Married to the Empire

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Weather 180

I posted last week about having the windows open on a balmy day in January. I asked for one little snow day.

Well, I sort of got what I wanted. Instead of snow, we got ice:

It was already starting to melt by the time I went outside with the camera, but it was enough to keep my husband home from work. We spent a nice day at home together. Can't beat that!

If you've never been to Texas, just consider this Texas Weather 101: The weather turns on a dime.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When Chocolate Makes You Sick... have to find other alternatives for when those chocolate cravings hit. Thankfully, I'm not one of those women who needs chocolate, but once in a while, I'd really like some. It's rarely worth the migraine that it causes, so I've had to work around it. If a recipe calls for chocolate chips, I might use peanut butter chips instead. Sometimes white chocolate (which contains no cocoa, which is what triggers the migraines) can be substituted, but it's often a tad too sweet for recipes. What to do?

Well, there's carob. Ordinarily, I find carob to be vile, but that's because I'd only tried it in waxy, chip form. That disgusting stuff doesn't even begin to come close to tasting like chocolate! I really wanted to make these no-bake cookies, so I decided to try again, this time with powdered carob.

I bought a high-quality version, and it actually smelled quite good when I opened the tin. I mixed up the ingredients, substituting carob for cocoa, and made these:

The verdict: actually pretty good. Chocolate would be better, but these are an acceptable substitute. The powdered carob is a billion times better than those nasty carob chips! Even my husband, who was very hesitant to try these, said they aren't bad.

No-Bake Cookies

1/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cocoa (or powdered carob)
1/2 cup milk
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups oatmeal

Combine sugar, cocoa, milk, and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the mixture starts to boil and cook for 1 minute. Add vanilla, salt, peanut butter, and oatmeal and quickly stir until combined. Drop teaspoons onto parchment paper and let cool.

And because I'd promised Beth my macaroni and cheese recipe, yet I kept forgetting until she just reminded me (sorry!), here's that recipe, too:

Macaroni and Cheese

1 pkg. (7 oz.) elbow macaroni
4 Tbls. butter
3 Tbls. all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (sharp cheddar is great in this)
2 tsp. spicy brown mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stin in flour until smooth, then gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat, then add cheeses, mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Drain macaroni; add to the cheese sauce and stir to coat. Transfer to a greased, shallow 3-quart baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Success... For Now

Because Calvin has lost more weight, yet his health is stable, the vet agreed with me that Mr. Drama is simply losing weight because he hates his renal diet and is on a Kitty Hunger Strike. I'd like to tell my cat to just suck it up and eat what he's given, but we all know that would be pointless.

The vet suggested a couple of new foods, and I ordered this one:

I chose Royal Canin simply because I could buy a small-ish bag, which means it was less expensive than a larger bag of a different brand. (It irritates me to have to buy a big bag of food, only to find that my cat won't touch it.) When it arrived, I opened it in Calvin's presence, and he stuck his face in to get a whiff. Then he got all excited. My cat dived into his food bowl once it was filled with the new food! That was late afternoon one day last week, and that evening he must have gone back 5 or 6 times to eat.

I think my boy has been hungry.

Several days later, he's still eating well:

To make this even better, Doogie's sensitive tummy hasn't had a problem with the new food. He's keeping the food down! I'm feeling optimistic.

I went ahead and ordered more. I hope his happiness over this food lasts. His pickiness isn't cheap. I've spent $120 on cat food in the past week. I haven't even spent that much on people food lately, including eating out!

Every day, I fear I'm getting just a little bit closer to becoming a Crazy Cat Lady.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dallas Excursion

I don't often venture into Dallas, as I rarely have a reason to. However, I'd received an invitation from artist Ryann Rathbone to attend her art showing at The Gypsy Wagon in Dallas. I went to school with Ryann in Norway, and I've been quite impressed with her artwork. As the shop is just across the highway from one of my favorite places to shop (Knox Street), I figured this was a great excuse to head out that way.

As my husband's office is on the way, I stopped off to have lunch with him. That's always a nice treat! We ate at a wonderful Korean restaurant. I'd tell you the name of it, but I don't know it. But it was good.

Then I headed to the Gypsy Wagon. (Please excuse the poor quality of the photos; I forgot my camera and had to borrow my husband's cell phone.)

