Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cheers and Jeers: Thanksgiving Edition

Cheers... to my and NavyGuy's families venturing on the "Washington Trail" and making it out to our neck of the woods for a Thanksgiving extravaganza.

Cheers... to the two semi-nice weather days we had while our guests were here.

Jeers... to the two spitty, wet, icky days we had while our guests were here.

Cheers... to a great menu of Thanksgiving food. Triple cheers to the deep-fried turkey (no fires or explosions!), stuffing, green jello rings, and hashbrown casserole.

Jeers... to the Rockette's nude colored outfits. Nude is not a holiday color ladies; find yourself a nice red or green leotard for next year please.

Jeers... to the pitiful reinvention of White Christmas on Broadway showcased during the Macy's parade. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye would have rolled over (and danced a smashing tap routine) in their graves if they had seen the crap-tacular impostors mangling the holiday classics.

Cheers... to the six bottles of wine we managed to drain during dinner and dessert.

Jeers... to the butthead of a roommate who a) did not offer to help prepare anything before dinner, b) did not offer to clean up anything after dinner, and c) ripped the head off of my handmade Pilgrim man placecard and stuck it on one of the wine bottles. (A kids' table would have been wise.) He, and our other equally useless roommate, are on my list.

Cheers... to the Michael's craft store in Burlington for having a wide selection of Cricut cartridges on sale for $29.99 Friday morning!!!! At that price, how could I not buy three of them?

Cheers... to my wedding planner/life coach for her fabulous bridal shower invitations that arrived on Friday. Despite handicaps like an ADHD dog, a pukey baby, and a husband, she put together a gorgeous invite featuring a pink wedding cake! Yea!

Cheers... to my Trivial Pursuit team for our Friday night victory. May youth (and second guesses) always prevail.

Jeers... to the whales of Puget Sound. Six hours on a rainy, cold, dismal boat trip around the islands of northwest Washington, and all you damn whales do is hide underwater the entire time!?!?! I did not pay good money to sit in my own shivering dampness and listen to Captain Carl tell me about the mating habits of harbor seals; I wanted to see Shamu in the wild! (Luckily, we each have a lifetime voucher to retake the whale watching tour again, until we actually see whales.)

Jeers... to the bug that crawled up my nose and gave me this vicious head cold.

Cheers... to Eclipse, Book Three of the Stephenie Meyer vampire saga, which kept me entertained when I awoke at 4:30 am dripping snot and unable to fall back asleep.

Cheers... to a delightful, if imperfect, Thanksgiving Extravaganza. For the family we did see, thank you; for the family we didn't get to see, Christmas is just a few short weeks away!


Friday, November 28, 2008

Quick Blip

Hello gang! I'm still alive and still playing hostess with the mostess to my mom and NavyGuy's family (hence the lack of posting and general laptop cuddle time). You can expect the next posting sometime on Sunday, after I've had a few hours to recover. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a tantilizing itinerary of our events so far.

1. food prep
2. turkey frying
3. 6 bottles o' wine
4. placecard beheading
5. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

1. Black Friday cricut cartridge quest
2. brunch
3. driving tour of Whidbey Island
4. hiking over Deception Pass
5. failed summit of Mt. Erie
6. Wall-E!
7. leftovers
8. heated Trivial Pursuit battle (old farts vs. young farts)

Stay tuned!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

T-Day Prep: Outta' Time!

The families have invaded :) My mom, and NavyGuy's parents and sister, all arrived in Anacortes this afternoon!!! Yeaaaaaaa, my mom's in my time zone. Per usual, she came bearing gifts - everything ranging from a springform baking pan, the Jon and Kate Plus 8 Good Housekeeping magazine, wedding invitation inspiration, and deodorant (it was on sale - that's how we operate). NavyGuy and I gave her the tour of the house, then she whipped up broccoli salad and green pineapple jello rings (a culinary masterpiece that the Pilgrims wish they'd had) while I prepped the apple crisp desserts.

Later NavyGuy's clan arrived, we chowed down on some pizza, gave another house tour (lord I do love showing off the posh bathroom and white trim), baked a pumpkin pie, watched Bones, and rocked out to some monster hits on Rock Band (the video game). One of my favorite parts was watching NavyGuy's dad sing lead vocals on a Jethro Tull song ("Aqualung" ring a bell for anyone?); the man clearly missed his calling in the '70s and should have devoted his efforts to forming a classic rock group. Alas.

Now the families have headed back to the hotel, the boys are still rock-banding it, and I'm curled up in my cozy bed ready to watch tonight's new episode of Top Chef. After a day of cleaning, last minute decorating, cooking, and hostessing - I'm beat! And it was only a prelude to tomorrow's main act! First on the agenda tomorrow - catching the Rockettes at the Macy's Parade!

Hope everyone else enjoyed their Thanksgiving Eve :)


I've Been Tagged!

My dear friend Farmer's Wife has tagged me with a "One Word" game. Essentially, I answer each of the questions with one word and one word only. Enjoy!

Where is your cell phone? dresser
Where is your significant other? bedroom
Your hair color? brown
Your mother? inspirational
Your father? underwhelming
Your favorite thing? NavyGuy
Your dream last night? nonexistent
Your dream/goal? employment
The room you’re in? bedroom
Your hobby? crafts
Your fear? feet
Where do you want to be in 6 years? Wisconsin!
Where were you last night? home
What you’re not? flexible
One of your wish-list items? puppy
Where you grew up? Fond du Lac
Last thing you did? crafted
What are you wearing? sweatpants
Your TV? on
Your pet? roommates
Your computer? laptop
Your mood? homesick
Missing someone? Sister
Your car? red
Something you’re not wearing? shoes
Favorite store? Target
Your summer? tiring
Love someone? Yeppers
Your favorite color? pink
When is the last time you laughed? 5:00
Last time you cried? Saturday

And now, I'm tagging Jersey Girl, my new friend in Anacortes. Jump over to her blog to see what she comes up with :)


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Groom Goes Shopping...

As promised, here is NavyGuy's take on our Target wedding registry experience:

Mugs and I embarked on our second round of wedding registering fun this afternoon after I'd taken my first quiz in advanced electronic warfare school. We drove from Anacortes to a large Target store about 45 minutes south. We ate lunch first at Bostons, a restaurant Mugs and I both liked from Appleton, in order to stock up on energy for this second round of shopping-without-buying (although today would prove to have more of the buying than the previous trip).

Let me say this about shopping: Men are somehow genetically incapable of enjoying shopping. The whole experience of ambling around a store, large or small, going up and down every aisle in the entire place, just tires me out and makes me ornery, and I think most, if not all men have the same experience. The day couldn't have started off better if I'd planned it. Being the more do-it-yourself type when it comes to retail stores(I never miss a chance to use the Wal-Mart Self-Check lanes, those are gifts from someone) I suggested we simply use the little self-service computer to set up our registry. Mugs, being the Queen of Target that she is, thought we could just go up to the Customer Service desk and have them set it up for us. The look on Mug's face when the Customer Service rep told her she needed to do the exact task I'd just suggested we do first, was perhaps one of the most priceless expressions I'll ever witness.

