Sunday, April 29, 2007

Washington D.C.

Wow! I haven't had a chance to blog for awhile now! Mom and dad came up last weekend, and we moved TONS (literally!) of furniture. Robin and Dave and family spent the last week in a hotel while the floor people refinished the hard wood floors. Went over tonight, and they are GORGEOUS! I'm AGAIN so jealous!

Just spent the weekend in Washington, D.C. with Duane. We stayed with our friend Peggy and had a GREAT time. Dad was there for a SIRWA conference. Spent yesterday showing him around. We hit the botanical gardens, the air and space museum, Arlington National Cemetary, and dad and I had dinner at Pizzeria Uno at Union Station while Duane and Peggy caught up over dinner. We did LOTS of walking, and it was EXHAUSTING, but lots of fun.

Now I'm back in...lovely Minnesota, bracing for another work week. It was GREAT to get away for awhile, and I MAY be able to survive another week of school! Only 29 student days left till SUMMER! Whoo hoo!

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Miscellaneous it is already April 19th (HAPPY BIRTHDAY Linda D.!!!), and I haven't had a chance to blog for DAYS! This is BIRTHDAY month in my life! Abigail's birthday was the 13th (see "bad uncle" blog for April 14th). LaDawn's birthday was the 14th, Emilie's birthday was the 17th, and Linda's birthday is today.

Luckily, I got together with Robin and David and Emilie and Abigail on Emilie's birthday to celebrate. We went to D'Amico and Sons for dinner (had the dried cherry pasta DIE for!), and Cafe Latte for dessert (LOVE their desserts!).

Called Linda tonight to sing the "Happy birthday song". Haven't talked to her for WEEKS, so it was good to catch up. Her big test is Saturday, so send your good wishes her way...she's actually STUDYING on her birthday...poor dear!

Worked at the mall last night. SO not into the mall thing anymore. Ready to QUIT, but need to work the summer to save up enough money for Germany at Thanksgiving. I HAVE found that it's MUCH easier to work when you DON'T CARE what happens, or how you are doing (how BAD is that??!!). After THREE years at Harry & David, I'm a little FRIED.

Am thinking I will be WAY more fried next year with "regular" job. The one-day-a-week tech guy sat down with me today to say that he was told he wasn't needed next year, because I'D BE TAKING OVER ALL OF THE TECH RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE BUILDING. Not sure HOW that's going to work, since my main focus is SUPPOSED to be collaboratively teaching with the other staff in the building, specifically focusing on research skills and library related stuff. I'm thinking I'll HAVE to quit the mall job anyway, as I'll probably be stuck at school until ALL HOURS of the evening trying to get stuff done.

I'm CLUELESS as to things like site licenses and what programs teachers need for what things they are teaching, and Ron told me today that we are loading Windows 2007 over the summer, and the screens, programs, etc. are A LOT different than what we currently have. I'm too OLD for this crap...oy!

Not much else to check to the dept. of the treasury hasn't gone through yet (which is good...I only have $10.00 in checking until tomorrow!). I MAY actually "beat the bank" this time. I won't hold my breath though.

Mom and dad are coming up for the weekend. Robin and Dave are remodeling their kitchen, bathrooms, bedroom, and are refinishing all of the wood floors, so it's going to be a "work weekend"...that should be fun.... Mom and dad are "technically" here to help Emilie and Abigail celebrate, belatedly, their birthdays, but I'm thinking that's just a ruse on the part of Robin and Dave to get more "workers"...sigh.

Everyone is coming over here tomorrow night for my "famous" pastitsio. Here's the recipe (not sure WHERE I got it!), in case you want some FABULOUS Greek pasta:

8 oz. (2 ½ cups) uncooked ziti
1 lb. lean ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
3/4 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
3 T. margarine or butter
3 T. all purpose flour
2 cup half-and-half
1 egg
6 oz. (1 ½ cups) shredded fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese
Dash nutmeg

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 12X8- inch (2 qt.) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cook ziti to desired doneness as directed on package. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook ground beef and onion over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until ground beef in thoroughly cooked and onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt and cinnamon; mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes or until mixture is thickened and thoroughly heated.

3. Meanwhile, melt margarine in medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour; cook until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Gradually add half-and-half, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat.

4. Beat egg in medium bowl. Slowly add about half of flour mixture, stirring constantly. Return egg and flour mixture to saucepan. Add ½ cup of the cheese; stir to blend well.

