I spent Sunday afternoon and evening hanging out with my three-year-old nephew while my sister and brother-in-law went to a social event. My eight-year-old niece was around for a while, but once I helped her put on her witch makeup, she was off to a Halloween event with a friend.
My nephew cracks me up. He's at the age where he does goofy things for no reason other than that they're funny. He's also in an "I love everyone" stage, which translates to lots of hugs and kisses.
It's obvious that he has a lot of imagination, but he's still a little difficult to understand when he's running through his ideas a mile a minute. We went for a walk and he started telling me about the "ladybug trees" and the "Mexican(?) trees" as we crunched through the fallen leaves. I think he was talking about trees with red leaves and trees with green and red leaves, but I may be reading too much into it.
It was a little chilly and windy outside, so on the way back I promised him we'd have hot chocolate when we got back to his house. He seemed very excited about it, but once I actually produced said beverage, he poked at the whipped cream with his finger and stirred the hot chocolate endlessly with a spoon, but never really drank any. When I asked him why, he said, "It's not healthy for my body."
What a little con artist. I burst out laughing at the sheer absurdity of a child who is constantly asking for "snacks and treats" pulling out the healthy food card.
It's been a long time since I made the decision that I wasn't going to have any children of my own, but my niece and nephew have a special place in my heart that I didn't realize was empty until they came along. Every chance I get to spend with them is a wonderful treat.
My band played last night to a good-sized crowd in a smoky bar in Lake Lotawana, Missouri. I thought I had a couple of groups of friends coming out to hear us, but nobody showed up. I don't really blame them because it's quite a drive from Kansas City proper.
This morning I woke up at 8 (after going to bed at 3) because AT&T was scheduled to install internet, cable and phone service. Unfortunately, it turned out that they couldn't switch the phone over on a Saturday, so I basically interrupted my sleep for nothing. Their tech was very nice, though, and enamored of our cats. She said she'd been a vet tech before she became a cable installer.
So now I'm awake and very tired but not really sleepy. My ears are still ringing from last night, albeit not as much as they would be if I hadn't worn earplugs through most of the sets. At some point I need to go to the grocery store to get ingredients for a chili cook-off I'm attending later today. Then I need to go to a different grocery store because my main store doesn't carry the milk I like.
My tentative plan is to get my shopping out of the way, start the chili cooking, and take a nap while it simmers. Oh, and watch last night's "Ghost Whisperer," even though I'm hating the substitution of Jamie Kennedy for Jay Mohr. Somebody get that man some acting lessons!
Okay, I just read over everything I've written so far and it's obvious that I'm not operating at full capacity. I think that's a sign I should try to go back to bed and save everything else for later. Goodnight again!
Ever since fall began to set in, I've had a hell of a time getting out of bed in the morning. My usual wakeup times of 5:30, 6:00, 6:30, come and go as I remain burrito'ed in my covers.
When I sleep in, I end up having vivid, complicated dreams all morning long. This morning my dream was a variation on a recurring dream that I've discovered new rooms in my house that I never knew existed. In this case, I was staying at a house with a bunch of relatives, bunked uncomfortably with someone else. I started walking down the hallway and found two more bedrooms that we weren't using. One was rather plain, but comfortable. The other was in a beautiful room with lots of windows and had an ornately carved wooden bed. Unfortunately, the room was so cold that nobody would want to sleep there.
It's not surprising that I would dream about relatives this month. My late mother and grandmother both had October birthdays. My cousin and his dad also have birthdays in October, so we always used to have annual get-togethers to celebrate them all at once. Another uncle - my mother's brother - passed away just last week, which will be another touchpoint of October sadness for the family.
I always forget how much the gloom affects me as the days get shorter and colder. I need to kick up the multi-vitamins, keep the exercise going and make sure to spend time outside whenever the sun is shining. As tempting as it is to stay in bed all day, I have stuff to do!
The idea is to post photos that show how your personal appearance has evolved. I decided to do the meme in the context of my bands, so here are examples of how I looked in three distinctly different eras.
Here I am in the late 1980s. I was in a hard rock cover band (hey, just like today!) called White Hot, and apparently I felt there was no need for me to smile in photos.
On to the mid-1990s. This was an original alternative band called Radio Sunday. My hair was still rather large, but it was more or less my natural color and permed. As you can see, grunge fashion had taken its toll.
And here I am today (well, last spring anyway).
This was fun! If you decided to pick up this meme, let me know in the comments.
A little research suggests that this is a type of honeysuckle bush, which makes sense considering how much honeysuckle has invaded my fence line over the past several years. I also saw a lot of these berries out on the walking trail at Unity Village over the weekend.
My favorite plant of the year. I'd never planted elephant ears before, but this particular one grew like mad. Even though it's a pain to dig them up to winter the bulbs, I think it'll be worth it.
My husband and I put together a plexiglas drum shield over the weekend. As you can see, peeling off the protective plastic produced a lot of static electricity.
ByJane has a post up about one of my pet peeves: the idea that you can't wear whatever you want once you get past a certain age. I'm not talking about retaining the right to display my cellulite-pocked thighs in a mini-skirt from the juniors' department. That's a fashion don't for anyone (with cellulite-pocked thighs). However, I do take exception to the idea that my fortieth birthday marked the day that society expected me to turn in all my Threadless t-shirts and start outfitting myself at Chico's.
