Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

While I'm waiting for the doorbell to ring later this evening, here's a photo of my sweet, sweet niece awaiting her very first Halloween!

The pants she's wearing above are the ones I bought for my oldest nephew to wear on his very first Halloween nine years ago!

Can't wait to see the rest of the costumes!

Happy Halloween!

UPDATE:  Three of the four nephews arrived.

Aren't they cute?

Here's what they really look/act like.

The last nephew arrived a little while ago. I just love his costume! He even had shiny black dress shoes to wear thanks to our other sister. One of her boys wore them to a wedding so tonight was the second time they've been worn.

I also love how he instinctively put his hand on the billy club...just like a real policeman!

While waiting on the cops to arrive, I actually had my first non-family member trick-or-treater in the two years I've lived here! How exciting.

Though, I think the porch light is going off...guess I'll have to eat the leftover candy. Bummer...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Sharp-Toothed Snail...

I spent the day with a friend who admits that her 5-year-old is a nose-picker.

Disgusting habit, but she is not alone. There is just something about a nose that kids can't resist.

Anyone have an idea of what the attraction is?

The topic got me to thinking about one of my favorite authors as a child...Shel Silverstein.

Do you remember him? His books of poems were a huge favorite of my friends and me. We kept the copies of "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "A Light in the Attic" checked out of our school library.

"The Giving Tree" and "The Missing Piece" are great books also by Silverstein...he was even a songwriter and his work included the song "A Boy Named Sue" made famous by Johnny Cash!

How did I go from a nose-picking 5-year-old to Shel Silverstein? Because of this poem...


Inside everybody's nose
There lives a sharp-toothed snail.
So if you stick your finger in,
He may bite off your nail.
Stick it farther up inside,
And he may bite your ring off.
Stick it all the way, and he
May bite the whole darn thing off.
- Shel Silverstein

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ain't Itchin' Anymore!

It's the weekend! I'm back from Chicago after a quick work trip and guess what?

No BED BUGS...despite my co worker's dire warning. (Pause for me to do a "na-na-boo-boo" dance.)

OK, I'm back.

As part of the meeting, we headed to the Lincoln Park Zoo in a's Hannah from Off the Cuff and me in a "self-portrait." I'm usually a hater of my photos, but I think she did a good job on this one! It's a keeper, unlike several others of me that she has squirreled away in her phone or computer...someday I'll find and delete them all...that's a promise.

While at Lincoln Park Zoo, we had dinner in a cool red barn housing the Farm-in-the-Zoo exhibit. Imagine a red barn surrounded by high rise buildings...such a cool visual!

The exhibit was very interactive - even for 30 adults! In addition to an actual John Deere tractor, the exhibit included a cool weather room, an incubator with live chicks and so much more. If you have children and are headed to Chicago, be sure to put this on your short list. No kids? Still a fun way to spend an hour or two.

I was enamored with the oversize eggs below. Not sure why I was...please no psychoanalyzing here.

Got my photo taken in a variety of poses on these eggs (I'm afraid those are going to show up on the most embarrassing places someday), including one with a couple of gal pals.

The trip to the zoo was the ONLY time they let us venture out of the hotel. To be a block away from Michigan Avenue and a couple of blocks away from Lake Michigan and not get to spend time at either one is a travesty! Gotta love business travel!

Happy Friday everyone!

Smart and Trendy Moms

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Itch...the Power of Suggestion

I really hate my coworkers sometimes.

OK, I don't really hate them but I majorly dislike them at times.

Well, not so much dislike as annoyed by them on occasion.

Just before I headed to Chicago on my solo road trip, a concerned know-it-all coworker asked me if I had seen the news reports about bed bugs and hotel rooms.

Of course I had! However, she went on to say how the nasty little biting hitch-hikers are more prevalent in hotels near airports. Now, I had NOT heard that particular news report!

Where was I headed the next day...a hotel near O' AIRPORT, in case you didn't know.

Thanks. Thanks a lot.

I went home and packed all of my clothes in those big, resealable spacesaver bags. When I got to the hotel room, I set my bag on a stool away from the bed. Then I threw the comforter off the bed and did a thorough check for unwanted bed partners.

Now, it was a shame that I was so paranoid because it was a beautiful hotel bed bugs at all. Lots of character and a way cool bathroom. But with the thought of those stupid bed bugs in the back of my head, I couldn't fully enjoy the experience!

Instead, I itched the entire time.

