Be Happy Anyway

Be Happy Anyway
From Brave Girls Club

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

That's What You Get

I hear that phrase in my house all the time passed from one child to the other and occasionally out of my own mouth.

Tonight I am saying it to myself. Karma's a ..... a chameleon. What? What did you think I was going to say.

I took James to his soccer game this evening and he was running around the field waiting for the game to start. The coach (I use that term loosely) finally wrangled up the kiddos at their bench and made them hold their hands in front of themselves until the ref said it was time to start. While most of the children were waiting patiently, the coach turned her head; at which time, I see this little boy pulling his arms in a circle over the heads of each of his teammates. (They are 4 and 5 & James stands head and shoulders above them all.)

I think at this point I should mention that after having to babysit the bench warmers the first game and wrangle unruly children, I decided that it wasn't my place to mind other people's children and I would sit in my lawn chair and cheer my own child on instead. That's what I get.

A few minutes before the game started, I see the coach walking my son across the field. I realize is his face is dripping red stuff that wasn't the Gatorade I had sent him to the bench with. He had a bloody nose. Not just a little bloody nose. I am talking about a bloody nose of grand proportions. Moms begin handing me tissues and baby wipes, none of which helped. A dad runs to his car for towels while another runs to his car and returns with fast food napkins.

Fortunately, a grandmother was there just having gotten off of work as a nurse. Actually, she had just RETIRED today. She came over and helped my son. She sat with him the entire first quarter of the game until it stopped and looked like it wasn't going to return. She even carried the bloody napkins away to the trash when the fire ants thought they were tonight's fare.

As we left the game, I thanked everyone profusely for the tissues, wipes, towels and napkins, but there aren't words enough to thank this woman, another angel who has come to rescue me in my time of need.

As the game ended we noticed this rainbow.
It was a good end to an otherwise icky game.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Recipe from the OCD Cook

Many of you have been party to or at least heard about my problem with touching anything dirty. This includes raw meat. There had better be plenty of hot water and paper towels around. Don't get me wrong. I am no vegan. I like to eat meat, but don't ask me to touch it without being a very close personal friend. I usually find some way to get it into the pot without laying a finger on it, so when my mother found Members Mark canned white meat chicken at Sam's Club, I soon became a very big fan.

I have tried many brands of can chicken in an attempt to make chicken soup and salads without having to see raw chicken first. Unfortunately, they usually don't look much like chicken when you open it. The taste of most canned chicken products is usually over salted. I didn't really realize this until I had to use my last can of some other brand of chicken while waiting for another delivery of Members Mark. Let's just say, the former brand left much to be desired.

My favorite thing to make lately has been chicken salad. Remember, I have a touch of OCD so I could eat the same food everyday for about a month before I get bored. I have sometimes done this for much longer.

So let's get started making this chicken salad.

You will need about 5 cups of cooked chicken breast. Please feel free to cook your own chicken. Just know I won't be cooking mine. (I use two cans of Members Mark chicken breast.)

Next, prepare the mix-ins. I add a half a Granny Smith apple - chopped (or halved grapes), a quarter of a red onion - diced, and 2-3 stalks of celery - chopped. You might also consider adding chopped walnuts or almonds. (I always forget.)

Mix these ingredients together. Then add mayonnaise. I will say that it takes about a half a cup of mayo to get the salad to stay in a sandwich. You can use less. I don't think it makes a difference if you use low fat or regular. The calorie count that I give you at the end will just be a little different.

Before I start mixing the ingredients again, I put about two tablespoons of Vidalia Onion dressing from Tastefully Simple. I don't know what you could substitute for this. Just know it adds a little touch of sweet. I think in the past I might have used a touch of apple juice, but I think it made it a little too wet, so be careful.

You will have about 6 generous servings of about 290 calories each. This salad is best served chilled overnight. It doesn't take long to make or clean up and my good friends know that easy clean up is key for me.

You can put it on any kind of bread or eat alone with a green salad and tomatoes. Serve it on a croissant from Le Madeleine's, and I'm in heaven.

Sorry there are no photos to go with this one. My family was asleep as I was making it and I thought the flash might wake my youngest. I will try to remember next time.

For now, this is the OCD Cook, signing off. Happy eating.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

You've Come a Long Way, Baby!

My friend MJ was reminiscing about typewriters and word processors. While I was typing a response I figured it was long enough for my own post....

