Married to the Empire

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Meaning of Frugality

Our pastor gave a definition for frugality last Sunday that I just loved. He said that frugality is recognizing that everything God has given you is a gift. I take that to mean that I am to be thankful for all the Lord has given me, careful with it, and use it wisely. Always a good reminder!

When the Grocery Store Goes Out of Business

The Albertson's near my church is going out of business. (Thankfully, the one by my house is very much alive and well!) They had turkeys on sale for 29 cents a pound. I bought a 12-pounder for only $3.53! I prepared it yesterday.

We had a typical turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and cranberry sauce. After dinner I set about the task of deboning the turkey and fending off anxious cats who wanted their share. I filled one of my larger mixing bowls with turkey pieces.

I packaged most of it for the freezer by putting it in ziplocs. I wound up with 5 bags for the freezer. The rest was put into a Rubbermaid container for the fridge. We'll eat it as leftovers, or I'll make something else with it.

Counting last night's dinner, I'm getting at least 7 meals out of $3.53 worth of meat. That comes out to approximately 50 cents per meal! Pretty good, don't you think?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cats: The Musical

We went to Fair Park in Dallas last night to see Cats. Steven had never seen it, and it had been 16 years for me. I was worried about whether or not Steven would like it, especially as other guys were giving him sympathy for having to go and making it out to be dreadful. (Thanks a lot, guys!)

I met Steven at his office, then we went out for a quick bite to eat. We arrived early at the theater, so we had some time to look around and just people watch. I discovered that many of the women of Dallas have a dressing problem. Way too many people wearing jeans. On opening night. And if they did dress up, they did bizarre things like wear rubber flip-flops with a nice dress.

I snapped a picture of the lineup of posters for this year's Dallas Summer Musicals.

The musical was wonderful. It was not as good a production as the one I saw in London all those years ago, but it was still enjoyable. The woman who sang "Memory" was amazing. The set was beautiful, and they did some interesting things beyond the stage.

Best of all, Steven enjoyed it! Singing, dancing cats will never be his thing, but he did enjoy the show, and that's what matters. Besides, he made his wife very, very happy by agreeing to go.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tasteful Star Wars Decorating

Other women are often amazed that I allow Steven to have a Star Wars room in our house. Considering it's his house, too, why not? Besides, I tell people that it keeps the Millennium Falcon from making its way onto the mantel in the living room.

I never really thought that a home could be decorated tastefully in Star Wars until I saw Mike and Lindy's house. I didn't take pictures of everything, but I did get one wall in their living room.

My favorite room, though, is their half bathroom. It's the Princess Leia room, and I love the way the Rebel symbol is incorporated into the walls.

This is just a snippet of their Star Wars decor, but I can assure you that the rest of the house looks just as nice. While I'm still not ready for more than a Star Wars room in my house, I completely admire what Mike and Lindy have done with their home!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Stormtroopers at Indiana Jones

We went to see the new Indiana Jones movie this weekend with some of the other stormtroopers. None of us were too impressed with the movie, but we had fun taking pictures of Dodger at the theater. Dodger (short for Tree Dodger) is the mascot of the Biker Scouts in the 501st Legion. He travels around the world and has his picture taken wherever he goes.

Lindy is holding Dodger in the theater right after the movie ended:

Dodger hanging out with Ironman:

Kameron and Dodger posing in front of The Clone Wars poster:

Dodger discovering the restroom:

And finally, a picture of Steven trying to hold Dodger up to the Indiana Jones display:

Friday, May 23, 2008

They're Like Furry Kids

When the cats are awake, they want to be where we are. The dinner-prep hour is prime kitty time. They love to hang out in the kitchen just to see what's going on and be around just in case I might drop something tasty or decide to share.

I was making a fruit salad and realized I'd forgotten to move the chairs back into the dining room after vacuuming. My little shadows were sharing a chair and watching my every move. They're looking at the floor in this picture because I said Calvin's name to get him to look up at me, but it backfired and he prepared to get down and come to me. But aren't they cute?

It's Mom Time in their little furry world, but as soon as Steven gets home, they'll greet him at the door, scream for attention, then follow him all around the house because they're just so happy to see him. Really, they're like children; they just happen to have fur, can't get the hang of English, and sleep a lot. Oh, and we don't have to worry about paying to send them to college.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pulling Out the Sewing Machine

When I was having drain problems and ordered a garbage-disposal brush from The Clean Team last month, I went ahead and ordered a few other things. That order included some Furniture Feeder. Looking at their products, I saw that the furniture feeder is supposed to be used with the polishing cloths. The polishing cloths just look like squares of flannel. Having seen Shannon's post on how to make flannel burp cloths, I figured I could take her idea and make my own polishing cloths.

