Friday, February 27, 2009

New Clothes! Looky!, Or Another Episode in the Continuing Saga of My Makeover

Welcome to another edition of "The Makeover Continues," starring your host, me, and the makeover-ee: ME.

First, I'll show you what look I was going after, and then I'll show you what I ended up with. But before that, an explanation is in order. You see, I have Ann Taylor/Eddie Bauer tastes on a Walmart budget, which means that I may see an outfit I like on the Ann Taylor or Eddie Bauer websites, but I can't just click on the "buy this outfit" button. Hubby and the bank account both would faint.

What I've done is this: Used the websites as inspiration and then tried to recreate the look.

Which reminds me of what I did when I bought my curtains. I couldn't decide which of the four colors I liked best. The store had them all lined up on a curtain rod, and it looked beautiful, and I jokingly said to LovelyDaughter, "I want ALL of them," and she said, "Why not?" So I asked the sales gal, could I buy just one panel of each color and she called over another sales gal, and and said to her, "She'd like to create this look." That made me feel really good, as if I actually knew what I was doing.

Long story short, I did buy all four colors.

The pictures don't show it very accurately. The green is a little darker, the walls are actually yellow. I really like the effect in person.

But continuing with my explanation: Recreating outfits with clothes is not as simple as buying the curtains was. It's dependent on what I can find, what I can afford, and what looks good on me. It's been a fun challenge so far, and I'm looking forward to the management and upkeep of my closet in the future. Which sounds very impressive, but it really means I'm going to enjoy more shopping! (Especially if I can keep finding mind-blowing sale prices like I did this time out.)

Here's the look I was going after (from Ann Taylor):

Here what's I came up with:

Old Navy black shirt, new, $3
Sag Harbor gray cardigan, new, $8
Black slacks, in my closet already (and it looks like they need ironing. oops.)
Sofft black dress sandals, nearly new, $35

Outfit #2 (from Eddie Bauer):

My version:

Faded Glory gray lightweight sweater, new, $7
SO black jeans, hand-me-downs I haven't worn till now, so they seem new
Walmart white scarf, new, $5

Parenthetical: I thought I had found the perfect blue sweater for this outfit, and it turned out blue looks horrible on me, and looks wonderful on LovelyDaughter, so guess where that sweater ended up?

Outfit #3 (from Ann Taylor):

My version:

Quizz Again white shirt, new, $4
Hint jeans, thrifted, $7
Earth Spirit sandals, new, $25

I want the head scarf to go with this, but so far I haven't found any for sale. Where do I look?

I also desperately want some gold shoes, either flats or thong sandals, but I haven't found what I want yet.

Oh, I guess I do have a tote bag that is natural woven stuff with yellow leather that I bought last year on ebay. I didn't think to include it here.

Outfit #4 (from Ann Taylor):

My version:

Denim jacket, thrifted, $6
Pink button up blouse, in my closet
Denim skirt, in my closet

Not quite the same is it? I had a terrible time finding a navy blue cardigan and skirt, even on the Ann Taylor website, since my size was sold out. And then I found out navy looks rather sick on me. I tried to recreate it in black, but though I found the black skirt, I don't have the black cardigan and cute shirt yet.

I originally bought the denim jacket for this outfit:

But I couldn't find a print skirt like in the picture. Instead, I ended up with this:

Animal print skirt, thrifted, $6
Black corduroy blazer, thrifted, $6
Shade brown tank, new, $11
Metallic sandals, new last summer, $20
Cute necklace, new last summer, $10? (can't remember)

I am totally excited about this outfit. It looks amazingly good on me, and it ties together brown and black, which I love.

I have more I want to show you, like my cute gray khakis and my black spring coat, but that's all I'm going to inflict on share with you today. Part 2 coming up in the near future!

My 7 Quick Takes Friday post is also up. Just scroll down a bit and keep reading.

