Busy

It’s a word that gets thrown around often.  Not just with me; we all use it.  Busy.  We’re ALL busy.  Caps, bold, italics.

“Sorry I never got back to you; I’ve been so busy!”

“How’s your summer?” “Busy!”

Me, personally?  It’s never occurred to me to keep track of how many times a day I say it, hear it, think it.

Any time I take my boys (three of them, all under age five) out in public?  At least one casual observer will offer a grin and a sympathetic “I bet you’re busy!”

When my husband reluctantly asks me to do a favor or take care of something household related because he works pretty crazy hours anymore?  “Babe, I know you’re busy enough already, but if you get a minute during naptime or whatever, could you…?”

When I look at the stack of library books on my nightstand or on the end table in the living room? “Ugh, if I wasn’t so busy, I’d be through those already!”

024

A lot of my busy-ness is of my own making.  Apparently I took Aesop’s Fables a bit too literally as a child, because every time I ignore work to do something pleasurable, I’m reminded of the Grasshopper and the Ant.  Remember that story?  The ant worked and worked, never taking time off, while the grasshopper, all “Carpe Diem!” played and forgot to prepare for winter.  So when wintertime rolled around, the ant was warm and full, while the grasshopper died a cold, hungry death.

That must be it.  I hate being cold.  And hungry.

So I stay busy.  Not always particularly productive, but definitely busy.  And when I say busy, I pretty much mean in the sense that I start 349587348962 projects and approximately 2 get done.

Take, for instance, this spring.  I found an ant infestation in my spider plant (here we go with the ant theme again). So I carried the plant to our back deck, where I drowned those suckers out, then gave them a nice, healthy dose of old coffee grounds to show them I meant business.  Apparently, ants hate coffee.  So maybe I’m not as much like an ant as I thought.  Anyway… my spider plant.  I didn’t want to bring the ants back inside, so I let my plant sit on the deck for a couple of days.  It was still spring, and we weren’t finished having frost then, so a few leaves on my plant were sacrificed in the effort.  When I pulled them to make room for new growth, I put the dead leaves on top of last summer’s hanging basked from the deck, my Mother’s Day petunia from Ryan and the boys, which I never emptied last fall.

Fast forward to late July.  This past Saturday morning, Ryan took the boys with him to run an errand while I stayed home.  After they left, I wandered back to the deck to pick up yesterday’s swim suits and towels, and decided maybe it’s time to finally clean out that hanging basket.  What I found when I moved those dead spider plant leaves took me by surprise.

001.jpg

 

My point is, yes, I’m busy.  We’re ALL busy.  Caps, bold, italics.  It’s not exclusively a parent thing, or a student thing, or a career thing or a sports thing or a…well, you get it.  Life is hectic, and messy, and crazy, and unpredictable.  And sometimes, under all that busy-ness, there are surprises budding that we aren’t expecting.

And aren’t those the best?

 

xoxox,

~d

 

Something to Read

Can you believe I’ve been posting here for over a year already?  This whole blogging thing still feels so new to me sometimes, even 120 posts later.  In some ways, I’m still searching for my blogging identity.

This was going to be a blog about interior design and decorating; that’s where the “unsolicited advice” headline came from.  That led to posts about food, recipes, and entertaining. Somewhere along the way, I also found reason to share anecdotes about life and love, family and my magnetic attraction for accidents.   And now, in this blog post about blogging, I’ve found that this is just a place for my mishmash of all that makes me tick- my greatest loves in life.

One great love I have yet to discuss is my love of literature.  Strange, huh?  That is, coming from a girl who admits an addiction to her Kindle.  This girl who admits a love of reading and who obviously enjoys writing (hello, 120 posts?)  I’ve never shared with you what’s on that Kindle, but today seemed as good of a day as any to disclose what I love to read- both on my literal bookshelf and my electronic one.

