Friday, November 29, 2013

So darn cold

OK, yes,  I realize Mississippi just doesn't get what most people consider to be COLD.  I don't care.  I am not comfortable due to low temperatures, therefore, it is cold.

Happenings around here:  Mostly working on homemade Christmas gifts.  Not knitting or crocheting (as I usually would be)

This weekend (maybe tomorrow) I will be fixing up our advent calendar.  I'll post a pic or two when I get it done.  It is my intention to take a photo (or more than one) for every day in December leading up to (and after) Christmas for my scrapbook.  I might post those as well.

I am tired and I have a headache.  Not the best mood for blogging.  I don't know why I bother.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving and such.
Our feast was small but well received.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tea: Part Q appendix 12

So, I realized, after posting the last entry that I had already had Tea part 2, or some variation of that.  Sorry for the confusion.  Refund checks are in the mail.

This is the last tea entry, unless something VERY interesting comes up.

Pomegranate Tea.

I have tried green tea with pomegranate flavor before.  I didn't care for it.  There was just something about it.  The fruity underflavoring reminded me of the taste of bubble gum.  You know, that flavor that "bubble gum" flavored bubble gum has that really isn't anything other than bubble gum.

I like pomegranates and pomegranate juice.  I never noticed any similarity between the tart flavor and the intensely un-tart flavor of bubble gum. 

Yet, in this "pomegranate" tea blend, the flavor is there again.  Maybe it is a case of the "flavor" not tasting like the real thing, like watermelon candy (or grape or banana or ... anything, really.)

Either way, I don't particularly care for this tea, but it doesn't suck, so I will drink it until it is gone.

I definitely like citrus blends better.

Christmas at Grandma's 1978.  My siblings and cousins and I.  I have my eyes closed.  I can tell this is 1978 because of how little my brother is.  Matching dresses for the girls!  Gotta love it!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tea Too: The Teaquel

It has been a while since my beginning exploration of "real" (or "fancy-schmancy") tea.  I was shopping online last week and ended up on the site I had ordered the tea from a few months ago.  I ordered some of what I had enjoyed then as well as a few new flavor mixes.

Today's experience...cranberry tea.  It was a free gift from Adagio.  It is a basic loose leaf black tea with raspberry leaves and cranberry pieces.  I have it right now with sugar.  The flavor is not bad.  I don't think this is my favorite, but I am enjoying it.  For a bit a berry fruitiness, it'll do.

I think I preferred the orange-ness from the earl grey I had a few months ago (which I did buy more of.)  Interesting that I prefer the citrus when I  absolutely HATE lemon in my tea.  Big difference between orange and lemon.

Today's photo offering, My Dad, whose birthday is coming up this weekend.  Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Monday, August 5, 2013

There and Back Again

So, I came up with the brilliant idea that the family vacation this year should be a massive week-long road trip.  The fact that a version of me from the future did not come back to beat some sense into me is proof that Time Travel will not exist in my lifetime.

   We had a very nice trip, but are all exhausted, in pain, and glad to be home.  Driving all day is not the same as sitting all day.  I am glad we took the trip, but I am very ready, not only to BE home (which we already are), but to recover completely from the trip (which we have not.)  The old joke of needing a vacation to get over a vacation is true in our case just now.

  The purpose of the trip was something of a grand tour of the Southern US.  With many subordinate goals, such as showing the girls new areas, sights, and features of the region, visiting family, having fun, and gaining dirt for my collection from states I did not already have.

   First, we drive to my in-laws' home in Kentucky.  Nothing new there, but we haven't seen them since Christmas and it was a good time to do so.
Much, though not all, of the trip looked like this in the back seat.  Electronic devices abounded to cut the boredom that trees going by at 70 mph could not.

