Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Winner, Winner, Tuna Dinner!

Because we had tuna for dinner tonight! :) And I have a giveaway winner! I used random.org to choose a winner, and that winner is:

Andrea - who wrote: "awwwww Terri - thanks for popping by to tell me to hustle over ;)the warmers are something I always use and a book about horses is sure to draw my attention too!I will link my blog(s?) to this - of course! I just twitted about it too - and could facebook too but not sure anybody I have on facebook is a big reader ;)"

And a secondary winner, because I love you guys:

Heidi D, who wrote: "Oooooo! I want them! When you mentioned they have lavender in them...{big grin}...must have pillows!!! Lindsay would love that book too. She really adores horses and I love a well written book, so perfect! I actually have a blog buddy that lives in Kentucky. I wonder if she's heard of this place. I'll have to ask her. Great giveaway by the way. :)"

So, winners - get in touch with me to give me your addresses and tell me how you want your book autographed and we'll get something in the mail ASAP! And, to everyone else - thank you so much for entering! Have a great week!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Catching Up & A Giveaway!

Well, it's already the middle of December - I can't believe I've gone so long without a post! I apologize for that - this month has just been extraordinarily busy! The operating room is running steadily at work - people are trying to get things done before they start a new deductible period. I think some folks are also a little worried about what health care reform might bring, so they're scheduling procedures now (under a system they know) rather than later (under a system they don't). I don't blame them - I'd probably do the same thing if I needed surgery, but it does mean we've been steadily busy, and some days have been crazy!

But exciting things are happening around here! Christmas is always fun, and my boys will all be home for Christmas, and I am so thankful for that. And we've had gatherings and parties and decorating and baking - whew! No wonder I haven't had ten minutes to sit down and write a blog post!

And, my long promised giveaway - I've finally pulled everything together! It's a two-parter (is that even a word? It is now, I guess!) The first part is kind of simple, but appropriate, given the current climate over most of the United States right now. In other words, baby, it's cold outside!

For the first part of my giveaway, I've made rice-filled therapy bags - a large one, a smaller one and two little hand-warmers to help keep you nice and toasty in the cold. One minute (more or less) in the microwave and these little guys will stay warm and toasty for quite a while! They can also be placed in the freezer for cold theapy - icing sore muscles or bruises or what-have-you.

They are made of soft brushed Moda flannel and the larger two are scented with lavendar (some of it grown right here at Clay Hill and Thistledew). I didn't scent the handwarmers because I figured they were more utilitarian than therapeutic. They're good for those cold mornings on your way out the door!

And now, the second part - I saved the best for last! My dear friend, Ellie Troutman of Windy Meadows, wrote a book! And it's been published! How exciting is that? And she has reserved a copy for one of you! She'll autograph your copy and ship it to you directly from Windy Meadows. It's beautifully written and beautifully illustrated, and is a perfect gift for horse lovers of any age.

I've been to Windy Meadows several times, and I can tell you that the book and the illustrations really capture the spirit of the place. There are guest cottages available on the farm, and guests can visit and tour the barns, and meet the characters. You might even be able to schedule a riding lesson, if you work that out in advance.

So, your favorite horse-crazy child or tween or teen (or adult) can read the book and then go visit the characters, either online or in person - or both! The Troutmans also have character cams, where you can log onto the website and see the horses during the working day.

Here's a photo of one of the illustrations in the book. I've walked by that very pasture on a farm visit, and I've petted the soft, velvety nose of a curious horse peeking over the fence - just as you see here. And Windy Meadows is amazing - visiting there was the most invigorating vacation I have ever had. Ellie and Randy are great hosts. Kentucky's Bluegrass Region is truly gorgeous, and Windy Meadows really is worth a visit, if you find yourself in Kentucky for any reason!

To get your autographed copy of this wonderful book AND the therapy bag collection, visit The Tails of Windy Meadows and then come back here and let me know which character you like best (I have a soft spot for Matem, myself, because he really is a sweetie and he LOVES food!). The site is still under construction, so keep that in mind when you visit, but I wanted to make this book available as soon as possible! If you blog about the giveaway I'll give you two extra entries. If you post it on Twitter or Facebook, that'll be two more entries for each post - just let me know you've done so in the comments.

I'll pick a winner Tuesday, December 15 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern time, and will ship the items as quickly as the winner gets in touch with me. We'll try to get them to you for Christmas giving! Good luck - enter early and enter often!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm Behind!

