Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Girls Day Out: An Afternoon Of Artistic Entertainment

The first day of Christmas break the Girls and I had a busy day planned.  We would finish start our Christmas shopping, grab some lunch, and then we would spend the afternoon at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.


I had been wanting to go since it opened last month, and had actually been offered tickets for opening night but I had a very special prior engagement (you can read about that here) and wasn't able to make it.  I am by no means an art connoisseur, in fact I couldn't even be described as an art enthusiast.  I do, however, appreciate the imagination and uniqueness of art.  I offered L the opportunity to go with me, but he was less than enthused about the idea.  The Girls, however, were all in.

Can I just say how much I love having daughters?!?! Everyone has told me how terrible the teenage years are, and I do realize that things could change in a split second.  But at the current time I am loving this stage in my daughters lives.  They're old enough to be talked to like adults, and still young enough to have such entertaining things to say.

After finishing the Christmas shopping (ever year I swear I won't wait until the last minute and ever year I make a liar out of myself), and grabbing some lunch, we decided to go ahead and find Crystal Bridges.  That was a good idea since the address is so new that Big Momma couldn't find the location and we spent the next 45 minutes lost taking a scenic tour of Bentonville.  After we found the museum we still had time to kill so we went searching for other entertainment, and we found it.  Have I mentioned how we love a good, or in this case a Goodwill, store?  Yea, I'm pretty sure I have!


As we're walking across the parking lot GG looks up and says, "Look momma, a cop".  NG immediately follows that statement with, "Look momma, a Krispie Kreme".  I couldn't help it, I laughed.

I had this bright idea that we could get a group photo if we stood in front of the bathroom mirror.  This was actually much harder than I anticipated.  We also had to wait until the bathroom was empty because people apparently think this is a strange thing to do.  Go figure!  The bathroom is three rooms, one contains the stalls, the middle room has a large mirror, and the third room is the wash room.  We spent close to three minutes huddled in the corner of the room with the stalls trying to suppress a case of the giggles and wait out the lady washing her hands.  Now I don't know if she was trying to wait us out to see what we were doing or if she was prepping for surgery but it took forever for her to leave.

This was the picture I got....


This is not a wooden horse...but if you take the tour they'll tell you what kind of horse it is.
(When I turned my flash off I accidentally turned my timer on, so I decided to just wait it out.  Apparently standing in front of a piece of art holding a camera in midair while it ticks down 10 seconds is considered odd.  Again go figure!)


Here's a model of what Crystal Bridges will look like when the outside is completed.
 

This was one of my favorites.


This one the Girls and I titled "Snoopy".


This is a self portrait of Oscar.  I mistook him for Don Knots.


Conversation between NG and myself:
NG: We could take another picture of ourselves in front of this.
Me: Can you see yourself? Because that's not a mirror.
NG: Oh, no.  Never mind.


Can you see a Mr. Ed?


Conversation between GG and myself:
GG: This looks like the art you see on the sides of trains.
Me: That's not art, it's graffiti.
GG: Well then this looks like graffiti.


We had a great day, and plan to go back in the spring when it's warm enough to walk the outside trails.  Even if you're not particularly fond of art I recommend going anyway, and if you really want to liven things up take a teen and a tween with you.  Never a dull moment! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pinterest Is A Lot Of Pressure!

A couple of months ago after reading of every one's excitement about it I decided to start a Pinterest account.  I pulled up the website, requested an invite, and was placed on a waiting list.  Now I realize that patience is a virtue, it just doesn't happen to be one of my virtues.  I'm more of an instant gratification girl.  So this waiting list concept bothered me a little a lot, but I was prepared to wait because they gave me no choice.  Weeks later I was still waiting but one of my coworkers finally got to set up her account and sent me an invite.

The truth is I didn't truly understand what Pinterest was, and honestly I still don't.  I accepted my invitation, set up my account, and immediately became overwhelmed.  There are boards, pins, likes, and this thing called pin etiquette.  Pin etiquette?!?!  What if I get it wrong and inadvertently offend one of my pinning neighbors?!?!  What if they won't be my pinfriends?!?!


