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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Closed Door Policy

What is your household expectation regarding closed doors? When I come across a closed door, I assume there is a person on the other side seeking privacy. When Blondie sees a closed door, though, he assumes there's something interesting happening on the other side and he wants to investigate. We disagree about what a closed door means. I knock, Blondie barges. According to Blondie, if you want privacy, you have to lock the door.

Last night I needed to do some last minute Christmas shopping, so I went in the computer room and closed the door to browse Amazon. Blondie was working on the floor in our bedroom, so I didn't think I would be interrupted. I was right in the middle of my shopping when Blondie barged in. I felt like a teenage boy caught with a naughty magazine! I tried to close my browser quickly, but it was too late.

There is no lock on our computer room door, and I probably wouldn't have locked it anyway. I just assume people know you're not supposed to fling open a closed door. Does it matter which room? Would you enter a bathroom if the door was closed? When I leave the bathroom I always leave the door open as a signal that the facilities are available. When I see a bathroom door closed, I assume someone is in there. Blondie often leaves the door closed...and the fan on.

Now Blondie understands why you should knock before entering. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." For everyone who barges through closed doors gets no surprises for Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Decorations

I usually try to get my Christmas decorations up during Thanksgiving weekend because I always have a Christmas Cookie Exchange the first week of December. That didn't happen this year, but I did get everything done in time! Most of my decorations are concentrated in the dining room. That's the only place where we really have space for the Christmas tree:





This table used to be behind the sofa in the living room, but we've rearranged and this is where it ended up. The table runner was a wedding gift from one of Blondie's relatives and I've collected the crystal candlesticks over the years. The little basket holds all of our Christmas cards. Eventually I'll go through those and put the photo cards on the refrigerator!



I have two wreaths like this that stay up all year. This year I added these burgandy bows and glass balls for a little Christmas cheer. Of course, when I tried to put on the first glass ball, I dropped it and had to clean up a little mess before I could continue with my decorating.



Here's a close up of some of our Christmas ornaments. You can see Obi-Wan Kenobe and Darth Vader from Star Wars at the top right, and the crew from Star Trek beneath them. Near the top center is an ornament the Julie made for me last year. She and C. cut little cross sections of wood and burned our initials into the wood and added a sprig of berries and twine. They're very cute!



Blondie is partial to the science fiction theme, but Snoopy is my character of choice. Here's my collection of Peanuts ornaments:



We don't have a chimney, so our stockings are hung on the china cabinet with care. The two center stockings match the table runner on the sofa table, and the two on the outside are just extra stockings I have. My stocking is already full, but I haven't peeked!



I'm linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick's Christmas Tree Party:



And The Nester's Christmas Tour of Homes:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap

Making your own laundry detergent is a great way to save money, and it's very easy to do. I made a batch recently and this time I documented it for the blog. I use Gayle's recipe from The Grocery Cart Challenge, but I modify the procedure just a little bit.

You can find all of the ingredients you will need at most grocery stores in the laundry aisle. I bought all of my ingredients at the same time and paid less than $10 for everything and there's more than enough ingredients to make several batches of soap.

To make your own soap, you will need:
1/3 bar of Fels Naptha Soap
1/2 cup Borax Powder
1/2 cup Washing Soda
25 cups of water
a large bucket

First, grate 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha Soap. Like Gayle, I use my food processor to speed up the process. The first time I did this, I thought to myself, "I wonder if it's a good idea to use my kitchen utensils for this?" Then I came to my senses and decided that it's soap, what is it going to hurt? The grated soap looks a lot like grated cheese:






While I'm grating the soap, I heat 6 cups of water. When the water is boiling, I add the grated soap and let it melt.




After the soap has melted, I add 1/2 cup of Borax. Borax removes stains and neutralizes odors, and if you have hard water, it will soften the water.




I also add 1/2 cup of washing soda. Not baking soda! The boxes look similar, but the products are different! Washing soda cleans grease and other stains.




