Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reds... Oranges... Yellows....

The colors of fall... right in my own back yard!





Hope you are having a beautiful fall day too!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I LOVE SUNDAYS!!!

Ok, there is really nothing better to me than a great Sunday at home.  Why, you may ask?  Well, here are the reasons:

1) It is a cloudy, cool and slightly rainy Fall day here.  I LOVE these kind of days.  (And because of the rain, no yard work or outdoor chores to do!  Yippee!)

2) The aroma of my house is of the freshly baked Apple Crisp below.  Warm, appley, cinnamony.  Pure heaven.


3) CT is helping with the laundry (and that is always a good thing).

4) The BEARS are playing the PACKERS.  Kick-off is at 3:15 p.m.  So I have to watch an Indiana Jones movies until the game starts.  That's ok.  It makes CT happy, and THAT makes me happy.

5) Speaking of the Bears, I am wearing my birthday present that CT gave me last week.  CT found a lovely pair of earrings at the local jeweler. 


For you non-football fans, the "C" design in the earring is one of the logos for the Chicago Bears.  What a great gift! 

 So, those are just a few reason why I love Sundays.  What about you?  Feel free to share anything that you like about your Sundays.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

He Cooks, He Really Cooks (Well, Sort Of)

Hello Friends.

The time is certainly flying by.  Here we are practically in mid-September, and as I was driving home from work the other day, I couldn't help but notice how the trees are starting to turn colors.  Gone are the deep, dark greens of the leaves.  Now, the leaves are more of a light, pale green, soon to become yellows, oranges, and reds.  Oh, how I love Fall.  (STOP -- I just looked up at the TV, and CT is watching "Home Alone".  Isn't that a Christmas movie?)

Anyway, if you recall some of my previous posts, I have mentioned the fact that my beloved CT does NOT cook.  At all.  Nothing.  Period.  Nor does he ever give me any really good suggestions on what to cook, other than to say, "I'll take you out somewhere."  So, you can imagine my surprise last weekend when, out of the blue, CT announced, "I have a taste for some corn-on-the-cob."  My initial private thoughts: "Arrrghhhh... what a pain to clean and prepare."  I hate cleaning corn-on-the-cob.  It is so very difficult to get all those nasty stalky stringy things off the corn, and I usually end up with half of them on my kitchen floor.  So, I carefully said to CT, "Well, if you want, feel free to run up to the farm stand and pick up some corn.  And, if you'd like, I can show you how to clean and prepare it." 

Well, CT did something I NEVER expected.  He said, "Ok.  I'll be right back."  And off he went to the local farm stand.  Again, my private thoughts:  "Where is my CT and what have you done with him?"

CT soon returned with his bag of corn.  He was a good student and listened to the instructions of how to clean and prepare the corn.  And the proof is in the photos below:


While CT is not a kitchen kinda cook, he is pretty good at the grill, and proceeded to grill up his freshly prepared corn-on-the-cobs.  (I'm sorry I didn't take a photo of the end result.  It was delicious!) So, now I have hope and faith that CT may become a cook one day.  Who knows, it just might happen!

 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Three Weeks

Hello bloggsters.  Hope all is well with you. 

It has been three weeks since my last post, and three weeks since I started my new job.  What a whirlwind it has been.  The first three weeks have been pretty darn good.  The job is going really well, and I really like the company, the people and the work.  I'm still on this learning curve (which I hate), but every day it gets just a little easier.  And there was even a three-day business trip to Washington D.C. thrown in during week #2.   (Thank goodness it was pre- East Coast earthquake and hurricane!)  Yes, I'm definitely back into the swing of working full-time again.

So last night I was thinking about the pros and cons of me working again.  I thought I'd share the list:

PROS:

1) THE "ON" BUTTON.  The "pause" button that has been on our life (CT and me, that is) has been turned off.  The "on" button is, well, back ON.  Without me working, we put a lot of things on "hold" because of the unknowns of our future.  So now that the "pause" is released, our dream of retiring early is back on!  We hope to retire early and find a nice little condo in Arizona where we can spend the winter months.  We will never leave Chicago permanently, but we will run like the devils before the harsh Chicago winters coming barreling in.


2) A PURPOSE.  I have that feeling back again that I have some purpose in my life (other than cooking, cleaning, errands, etc.)  I missed that feeling terribly.  It is really a good feeling.

3) A PAY CHECK.  Friday was my first pay day.  WAHOOOOO!!!!  I can't even begin to tell you how great it felt to have a pay check and contribute to our family finances.  I had a lot of guilt about not having a salary to help support our family.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, CT is the kind of guy that doesn't worry a whole lot about money.  It just isn't too important to him.  When I was unemployed, I was always concerned about cash flow.  I was always reminding CT about "wants" vs. "needs".  If CT and I were out shopping and I saw something for myself (like a scrapbook item, a piece of jewelry or clothing item, or a decor for the house, CT would always say, "If you want it, just buy it."  And I would reply, "Nope.  Cash flow.  Maybe next month."  Or I would say, "Nope.  It is a want vs. a need.  And I don't need it."  So, now that I can make a financial contribution, that guilt is starting to leave me.  Heck, we were out yesterday, and I ALMOST bought myself a Kelly Rae Roberts piece of art.  I'm still pondering that purchase... it is definitely a "want" here, not a "need".  But I just might go make that purchase today!

3) THE PROJECTS.  CT and I are talking about some BIG projects we want to tackle -- like some additional landscaping in the backyard and finishing the basement.  Our basement is HUGE, and we will have enough room for his man cave (he's talking about a 70-inch flat screen TV, big time surround sound system, etc.) a separate bedroom, a separate storage room, a full bathroom, and of course, a specially designed room for the Scrapbook Cellar.  Maybe next year.

4) A NEW CAR.  Maybe... in the spring.

Now, the CONS:

1) WEEKEND CROWDS.  So, I got very used to do all my errands during the week.  Stores are so much less crowded.  Now, I cram in all those errands into Saturdays, and it sucks.  The stores were NUTS yesterday.  How I miss my quiet weekdays.

2) TIME.  I had so much time on my hands before.  Time to plan and prepare good, healthy dinners.  Time to watch TV (not that I was a big TV watcher before, but there are a couple of regular shows that I watched, and now, they are justing sitting in the DVR waiting to be viewed. About 12 different episodes of a variety of shows.)  Time to chat on the phone with friends.  Time to bake cookies.  Time to read and comment on blogs.  Time to workout 5 days a week.  Now, time is a premium for me. 