For one night the kids stayed with their grandparents and DH and I went for some couple time.  "How far can we drive in a day" was an exercise I excelled at during the planning phase of this trip and the winning city for us this time was Kenosha, Wisconsin.  I wanted something nice, on Lake Michigan, and not Chicago or Milwaukee.  We were told (after booking the hotel) that Lake Geneva is nicer, but I have nothing but good things to say about our stay in Kenosha.

 Our hotel was right next to the harbor and there is a lovely harborside park where people spent the wonderful afternoon walking dogs and children, playing guitar, etc.  It was pleasant and romantic, just what I wanted.

   The next day we drove around the end of the lake, through bits of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana, to get to Michigan.  Just because we could.

  My heart goes out to anyone who has to drive Chicago expressways to get to work everyday.  I would go mad.  I think some of them have, as well.

We spent the day driving again and returned to his parents' home to collect the girls.  We love them too much to do otherwise.  His parents, I mean, though the girls too, I guess.
What can I say about two days spent driving in the midwest?  (one mostly in Illinois and the other mostly in Indiana)  Umm, America grows a lot of corn.  A LOT of corn.  Corn fields for mile upon mile, acre upon acre.  Miles and miles of corn.  Hilly corn, flat corn, smallish fields, huge fields.  Amber waves of corn.

I would put a picture here of some of the corn, but even I am not that shutter-happy, or cruel to my two or three readers.

Naw, who am I kidding?!

Once the family was reunited we had another goal...the ocean.  That meant two days of driving eastward.  We crossed Kentucky lengthwise, dipped over the river into Ohio just because it was there,

 then down into West Virginia.  We drove past race horse farms, beautiful countryside and something else the girls have never seen...mountains.
In the pic below...not a mountain, but an indication of what was to come.  Eventually the highway department stops cutting them away to make things easier on drivers.
As I said, we drove down into West Virginia.  After that, we drove up in West Virginia, then down in West Virginia, ad nauseum.  I found the West Virginia Turnpike an unpleasant test of my nerves. The picture below does not adequately represent the diagonal nature of many local roads.  Also, the picture was taken at sunset and before we escaped West Virginia we were having to drive down seven+ mile long inclines in pitch blackness, with trucks that, though warned by signs to keep to first gear, were still barreling down pretty fast.
   How often do truck have to lose control or brakes for the highway department to actually BUILD permanent "Runaway Truck Ramps" ?  Of all the things I expected to miss about home, flat, straight roads was not on my list.  Now, I know better.  Potholes aside, I will not take Mississippi roads for granted.  There are potholes everywhere.  Not every state has diagonal, twisty, death-trap roads.

 After a night in a hotel in Wytheville, VA (chosen because it won the "How far can we drive in a day" tournament for that leg of the trip.) the next day seemed easier, but then, the land was gradually getting flatter on the highways we traveled.  And it wasn't dark.  It amazes me how different Virginia is from it's child-state.  West Virginia was lovely to look at, but not my driving comfort zone.  (How I would handle the Rockies is something I do not want to contemplate.)
   After Virginia came another state that is known for being part of the Appalachians.  That worried me, but I guess my choice of highways, leading toward the coast, was a good one.  Things leveled out.  It took an unbelievably long time to see any corn fields.  We didn't see any in either of the Virginias.  And the steepish (but manageably so) bits of North Carolina didn't have any either.  We were a few hours into the state before I saw any of that crop that had dominated our trip a few days before.
North Carolina passed uneventfully, which made it a trip favorite for me, after West Virginia.  (I don't want to sound like I did not like West Virginia.  It was lovely.  I was tired.  We had been driving all day.  It was dark and I did not like the downhill grades that seemed to come one after another.)  (Perhaps West Virginia is some sort of bottomless valley.  It seemed like we were constantly driving DOWN without much compensatory driving UP to go with it.)

