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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 1/6/08 - 1/13/08

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I Specialize in Squares and Rectangles many of you know that I knit? A show of hands...don't be shy.

A few of you -- probably those who received some of my handiwork as Christmas gifts or baby shower gifts, right? What you probably didn't know is that my dear Mom taught me to knit when I was about 10 years old, and I was happily making baby doll blankets and pot holders for a couple years. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out casting on/off, or any other stitches besides the basic I didn't keep the interest much beyond age 12 or so.

"How the @#$%^& do you find the time to knit???? You're keeping up with 2 kids, working part time, blogging like mad, making Whoopie Pies and bad potato dumplings!"

Easy, I ONLY knit when I'm either (a) sitting on my ass in front of the TV in the evenings after the boys go to bed or (b) sitting on my ass in a moving vehicle. I did an entire baby blanket (Faith!) on a round trip on Amtrak between Cary, NC and NYC.

So why the recent resurgence? My church started up a Prayer Shawl Ministry summer 2006 and thanks to mill end 1lb. sacks of yarn at A.C. Moore, I was able to quickly make up about a 1/2 dozen or so simple shawls in the latter half of 2006. Before we knew it, the 10-12 ladies contributing were up to our ears in shawls and ended up slowing down our work. In the meantime, I was working on other projects to train myself on all those techniques that I didn't have the motivation to learn as a teenager. The book "Knitting for Dummies" (again, thanks to my Mom) was great, too! I made up about 10 shawls and simple scarves for friends for Christmas in 2006.

I think 2007 was the year of the baby...I ended up knitting 7 baby afghans in 2007, they've ended up all over the place! Let's see if I can recall: Steve and Heather B., Will and Casey B., Rich and Naomi W., John and Bethany H., Joe and Keri T., David and Dawn H., Paul and Faith T. I have two more in the queue...I hope to start on my next one next week for Baby Girl Courtemanche in St. Louis. I've my pink and purple yarn all ready to go.

What am I working on currently? Well, for the first time, I'm making something for my family. Dave asked if I could make up a simple afghan that would match our couch. Poor Dave, I've been squeezing the afghan in between all these baby blankets and plastic bag crochet projects (see below about the crochet). With this pattern, I've been practicing making cables (i.e., a pattern that looks like twisting rope). Here I am sitting on the couch with the almost-completed afghan. I think I have two more days worth of work. Now, in the lower right you can see a clump of the same pattern...I have two edge panels that will be attached to the final product that will make this pretty big when all's said and done: about 48" x 66". Definitely my largest project ever!

I even started crochet recently -- but that was in enthusiasm of a cool project I learned about back in October. The recycled plastic bag bag:

This is the last one I'll be making for a while...unfortunately, each of these bags takes 100-125 plastic shopping bags from Target or Walmart or Food Lion, but I think it's the ultimate message when it comes to recycling. It was unbelievable how quickly I cleared out my piles and piles of plastic bags and started soliciting friends for theirs. I was able to do 3 of them for this holiday season, and thanks to Maryann G. and Wendy W. for your bag donations. Megan H., Maryann and Lisa C. are the recipients of my first 3, and if I accumulate enough bags to make another one, my sister will get the next one for sure! These 4 ladies are my favorite reusers/recyclers!

This bag was also the first non-blanket/scarf/shawl I'd done. As the title suggested, I'm most comfortable with simple patterns -- I've yet to attempt a sweater, hat or anything fancier. I'm part-way through a sock and lost interest in that quickly. Meanwhile, my Mom is putting together matching sweaters for all 5 of her grandsons once a year! I remember last Christmas she said "I think I'll make some mitten ornaments out of leftover Christmas yarn." One hour later, she had a little pair finished! I'm not that good, but I really enjoy it.

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Last You Tube Video (for now), I promise!

On Thursday night, Dave and Timmy performed in a pre-opening celebration -- for the big donors -- for the new Apex Performing Arts Center. Timmy is the smallest boy performing (white shirt & black pants -- he turns and looks at the audience just before they start dancing), while Dave is in black and white with dark suspenders.