5. Add cooked ziti to beef mixture in skillet; mix well. Layer half of ziti mixture in sprayed baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ cup of the cheese. Top with remaining ziti mixture. Spoon white sauce over ziti mixture. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese.

6. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly around edges, center is set and cheese is browned. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. To serve, cut into squares.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bad Uncle!

I'm a bad, bad, bad uncle! Abigail's birthday was yesterday! Did I REMEMBER to call her on her big day...NO! Called this morning and left a "belated birthday wishes" message on the machine, and said "call me back!", but haven't heard anything yet, and that was HOURS ago.

I'm just NOT good with birthdays! Forgot Duane's birthday until around LUNCHTIME last year! Mom and dad were up and we were all having brunch at Robin's house. Dad said something like "in a few days, when it's my birthday...", and I thought to myself..."wait a minute...Duane's birthday is a few days before dad's...CRAP...!".

So...we sang happy birthday to him on the spot, but, by then I was already WAY in the dog house. (If I HAD a dog house for every time I've BEEN in the dog house, I'd have enough houses to house every dog in the WORLD!).

Made up for Duane's birthday "faux pas" by sending a b-day card every month, six months PRIOR to his birthday this year, AND gave him a card and present EVERY DAY of the week of his birthday week. Hopefully that made up for it!


Friday, April 13, 2007

Snakes on a Plane

Went over to Connie's house for drinks and dinner. Hadn't seen her town house yet...very NICE! She moved in a few months ago, and is in the process of repainting to cover up the HIDEOUS bright yellows and blues that were the SO, SO WRONG color choices of the previous owner.

Had a BLAST catching up, and I FINALLY got to see "Snakes on a Plane"...what a HORRIBLE movie! I actually thought it was a hoot, but the snake attacks on the passengers were a LITTLE over the top. I mean COME ON...lunging from a seat cushion and plunging right into someone's eye socket?? A boa constrictor large enough to circle around a man(who was a TOTAL CREEP!) 7 or 8 times and THEN unhinging it's jaw to eat his head? A snake propelling itself from a toilet, and attacking JUST THAT PLACE on a guy??? I HATE snakes, and squirmed (pardon the pun!) through the entire movie. Luckily I DIDN'T scream like a girl!

Made sure to look in MY toilet when I used it, to make sure it was "safe"!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Easter Dinner

Haven't had a chance to "blog" for a few days...busy week!

Cooked my first Easter dinner on Sunday. Went VERY well. Had honey glazed ham in the crock pot (THANKS!), rosemary potatoes au gratin, the CLASSIC green bean casserole (with the dried onion rings on top!), and made an AWESOME almond raspberry jelly roll (courtesy of Cooking Light magazine) for dessert.

Got up at 3:00 to put the ham in the crock pot, and then went back to bed. Duane and I went to Berean for Easter services, but didn't check to see what time they met, and ended up getting there 45 minutes after the service started. We ended up watching the sermon from the lobby (on the monitor), and then going in for the first part of the NEXT service to get the "entire effect". The choir and full orchestra were AMAZING, and it was good to be in church again.
Working at Harry & David almost every Sunday, has really put a crimp in my "church going"!!!

My sister and her family came for dinner (and Duane!), and it was a FUN, ENJOYABLE day!
I hid chocolate eggs and other candy and toys around the apartment so that Emilie and Abigail could have an "Easter Egg hunt". They had a blast, and it was fun to watch them run from room to room to find them!

Extended family had a dinner in Des Moines, and, it turns out that Robin and I were the only ones in the ENTIRE extended family that weren't there, but, they all live within an hour of DSM, and we live 4 1/2 hours away, so it's fine. In fact, things went so well here, that we're thinking of making it an annual tradition (my sister and I are VERY BIG on tradition!). (Plus, Duane and I were just IN Iowa last weekend!).

Sad note: Duane's grandpa died in his sleep at "the home" on Sunday night. He was 93, and had lived a GREAT life. We're sad, but Duane is doing well. Send your thoughts and prayers to him as he attends the funeral on Friday.

Friday, April 6, 2007


Had my taxes "done" the day before yesterday...OUCH! I OWE $618 to the federal government!!! As IF they weren't taking enough...grrr... Not sure HOW that's going to get paid...I just keep sinking deeper and deeper into the "debt ocean"...ack!

Had lunch with Robin yesterday. We went to CRAVE at Southdale Mall. It's where the old Sydney's was. It was pretty good, but nothing that I'd HAVE to go back and try again (I'd WAY rather go to "Big Bowl" in the Galleria across the street...AMAZING Chinese food...especially the kung pao chicken over wide, flat noodles....YUM!).