Oddly enough, we actually had more to decide on this day than on our previous trip to Macy's, since we'd already decided on the big items (read china, in particular) prior to actually arriving. Target, on the other hand was all "fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants." We had to stand in the aisles, holding the little red scanner between us and argue about which color table chargers, or whether Mugs made me get rid of my toaster; when I didn't agree with her suggestions, I'd retaliate by continually scanning her and the surrounding items on the shelves, occasionally picking up the odd left shoe or random piece of camping gear as payment for being overruled. In any case, attempting to squeeze the cart past the wide electric elevated platform kind of put a top on the day, and from then on, our trip went downhill fast. Both of us tired, worn out, and sick of walking around and through every aisle led to a relatively hasty end to the day at that point, and we left to drive back home to Anacortes. In a fitting coda to the afternoon, Mugs fell asleep in the car, as she perpetually does, and I drove home in near silence, a suitable contrast to the three long and noisy hours spent in a department store that afternoon.

Thanks again NavyGuy for your contribution - love you hun!

Additionally, this marks my 200th blog post! I can't believe I've blathered that much. (Wait - yes, I can.)


Monday, November 24, 2008

Dispatches from a Target

Our registering adventure continued today with a trip to Target, my home away from home. I have been looking forward to doing this since, umm, high school. No, I'm not super greedy, I just love Target, and I love the scanner gun. However, today's outing was a debacle from start to finish; I'm getting over self-diagnosed strep throat (Webmd, plus I used a flashlight to see if there were any white spots on my throat), and we were both tired and honestly, sick of shopping. But we had to get it done. So, I am going to hit the highlights and lowlights of our two and a half hour tour, from the bride's point of view. (NavyGuy will hopefully be contributing a guest post describing registering from the groom's perspective soon.)

~ We nearly came to blows eight seconds after we got in the store, as we waited in line at the customer service desk. NavyGuy pointed out the individual registry machines, and nudged me toward one, assuming we needed to start there. I blew him off, explaining that those machines were what guests used to print out registry lists, and duh, we needed to talk to the customer service girl to get a scanner gun. This debate rolled on until we got to the front of the line. Apparently, at THIS specific Target, you are supposed to go to the machines first... grrrr. I'm not the world's best loser, so I calmly walked (stomped) back over to the machines and get us registered.

~ Then while NavyGuy kindly went to get me a soda, a random old woman approached me as I stood near the front of the store, and inquired as to whether she was allowed to take her merchandise into the bathroom with her because "she really had to go." Now mind you, I know enough about Target to be mistaken for a high level company official, but hello lady - do I have a name tag on? No. Do I seem to be wearing a red shirt like many of the other people roaming around here? No. Good grief. (Was I this sassy to her? No. She was old and she really had to use the restroom so that seemed to be enough on her plate at that point.)

~ A seeing eye dog in training almost peed on my foot. (This whole trip involved a not-insignificant amount of Mountain Dew, hence many of these stories not-coincidentally involve the bathroom.) I left NavyGuy guarding the cart and the scanner gun while I hightailed it to the bathroom. Halfway down the aisle, there was this cute seeing eye dog that I wanted to stop and coo over, and next thing I know, I'm jumping back towards an end cap of towels because puppy is letting loose!

~ Heated discussions occurred over flannel sheets (I enjoy subtle patterns, NavyGuy believes them to be fascist); a toaster (I may or may not have made him keep mine in lieu of his when we moved, only to discover that two of the slots didn't work on mine... hence the need to register for another... hence the bringing up of the toaster debacle while in the housewares aisle); doormats (someone doesn't like them to say 'Welcome' because he's not sure he'd actually want to welcome every person who ends up on our doorstep); and a Dyson vacuum (what's wrong with a pink vacuum that supports breast cancer?!??! And why does he care anyway since I tend to do the vacuuming and I let him pick out the new toaster as a compromise!!!!)

There were phone conversations with both of our parents at various points in time, the bribe of a new Christmas CD in order to keep me from going awol, and two Mountain Dew fountain drinks. NavyGuy got a little punchy with the scanner and managed to register for two extra lamps and an ugly baby mobile. At one point, I managed to lodge the cart (and myself) between an aisle of coffee pots and a large piece of ladder machinery that the stockers use; a Target employee and NavyGuy had to lift the cart and maneuver to extract me. I was left alone with the scanner in the scrapbook aisle for ten minutes (someone needed another bathroom break), and managed to convince myself that I will need several scrapbooks to record the wedding memories (what do we think - justifiable registry item?). Oh, and we managed to run down the batteries on the scanner and had to return to the customer service desk to get a second scanner. Overall, the experience was painful, tempestuous, and riddled with bathroom breaks; god-willing, not an indicator of our future life together... :)

P.S. I do not hold Target responsible for any of the debacles. Except for maybe the cart mishap. (They really shouldn't leave those stocking machines out where the masses can get to them.) I still heart you Target!


Paper Trees

Every window in our new house has a white trim ledge, wide enough to display pictures, candles, knickknacks, and...


I love decorating my abode for Christmas; my first year in my apartment I went out one random Friday night in December and bought a five foot artificial tree, bags of garland, fabric, ornaments, and other trimmings, and spent the next six hours turning the apartment into a winter wonderland. Each year my collection of decorations expanded, until I reached the point where I would have to start setting items on the toilet seat if I actually wanted to fit everything in my little apartment.

Therefore, I am thrilled and delighted to have access to countless window ledges, piano tops, bathroom counters, and fireplace mantels to showcase my constantly expanding holiday decorations! My collection was big for a two bedroom apartment, but it's barely acceptable for a house this size, so I have many projects in mind for this season. NavyGuy and I won't be here the entire month of December, which means I have to get crackin' a little earlier than normal. We might bust out the decor this Friday, post Turkey day, and spruce up the joint. (The only decorating task I despise is putting the lights on the tree so NavyGuy graciously volunteers to do this each year... right hun? :)

The first project I tackled was one I found on Splitcoast Stampers, an online forum for stamping and paper crafts. The inspiration is pictured and explained here, but I chose to alter the folded paper loops version slightly. Not having an empty terra cotta pot, I opted to simply bend the papers slightly so the tree could sit flat. The star on top is simply four cut-out stars pinned together; some other great options would be ribbon bows or a small shiny ornament. What's great about these is that a) they can be customized to compliment any color scheme, b) they can be customized to any size foam tree you can find, and c) they're super duper easy! Can you fold paper? Can you stick pins through paper? Then you can make this holiday tree!

Stay tuned for more holiday trimmings!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shopping Sans Spending

Creating a wedding registry may be the only part of wedding planning that doesn't cost a couple financially. However, that's not to say the process won't cost a couple mentally or emotionally!

NavyGuy and I began the process today, registering for gifts at Macy's. I/We choose Macy's primarily for two reasons: they had the china pattern than I fell in love with approximately eight minutes after NavyGuy proposed, and there are lots of stores in Wisconsin which is where the majority of our guests live, so hopefully it will be easier for them. According to Karyn, our Macy's bridal consultant, approximately six months before your wedding is a good time to open registries. (In our case, we started now because my 'maids are throwing me a bridal shower over the Christmas holidays, and I was instructed by my matron of honor and wedding planner that as soon as the invites went out, I had better be registered because folks will start peeking.)

