Monday, November 30, 2009

Yea, don't hate me because I have fluffy hair!

OK, look! I rarely have a picture of me taken that doesn't make me cringe and want to hit the little "delete" button on my keyboard...


My very sweet hair-dresser lady (is that what they even call them any more?) gave me a hair tip.

Mainly because I don't have much.

And what I have left has been falling out.

And because my hair usually looks like this. And since this is a full-service blog I want anyone with flat, limp, thin hair to know this great trick.

Cuz I'm all about beautifying America one head at a time.

AND if you are one of those people like me with flat, limp, thin hair you know that it never holds the fluffy! BUT this actually stayed looking good for several hours! wash your hair and put your styling stuff in there and blow it dry and style it like usual.

THEN you spray it with hairspray kind of lightly and break up the hairspray with your fingers.

THEN you put velcro rollers in your totally dry hair and let them sit in there for 30 minutes or so.

THEN you take them out and stand in shock and awe that it actually looks like you have a full head of hair.

Voila! See? Now if she would just come up with a trick to make my six eyelashes look fuller.

I guess I'm just one of those women that is never happy.

Although I was happy with my fluffy hair AND that giant spoonful of stuffing that is heading toward my lips!

But my eyelashes definitely need help!


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Please write your congressman...

...or somebody like that.

Somebody important that can make big decisions that change how America works.

Because I can single-handedly decrease the epidemic rate of divorce in our country with a brilliant, simple pre-wedding test.

And I figure if I solve the problem of divorce and unhappy marriages I will also solve the problem of war in the world. Because I think that maybe most wars are started by people who don't get along with their spouse.

Don't roll your eyes. This is probably a true fact.

And if it's not a true fact it darned well should be.

But, somehow I strayed from the point of my blog. Focus, Jenny, Focus!

Oh yea...OK, here's what you do.

You take the potential bride and the potential groom.

You put them in a smallish room with a fake doorway, several fake windows, a little bit of fake landscaping, thirteen tangled up extension cords, a fuse box that explodes every five minutes and instructions to decorate.

Then you lock the door.

Through a small bullet-proof opening you hand in these... Then you set a timer for one hour.

I would probably highly recommend that you have paramedics standing by for each test...but that would be ANOTHER good thing because it would increase paramedic jobs substantially in the vicinity of all pre-wedding testing areas which would DECREASE unemployment.

Am I up for a Nobel Peace Prize here or what?

Now, when you unlock the door at the end of the hour if the couple is snuggled up on the floor singing Christmas carols they can proceed with marriage.

If the couple is bloodied, bruised, sulking or spitting at each other they cannot get a marriage license.




Hey, I told you it was a brilliant idea.

Now please forward a link to this blog to the congressman person or the President or someone like that as soon as you can.

It could change our world into a place of peace and harmony just in time for the holidays!

Gosh. I'm so smart.

Sometimes I even scare myself just a little.

What's that?

Sometimes I scare you just a little too? You're kidding right? Your just jealous because you didn't think of this brilliant idea.

But don't be a hater because...

You can think of the next brilliant idea. OK?


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells

We took our three little Granddaughters to see Junie B. Jones today at the Tempe theatre. And it was so cool.

We had great seats right over the stage.

And Morgan, the three year old, kept laughing at the wrong when it was dead silent in there. But it was funny anyway.

And Riley, the six year old, sat at the edge of her seat, entranced and her eyes were so wide open I think she didn't even blink.

And Julia, the seven year old was leaning so far forward that I kept thinking she would fall off the balcony.

We shared a fine dining meal before we went at Cracker Barrel...and the girls loved it. Although I don't recommend that gift shop area unless they are gagged and blindfolded.

We laughed through the whole performance.

Met the actors afterward.

Had ice cream.

And then rode bikes and swang on the backyard swing until their parents arrived.

And it was a really, really fun day.

Even if I hate that particular rendition of Jingle Bells.

But it was worth it.

But I've never really understood how the batmobile could loose a wheel, though.

Isn't it put on with kryptonite or something?

Or is that another super-hero?

Oh gosh, sadly now there will be no more wobbly gobbly turkeys.

We are moving on to bastardized Christmas pre-school songs!

'Tis the season.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Oh man, it's finally happened

My eye has finally gotten bigger then my stomach. Which is no small feat because my stomach is pretty.... well.... ummm.... protruding.

But I sat down to Thanksgiving dinner yesterday with a heaped up plate AND I only ate a few bites and I was full.

And it happened again this morning when I tried to eat stuffing and pumpkin pie with whipped cream for breakfast.

So what my Mom and Grandma used to tell me finally came true.

To be honest that kind of scares me.

Because they also told me if I swallowed watermelon seeds a watermelon would grow in my stomach. Which might, in part, explain the protruding stomach.

And they told me that swallowed chewing gum can take 100 years to digest. Which could also explain, in part, the protruding stomach.

Thank heavens I heeded their advice as a child about not crossing my eyes because heaven knows they would have definitely stayed that way.

I hope the giant eye syndrome doesn't happen to you. I'm thinking there is still time for you to change your ways!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving on the Farm

It was early morning. It was that tingly cold that makes you put on your warmest slippers and flannel robe. As I headed downstairs I cursed my attraction to century farmhouses. Although we tried mightily to seal old glass windows and run heating vents through almost petrified wood beams, the upstairs was always chilly and even more so in late November with an early cold spell bringing snow and wind to upstate Ohio.

