Monday, November 28, 2011

Bittersweet Thanksgiving

My in-laws invited us up to Iowa for Thanksgiving, which was really a blessing. This is the first time in 26 years that neither of our children were able to be with us for the holiday. Andy and Megan went to Indiana to be with Megan's parents, and Katie is in Shanghai for a semester abroad and internship. So it helped that we were able to spend the holiday with Jim's family. As usual we ate way too much, but everyone was happy and healthy and the weather was great. It even made it into the 60's on Thanksgiving Day, which for Iowa is saying something.

An added benefit of the visit was that we were able to take the Christmas presents up and drop them off, as well as bring ours back down here. So I can happily say that we are done shopping for Jim's side of the family. We also were able to bring back a chest of drawers that had belonged to Jim's great-grandmother. It has been in the family all this time, but the cousin who most recently had it no longer had a place for it. So it was offered up at the family reunion this summer, and we brought it back to Jim's dad. He very nicely refinished it and then gave it back to us! We are honored to have it, and now just need to find the perfect spot for it.

We have a lot to be thankful for this year. I am grateful for our wonderful families, my two super kids and daughter-in-law, and a husband who is also my best friend. My husband has a great business and I am having a blast writing and publishing books. Lots to be thankful for, indeed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

House History Seminar

Yesterday I attended a 2 hour workshop on researching house history. It was put on by the St. Louis Genealogical Society and the speaker was from the Festus-Crystal City area. I have to admit it was a little disheartening that the organization to which I belong did not apparently even consider me for this speaking engagement. Especially since they sell my researching house history book in their shop. And since I had told them I would do a workshop if they were ever interested in having one on this topic. Sigh...

But I have to say that the gal who gave the talk (who is also a member, I might add) did a really good job, and she raised some issues that I had not considered before. And she was really sweet about letting everyone know about my book. Which I then quickly pointed out was available through the STLGS. I wish the speaker was from St. Louis as I think she and I have a lot in common. I would love to tag along with her on some of her jobs. She has her own consulting company for house research as well as genealogy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Eyes Have It

Today was my annual eye exam. Everything went fine, but can I just say I hate having my eyes dilated. Especially when I am driving myself home afterwards. I don't care what they say, I don't think it is safe for people to drive after those drops go in. It was supposed to be cloudy today, which would have helped a lot. But as usual the forecasters were wrong and it was sunny and bright this morning.

Today they used the half percent formula instead of the one percent. The doctor said it would take about an hour and a half for my eyes to get back to normal. I will say that it was a bit easier to drive with these drops. I had placed their cheapo sunglasses behind my sunglasses, and that helped as well. But this picture is of my eye two hours after the drops went in. Evidently the eye drops work REALLY well on my eyes! It was several hours before I even felt comfortable to take the dog for a walk. Eye don't like it - eye really don't.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Kim's Cupcakes?

Tonight my niece and I took a cupcake decorating class at the Webster Groves Recreation Center. There were 10 of us in the room, which was about 4 too many for the space. It was crowded and hard to pass the decorating materials around. Added to that was the Zumba class going on in the next room, and that made it hard to hear.

The instructor did her best with the conditions she faced. She had prepared chocolate, vanilla, and spice cupcakes ahead of time. Then she made vanilla, chocolate and caramel frostings as well as several frostings with a more substantive base for making colored additions to our cupcakes. And lastly we worked with fondant, dying it and shaping it into roses.

As I looked at all the tools of the trade she had brought along for us to try, I realized that this would be a fairly expensive hobby to get into. It kind of reminded me of scrapbooking and all the stuff I have in drawers upstairs. And I could also see that cupcake decorating takes a lot of practice if you want to do it well. So I think that this is not something I will jump right into. DC Cupcakes has nothing to worry about. It was fun to be out with my niece for a couple of hours though. We rarely get to do that without either my sister or my great-nieces being along.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

No Trivial Matter

My friend invited Jim and me to be at her table for the Mother to Mother trivia night. The Mother to Mother program is a support group for women suffering from post partum adjustment disorder. I am not very good at trivia, but I am a winner when it comes to trivia table snacks, so that should count for something. Armed with margaritas, spinach artichoke dip and peanut butter bars, we headed to the Richmond Heights Community Center. In addition to my friend and her husband, the table consisted of the two ladies who live next door to them, and a friend of Diane's along with her friend, the Ringer. Ringer knew the answer to every question in 6 of the 8 categories. The exceptions were "Name that tune", where you had to name the song and the artist, and "Identify the candy bar", which consisted of photos of 10 different candy bars on a sheet of paper. The song selections were pathetic, but I think we still got 7 points there. The candy bars were really tough since since they had similarities to more than one candy bar. For example what I thought was a Heath Bar was actually the Skor candy bar. We only got three of the candy bars correct, but everyone else seemed to struggle with them as well.