7 Quick Takes #4


This quote from yesterday's prayers in The Divine Hours has me thinking:

Exalt joy as we may—and there is surely no joy to be compared to that of the Christian adventure—it is not to the pilgrim in quest of joy, but to the lover of the cross, bent on sacrifice, that the secret of the Lord is revealed.

I believe there is nothing wrong with joy. That's something I've been learning. However, the idea of finding our joy in sacrifice is definitely thought-provoking.


JD and LovelyDaughter were sick this week. They had some sort of flu bug, and I got to play mom by dropping by and bringing crackers and chicken broth, and also a sweater for LovelyDaughter, which, by the way, was a highlight of my week because it was a steal at a local thrift store: $1 for a nearly new cable knit sweater made of merino wool, cashmere, and angora!


Ash Wednesday was this week, which is the start of the Lenten season, which I only know because I have been studying the Catholic church this year. I debated doing something for Lent, not because I'm Catholic, but because anything that helps form discipline and sacrifice and brings us closer to God sounds like a worthwhile activity. Finally I thought maybe I'd give up chocolate, but I am confessing here and now that I've already flunked.


I am having a recurrence of my achiness today, and after thinking it over I realized the weather is changing. I thought only old people could track the weather with their aches and pains....!


I am working on sewing shopping bags, while still keeping my eye out for more fabric, and I'm having a terrible time finding more material that is medium to heavyweight cotton in pretty prints. The three stores in our area that sell sewing supplies mostly just sell quilting fabric, which is not what I have in mind. I've also been all over online and have not found much. If any of you knows a good place to shop for fabric, please tell me.


I saw a video online-- actually two different ones-- of something called the "Clown Mass.". I guess many Catholic churches are trying to be modern and relevant by doing innovative things with their services. The two examples I saw involved the priest and his many helpers all dressed up like clowns to administer the Mass, or Communion, as we Protestants call it, and it made me feel rather sick. I have no idea what the relevance was-- for example, of blowing bubbles instead of sprinkling holy water-- but even to my sensibilities, having been taught that Communion is symbolic, it seemed frivolous and irreverent. And if I were Catholic and believed that the bread and wine were actually Christ's body and blood, then I would think the whole thing positively blasphemous. Doesn't this fall under the admonition of the Apostle Paul where he warned us to properly discern the body of Christ lest we suffer dire consequences?


Coming up later today: photos of my new wardrobe. This is a red letter occasion: Two posts in one day!

To read more Quick Takes, or join in yourself, go to Conversion Diary.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Just Thought You'd Like To Know...

...the camera batteries are charging right at this moment, getting themselves ready so that I can take pictures of my new clothes for you.

I've been shopping again, and I've done something I've never done before: I put everything on the credit card 'cause this time of year we're pretty broke. Our tree work is seasonal, and we're usually running a little tight here at the end of winter before the spring rush. But now is when the big after-winter and pre-spring sales are. If I don't go now I miss out completely. So, with that rationalization in mind, off I went.

Actually, compared to many people, and considering the full prices of the sale items I got, I spent very little, and ended up with a-- for me-- good size pile. It feels like a bigger pile than it really is because I did a pretty decent job of shopping by "menu" and I can make so many outfits it feels like a LOT of clothes.

So-- tomorrow? PICTURES!

Friday, February 20, 2009

7 Quick Takes #3


Today for supper we are having company-- JD and LovelyDaughter, and JD's mother and sister who are here visiting-- so I will be busy cleaning up the house and planning a great meal.


Unexpectedly, JD's dad had a heart attack this week-- he's only 43-- but fortunately he will be fine. Oddly enough-- though less unexpected, since she's elderly-- Swede's mother had a heart attack this week also, and ended up in the hospital room next door to JD's dad. It feels like heart attacks are going around, and maybe I should stay indoors.


