Archive | January, 2012

good morning.

31 Jan
Crack the shutters open wide …

The view from my eastward-facing balcony this morning; a whole lotta color and great way to wake up.

things funeral directors say.

30 Jan
Have you seen the videos making the rounds on youtube – sh*t [enter profession, geographical region, or title] say?  [I sadly fall into this one – sh*t Minnesotans say.  Oh fer funny.]  Consider this only the very beginning of sh*t funeral directors say.
I’m in funeral mode this week with my third one coming up at the end of this week.  [bye bye convocation at luther sem]  Funeral directors can say the silliest things.  Well – some silly.  Some just odd to the outside but yet normal for their chosen occupation. I’m gathering quite the list working with three separate funeral home and three different guys thus far.  Here we go.
[I answer the phone.  My caller ID has alerted me that it is the funeral home on the other end but Mark, the funeral guy, starts the conversation like this:]
Hi.  I’d like to order a pizza …
[discussing the transportation to the cemetery]
And since this is the first funeral we’ll be doing with you, you’ll drive the hearse.  You know, an induction of sorts.
[different funeral, different guy]
And you can just ride in the hearse with me to the cemetery.  You can sit up front.
How old are you?

Feet to the east, head to the west.
[Apparently it’s a rule.]
Don’t get me wrong as I tease – I admire these men and the work they do.  I like these guys.
[But that doesn’t mean I want to work with them any more than necessary.]  They’re just so … wacky sometimes.  [And perhaps you have to be in that line of work.]

Fellow pastors – anything to add?

a list.

29 Jan
You know how I love a good list.  Here’s a list of things that pastors must [sometimes] do for which we have received absolutely no training or education:
. serve on boards of directors of nursing homes.  [I’m a warm body in a chair and that’s about it the last Friday of every month.]
. read complicated financial reports.  [what the heck is an ECBIT?]
. the rules of bulk mailings.  [and how to address a disgruntled postman]
. furnace diagnosis. [woe is me.]
. tech support.
. talk to the MN department-of-something people about water samples.  [at least he was cute.]
. field call after call after call from solicitors for everything from fast-melting salt ice stuff to the new latest best curriculum to engage your young adults.  [I call their bluff.]
. robert’s rules of order.  [enough said.]
I’m certain there is more and I’m certain that everyone in every profession has a learning curve.  Sometimes I just feel like the realm of ministry is so odd and random and varied that it simply makes me laugh.  [I could also make a pretty awesome list of the things that I get to do and consider work.  Going to camp?  Drinking coffee?  Playing board games?]  Everyday is a learning experience and it’s not always about ministry.  Life is a learning experience.  [Can I get an amen?]

kitchen adventures.

29 Jan
The month of January has allowed for fun kitchen experiments.  I’ve already bragged about my macaron success [but you should probably know that out of a whole batch of macaron batter, that was the only cookie that looked like that].  I tried a few other kitchen adventures – some were a-to-the-awesome and a few weren’t so great.  Check out the links and if you try them yourself, let me know your thoughts!
. turkey taco chili [I loved this one so much I’ve made it twice now, freezing single portions for lunches.  I love it with a little cheddar and a spoon or two of cottage cheese instead of sour cream.]
. marshmallows [made for kicks. so incredibly delicious in hot chocolate.  and I don’t even normally like hot chocolate.  I admit – I drank it for the marshmallows.]
. finnish pancakes [Sara and I ate these with a lot of cinnamon and a little powdered sugar.]
. loads of roasted veggies [sweet potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash with pepper and garlic.  so good.]
. roasted chickpeas [surprisingly so much more delicious than expected]
. fruit and yogurt rollups [I did not do the sugar step as they suggest.  I spread yogurt on low-fat tortillas, added cinnamon, and then the fruit.]
. cilantro lime rice [I did make this with brown rice and I’m a self-admitted poor rice cooker.  This might be better on a second attempt or by one who can properly make rice.]

Allow me to admit –

28 Jan
Are you ready? I’m going to admit my failure to you. The month isn’t even over and I have completely and utterly failed all of my January resolutions. But, let’s remember, through the failure there is learning.  What did Batman Bruce’s dad always tell him?  It’s now how you fall off the horse but it’s how you get back on.  Or something like that. 
No buy January? Failed. However, I did go through the whole month buying no new clothes/accessories/otherwise unnecessary things. [Small, tiny success.] I learned that as I live in a house now – and not in an apartment – there are things that I must purchase. For example: Mabel grabbed my small frying pan off the stove, licked the turkey burger remains, and in the process scratched off the coating. I needed a new frying pan, so, well, I bought a new frying pan.  Then there was that whole Mabel-baby-massacre last weekend; Mabel needed new toys.  $50 in fun money? Well, January was at an all-time high for lunches out with various friends. Total? Unknown. [Look at me with no regret for not sticking closer to my goal.]  The month did allow me to reevaluate expenses and develop some sort of budget plan [which was lacking].  So yay to that?
$75 in groceries? Failed. However, I now have a better idea of what I spend in actuality. I learned that my favorite Greek yogurt at $1.26/yogurt breaks the bank. So do the “no-sugar-added” canned pears I love to eat for something sweet after lunch. My morning star veggie burgers pop in at over $1/burger and an avocado can be well over $1 if not on sale. I need to learn to be a couponer but first I need a Sunday paper or a good website … or something.  Or learn to like to eat cheaper things.
No sugar? Failed. However, sugar intake was decreased. I did really, really well the first two/three weeks … and then I started to falter. It started off innocent; I was offered a brownie during a church meeting. Then this weekend I entered severe project mode and wanted to conquer homemade marshmallows and a perfect macaron.  I can’t have sweets in the house or I eat them … so big mistake there.

