Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Wow! What a year! What a week!

I'm so far behind on my whole life. I think it has to do with kittens and the house that is a maintenance nightmare. We have been remodeling forever, but I never have time to do it. The bathroom floor in the master is partially done, but kittens have been living in there forever and first it was hot and now it's to cold to cut tile outside.

The new kittens are adorable, Layla, Kieran, Kyara and Kiley. The K cats are all black. Kiley is the only one that is still skittish, but she is getting better.

So this week it SNOWED IN HOUSTON. Wow! Again for the second year in a row, first time ever for 2 years in a row. But at our house it did not stick for the second year in a row. And don't get me started on Global Warming. Global Warming is caused by the ozone layer being destroyed. So it causes extreme heat and extreme cold. The problem is that it is melting the global ice caps during the extreme heats.

Then Texas has to play a game that makes you quit breathing. Hello Texas. Bill desperately needs a new National Champs Polo shirt. He has holes in his old football and baseball one because he wears them all the time. And the last time I checked, I was the one that graduated from Texas. He is a Lamar Cardinal. They have not won national champs in anything.

Now Christmas is 2 weeks away. I do have the cards that I need to address and print out letters. I have some shopping done. Bill's kids are done! One of my sister's is done. But that is it. Oh well. It should not be too hard.

And Ed and Kathi will be here soon for Kathi's beef tour of Houston and the Patriots v. Texan game. I'm still deciding what we need to do while they are here. Forbidden Gardens is a must.

And surprises will be had all throughout the season. Bill will be doing his Christmas bird counts starting next weekend, I think.

I have used my mixer like crazy this year. How was I supposed to know how wonderful one would be? And making all of Kimmie's recipes have been fun. Her taco soup is referred to as Kimmie soup.

Looking forward to seeing Kimmie at Christmas!

Time to address Christmas cards now!

HOOK 'EM! We need that National Championship.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fallon's Shower

Oh my, it's been a long time since I blogged. It's been crazy with the house, work, and kittens. And nothing exciting has happened.

Bill's niece is having a baby and there was a shower for her in Beaumont this weekend. So I told her I would make cupcakes and cookies. But I didn't tell her what they would be.

A while back, Allison, the fabulous cupcake baker, mentioned she made pink lemonade cupcakes. Since Fallon is having a girl, I thought this would be perfect. So Allison graciously shared her recipe with me. And told me where to get the cute toppers. Of course, she didn't tell me NOT to go the night before Halloween, and me, not thinking, pulled into Party City on Halloween Eve. I was however the only person on the baby aisle.

So here are the cupcakes in my new carrier. What a terrific carrier.

Here is a full picture of the carrier. Great investment.
The cookie idea was stolen from Kimmie, chef extraordenaire. My favorite niece is the source of many of our recipes. In fact today I asked Bill what he wanted for dinner and he said "Kimmie Soup", meaning the taco soup that we got the recipe from Kimmie. My cookies do not even compare to Kimmie's but Bill's family did not know the difference. NOTE TO SELF: Never again do cookies and cupcakes during the week. One or the other.

Here is my cupcake tree. The cupcakes looked adorable on it.

Everyone loved the cupcakes and cookies. The cupcakes got rave reviews. In fact, one of Bill's sisters had not tried one yet, eventhough she had it in her togo box. His other sister said, at least taste the icing right now. Lori did and her eyes just lit up.
Bill ate cupcakes after we got home and we got his seal of approval. This is from the person that likes sheet cakes and chocolate chip cookies. Boring, but that is another story.
I also took a dozen cupcakes to the vets office. I talked to one of the techs today and she said they loved them. In fact the vet took the leftovers to his kids!
So a big shoutout to Kimmie and Allison for their ideas!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kittens are growing up

Here is Bianca and Shaylee. They became its this week when they were spayed. They are best buddies as you can see are in the same bed. They are completely mad at me for taking them to get cut open. But they are doing great. But the vet said Shaylee, the fairy princess, became the royal pain and they had to sedate her after she woke up from surgery. She had enough and was ready to go home. Bill picked them up and said Shaylee was very wobbly.

This was Shaylee before her surgery. She is just so cute.

Here is Shaylee and Keagan. They are buddies too.

Keagan is a full grown cat almost. He is 6 months old now. He is the softest cat we have. He also has his Longhorn ears and tail on. He is like a ragdoll. He loves to be picked up and just flops in your arms. He just puts his head on my shoulder and goes to sleep. But if Bill picks him up, he bites Bill's nose.

