Solstice and Other Winter Traditions - A Repost

Originally posted on December 17, 2009:

When I was out the other day, I got to thinking about why we celebrate Christmas. Many people only associate the birth of Christ with the holiday. Most do not realize that many aspects of Christmas come from different winter celebrations. The following are some of these traditions.

Solstice
The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.

In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.

In Germany, people honored the pagan god Odin during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were terrified of Odin, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Also around the time of the winter solstice, Romans observed Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome. In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25. It was believed that Mithra, an infant god, was born of a rock. For some Romans, Mithra's birthday was the most sacred day of the year.

Santa Claus
The origin of Santa Claus begins in the 4th century with Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, an area in present day Turkey. By all accounts St. Nicholas was a generous man, particularly devoted to children. After his death around 340 A.D. he was buried in Myra, but in 1087 Italian sailors purportedly stole his remains and removed them to Bari, Italy, greatly increasing St. Nicholas' popularity throughout Europe.



His kindness and reputation for generosity gave rise to claims he that he could perform miracles and devotion to him increased. St. Nicholas became the patron saint of Russia, where he was known by his red cape, flowing white beard, and bishop's mitre.

After the Reformation, European followers of St. Nicholas dwindled, but the legend was kept alive in Holland where the Dutch spelling of his name Sint Nikolaas was eventually transformed to Sinterklaas. Dutch children would leave their wooden shoes by the fireplace, and Sinterklaas would reward good children by placing treats in their shoes. Dutch colonists brought brought this tradition with them to America in the 17th century and here the Anglican name of Santa Claus emerged.

Christmas Trees
Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22 and is called the winter solstice. Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.

The ancient Egyptians worshiped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from the illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death.

Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs. In Northern Europe the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder.

Mistletoe, Holly, and Poinsettias
Mistletoe was used by Druid priests 200 years before the birth of Christ in their winter celebrations. They revered the plant since it had no roots yet remained green during the cold months of winter.

The ancient Celtics believed mistletoe to have magical healing powers and used it as an antidote for poison, infertility, and to ward of evil spirits. The plant was also seen as a symbol of peace, and it is said that among Romans, enemies who met under mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace.

Scandinavians associated the plant with Frigga, their goddess of love, and it may be from this that we derive the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. Those who kissed under the mistletoe had the promise of happiness and good luck in the following year.

In Northern Europe Christmas occurred during the middle of winter, when ghosts and demons could be heard howling in the winter winds. Boughs of holly, believed to have magical powers since they remained green through the harsh winter, were often placed over the doors of homes to drive evil away. Greenery was also brought indoors to freshen the air and brighten the mood during the long, dreary winter.

A native Mexican plant, poinsettias were named after Joel R. Poinsett, U.S. ambassador to Mexico who brought the plant to America in 1828. Poinsettias were likely used by Mexican Franciscans in their 17th century Christmas celebrations. One legend has it that a young Mexican boy, on his way to visit the village Nativity scene, realized he had no gift for the Christ child. He gathered pretty green branches from along the road and brought them to the church. Though the other children mocked him, when the leaves were laid at the manger, a beautiful star-shaped flower appeared on each branch. The bright red petals, often mistaken for flowers, are actually the upper leaves of the plant.

Candy Canes
It was not long after Europeans began using Christmas trees that special decorations were used to adorn them. Food items, such as candies and cookies, were used predominately and straight white candy sticks were one of the confections used as ornamentation. Legend has it that during the 17th century, craftsmen created the white sticks of candy in the shape of shepherds' crooks at the suggestion of the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.

The candy treats were given to children to keep them quiet during ceremonies at the living creche, or Nativity scene, and the custom of passing out the candy crooks at such ceremonies soon spread throughout Europe.

According to the National Confectioner's Association, in 1847 German immigrant August Imgard used the candy cane to decorate a Christmas tree in Wooster, Ohio. More than 50 years later, Bob McCormack of Albany, Georgia supposedly made candy canes as treats for family, friends and local shopkeepers. McCormack's brother-in-law, Catholic priest Gregory Keller, invented a machine in the 1950s that automated the production of candy canes, thus eliminating the usual laborious process of creating the treats and the popularity of the candy cane grew.

More recent explanations of the candy cane's symbolism hold that the color white represents Christ's purity, the red the blood he shed, and the presence of three red stripes the Holy Trinity. While factual evidence for these notions does not exist, they have become increasingly common and at times are even represented as fact. Regardless, the candy cane remains a favorite holiday treat and decoration.

