Friday, February 29, 2008

My kinda of quiz (sorta)

Does this sound like me? From the results it looks like I am pretty firmly in the hazelnut camp ... Whatever ... LMK what YOU are.
What Kind of Chocolate Are You?
Your Result: Chocolate Hazelnut

Chocolate hazelnut is so pure and honest... just like you. You are one smart person, with a passion of helping others. We can always count on you to help us out, whether it's a math problem or just a bad day. Don't be afraid to steer away from your plain white tees and straight-cut jeans once in a while, though!

Milk Chocolate
Dark Chocolate
White Chocolate
Chocolate-Covered Fruit
What Kind of Chocolate Are You?
Quizzes for MySpace

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Introducing ...

The newest United States Citizen! My sister-in-law Mary became a citizen today. She is Irish, and has lived here for ... 25-26 (?) years and been married to my brother almost that long. Guess after all that time she decided it would stick.

The boys & I went to the ceremony, held in the US District Court Building in downtown St. Paul. The room was beautiful - it had draped white netting and lights, like for a wedding reception!

There were about 230 citizens-to-be in this ceremony, from either 37 or 47 different countries (I heard 47, Ben heard 37.) Mary was the only one from Ireland. Somali had the most, with 68, Vietnam and Mexico each had about 17 or 18, Liberia had maybe 14, and then all the rest of the nations had 10 or fewer. No Norwegians, Croatians, or Tanzanians!
Here all the candidates are swearing allegiance to the United States. The judge presiding spoke for a bit both before and after the swearing in. I really liked the message he gave, talking about how the United States is dependent on the diversity of many people from many cultures and that although they are swearing allegiance to the US, they should never, ever forget their homelands and all that they grew up with culturally, linguistically, and musically.

He ended with a John Wesley quote that is one of my favorites:

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
For all the people you can,
For as long as you can.

Then they had a video presentation set to the song Proud to be An American, with photos of the nation, its citizens, and its new citizens. It was incredibly moving; I stood in the back and cried.

I wanted to hug and congratulate and welcome each of the new citizens. I was, truly, proud to be an American.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


So bought the boys new socks at Target yesterday, washed them today.

A pack of 6 pair for each of them.

Carefully packaged in a resealable ziplock plastic bag.

Do people really take the socks out one pair at a time and then reseal the bag?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Taste this MORE than Twice

I just heard from my friend Missy, owner and creative genius behind Droolin' Moose, that she won an award this weekend at the Twin Cities Food & Wine Show ~ "Best Kept Secret" for New Products in 2008 !!!

I have shared the snack mix which bears the company name with many of you, raving about it, and now you have proof that my taste is of high quality, as the judges agreed with me.

You can order your own by calling Missy, go to their store in Bloomington, or just ask me to pick some up for you ... I'm heading over there this afternoon!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I didn't know...

There is a TV commercial on right now - I think it's for American Express - which is neither here nor there - and I saw it two or three times tonight while watching the Academy Awards (which made me think of Carla and Ann and the Oscar Party we had a few years back and who knows when we will have the next one where all 3 of us could be in the same room at the same time) - and I really liked the message.

It's a woman talking, and she says (this is the part I like):

I didn't know what I wanted to be,
but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to become.

That's me in a nutshell. Now, this woman ended up (quite by accident, if we are to believe the commercial) a fashion designer, perhaps you have heard of her, Diane von Furstenburg? And, being the impressionable type of individual I am, I actually looked at the clothing she was holding up in the commercial and thought "How cool would that be, to design clothing for women like ME who know nothing about fashion and don't even really like it?!" What does that say about my state of mind that I actually meant it, too?!

I don't know where I am going, but I do believe I am getting closer.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

She did it again ...

So, this morning the Knitting Queen and I, along with a third partner in crime, Lisajoan, went to a yarn shop. Again. This is becoming a nasty habit.

I was only going to buy a new circular needle, which I do actually need.
Instead I bought a book of patterns, and some yarn, and some other patterns ... this is not the exact photo of what I got, but it gives you an idea. It's felted bowls. Same technique as I used on my slippers and bags earlier, but now bowls. How cute is that?!?!
We'll see when I actually get any made ...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Some days ...

Every once in a while I look in the mirror and think WHO IS THAT WOMAN?

