Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Shared Cup of Coffee

Whew! May I never take heat for granted. As each day passes, last week seems more and more like a bad dream, except that it's still a very bad dream for many people in Oklahoma. Last look OG&E System Watch still shows 83,000 people in the OKC metro still without power. Hats off (and a huge thank you) to Oklahoma utility crews and those from Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi and Indiana who restored power to 217,000 people since Tuesday afternoon.

We stayed at the house during the power outage which wasn't too bad those first 48 hours thanks to B's efforts over the last few years insulating the ceiling and walls and new windows. But by the 3rd night it was pretty brutal. The low temperature inside the house was 46 degrees. Closing off all the bedrooms helped preserve a little bit of heat. We moved our mattress into the front room and pulled out all blankets, afghans, and comforters. Although we tried to think of it as an adventure and cabin living, it became increasingly difficult. At least at the cabin we had a heat source.

Anyway, there were a few really sweet moments. One of my favorite was Monday morning. B and I woke of course to a very cold house. The shock of seeing treacherously bent and broken branches all over the neighborhood was a bit scary and unsettling. Sadly, four large branches from our maple tree were broken and many more hanging 3-4 feet lower than normal.

I called a work colleague who confirmed the office was closed due to the weather. B set out to make an alternative hot beverage. During the middle of the night when we lost power he realized we were SOL with our morning coffee. (We are avid morning coffee drinkers.) B manually lit the gas burner on the store, boiled up some water and made a couple of hot cups of tea.

About 30 minutes later, the phone rang (while we still had phone service) and it was our next door neighbor.

"Do you have coffee?"

"No. Unfortunately, we have the means but no grounds. Water and a gas stove, but can't grind the beans."

"Well come on over. We have plenty of grounds, so bring your means."

We boiled up another pot of hot water, primed the thermos, and filled it to the top with luscious hot water. Sharing a hot cup of coffee with our neighbors brought a strange comfort in the midst of the strange sights and sounds.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Caramel Oatmeal Bars

Off to the store to get some caramel. I wanted to make something sweet for B (our refrigerator is on the fritz so we are kinda bummed and need something to lift our spirits). When I asked what he'd like he said, "Something like Caramel Oatmeal Bars". Low and behold I typed those exact words into Google and bunches of recipes came forth. I'll let you now how they turnout.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Favorite Fabric

Yesterday I worked on the new quilt. I finished cutting all the pieces with my rotary cutter (2nd favorite invention in the world) and I sewed together all the bias rectangles. Of course Molly had to "help" at one point. She is sitting to the right of my sewing machine. (She is "asked" to leave when I'm actually sewing or cutting. She is definitely a curious cat.)

Here are closeups of the bias rectangles. I bought a wonderful tool that makes cutting and piecing these types of triangles a cinch. This is one of my favorite piecing shapes. At some point I'd like to make a Tennessee Waltz quilt which includes bias rectangles also.

My favorite fabric in the quilt is the purple floral. I love how the flowers seem to dance on the background.

Purple is one of my favorite colors, so it's no wonder this kit caught my eye.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Birthday Wishes

Thanks for the birthday wishes!! I celebrated my birthday "week" with a wonderful conversation with my mom on Tuesday and a special birthday song from my father-in-law that same day. (My in-laws were traveling on my birthday, and they were so sweet to wish me happy birthday the day before.)

My dad called early Wednesday since I didn't get a chance to talk to him Tuesday, but I missed his call. I love voice mail simply for the reason I get to listen to the special ones over and over again. My middle sister and family called later in the day while I was at work and left a sweet singing Birthday-gram.

When I got home from work, I opened my presents and then B and I went to dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant. They have a wonderful sampler plate and their marinara sauce is so YUMMY! At 10:30 p.m. the phone rang and it was my oldest sister. She and her family also sang happy birthday to me as well. It was really sweet.

