Sunday, August 31, 2008

Online Surveys & Offers

My Vindale Research account had enough verified surveys in it to request a $50 check. Since my paypal account is messed up at the moment I requested a paper check - no matter, it's just going to go against my debt anyway.

In my efforts to find alternate sources of income a friend referred me to this blog regarding making money through online offers. I have a few questions for the moderator of the blog before I get started but am pretty excited about the possibilities.

The main reason for doing online surveys and offers for me is to accelerate our debt reduction plan.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The 24 Hours of Christmas

For the last several years I have struggled with the 24 hours of Christmas. This time frame was decided by my husbands parenting plan with his ex wife. Every year flip flops between which week we have the kids - Christmas week or New Years week. However, we ALWAYS have the kids noon Christmas eve to noon Christmas day.

In the past Christmas eve would start with going to my parents house for dinner, church (once it was midnight mass) and opening gifts then get home at some ungodly hour only to wake up at the crack of dawn to celebrate with my husbands parents and grandparents. We would rush gift opening and breakfast so we could meet our obligation to get the kids to their mom by noon. That is a lot to get accomplished in 24 hours.

Never once did hubby and I stop to figure out what our holiday traditions would look like. We were always focused on being as equal as possible to both sides of the family without rocking the boat. We thought that was how you were supposed to do it. It made us unhappy and stressed out every year. We always came the the conclusion that if we lived in a different state it would be easier. Or wouldn't it be fun to go to a cabin in the woods without cable and ski the entire time?

The things we despised about the holiday eventually became the focus of the holiday. We were no longer enjoying the holiday as we wanted to. My in laws always over spend. My parents, although debt free and frugal are misers when it comes to their time and how they think things should run. It's tradition really has become equated to a four letter word for us.

Enter the holiday season of 2008. Hubby and I have been talking about how we want to handle the 24 hours of Christmas. We have come to the same conclusion about what we like about the holiday and what we don't like. Spending time with my family opening gifts and passing around the communal Whitman's sampler Christmas eve. Waking up Christmas morning to spend time with the kids as they open their presents and we all have breakfast at the table together. After the kids are dropped off hubby and I see one (or three) movies and go out to eat.

This year we are getting back to basics and celebrating the way we want to. We hope not to offend our respective families and we plan not to overspend. I would like to make some hand crafted gifts as well. Maybe we will even discover some new traditions.

For today though - I'm going to go watch the Cougar's play Oaklahoma.

Go cougs!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How Cool Is This?

My friend had her third baby yesterday at the wee hours of the morning. After having two girls she was blessed with a baby boy. He has a kick-ass name Atticus Benjamin. Maybe he will grow up to be a Olympic athlete?

Attica is the region of Greece which contains Athens, the capital city. Today, the name is mainly known from the character Atticus Finch in Harper Lee's novel 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Atticus was also the name of a number of ancient Greek philosophers and writers; it was also the name of an early Archbishop of Constantinople. Atticus recently broke into the 1000 most popular names in the US, and was ranked 767th in 2006.

Benjamin is the anglicized form of the Hebrew Binyamin. In the Old Testament, Benjamin was the twelfth and youngest son of Jacob. Benjamin was the 24th most popular boy's name in the US in 2006, and the 11th most popular in the UK.

I totally love it but of course I love anything that isn't too main stream.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Year

Even though January 1st is considered the turn of the new calendar year, I have always felt that September 1st is the new year for me. As the hot weather winds down in to Indian Summer and kids go back to school I refocus on what is important to me and what my goals are.

I still want to lose weight and am following the weight watchers plan. I am trying to focus on getting my meals from whole foods (as in not processed) as best I can. Next month a PCC opens near me and I can't wait to try out some of their cooking classes! Ramping up my energy level with more consistent exercise as well as a form of meditation and increasing my water, fruit and veggie consumption rounds out my focus on better health.

Our finances are always on that list too. We have a debt reduction plan in place that we are working. We have a savings account too but the true focus right now is getting some major debt paid off - never to return again. This month was rather strange as hubby was paid three times, we were on vacation and we had some unexpected bills to pay. I recently found this blog on how to earn money from home and plan on checking that out this weekend when I have more free time. Anything extra I can bring in towards debt will just accelerate our plans.

