Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I'm sorry, I have laughed my face off!

Just a quick note to tell you all that I was busy all today, laughing like a loon with my newest friend who is fresh from The States, pregnant with her first, and suffering from a kidney stone on top of it! The poor dear but she was all laughs and we had a riot of a time! Her lovely husband joined us for dinner after work and we all had a blast. Tomorrow is my morning/afternoon with the girls so I won't get to blogging until way late and maybe even Thursday. 

BUT I have a hysterical story to share with you all from today and I can't wait to read what you all have been up to! Goodnight for now! I'm still wiping tears from my eyes!  

Monday, January 30, 2012

A bit of Branden's musical past

Branden is quite the musician. I have mentioned in the past that he was in a band with his brother and friends called Zeo Doxa for 7 years. They wrote all their own music and lyrics and did a lot of travelling around playing concerts. Branden even proposed on stage at a music festival, which you can see the video here and read our entire 4 part love story here.

Dang I used to be skinnier! Rocking the band t-shirt and just proposed to!

When the band started, Branden was 14 and his brother was 11! They began writing music and recording things on their computer. It was such a huge part of Branden's life.

They started as this:

Branden's brother is the one on the left (the bass was just about bigger than him!) and Branden is the one in the black shirt. Over the years, they put out a couple of CD's and became this:

For a while they did have a 5th member as well.

Well, back in 2007, when Branden was just 19 years old, his band made a music video. Actually they made three in one day, but supposedly two of them had been "lost in a fire". They had been trying to get a hold of the one remaining video for years and finally, last year the video was released! I will say, I did completely crack up when I saw it. His brother (the bass player) looks so young and so does Josh (the drummer). Branden's best friend Josh (who is the lead singer) really cheesed it up and Branden got a bit into the hardcore head banging but it's so them, so I do love it. It's also amazing how different Branden looks! His hair is less poofy and he's lost a lot of weight.

I have to share so you can giggle at an epic teenage music video, but I also hope you are as impressed as I am over the fact that this group of 'kids' made this up on their own and actually made a bit of success out of it!

If rock you don't like your music "head-banging", then you will probably love their single Welcome Home. It's my favorite and I can listen to it over and over again.

Happy Music Monday! I hope you've enjoyed a bit of glimpse into Branden's musical history! And thank you to everyone who's been helping me brainstorm ideas for my new blog name! I'm still mulling it over but you've given me some different directions to think about for names.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What's in a name?

I must mention to you all that my oldest nephew Hunter (who's 5), thinks our banner above our bed that currently says "Hamsters Cry" is the funniest thing! He can't read, but since we told him what it says, he pretends that he can read it when he sees it on Skype. I talked to my sis and the boys yesterday. It must have been an emotional day in general because I was a mess when my sis was telling me about how the little one, Brady who's 1, got a tummy bug the other day. She was at the gym and he was coloring in the kid area at the gym as she worked out. Someone came and got her and told her that he had thrown up while coloring. She said that she came in, saw him sitting in a big chair, his feet were dangling down, vomit was down the front of him, and he was holding a crayon, watching them clean up his puke. This poor little image just hit me and I lost it! Heavens, I'm tearing up just typing it out now! I don't know why it got to me so much but maybe it's just because of the helplessness and innocence of it all. He didn't know what was going on, but it just happened.

I'm just a sucker for these things and maybe that's why I have such a heart for the helpless and innocent in the world. I like to root for the underdog, love the unlovable, and give to those who have nothing. Sure I might not have much, but I have more than a lot of people in the world. Giving something as little as a smile could be huge. It may be the only smile that person has had all day! I think of that a lot when I walk into town and see an elderly person walking slowly towards me. I find it sad that sometimes they don't even bother to meet my eyes as if it's already expected that I'm young so I won't even acknowledge them. If they do look at me, I will give them a cheery smile full of warmth. I'm not trying to be patronizing and say that all elderly people are lonely and cold, I just feel like society likes to forget some of them, which is such a shame because I would love to sit down and just hear all of their stories!

Anyway, this gets me onto another point: my new blog that I will be starting. I'm still really struggling to find the right name. It's driving me nuts because I feel that it's the main thing holding me back at this point. I was asked by Janie to answer a question as a guest post for her blog (her blog is private so after it runs, I can share it publicly). It was a really tough question and I put a lot of time mulling it over. The thing is that it's not a Padded Cell type of question or answer so I want to have my new blog up so I can share it there. So I need a name and I'm asking for help. This is a blog that will be about my relationships with people, my relationship with God, and my volunteering.

I have been going out on Monday nights on a homeless outreach. It's not through a church or anything. It's just a group of people who love God and love people so we walk the streets with sandwiches, hot water and packets of instant soup and coffee. We don't hand out literature or pamphlets and we don't preach anything. Sometimes we do get asked to pray for someone and that's just fine but our main goal is to show love. The same group is also working on starting up another volunteer outreach that is doing well in the UK. I am part of it and we are excited to get it started. It's called Street Pastors and it's also just a love based outreach. Again, it's not preaching, it's just trying to help people and for this particular outreach, it's typically the night crowds. Here's a bit more about it and how it works in Scotland.

We will be out from 10pm-4am, and I am wanting to share about it as I experience it. We still may be a bit off in starting it officially, due to all the steps and funding it takes to get it up and running, but we really hope and pray we can get out there soon. Living in a University town, means we have a lot of nightlife so we will hopefully be a good help in our community.

