Sunday, November 30, 2008

timing is everything

I juggled dishes, ingredients and family members in order to complete all the cooking for the holiday weekend. I always set an ambitious menu. I never rely on only tried and true recipes. I have to sprinkle in a fair amount of new dishes, just to keep me on my toes and to make the whole endeavor more of an adventure. Luck held out for me and the four new recipes I tried turned out well.

Timing is everything when I take on the task of Thanksgiving weekend meals. I started cooking on Wednesday and wasn't finished until our guests left yesterday. Hubby did help with preparing the Friday night meal as I was at the movies with the kids and the in-laws. Which, by the way, don't bother seeing Four Christmases with Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon. Horrible movie and even their acting skills along with the skills of Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Mary Steenburgen couldn't save it. Oldest daughter gave it two thumbs down.

This week is going to be a busy one, but I have to finish the Christmas gifts for my mom, grandmother and brother. Those genealogy trees are getting done, printed and stuck in the binders I bought two weeks ago.

I'm also going to jot down some story ideas I've had of late. It is better than nothing and if I can't plant my butt in the chair long enough to edit Maddy Blue, I've got to do something. This is getting ridiculous and I'm totally at fault. Liz, thy name is lazy-butt writer.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Avenging Angel is almost here

When I moved to the Mid-south over five years ago, I joined the local RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter. Through them I met a wonderful and talented woman named Kim Smith. Kim and I have journeyed down the writing life path since then. I've sort of stopped to pick daisies alongside the road, but she has been so dedicated and persistent. Her devotion has finally paid off. Kim's debut cozy mystery, Avenging Angel: A Shannon Wallace Mystery" is going to be published by Red Rose Publishing in December.
I remember when Kim gave me the first few pages of this book. I read those words and just knew. She had found her voice. This was the book she was meant to write, it was magic. I can't wait to have the opportunity to buy this e-book format and then in print.
I'm so darn proud of her. She is my inspiration, my B&N coffee buddy, and my friend.
By the time came to bake the pies it was close to 7:30 and I was too tired to start. I did however get a bunch of other things prepared for the next two days. Today I'm hauling the kids to the doctor's office so we can all get flu shots. Then we are coming home so I can cook and they will clean. Just another exciting day in my home!

I don't plan on blogging over the next four days. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

this and that discoveries

As I am blogging today, I obviously survived the trip to Wally-world yesterday. I arrived at 8:50 and was out of there by 9:15. The site to store service area was easy to find and the items we ordered, three rolling duffels for the kids, were in and quickly loaded into my cart. I'm not a fan of this store, but the service was good and pickup was convenient. So, if you need to shop online and want to save yourself the shipping cost, thumbs up to this option of site to store free delivery.

Other things I discovered yesterday.....bread is way more expensive at Wally-world versus Schnucks. Unreal.

Butternut squash is hard to find this time of year, but I'm determined to make the roasted squash soup my neighbor served a few Thanksgivings back. It was yummy. I found one squash at Wally and one at Schnucks.

After I talked with my mom yesterday, she passed along the fact that her father mentioned he wondered if his cousins were still around. These folks would have been the children of his father's brother. So, I looked up my Grandfather's uncle, Ezra Self, and found his tree on A few short clicks later, I had a phone number for my Grandfather's cousin, Marcia Ann. Gave her a call and spoke with her for a good twenty minutes. Hung up and called my Grandfather and passed along her number. He's over 90 and she is in her 80's and they haven't spoken in decades. They were both thrilled. I hope her daughter calls me as she has grave marker rubbings from some of the Selfs buried in Missouri. What a fun and productive good deed to do.

Tang is hard to find. I love to make what I call Friendship Tea out of Tang, lemonade, instant tea and spices. I drink gallons of it in the winter. I found only one small container of Tang yesterday. Bummer. Is Tang going away??

