Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goals for 2009

Inspired by The Happy Housewife, and Steve over at Remedy, I'm compiling my list of goals for 2009. They're really a continuation of the goals I set in 2008 to reach by the time I turn 30 in February 2010. (When the heck did that happen!?)

So here we go, in no particular order, because that's how I roll:

  1. Knit something other than a rectangular object. This means moving on from blankies, scarves, and potholders. I've picked out a pattern to try to accomplish this, and the needles and yarn are anxiously awaiting me to finish the previous project I've been working on (since November 2007...I'm not very speedy).
  2. Get my site created and launched.
  3. Continue operating on a mostly cash only basis, and continue to pay off the debt. (Almost there!)
  4. Get back on track with improving my health and fitness. With burnus interuptus, I've been shying away from the gym until the wound closes (it hasn't yet), and I've been quite lax in my menu planning. My waistline is showing the effects. I have about 7 pairs of really cute (and somewhat expensive) pairs of jeans I don't fit into anymore!
  5. Spend less idle time online, and more time doing things to enrich my life and career.
  6. Go back for my master's.
  7. Take more photos, and improve my skills there. I have almost 5,000 items on Flickr. This doesn't seem like nearly enough.
  8. Set aside one hour a week for just me, where I unplug from everything. This time could be spent reading, meditating, doing yoga, taking a walk, but whatever it is, it will be done without connection to TV, radio, or internet.
  9. Get my house organized. I have a plan. I just need it.
  10. And just because, buy one of these.

I hope that everyone has a safe New Year's Eve, and an even better 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Traditions, Souffle, and Soup

There are a few family traditions that without them, it's just not Christmas.

There's the big, bright pink ornament on the tree that says "Baby's First Christmas 1980" that marks the year I was born, that usually hangs somewhere near a foot long pencil that my mom has been hanging on the tree since she was a little girl. Those two are staples from the Christmas trees of my youth that now hang on my own tree.

Over at Dad's house, there's Betsy's collection of ornaments that she buys one of every year, noting something significant about the year on the bottom in gold paint marker, and the hand beaded ornaments from her grandmother. This year there was an addition of the Christmas ball from Betsy's dad's dad, making it over 100 years old. Such a simple ornament, a bright cobalt blue, solid glass ball, about 4" in diameter.

Not surprisingly, a lot of my Christmas traditions are food.

Grandpa Spong's pizelles are one of them. After he passed away, I asked Gram if I could borrow the pizelle maker so I could continue the tradition. I didn't know where the recipe was, but I'd find one, and make it as close as I could to his.

To my excitement, when I opened up the pizelle maker that year, there was his very simple, and not very well defined recipe. I teared up at his handwriting, and broke out into laughter as I read the ingredient list and came to "anise". You could always tell were Grandpa was in the pizelle making progress based on the amount of anise you tasted when you bit into them. He would make pizelles for weeks before Christmas, always trying to refine the flavor of the anise. There were some that you just couldn't bite into because the anise smell hit your nose long before it even reached your lips. There were some that were burned beyond recognition. There were some that were dusted with powdered sugar.

And then it would happen. About a week before Christmas, he would make the perfect batch. But then, because he wouldn't write down any of the measurements, we'd be back to square one.

We also have the carrot souffle. Dad scored the recipe for this from Chasen's Restaurant in LA probably 15 years ago. Chasen's has long since closed, but the souffle recipe comes out twice a year: Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have the recipe somewhere, I could make it any time I wanted, but no. I wait. It's Dad's thing. We have souffle two times a year, and we savor it. There have been separate batches made, just so we have left over souffle. We like the souffle. We LOVE the souffle.

Last year, we introduced my niece Emma to the souffle, just two days shy of her first birthday. She loved it. She had it everywhere, on the tray of her high tray, on her, in her hair, in her eyebrows. She was IN to the souffle.

We lost power on Sunday, and one of the first things I thought about was how there was leftover Christmas souffle in the fridge. How it was going to waste. How it would be sacrificed. I damn near wept. I went to the fridge, and with hands on the doors, contemplated opening it up and rescuing the souffle, but then thought of everything else that wouldn't fare well if I did.

(The power came back on. The souffle is fine.)

Lastly, there is the garlic mushroom soup. It's not any garlic mushroom soup. It's Sweetie's garlic mushroom soup. The soup.

There is always a traditional Polish Christmas on Christmas Eve on Mom's side of the family. Pierogi, sauerkraut, kasha (barley), various types of herring (ew gross), bread and kielbasa that comes from Hamtramck, amongst a myriad of other things. Traditionally, this meal is called wigilia, and is supposed to be meatless. We cheat with the kielbasa.

But the centerpiece of this meal is always the garlic mushroom soup. You can smell it cooking in all it's mushroomy garlicky goodness. Some people are reminded of Christmas by the smell of pine trees. Me? I'm reminded of Christmas by the smell of soup.

