Tuesday, March 31

Top Ten Tuesday: Spam Subjects

I don't clean out my spam folder very often. Overall, Gmail does a pretty good job of figuring out which e-mails are actually for me and which just want to infect me with a virus or swindle me out of some cash. I do try to skim through the subjects before I trash the lot of them, though, as once in a while honest-to-goodness messages from friends get lost amidst the muck. Since I was reading them anyway, I thought I'd share some of the more amusing ones with you. My comments are in italics.

Top 10 Funniest E-mail Subjects
  1. You passed me bad money
  2. Sorry, next time I'll call a running play.
  3. Thank you so much for your patience and good customer service
  4. Does this mean I'm forgiven for the bad money thing?
  5. The cause for that is that all our replica watches are crafted from one
  6. I find it a bit odd that there's no mention of one WHAT.
  7. Information for plastic card holders
  8. Are those like the little photo holders that come with new wallets?
  9. We are responsible for your satisfying health condition
  10. Gee, I thought it was because I was eating better and exercising more. Silly me.
  11. Important guys are funny here
  12. Actually, I find many important guys funny, especially after a certain time of night and when introduced by Jay Leno.
  13. Our best decision is suitable for every age
  14. You tell me yours, and I'll tell you mine.
  15. Get any soft you need without delays
  16. It's funny, many of the subject lines said just the opposite ...
  17. You do not risk at all
  18. Riiiiight.
  19. We do not throw the words just to fill your e-mail box
  20. No, you're hoping to empty my bank account while you're at it. Thanks anyway.
If you want to play along, leave a link to your Top 10 list in the comments.

Sunday, March 29

Daughter of Laughter

Today would have been my mom's 66th birthday. She died just three months after her 49th. Her first grandchild was born a month later.

When I think of my mom, I think of big dangley clip-on earrings. I think of painted fingernails and tea with honey. I remember homemade birthday cakes that she and my dad painstakingly decorated with their Wilton decorator set. Every Saturday night we had homemade pizzas. Each of us got to make our own with ground beef and onions or mushrooms and olives or just plain cheese, the way I still like my pizza best.

One of my favorite memories, though, is of Mom's famous giggle fits. Every once in a while, something would strike her funny bone and she'd start to laugh and laugh and laugh some more. It was infectious. We would all start laughing, too. Then the kids, my brother, sister, and I, would all gather around and sing-song together, "Mama's having a giggle fit. Mama's having a giggle fit." Usually, our teasing would just set off another new wave of uncontrollable laughter.

I often wonder what heaven is like, whether Mom can see us here on earth or maybe we're already there with her. In any case, I like to think of her in heaven just laughing and laughing and laughing, so much that we all can't help but join in with her.

Saturday, March 28

Happy Tuesday!

Oh, wait, that's right. It's Saturday out in the rest of the world, isn't it?

Well, today is Tuesday here. Because of Adam's new hours, our work week now starts on Friday, so Friday feels like Monday, Saturday seems like Tuesday, and so forth. It makes for some very confusing days. The one thing I really like about this schedule is that our "weekend" is in the middle of the week, during normal business hours. Making appointments to see the dentist or get an oil change so as not to take time off work couldn't be simpler. The grocery stores are rarely crowded on Thursday afternoon.

I've seen some downsides as well, though. For one, most social events are scheduled during Adam's working hours. For another, so are most church services. We'd already been struggling to find a church where we really seem to fit, and now we have one more hurdle in the process. Adam and I were talking about where we'd like to go to church this week. I told him, "It's times like this I really miss Willow Creek and their Thursday night family services."

I keep threatening to start our own house church. Whenever I do, though, Adam asks where we'd put the people. I figure we can fit 12 adults: 3 on the couch, 1 on the rocking chair, 1 on the desk chair, 4 on the dining room chairs, 2 on the piano bench, and 1 standing to lead. The children's program can meet in our daughter's bedroom. It could work.

