Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Time for Tea!

Not to sound like a smug, self-satisfied b-word, but I have some pretty awesome friends.  Many of my friends are "lifers" meaning that they've been around for a long time and are going to be around somehow for the rest of my life.  They've been there for me through a lot and they know better than to put up with my special brand of B.S.

The weekend that is now over was a pretty low-key event, but that was cool with me.  Friday night I hung out with my parents and their dogs.  On Saturday, I took a little road trip with two of my friends to scenic Stillwater, MN for a birthday tea party celebration. 

Let's pause for a moment before you start to judge us.  You're probably thinking that a birthday tea party is the sort of thing that only seems appropriate for someone under 10 or over 70 years of age.  Wrong!  Going out to tea is freaking awesome and I hope that we continue to do this for birthdays in the future. 

First of all, tea is better for you than booze.  Maybe it's not as much fun as certain cocktails, but I've never had a hangover or made extremely regrettable decisions after a nice cuppa.  Second, if you do it up right in a proper tea room, you can make a meal out of it.  I'm talking soup, sandwiches, scones and dessert.  You may not think it could make you full, but go hungry and be prepared.

OK, so I am willing to concede that going to tea may not be the best option if your party includes men.  There was one man in the tea room on Saturday, but he was there with his wife and granddaughter.  I think he can be excused.

Are you still not convinced?  I guess there is just no helping you.  You must be so proud of your close-minded ways.

Moving on, tea was lovely but afterwards we decided to explore more of what Stillwater had to offer by way of shopping.  It was actually a fruitful day for me in that regard as well.  I found a new super-awesome wallet, some octopus earrings, a Valentine's Day headband, some sweet buttons and last but not least a t-shirt that totally fits in with my previous blog entry.  How?  It is simple yet perfect.

I realized that the nature of the writing on the t-shirt did not lend itself easily to verbal description, so I had to illustrate.

So that was my fun weekend activity.  I should perhaps earmark for a future entry the story of past birthday outings for this friend.  In fact, these stories would perhaps give you a better idea of why a tea party turned out to be such a relaxing and welcome event.  That should give you something to look forward to, right?

This weekend promises to be even more eventful than a tea party.  It is my brother's golden birthday (28) and in honor of this I am traveling to lovely Madison, WI with my parents (and their dogs) to celebrate with him.  Oh, and we're going to see Ben Folds in concert!!!!!  More on this later.  For now, enjoy the relative warmth of the day (at 25 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bazinga! Let us celebrate with cupcakes - who will bake them for me?

Is it lame to do two entries in one day? 

Did you say yes?  To you I say, "What-EVAH!  I do what I want!"  (This is actually a quote from today's South Park day-by-day flip calendar.  Kudos to you if you know what episode it came from.)

Why is my entry title so celebratory?  No reason - except that I just realized that I have posted more times this month than I have for any other month aside from August.  Sadly, my entries have taken a turn for the less funny and more current as of late which probably explains my decreasing levels of viewing statistics.  It also could have something to do with my lack of artistic motivation in the computer drawing department.

Just to warn you, I am seriously spacey today.  I keep blaming the weather, but it is so bad that other people have started to notice and comment.  I have tried several remedies - caffeine (coffee-based), chocolate (truffle-based), food (bagel-based) and fluids (water-based).  Nothing seems to be doing the trick.  I think that it may be time to bring in the emergency troops, but I need a little help.  Someone needs to bake me some cupcakes.  Heck, you could even BUY me a cupcake and I would be happy. 

Before I devolve into anything truly crazy or threatening, I shall cut this short.  Perhaps I shall give you a special drawing for today to conclude.

I set my hair in rollers today - hence the curliness.

Frostbite Falls, MN

There are times when I think that I love TV shows and their writers (and their actors too).  Then there are times when I think that it is all a bunch of made-up trash that gives us a skewed idea of what an ideal reality should be.  Mostly I am somewhere in between these two extremes, but since I've been on break I have had a chance to really catch up with my favorite shows through the magic of DVD. 

As I am pretty sure that I have never mentioned my favorite shows in the past (aside from some South Park references), I know you probably cannot guess what I could possibly be watching right now.  Unless you work with me and have discussed several of these shows (you know who you are). 

