Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Favorite Game

Monday, December 29, 2008

Home Sweet Home

As a child, I wondered how I could ever leave home. As I got older and had my first apartment, I wondered if I would ever feel like my childhood home wasn't home anymore. As I visited my parents at their house (the same one I grew up in for 19 years), I finally realized over 4 days that I missed my house. I really do love being at my home. I love the same things I see every day. The things I own. The things I put in their place. It's comfortable. For this blog, I thought I'd share a few of the things I love about our home. Things. Sights. Places.

I always feel at home in a kitchen. While my kitchen is small, it is functional. And I appreciate the window that helps to light up the yellow paint on our walls.
My first decoration when we moved in was old spoons from Goodwill. Very kitcheny, I think.
My workstation. My sewing machine. Ahh, creativity in such a small space. It's wonderful.

Meet Edward. I am attached to him. Not quite sure what he is. A mix between a Dodo bird and a muppet, perhaps. He's a hand carved souvenir from a free trade shop in Wisconsin.

Last but not least... I love any place our pugs cuddle up. So cute. It never gets old. When the pugs are curled up, you know it's a peaceful place.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Highlights

What a great Christmas! I hope everyone else can say the same. This Christmas was unlike any other! I got great presents, spent some quality time with family, and ended up buying a car! Here are some highlights in pictures.
While all of my presents were awesome, this little gem was my favorite. Guess what they are. Pugs, yes. Porcelain trinkets, perhaps. But they have a function far greater than sitting on a shelf. Any guesses? SALT AND PEPPER SHAKERS! How awesome is that? Oh... I'm so going to be the old lady who collects every little pug thing possible. And these will be among the collection.
Here's another of my Christmas presents. This one is as thoughtful as it is beautiful. It's a beaded clutch purse handmade by women in Hanoi. There is a company called Global Girlfriend that promotes fair trade and helps give women in poverty a way to earn an honest living.

And then we bought this. A 2005 Chevy Equinox. We only just started looking at cars that we were interested in after my little car started having some troubles. Randy and I decided that we needed something bigger... for our family now (two pugs) and whatever may come years down the road (more dogs... or a child???). So, when we went home for Christmas, we agreed that we would just look and perhaps test drive a few things.... you know, just to get a feel of what we would like. Then Randy got obsessive about looking for a good deal. One thing led to another. And we have a great car. It was a deal we couldn't pass up, and I'm absolutely in love with it. So glad it's mine.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Done and Done

It's no lie that a homeowner always has projects to complete around the house (especially when that house was built in the 40's). But with a busy school schedule, I hardly had time to sit down and complete any project after dinner was cooked, lesson plans were made, and pugs were fed and well played with. However, I've been off for a few days now, and so project time has come!

House Problem #1: Our side door is quite drafty. Randy put weather striping around the door, but the bottom is still quite airy.
Project Solution: A door draft stopper. Fun and easy to make.

Sand-filled fabric bag... wrapped in tape to prevent sand explosion disasters in the hallway

Wha la! The finished product.

House Problem #2: I'm not a jewelry person. But I've really been trying harder to accessorize my outfits to look more professional. I've been getting more earrings and long necklaces, but the space in my little jewerly box is limited.

Project Solution #2: My grandmother had old wooden shutters laying around. I figured they would be the perfect tool to keep my jewelry in a place where I'd be inspired to acutally wear them.

Untwisted paperclips help to hand the necklaces.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Card in the Theme of My Mother-in-Law

* Before I begin, anyone who does not know my mother-in-law may not understand my blog. She is a nice, God-fearing woman. She is also an obesely overweight diabetic who eats more sweets in a setting than I would in a week. She's loud and imparts her viewpoints without a hesitation. And her highlighted personality trait is that nothing.... absolutely nothing is a secret. Straight-forward and succinct, she will tell you ALL about her health problems ranging from a kidney stone caught in her urethra (yes, that made this year's Christmas card!) to her arteries like a 20 year-old due to a heart cath (that made last year's Christmas card). So, in honor of my dear mother-in-law... my Christmas card in the theme of my mother-in-law (with similiar grammatical errors, as she would have written them). Without further ado...

