Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Good Morning and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Merry Christmas! I hope yours is wonderful and well! I'll get back to you all later... Toodles for now! lisa

Sunday, December 23, 2007

"Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Everywhere. Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Do Your Share!"

Yeah Right! And so... I got to yell at all four kids this morning. No one helped out last night cleaning up, so I left the big stuff for this morning, needing a little help. All four got up, saw things were done, or semi-done, and just did their own little things. You would think this was a different time of year. You wouldn't think they'd be pulling stunts like this at this time of the year. Maybe Santa a been a little too slack-a-daisical...

Coal is sounding really good to me about now. And so, I cleaned and put away EVERYTHING all by myself. I don't want pats on the back. I don't want to be dramatic, but tables, chairs, and all of the other extras that a big party brings is very time-consuming for one person to do. It gone done, and when I vented, not one of them apologized. And what kind of kids am I raising? I can't take credit for the behavior of the two older ones... they are with their mom most of the time, and their dad doesn't speak up, but my two?!? Yikes!

I thought, for the most part, that I was teaching them to help everywhere they go, including home. Think again, Lisa... Let's just say, this was my wake-up call. If they thought I was being bratty before and too strict, watch out. The new year is bringing on new rules. I'll let you know how it goes...

After putting away all of the tamales and packaging things up, I have absolutely no room in my fridge for anything else. And the kids asked what is to eat! I had to laugh. What do you think? You guessed it... tamales! Pick one, slather it, if you wish, and eat! Mmmm... do not ask me what is there to eat for the next day or two... it is kind of obvious.

Now I've still got to wash all of the crock pots and make sure they are ready to go. I don't have that much room in my house for everything... LOL! Baby steps... But, I'll get to that a little later. It's break time! I'm going to heat up some tamales, sip some cocoa (or coffee) and watch a Tivo-ed Snowglobe. It is supposed to be a good movie... nothing like Christmas movies at Christmas time. Toodles for now - lisa

Tamales Finales! and Moving On...

Whew! I'm not sure how many we made, but I know there were two huge trays of pork tamales, one huge tray of chicken tamales, and 2 dozen pork with green chili tamales. Whew! You can say that again... and so the tamale fest leaves us until next year.

We just had our family party. My husband usually has to work either Christmas or Christmas Eve, so we had our larger family festivities tonight so that he can sleep either way for either day he has to work. It sucks, but it works.

The only thing majorly thrown in the mix this year is... you guessed it (or didn't!)... his kids. Juan has Christmas Eve off this year. So, since his kids didn't have practice after tonight, we pretty much thought it was safe to be able to have them and take them back. Whelp folks... they made "other" plans. Apparently, they "assumed" we were doing the "Santa" stuff tonight as well. Uh... hello! I'd like to not have to alter the calendar! (Can you tell I'm pretty upset?) We haven't had them for the past two years... this would be three... on Christmas or Christmas Eve, so they haven't gotten to spend the magical "Santa" moments with their little sis, Marissa. Two years ago, their mom got a wild hair and just plain withheld them. Last year, since Juan had Christmas Eve off, but something weird was happening, he just told them to stay at their mom's. This year... whatever! I sure hope they can change their plans... If you don't speak up and say something, selfishness will generally take over. Enough venting... I'd like to be able to sleep somewhat tonight... * UPDATE: Actually it was just a total lack of communication. They don't know how to talk to each other or tell the whole thing... so it just makes me NUTSO!

We had a cozy night. Tamales, rice, beans, with chips & salsa (and some dip, too!), finishing off with a cake... yum! I actually did not make the cake this year. Wow! It was difficult for me, but I'm trying to let go, so it won't be so stressful. I bought a Costco Cake. It was pretty OK. I got a "white filled buttercream." For whatever that was worth... so I had no clue what kind of "filling" was in the cake until I cut into it, but I couldn't be picky. When I got to Costco, it was the absolute last cake (sheet cake) they had that did not say "Happy Birthday." We had lots of people, lots of food, and good cheer. The night didn't last that late, but after staying up almost all night (tamale time), I guess this is pretty late.

I'm turning lazier than I thought I already was. Right now... I'm promised myself I'd clean up, but here I am, typing away and eating tortilla chips. They're pretty good, too! It is quiet here, and I guess I can do it, but I'm tired. I just want to chill and fall asleep. And even though I feel quite groggy, it doesn't appear that I can fall asleep, unless you count the typos before I backspace and correct them.

OK, I really do need to get my butt in gear. Not only do I have massive clean-up to do, but I need to finish other things prior to Christmas. I totally sucked this year. I intended to get more stuff done, even started earlier, but yet again, I did not accomplish even 1/2 of what I wanted to, and so... now I'm doing the typical Christmas shopper thingy... running around... QUICKLY!

Uh... and I'm still sitting here, not wanting to get up... wanting to go to sleep. Hmm... sleep is so winning! OK... I'll 1/2 it! I'll set my alarm for 2 hours, do what absolutely needs to be done, and go back to bed! Yeah... see you in the manana!!! Toodles for now! lisa

Friday, December 21, 2007

Takin' a Break from Shredding...

Uh! I've just finished shredding 4 pork picnic-sized roasts... and am now roasting my chickens. I need the break! Tamales are a traditional thing here. We do them every year at Christmas. This year, tonight is the night. Then, with Juan's family, we will have our Christmas party and eat them tomorrow night! Yummy. With some beans, rice, salsa, etc. it is bound to be a great feast. Last year, we introduced the somewhat more American flavor and added a crockpot of chili. Yep, you got it. Some of the more Mexican traditionalists in our family scoffed at the idea, but guess what! It all gotten eaten. Us Americans like to put a little bit of chili (con carne) on our tamale and top it off with cheddar cheese. Totally yum! Anyway, we are doing it again this year.

The picture you see is all of my kids! Clockwise from top left is Juan's daughter (Renee-15), Juan's son (Jr.-18), my daughter (Stacy-14), my daughter (Rey-Rey [another Renee]-13), and our daughter (Marissa-2). No, this is not copyrighted... they took one, and so did I! It's the one "kiddy" thing they will all do for me annually without complaint. They realize (by this time) that they have no choice! They will all change ages within a month-and-a-half after Christmas! They're all getting so big and changing so much. It's extremely hard to keep up with it all. Between school activities and other activities, I'm running all of the time.

Cute tidbit... Marissa was carrying around a copy of this photo. She loves it and all things Christmas. When she took it to her Daddy, she showed it to him and said, "Look! There's Charlie's Daddy!" It took Juan and I a couple of seconds to get it, and Juan started cracking up. Then Marissa told him, "Charlie's coming, too!" If some of you don't get it, my FAVORITE movie (besides the original Gidget and Pretty Woman) is The Santa Clause with Tim Allen. It is so amazing that she has put that in play with reality. She is one smart cookie, and cute, too! It is a great story, but I'm not sure I want to incorporate "Charlie" into the tradition of Santa... hmmm... any ideas?

Whelp, gotta get back to my Crisis Crunch (I'm still the procrastinator...)! Wish me luck! (I may stop by again to take another break...) Toodles for now - lisa

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Baking a Loaf for the Holidays (Part 2)

OK, the dough ball is in the fridge... let's take it out! Take off the plastic wrap (it should have risen quite a bit... and punch it down! That's right... put your hand into a fist and punch down! Did that feel good? I bet it did... let out all of that holiday stress that has you tied up in knots...

Now, do you remember how we kneaded the dough on the board yesterday? OK, then, you are going to do that again. Flour the board, turn the dough out, and push, turn, flour, push turn flour, etc. for about 10 minutes. Let the dough rest. (This gives the gluten time to relax so as to not resist...) Take out your favorite loaf pan and grease it (like yesterday... don't forget the corners...). Roll (or pat) the dough into a rectangle. Fold the dough over to allow the lengthy sides to touch. Now fold the shorter sides over a little bit, to equal the size of the bread pan. Flip it over into the greased bread pan. Cover it with a moist towel and put warm, draft-free area (the inside of your oven will suffice, provided the oven is turned off...) for about an hour. It should be doubled in size. When you give a slight push on the dough, the indentation from your finger should stay. Remove the risen loaf.

Turn the oven on to 350... let heat up. Bake the loaf for about one hour and check it for browning. If all things look beautiful... lightly brush the top with melted butter or milk for a beautiful glossy loaf and let it bake 10 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely. Voila! You have a yummy homemade loaf of bread ready for your dinner or gift-giving. Remember, you didn't use preservatives, so eat it fast! (That shouldn't be a problem....)

Stay tuned... tomorrow I'll give you the tamale episodes... Right now I have to go back to shredding meat!

