...random thoughts, opinions and secrets on children... aging... cooking... crafts... nature...divorce...second chances...
and whatever else I deem curious...
~Copyright 2017. Hootie~

Friday, July 31, 2009

The REAL Indiana Joneses (definitely plural)

Go with me on this, living near IU's campus, and driving through there daily, I see first hand the summer construction projects.  While depositing my daughter at Ballet camp last week I saw the new basketball practice field house and thought of a scene from one of my favorite movies...Raiders of the Lost Ark.  

I usually have my camera tucked away in my purse, but on this parti-
cular day I had left it at home.  My son and I had to run a few errands and I told him I needed to go back and capture these photos.  

I wonder if these guys ever feel like Indy?  

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Snowflakes??? Christmas in July?

Two summers ago I was cleaning out my mom's house.  Tucked away in her basement I found this book and a very tiny little crochet hook.  I didn't know how to crochet, but I wanted to learn.  Something was driving me.  I felt possessed.  I don't recall my mom crocheting, maybe this stuff belonged to my step-dad's mom.  Or maybe this was something my mom did when she was first married before I came into the world?  Or maybe, just maybe, this was one of those things that my mom wanted to learn how to do?  
The designer of these snowflakes is Mary Thomas.  This book was published in 1983.  I'm pretty sure based on that date, this was not my mom's stuff.  Then again, maybe she was longing for a few of those child-free moments when one can do something THEY enjoy rather than being a responsible parent.  My sister would have been three then and I was 19.  I have a pretty clear memory of my mom in the early 80's.  She did not crochet.  Still, that tiny little crochet hook beckoned me to learn how to use it.  Maybe it beckoned to my mom as well.  Off to the library I went.  I found a Crochet for Dummies book.  What a great resource!  

There are 16 patterns in my book above.  I started with number 1 and worked my way through them all.  

After the snowflakes are made they must be starched and blocked.  I made myself a board for blocking.  

After using a stiffening agent, snowflakes are held in place with T-pins which look like acupuncture being preformed.  This helps it to hold the precise shape as a snowflake dries.  
Here are my 16 snowflakes!  Come November I will be hanging these in my windows.  I feel successful and am ready to start making snowflakes as my Christmas presents this year.  I can't decide on my favorite.  I laid them out in the order they are in the book 1-4, 5-8, 9-12 and 13-16.  Do you have a favorite?  The largest is about the size of my hand and the smallest fits in my palm.  

I have started eyeing sweater patterns.  I wonder if I'll be inspired to make myself one of those next?  That lacy, dainty, flowery look is speaking to me.  Can you hear it too?  

Monday, July 27, 2009

Give-Away Alert!!!!!

First, my thoughts on handmade items...I LOVE them! I had a mother and grandma who were both crafty ladies; always having several projects going at once.  My mom was incredible.  The things she made were wonderful and looked professionally done.  My grams was crafty, but....her things DEFINITELY looked home-made!  Not that there was anything wrong with that.  I remember going to bazaars with mom and Grams and seeing wonderful handmade items.  If there was some thing I fancied and I asked if I could get it, my Grams would pull my mom toward her and whisper in her ear, "we can make that!"  It's true, they could.  But they rarely did.  They created a lot, just never things we saw or things I wanted.  Still, I inherited that crafting gene and I do like to make things.  There are plenty of times when I see something and I hear my Grams voice in the back of my head saying..."You can make that!"  Sometimes I do.  I enjoy giving and receiving handmade items.  I do appreciate the time and energy that goes into their being created.  

Now for the goods:  I hope you all will go check out the Give-Away at Wee Folk Art.  I am particularly fond of their little fairies, flowers and gnomes.  I love the earthy feel their creations send out.  Maybe I'll use their patterns to make a flower bouquet...my baby (who turns 15 soon) would love some flowers for her bedroom when my yard blossoms are all spent once the weather turns.  Or maybe I'll make one of WFA gnomes or fairies and let them wander around inside my house.   Right now I have another crafting project underway and I hope to show it off here soon.  