Friday, March 27

Hints of Pink Purse

Materials Used
Color A: Red Heart Super Saver Yarn in Royal (approx. 2.5 oz)
Color B: Caron Simply Soft Yarn in Rose (approx. 1.5 oz.)
I crochet hook (5.5 mm)
Stitch marker

13 sc in A = 4”
13 sc rows in A = 4”

Finished Flat Size
6¾" high
7½" long
25" strap (measured end to end)

Special Stitches
honeycomb stitch (hc): slip hook into remaining loop of st in the previous same-color row and front loop only of the adjacent st in contrasting-color row, yo and pull loop through to front, yo and pull through both loops on the hook
backstitch single crochet (bsc): holding yarn to the front of work, slip hook into stitch from the back, yo and pull loop through to back, yo and pull through both loops on the hook
single crochet 2 together (sc2tog): *slip hook into next stitch, yo and pull loop through stitch onto hook* repeat once, yo and pull through all loops on hook
foundation single crochet (fsc): click on link for futuregirl’s fantastic tutorial.
back slip stitch (bsl): holding yarn to the front of work, slip hook into stitch from the back, yo and pull loop through to back and through loop on the hook

Foundation Rows
In A: ch 30, remove hook from loop and place stitch marker in loop to keep loop open. Turn work over.
In B: beginning with a loop of B on hook, sc in the bottom loop of each ch (the underside of the stitch). Remove hook from loop and place stitch marker in loop to keep loop open.

Note: At the end of each round, remove hook from loop, keeping it open with a stitch marker.

Round 1: With A, ch 1, sc in back loop of ea chain in A across. Turn and sc in remaining loops of A across. (60 sts)
Round 2: With B, ch 1, sc through back loop of ea sc in B and front loop of adjacent sc in A around. (60 sts)
Round 3: With A, hc around.
Round 4: With B, hc around.
Rounds 5-36: Repeat rounds 3 & 4, tying off B at end of round 36.
Round 37: With A, sc through remaining loop of ea sc in A and BOTH LOOPS of adjacent sc in B around. Ch 1, but do not turn.

Flap and Strap
Note: Flap and strap are worked in A only. Do not turn work at end of row unless specified.

Row 1: Sc 28 across back of purse. Ch 1. (28 sts)
Row 2: Bsc 28 across. Ch 1.
Rows 3-8: Repeat rows 1 & 2.
Row 9: Sc in first sc, sc2tog twice, sc 18, sc2tog twice, sc in last sc. Ch 1. (24 sts)
Row 10: Bsc across. Ch 1.
Row 11: Sc in first sc, sc2tog twice, sc 14, sc2tog twice, sc in last sc. Ch 1. (20 sts)
Row 12: Repeat row 10.
Row 13: Sc in first sc, sc2tog twice, sc 10, sc2tog twice, sc in last sc. Ch 1. (16 sts)
Row 14: Repeat row 10.
Row 15: Sc in first sc, sc2tog, sc 10, sc2tog, sc in last sc. Ch 1. (14 sts)
Row 16: Repeat row 10.
Row 17: Sc in first sc, sc2tog, sc 8, sc2tog, sc in last sc. Ch 1. (12 sts)
Row 18: Repeat row 10.
Row 20: Sc 5, ch 2, skip next 2 sc, sc across.
Working down along edge of flap, place 1 sc in each row end to top of body.
Sc 2 along top of body, fsc 72 to form strap, attaching with 2 sc along top of body at opposite end.
With right side of flap facing you, work up along edge of flap, placing 1 sc in each row end to top.
Row 21: Bsl in ea of first 5 sc, ch 3, skip ch 2 space, Bsl in ea of last 5 sc. Turn.
Row 22: Slst in ea of first 5 bsl. In ch 3 loop, sc 2, ch 3, sc 2. Slst in ea of last 5 bsl.
Tie off and weave in ends.