It's an interesting little shop full of lovely, interesting items. Lots of decor and gift-type stuff, but also some clothing. Truthfully, I couldn't afford much of what was there. I really wanted to buy one of Ryann's prints, but considering all the car repairs of the last week and Calvin's vet visit, I just couldn't swing it. But I will. I start tutoring in March, and I've already told Steven that I'm going to use some of that money to buy one of Ryann's prints. Then I'll be responsible with the rest of it and stick it in savings.

After visiting with Ryann and looking around, I left and headed across the highway to Knox Street, where I went to my favorite store: Sur La Table.

I actually had some needs there, not just wants. A new meat thermometer and a microplaner were on my list. And as they had a sale on their fabulous wooden spoons, I picked up a couple of those. I also found a fantastic silicone spatula with a cute little frog prince on it on sale for only $4.99. I figured it would make a nice little gift for my friend who is into frogs and loves to bake. (I believe gifts need not be extravagant, but merely thoughtful and something the recipient would like.) I found a few other things, such as grapefruit spoons, some cookie cutters (only 56 cents each!), and ice cream sandwich molds, which were on clearance for only $2.99 (since I can't seem to find ice cream sandwiches that aren't made with chocolate cookies). It was a productive trip.

All said, it was a very nice way to spend a Friday afternoon!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Airing Out

Nothing says January like a balmy day in which the windows are thrown wide open.

If it's 79 degrees out, might as well take advantage of it. The house could use a good airing out, especially as I've been sick. The cats are restless, and sitting on the window sills, sniffing the outdoor air helps satisfy their primal urges to be out in the dangerous world without actually being in danger.

But is it too much to ask for just one little snow day?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Baking Session

My husband was looking helplessly around the kitchen yesterday morning for something he could grab for breakfast. We're not morning people, so leisurely breakfasts around the table are things that don't happen in our house before heading off to work. (And let's be honest, I'm not even typically out of bed when he heads off to work unless we're taking a car in for service, the cat has to go to the vet first thing in the morning, or I'm working that day.) Breakfast is usually a fend-for-yourself, grab-and-go affair around here.

Steven has some nasty breakfast burrito things in the freezer (I say nasty because eggs do not belong on bread--it's in the Food Rules that exist in my world), but after reading the nutrition information on the box, he's decided they're better as occasional treats.

I had to bake. I'd been meaning to since, like, December. But December was just so darned busy, then I got sick, then we went out of town, then I was recovering from all that, then I got sick again...

Anyway, I baked a ton of pumpkin and banana muffins today:

They're actually supposed to be baked as loaves, but I wanted something smaller with a shorter baking time. Besides, muffins package up so much more easily as small thank-you gifts:

One bag went to my friend Sandy because she was kind enough to take time out of her day off last week to pick me up at the mechanic's and take me home. And I was sick, so I could have infected her, and yet she still wasn't afraid to be in a car with me breathing the same air. That's friendship! The other bag went to my friend Karen because she's had us over to dinner a lot lately, including last night. I figured that deserved a little something. (Really, it deserves a big something, but this was what I had.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Faith in the Midst of Irony--Part 2

Oh, you're gonna love this...

The same day that I posted about praying over our finances, then having expensive stuff fall on us, my husband came home and tossed a little piece of black plastic at me. It was the lever for the hood popper on our Honda Civic. The check-engine light had come on, and when he tried to pop the hood to check the oil, the thing came off in his hand.

Why us?

The mechanic could take our car this morning, so we headed over there. Again. He brought some little contraption out that hooks up to something or other, looked at it, then got out of the car and opened the gas thing. (Sorry, I don't speak Car.) He removed the gas cap and told us that was the problem. Steven had lost the original gas cap years ago when he forgot to put it back on after filling up. He purchased a replacement, but it wasn't a Honda original. Apparently, gas caps do matter.

We had him go ahead and do an oil change, so that, along with receiving a special Honda factory-made gas cap, and we got out for only $49.

We're feeling very blessed right now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Faith in the Midst of Irony

Steven was paid on Thursday, so I sat down that afternoon to pay bills. After writing out our tithe check and one for a ministry we support, I prayed. I asked God to help us be good stewards of what he's given us and to help us to use our money wisely. I was feeling good.

Then, I drove our Honda CRV to run a couple of errands. The little arm on the temperature gauge kept rising, rising, rising, then almost hit the H. I asked Steven about it later, and he said that's bad. So, the car went to the shop on Friday, was diagnosed with a dead radiator, and received a new one.

