Friday, April 29, 2011

She was more beautiful than Princess Aurora

I will admit to getting up at 5am Central time to watch the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  I missed all of the nonsense of the arrival of the guests, what they were wearing (although, I did see pictures of that 'hat' that Princess Beatrice wore.  seriously?)  I turned on the tv just in time to see Catherine and her father exit the car to enter Westminster Abbey.  I gasped with joy when I first saw her gown.  She looked beautiful, as a princess should. 

As I was watching her walk down the aisle to meet her prince at the alter, all I could think of was Sleeping Beauty.  You know?  The scenes where the king and queen are in the church or castle or wherever they were?  (Sleeping Beauty is my very favorite Disney princess, by the way.)

Prince William reminds me so much of his mother (not that I ever knew her personally, of course.)  His mannerisms, the shy way he looks out of the corner of his eyes when waving, his smile, etc.  As a couple, though, the new Prince and Princess have no resemblance of Prince Charles and Princess Diana as a couple.  Prince William and his bride seem very comfortable, albeit a bit nervous, and in love, just like a newly married couple should be.  Prince Charles and Princess Diana?  Not so much.  They were both very stiff and it just seemed forced.  That marriage was a semi-happy beginning (mainly for the bystanders) that had a very sad, and then tragic ending.

This afternoon, I was browsing pictures of the second wedding dress that Princess Kate wore.  While the first dress was very classic with its romantic lace and long train (which reminds me of my mother's wedding dress from pictures that I've seen...and yes, my mom's waist was tiny like Kate's.)  The second dress was made by the same designer, but was entirely different.  No lace, lots of bling around the waist, and a circular hem.  (forgive me for not knowing the correct designer terms....I'm ignorant in the world of fashion.)  She looked fabulous in both dresses.

I'm a sap when it comes to weddings and I will admit that I cried once or twice during the ceremony.  (As an aside, I also cry when I watch TLC's A Baby Story...people giving birth gets me every time.)  I also gave a little cheer when they had their first kiss(es) on the balcony.  And how cute was the little attendant who put her hands over her ears as they were kissing?  She'll probably grow up being recognized as 'that little girl.'  CUTE!

I'm hoping that Prince William and Princess Catherine have a long and wonderful life together as husband and wife!

By the way, it's not to late to enter my contest to win a Chicago travel guide for families.  Click here to enter.  You have until noon on Tuesday to enter and there are 4 ways to get your name into the drawing! 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Long Distance Relationships

Scott and I started out in high school as good friends.  We didn't date one another, but we did sit together at lunch (while I gave change for the vending machines).  I had a steady boyfriend and he had a steady girlfriend.  He and I were just good friends.  We talked about anything and everything.  Then, we graduated and he left for the Navy.  We started writing to each other and after I went to WVU, my boyfriend and I broke up.  Scott decided to come to visit me at school.

That visit turned into a relationship that has lasted over 25 years now.  Our first 'date' was October 12, 1985.  We got engaged in December of that year and then we got married the following December.  I think we actually saw each other face-to-face about 30ish days in that year.  It was brutal because we didn't have the social media, email, Skype, cell phones, etc. that exist these days.  I still have all of the letters and cards that he send to me throughout that year.

We were able to call one another on occasion, but phone calls were expensive.  He was going to A School at Great Lakes in IL and lived in a barracks.  I lived in a dorm and had a phone in my room.  His phone was in a hallway, and was shared by all of the guys on that floor.  When I called, I would have to tell the person who answered who I wanted to talk to and they would go to see if he was in his room or in someone else's room on the floor.  The minutes added up!

After we got married, we spent the next 4 years in a long-distance marriage.  We lived in an apartment in Virginia Beach, then moved closer to the base in a townhouse in Norfolk.  His battle group would be gone for weeks or even months at a time.  He was a boiler tech, so he was the first one on the ship before deployment and the last one off the ship.  There were many deployments that I would go to welcome the ship back to port with the other wives, only to find out he had duty that night, so after spending an hour or so together, I would have to go back home alone.

