Friday, October 30, 2009

Pride and pie

I made a pumpkin pie last night.

From scratch.

That's right, I went out and slaughtered my own pumpkin with my own two hands.

And then, because I'm extra homemade, I mashed up the pumpkin with a potato masher instead of pureeing it with an electric kitchen appliance.

It's not that I'm actually that homemade or that our power was out. We just don't have a blender or a food processor.

Cody had already made a sweet potato pie this way and it turned out fine.

We are but peaceful, pie-loving folk using plain ingredients and simple tools in our fat, fat way of life.

I had some of the pie for breakfast.

In addition to being great because pie for breakfast is always great, the pie actually tasted good.

I'm feeling pretty awesome about myself right now.

It's obviously not as smooth as from-a-can pumpkin pie, but Laine told me to call the 'grit' "texture" instead, because that sounds rustic. Then she called it "rustic pumpkin pie."

Yup, rustic pumpkin pie.

I'm feeling so insufferably proud of myself that I want to put that rustic pumpkin pie out on my dining room table next to a basket of organic, locally grown apples that I bought from the farmer's market.

No really, I have a basket of those in the fridge.

But that would attract ants.

We have a slight ant problem.

It's mostly under control, but the damp weather doesn't exactly help.

I guess now would be a good time to admit that the crust was store-bought.

I should probably also admit that I don't really care where my pie--or its ingredients--come from as long as, you know, it's pie.

And I get to have it for breakfast, because I'm a champion.

And pie is the breakfast of champions.

I'm sure the Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook would back me up on this.

I hope you're staying dry.

I hope you have a great Halloween/fall-type celebration weekend.

I hope you have pie.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More fall pictures

We went to Petit Jean this past weekend.

I had no idea it was so nearby!

I love buildings with no roofs.

And I just love fall.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vinegar and Courtship

So. I don't know why I keep thinking about Halloween. But I do.

At first, I didn't have any exciting plans.

But now I do.

I'm helping Laine clean her new house!

PS: Laine and Robert are homeowners. Isn't that exciting?!

When she asked me yesterday, I didn't think I'd want to come and help her with the gritty, move-in cleaning stuff. But later in the evening, as I was vacuuming the walls by the ceilings in our house, I realized I was totally born to do stuff like this.

I mean, I've been meaning to do that to my walls since June. But I never got the chance because of Cody moving the moving schedule up, the one-car thing, me basically deciding I didn't actually want to live in the house, etc.

But it only took about 15 minutes and I could tell the difference when I was through.

My house has been looking pretty great these days.

I'm nesting.

I'm finally settling into this house and it's getting pretty cute and I want to have things how I want them when the cold weather takes over.

And now, here was my chance to help my sister.

I mean, they bought this house. They're planning to live there for a long time. We're having Christmas there.

Plus, the previous owners died.

Fine, they didn't die in the house. But I wanted to mention that point because I felt it was interesting.

I want it to be nice.

And I know I'd do a great job.

Once it was decided that I could help, the rest of this morning was an excited flurry of plan-making emails. We both love plans. And emailing. I've already printed off check-off lists from

She jokingly asked if she should buy vinegar.

Okay, I was a little crestfallen with that. Cody had picked up another gallon of vinegar earlier in the week and I was already pretty excited about including it amongst the other cleaning supplies on the mental list I was making.

Yes, I was going to combine our cleaning supply forces.

Okay, I'm probably still going to bring the vinegar.

I'm actually really excited.

I'll be the first person in our family to get to 'meet' Laine's house.

And I love cleaning.

Sometimes I do stuff and people throw out the whole "oh, you can come clean my house if you want to" line.

No. I don't want to.

I don't want to have to work around your furniture and junk mail and hear you talk about the projects you intended to start and then you would have done x, y, z.......

More importantly, you don't want me to.

You don't want to see the look of judgment that sometimes surfaces (it's fading with time. Usually).

You don't like my methodology.

My mother can back me up on this.

  • Jen's style: Throw away this outdated catalog! Who cares if you like this model's haircut and might remember to take it with you to your next hair appointment?!

  • Mom's style: Sweetie, please don't put that W-2 form with the burn trash.

It's a delicate balance.