I had a a extra half hour or so while I was out getting groceries the other day, and I took the opportunity to do a little clothes shopping, and ended up getting three great items on SUPER clearance . I want badly to show you pictures, but I have to find the batteries for the camera and charge them, and then take the photos, which I just don't have time for today. (In case you're wondering, the reason I have to look for the batteries is because they're rechargeable AA's, which also fit just about every other small electronic gadget we own and our collection of batteries is always scattered amongst them.)

Where was I? Oh yeah. My great clothing finds:

*A classy fitted white shirt with some cute details and a tiny bit of stretch ($5, originally $27.99)

*a red velvet blazer ($8, marked down from $39.99)

*a gray and black striped henley sweater with jewel buttons($5, original price $23.99).

Now all I need to do is hem my ankle-length black skirt to knee length and I'll be set for a weekend of worship team responsibilities.


Oh! And Also! I bought this pair of shoes:

I wanted these for LovelyDaughter's wedding, but I didn't have the money for them at the time. But now I found them on ebay for much less, and I'm really excited to have a pair of dressy black heels for summer. They're in the mail and will be here any day.


One of the reasons I was so excited to find those three clothing items is because they were on my "menu." I've decided that shopping for clothes is very similar to shopping for food. If I go grocery shopping and I just buy what looks good, along with some staples that I know I always use, half the time I get home and have nothing for supper. It's much better for my cooking sanity to shop by menus. Then when I go to make some great dish, I actually have everything it takes. When I don't there's always one or two important ingredients missing, which is very frustrating.

I've been doing the same thing with clothes shopping. I'll buy some cute thing that caught my eye, and it probably fits and looks pretty good, but all the same, I get home, and I still have nothing to wear.

Now I've changed my plan, and I've got a set of pictures I'm shopping off of, as well as a list. Classy white shirt? Check. Cute blazer? Check. Black strappy dress shoes? Check.

I'm going to keep going until I have everything on my list and can make every outfit I've chosen. Later, I should also be able to mix and match those things into many other outfits as well, but first I have to have the ingredients!


Here are some more outfits that I'd like to try to imitate:

What do you think? This blazer and leather skirt combo really catches my eye.

This is the first trench coat I've seen that I like. And since a trench coat is one of the classic basics, that's a good thing. I want to have the basics, but I want to like them!

This outfit makes me want to get a pair of khakis. I really don't like khaki, but this outfit is so cute that I'm thinking of finding some just so I can do this look. I know, I can do the "look" by just wearing jeans and some other color of sweater and some other color of scarf-- which technique I'm using for most of the other outfits I'm patterning my wardrobe after-- but sometimes it's all about the, you know, details. Besides, I don't have any dark blue in my closet, and this would be a nice change.


I've been asking myself, "How did I get here, thinking, talking, planning, dreaming CLOTHES, after studying St. Therese last week?"

Doesn't it seem odd, after reading about a holy life consecrated to God and spiritual things to now be so focussed on something as worldly as clothing? The vanity, the uselessness!

No--really it's exactly right. This is all about 1) redeeming everything for Christ, making every part of my life holy and consecrated, including my interest in looking nice; 2) reclaiming the little joys of life which I had lost somewhere in my journey, and 3) rejoicing in my femininity.

Strangely, I feel an unexpected joy and excitement about this project which is overflowing to other areas of my life. New clothes! New dishes! Plan a garden! Invite friends over! Clean!

I don't understand all of it, but I feel like God has me in for an interesting, fun, exciting ride.

You can read more Quick Takes, or join in yourself, by going to Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Might Even Do It

Red Envelope Project ImageSomeone has started an interesting thing: Sending a red envelope to President Obama with the message you see in the picture. The goal is to send 50 million of them!

In case you can't read it, here's what the envelope says: This envelope represents one child who died in abortion. It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception.

I don't usually participate in these kinds of symbolic gestures. You know, what's the point of marching, or walking, or putting red tape over your mouth? It does no visible good.

