The journey of a thousand miles begins with...the perfect pair of shoes.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Super Cool Pirate Invites

Yarrrr!!!!! Ahoy there me hearties. It be that time o' the year again: Indy be having a party. Yarrrr!!!

Okay, enough of that. I can't type it without actually saying it like a pirate in my head and that's just silly. Plus, I think I might make crazy faces too. Weird.
Anyhoodle, Indy is turning 8 next month (which I cannot believe, because surely we just brought him home from the hospital) and wants a Pirate party (Yarrrr!). To be perfectly honest, he started planning this the day after his Indiana Jones party last year.
We've been in full party planning mode for a few weeks now (and by this I mean obsessively browsing and buying stuff from Oriental Trading Co.) and I finally got around to making the invites.  Pretty important, huh?  Sure, sure, we could just buy premade invites and write the info in, but where's the fun in that?  Where's the mess?   Store bought invites are not for me.  This year, we were going with a message in a bottle.  I started off by making the invites on MSWord, printing them on heavy brown paper, then dampening the back of the paper (don't do the front or you'll smear the ink-ask me how I know) and sticking it into a low temp oven for a few minutes.  This makes the paper crinkly and feel old.  Then comes the mess fun!  I lit a candle and burned the edges of the paper.  There were ashes all over the kitchen.  Good times.  Indy really, really, really wanted to help with this part, but I didn't think our insurance would cover birthday party invite related fires, so he had to stand by and watch.  BTW, if you do this, do it near a sink of water in case you can't blow the fire out (ask me how I know this!).  Also, when you're blowing out the fire, blow very gently (or you may need the a fore mentioned sink of water).
See how cute?  BTW, last year Indy asked for food for a local food bank instead of gifts, but this year he's asked for dog food to be donated to a shelter in memory of Miss Pepper.  Is my boy amazing or what?

After I was sure the edges of the paper were cool, I rolled the invites up and tied them closed with twine and dripped some red candle wax on them to seal it. I made sure one end of the twine was left really long. You'll see why in a minute.

I "made" Mr. HH drink several bottle of beer that came in a clear bottle and did not have a deposit (most glass bottles in Germany have a deposit).  I soaked the bottles to get them clean and get the labels off.  After they were dry, Indy and I poured sand in them and dropped in some sea shells (he thought this was really fun). I printed off some cool labels and glued them on.

I then slipped the invite inside, leaving the long part of the twine hanging out the top, so the guests could easily get the invite out (now, you see why I left one end long), put a cork in the bottle (Really, this is the reason we drank all that wine.  Promise.) and tied a small shell to the loose end of the twine.  The label reads "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here."  Indy went crazy over these.

Here they are all finished.

We actually have a few more to make, but I ran out of bottles.  I guess Mr. HH will have to drink more beer  while watching the World Cup this week (don't you feel awful for him?).  Or, I may use plastic bottles for those guests who have younger siblings.  We'll see.
So, there you have it, our super cool pirate invites.  What 'cha be thinking, maties? 

PS.  The mother of my future DIL (she told Indy they were getting married and he said "okay") got their invite yesterday and posted this on my FB page:

OMG! You are the coolest mom ever! What awesome party invitations! You have totally outdone yourself!

See why we're friends?  She totally knows me and validates that I truly am the coolest mom ever.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Quick, easy, patriotic cup cake paper wreath

Hi all. Before I talk about my wreath, I want to thank all of you who took the time to say such lovely things about my sweet Pepper. We still miss her like mad and your kind words meant a lot to me.

Okay, enough sadness, on to my super cute wreath. Well, I think it's super cute, anyway. And of course since I think it, it must be right.

You all know how much I love my crazy paper bag wreath and I wanted to create something similar, but also different (cause, why not be difficult?) for the 4th of July.  I had ideas, but they all seemed...too much like work complicated.  I thought and thought and thought had a drink or two and thought some more.  I surfed the web and came across some super cute ideas, but they just weren't what I was looking for.  After another drink a while, the perfect idea, which was an amalgam of several different ideas, came to me.  All I had to do was find the supplies.  And of course I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for.  What's a creative girl in gorgeous heels to do?  Improvise!  I bought a foam wreath, some blue cupcake liners with white stars on them and some star confetti.  At home I whipped out my trusty glue gun, Matilda, and some red scrapbook paper and got down to business.

