Married to the Empire

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I wrote yesterday about going to a thrift store and finding 4 mini-muffin pans for about $1 each. It was a good deal, especially considering that I looked on Sur La Table's website tonight to see what the equivalent there would have cost me. (I usually buy my bakeware there because the quality is stellar.) I paid only 1/4 of what it would have cost me there! Great deal, isn't it?

But here's the bad part: Someone thought it would be a good idea to tape the pans to each other with packing tape. The tape residue did not want to come off. First I tried just washing them. That didn't work. Then I tried rubbing alcohol. That didn't work. Then I pulled out the big guns, otherwise known as Goo Gone. Would you believe that didn't work, either?!

The final solution was to liberally sprinkle on Barkeeper's Friend and scrub like mad with one of the heavy-duty toothbrushes I buy from The Clean Team. I believe I spent an hour removing tape residue. While I was scrubbing my heart out, I was wondering if it was worth it to save the money. Afterwards, I decided it was.

The $23 Action Figure

Just because I haven't written any Star Wars related posts lately...

Sometimes collectors are charged ridiculous amounts of money for must-have items. An example of this would be the $23 concept action figures of R2-D2 and C-3PO. They were sold exclusively at Star Wars Celebration IV in L.A. this year. Naturally, Ruf had to have it, even though we didn't go to CIV.

So, in case anyone wondered what a $23 action figure looks like, here ya go:

Monday, July 30, 2007

Frugal Inspiration

I have been so inspired by Meredith's How To Live Well On Less series over at Like Merchant Ships. I recalled a Works-for-Me Wednesday post that she did a while back about how she stores her baking supplies. I've been meaning to do something similar since my pantry is on the opposite side of the kitchen from my workspace. I decided to try to go about this frugally, as I've been so impressed with the way Meredith has set up her household with so many secondhand finds. I went to a local thrift store today to look for something that would work for me. I not only found 2 caddies for only 10 cents each, but I also found 4 mini-muffin pans. They will be perfect for making small muffins to bring to the youth group on Sunday mornings or for gift baskets of baked goods. The muffin pans were approximately $1 each. I think I did quite well today!

It's all in excellent condition and simply needs a good cleaning. I'm so excited!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Free is the best price

Ruf has been in need of a new desk chair for quite some time. Calvin, who doesn't mess up anything else in our house, has destroyed the back of his chair. And I mean destroyed. To make things worse, Doogie puked all over the seat of it. Now, Doogie, who is also affectionately called Pukey at times, has thrown up on virtually every possible surface within our house, and all of it has been cleaned up successfully. Except for Ruf's desk chair. I don't know what it is about the fabric of that chair, but it is cleaner resistant, so it still holds a funky smell left over from Doogie's revisited meal. The chair is in a such a sad state that it's pathetic. We've been keeping a black towel over it just because that actually makes it look simply sad, which is an improvement.

Today we were moving everything out of our church's office. We're in phase one of our move, which is to vacate the office. Things were being set outside in the carport, and they were marked for trash or CCA, which is a local charity. Included was a black leather desk chair. It's not in perfect condition, but it looks positively beautiful when compared to Ruf's chair. Feeling slightly embarrassed to be taking our church's trash (with the blessing of those who were there), we took the chair home. It needs to be cleaned up, and Ruf is going to apply some leather dye to some of the scuffed spots, but it'll do until we get around to buying a new one for him.

And just for comparison, here are pictures of the cat-destroyed chair and the "new" one that is currently sitting in our garage awaiting a clean-up:

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Curiosity and the Cat

My computer is in my craft room, and I'm spending a lazy morning (when I should be cleaning my wreck of a house!) catching up on computer stuff. I kept hearing a sound behind me. I turned around to find this:

I forgot that I'd left out some of my gift-wrapping stuff since I still have a couple of presents left to wrap. Cats have a hard time ignoring ribbons and strings and things. I found Doogie busying himself with dragging some wired stars out of the box.

