Wednesday, June 30, 2010

You Just Need the Right Mug

We are a family of tea drinkers. Yes, I know I seem to have a strange and obsessive love for coffee, the Elixir of Life, but that only started when I was in nursing school and had to be able to function early in the morning.

No, tea has always been my ultimate drink of choice. And I have passed this on to the progeny. And also TSiL is a tea drinker so that is good. Of course, he grew up in Pakistan where tea is the norm.

But you see, the thing about tea is you just need to use the right mug or the whole experience isn’t what it could be.

And we have mugs. We have mugs that have stories behind them. Are you surprised at this? How long have you been hanging here? Everything around here has some kind of nutty story attached to it.

IMG_7113A This is always a popular mug, even though Mr. Crabby Pants is no longer with us. Papa sent this mug to me. I am not sure where he found it but if the chips around the edge are any indication we love this one.

IMG_7114AI brought this mug back from Israel. Purchased in Bethlehem at the shop of the potter who made it. A dusty, dark and dingy place. The chip happened when someone, me I think, dropped a bowl right on the edge and chipped it big time. However, it still gets a lot of use.

IMG_7115A  This was purchased outside Ft. Ticonderoga in NY, again, from the potter who made it. A woman who was actually from Canada and was there as part of a re-enactment of a battle from the French and Indian War.

Some people go to the beach for vacation.

We take our kids to museums. They LOVE it.

IMG_7116AThis happens to be Shoe Queen’s mug. She took it to college with her. She brought it home for the summer.

If you use it and she sees you do it then she gives you the “Stink Eye”.

Sometimes I use it just to annoy her. But don’t tell her OK?

IMG_7119Then there is this little beauty. It was purchased in Idaho at Snake River Pottery. And there is a story of course. We were in Idaho for HHBL’s family reunion (we meet every two years). HHBL, the progeny, Cousin Amanda and yours truly had spent some time driving around the state going to cool things like the National Potato Museum (the progeny’s favorite) and walking up mounds of volcanic stuff and sticking gobstoppers into our noses. Good Times.

I had found a little “blurb” in one of my guide books about this place call Snake River Pottery. The directions to get there had phrases like “If you go past the mail box with the deer horns on it then you have gone too far” and “take a left at the third farm on your right” and things like that. We finally located the place and parked. If you looked at the picture you can see that it is a rather unassuming place that sits next to a rushing river. We walked in and saw a sign that told us that if we wanted to purchase something and no one was around just add the sales tax and leave the money on the counter.


We did hear a voice from the back of the house tell us to look around the show room which was on the right so we did. And then the potter and owner of the building appeared….

In his bathrobe….

His very thin bathrobe….

And nothing else.

Boy did we pay for our purchases with a swiftness bordering on panic.

IMG_7117 And then there is this mug. I happen to be having a cup of tea in this one at this very moment. It is my personal favorite….and there is a story lest you were worried.

When I went off to Baylor many, many years ago my momma (Mimi) purchased a bunch of mugs for me. This was one of them. It was my “Tumbling Bears” mug and it was my favorite because the bears look so happy. I finished nursing school, worked, got married, had kids and all the while I used my mug.

Then one day HHBL and I were visiting his mom for Thanksgiving. My BIL, Kidney Doc, was visiting as well. He was wanting to have a cup of coffee in the morning as we were recovering from an excess of turkey and said, “Where is the F---ing Bunnies Mug. That’s my favorite.”

Sorry, I can’t print that word, this is a family blog. Now back to our story.

I wondered what mug he might be talking about. Then he pulled the mug out from the back of the cupboard and I got a look at it.

HEY! That mug looks just my favorite one at home only with bunnies not bears.

Why does he call it the f---ing bunnies mug. I don’t see……


And then the scales fell from my eyes and I was able to see, really see, what the bears were doing…….
IMG_7118 Holy Cow Andy no wonder they look like they are happy. Oh yeah they are “tumbling” alright.

It only took me 10 years to figure it out.

And for some reason this is still my favorite mug. Tea just tastes better in it.

Like I said, you just need the right mug.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And The Brides Just Keep On Coming

The last two months have been our season of wedding around here let me tell you. HHBL’s cousin got married several weeks ago and we partied the night away with family.

And then, of course, there was this little gathering.

And then, this past weekend we attended the wedding of Alison and Brendan, Alison happening to be TMO’s very, very BFF in the whole wide world. They have been buds since they saw each other across a crowded 1st grade room and decided that they were going to be best friends. There was no going back on that. Come heck, high water, or boyfriends…and now husbands.