But Saturday is going to be all about storming into bare rooms and ridding them of their grime and disuse.

I love storming and cleaning.

BUT: if I was going to celebrate Halloween beyond setting a bowl of candy on the front porch, I already had a costume in mind.

A few months ago, some friends discussed the possibility of a suspenders and jumpers party for a birthday. When the birthday got a little closer, we decided to just go with the theme of 'birthday' instead.

But an idea was forming....

I could go as a homeschooler!

I wasn't going to wear a jumper, but I was going to have a long skirt and my hair plainly pulled back. Then, in an attempt to kind of make the long skirt look seem a little 'cooler,' I would top it off with a t-shirt that read "I ♥ Courtship."


The heart would be an iron-on applique of this picture:

How priceless would that be?!?!?!


For the uninitiated (bless your heart), this is from the cover of the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

I wish you could see my dad's copy of this. He highlighted and underlined that thing like he was going to write a dissertation on it.

Basically, courtship works like this (or this is at least how I tried to explain it to Cody's brothers while we were watching the Duggars' wedding special):

You, the young man, know a girl who seems like she will be a good wife. You approach her father and request his permission to get to know his daughter better in a supervised setting. If he gives his blessing, you'll spend more time with her and her family and see if she will be a good wife and mother and is a godly young woman. Then you get married.

This was Dad's rule when I was in high school.

Translation: basically, courtship is some big scam to keep all boys away from your daughter forever because very few, if any, guys are going to do this.

Especially if the dad is Dad.

Dad knew what he was doing.

Which is why, between the cleaning jokes and the courtship references, he and Mom will probably enjoy this post.

There's a pretty good chance they'll be the only ones.

Okay fine, I cracked myself up too.

I may just make that t-shirt for fun.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I don't have any big plans for Halloween this year other than seeing if trick-or-treaters come to our area.

But I have observed the holiday before:

Monday, October 26, 2009

This, that, the other, and home decor.

I woke up in the middle of the night from some scary nightmare about a watching a movie about some little boy psychopath who became a violent psychopath after being locked in a cell in an asylum with his deeply disturbed twin brother, who suffered from developmental delays, moaned constantly, and had to wear a plaster mask.

I jerked myself awake and saw this:

Only it was dark, the tape was especially reflective, and I got the full effect of both crosses on my husband's face.

It's just something he does sometimes.

Also, he breathes with his mouth open in his sleep.

Everything about Cody is a shock to my system.


I was at the farmer's market, buying extra sweet potatoes for my sleeping husband (because I'm such a nice girl). I was behind this woman and her two sons, who were taking 90 million years to deliberate over what sweet potatoes were, what they could do with them, and which ones they wanted to buy.

So when my phone rang, I went ahead and answered it because it was my dad.

"Hey kid, what are you up to?"
"I am buying sweet potatoes right at this very second. How are you?"
"Well, I have exciting news. I was at a meeting down in Texas this past week and they were talking about E. coli being such a problem with feedlots and some packing houses have started spraying down the carcasses and it's really cut down a lot of germs. Guess what they're spraying the meat with?"
"Aww, I was going to surprise you with something you didn't know about vinegar!"
"But I'm such a good guesser!"

The answer is always "vinegar."

Vinegar is so great. That's probably why we're out of it right now.


Cody and I were going to Target yesterday (I had intended to buy vinegar, but forgot) and I thought I saw a coffee table on a curb.

I mentioned this to Cody.

Miraculously, he asked if I wanted to go back and immediately get it.

But of course!

So we turned on a side street.

And drove around forever.

And then we got on the street.

Nope, wrong one.

Then another.

Whoops, not this one.

Then, the right one!

Then I yelled "Ta da!" and Cody was startled.

After Cody felt obligated to ask the people in the house if they had actually set out the coffee table for the trash collectors, and we tried to fit it in the back seat, and then we tried to put it in the trunk, and then we had to fold down the back seat and I had to pull a lot of junk into the floorboard of the car, then we fit the coffee table in the car.

I want to sand it and paint it.

For now, I just have a bud vase of flowers and some coasters on it.

It's coffee table book time!


