Friday, December 14, 2012

Heart Shaped Candy Cane Lollipops

So yesterday was sort of a not-so-nice day and I was definitely falling out of the Christmas spirit. I decided the best medicine was A) do something Christmasy B) do something for someone else. The result was Candy Cane Lollipops.

It was super easy although if I had to do it over again I would use a piping bag to put the white chocolate inside the shape. I worried the chunks of peppermint might cause a clog and opted to use a spoon instead. As my usual MO, I started late and hurried so they aren't maybe as neat as could be but they are unique.....yes, that's the word I'm going with and made with love :). The almond bark sets up quickly so I think if I would have used an elf to help with the sprinkles process that might have gone even smoother.

Candy Cane Heart Lollipops

(to make 50)
2 boxes of little candy canes
1 package of white almond bark
little treat bags
lollipop sticks

1.  Lay out the candy canes and sticks - I used parchment paper

2.  Crush any broken candy canes into little eensy, weensy bits - Great frustration reliever. :)

3.  Melt almond bark according to directions

4.  Mix in crushed peppermint

5.  Spoon or pipe into candy canes

6.  Decorate with sprinkles

7. Wrap and share

Thursday, November 08, 2012

To Decorate or Not To Decorate - that is the question

I've been struggling with the Nordstrom's announcement since I first read it. On the surface it sounds reasonable, even commendable but something just didn't feel right about it. I understand my views are somewhat tainted in that I LOVE CHRISTMAS and all the bells and whistles that go along with it, but it was a nagging that went deeper than that.

I am going to look at this from 2 different directions.....the company standpoint and the personal standpoint. First the company - if they wait until after Thanksgiving they will most certainly miss sales - a noble gesture some might say but what about the people that want to buy things in advance to be able to decorate the day after Thanksgiving. Some people get nauseous just thinking about going out into the throngs of crazy -yes, I said it - people on the busiest shopping day of the year. Some like to have all their supplies and sip eggnog, listen to some Christmas tunes and decorate at a leisurely pace, not pile in the car and have to fight for a parking space with the mom that has been up since 4am and hopped up on caffeine and donuts. She's on a mission, that widget is half price and it's on junior's list.....she is a force to be reckoned with for sure!

The other viewpoint is that similar to my personal belief- that what exactly is Thanksgiving? OK, obviously it's a time to gather and give thanks for what we have been given. I would venture to say that most Christians in this country top our list with freedom, family and forgiveness.  Freedom to gather and give thanks and freedom to decide when to decorate and prepare. Family to join together and celebrate both at Thanksgiving and Christmas and be reminded of the love by which we are surrounded. And lastly..forgiveness - and what greater example of that then the love and forgiveness shown in the life and death of Jesus? So really, Thanksgiving truly points to Christmas.....why do we think they should be separate? Thanksgiving should just be the start of the season to be thankful for all we have been afforded, and if we would examine our lives further, Thanksgiving and Christmas should be reflected in us daily not just the two days on the calendar.

So Nordstrom's you can wait if you want but this girl is going to put up my decorations and if we eat turkey and cranberry sauce with Christmas music playing and a bazillion snowmen looking on, then so be it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow

And yes, that is Christmas decorations in the background.
It's November, time to experiment with all things pumpkin. Today I tried a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow.  Very easy and very tasty. However I should know better than to start a project at 9PM but I never learn. I forgot to add the pumpkin pie spice to the melted mixture but added it to the powdered sugar and it turned out just fine. I found the base recipe on where?........oh yes, you remember......PINTEREST!! I altered it to fit what I had in my cabinet and it was totally yummo. Here is the one I used as my inspiration. And here is my version:

Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow

1 bag white chocolate chips
1/2 cup + a little more Biscoff Spread (will be in the peanut butter section, I found it at my Walmart)
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 box Cinnamon Chex (it wasn't quite enough so I had some wheat Chex I threw in - about 2 more cups)
2 cups powdered sugar
Have you tried Biscoff? Uh-Maz-ing