Are you ready for Christmas? I'm not! For as early as I got started, I sure do not know what happened! Check out the poll, and let me know... Toodles for now! lisa

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Baking a Loaf for the Holidays

I know I've been gone awhile... So, I thought I'd throw in a bit of what I've been doing...
Let's Bake A Loaf!

Let’s take the “oaf” out of the LOAF and make it a wonderful learning experience for you. Bread making can be an art for anyone. From the bare basics through the most advanced baking, there is a tier suitable for even the most inexperienced bread maker. If you have an oven, you pretty much can make a loaf, and even then, there are newer (or older) methods of “baking” bread. Making a loaf of bread definitely has advanced through the ages. Through cultural diversity, there is a world of bread baking out there, and we can make it, too!

We’ll explore the different ways of making breads, and the different ways of baking them. With technological development, bread making has become easier and more time-efficient. Whether you fashion your loaf using a bread machine, mixer, food processor, or even the old-fashioned way (by hand), there is nothing like a homemade loaf of bread.

As the methods of bread making vary, so do the ingredients. Leavening agents have also developed over the years, or rather the understanding of them. Sweetening agents (also known as "feeders") are extremely diverse. One can choose honey, a variety of sugars and artificial sweeteners, and (depending on the type of bread being made) even fruits can provide sweetness to your loaf. There are many types and grains of flours to choose from, as well, and even salts. Using different types and styles of ingredients allows even the most inexperienced baker to experience a variety of breads.

But enough of that… let’s get started. Since the holidays are upon us, what better way to add some homemade goodness than to make a loaf of bread. You can use it to enhance your holiday meal or make a couple and give them as gifts! Yummy! Think of it… even if you’ve never baked a loaf of bread before, you can succeed!

Let’s begin with a traditional “old-fashioned” white loaf of bread. You will need the following ingredients to begin:

For the “sponge”:
1 1/8 c warm milk
3 T granulated sugar
1 1/2 t yeast
3 T butter, melted and cooled
For the bread:
3 c bread flour
1 t salt
extra bread flour (for kneading)

This recipe is really basic, and pretty fun, too. Pull up your shirt sleeves and let’s get started!

The warm water or milk should be about 120° F. When you heat up the milk, be careful not to scald or burn it. If you would rather not deal with milk, use 1 1/8 c warmed water (same temperature) and ¼ powdered milk. Do not continue if you overheat the liquid until it has cooled to the right temperature. If you do… you could kill the yeast.

Add the sugar. Stir the liquid and sugar until it dissolves. Add the melted butter. Add the yeast. (Packages of yeast are usually found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores. One packet [one of the three on a strip] usually equals 1 ½ t yeast.) Be sure to check the expiration date on the yeast. Yeast is a “live culture” and does become inactive. The quality and/or height of your finished loaf depends on a good, active live yeast. After stirring in the yeast, you will see a tan frothy foam begin to form!* *(see note) Yay! You’ve activated the yeast. The yeast is “feeding” on the sugar.

You’ve created a sponge! No… don’t use it to clean up the kitchen! Instead, it “sponges” up the flour, absorbing it all…

**However, if after 5 minutes, there has not been a “foaming” incident, scrap the mixture and try again. Be sure to re-check the expiration date and the temperature of your liquid. If it is too cold, it will not bring the yeast to life. If it is too hot, it will kill your yeast.

Now, you let it rest for about 20 minutes. This is called “proofing.” There is a much more scientific aspect to this, but I will explain that in a more scientific writing phase…

While you are proofing the yeast…In another bowl, place 2 c of the flour. Mix in the salt. Salt is very important in a yeast bread recipe. Salt stops the yeast from overreacting. We are not using an excessive amount of salt in this recipe, so you are pretty safe from over-salinating yourself. Take out your loaf pan and grease the pan (making sure to get all the corners) with shortening. (Or, spray it with cooking spray.)

When the yeast is proofed, slowly pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredient bowl. Mix this with a wooden spoon. It will become tough to mix. Slowly add the remaining flour, mixing thoroughly after each addition. If it becomes too tough to mix with a spoon… dig in! Put your hands in the mix and mix away. The dough begin to form a ball.

Sprinkle some flour on a clean cutting board and put your ball of dough on the floured board. Sprinkle a little more flour on the dough, now “rock” it. Flatten the dough with the heels of your hands, pushing it and stretching it. Now, fold a quarter of the dough over the middle, turn the dough a quarter turn, adding a little more flour (enough to prevent sticking to your hands… some will stick, but we don’t want a lot…) and push again. Repeat the process! You are now kneading (pronounced like “needing”) the dough. Keep it up for about 10 minutes. The dough should be forming a nice round ball that is smooth and “elastic.” (It will bounce back to shape if pinched!)

Beware! DON’T THROW THE BALL!!! Grease (with shortening or cooking spray) a large bowl. Place the dough ball in the bowl. Take the ball and turn it over again (coating the entire ball with the shortening). Cover it with plastic wrap (greased or sprayed with cooking spray). And… we’re going to do the “cheater” method today!

Put the bowl in the fridge. We are going to let it rise in the refrigerator, giving us and the dough a break (this is quite a bit for your first time out…), and we will shape and bake it tomorrow!

Come back tomorrow, so we can share our loaf together! Oaf! Whew! Get ready to roll up your sleeves again! I might even have pictures!

Toodles for now... lisa

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Ewww! Has the Television Writers' Strike Got You Bummed?

I know I need to write more, but with the writers on strike, maybe I shouldn't... I don't want to get nabbed like Eva Longoria Parker did... apparently, she tried to defuse the guff from the picketers by bringing pizza, which they snubbed her for. So sorry!

I am such an addict to television... this is going to ruin my whole life! Uh... on second thought, it will just give me lots of time to catch up on all that I haven't watched. Plus, maybe some of those re-runs coming will be some that I haven't seen or didn't get a chance to tape?

I am a firm Aushole. I read "Ask Ausiello" (http://www.tvguide.com/ask-ausiello) on tvguide.com religiously, every Wednesday. He has the most up-to-date scoop on my favorite shows and other information... he is who I look to first with all of the scoop with this writers' strike. He even dedicated a bunch of time to getting this: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-striketvgrid-html,0,7606966.htmlstory?coll=la-home-center, an awesome grid with what to expect from the shows, how long they will last without repeating episodes, etc. Take a look... it is well worth it!

As for television itself, we will be looking at a lot more reality shows if this keeps up! Not that I mind that. Like I said, I can "finally" catch up on things I've missed!

As for the reasons for the strike... the writers should get a piece of the DVD pie, not the pizza pie offered by our Desperate Housewife...

Toodles for now! lisa

Friday, November 2, 2007

All About Halloween 2007

Halloween prep started early this year during the summer. (We are trying to overcome procrastination... Yeah, right!) Costumes were decided on, fabric was purchased, and the construction of the garments was undertaken. At the beginning of October, we put up the decorations, but not all of them... As always, some stuff just never got done. But hey! At least I got the costumes made! Yay me! Stacy and Rey were "vampire fairies" and Marissa and Jake (my nephew, Josh's son) were Raggedy-Anne & Raggedy-Andy. I think they all turned out really good... (I'm gonna pat myself on the back, now... check it out for yourself in the scrapbook below.)
Happy Haunting 2007!
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The house (we only did the entry way and a couple of things tacked on the garage doors, and not much on the inside) looked eery, with all of the smoke from the fires. The moon was really weird, but beautiful. (This photo was taken on 10/26/07, courtesy of Mike Reid.) The fires smoked and lit up the sky, making everything take on an orange-y glow.
I actually got some other things made, this year! The ghosts in the scrapbook are at my mom's house... I didn't make mine... yet...
And these cute mummy hands (were a pain in the butt) are awaiting to be brushed with a brown-colored ink, to add a burn-ished look and grave-liness to them. So I accidentally gave my mummy two right hands! Ok, I'll fix them for next year. You can find this project in the "free projects" section of www.tallmouse.com (Halloween).
I've certainly got a lot of ideas for next year. If you have ideas or patterns, feel free to e-mail them (or a link) to me! I really like looking at other stuff. (The same goes for Christmas ideas... it is coming... SOON!) I hope to put everything up next time... I don't think I'm purchasing anything at the after Halloween sales (Joann's and Michaels already have 70% off!!!), as I didn't use it all this year. Bummer!
But Halloween, itself, was slower than most. There weren't as many trick-or-treaters this year... Everyone I've talked to had much more candy left than last year and purchased about the same amount... There weren't as many houses giving out candy, either! Last year, there were more than a dozen houses participating around my mom's neighborhood. This year... 4!!! On the whole block! Including my mom's! Wow, what a change. But then again, there were lots of kids we saw who were skateboarding (and trick-or-treating) but not dressed up. Oh well...
I'll play more catch up later... Toodles for now! lisa

What Happened?!? (to me?)