Stir the powders until everything dissolves:




At this point, I added 4 cups of water to dilute the mixture even further. Gayle pours the water into the bucket and then adds the soap mixture to that. You could do it either way.




When the mixture looks consistent, I pour it into a large bucket. My mop bucket works perfectly for this. Then, I add about 15 cups of water and stir it up.




I let it set all day and by evening it kind of looks like a jellyfish. The mixture congeals and separates from the water. This is normal. I like my soap to be smoother, so I at this point I thoroughly mix it with my immersion blender. If you don't have one of those, just stir it.




The next morning I mix it with my immersion blender again, and it ends up looking like this. Using a funnel, I transfer most of the mixture into my old laundry detergent jug, and store the rest in an ice cream tub.




The mixture still tends to jell after sitting for a few days, so I shake the jug really well before pouring into the detergent dispenser of my washing machine. Some people say that the soap clumps clog their dispenser, but I have found that if you shake it well before pouring, it never causes a problem.

Each load of laundry takes about 1/2 cup of detergent, which happens to be exactly how much the cap of my old detergent bottle holds. This soap is great for front loading washing machines because it doesn't create a lot of suds and it is great for people with sensitive skin because it doesn't have any additional dyes or fragrances. If you wanted a particular scent, you could add your favorite essential oil, but I like the way it smells on its own.

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's A...

BOY!



We're going to have a new addition to our little family. Blondie and I are expecting a baby boy this spring. The official due date is February 29, but we'll see when he decides to arrive.





Blondie has been working on preparing his room. He's going to have newly refinished floors and freshly painted walls. Blondie has been petitioning for a recliner for a while now, so we decided this was a good reason to get one. We have rearranged our living room to accommodate the baby's recliner, but Blondie is enjoying it for now.







I have been feeling really well and haven't experienced any of the usual unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy. I never had any morning sickness and haven't had any heartburn so far. I was really tired for most of the first trimester, but Blondie was great about helping out around the house and letting me rest.








We're very excited about this little guy. He's going to be the first grandchild on either side of the family, so there's no doubt that he'll be a little spoiled. Judging from all of the gifts he has already received, I think his grandparents and aunts and uncles are a little excited too.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Haters

I'm very disappointed about Halloween this year. The community where Blondie and I live has effectively banned trick-or-treating. I did not have one trick-or-treater last night.

Some local Halloween haters "officially" changed the trick-or-treat night in our town to Oct. 30, and then immediately discouraged people from trick-or-treating at all. Instead of going trick-or-treating on the "official" trick-or-treat night, local families were encouraged to attend an event co-sponsored by the town and church where costume options were limited to a western theme.

I think it's completely fine for any church to have a Hallelujah Festival, especially on a Sunday evening, but was it really necessary to move Halloween and then have the cowboy contest on the same night?


I do understand the risk of allowing young children to trick-or-treat in places where parents don't know the neighbors and are unsure of their children's safety after dark. However, if children are old enough to walk around town alone after dark, they're probably too old to be trick-or-treating. One special thing about Halloween when I was growing up is that my dad always took us, and we didn't go to houses where we didn't know the residents. What responsible parent allows their child to trick-or-treat alone anyway? Most of the youngsters who come to my door on Halloween a.) know me, b.) arrive before dark, and c.) are accompanied by their parents. This is not a community where trick-or-treating is dangerous.


As for the shenanigans that are supposedly prevented by church sanctioned Halloween events, do you really think that's an effective way to prevent vandalism? No teenager is going to bring out the toilet paper and shaving cream until after sundown. The kids who cause trouble after dark on Halloween may go to the citywide celebration, but I would bet a dollar that the costume contest was over before dark and there was still plenty of time to cause a little mischief before curfew. And for the most part, it's just that: mischief. No, I wouldn't knowingly allow my teenager to participate and I was too much of a goody-two-shoes to do it when I was that age, but is it really hurting anyone? Doubtful. The actual juvenile delinquents aren't going to deterred by a citywide Halloween diversion.


