Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Swept Away

Alex's Rental House "Mom, are you sitting down?" are the words no mother wants to hear, but hear I did on Monday of this week when my 24 year son called from Oak Harbor, WA where he moved four months ago to fulfill his dream of becoming a ceramics teacher. As both of my children went away to college I had told them to find what they loved to do and chase after their dream.  My son always loved creating and was a born teacher.  With degrees in Ceramics, Painting and a Masters in Education my son interviewed for a year and half for a job in our home state of Missouri, but with money to fund art education being cut he was unable to find a position.  So he looked elsewhere and found his dream job in Oak Harbor, WA.  He was offered his current job with less than two weeks to move and get settled before school started.  He flew out to Washington and found a house to rent.  He was ecstatic with his new job and his home which allowed him views of Puget Sound.  The great views that would end up causing the phone call on Monday.  A strong storm blew across the Sound with strong winds and high waves.  He left for work on Monday morning and shortly after received a phone call from his landlord that the waves had come up and engulfed the backside of the house.  All of my son's possessions were swept into the Sound and he was left with no place to live and only the clothes that he was wearing that day.  But the best news was that he was at school teaching the students the subject he loves and wasn't in his bed which is now lost to the cold waters of the Sound. If you can spare a few moments, I would ask for your thoughts and prayers for my son as he finds a new place to live and slowly rebuilds his life and replaces the things he lost.  Thoughts and prayers of thanks to the community that is helping him out including his boss/co-worker who is providing temporary housing. After everything that has happened in the past couple of months here in the U.S. and this situation that hit home, I have to say, Parents, embrace your children and be thankful for their health and safety.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Big Bang Theory Flash Mob

If you like Big Bang Theory, or even not, here is an entertaining flash mob from one of their tapings.  It’s funny because it includes many of the people who run the show.  Let’s just hope some of these guys stay behind the camera from now on. 
Now all I can think about is doing my own flash mob at work.  Or probably not.  But what fun to work somewhere you can get away with something like that.

You can read more about the background of this at Hollywood Reporter here

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Surfing for Sweet Treats

Sarah_Jamie_lovemadevisible-534I found this wedding cake on a website that apparently is run by a husband/wife photography duo out of South Africa. The photos of the weddings are extremely beautiful and well set. But I was just thinking how great it would be to have a Rice Krispies Wedding Cake like this couple. Of course, as addictive as those little treats are I’m afraid I’d make a fool out of myself and want to eat the whole dang cake. You would find me under the table just crunching away on the layers. I’d feel guilty, but I just wouldn’t be able to help myself.

Sweet Potato Creme Brle
As my husband was watching football on Sunday with my house quiet after all my guests left from the holiday I found this recipe that made me swoon. Sweet Potato Crème Brulee, yum. If I had found this last weekend, it likely might have been on my Thanksgiving table. But hey, Christmas is just a few short weeks away and I can definitely try it out then. So if you wish to check it out as well head over here

Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday Shopping

After we’d eaten our fill of turkey, dressing and potatoes, it was time to relax.  I did not participate in the Black Friday madness on Thanksgiving evening.  I actually had to get to sleep early so that I could get up and go to work.  But apparently at midnight the Herald Square flagship store of Macy’s opened and had a crowd of 11,000 people waiting outside.  Really?  I cannot imagine being in this crowd.  How do you even move in the store with that many people.  It seems like a good place for a pickpocket to hang out. 
With so many people out of work and the economy suffering I just worry about those individuals that went out on Black Friday, shopped local on Small Business Saturday and who are sitting at their computers today clicking for Cyber Monday.  It is too easy to be caught up in the “good deals” and holiday excitement. 
However, I am not immune as my daughter and I did get to J C Penney at 6:00 a.m on Friday morning.  We had a little bit of time to shop before I had to get to work.  My daughter had looked through the ads and wanted to go here to check out some of the specials in clothing.  I thought I’d check out the $8 Toaster Oven, but I wasn’t desperate for it.  We walked in, checked out what we needed with purpose and walked right up to the checkout.  It was 6:15 when we walked out of the store. I didn’t get the toaster oven, but that’s okay as it might have ended up on the shelf with my crock pot trio from last year.  But we did score some nice scarves and a purse my daughter wanted.  We put our purchase into the car and went back in and watched the other shoppers.  People were standing around trying to figure out how to get their stack of 20 small appliances to the front of the store.  People were back in the shoe department with no place to sit and try on the specials, but many walked away with three or four pairs of boots.  I had to wonder if these shoppers had that many gifts to buy or if they were planning to sell the items on EBay or at a flea market.
By the time we left 20 to 30 minutes later the lines were to the back of the store. But we still had time to go to Nike and make a purchase in the empty store and then a trip to the donut shop.  Here is where we got the best deal of our time together.  We spent some time alone together sharing breakfast and discussion before I had to be at work at 8:00 a.m.  My daughter is growing up. She’ll be in her last semester of her undergraduate career in January and I love spending time with her and seeing the woman she is becoming.
So we had a few purchases that my daughter was thrilled about, spent some quality time together, didn’t lose any sleep, nor did we have to wrestle anyone to the ground. And because we were not caught up in overzealous purchases, we don’t have to worry about a bill next month that we can’t afford to pay.  So have fun shopping over the next month, but remember, if you don’t have the money to spend opt for simple pleasures like time alone together which forms memories and bonds you together more than a DVD player or cheap television.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Laughing Away the Darkness of Daylight Savings Time