Almost immediately after loading the coffee table into the car, I received a picture text of Mom balancing Sara's puppy, Zoe, on top of her dog, Mozart.

It was possibly the greatest five-minute period in my life.


Cody doesn't get excited walking through Home Depot.

I don't understand.

My family doesn't understand.

His mother doesn't understand.

The whole store smells like lumber and possibilities.


I re-did my banner of fall photos in the living room.

I want to string more decorative leaves around the living room, dining room, and front porch, and then leave the house decorated for fall all the way through November.

The newest issue of Martha Stewart Living came in a couple of weeks ago, and there were all of these neat ideas for spray painting dried gourds, and making really easy decorative pumpkins (why does no one make pumpkin pin cushions?! They would be so cute!), and assembling wreaths covered in sweet gum thingies.

This may be the best fall ever.


Speaking of photo banners, this is in my dining room:

I sewed them to ribbon and hanged it next to Cody's signed Bill Mallonee poster.

I'd like to do one for Cody's family.....just as soon as I get some acceptable pictures of everybody.

I'm working on it.

This one won't make the cut, though.

Friday, October 23, 2009

We'll pretend I'm non-conformist

Good morning.

I'm really relieved that it's Friday.

What am I wearing right now?

I'm so glad you asked.

Denim shirt (hush).*

Dark gray pants.

And tan shoes with blue flowers on them that would almost be appropriate if I was wearing brown pants.

Because when I was about to walk out the door this morning, I really thought I was wearing brown pants.

The shoes that would almost work if I was wearing brown pants most definitely do not work with dark gray pants.

It seemed like a good time to bring out this story again.

Happy Friday, friends.

*I actually bought this shirt back in the summer of 2001, just before I went to college. Mom said I had to buy something other than more t-shirts. She even sent Laine with me. I'm not sure what we were thinking. I was 18 and still bought clothes big enough that I could have some extra growing room. Does that not just break your heart? But I did grow. At least a little. But this shirt is still as baggy and frumpy as ever.

But I will say this: kudos to J. C. Penney for their durable casual wear.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dear Ladies,

Dear Ladies and Anyone Else Who May Care to Know This,

He's mine.

All mine.

And he's quite happy about it.

Most of the time.

Girl Who Should Really Put Down the Camera

Monday, October 19, 2009

Indeed it does

This has been one of my favorite poems for a good long while:

Takes Talent
by Don Marquis

there are two
kinds of human
beings in the world
so my observation
has told me
namely and to wit
as follows
those who
even though they
were to reveal
the secret of the universe
to you would fail
to impress you
with any sense
of the importance
of the news
and secondly
those who could
communicate to you
that they had
just purchased
ten cents worth
of paper napkins
and make you
thrill and vibrate
with the intelligence

When I was in high school, I couldn't wait to find the kind of people who would communicate that kind of intelligence to me. I couldn't wait to be thrilled. As much as I loved my family at the time, I didn't realize how extraordinary they were. I didn't realize how much I'd grow to enjoy their company when I was older. I do now. They're lovely. They're smart. I am always happier after spending time with my family. Few people understand me and accept me as thoroughly as family can.

When I was in college, I had to assemble a poster that expressed who I was, what was important to me, and my long-term goals. I was confounded. In the corner for my goals, the only thing I could sincerely put in was a picture of a woman I'd ripped out of one of Mom's Prevention issues. And because this was Prevention, the woman was probably in the latter stages of middle age. She was reaching up, as if to pick some kind of fruit from a tree. She was wearing a sweatshirt, her gray hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and her face was lit with a radiant and content smile.

"What's that?" Mom asked.

"I want to be happy." I said.

I kept working on the poster and kept growing more and more frustrated with that corner.

"It's enough to try to be happy. Happiness is important" Mom told me. I was eighteen. I couldn't really know what else I wanted. And what's wrong with trying to be happy?

See what I mean? Intelligence.

Now, while there are many aspects of my life where I am surrounded by the second type of people, the workplace is not among them.

I am not only forced to interact with the first group of people, they are even worse--they're not telling me "the secret of the universe." They just think they are, and I'm left choking down unkind retorts like "I had no idea vinegar was good for cleaning! I mean, it's not like it has acidic properties or is featured prominently in Heloise articles!" at the end of their tiresome, long-winded prattling.

