Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Our Scurvy Pirate



This is her best "Aarrgghh". She doesn't like wearing the eye patch, though.

Happy Haunting !

Iowa Taxman chooses Trick over Treat



DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- The taxman in Iowa is going after jack-o'-lanterns this Halloween.

Most pumpkins are used as decorations, making them taxable, Iowa has ruled.

The new department policy was implemented after officials decided that pumpkins are used primarily for Halloween decorations, not food, and should be taxed, said Renee Mulvey, the department's spokeswoman.

"We made the change because we wanted the sales tax law to match what we thought the predominant use was," Mulvey said. "We thought the predominant use was for decorations or jack-o'-lanterns."

Previously, pumpkins had been considered an edible squash and exempted from the tax. The department ruled this year that pumpkins are taxable -- with some exceptions -- if they are advertised for use as jack-'o-lanterns or decorations.

Iowans planning to eat pumpkins can still get a tax exemption if they fill out a form.

The new policy, published in the department's September newsletter, has some pumpkin farmers feeling tricked this Halloween. "I don't mind paying taxes, but let's get real here, people," said Bob Kautz, owner of the Buffalo Pumpkin Patch in Buffalo, just west of Davenport.


Fill out a form to eat a pumpkin? Nothing would be sillier.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Did You Know...?



...that Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.

The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,446 pounds.

Pumpkins are fruit. They are 90 percent water and contain potassium and Vitamin A.

Native Americans dried strips of pumpkin and wove them into mats. They also roasted long strips of pumpkin on the open fire and ate them.

Colonists sliced off pumpkin tops, removed seeds and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. This was baked in hot ashes and is the origin of pumpkin pie.

Illinois grows more pumpkins than any other state in the country. It harvests nearly 12,300 acres of fruit.

Halloween also is recognized as the 3rd biggest party day after New Year's and Super Bowl Sunday.

Trick-or-treating is thought to have its origins in a European custom called souling where people would beg for "soul cakes."

Legendary magician Harry Houdini died in Detroit from a ruptured appendix on Halloween in 1926.

*Courtesy of The History Channel, Little Grim's Crayola Cookie Kit, and pumpkinmasters.com. Puking Pumpkin courtesy of extremepumpkins.com*

First 'Horror' Movie in Theaters

In keeping with my Halloween movie theme, here is the first 'horror' movie that played in theaters for an audience, in 1895 - Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (The Lumiere Brothers). Apparently the audience completely panicked and ran out of the theater because they thought the train was actually going to hit them.



It's Alive !


Since tomorrow is Halloween, I thought I'd blog about Horror/Suspense movies. The movies I like aren't necessarily about blood and gore. I like the feeling that you can't stand to wait for what is going to happen next, or the ones where you want to yell at the character "Don't open that closet door!" I've never been able to watch the Freddy Krueger - Nightmare on Elm Street movies. They just freak me out.

Here is a list of my top favorites, in no particular order:

Frankenstein, 1931
Halloween, 1978, with Jamie Lee Curtis
Night of the Living Dead, 1968 - Who doesn't love zombies, or brains?
Psycho, 1960 - The Janet Leigh shower scene is the best of all time. Incidentally, she is Jamie Lee Curtis's Mom.
The Birds , 1963 with Tippi Hedren - An Alfred Hitchcock classic
Jaws, 1975 - The shark music is probably the most recognizable tune, and great fun at the beach.
Carrie, 1976 - Makes you appreciate your own prom, doesn't it?
The Fly, 1986, with Jeff Goldblum - I liked the original as well, but the remake was way more disturbing.
Gaslight, 1944 with Ingrid Bergman - You may not have seen or heard of this one, it's kind of a mind-f*** movie. If you like old movies, it's worth a watch.
Rebecca, 1940 - Another Alfred Hitchcock, another mind-f*** movie.

