Thursday, December 31, 2009

Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning's End

Well, we are at another end of a year. It is hard to believe that it is already 2010!

When I was little, I thought 2010 sounded so far away and imagined that we would have flying cars, robots to clean our homes and we would be all working at "Spacely's Sprockets."

Even though all of those dreams of the future haven't come true, (too bad, I would really like a robot maid to clean my house), there still have been plenty of innovations that make our lives a whole lot better.

Over 20 years ago, who would have thought that Web sites such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter would be available, let alone the idea of social networking over the Internet.

Who would have thought that such a wide database of information would be available at our fingertips thanks to sites such as Wikipedia.

Is is virtually impossible to not find what you are looking for while surfing the net. From how to carve a turkey to how to solve difficult math equations it is right within our grasp and imagination!

But, no matter how far we have come, as part of our human nature, we try to make things better every year, including ourselves.

This brings me to my New Year's resolution part of my blog.

Everyone and their mother and brother have a New Year's resolution.

I could always go with my old tired and true resolution of dieting and exercising. But, when I don't live up to my expectations, I am disappointed and feel like I failed.

This year, I am going to do things a little different.

In the spirit of Social Networking sites, I am going to try and make my 2010 all about networking.

This year am I am going to reconnect with past friends and acquaintances and create new ones. I am going to find a place to volunteer. Not just any place to spend some idle time, but a place that I really feel passionate about.

I am going to find a choir or theater group to join. I have really missed having those two elements to my life.

And, I am going to count my blessings and be thankful for the friends and family that I have. Unfortunately, as many of us know, life can change in an instant.

I am not really sure who reads this blog, or if anyone does, but if anyone is reading these words on this page I hope that you and your loved ones have a very happy and safe New Year, that is filled with many pleasant surprises and blessings.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Those glist'ning houses that seem to be built of snow ..."

As I sit here typing this, snow is falling gently outside laying a nice blanket to wrap all of the neighboring houses and trees, I have the Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack playing on the CD player in the next room, and the Christmas tree is lit.

Too bad my husband had to work today, or else it would be the perfect snowy morning!

I am not a person who really enjoys winter and snow. In fact, I hate it because I can't wear flip flops!

But, there is just something so magical about the very first snowfall of the season right around Christmas time.

It is like walking into a Thomas Kinkade or Currier and Ives painting!

So, if you live in a place that is blessed with the gently falling snow today, go out and enjoy it before it is all turned to a chalky, salty or cindered mess.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December is all about Sparkle

Each month Martha Stewart comes to our home.

Well, not actually, but technically she is here in spirit in the form of her Living magazine.

My awesome Mother-in-Law gives me her copy of the magazine once she is done reading it.

Each month, I love looking at her different articles about how to spin your own wool and how to crochet a pair of socks or even how to make the most complicated recipe in the world.

So in the spirit of Martha's visit, I am going to try and review her magazine each month. I will pick out the good parts and the ridiculous parts and share them with you in this blog segment called: Living with Martha.

For this month's cover, Martha and her crew went all out. Not only is there one cover, not just two covers but three separate covers on this bad boy.

On the main cover, Martha promises to share with me 138 of the Best Decorations, Recipes and Gifts from A to Z. (She also wishes me a "Sparkling Season" which I thought was very nice of her.)

The second cover features "Martha's Famous Croquembouche" and she assures me that it is easier than it looks. When I can't even pronounce it, I know nothing is going to be easy about this recipe.

The final cover has a photo of "Ombre Glitter and Luxurious Bows" and tells me that I should "Dress up with Bells, Bows and Glittering Decorations". Apparently Martha is all about the sparkle this year.

After the barrage of covers, there is my favorite part of the magazine, Martha's Calendar. (I talked about my love for this in my previous post).

Skip past all of the children clothing and car ads plus the Editor's Letter and finally on page 35 there is something to sink your teeth into: "From My Home to Yours (Faux trees are genuinely beautiful and making a deserved comeback)."

In this article, Martha talks about the shinny aluminum trees that were created in the 1950s to provide people with a reusable and environmentally friendly option for the family's Tannenbaum.

She also talks about feather trees and wood trees and how much she prefers these vintage trees to regular ones.

She goes on to say that even though these trees were originally sold for $25, their new cousins can cost hundreds of dollars in retail stores today.

The recipe for the fancy dessert that I can't pronounce is on the next page. (You know the one that is going to be easy.) It takes up a whole page. She even makes her own caramel to go over the whole thing. Way too much work for me.

For the Jewish readers, Martha has a recipe to make marshmallow dreidels. This is actually a really cute idea!

She dips the bottom of 1 chocolate kiss in 8 ounces of melted semisweet chocolate and presses it on to one marshmallow. Cut a slit in the bottom of the marshmallow and insert one thin pretzel stick. Then dip the whole dreidel into chocolate and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. After set, she says to pipe white chocolate onto the sides of the dreidel by writing Hebrew letters.

In her craft section, Martha shows a new knit solution to weave really cute adornments that can be placed on sweaters and scarves any anywhere else that needs a little extra pop of color.

The only catch is that you have to go out and purchase a kit called the Knitwit for about $20.

