Thursday, February 24, 2011

Portland....NO SCHOOL!!! There's an Inch of Snow!!

I will say our little land here in the NW is pretty hilly.  Surrounding the valley which is not very vast.. are several steep mountains.  We have Mt. Scott, Mt. Tabor, Mt. Park, Pete's MOUNTAIN, Parrett MOUNTAIN, Cooper MOUNTAIN, Sylvan HILLS, Beaverton HILLSdale, Sylvania HILLS, Raleigh HILLS, Portland HEIGHTS, Bull MOUNTAIN, etc.  So those people from the midwest who laugh at the NW for closing schools at any sign of snow flurries have to realize we are flat, car, and plow challenged.   We are just not used to driving in this stuff...many buses can't get up and down the small roads and high hills to get students, which if we left them out and just opened it to the kids in the flat lands, it wouldn't be politically correct to allow flat land kids to get ahead.  Strangely enough, on a day with no school due to horrendous weather, kids are remarkably able to make it to the mall and movies by 10am. 

I'm not going to lie, there are times, most the time, I love snow days so we can sleep in! That all sounds great the night before at 11pm when we see the flurries coming, but why the heck are the kids able to pop out of bed on a sleep-in snow day when I'm practically starting fires under their bums to get them going on regular school days!!  I remember as a kid listening to 1190 KEX wondering if they were going to announce that my school was closed.  It seems all the schools in the area were closed and then they'd get to our district and it would ALWAYS be open or only 2 hours late... grr.  There were constant threats of hosing down the Super Intendant's driveway at 1am so he'd wake up,  slip on the ice, and call in a definite NO SCHOOL Day.   The worst era was when news stations didn't have the software to keep the scrolling list of closures on the bottom on during commercials!! They would JUST  get to the letter "L" and break for a commercial, leaving all of L-Z schools on pins and needles and wasting precious sleep time. Back on the air they would start the list over again, starting with the "A"s!!!!! who are already back in their beds sleeping soundly!  You have to watch the list 3 or 4 times through JUST to be sure that your school was NOT mistakenly left off the list.. only to finally surrender and get in the shower, get ready in record time, and then come out to see in fact your school JUST got cancelled!!

Weather People & News:   Ok, first let me say I am a news watcher.. I love the first headlines, hate leading questions, love cute weather men (Rob Marciano KATU was never the same) and generally find it quite informative unless of course I get sucked in to the 10 O'clock news on channel 12 where painfully we have to hear about every Sex Offender in Salem and surrounding areas for the first 20 minutes and other stories that eventually all make their way to the Jerry Springer Show.  But what takes the cake in our area is STORM TEAM COVERAGE!!!  When you have a team that gets to report rain and light sunny skies and a few hot days in the summer.. a "Winter Blast" looks much like the snow fall in the sugar plum ferry scene of the Nutcracker.   Nonetheless blue Northface Jackets are pulled from the "winterware closet" and it is covered and over covered by "Storm Team" where they find themselves standing in the "storm" and like today reporting well.. nothing!  I will say it was quite entertaining in 2002 when there was a poor weather girl standing in the gorge clinging to a pole telling us how windy it was.. Nah... Really?  I actually wonder how much she got paid for that gig.  Probably just climbing up the "anchor wanna be ladder" and at least there was something to report.  But today there was NOTHING to report on after 6am and they would not stop reporting!!! The Storm Team was relentless pointing out DRY pavement!!! I was thinking.. you have got to be kidding screaming at the TV "Put back on the Today Show".  THANKFULLY they stopped the "Storm Team" coverage and the network after reading thousands of NW tweets saying "WHY ARE THEY STILL ON.. THERE IS NO SNOW""MY KIDS ARE HOME, I WANT MY SHOW!!"  "HEADING DOWN TO THE STUDIO TO CAUSE A RUKUS"  which seemed to be the final tweet that flipped the big switch to Kathy Lee and Hoda.. THAT was the second cheer for me of the day after hearing there was no school.   What better way to celebrate the "blue coats" of the Portland Storm Team then to make an original Spears Video.  Enjoy and make sure you tune in for your latest school closures and watch out for the slush.

