Sunday, October 28, 2012

Here We Go


I'm sitting here, in my nice warm (an well lit) house, enjoying a movie with my family as I check on friends who are on facebook and listen to my dishwasher run.

We were going to watch "The Day After Tomorrow" but the DVD has been misplaced, so we're watching "The Other Side of Heaven" instead. It was a better choice, I'm sure.
This may not be something I can enjoy for awhile after tomorrow for some time.
They are calling it "Frankenstorm."
It hasn't quite hit yet, but by tomorrow, it should be pretty awful.
They're evacuating parts of our town, I really hope our street isn't evacuated, even if it gets bad, I think we are safest here at home.
So far, it's very quiet here.

We are as prepared as we can be.
We don't have a generator, we ordered one after not being able to find one last week. It's due to arrive Friday, so it's not going to be of any help. I won't be holding my breath that it will be here by then, anyway.

We will make do.
We have water and have been filling ziplock bags & empty soda bottles with water and putting them in the freezer to help keep things cold longer if/when the power goes out.

We have  plenty of food.

We have a solid home, warm blankets and clothes as well as full tanks of gas in the cars.

The laundry is all done and so are the dishes, the kids have had hot baths and I made a double batch of whole wheat rolls and cinnamon rolls to help make meals easier. I used leftover frosting from the ward party on the cinnamon rolls. They look silly, but it's just food coloring.

Halloween and school has been cancelled by the town. The trains and public transport have all been stopped and New York City is for all intents and purposes "closed." I read somewhere that due to the sheer number of people who live here that 1 in 5 Americans  will be hit by this storm, it's a little hard to really put my head around numbers like that.

We've said our prayers and are hoping for the best.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

More Treasures

Last week I took a little break from everything and spent some time being amused at our crazy local thrift store again. I meant to find things to do Halloween costumes with, but I forgot to actually ask the kids what they were going to be first. 
So, I just looked around and snapped pictures of some of my favorite oddities there.
It's always an adventure at the Union Unique.


Did you have these on your tree as a kid? 
I almost bought them, and then I reminded myself that I didn't need them, and they would probably burn my house down. I can take a picture and still have the memory, I don't need to buy things just because they make me smile.
Unless those things are shoes.

I'm sure someone's mom spent hours on this little guy:


And here it is at the goodwill. 
John never appreciates anything.
John is a spoiled brat.

This one had googly eyes.


I don't know which one was creepier, the peach or the peanut, but the fact that they already have a shovel ready for some good old fashioned body buryin' scares me.

It doesn't scare me as much as this:


This probably belonged to John's sister. 
Their mother works so hard trying to give them nice things. They really don't deserve her.
Ingrates.

This game was 15 bucks:

 Probably the most expensive thing at the thrift store and I can totally see why. 
What's more fun than Granny Racing?
Oh yes, Granny racing :The Board Game.

I have nothing to say that is funny about this one, I don't want my words to take away from it's awesomeness.


 Dick Dastardly. 
Sweeeet.

 There were some great cassette tapes to choose from.



 MOTAB REPRESENT.
And look a little further, yeah, it's Gloria Estefan & The Miami Sound machine AND Ratt.
Ratt.
I KNOW!

It's a good thing we don't own a cassette player, or I'd have never been able to resist these.

Lastly, this beauty pretty much summed up my whole Unique Store trip:

Nothing says Hillbilly Homebrew like drinking your moonshine out of a tin mug.

None of these were any help in making this year's Halloween costumes, but they did make me smile.

Now I just need to create a Pikmin, a vampire and the 11th Doctor Who by Friday.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Let me start this post by making a big announcement:
We totally passed Troy Aikman on the sidewalk yesterday.
(After this a year that included Disneyland, a graduation and a cross country move-- we're trying to keep the rest of our big announcements this year within reason.)
He was walking on Park Avenue and we totally walked right by him and spent the next 2 hours smiling and saying "Troy Aikman!"
Add him to the loooong list of celebrity-ish people I have seen.
That list includes my spotting Matt Lauer in Central Park, Brandon Mull in Disneyland (Shh, he IS famous), Tom Coliccio at the metro station in DC and Romy literally crashing into Bill Murray at Midway in Chicago.
Why were you flying Southwest, Bill Murray? Why?