Being more my authentice self. I found this great tool called the Johari Window that I plan on checking out. It has to do with your trust level and how you interact with others. Over the past several months we have had some family drama with my in laws. It has quieted down but unfortunately there has been no resolution with them. The ball is in their court I just have to learn to be patient.

Keeping up with the decluttering and not allowing new clutter in to our home is another focus. My house has really come a long way in that department. Some of the things we have gotten rid of were hard but we did it. Part of our clutter comes from files on the computer we don't need or can condense, emails we plan on getting back to reading or bills we pay for and don't use like the extended cable.

I'd really like to be a mindful gift giver this year. I personally feel hand crafted gifts are a true sense of the generosity of spirit the holidays are supposed to be about. I would love to make many knitted holiday gifts and plan to find the time to do that.

Hope you all had a wonderful day!

***Edit 8-29-08

I totally forgot something on my list! I really want to write the screenplay/book idea I have rattling around in my head. That is one of my projects for this weekend. To sit down and get my ideas on paper and even do some research and a rough outline.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saying Goodbye

My husband and I are working on getting our house decluttered. Trying to take a look at your items through fresh eyes to decide if you really need them or not seems easy. You have your criteria;

Is it functional for our CURRENT lifestyle? - No
Do I need to repair it in any way? - Yes
Could I repurpose it to work in our CURRENT lifestyle? - No

So why is it so hard to give stuff up? The toy chest pictured above my husband has had since he was a little kid. It's been used by his kids for the past fourteen years. Of those fourteen years the past two it's been used to pile stuff on top of (not in) it. Hubby decided it was time for it to find a new home where it would be used as it was intended. We thought about recovering the seat and fixing one of the hinges and then just decided to let it go "as is".

We posted it on Craigslist and a lovely woman came today and picked it up. It's for her autistic nephew. She plans to recover the top and fix the hinge and we hope he loves it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Friday

I have been waiting for the weekend since I woke up Monday morning - how pathetic is that? Although my days were filled and went by quickly, this week seems to have drug on forever.

What to do with the next two days stretched out before me? Hubby and I plan to research laptops, have some friends over for dinner and visit my new niece who is the ripe old age of two weeks old today.

Plus, I might just start getting the ideas that have been rambling around in my head down on paper for a screenplay. A treatment (outline) actually. I know where I want to go with my story and I'm pretty excited about it but I am not an expert on the subject matter and until recently it didn't interest me much.

Oh, and there is always knitting.....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fall Is In The Air

I love fall. I mean really love it. No matter how much I can't wait for summer when it's the dead of winter I love fall even more. The transition from summer to fall is one of my favorite times of year. School is starting, football season is around the corner (go Cougs!), leaves are turning, hand knits become a necessity. Snuggling under a blanket with a fire blazing, drinking a hot toddy and watching my three favorite Halloween gals the Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus. I also get to decorate and cozy up my house.

I only decorate my house from September to the end of December. Traditionally I get out fall colored stuff that is pretty organic so it serves a purpose from September through November. The walls of the main part of my house lend itself to fall. My kitchen is red, my dining room is olive green and currently my living room is a mocha color. I had considered painting it a muted squash color but am thinking of a darker brown than it currently is. My front door is really dark cause we are at the bottom of a stairwell so I used to "plant" silk flowers in a flower pot by my door as nothing else would stay alive. This year I want to get some corn stalks and put out my fake pumpkins (they last so much longer than real ones) to go with my scarecrow.

Last year I flirted with the idea of a Halloween tree. We have not found a tree yet but hope too soon. I don't have many ornaments but that is OK. A work in progress. My organic fall decorations just add to the Halloween elements hubby and I put out in October. Hubby LOVES Halloween. His birthday falls just a few short days before. Not certain yet what my costume will be this year but hubby has his all figured out.

Christmas this year I plan to have a theme tree. I have always wanted to do that. The colors are chocolate brown, olive green and peacock blue. I have brown and green Christmas balls and am still searching for the perfect blue. This weekend hubby and I plan on going to Leavenworth to hit the Kris Kringl store. We are in need of new stockings so I plan to hit the Labor days sales to see if I can score on some chocolate brown velvet. I also need to make my new niece a stocking so will search for fabrics for that as well.