Originally, I came up with the blog name "Golden Rule Nights" because I was basing it on my nighttime volunteering, but I don't want it to be limited to just that. So based on what you know, do you have any ideas for a name?? I'd appreciate any ideas you may have because I feel completely stuck for what to call it!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Things that make me sob into my coffee

I don't know how it happened and I am so frustrated that my sis and bro-in-law just ALLOWED it to happen! Their baby isn't a baby anymore!!! I love it when my sis posts new photos of my nephews, and I love seeing their faces on Skype but the "baby" got a haircut and now just looks like the world's smallest man! He is walking less like a drunk zombie and is even starting to talk less like one too! How could they let this happen!?! It was bad enough that they let their first child get all the way up to 5 years old, so you'd think they could have at least put more effort into keeping the other one little!

And yes, I admit that the photos of them with their fake mustaches were really cute but it's just going to encourage them to become old enough to grow their own! *sob* I just want my babies back!!! It's just going to get worse as I am not going to be able to get away with telling them random fantasy crap that I make up and having them actually believe me. They will realize that I'm not necessarily their "fun Auntie" but more like their "crazy Auntie", and they will begin to pray that their genetic link will be more of their dad's side!

I see myself playing in a cardboard box when I'm in my 40's and they will just be giving me that raised eyebrow look that their mother will have taught them so well, and they will decline to join so they can just go play video games with their cool Uncle Branden. I probably won't be "Auntie Moo" anymore and I'll get demoted to "Aunt Maggie", which thankfully since I'm not a "Margaret" and just a "Maggie", gives some hint of youth and fun.

Of course in the many years to come, I'll have my own kids who's young minds I will get to toy with, and their youthfulness will give me more time to play on the floor like a fool...but my nephews are my first babies and now they aren't even that anymore. Soon they will be handsome grown men who will be much taller than me and much smarter than me.

It's amazing how you never really realize how fast time goes by until you invest your heart into a child. Then the time just seems to fly.

My sis and Hunter. When he was still little.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Marriage is a great laugh!

Thank you all for the well wishes on my tooth! I did get so miserable yesterday that I think Branden was ready to throttle me by dinner! I was really afraid that I was actually starting to get a cold but this morning when I woke up, my tooth was better and I felt fine! My relief finally came last night from chewing a big piece of gum for about 3 hours...they really should make teething rings for adults.

So yes, I am very happy that all is well today but probably not as happy as Branden is. That man really puts up with a lot but even after all that horrid grumpiness from me yesterday, he still sent me a message as soon as he left for work this morning, telling me how much he wished he could have just stayed home and snuggled me all day. (insert giant "AWWWWW" here) He's basically having a 'normal' day today where he's gone from 8:30am-5:15pm but it's still not normal for us and I'm like an excitable Jack Russell Terrier when he gets home. I don't know how we'll manage when he graduates and gets a steady full time job! We could probably kill a tree with all of our sap but I can't get over how blessed I am!

Now that I have built up my wonderful husband, it's time to share some funny moments over the past week! On Saturday, he had to get up early to go to work. The alarm is on my side of the bed so when it went off at 7:05am, I did the usually routine of hitting the snooze button, rolling over to face Branden, and telling him that I hit the snooze. This time, when I told him that I had hit the snooze, he responded with, "But it's ok for little boys to play fight because that's just what they do!". I figured he was a bit groggy so I just cuddle up to him and tried to sleep for 5 minutes until the alarm went off again. Later in the day, I got a chance to ask him about it. He said that he had been dreaming that we were having an intelligent conversation about childhood psychology...does he forget who he's married to??

Then on Monday night, we both had been sleeping horribly, and I woke up at 5am. 5am is what I like to call 'the magic hour' because if I wake up at anytime during the 5:00 hour, I will be awake until 6 hits. Also, on the flip side, if I am trying to stay up all night, I can do fine until 5am hits and then I will crash. So I had been awake for about 30 minutes when Branden woke up, jumped a bit, and then went to the bathroom and was in there for a bit. He came out, crawled into bed and told me that something had bit him so he reached down and grabbed something round and squishy which he threw out of bed. I had a minor panic attack and asked if it was a spider? He said that he thought it was a tick... I just started giggling. Wild bed ticks aren't something I had ever heard of but Branden was certain it was a tick. (we had been talking about ticks before bed). He went back to sleep and by 6am, I finally did too...until at about 7am, he started freaking out in his sleep. I woke him up and he muttered something about scorpions pinching him and then he fell back asleep. Well, as if wild bed ticks weren't bad enough! Now I've got to worry about Irish scorpions! Later, when Branden was awake and coherent, he figured that he just was poked by a crumb in bed and then grabbed a lint ball...so much for tick bites!

We of course have been laughing about all of this over the past few days. Usually I'm the one being silly so it's nice when Branden decides to take some of the job!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Very Own Charity

I have been a bit MIA for the past 4 days, I'm way behind in my blog reads, and I have a wisdom tooth that is making me a bit miserable. I had lots of new people stop in and visit and even leave me comments! Welcome newcomers! I will get to you all as soon as I stop gnawing on electrical cords like a teething puppy (note: I DON'T ENDORSE THIS AS A FORM OF WISDOM TOOTH PAIN RELIEF!).

