Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Hobbit-ish Halloween & Ghost Story

Hey Humble Readers! 

I hope you're all having a fun and safe halloween.  Ours was fun, but quiet.  It's so cold outside that the few kids in our neighbourhood have likely gone to indoor events, and thus we haven't had any trick or treaters at our door.
Pippin guarding the candy bowl

Ginny had fun going out for a half hour or so with my Beloved (very bundled up under her costume).  She got a ton of candy from the neighbours and got to be out in the snow with Daddy.  Then she came home and had chicken tortilla soup to warm her up. 
Our little puppy dog
She was so excited she couldn't stand still.
My pumpkins turned out well, I think.  It's been 5 years since I last carved a pumpkin, so I started out with something basic.  Carving this small jack-o-lantern was my warm up. 

And then I stepped it up a little with this one especially for Ginny...  Perhaps next year I'll go with something a little more complex. 

Last weekend the wonderfully witty Stork (at Stupid Stork) accidentally began a ghost story fest in her comment section, and I wanted to elaborate on the story I shared.  I want to preface this with the fact that I'm not one to see faces in every shadow or jump at every little sound.  I consider myself a fairly grounded person, but these little happenings were very real. 

When I was five years old, I (with my bio-family) moved into an old house.  It was a bungalow built in the 1920s.  My parents were renting with the option to buy. 

We moved in at the end of the school year, so I had the whole summer to explore our new home.  There was a bit of an odd layout because the house had several additions built on over the years.  The only access to the only bathroom in the house was through my bedroom.  There was a parlour off the living room, a huge dining room, and two kitchens side by side.  It was a kooky little house. 

That summer and the following fall, odd things began happening.  Things my parents, initially, chalked up to it being an older home.  Cupboard doors that would open and close on their own.  Noises in the second kitchen (we used it as a storage room).  Hushed voices heard in the parlour.  By Christmas that year, my bio-mom was feeling that there was something pretty strange about the house. 

It started with my sister, who was then three years old.  She would have conversations, full on conversations, with someone who wasn't there.  At first my parents thought she had an imaginary friend.  Then one day, my bio-sister described the little boy who she claimed to be talking to.  He resembled no one in our family's acquaintance and what really threw my mom was how my sister described his clothes.  My sister had described him as wearing the knickerbockers/short pants that young boys wore through the 20s and 30s.  How would a three year old (in 1980) know the word knickerbockers?

Around that time, things got a little weirder.  My bio-mom is a long-time smoker.  She had ashtrays in every room, placed beside the spots where she normally sat.  She had several spares in a cupboard in the kitchen.  Right around Christmas, my mom's ashtrays started disappearing.  She would sit down in her favourite spot in the living room or the parlour, would light a cigarette, and would look for an ashtray that was normally on the table beside her, only to find the side table bare.  She would have to go to the kitchen to get one of the spares from the cupboard.  Often, she found the missing ashtray in the cupboard.  It was an upper cupboard, that I couldn't reach, and my bio-dad at that time was working out of town on a regular basis.  How had it gotten there?  Eventually, the ashtrays would move even after she set them down, or so she claimed.  She would get one out of the kitchen, set it down beside her, light up, and then settle in to read or watch tv, and when she needed the ashtray it would be on the other side of the room. 

What or whoever had a problem with my mom smoking also had a thing for my toys.  Every night before bed I had to put my barbies and toy dishes away in my closet.  I started getting into trouble for pulling my toys out in the middle of the night, because they would be scattered all over the floor in front of my closet in the morning.  I swear I wasn't getting out of bed at night (my room had an old-fashioned linolium floor and I was scared of how the pattern looked in the dark.  I kept my feet carefully tucked under the covers all night), and because my parents had to go through my room to get to the bathroom, they would have noticed my toys being left out after bedtime.  They were being scattered after midnight and before I would get up in the morning. 

Then, at Easter that year, the Easter Bunny brought my siblings and I a swing-set for the back yard.  It was not uncommon to see one of the three swings moving while the others were still when there was no one near the swing set.  And there were times when two of the three swings were swaying in the wind, and one would be perfectly still, as if someone was sitting on it. 

We moved out of that house about a year after we moved in.  I don't remember much of the discussion about why we were moving, we just did.  I can tell you, that in the new-to-us house we moved to, my bio-sister didn't have conversations with her little friend any more.  She said he wasn't there.  And my mom never had any issues with her ashtrays moving, and my toys stayed put at night.  And the all the swings swayed in the wind. 

Not really scary, just my bio-family's encounter with a mischevious little ghostie.  :)  Do you have any ghostie encounters to share?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Snapshot: Lazy Day

Howdy Humble Readers...

Today we are very, very sluggish around the hobbit hole. 

