Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 - The Year In Review

Well, another year has almost come to an end.

2005 was a fairly "difficult" year for me in many ways - -

** My co-worker, Betty, retired after 6-1/2 years of she and I working so well together. I miss her so much, but I'm happy for her. She is enjoying life "on the outside", spending time in her garden and seeing her granddaughters a lot more now. Someday it will be MY turn . . . *sigh*

** They decided not to replace Betty when she retired. We have a very busy office, and she and I were always swamped. But instead of replacing her, they gave my boss an assistant to help her out. I'm all for that, because she is a VERY busy lady in a VERY busy office. HOWEVER - - the situation now is very different; instead of ONE administrator with TWO administrative assistants, it is TWO administrators with ONE very stressed-out administrative assistant . . .

And they wonder why I'm on Prozac????? *sheesh*

** The year is ending on a sad note for me. The past week has been a very difficult one. I have two friends that have been on my mind constantly - -

One was (yes, past tense) a retired administrator from the public school district, where I used to work. After retiring in the early 90's, he came back for a short time when the personnel director (my boss), was called up to active duty and sent over to Iraq for Operation Desert Storm. He was a very kind man and wonderful to work for. He was my boss for 6 months, and it was good. Since then, I would see him around town periodically, and it was always nice to get to talk to him and catch up on things. He was very involved in community activities, and was president of the county fair board of directors. In fact, he was very instrumental in putting the fair back in the black and kept it going for many years. One of the fundraisers he helped organize was bingo, to help raise funds for the fair. Last week, he and the other volunteers were cleaning up after bingo was over. All the volunteers except him and one other man were outside putting trash in the dumpsters. A masked man came into the building, shot him in the chest, and stole the small fire safe he was carrying with the bingo proceeds in it. My friend died at the hospital 20 minutes later. No one except him and the other man saw anything. Leads are nearly non-existent at this point. Needless to say, I'm upset, and more than a little angry.

The same day this happened, I received a phone call from another friend's husband, telling me that my friend was in the hospital, and had been there for FOUR MONTHS! She is dealing with many, many problems with her health, and they are not sure when she will be able to come back home. This situation is a long story, and will probably require a post of its own. Let's just say that there is a LONG history here, that I have known my friend since I was 18, and do not want anything to do with her husband. I do not like him, and do not feel that I can trust him. I cannot bring myself to be around him, and because of this, it has been over 10 years since I have been to see my friend. We do keep in touch by phone, cards, and letters, but we have not spent any time together. I cannot say any more than that at this time. HOWEVER - - once I found out about her being in the hospital, I made a point of getting over there and seeing her. We spent a LONG time together, did a lot of catching up, and I will see her again soon. But not when her husband is around. Period. More about this later.

The whole year has not been bad, though. We have had lots of good experiences also:

** Hubby Steve and I got our house plans drawn up, finalized, and blueprints made. We are now in the process of receiving bids from the contractors we contacted. Hopefully we will be deciding on a contractor sometime in January. I have another *blog* describing this project - - check it out sometime.

** Our grandsons are growing up big and strong and healthy, keeping everyone (especially mom and dad!) on their toes. They are my little men . . . .

** After many years of wanting one and not seeing any way of obtaining one, I was able to get the vehicle of my dreams. Thanks to Dear Hubby Steve and his knowledge of vehicles, we were able to get an incredible deal on a 2005 Jeep Liberty! It's my "baby" - - drives great, gets me through anything, and I just LOVE it! :-)

** I was given the opportunity to do some more teaching this year - - Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and some other Intro courses. Each class is offered through our Non-Credit division, and each one only lasts for 2 sessions. It's good experience, and a little extra "pocket change" never hurts! I would never want to teach full-time - - I definitely do NOT have the patience level for that! - - but doing this on a part-time basis is okay.

** Made an "A" in my Webpage classes, and will (hopefully!) have my website up and running shortly after the first of the year (oh my gosh - - that's TOMORROW, isn't it??? Guess I better get busy . . . . ).

Well, there you have it - - quite an "interesting" year - - some good, some bad. But thankfully, Hubby Steve and I and our families are well and healthy, we have wonderful friends that enrich our lives, and overall, life is pretty darned good.

I hope 2006 is a good year, not just for Steve and I, but for everyone.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Ahhhh - - Winter Break! It's A Wonderful Thing . . . .

Don't get me wrong - - I love my job. But Winter Break is the time I get my batteries "recharged". That's a GOOD thing. I haven't even THOUGHT of my job since Campus closed at 5:00 p.m. last Thursday.

And I don't plan on thinking about it until Campus re-opens next Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. :-)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Fa La La La La . . .

It's Christmas Eve!

It's going to be a GREAT Holiday season this year. Campus closed at 5 PM Thursday, Dec. 22nd, and we don't go back to work until Tuesday, Jan. 3rd. It could NOT come soon enough this year - - it's been kinda rough . . .

We thought Hubby Steve was going to have to work Holiday Shutdown at Cat, but he found out he doesn't have to! So we get to spend all next week together! We are both pretty happy about it. We had not made any plans because we thought he would be working, so we get to spend some "quality time" together here at home, and maybe make a day road trip somewehre next week - - IF we feel like it, that is!

AND - - I'm only wanting one day - - just ONE day - - for housecleaning. He's agreeable to that (what a sweetie!) because he knows we are having company next Friday for our annual little gathering of our group of close friends - - Judy and Curt, Jerry, Mike, Cindy, and Jan. They all have to work next week, unfortunately, but they have been told to just come on our to our house right after work on Friday, and everything would be here for them - - my Christmas treat to them. None of them are right in the head . . .
Should be fun . . . . . :-)

This afternoon we are going over to Hubby Steve's parents' house for Christmas Eve Dinner. Keith and Dawn and the Grandboys will be there, as well as Steve's brother and his family - - wife Debbie, and sons Sam, Luke, and Travis. Travis is home from Olivet Nazarene U. for Winter Break, and it will be good to spend time with him again. His girlfriend flew back home to San Deigo to be with her family, and she will be missed. I'll send her Christmas present with Travis so he can pass it on to her once they are back on campus.

I am bringing appetizers and desserts for the Dinner this evening. Tried a couple of new dip mixes to go with some crackers and fresh veggies. One is a dip called "Garlic Schmarlic" (*laugh*) and it is really good. They sell it at the Food Mart in Springfield, which is where I tried it at their Christmas Open House a couple of weeks ago. The other is a sundried tomato-pesto mix. It's got a great flavor also.

For desserts, I made a cinnamon swirl bundt cake with vanilla glaze. It smelled so good while it was baking! YUM!! I also had some mixes for pie fillings, so I made a White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse pie in an Oreo Cookie crust, and then a Lemon Mousse pie in a graham cracker crust. Unfortunately, no fudge or cookies this year. I didn't get ANY fudge made, and less than half of the cookies I usually make. Time (AND energy) was at a real premium this year. Oh well . . .

Can't wait to spend time with my Grandboys! It should be really fun this year. Alex is now 6, and just as energetic as all get-out. Jon is now 3, and just a total bundle of energy. It's gonna be fun, especially at present opening time - - bows and ribbons and papers flying everywhere - - ahhh, Christmas!!


