Friday, September 30, 2011

Sick Dog

I got a call at work yesterday from my husband. Lucy, our Great Dane wasn’t feeling well.

Now, to be honest, our dog is mostly healthy, with the exception, of course, of her allergies, yeast issues, ears and eyes. Okay, so maybe not so much. But she rarely passes up the opportunity to drink gallons of water at a time or eat whatever food crosses her path. Apparently yesterday, even though in the morning she ate her breakfast and drank her water for me, she was lethargic most of the afternoon and evening. Even this morning she is acting more the same. Hmmm…

And so it got me thinking what could have caused this malady? That’s when I realized that a couple days ago I had been casually throwing out food for the chickens, stale bread and old (but not rotten) tomatoes, and she may have gotten into some of it when I let her out to go potty. Looks like a certain doggy will be coming to work with me again today!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Yesterday was my day off. I didn’t intend to spend so much of it reshaping and prepping the front yard pond.

First off, let me explain that the original person who dug this hole apparently didn’t understand the laws of gravity, as it is in a sloped area. Secondly, they dug a rectangle the approximate size of a shallow grave which makes me wonder if this hole’s purpose was for a pond as the landlord suggested or instead to dispose of a body. With that being said, it was obvious we had to do something to make this work.

 The first thing we did was dug out a shelf around the edge of the pond for the liner to rest on and used the dirt as fill since neither of us wanted it to be so deep. Then we ran into the same problem as before, in which it is sloped. I suggested we have two levels with a waterfall between them and my husband had no idea how that would even be possible or work. So after he had given up and took the dog for a much needed walk, I leveled off the two spaces and created a dam between them. In theory this should work. In practice, however, it may just completely fall apart. We’ll see when we put the liner on.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thinking About Halloween

Halloween is going to be different this year. Being in another house is just one reason.

With October just around the corner, it’s time to start planning for Halloween. Of course, we left most of our Halloween decorations at the old house which in turn meant that they were cleaned out ten days before we were told to have everything out so I don’t know exactly what we have left. Bitter? No. Okay, maybe a little. Bastards. Anyway, it is time to go through what we have and figure out if we’re going to decorate or not.

Part of me is all for decorating, as we’re in a new neighborhood with lots of kids, but another part is thinking it might be overkill given our financial situation. I don’t want to have a bunch of decorations out in the yard and then have to leave the lights off because we can’t afford candy to pass out. And being in a neighborhood versus a busy street without sidewalks or streetlights means more Trick-or-Treaters which means more candy which means more money we don’t have in the first place.

And so the dilemma continues. Do we man up and decorate for our favorite holiday (even though there is nothing holy about it) or do we pretend to be hermits and ignore it? Alas, a most difficult decision indeed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

From Screwed to Serviced

Do you ever have days that seem to go from bad to worse? Yesterday was that day for me.

Yesterday on my lunch break I went out to my car and noticed that one side looked lower than the other. At first I thought, hey, what a peculiar optical illusion! But then reality hit and I realized that indeed, I had a flat tire. Fortunately the Les Schwab Tire Center where we get the tires replaced on our cars is literally across the street from where I work, so I drove it over to find out if it was just low on air or if there was a hole in the tire that needed repaired. Of course, being the middle of the day it was busy.

After waiting for them to get to me, I finally heard my name (well, my husband’s name anyway as his name is on the account) and the gentleman was kind enough to inform me that there was a screw in the tire and the hole was too big to be repaired. The first option he gave was to sell a new tire for what would have been half price based on the remaining tread. Normally I would have gone this route because that is a good deal and these tires are expensive, but our bank account says otherwise and I told him I can’t afford it. He said he could either put the spare on and send me on my way or see if they had a used tire in the back, both of which would be free. I opted for the used tire, which they had, put on and handed me the keys.

I couldn’t tell you how many times I thanked the guy, but I do know that it is service like this that keeps me coming back to them. Now if only I could figure out how in the heck a large screw got into the tire?

(By the way, a ton of other things went wrong yesterday, but looking back on it now the Les Schwab experience made up for most of it.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dogs and Cats and Piss, Oh My!

Yesterday our male cat decided to start spraying and this morning our dog decided to leave a huge puddle in the kitchen. What the hell is going on?!