Perfect macaron?  Done.  This is the first time in at least five attempts that my french sandwich cookie has truly come out the way it is meant to come out.  Each of the cookies is meant to have a hard shell and “feet” – the air bubble looking bit around the bottom.  Check and check.  My salted caramel filling could be a little thicker but I’m going to take it and call this a macaron success.  Serious inflation of pride and confidence this day.  It’s been months of struggle.  I thank a kitchen scale to weigh my ingredients, my Silpat, and a solid ten and a half minutes in the oven.

happy national pb day!

24 Jan
Did you know?  It’s national peanut butter day!  Grab a spoon, walk to your cupboard/frig, and take a bite.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.
[enter early-90s easy listening radio]
Good.  You’re back.  Now tell me – isn’t peanut butter a wonderful thing?
I had a meeting this morning in Rochester.  It happened to lead me right past the Trader Joe’s in Roch.  On the way home, my car automatically pulled into the parking lot; I couldn’t stop it.  I had a short list of things [peanut butter being one of them] so I made a quick grocery stop.  I love Trader Joe’s natural peanut butter.  I’ve tried other natural pbs and they just don’t measure up on my tongue.  nomnomnom.  Mr. Saltgnomeshaker and Mr. Peppergnomeshaker agree.
To celebrate the day, I opened it up and gave it a stir when I got home.  I grabbed a knife, found Mabel’s kong, and stuffed that sucker with small bones and topped it off with peanut butter.  Mabel loves this treat … but what you need to know is that Trader Joe’s natural pb [any natural pb really] has a certain tongue-smacking tendancy.  It isn’t quite as smooth or easy to swallow as the peanut butters like JIF.  Let me tell you – Mabel noticed the difference.  It took quite the [hilarious] effort to eat that peanut butter.  I plan to continue to torture her with such in the future.  [At this point, I would like to say that I’m still much kinder than my dad to dogs.  He used to take a saltine cracker, cover it with peanut butter, and then stick it to the roof of the mouth of my grandma’s dog.  Let me tell you – Stormy earned her treat with all the effort it required to get that off the roof of her mouth!  Cruel.  And hilarious.]

this isn’t everything you are.

24 Jan

this happened.

22 Jan
This happened.  Sara bought me pumpkin cream liqueur because, well, why not.  We weren’t quite sure what to do with it.  We thought it might be akin to Bailey’s, a la delicious in coffee.  Negative.  Never, ever, ever put pumpkin cream liqueur in coffee.  We lost sixteen good ounces of coffee that way that we’ll never get back.
This happened.  [photo credit: sjs]  Did you know that Austin, MN is Spamtown, USA?  Home of Hormel Foods and the SPAM museum.  I hadn’t visited the famed museum yet; I was waiting for my Sara to arrive.  We easily spent two hours in the museum and spent a combined $30 in the SPAM gift shop.
This happened.  There was a puppet show AND a game show.  [Not to mention a cooking show, packing demonstrations, a movie, and Monty Python references.]  Come visit and we’ll visit the museum dedicated to the canned pork product.
This happened.  Mabel killed her baby.  It was a massacre of stuffing.  She looks pretty satisfied about the murder.
It was fun having Sara as a visitor.  We talked, roasted chickpeas [yummy], and ate chocolate frozen yogurt malts for supper.  We created a theme room in an upstairs bedroom [come visit and you can have a tea party in the Room of Confusion] and shopped mainstreet Austin.  It happened and it was awesome.
21 Jan

This is what I did today. Shook a can of SPAM’s hand. More to come tomorrow.

general wackiness.

19 Jan
My house is the location of oddities and wacky things of late.
Take my dog, for example.  I accidentally dropped an ice cube on the floor and she went NUTS.  Turns out she loves ice cubes.  Cheaper than buying milkbones, I suppose.  Today, I came home from work and found a storage container lid and paring knife on the carpet.  She took it from the counter while I was gone and, I guess, ate what small scraps of cheddar she could find.  A knife!  This dog is loca.  She has also taken a cheese grater from the counter and licked that clean.  I can’t imagine her tongue feels great.  This is all completely besides the fact that I think she might have separation anxiety.  shakes head  Did I mention she shreds toilet paper if given the chance too?
I woke up this morning and was quite warm in the house.  I didn’t think too much about it; it’s always super warm upstairs compared to down and the thermostat is set to increase in temp to 68 degrees right around 6am.  I figured it was normal.  Oh, no.  I looked at the thermostat – it was 80 degrees in here and the furnace wouldn’t shut off!  I had to push the reset button on the furnace in the basement for things to even begin to cool down.  Add that to the smoke detector that started chirping at some point during the night.  As I woke up and became conscious of it, I had two paths I could choose from – the Phil Dumphy [Modern Family] or the Phoebe [Friends] response.  I was set for Phil Dumphy but found the culprit right away; no need for the cheerleading baton.
Tonight the game table in my great room is my location, a sermon I must write before Sara comes to visit for the weekend.  [SPAM museum, here we come!]  I should mention that while I sit here, Mabel lays in the kitchen and intensely stares at me with ears perked.  No clue what that means.  Just moments before she was doing the same thing from a random location in the middle of the dining area.  She’s weird.
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