Friday, December 31, 2010

Be the change that you want to see…

Here it is, the last day of 2010.

At the beginning of this year, I was preparing to pack up house and hounds to move to the Middle East to be with my husband. I must say, I was excited, because I know for a fact it never snows in the desert. It also never rains, but whatever.

Unfortunately, the work, like the slugs on the sidewalks, dried up. CGMan was coming home! But not before we had another excellent adventure, this time in Egypt. We rode camels, saw pyramids, swam in the Red Sea and lived through a sham ’al.

Once back in the good ole U.S. of A., we worked on getting to know each other again. We started dating, if you will. We took day trips, and road trips, went to the movies and and out to dinner. It has been a glorious 9 months! I must say, I really like dating when we don’t have to go to Chuck E. Cheese, which is what happens when you date a woman with three children. 

We also went about the task of finding a job for CGMan right here in Austin. Well, that turned out to be a little less fun than dating a premenopausal woman with two spoiled dogs. The job market in Austin just didn’t have anything for this retired Coastie. It just wasn’t supposed to happen, I guess.

I am thankful that CGMan has indeed found a job that I know he will enjoy. Not so thankful that it is in a place that snows. Regularly. I find it terribly ironic that I started this year preparing to live in saris and sandals and now, a mere 10 months later, am having to buy wool socks and ear muffs.

Well, life is nothing, if not unpredictable.

So I go forth into 2011 with the same schedule of moving house and hounds to be with my far away husband. Maybe not to as exciting a place as Abu Dhabi, but I’m sure Washington, DC has its intriguing places, as well. It will be my adventure to seek them out.

We are wishing wonderful things for all of you in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Did you know…?

…the white meat of the turkey was considered the only meat good enough for guests? The dark meat would have been given to the servants.

…that the Twelfth night of Christmas is on January 6th and is called Epiphany?

…it will bring bad luck for the coming year to take down decorations before that day?

…it only took three years after Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in 1879, for Edward H. Johnson, who worked in his company, to have Christmas tree lights  made especially for him?

…it wasn’t until 1903 that Ever-Ready made the first strings of lights, but they were expensive and when one bulb went out, they all did?

…in 1927, General Electric made the smaller bulbs that didn’t get hot and when one went out, the rest stayed lit?

…in America in 1822, the postmaster of Washington, DC, complained that he had to add 16 mailmen at Christmas, just to handle the cards? He wanted the number of cards a person could send to limited by law. “I don’t know what we’ll do, if this keeps on,” he wrote.

…that a wealthy man named Nicholas saved three daughters from being sold into slavery for not having a dowry, by dropping small bags of gold down their chimney? The bags landed in the girls’ stockings, which were drying by the fire. 

…Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday in 1836?

…in 1907, Oklahoma was the last state to declare Christmas a legal holiday?

…for every real Christmas tree harvested, 2 or 3 seedlings are planted in its place?

… that Dawn was still in a turkey coma when they visited the National Museum of the Pacific War, and was therefore unable to properly chronicle and narrate this awesome museum.

…will have more stories to share, but for now is spending time with her in-laws and husband before they all go off and leave her here, alone in Austin?

 

Oh! And did you also know that Dawn and CGMan wish all of you the happiest, healthiest and wealthiest of New Years? Well, we sure do!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

It’s Christmas! Yay!!

Santa wasn’t the only visitor we had last night…

IMG_0383


IMG_0385

 

IMG_0386

 

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mumblings and rumblings…

As you can see on the little countdown up there, there are only 2 days left until Christmas! I have all my shopping done, all the presents wrapped, and all the cookies baked. I feel good.

Well, I was feeling good, until last night, when I dropped my iPhone in the bathtub.

Do you know how much fun it’s going to be at the AT&T store, 2 days before Christmas, getting a new cell phone?

I may have to start drinking. Right now.

And no, I cannot wait until after Christmas. I have become like every other person on the planet, I have to stay connected.  Okay, maybe not connected, but it’s my turn on Words with Friends.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday…

 

          Grandbabies!!
I didn’t know you could get them at WalMart!

P.S. I made CGMan walk in front of them 9834726735 times, just so I could listen to them giggle.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The one where I forgot to take the pictures…

Every year, as I peruse the tome that is my recipe book, I worry about making the same ol’ cookies. We have the favorites, of course, but I do like to try at least one new recipe a year.

This year’s new recipe is definitely a winner! As soon as I tasted the first one, I knew I was going to have to share the recipe with you. But since I had already made them, I would wait until the next batch to chronicle the making of these fabulous cookies.

CGMan hastily finished off the first batch and yesterday, I made another. His folks are coming in this weekend to spend the holidays with us. Papaw loves cookies for breakfast and these are just the ticket!

But I forgot to take the pictures.

Not to worry, these cookies are so easy, you don’t even need pictures.

Tender Cranberry-Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon spiced rum (optional- but really good)
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons boiled cider (I used the fresh cider from the grocery store) (or substitute dark corn syrup)
1 cup dried cranberries, packed
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped pecans or almonds
2 cups all purpose flour
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray two cookie sheets with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, shortening, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt, vanilla and rum, beating until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; then add cider or syrup. Stir in the fruit and nuts, then the flour, beating gently until well combined. Add the oats last, making sure they’re thoroughly distributed throughout the bowl.