In my opinion $20 isn't that much to spend on something that can make all of these cute different baubles like this knitwit purse.

Also in her crafts section, Martha shows how to make different kinds of candles including scented soy votive candles and frosty salted pillars.

When I see her candle recipes, I always say that I am going to give them a try. Unfortunately, because of our two cats, having lit candles in our house is really not an option.

Now for the meat and Potatoes of the magazine: Holiday ideas from A to Z.

This section features several beautiful photographs and different ideas to make your Christmases bright.

There is so much information in this section, that it makes the magazine worth purchasing.

I am not going to get into too much detail on the blog about all of the projects, but I will list what the A to Z items are.

Snow Angels (maybe stretching for the letter A a little bit)
Bells, Bows and Bowwow
Christmas Cookies
Deck the Halls
Elves at Work
A Family Feast (complete with several recipes for your family feast)
Giving Gifts and Handmade Cards
Cool as Ice
Jolly Kris Kringle (I feel like I was cheated out of a letter)
Light up the Night
Making Spirits Bright
Naughty or Nice
Oh, What Fun it is to Make a Peppermint House
Let it Snow
Trim the Tree With Treasures From the Sea
Uncommon Vision
Winter Welcome
Traditional Xmas Breads
Yuletide Treats
Just Add Zest

All of the recipes and instructions for the crafts and decorations are included in the magazine along with some detailed photos of how to do some of the steps.

For those who are trying to watch their waistline so they don't end up with a "bowl full of jelly" will want to check out Fit To Eat: Cocktail-party foods with a healthy streak. Some of the recipes include Shrimp and Avocado Salad on Endive Leaves, Warm Spinach-White Bean Dip with Crudites and Chicken Skewers With Walnuts and Cilantro.

All in all, the December edition of Living is worth the purchase price. It is filled with delicious holiday recipes that will warm your home and your tummy, cute crafts that the whole family can make and some decorating ideas that will add some sparkle to your home.

In my opinion, this issue is "A Good Thing."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

To Do or Not To Do, That is the Question.

I am a huge fan of To Do Lists. They help me keep organized, plus when I am able to cross of something on the list, I feel this huge sense of accomplishment.

There is also someone else who is a fan of a To Do List, or a calendar as she calls it. She is pretty famous, and because she pretty much does everything herself (including making her own honey from her own bees) it is no wonder that she needs a To Do List.

I am talking about the infamous/famous Martha Stewart.

Love or hate this woman, she does have a system worked out and she can make a sweater out of bellybutton lint. (I know during one of her episodes she showed how to do this.)

Martha loves her To Do List so much, that she likes to have them printed in her Living Magazine.

Every morning, I love to see what wacky things she has planned for today.

For Example:

Wednesday, December 2:
* Clean out gutters for the last time, and add leaves to compost
* Send invitations for eggnog party.

OK, first of all, cleaning out gutters full of leaves sounds like a good idea. I think everyone should do it. In fact, if we had more trees around us, I would suggest to the hubby that he climb on a ladder this weekend and dig the suckers out.

Even adding the leaves to a compost pile is a good idea. I am sure there are some avid gardeners and HGTV hosts out there that have compost piles and would be able to use their gutter leaves.

But the biggest problem I have with this is, do you really think Martha Stewart, herself, is at her country home today, up on a ladder digging leaves out of her gutters? I do not think so. Come on, she probably has a gardener or his assistant up on a ladder while she is down below telling him he is not using the proper technique.

As for the eggnog party, who does this? Who sends out hand calligraphy invitations that tell people to join them for an eggnog party?

Can you imagine what this party would be like? There is no way there would be plastic jugs of eggnog sitting around for everyone can taste the subtle nuances that make each one different. I am sure her eggnog would be hand crafted and in beautiful crystal punch bowls and have exotic flavors like caramel and Irish Cream.

Hopefully the eggnog is full of alcohol and everyone can have a good time.

Just for the sheer ridiculousness, I think I am going to have to include Martha's daily activities in my blog posts.

Now, my To Do List is a little different. I kind of treat it like a wish list. It is what I wish gets accomplished today. A lot of the things on the list are completely doable, but some might be carried over to tomorrow.

For example: Create this year's Christmas card list. This is something I might get to today, but will most likely be finished tomorrow. Where as, showering and spraying the cat with water to get out of the Christmas tree will most definitely be finished today.

But as I know, I am not Martha Stewart, so I guess it is OK to let some items on my To Do List go until tomorrow.

And in my world, "That's a good thing."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Helpful Holiday Hint

I know I have not been keeping up with my helpful hint's but I am going to try to get back in the groove.

When I was working on cleaning up my grandmother's sliver ware, I came across this tip from Martha Stewart's Real Simple web site.

I have posted the link to the video and step-by-step instructions that shows how to clean silverware with some aluminum foil, boiling water, baking soda and salt. (Even MacGyver would be proud).

Shine Away

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why did the Turkey Cross the Road.....

As I stood there in our kitchen cursing at the butter because I could not beat it into submission so I could cut cute little leaf shapes into it, I really began to hate Thanksgiving.