Over the last four or five years, I've developed the perfect wardrobe for myself: jeans, quirky t-shirts, long-sleeved layering t-shirts for when it's chilly, a variety of pairs of Converse sneakers, and a few hoodies for when it's really chilly. I can mix and match those items like Garanimals for weeks on end, even when I'm lax about doing laundry.
One of the reasons this wardrobe concept works so well for me is that the jeans are the only part of it that must be shopped for in person and tried on. The t-shirts all come from various online sources. These days, the shoes come from Zappos.com. The hoodies and long-sleeved tees are mostly from Target, and they last forever.
You may have gathered by now that I hate shopping. That's why last weekend was the ultimate in clothing-acquisition events for me. My sister tipped me off that she was getting rid of a lot of her business casual clothes. Naturally, I made a bee-line to her house to claim what I could before the Goodwill run. The haul included a bunch of black jackets, a wool skirt I can wear the next time I'm obliged to dress up, and a couple of pairs of slacks that could also come in handy for dressier occasions.
The black jackets will be great in the fall and winter to dress up my t-shirt wardrobe. I can also pair them with tank tops to wear onstage when my band performs. There's nothing like a long jacket to hide a multitude of figure flaws.
You'll notice I didn't say anything about how I now have the wardrobe to dress like a real grown-up. That's the last thing I intend to do. Maybe if I ever feel like a real grown-up, I'll change my mind. Until then, what you see is what you get.
With the current economic downturn in full swing, I'm grateful to my late grandmother for all of the helpful tips she taught me about making do with less. She learned from her own mother's experience of the Great Depression, where the motto of housewives was, "Eat it up, make it last, improvise or do without." My grandmother had just gotten married when World War II began, and she put much of that knowledge to use when rationing began in 1942.
Over the weekend, I delved into that history for a series of meals that I've been making since I first moved out on my own and had no choice but to get by on the princely salary of $14,500 per year. It starts with a single stewing hen and - for my two-person household - ends up making three dinners and two or three lunches' worth of leftovers. Here's how it goes:
Chicken and Dumplings
1 stewing hen 1/2 cup cornstarch
Rinse hen (remove giblets and discard or freeze for later use), place in a large stock pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for four to six hours until tender. Remove chicken from pot, discard skin and bones, and return meat to boiling liquid. It can be difficult to track down all the bones, so don't be surprised if one or two slip past you. Dissolve cornstarch in cool water and add to boiling stock to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Dumplings: 1 cup flour 1/2 tsp. salt 1/3 cup milk 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1 egg, beaten 2 tbsp. oil
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Combine egg, milk and oil; add to dry ingredients to make soft dough. Drop by tablespoons into stew. Cover and steam for 15 minutes. Perfectly Good Alternative: Make Bisquik dumplings per package directions.
Serve over boiled potatoes with a vegetable side dish.
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Refrigerate the leftover chicken gravy. The next day you can make:
Chicken Pot Pie
2-3 cups chicken gravy 2-3 stalks celery, diced 2 cloves garlic, pressed 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn 2 carrots, thinly sliced 1/2 medium onion, minced 1/2 cup frozen peas 1/2 cup frozen green beans 1 tbsp. cooking oil Salt and pepper to taste 2 pastry crusts
Place bottom pastry crust in deep pie plate or casserole dish. Saute carrots, celery, garlic and onions in oil until onions are translucent. Stir in other vegetables and gravy and season to taste. Fill pastry crust with gravy mixture and seal with top crust. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until top crust is golden brown, about 30-45 minutes. Alternatives: A small bag of frozen mixed vegetables can be substituted for the separate carrots, corn, peas and green beans. If you're not much for homemade pie crust, I find that Jiffy mix works well for this.
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On the third evening, make:
Chicken Noodle Soup
Remaining chicken gravy 3 stalks celery, sliced 1/2 medium onion, chopped 1/2 tsp. basil 1 tbsp. cooking oil 3 carrots, sliced 1 clove garlic, pressed 3/4 tsp. dried parsley 1 small package frozen egg noodles Salt and pepper to taste
Saute carrots, celery, onion and garlic in a large soup pot with oil. Add chicken gravy and enough water to fill about 3/4 full. Bring to a boil, add seasonings and noodles. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 25 minutes or until noodles are done.
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So that's how I can make an $8 chicken stretch over three dinners. If you think that's more chicken dishes than your household can take in a three-day period, you can always freeze the leftover gravy and make some of the secondary dishes later.
For example, make a chuck roast and you'll be all set for beef hash the next night!
My 8-year-old niece and I went to the Weston, Missouri Applefest last Saturday. I picked her up from her soccer game (she's really good!) and we drove about an hour to get to Weston.
On the way, I thought she might enjoy hearing one of my cover band's demo songs. I happened to have a CD in the car with two of the songs on it. I could only play "Higher Ground" for her; the other song was "Lit Up" by Buckcherry [lyrics], which really isn't even appropriate for ME to listen to.
She liked the song so much that she had me play it three or four times. Then she had an interesting question: "Is your band famous enough to be on the radio?"
I thought it was a very astute and valid question for a pop culture-steeped kid to ask. It made me think of the interviews with celebrities where they're asked if their kids understand how famous they are and most of them say their kids don't seem to know or care.
I told her that the band was just a hobby and we concentrate on performing other people's songs live. I didn't muddy the waters with a discussion about my original band project, largely because the odds that it will ever be an exception to what I was saying are infinitesimal.
Then she gave me the best compliment I've ever gotten about my music, "Well, I think people would like to hear it."