Thursday, October 30, 2008
In honor of the holiday, I've complied my favorite 12 Silly Halloween jokes, and a couple of great Halloween videos. Try not to laugh your head off!
What does a vampire never order at a restaurant? A stake sandwich
Why do mummies have trouble keeping friends? They're so wrapped up in themselves
What did the mother ghost say to her children ghost in the car? Fasten your sheet belts
Why don't skeletons go to scary movies? They don't have the guts
What do you get when you cross Bambi with a ghost? Bamboo!
Knock knock! (who's there) Boo! (Boo who?) Gee, you don't have to cry about it!
What should you do if you see a monster on Halloween? Hope that the monster does not see you!
What should you do if your Jack-o-Lantern falls off the front porch? Put on a pumpkin patch!
What kind of candy do Vampires like best? Suckers!
Why does everyone hate Dracula? He has a BAT temper....
What holiday is after Halloween on Dracula's calendar? Fangs-giving
How did the skeleton know it was going to rain? He could feel it in his bones
Enough of the silly Halloween jokes - enjoy this great video of some very creative costumes!
Ten Signs You're Too Old for Halloween:
1. You get winded from knocking on the door
2. You have to have someone chew the candy for you
3. You ask for high fiber candy only.
4. When someone drops a candy bar in your bag, you lose your balance and fall over.
5. People say, "Great Keith Richards mask!" and you're not wearing a mask.
6. When the door opens you yell, "Trick or..." and you can't remember the rest.
7. By the end of the night you have a bag full of restraining orders.
8. You have to carefully choose a costume that won't dislodge your hair piece.
9. You're the only Power Ranger in the neighborhood with a walker.
10. You avoid going to houses where your ex-wives live.
I always thought that Disney movies could be a bit too scary for children. Check out this horrific re-cut of the Mary Poppins classic film:
Happy Halloween everyone! Sleep tight....
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
- 1 12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 c brown sugar
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 40 Saltine or Graham crackers, or 1 sleeve Keebler Club crackers (I use the
- Coarsely chopped nuts (cashews or peanuts), if desired
- Hershey's Toffee baking pieces, if desired
Instructions for making Toffee Bark Candy:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
- Line cookie sheet with tin foil, and then mist lightly with cooking
- Line with a single layer of crackers
- Melt butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in small sauce pan over medium heat, stirring frequently.
- 5. Bring mixture to a "foamy" boil, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
- 6. Pour mixture evenly over crackers and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees
- Sprinkle chocolate chips over the mixture and allow to melt. Spread evenly
(if desired, add chopped nuts and/or toffee baking pieces)
- Refrigerate the Toffee Bark Candy until chocolate is firm.
Love the taste of toffee? Watch the following Nigella Lawson video as she makes Sticky Toffee Sauce - yum!
For the most part, we are lucky to have healthy pets. They are young (ranging in age from 5 months to 4 years). We keep up on their vaccinations. All three animals are micro-chipped so that if they get lost we can find them. And, we're also lucky to live in a relatively dry part of the country that allows us to get out and walk the dogs regularly. All good fortune aside, however, Earl suffers from epilepsy which requires expensive blood tests and regular medication. Yesterday, the vet also told me that he needs to have his teeth professionally cleaned, which will run us close to $500 since they have to put him completely under.
When we adopted our pets, we took it seriously. I am sick at the number of pets that are adopted and then surrendered because they are not "allowed at the apartment," or because of "allergies," etc. So many owners do not consider the true cost of keeping healthy pets. We would never give up our pets because of the cost of their health care!
For now, we'll just have to bite the bullet and cough up the money for yesterday's vet appointment and the follow-up later in November when our kitten gets more booster shots. Earl will need blood work done at the same time. Gosh, its expensive to keep healthy pets. Speaking of which, I have a bit more convincing to do with my husband regarding the cost of Earl's dental cleaning...
All complaining aside, the animals in this cute video know what it means to stay healthy:
I believe that our pets keep us healthy at the same time we return the favor! So here's to our furry friends and keeping healthy pets!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Yes, I am feeling overwhelmed.