I used a cookie scoop (about a tablespoon) and placed about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Bake for 12-13 minutes, until they are barely set on the top. Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a rack.

*you can make these cookies bigger, just cook them a couple minutes more

*I doubled the spices, because I like my oatmeal cookies to have spice

*what’s the rum doing in there? Alcohol is a flavor carrier, even though you can’t taste it, it enhances the flavor of everything around it. Any recipe that has rum, can’t be bad.

So there you have it. Yummy cookies that are good for you, too! Santa will be happy.

IMG_0347

Monday, December 13, 2010

Work is the curse of the drinking classes…

Guess what? I earned a paycheck! A real, honest to chocolate, paycheck.

I’m having a hard time deciding how to spend it. You know, it’s Christmastime, so maybe I should buy somebody a present. Or I could use it to buy more decorations for the house, because there are never enough of those.

It’s been a long time since I earned a real paycheck. My career here at home has it’s own rewards, but going out and actually earning some real money was pretty cool. I would love to do this job again, but I have to wait until I am called. I may have mentioned before that they don’t take volunteers. Dammit.

IMG_0275

I got paid for my voire dire at jury duty! Which I actually did on my computer, so technically, I worked from home. But think of all the money I would have made if I actually served on the jury! Damn those plea bargains.

You know what? I think I will give it all to the red kettle bell ringer. How many times in ones life can you say, I gave my whole paycheck, my yearly earnings, to charity at Christmas?

Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Segs in the City…

Since our time in Austin is short, and I needed something to write about, we decided last week to do something very touristy. We called up one of our favorite partners in crime, Deb, and had her meet us for a Segway tour of downtown Austin.

If you’ve never done a Segway tour, I highly recommend it. There was one in our group who was worried she would fall off the thing, but she overcame that within the first two minutes. After that, it was hard to keep up with her!

I booked our tour with Seg City. Since they are the only licensed  dealer in Austin, I figured they would also be the safest. Besides that, their bio page of the tour guides was hilarious.

Of course, when we woke up the morning of our adventure, it was the coldest morning of the year, at a nippy 34°. Even though the cold is not my friend, I wasn’t to be deterred. I bundled up and we headed out.

Once we arrived, the first thing Joe, the manager of Seg City, had us do was pick out our safety gear, i.e. helmets.

IMG_0216IMG_0217

Then we watched a safety video of stick figures falling off the Segway, which was pretty funny. In all honesty, the stick figures were being stupid and that’s why they fell off. These aren’t 4 wheel drives, duh, they only have two wheels!

Then Joe gave us a lesson on how to balance, go forward, backward and do an emergency stop.

IMG_0218IMG_0219

Next, it was time for a little practice before hitting the sidewalk.

Being a good friend, I let Deb go first, since she was nervous. And also, if she fell off, I wasn’t going to get on. I’m sensitive like that.

IMG_1104 IMG_0221

But she didn’t fall off! She started whipping around those cones like nobody’s business! She’s a natural.

CGMan came in and learned how to ride it, but didn’t pay quite enough attention to the not messing around part.

IMG_0222

After the lesson, it was out onto the street and the tour of Austin!

IMG_1107IMG_0225

Like I said, the one who was the most nervous, jumped on and all I saw was her back for the rest of the morning!

Our tour guide, Alex, was very charming! He gave us all kinds of good information about Austin, and also took us to some great spots to play on the Segways.

IMG_0227

We weren’t on the street for 10 minutes when we stopped to hear a story. CGMan started messing around and fell off his Segway. He didn’t fall down, thanks goodness, but after that, Alex had to keep an eye on him. Hello, my name is Dawn and I am a tattletale.

I am so glad I bundled up, because the breeze made it really cold. But that didn’t stop me from having the best time! I waved at people on the bus when they went by, and said good morning to everyone we passed on the sidewalk.

Every tourist has to be photographed with one of the many guitars around town. Since we are tourists for the day, we couldn’t say no.

IMG_0230

After that, we went around Lady Bird lake, which is not a lake, but rather a small dammed up part of the Colorado River. It’s a really beautiful park in the middle of Austin. They have a great dog park there, where you can let your dogs off leash. Some all of the labs like to use that area to jump in the lake. What is it with labs and water?

We crossed over the bridge, passed the dog park and headed up a little hill to rest and get pictures of the city. It was really beautiful up there.

IMG_0240IMG_0242IMG_1120

By now, we are all loving the Segways! I’m wanting one for Christmas. I am thinking that taking the dogs for a walk will be a lot more fun (for me!) with a Segway!

After we played on them in the park for a little while, we headed over toward the capitol building. That was super fun, dodging all the worker bees as they were strolling around on their lunch breaks.