What do you all do for the fall season?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

DMB - LeRoi Moore

LeRoi Moore was the saxophone player and a founding member for the Dave Matthews Band one of my absolute favorites. He passed away yesterday from complications as a result of an ATV accident in June. I have a wonderful concert memory of camping at the Gorge in George, WA to see them in the summer of 2001. The Gorge is a natural amphitheater overlooking the Columbia river in eastern Washington state. They have three scheduled concerts there next weekend which sadly I am not going to this year. To hear a sample of their unique sound you can listen to Crash Into Me from the album titled Crash.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bag Of Tricks

I started my Lady Eleanore wrap about this time last year. It took me a few tries to get going as I had only been knitting a year with a few completed projects under my belt. I bought 15 skeins of Noro Kureyon 100% wool self striping yarn. The color is 213 which includes greens ranging from chartreuse to hunter, blues ranging from steel to navy and some neutrals of grey, brown and black.

I completed two more rows last night which took me from 8:00 to 11:30. Part of the reason it took me 3 1/2 hours was because I had not knit on it in so long I needed to refresh my memory. I also have a smaller "test" version that I knit when I get stuck so I don't ruin my real one. Once I remember how the particular rows are worked it went rather quickly.

Right now it's length is approximately four feet which is comprised of a row of base triangles and 18 tiers which is 36 rows. I am just over half way done. I need to complete 16 more tiers and a final row of base triangles.

I first saw the wrap on Jen's blog and found another example at Fig & Plum. The pattern is in the book Scarf Style by Pam Allen editor of Interweave Knits. If you Google "Lady Eleanore Blogs" you will find tons of other examples of people who have made and are making this wrap.

Even the back of it looks cool.

I have not knitted on this thing since last winter and thought I would get it out last night and have a go. I would like to actually complete it so I can snuggle in it this winter as my office is notoriously cold.

I am undecided if I will add the fringe at the edges. Of the two examples I have linked to one did (Fig & Plum) and one did not (Jen) and I like it either way. Sometimes fringe and I do not get along - it could be a hazard at work and get caught in the wheels of my desk chair.

Take the poll at the top of my blog and tell me what you think regarding fringe - definitely a must have or dangerously feminine.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pasta Sauce

Several years ago when I was not working I was addicted to the Food Network and watched Giada De Laurentiis show Everyday Italian almost religiously.

One day she was talking about making homemade pasta sauce. She would throw some tomatoes, basil and garlic in her food processor and make up a big batch then freeze it in serving sizes for two. When she needed some pasta sauce she would take out a freezer bag and just reheat it on the stove.

I thought this was a great idea to save money. I could grow my own tomatoes (or buy bulk at Costco) and basil and make a batch of pasta sauce at low cost which I could reheat whever I wanted to throw over my favorite pasta. I knew all the ingredients that went in to it. I did not have a food processor at the time so I filed that away in the back of my mind for when I did.

Last night I tried to make this recipe from what I remembered from watching her show. It turned out OK - kind of watery but some of that could have been from the tortellini's. I threw three Roma tomatoes, two small garlic cloves and two leaves of basil in to the food processor, pureed it, then put it on the stove with a little Oive oil mixed in.

The result was a little too much garlic flavor for my taste and it needed to be either thicker or chunkier - or both.

Do any of you out there have a great quick homemade recipe for pasta sauce or suggestions for my attempt?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Discover U

So very bummed! There was this great organization called Discover U where you could take classes on literally anything you could possibly be interested in. They offered classes from Italian Cooking to Italian (as in the language), computer classes, how to write a book, how to learn HTML, seminars - you name it they offered it. You could probably even find a class on under water basket weaving if you were so interested.

After my walk this morning I was telling my friend about it and thought when I got home I would check out the site and look for a class I could take.

No dice - Discover U has closed it's doors. I am so beyond bummed about this!

Now I am back to square one. I really am interested in taking a class. I want to learn HTML basics and bought the Dummies Guide but really want to be in a practical learning environment to get immediate feedback from a teacher.