Last week at youth camp

I didn't post at all last week because Ruf and I were at youth camp in Glorieta, NM with our church's youth group. Centrifuge is an amazing camp, and all the adults were really impressed with how the camp met our students' needs. (If you click on that link, the first picture you'll see at the top is of our kids at X-Fuge last year.) The accomodations were pretty nice for a camp. We had private rooms with two sets of bunk beds, a chest of drawers, and a sink. The rooms also locked, so we didn't have to worry about money or medicine left there during the day. The food was great, considering it was camp food. The kids were all very impressed.

What really impressed the adults, though, was the amount of individual attention the kids received from the staff. The camp director hung out with our church quite a bit, the girl assigned to our church group in the evenings said that we were the most welcoming church she'd met all summer, and the small groups the kids were put in were really personal. The kids made a lot of new friends, and the staff really interacted with them a lot.

This camp had an amazing variety of activities for the kids. They could sign up for things like volleyball, basketball, jewelry making, learn-to-play guitar, art, missions, world religions, etc. The list was LONG. Our kids who were on the missions track spent time at a local nursing home and also on the streets of Santa Fe evangelizing.

There was a huge emphasis on missions at this camp (we are evangelicals, after all!). This year it was concentrated on the Roma people, who are commonly known as Gypsies. Their small groups really focused on teaching the kids about the plight of the Roma people and how desperately they need Christ, in addition to their material needs. The kids at camp last week gave a whopping $4600+ during the missions offering. There was also an art auction where they sold the paintings that the kids made in art class. All proceeds of the auction went to the missions offering, too. One of our kids created the best painting there (and I'm not saying that just because she's our kid!), and it sold for a decent amount. (One of our sponsors bought it, and it's now hanging in our youth room. It's one of the first things you see when you walk in.)

We had one kid accept Christ last week at camp, and another acknowledged a call to missions. We're so proud of our kids!

Ruf and I had our 9th wedding anniversary at camp. That was a first for us. For the first time ever, we left camp for a few hours. The other sponsors were so great about telling us to go ahead and go out to dinner. We went to Santa Fe, wandered the city a bit, then ate at a wonderful restaurant called the Guadalupe Cafe. We came back to camp in time for church group time, where we were greeted by a huge shout of, "Happy Anniversary!" from our kids. They also presented us with a very sweet card that they had all signed. While I orginally thought that it sounded awful to spend our anniversary at camp, I think it wound up being our best ever!

There were only two bad things about camp: They didn't schedule in enough sleeping time at night, and the band was horrible. Well, instrumentally, the band was pretty good. Their drummer was amazing. But the lead singer left Ruf and me cringing every time he opened his mouth. Call me picky, but I actually expect a lead singer to be able to sing on key. The kids liked the band regardless of the singer's lack of ability, so I guess that's what matters.

We're already pre-registered for next year.

*I've posted no pictures because I haven't asked parents for permission to put their kids' photos on the internet. I don't feel right about just slapping other people's pictures up without permission.

Happy Birthday to my sweet husband!

Today is Ruf's 34th birthday. It's one of the few days of the year that I actually get up in the morning with him and make his breakfast. He sat down to a meal of bacon, French toast made with country wheat bread, and a big glass of milk (ick!). I gave him some candy for his desk at work and an Ebay gift certificate so he can order whatever vintage Star Wars stuff he wants. (I'm always afraid to buy that stuff myself as I really don't know what I'm looking for.) We have tickets to see The Simpsons Movie tomorrow night. I ordered crazy-expensive, custom-made boots on Ebay for his Imperial Officer costume that is being made. He won't have those for a few more weeks, though. And tonight he'll have a couple of small gifts to open.

I'm always willing to either cook whatever he wants or go to any restaurant of his choosing on his birthday. For tonight he has simply requested a thin-crust pizza. I make a pretty good pizza, but it's never as good as what you get from a real pizza place, so I'll be placing an order tonight for delivery.