The little lady in the dress with red bodice and plaid skirt stole the show, though. You'll love it!

I offered to take a video of the dance for the group -- it was my only way to get into the event :-) Pardon the shakiness of the video, the camera was held over my head the whole time. Got a great arm workout!

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Since we're featuring Timmy as a baby...

Enjoy! This was from about the same time as the picture from earlier this month.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Don't Whiz on the Electric Car*

*Any Ren and Stimpy fans out there????

Meet our Prius. It was our Christmas present in 2005, although we waited till Jan 1, 2006 to pick it up so that we could take advantage of Toyota's incredible $3500 tax credit in 2006. That was a SWEET tax refund that year. This year won't be so nice.

Anyway, some argued that we were taking a gamble about gas prices choosing to buy a somewhat expensive car that would only be cost effective if gas prices stuck around above about $2.50 per gallon. Judging from the graph, I'd say we're close. The prices have not delved lower than the last line on this graph (courtesy of DOE).

It's sort of a game for Dave and me to try to outdo each other with the Highest Mileage Contest. Day-to-day, Dave is the winner by a long shot. He will turn off all the accessories (including the heat in the winter, A/C in the summer) to maximize his mileage. He's definitely more gentle with the gas pedal than I ever am.

I might actually have the best record on a long drive, averaging 51 mpg on a trip from Raleigh to my Mom's house in Norfolk, VA in May 2006 without the added load of the kids in the backseat. Everything was perfect: the warmer temperatures, the downgrade of the trip, the relatively flat terrain once you're in Emporia, VA.

I get to use the Prius on my trips to South Carolina for drilling, and it's certainly nice to make the entire trip: 6 hours roundtrip, on ONE tank of gas. About $30 right now.

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But No One is Chasing You....

I run.


Several reasons. I guess reason #1 is because the Air Force said I have to.

"But the Air Force said you only have to run 1 1/2 miles for its fitness test. You've run as many as 26.2...why?"

I guess my routine running is 3-4 miles at a time...once upon a time a "light" run was 5 miles, but I've since slacked off. The kids have sapped that extra energy right out from under me. Why? Reason #2: it's good exercise, good for cariovascular health, and it provides a good-all-over sense of accomplishment.

Okay, here's the skinny. I had it in my head that if I maintain this running lifestyle, I'll end up one of these slender-ultra-fit MILF-types. I've been running since age 18 and I haven't gotten there yet. It's been 16 years...I need a new goal.

Running, to me, is fun and relaxing. My training runs are usually pretty laid back, and recently I've been exclusively running when both boys are in school, so I get some peaceful time to myself.

One of my oldest friends (i.e., she's been my friend for the longest, she's not THAT old), Susan, has recently started running and is ON FIRE! In two years time she went from barely surviving a 5K to being entered into the Boston Marathon this April! You go girl! She's been motivating me to keep goal by looking for races to compete in, but I'm afraid I haven't been so good at that. I've run a couple races with her and she's pretty fast!

So there you have it -- I like to run. I wish I had the time to run more, and perhaps when I have a little more control over my life I can get involved in a running club...maybe when I get to Nebraska I can do that. Some guys in my AF Reserve unit are forming an AF Marathon team for this September and I've love to be part of that, but I can't see myself getting the 8-10 hours per week you need dedicate to training this July/August.

Enjoy a few pictures from my running days.

From the 2000 Air Force Marathon. Dave and I completed it in about 4 1/2 hours and it's among the great achievements in our respective lives. That was a lot of fun! Ask me later about crying my eyes out in the middle of a Labor Day 2000 22 mile training run. Yep...lots of fun!

This is Susan and me each taking home trophies at a 5K in Suffolk, VA. It was snowing pretty rigorously during the race, but by the time we completed the awards ceremony, it had all melted and the sun was shining. Susan was the overall female winner, while I took home 1st place in my age group.

