Thursday, October 23, 2008

Aunt Who's? Old What? Salad Which?

I've been canning my own jams and salsas for about 14 years. Canning has become a lost art and a practice which is usually found in the heart of the Midwest. I'm not sure what got this born and raised OC/SoCal girl started on it, but it's what I do. I'd only ever made my canned goods for gifts or my own family's consumption until last year. I was looking for a way to help fund my then 8th grade daughter's school trip to DC, and my girlfriend suggested I sell some of my items at her school's fall boutique. I agreed knowing that what I didn't sell I would either give as gifts or we would eat. A win win situation and no real chance of financial loss.

One holiday season and four school boutiques later, I've become a canning mad woman. I wish you could see my kitchen (actually, I don't because it's a horrific disaster)! I have empty jars, filled jars, a canning pot, hot pads, food processor, labels, recipes and mess everywhere. I usually start my canning in the summer when the produce is abundant and the prices are low. My dilemma then comes with what to do with it all prior to selling time. I have found nooks and crannies all over the house and garage to store it. No one in my home knew just how much I'd canned until I pulled it out to inventory it this week.

I was instantly reminded of the "I Love Lucy" episode in which her friends rave about her homemade salad dressing and encourage her to sell it. She and her trusty friend Ethel find a way to advertise (a 1950's version of today's infomercials) on another friend's husband's TV network.

Their million dollar plan was an amazing success and they were frantically making salad dressing to meet the orders they received. Lucy had salad dressing stored everywhere in their New York apartment and delivered it on roller skates using newspaper delivery bags to hold it all.

I almost always sell out of my products and at yesterday's boutique, I actually had a woman ask me if I had a website or mail order catalog in case she needed to get more. My husband was thrilled and the wheels began to turn as he proposed an entrepreneurial plan for me to start a family business that could eventually be run by our two daughters. As flattering and exciting as that is, I could only chuckle and think more of the 'Lucy' episode.

Since Lucy's big plans never go as she would like them to, Ricky eventually discovered that they were actually losing 4 cents per jar! In a ploy to keep more orders from coming in and end their business venture, Lucy and Ethel went back on the air to un-sell their product.

Of course that hilarious infomercial brought in countless more orders for poor Lucy. I realize that is a TV show and not real life, but I can't even imagine what it would be like if I were to take on such an endeavor. Especially since, I had posted a note on Facebook about the boutique and had three people show up because of it. So, I guess I'll just keep canning and see where it takes me. Perhaps, like 'Aunt Martha' I've "had too many old-fashioneds".

Friday, October 3, 2008

It's Friday Night...Do You Know Where Your High Schoolers Are?

Mine will be at Day Zero and yours should be too!

This is a great place for teenagers to hang out on a Friday night and well worth the $10 cover. Drive your teens, bring their friends, pay their cover -- you'll be so glad you did!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

To Do List

With today being the first day of school, I was overwhelmed with the thought of what I would get accomplished without any of my 4 children at home. For the first time in 3 months I would have the opportunity to take care of the many areas of my home that have been neglected in the name of summer fun. However, once I arrived home I was at a standstill. I couldn't even clear my head enough to know where to start. I proceeded to carry a notepad and pen around with me in my first day of school stupor in hopes of putting together a plan. Here's what I was able to come up with:
  1. Order Quest Study Bible

  2. Figure out dinner

  3. Make next week's menu

  4. Update calendar for FHS

  5. Laundry :-P

  6. Clean the kitchen

That's as far as I got writing my list before I actually did this:

  1. Blog stalk

  2. Play Word Challenge on Facebook

  3. Eat a bowl of potato soup for lunch on my couch while channel surfing

  4. Slip into a mini couch coma

  5. Pick up my kids from school

Now I need to make the dinner that I didn't plan this morning. I guess I'll try again tomorrow. In the words of Scarlett O'Hara ..."After all, tomorrow is another day."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ready or Not...

The response is definitely NOT!!! I don't think I've ever been more NOT ready for school. Of course I'm prepared; we have the necessary school supplies, uniforms, shoes, physicals, etc. I'm just NOT ready for summer to be over.
I've tried to figure out how much more additional summer would finally have me feeling ready for my kids to go back to school and I don't believe I can quantify it. I just want more time to go to the beach, hang out by the pool, BBQ with friends, run out for ice cream, and pretty much just do whatever we want whenever we want.
I know that we'd probably get tired of that eventually. I'm sure there would even come a point when I'd end up screaming at the top of my lungs, "Get out of my house!!!", but I'd like to see how long it would take before I'd actually get there.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Blogging? No Way...It's VBS Week!!!