So first of all, I have recently been introduced to the hilarity that is Modern Family.  I had heard raves about the show from many different people, but due to my utter hatred of my digital converter box and the frustration that it causes I have not watched a regular TV show at my home for quite some time.  Thankfully, one of my friends possesses the first season of Modern Family on DVD and was kind enough to lend it to me.  I watched the entire season in about a week and now I am searching for my own copy of it so that I can re-watch it when the mood inspires me.

Next, there is Bones.  I have loved this show since it first came out many years ago, but again my digital converter box frustration paired with my graduate school evening class schedule has precluded my ability to enjoy it on a regular basis.  Again, DVD to the rescue.  The same friend who lent me her copy of Modern Family was also kind enough to enable me to obtain the second season of Bones on DVD for Christmas. 

How and why was this a big deal?  I will tell you.  You see, several years ago I purchased a copy of season one of Bones at my local Target.  Some time later I found myself ready to purchase season two.  I returned to my local Target to do this.  To my surprise, the first two seasons were no longer available separately; they were only being sold as a double value pack.  Not being one to pay for something I already have (unless I forget that I already own something) I refused to purchase a second copy of season one simply to obtain season two.

This continued for a long time.  I complained about it frequently, most notably to my coworker who also loves this show.  Imagine my joy when she presented me with the value pack for Christmas with the plan to split the pack - she took season one and gave me season two.  Such generosity brings a tear to my eye, even now.

Where am I going with this?  Why am I rambling?  Has the cold temperature outside frozen my ability to focus on a theme?  Perhaps.  Let's switch gears.

So last night I made stew.  Beef stew with paprika to be specific, from the Pioneer Woman blog.  This woman is amazing - if you've never checked out her blog, it is the blog which puts all other blogs to shame.  Google her and see what I mean.  You may never come back to my blog again.

I suppose you're all wondering how it turned out.  The stew, I mean.  It was awesome - totally worth it.  Although, I probably should have given more thought to the fact that stews generally take several hours to make and make your whole house smell of their ingredients.  Thank goodness that the recipe called for beer - I had to purchase a six pack which left me five beers to enjoy while I waited to eat.  Don't worry, I didn't drink five beers.  Just two - a brew from the New Belgium people appropriately called "Two Below."  As in degrees.  Which is technically warm compared to the current outside temperature here in MN, but you know what I mean.

So now I have leftovers that I will hopefully be inspired to eat for lunch today and next week as well.  By the end of that time I am anticipating that the odor of beef and paprika will have faded from my house so that I can move on to the next recipe.  As of yet, I have not determined what that recipe shall be, but I am trying really hard not to fall back on grilled cheese and tomato soup.  Or toast.

I realize that this entry has not taken a turn for the coherent, but I hope that it was at least a little bit informative.  If you are reading this and live in Minnesota, I hope that you manage to avoid frostbite this weekend.  If you do not live in the land of -30 degrees (Fahrenheit), I don't want to hear about it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

All to Crumbles

I believe I need to keep up with at least some of my promises, so I shall endeavor to tell you about the visit to the farm.  Of course, it is getting very late on a work night, so it may not be too long.

So on Saturday morning, I arose at the crack of 7:45 a.m. wondering why my father had already been by to wake me at 7:30.  Much to my surprise, I discovered that my father had actually overslept.  This put our departure time a little bit later than anticipated, but we were safely on the road by 9 a.m.

For the most part, the ride was uneventful.  Our plan was simple - a quick stop at the bakery for treats to bring home, out to the farm and then back to town to spend a little time with Grandpa.  What do they say about the best laid plans?  Oh yes, they do not apply when dealing with the Mayor of Northfork.

I have to admit, the first mistake was made solely by Yours Truly.  About 15 minutes from our destination, I had the brilliant idea to call my grandfather and let him know that my dad and I were on our way into town.  It was not until AFTER I had him on the phone that I realized that I am not a good liar.  I should have told him that we were just leaving home.  Instead I revealed our actual location.