The days are shorter now. My mood is lower now.  So I must find some funny now.  I have never been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, but my mood has always dropped to basement level whenever the sky is black by the time I get home from work.  So the past couple of weeks I have been trying to find positive and/or funny things to keep my mood up.
One of my easy go to things is to watch anything Sophia Grace and Rosie. These two young ladies were discovered by Ellen Degeneres and spend a great deal of time entertaining her fans with visits like the one below.

And spending time here in the workplace area just makes me laugh – I’d love to buy a ton of this stuff and put in my little cubicle at work, but I’d probably get fired.  So I just enjoy and sometimes share with my co-conspirator or b#*ch buddy at work.  But I’m sure you might enjoy these as well, unless you work at the perfect company.
Funny Workplace Ecard: Helen Waite is our complaint manager.If you wish to file acomplaint please go to Helen Waite!

And this one is for all the people on my team at work:

Funny Workplace Ecard: Thank you for sending me all those emails that I had clearly already been copied on.

Now I’m just counting down the hours until a paid day off for Thanksgiving:

Funny Thanksgiving Ecard: How you feel the morning of Thanksgiving Day!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Demise of the Ding Dong Dealership

Today there was a terrible incident that caused the death of Twinkie the Kid, King Ding Dong, and Captain Cupcake – all registered trademark friends of Hostess Brands, Inc.  These were iconic characters from my youth and yours.  And that’s likely one of the reasons that the company had to fold.  While I enjoyed these items in my youth and when my kids were packing lunches for school it has been years since I’ve purchased these treats for  myself.  I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve had a Hostess or Dolly Madison product in my house.  Oh that’s a lie, I just remembered that they make the donettes that my husband and I pick up at the store every two or three weeks – Crap, what will we do now?
In their official announcement of closing here, Hostess Brands, Inc. stated on Friday, November 16, 2012 that it was winding down operations and requested permission from the U. S. Bankruptcy Court to begin selling off assets.
In news reports the company has stated that it will likely sell the brands, so our favorites might be back, but will we buy them?  Hoards of people are rushing to the stores to pick up the product before it sells outs.  I’m not sure if it’s because they wish to savor the products or if they will be trying to off-load them on internet auction sites or at flea markets. 
I have memories of the brand from my youth going with my mother to the production bakery in Wichita, KS.  With the aroma of fresh baked Wonder Bread in the air, we’d pick up bread and some treats and always Hostess Fruit Pies for my dad.  I can remember those being packed in his lunchbox all the time.
Back then when you bought Ding Dongs they were wrapped in thin aluminum foil.  After you unwrapped the product, you could make designs with the wrapper or you could ball it up and throw it at your classmates.
The product everyone is talking about in the news are Twinkies, but I was never a big fan.  My preferred choice was the Raspberry Zingers.  That mix of raspberry flavor with the coconut covering was delish.  But it has been over five years since I’ve bought a box of Zingers and now they are gone – perhaps forever.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Already

Sweet Potato CasseroleWith Thanksgiving hitting on the earliest day of November it possibly can (the 4th Thursday in November with a November 1st Thursday starting off the month) I’d like to tell you that I am already thinking about what to fix.  Although in my family it’s pretty much the standard menu of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green been casserole, pumpkin pie and anything else we decide to fix in.  We’re hosting some family this year and it will be the first year without our son who will not be coming in from his job in Washington State.
So while perusing recipes online, I did come across this set of unusual recipes from Cooking Channel that I thought I might share:  Some of the mashed potato recipes look yummy.  And some sweet potato recipes look good, but I may have to stick with my favorite on this and just cook the yams with brown sugar, butter, and melted marshmallows on top.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day