I can't believe I thought I'd be able to pull together a giveaway and a major family dinner the week my son got home from training. Sorry, everyone - I have the fabric cut but haven't managed to find more than a few minutes at a time for any actual sewing.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I found this on an online forum:

The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's, but he has never collected unemployment either.

He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and a 155mm howitzer.

He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk. He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.

He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional.

He can march until he is told to stop,or stop until he is told to march.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. He is self-sufficient.

He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry.

He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts.

If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands.

He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job.

He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay, and still find ironic humor in it all.

He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime.

He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed.

He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away ' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.

He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding.

Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.

Now, I don't mean to harp on the subject of respect for our military, but this brought tears to my eyes, perhaps because it describes two of my three boys. And I love them, and I am grateful for the gift of all three!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and please say a quick prayer for all those who are away from their families this holiday - whatever the reason!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Boys Are Fun!!

This one just spent the last fourteen weeks learning to be an Infantryman. We have him home through Thanksgiving, and then he reports back to the Army. He got up early and ran three miles with me this morning, and then spent some time on the computer sending e-mails and such.

And now, he's indulging in some well-deserved couch time:

And this one is finishing his first semester of college. They're on Thanksgiving Break this week, so he's at loose ends. He loves the fireplace - he'd have it running in the summer if his Dad would go along with that! You can see that he is entertaining The Naughtiest Dogs on The Planet, here:

And he just told me he wants to buy one of these:

Not just a car - specifically, a Mini-Cooper. And he is just over six feet tall - I told him he'll need to fold his legs to fit!

And I have two of my three ducks home for Thanksgiving and may have all THREE home for Christmas. Definitely cause for giving thanks, don't you think?

I'll be posting a giveaway in the next day or so - stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Road Trip!

We get to take a very special road trip tomorrow - we are heading back down to Fort Benning, Georgia to bring home the youngest son, who is now officially an Infantryman in the US Army - and VERY proud of it! We bring him home Saturday for ten days, so he'll have Thanksgiving at home - hooray!

And I am working on a blog giveaway, but it will be on hold 'til we get the young man safely home. Have a wonderful week, everyone, and I'll try to post some pictures this weekend!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Need More Weekend!

Oh, the weekends are never long enough, are they? This one is over and I have several projects unfinished. I guess it's a good thing there are several weekends in the month!

Melissa and I took a three-mile hike early in the day today, while the Princess rode her horse. I haven't gone on the trail with them in awhile, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Princess is riding like a pro! She's improved by leaps and bounds since the last time I saw her riding. It was such a gorgeous day and I'm glad we took some time to get out and enjoy it.

I've been meaning to use some leftover fabric to make a stacked coins quilt - I worked on that today and the top is almost finished. Here's a couple of photos - I'll take a better one when I finish it - maybe next weekend!

It will be another throw-sized quilt, probably 50" x 60" or so. I have some bamboo batting I've been wanting to try, so maybe I'll put that in this quilt and see what the result is.

I don't know what the ultimate destination of this quilt is - it all depends on how it turns out. I always keep the option open of making it a dog quilt, just in case the results of my experimentation are awful. The dogs aren't too worried about what a quilt looks like! But so far it's not looking too bad - it might not have to go to the dogs after all!

I got the thrifted wool washed and dried. I was trying to get it to shrink, so I washed it in hot water and dried it on high. It worked - everything felted down nicely. I want to do a few felted stockings, and some stuffed critters, and maybe even a cozy felted blanket. I might need a few more sweaters!

And now it's time to get ready for next week and then settle down for the evening. I need a few more hours in my weekend! Have a good week, everyone!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday Shopping

Today was a good day. Melissa and I started the morning with a two-mile run, and then we cleaned out the remains of the summer garden and planted garlic. The garlic will grow all winter while the ground rests and we'll harvest it early next summer - a perfect use of otherwise dormant garden beds.

After showers and breakfast, we spent the day shopping. We found some wonderful wool items for recycling at the thrift store, some great fabric and yarn at the craft and fabric store and a treat for the princess at Toys R Us. And I found a perfect quilt pattern book - there are so many good things in it - I can't wait to sew some of them up and show them to all of you!

Tomorrow afternoon I think I'll break out the sewing machine for a bit. Hope you're all having a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day!

I spent my Veteran's Day on call, which makes for a very long day! But we capped the evening off with dinner at Applebee's - they had free entrees for veterans. Thank you, Applebee's! And now I'm settling down before bed. Before I call it a night, though, I want to send a great big thank you out to all of you who have served in the military, or who have family that have served.

And, may God make me ever mindful of the sacrifices of thousands of men and women who protect our freedom every single day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Surprises in the Mail!

