Saturday, August 1, 2009

Seeing Double

Remember when I posted about this pumpkin carriage a week or so ago? Well, my daughter-in-law Jodie decided she really needed to have one, too. But, since she currently lives in Okinawa, and the carriages live at Hobby Lobby until they are "adopted" (i.e, bought), that was going to be difficult for her to accomplish. Never fear, however...I fully understood her need for this carriage (I was obviously just as smitten with it, too!) and took great pleasure in carrying myself on into town to fetch one for her. Come on! You have to admit it's pretty darn awesome, right? Right!
So relax, Jodie. Your carriage awaits you! I love you and can't wait for you to enjoy this in your home!
By the way, does anybody know the "official" date its okay to start decorating for fall? Isn't it something like, I don't know, August 2nd maybe??? (*wink*)

P.S. I'm headed to Florida again for a week. I hope to be able to post, as well as read other blogs, while I'm there, but that depends on the internet service which is not always dependable in that part of the Sunshine state, that which we fondly refer to as "The Fifth Ring of Hell", AKA: Crestview (If you've ever lived in north Okaloosa county, you probably know what I'm talking about) lol.

Friday, July 31, 2009

It's Officially POSITIVE DAY!

Positive Day is the brainchild of Jen's Diva Daughter over at Dust Bunny Hostage. Miss Diva is a wonderfully intelligent young woman who completely reached her limit of negativity in this world (click here for the full story on that) and decided that we all needed to be more positive. Hence, Positive Day was born!Personally, I think this is a brilliant idea. As some of you may know, our family has had a terribly rough year. We suffered the loss of my son-in-law, who was only 26 at the time of his death, and it was, obviously, a severe blow to all of us. Darkness, depression and despair hung over our heads like a heavy blanket after Russell was taken from us. Finally, around the middle of last month, things started to change a little bit. Our family seemed to begin the long road to healing and I saw a glimpse of sunlight somewhere up ahead of us. And I embraced that sunlight like nobody's business! I refuse to let it go now. I am determined to be happy and I'm determined to find the positive, any which way I can. When I read about Miss Diva's "positive concept" being celebrated with this campaign for Positive Thinking, I couldn't help but jump on this particular bandwagon. I hope you all will join us and post about something wonderful and positive in your lives today!

The quote on the above poster is so right! You have to focus on the good things in life - put your energy into cultivating the good instead of nursing along the bad. Since the day that Russell died, every morning when I wake up, I still have those nervous thoughts of, "Lord, will something bad happen today?" but now I make a definite and conscience effort to tell myself, "Life is good. Be happy. Embrace what we have and appreciate it". I can actually feel the weight lifting off my shoulders as I say these things to myself. It has truly given me a whole new appreciation for the Power of Positive Thinking! I love the quote in the picture below:

This next quote has meaning for me, too:

I've wasted far too much time coming up with reasons not to do things. Things like camping with the family. Yeah, something that simple. For years, I've resisted my husband's pleas to go camping. Oh, no sir. Not me. I want air conditioning, cable tv and a nice warm tub when I'm away from home. Then last month I had an epiphany. My need for "luxury" was costing me great memories with my family. So I found that "one reason" why I could go camping: to have some fun with my husband and kids. I was very positive that I wanted to do something all together with them and darn if it didn't turn out to be an absolute blast!

Another change for me is that I'm working very hard to think of "I can" instead of "I can't". I can maintain my weight loss. I can step outside my comfort zone and be happy about it. I can laugh at myself when I do something stupid or goofy (that one's still a little hard for me. lol). And I can go off and do something without it being planned down to the last detail. I'm positive that I can live my life by the "I can" rather than the "I can't" rule.

