Friday, October 29, 2010

how I spent my National Chocolate Day

Well, yesterday was National Chocolate DayBut, as circumstances would have it [actually I don't really believe in circumstances, but I'll not get philosophical or religious with today's post], it was a not so good dayThe chips, so to speak, fell where they may [not my husband Chip, he's still walking upright], and I found out that my current job will end November 15.  Barring a miracle [but again, I'm not getting phil. . . . . ].  Also, Chip and I were awakened at 4:30 a.m. by a call from one of his employees phoning in sick.  Mind you, if there's no vomit or blood, Chip doesn't consider a person ill.  There wasn't, but Chip had to report into work earlier than planned to cover on a day when he already had to work until 6:30 p.m.  Meaning my morning schedule was also slightly altered [not a problem, but not a delight].  Plus, my son's high school had an utterly chaotic day involving a fire alarm, a food fight and 10 police officers.  Academically, not his best day and he's a lover of routine.  Then Allie texted on her way home about an unpleasant life situation that I won't embarrass her here by going into detail about. 

So, despite that nothing horrific or life altering occurred, it was not one of my top 10 days.  But, it was National Chocolate Day [is there a better cause for celebration?].  Therefore, I baked this cake: 

Don't let the pumpkin throw you off.  You can't taste it.  It's a delicious, chocolate cake [and healthy too, because pumpkin provides beta-carotene - but you probably knew that].  Oh, and I made homemade cream cheese frosting.  Don't use that stuff from the can.  Take the extra time.  You'll be glad you did. 
Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz cream cheese (softened)
1/2 c butter or margarine
1 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 c powdered sugar
Beat cream cheese, butter or margarine, milk and vanilla until creamy.  
Mix in powdered sugar until smooth.
Hope your NCD was a great one!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

and the beat goes on

listen if you'd like

I just listened to the Hawaii Five-0 theme song.  The original, of course.  Everyone knows the original is always better than any remake.  Anyway, I feel better now.  For 2 reasons:
  1. I've been meaning to listen to this song since I heard about the new series.  I grew up in the 70s, so this song takes me back. . . .  
  2. I like this song.  Who doesn't?
I needed a pick me up.  And sometimes it takes a song with no words to do that. 

I'm continuing on with my job search. My last blog post about my job hunt was August 18.  Since then, I've had 3 interviews and 2 rejections.  I had my latest interview this afternoon, so I'm not sure of its outcome.  Probably won't for a couple weeks.  Today I also applied for a job on the Fayette County Public Schools website (Associate Director of Human Resources).  I've got a few pending possibilities at the University of Kentucky (one that I think I'd really like that involves writing).  But nothing solid.  And my current job will most likely end at Thanksgiving (a month from now).  Unless some major donors come through.  

So I continue the hunt.  And I wonder, what will become of me?  Not, as in, will I soon be fending off hunger?  But in, what will I end up doing with 40+ hours of my week?  I'm not one of those people who has a profession.  As in, I'm not a lawyer or a teacher or a nurse or a plumber.  I'm a wife and a mom who likes to bake, make crafts and jewelry, read, and write my blog.  And except for The Pioneer Woman [yes, I reference her a lot], I don't know many people who have made it big, or even make a living, simply doing these things.  But because I have a college degree in Business Administration, and probably could, in my opinion, take over Lexmark (I read the current CEO is retiring), I press on to find that all encompassing, breaking back into the full time workforce, career accelerating job.  But it's hard to get your foot in the door.  It's hard to be considered when you're 42 and took quite a few years off of work to be with your kids.  Then eased back into the workforce part time, working at organizations you believed in, not places that built up a resume.

Okay, yes, I'm joking about taking over Lexmark.  But the hoops one has to jump through are frustrating.  Unexpected group interviews.  Online applications that don't inform you  you're not qualified until you've wasted 20 minutes of your time answering questions that no human might ever read.  Today, when applying for the HR job at FCPS, I had to fill out an administrator survey, administered by Gallop.  Administrator as in school principal.   Yet the job has nothing to do with being a school principal.

