Main | January 2009 »

December 30, 2008

New Year - New Plans

No matter how hard I try to NOT have a New Year's resolution, I always have a list of things in my head I want and do not want to do in the coming new year. I remember this list for about a month. I would say I abide by about 1/3 of the list.

This year Dan and I are on a serious spending freeze come January 1st. We haven't been out of control with any of our money, we are very conscious of how much we have, how much we spend and how much we should be saving. We are just looking to save more because you never know what else is going to happen in the auto industry... I'm already looking for loop holes in this spending freeze such as sneaking things into the "grocery bill" when I am at Meijer. I'm going to try hard not to, I have two Target gift cards burning a hole in my wallet right now, but I'm saving them for when I am really desperate (I'd say by mid-February) to buy something not on our list.

I'm sure we'll fall off the wagon a few times, but the two of us are wise with our spending. We like to research our purchase, attempt to find the best item and the best deal. We rarely purchase something on impulse, and Dan has found a gas station that will give him a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup Cappuccino for FREE if he puts 8 gallons of gas in his car! 

These thoughts have led me to wonder if there is a top 10 list of New Year's resolutions. Sure enough, that internet has EVERYTHING! About.com has the Top 10 list. My resolutions match 3 on the list:

Number 3 - Tame the Bulge. Don't we all wish we could lose 10 lbs (or more!)

Number 7 - Get out of Debt (see above)

Number 9 - Help Others. This will happen because we regularly donate to Last Chance Rescue, JDRF, the American Cancer Society, and the Special Olympics. But each year I try to do more. I'm sure 2009 will include the Travis Chellis Foundation as well.

We wish everyone a happy, healthy, New Year and hope that when 2010 comes around, you aren't repeating and relisting items on your resolution list!

December 26, 2008

Power Cooking

I frequently volunteer to bringing a dish to my parent's house and my in laws house for the holidays. I figure it's the least I can do since they are hosting a house full of people, proving us with the main dish and beverages. This year I offered to bring lasagna on Christmas Eve and cheesy potatoes, salad and dessert for Christmas Day. It's pretty standard that I have to make these creations a day or so before the events, and this year I ran into a big pickle, and had to make lots of items in one night. 

Dan and I didn't get home on Tuesday night until 8pm. He took me to work that day and then off to the race shop he went. He picked me up, took me to the gym, while he did errands and by the time we ate and got home in the snowstorm, it was after 8. First order of business was lasagna and cheesy potatoes. While I was making lasagna, Dan was hard at work on mixing HIS cheesy potatoes. Next up were brownies, he made the entire batch himself, and I moved on to the salad. By 9pm, we had four dishes done: lasagna, brownies, salad and potatoes. I recall looking at the clock when we began and it was 22 minutes after 8. We just completed a Power Cooking session. Maybe we should start a TV show...

I cannot tell you how fast, helpful and wonderful this power cooking session was with my husband. He was awesome, he'd finish one job and ask me what was next. After cooking he was onto putting the clean dishes away and then snowblowing the driveway. I guess his next "cooking lesson" on his blog can be him teaching me how to cook something...

December 25, 2008

Doggone Great! Faux Shearling...

I love my dogs and obviously talk about the, photograph them and baby them. I wouldn't trade them for the world, but sometimes, I with they were smaller.

Rockwell weighs in at 118 lbs, and Cletus tops the scale around 99 lbs. Rockwell has short hair, Cletus has long hair, Rockwell is the younger Big Fella, Cletus is our (Old) Wise Man. Each of them is alike and different in so many ways. They remind me of children. You hear parents describe their children as this one being the drama queen, that one being very particular, the other free spirited. In this case, I describe both of them as being too big, or having too much hair because I want to get them each a sweater.

Yes, I want my dog to have a sweater or shirt to wear. But I run into several obstacles. Cletus has long hair and is hot all the time, therefore he's out for a sweater. Rockwell has short hair but is too big for any of the "normal" dog attire they sell in local retail stores. He qualifies for the "Big and Tall" dog clothing only for sale on the internet and I'm too cheap to buy them! But yesterday I received the Doggone Great! Faux Shearling Dog Coat flyer in the mail!