In B: Wrap yarn around finger to form two-stranded ring. In ring, make 3 sc along back edge. Leaving a loop of both strands, turn and work 3 sc along front edge. Tie off, leaving several inches on one end. Pull one strand from each side to shape button. Pull loops together and wrap with remaining length of yarn to stabilize shank. Weave in ends. Attach button in center front of body, up 6-8 rows from the bottom.

Drumroll, Please

Thanks to all of you entered my 400th post contest. The winner of my pink and blue handiwork is ...

Congratulations, Lillian!

For those of you who didn't win this time around, I have written up the pattern so you can make one for yourself. I'll post it later today.

Thursday, March 26

Last Chance

Win me!

I just wanted to remind you all that I'm closing entries for the Hints of Pink purse at 10:00 tonight. I've only got a few comments at this point, so you're chances of winning are pretty decent. Visit the contest page for details and instructions. You can't win if you don't enter!

Wednesday, March 25

Supporting Those Who Grieve

The anniversary of my mom's birthday is coming up. It's not a memorial that hits me every year, but some more than others. I have visited a grief and loss discussion board over the past few weeks and I've realized that there are a lot of people who are completely stymied by the thought of dealing with a grieving friend, family member, or co-worker. I thought I'd share a little bit of what I have found through several experiences grieving my own loved ones.

First off, despite the way it sometimes seems, if your condolences are simple, it's hard to go wrong. The most important thing is expressing that you care. Even if it's just a note card saying, "I'm sorry for your loss." In fact, if you don't know what to say, that's a really useful phrase to learn.

Second, let the grieving person lead the way. What I mean is, if you say you're sorry and I smile and ask how you're doing, answer me. Just because I'm grieving doesn't mean I'm consumed by it every waking moment. I can have fun or be interested in other things. Often, I need to be. Sometimes, I really want to talk about how much I miss the person who is gone. Sometimes it's nice to hear about how much my loved one blessed your life. If I'm asking about your golf game, though, it's probably not that time.

Third, please don't try to offer excuses or pithy little sayings. I know God is in control and there's no more pain in heaven, and I'll see them again when I die. These are not things of which I need to be reminded. And, especially, don't explain how it's better this way. In the midst of my grief, I'm not prepared to listen to theology, philosophy, or logic. If you think what you're planning to say may be a little iffy, remember the old stand-by, (practice with me) "I'm sorry for your loss."

Finally, remember that there is no time limit on grief. I will never get over the loss of someone I love. Sure, it gets easier. I'm not crying every day about my mom's death 16 years ago, but there are days when I still do cry. I ask God why He had to take her. I don't understand. I don't believe I ever will, at least, not this side of eternity. Grieving is a process. For some it takes longer than others. If you are concerned for the health and welfare of a friend or family member, it may be appropriate to recommend a professional counselor. Don't assume, however, that just because I'm moving on with life and getting done what needs to be done that I may not still be hurting inside. This is especially true as important dates roll around: birthdays, holidays, anniversaries.

One of the things I will always remember is the first Mother's Day after my mom died: I was a senior in high school and one of the church youth group leaders gave me a bouquet of flowers. I asked her why and she told me she'd figured I could use something a bit special that day. I doubt she has any idea how much that meant to me.

P.S. I forgot to mention that it's always a good idea to be in prayer for those who are grieving. You can choose to tell them that or not. But please don't just say, "I'll pray for you," and then not follow through. Write it on your hand or stick a Post-It to your computer monitor, but make sure your actions line up with your words. Thank you.

Monday, March 23

Lonely at the Top

Do you know what happens when you google the terms "experience" and "imagination"?

Check it out.

Now if I could just figure out how to get people to type "experience" and "imagination" into Google in the first place ...


Don't forget to enter my giveaway for this crocheted purse!

Sunday, March 22


I have this theory that I can crochet socks. It's probably inspired by a book I got for my birthday, aptly named You Can Crochet Socks. Except, darned if I can't (no pun intended).

I've started at least three of the patterns, but either I'm reading them wrong or they weren't written very well in the first place because I have yet to turn out an actual wearable sock, much less a pair of them. Meanwhile, my feet have been cold all winter.

