Fall Back Into Blogging: The Ghost of Blog Posts Past

It's Friday and that means the last day of the Fall Back Into Blogging event. I'm super bummed to see it go, but I've had a good time taking part. I'll definitely be looking for more events from SITS Girls in the future. So here's the final prompt...

Friday

Link up a post you wrote on this day (September 28th) from a previous year. If you didn’t publish something on the 28th, link up a post from that week.
 
I did some checking into it and I didn't write a post for September 28th last year--I have apparently never written a post for September 28th on this blog, so this will be the first one ever. So, instead I'm going to post up some links from the previous years corresponding to this week. I've only had this blog since 2009, so this shouldn't take long. None of my old blogs are up or around anymore, so trying to find them wouldn't work, which is why I'm restricting it to only this blog.

Oh, also, it's reverse chronological. Here goes.

Well, that took less time than I thought it would! This event really has been fun--I think I've said that a time or ten. Ha! Anyway, happy readying and happy fall, y'all!

Fall Back Into Blogging: 3-Layer Pumpkin Spice Pie

I'm so sad that this week's blogging event is almost over, it's been a blast! I've enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I think I might hunt down more blog events to take part in--I've tried NaPoBloMo, but it's too long to keep my attention! Alrighty, here's today's prompt from the lovely ladies at SITS Girls' Fall Back Into Blogging event...


Thursday

Share your favorite fall craft or autumn recipe.
 
There are so many recipes I love to bake during the fall that I could probably make a whole blog about it! Unfortunately, I only have space enough for one recipe, so I'm going to share one I've posted on this blog before, because I love it so much. Even Matt, who hates pumpkin, loves this pie. The only catch here is that it relies on a seasonal product, the Jell-O Pumpkin Spice Instant Pudding. If you can find it, this pie is worth the five or so minutes it takes to whip it up. If not, you can always do what I do and make it with other types of pudding. I imagine it will work with any type, I can vouch for chocolate first hand!


3-Layer Pumpkin Spice Pie

2 pkg. (3.4 oz.) Jell-O Pumpkin Spice Instant Pudding
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 c. cold milk
1 graham cracker crust
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip
1/2 c. whole pecans (optional)
1 Tbsp. honey (optional)

Beat Jell-O pudding mixes, milk, and cinnamon with a wire whisk until completely smooth (about 2 minutes).

Spoon 1 1/2 cup pudding into the pie shell and set aside.

Add 1 1/2 cup Cool Whip to the pudding mixture and mix, carefully, until blended (don’t over mix, Cool Whip tends to flatten when it’s over mixed).  Carefully spread mixture on top of the pudding in the pie shell.

Top with remaining cool whip.  Refrigerate for at least 60 minutes before serving.

If you decided to include pecans, cook nuts and honey in skillet on medium-low heat 2 to 4 min. or until nuts are caramelized, stirring frequently. Spread onto sheet of waxed paper, separating larger clusters. Cool. Sprinkle over pie just before serving.

Enjoy and happy fall, y'all!!

Image via KraftFoods.com

Fall Back Into Blogging: Fall's Inspiration

Wednesday's here and that means Wednesday's Fall Back Into Blogging prompt! So, without further ado, because this one is my favorite one of the week, here it is...


Wednesday

Fall is a great time to write, because it is a season filled with colors, smells, and textures (fuzzy scarves, itchy sweaters, crunchy leaves) – all ingredients for a great story. Share one of your favorite fall memories with us, or something you look forward to each fall (hello, Pumpkin Spice Latte, my old friend).


Ever since I was a little girl, fall has been my favorite season. Though I've never really lived in a place where fall means red, orange, and gold leaves falling from trees and apple orchards, the autumn season has always been a big part of my family culture. Of course, fall means many things outside my family life, like shorter days, crisp, cool nights, and cooler weather, but it's the part of the season that is linked with my home life that makes the season so special to me.

My mom ran a daycare out of our house for about 13 years, give or take a half a year. There were little kids running everywhere, which didn't always agree with me, except that I was lucky enough to have my mother at my disposal (for the most part) for the entirety of my childhood. That's invaluable and as I grew up I came to appreciate that she had put our house through the wear and tear of home daycare for us. She did it to spend time with us. The fall meant a lot of things with a daycare in the house, just one of them being a really awesome Halloween party every year. The Halloween party was so epic, in fact, that kids who weren't on her active roster showed up for this party--with their parents, of course, so that we weren't over legal capacity. There was food, games, and tons of candy. It was amazing. Then, she'd make us chili and cornbread at night and we'd go trick-or-treating, until we were older, of course, and then we'd answer the door for trick-or-treating.

