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Entries from November 2013

Saturday 9: Back To Black

Link up here if you're playing along today!

1) Black is this week's signature color because Friday, November 29, was "Black Friday," when retailers cut their prices and consumers flock to the stores. Did you score any "Black Friday" bargains?

Well, I'm not really much of a Black Friday shopper. I'm actually traditionally one of the poo-poo-ers about Black Friday shopping. But, yes, I did. I got some things online, which IMO is different than slogging through the crowds and risking potential death to save a few bucks, and I got some things at the drug stores, which IMO is also different than, say, going to Walmart or Target or Best Buy or WHEREVER. I had to go anyway, and it just happened to be on Black Friday. You know what I mean? Also, the really good deals that I got were several free $30 toys, and I immediately put those in the Toys For Tots bin. My kids don't need more, after all.

2) Legend has it that Black Friday began as a neighborhood phenomenon among storeowners in Philadelphia back in the early 1960s. What else comes to mind when you think of Philly?

Hot pretzels from vendors on the streets. Cheesesteak sandwiches. The Liberty bell. Traffic and tollbooths. LOL! I may have been there a few times... ;)

3) Feasting and football are also popular Thanksgiving weekend pastimes. Do your Thursday-Sunday plans include pigging out or watching a game?

Nope, but maybe because I'm entirely incapable of doing either. Our one television set is hardly even plugged in, let alone a receiver for anything televisual, and my small gastric bypass-created pouch doesn't allow for any such empiggerating. Otherwise, I would probably partake in both!

4) At Thanksgiving dinners, Crazy Sam's homemade gravy is always a hit. (Probably because she's so generous with the cognac, which gives the gravy a nutty taste.) Do you have a signature dish?

I'm not really well-known for my Thanksgiving dishes - I make Stove Top stuffing from a box, for Pete's sake, and I open a can or two of corn. It's a good thing, though, because this year I was not well enough to do even that, and Rob had to make the entire dinner himself if we were going to have a bounty. And he did, and we did, and I was thankful.

5) Among the biggest the Black Friday advertisers are Target, Kohl's, Macy's and Best Buy. If you could have a $100 gift card to any one of those stores, which would you choose?

I'd have to go with Target, which I adore, or Kohl's, which is right down the road. I loathe Best Buy, and there's no Macy's anywhere that I know of here. There's always online shopping, I guess... 

6) You're in a public restroom that offers both paper towels and a hot air hand dryer. Which one do you choose?

I'd choose the hot air. Less waste to throw back into the world, and I can stand there - and do - long enough that my hands get completely, thoroughly dry. And then I'll be wishing for my hand lotion, which is probably in the car.

  7) While Back to Black is the best-selling Amy Winehouse CD, her first was called Frank, named for her hero, Frank Sinatra. Tell us about someone you inspires you.

There are so many people who do, I'm hard-pressed to pick just one. I can't even think of anyone specifically, but anyone who overcomes great odds and does something wonderful despite their given circumstances inspires me the most. I'm also inspired by people who are wonderful, kind and loving parents to their children, whether they have one or ten of them.

8) Do you consider yourself a pessimist or an optimist?

I'm an idealist, which goes hand-in-hand with being an optimist. It's rare for me to be cynical or pessimistic. I'm not much of a realist, either. I do admit to wearing the rose-colored glasses perhaps more then I ought to. I like to see the world for the beauty that is and could be, and not for the ugly that co-exists with it.

9) Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone (a verbal conversation -- not an exchange of texts)?

I talked to my father for 46 minutes on Wednesday, which is the last time I reached or was reached by phone. My sister apparently called while I was napping on Thanksgiving Day, and I didn't get the message until the following day, because my iPhone has that one peculiar fault. Felt bad, I did, and I haven't had a chance to call her back yet. Perhaps today.

Well, that's it for another Saturday. I missed last week, but I vow to be a better blogger in the days and weeks to come! Cheers, y'all.


Just Another Manic Monday


Muffin, Jack's cat, gets around. She's been awfully cuddly lately, for the most cattish of our cats. What's her deal?


This is where Muffin spends MOST of her time. It's the thirty-one utility tote in which I keep all the stuff I'm selling on ebay and Listia. Not very comfortable. Crazy feline.

So anyway. Speaking of cats...



On Monday morning, I set out to clean up my long-neglected kitchen. Dishes were in the sink, the dishwasher was full, and half the groceries were piled up all over the counters, since I did a big shopping trip last week - and we don't have that much pantry space.

Well. That didn't last. To my credit, I did empty the dishwasher and then run it two more times, and I hand-washed the dishes that couldn't go in the machine, but that's it. Instead, I cooked and baked. A lot.

Rotisserie chickens had been on sale at Publix when I shopped, so I'd gotten three. Three! We ate two, and some of the third (yes, Jack, I'm "supposed to be a vegetarian," but I do eat chicken, turkey on Thanksgiving, and certain sea creatures when I'm craving protein... which is ALL THE TIME, ugh). I decided to make chicken pot pies (above) with the rest of the meat. I like the Bisquick Chicken Pot Pie recipe, only I just had enough of that for one crust. And no veggies. Thankfully, I did have the necessary soup.

So, I chopped up fresh green beans and opened a can each of peas and corn, and I made my own "Bisquick" with just some flour, salt and baking soda. I had to use evaporated milk, too, since the kids finished off all the regular milk for their cereal. The result, with the Fiery Cranberry rotisserie chicken that remained? Delicious! Rob ate one pot pie entirely by himself yesterday.


I'd been craving mashed potatoes and could not wait another week and a half for Thanksgiving, so I peeled a 5-lb bag of Russets and got those cooking, too. Those turned out okay, but I used unsalted butter (for Rob's sake, since he's supposed to limit the salt while he's on the meds for brain inflammation) and more evaporated milk. Not as good as always.