**Information for this post taken from here and here.

A Punch of Flavor

I came across a product that I'd not heard of before, Onion Crunch, and was given an opportunity to try it out.  Onion Crunch is a crispy onion topping for, well... just about anything!  I was happy to see that Onion Crunch contains only four ingredients:  Onion, Palm Oil, Wheat Flour, and Salt.

We've tried it on mashed potatoes, green beans, and pizzas.  All were big hits!  But my favorite is a recipe I found right on their website!  Lately we've been super busy.  Two kids attending middle school that are in all sorts of organizations and play sports means we do a lot of running from here to there.  This also means we don't have much time for elaborate dinner festivities.  Enter a recipe with four ingredients.

Onion Crunchy Chicken
  • 2 tbls all-purpose flour
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups Onion Crunch
Crush the onions slightly (or not if you're in a hurry!).  Rinse and pat dry chicken, dip into beaten egg, then place on baking sheet.  Bake in 400 degree oven for 20-25 mins.

Simple, easy peasy recipe.  The Onion Crunch gives the chicken such a good flavor!

Interested in trying some Onion Crunch?  Visit their website for more recipes and use their store locator to find where you can buy their product!  

*I was given a sample of this product for review. All opinions are my own.

Project 52 is Officially...

a bust.  I did a horrible job of even attempting half of what was on my list.  But let's just focus on the positive, shall we?

Successful ventures:

  1. Plant a garden.  It was a tiny little thing. Radishes that were too small to eat.  Cucumbers that were horribly misshapen. And tomatoes plants that had no tomatoes.  Clearly this needs work.
  2. Visit the beach.  If I didn't do anything else on this list, this one was getting checked off one way or another.  Gulf Islands National Seashore did not disappoint.
  3. Visit a National Park.  I loaded up the whole family and took them on a mini road trip to visit Abraham Lincoln's birthplace and childhood home.  It was the most awesome feeling to stand next to Sinking Spring and know that Abraham Lincoln and his family had once stood there too.
  4. Create a monthly cleaning plan.  I did this.  For about 3-4 months.
  5. Create chore charts.  I did this.  Then got tired of having to hassle and remind others to do their stuff so I just ended up doing their chores myself.
  6. Redecorate the dining room.  I did 3/4 of this.  I still haven't made my "EAT" sign yet.
  7. Buy Photoshop Elements.  Done!
  8. Visit the library twice a month.  This year Kentucky libraries began online lending!  
  9. Read 25 books.  Ok, I'm counting this as a win, but I haven't read 25 books.  I've read 20.  It wasn't my initial goal, but 20 books is an accomplishment in my mind.
  10. Teach the baby to sign.  This is... so-so.  She can sign "more", "milk", and "drink", but most of the time she gets "more" and "milk" confused or just does them both.
  11. Number 7 on my list... learn to knit.  I really didn't think this was going to happen.  In a sense, it hasn't.  I'm effectively cheating on this one, but like the books, I'm chalking it up to "close enough".
On a recent visit to Hobby Lobby with my Mom, she noticed a small, inexpensive little contraption called The Knook.  Basically, this is knitting with a crochet hook.  She is an avid crocheter, knows how to knit, but liked the ease of crocheting better.  She thought she'd give it a whirl.  Her knowledge of crochet ended up being an issue because she was trying to crochet the stitches instead of knit them.  For me, this is like someone speaking a dead language.  Does Not Compute.  I do not know the difference between stitches.

She gave me the Knook with an extra ball of yarn and told me to just give it a try.  So I did...

First attempt... I kept knitting instead of knit and purling.  Oops!
Thank goodness this little beginner's kit had illustrations! (For left and right handed people!) I had to keep flipping back and forth and reading over and over.  But I finally got it!  Err... I thought I had it, but it turned out that while I thought I was knitting a row then purling a row, I was actually just knitting everything.  Another handy illustration...  what your yarn should like like.  It turns out that if you just knit every stitch, it's called the Garter Stitch.
A couple of days later!
A few days and a few swatches of yarn later, I can knit a row and purl another!  This is as far as I've gotten in my learning process, but practice makes perfect.  I don't think I'm ready for any large projects, but let's just say that scarves are definitely in the near future.

So learn to knit is getting checked off my list.  Even if it's sort of cheating!  Did you have a list of goals for 2012?  How did you do on your list?  

Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary and Garlic

I hadn't intended to do a recipe/food post about this meal.  Honestly, I don't have much time to think about anything right now.  Busy, busy, busy around here.  I barely managed a photo and it's a bad photo too.  I know a good food blogger takes excellent images of their dishes, but I didn't.  I'll take the bad grade and be happy because this roast tastes so good!