Honestly, our shopping spree was fairly uneventful, but that's mostly because a) I had picked out many things online ahead of time, b) NavyGuy and I have somewhat similar tastes when it comes to housewares, and c) NavyGuy tended to defer to me when there were any conflicts, knowing that the color of the guest bathroom shower curtain is infinitely more important to me than him. Yet, a post about gift registries wouldn't be complete without a few fun tidbits and tips for future couples:

1) Somehow we registered for four different napkin patterns, each of which we selected a different quantity (4/6/8/9?). (Who knows.) The problem was, my grand plan of keeping a clearly written checklist quickly fell by the wayside as we were trying to carry an electronic scanner, clipboard, pens, purse, cups of coffee, and still have hands free to grab items. I am going to attempt a different organization system when we got to the next store to register. Luckily, Macy's has a consultant talk through your list with you afterward (our lady was very nice and non-pushy thank goodness), so we caught the quantity discrepancies and other goofs we had on our registry.

2) The reason our registration process only took two hours was because I did my homework ahead of time. I researched products online (settle on a china pattern before you go, or for god's sake at least narrow it down, because otherwise you might as well just forward your mail to the fine china department), and did a comprehensive inventory of what we already had at home. This is especially critical for couples who are marrying later in life, have established households of their own, have already moved in together, or who are remarrying. Our registry was more about filling in gaps in our existing household goods, rather than "setting up house" for the first time. There are lots of helpful online lists of suggested items to register for; a few of the ones I found most helpful were Real Simple's list here, Farm and Fleet's list (don't snicker - they have a lot of useful stuff!) here, and a downloadable list from Wedding-Perfect. In the end, I typed up my own list combining items from all three.

3) Plan to be exhausted when you're done. Bring snacks. Near the end, my throat was scratchy, I had had to double-back for the clipboard which I'd inadvertently left on the flatware drawers, and we were both pretty convinced that there was not a single item left in the Macy's housewares department that either of us could ever want or use. Despite the work, registering is a fun part of the engagement where you and your fiance get to daydream about your life and home together after the wedding craziness subsides; the dishes you'll serve Christmas dinner on, the griddle you'll get out each Saturday morning to make pancakes, the towels you'll use to mop up the laundry room when the washer leaks - all the future memories.

What item would you suggest I be sure to have on our wedding registry? If you could register for your wedding again, what would you add to your list that you don't have originally?


Friday, November 21, 2008

T-Day Prep: Thanksgiving Placecards

Tonight I whipped out the placecards we'll need for Thanksgiving dinner (with a mixed crowd I figured it's safer to assign seats... and keep certain trouble-making boys away from certain other trouble-seeking boys... ahem).

I {heart} them, and am planning to write the names on their orange smocks (historygirlie - can we think of a better term for Pilgrim garb?), and possibly add a little embossing flair; there's a few other things still on the to-do list, and I suspect our guests would prefer clean bathrooms over embossed place cards... The original inspiration for these came from here, but I like my cheaper/more original version better (plus they're out of stock at the moment). I plumbed the depths of my Cricut creativity and created various pieces out of rectangles, circles, and even the letter C! (This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my Cricut.) Anyone else come up with a cute holiday placecard plan?


Thurday's Three Trips

Thursday unintentionally became "3 Trips to Oak Harbor" Day. A quick primer for those of you who are still flummoxed by the geography up here:

Whidbey Island has the city of Oak Harbor, naval base, most of my female friends
Fidalgo Island has Anacortes, our home, little else
Burlington has Target, Michaels, movie theater, civilization

Anacortes sits about in the middle between Oak Harbor and Burlington - approximately a 30 minute drive either way. I am still getting used to blocking off an hour (round trip) to get to my beloved Target. Alas, because of some ill-planned scheduling, I ended up making three separate trips down to Oak Harbor today. Happily, each round was either productive or fun or both!

Round #1 - doctor's appointment
No fears - I'm still hardy midwestern stock, I just needed to update prescriptions with my new doctor here in Washington. The appointment began on time, took exactly twelve minutes (score), and caused me to snort. Why the snort? This exchange:

Sassiest Nurse Ever: Is there any domestic abuse in your home?
Mugs: Ha. No.
Sassy Pants: That's good. Though, at least running away from a bat wielding son of a bitch can count as exercise.
Mugs: SNORT.

I didn't know whether to find her offensive, crass, or positively hilarious. (While domestic abuse is not a funny matter - her comment was funny!)

Round #2 - a lunch date with girlfriends
Chicken Teriyaki + funny ladies = smiles all around. One of my new Whidbey peeps (Miss B) gathered a few of us together to meet for lunch. She brought two new peeps that she had been hanging out with - and surprise surprise - in this small town area of the world where everyone knows everyone else somehow - I "knew" one of the girls! About halfway through lunch, we figured out that one of the girls owned the house that NavyGuy was living in in Pensacola! I met his old landlord! Good grief. (Luckily NavyGuy was a good tenant and it didn't get awkward.) We were both amused, and I was delighted to meet another unemployed teacher.

Round #3 - Stamp Club!
Oh, how I love thee :) My new stamping friend in Oak Harbor is a demonstrator for Stampin' Up (a marvelous stamp company that has already begun to siffon away me meager babysitting income), and she hosts a once monthly stamp club night, where she invites ladies to her home to create cards and other projects. Last night, we made three glittery sparkly Christmas cards and a cute ornament (I'll post pics later), and we had a great time getting glitter everywhere.

The gas tank may have taken a hit from all the travel, but it was worth it :)


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Goodbye Friend

I have sad news to report for all who know me personally - our dog Ebony is now in doggie heaven. Ebs was twelve, had been having leg/joint issues, skin issues, and weird cysts growing under her skin for some time, and this week everything got much worse. As of yesterday she couldn't stand or walk, and Mom knew the jig was up when Ebony wouldn't eat anything - even Cheerioes (which is like me turning down chocolate).

So, this morning Mom took her to the vet, and now she's playing frisbee in the sky somewhere. Those of you who knew this dog, knew she was a special one. Completely neurotic, totally untrainable, ill-behaved, scared of other dogs, dumber than most other mammals, yet a best friend. She used to steal anything soft she could get her mouth on (socks, scrunchies), she barked like a maniac at anything that moved, and would take her famous yellow frisbee and evacuate to the basement at the first crack of thunder. Even in her old age, she was impossible to take on a walk; she would tug at the lease the entire time, never once breaking despite how much the collar was choking her. Ebony lived a pampered life of comfort, claiming both couches, my bed, mom's bed, and any other space in the house she wanted; Queen Ebony reigned.

(The Queen sits on her throne. "What, Mom - I moved the pillows so I'd be comfy.")

That said, she was forgiving, understanding, unconditionally loving, and a great friend to everyone that she could lick. She was always waiting by the door whenever I got home (and she often got me in trouble coming home slightly past curfew in high school), and throughout college, my first working years, and some rough times, she was also there, curled up at the end of the couch, looking at me as if to say, "Hey it's all okay!!!! Everything will work out!!! You know what will cheer you up!!!! Playing outside and having treats!!!" I could never turn down her request to share my little twin bed, even if it meant I would be sleeping crunched up on half the bed.

(Romping in the snow with her favorite toy.)

Ebby, I hope you're eating lots of Cheerios and catching lots of frisbees - love you lots fart dog. :)


Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Upcoming Holiday Movies To Know
1. Twilight - the popular vampire book turned film.
2. Four Christmases - Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaugh comedy.
3. Doubt - Meryl Streep, the Catholic church, and her 14th Oscar nomination all in one.
4. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett fantasy
5. Frost/Nixon - historical interviews after Nixon resigned (history geek's thriller).
6. Australia - Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, war epic from the guy who made Moulin Rouge.
7. Milk - Sean Penn, the story of the first openly gay politician.
8. Marley and Me - dog story with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
9. Revolutionary Road - Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet (sans the boat).
10. Nothing But the Truth - Will Smith flick that Oprah already "loves."

