Sunday, January 1, 2012

Week 52 in Photos

I did it! I made it through the entire year with this project and I'm so proud of myself. OK, I should point out that I did screw something up somewhere and this morning I realized that I only have 364 pictures rather than 365. Uuuuugh! Karlo tried to convince me that it must be leap year, but my silly little alien was obviously misinformed because that would give me one extra photo, not one less. So I'm forced to cheat and post my first photo from this year's project as my last photo from 2011. Someday I'll get over the fact that it's not perfect. sigh

I just love our little homemade Charlie Brown tree. I wish it could last forever.

A whole week of cashmere socks. My feet will be in Heaven.

Karlo has been busy. Because the 6 cords of wood he recently split and stacked weren't enough, he decided to take 3 more trees down today.

My big shopping day. Here's Tina trying on hats in our new favorite store.

The amazing cookie basket that Penni made. I had to immortalize it so now, like the tree, they will last forever.

What a treat. We haven't had chestnuts in years. This might have been my favorite part of our New Years Eve meal.

And my cheater picture to get 365 pics. This was taken after midnight for my first shot of 2012. Shhhhh, don't tell. I drank this at midnight rather than icky champagne.

And that completes my first Project 365 (or in my case 364). I had a ball with this project and I look forward to another photo challenge in 2012. Be sure to bookmark my new blog location to continue following me, my photos, and my ridiculous life.

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Changes for the New Year

Well, it's that time again. Time to reflect on the past year and look toward the new year with a refreshed outlook, and hopes of making positive changes. Thinking back to last year at this time, I remember that I resolved to focus on "simplicity." That was supposed to be my theme for the year. I think I failed miserably. It was just a challenging year on so many levels that simplifying was just not possible. But this year brings new hope. It's a fresh clean start and I feel as though I have a blank canvas and can pick any theme I want. Part of me wants to revert back to the theme I used two years ago (FUN). I somehow managed to accomplish that one and it felt good at the end of the year, knowing that I made an effort and I was successful. I guess I better choose my theme carefully this time so I have a chance at accomplishing it. So what's it gonna be?

I'm not sure I should try the whole "simplify" thing again. This will be the first year trying to manage my father's house and I dread that on so many levels. I just don't see how adding this to my life can help me simplify it so I need to pick something else. It's so hard . . . to pick just one word to sum up a resolution. Oh, but wait a minute . . . that just gave me an idea for next year's photo project. I think I will continue my "Photo of the Day," but instead of capturing the one thing that I want to remember from the day I will capture something (anything) that I can describe in just one word. No more long winded captions, just one word.

Now that I decided on my photo project for next year, well, that's all that really matters. I will continue to ponder my resolution theme for the year and see what comes up.

Another big change for 2012 will be the discontinuation of this blog. OK, let me rephrase that. I am no longer going to be posting to this exact "Paula's Brain" page. I will, however, be moving my blog to my new web site The new blog can be found here: and I will start to populate it next week.

Oh, and here's Karlo's New Years resolution . . .

He is resolving to clean the hounds' nasty teeth in hopes of destinking them. Hmmmm, maybe 'destinking' can be my word for the year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Shopping With Friends

That picture is the result of me shopping with Karlo, Penni, and Tina yesterday. It was quite and exciting day. After not leaving the house for several days on end it was hard to adjust to the hustle and bustle of civilization, but it sure was a fun day. I left the house shortly after 11 with a long and precise agenda. I had a lot of errands to tick off my list in between meeting up with my buddies. My first meeting was with Karlo (who, unfortunately had to go back to work). We met at the office and had a nice lunch together. There is no shortage of free great food hanging around the office between the holidays so we scored a yummy meal. From there Karlo and I went to the motorcycle store to return/exchange several of our gifts to each other. OK so there's no doubt which part of my new outfit Karlo can take credit for!

Next I had to run to Kohls to try to solve that coat disaster that I blogged about last week. This story deserves a blog posting all to itself and I'm not even sure I can conjure up the appropriate words (adjectives) to describe that entire ridiculous scene. Let's just say that I wasted THIRTY MINUTES of my life in what felt like a root canal. I don't think I ever witnessed anything more up surd on a consumer level. Thank GOD for my meditation because I kept my cool and didn't kill anybody. I can not wait to see if the proper coat ever arrives after all that.

Kohls made me late for my date with Penni, John, and Nicole. Well, that and the fact that I had no idea that DSW moved it's store location in Manchester. I was already late, driving like an idiot, and imagine my surprise when I pulled into what used to be their parking lot only to find the store gone. Penni and I had to meet to exchange a number of important items, the most important one being the AMAZING array of Christmas cookies that she spent a week baking and then forgot to bring to Christmas dinner. Check this out:

And now I'm sitting alone in the house with these cookies just begging to be eaten . . .