But this little idea captures my imagination for some reason. Will it do any good to send 50 million red envelopes to the White House? I don't know. I doubt it. But what can it hurt?

If you decide to join in, you can to to the website to add your envelopes to the count. Click here: Red Envelope Project.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Essential Fashion Rules, or, What I've Learned So Far On My Makeover Journey, Interspersed With Photos Of The Looks I'd Like To Emulate

Some sort of nasty virus has been making the rounds at our house, and now it's my turn. I did my best to avoid it, but nothing has helped, and here I am today with the whole shebang.

I don't want to be sick! I want to go shopping!

See, I've had a little time lately to revisit my "makeover" plans, and I've been doing a lot of online window shopping and reading about fashion. I've saved pictures, I've pored over lists of "wardrobe essentials", and written my own lists. I've compared prices, and used Lands End's electronic paper doll to try on outfits. In fact, I've done just about everything short of creating a spreadsheet to quantify and analyze my wardrobe needs. (Except actually go shopping and BUY stuff!)

In passing, I want to note that if the goal of Lands End is to make me buy their products, their paper doll is shooting them in the foot. Either their software is inaccurate, or their clothes are completely wrong for my build. My poor model looked dumpy and fat in those clothes. She looked pretty much like me in her underwear, but the clothes did nothing good.

On the plus side, it did give me some practice in putting together outfits, which was fun and instructive. For example, I learned that for someone short like me with an "undefined" waistline, it's better to wear, say, a dark gray jacket with a black dress, than, say, a red jacket with the same dress. It's more streamlined, and looked nicer. At least, that's my opinion, and if I've learned anything, it's that, while trends have snarky rules about what "goes" and what doesn't "go"-- and what's IN today is so OUT tomorrow-- true fashion has timeless rules that are interpreted subjectively.

Did that make any sense at all? What I mean is, there are some rules of thumb about what looks good, but it all comes down to what looks good on you.

View Outfit

In all my looking I ran across some helpful things and some not-so-helpful things. One non-helpful opinion that cropped up regularly-- from non-experts--was the idea that fashion is all about what makes you comfortable and what you like and forget what anyone else thinks. That's not helpful. If I were to just "be comfortable" I would be wearing cute shirts and jeans from now till I die.

What's wrong with that? I want more than that now. I still want to be as comfortable as possible because I refuse to wear anything that makes me miserable, no matter how good I look in it. However, I want to look like a confident, intelligent, growing, learning forty-six year old. I will still wear jeans, but I want to expand my wardrobe to include things that make me look fabulous as the age I am. That is where all the research comes in. I'm retraining my eye and my tastes. It does me no good to always be drawn to clothes that don't fit my age.

To do this, I've decided to take the advice of the fashion experts. I don't mean the trend experts, the ones who keep an eye out for the latest buzz and tell us how to wear it right. I mean the real experts: the stylists and designers and makeover artists. What I found out is that they're all saying pretty much the same things.

View Outfit

First and foremost, whatever you wear has to FIT. I thought this was pretty obvious until I checked my own clothes and found how many of the things I have really don't fit right-- and I thought I was careful when I shopped! After thinking it through, I figured it out. What happened is that I would find something I liked and I'd buy it even if the shoulders were a little big, or it was loose in the waist, because, I LIKE IT, I WANT IT. (I usually don't err on the side of too tight. On second thought, I do have that one trendy sweater...)

So the first rule is, if it doesn't FIT, don't buy it.

View Outfit

Second, choose clothing for your body type. This is related to the first rule, but something can fit, that is, be exactly the right size, but not be the right proportions for your body. I'm a little better with this one, but I still fall prey to the I LIKE IT syndrome.