I'm just like any one else... I often times get overwhelmed, sidetracked, or just straight LAZY! It could be that I just have too much to do, or it could be the fact that I feel old... I did turn 37 last month...

Well, my goal for November is to get back on track. This means, on track with my writing, my reading, my cleaning, my sewing, my making Christmas gifts, and my scrapping. Hmm... did I leave anything out? Oh well... it will come to me later. Is this too much to do? or to set goals for? Oh well... call me an overachiever! Hopefully, I can do it all, so don't consider me an underachiever! Lol! On with November!!!

We have Lupe (Mom-Lupe), Juan's mom's birthday today... on el Dia de los Muertos... she thinks it's creepy. I think it's kinda cool! Imagine. If your birthday was part of a huge celebration in your culture! Lots of food, partying, kind of like a Mardi Gras-style of festival (only in the festivities portion), with people dressing up in skeletons and "deadly" attire, foods specific to the occasion, with sweet breads, all in a tribute to the dead and their spirits. Even though the direct translation is "Day of the Dead," is is really an "All Souls Day." It is a day that brings spirits back to celebrate with their families. For more information, check this out... http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/egg/egg1096/daydead.html. And then there's this site (http://www.dayofthedead.com/PhotosFlowers.html)... go through all of the photos (there're beautiful) of Mary Andrade as she tours you throught Mexico during el Dia de los Muertos...

Tomorrow is my sister, Jolene's birthday. She is turning the big 2-5, as she calls it and is having a big shabang in Las Vegas! Yeah! Partay city! Limo, Dom Perignon, dancing, the Luxor, lots of clubs, and lots of friends will be her weekend. Have a great time (and a safe trip)!
Time to get down to business... upload, and write again! I have so much to tell you! Toodles for now! lisa

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Oh My Jonas (Brothers)!

Not being able to hear very well today, I am sitting down to write...

Last night was... uh... Can't find a word for it... I have never seen so many little girls through teenage girls screaming! I found a different world at the Jonas Brothers concert than any concert I've ever been to... and it's been a lot!

I thought I would be really nice and take my girls to see the Jonas Brothers. I had heard of them, and seen some of their videos (we do watch the Disney Channel), plus heard their music over and over again. No big deal, right?

Wrong! My first clue should have been when I saw all of the "Preferred Seating" tickets were sold out, when I went online after receiving notification of the Fair's concert line-up. (Back-track a little... the concert was at the Southern California Fair - Lake Perris Fairgrounds; free with fair admission.) I guess that wasn't clue enough for me. We planned on going and just to sit in the grandstand (of the speedway). We had seen other concerts there before and decided the "Preferred Seating" wasn't worth it... you could see more from the grandstand.

I figured leave at 5pm, concert starts at 7:30pm, we had plenty of time; it is only ten minutes away... So we went. The line for the parking lot was 20 minutes... The line for the admission was 30 minutes... We went into the Fair, found a long line and thought that was it (to get into the concert). Oops! That line was for the "Preferred Seating." I asked Security how to get to the "General Admission" line... I got a total eye roll with long directions and a description of "with about 5,000 other people." The line was quadruple-wrapped and extended at least a quarter mile, so it was probably about a mile long. I don't think there were 5,000 people, but hey! Who's counting? Certainly not me! I was told they were only letting in 5,000 people...

After a long wait and moving, fighting off people trying to "cut" in front of us... we actually got in! Yeah us! But... we ended up sitting in the last grandstand area, way to the left of the stage and couldn't even see the big screens from the angle we were at. Yikes! But the lights went out, the music started and all I could hear (aside from a couple of bass beats) were the shrill screams and shrieking of thousands of girls! Ugh!

I had to stand, as everyone else was standing, and we couldn't see without doing the same. I went to sit (Marissa is really heavy), and couldn't! Someone was standing on my seat! Thankfully, after only a few songs, the girls (and their friend, Dori) wanted to go down and meet Grandma (my mom hadn't gotten into the concert but was in the Fair). Yeah us!

And so... we left the stands for a safer (and quieter) haven, at the bottom, and in the Fair.

We had a good time after that. We got something to eat, watched the turkey races (very amusing), and saw a hypnotist show. All in all, it was fun. We got back fairly late, but it was worth it! Now, if I can only get the ringing out of my ears...
Toodles for now! lisa

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Computer Crap!

Holy Moly! My computer is acting liking a two-year-old (mine included) and throwing tantrum after tantrum!

I don't know much about computers, but I do know more than some. I have been trying to install PrintMaster by Broderbund. What a pain in the butt! I run the drive with the installation disc. No problem. However, during the installation, it tells me "typical.cam" is corrupted and cannot be used. OK, so maybe I got some of the letters after the dot wrong, but it's still the same message.

My problem is... THIS IS A PROGRAM I JUST BOUGHT! NEW, IN PACKAGE!!! I shouldn't be having any problems with it. But I am!

Like I've said before, I like doing my own cards. So... since my other program was acting up, as in not even working... I bought this one. It appears (from reading the packaging) it can do so much more than my old program. Great! However, I can't even seem to get the darned thing installed! Yikes! Oh well... I'll keep working at it. Maybe I'll just switch to the custom installation, rather than the typical, as that is where the "problem" appears to be.

Toodles for now! lisa

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Princess and Marissa

We went to the quincenera last night and did not return until 1am! Whew!

OK... I finished sewing a portion of the gifts on Friday night, but Miss Marissa felt the need to wake up at 7am! Yuck! I was tired and still wanted to sleep, but so is life with kids, especially little ones.

And sew (I mean "so") the day began. Did I mention I was already tired? Hmm... So, in honor of Michelle's Quince Anos, I wrote a poem for her card:


You are leaving your
World of comfort and youth
Entering the unknown
Outside of your booth

Fifteen is a time,
A changing of seasons…
For many continual

Your interests begin
To grow
You can learn to cook
And learn to sew

You can dabble and play
With objects of art
But, in the end,
You’ll follow your heart

And when you feel life
Taking its toll,
Sit down and have some
“Chicken Soup… For Your Soul”

But for now, RELAX!...
Enjoy your coming out
And have no doubt…
After all, that’s what it’s all about!

For those of you who seriously know me, you know I really like to do my own cards. Now, my program is out of whack to do the cards from, so I printed it via the computer and then stencilled (chalked) in designs and words for the cover. I think it turned out pretty good.

Then... I wrapped the gift. I love to wrap gifts. I like to be original and do things very creatively. So, it probably was a little "different" for some. But, the poem actually refers to the gifts, as well. She received (from us), 3 aprons (one Christmas, one "everyday", and one Halloween), a small starter sewing kit, and Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul - THE REAL DEAL. Here's a pic of the "wrapped" package...

Stacy & Rey were excited. I was letting them wear "high" wedge heels, and they were ecstatic!

Marissa fell asleep before leaving, but woke up when we got there. She seemed ok to go. However...

Upon seeing "lots" of people, she all of a sudden wanted to go home. And clung to either me or Juan for most of the first hour. The death grip was overwhelming! Eventually, she loosened up, then had to follow "the princess" around all night, or as much as we would let her. (We didn't know what she was talking about, at first, then when she pulled me to Michelle in a ballroom gown and tiara... I understood!) Marissa wanted her cake. She finally got it and loved each and every bite! She also had her first bout with sparkling cider... yummo! She danced and ran and genuinely had a great time... and finally fell asleep on the way home.

So, at the end of the night... Michelle, the birthday girl had a new name, "the Princess." That name will probably be with her forever, where Marissa is concerned. From the moment she got up this morning, she wanted "my princess." (We were given "recuerdos" - memorial photos of the occasion of Michelle in full regalia.) Marissa got her "Princess" trading card. She was just in complete awe. It was almost like going to Disneyland for her (only cheaper... lol)!

Michelle's Quince Anos
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There are more pictures in this slide show... For those of you who took really great pics... some of the photos I couldn't put in this because of the format... you wouldn't have had heads or feet... sorry! Otherwise, it's a more complete review of some of the party. It only held 20 pics, so I did the best I could. (I'm also not sending this one out to everyone. You can view it here...)

The party was beautifully done... Thank you Carlos & Olga for inviting us. It was wonderful!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sew Nice for a Birthday

OMG! Someone commented! OMG! Wow! Someone actually reads this? Thank you! To the anonymous commenter... THANK YOU!