I did not bother with making things pretty and precise like her burp cloths. In fact, I didn't even measure anything. I took some flannel I had leftover from other projects and just cut squares or rectangles based on how much fabric I had. I sewed right sides together, leaving an open spot for flipping them right-side out. When I remembered, I also cut off the corners to make them not so bulky.

Once they were right-side out, I pinned the hole closed to keep the fabric neatly together.

I then sewed all around the cloth for a nice finished edge. This effectively closed the hole so that I didn't have to do any hand sewing, which I really dislike.

I wound up making 5 of these. I have plenty of the pink fabric left for more, but I think these will be more than sufficient for now.

This is just one of the projects I was referring to when I said that the creative bug was nipping at me. Now that I've successfully done this, my confidence in my sewing skills is up a bit, so I'm going to try some other stuff. If it works out, I'll share it with you when it's done!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


We brought this Easter Lily home from church a couple of years ago. Steven planted it outside since Doogie would try to eat it if we kept it inside. (They're poisonous to cats.) We thought it died, but it blooms bigger and better every spring.

Can you see the bee?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Book Recommendation

I always have an audio book for listening to while working in the kitchen. I just finished listening to Feed by M.T. Anderson. It takes place in the future and follows a teenaged boy named Titus. Everyone has the feed implanted in their brains, and it constantly streams advertisements for the latest trends, things to do and buy, and responds with suggestions based on whatever a person has just thought about.

Titus and his friends meet a girl named Violet on a spring break trip to the moon, and Titus' life is forever changed. Titus forms a close relationship with Violet, who tries to fight the feed.

The language in this book is bad: vulgar and lacking in sophistication. However, I think the author was making a point. Not only does the feed dumb the population down, but their vocabularies are lessened significantly since no one bothers learning much beyond how to maximize the feed and follow the latest trends. It's also meant to signify a futuristic version of the typical teenage banter.

This book is a powerful look at a dystopian future in which corporations have taken over the world, turned people into worthless beings outside of the act of consumption, and made life little more than a restless search for the next big trend. A society that does nothing more than incessantly consume products cannot survive.

International Shipping

My niece Emily turns 7 next month, which means that Uncle Steven and Aunt Anne Marie have a nice present to send to her. As she had her ears pierced when she was home last month, we bought her some very sparkly new earrings. Emily loves sparkly things, much like her aunt!

Earrings were the solution to problem #1 in international shipping. They are small and weigh little, which is important for keeping shipping costs low.

Problem #2 is what to ship it in. The store gave me a nice little jewelry box to put the earrings in, along with a cardboard box for wrapping.

The presentation box adds a little class to the gift, but it also adds significant weight. I had to set it aside. Instead, I used some pretty bluebonnet tissue paper to wrap the earrings in. (I like to throw in little reminders that these kids acquiring British accents are actually 6th-generation Texans!)

I wrapped the box in pretty paper and ribbon.

It's now in a padded envelope, addressed, and ready to go to the post office.

Updated to add: The package was only $3 to ship! If you regularly ship things overseas, you'll know that that's cheap!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Replacement Tree

Our beautiful Bradford Pear tree fell last fall. It was such a big, gorgeous shade tree. I was sad. I'm still sad.

Today, it was replaced with a much hardier Live Oak. It's going to be a while before it gives any shade, but it's a tree. I need trees.

My sweet stormtrooper has been working so hard on our yard lately. I appreciate his efforts.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Like Slapping Jewelry on a Pig

If you're a regular reader here, you might have noticed that I deleted a post. Steven showed me YouTube video of his time onstage at the Improv with The Dorkside Comedy. I posted the video right on my blog, in spite of the fact that it had some really crude language in it. I knew when I posted it that it wasn't really the kind of thing that made sense for my blog, but it had my stormtrooper in it, so I posted it in spite of my misgivings. I put up a disclaimer about the language, but it still didn't feel quite right.

My husband told me tonight that he thought I should take it down. He mentioned that we have family and church friends who read my blog. Some of our youth have even been known to stop by once in a while. He didn't think the video was something I should have here. He merely confirmed my own misgivings about it, so I deleted it.

This experience reminded me of something I just emailed out to our middle schoolers last night. We're wrapping up our 3-year study of the Old Testament by having everyone read Proverbs. There are 31 Proverbs and 31 days in May, so we're all reading a chapter a day. On Sunday mornings we come together and everyone writes on index cards the verses that really meant something to them that week. We put the cards on the bulletin board and discuss them.