3)  KATIE AND ELLA.  This is, by FAR, the hardest part for me.  Bar none.


(Pardon the photo above -- it was taken late last night, and as you can see, we were all exhausted!)  I no longer have my Katie and Ella days during the week.  I got really used to seeing the girls at least a couple of times during the week, either with full days of babysitting or maybe just a few hours here or there.  Now that is gone.  When I told Katie I was going back to work, she said, "Well, Auntie, I am NOT happy about that!"  And Ellie, well I'm not sure she gets it yet.  We had such a good schedule when Ella was a school, and she knew that I picked her up at school once a week, and she would spend the rest of her day with me.  There were even a couple of times this past summer when I was leaving Leanne's house, Ellie would say to me, "Good-bye Auntie.  Pick me up on Tuesday!"  It will be interesting to see what happens this fall when Ellie goes back to school.

So, with all that said, I am so very happy, and SO VERY GRATEFUL to be back at work.  I hope the next three week, three months, three years, are as good as the last three. 




Sunday, August 7, 2011

A New Day... A New Beginning

Tomorrow, August 8th, is a new day and a new beginning for me.
  • New outfit (professional attire - blazer, top, slacks) purchased.  Check.
  • New "work" bag/briefcase purchased.  Check.
  • Accessories (earrings, necklace, watch) selected and on the dresser.  Check.
  • Haircut.  Check.  Nails done.  Check.
  • Additional work-related items (minor office supplies, office radio/CD player, old-fashioned hard copy dictionary and thesaurus, coffee cup, and candy jar with fresh new candy) packed.  Check.  (No personal photos yet -- too soon.)
Tomorrow is my first day back to work.  I have been looking for a job for so long that frankly, I've forgotten what it is like to NOT look for a job day in and day out.  But it finally happened.  After a lot of hard work and a LOT of interviews, I landed a great new job with a great company.  I do believe it is a great fit for me and for them.  Yes, tomorrow I am an official working gal.   I have been a little nervous all week about starting this new job, but today, I am so very excited.  Excited about this fresh new start and great opportunity.


Here's to new days and new beginnings!  Cheers!

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's Half Over

Hello everyone out there in Blogland.  I've been away way too long, and am slowing getting back into reading blogs, leaving comments, and actually writing a new post.  I've got a great topic for a new post. 

Like some of you are already aware, it is half over.  Summer.  Half over.  Yup.  Gone.  Faster than a blink of an eye.  Here are some of the reasons that validate (for me, anyway) why Summer is half over:

1) Fall colors are slowly appearing stores.  My favorite craft store, Michael's, has all their fall colors and products on display now.  As soon as you walk into the store, you are hit with a sea of yellows, reds, oranges, and browns.  Unbelievable.  I haven't even taken down my reds, whites and blues from 4th of July!   

2) CT cashed in his coins.  Yes, CT went to the bank this afternoon to cash in his coins.  Here are the "before" photos:




You are probably wondering why this is a sign that summer is half over.  Well, to refresh your memory, check out one of my previous posts.

So, CT had to cash in his coins today for a VERY important day tomorrow:  Hallmark's 2011 Holiday Ornament Premiere Weekend.  CT already placed his order with our local Hallmark store for SEVEN new Star Wars and Star Trek ornaments.  The ladies at Hallmark even called CT during the week to let him know that his ornament order is ready for pick-up tomorrow.  The Hallmark store opens at 8 a.m., and WE WILL BE THERE at exactly 8 a.m. to pick up said order (because, you never know if someone gets to the store at exactly 8 a.m. too, and picks up the wrong ornament order and gets CT's ornaments instead of their own.  Heavens no!!!!  The world will surely end if that happens!!!)  Anyway, the coin result: $195.21.  The amount need for this year's purchase:  $187.62.  Hot dog!  Maybe I need to talk CT into taking me out for breakfast FIRST since he has some money left over.

3) All summer clothes are now on sale.  Inventory is still pretty good and you can find some great deals out there.

4) Back-to-school sales are starting.  I do love a good back-to-school sale, even though we don't have any kids for which to buy school supplies.  There is something about "bouquets of sharpened pencils" (ok, name that movie if you know this quote) that I just love.  One of the things I miss when I was employed is that my former company used to have a school supply drive every year (run by none other than my good friend and former colleague, PK).  Employees donated bags and bags of newly purchased school supplies, to which we then donated to a needy and much less fortunate school.  I loved shopping for these supplies, finding great deals and buying in bulk, but more importantly, knowing that a new pencil, note book, folder, marker, crayon, etc, might put a smile on a student's face (who otherwise, would not have brand new supplies for the beginning of the school year.)  I think I need to look at donating supplies on my own now.

5) I'm getting really tired of watering my flowers.  A sure sign of that Summer is half over.  Now that very hot, humid weather is here (we're talking high 90's here in Chicago for the next week), I really do NOT enjoy going outside to water all my flowers and plants.  After an hour, I am wilted! 

So, there are just a few reasons why Summer is half over.  Feel free to share any of your reasons on why the Summer season is half over, but do it soon, because it will be Fall before we know it!

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Can I Tell You What?"

A famous question that is used quite often is, "Guess what?"  This question is really more of a rhetorical question, used when you have something you want to tell someone but really don't expect the person to actually make a GUESS as to what you want to say.  The usual reply to this question is, "What?" 

Well, Katie (my niece) has put a new twist on this question, and every time she says it, it makes me smile.  Her question is, "Can I tell you What?"  She then waits for my reply (which is always, "Yes, honey, tell me what,")  before she proceeds to share her latest thoughts, trials and tribulations, and overall funny things that happen in her life.  Isn't this really a better question to ask than, "Guess what?" 