Not only was there a comment, but it was extremely useful. Who would have known there was a website devoted to pig collectors? I wouldn't have... but I used the info, sent in my request and forwarded the website, http://www.happypigcollectors.org/ to Stacy! (Now let's hope she realizes she needs to press the "send/receive" button at the top of Outlook!)

I found it wonderfully warm that someone would actually care enough to give me awesome information and help me out in need. Thanks again!

This week has been hectic, but aren't they all?! (BTW... I am way behind in watching taped TV - did I mention I need TIVO?, and writing... I'll catch up one day, or just maybe start over...)

Miss Marissa is at the throws of the "terrible twos," which will probably go on for the rest of her life. (At least that's the way it feels right now!)

She has become the world's pickiest eater... well maybe not the pickiest, but getting there. She once liked vegetables. We are at the stage where she refuses to eat any vegetables. Not even starchy vegetables, i.e. corn, potatoes (unless they are fries, of course). Fruits, she is ok with. Meats... ugh! She will only eat chicken. And it cannot be in any kind of sauce. She even picks the ground beef out of spaghetti! Mac and Cheese, other noodles, and stuff are ok. She does not like Alfredo sauce. No gravies, etc. either. Pizza, chicken, and spaghetti... hmm... sounds like I should open a Shakey's, huh? Oh! She did discover dried blueberries and dried strawberries this week and LOVES them! Yeah! Something else she can eat that is healthy!

And the tantrums have been raving! If I did not know this kid, I would think she had multiple personalities. One second she is screaming and crying. With the flick of something interesting, the waterworks turn off, and lo and behold... she is a sweet kid again! Whew! If that doesn't tire you out, then I don't know what will. And she still goes and goes... Yikes!

My brother came out this week and re-networked all of the computers. So, for those of you who have been waiting... the girls have their own e-mails again. Just e-mail me to get the addies... They actually have their room fairly clean, in order to be able to surf the net. Geez! I'm getting sick of hearing about the Jonas Brothers! LOL! It seems to be Rey's fave thing now-a-days!

I just finished a sleepover with my sewing machine. I put together some items for a cousin's quincenera (15th birthday party). It was hard to figure out what to get her (Michelle's birthday was last Sunday - HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MICHELLE!), as she's one of those that has almost everything. So, I figured if I make something... she wouldn't already have it now, would she? I'll publish photos and stuff and tell more another day... just in case someone reading is going to the party. If so... see ya there!

Chat with ya all later... gotta go! Toodles for now - lisa

Monday, September 24, 2007

Are you there yet?

I haven't seen any comments... Are you there yet? Is anyone reading this at all? Uh... HELLOOO!!! Brief comments are welcome, long comments, too... Anyone? Anyone? (reminiscent of Ferris Bueller's Day Off) Please... speak to me!

Just a brief commentary on Shark last night... AWESOME! So glad Danielle Panabaker is back. LOVE her! I was afraid for most of the show that she was really gone... OK. There it was!

I won't comment much here, because I guess (from a comment way long ago...) you all don't want to read television reviews, so if you'd like to know, you need to let me know... Otherwise, I'll save it.

The season is coming off well. Tonight is a lot of TV! Let's see if they all last... Toodles for now! lisa

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I LOVE LA... we love it! we love it! And another birthday...

And so... the saga continues... Monday, Laureen and I went to LA, the Fashion District. She was a virgin (new to the LA fabric scene)... So, the sights and the prices were very new to her.

We had a wonderful time and found so many great deals! To anyone who buys polar fleece, go there! It is worth the trip. At $2.50 a yard, you can't go wrong. Also, I had never been in the "Loft" of Michael Levine Fabrics, and I fell in love with it! $2 a pound! Yeah! I got a lot of fabric (a full bag!) and only spent $8. What a steal! And buttons... some of the accessories and notions just have the greatest things. I bought a dozen extremely large buttons for $2. At Jo-Ann's and Walmart, these same buttons (size, style, and color) were $2.10 for only 2!!!! You cannot go wrong.

The trick is to go with a list. But, this trip was much shorter than when we go with the girls... we aren't checking out all of the clothes, purses, shoes, etc. This was a fabric trip only!!! And Marissa was SO good! Laureen loved it! She was thrilled and is (hopefully) planning another trip much sooner! We had a great time and were back before the girls got out of swimming practice.

Mimi's is one of the girls' favorite restaurants. Since it was Grandma Laureen's last night, she was taking us out to eat - girls' choice. And they chose Mimi's Cafe. I love their carrot raisin bread before the meal comes. Yummy! There is actually stuff there that our finicky child (Marissa) will eat, as well. So, it makes for an excellent choice. Grandma Laureen had never been there either, and (I believe) she was rather impressed. It still remains a #1 choice for us! You've got to try their corn chowder! It's the best. The recipe can be found here: http://www.mimiscafe.com/recipes.aspx. Also, their buttermilk spice muffins are to die for!

The following day (Tuesday), we entertained ourselves in the morning, looking at Walmart's Halloween and Christmas displays. Then the time had come... we packed up Grandma Laureen and went back to the airport, but not without stopping a Jo-Ann's (Fabric Store) on the way. With coupons and some of their sale items, the prices aren't too bad...
I already miss her! I left her at the check-in curb... and couldn't drive my car. I put in "drive," pushed the gas... and nothing happened! Yikes! Leaning my ear to the wheel, I realized I had turned the ignition off. Only me! Oh well!
Back to the normal life for me... but on the way home, I stopped at Michael's Arts & Crafts. Miss Marissa has come to love painting. She really likes to paint birdhouses, but that gets rather expensive. So I stopped at Michael's to take advantage of their sale. I got wood trinkets and stuff (Halloween) at 5/$1. She loves them! Plus... the Apple Barrel paints were on sale at 2/$1. I got a couple of the kids' poster paint kits (paint brush and little filled paint pots) for her to use, then just keep replenishing them (once emptied) with the purchased paints. Works for me! She is the next Michelangelo...
Back to School Night for Rey was next! Yay! I just love fighting for a seat! Unlike most of Stacy's classes, the parents in GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) actually go. My mom went, too! It was nice to see such a turnout and to hear such positive things about all of the kids!
Dinner! I've never had Pick Up Stix... I've only played the game as a child. But hey! Their food is really good! They use more water chestnuts than most fast-food Chinese restaurants, so that was a nice change. The flavors are awesome, the rice is not over-cooked, and the have these wonderful little apple-filled rolls. Quite the taste-bud treat! Even better... there is a Starbucks next door! (Okay, so one door over...)
And then we ate at home every night after that! Our "normal" life was back in swing. Thursday we had a "fun" night. We took our leftovers to a friends house, and they brought their leftovers out. We had a total mix-and-match leftover feast! It really worked! Then we celebrated the birthday of our friend, Cassandra, with cupcakes (or if Ashley's reading this... "brownie" cakes!). My fault... Cassie's birthday was in August, but I didn't make them in time... Sorry...

Friday was pizza night and I was sewing again. I made a wonderful little gift for my friend, Kim. Her birthday was Wednesday. Such a horrible friend am I that I hadn't been on the computer and finally was catching up early Friday morning and saw the reminder from http://www.birthdayalarm.com/. So I called and wished her a belated birthday!
We were going to get together the following day to celebrate, along with everybody else! So, I stitched this cute apron up for her! Now the girls want one, too!

As for the program... I love it! It e-mails you to remind you of friends' birthdays and gives you the option to e-mail greetings to them! And it's FREE!

***BTW... if you would like one... doesn't have to be Halloween. Can be everyday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc... let me know. I'm taking orders @ $10 each for basic fabrics. Custom depends on the fabric pricing, unless you supply your own...

So, yesterday was the party. The food was great, the people were fun, and Marissa was a pain! So we stayed a couple of hours and ate and talked and had a wonderful cake. Kimmy & Stan certainly know how to make people feel welcome! I could go back any time!

Today was catch-up day. Am I caught up? Uh... what do you think? Huh! I am still working on it. But, with the close of this post, I am getting there and can cross one more thing off my list! Yeah!

But hey! The new television season is here... and I am a couch potato (or bed potato... wherever I choose to watch it), so you know what I'll be doing tonight... That about wraps it up... Toodles for now... lisa

Picking Fabric and Apples

Wow! I took a little mini "vacate" to enjoy everything and re-grasp my mind, but I thought it was only for one week... Let's see... where to begin...