Earlier this week I got an unpleasant surprise from the cat -and today I got a very pleasant surprise in the mail! As it turns out, I won one of the giveaways from Karen at Little Pieces of My Life. See the pretty parcel wrapped in tissue paper? It was tied with the sweetest little pink ribbon you have ever seen!

And when I opened the package, it contained a lovely vintage ivory-colored apron embellished with blue and red stitchery, and a "Quilter on the Move" luggage tag AND a new book! The book is "The Quilter's Kitchen" by Jennifer Chiaverini. Aren't I the luckiest person in Tennessee right now?

Even more than the package, though, I am happy about what it represents. It represents Karen's return to health, and to her life. So, thank you so much, Karen, and congratulations on your recovery! May you continue to gain strength and health with every day that passes!

And, if you're interested in participating in National Tie One On Day, you can read more about it at Karen's blog. She even has a link to an easy apron pattern - it's worth a look!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Beware Cats Bearing Gifts

I have the most loving cat on the planet. She loves to snuggle, and gives sweet little kitty kisses and brings gifts. And who doesn't love gifts? Anybody who's ever had a generous cat, that's who!

It's getting colder here, and when it's cold the poor little field mice start coveting the warm interior of the house - or, at least, the sheltered area on the porch. The cat found one of those little mice on the porch and she brought it inside. To share. While it was still alive. You know where this is going, don't you?

Yep, she let the mouse go. In the house. There's a live field mouse running around in here. Yay. Now I have to find some chihuahua-proof mousetraps. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tragedy at Ft Hood

I'm sure you've all heard of the tragic shootings that took place today at Ft. Hood, Texas. My prayers go out to all the soldiers and their families affected by this. My oldest son is stationed there, and he called earlier today to let all of us know he's okay. And we've been fielding calls all afternoon from family members who are worried about Joshua.

And then, on the news, I heard that one of the shooters was an army physician - a mental health specialist - who was afraid to deploy. Now I don't blame anybody for not wanting to deploy - not for one second. But how in the world do you justify taking the lives of the soldiers who are just as frightened as you are? Especially when you are a medical professional who is charged with protecting those soldiers?

The truth is, it makes me angry, and the more I think of it, the more angry I get. I could just scream! How dare he hurt - kill - the people he had promised to protect? As an officer and a physician, his mission was clear. I just don't understand how someone could veer that far off course.

And I'm left back where I started, praying for the young men and women who have been affected by this dereliction of duty, and for their families who may, even now, be awaiting word of their loved one's fate. And shaking my head at the madness.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What's For Dinner?

What are you having for dinner? I had some leftover roast chicken (from the Kroger deli - I did NOT try to do a roast chicken dinner midweek!), and we decided to make some chicken stock. It has simmered all morning and the house smells lovely, and I found this wonderful recipe: Chicken Corn Chowder.

I think I'll pair it with some rustic bread and maybe a little bit of shredded cheese for the top. What's for dinner at your house?

Oh, and for my month of gratitude - I am thankful for chilly fall days and hot soup!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

It's Halloween Weekend! I love Halloween because it seems to kick off the wonderful holiday season, and this year I'll actually have time to enjoy it. It's rainy and chilly here today, though, so I'm not sure how that will affect the trick-or-treaters.

As for me, I am feeling the urge to make some caramel apples - or at least some caramel dip to eat with sliced apples! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

You Know You Need These!

So, how many times have you been getting dressed, and looked at your underwear, and thought, "If only they made these for other parts of my body?" Yeah, me neither, but apparently somebody has.

Yep, some enterprising soul has invented Handerpants. The website claims that they are nontoxic (yay!) and suggests all sorts of uses - texting, cooking, cruising and sanitary handshakes. Even night blogging. I don't want to know what that is!

If that doesn't convince you, they are also said to be good for distracting enemies and great for jazz hands! I have to confess that my own jazz hands are a little wan most days and could certainly use some beefing up. And, you, too can have your very own Handerpants for less than twelve bucks. Excluding shipping.

I know you think I made this up, but I assure you that I did not. You can see the advertisement here: http://www.handerpants.com/ and the order button takes you to another site where you can order Handerpants and a set of Remote Control Hopping Yodeling Lederhosen.

So don't say I never gave you any Christmas ideas, my friends, because there are two prime ideas in ONE blog post! You can thank me later!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Catching Up and a Blog Giveaway

I am off work today, because I was on call yesterday, and I'm spending the morning catching up on blogs. When I was in school I only let myself do this every so often, and only for a few blogs at a time. Now that I'm out of school there should be more time, but I still feel that I'm playing catch-up to some extent. So, it may take awhile yet before I get back to normal!

