Thursday, March 31, 2011

Waiting....again...

The latest novel from one of my favorite authors, Jonathan Kellerman, was released Tuesday.  I'd already pre-ordered it for my e-reader so as soon as it came out, I was ready to go.  And that same novel was completely consumed by Wednesday.

There are a few authors I follow religiously.  Jonathan Kellerman with the Alex Delaware series.  Patricia Cornwell with the Kay Scarpetta series.  Kathy Reichs with the Temperance Brennan series.  If you're familiar with any of them, you'll notice a trend...I admit it...I'm a murder kinda gal!

The problem with following a specific series is waiting for the lastest installment.  You wait patiently for a year or more for the next novel and when it's released, you are so excited to read it, you literally cannot wait to get your hands on it!!  Unfortunately, I read at an extremely rapid rate and they rarely last more than 24 hours.  If I have a large chunk of time to set aside for just the pleasure of reading...not even that long.

So now I wait...again.  Waiting for the familiar characters to re-enter my world, taking me away to theirs.  Waiting for cliffhangers to be resolved, wondering what crisis will befall them next.

And so I wait...and wait...and wait...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What we do for love

The other night I made my husband liver and onions.  In the fifteen years we've been together, I'd always managed to avoid it by suggesting he order it when we go out to eat.  My luck finally ran out.  Not only did he buy the liver, he took it out of the freezer and thawed it so I had no choice but to cook it.  I actually had to look up the instructions on the internet to be able to do it.

So he came home from work to liver and onions.  Unfortunately, I seem to have done a good job.  To the point where he said it was great and can't wait to have it again.  What have I done???  Liver is gross, touching it was disgusting!!  The only saving grace was that my allergies are so bad right now, I couldn't smell anything!!!

A friend asked if I had ever had liver and onions as an adult.  NO!!  And I have absolutely no desire to eat it!  That's the advantage of being an empty-nester...I don't have to eat liver and onions!  I don't have to eat the crusts from my bread when I have a sandwich!  And I don't have to put green beans on my plate to "set a good example" for my kids!!

And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Time is short

Time is short.  I'm a firm believer in experiences.  I don't mind a small house, and not having the latest style.  But in the last six months, I've visited New Orleans, completed the Austin Turkey Trot benefiting Caritas of Austin, volunteered with Austin Park Foundation's "I love my park", completed the Paramount 5k benefiting the theater restoration, attended a show at Esther's Follies, saw the Lippizaner Stallions, and attended the Devo concert.  I've read 20+ books, started this very blog, and spent time with friends.

Time is short.  I want to pack the time I do have left with every experience I can.  There is so much in this world to be experienced...I don't want to miss a thing!!  Sometimes it appears I'm going a hundred miles an hour, but as long as I'm moving, I'm alive...and lovin' it!!  I do wish I could transfer that zest to my children but at the age they are at, that sense of indestructibility is strong and they believe they have all the time in the world.  It seems to be a lesson learned with age and experience.

Time is short.  What are you going to experience next?

Monday, March 28, 2011

An Evening with Devo

Last night a friend and I attended the Devo concert at the Austin City Limits Live venue at the Moody Theater.  It was a full house, packed all the way to the rafters.

The opening act was a local band...The Octopus Project.  Their techno sound was pretty good and we enjoyed them but I have to admit, at my age...listening to it in a smaller club would probably physically damage me!!

Looking around the theater, I realized that a large portion of the crowd was of the gray-haired demographic.  I mean, A LOT of gray heads to be seen, along with quite a few balding ones!  Given the band playing, I expected it to be an older crowd but it was actually heart-warming to see fans willing to see a favorite band after so many years (decades?).

Devo most definitely rocked the house!!  And how amazing to hear this crowd singing every word to "Whip It" and roaring "We Are Devo" when "Are we not men?" was asked.  The heads bobbing up and down may have been moving a bit slower and not as hard as their head-banging days, but the fervor was still there.  But then, Devo's jumpsuits also had a bit more room in them than they did back in the day...just sayin'.  But Devo's covers of "Satisfaction" and "Secret Agent Man" were out of this world!!!