I really love weddings, especially ones that I am not in charge of and am not paying for. And this wedding was so lovely and unusually. Lets take a look shall we? Cuz, you know, you guys are just my BBF’s (best bloggie friends) and I have to share everything with you. Maybe tomorrow we can talk about the terrible sore throat I had last week.


1999 Miracle Mountain A Like I said, Alison and TMO have been friends for a long time. They do not look like this anymore. If they did I am not sure that we would be having weddings.

Unless we were in West Virginia where I believe the age of consent for marriage might be a tad younger.

Where were we? Oh yes. Well, every wedding has it’s on flavor as it were. Some are very formal where you sit in quiet anticipation of the booming organ announcing the arrival of the bride. Or perhaps there is a string quartet or something.

In the 20 minutes or so before the wedding we were treated to a number of different musical interludes.
IMG_7028A The Father of the Bride and his siblings sang. They have been singing together all their lives and it was lovely. You can tell which one is Jim, he has the flower.
Brendan and Ian The the groom and his brother did a song. Brendan (the groom) happens to be with one without a coat on and without a beard.

Oh, and by way of explanation. In a bunch of the forthcoming photos there will be a blurry area or two, right down there in the corner of the picture. The spot that cannot be cropped out even though I tried. Those happen to belong to the two women with big hair who were so kindly seated in front of me.

IMG_7033A The parents of the bride sang the song that they sang to each other on THEIR wedding day. There were many eyes that were a tad damp, including the Father of the Bride. The MOB is one of my dearest friends, with just the sweetest heart you will ever encounter.

Why she likes to hang around with me I will never understand.
IMG_7038A I have no idea who this little fellow was but he looked like he was plotting mischief.
IMG_7047A Brendan gets a good look at his bride.
IMG_7058Alison and Brendan’s wedding was unique in a bunch of ways. I mean no wedding is ever the same but I think that this is the first wedding where the bride and groom led us all in worship. You don’t know Brendan and Alison but let me tell you, that was just so “them”.
 IMG_7060  IMG_7063  IMG_7067 copy  Look closely and you might see a repeat of bridesmaids from TMO’s wedding.
img_6620IMG_7074 Parents, Bride and Groom prayed together after the vows were said. We have come to know this as the “Shellhaas Huddle”.
IMG_7080BW This may, perhaps, be my favorite picture from the entire day. It is just so them.
Mr. and Mrs. Brendan Haggerty!
And then it was on to the reception. And I will be honest. I took about 5 pictures after this point. And why did the picture taking grind to a halt you might ask? 

Well, it is because at the reception I got to visit long and hard with some people that I don’t get to see very often.
IMG_2048ASee that woman in the middle? That is Mary my twin sister separated at birth. She is the sister of my heart and I miss her cuz she had the audacity to move to Little Rock. When I still had short hair people often mistook us one for the other from the back.
IMG_2050 And then there was Diana. Oh Diana. It seems like we see each other all the time because she stalks me on Facebook and Twitter we communicate frequently over the internet. For her and her alone I write my Elixir of Life Haikus because she LOVES them so and she thinks that I am a totally terrible wonderful haiku writer. She is the journalist so she should know. I might have mentioned Diana here. Diana is also the founder of ShareWik which is just the most awesome place to hang out. You need to go over there right now and join and get involved in the community.

And so, we partied and talked and ate and then came home and collapsed because it was just an excellent day.

And Sue? You don’t ever have to do this again you lucky girl!!!

There is a Post I Swear there Is!

OK. There is a post out there. But it is a bit slow in coming. That is because I do most if not all of my blogging using LiveWriter and for some reason it is taking so long to post today that it is timing out. Once I get this all set then it will be there I promise.

Frustration runs high at the moment.

I think I need to go and pull some weeds just to cool off.

I am odd that way.

Friday, June 25, 2010

7 Quick Takes (Vol 75)

Wow, how time doth fly and here it is Friday again. Remember to click on the picture above to fly, like Glinda in Wicked, over to Conversion Diary to read what everyone else has been doing.

We experienced an earthquake on Wednesday. It was actually centered around Ottawa, Canada but we sure felt the earth move around here. I was sitting on the couch and all of a sudden the couch was moving and the weights in the grandfather clock were banging around and things were rattling. It was a very strange experience although one that I have had before. It just takes you by surprise since this is Northeast Ohio after all and not a place that is generally known for earthquakes.