I had spent the morning ironing (which I absolutely hate doing) the tablecloth and napkins, hand washing our good china so we could use it for the first time, surfing the Internet on how to "un-tarnish" my grandmother's silverware and trying to explain to a very zealous cat that cutlery is not for kittens.

Everything was going well, until I could not get those leaf shapes into the butter. It was at this point I knew I had given into the "holiday perfection demon."

This demon (who in my mind looks a little like the Weight Watcher's Hungry Monster but a little more evil) always pays me a visit at this time of year. He likes to remind me that everything needs to be absolutely perfect. That because it is a holiday, things need to be more special.

This is the same creature that can reduce me into a melting mass of emotion because I cannot make the perfect bow for our Christmas wreath. It is also the same being that drives me to find the perfect gift, have it be on sale and wrapped perfect with sharp, crisp edges.

But, as I stood there with the butter-covered rolling pin in my hand, instead of smashing the butter, I decided to smash away my holiday demon.

So what if there is one little wrinkle in the tablecloth? So what if we have to eat butter off of one of our everyday dishes that do not match our china? So what if there is one little speck of tarnish at the base of a piece of the silverware?

Once I had shipped off my holiday menace, something happened: I really started to see the real meaning behind Thanksgiving.

I know it is so cliche and sounds like an after school or Charlie Brown television special but it is true.

There are so many times that I look at my faults and what I do not have, that I miss all that I am truly blessed to have.

So in the spirit of the holiday, I have decided to make a "Thankful List" (in no particular order).

* I am thankful for my family and friends who continue to support and love me.

*I am thankful for my wonderful husband who has been by my side for 10 years.

* I am thankful for having God in my life. I know there are bad times, but there will also be good times and He will not give me anything I cannot handle.

*I am thankful for my freedom. This is becoming more and more of a thing to be thankful for considering the state of the world today.

*I am thankful to have a roof over my head, food on the table and clothes in my closet. Everyday I take for granted the most simple and basic needs that are met each day.

* I am thankful for our two cats. They have provided us with so much joy and happiness, with just a touch of anxiety to keep things interesting.

I don't want to get "preachy" but this Thanksgiving, instead of fighting over the turkey drumstick, or complaining about your grandmother asking you when you are going to get married or have a baby, just take a deep breath and count your blessings.

I wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving full of good food, fellowship and many fond memories.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I know things will never be the same

Well, this month both mine and Kevin's world changed forever. Nothing bad happened (praise the Lord), actually something really good happened.

We added another little ball of fur into our home!

For awhile now we had been wanting to get our current cat, Anastasia, a friend to play with.

She would play with us for awhile, but then she would still walk around the house meowing, would run from window to window if she saw one of the neigborhood's outdoor cats running around.

So last Monday, Kev and I went back to the WONDERFUL shelter that we addopted Anna from, which is Fayette Friends of Animals.

We looked around at all of the different cats, including a Tortie who was in love with Kev and wanted constant petting, a sweet little Calico that keep smooshing his face on both Kev's feet and my legs, but I had decided that one Calico was all that we could handle since they are notoriously known for being a little kooky.

When we went into the second room a sweet little long haired grey cat, named Brino came up to us. On a little side note, the little guy was named Brino because they had thought he was a girl and decided to call him Sabrina, but when he went to go have his "guy parts edited" they found out he was a boy and changed his name to Brino.

Anyway, when Kev picked him up he started purring like a beautiful classic car and we decided he was the one.

When we went to put in our adoption application for him, a different girl told us that someone had already put in an application for him, but they were still waiting to hear from their landlord, so still turn one in for him.

I was really heartbroken because I really felt like he was going to be the perfect cat for our Anna.

The following day, Thursday, I received a phone call from the shelter saying he was ours because it had been over 20 since the people turned in their application and they were still waiting for the Landlord's phone number.

We made arrangements to pick him up.

But, before we did, I wanted to do some research on how to introduce the new cat to the current cat. This was a very big mistake!

A lot of Web Sites said to introduce the two cats through the pet taxi, then put the new cat in one room and shut the door and put the current cat in a room and shut the door. Then bring out the new cat and let him sniff around. Put him back in his room and bring out the current cat and let him sniff around. Then exchange blankets that they have been laying on so they can get each others scent. The web site also said that this could take up to three or four weeks before you can let them run around the house comfortably. This is when I started to panic!

I do not have the patience or the time to do this for three or four weeks. I thought it would be, put the new cat in a room, slap a baby gate on the door and let Anna look at him through the gate for a while and then remove the gate.

So, we decided to go with our original plan, and went to Target (or Tar-jay) to purchase a baby gate, I know my mother was thrilled to have something associated with babies finally in our house, and we put the new cat in our office and let him out.

After about an hour, we removed the baby gate and let nature take its course.

There was some sniffing, some little grunting noises, but around an hour later, Finnegin, that is what we decided to call the new cat, and Anna were tearing around the house playing with each other.

It is easy to see that Finnegin adores Anna. He follows her around, and when he has a hard time keeping up with her, because he has little legs, she will turn around and wait for him to catch up.

They love having "epic battles" on the cat tree and behind the pillows on our bed. (It has gotten so bad that I am changing out our comforter so they don not snag it any more than it already has been.)

