Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We had a great, if short, time at home--spent Christmas Eve with Todd's parents, Christmas Day with my family, and Boxing Day with my extended family. Monday we drove home, curious to see how much snow our house was blanketed in, since it had snowed all day Sunday along the East Coast. A little of it had melted by the time we got home, but there was still 6 or 8 inches left. Todd ended up with an extra day off, because NASA was closed Monday and Tuesday, so today he headed back to work and I started tackling the mountain of laundry that always seems to come from trips away, no matter how short they are.

The last three pages of my 2010 Christmas journal:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ho ho ho!

We're heading for Ohio today...hoping for safe travels and no bad weather. Since my ability and time for Internet is usually limited when I'm up there, I'll say it now: Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Christmas journal entry for the 20th is always about unexpected surprises, and I got a great one yesterday. Living in my little oblivious bubble, I didn't find out till yesterday morning that there was going to be a lunar eclipse last night. I drank some extra tea so I could stay awake and see it.

It was so cold out, I had to pop in and out through the whole thing, staying out for a few minutes, then going back in for ten or fifteen minutes, then running back out. I used Todd's binoculars, which definitely improved the experience, but I was wishing for a telescope, too!

The moon didn't turn as red in totality here as it did elsewhere in the world--I guess we don't have as much air pollution here, or volcanic ash, either, which I'd heard was also going to affect the color. To the naked eye, the moon looked brownish-red; with the binoculars, it looked gray with a pale turquoise edge. Just beautiful.

[The photo is not mine, it came from the NASA slideshow of the eclipse with pictures from all over the world.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More snow!

We're in the midst of a snowstorm this morning--the first I've ever seen in December in this area. We're supposed to get 3-5 inches of snow, which is almost unheard of. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and warmer, so we'll see how long this white stuff sticks around. It certainly is pretty. I love watching the snow fall, and it happens so seldom here, it really is a treat.

Todd's office is shutting down at noon so he'll be home soon. And I'm doing some laundry, cleaning the kitchen, and working on a few projects, including today's journal entry. Seems like a good day to stay warm inside and count your blessings.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Oh my gravy, is it cold here. I know it's nothing compared to the northern climes, but 30 degrees and a 25-mph wind is plenty cold for me! I went out shopping for hours yesterday (it was in the 20s yesterday) and got blown all over every parking lot in town. I also had to chase down a cart that blew out of the cart corral not once but twice before I just parked it on one of those mulched curbs with the little bushes.

I'm 95% done with my holiday shopping, just a few odds and ends left. But today I'm staying inside and keeping warm with other chores!

Today's journal entry is about holiday visiting, plus a random picture I didn't know what else to do with...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snowy snow.

We're actually getting a bit of snow here this morning, the tail end, I suppose, of what's been blowing through the Midwest this past weekend. It's very pretty but it's derailed my Christmas and grocery shopping plans for today. I'm paranoid about going out in any kind of bad weather right now, because we've had two collisions in two months and I don't want to tempt fate and have Allstate drop us like a hot potato!

Have I written about our collisions? Todd rear-ended someone on his way to work at the beginning of October while driving my car...and then rear-ended someone two weeks ago on his way to work while driving his car. My car was fixable, his was not. We spent about a week looking for a "new" (used) car and trying to figure out which of our cars we should try to replace: the primary (better) car that I drive or the secondary (worse) car that he drives? Usually when we replace a car, we replace the primary car, and the once-primary car moves to secondary status, and that's what we decided to do this time, too.

We found a 2002 VW Passat wagon a week ago for me to drive. We weren't planning to buy another VW (our other car is also a VW Passat wagon) but nothing we drove felt as solid and well-constructed as our Passat. So we just got another one.

All that is my long-winded way of saying that if the roads are the slightest bit hinky, I'm not going to be on them unless it's a life or death situation. Which so far it's not, although I may end up starving to death if I don't get some groceries soon!

My journal entry for today:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Friday, December 03, 2010

Julia's kitchen.

So we went to DC on Thanksgiving, and we took a tour at the Air and Space Museum, and saw the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art but this was my favorite thing.

We went to the American History Museum at the end of the day that day. I haven't been there since I was a teenager, but I don't remember it being such an oppressive place. The whole building feels like it should be filled with IRS pod-people pecking at computers, or guys in uniforms plotting a nuclear strike. The National Gallery is so lovely, and at the Air and Space Museum you walk right into a two-story gallery full of planes and rockets and space capsules...and at the American History museum, all there is to look at is stuff with boring captions in glass cases in dark tiny rooms.

Thank goodness they've hung onto the Julia Child exhibit, because it was the one of the few things I saw there that exuded any warmth, humanity or real historical interest.

I wasn't even especially interested in seeing Julia Child's kitchen, because it seemed like kind of a cliched thing to pay homage to her after Amy Adams did it so sappily in "Julie and Julia." But as with most things Julia, it just welcomes you right in and makes you smile.

They have a TV set up that plays an endless loop of Julia's cooking segments, from the 1960s through the 1990s, and it was surrounded by an appreciative crowd most of the time we were there.