I'm cheating today by digging through my old blog's archives. This was from back in 2005. I created my own charity, but oddly enough, it didn't take off...wonder why???

Feed the Famous

Look around your world and you will see the faces of hunger everywhere. I'm not talking about Africa, Asia, or South America, I'm talking about Hollywood! You see their starving bodies on the covers of magazines as you buy your food at grocery stores. When you are in a store, buying food to eat and providing nourishment for your body, you should be grateful for your blessings but filled with sorrow for the poor starving stars!  

So I'm starting my own charity, Feed The Famous, and for only pennies a day you can help a calorie deprived actress like Lindsay Lohan, Madonna, or your favorite Olsen twin. You will receive* updated photos and stories of your star so you can see them improve over time with the program! Your pennies a day will provide a star with 3 meals a day, a reprieve from their 11 hour workouts, and for some, a much needed rehab program. Don't go through your grocery line just bypassing those starving souls, do something now by calling 1-000-FAT-STAR. You CAN make a difference!

*updated photos and stories are only provided by fashion magazines and must be purchased on your own. This does not mean your star will send you happy stories and color crayon drawings of their families. This charity was created by the sarcastic mind of a Padded Cell Princess who has absolutely no idea what calling that number will even do.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Excuse me while I sheepishly raise my hand

Don't ya love it when someone tells you about something ridiculously over the top and then asks, "What kind of idiot would..." and you are able to sheepishly raise your hand? Well, that seems practically the story of my life.

If you all go back in your minds to a serious scare that happened back in October 2010. A terrorist attempted to hide bombs in printer cartridges and then check them onto a plane so he could blow it up. Not funny, I know, but when this story hit the public I heard people asking, "What kind of idiot would fly with a printer?"and "It must have been pretty obvious that it was a bomb because nobody flies with their printer. Stupid terrorist!". At this point, I would have to sheepishly raise my hand.

When we moved to Scotland back in September 2009, we took our printer as a carry on. It was a nice printer (still is) and Branden needed one for school (still does). Luckily this was about a year before the stupid terrorist and we managed to get through without being eyed oddly or having all of our orifices probed. When we had to leave Scotland and go back to the US in 2011 while we waited for the go ahead to move to Ireland, we luckily were able to leave the printer with friends in Scotland. This was a relief since we for sure would have been red flagged and had colonoscopies about 25 years earlier than needed.

Taking the printer from Scotland to Ireland was a cinch since we took a ferry across instead of flying, but we still get odd looks when we sheepishly admit to flying a printer internationally. I am really glad we brought it, as it has been a wonderful printer, prints fabulous photos, and has been essential for Branden's school work. It's a special day for the printer today as it became and official Irish/UK citizen! You may not know this but like DVD's and DVD players, printer cartridges and printers are regional so you can't put an Irish bought cartridge into an American printer or vise versa. Today we got our code to change our printer to Irish so it gets to be the first in our 'household' to become a citizen! Branden and I have to wait 7 more years....if we're lucky.

For those wanting my chocolate cake/brownie in a mug recipe, here is the link from where I got it from

Two Minute Microwave Brownie

I also have some other links to other microwave cakes! Thank you Pinterest!

Cup of Coffee Cake

Salted Caramel Mug Cake

Nutella Mug Cake

Now I haven't tried the 3 above but the 2 minute microwave brownie was a big hit with Branden and me! We had to microwave ours for 2 minutes instead of 1...but that's probably because we have a lame microwave. We also have thought of how adding vanilla, raspberry jam, chocolate chips, or other candy bits would be really nice! This is beyond dangerous now because it's easy, quick, and so tasty! I could be perfectly happy making this my breakfast every day!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Who are you and what are you doing here!?!

Most of you who will read this are my beloved regulars and some newbies. But the rest of you are a bunch of bizarre creatures that managed to transport your way here via a search engine...and I'm not impressed with your avenues of discovery. I'm guessing a lot of 'you people' are actually a bunch of teenage boys because I was on to you when your search of both elbows touch belly button had me feeling right back in high school when I would be asked to try and touch my elbows behind my back. You may have given my husband a show, but I won't be fooled so easily again (oh but Branden says, "Thank you".)

I'm almost beginning to think that my site is becoming a question and answers section for idiots. This is obvious by the ridiculous search of do owls have whiskers. Of course they don't and if you had spent any time at my blog, you would have had the answer in a previous post! I suppose you are a bit more innocent in your quest than the searchers looking for baby owls in a bucket because that sounds a bit cruel to me. Why would you keep baby anythings (except fish or toads) in a bucket!?! Chrissy found that it wasn't all that odd by pointing out this blog to me. Ok, well I still think it's stupid but not as stupid as who needs brain cells anyway spongebob. I may take back my previous comment on 'you people' being teenage boys...maybe I should stick with 9 year old school kids.

I know that my in-laws read my blog so which one of you thought it would be funny to send people looking for the Sasquatch militia?? You know how freaked out Branden gets when you start telling Big Foot stories and how you want to go on a search to find one! I'm the one that has to comfort him at night and tell him "It's ok, we only have to worry about leprechauns here. Go to sleep!" 