Since my cupcake liner were not solid color like I was looking for, but white on the inside, I took one and flipped it wrong side out, put a dab a glue in the middle and glued 2 of them together.  I then crinkled them up around my finger (put my finger in the center where the glue was and wrapped the liner around my finger) and started gluing them on.  I stuffed and stuffed until it the wreath was full.  I used 200 cupcake liners in all, including doubling them up.  Since they were doubled they were extra fluffy.  I like fluffy.  I then took strips of red scrapbook paper and folded it accordion style.  I glued the ends together to make a red medallion (note it must be longer than it is wide or this will not work), and then glued them to the wreath.  I picked out some of the large red and white stars from the confetti and glued them on randomly.  This took about an hour and a half start to finish, including breaks to be fascinated or grossed out by the people auditioning for America's Got Talent .  Some people don't have any.  I do though!  Check it out.  Isn't it cute?

Here's a close up of the medallions.  The one in the back was the wrong proportion so I couldn't get it to make a full circle.  I just glued the others over the open space and it looks like I meant to do that.  Clever of me, yes? Yes.

Here's our patriotic front door.  I added a few red flowers I had in my stash to the white pitcher along with some blue ribbon and voila!   Ready for the 4th.

The total cost of the wreath was about $7.  Mr. HH should really appreciate how much money I save him.

Hey, check it out!  My cute little wreath was featured!!!  I'm cool like that.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Longest Day: Pepper 1996-2010

June 21st is the summer solstice and generally the longest day of the year. Little did we know that it would be the longest day in another way. We had to make an incredibly difficult decision regarding our sweet Pepper and at the end of the day came home without her. I'll talk about her end later. Right now I want to talk about her life.  This is going to be long, so bear with me.

