Category Archives: family matters

popcorn euphoria

We all know that there is precious little good news to share in this world.  So it is with great joy and satisfaction that I can share with you the following.  This little article was in “The Week”, April 13, 2012 issue:

“The Health Benefits of Popcorn”

“Popcorn offers more than crunch and empty calories.  A new study shows that the snack food is more nutritious than fruits and vegetables in some respects-provided you don’t slather it with butter and salt.  Researchers at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania ran test on several different popcorn brands and found  that the hulls-the tough fragments that can get stuck in your teeth-contained surprisingly high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols, which have been found to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.  A serving of popcorn provides more than twice the polyphenols as a similar serving of most fruits and vegetables, and because it contains little water, popcorn’s nutritional benefits are more highly concentrated.  As a whole grain, popcorn also boasts higher concentrations of fiber than cereals or breads do.  ‘Popcorn may the be the perfect snack food’ study author Joe Vinson tells ScienceDaily.com, and the hull fragments in particular are ‘nutritional gold nuggets.’  When air-popped, the snack contains far fewer calories than snacks like chips or trail mix.  Popcorn does, however, lack the important vitamins and minerals that are packed into foods like broccoli and bananas.”

You do realize what this means in Master Bliss’ and my world, right?  It means that our almost nightly indulgence of this:

(i just need to add a multi-vitamin and i am all set)

is not only making us insanely happy (we are simple people, what can I say?) but we have been inadvertently stuffing ourselves full of antioxidants in the process.  However, this does not explain why I was sick with a bad cold all this past week but nonetheless it is great news to know that we are noshing on such beneficial goodness.  Guilt free eating–I love it.  Now I must find conclusive and supportive evidence that proves Dirty Bastard beer promotes weight loss (I know it doesn’t…and it has been eliminated from the nightly routine for some time now.  Oh the sadness).

Will knowing this about popcorn persuade you to eat it more…and often?

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Filed under family matters, home sweet home

introductions

vintagefrenchchic:

I would like to make an introduction. Please meet my friend, Lisa, through this post I have reblogged. She is a new voice in the world of blogging and one that should be heard.

Lisa and I go back to Middle School where we became best friends in 8th grade. We had a blast together, having many of the same classes and shared experiences. Graduation took us in different directions but she always stayed in my heart. Many years after High School we reconnected and have enjoyed our friendship anew–through marriages, children, living abroad (her—my life is the less exciting one), traveling, etc. but we have done so almost entirely through letters and emails. We have had the rare privilege of visiting in person but only every few years or so. But it doesn’t seem to matter…the time and space…because we continue to share a special bond.

A few years ago, when she was still living in Bermuda, Facebook became the new way of “keeping in touch”. She took to it like a duck to water…me, not so much. I trepidatiously went the blogging route instead. Well, now, she has too…although she is still proudly a FB junkie. : )

The subject of her blog will resonate with many women who are in their child-bearing years because Lisa is choosing to write–to share–her experiences with infertility. She has been blessed with one child and is in the process of trying to conceive again. Given the example of her writing above, I believe she is going to be an honest and poignant voice about her experiences…and yet, through it all, you will not miss her humor, wit and passion for life.
Welcome to blogging, my friend. Enjoy the ride.

~~Mistress Bliss~~

PS   If you don’t think we have a connection, then how do you explain we just posted to our respective blogs at the exact same time?  Hmmm???  Tell me.

Originally posted on Black Panty Salvation:


I have a spreadsheet of baby names carefully collected and culled through over many years.  Kaher is on my list and this is why:

Several years ago I was on flight bound for San Francisco and my seat partner was a young boy, maybe 10 or 11 years old.  While rarely looking up from his Nintendo DS (or some gadget, insert curmudgeonly shoulder shrug here), he requested of me the following information:

What is your name?

Lisa.  What is yours?

Kaher.  Do you drink beer?

Yes, sometimes.

I will not drink beer.  Drinking beer is bad.

Yes, sometimes.

Do you have a husband?

I have a boyfriend.

You should get married.  I will get married.

How do you know?

Because you’re supposed to get married and have children. *rolls eyes*

He peppers his quiz with pointers on the game he’s playing, something about driving really fast and collecting more and more…

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why i decided not to see the “hunger games”

The Hunger Games movie poster

(source)

It is not a secret…you all know that I read the “Hunger Games” trilogy.  The books were a difficult “sell” for me because the only thing I knew about them was the carnage of 24 young people killing each other in an arena as spectator sport.  The last thing I wanted were these type of images floating around in my head or haunting my dreams at night.  I started book one last Fall, got to about page 50 and put it down…for months.  Finally, with all the hype of the movie, and being influenced by people I respect, I picked it up again.  This time I flew through both the “Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire” while the third book, “Mocking Jay”, was at best skimmed (out of boredom, redundancy and a real turn in the violence–or maybe I had just had enough of the violence in general?).

I enjoyed the story to a point.  It was adventurous.  The protagonist was a female who had amazing survival skills but a conflicted mind and heart.  There is a love story/triangle.  There is the ever-present theme of good vs. evil.  The challenge of living with deprivation.  The determination to rise above and conquer.  Compelling stuff.  But then there is the killing.