In the meantime, click on over to the Wee Folk Art Blog using the link above or on the right hand side of my blog under Blogs I Read.  Even if you don't win this give-away you'll still win seeing all the cute ideas they have to share!  :)  

Happy Blog Birthday Wee Folk Art!  

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Tour de...well, NOT France!

Who needs to go over seas to see people wrapped in flags supporting their favorite bicycle riders?  Not us!  We do spend the month of July living vicariously as we watch the Tour de France each night on TV.  It would be wonderful to see the beautiful scenery in person.  But last weekend there were a few races here in Bloomington.  
In another life, my husband used to race his bike.  Although his last race was only two years ago, it really does seem like a lifetime past when I used to follow him, kids in tow, and root him on.  
Here my son and husband talking with two friends, and former teammates of my husband, before a race which happened in our hometown last weekend.  
This is not a great photo, but you can see the riders from the backside all lined up and ready for one of the races.  There were five different races this day.  
This is my good friend Bob, and his girlfriend.  They came to visit and we all went to watch Bob race.  It was weird to sit on the sidelines with my husband.  I could tell he was chomping at the bit to be out with his friends.  Last year when we moved my DH purged himself of all his bike stuff.  It was good, but I knew better than to think it was a permanent situation.  I realize more than he does that he needs this release in his life.  I figure it's just a matter of time before he gets a new bike.  When that happens, it will be a good thing.  He's a competitive soul and he needs the excitement.  

Besides, I'm ready for him to shave his legs and wear those tight spandex shorts again!  
Here are a few seconds from one of the races last weekend.  The cyclists are coming around one of the last corners in the loop before a long straight way.  This is one of the few opportunities in this race when one guy can get ahead of another, so they really want to power out of this corner.  If you watch this video carefully you'll see just 2 seconds into it that a rider goes down.  I am NOT ready for that part of the race life.  I hate to see anyone get injured.   

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Cool, Wet Summer...

Last weekend my husband and I went to our local Farmer's Market.  It seemed like every other booth had these interesting looking orange mushrooms for purchase.  

We were curious so we asked, what are they?  We were told they are called Chanterelle Mushrooms.  We also learned that they grow wild in our area and it's been a boom year for them.  What my husband and I found the most interesting is that on our walks over the last few weeks we've been  seeing these treats!  We had no idea that anything other than Morels were edible!  Sunday morning we went out for our walk and I took a bag with us.  

As we came upon the spot, where we had noted about 50 Chanterelle mushrooms before, I was heart broken to see they had all ready been harvested!  Cut off just under the cap!  We continued our walk and thirty minutes later I found another tiny patch of mushrooms.  I had to try them.  

I did a bunch of on-line research about Chanterelle's to see if these I found were the real deal.  Check out this info:  Chanterelle Mushrooms.  

I did find out that there was one look-a-like mushroom.   Although poisonous, these won't kill a person.  Eating the look-a-likes would just make a person sick; diarrhea, vomiting.   I felt confident so I sauteed my find.  In the end, I didn't get sick.  My kids were chicken and didn't want to taste these treats.  My husband waited for about thirty minutes after my first bite before he tried them.  

They were delicious and I can't wait to find some more!  :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mocha Monday at McDonalds

Two coffee postings in a row!  I am not starting a trend here, but I am willing to put my two cents in on the McDonald's Mocha Monday campaign and coffees.  

In a pinch, McDonald's coffee will do to kick start my morning.  The key words there being, In a pinch.  

Today I stopped by the nearest McDonald's.  It's Monday and I have seen the campaign...free mocha on Monday.  The Mickey D's I went to was NOT participating.  That's okay since I hear the participating restaurants are only giving out 3 oz (8 oz if you are lucky) samples.  I decided to purchased an Iced Mocha anyway.  

The presentation was fine.   I had my drink made with non-fat milk.  The first sip spoke volumes.  The coffee taste was extremely over powering.  It seemed to leave a taste in my mouth that was too strong and bitter.  I suspect the coffee being used was a bit old.  I did not end up finishing my drink.  The ice chunks were not appealing in the cup.  IMHO, Starbucks has nothing to worry about...provided they WERE/ARE worried.  