Thursday, after the tacos, I picked up my Step-Mom, Laureen (in photo with my daughters) from the airport. We went to Anaheim and Cerritos (she's a fellow crafter and sewer). FYI - for those of you who only shop at Jo-Ann's, Walmart, or Michael's... there is a whole 'nother world out there... M&L Fabrics in Anaheim has some really great deals. We found tons of fabric (flat-fold) for $1.69 a yard. Great deals! Also, we found fabric that was really hard to find... a little more expensive, but worth the price.

Stacy loves pigs. But "pig" fabric has been extremely hard to find. I guess nobody printed it this year (or last). At M&L, we found 2 types of pig fabric. I'm still looking for fleece with pigs on it, but found the fabric. (She wants a denim tote with "pig" lining.)

Laureen loves penguins. We found that there, too! Yay! Two birds with one warehouse! She wants a denim purse.

Then off to Cerritos to The Tall Mouse - one of the greatest craft stores ever made. Check it out! You can even order online from them! They are in the process of putting up their Christmas stuff, but they have some really cool autumn items for Halloween and Thanksgiving. On their website... they have free project sheets, as well. The Tall Mouse is also in Yorba Linda (tiny store) and Laguna Hills (never been there), but I'm much more familiar with the Cerritos store, as I have been going there since it first opened.
Tall Mouse Arts & Crafts
There, we encountered lots of "Dollar Deals" for the kids to make. Such a great find. Marissa has loves crafts, especially painting, so I spent a little there.

The following day (you all know I can't miss a sale...) we went to Redlands, where we arrived at the Hancock Fabrics sale...

Butterick Patterns are almost never on sale, and they were only $.99 that day. So, we went with a list. (I've found that going to the website [pattern manufacturer] the night before and looking at there catalog online, writing down the numbers and making my list, helps keep me more focused and Marissa less fussy.) Lucky us, Marissa fell asleep on the way there and stayed asleep for most of our visit!

The store itself is kind of cramped, but it was good news! They had added extra CLEARANCE BINS!!! Good going! Cone thread (3,000 yards) was in the bins at $.25 each! Hello! I stocked up. I got about $56 (minimum value) for $7... not bad... Then we found all kinds of other little deals... iron-on "butt" patches, jean glamour iron-ons, all at 80% off! We walked out of there with the excitement still bubbling.

Saturday was a couch potato day. It was fun. We ate good food and watched movies... Have you ever seen "The Lake House?" I cried. It was that good. Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves have such a wonderful chemistry together. It was hard to follow if you missed some of it, so we stayed glued. Also, if you are not "open-minded" to supernatural happenings, you might not like it. But if you like a good story, that is definitely different, check it out!

Next up, one of the Jason Bourne movies. Gotta love them! So action-packed and full of excitement, you stay on the edge of your seat throughout. My heart was still racing when the movie ended. Who says watching TV isn't aerobic exercise? Huh!

After our Saturday of rest, we trekked up the hill to go apple picking in Oak Glen. Riley's Apple Farm is one of my faves! We had our choice of Red Delicious, Macintosh, Glen Seedling, Spartan, and Jonathan. Some were tart, others were sweet. Some were for cooking, other were for eating. Unfortunately, the girls did not remember which ones they picked, so we had a grab bag and sometimes got the lucky bite!

Here is the Smilebox (interactive digital scrapbook) version of our excursion...
Apple Picking 2007
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Oak Glen is up the hill from Yucaipa and offers a wide range of things to do. It is beautiful! At this time of year, they have apple and berry picking on some of the orchards. After picking apples, we came down the hill a little to Oak Glen Village, which has a bunch of little shops offering crafts, novelty items, food, music, etc. First we checked out the animal museum.

Inside, you find a Disney-style entrance (rock formations) and set-up with many exhibits. There were both stuffed and live animals. Some were quite ugly (not all animals are cute); some were awesome (the endangered timber wolf was a sight!), and some were just plain creepy (crawly, too! They had bugs!).

Then we found the bakery! Of course! FOOD! We each enjoyed a slice of Mile-high Apple Pie a la Mode. It was quite the tasty way! Yum! The wait was long, but even that was worth it.

We checked out a couple of the craft stores... a little too pricey for my taste, but things we could make on our own for much less. Afterall, we knew where to get the fabric...

Then we went back to the museum for their "Exotic Cat Show". We were a couple of minutes late, so we sat in the back. Showing upon entry was a millipede who releases cyanide in minute amounts on contact. Just what I wanted to see... and touch... Next there was some kind of dragon (I forgot what kind...) who was very good at staying still. And so... I politely asked if we were in the right spot for the "Exotic Cat Show." I was told, "This is it." OK.... after more joking about the abilities of the dragon, it went away and we were brought to behold the attention of an African Serval (Cat). Beautiful and dangerous (this one was trained), the cat was awe-inspiring. It's eyes really do glow like that (just kidding!)! I still think "WOW!" And that was the show!

At the bottom of the hill, we hit an American icon... ye old favorite... an A&W Restaurant. It was so good. I haven't had it in so long. So I asked how much a gallon or root beer was... uh, what! "You don't sell it anymore... You are closing in a week!" Ugh! I guess we got there just in time. For those of you who travel to Yucaipa, the A&W Restaurant on Yucaipa Blvd. is no longer... it will be the "Fat Greek", probably as you are reading this...

And so, ends the first amount of time lost for my friends, family and blog readers. I'll finish the catch up a little later. Toodles for now! lisa

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tacos, Turtles and Rainbows

Sunday night, I went to pick up Stacy & Rey. So... with most of our family there (Jolene, Ariel, Josh, Vic, Jake, Mom & John, and me with my kids), we had a "taco night." Yummy! It was wonderful and we all over-indulged ourselves, which is not hard to do when the food is great and there's plenty of it.

Marissa got to play with Jake a lot, which she's been really bugging me to do... They get along pretty well, for the most part, but they each have their moments when one doesn't want to do what the other does and it's a little comedy at that point.

Monday, I spent a large portion of time cleaning the "turtle tank." We have a female red-eared slider. She is semi-aquatic, loves to swim, loved snails, goldfish, crickets, grasshoppers, pothos, dandelions, and other free types of food. So... she is relatively inexpensive to take care of. It is just a lot of work once a month, when we clean her tank...
**But, Ms. Marissa really enjoyed it this day, as we were rinsing stuff out, and she wanted to go "under the rainbow" (run through the water). It was really quite cute and fun to watch her enjoy this timeless activity that we all used to enjoy (and some still do!). We played a while, then had to change her clothes. (Heaven forbid if the kid is "wet!")
**Then we watched our turtle, Bubbles, for a while. She really is interesting. She chases goldfish throughout her tank, hunting for them. They scramble to stay out of her jaws. They hide behind the large rocks in her tank and stay out of her sight for days at a time. There are currently 4 fish (two gold-colored and two grayish) still in the tank. Two are from a couple of weeks ago (the grey, as they are hard to see) and two are from just the other day. When the chase is on, it is funny and fascinating! (Snail-eating is cool to watch, too!) It provides entertainment and responsibility for us.
**By the way, she was free to us. We got the turtle, tank, stand, light, aquarium necessities and some food for free. How did we do this? There is a wonderful website called Freecycle (http://www.freecycle.org/)! This is a great way to get rid of items you don't want or to get items someone else doesn't want. You can find your area and become a member and receive randomly posted items, or post yourself. Through a couple of weeks, I received all of the items needed for our turtle through postings when people offered. It is a great thing! Check it out.
**So far, today is much of the same as any other day. We're (Marissa and I) are coloring mostly and watching "Lady and the Tramp" for the umpteenth time today. I'm also working on dinner... Yummo! (a little Rachel is always a good thing!) Toodles for now! lisa
** FYI - the website is doing something really funky and isn't putting returns where they should go... therefore, until I figure it out, I will separate the paragraphs by two asterisks (**). Have a great day!

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Birthday and a Squirrel Story

Hey! It's Aunt Drinda's Birthday! Have a Happy One! And...

Here is an awesome answer to my "squirrel" problem (Thanks Aunt Dianne! - sent via email):

There were five country churches in a small TEXAS town: the Presbyterian Church, the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, the Catholic Church and the Jewish Synagogue. Each church and Synagogue was overrun with pesky squirrels.

One day, the PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH called a meeting to decide what to do about the squirrels. After much prayer and consideration, they determined that the squirrels were predestined to be there, and they [the Church] shouldn't interfere with God's divine will.
In the BAPTIST CHURCH, the squirrels had taken up habitation in the baptistery. The deacons met and decided to put a cover on the baptistery and drown the squirrels in it. The squirrels escaped somehow and there were twice as many there the next week.

The METHODIST CHURCH got together and decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God's creation. So, they humanely trapped the Squirrels and set them free a few miles outside of town. Three days later, the squirrels were back.