I learned to type on a manual and an IBM Selectric II. We had to take turns using the electric typewriters then since there were only two or three in the room. I remember finding it so hard to push down those manual keys. My chair was in a corner and I was surrounded by three football players who loved to torture me, the class geek. The Vietnamese typing teacher would shout, "MEEESTOR STEEEEVE TAAAHMIS, WOULD JU PLEEASE CALM DOWN!) Maybe that's why I am such a fast typist now (so I could get my work done quickly and get out of there.) My elementary students think it amazing. "Mrs. Victory, how do you type without looking at the keys?" LOL. If they only knew.

Note: I still remember those boys and run into them occasionally around town. All three graduated to become police officers. I actually dated one. Imagine that.

In college I used my first computer, but it was only to input numbers for a number crunching program in a statistics class. (Hated that class.)

My parents bought me a very nice Brother electric typewriter that would erase the mistakes you made on the page just by hitting the backspace button. It just lifted the ink off the page! I went through a lot of correction tape. My brother got the one that would show you what you typed before you hit return. Spoiled kid! :-)

Upon graduation my first real job involved data input, but I still couldn't type. But I got really good at pushing that F10 button to save my work.

During graduate school, I worked in a library where was I exposed to my first real computer. I got to learn WordPerfect. F10 and I became reacquainted. From that point on I became the typing whiz I am today.

MJ also was talking about research. At the library, that was my main job. I worked in the Periodicals Department. Students would come in having no clue where to start their research and would have to look up magazines in a book called the Periodical Index. The only person that was allowed to look things up on the computer was our librarian. This was before the real world wide web, a la Al Gore. She would have to log into different databases and it cost money to do it, so people had to pay her to do their research.

I laugh now at how far technology has come and wonder where the future of technology will take us. I look back at my high school self who would have never walked into a computer class. That was too high tech for me. Yet, here I sit at my computer in my jammies posting a blog just because I can.

Will we really get those flying cars? I hope not. I have a hard enough time driving as it is.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Let's Get Creative

This past weekend while I was relaxing in Salado with my bloggy friends, I pulled out the paper and glue and said we should all make trading cards to take from the weekend as a memento. Earlier in the day I was listening to Wendy say how inspiring the village was since it is packed with products made by so many creative people. SO I decided that we needed to get our creative juices flowing and you would have thought I said it was time for a root canal. NOT REALLY Actually, one or both of them might have rather had a root canal, but I persevered and continued pulling out the paper and goodies and sample ATC cards that I had received over the past two years.

In the end they both made some really cute cards and replicated them to trade with me and each other. They even made extras for the two ladies who were unable to be with us that night. (Oops Roban, Julie, I let a little secret slip.)

When we were done, I began talking to them about an online workshop I participated in earlier this year that taught me that I had what it takes to be creative. I told Wendy that she should really participate in this class because it was detailed and gave good examples but it also gave the opportunity to use the techniques in your own way.

Then, today, I saw on Michelle's blog that she was encouraging others to take this art journal class and I thought, "Well, why aren't I doing the same thing??"

So here it is. Go to my friend Marit's site and sign up for her class, "Let It Loose." There are still a few spaces available. I know you will enjoy it.

Here are few of my pages:

Hope to see what you make!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Norway - A Tourists Point of View

The statues and buildings throughout Norway kept me snapping away. Thank goodness for digital cameras. Imagine if I had taken 500+ photos on traditional Kodak film? (Don't worry, I am not sharing all 500+ pics.) Imagine if I had to process those photos before I got to see them? I still have rolls of film from I don't know when sitting in a bowl, plus a disposable camera. I would never be able to regale you with all the photos that are about to follow.Sorry it's blurry. This is the Rica Holberg hotel where we stayed at. Just super.

It's not far from Slottet (Royal Place) where this monument of King Karl Johan who ruled Sweden and Norway from 1818 to 1844 when he died.

The Royal Palace

Queen Maud - the wife of Karl Johan

Detail on a gazebo in the Royal Garden

Fountain in the back of the National Theater (Nationaltheatret)
We took a bus ride from Oslo to Haugesund where my friend picked us up. This was one of the bus stops along the way.

Our main vacation took place in Karmøy on the west side of Norway. We stayed my friend's house and had the use of a car which made getting around much easier.

