Monday, October 31, 2011

October 2011 Round Up

Click mosaic to biggify. Created using Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker.

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
I've nibbled at a couple of books, but nothing really stuck. It is catalog season, though, so I've been flipping through at least 1-2 of those a day. Probably doesn't count as "real" reading, but it's the best I can offer right now, particularly since I was sick most of the month.

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
* TV Time: Still running with the usual. Rules of Engagement is back (yay, our one and only sitcom), as is Mythbusters (our Wednesday is starting to get cramped). We tried Penn & Teller Tell a Lie; it was interesting, but we didn't love it, and since we already watch too much TV, we dropped it. I'm not usually big on "reality TV," but The Next Iron Chef has two different chefs on it that I really like (Robert Irvine and Anne Burrell), so I'll give it a shot. Will probably stop watching it if/when they are both gone. The first episode was interesting, though.
* New Films: Red (pretty cute, loved all the folks in it, though I was expecting a little more), and I think that's all we managed this month. It was busy!
* Old Favorites: Peter Pan, The Replacement Killers, Return of the Jedi, The Princess Bride, I.Q., Newsies, Cocktail, Working Girl, Gattaca, Alice in Wonderland, The Aristocats, V for Vendetta, Daredevil, Tangled

What special days did I celebrate and how?
Luke's 7th birthday! We had a small but fun party at home. We also did both the elementary school fall festival and the Halloween parade this year, which Luke chose to do in place of trick or treating this year.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
Birthday gifts for Luke.

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
I spent most of the month sick with a serious sinus infection that lead to an ear infection and tried really hard to become bronchitis, but I managed to beat it off with some antibiotics. Still, it was not fun. Discovering a perforated eardrum, with no obvious cause, was quite a shock! Luke was also sick early in the month, but thankfully, he managed to just have sniffles and a fever without it getting much worse.

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
I was too sick to have much fun. The party was good, and of course, we continued with soccer. The Halloween parade was pretty fun, getting to watch Luke play with a couple of his friends from school. I know he had a blast!

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
We did a home taste test of BBQ sauces that was pretty fun. DH's Aunt E's recipe won, followed closely by Sweet Baby Ray's. I tried a couple of new recipes:

Taco Cornbread Bake, which was okay

Hot Cocoa Mix, which was very good!

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
I had to buy a new alarm clock after mine jumped off the night stand and shattered the LCD face. I also bought Luke a timer dedicated to teeth brushing, since he's broken two of my kitchen timers in the last 3 months. It sticks to the mirror via suction cup. Just push the tooth button, and a green light blinks for 2 minutes. When it turns red, you're done. Seems to work great for him so far.

What were this month's disappointments or frustrations?
Being so sick for so long was both a disappointment and a frustration. Neither DH's brother nor mine made it to Luke's birthday party, both for legitimate reasons, but we still really missed them. I also got hit with a Twitter spam/spoof thing that was *super* frustrating for a few days. My first project at work started (yay!) and hit a glitch on day 2. ::sigh:: Such is the job. I keep reminding myself that if the processes all worked seamlessly, they wouldn't need a project manager!

What were my accomplishments this month?
I'm making a pretty good dent in my new 101 Things list, but primarily on the weekly or monthly items. I haven't actually marked any "single shot" items off yet, but I'm not worried at this point. Still, I missed a few monthly goals, too, so there is always room for improvement.

As I mentioned, my first work project got started, so I'm actually, you know, *doing* stuff now at work. I am also feeling the pressure of expectation weighing heavily. I just hope I can live up. I did go in to one of the systems and make my updates pretty quickly and without too much trouble, so I consider that progress.

I started a new recipe blog called Clueless in the Kitchen to help me track the new recipes for my 101 Things list and to document some of our family favorite recipes. I was really hoping to get quite a few recipes posted in October, but being sick really kicked my rear. I didn't cook as much as I hoped, and I went to bed early (like around 9PM) more nights than not because I was just so tired. Doesn't leave much time for blogging. I didn't even blog here in real time for 2-3 weeks. Hope to start back up with the recipe blog in November.

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

Luke's reading seems to be coming along fairly well. He's doing great according to everyone at school. Soccer is going okay; he could be a bit more focused, but that's just Luke, to some extent. We survived jeans shopping, which is always an adventure, though we only got 3 pair (he can still wear a couple of pair from last year, though they're a bit too short and the knees won't last long), so we'll have to torture ourselves again a bit later. We had to cancel his 7 year well visit doctor appointment because it interfered with ITBS testing at school, so I don't have his official 7 year stats yet; those will have to wait to November.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
Steve Jobs died. It will be interesting to see how Apple fares over the next few years without him at the helm.