If you scroll down to last night's post, you'll note that I was very excited about the fact that Ginny and Pippin were both asleep, in the same room, before 9pm.  We've had a few good nights in the past week, so I was beginning to get comfortable.  Ha-ha on me!

I went to bed around 11:30 and Pippin was awake and squawking at 1:45am.  He ate a bit and then decided it was playtime.  He finally fell asleep again sometime after 2:30, but by then I was WIDE awake.  I dozed off on the couch sometime around 4am.  My Beloved brought the wee little mister to me at about 5 because he was up and grumping loudly again.  He ate a little bit again and then wanted to play again.  He finally fell asleep just before 7. 

I was in my pyjamas until noon.  The bed still isn't made, dishwasher hasn't been emptied, and there are dirty dishes in the sink.  I certainly haven't started on my usual Monday to dos.  Blah...

Ginny is napping now, and so is Pip, so I'm going to grab a snack and then catch a few zzzzs.

This was posted as a part of PAIL Bloggers Monday Snap Shot.  Click over and check out what everyone else is sharing today!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat: Cozy Night At Home

Good Evening Humble Readers!


Well, the wee-lings are both asleep (in the same room, might I add!  And it's not even 9pm!), my Beloved is on his computer, working on his CGA course, and I am here... snuggled up on the couch with my fuzzy blanket and my computer.  It's a nice feeling. 


Now that I'm getting back into my blogging routine, I'm back to joining in with Carla's Sunday Night Chit Chat.  Please click over and check out what everyone else is chatting about tonight...


A Breakthrough! 
Ginny using a spoon the right way!  I was beginning to think
that she would end up trying to eat everything (even soup) with
her fingers right up until Kindergarten. 
She ate 2/3 of her dinner with her spoon, and ate almost all her
breakfast today unassisted!
What I'm Reading - Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling.  I'm liking it, but because I'm not reading it as steadily as I would like, I'm having a bit of difficulty remembering all the characters, because there are quite a few.  Obviously, it's very different from the Harry Potter books, but it's a good read so far.


Watching - My new Sunday night favourites... Call the Midwife and Upstairs Downstairs on PBS.  Both are excellent British dramas, and they're helping to get me through until Downton starts again in January. 


Listening to - My Beloved making himself hot chocolate.  It's become one of his nightly habits. 


Cooking/Baking - Well, on paper tonight's dinner sounded like a good idea.  Pork loin roast, stuffed with goat cheese, bacon, spinach, onion, and sundried tomato, the whole thing wrapped in bacon.  Served with mashed taters, roasted acorn squash, and yorkshire puddings.  For me, it was too much bacon.  And the flavours were all competeing with each other rather than working together, they seemed to fight against each other.  Looking forward to tomorrow's dinner... undone stuffed pepper casserole. 


Happy you accomplished this week - Finished up my Christmas shopping for the wee-lings.  Woo-hoo!  I still have stocking stuffers of course, but that's mostly going to be done in December.  Also got Ginny's birthday invited printed.  Just have to get them in the mail tomorrow. 


Looking forward to next week - Crafting with the girls on Monday, and of course seeing Ginny in her Halloween costume on Wednesday!


Thankful for today - That we have a roof over our heads and food to feed our family.  That I have a family to worry about and plan for.  That it is quiet and peaceful here right now. 


Are you located in an are that's supposed to be affected by Hurricane Sandy? - No, but we are dealing with an early onset of winter here in the Shire.  The snow that fell last week isn't going anywhere soon, and Ginny will have to be bundled up to the gills on Halloween for her little go-round of trick or treating. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Foodie Fridays: Comfort Food!

Hey Humble Readers!

I've been wanting to resurrect my Foodie Fridays for ages now, but through the summer and early fall, one thing and another has gotten in the way.  Well, no longer!  And today I'm bringing you a mash-up of two great comfort foods.  Meatloaf and a cheeseburger!

But first, I need to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a wee hobbit who didn't like bacon.  The smell, the mess, the taste.  Nothing about bacon appealed to her.  She would avoid being home when bacon was being cooked.  She would get upset if someone mistakenly brought her a sandwich with bacon on it.  As she grew up, she grew to be able to accept bacon in certain foods.  In perogies?  Ok.  Crumbled on top of a loaded baked potato?  I guess so.  Fake-o bacon bits on a salad?  If I must.  But then, late in her 37th year, suddenly someone turned on the bacon switch in her brain.  All of a sudden, bacon didn't seem like such a bad thing.  The salty, crispy goodness began to call to her... mock her... laugh at her for all the years that she avoided contact.  She was still picky about it.  It must be good quality bacon.  It must be cooked crispy.  And it will likely never be eaten with breakfast.  But bacon had wormed its way into her heart, and there was no looking back.  And the not-so-wee hobbit and bacon lived happily ever after.