I’m not sure what stress the cat may be under, but my husband is ready to get rid of him. I’m sure it is because he is kind of a brat and doesn’t get along with our other cat or the dog, but then again none of our animals get along with each other. I cleaned out the cats water fountain and my husband cleaned out the litter boxes thoroughly, so hopefully if one or both of those two things were the culprit that will take care of the problem.

The dog on the other probably still has a urinary tract infection. Hopefully. Perhaps we need to do some blood work to rule out anything else. Blood work equals money, and money is something we don’t have. Ugh. I guess there’s just no way around it, however.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


With us having friends over for dinner tonight, it means we will need to clean. And make the house smell like anything other than what it currently smells like.

We have animals, and with them comes their peculiar odors. Between the cats and their cat smells and the smells that are associated with their litter boxes, and our dog with her dog smells and various skin allergies and all the smells associated with that, along with the fact that this carpet is ass-nasty and still has a funny smell after being professionally cleaned and deodorized, our house is full of randomly unpleasant smells. There is only so much Febreeze one can use on the soft surfaces.

And so now the dilemma is to locate the candles and various other nice smelling devices to counteract the not-so-nice smells that were probably hastily packed away without reference on the outside of the box as to what lies inside its cardboard compounds. Nice. Although this could work to our advantage as there shouldn’t be too many of those boxes left in the garage. Perhaps a quick peek will unveil the happy smells. I hope, anyway. Wish me luck.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Desperate Housewife's Quilt: Block Seven

Paper piecing kicks my ass. I also blame not having a sixty degree ruler.

Me being me, I tried to simply use my straight ruler’s sixty degree mark to make my cuts. Honestly, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. So then I decided to make a cardstock template for the smaller triangles in the block which made tracing and cutting those out a breeze. Now if I were a smart person I also would have made a larger sixty degree triangle for the other pieces. Instead I puzzled over the ruler until it finally hit me to just cut out a rectangle from a folded piece the correct length and width then cut across diagonally to get one full and two half triangles. Genius. Now, if only this didn’t take an hour to figure out. Of course, listening to Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York album may have been more of a distraction than an inspiration.

Once all the pieces were cut I said to myself, “This is going to go together like a breeze!” I was alone in the house, but even if I wasn’t, me talking to myself out loud is nothing new. I made my first line of stitching, then my second and third then ripped the last two out because I had not actually put them in the proper place. Most people know I have a really hard time following directions, however, after I figured out proper placement (and actually using the folded lines that I spent all that time folding per the directions) the rest went together fairly smoothly. Of course my math was off on the larger pieces and I ended up cutting them about an inch and a half too big. Oh well, better to have too much than not enough in the world of quilting!

(The Desperate Housewife's Quilt can be found on Jane's blog at

Friday, September 23, 2011


Do you ever come up with a brilliantly evil plan and can’t wait to execute it? I’ve just conceived one.

Since the old house is back on the market, albeit as bank owned, my husband and I checked out the pictures online. Needless to say it was all cosmetic and doesn’t look like they addressed the bigger issues such as the mold or even the lake under the house. However, after checking the website there is a place to link your blog if you’ve blogged about this property. I am so tempted.

Perhaps I should link up all of the blogs about mold, mildew, standing water under the house, leaking roof that drips into both the garage and the kitchen out of the ceiling vent, the fact that you can’t burn a fire in the fireplace and any other damaging information. Or perhaps I should just let it go. I mean, the bank, while still owning the property, will eventually make back all the money thanks to federal guarantees and once the house sells will be making a hefty profit, so it isn’t at all surprising that they have it listed for fifty thousand dollars less than we owed. With that being the case, what would be the point?

Of course, the best part about it is that it comes with a two year warranty. That’s nice. I mean, I could wait until someone buys the place and then tell them all the issues that the house has, but by then a home inspector will have gone through the house and probably noted at least half of the major problems. I know the one the bank sent last time when we refinanced was on crutches and had leg braces so he couldn’t go up into the attic or even check out under the house, so hopefully the potential homeowners will hire somebody who can actually do an inspection.

As much as I’d love for it to remain on the market for years, it is a cute house in a great location with a large yard, so the chances are slim. However, with that being said, it is on a major road which is about to have some major construction going on for the next few years. Location is great, but traffic nightmares are not so much.

The healthy thing to do would be to let it go. Why bother airing out the dirty laundry of the past? I suppose the main reason is that I could possibly, just possibly, consider this as an act of kindness to any potential buyer as a way of letting them know just what they are getting themselves into. Who am I kidding. I’m evil.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Now What?

