Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another Monday off exploring

I decided that last Monday would be a day for me to go exploring again. Since I am off Mondays, Chuck has to work, the boys are at school, why not go for a ride???? And gas has gone down considerably, so, I was off for another ride to some back road in the county.

I took off down to the end of our delivery area and kept on driving. I knew some of the area, I knew that eventually I would end up out on the highway. But what I didn't know was, what way I was gonna go. I did have my map with me, thankfully! But I really needed a Tom Tom right now. I got turned around in an area very unfamiliar to me. I saw very few cars and had no cell coverage, so I had to follow the map as best as I could.

I was hoping for some photo ops, but there weren't many out there to be found. Not like there was on the other side of the county. I really was hoping for some nice shots, but I only got a few. There weren't the barns out there that I was hoping for, the old houses, the farms, the relics in buildings. The area was quite nice, but not what I was hoping for.

Of course when I find something to take a picture of, a car, out of nowhere comes up behind me. Don't you know that was bound to happen, apparently they knew where they were going. I should have followed them.

This would have been amazing if the colors were changing. They are really changing this week, and it was nasty yesterday to go out and take pictures of the area that I have explored once already.

This was just one that I could get. I saw it, turned around and got out of the car to get it. Nothing special, but I love the roof on this thing,

This barn was right on the same property, located right behind the first one. The roof looks rather new, but the buildings haven't been used, and they seem as if they are just left to fall apart.

The house on the property was a very old house. I knew someone lived there. It was a great old house. Can you imagine the stories those walls could tell. Oh my, the life that had been lived there. I love the old style, the old windows and just the structure of the house.

I love the chimney and the porch. That is a house, that is what a house should look like. You know at one point in time, this house was worth a lot. Now, someone lives there, doesn't know how to take care of it, leaves it to fall apart. Oh the history in something like that.

Obviously I did find my way out, it was a ride and lots of confusion, but when I came out behind the party rental I was thrilled.

I did find this one barn. I am sure people still use this area but not as much as what it was used before. It was an area of farming and cattle at one point, but as that has gotten so very expensive to do, it doesn't seem worth all the work for the little bit of pay that they get for it.

I do believe that I will travel down the roads that I have been before. Look for photo ops that passed me by before. Travel down back country roads that have "Farm machinery crossing." At least then I will know that I have a chance to get some pictures.

The winter comes and so do the bills

When I posted about turning on the heat, I received 2 comments about the heating bills. I think this is the time of year that I do like the most, but I dread the electric bill that comes in.

My 2 friends have gas heat, I am so thankful that we don't. We have everything on the electric bill. All the utilities are on one. So, I guess I can be grateful about that.

TVA annouced that as of October 1st, all electric bills will be going up anywhere from $16 to $20 a month. WOW! That is a lot of money. And to hit that during the winter time, that is just wrong!

So, we get our bill. It is $204, $17 of it comes from the TVA increase. Whoa! It would have been $187, but I guess TVA has to make up their spending somehow, and they hit us with it.

So, this winter we decided that the heat will stay on about 66 degrees. That is warm enough. If you aren't in a room, turn the light out, the TV off. I bought a blanket for me to use in the Greatroom. That way if I do get cold, the heat won't be touched. The windows in PJ's room will be covered in plastic to keep his room warmer. Ceiling fans already have been reversed. To suck up the cold air, push down the warm air. The boys have extra blankets on their beds, and the rooms are closed off so that way they stay warm. It is just something we have to do if we want to keep the utilities down this winter.

Eric always dresses in his fleece pants and a sweatshirt, along with his new wool socks that I picked up for $3 a pair. PJ has his flannel pants and fleece shirt that he wears around the house. They each have quilts on their beds to keep them warm, so they will be fine.

Keeping the house at 66 or 67 wards off the germ bugs too. That is another plus right there.

So, we will see how this goes this winter. I have changed lightbulbs over to compact floursent bulbs, sealed up doors, close doors behind the boys that were born in a barn, and making the attempt to keep the house comfortable, not expensive.

Today is my Saturday

It used to be that Saturday was the day that I did everything, but now that my schedule has changed somewhat, I now have Tuesday as my Saturday.

Chuck has a meeting tomorrow for work. It is only a few times a year and each time they meet, 3 stores get together and bring lunch. This was Chuck's and the area's turn, so I volunteered to cook the lunch for tomorrow. He didn't want me to, but because I don't get to cook that often anymore, I jumped on the chance.

I have to remember that I am feeding 10 people, some are big eaters, some are picky, some just would rather eat something else. No hard feelings there, if you don't want to eat, you go hungry. Chuck was gonna pick up some BBQ from a local place that is outstanding. I didn't know that he was gonna do that, I would have let the guy get some business and advertising at the same time.

I chose to make a White Bean and Rigatoni dish. You know the one Royce, the one that you just love. Considering I am feeding many people, I had to quadruple the recipe. That is a lot of food. But for those of you that would like to make it for you and the family, here is the very simple and quick recipe.

1/2 lb box of rigatoni
1 lb Italian Sausage, cooked and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces. You can use turkey sausage or none at all.
2 cans Great Northern White beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans Italian style diced tomatoes (I like petite diced)

Cook the sausage, either bake or fry in pan. In medium saucepan, combine beans and tomatoes, add sausage. Cook pasta according to package. Drain, return to pot. Add the bean and tomato mixture, stir to combine.
Top with parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve.

That easy. But of course today I had to have 4 cans of tomatoes and 4 cans of beans, 4 lbs of sausage and rigatoni too. I have the beans, tomatoes and sausage all mixed up, ready to go. Now, I have to get up tomorrow and make the pasta. I will be up early for that. When that gets done, combine everything in the crockpots and let him get to his meeting.

I also made a cake. I love to bake and it is fun for me. Deeply Chocolate Almond Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. Yes, it is that good. Sinful, actually.

