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Monday, June 30, 2008

Creative pursuits.

Photo CDs.

At the moment, I have a sizable backlog of projects, but I'm working my way through them. One of my priorities is to get my photo organization current. I take a lot of photos and find that they can be difficult to manage. I only upload and print the ones I really like and burn the rest to CDs. From a printing standpoint, I'm caught up until Easter of this year (Waiting for a really good coupon for free prints so that I can get current!). However, in spite of the near computer disaster that occurred late last year, I'm still way behind on backing up my photos.

I actually created these CD covers last year, but didn't bother to print them out until this weekend. I shamelessly ripped off the idea from Pottery Barn: Photos. When I turned to that page in the book I began drooling over the orderliness of it all. I remember thinking to myself, "But who has to time and inclination to be that organized with their photos?" Well, heck I do, that's who! Okay, I don't really have the time, but I do have the crazy, er the inclination. Yes, that's what it's called.


In other news, my photobook arrived today from Shutterfly. Nothing really new to see compared with last year's version because I didn't have time to reinvent the wheel. When I conceived this idea last year, I meant the book to be a collection of photos that I loved but wouldn't really get seen otherwise in my photo albums (Like all those photos that I take of food!). This year's book contained a lot more people photos, as I was trying to be more representative of the major events of the year. Do I spy Crazy Uncle Craig on the cover?

Of course, as I was flipping through the finished book, I found a typo. Would anyone out there like to be my copy editor? I'm hiring!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Please Mr. Postman...

All wrapped up in a bow.

...don't hate me. Is that another package just for me?

I went on a bit of an internet shopping binge last week. So the 10+ packages that I'm expecting have been gradually trickling in over the last couple of days.

One package that I wasn't expecting was birthday gift from my favorite cousin, Noreen. Inside the pretty wrapping paper are three boxes of my favorite tea, you guessed it, Vanilla Almond by Bigalow! Apparently, the fine people of Charlevoix, MI have enough good taste to carry it in their local stores. Plus, no one wraps a gift better than Noreen!

Singer 185J

One of my lifelong dreams is to learn how to sew well. Now, I can sew in the respect that I can attach two pieces of fabric together either by hand or machine, but the execution is pretty poor. I have a really crappy Brother machine that I had bought about ten years ago at Walmart for $99, but the bobbin winder thingy really never worked right. Plus, it made this annoying, loud "ERNNNNNNNNNN" sound when you pushed the foot pedal. Huge demotivator.

I wanted to have a better sewing machine on hand, even if only for some minor hemmings and repairs, but since I'm a fickle hobbyist, I didn't want to shell out a lot of money for something that could very well sit in the corner collecting dust. So, I decided that an older model machine was the way to go. This one is the Singer 185J, named so because I believe that it weighs 185 pounds. And it's green. Really green. It runs oh-so smoothly when you push the foot pedal too. Now I know what I've been missing all these years. I can't wait to sew something with it! Who out there needs a new potholder?

Turquoise Sunbeam Mixmaster.

Yes, I already have one of these in pink, but remember - it doesn't work. This one is a bit beat on the exterior compared to the pink, however, it can actually whip up a batch of mashed potatoes, a quality that I find most important in a mixer. Plus, the aqua matches my kitchen better.

Thank goodness Monday isn't a federal holiday - there will be more to come tomorrow!

Lauren's got a posse.

Lauren's got a posse.

Yesterday was our annual family cookout. We had planned it for this weekend rather than next because from our house you can view the fireworks that are part of our town's community day. I wish that I had lots of photos to share, but the rain totally washed us out, which also caused community day (and the fireworks) to be canceled. This seems to be the trend this year, and as a photographer, I couldn't be more frustrated.

Still, there was a lot of fun to be had playing indoors. Lauren played with her new girlfriends (pictured above), Ashley and Amber. We also coaxed my mom into trying out the Wii. That was worth the price of admission right there.

Grandma vs. Wii Bowling

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Watching television.

This is a story about cable.

Back in 2004, when I thought that I was going to be laid off, I started cutting our expenses like crazy. One of the first things to go was all the frills from our phone bill (caller id, call waiting, call forwarding and many other things I didn't even know we had), but shortly thereafter I decided to go from Standard to Basic cable. What this meant was that we were going to have only 20+ channels, mostly made up of the local network stations. Yes, we would giving up such television classics as Iron Chef and Trading Spaces, but since our cable bill was going from $50+ to $12, it was well worth the sacrifice, even though we risked being ostracized by our friends and family. To this day, my mom still doesn't quite understand how we don't have The Food Network.

Well, I never did get laid off, but we had gotten so used to not having all those channels that we didn't go back.