November 11th is Veterans Day.  The date comes from the fact that an armistice was declared during World War I between the Allied Nations and Germany on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. For more history – please see the following link -
All that we hold dear as Americans is a result of our veterans and their service to our country over the years.  Remember our veterans today.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Book Review – Where We Belong

In Where We Belong Emily Giffin introduces us to 36 year old Marian Caldwell and 18 year old Kirby Rose. Marian is a television producer living in New York City ready for her boss/boyfriend to propose and start their life together full-time. Kirby has just turned 18, is in her senior year of high school, and is not sure she wants to attend college as her parents hope. The story reveals how these two women are connected and takes the reader on an exploration of their lives and what results from their meeting. I found myself much more invested in Kirby than Marian.  I kept reading the book to find out how things worked out for Kirby and would be interested to read another book that follows her into the future. I’ve not read Giffin before so I cannot compare this book to any of her others. I know her name and recognize the cover of her books because of the way her publisher has kept the designs consistent. I read an excerpt from this novel that was attached to a short story that was available for free download on Amazon to my Kindle. I downloaded the short story, but was more entertained by the excerpt from this novel. When I finished the excerpt I turned off my Kindle and logged into my local library website. The book was not released yet, so I put myself on the reserve list. The book was a quick read and the last four to five chapters kept me turning the pages to find out the ending. The book was entertaining and as my first Giffin book, I may give her another try in the future.

The book is available from Macmillan and is available in audiobook format as well.  To hear an audio clip click here:

This is the same excerpt that I read on my Kindle download that hooked me to get the book to read in the first place. If you have difficulty getting the clip to load from the blog, copy and paste the link to your browser.

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

River Road Drives

Fall is absolutely my favorite season. I don’t celebrate fall by decorating my house. You won’t see Halloween decorations or my house festooned with mums. But I do love the look of the season and the changing colors all around. One of our favorite activities in the fall is to take drives to see the foliage around our area. This past weekend we took Highway 79 beginning in St. Charles County, Missouri north. Over the years, we have traveled this route for short trips just a few towns up the road and even driven all the way to Iowa for an overnight trip. More often than not, we typically will end our trip in Louisiana or Hannibal. This trip takes us through small towns. This trip we noticed that many of these towns are losing out to the troubled economy with empty storefronts and closed signs. However, the small town of Clarksville is still vibrant with a variety of artists and furniture makers offering up their wares in quaint shops. There is also a lovely little riverfront park that overlooks the Mississippi River.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

You Want My Vote?

I don’t know what is more annoying – and they both have been happening since September – political calls since August asking who I’m going to vote for in November or Christmas decorations before October 1st. At my house we still have a regular land line. I know, I know, we must be old geezers. The phone line comes included with our cable/internet package and we get free long distance so I can call my brother who doesn’t own a personal cell phone. Wait, who is the old geezer here? Good, my brother is worse than me. Okay – so now on with my main complaint. My phone rings at least twice a day with someone wanting to know, “if the presidential election were held today, yada, yada. And I feel bad, but I tell every one of them the same thing, “I will not talk politics with you.” Then I politely say goodbye and hang-up. My stance is that I do not even tell my husband who I am voting for so I sure as heck will not be talking to some yahoo at some call center. Most of these callers are very pleasant and accept my refusal easily, but the other day someone hung up on me before I even finished my calm response. Here is the thing – I will find out what I want about the candidates, bond issues, propositions, etc., and I will make my decision and place it on election day – but your phone call is not going to change my decision and, in fact, your call might tick me off enough that I will abstain from voting if you were my choice. Don’t hang up on me, yahoo. So Political Action Committees take my number off your list unless you simply don’t care about getting a vote from me, especially three months before the actual election.  At least wait until the leaves start to change, thank you very much.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vanilla No Bake Cookies