The historic village of Skudeneshaven is packed full with simply lovely buildings. It's picture perfect.

The copper for the Statue of Liberty surprisingly came from mine at Vignes in Norway.

The original royal seat was in Avladsnes. This is St. Olav's Church built in the 1300s which was renamed the Church of Alvadsnes at it's 700th anniversary celebration.
St. Mary's Needle - a stone pillar that leans toward the building. There were beliefs that when it touched the wall, judgment day would come. There are even stories of priests climbing to the top to remove some the stone to keep it from touching. Currently, it is 9,2 cm from Judgment Day.

Boat docks like this can be seen everywhere in Norway.

On a quick trip to Bergen, we were fascinated by the restroom in a restaurant. The taps turn on automatically. It was funny to see an old fashion tub being used as a basin right next to a modern Dyson Blade hand dryer.

Buildings along the Bergen quay

Bergen church against a gray sky

Bridge at Gudvangen

Church at Voss built in 1277

Building at the Viking Farm in Avaldsnes

Interesting carving at the top of one of the building at Avaldsnes Viking Farm

Vigeland Park entry. Those are bronze statues that line the bridge to the fountain. The fountain is four men holding up a large basin. It is surrounded by bronze statues of trees with people in them representing the cycle of life. Up the stairs is the monolith surrounded by granite statues conceived by Vigeland and recreated from models by master craftsmen.
Woman Holding Hair
Fountain with Six Men Holding a Basin
Unsure of the name of this sculpture.

Modeled by Vigeland in the years 1924-25, it took three stone carvers from 1929 to 1943 to complete the Monolith, just shortly before Vigeland died. Carved out a single piece of granite 46 feet tall, it consists of 121 figures.

Are you still with me?? I know, it's like my dad's slide shows that he showed when I was a kid, except, I loved my dad's slide shows, but I know many people get bored of them after awhile.

At the Norsk Folk Museum, we saw amazing folk art. I was fascinated by the painted flowers. They were everywhere.

The women made lefse bread. We got to buy it and it was tasty.

The Viking Ship Museum had actual ships and artifacts found in around the ships. The boats were used for burials at the end of the owner's life.

Oslo Opera House opened in 2008. You can walk on the building's roof and the roof is also skateboard friendly.

'Hun ligger' (She Lies) by Monica Bonvicini sits on the water outside the Opera House was unveiled on May 11, 2010. For more info and a better picture click here.

Inside the Opera House. Unique architectural designs.

Peggy and I had a great time in Norway. We did EVERYTHING we imagined doing, even some things we couldn't fathom.

I am glad I made this trip. It took me three years to make it there. (Technically, 16 years if you count when I first started thinking about it.) I can't wait to go back with my family. I know they will love it... or at least I hope they will. One can never understand the thinking of a teenager.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

And Now A Break From Our Norwegian Travel Guide

I know my next post was to be about the architecture and such we saw while we were in Norway, but I just spent the weekend in an amazing place and just had to share it with you all.

Many years ago, okay actually three, I joined a site called Scrapblog. I began exploring the site and ran across a scrapblog called Quiet Ballet. I left a comment and began looking at who also left comments. Through a series of clicks, I ended up at some other ladies' scrapblogs. Little did I know that these women would become important friends in my life.

I then began blogging and following these same friends' blogs and came across another blogger. The five of us decided to do a series of joint blogs based on our chosen words for the year. This activity sealed our friendship and made us all want to get together. (Note - One of us, Roban, was unable to make it.)

It was decided that Texas was the place to go, but where to stay became the question. I took it upon myself to make arrangements for accommodations and came across The Baines House in Salado. I had only heard good things about the place and through the wonder of the internet, I was able to view the different cottages and even see what the actual rooms looked like.

I called the owner and he was such a pleasant man. He held the Cattle Baron Suite for us. So we all waited with baited breath to see this place in real life.