I am wondering if I should take extreme offense to those of you who found me from people that look like llamas!! I may have not had braces but I definitely don't have anything close to llama teeth! I also don't appreciate freak show faces and stupid face passport. You people are just mean...and disgusting: boobies and cheese, what are you? Some sort of male complex connoisseur, because if you are, you forgot the red meat and beer! I might give a thank you to whoever found me from stick figures in love because Branden and I are far from that thin but hey, I'll take what I can!

These last searchers, I will use in a sentence:
Attention over here to the flashing button where you can see crying baby Jesus because he has handcuffed ankles.

"You people" are weird. But I also like weird so thanks for the blog fodder! (except YOU boobies and cheese, you are just gross!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Herbs in my cookies make them automatically healthy right?

My family and friends are crying out for a recipe for my honey-basil cookies, so I'll share it today and give you another yummy recipe tomorrow. These cookies may sound a bit odd, but basil actually works well with some desserts. The recipe is from the Better Homes & Gardens 100 Best Cookies magazine that my Mom-in-law sent to me so it is American apparently. Oddly enough, they don't have the recipe posted on their website though, so I had to hunt it down and copy and paste it rather than take the time to type it all out. In the instructions, I have thrown in my own notes. This is a simple recipe, especially since we did it fairly well considering we don't have an electric mixer, hand crank beaters, or even a decent whisk. Our whisk is flimsy plastic and is basically good for mixing lemon juice into water. So here's possibly my new favorite cookie recipe. They are like sugar cookies but fancier! 
Honey-Basil Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon snipped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled (we used dried)
2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel (we didn't have an orange so we zested a clementine...not simple to do considering they are easy to peel!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
Sugar to flatten

Preheat oven to 375F or 190C.  Beat butter on high speed for 30 seconds. (or stir with a fork because you don't have an electric beater, and beat until your arm feels like it's about to fall off)  Add 2/3 cup sugar.  Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally.  Beat in egg, honey, basil, peel and vanilla.  Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer.  Stir in any remaining flour (get help from husband who has stronger arms and take shifts mixing in the flour. Stir until your combined 4 arms feel like they will fall off). Shape dough into 1 to 1 1/2-inch balls.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Dip the patterned bottom of a glass or cookie stamp into additional sugar.  Flatten balls with glass or stamp to 1/4-inch thickness.  Bake for 6-8 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned.  Cool on sheets for 1 minute.  Transfer to rack to cool completely.  Makes 48 (depending on how much you don't care about worm risks and eat the cookie dough while baking, and how many cookies you eat to 'test' your batches).
They smell fantastic and taste even better! We still have some left but they are tempting fate by openly sitting in a bag on my bed...

On a more funny note, I found this photo on Pinterest last night and someone had labeled it as "People are so weird"
I started thinking though, are they all just a bunch of nerdy tourists trying to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa or is it the world's most unconventional group of flash mobbers performing Thriller in fanny packs?
Thoughts? Ideas? Recipes? Funny tourist photos you are willing to be humiliated with share?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monkey farts are making me fat

Thankfully we lost all the weight we gained from our last trip to the States before I discovered baking. Life for my thighs has become much more dangerous, since over the last 2 weeks I have found a really yummy and simple muffin recipe, made the most scrumptious cookies ever, discovered how to make my own ice cream with coconut milk, and tried the amazing art of making cake in a mug, in a microwave, in 2 minutes! So long skinny jeans, hello pajama bottoms!

Not wanting to be the only one to stuff myself, I decided I must share some of these with you! (I'm so considerate, aren't I) The simplest recipe has to be making ice cream from coconut milk. I must say though, the first time I ever made this I was a bit put off. This was what my facebook status read on New Year's Eve when I first tried making it:
Is coconut milk supposed to smell like a monkey farted into the coconut before the contents were canned??? This may ruin my homemade coconut ice cream recipe...I don't think coconut, vanilla, chocolate, and fart will be the next Ben and Jerry's flavor.

I was slightly reassured that this was just a natural essence and would be fine. The more it froze, the less it tasted of monkey fart, which was nice I guess. Branden didn't even notice a thing but I did get a hint of it in the back of my throat...*gag

Thankfully, I didn't let my first time with this recipe put me off. Yesterday, we bought a different brand of coconut milk and it was totally fine! No monkey fart smell! I am slightly concerned though that a monkey really did fart into my original can of coconut milk, but we haven't had any symptoms related to monkey fart linked illness, so I think we've dodged the bullet. So here is my recipe for really yummy coconut ice cream!

1 can of coconut milk (preferably one that a monkey has not been near)
3/4 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla flavor

Easy peasy! Mix everything together in a big bowl until the sugar is dissolved, then stick it into a tupperwear container in your freezer! About every hour, give it a stir to make sure it's freezing evenly. You can also throw any candy pieces that you want to, or even put coco powder in it but this is just the base recipe. It's fantastic and doesn't really taste much like coconuts (for non coconut fans), and this second attempt didn't even have a hint of primate poo particles! I figure it's way healthier than regular ice cream...but that doesn't make it "healthy", so try not to eat the whole tub in one go. It may not have the exact consistency of ice cream, as it will get ice crystals in it, but who cares! It's tasty, easy, and I don't need an ice cream maker!

So tomorrow I will share one of my other recipes. Which would you be most interested in? The 2 minute mug cake, my honey-basil sugar cookies, or my snickerdoodle muffins? All are easy to do (even if you don't have an electric mixer, which I don't).