Mimi is getting married

Next Saturday Amelia, aka, Mimi, is getting married. Mimi is the daugther of my good friend Adina. I was there the day she was born, so I will be there the day she gets married. She is a very unique person and her wedding will show that. Above is her wedding invitation that I had framed for a wedding gift to Mimi and Johnny. She has said the wedding is turning into a music fest, so I can't wait.
Mimi started calling herself Mimi when she learned to talk and it has stuck. When she in the 6th grade she organized a boycott of the cafeteria food. She called the newspaper and had them show up. She has always been a leader and forward thinker!
Best of luck to Mimi and Johnny.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lack of curb appeal

Anyone that knows me, knows that I don't make many sweets. However, Bill loves sweets, so now I'm making more than I have in my life. For the kickoff of football season, I decided to make Bevo cookies. Well, they taste great, but look like they were dipped in velveeta. Yuck.
And I did teapots and cupcakes. Those unidentifiable blobs are supposed to be cupcakes. I got the dough too thick.

If you want to see the cutest cookies ever, go to Kimmie's blog here and here. As you can see, I didn't even come close.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Customer Service or Lack thereof

Lately I have had the worst luck with Customer Service.

I love tea, all kinds of tea. One of my favorite loose leaf teas is Teavana. We are lucky to have several locations in the Houston area. One of them is at the Galleria, right across from my office. So I went in to get some tea. But wow, have their prices gone up. And now that I'm underemployed, I am being careful with what I buy. So I asked for 2 different teas, 2 oz each. The girl waiting on me, goes and starts filling up the bag. I said, I asked for 2 oz. So she dumped some out and says is this ok. I stupidly assumed that it would be close and said yes. So when she rang it up and it was way over what I thought. Ends up one was 5.6 oz and one was 3 oz. I said to her, I asked for 2 oz. She said well I showed you the bag. I was so mad that I just left with the tea after paying for it.

My sister Becky went in the next week and asked for 2 oz. The girl started filling it up and said is that OK? Becky said is it 2 oz? She just shrugged. Becky made her weigh it and it was 3 oz. So she looked at Becky and asked if she had to take some out. Becky said yes she asked for 2 oz. So after a lot of sighs and groans she got her tea.

I complained to Teavana by email but of course have not heard a word.

* courtesy of the Teavana website

Next I got to deal with Netgear. I have a Netgear DGN2000 which I love. It's a modem and wireless all in one. No more of one not talking to the other. This device has never dropped a connection. Ever. Bill has 2 of his desktops hard-wired into this. I am wireless at the back of the house.
Suddenly ports 2, 3 and 4 go out. So I get online to customer service since blasting Bill off his stupid game requires an act of congress. We finally go as far as we can online, so I start calling their customer service at 5 am. This is when Bill is getting ready for work. They say they have 24 hours service. 2 days in a row, I stayed on hold for 30 minutes then went to a mail box that said they would call me back. Well, by that time I would be at work. So finally I had to throw Bill off his computer and talk to India to resolve this. Of course the girl is reading the script and I'm 4 steps ahead of her at all times. By the time we get off the phone, she has now broken port 1 too. So we can only use the wireless while we are waiting for the replacement to arrive.
Of course I had to pay to get the replacement underwarranty. We can send in the unit and pay postage and wait for them to mail us one, meaning we will be out of service for the length of time it takes. Or I can pay $16.95 for them to mail us one and we'll mail our back when we get it. Of course, it's 2 day service, and there is a weekend in the middle of it. Or we could have had it overnighted for about $35. I choose the $16.95. I would not listen to Bill for 4 days of no internet. Remember Hurricane IKE? No way.
* courtesy of Netgear

Next up is customer service at HP. I used to work at HP. If we got India on the phone for the internal help desk we would hang up and call back till we got Mexico. So I get online and pretend to be Bill. He's helpless with problems. His gaming computer would just crash after it was up for a few minutes. So I get online and "talk" to them. On this one, by the time I get off the internet, the computer won't even come up at all. He had me go into the setup and of course it crashed so it's in limbo somewhere. So this was a weekend, so they sent the box to us, I packed it up and took it to Fed Ex by the office.
Meanwhile, Bill has my desktop. It is the only other computer of our 8 that will run his game. This would be the same desktop that does all of our movies, loads books from the library, has the software for printing the movies, has all the books for loading the iPods and iPhone. See comment above about listening to Bill without his game.
Since Dell has lousy DVD drives, I'm doing books and movies on my external dvd writer.
* courtesy of HP

The redeeming service is ATT. I went into the store to upgrade my iPhone. I walked out 15 minutes later with my phone working perfectly.