 

They had an XL size that would only cost me $14.95 plus $3.95 for shipping! What a deal! All Rockwell had to do was fit into the 22"-24" category. I found on the flyer how to find his size: Measure collar area to base of tail to determine size.

I broke out the tape measure and tried to get Rockwell to stand still. It was difficult since he wanted to eat and smell and lick the tape measure. I managed to measure him at 28"-30", depending on if he had his head up or down. Bummer, again he missed out on this fabulous Faux Shearling Coat! What is Shearling anyway?

Maybe it's for the best, I still have the money in my pocket and with Rockwell's shape, it may have fit him from neck to tail, but could have been tight around the belly. Then there is the other obvious reason not to get him a coat, he would probably hate it and try to tear it off his body!

December 24, 2008

Rockwell & His New Ball

Ever since Rockwell and I have known each other, he has had a purple jolly ball and he loves it. It's a basketball size ball that is very very hard. It is made of plastic but it doesn't bounce well and Rockwell pushes it across the yard with his nose. There is an area in which the ball is "plugged" shut and Rockwell tries to pick up the ball with his teeth using the indented plug area. Quite often he is not successful, but he does keep trying.

Rockwell's purple ball has been stuck under Dan's shed platform that takes up part of our driveway. Since the snow has fallen, the ball is there until the spring when we can move the platform, so I bought him a new jolly ball for Christmas the other day. I'm over wrapping presents, so I gave the ball to him when I bought it. The new ball is red and huge. I haven't measured it yet, but I think it is the 14" size. (The purple ball was 10").

It's fun to watch Rockwell with his ball in the snow because when he rolls it across the yard, it gets more snow covered and gradually gets larger like a snowball you roll in the snow to make a snowman! Then he attacks it with his mouth and breaks off the snow. One year we came to the conclusion his lip or tongue got stuck to the frozen ball (just as Flick's tongue got stuck to the pole in the movie A Christmas Story) when there was a bit of blood on his lip and on the snowy ball! Don't worry, it didn't even phase him!

To my surprise, Dan took photos of Rockwell and his ball outside the other morning!

 

Rockwell licks the snow off the ball.

 

 

 

 

Rockwell tries to bite the ball to pick it up. 

If you have clicked on the jolly ball link above, you'll see that there is a "Rockwell-like" spokesdog at the bottom, proudly displaying his jolly ball! And although they seem expensive, both jolly balls are worth the money. The soft ball is indestructable. Rockwell has teeth marks all over his Tug-n-Toss but the ball has not deflated or fallen apart and it doesn't squeak!

December 23, 2008

Addictions...Facebook in Particular

I caved. I officially have a Facebook page. But over the weekend I've been wondering why is Facebook so addicting? You create an account, add friends, ask to be someone's friend, send messages, upload photos and chat. I think right now I'm always checking my account because it's new and something fun to check out. I like to see if I've found new people that I haven't seen or heard from in quite some time.

Of course I think when someone becomes my friend, I do what everyone does....scour their info to see where they are living, what they like, what they are doing and where they are working, then dive into their photos to see what they look like now, or what their lives are like, vacations, work, school. Stalk them. That's the correct term.

Sometimes I'm embarassed to be almost 30 and have a facebook page! But at the same time, I realize it is a great networking tool, great way to see photos and what friends are up to now a days, and once you are their friend on Facebook, you can almost always stay in touch with them no matter where they go.

December 22, 2008

Photos with Santa

I'm a supporter of Last Chance Rescue (LCR) in Howell, therefore, I always try to take part in their events and donate money and supplies to them. We had a donation box at our wedding and even gave part of our wedding loot to LCR. Me missed the event last year, but this year I made sure we took part in photos with Santa in which all proceeds went to Last Chance Rescue.

I found bandannas for Rockwell and Cletus the day before the photo session, so they wore festive green bandannas that had all sorts of dog and holiday sayings printed on it in white, red, sliver and black ink. It was a blustery cold day, but we made it out and after just four photos, we had the prized one. 