Gray hair or not, this empty nester had an absolute blast at the concert...including sore throat this morning from singing and cheering.  So for you youngsters out there, a piece of news:  We gray-hairs ROCK!!




Disclaimer:  I received tickets to the concert as a result of winning a Twitter concert from Austin City Limits Live.  All opinions in this blog are strictly my own and are not influenced by the receipt of those tickets.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cowboy Caviar

A great dish to bring to a barbeque!!

Ingredients:

2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed
1 (17 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 large avocados, diced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Dressing:

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
4 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper


Directions:

1.  Combine all ingredients in LARGE bowl.
2.  Cover and chill.
3. Garnish with avocado slices or cilantro sprigs.
4.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I'm still a mom!!!

There seems to be a serious case of ageism in parenting!!  If you look at magazines, blogs, websites, sweepstakes, the news...the assumption seems to be that parents only have children between birth and 18.  Does the fact that your child has reached the age of majority mean you cease to be their parent?  I don't think so!!!

My children are all over 21.  I didn't turn in my mom card when they hit 18 and won't for the rest of my life.  I worry if they're eating enough.  My heart breaks for them when they go through a break-up.  I wonder if the coat they have is heavy enough for winter.  I look for things they might want/need while shopping.  And I go into full mom mode when they post on Facebook that they're going out and don't relax until I see a post from them the next day!!

So to the media, writers, etc.:  I'm still a mom!!  There is an entire generation of empty-nesters who love their kids!!  And as empty-nesters...we have fuller wallets to back our stand!

And those are my random thoughts this morning!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

e-Readers and Books

I am the thoroughly enthralled owner of a nook.  It wasn't an immediate love affair...I entered the e-reading world with a bit of trepidation.  Was I really going to be able to give up the physical satisfaction of holding a book in my hands?  That first audible crack of the spine when you open a brand new hardback?  I honestly wasn't sure.

It took about two weeks for me to realize that the benefits to the e-reader far outweighed my worries.  For one, I was terrified that the amount of books I owned was going to overwhelm me!!  We don't have the largest home, and the amount of actual space taken up by my books was rapidly approaching critical mass.  Not to mention the glares from my husband every time he had to put another (really heavy) case of books in the attic.  The ability to carry 1500 books in the palm of my hand?  An incredible clutter-buster!!

I travel whenever possible and always build some down time into my trips to relax and read.  Needless to say, the ability to just throw my e-reader into my purse is a huge benefit!!  I read at a pretty rapid rate and can finish a bestseller in less than a day.  I love having new books to read without having to settle for whatever is in an airport gift shop because I finished what I had with me!

All that being said, there are still books I have to have in traditional form.  I'm not thrilled with cookbooks on the e-reader...I'm old, I need them propped up in front of my failing vision!!  I also have my design and craft books.  Patterns and instructions need to be seen in full page format.  Not to mention, some patterns need to be copied and printed...not possible with an e-reader!!

I've also kept books that mean a lot to me.  My leather bound edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  The set of Sookie Stackhouse novels that a dear friend gave me to read during my recovery after my lumpectomy.  All of my signed editions.  So I will always have a bookcase...just not 5 of them!!

As I said, I own the nook.  I'm also planning on adding a Kindle.  There are books available on Amazon that are not available on Barnes and Noble and vice versa.  Also, each retailer offers free books that the other doesn't.  In order to take full advantage, I need both!!