There are probably a dozen more I am neglecting to add. Alfred Hitchcock is probably my favorite director of the horror/suspense genre. The effects were pretty good for the day, although today some may seem kind of campy. But that just makes them all the more fun and entertaining for me. I probably could have listed just about any movie he directed here. I also always loved the cheesy Japanese monster movies - Godzilla, etc.

Oh, I forgot the Manchurian Candidate, 1962, also with Janet Leigh, and Frank Sinatra. Oh, and The Boys from Brazil, and The Omen. Seriously creepy. I could go on and on.

What are your favorites?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I don't drink....Wine.

You Could Be a Vampire... If You Had To

Like most people, the thought of being a vampire has crossed your mind. But you're not sure if you'd do it, even if you could.
Living forever doesn't sound half bad, if you could live forever with the people you love the most.
But do vampires even love? And would the vampire version of you even be you?
It's all too much to contemplate. Luckily, the chances of you ever becoming a vampire are astronomically low.

What you would like best about being a vampire: Living forever

What you would like least about being a vampire: Blood stained teeth


I'd hate to have to give up garlic. Swiped this from Jeffro.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Wine


We tried a new Spanish wine tonight, a Vina Tobia Rioja. Rachel Ray had cooked with a Rioja during an episode recently so I decided to try it. I really enjoyed it. The label says it has bright color; a clean fresh berry aroma and flavor; and a soft mouthfeel that carries into the elegant finish. It was very nice. Grimjack prefers a sweeter, less dry wine. It went very nicely with the meal, since I had used the wine in the Stoup (thicker than a soup but not as thick as a stew).

I'll keep this one on our list.

Yours, Mine and Ours


Tonight is Henry Fonda night on the Turner Classic Movie station. Little Grim and I watched Yours, Mine and Ours, with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. There are very few non-animated movies that will hold her attention, but I thought I'd give it a try since there were so many children in it. It kept her attention pretty well, for the most part. At one point at the end of the movie, she said "Are they going to live happily ever after?"

Next on is one called Spencer's Mountain, with Maureen O'Hara. I've never seen this one but I love Maureen O'Hara (from the original Parent Trap, and The Quiet Man), so I'm going to try to get her to settle down with me and watch this one. There are 9 children in this movie, so here's hoping. This movie apparently was the basis for the TV show The Waltons.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Embarrassing Moment

Last night, we had Parent Night at Little Grim's pre-school in Glenside. I'm there frequently during the week, picking up and dropping off, so I pretty much know what is going on there. After getting cookies and cider, we walked down to her classroom and had to sit in those little tiny kiddie chairs. The teacher explained what the ciriculum is, etc and we were in and out in 20 minutes, which was great. Back through the hallway, past the cookie and cider ladies, and out we go.

Bear with me, there is a reason I am explaining how far we walked in public.

Grimjack's parents were at the house with Little Grim, so we took advantage and headed over to Willow Grove Mall to Ruby Tuesday's on the third floor for a late, quick dinner. Didn't get a close parking spot because there was a concert at the mall and the lot was full. After dinner, we walked through the mall to the escalators to Starbucks on the ground floor for coffee and an M&M cookie (which they were out of) for Little Grim. Then we proceeded through the mall back up the escalators to the third floor to walk through the parking lot to leave.

So we get home, and I'm walking around the kitchen talking to my brother on the phone, and my mother-in-law walks up behind me and says something like "You must not know your pants are split or you wouldn't be just walking around the house".

My what are WHAT???!!! Yes, apparently my jeans were on their last legs (heh) and split at the rear seam. The problem is, I have no idea when it happened. Did I walk through pre-school like that, after I sat in the kiddie chair? Did it happen when I sat down for dinner? I have absolutely no idea - I never noticed a draft or anything.

Below is a picture of my pants, minus my butt. AND, I was wearing a short denim jacket, so nothing was covered. And, at the risk of providing too much information, I was wearing a thong, so it wasn't my underwear anybody was viewing, it was actually my butt.