But -- The CATHOLIC CHURCH came up with the best and most effective solution. They baptized the squirrels and registered them as members of the church. Now they only see them on Christmas and Easter.
Not much was heard about the JEWISH SYNAGOGUE, but they took one squirrel and had a short service with him called "circumcision" and they haven't seen a squirrel on the property since.

**As some of you can see... even though these things continue to eat my produce, I still have somewhat of a sense of humor and humanity. Although it's very trying at times, I still haven't quite gotten the bug to seriously rid myself of them. Plus, it would mean cutting down my lush grape vines to get to their home... It's just too pretty right now to do! (I think I'll probably do the thing I'm best at... and procrastinate... at least until the foliage dies off..)

For all who appreciate the outdoors .. . the rarely photographed South Florida Squirrel. (courtesy of Aunt Dianne)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Talking, Talking...

It's Aunt Chris's Birthday! Congrats and I'm glad you made it there! Have a Happy One and enjoy your "time laid-back".

Today Miss Marissa has talked about nothing but: 1) "the animals" 2) Grandma's house and 3) "Maagett's" (pronounced with an "awe" sound - being Margaret's) House. Ugh! Not to say that any of these things are awful... just to hear it over and over and over and over... You get the picture...

First off... "the animals" is the movie Barnyard, which she saw the other day, but had to "give back." Though the movie was somewhat stupid in parts, it held humor, even for the adults... I laughed my @ off! LOL! Uh, however, if you watch it... you just need to remember this is fiction. There is nowhere in the world where there are male cows. And even then, male cows wouldn't have udders. Just wash that away from your mind, and you can probably enjoy the movie.

Secondly, she's been asking since Saturday about Grandma's house. She wants to go pick up Stacy and Rey. She also asks to see "Jakie," "Uncle Dosh" (Josh) and ... get this one... gotta love it... "Auntie 'Ic" (Auntie Vic). I just love the way she can't pronounce certain consonants just yet. It all comes out so cute and endearing. It's just SOOOO cute! But we'll be going there today, to meet up with everyone and have dinner.

As for "Maagett's" house... I've had to tell her over and over again. "They aren't home!" Every time we are in the car, or going to be in the car. She wants to see everyone. She individually names off everyone in their family, including "Peter Pan" (Pete - the dad). I tell her after she's named a person. "He [or she] is not home. They went to their Grandma's house." And I mean everyone, including their wonderful dog, Annie. After going through the whole list, Marissa says a disappointed "Oh....!"

So, of course we will be going soon. I just have to finish up what I was doing and finish making my portion of the meal. Toodles for now! lisa

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Random Acts of Kindness

As some of you know... there are only things that happen to me. It is plain and simple. I am one of the few percentage that is bound to get the adverse side effect or the 1 in 100 that statistically, gets the odd thing! Trust me, it sucks!

Random acts of kindness are something that each one of us, as a decent human, being perform on a regular basis. It makes us feel good. It makes us a good citizen and a good person, on a whole. However, for those that "things just happen to", those random acts of kindness often backfire! And it usually happens to me...

Yesterday, while sitting in traffic (taking my older girls to my mom's), Stacy spotted a little pick-up (driving next to us) with a full-size wallet on the rear bumper. Me, being the "do-gooder" that I can be (sometimes), honked my horn at the little old lady driving it. She looked up, startled, and Stacy and I started pointing to the rear bumper and shouting. I doubt she heard us... maybe she can read lips... after all, in all of this heat (yes, yesterday was cooler, but we're now kind of spoiled), everyone's windows (including the truck's) were rolled up. The lady acknowledged us, stopped her vehicle, as traffic began moving [she was now holding up traffic] and then proceeded to drive. After she caught up with us, she pulled into a parking lot.

Stacy sat up in her seat (yes... she was wearing a safety belt!) and watched, as traffic inched again. She turned back around with a look of disbelief on her face. "OMG!" she said. "What?" I asked her. "She locked in keys in the car!" Hmmm... should we go back and let her use the cell phone? Stacy told me she probably has a cell phone. I reminded her that if the woman locked her keys in the car, and her wallet was on the bumper, she probably left the cell phone in the car! YIKES! I quickly asked Stacy if there were other people and cars in the parking lot, to which she replied, "Yes." Thank goodness! I would let someone else handle it.

You see... even though I try to do good, chances are... that lady would have been very angry and placed her anger on me. As it were, the wallet had appeared to be staying complacently on her rear bumper, and had I not made a big deal out of it, she probably wouldn't have pulled over, gotten out of her car, left the car running, and automatically locked her keys in. It's all my fault! LOL!

Actually, it was rather comical. Stacy even felt bad. Rey thought it was hilarious and would only "happen to you, Mom!" Gee thanks!

A couple of weeks ago, we were coming back from somewhere. It was dark. The neighbor's front door was wide open. There were no cars in the driveway and no lights on in the house. Complete darkness.

I tried to call the house number, but had the wrong number. I tried to call the cell, but had the wrong number there, too. So, I walked quickly up to the Head of the Neighborhood Watch and told him the situation. He rushed down, did not go in, but called from the walkway... No one answered. So he called the police.

The police quickly arrived (a miracle here... I guess they really have upped the amount on the force!) with 5 patrol cars. They walked up, flashlights in hand. After a couple of minutes, an angry person came out of the house, talking on the phone. It was the niece of the neighbor.

She was very angry with me and informed me she did not like police. I explained, which I shouldn't have had to... The front door was open, no cars were around, no one was answering. She told me she had been home all day, that her car was in the garage, that the air conditioning was broken... I told her there have been a number of break-ins and I would never have forgiven myself if the house was empty and I didn't do something about my neighbor's house.

"Whatever!" she told me and called me a list of names. Ummm... hello! Does she not know there are windows and back doors to open? (None of which were opened, so I'm not sure I believe her...)

When the neighbor came back, I talked to her about it. Her niece had never mentioned me, but did mention the police incident, telling her that she was "asleep" when they came in. Hmm... uh, you sleep with the front door open? Yeah right!

Like I said, things often backfire on me... lol! Sometimes it's funny (like with the little old lady... Hey! I'm not being mean. I'm sure she got help right away). And sometimes it's anger-inducing. But eventually, things end up fine... I hope...

Well, that's my bit for yesterday (a day late)... I was WAY too tired from over 4 hours of traffic-driving... Toodles for now! lisa

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Little Lipgloss and a Lost Friend Found

I love the digital camera! You can waste a ton of shots and still never get the right picture! Remarkably, every time I think I have the right timing on the delay, the battery seems to go low and take forever or something else happens. Whatever! Technology will continue to advance, and take us with it. Thank goodness, though we can "waste" all of those shots, as we really might find a good one in there... somewhere...

And so as I did my normal Thursday stuff (laundry day... isn't that fun?!), little Miss Marissa wanted to wash her hands. Now, this is really ok, as I've discovered I'm raising a really clean kid. She may not want to potty train (bummer... I HATE DIAPERS!!!), but she wants her hands clean at all times, even in the middle of a meal. And God forbid, she should get her shirt wet or dirty! Gotta get that kid clean. It can be funny but also quite trying.

I looked at her hands to find all of this pink "stuff" on her. It smelled pretty good, too! Yummy, kind of like a berry. My gosh! It smelled like lipgloss! You know... the kind you used to eat (lick it off your lips or eat it right from the tube) when either you or your sister [if you're a guy] got some in your stocking from Santa... usually came in a clear candy-cane tube... usually labelled as "Bonne Belle" or "Coca-Cola" (my fave!) and now comes in such wonderful flavors (I mean scents) such as Chocolate-covered Twinkies and other yummy sugary delights. Come on! You know you liked it, too! I still do. My older girls have started with the yummy stuff, and I see them whipping it out much too often... you know it didn't "wear" off in that short amount of time!

Hmm... maybe I should try that for a weight-loss method! I could taste the sweets without the calories! Yeah! I should patent that intellectual property right now!

Back to Miss Marissa... I sweetly asked her where she got it. She sweetly and excitedly told me from a bracelet, and pointed to her arm. I looked at her wrist and there it was... a Dora the Explorer bracelet, with the watch face twisted slightly to show a compartment containing... you guessed it!.. lipgloss! The stuff was pink and pretty, but really light, so I'm not sure you can see it in the picture. But here goes! Yeah, it looks like you can see it... I wonder if that one tastes as good as it smells! I'm guessing it is strawberry. As she was smacking her lips, saying, "MMM... mmm... Yum, yum." And she likes strawberries. I guess she gets the "make-up gene" from her sisters, because I don't think I have it! (Although I think I did when I was a teenager...)