Luckily, I was busy with work and school, so I didn't have a lot of time to sit and be sad about him being gone.  And we had a dog.  That dog loved Scott, but beside knowing where his food came from, he had little respect for me.  Needless to say, that dog was like having an ill behaved child.  He was spoiled.  BUT, he was very smart.  I would tell him, "Rex!  I'm going to get Daddy because he's coming home!"  His ears would perk up and he would wag his short, little tail.  One many occasions, I would return home alone from the ship.  I would then take Rex out for a walk and he would pull me over to the car and look in the window as if he was looking for his true Master.  little ungrateful jerk.  (I jest...maybe)

Long distance relationships these days seem like they would be a whole lot easier than 'back in the day.'  There are so many ways to stay connected with a loved-one.  It's not for the weak at heart, though.  I think that if a relationship is truly worth fighting for, then it can work.  Patience and good communication are important.  And both parties have to be willing to make it work.

Have you entered my giveaway yet?  Click here for a chance to win my friend's book Chicken in the Car and the Car Won't Go, a Chicago travel guide for families with tweens and teens.

The Power of Television

As you well know (if you are a regular reader of my blog), I love reality tv.  One of the shows that I watch on a regular basis is Bethenny Ever After.  Some of her products are a bit 'out there' (i.e. the cleanse...which I would never do), however, her new cocktail Skinnygirl Margarita, is delicious.  I looked online to see if it was sold here in my area of my state (Farm Country), and was excited to find that my local grocery stocked it.

The last time I went grocery shopping, I purchased a bottle.  I'm not a huge fan of tequila, so I was unsure if I would enjoy it.  I found it very light and refreshing, though.  I think that it's only 100 calories for a 4oz serving, which is large enough for this lightweight.  :)

Here I am being a dork with my Skinnygirl Margarita
I can imagine how refreshing this will be on a hot summer evening while I sit on my deck swing while reading a book. 

***Disclaimer:  Bethenny has no idea who I am and this is not a paid advertisement for Skinnygirl. 

By the way, have you entered my giveaway yet?  Click here for a chance to win my friend's book Chicken in the Car and the Car Won't Go, a Chicago travel guide for families of tweens and teens.  You have until next Tuesday to enter. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thinking of visiting Chicago?

Yes?  Well, I have something for you!  Yes, YOU!  My dear friend Melisa has written her second book called Chicken in the Car and the Car Won't Go, which is a travel guide for families with tweens and teens.  The book is due to be released in mid-May, however, you can pre-order it here and if you pre-order using that link, you are entered on her page to win a $30 Target gift card. 

I am giving away a copy of the book on my blog.  I will be pulling a name from a hat (which I will do in a separate vlog post next week).  Here are the ways to win: 
1. Leave a comment telling me that you want to win.
2. Follow me with Google Connect and leave a separate comment telling me that you did that. If you already follow me, this one’s a freebie but you have to leave the comment anyway!
3. If you are a blogger, blog about this giveaway, including a link to this post. Leave a separate comment with the blog url.
4. 'Like' my facebook fan page and leave a separate comment telling me that you did that.  If you already 'like' my page, you need to leave a comment telling me that you like my page.
Make sure you include your email address in your comments so that I can contact you. Melisa will sign the book and ship it directly to you.

** Melisa and I have been friends for over 25 years.  I wanted to help her promote her book by doing this give away.  I'm just spreading the love.  By the way...she's the reason I started this blog!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday Randomness

This is the second day in a row that the sun has been out and the temps are in the 60s!  There is hope that we've seen the last of Old Man Winter.  :fingers crossed:

I think I have touch of seasonal affective disorder.  I really dislike winter, except for Christmas.  I want to go straight from Christmas to spring.  Do not pass Go; do not collect $200.

When you see a mom of an only child, please don't ask her when she's having another.  And don't say something cutesy to her child like, "I think it's time for you to have a brother or sister!"

Never ask a woman when she is due to give birth, unless you know without a doubt that she is pregnant.  Someone once asked me when I was due.  I looked them straight in the eye and said, "I'm not pregnant.  I'm fat."  Awkward!

Gas prices skyrocketed.  Thankfully, I have a 3 mile commute to work.  Otherwise, I couldn't afford to get to work.

Between Scott's air points that he's accumulating and his hotel points, our next vacation will be practically free.

Must. have. patience.

I walked the golf course while Scott golfed on Sunday.  I want to get some cute golf outfits to wear on the course. 