 

 

December 19, 2008

Typos

As most everyone knows, I'm throwing myself a 29.5 birthday party in January at the roller skating rink. I just got most of my invites out this week and have discovered a TYPO! Nothing major, the invite is completely usable/readable/understandable with the typo, but I know it's there. Not sure if others will notice it, and if they do, they will most likely say nothing to me.

Why is this so frustrating, well, because checking for and noticing typos is part of my every day job. But what is worse is when I work on my own "projects'. I check and double check and triple check and ask other people to check and then I find an error! I am 100% responsible for this error and I think I know how it happened.

I'm a key command junkie. I rarely use my mouse in my programs, I use all of the key commands. Command P to print, Command C to copy, T for my type tool. I have the majority of the commands memorized including Select All, Move to Front, Move to Back, Show Guides, Hide Guides, Show Frames, Hide Frames, Show Invisibles, Step and Repeat, etc. This has backfired on me several times. And I'll try to explain why.

The type tool is the letter T and if I am already in the "type tool mode" and press the T key again, it will actually type the letter T wherever my cursor is. The letter T is my typo for this project. There is a bright side, 1-I printed 2 invites per page, therefore, only half of them are incorrect. 2-I had to print a few more invites because I didn't have enough (yeah, this Par-Tay is going to be huge) so it is possible the majority of the invites are fine, and it's just the extras that were misspelled. Comment and let me know if this is true or not.

 

December 18, 2008

Postal Victims Again!

As most of you know, I had my Christmas cards ready early, therefore I mailed them at the beginning of December. Well, the other day I received a very official letter from the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General.

In a nutshell, the letter stated the following:

1-The mail I sent on or about November 24th was rifled through and was discovered by the Bay Port Post Office. The envelope and its contents was investigated and then sent to the addressee on or about November 24th. There was a photocopy of the envelope included in the letter from the post office, therefore I know who received the Christmas card.

2-The individual responsible for rifling my mail has been identified and "no longer has access to U.S. Mail within the United States Postal Service."

3-Complete the Mail Loss/Rifling Report to ensure the post office can document any lost cash or item that was within the envelope. 

This letter was F A S C I N A T I N G to me because I mailed the letter on December 2nd, as the postmark states, not on November 24th. And, when I emailed my friend to see if she got it (as the letter from the post office stated) she had not received anything. 

Therefore, I emailed the person who sent me the letter and she answered most of my questions. Sadly, the letter sent wasn't completely accurate. 

1-There were multiple victims, and the mail was opened between November 24th and December 3rd. I say, "Fix the form letter!"

2-The letter was not sent to the addressee but is in the hands of the Office of Inspector General until the case has been adjudicated. Again, I say, "Fix the form letter!"

3-The letter can be returned to me, which I have requested because I want to see what is missing and how long it takes the government to handle this situation!

This is just one of the reasons why I don't want the government taking control of my health care!

 

December 17, 2008

Those Kids!

 

The other night when I came home, I went to get the mail as usual. And as usual it was dark outside. When I arrived to the mailbox, dimly lit by our Christmas Lights from the lampposts, I noticed our mail box door was missing and the "back door" of the mail box was also open. There was mail in the box, and mail all over the ditch behind the box. It had rained and then snowed so the mail was nice and frozen. I thought I could break it apart like a saltine cracker. I brought it inside to dry and thaw. 

I then went back outside, armed with my headlamp to investigate the situation. I located the mailbox door, it was in the road, completely torn off of the mailbox. The door in the back was fine and I closed it. I found one more piece of mail in the ditch and then discovered our mailbox had been vandalized! I'm thinking it was a baseball bat that made the big crack on the side! I will admit the box held up pretty well, the door can be reattached, but must be carefully opened. The flag is completely missing but we don't use it too often and It gets frozen to the side in the winter.

My internet search lead me to what the US Postal Service suggests, and I think I'm going to take them up on that offer today!  I have a few things to mail at the post office, so I am going to start with getting the form!

Those kids today! I have never taken part in a mailbox smashing, and I don't think my husband has either. I know his family was victim of mailbox vandalism because now they have a mailbox made out of diamond plate and galvanized steel and it has held up through the years!