Me and Katie at Disney

So, given the fact that I haven't written a post in almost a month, I thought I'd borrow Katie's question, "Can I tell you What?" and tell you a few of my WHATS.
  • CT and I just returned from a really great trip to Disney World (with Leanne & Co.)   Ok, so we went to Disney last September.  But we REALLY REALLY REALLY needed this get-away, and given the fact that there was a "STAR WARS" weekend at Hollywood Studios, well heck, there was no way CT was going to miss that event.
  • I've been slightly encouraged about my job prospectives over the last couple of months.  More responses to my resume AND actual interviews.  I haven't landed anything yet, but I still have interviews in the works.  I MUST REMAIN POSITIVE that something will happen.  Now, if I only didn't watch the news last night, and watch the markets tank this week as a result of some poor reports that were way below analysts' expectations.  Oh yeah, and the job market is going in the wrong direction (again).  Depressing.  BUT I MUST REMAIN POSITIVE. 
  • I've been praying for two of my BFFs who have been battling some very serious health challenges (hey PK - do you like how I used the word "challenge" not "problem"?)  While they are both on the road to recovery from their most recent "challenge", prayers are still needed.  Prayers will always be needed...) 
  • Summer seems to be in full swing here in Chicago.  Humid and muggy today.  I have no idea what happened to spring, but I was happy to return from Disney to the wonderful scent of my Lilac bushes in full-bloom.  Did you ever stop and just REALLY smell the flowers?  Lilacs are the best.  Truly.
  • CT is on another backyard mission.  Apparently, bunny rabbits have been spotted frolicking to-and-fro in our backyard, and CT is afraid they are going to eat our flowers and landscaping.  This morning, I found one such bunny sitting beneath the patio table.  As I looked outside from our patio door, I yelled out to CT, "Hey, there's a bunny on the patio."  CT immediately ran out the patio door, in an attempt to chase the bunny away.  (Really.)  Both CT and the bunny ran to the left (and out of my view).  30 seconds later, along comes said Bunny, now running in the opposite direction.  10 seconds later, CT follows said Bunny.  It was priceless and I wish I had a video camera on hand.
Of course, I have a gazillion more WHATS, but I thought I'd share just a few.  Feel free to share any of your WHATS.  

  


 

 

 

 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Auntie's Day?"

When I picked up Ella from school last Thursday, she came out holding a wrapped Mother's Day gift for Mommy (aka, Leanne).  Ella was most excited about the gift and said, "Oh Auntie, we have to open it!"  While Ella understood that the gift was for Mommy, for the life of her she couldn't remember the exact gift.

Ella then said, "Ok, here is the plan -- we can just open it to see, and then you can wrap it up again."  So, when we got home, we proceeded to very carefully open the gift, take a quick peak, to which Ella exclaimed, "Oh yeah!  I made that!"  (It was a small baby-food glass jar hand-painted by Ella, with small candle inside.)  As we sat at my kitchen table re-wrapping the gift, Ella and I had the most interesting conversation.  It went like this:

Ella:   So Auntie, this is for Mommy for Mother's Day.

Me:  Yes, honey.  Mommy will love it.

Ella:  And you know, there is a Father's Day too.

Me:  Yes, there is.

Ella:  So, when is Auntie's Day?

Me:  What?

Ella:  When is Auntie's Day?  There is Mother's Day and Father's Day.  When is Auntie's Day?

Me:  (Not quite sure how to answer this one, because I don't think there is a Hallmark Holiday for Auntie's.  So, I had to think quick.)  Well, Auntie's Day is on my birthday.  That is when we celebrate Auntie's Day.

Ella gave me a doubtful look that said she wasn't quite sure she was buying the answer I just gave her, but she then replied, "Ok."

 I was so touched that Ella, at age 4, would be thinking about an "Auntie's Day" for me.  I tell Leanne time and time again that both Ella and Katie have such good hearts, and that they ALWAYS think of others first.

Fast-forward to yesterday.  While at Leanne's celebrating Katie's First Holy Communion, we also had a mini-Mother's Day party.  I received a gift below, from Katie and Ella, with the greatest little note:

A Mother's Day Note from Katie & Ella: 
"Thank you for being our Mommy when Mommy can't be there!  We love you!"

It appears that Ella was right to doubt that "Auntie's Day" is celebrated on my birthday.  You see, in our family, "Auntie's Day" is also celebrated on Mother's Day.

Katie, Me, and Ella

So, to all the Mommies, Grandmas, AND Aunties everywhere -- HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spring Has Sprung!

Well, Spring is FINALLY here.  April was a very rainy month here in the Chicago area, but today we have sunny, blue skies and 65 degree temps.  In honor of spring, I thought I'd share some of our spring photos.

CT filling up his bird feeders for the first time this season.

A backyard project underway.

Phil Guy and CT putting together our new patio set.

Pretty purple flowers, but I forgot the name of this one!

CT still working on his bird feeders.
And a completed feeder!

Tulips.  Gotta love tulips.

Our Robin's nest.  We think the eggs have already hatched, but Momma Robin won't let us get close enough to check it out.



So, that is just a small sample of our spring.  Hope your spring has sprung too!

P.S.  Also in honor of spring, I have a new header for my blog, created by the world famous Leanne (my sister and author of From Chaos Comes Happiness.)  Now that you've seen the spring pictures, you can certainly appreciate the header.  Sis - you nailed this one completely!  It is SOOOOOOOO me and CT!  Thanks!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sharing the Good

Did you ever come across a product that was so good you just had to share it with anyone who would listen (or in my case, anyone willing to read it)?  Well, I came across one tonight and while I am not receiving any kind of monetary reward from the company for endorsing this product, I just have to share it... it is a cooking product.

First, let me say that while I CAN cook, and at times, I can be a REALLY GOOD cook, I just prefer not to cook.  Unfortunately (in my case), I do cook, and I cook more often that I'd like too.  Why?  Because CT LOVES to take leftovers to work for lunch, and frankly, our dinner leftovers are much healthier and less expensive than any kind of lunch he would find in downtown Chicago.  I appreciate that one on both counts.

So, tonight was Salmon (it is Good Friday for us Cat'lics, after all).  There are a gazillion ways to prepare Salmon.  I do love Salmon on the grill with a little lemon and seasoning, but given the very cool temperatures with rain and thunderstorms all day today, grilling outside was not going to happen.  (Now that I think about it, we haven't even broken out the grill for the season!)  So, I turned to the next best thing:  McCormick's Recipe Inspirations. 


Have you seen these in the grocery store?  They are FABU!  These nifty little items provide you with the exact measurements of seasonings (for one dish), along with a few basic items you have a home, and turn a simple item (like Salmon) into a fancy restaurant-style dish just full of flavor.  More importantly, for me, a dish that is 'EASY-PEASY-LEMON-SQUEEZY" to make. (Ok, so I just used Ella's favorite quote to describe something that is easy.)  And, you don't have to spend a lot of money on full bottles of spices that you may only use once (particularly if you find out that you don't like the spice or the dish.) 

So, this particular McCormick's Recipe Inspiration kit called for 1/3 cup of honey and 2 tbls. of soy sauce (low sodium for us) along with the individual seasoning packets of sesame seeds, minced garlic, minced onion, ground ginger, and red pepper flake (which I only used 1/2 -- I don't care for a lot of spicy red pepper flake in my dishes.)  And Salmon, of course.  When mixed together, the result is a lovely glaze for the Salmon.  After baking at 375 for 20 minutes, well, the Salmon just melted like "buttah".  I threw together some frozen veggies and McCain's "Purely Potatoes" (which are nothing more than small golden potatoes - no seasoning, no extra fat - that come in a steamable/microwaveable bag), and voila - dinner was served!


