Thursday, October 30, 2008

The day I missed class

I fully admit I was not the star student of Mankato State University's Business School 1991, and I must have missed the day in marketing class when they discussed under which circumstances we would encourage the public to LIE about the use of our product. The fine folks at S.C. Johnson company have done just that in a series of ads for Glade candles. Rather than admit they have a good product, we are encouraged to hide our use of their product and LIE about it.

In one of my recent favorites in this latest series, we see a woman who has apparently found five minutes to herself to soak in her over sized bathtub. She has surrounded herself with Glade candles and -- for reasons unknown to me -- her cell phone. Her friend calls and rather than admit she is taking a quick bath while hubby gets dinner started with the kids, she LIES and says she is at a spa. WHY?! If any friend of mine said she'd managed to get in the bathroom alone with the door locked I would shout, "Hooray! Go, girl!! I'll call you back later!!" This chippy lies and then -- again for reasons unknown to me -- LIES about her candle which her friend can't see and didn't even ask about.

Today, I have seen a holiday commercial featuring this woman. She is burning a Glade holiday candle and lying about her baking ability. Who cares?! Pass the coffee. As she lies, one of the little gingerbread men pipes up, "IT'S GLADE!" and rather than display the proper shock and awe of the phenomena of a talking cookie, she EATS IT. That's right. She eats the talking cookie rather than admit she uses Glade candles.

I don't get it. Honestly, is our culture so obsessed with materialism that our brand of candle matters?

Don't answer that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sewing 101: Phase 2

Well, kids, I've gotten the pattern pinned and cut out. As I was sitting on the floor sticking myself with stick pins, I was hoping it would all come back to me like riding a bicycle. It did not. I've cut two pieces where I should have one and I certainly hope I've got my turkeys all lined up in the right direction. Too late, if not.

I was trying to energize myself for the task by bring back positive memories of sewing. I envisioned my Grandma Malmberg. In my mind she is sitting at her cabinet sewing machine. (Is that what it's called? It was in a cabinet thing. You used your knee to make it go.) Her brow is screwed up and she is swearing . . . as much as a Baptist swears.

I tried envisioning my mother. She is sitting at the dining room table with her table top machine. Her brow is screwed up and she is swearing actual swear words . . . and throwing things.

I don't think this type of project is in my blood.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Where is Nanny?

Oh, right . . . I don't have one.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Colin needs a scarecrow costume for Awana on Wednesday. Do you think the other 4th grade guys are going to go all out in this? I'm just not sure. I was thinking of putting him in a flannel shirt and stuffing a little straw in the pocket. Done.

I wasn't allowed to go trick-or-treating for religious reasons I really and truly understand . . . now as an adult. I didn't so much understand it at the time. I was allowed to have a costume, but I think my mother, a faithful reader, will admit that costumes weren't really her thing when I was small. When I had Colin, I was bound and determined he would have good costumes for this time of the year. Hand made costumes. Thought out costumes. Costumes that reflected my son and his interests.

The first year he was a scarecrow -- in a costume made by my mom, now that I think about it. He had a small crow on his hat. He was also a small cow, the Count from Sesame Street with a cape I hand cut flannel letters for, Tigger, and Linus from Peanuts. My most triumphant costume was a Lego costume made with a box, margarine tubs and a lot of spray paint. Colin hated them all. He did not like costumes. He's not big on pretending. The year he was Linus he put his blanket over his head and would not come out. I gave up. For several years after he agreed to be a ghost with a Peanuts like sheet with eyes cut out. The end.

So, as I said, I'm thinking a pocket full of straw. Baby D will be a puppy . . . in a costume I bought.

By the way, it's snowing. Snowing. SnowING. Cold, Icy. Snowing. I want to be a good sport. I really do. Brrrr.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sewing 101: Phase 1

I had my hair colored today and while Sharon, my beloved hair person and aunt by choice, was waiting for my foils to set, she slipped in Miss Ruby who was having a wash and set. Do you know what this is? Some great-grandma types have their hair washed once a week, rolled in rollers, dried under the dryer, backcombed and sprayed to a shellac like consistency to last until the whole process happens again next week. Anyway, I mentioned that I was thinking of sewing an apron. Oh, sure, says Miss Ruby. You just sew up the skirt and attach a top piece if you want. When I explained I was going to need a pattern, she looked at me as though I were too dull to walk and chew gum at the same time. If I needed a pattern, I should just take a favorite apron lay it on newspaper and cut around with 1/2 inch seem allowance.

I didn't think it wise to mention I was going to need directions on how to thread my machine. I just smiled and said I hadn't thought of it.