Okay, I can't believe I'm telling the public about this one. Photography was prohibited inside of the ranch, but here's some more information about this particular race. Clothing was optional, and Susan, Dave and I elected to run it CLOTHED. Maybe next year we'll be more confident, who knows...Susan was the 4th place female overall (3rd in our age group), while I was the 4th place female in our age group. Dave finished between the two of us.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

One of my favorite pictures...

This is one of my favorite pictures of Timmy. Taken in NY November 2005, so Timmy was about 10 months old. Once upon a time, he had bright blue eyes. They've since darkened to more of a hazel color.

When they were this bright blue, Timmy's eyes were somewhat of a puzzle to Dave and me; we both have brown eyes. But now we're pretty sure they're coming to us from my Dad. Coincidentally, Timmy was named after my Dad, Timothy Fox. Thanks Dad!

Timmy's also the "white boy" of his generation on my side of the family, as evidenced in this picture of my boys and my sister's 3 sons. This portrait was a Christmas gift for my parents this past year. We took the picture on December 16th. Timmy's on the far left.


All Hail the WHOOPIE PIE!

"Whoopie WHAT???"

Whoopie Pie.

A Pa Dutch treat I've been exposed to mainly from when I started seeing Dave. I probably saw and had them when I was younger, but I didn't see them in such volumes until I started going to Lancaster County, PA on an annual basis for Dave's family reunions.

So we get a note sent home from Jake's preschool teachers, suggesting the kids bring in "black and white" colored snacks to share with the class in celebration of "Penguin Week" this week. I assumed all the other Moms would be headed straight for the Oreos and black licorice. As you can see on the picture on the left, a chocolate Whoopie Pie is pretty dark. So that's what I suggested to the masses.

These snacks will be headed into school tomorrow, and between these Whoopie Pies, Oreos, Moon Pies, chocolate/blonde brownies, Penguin gummies, yogurt raisins, etc...these kids are in for one heck of a sugar rush!

Anyway, here's a brief photo essay on my journey into the world of Whoopie Pie creation. It wasn't as easy as I thought -- my kitchen was TRASHED when I was done. These things are sticky and I used up all my sugar and flour in the process, and you should never turn on a mixer onto dry cocoa powder!

First of all, here's the recipe I used. It's just what came up with a Google search on Whoopie Pies, and I didn't have any buttermilk in the house, so I couldn't use the first couple hits that came up.

So I mixed the batter -- which is the consistency of super-thick cake batter. Stringy.

This is spooned onto a parchment-lined (or greased) cookie sheet...I got nervous when the batter started spreading out immediately. But I guess this is what was supposed to happen.

So after 10 minutes in the oven, they puff up into little stuffed brown drink coasters.

Cool them on a rack. Meanwhile, I made the filling and used a frosting piping bag to put the filling in the Whoopie Pie. Top it off, wrap them in plastic!

They aren't quite as moist as what I remember from the native version, but still tasty. The kids will enjoy them -- Timmy couldn't get enough of the "factory seconds" that I let him have.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Chillier Forecast Ahead...

...which means "goodbye" to the grill for a few days. Don't like to grill when it's cold, but tonight's hot dog (for Timmy) and hamburger (for the rest of us) dinner was quick and easy.

My latest addiction: the Pioneer Woman blog, added a bew-tee-full pot roast how-to guide this week. I think I'll be picking up a 2 - 2.5 lb. chuck roast on my next trip to the store. The rest-of-the-work-week wet forecast will be perfect for it.

I owe the world a post or two about my running past ("What did you run past, Patricia?")...and future. My attempt to offset all the food posts.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Puddin' Pleasures and Dave's Blog

The banana pudding was quite delightful, thank you. No, you may not have any...make your own! Just kidding -- come on by and you can help me finish ours. I'm tempted to just grab a spoon and snuggle on the couch with the rest of the dish (which is about 3/4 of it!).

Also, Dave now has his own blog. I'll be interested to see the wide range of topics he'll discuss -- it could be absolutely anything from model trains to home brewing to Scorer Parameters. Maybe I'll embarass him with this picture.