Just when you think life has one plan for you something goes awry and changes everything. Hardly ever does it turn out for the better.

With it coming up on almost a month since the boys’s mother has bothered to contact us and the crazy lesbian aunts holding them hostage, I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever see them again. While part of me is okay with that, as it will mean far less drama to deal with, a very large part of  me is not. I’ve come to think of these boys as our kids over this last year and to suddenly have them yanked out of our lives makes me both sad and angry at the same time.

However, with that being said, I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet. The other day my partner asked one of the aunts via text message if we could have the boys the next weekend because we miss them. A little over six hours later we got a response that they didn’t want to. This isn’t at all surprising because over there they get cookies for dinner and watch movies and television all day. What kid wouldn’t want that over having a structured day where they have to eat their vegetables and brush their teeth and actually use the toilet to pee instead of wetting their pants?

I guess now is the waiting game, but for how long? When is giving up the best option? As tempted as I am to simply take over any of their stuff we have over here and just leave it on her doorstep, a small part of me still thinks there might be a glimmer of hope after all. Albeit, I don’t know how much longer I can hold onto it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ode to Dog Baths

Ode to Dog Baths

Oh Lucy, my Dane
Why must thou protest
Every time I bathe thee?

Is it fear of water
Or soap in thy eyes?
Or perhaps you simply hate me.

But once in the tub
Thou is quite calm
And without much fight.

Until after I rinse you
And you leap out the tub
As if a bird in flight!

Wet and dripping as you are
I try to cover you
With a towel dry.

But alas, thy strength
Is that of twelve dogs
And you escape my pry.

Shake as thou might
The walls and myself
Are covered in thy rain.

If only thou knew
As I laugh at thy goofiness
Thou could never cause me pain.

Now quiet and content
Dreaming of cats and cheese
You lie upon thy bed.

It is now time for sleep
And with a gentle touch
I kiss thy sweet and soft head.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Preparing for Fall

After Fall comes Winter and we all know how busy that can be. Why not get a head start before the weather takes a turn for the worst.

With Fall quickly approaching and Summer obviously over here in the Northwest, it is time to start thinking about putting stuff away and preparing garden boxes for next year. Of course, we’ve still got quite a bit of growing time left for lettuces and radishes if you want to start a late season crop. I don’t think I’m going to do this again this year as I really think it would be best to reconfigure the garden boxes around. I’m also thinking of stacking two of the boxes to create a deep one for tomatoes and eggplant next year. Of course, I’ve also been tinkering with simply condensing the garden space by putting the boxes together into a longer row. I think the design would work better here with the limited space.

Another thing we need to do is finish cleaning up the backyard. Since we moved in there has been stuff there that, well, shouldn’t be. It’s time to clean it up and pretend like we live here now. While the front yard is looking better, it will need another thorough weeding before the weather changes too much and I don’t want to go outside for any longer than I have to. At the same time I know how I am. I’ll be lucky if I get just one thing on this list done.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Desperate Housewife's Quilt: Block Six

Yesterday before watching the Emmy’s I decided to tackle another quilt block. Mission accomplished.

I put this block off for so long because, well, sewing curved pieces scared the bejeezus out of me. As it turns out it isn’t so difficult. I mean, it wasn’t a walk in the park or anything, but certainly by no means the, “Oh my gawd, how the hell am I supposed to do that?!” I thought it would be.

The Emmy Awards started exactly thirty-two seconds after making my final stitch and taking a picture of the finished product, so I’m certain that if I didn’t finish when I did the block pieces would still be sitting next to the sewing machine eagerly awaiting to be pieced together. I only had puckering on one of the curved pieces and that was only because I decided to see what would happen if I sewed really fast instead of slowly. The end result isn’t very noticeable, but it was the last of the curved pieces and I didn’t feel like ripping the seams or cutting out new pieces so I decided I could live with it. Now I suppose that means I need to play catch-up again since this was the block that was holding me back, huh?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Coffee or Potluck

When life makes you choose between necessities and frivolities, sometimes the lines get blurred. Especially when coffee is involved.