On the way to the kitchen I turned up the thermostat several notches. I turned on the kitchen light and the golden tones of the wooden cabinets and floors glowed. The double window over the kitchen sink reflected a light glittering of snow dusted pink, rose and gold from the first rays of the Eastern sun. The gnarled ancient apple tree branches silhouetted against the pale lavender morning sky cast their charm over me as they always did. The pilot light on my old white enamel stove was out again but I struck a match and the burner glowed warm in the still chilly kitchen. I checked that the oven pilot light was working and turned that on as well. In deference to the early hour I had left my cast iron skillet, biggest roasting pan and a basket of onions out on the counter the night before.

The refrigerator supplied the butter, celery and a fat turkey ready to be stuffed. Very soon chopped onion and celery were simmering away in butter and their savory scents perfumed the kitchen air. This was the smell of every Thanksgiving past in our family. It was the same scent I anticipated each year when my parent rose at dawn to begin the preparation of our childhood feasts. I can remember laying in my cozy bed and smelling Thanksgiving as it drifted through the house. I hoped my children were having those same feelings on this day.

My huge yellow-ware bowl, used only for preparing food in massive quantities, easily held all my bread crumbs, bread cubes and spices - pungent sage and coarse black pepper, the coarse glisten of the kosher salt, the soft, enticing smell of the marjoram. All of the scents combined in that big yellow bowl…ahhh, the fragrance of memories. Soon the onions and celery were tender and the chicken broth warmed and the dressing became moist and aromatic with their addition.

The kitchen had become warm and wonderful and soon the stuffed turkey was in for its long roasting time. The extra stuffing was in its buttered casserole with a scoop saved out inside my little pink stoneware bowl. Now it was time to make some coffee and then to start the dinner roll dough rising, time to make the pie crust dough so it could chill for several hours, time to start chopping vegetables…

But first… a fresh cup of coffee and cream and a small pink bowl filled with stuffing needed to be eaten in front of the big windows overlooking the apple trees and the rosy morning glow of the sky. The house was quiet, the wooly throw was warm on my lap, my children were safely asleep upstairs.

Later the house would fill with relatives and laughter and teasing and conversation. Pies, mashed potatoes, the magnificent turkey, the flavorful stuffing, the yeasty warm dinner rolls, and the homemade jellies glistening like jewels would fill the table.

But for now, my coffee was perfect, the stuffing was savory, memories of all the Thanksgivings that had come before warmed my mind and this moment and this magic was my Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Consider this your full-service information blog...

...and since it is I have a piece of serious advice for all of you.

And that is... not buy a book to read to kindergardeners unless you have your reading glasses along.

On Monday I ran into Barnes and Noble on the way to the airport to grab a book to read to our middle Granddaughters kindergarden glass. We were going to her school to make turkey cupcakes with the little kids (chocolate cupcakes decorated to look like turkeys - not cupcakes made of ground up turkey meat - ewwwww....)

When I did my hurried errand I just saw a colorful cover to a book called "Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving. When I got home I threw it on the counter with all the stuff to for our little cooking class and thought no more of it.

I asked our daughter from Oregon to read over it so she could be ready for the class. She was oddly silent about the book and during dinner I asked her about reading it and she got this odd look on her face and said something like "do you really want me to read that book?" And I said "yes". And she said "don't you think the part about the axe and hacking the turkeys to pieces might disturb the little kids?" and I said "huh?"

So we read the book aloud.

And it started out pretty nicely with a bunch of little kids heading off on a field trip to a turkey farm with the kids all frolicking and giggling with their buddies the turkeys.

But then one little kid spotted an ax and asked what it was for. And then the book turned ominous with this little ditty:

"Tonight," said Mack Nuggett, "These feathery beasts, will be chopped up and roasted for Thanksgiving feasts."

And the little kids freaked out and cried and stole the turkeys and went home to vegetarian meals.

It was definitely a Happy Thanksgiving tale.


So she didn't read it. And I forced her to read another embarrasingly boring Thanksgiving book about thanking nature or some such weirdness.

But it didn't really matter cuz the little kids were all hopped up on chocolate cupcake and frosting by that time and they didn't pay a single bit of attention.

So my advice to you is...take your reading glasses and at least skim the book before you buy it!

Or you might end up with a classroom of hysterical little kids.

Or you might not.

But either way...

I just wanted to share this information with you.


You're welcome!

Happy Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Oh gobble, gobble, gobble

Fat turkey, fat turkey!
Oh gobble, gobble, gobble!
On Thanksgiving day!
How proudly you wobble
How loudly you gobble...

Wait! I've been thinking! I've been to two Thanksgiving programs in the past five days and frankly I think that song writers have been selling out.

Surely there are other words that rhyme with gobble then only wobble.

I mean c'mon.

Let's see. There is... ummmmm... cobble. Yea, cobble. Cobble is a good Thanksgiving word.

And ummm.... there is the word bobble. That one will work, too.






I'm thinking of a new Thanksgiving song right now.


OK, honestly, I just don't think I can put Thanksgiving songwriters out of business by using my creative mind to compose new Thanksgiving songs for little kids to sing.

And in that spirit...

How proudly you wobble
How loudly you gobble!
Oh gobble, gobble, gobble
On Thanksgiving Day!!!!!!!!!!!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees...

...and sometimes the trees just look darn cute standing up in their little M&M and peanut filled cups.

So...I had some wonderful help today making Thanksgiving favors! There was minimal swearing involved with the hot glue gun, mostly because of little three-year old ears being present!

There was a little M&M snacking, mostly from the same three-year old who kept saying "Gamma, this one is sticking out, I eat 'dis one?"