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I'm now an asshat!

Don't ask what an Asshat is -- it's something that's been coined in Model Railroading circles.

Dave's been working on his new Blog, and we thought we could let his ride off a single GMail account but when he started editing "his" profile, mine changed.

Oops. As you can see above, I fixed my profile.

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Hankerin' for Naners

I was straightening out my pantry this morning and came across a semi-old box of Nilla Wafers in the back of the snack section. (Yes, I have sections, but that's for another post). I tasted a couple and they seem okay. Not super-crispy, but definitely not stale.

So I thought of how I could use them up...the first choice, of course, is to put them in the boys' lunch boxes every day between now and next week.

But then...I was reminded of a homestyle southern style restaurant I went to for lunch in Warner-Robins, GA last month.   Called Owens Boarding House, it's an old fashioned soul food joint.  Dessert that day was banana pudding -- the REAL banana pudding, custard-style vanilla pudding, meriangue on top, etc.

So that's what I set out to do. If you rip open the cardboard Nilla Wafers box, the recipe is on the inside of the back panel (I believe it's ALWAYS printed there -- in English AND Spanish). But it's also here if you're interested.

I didn't have enough cookies for the garnish, but I think the meriengue will be pretty enough.

I don't have a double boiler, but I have a great set of stainless mixing bowls that can be popped on top of a pot of boiling water that works just as well.

It's in the oven right now, and so far so good. This might be my first successful cooking blog post!! Whoo hoo!

PS: Tonight's original dessert option was going to be a 7-Layer Jello (courtesy of Paul G.), but I didn't have enough Knox gelatin in the house. You need 1 1/2 boxes (6 packets).

PPS: I know I butchered the name of the light, whipped white layer at the top of the dessert. Merangue? Meriengue? Meringue? Perhaps that last one! Yes, that's the one I'll use.

<--- PPPS: It's done! Isn't it yummy-looking! To bad there isn't scratch-n-sniff blogging here.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Toilet Humor!

So today I decided to open up the house and do some cleaning this afternoon while Timmy napped.

One of my tasks was to clean our downstairs 1/2 bathroom. For those who've heard my complaints, the toilet in our 1/2 bath has had a strange odor that I'm sure is attributed to having to potty train two little boys. I've tried everything -- strong air fresheners, strong chemical cleaners, natural cleaners, and even hit up the stain/odor remover section at Petsmart. Many of those products have covered the odor for a little bit, but after a while the smell would come back.

I've gone so far as to get on my hands and knees and get my nose down to the caulking between the toilet and the floor and see if that was the problem (it wasn't). EEEWWW!

Incidentally, the odor arbitrarily disappeared around complaints here!

My motivation today for hitting the downstairs bathroom was mainly to clean up all the dried soap residue from our sink...the boys tend to get overzealous with the soap. In fact, I've recently switched from liquid to bar soap after noticing the boys using one container of liquid soap in about a week.

So I clean -- the sink, toilet, and floor. Scrub/wipedown with some Mr. Clean solution.

And now the odor is back.

What the hell? Argh!

PS: In the townhouse we rented in Seoul, the bathrooms had a drain in the middle of the floor. I would wipe down everything with Scrubbing Bubbles, then turn on the shower (connected with a hose) and just spray down the whole room: floor to ceiling. That was awesome!

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hi Honey, I'm HOME!

I returned from my drilling a couple hours ago. Dave had a wonderful dinner waiting for me of chicken, rice and green beans with a homemade sauce. He melted a slice of provolone cheese on the chicken, it was a white wine sauce garnished with fresh bacon bits. WOW! He's been doing the cooking for the boys while I drill and lately he's been doing some experimental stuff on the Sunday nights, just before I get home. It's fun to taste his creations!

So I had Dave get a picture of me in my uniform...I realized there have been no pictures of me in my day-to-day uniform since late 2004! This was right after I got home tonight, so I'm looking a little beat!

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