Books on My Nightstand
1. The World is Flat - Thomas Friedman
2. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer
3. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski
4. Ladies of Liberty - Cokie Roberts
5. Summer Sisters - Judy Blume

Upcoming Events I'm Jazzed For
1. First Annual Anacortes Thanksgiving Family Fest 2008
2. registering for wedding gifts
3. NavyGuy getting his new cell phone
4. no more whining from NavyGuy about when his new cell phone is going to come out
5. no more being forced to read or watch or listen to information about his new cell phone
6. lunch at Kevin's Sushi and Grill (yum yum chicken teriyaki)


HP Trailer Three

For your viewing pleasure...

Seriously! How am I supposed to wait until July 2009 for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? This is just cruel Warner Brothers - cruel indeed.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Holiday Votives

In designing a fantastic fall table for Thanksgiving dinner next week, I wanted to find a way to dress up some simple glass candle votives that I found at Michael's. What I came up with is based off of this article on WeddingBee (a bridal blog where lots of different brides share their wedding planning and DIY projects). Miss Emerald, the blogger who posted the article, decorated 144 votives with vellum (thin, transparent paper) for her wedding; dinner guests have no fear! Our Thanksgiving table will not be loaded down with a gross of candles!

Even though I didn't devote the time and energy to jazzing up that quantity, I still used Miss Emerald's directions to decorate several votives. The directions are pretty clear, so I'm not going to run through them again here (see the linked article if you'd like to try out this easy project), but I have included some photos to explain the materials I used and how I put everything together.

Here are all the supplies I used. I used double-sided regular paper as opposed to vellum, so that you can see the patterned back side of the paper through the glass. The white sheet of paper in the photo is a template that I created by taping a scrap piece of paper around the candle and tracing the top and the bottom (the candle tapers slightly from top to bottom, so you have to do this part carefully). The red ring pictured is a product called tacky tape (available at most craft stores), which is a more permanent adhesive than regular scotch tape or a tape runner, and you can use it to make sure the paper doesn't pop open when the candle heats up. You also need scissors and a pencil.

Here is the candle with the paper cover created. All I did was put a piece of tacky tape on one seam of the paper, wrap it around the candle, and then overlap the ends of the paper where the tacky tape is; that way, the paper cover can actually be slid on and off of the votive (so I can change them up for Christmas, Valentine's Day... yeah, I was pretty impressed with myself when I thought of that little trick :)And here is one that I made using vellum paper. You can see in the photo that when the candle is lit, it glows through the vellum (the Thanksgiving ones I made with regular paper won't glow quite like that because the paper is thick; I still think they look pretty nifty).


Monday, November 17, 2008

Suggested Surfing

With the amount of time I spend wandering through the webworld, I figured I should put my travels to good use and share some sites that might interest segments of my reading population :)

Gluten Free Mommy
I stumbled upon this one while searching for a good photo of the apple crisp I discussed here. A long time friend of mine is a victim of celiac's disease, a nasty illness which makes wheat Public Enemy #1 (gluten is the fancy word for wheat). Over years of trial and error she's learned which foods she can safely eat, but whenever I run across a good gluten-free source for her, I feel the need to pass it on. This blog is a collection of easy gluten-free recipes - there's also tons of links to other bloggers with a similar passion. Miss Kewi - bon apetite!

NavyGuy and I have nine banking accounts. We also have three credit cards. I know this may be a few more than most couples, but as engaged peoples, we're still in the process of combining our finances, so somehow between the two of us we have checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts - you'd think for all the accounts we have we'd have more money! (Hah... sad laugh.) Okay, so even for the rest of you who have a less complex financial situation, can be a lifesaver. The website basically keeps track of all of your financial information - income, spending, credit card debt, loans, whatever! You input your account information (it passed NavyGuy's tough online security test, so don't fret), and then it magically keeps everything updated and organized. So far we mostly use the website as a one-stop safety valve for our accounts (hmm... which account can I pay the water bill with?), but it can organize your financial information to help you create and stick to a budget. The biggest selling point for this website is that it's free, unlike many other money managing software programs (ex. Quicken). It's also accessible anywhere (meaning you can check your accounts at home, work, vacation, etc.) I included a screen shot below; it's very user-friendly and customizable.

There's lots more information on their website, and many other bloggers have reviewed it more intelligently; mostly, I wanted to alert those of you who are looking for ways to keep a better handle on your money.

Their catchphrase is "stylish celebrity escapism" which I think is college-speak for "tabloid gossip with pictures." For those of you who'd rather read People than the Washington Post, this site is a grand way to get Hollywood gossip. Each article includes witty analysis along with the original source for the tittilating news about Paris, Tyra, Ashlee, or Russell Simmons (all of whom are on the front page today). They tend to get more of the offbeat news that isn't covered in many of the other mainstream publications; you have to appreciate the random bits of scuttlebut.

Holiday Mail for Heroes
I know the economy isn't great this year, and everyone is going to be looking for ways to cut back and save money. I'm going to start my campaign right now to make sure than two things don't fall by the wayside: 1) donations to charities and 2) holiday cards. Donations to charities don't have to come in the form of lots of money, and neither do holiday cards. (Look for future rants on all the ways you can frugally participate in these traditions.) Anyway, my point is that this website will give you the mailing address and all the information you need to send a Christmas card to a military servicemember or veteran (two birds, one stone). The Red Cross is trying to distribute one million cards, and they even have a link where you can print out a card. The full instructions are listed on the site, and there's also information about how to make other types of donations to soldiers (gift cards, care packages, etc.). If you're already making or getting Christmas cards, how hard would it be to add one more to the list? Teachers - how many of you need a quick 20 minute time filler or sub activity? Kids make great holiday cards. I doubt soldiers will be too picky about spelling or artistic ability :)


The name is following me...

The film The Nanny Diaries had been on my radar for some time. I read the book several summers ago and was excited when Netflix delivered it last week. Scarlett Johansson plays a nanny for an upper east side dysfunctional family. Can you guess what her character's name is?


Good lord.

Aside from that, it is a fun, easy to digest movie. Good for a Friday night after a long week when you just want to relax and not have to spin your brain too hard.


T-Day Prep: Day 10

Two more items checked off the list - mashed potatoes and one dessert.

I know mashed potatoes are super easy, but I've never made them before, so I wanted to make sure there weren't any hidden obstacles (like say, an inability to peel potatoes or something). Lo and behold, I don't need to worry about any of that, because NavyGuy (aka mashed potato dictator) pulled off a non-violent coup d'etat in the kitchen last night and took power of the mashed potato making. I merely asked him to help peel potatoes because I was falling behind, and next thing I know - he's complaining about my attempts to drain the potatoes, fretting over the fact that they aren't "done" enough, and wielding the masher like a weapon! Oh, and I dared to use milk instead of heavy cream, AND I like my mashed potatoes with a few lumps left in for texture (as opposed to the liquidy, beaten-within-an-inch-of-their-life, baby food consistency that NavyGuy prefers). So, now that I haven't practiced making mashed potatoes, NavyGuy is going to have to leave his deep fried turkey long enough to come help with the starch. Good grief. We had a nice division of labor going on (Adam Smith would have been eternally proud), but now the whole system has gone to pot.