I am so happy the two of them are enjoying each other, and I am so glad we brought Finnegin home. There is just a little part of me that hopes that Anna still needs me a little.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

You want how much for that?!

As the summer begins to fade, I always find myself a little sad. It is not because I despise fall. Actually, I love fall and the month of October. It is because I know what happens after fall that makes me depressed and wanting to latch on to the lazy summer August days.

But, as the Bible and the Byrds say, "To every season, turn, turn, turn."

So in honor of Halloween things being out at the Dollar Store, and the end of the Fayette County Fair in sight, I thought I would start looking at Halloween costumes. (Plus there was an ad on Facebook that I decided to click.)

Like I said, I love October and Halloween, and I do enjoy dressing up for the holiday. But, in the past I have been very disappointed with the selection of costumes for women.

I had hoped against hope, that maybe this year would be different. That the costume manufactures, who are obviously men, would wake up and realize that not everyone out there wants to go around parading themselves looking like tarts. But, alas, it is not only just as bad this year, but even worse.

Any of you who have been to a costume store in the past 10 years, knows exactly the kinds of costumes out there. The costumes that are available out there have a time and place, but going to a Halloween party should not be one of those places.

So in order for me to completely express my disgust I thought I would post a few examples:

This little number which is called "Adult Hermione Costume" would be perfect if you are taking your kids trick-or-treating, or if you are having a children's Halloween party. Not only would you be a hit with the kids, but with the dads as well.

Now, I have read the Harry Potter books, and I do not quite remember Hermione wearing any thing like this.

This cute little number can be yours for $47.50.

I do not know why costume manufactures insist on taking beloved childhood characters and making them "sexy."

This is the issue I have with "Sexy Willy Wonka." I grew up watching Willy Wonka. My poor grandmother had to endure the movie as it was aways in the VCR on repeat when I was growing up.

Once again, a big hit with the kiddies.

What a steal for only, $57.95!

Zeus' beard, what is this thing?! Oh wait, the name says "Honey Bee." I don't know what kind of bee this is supposed to be. Pom-Poms and fuzzy legwarmers do not make a bee. And just because, it is black and gold does not mean it is a bee. It could also be "Sexy Steeler Fan."

The only group I think who would remotely dig this outfit, would be fan-boys.

This monstrosity can be yours for just $78.95. But, if you want the leg warmers it is an additional $49.95.

Those were just a few tame examples. (Believe me there are costumes out there that are a lot worse.)

I guess what kills me the most, is the price. Here, this costume made from dental floss, post-it notes and Bubble Tape will run you about $100, but the Bubble Tape is sold separately.

In a world where so many women have body image issues, it also seems masochistic to walk into a costume shop and see that really your only option is to either make your own costume or buy the t-shirt that says "This is my costume."

What are we teaching teen girls? That it is OK to parade around in almost nothing, and that it is OK to do it once a year at Halloween, and that is your only real option.

I am sorry, but I do not buy into this, and I refuse to spend a penny on any of this garbage.

So I will continue my search, or dust off my sewing machine and come up with my own options.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Behind the Veil

So I am pretty excited that we are 95% sure we are going to be going to Disney this year!

After we had bought the house, and sunk a lot of money into it, we thought that we wouldn't be able to go back this year. But, because our kitchen was cheaper than we thought it was going to be, and Kev had some updates at work, and because life is short, we have decided to go.

There is also a possibility that my parents might be coming with us, which would be a lot of fun since they haven't been there in about 13 years.

In order to save some money, we decided to stay at a value resort. When I was younger we stayed at the Disney Villas (which aren't there anymore) and The Caribean Beach Resort. For our honeymoon we stayed at Animal Kingdom, and last year we stayed at Coronado Springs Resort. So we had never stayed at a value resort before.

I keep on going back between All-Star Music and Pop Century. I like the theme of Music, but I keep on hearing about how Pop is quieter.

Since I am between the two hotels, I decided to do a lot of research on the internet to see what other people thought about the two.

As I was looking through an older Unofficial Disney guide at the resort maps, I saw a whole section of Pop Century called the legendary years. This featured the 1900-1940s. I thought this would be awesome! I love those decades and I am sure the themeing would be awesome!

So I set to the internet and tried to find more information about this, but when I looked at Disney's site, I couldn't find any info.

When I googled "the legendary years," I found some interesting info.

Here is a photo I found on a message board:

This is one of the buildings that is supposed to be the in Legendary Section. What had happened, apprently, was that disney started to build the whole Pop Century resort and then 9/11 happened. The Disney corporation thought that visits to the park would decline significantly, and they decided to put a hold on the project.

Once the other side of Pop Century (The Classic Years) was completed, this other side has laid derelict and creepy. The rooms are not finished, the plumbing is even rusting. There are no stairswells to get to the upper floors, and the railings are only pieces of 2x4s put in place to keep workers from falling over the edge.

Here is a photo of the lobby building of the Legenday Years that I got from the same person, CanadianGuy on the DisBoards.

In order to get the full experience of how creepy it really is, watch this video that a brave person, DisneyProjectTracker:

What I find hard to believe that Disney would just let this "mess" stay standing and not do anything with it. It just doesn't seem the "Disney-way" to have these structures still standing. Those who stay at Pop Century have to look at this, and it takes away from the magic.

