Sunday, January 04, 2015

Merry & bright

We flew back to WA on December 15th, but before that, we crammed our days with twinkly garland & tissue paper flying every which way & great piles of sugar. Besides a terrible tantrum I threw regarding the difficulty of lighting our little tree, it was very merry & bright, a nice beginning to our first holiday season in the south.

Beginning on the 3rd, Jan Michael transformed the kitchen into his annual caramel corn factory. When all was said and done, he either hand-delivered or mailed about 25 batches. I say this every year, but it makes smile & smile to see him carrying on a tradition all his own that brings him - and all of his lucky-duck recipients :) - so much gladness. He was particularly gleeful this time around about the 25 lb bag of brown sugar we found at Costco; he made a decent dent in it, but even so, I don't think it will be gone anytime soon :)

This business of the ugly Christmas sweater is so funny to me, especially when people jump in with both of their creative feet. And never before have I considered green pants; I will enthusiastically nudge Jan Michael in that direction next year :)

Presents! We've never waited until Christmas Day to open them; how could I possibly be expected to be so patient? Besides, cramming anything extra into our suitcases for our trip on the 15th was totally out of the question, so we ripped into them the first Saturday of the month. 
He unwrapped a pile of Donald Duck comics along with some other silliness - a Star Wars thumb wrestling kit, of which I was quite proud - and I found a collection of things to aid me on my ever-evolving quest for fitness: heavy barbells, a new yoga mat, and a nice, cushy bike seat for my poor bottom, which did not get along well with the old seat at all. Also, there were these adorable mugs, which made me squeal:
And then, a very fancy Christmas portrait: 
The month felt very full since we celebrated on our own for the first half, and then again with so many dear loved ones for the second half; I vote that we do it just exactly the same way next time :) 

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Catch up

It seems that today's young whippersnappers make generous use of something called 'throwback Thursday' in which they share pictures from days gone by. I don't know if the end of October is throwing it back enough to be official, but I'm behind and today happens to be Thursday, so...

Our parents were with us for one glorious week from the 21st to the 28th, and we filled our time with trips to the science center, aquarium, and arboretum, along with a little bit of exploring around town. We were also able to spend a day together at one of our annual church conventions, where we ran into a handful of Washingtonians; I don't know if I'll ever not be amazed that it really is a small, small world.

Oh, and I almost forgot: Happy New Year!!! :) 

Sunday, November 02, 2014

One gal's disappointment is another man's glee.

In all the years we lived in our little house in WA, we had maybe 2 trick-or-treaters. We were sure it would be different here, because our neighborhood just seems like a good trick-or-treating place - lots of houses, and not way out in the sticks. Besides, lots of people decorate their yards with jack-o-lanterns and bales of hale and blow-up ghosts and witches that look like they've flown straight into telephone poles, which is clearly a trick-or-treating magnet, don't you think?

We wanted to be prepared for droves of tiny princesses and race car drivers, so I bought two gigantic bags of candy from Costco and decorated the front door with orange & black stars and a very friendly spider ('There is candy here!' I wanted everyone to know.) We turned on the porch light and camped out right by the door in the dining-turned-exercise-room, good and ready for 700 doorbell rings.

Between the hours of 5 and 9:00, at which time I gave up, took a bath, and then took myself to bed, we had a grand total of five.

The next morning, my husband, unable to contain himself any longer, began hopping around and pumping his fists in the air. He'd been secretly hoping all along for just this kind of scenario, because what happens to left-over Halloween candy in this house? It's not given to the local dentist's office for $1/lb, I can tell you that.

He wore his pumpkin head to work on Friday, but I am married to a turkey :) 

Oh, and to add insult to injury: I lent my Lady Liberty costume to our friends' son, who later told his friends that he'd borrowed it from a 'middle-aged woman.' 

Such disappointment, such sting! 

Better luck next year to me :)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Finding fall

Just a few pictures of a Texas October - quite different than what our Pacific Northwest clan is experiencing (nobody there is wearing flip-flops, I bet!) with lots of pretty things in lots of places.

This one is my favorite :)
And candy corn pumpkins!