At least my dessert turned out splendid. One of my cousin's made a heavenly apple crisp at Thanksgiving last year; determined to find an easier way to make it though, I abandoned her honest to goodness homemade recipe and searched for something that would save me time and energy, while not sacrificing too much taste.

Voila! I present, Easy Apple Crisp (and after further intenet searching - Even Easier Apple Crisp!).

- 4-5 medium baking apples (I have no clue which apples are "baking" - I bought the ones on sale at the store. They were redish-greenish, and tasted good.)
- 1 T lemon juice
- 2 T granulated sugar
- 1 T flour
- 1 t ground cinnamon
- 1 pkg oatmeal raisin cookie dough (the package of frozen stuff)

1) Preheat oven to 325 F. Spray 8 in baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2) Peel, core, and slice the apples. (My process - carefully peel with a sharp knife, then use an apple slicer to cut each into 8 pieces, then use the knife to slice each of the pieces smaller.)
3) Combine all of the ingredients except the cookie dough in a large bowl. Then put the apple mixture into the baking pan.
4) Crumble the cold cookie mixture on top. (I added a little more cinnamon on top just to make it fancier :).
5) Bake for 40-45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I love this recipe because I looooove apple crisp, but making the mixture and the topping from scratch is just too much work. So, cheating and using the premade dough is a lifesaver. It tasted amazing - I served it with vanilla ice cream. You could also add caramel sauce to put it over the top :) [Recipe from Christine Moore, Little Flower Candy Co., Pasadena]


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekend Update...

Time again for another edition of my weekend update. Let me forewarn ya'll - it wasn't amazing. If I could sum up the entire weekend in one word it would be "underwhelming."

NavyGuy and I were psyched to see the new Bond flick on Friday night. (Okay, he was psyched to see Bond girls and fast cars; I was psyched to see Daniel Craig in, or out, of a tuxedo.) Either way, we were both disappointed. The movie was drastically underwhelming in terms of plot, and Bond was only shirtless for a short scene. Bah. It was also a hot mess because our movie night with a few friends morphed into a thirty person expedition with confusion over tickets and saving rows of seats while angry moviegoers glared. Bah.

Saturday was spent searching for a decent mall in our part of the world. I'll tell you the end of the story now - it doesn't exist. I used to complain about the dearth of stores in the Fond du Lac mall - hah! Had I only known the mecca I was living near all those years. NavyGuy, myself, and a flight school friend drove an hour south hoping to hit a big mall in a northern Seattle suburb. Alas, we found a disappointing selection of jewelry kiosks, hippie wear stores, and coffee carts, bookended by a scarse Macy's and Sears. I miss Ann Taylor. I miss Anthropologie. And Archivers, Barnes and Noble, White House Black Market, New York and Company... okay, I'll stop now. Bah. Pooptastic mall.

Saturday evening was marginally better, but the fun Body Shop home party that I went to was ruined by my migraine and tempermental stomach (also by a woman discussing how she was excited to breast feed so that her uterus would shrink faster). I was home by 8:30pm, NavyGuy and I were in bed by 9:45pm, and that was Saturday night. Rockin'.

Today consisted of grocery shopping, a failed bath (the jets in our fancy dancy tub ended up not working so instead of soaking in a relaxing bubbling bath, I sat in my own lukewarm filth for ten minutes before surrendering to a shower instead), and a coffee grinder purchase. What did I say before?

Oh yes - underwhelming.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Jingle Bells

How do I know Christmas is coming?

Gap Holiday Commercial. (Rainn Wilson and the Dixie Chicks may not be Currier and Ives, but it does make me excited for Christmas... and sweaters... ah Gap, you've won again.)

P.S. Can you name the other celebrities in the spot?

P.P.S. No mother, I'm not getting any money from Gap to play their commercial. It just makes me happy :)


Thursday, November 13, 2008


I've been catching up on some blogs that I've fallen behind on and I found this video in a military wife's blog:


I smiled through misty eyes - how could anyone not?


Mary Poppins would never have put up with this shiznit.

I love discovering that I am more mature than someone else. It's even sweeter when that person is older than me. I showed up on time at Chad the Dad's house this morning, since I never heard back from him as to whether he wanted me to come today or not. A recreation for you (with the exact transcript):

Knock, knock. Door opens. Chad the Dad glares at me and doesn't say anything for a few seconds. "Oh, you're here." "Well, yes, I didn't get an email back from you, so I wasn't sure..." "We aren't going to invest anymore time in you." Door starts to close. "Okaaay...?"

What?!? Are you kidding me?!?! That's how you're dealing with the situation - ignore a perfectly polite email, force a person to drive 45 minutes unnecessarily, then act rudely to them? I'm sorry - are you a 3rd grader? Good grief. No, I take that back - 3rd graders don't deserve that slam. Well, Chad the Dad, I am done with you and your crazy family. I am taking my pride and my REAL name, and heading out the door.



Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Argh! Chad the Dad didn't return my email. Did he get the email but choose to be spiteful and not respond, forcing me to show up at their house tomorrow and explain myself? Did he get the email but choose to play dumb and act like he didn't get it, so that he can force me to reshingle his roof and clean his bathroom tile grout with a toothbrush tomorrow? Did the email get lost in cyberspace, so he has no clue that I won't be working for him after tomorrow, and I have to show up and explain the whole thing to him in person? Argh.

On top of that, I forgot to call my Grandma today and it was her birthday and by the time I remembered it was too late because of the time zone ridiculousness and now I have to wait until tomorrow to call.


Except for the great visit from my college roomie, it's been an argh kind of day.


Guest Blogger of Sorts

I thought I would share this email I received from TWP yesterday. She has an 11 month old little girl (my goddaughter :), and apparently, they had a day. I'm sharing because a) it cracked me up, b) I like to showcase my hilarious friends, and c) it reminded me yet again how grateful I am to only be a godmother, and not actually a mother (which makes me think of the quip: "Always a godmother, never a god."). Anyway, here's the email I received:

To: Mugs
From: TWP
Subject: Things I Never Thought I'd Say...

1) Is that puke in your hair?!?!??!
2) Sit still so I can get that booger out of your nose!
3) Is that poop in your hand?!?!?!
4) Don't spit in mommy's mouth!
5) Mommy is not a jungle gym!
6) Quit licking the dog!
7) If you're going to crawl under the table repeatedly, you're going to bump your head. You need to learn that!!!!
8) Stop letting the dog lick you in the mouth!
9) Don't touch mommy's special sauce!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Diet Coke)

Later, I'll post my reply to the email. TWP - love always, I'll send vodka soon.



Awww... I knew you guys would give me good advice (e.g. Run Annie Run!) concerning my Mary Poppins nightmare. I just emailed the dad (we'll call him Chad the Dad) and explained that I had received other job offers in town that would be better for my schedule and gas tank, and that I'd no longer be able to sit for the girls. I offered to still come on Thursday like we'd discussed, but we'll see how he responds. Hopefully he'll be understanding (and maybe he'll start to rethink his penchant for renaming employees).

Thanks for the lightning quick and thoughtful responses!

P.S. I have an interview today for a different babysitting job in town, so my email wasn't totally a lie - and yes, I've learned my lesson. I confirmed with the mom ahead of time that there will be no vacuuming or toilet scrubbing or car waxing or landscaping involved. And I'll get to keep my name.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nanny or Maid?