In an effort to curtail the constant eating out on game nights,  we've started trying to find recipes that are quick and easy.  Usually that means a frozen pizza, but we were all getting tired of those.  A couple of months ago, I picked up a Crock-Pot recipe book from the book fair at school.  I hadn't made anything from it yet, but a crock-pot meal was just what I was looking for.

I didn't follow the recipe to the "T", but it was so very, very good y'all.  I couldn't NOT post about it.

Scrumptious tenderloin goodness
Here's how I did it:

-1 boneless pork tenderloin weighing a little over 4 lbs because the husband did the shopping (see original recipe below)
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-4 tablespoons olive oil
-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
-2 tablespoons dried rosemary
-A lemon of lemon juice, because what do you call that?  It isn't a jar, it's a lemon.
-1 can of chicken broth

I combined 4 tablespoons (give or take a half a tablespoon) with the garlic and rosemary.  Because I used dried rosemary, I let the combination sit on my counter for about 15 minutes so they could mingle and get to know one another.

While the previous ingredients were enjoying cocktail hour, I poked a few holes with a fork on the top and bottom of the tenderloin.  I was feeling angry.  Then I took the lemon juice and squirted a bit on both sides followed by a dash or two of salt and pepper.

I poured about 3/4 of the can of chicken broth into the bottom of the Crock-Pot, then added the tenderloin to the pot.  I poured the mixture of rosemary, garlic, and olive oil to the top of the roast and spread it out to cover the majority of the tenderloin.  Which was uncomfortably curled into my pot because the husband bought a too big tenderloin!!

I put on the lid and pushed that button over to LOW for 10 hrs.  Recipes always give an option for HIGH and I don't know why.  Who does that?!?  No one.  No one should ever put their slow cooker on the HIGH option.  It really shouldn't exist.  Just go ahead and use your trusty Sharpie and black out that word.

It took both my husband and myself to remove it to the cutting board without it just completely falling apart in the pot.  I let the tenderloin rest for 10-15 minutes before just using a fork to pull off pieces.  And that's it!  So simple!  If you scroll down, I have included the original recipe and you will see that I took extreme liberties with how I cooked this.  I can't imagine how good it would be if I had seared it as I was supposed to have done.  It was simply the best roast we have ever eaten.

I guess I should note that we also had mashed potatoes and rolls too, but I'm sure we could have just made a meal of the roast by itself!  If you try out this recipe, I'd love to hear how it turns out for you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Here's the original recipe:

BONELESS PORK ROAST WITH GARLIC

1 boneless pork rib roast (2-2.5 pounds), rinsed and patted dry
Salt and black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 lemon, cut into 1/8-1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock

Unroll pork roast and season with salt and pepper.  Combine 2 tablespoons oil, garlic and rosemary in small bowl.  Rub over pork.

Roll and tie pork snugly with twine.  Tuck lemon slices under twine and into ends of roast.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over medium heat until hot.  Sear pork on all sides until just browned.  Transfer to Crock-Pot slow cooker.

Return skillet to heat.  Add white wine and stock, stirring with wooden spoon to loosen any caramelized bits.  Pour over pork.  Cover; cook on LOW 8 to 9 hours or on HIGH 3.5 to 4 hours.

Transfer roast to cutting board.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes before removing twine and slicing.  Adjust seasonings, if desired.  To serve, pour pan juices over sliced pork.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Cost of Living Increase

Let's go back.  W-A-Y back to August of 2011.  I embarked on a mission to create a mobile for my daughter because the ones that I loved were way too expensive.  You can find the post here.  I was scanning through old posts the other day when I ran across this one and was shocked at the price changes of the mobiles that I was previously coveting.

Bird Mobile - GraceandJane - $55
In 2011, this mobile was $50, now it's $55.  That's not too much of an increase, this is acceptable.

Felt Forest - hingmade - $125
This mobile was only $70 in 2011, now it's a whopping $125.  This is NOT acceptable.  I was shocked to see how much of an increase this mobile has incurred.  I thought that $70 was too much, but an extra $45 on top of that.  Um... no thank you.

Crocheted Bees and Flowers - creationfaeries - $100
This mobile was in the "more" category so I'm actually not sure how much it cost in 2011, but IF I were going to pay $100 for a mobile, it would probably be one like this.  The crocheted cuteness is almost too much to handle.

Have you ever gone back to look at an Etsy listing that you loved to find that the price has dramatically increased or decreased?

December Photo A Day

I've been working on doing FatMumSlim's Photo A Day project all year.  I've done better on some months than on others.  Last month I did a horrible job of keeping up.  I finally just kind of gave up and decided I'd resolve to do better in December.