One top of that, I had to get dinner ready for tonight. It was gonna be a cold night, I knew that when I planned out my meals for the week. So, I got bought a whole chicken instead of it already cut up, a difference of about $4 in price. Cut the chicken and make stock for chicken and dumplings, Cracker Barrel style. I love theirs, mine isn't nearly as creamy or good, but I think they are rather tasty. Only make enough for one meal. I used to make them differently, but adding cream of chicken soup is out of the question for us now. I would rather put healthy stuff in our bodies. Trying to keep up healthy.

While all of this was going on, I had one more bag of apples left. Johanna asked if I have had enough apples, the answer is YES! I am appled out. But this stuff will be around next year, through the winter. So, it is nice to make homemade buttermilk biscuits and fresh homemade apple butter to go along with it. That was breakfast this morning, along with 2 slices of Taylor ham. Chuck can't stand the stuff, I don't care. I love it. Call it a New Jersey thing.

Three loads of wash, a plate of Rocky Road fudge for the meeting too. And now time to relax.

Chuck is at work tonight, so the boys and I are gonna watch "The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown." Yes, I know that I am 41, but ya know, the kids still watch it, I still look forward to the holidays and all the shows that come on during the season.
Elaine, you and I will be watching A Year Without A Santa Claus again this year. And when I watch it, I will be singing along, just like you will be!

Ok, that was my day off. I was busy. But, it was productive. I have to follow Johanna's steps and clean out some closets next week. I have a ton of crafts that I need to be working on, but right now, it is finding them and getting to them.

I stay busy, it is good for me, it is good for the family too. I make some good dinners and good desserts too.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Apple Butter is just so good.

Several weeks ago my dad brought me a crate of apples. I made applesauce, some apple butter, 2 apple pies, canned apple slices for whatever, and then I had some leftover, but I didn't have time to do anything with them. I cut them up, put them in gallon baggies, fruit fresh them and put them in the refrigerator. They are still there. I have also made apple juice out of the apple peels, to make apple peel jelly tomorrow.

I have a blog that I read everyday. The CrockPot Lady. She made a New Year's Resolution that she would use her crockpot everyday this year. So far, she has posted a different recipe everyday. And she will tell you the truth if it is any good or not.

Well, when I started reading her blog, I spotted something about crockpot apple butter. I looked at it, was a little hesitant about it, but decided that since I was going shopping with my dad today, I was gonna put the apples in the crockpot, along with the vanilla. Left it alone until I got home. To view this wonderful, very easy recipe,

This is so easy that anyone can do it. Now, she comments that the sugar was too much. So, of course, I have to adjust this to our taste in this house. I put in one cup of white sugar, 3/4 cup of brown sugar, and some fresh grated nutmeg. Perfect. The color was right, the taste was better than what you buy in the store, and I canned it up and put them in the hot water canner for a later date. I have more apples in the fridge, I may make more of this or maybe some crockpot apple sauce. You don't have to stand over it all day long, just let the crockpot do all the work.

And now that I am working different hours, I am wanting to use the crockpot more often now. I follow her blog and I read all that she has to make. Some things sound wonderful. I am looking for a little dipper pot to make Pumpkin Spice Lattes, in the crockpot, who knew!

Check it out, you won't believe some of the stuff that she adapts to the crockpot.

A few more work funnies

A while back I posted a couple of work funnies. Johanna got the biggest chuckle out of me spliting my pants the 2nd or 3rd week on the job. Yes, it was funny, and embarrassing, but no one knew anything, so I was safe. My dad delivered my pants to work and I kept on going.

So, I have been compiling many work funnies over the past few months and I hope you enjoy some of the funnies that I have done, go ahead, laugh at me, it is ok. But laugh at some of the other things too, things that happened to me, things that I have seen, and some things that I shouldn't have seen.

I deliver to people that have dogs. It is just part of the job. I got to this one house and I noticed little Scotties on the porch. I thought, "how cute, this one has Scotties." I rang the doorbell and this huge bark came out from the other side. Usually I don't mind dogs, but when you aren't expecting a large dog, it is rather frightening. The glass storm door was shut, but the other door was wide open. Here comes running a Boxer, lands on it's butt, slides to the door and barks. I jump back about 10 feet, scared me half to death. The woman came outside, "Oh, you are not scary." Oh yes she was. I usually don't have problem with dogs, this dog was sweet, but it still scared me. Meanwhile, the dog is at the door, looking at me, drooling, and I know it was laughing at me.

There was this time, that I thought was rather different. I was delivering to a well-to-do area. Most of those people do not have numbers on the house or on the box for that matter either. Makes it really difficult to find the right house. Of course this one particular day, I went to the wrong house, should have been the neighbor's house. I got there, rang the doorbell and the woman came to the door. She pays me, and we got to talking and I walked off with the pizza. She laughed so hard, she gave me a bigger tip. She said, "I think you forgot something!" Yep, I sure did....... Oh well, you do the job and see how well you do.

I am glad that I waited until this week to post this, because I would have missed this one. I was on my way back from a run, sitting at a light. The other side light changed and the motorcyclist took off, running on one wheel, flying down the road. Right by the gas station, Dr's office, carwash, whoops, I guess he missed the police officer sitting right there. I know better not to speed down that road. He did too, just thought showing off would be cool. I drove by him as he was pulled over. Saw him at the light on my next run. I was looking at him, shaking my head, "83 in a 45", "Dude, what were you thinking?" "I wasn't thinking" Found out that it will probably be a $300 ticket and could lose his license. Not funny for him, funny for me though.