Why did I tell you this story?  Because THIS RECIPE WOULD BE SO MUCH BETTER WITH BACON!  When I first made it, I didn't even consider adding bacon to it, but I'm telling you now... make it with bacon, top it with bacon.  Bacon, bacon, bacon!

Cheeseburger Meatloaft

1.5lb lean ground beef (or your ground meat of choice)
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
1/3 cup ketchup, chili sauce, or steak sauce
1/4 cup mustard
1 egg
1/2-3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp grill seasoning (like Montreal steak spice)
1 1/2 cups diced dill pickles, divided
1-2 diced tomatoes
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk (don't use skim)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 tbsp mustard

Preheat oven to 375F.  In a large bowl, combine ground beef, soup mix, ketchup, mustard, egg, bread crumbs, grill seasoning, and 1/2 cup of the diced dill pickles.  Get in there and use your hands (just remember to remove your rings).  Once the mix is thoroughly combined, form it into a loaf shape shape and place on a well greased baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.  Use a meat thermometer to ensure that you have gotten to at least 160 in the center.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting.  While the meatloaf is baking, melt butter in a medium sized skillet.  Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour.  Allow the flour to cook out for a minute or two.  Slowly add milk, whisking constantly as it thickens.  Once it's thickened, you can always add a touch more milk to thin it if needed.  Melt in cheese and stir in the mustard. 

Slice up the meatloaf (as best you can.  Somtimes it can be uncooperative like in the picture below) and top with cheese sauce, pickles and tomatoes.  Serve with mashed taters (with horseradish and sour cream if you're adventurous) and steamed veggies. 

If you try it, please let me know what you think.  Oh, and MAKE SURE TO TOP IT WITH SOME CRISPY BACON BITS!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Random Parenting Ponderings

Hey Humble Readers...

I hope you're all well, cozy in your homes.  It snowed here in the Shire for more than 24 hours and we are hanging out at around -5C for a daytime high.  I finally caved yesterday and turned on the furnace.  Last year I made it until November 5th.  *sigh*  Oh well... at least we have a furnace to turn on, right?

So, I've had some parenting stuff wander through my head recently, and I'm wondering where you all stand on these things.

Potty Training - When did the word training become verboten?  Bathroom education... toilet learning... heck I've even read the term 'personal waste management' used.  Why is 'training' a bad word?  We hire personal trainers, train for marathons, and we even play games to train our brains to keep them sharp.  Why is it wrong to call learning to use the toilet potty training?  It really is training... Ginny is having to train her brain to recognize the messages her body is sending.  Is this just a case of political correctness run amok, or am I completely missing the boat?

Sleep - I hesitate to bring this up, simply because I know we have gotten off sooooooo easy in this department.  Many of my friends have gone for months, even years without a complete night's sleep on account of wee-lings that won't sleep when the rest of the world does.  We have a situation with two wee-lings who go to bed at different times, in the same room.  Ginny goes to bed at 7:30pm and Pippin is adjusting to sleeping through the night without his 11pm feeding.  It's time for him to be sleeping in the nursery all night rather than starting the night in the living room and then being moved to his crib much later.  Ginny is a good sleeper, but she's a light sleeper, and I don't want to wreck her great sleep routine by introducing a squawking little man into the situation.  How do those of you with twins or more than one wee-ling handle them sleeping in the same room?  Any advice to share?

Ginny's Birthday - Our wee sweet girl will be two sooner rather than I care to admit, and I'm having some difficulties with my plans for her birthday party.  First, I decided back in the summer that I wanted to do a "Build Her Library" birthday party (using library cards as invitations, and encouraging her guests to bring books rather than toys because her birthday is so close to Christmas).  My MIL has questioned this idea whenever I bring it up, implying that Ginny is too young to be given a lot of 'nice' storybooks.  Yes, Ginny has recently been hard on some of her books, loving them to death as some little ones do with their stuffies or blankies.  But she so loves having stories read to her, and I want to increase the variety of stories she has to choose from.  Second, I'm struggling with who to invite to the party.  Ginny only has one real little friend, from church.  I want to invite the aunts and uncles, but I don't want it to seem like a gift grab kind of situation.  A second birthday doesn't strike me as much of a milestone birthday as the first... or rather I'm afraid they won't see it as such.  I want her to have a nice celebration of her, but I don't want anyone to feel obligated.  Does that make any sense at all?? 

I have other things rattling around in my brain, but I think I'll stop here for now.  Looking forward to hearing your input... :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Series of Unfortunate Events

Hey Humble Readers...

Wow... what a weekend.  (And I don't mean that in a good way.)

Keep in mind that while all of the following was happening, I was dealing with AF.  Cramping and grumpies and everything.