So after seeing all of this, I thought, "Well, the mouse must have plans for this." So I read they they are going to raize the buildings, and put in some family suites and name it "Animator's Inn." I am not sure what it entails, but it should be interesting.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I am not on Etsy

After finally waiting and saying that I was going to do it, I finally did it. I became a seller on etsy!

So excited! So check out the few things I have listed. I hope to add to this list very soon.

It's a start!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How to Beat the Summer Heat

It is hard to believe that Memorial Day has already come and gone. It seems like only yesterday I was complaining about how much I hated the months of January, February and March and couldn't wait for the Summer to be here.

As the temperature rises, I can't hold back the childlike glee that is inside that looks forward to the extended hours of daylight, warm breezes cruising on by and especially the thought of little day trips here and there. But, as I continue to read about the recession, and see that all of our extra money is being poured into our new home, I start to feel a little sadness about summer 2009.

Ever since I have been born, I have been going to Kennywood each summer. (It comes with the territory when your father worked there for many years when he was in high school.) I couldn't wait to ride the first ride of the season, and inhale the sweet smells of motor oil and Potato Patch Fries. We would go at least once, maybe even twice a season.

So in my anticipation of our annual trip, I decided to visit Kennywood's website and see what new things they have in store. As I was surfing around I saw how much tickets are this year: $33.99. What the heck! Did they mysteriously double the amount of rides and attractions so that it would justify charging this much? As I scrolled over the rides and shows section of the website, I saw that only one new ride was added to replace one that they had taken out last year.

Now for the sake of doing easy math let's just say that tickets cost $34. For my husband and I to go it would cost $68 for tickets. Parking would be about $15 so now we are up to $83 before we even enter the park. Well if you expect to get some of those tasty fries and a drink for two people it will cost about $30 which will now make it $113. I always like to take my chances and play a few games (the ping pong pool and I are still at war) you can easily spend another $30. So for a couple to go to Kennywood, park, eat and play a few games it will cost you $143! I won't even figure out the cost for a family of four! And Kennywood has some nerve calling themselves a great American amusement park.

So unless we get free tickets to Kennywood, which might happen, we will not be going this year. So will end another Summer tradition.

Another thing I like to do in the Summer is maybe go to a concert. Well, I do have to say that no one that I really want to see will be traveling to our area. Kev has threatened to take me to see Bob Dylan in Washington, PA. I told him that Simon and Garfunkle was about as mellow as I can handle, and I don't think that I can sit through listening to a man who sounds like he has a box or rocks in his mouth.

But, what I am most sad about, and it is going to completely make me sound like a spoiled brat, is that we will not be able to make it to Disney World this year.

Since our honeymoon, we have decided to try and make it to Disney each year around our anniversary. If we would save up money during the year, and make a few cutbacks we could do it. But, since we bought the house and have to make renovations, we aren't going to be going this year. But, to help "ease our pain" my parents have offered to take us on their vacation this year to wonderful Branson, Mo! Yes, you heard right. The playground for senior citizens. The land of early bird specials, Tony Orlando and hip replacements! I think I might have to make a separate entry about the wonders of Branson.

But, as we do approach the Summer, I do take comfort that we will find ways to make it fun, and little trips to make it exciting.

Hey, anything beats sub-zero degree temperature!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I really didn't want to

I swear I really didn't want to. I told myself that I would be strong no matter what. But, yesterday as the clock started hedging closer and closer to 9 p.m. I found my strength starting to weaken. And by 9 p.m. I had finally given into the beast that is "Jon and Kate Plus 8."

Kevin and I used to watch the show all the time. Almost like we were in the Gosselin cult. We couldn't wait to see what new animal cutie Aaden was going to pretend to be, or what older sister Maddy would pout about this week. Our DVR was pretty much a treasure trove of episodes of Jon and Kate.

But, as the seasons started to progress, we found ourselves wanting to tune in less and less. We loved to watch the family deal with everyday simple adventures like going out to pick pumpkins at a nearby farm, or visiting the dentist and we really enjoyed watching the whole brood take a trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo. But, when they started to get free trips to Utah, California, Hawaii and everywhere in between, we started to lose interest. No longer was this just a simple family trying to get by with eight children, it was just a promotional tool and money making scheme.

What put the proverbial nail in the coffin for us, is when Jon and Kate started hocking a V-Cast educational video game system during their show. Talk about product placement!

From then on we were done except for an occasional short visit as we were flipping through the channels, or looking at photos online of their huge new mansion. We were done. Our DVR was cleaned out, and our season pass cancelled.

I thought that might be the end of Jon and Kate and their cuties for us. But, then the firestorm started. Allegations about Jon's unfaithfulness, and then Kate's unfaithfulness. Woes of their troubles in their marriage were being splattered over every tabloid and magazine in the check-out aisle.

Since I had invested so much time in this family I wanted to know what was going on. When I heard about Jon's wild nights out at a bar in a college town I was shocked. Part of me could see why he would do this, because Kate is hard to handle at times, but he has to think about the eight children that he is a father to. With Kate running around doing book signings and promotional things for the show, I can understand how he might get lonely, but don't you think that eight children might keep you busy?