My first disclosure is the fact that I inherited from my mother a passion for, ahem, passion.  In the literature I appreciate, that is.  If you were to get your hands on my novel collection, the majority of what you would find is romance.  Danielle Steel, Karen Robards, VC Andrews, Nicholas Sparks… I’ve read most everything by each of these authors.  It’s a guilty pleasure.  And since I’m just following in my mom’s footsteps, it’s clearly not my fault.

I’m not all romance and fru-fru though…just mostly.  I’m also a collector of the classics (read: they’re on my shelf, waiting for the day I feel intellectual enough to pick them up and attempt to- a. understand them, and b. be able to discuss them intelligently.)  On my shelf, waiting patiently for the day I wake up smart, are Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Feminine Mystique, The Count of Monte Cristo, several of Dickens’ best, some Jane Austen, and of course, Shakespeare.

I love poetry by Walt Whitman, but I’m also a sucker for Shel Silverstein.  The Giving Tree is one of my favorites ever, and a college roommate once bought me the Where the Sidewalk Ends collection.  I recently came across Everything On It, which is my most newly coveted piece of literature.

Recent bestsellers that have been made into movies are another weakness, but only under the stipulation that I’ve read the book before I can allow myself to see the movie.  I’ve devoured Eat, Pray, Love; The Time Traveler’s Wife; My Sister’s Keeper; Charlie St. Cloud; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Water for Elephants; One Day; Marley and Me; Sarah’s Key; Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, and The Lost Symbol; and probably most notably, the Twilight series.  Sadly, the last few weeks have been filled with a countdown to the theater release of the latest Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn Part I.  It’s a sickness, really.

Every once in awhile, I’ll pick up a biography.  The first one I ever read was Dolly Parton’s autobiography, a book my Pappy received half a dozen copies one Christmas.  He was one of Dolly’s biggest fans, and when he ended up with some extra books, he loaned a few out.  This was several years before he passed away, so I was probably in fourth or fifth grade when one of those happened to fall into my hands.  My favorite biography, though, is Lucille Ball’s Ball of Fire by Stephen Kanfer.  Shortly after finishing the book, my husband took me to visit Lucy’s hometown of Celeron, NY, a suburb of Jamestown.  I was starstruck the whole day.

It may not seem like it today, but cold weather is coming.  The days have grown impossibly short already, and before we can blink twice, we’ll be watching the snow fall.  Since I recently discovered the amazingness that is the stove-top espresso maker my mom bought me for Christmas a few years ago, I’ll be siting inside where it’s warm, drinking homemade salted caramel mochas and devouring whatever genre of literature catches my attention.

What are your recommendations, friends?  What do you like to read?  Have you picked up anything intriguing lately?  Please share!

Cheers!

xoxo,

~d

A Little Like the Weather

There’s a saying in these parts that goes, “if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes.  It’ll probably change.”  That’s the first thing I remember learning during my first week of college.  That’s the only thing I remember learning from that particular professor.  (This was a design “teacher” whose major contribution to my career was trying to pass off her hatred for Frank Lloyd Wright.  This obviously qualifies her as non-credible.)

Anyway, in the past few days, we’ve witnessed several of Mother Nature’s temper tantrums, which finally reached a crescendo this afternoon.  Last night, while trying to take in the season finale of American Idol, we saw one such display.  Of course, this interfered with the satellite signal, only after the ticker at the bottom of the screen informed us of severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings.  Of course.  While I pouted in front of the TV, begging it to restore Haley’s performance with Tony Bennett, Ryan (being the practical and level-headed one in this relationship) gathered flashlights and candles, and secured our access to the basement.  Just in case.  Meanwhile, Clohe cowered at our feet crying and whimpering and panting and generally freaking out.  Fortunately, after a good forty-five minutes of clapping thunder and a brilliant show of lightning flashes, the storm passed and satellite reception was restored for the announcement that Scotty McCreery is our new American Idol.  What a cutie.

I digress.

This afternoon, I decided I was hungry for chicken enchiladas.  I had found this recipe a couple of months ago and we really liked it, so I decided to make one minor modification and make it again.  One modification led to another, which led to the omission of the modification I made the last time.  This led to my poor husband very effectively needing a fire extinguisher for his poor oral cavity after the first bite.