It should be a pretty nice birthday for him.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Best strawberry cake EVER

Ruf's birthday is tomorrow. Because it's just the two of us, a birthday cake at home isn't the most practical thing. Instead, we had birthday cake with the youth group tonight. I baked a cake and a half. I had the traditional two-layer round cake, but naturally, I forgot to take a picture of it before it was devoured. I also baked half a cake in an 8x8 inch square pan so that we'd be sure to have enough. I only managed to get a picture of that one, and it's mostly gone.

A thank-you to my friend Judy for finding this recipe for me. Ruf asks for strawberry cake every year, and this is the first recipe that we've both been extremely happy with. I'm not fond of the ones that involve jello in the batter or have whipped cream for icing, and this recipe avoids both of those common strawberry cake ingredients.

Strawberry Cake
Use fresh strawberries to decorate the top of this decadent cake.
Serves 12
• 2 cups unbleached organic flour*
• 1 cup natural cane sugar
• 1 TB baking powder
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 4 eggs
• 1/2 cup unsalted organic butter, melted
• 1 cup pureed strawberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
• 1/2 cup organic milk

• 1 box powdered sugar
• 4 TB unsalted organic butter, melted
• 4–6 TB puréed fresh or frozen strawberries
• fresh strawberries for decoration
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter (or spray) and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans or one 9x13 cake pan. Set aside. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat remaining ingredients together. Add to dry, beating with a wire whisk. Pour into prepared cake pans. Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes or until done when tested with a toothpick.
To make the frosting, sift powdered sugar into melted butter. Add strawberry purée to spreading consistency. Frost the cake and decorate the top of the cake with fresh strawberries just before serving.
* If desired, you may substitute part of the unbleached flour with whole wheat pastry flour or white wheat flour
Nutrition Info
Per Serving (140g-wt.): 410 calories (120 from fat), 13g total fat, 8g saturated fat, 1g dietary fiber, 5g protein, 71g carbohydrate, 100mg cholesterol, 350mg sodium

What one layer of the cake looks like:

What the cake plate looked like after the youth devoured the pretty cake I forgot to take a picture of:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ruf's kidneys

Ruf had his annual appointment with his nephrologist today. I was shocked to learn that he's down to 46% kidney function. I haven't accompanied Ruf to his appointment in about 3 years, but since one car was in the shop today, and I needed the other one for errands, I had to take Ruf to work and pick him up for his appointment. In the past when Ruf would return home from the nephrologist's, I'd ask him what the doctor said. His answer was always, "I'm fine." He never could seem to recall any details for me. You know, details such as what percentage of kidney function he has remaining. Details that might actually be important!

I was alarmed because the last I'd heard, he had about 60% kidney function. He's only had this diagnosis for 7 years, so that seems like a dramatic decrease in a short amount of time. His doctor assured me that he's fine, and he's seen patients with this disease hold steady with that amount of kidney function for years. I asked if I need to adjust his diet, and he said no. However, he did give Ruf some prescription fish oil pills to try. (Prescription because that means the amount is actually controlled by the FDA and therefore consistent, unlike OTC "natural" remedies you can buy in health stores.)

I'm worried, but trying not to be. Once he's down to 20%, he'll have his name added to the transplant list. We really want to avoid transplant if at all possible. I guess we'll have to just pray hard about this. Sometimes I wonder what God's will could possibly be for his having IgA Nephropathy.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Back from Youth Camp

It's 1:45am, we arrived home from camp about an hour ago, and I still have to shower before going to bed in order to get up in about 6 hours for church. Just wanted to let y'all know why I haven't been posting for the past week. I'll add updates later this week. I have a mountain of laundry to do, many hours of sleep to catch up on, and a Harry Potter book to read. Have patience with me.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Craft Room: Before and After

My craft room was a disaster. Paperwork, stray craft materials, a closet full of junk that needed to be tossed... I started tackling it a few weeks ago, bought a few things to jazz it up a bit, and I finally got around to completing it all today. For your amusement, before and after pics.

