Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Best Friend

Joe~ Today its your milestone birthday. And I know that it's "freaking you out" a bit.  But...

...you are wonderful
...you are loved
...you are simply the most handsome man I have ever seen

I hope the upcoming year is full of life and love for you.

“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” ~Abraham Lincoln


Happy birthday!


And on to the Next...

I love Christmas. I really do. And I'm not going to talk about the spiritual side of it (yes, that's the most important thing to me).

What I love is the idea of the holiday. Even the way we celebrate it here in the US. I love the giving of gifts, the surprise on people's faces when they realize that you were actually listening back in August when they said they just loved (or needed) that special something.  I love seeing what your special someone (for years, even in adulthood it was my mom...thanks, mom) puts in your Christmas stocking.

What I don't love are my personal, false expectations of how it ought to be. I had a bit of a meltdown on Christmas Eve. Too much to do, fear of failure, fear of rejection. Possibly all irrational thoughts, but floating around and settling in my brain nonetheless. 

By Christmas morning I had straightened myself out, with a lot of encouragement from my honey. We had a marvelous day. Very relaxed. Joe came over and we opened our stockings. My mom called and asked if I liked the funky old mirror she found for me. Uh-oh. Hadn't actually opened presents yet. (But I do like the mirror!) Popped the turkey in the oven and cooked all day. It was marvelous. I am learning to be a hostess like my mom is, relaxed, and fun. No one has ever died because the day was not perfectly orchestrated.  Joe's mom and cousin came over and we ate like pigs. My dad stayed home and humbugged. He should have come. The turkey and everything else came out perfectly.

So now it's over and we can plan for the new year. 2011 had big things in store.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Something New

I start my new position at the hospital tomorrow morning. There are pros and cons with every change in life, and this one is no different. I sure will miss the energy and craziness of the ER. Also, I feel quite confident in my capabilities there, and now I get to start over learning a bunch of new systems, new personnel and new management styles.

However, the Maternal Fetal Medicine position is Monday through Friday. Hooray. No more weekends. No holidays. No evenings. I am very excited about that! And so is Joe.

Plus, I will now be going in at 9, which means that since I am up early anyway, I will be able to get my workout done in the morning, and have plenty of time for housework and chores to get done. So my evenings will be free.

I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

They Also Favor Caning as Punishment for Theft

While reading one of my garage sale finds (the Bill Bryson book listed to the left) a desembarkation receipt from the prior reader's travel to Singapore fell out. Since I've never visited anywhere other than our North American neighbors, I found the following warning on the bottom rather ominous.

WARNING: DEATH FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS UNDER SINGAPORE LAW

That would make me think twice if I was choosing drug mule as a career. What would you do if you had already ingested illegal substances and you had to get off the plane?!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mommy's Little (Bro) Helper

It would probably be much easier to change the linen on the bed without assistance from Little Bro. But I just can't seem to deprive him of the pleasure of helping. As soon as the bottom sheet goes on, he races on the bed and buries himself in the fresh top sheet.


Little Bro, get out of the bed.


La la la. If I can't see you, I can't hear you!  Besides, I'm helping you, Mommy.


I guess I'd better get off the computer and go kick this killer beast out of the bed so I can finish making it.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quote of the Day: Jane Austen

Ah! There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.
~Jane Austen, Emma


Monday, November 29, 2010

Using What I Have


Small Notebook is an interesting blog that I often read. Recently, the author posted on using what we have for Christmas decorating. This presents an interesting challenge, which I confess, I already failed, because I bought new candles. But I have been decorating today using some things that I pulled out of storage.


The garlands are up, but not yet decorated, as I am thinking about what I want to do with them this year. I think I am going to skip getting a tree. I am unwilling to give up the floor space. I am also unwilling to pick up the aforementioned tree every night after work. My kitties are naughty and inquisitive little beasts.


So this is what the Christmas decor looks like so far.  The cedar was cut from my dad's property this morning. I figure if it dries out, I can replace it as needed. It smells wonderful. The little fur mukluks were my mother's as a baby. Adorable! And the huskies were my grandma's. I remember them in her home.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lo-Carb Iced Mocha

Occasionally I really want a mocha.