P.S.  After informing my husband I wanted a Kindle also...he is actively searching for a gadget junkie rehab!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Frugal Indulgence

I love the flavor of mint.  But I hate waiting every year for Girl Scout cookies to go on sale!  Well, I don't have to anymore.  Dollar General carries a brand of cookies made by Clover Valley.  One selection is called Mint Thins and they taste exactly the same as the G.S. version.  Plus, they're only a buck a box which means I can indulge to my heart's content!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

To Do or Not to Do (Lists, that is)

The dreaded ToDo list.  That thing that continually hangs over one's head, reminding us of how much we HAVEN'T accomplished.  Women are notorious for beating themselves up about what needs to be done, should be done and how.

This year, I decided to try a different approach.  At the end of December, I was in Target and picked up a small daily planner.  Only a buck, because I didn't want to spend a lot on something I wasn't sure was going to work.  And beginning January 1st, I began writing in the planner every day what I HAD accomplished that day.  So far, I haven't missed a day!

Granted, some days consist of little more than "I got out of bed".  Other days have so many things listed I run out of room.  It feels good to look back on things I have accomplished versus the never ending list of what I need to do.  Let's face it, I'm going to die with that list unfinished!!  So why not celebrate my accomplishments instead of agonizing over the undone?

A surprise benefit?  I seem to be accomplishing more.  I like seeing the planner full!  And that ToDo list?  I still make the occasional list for specific projects...but no more lists that have to updated before they are ever finished.  This is one new habit I think I'm gonna keep.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Facebook and the Empty Nest

I love Facebook.  No, I mean it...I really love Facebook.

Initially, I joined Facebook to keep up with my son at college.  And I still use it to keep up with my kids and what they're doing.  Admittedly, sometimes I see posts I really wish I hadn't...but at least I know they're not afraid to tell the truth knowing I'm going to see it.  I've become "friends" with some of their friends and I enjoy seeing their interaction.  It's worth the occasional heart attack to know they are alive and well and posting.

But when my son first set up my account (yes, I had to have help!), little did I know what it would evolve to be.  Since that first week when my only friends were my son and some of his friends, I've connected with friends all the way back to grade school.  There are friends on my list from my time in the Air Force, high school, every job I think I've ever had and a ton of cousins and other family.  As I grew up in Wisconsin and now live in Texas...it is wonderful to have a link to back home.

I play games on Facebook and enter sweepstakes.  Sometimes I actually win a little thing or two!!  I've made new friends through playing games spread all over the country.  I have Air Force friends literally spread from Washington State to Maine to Florida to California and states in between.  I get to read differing political opinions and what my friends made for dinner.  I see pictures of friends, family, and multiple generations.  I learn what is important to my friends, how we are different, and how much actually we all have in common.

I have to admit, there is a downside.  I've become a bit lazy (ok...a lot!!) about picking up the phone and actually speaking to people.  It's just so easy to throw what I'm thinking in a status update and let it go at that. I'm trying to do better but it's a work in progress!

I wonder if my son knew what a monster he was creating...and does he regret it sometimes?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Quiche Men Will Eat

Taco Quiche

1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup baking mix
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk

In a large skillet, cook beef, onion,green pepper and taco seasoning over medium heat until meat is cooked through.  Drain.  Spread into a 9 inch greased pie plate or quiche pan.  Sprinkle with cheese.

In a large bowl, combine baking mix, eggs, and milk.  Pour over the cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 -25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

For a healthier version, substitute ground turkey for the ground beef, or egg substitute for the eggs.

Friday, March 18, 2011

In Praise of Girlfriends

One of the things I've discovered as an empty nester is time.  Time for things I enjoy, time that isn't filled with activities, permission slips, and shuttle service.  Now to fill that time.

I walk 5k events for charity.  My husband will circle a parking lot five times to find the closest space.  So I walk with girlfriends.  It gives us the opportunity to serve the community, get our exercise, and catch up on our lives.  A win-win situation for everyone!

I enjoy plays, concerts, festivals, antiquing, shopping, and traveling.  All of which my husband despises!!  Invite him to a concert and you get a look that clearly says he'd rather have a root canal.  Kind of the way I look at him when he talks about hunting and fishing!  So I enjoy these activities with my girlfriends.  And my husband has stated on multiple occasions how thankful HE is for my girlfriends...so he doesn't have to go!!