At the heart of it, I “get” the point.  I don’t think Suzanne Collins set out to write a novel that endorses or encourages killing.  The way the “games” are presented is psychologically interesting.  They are abhorred by the suppressed masses (it is their children that are being sent to the slaughter) but indulged by the Capitol (who instituted the games decades earlier as a “reminder” of a previous rebellion and the consequences that ensued) as sport and fun.  The analogies the writer is making between what is “absurd!” and “who would ever do a thing like this?”  in the reality television of the future and what is presented as “reality” television today, can not be missed.  Since there seems to be no limit to what is aired as “reality” TV today, could we be just a slight breadth away from the next “level”?  “Crazy!” you say.  Really?  A couple of centuries ago this very form of entertainment took place in Roman arenas through gladiator games and the killing of Christians and others.  And today?  The images we see on the news of people being slaughtered in the “game” of war?  Or how about the video games we allow our children to play that are so graphically violent they are the same type of videos being used to train soldiers for combat in order to desensitize them to killing?  Where do we draw the line?

And yet, I still read them, right?  So why not see the movie?  Because as a reader my mind is a filter.  While reading the parts in the arena, I was able to shut out how people died…my mind could eclipse the event and move on.  However, I know that if I were to see these same scenes in a movie, I would not be able to do this.  And knowing how Hollywood works, well, I can only imagine how “real” it can look and how “loud” the music and action  might be during these horrendous scenes.  I have read reviews of the movie.  One thing that has been mentioned a couple of times is how reviewers are not sure how a PG-13 rating was achieved due to the content.  The following is from our subscription news magazine, “The Week”:

“This highly anticipated adaptation is ‘a far more serious movie than the marketing and mainstream mania have led us to believe’ said Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News…the film is ‘better and scarier than its source book’ because it ‘aims an angry eye’ at ‘our bloodthirsty, watch-anything-and-cheer culture.’”

This review really gave me pause and  validated what I already was concluding.  Then I remembered to check the critical review of it at www.kids-in-mind.com.  I often check the reviews here before we watch anything.  If you have not visited this site, especially if you have children, I encourage you to do so…often.  They rate a film according to the following content: sex/nudity, violence and language.  Each category is assigned a number on the scale of 1 to 10…10 being the highest.  While “The Hunger Games” rates low for sex/nudity (3) and language (3), it rates as a 7 for violence and gore.  I know from previous movie ratings they have done, this is too high for me.  In comparison, the “Bourne Identity”, which is about my max on violence (in fact, I saw the first one in the theater and was emotionally whacked afterwards…the other two movies were watched on DVD so we could fast forward or skip icky stuff), is rated as a 5.  Now how many people are going to take their 12-year-old to a Bourne movie (probably more than I think)?  And yet, “The Hunger Games” is marketed toward the youth…why wouldn’t a parent feel it is OK?  Thank you, Hollywood.

Some decisions are tough calls and some are no brainers–the decision not to see the “Hunger Games” fell somewhere in between.  But I feel I have made the right one for me.

What are your thoughts about the “Hunger Games”…book or movie?

~~Mistress Bliss~~

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only the good things

What a week!  Not that it was overly crazy or busy but it just felt like there were some great accomplishments–except for my dusting. This post is to reflect on the positives that happened this week.

First up…I take great pride in the smallest of achievements.  When this loaf of bread came out of the oven a few days ago, it was deemed “the best loaf ever”.

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I believe this is due to my personal discovery of “bread flour”.  Who knew?  I have experimented for a couple of months with this recipe and my results would always vary.  But now I have found King Arthur’s Unbleached Bread Flour and I am happy.  Better rising, lighter taste = yumminess.  I reserve my bread eating for mornings  reasoning that I should burn off the calories through the day.  Lately I have added Red Grapefruit and an occasional egg to my breakfast routine.  I am in LOVE with Red Grapefruit.

My shoes arrived for the wedding.  While most of my outfit will be vintage/pre-owned (at least that is the plan–the dress is currently at the tailor’s who is supposed to create more room through the hips of my “wiggle” dress**.  “Wiggling” down the aisle is not the “look” I want to achieve as mother of the bride), I have used the wedding as reason to finally replace my nude peep toe pumps.  I gave my gorgeous pair away a few months ago because I could no longer wear the heel height with comfort.  I was very happy to have found these at Clarks online:

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They aren’t quite as dressy as I would like but they are patent leather so I felt that was a good look for an evening wedding.  And I really wanted something I would be able to wear again.  With these shoes I am still maxing out the heel height (for moi) but I have had great success with Clarks in the past and hope these will prove to be a smart addition to my shoe wardrobe.

And my necklace came too.  I found this on Etsy.  Belle Fille’s colors for the wedding are aqua and tangerine (reflecting her love of island colors since living in the Dominican Republic).  I am wearing these lovely colors through my accessories.

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I will be pinning this brooch to the necklace to add the splash of “tangerine”.  Any more orange than that would not be a good thing on Mistress Bliss.

