Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Martha Stewart I’m not. Never claimed to be. Don’t really want to be. As a matter of fact, I find some of the things she does more amusing than useful.

I know some people like to do the things she does. I even have some friends who are all Martha Stewart-ish. But I just can’t bring myself to that level.

OK, first off, she makes her own vanilla extract. Me? I’m perfectly happy with the stuff on the store shelf. I’ll go as far as to get the “pure” stuff once in a while, but I’m not ashamed to admit I currently have a large bottle of the “imitation” extract sitting in my cabinet. Nothing wrong with that. Works just fine for me. As for homemade, well, I don’t often have vodka (a required ingredient) in the house, but when I do, I think it tastes much better mixed with a bit of orange juice instead of a bunch of vanilla beans.

Then there are marshmallows. I remember watching Martha Stewart actually make her own marshmallows. From scratch. (Which she promptly put into steaming cups of her from scratch cocoa.) Yeah, I’m sure they taste great an all, but I like my store bought marshmallows. I even like the tiny little hard ones that come in the instant cocoa and get a bit soft when you add the hot water. One friend of mine whose daughter recently made her own homemade marshmallows told me that I’m missing out on the different flavors you can use when you make them yourself. Well, I actually found chocolate flavored marshmallows in the store and really, what other flavor do I need?

I can make some things from scratch of course. I love to make chocolate chip cookies. And I do make a pizza casserole that the hubs just totally loves. (Although, since it uses biscuit mix for the crust, I don’t know if it’s really considered “homemade.”) There are some things I have tried over and over again to make and can just never seem to get it right. Take gravy for instance. I cannot make gravy to save my life. It always comes up either too thin and tasteless or so thick you could cut it into slices and just lay it on top of your potatoes. (Not very appealing really.) So, anytime I need to make gravy, I grab the cream of mushroom soup. A can or two thrown into some pan drippings and you’ve got gravy. As far as I’m concerned  you do anyway.

And don’t get me started on biscuits. My mother could make the best biscuits (although she said her Aunt Marie’s were even better), but I just can’t get the hang of it. They just never taste right and the texture is really, really bad. So, I pull out the biscuit mix. I can make some pretty good biscuit mix biscuits. I even worked at the local McDonald’s for a while making biscuits on Saturday and Sunday mornings and was told I made the best biscuits there. (Yes, they are made with a mix. Surprised?)

Years ago, a friend told me that if I loved my family, I would make everything from scratch, something she claimed she did. I told her it’s because I do love my family that I don’t make everything from scratch. I’d really like my husband to live a good long life, and by not subjecting him to my from-scratch culinary skills on a regular basis, I think I’m helping him in that respect.

So, it is true I will never be a Martha Stewart, but really, why would I want to be?

She kinda creeps me out.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Late Birthday Thoughts

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve....but I'm not going to talk about that.

Day before yesterday was my 41st birthday. Let's talk about that for a bit.

When the hell did I turn into an adult?!?! I honestly don't feel like one most of the time. Most of the time I feel like I'm around 16 or 17 years old. Yeah, I have the usual adult bills to pay, and many extra ones from the hubby's illness over the past couple years, and you'd think that with that responsibility I'd feel all that ADULT weight on my shoulders. Well, I don't.

OK, so I do look in the mirror and notice a few extra lines here and there around the eyes. And yes, the gray hairs are starting to multiply at a rate that can only be called hyperspeed. Oh, and I sometimes actually see my mom looking back at me even. (Was always told I looked like her, but this is getting ridiculous.) But, I still can't wrap my mind around the idea that I am 41 years old. That's supposed to be like middle-age or something, right? Well,I certainly don't feel like my life is half over. NO WAY! NO HOW! I still have a whole lot of things to do. For example...

...I want to see Mount Rushmore...

...I want to visit Hershey, Pennsylvania (for obvious reasons)...

...I want to go on a real-live ghost hunt (not just one of those mamby pamby tourist attraction type things either, although I want to go on one of those as well)...