Upon our arrival, we retrieved our key and opened the suite. Although we had seen the place on the website, we were amazed at how cozy and neatly appointed our accommodations were. I even mentioned to my friends how I could live in a place like this forever.
Rod & Sheryl Russell, Innkeepers

When we walked in we were greeted by a king-sized bed quaintly covered in a patchwork quilt and a pile of pillows topped off with the cutest Raggedy Ann and Andy pillows. I almost didn't want to unmake the bed, but was glad I did because it was the most comfortable bed I have slept in for a long time.
The World's Most Comfortable Bed

We continued to explore our surroundings and checked out the bathroom which had more towels than I possibly have in my entire house. The walls were treated with a Venetian plaster finish that I had only seen on home television shows. Our tour took us up stairs lined with upholstered walls. At the top of the stairs was a roomy loft with two twin beds set up like a banquet and futon for any unexpected guests. There was a dinette complete with a mini-fridge filled with water and sodas, a dining table with checker board for those quiet moments between shopping sprees. A door led out to a balcony with chairs and view of the garden where doves entertained us with their cooing up in the many trees that surround the property.

After a restful sleep and a hot shower, we headed off to breakfast at the Carriage House where we were greeted by the innkeepers Rod & Sheryl Russell. Breakfast consisted of egg frittata, black bean and hominy salsa (yummy) followed by dessert (!!!) of peach cobbler and fresh whipped cream. We had the best conversation with Rod and Sheryl and we walked away having had an elegant sufficiency, ready to face the Salado Art Festival. They even gave us discount coupons for the fair! The next day's breakfast was just as enjoyable with migas and that wonderful salsa, dessert of bread pudding with lemon sauce and more delightful discussions. Sheryl had even set aside a table especially for our odd group of three.
Me, Wendy & Peggy enjoying breakfast

I was sad to leave my little sanctuary, but I am glad to know it is always there waiting for me whenever I feel I need a little getaway. I hope you get a chance to experience this retreat, too.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Natural Norway

When we landed in Oslo, it was morning, but we had been flying since two days earlier. Fortunately the hotel let us check in early. After a nap, we ventured out into the city to see what it had to offer. When we got to the Royal Palace, we came across a beautiful garden complete with duck ponds and tall trees.
We chased ducks and birds.

No real deer, but the little statue caught my eye.

This droopy tree made me smile.

I wondered what kind of bird made this house a home.

The next day we rode a bus across the country to the west coast where we were spending most of our time. The setting was ideal and we walked around a lot. Before dinner one evening, we walked down to the beach at Sandhåland. It was interesting to be walking on a beach I had read about in travel guides.
On the way down to the beach we met these beautiful Norwegian fjord horses. Everyone had to stop and feed them the clover growing along the fence line.

These daisies were spied growing in the sand along the rocks.

Speaking of rocks, I just had to scramble these for a quick pose.

Everywhere you look in Norway you can find waterfalls. This was a little one running through the field near the beach.

On the walk home, I couldn't help but snap a picture of these pink beauties.

The next day we headed for Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) one of the most challenging hikes I have ever been on.
Very challenging. 2t+2t means 4 hours which actually turned into 6+ hours.

Before taking off, we stopped for some lunch, and they served water in this bottle. In fact, everywhere we went in Norway, there was always a bottle of water on the table or at the counter for guests to refresh themselves with.
After about 20 minutes of walking, I turned around and saw how high we were and how far away we were from the visitors center. All that went through my mind whenever I would look back was how far I would have walk back down, but my friends kept encouraging (pushing) on.

Occasionally, we would find running brooks and mini waterfalls. They would later be our "lifesavers" when the water we brought ran out. (It was unusually hot that day.)
Peggy stopped to take a break in one of the many picturesque spots along the trail. (In this case, trail is read large boulders that had to be climbed over.)

However, the effort was rewarded with spectacular views.

A few days later we left for Bergen and then on to Flåm.
Upon stopping for fuel, we found some wonderfully mysterious views.
At Flåm, we took a train up the mountain that stopped along the way so we could admire this incredible waterfall. It was a rainy day, so there wasn't much we could do while we were there.

When we got back from Flåm, Jan Ove had the sailboat ready for a short trip through the water way.

One the many benefits of visiting Norway is that the sun doesn't set until 11 pm so you have a lot of day to do fun things.
Jan Ove brought Jani along as his crew member so I got to sit back and enjoy the ride. relaxing.

As we were pulling back to the dock, Jan Ove told me he had a surprise planned for me the next day...
Yep, his best friend Morten took us flying over Lysefjord, Preikestolen and a glacier. This was so unexpected and was one of the highlights of our trip.


Preikestolen - yes, those little spots are people. This is where we were hiking to.

Norway is beautiful! Everything was so clean and clear and refreshing. It was a vacation I am glad we took.

Next post...monuments and architecture.
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