View Outfit

Third, avoid trends. Seriously, that's what the real experts say. They say you can incorporate small tastes of a trend into your wardrobe, but a)don't spend too much money on it-- since the trend will be gone soon-- and b) let trends be an addition to your wardrobe, not the foundation of it. I've had to study this one to learn to tell the difference between "style" and "trends." I guess I thought it was all the same thing, but it's not. A style is something classic that is always here, in one form or another (as in, cardigans, blazers, basic jeans, t-shirts). A trend is something that is flashy and unusual that is usually here this season and gone next season (as in, bubble dresses, super-cropped jackets, shredded jeans).

View Outfit

Fourth, treat your clothes as an investment. Don't be afraid to spend good money on a well-made, well-fitting classic item, such as a great pair of jeans that makes you look like a million bucks, or a classy pair of boots. I'm afraid I'm very bad at this one, which probably explains why I'm bad at the first one. If I'm only paying a few bucks-- on sale, or at a thrift store-- it doesn't matter, does it?

Note to self: oh yes it does.

That's one thing I'm trying to change. I think I should apply the same criteria to a Goodwill special as I do to something expensive at the mall. Does it fit? Does it look good? Will it be a great addition to my wardrobe?

View Outfit

I want to say one more thing, but I'm not sure how to get there. It's just that lately I've mentioned learning to be humble and listen to others when they know something I don't. This whole clothing/fashion/wardrobe thing, for me right now, is part of that. I've always ignored the fashion experts and most of the trends, just picking and choosing what I want from the fashion world. There's probably nothing wrong with that. But here's the kicker, if I want to look like "that," I have to follow the rules for "that"!

View Outfit

Friday, February 13, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday


We are in the middle of a doozy of a snow storm. It started about 7:30 this morning, and I'm so glad I talked DrummerDude into staying home from work today. Am I horrid?

He's been fighting a cold all week, and I could see him getting very fatigued. So when the forecast for today was 6-10 inches of snow with 25-30 mile an hour winds, I thought the time was propitious for him to stay home and get some sleep. Besides, I kept dreaming last night about him being stuck at work because his car was snowed in. My mama heart is happy because all my brood are safe indoors. (JD and LovelyDaughter, even though they're not under my roof, are cozy and safe under their roof.


Speaking of JD and LovelyDaughter's roof, you may remember that I mentioned earlier that the house they are living in belongs to DrummerDude. Well, Monday was a red letter day because he paid off the house! DrummerDude is so pleased with himself. (I told you he got a great deal on it. Plus, he's been putting most of his paychecks on it ever since he took out the loan.)


In my last post I wrote about learning to form the habit of cleaning my sink every night. In response, Ornery's Wife said this:

Personally, I have no problem with leaving the dishes till the next morning. I know lots of people think that is bad, and if I can get motivated to get them done before bed, that is better, but I don't sweat it.

Most of my housework is actually just a little behind. Life intervenes, and I am just not that worried about a bit of dust, dog hair or an unmade bed or two. Relationships are so much more important, and they take undivided time.

I agree with her completely. In fact, except for the part about dog hairs, I could have written it myself. However, the reason I started the new habit was two-fold:

1) I wanted to learn to keep my kitchen under control.

2) I'm working on learning to humbly accept instruction. If what I'm doing is not working, why wouldn't I accept help from someone who knows what works? A couple of years ago I read FlyLady's suggestions and waved them aside, saying to myself that that would never work for me because she doesn't know MY priorities, and MY house, and MY personality, etc, etc, ad nauseum. Finally, I decided that as an act of humility I would take her word for it and begin by cleaning my sink.

Where it goes from here, I don't know yet. But I will say that it's amazing the impact that that one little chore has had on the state of my kitchen. (And maybe it's even helping the state of my humility, but that's not for me to say, I guess.)


I just finished reading "The Story of a Soul" by Therese De LeSieux. There's so much to say about it that I can't really summarize it here. I really should just do an entire post about it alone. But here's one little quote:

In the refectory we have but one thing to do: perform a lowly
action with lofty thoughts.

Substitute "kitchen" for refectory (or "bathroom," or "laundry room") and there you are: up-to-date instructions for making the mundane have eternal value.