So, I was catching up and came to Karen's blog - Karen is a long-arm quilter and her blog has some lovely quilts featured - see it here: Little Pieces of My Life. Karen has had some health problems recently and has had a long road to recovery, but it looks like she's finally made it, and to celebrate she's hosting a giveaway. Please stop by to congratulate her on her recovery and to wish her continued good health going forward.

And, as I mentioned before, I have decided to work on simplifying my life. My children are grown, I have met my professional goals and now it's time to get some balance back! So, I went to the hairdresser and asked for wash-and-go hair. Short wash-and-go hair. I've thrown in a "before" picture for comparison.

I'm still getting used to the results, but overall I am pleased. There's so much movement to this cut that the messier it is, the better it looks. My hair actually looks better after I've had it under a scrub cap all day! I can't be unhappy about that!
I have a box full of hair products for the Princess to look through - she's a girly-girl and will be delighted to play, I am sure. And I have reclaimed a lot of space in the bathroom - maybe it's time for some redecorating in there!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Taking Time to Breathe!

Well, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity! I feel like there hasn't been more than ten minutes to sit and relax for weeks now unless we were in the truck driving somewhere, and that's not exactly relaxing!

Last week was our vacation and we saw the youngest son for a glorious 36 hours. He looked good - he's taller, and heavier, and he's grown up quite a bit. Even his brothers commented on the change. He said he has no regrets about joining the Army or choosing the Infantry. And that's all I needed to hear!

We came home Sunday and I went straight back to work on Monday - and it was a busy week! The oldest son left yesterday to go back to Texas and today I have nothing on the agenda but getting the house back in order. I have this tremendous urge to simplify things - more on that later!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Aquarium Visit

We spent the day at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta today. I've been wanting to go since they acquired the elusive whale shark for their collection, and today we discovered that they actually have FOUR of them.

It is rather expensive to visit, but when you think about their food budget it balances out, I am sure. And look at these two handsome fellows I found hanging out by the tank!

We'll get to see their brother on Saturday!

The whale shark is actually a fish - here you can see them swimming in the tank. They are spotted and enormous, and they swim slowly and gracefully through the water. I could have watched them for hours.

The Georgia Aquarium also has two manta rays - you can see one of them here. They were fascinating, as well, with their underwater acrobatics! They swoop through the water in giant somersaults, their mouths open to scoop up food.

And who doesn't love a lionfish? Except folks who step on them, I imagine - all those lovely spines are venomous!

And, like every good aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium had some educational offerings, too. The one I'd like to share today is the idea of sustainable seafood. Overfishing is causing population collapses among some species, so you can go here and find out how to choose a seafood feast that won't bring a species to extinction. I know I'll be more mindful of sustainability before I make my next seafood purchase.

And we are on vacation, so I'll post again next week when we return - hopefully there will be quite a few more photos! Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Test is OVER!

Well, I took the board exam this morning. You get preliminary results before you leave the test center. I was absolutely certain I had failed the test - it's crazy that you can work for years for something and have it all come down to one test, isn't it? But, to my surprise, I passed!

Now, it isn't official until I get the score report in, but for the moment I can relax and enjoy my vacation! Thanks to everyone who has given me support and encouragement over the past couple of years - you guys are the greatest! Expect to be seeing a little more of me now!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Quilt for a Princess!

Since I am heartily sick of talking about the test, I figured I would show you the quilt I made for the Princess this summer. Although you can't see them very well in these photos, the colors are purple, brown, pink and lime green.

She really seemed to like it, and it has a new home at the foot of her bed, where it matches her Hawaiian theme surprisingly well! The fabric caught my eye because it is covered in birds that look like they were drawn by Dr. Seuss - very fun and whimsical. Oh, and one of the fabrics has ladybugs scattered all over it! How can you miss, with birds and bugs?

It's machine-pieced and machine quilted. Now that I've learned the technique I simply love running a quilt through the machine! That's my new favorite part of quilting. Oh, and I also love hand-sewing the binding in place, because you get to sit with the quilt in your lap and feel how warm and cozy it will be!
And, now, dear friends, I must return to the books. Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Two Weeks...

...and one day 'til I take the dreaded board exam. I'm never going to get through all the material, and I'm never going to know everything I need to know, and studying like this is extremely frustrating! Wish me luck, everyone, and I'll post more later!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Phone Calls

I got a phone call from the youngest yesterday - he's just over a month into basic training now, and he sounded really good. He said he's working hard and enjoying the training.