Melt chocolate chips and Biscoff spread together, 1 minute, stir, and then in 30 second increments until smooth. Pour over cereal and stir to coat evenly. Put powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a huge ziploc bag and then add the cereal mixture. Shake well to coat and separate clumps of cereal mixture. Spread on parchment to dry for about 30 minutes, then store in an airtight container.
I love creating......and it shows, don't ya think?
So simple and sooooooo good!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

First of all this is Pumpkin infused/flavored Bread Pudding, not bread pudding made from Pumpkin bread....ohhhhh the nuances of cooking! I used a recipe I found on Pinterest.....I know people probably think I must just sit in my pajamas and surf Pinterest all day long because I mention it so much but I actually do have a life outside of the magic boards of wonder. The pin I found was adapted from a magazine recipe which you can find here.

Let me give you a bit of back story before the recipe. I work in an office that frequently has catered lunches. Occasionally there are leftovers but not your typical left overs they are things like a gallon of refried beans or 3 quarts of salsa. While most people would just shake their heads and mutter about it being such a waste, I see it as a challenge. I retreat to my fantasy world where I am a contestant on Iron Chef and find a solution for this extra food conundrum. This weeks spare parts consisted of:
- 2 sleeves (a total of 24) of ginormous hamburger buns
- a gallon of creamed corn

The first thing I made was corn chowder. It consisted of the corn, potatoes, sausage, made into a thick soup and it was yummy. I also made some croutons out of a few of the buns. I brought the chowder and croutons to the office and needless to say I took nothing back home.  (I forgot to take pictures and document that one) but it was a winner!  Yayyyy!

Which brings me to the bread pudding.

The comments from my official taste testers were:
"Yummy! Tastes like pumpkin pie coffee cake"
"Good either way, but is better warm"
"Would be good with a caramel sauce"
"Might be good with a brown sugar frosting"
Here is my version of the recipe:

Pumpkin Bread Pudding


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 can solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 8 cups (or so) cubed hamburger buns that were very soft (or if you don't happen to have a bazillion buns to use, crusty bread of any kind will work)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • pecans- to taste
  • brown sugar - I generous handful?
  • powdered sugar.....1 cup, 2 cups?... until you have enough, whatever that is
  • Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Whisk together all the remaining ingredients except pecans, brown sugar and powdered sugar. Melt butter and toss bread cubes with butter in a ziploc, coating thoroughly. Spread bread pieces in large casserole dish and pour pumpkin mixture over all. Sprinkle with pecans and brown sugar and bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Mix together powdered sugar and water and after baking drizzle on top.
*Remember, it's ok to alter a recipe, cooking should be a creative process, not a chore, make it your own. :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls with COOL WHIP FROSTING!

I was at my local Walmart yesterday and stumbled upon what may possibly be the best invention EVER, Cool Whip has a new product, - FROSTING! They have 3 flavors- Chocolate, Vanilla and Cream Cheese (brand new product just introduced in October, 10.6 oz for just under $3.00 and check out the cool whip facebook page it has a ton of recipes.) I decided I had to try it and since I was making Cinnamon Rolls the next day  (ok, I wasn't really planning on it at that point but after seeing the frosting, I made a snap decision, just call me spontaneous) so I picked up the Cream Cheese flavor.
Not really having time (or patience) to do the whole, gargantuan batch that requires yeast and raising and lots of counter space, I opted for using my very favorite biscuit recipe. (This 7-up biscuit recipe [have I mentioned it before :)] has become my go to for any  dinner that needs a little extra because they are absolutely yummy and sooooo easy.) So this morning baked up a batch - the recipe only makes about 8 -perfect for a lazy morning - and I couldn't wait to try the frosting. I modified the recipe by spreading a little softened butter and brown sugar and cinnamon at the patted out stage and rolling them and cutting like a traditional cinnamon roll. The frosting was soft like cool whip but with a little more density, I let the rolls cool slightly and the frosting did not just immediately dissolve, it held up nicely. I would do one thing differently next time, I would only frost as needed as left overs will need to be refrigerated and not sure how they will reheat.