Well, I made it as far as the fabric store where I found this pattern. I don't think I bought enough fabric. I may have to leave off the pockets. And I didn't get thread or the do-hickey for the top part, but it's a start.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let's think on this

Brent and I are not huge entertainers. It's not that we don't enjoy doing it, I think we are just shy people who think no one would want to spend that much time with us. We do host a few things, the biggest of which is our Thanksgiving party. I just love Thanksgiving and I get really excited about it. It's all about the food.

So yesterday I got a bee in my bonnet that I should have a spiffy new Thanksgiving apron with turkeys on it or something, and I started to look at them on etsy. There are some great ones, but the manufacturing economy being what it is, my small business owner husband is all jumpy about money this week, so I'm having a hard time justifying a special Thanksgiving-only apron. (Well, who says Thanksgiving is a one day occasion.) At any rate, I started to think, could I sew my own Thanksgiving turkey apron?

Now, my high school home ec teacher was Mrs. Redmond. At the beginning of our sewing class project, which was a square animal pillow, Mrs. Redmond made a very serious announcement that she WOULD NOT, WOULD NOT be doing any one's sewing for them. If she did so, she announced, there would be no way for her to fairly grade our projects. Early on in my sewing Mrs. Redmond (who sometimes spoke of herself in third person) said, "Mrs. Redmond will just do this part for you. You have a difficult fabric." I don't think I did have a difficult fabric. I think I was just that bad and she felt sorry for me.

My parents gave me a sewing machine for college graduation and my mother promptly took it back for her own use. Maybe it's better that way. Maybe I could just pin a picture of a turkey on my apron.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Who's ready to go?

Let's establish first of all, that when it comes to caffeine consistency, I prefer a homemade latte made in my Tassimo. I think we've established I'm all about consistency. That being said, I am missing the daily stops for Caribou (and one Starbucks) made every day on our little trip. I get a feeling when Big Daddy and the boys are together with me enjoying a little coffee. I can't quite put a name on it. Peace, maybe. There's Colin complaining about having to work on Awana verses during coffee time. There's Daniel making friends with the people at the next table. (He's been offered a job at our local Caribou as soon as he can see over the counter.) There's Brent looking for all the world like he's not worrying about work. I tell you what . . . sure maybe we have a little caffeine addiction problem, but if that's all the worse we get, we're probably doing all right.
* DISCLAIMER: That's not a picture of us at Caribou. That's a picture of us at the Children's Theatre with my imaginary apartment in the background, but that is sort of what the boys look like at coffee time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

And another thing . . .

Hey, buy a CD from our friend Tony who is dealing with some health issues right now. Not only is he a good guy, but he's a good musician and I wouldn't recommend it if I didn't think it was worth it. You can also download his music at itunes.

No plan: Epilogue

I am a first born married to a first born. Until Baby D came along we were a happy little band who liked our things just so. This being said, I must say we survived flying by the seat of our pants this Educate Minnesota break very well. Oh, sure we forgot things like pajamas, toothbrushes and the stroller, but they have Target "down south" too. After two trips to the Target in Stillwater on Day 2 of our trip -- and a Caribou fortification -- we set off! We went to an apple farm, a Caribou in an old train depot in Red Wing (That's it up top), visited Lark Toys in beautiful Kellogg, Minnesota, saw Minnesota's only remaining covered bridge, went trick or treating at the Minnesota Zoo and, most excitingly, saw an apartment Brent lived in in Rochester. Will wonders never cease.

Does this mean we will be traveling like this from now on? No. Absolutely not. I have a sisterchick trip with Roberta coming up in a couple of weeks which I have planned down to the minute. I have already purchased a guide book to Boston for next summer even though we haven't really decided we going there. The point was, I can, if I really, really try, be spontaneous . . . if I plan far enough in advance.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

No plan: Day 1

So we didn't leave until noon which sent us from Plan A to Plan B to Plan C. We drove through McDonald's for lunch and Baby D fell asleep in the drive-through and did not eat lunch. Colin ate D's as well, so when Baby D woke up, he kept whining and pointing to the empty bags, not matter what kind of interesting snack I found. After a brief stop at the outlet mall for my winter wardrobe of long sleeve t-shirts in every color, all the further we made it was Rosedale for a quick stop at Sephora (that stop was oddly for Brent) and dinner at Big Bowl. Baby D didn't feel like sitting nicely at Big Bowl and, in the process of chasing him around the booth, both Brent and I managed to spill our ginger ales. Our waiter brought Brent a replacement in a normal glass instead of the large top heavy ones they normally come in. We laughed . . . and left him a huge tip.