When he asked where we were going, I should have made up a good story.  Instead, I told him that we were going out to the farm.  Now, my grandfather is already quite paranoid about our visits to the farm ever since he discovered that we had gutted the entire farmhouse bathroom.

To be fair, this is a bathroom that has not been functional for years if not decades.  There has not been water to the house for a few years, and the bathroom has been in a terrible state of disrepair.  In fact, the toilet had actually started to sink through the floor.  Nice, right?  Sadly, this horror-movie worthy room was once a lovely bathroom that was used by my grandfather and his family.  So he has a little more emotional attachment to it.

Anyway, while he is working through his emotional upheaval over the bathroom, he has become paranoid that the kitchen will be next in our path of destruction.  In this case, his instincts are dead-on.  However, in consideration of his feelings, the kitchen demolition has been momentarily stayed.

The actual point of the journey to the farm this weekend was for my dad and our contractor friend to search the condemned barn for salvageable barn planks for cabinets, furniture and other odds and ends.  Unfortunately, due to the fact that my grandfather took even worse care of his barn than he did his bathroom, this was a fruitless task.  On the plus side, the granary apparently has some interesting treasures, but don't tell my grandfather that quite yet.

After my father and I arrived at the farm to meet the contractor, we spent some time in the barn.  Once I started to feel unsafe and frozen, I went to the house.  While I was searching through some old newspapers, lo and behold, my grandfather showed up at the house.  Was I happy to see him?  Yes and no.  Yes because I did indeed wish to visit with him.  No because he obviously drove through some pretty bad road conditions to get there.  Needless to say, I was the one to drive him back to town.

Now that I'm getting really tired, I will have to summarize.  What did I learn from this experience?  Let me start a list:  1)  My grandfather believes that my father is frail and should not be undertaking a renovation project.  2)  Someone in my family is overly fond of chairs.  Seriously, there are probably at least 20 different kinds of chairs (mostly broken) in that house.  3)  Raccoons can climb into ceiling rafters.

There are probably more things, but if I remember them later I will mention them again.  For now, this is all I have to say on the subject of farmhouses.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Back Home on the Farmstead

Who ever said that my winter break from school would be boring and relaxing?  Nobody?  Anybody?  That's right, it isn't.

Of course, my first weekend off was my annual Jameson tasting party where my best friend announced that she was pregnant.  Hardly a boring event. 

The next weekend was Christmas at the cabin.  Travel with neurotic dogs, cross-country skiing and delicious bison tenderloin.

After that, it was New Year's Eve and late family Christmas. 

Last weekend, it was the doggy extravaganza.

That brings us to this weekend.  A blessed three-day weekend for me as I reap the benefits of federal holidays at my job.  Visions of non-showering and sleeping in filled my mind for a brief moment, but alas it is not to be. 

Tomorrow I shall arise at some ungodly hour (for a Saturday) to accompany my father to the farm where we shall traipse through the dilapidated barn in sub-zero temperatures in search of reclaimable barn wood to be used in the construction of cabinets or other house renovation projects.  I have been instructed to bring my long underwear. 

Of course, I do have another incentive for going and that is the fact that I would like to see my grandfather.  As we did not partake in our usual family Christmas gatherings this year, my grandfather did not get to see his entire family in one place.  In fact, I have not seen him since Thanksgiving weekend. 

So, in order to honor my elders and get some more good one-liners, I am going to give up one day of blessed morning sleep to spend some quality time with the Mayor of Northfork.  Of course, I will also be with my father, and you could probably call that quality time as well. 

Who knows, perhaps this weekend will generate some good fodder for a future entry.  Otherwise, please pray that I do not succumb to frostbite or become trapped under any falling lumber this weekend.  Thank you very much. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snowing and Stitching

Big surprise, it is snowing right now.  Snow in a Minnesota January is nothing new, but it always translates into a pain the butt for driving.  When I was a kid, I loved the snow.  It symbolized hours of potential outdoor fun and even school closure if I was lucky. 

