Day 17 – Minnesota, here I come!


TGIF, Faithful Readers!  I am so excited today, because not only did I wade through a kind of stressful week at work and made it to the end, but I also get to go to Minnesota to visit with my brother’s family this weekend.

My Older Nephew has been asking me for years to come see him play in one of his sports, either football or hockey, and either the weather or working two jobs always conspired against me. Well, Oldest Nephew is graduating from high school this May, and tomorrow is the last home hockey game (Go Bearcats!) he will ever have on a Saturday. Given my work situation right now, it’s my last chance to go see him play. Ever.

So, my parents and I are leaving after I get off work tonight, and staying at their house for the weekend. It’s always a good time when we get together, and I am so excited to go.

I don’t know where 18 years went, but Older Nephew is all grown up, and I missed out on so much of his life. Now that I am back on my feet enough that I don’t have to keep my two jobs all year round, I’m looking forward to more travel in their direction.

Here’s hoping that you have the ability to get up and go when those important people ask for you, and that you always have safe travels. Blessings and have a good weekend… Go Bearcats!!

Taking over my little Universe, one room at a time!


So much to talk about, and I don’t know where to start!

Well, I promised pictures from my bedroom makeover, so I will start there.

My beginning inspiration was the new bedspread and curtains:

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After I had those picked out, I chose a nice light gray paint, so light it’s almost white, and a super bright white for the trim.

I started out with a room that was painted two crappy colors of brown, and here are the before pictures. You can see where I started cutting in the new paint, and the contrast of the two tones of the brown. I think my room had been like that for 10 years or so. How freaking depressing !

You can see the new bed spread and curtains don’t look like much with the brown paint.

After a few coats of paint and a bunch of elbow grease, I was able to take this after picture. I still need to get a matching curtain for my closet door.

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Now add the new night stand and head board:

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This last picture is a little dark, but trust me, it’s like waking up in a cloud. My new room makes me so happy, and it took very little to make it happen. Sure, I had to spend some money, and there were some late nights spent trying to get it done, but it was so worth it!

So what else is new in my neck of the woods?

My new job continues to be awesome, and I have a lot of job satisfaction. I know it won’t always be this way, because life doesn’t ever stay static, so I am enjoying it while it lasts. Hopefully it will last a good long while.

Younger Son is coming home after being out at sea for 8 months. I got to talk to him on the phone for the first time since November, and it was so good to hear his voice. Just that simple act of speaking with him on the phone let off a lot of steam I didn’t realize had been building up. It appears that I was kind of holding my breath all of this time. Even with email, mail, and Facebook, it was so little contact. I don’t know how loved ones did it in the days before social/electronic media, when their kids joined the service and were gone for long stretches of time. He comes home soon, and it will be so awesome to have all of my chicks back in the nest again.

Older Son has been having a stretch of good luck in that he was able to replace an old car with a newer, cheaper-to-run vehicle. He even got a break on his insurance. Fabulous!!

The city is gearing up for the State Fair which begins next week. This year, I think we will just go for one day. Usually we go for multiple days, but it gets expensive, and doesn’t change much from year to year. I still get excited when it starts up, though. Older Son will be in the Parade this year, so I may just go watch it. This will be the first Parade Saturday that I haven’t had a prior commitment for a long time.

Well, I’m working on my 2nd cup of coffee, and I think I will finish that up and get to work on my house. The laundry needs to get going, and everything else needs picking up and scrubbing. After chores are done, I think I will go shop for a new BBQ, and plot my next home improvement project: Kitchen Part 2 – paint & floor! I feel like I am finally taking over my own little universe, one room at a time!

Here’s wishing you all a lovely, relaxing Saturday, with which you can plot how you will take over your universe! Blessings all!

Unpacking some stuff


Hi all…long time no blog!

I’m not sure where the last six months went, but they sure did go by in a blur, with nary a post from this little sparrow. My apologies to all for leaving you hanging. It seems that I have not only been tremendously busy, but have also struggled with some wicked writers block.