It was oddly fascinating to peek at her kitchen and see what kinds of utensils she used, what kinds of magnets were on her fridge, what cookbooks were on her shelves. It's a very welcoming-looking kitchen; you can almost see all the people who must have cooked and eaten there over the years, moving around inside.

I don't really remember ever seeing Julia Child on TV--in my memory she was mostly just "that lady who talks funny"--but four or five years ago I read her book My Life in France and she became one of my heroes, which isn't a word I throw around lightly. She got excited about life and what it had to offer, and she was always eager to learn. I love that attitude.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

It's that time of year again, time for the Journal Your Christmas class. Here's my December 1 entry.

Here's the album, an 8x8" binder from Making Memories.

And here's the detail in the little window in the center:

I'm frankly amazed I found the energy to sit down and do this last night, because I am beat! Monday and Tuesday we moved everything out of the living room and dining room and I painted the living room. Yesterday the new carpet went in and we started moving things back in. I'm continuing to move things back in today. It sounds simple enough, but when you have nice new carpet, you want to make sure everything's dusted and clean before it goes back in, you want to sort through things and toss stuff you don't need or want--it's a lot of shuffling around.

Plus, I have about 8000 books in the living's where I had to stash them on Sunday!

It's ridiculous. I've been going through them as I put them back and getting rid of a few. Not enough, but every little bit helps. What can I say? I love my books! Except when I have to move them!

I am head over heels in love with my new carpet. The old carpet was, I believe, original to the house, which would make it 23 years old. It had the standard builder's grade pad underneath, about 1/4" thick. It was dirty, matted berber and it smelled like the previous owner's dogs whenever the weather was damp. We tried to have it cleaned a couple of times, but it never really helped. When the carpet guys pulled it up, you could see all these liquid stains on the subfloor...I don't even want to know what those were, although I can guess. Ick.

The new carpet is feathery soft under the feet, with a 1/2" thick water-resistant pad. It's sort of a mottled light brown, what the carpet people call a frise, I think, with lots of thin crinkly fibers. I am in love!

But I'm so pooped I have to keep resisting the urge to just lay down on it and fall asleep, like that baby in the commercial!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Garage sale finds.

Two weeks ago, when my father-in-law John and my brother-in-law Tony were visiting us for some fishing, we all piled into Tony's SUV on Saturday morning and ventured out in search of garage sales.

Luxuriating in the spacious leather back seat of an SUV while someone else drives (Tony) and someone else navigates (Todd) is truly the way to go garage saling. Plus, I had one of my best sale days ever.

I got all three of these recipe booklets for 25 cents. The one on the left was compiled by a local woman 15 years ago and has all her favorite family recipes in it. The Pillsbury Bake-Off booklet is falling apart and very well-used, and no wonder--there are a whole pile of mouth-watering recipes in it.

For $1.00, I got a Girl Scout manual from the late 1940s that has the cutest illustrations, and lots of useful information about knots and table settings and such things.

I got a big pile of vintage ornaments for about $3.00. They're not the fancy kind with images on them (those are my favorite) but they'll work very well as filler on my tree.

I also got a giant wicker basket that I'm wondering what to use it for now that I have it ($1.00) and a scanner. And I found an amp for my friend Matthew's new electric guitar.

But the best find was these chairs:

In this spot in our living room I have had two small Ikea armchairs with white duck slipcovers, which we've had for about 8 years. We've had small living rooms ever since we bought them and they've been perfect for each one.

But they were very boxy and plain, in true Ikea style. And visually, they took up a lot of space. So when I spotted these vintage yellow armchairs in the front yard at an estate sale, I snatched them up for $45 for the pair. Don't they look great? They're small and they fit into the room very nicely. They're not cushy, but they're comfortable. And the upholstery is in great shape. I'm just delighted with them, and my mother-in-law has laid claim to my old chairs, so everyone's happy.

Now if I can just figure out how to get Tony and John to come back down every couple weeks next spring to drive me around and bring me good luck again!

P.S. I think I came off sounding pathetic in my previous post, and that wasn't what I intended! We had the option of spending Thanksgiving with my brother three hours away, or we could have flown up to my husband's family get-together in Columbus. Running up to DC for a day at the museums just seemed more manageable (and affordable), and there was a Norman Rockwell exhibit I especially wanted to see. So we had a very nice day and a tasty meal (with no clean-up afterwards!) I just wish my family was a few minutes away instead of a bunch of hours.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hope everybody had a fun Thanksgiving! We weren't up for doing any major traveling this year, so we just made a run up to Washington D.C. and cruised through a few museums, and then ate Thanksgiving dinner at Old Country Buffet (we managed to get there right before the stuffing pan got cleaned out, so, whew! Crisis averted! It wouldn't have been pretty if I'd had to eat Thanksgiving dinner with no stuffing.)

My sister and I were talking on the phone today and realized that we both have high expectations of holidays, which often leads us to feel sad or let down. I was feeling sad on Wednesday hearing people talk about what they were going to cook, who was coming to their house, etc., knowing I'd be eating dinner in a restaurant. But most years it's just not feasible or desirable to sit in a car or on a plane for hours for every single major holiday. So Todd and I have spent more holidays alone than I would like.