While at Costco the other day acquiring supplies for my famous macaroni and cheese, I realized I was also low on coffee. Suddenly the cost dilemma came into play. If I were to buy the coffee, we would severely diminish our food money for the month, but if I didn’t everyone around me would be severely punished. What is one to do? I took the high road and we left without it. My reasoning? I was fairly certain I still had some left that I hadn’t transferred from the bag to the container next to the coffee maker. I was wrong.

In the short term this is a good thing as everyone at the potluck yesterday raved over my macaroni and cheese because it really is that good. Seriously. I mean like, “Damn! Who made that macaroni and cheese? It was the best!” good. I’m not bragging or anything, but I do know how to cook. In the not so long term, however, this could turn disastrous once I run out of the precious elixir of life and have to resort to (GASP!) Folgers at work.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Less Naked

Vaulted ceilings suck. I’m just going to go ahead and throw that out there.

After going through what artwork we have left, I decided on the three Van Gogh prints for the living room. At one point we had ten but the other seven were either unsalvageable or not worth saving. Living in a house infested with constant mold problems will do that, so when we moved I opted to only take the good ones with us. Besides, the ones we took were also framed.

Anyway, trying to decide on placement was a challenge. We have our sofa currently against the tallest wall in the house and every morning I blog I see it, this vast open space begging for a splash of color and interest. So instead of try to clog and clutter the area, I thought that by simply placing the artwork where I would normally place it had the ceiling been lower, it would draw the eye downward. Of course, maybe I’m just not used to it yet because now the space looks even emptier since putting the print up! Okay, maybe emptier isn’t the word, but perhaps accentuates the size of the wall more by putting yet another thing on it to emphasize its massiveness.

So herein lies the dilemma; I can either leave the artwork where it is or I can come up with another plan that will cover a larger portion of the wall. My original thought was to make an art quilt and use it as a wall hanging, but I don’t know how I’d feel about that since I think of quilts as usable and functional pieces. Even the baby quilts I’ve made for family and friends were intended to be used as blankets until they outgrew them and then could be hung from the walls, although some people only used them as wall art and that’s sad.

Quilts are in many ways story tellers themselves with all the memories and scars of life, and without the element of using them for a purpose, they never gain a soul and personality. Not that I’m saying that inanimate objects necessarily have these attributes, but, unlike a print, you can cuddle and play with a quilt. Yes, this increases the chances of stains and tears, but that only adds to the character of it.

Alas, it appears as though I may need some time to think about it. Maybe what I need to do is actually start quilting and stop talking about it. What I need is for the kids to be here to keep me focused. It’s funny, but I always thought that having kids would be a hindrance to my creativity, and since we haven’t had them in a while my creative side has severely diminished. Yes, they are exhausting, but worth every minute we get to have them in our lives.

Well, it appears I’ve gone on enough tangents for one post. I’d have taken a picture, but honestly, it is just sad to see the lonely print of Van Gogh’s Irises above the couch. Maybe it will just take time to get used to it all.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Naked Walls

I’ve been staring at these bare walls for far too long. It’s time to hang some artwork and pictures up on them.

The nakedness is finally getting to me. In the living room, the hallway and especially the bedroom. I’m talking, of course, about our naked walls. Since we moved into this house in a few months ago the only artwork we’ve hung is in the kitchen and that was because I was hoping that by starting the process I’d follow through in the rest of the house. It didn’t happen. Instead, months later, we still have a mostly barren and unadorned house. This isn’t for a lack of available artwork and framed pictures as our garage is full of such treasures, but rather a lack of actually wanting to do the job.

The dilemma, as far as I can tell, we moved from a house we lived in for, well, since the day Princess Di passed away until her son Prince William got married. In that time we managed to acquire and relinquish a multitude of cheap artwork replaced by better artwork. Working at Crapmart for a majority of that time also meant that I had almost daily access to super-cheap picture frames, and thusly have an assload of those as well. While we have dwindled our collection down over the years, we still have quite a bit of wall art. Why is that a problem, you may ask? I’ll tell you… artwork overload. Yes, the problem for my naked walls is actually choosing which pieces to hang and which to keep stored away or get rid of.

So hopefully today on my day off I’ll find some time to get at least the living room done. However, if not, you can safely assume I wasted, I mean spent it all quilting.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


As a kid I thought I’d be the best author and illustrator the world had ever seen. As an adult I see the value of life experiences developing both.