I'm procrastinating on coming up with a plan for Paris. I've looked at the online two and three day self guided tour recommendations and I just can't settle on an approach. Yikes. It is overwhelming because I just keep thinking, what if we never get to go back and I miss seeing something? Yes, quite unreasonable because I know I can't see it all, but that thought keeps lurking in my head and stopping me from making choices on how best to spend those hours we are in Paris. Arghhh.

I'm off to the bookstore today then home this afternoon to start preparing for the big feast. I think I may do some pies tonight as well as start chopping up other ingredients.

Monday, November 24, 2008

a trio of book bits

B&N knows how to suck me into a store and part me from my money. They sent some great coupons last week so while I was out hunting for boots, I ventured in and left with a hardcover and a paperback. I proceeded to read both over the weekend plus finish the paperback I'd started earlier in the week.

Up first....Laurell K. Hamilton is a wonderful writer and storyteller even though I wish she'd infuse some of her stories with more out of the bedroom action. In the latest Merry Gentry novel, "Swallowing Darkness," I'm happy to say that the bedroom takes a back seat to the other developments in the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. Merry is finally preggers with twins, fathered by I think 6 different men....don't ask, this is a fairy tale. Of course she is in danger and all sorts of magical attacks, defenses and happenings occur. My favorite aspect of this book has to be the vision Hamilton creates of the courts and the Sluagh. The details and descriptions of the settings and the way she develops such interesting character personality facets is really amazing. I loved the ending and while it appears that the books could be complete at this point, Hamilton has blogged that more Merry stories are to come. I'm glad as one of my favorite characters returns at the end and I must read more about him.

Next, Charlaine Harris had a mystery series she did in the mid 90's called the Aurora Teagarden books. The basic premise is a small town librarian becomes an amateur sleuth. I found books two and three at our last book sale and then purchased book four at B&N. 'Roe' is out to solve the mystery surrounding "The Julius House." The house's former occupants just vanished almost seven years ago. As the house is her new home, a wedding gift from her hubby, who is quite mysterious in his own right, she wants to learn what happened. These stories could be called 'cozy mysteries' but I think they have a bit more grit to them than some of the cozies I have read. Good easy read for a cold winter's day. Roe is a delight and Harris knows how to plot a book.

Finally, I finished "Carpe Demon" by Julie Kenner. This was the demon hunting soccer mom book I wrote about last week. Well, of course, no soccer is in this book which is a bummer for this soccer mom. Instead the teenage daughter is a cheerleader...what?! All in all, the book was okay. I won't read another one as I just don't care for the whole mommy-lit genre it seems. It was cute, but I finished it more because I started it than because I was entertained. Just not for me.

The finale of HBO's True Blood was good. I was glad they wrapped up the murder mystery in the first half hour and then spent the next half hour setting up season two. My favorite scene had to be when Pam and Eric dropped Jessica off at Bill's. That was too funny. The new season will start in the summer. Alan Ball has said that he would veer from the books at this point, but from this finale, it seems that several plot lines may continue forward. My hope for season two is to see more of Eric. I just have a thing for tall, blonde undead Vikings.

Speaking of undead things, demons, evil fairies and murder....I have to walk into Wal Mart today....if I don't blog tomorrow, you'll know what happened!!

By the way, I bought boots at the Clark's store and also a pair of walking shoes. Merry Christmas to Liz from the hubby for the next few years! Pricey, but my word are they comfortable.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

the Twilight teen movie phenomena

The oldest daughter and I hit the theater by 6:10 for the 6:40 movie. Young girls were already lined up for the 7:20 show, which was sold out.

The best way to describe the movie is 'squeal.' They squealed at the start of the movie. They squealed when Edward came on screen for the first time. They squealed when Edward and Bella looked into each other's eyes. They squealed and then shrieked at the first kiss.

It wasn't the three teens I was with doing the squealing. It was a whole lot of preteens doing the squealing.