It's a simple recipe really. Water, garlic, mushrooms. Boil. Add some flour to sour cream. Add broth to sour cream. Add broth/sour cream mix to broth (we don't want it curdling!), add salt and pepper, let simmer till it thickens. Serve over mashed potatoes.

The mashed potatoes are key.

Dad made it at his house on Christmas Eve, and we had our own little Polish feast there. Pierogi, kielbasa, and the soup. It didn't take long before that familiar smell filled the kitchen.

Even though it was a different branch of the family, and Sweetie wasn't there to share it, it was still the soup. It was awesome to share the tradition that I have been a part of my entire life with Betsy and Charles (her dad), and to have Dad so excited to make the soup.

This year has seen a lot of changes, but it's good to know that some things stay the same.

Like the soup.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What we already know...

My dad sent me this today...

For those of us associated with the auto industry this is something we
know in our hearts. If you have friends that are not involved with
the automotive market then please send this on...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


This sums up how my week is going so far.

We're standing here and one of our guys says, "Hey! Look! There's something going on over at the GM plant across the street. There's cops everywhere!"

We all rush to the windows, and sure enough, there's cop cars and a line of people? walking up the road. We surmise that GM had announced some layoffs this morning for early ’09 and Orion’s one of the effected plants, so they must be picketing.

We stand for a bit more...and look...and I'm like, "Um guys. Those aren't people. Those are elephants."

"What? Are you smoking something?"

I replied, "Um yeah. They're elephants."

We look...sure enough. They're elephants.

The circus is at the Palace, which is very near to my office. Apparently, elephants have to come in on train, not by semi, and the nearest train depot is the GM they must have dropped the elephants at the plant and are walking them to the Palace.

You want to bring all productivity to a screeching halt in an office? Walk some elephants up the road.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Owies Update...Part Two

It's been 2 months and 4 days since the conveyor tried to eat my left hand, so it's time for an update.

I just went back and read the last Owies Update, and it seemed so hopeful then!


I have at least three more weeks of being wrapped up like a mummy and putting the silver sulfazine on it. (This will bring the total number of weeks to 11…) Now that the wound has closed itself (I know gross…) I will be taking a trip to the hand surgeon on 11/3 to make sure that there is no scar tissue getting in the way of my tendons, muscles, and such that would impact the movement of the wrist joint, being that the deepest part of the wound is directly over the wrist joint. The hand surgeon I'm going to see is from the same group of surgeons who did my hand surgeries when I was in high school. The surgeon that did those doesn't handle workman's comp situations, but his other associates do.

Also, it appears that I've picked up an allergic reaction to SOMETHING, probably fabric softener or a perfumed soap, which has irritated the heck out of it, but nothing that a little prescription strength Benadryl can't handle.

As we all know, I'm leaving for my cruise on Saturday, which means that this ace bandage is going to result in a WONDERFUL tan line. Heehehe. Megan has suggested bringing the bedazzler to sparkle it up a bit.

My doc has also compromised with me, and is allowing me to go snorkeling in Cozumel, as long as I agree to take an antibiotic, because I quote, "Lord knows what you'll pick up in the ocean in Mexico."

Outside of that, it's doing okay. I'm annoyed with it more than anything, and would like to take my collection of ace bandages cut them up, throw them on the ground, light them ablaze, and then stomp them out. There will be photos when this happens.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It's the Little Things...

20 little things that make me smile...
  1. Giggling with Joe in the salsa aisle in Meijer.
  2. The morning headbutt I get from one or both of the furfaces.
  3. A crisp fall day, but not so crisp that you can still drive with the windows open.
  4. Watching Melissa's little Austin grab for a french fry off of her tray at Culver's.
  5. Knowing that the shot I was trying for actually came out the way I wanted it to.
  6. An unexpected road trip.
  7. Making plans for the cruise with My Bliver Cousin.
  8. A clear night sitting out on the patio, with a good glass of wine, and some Frank and Dean.
  9. My little red tomato.
  10. Sleeping in.
  11. Snuggling with Joe.
  12. Good Italian food at Gino's.
  13. Napping.
  14. Some peace and quiet, where I do nothing but relax.
  15. A good bubble bath.
  16. The way freshly shaved legs feel up against clean sheets.
  17. Knowing I can order something off of a particular website, and when it arrives to my door, it will fit.
  18. Sand between my toes.
  19. Making dinner for the family.
  20. A good round of chair dancing.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Owies Update

Wow...three blog posts in one day! I need to work 70 hours a week more often, maybe I'll post more then! Or not.


This week, I was given the all clear to take the bandage off and stop wrapping up my hand like a mummy! I have to continue keeping it clean, and have begun putting Vitamin E on it to minimize scarring, which the doctors say there should be very little of. I only have to put a band-aid on it when I'm going to be in a situation that is particularly dirty, other than that, they want me to keep it open as much as possible.

Pardon the somewhat grossness of the following links!

