Friday, November 30, 2012

November brain dump (in under the wire)

I started various Thanksgiving-related posts this month but never finished any of them. And now we're about to officially enter Christmas season (if you drive around my neighborhood, you would think that it started last weekend, but in our house, it does not start until December 1) so I better unload these Novemberish thoughts immediately.

- Thomases Bagel Thins do not get stale. It's actually pretty creepy. I just had a breakfast sandwich on one that's been living in my refrigerator since . . . late summer? And it was delicious! I think I'm going to keep them in my freezer from now on, not because they need it to stay fresh (clearly) but just so I'm not reminded of their preternatural freshness when I'm trying to enjoy one.

- As I was about to click "BUY" on Katy Perry's Teenage Dream: The Complete Collection, it occured to me that my musical taste seems to be regressing. I think it's all of the Top 40 radio that I'm exposed to in my car, combined with how much time I actually spend in my car. It rewires your brain or something. In fact, I was driving in the car with the kids recently and it became painfully obvious that I am the biggest only Justin Bieber fan in the family. I realized that when "As Long as You Love Me" came on the radio:

and just as I was about to enthusiastically jump in with "As long as you love me, I'll be your platinum, I'll be your silver, I'll be your gold," the chorus of voices from the back shouted "NOOOOOOOOO!!! Turn the channel!!" Caroline added, "Ew! It's Justin Beaver!" And -- and here is when I realized that something is terribly wrong with the natural order of the universe when my 7 and 5 year old daughters don't want to listen to Justin Bieber but their 40 year old mother does--I felt vaguely annoyed as I turned the channel. Because I REALLY wanted to listen to that song. Because I like it, dammit. A couple of days later I was running with another 40 year old mom friend of mine, whose taste in music I totally trust, and she brought up completely on her own how much she loves that Bieber song. See! It's them, not us!

- David and I went to the beach for our 14th anniversary (thank you for babysitting, Grammy and Granddaddy!!) It was awesome. That is all.

- I made the Pioneer Woman's Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Apples for Thanksgiving. At first I was a little worried about it (1) it's a little non-traditional (mushrooms?), and (2) I was NOT a fan of the huge, dry looking breadcrumbs in her photo. It just didn't seem to be the right dressing/stuffing texture. But I figured that a PW recipe would probably be reliable for comfort food, so I went for it, with some tweaks. The recipe said to cut one inch cubes of bread, but I cut mine much smaller:

And it totally worked! It was that quasi-mushy-in-a-good-way texture that I like in my dressing/stuffing. Next time I'll either omit, or cut way back on the quanitity of baby bellas -- I think 32 ounces was overkill (PW is clearly of the "go big or go home" mindset in her recipes.).

- I made these oreo turkeys for the kids since I was pretty sure they wouldn't eat apple pie or pumpkin cheesecake (where have I gone wrong?)

- We started Thanksgiving off with a hike:

Pretend rock climbing:

- I think we got a 3-legged turkey. I'm still kind of disturbed. And it was even one of those organic, free-range, hormone-free, preservative-free, treated-to-weekly-massages turkeys from Whole Foods, so I have no explanation for the third leg.

- I love a holiday table.

- Leaf jumping:

-If I have time to edit this later, I'm going to add a photo of our Thanksgiving mantel. Hint: it includes Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim, whom I scored on clearance at Smith's after Thanksgiving one year:

I know! I can't believe that such a fine, handsome wood-carved pilgrim couple wasn't snatched up LONG before Thanksgiving, but sometimes Lady Luck is just with you that way.

We have SO much to be thankful for. I love having a (still relatively non-commercialized) holiday that celebrates gratitude, but I really try to be mindful of it every day.

Monday, November 12, 2012

presidential posters

I remember learning about the presidents, and more generally, about the U.S. system of government, when I was a kid. And while my parents certainly had political beliefs, they really didn't try to impose them on me, so my main takeaway from my childhood was that the president is awesome and that our system of government is the best. I am grateful that I was introduced to government and politics in a simple and innocent way, and that I was allowed to develop a healthy respect for the office, and the system, before I grew up and learned just how ugly politics can be. And it is very important to me that my children learn to have a similar respect for the office, the system, and the process while they are young. There will be plenty of time for them to threaten to move to Canada and/or secede when their candidate loses! So while David and I had strong opinions about the last election, we really tried to explain that both candidates want what is best for the country, but just have different ideas about how to get there. We did share a little bit about why we vote the way we vote, which the kids may or may not have understood, but one thing they do understand is that they will be on the losing side of every classroom mock presidential election they ever participate in in Alabama if they vote like we do. ☺

Coinciding with the election, Jacob had to make a presidential poster for school. The kids did not get to choose their presidents but were randomly assigned. Jacob got:

I'm kind of a fangirl, so I was super excited! Of course with Bill you don't get too far into the bio when you start running into names like "Paula Jones" and "Monica Lewinsky," but Jacob seemed pretty focused on getting in, getting the information he needed for his poster, and getting out, so he didn't deviate from his outline -- date of birth, place of birth, education, offices held before president, identify of vice president, political party, main accomplishments while in office, fun facts. And thankfully, he chose as his fun fact "nicknamed Bubba as a kid," so I didn't need to field any questions about Gap dresses or pizza deliveries. Phew.