Tomorrow we are heading down to my Dad's house to spend Christmas Day. I wanted to cook dinner and bring it down there, but he wouldn't hear of it. Instead, he made reservations at a restaurant. Said he didn't want me having to work on Christmas Day! What a sweetie.

After dinner we will be heading over to Auntie Ann's house to visit with the big ol' Italian Clan - - all the cousins and their families. Nothing like a big Italian family . . . I just love it!


Hubby Steve and I, along with our fur-kids Callie and Carmichael, wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! Stay safe and well, and have fun with your families.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Got My Grade . . .

I am totally shocked.


I got an "A" in my Web Authoring course!

Hot Damn and Hallelujia!!

I'm hoping Faith took into account the "meltdown" I was having over the Flash program we were using, and decided to be kind and give me high marks for effort.

I will be finalizing my website and getting it online soon. I'll post the address as soon as it's finished.


Thursday, December 15, 2005


The Final Project is done.


Checked out, zipped up, uploaded, submitted, DONE.


Yesterday Faith was able to help me figure out where I was on the Flash blog, and helped me get "unlost" with my Flash slideshow. I was TOTALLY lost on that! And the things she showed me to do, I would never have thought to look in those places and at those particular things. She said Flash is pretty strong on programming, and I have NO programming background AT ALL.

But it's done. And submitted. And ready to be graded.

HALLE - DAMN - LUIA!!!! :-)

(sorry about that - - it just had to come out . . . *laugh*)

And last night? For the first time in weeks? I slept SO HARD, ALL NIGHT LONG.

It felt great!

So NOW my attention turns to finishing up the gift wrapping, starting the Christmas Cookie baking (I have none of it started! *sigh*) - - and Christmas cards. Then cleaning a very sad, very neglected house before the Holidays.

Campus closes next Thursday, Dec. 22nd, at 5:00 p.m., and we don't come back to work until Tuesday, Jan. 3rd. Ahhhh - - Winter Break - - my favorite time of the work year! It can't come soon enough this year . . .

I hope you all are having a good week!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A LITTLE MORE Progress . . . . .

Well, we met with the instructor today to work on Final Projects. I now have 2 of the four Flash requirements up and running; the other 2 will (hopefully) be taken care of tomorrow. They are not PERFECT, not by any means, but good enough to count for credit. The 2 we worked on today I will be taking great pains to get them cleaned up and running smoothly, because I want to keep them for my website. However, the 2 we will be working on tomorrow are strictly for the project, and once I get it all graded, they are coming OFF the website. One is a slideshow presentation that I do not want or need, and the other is a blog made out of Flash. And heaven knows that a Blogger blog is MUCH easier to create and update that ANYTHING in Flash!!!!!

So it's a helluva lot of work for a grade, but nothing else. Oh well - - gotta do what ya gotta do sometimes . . .

Anyway, it's all downhill from here, I hope!

And once it's done - - it is SERIOUS party time! :-)

Wish me luck tomorrow!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Some Progress Made - - FINALLY! *whew*

Well, I presented what is finished of my Final Semester Project today. Overall, it's not bad. I still do not have any of the Flash stuff working in the website, except for the clock we made in class. At least THAT worked!

After class Faith helped out Kathy and I on our projects. Flash has been giving BOTH of us fits! Kathy and I both work at Richland - - actually, right across the hall from each other. This is the second Web design class we have taken together, and it helps to have someone that close for moral support, if nothing else. But I digress - - sorry . . . . .


Faith has agreed to help both of us out on lunch hours Tuesday and Wednesday. As long as we get our project requirements finished up by Thursday, we will not get an incomplete. If we are NOT able to finish by Thursday, Faith willl give us incompletes, and we will have more time to try to finish. I'm hoping to have my Flash requirements DONE by Wednesday.

Tonight at home I worked on the things we had covered after class today - - there is a graphic on one of my pages that I want to have "fade in" to the page and then stay on the page, not looping over and over. I was FINALLY able to figure out the motion tweening and the Alpha color options needed, but the playback looping is still going on. BUT - - we will fix that tomorrow.

ALSO - - there is a small car picture that I have added animation to so that it will travel across another page in the website. That one still needs some "tweaking", but that will also get resolved tomorrow.

The only things left after that are a blog and a slideshow presentation, both built in Flash and imported into a page in the website. I have the basics built, but don't have them all pulled together so they work. Once those two things are finished and added to the website, it will be time to test out all the links, make sure everything works the way it should, zip up the website file, and submit it to the instructor.

THEN it will be serious party time!!!!! (Can't wait)

It's worth losing 2 days worth of lunch hours - - heck, I can afford to lose a little weight . . . :-)

Wish me luck - - I'll keep y'all posted!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

More Crunch "Stuff"

Spent most of the day working on my Semester Final Project.

STILL not done.

I've gone as far as I can with it until I can get together with Faith for some more one-on-one instruction in Flash. I don't know why I'm having such a "mental block" with that program!!

I'm frustrated with the program, the project, and myself at the moment . . .

SO - - enough of that for today! I'll figure it all out tomorrow - - or Tuesday - - or Wednesday - - or . . .

* * * * * * * * * *

Tomorrow morning is our office's Christmas Open House. (Or should I say "Holiday", in order to be "politically correct?" Oh hell - - it's CHRISTMAS - - don't EVEN get me started on being "P.C."!!) Anyway . . . hubby Steve and I went out this morning and hit the local Walmart, picking up holiday plates, cups, napkins, etc. Also bought orange juice. The other two people in the office are bringing muffins and breads. I'll get to the office at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow and start getting everything set up for the 9:00 a.m. start time. I hope we have a good turnout. It's the firsst day of Finals Week, so we should have most of the faculty on campus. I can't think of any of them who would turn down free food . . . :-)

* * * * * * * * * *

Went to Springfield yesterday to the Food Mart's Christmas Open House. It's a little Italian grocery/deli in downtown Springfield, just a few blocks from the Capitol Building. I used to go there all time when I worked for the State, and ever since I went to work locally (Decatur), I still make a point of stopping by anytime I'm in the downtown Springfield area. The Pirrera's are wonderful people, and they always have the best Italian foods you can find in the area. They bring in lots of things from New York City, and The Hill (the Italian neighborhood in St. Louis). It was so crowded in that little store yesterday, you could barely move! I'm glad the Open House was a huge success for them this year.

After leaving the Food Mart, I finished a little more Christmas shopping. Went to Penny Lane, a funky shop that is reminiscent of the 60's and 70's "head shops". They have all that kind of stuff, and more - - Southwest items, Dragons and Mythical figures, posters, and incense galore. Neat place. I found the perfect gift for a friend in there. Also went to Petals and Accents, and found a couple of gifts for Luann and Sara. So it was a profitable afternoon!

Then it was back home to work on my Final Project all evening . . . *sigh*

Well, it's off to bed for me. I'm getting up extra early tomorrow so I can get to work extra early.

You all have a good evening.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

End of Semester "Crunch"

This Web Design project is really getting to me . . . *sigh*

I'm doing great with the DreamWeaver and Fireworks portions part of it - - a couple of minor "glitches", but nothing I can't work out . . .