* courtesy of Apple

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Random Cat Photos

I usually have the camra out. The cats are always doing something. Here is Biddy, sticking her head out the cube that Aunt Diana gave them.

Next we have Xena. She was the baby, but by far NOT the smallest, until the kitten herd appeared. She has problems getting comfy as you can see.

Here is Toby. He is the biggest, but the sweetest too!

As you can see, Keagan has problems getting comforable too.

Here is Xena on the top, Keagan and Shaylee on the next level down. They are best friends now. Shaylee has grown so much from the 1.4 pound kitten we found. She is so sweet. Keagan is just a ragdoll.

Here I am trying to get a picture of Bianca, the newest member of the household. She is still scared. The daughter of one of Bill's coworkers found her. She arrived at our house with a pink collar and a pink carrier! She is a cuddler, just needs to get used to everyone.

Bill's New Wheels

Here is Bill's new car. His old Camry only had 231,000 miles on it. He is averaging 46.4 mpg right now, so he is quite happy.

His car gets about 500 miles to a tank and costs $20 to fill up. My car gets about 300 miles to a tank and cost $40 to fill up. I think I need a new car!

He is very happy with his new green car! And it has better cupholders than my Lexus, but any car has better cupholders than my Lexus. His iPod connection is totally awesome. You control the iPod through the radio!

Friday, July 3, 2009

She Grew Into Her Ears

Miss Shaylee is growing. She has finally grown into her ears. I'm so disappointed. She was so cute with those big ears. She still has her little rat tail. She is so sweet, but still shy. She does finally play with her brother Keagan. He no longer intimidates her.

Keagan has no bones. He just flops all over the place. He lets me carry him all over the house and loves to sleep on me like Kalliope. Kalliope is very jealous. He is so sweet but is losing his soft kitty fur. He does play rough with Shaylee, but he no longer gets her whole neck in his teeth.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Newborn Fawn in my Parents Yard

Last night I went to dinner with my friends Ken and Nancy in Austin. We went to Garridos, a new restaurant owned by a former chef from Jeffreys. It is a very trendy taco bar. The food was good, it has a new patio overlooking Shoal Creek. But it was crowded and you had to valet park. Of course it was around 104 degrees in Austin today so we passed on sitting on the patio and ate appetizers and had drinks at the bar while we waited. The Mexican Martinis and Margaritas were fabulous. The appetizers were good, the oyster tacos were excellent. The beans were ok. Don't go looking to get full.

There was a Maserati parked outside. And it was very new.

We got back to my parents in Westlake Hills. Their house is about 10 minutes from the capitol but has a very rural feel to it. And the above picture is what we found when we pulled up. Obviously it had just been born and was waiting for it's mom to come back and get him/her.

Before I left for Austin to go to a wedding shower, I noticed Scarlett repeatedly going to the litter box. So I left a note for Bill and told him to take her to Dr. Rubio, our vet. So he did and she has crystals in her urinary tract so I'm glad he took her. We lost one cat to urinary problems.

The shower was for the fiance of the son of a friend. Way back a hundred years ago, my first job was at the Comptroller's office. And working for the state you got prescribed breaks. You had 15 minutes exactly in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon. We ended up with what is now known as "The Coffee Group". Funny thing is several of us do not drink coffee. So since the 70's this group has gone through some of us leaving the Comptroller, lots of marriages, divorces, children, grandchildren, losses of family members. But through it all, we have remained close and celebrate birthdays, weddings, babies, etc together. All the kids are friends even if they don't see each other much. This is the latest. We are very proud of Justin. He is graduating from The University of Texas (the only school) with a degree in Biomedical Engineering and is marrying Clare in 2 weeks. Another one of the kids Tray just became engaged to Becky in Belize a couple of weeks ago. He and Becky are both architects and Tray was given a free week stay in Belize at a house for a job well done. Becky sent out the cutest announcement saying: I went to Belize and all I got was ENGAGED. We are thrilled to have her as a member of the "Coffee Group" family.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Crave Cupcakes and Ms Shaylee

Yesterday on my day off I finally trapped the last kitten. Just call me Trapper Ellen. I already made an appointment at the Houston SPCA to take them. I emailed Bill to tell him I caught the last one and he begged me to keep the runt. We could not turn the runt in anyway because she only weighed 1.4 pounds. You have to be 2 pounds to be accepted by the SPCA. Here is a picture of the terrors, uh, darlings, that I turned in. I have no idea what sex they are. They are quite wild.