By the way, is it just me or does it seem like school closings are happened a LOT more often than they did when I was a kid?  Honestly, I would PRAY for school to close or at the very least for a 2 hour late start so I could sleep in.  I feel like we hardly ever had that happen.  Lately it has felt like there are schools closing early or all day at least once a week.  I guess this just means that the school year will have to be extended.  Boo hoo.

Now that I am adult and have a full time job that NEVER closes for bad weather, my feelings towards snow on the roads has completely reversed.  I am always quite cautious in bad weather, but it can still be a white-knuckle experience driving past cars in the ditch only to arrive home and find that my plow service hasn't been around to clear my driveway.  Lest you think that I sound hoity-toity with my "plow service" reference, remember that I live in a townhome community mostly for the fact that my outdoor maintenance is minimal.

This reminds me, I need to make sure to shovel out around my power meters tonight.  The meter readers always complain that they get covered in winter, but I can't help the fact that my plow service AND the lovely people who come around and shovel the pathway to my front door like to pile up the four foot high drifts of snow EXACTLY on top of my meters.  Oh well, it gives me an excuse to use my shovel.

It's also about to get all crafty up in here.  I located my ancient birth announcement cross-stitch and I am going to attempt to recreate one for the upcoming birth of my best friend's child.  If you're wondering why I would go to the trouble, let me explain.  My best friend happens to be the daughter of my mother's best friend.  Our mothers met in 6th grade. 

My best friend and I are about five months apart in age (I'm older).  When I was born, my aunt made a lovely cross-stitch birth announcement for me.  My mom liked it so much that she made the same announcement for my friend.  Essentially, she and I have matching cross-stitched birth announcements.

In my effort to follow a little bit of tradition, I decided that I was going to make one for the new baby.  The great thing about it is that it is gender neutral and can be largely completed before the baby arrives so I would only have to update the name, birth date and height/weight info.  Of course, due to the fact that it is quite old, I do not have the original pattern, so I will be recreating the pattern based on the existing completed item. 

Perhaps I will update you as it moves forward.  But only if it looks good.  I don't like to advertise failure.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oops! I think I need a title!

Guess what?  My dreams are finally coming true!  No, not the ones where I am chased by zombies or make out with former high school classmates.  I am talking about the dream where I enter into the next phase of technological enlightenment by owning the holy grail of electronic devices:  the iPhone.

Was that a bit anticlimatic for you?  Too bad.  I have wanted an iPhone from the very first time my friend let me use hers to figure out what song was playing on the radio using the Shazam app.  Oh yes, I have wanted an iPhone very badly.  Not badly enough to switch cell phone carriers, but almost.

Imagine my joy when I found out that my current carrier (Verizon) is releasing an iPhone in February!  Imagine my extra joy and surprise to learn that these new iPhones will also have mobile hotspot technology!!  At last I may be able to contemplate disconnecting my unused (but necessary for DSL) home phone line and my internet service!!!

So maybe this isn't as exciting to everyone else as it is to me.  I am not a technology junkie by any means, but every once in a while some new shiny object comes out and makes me want to jump on the bandwagon.  I will keep you updated as the date for upgrade gets closer.

On an unrelated side note, it appears that my mouse infestation issue has disappeared from my house and resurfaced in my workplace.  Not in my particular work station, but in my office in general.  So far we have not placed traps (that I can see), but that time may be fast approaching.  They haven't made it into my instant oatmeal stash, thank goodness, but I fear I shall have to take precautionary measures very soon. 

Peace over and out homies.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Dear Reader,

I meant to post this entry BEFORE I made my big reveal.  I could just scrap it, but I drew the pictures, and I really still want to share.  Sorry about that.


By now, I am sure that I have you all wondering when I am going to reveal the big news I've been talking about for the last month.  Some of you will perhaps be a bit let down or perplexed by the news, but those of you who know me will understand. 

So should I continue to build up the suspense, or should I just let it all out at once?  Tough call.  I think I will give you a hint.

Can you tell what this is?  You have three choices:  a) box  b) brick  c) brownie

The answer shall be revealed soon.

Here is your next hint:

Don't be distracted by the awesomeness of the costume.  It conveys a message.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Big Reveal

I am starting to feel like I need to resolve the big build up that I have attempted to create in the past month or so of entries.  I'm sure that to some it will not be interesting and to some it isn't really a surprise, but it is still very exciting to me. 