December 1st -- 8 o'clock
First Saturday of the month!  I got to sleep in so when 8 o'clock rolled around I was still staring up at the ceiling fan in my bedroom. 

December 2nd -- peace
 Today's prompt was "peace".  I don't get much time for peace in our busy days, but I took a few minutes to download a new game on the Wii and spent some peaceful quality time with my older kids.

December 3rd -- something you held
Ah yes... something I held...  My breath at my son's basketball game.  New coach this year, opposing teams that do a full court press at MIDDLE SCHOOL basketball games like they think this is the NBA... and our players are playing like this year's UK team.  

After this week, I'll start posting a weekly wrap up on Sunday.  I don't want to flood your Reader!  Are you doing FatMumSlim's Photo A Day challenge for December?  Leave me a comment so I can come by and check out your photos.  Don't put them on your blog?  No problem!  I'm on Instagram too!

DON'T FORGET  ---> To vote for my blog at A Peek at Karen's World for her 2012 Blog Awards!  Voting ends on December 7th.

People are Stupid

Or how my mother and youngest daughter kept me from knocking some heads together.

M'kay so today was the annual Christmas parade in our town.  NOT my hometown.  I've never attended a Christmas parade.  I don't recall having them when I was growing up.  Maybe we did, but seeing as how I lived smack dab in the middle of town, you'd think I'd remember if we did have any.  I'm glad that it was 60F+ today, but didn't really put me in the Christmas spirit when I could have been wearing my flip flops.  Which I didn't wear... what is wrong with me?!

I took my two older kids to the school to get their instruments ready and get some practice in before the parade.  This was at 12:15pm and the parade didn't start until 2pm.  I ran to my Mom's to waste a little time. An hour (AN HOUR!!) before the parade was scheduled to begin, I decide we should probably head toward downtown to find a parking spot for both the car and our behinds.  I barely found a parking spot, whipping it into the last spot available at RiteAid.  We find a spot to take in the view.

As soon as the parade began, fourteen thousand people (really only about 15 or so), adults and children, walk in front of us, in the road, and plant themselves there for the entire parade.  One little boy kept snatching any and every piece of candy he could find.  Even if it was in another kids hand.  I kept asking him and others to please step back because there were smaller children behind them.  Finally I had to get hateful about it because Candy Thief would not move.  When he finally did scoot over, his mother puts her arm around him and informs him that he can stand anywhere he pleases, don't listen to me, and shoots me the dirtiest look.  My brain was screaming, "EXCUSE ME LADY!!!"  Well, that absolutely explained why her kid had no respect for the other kids or adults.

I saw no less than 5 kids come perilously close to being run over by large farm machinery, tractor trailer wreckers, and other vehicles.  They were so interested in grabbing that random piece of candy that they weren't paying any attention to their safety.  The parents were too busy pointing out the random pieces of candy that they weren't paying any attention to their safety either!

To make the whole experience even better, when we returned to our car some arsehole had parked perpendicular to our car and two others.  Completely blocking us in.  I wasn't in a hurry because the traffic was insane, but seriously dude?  I waited for him to return because well, what else was I going to do?  I'm proud of myself though because I didn't curse him like my brain was screaming at me to do.  I told him he was disrespectful, rude, and inconsiderate.  And to have a nice Christmas.  The lady in the minivan next to us was less than friendly.  She cursed him like a sailor.

Don't cha just love the Christmas spirit?!

Needless to say, my first Christmas parade experience was less than stellar and will probably be my last Christmas parade experience.

In other news, Karen from A Peek at Karen's World has nominated my blog in her 2012 Blog Awards in the category of Best Kept Secret!  I'm so honored!  This totally makes me say, "Aww shucks!"  Thank you, Karen!  Now everyone go to her blog right now and vote!  You have until December 7th!

And Now It's the End of November

I haven't written a blog post in a week.  And before that was another week. And so on and so forth... I just haven't been feeling it.  I've hit the blogging speed bump.  I'll try to do better.  I swear.

Even my "photo a day" has fallen off the past few weeks.  Do you know what hasn't fallen off?  Besides the "baby" weight that's still going strong after 16 months?  (I kid, but seriously... it won't go away.)  My resolve to go "no poo".  I've stuck with it.  I can tell you that my hair feels just as soft, if not softer, using the baking soda/apple cider vinegar routine compared to my old shampoo/conditioner routine.  I know I don't have to wash my hair as often and it's become healthier because of it.  I also know I'm not being forced to spend $10 every couple of weeks on chemical filled shampoos and conditioners either.  It's a win-win.

Other random things I've been doing while not blogging...