Oops.  Guess my cooking’s a little like the weather.

Anyway, my modifications to the recipe ended up being: 1) Last time, I had bought a ready-cooked rotisserie chicken at the grocery store.  This time, I bought a raw whole chicken, and on Monday, I put it in the crockpot covered with olive oil and a little waster to shred for this week’s meals.  It worked pretty efficiently, and I plan to do this again (Hint: it’s less expensive to buy a whole chicken than it is to buy a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts- plus, you can freeze the broth for soup!  BONUS!)  Modification 2) Since chilis are hard to come by here, I substituted with a couple of jalapeños.  I sprayed my little cast-iron skilled with non-stick cooking spray, and moved those suckers outdoors to the grill on high heat for a few minutes so my smoke detectors would stay quiet during this experiment.  Modification 3) I forgot to remove the seeds from the peppers this time.  Last time, I scooped all the seeds out of the one pepper I used.  The end result was a bit mild, even for my wussy tastebuds, so I doubled the pepper-age this time to give it a bit more kick.  Mission accomplished.  We got more kick.  Finally, modification 4) was making my own flour tortillas.  This step, at least, was without incident.

Since Ryan had requested a cheesecake for dessert, so I chose an Emeril Lagassi recipe for New York Style cheesecake, and set to work, and it baked while I assembled the enchiladas.  It was a gorgeous afternoon, and I felt guilty spending my day in the kitchen when I should have been enjoying a good book on the front porch.  Just as I was finishing the enchiladas, I noticed that the sky had darkened and it looked as though a storm was on the way.  I grabbed my Kindle and headed for the living room to wait for Ryan while the Reggae channel played in the background.  I hadn’t read two pages before Ryan called, and urgently said, “Take Clohe and go to the basement.  Now.”  Without asking questions, I did what he said, taking only the dog and my cell phone with me.

A few minutes later, I started to worry when he wasn’t home yet.  If Clohe and I were going to play Dorothy and Toto and be launched into the Land of Oz and sing with the munchkins, I didn’t want to go without one last kiss.  Besides, I still have this irrational fear of the Wicked Witch; I wouldn’t want to face her without my husband by my side.  So I called to see where he was, and where the storm was.  Fortunately, he wasn’t in danger, and when he got home we came up to see what was going on; the tornado that had been sighted about 15 miles from our house didn’t get to us, thank goodness.  The clouds were still dark and heavy, but they were obviously moving around us.

As I surfaced to finish what I had started (AKA, dinner), I watched the most amusing of weather transitions.  The sky changed from dark, to slightly less dark.  Then, as I looked out the kitchen window above the sink, I watched rain approach my house, starting in the field across the street.  The drops started out light, then increased in size until I began to wonder if it was hail.  As it got closer (if you have never watched a storm come directly toward you, it’s something to behold!) I realized that it was just very large drops of rain.  Which lasted for a total of about two minutes.  Seriously, my oven had not even preheated from the time it started until the time it quit.  And by the time we sat down to our dinner, the sun was shining again.

It was beautiful when I finished cleaning up the dishes, so we decided to take  Clohe for a walk.  We got our loop in, observed some wildlife including ducks, several rabbits, and one very unruly little dog that nearly attacked my 65-pound ball of love’n’fuzz.  By the time we arrived home, we were under yet another severe weather warning, this time for a very destructive thunderstorm.  As I blog, the leaves on the trees are blowing in all different directions and the thunder is rumbling overhead.  Clohe, of course, is cowered at our feet crying and whimpering and panting and generally freaking out.

But fear not friends, because I assure you that by the time you read this, it will all have passed and we’ll be prepared for the next one.

At least we have some leftover enchiladas and a cheesecake, so we won’t starve!  And in the meantime, maybe I’ll be able to make my next meal a successful one…

Cheers!

xoxo,

~d

Twenty Things*

At my new job, we get a company-wide newsletter once a week, usually on Wednesdays, communicating important information to employees.  For the past couple of weeks, there has been a request for employees to submit ten things about themselves that few others know.  Ten seems like a lot, but at the same time, I can see this growing to more than ten.  Some of these points may reveal more explanation than is really necessary, so while I’ll try to keep it brief, but some of these may actually have subcategories.  You already know how I get carried away sometimes.