It is safe for me to say that at this point in time, most of my good friends are married.  I remain the exception, but that's OK.  The inevitable next step for many of these married friends is to expand their families by having children.  Oddly, many of my friends have been slower in this task.  I will admit, this has not been that bad for me as it has allowed me to ignore any potentially annoying biological clock discussions.

This all changed when my best friend made the announcement that she and her husband are expecting their first baby in July!  Yes, this is the big surprise and I'm sure you're all wondering why I had to keep it such a big secret.  Well, the short answer is that I work for the same company as my best friend and I was asked to keep it a secret until after their 12 week appointment.  Now that this has happened and she has made the announcement at work, I'm free to discuss it.

So now I really need to find someone who can make my baby clothing line dreams a reality - I would REALLY love to be able to dress up this baby in something awesome like my lefse or even my ninja costume.  Any volunteers?  The baby isn't due until July, so you have plenty of time!  Just let me know in a comment or message and we'll work it out.  :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Doggy Dog Weekend

My life has been a bit surreal for the past few days.  It all started last weekend when I received a call from my good friend, Jill.  (This isn't an embarrassing story, so I don't think I need to use a code name.)  She and her hubby were going out of state (to Florida) for a few days and their dogsitting arrangements had fallen through at pretty much the last minute.  She was wondering if I would be able to stay at her house and watch her Border Collie, Moko, while they were gone.

I agreed rather quickly to this arrangement.  First of all, I knew that I did not have plans for this weekend, other than doing some dog-sitting for my parents during the day on Saturday.  Luckily, Jill and her husband live about 10 minutes from my parents, so that presented no problem.  Second, Jill's dog has always seemed like a pretty accepting guy and I was sure that he wouldn't have a problem dealing with me on his turf. 

After I agreed to the request, I started to think about it a little more.  Jill had me over the next day to show me where all the important supplies were kept and to go over Moko's schedule.  On my way home that night, I started to think about it a bit more and realized that it might be a good idea to take some time off of work just in case Moko's adjustment time took a bit longer.  Thank goodness I did.

I arrived on Thursday evening, after work and after dark.  The house was in darkness as well, but I expected to be greeted at the door as most dogs I have ever met are quite forward with newcomers.  My reception was the opposite of this.  I opened the door to silence.  No movement, no sound.  At first, I thought that perhaps a neighbor had come and taken him out for a walk. 

Cautiously I started turning on lights and walking through the house, calling his name.  No response.  Finally, I peeked up the stairs to the landing where I knew he liked to sit when he was playing and saw two big brown eyes staring back at me.  I figured he was a bit confused and maybe frightened, so I just let him be while I came in and unpacked.  I assumed that he would come down when he was ready.

An hour later, he remained in the same place.  I had put out his food and tried to ply him with treats, but he wasn't having it.  After several frantic calls to Jill who was almost as baffled as I was at his behavior, I decided to just let him be and hope for the best in the morning.  If he had an accident in the house, I would clean it up.  So be it.

Sometime in the course of the night, he must have decided that he was going to accept the situation because he came downstairs and was interacting with me.  Slowly but surely, we bonded.  Since then, things have gone pretty much as I expected them to when I agreed to the deal in the first place.  The only bummer is that the temperatures have been very low and walking weather has not been ideal.  Jill lives in an area of the city that is adjacent to some awesome walking trails, and I would have loved to take him out on those, but I'm pretty sure my face would freeze off first. 

Instead, we have played HOURS of Moko's favorite game:  Stairball.  What is Stairball?  Well.  Basically, Moko sits at the top of the steep staircase to the second floor of the house with an orange rubber ball.  When he thinks he has the attention of a human, he drops or noses this ball bouncing down the stairs. 

The human on the receiving end of the ball has a few options.  The first and easiest option is to throw the ball back up the stairs to him.  He will catch it - have no doubt about it.  This is one smart and coordinated fellow.  The second option is to throw the ball in the opposite direction of the stairs towards the front door.  Moko will then FLY down the stairs to retrieve the ball before racing back up the stairs.  This is the most effective option if you are trying to wear him out before bedtime.  The third option (and also the least appealing from Moko's view) is to ignore the ball.  He will either come down and retrieve it himself or he will look at you with a forlorn expression until you take pity on him and play.