Live With Anita Break Hype News NW

My "Happy" Book

Years ago I created a "Happy Book" of things I pull out of magazine that just looking at makes me happy.  If you recently read my other blog becoming more domestic I posted about my cheap decorating therapy of painting my shabby furniture black.  Everyone was given strict instructions when they came home to NOT touch or sit on anything that is black in the house.  Which then my 9 year proceeded to do what sarcastic kids of sarcastic parents do and place his finger inches away from the wet surface saying "I'm not touching it."  Part of this "therapy" was also visiting a wonderful shop that inspired and honed my defining decorative beast within me that was having trouble knowing exactly who she was in the home style world.

Back to the Happy Book, it was time to purge clippings last night.  I found several in there that were obvious times of confusion and not knowing what truly brought my heart happiness.  Those were the first to go and quickly.  I also purged items that were just out dated and not the direction I was heading in my new found decorative "coming out" world.  I was surprised what brought me happiness in my early 30's raising 3 little people under the age of 3.  I remember looking though those pages several times back then dreaming of a day when I could decorate like that or come close to it.  Funny how none of the photos in magazines show "real life".  I would have had a cuter house if I wasn't spending $150 on diapers and formula each month, (ok I tried the BF thing for a few months, and yeah... anyway) and had time to shop and clean up the army of toys we had everywhere, which now have turned into 3000 lego pieces.. a work in progress.  But seriously I had some cute ideas, just didn't feel like I ever could complete the "look" that was in my head and my happy book! Of course this only became more of a depressing failure when going to other young mom's houses that had the "flair" that I so wanted.  

My husband knows about my happy book and saw my stack of purge clippings and looked a little confused and shocked.  I said "yeah, those just don't make me happy anymore".  I replaced the pages with my newest clippings and feel so completely happy while turning every page! It's like the ultimate magazine designed just for me.  Even if the pages never translate over to my walls, it's a great little book to flip through for ideas when I'm ready to tackle a project bit by bit.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentines Day A Defining Competition

Yay, Valentines Day was finally on a Monday! I liked that because it gave us all weekend to get the 80 valentine cards done.   Normally, we procrastinate and leave it to the night before making the whole joy of giving Valentines a little stressful.  I did find myself passed out around 1pm today recovering from all the craftings that took place this last weekend!

Years ago I was pretty excited to do the Valentine cards with my daughter when she was the only child in school.  Later, when her two little brothers were in school we were doing about 90 cards!! Not only that, each one HAD to have a piece of candy with it.  If you show up to a classroom in the new Millennium and don’t include a candy with your Valentine, you might as well just head straight to the bathroom and give yourself a swirley. 

This was all news to me as I remembered back when I was a kid, where we just gave the cards. There was the occasional exception when the “cooler than cool kid” gave everyone in the class a box of Heart Message candies. This all setting the stage for elections to come in High School of Prom King and Queen! Gosh, I wish I would’ve known that.

This year, deciding to get a jump on the card buying and addressing, I quickly picked out the 2 boxes of random Valentines thinking it really is all about the candy now, and purchased the cheapest, largest bag of candies all while the boys were at school… Perfect! I came home and revealed this year’s Valentines cards saying to my two elementary age boys “Ok one of you gets Sponge Bob and the other gets to hand out these Tattoo ones the “Mr. Men Little Miss cards.”  Well, you would have thought I just said we were eating cow tongue for dinner because the look on their faces was blank and a little horrified.  Apparently, Valentines hold greater weight than I knew of, defining who you are as a person and what defines your very essence of being.   ARE YOU SERIOUS???

Alright, back to the store to get cooler Valentine cards, more “character defining” ones. I asked on our way out what would have happened if they would have passed the ones I bought out to their class.  To my shock my son says, “the kids would have taken me out to the back of the school and stuffed my head in a waste basket!” Well Happy Valentines Day!!!
Seems like more and more school projects become a “family project”. After all, I just got done making an entire pilgrim village! So now we get a sheet that was sent home describing the valentines box the child had to make and the criteria of the CONTEST!!!! (It seems when I was a child this was all part of getting ready for the big heart day and doubled for a craft in class when we made our Valentines pouches? )  Well, one look at the word CONTEST, and I am all in!!!!  We decided on a Pirate Ship, but unfortunately, I didn’t read the fine print of the rules and we strayed from the colors so I wasn’t sure if he would be disqualified.