My head is filled with about 1000 stories from VBS and it's only Tuesday! I'm in charge of the crews in the 3rd grade lime green group, Kendall is an assistant leader in my group, RJ is in charge of recreation and Mitchell is just enjoying being a VBS attender in the 4th grade red group. I don't even have enough time or brain power to put the excitement of our Power Lab experience into words. are a few pictures to give you a feel for how the week is going so far.RJ getting Joy to say the Bible verse at the end of recreation on Monday.

Mitchell's red mohawk

I found this in front of Kendall's door after her 2nd day of working with a group of 3rd grade girls. PS -- She napped for 5-1/2 hours before I woke her up. I love when teenagers get exhausted for Jesus!

Monday, July 28, 2008

There Must Have Been Something In The Water

That water being from the lake, and that lake being Hume; which is where my two oldest were this past week at camp with their church youth group. What other explanation could there be for a 16 year old brother to volunteer to pose for a photo with his 14 year old sister?
Or...for that same 16 year old to come home with his hair cut like this:

(It's a little difficult to tell from the photo, but in between the shaved portion made to look like eyebrows and a mustache, are eyes and a mouth that read, "Hi Mom!" written in permanent marker)

My first inclination was to call the camp and suggest a water analysis of the aforementioned lake, meanwhile rushing my son to the ER for detoxification. However, after hearing all of the great stories that they both had to share about their week at camp, I knew that the only water that had any effect on them was the living water also known as Jesus Christ.

I am so thankful for the time they spent with friends, pastors, other volunteer staff and most importantly God. I am also thankful for my dear friend and hairdresser who was able to fix the haircut that came by means of a bowl, scissors, and a bunch of guys looking to gain extra spirit points during recreation!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mamma Mia!

Sunday afternoon I went to see Mamma Mia! The Movie and couldn't believe what I discovered; Matt Doan looks like Colin Firth! I have loved Colin Firth (in a movie star crush sort of way) since he was the wonderful Mr. Darcy in the TV mini series version of Pride and Prejudice. I have loved Matt Doan (in a thankful parent of a high schooler in his youth group sort of way) for the last 3 years. However, I have NEVER seen this resemblance before. For verification I immediately leaned over to my good friend Julia to share what I'd discovered. She gasped in agreement and couldn't believe that she'd never noticed it either. So, are we just a couple of 40-something-yr-old women who've completely lost it, or does anyone else see what we see?

Friday, July 18, 2008

I've never colored my hair

But it looks like I'm gonna have to start! My 16 yr old son, is on his first behind the wheel driving lesson as I'm writing this post. I thought I was OK with this and even though he wouldn't let me take a picture of him w/his instructor to forever remember this day, I was still OK. Then it happened...about an hour into his 2 hour lesson, my cell phone rang showing a number that I didn't recognize. I quickly checked the business card the instructor left and saw that it was his number. I took a deep breath and calmly answered the phone. It was RJ, "Hi Mom, I'm just checking to see if I'm available to take my next lesson on Aug. 1st?" I replied (hoping that he couldn't tell my heart was beating in my throat), "Yeah, that's fine, what time?" He told me the time and I hung up. OMG!!!! Could that not have waited 'til they returned? I was certain that the call was from the instructor letting me know that there had been some kind of horrible accident, or that my son wasn't trainable and that I'd have to come pick him up. Now I have to wait for another hour before he returns. All the while praying for calmness and that my good friend/hairdresser will be able to do something with the countless gray hairs I've just acquired.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Come Sail Away

The weather was perfect for the landsailer today in Punta Banda. We all took turns and had a blast. Below is RJ's video de la landsail that he filmed using his dad's Flip video camera. If you are prone to motion sickness, you may want to take some Dramamine. Since this gives a better view of RJ's feet than the landsailer itself, I will post photos of it along with other fun shots from our Punta Banda trip later. Now I need to get back to my lounge chair in the glorious sunshine.

