Monday, November 23, 2015

100 Things

My annual "Thankful" list. In general, these are in no particular order, as usual.  Didn't do it throughout the year like last year, which I think is a WAY better way to do it.  Next year I will remember to do it that way again.

I will list some important ones first :-)

1 Frank
2 Branden
3 Amber
4 Isabelle
5 Kaylee
6 Ryan
7 Austin
8 Carter
9 The Gospel of Jesus Christ
10 Living near family
11 monthly birthday get togethers
12 Weekly lunch with my parents
13 My sewing machine
14 Warm blankets
15 My covered back porch
16 The fact that my cherry tree made very few cherries this year and, therefore, my yard was much more enjoyable
17 snow
18 warm blankets
19 potato soup
20 recipes online
21 a reliable car
22 etsy
23 fuzzy/wool socks
24 iphone
25 computer
26 3M removable hangers for pictures/seasonal decor
27 home depot
28 Lowes
29 my cute yellow wallet that I got at a garage sale for .25
30 friends who take me to garage sales
31 botox for migraines.  Life changer.
32 doctors
33 washer and dryer
34 my basement storage room
35 double oven
36 sweet videos from the grandkids
37 texts/letters/email from ANYONE :-)
38 old friends who keep in touch
39 Jennifer and Jennifer.  Over 30 years now that we've been friends. Wow.
40 a paycheck
41 hair color
42 lotion
43 online banking
44 online shopping
45 compliments
46 funny friends
47 movies-at a movie theatre
48 netflix- sitting on my couch in my jammies
49 a garage to park in
50 automatic garage door openers
51 Frank's family
52 Nieces who come to visit!
53 tulips
54 the mountains!
55 rainy days
56 fried chicken
57 dark chocolate
58 airline miles
59 a good sharp knife
60 hugs
61 gorgeous sunsets
62 siblings nearby
63 my stripedy wall...makes me happy
64 my pressure canner
65 my sister who knows all about canning (among other things)
66 funny jokes and videos shown to me by my kids
67 Peonies
68 Thanksgiving Point Gardens
69 See's
70 comfy jammies
71 fuzzy, warm sheets
72 air conditioning in the summer
73 my food processor
74 Education Week
75 Mother's Day Weekend away (hopefully I'll get invited again in 2016)
76 cousins, aunts, uncles nearby that I get to see occasionally...wish it was more!
77 The Larson Cup
78 Emily.  Seriously her blog makes me happy on a regular basis.  Love that chick.
79 My siblings.  They are awesome.  I might have put that one already.  But it's double true.
80 3 years cancer free
81 bread
82 Cancun
83 missionary emails
84 a good book
85 The Peterson Family coming for Thanksgiving!
86 visiting my MA friends
87 The time (as short as it was) with Annette living here.
88 bleach
89 my living room curtains
90 massages (not that I've had one recently, but i just thought of it and now I think I should ask for that for Christmas!)
91 warm showers
92 fluffy towels
93 makeup removal towelettes
94 pedicures
95 spur of the moment trip to Idaho to visit Kristine. I love my friends!
96 our rental property
97 Craigslist/KSL
98 people who post tutorials online
99 Funny people
100 Anyone who read this whole list! mwah!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A winter chore

About this time every year,
I go through my clothes to put away the summer stuff and pull out the winter stuff.
Sweaters and wool socks and boots
 replace short sleeve shirts and sandals
corduroys replace shorts
the light weight fabrics go away and the warm and the fuzzy take their place.

And every year I think
"Man! I have a lot of ugly clothes!"
Why do I keep all this stuff?

There are summer shirts that go into the bin for half the year and then into my closet for the other half and I never wear them.
Sweaters that I buy and then see myself in a picture wearing them and after that they are stuck on the bottom of the pile, never to see the light of day again.

Even worse, there are clothes that go into the bin and then into my closet
and every time I see them I think how ugly they are...
but I wear them ALL THE TIME.
So I keep them.
Telling myself that I'm just being realistic...
I will wear them.
Even if I shouldn't.
Even if they are old and misshapen.
Out of style and frumpy.
Usually these are the kinds of things that I tell myself are "cozy" or "comfortable".

That is why they win.

And then there is the cute stuff.
A smaller percentage, I admit.
The stuff that doesn't quite fit but sure looked good when it did.
The stuff that I am just sure I will wear...after I lose that few pounds I've gained.

Every time I do this seasonal switch,
I have a few things that I give away to goodwill
because I decide to be realistic
(I won't wear that sweater, I know I won't!)
or because I am trying to overcome some kind of clothing nostalgia
(That shirt I've had since Branden was a baby really has to go)
or because I just know it's ugly even though I wear it all the time
(I won't miss it.  I'll find something that looks better)

It's an interesting little exercise,
a glimpse into how my brain works.
And it's a little scary, not gonna lie.