I know that CT likes a dinner when he says, "Yep, this one is a keeper."  Tonight, I received such comment.  

McCormick's also makes a great Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas kit and a Rosemary Roasted Chicken and Potato kit.  I love them both.  I haven't yet tried Apple & Sage Pork Chops or the Spanish Chicken Skillet, but those are next.

So, if you're looking for something easy to make for dinner, I recommend you try one of McCormick's Recipe Inspiration kits.  Bon Appetit!








 



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Unconditional Love

According to Wikipedia, Unconditional Love is a term that means "to love someone regardless of the loved one's qualities or actions."  This morning, I experienced unconditional love, and when I mentioned it to Leanne, she said, "You have to write a post about this!"  So here goes.

For those of you that know me, recently I have been focused on living a more healthy lifestyle.  I joined Weight Watchers in January (with a bunch of my friends), increased my workout routines, and tried to keep a most positive spin on almost everything going on in my life (which is REALLY hard to do since I am still unemployed.)  While I've attempted this many times in the past (as I am sure many of you have), I have been VERY successful at times, and then not-so-successful at other times.  But that is LIFE.  Period.  And in life, you try to learn from your previous successes and failures.  Period.

Anyway, my Weight Watchers meetings are every Saturday morning.  8 a.m. sharp.  When I decided to join Weight Watchers, CT was most supportive, but never pushy.  What I love about CT is that he truly believes that whatever makes me happy will make him happy.  So, if I decided NOT to engage in a a healthy lifestyle, and NOT workout or go to Weight Watchers, he would be ok with that too.

Back to Saturdays... CT and I get up at our usual early morning hour, enjoy our cup of coffee, and then head our separate ways; I go to my Weight Watchers meeting, and he goes to workout.  When I return from my meeting, he is usually already home, waiting for me and excited to hear my good news (aka, results) or maybe not so good news.  If you've ever been challenged with weight loss and healthy eating, you know that some weeks are good, some are bad.  Again, this is LIFE.

So since January, I've had mostly good news to share with CT each Saturday ("Honey, I lost x lbs. this week!")  Last week, I had a great loss, and CT's response to me was, "Honey, that's terrific!  I can hardly see you -- you are melting away before my eyes!"  Ok, we all know that is definitely not the case -- I am NOT melting away before anyone's eyes, but the fact that CT was so encouraging just made my heart feel good.

This week was a "not-so-good" week.  When I came home this morning, CT greeted me and said, "How was your meeting?"  Very frustrated and disappointed, I said, "Not good. I gained one pound."  Sensing my frustration and disappointment, CT paused for a moment, and then said, "Well, I gotta tell you.... that one pound looks TERRIFIC on you, and I LOVE YOU, BABE."   Well, that's all he needed to say to me.  And that, my friends, is unconditional love.

CT

How lucky am I that I truly have someone who loves me unconditionally?  Very lucky.  In fact, everyone should be so lucky.  I hope that you have or find unconditional love in your life, for it is truly the very, very best.  (And if you have any stories of unconditional love, feel free to share!)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Getting In Shape for Spring

This past week, we had one beautiful spring day here in the Chicago area.  I think temps were in the 60's, and there was a light breeze.  This presented a great opportunity to survey my landscaping, see what's starting to pop up and perhaps what might need some additional TLC this season (or even replacement).  While I walked around my property I decided that I might as well grab my garden gloves, my picker thingy, and my garden bucket and start the spring clean-up.  You know the kind --  the picking-up of remaining leaves, twigs, and branches from fall, and yes, even pulling those nasty new weeds that are sprouting up faster than my flowers.

After an hour or so, I called it quits.  Quite happy with my progress I made, I had two full buckets of clean-up to be tossed.  The next morning, I awoke with a happy surprise -- my legs were not sore!

I don't know about you, but in the past, anytime I've done extensive yard work, the next morning I could feel it in my legs.  You know the kind - sore muscles from the constant up and down of bending/crouching, etc.  But this time, no soreness.  I attribute this pain-free experience to my recently changed workout activity.  For those few of you who know me personally, you know that I've been I have really been trying to focus more on healthy eating and all the great stuff that goes along with that.  In addition, I've been "upping the ante" on my workout schedule and routine (longer workouts with increased resistance.) 
 
 
I am happy to say that the change in my workouts have paid off.  There's still much yard work to be done for spring, and then, of course, the ongoing yard work until the end of fall.  In the meantime, I'll continue my new workout plan.  Eventually, both me and my yard will be in great shape!






     

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Am I an "Old F-A-R-T"?

As it has been a couple of weeks (again) since I have written my last post, I am sorry that my topic is probably more negative than it should be.  But there is something that just really bothers me and compells me to write about it.  Here it is.

Over the last three or four weeks, every time CT and I have gone grocery shopping to our local Jewel Food Store, we have been approached by various groups seeking donations.  These groups stand in front of the entrance doors to the grocery store with donation buckets in hand.  There is really no way to avoid them, because you have to practically walk THROUGH them to get in to the store.  The groups are comprised of school children with their parents, asking for "donations".  The donations are for their sporting teams.  Yes, extra-curricular activities that these kids and their parents volunteer to join and participate.  One week it was, "Would you like to donate to our hockey club?"  The next week it was, "Would you like to donate to our softball team?", etc. etc. etc.  Each time I politely reply, "No, thank you."  This has gone on for weeks on end, and quite frankly, it just frustrates me.


First, I understand that times are tough for EVERYONE.  I am still unemployed, and have been looking for a job for longer than I ever thought imaginable.  Second, while I pay taxes which support local schools (and I don't have children which receive the benefits of such taxes), I understand that the schools struggle just as much as the next person.  Third, I have nieces that I support through their various school fundraisers -- you know the kind, gift wraps and greeting cards, cookies or food items, general donations, etc.  When I get the call from Katie or Ella and they say, "Hey Auntie, we're doing this at school, can you help out?"  I always say "Yes!  Of course!"   Fourth, I'm the one who says to CT, as we're determining how much tip to leave the wait staff/waiter/waitress, at a restaurant, "Oh, honey, leave another dollar or two.  The service was good, and you know, the waiter is a struggling _______ (I insert the most appropriate phrase that I  image fits our wait person... single parent, college student, etc.)  And then CT leaves AT LEAST a 20% tip if not more.