Monthly Round Up courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Currently feeling: ready to feel fully well

Halloween 2011

The Grinning Ninja has come for you!

Check out the awesome ninja moves....

Look out, those blue eyes are killer!

And here he is with a couple of his classmates who live in our neighborhood.

"Hermione" there seems to have a bit of a crush in him. They were pretty much inseparable while waiting for the parade to start. We ended up walking over a mile (over 1.5 km) to the parade end and then back home. That means I can have some candy, right? LOL

Hope you had a safe and Happy Halloween!

Currently feeling: silent and stealthy

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Finally on the mend

Today, three full weeks after I first reported on Twitter that my throat hurt, I finally feel like I am getting better. I still have a bit of a post nasal drip, which makes me clear my throat a lot, but other than that and some lingering fatigue, I feel pretty good. No sore throat, no sore ear, no cough, no trouble breathing. It's about time! Now, if I can just get caught up on sleep....

Currently feeling: on the mend

Sunday, October 23, 2011

BBQ Sauce Taste-Off

I've never been a huge barbecue fan. It's just never been my thing, and I'm not sure why. I can eat it to be polite if I need to, I just don't crave it. Or I didn't. Then a friend of mine took me to Maddy's in Decatur this summer, and I've started craving it. Yum! Then, when we visited DH's uncle and aunt at Labor Day, her "party favors" were small bottles of her homemade barbecue sauce. Okay, well, that's great, but what do we eat it on? I have no idea how to cook a pork roast. A week or so later, I read someone's blog raving about Kirkland's (Costco brand) pulled pork. It comes already smoked and shredded; all you have to do is heat it up. Okay, fine, I'll take the hint!

The problem, of course, is that not growing up eating it at home and never really being a fan, I have no idea what brands or even styles of barbecue sauce I might like. I don't even know what to look for. Wouldn't you know it, the papers had barbecue sauce coupons in them for the next few weeks, so I could sample several without spending a ton of money. Wasn't that nice of them? I knew there was no way to pull off a double blind taste test, but DH did do the tasting blind. I mixed up a couple of bites of pork with each of the five sauces, and off we went.

Turns out, Aunt E knows what she's doing! Hers was our favorite, so I will definitely have to ask for the recipe. Following close behind, though, was Sweet Baby Ray's, which I had never even heard of before Pinterest. I am now a believer! Still not as good as Aunt E's (or Maddy's), but very good, plus quick and easy. The Kroger KC Style was just okay. Surprisingly, the KC Masterpiece Original has very little flavor of any kind. It's almost like it just made the meat more moist; very strange, and very disappointing, considering I love the KC Masterpiece BBQ Lays chips so much. And bringing up the rear was the Kroger Traditional, which neither of us liked at all. So there you go, the results of our own little private taste test.

Currently feeling: ready for some barbecue

Saturday, October 22, 2011

More Pinterest Ideas in Action

Yes, I am still addicted to Pinterest! LOL It's taking up less of my time these days, but I still check in nearly every single day. And I've put a few more ideas from there into practice. This is my current favorite:

Store hair elastics on a carabiner. (See pin.) This is so much easier and faster than the flimsy cardboard they come on! I find myself putting them back on the carabiner and back in the drawer much more than I used to. I got the carabiners from Amazon. They're not high quality (certainly not for climbing, and they say that), but I don't need them to be. For this, they are perfect.

This is more of an inspiration. The actual pin is about using chalkboard paint on baby food jar lids to store your spices. While that is a good idea, I like the tall narrow bottles that the spices I buy come in. The problem, though, is that I store them in this plastic bin and I ended up picking up half the bottles looking for the right one. But hello, why not just write the names of the spices on the lids like the pin does?! One silver Sharpie later, and I am a very happy girl.

And last but not least is a recipe, Taco Cornbread Bake from food blog Plain Chicken (see pin or direct recipe link). It was just okay. Part of the problem is that the cornbread is way too sweet, in my opinion. It would definitely be better with a savory cornbread, but I think it was also missing something I can't quite put my finger on.

So that's the latest on Pinterest. Anything you are loving from there at the moment? Do y'all like this, or would you prefer that I hush about it already? LOL Let me know.

Currently feeling: wondering what's next

Friday, October 21, 2011

Minor Work Breakthrough

Hey, I might actually be starting to get the hang of things at work. I went into the database today and quickly *and* successfully updated the database with my dates and shipping instructions. Still learning how to set the dates, but I know what to do with them when I have them. Woo-hoo, go me!

Of course, the universe couldn't let me feel good about myself for very long. I got a call less than 15 minutes later informing me that my very first project has hit a glitch. Yay. Of course, if all of the processes worked like they are supposed to, I guess they wouldn't need a project manager!