Pretending to be a Russian chick named Svetlana at thrift stores.
Untangling this gem from my son...
who accidentally left them in his jeans pocket.
Yes, they were washed AND dried.
But still work! 
Drinking my fair share of flavored vodkas (Svetlana would be proud!)
Sewing pajamas for da baby!
And breaking TWO brand new twin needles in doing so...
 because I'm awesome like that.
Probably had something to do with all that vodka...

And finally...
Chillin' in the waiting room at the eye doctor,
getting my check up,
waitin' my two weeks for new glasses.
I know you are beside yourself with amazement and wonder at the exciting things I'm sharing with you.  I haven't even covered all the bazillions of basketball practices I've had to pick my son up from, or the STLP meetings, or the Junior Beta meetings, or the band meetings.  And let us not forget the two or three basketball games we attend every week.

The life of a mommy socialite is EXHAUSTING y'all!  Just kidding!  ...  ... No, really... I'm exhausted.

Day 9 of No Poo



I took this photo on Monday, day 9 of my no poo challenge. The most significant thing to make note of is that I had not washed my hair in 6 days in this photo (I did shower though!). If I had still been using regular shampoo and conditioner, I wouldn't be showing you a picture. It was pretty difficult to resist the urge to wash my hair every time I showered, but I really wanted to see the difference compared to my normal routine.

I have noticed FAR less tangles in my hair. I still have tangles, but they are much less like rats nests then they used to be. My hair is soft, manageable and actually feels lighter.

I'm so glad that I've decided to do this!  My hair and wallet are loving me right now.

Day 3, Wash 2

Yesterday was Day 3 of my self imposed No Poo challenge!

Day 3 - Baking Soda wash, Apple Cider Vinegar rinse, gentle blow dry, flat ironed
I only waited one day before doing a second "wash".  I probably could have waited longer.  My hair hadn't become oily or dirty looking, I just felt I needed to wash it.  Old habits and all.

But see that's the thing about shampoos and washing your hair.  It's a vicious cycle.  Your head naturally produces oils.  Oils to help protect your scalp and hair.  When you wash your hair daily or just too often, it triggers your hair follicles to produce more oil because you've shampooed away what was already there.  Basically it means your head overproduces oil and your hair gets oily so you wash it which makes your head produce more oil which makes you wash it... again and again.  See where I'm coming from?

We over wash.  We over process.  We overuse product.

Several people suggested purchasing a boar bristle (or other natural bristle) brush and brushing your hair for at least 5-10 minutes at a time.  This is to help distribute the natural oils throughout your hair.  I tend to have static in my hair, especially in the Winter when everything is already dry.  I've had a natural bristle brush in the past, but it creates too much static for me so I've tried to make a point of brushing my hair with my non-boar bristle brush every time I use the bathroom.  With a 16th month old, I don't have time to stand around in the bathroom for 10 minutes at a time just brushing my hair.  So far, a couple of minutes of brushing several times a day is working for me.  

So today is Day 4.  I'm not washing today.  I'm not going to wash tomorrow either.  Another update in a few days.

Going No Poo

When I first saw someone mention they were no poo, I wondered how in the world they went without taking a crap.  Then I realized they meant no SHAMPOO.   =)

First reaction was ewwwww.

I have A LOT of hair.  I didn't think there was any way I'd be able to ditch the shampoos and conditioners.  I feel like I'm buying bottles every week.  It gets expensive.  A quick Google search revealed with a little baking soda and a little apple cider vinegar I could get clean hair for a fraction of the price.

Day One
Recipe I used:

1 tablespoon of baking soda in one cup of water for the "wash"
2 tablespoons of ACV in one cup of water for the "rinse"

I will admit that I hadn't realized how stinky apple cider vinegar was until I was in the shower with some!  No worries though because as soon as my hair was dry I could smell nothing.  Normally when I wash with shampoo alone I have horrible tangles that are painful to comb out.  I was surprised that I had minimal tangles and was able to get the comb through my hair fairly quickly.

My hair looks a little dry in the above photo, but it's actually just all my split ends.  My hair feels soft and not dried out.  I don't use a blow dryer too often, I never use a curling iron, but I do have a flat iron that I probably overuse.

I can't say much more at this point.  It's only day 1!  I do hope this works well.  Can you imagine how much money I can save?!?

Go here for great tips and troubleshooting to help get you started!

Vote 2012

I did my duty as an American this morning and voted.  Have you??

Spamalious!

I don't get many comments around these parts too often.  When I get notification that I've received three comments in an hour this morning on yesterday's post, I was kind of excited.

Then I read them.

SPAM! SPAM! SPAM!