Before the cleanup (yeah, this is embarrassing):

Ugly filing cabinet before its makeover:

Craft room after:

File cabinet after its makeover:

Harry Potter 5 Movie Review

Um, I didn't like it. I didn't hate it or anything, but I just didn't like it. Things were done out of order, they sped through the events of the book, they left out important information, things were not clearly explained... Shall I go on? Ruf has never read the books, so he was left confused by some of the things in the film. I realize that it must be beyond difficult to cram 900+ pages into one little film, but I just believe it could have been done better. Make it a 3-hour film, for one thing! They did that with The Lord of the Rings, and no one really complained. (Well, I did, but that's because Ruf and I always have an argument over where to sit in the theater. He wants to be dead center, and I want to sit where I can get up easily to go to the bathroom because my bladder can't make it through an entire 3-hour film.)

The most disappointing scene: Fred's and George's grand exit from Hogwarts. It's the best scene in the book, and I think the film makers just didn't properly capture it. For one thing, the movie had Fred and George interrupting exams to make their exit. They wouldn't do that sort of thing!

Oh, and this film was one giant migraine trigger. I have some issues with my vision (long story), but fast-sweeping camera shots and anything not shot on a tripod gives me a horrible migraine. There were a lot of those types of shots, so I left the theater nauseated and in pain.

I'm still glad that I went, though. But this experience just proved that the books are always better than the movies.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What constitutes a good day?

I had a doctor's appointment this morning because I have an infection. You'd think that would make for a lousy day, but it's all good. I got medicine, and now I don't have to worry about being sick while we're at youth camp next week. I also lost weight without even really trying, so that always makes for happy news.

I went to Target and bought a birthday gift for Ruf. I like buying presents. I also found a new product: Pringles Cinnamon Sweet Potato Crisps. Probably not the healthiest thing, but an interesting new snack. Found a few other things that we needed, and it makes me feel good to know that I'm taking care of our family.

I went to Petsmart to buy more cat litter and food. The food was on sale, and with my PetPerks card, I'll get a $5 gift card for buying it. Also, a lady was in the store with a beagle. I think beagles are the cutest dogs EVER, so seeing one made me happy. Having a fresh bag of litter made my kitties happy, and I'm happy when they're happy.

Right after I returned home from the doctor's office and errand running, I received a very special phone call. My best friend from college is coming to town later this month, and she wants to get together! What a gift!

And the perfect way to end a good day? We're going to see the new Harry Potter movie tonight!

Really, it doesn't take much to make a day good for me.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Geek Love

Today's Heart of the City said it all. Geeks have their own criteria for relationships.

For the record, I do not dress up in Star Wars costumes. Ever. Just the occasional t-shirt. Ruf is just happy that I don't mind that he dresses up in Star Wars outfits and hangs with a bunch of other people who do, too.

Works-for-Me Wednesday: Nausea Relief

I'm a migraine sufferer and have been for 10 years. In the past year or two, my migraines have been occasionally accompanied by nausea. Being in pain and sick to your stomach is, to put it mildly, unpleasant.

I've found that ginger Altoids are wonderful for nausea. If I start feeling sick to my stomach from a migraine, I pop a couple of ginger Altoids in my mouth and suck on them for a bit of relief. Ginger is supposed to be good for nausea, and I guess the makers of Altoids actually put enough of it in there to do some good!

For more works-for-me ideas, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Doogie the Destroyer strikes again!

Ruf did an all-day fireworks thing on Saturday, so I'd packed a cooler for him full of drinks and food. He brought the cooler inside on Sunday, and we emptied it. However, neither of us remembered to dump out the melted ice, which was several inches high.

It didn't occur to either of us that Doogie, who is obsessed with water, would notice this cooler. I was sitting in the living room reading the paper, when I heard a crash, then a splash from the kitchen. Doogie had dumped over the cooler to let all the water spill out. I ran in to find him happily chasing after the river of water that was now speeding across my kitchen floor. He was drinking it in absolute bliss because he likes his water to be running. Drinking out of the bathroom sink is like nirvana for him. We'd just cough up the $40 to buy him one of those cat fountains, but they're all made of plastic, and he's allergic. Plastic gives him a nasty case of acne, believe it or not.