Guess I'll have to take a class at the local community college.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The "Kids"

Hubby and I have two "kids" that live with us full time and two kids that live with us on weekends. By "kids" I mean our dog and cat. Chris owned Galea (our cat) before I moved in with him. She's pretty vocal and let's you know when she wants something. Most of her days are spend stalking her kingdom in search of entertainment and food. Yes, we are allowed to live here because she can't get a job to feed and house herself. I think it's the whole opposable thumb thing.

When she is not stalking around the house, Galea loves to sleep in the garden window, the back of the couch, the foot of our bed or on the living room rug. She leaves her fur everywhere and I have even seen footprints across my dining tabe. Galea was found living in the backyard of our condo complex so Chris took her in. He's had her since she was a kitten and we think she's a combination of Tortoise Shell and Siamese.

Galea used to insist on drinking from the bathroom faucet every morning. If we didn't keep the glass shower door closed she would go in there and drink too.

BJ (short for Bon Jovi - he came with the name) has lived with us for a year and a half now. We found him through a wonderful organization called Animals In Need who are "dedicated to helping companion animals on the island of Puerto Rico and here in the state of Washington". In fact, BJ actually came from Puerto Rico and we think he's a mix of Miniature Pincher, Chihuahua and Manchester Terrier.

BJ has been a really fun addition to our family. His only trick is he can shake hand to paw with you. He LOVES the snow and HATES the rain. He even makes an effort to avoid puddles. The cat has finally started to warm up to him.

BJ's favorite place to hang out is anywhere near either my hubby or I. If we are not around the house or doing something he will curl up in the corner of the couch.

Pet's are one of the greatest things to have around. They can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and of course feelings of loneliness. They can increase your opportunities for outdoor exercise and socializing. We only wish we could adopt more.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Update on Window

I had posted previously about what to do with a stained glass window that had been sitting in my bathroom leaning against the wall for several years. Although I really like it I could not think of anything I could do with it in the more than month since then. I decided to give it to my father in law who is a glass blower. He placed it over the air conditioning unit in his house.

I think it looks nice with light shining through it. My FIL said he would think of me every time he saw it. (He also said if I ever wanted it back consider him just renting it).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Omak Stampede

Last weekend we were in Omak which is located in North Central Washington. Chris biological father lives in an old church about eight miles north of Omak in Riverside. His girlfriend lives in the original Omak hotel (The Paperboys band wrote a song about it) and she runs the Breadline Cafe. Below a photo of the Hotel.

Chris dad is a glass blower and half of his church is his studio.

Above is a shot of the sign for his glass studio. Below is a shot of the bell tower at the church.

Last weekend was the 75th anniversary of the Omak Stampede and Suicide Race. The Stampede is a rodeo, fair and Native American pow-wow (some of the fair grounds are on Colville Indian Reservation land). We watched native dancers inside the teepee's and ate yummy Indian tacos.

The Suicide Race started in the 1930's as a publicity stunt and the brain child of Clair Pentz to draw interest to the annual Omak rodeo. Horses and riders numbering around twelve at a time have a 100 yards to run and then race down a 225 foot hill at a 62 degree angle. They cross the Okanogan River and end up in the stadium. From the sound of the starter gun to the end it's over within a couple minutes. Below is a shot of the hill from across the river. This particular race was ran at 9:30 Saturday night.

The race traces it's roots to Native American endurance races. The building in the photo above is a pump house and the local EMT's stand in front of it in the event of an injury. Just above the pump house you can see a fence that travels the length of the hill. To the left (as you are facing it) people are allowed to line up and watch the race. Below is a look from the top of Suicide Hill looking down on the Okanogan River.

Here you can see horses and riders charging over the hill.

We watched a qualifying run the weekend before during the day. Below you can see just how steep the hill is.
Horses and riders as they are entering the river. If you look closely enough you can see some of the horses have no riders. Don't worry - no one was hurt - just disqualified.

Below you can see the Okanogan river as it curves through town and the stadium the riders end up in. Just beyond the trees at the bend of the river (and across it) is Paula's Hotel where we stay when we visit.
This race has been featured in a 1966 Disney film called "Run Appaloosa Run".