This was the injury about an hour after it happened.

This was the injury yesterday.

So, needless to say, we've come a long way in just over 2 weeks.

The good news is, that as a result of this little mishap, there will be much more guarding put around the conveyor itself to prevent someone else from getting hurt, which makes things a bit easier for me to deal with. I guess you could say that I was taking the tryout and debug of the system to a bit of an extreme.


One Little Red Tomato

It's here! It's finally here!

My first red tomato!

I had one last week that was an orange-ish color, but it was all cracked down the back side of it, so when I knocked it off the vine I wasn't all that concerned. (Unlike when I knocked the first ever tomato off the vine while I was moving it...this was before I put them in the was quite the traumatic event!)

The recent rains have caused my tomato plants to grow exponentially, and my one has about 9 little green tomatoes on it. With my luck, they'll all turn red at once, and I'll have more tomatoes than I know what to do with!

One more day...

It's been a very long week, and Sophia and I feel about the same right now...

Monday, August 25, 2008


Yes, I still have fingers...they're just hiding.

I will spare you the details, but I had a small run-in with a conveyor that has resulted in almost a week off of work, and that nifty little wrap job seen above.

There are no broken bones, and nothing will need to be grafted, but I will have to contend with quite the little (ha! little...ha!) friction burn for the next little bit. According to the doctor, everything is progressing nicely, and I was cleared to go back to work this Monday. With any luck, I'll be able to ditch the gauze and the wrapping on Friday.

In my brief respite, I have learned a few things, primarily that you never really realize how much you use your other hand, until you CAN'T USE YOUR OTHER HAND.

It would have been nice for the staff of the clinic to inform me that I needed to take a whiz quiz (to insure I wasn't intoxicated on the job at the time of injury), before they splinted me and wrapped me up like a mummy. Really. How was I supposed to manage THAT?

The nurse (who also did my x-rays) was very sympathetic. She looked at me and said, "I'm so sorry sweetie. You've had quite the day." Damn near in tears I looked at her and said, "I have gotten my hand bitten by a conveyor. You guys gave me a tetanus shot. I have been wrapped up and x-rayed. I have cramps. And you want me to pee in a cup? Can I just go home?"

As a public service announcement, and this is key, do not assume that just because you are standing in front of the pharmacist, with a hand wrapped up beyond recognition, and have handed them a prescription for Darvocet, that they will have the foresight to give you a non-childproof cap.

Of course, in your fog of pain, you will not realize this until you get home, and by then it is too late. Try as you might, that bugger isn't going to budge. What will result, in a stroke of genius, is that you brace the damn pill bottle against the splint, and place it upside down on the counter, and push down and twist, without dropping the bottle. There will be much cursing, but eventually you will get it open, and by golly, without sending any pills flying.

Ladies, this next part applies to only us, as the boys will never understand. Bras. This is usually a two handed procedure, to put on, and take off. After I was dropped off at my house last Tuesday, I wanted nothing more than to change into my jammies and just sleep. I stopped short when I realized that I could not twist and bend the way I needed to in order to take off my bra. I tried, somewhat half-assed, but gave up at the first twinge of pain in my elbow from trying to contort myself. Lord knows I didn't need anything else injured at that point! I dealt with being poked in the boob by an underwire for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Joe came up that night to take care of me, and brought me pizza from Dolly's, and also dumped the Motrin 600, Darvocet, and antibiodic into a freezer jam container, because I knew that I could get into that easily. Pizza was not as easily consumed, as I managed to flip it upside down on to the carpet. It was good to curl up with him and just stop moving. He also assisted in the bra situation.


Joe left me sleeping the next morning, and I woke up with a very painful reminder of the previous day's events. It became very clear, very quickly, that cooking was not going to be easy, or quick. You need two hands to cut things, so fruit was out, unless I was chomping into it. Takes two hands to steady a bowl to either crack eggs into, or pour cereal and milk into, so that was out.

*taps nails on counter*

This was not going to be easy. I needed food to take with the antibiodics and the pain meds, so not eating wasn't an option. I finally got myself into some cut up watermelon I had in the fridge, but not before dropping a piece on my bed, which currently has my white sheets on it.

Clarice came up that night to help me out with things like the garbage and cleaning up the kitchen a bit. She also took me to Kroger to buy some food that was a bit more accessible, yet that wasn't going to cause me to gain 50 lbs before this was all over. When we got home, she sliced up a cucumber for me and stuck it in the fridge. (God I love that woman.)

Sherri stopped by with a basket of goodies from her, Melissa, and Stacey. Little chocolates, these divine little snack cakes from Papa Joe's, two cookbooks, a food and wine magazine, and the DVD of Princess Bride. It's good to have girlfriends. :)

By Friday, I was determined to make eggs for breakfast. I needed real food. I'd had leftover pizza, canned ravioli, the entire cucumber Reesey had cut up, one of the little snack cakes, and pretty much whatever I could get my hand on that I could open.