So now we are at our hotel in Stillwater. For some reason the smell in here reminds me of the month I lived in my grandmother's basement.

We press on.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Running wild

We are getting ready to go on a little trip over Educate Minnesota Break. (How can anyone be educated if we are on break?) We love to go up the North Shore of Lake Superior, but we thought we'd do something different and go down to the southern part of the state. I have been to Rochester twice in my life and I don't ever think I have been to Red Wing, so this is a big adventure for me. What's an even bigger part of the adventure is that I have nothing planned. No. Really. I don't lie to you, friends and loved ones. I am going to fly by the seat of my pants. Now earlier in the evening when Cyberspace Sarah heard this news she stopped, looked opened jawed at me and said, "You've made hotel reservations, right?" It may be that I have planned my vacations six to nine . . .um . . .okay . . . 12 months in advance. I like to plan. I like to be prepared. I like to know what to expect. This little weekend is a real step in faith for me. I admit I am a little anxious, but I can't wait to tell you how it goes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My public

I have to be honest with you. I know you're there. No, I don't know who you are, but I do have a nifty program that tells me how many of you there are. I haven't looked at for a while because -- well, because I didn't really want to know. I liked the idea that it was just my mother, Cyberspace Sarah, Molly, Audrey and, of course, that sweet little peanut Margaret, who is teaching me pray like a Catholic. I have scars. Pope County Tribune scars. Big, "Good heavens, Mother, the entire county did not have to read the personal details of my life in your column!" scars. You get gun shy about having stories in print. But several of you have spoken to me of late about reading my blog and so I feel a little speech is in order.


If you know me personally, you need to know I am not holding anything back here in my blog unless I think it might hurt someone (PCT scars!!). What you see is pretty much what you get with me, but there may be parts of me you just don't know about. Not because I am deceptive -- au contraire -- Jesus Christ calls me to a life of truth, but like all human beings there may be parts of me I reserve for whatever reason. Well, you're going to read about them here, and you need to keep in mind that what I write, like the great Psalmist David, may be a reflection of how I feel at the moment. It is for my good mental health that I write here, and I am delighted if you get a kick out of it too, but you must take me warts and all.

So there.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The best years?

Chief Babysitter "Andy" had us all in stitches at coffee after church yesterday with his comment, "High school dating is a nightmare!!" His story is not mine to tell but can be best summed up in his own words, "It was JUST pizza!" Suddenly everyone at the table had a story of dating gone wrong come to mind.

Brent moved from Minneapolis to our small town when he was a sophomore. There was a certain bit of culture shock to work through. One weekend he called five girls out for a date. The fifth one was not busy and went out with him. As she left the car she said, "I had a nice time even if I was number five." Without realizing it, he'd called the whole girls' basketball team.

I went out on a first date in college where we drove to the boy's hometown to meet his mother. He bought me clothes and entire pie on that date. It was a bit overwhelming. We didn't go out much after that.

My mother remembered that my dad had to go get his fraternity pin from another girl in order to give it to her. Better the one getting pinned than the one who had to hand it over, I say.

I have no doubt Andy will navigate through these dangerous waters just fine, but I am surely glad it's not me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

For Leigha DVT

I had a request this morning for the recipe I wrote about earlier on my blog from Jeremy J. He was at our house last week and a great time was had by all. I guess I shouldn't speak for him. Brent and I had a great time. Jeremy J is a bit of a foodie, and he brought dessert which was this terrific berry sauce over cheesecake. I haven't made it, but I did eat it and enjoyed it tremendously:

2 pints blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 cup water

In small sauce pan, add the blackberries, sugar, and cornstarch and toss together. Add in the rosemary, lemon juice, and water.Cook on medium low heat for about 15-20 minutes until the fruit breaks down and the liquids thicken. Strain out the solids and cool before serving.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

100 miles shoes

To celebrate 100 miles walked, I bought a new pair of walking shoes on I love this site because it is so easy to use, and free overnight shipping is a rural girl's best friend. On the plus side, the shoes I picked were on clearance. On the minus side, they were so on clearance that there was no free overnight shipping. There was a note on them that basically said, "Because these shoes are so cheap, no overnight delivery for you." That's okay. Due to an onslaught of beautiful allergy laden falling leaves, I've had to move my walk inside to the treadmill anyway.

Outside, I walk down to the lake through the park and around home. On a typical, beautiful day this summer, it was not uncommon for my 40 minute walk to stretch to more like 50 minutes to accommodate all the visiting I had to do. First I would run into my grandmother weeding the gardens in the park. She will be 85 this winter (shhhh), and she cares for two large patches of native prairie flowers planted by someone with a grant and then abandoned. In the winter she presses the flowers and tries to memorize them so she can tell them apart from the native prairie weeds.