But I have to draw the line when it comes to complete strangers who approach me as I'm trying to walk into my local grocery store, coupons in hand trying to figure out if I can save any money that week, asking me to support the extra curricular activies of their children who I do not know.

Is this wrong of me to feel this way?  Have I turned in to a crotchety old-fart?  (Heck, I'm only 47, so I don't consider myself to be a crotchety old fart yet!)  Or is it ok for me to expect to walk in peacefully to a grocery store to buy my groceries without being approached by kids and their parents asking me to pay for their kids sporting teams... for kids that I do not know, and sporting teams that I have no interest in watching as a spectator?

Please let me know -- am I an old fart or do I raise a good point?  Tell me what you think - I can handle it!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Broken Heart

(Yes, I've been away from my blog for quite a while now... I find it hard to keep the blog going when I don't have a lot to say or, when I know that some of the things I'd like to say are better left unsaid!  Anyway, I'm back and I'll try to get caught up in my own blog and blog reading of my fellow bloggers.)

Last weekend, something very tragic happened.  Ok, well, maybe "tragic" is an overkill, but nonetheless, it has gotten me so upset that I can't stop talking about it (but it did give me an opportunity to write a post about it.)  So, here's the story.

Last Saturday, I was making chocolate chip cookies to bring over to my friend's house.  As I gathered all my ingredients and utensils, I opened the kitchen drawer to retrieve my favorite spatula (or as we call it, the "pancake-turner".)  I have a couple of kitchen drawers full of utensils, so I was not surprised that the pancake-turner was not located in the top drawer where I normally keep it.  (In CT's "helpfulness" to empty the dishwasher, he just puts things anywhere he can fit them, regardless of how the cabinets are organized.) 

When I could not find the pancake-turner in the first drawer, I immediately began searching for it in the next utensil drawer.  Then the next.  Nothing.  Slowly, panic started to set in.  I yelled out to CT, "Hey - I can't find my pancake turner!"  CT replied, "What do you mean, you can't find your pancake-turner?"  I shouted back, "I can't find it!  It's not in the drawers!"  CT proceeded to help me go through not only all the cabinet drawers, but also all the cabinets themselves.  Nothing.   After 15 minutes of searching, I proclaimed, "It's gone.  I can't believe it's gone.  It was my favorite, and now it's gone."  And my heart just broke.  (Ok, I'm being a little dramatic, I know.)

Why was it my favorite?  First of all, it was the pancake turner that I had in college when my roommate and I moved out of the dorm and into an actual apartment for our senior year.  I remember that my grandma, Josephine, helped me buy kitchen items that I needed for the apartment and since we were both on VERY limited budgets, the items we purchased were from dollar racks at discount stores.  I believe the pancake-turner was one of those items.   Second, my pancake-turner was old and run-down, but worked like a charm.  It slid beautifully under any item I was cooking or baking.  It could run circles around those fancy, $50-stainless steel spatulas.  My pancake-turner looked very similar to the photo below, except mine was brown, with a brown wooden handle.

Google image search found at spreadshirt.com

How could my favorite pancake-turner just disappear?  Do we have ghosts in this house?   Since it is only CT and me in this house, I know for a fact that CT wasn't using the pancake turner.  Katie and Ella?  Nope, they never play with my kitchen utensils.  The only explanation I can come up with is that I went on "automatic pilot" mode.   

Automatic pilot mode happens to me ever so often -- I just do something so automatic that I don't even have to think about it and then when I try to recall doing the task, I just can't remember doing it.  A perfect example is closing the garage door.  I pull the car out of the garage and stop to close the garage door and put on my seatbelt before driving away.  How many times have I gotten to the end of our subdivision only to ask myself, "Did I close the garage door?"  Then I circle around the block and back to my house only to find the garage door, of course, is closed.       

Have you ever done that?  Gone on automatic-pilot mode and not remember doing something?  Well, that is the only explanation I have for the missing pancake-turner.  That, and I was just completely absent-minded.  Perhaps, while cleaning the kitchen and dishes, I absent-mindedly threw the pancake-turner in the garbage can instead of placing it in the dishwasher.   CT even tried to go through the garbage bags to see if he could find it.  Nothing.  It is just gone.  Gone.  Forever.  CT said, "Hon, it's ok, just buy another one."  But it's not the same.  It never will be the same.  Some things can't be replaced.

Now, I realize in the overall scheme of things, this means nothing.  Small potatoes.  Absolutely nothing.  I mean, it is a fricken pancake-turner.  Still, I imagined that this pancake-turner would be with me forever.  Just like I imagine the people in my life will be with me forever.  But the pancake-turner is gone and eventually, so will the people in my life.  And when that happens, my heart will break again too.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Me & Ella

It's just me and Ella (my niece) on Thursdays.  Every Thursday, I pick up Ella from pre-school, and we head back to my house for some juice (Ella's beverage of choice), Tom & Jerry (Ellie's favorite cartoon), lunch, a few games and craft projects, etc.  Later then, we go back to her house to get sister Katie off the school bus before Mommy (aka, Leanne) gets home from work.


Last week, I had a interesting conversation with Ella on our way back to her house.  The conversation came completely out of the blue... here it is:

Ella:  Auntie, I have the best boyfriend in the whole world.

Me:  You do?  Who is your boyfriend?

Ella:  Michael.  But don't tell Katie.  He is the best boyfriend in the whole world.  (Side comment: Michael is a boy in Ella's pre-school class.)

Me:  Really?  Why is Michael the best boyfriend in the whole world?

Ella:  Because he looks at me all the time.

Me:   He does?

Ella:  Yes.  But he doesn't kiss me.

Me:  He doesn't kiss you?

Ella:  NOOOOO!  That would be gross!


Ella.  Age 4.  Gotta love it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lost... and Found?

I'm lost... so completely lost.  Or I'm losing it.  I think.

You see, yesterday we had another gathering of the Scrapbook Cellar Chicks.  (Check out this post for a refresher on Scrapbook Cellar Chicks.)  It was a great Saturday - we started early, finished late.  We laughed, cried a little, and did the "catch-up" on what's new in all our lives.  CT not only did a lunch run for us, but then later in the afternoon, Peggy begged CT for a Starbucks run, and since CT is such a GREAT GREAT GREAT guy, he went to Starbucks for the girls.

