Friday, November 14, 2008

Butterflies in my stomach

Tonight I'm singing a solo during a concert. I've done this once or twice before, but I'm still a bit nervous. A week ago, I felt that we should call off the concert. This was after a spectacularly bad rehearsal. But everything has come together and I have hope that the evening will be a success. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween Treats

I literally baked all weekend for our annual pumpkin carving party. We have a set menu for this event. Spinach dip (classic Knorr recipe), a fabulous cheese spread I found in the Peach Tree Tearoom cookbook, fresh veggies and good old ranch dip, mini pigs in a blanket for the kids (and a few of the adults), massive quantities of salad with my neighbor Sally's homemade vinaigrette, beef pies, apple pie, and sugar cookies cut out in the shape of leaves, acorns, and ghosts. This year I added these black bottom cupcakes which have a filling of cream cheese and chocolate chips.

Overall the party was a success. It was the most organized I've ever been. Usually I'm up to my elbows in flour when my guests arrive, working to get the meat pies in the oven. This year, the pies were assembled in the fridge, the dishes were all clean and put away. It was wonderful! I actually got to enjoy the party and carve my own pumpkin.

I haven't taken a picture of my pumpkin, but here are some of the pumpkins carved by our guests:

Since we've gotten some real cold weather, I'm hoping that these pumpkins won't turn into mush before Halloween. It's a bit of an issue here in Houston. Carved pumpkins don't last long. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Juggling work and fun

This is one of those days when I will be trying to fit everything in.  Since Hurricane Ike shut us down for 11 days, I'm at work this morning trying to catch up. But I don't want to spend all day here as my church is having their annual festival and I want to spend some time there with my daughter, son and daughter-in-law. It's too pretty a day to be cooped up at work. So, hopefully, I can crank some of this stuff out and maybe have fun today too.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A hint of fall in Houston

It is a beautiful morning. The kind we don't get often enough in Houston. It's cool. The sky is a gorgeous blue, and we've got the windows open. I have loads that I want to get done, but hopefully the day will culminate in the commune meeting over here around the fire pit to enjoy a rare gorgeous fall evening in Houston.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Almost the Weekend

After four days of computer training here at work, I'm going to be trying to catch up on all the stuff I needed to do this week. Between being out for Hurricane Ike and then this training, I am wondering if I'll ever catch up either at work or at home.

At any rate, most of this weekend will be dedicated to dealing with stuff around the house and getting ready for our annual pumpkin carving party. We've been hosting this party since we moved into our house about 10 years ago. It became an immediate tradition in the neighborhood and I am not allowed to change the menu or anything else about the party. It's always held on the Sunday evening before Halloween, which this year is a bit of  a problem.  Since we live in Houston, carved pumpkins typically only last two days in our weather before turning into a mushy mess. But when I told my neighbors I might skip this year, they promptly made it clear that wasn't an option. So off we go again. And it is fun, even though it is a lot of work. See, we not only carve pumpkins, but I serve everyone supper. And I make all the food from scratch. So, lots of cooking and baking will be going on over the next week. And it's all worth it because it makes people happy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The One Step at a Time Program

Currently in my house, I have a bedroom that has turned into a black hole. It's my son's former room and in preparation for the massive redo of the kitchen and the the den, a lot of stuff got dumped in there. Which means I have not been able to use this room for it's new purpose as a sewing/weaving/computer room, because I can barely get in the door. So, I've got a new goal. Not to get in there over a weekend and clean it all out, but to do just a little bit in there every day. So, far, I've done something productive in there the last two nights. It's not much, but at least I'm doing something about it and I'm not feeling overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of the job. 

The motivators to find a workable solution to the mess are: a) I've got my mother coming to stay the weekend before Thanksgiving, b) I've got to be able to get to the sewing machine so I can start on my daughter's graduation dress and c) last weekend when I was switching out the  summer stuff in the house for fall stuff, I found myself tossing things into my at college daughter's room and realized with horror that I was creating two 'junk' rooms in my house. 

We'll see how it goes. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Kitchen and Den Finally got Painted

I did get the kitchen and den painted. It was a hellish job, punctuated by complete exhaustion, a rather icky case of food poisoning, and issues with my spouse. But it was all worth it, because I no longer hate the way these two rooms look. They are light and 'happy.' None of this would have been possible without the help of my daughters and one of their friends. They worked so hard to make this happen. To give an idea of the scale of this project, we removed wallpaper, primed cabinets and paneling, removed 43 cabinet doors and all the hardware on them, then installed new hardware on the cabinet doors. Ten drawers. And painted inside the upper cabinets.