Also on Friday, the vet called to say that Calvin was due for another checkup involving bloodwork and a urinalysis. I scheduled him for Monday morning.**

In case you're not noticing the theme here, it's that right after praying over our finances, two very costly things occurred. Mere hours had passed, in fact. I don't know about you, but I call that irony.

I also call it a test of faith. Honestly, I felt a little irritated with God, but figured that he knew what he was doing. Steven pointed out that we did have the money to pay for it all--in savings. True, but I was hoping not to touch that, as he's worried about layoffs in the future.

But he made a good point. We've been faithful to save each month, which means that when unexpected expenses hit, we're able to pay for them. Maybe this is just a tangible example of what it means to be good stewards. It doesn't necessarily mean that financial junk doesn't happen to us, but it does mean that we're able to pay for it when it does. I just wish it didn't happen so frequently. (Just look under the repairs link, and you'll see exactly what I mean.)

While I'd like the stuff to just stop happening, I'm doing my best to simply trust God through it all because ultimately, I can't place my sense of security in a bank account. I have to put it all in the Lord. Faith trumps irony.

**Calvin is fine. Kidneys are stable, no sign of infection, but he's lost weight because he's Mr. Drama and is making a big show of still not liking his renal diet.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sick But Obligated

We had a youth retreat this weekend. It was loads of fun--from what my husband told me. I had to miss the whole thing because I'm down with a nasty cold. Bummer.

This created a small problem. I was supposed to handle part of the Sunday-morning breakfast for the kids. Yummy baked goods, probably some (Not)Praline-Topped French Toast...

But I was sick, and the last thing I wanted to do was cook. The easiest thing for me would have been to hand my husband a $20 and tell him to pick up some sausage-cheese kolaches from the doughnut shop around the corner, but I refused to do that to him. In addition to little sleep all weekend, he came and slept at home on Saturday night so that he could get up more easily to make it to the 7:30am elders' meeting at church. I certainly wasn't going to make him get up even earlier to buy breakfast for the kids.

So I dragged my sick self to the grocery store on Saturday evening and bought this:

I washed my hands super well and made half of those cinnamon rolls look like this:

A little easier to get a smaller amount of sweet roll, and it helps stretch things a bit. But I did send in an entire pan of them still in their packaging.

Still not enough, so I scrounged in the fridge for something a little healthier and ended up with this:

Okay, if I'm being totally honest, that fruit bowl required a second trip to the grocery store. All I had at home were apples and bananas, and they made for a very bland-looking fruit salad. I did find some strawberries in the freezer, but they were iced up and freezer burned. So, I went out again to find a colorful addition. It was easy enough. Steven returned home without any of the food leftover, so it was successful, even if it wasn't terribly nutritious or homemade.

And then because there was a Sunday-night church dinner with a meeting held by the elders, which meant my husband was obligated to attend since he's an elder, I bought this:

Our church assigns dishes based on the first letter of your last name, and we were supposed to bring a salad this time. I didn't want to mess with making something, and frankly, do you want to eat food made by a sick person? I wouldn't want to! So, store-bought potato salad it was.

It's a lot more expensive to just buy everything ready made! But oh, so convenient.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bath Scrub

Back in December I posted about this relaxation gift basket that I put together for a gift exchange. If you look in the front right corner, you'll see a small mason jar with something lavender in it. That's some homemade bath scrub that I put together using Martha Stewart's recipe that was published in the December 2008 issue of Living.

I wound up making enough to fill two small jars, so I kept one for myself. This is pretty good stuff! My recommendation is to either increase the epsom salts or decrease the oil (I used sunflower oil), as I thought the recipe came out a little too oily. After using it a few times now, I can attest that it moisturizes and exfoliates beautifully. Because it makes the shower a bit greasy, I use it the night before I clean the bathroom.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cat Stuff

Steven put my ironing basket on top of my armoire because a certain little furball was peeing in it back when he had an infection. Then, he seemed to have liked using linens as a litterbox because he occasionally kept it up. So the ironing has stayed conspicuously up high.

But if you look closely, you'll see that the urinary culprit is sleeping in it now. Calvin isn't ordinarily a climber, so I was shocked when I saw movement up there and realized it was him in the basket! That's really more Doogie's thing.

Since I talked so much in the fall about all the stresses of dealing with Calvin's illnesses, I figured I should report positive news, too. He seems to be feeling great! He's been running around the house having "kitten fits" and wanting to play play play! He's eating fairly well, too. He's gained back a bit of the weight that he lost, and he seems pretty normal these days.