This week's blog prompt:
What are your favorite movies?
 I enjoy movies, but I'm not the one to go to when you want to share campy quotes or you want a buddy to catch the midnight screening of something.
I don't particularly enjoy going to the movies.
My favorite movies tend to be movies I have been able to enjoy from the comfort of my own sofa. I would rather see a movie at home any day than go to the theater. Even the big ones that we can't wait for, I have to confess I only go out to see them because I want to see it right away or other people in the family really want to go.

We saw this giant poster yesterday in the city.
Okay, I'm excited about that one.

I had read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings before they were movies, but they weren't life changing or even books I enjoyed. After the Lord of the Rings movies, it brought the books alive for me in new ways.
I think the reason why can be summed up in two words:
Orlando Bloom.
It's too bad I disliked everything else he was in after that except for Pirates of the Caribbean, and I think his performance wasn't what made whose good, I think Johnny Depp did that.


I am not a fan of romantic comedies. There are plenty that I have enjoyed, some great lines and scenes in a few of them, but I don't choose to spend my dollars on Julia Roberts or Reese Witherspoon movies.
I'd rather stab my eye out than watch pretty much anything with Kate Hudson or Jennifer Lopez in it.
There are actors that nearly ruin other movies because they have been in crummy romcoms. Hugh Jackman in Kate and Leopold....gross. I even liked him in Van Helsing, which was a super dumb movie but it took me years to forgive him for that boring drivel he starred in with Meg Ryan.
I remember when Meg Ryan was THE  rom/com actress, I use to actually watch that type of movie then.


She was good at it and I did enjoy her movies. I think that changed when she got divorced and started injecting the heck out of her face. Look, I hate getting older as much as the next gal, but not so much that I would get a totally different face. Botox yourself until you have sheet rock for skin, but keep the shapes the same, Girls.
I struggle to sit through most of your typical chick flicks.
I don't want to see anyone lip-syncing into a hairbrush while they rattle off lines that have become so cliche about love that I want to beat my head against the wall.
I get it, your dog is a better boyfriend than your man.
 Yep, all the good ones are gay.
 Ah yes, you don't want the pretty blond girl, she's secretly a shrew- what you really want is the quirky brunette that's been right there all along.
One more movie about someone who finds themselves and in the process... finds love, too and I'll scream.
 
(just kill me.)
Okay, I won't scream, but I'm not going to that movie. I think the last girl movie I actually chose to go see in a theater was "Hope Floats" and even Harry Connick Jr, in all his southern hotness could not make me feel like my money would have been better spent on Pokemon cards or a giant rubber band ball.

That is not the case with movies that have aliens/explosions/wizards/mutants/superheroes or the word "Star" anywhere in the title. 'Trek,'  'Wars,'  ' Gallactica'.....be still my heart.

 For every ounce of vomit I hold for Merryl Streep, I make up for it in unabashed love for Jason Statham, Daniel Craig and laser guns.
You have no idea how much I loved that idiotic move "Cowboys and Aliens." It was a near perfect blend of pointless explosions, special effects gunfights and bad guys from outer space.  I will totally put up with a really stupid love story as long as there is a good car chase and a building blows up before they protagonists swap cheesy pick up lines and have their predictable tryst before countdown.
It does need to be a 'guy' movie though- however dumb the plot premise is. Not a teenage romance that simply added characters with freak genetics. Twilight doesn't get a pass just because there are fighting scenes. If you are going to have an actress that walks around mooning over the males in the film that's dead behind the eyes, make sure she's dead the rest of the way by the end of the first movie.

It's embarrassing how low my standards are for an action movie and how much happier I feel after watching something so stupid than I am watching one of those life changing films that will win a bunch of awards. I want time travel, I want magic and robots, I want the laws of physics to be totally cheapened and mocked as I wait for the guy in the red shirt to die.

November 9th Skyfall will be hit theaters.
The Hobbit,  December 14.

