Holy Sun, Batman!

Look!  Look what I found!

The SUN.

Oh, how we have missed you.

I can hardly believe it, but we may have just survived winter.  I had some serious doubts that Snowpocolypse would end but looks like we came out alright on the other side.  Sure, we’ve still got all of April for Old Man Winter to ruin my birthday month with more bitter weather.  But, until then, I’m going to take walks in my neighborhood, point excitedly at that big heap of hydrogen plasma and count my luckiest star that it decided to come out and play.

The sun was sinking fast so I had to quit my talkin’ and get to walkin’.

I pulled out these new kicks for the special occasion.  Remember them?

Ooohlala, those scantily clad extremities need not be concerned with hypothermia today!

I also asked a friend to join me.

We skipped rocks.

And we met up with old friends we hadn’t seen in a while along the way.

Anyone else considering taking the day off to stand barefoot in their driveway with their arms spread out up to the sunlit heavens shrieking “It’s here!  It’s here!  It’s finally effin’ here!”?

A Sprin(g)kling of sorts

Even though we were buried deep under the thrashes of thundersnow last week, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander (as a coping mechanism) to thoughts of Spring.  So, I bought a bag (or three) of jellybeans (purely to maintain stamina) and got to work.

For the longest while (well, since the holiday decor came down), my table has looked like this:

I like it.  It’s neutral and goes nicely with our earthy living room palette.

But, a fresh switcheroo never hurt anyone and I decided to try my hand at a Spring infused tablescape.  I wanted to avoid getting too hokey by falling victim to a pastel overdose.  Besides the jellybeans, I just tried to work with what I had around the house  and the scarf was lent to me by a friend (read: $FREE).  All in all, I ended up feeling pretty pleased with how it turned out.  I couldn’t wait to show the Internet!  Wanna see?

But once my jelly bean sugar high dissolved and I started uploading these pictures…well, I started seeing what YOU see.  My tablecloth looks like it was unearthed from the bottom of my dirty clothes hamper.  And the rest?  You know what the rest of those jumbled pieces remind me of?  They remind me of those awkward family reunions where you can tell everyone shares only a shred of likeness but an enormity of obligation and are desperately seeking an appropriate exit strategy so they can get back to their own lives.

Is this the greatest Spring decor you’ve ever seen?  No.  Did it keep me busy for 15 minutes while the Hubs tried to watch basketball?  Yes.  So, overall, it was a positive improvement to our household.  Which I took down the very next day.

Next time around, I’m going to back to what I know works.  I’m going to buy some flowers, jam them in a vase, and call it a day.

One more thing.  I did set this little basket out for when E.Bunny swings through town and needs to clean up.  Oh come on, it’s no secret that unruly fuzzy poof of a tail is a dingleberry magnet.  I’m always one to be considerate of important house guests and friends don’t let friends have dingleberries.

In my esteemed opinion, adding a personal touch, like a heartfelt note, really goes a long way.

Hey, let me know when Spring gets closer to making its cameo in MN.  Instead of tablescapes, I’ll get ready by prepping my squishy legs with self tanner and probably shave my underarms.  Probably.

Flashback Friday

It’s March Madness (Hubs told me so).  This reminded me of my old baller days –  I had moves that would surely make Jimmer cry.  And, if I’m being honest, you might cry too.  Oh hell, let’s just get this over with.

Turns out we were actually the Chiefs but apparently my cavernous cleavage swallowed the “I”, leaving me with the most humiliating picture possible.

I hope your weekend is a slam dunk, I really do.

Get In My Belly: Cranberry Salsa

Even though the days of fresh summer garden veggies have long gone to frost, you can still enjoy this amazing salsa on Tuesday Taco night (doesn’t everyone eat tacos on Tuesdays?) and be reminded of warmer days.  This recipe was stolen from a dear friend.  You’ll be glad I did the pilfering because this salsa will rock your socks.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce (or, make your own, which is unlikely)
  • 1 can of mandarin oranges, drained and cut into chunks (I use 3/4 can to cut the sweetness factor of the salsa a bit)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4-5 jalapenos, mostly seeded and diced
  • sweet corn (just because we have some frozen from this summer – it’s optional)
  • squirt of lime juice
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped (don’t be shy and load up)
  • salt & pepper to taste

The recipe also calls for pecans, but I’ve never had them on hand and I still like the way it turns out.  Another great addition would be chopped green pepper.