Also for Rob's sake, I didn't make my loaded mashed potatoes. I adore them, but he hates them: I'll make regular mashed potatoes with tons of (salted) butter, lots of creamy milk, sautéed onion, sometimes sautéed garlic, sweet corn, sometimes cheese... and I forget what else. I haven't made it since the early days of our marriage when it became clear that it was a no-no for Hubs, and we're coming up on 13 years. Anyway, it's good. Really, really good.


We're pretty bad about making - or, in this case, buying pre-made - cookie dough and then eating it all up before I bake the cookies. My mama-in-law bakes and then freezes cookies, and I decided to do that with the Immaculate Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Triple Chocolate Chunk cookie doughs I'd also gotten at Publix last week. I mean, as long as I was going to be running the oven, I might as well toss my cookies in there, right? ;)

Verdict: Also just okay, but not as good as my homemade - and those are Rob's and the kids' words, not my own! I actually thought they were quite good, especially straight out of the freezer.


While I cooked, I snacked on pomegranate arils. I'd gotten those, too, and the kids hacked into this one and left the poor carcass to dry out on the counter. Not having it, I decided to eat it myself. Of course, the kids saw this and decided that it was pretty good, after all. Everything's better on Mom and Dad's plates, right?


This is what I found when I opened the freezer to put in the cookies. A carton of sherbet with no lid and the ice cream scoop in it.

Yup. It's official: Kids live here.


None of us are big fans of white chocolate, but this cookie was quite palatable. They were gone even before the oatmeal! Jack decided they were his, so they didn't stand a chance.


Rob had taken a huge chicken out of the deep freezer the other day and then done nothing with it, so I decided I'd better cook that up, too.

Imagine my dismay when I opened the Crock-Pot to put it in and found the remains + mold from the last time I'd crock-potted! UGH!!! After I scrubbed that mess out, I needed to find a recipe and came up with this one that sounded quick and simple, yet delicious. Fortunately, I've been restocking out depleted spice cabinet lately, so I happened to have everything on hand that I needed. I was dubious about that "no added liquid" thing, but I went ahead just the same.


Oh, and while I was gathering the ingredients for that, I was rummaging through my baking cabinet and found the Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Bread mix that I'd gotten inexpensively a month or two ago. It was for the bread machine, and I hadn't given that a workout in a while, so... I made that, too!

It's pretty good. Jack even asked me to make it again, soon!

We're not gluten-free people here, so I probably bought that because it was the cheapest thing. I'll try anything once. ;)

As for the bicycle? It was on the table, and I'm random like that...


After the bread machine started, I rubbed my spice mix all over the cleaned chicken. That was one big bird. With all the chicken we've been having lately, I just knew there would be lots left over to make something else.


Oh, my word. The "100 Days of Real Food" recipe chick was right: no liquid needed and it still literally fell off the bones. That was fun, fishing all those bones and meat out of the onions... I'm a biologist, but there were way more bones in that chicken than I thought there'd be. :P (Rob is usually the bones person; I leave that up to him.)

It was amazing, though. While I was cleaning the carcass and pulling fallen meat out of the broth, I kept sampling it. More and more, I was putting meat in my throat instead of the bowl...! This recipe got printed out and will be added to my frequent rotation. Yummo!


If you're wondering, "what about school?" it's because the kids are all sick. They were lying around in my bed together, napping and watching YouTube videos on their Kindle Fires. Three days of nonstop resting later, and we should be good-to-go for school tomorrow!


And then, the pièce de résistance, homemade pasta! I enlisted the help of Big Red, my lovely KitchenAid mixer, for this task. I don't have the pasta attachments for it - yet - but I boldly went where no me has gone before and decided to whip up some fresh ravioli with some of that chicken from the crock pot.

I also used my Ninja food processor to mutilate purée the chicken into wee bits for the ravioli filling. Love that thang!

Rob said, "There's no way you're going to be able to get it thin enough for ravioli," which my female brain interpreted as, "You can't do it," so of course, do it I must.


I used this recipe for the pasta dough and semi-unvented the chicken filling myself: puréed chicken from the roasted crockpot one, sautéed garlic in EVOO (just two cloves, let's not get carried away here), a bunch of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (I'm not big on measuring when I'm unventing), a wee pinch of nutmeg, some tarragon (because it smelled good compared to the chicken, and I wanted something green and had no fresh parsley or spinach), the two eggs, and voilá! Filling!

The funny thing is, I made enough pasta dough for, oh, about two dozen ravioli, and enough filling for four or five times as much! So I froze the rest for later... later may come sooner than I thought, though, because all 4 of the rest of Team Odette wolfed them down and asked for more.


While that was being prepared, naturally I made an Italian bread to go with it. Bread-machine bread, not by-hand bread, but that's okay because it was good enough for everyone else to ask for more of that, too!

I served four of the ravioli, some buttered Italian bread, and some Tuscan pasta sauce (thanks, Barilla, since I had no tomatoes for homemade that-nessto Rob, and then I stood there and watched him eat while I held my breath. Trés annoying, I know, but that's me for you.

He liked it, he really liked it!

(I ate two and it was okay, but I couldn't keep it down... so that affected my opinion.)

When I got up today, all the ravioli were gone, and the kids were raving about it. That's a good sign!

I must confess, I was pretty proud of myself. I done did it!


Gratuitous picture of Chloë snuggling with Pepper


Gratuitous picture of Chloë, asleep on her schoolwork, sick as a dog

So there ya go. I still haven't cleaned up the kitchen, but I'm starting to feel a Manic Thursday coming on. It'll get done today, by George... but probably not before I restock the cookies and who-knows-what-else.

C'mon over, if you're hungry!



Running For My Life


At the beginning of 2013, I resolved (among other things) to start the Couch-to-5K Running Plan. I kept having 57 "good" reasons why not to start yet... until this past Sunday, when I ran out of reasons not to run.

And so, I ran, Week One Day One.

I fell, hard, on my side that night while dancing sillishly around the living room, so I took Monday and Tuesday nights off.