He said he's gained ten pounds (he was really proud of that) and said the drill sergeants have said he's the smallest guy there with the biggest heart - he said, "Mom, I just don't quit!" That's my boy!

And these photos are from his company at Fort Benning - they post generic photos on the website and the wives and mothers all scan them, looking for our boys! I haven't seen Sean yet, but I've seen a couple of likely suspects - I just look for the short ones!

And I thought I'd share a few photos on this blog, because, folks, here are some of the young men who are willing to fight for your freedom. These photos show all men because it is an Infantry company, and right now women don't serve in the Infantry. In all the branches of the service, though, there are young men and women exactly like these boys - working hard to get through their training so that they can take their place in our lines of defense.

I am very proud of all of them, and I sincerely hope and pray that we all figure out a way to avoid using them in anything but humanitarian missions someday very soon. If you're the praying type, send one up for the young men and women out there fighting for all of us, no matter what our political affiliation is!

Monday, September 14, 2009

ICE Your Phone!

I was just reminded of this by a friend, so I pulled this explanation from another website. Please ICE your phone today!

Paramedics are asking that everyone add at least one additional entry to their cell phone contacts list. Please add an ICE entry. ICE stands for In Case of Emergency. This number should dial the person in your family that can respond to medical decisions if you are injured or incapcitated.

If you are in an accident, paramedics know to check your phone for your emergency contact information. Imagine taking a look and trying to figure out who to call out of the twenty or more numbers on your phone. By adding a contact entry that's designated as an emergency contact number (ICE), you can make their job much easier and possibly save your own life.

So program an ICE entry on your cell phone today, as a matter of fact, pull it out right now as you're reading this article. If you have more than one person the paramedics can contact in case of an emergency, you can add additional ICE numbers to your list. Your primary contact should be listed under ICE, then you can add the other contacts under ICE1, ICE2, ICE3, etc.After you program ICE into your phone, have your spouse, your kids, your parents, and your friends do the same thing. If there are people in your life that you care about, they should all have ICE on their phones.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pity Party

This morning I am feeling just a wee bit sorry for myself. It's Saturday, and there are interesting and exciting things going on all over town!

My friends are tailgaiting, and shopping, and gardening, and there's a local quilt shop that's going out of business and having a fabulous sale!!!

And I can't do any of it. Working and studying through the week is proving to be a bit more challenging than I anticipated it would be, so that leaves the weekends for the bulk of the work. There just aren't that many weekend days between now and my test date. I can't waste a single one!

Woe is me. I'm a sad sack, aren't I? Oh, well - I dug this hole by myself and I'll fill it in by myself. And the lovely cooler weather outside will have to go one without me... and the garden will have to sit for a few more weeks.

If you need me, I'll be the one with my nose in the books!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Weekend Designer Closing Up Shop

One of my favorite sewing bloggers has decided to stop blogging. Weekend Designer is closing up shop after 100 posts. I don't know how long the site will remain accessible, so any of you who sew (or want to sew) might want to take a look at his patterns before they are gone forever.

There are patterns for everything from shirts to skirts, and bags to dog beds on the site. He even has a pattern for neckties! Most of his patterns are very easy to copy and to sew, and you can tailor them to fit your size and shape. This is something I love because I am roughly the size and shape of a hobbit!

If you're intimidated by pattern drafting, take a look at his motto - "...it ain't rocket science" - and be encouraged. You can sew custom clothing and accessories for yourself, for your family and friends, for your home and even for your pets, and it's much faster and easier than you think.

So, to my favorite weekend designer - good luck in your future endeavors, and if you ever want to start another blog, your fans await!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Football Time!

It's that time of year again - the air is cooler, the humidity is lower and people in East Tennessee are beginning to turn orange. Yes, orange - as in orange and white, the team colors of the Tennessee Volunteers!

it isn't just the leaves that change color here in East Tennessee in the fall. Clothing and cars and houses and mailboxes and buses and office buildings all start sporting Tennessee orange.

The Tennessee football stadium (pictured here) fills up with fans on game day and you can't navigate downtown at all before or after the game - it's chaotic and crazy! Local radio stations play Tennessee's fight song: "Rocky Top" and everybody sings along.

