Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hardee's: My Job and My Drug Bust

Not too long ago, the hubby and I were out on a mini-date to the brand spanking new Wendy's down the street.  And I have to say…this Wendy's is the most swank of any I've ever seen.  It's deluxe!  It has not one, but two space-age soda machines, and a lounge area complete with a modern fireplace.  Anywho, whenever I go to a fast-food place (which is a rare occurrence these days), I am immediately taken back to the days of old…more specifically, high school.  I had a variety of jobs in my growing-up years, but job #3 had the added perk of wearing a cool hat.

Now, I was only fortunate enough to wear the Hardee's uniform for a few months; I had to throw in the towel when track season started.  But I remember nervously going in for my interview, dressed to the nines in my black dress pants and fancy shirt…oh yeah, and don't forget all that makeup caked on my face. I was trying to look professional, after all.  At the end of the interview, the lady told me I was hired, but then lowered her voice and said, "But, uh…when you come in for work, wear a lot less makeup."

And thus, I started my short journey in the fast (food) lane.  I had to buy some really classy black or navy blue pants.  You know, the kind that make anyone look like their lower half is a hot-air ballon.  And some black slip-resistant shoes.  However, I went more for comfort and style and less with the all important slip-resistnancy.  Hello, Dr. Scholl's loafers!  I paid the price for my vanity, though, as I slipped and slid all around the greasy floors for the entirety of my shifts.  Why, Dr. Scholl, are you so stylish yet so reckless?

I also remember the sheer terror of being sent to the walk-in freezer to get more bags of fries.  I always tried to time it so I could grab the fries before the freezer door would close on me (and avoid having a mini panic attack).  But, alas, I never made it in time.  Thanks again, Dr. Scholl, you slippery fiend.  Supposedly the door was rigged so no one could ever get locked inside the freezer, but all I could picture was my obit on the second page of the Journal News.  "Local Teenager's Last Words: Would You Like Fries With That?"

But, really, I am grateful for my time at a fast-food joint.  It made me appreciate all those who work in the service industry; I tip my Hardee's star hat to you all.

Good news, though…my fast food loafers have made a surprising comeback as part of a certain youngster's Halloween costume (Severus Snape's grandmother?).

Oh yeah…I almost forgot the best story from Hardee's.  It was that time that my brother Adam dropped a Hardee's onion ring somewhere in my little red Cavalier…which then resulted in my one and only drug bust.  Some cops and canines came to our high school one day to do a random drug search.  I was in P.E. when they called my name over the school intercom.  I think all the blood in my body went straight to my face in that moment.  I went to the office where a couple of police officers met me and said that they'd like me to escort them to the parking lot.  The dogs apparently "picked something up" on my car and therefore they would need to investigate.

I walked down to the parking lot, knowing full well that my classmates' faces were plastered to the gym windows watching this all go down.  I nervously unlocked my car, and they searched everything.  I knew there were no drugs to be found, but I still shook like a leaf.  My only suggestion was, "Maybe it's that onion ring we couldn't find?  It's somewhere in there and my car reeks."  The cop politely informed me that his canines were highly trained to pick up the scent of drug paraphernalia only.  Then I thought, "Oh shoot…now he's gonna think I'm making up excuses to hide something!".    I really needed to brush up on my dealings with the law, watch more Night Court or something.  When their search finally resulted in nothing, they sent me on my way with a firm reprimand to "thoroughly clean and vacuum" my car.  I think it was the onion ring stench that got them in the end.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I blogged a blog.

Well hello, blog.  It's been awhile.  After I write something new, I tell Michael that "I blogged a blog."  And then I get made fun of.  Apparently that's not the proper lingo.

'Tis the season for sewing.  Christmastime warms my heart.  I love sewing gifts for people, so this time of year is a lot of fun for me.  Slash super stressful.  I always get in up to my eyeballs somehow, and then freak out…I have how many more presents to make?  And there are how many days till Christmas?  And then I watch those warm Christmastime fuzzies float out the window.

You know what will usually snap me from crazy grinch mode back into Suzie Snowflake?  A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Something about that smooth Vince Garaldi jazz and hearing Linus read the story of Jesus's birth stops me dead in my tracks, and (dare I say it?) even make me tear up a bit.  You can add that to the list of things that make me cry.  It's so simple, really, and I make it all chaotic.  Bah humbug, me!

Moving on…

This year, for the very first time, my husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving at our house.

Yes, I know.