My theory is that since my sister and I grew up with lots of extended family around, it just doesn't seem like a holiday to us unless there are a lot of people crammed into a house all talking at the same time and drinking coffee and playing games and teasing each other. When it's just you and your husband staring at each other across the table (or in my sister's case this year, her and her husband staring at each other while the kids played games on their phones) something feels wrong.

On the other hand, when you see people sitting and eating their restaurant turkey dinner absolutely alone--and she and I both saw people who were all alone--then you realize how much you have to be grateful for, even when things don't turn out exactly the way you pictured they would when you were a kid and thought every holiday would always be the same forever and ever.

Speaking of family, I ran across something today that took me back across the decades in a flash. April Winchell runs a site called Regretsy, which spotlights some of the worst arts and crafts from the crafters' sales site Etsy. She and her readers regularly make me snort or choke on whatever I'm drinking...they are seriously funny people.

April linked to her list of horrible holiday mp3s the other day and I just discovered a little gem on the list called "I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas" by a guy named Yogi Yorgesson, who was the alter ego of a comedian and radio personality named Harry Stewart in the 1940s and 50s.

When I was a kid, my grandpa Martin would make 8-track tapes for me and my siblings. Sometimes he would tape records for us, but other times I think he'd just tape whatever he found on the radio. I can't remember much of what was on the tapes, except for "I Yust Go Nuts" and some Italian song that I actually heard at an Italian restaurant a few months ago--the first time I'd heard it in 30+ years.

"I Yust Go Nuts" is like a brain worm, or it was for a kid who memorized a lot of random things, which I did whether I wanted to or not, because my brain just latched onto stuff. To this day, every now and then I'll think "And just at that moment someone slugs Uncle Ben" or "I step on a skate and fall over a tricycle."

If you listen to the song--and why wouldn't you want to listen to such a gem?--at the bit where he sings about stepping outside for a cold glass of beer, that's where Grandpa faded the song out and skipped over the part where the guy drinks eleven "Tom and Yerrys." So in my memory, the song goes "I think I'll step out for a cold glahh uhh bbb..." and then picks up again when the kids are jumping on his belly. I guess Grandpa didn't want us little kids to hear about some Swedish guy getting hammered on Christmas Eve, although he didn't have any problem with us hearing about the ensuing hangover on Christmas morning. What a funny little memory. Thanks for letting me hear the whole song, April!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More Florida.

Got the dining room--or most of it--done, whew! I'd share a picture, but no one would be able to tell a difference. Todd couldn't when he got home! All I did was cover that shiny finish with a slightly darker and non-shiny color. The color was originally Laura Ashley Pale Apple 2, and now it's Valspar Soothing Aloe. I used Benjamin Moore Aura paint, since it's got primer in it and can go over semi-gloss without having to treat it or sand it or anything else time-consuming. What fantastic paint! It goes on like butter!

Next week we'll move everything out of the living room and I'll re-paint three of the walls in a hurry before the carpet guys come on Wednesday. (The other wall was re-painted a year ago when Todd put in our new mantel.) By next weekend I hope to have some of the chaos in my home put back into place, but for now every room is a hot mess.

Here are a few more pictures from Florida:

It was so odd to see Christmas decorations and hear Christmas music while the palm trees blew in the balmy breezes! I guess to people who live there it's no big deal, but it was odd to this Northerner.

I stopped in at this shop my first day there and got a half-gallon of fresh-squeezed juice and a huge bag of locally grown oranges. I got through all of the juice and most of the oranges by the time we left!

This made me laugh. I had totally forgotten that "I Dream of Jeannie" took place in Cocoa Beach until my friend Bev asked if I was going to find Major Nelson down there!

All I had to do to get to the beach was walk out the back door of the hotel, past the pool and a few steps over a little boardwalk. It was fantastic; I spent a couple hours out there every day. This is the Cocoa Beach pier again.

The water was cold. And the air was none too warm most days, either. The temperatures were in the upper 70s to the lower 80s but it was extremely windy. I still hopped in the water every day but the last day, though. And then shivered till the sun could warm me up a little!

On our last morning there, we went to Downtown Disney for a couple of hours before heading to the airport. It's in the Disney World area, but you don't have to pay to get in, it's just a bunch of shops and restaurants. It was the perfect place to walk around and get some sunshine before sitting in a plane for a couple of hours.

They had a cool Lego store with lots of Lego creations.

Princesses outside the World of Disney store. Inside they had a boutique where little girls could pick out a princess costume and then get all fancied up with hair-dos and make-up. I got a kick out of seeing all the little princesses running around.

We spent some time here picking out the souvenirs I was too sleepy to buy when we were at Magic Kingdom at midnight Tuesday night! They had tons of pins of all the different characters and rides, that was my favorite thing.

I loved seeing poinsettias growing in pots throughout the area.

And then we took off for the airport. It was a nice week, and I'm glad that Todd wanted me to come along with him.

Now I'm going to work on some of this messy house.