...I want to win the lottery (a girl's gotta have dreams)...

...I want to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Yeah, I know. This one may have to wait until my next life)...

...and that's just a few of the things I want to do. 

I have a friend who is fond of lists. I've started following her lead and making some lists myself, trying to get organized and not really succeeding. I don't like the idea of a "bucket list" because that makes it sound like something that I HAVE to do before I die. I don't care if I don't complete my list before my time in this life is done. The dreaming and trying is half the fun. 

So, I mark my 41st birthday, not feeling anywhere near that age, by counting not way am I EVER going to count candles. Instead I like to count the laughs I've had over the past 41 years. It's been a rough road in some spots, but there has always been time for a laugh or two with my friends. That's all that matters.

Oh, and chocolate. CHOCOLATE MATTERS!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blog Issues

I have to wonder if anyone else is having trouble with their blog setup lately. I like the way my blog used to look, but for some reason it has changed and I can't seem to get it to look the way I want any longer. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just a bit internet illiterate.

In the mean time, I keep trying to get it going the way I would like, which means the look will change every once in a while as I fiddle with it. Can't help it. I've never been on to leave well enough alone.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

An Evening At Lake Wobegon Part II

Besides the signs I printed an taped to the truck windows, I also made this pin and wore it the whole night. It's amazing what you can do with scotch tape, duct tape, a safety pin and a picture printed from the internet. (Didn't get me back to see the guy, but it was worth a try.)

Garrison Keillor and Sarah Watkins (former member of the bluegrass band 
Nickel Creek) singing one of my favorite Elvis hits along with the audience.

Garrison, Sarah and Fred Newman performing a Guy Noir skit. (Fred Newman does great sound effects. He is also a voice actor and played the character of Skeeter and Mr. Dink in the cartoon "Doug.")

I read that a lot of the stuff that Garrison does is off the cuff, using no script. After watching this show, I believe it. As he is telling a story, Fred Newman is doing the sounds for what he is describing. There were times he was barely keeping himself from laughing, and the looks he sometimes gave Garrison were hilarious. (And now I know what a pterodactyl chasing down a man who's hunting mushrooms sounds like.)

At the beginning of the show, Garrison and Sarah walking through the audience. They did that again during the short intermission, when they sang the song in the video I posted, but they walked down this same aisle both times. Guess where my seat will be next time.

Toward the end of the show, Garrison gave us the news from Lake Wobegon; where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average.

After the show, and the long wait while the very packed parking lot cleared out, Troll Doll and I stopped at Denny's in Black Mountain for some much needed coffee. It was way past our bedtime, and the drive was pretty long...about 2 hours. It was well worth it, though.

It was a great show. Didn't get too many pictures, but that's fine. I just enjoyed sitting back and listening to the stories and music. And as for souvenirs, there was a "Summer Love Tour" tote bag that I almost bought, It was only $10. But, in the end common sense won out. Tote bags are to me like purses or shoes are to most other women, and I need another one like I need a hole in the head.  :)

If you ever get a chance to see "A Prairie Home Companion" live, go for it. It really was fun.

But next time, Mr. Keillor, I will get to meet you. I already have a plan in the works. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An Evening At Lake Wobegon Part I

Well, I didn't get to meet the man, but I made it to the show, and that's good enough for me. I got a few pictures...from a distance mind you, but  reminders of the night none-the-less. Actually, I didn't take a whole lot of pictures in the end. I was too busy enjoying the show itself.    :-)

Brought my Troll Doll with me for company. This was taken from my original seat. I ended up switching with someone whose wife really needed the end seat. I moved to the third seat in, which was fine. Sat next to another Minnesota native. Cool. 

The sign I made for the back window of the truck.

Had one of these in each back side window. 

Took this video just to show the venue. The people on the lawn ended up getting rained on for a bit, but no one seemed to mind, and it really didn't last long. 