It's Flash that is getting me down.

Last semester, we didn't get into Flash, except for one small little thing that we did to see how it works, and it was TOTALLY confusing to me! THIS semester, the book we are using assumes we have basic Flash knowledge from the previous semester.


It is like spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere (like a rear-wheel drive, compact car in deep snow). I knew I can DO it, it's just figuring out HOW to get it done!

I even took a 4-day weekend, when hubby Steve was deer hunting, to take my self through the Flash portion of last semester's book. I read all the chapters, did all the step-by-step assignments,
and really learned a lot. But for some reason, I'm having problems retaining the knowledge and applying it to the project . . . this is just so damn frustrating . . .

Faith, our teacher, has given us lots of handouts with instructions on how to do different things with Flash, and shown our class how to do them, and I take good notes to go along with the handouts, but when I get home and try to recreate, I'm lost. There must be some steps here and there that I'm missing . . . . I just need more TIME, and that is something I'm almost out of!

I did email Faith late last week and asked about getting an an incomplete. With Campus closed from Dec. 23rd until Jan. 3rd, and hubby working, I would have a lot of time to spend on the ol' computer pounding out this website. She said she would be willing to do that for me, but proposed something else first - - instead of submitting my project on the 12th when it is due, would I be willing to come up and work with her next week for a few hours to see if she could help me through the rough patches? She did not have to turn in a grade of Incomplete until the 19th, so maybe by then we would have it done.


So next week I will be spending my lunch hours up in Faith's office working on this darned thing. I'll ge the whole thing loaded onto my little jump drive and bring it with me. Hopefully she can help break through this Flash "mental block" I have . . . wish me luck!

P.S. THANK YOU, Bill, for your encouraging words - - I'm giving it my best shot!

Friday, December 09, 2005


I have never owned a 4-wheel drive vehicle before. Heck, I've only been behind the wheel of one before, and that was for about 10 minutes during a brief test drive of a Jeep Liberty a few years ago.

So now I have a Jeep Liberty of my own. I just love it! But I did not know exactly how - - or more importantly, WHEN - - to kick it into 4-wheel drive.

Well - - yesterday it snowed.

And snowed.

AND snowed some more.

By the time cranky Mother Nature was through with us, we had 5.5 inches of the white stuff, with winds kicking up to 15-20 mph. So of course there was also the drifting to contend with.

5:00 p.m. finally came, and it was out to the parking lot to clean off the vehicles. Talk about a mess! At least a couple of inches of snow all over the Jeep, PLUS ice underneath that! Given the wind chill was hovering near 0 degrees, I was almost as "cranky" as Mother Nature was!

Finally in the Jeep and getting ready for my first drive home in 4-wheel drive. Popped it down into it and took off.

Why did I wait all these years to own one? That trip home was SWEET!! The Jeep handled all the roads with ease - - plowed or not.

But the real test was yet to come. Our road is a North/South road. We live on the East side of the road, facing West, with nothing across the road but an empty field and the Interstate. The wind was out of the West 15-20 mph. Needless to say, there were lots of drifts. But Lady Liberty went through those drifts like they were nothing - - barely felt a bump.

Talk about a rush!! It was great!

The Liberty is the best purchase hubby Steve and I have ever made. I'm hooked on Jeeps for life!

Y'all be careful driving out there, y'here? :-)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

GOT My "Lola" Fix!!!

Yes I did - - went to Peoria, actually FOUND the Peoria Heights district, and got to see Jessica's new shop!

The new "Hey Lola/The Moondancer" is a WONDERFUL place! Jessica, you should be very proud of what you and Julie have there!

I found some neat "treasures" during my visit. One is a beautiful Hematite bracelet, which goes very well with the Hematite necklace and earrings Jessica had made me earlier in the year. And also found a great little necklace - - the stone looks like fossilized wood or granite or - - something - - anyway, it's sort of a varigated light blue in color, and she wrapped iit and vined it in silver wire. It's hanging on a sterling silver chain. And she made it a present to me. I am in love with it! Thank you SO MUCH, Jessica!

I took hubby Steve's Aunt Pat with me on the trip. She really enjoyed herself. She has been interested in learning how to make jewelry, and Hey Lola is the place to get some inspiration. Aos, there is a shop just down the block called "Free to Bead", and they have every bead and stone imaginable for making jewelry, and all the jewelry findings, chains, and tools besides. They also give lessons. Too bad Peoria is so far away - - it would be fun to learn.

Aunt Pat and I also ate lunch at One World Cafe, and she is now a fan of the place, just like everhone I have taken there. The food there is all fresh made and delicious! (And they have "killer" desserts!!) If you are ever in Peoria, I highly recommend it.

Well, it's back to homework for me. My Semester Project for Web Design is due on Monday. Not sure if it will be ready or not. I am seriously thinking about asking for an imcomplete to give me more time to finish it. It has just been so hectic lately, and by the time I get on the computer at home in the evenings, I'm too tired to think straight. But I'm giving it my best shot . . .

Anyway, I'm outta here for now - - I'll post again soon and catch up everyone on things.


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Needing My "Lola" Fix . . .

Well, I am hoping to be able to head to Peoria this weekend . . .

I need my "Lola" fix . . . been awhile . . . need a "fix" BAD . . . :-)

I haven't been to the new shop yet, and can't wait to see it! "Hey Lola" is now in a new location in Peoria Heights, sharing space with "The Moondancer" - - looking forward to seeing it! Their website is up and running.
Check it out at Although the site is still under some construction, they have some pictures posted of the new shop, and it looks amazing - - I will definitely report back about it after my trip.

More later . . .

Monday, November 28, 2005

Dodged a Bullet . . .

Went to the Endodontist today about all this jaw pain I've been having.

I do NOT need a root canal - - *whew!*

Dr. Hallam thinks it is a combination of a lot of different factors - - I had a temporary crown placed, then had my anxiety med level drastically reduced, and then had the permanent crown placed . . . all in a matter of 2 weeks time.

He thinks the pain is being caused by all these factors combining to make me clench my jaw at night in my sleep, thus causing the jaw pain and the swelling and tenderness in my jaw hinge. He also recommended I try Tylenot instead of the Advil, since it didn't seem to be doing me that much good. In addition, he advised me to tell my family doctor about all this. As luck would have it, I have an appointment with Dr. Kahn next Wednesday, and I will definitely share all this with him. He may have to up my Prozac level a bit . . .

SO - - after I left Dr. Hallam's office, I went by Dr. Hastings office and let them know what happened. Dr. H. said he wanted me to try a "soft night guard" to wear while I'm sleeping, which would keep me from clenching my jaw. He asked if I had time to get the impressions made right then - - it would take about 15-20 minutes. Well, of course! ANYTHING to help alleviate this PAIN I've been living with!! They got all the impressions made, and I pick up the guard next Monday morning before work.

So instead of heading home with a numb jaw and curling up in bed with my fur-babies, it's back to the office I go to finish out the day. Oh well . . . I was actually happy to be back at work!