Instructions:

1. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and serve with chips, or on tacos, or taco salad, or nachos, or on chicken, or on regular salad in place of dressing, or with fish, or with rice, or spoon it directly into your mouth.  If you have the capability to think ahead (not I, no sir), make this a few hours ahead of time (or even better, overnight) so all of the flavors “get along” just like Rodney would have wanted them to.

The Book Nook

The Book Nook is my little place to talk about (not to be insanely obvious here…) books.  Because I like to read a book every year or so.  I promise I won’t give anything away (but, things happen).  And, there is a 76% chance that you’ll find this review a complete waste of time because you read the book 10 years ago.  Moving on.

THE BOOK: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire.

(I know.  I said I was reading The Book Thief.  Turns out, I had only *intended* to read it but never got my lazy behind to the library to check it out.  I assumed announcing it on the internet would be just the motivation I needed but we all know what happens when you assume…  So, when a friend took me into her library to tell me her grand plans of redecorating it, I did what any good friend would do:  Got distracted from her decor infused motions by her sweet collection of reads and selfishly asked if I could borrow one (Wicked) so I could put off going to the library for a few more months.)

My thoughts (which most likely carry little to no influence):

Ok, I am just going to come out with it:  This book was smarter than me.  G. Maguire, you won, okay?  So, this is what’s up.  This book is a prelude to the tale we all know from our childhood, The Wizard of Oz.  This novel details the life story of a very adept little girl who took note of the unjustness swirling about her world and its assortment of inhabitants – and as it goes, she decided to do something about it.  Her unique nature, unfortunate green skin and a series of random and not so random events  culminate into her final life experience as the infamous Wicked Witch of the West – which (teehee) very much challenges the definition of being wicked – of being evil.

The gist of the book, I get.  It’s the layers of the book’s politics that lose me a little.  Maybe it’s too formulaic of me but I wanted more closure.  I wanted more convergence of the story I was familiar with and the ending of this novel.  The Wicked Witch of the West (Elphie) was marvelously developed, the writing was excellent, and the Land of Oz intricately painted,  but I was expecting to learn more of Dorothy, her three companions and how they fit in with other interesting characters living in the strange world of Oz.  Early on, the book sneakily references the Cowardly Lion and how he became so but the ending left me with more questions than answers.  I know it was the author’s purpose to turn the Land of Oz upside down, which he did, but I was hoping he would flip it back over and fill me in just a *teeny* bit more.  Overall: a good read, a serious novel, and a writer that is capable of crafting a dark and knotty journey that makes you think harder than you’re used to.  Maybe that’s a good thing every once in a while since my daily reading usually comprises solely of oldnavy.com.

Grade: B+

Would I recommend it to a stranger on the bus (trying to make his way home)? Depends. I envision that this book would spur a wonderfully enlightened coffee shop discussion if you could round up a political science major (to pontificate on the involved systems of successful and doomed leadership), an anthropologist (to discuss the nature and origins of different people and the complexities of tribal relationships), a philosopher (who would wax poetically regarding the muddled distinction between good and evil) and me, obviously (only because I love to talk a lot and sip excitedly from a white chocolate mocha-skim-extra vanilla drizzle-no whip-but if you accidentally put whip on I’d be insanely pumped).

What I am reading now:  Cane River because I borrowed it from my MIL a hundred years ago and I suspect she wants it back before the next Olympics.  The Book Thief, you will not elude me for much longer (I hope)!!!

Read any books lately that were smarter than you?

A Frozen Banana Stand

When Hubs and I had our very romantic clean-out-the-fridge-and-freezer date before putting our house on the market, he came across something I had been hiding from him for a long time.  I had, literally, a very dark secret.

Look what he found:

Sheepishly, I had to confess to him my grand plans of opening a family operated Frozen Banana Stand this summer.  Now wouldn’t that be the perfect treat!?  But, without mercy or hesitation, he squashed those dreams right there on the spot (claiming unoriginality).  And, since our freezer is the size of my pressed powder case, these frosty smiles were taking up very precious real estate.  They, for real, have to go.