I am pretty busy right now in my life. Adjusting, even after a year, to living in the townhouse, to working a lot on several projects, on handing over volunteer and staff duties while still supporting a lot of the volunteers and staff at Peace House, working with the boys on their schooling, trying to stay caught up for my book clubs, knitting for my soul, keeping the dogs exercised, trying to watch my own weight and fitness level (though that's a pretty passive role. I just keep watching, wondering if it will ever change.)

So about 10 minutes ago I get an email. From the University of North Dakota. They are announcing a new distance learning Master's in Public Health program for nurses. The focus is community and public health. They work with you to find communities near you to work with in a professional setting. And I find myself as I am reading this email, thinking "Wow! This sounds really cool! I should learn more about this opportunity!"

Because apparently some portion of my brain thinks I could actually fit this in to my life about now.

?!?!?!?!? Yeah, a Master's in Public Health is JUST what I need to complete my life right now, don't 'cha think?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Next Big Thing

I'm actually salivating at the thought of knitting this sweater. It was designed by a Danish knitter named Ruth, and it will be a challenge to hold off buying the yarn until I am done with the half-dozen or so other projects I have going ... The pattern is available online for free. We should make it a group project and all do it together, except the Knitting Queen isn't allowed to start until the rest of us have already done half the sweater. Otherwise we just get discouraged.

New Tattoo

I am SO wanting another tattoo. Only problems are:

1. What should it be a picture (or design) of?

2. Where on my body should it go?

I'm taking suggestions!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Today's Political Report

A while back I wrote about the YouTube video for Barack Obama, Yes We Can.

Today my friend Diane directed me to the new YouTube video about McCain ... and I just had to post here about it, too.

On Carla's blog, she referred to me as a "proud democrat" who "takes the political process very seriously." And that is true, I guess, though I don't really consider myself an activist. But every once in a while I send out sweeping emails to everyone I know when an issue is near and dear to my heart. Most recently it's been gun control, and there actually is a new bill being considered in the Minnesota Legislature right now, and it's being referred to as the "Shoot First" bill. It's a bill which would make it easier for anyone to shoot first and ask questions later if they feel threatened in any way. Never mind that self-defense is already a stronghold in our legal system. Never mind that there are more gun deaths in our nation than any other. No, some people believe that we need more laws to protect people with guns who decide to shoot other people.

So, I am asking you to help me. Please. Contact your representatives and senators and tell them you do NOT want more freedom of gun use in our society today. Tell them to vote against Senate File 0446 and House File 498.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Man Made Card

My friend Helen just sent me this link (apparently today is a big You Tube day in my world.) Those of you who have known me for a while know I used to be a Stampin' UP! demonstrator, and I still enjoy making greeting cards with friends.

When I used to do my demonstrations, women would talk about their husbands and the lack of understanding they received at home ("isn't it just cheaper and easier to BUY a birthday card?") - men just didn't get it.

Well, this man does. Enjoy!

World's Fastest Knitter

While at the Knit Out on Saturday, I had a brush with fame! Sitting directly behind me was the World's Fastest Knitter - complete with her Guinness World Record Certificate to prove it. Miriam Tegels of the Netherlands came to Minnesota just for this event!

A local cameraman recorded her and put it on You Tube ... if you go watch the video, right at the moment she pulls out the certificate you hear a woman say "Look at that!"

That's ME :-)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yarn, Yarn, YARN

Well, yesterday I once again fell under the spell of the Knitting Queen as she convinced me to attend the Great Knit-Out at the Mall. And let me tell you, it took a lot of work to convince me. I think we wrangled over it for at least 4 seconds and one email exchange.

She actually was volunteering, teaching people to knit. Don't know that I have the patience to do that, but she did get an awfully nice thank-you goodie bag, so I may consider it next year.

I got some fun give-aways - patterns, a few skeins of yarn, some needles, a magazine. And we met a Knitting Author ... Kristin Nicholas, and we both bought her book, had her sign it, and announced we were now her groupies. I don't know what she thought of that ... and I guess two 40-something moms saying they are groupies to a knitter is kinda odd (scary?)! But what I came away with most is that people are weird. I have never met a knitter, one-on-one, that I didn't like. But boy, put them in a group and put that group in a line - and they turn nasty fast!

And the most bizarre thing about it is they stood in long (and I do mean L - O - N - G) lines for a VERY long time .... for nothing. The majority of booths were NOT giving away anything. Yet the people continued to stand in line and growl if you looked like you were looking at a booth over their shoulders without having done your time in the line. Quite by accident I ended up walking around the Mall THE WRONG WAY. I had no malicious intent, I was not trying to slip anyone a fast one. So I approached each booth facing the oncoming line, and I just. do. not. get. it.