Well, daily I want a mocha. A nice tall, triple-shot, chocolatey, full-of-fat and sugar mocha.

But I never ever get one. Poor me. I've switched to the Americano.

Joy of joys, I have found a way to give myself a bit of indulgence.  I bought a 4-pack of the Atkins Mocha Latte Shakes for about $5.

Add to ice and 2 shots of espresso....yummy Iced Mocha! And it's about $2.70 total, in comparison to the $4 I would spend at Star$$$$s.



There are a couple of other flavors in the Atkins collection and I want to try this one pictured, the Cafe Caramel.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ode to Little Bro

This is Little Bro. He is, in Joe's words "a bit of a dummy". But he's the sweetest little lovebug. How can I resist that little ball of energetic love? Every night when I come home, I cannot sit down unless I plan to be there for a while, because instantly I have him snuggling with me.


What a baby.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Artist in the Family

I have quite an artistic heritage to live up to. My mom, Julie, has always been creative and talented. She sews, quilts, refurbishes absolutely useless pieces of furniture into something fun and usable, scrapbooks, and has a great eye for decor and design. Last winter, while wintering in Arizona, she learned to take a simple gourd and make it into something lovely.

This one is mine. She won't let me have it yet, though...she wants to show it to her siblings first. But it's mine. And they can't have it.


It's the smallest of the three, but I chose it because I love the turquoise, and that she used pine needles from her own yard to create the trim.


Mom was pleased to find the shell adorning the front of this one during her last trip to Washington. It was conveniently pre-drilled by nature.


The one  below is a gift for my aunt. This gourd is the largest. It has leather trim and sweetgrass around the top. And elk teeth. Aunt Jo will love it.

Gorgeous!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vote Today...

...because, yes, I am one of those people who will not listen to your complaints unless you actually participate in the process, even if you don't agree with me politically. And I do already know that the pickings are slim. This is what we have.


If you are in Washington, this means getting your ballot into the mail today. I must confess, I miss the actual process of going to the polling place and getting in that little booth! Mail ballot voting just loses some of the feel of the democratic process.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pivotal Moments in Weight Loss

I began my weight loss journey two-and-a-half years ago knowing it would be a long and, at times, frustrating process. When I began, I just wanted to look better. (Well, I really want to look like Catherine Zeta-Jones, but I am a realist.) That has evolved into some very specific fitness goals. So far I am down about 65 pounds, with 30 to go. There have been funny and exciting moments along the way, some of which surprised me. When the weight goes on over the course of years, you don't really notice it. Oh, I knew I was heavy, but I didn't really realize what limitations physically (and emotionally) I had put upon myself because of it.

  • The first thing I noticed when I really began taking it off and changing my shape was (of all things) reaching down to pull the gas tank release in the car. Really. It hadn't dawned on me that my tummy was getting in the way of even little things like that. That was about a year or so ago, and even now, every time I reach for that release, I smile. (Then I think of gas prices and my smile fades, but at least I have it for a bit!)
  • Another thing I have recently found is that people have stopped saying, "You have such a pretty face." I'm not sure what other people think when that is said to them, but what I actually heard is, "You wouldn't be so bad if your head was attached to someone else's body." Ouch.
  • Last week I went to Old Navy and bought jeans that are the size I thought was my GOAL. Not even close. In 30 more pounds I will be in the size I was in high school. My shape will definitely be different, but hey...that's called adulthood. And I'm just fine with that.
  • But the best thing that has happened recently? Joe snapped a picture of me and it is the first picture in a long time that I have no criticism of. 

I'll update again after the next 30.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Quote of the Day: Cicero

Even if you have nothing to write, write and say so. ~Marcus Tullius Cicero

I haven't a creative bone in my body today.  So I will post a link to The Pioneer Woman on her blogging tips. If you don't read her website regularly, check it out. There's a bit of something for everyone.

The Pioneer Woman: 10 Things I've Learned about Blogging

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Danger of Being a Type A, Productive Person

Because I'm so Sick of Political Ads that I Need a Little Humor

Why I am a Reader

I know a lot of people who say that they don't read, whether its a lack of time or enjoyment, I don't know. But I read for a number of reasons. One of those was illustrated to me recently.