Lately I’ve been toying with getting back into writing and illustrating children’s books. I don’t know if it is because I’ve given away a few of the ones I did when I was a kid lately for baby showers and Christmas presents after having a small batch printed or because we acquired a couple of part time kids ourselves, but the bug has bitten. I think I’m ready again, and it is a weird feeling because I haven’t been ready in a long time. Of course that means it is just another hobby to cut into my growing list, but if anything, I’m at my most creative when I’ve got multiple projects to work on. Then again, I’m at my least creative when I’m overwhelmed, so I also need to figure out a way to keep everything in check.

My parents, all four of them, encouraged me to explore my creative side, which is probably why I have so many different interests now as an adult. It’s funny how as a kid where you think life will take you and how once you get closer and closer to adulthood reality has other plans. I’m sure that if I were another person with ambition and focus I could have taken those childhood dreams and made them reality, but that just isn’t me. Setting goals and sticking to them is only a recent addition to my psyche and it is taking time to develop. That requires patience, something I had an abundance of in my younger years that I sorely lack now.

So in between quilting, developing a new line for my Etsy shop and figuring out how to continue my cake business while working (and updating my website while I’m at it), I plan on working on a new children’s book as well as finish the illustrations for one I revamped seven years ago. It has been seven years since my muse passed away and time for me to move on and find my inner muse instead. I miss my Grandma S. terribly, but her memory shouldn’t stop me from fulfilling my dreams and in fact should have just the opposite effect. And so, with that, I’m adding another goal to my list and hopefully another checkmark on it soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Front Yard

Now that the weather has started to cool off a bit, I’ve been thinking about working on the yard again. Of course, thinking and doing are two very different things.

The plywood covering the grave in the front yard has been bugging me ever since we got back from Idaho. Okay, so it was bugging me before that, but has been especially so since talking with my husband’s dad about what we could do to make it work. Initially we were going to buy sand to fill in a little since it is a bit deep for a front yard pond, but I had a passing thought of filling in from the top a few weeks back and when his dad mentioned shoveling out a shelf all around and using that for liner support and fill, I was well pleased my passing thought wasn’t a dud. But then the thought of actually shoveling out a shelf sounds a lot more like work than an afternoon project.

Another thing I’ve got to work on in the front yard is whatever the damn trees are that keep popping up around the gravesite. I mean, there has got to be a root system somewhere around it that needs to be pulled or hacked or something because the little bastards keep coming back! I’m sure that with a little effort it wouldn’t be too difficult to locate, but alas, effort is needed in the first place.

If only I had a magic genie to do my bidding. Of course, with a magic genie I probably wouldn’t be living in this particular house with its particular problems and particular quirks. So perhaps instead of bitching about what needs to be done, I should just do it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I don’t know why, but the last couple days my brain has been on high school. Specifically, the friends I had and no longer keep in touch with.

People come and go in life, that much is certain. Friends you thought you’d stay in contact with forever go by the wayside either because of distance or differing interests and opinions. Yet friends you thought would just be passing through in a matter of weeks can still be in our lives decades later.

In high school, I had a pretty small but close-knit set of friends. But, me being me, rarely did anything outside of school. I only started coming out of my shell my senior year. Call it humor or call it coincidence, but about half of my friends were gay or lesbian and had either acknowledged that in school or shortly thereafter. Of course, by half, I mean three. Again, small set. I waited until I was in college and after meeting my husband before even admitting that I was gay to myself.

However, with the advent of college came the realization that most of my friends were leaving the area to attend school. Now, we all said we’d keep in touch, but none of us ever realized just how difficult that would be. I’m sure that if we really wanted to we could have, but such is life. We meet people in life when we are supposed to meet them and they leave when they are supposed to leave… well, mostly. I know a few people I wish would leave and I also know a few people I wish were still around. But to be honest, I’m thankful for the friendships and the memories, even if there are never to be new ones made with them.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back to Reality

Back to life. Back to reality.

Okay, so as soon as I typed those words, flashbacks from my teenage years popped into my head of listening to Soul II Soul, and subsequently En Vogue, sing the song of the same name. However, now that the out of town vacations of summer are over, it is time to do just that. Time to get back to work, back to cleaning, back to church, back to meetings and yard work and planning and decorating and quilting and everything else that goes along with life.