A girlfriend will listen no matter what time you call or how long you ramble on.  A girlfriend will tell you "Yes, your ass DOES look fat in that!".  A girlfriend understands when you're hormonal and knows how to ride the wave along with you.  Sorry, gentlemen...running and ducking for cover does NOT constitute understanding!  Intelligence, yes...Understanding, no.

A girlfriend asks what you're reading...and recommendations follow within 24 hours!  A girlfriend will split the dessert with you...so that the calories don't count!  A girlfriend knows the missteps you've made and loves you anyways.  A girlfriend will raise hell by your side and call you on your b.s. when necessary.

There is a quotation that I love:


“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”


And that describes a girlfriend.  I am honored and blessed to have them in my life.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Irish Blessing

May the friendships you make,
Be those which endure,
And all of your grey clouds
Be small ones for sure.
And trusting in Him
To Whom we all pray,
May a song fill your heart,
Every step of the way.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I think I'll dye my hair pink!!

Ok, not really!!  But I'm feeling the need to do something huge before I turn 50.  Something to leave my mark on this world...or maybe just on my life!  So let's review a couple of options...

Tattoo?  No!!  For one, I hate needles.  To the point where when my sons got their immunizations, the doctor made me stand in the hall!  And let's face it, for one brief moment...when you got a tattoo, you were different.  Now everyone has one and the sense of being unique has long since left the building.

Skydiving?  I said I wanted to make a mark on my life...not end said life!!  I am flat out just not brave enough.  I know all the statistics about how safe it is when you jump with an instructor...I don't care...not gonna happen!!

That half-written novel that's been patiently waiting for me?  Now this one is at least within the realm of reality.  Of course, it's been waiting for a while but the end may actually be in sight in the not too distant future.  And with the advent of Smashwords, etc.; publication is a possibility!

Or maybe I'll just keep going the way I have been and try to be the best friend I can be.  Surely that leaves a mark somewhere, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Being Prepared

Let me start by saying this post is not related to the recent disaster in Japan.  As far as disaster preparedness goes, the Red Cross and FEMA both have lists on their website that do a far better job than I could ever do.  That being said, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims in Japan, Hawaii, and California.

This post is on a much more personal level.  This past August, my husband was injured at work and could not do anything for six months.  He had been saying for a long time that I needed to learn certain things in case something happened to him.  And for a long time, those were conversations I refused to have...based completely on my fear to even imagine such a situation.  Every time he brought it up, I would change the subject, walk away, or just refuse to do whatever it was.  With him being hurt, a lot changed and in a hurry.

All of a sudden, responsibility for the entire home fell on me.  It made me realize how I depended on him for the heavy lifting, anything involving power tools, yardwork, etc.  I was forced to step up to the plate and in a hurry.  And we both learned a lot of lessons along the way.

One lesson...don't put anything in the attic too heavy for me to get down.  He may not always be able to do it for me.  In full disclosure, this lesson was learned the hard way.  I was attempting to get down an 18 gallon bin and it got caught on the attic opening.  As I yanked on it to get it loose, I fell off the attic ladder.  Now everything is in no bigger than 10 gallon bins.  They fit through the door easily, and can't be packed heavier than I can handle.

Power tools.  I now have my own Milwaukee drill, bag, and bit set.  I feel a lot more confident but there are still a couple things I can't do.  Power saws always have and still do scare the crap out of me!!!  I don't want to use one, don't want to be around one...just can't do it!!!

As the two of us work around the house now...we keep the future in mind.  We're planning on re-doing the bathrooms, but now we look for products with extra rails and handles for that day when we're not as mobile as we are now.  As to the house we live in...is it close to grocery stores, drug stores, medical facilities?  These are all things to consider as we age.  Is the house small enough to handle on our own without depending on our children?  We don't want more space than we can handle by ourselves or by one of us alone.