After I accomplished that mission, since I was just blocks from Crave Cupcakes, I had to stop. I got a vanilla on vanilla, espresso chocolate, red velvet and dark chocolate. I ate the espress last night and it was quite tasty. But the vanilla on vanilla was outstanding. Bill hasn't eaten the other two yet. I don't think we have to worry about Crave going out of business. It is located in Uptown Park and is always packed. A man walked in as I was getting my order. He asked what was good. He was just walking by and saw the sign and couldn't believe how much activity was going on. You can see the bakers baking and it is non-stop activity there. I still need to go on Sunday or Tuesday for the peanut butter and key lime cupcakes.

Here are a couple of pictures of Shaylee. Shaylee means fairy of the fields. She has the cutest face and looks like an elf. See the picture below. She is still very little and quite scared. She was so used to the other litter mates keeping her company and snuggling. She does purr quite loudly when you hold her. She is getting very used to be held. Bill put Keagan in there with her, and he immediately had her pinned down and had his mouth around her neck. We decided that she's too little for him still.

Keagan has quite the personality now. He is all over the place and thinks nothing of harrassing the bigger cats. Getting him to eat his kitten food is quite an accomplishment because he just marches over to the big kids food and starts chomping. He is now sleeping with us and everyone else at night. We put him in the bathroom in the middle of the night a couple of times and he howled. But now we have move Shaylee in there with all the toys and so we have to keep him out. We hope Shaylee's personality comes out soon. I was worried about Keagan the first day because he was so docile. He had also been fixed that day. He is no longer docile.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Keagan and utube

Here is Keagan's utube video. This is part of the toys I had to buy for him.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Kittens

Here is where I took Keagan for his first vet visit. He was loved by all. He didn't even get mad at me for putting 3 pills down his throat today.
In the meantime, I found 3 other kittens out on the back porch. So I put the trap back out. This is from another stray and all of her kittens look alike. There is an older kitten out there but I haven't caught it yet. These will all go to the SPCA.

I went to check on them, and this one was on top of the exfoliant. I thought it was a hilarious picture. The biggest problem is the Houston SPCA won't take them till they weigh 2 pounds and these guys are really little. But they are eating well, so they should plump up quickly. Then off to the SPCA they go. I have a temp job starting tomorrow so I'll have to take them on a Saturday or Sunday.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I Caved

Bill was mad at me for taking the kittens to be adopted. And he kept begging me to let him go get the kittens. I said no. Here is the conversation from Friday.

B: Do you know the ID numbers for the other two kittens (or just all of them)?

E: The number I got was the one for Dunn.

B: They said the other two were #7656389 & #7656394 (named Willie & Badger) and that they have already been adopted out to different owners... do those numbers match what you have?

I have Brooks (siamese mix) #7656354 and Dunn #7656399 for the other two and they have NOT been adopted... (sure I can't have just those two...? PLEASE????)

E: kittens will tear up the house worse than it already is. And Spike can not handle anything new. It upsets him too much. And we don't have room.

B: It's adult cats that bother Spike, not new kittens... Kalliope and Xena came in as kittens and they don't tear things up and I lost Rusty and Gizmo...

E: And I'm not having 2 more male cats to pee on things.

B: I'll help more

E: And we gained Scooby and Silver. Kalliope was full grown when we got her. She is just special.

B: cuz she's "your" cat...

E: No more cats.

Then Saturday I finally told him that if the kittens were still there on Monday he could get them. But I made the mistake of looking on the website, and the Siamese had been adopted. So he begged and pleaded more. So I said he could have the white one, which was his favorite all along. The whole way there I said you have to think of a name. We are very picky about our names, not that you would know by some of the names. Some of them we inherited. Anyway, the SPCA said the kitten was white with mustard. So I was joking around saying we could call him Col Mustard, or Clue. Bill said he liked the name Keagan but thought it was a girl's name. I said I thought it was a boys name. So we get to the SPCA and Bill goes postal. He is frantically looking for the kitten and can't find it. So he goes and stands at the desk. Meanwhile, I find him, asleep in his litter box. Great. Xena used to do that.

So we get the kitten but have to leave him to get fixed. So we pick him up tonight, after he gets fixed, his shots and microchipped. But while we were talking with the person doing the paperwork, she says he's really not mustard, but flame-tipped. And he's really sweet, not wild like he was when we took him in. He was getting sweet while he was holed up in my bathroom.

So we get home and look up Keagan. It can be male or female and means flame. So we have a name! It was destiny.

Meanwhile: This morning I found 2 more kittens on the back porch. I have the trap out. This week after we catch the kittens, we will catch the adult cats and take them to the Spay Neuter clinic.

Pictures to follow.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Refurbish Cat Tree

One of my many projects of unemployment is to refurbish the cat trees. Bill's ex bought them and she left 10 years ago. With lots of cats, the numbers vary from month to month, this is the condition of one of them.