By the way - - one of my co-workers who had been to Dr. Hallam had told me he was a real cutie - -
She wasn't lying . . . :-)

(What can I say - - I happen to LIKE "eye candy" . . . )

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Catch-up Time

Okay, I know it's been ages since I've posted, but with good reason: Not only have work and class and teaching been keeping me running, I've been suffering from tooth- and jaw-ache. Living on Advil - - without it, I'm in pain, but with it, I'm groggy as hell.

Mea culpa.

But now, I will try to catch everything up. SO - - here goes . . .

Work: It's been pretty hectic. Lots of meetings and activities going on. Everyone gearing up for Semester end (Finals week is coming up), and of course the holidays are just around the corner. Lots of things to catch up on before campus closes for Holiday Break.


I got invited to the Chamber of Commerce's 53rd Annual Community Luncheon last week! There were probably about a dozen of us from the College who attended for the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Good food, and lots of good people there. I had a chance to chat with quite a few folks I had not seen in quite a while. Lots of fun.


Next week I'm teaching Intermediate Word Tuesday and Thursday evenings. This should be the last class I'm teaching this semester. I'm already signed on to teach FIVE classes next semster though . . . but it's fun. I enjoy showing people how computer work, and some of the neat things you can do with software programs.


My class is keeping me busy. We have now covered DreamWeaver, Fireworks, and Flash, and now are totally immersed in working on our Semester Projects. Hope I can get mine finished in time, but this TOOTH thing has been kicking my you-know-what, and it's been tough.


Now about the tooth problem - - I had a crown placed about a month ago. I have had some jaw discomfort ever since, right where the dentist had given me the novocaine shot. But it was getting better. BUT - - about 2 weeks ago, my lower left jaw started giving me pain. It was not constant, so I would take a couple of Advil and it would ease up. I figured it was something to do with the crown seating itself, and that it would pass.


It started getting worse - - and worse - - and worse - -

Now it's to the point where I take 2 Advil every 4 hours, and if I'm (God forbid) LATE taking them, I'm in misery. The pain even wakes me up in the middle of the night, so that I'm grabbing for the Advil and the water bottle.

Last week I called my dentist and told them what was happening. After lots of discussion, they said it sounds like I am needing a root canal. They referred me to Dr. Hallam, an Endodontist. He does these things all day long, and is supposedly a "pain-free" dentist, like mine is.

I've talked to a lot of people who have been to him, and they all tell me the same thing. Seems like he's the real deal - - nice, cute, fun, and most important of all - - PAIN-FREE.

We'll see.

ANYWAY - - Monday at 1:00 p.m. is my appointment. I can't wait to get in there and get this taken care of. I have been feeling LOUSY from the discomfort and all the Advil I've been popping.

Wish me luck on Monday - - say a prayer for me - - I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I'm Sorry!!

I know I know - - it's been practically FOREVER since I typed in an entry . . .

Life has been HECTIC, to say the least.

LOTS going on to fill you in on - - have not had the time to do it with work, homework, sick hubby, etc.

I will be back on this weekend catch up - - that's a promise . . .

Stay tuned.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Bleah . . .

I'm "puny" today - -

There have been some nasty little buggies making the rounds on campus, and I had been really lucky avoiding them. My health has been surprisingly good this Fall, considering the weather. This is usually the kind of weather that throws my sinuses into a tailsping. But I've been lucky so far . . .

Until Saturday.

Hubby Steve came home from a morning hunt with his brother, and was feeling really tired and kinda achy. Then the headache started, and then his stomach got into the act.

By Sunday he was all better, but I was feeling really tired, and kinda achy . . .

I did not have a good feeling about this.

By 1:15 this morning, I was awake and up and feeling LOUSY. I finally made it back to bed around 3:30 a.m. By the time my alarm went off at 5:20 a.m., I was still feeling bad.

BUT - - there were some things on my desk at work that I had to have out to committee members for an 8:00 a.m. meeting on Tuesday, and if I didn't get them the materials TODAY, they would be totally unprepared TOMORROW.

SO - - I dragged my a** out of bed and made it to work.

Hmmm - - not too bad - - I can do this - - really I can . . .


I got the materials out to the committee members, and by 9:30 was on my way back home.

Well, the cats were sure happy to see me - - they LOVE being able to spend the day in bed with Mommy! :-)

I'm feeling quite a bit better this evening. If all goes the same as hubby's did, I should be all okay tomorrow.

But you know, DEAR Hubby Steve - - it's just like I told you at Rural King with the "butt-crack" guy - - you don't necessarily HAVE TO share EVERYTHING with me, y'know . . .


Thanks a bunch, sweetie . . .

(He's SO lucky I love him as much as I do!)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

AWESOME Barbeque in Murphysboro

If you ever get the chance to go to Murphysboro, and if you (like Hubby and I) love good barbeque, you must try 17th Street Bar & Grill.

They are Three-Time World Champions for their barbeque. They have been profiled on the Food Network, and also have food booths at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield every year, which is where Hubby first tried their food (and absolutely loved it). In fact, it was SO good, he wanted to check out the actual place to see if the atmosphere matched the food.

It does.

Last weekend on our Day Trip, we made a point to time it so that we would be in the Murphysboro area at lunchtime, and stopped at 17th Street.

The food is fantastic, with large portions and the best quality meats, the service is fast and friendly, the prices are not unreasonable. They have a great sauce, and their own special "Magic Dust" seasoning, which adds a nice flavor to anything you sprinkle it on. They sell their bottled sauce and the Magic Dust there, and we brought some back home with us.

We tried the Combo Platter. You get your choice of two of pork, chicken, or beef, with two sides. We both tried the pork and beef brisket. I got fries and applesauce, Hubby got fries and baked beans. There was SO MUCH food, I ended up eating the brisket and taking my pork home for a sandwich the next day (which was just as good as the previous day!)

It was SO good - - and worth every mile down there.

We will definitely go again - - and I highly recommend you make plans to get down there and try it, too! :-)

Last Weekend's Day Trip

Okay okay - - I know it's almost a week later, but humor me - - it's been a rough week!

But we had some funny things happen on our day trip to Southern Illinois last Saturday . . .

We got up at what my friend Connie would call the "butt-crack of dawn" (rather appropriate, considering what happened during the trip - - but I digress . . . )

Drove to Pana, stopped at a restaurant for breakfast. The Coach had the football team in there for breakfast - - lots of "jocks", proudly wearing their varsity hats, varsity jackets, acting all "macho" and stuff - -

Until one of them walked in - -

wearing shorts - -

and cowboy boots.

I am not kidding.

Hubby Steve gave me this smirk and said, "Makes you proud to be from here, don't it?"

If I wasn't still half asleep, I would have smacked him.

Okay - - head on out of town and down south. We are heading for the Steelville/Murpheysboro area. Hubby Steve is buying a new barrel for his Benelli hunting rifle, and we are to meet him around 10:30. About 20 minutes outside Steelville, Steve calls the guy, who tells us his farm is "way out" in the sticks, so it would be easier for us to meet him at his wife's business in town; a place called "Pooches" . . . o - kayyyyyy, "Pooches" it is.

We get to town and find Pooches, which (appropriately) is a dog grooming business. Hubby walks in first, with me following behind him. The man he is to meet is sitting in the back of the shop. His wife comes up, says "Good Morning!" (all cheery-like - - how DO morning people stand themselves????)