But the Halloween party isn't all, mom would celebrate the fall by decorating our house for the season. Everything would be decked out with fall colors, fall garlands, a fall wreath, scarecrows, pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, and the like. It was absolutely beautiful and allowed us to feel the fall, even in the Southern California Mojave Desert, where fall was more a state of mind and time of year, than it was a reality of the weather. Thanks to mom, I'll always feel a special kinship with the fall season. So much so that this year, am inspired to decorate my house for the season, starting with a pretty autumn wreath for my door!

Happy fall, y'all!!

Fall Back Into Blogging: Images of Fall

There's a lot going on here today, but I'm so glad to be able to share today's prompt with you (before I go spend an uncountable number of hours playing WoW's new expac, Mists of Pandaria!). Here it is, straight from the SITS Girls Fall Back Into Blogging event...


Tuesday

Show us a picture of what fall looks like in your neck of the woods. Or show us a picture that means “fall” to you.
 
Okay, this one's pretty tricky because fall doesn't look particularly, well, fall-like here. It just looks like late summer Texas, in drought weather, at that! But, I managed to find something to write about instead. This will probably make more sense after tomorrow's post, but I bought new decorations for my house and a few fall-ish things at Wal-Mart today. I thought I'd share them with you, rather than a picture of fall outside.

Here they are...


The first image is of the pretty, sparkly berries on the new wreath I got for my front door. Unfortunately, it won't fit between the door and the storm door, so it's hanging inside the house, instead.

The next one was the hardest to take a picture of, mostly because it's hard to see what it is. The picture doesn't do it much justice, either. It's a cute little purple jack-o-lantern tea light holder. I got two of them and I absolutely love them!

The third picture is fingerless gloves. I participate, frequently, in NaNoWriMo and in the winter my hands get really, really cold typing. I've been looking for these forever. When I saw them at Wal-Mart today, I knew I had to have them!

The last picture is one of two Halloween coloring books I got today. The funny part of this is that I don't have kids. I just enjoy coloring!

Each of the pictures were taken with my iPhone 3GS (can't upgrade to iPhone 5 until May *boo*) and adjusted with Instagr.am. Oh, and I slightly photoshopped them because my phone takes not-so great-photos!

Happy fall, y'all!!

Fall Back Into Blogging: School Memories

Today is the first day of the SITS Girls Fall Back Into Blogging event. I'm so excited. There's a prompt every day this week. Here's today's prompt...

Monday

Whether you have kids or not, we’re sure you have a great school story that you haven’t shared. It might be a teacher who inspired you, a disastrously funny moment, or getting your first kiss by the lockers before 4th period Geometry class – we want to read your best school memory.
 
Believe it or not, I've been thinking about this prompt all weekend. I intended to start this thing days ago and just schedule the posts, but after I read the prompt I wasn't entirely certain what to write about.  First, absolutely nothing came to mind. I've been out of high school for 16 1/2 years and all of my high school memories are sort of marred by and tangled up with my images and memories shared with my ex-husband. Then, after a while, tons of things started coming to mind, but just as snippets of this and that, not enough to make one cohesive story--memories of jr. high, high school, and even from college. But now, as I write this, I'm thinking so what?! So what if my favorite memories are just little bits of this and that, a sort of collage of the past? If that's what I've got, that's what I'll share, so this might be a little bit disjointed, just hang in there. It's not exactly what the prompt asks for, but close enough! ~.^

Some pretty general memories come to mind...
  • Writing notes with my friend Mindy (like, every period) from 7th to 10th grade. Some of them were written upside down and backward. All of them, on my part, had terrible spelling and grammar. She use to tease me about my atrocious spelling and grammar.

  • Strangely, I remember very clearly the day that I met my ex-husband in tenth grade English class. We had Dr. Redmond (Redmon?) and he sat between me and Mindy.
But, strangely, lots of my memories are tied up with English class...
  • In 9th grade, I got an F- on an English paper/assignment in Mr. Baker's class.

  • In 10th grade, I changed "tracks" and read Shakespeare's Julius Cesar twice (Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears... ha!).

  • In 11th grade, Mr. Redmond assigned us a poem that we had to read and discuss in front of the class. I actually planned not to do it, but when Mike got wind of it he talked me into doing it. He told me to tell Mr. Redmond that I had no idea what it was about, to listen closely as he explained it, and then to regurgitate what he told me. I did it and got a good grade. The poem was something about mushrooms, I think. I don't know why I remember that.