After a few hours, eventually North Carolina gave way to South Carolina (It does that is you are on the correct roads.)  and...Myrtle Beach!  The hotel charges $5 extra to make sure your room overlooks the beach rather than the street.  Money well spent!
The girls loved the beach.  It was a completely new experience that no amount of time in a swimming pool can prepare someone for.  I am glad.  That was the reason we went after all.  I myself haven't been to the ocean since I was in high school, and never the Atlantic.  (When in Brazil it was winter and all we did was walk along the beach, never got wet.)

   I forgot how much I hate going to the beach.  I don't mind being near the ocean.  I love the sound of the waves and watching the waves from a distance.  I hate walking on sand.  I hate sand in general.  It is fun to play with, but refuses to let you leave in peace when beach day is over.  It gets everywhere!
I do love watching the waves, though.

After two days at the shore our trip took a turn westward.  We were finally aimed at home, even though we still had a stop along the way.
Last year DD12 and I went to the Georgia Aquarium and enjoyed it immensely.  We wanted to go again and share the experience with the others.

The petting tank...

Electric eel...

and big, huge, amazing ocean tank.
(shown here in too much of a close-up to convey it properly.  The tank window is the size of a movie screen.)
We saw examples of every ... class (I think)  (maybe Order, biology class was over 25 years ago) of (obviously), mammals (otters and dolphins and beluga), birds (penguins), reptiles (alligators), and amphibians (frogs.)  Also many types of invertebrates, including sea stars, urchins, jellies, mollusks, and crabs.
   The place was a lot more crowded then last time.  The only day we could go was a Saturday, plus there were events and conferences taking place nearby.  I overheard a couple of locals saying they had never seen it so crazy.  I am glad I didn't know it would be like that.  I might have chickened out.  But as it was, I handled it without too much mental meltdown.  Yay!

The next day we left for home.  It was wonderful to be on the last stretch.  It was even more wonderful to get back onto familiar highways and then home.  We got back yesterday and I am still exhausted.

Proof of how exhausted I was...
Any of you who actually know me will (after being SHOCKED at this photo) realize that I must have been falling-over-dead tired or in Emergency Room levels of pain to relinquish the command chair to DH.
Honestly, the first few days of the trip were like that.  I always drove.  But, as the week went on and my legs showed the strain of driving and I got more and more tired, even after sleeping (when possible) in the hotels, it became easier and easier to get past my need to be behind the wheel.  In this photo we are on the road to Atlanta, which I believe was more of him driving than me.  Exhaustion, boredom, pain, or character growth, who can say?

It did give me more chance to do this on the road.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Going Herbal

The next tea in the rotation is an Earl Grey Rooibos blend.


The rooibos smells bad and tastes bad as well.  Or maybe it tastes fine but the smell makes it taste bad.  Either way...blech!

I got it because I know rooibos is supposed to be good for allergies.  I think I'll take Singulair and drink tasty tea instead.

I moved quickly onto a Moroccan green tea / peppermint blend.   I went ahead and added sugar  because I know Moroccan style tea is very sweet.  Or is that coffee?  I think tea.  Anyway, I did not have the same aftertaste trouble that I had before.  The mint was very strong and quite yummy.  This isn't really an "every day" king of tea.  It felt more like it was for special occasions.  Whatever I end up deciding to do, I will do it again.

The rooibos not so much.

Short entry today.  Pretty much just about tea.  You'll just have to deal with it.

OK, so not entirely about tea.  Hubby and I are thinking about still taking a vacation, but not as extensive as planned before.  I'll keep you up to date.

And, I'll try to find an interesting picture I have not posted before for your enjoyment.
A picture of a picture.  My first birthday.  I love the early 1970s fruity table cloth.  (Also a small bit of my cousin holding a football.)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tea: Part Two

My tea cups car large, 2 cup capacity.  The sample of Earl Grey I bought only has one cup's worth left, so today we move on to a new sample.  Peach Oolong.

This isn't my first lighter tea, but I am glad the samples have directions on how long to steep.  With Lipton I often just relied on color.

