Wednesday, December 31, 2008

For Your New Year's Eve-rtainment

Top 10 words that sound funny with a Minnesota accent

Yes, my blog-darlings. I'm spending New Year's Eve doing what I do pretty much every days' Eve...surfing the 'net, watching mindless TV, reading a book and whatever else for the moment.

Mensa Boy is deadlining tonight. He said he was going to go to bed early tonight...10 o'clock...because he needs to go in tomorrow. But it's 8:40 already and he isn't even home yet, so I have no idea if he's going to make the 10 p.m. bedtime or not.

I'm actually quite good with this. We aren't into parties anyway.

Today I found out the results of my 2008 NY resolution. I resolved a year ago to not salt my food until I'd eaten half of it. If it still "needed" salt, I'd do it then. Unless it was something like fries. Fries have to be salted upfront. At the time I decided that, my blood pressure was 120/70. Good. Always had been. I just decided to go salt-less because my friend Sarah pretty much never salts her food and I wanted to be just like her! Actually, no. But it seemed like a good idea. So every time I went to the doctor, which is about 3 or 4 times each year, my bp got a little lower and a little lower. Today it was a whopping 96/68! HOLY BUCKETS! Oh. And I don't miss the salt at all, either.

For this next year I plan to stop chewing those hardened little edges of skin next to my fingernails. I don't do it a lot...I mean people don't have to worry about shaking my hand or anything...but I still do it and I have raggedy cuticles as a result. So I've decided, when I notice myself wanting to chew on those? I'm going to put cuticle cream on them. I've put little pots and tubes of cream around and we'll see how it goes. I'll probably develop this fetish for that stuff then! I'll be excusing myself from conversations to go hide in a corner somewhere so I can dip into the cuticle cream tin. I'll get all nervous when the cream starts to run low...wondering if I can make it til the next paycheck when I can afford to go buy more...maybe I should re-think this.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Pink Bush Rose

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I took this with my faithful D40 on September 30 in my neighbor Mary's back yard. It was a horribly dark photo...severely underexposed and grainy (noisy) looking.

For the past few days my photographic mentor, Greg Schneider, has been helping me with some Photoshop techniques for another project I've been working on. The main thing he's taught me is how to select an area in a photo and highlight just that. Basically, draw a circle around that part and bring the lights up a bit. The hardest part has been learning how to use the selection tool to make the selection. After that? Piece of cake.

I don't know if this brings this photo into any sort of higher-quality range or not, but I like it, and I guess that's what really matters, isn't it? (Ah...just got an email back. He likes the photo but thinks the background is still too dark for his taste. I can tell he's going to do something else. And that's why he's the MENTOR and I'm the MENTEE!)

Today I went to the 5:45 a.m. Jazzercise class. It was odd getting out of class and having it still be dark out, but it was a great way to start the day. After that I ran home for a shower and some more desk work, and then up to have a massage and do some errands. A nap in the afternoon and starting in a new book followed that. So it's been a great day. But I'm a little tired. And the stiffness is starting to kick in. Time for a nice hot soak in Epsom Salts.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Epic Touchdown Celebrations

Two Tone Spritz

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
For all my whining about these stupid cookies, I did have this little accident with them that turned out somewhat pleasant. I had gotten through the green dough, which I used for the Christmas trees, and there is always some in the press that just doesn't come out. I colored the next batch red to do these whatever-they-are (poinsettias maybe?) when I got down to the last dozen or so of those, I got this result.

For the last few, I pulled the dough out of the press, made snakes and then shaped them into initials for Mensa Boy, Nate, Taylor and Erin.

So the annual Spritz ordeal is over. And the cookies taste okay, despite the fact that I had to flavor them with almond extract when I ran out of vanilla.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Instrument of Torture

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I don't know why I do this every year. Actually, I do. My husband loves Spritz cookies. I call them "the damn spritz." I always remember that they are his favorite cookies. Then after I make them, swearing (internally) like a sailor, I find out his favorite cookie is Melting Moments. You'd think after 26 years...sheesh!
The Melting Moments are much easier to make, too.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Mystery Hill

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
My guys can never resist places like this. They are absolutely terrible about tourist traps. When they saw this place outside Boone, it immediately took them back to The Cosmos in the Black Hills. They just HAD to see it. I thought I had an "out."
"I'll just stay in the car with the dog," I volunteered.
A few minutes later they trooped out to announce that the dog was welcome too. Sheesh!

We did this on the 23rd and it was the only time my camera left its' bag the entire time. Nate's girlfriend Erin shot this for us.

This morning I got up bright and early and hit the 8:15 Jazzercise class in Fort Mill. It's wonderful to go there. The floor is so good on my knees and feet. After class we went to breakfast and then I stopped at another friend's house to chat for a few minutes. The rest of the day was spent hanging around and teaching Bear a new trick. I will not tell you about it until I have accomplished everything I want to do with it. So if it all doesn't work out, you may never know!

We had our Christmas dinner tonight. Roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy and corn. Buddy Sarah kept talking about chicken tetrazzini while she was teaching this morning, so I think I'll make the turkey version on Sunday.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Recap

Merry Christmas to everyone!