We finally finished our Valentines prep at 9:30p Valentines Eve (Again)with lots of activities outside the house on the weekend that made for last minute details for V day.  I guess some things will never change, but lo and behold who came home with the Hershey Bar?!! Yep we won first place for Creative Unique box!  I mean “Owen” won first place… He asked “Mom do I have to share my bar with you?”  Ha, of course.. give me that!!! (just kidding, I let him enjoy it all to himself)
Happy Post Valentines Day… I’m tired! (But did get my $2.50 back for the Sponge Bob rejected cards) 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

One Person I Will Get On a Plane For

You know I love music, but I'm not one of those people who have a list of bands I follow or a particular artist that I would go miles to see unless of course her name is Amy Grant.  I am one of those "sappy" fans that when meeting Amy on several occasions says "I've been to every concert since I was 8 years old".  WOW now that is original, I'm sure she hasn't heard THAT before!!  She always is so gracious and kind and makes people feel special anyway. It is nuts as I secretly think maybe we'll have a connection in this brief 30 seconds, maybe she'll want be pen pals.  I realize that is so 4th grade!!! But that's about the age I was when she first signed her album to me and that's the pathetic behavior that comes out when I meet her.  
My family helped me celebrate my milestone birthday by flying us girls to Arizona to see Amy and Michael W. Smith for their Two Friends Tour! What a better way to bring in this next decade of my life listening to music that literally shaped my growing up years and beyond.   I hate to fly, but felt that the 23 hour drive on a weekend just didn't make sense and I was not going to miss this concert!  
We get to the airport with plenty of time to eat and relax before our flight.  Get to the gate only to realize our plane has already called for boarding!!  The "A" ticket holders have already found their seats on the plane and the other 75 "B" people are staring at our group of 4 disappointed late "A" holders squeeze in the "B" line.  Still dumfounded at the mistake and worried about seat placement my sister is visibly shocked at the airlines early call to boarding!! I say.. "um are we sure we are the right flight?" Which when re-looking at our boarding pass realized that in fact our plane was taking off from the next gate over, the one where all the "A" passengers are quietly seated playing on their phones. We excuse ourselves from the "B" line and giggle our way to the next gate.  Once on the plane my previously dumfounded sister who went ahead of me, quickly picks the very first row!! The seats with the leg room and the one that if you hit a mountain or anything instead of the runway you will be the first to die after the pilot!!! This just did not sit well with me so I sat with my mom in isle 2 which for me still wasn’t as safe as it should be near the wing.
We arrived safely (thankfully) and spent our first day shopping in Scottsdale.  We scouted a few dinner places thought our idea of eating at a Mexican restaurant was a great one until we decided to leave a great little place and find something that didn't have a 20 minute wait and perhaps closer to the concert venue. (Note to self, stick with the 20 minute wait!) We ended up driving around for the next 45 minutes trying to find a suitable place to eat.  Hungry women in a new city and not finding anything can lead to some stressful moments, but we finally found a Mexican place that looked rather popular.   It was great food, but I ask you, when was the last time you were at a Mexican place that didn't have Hispanic music piping through the place. That just comes with the ticket! Instead as I'm biting into my enchilada I hear Barbara Streisand singing "Memories, like the corner of my mind".. ok that combination was not on menu and about as odd as putting a baby to sleep listening to heavy metal music.  With a half hour to go until show time we load up and head to the arena thinking once again we had plenty of time, only to find a huge long line of cars waiting to turn into one parking lot.  There was one line from the east, one from the west, one from the south, and one clueless parking lot attendant that seemed to favor the south lane!!  This is where all the Christian love and patience was highly tested by all concert goers as the line of car drivers were becoming more impatient as the 7:30 start time was quickly approaching.  Nice husbands of their "Amy Grant fan wives" started prompting them to walk, which my sisters nicely told my mom and me to do as well since it was my Birthday.  After all, I'm sure they won't start right at 7:30!   We walk in the door at 7:30 and hear her starting to sing.  Ok, I guess they do start on time. 
The venue was really great with a center rotating stage so every seat was a good one.  Our seats were 7th row which was close enough to see spit flying and quickly noticing that these two artists have been taking the right supplements in Tennessee showing no signs of aging and sounding the same 32 years into their career!  The second thing I notice is the NEW GIRL!!!!  Ok, I am used to Kim Keys singing with Amy for the last 10+ years and respect her greatly for her talent, even though I would arm wrestle her for the gig, but suddenly there is a NEW and YOUNGER girl!   I'm thinking why on earth did I not see this job opening on last year when I was searching.  After all, I would be perfect for that position, we're Facebook and Twitter friends,  I know all your lyrics, songs, harmonies and doo whops needed to back you up! I have every album, some signed, you books, and other tour treats from the last 30+ years, I started singing because of YOU AMY come on give me a break for once! This girl up there wasn't even born when albums 1-20 were released and probably as no idea what an ICON she is singing back up for!! Amy then introduces her as her "I do" daughter.... OHHHHH ok, It’s Vince Gills Daughter!! Ok that fits the bill, I think I’ll take off my on stage glittering outfit and get back into my concert fan gear..