The peachy aroma is very strong.  There is not as strong a tea smell as I had with the Earl Grey.   Iam not sure if that is a trait of the oolong being subtler or the peach being so powerful.  I'd need to order some non-peachy oolong to know for sure.

I am not adding sugar, lesson learned from the Earl Grey.

Mississippi Cotton Blossom taken a couple of years ago.  It is too early in the season for it to look like this just now.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tea: Earl Grey, Hot

There is currently a treat swap going on Ravelry.  They are not uncommon among pleasant social sites, but this is my first in a very long while.  I was to knit a Christmas Decoration, supply a treat recipe, and spend $10 on a small gift.
The ornament is 90% finished.  The recipe will be Magic Cookie Bars.  And I reviewed my randomly chosen recipient's profile for ideas for a gift.
She likes tea.  Real tea.  "Oo, interesting," I thought to myself.  (because no one else would actually be interested.)

I dallied around online, ebay mostly, to find an interesting cup or kettle, but nothing fell under the $10 mark.  Finally, I googled "tea" or something along those lines and found a few online sites that sell actual tea.

I suppose I could have checked the local grocery, but I had (have) very little faith that what counts as "good" tea would be found near the Lipton and Celestial Seasonings bags.

The longer I looked over what the site (Adagio Teas) the more interested in "real" tea I became.  So, I bought a small bit of Moroccan mint tea (because her profile suggested a liking for mint) for the random recipient, plus a steeper and selection of various "real" teas for myself.

The package arrived yesterday.  I had my first cup of hot tea (that did not steep through a bag) yesterday afternoon.  If you know me even a little, you know there is more than a passing acquaintance with Star Trek in my life.  And, really, can any Star Trek fan go to a tea site and NOT buy at least a little Earl Grey?  No, the answer is no.

I have a dedicated sweet tooth where my beverages are concerned.  Anything that is not water or milk has sugar.  And if I am doing the has quite a bit.  I tend to make my coffee in the "melted candy bar" range of sugar content.  But, I did not want to bury the real flavor of my (more expensive than Lipton) real Earl Grey tea under a mountain of sugar.  So, I drank it straight.

The smell was unbelievable!  I could have sat there all afternoon just inhaling the vapor from the cup.  I have spent many a moment breathing in the glorious smell of a cup of coffee, but this was 1000x better.  Sweeter, fresher, more exotic.  It smelled like the tea I knew, but was different in a way I cannot put my finger on.  And, when it had cooled enough to sip (Captain Picard might drink his hot, but I have no desire for burned lips nor tongue.) the taste was certainly knew and different, while familiar just a bit.  I do think I will sweeten it a bit next time, but I will not overdo the sugar.

And once I am thoroughly familiar with the Earl Grey I will move on to the Oolong I bought and compare the two.  Then the Darjeeling...

Your picture for today isn't totally random.  I posted about a gift, both for a stranger and myself, and give you a picture of my 15 and 14 year old daughters.
Not a RECENT picture, of course, but well, a cute one.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Not medicated...much

I have no news other than to say I have mellowed a bit since this morning.  Things are what they are.  I am still not happy, but I am no longer frothing at the mouth.

We have the money to pay the tax bill AND go on a smaller vacation.  I am going to look into having mom watch the girls in a few weeks and get away with DH.  For a whole family thing we'll wait a few months; after Labor Day maybe.

I got the steaming out of my system and I am cooler about the whole matter.  Without drugs.  (Though  I did take my blood pressure meds and some Tylenol.)  Because that is how things roll around here.

From Epic Roadtrip 2012 B - The house my family lived in 1980-1984.  Words cannot adequately express how much BIGGER the house was then.  It has obviously shrunk, look at the tree!  That is little more than a tall bush.  I know because my memory says it is so.
Also, the house used to be yellow; bright, mustardy yellow with dark green shutters.
   Behind the house, but to the right, there is a field where all of the back yards fail to meet.  A sort of communal grassy area.  We used to play there as kids, pretending to be whatever we liked, especially that we could travel to Narnia to fight badguys and such.  That is The Narnia Field.