The last few things I'm including in my birthday celebration were seeing 5 beautiful roses in my side yard on Friday. I planted this rose bush two years ago, mostly for my neighbors to have something pretty to look at since we don't see that side of the yard much. New blooms are a beautiful vibrant yellow. They change to pink after a few days and finally a light pink as the petals fall off. This bush bloomed all spring and summer and it still has about 4 more buds. (I took the photo with my camera phone. It's not a very clear picture, but hopefully you can see the pretty yellow petals. Yes, that's a bee in the bigger bloom.)

P.S. While running errands this afternoon, we might by go Bed Bath and Beyond so I can get a candle for my final celebration. I have a weak spot for Yankee Candles (thanks to my nieces!). It's a serious addiction. :) Our newest favorite is Vanilla Lime.

Friday, October 12, 2007

TV and Speakers Gone, Too

I just posted my previous entry about Big Trash Day when I heard more voices outside. A mom and kids were looking at the stuff and one of the school-aged girls came walking up to the door. She asked if the TV still worked and I told her not very well. The screen takes about 2 minutes to warm up, but said she's more than welcome to take it.

I went to unload the dishwasher and then peeked out at the curb. I saw the little girl and likely her little sister sitting on the lawn. My guess was their mom would soon return with a car to take the TV. Just then the thought occurred to me to find the remote. I was pretty sure we hadn't thrown it away. I found it, checked the battery and had just enough time to find the instructions in the file cabinet (B will be pleased). I hurried out to the curb and handed them to the little girl just as the mom was loading up the TV. She looked at me and said with a smile "Thank you!"

I'm saying a prayer that the TV will keep working at least another 10 years.

Big Trash Day

Twice a year our town has a "big trash" pickup for things like mattresses, couches, refrigerators ~ essentially anything you can't throw away during normal trash pickup. The great thing about Big Trash Day is it's like a city-wide garage sale, but no preparation and no price haggling. One year we put out a bunch of stuff and by morning the only thing left was an old stinky rug I hoped no one would take.

Just now I put a bunch of things out including an old bicycle I bought in college. It was in pretty good shape, but needed new tires and a grease job. I've been hanging onto it for way too long for sentimental reasons to be sure. We decided to put it out, but if no one took it then we'd bring in back inside and donate it. B didn't like the idea (and neither did I) of it being in the landfill.

I walked into the house to check my email and I heard the dogs bark and a car door slam. Guess what? No bike. It was on the curb less than 5 minutes. Ha!!

Now I just hope someone will take the old TV, speakers, chairs, and toaster oven.

Friday, October 05, 2007

"Flutterbye Kisses"

I ran some errands this afternoon and decided to stop by the quilt store since it was right on the way. I looked through the new books and of course wandered through the fabric collection. (All the colors sure make me smile). About ready to check out, I found more fabric along another wall and then noticed several quilt kits hidden back behind a display. I've never bought a kit before, always putting together my own fabric and colors.

This little gem jumped right into my arms (well maybe not exactly like that). I just fell in love with the colors and the design. Something about it just spoke to me.

After looking at the price I put it back, but I swear it jumped back in my arms again (grins). I wandered around the store another 10 minutes wrestling with my frugal side, but I finally decided to buy it. It was then I noticed the title "Flutterbye Kisses". I think it fits perfectly.

(If you click the photo, you can see the sunflower border. It's from fabric shown at the top of the photo which has a line of sunflowers along the length of the fabric. Perfect for a border. It's hard to see in the photo, but some of the small print fabrics also have little tiny sunflowers .)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tidbits about Me

My sweet friend over at Okie Okasan tagged me (Yikes!). I felt a bit intimidated at first, but after giving it some thought I decided to play. So here are the rules:
  • Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves.
  • The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed.
  • At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves a comment letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
My Tidbits
  • Certified scuba diver when I was in the 7th grade. The scariest yet most exciting dive was the 30 ft emergency ascent which was required for certification. We removed our respirators and then ascended while blowing little bubbles through our lips.

  • Dreamed about being an Olympic skier when I was younger. Although I can ski the bumps, I wasn't near good enough nor competitive enough. T'was fun to dream though.