Not everything can be beautiful and happy. Sometimes, as the old saying goes, a little rain must fall. The trick is to be able to recognize the benefit of the rain. It's not always easy, but with the power of positive thinking, you can find the good in the bad. You can and you should find it. It's what makes those rough times bearable. Of that, I'm positive.
For all of you naysayers out there (and you know who you are!), do yourself a favor...stop with the negative thinking, stop looking for the "catch" in everything and stop spending so much time on the dark aspects of life. Reach for the light, reach for the goodness and reach for that which helps you become more positive. We can do so much more if we look for the answers instead of focusing on the problems. It does take a lot of energy and effort to be positive, that's for sure. But the rewards make it worth it. The ability to look forward to life with joyful anticipation instead of fearful dread all hinges on your willingness and desire to think positive. I want to be part of the positive change in the world. How about you? Together,

Now ya'll do yourselves a favor and write a positive post on your own blog and then head on over to Dust Bunny Hostage to get a load of all the other Positive Thinkers out here in Blogland. Share all this positive good will - let's make a difference in each other's attitudes! I'm positive we can do this!

P.S. Good thing I got all my negative mess out of the way with yesterday's post, eh? LOL

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm Having a Fat, Ugly Week

You ever have one of those days where you just feel fat, frumpy, old and ugly? Well I'm having just such a day. Actually, I think it may turn into just such a week. I really have no idea what the deal is, but everytime I look in the mirror, I just see...yuck. I see my old, wrinkly double chin. I see those ginormous bags under my eyes. I see my "brutalized by gravity" girls that are sitting somewhere due south of where they should be and I see a big, honkin' nose instead of that cute little button thing I've longed for all my life. Most days, I can just sort of squint and move on, but not today. Not yesterday either. And maybe not even tomorrow. This situation was not helped by the conversation I'm going to relate to you below. It occurred last night in the car as we were driving home from meeting my cousin for dinner in Fort Worth. It was just me, my husband Randey and my wonderfully precocious granddaughter Maddy, age 9:

Maddy: Your hair is shorter than the last time I saw you, Granny.

Me: Yeah, I know, but I kind of like it shorter.

Randey: Me, too. I think it looks nice.

Maddy: It does. And I'm glad you don't color your hair anymore. That just wasn't right. It looked like you were trying too hard to look young.

Me: (thinking that over and being left quite speechless)

Randey: What are you talking about? Granny's hair always looked nice. (He's such a great husband, eh?)

Maddy: Well there's no denying it. Granny is old. She's got wrinkles under her eyes. When she smiles, those wrinkles really show up. I was noticing it today when I was looking at the picture we had taken at Christmas.

Randey: Oooooohh, you've done it now. Never insult a woman by talking wrinkles or weight, I'm just sayin'.

Maddy: Uh yeah, Grandpa...and how old are you, by the way?

End of conversation.

So there you have it. I have big, baggy wrinkles under my eyes and my damn jeans were tight yesterday when I tried to put them on. If those aren't the makings of a Fat, Ugly Week...I don't know what is. Now if you'll excuse me, I must go find the yellow pages and look up peddlers of Botox. Apparently, I need me some.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas....

There's a new Christmas Blog in town! It's called Christmas Tree Lane and you can visit it by clicking here. This blog was started by our friend Terri (I say "our" friend because many of you already know her, too!). In her words, this blog is all about "Christmas, recipes, family, food, traditions, crafts, friends, and celebrations!" I'm so excited to see this! We can exchange Christmas craft ideas, Christmas decorating tips, Christmas recipes, etc., etc., etc. What could possibly be better? To commemorate the kick off of this blog, Terri is having a giveaway. Go here to register. Mention I sent you and I get an extra registration (Hey! It's about Christmas! You can do that and show some generosity, right? Of course you can!)

Merry Christmas everyone! May your heart be merry and bright all year 'round!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Our Great Outdoors Experience in Pictures

We are home from our camping trip and what a trip it was! This was the first time we had been camping in forever (over 30 years for me!) although I do vaguely recall us camping once in the early '90s for a night somewhere in Florida. I don't remember much about it except that I didn't enjoy it - at all! This time, however, it was a blast. Here we are setting up camp: I was the official photographer (ha!) so I just set up the little things...I arranged the kitchen tent after Maddy and Randey put it up. And here I am, enjoying the fruits of my (and their) labor:
The campsite, which was Cold Springs Campground inside of Chickasaw National Recreational Area in Sulphur, Oklahoma, was very nice and very well laid out. Every site had a fire pit and grill and a picnic table and a lantern hook plus enough room to put up our two sleeping tents and our food tent with plenty of room to spare.
There's a lot of stuff I'm willing to give up these days in my new quest for Outdoor Adventure (like make-up and a straightening iron), but I'm still fairly attached to the concept of good food. Knowing this about myself, I bought two cookbooks to help learn the art of outdoor cooking. Heaven knows, cooking in a regular kitchen is challenge enough for me so I thought I'd better get some help if I was really going to "rough it".
Both of these books are pretty good, although I think the Foil Cookery book is better. The directions were simple and the ingredients fairly basic. This is what our first dinner at camp looked like:

Baked potatoes, vegetables kabobs and corn-flake chicken. Yum-O! Kaleb, in particular, loved the corn-flake chicken. We made something called Louisiana Chicken (from the Foil Cookery book) the second night that was a huge hit with everyone (except Maddy - she thought it was too spicy). We didn't take pictures that night, though. Too busy eating. lol Here we are, enjoying our first dinner at camp:

See what I mean about giving up the make-up and straightening iron? I know of lot of you kind of shy away from doing that because, well - let's face it - most of us look a lot rougher without the face paint and the hair tools, but I've managed to get my head around that pretty easily. See, last month, when Randey and I took our little vacation, I wore full make-up and fixed my hair on the first day we spent outdoors. The second day...I throttled back on the make-up a bit and just sort of half-way straightened my hair. By the third day, the make-up was done with and the hair developed a life all its own and I was happy to let it. If you just tell yourself that all those strangers you see and who are seeing you don't know you and, therefore, who cares what they think of you, then you're all right with going au naturel' (don't forget that sunblock, though!!). And the people that are with you, your family and friends, they're supposed to love you no matter what you look like so it's okay to be natural in front of them, too. You just have to keep telling yourself all that over and over and before long, it becomes easy-peasy to believe it! lol
And speaking of easy-peasy...can you believe they make coffee pots like these now?
It's like a regular coffee pot but it's made for brewing on a Coleman stove. Don't I wish we had had one of these (plus the Coleman, of course) after Hurricane Ivan when we lived in Florida! Would have made our nine days without power just a little more bearable!
Here's the kids, toasting marshmallows. These guys are not Professional Marshmallow Toasters...and it showed. Oh the marshmallows that were sacrificed for learning purposes! But they had fun and I loved hearing them all laugh together.
Jacob got to do his first thing of Jiffy Pop Popcorn ever. I wasn't even sure they still made that stuff - everyone seems to use microwave popcorn these days. But they do still make it and I bought some for the trip. They were fascinated by it. I think Jake actually just made it to see what the package would do when all the corn started popping and he was pretty proud of himself for the success he had with it. lol
On day two, our first full day at camp, we decided to try a little hiking. Okay, so I decided to try a little hiking and the rest of them decided "why not?" and joined me. This is Jake, Daniel (Kaleb's friend) and Kaleb. Daniel actually started hiking with a cup of coffee (Jake's holding it for him in this picture). Who hikes with coffee?? (Nevermind. I just heart the chorus of "I would" from all you guys out in blogland!) lol
Here's Kaleb, Jake, Maddy and Randey...this is about when they decided that they really didn't enjoy hiking so much (Maddy being the exception...she loves any kind of action like that).
And this little guy settled on a handrail next to me when I was sitting around, waiting for the kids to check out Pavilion Springs, about halfway thru our hike.
Here's Randey upon our return from the hike - making Maddy laugh and the boys writhe in agonizing embarrassment - gosh, whatever would happen if someone saw their father looking so goofy? lol
And here's our first of the tents collapsed. We thought it was operator error (Kaleb and Daniel erected this one).
So off we go to buy another one. This time, Derri (my nephew) and Jake put it up with Maddy's assistance.
When this tent collapsed the next night, we realized it was just a crummy tent design. I knew that for $48 we weren't getting the Taj Mahal of tents, but I think it should have at least lasted more than one night. Randey's returning both of those tents today. If we buy another one, it'll be the brand of tent we used for our other sleeping quarters on this trip - a tent his mother and stepfather had given us. It held up perfectly.
Here's a picture of the scenery at Chickasaw Park. This was right across the road from our campsite.
As was this:

This is Maddy, swimming on our last evening there. She just had to go swimming one more time.
Our little mermaid getting out of the water:
And here's Randey and the boys, breaking camp. Getting all the non-essentials packed away the night before we left because rain was forecast for the next morning. We wanted to be down to the bare minimum, just in case. Good thing, too, because rain it did!
For all of you out there who just don't want to camp because you'll be without the civilized amenities we've all become accustomed to, I urge you to reconsider. Let yourself go and just enjoy the great outdoors! I never knew nature could be so much flippin' fun!! I've learned things about myself that I never would have guessed. Things like...I love hiking, I love eating food cooked 100% outdoors, I love being out in the fresh air - even the hot fresh air - and I love not having to worry about what my outfit looks like or if my hair is straight or if my make-up is holding up. But - just so I won't sound too Utopian about the whole experience - I will also tell you that I learned just exactly how much I love and enjoy a nightly bathing experience, how much I dislike the cacophony of chittering a swarm of locusts make and I heartily dislike having to get up and go to the bathroom 3 times in one night because I drank a pot of coffee after sunset. Especially when said bathroom is about 150 feet away from our tent. Other than that, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and can't wait to do it again.
I think our next outdoor adventure will be just a day trip. Jacob's girlfriend's parents have said she can go with us on one of our adventures as long as it's not overnight. I think we're going to check out Lake Murray in Oklahoma for a day next month. There's fishing for Randey, hiking for me and water fun for the kids. We'll plan a picnic lunch and then stop at a restaurant on the way home for dinner. I'm looking forward to it.
But for now, I'm off to fix my make-up and my hair because Maddy has developed a burning need to visit our local library. She says she's wanting to read about Amelia Earhart. I don't know where this desire came from, but far be it for me to discourage it. Just wish the library was located outdoors somewhere so that I could slap on my sunscreen and a bathing suit and just go. Civilization...boy, the work it causes me! (*smile*)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Finger Lickin' Fifteen: A Book Review

A synopsis:
The next Stephanie Plum novel, in which complications arise, loyalties are tested, cliffhangers are resolved, and donuts are eaten.
Yeah, that's it. That's the synopsis as shown on Barnes and Noble. They usually go into much more detail, but I believe that this time, they gave the book all it merited. That is to say, one lousy line.

This series is fast going downhill. It's become very formulaic: every book, Stephanie will lose a car (most probably thru fire and/or explosion); every book, Stephanie's apartment will suffer some sort of damage (again, most probably thru fire and/or explosion); every book, Stephanie will end up in Ranger's bed and, although usually no actual sex is involved except in the minds of the characters, she still supposedly has hot, lusty and apparently lifelong feelings for Morelli, the other man in her life. This "torn between two lovers" schtick is getting waaaay old. And every book, Stephanie will end up losing a skip she's "this close" to apprehending and she usually loses the skip in some hyped-up, mad-cap, I-love-Lucy kind of way. The only variation from pattern that this book offers is that Ranger is now seeking professional advice from Stephanie, a concept that is so stupid as to be ludicrous. Especially when considering how inept Stephanie is at just about everything while Ranger is supposed to be the ultimate professional, stone cold killer that knows everything about anything. I will probably give Evanovich one more shot and will wait to see was Sixteen brings. If she doesn't step up her game, however, I will be done with this series. It's a shame, too, because the series started out so spectacularly funny and well written. I say read books 1 thru 8 (starting with One for the Money) and enjoy your brains out! They're fabulous. Go ahead and read 9 thru 11, too. They're pretty entertaining as well. You might want to borrow copies of 12, 13 and 14 because you'll regret actually spending money on them yourself and avoid this one, book 15, because reading it will do nothing but (in the words of author herself) cause you to end up rolling your eyes "so far back in your head you'll be watching your own hair grow".
I give this book a 1/2 star out of 5 on the Kari Hayes Scale of Readability (and I'm only being that generous because I figure I should give it something so I won't feel like my eighteen bucks was completely wasted!)