Elizabeth cannot have someone else in the house working on poster board without getting in on the action, so she wanted to do her own presidential poster. She chose James Madison. Of course as with all Elizabeth projects, copious amounts of scotch tape were used.

When David left for work in the morning, she begged him to come home with a picture of James Madison and a copy of the Constitution for her poster (our printer is broken) and you would have thought he came home with a new puppy to witness her reaction when he came home with these papers in hand. Elizabeth taped them to the poster to complete it. Both children then did a presentation of their presidents for us from the hearth. We are a happy nerd family.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's Cathy with a -- eh, nevermind.

This post is not about the little Starbucks habit I seem to have developed over the past couple of months. Or the fact that "grande nonfat decaf two pump pumpkin spice latte" rolls off my tongue with an ease that troubles me. It's about the fact that it drives my kids crazy that I don't specify the spelling of my name when I order my drink, or correct them when it comes back spelled the wrong way. I find that the world spells my name correctly 50% of the time (although Starbucks only gets it right about 20% of the time). Sometimes the spelling matters (e.g., tax forms, medical records) and sometimes it just doesn't (e.g., coffee drinks). I've always wondered why people bother going through the extra step of asking me if it's a C or a K in situations where it just doesn't matter, like placing a take out pizza order:

- Hi, I'd like to order a large half pepperoni, half sausage for takeout.
- Large half pepp, half sausage. Give us about 30 minutes. And what's the name on this order?
- Cathy.
- Cathy with a K or a C?
- Cathy with a C.

When I get there, they never ask me to spell my name before handing me my pizza to prove that it's really me. You'd think if they were worried about one Cathy with a C and one Kathy with a K picking up large half pepperoni/half sausage pizzas at the same time, they'd be equally worried about two Cathys with a C picking up the same order at the same time, so they'd ask for my last name as well. But they never do. They only ask for the spelling of my first name. I don't know why they ask. Maybe it's just an impulse or a habit. Maybe when they were kids they routinely witnessed their mother's name spelled incorrectly on her to-go coffee cups, and they shook their fists at the heavens and said "when I have the power to do something about it, mark my words, I will spell people's names the right way!" In any event, maybe I should start carrying a Sharpie around to fix the spelling when my kids are around. Or better yet, quit Starbucks.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy birthday to me

David and I have apparently established a tradition of celebrating birthdays that end in "zero" by finishing off rooms in our house. For David's 40th, we spruced up the basement. And now for my 40th, we added some furniture to our formerly empty sunroom:

Since this room was largely empty, we've used it mainly for parties, and I was a little hesitant to give up that capacity, but I'm pretty sure it could still serve that purpose if we push everything against the walls. I chose the buffet with parties in mind -- I thought that it could hold a lamp, etc. most of the time, but then be commissioned to hold cakes, wine glasses, red Solo cups, etc. at party time.

The main thing that I knew I wanted in this room was a white, yes white, slipcovered sofa. I love the fresh, crisp look of white slipcovers. I do realize that I have young kids who are very likely to spill juice or drag an uncapped magic marker wherever they go, but people who live with white slipcovers swear that they are kid/pet friendly, since they can be washed and bleached! We've been happy with our basement choice, so we once again went with a sofa from the affordable IKEA Ektorp collection, and since worst case scenario I can get a completely new slipcover set for $49, I'm not too worried about it.

David and his dad drove to IKEA to pick up the sofa a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure that I would have derived a lot more pleasure from a trip to IKEA than David did {and would have almost certainly thrown some other things in the cart while I was there!} but he said that it seemed wrong for me to drive across state lines to pick up my own 200 lb. birthday present. If spending an afternoon at IKEA is wrong, I don't want to be right! -- but I thought the sentiment was sweet, so I let him go get the sofa.

I found the buffet at Nadeau after a scuffle with some furniture in a box. The offending piece was re-boxed and returned to Target, and then I stumbled upon The One at Nadeau. I was originally thinking that I'd find some kind of painted chest for that spot (or find the right chest at a flea market/yard sale and paint it myself) but then I remembered that I don't have any time to go to flea markets and yard sales, or talent for painting furniture, so the ready-to-go-piece-in-front-of-me was definitely the way to go. As it turns out, I totally love the dark wood with the white sofa and the woven/seagrassy texture of the rug and trunks. You can't see much of the detail of the buffet in the photo above, but it has classic lines, a curved front, two drawers and pretty hardware -- it's the perfect size and I luuuuuuurve it.

While I was in spray paint mode from my spooky tree project, I sprayed some orange/green pumpkins from Michael's with white primer (we didn't have any white spray paint in the garage, but the primer seemed to do the trick) and put them on the buffet along with some lucky buckeyes that we collected on a recent hike.

The sofa and the buffet are the only new items in the room; the chairs were one of our first purchases for the porch in our first house maybe 12 years ago, and we picked up the rattan storage trunks at Target somewhere along the way. I'd been planning on getting some kind of coffee table for the room, but I kind of love the way the trunks look, so I might just leave them.

David and I agree that the sunroom is now probably the best looking room in our house. We decided, upon reflection, that it's because it's a fairly small room with no walls or shelves and only one tabletop, so there just isn't that much for us to arrange in a visually displeasing way. Haha. The room is not exactly a retreat because it's located right off the family room where most of our {loud} living takes place, but still, I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hermione, Wonder Woman, Old-school Vampire

Another Halloween in the books.