Still on a hot afternoon, I prefer to make my own Mocha's.  Here's another recipe I created that I call Mocha Frappachinos for Two.  When I make this, I share it with my daughter, or my good friend, Robert if he's in town.  

Hootie's Mocha Frappachinos for Two
1 cup brewed coffee (cooled)
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
1 TBS sugar
1 cup cream (Land-o-Lakes Fat-Free works great!)
2 cups of ice cubes

Put all ingredients into a blender.  Frappe on high until whipped smooth.  Add more ice for a thicker drink.  Pour into glasses and top with whipped cream.  
P.S. McDonald's does have a coupon you can print off if you still would like to try their drinks.  After all, a free drink is a free drink.  Click here for the link:  Free McDonald's Coffee Drink.  

Friday, July 17, 2009

Searching for Extracts

First, I will admit that I LOVE coffee.  Second, I will admit that I might be a coffee snob.  There are friends of mine who are tea drinkers and they can tell you there is a correct way to brew tea.  The same thing goes for coffee.  But I am not going into those details.  

During my "recovery" time two months ago, my husband did a bit of our shopping and he needed to buy some coffee beans for us.  I do not shop exclusively at Starbucks, but I do admit they have several beans that I enjoy.  We have a local shop that roasts their own beans: Stone Cutters.  Besides having fantastic coffee they have scrumptious homemade cinnamon rolls.  My husband happened to shopping at Target and decided to pick up a different brand of coffee.  I hate to talk badly, but after my first few sips of this coffee, I told my DH I was pouring out the pot he brewed and making a different flavor of bean.  This "different" bean he'd purchased left an aftertaste in my mouth that seemed like cigarettes.  I am not a smoker.  In the end, these beans left our house without being brewed again.  

Shortly after this incident my husband and I went to Stone Cutters to grab a coffee and a cinnamon roll.   We needed more beans and decided on two different pounds.  The owner, Greg, assured me that one we chose only had hints of a fine cigar smell.  I was apprehensive but trusting.  Stone Cutters Espresso Roast was superb.  

One of the reasons I head to Starbucks now and then is to purchase their Hazelnut Syrup.  At home I like to add this flavor to my coffee.  It's frustrating when sometimes they will sell me a bottle and other times they won't.  It all depends on their supply.  Lately I have been thinking I should learn how to make my own syrup.  

After searching the web and not finding anything to my likings, I came up with the following recipe.  This may be my new fav for adding to my home brews!  

Hootie's Hazelnut Syrup for Coffee
2 Cups water
1 Cup white sugar

Mix together in small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for 5 minutes.  Cool then add 1 TBSP of Hazelnut Extract.  I have stored my concoction in an old Starbucks bottle; one that I have a pump for.  

The trickiest part was finding the Hazelnut Extract.  Thank goodness for specialty stores. 
As an added funny, I must tell that I have been using Starbucks Hazelnut syrup for at least the last 15 years.  When I would vacation with my husband's family on our annual beach vacation, I would always take a bottle of syrup with me.  One morning one of my BILs commented that he'd probably add some alcohol to his coffee too if he was a coffee drinker and wasn't related to this bunch.  I hated to burst his bubble that this was alcohol free.  :)


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Farewell to a Fine Four-legged Friend!

As my daughter just woke up and came downstairs, our psycho cat, Lily jumped to her feet and ran to greet her.  Sweet little meows, tail held high curving slightly at the tip, and a tiny rub on my daughters leg saying, 'Good Morning'.  It reminded me of how much love a pet can give to humans.  Even psycho animals give love!  But I am saddened  today because I received an e-mail from a friend who shared that they had to put their dog down.  He had a tumor on his shoulder and a carcinoma that was attacking his liver.  The poor guy was in serious pain.  

In 2004, I had to put my cat Ashley of almost 17 years to sleep.  Old age was tough on her and her body was failing terribly.  I cried for days.  It was a year later that I got my current baby, Jack.  He was two when he came into my life.  We've had Lily since 2002, but her psycho ways didn't heal my broken heart.  My husband and I got Ashley just before we were married, so we'd had her forever.  The void the loss of a pet creates can be hard to fill.  