Sometimes it’s not just about feeling blocked up…I’ve been struggling with some emotions I just wasn’t quite sure what to do with, how to categorize, or how to think about them. When it came time to days when I did feel like writing, it wasn’t always the most positive things to talk about and I needed some time to try to figure out what was really going on in my head.

What’s gone on here at Sparrow’s nest during all of that time? A lot, and yet nothing. It’s been a quiet summer. I did just a little fishing, a little riding on the motorcycle with my Flirt, and spent some excellent quality time with my kids and my friends. I spent a whole lot of time trying to help Older Son get a real job, which was finally accomplished. I worked more than I should have at my two jobs, but it was a good Summer. The Fall season is proving a bit more hectic, and challenging though, which is a whole other post-full of stuff to talk about.

Something that’s come out of the woodwork lately is friends who are experiencing divorce. It started with one, and then another, and then another. The unraveling of someone’s life, especially a dear friend, is heartbreaking.  Having your life rearranged by divorce is such a traumatic injury to recover from, and it’s very hard to describe to someone how to go about trying to put it back together. In an overly simplistic analogy, it’s like unraveling a blanket you have been crocheting or knitting. When you’ve been working away a project like that for a long time, and then discover that there’s a defect, you have to unravel it and start again. Sometimes others unravel it for you. Either way, whoever is responsible for the unraveling,  your hard work has been pulled out, has become misshapen 006and now you have to begin again. There you sit with kinked up, unraveled yarn in piles around you, the warmth and comfort of a blanket you’ve been working on so diligently is now gone, and it takes effort to figure out where the next stitch goes…starting up again is slow going, but with careful consideration and thoughtfulness, it can be done. The end product won’t be the same as what you anticipated, but will be every bit as functional and lovely…maybe more so. Well, anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

You see, I think feeling like I’m becoming unraveled has been a large part of my problem these last few months. One of the big reasons I had such a hard time writing was that I am now having to unpack things from being divorced I didn’t want to deal with before. Four years later, I have people asking me for advice on how to survive the process, and I feel quite a bit like a fraud. As it happens, I am still on that road, and haven’t reached anything close to the end.

I discovered just last night that I am not done on this journey of recovery. What made me realize this was Parents Night at Younger Son’s last home football game. Ever. He’s a Senior this year, and the parents of Seniors get recognized for all of the time, effort, money and hardship that goes into supporting a child in the local football program (which my Ex really hasn’t had to experience. Ouch…did I just say that out loud?). As such, I was required to stand with my Ex on the field, and step forward when our names were called on Younger’s behalf.  Until that moment, I didn’t realize how much I haven’t progressed or evolved. I have a very difficult time speaking to my Ex, and don’t care much for looking him in the eye, even though I haven’t done him wrong at all. He will try to engage me in trite small talk for the sake of appearances, but I have a difficult time responding with more than a word or two. During the time I endured spending on the field with him,  I realized that I still carry around a giant open wound that hasn’t healed. I’m not sure how to reduce said injury, but I think that acknowledging it gets me going in the right direction. More on that later.

Something else that has plagued me a bit is the discovery that I have been experiencing early menopause. That’s right…this old lady has hit that time of life at the ripe old age of almost 45. The rough part about that is how I am feeling quite maudlin and weepy all the time. Hormone imbalance, coupled with anticipatory empty nest syndrome, is quite a ride, but I keep telling myself to not borrow trouble that hasn’t manifested. My worry-wort self has been pretty active, and it’s time to shut that down and just live for today the best I can.

light-beamOne of the best things I can do for myself is to get back on the blogging bandwagon. I do so much better when I write, as I make myself find something positive to write about. Time to get my Pollyanna on, and get back in the groove. I’m ready to get out of the rut I’ve been in, and exude some positivity and sunshine.

Here’s hoping that you can see to get out of the ruts you fall into, and that you can find the sunshine behind the clouds. Keep looking up…the clouds move out of the way sooner or later.

Blessings all!

Getting my way on Mother’s Day


Greetings all,

First, let me wish all of you Mothers in the blogosphere a very happy Mother’s Day!