It's been three weeks and I have only worked up the nerve to like one thing.  But don't those look delicious?  This comes from a sight called velveteenbaker.com

I keep receiving email notifications that my Facebook friends are now following me on Pinterest. (and since the above picture is all I have to offer at the moment I'm guessing that journey ain't taking them very long)  So this is it...I'm going to get my act together and start making boards, and pinning things, and liking stuff, and making comments.  I'm going to try not to offend my pinning neighbors, I'm going to make new pinfriends, and I'm not going to bore my 11 12 followers.  But if anyone knows of a Pinterest support group could you please pen me an invite?


Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Girls Day Out: Sales, Cheesecake, & Christmas Carols

Last Saturday the Girls and I got up early and went tripping over to Tulsa, Oklahoma for a day of shopping and a much anticipated visit to The Cheesecake Factory

Now our idea of an all day shopping spree might differ from most.  There are three Goodwill Industries stores in Tulsa and one in Broken Arrow, which is located on the outskirts of Tulsa.  Four times a year these stores have a "half off sale" on all clothing, shoes, and purses.  I love to shop resale, and I've passed that love on to my daughters.  Not only does this mean we can get new (to us at least) things but I don't have to spend a lot of money to do it.  Shopping resale is green, and a great way to "shop American" regardless of what the made in ... tag says.

L made the mistake of calling me cheap one time.  I explained to him that I am not cheap, I am frugal.  Here is the difference: If I were cheap that would mean L still had some of his money.  I am frugal and that means I still have some of L's money.  As far as L is concerned he is to consider me high maintenance.  Now back to the story.


The Girls and I got to the first Goodwill around 8:30 a.m. and immediately began searching for bargains.  We made a quick stop at Sonic for a snack before continuing on to the next two stores.  After we finished up at the third store we decided it was time for lunch, so off to The Cheesecake Factory we went.


We ordered a couple of different dishes and shared so we could try more that one thing, but we each ordered our own slice of cheesecake.  GG ordered the Red Velvet Cheesecake, NG ordered the Tuxedo Cheesecake, and I ordered the Lemon Raspberry Cream Cheesecake.  They were all awesome!!


After lunch we went to the last store to finish out our shopping trip.  It took us a little while longer to get there since we had the wrong address.  I consulted Coco for help, she copped an attitude, I yelled at her, she quit talking to me, and the first words out of the Girl's mouths when we got home?  "Momma got in a fight with Coco!!"  Tattle tails!

On the drive home we turned on the holiday music and sang karaoke to Christmas carols all the way home.  Our favorites were Taylor Swift's Last Christmas and every version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (so we could add the additional lyrics). 

Here's our complete shopping coup for the day.  Not bad for $130.89!


See those lovely yellow and black plaid shirts there on the left?  GG and I are registered for a Warrior Dash in the spring and that's the beginning of our performance costumes. There will be more on that later.

The next day I discovered an accidental souvenir from The Cheesecake Factory in my purse.  I apparently stole borrowed one of their napkins.  Guess I should probably take that back to them, and it would probably be rude to not eat a piece of cheesecake while I'm there.  It might even be considered unsouthern, and I can't have that!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Our Oddly Traditional Thanksgiving

For as long as I can remember it has been my family's tradition to gather the Saturday before Thanksgiving and cut firewood.

This year, since there was a great possibility of rain on that day, we decided to gather a weekend earlier. When the predicted rain didn't come we gathered again on the traditional weekend.  And since 6 days does not seem to be a sufficient amount of time to heal, the second weekend we simply added to our fall (and stumble) collection of bruises.

There's always plenty to be done, and everyone participates: men, women, and children.

There's wood to be hauled...

cut...

split...

loaded...

and unloaded.

And although it isn't the traditional Thanksgiving feast we're always happy when lunch time arrives and we can take a short break.


The first weekend it was so cold and windy we went back to the house to eat (we still had cake left from our party the night before, you can read about that here)...



but the next weekend it was back to our oddly traditional lunch in the woods.




We try not to make this a tradition, but the truth is it isn't the first time it's happened (and there's a possibility it won't be the last).