My mom gifted me last year with a book from one of the best bookstores I have found, Title Wave Books in Anchorage. I can be sure that if she finds something for me there, she has put a little thought into it. She hit a home run with this purchase. It is a wonderful book called Surviving the Island of Grace by Leslie Leyland Fields. I was certain that I had blogged about this excellent book, because it had made such an impact on me. Apparently, I just recommended it to so many people that I felt I had written a review.

I loaned the book to my mom, who is now in the middle of it. We were discussing some thoughts from it, and I remembered (loosely) a description of the author's father-in-law's love of fishing, and the beauty of the fish themselves.

This, in a nutshell, is why I read. Those words that were on the page created in my mind a picturesque description to which I could relate. Not because I feel that way about salmon, but because the man in my life does, and it helped me to understand his passionate nature when it comes to wildlife.  And even now, a year after finishing the book, that passion which the author was able to convey still sticks with me. When I read that section aloud to Joe, he immediately jumped in with even more thoughts about the industry and his experiences.

Reading a good book takes time. It forces me to slow down, to spend some time pondering the emotions and ideas the author has taken the time to put down on paper.

And if I can discuss a shared experience with another book lover....even better.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Confessions of a Macaroni and Cheese Lover

My name is Karen. I only eat fruit and veggie carbs (and protein, of course).

You can see how that would make Mac and Cheese a problem.

Once a month, I crave me some homemade-baked-in-the-oven-with-as-many-kinds-of-cheese-as-I-can-get-my-hand-on macaroni and cheese. If that's not available, some Kraft with an extra handful of sharp cheddar thrown in will suffice. I'm not picky.

Here's how I abstain. There is no macaroni in my house. It's un-American, I know, but I just can't keep it around. Otherwise the whole box will be inhaled. And my discipline will be shot.

Is there some sort of 12-step program for me? Do I get a 90-day coin for being good?

I just wanna know.

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thank You, Captain Obvious

I believe we have a culture of so much covering-our-a#@!s that apparently all common sense has left the building. Many of you know that I started a new position in the last week. Below is the word-for-word text of a sign that is posted on the wall of my new office. I'm a little peeved, and have already complained to my preceptor, that she didn't go over this during training. I've been doing it all wrong.

OFFICE CHAIR
The chair is on wheels and on a floor pad to allow the chair to move easily over the carpet.
SAFETY REMINDER
When getting out of the chair, turn the chair so the back is into the desk to prevent the chair from slipping outward. Always use the arm rest prior to sitting or standing.
Thank you,
Management

This is not a joke. Well, it is, but in a pathetic, head-slapping sort of way.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

Joe mentioned a couple of weeks ago that he loves pumpkin bread. Hmmm...never made that...but I'm up for anything in the kitchen. I found this recipe online this morning. Oh my. It might throw me off my diet. Moist and delicious!

The only changes I made are that I used half whole wheat flour, egg substitute, and applesauce instead of the oil. Yum.

DOWNEAST MAINE PUMPKIN BREAD



***A quick follow-up. The pumpkin bread is going over well in the hunting camp. Glad I sent a couple of loaves with banana bread as a backup!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hoarders as Housekeeping Motivation

There is a "Hoarders" marathon on A&E today, so of course, because of the already-admitted obsession that I have, its on in the background while I am having a nice "at home" day. It actually inspired me to do something that I had read about in one of my Alexandra Stoddard lifestyle books.

From the front door, I took a photo of the first impression as I walk into my home. Then came the kitchen and the dining room. Honestly, I was a bit surprised at how it looked on film. Unnoticed in everyday life, but laid bare on "film" are a few items that I have been putting off dealing with. And then just began ignoring. So now I have a list. And am working my way through it.

Try it! You might be surprised at how others see your home. And at least for me, its very important that it be welcoming anytime.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Bit of Flirtation...

Lest you think I am being untrue, let me tell you about the lovely 94 year young man I met yesterday, As I was checking him in to the hospital, he was getting a bit cheeky, so I asked him what his wife would think about him flirting with another woman. He told me that he has a rule: he doesn't flirt with women over 40. That way his "lovely bride" of 66 years doesn't get jealous.

What a nice sense of humor. And when he called her his lovely bride, I could see that he meant it. I hope he lives to 100 as his father did.