Some of this, however, is probably due to the fact that we caved. Our little carnivore, who isn't supposed to have meat, is getting his little meat treats again on occasion. He'd gotten so grumpy and miserable and had taken to wailing pitifully and drooling whenever we had meat with our meals. He was so unhappy, and it was affecting our entire household. I couldn't get through a day with him without his pacing and wailing and smacking at me whenever he was awake. I caved one day and gave him a tiny piece of chicken, and his entire demeanor changed. Mr. Grump became Mr. Sunshine, and he stayed that way for the rest of the day! We decided at that point that his quality of life is far more important than quantity. We may be killing him faster by giving him what he likes, but at least he'll enjoy the time he has left.

Right now, I'm just so grateful that life around here seems fairly normal again.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Does Organization Cost Money?

I don't know about y'all, but I get a little frustrated at all the organizing advice out there. Women's magazines are rife with it at this time of year. Have you ever noticed how whenever there's an article about finding storage space in a small house, it almost always involves expensive custom built-ins? Oh, sure. I can have shelving under my stairs. If I had stairs. Or some drawers in my window seat. Oh yeah, I don't have a window seat.

The best one is always the fabulous closet system for the person who owns 3 dresses, 5 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, and a few pairs of shoes. And everything is tan. Why yes, things do look lovely and organized! And also sparse and unrealistic. If I had that few articles of clothing, I wouldn't need the fancy closet system! Besides, a girl needs some pink punching up her wardrobe. At least, this girl does. And I don't wear tan. Ever.

I read this article in The Dallas Morning News last week. Because it was marked as one of their money-saving articles, I (naively) thought it would be full of great advice. Actually, the first person interviewed did give good advice. He suggested trash bags and a full round of purging. My kind of organization! But then it was followed by someone who works for the Container Store (expensive) and was (of course) pushing their products.

And then, the stylist. Oh geez. Apparently, a good, inexpensive way to organize your accessories is to display them on busts and mannequin hands. Uh huh. Mannequin hands. There's a certain creep factor that goes along with that piece of advice. And calling fake hands a budget-friendly option for organization? That's just nuts.

I'm suddenly feeling downright cheap for having spent a measly $4 on the hanging shelves I put in my coat closet last week. I finally have easy access to my purses!

And the drawer organizers for my bathroom? The entire package was $7, and I still have a couple left over. Much cheaper than mannequin hands!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Drawer Organization

Admittedly, organization is on my mind lately because my home somehow morphed into a cluttered mess. So, bear with me over the next few days because you'll probably hear a lot more about it.

My bathroom drawers were a mess. I had to dig to find my hair bands or barrettes, and I had a ridiculous amount of stuff. You know it's bad when you uncover gems like these (excuse the blurriness):

The first is a pair of barrettes that I received as a birthday present--in the 1st or 2nd grade! We're talking circa 1981-ish. How they've made it with me through 10 moves and more than 25 years is a mystery!

The second is just a testament to the early '90s. I'll leave it at that.

About 15 minutes of my time, and I suddenly had my 2 messiest drawers somewhat tamed:

Notice all those little button envelopes? Has anyone developed a decent system for dealing with all those little envelopes with extra buttons that always seem to accompany new clothes? My system, as you can see, is to throw them in a drawer. Not very sophisticated or effective. I wonder how many buttons I have that belong to clothes I no longer own?

Truthfully, I don't think I'm done. I kept way too many barrettes. Considering I rarely wear barrettes, this just doesn't make sense. But it's good enough. For now.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rubber Stamp Festival

Last week a friend told me about Heirloom Productions Rubber Stamp and Paper Arts Festival taking place in Grapevine this past weekend. I figured I'd just be going in to check out all the rubber stamps for sale. I'm too cheap thrifty to pay money to learn how to use glitter or whatever. Maybe if I were a more serious crafter, but since I just dabble, I couldn't see paying for a class.

I'm glad I didn't. Many of the vendors were doing free demonstrations.

I came home with so many new ideas, techniques, and yes, stamps and other supplies. (My birthday money is now gone.) I'm totally excited to get started on some of this stuff. I've been a little creatively challenged lately, but I'm all fired up to get working again.

Too bad my craft room is a wreck. I think dealing with that is #1 on the agenda for today. Well, that and doing semi-important things like, you know, buying food.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Living on Less?