So, I’ll be busy making weekly batches of banana bread and pawning the loaves off on nice friends and neighbors until this blackened fruit mountain flattens out.  Pretend that I’m just being thoughtful when the time comes to accept your carb stipend because that’s the gracious thing to do.

Hub’s Three Things

Ok, so I told you about how Candace’s Three Things List played out.  Shall I share Hub’s Three Things?  Ok, you talked me into it.  Of course, as a reminder, we did this to force ourselves into spending some time together AND to save some wad simultaneously.

Hub’s list was ambitious.  That’s why it took us until March to get it all done.  Next year, only I get to make the lists.

First off, he wanted to spice up our life with something cultural by seeing a play/musical/performance of some kind.  I found us one.  An oddball one, turns out.  In mid December, we hit up this drum concert of sorts that my awesome yoga instructor had mentioned one day after class.  I thought this would be a perfect event to tackle the first wish on his list with and he (grudgingly?) agreed.  He shouldn’t have agreed.

Here’s how this weird concert went down:  It took place in a barn.  The musician played these crystal drums that resonated (apparently) along the lines of the seven chakras in the body.  She had a side kick that would chime in (sometimes literally) with random musical instruments – mostly tribal drums, flutes and other obscure pieces that I’ve never seen before.  It was really interesting and melodic at some points and really strange and random at others.

(In the middle though, the main musician gal played this incredible Native American flute and it was sublime.  It really was.)

We actually had to bust out before the event officially ended because 1. It went long and 2. I had to hurry home to kick off a job for work so it could run over night (Fancy Computer company, aren’t I so dedicated to you?).

Cost of concert:  $12 each + an experience we won’t soon forget + freezing cold tootsies (since we had to leave our warm boots at the door of the barn).  It was so cold in fact, I tried to surreptitiously slip my mittens over my feet towards the end of the concert.  Hubs almost busted out laughing at my antics and I almost responded with my very embarrassing snorty-gaspy laugh.  Which would have been cool but not appropriate.

Speaking of inappropriate, now would be a good time to include a bad self timer picture from that night.

Can we move on?  That date was kind of a fail.  Ok, next up…off to see a Timberwolves game!

We scored front row tickets (can you believe our luck!?) to the game and, by golly, it was a nail biter!  Unfortunately, the Twolves ended up losing by a few points in over time.  We were devastated.

All was not lost though, we were able to catch snippets of American Idol during the commercial breaks.

Cost:  Pizza was $12 bucks (and we ate it for two more meals in the following days) + got to stay home in our slippers.  Holler.

Last, but not least, a community service excursion.  Not to brag (ok, I will) but Hub’s has been donating his Saturdays (and many other days) for the last 6 years to teach high school students computer programming.  He is incredibly dedicated to them.  His students are deserving and brilliant so it has been totally worth the work he has put in to make this program successful.  But, logistically, he doesn’t have much time for more volunteering.  Weeks slipped by and we started worrying about how we were going to get this last item checked off our list.  Until, one day, I found this hanging on our door.

It couldn’t have been more perfect.  The local boys scouts were collecting for the food shelf and they would be returning the next week to pick up any food we placed outside our door!

Hubs and I set a budget of $50 and headed out one Friday evening (aren’t we wild and crazy!?) to do some grocery shopping.  It was easy because the Boy Scouts listed the food items that are in high demand and we focused mostly on those.  I say mostly because everyone needs a little fun too – so we threw in some cappuccino mix as a sweet treat for those hard working adults and some cake mix and frosting to help celebrate an upcoming event!

Hubs was born with a brain that landed with the smart side up (I mean, he married me after all!) so he was adding up the items on the fly as we stocked our cart.  Turns out, he was pretty good at keeping track of where we were in relation to our budget:

We packed up our goodies and placed them outside on a blustery cold Saturday and a little while later (while Hubs was teaching class and I was at yoga) the Boy Scouts kindly scooped them up!

Although this was not how we initially envisioned our community service outing – we actually had ourselves a smiley time and feel good knowing that this will make someone’s normally tough day a little brighter.