There was some great bonding time with our beautiful daughter visiting from Salem, Oregon!

And look, look, look...aren't they cute? I bet you want to come for Thanksgiving now, don't you?
I bet you see some M&M's that are sticking out and you want to eat them, too?

But don't.

Cuz if you eat too many of the M&M's the trees fall over.

And then not only would you have to ponder the appropriateness of my header but you would have to ponder this...

If a paper tree on a sucker stick falls over in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Deep, deep question.

I hope I haven't made your brain hurt.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

A tale of NO!!!!!

So...last night my husband and I were laying in bed and chatting a bit before we go to sleep like always.

And I started really, really looking at his skin.

And I very, very sweetly said to him "I think tomororw I am going to give you a facial."

After which followed a great and profound silence.

So I repeated myself. "Steve, tomorrow I think I am going to give you a facial."

The silence continued although I did get two very highly raised eyebrows (which could use a few random hairs plucked, by the way)

I found this very rude. And annoying. "What's your problem?" I said, much less sweetly.

To which he replied crankily, "No, you are not giving me a facial."

After which followed a great and profound silence.

He looked at me. I looked at him. I opened my mouth to speak...

"No" he said.

I opened my mouth to speak again...

"NO!" he said.

But being the epitomy of annoying persistence I decided that he still only meant maybe.

I started preparing my arguments and he looked deeply into my eyes and said...

"NO FACIAL. Not tomorrow. Not the next day. NO, NO, NO!"

I think he secretly wanted me to insist.

So what I'm thinking is I will wait until he is watching the football game or something and just bring out the facial stuff and he may not notice.

I'll have to wait on the plucking his eyebrows until he's sound asleep, though!

Hee hee! It's not like I'm trying to do this to him or anything. Sigh.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Somebody's gonna be cuddly and cozy for Thanksgiving! THE WINNER!

Well...I was going to take a picture of the little bowl and the slips of names but the camera battery is dead.

Someone, who shall remain nameless, left the camera on with the flash thing-y up when she downloaded a picture of a hard-hat keychain. It wasn't me I tell ya!

And just because I like to blather on I thought about doing that random select thing they use to pick winners but either I need more coffee or I am loosing brain cells a little too rapidly! So I did the papers slips in the bowl.

Oh, gosh, and how are you all today?


Yea, I'm stalling.

Cuz, I'm happy and I'm sad.

I'm sad because I really wish I could send a ZSQ to everyone that entered. I love how you all described the qualities you admire in a friend.

So I will have to do another ZSQ drawing in a few weeks. I have some extra left over from a show and I am willing to share.

So, did I ask you how you all are today?


You don't have to glare at me.

The winners name starts with the letter "J"!

Followed closely by the letters "en"

So if you are Jen over at "Our Daily Life Times Four" please e-mail me super quick at: If you do it fast enough I can mail this to you this morning which means you will have it on Tuesday! Woo hoo!

Jen said: "The quality that I admire most in a friend is honesty/truth. This to me is the core of all relationships. I have "friends" that did not have this quality, hence why friends is in quotes. My real friends have that quality."

Thanks for playing everyone!

And so you don't feel too sad my friend, Pat, over at Mille Fiori is giving away a gorgeous Christmas teapot. You can link to the giveaway here or there is a picture in my sidebar of her giveaway.

At first I thought about not telling you about it cuz I want it!!!! But then I realized that one of the true qualities I admire in a friend is sharing giveaway chances, too!

Congratulations Jen!

And everybody else keep checking back cuz I will have another ZippyStrippyQuilt giveaway in time for Christmas cuddling!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wow, even after my revelation about the guys on Million Dollar listing... you are again! Hooray! I thought we had parted ways forever.

And since we haven't I want to share what possibly could be one of the worlds most uplifting stories. Ever.

Not to bring up something extremely painful, but you might recall back in September when I lost my precious, precious miniature hardhat in a horrific accident at the Home Depot. If you don't remember (or we didn't know each other wayyyy back then) here's a link to that post you might want to read it over real quick like. I'll be happy to wait right here for you!

Are you back now? Do you need to get a kleenex? I know it is a truly emotional story.

But there is good news.

So dry your pretty little eyes.

My son got me a replacement.

Actually he got me ten replacements.

And although they are not exactly like the original hardhat they are pretty darned close. See? And now I am happy again because I realize that my son does in some small way like me. And respect me. And well, dare I say it, actually kinda/sorta loves me just a little bit.

So much so, in fact, that he had to run these little hardhats down through a promotional company who wanted to sell him 250 of them. He told me he actually thought about it but then the salesperson thankfully offered to send him some samples.

So I have my hard-hat back! And since it's kind of a squishy, foamy hardhat and not like the hard hardhat I had early (geez, that is quite a sentence, isn't it?) I think it might actually be a good thing.

Because I think if I drop my keys into the toilet at Home Depot again they might actually float.

Woo hoo.

I told you this was an uplifting story.

Now aren't you glad you read my blog today?


Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm sorry our relationship has to end like this...

...but I'm sure you will want it to once I tell you a deep, dark secret I am harboring.


OK, here it is.

I only watch Million Dollar Listing on TV to make fun of it. Yes, I know it is an obscure show but still...what kind of a person am I to take such humor in three guys just trying to make a humble living selling modest family homes in places like Malibu Beach, California?

And although I feel a bit better for being honest with you I still am very ashamed of myself ... because .... Heaven help me.... I cannot stop watching it.