I was on a mission yesterday to find a pair of black suede wedge heel tall boots. I don't know why I suddenly decided that I needed a pair, but I knew I wasn't going home without them. I tried on every pair on display at DSW and totally struck out on every account. The boots either didn't fit, didn't come in my preferred size and color combination, or I just plain didn't like them. I finally gave up and resolved that I was not getting my boots. Then Nicole appears with a pair of boots on begging her Mom to buy them for her. She pleaded that the boots came from the clearance section and were a good deal. Clearance section??? I didn't know there was such a thing. I only had 5 minutes to spare before I needed to leave to meet Tina, but I ran back to check it out. In the first 45 seconds Penni pulls out the fabulous black boots that I'm wearing in the picture above and I instantly fell in love with them. Everything about them was perfect. Penni was my hero of the day. I didn't even think twice, grabbed them and ran to the check out.

Then I met Tina at the Evergreen Walk. I have been dying to take T to that jewelry and accessory store that Lisa introduced me to and of course, she loved it. I told her that she had to pick out something for me and we couldn't leave until she did. She didn't let me down and picked out the purple sweater and jewelry to match. Another total score. We had a grand ole time shopping in all the stores . . . until Karlo crashed our girl party ;-) He met us at Evergreen and we all went to dinner together. I had a great time. What a fantastic day. I really should leave the house more often!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Video 2011

Biscotti Disaster

I have no idea whatever possessed me to decide to bake biscotti from scratch. One night I was flipping through a magazine and found a recipe for pistachio cranberry biscotti. The picture looked so good and after reading the ingredients and directions I thought, "That doesn't sound too hard." I figured that if I could find the dried cranberries and the shelled pistachios in the grocery store, with very little effort, then I would give it a go. Of course, I truly thought I would have trouble locating the items and therefore would give up on the idea quickly and NOT have to actually do the baking. But to my surprise I found the darn ingredients with no trouble.

So off I went on my baking adventure. And an adventure it was.

The first thing I had to do was beat, blend, or mix . . . I'm not quite sure what the difference is between those terms, and as Penni pointed out, that may be my first problem. But non-the-less, I threw the sugar, baking powder, and whatever other dry ingredients into my mixing bowl along with the 2 eggs the recipe called for. I turned on my trusty little electric mixer and all the ingredients proceeded to bunch up into one huge ball of mess, wrapped around the mixer do-hickies. Now what? How the heck will I get it off? Uuuuugh. I tried the trick of slowly lifting the beater up and managed to get most of the sticky mess off the beater things without having too much fly around the kitchen.

Now I'm left with a big slop of super sticky, not quite mixed dough and another pile of dry ingredients that I can't get to mix into the wet slop. Did I mention that I only really have one hand to work with (my left one no less) due to the stupid sores on my right hand?


So I try like crazy to mix this cement with my left hand, but it just doesn't work. I'm forced to break the recipe (God forbid I don't go by the book) and crack another egg in to give it more stick.

By (left) hand, I manage to get all the ingredients wet and sticky and then I threw in the nuts and berries. OK, maybe I'm back on track. Next step was to transfer the sticky mess to a "prepared work surface" and form into two logs. Unsure of what I was supposed to do to 'prepare' my work surface because NOTHING could have prepared me for what I was about to face. I threw some flour all over my immaculately clean counter (and that hurt, let me tell you). I tried to grab the sticky mess with my one good hand and that quickly went nowhere. I was forced to use my preciously tender and un-bandaged right hand and now I was stuck. The slop was impossible to move or work with. I ended up with literally half of it stuck to me with no idea how to get it off of my hands. I wanted to cry.

Two logs? The recipe HAD to be kidding. I tried to just grab everything off the counter and put it onto the freezer paper-lined cookie sheet. What the point was of first putting the slop on the counter just baffles me. I'm not even sure how I managed to get any of the stupid slop from the counter and onto the cookie sheet, but I did it. It wasn't pretty, but I did it.

I would say at least 25% of the batter was still stuck to my hands and you should have seen me trying to get if off my poor painful right hand. What an ordeal that was. Then I had to turn around and figure out how to remove the cement from the counter.

At this point I figured I had to just give it a go and bake the darn thing. I got this far and no matter how bad they came out, I was eating them. Dammit! So in the oven they went . . .

They came out not so bad. The recipe said it would yield 30 cookies and I only got 10, but that was understandable considering how much batter went down the drain. To remedy the problem I cut them all in half.

And after all that work, nobody tried a single one on Christmas day. I weeped.

The next day Karlo decided to try one out. He asked if "they were meant to be dunked into coffee" and I said yes, but mine weren't like real biscotti and they weren't that hard and crunchy. So he proceeded to DUNK ONE INTO HIS COKE. I threw my arms up in complete disgust. Who dunks biscotti into Coke???? What a waste of all my effort. NEVER again. I got up and pitched the recipe into the wood stove. There will be no further urges in the future.

The Christmas Greyhounds 2011