I’m being selfish with my time today, because I can get away with it. Mother’s Day, much like a birthday, is a good excuse to gather with family and friends, eat good food and enjoy each others company. It’s not necessarily my favorite holiday, as that slot has been occupied for a very long time by Thanksgiving, but it does have it’s good points. Top on the list of Mother’s Day’s good points is that I get to say what goes.

Here’s my list of things I want today… and by golly, I’m going to get all of it.

1. I want to spend time on my blog (check…mission accomplished!). I get precious little time to come out here anymore, to write or to read my favorite blogs. Today, I get to spend time here. Yes!

2. I want to cook lasagna from scratch today. I love to cook, and don’t get a chance to very often. I have invited my parents over for supper tonight, and when I told Mom what was on the menu, she tried to tell me I should buy a frozen lasagna instead of making it from scratch. I was surprised at how I almost came completely unhinged. I know her heart was in the right place – she didn’t want me to put too much effort into cooking dinner on Mother’s Day. She just doesn’t understand how much like to cook, and how deprived I am in that department. That’s ok… I’ll get my way in the end.

3. I want asparagus. (Demanding wench, aren’t I?) I haven’t had asparagus in years because my picky children won’t eat it, and it really doesn’t pay me to buy it if I am the only one that likes it. Today, it’s just too bad for everyone else that doesn’t like it. I. Will. Have. My. Asparagus! In fact, I have a lovely new recipe that I found on Pinterest for roasted asparagus with olive oil and thyme. I can’t wait!

4. I want to clean my house. The boys are generally pretty good about helping out around the house, but their idea of clean and my idea of clean are galaxies apart. I’ve spent such precious little time at home lately that what little I am able to do gets undone pretty quickly. Today, that gets corrected, even to the point of scrubbing out the fridge. I think something died in there, and is crying out for a decent burial. Argh!

5. I want to spend time in my yard. Spring finally did make it to North Dakota, and there hasn’t been a snowflake in sight for a good three weeks. I think Winter is finally gone for good this year, but I’ll leave my collection of snow shovels out until June 1, because I am just that superstitious about that sort of thing. My yard needs a good raking, and my strawberry/kitchen garden needs to be weeded. There are lots of plants returning from last year, but the grass is trying to overtake them. Time to get out the gloves and open a can of whoop-ass on that nasty invader.

There it is…my top five demands for today, in all of their glorious depravity. Like I said, today I get what I want, and no one best get in my way…or else! 😉

Lilacs half bloomed on May 23rd 2010

Here’s hoping all of you Moms in the blogosphere get exactly what you want, how you want it, and when. More importantly, I hope you have a lovely day with your families and friends.

Aunt Salley Cookies…a recipe from happy times


Hi all…it’s been a long time.

Writer’s block has had me in its crusty iron grip, when I’ve tried to blog in between other things. I finally decided just to suck it up and get back on the blogging band wagon by posting a recipe I thought I’d lost. Here is as good a place to store it as any, so I’ll put it here not only for preservation’s sake, but also because it’s an amazing recipe I remember well from my childhood.

This recipe comes from the kitchen of my Aunty B, who I have blogged of once before. She had a way with food that made it feel like you were getting hugged when you sat down to her table, whether you were there for a big meal, or just visiting and being treated to some of these fabulous cookies. The interesting thing about these cookies is that they are rolled out, and a Spam can is used as the cookie cutter.

I haven’t ever attempted to make these myself, but it’s my plan to give it a try in the near future. First thing I’ll need to do is buy some Spam! When I do get around to making these, I’ll come back and update this post with a picture.

Cookies:
1 C sugar
1 C butter or oleo (margarine)
2 eggs (beaten)
2 tsp cream of tartar
4 tsp soda
5 C flour
1/2 C molasses
1 C sour milk or buttermilk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
Mix all together and chill in refrigerator on our. Roll out and cut with Spam can. Bake 10-12 mins in 350 oven. When cool, frost.

Frosting:
1 1/2 C sugar
1/2 C water
1 tsp vinegar
Boil to medium ball stage and add 2 well-beaten egg whites, then add 12 marshmallows cut up or 1 c miniature marshmallows.

Special instructions: Share liberally with friends and family. Enjoy!