Here's the sight of my kitchen after I took emergency clean-up measures with a bunch of junk towels. The garbage can does not normally sit in the middle there, but I had to move it because water had run under it. *sigh*

Someone please tell me that I'm not the only one with naughty pets!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Some Old Testament thoughts

Ruf and I teach the middle school Sunday school class at our church. For over a year now, we've been working our way through the Old Testament. Our kids have been hit hard with the New Testament up until now, but their knowledge of the OT has been spotty (and admittedly, so has mine). I think we focus so much on the Gospel in church, that we sometimes forget to examine the origins of our faith.

We're currently in I Kings. Lately we've been studying Solomon and the consequences of his disobedience to God. God made it very clear to the Jews that they were not to marry outside of their faith, but Solomon ignored that and married many foreign women. Just as God warned would happen, his wives brought their own gods and faiths into the marriage, and Solomon compromised. When his wives asked him to build shrines to their gods, he did. God told him that his descendants would reap the consequences of that action.

God had a prophet tell a guy named Jeroboam that he would be the next king of Israel, but he'd only have ten tribes. Solomon's descendants would keep one tribe (Judah) out of respect for Solomon's father, David, who is often described as a man after God's own heart. God said that if Jeroboam followed God's decrees, then God would be with him.

When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam took over as king. Israel came to him and told him that if he would lighten their yokes, they would serve him. Rehoboam's advisers (older, wiser, more experienced men) told him to do what they asked. But Rehoboam went to his buddies for advice instead. They told him to tell Israel that he'd make their yokes even heavier than anything they'd experienced with his father. Solomon scourged them with whips; he would scourge them with scorpions. Not exactly the way to win loyalty from your subjects, so they left him. As the prophet foretold, ten tribes followed Jeroboam, and Rehoboam kept only one.

This all really goes back to that if-then statement that Jerobaom received (and others before him had been told essentially the same thing): Do what God wants you to do, and God will be on your side. Foolishly go off and do your own thing (typically borne out of selfish human desires), and God isn't going to continue blessing you.

By this time, our class has more than noticed that the Jews were constantly in this cycle of turning away from God, having things go badly for them (wars, captivity), crying out to God to save them, God raises up a judge or king who saves them, the people worship God, then a few years later, they're back in the same old cycle.

When we reached the part today where Jeroboam was told that not only would he be king and rule over all that his heart desires (I Kings 12:37), but God would be with him and build him a dynasty as enduring as the one he built for David IF "you do whatever I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and commands, as David my servant did..." (I Kings 12:38 NIV), well it sounded simple enough. The kids are questioning why the Jews kept messing that up. I mean, God is promising he'll be with them and bless them IF they just do what he tells them.

Of course, Jeroboam failed to do what God said. Because Rehoboam's kingdom was in Jerusalem with the temple, Jeroboam feared that once Israel went there to make sacrifices and worship God, they'd decided to just start following Rehoboam. Never mind that God promised he'd be with Jeroboam if he did what was right. Jeroboam liked being king too much to remember that part, and he let his human "wisdom" get in the way. He rationalized his way into committing a grave sin by building golden calves and shrines for the people to worship. He even appointed priests who were not Levites (Levites being the tribe of priests).

So really, at this point, none of Israel was doing the right thing. It was split in two, and both sides were sinning against God.

Looking back at this from a historical perspective, it all seems so cut-and-dried. To us, it's obvious that they brought all these difficulties on themselves by disobeying God. It doesn't sound so hard to do what God was telling them to do, and yet, they were constantly messing that up.