I made a batch, frosted them with just a dollop- albeit a rather large "dollop"  of frosting, tossed on a few pecans and  OMGOSH! so simple and sooo good. Go now.....get won't be sorry.

Monday, September 24, 2012

50 Shades of Gray...yes, GRAY not Grey

It seems that sometimes a word - one word - fits several things going on in your life at that particular time.  I find myself chuckling because I have different people in my life that would use dramatically different words. I have some that tend to lean to the negative and would say the word is "crap." You know the ones, it seems nothing is going according to THEIR plans so it all wrong, or they seem to think most people are against them and they need to get all they can and most definitely look out for number 1. Those people tend to be exhausting. Then there are the people that would use the word "party," never down, always smiling, making the best of whatever comes their way. And although they are a hoot to be around they sometimes don't have any sort of a plan and it is like herding cats to move forward. They also tend to be exhausting.


I have a word that keeps popping up and it is "gray." Yes, I read the books, but this blog has nothing to do with a certain Mr. Grey. I am referring to the color "gray". It all started when I decided to paint my house. I thought it should be easy to find a coordinating color it's a gray brick with just a little wood siding in places and the trim. EASY PEASY my left eye! I had no idea there were sooooo many shades of gray, it seems every color has a gray spot on the old color wheel. But after much groaning and gnashing of teeth I managed to pick a I would say it's not celery, but not mint, but not really a sage. Maybe a light early non-red tomato green- at any rate, it's a lighter green. A beautiful lighter green over a very, very dark blue......I didn't think that one all the way through but managed to get it painted with some help from my very own handy man. Then the trim........oh, let's see, the trim is presently white sooooo let's go with black! yes, a good idea. [insert rolling eyes here]. But the end result - ok, not really "finished" BUT CLOSE!- is lovely.

 Another thing that has brought the word "gray" to surface is my birthday. Yes, a milestone- 50. (looking at my hair I'd say it's a completely different meaning to 50 shades of gray)  I really didn't have trouble with the idea of turning 50, I don't feel 50 and I don't think I look "old" so what's the big deal? Then the friendly AARP starting sending me stuff and although I'm sure they are just trying to be helpful, I could have done without those little reminders that almost jump up and scream, "Hey you, you might think you can pretend you aren't getting any older but you are so maybe you should consider stocking up on prune juice and putting a down payment on a rascal!" Sheesh.......

My kids and my sister took the task of planning a get together for my birthday. I started via the Prairie Band Casino in near Topeka (yes, I won 200+ on a penny slot machine, thank you birthday fairy for the good luck) and then we went on to Kansas City. A day on the plaza at the art fair, wow, $5,000 for a wooden armadillo? really? who knew?
MacKenzie, Brett and Molly
Me and my sister, Kelly
Me and "the baby"

We then we met for dinner at Buca di Beppo. If you haven't ever taken a big group there, you should. It's like being in a giant Italian family's house for the holidays. It's loud, it's family style and it's FUN! You walk through the kitchen to get to your table, unless of course your table is IN the kitchen, which is a possibility. We laughed and our waiter, Dave, played with us and even had some of the cake Jen and Aaron baked for me. It was just a hoot. I was surrounded by people I love and lots of laughter.
The whole motley crew!
Aaron and Jen - cake bakers extraordinaire!
A birthday kiss from the boys I birthed

After dinner we went to the Power and Light district to go to "the club". Can't remember which one we ended up at - it was something to do with a shark and thus it was totally legitimate for the bartenders to wear just board shorts and the women to wear bikini tops and daisy dukes. It was fun, but the black light extravaganza only emphasized the lint on my black sweater.  Us old people tried hanging with the youngsters as long as we could but I found myself wanting to ask many of the girls if they were mugged on the way in and part of their dress was stolen. OMgosh.... evidently short, VERY short and skin tight is the norm. And heels...I watched more than one teeter past us and I thought this would be a great place for a doctor to have a booth to deal with the twisted ankles I foresee. I decided the whole thing just made me feel older rather than younger and we gave the kids cab fare and went to seek out our hotel beds.