While Stairball has taken up the majority of our time this weekend, there is one other behavior of Moko's that I find so fascinating, I have to mention it.  In Jill's detailed instructions, she told me to turn on the Golf Channel for Moko whenever I leave the house.  I thought this was sort of weird and assumed that Moko, like most dogs I've ever met, doesn't really watch TV but just likes the sounds and lights.  Oh boy, was I wrong.

This dog LOVES to watch golf.  He lays down on the bed in front of the TV, and when the golfer on screen takes a swing, he leaps to his feet and gasps.  If he has a ball or toy in his mouth he bites down and squeaks it.  He then lays back down and continues to watch.  I really wish I had a video camera to demonstrate it, because it is very cute.  Jill's husband loves to play golf, so I'm not sure how he instilled the love of the game in his dog, but it's definitely a sign that they were meant to be.

I also mentioned that I had to spend some time with my parents' dogs this weekend.  Now, I am far more familiar with their Jack Russell Terriers, but you would have a hard time finding dogs with more varying personalities.  For all the bad rap that JRTs get for being hyper, those two are more than happy to spend hours sleeping on a warm lap than playing endless games of Stairball.  While Moko definitely has his cuddly moments, he is obviously most happy when he is playing. 

Anyway, I am over halfway done with this dog adventure weekend as tomorrow is my last full day.  It has certainly been a learning experience in more ways than one, and I have a new respect for the time, energy and love that my friend and her husband have put into raising and training their dog.  Sadly, at present they are living apart due to a job location change and the fact that they are still trying to sell their house.  This means that my friend's husband is apart from his lovely wife during the week and apart from his dog even more than that.  While I love having them here in MN where I can visit with ease, I am praying that they will find a buyer so that they can be together again as a family in their new home. 

For those of you who may scoff at my taking time off of work to stay home with Moko, I challenge you to find time in your early mornings or evenings before and after work to address the pure energy that exists in a young Border Collie.  I consider it vacation time well-used.  And a good lesson in why I really do not have the time for my own dog just yet in my life - a very important lesson to remember as I find myself browsing animal shelter websites and yearning for my own little pup to come home to at night.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dreams and Accomplishments

You know that you are pretty lame when you're biggest accomplishment of the New Year is that you have made it to World 4 in Super Mario Wii (with no help from your brother).  Be that as it may, I am still quite proud of myself.  I have also located the warp cannon to get myself to World 6.  It's just a little scary to me right now, so I will perhaps hold off on that for a while. 

In other news, I may be making a cake sometime soon!  I have recently become addicted to the Pioneer Woman blog/website/fount of all knowledge.  I bought her cookbook, but the recipe for this cake is off of the website.  On a side note, I have turned a lot of people on to her recipes as well.  My mother has made her cinnamon rolls, mashed potatoes, potato skins and some other totally yummy things.  If you'd like to check it out, Google "Pioneer Woman."  You can thank me later.

Last night I had a very vivid and inexplicable dream.  Actually, it probably wasn't my only dream of the night, but it is the one I had right before waking up so it was more memorable.  For some reason, I was back in Fergus Falls, the hometown of my youth.  I was running all over the place with a group of people that I don't know from real life.  Why were we running?  We were being chased.  By zombies.

First of all, why zombies?  I am not a horror film junkie.  If anything I am a horror film avoider.  My theory is that by exposing my eyeballs to scary images I am more likely to have bad dreams.  So much for that theory.

Anyway, after running all over town, we ended up in front of my childhood home.  Apparently it was some sort of safe house.  We holed up in there and fought off any zombies that got in.  But here is where it is weird.  Or weirder.  Our weapons were just things like canes and sticks, but we acted like they were machine guns.  When I would point them at the zombies and make gun noises, nothing would happen.  I would then REMIND the zombies that the sticks were actually guns and that I had shot them so they should fall down.  Which they did. 