Which reminds me: On Monday when I was reading the book, I had to take a break and run some errands. While I was out, I had the radio on and I heard a preacher/teacher say that he lived his life always evaluating whether each thing had eternal value. He said, "We should start each day with the Judgment Seat and work backwards."

I was struck by the contrast between this viewpoint and Therese de LeSiuex's attitude of doing everything by and for love. I guess we can choose whether to serve God out of fear of the Judgment, or out of love.


I was raised Protestant, but lately I've been studying Catholicism and reading writings by Catholic writers and I've discovered something.

It seems to me, and I could be wrong, that Protestants work-- at least in theory-- to eliminate everything from their lives that does not have "eternal value." That line of thinking always confused me, and eventually, a few years ago, sent me to the edge of suicide. Nothing in the world has any real value, does it? It's all destined for destruction, and maybe I should just go to heaven right now. Of course, winning souls, or being in full-time Christian ministry, are considered valuable. But what about cooking, cleaning, shopping, getting dressed, brushing your teeth, making the bed, putting gas in the car? I used to look with amazement at preachers who shouted this doctrine at us and then wonder where they found room in their conscience to go out to eat or buy that expensive suit they were wearing.

On the other hand, Catholic thinking seems to be to redeem all of life by the attitude in which we live it, thereby giving every action, no matter how small or mundane, great eternal weight. While I have no plans at this moment to convert to Catholicism, this view has encouraged me greatly and I have decided to adopt it.


Did you know that leftover blueberry pancakes are really good re-heated in the toaster and then sprinkled with sugar?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On Forming Habits

I have always said about myself that I do not form habits, either good or bad, very easily.

This is mostly true. I have no large, harmful habits that I need to do away with-- I don't smoke, drink, cuss, abuse my family, watch too much tv, or overeat.

I do have a few small ungood habits: leaving the dishes on the table after a meal till later; a tendency to stay up too late; leaving my clean laundry in the basket till I've worn most of it, to name a few.

As far as good habits go, I think I am lacking somewhat. For starters, those bad habits are the flip side of a good habit that I really should have, as in, I should clear the table right after the meal, and put away my laundry immediately.

However, as I looked back over the last twelve months, I realized that I have actually started some new habits. One is the habit of daily prayers, which I started almost exactly one year ago, and a very good thing it's been.

Four months ago I started getting up with DrummerDude at seven o'clock in the morning and packing his lunch for him. That has been a big change for me, since it involves (aside from getting up an hour earlier than I was used to) several other "by-product" habits, namely, cleaning out his lunch box every day, planning for his lunch, and going to bed at a good time for getting enough sleep.

Almost exactly a month ago I started another new habit: Cleaning my kitchen sink every night before bed. This one, to be honest, has nearly killed me. And I've learned something about myself and my difficulty with forming good habits. To make a habit stick, I've discovered, there can be no exceptions. That has been my problem.

Taking the sink cleaning as an example, here's how my habit-forming scenario goes:

First night-- I clean the sink enthusiastically. I'm happy to be turning over a new leaf.

Second night-- oh yeah, clean the sink.

Third night-- you know, really I'm too tired tonight. But, I'll do it anyway.

Fourth night-- I'm too tired, and it's getting late, and I can do it in the morning.

Fifth night-- I'm too tired, and it's late, and really, the sink's not that dirty.

Sixth night-- We had to be gone all evening, and really, I can't be expected to WORK now. It's past bedtime and I need my rest or I'll be a mess in the morning.

Seventh night-- I didn't feel good today so my kitchen's a mess, and cleaning the sink is too big of a job tonight. Maybe if I just go to bed I'll feel better in the morning, and tomorrow I can start again.

What then happens is that I THINK I have a new habit, but it's only in my mind. I only actually DO it once in a while. And after so and so long of this, the habit dies an unnoticed death in my mind as well, and much later I think, what happened to my habit of doing (whatever)? I guess I'm just one of those people who can't form habits, sigh; but really, that's good because that means I don't form BAD habits either, right?