When you write a comment ANONYMOUSLY here are some tips:

  • Don't ask me to email you.  I can't do that if you don't leave an email address to reply to you.
  • Don't leave a link to your "site".  I'm not clicking it.
  • If you are legitimately asking me a question, use the Contact tab.
  • If you are legitimately interested or impressed by my blog, don't make it obvious that you didn't thoroughly look it over.  

Dear Spammer,
     Don't play with my emotions like this!  I get super excited when I see I have a comment.  If I come to approve it and see it's your ridiculous spam....  

I haz a sad.

M'kay?

Sincerely,
       Actually Seeking Real Comments

EDITED TO ADD:  I have received multiple spam comments on this very post.  Anonymous spam comments.  Obviously these are computer generated or just ridiculously ignorant people.  FOR THE RECORD, this blog is COPYRIGHTED.  So those little spam comments (thank goodness Blogger is catching them!!) asking to use my blog posts or portions there of are NOT GIVEN PERMISSION to do so.  If I find any portion or portions of ANY of my blog posts or images elsewhere on the web, I will take legal action.

Making Good

I've made good on my word to myself to put more effort into my life.  In doing so I haven't been as involved in the internet these past few days (weeks!), but I'm working on trying to fit it all in to a day.

Check these out:


BOOYA!  I'm proud of those puppies**... err.. booties!  I made a couple of pairs of these and some cute little slippers too.

I was so very excited to get them listed online.  Then I got a terrifying letter in the mail from the Kentucky Department of Revenue (KDoR). 

Back story:  If you sell anything in the state of KY, online or in person, you must have a KY Sales and Use Tax number.  When selling online, I don't have to charge tax to everyone, just those who live in KY.  I've had my Sales and Use Tax number for a few years.  I've sold a few things here and there, but never enough to really even file taxes on.

Every month the KDoR would send me a form to fill out and return that listed my profits and what not.  You fill it out, write a check (if you owe tax), and mail it back.  Even if you don't have any sales, you must file out the paperwork and file.  I did that every month for a little over a year.  Because I filled in more paperwork with zeroes on it than I care to admit, the KDoR sent me a letter letting me know that they were going to start sending me the forms on a yearly basis instead of monthly.  Hallelujah!  I was really getting tired of filling in all those little zeroes.

Fast forward to last June when I got my paperwork to fill out and return.  Oops!  I forgot to file.  I called the KDoR.  The forgiving woman on the other end of the phone told me it was no problem.  That they could just send me a new form, I fill it out, I return it.  *brushes off hands*  Done.  So I did just that.  I even filled out all the little do-dads to change the name of my business and corrected THEIR ERROR on my address.

*tick*  *tock*

*tick* *tock*

Until last week, I have heard NOTHING from the Kentucky Department of Revenue.    Now I opened up my letter last week thinking it was a letter along the lines of "we finally processed your name change".  Except no, it was a bill.

A BILL FOR $622.37!!!

Urm.... not only no, but HELL NAH!  Of course, I mowed down everything in my path to get to the phone to call them.  Of course, I got a guy who I could literally hear his eyes roll every time I tried to speak.  He would not let me finish a sentence without interrupting me or audibly sighing in the phone.  I was so frustrated.  Every single time I opened my mouth to explain anything to Eye Roll Guy, he would interrupt me and tell me that I hadn't paid my taxes.  I could not make him understand that I didn't pay any taxes because I HADN'T SOLD ANYTHING to pay taxes on!  He even had the balls to ask me if I'd sold anything "under the table".  Gah!!!  I wanted to punch him in the face.

Now it all boils down to this... He terminated my business as of 2010 so I wouldn't be libel for the "unpaid" taxes in 2011.  (Unpaid because I didn't OWE THEM.)  But in doing that, I now have no Sales and Use Tax number and have to go through the process of reapplying.

*loud, audible sigh of my own*

I can't seem to win.

**DISCLAIMER:  Booties are not made of actual puppies.  

Whoops!

I seem to have forgotten that I have a blog!  I'm still alive and kicking, just not spending as much time online.

I have some ideas I'm throwing around.  Considering starting a business.  I have nervous doubts though.  There seem to be a million WAH moms out there that are also throwing ideas around and considering starting a business.  I know it's my doubts and "what if's" that are holding me back.

I just need to bite the bullet and take the plunge and any other cliche that fits this situation.  Stop doubting myself and make it happen.


What Chu Talkin' Bout....

There are a few "For Sale in..." groups on Facebook in my area of the world.  I've joined a couple because let's face it, it's like a year around yard sale through the internet.  This morning I came across a couple of posts by a woman that really pushed me over the edge.  The grammar and spelling edge.