I found a tick in my head yesterday.  Scott got it out for me.  Thankfully, it wasn't full of blood and it came out very easily.

Tonight is book club.  Our book this month was Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez.

I heart my Kindle.  I have 19 games, 7 cookbooks, 12 Bible study books, 23 classics, 8 Little House books, and 379 books in my archives.

Happy Tuesday!  Get out there and enjoy the sunshine!  (that is if it's sunny in your neck of the woods!)

Monday, April 11, 2011

He was lucky it wasn't a puffy shirt

Two years ago, the three of us went to Walt Disney World for Spring Break.  It was Nick's* senior year in high school, and we decided that if we were going to go as a family, that would be the perfect time to go.  We were making preps for his Eagle Court of Honor and graduation, as well as getting him ready to leave for college.  Scott and I were a bit melancholy, so we thought this trip would be perfect timing....and we were right.

The fourth or fifth day we were there, I started going through all of the pictures on my camera and noticed that I didn't have many from my favorite park, The Magic Kingdom.  I panicked.  I almost started crying and told Scott that we had to make another trip over there so that I could take a ton of pictures of all of my favorite places.

Scott had already bought a Captain Jack Sparrow hat and had been wearing that every day to every park we visited.  He was really getting into the 'zone.'  We decided to be a family of pirates that day at the Magic Kingdom.  I bought a set of Pirates of the Caribbean Mickey ears and then saw the perfect hat for Nick:  a set of Goofy ears with a bandanna and gold earring.  He did his best Seinfeld impression that day..."but I don't want to be a pirate!" 

Almost exactly like that, except for the Spanish subtitles, that is.  ;) 

Scott told him that he would wear the hat and smile.  He said, "you want to make your mother happy, don't you?"  He reluctantly put on the hat, but wasn't first.

A bit annoyed....

Still annoyed, but warming up a bit

The happy pirate family in front of the castle.

Starting to relax and get into the zone.


The three of us had some much fun on that trip.  We laughed harder than any other vacation.  Scott was reluctant to go to Disney World because of the heat and the crowds.  We went in mid-March before most of the country was on spring break, so the crowds weren't bad and the weather was gorgeous.  Our timing was perfect!

I'm hoping to go again in 2013 after the Fantasyland renovation is complete.  Is it a coincidence that it is also the same year Nick graduates from college?  Hmmmmmmm........  Must. save. money. NOW.

*Nick aka The Boy....he will always be "the boy" to us, but he's 20, so I'm thinking I can start calling him 'Nick' on here now.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Time I Took Years off of my Parents' Lives

The following story is a bit sketchy in my memory.  I was about 11 years old and my memory isn't what it used to be.  However, it's something I'll never forget and I know my mom still thinks of it as one of the scariest times in her life.

It was the summer of '77ish.  We were headed to Myrtle Beach (?) with another family.  We had a little convoy going with our campers.  The first night, we stopped at a huge KOA in or near Virginia Beach.  The grown ups were getting the camps set up and my brother, sister, and I headed off to the playground to play.  My parents told us to memorize the street we were on so that we could find our way back.  (Side note:  these days, parents would never, ever send children to strange playgrounds to play by themselves, but this was the 70s and things were safer back then.)

My brother is 15 months older than I am.  My sister is 6 years younger than I.  I am the middle child and I had Middle Child Syndrome and really played it up most of the time....I still do, but only to irritate my brother.  ;)  We walked to the playground.  I'm not sure how far away from the campsite, I just know that we couldn't wait to get there and run off some energy.  I also remember that I was wearing a sundress.  I have no idea why I remember that random piece of information, except that I got embarrassed, which led to the follow turn of events.

We played for awhile, and then my brother decided it was time to get back.  He was the responsible one and always wore a watch.  I didn't want him bossing me around.  I can't remember if I fell or he pushed me and I fell, but I did fall and my dress flew up and my underwear was showing and I was so embarrassed.  There was no way in hell I was following him anywhere!  He told me that he and my sister were going back and I should go back too.  I was defiant and told him I was going back on my own.  Big mistake.  My sense of direction wasn't as developed as it is now.  (I now have my dad's sense of direction, which is a blessing.)