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Now this may come as a shock but I do not own an evening bag to match my outfit.  I have a great Mary Frances bag that I have owned for years but the colors will not suit with this event.  See:

Image

I have my eye on another Mary Frances* (I will bet you could figure out which one on her website) and a couple of vintage purses I am watching on Etsy.  When I decide on one, it will be my only justifiable handbag purchase for the year.  To be honest, I have done really good with sticking to my promise not to buy any more for personal use in 2012.  In fact, I am having fun using the ones I already own.

We also found the bridesmaids dresses.  The girls all met together at the store where we found Belle Fille’s dress to try different ones on.  We all fell in love with the beautiful, subtlety iridescent, aquamarine silk that was both vintage inspired and flattering on all the girls but the price tag was not ($300+).  Then a strapless chiffon was found that Belle Fille fell in love with…flowy and knee-length in a much better price range.  But again! because of the wedding being so close, “rush” fees need to be added, plus tax, plus possible alterations taking the modest priced dress up to $200.  We held off ordering so we could use time through this weekend to possibly find a better deal (like we did with her wedding dress).  I hit every store I could think of online…both bridal ones and department stores.  I searched Etsy and Ebay for “lots” of dresses being sold by previous brides.  My searches weren’t yielding any great results until I found a listing on Ebay for four Alfred Angelo bridesmaids dresses in the color “pool” and in the three sizes we need…worn once, no alterations, no spills, no tears, no stains (I asked) for $60 a piece.  I was excited but wasn’t so sure that Belle Fille would be.  The style was almost identical to the one she liked at the store but she had already expressed her hesitancy to buy online–not that I blamed her.  My only other “good feeling” about these dresses on Ebay was that they were all from the same wedding so they would be from the same dye lot.  I showed them to her yesterday morning when she came over.  To my surprise she got really excited.  I found out a formal wear store in our little town carried the Alfred Angelo brand so we scampered up there to check out the dress and the color.  They had the dress there!  It was in a different color but they had other dresses in “pool” so we could really see what it looks like.  It is a wonderful, dreamy blue-ish aqua (the sales person described it as “Tiffany Blue”).   Belle Fille decided we should go for the Ebay deal.  We called the three bridesmaids for their sizes (to make sure) and get their OK with the price— everyone was on board.  Should they even need a few adjustments, price wise they are coming out way ahead than if we had purchased new through a store.  We should have them by middle of next week so even if we have made a horrible mistake (let us hope not) there will still be time to do something different (and try to frantically re-sell the dresses–thank you prom/wedding season)–albeit not much time.  Phew!  What a rush!

After checking out the dress sample we headed to meet my parents for lunch at the wonderful Chinn Chinns in Mattawan, Michigan.  The best Asian bistro EVER.  It really is my favorite restaurant in about a 150 mile radius.  Anytime we have gone, it is packed…lunchtime was no exception.  I have told my parents about it a hundred times but it has never worked out for us to go when they have visited.  They loved it too…my dad was particularly impressed.  Belle Fille was able to catch them up on the wedding plans and show them some pictures.  Afterwards we all went to Goodwill and another thrift store (I found a fabulous, vintage, quilted hot pink robe for Belle Fille–she loved it–for $10…sound familiar?).  We ended our brief visit with them at Starbucks over a pot of French press.  We won’t see them again until the wedding (unless I haul my butt down to where my brother lives tomorrow–which probably won’t happen).

After Starbucks we went to our appointment about the wedding cake.  Have you priced wedding cakes lately?  To quote the famed Faux Fuchsia…they are ‘spensive.  I priced a few before calling our dear friend who is known to make great cake.  I wasn’t sure she was still doing it because she had some arm/wrist issues a couple of years ago that were making it difficult for her to decorate cakes.  Thankfully she has recovered from that and is back in business.  When I called her earlier in the week to make the appointment we chatted for a while, catching up with each other’s lives.  She had heard about Belle Fille getting married and was more than happy to do a cake for her…for free–as a gift.  I started crying (I am crying now as I type this).  I told her there is no way I could accept that–especially after pricing cakes that can feed 300 people.  She insisted she will not take payment.  I insisted she must let us do something…pay for materials, ingredients, something!  NON!  She would not hear of it.  Well, after meeting with her and deciding on a design/plan of action, she did agree that we can buy the flowers for decorating the cake.  Merci!!!  Little does she know that Master Bliss and I have our own little plan to show our appreciation for her extreme generosity.  I love dear friends like her.  Which brings about another story of love and generosity (sorry, this post really wasn’t going to be a long one)…

…when I called my BFF/cousin with the news about Belle Fille she was so happy to hear about the wedding and immediately assured me they would be coming.  Belle Fille is special to her because it was largely due to being around petite Belle Fille at age six that changed my BFF/cousin’s husband’s mind about having children (good thing we didn’t wait for her to be a teen before first exposure ; ) ).  Soon after that fated visit they had their own precious little girl (who is now a teen) come into their lives (and who I love as much as BFF/cousin loves Belle Fille).  As we were excitedly talking about the where, when, whats of having a wedding, BFF/cousin enthusiastically blurts out, “Of course (my husband) can provide the DJ’ing.”.  I was dumb-founded.  I had totally forgotten that he does DJ’ing in their area…mostly for friends they know well.  And I forgot he does a bang up job of it–the perfect DJ!  But it is so far to come, hauling all their stuff from West Virginia!  I insisted on doing something to help with costs, she insisted on it being a gift.  The generosity, again, overwhelming.  (Sniff, sniff).  But never fear!  Mistress Bliss will get even…oh, she will…a plan is already in progress.