However, I must admit that a small part of me wishes we were still in Idaho. Even though I spend a good amount of time in the kitchen with my husband’s mom while I’m there, between that and the conversations that ensue are sorely missed once home. I feel so lucky to count them as family. But, alas, now it is time to get ready for work.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cake Versus The World

While most of the news coverage is focusing on the ten year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, I choose to focus on cake instead. Call me what you want, I just like cake.

Yesterday while trying to figure out a good butter cake recipe to make lemon cupcakes with, I ransacked my mother-in-law’s multitude of cookbooks. Figuring one that looked like a collection of old recipes from various folks in the south was a safe bet, I quickly flipped through it to find one called “Just Butter” Cake. The quotations should have been the first warning flag, but I read the recipe instead. Now, just so you know, I’m not a cake mix snob, but I wasn’t using a cake mix this time, so when the first ingredient was a box of yellow cake mix I should have simply shut the book. Instead, I read the remaining ingredients. Box of pudding, milk, stick of margarine, two teaspoons butter flavor… I’d go on, but really, this isn’t a recipe but more a lack of one. I mean, c’mon. If you’re going to call the cake “Just Butter” put some damn butter in it!

Alas, I closed the cookbook, set it aside, and grabbed an old standby, the Better Homes and Garden cookbook, and just looked for a basic white cake recipe I could alter. I’m still bad at remembering the baking powder/baking soda ratio, but I’ve got the rest down. After reading the recipe, I quickly altered where I could, doubling the butter, using lemon zest for flavor and the juice of two lemons for the liquid, adding just enough milk to reach the required amount. It was delicious. Of course, I may be saying so because I made it, but there were too many other people eating them and commenting on their deliciousness for it to not be true.

Cory’s Lemon Cake

2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter, room temperature
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of two large lemons
juice of two large lemons
enough milk to make 1 1/3 cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined. Set aside. Stir the lemon juice and milk together and don’t be afraid, it will curdle quite quickly. Trust me, it will be fine. Beat the butter and sugar on medium high until light and fluffy, about five minutes. With mixer on low speed, add lemon zest and eggs one at a time until well combined. Alternate the flour and milk/lemon juice mixture until just combined. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 24 cupcakes. Or fill two 8 inch rounds or a 13 x 9 inch and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out with just a smidgen of clinging crumbs.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Yesterday was my sister-in-law’s birthday. Today we’re making cupcakes!

Greta leads a pretty busy life these days. Once completely content staying home and watching Cops all day (followed by any other copycat show thereof) she now enjoys doing social activities with friends. So while we did come up for her birthday this weekend, she was too busy with her social group. Which is why today I’m making the cupcakes for her birthday party. Actually, we will be making the cupcakes, because in yet another surprise move, she asked if she could help!

And so this morning will be filled with the smells of sugar and butter, along with carrots and lemons, as those are the flavors she chose. It will be interesting to find out just how eager she is to help, but judging from yesterday’s excited inquiry, I’m guessing it’ll all work out great.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Late Night Drives

The best part of a late night drive out of town is sleeping when you are not the driver. I was not the driver.

Of course, trying to sleep while in the car sucks. Between my denim shorts pinching and prodding in all the wrong places, the dog twirling around as best as a Great Dane can in the back of a compact sedan, and the horrible air quality thanks to multiple fires along the route didn’t make for the best sleeping environment. That, and I really wasn’t all that tired. Oh well. We managed to make it to our destination in record time. Now, if only this coffee I’ve been drinking will kick in so we start our mini-vacation.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Funk Strikes Back

Just when I think I’m stepping out of the funk I’ve been in, the funk strikes back. Stupid brain.

It’s all in my head, that much I know. However, it affects my entire life. I don’t want to do anything but curl up into a ball and watch TV. Well, not really since there isn’t much on the television worth watching since it has become mostly “reality” television. If I wanted to watch a bunch of white trash people try to get laid I’d go to a family reunion.

Perhaps I just need to quit allowing myself downtime, because, well, it always gets me down. I sincerely doubt it is depression, though it wouldn’t surprise me if it was considering the crap we’ve been through the last couple years. Hopefully this weekend getaway will help.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Yesterday I paid our bills. Today we are broke again.

Paying the bills is like a bad dream you never wake up from. They are always there. While yes, it is nice to live in a more energy efficient house concerning the electric and gas bills, the water, garbage, internet, phone and car insurance all seem to continue to go up more and more. And this is definitely where getting paid only once a month has its drawbacks, especially when both incomes in the house are paid monthly. Because all of these bills are due at the beginning of the month, along with rent, we’re left with quite a small amount to use for gas, food and emergencies.