Friday, October 1, 2010

To Autumn

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou mayst rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

"The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust'ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather'd clouds strew flowers round her head.

"The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees."
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o'er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

~William Blake (1757-1827)

What Comes Around...

I really don't believe in "karma". Let's face it, there are people in this world who never really "get what's coming to them". At least not in this life. I'll leave that up to Someone much more just than I will ever be. However, when someone really sets out to inflict harm it is somewhat gratifying to see it backfire on them.

This week I had someone come after me (and mine). In a really interesting way. But you know what? It backfired on them. Big time. And the effect that they were looking for? The opposite happened in my heart, and some things were really confirmed for me.

It's like the story of Joseph in Genesis. What man had intended for evil, God is using for good.

Amen!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Love Like Crazy

I've been singing the chorus to Lee Brice's "Love Like Crazy" all day.

Be a best friend
Tell the truth
And overuse "I love you"
Go to work
Do your best
Don't outsmart your common sense
Never let your praying knees get lazy
And LOVE LIKE CRAZY

Seems like pretty good advice to me!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Suppose Introductions are in Order


This is my granddaughter, Amelia. Beautiful, of course, like both of her parents. I love you guys.




 Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Note to My Stepdad

Dear Bruce:
I love this coffee table and would love to make it but I have:
a) no tools
b) no skills

Love,
Karen

Occasionally the Public Schools Get it Right...

This is my alma mater, Snohomish High School. #57 is a developmentally disabled young man who scored this touchdown at the end of last weeks game against Lake Stevens. Notice at the beginning of the video that both teams are guiding him to head the correct decision.

As far as I am concerned...this is a win for both teams!

Please watch:  TOUCHDOWN!

FOLLOW UP: Here's a very nice article from the Everett Herald. What a great story.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Things Joe Has Taught Me

Not everything has to be done "right now"
Being a git-er-done kind of person, I want everything solved, completed, or fixed today. Yesterday would be nice, too. But that's just not feasable. There is, of course, a time and a place for quick and decisive action, and my nature will come in handy there. In my private life...I'm learning to slow it down a bit.

Being kind is a two-way street
I love to spoil my guy. I think he deserves it. The pleasant surprise has been, that my little bits of sweetness are given right back in different ways. Unexpected ways, like the sharing of his GPS this week. With Joe, sharing of the electronics is huge. Really huge.

It's good to treat yourself to things once in a while
This has always been hard for me. I have always felt guilty spending money on myself. But Joe encourages me to occasionally get new clothes or my hair done, because he says I work hard and deserve a little treat once in a while.

I am so thankful to have him!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Love


If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.

~A. A. Milne

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Funniest Answer I Have Heard to an ER Question in a Long Time

Yesterday I overheard a co-worker checking in a patient. From the answers she was receiving, it was clear that the patient was not the brightest bulb. That assessment was confirmed when Anna asked, "And do you have a religious preference?" After a long, thoughtful pause, the lady answered, "You mean, like, White?" Anna deserves a raise, because she was able to not laugh, and calmly typed in "none".

I suppose in some places "White" might be considered a religion (insert Northern Idaho joke here).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Childhood Home as I Know it is Gone....(subtitle: a trip to the ER)

Lest you think I am terribly sad...I am so relieved for my Dad's sake that it is sold! Now he is so fortunate that he will not have a mortgage payment at all. How many people can say that!?

Of course, the last weekend at the house was full of work, lots of work, cleaning, last minute closet and garage emptying after 36 years of accumulation, and detail projects that had to be done.

After the last bit was put on the trucks, we had a small 5 minute project to tackle. Really, it should be easy to install a new spring on the garage door. Until an 8-foot flourescent light fixture came down on Dad's head. Right in the middle of the bald spot. And shattered. Thank goodness he listens to me. I took one look, said "Oh, now we get to go to the ER" and he didn't even give me an argument. For once. They removed a 3/4 inch shard from his head and put 6 staples in to the 2-inch laceration.