I spent some more time answering an e-mail that was sent to me from a friend I thought I'd lost some time ago. Every once in a while, I check out the reunion-type websites and try to look for old friends. It is basically a curiosity thing. Well, out of the blue, someone e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago, slapping my hand for not signing their guestbook! OMG! Someone actually knew I had been there! But hey! That's ok. It was someone I actually missed dearly from my youth. So those are the kind of benefits you get from a paid subscription. I never paid for them, as I guess I had never figured they were worth it. Well, from a paid subscription, my lost friend found gets to view all of those who visited her profile! I'm glad she did. Now we are back in touch and maybe someday, I'll finally get to see her! (Although she still looks the same in her photos! You go, girl!) I think I overwrote her, and she may never reply again (sigh...). But I hope she will!

I checked my veggie garden. The squirrels are still there and having a blast. In the past few days, they have dug a space between the soil and the fencing, leaving an easy escape for them should I come into view. They can scamper to the neighbor's yard. Stupid things! I swear I'm going to fix them when I take everything out this year.

The plants are lush and green and filling the space nicely. You would never know I didn't get much from them this year. The squirrels had a nice feast. I'm sure every day is Thanksgiving to them. My PETA friends should be happy I am feeding the squirrels, every mangy-looking one of them.

Have you ever seen a California Ground Squirrel? They are not the cute, fluffy-tailed things of the cartoons or stuffed at the museums. They literally look like what they are... rodents. They behave in much the same manner as other rodents do. These squirrels fight off each other when rushing for food. They have scarred and half-eaten tails and look fairly ugly. They are not afraid of humans. I have been eating at the breakfast nook in my kitchen while one of them jumped and attached itself to the screen on the window, looking right at me! They like to get into the cans, the trash, and anything else you may leave outside. Not only do they destroy my vegetables, they also like to dig in my other flower beds and the lawn, killing precious plants. I have a new-found dislike in life. I don't like squirrels. Hopefully, with all of the "natural remedies" I'm planning on saturating my soil with this fall, the squirrels won't be returning to my garden in the spring.

Don't forget to check out the stuff I find interesting (to your right... no... up a little... yes, and almost all the way down...). Oh, and if you subscribe, this system will let you know when I've added a post... Have a fantastic night. Toodles for now! lisa

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Little Princesses are Busy Today

With a little 2-year-old who seems to want to dress and undress every other minute, it's hard to get anything done. Yes, she is cute. Yes, I am fortunate to have a healthy beautiful child who loves me. Yes, I'm going NUTSO!

She is my little architect. She loves blocks, she keeps building houses and castles with them. But, like most children, she doesn't want to do the cleanup, and she destroys what she's built with a wild imagination! (Her favorite "voice" to use is a deep-sounding monster.)

The early mornings are spent taking the elder princesses to school. They go to two different schools this year, which can be quite trying in the traffic of the morning. (It seems fellow drivers of mine seem to forget politeness and respect while on the road. Mind you, I am always polite and always right! LOL!!!) But, nonetheless, Stacy (and the girls' friend, Cassie) get to the high school (yes, she is NOW that old!) somewhere between 7:30 and 7:48am, depending on if we ran "late" or not... and Rey gets to the middle school before 8am. The schools are right next to each other, with access to the building SUPER far apart, and single lane two-way streets with gobs of drivers... YIKES!

Princess Stacy is a full-blown Freshman this year and takes FOREVER to get ready. She is thrilled to get to (finally) wear make-up, although I don't allow "too" much. She is taking AVID (Avenues Via Independent Determination) - check it out at http://www.avidonline.org/! This is SO great for kids and teaches them lots of things they don't seem to learn in school anymore. With the always changing state standards, it is hard for the teachers to teach the eternally important items such as note-taking, organization, test-taking strategies and the like. She will also be on the swim team and is currently contemplating water polo. She is still attending Sylvan Learning Center (http://tutoring.sylvanlearning.com/centers/92557/programs.cfm) and continues to grow (mentally, not physically... she is still "short!").

Princess Rey is a "Rule-the-School" eighth-grader this year and can't wait to join the high school next year. She applied for the Peer Mediation Program and was accepted. Hopefully, she will give excellent advice and help other kids solve problems with each other. She continues to be enrolled in GATE (Gifted and Talented Education). She is a little bit peeved, due to her sister gets to wear the make-up, and she doesn't...

They both still swim with MVAQ (Moreno Valley Aquatics, http://www.mvaq.com/), enjoy scrapbooking, and enjoy antagonising their baby sister and basically driving me crazy! But no one wants to hear that, now... or do they? Hmmmm....

So, there's a quick update on the goings on here... I'll give you more later...

I'm back to finishing a couple of sewing projects before I start on the girls' (and Jake's) costumes. I am working on a tote for a friend that donated all of her old jeans to me to make purses and totes out of... Here's a pic of a purse I made for a birthday recently.
Stacy and Rey are planning on being "vampire fairies" (very original, and their idea!), while Marissa and Jake (my nephew) are going to be Raggedy-Ann & Raggedy-Andy. They should all turn out cute! I'll do pics, but you'll have to wait!
And hey, check out the stuff in the margins! I've been trying to add more stuff, including a poll (very generic for now)... Toodles for now! lisa

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Museum of Natural History - the day before Sunday

Early Saturday morning, we drove away from another hot one in the Inland Empire. The sun was already a blazing 82 as we left the valley. It was much cooler the further we got.

We finally reached our destination of Exposition Park in Los Angeles, with a couple of detours and lots of traffic surrounding the park. Unknown to us, we would have to park a hike away from the Museum of Natural History amidst the party-goers and tail-gaters of the USC community and alumni.

As we waited in the long line of cars waiting to park (who knows why there was only ONE cashier collecting money and guiding vehicles...), I spotted a dude with a cool, home-made hat! Do you drink Bud Light? (I don't.) Anyway, I thought it was cute and got a pic!

Hey! Those people are serious partiers! I could not count how many pop-up tens and canopies there were. Everyone congregates together. There were buffets set up under tents of individual groups, with generators going, crockpots, microwaves and televisions. I wonder how many of these people actually had tickets to the game... To think they would have to pack up everything and not worry about theft before going to the game... Hmm...

Anyway, back to the Museum. And so we parked and walked to the museum. Down we went to the basement (had to use the ramps, you know... strollers), where the less-traveled entrance seems to be... and entered a really cool area where insects, spiders, and a touchy-feely exhibit of bones and stuff is on display for the kids to touch and feel. Great area. The kids loved it. I did, too. (It gave me a fresher look at our turtle's environment. I think I'm going to do some redecorating in my turtle tank!)

Then we went back outside, through the main entrance (lots of steps and a HUGE ramp, going through "party central"). On the lawn of the museum was the "Butterfly Pavilion"- the reason we came that day. The exhibit was due to close that weekend. My mom and her hubby were nice enough to treat us to a day to enjoy the wonders of the butterfly world and all that the museum has to offer.
Ms. Marissa was mystified as she entered. I couldn't get enough cute pics of her... She often tried to hold her hands out to get the butterflies to land on her, but they wouldn't. She got awfully close to them, so close she could breathe on them. Her wonderful smile and delighted face were worth it.

Stacy and Rey were having fun, too. They found all of the dead butterflies, spider webs and spiders. (They are looking forward to the new exhibit, coming at the end of September... Spider Pavilion... then the Haunted Museum at the end of October...)

Jake (my nephew) is always happy. There is nothing that doesn't make this little tiny thing happy. (His laugh makes us laugh, too... it's so cute!!!)

We went through other portions of the museum, too. Marissa had to scream, "Sharptooth!" just to add dramatic affect to the dinosaur bones exhibit. And, she had to see the elephant exhibit a couple of times. We finally told her we would come back again, otherwise she wouldn't leave the museum. Those were her favorites.

This photo was taken as we left, directly outside the museum. It was a hard pic to take. Two teenagers, who wanted to do gross things while taking the pic (Rey kept trying to put her finger up the statue's nose...) and two toddlers that want to walk off make it a hard picture to get. Got the best that I could.

All in all, it was a wonderful day, and all of the kids had a good time... so did my mom and I! Thanks, Mom and John for a wonderful opportunity. We hope to go again soon! There is so much more to see!

For more information on the Museum of Natural History, visit http://www.nhm.org/ for updates on exhibits, information or membership. Also, to see our heartfelt thanks to Mom (Grandma) & John (Grandpa), visit this link: http://www.smilebox.com/playBlog/4d5445334e446b794e413d3d0d0a

Toodles for now! lisa

Fresh Start (again) Anyone?