So, we decided it was Grimjack's fault, because if he had been watching my ass when he was walking behind me the way he should have been, I would have known it had happened. And to all the people at pre-school and the Mall who possibly saw my butt, Frak you for not telling me!



Disclaimer: Objects in this picture are smaller than they appear.

Any embarrassing moments you'd like to share?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Homer!

You Are Marge Simpson

You're a devoted family member who loves unconditionally.

Sometimes, though, you dream about living a wild secret life!

You will be remembered for: your good cooking and evading the police

Your life philosophy: "You should listen to your heart, and not the voices in your head."


Gleefully stolen from Wyatt, who gleefully stole it from Pandy.....

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Confucious say....



We had Chinese take-out tonight for dinner. Here is what our fortune cookies had to say. We always add 'in bed' at the end of each, just for fun. Grimjack's were much better for that, this round.

Mine:

You would make a good lawyer (in bed).

Share your joys and sorrows with your family (in bed).

Your life will be happy and peaceful (in bed).

Your business will assume vast proportions (in bed). (If by 'my business' Confucious meant my butt, I agree)

Grimjack's:

God will give you everything that you want (in bed).

You are tasting the sweets of success (in bed).

The funniest fortune I ever got said 'You like Chinese Food'. I swear that's what it said, I saved it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Seven Dwarfs


We were in the mall and decided to stop in the Disney Store to see what new things we could buy for Little Grim that she didn't need. They happened to have long sleeved adult-sized shirts and one of them had Grumpy on it, along with his name in big letters. So here is how my and Grimjack's conversation went:

Me: Oh, I have to have one of those Grumpy shirts.

Grimjack: You do?

Me: Yes, I can wear it when I'm grumpy so you'll know I'm grumpy.

Grimjack: Do you think you should get two?

Me: Why do I need two of them?

Grimjack: For when the other is in the wash.

Everyone's a comic, and point taken. So this week I will try to be a little less Grumpy and a little more Snow White.

If the dwarfs were women, they would probably have names like Bloated, Bitchy, Cranky, Sleazy, Irritable, etc.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

For us Moms.....

I HAD to swipe this from Jeffro at The Poor Farm. If you have kids, you have to watch this video. This song is exactly what our days consist of, every single day...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Move over, Martha Stewart !


I know this is probably a boring subject for most of you, but I had to chat about one of my new favorite kitchen appliances. We bought a Food Saver months ago, and hadn't used it yet, so earlier this week, I finally dragged it out. In case you don't know, a Food Saver basically shrink-wraps food for storage either in the fridge or freezer. Raw meats and fish should be partially frozen so they retain their shape, and the food you seal shouldn't be too moist. We occasionally shop at one of the bulk warehouses and thought the Food Saver would come in handy.

So, I cooked a huge batch of boneless chicken, two different ways, and then used the Food Saver so I could freeze it in small portions. It is so awesome. It worked great, and now I have about a dozen bags of cooked chicken portions in the freezer that I can just grab and reheat when necessary. I also bagged two types of cheese we had in the fridge, and you can just cut the bags open, use what you need, and reseal them.

Last night it took 10 minutes to make dinner. I sauteed garlic, fresh spinach and carrots in some olive oil, thawed the chicken in the microwave for a minute, cut it in to strips, and tossed it all with a little Cranberry Citrus salsa. It was awesome.

Move over, Martha Stewart!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Nice Peaceful Day

You Are a Peacemaker Soul

You strive to please others and compromise anyway you can.
War or conflict bothers you, and you would do anything to keep the peace.
You are a good mediator and a true negotiator.
Sometimes you do too much, trying so hard to make people happy.

While you keep the peace, you tend to be secretly judgmental.
You lose respect for people who don't like to both give and take.
On the flip side, you've got a graet sense of humor and wit.
You're always dimplomatic and able to give good advice.