I started with these tools. But to get the old nasty carpet off, I used needlenose pliers to get all the staples out. The carpet cutter was very handy too.

This is what my arms looked like before I got the carpet off the wood.

Here is the finished product. Sienna has proclaimed the new tree is hers and chases everyone else off. In the house part is Silver. When Sienna was a kitten, she was a stray that was attacked by a dog. Allison worked at the vet, and when someone brought Sienna in and did not want her, she took her. She brought her by our house to take care of her till she found a home. Well, that was 3 years ago. She has become the sweetest cat. And has recovered from all of her wounds. Silver was one of Bill's mom's cats that we took in when Bill's mom died. She has bad asthma, but is very sweet and loves me.

I think the finished product turned out pretty nice. I ran out of carpet halfway through, and had to play let's make a deal with Lowe's for more remnants. They don't match, but that's ok, I don't have a job and it was cheap.
The tile on the floor is one of my other DIY projects.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Kittens Up For Adoption

I caught all the stray kittens in the rabbit live animal trap purchased at the Tractor Supply Company. Here they are as bunk cats in the carrier. I took them first to a no kill shelter. Fortunately the shelter was booked, because I didn't like it at all. The cats were in cages but not in air conditioning. The place was not sterile at all. So I went to the Houston SPCA not because I wanted to. And I was pleasantly surprised. First of all the building is gorgeous, and was designed by my college roommate Martha. It has sections for drop off, adoption, spay neuter and education. The place is spotless.

The adoption area is very nice. They keep the litters together. There is a get acquainted room. I was so impressed! I did pay $50 to drop off the litter, but I feel they are so cute they will be adopted quickly.

As you can see, the mother got around. These are all from the same litter.

I feel good that these cutie pies will be taken care of. Now the guy checking them in wasn't the brightest. He put one in the new cage, then was having a hard time with the rest, so he took the lid off the carrier. Of course kittens went everywhere. A quick thinking lady guarded the door so no one could come in and the kittens get out. I grabbed a towel and got one of the kittens. Finally the staff caught the other 3. So all we know at this point is the Siamese is a male.

I'm just glad the kittens are not outside any longer getting in Bill's engine (we found them there on Monday morning) or playing with the raccoons (the little one's eye has been scratched) or being eaten by fleas and other such stuff. And I did not let Bill keep any!

Update: I knew this would happen. Bill told the other cats that Evil Ellen threw the kittens away. Fortunately they don't believe anything he says.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cat Towers

Getting the icky, gross, old carpet off the cat towers is a pain in the rear. I have been w0rking on the smaller one for 2 days and still have the worst part to go.

It's not as humid as yesterday, but it's still awful.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Slow Day

Yesterday was a slow day. I started out by walking in the extreme humidity and mugginess. I'm still at the 2 mile mark for one more day.

I cleaned out the linen closet in Bill's bathroom. When his ex left (he's been divorced 10 years), she left several comforters and lots of polyester sheets - ick. So finally after 5 years got around to cleaning all of that out. I took all of the comforters that were left (I had already donated about 5) and the sheets to one of the clothing boxes at HEB that go to needy families. Then I refolded all the towels, blankets, etc. We have an empty shelve and everything is very neat and easy to get to. As you can see, I had a big helper here. Kalliope, my 6 pound cat, decided that she was going to help.

Completed: 22. Straighten linen closet in Bill’s bathroom

I made Bill chocolate chip cookies, his favorite and fortunately I don't like them much. I made me cheese scones. See Kimmie's blog for the recipe.

I went to the post office, library, and dropped the linens at HEB. At the library, I read magazines and picked up Living Dead in Dallas that finally arrived. When I got home I loaded Living Dead in Dallas on my iPod. I have all the other Sookie books now and have listened to Dead to the World already. So I'm psyched to continue the Sookie series!! But first I have to finish Mr and Miss Anonymous and Look Again. I'm loving both of these books!

After making dinner, I watched the Biggest Loser finale, and the semi's of Dancing With the Stars. Glad it was Ty that went home, the best are left. I think I'm pulling for Gilles. There were some amazing stories on Biggest Loser!

And I applied for lots of jobs!

Up for today? Who knows! I'm hoping someone will call for an interview!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Accomplishments of the day

After the drama of the kittens this morning, I didn't accomplish much today. I did get one thing off my to do list.

39. Update resume

I did update my resume, updated it on all job boards, blasted it out to all recruiters I've dealt with in the past. I applied for 5 jobs. Of course all of that took about half the day.