Then again, maybe not

   Well, after a post about how excited I am to be making vacation plans, I decided that I needed to file our taxes.  I don't wait until the last minute, but the last week, sure.
   Uncle Sam is being quite gracious about the short sale of our house.  Thank you.
   Miss Sippy, not so much.  They want their piece of the "income" from the cancelled debt from our short know, money that doesn't actually exist.

We can pay it (thanks to having saved some money that DOES exist (if electronically))  but may have to put our vacation on hold for a while.  Maybe.  We might still be able to go soon.  We have to talk it over. 

I am not a happy camper right now.

On the bright side, what I am feeling is ANGER.  There have been times in the past when this would have been DESPAIR.  No, I am not hanging my head, I am PISSED.

Is there a total disconnect between the ears of government bureaucrats?
   "Our records show here where $120,000 you would have made and paid over the next 30 years will no longer need to be paid over the next 30 years.  How nice.  Pay us $6000."


I am so angry I am considering not showing you a picture.  But no, that is petty.  It isn't your fault the state off Mississippi is a douche.  (I am not usually given to foul language, so you know I am very upset here.)

And choosing a picture will help calm me.  But it won't be a picture of anything of or in Mississippi.  (So, take THAT!)

DD15 being peaceful in Kentucky.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Crazy, Vacation, and DIRT!

Our 16th wedding anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks.  We had thought to get away together for a mini-vacation.  He'd take a few days off work and the two of us would hit the road.  We'd get time alone together, see some sights, and I could gather more world for my collection.  (To be completely honest "World Collection" isn't sticking around here.  It is most definitely a Dirt Collection.  OK, I can own that.  So, I collect dirt, so what?  I LIKE my dirt!)

Unfortunately, a perfect storm of family scheduling means Mom won't be able to stay with the girls.  And 4 days (our plan) is too long to be away without supervision.  *sigh

So, we started thinking about postponing the trip, but extending it longer and taking the munchkins.  (Hmm...they are almost not even munchkins anymore.  Need to come up with another affectionate diminutive.)  Make it a family trip, see more than the previous plan called for.  (Plus spend a lot more on food and hotels!  yay)

I am halfway getting excited and halfway terrified.  Will it be cool?  Will it be awful?

SNAP OUT OF IT!!!  (That is my inner sane voice.  She has to yell, because I often don't listen.)
You were dreading last year's Epic Roadtrips, but those were fine.  Even St. Louis at rush hour.  (No, St. Louis at rush hour may have scarred me for life.  St. Louis at rush hour is what has me terrified of Buffalo / Niagara.) 
PSSHAW!!!  Just be careful about scheduling WHEN you get to town.  Look at the plan, it is a 9+ hour drive from Colonial Williamsburg to Niagara.  The thought that you would arrive before 6pm is ludicrous! (Good point.)

Do I have to go through Chicago?
No, Sweetie.  Babysteps.  We'll go around Chicago.

This is going to be AWESOME!!! Extended trip means choosing some places to stay longer, and going to places we would not have been able to before.  More fun, more places, more dirt!

There is a lot of stuff to get done first.
 BUDGETING!  (That is just bold for emphasis, not my sane voice yelling.  She has been rendered harmless, tied up, and gagged.) Must see how we can keep costs down.  Fast food twice a day for 10 days is NOT going to cut it.  (Get that gag back on!)  But cargo space is at a premium.  It is all fine and good to say "Pack your own food,"  but we are going to also be packing our own clothes, and various electronics, and eventually little baggies of dirt.  We'll probably pack some food, buy some along the way, and yes, eat out a few times.  I already plan to make sure every hotel has breakfast included.  duh!
MAPPING!  Who am I kidding, this is my favorite part.  GoogleMaps is like a video game to me.
BOOKING!  This is one of the last pre-pack things I do.  Must always wait until the decisions are made, then book.  Cancellations are a pain in the tookus.  Also, I always do this online.  I hate talking to people on the phone.  (I am a freak.)
APPLYING!  Passports!!!  It would be a crying (weeping, bleeding, oozing) shame to get that close to Canada and not be able to get some Canada for my collection.  This will begin to make it an actual WORLD collection, instead of a state collection.  This won't be the first time I apply for a passport, just the first time in over 20 years.  It also won't be the first time I have been to Canada.  Just the first time in over 20 years.  (Oddly, those two "over 20 years" facts are not related.  You didn't need a passport to visit Canada in 1990.  The passport was for Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, which you did need a passport for in 1991.)