All during the media frenzy, Jon kept on saying that he wanted his privacy and just wanted to be able to go out and be a normal person. Well, I am sorry but when you sign up to have every move of you and your family broadcasted on a major television station, and when you get between $25,000 to $75,000 an episode, you give up your freedom. I do agree that sometimes the paparazzi do go a little far, and that the children shouldn't be followed all the time, but it is the sad truth that is reality television.

What is also sad, is watching Jon and Kate interact, and I use that term loosely, during the season premier episode.

When Kev and I used to watch it, we used to see a few glimmers of similarities in Jon and Kate's relationship that are in ours. The playful banter, Kate's anal organization, Jon's flippant and calm attitude when things got stressful. We would laugh and nudge each other during the episode.

Now, I don't want to see any part of ourselves in them. They have taken their marriage and turned it a very said play in which both actors really don't want to be there. Their interviews are now taped separately instead of together. Kate sits in the middle of the couch surrounded by pillows, while Jon assumes his regular seat on the left hand side of the couch, almost as if he is saving a spot for Kate.

It seems like the children are almost blissfully unaware by all that is swirling around them. During the sextuplets 5th birthday party, Alexis, I think it was her, goes over and talks to her dad. She tells him that her friend, who is a boy, came to the party. Jon goes and jokes to her that she isn't hugging or kissing him, is she? Alexis looks at him in all seriousness and says that she only hugs and kisses are parents. She then goes and gives him a great big hug, and you can tell how much Jon has missed his family. When they release from the hug, Alexis says to her dad that she misses him and that she wishes he wouldn't go away any more. Jon says to her that dad sometimes has to go away for work. She then walks off. It breaks your heart!

Toward the end of the episode, both Jon and Kate were together in an interview. Both keeping a distance between the other one. Their attitudes almost made it seem that the inevitable was going to happen, and clips of next week's episode of Kate and her daughter Cara traveling to California alone to relax while Jon stays home with the kids makes it seem like we are already watching Jon plus 8 or Kate plus 8. It is really sad to watch.

But, as everyone makes a great hoopla about Jon and Kate, we mustn't forget that these are real lives of real people. When the show is done taping for the day, the cold shoulders, grimacing smiles and glares of unresolved dislike don't go away. They just continue to fester.

It is my hopes and prayers that the children survive unscathed by all of this.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

This Old House

On Monday we closed on the house. It was a very exciting and scary time. Nice to know that we now own our own house, but still a little scary to know that we are putting out such a large sum of money.

Since then, Kev and I did a little bit of work on the place. He changed all of doorknobs, I cleaned off one of the ceilings and we both started to rip off some the trim in the bedroom so we could start to paint.

Well our Electrician came yesterday and did work on the house. I was impressed when Kev and I went to the house later to check out the progress and he pretty much had the whole house rewired.

But, I wasn't prepared for the shock of what our contractor did yesterday. I had to take some photos!

Here is our house with our cabinets sitting outside. Now, in our neck of the woods, this is kind of a typical sight.

And you wouldn't be surprised to find an old range sitting on a back porch either.

Just as a refresher, this is what the kitchen looked like before.

And here is that same kitchen now. They removed all of the cabinets, counter top, plaster walls, flooring, ceiling and...........

..........the wall between the living room and the kitchen.

Who knows what they will have done today when we go over this evening.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

It is official!

Well, it is official. Come May 11 at 1:30 p.m. Kev and I will be homeowners!!!!!!!

After about three years of searching, we have found a place. It is in the area that we really wanted to end up in, it has a double lot that will allow us to expand down the road and it is on a nice street that is across the street from Kev's parents' house.

We did get the house at a good price, however we have to do some major remodeling. The kitchen needs to be gutted. It's not functioning, has peach wooden cupboards, and the flooring is rotting. The rest of the house has hardwood floors, but they are so damaged we are probably just going to have laminate hardwood laid down.

All the rooms need to be painted (that isn't a big deal.) They are also going to tear out the concrete, tiny patio in the back and put on a bigger deck.

We are also going to have to update the vanity, mirror and put in an exhaust fan in the bathroom.

There is also a possibility that the whole house will need to be rewired because all of the outlets are two pronged and not grounded.

And if we have funds available, we are going to change the front a little by adding a different front porch to make it more welcoming.

I almost forgot, we are going to knock down the wall between the kitchen and the living room to open it up.

So there are a lot of things that need to happen to the house before we can move in. We met with two different contractors. One was way overpriced and said it would take 10 to 12 weeks to finish everything. Well, that isn't good for us because we don't want to have to pay for rent and mortgage for that long of a period of time.

The other guy we met with on Tuesday, and he said it should take only about 4 weeks and he will get us a price by Friday. So we are waiting to see.

But, here is a slide show of some of the photos of the house. Kev is going to take his video camera and we will tape a tour so you can get the full experience. But, these pictures will do for now.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Well, it feels like the Earth is standing still. The day is going so slow. Right now I am waiting for a source to get back to me about a newspaper article. This is the hardest part about being a journalist. Once I have the interview completed, the rest of the article is easy. I just hate playing phone tag.