I know how much a new plastic mailbox costs because I have not purchased one, but 2 for my mom! I just bought her one a year or so ago for Christmas. She's always "dreamed" of having a plastic mailbox and I got her one. Since she's moving, she asked for another one, which I had sent directly to her house! Maybe I'll ask for it back when I visit at Christmastime!

December 16, 2008

"Wait for the noodle..."

"Wait for the noodle," I tell myself as I approach my vehicle in the morning and open the door to get in. I try to tell myself this every time I get into my new truck. Yes, I am officially a trick driver. Dan has my car, I have our new truck to drive back and forth to work. A savings plan since his commute is so much father than mine, and his 1995 Dodge Dually with $325,000+ miles on it no longer has 3rd gear, so it was time for a new vehicle.

We purchased a 2005 Dodge Ram (of course) 2500 quad cab truck. It's red and big. I'm still getting used to parking it. I can get into the parking spot, but I never pull up close enough to the other vehicle. Thankfully it doesn't have a full size bed. I would hit every curb in sight.  As for the noodle, It's a diesel, so you have to warm it up before starting it, which means you have to wait for the "noodle" light to turn off before turning the key all the way. I've forgotten twice, but as long as I keep telling myself to wait for the noodle, I'm all set.

 

December 15, 2008

Premier Designs Jewelry

I recently attended a Premier Designs Jewelry party. It was your standard at home party: a blurb about this, a blurb about that, chatter here, chatter there, catalogs, chocolate martinis, wine, food, and go home happy. We've all been to them. And they are fun to go to and I think it's always nice to buy at least one thing to help out not only the hostess, who is also helping out the consultant. But, at this party, something very different happened. It happened so quickly it made me stop and really think.

I was listening to the consultant tell about the jewelry as I was flipping through the catalog and sipping my martini when she said, "All of the jewelry is made in the USA." I was amazed. I almost asked her to say that again. Was she serious? Is that possible? I started to take a better look at the catalog.

Then I heard, "Premier Designs is a debt-free company." I thought to myself, "Debt-free company, what is that? I've never heard of that. Does that mean the government doesn't ever have to bail you out?" It was explained to me as this: The consultant gets 50% of the profits, the host gets 30% and the company (Premier Designs) gets 20%. After Premier Designs pays its bills and employees, any left over money is donated to ministries and missionary families across the globe. I found this fact fascinating. It made me want to buy more!

Four hours, three pieces of jewelry and two chocolate martinis later, I was back home still thinking about this company. I wanted to share it with my husband, but he was already in bed, since it was after 11 on a weeknight! Sorry if we hung out to late at your house Amy, it was lots of fun and next time I won't stay so late on a school night! 

If you are interested in hosting a show or purchasing jewelry, please contact Lynn Kofahl through the Premier Designs website, or email me for more information kstrohs@hotmail.com.

 

December 14, 2008

Store Greeters

I've realized when I go to the store I want to be "waited on" at the check out lanes. I don't want to scan my cart load of groceries myself, I don't want to put my coupons in the little slot, I don't want to wait for a person to check my ID so I can buy a bottle of Admiral Nelson's and I don't want to bag my own groceries. But at the big box store I frequent, there are less cashier lanes open and more self serve so I end of giving into their scheme. I get over it when I realize I can get paper bags and put things the way I want them in my bags.

Lately I've been very crabby about the store greeters. Sure, they are nice, or appear to be nice, since their job is to smile at people and welcome them to the store. I know the attempt is to discourage shoplifters, but even when the store alarms go off by the door, you don't see them running to check your shopping bag for pilfered merchandise. They casually walk up to you, and as embarassing and annoying as it is for an alarm to go off when you are leaving with your purchased goods, you usually open the bag a bit, pull out your receipt and they wave for you to continue out the door. I don't think everyone should be strip searched when the buzzer sounds, but at least check the items in the bag match the receipt!

And what happened to the greeters keeping the cart area organized, keeping the carts clean and getting you a cart? Now they just stand there and watch me struggle trying to get two mis-shapen carts apart, remove the garbage in the cart and go on my merry way. Why can't they pull the carts out of the bin for me and get them "lined up" so I can easily and quickly begin my shopping experience? They used to do that, carts seemed to be a serious part of their job: 1-smile, make eye contact, 2-welcome the customer 3-give them a cart if they need one! 