I placed the bowl on my counter, removed two eggs from the carton and set about trying to figure out how I was going to do this. I do not doubt the purpose of the stupid splint they had me in, but good god, could that thing get any more in the way? I braced the bowl against the splint, and kinda sorta successfully cracked the two eggs into the bowl.


Now to scramble them. I did an okay job, and managed to only get egg on the counter and not the rest of me. I will not lie when I tell you that it was the best scrambled eggs and toast I've tasted in a long time.

As I was cleaning up the mess, I had made, I grabbed for my canister of Clorox wipes from under the counter. Anyone who has ever used this wonderful product, knows that getting them to stay in the little holder in the cap is damn near impossible, a similar situation with baby wipes, and good luck getting them off the roll.

I tried and I tried to get these little buggers out, and when I finally grasped one, with the canister between my knees, I now was fighting to rip one off. I only needed one, maybe two, and here I was, suddenly waving around a string of about 47 of them, and flinging Clorox wipe juice about my kitchen.

Finally, FINALLY!, I get two of them to come off. I then spend the next minute and half jamming the other 45 back into the canister, slamming the lid shut, throwing it under my kitchen sink, and slamming the cabinet door.


It's been a long couple of days. I have to say, I knew I was going to be okay when I was sitting in the exam room at the clinic, checking out the wound on my hand, and thought, "You know...I could get some really awesome shots of my blood vessels and veins right now if I had a macro lens."

As of Monday, I have been de-splinted, so I have more mobility, and can type with two hands again! I've also graduated to using one piece of gauze under all the wrapping, and not two. I've worked out the bra scenario successfully, without losing an eye, and tonight I managed to wash and condition my hair using both hands (even though it hurt like an SOB to do so).

So progress is being made.

While I do hurt, I am annoyed, and I feel like a bit of a dumbass, I also know that I am very lucky that this isn't worse. To doc says that everything is on track, and I should have little to no scarring.

My coworkers have been absolutely fabulous about all this, and have been extremely supportive and caring. Now that they know that I'm going to be okay, I'm starting to take a bit of razzing on the whole situation.

Yesterday, I was informed, and assured, that my next project will not have any conveyors, so all my appendages should be safe, but that they're going to keep an eye on me...just in case.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Yager Road

For every family, there's one place that is the symbol of home. A place where you all gather to share laughter, tears, old memories, and to make new ones. A place that is steeped in traditions and history of generations that have come and gone.

For my family, that would be the farm on Yager Road. It has been in our family since the 20's, and has been a source of wheat, corn, soy beans, and for a while, oil. I couldn't tell you how to get there if I tried. It's like a beacon, you just know where to go to find it.

Above and beyond that, the farm is family.

Every year, since sometime in the 40's, the family has gathered on or around July 4th to celebrate the holiday, but also as a family reunion, and there is always a theme. The Farm has served as the back drop for a reenactment of the crossing of the Delaware in 1976, a hoedown complete with square dancing, various Olympic events, parades, and political conventions.

There is much food, much laughter, much silliness, and occasionally costumes. You talk, you catch up, you are reminded of what's really important.

Uncle Johnny, who's 94, sits over there talking about the woes of health care and medicine costs to anyone who will listen. There is much discussion going on about Becky's upcoming wedding, and who is making the trek to Pennsylvania. Uncle Dave has started up the tractor and is pulling it around to get ready for the hayride. Over a little bit farther, there's a pickup baseball game going on. A group of the younger girls have gathered in one of the trees to talk quietly about whatever it is that 10 year old girls talk quietly about. The little boys are running, chasing, and tackling. Margie is setting up the games for the kids, just as she has for at least the last 20 years.

And then there's Josie. Sweet little Josephine Marie.

One of the newest members of the next generation, she is my cousin Pam's daughter, experiencing her first 4th of July on the farm, in all her 8 month old glory. I watch as she's passed from family member to family member, the smiles, the cooing, the close talking to this little wonder. I watch the way Uncle Dale takes her, his first grandchild, and laughs with her. I watch as Pam takes her and walks with her in the grass, the same way our parents did with us almost 30 years ago.

This little one has no idea the history that surrounds her as she walks across the lawn with her tentative little steps.

Aunt Eleanor & Sweetie, at the farm, sometime in the 40's

I started writing this at the end of July, and shortly after I started it, my grandma, Sweetie, passed away. Many of my memories of the farm involve Sweetie, and the 4th of July picnics. The stories she would tell from when my mom and her brothers were little, and the times that were had then.

It was only fitting that after all the hubub of Sweetie's funeral, the family gathered at the farm to decompress and As we made that turn onto the dirt of Yager Road, and saw the familiar silos, and the crops, and essentially the same landscape I've remembered my entire life, there was a sense that something was missing. It was still family, it was still home, it was still familiar, but there was that small element that was missing.