Souls you are most compatible with: Warrior Soul, Hunter Soul and Visionary Soul


I swiped this from Christine, on this lazy autumn day. Check out her Blog.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

FANNEEDO, or, Some people have no shame...



Thanks again to RT for showing me how to post these.

Back-to-School Night/Parental Responsibility


Tonight is Back-to-School Night at the Senior High, so I will be following Number One Son's Wednesday class schedule. He has a full schedule this year, no study halls, as he was offered an internship to help produce the new Township Cable channel set to make its debut in December, that takes up 10 class periods per week. The school is allowing him to skip all gym and health classes for the year for the internship, which is quite a coup.

I've been thinking about parental responsibility this week, because of the school shooting in Ohio, and the local incident in Plymouth Whitemarsh. I thought I'd share a story related to my last year's Back-to-School night. This is nowhere near as serious as school shootings, but it explains how I feel about parental responsibility.

Last year, I went to his first period English class. Since I was the first parent to arrive, I had the chance to introduce myself to his teacher. So, after the introduction, his teacher says "So how is Steve feeling?" I sort of gave her a blank look, and she said "He hasn't been in class for the last two days, I assumed he was sick". When I said No, he wasn't sick, she said 'Oh, come to think of it, his friend Ben has also been out." I thanked her for mentioning it and began plotting my wrath.

Second period - Latin. I introduced myself and again heard "how is Steve feeling?". I indicated he was not out sick and I had been unaware that he was out. After that class, I went outside to leave a voicemail on his friend Ben's parents line. I wanted to make sure they were aware of what the boys were up to, excuse my grammar. I also called my son on his cell, and instructed him to get home forthwith and that he had to be there when I got home. After the fourth class, I was so mad that I just left.

In addition to being grounded for two weeks, a week for each day he missed, the next day I called the principal's office to let them know that he had cut school for two days. There was no way he was getting away with this. He ended up with 20 detentions during his lunch period, which amounted to a full month of no downtime at lunch. Poor You.

Bottom line, his only responsibility last year was to go to school and do well. What really got me, is that they picked the week of Back-to-School Night to do it. How dumb could they be? I guess they thought it wouldn't come up? Who knows? I monitored his attendence the remainder of the year, which is easy since it is all online.

I think the one thing that bothered me the most is that his friend's parents never called me back to say Thanks for letting us know. I'd like to think that I've always appreciated both positive and negative feedback about my kids.

Here's hoping for an uneventful Back-to-School night tonight!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

She

Biggest Thanks to RT, without whom I would not be posting one of my favorite songs, by Elvis Costello.

I feel Yucky



It was beautiful day today, so my sister and I took the kids to Briar Bush Nature Center this afternoon, so we could hike and check out their small collection of animals. They have a pond, and trails, and a bird blind for bird-watching. We had a nice time.

I had misplaced my cell phone, but found it later on the way home, when it flew off the roof of my van. Apparently I had set it on the roof when I was putting Little Grim in the car to go to the nature center. It somehow must have gotten wedged in the roof rack, because it stayed on there for the trip over, and most of the trip home, including a stop at McDonald's. I was able to make a couple of U-turns, and pick it up off the side of the road. The antenna broke off, and it is scuffed up, but luckily no one ran over it. And it still works which I consider a big bonus since I was stupid enough to leave it on the roof.

But the McDonald's stop is what brings me to the 'I feel Yucky' part. As a treat for Little Grim, I had gotten in the habit of stopping at McDonald's for lunch on the two days she has pre-school. She gets the same thing every time - Chicken Nugget Happy meal, fries and a chocolate milk. And a toy, can't forget the toy. And I always got the Southwest Salad with grilled chicken, which was awesome. So we did that twice a week. Then, since my sister and I are competing to lose 20 pounds by Christmas, I decided to look online for the nutritional value of what we were eating.