The following things made it past the goodwill bag this year and are currently in my closet:

two pair of boots that I don't wear very often because they are a bit too small...but they are cute and might look great and be worth the pain if I had the right outfit. Plus one pair was purchased by Frank in Spain when he was there on business...I have to keep those.
6 skirts that are really too small for me right now
(and probably don't have matching/coordinating's a known problem)
a plaid flannel shirt that I know bugs me when I wear it...the cut of it is weird, but gosh-darn-it, it looks so warm and comfy now. I can just wear it at home! (uh oh)
a different flannel shirt that I know is too tight and I just won't wear, but gosh-darn-it, I'm sure I'll love it when I'm a bit thinner (nope)
3 pair of corduroys.  Only one of which usually gets worn every year.
And several sweaters that I know look awful on me.
There are also the too tight pajama pants and coordinating too tight shirt that I got for Christmas last year
I have to keep them at least this year to show I liked the gift!
Even though I will not wear them and didn't really like the gift.
I hate being uncomfortable and especially when I'm sleeping for goodness sake!

So, the closet is organized and the drawers are full.
And Frank will still have to hear me moan about having nothing to wear.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

While it was snowing...

while it was snowing:
early this morning

later...this morning

I canned 16 pints of homemade sloppy joe sauce.
I'm not sure my final product tastes exactly like Manwich,
which was my goal,
but I think it is tasty enough that I will force my family to eat it.


Frank went to the store to get me a couple of peppers that I needed for dinner
and came home with the ingredients for pumpkin pie!
(he also got my peppers)
He says he needs to make a trial pie before Thanksgiving.
It smells amazing.
But I actually don't like pumpkin pie...
so it's very likely that he's going to have to eat it all himself.


I went to the chiropractor today.
It is so hard to find your network of people after you move!
Hairdressers, doctors, dentists, eye doctors, chiropractors.
We had people we liked a lot back in MA...
but it's still a work in progress here.

Frank hates our doctor so we are looking for a new one.
The eye doctor is ok.
There are two in the office: a woman who I like and a man that Austin said was creepy.
I am on my second chiropractor.
I can't decide if he is just an outgoing, happy kind of guy or if I am creeped out by him.
A lot of people here in the west are more talkative/touchy-feely/open than I am comfortable with
and it is probably just a west-east thing.
But I have trouble deciding if that is what it is and I'm being too stand-off-ish
or if I have just truly found the few people who are too talkative/touchy-feely.
His office is quite busy and no one else seems to think anything is amiss so I'm trying to stick with him for a bit.

The apartment is done!
I am so glad to be done with it.
Frank went over there today and did the last bit.
I hope I haven't just jinxed myself.


I put on my pajamas at 5:30 today.
I mean, it was snowing after all.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

It's happening

I can feel it happening.
the hibernation
Not a picture of today.  But a picture of how today feels to me.

I love fall and it makes me feel all energetic
I want to clean house and organize things
can and cook healthy
Hang pictures and decorate

and then the day comes when it gets just a little too cold
a snowflake falls

and my energy and excitement are gone.
I begin to want to lay on the couch
wrap in a blanket
watch too much tv
eat comfort foods

Today is that day my friends.

I hope there are some warmer days ahead before winter truly sets in
because those tomatoes aren't going to can themselves...

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Perfect sister update

She hates that I call her that
but anyone who knows her knows that I have not given her this nickname as a joke or to be rude.
It's just the truth, so why not embrace it?

While I was on vacation in Mexico I got an email from my local grocery store
announcing a big sale on chicken.
Sadly it was only a two day sale so I would miss it.
But I forwarded it to my sister because she, like me, likes a good sale
and likes to can chicken when it is cheap.

She was interested and asked me if I wanted to split a box.
So I said yes.

A few days later, after I returned home, I texted to her see if I could stop by and pick up my chicken.
I wasn't sure if we were going to can it together or if I should just pick it up and can it at home.

Here is a copy of our text conversation:

I really can't imagine too many people who would buy 20 lbs of chicken for someone else,
then go buy canning jars for that person,
then get home and think "eh, may as well can it for them too! Seems easiest..."

This is my sister.

And here is my 18 jars of canned chicken.
Effort from me: two emails.

Thanks Doneen!
You are perfect.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Little House update

I've decided that I should stop referring to our little rental house as
"the money pit"
because, even though it is a money pit, it is just too negative!
I must learn to love my little money pit.
So now I will call it the little house or perhaps the rental.
Much better.

Ok, people, this house is SO CLOSE to being done.
And I'm SO READY for it to be.

