Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday Day Night at the Movies

Every Saturday night my son and daughter-in-law come over for a visit. They bring along their beautiful Aussie, Teagan, some movies, their appetites and their overnight bags. It's become a ritual we all truly enjoy. We will sit down with the carryout menus to decide where our dinner will come from that night, and once we settle in for the evening we pop in a movie.

I've mentioned before the problem we have with the movie selection process, since we all have different tastes. My son and his wife like all kinds of movies. My husband likes a good detective movie and me....I am the problem. I will only watch movies that are cute, funny and have a fairly happy ending....something along the line of "Pretty Woman" or "Ratatouille". I can watch a tear-jerker like "The Notebook", but I cannot do violence of any kind. I can't sit and watch horrible things that I know really do happen. I just see no point in making myself feel sad and sick.

Last weekend we watched "What Happens In Vegas" with Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz. Sure, you know the ending before the movie even starts...but it is cute and it did make me laugh and it did have that all important happy ending!

The movie is about two down and outs that happen to meet up in Vegas, get very drunk and wind up married. They both freak out when they find out what they've done. There is a funny little twist that I won't go into in case you haven't seen it.

So, they run to divorce court where the judge refuses to grant them a divorce and sends them for counceling. There are a lot of little laughs along the way as they get to know one another and try to figure out married life all at the same time. I found it entertaining and the rest of the group enjoyed it as well.

Next we watched "Blood Diamond" with Leonard DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounson. I should say the rest of the family watched it. I got through maybe 15 minutes while trying to cover my eyes and ears, and then couldn't watch anymore.

The movie is about a diamond smuggler and a fisherman trying to recover a rare pink diamond and the fisherman's son. It's set in Sierra Leone during the civil war in 1999. The story line sounded very exciting, but I just couldn't handle the violence that went with it. It was much too graphic for my tastes. My family thought it was a very good movie.

I know that people are "entertained" by a lot of different kinds of movies, and I would never deny anyone the right to watch whatever they want to watch. I just have a difficult time understanding how anyone finds movies that are filled with violence, torture and murder entertaining.
So, with that said...I have no idea what movies are on the agenda for this evening. It is usually a surprise, although he does come armed with quite a variety and we usually watch the whimpy, silly little love story with the happy ending first! Anyone for "Happy Gilmore"?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Kathy In The Kitchen

Okay, so my entire family is rolling on the floor laughing. Tears are streaming down their cheeks and they can't catch their breath! That was the reaction I got when I said I was going to put a recipe on my blog. "You hate to cook and you are never even in the kitchen. Why would you do that?" Of course, their reaction wasn't quite that dramatic, but it is true....I hate the kitchen and I hate to cook, but that doesn't mean that I don't have hundreds of great recipes...after all, I love to eat!

(They just might be rolling on the floor for real though when they see what I titled this blog!!)

So, today's recipe is for Barley-Mushroom "Burgers". These are the best non-meat burgers I have ever had. Even some of the carnivores in my family like them. Here goes.....

from Vegetarian Times Magazine
Serves 6 (unless you like mega-burgers like me, then it's 4)

1/2 cup uncooked quick-cooking barley
1 large egg, well beaten
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup minced mushrooms
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup minced parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (I don't grind pepper. Regular old pepper works just fine)

1. Cook barley according to package directions. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, combine egg, ricotta cheese, cheddar cheese, mushrooms, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir barley into egg mixture.

The batter for these "burgers" is soft, so turn them carefully. (They aren't kidding! The first couple of times I made these, I ended up with a tasty pile of mush) As the cheese cools, the patties do firm up. I do mine a little different and I explain that below.

3. Spray large nonstick skillet or griddle with cooking spray. When it is hot, spoon about 1/2 cup of mixture onto hot skillet; repeat until skillet is full, but take care not to overcrowd. (If you do overcrowd, you will regret it when you try to turn these things over)

Cook until golden, 5-7 minutes on each side. Using a spatula, turn "burgers" over carefully, and cook until mixture is firm and cheese has melted. Remove from skillet, and set aside. Repeat until mixture is used up. Serve.

You can top these burgers with anything you would top a regular burger with...ketsup, mustard, lettuce, tomato.