Warning: These cookies are full of sugary goodness and very addictive. 
When I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. This recipe calls for Chocolate Pudding but it said you could change the flavor with different flavored pudding mix, so I decided to try Vanilla.  I already have a different recipe that my family has used forever for Chocolate No Bake cookies with cocoa and peanut butter that has been a favorite of my family while I was growing up and now that I have a family of my own, they enjoy them as well. 
The only problem with both of these cookies, the one listed below and the original chocolate recipe I use, is that they are so rich that you cannot eat more than a couple without getting a kind of sick feeling in your stomach – however – it doesn’t seem to matter because they are so good you just keep going back for more despite the discomfort - the enjoyment to your taste buds is worth it.
  Vanilla No Bake   Easy No Bake Cookies from
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 (3.9 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Mix together the sugar, butter or margarine and the milk in a large pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes.
  2. Turn off heat and add in the dry pudding mix, oats and vanilla. Mix well and let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Unreal™ Product Review

Recently while shopping at Walgreens on my lunch hour in the candy section – who doesn’t look in the candy section for an afternoon treat? – I came across an unusual packaged candy. I didn’t pick it up, I just noticed it. Then a couple of weeks later I saw the same candy advertised in the ads in my Sunday newspaper with that same unusual packaging that made me take notice. The candy was called Unreal™. I went to my computer and looked them up on the Internet. This is where I became educated about the brand and more interested in it. Click here to see more about them: The brand became an idea for a father and son when they saw all the artificial ingredients in chocolate candy and decided to develop a candy with no artificial ingredients, no hydrogenated oils, no corn syrups, no preservatives and no GMOs (had to look that up, folks), it means genetically modified organisms. The result is Unreal™, the Unjunked™ candy. For this review, I was provided with the product to test, however there was no compensation involved and I am giving you my honest opinion on these items. Again, I was intrigued as I am a diabetic, but I love a bit of chocolate every so often and with the make-up of the Unreal™ chocolate there are less sugars and carbs in their bars than a nationally known name – see an example from their website below: I was sent a sample of the UNREAL41 Candy Coated Chocolates and the UNREAL54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanut as well as UNREAL8 Chocolate Caramel 2012-10-05_11-51-40_71Peanut Nougat bar and the UNREAL5 Chocolate Caramel Nougat bar. Both my husband and I tried the chocolate. I am a milk chocolate fan while my husband prefers dark chocolate.  At first glance, when I opened the candy coated chocolates that were similar to M&Ms, I immediately noticed the candy coating was much more subdued and earthy than your typical candy whether it be name brand or generic. The texture of the chocolates was much the same, although I think the candy coating was a little thicker. I did not do side by side comparison, so my thoughts are based on memory. The flavor was good and I would consider buying either of these. My husband said he actually preferred these chocolate pieces to M&Ms. Next we tried the bars. The two bars I tried are compared on the Unreal™ website to Milky Way and Snickers. These, while they tasted good, were not my 2012-10-05_11-59-32_947favorite. I like a Snickers bar and have had Milky Way bars even though they aren’t my favorite, but I found that the Unreal™ bars were a little dense in the nougat area. In fact, I would say these chocolates were much more like chocolates you would find in bite size pieces in a cardboard packaged box at holidays. Again, the flavor was good, but the nougat may need a little more work with perhaps a little more air in the product to 2012-10-05_12-02-29_629be compared to the name brand bars. However, when comparing the sugar and carb content, the Unreal™ bars would be the healthier choice for my diabetic self. The company does offer a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup as well, but I was not provided this for review. And my only suggestion to the company, other than my suggestions about lightening up the nougat, would be to come out with a match for my favorite bar of choice – the Baby Ruth. Currently Unreal™ chocolates are available at many of your local retailers including those mentioned above. I would recommend you try these out if you are looking for a chocolate that doesn’t have ingredients that you cannot pronounce or have to look up on the internet. Check your local candy aisle if you would like to try the Unjunked™ candy – Unreal™. Product for this review was provided to me free of charge and the opinions herein are my own.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Happy Wedding Day!

Today my big sister gets married.  I wish her and her groom all the best as they start their life together. 

My advice after being married for 26 years, remember marriage is just like a job – you both have to work at it – but the rewards for the time and effort you put in are truly worth it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

