Tuesday, January 31, 2012

shepherd's pie

I tried my hand at shepherd's pie last night. I didn't follow a recipe specifically, although I did look at a recipe and take hints from it. My turn to cook after work before Ron got home. It had to be pretty painless to prepare.

First I got the potatoes boiling. While they were cooking, I browned some ground pork, with some garlic. I left out onions because we happened to be low on them, and they are one thing Raine can eat without. I didn't want to wait for veggies to saute, so I opened up a can each of corn, peas and carrots. Since I didn't want to have to store any partial cans, I just dumped them all in, even though it was kind of a lot (I did drain the liquid from each can, though). I added some Worcestershire sauce and a little broth to keep moisture in the mixture in the oven. I did the browning in my iron skillet so I could put it in the oven once the mashed potatoes were on top. Raine helped with the mashing, and the skillet with everything in it went in for about half an hour to brown the mashed potatoes.

Well, let me just say, it was a success. OK, so what in that dish is not to be a success, I know. Still, it was my first one. Ron enjoyed it, and Raine said it was her new, second favorite food.

First favorite? Homemade chicken noodle soup with thick egg noodles.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

birthday party in the park

 Where's a camera when you need one? Mine is usually at home, darn it! That's where it was today. We celebrated Raine's birthday today with a party at the park with a few of her friends. They seemed to have a blast, and it really wasn't even a lot of effort on our part.

Raine picked Star Wars for the theme, and we printed up 9 invitations. 10, actually, since she wrote one to Ana in Tucson, and we knew they wouldn't be able to make it. I'm glad she wanted to invite her, though. We ordered some pizza and took a few sodas and more bottled water, a pan of brownies and some vanilla ice cream (I even forgot to take candles - but it didn't matter).

When it was time to eat, the children - all eight of them, gathered around the table, helped themselves to pizza, which gotten eaten, even, and chatted and joked and even sang silly songs. Most of them even managed to throw their plates away when they were done! I know!

It was pretty effortless for the adults. The kids played so well together, it was really nice. They ran and squealed and chased each other and had lightsaber battles. Not one of them came and complained about another. No crying. No injuries. Heck they barely acknowledged our existence. All were sorry when it was time to leave. I mean, how much better does it get than leaving them wanting more?

This evening, Raine spent a little time exploring some of her presents. She put together a paper Darth Vader that came in one of the cards. It's cool. She tried out the puzzle ball maze (so did Ron & I). She fitted her Darth Vader Lego watch to her wrist. I know that she will spend time tomorrow with more of the gifts, appreciating them, and the thoughtfulness of her friends.


Friday, January 27, 2012

another friday

And I'm glad to see it. Glad to be in it. Raine's off to a sleep over, and we got the last minute stuff for her birthday party. Well, actually we got everything BUT the last minute stuff for the party. Heading for the park and expecting the kids to want to play, play, play. (Don't over think it, Mom, let them play!)

Ron and I got to spend a quiet evening watching The Two Towers. Extended version, thank you. I'm getting closer and closer to being done with that last scarf. Hoping to finish it this weekend. Also hoping to get my grading done. Not sure what the balance will turn out to be...

Next week, the online sewing class I signed up for starts. It is about sewing curves, and I'm kind of excited to "meet" some new sewing friends, and to learn some new techniques, and to make some cool stuff. With curves. I'll be posting the projects as I complete them. It should make some excellent blog fodder.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

birthday & stuff

Raine's birthday is today. She is now nine. Funny how getting older brings nostalgia for those younger days. Like her first birthday when she toddled around with a big, cheesy grin on her face and enjoyed handfuls of cake... playing with them if not actually eating them... Digging up dinosaur bones for her archeology party. This year's party has a Star Wars theme, and we are trying to think up some Jedi challenges for the kids to complete. We were hoping to find pool noodles to make into light sabers (yes, I know its out of season... gah!) but no luck yet. I'm thinking some sort of obstacle course and a treasure hunt/Jedi rescue mission. Maybe a target shoot on the Death Star, or something. And lots of playing in the park, a little bit of pizza, and brownies with ice cream on top (dark side & light side). Fun I hope, but not too complex or spendy.

Trying to make a plan for summer vacation. Thinking about taking a train to North Carolina. A little more time spent in travel, but nice not to have to do the driving. Time to see some scenery, and play some games and read along the way. And no airports.

Still doing well with the bike riding. Hoping that reporting my efforts will help me continue them. Doing 20 minutes this week, and building up some muscle tone so that the 20 minutes is easier to sustain than the 15 of last week. Netflix helps in the not clock watching dept. Pretty pleased with myself that I'm still doing it. Yay, me!