  • My biggest regret as a young teen was quitting piano lessons while in junior high. Soccer practice conflicted with lessons and of course piano practice was like pulling teeth.

  • I married my best friend. B and I met for coffee every week for three years before we ever started dating. The funny thing is, his brother knew we took a liking to each other even before we knew. I met his brother and sister-in-law during a lunch get-together on our way to a Red Rocks concert. Apparently, B's brother saw something different in his little brother when he was around me. A year later we started dating. Ha!

  • Over the years I've dabbled in several different types of art. I took drawing and painting lessons, but quilting is the most satisfying to me. I love the colors, textures, planning, measuring, rotary cutting, fitting, sewing, even the ripping doesn't bother me. Some day I'd like to start drawing again. My favorite medium is pencil.

  • I only missed one day of school during K-12. Don't ask me how this was even possible. Either I went to school when I really should have stayed home or my parents passed along resilient genes. Probably a little bit of both.

  • My first all nighter was my senior year in high school. I had a take home calculus exam and research paper due Monday morning. (Yes, I'm a bit of a procrastinator). I'm pretty sure I completed most of my research and I'd like to think I'd written at least an outline, but I can't remember. Luckily, I did well on both. Whew! Unfortunately, Monday evening was the National Honor Society induction ceremony. I was president of our chapter and aside from the fact that I'm incredibly nervous speaking in pubic, I was so exhausted that I sped through my portion of the ceremony. We were finished in 15 minutes. It was horrible. I asked my mom how things went after the ceremony, and she said, "well that was the fastest induction I've ever seen". Later that night (did I think I was superwoman or what) I fell asleep while talking on the phone. Jeesh!

  • I am named after my grandmothers. I share my paternal grandmother's first name and my maternal grandmother's middle name. For many, many years I felt tremendously ashamed for not being male in order to carry on the family name. I am the youngest of three girls and my father and grandfather were the only males of their respective generations. It seems crazy now that I took on this expectation. In a sweet glimpse of goodness about 10 years ago it dawned on me that indeed I am carrying on the family name. It's just on the maternal side.
That wasn't so scary and really kinda fun. Now for the last rule. Although I read a number of blogs, I'm an infrequent commenter (just like my blogging), so I'm only tagging these three "lucky" bloggers.

Streak at Streak's Blog
Anglican at A New Anglican's Journey
Nina at TheArtofIt

Friday, September 28, 2007

Guilty Food Pleasures

Earlier this afternoon I picked up "will call" tickets for a concert we are attending tonight. Right across the street is a Sonic drive-in which sells my favorite guilty food pleasure.

If you haven't tried Ched 'R' Peppers you don't know what you're missing. I'd never heard of these little things until we visited some friends in Houston a number of years back. We ordered take out at a local restaurant and they said we MUST try these little devils. They were wonderful. Jalapenos stuffed with cheddar cheese and deep fat fried. To die for!!!

Although Sonic's are not quite as good as those originals (not HOT enough), nonetheless, do they ever hit the spot!! Yum, Yum, Yum.

P.S. Yes I did stop and I did order. :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bald Tires...Already?

I took my car in for service this morning because the brakes were squealing a bit. I noticed it mostly when I pulled out of the driveway in the morning. They also seemed a little "hard" when I pressed the peddle. Turns out the mechanic knew exactly what that symptom meant. All four brake pads were shot, the rotors on the front needed to be resurfaced, and the back rotors replaced altogether as they were worn past the recommended limit. The service guy also discovered that I was missing one of the lug bolts on a back tire. Scary!!

But the biggest tires were bald. Seems like I just got new tires. I was a bit skeptical, but after searching through my service records I discovered the tires had 70,000 miles on them and they had a 50,000 warranty. Well, I guess commuting (23 miles) and a couple of trips across the country adds up. Turns out I bought them almost 4.5 years ago. He mentioned that they had even wear. I was please to hear this. This was not the case with my last set of tires. I only rotated them once toward the end of their life which is not a good practice. I'm pretty good about keeping up with the maintenance schedule, but for some reason rotating the tires slips my mind.