Then I would run into Grandpa Larry. I should probably send him a note. He might be worried about me. We see each other every day. Grandpa Larry is not my grandpa, but grandpa to the young boy next to Cyberspace Sarah's house. It's a small town.

Then I might have to grunt at my junior high math teacher or my father-in-law's number one golf partner and by that time Bonnie or some other member of my mother's self declared "Purple Pants Club" would be done at Curve's and be ready for a chat.

So you see . . . that 100 miles was a real victory!

100 miles!

*A big bienvenue to my reader in Paris. I don't know who you are, but I have seen that you are there on my reader tracking map. You've absolutely made my day. Welcome!*

I am celebrating having walked 100 miles today.

As I wrote a few days ago, I've just never considered myself a person who really cared for physical activity. I was always the girl everyone shouted, "Move up!!" whenever I served or batted anything. It was really depressing. I had that short stint with running. Then a few years ago my friend Sylvia, the Hollywood actress, invited me to aerobics class. I really got into it and then added yoga and Pilate's -- which I loved. I ended up teaching Pilate's for a year which was such an exciting accomplishment. My dream was that one of those girls who yelled,"Move up!" would walk into my class. We were going to have some workout that day. It never happened. Anyway, I was sort of buff for a while. I started to think of myself as a tough girl. Grrr.

Then I was pregnant. I did yoga the whole time I was pregnant anticipating what a breeze labor and delivery was going to be in my new tough girl state. It wasn't. Baby D got stuck. I wanted to quit. I felt like a weenie, but D and I did it. We survived. Tough girl. Tough baby.

So now, here I am, just short of this side of 40. My life doesn't really have room for hyped up aerobic woman right now, so I have been walking. Walking and listening to gospel on my XM. Me and CeCe Winans and Kirk Franklin tearing up the streets.

I'm still a tough girl. I've decided it's a state of mind more than an exercise class.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bottomless Pit

My Chief Babysitter (CBS), whom I shall call Andy to protect his identity -- no, shoot. That's his name -- well, "Andy" dropped by a few days ago after school. "Do you need a snack, Andy?" I asked. "Sure," said Andy. I started to reach for a cheese stick. You see my stepson Jeremy and my son Colin are -- shall we say -- selective in their snacking. They'll eat a cheese stick, maybe, and a Triscuit. I asked Andy, "Cheese and crackers or sandwich?" To make a long story shortish, I handed this kid a PB & J on half a loaf of French bread, a banana, cookies and something else I can't recall. I was in heaven. I am a cook. (Please see my Facebook page for tasty recipe from Jeremy J for rosemary/berry sauce.) For 15+ years I have been trying to delight the boys in my life with snack mix, muffins, cupcakes shaped like spiders, hummus, name it. Name it, I have tried. Cheese stick. Triscuit.

Andy, you come over ANY time . . . especially if you're going to babysit.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Home away from home

The boys took me to the Children's Theatre yesterday. We've been quite a bit this year. (Hooray, Madeline. Eh, Peter Pan.) I have my eye on an apartment across the street. It has a courtyard, for Pete's sake. How great it that?

I started to think about it, though. What would I do if I had an apartment in the city? Where I live hundreds of people from the city drive up to their cabin every weekend. If I had an apartment in the city I would have the best of both worlds without the maintenance. No putting in the dock. No mowing. If something in my apartment needed fixing I would call and theoretically someone would come and fix it. (I have lived in apartments. I know the truth.) Perhaps I would take my active youngest across the street for theatre group while I stared at a French Impressionist painting. Maybe I'd sit there and read a book and look out at the courtyard. Maybe I'd make Brent take me to restaurants that didn't serve chicken nuggets. Oh, the possibility!!

I haven't convinced Big Daddy that this is a brilliant idea. He keeps mumbling something about finances. Why must money always get in the way of the fun?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ah, memories

I was reminded of a Cyberspace Sarah story at dinner last night and it just made me laugh. Forgive me if you were one of the two people who heard it last night.

Our dad was the president of the Minnesota Newspaper Association last year which is only a big, fat hairy deal if you happen to publish a newspaper in Minnesota. If you don't -- big whoop. At any rate, with that particular group it is a big deal, and he was in the presidential suite at the top of a large hotel in Minneapolis. Part of his duties as president was to hold receptions in this room, complete with open bar. Now, if you've ever met our father, you know he likes to save when he can, so instead of hiring a bartender, he asked Cyberspace and me if we would like to do it. Well, we thought this was just a hoot and agreed. Our favorite local restaurateur Jill agreed to give us a quick bar tending lesson. We'd be set. Well, the week of the convention Jill went to Hawaii. I mean, who wouldn't in January, but we had not had our lesson. Not ones to panic, we thought to ourselves, "It's probably just wine and beer. How hard could that be?