Most nights now at about 10 pm, Jack comes to find me.  He's ready for bed.  He likes to sleep on our bed at night snuggled on my feet.  If I am reading a book or on the computer, Jack likes to get between me and whatever is keeping my attention off of him.  

Good bye Highway.  You will be deeply missed, but not forgotten!  

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Do Not Iron!

I normally only shop on-line for those hard to find items I need.  My first choice in shopping is always to buy local.  

Before my husband and son went out to Montana they needed some pretty specific clothing and gear.  One of the last things my husband was buying for the trip was, and I know this congers up the wrong image, mesh underwear.  Really it was active, sportswear underwear, but mesh certainly sounds more fun!  It was suggested that all the clothing the boys take be able to breath and dry quickly.  Well, a quick search in town found the perfect underwear at Kohl's.  The problem was...they didn't have my son's size.  

Even if the local stores had the right kind, they didn't carry the proper size. (Editors Note: I am realizing as I write this I am sort of damned if I do and damned if I don't in writing about underwear sizes for men.  Hopefully my kind readers will be laughing with me over this!)  You can guess what happened next, hoping on-line and typing in www.jockey.com took us to our solution.  Two pair of underwear were ordered and arrived in plenty of time for the trip.  If you are curious about the exact type the guys bought go see the Jockey website and search for "men's mesh".  

It's been at least six weeks now since the order was placed which means enough time has passed for us to be put on the Jockey mailing list.  I found it interesting as I was perusing the catalog that arrived over the weekend to see the warning "Do Not Iron" on some underwear.  Click HERE for an example.  It made me laugh because for one thing I did know someone who ironed everything in her household...including her underwear!  And for another thing, who the heck has time to iron underwear?  I also though of another question: Under what conditions is it even necessary to iron underwear?  Anyone care to enlighten me with their thoughts?   I guess I could understand some boxers needing wrinkles removed, but for a woman?  :)  

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Oldies...but goodies!

This afternoon my husband and I chaperoned my mother and father in-law and 16 of their friends.  We went to see a play at the nearby Brown County Playhouse.   The play was called, There Goes the Bride!  The comedy started from the moment we stepped foot into the theatre.  Our seats had been double booked and were all ready occupied as we went to sit down.  Now I don't really mind being shifted out of my seat, but some of the rowdy crowd we were with started complaining.  They wanted to sit by their friends!  It made me laugh because if you've been in this playhouse then you know there isn't a bad seat in the place.  Also, who talks during any production?  Why does it matter who one sits next to once the lights dim?  As it was the show was delayed by 10 minutes.  I'm sure it was due to our seating mix up.  

The play was enjoyable.  Our local newspaper gave it good reviews.  I certainly would agree.  The casting was well done and all eight actors were entertaining.  If you live near me and you are looking for a fun night out, I'd suggest  heading over to Nashville, IN to take in this show.  

Since we went to the matinee show our more mature crowd was far from ready to call it a day.   They have a routine for these events.  After they go and see plays at the playhouse they go to Brown County State Park and have pitch-in picnics.  There is a designated meeting place, but I won't divulge that information!  I found it a hoot to listen to the chatter in my van as they were all hoping we were the only people at said spot.  My van load didn't recognize the first car all ready at their meeting place.  "Oh no!"  "Someone jump out and quickly run to the tables!"  "Drat, if we were only  30 seconds earlier!"  "Hey, isn't that....?"  "Oh Yeah!"   
(Seconds later another vehicle pulls up)  "A-oh.  That truck is not with us.  Quick someone run up to the tables!"  (The truck backs up and leaves.) "Hey, we scared them off!"  

Seriously, these were the comments in our van and our occupants are in their 70's and 80's!  One of them even had a walker!  

The picnic was fine.  My husband has grown up knowing all of these fine folks and they have been in my life for the past 2o+ years.  It was nice to be able to share the evening with them.  

I did learn something new about myself through all this.  I love to cook, but I do not like to make fried chicken.  I made my contribution last night (Oven Fried Chicken) and it was to be eaten cold today.  I used a recipe out of my 365 Ways to Cook Chicken cookbook.  After I made all 30 chicken legs and cleaned up my kitchen, I pulled my cookbook back out off the shelf.  I opened it to page 66 and circle the recipe in red ink.  Then I wrote the following:  "Good, BUT not worth the energy, the time or the clean up.  Go buy KFC!"  I signed and dated it and made my husband a witness.  I just don't eat Fried Chicken of any kind that much.  It's worth visiting the Colonel once of twice a year.  