  • Let's see, all my friends took senior honor's English with Ms. French and were given assignment based on novels, one of them (who shall remain nameless) made a bad grade because his mother had done his assignment (ha!).
And there were the more social things...
  • Being humiliated in my senior psych class when my best pal decided to tell a guy that I had had a crush on him since the 7th grade. Right in front of everyone, including Mike, who thought it was hilarious. Although, it was only half true because in 7th grade, I, like many other girls, had a thing for Darren Rowe (again, not sure why I remember that!).

  • Homecoming dances and prom, once I was talked into going. We always had a good time. I particularly enjoyed getting group pictures.

  • One funny thing that stands out in my mind was having lunch with everyone and William French's funny little "11th commandment" quips. He particularly liked to make fun of the freshman.

  • Oh, and Jodi refusing to say the f-word, replacing every f-word with "bunny."

  • Or the time she [Jodi] left her shoes at school and went home barefoot once when we were seniors.
Let's see, what else??
  • French class, which I had with Shannon (pretty sure that's right). We had to make up French names and I cheated and used Marie, my middle name.

  • Our French teacher, who made us do French journals, told me I had "beautiful handwriting."

  • The time we got into a fender bender in the parking lot after school because Mike was rolling forward and not watching where he was going. Though I saw it coming, I couldn't quite find the words to tell him to STOP. We bumped into a truck and the front bumper of our blue VW bug got stuck under their back bumper.

  • In tenth grade I use to walked home with this guy named Ray--he only lived around the block. He and I had a weird friendship where he called me "blondy" even though I wasn't really blonde. He also enjoyed pushing me off the road into the sandy shoulder because I was wearing flip flops and the sand would get into my shoes. He was quite cute.
Then there was the drama...
  • Like Shannon's (dammit, what was her last name?!) constant obsessed relationship issues with Scott Erickson. He and I did not get along.

  • I think it was in jr. high social studies when I made this really awesome sugar cube castle for a project and Scott totally showed me up with his Lego castle with a working drawbridge and little men. To be fair, he showed everyone up, but he was very smug about it.

  • Or in jr. high when Krystal K. was always threatening to beat me up--something I remember in a sort of distant way, for whatever reason.

  • Then there was the time I dated a friend's brother. When we broke up her friends made my life miserable, following me around and threatening to beat me up.
I'm going to stop there because if I don't this posts is going to get really, really long. I could probably go on, and on, and on, and on, and on...

Well, not quite. There's one more thing.
  • The only really memorable moments as an undergrad was the Backgrounds to Western Lit class when our professor brought our papers back and gave the class a lecture about what is and is not appropriate in college papers. She said, "Your mothers may care about your opinion, but no one else does." She didn't mean everyone, Melanie and I had made really good grades on that paper, but it was a really amusing moment and something that has become, and remained, a running joke between us.
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Like I said, I could go on, but I won't. I hope you have an awesome Monday and if you made it this far, thanks for hanging in with my completely disjointed, in-no-particular-order, school memories. ^.^

The SITS Girls Fall Back Into Blogging Event (And a Somewhat RelevantSidetrack, too)

Next week, I'm doing a blog event from SITS Girls!  Since I don't often participate in this sort of thing, I'm really excited to do so this time. The theme of many blog meme/events are usually not something I can connect to, but since I love fall so much and I really like SITS Girls, too, this blog event is right up my alley. If you're interested, check it out and let me know if you'll take part, too.

So, basically, I'll be posting a response to a different prompt every day next week--Monday-Friday. They're all, no surprise, about the fall season! I'm planning to get a head start on this project this week, maybe tonight, though you won't see them until the day they're supposed to be posted next week. The head start is because next week the new World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria, comes out and since I plan to raid again, I'll be leveling my tail off. Ooh, and to add to the seasonal fun the 24th is the first day of WoW's Harvest Festival and BrewFest begins on the 28th. Yes, I know talking about virtual fall events makes me a total geek, I'll take it! The fall events, particularly Hallow's End (in October) are my favorite in-game events all year!

Now where was I, oh yeah, the Fall Back into Blogging event. I'm really looking forward to it. At this point, I'm beginning to want to take part in anything that will bring me closer to the fall season because, well, I just love it so much! I just wish we had something approximating what they get on the east coast during the autumn. The closest thing I've seen is in Waco, down by the Brazos river, in Cameron Park, the leaves on the trees all turn the most beautiful autumn shades. *sigh*

Again, let me know if you're interested. It's not something you really have to sign up for, that I can tell, but there are prizes for participating so that's awesome. Anyway, I'm shutting up now. Good night!