We got back about an hour ago from Boone, NC, where we stayed in this fantastic cabin on the outskirts of town.

The cabin was well-appointed, complete with washer and dryer, dishwasher, gas fireplace and Christmas tree. Our little live pine that we bought to take with us was still pressed into service. We put it up on a table and strung it with little tiny lights and a put a few shiny bulbs on it.

Yes, there was a hot tub, but not on the porch. It was about 500 yards from our door in a gazebo. No, we did not use it. The weather was fairly atrocious most of the time we were there. Windy, rainy, very cold at night, very warm during the day. Today probably would have been the best day. The sun was out, it was dry and the temps were in the 40s and got up to the high 60s before we left. It's 70 here now.

We planned to do some hiking but the weather was not really in our favor. By the time we decided on a place to go on Tuesday, we were pretty much tired and cold. Yesterday it was just plain rainy and, while we had warm weather gear, we did not have wet gear. So we went to Mast General Store and then bummed around Boone and ate a Japanese Steak house for lunch.

We spent a lot of time at the cabin just chilling and watching movies. I worked a jigsaw puzzle, took naps and read my book. Yesterday we opened gifts. My biggest surprise was the Wii Fit, which I had asked for. But all the time I had it on my list I was concerned about the expense. Mensa Boy and bff Cassie solved that. She sold hers to him. So I got a nice Wii Fit without having to lay out the expense of a new one. And the surprise factor was that they'd even done that transaction. She'd told me she had sold it to a guy at work! (Her ability to lie right to my face is downright spooky.)

Everyone seems happy with their gifts. Taylor got an airsoft gun from us, which we didn't want to buy. But my principal friend told me to do it. "Just get over your anti-gun thing," she advised. And so as he runs around outside with Freddy shooting, Mensa Boy just keeps shaking his head and saying, "Our kid is playing outside. With guns." My don't we change through the years?

So that's my brief recap. I'll try to be more diligent about writing now that the holiday prep is over. I have until the 5th before I go back to school.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm loving it

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
This new camera is turning me into a hero. (ok. In my mind)
This was my first shoot-out with it in a school gym. I love my D40? But this new camera is all over the low-light situations.

These are two students from Mensa Boy's youth group. Haley is in the foreground, David in the background.

It's been a busy week and now tomorrow I'm taking the day off. I'm going to do some baking in the morning and shopping in the afternoon. I hope I don't lose my will to shop. It's raining like mad now and cats & dogs are going to start overnight. The Columbia paper said, "just don't make any plans until Friday." hmmm...
And it's a HOT rain! It was in the 60s today. When the weather is like that you just feel like you're in a swamp.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Name this One. Huh?

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Here's another flower that needs some naming. I also shot this at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. I tell you, if it weren't so darn far away, I'd buy a membership to that place and go often just to shoot!

It's report card time at the school, which is always stressful in our office. For three days I live, eat and breathe report cards. Actually, maybe not EAT, although I'm sure some students wish I ate theirs instead of sending them in the mail home to their parents. Today I didn't actually eat anything...even skipped lunch. But no worries. I more than made up for it with one of those giant Greek salads from Showmars. With a chicken breast on top. And because I'm migraining this week, I also craved some starch so Mensa Boy picked up a load of fries for me. Needless to say, I could just about *POP!* right now.

So. Okay internet. Name this flower. There are no prizes, I'm sorry to say. Just a hearty thank you! And tomorrow being Friday, I'll tip a glass of wine to you cyber-style as well...*clink!*

append: Well internet? My buddy Eugene has correctly labeled this one the Golden Shrimp Plant. Here is a link to photos of it on Dave's Garden. Thanks Eugene! I'll go pour that glass of wine now!


No Photo and No Real Thoughts

This is a guilt entry. I haven't been writing as much as I used to and I'd like to get back to it. But you know? Sometimes you get caught up in the day-to-day stuff and then the next thing you know it's time to go to bed again.

But. The other day I decided to stop drinking wine on weeknights. I enjoy a glass of wine each day. Just one glass. And not a very large one. But it was making me tired. When I come home and sit down with a glass of wine and a little blue cheese and pretzel crackers, I wind down just a little too much. Then I have a hard time getting going again for the evening. I was ending up not really getting anything done 5 nights each week.

And really that was ok. I haven't been behind on anything. Everything still got done. But I want to a little productive in the evening.

And it's working pretty well. I spent Monday cleaning off my backup hard drive. All I have left on there are photos now. Everything else was burned to a DVD, which I'll put somewhere for safe-keeping. Now I need to begin the task of going through my photos and sifting out the good one. Those I'll keep on my computer and the rest I'll burn to DVDs and stash somewhere. Sort of a virtual closet-cleaning.

What are you cleaning out these days?


Monday, December 01, 2008

I Don't Know

I don't know what this plant is. I shot it at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden on Friday. It was in the orchid conservatory there. I wanted to go there specifically to play with my new camera. I didn't get really any GREAT SHOTS, but this flower did intrigue me and turned out reasonably well.

Today is a sad day for many of my friends. One of the ladies we used to jazzercise with found her teenaged daughter this morning. The daughter had committed suicide overnight in her room. Pray for Mary McClane and her family, will you? And give an extra hug to your kids.