Pretty good week, huh?  But I never want a reader to think that my life is always rosy and wonderful.  I had plenty of negatives too:

Week peppered with headaches culminating into complete physical breakdown on Thursday.

Can’t find a part-time job and am really worried about how I will feel if/when I do start working again (due to health challenges).

Trying not to think about the debt we will have from the wedding.

Had a very serious “let’s get real talk” with Belle Fille…needed to be done but never fun.

Lost six blog subscribers in one week.  I don’t know why it depresses me but it does.

I have given up beer/alcohol at least until the wedding so I can lose weight–easy calories to cut. It worked for Janet.

Found out I must be allergic to “dust”ing.

BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.

So there you go!  I’m over here living a real life like everyone else…daily blessings mixed with stress.  But why focus on the negative?  Looking back on my week I prefer thinking about all the good things that happened.

~~Mistress Bliss~~

*  Were you able to pick out which bag I am eyeing at Mary Frances?

** Did you know that the “wiggle” dress got its name because it was designed to fit snugly enough around the hips and legs so that a woman has to walk with her legs pressed together to the knees?  Thus creating the “wiggle” as she walked.

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Filed under creative endeavors, family matters, home sweet home, Uncategorized, vintage finds

wedding bells ringing in my head

What a blur of a week.  Let me ask you this:  can one plan a wedding with eleven weeks notice that will include about 300 people?

Ummm…apparently one can.

My crazy week began last Saturday with an excited, emotionally charged phone call from ma belle fille announcing she was engaged!  Thankfully we were “prepared” emotionally for the news because her then boyfriend/now fiance called for “permission/blessing” to marry her the previous Tuesday evening (collective “awwwww!”).  So old fashioned…and sweet.  And a great way to score points with his future MIL.

On Monday I started the internet searches and phone calls for venues.  I wanted to be armed and ready with an exhaustive list knowing that getting a date in July or August would be tough on such short notice.  But this was very faulty thinking.  Because you see, Belle Fille et fiance decided to have it on May 12th.  May 12, 2012.  So Tuesday I started calling my list knowing I was wasting my time on a pipe dream.  Yet, crazily enough, I found three possibilities.  What happened to work in my favor is that May 12th is the last day of the Tulip Festival in Holland (where she is getting married) so these popular places were open because the locals would rather be out kicking up their wooden shoes than getting married.   I made appointments to visit all three on Thursday.

Wednesday we drove to Detroit to pick up Belle Fille at the airport.  Afterwards we celebrated her engagement at our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in Ann Arbor, MI (Palm Palace).  We presented her with her engagement gifts (all from Amazon.com):

The Wedding Planner & Organizer

Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Throwing A Fantastic Wedding On A Realistic Budget

Groomology: What Every (Smart) Groom Needs to Know Before the Wedding

She was tickled to get her planner and I was tickled to see her ring:

After our amazing meal we headed home.  Our second surprise was an intimate dinner planned at Grandma’s where we also invited a couple of close friends to join us for a light dinner and champagne.  Belle Fille loved it.  I loved the champagne.

Thursday we had our first venue visit at 10:00AM.  The place was very lovely and what appeals to me about it over the other two options is that they take care of everything in-house–catering, room set up, centerpieces, service, etc.  We can bring in our own DJ and cake.  The less I have to do the better.  Plus, the bride and groom get a complimentary hotel room at the site.

this is one half of the room

extra foyer area for mingling

The second place we visited is the home of the historic high school.  It was built in 1912  so you can imagine how I fell in love with this one…all the original wood work, vintage mouldings, great floors, glass block walls/floors.  If I was getting married, this is the one I would probably choose.  However, we would have to find catering, do our own decorating, rent table linens/chair covers/place settings–it all adds up quickly.  Plus all the work…eck.

loved this ceiling!

The third place (forgot to take pictures) was more modern, maybe a little smaller than we would like, but a viable option.  Again we would have to provide all the above mentioned amenities.   We were all feeling strongly about option one but sticker shocked Master Bliss wanted me to at least price out some caterers to see if it would be cheaper to do it that way.  I promised I would.

On the way home Belle Fille asked if we could stop at a Bridal shop downtown Holland.  We were all in the wedding spirit so we decided it would be fun.  I urged her to remember we are just looking, getting ideas.  We stepped into the elegant little store and were greeted by the sweetest older lady (I’ll call her Doris).  She is working in this store during her “retirement years” but previously had her own bridal shop for 30 years.  She was a doll.  When she asked about our date she was shocked it was so soon and sweetly explained that getting any of their dresses took at least 6-8 months once ordered.  However, she added that there were some dresses on sale in the back and we could check those out if we were willing to buy off the rack.  Did someone say SALE?  I told her we would happily start our shopping back there.

There were maybe 20-25 dresses to look through.  Belle Fille had a rough idea of what she wanted.  She pulled out one she liked in white.  I pulled out another couple of dresses in champagne and ivory explaining that she might as well try different colors to see which suited her complexion best.  Petite Doris hauled them all upstairs to a dressing room and then the fun began.