Alright - you guys decide (based on the list of tasks below) which job description would be more appropriate:

- picking up toys
- dusting
- swiffering kitchen floor
- feeding baby
- moving furniture
- watching toddler sit on dad's lap
- vacuuming
- folding twelve bins of baby clothes

How many of you said maid? Cuz, that's how I'd describe my first full day of "nanny-ing." This family (the one who renamed me Annie the Nanny) would be better off calling me Annie the Maid (or Jade the Maid). The list of items above is what I did all day Monday. I spent more time cleaning than I did caring for children, mostly because the toddler is scared of me. I did not realize that "light housework" would entail so much heavy lifting! My back was screaming by the time I got home from shoving furniture around the playroom and livingroom so I could vacuum every square inch of carpet while the kids slept. Mom and Dad are home all day so the toddler never wants to leave their side, and they don't force her to interact with me. The baby has no problems with me, but she sleeps all the time - leaving me lots more cleaning time. Oh goody...

Seriously - has anyone else ever been expected to do this much housework as a nanny? I really thought the main priority would be taking care of their kids so they could get work done. Picking up toys and maybe doing a few dishes here and there was the most housework I was expecting. Thoughts? I'm not sure my back (and self-esteem) can take much more of this...

(Plus, how weird is it that they changed my name? Or that the dad jokingly - I hope - offered to show me the home video of the wife's C-section?!?!)


Turkey "Hunting"

Setting: Our house, this afternoon.

NavyGuy: Hark woman! I am caveman. I have left the cave and tracked down a wild bird to feast on at Thanksgiving!

Mugs: What?

NavyGuy: I have done my manly duty of hunter/gatherer and secured a turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner!

Mugs: Seriously, did you hit your head?

NavyGuy: Bird! Turkey! I procured meat for my family! (grunting)

Mugs: So let me get this straight - as a "manly caveman hunter" you called the meat shop, told another man to go out and get a turkey, kill it, pluck it, and pull out its innards, after which you will brave the dangerous streets of downtown to retrieve it days before Thanksgiving.

NavyGuy: Well, I'll probably drink a beer while I cook it.

Mugs: There's your inner caveman.


Monday, November 10, 2008

A Scarecrow Friend

Here's the final stamping project from my craft night a few weeks back. The hostess (Michelle) had previously made these small stand up boxes designed as pumpkins, but she managed to create a new design for a scarecrow. I love the shading we did around the edges, the teeny bird on his hat, and there's even a small piece of checkerboard fabric added to the back to look like a patch on his outfit. We used a diecut machine to create the front and back pieces, but I think I've figured out a way to replicate those using my Cricut. The eyes and nose are just layers of paper, and the mouth and other black details are all handdrawn with a marker. Very adorable for fall, and you could put a few small candies in the box portion.

I'm going to see if I can duplicate the idea and create a couple Christmas styles - maybe a snowman or a reindeer? (Not like I need any more Christmas decorations - the movers were appalled when they filled our entire crawl space just with boxes of Christmas decorations!) We'll see if my creative juices get flowing this week...


T-Day Prep: Day 17

Today's mission: test drive maple glazed carrots.

Results: moderate success.

So apparently, creating a glaze for vegetables is not as easy as Real Simple magazine would have you believe. I have listed the recipe and directions below, because it is good (and relatively simple), but I've added my own comments and tips where necessary, to save other novice cooks from suffering as I did.

Maple Glazed Carrots - Real

3 pounds carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick on the diagonal
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and black pepper

In a large skillet, combine the carrots, syrup, butter, 1/3 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. I didn't use a full 3 pounds of carrots, so I can't vouch for the proportions.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring once, until the carrots are tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze, 12 to 15 minutes. (If the carrots are tender before the liquid has thickened, uncover, increase heat to medium-high, and cook until the liquid forms a glaze.) I followed these directions exactly, and the liquid had not reduced to a glaze whatsoever after 15 minutes. The carrots weren't to the point of mush, so I upped the heat a lot and stirred continuously. This was based on my quick research in my Joy of Cooking book. After about five more minutes, the liquid had thickened enough to satisfy me.

So, despite my glazing difficulties, the recipe was a success - and will be showing up on our Thanksgiving buffet! :)


Sunday, November 9, 2008


Huh? A wedding post about STDs? For those of you whose minds went straight to ninth grade health class and are trying to remember what "the clap" is a nickname for (oh, is that just me?) - get your minds out of the gutter people! STDs = Save the Dates in wedding speak, and the deadline is rapidly approaching for a decision.

Here's the problem - I love all things paper (Hi, my name is Mugs, and I'm a paper-a-holic). So, for most people, what is a small detail that can quickly be checked off the to-do list, is for me, a monumental decision, potentially charting a basic course for the invitations, and setting the overall tone for the entire wedding! (Insert high pitched hysterics here.) I've perused every known website, debated whether I should make them myself, changed directions fourteen times, and driven NavyGuy and TWP (my volunteer wedding planner) completely bonkers with my indecisiveness. I know it shouldn't be this big of a deal; aside from my mother and a few close friends, most people will look at it, throw it in a pile, and unearth it months later when they attempt to clean their kitchen countertops. It's merely a convenience for people - considering our wedding is on a holiday weekend, we want to give folks a heads up about the date. No one is going to hold this choice against me (as opposed to say if they hate the food at the wedding or think my dress is ghastly... as if), and yet, I am still waffling.

So, I'm going to share some of my favorite options that I've found online. I'm hoping once I actually see them all together, it will help me decide. I've divided the options into categories for your ease of viewing :)

Photo Cards
Do It Yourself (DIY) CardsGut reactions? Are there any that make you queasy? Any of the options that you despise, find tacky, or generally hate more than life itself?


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Weekend Update...

~ The turkey fryer has been purchased. A swimming pool sized vat of oil was also purchased. Interestingly, a fire extinguisher has not yet been obtained.

~ Saw Eagle Eye, (because Role Models was sold out). I don't care what nonsense Shia LeBouf gets into in real life, he's marvelous on screen. The movie is a "Big Brother" is watching type thriller, and I've been paranoid about using my cell phone ever since.

~ T-day prep continues. Battled mobs of towel bargain hunters at the closing Linens and Things store in Burlington to get table linens for the meal, and scored a few decor deals from Michael's and Target.

~ Finished my Thanksgiving cards. Come rain, sleet, snow, or landslide - they'll be in the mail by next week.

~ Waffling over my / our Save the Date design. Debate rages over whether I should make them myself, whether they should include a photo, etc., etc., etc. Feel free to throw more opinions into the pot.

Anyone have a less exciting weekend? :)


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Online Shopping Tip

Wow! Did I just score big time! So, I'm been a huge fan of American Eagle Favorite Pants since discovering them last fall, and proceeding to purchase pairs in navy, khaki, and black. I happened to be checking out their website today (after our power was restored... storm... power outage... cranky Mugs... end of story), and lo and behold - they had the pants on sale! Fantastic :) (I need new pants because a) the pairs I bought last fall don't fit, b) if I get this nanny job, I probably can't wear sweatpants there, and c) they have a new color - tobaggan! See left.)

But wait - it gets better! I had heard that sometimes you can google a store name and the word "coupon" and find special discount codes that you can enter at the online checkout, to get a percentage off or free shipping. Heck yeah - I snagged 20% off my $50 order! Pants that used to cost 40 dollars, only ended up costing me $23.50. I {heart} the internet.

Here's a couple of the common coupon collection sites that came up in my search:,,

Anyone else have tricks to getting deals when they purchase something online?