How did I get to this point, you may ask? Well, for some reason, the word "no" is not often a response I make when asked to take on volunteer work. I am a cub scout leader and a Sunday School teacher, as well as a full-time attorney. I serve on the Board of Directors for a local community organization and I am the Treasurer for the local bar association. No wonder I am often feeling overwhelmed.
My children are involved in a number of extracurricular activities: soccer (fall), basketball (winter), baseball (spring), swimming, gymnastics and ballet. WHEW! Oh, and I also mentioned scouts, didn't I?
So how does this busy mom keep everything in line without losing my mind? Here are my simple steps:
1. Caffeine - lots of it! Actually, I usually only have 2-3 cups of coffee a day, but it sure jump-starts my morning. I started drinking some of the energy drinks in the afternoon, but they are expensive and also wreak havoc on my sleeping.
2. Keep a master calendar and carry it with you everywhere. I also have a backup computerized calendar that pings me with reminders 15 minutes beforehand (which is often way too late for me!)
3. Hire support if you can. We have a nanny pick up the kids twice a week and start them on their homework. She also gets my middle son to his scout meeting, which starts at 4:00 on Thursdays (too early for me to leave work).
4. Go with the flow - leave perfection behind and you may be able to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Just realize that each 24 hour period is its own special day, and that no matter what, you'll get through it!
5. Try to get good, quality sleep. This means limiting alcohol intake and, sadly, some late cups of coffee for me! I am much better prepared for what the day will bring when I get to bed at a reasonable hour and sleep through the night.
6. Ask for help! Don't forget your neighbors, kids' teachers, significant other, or extended family members. They can pitch in sometimes when you are feeling overwhelmed. Even if they are not there to physically assist with housework and carpooling, a listening ear can make all the difference in a stressed out afternoon.
7. Learn to say no. Yes, I need to practice what I preach here. But truly, you will find that volunteer positions will be filled, even if you do not step up. There will always be another year to serve on the PTA. Besides, you can save yourself a lot of stress if you don't have to worry about the politics of social organizations, as well as manage your marriage and discipline your kids.
8. Exercise and/or stretch at least 3 times a week. But I don't have time, I hear you saying. Even if it means setting the alarm 15 minutes earlier so you can take the dog for a quick walk in the morning, make a habit of it. You'll be more energized and less likely to be feeling overwhelmed when the day gets going.
Any or all of these tips can help you when the world seems to be crashing down and you feel like you don't have enough time to even go to the bathroom (believe me, I've been there). And if all else fails, maybe you really just need to take a bubble bath. "Calgon.... take me away!!"
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Next, gather your cooks together. I've found that ages 6 and up can create especially delicious homemade caramel apples without too much adult assistance! You can help younger children, ages 3-6, with spooning the melted caramel over the apples. Always supervise kids near a stovetop!
- 4-5 firm apples (red delicious, golden delicious or fuji)
- popsicle sticks
- 14 oz. (1 bag) of caramel candies
- decorative candies or nuts (smaller work best.... we like using Halloween cookie sprinkles)
To make your homemade caramel apples, first wash and then dry the apples. Remove any stickers too! Firmly press a single popsicle stick into the top of each apple.
In a medium saucepan, place unwrapped caramel candies and stir in 2 tablespoons of water. Melt slowly over low heat, stirring frequently. If desired, you may want to add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Stir well. Test the caramel by allowing it to run off a spoon into the saucepan. You'll be able to determine your desired consistency. Fairly runny caramel will coat the apples better and will solidify when cool later.
One at a time, take an apple and hold it over the saucepan. With young children, you should turn the stove off. Drip caramel over the apple, repeating until its coated. Hold the apple above the saucepan until the caramel stops dripping. Place onto wax paper. Decorate with nuts or candy. We found that rolling the homemade caramel apples in the sprinkles worked best.
Allow the caramel apples to cool and set - about 1-2 hours. Then, enjoy!
If you love the taste of caramel apples, then you must eat them for breakfast! Seriously, caramel apple french toast is a delicious harvest treat. Save it for the lazy weekends - enjoy it all the way through November!