Last night in my email, I said that Proverbs 11:22 is my favorite verse so far this week. It says, "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion." I guess I should have taken that more to heart because I think I lacked a bit of discretion when posting that video. No, I haven't had anyone say anything to me about it (other than my husband), but knowing that I had misgivings about it to begin with should have prevented me from posting it at all. I don't know if anyone even saw it, but I felt like I should say something about why I deleted it. I'm no wiser than our precious middle schoolers; I need the reminders in Proverbs as much as they do. I want to be a light pointing to Christ, not a pig wearing jewelry.

Electricity Savings

I posted last month about air drying more of our laundry to save on wear and tear of our clothes, but also to save on electricity. Well, it worked! I just received our latest electric bill. In the month that I've been doing more air drying, our electric bill has gone down by $22! The last 2 months have been similar in electricity usage: no heat, no AC (well, I did turn it on over the weekend, but it's barely run), lights and appliances getting approximately the same use. The only real difference has been use, or rather non-use, of the dryer.

Small changes really can make a difference!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Works-for-Me Wednesday: Razor for Travel

I had a coupon for a significant amount off the Gillette Venus Breeze razor. That, coupled with Extra Care Bucks offered on the razor at CVS, and I decided to try it.

I'll be honest: It's not my favorite razor. It works well, but I prefer shaving gel and a normal razor without weird, gooey things attached to it. However, I realized that because of those weird, gooey things, this is the perfect razor to take to youth camp with me this summer. Because one doesn't need to use shaving gel with this razor, it will make shaving in those tiny cubes that pass for showers at camp an easier experience. (If you've ever experienced the joy of attempting to shave in one of those minuscule showers, you'll totally understand my excitement.) It's one less product to juggle in the shower while away from home.

For more WFMW ideas, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Pied Piper

But of cats, not rats. The man sits down, and suddenly both cats are right there wanting to be with him.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Weekend Snapshots

We had a too-busy weekend. We've needed grass for a few spots in our yard, so Steven spent Saturday and Sunday laying sod. (Non-yardworking me actually helped willingly on Saturday.) Not only does the yard look better, but it should help with some of our drainage issues.

While laying sod, Steven also set up this space for flower gardening:

I decided to spruce up our deck chairs, which were getting a little rusty. Some Rustoleum spray primer, followed by regular spray paint, and they're good as new:

And a very sweet and unexpected surprise awaited me on Sunday morning:

Some of the girls in our youth group presented me with this card they'd made for me. They signed it with very sweet messages saying I'd blessed their lives and am like a second mother. It just about made me cry. I'm truly blessed with some great kids in my life.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I mentioned yesterday that the creative bug has been nipping at me. One thing I needed to do was make some cards. I still have a ton more to make, but the immediate need was for Mother's Day and congratulatory cards. I used my new bird stamps for the Mother's Day card:

Inside is stamped the conventional "Happy Mother's Day." I did a little chalking on the bird and nest, but I don't think you can really see it in the photo.

I also needed to make a congratulatory card for our youth minister, who graduated from college today. I wanted to make something more masculine for him:

Friday, May 9, 2008


Sorry if the blog hasn't been of great interest lately. I'm actually attempting to be off the computer more to, you know, accomplish stuff. Novel concept, don't you think?

The creative bug has been nipping at me, so I'm attempting to get going on some projects, in addition to just taking care of household needs. Remember that stinky drain I posted about? Well, that morphed into a full-fledged blocked up sink. Had to call in the professionals. Just another repair to this house that feels like it's falling down around us. Homeownership is such fun sometimes. Blah.

On the bright side, I received an email last night from Ticketmaster. I usually delete those because I have no desire to buy overpriced tickets to see New Kids on the Block (can you believe they're back?! Why?!) or whatever lame group is currently touring. But this time, I bit. They were offering tickets for Cats, which happens to be my all-time favorite musical! My husband actually agreed to go without any complaining that it's just singing and dancing cats. I seriously love that man! I haven't seen this musical in 16 years, so I'm excited!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Mind Is a Fascinating Thing

I'm rereading Madeleine L'Engle's A Wind in the Door right now. The whole Wrinkle in Time series has always been a favorite of mine. I've read it many times.

What always interests me is how my mind always pictures the settings the exact same way. However I first saw the book is what forever stays in my mind. The Murrys' house is always partially the house I lived in as a child in a suburb of Houston. The elder Murrys' lab is always an extension of that house, and Meg's attic room is up a set of stairs that didn't exist in my home, but there they are beyond the doorway into the hall.