“Amazing” Reality Show

There have been 20 seasons of The Amazing Race and Sunday night started Season 21.  Even if you aren’t a huge reality television fan, this show is fun and different.  My husband and I have not missed a season since it started.  We love watching the travel and the tasks.  We will watch the show and play along.  We make our choice of tasks and then as we watch them we decide if it was something we would be able to do or if we made a bad decision that would likely cost us the game.
We will typically resist choosing a favorite team because the few times we’ve done that from the first episode we’ve typically been disappointed with the behavior of the couple after a few episodes.  So we won’t tell you our favorites right now, but they may come up in discussion at a later time.
With the road trips that we have taken over the years, we have experienced many of the stresses with one person navigating for the other.  We’ve just never done it for $1 million.  Or as they’ve bumped the prize money this year, $2 million.THE AMAZING RACE
I think the reason we enjoy this show so much is that if you fail and end up off the show it is basically your own fault.  It’s not a popularity contest, there is very little game play, and the only outside forces that could cause you issues is with transportation.  There is no situation where the other teams decide to vote you out. If you hit the mat last, it is totally your fault. 
So for the next several weeks we will plan our Sunday nights around “The Amazing Race” and enjoy travels to interesting places around the globe that we will likely never see in person, but we can experience them through the culture and interaction of the contestants with the locals.
This morning I read an interesting interview in the Los Angeles Times with the married couple who developed and produce the show, Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri.  You can read it here:,0,5018694.story.  And Bertram and Elise - let me know if you have any job openings for location scouting as I'd be up to the task.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Wishes Across the Pond

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite people – my friend, Alison.  Alison is a native of Great Britain and the County of Kent.  I met British CultureAlison at least 12 years ago when I commented on a forum post of hers.  I loved her wit and being a true Anglophile I loved sharing the common interest in Eastenders which was being shown daily on BBC America.
We’ve stayed friends via email, regular mail and with our visits to London.  She and her boyfriend, Dom, have even hosted our son on a visit after he graduated from high school. 
Readers – enjoy some iconic images to celebrate my favorite Brit. Some photos are linked to stories and/or travel guides to London.

Alison – Have a fantastic birthday!
British Museum - Shakespeare: Staging the World  

A traditional British Cornish pasty

Monday, September 24, 2012

The View from There

PhotoAs I told you a few weeks ago, my son got a last minute offer to teach school in Washington State.  He left within a week of the offer and has been teaching for a couple of weeks now.  When I talked to him by text the other day (new technology, huh?) I asked him how it was going.  He told me that he goes into work an hour before classes start so he can prepare for the day and that he loves his job.  He also apparently loves his rental home, because he posts a photo like this on his Facebook almost every night – the view from his couch in his living room.
Everyday I think how happy I am for him. And how I am jealous of my 24 year old. I changed roles at work several weeks ago – no promotion, no raise – just a different role that was supposed to be handling reporting and analytics and responsibility for one location.  However, instead of just that, as a result of the arrival of a baby, co-worker having surgery and a couple of vacations, I have conveniently been assigned not only my new assignment but taking on the responsibilities of all of these individuals.  I’m salary so once again I’m working for free as I’ve been putting in tons of overtime.  I went into work once this week at 5:00 a.m. – not because I wanted to like my son does at his job – but because there was absolutely no way I was going to get everything done by my Friday deadline unless I spent extra time at the office.
I tell you this not to gain sympathy, but to encourage us all that somewhere out there is our joy, a job that we would enjoy getting up for each morning and not mind going to earlier than necessary.  And that it is possible to have that dream view of the world from where we are sitting.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ahoy Matey!

September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day!  So go ahead and lift your tankard and visit these sites to celebrate.  See the offer from Krispy Kreme if you are game for free donut(s). Pirates of the Caribbean
Apparently there is even an official website for the day and they are celebrating the 10 year anniversary.

For that donut offer see the link below and as always it may be worth a call to ensure that your location is a participating location.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pasta con Broccoli

2012-09-07_17-45-34_195 The following recipe has been adapted from a recipe that my son brought home from Home Economics or Food and Consumer Science as it is called today. I made both of my kids take this in high school so that when they were on their own in college I wouldn’t have to worry about them starving. Our daughter was home this weekend to take her GRE so she can start applying for internships and graduate school. When I asked what she wanted for dinner on Friday night she said, “Pasta con Broccoli would be good.” As I stated we have adapted this recipe over the years for what we like and we typically double it for a family of four with leftovers for lunch for a couple of us. This is a very tomato saucy and cheesy recipe versus the soupy, milky kind you will find from the national chains. Pasta Con Broccoli (and again I will typically double the recipe below) 8 oz. medium shell noodles 1 tea. garlic salt (you can substitute garlic powder) 1 can sliced mushrooms 2 cups half and half ½ 15 oz can of tomato sauce ½ cup parmesan cheese (we used the green sprinkle can brand) 4 Tbl. margarine 1 cup cut broccoli (frozen) (I typically will add almost the whole bag for bulk) Salt and pepper to taste 1. Cook noodles until mostly done, strain, – al dente or firmer as the noodles will continue to cook when added to the rest of the ingredients. 2. Place half and half, margarine, garlic salt, tomato sauce and broccoli to the pasta pot and add the pasta back in. Bring to a hard boil. 3. When noodles are cooked to your preference, typically just a minute or two into the hard boil stage, add mushrooms and stir. 4. Remove from the heat and add parmesan cheese. 5. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Ready to serve.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Charleston Final Thoughts