I suppose there is another way to look at it. I am using these services because, at least currently, I require them. Albeit, we don’t need to carry car insurance, however, the law says we do, and I really don’t want to deal with another nine-hundred dollar ticket for not carrying car insurance. Of course, that was also with an unlicensed car because it would not pass emission testing after spending hundreds of dollars to supposedly fix the problem. Still, it was my one and only time being pulled over and, while the officer was quite cute, I don’t want to go through that again, nor going to the courthouse to ask the judge to lower it (which, by the way, it did get lowered to three-hundred dollars after getting insurance and a temporary tag for the car.) Anyway, that’s me on another tangent. I use these services and therefore I should pay for them. I just wish they didn’t cost so damn much!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Desperate Housewife's Quilt: Block Five

I’m not exactly sure why, but this block seemed to really take a lot for me to complete. I am sure, however, that I overly complicated matters.

I don’t like raw edge appliqué… yet. Let me explain. Since I was a young lad, I realized that raw edges unraveled and fell apart. Ever since I have made sure to turn all raw edges of fabric in, sometimes double tucking for clothing items where the edge will still be exposed but not visible. So when I see all these quilts with raw edges, I cringe. I know that I am in the minority, as this rag-look is quite chic, but I can’t help it. I am, however, trying to overcome this phobia.

For the Desperate Housewife’s Quilt that Jane is hosting on her blog Want it, Need it, Quilt! ( I had quite a bit of trouble with Block Five, which called for a raw edged appliqué blanket stitched into place after being ironed on with fusible webbing. Now, in theory, the fusible webbing should hold all those threads into place, but I still don’t trust it. So instead I did what I usually do for appliqué work and hand turned it after using fusible webbing to hold it into place. I will say it was nice not needing to pin the appliqué pieces into place, but I still don’t know if I would trust it to not fray.

Perhaps it is time to let go of my fears. Perhaps I simply need to say to myself, “Get over it! It’s just fabric!” Perhaps I need to make another block using this pattern and try the technique Jane called for because I really love the look of this block. Isn’t it great?

Monday, September 5, 2011


For some reason yesterday, I was in the mood to try something I’d never made before. I love those days.

Looking at the growing heap of zucchini, eggplant and Brandywine tomatoes from our garden, I wanted to do something with them. Then it hit me: Why not make Ratatouille? So I opened up my trusted Joy of Cooking cookbook to find out if I had everything else to make it, and sure enough, I did. Not only that, but there was a grilled recipe too. Me being me, I used the basic ingredient list and made it my own. All I can say is, damn, I’m that good.

Of course, since I was making ratatouille for dinner, I figured it would be fun to also watch Pixar’s Ratatouille as well with our oldest boy. I don’t know if he got the message about trying new foods and not eating garbage, but liked the movie nonetheless. He also, after managing to finally take a bit of the ratatouille, liked it as well. Funny that.

Cory’s Grilled Ratatouille

Preheat gas grill to medium to medium-high, or charcoal to medium hot coals.

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

1 head garlic
1 sweet onion, peeled and quartered
1 medium eggplant, sliced about ½ inch
1 medium to large zucchini, sliced about ½ inch
1 large or two small red bell peppers
1 Brandywine or 4 Roma tomatoes

When grill is ready, coat the vegetables in the olive oil balsamic vinegar mixture and place on the grill, leaving the garlic, bell pepper(s) and tomato(es) whole. For easier release, I always spray my surface with nonstick cooking spray. Grill vegetables until done, anywhere from five minutes for the zucchini to twenty minutes for the garlic. Let everything cool. Peel the tomato and remove seeds if necessary before roughly chopping. Remove the peel and seeds from the bell pepper and chop into bite sized pieces.

When garlic is cool enough to handle, combine in a large bowl:

1 head roasted garlic, squeezed and mashed with skins removed
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 fresh chopped basil (or about 1 Tablespoon dried)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the vegetables into the finishing sauce and let sit for a few minutes to an hour before serving. Serve at room temperature.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Unexpected Family

When an unexpected guest shows up to a family function, it can go any number of ways. Now multiply that by a thousand when it is a family member.

