Thursday, July 31, 2008

At the risk of turning this blog into a food related one, I found this article to be of interest. You want to help cut down on fossil fuel consumption? Eat less. (Or maybe just eat more locally grown produce...)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Much ado about life

Sorry for the lack of postings. It's been a busy and strange few days. Last Wednesday we shipped the kids off to Indiana with their cousins. They made the trek down to Brownstown for the Jackson County Fair. While they were gone, Dave and I headed off to Utica and spent a couple of days bumming around Starved Rock and the surrounding area. Did you know that in the tiny little town of Utica there are four different places you can do wine tasting? Oh yes, we tried them all.

Now, I'm not one for hiking or spending time "enjoying nature" unless it's a sanitized Disney kind of nature experience, but I actually enjoyed hiking the trails at Starved Rock. The scenery isn't hugely spectacular, being in Illinois, but it was a pleasant day and the trails are not too strenuous. i guess it's good to "get away" once in a while and just relax.

What was stressful was returning home and realizing that I hadn't sent out birthday cards to my grandmother or my mother-in-law. I'm such a slouch about sending out birthday cards.

Let's see, then my parents came to town for a couple of days. This was the first really big trip for my Dad since his surgery and it was a little rough on him. Not horrible, but he was more tired than when they were at home, which made my Mother stressed, which made me stressed.

I went home early from work sick on Monday. I just felt miserable. Tuesday was a horrible day at work due to us making some big Internet changes that didn't go as smoothly as planned. But today was a good day at work, partly because I spent most of my day out of the building. I met with other area librarians who do marketing while some of what we talked about was old hat for me, I did come away with a renewed energy -- plus, I am going to lead an experiment in creativity at our next meeting. So I'm really looking forward to that.

Tonight I finished reading Weird ideas that work by Robert Sutton. This book lists things that companies can do to foster creativity and innovation. I'm anxious to try to implement some of the ideas, though I don't know how much I will really be able to do it. But this is a really great book and I think the ideas can apply to businesses of all kinds, not just big corporate business.

After posting this, I really should be off to bed, but I'll probably continue to sort though photos from our Disney trip in June, trying to decide which ones I want to print out for the scrapbook. I'm two Disney trips behind in my scrapbooking!! I've got to get going....

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bunco night

Last Friday night it was my turn to host Bunco night. It was just great! We had 14 people, so adding in Michelle, we had four tables! It was crazy, but a lot of fun.

I wanted to serve something a little different for snacks, so Thursday night I whipped up four different batches of herbed butter. I bought some traditional white French bread and a loaf of "birdseed" (whole grain) type bread and cut up the pieces to about cracker size and served them with the butters.

This is the butter with chives. (What was left of it Saturday morning.) Simply soften a stick of butter and mix in about 1/4 cup of fresh chopped chives. I used unsalted butter, but if I were to do this again, I would use salted butter.

Saturday morning I fried myself an egg in the leftover butter -- yummy!!

This one is parsley butter. I know, I know, it doesn't sound all that good, but I ended up really liking this one a lot.

Again, start with a softened stick of butter and add in about 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley. I used the "flat" parsley and also put in a splash of lemon juice. Mmmmm.

If I did this one again, I'd use real lemon zest. But I don't usually have lemons on hand, just the lemon juice stuff.

This one is a little blurry, but it's just dill. Acutally, it's dill with a little bit of garlic. Again, that might sound weird, but it's a lot of dill and just a little bit of garlic.

Again -- de-lish!!

I wasn't planning on making four different butters, but I figured, what the heck, I've got four sticks of butter. So what else did I have that I could mix in? Garlic? Check. Parmesan cheese? Check. Salt and pepper? Check.

That's it! You really can't add too much garlic or cheese, in my opinion.

I had bought the little ramekins back in May when Hannah had a cooking class in school. She used them to make creme brulee for her "final project". I didn't want to buy them, but they did come in handy. The butter was a big hit! People were impressed that I "made" the butter.

So if you're going to a dinner party, or just want to give your baked potato an inferiority complex, I highly recommend making some herbed butter. So easy and so delicious! If you make some, let me know what you used!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Stephanie is in Chicago! I can't believe I missed this. I watch WGN news every morning!

Remy goodness!

This is sooooo cute! I'm a huge fan of Remy!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer never tasted so good!

You know what tastes good that I didn't think I would like? Taco Bell's Mango Fruitista Freeze. You buy one, you take it home, you add rum, then sit back and enjoy!

You know what else is good? Get some Chi-Chi's brand premixed margarita, then add crushed ice, and a handful of freshly picked raspberries from the backyard. Blend until smooth. Yum. (This is also good with an extra shot of rum as well.)

Speaking of rum.. (why is the rum gone?)

We finally watched Pirates of the Caribbean: At world's end last night. So the trilogy is complete ... or is it? Hannah thought it was one of the greatest movies ever, (she mostly thought it was cool that a girl would be the pirate king) Dave got tired and didn't finish watching it (he said he'd catch the end later...) and I barely had a clue what was going on, so it was just eye candy for me.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Six Flags

I spent yesterday at Six Flags, Great America with my 10 year old. She had a free ticket for participating in a reading program during the school year, otherwise I would not even consider going to SFGA. We were a little concerned about the weather and, despite predictions of rain, we decided to carpe diem and just go.

It was a little chilly for my liking, but we started out at Hurricane Harbor, the water park that is part of SFGA now. Michelle wanted nothing more than to go to the wave pool. Unfortunately, the wave machine wasn't working. So we floated down the lazy river and tried a couple of the smaller slides. She refused to go on any slide that had even part of the slide completely enclosed. That didn't leave us with many options.