Greetings one and all! We hope you are well and looking forward to the holidays! It's been cold and icy here, so Randy and I usually stay home on days like this. Although, I stay home all the time because I don't have a job.
This year, I'm still in school. Seems like I've been in school forever, doesn't it? I know Randy thinks I'm worthless since I can't help our financial situation. Sometimes I don't think this degree will be worth it. I saw what I'd be making in schools down here, and $37,600 a year just doesn't seem like very much for a master's degree. As for my health, I've been doing okay. I don't have any health insurance because it's too expensive to put me on Randy's plan. And because I don't have a job, I can't afford any.
As for Randy, he quit Farmers. He hated it so much. He couldn't stand to be there one more second. So, he's a claims adjuster for an auto body shop in Missouri. He likes it, although he took a $5,000 pay cut. Randy's also been in a band. He is the MC and lead singer. They call themselves the Mississippi Mud Ducks... sounds like a country band doesn't it? It's anything but! They play all sorts of rock music. I was hoping they played Christian songs, but they play ACDC and other rock music like that. I've heard them play and they are good. I don't say that because I'm prejudice. I've heard it from other people too! Randy is thinking about going back to get his Masters in Teaching. I hope he does it, but it would put us more in debt.
Sophie and Henry are still alive and kicking. Although, Sophie's had a lot of health problems lately. She's had two ulcers in her eye which are just like cuts in her eye. We have to hold her down to put eye salve in one or two times a day. She fights us every time. She also had issues with her bowel movements. Sometimes we have to take her into the vet, so the vet can clear her anal juices. Henry is doing fine. He sits at home and lays around most of the day. The only good thing about it is he is quiet. He doesn't snore like Sophie does. And he doesn't have the medical problems like Sophie does.
All of us sincerely hope you and yours have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a Joyous and Prosperous 2009.

Jenna & Randy, Sophie & Henry

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bah humbug

Christmas is creeping up on us. I can't believe it's only a few days away. And while I felt the Christmas spirit early on (more around Thanksgiving), the previous feeling has since died. I want to be in the Christmasy mood. But it's been kinda hard.

First, my car has a brake problem. For some reason, my emergency brake is sticking ever so slightly, and so my car will drive sluggishly and won't move forward or backward when my foot is off the gas or brake pedal. It's not a big deal. I'm sure it won't take much to fix it. It doesn't sound very expensive, but for some reason, it's really bumming me out. I hate having car issues when in three days, I'm driving it 4 hours north to my parents' house. Nothing worse than car troubles around the holidays.

Second, the weather here sucks. When I say this, I don't mean that it's a blizzard outside, and the roads are bad. I mean... it's December, and there's no snow on the ground, no flakes in the air, no hint of Christmas at all. It's grey. It's FREEZING. And it rains. And then freezes to become an icy abyss. But not Christmasy in the least. It's really difficult to get in the spirit when all I see is dead, brown grass. Alton must be in some weather bubble. You know it's bad when Arizona and Las Vegas get snow... and southern Illinois doesn't. So, I'm hoping when we travel up north to the Chicagoland area, I get a dose of Christmasy goodness when I see the 5 inches of snow on the ground that my parents continue to talk about. Ahh.. perhaps I will have a white Christmas... even if I have to travel 4 hours to get it.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! (sorry, I don't mean to be a downer)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Baking Bonanza!

I love baking. I have a toolbox of baking and decorating equiptment. Usually, I have no problem getting motivated to pop out a few dozen cookies for whatever event (or non-event) is coming up. For some reason, I've been putting off baking Christmas cookies. Perhaps because if they were laying around the house, all of them would find my mouth, eventually.

But time is up. Randy's family is having their Christmas tomorrow, so the baking had to be done today. And you know what... now that I'm back to baking, it feels good. I think I might just whip up some fudge for Randy's co-workers. Yep. It's gonna happen. I'm back on top of my game.