Last Sunday I was working. I took a delivery to another nice area of town. Knocked on the all glass door, no answer. About 2 minutes later here comes this very nice looking young, healthy man walking by me, NAKED! He looked out the door, covered up, WHOA! 2 steps back and out of sight. Now, this doesn't phase me anymore, I have seen it all, heard it all, and nothing really bothers me. I stood there, waiting, waiting, waiting, finally he came to the door. "I didn't hear the doorbell" "Um, there isn't one." He looked outside, "Well, I was in the shower anyways." No, really, I think I could have figured that one out. People that have glass doors should not walk around naked, especially when you order pizza. The heck with throwing stones in a glass house.

The next delivery after that I had a credit card slip, but I forgot my pen. This man asks, "If we can't find a pen, can I sign in blood?" "Sure, I don't care as long as you don't forget the tip." The other guy that was there with him, watching the game, "Um, that was a little awkward." "Nope, nothing is awkward for me anymore." And it really isn't.

The real funny thing is, I had to deliver to naked man again yesterday. I laughed when I saw the ticket, shook my head and walked out. Told my boss as I was leaving that this was naked man's house. She got a kick out of it and told me not to stay too long. He was fully clothed this time, told me that he was putting the tip on the card. I looked at him and told him, "I got the tip last week, but you can put one on there." He turned beet red, he remembered me.

That is all for right now. I have more, but I had to end with the one about the naked man. Nothing can top that one. It was too funny for me, too embarrassing for him.

Enjoy, laugh at me, laugh at what happened, oh, just laugh!

The heat is on

Living down here I have learned that I don't usually have the heat on until the first week in November. This year was different. I came home about 2 weeks ago and thought I smelled the dust coming out of the vents. And I was right.

It got cold very fast this year. Sometimes we have a slow transisition, this year, um, no. It was really nice one day and the next day it turned cold. So, the nights now consist of the heat, electric blanket, heavier socks and slippers. Sweat shirts and sweat pants have replaced the t shirt and shorts that I would wear when I got home from work.

I love this time of year. I love to get the blankets out and cuddle too. Summer is fun, to me that is the fun time of year. The boys play outside and have a blast, we have our gardens and learn all kinds of new things.

For me Fall is my time of year. I love to sit and crochet more, I feel as if this is the time of year for that. I don't feel as if I am wasting a beautiful summer day, stuck inside. The colors make the entire Fall season worth while. I love the vibrant oranges, reds and yellow, twine in some brown and you have a picture worth taking. A ride worth driving, a day worth spending outside breathing the Fall, crisp, fresh air.

Yes, it did get colder sooner this year, but that is ok, it is opening the way for Winter. For snow, snowmen, snow angels, snow ball fights. For frosty mornings, for homemade cocoa, for warm meals that warm us all the way to the bone.

I so enjoy the colder weather. It is easier for dinners, harder to get out of bed, prettier to look at, and a time to bundle up and go and play, come in and warm up.

I love this time of year, and once again, I am so looking forward to working outside more.

The saga is over, it leaks no more

My part came in from Mike's Maytag and they didn't charge me for the part. I told the guy that does own the store that I was treated badly by one guy that worked there. I told him all that happened, turned out if Mikey was there, I would have had the fridge covered, no questions asked. But because of what happened, we had to go through the ordeal that we had gone through.

After they came out the 2 times to fix the fridge, we noticed that it was still leaking. I was about to come unglued, there is only so much one person can handle, and I had my fill of this refrigerator.

Towels on the floor all the time and the constantly cleaning it up had gotten to me. I finally went over to the Maytag part store and explained to them what happened, they didn't charge me for the tray and told me that if we couldn't get it in, they would come out and fix it for us.

The only thing that we can figure is that the tray melted. Somehow the tray melted. They could have done it while they were torching something. And may have melted the tray. I don't know. But all I know is that this was the source of the leak. We taped it up with electric tape and that helped for a few days, but didn't fix it.

I pick up the part and we decided that this needed to be done. Ok, I tried to do this myself and couldn't get it done. I told Chuck that I didn't see how this is gonna work. We ended up taking everything out of the fridge, food and shelves and took the side and the bottom off and break the tray to get it out. It was melted badly. Now try to figure out a way to get the new one in. We flipped this over and fooled with it several minutes. Got it done, now to pick this up and put it back. It wasn't easy. Fill it back up and then see if it leaks. It doesn't, it is staying nice and cold and I hope that I don't have to worry about this again.

A few updates

Oh my goodness, I have been so busy and so not wanting to get on the computer. But I realized that I miss all my friends when I don't see what is going on in their lives. I have many things that I will be blogging about later, but I thought I would give a brief update on things with me.

I took the typing test and failed it. I was supposed to do 50 wpm with 5 errors. The best I could do was 48 wpm with 3 errors. Oh well, that shot that out of the water, no interview there for me. I guess I will stay where I am at until the economy gets its act together.

I had mentioned to Johanna about a mac and cheese recipe that I have been using for years. Well, instead of me just emailing her and Elaine, I might as well share it with everyone. I love this stuff, so does the rest of the family.

Thanks to the Creamette Ziti Box, I found a staple in our family

Baked Ziti and Cheese Casserole

1/2 of a 1 lb package of Ziti, uncooked
2 Tbsp butter (and those of you that know me, I only use butter)
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp dry mustard (got to have this to make it right)
1/2 tsp salt
2 3/4 cup milk
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Cook ziti as package directs; drain. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter; stir in flour, mustard and salt. Gradually stir in milk; cook and stir until mixture thickens slightly and bubbles. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup of cheese; stir until melted. Add ziti. Spoon into a greased 8 inch sq baking pan. top with remaining 1 cup of cheese. Bake uncovered 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes. Refrigerate leftovers.

This is what Eric brought home last week :

Do you see that???? 6 A's! Count them, there are 6 of them there! He missed honor roll though, that C caused him not to get on the honor roll. I don't mind, this is the best that he has ever brought home! As for PJ's, well, the school system changed the grading system for the elementary school and it is really messed up. They are scoring on 1, 2, and 3. Meaning that if you get a 3, you mastered the topic covered. So why bother teaching that anymore? A 2 is that you will master it before the end of the year and a 1 is you need lots of help. PJ got mostly 2's and 3's, he did, however get four 1's in math. He goofs off a lot, trust me, he can do better. But when you don't know what kind of grade you are getting, well, why bother.