I was pleasantly surprised that my salad was a respectable 400+ calories or so, with the dressing. Obviously I could do better at home, but I had expected it to be much worse. And it filled me for hours. Little Grim didn't fare so well, and since obesity runs in both our families, we want her to learn good eating habits now. Not to mention that it is extra money we could be spending elsewhere. So, I decided to buy frozen Chicken Nuggets from the grocery store to keep at home to bake in the oven or microwave, as a treat for her.

Back to today - she was hungry after the nature center, and Wednesday is Grimjack's school night, so I don't cook on Wednesdays. So, we went to Mickey D's on the way home, since it was right around the corner from the center and I was feeling extremely lazy. They had the audacity to discontinue the Southwest Salad since the last time I was there. So I 'panicked' and ended up impulsively ordering the stupid # 2 Value Meal (Quarter Pounder with cheese), large, with an unsweetened iced tea. So I binged and ate it all, so now I feel Yucky.

I only did 10 minutes on the treadmill this morning, so now in order to redeem myself I need to get back on later tonight for like...I don't know, a million miles. But there is one thing I'm finally learning about dieting and eating right - if you fall off the wagon, so to speak, you have to forgive yourself and start over the next day, or meal. Nothing is irreversible.

And I'm starting to understand that the scale is just a number, and how we feel is equally, if not more, important. I feel great every day I get on the treadmill, and I have to be more selfish about carving out my time to do it. I stand straighter and have a little more energy, even though my back or feet may bother me. But my back pain (I have bone spurs and spinal arthritis) decreases the more active I am. So it's not just a weight issue - I don't want to be crippled or unable to use steps later in life because I was complacent now.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Mother of the Bride


My second oldest daughter is getting married next month and today was her Bridal Shower. A good time was had by all. Here is a picture of the cake I made for the shower. She is getting married in Cape May, NJ, so we went with a beach theme for the shower. The bakery the other girls checked had no idea what to do with the cake, so I gave it my best shot.

Here is a picture of the soon-to-be blushing bride with my grandson Benny. She actually did blush when she opened the lingerie I bought her and we made her hold them up. Wait til she finds out what the other girls bought her from Adult World, if she thought the nighties were bad. Luckily, the girls did not make her open it in front of all the other attendees, which included her grandmas.


And here is a picture of me and Little Grim before the shower. She was very confused with the concept of a 'Shower'. She was upset when I told her she could wear a nice dress, and she said she didn't want to get her dress wet.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

My Parents

My father's birthday was earlier this week, so I thought I would post about him and my mother. When I was writing this post, I discovered I have practically no pictures of them scanned, so that will be the next winter project. My Dad passed away back in 2002, so he's been gone over 5 years now. He had a hip replacement in December of 2001 and was still recovering, when he began having other unrelated pain. It turned out to be pancreatic cancer, that had already metastisized to his liver by the time they found it. They actually lied to us kids at first and said he was having gallbladder problems, but then quickly realized they had to tell us. Even though we were all adults (I am the oldest, and I have 3 brothers and 2 sisters), I guess they felt that had to shield us from it in some way.

We were fortunate in one sense, that it was a fast illness and he never suffered. But I see the irony in that it was a short illness - we all wanted more time. He stayed at home, and we moved him and my mom into their family room to be their bedroom when he could no longer handle the stairs. My mom did not want him to sleep alone down there, so she moved also. I took a partial leave of absence to help care for him.

He passed away in that room, with all of us around him. To this day, my mother only uses that room to iron her clothes, even though it has been remodeled since. She just doesn't want to spend any time there. It didn't affect me and my siblings quite the same way - I think we just view it as a room, and do not necessarily associate it with my Dad.

His den is the room that bothers me the most. It still has all of his things in it, and my mom keeps the door shut most of the time. She still has an extremely difficult time giving up his possessions. We did go through everything in it after he died, but essentially it's been untouched. His ashes may even be in there. It's very strange to go through a person's personal desk - it makes you feel like you are invading their privacy. There were greeting cards that us kids had given him when we were younger, and my mother, that we never knew he saved.