With the recent closure of the public school in our community, the church has become increasingly involved with community activities, so I do think there were good intentions behind this event. I just think the approach is ineffective. Activities co-sponsored by the town and the church are intended to make people feel welcome, but I think it makes people who are not part of this particular church feel even more separate.


Halloween doesn't have to be evil or sinister. It's nothing more than a fun time for kids (and maybe some adults) to dress up in silly costumes and solicit their neighbors for free candy. If you don't like Halloween, leave your porch light off. But please don't cancel Halloween for the rest of us!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

San Diego Vacation

Blondie and I had a wonderful vacation in California over Labor Day weekend. I was scheduled to attend a conference in San Diego that week, and since Blondie was out of school for Labor Day, he came along and spent the weekend with me.



We had a great time. We arrived on Friday and explored Little Italy and the Gaslamp Quarter. We were pretty hungry by the time we arrived, so the first thing we did was look for a place to eat lunch. Filippi's Pizza Grotto was recommended by our shuttle driver, so we decided to try it.

On Saturday, we spent the morning browsing the Little Italy Farmers Market. Blondie bought all kinds of fruit. Oklahoma has been so dry this year that we haven't had good fresh produce in a long time. Blondie got three different types of raspberries, white peaches, and nectarines. We also tried fresh lemonade, granola, jam, and a very interesting organic vegetable smoothie.



After the Farmers Market, we had quite an adventure finding Trader Joe's. Blondie fell in love with Trader Joe's in San Francisco, so we made sure to find one in San Diego. We had to take two buses and walk several blocks, but we finally found it. Most people there were just doing their regular grocery shopping, but we were in the market for snacks. They have the best snacks! Blondie wanted trail mix, so we got three kinds. We also got some chocolate covered, peanut butter filled pretzels and chocolate covered dried cherries. Yum!



We went back to the farmers market for lunch and each got a different type of panini. They were cut in half, so we each got half of both kinds. Later we visited the Festival of Sail and saw a pirate with a pet rat, then we went to eat dinner at The Fish Market and saw the USS Midway.





We went to the San Diego Zoo on Sunday. The San Diego Zoo is slightly smaller than the Oklahoma City Zoo, but has twice as many animals. The San Diego Zoo did not live up to the hype. The zoo has been around a while, so some of the exhibits look dated. Admission to the San Diego Zoo costs $40 for adults, which includes access to the buses and gondolas. Admission to the Oklahoma City Zoo costs $8. We spent the morning walking the trails and seeing as many animals as we could. Then, in the afternoon, we rode the tour bus. We were thankful for a break because of the hilly terrain. One thing the San Diego Zoo has that the Oklahoma City Zoo doesn't is a polar bear exhibit. However, the Oklahoma City Zoo's elephant exhibit far outshines San Diego's.





Blondie and I went to Coronado Island on Monday to see my co-worker who was in town for the same conference. She was checking an item off her bucket list by staying at the historic hotel. We enjoyed a nice stroll through the beautiful neighborhoods and a barefoot walk on the beach before we met up with her for lunch.









Blondie came home on Tuesday, so we checked out of the Hampton Inn and I went over to the Hyatt, where my conference was being held. We really enjoyed staying at the Hampton Inn. The hotel staff was extra friendly and accommodating, we love their hot breakfast every morning, and it was within walking distance of lots of great attractions.

We had heard some complaints about noise from the train disturbing guests' sleep, so I called ahead and requested a room on the opposite side of the building. The train didn't bother us at all, and we were thrilled to be so close to the Little Italy stop because the public transportation was very convenient for getting around town.

The view from our room:



I wasn't as impressed with the accommodations at the Hyatt. It was fine, but much more expensive and my room wasn't nearly as nice. The Hampton Inn offers free Internet access, a full breakfast, and a shuttle to and from the airport, the conference center, and the zoo.

On Tuesday after Blondie left, my coworker and I visited the Naval Exchange at the US Pacific Fleet Naval Base. My conference started on Wednesday, so the tourism pretty much came to an end, although I did return to Coronado Island with another coworker on Wednesday for an evening stroll on the beach.