It's a constant tension for me, really.  Often I apply for jobs I don't really want, simply because I know the day might realistically come when I really, really need to be working and am not.  I question why others seemingly work in fields they're passionate about, yet I could very likely end up answering somebody's phone for money [can't his wife do that?].  And sometimes I wish I'd hung in there as an 18 year old Interior Design major, despite the fact that I did horrible in drafting class.  I question why I changed college majors 2 times.  I wonder if I could make a decent income teaching piano lessons (most likely not).  I consider becoming a hand model (yes, again, I'm joking).  I think about one of my female business professors and wonder [what would Nancy do?] in my situation.  I question how as a full time working mom we'll handle juggling the schedules of 2 kids that attend magnet schools, not the close by neighborhood variety.  And maybe worst of all, I go to work and wonder why such an important curriculum might not be taught anymore because we've lost our federal grant.   check out OUR blog

So, like I said before, I continue the hunt.  Please forgive me for [almost] ranting.  Perhaps I'll listen to Hawaii Five-0 again and feel better.  The beat goes on. .

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I like the sun.  How could I not?  I was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona.  If you're not familiar with the weather in Yuma, check out this link.  The sun shines most of the time.  I even named my blog Once Upon. . . . 

So I take note of things like sunrises and sunsets.  Yesterday I mentioned to my kids that the sunset was especially pretty.  Daughter Allie said something like, "Is there a sunset tonight?".  What she meant, of course, was, "Is the sunset visible tonight?"  Nevertheless, son Jamie and I teased her, explaining there's a sunset EVERY night, regardless of whether or not we see it.
This morning I went on a walk/run.  At one point I turned and not really meaning to, looked at the eastern sky.  The colors were beautiful.  The sun was rising.  Which reminds me of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. . . .

And, really that's my point.  At least sort of.  The sun ALWAYS rises.  The sun ALWAYS sets.  Since the beginning of time.  We can depend on it.  And if we believe, and I do, that God created the sun, we can see the similarity between the sun and Him.  He's always here.  And has been.  Since before us.  Since we can't imagine when because He's always been [I didn't mean to make a rhyme there].  

And He's consistent.  Like the sun.  I don't have to consider the sun not coming up tomorrow morning.  No matter what, it's going to.  Consistency is a good thing.  Despite that I like home runs, Hail Mary passes and underdog tie breaker victories.  Consistency is what wins on a regular basis.  Consistency is what I depend on.  It's what I need.  

So, while miracles are great, and I'm a believer, I treasure the faithful, constant, never changing power that's evident in the sunrise.  And the sunset.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ugh! Projects.

Allie's science project was due on Tuesday.  Yay!  It's over. 
Let me back track a bit.  Allie, my 12 year old seventh grader was assigned a science project at the beginning of the school year. 
The task:  collect 10 bugs, 10 leaves and 10 seeds.
Display and describe them in some manner.  
Don't spend a lot of money.  
Examples shared by the teacher from years past were mainly large display cases.
Well, the first problem with the project was that Allie does not believe in killing.  No, not even killing bugs.  She doesn't particularly like bugs, but believes in the live & let live philosophy.  Her hippy looking [please, I don't mean that in a derogatory way. . . I'm okay with hippies] teacher said, when she asked him, that students could collect dead or purchase fake bugs [ie fish bait].  Which begs the question, is there a bait store in Lexington?  Back on track - I was surprised that her teacher, again a male, middle aged, hippy type with a LONG ponytail, would advocate KILLING creatures, but he told her they're going to die soon anyway.  Again, this didn't turn Allie to the dark side [I'm thinking about Sid from Toy Story right now].
The second problem with the project is that, as a mother, one of my biggest temptations is becoming THE TAKEOVER MOTHER when it comes to projects.  I kinda liked projects when I was a student.  Tests, not so much.  Give me a project over a test any day and I'll most likely do alright.   After all, everyone in the class is going to view the project.  You can't hide it on turn in day, and by golly, who doesn't want theirs to be the best?  [yes, I have deep seeded childhood issues with performance]  I may very well be  this mom.  So, I have to really control myself and let my kids handle these assignments on their own.  Except. . . . projects usually mean trips to stores for supplies [Allie can't drive].  Projects usually mean kids asking Mom [that's me] for advice.  This time around the project meant killing a few bugs because Allie can't stomach it.
The third issue with this project was that, as stated above, most examples shown from previous years were large display cases.  When priced at Michael's craft store, we found these cases to be expensive and not easy to maneuver.  I just wasn't willing to fork out $20+ as a final resting place for 10 bugs [may they RIP].   So we came up with some alternative ways of displaying the items.  After some interesting public exchange at the craft store. 
All in all, the project was completed by Allie.  I gave a few helpful [in my opinion] comments.  But, she got it done [herself].  And looking back I see how this type of thing is good for a study in personalities.  And how I've passed down some of my traits:  compulsiveness, perfectionism when others will see the final work, procrastination.  But I also see this:  a girl who wants to do her best.  A girl who wants to follow the directions.  A girl who succeeds and is pleased with her success.  And that makes me happy.  
And so does this:  At the bus stop on turn in day, Allie said, "I'm proud of my project."  She even thanked me for my help.
On Wednesday she brought home directions for the Science Fair, a requirement for 7th graders.  [Ugh!]