For another take on homemade caramel apples, check out this spooky video with Sandra Lee:
I'd better go - I think the apples are ready for eating now!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Now, while we'd all love a day at the spa, or a weekend away from the kids, you really can find a way to take time for you, without too much effort. My favorite "me moments" usually involve my camera and a quiet setting. On Wednesday this week, I took an extra 20 minutes before heading into the office and visited gorgeous Drake Park (pictured above). The fall colors were out and the weather was sunny and cool. I walked around, shot about 30 photographs, and then - with a big smile on my face - went to work.
I'm certainly not advocating that you ignore important tasks with a hedonistic, "I love me" approach! The honest truth is, however, that many people lack true happiness in their lives because they don't do enough self-care. Determine what is missing in your life. Take time for you to pursue your passions, whether they include reading, gardening or exercising (or all of the above)!
Did you take too much time in reading this post? Don't go away yet. Spend a few more minutes relaxing with the sounds and sights of nature:
Now, do this regularly and you'll find your happiness improve when you make it a habit to take time for you!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Taking off on the LOL Catz trend, this clip shows hapless dogs in costume, silly situations, and being tortured by cats (or Catz?) Surely the creators of videos like this have better things to do than to put these poor funny dogs on display. No? Well, that's OK with me. I had a great laugh. Hope you did too.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
But in all seriousness, if you want to have something to legitimately complain (or gloat) about for the next four years, then you'd better exercise your right to vote.
What are the basic requirements to be a legal voter? Very simple:
1. You must be 18 years of age,
2. You must register to vote,
3. You must be a resident of the county in which you'll be casting your vote, and
4. You must not be a convicted felon (prohibitions vary from state to state)
That's it! If you want to exercise your right to vote in this election and you are not yet registered, stop by your local post office, public library or Department of Motor Vehicles to see if you still have time to register. Many states do not allow same-day registration. Be sure to bring legal identification such as a driver's license and/or proof of residency (a utility bill).
America is at a critical point in its history - the economy, situation in the Middle East, and our future energy supplies all demand solid leadership in the White House. It has never been more imperative for you to exercise your right to vote. Don't leave your tomorrow in someone else's hands. Make your voice heard. Get out on November 4th and cast your ballot.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Looking for a tasty fall dinner that is fast and inexpensive? You've got to try this delicious pumpkin soup recipe! It only takes about 20 minutes to make, and you may even have the ingredients in your pantry right now. Even my picky kids love pumpkin soup - especially because they can help mix it up.
1 28 oz. (large) can of canned pumpkin
26 oz. of chicken soup stock (3 14 oz. cans)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1-2 cloves fresh minced garlic
1/2 cup half and half
2 cups cooked and chopped boneless chicken or turkey
1 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 14 oz. canned corn, drained
In a medium mixing bowl, combine canned pumpkin, chicken stock, and spices
Pour into medium saucepan and warm over medium high heat - approximately 7 minutes.
**Do NOT bring to a boil
In a separate saucepan, saute cooking oil, garlic and chopped celery
Add to soup base
Slowly stir in half and half and warm gently (again, do not bring to a boil!)
Finally, stir in corn and chicken or turkey - warm to taste
Garnish with sour cream and chopped parsley if desired
We enjoy pumpkin soup with homemade zucchini bread - another family favorite. Feel free to experiment with pumpkin soup.... add new ingredients or alter things to taste. The basic canned pumpkin, chicken stock and cream base provides a great place to start. Bon Appetit!
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I thought I had seen all the Sarah Palin videos until I came across this one by David Letterman. Enoy a message from Sarah Palin:
Isn't Sarah Palin just adorable? How many weeks until the election again?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Certainly, many Americans have plenty to worry about right now though. Even my own job is potentially on the line with cutbacks and economic doom hanging overhead. So, how do I get through my days? By following these 10 ways to change your attitude:
1. Love trumps economic security. That's right. I may be poor in pocketbook, but I am rich with friends and family who care about my well-being.