A New Look...

You may not believe this, but it's actually been a long time since I changed my blog's theme. The theme I've been using for a long time, Beauty & Clean, is wonderful and has a lot of customization options. So, when I was looking to make changes, all I did was change the header image and link colors. That's it. It was easy, but the general (quite clean) theme stayed the same. Since I've been blogging since 2003, I've made a lot of theme--and even platform--changes. It's like moving my virtual furniture--since I can't move my real furniture because there're not many ways it'll fit in my living room. It's something I'll never stop doing because, well, I get tired of a theme after a while. It took me a long time to get tired of Beauty & Clean, and I'll likely go back to it some day, but for now I thought I'd go with something seasonal, so I made a switch!!

I really, really love the seasonal colors of this theme. It took a bit of tweaking, they almost always do, but it's almost perfect now. There're still some small problems I can't seem to (or have the patience to) fix, such as numbered and bulleted lists being pushed against the margin (annoying, but not annoying enough for me to stress over it).  All the bigger issues, like the fact that avatars/gravatars weren't showing up on the comment form, have been fixed.

If you have any issues seeing images, clicking links, etc., please let me know. Also, I'd love to hear what you think of it if you have a minute to say. For now, it's 1:45am and Du Maurier's Rebecca is calling my name. Good night.

House Repair Issues

I'm having a really frustrated night. You know those days when everything seems really bleak and problems seem insurmountable? Yeah, it's that kind of night. It's another one of those awesome when-it-rains-it-pours type things, where there're a lot of things that need fixing and I don't even know where to begin to fix them all. The house we live in needs work, more work than I thought, and I'm frustrated at the prospect of having to spend the time/money to do the work.

The annoying thing is that I was having a perfectly fine day. Then, I had a surge of energy and decided to shampoo the carpet in my living room. Having two dogs living inside the house, the carpet needed it. Turns out my carpet shampooer is broken/leaking and when I put water in it, the water all leaks out onto the carpet. Yes, this made a huge damn mess. I dealt with it for about half the floor before I decided it was too much a problem to go on. I'm just going to throw the stupid thing away, it only cost $100 or so.

Instead, I really want to replace the floor in the living room. It's cheap carpet and has been in the house for the last 8 years. It's time. So, I want to put in vinyl plank flooring because it's waterproof and the laminate floating plank flooring isn't. The issue here, of course, isn't the flooring. The flooring is really inexpensive, it'll only cost us about $200 to do our living room, the issue is that the subfloor near the windows is wet underneath the carpet. It's bulging and moldy, so it really needs to be replaced. This happened because the windows leak. So, now I'm worried that the joists under the subfloor (which is just plyboard) are also needing to be replaced because they might also be wet/molding/rotten.

Yeah, one big ol' problem after another. Fortunately, it's only a small section of subfloor and joists that need replacing so I'm thinking that after Christmas, at the beginning of the year, I'll get an estimate from someone who actually knows what the hell they're doing to replace it. I can't imagine it'll be that expensive. It's not the whole living room (I hope--I'd have to take up all the carpet to see, but I don't think so).

Oh, and this all compounds the fact that our heater still doesn't work and the fact that our manager wants us to replace part of the skirting on the house because it's broken and there're places we can see under the house. I have idea how much it'll cost to replace the heater, hopefully it'll be reasonable. The skirting is another issue, it wouldn't need replacing if the maintenance people hadn't chipped the crap out of it with the weed eater. The skirting has all these little holes along the bottom because they got too close, too often, with the weed eater. Matt thinks he can fix the skirting (which should be interesting), so we're going to do that soon because it's only $10 or so a panel.

Finally, we need new steps. I was hoping to get a deck built in the front of the house, but with all the other repairs, we're going to have to pass on that. So, I'm looking into getting fiberglass steps. The ones we have now are wood and they're falling apart. Sadly, the fiberglass steps are going to be expensive. They're about $400 + $75 for the railing and $110 for shipping. Bleh. Almost $600 for steps. That sucks. So, I might just see about building wooden steps instead, hopefully it won't be nearly as pricy.