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I do remember making these cupcakes. . .

Today I went to Kroger carrying a list.  There were approximately 8 items on the list.  I had forgotten to write down toilet paper, but fortunately remembered we needed some (just put the last roll on the holder).  But. . . I left the store without purchasing an item on the list.  Only 8 items to buy, and I missed one.

Before Kroger, Allie and I stopped by the library.  I picked up two books I had placed on hold.  One of them is The Cookbook Collector.  When I received the email notice that this book was in, I had no recollection of placing it on hold, and not paying much attention, my initial thought was that it was a cookbook, most likely vegetarian.  Well, it's a novel.  Fiction.  Not a cookbook.  I didn't realize this until I got home.  Apparently, I knew this when I put in the hold request.  It would have been obvious then.  But that memory's gone.

Is this what middle age brings?  

I can remember in detail things that happened years ago.  But last week, two months back, anything recent, I might need some refreshment. 

On another note, here's a recipe I tried this weekend.   I ♥ pumpkin recipes, and it's a winner.  I also ♥ Ina Garten.  She seems so calm. 

[I did substitute allspice for the ginger, and margarine for the butter.  
I also used regular table salt.]

[at least that's how I remember making them!]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

calmly carrying on

I have wanted one for a long time and I finally ordered it last week.
Yes, it's just a [poster].  I actually read on-line before I purchased it that hipsters now find the poster cliche.  Or something like that.  But, I don't consider myself a [hipster].  In fact I recently read a book that confirms I'm not:  Hipster Christianity.  Despite the fact that I like NPR and Shane Claiborne and shopping at thrift stores.  Apparently I don't drink enough or smoke enough to be one [I don't at all].  And I tried listening to Sufjan Stevens but found him too odd for my tastes.  But that's a topic for another day [maybe, most likely not].

Anyway, I like this poster for a couple reasons: 
  1. The saying is great.  Keeping calm is important.  I don't like it when people get out of hand.  Plus carrying on is necessary, right?
  2. The history of this poster is quite interesting.  click here for info  Can you imagine, living in Great Britain during WWII?  Good grief, they'd been a powerful nation for centuries.   They were bombed, blitzed and realistically feared Nazi invasion.  They moved their children from London to the country for protection.  I could go on and on because. . . . I find history compelling.  I'm actually loving this book:  The Knight of Maison-Rouge.   Marie Antoinette, the French Revolution. . . . maybe history's not your thing?
The poster is on its way.  And I find it's good timing because it's panning out to be an interesting week.  I had a job interview yesterday that turned out to be a [group interview].  Yes, me and three other people vying for the same job while questioned by a panel of five.  Before our group, five candidates went through the same process.  Did I mention they gave us a [test] beforehand?  Then today, we discover mold in our workplace.  And the workplace finances we hoped that would get us to Thanksgiving are going quicker than we'd hoped. I have another interview Thursday.  This time at the University of Kentucky, so I'm already mentally preparing myself for the sheer stress of finding parking.  

Today, on the way home from work I stopped at Good Foods.  The purpose being to purchase an organic dark chocolate bar.  No, Hershey's doesn't cut it anymore.  I want the good stuff.  Like I wrote above, I'm not a drinker, so picking up a bottle of Kentucky bourbon on the way home doesn't appeal.  Am I addicted to chocolate?  No, I'd say not.  But it helps get me through the day, and hey, the message on the back of the chocolate bar says this:  "By choosing Equal Exchange fairly traded products, you support a food system that builds stronger farming communities, creates a more equitable trade model, and preserves our planet through sustainable farming methods." 

So, I'm preserving our planet my eating chocolate.  Not to mention good chocolate.  Which helps me keep calm until my poster arrives.  Did I mention I wasted some time at the post office today?  Ugh!  [keep calm, keep calm. . . ]