I suppose some people think that having a huge party with tons of people (some of whom really don't even want to be there or maybe that YOU don't want to be there) or a surprise party where, at the age of 50, isn't such a good idea (the outcome very easily a heart attack or peeing of the pants) is the best idea but I think a small get together with those that have all sacrificed something to be there is the most heart-felt. Sharing the love, sharing the laughter, sharing the milestone celebration and most of all sharing the memory.

Monday, August 27, 2012

While others were sleeping......

Sunday afternoons, a great time for preparing for the upcoming week, a lazy nap or a leisurely walk around the block's also a great time to make stuff. You know, break out the drills, the spray paint, the glue gun all the tools of the craft savvy to create a masterpiece. My Sunday afternoon was just that, creation time. I've had an old sewing machine cabinet that belonged to my aunt for a long time. It even still had the old White brand turquoise-y color sewing machine in it.

The cabinet itself was an old Singer brand, with the heavy, ornate iron legs and pretty carvings in the drawers and sides.

It has long since the day lost it's treadle and had been painted a harvest gold color and "antiqued" a color and process of the times back in the 70's. But for all it's problems it has always held a spot near and dear to me. My grandmother sewed and although this was not hers, it is exactly like hers (sans the paint). I remember her sitting at that machine and making the most beautiful clothes for Barbie or a baby doll or even when she sewed a tent for my brother and I. I remember her making matching Christmas outfits for all 10+ grandchildren (and our baby dolls). So this sewing machine cabinet, although not of great monetary value, tugs on the heart strings every time I look at it. The problem was that it was shoved in the back of the storage room because it had no purpose, it really is quite useless as anything other than a old-time sewing machine cabinet......until this past weekend.

 I had been trying to figure out what on earth I was going to do with this cabinet, when I finally decided to start by taking the machine out. After that was accomplished, I decided a wine rack. I know it's probably not the first thing that comes to mind but I had been wanting one and it seemed doable. First I described my idea to my handyman on call and made a list of materials needed. I wasn't sure what to make the wine holder "tubes" out of, but I knew I wanted it to look kind of industrial-ish. So at Lowes' (which by the way can be a very evil place, it looks friendly enough but it makes you have thoughts of craft gluttony and I have think if Lowe's and Pinterest had a love child it could be a twin to Satan) - anyway - I found the perfect material- 1x1 garden fencing. I also got a bull-nosed stair tread board, dowel rod and spray paint.

The friendly folks at Lowes (or Home Depot, I forget which) cut the board to the right size and the dowel in half and I was ready to roll. My strong and patient helper cut the tiny, tomato cage wanna be's and fastened them together for me while I sprayed the board and dowel rods. I used a brushed metal spray paint which I thought would look much better than a glossy black. Then after the wire wrangler got all the tubes put together they got a quick spray of black and we were in business.

I really like the way it turned out, I had visions of putting something in the belly part of the cabinet that would hold ice but re-thought that idea when it dawned on me, wine doesn't need ice (unless you are my mother......that's a whole other blog post) so I decided a shelf was what it needed inside. I can store all kinds of wine stuff in the drawers, the corkscrew, the fancy stoppers that kind of thing.

I also have this fancy little do-dad.....not sure what it's supposed to be but I found it at a junk shop and decided it is a wine holder. So it got a coat of paint and some chain to make it just that.