Sophie conveniently locates herself in the kitchen and dining area to increase the chances that some Christmas goodies will make it into her mouth. Lately, she's been getting braver about getting up on chairs and inching closer to her yummy targets.

Wha la! The cookies for tomorrow. Fudge is on its way.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Crafting Goodness

Crafting comes in spurts for me. There are times I get so impatient and can't stand how much time it takes to make something cute. But then, other times, like right now, I get into creativity mode and can't stop making things. Usually, it comes in the form of sewing. But today, it came in the form of paper.

May I present: Pooch Greeting Cards. They are cartoons of my pugs, Sophie and Henry. I love them. They are for sale at While I LOVE the pug ones, they are customizable to any pooch and breed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Very Deserving.

It's not news that Randy and I aren't rich. Not even close. With only one income, we have become very creative at penny pinching (which comes more naturally to me than to some.. *ah hem ... Randy). But it's that time of year. The season of giving.

When, in my family, presents are a big thing, I've cut back spending by making people at least one gift. But there's one thing I didn't want to scrimp on. Every year, Randy and I give to a charity that is close to our hearts. For the past couple of years, we've been giving to a pug rescue shelter... the one from which we adopted Henry. We know the people there. They are all volunteers. 100% of the money donated goes straight to vet bills, food, medicine, etc. for the puggers. So, again, they'll be getting our donation.

My point: think about giving to the charity of your choice for Christmas. Check it out... see exactly where your money goes. When you know who exactly is benefitting from the help, it really does help motivate you to pull out the wallet or write that check.

Don't have a charity to support? Check out ours... they'll always take whatever you can give.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Sweet Recipe

In my last post, I wrote about my adventures to the Quad Cities, but I failed to mention one worthwhile discovery: my forever friend's mom's homemade poppy seed salad dressing. It was sweet and delicious, and actually made me want to eat more salad (so you know it's gotta be good!). So, I asked for the recipe and have included it at the bottom.

This is how it turned out. Note the cute dollar-store glass bottle shaped like a bee hive. It makes me smile, since one of the dressing's main ingredients is honey. How sweet.

Poppy Seed Dressing

1/3 cup honey

2 tbl. cider vinegar

1 tbl. yellow mustard

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 c. salad oil (I used canola...)

2 tsp. poppy seeds

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Weekend Roadtrip

I'm back... as promised! With updates on the girls' weekend. Springfield to the Quad Cities to Chicago and back again was definitely a lot of driving, but I had an awesome time with my forever friend. Here are some highlights.

We started early on Saturday by loading onto the charter bus full of church women. Here's a question: What do you get when you combine church ladies and a three-hour bus ride? GAMES! Oh, there were games. Here is how I feel about games, in general.

So the games began. First game... a singing game. Second game, a competitive game. Neither Mandi or I won... Mandi took it pretty badly.

But don't feel badly for her. By the third game, she ended up beating me by one in an all-out battle to see who had the most pennies.

Then, three hours later, we made it. Chicago. Cold. Busy. Fun. Just us girls (Mandi, her mom, and me). Here are a few highlights of the windy city all dressed up for Christmas.

Our long day ended by 10pm. We were all cold and tired. And the whole experience just confirmed my feelings that Chicago is a great place to visit, not to live. All in all... it was a success. Thanks to my forever friend for inviting me along (and thanks to her sister for letting me go in her place). They have a great family, and it was a pleasure to be a part of it for the weekend!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Weekend Getaway

I've never had many girlfriends. Hardly ever have a "girls night out." I've never really minded all that much. Friends are friends, and that's good enough for me. But, I must say, I'm excited for a weekend getaway with my forever friend.

She invited me on a whirlwind road trip. Our schedule includes the Quad Cities, where her parents live. From there, we'll take a charter bus (full of older church ladies... awesome!) to Chicago to do shopping... or window shopping for us poor people. Then, back to the Quad Cities for a short stay. On Sunday, we'll head back home, stopping in Peoria to meet up with my forever friend's sister. In any case, it'll be an adventure. And will probably prompt a fun blog entry upon my return.