Now, I'm headed back to Chicago for another meeting soon. This time the hotel is downtown but I can't help but worry a bit about the possibility of getting bit!

Darn it...I itch again.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday...Lemurs Love Pumpkins

Lil' Sister and I headed to the Indianapolis Zoo with her little guy and two of our nephews last Saturday. They were excited to see all of the animals, including the elephants.

Since it was the weekend before Halloween, the zoo was decorated with skeletons, spiderwebs and more. Several of the animals had pumpkins to play with, including my favorite of the day, the lemurs.

The little guys really enjoyed watching the lemurs' antics but eventually one of those blow-up decorations caught their attention. Even lemurs inside a pumpkin can't compete with a kitty cat popping out of a Jack-o-lantern!

(Oops...linked to these parties last night but forgot to put up my post. First time that has happened!)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Baking Up Some Chewy Goodness

I am a huge believer in cookies.

Cookies for breakfast (I blame my mother). Cookies for a mid-morning snack. Cookies for a late-night snack. You see where I'm going here, right?

I have plenty of tried and true cookie recipes, but I'm always willing to open the recipe book and welcome a new one into the fold. This summer I saw a recipe for "Chocolate Chewies" in the local newspaper that intrigued me. It was from a local baker and the idea behind all of the recipes featured was gourmet cookies at home. It only had 5 ingredients and no flour. I had to try it.

Since the recipe calls for egg whites and powdered sugar, the end product had a lightness to it that normal cookies don't seem to have. Just remember one thing when you are working with powdered's powdery and can made a real mess if you get a bit crazy with the whisk!

The recipe called for toasted nuts - like walnuts - but I didn't have any so I just added extra chocolate chips. I also used Ghiradelli 60 percent Cacao (bittersweet chocolate) chips to punch them up a notch. Totally worth it!

This recipe is definitely going into the recipe book. And, Leah, these ARE making an appearance at the office this week!

Chocolate Chewies

3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
5 ounces chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups toasted nuts (such as walnuts)
4 egg whites

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine sugar and cocoa, whisking well to combine. Add chocolate and nuts. Add egg whites, and mix until combined.

Scoop golf ball-size portions of dough and place on parchment-lined sheet tray. Bake for 25 minutes until the tops begin to show small cracks.

Makes 1 dozen cookies (or more if you scoop out ping pong-sized portions).

From August 20, 2010 Indianapolis Star



Sunday, October 24, 2010

That Time of Year...Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins!

My sister called the other day to chat. During the conversation she casually reminded me that I haven't made any pumpkin chocolate chip muffins yet this year.

I'm not sure where I got this recipe (so if I got it from you...remind me) but it's become a family favorite. Usually I start thinking about making them right before Halloween (when I start seeing pumpkins everywhere). I make them several times between now and Thanksgiving. I think we like them all the more because they only appear for a short time. Kind of like Christmas cookies, Easter Peeps and mint dark chocolate Kit Kats (Hershey's PLEASE bring these back this Christmas).

Since Baby Sister and family were home this weekend to introduce Miss Jocelyn to her great-granny and other relatives, it was the perfect time to start baking. Mom had the whole family (all 14 of us) over for supper on Saturday night and I brought the muffins as a dessert option. We NEVER just have one dessert at a family gathering...Mom made her chocolate chip cookies too.

The recipe calls for 8 ounces of pumpkin but I usually buy the 15 ounce can so I usually double the recipe and make both mini muffins with mini chocolate chips and full-size muffins with regular chocolate chips. I really wanted to use the dark chocolate chips from Ghiradelli (not sure what they are called) but I didn't have them in my definitely next time!

I also had some fun Halloween cupcake liners that I picked up at Macy's after Halloween last year for dirt cheap so I pulled those out to use.

Love how the spiders on the big muffins look orange because of the pumpkin!

These are a great option either for dessert or breakfast. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
8 oz. canned pumpkin
3/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In large bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until smooth. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper-line muffin cips 3/4 full. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until muffins test done.

Serves: 1-1/2 dozen.

Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It All Relates Back to Friends

I've been fighting a sinus infection or allergies or a cold for more than a week now.

Every time I start talking to someone either in person or over the phone they almost immediately ask me if I'm sick. I think it's my raspy voice...could be the coughing, blowing or sniffing, but I think it's the raspiness.

I kind of like the sound of my "sick voice." It's a bit raspy.

I looked up the definition for raspy and it means "harsh, grating" so maybe my new voice isn't that cool. Oh well, I'm going with cool, not grating.