I love this little cabinet and the cool thing is that we didn't change the integrity of the piece at all, nothing is permanent. So while some people got a Sunday afternoon nap, I got a new piece of furniture with all the memories still attached.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dog Food? - 8 Things Your Pet Shouldn't Eat

I subscribe to a daily web magazine called Real Simple. I love the variety of things they cover from 10 fancy pants gravy boats (really? gravy boats? anyway...) to some awesome and sometimes scary recipes to articles like the one today, 8 Things Your Pet Shouldn't Eat. I have two dogs, no small demure little yappy dogs and not the testosterone filled "manly" dogs but REAL dogs.......greyhounds.

Yes, the ones that people think are hyperactive because they can run really fast. The funny thing is they aren't hyperactive, it's true, they are fast but for short spurts......once or twice around the yard and they are done, they need a cold beverage and a nap. I will admit one of them is a mixed breed and I'm sure there is some sort of inbreeding going on in the DNA tree because she definitely is not right. Although she is happy, so I guess she doesn't realize she is mentally......slow, arrested, retarded, backward however you want to say it, I just know if there was a short bus for dogs, she'd be riding shotgun.

I'm not one of those fanatical pet owners but I do try to do right by them, so when I saw the article about what not to feed them I was interested. Some of the things mentioned surprised me.
1. Chocolate  Why: Stimulates the nervous system and the heart.
 [I've always heard this and as a general rule they don't get chocolate, I mean not on purpose anyway. And I've always wondered how much is too much. I would suspect that the average size dog can eat an entire easter basket full of different candies - through the wrappers and suffer no adverse side effects, other than wanting to sleep the rest of the day.......not that that happened at our house.]

2. Grapes, Raisins Why: Damage to the kidneys
[Just like my kids I'm pretty sure the only way I could even get my dogs to eat a raisin would be to disguise it in an oatmeal cookie.]

3. Garlic, Onions Why: Damage red blood cells, causing anemia
[So I guess our friday night chips and salsa night with Margaritas is out]

4. Xylitol (found in sugarless gum) Why: Causes increased insulin secretion
[My only question is - So sugar-filled gum is ok?]

5. Alcoholic Drinks Why: Depresses the nervous system
[Pffft, refer to #3]

6. Raw Yeast, Bread Dough Why: Forms gas in the digestive track; fermentation of yeast causes alcohol poisoning
[Oh lawdy lawdy please no more gas needed]

7. Macadamia Nuts Why: Causes muscle and nervous-system problems 
[Oops, I guess the next time I go to Hawaii they will just have to get a key chain like everyone else.]

8. Avocados Why: Contains persin, which damages the heart muscle.
[What? no guacamole either.....our mexican fiesta night is totally hosed.]

I guess the bottom line is that although we like to treat our pets as family members we need to remember our constitutions are very different. Which I suppose is good because I really don't wanna eat rawhides, bugs and drink out of the toilet. I will respect our differences and not judge and next time they bring the little doggy wine glass to me and beg for me to share, I will show tough love and drink it all myself.

If you think your dog, cat, or bird has consumed one of these items and you are concerned, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) 

Monday, July 30, 2012

12 Things to Know Before Letting Go-"borrowed" points from a blog post

Sometimes you stumble upon something that is exactly what you need. It can be a book, an article, a person or maybe even some good ice cream, but call it divine intervention, serendipity or dumb luck but it's exactly the right thing at the right time. The site: Mark and Angel Hack Life is one of those things, I'm not sure how I came across this site but I find myself returning to it frequently. It's not rocket science, there are a few undiscovered concepts but mostly it's filled with things I already know. But sometimes, it just makes a difference seeing it in print, it's almost like a friend getting all up in your face and saying snap out of it. It makes you blink and then smile because you know something is going to change. Here are a few ideas from the post, 12 Things to Know Before Letting Go

[The past can steal your present if you let it. – You can spend hours, days, weeks, months, or even years sitting alone in a dark room, over-analyzing a situation from the past, trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve or should’ve happened.  Or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and walk out the front door into the sunlight to get some fresh air.]