In early 1996, Mr. HH decided to join the military. He would be leaving for Basic Training a day or two after our first anniversary in March and I decided I wanted a dog to keep me company. I'd grown up with dogs and missed having them around. In early March, I looked through the want ads in the paper and found a litter of pups for sale for $50, which was well within our price range. I called and the lady said I could come have a look. They were the pups of a pure bred pug and a pure bred shih tzu who weren't supposed to get together. It was a cool Sunday morning and I drove out to their house listening to the Beatles Brunch. By the time I arrived there were only 3 pups left. One was busy digging a whole, another hiding under a blanket and the third ran straight at me and attacked my pants leg. I fell in love with her instantly. She was the one. I paid my $50, got the shot paperwork and carried my 4 lbs of fur and energy to the car. When I got in the song Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was playing. Pepper was christened. As the weeks went by, she grew and Mr. HH left for Basic. Pepper was great company for me and so lovable. Everyone (MOM, DAD) said she was ugly, but to me she was the most beautiful dog in the world. I called her my pretty princess.
As the years went by, she lived in Germany and back in the States. She was well traveled. In 2000 we decided to add Dutch to our family and she was not happy. She disliked the yippy, crazy little ball of fur that followed her every move, but eventually got used to him and accepted that he was part of the pack. She never let him forget that she was the alpha, but they grew to love each other and cuddled often when they slept.
In 2002, we were back in Germany and the biggest change entered her life: Indy.  From the very start she loved him. When he slept, she laid under his crib. If he cried, she ran between him and me until I got to him. If he was laying on the floor she was next to him. She gave him plenty of sloppy wet kisses that grossed me out, but never failed to make him laugh. She let him pull her hair and poke her in the eye without making a fuss. Indy loved her and Dutch so much that one of his first words was "arf" which he used for dog. No matter how many times I tried to get him to say "dog" or "doggie" or "puppy" he always said "arf" and is incidentally how Arf got his name (thanks to my mom).
She wasn't a big dog, but she was full of love and smart as a whip.  She and Dutch got out once when we lived in TN (Mr. HH wasn't paying attention and I wasn't home).  Mr. HH heard some noise at the door, but it was raining, so he didn't think much of it.  She was scratching at the door.  Since he wouldn't open up, she went to our neighbor and scratched on their door.  They brought her and Dutch home.  She knew what to do when she was in trouble.  She got off her leash several times (it happens when your head and your neck are the same size) but never ran off.   She knew she had it good.
Pepper had a lot of health problems over the years. She had to have ear surgery twice, hernia surgery and got severely ill a few times and constantly had ear infections. We spent a small fortune on vet bills but she was worth every penny. She turned 14 in January of this year and we had had a bad cough that she couldn't quite shake and slept more and more. She was mostly blind and couldn't hear well anymore. As the months went by her cough got a little better, but in May it got really bad. Going up and down the stairs got more and more difficult. Over the last week her cough was almost debilitating. We were worried and I cried more than once. I called the vet yesterday morning and took her in at 4pm. She was lively in little bursts, and her eyes were bright, but the cough was harsh and had to be painful and she panted constantly instead of breathing. The vet took xrays and showed me her heart which was enlarged so much that it was pressing into her lungs. He said she had congestive heart disease and wouldn't last much longer. We could treat it, but we were just buying time and eventually she would have problems getting oxygen. I broke down, knowing where he was going. I asked if I could call Mr. HH. I did and he was there in about 10 minutes. The doctor explained everything to him and said we needed to make a decision. We both cried. The people at the vet clinic couldn't have been kinder. They gave us time with her out in a small private park until we were ready. We sat with her and talked to her and told her how much we loved her and thanked her for 14 years of love and loyalty. After about 20 minutes we decided it was time. The vet tech came out to the park and put the medicine in the cathader they'd put in before we went out to the park. It took less than 5 minutes. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. The weather was cool and breezy and the sky a beautiful blue. We were surrounded by trees and flowers. She sat on my lap and I felt her heart stop. My pretty princess was gone and my heart was broken. We sat with her a little longer and cried before handing her over. The hardest part was coming home without her. Indy cried when we told him. Dutch is depressed. He's almost 10 and never been apart from her. Arf has been extra cuddly and lovable.
We sat last night and talked about her. We have 14 years of wonderful memories. She loved to open presents. At Christmas she just stared at the presents under the tree. On Christmas morning she had to have her own wrapped present to her to keep her from trying to open all the others. She snored like a 200 lb man. We would giggle listening to her and often had to wake her up because we couldn't fall asleep. She loved to sleep on my pillow at night. She'd get behind me, put her paws on the back of my head and push to get me to move so she had more room.  She loved to get dressed up.  Due to her "plumpness" (she was NOT fat) there weren't a lot of things she could wear, but those she could made her crazy happy.  "Treat" was her favorite word, followed closely by "bed." She loved to lay in patches of sunlight on the floor.  She loved to take a bath and would hop in the shower with me every chance she got.  When she was little it got to the point where I had to lock her out of the bathroom.  When she got excited she had this little howl that sounded suspiciously like "NOW!"  I was her favorite person in the whole world. She loved Indy and Mr. HH, but she was a momma's girl.  She was the best $50 I ever spent and I'm so thankful for all the years we had together.

We have hundreds of photos of our first baby.  I have about 50 on my computer, and these are a few of my favorites.

In her favorite spot.

Her 14th birthday.  The hat was Indy's idea.  She tolerated it.  Note the look she's giving him.

Traveling with Dutch.


My sweet girl.

If you read this far, thank you. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dear So and So: The idiot neighbors edition

Dear So and So...

Let me preface this by saying I'm not talking about any of my personal neighbors.  I actually happen to have a great stairwell and get along quite well with them all.  And none of them read my blog, so I don't have to say this, I'm just letting you, gentle reader, know.  These are things I've observed in other buildings around us when I take my dogs out at night.  We good?  Okay then.