Monday, January 23, 2012

kindle it

For Christmas I got an upgrade from my Kindle, to a Kindle Fire. Now, there were some things that I really enjoyed about the Kindle. It has nice clear text, and the font size is adjustable. I like pushing the button to go to the next page and I like that it saves my place for me, even when I look through another book or something. Most amazing is the battery life on that thing. You can read for a month without recharging it.

So, what do I think about the Fire? Well, let's see. Clear text, check. Adjustable font size, check. Backlit so you can read without turning on the light, added plus. So is color. The battery life is definitely more limited, though. The Fire has a touch screen, which can be stubborn at times. Or else I don't know where to touch. Or both. Since you swipe it to turn the page, sometimes a stray movement or shadow can turn the page. It isn't a constant fight, but you do have to be aware of where your fingers are on the edge of it. The screen also rotates so that the type is oriented "up" all the time. You can read the length of the screen or the width.

My Fire also has more net access. While previously the whispernet (I think that's what they call it) would load my books on my device, that's about all the connectivity it had. The Fire will do more, like stream movies. Ron downloaded the Netflix ap for me, and now, I can watch an episode of something while I ride the stationary bike. The picture is actually pretty good, though small, but I'm not looking at it from very far away anyway. With the earphones on, I don't even have to turn the volume up all the way to be heard over the wind of the bike (it uses air resistance). Sweet.

Now, if I can just master that touch screen. OBEY ME!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

my hair

Remember in the movie Oh Brother Where Art Thou? and every time Everett - played by George Clooney - would wake up, his first concern was for his hair. It still amuses me.

I'm not that vain, but lately, my hair has been giving me fits. It always does this time of year, when the heater make the already dry New Mexico air even drier. The static build up, and my hair tangles like crazy.

Some days when I get home from work, I have this mat of tangles in the back of my head, or at the nape of my neck. I wonder how long I've been walking around with it like that. Eww. Just this past week, I was combing my hair one morning and briefly wondered if it had felted itself over night.

Yep. Its time to start braiding it again.

Friday, January 20, 2012

so glad it is friday

Looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow morning. It doesn't really have to be late, it just is nice not to have to answer the darned alarm clock. Saturday is the day for chores, puttering around from one to another, and laundry is excellent for that. I have some grading to do. I want to finally get those boxes ready to mail (bad me that they're not gone all ready). I may even take the kids to the pool and grade papers while they swim.

Now that I've finished the sewing projects I was working on, I'm feeling an urge to raid the project basket for my cheerful shirt and work on it some. I'm also hoping to finish up the feety pajamas on Sunday. I really hope that Roxanne is up to sewing.

I also want to make sure I get on that bike. Made it today, and I'm proud of myself for not letting it go by. Just have to remember to give myself the positive feedback. I really do feel better afterwards, I really do. I'll feel better in a couple of weeks than I do this week. Just keep moving, just keep moving.

But tomorrow morning? Sleep in.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

dang it!

I just realized that it is 10 PM and I didn't ride the bike today. Dang it! (again). I know that technically one day doesn't ruin the whole thing, but when you are trying to establish a routine, one day can easily work into no routine. Or no NEW routine, anyway.

At any rate, I am not going to ride it now. I'm going to go shower and then head for bed a little earlier than the midnight I've been getting there. THAT is a routine I don't want to develop. Sleep is healthy, too.

So, nothing earth shattering from this direction today.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

report card

School is sometimes a struggle for us. Raine doesn't have a hard time wanting to go spend time with her friends, but when it comes to a teacher - or anyone really - telling her what she should do at a specific time... well, she would rather be the boss of herself. She doesn't have a hard time learning, really, she just has a hard time being interested. And getting up in the morning.

Couple that with an emotional roller coaster of the past semester, with her father moving out, then working on moving back. At one point the teacher said she would sit under her desk, sometimes doing her work and sometimes not. With encouragement, and parents determined that homework would. get. done. she has made some progress.

How do I know? She brought home an awesome report card. A's in all her subjects. WOOT! Oh, sure there are still some problem areas. We know they exist, and we work on them. But she's done a great job.

Monday, January 16, 2012

some done, others not

I know everyone is dying to know if I rode that bike again today. Well, I did. and I made 15 minutes on it, and that 15 wasn't as difficult as the 10 yesterday. Think I'll do 15 for a few more days, and then move up to 20 next weekend - not as far off as it could be.I'll do better with my time when I can do better with my kindle. I'm trying to think of some sort of sling to put it on the bike's "dashboard" (which doesn't work anyway any more) so I don't have to hold it while I read/ride. hmmmmm.