I feel better having told you and I hope you don't hate me now for this horrible character flaw.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I feel kind of bad...

Most of you document your trips with wonderful photography so we can all vicariously (and without getting squashed into the middle seat) enjoy your travels right along with you.

And here I went on a giant trip without even telling you about it.

We actually started our journey two days ago.

Although the trip seemed easy the destination was fairly shocking. Our destination was gorgeous in a severe, austere way. We both exchanged surprised glances as we shivered violently. Fortunately we had equipped ourselves in appropriate gear for our trip. This is me, but of course, I cropped my face out of this particular picture. Isn't it amazing how slimming this ski suit is? I want one now, too. Our accomodations, again austere, did little good in keeping out the bone-chilling cold that seeped through every opening and crevice. But we huddled together like two freezing children on the arctic tundra and survived the night.

Oddly when my husband checked the thermostat he said it was SIXTY DEGREES!!!!

What, I stuttered through chattering teeth! No way. Read that thermostat again and put on your glasses this time.

Obviously it was below freezing.

Alas, it was, indeed, 60 freezing cold degrees.

In our house.

Yesterday night when we went to bed.

And even with a flannel nightgown, heavy socks AND my giant ZippyStrippyQuilt I was freezing my tutu off.

For real.

Listen, I know you might think us Arizona people are kind of sissies about the weather, but it just not true.

We can usually handle temps down to about 75 just fine. And then,'s a dry cold, you know?

So it feels like we're visiting the frozen tundra in the middle of an ice storm while lodging in an igloo.

OK, I lied.

We didn't go to the arctic.

We didn't get snowsuits.

We didn't stay in an igloo.

But, by golly, it sure felt like it the last two nights.

You'll have to excuse me now. I need to go find more quilts for the bed and more logs for the fire before the sun sets and the cold becomes really, really dangerous.


PS. Don't forget to enter my giveaway two posts down. The Zippy will help keep you cozy while you struggle with your arctic winter, too.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The first fire of the season... blazing away in the fireplace. Lovely and cozy. I think that here in Arizona we are actually colder then a lot of places in the US right now so we are taking advantage of the chill.

It was a lovely, happy day. Morgan and I worked on getting gourds ready for a Christmas project I'm working on.

I made a ZippyStrippyQuilt which is in the washer. I'll take a picture tomorrow for you. It's for Morgan for Christmas and it has...


Oh, she will be soooo excited. Slug bug! Slug bug! Slug bug!

And of all things there are green slug bugs, too!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway, if you haven't done so!

And I'm off to watch the fire flicker just a bit longer!

G'night. Don't let the slug bugs bite!

Monday, November 16, 2009

In Honor of Alice - A COZY GIVEAWAY

November 17, 2006 the world lost a lovely, lovely soul.

My friend, Alice, was one of the most generous, kind, loving, compassionate, giving and cozy people I have ever known.

Alice and her husband lived in an old restored log home filled with warmth and charm and I like to think that one of the ZippyStrippyQuilts I made for her during her illness helped keep her cozy during the time of her awful treatments.

In honor of Alice and her spirit I want to do a ZippyStrippyQuilt giveaway.

This is a lovely, velvetty, fine-wale corduroy quilt in happy shades of red, blue, black and white. It is approximately 50 inches by 70 inches so it's cozy to tuck around you on a blustery winter day. You can click on the picture to see it in closer detail.
Here are the "rules" of this giveaway:

1. I will choose a winner on Saturday, November 21.
2. Your ZippyStrippyQuilt will ship out on Monday, November 23 priority mail (just in time to cuddle up with over Thanksgiving)
3. Get one chance to win by answering this question in a comment to this giveaway post: What quality do you most admire in a friend.
4. Get another chance to win by telling me you are a follower of my blog in a separate comment.
5. Get a third chance to win by posting about this giveaway on your blog and commenting you have done so.

This quilt comes from a non-smoking home and is double washed in hypo-allergenic detergent.

Thank you for helping me honor Alice's spirit by entering this giveaway.

Oh, and Alice, if you are blogging in Heaven, I miss you.

The rest of this is long. But I am posting it if you have a lovely cup of coffee and want to go on a little journey.

On winter nights this driveway would be an arch of black branches silhouetted against a velvety midnight-blue sky studded with stars. Snow would drift in glittery beauty across its path and lay in violet shadows stark on the dirt and gravel textures.

In the spring the branches would come alive with tender green buds unfurling to the cloud punctuated sky. The scent of the earth coming alive would perfume the air as you lingered there in the weak and dappled sunshine spattered across the muddy thoroughfare.

In the summer a canopy of greens, luminous and rich in their depth and variety of shades and intensities would soften the hard glare of the sun and offer small consolation to the dusty heat as you sheltered beneath the massive and interwoven branches.

But this was Autumn and in this radiant season the ancient trees showed their bright and glowing colors in a fantasy blaze of intense golden, orange, russet and crimson beauty. The entire ¼ mile length of the driveway was decorated with a confetti of the brilliant, warm colors. Scattered on the ground and drifting through the air the driveway felt like a passage back into another time and place.

The driveway passed through fields still brilliant with green and other fields bristled with the pale golden symmetry of un-harvested cornfields. The rolling hills of croplands stretched far to meet distant horizons painted carefully in the distance in the hazy, muted tones of autumn grandeur. Low gray clouds cast shadows on the rolling hills, deepening the colors and adding a small chill to the sunshiny day. That essence and feeling that is Fall, that indescribable and nostalgic smell of burning leaves and autumn chill stirred our memories of all the seasons that had passed before this one and reminded us of all the beauty waiting in seasons yet to come.