Here are some pictures:

First of all, my sister Doneen (aka my perfect sister) and I tiled the bathroom floor.

I say that we both did it but really she did it all.
I was like a friendly helper who handed her things, took pictures and told her how awesome she was.

I did cut a couple of tiles for her so I am obviously a pro at tiling now.

 She's a hard worker.
I love her.

Bathroom with shelves installed in closet space.
Ready to paint!

Frank installed the heater in the kitchen area.
As usual for this (cute, adorable, wonderful...yes, trying to convince myself) house, we had to tear out some walls unexpectedly.

But it will look much nicer with the gas lines inside the walls now instead of all over the place on top of the walls and ceiling.
While the walls were out, we added insulation.
Why not.

Frank installing the chimney for the heater:

We frantically cleaned all the crap out of the bedroom, living room and entryway
for the arrival of carpet!
I wish I could say that we truly cleaned it up...but really we just crammed it all in the kitchen.

living room

That door you see there is the entry door with the bedroom slightly visible behind it.


Stairway to outside:

View from the top of the stairs:
apartment to the left
laundry to the right

And after carpet:

tiny coat closet in living room:


Living room:

And the heater, in all its glory, with new drywall on the walls:

I will go over there today and hopefully paint the kitchen (assuming the mud is dry).
I'm also hoping that the toilet, sink and vanity are installed when I get there.
We have a guy helping us and he is doing that part.
I'm really excited to see the finished bathroom!

Then all that's left is cleaning and hanging some hooks and things for towels in the bathroom.


The last harvest

Today I picked the last of the tomatoes.
It's supposed to get cold tomorrow and our tomato plants are looking a bit worse for the wear

I forgot to take a picture of my counter covered in beautiful 
(ok, maybe they weren't beautiful...they were a bit bedraggled) 
red tomatoes

But here are some of them as they are simmering on the stove

And here is the food mill that I am using to remove the seeds and peels and reveal the gorgeous tomato juice

And here is my HUGE pot of tomato juice.

I also have quite a bit of tomato juice on the counter, the floor and the front of my off white sweatshirt.

I will be using this sauce to make homemade sloppy joe sauce.
We really like sloppy joes over here so I figured I would can a bunch of homemade sauce...
I am pretty excited about it.
I bet it will taste amazing!

I will let you know.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Long vacation post

I alway feel the need to explain our vacations...
Yes, it seems like we go on a lot of tropical vacations compared to other people.
We do.
And I feel kind of weird about it.
But Frank needs them and he works really hard to make sure he gets a vacation.
We usually go twice a year.
This year though, I talked him into going to Bear Lake instead.
He still talks about that vacation and how it wasn't much of a vacation.
So last week, we went back to Cancun.

Wasn't I just complaining about our money pit house?
Why, yes, I was!
Since this vacation was planned (and hotel and plane tickets purchased) before we bought the house,
we were already locked in.
We had to make it work on a very small budget.
We managed to make this our cheapest vacation ever...
and we still had fun.
I will never live down the Bear Lake debacle though.

Here is a run down of what we did on vacation:

Day One

Arrived fairly late in the day (maybe 3 or 4? I can't remember)
Pick up rental car 
(Frank was very proud to get a rental for a week for only $23...yep for the whole week!)
Grocery shop
Part of the plan for a cheap vacation was to eat in the room as much as possible.  So we stocked up on breakfast and lunch foods.
Check in to hotel.

We then went and sat on the beach for a bit.

Here is a view from our room with a nice "welcome" written in the sand.

Day Two

We arrived on Saturday so our first whole day was a Sunday.
We try to go to church on Sundays and not spend money or eat out.

So, we got up and got dressed in our church clothes
and headed out to church.
Frank in his white shirt and tie...a picture he sent to his mom

We've been to church in Cancun before but it's been awhile.
And, well, we got lost.
We drove around for over an hour and finally gave up and came back to the hotel.

We spent the rest of the day just lounging on the beach and reading.

The typical toes/beach picture.
That's Frank headed into the ocean.

Day Three

We decided to go back to a little beach that we found on our last trip...
it is north of all of the hotels and is more of a locals beach.
We drove up and found it easily (whew!)
but the little restaurant that was there is now only open on weekends.
So that was a bummer because we had only brought a little bit of food
and had no chairs or anything like that.
Last time we were able to "rent" a table and chairs with an umbrella as long as we bought lunch there.

But we set up our camp under some shade and had a nice day there.
Just like last time there were a few local families there but overall very few people.

There is a lagoon there and it had a bunch of pink flamingoes!
We waded out to get close to them...and I swear it felt like we were close
but the pictures are sure far away! haha
We got close enough to make them nervous and they started leaving, so we backed off.