That's the start of it all anyway. Tune in for Part II tomorrow.   :-)

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Realization of a Dream

In late 1990, I was 20 years old and living in Waycross, Georgia. My apartment was one of four in an old house that had been converted. There were two apartments upstairs and two downstairs. Mine was the smallest as there was a laundry room put in behind it. I had two rooms and a tiny bathroom. When you visited my apartment, you walked in to a combination living room kitchen. The kitchen area, separated by a kind of bar/counter, was a tiny bit larger than the living room, which was only big enough for the one chair it contained.

The bed room was connected to the living room by two doors. One was just the usual door leading right to the other room, the other was a bit odd. You opened that door up to the closet that both rooms shared. You could walk through the closet to get to either room if you wanted. I guess it was their way of giving you a sort of coat closet area from the living room (like you even had room to entertain enough people to need a coat closet).

During the time I lived in this apartment, I had no telephone or television. What I did have was my library card and the radio. Not having a car, or a driver’s license for that matter, I would often walk to the library and lug home stacks of books. At night, I would either sit in the living room in front of the little gas heater and read, or talk my Walkman radio (remember those?) out on the front porch and just sit in the dark and listen.

One thing I loved about this apartment was the fact I could just open up the front window and, ducking my head down just a little, walk right out onto the front porch. I didn’t like using the front door a lot at night because I was always afraid of disturbing my neighbor across the hall (which is also why I wouldn’t turn on the porch light). So, I’d go through the window, sit in one of the rocking chairs on the front porch and scan through the channels on my Walkman looking for something to listen to.

One night, a voice came over the airwaves that immediately brought my scanning to a halt. I listened to him for a few minutes and realized he sounded like my dad. I had come across Garrison Keillor, whom I would learn was from Minnesota, which is probably why he sounded like me dad who was born and raised in St. Paul (where I was born as well). My dad and I weren’t close, but I often got sentimental for him and for Minnesota even though I hadn’t lived there since I was 6 years old.

For 20 years, I have been a fan of Garrison Keillor and his radio show, which was later called “The Prairie Home Companion.” I can’t say I listen every week, but I listen as often as I can. No matter what’s been going on in my life, his show has always been there. My big dream was to one day travel to St. Paul to visit my dad and take him to see the show at The Fitzgerald Theatre there (the show’s home base basically). Unfortunately, that never happened. But, I have continued to dream of seeing the show live.

Tomorrow night, I am finally realizing that dream. After 20 years, I am going to see Garrison Keillor when he brings “The Prairie Home Companion Summer Love Show” to Brevard. And I’m hoping to get to actually meet him and have my picture taken with him as well. How cool would that be!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Quick Story and the One Week Countdown

OK, first off I have to elaborate on an incident I mentioned last time. I'm sure you all have been sitting on pins and needles since I mentioned in passing my interview with the naked man during my recent stint a a census enumerator. Well, the wait is over.

During my first week driving around talking to people for the census, I met a very unusual man. When I pulled up to his house, and he came outside to speak to me, he was wearing a pair of cutoff jean shorts. He made the comment that it was good that he'd heard me coming up his driveway because at the time he had been outside washing his Harley naked. Now this guy lives in a very rural area and his house cannot be seen from the road or his neighbors' houses, so each his own.

So, we sat down in a couple lawn chairs and started the usual census questions, and as he was telling me about washing his Harley naked he asked "you don't mind nakedness, do you?" Well, silly me, I thought he was just talking...trying to see how I'd react...that kind of thing, so I said no. HA. Joke's on me. He said "good" then stood up and stripped off his shorts.

Here we sat, me keeping my eyes on the questionnaire and him just sitting there in all his glory. Now, some people have told me I was crazy and that I should have insisted he put his clothes back on or gotten up an left. (And let me tell you, my husband, whom I thought would get a laugh out of this whole thing, was not happy when he heard about it.)