I did get to experience the adventure of a California blackout on Thursday afternoon. The electricity went out during one of my conference sessions, and we soon learned that it was a citywide blackout. Then we heard that it was the whole county. Then they announced that it was several states. Some people were concerned that the power might not return for several days, but there was no mass panic. Most of the neighborhood stores and restaurants were closed because they didn't have power, but I did get a cold sandwich at the hotel restaurant for dinner. Fortunately, the power did return at midnight and the water came on just a little later, but it could have been a huge pain if the power outage had lasted longer. I am so glad it was Thursday night and not Friday because my flight on Saturday probably would have been delayed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Carpooling

Since school started, Blondie and I have been carpooling to work on the days when I don't have to travel for work. We estimate that this saves us about $30 per week, which adds up to over $1,000 if we carpool for the 9 months he is in school.

The downside: I have to get up an hour earlier than I am used to. Ugh. I am not a morning person. I'm sure glad he drives, because I'm still half asleep when we leave in the mornings. Also, this means I normally don't leave the office all day (I bring my lunch), which makes for a very long 10 hours. However, the upside to that is getting to leave work early on some days. Blondie does tutoring after school two days a week, so he gets to my office at about 5:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, on the days when he leaves at 3:30, we get home by 4:15.

Today I realized another downside of this arrangement. Classes started at the university today and I'm teaching two sections of computers and information access. Since my first class is at 8:00, if I were driving myself I would just arrive at 7:30 and park by the building where my classroom is, then drive to my office after class. This morning I had to walk all the way across campus in high heels, carrying all of my materials for class. I know a lot of people do that every day, but I'm not used to it. I will definitely wear more sensible shoes next week.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?

I've let almost a whole month go by without updating the ol' blog. That must mean nothing is going on in our lives, right? Not so much.

I've been extra busy at work because my boss got a promotion and has been reducing his client load, which means my client load has been increasing.

We had a big 4th of July cookout at my parents' house, minus fireworks because of the burn ban. We desperately need rain.

We've attended a couple weddings.

Blondie has been remodeling one of our bedrooms. He has stripped the wood floor, removed wallpaper, and scraped the popcorn from the ceiling. Next, he will texture and paint the walls and refinish the floor.

We're still waiting on our new oven. We ordered a new one and it didn't arrive when it was supposed to. Blondie called the company and they were so sorry, but they've been having trouble with their shipping company. It's supposed to arrive today. We'll see. After the stove arrives, we have to get a carpenter to modify the cabinetry and a plumber to install the gas line.

I made homemade laundry soap and homemade strawberry jam. But my house is a mess. So my homemaker status is neutral. I was very pleased with both of my creations. The soap smells so good and it's super cheap! The jam wasn't so cheap, but it's pretty tasty. No one around here has been able to produce any fresh fruit to speak of, so I used strawberries from the store. Blondie's grandma usually has delicious peaches, but not this year because of the drought.

And last, but not least, our best friends/relatives/neighbors moved out of state. It makes us sad to see them go, but it was a great opportunity for them. Art and Blondie are not only cousins, but have been best friends their entire lives and they lived around the corner from us. Since we spent so much time together, Carina has naturally become my best friend as well. I will miss her spontaneous invitations to get together for lunch at the Chinese restaurant where they know what we want to drink without even asking, lively conversations at Sunday dinner, and last minute plans to get together for leftovers when the fridge is overflowing. Having a neighbor who is also your relative and best friend is just about as good as it gets.

That pretty much sums it up. I'm sure I left some things out, but those are the highlights. What have you been up to this summer?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pawn Shop Purchases

Today I was checking our bank statement and noticed a transaction at our local pawn shop. I, personally, am not a fan of pawn shopping, but Blondie finds it thrilling. I have issues with germs and grime, so pawn shops aren't my ideal shopping environment. Wherever we go, if we have time to kill and run across a pawn shop he wants to stop and browse. I've never actually seen him purchase anything at a pawn shop, but I know he has.