It is a well known fact that I am not culinarily inclined.  I cook because I have to, not because I want to.  This is a big moment for me, folks.  We are making dinner for our parents and siblings.  The tables have turned.  When we decided we're doing this, my husband immediately made an excel spreadsheet in his excitement.  (He's one of those.)  I immediately started praying.  "Lord, thank you in advance for Bellacino's Pizza right up the road, for when my house burns down with the dinner on Thanksgiving Day.  Amen."

In light of the recent election, I thought I would share with you my own political aspirations.  When I was in the third grade, my teacher had us write a paragraph on what we would do if we had a million dollars.  I recently unearthed this paper in my memory box back at home.  In list fashion, here's what I said I'd do:

  1. Use some for my college education.
  2. Give some to the "poor and starved people", most of it going to Somalia.
  3. "I would buy a good paying job when I'm grown up.  A good job would be a congresswoman.  I would feel really special being a part of the president.  I think it would be a good job."
My teacher must of thought I was a strange bird.  "This 9-year-old has a million dollars, and she wants to buy herself a good paying job?"  I've said it before…I was born old.  America!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cry Me A River

Wouldn't you know I just about bawled my eyes out in the grocery store this morning?!  Yeesh.  I ran into a family from my block, said hello, and asked what they were up to today.  The mom said, "Oh, just spending the last few hours with my son before he leaves for the military tonight."  I knew this kid was leaving soon, but I didn't realize how soon.  It caught me off guard.  I barely know this family, and as they walked off down the produce aisle, it took everything in me to not start weeping like a willow.  I was literally holding my breath, repeating to myself, "Don't cry…don't cry…don't cry….".   Luckily, Gene Kelly stepped in to save the day.  I don't know if they have this in your grocery store, but at mine, they play a little bit of the song "Singin' in the Rain" right before the sprayers turn on to mist the lettuce.  One of the top 10 best ideas ever, hands down.

I'm not a huge cryer.  But some things get me every time. 

  1. Anything to do with the military.  
  2. The curtain call of any live musical (amateur or professional)
  3. Cutting onions
  4. It's A Wonderful Life (Especially the part where all George's friends come over to his house and give him money so he doesn't have to go to jail.  Harry Bailey, toasting: "To my brother, the richest man in town!")

Hold on, let me wipe my tears.  Darn you, Bailey brothers!!

That's me in a nutshell.

I am so happy to show you my latest quilt, which will be given to my friend this evening.  Actually, it's for her sweet little baby boy.  I hope it brings him lots of warmth and comfort in these cold midwestern winters.  

I did a little sneaking and found this pattern on my friend's Pinterest page.  You can call me Detective Ree.  It's the Jungle Path Baby Quilt by Jessica over at Moda Bake Shop.  I used Riley Blake's Mod Tod fabric line.  Here are some other shots:

I'm going to end this little post with something I'm REALLY looking forward to next week.  My little sister is participating in her 5th grade talent show with her best friend.  They're doing stand-up comedy. It should be amazing.  And I just may cry.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Book Christmas!

This week, something big is happening (in my mind and a few others' too, I'm guessing).  On Thursday, the lovely and talented J.K. Rowling will release her new book The Casual Vacancy.  I'm trying to prepare myself for this properly.  I was so swept up in her magical story of The Boy Who Lived, so completely enthralled and inspired.  But I know this will be entirely different, written for adults.  Containing scandal and real-life adult problems.  But I respect her for it; publishing something so different from what she's famous for is nothing short of brave.

What I appreciate most about her writing is how great of a storyteller she is, how easy it is to be wrapped up in her story and not want to close it.  How this entire world in her mind was put to paper, and by simply reading the words on the page, I was there.  That, my friends, is magical.  If I can look for that in her new book--her stellar storytelling ability--and not for whimsical imagination, and if I find it, I will be pleased.

Needless to say, I placed an early request for The Casual Vacancy at my local library.  A little trick to pass on to you…request the Large Print edition.  You'll get it much faster.  I requested both the regular hardback and Large Print, and here's the difference in my position in the waiting line: Regular Hardback--position 90.  Large Print--position 9.  Large Print, please and thank you.

In honor of J.K.'s literary "coming of age", here is a little project I made quite some time ago.  Ten points to Gryffindor if you can guess where this is in my house!

I've had such a dry spell when it comes to good books lately.  So this is coming just in the nick of time.  And…when it rains it pours.  Another of my favorite authors is releasing her newest novel in October…The Secret Keeper (by Kate Morton).  This is her fourth book and I am so looking forward to it.  She, like J.K., is crazy talented at storytelling.  Her stories typically revolve around some sort of mystery in England during WWI and WWII.  And I devour them.