I didn't tell him to get dressed because I was kinda startled by the whole thing, and still trying to be polite I reckon. His yard and all that, and he wasn't in the least bit threatening. I mean, this was a tiny little old man. Well, maybe not "old" but older...let's say that. (And from the way he was acting, I kind of wonder if he'd been smoking the "happy" cigarettes.) Ya' know, if I was going to have to interview a naked man, he could have at least looked like Hugh Jackman. **sigh**

Then, there was the fact I was sitting in this crappy lawn chair, and with my knee acting up the way it was that week (osteoarthritis sucks), there was no way I could get up and run. And, I surely didn't want to have to come back to his house, or send someone else out there to deal with this situation.

So, there I sat, asking him the questions, and keeping my eyes averted as best I could. At one point, he said something about friends of his saying his penis didn't appear normal and asked if it looked normal to me. OMG! I didn't look, merely paused in my questions long enough to say that I wouldn't know as I hadn't seen that many in my life. :-)

It was an interesting day, and I am working on an essay about it to add to the book of essays I'm writing. And who knows, this fella may end up in my novel as well. I mean, fact really is stranger than fiction. And it's like I told my crew leader later that week. When I signed up for that job, in the back of my mind I was a bit worried about someone pulling a gun on me. I never thought I'd have to worry about someone pulling a penis.

There are a couple more details to this story, but you'll have to read my essay when it gets published. :-)

**Side note: Seven days and counting. In exactly one week, I will be in Brevard for Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Companion Summer Love Show.**

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Two Weeks To Go

In just two weeks, I will be watching Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Companion show. Yeah, I know, my last few posts have been about this. Can't help it. I'm still so excited.

I promise I will start writing about other things, like the naked man I interviewed for the census. That was interesting. :-)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Golden Ticket

OK, it may not be THE golden ticket...

...but that hasn't stopped me from singing that song every day since my ticket to see Garrison Keillor arrived in my mailbox.

"I never dreamed that I would climb
Over the moon in ecstasy
But nevertheless, it's there that I'm
Shortly about to be

'Cause I've got a golden ticket
I've got a golden chance to make my way
And with a golden ticket, it's a golden day"


Monday, May 31, 2010

Home on the Prairie

Well, I did it. It's a go. One of the many things I want to do in my life is happening. I am going to see Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Companion show live and in person. WOOT!!

I had actually decided I wasn't going to go as I would have to buy my ticket now, and money in the Bell household is mighty tight with the hubs still out of work due to illness. But, Chris being the person he is, he kept telling me to get a ticket and go...that I deserved it. So, I finally gave in.

No, I did not buy the $68 seat. Could not bring myself to do that. I did buy the $46 dollar seat, which is in the 3rd section. I went online, checked the view from various seats on Brevard Music Center's website and made my purchase. I will have the ticket in my hot little hand in a few days.

I am bouncing off the walls over this one. Every time I feel like things are really getting to me, I just remind myself of what I have to look forward to in August. Add this to the fact that I have actually gotten a lot of writing done on my novel, which is taking many odd turns I must say, and I find myself actually smiling once in a while. :-)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Prairie Home or Bust

OK, so here I sit, lurking around Facebook and listening to the thunder rumble through the mountains. I have known for some time that it’s way past time to update my blog. There are various reasons of course; don’t like the computer I’m currently using, have been busy, etc. But, in the end, there really is no GOOD reason. I mean, I’m often sitting here late at night, not able to sleep, and yet I don’t bother to hit the blog. That would be a great time to do some blogging.

Well, it’s not late at night, but here I sit just the same, and I am finally updating this thing. You can all breathe a collective sigh of relief now. I know you’ve been sitting on pins and needles wondering where I was and when I would return…..again. You can now resume your regular lives secure in the fact that…..I’M BAAAACK!!! J

My return to the blogging world was inspired by some much welcome news I just found posted on my Facebook page. Garrison Keillor is bringing A Prairie Home Companion to Brevard, NC. OK, that may not be earth shattering news to most of you, but to me it’s a wish come true. That’s only about 2 hours away from where I live (I looked it up), and it has long been my dream to see GK and his show. It’s on my list of things to do in my life.