As I was perusing our bank statement today, I thought it was a pretty safe bet that Blondie had bought something he didn't tell me about. It was only $30, and I spend $30 without telling him all the time, so it really wasn't a big deal. However, I don't want some stranger spending our $30 at the pawn shop. I decided it was prudent to call Blondie about this transaction.

I caught him at the best possible time. He had just gotten in the shower when the phone rang, so when he answered, he was dripping all over the floor which means he was making a little mess. I casually asked about the pawn shop purchase and he immediately said, "I knew I should have paid cash!" Blondie was the culprit! Now he was going to be in trouble for two things: making a little mess and buying stuff at the pawn shop.

Now, I didn't want to ruin some special surprise. I mean, what if his pawn shop purchase had been a present for me! However, I know Blondie is aware of my opinion of pawn shops, so it was a pretty safe bet that the item in question wasn't for me.

I asked him what it was and he reluctantly told me that he had bought an Xbox game. Two Xbox games, actually. Two Xbox games for $30 sounds like a pretty good deal.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Broken Oven

Blondie and I are looking for a new oven. One recent evening I had just put a casserole in the oven for dinner and went on about my business. Suddenly, we heard a loud crackle and then the smoke detector started beeping. We couldn't figure out what it was until we saw the smoke in the kitchen. We opened the oven door and saw a small flame on the element. Needless to say, our dinner was ruined. The status of the oven remained to be seen.

Blondie removed the charred element and I took it to our local appliance store to see if they could get a replacement. We didn't have a model number, so they had to guess which one to order. It came in and Blondie installed it. No luck. Apparently it was more than just a bad element.

He called his dad for backup and they still couldn't find the problem. His grandpa came over to help and they determined that there was a bad switch that needed to be replaced. Without a model number, it was pretty much impossible to find a replacement switch. They searched high and low and couldn't find it anywhere. Finally, Blondie fiddled with it enough to find a model number under the cooktop.

Like any good researcher, he entered it in Google and when he came up with four results, he knew he was in trouble. The most helpful article was a scanned newspaper clipping from 1971. Apparently, this Michigan newspaper had archived their articles, and he found an ad promoting a big appliance sale. Our oven was the "Imperial" model, which featured an oven window, oven light, aluminum foil liner, and an optional panoramic full glass door and Teflon back panel. It was pretty fancy in its day. Regularly $289, on sale for $179!

He called the store where we had purchased the new element and they laughed when he told them he was looking for a part for an oven from 1971. The lady said that he was pretty much out of luck on anything older than 25 years.

Let me tell you, you can't get an oven for $289 these days. Not even a cheap one. We've been considering all of our options. Blondie did a ton of online research and learned that there are basically three options to choose from when selecting a new oven/range combination: drop in, slide in, and freestanding. Drop ins only come in electric, the sides aren't finished, don't have a bottom drawer, don't have feet, and is the most expensive option. No, thanks. Slide ins are similar. Their sides aren't finished, but they do have a bottom drawer and feet. Free standing is exactly what it sounds like: a completely self contained unit that stands on its own four feet and has finished sides. It's the cheapest.

We currently have a drop in and would like to replace it with a gas or induction range. Since drop ins are the most expensive and don't come in gas, we're probably going with a different style this time. We would like to just buy a free standing oven and set it in the hole where our drop in was. However, it's not quite that simple. A drop in is a little smaller, so we'll have to cut out a 4"x30" strip of cabinet at the back and the little platform that the current oven sits on. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but the little platform under the oven contains a drawer and there's a tile kickplate on the front of the cabinetry. Those won't be easy to remove without ruining something.

Also, drop ins are generally hard wired in, so there's no plug behind the oven. If we buy a gas range, we'll have to get a plumber to run a gas line. And, of course, anything new has electronic controls, so we'll still have to plug in our gas oven. Fortunately, there is already an outlet directly above the stove.