And tonight, I ran again. 

Week One, Day Two complete. 

I'm going to keep it up and run a 5K sometime in 2014, hopefully the Tropical 5K in Miami Beach on February 1st. I can't find where to register - or how much it'll be - so that's not a fer-sure just yet, but that's the one for which I'm aiming!

* * *

When I was born, I had a serious heart defect that required an operation to save my life. My parents, devout Christian Scientists, opted to pray instead of get the surgery. I survived.

Ever since then, my mom's parents treated me with kid gloves whenever I exerted myself in any way, shape or fashion. They freaked out when I ran every night in high school, and when I started roller blading in college, and again when I got my SCUBA certification after graduation. 

(I mean, how can you be a marine biologist without some SCUBA diving, am I right?!)

Grandma and Grandpa are both gone now, but I think they'll be proud of me when I do the 5K next year. They'll probably freak up there, but they'll watch anxiously. And be proud when I finish without having to walk, which I will, by golly.

And you know what? It's not often that I have self-pride, but I think my own chest will be puffed up a little bit after that, too.

It'll be the 5th anniversary of my gastric bypass surgery, and running the 5K is how I plan to mark the occasion. 

I can't wait...


Music Monday: Pretty In Pink

I'm playing along again, for the 2nd time, with X-Mas Dolly, Stacy Uncorked, Callie from JAmericanSpiceCathy from Cathy Kennedy’s Blogand Naila Moon at Just the Stuff Ya Know.

This week's chosen theme is "pink," to continue the theme of October's breast cancer awareness month.

I'm going to go with Pink Floyd, in a stunning departure from my normal pop music preferences, and start with "Comfortably Numb":

(I know the feeling: I'm bi-polar, so without medication my emotions run amok. However, when I have taken my meds, especially when I've taken the ones as-needed for anxiety and schtuff, I myself am comfortably numb.

I've been taking those as-needed drogas a lot lately... :\

Next up, because I'm a homeschooling mama and my kids often seem to think that they "don't need no education," we have The Wall:


And since we're pretty isolated here south of Miami and have been going through a wicked hard time lately, we have "Wish You Were Here":


I'll leave you with this one thought, since we know so many of you guys love to listen to Dark Side of the Moon while watching the silenced Wizard of Oz:


My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the storms in Illinois & Missouri this past weekend. I hope your skies are blue again soon.


Sundays In My City: Seafood Fest

Unknown Mami

Link up with Unknown Mami if you're showing us your town!


We went to the Fish Fry & Seafood Festival at Fruit & Spice Park here in Homestead on Saturday. Here's Rob, a.k.a. "Hubs," who is now in so much pain he has to walk with a cane, along with our oldest, his mini-me, Chloë.


At the entrance, this older gent was blowing magnificent bubbles; of course, all the kids wanted a try, and he was gracious enough to let them.


Sophie went first. She'd won that ball at the arcade on Thursday and didn't even put it down for her turn at the bubbles. She grew a great one; it extended at least six feet!


Jack had a more difficult time with the bubble wand, presumable because of his diminutive stature. The wand had to be lifted up in the air to work properly, and, well, Jack isn't exactly sky-high, you know?


Chloë did alright, but she's so darn dainty, the bubbles were weak to match!


We never fail to stop for these photo-op boards whenever we see one!


Sophia in ten years?!

{I like her better as a coconut.}


The owner of this dog had no idea what he was or even whether he was an albino, but no matter, for he was very sweet and gentle with the children. Rob and I are in hot debate over whether his eyes were white or pale blue, but again, what difference does it make? We'll never see (heh) him again.


When they spied the colorful tents and banners ahead, the kiddos were off to the races!


There were little fishing and other games set up, but no one was manning them, so... we didn't know if they were supposed to collect money, or if there were prizes, or just what. Whatevs. We moved on quickly.


My boys weren't quite prepared for me to turn the camera on them at this moment!


I had wanted to look at these wee ponies to see if they were priced to ride, but the kids saw them before I had a chance to sneak away and ask. The caretakers (and I use that term loosely, as the horses seemed like maybe they weren't treated so well) didn't speak a lick of English, so when the kids peppered them with questions about the ponies, I had to translate as quickly as possible.


Sophia wanted to know what this horse's name was, but the owner (?) said they didn't have names. So he made one up: "Dumbo." Really? Sad. :(


Having heard the pizza saying numerous times, I thought the fried fish vendor's t-shirt was, well, lame. I had to take a picture because...because. I have no good reason, dammit.


We ordered the fried fish, shrimp and clamps (with fries) platter from her. Only, they were out of the shrimp, so we could either have extra fish or extra clams. The fish was tilapia, which I find blander than tolerable, so we opted for clams. But really, I'm pretty sure we got the standard amount of clams and forfeited anything supposedly "extra." I snagged an extra packet of tartar sauce in retaliation. Yeah. Take that.

(Okay, so it was free for the taking, but I felt better.)


The park path surrounded a wide, open field where the kids could run and play. Since Sophie'd brought her ball, she was popular amongst the rest of the rugrats. They ran, and ran, and ran some more, growing ever hotter in the face and sweatier by the minute. I don't know what the temps are where you live, but here in southern Miami-Dade County, we still cross the 80º-mark on a daily basis.


There was a girl singing the latest Top 40 music up on the stage and while she was nice and loud, her enunciation was crap. She could carry a decent tune, but who knew what she was saying? And since I listen to pop music, I tried. I really did. Finallly I just started singing along, loudly (hey, everyone there but us was drunk, so who cared?) to prove that I could figure out her enigmatic little singerin' style. I amuse myself in such odd ways...