The post movie review from the girls I was with: cheesy, Edward had major bad hair, they loved the casting for the other Cullen kids, good scenery, the kid who played Jacob wasn't a good pick, Edward and Bella were way too awkward/stilted with each other either due to bad acting or poor direction.

The adult reaction was pretty much the same although my neighbor added that unless you'd read the books, the movie didn't make sense in parts. She found herself filling in information 'voids' from her knowledge of the stories.

All in all, it was a fun night out with my daughter., but unless you are a hard core fan, save your money until it comes out on DVD and then rent it. Or if you are in need of hearing hormonal young women squeal, shriek and swoon...go see it this weekend.

Friday, November 21, 2008

off to the movies

I've blogged a bit about the whole Twilight book phenomena and how when I was working at the library (and getting paid to do so) I ordered the book and read it before I was even allowed to put it out on the floor. When the system works right, the library would receive books before they were actually allowed to be sold or circulated.

I'm a sucker for vampire novels...pun totally intended. I read Anne Rice when I was in high school and moved on to read any fang driven story I could find. I read Twilight and enjoyed the teen angst in the novel. Was it the best vampire story I'd ever read? No. Was it the worst? No. Was it the best written book I'd ever read? No. Did I think the YA girls would love it. YES! It was Romeo and Juliet with a paranormal twist. Forbidden love is one of those universal Joseph Campbell-esque themes.

As I continued to read subsequent Meyer offerings about Edward and Bella, I slowly became disenchanted with her characterizations. I borrowed the last book from a friend and was glad I did. Because it wasn't mine, I didn't pitch it across the room and damage the wall or the book. Some of the themes in the books are disconcerting. Teen marriage and pregnancy should not be glamorized. The age gap and the control issues surrounding the protagonists should give a mature adult pause.

My oldest daughter and I have enjoyed lengthy discussions about the characters in these novels, how they act and react, their emotions and their thoughts. She succinctly stated at one point that Bella needed a spine; she was a total drama-mama.

So, why then would we fork out the $20 to see the movie. Well, she decided she wanted to see it and I decided I would go with her to see it. The opportunity to talk with her about relationships, feelings, emotions, boys etc. is important. More important than my attitude towards the themes in the story's arc. I have no doubt that the books and the movie will be cafeteria fodder for weeks to come. She will want to join in this conversation and needs to be able to speak in an informed fashion about both book and movie.

With that in mind, we are off to see the 6:40 show with two other moms and their daughters.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

the trip to europe

Sort day at the library again, but that isn't what is on my mind.

The weeks are flying by as I try and finish buying what we need for our trip. Hubby and I ordered luggage yesterday. We've never purchased a set before, just used handed down pieces from our parents and a set of fabric pieces I bought at a warehouse sale. We both wanted something more sturdy and on wheels for this trip. Now the trick will be packing. I want to pack fairly light as we will have access to a washer/dryer at my brother's house. My idea of light and the hubby's are usually two very different things. Then add the kids into the mix, well let's just say I hope to have the suitcases packed well before we leave!

I do hope to blog from over there. I know I will have access at my brother's, but not sure on free computers while in Paris and Fussen. I don't mind paying a bit, but we are trying ot stay on budget during this trip. So, posts might be more of a bulk nature instead of a daily diary.

I'm still on the hunt for boots. The pair I ordered from Lands End didn't fit the way I wanted the to. My left foot is a bit longer than my right. If I move up a size, they would be too wide. Bummer. They were nice looking boots.

Procurement day went well. The pantry is full again and I should finish up today at Schnucks after I'm finished at the library.

Got a good coupon in the mail from Barnes and Noble...I may have to check out what I can use it for online. I love giving books for Christmas and each year I give my children a new holiday themed book. We have quite the collection....three books times nine a few I've picked up just because they looked cute and were on sale.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

mid week procurement day

Well, I managed to get my 'to do' list finished yesterday except for dusting and moving the store stats into the excel sheet. I got sucked into and didn't resurface until the oldest arrived home from high school.