My new cool voice got me thinking about an old Friends episode. I like to relate things that happen in my life to episodes of Friends. Not sure why I do this, but it's been happening for years. For example, before I got my first spray tan I couldn't stop thinking about the episode where Ross's spray tan went horribly wrong!

Do you remember the episode when Phoebe caught a cold that made her singing voice sexy? Remember how she was desperate to get it back once the cold was gone?

Phoebe: I lost my sexy phlegm!

Monica: [Sneeze] Oh, gosh, Phoebe, I think I caught your cold!
Phoebe: You mean you stole it!
Monica: [Sneeze]
Phoebe: Don't cover your mouth when you do that!

Maybe I need to work on my version of Smelly Cat before it's too late.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Dreams: Chaos, Freedom and Detachment

I had a streak of very vivid dreams a few weeks ago.
 Now, I've always dreamed but they are never really anything too exciting or memorable. Kind of like this...
Blurred White by Petr Kratochvil

For about a week, I had dreams that were more like this...
Blurred Lights by Petr Kratochvil

The kind where I woke up and remembered EVERY detail. I could figure out why I had dreams about certain subjects. No dream analyst needed! For example...

Dream: Spiders crawling inside my fleece jacket and all over my walls.

Diagnosis: I have a coworker that is not fond of spiders (to say the least) and the day I had the spider dream, I had just put out a rubber spider in my office as a joke. Doesn't take a dream analyst to figure that one out!

Another good example...

Dream: A coworker showed me her indestructible Rice Krispie bridge, which I broke and then laughed at her and made her cry. I realized how upset she was and I tried to fix the bridge but it turned into a pirate ship.

Diagnosis: I ate a Rice Krispie treat at work that day and I have a coworker who I am hard on at times (she deserves it and can take it) who recently cried at work (I wasn't the cause). I figured that much out but I couldn't figure out why it turned into a pirate ship, so I turned to an online dream dictionary. According to, seeing a pirate in your dream signifies that some person or situation is adding chaos to your emotional life or that you feel that someone has violated your integrity or creativity. So I think my coworker was causing me CHAOS!

Now some of my dreams that week were WAY out there and I had no idea why I dreamed what I did. So once again, I turned to the online dream dictionary to help me out. For example...

Dream: Scene One, I was ballroom dancing with Richard Gere. Scene Two, I was sneaking out of a house away from Richard Gere and into my car. I woke up a little upset that I either didn't dream about or didn't remember what happened between the dancing and the sneaking!

Diagnosis: According to the dream dictionary, To dream that you are dancing, signifies FREEDOM from any constraints and restrictions. Your life is in balance and in harmony. Dancing also represents frivolity, happiness, gracefulness, and sensuality. You need to incorporate these qualities in your waking life. To dream that you are dancing with a partner, signifies intimacy and a union of the masculine and feminine aspects of yourself. I think dreaming that I was dancing with Richard Gere meant that I need to watch Pretty Woman again - it's been awhile!

Another example...

Dream: I was queen of the zombies and every 8 years the zombies came back and killed my partner so there would be a new leader. This was a very, very vivid dream and it played almost like a movie while I was sleeping. I even woke up once - thought what the heck is going on - and fell back asleep and right back into the dream where I left off.

Diagnosis: One of two thoughts. First, according to the dream dictionary, to see or dream that you are a zombie suggests you are physically and/or emotionally DETACHED from people and situations that are currently surrounding you. Second thought, earlier that night I recorded the movie Zombieland...I'm leaning towards the second diagnosis!

Since the zombie dream, my sleeping pattern has gotten back to normal. Not sure if my subconcious just wore itself out or if the cold medications that I've been taking have just dulled my senses.

Either way, I'm thankful. Although I did wake up the other morning remembering something about tigers on my dad's farm...probably need to look up the meaning to that!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Few Things Learned During a Sick Day(s)

I was feeling a bit under the weather this week so I stayed home from work for two days in a row.

I think this was the first time in my career that I've missed work for more than one day.

I learned a few things and thought I'd share them with you.

1.  Be sick on a Tuesday rather than a Wednesday - better shows on cable. Not sure about Monday, Thursday or Friday.

2.  Alligator fat tastes nasty. Thanks to Tuesday's marathon of Swamp People. Tony and is Cajun-luvin' ways is by far my fav Swamp guy!