Then I mopped the kitchen, dining room and laundry room floors. Dusted the master bedroom floor. Played with the cats. Went to the grocery store.

Washed the sheets and put them back on the bed.

Fed the deer, filled up the log feeders with homemade suet, fed the birds.

I also finished loading the 7 books on CD from library on iTunes. Then copied them to the external hard drive.

And I walked 2 miles today.

Hopefully I'll be more productive tomorrow.

More on the Unemployment To Do List

Here are additions to the unemployment to do list:

Wash outside of car
Clean inside car
work on Bill’s mom’s cookbook
mail cookbook to family
work on surprise project
Update resume
Print out pictures from ML’s mom’s birthday party
Organize the DVDs
Get rid of Bill’s VHS tapes
Catch kittens and take to Petsmart
Re-cover cat towers

I might have to reorder what I decided to do. This morning we had great excitement when the stray kittens climbed in Bill's engine. We had to get them out so he would leave for work. I thought I had one kitten captured and then he bite the you know what out of me and got away. Their claws are sharp! I'm bruised like you wouldn't believe. So I need to get room in the garage so we can get the cars in there. At least till I catch the kittens and take them to a rescue. Right now I can't get close to them.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Unemployment To Do List

Let's see how much I get done before I find a job!

Unemployment To Do List

Finish tiling bathroom floor
Tile closet floors
Clean out Ellen’s closet
Clean out Bill’s closet
Take clothes to good will
Clean out and arrange garage
Get stuff out of storage
Tile bedroom #2 floor
Tile bedroom #3 floor
Paint kitchen
Paint dining room
Paint laundry room
Paint bedroom #2
Paint bedroom #3
Put down quarter round in master
Put down quarter round in living room
Put down quarter round in bedroom #2
Put down quarter round in bedroom #3
Put down quarter round in hall
Clean out pantry
Clean out and arrange shelves in my bathroom
Straighten linen closet in Bill’s bathroom
Tile front porch
Repaint back door and columns
Add extra space to park
Start paths in yard
Start vegetable garden
Plant bottle brush in ground
Clean out kitchen cabinets
Unpack my kitchen stuff that is still in boxes
Start diet
Walk 3 miles a day
Bike more

Friday, May 8, 2009

Laid off - Again

I was working on a contract at one of the top cancer hospitals in the country. Because of the economy their investments are not doing well, patients are paying as fast, so they were in a cash flow problem. They ended up stopping all IT projects. I had the greatest team ever. Everyone is devastated. The full time people don't know what till happen to them either.

I had just been let go from another job 3 months again that they asked me to move to Nashville. I did not like my boss, and had no desire to move to Nashville. At least I had a 3 month reprieve with a great bunch of people.

So now it's back to looking. I will apply anywhere just to have insurance. COBRA is so expensive. And at my age, I can not afford to go without.

Hopefully something will happen soon. In the meantime, I might get some home repairs done.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Avoiding the Floods

This is a field by our house that usually has cows and not a pond on it.

Coming home from work last night was trying at best. Fortunately I take the bus most of the way. However there was high water down the street from the park and ride. My Lexus did not come with water wings. I made it through and drove slowly home. Bill had made it home before the floods started. From the bus, I could see the feeder roads were flooding.

Getting off the bus, I always thank the driver, but I told her I was glad it was her and not me. She is very nice, and I end up on her bus a lot. She had even waited for me when my other bus got there as she was getting ready to pull out of the transit center. I can't say enough about how 99% of the drivers go above and beyond their jobs! And they are all so pleasant!

All night long we heard torrential downpours. When I got up at 4:30, I checked the internet and saw that we were in the middle of RED on the radar. So I crawled back in bed and told Bill we weren't going to work until at least daylight. We got up about 5:30 and started watching the news and decided to stay home. It takes him an hour to get to work on a good day and me an hour and a half. His boss usually gets in before 7 and lives near the office. He got there today at 11. We are glad we decided to stay home.

We didn't do a thing all day! We were bums. I did make a great dinner of rice pilaf, green beans and cajun bbq shrimp. The cats loved watching Bride Wars with me!

Hope you had a better day weatherwise!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

We don't do much that is traditional. For snacks, I made brownie bites with Easter spinkles.