That afternoon, as it often happens, the women gathered in the kitchen, with the food (and the wine), munching, having chit chat, and sharing family gossip. The men circled themselves in the garage, talking cars, farm equipment, and politics, all the while trying to solve the problems of the world.

There was much laughter and few tears. It was the perfect afternoon. There was a small rain shower, just long enough to send everyone running for cover, and I truly believe it was Sweetie's way of letting us know she was there.

It was a time to sit back, take it all in, and remember what is truly important in life, and to remember Sweetie, reminisce, and just take a deep breath. It is not lost on me at all that in order for us to do that, we came back to the farm.

It is our ground, it is our sanctuary, it is our home.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Gardens and Broken Dirt

"I understand your want to grow your own stuff and all, but do you really need 80 pounds of pea gravel and 2 more cubic feet of dirt?" Joe asked, as we stood next to the bags of garden soil at Home Depot. I was on a mission to finish planting in the planter boxes that Dad had helped me build for the patio, and this mission was being impeded.

I just looked at him.

"I don't know if the Cougar is going to be able to handle the weight. You could have mentioned something about this and I would have brought the truck."

He stopped suddenly, mid lift, and I immediately thought that perhaps he'd injured himself. After the great lawn mower lifting incident of 2007 that resulted in a pinched nerve or two in my back, I had reason to wonder.

"I broke the dirt," he said.

"You broke the dirt?"

"I broke the dirt."

"How do you break dirt?"

He pushed the flatbed cart back to expose a small pile of dirt on the ground, and a large hole in the seam in the bag.

"You broke the dirt."

"I did."

We burst into a fit of giggles. "Shhhh," he said, "They're going to see us and know I broke the dirt!" He hurriedly scooted the bag off the flatbed, selected a new one, and lifted it on there and started pushing the cart away, leaving the pile of dirt.

We got the dirt, unbroken this time, and the bags of pea gravel, and hauled them back to my house. Indeed, the Cougar was sitting a bit lower.

What resulted was this:

A new home for my two little tomato plants, 8 pepper plants, and 4 garlic plants. Yes, I realize that the cage for the one tomato plant is very large. It has big expectations. I have 3 very green, tiny, tomatoes hanging off that plant. I keep trying to coax them into turning red, but it's not working. I'm pretty sure my peppers are toast, and I really didn't realize that garlic was really that high maintenance of something to grow.

As you can also see, I'm having a small explosion of opal basil, Italian oregano, and chives in my herb garden. I also have parsley and thyme in there too.

That night, as we were unloading the rocks and the dirt from the Cougar to the patio, in very fast fading light, I asked Joe, "When you said earlier that you understand my need to grow my own you really understand my need to grow my own stuff?"

He looked at me and said, "I haven't got a freakin' clue."

I smiled, "Yeah...that's what I thought."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hoppy Update

So it's been awhile since I've posted. I quit my former job at the end of March, and started a new one April 1st. It's been going wonderfully, but it's been keeping me quite busy.

I thought I would post and state that we've found Hoppy. Sorta.

Last night while clearing the egress of the tree that sprouted there, Dad called to me upstairs that he had found Hoppy.

I come running down the stairs and ask, "Is he alive?!"

Dad turns to me, holding a tiny frog skull, and says, "Not exactly."

I immediately tear up. It's our little man...or what's left of him!

Dad then does the Dad thing. "Ohhhh...maybe it's not Hoppy. Don't get all upset. Maybe it's a different frog. See, look. It looks a little too big to be Hoppy. Hoppy was smaller than this, remember? This isn't Hoppy. It's too big to be Hoppy. Hoppy is off somewhere with his girlfriend, Hoppette...and they're making little Hippities. So then there will be Hippities with Hoppy."

This is why I love my dad, for comforting his almost 30 year old daughter over a long dead frog.

I then gasped and said, "You can't throw him away!"

Dad says, "No. I'm going to glue him to cardboard for preservation!"

*insert cocked eyebrow here*


"You are not gluing the frog to anything."

"What are you going to do with him?"

I got quiet, "I'm going to bury him."

Dad looked at me, and smiled. "I think gluing him to cardboard is a better idea."

Flash forward to this afternoon, and what's left of Hoppy is still hanging out on the window sill, until I can find another spot to put him, either in the ground, on cardboard, or forever immortalized in clear epoxy resin.

I see Sophia hop up on the couch and to the windowsill, and before I can say anything, she's got Hoppy's bones...IN HER MOUTH!

"Sophia!", I yelled, "DROP THAT! NO!"

She jumped back, a bit startled, and looked at me with the little frog skull in her mouth as if to say, "What?"

"Sophia! You're eating Hoppy! STOP!!!" and I swatted at her. She dropped the skull and hopped off the couch, quite perplexed.

I gathered up the bones, cursing the cat, and redeposited them on top of the TV, not nearly as nicely arranged, because the cats don't go up there, and really I have no idea where else to put them.