Folks, this is Book Christmas for me!  If anyone reads either of these books, I would love-love-love to hear your thoughts on them.  We can have Book Christmas together, drinking hot chocolate in our footie-pajamas.  Think about it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Thievery and Other Foolishness

Grocery stores and I go way back.  My earliest memory of going to the grocery store involved a little bit of crime.  I was probably 4 or 5 years old, and there was this great candy out at the time…perhaps you remember it?

I'd had my eye on this candy for quite some time…I think I remember seeing my neighbor Cindy with it once and knew I couldn't live without it.  I mean, come on, she listened to the Fat Boys

Every time we checked out at IGA, there it was…staring at me.  Now, I don't know how this idea popped into my head at such a young age.  I guess I was born a rebel.  (Takes long drag on a Virginia Slim…)  But I decided that I needed to steal this candy (because asking my mom was not an option?), and there was only one way to do it.  I quietly grabbed the candy while my mom's back was turned toward the cash register, hid it in both my hands, and proceeded to perform the "I really REALLY need to go to the bathroom" dance.  So, we hurried out the door with our cart, dancing all the way out to the car. And to my horror, I could hear the candy moving around inside the box with each little jump I took.  Surely I would be discovered!  I jumped a little less vigorously…no reaction from Mom.  Shwew!

I sat in the back seat of the Chevy Celebrity with my prize clutched tightly in my sweaty palms.  Should I eat it now and risk Mom seeing me?  No.  I will perform this in full Shakespearean glory…all the way to the bathroom.  We arrived home, I rushed to the bathroom, closed the door and devoured my little box of gum-candy.  It was the best tasting candy I'd ever had (at that time)…it tasted like victory.

I wish I could write that my mom suddenly burst through the bathroom door and caught me red-handed (or orange-mouthed), clued in by the overwhelming scent of oranges and high fructose corn syrup.  And that I received a spanking and was sent back to IGA to fess up and pay up.  But no.  She never knew.  And I wish that I could say something cool like, "And that was the beginning of my run-ins with the law…", but alas, it was not.  And that is because I was born the Oldest Child…Type A…Brown-Noser….Goodie Two-Shoes...Rule-Follower…People-Pleaser.  I was punished by my own guilty conscience…"What have I done?  This isn't how my parents raised me.  Can kids go to jail?"  And thus ended my life of crime.  I was the thief…and my own police officer.

Other Foolishness…

I made an owl for our goddaughter.  Got some ideas from different stuffed owls online, put together my favorite pieces and came up with this…

I must say, I was quite pleased with how it turned out.  Then, one day, I came home to discover this…

Mayhem!  Foolishness!  Paul Terry!  (That's our dog's name.)

So, did a little amputation surgery on the owl, and gave it to her for her first birthday, sans a middle toe.  I think she loved it anyway.  :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

T-Shirt To Pillow

One of my family's favorite past times growing up was rearranging furniture.  It's just what we did, often much to my dad's chagrin because we usually ended up needing his muscles to move something big.  Sliding the furniture was never a good option because we needed to preserve the 70s rust-colored shag carpeting.  It's something I've carried with me into adulthood.  I've had piano students come in for their lessons and say, "Wow…again?"

Apparently it's contagious because I've gotten my husband into as well now.  He called me from his office to chat and when I asked what he was up to…rearranging.  I'm completely to blame.  I was so excited for him to be rearranging his office furniture (I'm easy to please!) that I wanted to get him something to spruce it up even more.  And now for a slight rabbit trail...

I'm not a mega baseball fan, but I have been to a few St. Louis Cardinals games in my day.  There used to be this player on the Cards with the last name of Duncan.  One day, he got traded, so we scored "personalized" Cards gear on clearance!  What a stroke of luck!  I got a t-shirt with "my" name on the back;  however, the fit was a little off.  It turned out to be more for a husky boy than a young lady.  And with each wash it seemed to get even more short and wide.  So I thew it in my closet; strike three--it was out.

Back to sprucing up the office…  Light bulb!  My husky boy Cards t-shirt can be turned into a pillow…and taken to hubby's office for a little new decor!  20 minutes later…voila.

Front of old t-shirt
Back of old t-shirt
He loved it!  What a sport.  It is now proudly displayed on his tiny office couch.  And can I get a hallelujah for a 20-minute project?!  Man, I love that instant gratification stuff every now and then.  Just a side note if you're interested in whipping up a pillow out of an old t-shirt.  It turns out that most Adult Small and Medium t-shirts fit perfectly on an 18-inch pillow form, so really, you just need to stitch the top and bottom (and where the arm holes were).