IMG_1129

Alex was a wealth of information about Texas and the capitol. While I can’t remember it all, and wouldn’t tell you anyway, since I want you to take the tour, I do remember this: The Texas flag is the only one in the Union that is allowed to fly at the same height as the national flag. This is because Texas is a Republic and was annexed into the Union, rather than acquired. So basically, Texas is its own country within the country of the US and therefore has the right to fly it’s flag on the same level as the US. Pretty cool, hunh?

IMG_0250IMG_1130

Alex is also an amateur photographer, so likes to put a little style into some of this shots. I love it!

After the great time, scooting all over the city, we were starving. We went across the street to a little cajun joint for lunch. It was a great way to finish up the adventure.

IMG_0252IMG_0255

You know how I say “I don’t do cold”, and then I end up having snow in my backyard, or visit a city where it’s 24°? Sometimes that just can’t be helped. But what I do know for sure?  
I. Do. Not. Do. Oysters. EVER. The crab legs were mine. Winking smile

The next time you have people in from out of town and you want to show them the city, this is a great way to do it! While it might not be the cheapest thing to do, it is well worth the money. We had a fabulous time!

We are definitely going to have Segs in the city again! Look out DC, here we come!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Just because everything is different, doesn’t mean anything has changed…

I am glad to be back in Austin. It was very cold in DC and as we all know, I don’t do cold. Well, I don’t do it very well, since I whined and complained most of the time we were there. However, I did take a nice walk through capitol hill and learned to ride the metro. It wasn’t until the next day, when the wind started, that the whining began.

There are a few of you who never comment that know we have been stationed in DC before. When CGMan and I were first married, we packed up the new family, along with the cat and headed east. That was back when CGMan was still in the Coast Guard and I had my first taste of a PCS (permanent change of station).

We found a lovely house in a suburb of Maryland to rent. We loved it there. The only thing missing was the white picket fence. Eventually we bought the house, because CGMan got another tour in the same building, and then another. We were so lucky to get three tours without having to move.

Our last winter there, we received 17 inches of snow in one day. Then we got a few more inches the next day. We had to dig out a path for our bulldog, Winston, because the snow was taller than him! While the kids were ecstatic, we parents were at our wits end. Okay, I take that back. What really happened was that all the parents came to my house for board games and hot toddies. The kids played in the snow and we were drunk before noon made fried pickles. It was actually pretty fun.

Things change, and so do people.

After that tortuous winter, we were transferred to the Caribbean, where I became instantly in tune with my inner Arawak princess. Talk about heaven! I was in it. I never wore shoes, only sandals and sundresses. I learned it is perfectly acceptable to have Christmas without snow. In fact, one of our Christmas traditions was to go to the beach on Christmas Eve and eat shark and bake.

When it came time for CGMan to retire, we thought long and hard about where we wanted to live. I wanted no snow, as I had become quite accustomed to nice warm Christmases. Neither of us wanted to live anywhere we had lived before. We are into adventure that way. So we threw a dart at what was left of the US (because the Coast Guard said we had to move back to the states to retire- stupid rule). And that’s how I came to be Dawn in Austin.

So here we are, on the brink of another adventure. We’re moving back to DC.

We are at a crossroads, though. Because we are empty nesters, our choices are more broad. Do we want to live in the suburbs and have him commute to his job (like the other 93478276345 people who live there) or do we live in the city, where he can take the metro?

There are plus and minuses to each. I think we may try city living for a year, if we can find a place to rent that will allow us to have the dogs. It will be quite a challenge to change our lifestyle so completely. I’m not sure I’m how I will do.

I am looking forward to seeing the city in a different light. Before, it was usually in the midst of a field trip with 38474673 eighth graders. Now I’ll be able to do all kinds of grownup things in DC. Like eating my weight in mussels at a pub that is within walking distance. Spending as much time as I like in the Smithsonian, reading every plaque and sign (yes, I really do that). And having dinners at the country club, of which we are a member, because who can afford that when you have three kids, two cats and a dog?!

I guess I have learned that no matter where you are in life, there is always room for change adventure. If nothing else, this will give me something to write about.

“Dawn and CGMan’s Adventures in Moving”

Stay tuned…

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Too much to do, and too little to say…

Have you ever had one of those little phantom slivers in the end of your finger? It hurts like the dickens, but there is nothing there? Yeah, I have one of those today. Of course, it’s on the most important finger. No, I’m not going to show you a picture of the finger, although I thought about it. A lot.

CGMan and I are flying to DC tomorrow. He has a very important interview. It’s so promising, I’m going along, too, so we can look at houses. Keep your fingers crossed. As much as I like it here in Austin, I would rather CGMan had a job. Besides, I’m up for a little adventure. You know, like moving. yehaw.

Because of the trauma that is going on with my bird finger, I’m finding it very hard to type. Between that and the 187634 things I have to do today, I don’t have a proper post for you. That being said,  I will leave you with the outtakes from the Christmas dog photo shoot.

IMG_0205
This is how Phoebe always looks to me. Kinda goofy and so adorable. Yesterday’s picture reminded me that she really is a bulldog!

IMG_0206

IMG_0207

IMG_0208

Zoe wouldn’t wear the hat, and tried to save Phoebe from ridicule. It didn’t work.