The results are here:

And I love my renewed spaces.  One of these days I'll have to do something about the countertops, but first I want to replace the vinyl and carpet with ceramic tile. 

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Too many projects

It's been a busy few months evidently. I've had trips to Rockport to take care of my aging mom, too much work, and then the trip to bring Sara and all her stuff home from college for the summer. But I have a few minutes and it's time to catch up.

The biggest project on the horizon (once I finish the summer magazine for the school) is painting our kitchen and den at home. Larry has a business trip to Vegas in a couple of weeks, so I am taking a week of vacation (time which must be used before the end of June) to do the painting. It's going to be huge as we have the most incredibly ugly dark wood paneling and cabinets. One small section of the paneling and trim is done already, because I needed to test the chosen colors before buying the paint. As it turned out, I didn't quite like the colors I originally chose. It took multiple trips to Lowe's before I was totally happy. 

I'm going with a retro green for the paneling and cabinets with a white trim. The wallpaper is coming down too. I had hoped to have it done by now, but just getting the colors chosen took up most of Memorial Day weekend, then last weekend I was either at work or at home baking cupcakes for my neighbor's son's graduation party. She baked cupcakes for my daughter's graduation party last year, so turn about was fair play.

At any rate, I will have a busy week. Hopefully the daughters will be available to help as this must be finished before the big end of the year choir party I'm hosting at the house on the 21st. 

It's always something.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Pitfalls of Being a Mom with a Facebook

I have just been in Facebook. And there are new photos of my son at a friend's wedding this weekend. A photo of him with a cigarette. And I am hoping that it was just a party thing and that he has not started/continued smoking. With his family history, he should never have smoked a single cigarette. (Both grandfathers died of lung cancer or heart disease.) So, I'm bummed.

It's not like I have that many hard and fast rules for my children. Only one hole in each ear. No other piercings allowed. No tattoos. Ever. And they are not allowed to join any Catholic cults like Regnam Christi or Opus Dei (only a possible concern with the youngest and the oldest who tend to be very holy.) I always thought the no smoking thing was a no-brainer. But I guess I should have made it clear.

Email will be going out tomorrow to the girls.


• Facebooking: I just got a Facebook page at the urging of my teenage daughter. Considering that most of the teenagers I know would rather die than grant their parents Friend status to their Facebook pages, it did feel a bit funny to sign up. But she is thrilled and so are her sister, brother, and sister-in-law. And over the past week, as word has gotten out to their friends, I find I am getting about 1 new friend request a day from my children’s buddies. They all seem thrilled that Momma B is on Facebook. And it is nice to be able to see the photos they post and to leave the occasional message.

• Targeting Target: I am currently boycotting Target stores. Ostensibly it’s over their return policy, but what really has me upset is a total lack of common sense when it comes to the merchandise I want to return. The dispute is over a set of Target’s Home brand king-sized sheets (Please note that the sheets in question are the Target store brand. Not Wamsutta or another name brand.) My 85-year old mother gave them to us as a Christmas present in early December. Unfortunately, I don’t have a king-sized bed. I have a queen-sized bed. So, when I opened the present and saw they were a) the wrong size and b) the Target Home brand, I decided not to point out the error to my mom, who has some short-term memory issues that she is sensitive about. Based on my past experiences with exchanging Target store brand items, I figured I’d have no problem exchanging the set in question for the correct size.

Well silly me. I really should have asked Mom or my sister, who lives nearby, for the receipt. It’s been several years since I’ve had to exchange anything at Target and since then, the customer service department has been given a new return policy that they are evidently instructed to follow or else. And the policy is that if you don’t have a receipt, a gift receipt, or the credit card number that was used to purchase the item in question, then you are out of luck, especially if the item in question cost more than $20. You see they want to ensure that the item was purchased in the last 90 days. So, even though my king-sized sheet set is a Target store brand and even though this sheet set is currently offered for sale by Target, and even though the king-sized set costs exactly the same amount of money as the queen-sized set ($49.99), they will not let me exchange my sheets for the right size. And as far as I’ve been able to find out, no one, and I mean no one, within Target’s organization has the authority to use their common sense and say, “this is ridiculous, let the woman have the size sheets she needs.” And I did need the sheets.