My other share for today, is this fantabulous band that a friend of mine shared on facebook. I could not believe how incredible this song is, especially since there are 5 people playing one guitar at the same time! It is a cover song, but I love this! This band, Walk off the Earth, does a lot of amazing cover songs and their originals are also wonderful! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fishducky's Here Today!!!

This is such an exciting day!!! Fishducky won my competition last week so she wrote a post for me and today I share it all with you! Another exciting thing about today is that I found this gem in my inbox this morning: 
HOW AWESOME IS THAT!?! You will see it around at some of my other favorite blogs but I feel so happy that I get to be a Ducky! Fishducky is so much fun and adds such joy to the blog world. She's not a blogger but she's one of the best commenters out there! I do have to admit that I made it a personal goal to get Fishducky as a follower. I didn't want to do obvious things and ask her to take a look at my site or anything but I wanted her to see my comments left on our similar blog reads and have her decide if she liked me or not. Branden even got into my goal so when Fishducky became a follower a few months ago, we were both overjoyed! 

So without further ado, here is the brilliant Fishducky!


Thank you, Maggie, for giving me this opportunity to brag tell you about my daughter, Nancy.  I can do that without fear of editing hurting your feelings since you haven’t yet started your own family.  Nancy almost had her own career in show biz, like her mother.  She was a month or two old when she was selected to portray a baby (type casting) in “Bonanza” but she was too young to be covered by their insurance.  In the 1935 movie “Carnival” I was the adorable baby that Lucille Ball (in the uncredited role of a nurse) held in her arms while everybody went “AAWWW!”  That was my entire career.  I believe Lucille Ball went further.

First, I should tell you what (I believe) made Nancy the genius that she is today.  When she was a few months old, I accidently dropped her on her head.  (TRUE)  I believe this shook her brains into proper alignment.  She is at MENSA level, & do you know, she hasn’t thanked me to this day!  She began talking VERY early--& hasn’t stopped yet.  When she was 13 months old, my husband took her to a family Thanksgiving dinner while I stayed home sick in bed.  I was watching a TV show about children learning to talk & I started making a list of all the words Nancy knew.  I got to 100 when I realized I could probably double that.  True, she couldn’t pronounce all of them correctly—chicken noodle soup was “hickey noonoo hoop”—but she was quite verbal.

Words were like toys to her—she loved them.  We had this routine—I would ask her these questions & she’d answer.  When she was 2, we went to the pediatrician & did our routine for the nurse:  “What do you call a doctor who takes care of children?”  “Pediatrician.”  “Who’s the doctor that takes care of animals?”  “Veterinarian.”  “Who’s the scientist who knows all about fish?”  “Ichthyologist.”  When the doctor came in, the nurse asked Nancy the questions so he could hear her answers.  He grabbed her up & ran out of the room.  When he returned I asked him where he had taken her--& why.  He told me that his friend—another pediatrician—was waiting in his office to go to lunch with him.  He took Nancy through her routine & then said to the other doctor, “See what MY patients can do!!”

One more quick story about our pediatrician:  When he was checking our second child, right after his birth, he was looking at his fingers & toes & I heard him counting softly—1,2,3,4,5—1,2,3,4,5, etc.  I asked him why he was doing that.  He said that a few months before he was checking another newborn & counted 1,2,3,4,5—1,2,3,4,5—1,2,3,4,5—1,2,3,4,5,6!  He counted again—no mistake.  The child had 6 toes on his left foot.  He hesitantly told the mother, who laughed & said, “Isn’t that cute—just like his daddy!” 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Emotional Housekeeping

My brain has been jello and can't seem to hold a solid thought. Which I do find a bit odd since I can't stand jello, or pudding, or anything slimy...have I mentioned that before? I think I have but again, my brain is like jello.

I have been meaning to mention for quite a long time now that I still have every intention of starting my other blog. Some of you may have noticed that I got the basics down but I haven't gone any further. Something isn't quite right with it yet. I am not sure how it's going to change but I feel like it's not ready for me to get into or maybe I'm not ready. I started a big intro post, which I like, but I think I don't see the whole of it, the full purpose, and how this will be a massive change from my typical blog life.

Currently, I am not happy with the title. I did a brain storm based on what I thought it was going to be about, and came up with a list of name possibilities. Branden and I both really like "Golden Rule Nights" and checked to make sure it was available, saw it was free, so I nabbed it that night. I'm just feeling like that's just not it. It's not just my night volunteering, especially since I've had lots to keep me from it lately, but I think it's more of just...me. This is weird though because that leaves things very open and vulnerable to just have a blog on my heart and my thoughts. Laughter is always my way of dealing with things and practically my way of life, so being serious is so uncomfortable. I do have serious conversations with people, but I always have to make them laugh at some point, as if to make sure that they have a pulse of joy in them.

I think I get this from my Granny, who is also the one I'm named after. Nothing ever gets that woman down. She's been widowed since I was about 6, has had cancer 5 different times, and made the most of her widowed years travelling the world with her other widow friends. She didn't have an easy life, and I've found out more and more as I have grown older how tough she has had it, but you wouldn't have a clue of it. This can drive some of the family nuts as they just wish she'd take things seriously and not make jokes about going in for chemo and radiation again, but I think she wouldn't be able to handle it if she didn't take it the light hearted way she does. I'm that way too. If I have a serious issue and become completely sombre and serious about it, I will go absolutely nuts and put myself into depression in a snap. I have to find the light side of things and I have to make people laugh about it. Laughing is better than crying.