In the meantime, we've been improvising. The electric range part of this unit still works, so we've been using that like normal. I have a pretty fancy toaster oven that I can use to bake small casseroles and even full size frozen pizzas. However, it's not so good for a 9"x13" cake pan or a bunch of cookies. One day I decided to bake a cake for dessert and got halfway through mixing it up before I realized I had no way to bake it. I ended up putting it in two 8" round pans and baking them separately. That worked fine. However, when I volunteered to bake cookies for Vacation Bible School, I didn't consider how long it would take to bake them, six at a time, in my toaster oven. I mixed them up at home and then baked them at my mother-in-law's house.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Together or Separate?

Blondie and I went shopping for a new oven on Saturday, and while we were in Oklahoma City, we met one of his old friends for lunch. Blondie and Josh went to high school together and went to the same college for two years. When they both went to graduate school at OSU, they lived together until Josh got married.

Here's a photo of Art, Josh, and Blondie from their high school days:


Blondie called Josh on Saturday morning to see if he and his wife, Katherine, were free for lunch. We agreed to meet at an unnamed Bricktown restaurant at 12:30. Blondie and I got there first and looked at the menu. Blondie determined that if we ate there, he would definitely need a snack right after lunch. We decided to ditch that plan and go somewhere else.

When Josh and Katherine arrived, we decided on a different restaurant. Our server was very quiet, and possibly new to this line of work. No one ordered anything complicated, but the waiter didn't offer soup or salad, which was supposed to come with our meal.

Blondie really likes salad, so when our food arrived, he asked about it. There were other waiters carrying around salad, so it seemed pretty normal to us. Our server acted really confused, like it was unusual for a customer to request salad. Especially this late in the game. Nonetheless, he brought our salad. He brought enough salad for one hungry person or two skinny ladies in a giant bowl with four smaller bowls and no serving utensils. It came with standard Italian dressing, which Blondie doesn't like, so he asked for some ranch. The waiter brought one small container of it, and said he would be right back with another. Apparently there was a supply chain issue with the ranch dressing.

Blondie took his share of the salad, and politely left some for the rest of us. None of us were really interested in salad at this point, but Josh ate some just because we all felt guilty for requesting salad and not eating it.

When the time came to pay our bill, the waiter asked if the check was to be together or separate, and we told him it was separate. He returned with four separate checks. In his defense, we did, say "separate," but it was pretty obvious that we were two couples. Josh and Katherine were sitting on one side of the table and we were on the other side. We just laughed and paid our four separate checks. Blondie said that next time he will use more definitive hand gestures to indicate that the checks should only be partially separate.

Overall, our lunch was a potentially awkward experience that turned out to be funny. I was so glad that Josh and Katherine were flexible about the restaurant we chose and tolerant of the inexperienced waiter. When meeting new people, you never know how they will react to such situations and I tend to feel responsible if things don't go exactly right.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Socks

My friend posted something on Facebook yesterday about not being able to tell the difference between her 9 year old son's socks and her husband's. I feel for her. I have laundry issues too.

We wash all of our whites together and I'm very particular about matching socks. I like the socks on both feet to be equally fluffy, so I try to pair socks at similar stages of deterioration. I put crisp white socks with other new socks and I put the dingy gray socks with the other worn ones. Blondie is satisfied with any matchup, just as long as short socks are together and long socks are together. He doesn't care if there's a black stripe on one and a gray heel on the other. You can't see that part anyway. That would drive me crazy.

When we got married, I warned Blondie that I don't sort laundry. I don't think it makes sense to dig through your dirty clothes looking for dirty items that go together. I think laudry should be pre-sorted. Whites go in the white basket, colors go in the blue basket, jeans go in the gray basket, and towels go in the bathroom basket.

I also don't un-wad socks. Since things should be pre-sorted, I just stuff everything into the washer without going through each item. I'm not handling Blondie's stinky socks any more than necessary. This results in pulling wet sock balls out of the dryer when the laundry is done. Those soggy socks can't be clean!

I threatened Blondie and told him that I wasn't un-wadding his nasty socks. I told him I would just throw them away. He said that was fine. He doesn't need me to do his laundry anyway. He'll just do it himself.