Why they all chose to stand in line is beyond me.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A rough day

Good morning, all. I am having a hard time focusing this morning after reading about yet another school shooting. Each time I hear of this type of news I have feelings of fear, anger, shock, relief, and pretty much the same reactions as pretty much every other mom out there.

But this one hit a little closer to home. Remember how in the last post I said that one family was not in the group picture because they drove from northern Illinois? Well, Carolinda, the mom of that family, is a faculty member at Northern Illinois University - where the shootings occurred.

Carolinda and I have a shared history; we went to the same junior and senior high schools and while we were never close friends, we did know one another. Then later, in college, we lived in the same student cooperative, where again, we weren't close, but we share a lot of memories and have friends in common. We really enjoyed meeting up this week at the Dells, sharing what our lives are like now and reminiscing about the past.

Until a week ago I had never heard of Northern Illinois University. Now tragedy has struck, and I have a friend who is there.

So I'm having a bit of a rough day.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

People at the Dells

This is most of the group that went. We are here, waiting for the train to take us back to St. Paul. One family was from northern Illinois, so they drove - and thus are not in the station photo.

The train ride home was smooth and easy. The train ride there, however, was anything but. The train was scheduled to depart St. Paul at 7:50 AM, but the day before we heard that snowstorms out west had delayed its departure from Seattle, so we knew it was going to be a couple of hours late. We were not too disappointed with the thought of sleeping an hour or so later, so all was good.

We arrived at the station at 9:30 for the 9:55 departure ... at 9:54 they announced the train would be delayed another half hour. OK.

At 10:25 the train rolled in and the passengers leaving it were allowed off. We were not allowed on.

At 10:45 they announced a half-hour delay due to mechanical isssues. At 11:15 they announced another half-hour delay. At 11:20 one of our group volunteered to run to Subway, 2 blocks away, to get sandwiches for all us starving people. At 11:25 they announced immediate and rushed boarding for all passengers so that we could depart. At 11:26 we called the sandwich gopher and he rushed back, with 2 of the sandwiches in hand. Lucky Ben & Ty won the jackpot and got to eat.

At 11:45 we were still sitting at the station. At 12:00 the train moved. About 3 blocks. Then stopped again. We sat there for another 45 minutes. At 12:45 the train moved again. Backwards. Back to the station.

At 2:00 we finally departed for real. We SHOULD have arrived in the Dells around noon. Instead we got there about 7:30 PM. Tired. Hungry. BORED.

But once there, we checked in and hit the waterpark, and all was good.

Come back tomorrow for more pictures and stories!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Great Dells Adventure

The boys & I just returned from a whirlwind trip to the Wisconsin Dells ... a couple pics to whet your interest, and the rest of the story in a day or two!

We took the train from St. Paul to the Dells ... and that was an adventure all in itself! The station there was so cool, it was like stepping back in time.

(There is no one we know in this photo, it's just to give you an overview of our favorite part of the resort we stayed in.)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Why do people do this?

Recently for one of my jobs I was coordinating a group of high school students who were entering in a talent competition. There were clear rules about age, type of talent, and methods of performance. Very clear rules.

One mom asked me if we could bend the rules for her daughter. Asked me just 36 hours before the competition, too, mind you.

When I apologetically and sincerely replied that although I was pleased at her daughter's interest in our competition, we could not change the rules for her.

So the mother sent me a note saying I had missed something remarkable [by not letting her daughter compete] and that she truly felt sorry for me. And the attitude in the email was just plain snippy.

My first response was to laugh. Then I felt insulted, and wanted to write back to her and say not to waste her time feeling sorry for me, as I surely didn't need it. Then I wanted to add that I felt sorry for her daughter.

What I actually did was delete the email and chalk it up to life's experiences.

But it BUGS me. And obviously I am still thinking about it now, 8 hours later.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Man, I gotta get me a Coyote!

I love reading and looking at Daily Coyote - the pictures are wonderful and I daydream about the lives they are leading.

But today there was something new on that blog - this question:

Can I make a donation to you & Charlie & maybe even Eli?

And then this answer:

By popular demand, I bring you a Donate button. If people want to give me money for being alive, well, then I will let them. (Proceeds go to Charlie's happiness and safety; I still drive an '89 Ford with no power steering. At least it keeps me toned!)