The tree was used to anchor the yellow truck...and then

the yellow truck was used to winch the tractor out...and then

the white truck was used to recharge the battery on the yellow truck when it ran down...and then

the tractor was used to pull the white truck back up the hill until it could regain traction...and then

the tractor was used to lift the yellow truck up so they could straighten the bumper out after it bent from being anchored to the tree.
 


Thanksgiving Day was spent in a more traditional manner.  I did all of my cooking the day before so I could watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with the Girls.  Later we went to my great uncle and great aunt's house for lunch and the opportunity to visit with my family. 

The next day we went to J's house for supper and the opportunity to visit with L's family.

There was no Black Friday shopping for us.  Long lines? Going all night with no sleep?  Are you kidding?  We only do that for Twilight movies!

Monday, December 5, 2011

How Did That Happen?

Coming Soon:


Directions on how to unstick a stuck tractor, click here.

If Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention...Does That Make Desperation The Father Of Creativity? Chocolate Raspberry Rum Cake

...because that's where I found myself the other night, desperately in need of a creative culinary invention. 

I have this great Rum Cake recipe that calls for a yellow cake mix.  Unfortunately a thorough search of my cabinets only produced a chocolate cake mix.  However, that search did produce some raspberry rum.  So after a few moments of ponderment (that's a real word, I googled it!) I decided to adjust my Rum Cake recipe that calls for a golden yellow cake mix and plain rum to a Chocolate Raspberry Rum Cake by using a chocolate fudge cake mix, raspberry rum, and raspberry extract.

My logic was this: it's chocolate cake and RUM.  Who isn't going to eat that?!?!

Remember that apple tree in my grandparents yard that I mentioned in a previous post?  Well they also have a pecan tree that produces some pretty great tasting pecans.

And since responsible adults do not give alcohol to minors, and the uncooked batter had raw rum in it, and I'm a responsible adult, and the Girls are minors...

I licked the beaters,

and the spoon,

and the bowl.






Rum Cake/ Chocolate Raspberry Rum Cake

Cake:
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 box golden yellow cake mix/ 1 box chocolate fudge cake mix
4 large eggs
1/2 cup oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup rum/ 1/2 cup raspberry rum
2 tsp raspberry extract

Sauce:
1 stick of butter (not margarine)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup rum/ 1/4 cup raspberry rum
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp raspberry extract (to be added after the sauce has been removed from the heat)

Sprinkle nuts in a greased bundt pan.  Beat remaining cake ingredients together for 6 minutes on medium speed.  Pour cake batter into pan and bake at 325 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until done.  Allow the cake to cool  while making the sauce.  Mix butter, sugar, rum, and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Boil slowly 2-4 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove sauce from heat, if you're making the raspberry version add the extract at this time, and pour evenly over the cake while it's still in the bundt pan.  Allow the cake to sit for 20-30 minutes while the sauce is absorbed.  Invert onto cake plate and serve when ready.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Can I Call You Coco?

Yesterday I ordered the new iPhone, as an iPhone addict I was only able to resist for so long.  I received an email telling me the order would be shipped in 3-5 days, and since I refused to pay an additional shipping charge for next day delivery, I expected to see my new toy investment no sooner than next week.  So imagine my surprise and excitement when it was delivered today

The thing I have been most looking forward to is developing a relationship with "Siri".  I just knew we were going to be great friends because after all that's what I bought her for.  But it would appear our friendship is off to a little bit of a rocky start......

I tried to talk to her.....she wouldn't answer me.
(apparently you have to turn Siri on)
I asked her about the weather.....she told me she couldn't find my location.
(apparently you have to turn Siri's Location Services on)
She told me her name was Siri.....I had to tell her my name was Amanda
(another thing that has to be turned on)
I asked her to look up my husband's phone number.....she asked me to identify my husband.
(but she did agree to remember him in the future)
I asked her to define chickpea.....she told me it was a North American titmouse.
(a garbanzo bean...a bird, close enough)

Now I'm not really sure how Siri came to be called Siri but I'm not fond of the name.  It reminds me too much of Tom and Katie's daughter's name, Suri.  So I decided to rename her.  Since this phone is supported by the iOS 5 operating system I decided to call her Coco after Coco Chanel.  You made the connection right?  Chanel No.5, iOS 5?  So I declared "Siri" to now be known as "Coco".