I mean, where is the most logical place to put frog bones?

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Cat's Life

Oh, to be able to find a sunbeam when ever you wanted...

...stretch out...

...and soak it all in.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Nekkid Fajitas

When I started this little adventure, one of my thoughts would be to add recipes and such to it, in addition to my little tidbits. I promise to add pictures as I go along...'cause dammit, sometimes food is just pretty.

So, being that I just typed this up for Mo for our Deepher alumnae newsletter, I thought I'd also post it here. Enjoy!

Nekkid Fajitas
(So named because they're made without tortillas!)


1lb thin sliced (or pounded flat) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp Fajita seasoning
1/4 cup 1/3 Less Fat Philly Cream Cheese
1/2 cup diced red onions
1 cup diced bell peppers
1 cup 2% Milk shredded cheese
1 cup Salsa
1/2 cup Reduced fat sour cream

If the low fat thing, isn't your thing, feel free to substitute the real stuff! :)

Aluminum foil
Cooking spray
Cooking twine or toothpicks
9"x9" baking pan - preferably glass

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Tear off enough foil to make individual pieces for each piece of chicken, spray with cooking spray.

Place one piece of chicken on one piece of foil, and sprinkle with fajita seasoning.

Spread cream cheese on each piece of chicken, then add onions and peppers. Add shredded cheese.

Now comes the messy part: roll the pieces of chicken up, and secure with toothpicks or cooking twine. Top with salsa.

Wrap the foil around the chicken rolls, so that they are completely covered, and secured. Place each little foil package in the baking pan.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and unwrap from foil. (Caution: this will be very hot.) Serve with dollop of sour cream.

Nutritional information per serving (calculated on 4 servings, using's recipe calculator): 288.6 Calories/12.6g Fat/11.1g Carbs/33.8g Protein

Now taking applications for the Queen of Procrastination...

So as I sit here, typing this lovely little entry, I should be upstairs doing something, anything, with the mound of laundry that's sitting on my couch.

You see, Dad will be here in about 45 minutes to help me tile a backsplash in the kitchen. (Yay! First major home improvement project!) Yet, here I sit.

It's not that I don't know that I need to get my tookus up and moving, it's just really, it's a gloriously sunny day out, the windows are open, tunes are cranked, and I'm really not sure that I want to do much more than soak it in. So again, here I sit.

This is not a new thing for me. All through school, I was the one notoriously waiting till the absolute last minute to do every project, every report, or to study for every exam. There are times that I really don't know how the hell I made it through college. I'm a big fan of the cross-your-fingers-pray-that-this-goes-as-well-as-you-think-it-should method of pretty much anything. Not as much as I used to be, but still.

This is why I am the poster child for things like direct deposit and automatic withdrawal. It's not that I don't have the means to pay the's that I forget to do some part of the process, usually either depositing the check, or sending the bill in. The day that direct deposit became an option at work, it was as if the heavens parted and a chorus of angels began to sing. And what is this? I can set up all of my bills online through my bank to just get sucked out of my account? I kid you not, I wept tears of joy.

I want to say that I'm getting better with it as I get older, and supposedly wiser, but my friends and family would let out a mighty guffaw at that one. I have all the best intentions. I talk a big game. And then...yeah...well? Hmmm.

My proverbial to-do list is in volumes, and yet I always find something else to do rather than what I'm supposed to be. Why do you think it took me three days to tape off and prep the kitchen and dining room for painting? How was I supposed to know there was going to be a Law and Order Marathon on?

While I was off for a week between jobs, I had it all plotted out. I was going to get up early (well, semi-early) and tackle a room a day. I was going to get more organized! I was going to hang all my clothes up in some sort of order! The laundry room was going to get purged of half empty cleaning products and wiped down! I was finally going to finish setting up my home office and all my networking crap! The laundry would be done, folded, and ironed! The kitchen and dining room would be painted! Slipcovers would be put on my couches! The wine rack would be stained!

Of that list, I got two things kinda done: the painting, and half the laundry. I also went to lunch with my uncle, over to visit a sorority sister, picked out tile, knitted, had Burleywoman over for dinner, went shopping, got a mani and pedi, and went grocery shopping. So it's not like I was totally unproductive.

I can say, that as I get older, I am finding that life is too short to live it by a to-do list. My procrastination is a part of who I am.

I'll get around to everything.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Where has Hoppy gone?

When I first moved into the condo back in October, Joe discovered a small frog living in the egress of the basement. He proclaimed his name to be Hoppy, and that he was going to start feeding him.

I looked at Joe, one eye brow cocked and asked, "And just what are you going to feed him?"

The answer was simple and matter of fact: "Crickets."

I laughed, shook my head, and said, "No. Noooooo way. You are not willingly introducing crickets to my ecosystem."

"But he'll starve! How does he get food?"

"How do you even know that he eats crickets?" I asked.

"He's a frog," Joe replied, "What else would he eat?"