So I am left to pretty much wait and see the rest of the day. So, I am just surfing the net and seeing if there are any discounts on Disney trips for this year. We haven't booked yet, and are trying to stretch our dollars as much as possible. But, that is pretty much just waiting for people to get back to me on price quotes.

I am also waiting for my package of E.L.F. makeup products to arrive so I can get ready for the day. Kev and I are going to be going over to his parents' house for dinner at 6pm, so until then I don't really have much to do today.

Maybe if the sun would come out for awhile, the day would be a little better.

I guess I had better get back to my waiting.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Time Flies......

Wow. I can't believe how long it has been since I last posted.

I apologize for the long time gap, but things have gotten a little hectic in my life. Good hectic, not bad hectic. But, that is another blog, for another day.

Since I haven't done any product reviews in a while, I just wanted to share my latest new favorite thing. So here is a special Thursday edition of:

Like all of the media outlets saying, everyone is feeling the recession. Some people are going out to dinner and movies less, some people are not traveling as much and others are cutting back on personal luxuries.

I prefer to handle this situation by buying smart. Cutting coupons, watching for items to go on sale and then stock up and even going to Sam's Club to buy huge bottles of shampoo that will last for about six months a piece.

But, one of the best companies out there that gives you quality products, but only charges a fraction of the cost is EyesLipsFace or E.L.F.

E.L.F apparently has been around for a while, and a lot of the fashion mags are a fan of their products as well.

They sell everything from foundation and lipstick to all types of makeup brushes and beauty tools. And here is the beauty part of it, everything is one dollar!

According to their website, the company's philosophy is that, "...innovative technology, quality ingredients and superb delivery systems should not be limited to prestige retailers. Every woman should have the opportunity to participate in innovation, without sacrificing her budget." (Sounds like my kind of philosophy.)

You want to try out the latest shade of lipstick, but you are not sure if it will look good on you, go to E.L.F. Because, if you do not like how it looks , then you only wasted a dollar.

They do have some products, like their professional and mineral makeup items that are more than one dollar, but they are still sold at a better price than what you would find at your local big box store.

I decided to try them out a few weeks ago and I ordered foundation, bronzer, lipstick, nail polish, a brush set, blush, glimmer and some other things and it only cost me $20.

I also get a ton of emails from them with coupons. Today, I restocked on some items and I got 50 percent off of my total order!

There are a few drawbacks. The size of the products are a little small, and shipping does take a while. But you can solve these problems by ordering a little more than what you think you need, and ordering before you completely run out.

In my opinion, E.L.F. products are an absolute buy!

To view their product line, place an order or even to find out more information go to .

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's a great day to be from Pittsburgh!

What an exciting Super Bowl!!!

Cicero once said, "Where there is life, there is hope."

Last night, the Steelers gave a great show of life, so now we will wait for the hope to follow!

Photo from Sports Illustrated

Another thing about the Super Bowl was the halftime show. What a great show the Boss gave!

The only disappointment that came from Pennsylvania was from the furry weather predictor, Phil. He saw his shadow, so I guess that means six more weeks of winter. But, I guess you lose some and you win some!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane....(well not really, but it wold be nice)

If you read my earlier blog, then you know how I feel about winter. I hate it. I used to love it when I was in school because then you could get delays and cancellations. But, when you are an adult, it just loses it luster.

So I decided, just for kicks, I would take a look and see if there was anyplace warm where we could go for a long weekend and not break the bank. So far, I haven't found anything.

Sandals Resort is saying that they are offering 60 percent off some of their packages. Well, for four days, including airfare it is still about $1,700 for the two of us. Not really what I wanted to spend.

There is a nice package for a 3 day cruise to the Bahamas that would be $558 for the both of us. Not a bad price at all! But, round trip airfare is about $200 for each of us. So there goes that idea. Plus, cruises worry me. There are pirates, people getting sick and people disappearing.

There is a 50 night Mediterranean Cruise. Fifty nights! That is for people who are so rich they don't need to work, and they have all the time off in the world. This cruise is over $8,000 and that doesn't include airfare.

Well, I think that I won't be going anywhere until October when we go to Disney.

So until then, I think I will surf Netflix for travel videos.

Bon Voyage!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Not Here It Isn't

For about 16 months my husband and I have been renting and living in a duplex. Well, actually it is like 3/4 of a house because we split the first floor with our neighbors, and then we have the whole upstairs. It isn't a bad place, rent is very reasonable and our neighbors are super nice. But, we would still like to own a place of our own that we could fix up and add our personal touches to it.

So we have been looking around at houses for awhile. We probably have toured about 20 different houses and came up empty. We actually put in an offer on a house, but they turned us down.

Our quest continues and we grow incredibly frustrated. For one thing, houses in our area are so over priced. If I hear one more newscaster say that the housing market is a "buyers market" one more time I am going to chuck the TV across the room. It might be a buyers market elsewhere, but not here.

I decided to do some research at different places throughout the country to see what a comparable house in each place would cost and here is what I found out.

Where We Live

This house is right in our area. It is 2150 sq ft, with four bedrooms and two bathrooms. It also has a two car garage. The house is brand new.