Fast forward to last year. One day we came home from work to find that we could no longer tune in the HD channels. I called the cable company to report the problem and found out that the reason that we didn't have access to the channels was because, unbeknown to us, you actually had to pay for them. Through some glitch, we had been getting them for free for a year. Oops.

So we started to pay extra for HD. Because we now had a cable box, we could access On Demand shows, so Lauren could now watch some episodes of Dora The Explorer and Go, Diego Go! like any normal kid with cable. We also got the DVR option. This arrangement worked very well.

Then last month, we had a recorded message on our answering machine from Comcast informing us that unless we upgraded to their super expensive digital package, we would lose access to On Demand. I felt bad because Lauren had gotten used to watching those shows, so I decided that for an extra ten bucks a month to add Digital Classic to our cable package. This would give us all the pre-school kids channels like Noggin and Sprout in addition to Sci-Fi, VH-1 Classic, and all kinds other obscure channels like SOAPnet and The Game Show Network.

Now that Lauren has 24 / 7 access to her shows, it's been challenging to monitor her television habit. The photo above was taken the day we had the new channels installed. I left the room for a few minutes, and when I came back, I found her like this:

Watching a REALLY good show.

Not even a day in and she had already OD'd on Noggin. This makes me fear for the day when I actually have to learn how to configure the parental controls. Maybe we could just hide the remote for the next 15 years?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The graduate.

Aunt Linda & Cousin Steve.

Today we attended a graduation party for Mark's cousin, Steve. Here he is with his mom, Aunt Linda.

Teeny crocs.

Noah's teeny crocs were the talk of the party.

Cousin Sean and his 'fro.

Along with Cousin Sean's afro.

Product placement.

As well as Mike's choice of underwear.

Lastly, a little birdie told me that someone is celebrating a birthday. Happy Birthday, Dolores! Hope the day was grand as you are!

Circa 2003: Dolores, Me & Mark.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday morning.

Buckwheat cakes.

In the continuing search for good wholesome food that's not full of chemicals and crap, I was excited to find a box of buckwheat pancake mix in the organic section of my local grocery store for the exact same price as the complete buttermilk mix. I had to mix a batch up this morning a try them out.

Let's just say that this is "Food Not For The Faint of Heart" (TM Me). If you're expecting the buttermilk pancakes that you get with your Grand Slam Breakfast (TM Denny's), these aren't it. First off, they are extremely hearty. In an attempt to thin them out, I put in almost twice as much milk as the recipe called for, and still they were really thick. Mark said that they made him feel like he just ate a whole loaf of bread. And they really soak up the syrup, which, like the jar sauce used in my manicotti, was the fake artificial stuff and not real maple syrup (Which kind of negates the whole point of this experiment, doesn't it?).

However, there is no denying how much better they are for you, and they were tasty, just more in the wheat bread sort of way. I will definitely make them again, only this time I will probably make a smaller batch with blueberries or bananas. Sayonara, Aunt Jemima!

Not much else to report today. Lauren went swimming while Mark did his thing around the yard. I myself have taken on an unexpected project. On a whim, I checked my Shutterfly account and saw that I had a yet another free photo book credited to my account. It expires on June 24th, so I'm scrambling to put something together. It's going to be another Best of book like I made last year.

Off to see if Mark wants to watch Battlestar Galactica with me. Lauren better not be awake at 6 a.m. tomorrow!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A pretty good day.

Big fish.

Usually the week days are so similar that one blends into the next, but there were a few little things that made today standout from the rest. I spent my lunch hour outdoors watching and enjoyed a free jazz concert. I was chosen to be someone's mentor at work. Mark acquired some new plants. I taught Lauren how to make salads for dinner, then later we made brownies together using my Pyrex bowl pictured a few entries back.

You may be wondering what's up with the Father's Day fish in the last entry. One of Mark's Father's Day gifts was a very big pond net. Instead of a card, I cut out a fish for Lauren to decorate and then placed in the net. So far, I think Lauren is enjoying the net more than Mark.

Homemade manicotti.

Last week, while we were watching QED Cooks!, Mark lamented that no one has ever made him homemade manicotti. Since the weather was cool this weekend, I thought I'd give it a try.

You see those shells? I made those from scratch. This was a shining moment for me, as I really didn't think that I was capable of such an achievement. The green stuff is spinach, since we like our vegetables around here. Unfortunately, I committed blasphemy by using sauce from a jar, but I didn't have the ingredients on hand to make homemade. Next time, I'll make my own. It's about time that I learned how to make the Sunday sauce. Given my age, my ancestors would probably think me the equivalent of an old spinster because I don't know how to make my own Sunday sauce.

Animated Daisy.