December 13, 2008

K9 Blood Drive

 

We recently made an appointment for Rockwell to donate blood. Yes, blood. When I tell people Rockwell donated blood, they ask, "For what?" He donated blood just has humans do, to help others. Others being other dogs who may need blood because they are sick, for surgery, a transfusion or for any other unforeseen accident that may occur.

So, on a snowy, cold, slippery Saturday, we drove to the Midwest Animal Blood Services in Stockbridge, Michigan. We filled out a few forms, Rockwell was weighed, his temperature was taken, and a small sample of blood was nabbed from his neck. This sample was to rule out any obvious issues and diseases he may have.

 

 

 

Rockwell then moved into the donation room, where four people helped keep him on the table. He did very well on the table. It was necessary for everyone to hold him down for the entire donation period so the needle would not come out of his neck. He was relatively happy on the table, he passed some gas, drooled on the floor and got lots of attention from me. He donated 400 mL of blood total. Enough to help at least two, maybe three dogs!

 

After the sample was taken, his neck was wrapped in a bandage, and he was sent home with a bag of treats, new toy and a fabulous bandanna. 

 

 

We will receive a full profile very soon and there is a chance Rockwell's blood will not be usable if he has any health issues. One is 15 dogs is considered a "universal donor" which means they can donate for every different dog blood type. Otherwise, just like humans, dogs have several different blood types and they can be very complex.

 

After reading this, I hope you realize pets need blood, too! It's usually something we don't think about until something happens to our pets! I'm not saying you should run to your vet to bank your dog's blood (like Kramer on Seinfeld) but I am suggesting you look into the possibility of your pet being a donor. Cats qualify, as well as horses and cows, and possibly other animals in metropolitan areas. Check around, you'd be surprised, there may be an animal blood bank in your area, or coming to your area soon!

December 12, 2008

Mega Millions

I am usually not a gambler, and when I do have the rare opportunity to gamble, I am very conservative. The other day when a coworker asked me for $2 to get into the Mega Millions Lottery, I didn't hesitate to hand over the cash. And it's amazing I even had any cash with me! We didn't win the Tuesday drawing, but I have since handed over another $2 to get in on the $207 million drawing for Friday.

I don't even know what the rules are. I just hand over my money and when I come to work the next day, I ask if we've won. I know the chances are slim, and that I have to share my winnings with at least six other people but can you imagine!?!? I would get over 15 million dollars! 

I decided a long time ago if I ever hit the lotto, the only people I will hand cash to will be my immediate family. That includes my mom and dad and sister, mother and father-in-law and my brother-in-law. The rest, I'm keeping, along with my job. Yeah, that's right, I'll work but only until I don't want to do what I do anymore. I'll probably always work, but maybe when I am rolling in dough, I can do something I want to do. Like volunteer, for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Last Chance Rescue and any other organizations that need me. You can always hand them cash, which is nice, but the money in addition to volunteering will always be priceless.

Keep your fingers crossed! The drawing is tonight!

A Diamond isn't Forever

Everyone has heard the saying "A Diamond is Forever" on countless radio and television ads for Jewelry stores. Recently I got hitched and came up with my own Diamond System: For each diamond you have on your wedding ring and band, equals one year of marriage. I recently started telling people this, which leads to the woman counting each diamond on her band then you hear, seven, eight, twelve, twenty and so on. That is part 1 of my Diamond System.

Part 2: If you have a right hand ring, you have to count those diamonds, too. This is when my sister realized her marriage will last a lot longer than she thought!

Part 3: Any other diamond jewelry your husband buys for you counts. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, watches, etc.

The plan: you convince your husband this is the "rule" of a lasting marriage, thererfore, he purchases you more bling bling for birthdays and holidays and adds to the length of your marriage. I cannot guarantee this is going to make your marriage happy, but you may have a temporary beaming smile when you get to wear and show off your new rock(s). 

This "rule" is somewhat similar to the tradition of buying your soon-to-be husband or wife a present and giving it to him or her just before the two of you marry. You know what I'm talking about and most people ask the bride what she got from her now husband. There is no stated law that says the guy must buy the gal a present before they marry, but guys think they have to do this because this is just what you do. This is what I am trying to establish.