The thing I always love about Amy and Michael is their transparency, love for the Lord and that you can listen to them for hours and never want to leave.  Their songs are subjects we all deal with in life and you can tell they love what they do (wouldn’t we all!)
The crowd was eating it up, especially the 4 women in the front row I noticed while we were all singing “Open the Eyes” (of my heart LORD), which sadly they got a little carried away and mixed up with the memory and feeling they had in 1981 in the front row, when Amy unveiled the song “Too Late” complete with the electric guitar solo that rocked the Christian world off their rockers. (The same song that as a result, helped boost record sales through the roof for Sandy Patti that year from the over 40 generation, who cried foul, only later having to tuck their SP albums away too.)

So there I was realizing I just needed to close my eyes to open my heart so I wouldn’t be distracted by these women practicing their Zumba routines before the Lord and everyone else in the tight cozy arena.  It was quite the scene especially during the chorus.
Amy's Tour Bus
 The night closed with a encore of A & MWS singing the “Friends” song (see video) and us following the tour bus for a little bit until we chickened out enough to not go to the hotel they were staying at.  (For the record my middle sister did not chicken out if she is reading this)  I do have some sense of giving a person their space and not making a complete idiot of my self which has come with turning 40.
Thankfully Amy will be in Portland in September which hopefully by then she will realize the benefits of having a 3rd back up singer!! I have my resume ready if I see the posting.

Our trip home followed the same theme of arriving late to the gate even though we were 3 hours early. Thanks to the change in time to a later take off, and then having them switch it again to the original take off we ended up sprinting to security and to our gate where the line of “A” passengers were already lined up!  We thought my middle sister would be staying the night in Arizona as she took about 8 minutes to locate her I.D. for security.  I was a little disappointed that the hype of TSA pat downs was not enforced on me, especially after seeing the one employee in Portland that I gladly opted for his line.  My oldest sister wised up this time and chose NOT to wear the studded jeans through security, something that held her up about 15 minutes it seemed on the way out of Portland. I always thought that if they just put the 50 most beautiful celebrities in TSA uniforms, there would be no fuss from the travelers. 