Anyway, I started with a clean table.  My intent was to start the album for our Disney trip we took last September.  I took out all the photos, the new album, and special Disney supplies I've purchased over the last couple of months.  Well, four hours later, I only managed to finish one very simple and quite pathetic looking page.  Here it is:


Meanwhile, Peggy, Leanne and Cindi worked diligently on all their projects.  Peggy even managed to finish 10 pages!!  Check out her blog for the results.   At one point yesterday, I just hopped on the computer and started reading out loud various posts from our blog buddies.  Well, at least we all got caught up with some of our mutually favorite blogs!

Then, something happened.  This morning, as CT helped me clean up the Scrapbook Cellar, I said to him, "Hey Hon, I need about 30 minutes down here."  CT, of course, said, "No problem.  I'll watch a little TV down here while you work on your scrapbook."

After only 30 minutes, I managed to crank out two pages for the Disney album.  Here they are:


So, yesterday, I thought I was lost.  I accomplish one page in 8 hours.  Today, I managed to create two pages in 30 minutes.  Yesterday, I was creatively lost... today, I'm not so sure.

Tomorrow, CT is off from work.  Before we go workout at the health club, I hope to get downstairs to the Cellar to see if I am still creatively lost, or if I am back on my way to some good, old fashioned, creative scrapbooking.  I'll let you know.  

In the meantime, I'm curious... have you ever been creatively (or otherwise) lost?  What do you do to find your way?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Shame On Me

CT and I love going to the picture show (aka, the movies).  While I love a good romantic comedy, CT would rather see a "guy" kinda movie.  We can usually compromise on movies even though I have to nag sweetly convince CT to see a chick flick.  To document our love of movies, I came up with this great idea.  I planned on saving all the ticket stubs for movies that we see in 2011, and then design a couple of scrapbook pages with these ticket stubs.  Good idea, eh?

So, last week we saw, "The King's Speech" (really great movie, by the way.)  When we came home, I tucked the ticket stubs safely next to the kleenex box on the kitchen counter.  My intent was to bring the ticket stubs downstairs to the Scrapbook Cellar for safe-keeping until I was ready to work on the scrapbook pages.  Ok.  No problem. 

Yesterday, we saw "The Fighter" (another great movie.)  As we waited in line for refreshments, I said to CT, "Oh, give me your ticket stub.  I'm saving it."  CT replied, "Saving it?  Why?"  So, I proceeded to tell CT my great scrapbook idea of saving all the ticket stubs for all the movies we see this year.  CT then took a big gulp and said, "Oh, so you were saving the ticket stubs that were on the kitchen counter?"  I said, "Yes."  Another gulp from CT.  "Honey, I'm sorry, I threw those out.  I didn't know you wanted to keep them."

At first, I was absolutely stunned by this news.  Then, I just started to laugh.  Why?  Well, my CT doesn't throw out ANYTHING.  This is a guy who wants to keep EVERYTHING!  For example, we will buy something that comes in a box, use the product, but CT insists on keeping the empty box, "Just in case."  Just in case what?  I have no idea.  The empty box will make its way into the garage, and by the time the garage is full of empty boxes, I'm at my wits-end yelling at CT to just throw out the fricken boxes.  Oh yeah, and speaking of garage, well, this is one place I just close my eyes and ignore the piles of crap stuff that CT has stacked everywhere in there. 

Junk mail in another thing.  Magazines, sales flyers, solicitations, you know the kind.  Well, the junk mail comes in, and CT insists that he wants to read it before I toss it.  Problem is that he will never read the junk mail, and then it will just pile up until I finally just toss it out.

And then there is CT's basket.  CT had a tendency to leave little things everywhere -- his keys, mints, a comb, receipts, gum, etc.  So, I bought a basket and placed it on top of his dresser.  One day the basket became so full, it was spilling out all over the dresser.  So, I wrote a note on a post-it, and taped it to the basket.  That was two years ago.  Here is the basket today.  The note is still taped on the basket.  Stuff still piles out of the basket.

 
How funny is it that CT not only managed to FIND the ticket stubs on the counter, but actually pick them up, look at them, and then walk over to the garbage can and toss them!  Every time I think about this I just laugh and think, "Well, shame on me!"  Shame on me for not sharing my great ticket stub idea with CT sooner.  Shame on me for not taking those ticket stubs down to the Cellar sooner.  Shame on me for doubting that CT would ever want to clean up stuff laying around the kitchen counter (even though he completely overlooked the junk mail that should have been tossed instead of my ticket stubs.)  Yes, shame on me! 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Whewwww - What A Week!

So the Chicago Blizzard of 2011 has come and gone (although I understand that the weather is still bad in other parts of the country.)  I am very pleased to say that we survived.  After being snowed in for the last two days, we are finally able to venture out today.  The first attempt to clear the snow off the driveway was not good.  Our goal was to clear enough of an opening to get one car out to the street.  Here was the driveway as of close-of-business on Wednesday.


Here's what the driveway looks like today (sorry for the garbage can - it is garbage day today.)


The entire driveway is still not cleared (sorry, I can't do the snow removal thing when temperatures are only 8 degrees) but at least there is plenty of room to get a car out.  Oh, and we can now get in and out of the front door too.


CT also managed to dig out the mailbox, so we will be able to get mail delivery today.  Now, all we have to do is wait for the roof guy to get here.  (Yes, we have some kind of roof damage due to the high winds during the blizzard.  I found this out the hard way when, after shoveling, I sat down on my couch and all of a sudden... drip... drip... drip... water fell on my head from the beam in the family room.  I have no idea what the roof repair and beam repair will cost, but I guess that is why we have home owners insurance.)

With that said, it is Friday, and life is still good.  The sun is shining today.  After CT finishes work today, we will run a few errands, work on the driveway a little more, and prepare for the weekend.  Maybe a picture show tomorrow (I REALLY want to go see "A King's Speech", and then Superbowl on Sunday.  Since the Chicago Bears are not in the Superbowl, I really don't care who wins.  Maybe I will root for Green Bay.  Maybe not. 

Hope you have a great weekend!  Stay safe, wherever you are!  

 



 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blizzard Update - I'm REALLY Not Liking This

So, the Blizzard of 2011 continues for us today.

After a long and scary night full of whipping winds, snow, lightening and thunder, we woke up to find snow drifts piling up around our house.  Yes, we are now officially snowed in.  Here are a few photos:






In preparation for the blizzard, the City of Chicago issued snow mobiles to fire departments, so that rescue worker and paramedics would be able to reach those in need.  We watched the news this morning as the people were rescued from their vehicles on Lake Shore Drive.  And, all roads in most of the counties that surround Chicago are completely closed (including ours). 