Now, the list of which I speak is not an actual, physical list. It’s pretty much in my head. And it’s not a “bucket” list. If I don’t do everything on it, so be it. It’s not like I won’t have had a great life anyway. It’s just a list of things I aspire to do, and even if I don’t get there, the journey is more often than not the best part anyway.

So, back to GK. He will be in Brevard on August 14th. The “big” tickets are $68, and there are others available going all the way down to the lawn for $25. My goal is a $68 ticket. If I don’t make it, oh well. The ULTIMATE goal is to just be there in the first place.

Watch out GK. Here I come. J

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I Want To.....

My friend Angie has this thing for making lists. From what I’ve heard, I think it’s practically an obsession. Me? Not so much. I’m not organized enough to make lists. Not usually anyway.

Lately, I have been putting together a few small lists in my head. Maybe it has something to do with the recent “passing” of my 40th birthday. That’s a pretty big milestone when you think about it, and since that day, I’ve been not only looking back at my life, but forward as well. I’ve been thinking about things I’d like to do at some point in the future. If I don’t get them all done, oh well. It’s not a big deal. It’s just nice to think about going to various places, doing various things. A lot of times, the planning is most of the fun in the first place.

So, today I am posting a list of some things I want to do in the future. You could call it a bucket list, except like I said, if I don’t complete it, it’s not a big deal. These are things I know I won’t be able to do in the next year. I have another list for that; things I want to do in my 40th year. (Angie is currently working on one of things she wants to do before she turns 40, but since that’s come and gone for me, I made an adjustment.)

Here goes:

**Visit Edgar Allan Poe’s Grave: This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. Actually, I’ve always wanted to visit on his birthday and watch the mysterious visitor who would leave a bottle of cognac and a rose, but alas it appears I have missed that opportunity. The visitor was a no-show this year, and I’m betting the ritual is now over. So, I will have to take my own bottle of cognac and a rose and place them on the grave of the man whose stories opened a huge world of story telling for me.

**Take an Alaskan Cruise: Most of my friends want to go to the Bahamas or some such, but not me. I have always wanted to board a ship for the great tundra of Alaska. I want to see the glaciers and watch the whales come up out of the water so close you feel like you could almost touch them. I want to see what the world looks like when the sun continues to shine at midnight, and the northern lights splash color across a darkened sky. (More than one trip may be called for.)

**Karaoke: OK, this one is probably more doable than most of the others on my list. I thought about putting it on the list of things to do this year, but I just don’t think I’ll get to it that quickly. Lot of stuff going on already, and I really don’t want to feel like I have to rush to complete something. Takes the fun out of it. And karaoke has always looked so absolutely fun to me. (Of course, I may need a drink or two in me to screw up the courage to get up in front of a bunch of strangers and make a total fool out of myself.)

**Take the Hubs to Washington, D.C.: Now this one will kill two birds with one stone. He has never been to D.C., nor has he ever been on a plane. My goal is for us to fly up there, staying somewhere in Virginia maybe to avoid the astronomical hotel prices in the capital. I also want to make this trip while the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. I’ve been there twice and never seen that, and the hubs has said he’d like to see that as well.

There’s more to the list of course. Much, much more. I want to visit California (have a friend there I haven’t seen in about 23 years or so), go on a real live ghost hunt, travel to St. Paul to meet Angie and her family….so much to do. And I do hope I get to do all of it. If not, hey, at least I’ll be able to say I enjoyed the planning.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Better Late Than Never

Well, they say better late than never, and I whole heartedly subscribe to that thought. (Although, I still wonder who “they” are. I mean, “they” seem to have a lot to say about a lot of things.) Anyhoo, I was supposed to give the Kreativ Blogger Award to seven blogs a few days ago, but life in the real world got in the way. So, here I finally am, telling the real world to go away for a bit, and handing this little award out to seven blogs that I love to follow.

*Cat Sitter in the City: Being a pet sitter myself, this blog has a special place in my blog list.

*Blogging My Way to a Better Life: I met Stephanie when she came to one of my writers’ group meetings. She is a very creative person, and I love her blog. (I adore her two dogs as well, but that’s another story.)