Speaking of baseball, I was reminiscing today about my time working at the old folks' home a couple of years ago.  We watched the Cardinals on tv, and occasionally made signs to cheer them on as we watched from the living room.  Here is one of my favorite people (who I miss dearly) holding up her sign to root on the Cards:

I aspire to someday be as kind and gentle a soul as she was.

I hope to post some pictures of some newer (and less instantly gratifying) projects I've worked on soon; stay tuned.  Go Cards!

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Well, I have nothing from my sewing room to share with you this time around.  So in lieu of a picture of some homemade creation, here is something completely different on which to feast your eyes:

Why not?

I have been sewing away on some things, but they're either not finished or are gifts for people (and I don't want to ruin the surprise).

My family came to visit us this weekend, and we played a board game called Name Five.  Basically, it gives you a category and you have 30 seconds to name five things in that category.  Simple enough but always fun.  The stars aligned and I was lucky enough to get the category "Good Things About Getting Older".   A category made for me--Score!  In way-less-than-thirty-seconds I rattled off my list of five items, at the top of which was "getting to wear elastic-waist pants".  No sweat.

I've been old for a very long time now.  In fifth grade, Mrs. Niehaus introduced us to music from different eras.  To take us back to the 1940s, she played "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" on a record player.  She told us to ask our grandparents if they remembered this song, and I did.  It was all downhill from there.  I bought my first Big Band cd when I was in the sixth grade, along with knock-off CK One perfume and a Calvin, ahem…Kermit, Klein sweatshirt:

When I was 19, I went to a Glenn Miller Orchestra concert with my grandma, great-grandma and great-aunt.  I was everyone's junior by a solid 45 years.  And it was incredibly hard for me to hold back the tears as they played Moonlight Serenade.  I was probably the only one there without silver hair, and when I went up to buy a concert t-shirt at the end, the merchandise man asked, "Are you sure?"  Unashamedly, it's still my favorite pajama shirt.

While sometimes I have a hard time making conversation with people my own age (introvert, right here!), sit me down with a senior citizen and we're old chums.  Conversation flows freely and I'm quick to throw in a "They sure don't make 'em like they used to" or "When I was a kid…".

I am well aware that old age is no picnic; but I can't help but look forward to certain things.  I will dye my permed hair bright red, wear hot pink lipstick on my lips and probably teeth, go out in public in polyester clothing that doesn't match.  I'll strut my stuff in orthopedic shoes, and if I must, have a cane with a horn on it so that young hooligans know to move it or lose it.  And I'm crossing my fingers to be in a senior citizen synchronized swimming group.

Take us out, Glenn…

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Quilt for My "Twin"

My younger brother Adam recently turned 27.  Man, are we getting up there or what?  I remember my fifth grade teacher Mr. Gruen being 27 years old; I thought he was ancient.

So, to celebrate 27 years with my younger twin brother, I made him a quilt.

Adam has turned into quite the artist, and he started that process when we were younger.  He would paint his bedroom in these crazy designs.  One of the more memorable ones was when he painted it neon green with a giant orange sun on the wall.  The colors I picked out for the front of his quilt reminded me of that room.  

The back of the quilt is pretty basic, but the panel of animal fabric in the middle is significant.  That fabric was taken from a curtain that hung in his room when he was really little, and my grandma happened to hold onto it for all these years.  She graciously let me take it so I could put it into Adam's quilt.  

Even though Adam and I are 14 months apart, we are twins.  Or, at least, that's what we used to tell people in elementary school.  After the last bell would ring, Adam and I would walk out together to my parents' silver Chevy Celebrity.  We had no shame in announcing to other kids along the way, "Hey, we're twins."  I'm not 100% sure we even knew who they were...we just wanted to let them know.  

Or, if someone would call the house, Adam and I would hand the receiver back and forth to each other (unbeknownst to the caller), because we also had twin voices.  I don't think we could've felt much cooler than when we did that.  High five!

I've heard it said that real twins have some strange unspoken connections, like when they finish each other's sentences.  I think Adam and I have similar connections, with an emphasis on the "strange".  We found joy in the same things, but things that were probably enjoyed ONLY by us.  For example, for fun, Adam and I would have "feet shows".  You would lay on the ground on your stomach, and shield your eyes in such a way that all you can see is the floor and a few inches above it.  The other person would dance across the floor in their sock feet.  Somehow, it made for great comedy and resulted in hours of entertainment for my brother and me.