Steve says, "I'm supposed to meet Mr. Hicks."

She says, "Oh, I thought you had a dog with you."

To which I say (with a litttle wave from behind Steve's back) - - "No, I'm his wife."

She TOTALLY missed it.

That is, until her husband said, "Are you insulting people's wives again, hon?"

THEN she got it.

And exited to the back room and shut the door.

And didn't come out again until we were leaving.

Now THAT was funny! :-)

The last thing to happen was when we stopped at a Rural King store. Hubby was off looking at whatever he looks out, and I was happy as a lark in the clothing section, checking out these CUTE little sweatshirts with the CUTEST little kittens on them (and they were on SALE, too!) - - minding my own business - - when Hubby comes and drags me out of the clothing section because there is "something" he must share with me . . . he has seen a guy displaying "butt crack."

So what? It's not like I haven't seen it before. He assures me I have NEVER seen ANYTHING quite like this.

*SIGH* Oooo - - kayyyyyy

So off we go - - and he points out the guy - -

And then has to literally help me pick my jaw up from the floor.

The man is bent over the shopping cart - - and I swear - - I SWEAR - -

he had butt crack all the way up to his shoulder blades.

It was AWFUL!!!!

It was like - - here's his belt - - and here's his waist - - but it just kept going and going and going - - all the way up to his shoulder blades.

He took me away from the cute little kittens on the cute little sweatshirts (that were ON SALE) for THAT????

He said he could not have lived with himself if he had not shared something that special with his wife, the love of his life, his life partner . . . yada yada yada . . . . .

How do I put up with him? *sigh*

Oh well - - I'm not bored!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I've been reprimanded.

I had the NERVE - - the unmitigated GALL - - to bake BROWNIES and not tell Kelly!

And she really told me about it today, too.


Mea culpa - - mea maxima culpa - -

Okay Kelly - - the next time I'm going to bake brownies and bring them in to the office, I PROMISE to post it on here first, to give you plenty of advance notice.

I mean, I wouldn't want you to hike ALL THE WAY DOWN HERE TO THE OTHER END OF THE BUILDING just to see my bright and smiling face, now would I?

(Just like a little kid - - gotta bribe you with food) . . . :-)

Monday, October 31, 2005

Rain, Rain Go Away . . .

The forecast called for a slight chance of light rain.

Oh, okay - - I guess I can put up with that - -

HOWEVER - - apparently WAND's forecasters have a real GIFT for understatement . . .

It rained, all right.


All day long.

And well into the night (at least, so far).


Now mind you, I don't mind rain. The problem is, I had to take my Jeep up to Clinton for some warranty work, and they sent me home in a loaner. Which I usually don't mind, but when it's POURING BUCKETS, and they send you with the gas tank on "E", and you are trying to figure out WHERE the damn tank is, and it's pouring, and you're getting SOAKED . . .

Well, it's not pretty, is all I'm sayin'.

SO - - by the time I got back to work, looking like a drowned rat, I was NOT happy.

Good thing I was the only one in my office today - - because I was pretty cranky.

Tomorrow will be better, I'm sure . . . :-)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

WHAT a WEEK!!! *whew*

This was a BUSY week - - I mean, my weeks are usually pretty hectic, but this one took the prize . . .

That's why I haven't been on here for awhile. Between work, teaching, and life in general, by the time I would get home (some nights as late as 9:45 p.m.), I was too exhausted to think about spending time on the computer, much less stay awake long enough to compose a sentence!

This week promises to be just about as hectic, so - - you are all forewarned. If you don't hear from me in a few days, DON'T PANIC - - I'll be back on track soon.

I will post more again soon - - right now it's getting close to bedtime, and I'm exhausted. But I didn't want to go any longer without posting SOMETHING, so there you are.

Next time, I'll tell all about the "road trip" hubby Steve and I took this past weekend - - lots of good stuff in Southern Illinois I never knew about!

But for now - - 'night. *yawn*

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Satisfying My "Jewelry Fetish" . . .

If you have ever noticed under the "About Me" section of the sidebar, I mention a "serious jewelry fetish" - - well, I got to satisfy a bit of that yesterday. I went to Peoria with a couple members of my "posse" (*smile*), Betty and Connie, to Jessica's shop, "Hey Lola". Lola's is a funky little shop with vintage clothing, nick-nacks, paper lanterns, cards, and paintings by Jessica, a VERY talented artist and creative sprite. But best of all - - Lola's has jewelry. LOTS and LOTS of jewelry. All designed and created by Jessica herself.

I first met Jessica Labor Day Weekend 2004, when hubby Steve and I went to the Riverfront Blues Fest in Peoria. There were vendors set up all along the river walkway, and Jessica was one of them. I took one look at her jewelry, and my jaw literally dropped. Her designs are amazing! She uses mostly natural stones for her creations, incorporating wire wrapping and "vining", along with seed beads, sterling beads, and other components in her creations. The finished products are unique and totally awesome.

Since that weekend in 2004, I have come to know Jessica well, and consider her a very dear friend. If hubby and I are every at a place where stones are sold, I'm constantly looking through them to see if there would be anything Jessica might like to work with. In fact, I came back from our Turkey Run trip with a bag of stones from the Lodge gift shop for her - Agate Slices, Goldstone, River Agate chunks, and the like.


"Hey Lola" was having an Open House and a Moving Sale this weekend. Connie had been to the shop and met Jessica before, but Betty never had. The Open House was being marketed by the Bradley U. marketing students. Their goal was to have 120 in the door that day. Their professor was at the door counting off people entering.

The Moving Sale was just that - - reducing inventory before Jessica moves to her new shop in Peoria Heights! Apparently her new neighborhood is a neat little area of town with lots of little shops, boutiques, and restaurants, and a perfect spot for a shop like hers. Her move takes place the end of this month.

Jessica, I wish you the best of luck with the move - - wish hubby and I could be there to help - - and I cannot wait to see the new 'digs'!! The girls and I will be there sometime soon to check it all out!

We had a great time. And - - as usual - - there was a "creation" there that grabbed me. Again. *sigh* The hardest part about going to Hey Lola's is not buying everything I see. Her jewelry creations are THAT GOOD. Really. You need to check it out sometime. Her website can be found at

And while you're in Peoria, you need to have lunch at One World Cafe, right across the street from Bradley U. It's a neat atmosphere with all different types of food - - there is literally something for everybody - in fact, their menu is HUGE. Signature sandwiches, soups, salads, and the best pizza around. All foods and homemade, and only the freshest ingredients are used. It's the best food in town. Period.

And if you don't believe ME, then go ask Jessica. She used to work there, and she will back me up on this. :-)


My meeting with the head of the Division went surprisingly well. I made sure to mention all my concerns regarding the machines and their inability to run the training program. Apparently, he had been doing his own bit of investigating and had come to the same conclusion. All classes scheduled for that computer lab for the rest of the semester have been reassigned to another lab. The new room has much newer machines, so there should not be any of the problems we had experienced on the first night of class.