Chuck is off having an MRI done on his shoulder today. Looks like he will be needing surgery in the coming year. I do think that he will be waiting until after the holidays though. So that way he won't miss work and he can still help out through the holidays. He has an impingement on his right shoulder, basically it is a tendon that is knotted up and they have to go in and untie it. Recovery will be about 3 weeks, he can go back to work and then he will be on light duty until further notice.

That is it for the update. I will have some more blogs later on today. I have some work funnies that I have saved up to blog about, some pics that I took on some back roads of town, and a few more little things.

Stay tuned, there will be more.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

No turning back now

I voted! I love early voting, it is so easy, available on Saturday, and very fast. It is just great! And if you have early voting in your area, go for it, unless you have changed your mind 1000 times and still not really sure who to vote for this election year.

One reason why I love early voting like I do, I hate the long lines on Election Day. Another reason, well, back in 2002, when we were voting for the local elections, PJ was just 3, Eric had Cubscouts, and I had to vote. Well, that day at work, I remember so clearly, right before I left for the day, I bent over and got my hair stuck in the end of a hanging file folder, not funny. I got home, driving the Saturn with manual transmission, took it out of gear and I hit the car that was parked in the driveway, not funny. Well, I took Eric to Cubscouts, a friend of mine took care of him while I went to vote. Got there, the line was out the door, but this was something I needed to do. PJ was so good, he waited and waited and waited with me for 2 1/2 hours. We got to the front, there were only 5 booths that they had in this district, no wonder it took so long, I was 5 people from the front and PJ took off from me. I tried so hard to keep him under control, but I didn't notice that he left my side. Where did he go? You may wonder.... Ok, real quick, if you are an adult and you see a kid reaching up to pull the fire alarm, do you think you would say something?????? Of course you would, you are a responsible adult. Did anyone say anything to PJ, like, um, you don't need to touch that, as he was pulling down the fire alarm. No! Of course not, you are almost out of there, you are tired and ready to go home, you aren't at the end of the line that will be there another 2 hours. Yep, you read that right, my 3 yr old PJ pulled the fire alarm at the school. Chuck called shortly after that happened and asked what was going on, I told him some kid pulled the fire alarm, "why didn't you watch him closer?" I was tired, I wanted to go home, he laughed. I finally got to vote, got Eric back when he was dropped off, walked out covering my face. Meanwhile, 3 year old PJ got a standing ovation, as he raised his arm to wave and accept his congratulations. Not funny??? Oh yeah, it was funny! That is why I early vote!

I know that mom doesn't like my choice, but like I said, it was my choice. I voted for Barack Obama. There are so many reasons why I voted for him and not for John McCain. I know that no matter who gets into office, most likely things won't change that much. But I am tired of the war, I am tired of hearing that we need to go into Iran, the Iraqi people want us to leave, and I don't blame them. If the roles were reversed, I wouldn't want strangers in my country either. We have been there long enough, we did find WMD, we got rid of Saddam Hussein, and it is time to come home. We have lost so many soldiers, doing their job, but they aren't coming home. And I am so glad that my sons aren't old enough to be over there. I am old enough to have a child over there, and I am so grateful that I started late in life.

Ok, so, off my soap box, and on with this. Yesterday I didn't have to be at work until 1, so I got up, got breakfast and got ready to go out. Looked at Eric and said that I was going to go vote. "I get to do it!" he reminded me, "on Feb 5 at 5pm, you told me that I can vote for President." True, I did tell him. PJ got to push the buttons in the Primary, Eric got to push the buttons for President.

I remember doing that when I was a kid. Those darn hanging chads on the punch ballots. But I did it too, so why not let them do it. It is my decision, they just feel like they have done something important. And this election year, it is very important that we all vote.

We got downtown and I forgot that the Apple Festival was going on. I had no intention of going to it, just find a spot to park and vote. I got it, one gentleman was in there already, no lines, no fuss, just hand them my driver's license and sign away. We got to one booth and I told Eric that he could come in there with me, she moved us to another one that had some more room for both of us. He went to hit the button and I say, "WAIT! Are you really sure you want to make that choice?" He knew I was kidding. And we voted for Obama/Biden. I feel comfortable about my pick. Of course I felt comfortable about voting for Bush twice, and look what happened there.

I wish I could find the Letter to the Editor in the NY Times that I read not too long ago. It was about how the dad looked at voting for Barack Obama was historical, for him that grew up in an era that was just coming out of segregation, to see the way that the blacks were treated while he was growing up. The son looked at him and said, "I don't see the big deal about voting for a black man." To kids like Eric, it isn't a big deal, even for me it isn't a big deal. I didn't grow up during segregation, I have friends that have. I didn't grow up in places like Mississippi that to this day, still have problems with black people in their area. There are places like that just down the road from me. Areas that just don't like anything else but ANGLO SAXON in their town. Too bad they are backwards. When I find the article I will post it on here. I think it is something all should read.

So, Eric and I got our stickers and left the building feeling like we did our duty. People fight for the chance to vote, we have it, and I know most of the people I work with are not even registered to vote. Even if you vote for Independant, at least you voted.

I sent out a text message on October 4th to all my Tennessee friends and family telling them all that if they aren't registered to do it. Of course, if they hadn't done it by then, they wouldn't have. But this is such a historical election, either way it goes, don't you want to be part of it. I know I do.

When we got in the car, a woman walked by us with an Obama shirt on, now before entering the building she had to button up her jacket. But I rolled down the window and told her I liked her shirt, she said she was going to go and vote, and I told her that we already did. "Good for you!" all that enthusiasm in her voice. I was surprised to see a woman, late 50's, voting for Obama. Living in such a conservative town, there are some rebels out there.