I did receive several compliments tonight on my dish.  My husband told everyone they were lucky, because this was the last fried chicken I said I'd be making.  I did hear a few whispers saying, "I like KFC too."  :)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

My Tribute to the King of Pop!

This photo was taken back in the spring of 1985.  It's from my dorm room...can you guess where I went to school?...and this is my baby sister.  She was just four and a half at the time.  
It's amazing how much a person can touch others lives.  

I watched the memorial to MJ today while I walked on my treadmill.  After 80 minutes and 4.5 miles I needed to rest my tootsies.  While I watched the end of the memorial I went through my old photos, the ones sitting in a plastic box!  (Unprotected and edges curling!)  I was recalling this photo.  I am glad it wasn't too hard to locate.  

Rest in peace MJ.  You certainly inspired me!  I'm sure your legacy will live on forever.  

Monday, July 06, 2009

Then...and Now...

Growing up I remember that my dad was the only one in our family who had a camera.  He was our photographer.  That was fine.  All his photos were taken on slides.  I think people born after 1970 might not even know what slides are!  My in-laws have boxes and boxes of trays of slides and they have a pull down screen in their family room.  The screen is attached to their ceiling just in front of their fireplace.  

When I was first engaged and then married to my husband and we'd come for a visit, his parents would get out several of those boxes of slides to show me the relatives.  Most of their photos were/are of their annual summer beach vacation.  I watched my husband grow up before my eyes on slides in his parents family room.  

It used to be that photos were taken without being able to instantly see what they looked like.  The photographer had to trust their artistic abilities and hope they "captured" the mood at just the right moment.  Eyes closed, blurred pictures, off centered (or partially out of the whole photo bodies or heads) were common.  Photographers had to rely on their memories from years and times past as to what worked and what didn't.  

With the advent of the digital age, photographers have been able to be more creative: take a ton of shots and delete those that don't work!  Shoot, sounds like me!  I made the transition to a digital camera about five years ago, after I accidentally dropped my film-loaded camera in the ocean on one of those annual beach vacations!  I love my Canon PowerShot A570.  It's always handy and in my purse. 

I have noticed that since I made the change from film camera to digital, I have less photos developed.  I love having hard copies in my hands, but I just don't like having them sit around in a cardboard or plastic box - unlabeled, edges slightly rolling, forgotten and unprotected.  So, I download ever shot (heaven forbid I should delete anything...even if I've taken five shots of the same thing and four are either blurry or just plain not good) to my computer.   My computer has been nagging me lately that I have too many photos on it.  It keeps warning me that my start up disk is nearly full.  I am starting to feel a bit panicked.  I don't want to lose anything on my computer, especially my photos.  

This summer I have had two projects I wanted to complete.  The first one was that I wanted to make seat cushions for the window seats in my house.  My second project was to find a place to protect and save those photos on my computer.  

The questions I have are numerous though on how to do this or what exactly to do:  Do I burn the photos to CDs?  (I don't have a DVD burner) Do I put them on a flash drive?  Do I save them to some site...and if so, which one?  Five years of photo taking is a lot for me.  I bet I have 15,000 photos.  Did I mention I have photos on more than one computer?  Fifteen thousand, or about three thousand a year.  That is a lot.  I like to document, what can I say.  

A few weeks ago I finished my cushion seats.  I am on to my photo saving project.  I'd like to get this little mess in control because after I finish this project I hope I can actually start in on my scrap-booking.  My son will be a junior this fall.  I need to start thinking graduation showoff book in two years!  