This was a seafood festival, after all, so we did come for the food. I picked up another platter at a different booth: two crabcakes sammiches and six conch fritters, a much better deal. I'm somewhat of a crabcake aficionada, and I've taken my lumps (oh, there's a joke, but I'm afraid it's a bomber). Well, these cakes were nothing to write home about. I'm always on the lookout for the crabcake to beat Uncle Chuck's at the Virginia Beach Farmer's Market, and I'm telling you, it just doesn't exist. Add that to the short list of things I miss about living in the Chesapeake Bay region.


After our bellies were stuffed more than appropriate, we all petered out for the excursion. Jack sat down by me and toyed with some grass, so I snapped a photo. And yes, he really was wearing eleventy different shades of blue. I don't really care what they wear as long as they're dressed; they're free to sartorially express themselves any way they want.


Sophia was annoyed at being called over to start toward the car, so she hid her face from my lens. The poop.


I really have nothing to say about this picture of my Chlo; I try to snap away equally amongst the lot of them and so there she was. However, if ever a kid was made for leggings, she's the one!


Many of you have been raking leaves for months while we have been ... not. Here's your proof that Autumn does, indeed, come to South Florida. On a smaller scale, admittedly, but it happens.


We meandered slowly back toward the park entrance. Little did we know, not having read the signs until we were just leaving, that you're supposed to eat your way off the trees throughout the park. Pretty nifty, huh? We'll definitely be back to do that. I'll bring my appetite.


The O.N.E. Coconut Water folks were there to pass out small sample cups of their beverage, and Sophia brazenly asked if she could have a whole carton of it! I told her no, honey, that's for sharing with everyone, but the young lady there went ahead and gave her one, probably since it was the end of the day and that would be one less thing to lug back to their van. Soap was ONE HAPPY CAMPER; this smile belies how much joy the child expressed. (And yes, it was delicious.)


The Odettelettes were pooped, so they sat on a bench by the office to enjoy their cold, tasty drink. 


Hubs modeled a hat in the shop; he's forever on the prowl for a good topper but we have yet to find it. Do you think this one suits him?

That's it for me for the photo stream. Hope you enjoyed the pictures, and I also hope I have some new fodder for next weekend!


Sunday Stealing: The ASK Meme, Part The First


Link up here if you're playing along today!


The ASK Meme, part one 

1. What’s your favorite candle scent? 


I love all the fruity scents, but apple is my favorite!

2. What female celebrity do you wish was your sister? 


Parker Posey just seems like she'd be so much fun as a big sister!

3. What male celebrity do you wish was your brother? 

These two questions were hard for me, but I picked Drew Carey. He just seems like a really cool guy.

4. How old do you think you’ll be when you get married? 


I was 24... that's about what I figured it would be.

5. Do you know a hoarder? 

Well, no, not really. But since we've downsized into a place about a third as big as our home in Virginia Beach and have only half-finished unpacking, people might think we are!! (We're not. We're getting rid of as much as we can, as fast as we can!)

6. Can you do a split? 


I googled "Painful Split" and of course, lots of celebrities who divorced came up... along with, inexplicably. this. Ha! But no, I can't anymore. I used to be able to, but my joints are locked up tight now.

7. How old were you when you learned how to ride a bike? 


I was 7 before I got rid of my training wheels. My kids still need them; we can't afford proper bikes for them. I wish we could... :(

8. How many oceans have you swam in? 


Two: The Atlantic a million times, and the Pacific, namely Tumon Bay in Guam, like in the picture above. Yep, I was there!

9. How many countries have you been to? 

I've been on several cruises, so that ups my count a lot. Namely: USA, Canada, Mexico, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, {Puerto Rico}, {Guam}, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama, Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Greece, Croatia, and I think I'm forgetting one or two in there... But I've lots more to go!

10. Is anyone in your family in the military? 

My husband just retired from 20 years of service in the US Navy. My grandfather served in the Navy in WWII, and my Uncle Chris was also in the Navy. My dad was in the Coast Guard. I don't have anyone in currently, though.

11. Have you named any of your body parts? 


A long, long time ago, my boobs were Chip and Dale... lol. But no, I don't do that now.

12. If you had a child today, what would you name him/her? 


I'd give anything to have more, but that's impossible. A girl would be Victoria Jane, and a boy would be either Jasper James or Sebastian James. Jasper Sebastian is probably too much!!

13. What’s the worst grade you got on a test? 


I've never gotten an F, but I did get a D on an Ichthyology exam that I'd studied my ass off for in graduate school. That killed me!

14. What was your favorite TV show when you were a child? 


I used to love this show!!

15. What did you dress up as on Halloween when you were eight? 


Who remembers? That was nearly 30 years ago for me...

16. Have you read any of the Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Twilight series? 

Nope, nor seen the movies. It's just not my cup of tea.

17. Would you rather have an American accent or a British accent? 


I'd love to have a British accent!

18. Did your mother go to college? 


I think, but I'm not positive, that she did a semester or a year at Bronx Community College. Don't quote me on that, though...

19. Are your grandparents still married? 


All of my grandparents are gone, now.

20. Have you ever taken karate lessons? 


No, but that is something I think it would be fun to do. My parents went to one lesson when I was small, and my mom came running out of the dojo with my dad chasing after her. She'd done a kick and peed her pants! Hahaha...

21. Do you know who Kermit the Frog is? 


Sure, doesn't everybody?!

22. What was the first amusement park you’ve been to? 


I really can't remember the first one, maybe Disney World?? When I was five, with my grandparents? But I most remember Darien Lake from my childhood, in Western New York.

23. What language, besides your native language, would you like to be fluent in? 

I'd love to be fluent in ALL the languages, but especially Italian. It's so beautiful to the ears, melodious even.

24. Do you spell the color as grey or gray? 



25. Is your father bald?


Yes, and he sports a pretty bad toupee if you ask me... but he refuses to stop wearing it, and that's his prerogative. Whatevs!



Saturday 9: 1, 2, 3 4


Link up here if you're playing along today!


Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here

1) In this song, the singer tells his girl he appreciates how she makes him feel. Who is the most supportive person in your life?