After that was all decided, it was time to let him know my own personal feelings on the way my concerns had been treated by members of his staff. Basically, after I shut his office door, I spelled it out in no uncertain terms - - how it was very unprofessional that my concerns, as the instructor on record for that class, were treated as "not that important." That I was told not to "make a big deal out of it" or to involved the head of the Division. How the staff member basically did not want to bring this situation to the attention of the head of the Division, so therefore, did not. I went to the Coordinator first out of professional courtesy, because it is always best to follow the chain of command and not step on someone's toes. But when that did not work, I had no choice but to handle things a different way.

I think he and I came to a mutual understanding about all this - - I think he realizes that my concerns are for the students, not my own personal agenda.

He asked me to survey my students this evening, and if any of them feel that they did not get what was needed during the 2 nights of class, he would allow an extra night at no charge to them, for us to go over areas they felt were necessary. I will do that at class tonight, and if any of them feel the need for the extra night, I am more than willing to meet with them and help in any way possible to make sure they get what they paid for.

It's the right thing to do.

* * * * * * * * * *

Class Thursday evening in the new computer lab went so smoothly, it was almost scary. NOTHING went wrong! The machines ran as they should, nothing locked up, nothing crashed, the program booted up with not one glitch. I was able to give the instruction needed, and even had a bit of time to review some of the material from the previous class.

At the end of class, I asked if any of them felt the need for the extra night, but none of them did. Apparently we were able to cover it enough that they were comfortable with what they were taking away from the class.

Thank goodness that "nightmare" is over!

I don't anticipate any problems for the Intermediate Excel class next week. (knock on wood!)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Oh Boy - - Here We Go . . .

Okay - -

After everything that had happened in computer class last night, I could NOT get to sleep . . . tossed and turned and finally dozed off around 1:30 a.m. Hubby Steve's alarm went off at 3:40 a.m., and when he left at 4:30 a.m. for work, I was still awake. So I just got up.

I have been a zombie - - just sleepwalked through the day.

I got to work at 7:30. My first stop after dropping off my stuff at my desk was to talk to Debbie. She took one look at my face and could tell things were not good.

She was right.

For the next 20 minutes or so, we discussed everything that went wrong during the class. I also told her how much it bothered me once I got home, and the amount of sleep I lost over it. She knows me, and knows how much I care about the College and the work I do. She and I both know that whatever we do reflects on the College, good or bad. That class last night was definitely NOT one of our shining moments. She promised to talk to the Training Coordinator over those classes and have that person contact me.

To make a long story short, we were both basically told not to make a big deal out of it, I would be assigned to a different classroom for the second night of the class, and that there was no reason to involve the head of the Division.

THAT was the deciding factor to guarantee that I most definitely WOULD be making a big deal out of it.

You do NOT tell me that short-changing my students and not giving them their hard-earned money's worth is not important, and that I should just back down and not make a "big deal" out of it! Am I supposed to just act as if everything is just fine?

No f ***ing way. Nope, not this lady.

Things are definitely NOT fine. This whole thing is an embarrassment to the College. These are people who are trying to learn a skill, or brush up on a skill, or just get a short taste of what a particular class is like before they consider signing up for a full semester credit class. These are prospective CREDIT STUDENTS, people!!

AND - - they may have kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters - - not to mention friends and neighbors . . . all of whom they could refer to the College IF - - and ONLY IF - - the experience they themselves have is a good one.

Based on what they went through last night - - I would not blame them if they told everyone they met on the street to avoid our institution like the plague.

I have always had a very strong sense of what is right and wrong. I just want done what is RIGHT for our paying customers - - our students - - who are the reason we have our doors open. And some people better damn well start remembering that.

I'm just sayin' . . .

So now for the next step - - tomorrow morning I have a 9:00 a.m. meeting scheduled with the head of the Division. I don't plan on letting HIM back me down either.

Guess my friends are right when they say I have cojones the size of church bells . . . ;-)

The game is on . . . stay tuned . . .

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Monday-Tuesdays . . .

Doncha just hate it when a Monday decides to disguise itself as a Tuesday?

Like right after a WONDERFUL three-day holiday weekend . . .

Then on MONDAY (I don't care if the calendar says "TUESDAY" - - they are known to lie) - - reality sets in . . .

Like today.

Today was NOT a fun day. *sigh*

I had an 8:00 a.m. meeting to take minutes at. Taking minutes is not exactly the most fun thing in the world to do anyway, but at 8:00 freakin' A.M., on a MondaydisguisedasaTuesday, it's downright painful!!

I get out of the meeting at 9:00, make my daily deliveries and
pick up the mail (a HUGE stack, thanks to the three-day weekend). I get back to my desk and notice my message light blinking. It's my dentist's office - - my permanent crown arrived a couple of days early and they just happened to have a cancellation that morning - - could I be there at 10:00? It's already 9:30, but - - might as well get it over with.

SO it's off to the dentist I go, and have an unexpected hour in the chair (just what I wanted after an hour of sheer hell in the meeting). THEN there is no eating or drinking anything for at least an hour, preferably more, until the cement on the crown sets up. So now I'm not only CRANKY - - I'm HUNGRY besides . . .

Then this evening, I'm scheduled to teach an Intro to Excel class. Normally I enjoy teaching these classes, but this has NOT been the best of days . . . but this usually puts me in a pretty good mood.

Unfortunately, that was NOT to be the case this time.

They have just started using a new training program on the computers in that lab. The machines are OLD and OUTDATED and SLOW, and do not have the capability of running this new program well. The programs run SOOOOOOOO SSSSLLLLOOOOWWWWWWWWW . . . . . and the programs like to "freeze" and then the machines lock up, and the only to get out of that is to reboot, which results in the computers not wanting to start up in the proper training program.

THEN - - when class is finished and you try to EXIT out of the program, it crashes Windows.


By the time class was over and I FINALLY got all the machines shut down, I was ready to throw something.

It's kinda funny that Debbie told me today that since this was the FIRST TIME this program was being run, she was glad it was being taught by someone who worked there and knew them and loved them . . . and to let her know tomorrow if there had been any problems.

She should be careful what she asks for - - she may not be too happy hearing from me tomorrow . . . (don't get me wrong - - I adore Debbie, and know this is not her fault, but I'm just pissed, is all . . . )

ANYWAY - - my feeling is, if you are going to make people pay GOOD MONEY to get TRAINING - -

You damn well better have the PROPER TOOLS to train them with!

Give them their money's worth, for Heaven's sake!

I'm just sayin', is all.

Enough ranting - - it's beddy-bye time.

Tomorrow will be better (darn well better be! *laugh*)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Brownie Success!

Well, the brownies were a success, and then some. The whole house smelled like chocolate and creme de menthe while they were baking (and for a long time afterward!). Once they were cooled, we tried them. Oooohhhhh my . . . awesome!

Dad wasn't the only "guinea pig" I tried out the Chocolate Mint Brownies on - - I took the remainder of the pan to work. I didn't even make it down the hall to my office before one of the CEHF faculty members was "stalking" me! Followed me all the way down to my office and walked in behind me! She couldn't wait . . .