The next Rachel McAdams movie?
Go away and get off my blog before I blow up your car, Yo.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hope for Brighter Days and Better Bagels


We love going to the local delis and getting salt bagels.


We've tried about half a dozen places to see what ones we like best.
Skolnik's bagels are horrible- vile and the place is filthy.
The Bagel Chateau...meh. They can be hit or miss and they tend to be out of the ones we like if we go after lunch.
Bagels 4 U are pretty good and the Bagel Stop has amazing bagels.
Bagels Supreme are my favorites.
I told you, we have become totally converted.
They aren't too expensive, either. I usually get a baker's dozen for 10 bucks.

The problem is that a baker's dozen tends to just be too many bagels for the family now. The salt bagels 'sweat' because of the salt and they don't keep as well as plain ones and they just don't work as a good snack unless they are super fresh. I'm too cheap to just buy half a dozen for 8 bucks when I get seven more for only two more dollars.
We do eat them, even when they have the consistency of bagel jerky.

I decided that they couldn't be too hard to just make myself. It's just bread that you boil, right?
I looked online and found tons of sites that said you can make bagels at home and they are super easy.
I am here to tell you that those websites lie.
My friend, Mindi, recently made bagels at home and they looked really good, she inspired me to try it myself.
I forgot that Mindi also has the patience to finish quilts and not murder her 6 boys, even though she goes to school full time and is a single mom. Mindi is kind of the bomb and I'm super proud of her and so thankful that's she has been my friend since we were in High School- and even then she managed to do things that amazed the crap out of me and make it seem easy.
I'm still waiting to see if she will adopt me, but since we're kind of the same age, I guess that would be weird.
This post has become weird, too.
Back to bagels.

I found a good recipe, it looked easy enough to follow.
I could do this....

It turns out that I couldn't do this.
They took forever to make and they looked insane.
They tasted fine, but not like a bagel. They tasted like a salty roll, and not a good salty roll. Like a roll you put salt on, that's all.
Not worth it.

Chalk this one up to another reason why I'd make a lousy pioneer if pioneers ate bagels.
I'm guessing by the quality of the delis in Utah, that they probably didn't.
That's okay because they have Lion House Rolls and raspberry shakes and I stink at making those from scratch, too.


In other news, the family who bought our house in Utah are absolutely adorable people. 
 The selling process was smooth and they actually bought the house 4 days after it hit the market. We have been so thankful and normally, when you move away and someone buys your old house, it's kind of like a closed adoption thing, you move on with life and hope it all worked out, but you just never know. 

Thanks to technology and facebook, it's easy to know more. I was looking at pictures of another Mindy's kids, our old next door neighbor, and realized they were taken in our old back yard. They were playing with the children of the family that bought our house. Every so often I'd get a text from one of my friends that would say "We miss you so much, but the new family is very nice, too." 
And that was good. 
Parts of it were hard, it was hard to accept that it wasn't OUR home- I wasn't expecting that to be as hard, but knowing that it was filled with laughter and kids running up and down those stairs, playing on our rickety old swing set helped. It helped to know, without a doubt that the right family was there and that it was absolutely the season for all of that to happen, not only for us, but for them and for the ward we love so much. 

During conference I got a text telling me that the father of the family was just diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. In recent weeks, more has been learned about his situation and oh, my heart breaks for them.
 This sweet family with a house as full of young kids in a new area. They are in a good place, they are in a home where miracles often took place and where the spirit was there (most of the time.)They are in a home where trials were faced and most were overcome, others were just endured but always we tried to live our lives with peace and the Holy Ghost. Always we included laughter and an understanding that relationships are fragile and you have to work hard and be as good towards one another as you could in order for them to stay intact. 
Lots of tears and lots of laughter. Way more laughter. Way more joy than sorrow and way more answered prayers and peace than nights of despair and fear. There were plenty of those, too, though. Plenty of times where the hopes and prayers of others are what got us through some of the darkest hours. Now I ask you, my readers to once again send your prayers and hopes to the big gray barn house with the red door on Chateau Avenue.