Well, that would have to be Rob (aka Hubs). He's always supportive of me; I can't fault him there at all!

2)  Our singer only has to count to 4, which is a cinch. Do you understand the more sophisticated math sciences, like geometry and algebra?

I aced Calculus II at University, the same semester I spent weeks in the hospital with complications from Mono. A little geometry and algebra don't scare me! ;)

  3) This video features a couple who shared their first kiss behind the high school. Tell us about your first kiss.

It was with Ken M. at Tri-County Mall in Baldwinsville, NY. We were behind a post at one end of the mall, away from all the little old ladies and their prying, disapproving eyes. I was madly in love with him and those kisses! Unforgettable.

4) Filmed in Chicago, this video features the Art Institute of Chicago, home to works by Monet, Gauguin and Van Gogh. How do you express your creativity? (Draw, paint, write, sing or play music ... )

I sing, I knit and crochet, and I do random crafts that appeal to me in the moment. I can't paint worth a lick and am only quarterly-decent at drawing, but I love to belt out a good tune!

5) Chicago is home to two of the world's tallest buildings -- the Willis aka Sears Tower and The John Hancock Center (which appears briefly in this video). Both have observation decks that offer panoramic views of the city. Are you afraid of heights? 

I am but not deathly so. I've been at the top of the Empire State Building and looked down - well, as much as you can on that building - without fear, and I love to fly... but I get vertigo, so heights don't always sit well with me.

6) The Plain White T's got their start in Lombard, a suburb of Chicago and home to Yorktown Center -- a huge, two-story shopping mall. Do you enjoy going to the mall, or would you rather shop online, or in small, independent stores?

Either of the latter two; I hate malls. Hate a shopping center. I'll go, but I have to have a good reason and am usually trying to get in and out quickly. I love supporting small, local businesses and I adore shopping from my living room!

7) Naturally, Yorktown Center has a food court. Would you prefer a pretzel from Auntie Anne's, a cinnamon roll from Cinnabon or a cookie from Mrs. Field's? 

None of the above, since I can't really eat those anymore without getting violently ill. Nowadays, I'll circle the perimeter of the food court, gathering samples. One round and my 'pouch' is FULL. I'm a cheap date, what can I say?

8) While we're at the mall … Imagine you're at the customer service counter of a big department store. As you wait for help, you see an older lady pocket a Timex watch. Would you turn her in or look the other way?

I don't care who it is, stealing is stealing. Sorry, lady, but cuff 'er!

9) Which puzzle would you have more success with: crossword or sudoku?

I'm equally good at both. I do my crosswords in pen (just like my grandma did), and same with Sudoku. If the puzzle says "easy," I normally skip it unless I'm already having a challenging day!


Friday Fragments, Version 11.15.13


Link up with Mrs. 4444 if you're fraggin' today! 

If you've been following along here for some time, you know that my husband, Rob, retired in June of this year and subsequently had 5 Cyberknife surgeries on his brain tumor. The Cyberknife worked; the tumor is gone, but it also caused more problems: there is bleeding and swelling in Rob's brain, and he's been in and out of the Neuro-ICU for months to get treatment.

Well, an update:

I took him for yet another MRI on Monday, and brought him to the neurosurgeon's office on Tuesday to go over the test. He confirmed the tumor IS gone, and depending on contrast, it looks like the swelling is going down.

That's all well and good, but Rob has to stay on the problematic steroid meds that have caused a 30-lb weight gain, major joint pain (he's walking with a cane now, at 41), mental confusion, and a host of other issues he'd probably rather I didn't report here. After the next planned MRI in January, we're hoping he can step down off the Decadron, because ugh! It's terrible for him. 

Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers during this time.


No more Odyssey for us. We got our Honda Ody in 2010, at the end of the model year. Three years and change later, we were here, at home, when Jack said there was someone outside. It was late at night. I opened the door, and there was Penelope being towed away, at racehorse speed, unceremoniously. 

We have LoJack, so we knew exactly where it was, and why:

1.  Our registration was expired, because we missed a few payments and Honda wouldn't, therefore, give us the title information so we could go get new, current, Florida tags. So our homeowner's association had us towed, right from our reserved parking space. At 11 PM. NICE.

2. In order to get it back, we needed to show current title and tag information. Honda now said no, we would need to pay the full $18K owed on the vehicle in order to get that from them. REALLY NICE. Guess fewer people care about retired veterans (with brain tumors, no less) than you might think?!

3. Not having 18K, we took some of the money we received as a donation from a veteran's fund to buy this (pictured above) 2004 Chevy Trailblazer in cash, paid in full, and immediately got new tags and stickers so we would not get towed again. This was about 5 or 6 weeks after Penelope got towed. Rob was trying to buy us a car, but his brain was too muddled to complete the process, so I took over and got it done in one day. I got fed up with all the walking everywhere, needless to say!

4. Today, a week after getting "Miguel" (because this Chevy felt masculine to me, and because the seller spoke only Spanish, LOL), we finally went down to the [email protected]$$ tow lot to get all of our belongings - including the kids' booster seats - out of Penelope. On our way home, I called up Honda and told them where they could pick up their freakin' van. The guy on the phone was actually very sympathetic; he actually apologized and sounded genuinely sorry when I explained our situation, but of course there was nothing he could do about it.

So. That's that. Miguel is pretty decent, has a few minor problems and fixes are necessary, but we'll get to those in time. My only real complaint is that there is no 3rd row of seating, so the kids are all right next to each other in the back, and Oh. My. God, are they driving us crazy with the squabbling!! They aren't used to that, but guess what? They'll have to get used to it, because this is what we've got right now!


I love globes. I love maps; I love anything that represents traveling the world (or even space)! So when we spied this antique wooden one at the thrift store across the street from the tow place, I had to mosy on over there and take a wee gander. Rob was guessing $150, while I thought more like a hundred bucks, but the guy only wanted $75. Nevertheless, it was about $74 more than I was prepared to spend at the moment, so I had to take a pass. I walked quickly through the terribly-cool shop to see what other wares he had, and I found quite a few interesting things. I bought nothing, but it sure was fun to take a peek!