Not looking forward to getting this credit card bill. Oh well. But, I'm glad for the new tires. I was amazed at the difference when I drove the car. It turns better, sounds quieter, and it's just a whole lot smoother.

Friday, September 07, 2007

What is "Stree?"

We went to PetsMart the other day and a funny thing happened on the way home. We bought 4 rosey red minnows as they are supposed to eat mosquito larva. Last week one of our biology friends came by to see the pond and fountain. Very nicely, but strongly, he suggested we get some fish...and fast. (We are using mosquito dunks, but it seems like they disintegrate very quickly perhaps because we recirculate the water. We want to stock the pond with native fish and hopefully we'll get our supply soon.)

So, on the way home I was reading the pet care instructions on the fish bag. The conversation went something like this.

(Reading from bag.) "'Responsible pet ownership begins on the trip home....If you have more shopping or errands to complete, consider picking up your pet last. This will ensure your pet encounters the least amount of stree possible.' Looking up from the bag I asked my husband, "What is stree?"


"What is stree? That's what the bag says, 'This will ensure your pet encounters the least amount of stree possible.'"

"'Stree' is not a word."

"But it says it right here."

"Probably should be 'stress'. It's a typo."

The pet instruction bag maker really should use a spellchecker.

We got the little guys home (no extra errands) and I let the bag float in the pond for about 15 minutes to acclimate the fish to the pond water temperature as directed on the bag. I opened the bag and gently let them loose. It was kinda fun to watch them scurry away.

The next day we located two of the little guys and we hope the other two survived. They are only about 1 in long, so they are hard to see. Unfortunately, we don't have a screen on the skimmer so they could get sucked into the pump. We are working on that. But as B and I said...these are not pets! These guys are work for a living. They better eat the larva and they better grow fast!!


Well, today we can't find any of the fish. Bummer! We now wonder if they experienced too much "stree" from being sucked into the pond pump, torpedoed out the fountain hole after swirling through 20 feet of pipe. Drag...Off to the pet store for more fish.

MyTunes, MP3s, and fertilizer

(They really are related. I promise!)

Found something cool on Wired while reading my "news blogs". Someone figured out how to compress MP3 files even smaller. The product is called ShrinkMyTunes and compresses the file through a patented algorithm. Although I can hold quite a bit of music on my nano, I need to pick and choose from my iTunes collection (actually most is from my music lover husband's collection).

I was telling my husband and read part of the article to him. I came to the sentence, "To the trained ear, the converted MP3s sound like they have a medium amount of variable-bitrate (VBR) compression applied."

Well, I learned to read using phonics, so when I got to the word "bitrate" I pronounced it bi-trate with a long /i/. My funny husband (while looking over my shoulder) said, "bit-rate. It's not a fertilizer."

Ha! See the subjects really do tie together. :)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hard Drive Screech

A week ago last Saturday my hard drive took a dive. For the last few weeks I noticed an occasional ever so slight screeching sound (which is never good). By Sunday it took 10 minutes to load a web page and the hard drive sounded like it was gasping for air and ready to grind to a halt.

I called Apple and the Customer Service Representative led me through some diagnostics, but it was clear the hard drive was failing. Luckily I was able to backup all my data (except I forgot to save my browser favorites). She suggested I send it in for maintenance. Apple sent a special box that I received Tuesday morning. I packaged it up Tuesday afternoon and dropped it off for DHL pickup.

Lo and behold guess what was waiting for me Thursday evening when I got home from work? Is that service or what! As an extra bonus I noticed I had a new keyboard, too. I'd worn off some of the letters and a few keys were sticking. Because we purchased Apple Care (extended warranty) I was not charged for the new hard drive or keyboard. (I'm usually skeptical of extended warranties. My belief is if you buy quality, then you don't need these things. However my sweet husband has convinced me they make sense when there are a lot of moving or electronic parts, but I hate spending money on these things.)