I highlighted our hotel, the French Quarter Inn and Bocci’s Italian Restaurant, in previous posts, but I wanted to highlight a few other things with our trip to Charleston. We made most of our moves by foot. However, there was a free trolley that operated down in the historic district, but we found the timetable never had the trolley cars in the area we were in at the right time and it was easier just to walk. We did take a tour of the bay area by just riding the water taxi round-trip. We had thought about getting off at the Charleston Harbour Resort, but once we were there it didn’t look that exciting and the crew told us it was a mile from the resort to anything on Mt. Pleasant to eat other than the restaurant at the resort.  The taxi stopped at Patriot’s Point where there is an aircraft carrier you can tour, but since we’d just toured Midway in San Diego we decided to skip this as well.  On our afternoon trip on the taxi we enjoyed the bay, but we did not see any dolphins. Thinking that we couldn’t travel to the East Coast without having seafood we tried out two different restaurants in our budget. I’m not a huge seafood eater so we didn’t go to Hank’s Seafood which appeared to be a much more upscale eatery. Instead we had lunch one day at A.W. Shucks where the food was edible, but nothing to write home about. This place reminded me of Joe’s Crab Shack. Another afternoon we tried out Hyman’s Seafood ttp:// This place had ads on all of the tourism guides for a free crab dip appetishrimp and gritszer and we’d walked by it several times. On our last afternoon, we decided to stop in here and give it a try. The free crab dip was very disappointing. I tried the Carolina Shrimp and Grits. I ordered an appetizer portion as I wasn’t very hungry. Carolina style comes with a parmesan cheese sauce on the grits. It was basically something I felt that I should try since I’d read so much about shrimp and grits being a southern specialty. While it was somewhat tasty, I cannot say that I would rush out to get it again.
That last night we had the wine and cheese at the hotel and decided to forget about dinner and head to Kaminsky’s,, a wine and dessert bar.  Here the husband ordered a Cappuccino Float 20120805_201215and I ordered a Berry Cobbler which was a large dessert served in a French Onion-type soup crock. I was only able to finish part of this and took the rest back to our room for a late night snack. 20120805_201251
We ended our trip in Charleston the next morning.  We were sorry to leave this lovely area, but happy to be getting home.  At the time, we didn’t realize how much the rest would get us ready for the busy next few weeks with our son and his sudden move for his job.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day!

This American holiday started as more than just a day off work or as an extended weekend to get shopping deals.  The holiday was created to celebrate workers contributions to the health, prosperity and success of our nation.  To read more about the history of this, please check out the Department of Labor’s website here:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

All By Myself

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity at our house. As I posted previously, our son received a job offer to teach high school ceramics in Washington State. I didn’t do much but try to stay out of his way while he packed his essentials. On Saturday afternoon my husband and son packed the car and left early Sunday morning for the 30 hour drive across the country. They arrived safely and will begin settling our son in to his new cottage by the sea. I didn’t make the journey because I would only take up space in the car that was packed full with things the boy would need to survive for the next year. Instead, I’ve been doing something I haven’t done in over 26 years, sleeping in my own bed alone. With my job, I travel overnights occasionally and I’ve traveled with my mom and sister away from my husband, but he has never been away from home for more than a couple of days and I always had the children to keep me company. So with my daughter at school and the husband traveling with my son I have been relaxing. No need to ask anyone what they might like to eat, I just fix what I want. No need to get out of my pajamas on Sunday or no reason not to put them on when I get home from work. I’ve been watching old British TV dramas and some reality T.V. shows. I think I could get very used to this. Last night our cable provider lost service for a couple of hours. Since they provide our internet service as well, I went upstairs to my bedroom and curled up in the oversized chair next to the bed and, I read for several hours before going to bed. The house was so quiet with no distractions or feeling like I should be sitting with the husband talking and/or watching Cardinal baseball. When was the last time you had the house all to yourself for an extended time? What did you do to take advantage of being “single”?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hip Hop Queen

Do you think this was a French Connection hoodie?  I think that would have been a hoot!