Lastly, for the first time in a long while, this past weekend we watched Dexter's Laboratory. There is this one episode where Dexter finds a stray dog and does an experiment on him in order to get him to talk. Of course, once he knows how to talk, the dog says typical dog things in a very excited fashion. When he begs for food he says over and over again "Foodforme? Foodforme?" (Kind of like the Beggin' Strips dog that says "Bacon, Bacon, Bacon!"). Mark and I always said that if Daisy could talk that is exactly what she would say. However, it wasn't until this weekend when we saw the episode for the first time since we'd adopted Daisy that we realized that Dexter's dog looks exactly like Daisy in animated form!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Day and knight in Ligonier, Pa.

Greetings from Ligonier, PA!

Yesterday, we made one of our usual summer trips to Ligonier. Rain was threatening, but luckily, the weather was pleasant for the couple of hours that we were there.

A new Playmobil friend.

Once again, there was no good antique finds to be found, which was no surprise since we usually don't expect to find anything there anyway. What was a surprise is that The Toy Box had placed yet another different giant Playmobil figure on display outside their store!

All hail the king!Everybody loves a clown.Giant Playmobil Knight outside The Toy Box in Ligonier, PA

Here are the three that we've seen so far. Neat, huh?

Pulled pork sandwich

And wouldn't be a road trip without our usual food stop. Each June, we attend the luncheon at the Heritage Church, where they serve the best pulled pork sandwiches I've ever tasted. Oh to be able to make pulled pork like those Heritage Church ladies!

I washed down my sandwich with a can of Ohana iced tea. According to the can, "ohana" means family. I'm wasn't aware that the families of Hawaii are known for their iced tea, but who am I to question a tin can?

Visiting Great Grandma Gert.

In the evening, we stopped to visit great-grandma Gert. She looks great! Overall she seemed pretty happy too, with the exception of a few complaints. The care givers won't let her sunbathe, and they don't help her out of the bathroom fast enough. For this, she said that she's going to spite them by living to be well over a hundred, maybe one-hundred and twenty, to quote her.

I think she can do it.

A tribute to our resident daddy.

Doggies need daddies too!

It's Fathers Day, Charlie Brown!

Sometimes, daddies need a drink.

D is for daddy. That's good enough for me.

Happy Father's Day to one and all!

Daddy smooches.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Do the math.

Do the math.

So another year has past, and I can no longer deny being on the bad side of thirty. Why is it that time goes faster the older that you get?

Have a color coordinated birthday!

I must be doing something right since I received some very nice gifts. This is Mark's contribution. The lunch bag is to replace my pink Hello Kitty one. Maybe if I also ditch my Chococat mug, I can declare myself a full fledged adult.

Ice cream bowls.

Among other things, my friend Mel C gave me these very photogenic bowls. I have a feeling that Lauren will be claiming the green one.

The three of us celebrated over Aladdin's take out for dinner (Lauren ate pierogies.) and chocolate peanut butter pie from Joe Zeppi's (Lauren ate hers and some of mine.). Ice cream pie is basically ice cream poured into a graham cracker crust. Simple concept, but oh so tasty. On top of that, Joe Zeppi's makes the most amazing chocolate peanut butter ice cream. I'd have to say it's probably my favorite ice cream around.

Until next year!

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Three lilies.

It's always amazing to see our pond come back to life in the spring. After months of desolation during the winter, the fact that anything could survive is hard to believe, but so far everything has come back each year - the fish, the plants and the flowers.

Mark also fixed the pump, so the water is flowing again. I love to sit in the sun right beside the pond and listen to the water running off of the rocks. It's not exactly the waves crashing against the shore, but it's nice in it's own way.


Lauren also took her first swim of the year. Last year, she swam twice and then developed an aversion to water (which made bath time quite a challenge). While she is mostly over that phase, she was still struggling a little bit with the concept of "being wet." She sat and played for a good three hours, so that's a step in the right direction.

The more things change, the more I dislike them.

Vintage burlesque posters.

First, a little somethin' to spice up your Sunday afternooon, courtesy of the Great Geauga Antique Fair. Mark said that the only thing that could make this photo better is if he was standing next to them. So try and picture it for him.

Yesterday, we once again traveled to Burton, Ohio, home of antiques, Amish and pecan chicken salads. We've been making this trip twice a year for a least six years running, so it's an event that we look forward to in a big way. Unfortunately, the last couple of visits have proven that there isn't much to look forward to any longer.