I wanted to be Karen Carpenter

When we were eating dinner last night at Baja Mama's in Punta Banda, I had a flashback to a childhood dream. The owner/chef, a muu-muu wearing, tooth missing, elderly woman sauntered over to her boom box and began to play a cassette tape of a compilation of The Carpenter's Greatest Hits. I immediately began to sing along and knew all the words to each song. This would only come as a shock to anyone who didn't know that I wanted to be Karen Carpenter when I was a little girl.

My mom had their albums and they played constantly on our turntable during my lower elementary school years. One album even had pages of photos of the 70's drumming diva and her piano playing brother, which I'd study to try and replicate her poses. I thought she was beautiful and so talented. What young girl wouldn't want to be like her? I think my fascination began when my mom would hold me on her lap and sing along to Close To You -- "on the day that you were born the angels got together and decided to create a dream come true, so they sprinkled moon dust in your hair of gold and starlight in your eyes of blue." I have to confess that I thought the song had been written for me. What can I say, I was young and naive.

As I got older I was sad to learn of her battle with anorexia and couldn't understand how someone so beautiful could struggle with that. Clearly she couldn't see what I and so many others saw. I guess Rainy Days and Mondays really did get her down.

For the record (pun intended) I no longer want to be her, but it was fun to take a trip down memory lane. I know that this post really shows my age and many of you may never have heard of this superstar songstress. I'll gladly take the ridicule and maybe even add a few of her songs to my iPod when I want to remember what life was like Only Yesterday.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Flexibility Is The Key

What do 11 people in a cozy Mexican beach house do when the sun just won't come out?


Check out Laceyann & Mitchell (with a little help from their siblings in the leg department)

Laceyann has really gotten into her reading!

Mitchell has to work a little harder at having an attitude of flexibility!

It's great to have silly times with good friends -- with or without the sun!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

6 quirky things

After reading Erin's quirks and therefore being "tagged", I'm now listing six of my potential oddities. Of course, I'll feel much better if I find I'm not the only one who does these things. After all, there's safety in numbers.

1. I almost always snort when I laugh. (I don't think that needs further explanation, and most everyone knows that anyway.)

2. I am a syrup snob. Raised in a family of French Canadians from Vermont, the only syrup I'd ever experienced as a child was REAL maple syrup and therefore, it's the only kind I will eat. I won't eat anything that requires syrup at a restaurant or friend's house if they only serve fake syrup and the smell makes me nauseous.

3. I believe that bathing suits are just an extension of my wardrobe. No one likes to wear the same outfit day after day. Why should bathing suits be any different? However, I won't pay more than $30 for one. Which leads me to #4...

4. I am a bargain shopper (Marshall's, Ross, eBay, etc.) and refuse to pay full retail for anything unless I've been given a gift certificate and even then, it's incredibly difficult for me to do so. The MSRP for most items can be pulled from my brain at anytime. My life is a virtual "The Price is Right" and I intend to win the showcase.

5. When a song I love plays on the radio I get really excited. Even though it most likely exists on my ipod or a cd that I own and I can listen to it anytime I want. There's something about hearing it on the radio that makes it sound better.

6. I think that toilet paper should hang on the holder so that it rolls over the top of the roll, not from underneath. I not only use that rule of placement in my own home, but have been known to turn the roll over at other people's homes as I'm sure they don't care and probably place it on haphazardly. I justify that if they do care, they'll be thankful that I've shown them the light.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ice Cream Quiz

This is a fun and mindless quiz for a hot summer day. Enjoy!

I Am Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

You are kind, popular, and generous.

You tend to be successful at anything you try.

A social butterfly, you are great at entertaining a crowd.

You are most compatible with strawberry ice cream.

What Flavor Ice Cream Are You?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Look Ma, No Hands!

Per California law, I've gone hands-free today. Now I have a question...why is it that everyone else that I see with this headset seem to have it firmly attached? Mine flops and wiggles and falls off.
Any hints? Are my ears not standard issue?

Spa - aaah Day

It's been about 2 years since I've been to Burke Williams. My friend had received a gift certificate from her husband for Mother's Day and he in turn put me in charge of making sure she went. Thankfully, I had my own gift certificates (one of which I found when I cleaned off my desk ;)) so I was happy to take on this responsibility.