It was kinda cute seeing people's eyes kinda glaze over when they tasted them. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

I've been made to promise to bring batches of all my different varieties to work at Christmas time for our party . . . guess I better stock up on brownie mix, huh?

Too bad dear nephew Travis missed these . . . :-)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Brownies, Part II

I'm getting the itch to try a new brownie idea, and I have the perfect "guinea pig" to try them out on - - my Dad.He loves chocolate and mint, so I'm gonna try something different.

I have a bag of Andes chocolate mint wafer candies, and a family size box of brownie mix. I'm going to chop up some of the candies and stir them into the brownie batter. Then after they are baked, I'm going to place more of the candies on top of the brownies, put them back in the oven until they are melty, then take them out and spread the melted candies for a chocolate mint frosting.


I mentioned this to Dad on the phone tonight, and that I would bring some down to him - - I think he's looking forward to them almost more than seeing hubby Steve and I! :-)

Should be awesome - - I'll let you know!

Three ALREADY????

I went to my son's house Sunday for a very special reason - - my youngest grandson, Jon, had a birthday last week.

He just turned three years old.


I am still trying to figure out how that happened. I mean - - wasn't it just a couple of months ago that Dawn was bringing him home from the hospital?? Where does the time go??

And how is it that these little kids get so much older while we stay just as young and slim and energetic - - and GORGEOUS - - don't forget GORGEOUS . . .

I wish! :-)

Dang - - my little man is THREE . . . (shakes head in disbelief)

It was a good visit. Jon liked the trucks I got him. He kept running them up and down my legs, then would stop and give me a BIG hug, look me straight in the eyes and say, "I WUB you!" (the heart melts)

It just don't get no better than this, does it?

Friday, September 30, 2005


It's lonely.

Hubby Steve is gone this weekend - - up to Joliet for the drag races.

I don't mind him going, because I know he really enjoys them and had made many good friends there. And it's best that he goes without me, because I am totally, absolutely NOT into the races . . .

Oh sure, there are other things I could do up there, like go on a little further up the road to the Fox River Valley area (St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia - - my favorite places in the whole world!). But then there would be that whole scheduling thing of working out who needs to be where and when . . . So he goes on up by himself.

Which is fine. We have good friends in Chicago that he stays the night with, so that also gives him time to catch up with them. They have lots of fun together.

And I'm busy also - - I get to work tomorrow, helping proctor an LSAT exam here on campus. It's a long process, but hey, I get paid for it. And LSAC pays their proctors well. More spending money for the new house!

But I still miss him . . . *sigh* . . . can't wait for Sunday when he's back home!!! :-)

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Had a dental appointment yesterday. Turned out to be more extensive than anticipated. I'm doing okay now, but my jaw STILL feels like someone sucker-punched me!

It's not the dentist's fault - - I'm not blaming him at all! It just getting the shot at the lower back part of your jaw made that muscle a bit sore, and then spending that much time in the chair with your mouth propped wide open . . .

Just a tad bit uncomfortable, ya know?

I mean, getting a temporary crown placed and two teeth filled all at one time is bound to be uncomfortable, right? (Right, Liz!)

The only good thing about it is that I absolutely adore my dentist. He is the ONLY dentist I have EVER trusted - - EVER! I honestly don't mind going to him, regardless of what needs to be done. He's THAT GOOD. Gentle, compassionate, kind, GREAT sense of humor (ever tried laughing with someone's fingers in your mouth? Umm - - on second thought, don't answer that . . . ).

He and I had a talk one day when I was there for a routine check-up, discussing our personal experiences with "Nazi Dentistry" - - he told me he decided when he started his practice that he was determined not to cause his patients any pain. And he doesn't. There is only one time he caused me any pain, and it absolutely could not be helped. But he felt terrible! He kept apologizing to me over and over, and really felt awful!

I just adore this man.

Dr. Hastings, thank you.

And just for future reference - -
you CANNOT EVER move away - -
you CANNOT EVER retire - -
AND - -
don't even THINK of kicking the bucket - -
I need you around for a LONG, LONG time, doc. Just remember that, okay?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Feeling Better

Well, the Tylenol and ibuprofen are doing their job.

I'm feeling MUCH better today!

Not 100% yet, but on the mend slowly but surely.

At least I can walk without grimacing in pain! :-)

More later . . .

Monday, September 26, 2005

Turkey Run, Part 2

One thing I forgot to mention about Turkey Run - -

There was a whole group of square dancers staying there at the Lodge this weekend. Nice people!

BUT - -

We were checking out around 9:30 Sunday morning, and they were already square dancing in the conference room - -

But not to the country music you would expect . . .

I NEVER EVER imagined that you actually COULD square dance to "Montego Bay".

Un-freakin'-believable. :-)

Oh well - - they were STILL nice people!

Agony - - A - GON - YYYYYY . . . . .

I am in pain.

SERIOUS pain here, folks - -

Can't believe my body hurts this bad.

And it's all my own fault.

Or hubby Steve's - - all depends on how you look at it . ..

I mean - - when he suggested a weekend at Turkey Run State Park in Indiana to walk the trails, I COULD have said "no" - -

I COULD have . . .

I probably SHOULD have . . .

But dumbass me - - I said, "Sure - - sounds like a lot of fun!"

I am SUCH an IDIOT . . . *sigh*

I had in mind walking through the woods and over little bridges over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house we go - - quiet, serene, wandering aimlessly down paths similar to Rock Springs and the bike path.

I was SO wrong. And I'm really paying for it now.

I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into.

A word of advice to anyone planning a trip over there - - Be prepare to hurt. Pack the Ben-Gay and the ibuprofen. LOTS of each.

Don't get me wrong - - the trails are BEAUTIFUL!! I have never walked through anywhere like this - - I saw a waterfall - - climbed up and down ladders and flights of wooden stairs - - climbed over rock and boulders and walked the creek beds - - watched chimpmunks playing - - saw fishies and froggies and all kinds of beautiful flora and fauna - -

But NO ONE told me the extreme ruggedness of the trails I was going to be navigating - -

Including dear, sweet hubby Steve who is supposed to LOVE ME and TAKE CARE OF ME.


ANYWAY - - we started walking Trail 5, which was not too bad. They we started on Trail 3, which was quite a bit more rugged terrain. It wasn't too bad, though, until - -

Trail 9. *shudder*

The whole damn thing.

Walking in places where there shouldn't even BE a path - - 50-60 foot drops with no guardrails (and I'm no mountain goat, I assure you - - more along the lines of "clumsy ox") - -

Then connecting with parts of Trail 10.

THREE AND ONE-HALF HOURS LATER - - we are back at the truck for lunch . . .

Fell asleep in the back of the truck in the cool breeze afterwards - - Woke up too stiff to move.

My. Whole. Body. HURT.

I have muscles hurting that I never knew existed!!

So the past 2 days I have been living on Advil or Extra Strength Tylenol.

Tomorrow will be better. I hope . . .

New Blog

Since we are going to be building the new house, I decided a new blog was appropriate for that. So anything to do with the house will be posted in my other blog, "Escape From the Money Pit". I will use the new blog to chronicle the "escape" from the present house that has been sucking us financially dry for the past 10 years. No matter what happens, good or bad, will be discussed here. Not only will it be a good resource for any other poor fools who decide to try this little endeavor, but it will also be good therapy for yours truly.