I am not perfect in any way with my own grammar and spelling.  I think I do okay though.  I don't come across as the most well educated person on the planet, but I don't think I look like I've never had any school either.

U thnk its ok 2 rite ths way?  To use "mi" instead of "my"?  "R" instead of "are"?  "Rly" instead of "really"?  This list could probably go on forever.  I am guilty of occasionally using "text speak", however, I use it while texting my friend.  

How does this relate to a "For Sale" site on Facebook?  


This screen capture just happens to be one woman, but I've seen several different people use bad grammar and/or spelling.  Examples in this first photo include:

1.  newheres - If you aren't quite sure what you are reading here, let me break it down.  N-E-WHERES.  Normally words (that aren't really words at all) like this one are reserved for we Southerners to use in a face to face situation.  Much like "over yonder", there is a place to use these quaint sayings.  Trying to sell your items over the internet IS NOT ONE OF THEM.

2.  n there - How hard would it have been for her to stick an "i" in front of that "n"?  Lazy.

3.  sheles - I'm just going to go ahead and guess this was supposed to be "shelves".  A simple mistake that I probably shouldn't criticize, but because that little cell phone icon indicates that she posted from her smartphone, auto correct should have taken care of that.   



No punctuation.  Misspellings or "text" spellings.  Ugh.  I feel like I have to work twice as hard to read it!  Don't even get me started on having "tons of stuff that i needa get rid of".

I didn't come across another pet peeve this morning to screen capture, but I've seen it used often.  Using the wrong words and plainly feeling they are the correct word.  When you post something "for sell", say you need to "sale" something, or any derivative of that, I do a bad thing.  I judge.  It's not "for sell", it's "FOR SALE".  You don't have something you need to "sale" (unless it's a boat and then you spelled it wrong, it's SAIL), you have something you need to "SELL".

I know that I should not judge others.  Glass houses and all.  I just can't help my brain from immediately going there.  I don't think blame can be placed on any one specific person, place, or thing.  I think it should be noted that my children, ages 11 and (almost) 13, have never had grammar homework.  The last time I can recall them having spelling homework was when they were in the 4th grade.  In the 5th grade their spelling tests were multiple choice.  With the advancement of cell phones and text messaging, grammar and spelling classes NEED to be revamped and reinstated in our schools.

Does your local school system still teach grammar classes? Or spelling?  Thoughts?

Farm Livin'

One of the local farmer's markets sponsors Farm Days every third Thursday of the month.  We get to visit different local farms, see their animals, sample some local meat and produce, and generally have a good time.  Something is always going on and I've not been able to attend one.  Until last night!

The husband and I took the baby and headed to Crooked Creek Farms.  They raise their animals the right way.  In pastures, free to move about the country as they see fit.  During the tour, someone actually asked why they didn't have their pigs penned up.  Her answer made me respect their farm and practices even more.  She asked him if he'd be comfortable stuck in an elevator with 20 other people all day.  She said they felt the animals were happier and do better being able to move around the pastures.  She also said they felt the meat tasted better as well.  We've purchased meat from their farm before at the farmer's market.  The best pork chops we've ever eaten.  I'm not sure if it's the pastures or the fact that they don't use growth hormones and all that extra CRAP that goes into other meats, but we could definitely tell a difference.

Hay ride to check out the pumpkin patch!

When I first heard people talking about this Pig Candy iced cream from Meltdown {simply delectable iced cream}, I was a little skeptical.  Oh my goodness y'all!  It's the best ice cream ever!  Made with local sweet cream and whole milk, it's a maple flavored ice cream with... wait for it.... BACON in it!  Do you see those little bits?  Bacon from Crooked Creek Farms!  

The biggest peppers I've ever seen!

She wasn't sure about the watermelon at first.

But she warmed up to it pretty quickly!


The sunset was absolutely beautiful!  I couldn't get enough.

Aw... look at my sweeties!

More gorgeous views.

No farm would be complete without a friendly, kiss giving, dog.

I couldn't get enough of the cute little piglets roaming around with the chickens.

This visit just renewed my interest in having a larger garden next year.  I wouldn't mind having a couple of chickens either.  I highly encourage you to visit your local farmers markets or local farms.  There just is no comparison between the local produce/meats with what's in the grocery store.

Support your local business.  Support your local farmers.  Bring home better tasting, fresh food.  It's a WIN-WIN!

Nurture Your Photography

I love a good photo challenge.  Even though my photo a day skills aren't stellar...

Back in the Summer of 2011 and again in the Fall, I did photo challenges hosted by Alicia of Project Alicia and Kristi of Live and Love Outloud.  I learned so much about how to take photos.  I saw so many beautiful and creative photos.  I love the inspiration.  I need it.  