Every book is this way. Once it's been pictured in my mind, that picture never alters. Something might be added if I missed a detail in a previous reading, but in general, it's always the same. It doesn't matter how old I was when I first read something; it always comes back to me. That's just one of those things about the human brain that fascinates me.

Just don't ask me what I ate for lunch the day before or why I walked into a room, because chances are, I won't remember.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Empire Takes Over

We've had this furniture in place for a mere 2 days. Already, the stormtrooper in my life has claimed the space:

It never takes long for the Empire to take over.

Guest Room Re-do

We've lived in this house for 9 years now. When we first moved in, we had guests coming within a month, so I did up my guest room in a hurry. I wish I hadn't because if I'd given myself time to think about it, I wouldn't have put a queen-sized bed in there. It just ate up the tiny room.

It didn't seem to matter where we placed the bed. It was just always too big for the space.

Last week, we gave the bed away. We rarely have overnight guests (the last was in December 2006), so it made sense.

My parents had a super-nice futon (I realize that does sound like an oxymoron, but it really is super nice!) that they wanted to get rid of. I had a guest room that needed to be refilled. You can see where this is going.

They brought the futon over on Sunday night. Doesn't it make the space seem so much bigger? Between the old guest bed and Steven's stormtrooper-armor bag, I couldn't even walk into that room before. Now there's plenty of room, and if we have overnight guests, they'll still have a place to sleep.

The futon actually has a very nice cover on it, but I put the quilt from the old bed over it for this very reason:

I knew the cats would waste no time in finding the new bed. It's so much easier to whip off a quilt to toss in the washer to get rid of all the cat hair than to wrestle a futon cover off and on again.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Scenes from Saturday

The community garage sale at the high school where I bought a cookbook for $1:

The cats having their first baths of the year (yes, we bathe our cats). You can tell by their faces what they think of it:

The challah I baked to share with our middle schoolers at church on Sunday morning. We're wrapping up a 3-year study of the Old Testament, so I decided to give them a traditional Jewish Sabbath treat:

Steven working on some late-night plumbing issues with the kitchen sink. He wasn't happy:

Friday, May 2, 2008


We're doing a furniture switcheroo in our guest room. The queen-sized bed in there was eating up the room, so we gave it to friends for their guest room. We're replacing it with something smaller. I'll show pictures of that when it's all done.

Because of moving the big bed out, I had to pull out the things that were under the bed. Not much, as we really aren't packrats, just a linens bag with our sheets and towels that we use each summer for youth camp and a box of letters. I hadn't looked at my box of letters in years, and I'd actually entertained thoughts of getting rid of it. But once I opened that box, I knew I'd have to keep it.

It's filled with cards and letters from friends and family. Letters from friends are bundled and tied with ribbons. We moved a lot when I was a kid, so I had certain friends I kept up with. I used to spend my algebra class writing multiple-page letters to my best friend from junior high school. (Don't worry; I did that because my algebra class moved too slowly for me. I was bored and had very high grades.)

I have cards signed "Love, Grandma and Grandpa." My grandpa died when I was 11. Those are now too precious to throw away.

I found a very large envelope with my dad's company's logo on it. It had our European home address on it, so I was curious about what large thing my parents sent me. Inside the envelope was this:

My daddy just wanted to make sure that while I was half a world away at college, I had a resource to let me know a little about my car and how it worked. Not that I ever cracked that book open, but it was a sweet gesture. And kind of funny because he had to know that I'd never read it!

The box of letters now has a new home under my bed. When I have a little time, I think I'll sit down and really read through some of those old letters. A little nostalgia can be a good thing.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Lifetime Warranty

My hubby just taught me a good lesson about warranties. We have a motion-detecting light on the corner of our garage. After the hail storm, it was no longer working. We're not sure if it was the hail that directly caused it to break, or a cracked casing that moisture got into. Regardless of the cause, it needed to be replaced, as it was not responding to any of Steven's attempts to repair it.

Steven went to Lowe's to pick up a new one. He didn't like the $70 price tag. As he was looking at the box, he saw that it stated it has a lifetime warranty. He decided to look into that.

When he returned home, he had me dig up the book on the light. He found a phone number to call, talked to a representative, and was told to package up the broken light and send it in.

Look what arrived today:

We did spent $10 on postage to send the old one in, but we still saved $60 by following up on the lifetime warranty. It's a minor amount, but in light of all the other repairs that need to be done around our house, every little bit helps!

My Little Rays of Sunshine

Do you see that? They're hugging and sharing Doogie's box nicely.

It's said that pets reduce stress. I've found this to be true. Well, most of the time.