CT and I ventured outside at 7 a.m., to evaluate the situation and attempt to begin the dig out.  Unfortunately, we did not get very far.


With snow literally up to CT's waist, he gave it a good shot.  But the winds started up again, and with snow continuing to fall, we gave up and came inside.  We'll try again in a few hours.  I'm thinking it will take us two days to dig out.

So that is our update.  More later.

   

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Blizzard of 2011

Ok, folks.  It's here.  The first Chicago blizzard of 2011.

I am so thankful that CT and I are home, safe and sound.  (CT's office closed today around noon, and they've already closed the office for tomorrow.)  Since CT works in downtown Chicago, I was really relieved when he called to say that he was on the train heading home, and that he would also be home tomorrow.

We've checked-in with all immediate family members... everyone is accounted for and all are home safe and sound too.  Outside... well... not so good.  Lots of snow mixed with lots of wind.  (When I say "lots", I'm talking about 18-24 INCHES of snow in the forecast.  Factor in winds at about 40-50 MPH, and your looking at some serious drifting.)  Here are a few photos taken this afternoon:

Outside our front door:





And out our back patio door...



Considering we are only at the beginning of the storm and the worse is yet to come, I can only imagine what things will look like tomorrow.  The wind is just howling right now... it is truly unbelievable.  I'm hoping my poor little trees don't topple over in this wind and the fence holds up.  Oh, CT just said to me, "Honey, I think this is our first official blizzard together."  Gee, how romantic.   

Anyway, much of the country is experiencing what we are right now.  So, wherever you are at, I hope that you are safe and warm.  Tomorrow:  the dig out. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cutting Him Off

Ok, I am sorry my blog friends, but I have to do it.  I have to cut-off CT.  Cut him off from what, you ask?  Well, here it is.  I'm cutting him off of..... LAUNDRY DETERGENT.

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, CT is truly the very BEST.  I will say, however, that he lacks a few domestic skills (like cooking and cleaning).  He doesn't make much effort in the cooking department (just doesn't have much interest in cooking), and as far as cleaning is concerned, well he can run a mean vacuum around the house, but that is about all. 

Anyway, one household chore that he always offers assistance in is doing the laundry.  Granted, I still have to sort everything out (if he did the sorting, our white socks would be coming out dark gray or pink) but he always offers to take the clothes baskets to the laundry room, and start up the washing machine.  (Personally, I think he just likes to press the buttons on the machine.)

So, the other day I went into the laundry room to start a load of towels, and here is what I found:


In addition to this messy bottle, I found detergent dripped all over the floor in front of the washing machine.  And this is not the first time I've walked in to the laundry room only to find blue spots everywhere.  This time, the bottle was actually stuck to the floor because of the spilled detergent.  Needless to say, I had another mess to clean up.

When I asked CT, "What the heck did you do to this bottle of detergent?" he just shrugged his shoulders and said, "I dunno."  I'm thinking it was in CT's haste of trying to get the laundry started, and not being careful how he was pouring the detergent, that made such a mess.  As much as I appreciate CT's assistance with the laundry, I told him that he was cut-off from using the laundry detergent and starting the washing machine.

Ever since I met CT, my family has told me time and time again how much CT is so much like my dad, Joe.  My dad was a PRO at doing our laundry (laundry was always my dad's thing, not my mom's.)  I do remember there was a time, however, when my mom had to cut my dad off of BLEACH.  Yes, BLEACH.  See, my dad had this thing for using bleach, however, it seems that in his haste to finish the chore, he would drip bleach on clothes that had no business even being NEAR bleach.  After one-to-many clothes were ruined, but mom finally said, "No more bleach!"

So, no more bleach and no more detergent.  Yes, I do agree with my family, CT is very much like my dad.  My dad and CT would have got along great, and I am sorry that they never got to meet each other.  Oh, and as far as doing laundry, CT has NOT been banned from the clothes dryer (well, not yet, anyway!)





 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our World of Beeps

Did you ever notice how our world is full of beeps?  "Beeps" as in beeping sounds.  I remember when we first moved into our house, CT and I had to get used to a lot of new beeping sounds.  While we expected some of the beeps, others came as a complete surpise and we would look at each other and yell, "What's that beeping?!?"   While there are some beeps that I am OK with, others I find so annoying.  Here are some of the recent beeps in my life...

Good beep - Our coffee pot.  I love the sound of the coffee pot beeping to tell me that my morning coffee has just finished brewing.  It's like it is softly saying to me, "Come and get me, I'm done."  

Bad beep - Cell phones.  Someone's cell phone beeping to let them know that they missed a call and/or have voicemail to be picked up.  Annoying - especially in a restaurant.

Good beep/Bad beep - The smoke detectors.  Yes, I appreciate the fact that the unit will beep when the back-up battery needs to be replaced (if we missed the semi-annual changing-of-the-batteries.)  But why oh why does it have to beep at 2 a.m.?  Then you have to walk around the house in the middle of the night trying to figure out which one is beeping.

Bad beep - The sump pump back-up battery in the basement.  Anytime this thing beeps, it isn't good and I cringed as I go downstairs to investigate the beep.  We got one of those bad beeps over the weekend, which resulted in an unplanned $150 expense (had to buy a new battery.)  Well, I guess buying a new battery is cheaper than having a flooded basement.

Good beep - The oven timer (when the oven is filled with chocolate chip cookies.)  CT tried to be very helpful this past weekend as I experimented with a "healthy" version of a mini chocolate chip cookie.  When the oven timer went off (signaling that the cookies were done,) CT said, "I'll get those out of the oven."  But then, the oven kept beeping... and beeping... and beeping.  I shouted out to him, "Turn off the timer!"  Beep.  Beep.  Beep.  Beep.  Beep.  Beep.  I don't think CT even knew how to turn off the oven timer.  Finally, the timer was silenced and the smell of fresh baked cookies just filled the kitchen.

Good beep/Bad beep - Trucks backing up.  Specifically, snow plow trucks.  I don't mind hearing the sound of the snow plow truck beeping, because I know that the truck is turning around to do another sweep of our street.  But wait a minute -- that means that our driveway, the one that took us more than 30 minutes clear, is now filled with snow again (well, at least the end of the driveway).  I guess I'd rather have a cleaned street, though.

So those were just a few beeps that I've come across in the last week or so.  All pretty normal based on today's standards, and I guess all pretty tolerable.  Feel free to share the beeps in your life.

Google image search found at crazeclub.com

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tag, Tag, Tag.... I'm It

WARNING:  THIS IS A LONG POST.  MY APOLOGIES!