How long will my marriage last? 29 years. Yes, I have 29 diamonds on my wedding band. One in the middle and 14 on each side. The first 14 are from my wedding band, the other 14 are from a band I recently purchased as a memory of my grandpa who passed away this August. Technically he helped pay for the second set of 14 diamonds, so if you follow my Diamond System, my marriage will last 15 years. I'll be sure to convince my husband of this so he remembers he has 15 years to figure out what he can buy me next.

 

After reading this it may seem like I am a snotty wife who wants bling bling for every birthday, holday and anniversary. Well, this is not the case at all. I only wanted one, 2.5 carat diamond on my ring when I got married. One diamond, 2.5 carats. I seriously thought it was the least my husband could do when he propsed because I have never once asked him to purchase jewelry for me, not once. Then I started to look at the price of a 2.5 carat diamond, let me just say that today, Costco.com has a 2.01 carat round loose diamond for $28,999.99. And that's a half carat shy of my "requirement". That was a reality check for me. Besides, the 5.5 carat diamond ring the jewelry store let me try on felt very cheap, eventhough it was over $60,000!

On top of all of this, I received the email below today! Husbands (and anyone else) can always shop our store or the marketplace and use the coupon below. 

 

December 11, 2008

Unique Jewelry Display Project

I've been searching the internet and stores for a way to store my jewelry. I don't have a lot, and much of it is costume jewelry (primarily necklaces and bracelets), but I have been struggling to find a way to store and display my jewelry in my huge bathroom that has minimal storage space.

My jewelry needs a home.
 

Here is what I came up with. I purchased a basswood board at Joann Fabrics for $9.99 (but I had a 40% off coupon, so I got the board for $5), a tube of acrylic paint (burnt umber is the color I picked), clear spray paint, various cabinet hardware from Lowe's and Home Depot, an easel from Pier One and my drill bits and screw gun.


 

I painted the wood board using the burnt umber acrylic paint and then used a crumpled up piece of newspaper to pat the board while the paint was wet. This created a textured look. When the paint was dry, I sprayed the wood with clear spray paint to seal the color and provide a protective coat.


 

I then planned my design by arranging the cabinet knobs on the board. It took a few tries, and I am glad I had my jewelry on hand to know which items I wanted to display.

I placed the board on the easel, hung my jewelry and my DIY Jewelry Display Project was done!

December 10, 2008

Christmas Lists

My family has always given each other Christmas lists. The lists contain everything from socks and tee shirts, to gift cards and electric blankets, peanuts and chocolate, cologne and wallets, tools and car cleaning kits. I love getting a Christmas list from people. It at least gives me an idea of what they want, but may not need. And everyone knows a Christmas List is a guideline for gifts. You may not get anything on the list, you may get a few things, or you may get everything. I mostly like them because they take all the thinking out of gifts and when you don't know what a person wants, you always wonder if they really like the gift you got them or if they are just "being nice."

This year I have been at a loss as to what I should get my husband for Christmas, so I asked for a list. Recently he sent me a link to an expensive watch. Normally I would just purchase this watch for him and be done with it, but for some reason I cannot see buying him another watch. He already has one. (I know, I know, it's probably like telling a woman she doesn't need another pair of shoes or two winter coats). But his is in great shape, still accurately tells time and he frequently gets comments on his watch to which I hear him reply, "I do love this watch."

When I asked him if he really needed another watch, he said he would love one but actually thought of something he needed for his Christmas list. Here is what he said:

"I did actually think of something I somewhat need, a new desktop radio for work. Mine is getting annoying, and I have to shove paper in my audio selections to get both speakers to work. Keep in mind the radio was purchased in the summer of 1992, traveled back and forth to LSSU a few times, and took a spill out the back of my Ramcharger in 1995. It also powered the speakers at the house for half a party when the amp we had took a s#*%."

After reading that, how can I not get him a new radio? Anyone who can recall the path his radio has taken deserves a new one plus, he's had that one for OVER 15 years and is still making it work. This is why I love my husband and his Christmas gift list!

He was kind enough to email me these photos...