Cheaper than a shrink.

And cheaper than booze.

And I won't have a hangover in the morning. :-)

Stay tuned - - the fun is just beginning . . .

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

House Plans

We are going to build a house.

I am excited as all get-out - - and scared shitless all at the same time!

But I'll get through that - - somehow . . .

Anyway, let me tell about the house plans - -

We moved to our present home 10 years ago. We thought it was a good place, but over the years it has turned in to a bad parody of the Tom Hanks movie "Money Pit." It has finally gotten to the point of being totally ridiculous. With all the structural problems, wiring problems, and everything else that could POSSIBLY go wrong, we decided it was time to give up and go another direction. With all the problems this house has, it would cost nearly as much to fix it up the way it needs to be as to build a brand new house. So instead of having an old fixed-up house . . . we have decided to concentrate our efforts on a new one.

A few years later, we bought the empty lot behind our house from a neighbor, mostly to keep anyone from building behind us. Our current house is sitting lower than the back lot, and we already have enough water problems; if someone built back there it would just increase the problems. But now it has turned out to be a blessing - - the lot is already ours AND paid off; so that part is out of the way. Now time for the house plans.

Steve checked with the local lumber yard that he has dealt with for years. They are really good guys and totally reliable. He asked them to suggest someone to draw house plans. The man they recommended, Rob, used to live locally, but has since moved to Indianapolis. But he still has family ties back here and still draws plans. They gave Steve his number.

So - - hubby calls him up and talks at great length with him. He is willing to do the job! Now OUR part begins.

We start going all over Central Illinois looking at homes to see what we like and what we don't. We take pictures and point out certain features of homes we would like or want to avoid. Steve drew up a rough floor plan of what we would like the inside of the house to be. We took pictures of the back lot from every conceivable angle, complete with dimensions and lots of narrative about the lay of the ground. We scanned in all the pictures, typed up all the narrative, zipped up the file, and sent it email to him. In addition, we mailed additional pictures, narrative, and the rough floor plan to him.


Now the waiting begins . . .

A couple of weeks ago, we got an email from Rob. The preliminary plans were finished, and he was mailing them to us that day! Wow - - that was a lot faster than I thought it would be! Can't wait to see them!

A few days later, the plans arrive. They are amazing!! Somehow, with the jumble of pictures, magazine articles, narrative, dimensions, and the rough floor plan Steve had drawn, Rob came up with a totally AMAZING set of plans! Steve and I sat down and went over them, and were very pleased with what we saw. There are a few things we need to have changed, of course - - but overall they are fantastic!

Steve called Rob and talked to him about the changes he saw that we thought may need to be made, and he said there would be no problem with that.

Steve and I are going to be at Turkey Run State Park in Indiana this weekend - - get away for a couple of days, walk the trails, stay overnight in the Lodge, and just have a nice relaxing time. Before we head back to Illinois, though, we now have a little side trip to make. Rob lives over by Indianapolis - - we will have the plans he sent us with some revisions marked on them, some magazine articles and other house information, and also some more pictures and measurements on the lot, and will be going to Rob's with all of this. He said he may even be able to finalize the plans before we head back home that day! WOW - - this is incredible.

But now the real work on our part begins - - NOW we need to start talking to contractors, plumbers, electrical contractors, etc. If it all works out - - and we are determined that it will - - ground will be broken next Spring.

Like I said - - excited, but SCARED TO DEATH!!

As this goes on, I plan to chronicle the whole thing, complete with pictures.

Wish us luck!

Have a good evening, and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The brownies worked . . .

I knew they would. They work every time.

Today we got to see Travis and meet his girlfriend, Renee. I knew she was nervous about meeting us (especially ME, thankyouverymuch, Nephew!!!) - - so of course that meant dragging out the heavy artillery - - massive amounts of chocolate.

I don't think she's scared of us anymore. :-)

We like her. She's a good find. Travis, you done good. Hang on to this one!

It's been a running joke with me and Travis that I kept a baseball bat handy for the time he brought a girl home - - just in case we felt she wasn't good to him. Haven't had to use it yet - - so today I brought it with us! It's just a small plastic bat, with foam rubber padding around it (Steve told him that is so it wouldn't leave marks!). It turned out to be a surprise hit with Renee! She actually took it over and has threatened to use it on Travis if he doesn't behave!

I think I like this girl! :-)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Brownie Time!!!

Ah yes - - Brownies - - my all-time favorite! Today I am going to bake 3 batches for a very special occasion: Tomorrow my nephew Travis is going to be at my mother-in-law's house for dinner.

AND - - he's bringing his girlfriend Renee. Whom I have not met yet. And I've heard that she's really nervous about meeting me.

SO - - I figure chocolate is always a good "ice-breaker" for situations like this . . . and maybe it will show that Mean Ol' Aunt Liz's bark is WAY worse than her bite. Sometimes.

So today I am making my World Famous Killer Brownies, which consist of dark chocolate chips stirred into the batter, and Chocolate Cream Cheese frosting on top. Then I am also making Caramel Brownies, with a thick caramel swirl through them, Chocolate Fudge frosting and Heath Bits sprinkled on top, and Peanut Butter Cup Brownies, with chopped up peanut butter cups stirred in the batter, Chocolate Fudge frosting, and chopped peanut butter cups sprinkled on top.

Oh my . . . chocolate Heaven . . .

Any that are left over I am sending back up to College with Travis, so that he can share the joy of chocolate with his roommates.

Maybe Aunt Liz isn't so bad after all . . . .. :-)

Friday, September 16, 2005

A little bit about me and mine . . .

I guess the best way to start off would be to let you all know a little bit about the Jackson clan.

I work at a Community College in an Admininistrative Support position. It's a very challenging job, but working at the College level is always interesting - - the young people out here working on their education, the activities, the problems and possibilities - - it all pulls together to make the day go fast.

Husband Steve works at Caterpillar, assembling the 797 Mining Truck, billed as the "largest truck in the world." I will try to get him to help me post some pictures of it soon.

The rest of the Jackson household consists of two very spoiled cats - - Callie, who is 15 years old and most definitely is the "Queen" of the house, and Carmichael, who is 5 years old, and the young teenage "brat." The two of them are a never-ending source of amusement at our house. I will post pictures of them also.

I have a son, Keith, who is married to Dawn, and they have been so kind as to give us two wonderful grandsons - Alex, who is 6 years old and in first grade, and Jonathan, who will be 3 this month. They are our "buddies"!

Well, that is the Jackson clan in a nutshell - - I will let you know more about us and what's going on in life in future posts.

I hope everyone has a good evening!

Monday, September 12, 2005


Well! This is something new for me - - I've never tried blogging before - - so bear with me, and we'll see how this all works out!

I live in the Midwest (Central Illinois to be exact) with a husband and two spoiled rotten cats. I hope to be able to entertain you with stories of the life and times of the Jackson clan . . . sometimes hectic, sometimes funny, ALWAYS crazy!

So please feel free to check back often. I plan to post at least three times a week, maybe more if things are really interesting.

Hope to see you all soon!