And once she arrived, all bets were off. You see, she came home and then two of her friends came over so they could work on their honors geometry together. Uh huh. More gabbing went on about boys than about congruent shapes.

Today is procurement day. Yep, I'm off to the big three: Aldi's, Costco and Schnucks.

I even managed to read a few pages in the Carpe Demon book. It isn't doing it for me...I want to love it and I'm just plowing through. Maybe the premise of the mommy demon hunter just isn't enough of a 'stretch' to be entertaining!! Hits too close to home and as I read to be taken away from my reality....well, it feels like I'm reading a diary:) Although my demons don't have bad breath and they aren't trying to destroy the world.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

randomness run amok

Of late my life has lacked cohesion. I've been running from one random task to another and unfortunately it is going to continue today. I'm going through daily routine withdrawal. I can feel it in my bones.

In no certain order, I must get the following done today.....

Clean bathrooms
Make new bookstore gift certificates (done by 10:06)
Work on my genealogy project
Do a load of dark laundry (done by 10:06)
Make dinner
Get the girls to their scrimmages ( they may be playing each other, oh my, not good at all )
Get bookstore stats transferred into my excel spreadsheets
Contact the White House Historical Society about why I haven't heard from them on our Garden books (done by 10:06_

I know I'm forgetting something and no, it isn't my writing. I haven't written in the Maddy, Lani or even the untitled twin sisters story in so long I'm not sure I could anymore!!

Like my grandma says...."I've been runnin' around like a chicken with its head off." She'd know about such things as she grew up on a Missouri farm back in the day.

Monday, November 17, 2008

training day

I will be training new bookstore volunteers today. I believe three ladies will show up as two canceled late last week. I don't like to train more than five at a time, the smaller the class the more time they each have with the cash register.

Doing the laundry was the main focus for yesterday. When I have a busy Monday, I have to get ahead on Sunday and I managed to accomplish that.

I've started reading a new book....Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner. The blurb on the cover says the book is about a demon hunting soccer mom. Tickled my funny bone to read that and I commented to one of the volunteers in the store when I found it, that the book was about me! Not that I've been hunting demons of late, but I have done so in the past:) I have the soccer mom thing down pat.

This afternoon it is back to my genealogy work. My uncle emailed me today with a copy of a WWI draft registration card for one of my great grandfathers. I hadn't stumbled on that gem in my research, so it was a nice addition to my online collection of govt. forms.

I also need to run the vacuum today. The dog hair-fur balls are threatening to take over the house. The change in weather has really ramped up Duke's pound hound is putting on his winter coat.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

a rare beast

I don't usually post on Saturday, but I'm up way too early for the weekend and the newspaper isn't at the end of the driveway yet.

So, a rare beast it is.

Kristi...the werewolf book is by Karen McInerny and is called "Howling at the Moon." It is set in Austin, TX. and is the humorous tale of Sophie Garou, a young woman who is an auditor as well as a half breed werewolf. When her gypsy-witch mama ends up in the slammer on a possible murder rap, Sophie sets out to prove her innocence. Of course all sorts of complications ensue including the arrival of a hunky full blood werewolf who sets her heart racing even though she's in a relationship with a very hot very human attorney. This was a very fun read and I'll probably look for the next book in the series when I'm at B&N again with Miss Kim.

When I was shopping yesterday I realized that Turkey Day is swiftly approaching and I'm not ready. Hubby's mom, sister and her family are set to arrive so I need to meal plan for several days and make sure that I'm not in the kitchen the entire time. Although, at times that is the best place to be! I sketched out a menu and need to make the grocery list so I can make one trip with those meals in mind.

I did pick up a few more things for our trip yesterday including a nice pair of black cords, a new black belt and assorted cold weather undergarments. Watch, Europe will have a warm spell and we won't see a flake of snow!