One of our favorite dishes in Mexico is called a Molcajete.
It's a cheese/meat dish served in a big stone bowl.
It's amazing.

The hotel we had stayed at on previous visits was nearby and we knew they had this favorite dish of ours... so we stopped in for lunch and were excited to get a molcajete!
Sadly, they had changed their menu and no longer served it.
So sad!
We ate lunch there anyway and headed back to our hotel.

On the way back, we got pulled over for speeding.
Which is a story in and of itself.
We survived that experience and our lives and marriage are still intact.

Dinner was ritz crackers, cheese and meat from the grocery store.
We live it up!
As usual, we were tired early...and instead of enjoying the night life of Cancun we went to sleep.
But, hey, it's our vacation so we can do it the way we want.

Day Four

We thought maybe we would splurge a little and go on a tour to some Mayan ruins
but after calling the tour company we decided it just wasn't worth the cost.

So we spent the morning on our hotel beach.

Around lunch time we decided to give it another try on finding a molcajete.
We took our kids to Isla Mujeres (a small island near Cancun) years ago (before we moved to Boston) and the hotel we were in there had a great little restaurant with a really delicious molcajete on the menu.
So we decided to drive to the ferry and go to Isla Mujeres.

It started raining pretty heavily and the road actually had quite a bit of water.
We thought it was sorta fun and took pictures to send to Frank's parents.

Well, that was just the beginning!
It rained!
And the streets became more and more flooded.
Cars started stalling from the water.
People were pushing their cars and motorcycles along and walking in knee deep water at times.
It was crazy.

Our 5 mile trip to the ferry took a good long time and we were just hoping our car wouldn't stall.
We made it eventually and took the ferry to Isla Mujeres.
It kept raining.
We rented a little golf cart to drive while we were there
and, even though it had a roof, we were completely drenched in no time!

Here we are after we ran from our golf cart to the hotel entrance.

We straggled into the hotel which had been renamed and completely remodeled!
And, you guessed it, the restaurant did not serve molcajete.

We left without eating and drove around a bit before choosing a little road side place to eat.
It was tasty but not what we had hoped for.
And we were so wet.

Back to the ferry and back home to still flooded streets, slow traffic and a near empty tank of gas.
I complained of being too hot the whole vacation but we were both quite chilled after being wet for hours and then riding home on an air conditioned ferry.
Good times.

Day Five

On Wednesday we decided to have another relax-on-the-hotel-beach day.

We did some investigating and found a restaurant in downtown Cancun that supposedly served great molcajete.
Yes, this became the theme of the vacation.
Find some molcajete!

We went to this very nice place and they did, indeed, have an entire page of their menu
for various types of molcajete.
I got a chicken one and Frank got shrimp.
The food was so gorgeous.
Frank's bean soup:

Guacamole, freshly made at the table side:

My molcajete:

I hate to say it wasn't quite right.
Good meat and a nice hot stone bowl...
but the spices were different and there was no cheese!
Just a dip that tasted a lot like italian dressing.
So sad.

Day Six

We got up early and drove to Coba, which is the site of some very cool mayan ruins.
We decided to just be our own tour guides!
We had been there once before but it was when Frank was still recovering and he was pretty weak and tired so we didn't see the whole thing.
This time we spent the whole day and saw everything.
We walked a lot!

Coba is in the jungle and it was really hot and so humid.
I do not sweat a lot generally but I felt like my clothes were totally wet.
It was disgusting.

You can still climb the temple in Coba
so that is one reason we love it there.

We made it to the top!
A gorgeous view
(and my thighs were a bit sore the next day)
See how wet we look?

But, don't get me wrong, we had a great time.
We were just gross.

Day Seven

Friday was our last full day in Cancun so we threw caution to the wind a bit.
You see, I really do not go in the sun.
This is one reason that these tropical vacations don't make a lot of sense for me.
I wear spf 50 sunscreen and sit in the shade the whole time.
The. Whole. Time.
I get a skin reaction when I get in the sun and it gives me a terrible, itchy rash.
So I am very careful.
If I get the rash early on it really ruins the whole week.
But on the last day I actually went out into the ocean for a significant period. 
I was probably out there for a couple of hours overall.
The rest of the time I did my usual and stayed in the shade...
but both Frank and I got a bit sunburned
and my rash made a grand entrance!

That's ok...headed home to my medication tomorrow.

Here we are sitting in the restaurant for our final meal.

Day Eight

Saturday morning we slept in and then packed up to go home.
We had a bit of an eventful time filling the rental car with gas before returning it
(Another cash and credit cards not working after we had already gotten the gas!)
but we worked it out and were on our way back home.

Real life awaits.