Dear Idiot Neighbors #1,

I am so glad I don't live in your building.  Do you really think it's a good idea to put what I'm assuming were gym shoes in the dryer at midnight?  I was a good 150 feet from your building yet I could clearly hear the thump, thump, thump in the dryer.  If I lived in your building I would have gone down to the laundry room and turned the dryer off.  If you have to dry shoes in the dryer, do it during the day.

So glad I don't live in your building,

Dear Idiot Neighbor #2,

Taking trash and recycling out at 1 am is not cool. Sure, sure, I know it needs to go out, but when you're tossing glass into the bin, it is LOUD. You do know that glass bin is right outside several buildings' bedroom window, right? Take your damn garbage out during the day. Plus, it scared Arf and I couldn't get him to do his business, which is a real problem for me.

So glad I don't live in your building,

Dear Idiot neighbor #3,

Parking is an issue here. A real issue. If there is not an open visitor spot in front of your building it is NOT cool to park your car so that it blocks the assigned space of another apartment. If you had blocked my car, I would have called the MP's and have you ticketed. I know you may have to walk an extra 50 feet if you park your car down the block in one of the 7 (yes, I counted) visitor spaces there, but trust me, it's a lot cheaper than a ticket.

So glad I don't live in your building,

Dear Idiot neighbors in general,

You guys are the reason stairwell living is so hard for many people. You do not live in a private home. You live in a building with 11 other families. Try to remember that and everyone's lives will be better.

Shaking my head at your idiocy,

Dear Chinese web site people who keep hacking my comments,

I hate you. You're making me do the thing I do not want to do! I'm sorry my lovely readers, but for a while I'm going to have to turn back on the word verification on my comments. I know, I know! They are the WORST, but I'm afraid for now at least I'm going to have to do it.

So sorry,

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I can't believe it' s been almost a year and I haven't posted this!

Do you remember the big Indiana Jones Birthday Party I posted the prep for last year? I promised to post photos of the actual party and never did! We're now looking at a big fat pirate party next month (pray for me) so I think it's about time I posted the photos from last year. It really was the most fun party we've ever done and now I'm under pressure to top it with pirates. Think I could get Johnny Depp to show up dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow?!?! Purely for Indy, of course. Or not.
Enjoy the photos and maybe it won't take me a year to post photos from the pirate party.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 1: at sea and Day 2: Malta

This is the chronicle of our Mediterranean cruise.  These days are May 16 and 17, 2010

Our first full day aboard the Disney Magic was spent at sea. I thought it would be boring, but I was so wrong. We were actually busy! There were lectures, parties, bands, movies, seminars, and shows! It was awesome. There was more to do than hours in the day. Indy of course only wanted to go to the play place (or as I came to think of it, the Land of Magic and Wonder, where parents can drop off their kids and not feel guilty) and the pool, so life was great for him. Mr. HH was actually a bit sea sick the first day and we were all walking around like we were on a drinking binge. Sea legs take some time apparently. As I lay in bed that night, rocking with the waves and thinking about all the times I’d fallen into the walls as I went down the hall, I gained a new appreciation for my dad and all those who voluntarily join the Navy. I mean, we were on a luxury cruise line and those in the Navy are doing it on a vessel maintained by the US government. Think about that.