Off to check on driveway. The dog is sitting at attention by the front door. Maybe he heard the paper arrive.

Friday, November 14, 2008

comfort zone

I can be such a creature of habit. My husband says he can tell time by my morning routine. I remember when I was in banking how our security officer would lecture management on the importance of driving to/from work via different routes and arriving/departing at different times. I tried to follow his advice, I truly did! But more often than not, the car and I were on autopilot. I have some major comfort zones in my life.

Last night my oldest had her soccer banquet. She can be such a confident and collected girl, but for some reason she has struggled with keeping her head up on this team. There is a visible difference in how she carries herself when she takes the field for practice or a game now that her competitive league season has started. She looks more relaxed and more at ease. But at last night's event, she slipped back into that more timid girl. We talked about it after we got home.

It boils down to confidence and comfort zones. I don't think she felt like she deserved to be on the high school team. And then once she made the team, she never felt like she fit in with the other players.

The thing is, she realizes all of this. She is a very mature young lady and she has already decided to work on making her comfort zone larger.

If I can encourage in her that life skill, one that I often struggle with, I will be happy and she will be better off for it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


After I got home from taking Abbey to her orthodontist appointment and delivering her to school, I made a cup of tea and fired up the laptop. I managed to finish inputting all the genealogy information I had culled last spring. Now comes the fun part...putting together the binders. You see, I'm giving this information to my mom, brother and maternal grandmother for Christmas. So the next few weeks will be spent printing, sorting, plastic sleeving and binding.

I still have hopes of finiding a Revolutionary War vet in those branches, but haven't discovered anything so far. I need to keep digging. The problem is when I begin to work on this project, three or four hours whiz by and then the day is gone. It consumes me.

But first, I'm off to the library for sorting day. Then I'm debating about going to Starbucks with the crew. I seem to get cornered when I go there and a session of Q&A ensues. Not sure if I'm up to that today....the whole laptop fiasco is starting to wear thin.

Gray skies all around us today. I'd give a major whoop if the sun decides to break through. Three gray days in a row is more than enough. Makes me feel like I'm back in the Hoosier State when we'd have three months of gray skies and I'd slowly start to lose my marbles!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

chatter and the big squeeze

Went with the hubby to the board appreciation shindig last night at our town hall. Glad I did. It is always a good thing to listen to what people are saying and watch who is talking/mingling.

What I did hear was that the budget will be tight this next year, just like in so many households around the country. Sales tax revenue is down. Building permits are down. The list goes on and on. As a result, town spending will be slimmed to meet the smaller revenue stream.

Of course I've known the Library has been asked to turn in a possible budget cut list. Interesting to me that in a time when library usage may increase, library services and staff could be squeezed.

So, keep using your public library....stats don't lie and they will insure that the appropriate piece of the pie is served.

Of course I'm involved with an amazing Friends of the Library group who make the money to provide the icing on the cake for our library. We may be asked for more in the years ahead.

I had a ball yesterday in the store. Lots of little readers as school was out for Veteran's Day. It is always fun to see what folks buy. I sold a Madeline 'big' book...I have two of them at home. Ones I purchased for my girls when they were very small. We were, and in some ways still are, all about the little girl in Paris who did everything in two straight lines! One of my girls even has a Madeline tee shirt she purchased at Delia's!

I also found a book to read....about an urban werewolf in Austin, Tx. So far, it is quite humorous. I managed to pick up the Stephanie Plum books 2-6 plus one of the 'between the numbers' titles to ship over to my Mom. She is still recuperating from her leg/ankle break.

It was a good, informative and full day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

international relations

Took the kids yesterday to Old Navy and stocked up on a few items for the trip. My brother has repeatedly warned me about how to dress while in Europe. No sweatshirts with tennis jeans for adults...on and on and on. I think he believes we are going to get off the plane sporting Cubs ball caps, Chicago Bears sweatshirts, acid washed jeans and white Nikes yelling, "Hey ya'll, watch this!"