Sunday morning we had a private party at Paula's restaurant to watch the parade. There were very large Steer.
A pipe band (didn't catch their name and not certain of their tartan).

The One Armed Bandit. Yes that really is a man on a horse on a trailer pulled by an eighteen wheeler.

No parade is over without the Shriners.

Dressed in various costumes.

As for this next weekend. I think I'm going to lay low and chill out.

Monday, August 11, 2008


We ended up being able to visit my new niece last night on our way home from eastern Washington. She's so tiny! Much smaller than her big brother was as a new born. Here is Chris with her. She's Chilin.

I can't quite figure out who she looks like yet however, she definitely has her fathers toes. Not much to report except she is a healthy baby girl who loves to smile in her sleep.

Remember that movie The Wedding Singer with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore? I have had the name Julia Gulia running through my head all weekend....

Friday, August 8, 2008

I'm An Auntie

My sister had baby number two this morning at 8:08 am (yes on 8/8/08) which is also my mothers birthday and happened to be the time I looked at the clock this morning when I woke up.

Julia Rose Experience Hall has red hair like her big brother and from what I could hear over the phone quite a pair of lungs. Her first name is my brother in laws grandmothers middle name, her second name is my great aunts name and her third name believe it or not is found on many parts of my brother in laws family tree.

I'm out of town this weekend and will get to visit with my new niece this Monday. So, I have almost three days to knit her a pair of booties. Photos to come later!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Paula's "Secret Garden"

As promised here are shots of Paula's "Secret Garden". I only call it that because I always feel that way when I am in her backyard. Below is a photo of the path that leads from the back patio down the side of the house.

Paula's garden has evolved over the last twenty plus years she has lived in her house (which was really the original hotel in the town she lives in). It's evident in so many spaces. Brick under your feet turn in to cement and then stone. Just down the path is a place to sit and rest right near the gate to the hot tub.

Across the path is the Celtic knot work marking the door which leads to the Hawaiian room where hubby and I always stay when we are visiting. This is just off the sitting area pictured above.

Paula has tons of flowers and plants in her yard. Usually we visit in the summer and there is always Hollyhock, Gardenia, Peony, Clematis and Sunflowers blooming. One of my favorite spots in the garden is the outdoor eating area with this statue.

I want to give her a name but am not certain what that shall be. She seems really strong and at the same time very humble. One day I hope to have a garden like this.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love

I have been reading this amazing book; Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth gilbert. She spends four months each in Rome, Italy to discover pleasure through food, Mumbai, India to discover her authentic self and Bali, Indonesia to figure out how to harmonize those two things.

Her writing and some of her life experiences mirror mine in such a way as to really be inspiring and touching. I feel that I can use the Eat, Pray, Love mantra to govern my day to day life.

Eat - to nourish my body while at at the same time lose weight. I throughly enjoy foods from many cultures and would really like to learn how to make more culturally but not calorie rich dishes.

Pray - although I don't particularly like the word pray as it brings up certain connotations in regards to my Catholic upbringing I would like to change the meaning of the word to understand my authentic self. I would like to explore my understanding of a higher power and what it means to me.

Love - to hold dear the important people in my life and treat them with the ultimate in respect, compassion and trust. To let go of the "things" that get in the way of all of that but to not disregard the "things" that bring me pleasure or joy. To find a balance between mind, body and spirit.

I believe I have had a crisis of authentic self for most of my life starting in my teenage years. I associate my identity with others and don't really understand my true "authentic" self. Growing up I never really was allowed to use my true voice without fear of criticism from my parents. For the past several months I have been examining what I know about myself and others to really see what its all about and see if I still believe that way or what I can do to change things if I don't.

Last weekend hubby and I went to visit his biological father and girlfriend in eastern Washington. I always love going over there as I can relax and feel truly like myself. There is no judgment or criticism of me or the way I do things. There is always a welcoming feeling when we go over there. The kids are still there and Chris and I will go back over this coming Thursday for a long weekend.

It was so nice to not have a schedule and eat when I was hungry, sleep when I was tired, read in the garden or on the porch swing.

I wanted to leave you with a few photos of Paula's "secret" garden. However, I am having problems uploading. More tomorrow..........................