I never knew my father liked Opera until we found an old reel-to-reel audio tape player, and a case of old opera tapes to play on it. He also collected coins, liked to dabble in the stock market, spent a few years living in Japan while in the army, and built the first television his family owned. He was an engineer and worked on the Star Wars Satellite program. He used to take business trips but could not tell my mother where he was going, since it was top secret. So he would give her a phone number where he could be reached, and she would look up the area code to find out where he was.

The garage is still crammed with junk he didn't want to part with - old TV and radio tubes, radios he intended to fix and never got around to - he liked to tinker with things. Their generation tended to keep and fix things - not like today where everything is disposable and not made to last. For years he worked on an old MGB, that he wanted to restore. It was British Racing Green and when he got it running, he took me for a ride with the top down. It was awesome. He always did the work on all of our cars, until his knees got too bad and he couldn't do it any more.

I regret my Father never got to meet my husband, or our daughter. Although I knew Grimjack for many years, we didn't start dating until after my dad passed away.

One of the worst things about losing my father is what it did to my mother. She had no sisters, and her brothers aren't exactly the comforting type, nor do they live close by. It took her 2 or 3 years to start resuming some of her old activities - singing in the church choir, and going to her prayer group. They did everything together, so she was lost without him. She never really had any hobbies. She likes to read and do crossword puzzles. Her friends are not close by, and she is not the type to pick up the phone and ask a neighbor to lunch, or to go out for coffee. She will go out for lunch by herself though.

She did join a bereavement group for a while, but eventually stopped attending the social functions they organized. We all finally realized that she is not going to be different than she is, her life had changed and I still don't know whether she has accepted that. It is very difficult to watch. My father made all the decisions, and it is still hard for her to make them, she can be very indecisive. She tends to listen to my brother, the oldest of the boys. Or she'll ask 3 or 4 of us for our opinions before deciding what to do.

She is 76 years old, and they were married 41 years. Now that I have a good marriage, I can understand the impact on her. I'm pretty sure she is not going to change, but it seems such a shame to me that she could be getting so much more enjoyment out of life, if she would only bring herself to do so.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Official De-lurking Day


As it turns out, today is a day many of the coolest bloggers have declared to be Official De-lurking Day. I'm obviously not one of the coolest bloggers because I only just heard about this from Dad Gone Mad.

But anywho, You all know the drill. Let us know you're out there.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Spam of the Week


Here are my favorite Spam messages this week:

"Wanna larger, fuller, firmer breasts?"

Yes, please. Who wouldn't?

And:

"watching calisthenics from the grandstand. Reshaping magnified, each risen flakeAway, my songs,must we go. Some stubborn sprouts up through the stubble hay, or by the loud hand of painting, always puts."

If you say so.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Britney Spears loses custody of her kids today


NBC10 is reporting that Britney Spears lost custody of her kids today, and Kevin Federline will now have sole custody. This story makes me sad. She is young and has made mistakes and unfortunately her kids are caught in the middle of this. She is the same age as one of my daughters.

I don't understand why the people who surround her haven't intervened and helped her turns things around - they obviously do not have her best interests at heart, otherwise they would have. Normally I could care less about what celebrities are doing, but for some reason her stories catch my eye.

This will haunt her for the rest of her life and I have to assume her career is over, at least for the short-term future (some would argue it was over after the VMA's anyway). If she can turn things around and develop some maturity, perhaps she can regain her life later. But she will now always be known for this, and her kids will eventually know. That's the worst part, I think.

Five Tips for a Woman...


1. It is important that your man helps you around the house and has a job.

2. It is important that your man makes you laugh.

3. It is important to find a man you can count on and doesn't lie to you.

4. It is important that your man loves you and spoils you.

5. It is important that these four men don't know each other.