And I'm not a big football fan, but it is nearly impossible not to be swept up in the excitement. It's fun because everybody is so into it. And, since the University of Tennessee is my alma mater, I have a legitimate reason to cheer them on! Even if what I'd rather be doing is this:

Just like Smokey, the Volunteer mascot. Napping on game day! Have a great holiday weekend, everybody, and if you're a Western Kentucky fan, we're going to beat your team this weekend!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Still Here

I haven't gone anywhere, and I'm not abandoning the blog. It's just that the combination of working and studying for the board exam has me so busy I can't see straight! So, let me do a quick update and then it's back to the books!

First - the new job. I was very nervous starting out, but it's been good. I'm working hard, and learning more about how they do things at this hospital. Some of those things I like, some not so much, but that's true of anywhere, and so I'll adapt. Everyone has been very nice and very supportive, so I think I'll make it!

Second - the board exam. Uggh! I am wading through all this material and some of it I swear I do NOT remember studying before, even though I am sure we did. I study 'til my eyeballs ache and then I study a little more. I'm trying to log 2 hours of study per workday (although I give myself a break if the workday goes past 6 p.m.) and 6-8 hours on each day I don't work.

I take the test October 15, so just about six more weeks of this and (hopefully) I'll be able to relax. Either that or I'll be back on the same treadmill again, because I must pass this test at some point, although there is an option to retake it if you have to. Need I say that I really don't want to have to??

On October 18, the youngest graduates from basic training and I have the time off to go see it. And my oldest son is taking leave to come out with us! The middle son starts college next week, but he'll be able to go see his brother graduate, as well. So, there's lots to look forward to! All my duckies together again - at least for a weekend! They're all busy and I'm really busy so the time will fly, I'm sure!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Guilty Pleasure

Yes, I'm confessing, here. I am a Top Chef addict. Love, love, love the show. And the new season started last week, and I think it's going to be a good one!

The show starts with a handful of professional chefs from all over the country - this year it started with seventeen. Each week, they face different cooking challenges and one chef is eliminated. The finale is a cook-off and one chef wins a large monetary prize. Past season winners have used the money to open restaurants or to go on culinary tours to broaden their knowledge and experience.

The challenges are awful. "Here's $10 and two vending machines - you have thirty minutes to make a gourmet dish." Or, "You will be catering a wedding with 250 guests... tomorrow!" To their credit, the chefs always manage to pull something off, but there is always wailing and gnashing of teeth and running around the kitchen and chaos - it makes for great television.

Of course, the producers almost always find one or two chefs with controversial ideas or bad attitudes, just to spice things up. I feel kind of sorry for these people, because they come across so badly on screen. Surely nobody could be that nasty in real life - I am sure there's a lot of creative editing.

Because I have to spend a large part of fall studying, I'll be recording Top Chef and watching it AFTER I've logged the required studying for the week. We'll see how that goes!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Here's a photo of all the girls in my graduating class. I am pictured in the front row of girls - the first one on the left. We were attending a graduation banquet and didn't everybody look good?

Here's the whole class together. We've been together for about three years, and this week everyone is off doing their own thing, and it's a little sad. To everything there's a season, though... and for us, it's time to move on.

And here I am at dinner. That was a great weekend, but I have to say that I still haven't come to terms with the fact that I am really and truly finished with school. My diploma came today, certifying that I do, in fact, have a Master's degree. I have worked for four days at the new job, and so far I love it. And yet I can't shake the feeling that I've forgoten to turn something in or that I need to finish a care plan!

And, in truth, there is a bit of unfinished business. That board certification exam looms ahead. So I'm studying as much as I can, because failure is NOT an option!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Letters From My Son

My son has written four letters since he left for basic training ten days ago. He has always loved to write, so it doesn't surprise me. I'll probably get a letter every couple of days, whereas I think I got two letters total from the oldest one.

He's safe and he's happy and he (so far) loves the Army. I've also had a phone call, and I asked him, "Do you like it?" He said he did. I asked, "Do you love it?" His answer: "Most definitely."

So, he's doing something that he loves. What more can you ask?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quick Update

Well, the computer problems I thought I was having turned out to be power cord problems, which my dear husband managed to correct by picking up a new power cord! Hooray! He's the best! :) I did NOT want a new computer - I have this one trained!

Yesterday was my last clinical day as a student, and tomorrow I graduate! Tomorrow! I'm doing the Graduation Happy Dance, which looks something like the chicken dance crossed with the twist, if you can picture that!

And I want to thank all of you for your encouragement and kindness over the past few months as I've been running toward this finish line. You've all been a tremendous help. I can't even tell you how often I've been exhausted and discouraged, and reading your comments really gives me a lift. For that I am truly grateful.