At the end of the evening we came in first place, beating the second place team by 1 measly point. Unbelievable...For our wisdom and skill (ha, ha) we were awarded $200. As a group we decided to donate the money back to the organization. And we also decided to come back next year to defend our title!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fall Back

Daylight savings time finally ended over the weekend, and it was time to Fall Back - our reminder to turn the clocks back one hour. Even though technically we gain an extra hour, my body never adjusts right away. It always takes about a week to get back in the time groove.

Our weather has been so pleasant that summer just doesn't want to let go of my garden. Here my Knock Off Roses blissfully bloom alongside the maple tree, which is exploding in fall color. My potted annuals are still blooming as well, so I am trying to enjoy all the colors before the first freeze takes us to the gray, denuded color palette of early winter.

We have two boxes of spring bulbs that Jim picked up somewhere a couple of years ago. I think I'll try to finally get them in the ground. Who knows if they are still any good, but I figure the ones that survived sitting in a box a couple of years will probably be nice bloomers. If the squirrels don't get them first!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Fall Drive

Jim and I went out for a fall drive yesterday hoping to catch the last of the fall color. Since we were out of town the past two weekends we sort of missed the peak season. We took Jim's fun little sports car, put the top down and turned the heat up, and away we went. Jim knows a lot of great back roads due to his motorcycle riding, so we headed out west towards Labadie. We had lunch at the Hawthorne Inn, and I have to say I just wanted to bottle our waitress. She was the most bubbly little thing! I ordered a french dip sandwich, and it came with sweet potato fries. Oh my gosh! Probably the best french dip I have ever had, and the fries were yummy as well. And I felt less guilty about eating them since they were sweet potatoes. Ha!

We headed back down the road and ended up at Klondike Park. I had no idea this park even existed. The 250 acre park is on the site of an old silica sand quarry. The Katy Trail ties into it so they have biking and walking paths all throughout the park. There was a boy scout troop camping out, so they
were having a great time riding their bikes along the trails. A family was taking their own portrait along one of the trails we walked, while on another we came upon a guy down on one knee popping the question to his gal. Since a professional photographer was there, I'm not sure how spontaneous it was but it was sweet nonetheless.

It was a great day for a drive, and nice to spend the afternoon alone with my own groom. No kids, no dog, just the two of us. Fun!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Folly Beach, South Carolina

Last week we were down in South Carolina on vacation, staying at a lovely 3 bedroom, 3 bath townhouse located at Folly Beach. We had actually planned to go there the first week of October, but when Andy called and said he would be in St. Louis the first weekend we changed our plans so that we could see him. We hadn't been with him and Megan since Christmas, and that was only for one day. The change ended up having consequences as our friends who were coming with us could only come for part of the week at the end of October, my sister fell and broke her shoulder in 3 places and I wasn't here for her surgery, and the Cardinals ended up in the World Series and Jim had a ticket to game 7.

But we didn't know all those things when we made the plans back in August. So Jim and I had the place to ourselves the first few days. The townhouse overlooks a wetlands area and the Folly River. It was a short walk into town for shopping and restaurants, as well as the Atlantic Ocean Beach.

The owner of the townhouse provided bicycles, so the first day we road around the island. On Tuesday we drove down to Savannah, Georgia which is about a 2 hour drive. We took the trolley tour around the old town area since you had on and off privileges. We definitely could have used more time here. On our way back to Folly Beach we stopped at Hilton Head, South Carolina. Neither of us was too impressed with this island. We ate at a restaurant at the western edge of the island so we could see the sunset. The sand fleas were biting so bad that we had to eat indoors.

Our friend Kathy arrived on Wednesday afternoon. We showed her around Folly Beach and had supper in town before heading home to watch the Cardinals play. On Thursday we toured the Magnolia House and Gardens, a beautiful plantation. Then we picked up Kathy's husband Paul at the airport. We went to a sport's bar and, I kid you not, they had skate boarding on all the television sets instead of the World Series. They did begrudgingly change one of the sets for us. Since a really crappy band was setting up, we ate quickly and went back to the townhouse to watch amazing game 6. I have to say that it sucked to be on eastern time for the games! Late nights...

On Friday we took a boat tour of Folly River and Morris Island, which is the closest you can get to the 6th oldest lighthouse in America. The day was sunny but very windy and a little cool. The island was desolate and we were the only ones there. The ride back was pleasant since we were no longer riding into the wind, and the dolphins played around the boat. That was very cool.
Saturday we spent the day looking around Charleston, and we did tour an old mansion as well. Then on Sunday we went back to Charleston and did the tour of Fort Sumter, which is where the first shot of the Civil War was fired. It was interesting, but would have been better had it not been so darn windy.

We came back home Sunday night, though we didn't get back to our house until 12:30 a.m. All in all, it was another fun vacation shared with good friends.