But is that any different from how we are today? I'm not meaning to pick on the Jews; they just happen to be the people the bible deals with. I've always heard that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. And yet, even when we do know history, we still make the same mistakes. The ancient Jews knew their history. We Christians know their history, and yet we still try to trust in our own supposed-human wisdom rather than listening to God. We seek the advice of our peers rather than that of the elders who have been around a while and know better. We pridefully believe that we really know what's best and God will come around once he sees how smartly we handle things. (Yeah, right.) We like feeling powerful, and we fear we'll lose that if we do what God wants. We cease to feel like we need God, so we toss him aside to do our own thing.

We have an entire book full of the consequences of that, yet we still do it.

One of the greatest lessons, in my opinion, goes back to David. David sinned badly when he took Uriah's wife, got her pregnant, then moved Uriah to the front lines of war so that he would be killed in an effort to hide his (David's) sin. It's a pretty nasty situation, and in many ways, seems much worse than Solomon's marrying outside of the faith. So what's the difference? Why is David so well remembered as a man after God's own heart? He repented. That's really what it all boils down to. He was confronted with his sin by the prophet Nathan, and he repented. He was grieved when he realized what he had done. And he didn't repeat that mistake. God didn't desert him. Actually, it's not that God deserts anyone, but he won't bless us when we're steeped in sin and not sorry for it. Solomon pridefully married his wives and never repented of that sin. Rehoboam and Jeroboam chose to do things their own way, and they did not repent of their sins. But David repented, and God blessed him.

If only we could remember that part of history best. That's the point we've been trying to stress with our middle schoolers. We're all going to sin. We're human, so that's just a given. The difference is in our hearts when confronted with that sin. How we react makes all the difference to our relationship with God.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Transformers movie

Ruf has been chomping at the bit to see the new Transformers movie. He was big into transformers as a kid. I wasn't as eager to see this film since transformers are nothing to me. But I do love Shia LeBeouf; I think he's a really great young actor. So, we went to see the movie last night.

My verdict: It's GREAT! I'd totally see it again. I had no idea that those stupid little toys could be turned into such a fantastic movie! Ruf was not disappointed, and I was more than pleasantly surprised.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Will wonders never cease?

The sun is actually shining today! And I can see blue in the sky! Maybe we can stop production on the ark!

Even better, maybe I can actually paint stuff pink now! I have to wait for Ruf to get home because 1)I've never used spray paint and I'd like a tutorial, and 2)I can't carry the ugly filing cabinet to the garage by myself.

Here's to hoping that this strange new weather holds up for a while longer!

You know what's really odd? I was sitting in the living room this morning while reading the newspaper, and it occurred to me that it's July in Texas, and not only was my AC not running, but I didn't even have the ceiling fan on! And I was perfectly comfortable. Very, very weird stuff going on lately.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The way to a cat's heart (besides tuna)

A pot of fresh wheat grass makes for happy cats. I get mine at Sprouts for only $1.69, although today's pot was free because the boy couldn't get the thing to ring up. Petsmart and Petco sell similarly sized pots for a whopping $4.99! If you have cats, look for wheat grass at your grocery store. It'll likely be cheaper, and your cats will love you for it. It helps settle their tummies.

Calvin happily munching his fresh pot of grass:

A lovely thank you

This is the best piece of mail I've received in a while. There's nothing like little girl handwriting to warm an auntie's heart!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Texas flooding from my own yard

We've had non-stop rain for weeks now. This is today's latest.

View of the flash flooding in our street from my front porch:

Our backyard in all its flooded glory:

We really need a break from all this rain!

Reading, rambling, and a little bad news (for me)

I don't know what my deal is lately with my reading materials. It's all juvenile. I guess there are just so many great stories out there, and it doesn't really matter what age group they're written for. At least, that's what I tell myself. :-)

Yesterday I started listening to Shiloh. This book is really, really good! I have no idea why I never read it as a kid. Maybe because it deals with an abused dog. I don't handle animal abuse well, but this isn't bad, at least not so far. And it's about a beagle, which is the cutest breed of dog that God ever invented! (Caroline, if you're reading this, ask your mom to take you to the library to get this book! I think you'd like it, and it's your reading level.)