Wow!  This post has gotten long and really isn't telling you much about what is going on around here.  Sorry.   I am just excited.  I don't have much to say about how things have been going.  I have been a little depressed and feeling like a lump.  Planning this trip has been a nice wake up.

Let's see if I can find some of the pics form last year's Epic Roadtrip 2012 1, 2 and 3  (Yes, there were 3.)

Paducah, Kentucky  DD14 (then) and I on our way to see the National Quilt Museum.  It is an ok way to spend an hour if you like quilts.
DD14 at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.  That is her, right at the base of the arch, being peaceful.

Here is another shot of the arch.  I love this shot.  I am seriously tempted to have it framed.

Here is DD13 (then) being peaceful in southern Minnesota.  We didn't really HAVE to go to Minnesota.  But we were close and I didn't have any Minnesota in my collection...
I didn't tell them to throw the Peace sign, and neither girl was present at the other photo...just a thing between sisters, I guess.

The trips were to take my brother to Des Moines for a seasonal job and then pick him up again.  I took one girl each trip, for company and ... well, just for company.  I love being with my girls and we don't often get one on one time.

That left one girl out of the action, though.  So, when her birthday came around she got a special, long weekend with Mom in Atlanta.
 DD11 (but only for 2 more days) and I were at the GA Aquarium.  Which was FANTASTIC!  Here she is at the petting pool.

The aquarium was such a hit with her (and me) that we are planning to make it part of the family trip coming up.

And, because it has been such a focus for this post, one bonus pic...
I currently have ten states (Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, S. Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, Kentucky, and Georgia) and one bottle of water (Christmas Snow 2012).  I had more water, but after gathering Sardis Reservoir, Puskus Lake, and the Talahatchie  River I left the bottles in the car and forgot to get them out a few days later when I assigned the girls to clean out the car.  At least those are local and can be easily replaced.  (Which is why I don't have any Mississippi or Tennessee.  I keep putting it off because I could get those any time.)
   The Nebraska is from a field where my friends and I played when I was a child.  We made up Narnian adventures (among other worlds.)  I wanted THAT to be my Nebraska dirt.
   The Kentucky is specifically from my in-laws' yard.  The snow was as well.

   After this trip, if all goes as currently planned, I will add Alabama, S. Carolina, N. Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Ontario, Michigan, and Illinois.  On the water side, I will add the Atlantic Ocean, the James River, the Potomac River, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and (I am hoping) the Mississippi River.  Oh, and some Myrtle Beach, separate from South Carolina dirt.
   I need more glassware.  I filled the antique spice bottle set you see in the picture.  I have GA, and KY in jars.  I have one empty jar ready.   I need to move the snow water to a smaller bottle and use that jar for dirt.  Colonial Williamsburg has a glass blower, so I may pick up something there to keep the Virginia dirt in.  Other than that, a trip to the thrift store should help, as well as the grocery store.
   Have you ever bought a certain food just because of the jar it came in?  This won't be my first time.

I had better sign off before this post gets too long and rambly...too late!

Haha, I just realized that when petting the rays at the aquarium we were instructed to use just two fingers.  So, while they were not exactly the same, she is also sort of giving a peace sign.  3 for 3!