I thought a huge truck was rumbling by at first but since I live at the end of a cul de sac that wasn’t likely.

HHBL and I watched Avatar on Saturday night…..nothing like doing things right away. Now, if you loved this movie then you might want to just skip right on to #3 in the Quick Takes.

OK, for those of you who stayed, the only good thing that I can say about this movie is that it certainly was visually stunning and appealing.

Otherwise it was James Cameron trying to shovel a bunch of PC crappola into my brain. Sorry, in my dislike I used the word crappola. I will try to be better. No thanks Jim, I think I will pass. I am just plain tired of all the Hollywood movies employing the themes of the evil military and the big, bad corporation.
I feel better now that I have that out of my system.

Cartoon Girl sent me a little gift this week. She found them in a little shop in Manhattan.
IMG_7003 They are salt and pepper shakers! Aren’t they just the cutest things.
IMG_7005 Hey, how did they get a picture of what my toenails look like at the moment?

We all know that I love to knit. And if you don’t know this then you haven’t been hanging around here very long. So, over on Ravelry (remember, Facebook for knitters) I belong to a group called Summer of Socks. Have I told you that my favorite thing to knit is socks? Love it, love it, love it.

So, Summer of Socks starts June 21st and ends September 1st. We all set goals if we want and we knit socks. No big pressure. Just knittin’.

 My goal…..

4 pair of socks by September 1st. I have some doubts as I am also knitting a bunch of other things. However my knit sibs at Tri-County Knitaholics seem to think that I can do this.
I will keep you all posted. I am about 1/4 of the way done with the first pair.

Poor HHBL had to sleep in one of the other bedrooms on Wednesday night because I was snoring so loudly and weirdly. The sore throat and everything that I have been dealing with this week has made it very difficult for me to sleep. I couldn’t swallow, I couldn’t cough because it hurt too much. I had post nasal drainage..too much info?

We would both tell you that we snore. His usual snoring doesn’t bother me, mine doesn’t bother him. And besides, that is why they make earplugs.

But the snoring that I was doing the other night was so loud and weird that he just couldn’t take it and he bailed. I felt so bad. But at least he got a good night’s sleep.

And my throat is finally on the mend.

We have a wedding to go to on Saturday and TMO and TSiL are here for that this weekend. TMO is Matron of Honor at the wedding. It will be at our old church which will be strange. It isn’t that we left the church in a huff, we weren’t mad at anyone. It wasn’t that we were leaving something it was that we were going to something. A church and church family that is much better suited to us.

But I rabbit trail. I am excited because I know I am going to see a bunch of people that I haven’t seen in a bunch of time, like my friend Diana (Hi Diana!!) who lives in another state. We send each other emails, FB stuff and tweets but we haven’t see each other in a LONG time. I talked here about how Diana had an influence, for good we think, on me.

And there will be others there who I haven’t seen in a while. And we get to see Alison become Mrs. Brendan Haggerty which is really exciting and what we are there for in the first place.

Saturday is going to be so much fun.

You know what I love about living in semi-rural obscurity, the owls at night. Talking to each other in the woods. Owl smack I imagine about who is most silent, who eats the most mice, who makes the biggest owl pellets……well, maybe not the last one.

Man I love them.

I have heard them A LOT this week as I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since Saturday I think. There I go whining again.

I just thought that you should know.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chocolate Covered Key Lime Bars

I am sorry. I am going to insist that you make these.

You. Must.

I most likely should start at the beginning and give you a bit of background before laying on the pictures and recipe. My mouth is watering.

I love Key Lime pie. It is my second favorite pie in the world right behind my momma’s apple pie. Several years ago, when we were on a family cruise, the ship stopped for a day in Key West. And there I had what can only be described as the most perfect summer afternoon treat. Never mind that it was January and the temp in Key West was a brisk 55F. These were, were, were….wonderful. Frozen Chocolate Covered Key Lime Pie on a stick. Lord. Have. Mercy. I figured that when I got home I could just order some.

And I could…..

$100 for 10 of them.


And so I let the dream go. Until I found this recipe. And then the dream was revived. And lives. And I am going to pass it along to you.

Hold onto your hats, and your waist lines.