Admittedly, some of these are not the most pleasant thoughts.  But they are necessary ones, particularly as neither of us are getting any younger.  Do either of us want to picture a future without the other?  NO!!!  But if the unthinkable does happen...both of us are on our way to being prepared.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Learning New Things

Starting this blog has turned out to be quite an education and an ongoing one.  There have been some changes to the look of my blog, including the addition of Social Vibe.

I had never heard of Social Vibe but what a cool program!  Every time someone clicks on the SV box on my blog, a contribution goes to the charity I chose.  Because of a personal connection, I've chosen "Autism Speaks" which supports behavioral therapy for children with autism.  Each time someone clicks, it pays for one minute of therapy!!  See the bottom right corner of the page to help!

Ok, now don't laugh at this one!!  I honestly didn't know that when someone clicks on an ad that Google has on my blog, I get paid.  Seriously...I didn't know that!!!  I knew bloggers could earn money doing it but I had no clue how!  Hey!!  I'm a newbie, ok??

I'm also learning to edit HTML...which seriously strains this old brain of mine!  But they say the best way to stop aging is to keep learning...so I should be reversing my age any time now!

Needless to say, the look of this blog may change (a little or a lot) over the coming weeks as I learn new things.  Bear with me, please, as I muddle my way through this new experience!

And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Leftovers and the Empty Nest

Let me be honest.  Even after a couple of years, I still haven't gotten this "Cooking for Two" thing down.  So leftovers are a common occurrence around this place.  But between a husband who hates leftovers and sons who walk through the front door looking for food, I've come up with a couple tricks to take care of the problem!!

First...the husband who hates leftovers.  This solution is so easy I can't believe it took me so long to figure it out! I've finally learned to immediately freeze the leftovers!!  My husband enjoyed the meal the first time around and to be perfectly honest...he won't remember eating it a month from now when I pull it from the freezer!  Seems he only hates (or remembers) leftovers when he has to eat them within 72 hours of the original meal.  Now the exception to this would be spaghetti...which is always better the second day!

Now on to the kids.  I have no problem sending them home with food but not at the expense of my expensive storage containers or vintage glassware walking out the door never to be seen again!  The solution?  Pick up storage containers at your local dollar store.  They may not be sturdy enough for day to day use but they are perfect for sending food home with the kids.  And it won't make you cry if they disappear forever!  You can pick up pint sized containers in a four-pack for only a dollar and keep them on hand for when the kids come by.

So I guess it's back to that cooking for two thing for me...I'm sure I'll get the hang of it eventually!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Quick and Easy Recipe

Wisconsin Beer Bread


3 cups self-rising flour
3 Tablespoons of sugar
1 can of beer (not light)

Pour in a greased loaf pan, bake at 350 for one hour.

Doesn't get much easier than that!!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Restaurant Seating

My husband Richard and I went to a not to be named national chain restaurant for dinner last night.  We were seated in a booth and over the next few minutes, three other couples were seated in booths nearby.  As we were enjoying our appetizer, the servers pushed tables together and seated a party of nine...with 5 children!!  Now I'm a mother and a grandmother...but I really would like to enjoy a quiet dinner out with my husband once in a while!!  Most restaurants are still set up from back in the day when they seated smokers separately.  Have they ever considered making those sections "Adults Only"?  Why not give those couples who would prefer not to enjoy screaming children the option?  It's not that I don't love children...but I don't want to necessarily deal with someone else's while I'm paying to be there!

So those were my random thoughts this morning...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Welcome!!

Welcome to my blog!  Please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Jerri and I'm an empty nester.  I'm still adjusting to this new phase in my life and it is quite an adventure!!  This blog will reflect whatever is going through my peri-menopausal mind at the moment so the content will always vary.  One day it may be a rant, the next a recipe, and a lament after that.  Join me for the ride!

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