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The first port we pulled into was Valletta, Malta. Of course I knew were Malta was, and knew about the Maltese Cross and the Maltese Falcon, but that’s about the extent of it. It was gorgeous! I fell in love instantly. It was a warm, breezy day with striking blue skies and absolutely perfect for exploring this beautiful island. The buildings were all of local materials so everything was the same color, but the locals used paint to accent doors and windows and give the beige stone character. We took a bus out to the Blue Grotto with Hoosier Mom and Hoosier Dad, who shall now be known as JAG, and several other people from our boat. I knew nothing of the Blue Grotto, but was so glad we went (thanks again Hoosier Mom). You take a small boat around part of the island and into limestone caves and the grotto, which was stunning. You could see all the way to the bottom. There were jellyfish everywhere and our crazy boat captain reached in and picked one up! WHAT? The highlight for Indy was getting to “drive” the boat. Good times.
After a very long bus ride back to Valletta, we left Hoosier Mom and JAG and went to the Archeological Museum. Fascinating stuff there! Indy went crazy. Malta has been inhabited for more than 6000 years. One of the monoliths had carved swirls all over it and Indy and I discussed why they might have chosen that particular pattern. He decided that it probably stood for the wind (Malta was very windy ) and infinity because time never ends. I thought this was as good as anything I could have come up with and congratulated him on his ideas. A little while later we were in the gift shop (isn’t it amazing how all tourist destinations are set up so you have to go through the gift shop to get out?) and Indy spotted a small replica of the monolith. He struck up a conversation with one of the people working there who explained the symbols to him. Guess what the swirls stood for? Go, on, guess. WIND and INFINITY! Shut up. My boy is smart.
The day ended with a walk along the main street and a hike back to the ship where we dined on fabulous food and watched an amazing stage show. Oh, Disney, how you spoil me.

Click to play this Smilebox collage: Malta May 17,2010
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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Further Proof.

After reading The Short Life of Bree Tanner the other day, I decided I had to read Twilight again.  Because it's not like my TBR pile is 20+ books high or anything.  Anyhoo, I like to read in bed before going to sleep and put my books on my bed side table.  I already had 3 books there, so it was a bit crowded and Twilight had to sit in front of my clock.  Now, I have the hardback version, but I was reading the smaller paperback.  This one:                

Twilight (The Twilight Saga)

Cause why would I want a book with an apple on the cover when I can have one with Edward/RPattz?  Back to the point: I've read it a few dozen or so times, so the cover doesn't quite lay flat anymore but sticks up an inch or so from the book.  I woke up at some point in the night and rolled over to see what time it was.  Instead of seeing the time, I saw Edward's face glowing.  At first I thought I was hallucinating and blinked several times before I figured out what was going in.  The cover, which was not laying flat was blocking the clock, but the light behind the clock made Edward's face shimmer in the darkness.  Somehow, miraculously, Bella's face was not glowing.  See, further proof that Edward and I were meant to be together. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Have you read it yet????

Have you? I have! The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is available to read for free online until July 5!  After that you'll have to buy it (which I will anyway-hello, it goes to my set).  I read it yesterday.  It's only 192 pages, so it's an easy read.  I have to say I really liked it, except that Edward was almost not even in it.  Sheesh.  Of course we all know the outcome (well, those of us who read the series know, and if you haven't, why not?), but it was really interesting to read about the world from the POV of a vampire not involved with the Cullens or Volturi.  While it didn't involve Edward much (seriously?  He's the reason I read those books), I found it surprisingly well written.  You all know I'm not a fan of Stephanie Meyer's writing.  She has a good story, I just don't think she's a very good writer.  This novella however was well written and the characters well fleshed out.  I give it a thumbs up (it would be 2 if it had more Edward).  Now if she would only finish Midnight Sun.  Really, Stephanie, it's been 2 years, get over it and finish the damn book.  Please.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy, Happy Birthday Baby!

My hunny bunny, Johnny Depp (like I even had to type his name) turns 47 today! He looks pretty good for 47, huh?  Happy Birthday Johnny!!!! Much love and many kisses. Call me.

Also, my first TV crush, Alex P. Keaton, better known IRL as Michael J. Fox turns 49 today.  Happy Birthday Michael!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Normandy: A walk through history

Sixty-six years ago today a group of young men performed and act of extreme bravery and changed the course of history. That of course was the D-Day landings at the beaches of Normandy. Growing up a Navy brat with a father who is a walking WWII dictionary, I've seen probably every movie ever made about the D-Day landings (it was sort of a Sunday afternoon ritual for my dad to watch as many black and white WWII movies as he could find on TV), and being an Army spouse I've seen Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers more than a few times. Personally I think every high school child in America should be required to see both, bad language and all. Having seen all these movies I thought I was fairly familiar with the beaches at Normandy. I was so wrong.
When my dad came to visit us back in December for the Bastogne Memorial Walk we drove to Reims and then on to Bayeux in the Normandy region of France. For those of you who may not not, Normandy is not the name of a town or city, but a region (kind of like a state in the US). We headed to Sainte-Mère-Église, Dead Man's Corner and Utah Beach.