The next election, Eric won't be 18, so he can't vote. I know that he wants to, but that will have to wait until he is 21. At least we are raising them to vote for whomever they want to vote for, and that they understand all that each party offers.

The boys did get to vote on Nick.com, the kids have chosen the correct election results 4 out of the last 5 Presidential elections. That is pretty neat. Well, I mentioned to PJ about it, and he couldn't wait to get on there. We did, and all I heard, "I am voting for Obama." I told him that we have to read all that they offer and then you make your decision. He read everything, questioned a lot of things, and then decided that he did like Obama. He liked what Biden had to offer, smaller classrooms was the thing that got PJ to decide in that direction. When you have a classroom of 26 to 32, there is a problem somewhere. I am so glad they laid it out in terms that kids can understand. So, if you are a parent, and your child wants to vote, but they can't, go to www.nick.com and have them select their choice in President. Remember, this is their choice, not for you to sway them in either direction.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Decisions, Decisions, DECISIONS!

I got a call on Wednesday from Cleveland State Community College. I applied with them 5 months ago when I found out that I was terminated. I never heard back from them, so I thought that they filled the position and that I was on the very short list into the trash can.

I got in the car on a delivery and noticed a voicemail, listened to it, and found out that they are interested in me coming to take a keyboard test to see if I qualify for the position and take it a step further into the interview process.

I have been with Pizza Hut for nearly a little over 3 months. Yes, I love what I am doing, but right now the economy is slow and people are just not buying stuff like pizza and pasta. And if they do, they come and get it, gas has gone down and they don't like paying for someone to deliver it to them. Unless they live way out in the delivery area. It is easier on them that way.

I am 41 years old and I am one of the oldest people working there. I work with a bunch of kids or adults that think they are still kids. I am one of the few that has worked a real job and knows what is expected of people when they work a real job. To these people, this isn't a real job. They are late, they sit around, they goof off all the time, they forget that there is a call on hold, they read books while on the clock, they take time out for their friends while they are on the clock. Me, I am on time, I do all is asked of me, I have been called in many times and have been there without a problem. I also have learned the kitchen aspect, make the pizzas when needed, courteous to the customers, respectful to the people above me. I know what it is like to have to work a real job, this may be a layover for me, it may be my future, I don't know.

The past few weeks have been a little frustrating for me. I started training for the shift manager's position shortly after I started there. I thought this would be a good thing. The one girl that just turned 18 is training for it too, but she put it on hold for a while. She thought that she wouldn't get the respect that she deserves, so she postponed it. A few weeks ago the one shift manager got written up for the 2nd time for the same offense, 3 times and you are out of there. The other girl was so excited that she was gonna be promoted. Ok, that is fine. But I did ask about where I stood and turns out my boss, the training boss, decided that she did not want to train 2 people at once and I was put on the back burner until further notice. That is fine, I enjoy delivering.

Also at work I have been the target of, well, "bitchiness" from my boss. Now, we have known her for 6 years. Chuck worked under her when he first started, he has been friends with her the entire time. Even though he is a GM now, they still are friends. But, things change. Favoritism happens too. She fusses at me for things like not having a topper on my car, and if I don't, then I only get 1/2 of the driver reimbursement, or how about when Chuck needed the Jetta and I had to drive the MB for about 2 hours. She compares me to the little 18 year old and that I should work as hard as she does, but then again, she is handed all the overtime, even though I have said that I am always available to work when needed. I don't mind helping out, I do mind getting used as a doormat.

So, now back to the original topic. I get the phone call, ignore it, she calls me back wanting me to take the keyboard test on Friday, either at noon or 5. I explained to her that I work that day and I cannot make it, but thank you for considering me.

Yesterday, on a run, my phone rings, it is the same woman. She has rearranged the schedule and would like to know if I can be there Monday at noon for the keyboard test. Of course I will be there, thank you for the call. This shows that either they need someone to fill a position or they are interested in me. Either way, I will be there Monday at noon for this. I can ace this thing!

The thing is though, if I do well with this, I get an interview. But I have to think ahead with this. If I am interviewed and they like me and I am offered the job, then what? If the pay is good, then what? I like what I am doing, am I a door mat? No. I don't work many nights, I don't have to go into the bad areas a lot. I am always careful driving. My mom doesn't care for me working there, but right now, in a state that has 7% unemployment, it is a job. The bills are paid, the boys have clothes, we have food, and we still have our cars.

I know that working at the college, there isn't much room for advancement, but if they pay what I was making before, that is an option. Because a shift manager doesn't get paid what I was making before. Not by a long shot. But there is room for advancement from there. A Salary Asst Manager gets paid very nicely. I know this, because Chuck was on for a long time. BUT, under this manager, no one gets that far, you have to work under another GM to get the proper training, guess who that is.... CHUCK, and I can't work under him at all.

So, I don't know what to do. I don't know where to go. I know that this may not happen for me, but I have to take into consideration everything right now. I have to look into everything and I have to think about what is best for me and for the family. This other job is 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday, 8 - 5. Back to the old routine of life, living life to the alarm clock.

I will keep you updated on this.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A morning for exploring

I decided that since this morning was gonna be quiet around the house, Chuck had to go to work for a little while and the boys were at school, that I would take sometime to explore around the area that I have been before. But the leaves weren't changing yet and I didn't want to drive down there now, and then again in a few weeks.

Yesterday, before I took Eric to the Dr's for a checkup, we went to the Sock Outlet to get some more socks, at .50 a pair, you can't beat that. So, while driving down the road I spotted this, but I didn't have my camera with me, so I decided to drive down the road again today to see if it was still there and it was.