Since we've been house-bound for a month and a half, or however long we didn't have a vehicle, I've been suffering a bad case of cabin fever. So I got on the computer yesterday morning and, after deciding driving down to Key West and back was not what I wanted, looked around Groupon to see if there were any good deals on something fun (and cheap!) we could do closer to home. (It's about a 7-hour round-trip to Key West from here.) I found it! We headed up to Sawgrass Mills Mall, in Fort Lauderdale, Groupon for the arcade in hand, to have some much-needed respite from all the drama and negativity we've been dealing with for a while. The kids LOVE the fountains there; they are always walking up and around them and making wishes... I hope they come true.


The Groupon was for two hours of unlimited play on the attractions, including tons and tons of awesome games and ticket-giving machines for redeeming prizes. Gameroom is a really fun place for kids, if you're ever in Ft. Laudie... Sophia played this claw game and won a huge ball that she's been driving me crazy ever since, bouncing and tossing around in the house. It's just a matter of time until something gets broken...!

So, we were hoping Rob would get at least a 30% disability determination from the VA. They recently made their decision: 90%! We are no longer destitute, struggling to put food on the table, and all that fun stuff. We can finally pay our bills again, have a running, paid-off vehicle, plenty of food, and can occasionally actually go do something. It's a really good feeling. Honey, I'm sorry that the Navy broke you, but thank you for your service to our country - and our family. ♥

Lowe's Build & Grow

The kids had a Build & Grow Clinic at Lowe's on Saturday morning. Rob usually takes them, but he wasn't up to it, so for the first time I went. Oh, my word. First, there are 3 dozen kids, pounding away, so I was glad not to have one of my ever-present headaches.

Second, I'm not so good with building stuff. It's just not my forte. So when the kids asked me for help, I was all, "uhh, uhh, okayyy, I'll try..." and they looked at me just as uncertainly as I was looking at the directions. 

In the end, my kiddos stayed true to form, and this is how it went:

Jack decided to skip Mommy's help and went off in a corner to build it himself. He did a good job, since he's very perfecting and meticulous about these things, but his pull-back car wouldn't go. He was pretty mad about it and didn't want to take the dang thing home. I insisted.

Chloë, my dainty little flower, needed TONS of help hammering in her nails, and she followed the directions to a 'T.' Her car didn't go when pulled back, either, but she didn't care because she decorated it with pretty little pink flower stickers, and that was good enough for her.

Sophia didn't follow the directions at ALL, needed a bare minimum of help from me - just to finish hammering in a few nails - and her car worked perfectly. That's my Sophie for you! 

That's about it from me this week. We're headed to the Fish Fry and Seafood Festivale here in Homestead tomorrow (another cheap Groupon!), so look for pictures of that on "Sundays in my City" in a coupla days.






Thursday's Sunday Stealing: The What's What Meme


I'm late, I'm late, to a very important date... Link up here!

The What's What Meme 

What is on your bed right now? 


Absolutely nothing - not even sheets. Maybe a couple pieces of laundry, but that's it!

What’s your favorite word or phrase? 

"Word." Or, if I'm questioning the veracity of something, "Word?" It's a dual-edged sword. ;)

What is the best ice cream flavor? 

Usually, I'd say chocolate with chunks of peanut butter, but I'm feelin' pistachio right now.

Did you wake up smiling this morning?

I woke up around 8 AM after sleeping since early evening the night before. I slept well, but man, I kept my contacts in and they were gross! So, not quite.

Is there something in your life you used to have, and now miss? 

Yes. My son, Robby, and my mom.

What major company would you like to work for? 

I know this sounds silly, and I don't really work for them (though I would in a heartbeat), but I was literally just telling Rob the other day that I love being a JAFRA consultant. I love every product we make, I love what the company stands for, and I'm proud to be associated with them! Truly!

What time do you wake up on a typical morning? 

Well, I have the oddest sleeping schedule. I don't sleep well at night (it's 4:03 AM now), and I don't stay asleep well. I usually stay up for a day or three in a row and then crash, burn, repeat. Sucks, I hate it, but that is the way it is and I no longer try to fight it.

What holiday makes you sad? 

Get the picture? ;)

Where does a good night’s sleep rank on your priorities? 

Ew!! I can SMELL that!

It doesn't rank very high (see above).

One song that makes you cry? 

Three songs do, actually, and we played them at our son's memorial service: "Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton, "The Day You Gave Me a Son" by Babyface, and "To Where You Are" by Josh Groban. I'm crying now, just thinking of those songs.

 How old was your mom when she had you?


She was 25. I wanted to be 25 when I had my first baby, too. Chloë came the day before my 25th birthday. Rats, so close!

When is the last time you went to the beach? 

We were in Miami's South Beach at the end of August, hanging out with my friend Kellee who was in from Vegas. Good times - until the sky opened up, and then we ran!

What is the most random object around you? 

Probably my 8yo daughter, Sophia's Twilight Sparkle My Little Pony... loves those things!

 What is your favorite sushi? 

I love anything with avocado in it. Sushi = yum!

What food do you find disgusting? 

Lots of things, but speaking of sushi, do NOT try the sea urchin kind. OMG, YUCK! Even my gastrically-adventurous husband thinks it's nasty. Take his word, if not mine.

If you could have any type of dog in the world, what would it be?

I would give anything to have a long-haired chihuahua puppy!

What was the last meal that you made for yourself? 

Does driving to Pizza Hut last night count? I mean, I dialed the phone, placed the order and drove over there to pick up the food. That totally counts. Right?!

Is the hard drive on your computer full or getting close to being full?

No, but I constantly have to delete things off my iPhone to keep that from getting full. It's tres annoying.

Are there any songs that you prefer the acoustic version over the regular version?