Because Math is fun here is the total cost of these adventures:  $24 for drum concert tix +$cost of stifling a snorty gaspy laugh  + $12 pizza + $price paid for eating too much cheese and throwing off my pooping schedule + $50 worth of groceries – $nice feelings of goodwill  =  $86 and a whole lotta making memories with the peanut to my brittle.  I think we’ll do this again next year.

Flashback Friday

We took in the 2009 fall colors on this wonderfully refreshing hike with two of our favorite people.  Shortly thereafter, those people fled the country.  I don’t think it was a coincidence.

Enjoy the weekend and do your best not to scare off any friends with your annoying personality or your roots that are in desperate need of fresh highlights.
**Update.  A horrific earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated Japan today, changing our world in an instant.  Today is a sad day.  Pray for them, please.

Raves & Faves: FEBRUARY

Here is my Top 7 (yes, 7) list of February loves. In other words, another chance to List thing-ys. *claps*

1.  Celebrating Hub’s 30th birthday.  His big day landed on a Wednesday, which is a total buzz kill when you are in your 30s (even if only for a few hours) and don’t want to stay up late on a work night.  Even so, I whipped up a few fancy cupcakes (from a box) and frosting (from a tub) the night before.

(The red eye removal was not cooperating and that’s why I am giving you the stink eye.  It’s ok.  Let’s keep going.)

On THE BIRTHDAY, we worked (blech) and then hit up Hub’s favorite burger joint for dinner, which only cost us $1 thanks to a wonderful Christmas giftcard!  How do you like them birthday sparkles!?  Here, the Hubs in all of his burger lovin’ glory:

Fortunately and unfortunately, we stuffed ourselves stupid during dinner and had to pass on dessert (gah, our ‘homemade’ cupcakes!).  But before you get you panties in a bunch, we got right down to it the next day by enjoying them for breakfast with coffee, which was a brilliant idea.

To finish off the week of birthday tomfoolery, Hub’s family swung into town for a visit.  And so we bid farewell to Hub’s 20s by eating Real Homemade Cake, which is a nice way to go if you ask me.  We did take pictures but there is no group shot with the birthday boy, thus a picture taking fail.  We’ll try again next year…

2.  Putting the house on the market!  Well, that part sucks.  BUT, it is kinda nice to be forced to scrub the fridge, throw out old makeup, make our bed again, and generally organize our cluttered quarters.  Hold up, hold up.  Organize is a strong word.  We haven’t been organizing really, but instead, fronting like we have.  See?

Along with hiding crap in our vehicles, we’ve been stashing dirty laundry (among other things) in the washing machine and dryer.  I know.

3.  Staying home.  We did that a lot this month.  Man, sometimes Boring is a very beautiful thing.  Who’s with me?

4.  Getting my feisty tax documents corralled and mailed to someone smarter than me.  If you need a great tax guy, I can’t say enough lovely things about ours, Matthew Accounting.  He takes good care of us and I can still stress eat, just not over fretful taxes.  Saweeet.

5.  Valentine’s Day!!!  No.  Actually, my Vday was heavy on the sour side but it’s crappy times like those that make me realize how I am Winning with a super supportive Mr. The Candace.  He’s so sweet you can’t process him with a normal brain, you need Adonis DNA.

6.  We sweet talked mint.com into letting us score a juicer so we could make ourselves mystery drinks from our fridge and thus turn into super humans!

We were inspired long ago by a juicing fanatic (hugs, Kari!) and finally made the decision that juicing is a verb we could get used to.  I thought these strange green potions would be phenomenal for my skin but unfortunately I just can’t seem to shake this clingy friend called puberty.  But, the juices are YUM in my tum, so it’s a win overall.

7.  My Winter Running Snot Rag.  My running buddy Becky made this for me for Christmas.  My nose runs faster than I do and this is the perfect soft landing for all that drippage (which is now a word, by the way).  One wipe and I’m as good as new!  I can already sense you have snot deposit envy.  You need a snot rag too!

February skipped out early (like it always seems to do) but (early) March sashayed in just in time.  Think we’ll get to see the sun much this month?