Last night I finished book 4 in the Mediator series. One of the girls in our youth group recommended these books, so I'm borrowing her copies. It's a pretty good series, which feels weird to say considering I hate the narrator's style, and the main character gets on my nerves. It's definitely a teenage girl series. Easy, no brainwork-involved kind of read.

Today at the library, I picked up the 6th book in the Charlie Bone series. A few years ago, The Dallas Morning News had an article on good books to read if you're having trouble waiting for the latest Harry Potter book. The Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo was given mention. My dad and I were both intrigued, so he went out and bought the books. They're good. Nowhere near as good as Harry Potter, and a much easier read, but they really are great if you like a little mystery and unusual gifts that humans don't typically possess. (Again, if you're reading this, Caroline, ask your mom to take you to the library for these books. If you can't find them, then beg Grandpa for his copies. You know he has a hard time saying no to you and your sisters!)

Now for the bad news. The library had signs up today saying that as of August 1, they will no longer have a 3-day grace period for turning in overdue books. That's going to wind up costing us some money, I fear, because I really do rely on that grace period!

Re-joining the cable ranks

When I quit working 8 years ago, we gave up cable as one of our ways to cut back financially. We've only been paying for what I call super-basic cable all this time. By that I mean that we've been paying approximately $11/month to be able to clearly view all major networks and local channels, a slew of Spanish channels, home shopping channels, big-haired religious networks, and the bone they threw us called The Discovery Channel. However, for this most basic of service, the cost recently rose a whopping $4 to $15/month.

For the most part, we haven't really missed having all those other channels. It keeps up from being attached to too many shows, and we don't tend to waste time blankly staring at the screen because more often than not, there's nothing worth watching. It's good for us.

But Verizon finally made us an offer we can't refuse, and we're re-joining the ranks of those who have a billion different channels.

We already have Verizon Fios internet and phone service. Together, we pay a little over $80/month for that. We've now been offered a pretty sweet deal in which they throw in Fios cable TV, as well, for only $99.99/month. That's only $5 more than we're now paying for our internet, phone, and cable. So, for only the additional cost of one Blockbuster rental, we'll have about 200 more channels from which to choose.

Truthfully, I'm a little nervous. I'm used to the fact that there's nothing on during the day at my house. But I know that won't be the case when we switch over, and I fear losing time to watching all the shows I've been missing out on all these years. I know from watching cable when I catsit for friends that one channel pretty much shows Star Trek all day! (I can hear the Sirens singing to me already.) And then there are all the shows on cleaning, organization, scrapbooking, etc. that will likely suck me in. This could be very bad.

But Ruf is positively drooling over the idea of having the Sci-fi channel again. (I'm drooling right alongside him on that one!) We'll see how this works out. Next Wednesday is installation day.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Rain Rain Go Away (but only for a little while)

North Texas has been hit with so much rain lately! Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good, rainy day. But even I'm reaching my limits with this! There are little blessings, of course. Our drought-stricken lakes are now way above normal levels. We haven't had to water our foundation at all this year, which means our water bill is not astronomical as it typically is at this time of year. The temperatures haven't reached this-must-be-what-hell-feels-like numbers. And, we're blessed that we haven't been flooded like so many of our fellow Texans have.

Here's where I start whining. I have some stuff that I really want to spray paint! In order to finish off my craft room, I have some very pretty hot pink spray paint for a bulletin board and our filing cabinet. I married into one of the world's ugliest file cabinets with a fake wood-grain look. Ruf has said I can paint it pink! Woo-hoo! (I'm definitely a pink kind of girl.)

But I can't paint anything with all this darned humidity!

I don't want the rain to go away forever. Just for a few days so that I can make things a pretty shade of pink. And to let everyone dry out a bit in preparation for the next round of storms.

*sigh* Seems like we do everything in extremes in Texas. We're either in a drought, or we're drowning.