I started the second skein of yarn on the scarf I'm working on. The first skein got much further than I thought it was going to, but since I want it to be a hood type of thing, I will probably use three skeins at least. The knitting is going pretty quickly at this point, so that's something. Maybe I can mail it in time for her birthday.

No sewing with Roxanne this weekend. She is feeling out of sorts with a sinus infection. No fun. Carl was hoping we would be able to hem some pants for him to start his new job with (he starts tomorrow!). It didn't work out, but he's able to hem them himself if it comes to that. I offered to do them if he wanted to drop them off after work, since I think he'll actually be working somewhat near here.

Soon it will be Raine's birthday, so we talked about what kind of party she wanted and all that. Star Wars seems to be the theme this year. Light sabers and Jedi Knights rule the day. I hope the weather is nice, as it so often is here, even in winter, so we can have a party in the park with running and playing and lots of energy worked off. Oh yeah, and ice cream.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

progress on several fronts

A lovely three day weekend, and I've gotten several things on my to-do list crossed off all ready. More show significant advancement. Or at least work.

On the health front, I have been slothful and lazy lately, feeling overwhelming demands on my time. I've been bad and haven't exercised. I've been eating nominally better, but that won't make up for the lack of movement, I know. Today I hopped... um... climbed on the stationary bike and did 10 minutes. Not a lot, I know, but 10 more than I did yesterday. So that's somewhere, and you gotta start somewhere. Goal for tomorrow? 15.
snowflake mug rugs

On the crafting front, I finished up the snowflake mug rugs. Finally! Yay! Now to get the boxes packed and shipped. Oh, yeah, still working on that last scarf, and really liking how it is turning out! Pretty and soft and I really hope the recipient will like it (oh, come on, I'm hoping she loves it).
barely getting started - it's grown since this

Took Raine and her friend to the pool. They get exercise and I get to get grading done. Actually, I still needed to set up my gradebook for the semester. Got it done, and a good start on the grading, so I'm happy with that. This semester seems to be a ready or not here it comes one, and for some reason, I just can't get caught up. A little closer now, though.
into the water
Looking forward to one more day of weekend, and sewing with Roxanne!

Friday, January 13, 2012

friday 13th

Many people are afraid of Friday the 13ths. Not me. When I have bad luck, it has nothing to do with the date and much more to do with what ever I wasn't paying attention to that I perhaps should have been.

Today was a nice day, warmer than yesterday and pleasant out. My classes went well. Even the one with 29 (down from 30, yay) kids in it. Of course some were absent, but what the heck. My first period class changed. It is disappointing about the class that got cut, however the new class is an over flow class, and it has 6 students enrolled. At least it did today. Don't know how long that will last, but it was fabulous today.

The best part of today? Getting to sleep in tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

oh, grow up

Ron had some surgery on his leg. He had to get a mole removed that tested positive for skin cancer. The doctor said that the cancer did not even go through all the tested layers of the sample, so we are pretty confident in positive results here. Of course he will be back to the dermatologist regularly. Right now, though, his leg is painful, as the mole was right where his leg bends for his knee. They took out a decent chunk, and then there are stitches to close everything up. Owie.

So, then why do I feel so put upon right now? Yeah, I took care of dinner, and dishes, and dessert, and taking out the trash for pickup tomorrow, and ran out for supplies (and gas) and and and... Yeah. It has been a long day. I'm tired. I know the responsible thing is to take care of these things, and that Ron can't today. I don't really mind each chore, and I know I'll like that each has been done instead of ignored. But, darn it! I'm tired! And I feel whiney! And I don't really appreciate it in myself. Another instance where I don't feel like the grown up that my age (and all those other indicators) say I am.

Why are there days when I wish I could get away with being "high maintenance?"

Monday, January 9, 2012

gone & done it

Yes I have. I ordered some fabric. I've been cruising fabric websites for years, and what has saved me (at least up until now) is that I can't touch and feel the fabric. But yesterday evening... I looked at some fabric on an Etsy shop, and... and... the fabric was awesome... and the price was right... and... and... I ordered some.

I don't know whether to hope it is so awesome that I'll feel confident to order more in the future, or hope it is so disappointing I'll never order what I  can't feel ahead of time. Frankly, just between you and me, I'm hoping for AWESOME! I can't wait to see it in person... I might even have to share photos with you guys.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

bad daughter in law

Christmas came with pretty lights in the tree, and hung from the eaves. Presents under the tree (and usually a cat, too). Raine was oh so excited about Christmas this year. She had her list made up, and she told Santa what she wanted. The waiting wasn't easy.

Finally, Christmas eve, and opening presents. Wrapping paper hither and yon, but pictures? Nope. Happiness! Great gifts! No photos. Sigh. What is a grandmother to do when she can't get a picture of her one and only grandchild on Christmas?