This house comes with the hefty price tag of: $224,900

Ohio (Closer to home, but a little more west.)

I have a friend who lives in Ohio and told us that the houses were pretty reasonable. So I thought I would check them out and see what they had to offer.

This house here is a little smaller then the one where I live. It is about 1544 sq ft. It has four bedrooms, two and a half baths, a two car garage and was built in 2004. It's a little older and a little smaller, but still a very nice house.

This house is on the market for: $100,000.

Now that is a major price drop!

Indiana (The mid-west)

I saw at a couple of different places that Indiana was one of the best places to find a nice house at a reasonable cost. I can now see that is very true.

This house is still smaller than the first house with 1,494 sq ft. It has three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and a two-car garage. This house is the oldest one so far. It was built in 1999.

It is listed at: $116,000.

North Carolina
(Sign me up for warmer weather)

I one time went on a vacation to Myrtle Beach, and we decided to visit this town in NC. I immediately fell in love with the community and it's small town charm. It had several business downtown, and was a really pretty city. So naturally, it was a choice for me to look at their houses for sale.
This house might not look like much, but it is a completely refurbished 1920s bungalow with 1,085 sq ft, three bedrooms and one bathroom. There isn't a garage, but parking is available off street.

I know the house is a lot smaller then the one available in my area, but this house is right downtown in the adorable city. Within walking distance from farmers' markets, restaurants and great stores.

This house is for sale for:$114,950. Oh, I should also mention that a beach is only about an hour away.

Washington (The Wild West)

So we have hit the north, the south, the Midwest and now time for the west. I will say that a lot of places out west are very expensive. But, I did happen to find this community to have a decent amount of houses for a reasonable price.

The photo (being this small) doesn't do this house justice. It isn't run down, it is just the pixelation of the photo.

So this house is 1500 sq ft, three bedrooms and one bathroom. I can't find anything about parking.

But the inside is all new and looks very nice.

This house could be yours for: $120,000.

Now I understand that not all of the houses that I have shown are created equally. The one where I live is bigger than all the others, but the other houses have various other good qualities.

The biggest point I am trying to make is, that where I live is considered to be a distressed community. If we are that distressed, than why are our houses so expensive? Are we all doomed to rent for the rest of our lives while we wait for this huge drop in the housing market?

But, for now, I guess we will continue to look and keep our eyes peeled for "our house."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I am really upset at you.

We have spent so much time together. Long days traveling through the jungle; nice quite evenings visiting my farm and hanging out with my cows and fishing. But, now you have really hurt me deeply.

Wii....I'm not sure if we will ever be the same.

Under the urging of my nutritionist, I decided to start up a new exercise regiment. He had been telling me to join Curves, which I was going to do, but then my dad found a Wii Fit at Target and snagged one for me.

So we brought it home and set it up about a week ago. As soon as we had it setup and turned on, an adorable little animated wii fit balance board popped up and told my husband and I some instructions. Then it told me to step on and it would analyze me. Well, I should have known better, but as soon as I stepped on and the wii balance board went "oh" I should have known it was not going to be good.

Then the adorable little balance board exclaimed in a high pitched cute voice, "That's Obese." Then my little Mii's tummy ballooned out and stood there in all its obese glory.

Like I said, I knew exactly what it was going to say because I had been seeing my nutritionist, and I had been working hard to get my weight down. (56 pounds so far, baby!) But, it still took a lot of my patience to not kick the balance board and then list it on eBay.

I decided to give it another shot, and tried some of the exercises and games, and I do have to say I had a lot of fun.

The Wii Fit program is broken into four different areas, yoga, balance games, aerobics, and strength training.

In yoga, you follow a trainer as they show you how to do the pose, and then you give it a shot. While you are holding the pose, the balance board keeps track of your balance and then gives you a score accordingly.

I really enjoy the balance games such as heading soccer balls, walking a tightrope and even doing a ski jump. Once again, as the name states, these games focus on your ability to balance on the balance board.

For many people, the aerobics section is the one they are most interested in. This area contains several mini-games designed to get you moving and grooving. Hula-Hoop, dance stepping and jogging are all great exercises. My favorite, which is jogging, let's you run around a virtual island following a Wii Mii who serves as your pacer. During this exercise, you do not use the balance board, but you either hold the wiimote or put it in your pocket and jog in place. Eventually you can unlock free run which allows you to create your own jogging path through the island.

The final area is strength training, and it is the place that I am most interested in. This is what my nutritionist wants me to focus the most on. He said that by strengthening and toning my muscles, it will help me lose more weight.

For these exercises you have to choose between either a female, or male trainer. I chose the female one, for obvious reasons. (My husband chose the male trainer, and I really can't see much of a difference between the two.) Anyway, this area gives your various exercise such as torso twists and jack knives (they sound like torture devices) to help target different muscles in the body.

I would definitely rate Wii Fit as something you should buy. It is a fun way to keep in shape. The price tag for Wii Fit is about $89 if you already have a Wii. But, if you would need to go and purchase a Wii you can add on about an additional $250. But, all things considered you have to think about how much you would spend on a gym membership. I am sure you would come out financially on top with the Wii.

Here's to your health!