Yesterday was our spa day and we arrived at 9:30 am, and it was just as I had remembered it. Let the aaah-ing begin! Aaah, the fragrance of essential oils, soothing music, and welcoming staff; it was good to be back. Stepping into that world out of everyday life is my equivalent to what Alice must have experienced when she fell into that rabbit hole and found herself in Wonderland.

As the ever-so-courteous staff began to get us checked in for the day I realized that I had neglected to pack my bathing suit. Awww...(not the aaah I was looking for. This is more like 'Awww Mom, do I have to take out the trash?') no jacuzzi for me! Although this is a European spa and clothing is optional, I'm not nearly that much of an exhibitionist. Just then, the staff explained that their jacuzzi was currently out of service so they were offering each of us a complimentary private signature bath -- aaah.

Parading around in our cushy robes and squishy sandals, my friend and I enjoyed the steam room and sauna prior to our scheduled facials. We waited in the dim lit lounge with a large stone fireplace sipping the fruit enhanced spa water. Aaah -- it's good to be pampered.

My name was then called by a cute, young, blond gal who would be my aesthetician. She walked me back to the treatment room and began to explain the different types of facials and what might be good for my skin. She asked if there was anything in particular that I would like help with and I replied, "Can you wave a magic wand and make my wrinkles disappear?" She chuckled a little, and continued with her description of the nourishing facial. I agreed that this was probably the best choice for me and she replied, "It's my mom's favorite too". I thought, 'HOW OLD DO YOU THINK I AM?!?!' She had to have been at least 25 and equated me to her mother more than once. As far as I was concerned, we were done talking. She just needed to work her wonders on my face and shut up.

I think I made my point when she needed to step out for a minute and I told her that I'd probably be asleep when she got back. For 80 minutes I laid under the heated blankets with my hands dipped in paraffin inside terry cloth gloves as she cleansed my face and massaged my neck, shoulders and head. I let my thoughts wander and drifted off into my happy place while she used her Houdini-like moves to manipulate my body and remove sheets to reach my lower extremities without exposing me. Aaah - pure relaxation. I really must have fallen asleep since I startled and awakened myself with a little snore. (heehee)

When our facials were finished, they escorted us to our baths. Aaah -- there is something quite decadent about having a soothing mineral bath drawn for you. Not to mention the sliced oranges, glass of spa water and cucumbers placed on your eyelids. I'm glad that the jacuzzi was out of commission.

Using all of the spa's wonderful amenities, we got ourselves put back together and readied ourselves for the real world. The sun was so shockingly bright when we opened the door it almost made our 4 hour experience feel as though we'd just walked out of a dream. Aaah -- but what a glorious dream it was. Thanks Baeba!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Strong Walker

The other morning, my friend and I were walking the hills of Cowan Heights and Peter's Canyon. As we were striding our way up a particularly steep hill we saw a woman out with her dog. Before we had a chance to acknowledge her, she remarked, "WOW, you are strong walkers." Between breaths we sputtered some form of response that made little or no sense. The type you wish you could go back and do again, but realize it really doesn't matter.

Her comment has continued to resonate in my head. I find it interesting that this woman had so quickly surmised what I was. I have walked and completed approximately 10 half-marathons in the last couple of years and have had difficulty defining my form of walking to those who’ve inquired. I know that I am a fast walker. I am possibly a power walker. I am NOT a race walker as indicated in the video below.

I like the term strong walker. I’d like to see myself defined that way not only physically, but spiritually. I have been a believer and follower of Christ for about 25 years. Trials come and go and at times it’s down right hard to persevere. Through it all, my faith remains strong. My desire is that the strength of my spiritual walk would be as apparent to others as my physical walk.

I LOVE my walking hobby. The opportunity to explore miles of God’s creation; the physical exhilaration, and sense of accomplishment when I’ve completed a race are phenomenal. However, the part I am most thankful for is sharing it with a group of women who are all strong walkers; physically and spiritually.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Jelly Fish!!!

My oldest son was meeting friends at Newport Beach today, so I decided to take the rest of the gang for lunch while we were down there. After scouring my Entertainment Book for a lunchtime deal, we ended up at Woody's Wharf.