    This statement reminds me of the song by The Wreckers, Leave the Pieces When you Go. Although the song is about wanting a person to just go and to leave the pieces so she can put her life back together, maybe the key is to dump the pieces or better yet put them together and turn the puzzle face down after putting the pieces back so the outcome is different.   

[Not everyone, and not everything, is meant to stay. – There are things you don’t want to happen, but have to accept, things you don’t want to know, but have to learn, and people you can’t live without but have to let go.  Some circumstances and people come into your life just to strengthen you, so you can move on without them.]
    We are creatures of habit, we like to have routine. We thrive when we think we are in control. The truth is we aren't in control, the situation just never changes and we become stagnant, sometimes we need change to force us to exercise options and solutions.

[Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them. – Imagine all the wondrous things your mind might embrace if it weren’t wrapped so tightly around your struggles.  Always look at what you have, instead of what you have lost.  Because it’s not what the world takes away from you that counts; it’s what you do with what you have left.]
    This reminds me of the story of the woman that had two coins, she lost one and was so wrapped up in looking for the lost one that the remaining one did her no good. She couldn't enjoy the benefits, she couldn't invest and possibly reap more, she was paralyzed, she couldn't even continue on with life as she had known it. She let the little she lost rob her from all that she still had and the potential that was gained.

[Sometimes you just need to do your best and surrender the rest. – Don’t be too hard on yourself.  There are plenty of people willing to do that for you.  Tell yourself, “I am doing the best I can with what I have in this moment.  And that is all I can expect of anyone, including me.”  Love yourself and be proud of everything that you do, even your mistakes.  Because even mistakes mean you’re trying.]
    WOW, what food for thought. I suppose we all feel the self-imposed pressure of trying to appear we have it all together when in fact that even if we did have it together, many of us would forget where we put it! I needed this reminder that for all the dumb things I do or mistakes I make, I have 10 fold of good decisions and products in my life. 

[You are in control of one person, and one person only: yourself. – There is only one way to happiness, and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of your control.  Letting go in your relationships doesn’t always mean that you don’t care about people anymore; it’s simply realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.]
    It's good to remember that we may not have control over everything but if we let go of those things and be more vigilant and attentive to the things we DO have control over many of those other issues either won't matter, will fade away or take care of themselves.

[What’s right for you may be wrong for others, and vice versa. – Think for yourself, and allow others the privilege of doing so too.  We all dance to the beat of a different drum.  There are few absolute ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ in the world.  You need to live your life your way – the way that’s right for you.]
    This is so true, but I need to remember that most times I should not judge others based on my belief system and the experiences that have molded it. Live and let Live seems appropriate.

[Some people will refuse to accept you for who you are. – Always choose to be true to yourself, even at the risk of incurring ridicule from others, rather than being fake and incurring the pain and confusion of trying to be someone you’re not.  When you are comfortable in your skin, not everyone in this world will like you, and that’s okay.  You could be the ripest, juiciest apple in the world, and there’s going to be someone out there who hates apples.]
    Funny, I hate apples...... :) 

[Relationships can only exist on a steady foundation of truth. – When there is breakdown in a relationship, you must have the hard conversation.  It may not be pretty and it may not feel good.  But if you are willing to listen and tell the truth, it will open up.  When you build relationships based on truth and authenticity, rather than masks, false perfection, and being phony, your relationships will heal, connect, and thrive.]
   Honesty, most definitely the best policy. 

[The world changes when you change. – Practice really seeing whatever it is you’re looking at.  You are today where your thoughts and perceptions have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts and perceptions take you.  If you truly want to change your life, you must first change your mind.  The world around you changes when you change.]
     This is so true, I especially see this when I look back at some of the ideas and thoughts I had before I had children and then how my thinking changed once I experienced them. 