I currently have a new set of queen-sized sheets. I bought them at Linens ‘n Things this weekend. And I still have the $50 king-sized sheets I can’t use. My mom, when she couldn’t find the receipt, offered to give me the money to buy the size I needed, but I’m not going to take it from her. Why should she have to shell out extra money just because of a lack of common sense on the part of Target’s management? Chances are I could check with my sister Julia and have her make the exchange for me as she probably bought them online for Mom. But Julia has her hands full these days between remodeling a building for a new store she is opening and dealing with Mom’s health issues. So, I guess I’m stuck with the sheets. Let me know if you hear of anyone who is in need of a set of white damask stripe king-sized sheets.

• Room Mothering:  At the beginning of the school year, the Upper School dean of students asked (begged) me to agree to be a room mother for my daughter’s 11th grade class. She had been unsuccessful so far in roping any of the other moms and she assured me that I was just her ‘yes’ mom. In other words, If I said yes, she would be able to assure the other moms that she actually had someone else to do it with them. So, I said yes, thinking how hard could this be? Well, it’s not hard, but it is annoying. And I’m having to do a bit more than I originally thought. Basically, this is coming at a bad time for me work-wise. But this too will pass.

Monday, January 21, 2008

This and That

Not sure how this is happening, but I'm actually updating. I have a day off from work and I should be doing stuff around the house (what is the record on waiting to take down the Christmas tree?), but I haven't posted since August and I'm long overdue.

Okay, lessee. Yes, my son's wedding went off beautifully. I did have a bit of trouble sleeping the night before the wedding, but it wasn't because I had over indulged at the rehearsal dinner or was freaking out because of doubts over what my son was about to commit to. No, I was having panic attacks over whether I was going to fit into my mother of the groom dress in the morning.

So, here's the deal. The wedding was in Seattle. We got there on Tuesday night and the wedding was Saturday morning. And this was basically a bit of a vacation for us. So, instead of exercising control, I basically ate whatever I wanted and didn't think a thing about it until I woke up sometime Friday night and the thought hit me: "What if I can't get the zipper up on the dress???"

Total freakout time. Because the dress in question, was this lovely fitted sundress in a bright coral pink that zips up the side. And in my experience, dresses that zip up the side are nightmare if you have put on that extra pound or two. What had I been thinking??? (Oh wait, I wasn't thinking, I was eating!!! Everything!!!) Now the dress did have a jacket, but let's face it, there was going to be something funky going on with the neckline if I couldn't get the damn thing to zip.

I somehow managed to make it to morning (thank you whoever invented xanax) and the first thing I did was get the dress out (did I mention that I didn't have a back-up plan/outfit?) I put it on the conventional way with the zipper on the side and got the zipper to the waistband. No go.
This was not good. Then I looked at the dress and decided it was time to get creative. I must give kudos here to whoever designed this dress for Talbots. The spaghetti straps on the dress are adjustable, ie. they have little buttonholes stiched into the back which allow you to adjust them. So, I unbuttoned the straps, swiveled the dress around so the zipper was in the front, sucked in my new, bigger gut (courtesy of the restaurants in Seattle and no common sense on my part) and got the dress zipped. I then swiveled the dress back around. Success!! I was able to get the dress on! I wasn't going to miss my son's wedding or have to go in my blue jeans.

So, here's a hint for you. If your child is getting married and you are going somewhere fabulous for the wedding and want to combine the wedding with a bit of a vacation, either don't go early and stay after the wedding, or, if you have to go up several days before the wedding, just go ahead and buy a bigger size.

The second thing I didn't expect was to cry as much as I did. And yes, I cried. I couldn't help myself. I just teared up at everything. At one point, I'm standing there with tears in my eyes and all the groomsmen are having fits trying not to laugh because Rachel's spouting more water than the batismal font/fountain in the church. Sheesh. It was embarrassing.

Seriously, though, it was a wonderful day (I must tell you about the ring bearers running around before the wedding, totally dressed except for their pants, which their normally uber-organized mother had left back at the hotel. The priest lost it when he saw them. Totally. Just started laughing and couldn't stop.) and I adore my new daughter-in-law.

More later. Really. I promise.