Leaving the kaleidoscope of color in the driveway we entered a large clearing…acres and acres of green, gold, and the rich brown of plowed fields quilted our view as far as our eyes could see. As the clouds flirted with the sun, shadows deepened and intensified…oh, this was a magic place. There was no outside world anymore. There was only this place, this land, this amazing beauty.

And in the middle of all this was a house…a very old, hand-hewn log house. Stone chimneys bracketed each end. A wrap around porch hugged close to the logs on two sides. Corn shocks and baskets of mums decorated the porch posts.

But brighter still on this porch was the smile of my lovely friend.. Alice and I have known each other for a long time. Originally I was friends with her sister-in-law but over time she and I became very close. We had both been members of a wonderful club called “The Queens of King Road” and there are many wonderful stories to share about our little outings but those will have to wait for another time.

Alice and her husband and their daughter and son-in-law had bought this property several years ago and although I had heard stories and seen pictures of it I had never been there. My husband was speechless. I was speechless. My daughter and the boyfriend were speechless. This was an amazing and wonderful place. I knew from earlier letters and e-mails that the house, in a state of decay and neglect, had been taken apart, log by log, and reassembled on a slightly different spot. I knew that the chimneys had been reconstructed and that the porch and bigger windows had been added. I did not know and certainly never imagined the sense of timelessness, peace and beauty that existed on these quiet and beautiful acres.

Every log, every inch of chinking, the careful mortaring of the stones, the thoughtful placement of the windows stated with quiet emphasis the care, love and sweat that had gone into recreating this home. The ancient logs hewn decades earlier had again become warm shelter. Modern adaptations to the structure melded together seamlessly with century old workmanship. This was a house originally built with love and care and now re-built with love and care. It was amazing.

The views from the porches took your breath away. The clouds behaved for a little while and let the low-slanting autumn sun illuminate the log house, the barn and the amazing outbuildings with golden-toned clarity. My friend’s husband dragged my husband off to look at things, my daughter and her boyfriend went along, and I just stood with my friend wrapped in history and memory and warmth. It was a magic moment for me.

We all wandered. Inside the home where many little grandchildren played and visitors lingered in the kitchen to enjoy wonderful desserts and company. We saw all the hard work that had taken place and all the love that had initiated the hard work. Fireplaces, laid with great attention to balance and color dominated several rooms, some with little pieces of millstones or other special treasures saved for generations to come. Windows looked out onto amazing vistas from every room. Vintage bathroom fixtures added ambiance to sometimes overlooked rooms. Everywhere was warmth and care and love and creativeness.

We wandered outside. The outbuildings were amazing. Most original and some covered in clapboard, some with exposed logs, some with amazing stone foundations, some restored, some in the process. Here a pair of faded overalls decorated a clothesline. There a rustic handmade grapevine wreath decorated some faded white paint on a sweet little building. A perfectly level corn crib was particularly intriquing to me. Its strong horizontal lines and obvious craftsmanship transported me instantly to an age when people put their heart into their craft…and this humble farm building had been lovingly constructed. Other charming sights were everywhere – ice skates hung on an outbuilding door, little bright spots of zinnias still valiantly in bloom, some still green grape leaves adorned weathered and gnarled old vines.

The massive barn contained other surprises. An inside rope swing, a pair of old horse drawn buggies in the corner, intact grain chutes and weathervanes and that lofty echoing mustiness you can only find a barn that has stood for decades. Oh, this was a wondrous place to visit and embrace into memory.

My daughter and her boyfriend traveled over the acres on a bright red ATV while my husband and I wandered the farm with our hosts, here admiring the beautiful color of foliage growing by a primitive fence, there exclaiming over the way the small stream bubbled over random stones.

The clouds gathered for a few moments with the feeling that falling temperatures and snow would not be far behind. I remembered that feeling. The end of the Autumn and the start of the winter. I shivered for a moment with the chill and a little sad nostalgia.

Before we left we all went to one of the highest hills above the house and barn. There my friends daughter and her husband were building a new house. The foundation and driveway were present and it was easy to imagine sitting on a big porch and watching sunsets for many years to come. It would be a house to last the years and to, perhaps, grow old in.

We stood at the top of the hill and watched their grandchildren play. We watched the light change as clouds came and went. We stood quietly. It was difficult to find words to explain the place and the feelings… it still is.

Our little trip back down the magical driveway was silent. No radio, no talking, just quiet. As we came back onto the secondary road from the enchantment of the farm my husband said quietly, “I really love this place.” And I just reached over and took his hand. It was an amazing place and I will remember those feelings forever.

Bbbbbbbaby it's cold outside....

...sssssorrryyyy for the sssshivering.... but it got down to 40 something last night.

Total craziness.

But since I used to a girlscout a hundred or so years ago I was prepared.

I finished my ZippyStrippy bedspread just in the nick of time.

In fact, yesterday, I made four trips back and forth to the laundromat to do the wash, dry, wash, dry cycle on this California king-sized quilt!

And it is fabulous. And warm. And cozy. And lovely. I think I might get a rag-quilt making badge for this one. Or at least a snipping fabric badge cuz that was a big ol' clippin' good time getting this one ready.

And in other, totally non-related news DID YOU KNOW THE POST OFFICE HAS THANKSGIVING PARADE STAMPS? Why did my mind jump there from the rag quilt. I fear I may be loosing my mind even further.