The only thing that I do differently, is that I actually take the batter and make it into patties. Then I put them in the fridge until they firm up a bit and then I cook them like I would any other burger. It seems to work better for me that way.

Just don't poke around at them too much while they are cooking either, because they will fall apart. I guarantee it.

They are quick and easy to mix up, a pain to cook...but well worth it! Enjoy!

I've been Tagged!

I recently discovered that I had been "tagged" by Jan of etsy shop, Expressive Papers. I have to admit, I had no idea what that meant, but now that I know I have to say thank you to Jan for honoring me and my work in such a way.

Jan designs some of the most amazing cards I have ever seen. If you stop by her blog, Expressive Papers, you will see a new one that she has just created that is absolutely gorgeous.

Here are the TAG GAME RULES:

1) Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3) Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4) Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here are 7 things about me:

1) I married my high school sweetheart 36 years ago
2) I am a vegetarian
3) I love music by Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson
4) My pupils are 2 different sizes (really)
5) I love animals and nature
6) I have only lived in 3 different towns my entire life, and they are all within about 6 miles of one another in northeastern Illinois
7) I would live to live in Colorado one day

Now, here are the wonderful blogs that I am tagging today. I will let them all know they've been tagged. I hope you will check out their blogs in the next few days to meet these wonderfully talented people!

1) Kala Pohl Studio
2) Mary Richmond Design
3) The Clack House Handmade Candles and Tarts
4) Ruth's Creations' Blog
5) Fire and Glass
6) Handmade Shop Talk by Always Amy
7) Beadz n' Thingz

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Surviving High School in the 60's

I was thinking about how different high school is today than it was back in my day. I know some of you will be able to relate and others might say, "Are you kidding me?" No, trust me, I'm not.

My girlfriends and I liked to get to school early in the morning. See, the hallways in the school made a big circle, so every morning we would walk around the big circle until the first bell rang. The guys, on the other hand, had certain spots where they would hang out in the morning. Different groups of guys had their own special corners, or benches.... so if you got there early enough, you might pass those same guys 2 or 3 times during the hall walking ritual. If you had a crush on one of those was a worthwhile walk!

We had dress codes. Guy's shirts had to have collars and their hair couldn't hang over the back of their collars. Their shirts had to be tucked in and they had to wear belts! I remember one of the rowdy guys coming to school one day with a green mohawk. He didn't even make it to his first class and he was sent home. Caused quite a commotion.

Girls had to kneel on the floor in the locker room during gym class...all of us side by side....and if your skirt, dress or jumper didn't touch the floor you were on your way home too! Yep, they really could do things like that back then. I always kept an extra set of clothes in my locker just in case the fashion police didn't like what I was wearing that day. I would come to school in mini skirts just to see how long it would be before I got caught.

Smoking in the bathrooms was a big problem back then. Someone always stood lookout in the hall to be sure no teachers were coming while everyone else grabbed a quick smoke between classes! I didn't smoke, so I was usually the lookout.

The worst class for me though was gym class. We were required to take a shower every day after gym. The gym teacher stood at the shower entrance and when you walked out you had to tell her your number (no names, just numbers) and she would mark in her little book that you took your shower. Now, when you had your period, you said your number and then "P", I'm not kidding. I was a rather modest little girl, so I was "6P" so often that she suggested I go see a doctor!!

My sister was three years ahead of me in school. The teachers loved her. Needless to say, my name and my reputation had reached them long before I did. We were sitting in the huge auditorium on Freshman Orientation Day. I'm chomping away on my gum, talking and having a great time with my friends....when the teacher running the show called me by my last name and said, "Are you chewing gum?" I immediately swallowed the gum and said, "Nope!" and that was the start of four very long years, and a lot of gum swallowing!

I do have many fond memories of high school. I had wonderful friends and I met my husband while we were in high school. Our kids went to the same high school we went to, and it was always fun to go back for open house and walk those halls again, except at open house we actually tried to get to class on time!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New Day

The election is over and the people have spoken. We have a President elect and the whole world is abuzz. Today there is electric in the air and even if your candidate didn't win, you can't help but feel the swell of excitement and anticipation.