He's fine. A bit of a headache. But also relieved to be done with the house!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

From Here to There (and Back Again)

Now that my drive to work is around 40 minutes most mornings, and about 50 minutes in the evenings, I am using that time to de-stress from work, and to "read" some books that I haven't had much time for lately. In the mornings sometimes I like to listen to Seattle's classic rock station's (say that with a big booming reverb voice) morning talk show, which is a group of guys that discuss everything in the world. Their perspectives are always diverse, and I sometimes think they take opposite sides of the issues to make for interesting conversation. It's funny.

And on the way home I have been listening to Donna Leon's Commisario Brunetti novel, Suffer the Little Children. The books are set in Venice, and follow Brunetti's cases. My attachment to Brunetti stems, I find, from his relationships with people, particularly his wife, Paola. They share an ease and an appreciation for each other that I would emulate. Leon's books, however, make me wish I knew much, much more about good wine.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Completed Chairs and Other Stuff

Here they are! My mom did a gorgeous job on the slipcovers. We broke them in tonight with my guy, his momma and his aunt. I'm so happy with how my apartment is coming together.
The kitties are both settling in, and since mom is leaving tomorrow, I will really begin my nesting too. I'll post more pictures as I add new things and work on new projects! So far my sewing has been limited to a couple of these pillow covers (mom did the other two!).

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wishing I Could Feel Guilty...

I am sitting here in the new apartment, listening to Mom as she is working on reupholstering my two dining room chairs. It's 1120 pm, and we had a nice dinner and coffee with my prodigal son and his girlfriend. But here is mom, back at the place, plugging along on the sewing machine.

I bought the two chairs a year ago at IKEA, because they were on clearance (for $20 a piece), and are a nice shape, and, after all, how hard can it be to get slipcovers or reupholster them? Oops. No slipcovers available...so "hey Mom, can you do my chairs while you are here?". She should have said "no". I think she's put in about 12 hours on them. They look great, and they aren't even done. But they will be wonderful. I have great faith in her.

She probably wishes she'd put her foot down...but oh, I can't even feel a bit guilty!

Pictures to follow (if she ever finishes them!).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Reading Books about Death Right Before Bed

I was a little concerned last night that I would have nightmares. I just started reading a history of the worst avalanche disaster in the country. The White Cascades is engrossing, written as engagingly as a novel. But I made the mistake of skipping to the appendices and reading the list of the 96 who perished. It was heartbreaking, as I had already become attached to some of the people, even though they lived and died in 1910.

However, I think I might be even more concerned that I didn't have nightmares and slept like a baby.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm Moving!

Finally. I have found a very kitchy and eclectic apartment in a 1914 mansion in Stanwood, WA, population 12. Slight exaggeration...it's around 4500 now. That means I have a new 35 minute commute to work. But it also means I am living 15 miles closer to my guy, and also important for my mental health, am going to be able to finally unpack fully without the spector of the house sale looming over me. Moving begins on the 10th, with the bulk being done on the 12th. I will post photos when I am all decorated! I am sure the kitties will be very excited playing with the laser light on the new tile floors.

Friday, March 12, 2010

On Taxes

I just finished finding how much government waste I am funding this year. Let me just say, it ain't no picnic being single. Apparently, I am, according to the government statistics, in the middle class. I'd like to see those politicians live on my wages without a roommate in this area. It's tough! However, others have articulated my thoughts already, so here are a few taxation gems.

The taxpayer - that's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination. ~Ronald Reagan

If the Lord loveth a cheerful giver, how he must hate the taxpayer! ~John Andrew Holmes

The best things in life are free, but sooner or later the government will find a way to tax them. ~Author Unknown

I guess I had better include a bit of attitude adjustment here at the end:

I am thankful for the taxes I pay because it means that I'm employed. ~Nancie J. Carmody

San Juan Island in December

At the end of December, we took the ferry up to San Juan Island. Gorgeous, sunny weather. But don't let the blue sky deceive you, it was bitterly cold. On such a perfect day, my camera got quite the workout, and here are a few of my favorites. One of the nice places we took a walk was a little pullout we found that had trails along the bluff on the west side of the island.
Looking west from San Juan Island

Joe, contemplating whether a double or triple gainer is possible from this height.
Actually, he's not even close to the edge.
Lime Kiln Lighthouse, San Juan Island



Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quote of the Day

He is the happiest
Be he king or peasant
Who finds peace in his home.
~Goethe