IMG_6953A This is what you are going to start out with. All beautiful things that love to be combined. Sorry, I forgot to label the different parts in the picture. I am a bear of very little brain.
IMG_6952 I love these eggs. They come from my Sister-in-law. Or more specifically it came from one of the chickens that my sister-in-law keeps. The blue ones and the green ones are my favorite.
IMG_6956A First you put the graham cracker crumbs and the sugar into a bowl.
IMG_6958AThen you add melted butter. Oh is there anything that isn’t made better with melted butter.
IMG_6960A Take the fork that you see in the corner of the picture above and stir everything around until all the crumbs and sugar are enrobed with the melted butter. Nom, Nom, Nom.
IMG_6961  Just a bit closer in. Of course, I didn’t get it very sharply focused. But sometimes things just need to be out of focus. We will just assume that I meant to be artsy fartsy.
IMG_6962 Smooth all the crumbs out and squish them down into a greased 8 in glass pan and bake in the oven. The smell, oh the smell.

Now it is time to start on the Key Lime part of this.
IMG_6964A The yolks and the lime zest go into the bowl of the mixer where you are going to beat the heck out of them with the whisk attachment.

IMG_6967A The whisk attachment is going to fast that you can’t even see it.
IMG_6969AOh yes, sweetened condensed milk. The recipe said to pour this is a slow and steady stream. Um, have you ever tried to pour this stuff in a steady stream. It wasn’t happening. It just glorped out in one gooey mess.
I let it.

After that you add the key lime juice. I forgot to take a picture of that. This is also where I remind you that regular lime juice is not Key Lime juice and cannot be substituted for it. And I can also tell you that I so wasn’t going to squeeze 23-25 little Key Limes. Buy the juice in a bottle. You can find it at your grocery store I am sure.
IMG_6971A Then the Key Lime portion gets poured over the graham cracker crust and put back into the oven for no more than 10 minutes. You want it to bake long enough to set the custard but you do not want it to brown.
And then you refrigerate it after it is baked. For at least 4 hours but 24 is better. And then you cut them up…….and if one breaks well you just have to test it. We wouldn’t want to hand out a bad product would we?

IMG_6973 If you will notice I have the squares on a wire rack on a baking sheet. That is because they are going into the freezer now. It will be cold in there but it will be good for them. They will thank you.
IMG_6974A Oooooooo Mommy.

So you put them in the freezer and go off to do something else, like maybe knit on a baby gift for someone…….
And then about 30 minutes before the freezer time is done you start on the chocolate ganache.
IMG_6975There isn’t anything that also can’t be improved with the judicious application of chocolate and cream.
IMG_6993 You put the chocolate chips in a metal bowl. You heat the cream and butter just until boiling and then you pour it over the chips. That is why they need to be in a metal bowl.

And then you leave it for 5 minutes. Please stifle the urge to poke at the chips. They don’t like it and it doesn’t make anything go faster. Just leave them alone with their lover, the cream, and let them be together.

Good grief, have I been reading romance novels?

After the 5 minutes have passed then you add the vanilla and just dust some instant coffee powder over the mixture. Do not go overboard on the coffee dust.
And then you whisk it into shape.
IMG_6996 This is actually a really great recipe to know because you can cool it and whip it into the most decadent chocolate frosting. And then you can put the frosting on things like cupcakes or cake or your finger or…..
Oh yes, where was I.
IMG_6998 Then it is time to dip them in the ganache. Not a great picture but it was hard to take the picture with one hand and dip with the other. You get what I am doing.
IMG_7000 It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. When you are done you put the bars right back in the freezer until they are totally frozen. Then they can be put in an airtight container and kept in the freezer.

I have to honest and say that the first batch of these that I made never made it to the airtight container. We just ate them straight off the wire rack.

Now I need to go and brew a cup of Joy Juice to go with this.

You didn’t think I wouldn’t eat one right away did you?

EDIT: Some have had trouble with the link for the recipe. If you can't get it to work (it works for me!) then email me and I will send it to you.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Internet is Finally back

Well, I had another post planed for today....but then we had an earthquake.

I am not kidding about the earthquake. I will tell you about it on Friday I think.

And then we had storms that knocked out the cable, which means that I don't have internet.

How rude!

Thankfully the cable didn't go out when I was watching the USA-Algeria World Cup Soccer game. Now that might have really made my blood boil.

But once I got the internet back then I just had to go on and find some useless information. My day wasn't going to be complete until I could add to my wealth of useless info. The progeny will tell you that my gray matter is stuffed with useless facts. I mean, I am sure that some day I will have to quickly tell someone the names of the 4 Japanese aircraft carriers that were sunk at the battle of Midway. It is important.

At any rate, I was surfing the 'net once I could get back on and I stumbled upon the list of names for the 2010 Hurricane Season.


So here they are for your edification. I am helpful that way.