I helped Belle Fille struggle in the first white dress.  The entire process is both hard work and fall on your butt funny–well, at least I thought it was.  With the first dress on, she sashayed out to the “pedestal” (despite my warnings to Doris of the danger of putting this child on one) to see how she looked.  Keep in mind, Belle Fille is thin so almost anything she puts on is going to look good.  And this dress did but we all agreed it wasn’t her best look.  Off the pedestal and back to the dressing room.

The second one was the champagne colored one I had grabbed.  We struggled a bit with getting this one on and fastened up because of laced back closure design.  But once it was on her I thought it looked amazing…I didn’t say much but I thought much.  I could see that something on her face was thinking the same thing.   Once she got up on that pedestal–we knew.  It was the ONE.  She knew it was, I knew it was and even little Doris did.  Master Bliss perhaps didn’t but he nodded his approval.  And even though we “knew”, we didn’t think it could be that easy to find the perfect dress.  So she tried on a couple more….and then came back to “THE ONE”.  I had to lace that beauty back up again so we could see it one more time. Belle Fille didn’t want to take it off.  Yep.  It was and we were right.  We decided to put it on hold for 24hrs.  Why? Because one, I still wanted her to try my beautiful, perfectly preserved wedding dress before making a decision.  I knew she wasn’t crazy about this idea but I just felt we really needed to rule out its possibility of being used.  Second, I wanted her to go to at least one other store to see what was available by comparison, being the savvy shopper I am…I was even interested it shopping for a used one (for heaven’s sake, they are only worn once).  But as Belle Fille was changing, sweet Doris says, “Now remember that particular dress would only be $325.”  What?!  Both Master Bliss and my jaws dropped.  I said, “Doris, I thought the $650 was the sale price.” An honest assumption because most of the dresses in this shop started at the $1000 mark.  She said, “Oh no, not that one.  All those dresses are half off the original price but this one was marked down too because it is discontinued. Originally it would’ve been $1300.”  I turned to Master Bliss and said, “That dress is coming home today.”  He agreed.  We double checked with Belle Fille that she was confident this was the right one for her…she adamantly, excitedly nodded her head “YES!”.  We asked if she was OK with us buying it “today”…well there are no words to describe the insane, euphoric look on her face.  The dress was bought but in the end stayed at the store so we can return the next week for a fitting.  I am still in disbelief that we not only found her dress but stumbled on such an amazing deal.

Today I did some research on caterers and have decided we wouldn’t be saving money (at least not enough to make a substantial difference in money saved or time involved)  by hiring caterers, renting linens and place settings over just having venue #1 do it all for the same investment and fewer headaches.  So now the venue is secured as well.

Venue/catering

DJ

Dress

Ceremony location

Minister booked

all done in one week.  Belle Fille and her fiance are covering the cost of the photography, the future in-laws are doing the flowers (I think) so those items are out of my hands.  The invitations will probably be ordered within the next couple of days.  Can you believe so many things fell together so quickly?  I am so thankful.

Would you enjoy planning a wedding?  Did you enjoy planning yours?  or your child’s?  Trust me when I say, this is not my cup of tea.  But it is rewarding to see Belle Fille so happy.

~~Mistress Bliss~~

P.S.  (sniff, sniff) I will be putting my gorgeous, silk wedding gown in my etsy store.  I don’t know if I am sad to part with it or that it qualifies as “vintage”.

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suspected alien abductions and vegetarianism

Something weird has been going on around here.  I was sensing a change but thought it was just me and my wild imagination.  And then the other day my husband says, “You are sure becoming the domestic diva”. Huh? Moi?  I then knew the truth.   Alien abduction must have occurred in these here parts recently because who I am now is sure not who I was a few short months ago.   I am having trouble pinpointing the exact time or day it must have happened…but happen it did.  I have had symptoms.  Unexplained impulses and desires.   Like:

Wanting to know how to sew.

Desiring to crochet so badly I actually enlisted the help of my MIL (borderline insanity).

The need to create or die (trying).

Meal planning.

Grocery listing.

Troubling symptoms which should’ve alerted my husband that something was amiss.  That his dearly beloved might have been replaced with an eery, fake, substitute alien wife…or a Stepford!   But all he sees is…

…a domestic diva.

You know…whatever.  If an alien life form has taken over–so be it because she is saving us some money.

In all seriousness, something has snapped with me…almost like an “on” switch finally lit in my brain.  Maybe I can thank age and the supposed wisdom I am to acquire with it.  Maybe I can thank various blogs and reading.  All I know is that by taking a few extra minutes a week and looking through a cookbook, choosing four or five recipes and then shopping accordingly, has both saved us money and resulted in less food waste.  Win win.

And, may the world know that, I do not like grocery shopping.  I do not like cooking.  I don’t necessarily hate either but on my “fun to-do” list neither would be present in a perfect world.  But since I live in an incredibly imperfect one, I decided I needed to play the game in order to survive.