Book Review: Such a Pretty Fat

Such a Pretty Fat; One Narcissist's Quest to Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie is Not the Answer
Jen Lancaster

c2008 Penguin Books, 400 pgs.

The third in Lancaster's trio of memoirs pokes fun at her weight loss struggle. She spends the first quarter of the book accepting her obesity, but refusing to address it constructively; the next two quarters test-driving today's popular diet plans; and the final quarter being irritatingly upbeat about running on a treadmill. This book seems to be a bit of a departure from her previous two, in that there's less plot and less funny. Less plot I can deal with, if it's bolstered with significant funny. But most of her quips in this book revolved solely around hating exercise or loving cheese; she offered nothing new in terms of funny fitness stories. Pants splitting whilst lunging? Check. Falling off the wagon with some fattening, unhealthy foods? Check. Getting stuck with a perfectly fit, Barbie-esque trainer? Check. It all just felt too predictable.

Not that I think any of it was disingenuous - quite the contrary. Lancaster may be given to some hyperbole, but I do believe she struggled along the way; unfortunately for readers, that struggle just wasn’t as hilarious as we’ve come to expect from her.

I have included a few snippets that made me laugh/snort, because the book is not entirely without its merits. If you’re a fan already, I’m sure you’ll find the book somewhat entertaining; however, if you haven’t read any of her others, start with Bitter is the New Black to get a real taste of funny.

[On her friend's ability to multi-task]: Over the summer we chatted one night while Angie stripped a bed, changed wet sheets, comforted and repajamed a toddler, and chased down a car of speeding teenagers while shaking a brick at them, never once interrupting the conversation or setting down her margarita. The only reason this woman isn't president of General Motors is because she's chosen not to be.

[On telling her mother she'd be spending her book royalty check repaying student loan debt]: ... when I told my mom about finally taking care of this debt, she said, "You're just like that Osama fellow," which... what? I said I had no idea what she was talking about and she replied, "You know, your Illinois senator - Senator Osama. When he got his book deal, the first thing he did was pay off his student loans." I told her if she couldn't differentiate between the terrorist Osama bin Laden and the Democratic senator Barack Obama, she may want to taper back on her 24/7 FOX News viewing.

[While waiting in the doctor's office]: After cleaning my hands again, I pull out my book and begin to read, having learned the hard way that the doctor's computer cannot be used to access my Gmail. In my defense, they shouldn't have left me bored and shivering shirtless on a cold metal table for half an hour that one time.

[Dowloading workout music]: The Spice Girls... my secret shame. Fletch [hubbie] isn't supposed to know I like them. Kind of like how he's not supposed to know I put deodorant on every part of my body that bends, creases, or folds (my back fat is April fresh!), or that I lie when I say I rinsed off the tip of the whipped cream container after I squirted it into the dog's mouths.

[Upon viewing her Jenny Craig dinner]: The plastic over the tub was covered in frost when I put it in, and I couldn't tell the portion size. Now that it's cooked, I see that my dinner is equal to the amount of meat, pasta, and sauce normally stuck to the side of the pan when I craft my own Alfredo...

[Email to clothing retailer]: When your plus-sized customer orders three pairs of extra-extra-large gym shorts online, do you really think two pairs of XXL shorts and one 32 Barely A training bra is the most appropriate substitution? Attached you will find a photograph of me wearing this bra on my head because it is the only part of my body that it fits.

If the whole reading thing is a little too much effort for today, check out this video promo for the book.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Playing Catch-Up

Before I fall too far behind in my blogging, I thought I would catch up on what's been happening around here the last few days.

Last night, I had a babysitting job for a 14 month old while her parents were going to be gone to an election night event. When I arrived at their house, the baby was already asleep, so I basically just had to make sure the house didn't burn down around her. Which was fine, because I really wanted to camp out on the couch and watch election returns, but of course, I managed to stick my foot in my mouth before the parents had even left. The dad and I were chatting in the livingroom while mom finished getting ready, and I was trying to make small talk, so I asked him what he did. He modestly explained that he had a position with an energy company, and also served in the Washington State House of Representatives. Ooops. Guess I should have read the names on that ballot a little more closely.... (turns out I did vote for him, and he won overwhelmingly, but he probably thought I was the most obtuse, unaware person around.)

Additionally, he kept telling me about how they did "baby sign" with their daughter, which I assumed to be regular sign language, but for babies. I didn't want to ask if the baby was deaf, because it felt rude, but I was thinking: "Crap. The kid's asleep. How will I know if she's actually deaf or if I just misheard him? Maybe I could go in her room and make some clucking noises and see if she stirs. Oh jeez, how do I get myself into these ridiculous situations." Luckily, I was talking with my mom later while they were gone and happened to mention this dilemma. To her credit, she did not laugh for more than a minute at my unawareness; apparently, "baby sign" is a new communication trend that parents are using with their babies. Before they actually learn to talk, the babies are taught a few basic signs (more, milk, etc.), so that they can communicate better. Having no children myself, I'll refrain from venturing too far into this hot button child-rearing issue; here is the official website - feel free to develop your own opinion. Anyway, long story short, it was a good babysitting job except for the tiny social gaffes. :)

Today was spent interviewing for another babysitting job. If it pans out, it'll be more of a 3-days a week nanny position for two young girls. The only weirdness afoot is that their youngest daughter has the exact same name as me (even spelled the same!). So, the parents would prefer to call me by my middle name to avoid confusion, therefore I would become "Annie the Nannie." For the hourly rate they offered though, I'd let the kids call me dirt. I should hear back from them tomorrow or Friday - cross your fingers! I might have some income again :)

The remainder of the day was spent running errands in Mt. Vernon. NavyGuy needed some unmentionables (underpants... tee hee hee... why don't they make Superman tighty-whiteys in adult sizes?), and so that's how I ended up in the men's department of Macy's with an 85 year old man perusing the boxer briefs. (Ew.) I also saw an old woman pushing a dog... in a stroller... with the dog actually strapped into said stroller. People who go to the mall on a Wednesday afternoon are odd.

Where were you when you heard the election results? What were you doing? I was sitting in the basement of a local Washington politician's home, wondering if his daughter would hear me if I screamed.


Yes We Can

Watch history here:

Celebrate here:

Is it too obvious I'm not only excited about the results, but also excited that I figured out how to insert videos?


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Seriously, that's all I've been saying all day. I am psyched about election night! The only hiccup in my perfect plan to snuggle up in front of a fire with my computer and my NBC news team came in the form of a last minute babysitting job offer. Luckily, the little one goes to bed around 7pm, so I should be able to keep the TV volume low and still watch (yes, I honestly considered turning down the job, but then I seemed to remember hearing something on the news about a bad economy... and how people are desperate for work...)

Hope you all are enjoying the excitement!!!! (yes, I know I'm a dork.)


Election Day Funny


Monday, November 3, 2008

T-Day Prep: Day 23

Today's menu taste test was a sweet potato recipe. I, not being a fan of the item in question, went searching for a sweet potato recipe that might make me a believer. NavyGuy loves sweet potatoes - loves them - so I needed something that would meet high standards.