So anyway, this new blog is a stretch and I don't know when I'll be ready for it but I know it's coming and I'll get it sorted as I know more. I'm such a people pleaser, and I know not everyone would be pleased by my heart, my thoughts, and ultimately my relationship with God. I don't understand why it has to be so controversial because it's my personal relationship and not something I would try to put on someone, but there's just something about the word "God" now days that gets everyone's hackles up. That's another reason why I'm keeping the two blogs separate, so if you don't want to read my heart and just want my humor then you can keep to the one site and don't have to have your hackles in a twitch if I happen to mention the biggest part of my life, which just so happens to be God.

This gets me to another thing. I finally read Elisa's book The Golden Sky. (For those of you who know nothing about her book, click on the title and read a bit about it before continuing here. It will make a lot more sense if you do.) When it first came out, I was sad that we couldn't afford to buy it at the time since money was so tight that food was even a concern. But last month, Branden had extra hours and we got Christmas money so when I saw that I could get it on the Kindle for $2.99, I jumped on it! Oddly though, I couldn't bring myself to read it for a while. I knew what it was about, I knew that Elisa had healed so much since then, but it was like I couldn't bear to read it and feel her pain, as if it would make her actually go through it all again. I know this is silly, but it was a struggle since I have really enjoyed getting to know Elisa over these past months and seeing her wonderful, optimistic spirit. I didn't want to see her hurt.

Finally, a few days ago, I started it. It took me in right away, and I found myself completely engrossed in it. I knew Zeke didn't make it, but I still kept finding myself rooting for him to survive, like maybe this time the story would change. Maybe it would be different and she wouldn't have to go through all the pain I knew she has gone through. Again, I know it's crazy but I've never read a book written by someone I know. There were times where I would be interrupted from my reading and realize that I had a constant stream of tears just pouring off of my cheeks. Then there was last night, when I couldn't sleep so I was up till almost 3am, trying not to laugh and wake Branden up because of her skunk story. It was an eye opener and a heart wrenching look at myself.

Sure, our situation over here in Ireland has not been easy and we've had lots of people tell us that there's no way they could do it and they have no idea how we have managed, but it all seems so petty in relation to losing a child, and then even losing a spouse for a while. I always think how lucky Branden and I are to love each other so much and think 'how well' we've handled struggles so far, so we must be able to take on anything. But it can change in such an instant. Yes, there can be restoration in some cases, but sometimes there's not.

I had a dream last night that was like watching a show of my life. Happily married to my dark, curly haired dream man, and then all of a sudden, I leave the room, come back, and find that he is gone and there is a blonde haired oaf there instead, acting as if he's always been there. It was like Branden was never there, even though I knew he had been there and I knew that I wanted him back, but for some reason I had to play wife to the blonde oaf as if Branden had never been there. It crushed me and I hated pretending to be happy, and I woke up in desperate hopes to see my brown, curly haired dream man, but remembered that he was already gone to class.

I know this isn't the point of the book at all but I did get scared of losing Branden. We have an entire lifetime of big scary things happening to us and one of those times may take one of us. It's a hard thought and I can't think about it without crying, but life is fragile and does as it needs to do, whether we understand why or not. I know hardships make us better and make us learn important things, but I like being a simple, ignorant girl, who's madly in love with her husband and nothing can make her see otherwise. Elisa came out of her hardships, and look at her life now. She is one of the most beautiful people you will ever come to know and she has such a beautiful family. I'm so glad to have read her book, even if it was hard, but I got to see how important it is to not waste a moment with the ones you love. You just don't know when God will need them back.

Tomorrow, things will be back to the typical Padded Cell style, and you will even get to read the writing left on the wall from a crazy regular...Fishducky! She won the competition last week as to what to change my Merry Christmas garland to so I will post her hilarious story tomorrow!

Monday, January 9, 2012

My First Time in Europe

I was a different person when we first moved to Scotland. I was still sarcastic and optimistic, but after living amongst British humor and an entirely different lifestyle other than 'biggger, better American living' I have become more sarcastic and more open to other ways of life. I also had a completely different idea as to what would be good travel wear on the longest flight I had ever taken.

So what did the Maggie of September 2009 do when she first moved across the country and across the pond? She thought it was best to wear a comfortable silk wrap around skirt and her comfortable leather 3 inch heels, which were actually short for her. She hated the fact that she had to wear her glasses and not show off her inherited long lashes, displayed by her typical 20 minute mascara routine, since she would be flying for so long and couldn't sleep well wearing contacts.

After a flight change in Chicago, we had one more LONG layover in London's Heathrow before our short flight up to Edinburgh, where a van awaited to pick us up. I discovered along the already 14 hours of flying that I CAN'T sleep on planes, no matter how exhausted I am! As we sat for 5.5 hours in Heathrow, I had already been up for over 24 hours, I had cabin smell, my heel on my right shoe was stripped down to the nail from the metal escalator surface, and my legs were really not enjoying being next to each other without some fabric between them. I was miserable. Chrissy even tried to tell me before I left but I pooh pooh'd her and said that this was what I was used to wearing.