Here is a link to Amy’s discography (yes I own them all in some form) It was a great way to celebrate this next decade of my life, Thanks Family, and thanks Amy and Michael!
Michael W Smith & Amy Grant
Two Friends Tour

Keywords: Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Christian Music, Two Friends Tour, Concerts

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Flashback to 8th Grade-Blueberry Coffe Cake

So, I open my oven and take one whiff of the blueberry coffee cake and I have this major flashback from 8th grade Home Economics class! I know! crazy huh? Most of us remember the guys had to take "shop" which I gladly signed up for the second semester in order to be around the cute boys, so pathetic. The girls took Home Economics where we learned to sew and bake and the finer things of keeping one's home and heart happy, I must have slept through the keeping house organized lesson. I remember there were a few boys who opted for the class because of food and the girls, only realizing their foolish choice when it came to sewing a stuffed teddy bear project. I enjoyed the class, and my teacher, until the day I decided to play a joke on one of my friends in my kitchen group. The joke went too far when I got side tracked and forgot and walked out of the room to my next class. It wasn't until the next day my teacher with a stern look on her face said "T" has lost her purse and remembers this was the last place she had it yesterday, does anyone remember seeing it"? Gulp. I'm pretty sure my face was so flushed that the teacher didn't need to ask anymore probing questions, but waited for the final confession of the "straight "A" sewer and cooker" with the beet red face to slowly raise her hand. I said I was sooooooo sorry and announced that I played a joke and hid it behind the stove! Sure enough walking over to the lemony yellow stove, the purse was nestled in the same place where I put it the previous day. I think "T" pretty much hated me the rest of the year. Afterall, no one messes with an 8th grade girl's brown leather purse with lip gloss, stickers of Madonna and signed trading cards from the local professional hockey team, which I never really understood what all the hype was about, but for what it's worth Winter Hawks you rock! And "T" of you ever read this and remember that frightful day, I really am sincerely sorry and I think I ended up with a "B" in that class as a consequence.

Blueberry Coffee Cake
This turned out, well.. pretty amazing! I loved this recipe. Often blueberry things get mushy when there are too many blueberrys in the mix. I thought this was a great way to prepare it and the ratio was just right.

This antique plate I found at a garage sale for $10 bucks
I recently saw the same on Ebay for $60 but I love it too much to sell.

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake

This is an easy blueberry streusel coffee cake.
It can be baked in a square or round layer-cake pan.
I found this recipe at There are others there too that look yummy and the BEST blueberry's for the price are in Costco's Frozen section.
Great for smoothies too!

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries fresh or frozen

Topping - In small mixing bowl, combine topping ingredients. Blend with fork until crumbly. Set aside.

Sift 1 1/2 cups sifted flour with baking powder and salt into a bowl. In a medium bowl, beat together beaten egg and 3/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup melted butter.Add milk and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture and mix well.

Pour 1/2 the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square or 9-inch layer-cake pan. Sprinkle with blueberries and top with remaining batter.

Sprinkle topping crumb mixture evenly over batter. Bake at 375° for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cake tests done. Partially cool in pan on wire rack. Cut coffee cake into squares while still warm.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Boys + Chili = well you know

This Post Brought to You by The Makers of Beano

So, am I asking for trouble making a really good chili? Yep I think so especially after the boys each had 3 bowls. Let the rumbling war begin. Probably should have made this on a Friday night, which would be more considerate to their schoolmates, but too late.

I know there are probabaly amazing chili recipes out there, and mine could have used a little more zip, which come to find out I may have left a few things out accidently. I was just thankful I had 9 out of the 10 ingredients already in my kitchen. A late run to the store for the final item worked fine.

After throwing all the ingredients in the crock pot, so easy, I had ample time to make some Jiffy cornbread mix real quick. (note if leaving this for husband, he might text you for honey, be sure to have some on hand, sadly I didn't :( )

1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 rib of celery, chopped
29 oz can of stewed tomatoes (I left that out!)
2 16 oz cans Chili Beans, Undrained
1/2 cup of Ketchup
1 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
2 tsp vinegar
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce ( I can't say that)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dry mustard (oops forgot this)
1 TBSP Chili Powder
2 6oz cans of tomato paste

Brown ground beef, celery, onions, Drain Place in Slow cooker
Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix well
Cover, Cook on Low 8-10 hours or High 4-5 (I did high)
Serve with Fresh Warm Cornbread
Recipe from "Fix it and Forget It Cookbook"
I was hoping for a little stronger reaction but I think he likes it.