The change became noticeable during our last visit in September 2007. The amount of vendors and quality of antiques has declined quite a bit, and we came away from the trip pretty much empty handed. Yesterday's visit was even worse. It used to take us approximately two hours to see everything, but this time, we were finished in a half and hour. We probably would have left then, but I was determined to find something. The best I could do was this Pyrex bowl for $5:

Butterprint Cinderella Pyrex

Afterwards, we headed over to Belle's to have pecan chicken salad with the homemade muffin. What kind of muffins would we get this time, I wondered. Chocolate chip? Corn? Banana nut? The answer: None of the above. Our salads didn't come with any muffins. I was devastated.

The last blow came when we found out the town's homemade ice cream shop, The Burton Fox Inn, had closed its doors. I always looked forward to eating one of the cones during the trip home. Never again.

In sum, our trip was extremely disappointing. Mark declared that we're not going back again, but we'll wait until September's show to make the final call. The salad is still darn good. Some other notable things seen and heard yesterday:

--As we were driving through Amish farmland, Herbie the Love Bug whizzed passed us.

--Much to Mark's discomfort, we heard David Cook's single "Time of My Life" twice during the trip.

--I missed out on the shot that surely would've have gotten me published in Life magazine (If it still existed - speaking of change). We saw two little blonde Amish girls, one slightly taller than the other, dressed identically in turquoise dresses and white bonnets standing side by side looking down at a new born foal and it's mother. I've seen few things in life that were more perfect.

My story above is only one example of how things I like seem to close / be discontinued / fade away. Another smaller example has to do with scrapbooking. The standard scrapbooking size is 12 x 12. All patterned paper comes in this size, although many people scrap smaller. I've always prefered 8 1/2 x 11 (letter size), because you can feed the sheets through the printer.

My favorite cardstock is made by a company called Die Cuts With a View. Every season, they release a stack of many colors that is exclusive to Joann's. And every season, I would buy the 8 1/2 x 11 version. It was a cheap, easy way to amass a lot of cardstock in many colors.

Much to my dismay, last Christmas DCWV didn't release an 8 1/2 X 11 version, only 12 x 12 and 8 X 8. Spring came, and again, nothing. Yes, you guessed it - I was devastated.

Last evening, I went to Joann's because I needed a square hand punch for a project (Which, of course, they didn't have). I practically wept with joy when I saw this:

Long live 8 1/5 by 11!!!

My beloved 8 1/2 x 11 stack was back. Maybe there is hope for this world afterall.

P.S. I forgot to mention that the photos in this entry are courtesy of my little Nikon Coolpix S210 that was given to me by my sweet husband as an early birthday gift. Now I can take photos on the road without lugging around my SLR. Hooray!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

In the good ol' summertime.

Stripey shorts.

Well, it's finally here. Today we broke 90 degrees, and the temperature is supposed to stay pretty steady in the high eighties and nineties for the next several days. The air conditioner is ON.

Ode to a Push-up.

Summertime is a very good time for cool treats. This weekend, I got nostalgic for Push-ups. And wouldn't you know it - they don't carry them at our local Giant Eagle (It's a well know fact that they don't carry any product that I like at this store. And if they do, they will promptly discontinue it.). Never fear - we found them at Shop and Save.

I thought Lauren would be all over them. Sweet ice creamy treat contained in a colorful tube with an awesome gimmick. Unfortunately, she didn't care for them (Not chocolatey for her enough, I guess.), so I have the box to myself. She does like the push-up action, however, and always comes over and offers to push it up for me. How's that for luxury! Do you think Paris Hilton has someone who pushes up her Push-up for her? I think not.

Today is my girl Mel C's birthday. She spent the evening with us yesterday eating KFC, playing Wii and asking Twenty Questions. She always seems to come over on Wednesday nights. I think that it's part of her diabolical scheme to get me hooked on So You Think You Can Dance? but it's not going to work! RESIST! RESIST!

Tonight I just chased Lauren around the yard. I've been having a hard time getting good photos of her lately, but for some reason, I can always get a few nice ones when she's sitting up in the house part of the playset in our backyard(Someday, I'd like to make an album of the series). Mark was standing up on the patio teasing her. This is the look of a girl who loves her Daddy.

Seeing daddy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tuesday talk.


I thought I would do something unexpected and update on a weeknight. There's nothing to watch on TV, so why not?

Tonight, we had our first Wii related injury. I was playing tennis when just as I was going for the smash, Lauren wandered up beside me and got hit right smack in the forehead by the controller. She recuperated fairly quickly, so I don't think she suffered any permanent damage. I guess we'll have to see if she wakes up tomorrow with a cross pad shape embossed on her forehead.

Cow power.

This is one of Mark's latest purchases. He is very proud of it, because as package states, it is the very best you can buy. He hasn't used it yet, so I think he may be saving it for a special occasion (A new peach tree, perhaps?).

Wii injuries and manure. If only every day could be this exciting.