My sister is a photographer and has her own business.  Check her out on-line:  Traditions Photography in South Bend, IN.  She tells me I should be putting my photos on CDs or DVDs.  She says I should make two copies of each - one for each kid for when they leave home.  And she says I should store one copy here at my place and the second copy at some other location...like at my in-laws, just in case.  It is great advice.  I am afraid I don't have the time, the knowledge nor the desire to do all that on my own.  Plus, my kids always seem to want the computers when I do.  I don't think I can tie them up for so long...the kids and the computers!  :)

I have decided to use the Kodak Gallery photo site.  I order my Christmas cards from there ever year and spend over the limit for free storage.  I figure I'll transfer everything there and then have them burn me a DVD or two.  It would be worth the cost for that.  Maybe if I get caught up I'll be able to learn exactly what I need to do on my own.  Until then, thank you who ever invented the first camera.   

My next summer task will have to be putting all those old slides I own on to CDs or DVDs.  It's about time my husband, and my kids, watched me grow up!  

Friday, July 03, 2009


My fantasy is that I am ready to get a dog.  I don't think I want a puppy.  I would like to be able to go to the shelter and rescue some mutt.  
Last night we cooked out for dinner.  Then we sat on our back porch as we ate and enjoyed the evening.  The menu included fried green beans (my mom's old recipe), fresh fruit, veggies and dip, bread and salmon on the grill.  

My kitties are indoor cats, but they love to join me when I am outdoors and they do stay close by.  They started pestering me as I went in and out to use the grill so I promised them they could come out while we ate.  They did.  But soon after we started eating, Kuro came to visit.  Kuro means black in Japanese.  Kuro is a big, black Labrador looking fellow, but he's not a lab.  He's probably 10 and I have known him since he was a puppy.  The cats were corralled and put inside as Kuro did his little happy whine to see us.  He was mooching.  

Kuro has a good nose and he likes salmon!  Being a dog, and hanging around outside a lot, Kuro has a certain odor.  His breath isn't too good either, and that was BEFORE he tasted the salmon (don't tell his owner!).  Still, he's a sweetie and I am reminded of the work a dog would mean.  Baths is on that list!  

Our salmon scent must have permeated the neighborhood.  We had a second moocher come and visit.  Maddie.  She's usually tied up and so her visit was a surprise and we expected to hear her owners out calling for her.  She started her mooching out in the bottom of our yard.  She found something down there to eat.  I was pretty sure it was something the deer had left.  When she came up to us, her breath was pretty horrid too.  She definitely smelled like something the deer had left.  I reached my hand out to give he head a pat and as she nuzzled into me something mushy smeared on my hand.  Yuck!  She had rolled in fresh something the deer or another animal had left!  

That pretty much crushed my fantasy of dog owning right now.  I'll stick to my kitties.  
Jack can investigate all the frogs hiding under the hose he'd like.  

Lily can spy on all the neighbors she'd like.  My kitties DO NOT EAT, ROLL IN, OR SMELL OF P**P!  

They are pampered.  Lily even thinks the new window seat cushions I have made are especially for her.  

Jack and Lily earn their keep.  They tag teamed another mouse in the basement just two nights ago.  

Maybe when the kids leave home I'll be ready for the challenges of caring for a dog.  I wonder if there are any types that don't eat feces or roll in it?  

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Hidden Mickeys!

...and some aren't quite so hidden!  

If you get bored at Disney World, and traveling with kids they can sometimes get bored, EVEN at DW, you can look for Hidden Mickeys.  Hidden Mickeys are one of those things you tend to get hooked on after you've been to the parks several times.  Check out the link above for more detailed information.  You can even buy books on the subject if you want to really obsess while on vacation!  

Here are a few Hidden and Not-so-Hidden examples from our last trip:  
On our bed as we arrived!  
Above:  Chair in our room.
Below:  detail of the chair fabric.

Wall paper in our room...look closely at the sail on the 
middle sailboat in bottom right corner!  
Decals on the monorail windows.
Survey markers on the ground.  
At Pizza Planet in Hollywood Studios, 
Enlarge photo and look closely at the stars.  
hint: to the left of the bright star
Obvious in the flowers...
...NOT so obvious in the flowers!  

We weren't even really looking for Hidden Mickeys and we were able to see them every where we looked, in all of the parks!  It's no wonder Mickey is my favorite, he can't be avoided while on his turf!  
~Your Disney World Connoisseur, Hootie  :)