I wouldn't wear that here at home...why would I dress like that overseas?? My favorite colors are black and chocolate brown.

But, I am on the hunt for a good pair of walking boots that are somewhat slushy weather proof. I came close to ordering a pair from LL Bean and have tried on a pair over at the mall, but I haven't found the 'ones' yet. I'm the only one left who needs footwear. All other feet in the house are equipped.

Hard to believe we are coming up on T minus 30 days and counting.

Monday, November 10, 2008


The kids are off today and tomorrow in honor of Veteran's was nice that yesterday before Fr. P started his homily that he explained Armistice Day and the meaning behind it. So many people are unaware of history...and as a result we seem to keep repeating it!

So, in honor of the holiday, the kids are required to help me clean the house. I've already finished the downstairs bathrooms and Julia is dusting. Matt has been working upstairs, which will need an evaluation at some point. He tends to not do a very thorough job, but he is learning. No gender bias in this house!

Today's music lesson was called off due to a new baby arriving on the scene. Our teacher's daughter in law just had baby boy number two. She sounded elated, tired and frazzled all in one.

Better get back to supervising the work force!

Friday, November 7, 2008

something fun

My oldest jumped on the bed last night after she got cleaned up from keeper practice and started to tell me about a couple of her friends. I guess they both think that I am the coolest mom and they just can't talk to their moms like she talks to me.

Now, I guess that means that she is relaying some of the conversations we've had. Or it means that in talking about her home life, these girls have an impression of our relationship.

I've never thought of myself as a cool mom or that my daughter's friends would think that. I don't dress cool...I'm pretty well stuck in the cable sweater and penny loafer mode. I don't have any uber cool hobbies, beyond reading which is of course the coolest.

I do like to watch some of the same shows as she does. What is not to love about the guilty pleasure that is Gossip Girl?

Maybe it all comes down to communication. My daughter and I talk...a lot. Nothing is forbidden. I ask and she spills. She asks and I offer my ideas or opinions. Not that the level of communication hasn't evolved, because it has. There are times, I'm sure, when she thinks I am the most uncool mom on the planet.

But, for her to tell me that revealed a pride she has in me, which is something fun for today.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

up next

Stayed up way too late on Election Day to see the results coming in for our local race. Glad to say the mayoral candidate hubby and I supported won on the first vote...we could of had a runoff as three men were on the ballot.

I have to say, watching Obama's speech in Grant Park was spine tingling. I love Chicago, perhaps because that is the big city I was raised around and spent many weekends over the years visiting. Just neat to see the Windy City getting positive national attention on such a huge scale.

Lots of library stuff this week. I haven't been doing a very good job of balancing all the library, bookstore and home work.

No writing and in fact, no reading this week either. Hard to believe it is Thursday already!

Monday, November 3, 2008

monday monday

The count down is officially on for the big trip to Europe. The hubby actually beat me to the list making and yesterday he and our youngest hit the stores to purchase a few necessities for the trip and a few things that were definitely not necessary. That is the danger of letting a man loose at any store...they always come home with more than what was on the list. I never let him go to the grocery store, the budget would be blown for months.

I'm still not finished with the Strongbow saga books, hence no review on that trilogy. I think I have less than 50 pages to go. I really should try and knock that out today. Maybe after I get home from stocking the bookstore. I stopped in there yesterday after I dropped the oldest off at the game she was assigned to referee. Our stocking closet is in a meeting room and it was occupied, so no way to fill the store shelves. I did manage to get quite a bit of 'housekeeping' things done, which will make my job this week much easier.

I also picked up a book called "The Aviary Gate" by Katie Hickman. So far so is a historical novel set in 1599 and the present. Lauren Willig employs this time jump tool in her books also.

Busy week ahead with two soccer games, three practices, three meetings and then all the usual stuff.