We sat in the outside patio area which is actually kind of inside as it is covered with a tarp and has Plexiglas sides. Sitting dockside, we were loving our view of Newport Bay and enjoyed watching the boats go by. Almost simultaneously, Mack and I noticed that there were several jelly fish floating about in the waters below us. We couldn't believe it! I'm not kidding, if there was one, there were twenty. They were all different sizes, but looked just like the ones pictured above. I really wished that we'd had a camera with us, although I'm not sure they would've photographed well.

We were fascinated watching them and could have done so for hours. We realized that we'd seen plenty of jelly fish at aquariums or washed up on the shore, but never actually swimming in the ocean. Our vantage point was incredible and we continued to watch them throughout our entire lunch, which BTW was outstanding.

My kids and I were so thankful to have witnessed that part of God's creation. I mean, who would think that something that requires you to urinate on yourself when stung would be so amazingly beautiful and graceful!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Uncrustables and more

Smucker's really knew what they were doing when they decided to market pb&j without crusts. My kids LOVE Uncrustabales! However, I can't get over paying $3 a box for 6 frozen sandwiches. Especially since my teenage son could probably eat a box by himself. So, being the resourceful gal I am, I make my own.
I'm not sure where the fit of domesticity came from yesterday, but I decided to pull out a loaf of bread (purchased for $1 on the day old rack) and make a batch of my Uncrustables. As much as I don't get excited about these little morsels, I know that they are great to throw into the cooler bag and take to the beach which we do most Thursdays in the summer. The beauty of making my own is that I can even make a few jelly only sandwiches which satisfy my youngest who detests peanut butter. That's a feature that the folks at Smucker's don't offer.
Now that my 12 individually wrapped sandwiches were bagged and in the freezer I was faced with what to do with the remaining crusts. Personally, I don't much care for crust and have never understood why there is so much emphasis put on eating it. As a child I fell for the "it will give you curly hair" line. I obediently ate my crusts and my hair is still stick straight! Nonetheless, I couldn't just throw them away. So, I purposed them for Thursday's breakfast.
In the past, I have used them for an egg strada dish with sausage, mushrooms & cheese. However, I was feeling creative and thought I'd try something new. I had just introduced my children to the amazing Monte Cristo sandwich this past Sunday. Something I'd never actually made before, but would choose above anything else on a breakfast menu if it's there. So I proceeded to put together my own Monte Cristo casserole. Using the same technique for my original strada recipe; I layered the pieces of bread crusts sprinkled with cinnamon, slices of deli ham, strawberry jam, Swiss cheese & more bread crusts. I mixed up eggs, milk, vanilla & more cinnamon and poured it over the entire casserole.
Prior to walking this morning, I pulled it out of the fridge and put it in the oven on timed bake. It was ready to be sprinkled with powder sugar and served just after I'd gotten done showering. I have to say that my experiment turned out quite well. Even my non-breakfast eating teenage daughter went back for seconds!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

To blog, or not to blog...

That is the question! My apologies to Bill Shakespeare, if he could roll over in his grave right now I'm sure he would after that brutal misuse of classic literature.

Blogging has been a growing sport for a couple of years now. I remember when the high school group of our church announced their new blog and my then freshman son said, "Yeah, I don't get it." "Why would we blog if we can IM or text?" I've recently heard someone call it MySpace for grown-ups. I've perused a couple of friends' blogs over the last year, but never thought it was for me. After all, who has time for that? And even if I did, why would anybody be interested in my ramblings?

As of late, I've had a couple of my walking friends join the blogging world. They are completely hooked and certain that I need to join in. Couldn't we just go on a longer walk? For one of my friends I think blogging is the equivalent to scrap booking. She's able to show off the latest photos of her adorable new baby and keep everyone up to date on the happenings in their household. Four incomplete scrapbooks sit in a basket by my fireplace (where was blogging when my kids were infants?)

Due to their blogging and talks of blogging, my curiosity has been peaked and I've begun checking out theirs and others blogs pretty frequently. Each time I'm reading blogs my kids will say, "Mom, you should start a blog". Not convinced, I reply, "What would I blog about?" My oldest proclaims loudly, "Oh, I know what you'd blog about and I think you do too!" I might know what he's referring to, but I guess we'll just have to see.

So, all of that to say, that I guess I'm going to try this. Still don't know if I have the time, but since I've had to put a moratorium on my eBay shopping, maybe this will be a good replacement.