I had some time to explore a bit before I had to be at school for lunch with PJ, which is now once a week. So, I decided that I would head straight at the 4 way stop that I never get to go down. And I am so glad I did. Dry Valley is a farm area, very quiet area, and some great shots. Today was a gorgeous day, I didn't want to waste the day sewing, and I am so glad that I went for my little ride.

The first thing I noticed was the Farm Machinery sign, ok, I have to admit that you don't see very many of those around this area anymore. But what I really didn't expect was the entire area. It hasn't been hit by subdivisions or huge brand new homes. Everything out there were the old farm houses, or some trailers that just got planted there 40 years ago. I was amazed at what I saw.

I spotted several things that I wanted to take pictures of, but I wanted to drive a bit and then turn around. Yes, I was glad that I did. It was a quiet, peaceful road, I wasn't in any hurry and I wasn't being pushed down the road by a truck or someone that just needed to be in a hurry.

And a view from the other side

On my way out to where I was gonna actually turn around, I spotted this, rather sad I have to say. On the other side of the trailer that was on this property, I spotted a little shed, but someone was home in the trailer, and I already had the sheriff pass me 3 times, so I didn't want to take any chances with taking a pic of the shed. This is sad to see, so much of someone's past, just falling down around, and no one there to care or even to finish tearing it down. So, they let it come down in time.

There was so much to see, and I was running out of time. I had a very important date that I had to be there on time. So, a few more shots, here and there, looking through the lens of a camera gives me such a new way to see things. To me they are no more buildings that are falling down, to me I see it as someone's life. Someone built that barn, that shed, someone worked on that tractor, someone worked day and night to make a living. And in comes the people that want it all gone to make the area more welcoming, more accepting, prettier with pretty houses, perfectly manicured lawns and flowers. To me, this is the stuff that is pretty. The open fields, the barns that had a life moving through it at one point. The other is to show that someone has money or they can live beyond their means, the latter is the people that worked for a real living, that lived within their means, that made things with their own hands. That is to be admired.

This is the only farm that I saw that I think is still operating. Considering the Farm Machinery crossing sign was right before I got to this farm. It is still in pretty good condition, I didn't see any sign of life, but right around the corner was a bunch of cows. Funny, seeing cows in Cleveland anymore is a rarity. But this is the last picture that I took for the day. I probably could have gone on longer, I think the next nice day that I have next week, I will take advantage of the longer ride, the changing colors, the view from the past, the life that was there way before I was there. And since gas has fallen to below $3 a gallon, I think I can spare a few dollars for a moment of peace and a time for reflection.

Time hits everything. Nothing is sacred from getting old. The past is all around us, we just have to open our eyes and see what was there before we got there.

I was parked taking a picture of the long shed, I didn't want to get to close because I don't know how stable the area was under it. I went around the back of the car to take a picture across the street of the operating farm, and here were the locks and bolts, haven't been touched in years, left there to rust, left there because someone just walked away from their life, foreclosure, relocation, death. Time touches us all at one point or another, time touches us all, in some form or another. Time touches everything, leaves nothing in it's path that it doesn't touch.

Monday, October 13, 2008

One Project completed

I have been so busy with work that for me to sit down and sew is just a challenge. I have gotten some patterns in the mail to quilt on, just finding the time, or more like the energy to do any of them, well, I just haven't had any luck with time or energy here lately.

I thought that if I took this job, I would be home more. Ok, I started out being home about 2 hours a week more, with delivering, you don't get out on time unless you are just so slow. That first few weeks, it was more like 42 hours a week. Since the economy has taken a downturn, we have been very slow, and now I am cut back to 32hours a week. Not good. I would rather work more hours to get more deliveries in, but it hasn't happened yet. That is one thing in this business, if it is slow, you get cut and go home. I don't like that, but it is part of it and eventually it does hurt, but it will pick up too.

I also thought that when I took this job I would have more time to work on projects, to clean house, or to make things. Yeah, no, that doesn't happen a whole lot. I feel that if I am home with Chuck, getting on the sewing machine isn't really fair. So, I don't do that much when he is home. That time is time for us alone, no kids and I guess I need that time to relax some more.

Over the summer the locally owned fabric store went out of business. Good thing she did at that time, because now she would have been really hard hit. She was opened for one year and had some good times, but ultimately, she just couldn't take the financial hit anymore. I got there when the pickins weren't so slim, and I found this material. Oh how I love it, just wondering what to make with it.

Last year when Hancock was going out of business, my neighbor spotted this little patterns. I bought them for a $1 each and they sat there until this year, when I decided to make some of them. I am still learning some things, so it does take me a little longer to figure things out.

I got 2 or 3 done and then realized that I don't know how to applique, and I have to learn how to make the rest of them. I thought about making scented trivets out of these, how cute would that be!

While I was over at Christie's when she was going out of business, I saw this pattern. Now, if you have a black and white kitchen, let me know. I do believe I can make this out of the black and white material that I bought.

So, now on to the one project that I have gotten completed. I have never ever done the quilting that is on a preprinted fabric. So, when I ordered this stuff from Keepsake, I figured it wouldn't be too hard and would be good for a beginner like me. I loved the 4 that I did get and want more. But I started on the one, and I had a time with it. I didn't read the instructions, you know the thing always say read instructions before doing anything. I washed the material like it said to do, but when it came to the batting, and putting it all together, I didn't do it right, not only the first time, but the second time too. Finally, I did it right. Now to sew it for the third time. And I did it, turned it and sewed the opening closed. That was a challege too, 2 times it took me to get it right. It didn't go well for me on this one.

I don't have a walking foot for my machine, so, it makes it a little harder to quilt without it moving, and trust me, with batting this stuff moves. I thought that quilting it would make it nicer, make the pattern "pop" more. Make it look like a quilt. I could have tied it, but that wouldn't have been a challenge for me. I like some challenges. And this was one for me.