I’m imagining it was this one in gray.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What A Voice

I am sitting here scanning through the channels and I came upon Planet Earth on BBC America. We have these discs on Blu-ray and have watched them, but I have to say, that narration by Sir David Attenborough just makes you stop and watch. The pictures are amazing and there is nothing better than listening to Attenborough. His voice is so regal and attention getting. Here in the U.S. we have James Earl Jones and his powerful voice, but that English accent wins me over every time.
Click on play button and then click on link to You Tube within the window.

If I had a voice like that, I would never shut up.  Of course, those who know me, probably think that I never shut up now.  How can I learn to speak like that and where do I sign up to be a voice-over artist?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dreams Do Come True

Our son was an honor student in middle school and was invited to a program at Truman State University for advanced learners. He went to the program two summers in a row and his second summer he chose to study an art program where he discovered his love for artistic endeavors. When our son entered high school I told him to take classes in everything that interested him, including art. I expressed to him my desire that he find something he truly loved that he could make his career. My whole concept of finding something that they love has been something that I’ve expressed to both of our kids over and over again. I have worked many years at a variety of jobs but I have never had that joy of getting up in the morning to go to work at a job I love. Instead, each morning, I hit the snooze alarm and get out of bed at the last possible second to get ready for the day. My son went on to college - opting to go back to Truman - where he enjoyed those summer programs. He planned to become an art teacher which required four years of study. But late in his freshman year he called me excited to tell me that his counselor told him how he could get his bachelor degree in an art program and then follow up an extra year and get his Masters of Arts in Education. Through his diligence, in May of 2011, he left school with three degrees (BFA in Ceramics, BA in Painting and his MAE). He then began his long and arduous search for a job as a high school art teacher in Missouri. He substitute taught and interviewed again and again but always got the call that he interviewed well, made a great impression, but they decided to go another direction. He branched out on his job search and waited. Two and a half weeks ago our son was ready to give up on his dream when he received a call from an application he had filled out for a ceramic teacher position. They scheduled a Skype interview a couple of days later. He felt the interview went great, but he had been in this position before, so I was worried he would be disappointed again. But he received a call the following day with a job offer. So now, six years after beginning his journey to become a high school art teacher, he has achieved his goal. His father and I are extremely proud and are only disappointed that he has to move 2,100 miles away to the State of Washington. He will be leaving in less than a week and I can say that I’ve never heard him so excited about something in his life. He has prepared and endured hardship to reach his dream and all I can ask is that this ends up being everything he hopes it will be and that he can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning to get to his job. So if you have ever questioned whether dreams can come true my son would tell you, yes, they do.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bocci’s Italian Restaurant - Charleston

Bocci's Italian Restaurant I had been to Charleston 15 years ago with my sister and remembered a quaint Italian restaurant where we had eaten. The restaurant had French doors lining the front of the building and on that May night they were thrown open to enjoy the cool breeze. The night was alive with excitement as it was graduation weekend at The Citadel and the cadets were out with their families enjoying meals in their dress whites. On our recent visit, I had hoped my husband and I could find the restaurant, even though I didn’t remember the name or the exact location. Luckily enough, while strolling the area around our hotel our first night, we happened upon a street front Italian restaurant with the French doors. I am not positive that the ownership is the same, but I told my husband that was where we would go the next night for dinner – Bocci’s Italian Restaurant So Friday night we walked half a block from our hotel to the restaurant without a reservation and we placed our name on the list with a 20 minute wait. The area was busy with tourists strolling the streets so we were able to sit outside on a park bench and watch the people go by. After a short wait we were shown to our table and looked over the menu. We’d been walking all day and were quite hungry. First on the list was an appetizer. We had never eaten arancini but I had seen a blogger post once about it being her family’s favorite Italian appetizer. Arancini Aranciniis an Arborio rice ball made with sausage, parmesan, risotto and mozzarella, fried and served with marinara sauce. We enjoyed this and a couple of times during our trip mentioned that if we couldn’t decide on what to have for dinner any night we could just order up an appetizer each, but alas we never did because we always seemed to find somewhere else to try in the exciting historic district. For dinner we had Chicken Picatta and the Alfredo. Both entrees were very good and we enjoyed our meal here greatly. The restaurant has quite a bit of seating but it is very close together. We had a vacationing family sitting Chicken Picatta right next to us and I could hear every bit of their conversation which can sometimes be annoying. The only issue we had with dinner was that our waitress came by and asked how everything was and we mentioned that one of the mussels in the Alfredo wasn’t cooked enough to steam it open. The waitress appeared to be going to see about doing something regarding this but only Alfredoappeared later with the check. I would have liked to have some resolution as an unopened mussel is just like finding a clump of pasta all globbed up together and inedible. But all in all, we enjoyed our meal and the food. As we are not drinkers we did not have a bar tab to add to our evening and were able to get out of the restaurant for under $60.