*Dying for Chocolate: Oh, come on. The name says it all.

*The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee: Again, the name says it all. I love cats.

*Wildhair: This is one by a new Facebook friend, who I “met” through another blogger/Facebook friend. It’s such a joyous, endless cycle.

*Confessions of a Middle Aged Suburban Diva: Very funny. Makes you think, too.

*Meanderings and Muses: I love mysteries and crime novels. That’s how I stumbled upon this little gem.

OK, those are the seven I’ve chosen for this award. Mind you, I follow so many blogs, it was really hard to choose just seven. I also read many blogs by people who don’t really get into the blogger award thing, so I didn’t want to “force” this on them. I also didn’t bother to nominate any who had already been given this award. Why make them go through the whole thing again?

While you’re surfing the net, aim your browser on over to one of these blogs. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, try looking at their list of blogs they follow and check some of those out as well. That’s the best way to find some really great blogs you never even knew existed.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Kreativ Blogger Award

My friend Angie over at Eclectic Catladyland gave me a Kreativ Blogger award a few months ago. (Thanks Ang.) One of the stipulations of this award is that you have to share 7 things about yourself that no one would really know. SEVEN?!?!

Those who know me personally know that I talk….ALOT. (There is a button on my Facebook profile that says “People who don’t know me think I’m quiet. People who do know me wish I were.”) There isn’t much about me that my friends don’t know. Some may know more than others. But, I’ll give it the old college try anyway.

1) I love, love, love toe socks. They are a wondrous invention that I would wear every day if I could find enough of them. The local Wal-Mart sells them at Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and that’s about it. And those aren’t quite my size. I try to buy at least one pair though, even if they do only come up to just above my ankles.

2) I wear my regular socks (not the toe socks) inside out. Those little seams on the toes bug the heck out of me. Turn them inside out, problem solved. (And no, I don’t know why that seam bothers me, yet having the fabric in between my toes with toe socks doesn’t.)

3) I’m a light smoker. I say “light” because a pack of cigarettes can last me anywhere from two weeks to a month. No lectures. I know it all. I will quit (again) one day. Just not right now.

4) I love penguins. Don’t know why, just always have. Maybe it’s the little black and white “suits” they always wear. Maybe it’s the cute way they walk. Don’t know, doesn’t matter. I just like ‘em.

5) I used to be a “professional” shoplifter. I say professional because we (an old friend and I) were so good, we’d take orders for items from friends. We could walk into the mall and walk out with hundreds of dollars worth of stuff. Stopped when she got snagged by the cops. I wasn’t with her thankfully as she was a minor and I wasn’t, so I would probably have been looking at some jail time. I actually parlayed my skills into a job as a shopper for a security company. I had to walk around the store watching for shoplifters. Told them I’d be good at it because I used to be one of the “bad guys.” Hey, at least I was honest.

6) I am dying (OK, not literally) to try Karaoke. I can’t sing worth a flip, and I really don’t care. I love to sing. I especially love to sing the “old” 80’s songs. I don’t know if there is a Karaoke bar anywhere around here, but one day I will find one, get together with a friend or two, down a drink or two for courage and have at it. (I promise to post pictures.)

7) Last but not least, as much as I love my late mother (and I really do), one of my big goals in life has been to not be like her. Oh, I know I share some traits with her. My brothers have told me I sound just like her, and I know I look a bit like her (my dad, too), but Mom had a rough time and really got pretty bitter as the years went by. When life threw her lemons, she fussed and cussed and blamed everyone around her…men mostly. She was really angry with the men of our species. I love my mother, but when life hands me lemons, I will forever try my best to make lemonade.

Well, that’s it. Nothing real earth shattering, not to me anyway. I’m keeping that kind of stuff close to the vest. :-)

I am also supposed to nominate seven other blogs for this award, but since this has gotten so long, I will save that for tomorrow. Hope that’s not against the rules. Until then, take life as it comes, pour on the sugar and enjoy the lemonade.