And this pains me because I am unkind.

And because I daily strive to be happy. I want to wake up one day and suddenly discover that I'm well-past middle age and I don't want to be disappointed at how bitterly I've spent my time.

I want to be a happy person.

I want to be a good listener.

I want to be able to fully appreciate the wonderful, intelligent, hilarious, and charming things all you second groupers in my life say.

Did you know?

You're wonderful, intelligent, hilarious, and charming.

I want to be able to enjoy you more than I already do.

So for now, the only thing I can do is re-read this poem, give thanks for having the 'right' kind of people in my life, and count down the hours until I go home to the most thrilling, vibrating (?), intelligent person of all. And he'll listen to my recounting of my lunch, and what I did at work, and who I enjoy and who I don't respect and what my sister emailed me. And then I'll listen to him.

4 hours, 5 minutes until the enthralling conversation about errand-running begins.

I can hardly contain myself.

Takes talent indeed.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ms. Frizzle is uplifting

 I'm about to present the best post ever.
This post will be an ode to the really fantastic outfits worn by Ms. Frizzle.

Because she is not only intelligent, personable, and adventurous, but she also has a stylish flair that reflects her love of science in every bold ensemble.

And because she has apparently inspired my especially bad Duggartastic get-up today.

So here we go:



Creepy crawly safari time!

Check out the shoes.
We all need a pair.

I can't tell what this is,
but I did notice the shoes again.

Oh, and Liz!

She's so awesome, her reptilian sidekick wears great outfits!

I stole these from all over the Internet. I had a blast doing so.

I also found some great photographs of people dressed as Ms. Frizzle for costume parties.

And I found several blogs where she was listed as a fashion inspiration.

I totally get it.

She has really great style.

And I don't care if she's fictional, I need these shoes!

My one breast cancer post for the whole breast cancer month

This says everything I want to say.

But I'll say a few more things because I went on my anti-pink rant last night to a friend whose aunt has cancer and I came out looking like a real jerk.

I'm a really mean jerk, anyway. And that's lamentable, but everyone's used to it. But last night I looked like an ignorant jerk with a pessimistic streak. I don't like that.

I hate cancer just as much as the next person, if not more. Everyone has a cancer story: you had it, your mom/aunt/cousin/grandpa/neighbor/babysitter/co-worker had it. Currently have it. Could possibly have it in the future.

Breast cancer--or any other kind of cancer, really--is terrifyingly prevalent. We're all well aware by now. There's no need to commercialize it as well.

Cancer, and our fear of it, has become a powerful commodity.

I see no reason for Yoplait to profit off of my fearful memories of my mom's cancer with their laughable "Save Lids, Save Lives" campaign.

People, there's a $250,000 cap on their donations to breast cancer research.

Yes, I realize that's money being put toward a good and legitimate cause. But if every one of my facebook friends donated $100 to the Susan G. Komen foundation, it would come out to $25,000.

Which is 10% of $250,000.

Which seems paltry when you think of it like that.

And no one would make money that way.

I hate cancer. I hate all things related to cancer. The checks I write and the merchandise I buy isn't going to help me sleep any better at night.

And it's not that I'm trying to put down your efforts. If you're running in this weekend's Race for the Cure, I'm supportive of that. What kind of friend would I be if I scoffed and said, "No, don't run a dumb race"? I hope you run well.

If you're running in honor of someone, I hope she's touched. I know I already am.

If you're running in memory of someone, I'm sorry.

I can't do it.

I don't run. I can't see those "In Memory of" tags. I can't see that grief. I can't see those "In Celebration of" tags either because the joy and uneasy relief are still too fresh.

I can't do breast cancer events for the same reason I can't handle musicals--too much emotion.

I just can't.

What I can do is offer you my house on Saturday. I live nearby the event and if you want to swing by after the race to use the bathroom or grab a snack or whatever, let me know.

I can send my donation to the American Cancer Society or the Susan G. Komen foundation. That's usually the first charity I give to every year.

I can eat well and exercise and keep my weight at a happy number because these are all factors in good health.

I can avoid excess hormones because they increase my already higher-than-average risks. (I really don't think anyone wants to be around me with any more estrogen than I already have anyway.)