Unplugged was my first (of many) Eric Clapton albums, so I fell in love with the acoustic version of every song on the album. "Layla," maybe? I don't know. I love them ALL. 




A Thursday Saturday 9: Potential New Boyfriend

Linkage is here if you're a way-late-comer to this party like I am!

I took a bit of a bloggy break for a week or two, but I'm ready to get back in the groove. What way to get back at it then a meme or two? Shall we? Here we go!

Unfamiliar with this week's featured song? Hear it here

1) In this song, Dolly Parton locks eyes with a definite maybe. What's the first thing that attracts you to a potential new boyfriend or girlfriend? If you're currently in a relationship, what first attracted you to your partner?
The first thing that I notice is always the eyes. It's funny, because in the first picture (we met online) that I saw of Rob, he was wearing sunglasses! So in this one case, it was his words that attracted me. I knew from his first email; I thought to myself, "I'm going to marry this guy." Two months later, I did!

2) When Dolly was still a very young girl, she met Johnny Cash, who told her to follow her instincts and pursue a music career. Obviously this worked out very well for her. What's the best advice you've ever received?
I am a very sensitive, introspective, self-flagellating person (mentally). So when I started my JAFRA business, my manager told me not to take the rejection to heart. She taught to say to myself, "Some will, some won't, so what, who's next?" Almost 15 years later, I still say it to myself!

3) Dolly enjoys telling interviewers how she met her husband at the Wishy-Washy Laundromat in Nashville. Do you have a load of dirty clothes, or some other household chore, waiting for you after you finish this week's Saturday 9?
Always. I'm raising three young'uns, so there are always mountains of laundry everywhere. I cannot contain the beast! Oy vey.

4) Dolly's Imagination Library is a charity devoted to children's literacy. What book did you enjoy as a kid? Or, if you're a parent, what book did you enjoy sharing with your own children?
My favorite book was Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel. So much fun to read aloud! With my kids, I'm grateful to my MIL for sending all of Shel Silverstein's poetry books, because we always enjoy reading those together.

5) Dolly's theme park, Dollywood, is a very popular vacation destination. When you have time off, would you rather travel or have friends/relatives visit you?
Oh, gosh, hands down I would rather travel. I would love to see every corner of the earth before I die. Except maybe Somalia. I could stand to skip the pirate thing.

6) Dolly is godmother to Miley Cyrus. If you could advise Miley, what would you say?

Maybe something like, "Honey, do you want to be remembered for being naked, drunk, and high? Or smart? Because, right now, you're not being thought of as the latter..."
7) Dolly has earned a reputation for being very warm and friendly to the public. Have you ever had a celebrity encounter? 
I've told this a few times on here, but I always like to share it. I used to read Dave Barry's syndicated Miami Herald column way back in my early days, from age 7 on, up in the Syracuse Post-Standard. Every Sunday, without fail, I looked for his column, and how I would laugh! So when I moved to Florida to attend the University of Miami, I worked at the Publix grocery store in Coral Gables, and lo and behold, Dave Barry and his wife Michelle came in All. The. Time to shop there!
The first time I saw him was on a Sunday, so I grabbed a newspaper and followed him around, super shyly, to get an autograph. I cherished that column for years until it got damaged in a move. He used to come through my check-out line all the time, and when I moved up to the office, he'd come up there to me. He bought gift certificates for turkeys to give out every Thanksgiving. Really great, nice guy. 

8) As you can see by the photo, this song was originally released on vinyl. Do you still have any old-school LPs or 45s?
No, I haven't had any of those in years, but I believe Hubs still does, somewhere... in a box.

9) Sam simply cannot stand Dish TV's Hopper commercial, where hysterical grown men hide under the bed and up in a tree house because they're afraid of ... something. What commercial just bugs the beejeesus out of you?
Any lawyer commercial, especially the traffic ones where they freakin' scream at you. When I worked at the law firm, Jim (the owner-lawyer) said he couldn't stand the guys who had to advertise on TV, or in the phone book, or whatever. He said the best way to get clients was word-of-mouth, because that meant you had a great reputation. That's the kind of lawyer he wanted to be - and he was. ♥

Sunday Stealing: Time Slippin' Meme


Link up here if you're playing along this week, too! Pretty please?


1) Do you think Daylight Saving Time is still necessary?


Sure. I can't think of a good reason why not.


2) How long does it take you to adjust to the time change? 


That's debatable. I don't have a normal Circadian rhythm like regular folks, so either no time at all, or all the time in the world...


3) What's the hardest part of the time change? 


Remembering to change the gadgets - like the microwave - that don't automatically adjust in today's digital world.


4) How many clocks are in your house? 


Right now, just the microwave and all the gadgets. We don't have a traditional wall clock up at the moment.


5) Are you generally early, late, or on time? 


Early. On time is "late" to me.

6) If an invitation to an event listed the time as 8-11pm, what time would you arrive? 


Well, that's different. I thought we were talking about, like, doctor appointments and such. I would try to get there by 8:30 PM at the latest, though.


7) Do you wear a watch? 


Almost never. I have an iPhone in my hand at all times; for what do I need a watch? ;P


8) Have you ever glanced at the time and had to glance again because you didn't pay attention the first time? 


haha, yes, I do that ALL. The. Time.


9) Are most of your clocks digital or dial? 


I had to teach the kids how to read an analog clock in our math lessons recently, and it took a long time to grasp because it was such a foreign concept to them. So the answer, therefore, is digital.


10) What does your alarm clock sound like?


Annoying, like a true alarm clock should.


11) Do you use the snooze feature on your alarm clock?


Constantly. Always. Yes. It's my BFF.


12) Does clock ticking drive you nuts?


Only when I'm trying desperately to sleep and that's the only sound I can hear. But generally speaking, no. I can tune it out pretty well.


Have a great week, folks!