Oh wait! Yea, I can make this whole stamp thing into a very natural segue because GIRL SCOUTS HAVE STAMP COLLECTING BADGES!

Yea, I feel better now. That makes sense.



Sunday, November 15, 2009

Be careful you don't catch it... might need to put on one of those little paper mask thing-y's to protect you from this horrifically contagious disease as you read this post.

Because I've got it. And got it bad. It started out with a little tingling on my scalp and then my brain began racing and before you know it I had it!

The dreaded.... SPARKLER BRAIN! I woke up this morning all excited about something I invented in my sleep. You're gonna be impressed. You know how they have all those mini-vegetables now in the produce department? Well, I invented baby celery! And let me tell you, figuring out to make teeny, tiny celery bags made the whole product marketing and development thing difficult. But it was all worth it when Martha had me on her show to tell about the product. And I was one of the nice guests who took baby celery samples for all the guests. Yea, I'm cool like that.

Plus, sometime in the night I woke up thinking about shutting my computer screen down. And how when the screen goes from pretty blue to faded out gray it is really a metaphor for life. But when I tried to take a picture of the screen fading to gray this morning I smashed my glasses into my nose so you'll have to settle for this visual representation of this deep, serious metaphor.
And lastly, just to save this entire post from total unmitigated weirdness (what's that you say? Did you mumble it would take a miracle at this point? Well! humphhhh!!!)

Oh, and as I was conclusion, I would like to share a picture of the Thanksgiving cards I made yesterday. OK, these are super, super cute! And if you click on the picture you can read the funny little verse! Yes, I know this picture is sideways and I have absolutely no idea why it is. It is not sideways in the file but every single time I post it, it goes sideways so you'll have to tip your head...

I'm sorry.

It's a side-effect of sparkler brain.

Being unable to figure out things like sideways pictures.

So...I am off to put a damp towel on my head in hopes of taming this raging case I have.

And you might want to rub your scalp vigorously with some anti-bacterial soap just to be on the safe side.


Friday, November 13, 2009

A recipe for chicken with tomatoes and some other stuff....

...or, in today's lingo...

Pan-roasted free-range chicken with carmelized tomatoes, olives and capers with a tomato herb scented au jus reduction...


That was cool.

I just impressed myself.

First of all I have to say that I used to be an amazing cook. And a fabulous baker. And then I was hit with some ridiculous diet restrictions that made me a) crabby and b) not too inspired to cook.

But then I remembered this recipe that I modified from Martha (yea, she said it was OK and all) and I thought it is tasty even for people without food restrictions and it is healthy and low fat and all that blah, blah, blah so I thought I'd share an actual recipe with you instead of my cheating recipe for just putting almonds in a bowl. (yes, if you read that post I am still ashamed of myself...sigh...)

Now this ain't no Pioneer Woman recipe so be nice to me.

But it is actually really good. And if you can eat regular food like regular people it would be great with some mashed potatoes or rice or a couple of big ol' hunks of french bread.

Here's what you need:
1 pint grape tomatoes or a 16 oz. can of whole tomatoes
16 large black olives such as pitted Kalamata or just the plain, old kind kinds put on their fingers
3 tablespoons of capers (rinsed if you don't like salt-y)
Spray olive-oil (the real recipe calls for 3 T. olive oil but I made it a lot lighter)
2 boneskinless chicken breasts pounded out to about an inch thick and cut in half but I'm not showing a picture of this because raw meat is gaggy
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Yes, that is smokin' hot.

Toss tomatoes, olives, capers, pepper together in a small red bowl. You can probably use any color bowl. I suspect it won't matter. If you don't care about the calories toss these veggies together with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Set aside.
Heat an oven-proof skillet to smokin' hot on the top of the stove. Don't catch your kitchen on fire. That would be a bad thing but if you do it's not my fault cuz I warned you here. If you are doing the spray thing, spray the pan, throw the chicken in and sear one side until it is a purty golden brown (about 4 minutes) If you are using oil use the remaining tablespoon to cook the chicken in.

Flip the chicken over then throw the tomato-caper-olive mixture on top of the chicken.

Pour a tablespoon or so of chicken broth into the pan. If you use the oil, though, don't use the chicken broth.

Put the whole danged thing in the smokin' hot oven.
Roast until cooked through and golden brown - 15 - 18 minutes. Remove chicken to a serving platter.

Crank up the heat under the pan juices and throw about 1/2 teaspoon of thyme in the pan, the tomato juices from the canned tomatoes (if you used them) and a little bit more chicken broth. Boil like crazy until it reduces by about half. Serve over the chicken (or the potatoes if you can eat them)

And voila! It is a real recipe. And it is delicious.

And now you can never say..."Oh, that Jenny Matlock blog. She is hardly worth reading cuz there is never a decent recipe on there."

Well, you can say it if you want but it is a big, fat lie now so I don't really care.

OK, I do care which is why I posted the recipe in the first place.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to train a husband in the art of garage sales...

...and what happens if you do it right!

Teach him right from the start that all garage sale signs contain immense possibilities. That rusted metal is cool. That clutter is really a subjective word. That form is often preferable over function.

If you do these things with serious intent this is what COULD happen.

Your sweet husband could potentially come home after a trip to the lovely coffee shop on the corner (where he remembers that you take a decaf medium, soy, sugar-free milky way latte) and say...

"Quick, get your shoes on! There is a big garage sale up the street and they are selling antiques!"


You could then buy a cool rusted metal object like a big, rusty cultivator wheel to turn into a rose trellis. I'm not promising that this will happen to you...