We live on a fixed income.  My husband is retired.  And besides some random extra income that does come in from time to time, we live primarily on his pension.  It is a good pension but fixed nonetheless.  Well fixed if they don’t want to take money away.   In fact, since 2007 we have lost about $300 a month due to taxes and adjustments that have been made to it.  If pensions get raises, we have yet to see one.   I have worked part-time from time to time.  In the recent past I have tried to find other worthwhile, close-by, part-time employment but nothing has transpired.  So, I decided I must take action and be a worker at home–a home manager, if you will.  None of this “flying by the seat of our pants” is going to cut it any more.  Someone needs to be serious and that someone needs to be me.  Because, frankly, I am the spender around here.

One thing I have done differently that has already made the greatest impact on our budget is meal planning and then grocery shopping.  I find a few recipes that sound good, make my grocery list, and then go shopping.  Amazingly, over the past month, we have both noticed that we are spending less and going to the store less often.  By having the meals in mind and the ingredients I need, I am armed and prepared while at the store–and then later when I cook.  I make the recipes as planned.  I try new things.  We eat.  We enjoy.  We freeze the left-overs.  We save money.  Weird how that all works.

Not rocket science but yet somehow it feels equal to it.  On top of this earth shattering “new way” of life, I am also trying to eat vegetarian (I do eat fish rarely).  I think this helps in saving money as well.  My husband is not a vegetarian.  He is an unconfirmed meat-eater.  He’s not picky.  He eats whatever I make and never complains.  And I mean never.  Once in a while I throw him some turkey meat and he’s happy.  But by eating vegetarian, I am constantly trying new recipes and have had wild success with this book:

12 Best Foods Cookbook: Over 200 Recipes Featuring The 12 Healthiest Foods

(via Amazon)

and her blog:

and just this evening I discovered the amazing possibilities this one has to offer:

The Complete Book of Vegetarian Cooking

(via Amazon)

Why it has taken 18 years of marriage to figure this stuff out is beyond me.  But I think my alien imposter knows– so ask her.  Her name is “DeeDee” (Domestic Diva)

Do you meal plan?  Do you feel it saves you/your family money? Do you know a number one can call if they suspect alien abduction has occurred?

~~Mistress Bliss~~

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a “grease”y moment

 

(via internet)

I enjoy reading bloggers who post about their children and the funny things that they say (please read any post about Optimus Prime or The Fonz on The Good Greatsby’s blog for a great anecdote).  Those priceless moments that you think you are going to remember forever but often times forget.  Thanks to video, snapshots and now blogging, we can revisit those moments or conversations easier than in the past.  I wish I had been a more careful historian as Belle Fille grew up because there were some doozies.   The following story will forever stay etched in my mind.

Circa 1998.

This is the year that there was a resurgence in the popularity of the movie “Grease” due to celebrating its 20th year anniversary.  Of course, I was driving the bandwagon for this one because I was around in 1978 and had great memories of the movie.  My BFF/cousin and I would spend lots of time learning the lyrics, reenacting the scenes.  In hindsight, I do have trouble understanding why 8 year olds were allowed to see this movie.  Much of the adult content and innuendos must have went over our heads–thank goodness–because I don’t remember reenacting the scenes where Rizzo believes she is prego.  So when it was re-released in 1998, I was geeked to revisit a happy memory of my childhood.  Sharing something so special and heart-warming with my own daughter…priceless.  Of course seeing it as an adult with an impressionable minor at my side was quite a different experience than the one I had in mind.  But she seemed to handle it all right for an 11-year-old and came away from it with her  innocence in tact.  I would later find out just how intact it truly was.

I bought the Soundtrack on CD.  I played it often in the car convincing myself that I was sounding better and better every time I belted out “Hopelessly Devoted to You”.  One day I had it in the CD player as I was driving Belle Fille and her 9-year-old friend out to the mall.  We were having a grand old-time singing all the songs, one after another:

Grease (yes!)

Summer Nights (we nailed it…we’re awesome! )

Hopelessly Devoted to You (I owned it)

You’re The One I Want (discrepancies over who would sing the boy parts; replay)

Sandy (fast forward)

Beauty School Drop Out (me: hmmm, there’s something about….)

“….Beauty school dropout (Beauty school dropout), Hanging around the corner store. Beauty school dropout (Beauty school dropout), It’s about time you knew the score.
Well they couldn’t teach you anything, You think you’re such a looker, But no customer would go to you unless she was a hooker! ” (me: ahhhh…yeah, that’s it…maybe they didn’t hear it…)

“What’s a hooker?” asks the little 9-year-old friend.

BLAST.  How do I explain to my friend that now, because of me, her little innocent daughter will know what a hooker is?  OK…think, think…

“Oh, I know what that is,” pipes up my worldly-wise 11-year-old.  “A hooker is someone who takes off of school without asking permission.  We had a hooker last year in fourth grade and when Mrs. Brown found out, she was really mad.”

I inwardly smiled, didn’t say a word, hit fast forward and  loudly sang:

“Why this car is automatic It’s systematic It’s hydromatic Why it’s grease lightning (Grease lightning) ….”.

What is your favorite “the darndest thing kids say” story?

Have a great weekend!