Monday, August 13, 2012

French Quarter Inn – Charleston, South Carolina

Last week my husband and I were able to get away and have a truly relaxing vacation. We booked our travel through and found a great old hotel across from the City Market in Charleston, South Carolina. We typically like to stay at nice hotels when we travel. It’s French Quarter Innbeen 20 years since we’ve stayed at a place with a number in the name. We typically like the Hilton brand of hotels or Starwood Hotels. So we chose the French Quarter Inn Most vacations we take are planned down to the last detail. This time we decided that we would make no plans and just fly by the seat of our pants. As you can remember from a post a couple of weeks ago I’d been disappointed by not getting a promotion at work. I am one of those Type A personalities that cannot leave work at the office, but I was going to try my best to forget about everything. Well, I can only say that being greeted at the front desk at check-in with a glass of champagne sure starts a vacation off right. The French Quarter Inn is a small boutique hotel with three floors of guest rooms. Stairs from ground floor up Our King room was charming with ample space including an armoire, desk with chair, armchair and small table with two chairs. The furnishings appear to show wear, but I believe they are reproduction pieces meant to appear like old French antiques. There was an in-room fridge and safe. The bathroom had black and white tile with modern furnishings. The only negative of our visit was in the bathroom where the bottom of the tub was scratched and there was dirty grout or mold in the corner by the tub. King Standard
King Standard

En Suite Restroom
We took a rest in our room and late in the afternoon went down to enjoy wine (four varieties) and cheese (Swiss, cheddar and pepper jack cubes, boursin spreadable) and crackers as well as grapes. This is served every evening and a great snack before a late dinner. Also available at that time were the drinks that are available all day long in the common area in the lobby. These beverages include coffee, hot tea, two flavors of iced tea, water and lemonade. For a sweet treat there were pitchers of M&Ms and Jelly Bellys.
The location of the hotel allowed for us to move throughout the historic district on foot and when our legs became fatigued and we needed refreshment from the heat and humidity we could make it back to the hotel, pour a drink, and return to our room to put our feet up for a few minutes or relax in the lobby. This allowed us time to catch up on the Olympics in the middle of the day, cool off and go back out for lunch and afternoon activities, and View from Room 205then return again prior to dinner as well. The front desk staff was superb. They were very friendly and very informative. We gained information from them and several times while relaxing in the lobby saw them deal with guests requests including dinner recommendations and reservations. The clientele during our stay ranged from young families to older travelers and foreign travelers from Ireland, Germany and France. All guests were treated with great care and consideration. In the evenings we had no problem getting to any type of restaurant within a couple of blocks. We enjoyed a lovely Italian meal that was a short block away from the hotel. Most meals we had were within less than three blocks from this hotel. And when we returned to the hotel each night we were delighted to find fresh baked cookies and milk for a snack before bed in the lobby. breakfast in the courtyardEach morning we were able to enjoy a lovely continental breakfast with pastries, croissants (ham/cheese, chocolate, and almond), bagels, toast, cereal, yogurt, fresh fruit and hard boiled eggs. Three different juices, two types of milk, coffee and tea were available to drink. Other amenities that we did not take advantage of were free bicycle rentals, a pillow menu, and umbrellas if youfree bicycle rental face a day with rain. When I started our vacation on Thursday, I had been experiencing pain in my shoulders, neck and head. Within the first two days, this experience had relaxed me enough to have relieved the stress and pain. Some of this may have been from the comfortable bed at the hotel. At first we were worried as the mattress felt very soft, almost too soft, as we climbed in the first night, but each night I was able to sleep through until morning and wake with no back ache. This is not always achieved when traveling and staying in a strange bed. Now we just need to find out what mattress the bed had as we were missing that comfort when we returned home. We would definitely recommend this hotel if you are planning a stay in Charleston. And if you don’t stay here, we would still recommend the location as it was easy to get to all the shopping, dining and historic areas of the Charleston peninsula.