Somehow I don't think daily pictures of a standard poodle would inspire people to send me money.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Prom Fiasco

This just in ... the Hollywood writers' strike is going to ruin Prom 2008.

How, you may ask?

Well, with the writers on strike, the awards ceremonies are in jeopardy. If the awards ceremonies don't happen, there is nothing to televise.

If there is nothing on television, the knock-off dress designers who each year fashion the season's prom selections off of the red carpet favorites have no inspiration.

If the knock-off designers have no inspiration, the young women preparing for the dance of the year then have absolutely nothing to purchase to wear.

You may think that the writers' strike is about television shows and Hollywood disputes, but this proves that it is affecting every family with a teenager in the entire nation. This tragedy is hurting every prom planner. This horrific situation could ruin the whole year for teenage girls.

They just don't realize the harm they are doing ....

Monday Morning Check-In

It's Monday. Another weekend over. Another list of plans which didn't go as planned. But it was a good weekend nonetheless ...

1. I cleaned. Not a ton, and really it was more putting things away than actual cleaning (no sponges were wet.) But it made such a difference in how I felt when I walked into the dining room to actually SEE the table, and to actually be able to sit in any of the 6 chairs that I wanted to.

2. I reconnected with a friend and we saw 27 Dresses. Chick-flick, romantic comedy, not gonna win any awards, but fun.

3. I continued a week of healthy eating and the dial on the scale moved a little more to the left :-)

4. I earned some money, working on a project for my Chicago client.

5. I bought yarn and knit a while ... total relaxation and food for my soul!

6. I took the dogs to the dog park. They have been so neglected lately between the extreme cold and my level of busy-ness, they have not had the opportunity to run and run and run for a few weeks. They loved it and my guilt was assuaged.

7. I bought milk. Seriously, this had been a problem for me lately, managing to get to the grocery store before running out and needing such basic staples as milk. So the fact that I remembered - and acted on it - before the boys came back from their dad's was pretty darn good!

Now for what I planned to do but didn't ...

1. Didn't get my financial stuff in order so that I can get my taxes done. (This was my #1 goal for the weekend. I made a small start.)

2. Didn't finish up a work project for a local client that is getting dangerously close to being delinquent (yuck).

3. Didn't change the sheets on the boys' beds. Oh well, they are kids.

4. Didn't excercise. But am continuing to pay my monthly fee to have the right to not exercise at the gym.

Well, 7 goods and 4 bads. Not a horrible ratio, I guess. And Good #3 has me happy this Monday morning!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Brief Political Foray

A friend just directed me to this YouTube video, created out of / inspired by Barack Obama's speeches.

I am still wavering a bit on which candidate I am backing, but this video was powerful - and I think the message may resonate with you regardless of your candidate and even party choice. I think it captures what the average American is saying in this pre-election period, no matter which candidate you think is best prepared to make it come about.

(and it also shows me how techno-savvy and young-voter-oriented Obama's campaign staff is...)

(and it indicates to me that I am old and out of it, as I only recognized FOR SURE one person and I *think* I knew who two more were ...)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Oh, just a normal Saturday .....

This is what two knitters do on a Saturday ... The Knitting Queen and I started at Depth of Field in Minneapolis, then went to the Yarn Cafe in Maplewood, then decided we needed to go to Coldwater Yarn in Excelsior.
Six projects later I came home.
This pile will turn in to a felted bag, 3 pair of socks, a baby cardigan and hat, and a baby blanket.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Where's the beef? In my basement!

Yesterday I bought 141 1/2 pounds of beef! Yup, you read that right.

A former neighbor emailed a while back with the offer to go in on the purchase of a cow. Her aunt and uncle have a farm, Prairie Horizons, and they sell their beef directly to hungry families.

The boys and I had our first pound of ground beef today for lunch, and it felt so good to be cooking and eating it. I talk the talk a lot about going organic, eating foods with less processing, eating more whole foods, and focusing attention on what I put into my body and my children's, but it's sometimes hard to be consistent with those intentions.

Now I can feel good that not only are we eating high-quality, non-chemically "enhanced" beef, but I also am so pleased to be supporting a local family-run farm. And with nearly 150 pounds of it in my freezer (that was a quarter cow, for those who are wondering) I won't have to buy any for a long time. I just sent an email to a neighbor farmer of these beef people, where I can get pork and chickens. I am excited at the prospect of not having to purchase any meat products from the grocery store!

My freezer is full and my heart is happy.

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