My mother in law is way too nice to complain, but I'm sure she's been disappointed. Maybe these will help a bit...
nano bug on the track

Raine got more nano bugs for Christmas. And some track for them to run on. She found out today that Ginger the cat enjoys playing with them too...
And here you go, Nana, of course you get to see her beautiful face (pay no attention to the messy head, OK?)
Hi, Nana & Poppop

Friday, January 6, 2012

second verse...

I started the last Christmas project again this evening. After I finished unknotting the yarn. After dinner. (yummy pizza from Zefirro's) After we put in a movie - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we're watching them in order this week. Well, except that last night we watched Kung Fu Panda 2, which was entertaining, but not quite as good as the first one. But I digress.

I cast on the yarn, all 204 stitches and worked on some stockinette stitch, and was on the fourth row when I noticed. Yep, you know it, twisted. gah! Well, I'm not patient enough to unknit all those stitches, so I took it out. I wasn't happy with the joining point anyway - and I suspect I did something there that also resulted in the twist. I'll be more careful next time.

Anyway, second verse definitely better than the first. Third verse should be the charm!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

mildly ranty and ravey

Yeah. Couldn't work up a real rant, or a real rave. Yet.

I finished another scarf. Yay! That just leaves one to go. I tried to start it this evening. I found a pattern I like. The yarn is bought and pretty and soft and I so want to make it, but the skein of yarn was pulled out and re wrapped, and not in a good way. I'm having to wind it into a ball as I untangle it. Sigh. I almost had it cast on, too...

Not all was lost or frustrating, though. Tonight was the first episode of Project Runway Allstars! I've been waiting for it to start. Some of my favorite designers are there, like Mondo (man I wish I had his mad skillz) and I love to see what Austin Scarlett will be dramatic about. Anyway, it was a decent first episode, and interesting to see how these judges will view and comment on the designs. Not my favorite, yet, but I'll give it time to develop.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

i've gone & done it

I've signed up for a sewing class. On curves. Sewing curves, like in quilts and stuff. Curves that lie flat and all. At least I hope I will learn that. I do OK on the curves that occur when sewing on a sleeve, or the like, but this past summer, when I found those quilt pieces from my mom that were fan quilt pieces... and curvy... well, they got put away. Right. Quick. How cool it would be to feel like I could do them justice one of these days soon.

fan quilt in waiting

If you are interested in reading about the Curves Class, you can, here at Stitched in Color. She has three levels of class starting soon, all online. I'm taking the most basic one. Happy Christmas to me!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

missing, not missing

Over the course of events during the past few months, one of the things that has changed is that Carl moved out of our house. He moved in with Roxanne and Harold, who invited him - practically begged him - to move in with them. He's helping over there with meals, and from everything they are all saying, things are going well. I'm not surprised.

Carl changed his crossing to a school that is closer to where he's living now. I drove through the crossing at Raine's school, where he used to work, and had to wave at the new crossing guard, instead. Carl will be moving on to a new job soon, though. Full time with benefits and everything! Yay!

Things are going well for him, I think, and I'm glad for it. I miss him, though. Oh, sure, he's not gone away for ever, never to be seen again. He's across town, in a home I usually visit about once a week. He's a phone call away. A text. An e-mail. But not in the next room. So, I miss him.

Monday, January 2, 2012

counting days

Tomorrow, Raine starts back to school. Thursday, I do. My students, on Monday.I'm trying to cherish the final few days of my holiday (even if I will have to face the alarm clock tomorrow to get Raine going). I think I'll get all of my holiday projects finished, but one (sorry Scarrie). It will get done, just not finished this week. That means 2 out of 3 boxes into the mail.

There are so many lists of New Year's resolutions going around. Making your resolutions public probably helps people keep them, but I'm not one much for them. Oh, I make plenty of resolutions, all year round. Not just at New Year. Some of the ones I continue to work on?

Live more healthily. Walk more. Eat better. Maybe even loose some weight along the way.

Make stuff. Sew it, crochet it, knit it, craft with or with out needles. Creating helps me keep my sanity, and believe me, it NEEDS to be kept!

Clean up my act. I've learned this year that maintenance is important. I've learned that relationships - as well as the physical house - both need attention and upkeep. There is really no such thing as benign neglect, and I feel like if I will make the effort with each, my life will be better.The care should be intentional, and loving. OK, I'm not in love with my house, but if I want it to be a place where love is, then I need to help make it that.

Anyway. Those are the main things. Take responsibility is what a lot of it boils down to. Make my life the place I want to live in. And go back to work.