Love in the form of a brownie


Today has been one heck of a day. Of course, this time of year, everything is hectic…even the good stuff. In fact, this whole week has been one giant roller coaster, and there’s been much that’s bad, but so much that has been great.  I have several things to talk about, but not enough time or room to put them down here coherently, so I’ll just blather a bit about what’s happening right this moment.

It just so happens that I have a pan of freshly frosted brownies sitting on my stove. These aren’t just any brownies either…this is my Grandma’s recipe. Grandma knew all about how to feed people, and she delighted in it. The more you ate, the better she felt. It seems that cooking was her favorite way to show her love for us, and she did it well and often. Every time I went to visit, she always had a batch of these brownies waiting for me. She passed on in 1996, and now I have her recipe box and her cook books, including the one the brownie recipe came from. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I have not made this recipe in years. Today I made it because I have been invited over to my best friend’s house for an early Christmas celebration. Apparently “C” is a lover of brownies, and I instantly thought of this recipe.

The smell of these baking brought back a lot of memories, and I realized that I baked this particular recipe not only because it is just an excellent and easy recipe, but because I really do love these people and I wouldn’t take the time to make this favorite of mine for them if I didn’t.

As it turns out, the recipe book this comes from is so old, and the page is so beat up from use, that it’s falling apart. So, I’ll put the recipe down here for posterity, and to guard against losing it altogether. Because this brownie recipe is like a whole bunch of love packed into each little square, I encourage you all to make this for your loved ones who love chocolate too.

Grandma’s Famous Brownies

Beat together:
1/4 lb softened margarine

1 cup sugar

4 eggs (add two at a time and beat well)

1 tsp vanilla

1 lb can of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. (That’s right…get out your can opener and pour that whole sucker right in)

Once all is beaten together add:

1 cup, plus 1 Tbsp flour

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Mix and pour into a 10×15 pan. Bake  for 30 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees. While still hot, make the frosting:

Melt and stir together 6 Tbsp milk, 6 Tbsp margarine and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Bring to a rolling boil and cook rapidly for 20 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Beat together until chips are melted and it’s ready to pour over brownies. If you still have lumps of chocolate, you can pour it through a sieve right onto the brownies. Spread it quickly as this frosting sets up fast.

Enjoy!

 

Life is full of little trade offs…The trick is to find balance.


As all of my Faithful Readers know, I have two jobs. I work at the Cube Farm by day, and The Big Box Store by night…the blue one. I think you know what I’m talking about.

Lately, I’ve had thoughts of defecting to The Other Big Box Store. The red one, with the bulls-eye.

I have a friend at The Cube Farm who has been talking to me about switching over, and I think I just might do it. I have to say, though, that I have been at The Blue Store for long enough that I’m comfortable there. The whole problem with that place is that it’s impossible to get your work scheduling straight, it’s disorganized, dirty and they have such a high turn over rate that there is never enough help. As a result of not ever having enough help, many of us “Floor Help” end up cashiering instead of keeping our departments straight. I hate cashiering, and my right elbow and wrist hate it too.

Every time I go to The Red Store I marvel at how clean it is, how every employee has a scanner to use and that things just seem to be more orderly in general. It’s so tempting to defect, but I would be giving up a lot of benefits I get at The Blue Store that wouldn’t be available to me at The Red Store. Hm…lots to ponder.

Life is full of all sorts of trade offs, and some have been very worthwhile. Let’s take last night for example.

I picked up The Flirt, and we went shopping last night. We bummed around the mall, just going from one store to another looking at stuff. At several points he grabbed my hand and held it as we walked.  Wow… have you got any idea how long it’s been since a man has picked my hand up and held it? Oh…many more than I can count.  That Flirt is full of all sorts of delightful surprises, and I’m looking forward to finding out what else he has up his sleeve.

So, what’s the trade-off?  I gave up time with my boys at home for the evening.

I think the whole trick is to find balance. Sunday evening The Flirt came over for pizza and movies, and we all had a good time. Hopefully I can find and maintain just the right balance, and not let my social life get the better of me.

I think we can do this… Well, I guess we’ll find out!