We went back and forth for days on whether or not to feed Hoppy. Every time Joe would come over, and we would head to the basement to watch TV or a movie, the first thing he did was go to the window.

I asked him once what the hell he was doing, and he replied simply, "Checking on my little man."

Without fail, every time I came downstairs, I checked the window to see where Hoppy was. Sometimes he was on the left side, sometimes the right, sometimes he was hanging out in the middle. Oddly, he never hung out in the back of the egress next to the little tree that is growing there. He did seem to be annoyed when we would take the flashlight to look for him when it was dark.

I had to laugh at the two of us and this frog. Here we were, two adults, glued to the window, looking like two kids waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Shortly there after, I discovered that Hoppy had a sense of humor. Sitting on the couch one Saturday, I heard much commotion out in Hoppy's little aluminum abode, and saw that Killian and Sophia were intently stalking something. I looked to see what all the noise was, and it was Hoppy, hopping back and forth, teasing the cats.

He got quite close that day (as you can see from the above picture), and Sophia lunged at the window, ricocheting herself off the glass and landing on the loveseat, annoyed that she hadn't been able to catch him. Both cats soon lost interest, being that they couldn't get at him, and went to find a sunbeam to sleep in.

However, Hoppy remained at the window, watching me, watching TV.

The next weekend, I took off to Shreveport for work for three weeks. When I returned on Thanksgiving, it was cold and snowy. I went downstairs to the window, to check on Hoppy. He was there, huddled in a little hole under the side of the aluminum wall, he looked cold and skinny. For the first time, I had a twinge of guilt, that maybe we should have brought him inside when I first moved in, and maybe I shouldn't have been so adamant about Joe not feeding him crickets. After all, he was our little man!

I checked on him again before I went back to Shreveport, and he was still in his little hole, and when I came back 5 days later, he was still there. Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought, "What if Hoppy's dead?" Who would think that a person could become so attached to a little frog living outside their window? However, here I was teary eyed over this little amphibian.

I text messaged Joe and reported that Hoppy was still in his little hole, that he hadn't moved in at least 3 weeks, and I feared for the worst. A sadness fell over me, as I thought about poor Hoppy. More importantly, what was I going to do if he was dead? I certainly wasn't going to look at him for the rest of the winter.

I then set to Googling everything I could about frogs and what they do in the wintertime. I asked the Google "Do frogs hibernate?" Like a magic 8 ball, this was the first site I was pointed to.

Q. How do frogs survive the winter in cold places?
A. The frogs hibernate in burrows or bury themselves in mud. Toads and frogs are cold-blooded and their body processes slow down as the outside temperature drops. This is why you sometimes find frogs sunning themselves in the spring. Their body temp needs to rise for them to move well. Frogs' bodies have some natural antifreeze chemicals built into them, but a few kinds of frogs who live in especially cold climates can even survive being frozen solid.

Before Joe could reply to my original text message, I texted him again: "FROGS HIBERNATE!!" He replied, "I KNOW!" Hmm.

After that, whenever this crazy weather here in Michigan warmed up a bit, Hoppy would thaw out and come out into the sun. When it got cold, he'd go back into hiding. Seeing Hoppy out of his little hole, no matter how skinny he was, always made me smile, and usually warranted a very excited text message to Joe saying, "Hoppy's out!"

I stopped seeing Hoppy in his little hole sometime in January, I figured that with it being as cold as it has, he'd gone deeper into the ground.

However, it's warming up again, but there's still no Hoppy. Joe and I have surmised that he has found a Hoppette, and found another egress to live in, but still I wonder where Hoppy as gone to.

Every time I come downstairs, I still check the egress for Hoppy, hoping he's there.

After all, he is our little man.

The Things That Go Through My Head...

I think...a lot. I don't think about anything in particular, but there is always something going on in my noggin. Some nights, it's hard to shut it off and actually sleep.

My thoughts can range from practical, logical things, to certain things that get that quizzical dog look if I choose to verbalize them. On more than one occasion, my father has looked at me, and in only that tone that a loving father could, has said, "You are so strange..." I just smile. It doesn't really matter to me, because they're my thoughts.

And tonight, I choose to share some of them, and some may make repeat performances as later entries.
  • Why can't I dice an onion? I try and I try, but I fail...miserably.
  • How do my cats know which laundry to lay in? Sophia always finds the dark clothes, yet Killian always finds the light ones. Regardless, I usually end up having to do more laundry.
  • I should probably find and pay that ticket that's due on Saturday.
  • I'd really like to have my living room back from the 8' folding table that's been there since January 25.
  • Do you think that professional sports players hear all the noise that goes on when the score board says, "MAKE SOME NOISE!" or is it just background...noise?
  • I'm going to get up with the alarm at 5:15 tomorrow...okay, I'm going to try to get up with the alarm at 5:15 tomorrow.
  • I should really start sorting my socks...which means I need to get some drawer separators...oooh...I could make drawer separators.
  • I wonder if there's an episode of any Law and Order I haven't seen.
  • I need to take cans back this weekend.
  • *sings* "All the lonely people/Where do they all come from..."
  • Why isn't there a bra out there that wont poke me in the armpits after repeated wear?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bliver Cousins

It was July in 1991 or 1992, and my cousin Megan and I were riding in the back seat of our grandparents' Pontiac Bonneville, on our way home from the annual 4th of July Picnic/Family Reunion.