Now for whatever reason Cyberspace went the day before I did and called in a panic, "It's not just beer and wine. There's a room full of alcohol here!" Now we started to panic. I started memorizing the Boston Bartender's Guide on the way down and Cyberspace looked up how to pour a shot out of those jigger things. We were still nervous. That night we stood in the empty room wondering how we were going to manage. It'll just be beer and wine we kept saying. Our first guest came in and bellied up to the bar, "I'll take CC & 7." I felt the color drain from my face and was just about to say, "What?!" when Cyberspace shouted out "CC & 7, coming right up!!" She was off like a shot, so to speak.

We did serve mostly beer and wine that night and the next. I highly doubt either one of us will look to bar tending as second career, but it was an experience. The party got shut down that first night, so it must have been good.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Someone? Anyone?

Someone please testify that my butter cake is tasty. I am getting a complex. Do you all sit there at birthday time going, "Oh dear heavens, will someone please drive to Elden's. We cannot bear her 'cake' any longer."

Friday, October 3, 2008

For Margaret

Friends and loved ones, my little cyber friend Margaret has made a gooey butter cake and it left her lonely on her birthday of all things. Who will testify that it's worth another shot?

1 pkg plain yellow cake mix
1 stick butter
1 egg

Put this in the Kitchenaid and beat it for 2 minutes until you can make it into a ball. Smoosh it into the bottom of a 9x13. Set aside.

8 oz. cream cheese at room temp
2 eggs
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
(Do I need to remind anyone that imitation vanilla is made from wood pulp?)
1 stick butter, melted
3 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

Put the cream cheese in the Kitchenaid (no need to clean it) and beat it until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla and butter and beat. Add the sugar. Beat. Pour this unto the crust and spread it out.

Bake at 350 until it's "well browned but the center still jiggles when you shake the pan, 45-47 minutes." Cool 30 minutes.

With many apologies to Anne Byrn from her book The Cake Doctor, Workman Publishing 1999.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Baby D: Toddler Ambassador

So Brent takes Baby D and me out to lunch today. We go to this place a lot. It's in the next town, but it's on our side of the next town, if you know what I mean. We are familiar with many of the staff and feel very comfortable going there with the kids. At lunch time the place is mostly people having business-type lunches. Today was no exception. The restaurant was crawling with employees from the local home party industry.

Baby D had spent the morning watching the cement truck pour cement for Grandma's new garage and did not have a nap. He was a little grumpy and every time he let out a little squawk the entire restaurant stopped and turned in unison to see what the problem was. As an older mommy of a younger child, frankly I don't really care about that sort of thing, but at one point Baby D got down and started to make friends with the business-type lady in the booth behind us. She seemed okay with it and I wasn't too worried until he crawled up into the booth and laid down in her lap and closed his eyes. What do you even say as grilled cheese toddler drool goes dripping down onto this young single woman's executive pants? I fished him off with many apologies. She was more than lovely and gracious and thanked D for "making her day," but once again I found myself at the crossroads of wanting to hug him and simultaneously PULL OUT ALL MY HAIR!! What is he going to do next?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Who does?

I see Cyberspace Sarah has added another blog to her list. I've added it down on my list there. It's called "But I don't run" which is just a brilliant name. It's an entire blog devoted to fitness. I'm impressed.

Our grandfather died of heart disease when he wasn't much older than I am now. Huh. Anyway, our dad was always a big fitness nut and tried to get us to be as well. I think Cyberspace probably did a better job impressing him than I did in this department. I think she was on the volleyball team. She skied. I always preferred to be inside reading. I used to say I enjoyed a nice brisk sit.

When I was in college I took up running and decided I was going to run in our town festival's 5K. I hate running. I loathe running. I despise running, but there I was running in circles around my college town. One day I came home from running and decided that was enough. It was just silly for me to run. Unfortunately that day my newspaper came and Dad had devoted his entire editorial to how proud and impressed he was that I was running. Shoot. Well, I did it. I ran that 5K. I came in slightly ahead of a lady who was walking it. She was kind enough to keep me company along the way.

In spite of all this, I now exercise every day. The research on exercise and depression is irrefutable. Do I love it? No, but I do it. But I don't run either.