[You can make decisions, or you can make excuses. – Life is a continuous exercise in creative problem solving.  A mistake doesn’t become a failure until you refuse to correct it.  Thus, most long-term failures are the outcome of people who make excuses instead of decisions.]
     I find it sad when people are so paralyzed by the thought they might make the wrong decision, that they make none at all. Sometimes you just have to move, make a decision and own it. I had a friend the other day ask what was the difference between spontaneous and impulsive. I suppose it's the outlook you have on the decision after it's made.

[It usually takes just a few negative remarks to kill a person’s dream. – Don’t kill people’s dreams with negative words, and don’t put up with those who do.  Don’t let people interrupt you and tell you that you can’t do something.  If you have a dream that you’re passionate about, you must protect it.  When others can’t do something themselves, they’re going to tell you that you can’t do it either; and that’s a lie.  These people are simply speaking from within the boundaries of their own limitations.]
    Good advice unless your dream is that you can fly. 

[Sometimes walking away is the only way to win. – Never waste your time trying to explain yourself to people who have proven that they are committed to misunderstanding you.  In other words, don’t define your intelligence by the number of arguments you have won, but by the number of times you have said, “This needless nonsense is not worth my time.]
     Sometimes you have people in your life in which you will never win. Right is right and truth is truth, it doesn't matter if they understand or acknowledge it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A reflection in a dirty mirror

Podstock- check- done! And it was a hoot as usual. However reflecting back I found myself then and now focusing on the things that didn't go exactly as planned. Why do we do that to ourselves, expect things to go perfectly when they are being executed by imperfect people and there are so many unpredictable variables involved? I actually find it humorous that this is a tech conference, about learning, exploring, stepping out and experimenting and yet I had a mini-meltdown when a few mistakes were discovered and pointed out. I had to remind myself that things happen and in the grand scheme of amount of "stuff" going on, a few minor errors were nothing, fix them and move on and to not camp on them. I had to remind myself that it's not about the perfection, not about the book being exact, not about the internet running at warp speed and not about whether we have brownies or cookies and most certainly not about if the weather is 720 degrees (or so.) It's about the community of the people, the comraderie, the information, and the knowledge gathering. I absolutely love watching the participants, when a discovery is made, it's like that a child that has been given that first "big" box of crayons. The realization that there are more then the large primary 8 colors and suddenly they can color with lilac, puce or burnt umber.

As I reflect back on Podstock I realize that it could be likened to a reflection in a dirty mirror - the image may not be exact, the details may not all be intact but it is still a perfect reflection.

I think back about 15 years when ESSDACK took a chance on me, hiring me to do office work and be - for lack of a better word- hostess. I am thankful daily they let me experiment and learn and carve out a niche that I absolutely love and enjoy. I think that perhaps looking in a dirty mirror is the best because you can let your imagination fill in the missing details of your reflection and see yourself as the person you were meant to be.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Where's Waldo? Burning up the Colorado mountainside..

Went to Colorado for an extended weekend, little relaxing mini-vacation and ended up with an adventure. It's funny how something is "supposed" to be one thing and ends up with a totally different vibe. It makes me laugh but it also makes me sad for the people that are not flexible or want to just complain when a wrench gets thrown into the works.

Looking back the best I can describe it is like the cooking competition where they hand you a box of stuff and you and you alone are responsible for a delightful creation. No recipe, no pre-planning just raw creative gumption.

And Lori here is your box of ingredients:
1 pound  turnips
6 kiwi
A bottle of soy milk
2 fresh Maine Lobsters
and........some limberger cheese

Good luck!

The trek started just as any vacation might, leaving early - VERRRRY early to get a full day in once we got there. It all went well, settled in and went to play in the very colorful Manitou Springs, weather was a little warmer than usual but beautiful. The next day first stop - Garden of the Gods. Great place, the beauty is breath taking but.....what on the horizon did to my wondering eyes appear? but a little puff of smoke......then we start hearing sirens - LOTS of sirens.