Finally, I realized (in my dream) that the only surefire way to get out of the battle was to "wake up."  Was this literal?  Not really.  It was just a rapid scene shift that took me out of the Fergus Falls zombie-land and into a regular house.  Shortly thereafter I really woke up, completely disoriented, to my alarm buzzer.

What does it mean?  If anyone reading this a psychologist, feel free to offer your analysis. 

Perhaps I will dream about it again someday and get some closure.

P.S.  Oh yes.  Get ready because my big exciting news will be revealed VERY soon! 

Cupcake Nirvana

I think I've said it before, but I'll say it again:  I love cupcakes.  While I occasionally like to make them, I am much more appreciative of the people who make them for me to eat.  In my version of heaven, I am surrounded by every flavor of cupcake imaginable and I can eat them all without getting sick or gaining 500 pounds. 

With this in mind, I shall direct you to look at my friend's blog:

Look at her cupcake pictures and tell me that you would be able to resist these.  If she didn't live hundreds of miles from me, I would be on my way to her house right now.  She is also a fantastic photographer, so check out more of her blog as well to see what I mean.  Also, as you look at her cupcake pictures, keep in mind that she MADE THEM HERSELF (including the wrappers).  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Raging Hormones

There are days when I really am grateful that there is no one at home waiting for me at the end of the day.  For instance, today.  I realize that it may be due to the fact that my hormones are a bit off right now (and will be for the next few days) but I am really feeling out of sorts and quite cantankerous. 

It could also be due to the fact that I spent most of my morning having to intensely concentrate on a detailed project that is likely to lead to another big mess of a project within the next week.  I think it would have been better for all involved if I had just been able to go into an office and shut the door until it was done, but that wasn't in the cards.

This weekend, my plans do not involve a lot of people, which is again probably a very good thing.  You may be thinking that blaming one's hormones for one's rotten attitude is lame.  I counter with the fact that it is no more lame than most other excuses people use:  headaches, fatigue, caffeine-deficiency, rain or Celine Dion music. 

Most of the time (in my professional life) I try to remain calm, or at the very least polite.  However, every few months I experience a bout of very strong internal displeasure that manifests itself into negative outward behavior.  If you've ever been on the receiving or just the observing end of this rage, you probably know what I mean. 

I would say that I'm sorry for it, but really I'm not.  I've been on the receiving/observing end of so many other people's raging episodes that I really think that I should have a turn at it every once in a while.  The only comfort I can offer is that it isn't personal.  It's just that my ability to turn off my brain and just let things slide gets momentarily jammed.

Why am I sharing this?  Maybe I just need to vent.  Maybe I'm just trying to give you an example of what a "bad day" for Megan looks like.  Maybe I just really need a good night's sleep tonight.  Take your pick; they're all correct.  Will tomorrow be better?  I hope so.  You should too.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Proof of Life

Please forgive me.  I feel like a bit of a failure as I have gone almost two weeks without any updates.  To be fair, I have started a couple of posts, but I find them uninspiring at present.  They may be edited and released at a later date, but for now, I can only tell you that I haven't completely forgotten about this blog and will try to do a bit better in the future.

So what have I been up to in these past weeks?  The truth is lots of things and none have been that exciting.  Let's start with my non-traditional Christmas.  As my brother was stuck on-call in Madison this year, the executive decision was made that we would not stay around the house for a replay of the three-person Thanksgiving that we had this year.

We considered different ideas of places to go, and while I was secretly hoping for Hawaii, we opted for the snowy tranquility of northern Wisconsin.  Why?  Well, it just so happens that my aunt and uncle own a lovely little chalet/cabin up in the woods near the tiny town of Seely.  It comfortably sleeps a lot of people and is well heated and equipped for winter habitation.  When my aunt and uncle are in the country, they understandably spend a lot of time there.

However, this year (and next year as well) my aunt and uncle are living the European Dream in Waterloo, Belgium where my aunt is teaching for two years.  Sadly, they had to spend their Christmas break skiing in Bavaria near that big fairy tale castle... Neuschwanstein.  Rough.