But after that, they did get the waves going again, thank goodness. We started to get both cold and hungry after a while and dried off and went in search of food. But first, we had to ride the Triple Play. I refer to this ride (as well as many other rides at SFGA) as the "spin and puke". Last year there were so many rides that made me nauseous. This year I took Dramamine before going, and I think that helped.

We spent the afternoon going on rides : the spin and puke, the whirl and hurl, the go around in circles and throw up, and the bumper cars. Michelle also refuses to go on any wooden roller coasters or any roller coasters that go upside down. That doesn't leave us with many options, either. At least she's old enough to ride alone when I can't handle the spinning anymore, and the park was not very crowded, so she never had to wait in line very long.

When we got too hot, we headed back to Hurricane Harbor for some more splashing in the water. About 6:30 pm we had had it. We dried off, rode the Triple Play one more time for good measure and headed home. After boldly proclaiming that she would not fall asleep on the ride home, it only took about 10 minutes for Michelle to fall asleep.

I was tired, but not that tired. The weird thing was that my feet were killing me! They hurt so bad, like I had pulled every muscle in them. I don't get it. I just walked around Disneyworld for a week -- much more walking than yesterday -- with no foot complaints. The only thing I can think of is all the walking we did in bare feet in the water park. But it didn't seem like it was that much walking.

We had a good trip despite my tendency to look down on SFGA after all the Disney visits. I think that SFGA has cleaned things up, though. There was not nearly as much garbage on the ground. The staff were generally much more friendly and helpful. The crowds even seemed to be more respectful of others, too. They have a long way to go in terms of food choices, though. You can't find a salad there to save your life. There were no fruit or vegetable options that I encountered. By the time we left, I was desperately hungry for something that wasn't going to clog my arteries.

SFGA will never, IMHO, be near the caliber of a Disney park. SFGA is about big thrill rides, high priced carnival games, and not much more. I felt a little sorry for the costumed characters. Nobody was stopping to take photos or even to say hello.

The highlight of the day was seeing Michelle's face light up every time the waves started up again in the wave pool. So it was worth it.

Monday, July 07, 2008

4th of July weekend

Friday morning the girls and I walked in the parade. I have a love/hate relationship with parades. I do enjoy a good parade, but good parades are few and far between. Somehow, over time I have gone from watching them to participating in them.

The Pros and Cons of watching a parade:

Free stuff
Civic pride
Fun to watch different groups
Sit back and relax

Annoying, pushy people around you
Finding a good spot to view parade
Big gaps between participants

The Pros and Cons of being in a parade:

Represent the group you are with
Make people smile
Able to control at least a portion of parade
Part of the show

Lining up early
Coming up with ideas for theme/float
Transportation to and from the beginning and end of parade

I was proud of our group this year for basically one reason. We had almost enough handouts (plastic finger puppets and candy) to last the entire length of the parade. I think if we had held back just a little bit more at the beginning we would have made it. We were probably only 50 feet or so from the end of the route when we ran out of items to pass out.

I feel bad for the people at the end of the parade route. By the end of the parade, most groups have run out of candy or whatever item they are passing out.

Next year, I think we need to have more than just people walking and carrying the big banner. We need to bring back the book cart drill team. I've never done a book cart drill team, though. Guess I should start planning now.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Closer - episode 2

I watched episode 2 of The Closer last night. I liked this episode better than the first, but either I was really tired when I watched it or I need to get my hearing checked. (Probably both.) There were more than a couple of lines of dialogue that I had to rewind and listen to again because I missed them the first time.

I was ticked off that I didn't figure out who the killer was, but that's just a pride thing. I'm frustrated that I can't remember any of the characters' names, but there's too many to learn right away. I'll keep working at it.

I enjoy the one detective on the show that actually is willing to work with Brenda. The one that offers to drive her around to interrogate suspects and finally make the arrest. I don't know what his name is.

The only thing I have a hard time buying into is how everyone that is in her department hates her so much. With the one exception above, they are so dead set against working with her, but they haven't even given her a chance. Maybe that's the way things really do work in a police department, though. I wouldn't know. I'm used to the passive-aggressive behavior of librarians.

I've still got the The Closer DVDs until July 24. Will post when I watch another episode.

Tonight, though, we're off to see the Flyers!

Stephanie Izard update

She's got her own blog!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Fun at the library

We've actually had some excitement this week. The technical services department is getting new cubicles. Yesterday was demolition day and today they are installing the new furniture. The noise coming from that room is making it hard for me to take a desperately needed nap.

My job was to move all the computers to the conference room as a temporary workspace for the employees during the installation. It involved a lot of crawling under desks to disconnect things followed by crawling under tables to set things up again. It was a good opportunity to dust things that hadn't been dusted in years. That's right ... in years.

Speaking of "in years", I was browsing through one of my flash drives, looking for a document for band, when I ran across something that brought back a lot of memories. I re-discovered:

The FPS Dicker.

Years ago, when I had access to plenty of free web hosts, I converted the Dicker into html and made it into it's own web site. I don't have any web server space now, but I do have the entire Dicker saved on to a flash drive. I browsed a few of the personal profiles and found that I just couldn't stop laughing at most of them. (Or laughing with them, I guess.)

I feel bad that I haven't watched any more episodes of The Closer. The weekend was just too hectic, and Monday night I had a piano gig, followed by a 2-hour flute practice session (it was awesome!). I admit, I could have watched it last night, but I was just being a bum. I played more My Sims on the Wii. I've got a 5-star town going, and I'm trying to max out all my town's interests without resorting to using a game faq.