But it might...if you train him well!

Start training today!

Rusty objects are a horrible thing to waste.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Things that Make a Soldier Great

By Edgar Guest

The things that make a soldier great and send him out to die,
To face the flaming cannon's mouth nor ever question why,
Are lilacs by a little porch, the row of tulips red,
The peonies and pansies, too, the old petunia bed,
The grass plot where his children play, the roses on the wall:
'Tis these that make a soldier great.
He's fighting for them all.

'Tis not the pomp and pride of kings that make a soldier brave;
'Tis not allegiance to the flag that over him may wave;
For soldiers never fight so well on land or on the foam
As when behind the cause they see the little place called home.
Endanger but that humble street whereon his children run,
You make a soldier of the man who never bore a gun.
What is it through the battle smoke the valiant soldier sees?

The little garden far away, the budding apple trees,
The little patch of ground back there, the children at their play,
Perhaps a tiny mound behind the simple church of gray.
The golden thread of courage isn't linked to castle dome
But to the spot, where'er it be — the humblest spot called home.
And now the lilacs bud again and all is lovely there
And homesick soldiers far away know spring is in the air;
The tulips come to bloom again, the grass once more is green,
And every man can see the spot where all his joys have been.

He sees his children smile at him, he hears the bugle call,
And only death can stop him now — he's fighting for them all.

For those that have served...and those that are serving now...thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's Vegetable and Turkey Tuesday!!!

Didn't you get your official blog notification today?


Is this like the time I wore my pajamas to school and it wasn't pajama day? Or the time I thought it was crazy hair day and it wasn't and people laughed at me viciously scarring me permanently for life?

Not that those things ever happened to me. But I just didn't want you to feel bad that you didn't participate in this massive, nationwide Blog post day to honor Vegetables and Turkey.


With no further ado...

OK, you caught me.

Technically there is no Vegetable and Turkey Tuesday.

I just couldn't think of anything to write about.

But I did want to show you all the stuff I picked from my garden on Sunday morning INCLUDING a plethora of eggplant. (Yes, eggplants are a vegetable and yes, I was showing off with the word plethora) And some of my Thanksgiving decorations INCLUDING part of my turkey collection.

And somehow now I just feel cheap and dirty from this tawdry attempt to disguise the fact that I was just feeling totally uninspired to write a blog post tonight.

So I leave you now.

Red in the face.

Ashamed of myself. And deeply, deeply, deeply embarrassed.

All I can say is, please accept my sincere apology.

It will never (or possibly never) happen again.

And please, please, please don't hate me because I'm lazy.


Monday, November 9, 2009

I feel bad for you !

Why, you ask?

Well...let me tell you.

I feel bad because you have never experienced the total toddler immersion of driving our youngest grand-daughter, Morgan, to school to pick up her sisters.

Morgan is three.

She is adorable.

No, I'm not biased. It's true.

She's adorable. Ask my husband. He'll tell you it's true.

So there.

Since you cannot experience the full toddler immersion package (unless you have a very, very loud three year old child around in some capacity) I thought I would bring the experience to you.


Buckle up.

Morgan: Gwamma? I eat candy!
Me: No, no Morgan not right now.
Morgan: Gwamma? Where we is going?
Me: To...
Morgan: ACCCCCKKKKKKKKK!!!!!! Slug-bug! Slug-bug Gwamma! Ha, ha! I beat you! Me: Yes, Morgan, that was a slug bug.
Morgan: Gwamma? I eat candy?
Me: No.... I
Morgan: SCHOOL BUS! SCHOOL BUS! SCHOOL BUS! Me: Mo, you don't have to scream whenever you see a school bus or a slug-bug. Grandma is trying to drive.
Morgan: I sowwy, Gwamma. Dat was an accadent. I berry, berry sorrrr...SLUG-BUG, SLUG-BUG! Me: OK, well no screaming.
Morgan: Gwamma? You need to keep your eyes peeled. Gwamma, look! Look! This is what peeled eyes look like! (scrunching eyes together)
Me: Yea, well that is definitely peeled eyes all ...
Morgan: SLUG-BUG, SLUG-BUG, SLUG-BUG!!!! Me: Morgan, you are making my ears bleed. Please, don't scream when you see a slug-bug.
Morgan: I sowwy, Gwamma. Dat was an accadent. Gwamma. Keep your eye peeled. Like a banana. A banana!!! (uproarious laughter) Gwamma, I .... SCHOOL BUS! SCHOOL BUS! SCHOOL BUS!!!!!!! Me: Morgy, I thought I asked you not to scream.
Morgan: No, Gwamma. You said no scweam slug-bug. Dat was a school... SLUG-BUG, SLUG-BUG!!!!!! OK. Where in the heck is something to blindfold this child with? Yes, she is adorable but she is definitely loud. Like screechingly, ear-poppingly loud.

And I thought we had already hit the highest loud on the scale...but then....then...she saw the Holy Grail of Slug-Bugs! Heavens, it was a green slug-bug! It was parked right beside us at the slowest stop light in history.

The child was practically hyper-ventilating. She was stuttering in her excitement. "SLLLLLUUUU....SLLLLLLLL....GRAMMA....IS GREEN! IS GREEN! IS GREEN SLUGGGGGG...." All I can say is thank heavens it didn't have glitter on it. She would have probably went into cardiac arrest at the age of three.

About two minutes later we finally got to the school.

I was exhausted.

And possibly partially deaf.

But I had to share this with you.

Because after all we are BLUDDY's! And that's what blog buddies do for each other.