~~Mistress Bliss~~

PS  Click here for “Beauty School Drop Out”…and sing along.  You know you want to. ; )

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planning ahead

Are you excited?  2012 is just days away.  Another year to start new.  Another year fresh, with no mistakes.  So let’s get it going, shall we?

a brand new day

  In my Versatile Blogger acceptance post  last week, I revealed that I had never been to a ballet.  That admission, along with the subsequent comments, got me thinking about the glaring lack of culture in my life.  This is not the “norm”.  Master Bliss and I are usually pretty good about planning such outings but life has been a little different for us in our “new” digs.  We used to live within just a few miles of an above average sized town that offered plays, concerts, art, etc.  Now we live in a “hub”.  Yes, a hub.  Our real estate lady used this very word to describe where we moved in a very positive connotation.  As if by being here meant we were close to everything else.  One could look at it that way, I suppose.  OR you could look at it as this:  Picture, if you will, a wheel.  In the center of that wheel is the hub.  From the hub are multiple spokes that move out and away from the hub to where the real action is–the energy, the motion.  That is the “hub” we live in.

In other words, we have to leave the comforts of our home/town and actively seek where the culture is.   It dawned on me last week that I have fallen off the mailing lists of some of our favorite venues since moving.  Evidently this is not mail that gets forwarded.  So I ended up doing  some active searching online to find out what was going on, where and when.  I was bombarded with culture!  Within moments I had a list of plays, symphonies, operas and a ballet that I was interested in seeing.  Excitedly, I engaged Master Bliss into my little broohaha.  That sane (and maddening) man quickly brought me back to my senses.  I can’t do it all.  I guess that is what cultural starvation does to a person– just as real starvation causes a person to greedily gulp down her food the moment it is placed before her so it is with one who suddenly has access to all the culture she can gorge herself on.  And it does get expensive…quickly.  So here is what I decided on:

The Broadway play “Jersey Boys”.

“Behind The Mask” — Symphony tribute to the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and others.

La Boheme“…my first opera.

“Light in the Piazza” a play I will be attending at my absolute favorite venue.

Master Bliss will be my date to the first two events and one of my BFFs will be going to the other two with me.  And notice?  No ballet.  There was only one that I could find and it was a montage of famous fairy tale ballets (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc) and I would rather go to one that tells an entire story.  The more tragic the better.  This line-up will get me through the first few months of 2012.  It is not only nice having things to look forward to but it is also fun to be able to decorate my planner!

A few months back Aesthetic Alterations did a post about her triumph in finding her perfect planner/agenda.  I decided to take a look at the same type of journal she ended up buying.   While I was tempted to go the classic children’s novel route like she did (I was leaning towards Alice in Wonderland), I instead found this:

 

“Vintage Year”.  Perfect for my “vintage” sensibilities.   Plus I liked the features:  monthly and daily calendars plus areas for notes and journaling.  And like hers, I get to “decorate” it myself.  Short of carrying a box of Crayolas in my purse, I opted for color fine point Sharpies and  I was able to track down these calendar stickers to jazz it all up as the year progresses.

 

 

I had fun placing my “night out” stickers on all my future cultural events.  I had to keep myself from making up events just to use a sticker.  There are 16 stickers for each category like “travel”, “meal out”, “taxes”, “wedding”, “hair appt.”, etc.  While I would love to think I will be traveling 16 times, I know I will only be doing my taxes once.  If I end up with 16 weddings for 2012, just shoot me.  And I have a funny feeling Rockefeller will be using most of the “hair appt” stickers which isn’t saying much for his less than pampered owner.  This is definitely a detour from my Filofax carrying days but now that I am carrying a Nook, and many times my camera, I felt the need to lighten up a bit.

How is your 2012 looking?  Is it starting to fill up already?

~~Bliss~~

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Filed under creative endeavors, family matters, Uncategorized, vintage finds

versatile blogger award…awww, shucks.

A few weeks ago the fabulous Karen of Backroad Journal sweetly nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  If you don’t know Karen, and especially if you are a foodie, you must go take a peek (have a drool cloth handy).  Not only does she post mouth-watering recipes (with accompanying pictures proving to the skeptics among us that it truly can be done), she also shares snippets about her homes and her travels.  Fun stuff I am telling you.

I am supposed to share seven random things about myself that you may not know.   So here goes:

1.  I have never been to a ballet.  Odd, huh?  This just came up with Master Bliss yesterday.  We were watching “Mao’s Last Dancer” (very good, by the way) and I mentioned to Master Bliss that I have always wanted to see a ballet and an opera.  He looked at me in surprise and said, “You’ve never seen a ballet?”  Me:  (knowing we have been married 18 years and not gone to one together)  “Have you?”  Master Bliss: (sighs heavily) “Yes, I have had to endure a couple.”  (Remember, he’s a bit older than me and had a whole other life before I came on the scene).

2.  I must go to The Art Institute of Chicago once a year.  This hasn’t happened yet for 2011 and I am really afraid of the person I will become January 1st, 2012 if it doesn’t.

3.  My BFF/cousin and I have known each other since we were babies.  Our moms are sisters.  We have truly been life long best friends.  How cool is that?  I mean seriously, how many people can say they have been best friends with someone since birth?