The prognosis is not good. The specific kind of cancer he has is called Plasma Cell Leukemia. 
He is a young father with a house full of sweet children, many that were brought into this eternal family through the blessings of adoption if I understand correctly. A different kind of 'blended' family but it touched my heart to know that they also found their family here on Earth and came together.

 Friends and family are doing a 40 day fast for John, asking that loved ones each take one specific day in the next 40 and fast for him. 
Our day is November 2nd. If you would like to join in the fast, I'd consider it a personal favor. 

 He started chemo yesterday. 
 I have never actually met this family and yet, I know them. We have a connection and already my life has been very blessed through them. 
 Please pray for John. 
 Please pray that they have comfort and more years of joy in that house, that they have the chance to build as many happy memories as we did, and even more.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Silly Mormons...

It's been a ridiculously crummy week.
I have nothing to say that doesn't involve bad words or complaining, so I will offer my readers this:







Stay righteous, my friends.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quack!

This week the kids got a surprise package from Grandma  and Grandpa O!


Fun Halloween treats and toys.


They loved the rubber duckies, that will forever remind us of Aunt Gail.

We have all of our duckies displayed in the bathroom, now we have a few new ones to add to the collection. I love having something fun to serve as a reminder of such a free spirited and bright woman, we think of Aunt Gail often and wish miles were not so long and time was not so short.

The kids loved the gifts and knowing that even though we are so far away, that they are still loved and thought of by their family in Utah.
I miss you guys, too. I miss the wee ones and I miss being able to just yak with Mom O.
I need to just call her.
I avoid my phone because when I speak to those I love and miss, I get too choked up and the conversation gets scatterbrained as I try to not just say "I miss you" 300 different ways and sound like a whiney boob.
But I do miss you.
I miss you more than 300 different ways, Maggie.
I like that rubber duckies are also now a reminder of you.


I've been spending a lot of my afternoons getting things ready for the upcoming Fall Festival at church. It's a huge event and I hope we can pull it off.
I baked 10 dozen sugar cookies yesterday, and I'll have you know I made them thick and soft, Caleb.
They are now in the freezer, waiting to be turned into pumpkins by the primary kids.

One of the different things about New Jersey life is that all three of the kids hate school lunches.
They all want lunches made from home, and I have to admit that there is a part of me that really enjoys assembling the lunches, putting in a little "Mom loves you" note in the bags of the kids who won't be embarrassed by that and having the kids bring a little part of my taking care of them to school every day.
Part of the fun is finding creative ways to save money and make the meals healthy.
One way is that I am making sandwiches with homemade bread. It's a lot heartier and better for the kids than Wonder Bread.
We also have noticed that the bread lasts a lot longer here now that the King of Grilled Cheese is away at college in Utah. The bread will go bad before we use a whole loaf, but if I make it myself, the kids are happy to have it in lunches and as a side for dinner.
Last week I made potato bread.
If you don't know this already, when you add mashed potatoes to your bread dough you get the lightest bread ever.  It's more airy than regular white bread and you also do not get a thick and chewy crust. I like a nice, buttery crust on bread, but for kid sandwiches, a load of potato bread is wonderful.
It's also really absorbent so it is a great bread to dip soups into (but not make bread bowls with.)
It doesn't taste like potatoes.
It tastes like bread.
Try it......

I used a recipe I found here:
Potato Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mashed potatoes
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-1/4 tsp (1 pkg) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 5 cups bread flour, about
In large bowl, mix together the mashed potatoes, eggs, and butter.
Stir in sugar, salt, yeast, and warm water.
Mix in enough flour to make a dough that can be kneaded by hand.
Turn dough out onto floured board and knead it until smooth and elastic.
Put dough in a greased bowl. Flip dough over inside bowl so that the dough top is also lightly greased. Cover and let rise for 1 to 2 hours, until double in bulk.
Punch down dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board and briefly knead out bubbles.
Divide dough in half and shape into two loaves.
Place loaves in two greased 8x4x2-inch bread pans. Cover and let rise a second time for 40 minutes or until doubled.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when the top is tapped on.