I am really inexperienced in quiliting, so this is a learning process for me. And if you ever get something like this as a gift from me, just look as it was made out of love. I will get better as I do more of this.
If I could have gotten a picture of the fabric closer, you all would be able to see that the purple as all kinds of cats on it. I didn't notice it, my neighbor pointed it out to me. I thought it was so cool. I wish I could have gotten a better shot of it.

Now, this is good material. They don't sell this stuff at Walmart. My neighbor told me that this stuff goes for about $9 a yard. Wow! I don't ever buy that stuff! I find stuff on sale, I am kinda picky about that. I know that buying good material produces a nice quilt, so it is smart to either buy the stuff in a kit, that way I have everything.

I love the back of this quilt. The pattern is so pretty

There are some parts that it moved on me, and I made a few mistakes. But I think this is really cute. I am happy with it. It is a little throw or a wall hanging, or just something over the couch or chair. I don't know what it really it. I like it though.

So, that is one thing done. I think tomorrow I will look at the patterns for the place mats. I have everything for it and I have the time alone too. So, breakfast with Chuck, lunch with PJ, dinner of Chicken Enchiladas with all of us, and sometime in between to cut and read patterns.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I don't understand

What don't I understand? Well, it isn't about the economy or the election. It isn't about world issues or things like that. It is simple, it really is, why is it that people can't make a healthy meal for dinner?

I was talking to Chuck last week about dinners and that I was getting tired of the same things, burgers, hotdogs, chicken, Subway, and Pizza Hut (ew!) I am tired of bringing something home that is not good for me anyways. Now, granted, we were without a fridge for a total of about 20 days. So making dinners was a challenge. I needed to make things that didn't produce leftovers, because I had no way of storing them.

I have searched and searched through all my books and the internet for things that I know the family will like. So, 2 weeks ago I made a healthy dinner in less than 30 minutes, thank you Rachael Ray! And then the meal that I made this week, well, boiling the water for the pasta took the longest. How hard is it to open a can of tomoatoes and open a bag of grilled chicken strips? Not really. Made a delicious, once again, healthy dinner in less than 15 minutes.

Tonight I have to work until 7. I don't want the boys to have to eat something that isn't good for them. So, I found a recipe that was way too easy to make. Actually, all I had to do was brown the ground beef. It is a dip, but it sounded pretty good. It is ground beef, velvetta, Rotel tomatoes and some cumin. That is it, nothing else. Brown the ground beef, and Eric has to put it in the crock pot, along with everything else, cook on high for 30 minutes and dinner is done. Serve with tortilla chips, that is all there is to it. They will like it, doesn't sound too bad. Everything in one pot, but it has everything in it too. Beef, dairy, vegetables, starch.

Now that Fall is here, I can use the crockpot more. I love my crockpot, not as much as the Crockpot Lady. But when I can use it, I do. It makes a meal for the boys when I am running late, it makes a meal for all of us, without me having to stand in the kitchen all day long. Also, I have 2 Rachael Ray's books, so I can have dinner on the table in 30 minutes.

With the age of the internet, there is no reason why we can't have good meals on the table without sacraficing time. There are meals that are for people on a budget and they are healthy stuff. Not junk.

I may just start putting the recipes that I have been using on my blog. I tried that once before and got side tracked. But for those of you out there that don't cook, this stuff is easy to make!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Damn It, It is still LEAKING!

Nuff Said, nothing else. Take it to the back and put it out of our misery!
Sorry to offend!

Field Trippin

Oh yeah, I went on the best field trip that I have ever been on with either one of the boys, EVER!

Ok, we got to school and I decided that since I was going, I would drive. And lil ole me got to drive the sexy red MB! I thought it would be nice to take PJ's friend's dad with me too. That way we both didn't have to spend the gas money, and we didn't have to drive with the snooty moms either.

We take off before the bus, get half way through Knoxville and thought I was going in the wrong direction. Turn around, get all the way to Loudon and realized I was heading the right way after all. I thought I knew where this place was, turns out I did. I just forgot that I 40E leads you to I 75 N, heading to Lexington. We did get there eventually, about 10 minutes after the bus got there, so we didn't miss anything.

We went to the Museum of Appalachia in Norris TN. It has been around for years and is a great place for a field trip, and a great place to go back to take Eric one day. I really wish the leaves were changing, but they weren't. The weather was perfect and the kids were great.

We were greeted with the woman playing the fiddle. She was an excellent story teller.

We walked by this amazing fireplace on the way it.

She had the children come up and pick-a-pocket. Each one had different things in it to make a story. She explained that since they didn't have a good way of keeping their stories, they would make up a song.

She had several of the children up there. They would put on hats and they would help make up parts of the songs.

This was a time when they made up the instruments. They had washboards, spoons, and a washtub that actually made a bass. It was funny. The kids had a blast and all of us really enjoyed the fun that they provided

Our storyteller would tell us about the things around the room. Like the auger that was against the wall. Or how about this one:

Apparently Granny Toothman didn't waste a single hair from anything. She made things from even the tongue of a whale. Gross, but they had to be resourceful. They were smart, they used everything that came their way, because this was all they had. They didn't have the modern things that we have today.

The boys collected their paper for the scavenger hunt they had to do. They had to answer 10 questions to get extra credit. And then we were off.

There were about 35 different exhibits that we had to travel through. We spent the most time in the Hall of Fame and the Discovery House. The Hall of Fame held the artifacts of people that lived in Appalachia and actually became famous, Sgt Alvin York was one of them. They had a guitar from Roy Acuff, and many other things that the boys did not find the least bit interesting.

The Discovery House was a different story, they loved it. When they got inside and started "discovering" what was back then, they didn't want to leave. We spent more time there than any other place.

They saw the spear and arrowheads, the tools that they used to make everything with. Me, well the quilts were amazing to me.