So when Kristi announced that she and Rebecca of bumbles & light are hosting the Nurture Photography Autumn photo challenge,  I giggled like a little school girl with a Snack Pack!  I need this challenge, not to mention that this, Autumn/Fall, is my favorite season.

There are two prompts for each week.  Choose one or choose both!  Every Friday of the challenge you can add a link to your blog post or Flickr photo to the list of participating photographers.  Don't forget to visit the other photographers images as well.  Don't have a blog or prefer taking photos with your phone?  No problem!  Add the hashtag #nurturephoto to your Instagram images!  There is even a Pinterest board to check out!

I'm so excited about starting this challenge!  I'm going to be looking for photo ops everywhere now!  Better go charge my camera batteries!


Merry Go Round

I realized this weekend that I really need to get out of this house.  I spend entirely too much time in these four walls.  The weather has become absolutely beautiful here.  Shades of Autumn have arrived and I AM IN LOVE WITH IT!  

I decided that in the spirit of getting off my ass I'd take the wee babe to the park this morning.  There is a great paved walking path.  One trip around and I came to the stark realization that I am more than out of shape.  I'm like a walking Jello mold.

*jiggle, jiggle*

Good times were had though. 




Ro is a huge fan of the slow moving merry go round.  She talked and giggled the whole time.  The playground isn't exactly toddler friendly though.  She kept pointing to the slides and grunting so I helped her up to one.  I forgot it was still fairly early in the morning though.


Wet butt syndrome.  A disease that plagues mothers of babies and toddlers across the world.  


How could I be upset?  Look at that cute little face!

Home of the Week - Perdido Key

Back at the end of July, we took a little mini vacation to the beach.  I haven't been able to stop thinking about going back to the beach since we returned.  I would love to live closer so I could escape for little trips to the sand, Sun, and water.  This year we camped, but I've been obsessively scoping out potential vacation homes for next year.

I decided to do a little search of homes for sale in the area on a whim.  WOWZA! Did I find an awesome place...  for only $2.95 million dollars.  I mean, that's just pocket change, right?

Front entrance
This is a two-story penthouse with an insane 5,226 square feet of living space.  It has five bedrooms and five bathrooms.


Most of the floors are made of travertine tile and I like the neutral color.  Even the paint isn't too bad.  I have no idea if the paintings/drawings on the staircase wall are all wonky like that because of the fisheye lens used in photographing them or they are just wonky on purpose.  I really hope it's the photography.


The living room space is beautiful!  I wouldn't have any need for that big ol' piano in the corner, I'd be too busy staring through the windows at the great view.  With three kids, the white furniture wouldn't work for me.


Looking at the living room space from the opposite direction, you can see a little glimpse of the dining room. I'm not sure that I like the wet bar right there in the living room.  The kitchen can't possibly be so far away that you need those so close at hand.  In fact, the kitchen is located (in this photo) just to the right of the mini fridge!


Here is the ever important television.  Crowded into a corner with a fireplace.  Why on Earth the nice, fluffy, comfy sofas aren't in front of that fireplace, I'll never know.  In fact, I would probably do away with those uncomfortable looking chairs altogether.



Love the kitchen!  Stainless steel KitchenAid appliances, double ovens, sink in the island, etc. etc.  Love it, love it, love it.  Can I cook something in there PLEASE?!  Get rid of the big ol' honkin' out of place television hanging on the wall though.


Master bedroom is 18x18 with it's own balcony.  Swanky.  There is a chandelier in here too.  Swankier.


Oh looky... more chandeliers!  The master bath is nice though.  Two vanities and that spa tub are winners!


This closet is the size of my house.  That is all I can say about that.

Other bedrooms:




All rather nice and seem to be fairly roomy as bedrooms go.  This listing says these rooms range from 19x13 to 12x14.  I like how the rooms seem to be mostly light and airy.

Other bathrooms:




Ahhh here we go, "normal" bathrooms!  Two with tub/shower combos and two with just showers.  The green bathroom looks kind of out of place with it's nicely tiled corner shower, wall sconce lighting, and really cool bowl sink.  It feels like they ran out of money on the bathroom fixtures after the master and green baths and just threw in "regular" bath fixtures in the other three.


Last, but not least, is the wrap around porch/balcony.  Oh my stars...  there is 2,600 square feet of outdoor living space in this home.  I'm not sure we'd ever be able to use that much space, but I'd love to try!

Thoughts?

More images and info can be found here.

Google's Street View
All images from realty listing found herehere and Google Maps.