I asked her if I could rename her Coco.....she told she did not understand.
(Coco can be difficult)
I asked her if her name could be Coco instead of Siri.....she refused.
(with a little bit of attitude)

For now Coco resist my attempts to rename her and I refuse to quit trying.  So.....

I'd like to introduce you to Coco, my new frienemy.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Greeting The Breaking Dawn: Part I

....the first half

Last Thursday when the alarm went off at 5:09 a.m. everyone at my house knew it would be almost 24 hours before we would be in our beds again.  As I mentioned before our family is a bunch of twi-hards, and Twilight Saga events have become a full family affair, you can read about that here

The night before we did all the necessary planning, because you know how I love a plan!  Our group consisted of seven people.  L, myself, GG, NG, L's niece J, J's friend A.D., and my cousin's wife K, and the plan went like this....

L and I would come home after work, pick up the girls, and drive right back to town.  I had a prior obligation for that evening and wasn't going to be free until after 8 pm.  So J agreed to pick up the Girls and take them to the theatre with her.  They would meet up with A.D. and get in line.  L would stay with me and we would meet up with them as soon as I was finished.  K planned on joining us all at the theatre a little later.


Shortly after 8 pm L and I were on our way, about 5 minutes before we got there GG called to tell us they had already been seated and to come straight into the theatre.  So when we arrived L and I went right to the front and declared ourselves to be "Theatre 1", the gentleman ripped our tickets in half and directed us in.  K joined us about 20 minutes later.  Now with our group complete there was nothing to do but amuse ourselves for the next 3 1/2 hours.

I bet you're wondering what someone might do to pass several hours in a rapidly filling movie theatre while waiting on the much anticipated midnight movie.  Well here are some of the events that passed the time:
  • Played games on our iPhones.
  • J and A.D. made a trip to the concession stand.
  • J yanked a large bag of Reese's Pieces in half and scattered them all over her lap.
  • A.D., GG, NG, and I frantically gathered Reese's Pieces while J sat very still so as not to knock any more into the floor.
  • Dug through my purse in search of a Ziploc baggie to house the remaining Reese's Pieces.
  • Took pictures.
  • A.D. and I took turns looking for a familiar face every time we heard someone call our name. 
  • Chatted amongst ourselves.
  • Chatted with other people who were in the same theatre. (some we knew, some we didn't)
  • Looked at pictures. (apparently I'm not the only one that never clears off the memory card)
  • Facebooked with other people we knew who were in different theatres. 
  • Facebooked with each other. (Don't judge, sometimes an lol is just better than actually lol'ing)
  • Discussed the joy and happiness of a Coke Icee. (not to be confused with a slush puppy, aka: a slurpy dog)
  • Discovered that K had never experienced the joy and happiness of a Coke Icee. (Apparently they do not have these in Canada.)
  • Took K to the concession stand to purchase the joy and happiness of a Coke Icee.
  • J shared her love and appreciation of the Dave Matthews Band with GG and NG.
  • NG dissed the Dave Matthews Band, J retaliated.
  • A.D. discreetly told me who the Dave Matthews Band was. (as I was unaware of their talent and abilities, but was ashamed afraid to admit that fact to J)
  • Checked on L to make sure he wasn't foaming at the mouth from some kind of estrogen induced anaphylactic shock. (He was fine.  He lives in a house full of females, he's built up quite a tolerance)
  • Discussed how A.D. had successfully smuggled a quesadilla into the theatre for supper.
  • And then contemplated what made her choose a quesadilla.  
  • Discussed the movie J. Edgar. (I didn't know who he was either, apparently I live under a rock)
  • L indiscreetly told me who J. Edgar Hoover was, I retaliated. 
  • Took our scheduled 11:30 pm bathroom break 15 minutes early.




Finally it was time!!  The lights began to dim, the theatre as a whole was warned to keep all cell phones/ filming devices put away or risk being removed, and the movie screen lit up.  Just as the Dolby surround sound began it's warm up K let out a war whoop that would have made Chief Sitting Bull proud, and was met with the applause of the theatre!