When I figured out what was happening I realized two things. One, this line of reasoning is not helping me. And Two, there can be no more exceptions. (I suppose some people would say "no more excuses," but that way of looking at it makes me feel too guilty, which is not helpful either. "Exceptions" implies that there are good reasons for not doing whatever it is.)

My new determination is that now I'm not going to let those reasons hold me back from accomplishing my higher goal. With that in mind, I have been successful in cleaning my sink every night. That's why it has nearly killed me. There were many nights when I felt I just COULDN'T. But I gritted my teeth and did it anyway. Some nights I discovered that I really wasn't that tired and I ended up pretty much cleaning up the whole kitchen and being pretty proud of myself at the end. Other nights, I really was that tired, and I ended up just stacking the dirty pans on the counter so I could scrub the sink, and then going to bed.

I had planned to start a whole new regimen of house cleaning, but after a week or so of sink-cleaning I had a revelation about myself. I am my own child and parent, wrapped up in one. Therefore, I have to learn to manage myself. Part of me wants to make excuses exceptions, and the other part of me has to hold myself to the line and say no.

On the other hand, the parent side of me also needs to know when to let myself off the hook. Hence, the nights of stacking the dirty dishes to the side in order to have the clean sink.

And since all this is so, I realized that I had better not start anything new till I have conquered this one. It takes a lot of inner energy to tell myself "no exceptions" and stick with it.

After reading all this over, I find I have left myself open to some criticism. Such as, why in heaven's name do I leave the dishes till bedtime when I'm too tired to do them? Well, I don't know. My excuse is that I'm too tired after supper, after spending an hour cooking, to then spend an hour cleaning. I'll just wait till I get my second wind, I think to myself. And before you know it, it's bedtime, and I frantically load the dishwasher and hightail it to bed. Hey, at least I've been running the dishwasher! And now I have a clean sink-- I'm getting better!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I Did It!

I did it I did it!

The party last night was a smashing success. I made a huge batch of dough and put big balls of it on pizza pans-- eight of them-- and let everyone make their own pizza. I had tomato paste and salsa and all kinds of toppings, like peppers and olives and anchovies. I had mozzarella and American cheese (in case someone wanted to make cheeseburger pizza). There was cooked hamburger and pepperoni.

Hubby's mother offered the use of her two ovens, and since she lives pretty much next door (as next door as you can be in the country) we took her up on it. Two pizzas went into our oven as soon as they were ready, two more went over to Granny's house, and we kept it up till we used up all the dough, which amounted to eleven large pizzas. (We ate eight of them!)

There was just one little incident. One girl asked where her pizza had gone. She had made a fancy stuffed crust on it, and I didn't see it anywhere so I told her it must have gotten eaten before we realized it. I figured it was one of the ones that went to Granny's and I just hadn't seen it come back. Well, an hour later we called Hubby's folks to tell them we were ready for the musical concert, which they were invited to, and Granny was all apologetic. Somehow one pizza had been forgotten in her downstairs oven and she had just discovered it, burned to an absolute crisp. (At least the goats will be happy. They like that sort of thing.) It could have been a tragedy, but I've decided to remember it as a funny story, the kind you laugh at much later when you drag up old memories.

When no one could eat any more pizza, we all moved out to our "barn" (really Hubby's workshop/garage, but it looks kind of like a barn) for the music, which was great.

After the music, I brought out the ice cream and bananas and peanuts and chocolate syrup and Reddi-wip and Boston Cream Pie, upon which there were fearful inroads made.

The last guests left at about one o'clock in the morning.

I'm still amazed. We did it. And it was fun!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Quick Takes Friday, First Try


I'm joining Quick Takes Friday over at Conversion Diary. I'll try it in place of my Chocolate Box.