2. I have an education and unique skills. The government may tax me, and the shenanigans of Wall Street may deplete our retirement accounts, but no one is getting my brain!
3. Reading is a cheap entertainment alternative. Thanks to public libraries and even stores like Barnes & Noble, I can always browse through enjoy a great story (usually free of charge).
4. Homemade is better than store-bought. This goes for both food and gifts. Eating at home more often is better for you and actually less expensive. Presents are more meaningful when they are created with your own talents, than purchased at a department store. Perhaps its time to learn to crochet?
5. As Erma Bombeck pointed out, the grass is only greener over the septic tank. Yes, its kind of funny, but what makes that grass so green after all? Stop envying what the neighbors have and think about the crap they might have to go through as a result... Reality check, right?
6. You can always imagine a scenario worse than your current plight. When we had twins unexpectedly (bless their hearts, we do adore them), my husband and I always said... well, at least its not triplets! Same thing with my diabetes diagnosis... its not cancer!
7. No funds for a vacation? Get to know your local community better. Be a tourist in your own town and make it a goal to explore 5 places that are new to you.
8. Help someone less fortunate. It is cliche, but it wouldn't be on this list if it didn't work. Take your unwanted items to Goodwill, help out at a food bank, or even spearhead fundraising efforts for a cause close to your heart (March of Dimes, Habitat for Humanity, etc.)
9. Steer the negative energy from worry into positive steps to improve your future. Tell yourself that you will make 3 phone calls a week with potential employers or business leads. Get out in your community and be visible. Promote yourself! Worry tends to spiral our thinking around in large part because we're obsessing about things. Act, don't think!
10. What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger. I figure that I am getting a kick-butt workout just about everyday in this regard! Stronger and stronger by the day...
A bonus number 11 in the list of ways to change your attitude. Watch the Last Lecture by Randy Pausch - a dying man, he lived the last days of his life with grace, peace, and love:
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Do you love the beauty of tigers? Have a hankering for owning your own piece of the wild? Perhaps you want to get your own mini-tiger.... a Toyger, to be specific! One of the latest in exotic domestic cats, the Toyger is a breed that combines beauty and grace. Like another popular exotic breed, the domestic Bengal cat, Toygers are somewhat dog-like in characteristics. They love to play in water, chase balls, and follow their owners around the home. Toygers can be taught to walk on leashes, they enjoy baths, and some can even be toilet trained!
These mini-tigers are not only beautiful, but specifically designed in an effort to preserve the intrigue of wild counterparts. Like Bengal cats, Toygers are developed from a cross-breed of domestic cats with the Asian Leopard Cat. The primary developer of this special exotic breed is Judy Sugden of the EEYAAS Cattery in the United States. Her hope is that, by the time the wild cats are nearing extinction, their domestic counterparts will be perfected for ownership - around 2010.
The TICA (The International Cat Association) formally recognizes the Toyger breed and has set forth specific characteristics for judging. The following traits are found in the best examples of Toygers:
-long tail and body
-rounded ear tips
-shiny, shimmery coat with "broken" stripes
-high contrast between stripes and under color (black markings preferred, but some are brown or tan)
-white patterns above eyes, in lower face, and whited ears (bright "head lights," like a tiger)
-circular tiger-like cheek markings
-brown/gold color coat (no other colors allowed)
-some coats are "glittered," appearing as if they are dusted with gold - these are especially beautiful.
Depending on how many characteristics your Toyger may have, and whether or not he or she will breed, the price tag for a kitten can range from $500 to $2000 as pets, and $1500-$5000 for breeding/show quality. Like the domestic Bengal Cat, the Toyger is highly trainable, loyal, loves water and can be somewhat dog-like. It can be a "talkative" cat. An excellent pet, they get along well with other animals and children.
Toyger Breeders are attempting to create resemblances between the domestic breeds and their wild "muses" not only with respect to body and markings, but even with movement! Toygers are said to move with purpose, grace and elegance, much like their wild tiger "cousins."