The movie was great!  I won't give any details, but if you're planning to see it stay through the credits.  There's a small scene at the very end you won't want to miss.

When the movie was over K went home, but the rest of us headed across town to IHOP for a really early breakfast.  Have you ever noticed that there's always one loud rowdy group that really should start winding down but is still drinking caffeine drinks and pumping their systems full of unneeded sugar?!?!  Yep, that was us!!  We were that crazy, over hyper, loud "hope they tip good and leave soon" group of yahoos.  We had a blast!!


At 4:30 am we arrived back home and immediately went to bed.  After grabbing a few hours sleep L went hunting, but the Girls and I lounged around the house all day in our pajamas discussing our night, speculating about the next movie, and planning our next Twilight Saga event.  You'd think we were fans or something!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Veterans Of A Different Kind

Last Friday was Veteran's Day.  Let me start by offering a most sincere and heartfelt thank you to all of the men and women who have ever served our country.  The service of an American soldier requires great sacrifice of themselves and their families, and for that they deserve our unfailing support and appreciation.  I'm a firm believer that if you don't stand behind our soldiers in support of them, then you can stand in front of them while you protest!!



Here's a very young L looking all handsome in his uniform.  In addition to those compass reading skills I mentioned in an earlier post, you can read about that here,  the Air Force also trained L as an aircraft mechanic.  That training has served him well over the years.  He very rarely encounters anything with an engine that he can't fix.


(L's on the rt)

November 11th also happens to be my grandparents anniversary.  This year they celebrated their 61st year of marriage.  No that isn't a typo, they were married on November 11, 1950, my grandfather was 22 and my grandmother 18.  Because of their commitment to the vows they took "for better or for worse" "until death we do part" and due to the blessing of great health for most of those years and still relatively good health for the last few years, together they still remain.




Note: There was a party for their 25th anniversary.  But since I missed it, by two years, I can't write about it.  And yes I know I just dated myself, but I'm still going to make you do the math.


For their 50th Anniversary we partied.  My mother and aunts recreated the dress my grandmother was married in and then made two mini versions of the dress for GG and NG to wear.  They then made each of themselves and me a same but different dress.  (I'd like to say I helped, but remember those skills I've mentioned never having inherited learned? Well sewing is another one of those skills.)  We dressed up the men, ordered cake (no ice cream but we did have mints, nuts, and punch), invited basically everyone my grandparents had any contact with in the past 50 years, and celebrated.


 Eleven years later my grandparents don't party like they used too, so my mother and aunts decided we would just gather at their house with supper.  My mother would bring chicken from KFC (one of my grandparents favorite treats), my aunts would do all of the side dishes, and I was assigned cake and drinks.  Obviously once I was assigned cake the ice cream was implied, who eats cake without ice cream?!?!

I went by Rick's Bakery for the cake.  When I dictated what the cake should say the woman repeated it back to be certain she had heard correctly, after all it's hard to correct typo's when they're written in cake icing.  "Yep, that's right!  Happy 61st Anniversary.  That's with a 6 and a 1." 

We all showed up with our assigned dish to have supper and help them celebrate.  When I arrived I found that my uncle B, unaware that I had been assigned the task, had also picked up a cake and ice cream.  That's alright!  My uncle B is aware of the fact that it isn't a party without cake and it isn't cake without ice cream.  We think alike that way sometimes.


So what can a couple accomplish in 61 years together you might ask?  Well here's their legacy.  They have 3 daughters, 2 sons-in-law, 2 granddaughters, 4 grandsons, 2 great granddaughters, 2 great grandsons, 1 grandson- in law, and 1 granddaughter-in-law.  Over the last 61 years they have raised children, chickens, cows, goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, ducks, and crops (to name a few).  They have built barns, houses, chicken houses,  and fence (to name a few).  They have cut and baled hay, cut and hauled wood, and swathed and combined (to name a few).  Regardless of what the job was if it needed done they did it.  They might not have always been working side by side, but they were always working together and in unison toward the same goals.  That is the accomplishment of a lifetime, together

God has blessed them to still have each other, and He has blessed all of us to still have them both.  God willing we'll do it again next year: same time, same place.  I'll bring the cake (and the ice cream)!