Finally, after 20 some hours of travelling, we landed in Edinburgh and found the driver of the van. The wind also found my skirt and I had to play the game of holding my skirt down while pulling two 50lb. suitcases behind me, while also sporting a backpack and carrying a Ukulele and purse. We were dropped off at our B&B where we had to carry over 200lbs of luggage up a large flight of stairs and fit it in our small room. At this a point, all I wanted was a shower! I couldn't stand the look, let alone the smell of myself, so I immediately stripped down and bolted for the bathroom.

The sweat on my body started to cool rapidly as I tried turning the shower on. I hit a button, turned a dial, and got nothing. I turned the dial and turned off the button, but still nothing. I fiddled and fiddled with it but could not get a drop out of that shower! Now, patience is not a word I know well (heck, I'm lucky enough to know how to spell it!), so I frustratingly called Branden in to try and figure out how in the world to get the shower on! He did the same thing I did but for less time and then said, "Have you tried pulling the string in the corner of the room?". On the opposite corner of the room, above the sink, there was a long string hanging down from the 10ft ceiling. I looked at him as if he was crazy and may as well asked me to do a rain dance. "Why on earth would a random string hanging from the ceiling on the far side of the room turn the shower on???" I nearly shrieked at him!

Not wanting to get into a debate with his shivering, crazed, smelly, and naked wife, he simply walked over, pulled the string, and the shower came on. My jaw dropped, and even though I was happy that I could finally take a hot shower, I still stated, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever seen!".

I've learned a lot since then. The types of showers that you have to turn on with the string is actually really nice! They are called power showers or electric showers, and when I first saw that term, I said, "Where we come from, electricity and showers don't mix!". Our flat in Edinburgh had one and it meant we didn't have a hot water tank as the power shower heated the water as you needed it. We never ran out of hot water and never had constantly heating water sitting in a tank, sucking up our electric bill.

I also learned that heels and cobblestones don't work. Branden finally insisted that I give them up for good after picking me up off the side walk for the umpteenth time. It was a tough thing to give up since I was known back home for always wearing high, high heels for everything and had well over 50 pairs (I had to give most away when we moved). Skirts in the wind aren't pleasant either, so my dresses are basically just great closet decoration. I do still see women wear them and I've even asked them how, but I still never seem to figure out how to do it. I guess I'm just more uncomfortable with showing my nickers on a blustery day than the locals.

One thing that hasn't changed though, is my love of animal clips. A friend posted this on Facebook and I swear it's NOT a Bud Light ad...I would never encourage people to drink that crap.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Contest Winner Announcement!

I must say, you all had great ideas as to what I should now do with my Merry Christmas garland. I even had to sleep on my decision! I also had to have help from a panel of judges, aka: Chrissy, my mom, my sis, and Branden (technically Hunter was there too but he didn't exactly cast a vote). We did some slight adjustments to some of the entries and came up with a finalist list. The top 5 were (in no particular order...ok actually it's in the order they were entered)

My Rams Chest submitted by Joshua (we just changed it from My Ram Chests)

Hamsters Cry submitted by Fishducky (we changed it from Hamsters Cry Rim)

My Arms Itch submitted by Fishducky (although I didn't have support from Chrissy on this, because she was afraid that if our door was open and our housemates saw this above our bed they may become paranoid that we are horribly diseased)

Smash Time submitted by Scope (Branden personally really liked this one...he's such a guy!)

Rest My Rims submitted by Elisa (quite a good one for above a bed but also maybe strange since we don't have a car? We still liked it)

So, who will it be?? What conclusion did we come to??? For the most part, the vote was unanimous. This one got the best laughs and is the most fitting I think for our personalities.

The Winner is:

Congrats to Fishducky! I will be in touch and find out if you would prefer to claim your prize in the form of an interview with me or if you would like to share a story on my blog! 

I don't intend to leave this up until next Christmas. So, as I change it from month to month, I will choose one of the finalists and then others that I like. If I use yours, then I'll contact you that month and see if you would like to do an interview or share a story as well! It's a win win really. You can say you won something and I practically have you write my blog for me  ;)

You may ask why I chose to hang "Hamsters Cry" above my bed. I am not in support of hamster sadness or depression but it might make me happy to think of one of the adorable fuzzy creatures crying into his overly sized cheek pockets. A number of years ago, I had a friend that brought home a hamster from college. She had rescued it from living in a tiny cage in a guy's closet, as he was hiding it from the 'dorm police'. They weren't allowed to have pets on campus housing so she brought it home and I got stuck with it. Now, I love animals and think rodents to be especially cute, but this thing was not just demon possessed, he was Satan incarnate in a tiny fur suit! That monster was a biter, and the more I tried to get him used to people, the more vicious he became! 

His name was Stuart when I first got him but I changed it right away to Hannibal because of his love of human flesh. He would strike at the cage whenever he heard someone near, made my mom's knuckle bleed from a nasty bite, and later became severely racist. I started using leather gloves to handle him, and the easiest way to get him out of the cage was to just put your thick, leather clad finger into his territory and wait .000324 seconds for him to latch on to you. The only way to get him off was to shake him off. We discovered that he was a racist rodent when the friend who bestowed him upon me, tried picking him up with black leather gloves. He went nuts and attacked it more fiercely than we ever saw him strike at anything. 

