.  I speak un poco but heard enough "ella" to discern they were discussing whether to ask me for help so I approached them. He held up the Advil and said, "For headache?" I let him know the Tylenol was "mas bueno" for headache and they were grateful. He even reminded me that it should be "mejor."

All in a day's work, or at least, a five hour shift.




Monday, January 26, 2015

skipping the cake


Kevin and I have both put on quite a few pounds this past year. I guess the stress, lack of sleep, and spending every spare minute working on the house, shopping for the house, or worrying about the house have taken their toll.
Last spring his school had a weight loss contest so he spent this past holiday season bulking up with the intention of showing the largest loss and winning the big prize in the 2015 contest.
He lost a bunch of weight relatively easy once before by doing P90X and eating ham and peas for a few months. I stocked up on the peas thinking it would be the same this go around.
Well it's been 26 days and not much has changed about his eating habits. The week before last he spent his lunch break on teacher training day at the local Quaker Steak and Lube lunch buffet. He got meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, and wings but he "skipped the cake."

He is down 7 pounds.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

a pear by any other name...

FOLLOW UP: our tree is no dud. We pick pears after Halloween. They were juicy and yummy and filled the bed of the glass blocker's truck because I had no time to deal with them. He got cash and pears. Not a bad deal for a window. 


Original Post from September 2014
So we have a ginormous pear tree in our backyard. It is full of green pears. Squirrels are enjoying the crunchy pears. Us, not so much. I've done a lot of googling on how to ripen pears. I've asked everyone I know who might know how to ripen pears.


I've heard a lot of things:
  • Pick them all on Labor Day.
  • Set them on cardboard in the basement to ripen.
  • Don't pick too soon.
  • Don't pick too late.
  • They must be chilled before the ripening process will start.
  • Put them by ripe bananas.


My head is spinning from all the pear ripening information and I still am lacking one ripe pear.
Maybe our tree is a dud.


why, it's the natural choice, that's why.



I'm painting my house once. I hate painting. So after consulting famous web based designers lists of recommended whites, everything is SW 7011. Forever.



freezer meal exchange group followup

Original post here: http://familyof9.blogspot.com/2014/08/freezer-meal-exchange-group-experiment.html

This is the follow up. These are reviewed in the order of how we ate them. Despite what my family may have to say I still think this experiment was worth it and I am grateful to the ladies who participated.

What we got:
  1. Chicken Paprika: Kids were expecting my high fat version made with skin on dark meat and real sour cream so this just pissed them off,
  2. Chicken Taco Chili: Given to a friend recovering from surgery.
  3. Breakfast Burritos: A very good idea I will steal and put less spice into, kids dipped in ketchup to take the kick out of them, these are great for a quick breakfast as they are running out the door.
  4. Ground Turkey Chili: Pretty good but no one eats chili except me.
  5. Cilantro Lime Chicken: A little heavy(for my taste) on corn and black beans which turned mushy in the slow cooker turning chicken black. I fished out most of the chicken and a little of the corn and black beans and stuffed inside flour tortilla Chipotle style.
  6. Beef and Vegetable Soup: This was more like a stew and had the perfect ratio of vegetables to beef, a little bit of a sweet flavor, delicious.
  7. Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole: I really liked this one but it was made with brown rice and no cream sauce so again, pissed off my teenage boys.
  8. Beef Stroganoff: Sigh. Family much prefers my version.
  9. Pasta e'Fagioli: An Olive Garden rip off. This was SUPER! I cooked it a night I had to run off to a training and it was quick and delicious. The next day the day care kids gobbled up the leftovers.
  10. Chicken Cacciatore with Tortellini: The tortellinis were cooked to perfection and Caroline had 3 bowls! I called my sister over and she ate it up. She is very picky so that says a lot. By this point, when I say "it's a freezer meal" they boys are not interested so I don't have any feedback from them.
  11. Stuffed Peppers:
  12. Skinny Sour Cream Enchiladas: I was unsure what to expect after seeing lots of moisture in the bag but WOW these came out great. They were very creamy and chickeney but light on the spice. Day care kids ate them up as did my son-in-law. Two thumbs up.