I can remind you to check yourself out once a month and, if you're a big girl, get your yearly mammogram.

Did you catch that? Do your self breast exams. Do it.

A google search for the term "self breast exam" yields 972,000 results. The majority of them contain instructions. You would be doing so much for yourself if you would just do that.

I really hope you're doing that.

I don't think I'm saying anything you haven't heard before, but that's okay. I know every little bit of hope, money, and knowledge helps, but I also know that none of it's going to make a big dent.

The best thing you can do is take good care of yourself, and check on the people around you.

Are you doing that? Have you asked your mom if she's had a mammogram? Your grandma?

Don't be shy. This is important.

And while I'm pretty sure my mom is vigilant about this, I don't know about my mother-in-law.

And I'm going to change that (it won't even be the most awkward thing that's happened to us).

"Have you had your yearly mammogram? Will you please get one?"

Was it so hard?

And, in the interest of full disclosure, I have already done my self breast exam this month.

I hadn't done it nearly 4 months.

I know, I know! The move and the summer and the stress are all stupid excuses.

But I did it. Everything is as it should be.


Have you done your self breast exam this month?

And I'm going to ask you next month too.

Edit: I should probably be (even more) honest and stress that I think Race for the Cure is great and all, but I can't race. I re-read this and realized I made myself sound like a fragile bundle of nerves and that was the only thing keeping me from cramming myself in with thousands of women (why does the Little Rock race exclude the boys? Breast cancer affects men. See?) and running several miles in order to contribute money to the Susan G. Komen foundation and to get others to do the same.
But anyway, my main point is. I don't run. Ever.

Laine runs, and tells me about it, and then my knees hurt and I feel tired.

I'm asthmatic. No running for Jen.


Although I don't know what's stopping me from giving the $35 to them as the entry fee and just not showing up and running.

Maybe next year.

Another edit: I'm also lazy. And attending Foodie Fest, which is taking place this Saturday morning at the Argenta Market.

I'm lazy and a foodie and I hate cancer and love you.

Go runners!

There, I'm done.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Storms, arts, maybe crafts

Oh my goodness, they've got the heat on in here!

Yes, that is the first thing on my mind this Friday morning.

I made it into to work safely, with a lot of help from my rubber boots and umbrella. And then I walked into our office and it is sweltering.

I think I'm going to pass out!

I opened my window, but then the scary and strong wind seemed to be blowing rain in. I couldn't have that.

Okay, maybe I can have that.

I don't care if my open window lets a tornado right in. I am sweaty and it's not even 8:30.


So yes, I'm taking a break from worrying about lightning and wind and rain and those incredibly dark clouds (oh, and work. I actually have a lot of work ahead of me) to say "hello" and that I hope you have a fantastic weekend and that maybe you'll get to enjoy the fair or catching up on laundry or binge drinking or visiting your grandparents or taking naps or whatever it is you do on weekends.

I plan on taking Cody to work superearly for the last time, visiting the laundromat and reading a library book, and apparently our neighborhood is having a block party. I've never been to one, but now seems like a good time to check it out.

AND: attempting to make some slippers.

Remember last time, when I said that I would try this?

People freaked out.

Freaking out on facebook, freaking out via email, freaking out on the blog.

I had no idea people felt so strongly about arts and crafts, but I was heartened to learn this.

So I went home and attempted it.

I confused myself greatly.

I didn't pay very close attention to the whole 'heel' part and 'toe' part' and 'side' parts and was just pulling squares out of a bag and crocheting them together.

While watching television.

In the dark.

While sleepy.

I was essentially about to make a very small, slightly lumpy, afghan.

It was not ideal.

But this weekend, I'm definitely going to try again.

I'll definitely try to concentrate for your sake.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Something beyond the standard ugly potholder

This is, without question, one of the coolest ideas in the world.

I absolutely cannot wait to go home and try this out!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Morning time

Good morning!

Yes, I know it's a little early.

For the past few weeks, I've been taking Cody to work by 7 a.m.

Then I scoot on over to my work. Usually, I'll put on make up in the car and sit in my office in a stupor.

But today there's actual work to do.