Replicated Soldier who got stuck on the church after parachuting in

Memorabilia from Lt. Winters at Dead Man's Corner

Dead Man's Corner

Utah Beach

We were overwhelmed by all that we had seen, but did not know what was to come.  The next morning donned bitterly cold and we dressed warmly before heading back to the beaches.  Our first stop was Pointe Du Hoc, which was just in the news yesterday.  I knew little about Pointe Du Hoc, but the walking WWII dictionary (my dad) filled us in on the drive there.  The cliffs of Pointe Du Hoc held German concrete bunkers armed with 155mm guns (captured from the French) and would be devastating to the landing parties at Utah and Omaha beaches.  The Rangers were to scale the 100+ feet cliffs and take out the Germans.  A few days prior to the assault the guns were moved inland.  Apparently the "brass" knew this, but did not inform the Rangers as the casemates and bunkers were still a threat to the landings.  There's some debate about all of this, but really, it doesn't play into what happened.
On the morning of June 6, 1944, approximately 230 Rangers scaled the cliffs and fought the Germans at the top.  They went in search of the missing guns and destroyed them.  At the end of almost 2 days of fighting, of the 230 Rangers, only 90 were still in fighting condition; the rest either dead or wounded.  Think about that as you look at the photos below.  Think about these young men scaling these cliffs knowing that they faced the enemy when they reached the top.  Look at the rows and rows of barbed wire.  These were incredibly brave men.

Craters from the bombing raids

Indy and Mr. HH in a crater

After Pointe Du Hoc we headed towards the Mecca of all WWII historical buffs: Omaha Beach.    The landings at Omaha Beach are chronicled in the opening scenes of  Saving Private Ryan which is touted as being one of the most realistic representations of this event ever filmed.  Like I said, I'd seen it several times and thought I had a pretty good idea of what we would be seeing.  What we actually saw took my breath away.  I could not in my wildest dreams comprehend the scale of this beach.  It's not a small beach.  It is huge and deep. I had no idea how far these men had to go once they hit the beach.  Remember that they came in at low tide to avoid obstacles in the water (we visited at low tide too).  As we stood at the head of the beach looking out over the water, my breath was taken away.  The wind was whipping around us, but we walked down to the waters edge, which took us  a good 20-30 minutes and we weren't weighed down with gear, waterlogged or being fired at.

From the top of the beach

This is my favorite photo of my dad at the beach. 

I took this about a quarter of the way up the beach (from the water).  Look how far they had to go.

We were relatively solemn on the beach.  Indy asked a few questions about the battle but was mostly interested in picking up sea shells.   After wandering around we headed to the cemetery that overlooks the beach.  It was more than overwhelming.  I have to say I was so proud of Indy.  He's been to enough military cemeteries to know how to act, and he was incredibly respectful on this day.  As we looked out over row after row of white crosses he looked up at me and said quietly "Mom, there's a real hero under every one of those crosses."  The tears that had been hovering at the edges of my eyes flowed freely after that.  I told him he was absolutely right.  There is so much I could say about this cemetery, but nothing I could say would properly express the emotions we felt.

This cross really brought out the tears.  The letter reads: To the dad I never knew.  A true American hero.

My dad as they were taking down the flags.  I didn't get a photo of Mr. HH and Indy, but they both saluted as well, Indy with the Cub Scout salute.

Sixty-six years ago today the men under many of these crosses stormed a beach at unbelievable odds because the had a job to do.  A job that many of them knew they wouldn't return from.  These men were truly part of the Greatest Generation.  Remember them today and appreciate their sacrifice for our freedom every day.

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