It's OK.

You're welcome.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week Six - 12 weeks of Christmas challenge

SHOPPING!!!! Week six is about shopping! Oh man. Oh man. I'm not a big fan of the shopping. Oh, I do it. But lately I mostly order as much as possible on line and don't go out into the winter wonderland that is Phoenix in the winter! But because I am a good sport and because I think Keelie is awfully cool I'm going to do it! TODAY!

To do it there are several steps involved. I mean to actually start Christmas shopping.

Since I am one of those stay-at-home Grandma's with no "real job" the first step always involves my husband.

And today was the day.

We had planned to drive partway to Tucson to meet one of the sons and his girlfriend for lunch at the Cracker Barrel.

So I took along a legal pad and a pen and I told my husband we were gonna talk about Christmas on the way down.

...and, no surprise, I got the "look".

To which he replies, as he does each year, "give everybody 20 bucks and call it a day."

To which I reply every year "no way, be serious."

And then the negotiations start.

I make the list of people. He gasps in terror.

He closely questions many of the people on the list.

"Didn't we give them something for Christmas two years ago?" he says.

"Yes," I reply, "but they are my parents."

"Hmmmm," he sniffs, "well why is she on the list?"

To which I reply "she is our daughter."

And on it goes.

He tells me who to cross off and I make scritching noises with my pen but never actually do it.

And then comes the dreaded question.

"How much money do you want," he asks me. He asks me this every single year.

Now don't get my wrong. My husband is lovely and generous and kind and giving but he still goes into sticker shock. I sometimes think he has not actually bought ANYTHING since 1968 the way he reacts.

"14,305.00" I say.

He looks at me with raised eyebrows.

"11,500,00?" I say.

The eyebrows remain raised.

Hey, a girls gotta try! Right? And he did ask me. I mean, seriously, if you don't want the answer don't ask the question I say.

This continues as the price gets lower and lower.

Seriously, I keep expecting Howie Mandel to jump out and scream "DEAL OR NO DEAL?"

Which would probably scare the be-Jesus out of us and we'd wreck the car and then the whole point of Christmas negotiations would be pretty much over with.

But finally and eventually we get to the part of the conversation where I state the amount I really wanted.

Hee hee!

And now he is not so shocked because I started so high. Although I secretly harbor the fantasy that one year he will just say yes to my first ridiculously high number. As in "sure honey, you can have $14,305.00."

!!!! But that particular fantasy didn't come true this year again.

But he does agree to the real number! Woo hoo!

And can I just tell ya, this is a good trick. Try it sometime.

We conclude our yearly negotations and he tries to weasel his business gifts onto my budget.


Fat chance of that!

But I pretend to write a bunch of stuff down on the list because I know for a fact he will forget this was part of what we discussed.

Hee hee!

And I know for a fact he doesn't read my blog so I am totally safe in sharing all my little Christmas budgetting tips with you.

But now I'm too tired to actually shop.

This hard-core negotation stuff can be pretty tiring.

So I'm going to take a nap.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ooooh, ooooh, ooohhhhh!

I think I have a brilliant idea!

I'm certain I have discovered a unique franchising opportunity and I'm willing to let you in on the ground floor.

I am stuck at home for the afternoon babysitting pizza dough.

It's true.

I am now a dough-sitter!

Late, late last night the phone rang and even though the caller ID didn't say "Mesa Police Department" I still suspected the worse. However, it was only our neighbor, in a tizzy, saying "will you be home tomorrow afternoon? Could you babysit my pizza dough?" to which I replied "huh?" to which she replied "well, it will just explode out of the bowl if it is not punched down about every 15 minutes" to which I replied "ummm...sooooo... umm...sure...I think."

She then went on to explain that since they have a gas-fired pizza oven in their kitchen she had planned to make home-made pizzas to impress her daughter's new boyfriends family with. After she extended the invitation she remembered a previous obligation and was now stuck with making pizzas but she needed help with the dough. And, hey, what are good neighbors for anyway! Right? So, of course, I said yes to watching her "exploding" pizza dough.

Mid-afternoon one of her sons brought over the pizza dough. It was in the largest Tupperware bowl with a lid I have ever seen. The son, very seriously, warned me "you have to keep hitting this dough down or it will explode out of the bowl."

And neither one of them lied.

I cannot leave the bowl for more then 10 minutes, because the lid pops off and the dough explodes everywhere. This is some seriously high-maintenance yeast dough.

My husband wanted to go for a ride in the Jeepster but I told him I couldn't go because I am dough-sitting. I am totally taking my responsibilities quite seriously.

He actually looked kind of annoyed with me. Can you believe that?

I was going to suggest we take the bowl of dough with us but I suspect he wouldn't really like the potential of exploding flour and yeast in his old car.

And more importantly, I'm not sure if the bowl would be even safe. There are no seatbelts or airbags in that old car.

So I am tied to the bowl of dough. Watching it. Punching it down.

This is lovely, lovely dough. So beautiful and smooth and elastic and yummy smelling. And I'm not just saying that because I've become attached to it over the last several hours.

And now I'm thinking since I've been kinda/sorta feeling a bit lost for a few years with the whole empty-nest-depression-my-life-has-no-purpose thing, that perhaps this could be my new direction in life.

Because for the moment I feel like I have a purpose.

So I'm seriously considering starting a dough day care. What do you think?

Too much?

Too weird?

Are you interested in a franchise?

Listen...I can't talk anymore about this right now because the dough is feeling neglected so I gotta run.

But, really, think about it!!!!!