Maybe I should just suck it up and try knitting again. Knitting just seems so much less forgiving than crochet. If I make an error while I'm crocheting, I'll just rip out a row or two and fix my mistake. Knitting doesn't work that way, though. I have been reading about this technique where you knit two socks at once ... that could be useful.

Anybody else go from crochet to knitting? Any tips?


Don't forget to enter my giveaway for this crocheted purse!

Saturday, March 21

Luck o' the Irish?

If only this had happened a few days earlier ...

Lately our daughter has been getting into letters and reading. She'll call out the letters she sees printed on a book or magazine or advertising circular and ask what they spell. She's been vaguely interested in letters for a couple of months now, but I think she was really motivated by watching Akeela and the Bee a couple of weeks ago.

Once in a while, I'll spell words back to her, either one she knows (M-A-M-I-E, D-A-D-D-Y, etc.) or one I think she may be able to figure out. Last night we had pizza for dinner. After we'd eaten, she was looking at a paperback book I'd been reading. She started asking what the words on the cover spelled. I told her, then asked if she knew what word I was spelling: P-I-Z-Z-A.

Her immediate response?



Don't forget to enter my giveaway for this crocheted purse!

Friday, March 20

Four Hundred

Welcome to my 400th blog post!

I apologize for the delay; I was unable to publish for a few days as my computer was recovering from a minor keyboard flood. I've managed to pull back into action an old keyboard I found packed away in a box. I am ecstatic to be able to type spaces again, but I'm finding it a bit tough to get used to the feel of this configuration. It's an old Dell keyboard from the late 1990s and every time I press a key, it clicks. Oddly unnerving.

To celebrate the bits of spring that are starting to appear outside, I designed this navy and pink crocheted purse. I call it "Hints of Pink." In honor of my 400th post, I have decided to give it away to one lucky reader. I am opening this contest to everyone, regardless of location, so those of you who live outside the US may enter as well. Click on any photos to view a larger image.

The purse is worked in the honeycomb stitch, so bits of the crocheted pink lining (right) show though the fabric on the outside. Note: Photos of the whole purse (left and above) were taken with the purse full.

The button is crocheted (far left) from the same pink yarn and can fit in any of three button holes (left). The purse measures approximately 7" high and 8" long, flat. The strap is about 25" from end to end, but will stretch out nearly as far as 36".

How to Enter

Tell me your favorite springtime memory or tradition. You can simply leave a comment on this post for a single entry, however, if you'd prefer to write a post on your own blog and link to this page, you can do that, too, and earn an extra entry for your trouble. Just leave me a second comment with a link to your post. The deadline for entries is this coming Thursday, March 26th at 10:00 PM, CDT.

Sunday, March 15

Children's Books

I added a couple more books from the Ramona series that I've been reading aloud to my daughter to my 2009 Reading List.
My daughter has really been enjoying reading the books, even though I'm pretty sure she doesn't quite understand a lot of things. She keeps asking to read more, so I can't complain. She has even started "reading" to me by finding a picture or opening to a random page and making up the story.

Saturday, March 14

Breakfast or Breakfast for Dinner

I don't remember ever eating breakfast casseroles when I was a kid. I first had this one a couple of years ago. It was so delicious I asked my friend for the recipe. Since then, I've discovered it's a very versatile dish. This version is my stand-by, though, since we nearly always have the ingredients around.

2 slices of bread, any variety
½ lb bulk sausage
1 small onion
1 c spinach, well packed
5 eggs
1 c milk
1 small potato
½ c shredded or crumbled cheese
  • Cut bread into ½” cubes.
  • Brown sausage and drain well, reserving 1t grease.
  • Dice onion. Cook in reserved grease over medium-high heat until translucent, adding spinach for the last 2-3 minutes.
  • Beat together eggs and milk.
  • Shred potato into bottom of 8 x 8 baking dish.
  • Layer half the spinach, onions, bacon, and bread. Repeat with remaining half.
  • Pour egg mixture over layers. Press bread cubes into egg mixture until fully soaked.
  • Spread cheese over top of casserole.
  • Bake uncovered at 350° 50-55 minutes, until center is set and edges are browned.