Still windy and cold in Minnesota. The HIGH today is only supposed to be 22. It was warmer in JANUARY!!!!! At least the sun is shining. That DEFINITELY helps!

Just got back from "A Baker's Wife" with Duane. It was kind of our "commemorative" visit...we discovered it LAST YEAR on my spring break. Had the pear tart (of course!), and coffee...yum! (For more on "A Baker's Wife", see my review section!)

Duane is at the doctor having his foot x-rayed. He probably broke it a MONTH ago when he slipped on ice taking out his trash, but hasn't had it checked out. As he says..."there's nothing you can do for a broken toe anyway". It' s been bothering him more lately, so he's FINALLY having it checked out. I half expect him to come back with a plaster cast on! Hopefully it's nothing too serious!

Have a great Friday, and an AWESOME weekend!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


Not sure WHY we came back to Minnesota I write this, the wind is HOWLING outside my windows (and whistling through the non-existant insulation!), it's 22 degrees, and we've got a "smattering" of snow on the IS April, right??!!

The drive up yesterday was very windy and rough...went through about a tank and a half of gas...VERY bad gas mileage. I half expected to find semi trucks in the ditch on their was THAT windy. Stopped at an AWESOME gourmet grocery store at Jordan Creek Mall in West Des Moines, did some antiquing at the mall in Story City, and stopped at the Russel Stover outlet for chocolate near Medford. Took longer to get back than I like, but "the journey" is the important part, right?!...and it was a good trip (aching arms from trying to keep the car on the road, aside!).

My digital camera has gone all "wanky"...I can't get the image in the LCD window to "unblur". I'm sure it has something to do with the battery dying while the camera lens was open, and not being able to close it until I recharged the battery.

Called the Olympus service center today, and, after going through some possible fixes with the AWESOME tech support woman, found that I'm going to have to send it to New York or California for THEM to fix it...great...

I'm having my taxes done this afternoon (if I'm BRAVE enough to go out into the whistling wind!). Fearing the worst (paying instead of getting a refund), but...we'll see. I need to pay a few bills, and now buy insurance and "package tracking" for my camera...can't go TOO long without it. Luckily, I kept my "filmer" for if there are any photo ops...they'll have to be taken the old fashioned way.

Duane is checking flights today to see if we can get to anyplace WARM for a few days...and even more importantly, if we can get back!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Money Woes

So it appears that things aren't as BLEAK as I previously thought (see March 30th blog). APPARENTLY, the car loan was ALWAYS a 66 month deal, and the payment book only goes up to 60 payments (???). When I talked to the rep at U.S. Bank, she said that when I would have called for that "remaining payment amount" on the final payment stub, I would have been told that there were still 6 payments left. Because of the two "skip payments", it would be 8 payments, and that would take me into December. BOY AM I TIRED OF MAKING CAR PAYMENTS! At least it's not six additional payments because of the skipped payments...the thought of that almost caused me to stroke out! (How many times CAN I write the word "payments" in one paragraph??!!)

Stressed about A LOT of things right, work, money, and I just realized that it's APRIL, and I haven't put the new tabs on my license plates, which expired in MARCH. I've heard that there's a one month grace period, and I hope that's true, because I can't get a traffic ticket for ANYTHING until August 1st, or the ticket that I got for making an illegal left turn last July goes on my record and my auto insurance rates go WAY, WAY up (which was a TOTAL "trap"...since they'd JUST put up the "no left turn" signs (which were SO not obvious) a few weeks before, and I'd been making left turns there for SEVEN YEARS, and I hadn't been through that intersection since they put up the signs, and they didn't let me off with a warning, and I had to pay $145.00 because of it)!

Trying to relax on spring break in Iowa, but, as you can see, am not having much luck. Duane and I are staying with my parents in "Hooterville". It's actually a LOVELY little town in Southwest Iowa, and there's not much to do, so relaxing is a lot easier...well for OTHER people, apparently, not me...too high strung, I guess!

Headed back to Minnesota tomorrow, after stopping at the new gourmet grocery store that we read about in the Des Moines Register yesterday. It's supposed to be near Jordan Creek Mall, so we may have to stop there as well. We're then going to stop at "The Brass Armadillo" to do some antiquiqing, and then work our way up the interstate. HOPEFULLY no one will notice the expired tabs on my license plate!!!