Since saving money and living on less seems to be the big thing lately in light of the lousy economy, I thought I'd link to my series I did last year on One Income 101. I'm no money expert, but these strategies have allowed me to be a stay-at-home wife. We try to do our best with what the Lord has given us, and I do believe he has blessed our efforts in many ways.

My Wii Fit Thinks It's Hilarious

I don't know who programmed this thing, but dang.

I got on it the other night. It told me it had been 21 days since it had seen me. Then it said, "I don't know if I remember you... Steven." Hardy har har. Then it lectured me mildly.

Steven just got on it the next night. It did the same thing to him that it did to me and called him by my name. Then it asked him how he thinks I look! He had to click on options like, Slimmer, Heavier, The Same, and I don't remember the 4th option. He clicked on The Same. It told him change is so much more exciting. Then it asked him if he's been paying enough attention to me! That question was followed by a comment about how dogs are more motivated when their owners pay attention to them.

I think my Fit called me a dog.

I never thought we'd receive lectures or relationship advice from a video game!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Coat Closet Reorganization

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I need to clean out and organize around here. I started with my coat closet. (Well, technically, I started last week with my sweaters in my armoire, but it doesn't matter.)

The closet is really too small for all our coats. Make that, mostly my coats. I'm a girl; what can I say? Back in November I bought a hanging-shelf thing that's only 7 inches wide for a mere $4 at Ross. I needed to clean out enough space that I could hang that and get some stuff off the floor. Here's what I started with (pictures were taken after I'd pulled all the stuff out from where it sat on the floor of the closet:

I culled a few coats. I found one that was purchased when I was 17. I just turned turned 35. Out it went! I discovered I have an unbelievable number of gloves. Ski gloves? The only time I ever went skiing (and wore the ugly things) was in 1991. Time for those to go! I even found a few stray cat toys that my boys shoved in there.

By moving all my purses to the hanging shelves, getting rid of a couple of bags, putting both cat carriers on the floor, and dividing cold-weather accessories into separate bins (mine is red, Steven's is white), I was able to make this tiny closet much more functional, not to mention filled with only the things we actually use!

The finished product:

After I took pictures, I wound up adding some hooks to the door. I'll hang Calvin's harness and leash there, as well as umbrellas. I love being organized!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Resolutions? Goals? Or Just Getting It Together?

The start of a new year always means that people are talking about resolutions. They're resolving to lose weight, save money, work harder, or whatever. That's never made a lot of sense to me. If there's something that needs to be changed, why wait until January 1st?

The word goals doesn't bother me so much. Things like financial goals seem to make sense in January. The government considers it the start of a new fiscal year for us tax-wise, and we've just gotten over the gluttony of Christmas, so January always seems a good place to start with new financial goals. And every women's magazine is all about organization come January, so cleaning up the house makes some sense, too. All that new stuff from Christmas has to go somewhere.

But isn't it all just one giant realization that we don't have it all together? (surprise, surprise) If we were all perfect, no one would bother with these January resolutions. It's good to have goals, but it seems like we'd serve ourselves better by tackling big things one at a time, or at least taking baby steps to achieve them, rather than making lofty statements about life changes, then falling hard a few weeks later when they're not accomplished.

I can say that I do have goals for my life, but I don't like to think that January is the only time to start them. We set some new financial goals last year around the start of summer, and I'm pleased to say that we're still on track. My desire to clean out and organize my house started back in November (although admittedly, it did get sidetracked during the holidays). Exercise? Well, I think about it a lot but often do nothing. Receiving a Wii Fit for my birthday and a new DDR game for Christmas is helping me to change that, though. They're actually fun forms of exercise, which makes a huge difference for me when it comes to motivation.

Will I fail? At times, yes. I was all excited about my Fit when I first got it, but holiday activities kept me so busy that I didn't have time for it. Then I got sick, went out of town... Our financial goals experienced a short derailment last year when our cat got sick and had a lot of accompanying vet bills. The house is an ongoing thing. I clean and organize, and a little while later, it's a mess and needs it all again. My multiple posts about my craft room are a prime example of that! (And if you're wondering about the awful picture at the start of this post, that would be my guest room in all its current glory.)

I guess all that to say that January 1st, in my opinion, shouldn't be the make-it-or-break-it date for all things new. Resolve to make changes when you realize you need to make a change, regardless of the calendar date. And if you screw it up, you can always start over again.