If you decide to add a Toyger to your family, note that they will require very similar care to ordinary cats. Food, water, toys and a litter box are all key things to purchase. Veterinary care is largely similar to other domestic cats. Be prepared to spend both time and money on your new family member. Also, as a final note - do not adopt a Toyger or any other pet unless you are sure to have the time, money and energy to devote to a pet. Clear any health issues (including allergies) beforehand. And most of all, be ready to fall in love with your unique Toyger!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Its my favorite time of year - fall! The air is crisp and cool, and the trees are turning brilliant colors. Oh... and its almost Halloween! My oldest son's birthday is October 31, so this is an especially fun, celebratory time of year at our house. Probably our favorite activity is carving Halloween pumpkins. Last year, my kids got a book called Extreme Pumpkins. I don't know who comes up with this stuff, but there are images of pumpkins eating bloody stuffed animals, cannibal pumpkins, and headless pumpkin people. It is wildly funny! Last year, one of our Halloween pumpkins was an evil gourd chomping on an innocent bunny rabbit. Don't even ask me how we made the "blood." (corn starch, water and lots of red food coloring)
Being as this is an election year, there are even more frightening options available for your Halloween pumpkins. How about a Sarah Palin jack o'lantern? Right down to the updo and glasses, you can use special stencils to create your own Alaskan masterpiece... or maybe the starting point for your creativity. Even if you can't see Russia from your own doorstep, you can have Governor Palin keeping watch for you. And maybe that is the most frightening thought of all! Happy Halloween - and enjoy carving your own Halloween pumpkins this season.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
But back to grandmother's basement.
Grandma is a bit of a packrat. Perhaps, a "packhorse" may be more accurate. The basement of the house in which she lived for over 65 years (she bought the place before marrying my grandfather) was filled to the brim with food, doll clothes, papers, books, shoes and presents. Gifts that family members had given them, but were not used. Gifts that grandmother bought, but never gave, still in their original boxes with price tags attached. Grandma is still with us on this earth, but it felt as though she had already passed as we went through her things and tried to organize everything for when the day comes that she joins Grandpa in heaven.
We are trying to save money. Grandmother's basement has two freezers and a huge pantry of nonperishable goods. The family decided to empty the freezers so we could turn them off and save on electricity. The food in the pantry would be divided among family and excess could be donated to the food bank when it was still good. We donated 10 brimming boxes of food to the local food bank. Grandma's garden (over 1/4 acre) provided a bounty of beans, fruit and more. Each year, Grandma spent hours canning and preserving the food for the winter months. There are still 4 shelves filled with canned food, and many, many empty antique canning jars. We will have to get back to deal with those.
As I loaded up my station wagon with several trips to the Goodwill and local food bank, I found my eyes welling with tears. My grandparents grew up in the Great Depression. They saved everything because they had to. Now, it seemed so wasteful to take boxes and boxes of things that they never used out of their home. Of course, it felt wonderful to give things to those less fortunate. The cook at the Food Bank called out "God Bless!" as we left the second load of groceries with them. I only hope that those who shop at the Goodwill store in Lacey, Washington will be grateful for the Tupperware and more that we donated from Grandmother's basement. May we never know the pain and distress that our ancestors did.... I hope its not too late.
As I drove back home today, I thought about my grandfather. With the stock market losing 40% of its value in the past year, he would surely have advice for me and my family. Grandpa was a smart man - sharp right up to his last days. I sure miss him, and the happier days.... when I could wander down to my grandmother's basement and not be haunted by ghosts.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Parade organizers are begging for donations so that the show can go on. A mass email to community supporters was sent out asking for ANYTHING - $10, $50, whatever we can spare to keep the magical Bend Christmas Parade alive this year. Just think how many parades $700 billion could fund....
Parades, Wall Street and Congress aside, I am quite worried about the direct effect the credit crunch crisis will have on my family this holiday season. We have four children, ranging in age from 5 to 11. Three out of four of them still believe in Santa Claus. I wonder whether we will have to explain that many of Santa's elves have been laid off and cannot make the kind of toys they are requesting. Our gift budgets will undoubtedly be tighter this year. And there is not enough holiday magic to change that situation in the near future.