We started using Morningstar Farms Crumbles rather than ground beef a while back. One of my favorite dishes, actually my absolute favorite dish growing up was enchiladas. I was born in Roswell, NM, in the hospital where they took the aliens. In elementary school we lived in Bossier City, La, Wheaton, Md, Kelsterbach, Germany. Then in junior high and start of high school we lived in Potomac, Md. So it was always a challenge for my mom to make me enchiladas in places like Germany, but she found ways (canned tortillas and enchilada sauce mailed to us). At that time we used Ashley enchilada sauce, but now I used Hatch! You just simmer ground beef or morningstar farms crumbles in the sauce. Then soften corn tortillas in oil. Layer tortilla, grated cheddar, onion, sauce, repeat. They look like pancakes. One top put sauce, cheese and onions. Makes for a yummy meal.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Houston Metro Bus Etiquette

I ride the bus to work every day. It's my time to do things like read, surf the net, email, sleep. The seats are comfortable (when you can get one) and I don't stress out in Houston traffic. I live in Magnolia, northwest of Houston and work at the Texas Medical Center which is south of downtown. So to get to the Med Center I have to take a bus from Cypress to the transit center, then change to a bus to the Med Center. Coming in is fine, the buses work like clockwork. Coming home is a different story. Sometimes I don't leave my office at the right time, and end up just missing a bus. And for some reason in the morning, the buses run every 10 minutes but the afternoon they only run every 15 minutes. Then when I get to the transit center, we usually just miss that bus and have to wait. And then that bus is the one that is full a lot. So I end up standing about once a week, but it's only about a 30 minute ride, so it's not bad.

So here is where the etiquette comes in. When I get on the bus, if there is a completely empty seat, I move to the window so there is room for someone else. Most of the buses are like airplanes, FULL. If I'm on the first bus where I have to change, I try and get on the front or if on a double bus, by the back door. When I'm coming home or on the last bus in the morning where I'm the second to last stop, I go to the back.

There are all these people that get on and either pile all their stuff in the other seat or sit on the aisle so no one else can sit with them. Then they pretend to be asleep. So you have to stand there and say, excuse me, I need a seat, then they begrudgingly move over like you are incoveniencing them.

Then there are the people that have to sit in the front seat that are reserved for handicapped. I saw a guy on crutches have to sit in the back to the bus and struggle down the aisle. I was so embarrassed for the etiquette handicapped on the bus.

Finally there are the people that have their music blaring through their headphones so loud that you can hear it 3 seats away. One middle aged lady (my age) had her music blaring through the bluetooth and was sitting in front of me. Luckily, I listen to books and put my headphones on and could drown her out.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of very nice people on the bus. The majority is totally polite. And EVERYONE thanks the bus driver as they get off the bus. I'm not sure you see that in other cities. We have one hilarious bus driver on the Med Center route in the mornings. Since I don't always leave at the same time, so I get a range of bus drivers within a 30 minute window. This guy is of Indian descent and is so cheerful before dawn!! He says things like: morning, morning, morning when you get on. Then as you are leaving he always wishes you a good day in a very cheery voice! He is such a delight. The majority of the bus drivers are very cordial! There are a couple of sour pusses, but most of them are wonderful.

The overall experience is very worth it not to have to hassle with traffic, driving, wear and tear on your car. Also it is helpful for the environment. Houston metro is now driving some hybrid buses!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I made cookies yesterday. It's been sad here since we lost our beloved Gizmo. He was the sweetest cat and so young. We miss him very much.

First of all is Peanut Butter Cookies. My favorite.

Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Cream the butter for 2 minutes. Add the sugars, cream for 2 more minutes. Mix in the peanut butter and egg. Mix together the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into the sugar butter mixture.
2 Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate at least 3 hours.

From the Quaker Oats Website.

3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar1/2 c. granulated sugar1 egg1 stick butter1 tsp. vanilla1 1/2 c. all purpose flour1 tsp. baking soda1 tsp. salt (opt.)3 c. Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices; add to butter mixture, mixing well. Stir in oats. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 9 minutes for a chewy cookie, 10 to 11 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire cooling rack. Store in tightly covered container. 4 1/2 dozen.
OATMEAL COOKIE SQUARES: Press dough onto bottom of ungreased 13"x9" pan. Bake about 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely; cut into 1 1/2" squares. Store in tightly covered container. 4 dozen.
VARIATIONS: Add any one or combination of two of the following ingredients, if desired: 1 cup raisins, chopped nuts, or semi sweet chocolate, butterscotch or peanut butter flavored pieces.

From the back of the bag of Nestles chocolate chips. I use walnuts for the nuts.