Currently feeling: hanging in there

Thursday, October 20, 2011

ENT Results

I saw the ENT today. Dr. S was much more concerned that I've been this sick for two weeks now than he is about the perforated eardrum. He is equally baffled by how the perforation occurred, other than just a pressure buildup with my sinus infection. Since I am a heavy sleeper, it could possibly have burst while I was sleeping, especially with how tired I've been. Hhe wants to wait for the infection to clear up before even thinking about poking around in my ear. He did give me some "magic mouthwash" with a steroid in it to help with the ulcers and the infection. I *hate* steroids! And I'm supposed to be on them for the next 60 days? Ugh! Sure hope the eardrum repairs itself before I go back so he won't have to do anything. So, no action to take now (just steroids). We'll recheck it in December.

Currently feeling: relieved

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Clueless In the Kitchen: New Recipe Blog

Yes, I know, another new blog. I haven't done as well on my thrifty blog as I hoped (funny how getting a job affects things), though it is still going and I am still recording my thoughts on generics and such as I try them.

But, in support of my "Try 101 new recipes" item on my new 101 Things list, I decided to start a cooking/recipe blog as "proof" of completion, instead of posting them all here. Bulletin board friends will recognize the title as my usual signature when I'm asking "dumb" cooking questions on the board: Clueless in the Kitchen.

I'll post all the new ones as I try them (with pictures!), plus some of our family favorites. I'm not sure yet if I'll have them post to my twitter feed or not (thoughts?). I'll list any new recipes in the monthly round up, though, so you'll know what I tried, and the photos will probably show up sometimes as Wordless Wednesdays and such. If I find something awesome, I'll be sure and post it here, too!

There's not a lot there right now, just a couple of recipes to whet your appetite (pun intended). I thought I would have more up there by now, but being so sick has prevented me from doing much of anything except surviving my day at work. Hope you enjoy following me along. I'm not much of a chef or any sort of food photographer, but I think it will be fun nonetheless. Bon appetit!

Currently feeling: like cooking

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Getting Sicker (Again)

Yes, again! I know!!! After my visit to the Minute Clinic Sunday, I was feeling much better Monday and Tuesday, which was awesome. Wednesday was a bit of a step back, but that's not uncommon with antibiotics. Then this morning, in just 4 hours, and including *after* taking medicine and giving it time to work, I was rapidly getting considerably worse. The sniffles were back, the head congestion was back, I'd started coughing again, it was getting harder to breathe, and my ear was hurting worse than ever. I knew by 10 AM that it was time to go back to the doctor.

I called to ask if she had anything available that day. "Oh, I think I just gave out her last appointment for today. What symptoms are you having?" I gave her the 30 second version of the story. "Hmm. You know she doesn't see patients on Fridays." I know, but I can't wait until Monday; I'll have bronchitis by then. "I can make you an appointment for one of the other doctors." Grumble, grumble. I guess beggars can't be choosers. "She can probably squeeze you in if you can be here by 11:30?" Yes, I can absolutely be there by 11:30! Working from home does have its perks. :-)

I actually didn't even wait that long. She was frowning as she came in; apparently she could hear me coughing from 2 rooms away. They cleared the wax from my right ear, and yes, it is definitely infected. She also confirmed my suspicions that I have developed ulcers all over my soft palate in the back of my throat, making it painful to swallow. Naturally, the antibiotic the Minute Clinic had given me is well known for *not* working on my ear infections (and likely caused the ulcers as well), so she changed me to something else. She also told me to increase the Mucinex dose I was taking (basically from regular to max strength). Will do.

Just to be safe, she checked my left ear to see if it was also getting infected. "Hmm. Have you had any pain in this ear or done anything to it?" Noooo, why? "You have a perforated eardrum." I have a what?!! "You have a hole in your eardrum. A big one. Perforations are usually like a pinprick, maybe the size of a pencil lead. Yours is taking up a quarter to a third of your eardrum, 3-4 mm." Oooookay, shouldn't I remember something like that happening? I thought those were supposed to be painful. "Usually, yes. Have you done anything involving pressure changes lately? Jumped in a lake? Had a blow to the head?" Um, no! "Had pressure issues on an airplane?" I flew just after Labor Day, but that was a month ago, and I didn't really have any issues. "And this ear hasn't hurt since you've been sick?" No, not at all! "They didn't mention it at the Minute Clinic?" No one said anything. It's only my right ear that has been bothering me with pain or pressure. You know, the infected one. My left ear has been fine! "I'm going to have one of the doctors come in and take a look." She's actually the PA (physician's assistant), but I've been seeing her since before Luke was born, and I adore her. This is only the 3rd or 4th time she's gone to get one of the doctors in all the years I've been seeing her. Scary!