Even those of us that are normally very happy little campers, were starting to feel doubt about what the future held for us, our country and the world. Today, much of the world is feeling hope and optimism.

If you are disappointed today, or sad or angry because your candidate didn't win....take a few days to console yourself and then it's time for all of us to come together and get to work. There is much to be done and it will take all of us to make it happen.

This isn't about who won or who lost. It is about the state of our great nation and the state of the world, and what we as everyday people can do to change things. We may not have a seat in Washington, but there is so much that we can do from our own cities and towns. So let's all roll up our sleeves and get to work. There is much to be done. Our new President will do his part, let's all do ours!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Through The Eyes of a Child

The little blond haired girl hops on her bicycle. She rides up the huge hill...pedaling, pedaling...until she reaches the top. She rides in big circles, around and around and around. The garage door opens and there is her friend, her best friend. She hops on her bicycle and rides out onto the street.

The girls smile and laugh, ride around in one more big circle then down the huge hill, side by side. Best friends. At the end of the block, they leave the road and ride up a driveway onto the sidewalk and then glide down the grassy slope, feet off the pedals, legs outstretched. Wheeee! Around they go to do it again. Wheeee! Then one more time they ride up onto the sidewalk, but this time they eye one another and the dare is on. They take turns and ride down the three big concrete steps at the corner. Bump, bump, bump! They laugh and continue on their way toward the river. Ah, the river....the dirty, muddy, cool and refreshing river. They are going to the river for a day of splashing and fun.

I drive down the main road, but as I always do when I pass this neighborhood...I turn down the street. That street. My street. I come upon the hilltop and immediately slow the car to a crawl. I smile when I see her house, my best friend's house...then as I come down the huge hill....that is really hardly a hill at all....slowly, slowly the car creeps along and then comes to a stop. I stop right in the middle of the street.

There is THE house. MY house. It pains me to see the condition it is in, but it doesn't surprise me. It has looked that way for decades. My dad built that house for us. It was his pride and joy. I close my eyes and I can see my house how it looked back then. The bushes all trimmed to perfection. The red geraniums that he loved so much planted all around the front of the house. Beautiful, beautiful house.

I open my eyes and quickly look away from the house and focus down the street. I press ever so slightly on the gas pedal and the car rolls on. I smile again when I see the grassy slope....not much of a slope to the eyes of an adult, and the concrete steps.....three tiny little concrete steps! Oh, how big it all looked back then. How big everything looks through the eyes of a child.

I drive on and stop when I reach the beach.....I close my eyes yet again. When I open them....I see the little blond haired girl jumping off the pier into the dirty, muddy, cool and refreshing water.

Tears start to well up in my eyes and I blink them away. When I open them, the little blond haired girl is gone, but she will be back...the next time I come home.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Through The Lens

In my October 28th post, I talked about how my etsy card and gift shop came to be. It happened at a time in my life when I knew something was missing, but couldn't figure out what that was. While looking at my youngest son's photographs one day, the idea of making greeting cards using those photos came to me....and the rest is they say.

Today I would like to share with you some of the photographs that have inspired me to do what I am doing today, and tell you a little bit about my son, the photographer.

My youngest son, Matt, is a third grade teacher in Telluride, Colorado. He is also the young man behind the lens for the majority of our photos. Living in the mountains has provided him with so many wonderful opportunities to take gorgeous photos. He also loves to travel, and he always has his camera with him. In the winter, Matt can be found hiking up the mountains and snowboarding down the mountains. Telluride gets a lot of snow, and I mean a lot. It starts snowing in the fall and is still snowing late in the spring.

Matt grew up in northern Illinois where there really isn't a lot to look at. He is in awe of what he sees on a daily basis in Telluride. He told me one time that he feels like he is living a dream and that sometimes he feels like he is on a 365 day vacation! How nice would that be?

It takes a long time for the snow to melt in the mountains at 9000 feet, but when it does he changes gears and you will find him biking, hiking, kayaking, camping and rock climbing. The picture on the right is actually a picture of Matt bouldering. Bouldering is when you climb huge rocks without any type of equipment. You lay a thick mat on the ground under the case you lose your grip! It's pretty awesome to watch and requires a great deal of strength. There are a lot of sports I would like to try...bouldering is not one of them!