I haven’t submitted this to the memo at work; nor do I intend to.  This just seemed like a great writing prompt to take on.  I do love me a good challenge.

So without further adieu, here goes…

1.  I love to travel.  I’ve been as far north as Canada, as far south as the Caribbean, (including Key West; Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; Nassau and Coco Cay in the Bahamas; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic).  I’ve been as far east as London, but I have never been west of Cleveland in the U.S.

2.  I love music.  I love ALL music.  On my iPod, you’ll find everything from Johnny Cash and Faith Hill to Jay Z and Eminem to the Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox 20 to Beethoven to Michael Buble.  One of the presets on the radio in my car is our local jazz station, and I tune in quite frequently.  Jazz music can be very calming after a day’s work.

a) our high school band put together a concert our senior year featuring jazz great Maynard Ferguson.  What an amazing experience!

b) the first “real” concert I ever attended was the Goo Goo Dolls “Let Love In” tour in 2006; Ryan took me and it was the event that cemented the idea of the two of us together forever.  In my mind, anyway.

3.  I have been at my new job for almost ten weeks.  I have not yet repeated an outfit.  And I think I still have a good 2-3 weeks left in my closet before anything makes an encore appearance.  By that time, I hope the weather is warm enough to support a couple of weeks beyond that.

4.  The only animal I have ever hit with a car was a skunk.  Go figure.

5.  I am addicted to caffeine.  I do not eat my breakfast; I drink it.  And it is not uncommon for me to guzzle 4-6 cups of coffee just in the mornings.

6.  I am a huge fan of the Twilight series.  Books, movies, whatever.  I love it all.  Proof?  Just this morning I sent my husband to WalMart to buy me the new Illustrated Guide.  I can’t wait to dig in!

7.  I love to cook and bake; eating is a kind of necessary evil.  I frequently get an itch to create something in the kitchen for the sole purpose of “doing something.”  By the time it’s made, the craving to eat it has usually passed.

a) As much as I love being in the kitchen, I did NOT inherit the culinary talents passed on by my grandmother, my mom, or my aunts.  I think I started too late.

8.  While I’m not particularly picky about what I eat, I am very picky about how I eat it.  Vegetables are usually the item I’m most particular about.  I separate my mixed vegetables into piles and then eat them in a particular order.  I eat salads from the bottom up: lettuce first, then other items in the order of least favorite to most favorite.  That means if there are croutons, they will be eaten last.

9.  I am convinced there is nothing a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate can’t fix.  Popcorn and pasta are weaknesses as well.

10.  I have been know to cry during TV commercials.  Hallmark commercials, car insurance commercials, or a good kitchen cleaner commercial: it’s not uncommon for me to get misty if the right amount of emotion is involved.  And movies?  Fuhgeddaboutit.  Ryan nearly had to remove me from the theater when we went to see Adam Sandler in “Click.”  Adam. Freakin’. Sandler.  I was a sobbing, sopping mess by the end of that movie.  The trailer for “The Time Traveler’s Wife” was nearly enough to put me over the edge.  The trailer!  And one night Ryan came into the living room to find me hunched over the Jodi Piccoult book, “My Sister’s Keeper,” in a big puddle of soggy, waterlogged pages.  The poor guy thought I was in mortal agony.  You should have seen the look on his face when he realized it was just a book that was making me cry like I had just lost my best friend.

11. I collected the Baby-Sitters Club books when I was younger.  I had well over a hundred of them, and they are still stashed away in my closet at my parents’ house, waiting for my sister to devour them if she so chooses.  I quit reading them at least five years before she was born.

a)  Yes, I am a packrat.  I keep things I probably should not, for reasons that would make no sense to anyone but me.  I’m not even going to bother trying to defend myself here.  That’s just the way things are.