That's what I get for marrying a guy who can take care of himself.



P.S. Blondie and I have different tolerance thresholds where laundry piles are concerned. Yes, he's perfectly willing to do his laundry himself, but only after the pile is waist high. I can't let it sit that long. When it starts spilling out of the closet, I have to do something about it. Thus, I end up doing Blondie's laundry, even though he's perfectly capable and willing to do it himself. And I haven't thrown away any socks yet.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Introducing Pinky

This is Pinky, Yogi's baby sister. We have had her for a couple of weeks and have grown quite attached to her. She might even be just a tad bit spoiled.



Pinky and Yogi love to play together all day long. Pinky is the typical little sister. She was the runt of her litter, so she's quite a bit smaller than her four brothers. Her favorite trick is to go bite everyone's tails to start fights and then hide and watch the action. She does the same thing with Yogi, but he's much more tolerant than the other puppies. He's very good at sharing his toys and playing gently with Pinky.



I vacuumed the carpet yesterday and picked up all of the toys beforehand. When Pinky came inside a few minutes later, she immediately dragged all of her toys out of the basket. She loves to play. In fact, her favorite toy is that brown hedgehog that is 2/3 her size.



People have given her petite toys more appropriate for a puppy her size, but she's more interested in Yogi's big dog toys. She also likes big dog treats and big dog food. Unfortunately, she's just not going to be a big dog. Yogi is about 20 pounds and 15 inches tall, which is normal for a Miniature Australian Shepherd. However, we expect Pinky to be much smaller. Pinky and Yogi have a sister from another litter that is toy sized and we think Pinky will look a lot like her as an adult.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Blondie's Birthday

Blondie and I had a nice little vacation for his birthday this week. We took a short trip to Red River Ranch Retreat for two nights and really enjoyed ourselves. We arrived on Tuesday evening and had a tasty dinner of enchiladas and rice with "Apple Crapple" for dessert, served family style with the ranch staff and other guests. On Wednesday morning, we ate biscuits and gravy with eggs, then went for a trail ride. We ate our sack lunches by the river, then spend the afternoon relaxing in our room. Wednesday's dinner was chili and cornbread, with a frozen strawberry dessert. We sat on the porch and visited after dinner on Wednesday. On Thursday morning we ate pancakes, sausage, and eggs before we left. We felt really lazy eating breakfast at 9:00 on a ranch. We decided we could get really fat eating ranch food three times a day and not doing ranch work.

Here are some photos from our little trip.

Blondie called this "the little napping bed."



And this was "the big sleeping bed."



We spent a lot of time relaxing, which Blondie doesn't do at home. If there's work to be done, he thinks he has to do it. On our way home, he was already talking about all of the chores that he needed to do.



We ate our lunch by the river, which was really nice. We were very pleased with the weather during our trip. It was pretty windy, but nice and cool. I can be pretty cranky when I'm hot, so I was very thankful for the cool temperatures.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Business Cards

I'm somewhat of a collector of business cards. I pick them up everywhere I go to remember a restaurant I like or a store I want to visit again and I like to gather them on vacations to remind me of special places I visited.

This week I had to purge my Rolodex because it was packed so full that it would not close. Here are a few that I could not part with

The mechanic who keeps my car in tip-top shape:





The restaurant in Washington, D.C. where I ate with my colleagues during Small Business Week 2009 and a handsome stranger invited me to share his dinner:





Blondie's aunt, who was recently featured in Make and will make her artistic debut at Maker Faire demonstrating cyanotype printing:





A charming salon in a neighboring town:





My cousin, who makes fantastic jewelry:





The Japanese hardware store in Berkeley where Blondie splurged on his fancy Santoku knife:


The restaurant where Justin and Christina took us for dinner the evening we got engaged:





The restaurant where we ate dinner on our wedding night:



It was sad to see the cards that belonged to friends and acquaintances who had passed away and sweet to see the ones whose names had changed due to marriage. I will continue to collect these small reminders of people and places that mean something to me.