So yeah, I'm ticked off and frustrated, but I also know that some of the issues absolutely must be fixed to prevent bigger problems. And I guess I have to fix the stupid leaking windows. And the irony? If I had fixed the leaking windows years ago, I wouldn't be having the problem with the sub flooring at all, which is going to be the biggest part of the job. It just sucks. But, it'll be a new project to start a new year and when it's done I'll be able to install the new floors, which were the whole reason I started looking at the subflooring to begin with.

Whew! There's a lot to do, and it's going to be expensive to do it, but ranting about all of it is actually making me feel better. Awesome.

Captain Morgan

Have you seen these clips? They're commercials for Captain Morgan's Black and though I'm not much of a rum drinker, I love them. They make me want to buy the rum, which Matt would probably drink, just to support them so they keep making the awesome commercials. I've looked into it and the actor who plays the captain is Joshua Burrow, with whom I am now quite enamored, but only as long as he's Captain Morgan.

I'm not really sure what order the story goes in, or if there's a specific order, and I couldn't find anything about it. So, here they are in no particular order...











I've read online that this last video, "Glass," is the last video in the series. Too bad, too. I love these commercials (maybe a little too much). I liked them on Facebook and I think I may have watched the videos a half a dozen times each tonight. Yes, it's an obsession... but not an unhealthy one, right? Right?! ~.^

Back to School...

...but not where, and for what, that you might guess. I've been thinking about how I want to use my education and there is one thing I know for certain, teaching is out. So, the idea of going on to get a Ph.D in English, knowing that there's not much more than teaching that can be done with that, was just not feasible. I can't see myself changing my mind about teaching, so I started looking for something else. That's when I noticed that business is a really popular landing place for many English majors, yet most jobs in business want you to have a business degree.

So, I started looking into it and decided that I'd go back to school for just that, a business degree. Tarleton offers a MBA, which I could work toward, but their MS in Human Resource Management is just much more ideal for me. Human Resources is a very big field, there are lots of opportunities in HR, and I feel like adding an HR degree to my English degree is a big step forward.

The program is only 30 hours, of which I already have six since they're electives and I have my credits from English. So, I just need 24 hours, which is eight classes. It won't take long for me to finish since there's not thesis to be written, only about three semesters. No time at all! So, I start in January. Right now, I'm just waiting for my financial aid to come through, which shouldn't be a problem. Registration is November 5th and when it comes closer I'll sit down with their course rotation list and decide what to take.

I'm actually looking forward to it. Business will be a new challenge for me, it's not like anything I've ever done before, and I'll be back to school. I can't wait to get started. Matt's also going to apply, but he's not taken the GRE so we're waiting to see what he'll need to do to be accepted. It might be something we can do together, which would be really neat. And, to add one more bonus, I have a friend who is also considering doing the program for a reason similar to mine. I'm so looking forward to the next step!

No-bake Chocolate Cheesecake

On Tuesday morning, Matt came home from work with a whole lot of dairy. He came home with 8 tubs of cream cheese spread in various flavors, five pounds of shredded Colby and Jack, and a two pound block of sharp cheddar. Though we would have paid almost $50 for all of this at the grocery store, he got all of that for $11. All this time, the last eight months, we've been seriously missing the value of his working where he does. Cheap food, that's the real gem, particularly because cheese costs about $10 for three pounds of shred in the grocery store. It's ridiculous.

It was when I saw the chocolate cream cheese spread that I had an idea. Cheesecake! So I hunted down a recipe, got myself a crust, and set to making it. It was so, so simple and we loved it!

No-bake Chocolate Cheesecake
Adapted from Easy Cheesecake Recipe #1 at MomsWhoThink.com

1 shortbread crust
8 ounce package chocolate soft cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar (or Splenda)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
8 ounces Cool Whip, slightly thawed

Beat cream cheese until it's smooth, add sugar, mix until completely smooth. Add sour cream and vanilla, beat until well blended. Carefully fold in Cool Whip (it's important to fold, rather than mix to keep Cool Whip from falling). Spoon into pie crust and chill four hours, serve.

I used Splenda, rather than sugar, and used a shortbread cookie crust, rather than graham cracker. The only thing was that the pie was really soft and fluffy. I think this has something to do with the fact that rather than using a brick of cream cheese, I used cream cheese spread, which is a little bit softer to start with. I won't change anything next time, except maybe to try a different flavor of cream cheese, I think next time I might just freeze it. It seems like it would set up a little harder frozen because of the ease of freezing Cool Whip. Matt's promised me pumpkin cream cheese soon, so I definitely see a no-bake pumpkin cheesecake in my future!

Can't wait!