Flashback to Thursday... I got my computer back after a ridiculous saga with the repair shop.  The internet seems to be running a bit slower, but I chalk that up to our ISP.  Then I go to do an internet search.  Joke is on me... there's still a redirect virus on my computer.  GAH!  After much fuming and saying nasty things, I decide to leave it for now.  It's only affecting my computer when I use, and since I prefer anyway, it's not bothering me all that much.  I DO NOT want to deal with the same yah hoos at the shop we were dealing with, and we just don't have the money to take it to another shop right now.  (I did, however, flame them on Yelp)

Late Thursday afternoon, I ended up with a doozy of a migraine.  Literally, I stood up and felt like I was hit in the head with a sledge hammer.  Ended wasting the rest of the day trying to not throw up.  Fun times.

Friday started out ok.  The headache was down to a dull roar.  Until I had a major IBS flare.  I spent the afternoon running to the bathroom.  Oh joy. 

Then, as I was putting Pippin to bed that night I felt a twinge in my shoulder.  When I woke up Saturday morning, I could barely lift my arm.  I'm so grateful it didn't happen on a weekday, because I'm not sure how I would have managed to look after the Wee-lings on my own.  I couldn't even manage to sit through church on Sunday because holding a squirming Pip was too much for my arm.

Other than a few little errands, I spent the weekend alternately applying ice and heat to my shoulder.  Today it's feeling mostly better, just a bit of an ache when I lift up my wee little mister. 

And that is why, Humble Readers, I haven't been around.  But I swear, I am back again now, and I'm going to get caught up with the lot of you.  I have posts rattling around in my brain to share, and I want to see what you all have been up to. 

How's that for a 'the dog ate my homework' kind of rambling excuse?  :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hobbit-ish Potpurri: Back In Action

Howdy Humble Readers!

I'm baaaaaack!

Beauregard the computer was finally returned to me last night, after I had to go into the computer store/repair shop and raise holy heck, and then had to call to speak with the manager.  Needless to say, I won't be going back there again and I'm going to make sure that everyone I know hears about their crappy customer service.  Three and a half weeks for a virus clean up was ridiculous!

During my absence from the blogosphere, the Shire received its first snowfall of the year.  Yeah, it was earlier than any of us would have liked, but considering how easy we had it last winter, I'm not surprised.  Thankfully, it didn't stick around and we're back to seasonal temps for the moment.  It is forecasted to get pretty chilly this weekend (daytime highs of around freezing), but so long as the snow stays away until after Halloween, I'll try to be ok with things.

One thing that is always a battle at this time of year is when to turn on the furnace.  I confess, I'm a miser when it comes to the utility bills, and the longer we can go without running the furnace the happier I am.  Not to mention the noise... living in a small condo with its own forced air furnace means that you hear all the furnace noises.  The longer I can go without that aggravation is a victory.  I'm hoping to get through to the end of the month before I have to turn it on, so that means we are bundling up a bit more in the house.  Despite my hobbit-ish tendencies, I'm wearing socks on a regular basis, we're all wearing more sweaters or long sleeved shirts, and Ginny has an extra blanket on her bed. 

I've gotten a really good start on my Christmas shopping (thanks in large part to a bogo sale at Toys R Us).  The wee-lings are almost done and I actually have some really good ideas for what to get my Beloved this year.  He's normally so hard to buy for.  Now I just need to figure out my homemade gifts for the people at my Beloved's office. 

My Beloved has had a couple of job interviews in the past few weeks, but no good results.  His experiences at those interviews solidified our conviction that the only way doors are going to open for him is if he gets his accounting designation.  So, we bit the bullet and he's now enrolled in the CGA program.  He needs to take 15 courses!  And he can only take one at a time. Yikes!  I'm in the process of trying to find out if there's any grants that he might qualify for to help with the cost.  We're taking this step on faith, in hopes that even just being enrolled will help move him up the queue for some of these job openings.  Who knows, maybe he'll get hired by a company who will help pay for his courses.

AF is here, and she's kicking my ass again.  I just keep hoping that things will go back to the way they were before.  After Ginny was born, and my cycle came back, things were pretty much the same as they had been for most of my 30s, cramps on cd1 and cd5 with a fairly moderate flow.  After Pip, things are much heavier, and cramps are non-stop from beginning to end.  They aren't like the cramps I had in my teens and 20s (needed rx muscle relaxers to help control them), but I'm living on ty.lenol to get through. 

Well, lunch time approaches, and I've got a little girl here who's saying she's 'hun-geee'.  I'm looking forward to getting caught up with you all.  Hopefully I'll get a chance to read some blogs this afternoon while my wee sweet girl naps. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Still Without A Computer

Hey Humble Readers,

Well, I'm still without my computer. The computer repair guys *STILL* haven't fixed up Beauregard. My Beloved stopped by there today and laid down the law. He told them that we expect it to be ready by 5pm tomorrow. They will have had it for 3 full weeks by then.

Hopefully, I'll be back real soon. Until then, take care of each other.

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