Anyway, as their cabin is vacant, we decided to use it for our own cozy woodland critter Christmas.  Unfortunately, this cabin is not on a body of water.  This makes it slightly less appealing in the warmer months, but in the winter it really doesn't matter.  It is, however, situated along some very nice trails that are used for both skiing and snowshoeing.

I believe I mentioned the possibility of Nordic sports in my last entry and the distinct probability that I would not be successful in said sports.  Well, I'm here to say that it remains a tempestuous relationship between me and skiis.  Ignoring my request to just use snowshoes, my father went ahead and rented a set of cross-country skis for me.  Not wanting to disappoint, I agreed to make an attempt to use them.  In my first outing, it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I stayed on relatively level ground and did not fall.

After my first successful attempt, I went out in snowshoes and definitely felt validated that this method of conveyance is much more to my liking and skills.  After these expeditions, we came back to the house for our Christmas dinner.  It was a simple meal of Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, lefse and rommegrot.  If you're from Minnesota, you probably have heard of the first three items.  You may not have heard of the fourth.  Allow me to explain.

Rommegrot is a Norwegian porridge that is made of milk, cream, butter, flour and sugar.  There are variations of this, but any good Norwegian farmwife worth her salt has a recipe for it.  I know my great-grandmother was an expert.  Or so I've been told.  Nowadays, no one in my family makes it from scratch; my mother buys it from Ingebretsen's in Minneapolis.

Now that I've explained the composition on the dish, I should also tell you that I have a tendency to be a bit lactose intolerant, especially if I'm doing a lot of physical activity.

After we ate, we rested a bit and then decided to get in another ski run before dark.  Big mistake.  I wasn't even 5 minutes on the trail and I knew that I was going to have a problem.  Luckily, we were still by the house at this point, but I decided to go down one hill and then wait for my parents before going in.  I sure wish I had stuck to that plan.

As I waited for my parents, I noticed that the ski trail crossed the driveway.  In order to save time, I moved out into the driveway.  As an inexperienced skiier, I did not realize that ungroomed areas can be highly unpredictable.   Can you guess what happened next?

Instead of gracefully moving across the driveway and into the trail, I completely lost control of my skis and only managed to stop myself by running off the trail into some small trees, completely twisting my skis beneath me and planting my backside into a deep pile of snow.  Oh, and I got a boo-boo on my finger that hurt really bad.

As if this was not traumatic enough, no one actually witnessed it.  My parents found me half submerged in a snow bank, attempting to release my boot bindings so that I could untangle my legs and stand up.

When they finally showed up, they quickly assisted me out of my skis.  Unfortunately by now, the tempest brewing in my GI tract had reached Category 5.  It was all I could do to gather my ski equipment and high-tail it back to the cabin as fast as possible.  After successfully averting disaster I decided to take a break from skis.  Forever.

The rest of the weekend was lovely, but I won't bore you with details.  We did learn a very important non-ski related lesson.  Our dogs are nervous car riders and should probably be sedated for long car rides in the future.  They may be coming to Madison with us later this month, so I'll let you know if it works.

After Christmas, the week of work was pretty slow.  It's a common vacation week as it coincides with most school breaks.  As a non-parent, I simply find that it is FAR easier to make the commute to work with all of the vacationers off the road.

New Year's Eve was pretty tame by past standards.  I will explain the reason at a later time - I promise.  Let's say on January 10th (or sometime thereafter).  Don't worry, it's a GOOD reason!

New Year's Day was nice - my relatives from the farm came in and my brother made the ultimate sacrifice and left his college buddies and their party to be with his family to celebrate a late Christmas.  I received the St. Donatus Church cookbook, for which I am very grateful.  Now if my grandpa would just get me the Big Grove cookbook...

So that brings us up to date, right?  I do have a bit of an adventure planned this weekend, and perhaps I will be able to give you some updates on it as it goes down.  Let's just say that I am going to be "dog-tired" by Tuesday! 

I hope you will all forgive me for such a long break from entries.  I shall endeavor to improve now that the holiday madness is over for another year.  I shall also endeavor to be a bit more humorous in future entries.  Until then, have fun and Google "rommegrot" if you get a chance.