Well, today is the big day, the day of MB3's birthday party, and I have been working my tail off. Some sort of cleaning ogre takes over when I get ready for an event like this, and I start feeling like I have to make up for all my housecleaning inadequacies over the last however long all in one fell swoop. I have to keep pulling myself up short and taking it in perspective. After all, we didn't invite people over to inspect and grade my housekeeping. We invited them over to have fun together. In spite of that, I still have at least two hours of work in front of me. Let's hope I'm not too tired to enjoy the party!


We had a great time at the conference we went to last weekend. It's always fun to go somewhere with Hubby and Swede. They spent all their free time-when we weren't in the hot tub-- using my computer to look up lathe tools and accessories. It's good to see Hubby starting to enjoy his hobbies again.


Related to that, we've had a long slog through depression and ill health, but at the first of the year we felt a shift, and I think at long last our prayers are being answered. Life is looking good again.


I think I'm going to buy some new dishes. It just feels like time for a change. I have some picked out that I can buy a little at a time till I have enough. The melmac set I have is not essential anymore, since the kids aren't in danger of breaking dishes at this age (at least, not in more danger than most normal adults) so I can have stoneware again, ya think?


I helped LovelyDaughter paint her kitchen. I guess you can call it a kitchen. Even though it's in a house, it's no bigger than a tiny apartment kitchen. It seems like an after thought, tacked on to the dining room. It's paneled, with wooden cupboards, and wooden louvered closet doors hiding the hot water heater and washer and dryer. All that dark wood made the room very dank and dark and uninviting. In addition, the back splash over the sink is aqua colored tile. Very bathroom looking and seemed to clash somehow. AND there is no window. None.

So I had the bright idea to paint the paneling a pale creamy yellow, and you would not believe how much cheerier and brighter that tiny kitchen is. Plus, LovelyDaughter found a blue glass vase for her counter, and a painting that includes aqua and blue and yellow that pulls it all together. I'm pretty pleased, and so is she.


My time is up. I've GOT to get back to work.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I'm NOT going to have a nervous breakdown; repeat, NOT!

It's been a busy week. Last Thursday Hubby and I went with Swede to a conference in Topeka, and since we were going to be gone for about four days I had a lot to do to leave the house and pantry in good shape for the boys. The two or three times before that Hubby and I have been gone for a few days, LovelyDaughter was here to cook and manage, but not this time. I had some worrisome moments, thinking about it.

However, I at last figured out a plan. I came up with some easy ideas for menus, like sloppy joes and taco salad, and bought all the necessary ingredients for them. Then I wrote the meal suggestions on a list on the fridge. I also bought a spiral cut ham and baked an extra batch of buns and a big batch of cookies, and hoped for the best.

When we returned on Sunday, the boys were in fine shape, and the kitchen looked reasonable, so all's well that ends well.

Which is a nice ending for my four-day break from cooking. Although I'm still pretty tired. We went to bed at midnight, one, and two the three nights we were gone, and I was still waking up before seven, according to habit. But it was worth it.

I've been trying to plow into the week. This Friday is our wingding for MB3 and we will have thirty people here, including ourselves. For some reason this is freaking me out. Never mind that each family on its own would not be scary. I like all the people I've invited. But somehow, so many at once is shaking up my poor introverted soul.

And also-- it feels as if the house never could be clean enough for 30 (thirty!) people. Why is that?

I am planning to put out all things necessary for pizza and have a grand pizza-making party, as well as a make-your-own banana split/ice cream sundae gala. And in the middle, the Baker family is giving us a little musical entertainment. It all sounds like fun-- and like a lot of stress. I'm not used to this big of a gathering. However, we did it once for GuitarGeek and once for LovelyDaughter, for their graduations, so I'm sure I will survive. (In case you're wondering, no we did not do a big splash for DrummerDude's graduation because, bless his poor introverted soul, he insisted he did not want one.)

So that's my week, and here's hoping I pull it off!