Dr. B took a look and his eyebrows went up. "That's a big hole. Are you sure you didn't just miss it before now?" Look, buddy, you're new here, less than 2 years at the practice. I've been seeing H for nearly a decade! She's looked in my ears at least twice a year in that time, sometimes several more times than that, since this is not my first ear infection (or even my second; probably my 4th or 5th since I've been with her). If it was there before, especially if it is as large as you say, she would have noticed! After some deliberation, they decided to send me to an ENT. Normally, even with a hole that size, if we could pinpoint a cause or circumstance for it, she would have just sent me home to see if it would heal itself in a few weeks. But, with absolutely no idea when or how it got there, and given the size of the rupture, they wanted a specialist to take a look and make sure there isn't some oddball serious cause for it that they aren't aware of. They also wanted an expert to make the call on whether or not it needs to be surgically patched. Great, more doctors, and now possible surgery. And all on the ear that *wasn't* hurting!! Sheesh. I just can't win!

They're supposed to call me tomorrow with my appointment, which I'm pretty sure translates to: it usually takes a few weeks to get in to see this ENT, but you need to be seen sooner than that, so we'll call them and make sure they see you sometime next week, but you'll have to take whatever they have open. I've only been at my new job for 5-6 weeks, and I now have a second doctor appointment and possible surgery (would just be a single day outpatient thing, but still!). I'm sure my boss is going to love this. ::rolls eyes:: Actually, he is very understanding (so far), I just hate having to do this so soon during my tenure.

Currently feeling: wishing I could be sick and get over it like normal people

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Luke's 7th Birthday Party

Time for Luke's birthday party! But first, we must play soccer.

::sigh:: Ah, one day, I will have a DSLR! All of these were taken by my parents, who each brought their big cameras to the field.

Some fun full action shots.

And some great close ups (both of these are completely uncropped).

By the way, it is heart-stopping when *this* happens. They didn't actually touch him, but it is so scary watching the possibility unfold before your eyes.

How about some field play?

Not that it helped; we got absolutely trounced. Admittedly, we played badly. All of the boys were either getting over something or coming down with something (or, like Luke, actively sick; he was still running a low fever that morning). But I'm not sure it would have mattered even if we'd been in top form. Those kids were *good,* and they knew it.

But these sure seemed to make the kids feel better (I decorated them myself):

And Luke loved these, although he didn't get to actually hold them while we were outside. It was *way* too windy. I don't care what they said on Mythbusters, I'm convinced he would have blown away while holding them.

But there's no time! We've gotta get home, bathe, eat lunch, and prepare to party! We did Phineas and Ferb this year, per Luke's request.

And Mom did her usual fantastic job on the cake.

I literally spent days working on these. Six collages, sporting roughly 35 photos each, starting with October 7, 2010. There was basically one each for fall, winter, spring, and summer, plus two for Boston. Everyone seemed to get a real kick out of looking at them, and I let everyone (all adults) take what they wanted as party favors.

It was a small party this year. Neither DH's brother (and wife and girls) nor my brother could make it, and we missed them terribly. But my MIL's sister and her husband came for the first time, which was great! I think it had been a few years since we had seen them, and here was our second visit in a month (they were at DH's uncle's house over Labor Day). Plus my parents, my mom's mom, and the three of us. Probably a good thing, since I just continued to get sicker as the day progressed.

After refreshments came cake and gifts.

I love this shot. He's practically drooling!

The party was a great success. Everyone really seemed to enjoy it, and it was a nice mostly quiet affair. Things broke up around 5PM, and we had dinner around 6. Mom pretty much made me sit while she did all of the clean up, for which I am very grateful. By now, my right ear was hurting, usually signaling an ear infection, and the coughing was much worse. Not only did she have nearly every dish in the house clean, she had me packed off to bed by 9:30.

I woke up the next morning with what I knew was a sinus infection. My grandfather's facility called to say his blood pressure was low, so Mom and Dad decided to leave a bit early and swing by there on their way home. Mom whipped up a casserole and tossed it in the refrigerator before she left, which meant that I didn't even have to worry about dinner. Have I mentioned lately that my parents rock?

I basically followed them out the door and headed to the Minute Clinic. I knew if I waited until Monday that I wold have bronchitis, and I really didn't want to go down that road. I arrived a little after 10 AM, and I was waiting on a prescription to treat my diagnosed sinusitis by 11:30. She couldn't check my ear because it was occluded by wax, but the antibiotics will hopefully take care of all of it. Hopefully I'll start feeling better in a day or two.

Currently feeling: is he really 7?!