Friday, March 13

Have I Told You Lately ...

... that I love my library? I've started figuring out their online reserve system here (it only took me five months) and it's great. I find a book I want and I can add it to my list. If I want a book right away, I can place a hold on it and the library system will send it from wherever it started out to my local branch, usually within a day or two.

Ooh, and then there are the DVDs. How much more can you ask for than unlimited free DVDs? We have had one or two (or four) that have had some scratches, but for the most part they've played as well as those you would rent from a national chain at nearly $5 a pop--and we get them for a whole week!

I also have free online access to hundreds of audio books, language-learning programs, classic films, children's videos, and research databases. Some of them even allow me to download material and burn it to CD.

Sigh. How did I ever manage for so many years without a library card?

Thursday, March 12

I Completely Forgot

I never told you all how date night went, did I? I decided to take myself a little bloggy vacation and left my poor readers hanging, just wondering what we saw and how we liked it. Sorry.

After extensive searching, I discovered we have four movie theaters in town. Two show first-run films (pretty much the same first run films), one shows second or third run films (as in, by the time they get to the $3.00 theater, they've already been released on DVD), and the other is an IMAX theater that's part of the science museum.

Since the movie I really wanted to see at the $3.00 show had no showtimes after 5:00, I decided we'd go to the cheaper of the two first-run theaters and see the only movie I was remotely interested in there: Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

Eh, it was pretty good. As good as I had expected from a movie called Paul Blart: Mall Cop and starring Kevin James. The story was kind of cute and it made me laugh. Adam felt that the running jokes about being overweight lasted entirely too long into the movie. I thought they did a disservice to people who actually have hypoglycemia (they show him continually eating sugary snacks). There was a bit of a plot twist toward the end and we disagreed whether it was a planned execution or simply an act of opportunism. It's not a film I'd pay to see money again, but if a friend was showing it for movie night, I might go.

Our original plan had been to have dinner after the movie, but the timing didn't work out very well. We'd had a late lunch, so we just went for coffee before the movie and shared a big bucket of popcorn for supper. Healthy? Well, no. Tasty? Oh, yeah!

We definitely need to do this again. Date night should not be only a twice-a-year experience!

Wednesday, March 11

Wanna Win a Free Tee?

Michelle over at Psalm 104:24 is hosting a giveaway to celebrate her 100th post! Michelle designs two different T-shirt lines: Little Earth Angels, celebrating natural family living, and Hippie Love Child, where she encourages "labeling" our children in positive ways.

She's offering an entry for a free custom tie-dye from either site to anyone who comments on this post.

Good luck!

Tuesday, March 10

WFMW: Cinderella's Closet

We all like free stuff, right? How about free clothes? My aunt came up with this fabulous idea several years ago and she named it Cinderella's Closet.

Basically, it's just a big clothing swap. Gather your friends (it helps if you all wear a similar size, but this can work even if you don't, so long as you have enough people) and tell them to dig through their closets. You can include clothes, shoes, even accessories, if you'd like. For each item you bring, you may take one item home. If you have a big group, you may want to pass out tags as people arrive so everyone remembers how many things they brought.

Let everybody browse through the clothes and choose some items they'd like to bring home. Make sure you have a private changing area available. Once everyone is satisfied with their trades, all the leftover items can be donated to Goodwill or the charity of your choice.

I've done this two or three times. While I always take fewer items home than I've brought with me, I have found it's a great way to clear out my closet. How often do you find something good for you, good for your friends, and good for the less fortunate? Cinderella's Closet works for me!

See more tips and techniques at the new home of Works for Me Wednesday, We Are THAT Family.