Sadly, my first attempt will not be showcased on the T-Day buffet. I found this recipe on, for pineapple sweet potatoes (doesn't it look yummy?). All of the reviews made it sound easy and delicious, plus I already had most of the necessary ingredients. However, after a trip through Safeway, I realized I had absolutely no clue what a sweet potato looked like; I thought they were orange, but the only ones I found in the produce section looked yellow when I "accidentally" snapped one in half. Everything orange colored was labeled a yam, and in stupid decision number eight for the day, I didn't think to consult with one of the nice produce guys restocking lettuce to find out whether yams were just another name for sweet potatoes.*

Well, long story short, the recipe did not work. The yellow sweet potatoes did not soften up enough in the oven, so I ended up taking them out of the oven after the required cooking time and mashing them up with the pineapple and brown sugar sauce. NavyGuy, Roomie #2, and myself all vetoed it, though Roomie #1 declared it delicious and preceeded to eat as much of it as possible (straight out of the glass Pyrex dish by the way), so I guess 1 out of 4 ain't bad. However, as NavyGuy is such a fan of the weird vegetable, I am determined to figure out a way to make them edible. [Photo: (left) orange sweet potatoes, (right) yellow sweet potatoes)]

I can't bear to peel another batch of sweet potatoes already tomorrow though, so next up is a maple glazed carrot recipe from this month's Real Simple. Wish me luck!

*After extensive internet research and consultation with my Joy of Cooking book, I have unearthed the following information: there are two varieties of sweet potatoes. Say what?!? Yellow sweet potatoes are drier, orange sweet potatoes are eroneously called yams in North America (so my confusion at the grocery store today was TOTALLY not my fault in the least). Orange sweet potatoes are sweeter than the yellow variety, so they're much more common. True yams are more often found in Latin American and the Caribbean; they have purple or red flesh, and can grow to as large as seven feet long! So, in short - if you want to make a sweet potato recipe, you will probably need to buy what's labeled "yams" in the grocery store. Lesson learned. You're wlecome.


Civic Duty? Check.

So, because the state of Washington vows to make it easier for people to vote (and thereby take away all the fun of actually going to your polling place, actually standing in the voting booth, and actually getting the "I Voted!" sticker), most everyone here votes by mail. Yes, I understand the advantages of doing it this way, but that doesn't mean I was happy about it.

[Doesn't NavyGuy look thrilled to have participated in a 200 year old democratic tradition?]

Hence, when NavyGuy and I sat down at the dining room table last night to fill out our ballots (completely obscuring any sense of secrecy), I was ready. Earlier in the day, through a little computer/scrapbooking magic, I had made our own "I Voted" stickers! We went through our ballots, choosing completely opposite candidates in most cases, and even took the time to check the handy dandy "Skagit County Voter's Guide" that arrived with our ballots, whenever we reached a race that didn't clearly label the Democratic candidate or Republican candidate. I had fun reading from the voters guide and trying to convince NavyGuy to vote for a candidate based on solid reasoning such as, "his mustache is wicked!" or "no way - no candidate who's married to a woman named Merva, that's just wrong", and he had fun, well... I guess he had fun when we were done and I could stop threatening to steal his ballot and fill in a straight Green Party ticket :)

[Yes. I actually made a voting sticker. And yes, I did wear the sticker for the rest of the evening.]

Now that the actual work is over, all I have to do is wait for tomorrow to arrive, and stock up for my NBC news election night marathon. Politics, pundits, high drama, Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw - what more could a girl ask for in one night? (Well, if wishing made it so, Tim Russert would be there, but I know he'll be watching from a better place, trusty white board in hand.) How excited are you to go vote? Are you planning on watching any of the coverage of the returns or are you boycotting? Who's going to admit they're mostly just excited for the campaign advertising to be over in about 36 hours?


Sunday, November 2, 2008

T-Day Prep: Day 24

As of Monday morning, I have 24 days to put together the first annual Northwest Turkey Day Extravaganza (from here on out known as T-Day). First priority - food. It doesn't matter how cute the decor is or how clean the bathrooms are if the food is sub-par. As it stands, NavyGuy is taking care of the bird and the liquor, his mom is handling stuffing, my mom is handling the green jello pineapple rings and a salad, and that leaves me to cover appetizers, the remaining side dishes, and desserts.

So far, I'm confident in my crab dip and beer dip appetizers. That's it. Leaving, some non-cream-cheese-based appetizers, mashed potatoes, rolls, a couple more veggies, gravy, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and whatever else I'm forgetting! So the next task on the list is to do an in-depth scan of all the best magazines (Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, Cooking Light) and internet sites (Food Network, Martha Stewart) to round up recipes that meet one or more of my important T-day requirements:

~ involves less than 10 ingredients
~ can be prepped or cooked ahead of time
~ does not include a food processor
~ excludes obscure cooking directions (e.g. chiffonade, liaison, quadriller, spatchcock - all real culinary terms, I swear - look 'em up)
~ guarantees delectable results

Feel free to pass along suggestions. I've already received some good pie recommendations from Auntie T (thank you!), and I'm hoping to get the menu settled by the end of the week, so I can move on to other tasks.


Stampin' Up!

Last night I was able to go to a Stampin' Up party, hosted by a Navy wife in Oak Harbor. (All of my time spent surfing the web for contacts in the Whidbey Island area paid off!) Stampin' Up is a craft company that focuses on stamping (duh) and paper crafts. After playing with their toys for several hours (and hanging out with some fabulous, funny, creative ladies), I luv Stampin' Up, and will be devoting all of my extra pennies to amassing a collection of their products. (NavyGuy is tickled pink about this turn of events.)

I have to show off the projects we created. My hostess/demonstrator Michelle gets credit for all of these ideas. (Editor's Note: The photo quality on these pictures is not great. My camera is acting up and my photography assistant was unable to lend me his camera as he was busy studying facts about missiles. Hopefully in the future, I'll be using a fancier camera so the images show up better on the computer and allow you to see the details better.)

This card has a simple color scheme, but lots of cute details. We used a die cut machine called The Big Shot (insert heavenly music here), to cut out the shapes of the purses. Then each purse got dazzled up with a little embellishment. The sentiment at the bottom of the card says "You're absolutely fabulous."
Check out those leaves! I wish there was a way you could touch the leaves through the computer screen, because the photo doesn't come close to doing justice. You can see they look sort of shiny and cracked - we used a "cracked glass" technique which involved several levels of special embossing powder, then letting the embossed cut-outs chill in the freezer for a half an hour. After that, you actually just bend the shapes and make them crack. They turned out very cool, and I like the different color scheme for a fall card.

These two birthday cards use the same cupcake stamp set (how much do you love the cupcake tower stamp!), and a watercolor painting technique to color in the stamps. You use a tool called a blender pen, which is a pen that soaks up some ink from an ink pad. You "paint" with the pen until you need more ink. So after you've finished one color, you just rub the pen on some scrap paper until it colors clear, and then you can start with a different color. (It made sense when I was doing it.) Anyway, if you zoom in on the cards, you can see then that the coloring shows up with more shades and nuances.

The last card we made used a stamp set that I'd been lusting after for a few weeks online and hadn't been able to justify purchasing... yet. The tree is one stamp, and then you fill in the outside with different colors of the leaf stamp. The bird is cut out and attached to the paper with a dimensional so it pops off the card a bit, and the sentiment at the bottom says, "The season of friendship lasts forever." I think colors and the stamp design are beautiful.

We did make one other super duper project, but I'm going to make you all wait. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to incorporate it into my decorating plan for Thanksgiving, and if so, I want it to be a surprise for my guests. (Don't worry - I'm sure I'll cave and post it soon. Lord knows I lack all patience :)

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