3.  Even with the cheesy dialogue and rolled jeans, I still want to be Molly Ringwald sitting on top of a table leaning in to kiss Jake Ryan (don't remember the actor's name) on my 16th birthday. OK, maybe on my 32nd birthday. OK, OK, maybe on my 48th birthday, if I can still climb onto a table and sit cross-legged when I'm 48.

4.  I can still eat a half bag of Mini Oreos even with NO sense of taste.

5.  Being a deal-seeker pans out when you are sick. How many people have at least 5 options of cold medicine and a pantry full of tissues?
mixing cold medicines sounds like a good time when your nose is stuffy and your head hurts, but you should always follow dosing instructions (but the 3 hour nap after mixing is great)

6.  No matter how much lotion you put on your nose, after two days of sniffing, snuffling and blowing your nose is still going to be red and rough.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: My Heart

Nine years ago from this coming Saturday, my first nephew was born.

I fell in love instantly. I love watching him grow up and become his own person. I'm a very lucky Auntie to have such wonderful nephews (and now a niece).

Linking to: Wordless Wednesday, A Beautiful Mess, Live and Love Out Loud, and My Life in Jenga.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Welcoming a New Member to My Family

Baby Sister (aka Barbara over at Frugalista Farm Life) welcomed her first child into the world last night.

I guest blogged over at Frugalista Farm Life this morning so check out the details there.

More about my beautiful niece later...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Some Pumpkin Humor while "Experiencing the Farm"

Lil' Sister and I took her son and two of my (our) other nephews to Kelsay Farms - outside of Whiteland, Ind. - earlier today. Thank you to Liz and Amy over at Two Maids a Milking for the free passes! (Find the answer to the joke at the end of this post.)

It was a gorgeous day for some agritourism. Actually we are experiencing almost record highs here in central Indiana for this time of year. The high today was supposed to be around 84 degrees and tomorrow's high around 86! Thank goodness there was a breeze today and some places of shade on the farm.

Well, I took loads of photos - more than anyone other than the family cares to see - of the boys enjoying the great activities they have at Kelsay Farms - all of which are free (except for the food). So once you pay the admission fee, plan to put away the wallet until it's time to grab a milkshake, grilled cheese or cheeseburger (the burger is made from Dougherty Farm Fresh Beef - a local beef farm).

Instead of posting all of my photos, I decided to do a Top 5 Countdown of my favorite experiences at Kelsay Farms during. It was hard to narrow it down to just five, but I did. And in true countdown fashion, I'm starting at number 5!

5)  The excitement on my nephews' faces when they saw the two 16-day-old Holstein calves.

Doesn't it kind of look like the boys are behind the bars? Sometimes I wish I could put them in one! Guess that's why I'm an aunt and not the mom!

4)  The "King of the Mountain" moment on top of the Straw Pyramid.

This was by far their favorite attraction this afternoon. They loved the climbing...

the crawling...

and the sliding.

3)  The opportunity to rest in the shade and listen to a story. Each weekend they feature some special activities at the farm. This weekend Rodeo Ron (a real-life rodeo clown) came and read a book under the food tent. All the kids got to have their picture taken with him afterwards.

Then Liz and Amy served cookies and milk. The book was about a cowboy riding into a town called Cavity (I think) where sugary sodas were the drink of choice and how he showed the townspeople how good a milkshake can taste. So the kids cold add their own flavoring to their milk. The eldest nephew loved that activity.

Miss Liz made and shared the cow-shaped cookies. Here she is with Amy's two cowgirls!

The two youngest nephews really enjoyed the cookies. Doesn't he look like he has an icing goatee?

2) The youngest nephew running face first into a standing cornstalk in the Corn Maze. Now, I know I'm an awful person, but it was laugh out loud funny - even his mom laughed! I didn't get a photo of it, but I did capture a couple of special moments.

The eldest nephew was our fearless leader...maybe that was why by the time we found the end the little boys were whining for a drink and Lil' Sister and I were ready to blaze our own trail out! I do think if we didn't have the little boys, I would have had a lot more patience and had a lot more fun. Still a must-do activity!

1) The memories made and the opportunity to spend a few hours with my family at a family farm who is doing a great job educating folks about today's agriculture!  Amy is a former Extension Educator so teaching is in her blood so this experience is really about more than just fun...but there is a lot of that to be had as well.

Ever heard of a "corn angel"...

Now, for the answer to the Joke of the Day: How do you mend a broken Jack-O-Lantern?

Take it to a PUMPKIN PATCH!!



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