Waldo Canyon Fire 2012

We continue on then start hearing the rangers talk. Closing the park? really? sending employees home? oh my.  OK, so we have to take the back way out because many of the roads are closed, it happens. But then we hear Pikes Peak is closed......the roads to a few of the attractions we wanted to see.....closed. We were disappointed but I really felt bad for the residents of Manitou you could see in their faces the worry and distress. You could look to the mountain and see flames, you could see the houses directly in the path of the fire. My heart truly went out to them. And the animals, we were seeing animals that were frightened and out of place.

Then we settled in for the night and at 1:30AM and knock on the door, Manitou was under a mandatory evacuation. YIPES!

After we shook the cobwebs out of our sleepy heads we decided to go stay with friends in Loveland. And yes, even a bigger fire near there but we could go. A side note here- a true friend is one that says, I haven't prepared for you at all AND it's the middle of the night but you are more than welcome to come here. Yep, and we did. And yes, at times the drive between Manitou and Loveland looked and smelled like we were driving through a campfire.

The next day we spent goofing off and decided on the Anheuser-Busch Brewery tour. It was really interesting. Another funny event was the rainstorm on Sunday evening. We went into Ft. Collins to Walrus Ice Cream and it started pouring, the students all went out in the street and were dancing in the rain. The residents were yelling and cheering, it was a sight to be sure. Had a great day with lots of laughter (that makes ANYTHING more fun) and found a hotel for the night- hospitality is nice but no one wants to wear out their welcome.

So, was the trip like planned? Not at all, but was the outcome a positive one? Most definitely. Destinations are fun, but the human journey, that is where the joy is found.

Thanks Colorado for making me a deeper person this past weekend.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ch, ch, ch, ch, changes

Occasionally in my office some rearranging of seating happens, sometimes it is because of staff changes and sometimes to facilitate collaboration. This week we had one of those upset the apple cart kinda weeks, not sure how many of us actually switched desk areas but more than 2 and less than 40. I was one of the movers (and shakers - wink). SO - the song, sing it with me, ya know ya wanna - Movin' on up, to the east siiide, to a dee-luxe apartment in the skkkyyyyy. Ok, not a deluxe apartment but I did move one desk to the east so it's sorta true.

Moving whether it be a couple of filing cabinets and turning your chair in a different direction or a whole house can be a tad bit stressful but also a chance to purge and clean. I found out I had a bunch of stuff that I didn't need and I think I may have given the cleaning guy a hernia from lifting my paper laden trash can. OOPS. But all in all, I cleaned and rearranged and took the opportunity to change my "look", and my little desk pod - which is now a corner desk pod (although sadly, no great view from an upper floor).
Pay no attention to the junk behind the curtain, er, under the desk.

There are a few new additions/changes I made in my desk apparel and I really like them. One is a new makeover from my old file holder thingys, they were covered in red paisley fabric and now they are black/white birdish scrapbook paper covered. I LOVE them!

Another change was to get rid of my previous bulletin board. It seemed rather redundant to have a bulletin board hanging over the wall that was basically it's  own bulletin board - so, I just hung the frame over the wall and voila, trĂ©s chic.

I also found this cute little soap dish on the clearance aisle at Hobby Lobby. I took it home and sprayed it black and it works perfectly as a business card holder.

But I would have to say my favorite addition was to add an ornate picture frame around my external monitor. It's like working in a piece of art all day. Love, Love, Love.

My fish, Finley, seems to like the new surroundings as well.

We also got in our staff shirts for Podstock. It's an 80's ish rock concert-type shirt. We had Prairie Print in Wichita do them and they did an awesome job. They also did our regular Podstock shirt, Talk Nerdy to Me and it turned out pretty snazzy as well. Our thanks go out to Doug, Terry and Jason for a job well done!