OK... here we go again. Sometimes, you get caught up in the business of things and other things slip right by you. This is going to be a week of starting over...

So... I've sent some of you my digi-scrapbook pages from Sunday (hoped you like it... if you haven't seen your e-mail or didn't get one, check it out at http://www.smilebox.com/playBlog/4d5445334d546b344f513d3d0d0a) Enjoy the photos and the fun!

We went to the OC! It wasn't like on TV or in the movies... we stayed away from the pier, where it was TOTALLY chaotic (extreme sports contests and other Labor Day weekend fare were there). We secluded ourselves between Tower 10 and 11, and got there REALLY early! Our hot butts were out the door before 7:30am on Sunday! Yikes!

Miss Marissa was wild about it! She kept running around in circles, having a good time. We built sandcastles and made sand angels (no I didn't get pics of all that... didn't think to bring out the camera until later!). She tuckered her little self out, so she fell asleep in my arms around 7pm. What a day!

And while she slept, the rest of our group, minus the Kahuna (Juan), dug a LARGE hole. Everyone took turns getting in and taking pics, then the Jr. Kahuna (Junior... lol!), wrapped himself up, mummy-style and jumped in! The beach bums (Jolene & Ariel, Efren & Diana, Stacy and Rey-Rey) buried him alive (pics are in the scrapbook link)! He finally couldn't take the pressure of the weight and the wet sand... Breathe, Jr., Breathe!

Anyway... we closed the beach and moved on out... back to 110 degree weather in the Inland Empire.

Yesterday, it was cooler, but still hot! I have lots to show you from our trip to the Museum of Natural History on Saturday... the Butterfly Pavilion was beautiful... until later... lisa

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Flying Times

Sunday night went too quickly. I guess with everything that happened this weekend, we were all exhausted. Sleep was nice. I fell asleep during Desperate Housewives and woke up for the last 10 minutes of Brothers & Sisters, so I can't tell you what happened, but you are more than welcome to fill me in, as I didn't tape it. Ugh!

Monday went quickly, too. Dropped the girls off in the morning with Stac thinkin' she was "oh so cute" in her new grey cord jacket (a find this weekend!). With the girls in school, and trying to get the dial-up to go quicker, I lost track of the morning. Buh-bye! Not sure what Miss Mo and I did, but hey! The time was certainly gone!

Oh yeah! Me, DH and Miss Mo went to McD's for lunch, so she could "play". That was fun, then off to Home Depot (one of my favorite stores)! However, we did not purchase anything. I went looking for other lavenders that I may not have, which they had none. And DH wanted to buy gopher traps, saying they would catch everything, included our family of squirrels. However, he told me I would be removing the little critters from the traps, to which I had to decline. So we left. I know he was trying to do well, but I didn't want to take care of that mess, especially since when I am usually out in the yard, Miss Mo is with me, too. Oh well. C'est la vie!

But the afternoon was spent talking to a good friend and scrapbooking. Then off to pick up the girls. Food, baths, then Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelor (again I taped Drive... still haven't seen the 1st 2 episodes).

Dancing - don't know who's going home, but they all looked like they had a great time, especially with the group dance. Wish I was able to have that kind of fun, but I can't dance like that!

The Bachelor - Thank goodness Stephanie, South Carolina is finally gone. She was absolutely the most conceited person there and kept talking smack and thinking she was the only one with a "connection". Whatever. Good riddance.

Today was quite fun. Home Town Buffet is great for a kid who you never know what they are going to eat. Today Miss Mo picked Jello and chicken. I think she ate the cheese off the pizza and some plain spaghetti noodles, too. But the chocolate milk and the ice cream were her faves. She asked to go "home", which really means she just wants to leave. And so, we left, then she asked to go "this way", and then started yelling for Mickey and Minnie. OK... she thinks that "Minnie's House" is the Disney Store. So... guess where we went! But we got out of there for less than what I thought we would. They have a great sale going on. Lots of character shirts (including adult sizes) are $4.99. Lots of things are $4.99!!!! So GO!!! Then I went on with my regular day... pick up kids, tutoring, swimming... lucky me, I got home and DH wanted Papa John's! So, I don't have to cook! Hmmm... is this a sign??? Gotta go! Doorbell's ringing!

Toodles for now! lisa

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Busy Weekend

Friday night was fun! I went through more stuff to get more stuff to put in the MVAQ Fundraiser Yard Sale. I just had so much to give!!!
Also, on Friday, I started writing for Helium.com. They actually have some really interesting articles in there, some are done by great writers and some not. One of the wonderful things about it is articles are rated by fellow writers. You can win their weekly contests, based on the votes. So, if you would like to write, as well, please contact me, and I will send you an invite, as if you are "invited" by another writer, the writer gets moolah, as well. Either comment me or send me an e-mail. And thank you for doing that.

Went to bed really late, because I had so much to do. But, Saturday morning came (and SO early!)...

Up by 5:30 (early to me!). Snacks were packed, as well as swim bags, in case we didn't have time to come home. A great friend of mine showed up with her truck and we loaded it, and my van with stuff from my garage. Then off - to the Fundraiser.
I think we did really good recruiting. Remember if you'd like to join, just let me know. Or, you could also visit our website at http://www.mvaq.com/! It's a pretty good one, too. Kudos to Rick!

We did good selling, as well. On this day, we earned $250... not bad for donated items. Thank you to all that donated. I very much appreciate you all as friends.

Then, we were off! To the University of Redlands for the "BREAK OUT! Swim Clinic" sponsored by Mutual of Omaha that our Eastern Division Section of SCS hosted. This was really great. The kids all got to meet and get coached by an Olympic Gold Medalist, Josh Davis and his crew of excellent athletes, also Olympic Team members. (They weren't too bad on the eyes, either...)
The kids learned some really great techniques and were very inspired by the life stories the 3-some told. I'm sure it was fun to "race" the Olympians, as well. There were at least 300 kids there for the morning session (aged 4 - 11) and about the same amount for the afternoon session (12 an up).

Josh was awesome, at least I think so. However, I did disagree with some things. He is very faith-based, so his talk of Jesus, the Bible and One True God, didn't bother me. I'm not so sure his non-political correctness was great for all kids, though. He also had a slight "sex" talk with the older kids, informing them of STDs, trying to keep them more towards abstinence, so they could set goals and keep being focused. Yikes! My kids have already had the talk, except for Miss Mo, so it wasn't all that bad, but I certainly did not expect this. It also was not necessarily great to have this topic on a co-ed level. I'm not sure other parents were too happy about it. Josh gave us a "parent" talk before the afternoon clinic (together with the morning session's parents), but did not warn us of this topic to be discussed. Also, reading the literature that was passed out, I very much disagree with the idea to give children supplements to their diets. My kids' pediatrician would disagree, as well. But then at the same time, I'm not sure if all kids eat as nutritiously as mine do. But, I would think based on his literature, Josh does... so why the supplements? You can check out his website at http://www.joshdavis.com/.

Overall, the kids had a blast and were well-coached and inspired in a way "just" a coach or "just" a parent can't. Every kid needs a hero or someone who has been there. Josh and his team certainly delivered. It was a very worthwhile day for all.

I got some really great pics with my new camera... but... I'm only sharing one here, until I figure out how to load more into one blog post. If any of you out there can help... PLEASE! let me know. Thanks.

DSS was picked up that morning and ate dinner with us. But since I really wasn't home, I didn't get much visiting time, only the dinner talk where he told me the latest on his high school marching band. He's a pretty good drummer. Not at all bad for just learning at the beginning of high school. He made section leader this year and was also chosen for All District! Congrats!

DSD did not come, but was originally supposed to, as she called LATE Friday night and told her pops she "forgot" she had a party to go to. At 11:30 at night, she should've thought of that before. My poor DH misses his kids but doesn't want to be the bad guy in telling them the courteous thing to do. And she wonders why Miss Mo runs to the other girls when she comes. It's almost as if the SDS forgets about this family over here. I no longer worry about it and don't plan things around them anymore. It just stresses me out or upsets me to no end, so I do the best thing for me and my other daughters. Sorry.

Today was early, but not as bad. 5:30 for packing lunch DH, getting ready for Church, and getting ready to work the Fundraiser Yard Sale again. And off we went again!

Really nothing big happened... but, we did sell $50 more today, for a total of $300. Go, MVAQ! There were really good times between good friends. You really must think about joining our team (if you are local), as we all get along really well, and so do our kids. We even offer adult lap swimming, for those of you who are not competitive...

DH came back home as he found out he was awarded the rest of the week off. YEAH! I'll try to keep up the writing... we'll see. This week may be a little tougher. No promises...

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday! Toodles! lisa