Sam and Margie left the playground and I was alone.  I decided to walk back to the campsite.  I went the wrong direction and started walking in circles.  It was getting dark.  I was tired, hungry, and scared.  But, I just knew that Sam would show up and rescue me.  He's rescued me before.  He's my big brother and loves me even if I'm a pain in the butt.  No one rescued me.  No one knew exactly where I was because *I* didn't even know where I was.  I just knew I was still in that HUGE campground looking for Rocking Horse Lane.  (again with the random memory thing.)

I did a very scary thing.  I talked to strangers!  My parents drilled it into my head to NEVER, EVER talk to strangers, but I had no choice.  I saw a group of people at a pay phone.  Some people were using the phone and some were waiting in line for the phone.  I walked up to a very nice, clean cut couple and started crying.  I said, "Can you help me find Rocking Horse Lane?"  They looked at me and started talking in French.  I started crying harder.  Another sweet couple said, "Are you lost, sweetie?"  I cried harder.  They got a map of the camp ground and I told them the name of the street where we were camping.

The man of the couple went to get a flashlight and we took off to find my parents.  I was a mess.  I didn't even think they would do anything bad to me.  I was lucky that night.  When we turned the corner of our street and came to our campsite, Helen, the woman who was camping with us, jumped up and yelled, "She's here!  She's here!"  and she gave me the biggest hug.  I felt so safe for the first time in hours.  My mom and dad came running up the road and I remember the look on my mom's face....relief.  She yelled my name and gave me a hug.  My dad's face registered relief and a bit of anger, but he was scared.

Later, my mom told me that all she could think of was some crazy people taking me away and never seeing me again.  As a parent, I 'get' it.  That had to be the longest evening of their lives.

My brother and sister hugged me, then Sam hit me and called me an idiot and told me that I needed to listen to him from now on. 

The next morning, we broke camp and headed off to Myrtle Beach.  I never ventured far from the camp.  I didn't trust myself to be able to find my way back.  I knew that the next time (there never was a 'next time', thankfully) I may not have been as lucky.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spinach Salad

Today is a salad luncheon at work.  I signed up to take one of my favorite salads:  Spinach Salad. 

2 10 oz bags of baby spinach

One can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped.

One small can of bean sprouts, drained

5 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and chopped

2 hard cooked eggs, chopped

Salad dressing:  Whisk together 1 cup salad oil; 3/4 cup sugar; 1/4 cup vinegar; 1 medium onion, finely diced; 1/3 cup ketchup; 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Pour the dressing over the salad right before serving and toss.  (I can't show a finished product because it's not lunch time.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Natural Highs

One of my hobbies is reading.  I read magazines (mainly cooking mags), books, and blogs.  One of the blogs I read daily is Jodie's It's ALL Good in Mommyhood.  She had a post up about things that give her a 'natural high' and it started the wheels turning in my head about the things that give me a natural high.  As you can see from yesterday's vlog, it doesn't take much to make me laugh, even at myself.  I'm a pretty happy person most of the time. 

Here is my list:  taking long walks with Scott, talking to the boy on the phone, spending quality time with my little family of three, date nights, the beach, spending time with my sister, Disney World, getting hugs from my students, feeling like a rockstar when they yell, "Mrs C!" when I get to school, having girl time with friends, planning a holiday meal, preparing for Christmas, surprising the boy on Christmas morning, puppies, hugs from my mom, bonding with my other mother, book club, planning vacations, reality tv ;), blogging, Andy Cohen (how much fun would it be to hang out with him?), hugs from my nieces, visiting Amish country with my mom, seeing the man our boy is becoming, quiet time with Scott.

This list could go on and on.  Life is great.  What are some of your natural highs?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another Vlog for Your Entertainment

Instead of trying to blog about what was going on in my head this morning, I decided to do another vlog.  Note to self...laptop+lap+laughing=sloppy video and poor quality.  :)

This vlog is about...reality tv.  Surprise.  :)  Oh, does the fact that I laugh about what I say make me crazy?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mad Tea Party

When I was visiting my sister last month, we went out for lunch at the local tea room.  We ordered high tea for two.  We had our choice of many different teas from an extensive tea menu, including one the owner described as 'like Lipton'.  We asked why she'd have one that we could get anywhere and she told us that many people come in asking for a tea that tasted similar to Lipton tea.  Odd.  Why go to a specialty tea room to get a tea that you could pick up in the grocery store?