Saturday 9: Twilight Zone

Link up here if you're late to the party like me this week! ;)
And away we go!
Unfamiliar with this week's featured song? Hear it here.
1) This is one of the first songs to see a bump in sales after its video was shown on MTV. Do you ever watch music videos?
No, but only because we don't have any television service and I have no speakers on my computer right now. Okay, who am I kidding - I probably wouldn't anyway, anymore!
2) Golden Earring is from the Netherlands. The average life expectancy there is 79 years old. Who is the oldest person you know?
I don't think she'd like for me to tell you that, so I'm keeping "Mum." ;) Haha!

3) The song's composer says the song and especially the video were inspired by the 1980 book, The Bourne Identity. The espionage thriller was finally made into a movie with Matt Damon in 2002. Do you have a favorite secret agent/spy?
Not really, although who doesn't love James Bond? My favorite movie is the long-ago Octopussy, but probably only because I remember watching it when my mother was alive.
4) The song's title comes from The Twilight Zone TV show, which ran from 1959 to 1964. Are there any old shows that you enjoy watching in reruns?
Sigh... see answer to #1 for that, again. I do miss TV sometimes.
5) "All guys cheat on their girlfriends, so yeah, I forgive him." Sam heard a young woman say that into her phone as they waited in line at the drugstore. While Sam is always surprised by how much personal information people share in the public, that's not what we're concentrating on this morning. Do you think that it's true? Do all guys cheat on their girlfriends?
Absolutely not. While I've been cheated on a fair number of times, there are also plenty of times I'm sure that I haven't.
6) Whenever Sam goes to the grocery store she picks up Snausages  because her dog looks at her with sad eyes when she tries to reward him anything else. What product has your brand loyalty?
Nutella. I always get a jar (or two) of Nutella when I'm doing a long-haul shopping trip. Because chocolate and hazelnut, duh.
7) Do you have a piggy bank or a coin jar?
Sort of. Not in the traditional sense, but when I was graduating high school, my BFF Dr. Lisa wanted to give me a present, and I asked for a globe. She couldn't afford a full-size, standard globe at the time, so she gave me a mini bank one. I still have it, and I use it to store all the international coins I've collected from my (and Hubs') travels over the years. Pretty cool usage there, huh?
8) Sam knows that she's always supposed to wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days, but she sometimes forgets. What do you know you should do, but sometimes don't?
Exercise and eat my vegetables. I even have doctor's orders now to do so, to help prevent worsening of my recently-diagnosed glaucoma, but... it's Halloween and candy and lazy-Mel time, you know?! I need to.
9) Retailers report that sales of Halloween costumes for grown-ups are strong. Since Halloween was earlier this week and there will be parties this weekend ... What's your costume for Halloween 2013?  If you aren't dressing up this year, tell us about one of your favorite outfits from a Halloween gone by.
I didn't dress up this year, but last year I had both a cavewoman costume, for trick-or-treating with the kids, and a half-devil/half-angel costume that I wore to a Halloween party/concert that I attended. I was skinnier then, so I probably wouldn't have looked as hot in it this year! Must work on that...
Well that was fun. See ya next week, Sat-9ers! ;)

Halloween 2013: Trick Or Treat?


Well, hello there, you.

Chloë, my 12-year-old, bought her Cleopatra costume at Wal-Mart with a birthday gift card she received in September. I thought she looked gorgeous, and I could tell she felt pretty, too. It's important.


Jack, my 10-year-old, decided to be the Grim Reaper instead of using the bloody mask from the Scream movies at the last minute. We were given another Wal-Mart gift card, unexpectedly, so we used it for his costume. For the longest time, he wanted the Scream mask, but at Walmart, we couldn't find one in his size. 

It's kind of cool because up until this year, he didn't really want anything scary and wasn't into that whole part of Hallowe'en. But this year, he was all about screaming and scaring and BOO and ahh! He's TEN, you guys. He's growing up. My God.


Sophia, well, I guess she wanted to be a little princess-y and a little scary, because this 8-year-old of mine chose the "Bride of Darkness" costume at Wally-world. Only, she refused to wear the headpiece for the actual trick-or-treating session, so it was more bride and less darkness.

We had to wait until almost 7PM to go out, because it was sooo hot and bright and sunny here in the Miami area. It's still 85ºF during the day, so I didn't want them to melt inside their costumes.


Even then, it was still hot and light out when we got started, and they did melt inside their 'stumes! Sophia gave up a half-hour into the fun, but Jack and Chloë stuck it out until nearly 8PM. They were sweet (no pun intended), though, and shared plenty of their candy with Sophie when we returned home to find her sitting around in undies and watching a DVD!

If you read back, you'll see I made LOADS of packets of candy treats up for our trick-or-treaters, and then we got, like, three. Three kids. I was SO bummed!

Around 8:30, long after we'd given up on getting more kids (and I'd raided the stash for some Peanut M&Ms), the doorbell ring. Oh, my gosh, you guys! There were HORDES of kids outside, waiting for candy! Tha heck?! I guess we'll go out later next year because many houses we hit ourselves were empty or not ready yet, and maybe that's how it works in Miami-land. Dunno, but I was SO glad to unload all that candy on the kids after all.


Anyway, when I was taking my three kiddos around the nabe, they did get a Christian-y handout instead of candy (which is fine but misguided, IMHO, because no kid is reading that. Especially mine, since it was in español...) at one house, and another house had the light on but no candy inside. No worries! The owner went inside and brought them each out $2 cash for their buckets. What the what?! I hope he was planning on doing that and/or didn't get too many kids if he wasn't, because yeah. The Odettelettes were stoked, though, of course!

SO, that brings me to Aloha Friday. Link up with A Renaissance Woman if you're playing along. My question for you this week is:

Do you participate in the traditional Halloween festivities?

You don't have to explain why not, if you don't, but you're more than welcome to do so. I know everyone has their own personal reasons!

Link up on 5 Minutes For Mom if you're posting about Halloween today, too!