Since I don't like mean nasty biters or racists, we found a new home for him. He went to a lady who bred hamsters. She introduced him slowly to the other hamsters but he ended up eating a baby hamster, so she had him put down...

...I hope it was with her cat! And I hope that cat played with him for a long time. Ok, I'm not one for animal suffering but he ATE A BABY!!! The real Hannibal didn't even eat a baby!

So yes, "Hamsters Cry" above my bed will give me sweet sweet dreams, remembering that nasty little rodent who got his come up ins!

Moral of the Story: Never be racist because you too will become a monster who eats babies!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Support My Silliness Contest! *NOW CLOSED*

My wonderful sister has had the craft bug lately, which has resulted in some fabulous things! At Christmas time she sent a little box of goodies with a Merry Christmas garland that she made. I hung it above our bed since it's a good size, matches our quilt, and it looked nice up there. Here's the thing, now that Christmas is over, I'm thinking it could be a fun to make different words out of it! Branden and I played with it last night and our favorites were "Hairy Mess", "Marry Chemists", and "I has my rest" (sounds very LOLCATZ I know!).

I'm hoping you all can give us a hand and maybe come up with something better! So here is a photo of us with the garland and whoever comes up with my favorite word or phrase can have their choice of being interviewed by me or writing a post to be published on my blog (must be family friendly please). It's a chance for you to hopefully get some more advertising for your blog and maybe some of my followers...and we all know I have the BEST followers!

Branden got glasses for the first time! I think they look great!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I'm Secretly a Crazy Cat Lady

Actually the post's title is a lie...it's not much of a secret! For most of my memory, I have had a cat. I had one cat before I was three but it ran away and then I had my kitty from the age of 3 until I had to put her down when I was 22. For those of you who don't care to do basic math in your head, she was 19. She is another story, mostly because I don't want to cry today, but even after she passed away, my sister's cat who stayed with my parents was mostly in my life until a couple of years ago when he had to finally be put down.

I may not have had tons of cats at one time but I am still crazy about cats! I miss not having a purry little fur ball curled up on my lap, I miss not being able to play with their frisky personalities, and I miss their adorable faces that are full of expression. Some day I will be able to get a cat but for now, Pinterest feeds my addiction. Here are some of my favorite funny cats:

Poor Branden has to deal with my crazy kitty addiction. He has probably had to watch more youtube cat footage than any other sane man on this planet. Despite the fact that he is allergic to cats, he is looking forward to the day that we can finally get one...but between us, I think it's mostly to get me to shut up about it finally! 

When I finally do get my much anticipated cat, I probably will transform into a greater crazy cat lady than I am now! Then I'll think a lot more seriously about things like this:

Once I finally get a kitty, you all will get to hear about my dog obsession!

And yes, we totally want a Basset!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Holy Honey Ham that's Hot!

2012 and I are not getting off on the right foot. Branden and I went grocery shopping yesterday and were happy to find that all of the big Christmas hams were 1/2 off! We bought a 3kg smoked ham with every intent of cooking it up, eating some for dinner and then having lots of yummy ham leftovers. Lunch meat is so expensive so we were looking forward to real ham sandwiches at a fraction of the price!

We have discovered the best way to cook ham is by first boiling it in Coke and then baking it with a brown sugar glaze. Since it was a smoked ham and I didn't have time to soak it in cold water overnight to get rid of the excess salt, I did the quick version by putting it in a pot of cold water and bringing it to the boil while scraping off any gunk off the top. Once it's to the boil, then I can take it out and start boiling it in Coke with a chopped onion (we used 2 small red onions) and some peppercorns. Since it was a big ham, we boiled it for an hour and half. We boiled it in the biggest pot we had but it still stuck out the top of the liquid a little bit so halfway through the boiling process, I had to flip the ham. I had a big plastic stirring spoon that I had been using, so I used that to try and shift the ham.

My big spoon managed to slip off of the ham, shooting a large spoonful of boiling Coke right down my shirt and onto my left "chest area"! I ran to the bathroom, threw my burning top off, and put a room temp damp towel on my burning area. I've heard not to put cold water on a burn so that's why I did just room temp water. Then I put some antiseptic stuff we have that is supposed to be good for burns, and then some plain lotion. Amongst all the pain of a burned boob, Branden and I were still managing to laugh about all of this. I always seem to hurt myself in the strangest ways!

Later, after our tasty ham meal, I was in an odd funk where anything Branden said or did would just irritate me to no end. I have found that the easiest ways to deal with these funks is to just be open about them and tell Branden outright that I'm in an odd bad mood. After announcing my pissy predicament, he said something sarcastically that caused me to laugh and then 'attack' him for irritating 'the monster' (aka me). My attack came in the form of tickling his ribs, but in his attempt to block being tickled, my wrist collided with his hand, pushing my palm inwards, and making loud popping sounds. Some tears later, I decided that 2012 is not very nice and I hope it get's it's Mayan come-up-ins!

Poor Branden felt so bad but it wasn't his fault. My wrist is a bit sore today and I've got some interesting red marks on my chest, but thankfully the pain is gone. I am looking forward to some ham leftovers, as I will be making tomato salad with it for lunch today and then chicken and ham casserole for dinner tonight. Mmmmm, I love ham.

Ok, maybe I don't love ham as much as these guys...

So how was your start to 2012??