When we first entered the shop, we were tantalized by the aromas of the different blends of teas that were sold by the ounce.  The shop also had different accessories, including infusers, cups and saucers, tea pots, tea presses, etc.  The scone of the day and different salads were also available by the pound.

The tearoom was on the other side of the shop.  It was beautifully decorated with linen tablecloths (protected by a glass cover), crystal water goblets, and gorgeous cups and saucers.

This table was to my right.  I love the delicate flowers on the cup.  All of the cups and saucers were mix and match, which made for a fun, eclectic look.

This was my cup, saucer, and luncheon plate.  My family and I have a habit of turning the china over to see where it was made.  (That's what happens when you grow up near potteries).  My cup was made at Homer Laughlin China (home of the famous Fiestaware...and 1 mile away from our hometown.)  Drinking from it made the tea even better.  ;)

This was my sister's cup, saucer, and luncheon plate.  I love the blues!  Very classy!

And this was the sugar bowl, filled with adorable little sugar cubes.  We also got some lemon for our water or our tea.

After checking out the tea list, we decided on a pot of winter white Earl grey.  It came highly recommended and we wanted to try something that was a specialty of the house.  It didn't disappoint!  (I'm not a tea connoisseur, (and neither is my sister), so we asked the owner for the recommendation.)

We were a bit shocked when our tea came out.  Not because of the aroma, but because of this tea cozy.

It was a bit tacky, a bit kitschy, a bit....well, I don't know, but at least it had my two favorite colors on it and it kept the tea hot.  After all, that is what a tea cozy is supposed to do, right?  :)

We ordered high tea for two, which came with a variety of finger sandwiches, scones, and mini  pastries.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  The presentation was gorgeous.  (It also happened to be St. Patrick's Day, so all of the cream on the pastries was tinted green.)

The sandwiches from left to right were:   cucumber, egg salad, chicken salad, tomato basil, and ham and cheese.  My sister and I were such dorks.  We would take turns choosing a sandwich, then we'd taste it, then we'd talk about it.  When we got to the tomato basil, her eyes suddenly got really big and she said, "Oh!  I forgot you hated tomatoes."  I told her that I have an extremely sophisticated palate (ha ha) and besides, I was going to put on my big girl pants and just eat it.  And I was glad I did!  It was delicious!  Seriously, my favorite sandwich.  Mom would be so proud of me!  ;)

We did the same process with the scones next.  Here is what we had to choose from:

From front l-r:  lemon poppy seed, cranberry, and lavender.  OMG.  Each was amazing.  The lemon poppy seed was extremely lemony.  The cranberry was oh, so yummy, and the lavender?  Heaven.  It was filled with cream and some sort of jam. 

The pastries were also very yummy.

From front l-r:  pecan tassies, coconut balls (for lack of a better word), lemon poppy seed cookies (my fav), cherry tarts, mini brownies, and little white balls with mini chocolate chips.  After Margie tasted the pecan tassies and declared them delicious, I told her that is what a pecan pie tastes like.  Then she asked me why she has never tasted pecan pie?  I don't know, dear sister, since I made one AT YOUR HOUSE at Thanksgiving 2 years ago.  ;)  Next time, just try it.  You'll never know whether you'll like it or not, ok?  ok.

Disclaimer:  We had most of the pastries boxed and took them to her house since we were stuffed by the time we got to them.  We grazed on them for the rest of the afternoon.  :)

After we enjoyed our food, we sat for awhile and just enjoyed our tea and each other.  We laughed (trying not to draw too much attention to ourselves), cried (what can I say, I cry a lot), and just really had a nice time together being the dorky sisters that we are.  We vowed that the next time Mom was with us, we were going to do this again.  We all three had high tea a few years ago and had such a wonderful time.  We also decided that we would never submit our husbands to this because their stomachs aren't as delicate as ours, and they would be wondering where the heck the real food was!  ;)

My cup of yummy tea.  Cheers!

My sister has a very busy schedule because she teaches Spanish at a cyber-school full time, is a mommy to two daughters, and is going to college for her PhD.  I was extremely happy to have this time with her.  She is definitely my hero!  I love you, Margie!  Thanks for lunch and thanks for the wonderful memories that we made!