Years ago a family controversy split my extended family apart. So yesterday when somebody from “the other side” showed up at my aunt and uncle’s house for Family Day, a lot of us were nervous. Well, nervous until we remembered “we” outnumbered “them” at this place.

Anyway, those fears seemed to be for not, as he was obviously much more nervous being around us than we him, and so we all did our best to make him feel welcome. I think the saddest part is that my cousin, the “them” in question, and my little brother K.C. were best friends growing up. Now seeing him all grown up, it makes me a little sad to have missed out on the last few years.

Alas, I’m hoping that this is only the first of many visits from “the other side.” Or perhaps, now that I’m thinking about it, not. There are too many wounds that still haven’t healed and continue to be rubbed with malice by some. I’m just glad my grandparents aren’t alive to see how this family has turned out.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dog Pee

This morning I woke up to a surprise on the kitchen floor. Needless to say, it was not a happy surprise.

Perhaps I am not giving my dog enough credit for peeing on the vinyl floor, a nice solid surface lacking absorption qualities like, say, carpet. However, she did this yesterday as well for my husband. Something is going on. Now, if I was a thinking person mere seconds after waking up in the morning I would’ve gathered up some urine in a syringe and taken it to work for an analysis. However, I’m not so much and, seeing that the mop was never put away from the day before, I grabbed it and began mopping. Something also tells me that this mop head needs a good long soak in a hot bath before I use it again because it just seemed to swish it around rather than, oh, I don’t know, MOP!!!

I suppose this means either restricting her water at night, as she did go out to go potty about eight hours before and she normally sleeps through the night, or perhaps more importantly, stop her from drinking the pond water. Either way, I’ll mention this at work (one perk of working in an animal hospital) to see what I should do, but I already know the answer will be to bring in a sample. Guess I’ll take home a better syringe than the diabetic needles we’ve got leftover from her allergy shots we gave her years ago and hope I don’t have to use it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hand Applique

When a professional informs you not to attempt hand appliqué because of bulk, don’t balk at their suggestion. They may just know what they are talking about.

Working on The Desperate Housewife’s Quilt Block Five (again) last night, I started the process of hand appliquéing some of the pieces onto the pieced block. Let’s just say that without the aid of a thimble my fingers are a bit sore. Not only did I fail to take into account just how much bulk there would be, what with turning the edges of the appliqué pieces and the pieced block onto which it was being placed on, I also failed to realize just how much heavier batiks are compared to quilting weight fabrics. Needless to say, I got schooled the hard way.

However, with that being said, I still like how the block is turning out, even if it is taking about three times as long to hand appliqué the pieces onto it. It is now starting to resemble something that is very much me in that the appliqué stitches are quite obvious and unevenly spaced, just like all those baby blanket appliqués I’ve been doing for years. I’m hoping that I’ll be finished with it tonight so I can start on Block Six, which looks far less likely my brain will try to complicate it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Quilt Block Blues

Do you ever start a quilt block and decide that perhaps it would be best to rethink the design slightly? I’m having those thoughts lately.

I’m currently working on Block 5 of The Desperate Housewife’s Quilt over on Jane’s blog, Want it, Need it, Quilt! ( and have been thinking that, while I love the design, I really want to incorporate my appliqué style into it, which isn’t much other than hand turned with obvious stitching. Therein lies the problem. I told myself to start this fifty blocks in fifty weeks thing (which, admittedly, I’m four weeks behind, but I’ll catch up by this weekend) to learn new techniques. So, what is one to do?

Okay, so really there are a few issues I’ve encountered, which, let’s be honest, I’m not all that great at following directions. So what if my block isn’t the right size and I need to adjust the center appliqué pieces to compensate? My other option would be to simply take the extra block pieces (it made twice as many as required) and start over, but I feel like that would be a waste considering the finished block is perfectly fine the way it is. Of course, it doesn’t help that Jane herself has been telling me she can’t wait to see what I do using the batiks I’ve chosen for this quilt, so perhaps a bit of performance anxiety is happening here too! Okay, so that is just an excuse, as her encouragement keeps me going.

And so I’ve made the decision to go ahead and use both the iron on fusible web technique combined with hand turned appliqué. Why? Because my blanket stitch sucks, and of all the various stitches available to me on my 1963 Singer Touch N’ Sew Deluxe Zig Zag Model 600 sewing machine, that isn’t one of them. The bulk should prove a challenge, but I shall overcome.