Here with the Wind

Now that winter is almost gone, I'm finally getting some pictures of the thermal gear I made for my family this winter. Here is the set I made for Adam. It uses the honeycomb stitch (I've also heard it called the "thermal stitch") which produces a double-layered fabric for extra insulation. This also provides better protection against the wind than standard knit or crochet. Have I mentioned how strong the wind gets here? I'll have to tell that story in a minute. The embellishment is double crochet through the front and back posts with a second layer of single crochet on the inside to keep the thermal and wind-blocking properties. The back of the muff is a double layer of single crochet through the back loop only, stitched in a circle around the edge of the front panel.

As for my South Dakota wind story: One afternoon, shortly after we moved here, we were coming out of Panera after lunch. The wind was blowing so hard, I actually had to press into it to walk. Adam was walking a few paces in front of me and our daughter was between us. Each time she picked her foot up to take another step I worried that the wind would just pick her up and blow her away like the queue of potential nannies in the movie version of Mary Poppins. I called out to Adam (several times before he heard me) to please take her hand and hold tightly. He turned his head slightly to take her hand and the wind whipped his glasses from his face. Like the iconic scene of a man chasing his hat, reaching down to retrieve it only to have the wind send it a few feet farther on, he had to follow his glasses across the parking lot, daughter in tow, before he was able to reclaim them. He set them back on the bridge of his nose and quipped, "And they call Chicago the Windy City!"

Monday, March 9

Phones and Graphs and Other Linguistic Miscellany

While I was on blogging hiatus, I missed National Grammar Day. I'm aghast. However could I let this happen? I must post about grammar today to make up for it.

Two of my favoritest* things in the construction of languages are homophones and homographs. In case you don't remember your elementary grammar, homophones are words that are spelled differently but pronounced in the same way, while homographs are words that are spelled identically but pronounced differently. "Here" and "hear" are homophones. "Bass" (the fish) and "bass" (the instrument) are homographs.

I had a friend in college who was an ESL teacher. Actually, through the years, I've had several friends who taught ESL, but this one teacher was telling me how difficult it was for her to clarify some things about English to her students. She told me they'd spent one entire class session in a spontaneous discussion of animals and phrases which use animal terms. Consider trying to explain the differences, for example, among the idioms "bullheaded," "bully," "hung like a bull," "bullish," "a load of bull," and "like a bull in a china shop"? That discussion alone could cover a whole period!

While we're at it, if you're into grammar, let me recommend the book Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. I got the book from my father who'd been given multiple copies by various colleagues. Clearly, being a grammar snob runs in the family.

Happy Belated National Grammar Day, everyone!

*Yes, I know "favoritest" is a grammatically impossible term. I'm going for irony here, folks. Bare with me (hee hee hee).

Sunday, March 8

A Timely Post

Did everybody remember to set their clocks ahead? Doesn't it seem like summer is just headed for us at a crazy fast speed this year?

I remember my dad explaining this theory to me once that the reason time seems to move faster as you get older is because each moment, day, year represents a smaller piece of your whole life.

I think he's wrong.

The reason five minutes was so long when I was a kid is because my parents would tell me, "Just a minute," then spend fifteen on whatever it was they wanted to finish.

Or maybe that's just me ...

Wednesday, March 4

A Short Break

I think I need a week off. Adam's on vacation this week and I think I'm going to declare one of my own.

No archived posts this time, just taking some time off. Feel free to wander through on your own, though. There's some good stuff buried back amongst the rubbish.

I think I need to clear out my brain so I can fit some more good thoughts up there.

Hasta luego.

Monday, March 2

In 24 Hours

Actually, in 23 hours and fifty six minutes, to be exact, Adam and I are dropping our daughter off at my brother's house and we're having a real live date! Woohoo!!

I don't even remember the last time we had an evening all to ourselves. I am so excited. And, we have a coupon to a local steak place--$10 off for dinner.

Depending on what's playing ... we may even see a movie! I'm not up on the latest releases, though, so when I'm done here, I'll be heading over to one of the film sites and watch some trailers.

Until next time ...