Ok, you know the blog drill.  You get "tagged" with a list of questions you answer, giving your readers an opportunity to get to know you a little better.  After Saimi was tagged by another blogger, she then selected me (aka, "tagged" me) with the same questions (but really, Saimi, 19 questions?!?) 

So, without further ado, here goes:

1. if you have pets, do you see them as merely animals, or are they members of your family?

No pets in our family, unless you want to count the birds outside that CT feeds throughout the year.  I swear we spend some serious dollars each year buying all kinds of bird stuff (food, bird houses, bird poles, etc.)  So, yes, they are members of the family.   

2. if you can have a dream to come true, what would it be?

World peace.  Cliche as it sounds, wouldn't it be nice if everyone in the world got along and loved each other?

3. what is the one thing most hated by you?

Rude, ignorant, bad drivers just annoy me.
 
4. what would you do with a billion dollars?

I'm not sure what I would do with a billion dollars.  That is an awful lot of money, and frankly, I don't want to be greedy.  A mere million or two would work just fine for me.

5. what helps to pull you out of a bad mood?

Katie and Ellie always get me out of a bad mood.

6. which is more blessed, loving someone or being loved by someone?

Both are equally a blessing.

7. what is your bedtime routine?

Double check to make sure all doors are locked.  Make sure coffee is prepared for next morning (gotta love timers on coffee pots), then wash face, brush teeth, and snuggle with CT while watching TV until we get sleepy enough to shut off the TV.

8. if you are currently in a relationship, how did you meet your partner?

At a restaurant.  CT was standing there waiting to be seated, and he turned and smiled at me - not just any smile, but a big smile showing off his huge dimples.  My heart skipped a beat, then melted, and I said to myself, "Oh sh _ _ , I'm in trouble now!"

9. if you could watch a creative person in the act of the creative process, who would it be?

I enjoy watching the Scrapbook Cellar chicks create.  They are all creative creatures by nature, and I love to see what they create. 

10. what kinds of books do you read?

Sorry, can't say that I'm a big reader. 

11. how would you see yourself in ten years time?

Good question.  Hopefully working in a job that I love, and counting the years down until we officially retire.

12. what’s your fear?

Walking on ice.  I fell once and broke my arm.  It was horrible.

  13. would you give up all junk food for the rest of your life for the opportunity to visit outer space?

Are you kidding me?  No way.  Never.

14. would you rather be single and rich or married, but poor?

Married and poor, because I definitely cannot see my life without CT.

15. what’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Do you really want to know the obvious?  Tinkle.
 
16. if you could change one thing about your spouse/partner what would it be?

Oh boy - would I love it if CT could cook!!!  I threaten to send him to cooking school every once in a while.

17. if you could pick a new name for yourself, what would it be?

I like my name and will keep it, thank you very much.

18. would you forgive and forget no matter how horrible a thing that special someone has done?

Forgive, maybe.  Forget, never.  That is one of my downfalls.

19. if you could only eat one thing for the next 6 months, what would it be?

Pizza.  Pizza.  Pizza.  Morning, noon, and night.  Pizza.

In the spirit of "tagging", I'm suppose to tag a few bloggers and pose these same questions to them.  However, realizing that not everyone likes to join in this fun, I'll leave it up to you and won't hold it against you if you decide not to play along.  With that said, the two lucky winners are:

Mitzi @ Coffee & Reflection
Peggy @ Small Steps to Giant Leaps

And here are the questions (yes, 19!)

1. if you have pets, do you see them as merely animals, or are they members of your family?
2. if you can have a dream to come true, what would it be?
3. what is the one thing most hated by you?
4. what would you do with a billion dollars?
5. what helps to pull you out of a bad mood?
6. which is more blessed, loving someone or being loved by someone?
7. what is your bedtime routine?
8. if you are currently in a relationship, how did you meet your partner?
9. if you could watch a creative person in the act of the creative process, who would it be?
10. what kinds of books do you read?
11. how would you see yourself in ten years time?
12. what’s your fear?
13. would you give up all junk food for the rest of your life for the opportunity to visit outer space?
14. would you rather be single and rich or married, but poor?
15. what’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
16. if you could change one thing about your spouse/partner what would it be?
17. if you could pick a new name for yourself, what would it be?
18. would you forgive and forget no matter how horrible a thing that special someone has done?
19. if you could only eat one thing for the next 6 months, what would it be?

Friday, January 14, 2011

I'm Baaaack... I think

Oh boy - two weeks have gone by and I haven't written any new posts.  My apologies to my 15 followers, and anyone else who may randomly stop by.  I guess I haven't had much to say - that, and I've been busy with some of the curve balls that life throws you once in a while.  Also, my apologies to the bloggers that I follow.  I haven't been reading many blogs in the last week or so.  Heck, I even needed Leanne to tell me that I was "tagged" by Saimi in her blog this week.  So, I've got to write up my tag question answers and get those posted.  Hope to get to that this weekend.

So, here are a few updates:

First, I have to give an official shout-out and thank you to my personal blog designer, Leanne (who, as you know, is also my sister.)  Leanne is the artistic creator of my blog header.  It is so convenient to call her up and say, "Ok, I'm ready for a new blog header, so when you're in the creative mood, feel free to work on one!"  I love the excitement in her voice when a few hours later, I get a return call that says, "It's done!  Check it out!"  So, thanks, Sis, you are definitely the best.

Second, I do have my "word" for 2011.  No, I don't do resolutions.  I don't believe in them.  Why set yourself up to fail?  Anyway, my word for 2011 is "Re-Focus".  Focus would be too easy of a word.  Everyone needs to focus in at least one aspect of their life.  In my case, I need to just re-focus on many things in my life.  So, that is my word.  Done.  I think I'm supposed to post this on Leanne's blog.  Gotta double check that.

Third, we are in our dreary winter months here in Chicago, which means very little sunshine, lots of cold weather, and snow every other day (or so it seems).  At least we're not getting a foot of snow at a time, like our poor friends on the east coast.  No, we just get enough snow (a few inches at a time, like every other day) to make life a little miserable.  It is so hard not to get into a winter "funk" with this weather, but CT and I dream about moving to someplace warm and sunny when we retire.  Our move, however, would only be during the really bad winter months (like the day after Christmas through March or April) and then we would return home.  Chicago will always be our home, and I can't even imagine ever leaving this place for good. 

Ok, so that is my quick update.  I promise to get caught up with all my favorite blogs.  In the meantime, I hope life and winter is treating you well.