4.  Daily I do at least one thing that scares my future self to death–visions of insanity tapping on my mind’s door.  This evening I opened the laundry closet looking for my leftover lentil stew to put on the stove.

5.  I like trying new things.  Today I washed my kitchen and bathroom floors by attaching wash cloths to my Vibram clad feet with rubber bands.  I had Josh Turner (whose voice makes me melt) on the stereo and I went around with a spray bottle of Spic and Span spraying and dancing my way to clean floors.  Crazy as it may sound, it worked rather well.  And it sure beat bending over on hands and knees to scrub with a snot filled head.  I am thinking someone should do a work-out video with this premise in mind.  It could make a bundle.  Clean floors, slim hips.  Win, win.

6.  I like eating stove-popped popcorn (no butter, light salt) with extra-sharp cheddar cheese slices and a Pink Lady apple better than any other thing I can think of.  Not kidding.  Paired with a glass of “John Henry” or “Dirty Bastard” beer–heaven (should bastard and heaven be in the same sentence?).

7.  Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark may well be the best 80s group–EVER (it helps that I am listening to it now and can barely keep myself still to type).

The second part of the award is to nominate 15 bloggers.  I can easily nominate 30 (my entire bedazzling blogroll).  I know many of the bloggers I read have already received this award.  And those who have not…I nominate you.  So, since you know who you are, if you have never received the Versatile Blogger award and you would like to have it…nab it.

~~Bliss~~

PS  Thoughts on my new page design??  Do you like it or should I change it back?  Haven’t had a side-bar in a while and was thinking I missed it.  Now I’m not sure.

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a year ago today…

…ROCKEFELLER arrived.

(taken this morning)

Can it be a year already? One full year has passed since little Rockefeller walked his scared, little, shaking body through our door. I remember feeling a little scared myself. Deciding to rescue a dog was really just an idea one day and a reality a couple of days later.I hardly had time to prepare– mentally, emotionally or materially. Sometimes the best decisions are the rash, not well thought out, go with your gut ones (not a rule I live by).

First, I must thank Fiona for her big heart and selflessness.  She adopted her beloved Atlas last year in November.� Her posts about him and the experience of adopting are really what got me thinking about doing the same thing.  Second, I have to thank my cousin/BFF for having decided to get a Havanese dog a few years ago. She had shared so much with me about what a fun and loving dog Ava was that checking into that breed was paramount for me.  Finding a Havanese rescue dog, relatively close by, I thought would be next to impossible.  I was open to other breeds/mixes but my heart was set on a Havanese.

 Rockefeller (or Cider, as he was named) was the third dog I called about.  I found him through PetFinder.com.  Earlier I had found another small dog needing a home through a local pound.  But by the time I called he had been adopted.  He was not a Havanese but some little poodley mix.  I was happy he got adopted so quickly but rather surprised by how fast one had to act on adopting cute little dogs.

Rockefeller’s personality has definitely changed in this past year.  It is still changing.  He is very cuddly and affectionate with Master Bliss and me but very shy of strangers.  He will take treats from someone but won’t let most people pet him.  My mom and another good friend are the only ones who have received that privilege over the last year.  But I think this will entirely change with time.  I hope so.

When we first got him he would spend a lot of time on our window seat either looking forlornly outside or barking at the squirrels.  Now he is hardly ever up there  preferring to interact with us or his favorite toy of all time–his bed.  I don’t mean he is lying around on it all day either (he does his share of that).  Rather it is his toy.  First thing in the mornings, as soon as he comes inside from going potty, as I unleash him I say, “Go Rocky!”.  Full throttle, he takes off, beelines to his kennel, grabs his bed and the fun begins.  He thrashes it around.  We play fetch with it.  If we are playing hide and seek/chase, he thinks he’s “SAFE!” if he gets on that bed.  He knows and loves that thing.  I kept thinking the bed fixation would be a passing thing so I kept buying other toys.  I am saving my money now because nothing beats his bed.  And he loves going for rides in the car…it used to terrify him.  Now he is the best traveling companion.

To celebrate our one year anniversary I went out and bought some new things and his favorite treats; a new red collar, new red leash, Get Naked treats, a Bully stick and a new tag.  I know.  He’s spoiled.

Is it just me or does this look like it’s from the Hollywood Walk of Fame?  Fitting, I suppose.

Take a peek at this post and this one to see what he looked like a year ago.  And now we will see a “day in the life” of Rockefeller (the following were all taken the same day, Wednesday):

After going outside this is what we do…get the bed.

And we show it who is Boss.

When we return from our walk on a cold day, this is the surest, fastest way to warm up.

(Although he looks cute, he is pretty grubby and doesn’t know today is Grooming for the Stars day).  Now he knows.

Going home in the car is both a relief and fun.  “Don’t hate me because I am handsome”.

And a bit goofy.

Stressful time at the groomer’s can only lead to one activity.

But naps aren’t fully complete without “the bed” (I had just washed it and put it on the floor, all fresh and warm.  He got off the other bed, dragged it over and put it over his head).

All rested and time to play. “Mom!� Get off your butt and play with me!! “

Happiness is just being “me”.

And happiness for us is having him here.

My advice…go adopt a pet!

Don’t forget my amazing giveaway!  Click here to enter.

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