Anyway, I'm happy as a clam to have my laptop back and all my data restored. Yippee!

I love my Mac.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Our Sweet Alafair

Several weeks ago one of our beloved dogs died. She was with us for almost ten years and we miss her very much. Her name was Alafair, named after a character in one of my husband's favorite fiction series.

We adopted her in 1999 from Pets and People, a pet adoption organization up in the city. Several months before this wonderfully fateful trip, we talked back and forth about getting a buddy for our other dog, Streak. We both knew when we went, we would come home with a dog. One would grab our heart and we would bring it home.

My husband saw her in a crate with another dog. She was not feeling well, but her magic still worked on him. I was hesitant. The volunteers took her from the crate and I sat with her on the floor while B went to find out more information about her history. He was gone for at least 15 minutes. In that short time, Alafair stole my heart. She curled up in a tiny little ball very close to me as I sat on the floor. When B returned he bent down and told me about her history. She was about 18 months old, rescued from the animal shelter and was sick. He said we didn't have to take her, but with tears streaming down my cheeks, I said "I can't bare not to take her". That began our love affair with this little one.

When we got home she slept almost 24 hours straight. She ate only a little bit. Within a few days and a trip to the vet she was much better. Over the next few years her personality and confidence grew. When we first took her on walks, the sound of cars frightened her and she skittled cross the side walk. Over time walks became her most favorite thing (although she adored her buddy, Streak). In our house we couldn't use the word "walk" because she knew what that meant. We called them a "W" until we both were ready to actually go. Even putting on a pair of shoes would elicit high pitched yip, "Can we go? Can we go? Oh please, oh please".

We miss her very much and she will always have a special place in our hearts. She was gentle, devoted, and alive with life.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Valpak ~ total waste (or are they?)

Rob Riggle did a funny bit on the Daily Show the other night where he "supervised the worst mail call ever" in the words of the Daily Show. In the piece (actually broadcasting from Baghdad on a USO tour) Rob delivers Valpaks to Marines in the barracks. It was hilarious in a totally Daily Show way.

Tonight we got a Valpak in the mail and I promptly threw it in the recycle bin commenting what a total waste of paper. On a goofy whim while talking to my husband I decided to open it so we could continue to poke fun.

Lo and behold (and I hate to admit this) I actually found three coupons we can use: Marble Slab Creamery (yumm!!), Van's Pig Stand (even bigger yumm!!!), and Checks in the Mail (we really could use some address labels). Ha!!!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Front Yard Bouquets

This afternoon I got back from the pet food store and my neighbors were outside with their children and dogs. I noticed the 6 year old picking flowers (well, weeds) throughout the yard. My husband and I chatted a bit and then went back into our house. Within a few minutes our doorbell rang.

With a huge grin and a bouquet to match, little "A" handed me the flowers. I asked if I could give him a big thank you hug and of course he obliged.

Well, about 15 minutes later the doorbell rang again and guess what I got? A second bouquet!!

Little "A" made my day...truly a small glimpse of purity and goodness.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Quilting Binge

I started quilting again and I'm having a blast. I made my last quilt almost 10 years ago. Hard to believe! I'd forgotten just how much fun it is to work with colors, fabric, thread, the rotary cutter, my new sewing machine. I'm once again a regular customer at the fabric store and even signed up for the "Preferred Customer" program. Ha!! I finished two baby sized quilt tops from simple patterns (Sweet Baby and Mine Shaft) using some left over material. (I did buy some yellow fabric because the yellows in my stash were not quite right. Plus it was a good excuse to go to the fabric store).

My next step is to decide how to quilt the tops. Computers and digital cameras have changed that process. I took several photos of the tops and printed them so I can draw out the quilting pattern on the printout. In the past I sometimes drafted a miniature version on graph paper with color pencils. That was fun, too, but very time consuming.

(Of course I had to include one with Molly! She's new to the whole quilting and sewing thing. She's always been a very curious cat, but most of all I think she just wants to be with me. My squirt bottle is coming in handy at times.)