I just hope we don't get all the way down the list because I just can't imagine a Hurricane Walter. It just doesn't fit some how.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In Which I am A Whiner

I hate being sick.

Did you know that? Well, I am here to tell you that I don’t like it, not one little bit. And it would seem that my nasal passages and my throat have decided to team up and make my day miserable. And my night too for that matter.

And I was so going to dazzle you with some pictures today and witty reparte. But it is not to be. No, I am maxed out on ibuprophen (800mg at a time thankyouverymuch) and my brain has decided to take a vacation to some fun place and not take me along. The stinker.

No, someone took a blow torch to my throat and stuffed cotton into my nasal passages (TMI?) and then left me to my fate. And I don’t want this. I have things to do, places to go, socks to knit and a house that really needs to be cleaned before TMO and TSiL arrive on Thursday for the weekend. TMO is in a wedding, her oldest and dearest friend and also her maid of honor. And I have to get better by then because this girl is like another daughter to me, even though she doesn’t like my dog. Or any dogs for that matter. And HHBL and I are going to the wedding.

HHBL will be wearing a suit and there is no way on God’s green earth that I am going to miss that!


So, now that I have finished sewing the little project that I had to sew for Alison’s wedding (the sashes for the bridesmaids dresses) I am going to go and lie down and knit and have a Dr. Pepper because I KNOW that is going to make me feel better.

Cuz I sure don’t feel all that good right now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

There Are Those Days…….

I did have a wonderful post all planned on a Cleveland Indians baseball game that we attended a little time back.

I know, you are thinking that that couldn’t be all that pleasant considering that they are just horrible this year and that if there is a way to lose a game they will find it.

But the post isn’t done. HHBL and I had fun and the Indians actually managed to win a game and there were fireworks and other things……maybe it will be done tomorrow.

I apologize from the bottom of my shriveled little heart. I really do.

This is all that I can come up with today because, after I did my Monday errands, did I mention that I do my errands on Monday and have for the past 25 years? Don’t make me do grocery shopping on any other day because I am not sure that I could. It would just throw my gray matter into a tizzy and then what would happen.

I am afraid to contemplate it.

Oh, yes…so after I did all my errands and came home I decided to finish up a pair of socks that I had been knitting.

These are what I have finished
IMG_6948Their official name is “Oh How They Sparkle” and they really do. The sock yarn has this sparkly quality to it that you just can’t see in the picture. If it wasn’t 85F today then I might actually have them on my feet.
But I don’t think so.

They are the companion to these 
img_5996 These are “Sparkly Heels and Toes” and yes they do. These lovelies went to live with my momma for Mother’s Day and every day after that. They will keep her tootsies warm and red is her favorite color.

The yarns were a gift from my dear friend Cindy (Hi Cindy!!) to help with my recovery, last year, from that little bit of surgery that I had. There was definitely enough to get two pairs of socks out of them (and more left over!) and I have finally gotten around to doing them. They turned out lovely if I do say so myself (patting self on back).

And when I was done then I cast on the next pair of socks. I will tell you all about that later I would guess.
AND tonight is knitting night with my knitting siblings……….

Playing with pointy sticks. I do that so that I don’t kill people.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

He’s No Lower Echelon Drone

Just a big if short Happy Father’s Day to my dad.
DSCN3012BWThe man who taught me that
- books are good and should be devoured regularly and with gusto.
- it is not a good idea to put your hand under the running lawn mower. 
- a well written letter can get your point across
- it is right and proper for everything to be organized. But just so long as you know where everything in your office is then it can be slightly chaotic.
- yes cookies are a food group. And necessary to life itself.
- coffee is essential to brain function.
- water cascading into the basement can be taken care of with a good wet/dry vac
- I’m not an aggressive driver I just know what I am doing and you do not!
- Yes, I can take pictures of everything and make my children crazy. It is a parental right.
- I will expect that you will do as I have asked. Right. Now.
- laughter is essential to the daily fabric of our lives.
- if there is dog poop in the yard then it is a certainty that someone will step in it.
- Expecting 100% in others starts with expecting 110% of yourself
- black licorice ice cream and bubble gum ice cream are not a good combo.
- it is not a good idea to make a right turn at 30mph if you do not know how to downshift.
- it is possible, with efficient planning, to always be on time.
- there are never enough pens and pads of paper.
- a clean car is a happy car. 

Thanks Dad for being you! I love you.

Now go and eat a cookie and have a big cup of coffee. It’s good for you.