It was late, and dark, and we were zooming (or what we thought was zooming) along on a dirt road in the middle of farm land, and listening to AM radio. The topic of conversation that evening was cirrhosis of the liver.

At one point in the segment, Megan and I swore, and still do to this day, that the guy talking on the radio slipped and said cirrhosis of the bliver. We looked at each other like, "No, that's not it?" And immediately broke out into a giggle fit, as 12 year old girls are wont to do. There was some stern talking to from our grandpa, and our giggles were a little more quiet.

After that, we referred to ourselves as The Bliver Cousins. Nobody else really understood why, but we did, and that's all that matters.

Fast forward 16 years and we still call ourselves The Bliver Cousins, which always makes us laugh. It's our own little secret society. Our own version of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

It's amazing how something so small, so seemingly insignificant when it happens, sticks around.

We are a far cry from those two girls, with bad mall hair, and even worse earrings, one living in California, one living in Texas.

We're now both almost 30, both at that pivotal point in our lives where we really start to question who we are and why we're here and what is the next step from here, and more importantly, how do we get there from here? Careers, further education, marriage, babies...where does it all fit?

We speak daily via profuse amounts of email, and almost daily via phone, and usually once a week, one will say to the other, "Get out of my head!", as our thoughts are often so similar it's eerie.

Even after a time where we weren't in each others lives, it didn't matter. We picked right back up as if we never missed a beat. There was no readjustment period. It was just BAM! here we are. The Bliver Cousins ride again!

She is my rock, my ground, and has a fabulous knack for hanging pictures in precarious places. I am her geek, who she lovingly listens as I go on and on about the latest gadget or car thing, when she could really could care less. Our paths, while completely different in some cases, will always cross in others.

I'm not sure how it always happens, but we don't have to go looking for trouble, trouble usually finds us first, and when it does, we usually break out into the giggles like 12 year old girls.

Why? Because we're the Bliver Cousins.

Things That Make Things Move

I have one of those fabulous careers where no one really understands what it is that you do every day.

"And what is it that you do at work?"

"I'm an engineer."

"Oh, what kind? Mechanical? Electrical?"

"Well, electrical, kinda. I'm a controls engineer."

"Oh that's nice. What does that mean?"

And then, usually what results, is a long dissertation, given by me, to whomever is asking, about what it is that I do, in language that most normal people don't understand.

After 11 years in my industry, I have finally come up with an answer that usually appeases everyone.

I make things that make things move. More specifically, I make the things that build cars and trucks, move.

Not the robots, the robot guys do that, but everything else, and by everything else, I mean conveyors, clamps, welders, metal presses, turntables, and just about everything else in an assembly plant that moves any amount of distance, for any amount of time.

I don't actually build the tooling I work on, that's the mechanical guys' job. They design the tool to fit a process, say building up the doors of a vehicle, and they set up a sequence of operations, and that's where we come in.

It starts with the hardware end of things, the stuff you can actually touch: control panels that most commonly contain a processor with inputs and outputs, relays, fuses, circuit breakers, terminals, and a ton of wire. There are smaller panels that serve different purposes, and a slew of cables and cords that connect it all together. On top of all of this, you have air systems for valves that move cylinders back and forth; water systems to keep the welders cool; hydraulic systems to move the real heavy stuff that air isn't powerful enough to; and safety systems to keep the morons out of harm's way. All of this has to be sized and investigated to make sure that you have enough juice, air, water, or oil to do what you need to, and that it will stop when it's supposed to.

Once that's established, the software comes in. (Note that I say established, because as I have come to learn, nothing is ever really finished. There are always changes that get made, in various stages of the game, and just when you think you're're really not.)

The software is quite literally the brains of the operation. Using the sequence that the mechanical guys set out, we go about putting the steps in, one by one. When it gets dumped into the processor, after a few trials and errors (and sometimes dumb luck), when you hit the go button, everything functions the way it's supposed to, when it's supposed to, all just a series of 1's and 0's that turn signals on and off.

Put those two elements together, add a whole lot of time, frustration, and very long days in an environment that is always noisy, usually pretty dirty, located in states and cities in some of the strangest locations...and poof!

Before I got into this business, vehicles just showed up at the dealerships on carriers from assembly plants. I had absolutely no idea what it took to build a car from sheet metal till it rolled off the end of the line, how many people it took, how many moving parts are involved, and just what happens when any of those things stop working. There are days when I wish it was still that way. :)