Matt also rock climbs. I try not to think about that one too much, because as a mom, I worry enough about my kids without knowing they are hanging off the sides of mountains. Matt's constant companion is his border collie, Luna. You will see her in some of our cards. She is wonderful to photograph...such a beautiful dog and the best friend anyone could ever want. Luna goes everywhere with Matt and his friends. She loves the out of doors and Matt said he would feel guilty leaving her behind when they head out to snowboard, climb, hike or camp. She is definitely a dog that loves adventure! She even has her own backpack now so she can help carry her own food, water and dishes.

Things that I would walk right by and never even notice, Matt sees and photographs. I think seeing things like he does is a gift. Being able to capture those things on film is a talent. I truly believe that everyone has a gift. I think some of us just have trouble finding what that thing is that we have been blessed with. I am a firm believer in exposing children to as many opportunities as possible, to give them that chance to find what it is that really brings them joy.

Some people don't find their gift until later in life, but the nice thing is that it is never to late to enjoy doing something that you were meant to do. You can take your gift and make it your life's work, or like many people, you can use it as more of a hobby. It just seems that when you are doing what you are meant to do, life is so wonderful. What is your gift?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Great Goal Setting Glitch

Are you a goal setter? I am a great goal setter. I set a lot of goals. I set exercise goals, money saving goals, dietary goals, work goals, etsy goals and even house cleaning goals. Are you a goal keeper? I am a great goal setter. Oh, I already said that, didn't I. Yep, I am a great goal setter and a terrible goal keeper!
Setting a goal isn't enough, and I realize that now. Anyone can set a goal, but in order to keep a need a plan. That's where I run into trouble. I don't ever plan how I am going to reach that goal. My guess would be that many of you are in the same place. Am I right?

The first thing you need to do is to set a goal. I think most of us are probably quite good at that. I know I am. So, for the sake of keeping this simple, let's talk exercise and health. I think most of us at one time or another have set exercise and health related goals. Right?

My daughter is getting married in March. I am not considered overweight, however the weight I am at right now, is not a comfortable weight for me. My clothes don't fit right and I just don't like the way I look. So I would like to lose and little weight and definitely tone up my arms, my belly and my rear before the wedding.

My goal is to lose 5 pounds and tone up some specific areas by the wedding. Woo hoo, great goal! Normally that would be where I would stop. I would start walking a little and maybe working out a little and then I would miss one day for some reason, and then I would miss two days for some reason and then all of sudden I would be doing anything at all....again!

Now, what if I had a plan to go with that goal? A very specific plan. Every weekday morning I am going to take the dog for a very brisk 15 minute walk before work. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I will do a 20 minute yoga workout right after work. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I will do a 20 minute Pilates work out. It will be right after work on Tuesday and Thursday and first thing in the morning on Saturday.
Doing anything after work is difficult for me. I am a morning person....a big time morning person. If something isn't done by say 2:00 p.m., it isn't getting done! So, send some encouragement my way. I was working out a bit after work before I started my etsy business and haven't done a thing since then!

Every Saturday, I will make up my menu for the week for each meal of the day, so when I go shopping I can buy the right foods, and only the right foods. I will post my menu on the cabinet so I always know what I am going to be eating, leaving very little room for error.

On Fridays I will eat whatever I want to eat whenever I want to eat it. This little plan I have done before and it works quite well for me. I know all week that Friday is coming and I'll be able to eat some fries or a dessert and it's okay because I have given myself permission to do so. I also know that when I see how good I feel during the week, that I don't always want to mess things up on Friday, so I don't eat that much bad stuff anyway.

My thought is that anything positive I can do for myself is better than doing nothing at all. Right?

On Sunday, I will take a nice long leisurely walk with the dog. I will give my body and mind a rest and I will congratulate myself if I have done well, and forgive myself if I haven't...because I know that I am not perfect and I will make mistakes and it's really okay.
So, go ahead and set those goals....but make a plan to go with them. Write it down
and each and every day, follow what you have written down. After a short time, the things you are doing will become more of a habit than a pain in the butt, and you will be on your way to achieving your goals! Good luck!

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