Today, even though we live half a country apart, our twin connection is still strong.  A couple weeks ago, Adam knew that I was the only person who would laugh my head off at a picture of him wearing 15 pairs of socks at once.  So he sent it just to me.  And I did laugh my head off.

Happy birthday to my "twin".  Here's to many more years of sock-related humor!!!  Bologna socks.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Camp Ree-Ree

I never went to camp when I was growing up.  But I began liking the idea of camp ever since the first time I saw The Parent Trap (the 1961 Disney version).  How cool would it be to stay in a cabin with your friends, going swimming and canoeing, marching in formation while whistling, having food fights, and even finding your long lost twin sister?!

Credit: Walt Disney
While I don't have a long lost twin sister, I do have a sister almost two decades my junior.  I remember her arrival fondly...I was on my senior trip to Disney World, and got a phone call from my dad as I stood outside Cinderella's Castle with my friend Kristy.  "You have a little sister!  She just got here!"  And then a bird relieved itself on Kristy's head.  It was memorable on two counts.

So doesn't it make perfect sense that now, after all these years, I should host my own camp with my very own sister?  I may or may not have had visions of myself wearing knee-high socks and sporting a whistle around my neck.   Just like the camp director in Parent Trap!  But, no....I played it cool.

"Camp Ree-Ree" was a hit!  We did almost everything this city has to offer a pair of generation-gapped sisters.  Six Flags, Grant's Farm, the zoo, The Muny, Ted Drew's...the works!  We also watched a lot of Harry Potter and she introduced me to Billy the Exterminator...


Yeah, he's a bit of a strange bird.  But he doesn't kill his catches, which is nice.  Unless they are giant alligators.

It was great having Little Sis here.  She is much cooler than I ever was at ten years old.  She even skateboards!  At one point, she was skateboarding in the living room and I asked if she wanted some music on.  She said she'd like to listen to some heavy metal.  I said, "I have some of that."  Her response: "But you're quiet...And you go to the library.  Why do you have heavy metal music?"  I think I definitely racked up some cool points there.  Good thing I purchased that Big Hair cd in high school...

Cooking Tacos
Child labor with Bil (Bil = "Brother In Law")
Skateboarding in the middle of the street
Petting sting rays at the zoo
We even made matching camp shirts!

My only regret is that Little Sis and I did not do this routine together: 

So, was Camp Ree-Ree a 2012 edition of The Parent Trap?  No.  It was better.  Move over, Hayley Mills!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Francy Pants, in the third person.

Once upon a time...a couple months ago...

...there lived a young midwestern wife who was whisked across the Atlantic Ocean into worlds unknown to her.  It was a land filled with stretchy pants, pointy shoes, cigarettes, and pigeons.  Her inner Dorothy Gale whispered, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."   Inner Dorothy was right.  She was, in fact, in the Land of...Paris.

Paris was a city of:
 Towers made of metal...

Towers made of chocolate...

Angry men made of gold...

Men who thought hard for a really long time in a squatting position...

Angels with cool dance moves...

Dogs who peed without ceasing...

Dogs who ate dinner with you...

Plastic women wearing circular hats and dresses...

Trees in perfectly straight lines...

Old castles...

With tiny secret doors...

Fabulous dancers...

And ham and cheese sandwiches with Cokes for every meal (with a killer Shania Twain soundtrack)!

Needless to say, the young midwestern wife struggled to find her place in this new land.  There were moments of doubt...Would she be able to survive in a world so different from her own?  Surely it was a lost cause when she found herself announcing a celebration of her homeland, "America Day!".  There was McDonalds for lunch!  The Avengers 3-D movie in a theater!  M&Ms in her hands!  And a newfound crush on Captain America!  So what if she did spontaneously erupt in a proud rendition of "God Bless America" on several different occasions?

But wait, dear reader, don't lose faith in her yet.  Just when you think she has been defeated by The Unfamiliar...The Uncomfortable...The Unknown...

She goes and makes a new friend...a Parisian friend.  A professor at the University of Paris who teaches a class on 1930s American culture.  There were long discussions of Jimmy Stewart, old Hollywood, and The Great Depression.  And with a hearty "Sante, Paris!" (French for 'Cheers for Paris!'), she found herself comfortable, confident and content in the strange land.  On her last day there.

The young midwestern wife at last found her Francy Pants, and wore them proudly.  But the best part of her journey across the Atlantic was being there with...

Young Midwestern Husband