Oops, I almost forgot. Our Sara sent this to me; it's so perfectly fall & any minute now I expect tiny gnomes to pop out from behind the toadstools:

And one more fun thing: birds here chirp on fall mornings like they do elsewhere in the spring :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Great Texas Tradition

We jumped into the month of October with a few hours at the Texas State Fair. It begins at the end of September and I think tomorrow is the last day. For a couple of WA kids, it seems strange to hold a fair so late in the season, but I know this is meant to keep everyone from succumbing to heat stroke in the middle of the cow barn. I appreciate this; I really do. However. On October 1st it was 92 degrees. Thank goodness for air conditioned buildings full of prize-winning quilts and fancy car displays and samples of root beer floats, is all I will say about that.

We spent no money on rides but spent a ton on food. For brunch we each ate a corn dog, and then 45 minutes later, after exhausting ourselves by watching a dog show, we shared a gigantic plate of nachos (with Texas-shaped chips!) and I drank an iced coffee. Following several bottles of water, and as we were on our way out, Jan Michael ate an ice cream bar & I made a mess of myself with a caramel apple. Then, after we took the train home, we ate cheeseburgers and french fries and possibly a chicken strip or two for dinner. Moderation is hard sometimes.

The very best part of the whole day was the petting zoo. In terms of animal exhibits, Texas wins. Of course there were the usual barnyard animals, including the two which must always be present or a fair just isn't a fair - tiny goats & a huge mama pig with her itty bitty babies - but there were also animals we'd only ever seen at a zoo. A camel! Some zebras! A  huge tortoise! We were too cheap for this, but someone at the entrance was selling bags of feed; next year I'll spend less time feeding me and more time feeding the animals :)

We don't know what kind of cow this is, but she must have awful headaches :)

Fun giraffe trivia: They have the same number of vertebrae as we do (7) and their tongues are 18-20 inches long (!!) 

And then, something I'd never seen in real life before, zoo or not: 
Not long after I took the picture, he/she twisted all around and pretty soon the only thing sticking out were feet :) And this guy made us laugh with his beefcake poses in the sawdust :)
I could have stayed for ages admiring these three, but the corn dogs were calling ;)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

This & that

I cannot reconcile the fact that it's almost October; autumn in Texas is toastier than in WA, and so I forget. Last weekend I shoved all of my tank tops into the back of the closet and pulled out my cardigan collection, but I don't think this is going to spur the weather on quite like I'd wish.

I've gussied up the inside of the house for fall, though - orange candles & fake leaves everywhere; you know the drill :) - and have been drinking pumpkin spice coffee since the end of August. Our mantle here is much fancier than our old one, and I think I'll have fun bedazzling it for each season.

On Tuesday I'll dig out our Halloween decorations, but this has been hanging on the pantry door for the past month:
The Pinterest projects I choose seem to turn out only half the time, but this wreath was a smashing success, and I plan to make one for every single holiday I can think of. This is about two packages of cupcake liners (covered in tiny skulls which are SO CUTE, can you tell?!), all with the centers cut out, and pinned around a foam wreath. It's cheap & fairly mindless & turned out just exactly like the picture I pinned in the first place, so two thumbs up! 

As far as kitchen adventures are concerned, I've been baking our bread for a few weeks now. I read a horrifying article recently about ice cream sandwiches that wouldn't melt, even after hours in the sun, because of whatever awful thing they're made with, and for a few minutes I washed my hands of messing with anything store-bought ever again. Then I calmed down and decided bread was at least a good place to start. We had a very near disaster with the last batch when I overloaded the poor mixer and it kneaded itself right off the counter and crashed loudly to the floor:
I thought it was lost and gone forever, which would have been a terrible & expensive loss, but Jan Michael tinkered around and, ta da!, it works! 

On Friday I made applesauce with about 5 lbs worth of ginger golds.
I tossed in a can of pumpkin, which ensured that I would be the only one in this house interested in it, and then... I ate it. All 5 lbs worth. It took me a day and a half. I suppose it's better than 10 caramel apples in one fell swoop, but still. But..yum! I will do it again, maybe this week :)

The sunsets continue to be a balm to my heart, and since it's cooling off a little now, I've been in the middle of a few these last couple of weeks. Jeannie, we share these especially for you :) 
Oops, this last one is a sunrise - still lovely, and besides, I like the bird in middle of the pond :)

Friday, August 01, 2014

Rise & shine

My friend Heather and I have been switching between her neighborhood and ours for walking & jogging, but this week we found the loveliest trail, just down the road, that winds around two small lakes. It's the closest thing I've found to the PNW, and being there helps make my heart happy.