Funny how that can lead to a spiritual application. (I've found that most things in life do.) As Christians we often get so excited about our relationship with God, then life happens, sin creeps in, and suddenly, we realize we're still our same old messy selves. Thankfully, God is a graceful God who loves us in spite of it all and is willing to forgive us when we fall. He is the God of fresh starts.

Lamentations 3:21-23:

Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Economy and the $3.60 Jeans

Like many Americans, Steven and I found ourselves at the mall at the start of the new year. (I think all of North Texas turned out at this mall; it was frighteningly crowded.) I needed to get a new mattress pad, and I had a 25%-off coupon for the J.C. Penney Outlet. After buying that, we wandered around a bit.

Alarmingly, many stores were having going-out-of-business sales. It's not too surprising given the economic hit our country has taken over the past several months. We just didn't expect to see it so blatantly, I guess. Granted, we have way too many stores around here, and we certainly weren't surprised to see the Virgin music store shutting down. We've wondered how they've managed to stay in business as long as they have given their super-high prices. But it was still a bit troubling to see so many stores closing down.

That leads me to the jeans mentioned in the title. When we were at the mall last week, we passed by Steve & Barry's. Like so many other stores, it's going out of business. I saw some cute t-shirts through the window, but they were closing for the night and not letting anyone in. So, I went back yesterday to have a look around.

All those cute t-shirts that were 5 for $10 last week were mostly gone and now priced at 10 for $10. Too bad they were all size small and looked like they'd only fit a 10-year-old. But they had jeans on sale 3 for $10. Wow!

This is where I ran into a slight problem. I really needed to try the jeans on to see if they would fit, but the fitting rooms were cordoned off with "Employees Only" tape. I found a store worker to ask about trying the jeans on. I started with, "Can I ask you a question?" She said, "No," and walked away. I was pretty shocked by that. I guess when you're losing your job, you cease to care about customer service! Then again, if that was always this store's attitude, good riddance!

I went ahead and bought one pair of jeans. I figured that even if they didn't fit, I was only out $3.60 after tax. Thankfully, they do fit all right. Not perfect, but all right.

I guess one good thing about this bad economy is that there are deals to be found all over the place. You just might have to put up with poor customer service to get them.

North Texas Winter

That would be one of our crepe myrtles dripping with ice. Never mind that it was 80+ degrees this weekend. This is Texas.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Few Holiday Highlights

Before we get too far removed from the recent holidays, I guess I should show a few highlights of our time off.

My wonderful Christmas Morning Birthday Breakfast at IHOP with friends, which is probably my favorite tradition:

My husband gave me a fantastic gateleg table for my birthday. I now have a dedicated table just for crafts in my craft room. I no longer have to remove things from my desk to do craft stuff. Best part of the new craft table is that it extends out to about 6 feet, but then folds up to take up very little space when not in use:

After Christmas we went to Abilene, Texas for a few days, just to get away. There is a great amount of history to be viewed there between the 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum, The Grace Museum, The National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature, Frontier Texas!, and Buffalo Gap Historic Village (where we had quite the feline entourage as we walked from building to building). We stayed in a lovely Victorian bed-and-breakfast, called The Vintage House. It's run by a sweet older couple, and we learned that the wife went to my alma mater, Baylor University.

My husband NOT enjoying The Apron Chronicles exhibit at the Grace Museum (I thought it was fabulous):

At the 12th Armored Division Museum, which is a museum dedicated to that particular military group who served in WWII, I was amused to see this tank right by a sign for the Abilene Ballet (click on the picture if you can't see the sign clearly):

I got up on my soapbox outside of Frontier Texas!:

Our lovely state flower in antique-quilt form, as seen in the Grace Museum:

And back at home for New Year's Eve, I failed to take any picture of the people at the annual party we always attend at the home of friends. But if you ever wondered if a half-grown kitten who probably weighs no more than 4 or 5 pounds can ski on the Wii Fit, the answer is, "Yes." I did manage to get a shot of Asa hanging out on the Fit. She actually made the Mii we'd set up for everyone ski.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year

My husband has been on vacation from work since Christmas Eve, and we went out of town for a while for a little mini holiday. We haven't had a vacation in 2 years since our house has been eating up all of our extra money (repairs, repairs, and more repairs). We went to Abilene, TX for a few days. (More on that later.) The blog has been neglected as I'm enjoying some time off.

I mostly just wanted to check in and wish everyone a happy new year. I think 2009 will be just as interesting as previous years. This is the year that my husband has this:

It's what he wanted for Christmas, so who am I to disappoint? Weirdness abounds in our home.