There are graduation festivities on and off all weekend and on Monday I start my job! We'll be taking lots of pictures, though, so I'll try to post photos sometime this weekend. And I will make my journey around blogland, as well - I need to catch up on what all of you are doing! You miss a lot in just a few days!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Computer Woes...

My computer, faithful workhorse that it was, is on its last legs. Thank heaven I am done with my coursework and I don't really need it to study for boards - at least not right now.

So, you might be seeing a bit less of me for a couple of weeks while I work through this. Because, you see, in order to get a new computer I need to have a paycheck. In order to have a paycheck I need to work, in order to work I need to graduate... you get the picture.

The good news? I graduate in five days. Five days!!!! :) And my first paycheck will be at the end of the month. Bear with me for a couple of weeks, kind friends, and I'll be back in full force in a couple of weeks! I will miss reading your blogs every couple of days, but think of the fun I'll have when I do get connected again - all that lovely reading material!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


I was at the grocery store this morning, in the dairy section, looking at yogurt. And I picked up one of those commercial flavored "light" yogurts, and read the label. It was enlightening, to say the least. Why does my yogurt need food coloring, pray tell?

And I'm on a bit of a whole food kick right now - trying to eliminate processed foods from my diet, to a large degree. I know that I feel better when my diet consists mostly of real foods - fruits and vegetables and lean meats and such. The single-serving yogurts don't really fit the bill. Plus, they're more expensive ($0.70 each) and there's a lot of unnecessary packaging involved. They're not even environmentally friendly!

So I picked up a large container of plain nonfat Dannon yogurt ($1.99 for 4 cups), and I brought it home. And this afternoon I spooned half a cup or so into a bowl, and topped it with a handful of frozen blackberries, and a handful of organic granola and a drizzle of wildflower honey. It was every bit as good as the individual flavored yogurt, and everything in the bowl was wholesome and healthy. This is the way I used to eat, and I really need to get back to it.

The next step is making my own yogurt - I know it isn't that difficult. I'll keep you posted, and if nothing else, the chickens and the dogs will be happy to help me hide the evidence of my failures!

Friday, August 7, 2009

A New Identity

So, it's Friday night. And I'm being lazy, and looking at blogs for a few minutes before I go to bed. And just now I looked at one featuring craft ideas for kids and it hit me - I don't have little ones anymore. Nobody wants to paint or make journals or make leaf placemats or nature candles or any of the crafts I used to make with my kids.

Don't get me wrong, they'll always be my boys, but our relationship has changed. And I have to face up to that - I'm a mom with grown children, and they don't need me on a daily basis anymore. It's weird, that's what it is. Really, they haven't needed me for a long time, but they are sweet boys and they let me pretend that I was still important. Now I have to face it - I'm not! I have to find a new identity.

Someday soon I think I'll see this information as liberating, but right now it's just sad. I'm pathetic. Thank heaven I still have to study for another few weeks - if I were completely at loose ends right now I might go bananas!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Want to Wallow in Sadness...

...but nobody will let me! You know, I really am very lucky, to be surrounded by people who care about me. And, so, instead of sitting around here moping because my baby is gone, I've been out for appetizers, and had houseguests and been visiting and there would have been a hike last night with Melissa, but a lightning storm put a stop to that.

Oh, and don't forget the comments on my blog, and the kind e-mails, and the prayers - you guys are the greatest! I am very lucky to be part of both a wonderful physical community and a wonderful cyber-community - thank you all!

My son called yesterday and says he's doing fine and will get us an address as soon as he's settled into a platoon. And he seems to have made friends already. So, I am sure he'll be fine. And I will, too - surrounded by friends, as I am.

Oh, and lest you think I forgot... nine days left. I can count 'em on my toes, now, if I want to! Nine days. Then I'll do the exact same thing I'm doing now, except with a paycheck. And benefits. And vacation - definitely a lot to look forward to.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Leaving the Nest

My baby leaves for Infantry basic training tomorrow, and I am really going to miss him. He is so excited he can't stand it, though. He's been exercising for months to get ready - see the big "guns" there? :)

I really do wish he'd chosen a different path, but this is what he wants to do and now my job is to stand back and support him. And I will.

He's following his older brother's footsteps, and so far the Army has worked out very well for our oldest son. He'll finish his tour, and he's an Air Traffic Controller. So we're hoping that after that he'll find a job close to home, at least for a little while.

The oldest is currently stationed in Texas, and they'll probably deploy after the first of the year, though, and the youngest has already announced his intention to volunteer for deployment when his training is complete. So, before my oldest gets out I'll have two of the three deployed. That does not make for happy thoughts around here!