So I thought I'd say "hello" and then do that.

I didn't post yesterday.

I had lots of work to do and not a lot to say.

But I thought I should at least say something.


I went to a wedding this weekend and it was lovely.

This is our last week to get up so early.

I have a decorative pumpkin on my front steps because we are in October!

I got my flu shot last night and can still move my arm in spite of it.

Figs. They're in season. I bought some at Whole Foods last night.

It turns out I really like figs. We ate some for dessert last night after a meal of frozen pizza.

I think that's all I have.

I hope your week is going well.

Friday, October 2, 2009

September Book List

Hey there.

I was so busy posting pictures that I forgot about the book list for September. I thought about it.

It was even on my to-do list.

But then real work came in, and I had to ...... work..... on it. Yeah.

So here I am, posting this on my lunch break.

Chanin, Natalie, with Stacie Stukin. Alabama Stitch Book: Projects and Stories Celebrating Hand-Sewing, Quilting, & Embroidery for Contemporary Sustainable Style. New York: Stewart, Tabori, & Channing, 2008.*

In short, this was about sewing with old t-shirts. I've been in a sewing mood lately, and there were some lovely patterns in here. And lovely pictures. And I copied down a biscuit recipe.

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume II. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2003.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading all 709 pages of this before bed since I bought it back in July. Man, I love Sherlock Holmes. And Watson.

L'Engle, Madeleine. Dragons in the Waters. New York: Fararr, Straus and Giroux, 1976.

I'd read this before. But it was nice to read again.

L'Engle, Madeleine. The Love Letters. 1966. New York: Ballantine Books, 1983.

I had not read this before and brought it along on my beach trip. It was disappointing. I hate to say that about Madeleine L'Engle, but I must. I'm sticking with her juvenile fiction from now on. And even then....I can't believe she did this to me.

Thomis, Malcolm. The Luddites: Machine-Breaking in Regency England. New York: Schocken Books, 1970.

Loved it!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vacation, Day 4

Day 1.
Day 2.
Day 3.
Goodbye, my bed.

Goodbye, corridor.

Goodbye, palm trees.
Goodbye, other condos.

Goodbye, strands of seaweeds and stuff.
I loved you.

Goodbye, ocean.

Goodbye, Florida.

Here is a battleship in Mobile, Alabama.

Here's Jessi and Brad outside a Cracker Barrel in Mississippi.
This was not posed.

Aside from the part where Cody wasn't there, this was probably the best vacation I've ever had. This was actually the second vacation I've ever taken in my life, but hey.

I planned to spend some time with my friends, and rest, and enjoy the sand and the water, and wear dresses the entire time. And then I did all of that, and it was absolutely fantastic.

Vacation, Day 3

Day 1.
Day 2.

Sunday morning was a big day, and I remembered to take my camera everywhere.

Once again, we went to the beach.
The birds seemed to think we were wearing out our welcome.
They stared menacingly.

Another view from my towel.

Then we went to Fort Walton because it had a cute downtown.
Look at the Spanish moss!

We went to a lovely little coffee shop.
I just had some chai tea.
Jessi and Brook went wild and did something with Coke and espresso.
It was called a Mocha Cola.

And you could go out the back door of the store to this little place!
And it was lovely.
And we had a lovely time.
And Jeff took my picture in front of this enormous bottle of Coke.
And then I took this lovely picture of this lovely couple on a swing.

One more of the strange tree limbs in Florida.

Before dinner that night, we went back to the beach for pictures.

So here I am.

And here they are.

And this is our condo.

And this is the green water.
I seriously love the ocean.

It's me.
On a beach.
At sunset.


More beach at sunset.


Car B.
When we checked in, the security woman looked in the car and said,
"So two adults and two teens?"
Our dynamic: Jeff (the dad) and Bryan (the son) fight and Jessi (the mom) tries to stop them and keep peace in the family. I am ignored and resent everyone.
We had some great mock fights in the car.

Car A was a little more pleasant and civil.

Isn't this pretty?

After we ate supper at some restaurant right on the beach (I had cheese sticks!), we went by The Donut Hole and bought pie.

I got cherry pie, and saved it for breakfast.

I love pie for breakfast.