12.  I have a photographic memory.  Ryan and I have been house hunting for nearly two years, and have looked at well over 75 houses at this point.  If he names a street where we looked at a house, I can describe the layout, down to what colors were on most of the walls, room sizes, and how the furniture was placed (if the house wasn’t vacant.)

13.  I am a firm believer in trying new things.  My list of things I’d like to do in life range from a list of books I want to read to skydiving to riding a horse to visiting every one of the 50 states, every continent, and as many countries as possible.

a) I have a traveling policy involving food: every vacation is cause to try new cuisine.  While traveling, I’ve tried frog legs and escargot, caviar, sushi, and lamb, among others.

b) No, I’ve never been on a horse.  Country girl I am, we never had horses- though our neighbors did (HA!   Neigh-bors…get it?!).  Still- nope, never been on a horse.

14. I have terrible luck with bicycle riding.  I have scars all over my body from bicycle rides gone awry.

15.  Though technically, it could be said that my favorite color is pink, my other favorites change on a daily basis.

a) That said, I own a set of pink tools that I carry in my car with me at all times.  A girl never knows when she might need a screwdriver or a level.

16.  My favorite animal is a dolphin.  On our honeymoon in Punta Cana, Ryan took me swimming with dolphins, and it’s an experience I will never, ever forget.  It was absolutely incredible.

17. My first computer was one Ryan built from me from parts he had lying around his room in college.

18.  I have an extensive watch collection, but I’m rarely ever on time.  In fact, I’ve been known to wear a watch with a dead battery if the watch matches my outfit.  Who needs functioning watches when there’s a clock in my car, on my computer, and on my cell phone?  I’m never far from a clock; watches are just fun accessories.

19.  The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies of all time, but  the Wicked Witch still makes me want to cry.  I recently read a comment that someone had made stating she had a theory that everyone has a character from the movie that we relate to the most closely.  She then asked which character you would want to walk with.  I think I would have to go with the Scarecrow.  While I know I’m not a total nitwit, there are times I wish I could be a whole lot smarter.  Specifically, when it comes to matters not of the heart.  I often let my heart rule my head, which can lead to trouble.

20.  Astrology and dream interpretation fascinate me.  I love reading my horoscope, and I analyze every single dream I can remember.  It’s amazing to see how spot-on these things are sometimes.

So there you have it, friends.  A little better look inside my twisted mind.  Not quite “Dark and Twisty” like Meredith Grey and Christina Yang- Grey’s Anatomy’s “twisted sisters”-   but a little twisty and quirky by my own right.  Everything you never wanted to know about your truly.

*This post started out as “Ten Things,” but I had to change it because I got carried away.  As usual.

Making Progress!

We did it!  Clohe and I are officially a certified Therapy Dog team- our paperwork arrived today.  Check this out:

Momma’s little girl is even sporting some “bling” on her collar:

Just like her mom.

Now that our paperwork has all come back and we’re acknowledged by the national organization, we’re working on the programs we’ll participate in.  Clohe’s training occurred mainly in nursing home settings.  We attended three supervised visits to nursing homes where she enjoyed moseying from patient to patient, allowing them to pat her head and scratch her ears and tickle that little spot on her hips that she loves to have rubbed.

The programs I’m really excited about getting her involved with, though, are children’s programs.  She enjoys the elderly, but as such an exuberant young girl, she has a personality that’s very well suited to dealing with kids.

And so, for the past couple of months, our organization has been working to introduce two new therapy dog programs to our area.  The first is a reading program that will allow us to go into public libraries during children’s after-school and summer reading programs.  The children will be allowed to choose a dog to read to in order to enhance their reading skills.

The second is an autism program.  Studies have shown that autistic children sometimes show incredible progress in basic skills when they connect with an animal.  Of course, encouraging the child to form a bond with Clohe may be easier said than done, but I’m excited to get involved and give it a shot!

I think Clohe is too…

xoxox,

~d (and Clohe- now a certified therapy dog team!)