This place was full of things that you wouldn't imagine. It was the stuff that they collected from all over. Now, what I didn't realize until I got further into this place, was that they moved houses, churches and schools from different parts of Appalachia to make this musuem what it is today. I can't imagine the time that went into all of thisI would love to show all the pics, but I can't. There are most of them on the slideshow. Please click and visit.

Anyway we traveled upstairs, past the quilts and found so many unique and interesting things. I noticed that they had several player pianos or pump pianos. That was a form of entertainment for them when they went out, very rarely was that.

While upstairs one of the little girls in PJ's class stopped to show me something. She was so amazed by this, that she didn't stop talking about it. I love to see that kind of enthusiasm in children. But she showed me this Matchstick Chapel. It was made entirely from matchsticks. Of course they didn't have radios, tvs or computers, so their form of entertainment was a hobby that they picked up. Like I said, some quilted, some made toys,
some made Matchstick Chapels.

PJ went around one corner that he wasn't supposed to and found a butter churn. We all have seen butter churns and to me it was no big deal. I need to let him churn some butter one day. He won't ever complain again. But downstairs, this caught my eye,

On the way out I spotted this, how the boys missed it is beyond me. It was their post office. Now we all remember Little House on the Prairie, this looked just like what was in that show.

It was getting close to lunch time and I didn't want to get into another part and then haul it back for lunch, so we turned around and headed back to the pavillion. Now, let me stop here and say this, if I had KNOWN that they served lunch here, I would have gotten it. This man walked by me with cream corn, new potatoes, corn bread and homemade chicken and dumplings!!!!! Oh man, here I am eating a turkey sandwich, snacking on fig newtons. NUTS! Plus, if I got that, PJ would be all over it!
It felt like a wonderful Fall day. The breeze was blowing cool air, the sun was just strong enough to be warm, the air was fresh and clean. It was a perfect day for all of us to be out there, in light weight jackets, not sweating, just comfortable.

Ok, now we started our scavenger hunt after lunch. The questions were things like, "In the Arnwine Cabin, they used this for cooking______" There were a list of words to pick from, things like iron stove, smokehouse, fireplace. Well, the boys got a little ahead of themselves and wrote down answers before we got there.

I thought that it would take us longer to see the rest of the houses, but it didn't. All it was, you walk in, if allowed and then you take the path to the next house. Mark Twain's house, Daniel Boone's house, the Whiskey Still used during Prohibition, Big Tater Valley School house, the church, the house that showed they actually had some form of money, the original pictures on the walls, the original needlepoint. All of this amazed me, the boys thought it was too cool too.

The church was amazing, along with the school house. The books, original hymnals,
the pews where they sat, the benches where they learned, the distration out the windows,where the teacher stood all just enthralled me. But what really amazed me was how both of the boys really showed an interest in this trip. That was wonderful to see.

We got done early and headed back to the pavillion where the teacher was at. She told us that we had enough time to do whatever we wanted and then we would spend time in the gift shop. Those 2 boys begged and begged to go back through one more quick time. And, so we did.

This trip through the Discovery House, I noticed this, how I missed it the first time, I don't know.

Our next stop was the People's Church. Strange little place, in my very humble opinion. They taught the hell, fire and brimstone from this place. But they had other things in there too. Rather different, but it was part of the tour.

We missed some questions on the paper, and decided to head to the cabin that had several answers. Apparently General Bunch was well off, he had a larger than normal house, garden and smokehouse. I am sure there were others that would have loved to have that stuff.He had pantries full of food, a hutch of some sorts and a quilt loom over the table. you can see it over the table.
I had to explain to the boys that the people then were smaller in stature than we are today, they weren't as wide either. They rode bikes, if they had the money for one, they played outside all the time, and they did their chores, not just sweeping the floor. It was things like milking the cow, chopping wood, cleaning out the pig sty, collecting eggs, churning butter. They had to help out around the house, the mother stayed home, but that doesn't mean she had time to do it all.

If I went through all 35 houses on this blog, I would be here forever. But it is long enough as it is. I took 165 pictures in all. Didn't realize that I did. Spent $87 in the gift shop. Some things for Christmas, some things for fun, some things that I just wanted. I bought Eric a Civil War puzzle in a bottle, handmade woven coasters, 2 rubber band guns for the boys (they had a blast with them last night), a cookbook for me (can't go up there and not buy one), and a few other things that caught my eye.

PJ and I needed something to drink before we left, so we headed to the snack shop and got a diet coke and coke in the glass bottles. The woman said that the bottle opener was on the machine. Yep, I should have gotten a pic of that. I remember my step great-grandfather having one of those in his little store. PJ was amazed at how I knew how to use that thing.

We left with our fellow riders and headed home. It was an awesome trip. I learned so much. Growing up in New Jersey, you don't learn things like that. We learned about the Appalachian Mountains, only because of geography, we didn't learn about the people that lived there. We didn't learn about Appalachia and the states that was considered Appalachia. We learned about the Northern things, never anything about the South, only that the South lost the Civil War. I am so sorry that I missed out on this stuff growing up, but I have the chance now to learn new things. And this trip was amazing. The children were WONDERFUL, the time was fun, the step back in time was an eye opener.

One last picture. I am still learning to take different things, loving life through the camera lens.

There were dates on everything that they had. But what amazed me is that people lived this way up until the 1940's, 68 years ago. A time that we thought they lived a little better. But in Appalachia, this was the norm. My parents lived in a house with electricity in the 40's. They had gas heat, they had radios, so to see that they lived like this up until this point, well, it floored me. Growing up, I thought that it was all like it was up North, I lived in a shell, I thought every place was as advanced as we were in middle part of the century. It wasn't, people didn't have electricity in some places, they kept warm by the fireplace, cooked in a cast iron pot directly in the fire. Such a wonderful history lesson for me. I can't wait to take Eric up there now!

Thank you for enduring the journey. I really hope you enjoy the pictures.