So, I'll do what mothers have done for centuries - pray, and worry, and send goodies to both of my boys. I guess those are things that we do no matter where they are, though! And tonight? Pizza at our house, since that's something he won't see again for two months.

The middle one starts college this month, but he's staying home to take classes for now, which is good. Because I'm not sure how I'd have managed a completely empty house!

And if you're a praying person, and you have a minute, send some up for my boys, and pray that I remember how blessed I am to have three adult sons who are all doing something positive with their lives.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Brand New Bag

My gorgeous niece has a birthday next month, so I made her this cute little bag. It's from Weekend Designer - one of my favorite pattern websites. If you sew, or if you want to sew, this site is worth a visit. Check the archives - there are so many great ideas here!

I used brown ultraseude for her bag, and it was really easy. It was done in under two hours. I think it came out cute, and I added some decorative stitching 'round the edges, which I think added a nice finishing touch.

My niece is on a date tonight, though, and she caught me after I'd finished the tote and took it with her on her date! So, no photos of the finished product, but imagine one of these in brown, and you'll know what it looks like. I'll try to get a shot of her and the bag tomorrow, before she heads off to work, and if I do I'll add it to this post. Hope you're all having a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Quilt Pattern

My dear friend Mildred treated me to this lovely quilt pattern (in a roundabout way!). Thank you so much, Mildred! It's from Thimble Blossoms, an Etsy shop run by Camille Roskelley, who sells lovely patterns. You can see her blog here.

Isn't it charming? I love the simplicity, and all that open space to showcase lovely quilting. Now I just need to find someone who can produce some lovely quilting, huh? Hahaha!

I can't wait to get my hands on it, and go select the fabrics (because I doubt I'll be able to find the fabrics shown, although you never know!). Anyway, if I use different fabrics it will truly be one of a kind, right?

Imagine this quilt done in fall colors with mums where the daisy is. Or Christmas colors with poinsettias... oh - or beachy colors with seashells! I think the possibilities are endless. I'll work on the main version (the one shown) a little at a time, I think, when I need a break from studying. And, if I pass the boards, I might whip up the fall version for a giveaway. So, thank you again, Mildred! Your kindness definitely brightened my week!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Last Call

Tonight is my last call shift as a student nurse anesthetist. I am updating this blog from our call room, between cases. This call is the 16-hour overnight kind, which are usually very difficult for me. Tonight, though, I am irrepressible. I am bouncing all over the hospital, and the OR staff are cracking up at me. I am happy no matter what!

Tomorrow morning, my husband is taking me out to breakfast to celebrate the fact that I no longer have to pull overnight trauma call, and I am having pancakes. LOTS of them. :)

And, yet, I remember... the man with dissecting aorta whose life we saved, and the young girl whose face was mauled by a pit-bull, and how I comforted her before her surgery, and the stabbings, and the car accidents, and the gunshot wounds - all of them frightened and hurting and needing comfort and care. And, yes, I remember the organ donations (I've done six) which are the most difficult cases (emotionally) for me to to do.

And so, there's a tiny piece of me that's going to miss this trauma call thing. That isn't stopping me from celebrating tonight, mind you. It's just a tiny voice inside, saying, "Yes, but look at what you've gained." Indeed. Look at what I've gained.

And I can honestly say that, even knowing how incredibly rough the journey was at times, I would do it all over again. And those pancakes are going to be fabulous, come tomorrow morning!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Surprise Giveaway

Who doesn't love a surprise? Well, I guess there are people out there who don't like them, but not anybody I know! So, if (like me) you like surprises, stop by We Love Quilting and sign up for her surprise box giveaway.

While you're there, take a look at her quilt show display quilt - it is simply gorgeous! I can't imagine how many hours went into creating that quilt, and the colors make me long for fall!

Oh, and I passed my comprehensive exams. They are graded pass or fail, although the "pass" designation is divided into "high pass" or "pass." I got a simple "pass" but I have to admit that that was probably my own fault - I concentrated on board study instead of focusing on excelling at comps. My reasoning is that the board exam has become more difficult this year, and if I fail boards I can't work, and if I don't work I don't get paid... ergo, boards are more important than comps.

Now, to be sure, if I failed comprehensives I couldn't graduate, but I knew I could come up with a "pass" - worthy product. Writing comes fairly easily to me, although top-notch writing remains something I have to work at. I am NOT convinced that I can pass the board exam as easily. That said, I'm off to the books again. :)

Enter the giveaway at We Love Quilting and have a great week!