Toll House Cookie Recipe
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts
Directions:PREHEAT oven to 375° F.COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars. SLICE AND BAKE COOKIE VARIATION: PREPARE dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.* Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies. * May be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 8 weeks. FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (5,200 feet): Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 2 teaspoons water with flour and reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes and pan cookie for 17 to 19 minutes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Please pray for sweet Gizmo. He had emergency surgery today and is at the Animal ER. We found out he has a blockage and his vital signs are not good. He is the sweetest cat. I can't find a good picture of him right now, but I'll keep looking. He made it through surgery, but it's touch and go. We are thinking good thoughts for you Gizzy.
UPDATE: We took Gizmo to Texas A&M. He was doing better but is now in a coma. We are hoping he comes out of it tomorrow.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Time for Snowsuits

It's getting warm in Houston, so it means it is time for snowsuits. I know some people are confused, but it's very simple. During the summer in Houston, it is impossible to wear cute summer clothes. I have to have a jacket for the bus I take to work. It is so cold on the bus I am miserable. Then I get to work, and it's cold in the building. I'm not sure why people can't understand that we don't need the air conditioner to run colder than the winter is in Houston, TX.

You can't even go into restaurants without taking in a sweater. Don't people know how much electricity they are using? And it is not comfortable!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Strange Quirks I have

I have some strange quirks:

  1. I only like to clean house when it's sunny outside. That means no cleaning when it's dark or raining.
  2. I like raw carrots but can't stand cooked carrots.
  3. I love to exercise but only in the morning.
  4. I like sweet and low in hot tea, but like my ice tea with not sweetner in it.
  5. I hate to drive, but end up doing all the driving. Except for going to work, I take the bus, it may be longer, but I'm not stressed.
  6. I don't care for beef, pork or chicken much.
  7. I don't care for chocolate very often.
  8. I don't like very many sit coms.
  9. I don't like many stupid movie comedies.
  10. I love British shows and movies.
  11. I love French movies.
  12. I don't like potatoes, but love rice.
  13. I don't mind cleaning or doing laundry.
  14. I love to cook, but baking is OK.
  15. I love sports.
  16. I don't care much for science fiction, but loved Lord of the Rings, Steven Spielberg's Take, The 4400.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Best Coworkers in the World

I will not miss my job because management has been horrible for the past year. However, I will miss the best coworkers ever. These flowers (now hiding in my bathroom so the cats can not eat them) were sent by KM. He was the best project manager ever!! I know we will remain friends forever!! I will also miss KM, the user support analyst. Despite having bad taste in college football teams (Nebraska Cornhuskers), I love her to death. And she is married to a Longhorn, so she does have good taste. KM has been there for me since DAY 1! Without her I would have been totally lost.

Then I can't say enough about the Houston team, most of whom have gone on to new jobs. But AS and RM were so welcoming and became such close friends. AS and I share a love of books and had a blast finding new authors together! RM and her darling daughter AB will always have a fond place in my heart.

There were a lot of good friends, but these deserve a big shout out.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Less Stress

I've been a bit stressed lately. In November I lost my beloved aunt. Then 2 weeks later I told I needed to move to Nashville or lose my job. I chose lose the job. I didn't like it that much any more (bad management) and I don't do country music. In all of December I did not get one call on jobs. Starting the second week of January I started getting a lot of calls. I had one interview a couple of weeks ago, but have not heard one word from the recruiter. I find that very tacky. She was all gung ho, and then nothing. Last week I got called for an interview on Thursday. Friday morning they asked me to come back this week and meet the whole team. They were great. Two hours after I left I was called with a job offer! My present job ends Friday, and I got a severence package. And I start the new job on Monday! I'm so excited!

I just filled out all the forms, and scanned them in to email them to my new employer. I feel very fortunate to find a job in this economy!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Books and TV

I decided this year I would keep track of what I read and the movies I see. Usually I get to the end of the year and can't remember what I read that year. I love to read and listen to books!

A favorite series of mine is The Presidental Agent Series by W.E.B. Griffin. The latest in the series is Black Ops. The main character is Charlie Castillo. His code name is Don Juan. I was a little disappointed in the beginning of the book, not enough action. But by the end of the book, I was hooked again. Everyone loves this series. Guys love it for all the action, girls like it because Charlie is hot, hot, hot.

Now for fluff mysteries, there is nothing like Janet Evanovich. The latest in the Stephanie Plum series is Plum Spooky. I was stuck in traffic listening to this and laughing out loud.

I'm always a day late and a dollar short with TV shows. I saw on someone's blog that Damages was a great show. So I ordered it from blockbuster and I'm totally hooked. I haven't finished watching season 1 yet, so I have season 2 on the DVR waiting for me to finish season 1. It reminds me of one of my favorites from the 90's, Murder One.

Murder One was my favorite show in 1995. Daniel Benzali was the first bald guy I ever thought was sexy. Patricia Clarkson was such a perfect wife for this show. This show kept me on the edge of my seat.