Sunday, April 29, 2012

Always Be Prepared

I recieved a call at the beginning of the week - " Hi Nannagramma, would you like to make me a cake for my birthday? I want pink and purple."  Who could resist a request like that?

 I am fully aware of my past mistakes and did my best to mitigate them fully.  I hit the grocery store armed with a list of supplies:

2- Betty Crocker, french vanilla cake mixes
1 dozen eggs (already multiplied since I usually only buy a 1/2 doz)
2lbs butter
2lbs icing sugar
1 bottle carpet cleaner ( be prepared - see last cake debacle)

I started early.  The cake was due for 11am Sunday morning.  I started Friday night after work,  If I have learned anything it is to leave a full extra day in case you have certain "unexpected" incidents causing you to begin again.

I got all the ingredients together to begin baking.  I ran into my first road bump but figured I am nothing if not adaptable.  The instructions said "mix together 3 eggs, 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of vegtable oil".  I only had olive oil.  Olives are a vegtable right?  It all looked alright as I poured the mixture into the cake pans.  After 35 minutes, I opened the oven door to pull out 2 cakes that were about 1/2 inch high.  As I pulled them out, I realized that I needed to get back to the gym and build my arm muscles up again.  I was not expecting the cakes to weigh about 4lbs each.  Turns out olives aren't the right kind of vegtable at all.  Good thing I was prepared.

I started over and this time, I went with my other oil choice - grapeseed oil. Ok, still not vegtable but it is a fruit (isn't it?)  and it was all I had and it is supposed to be good for you.,  The cakes turned out lovely- light and smelled wonderful.  Now, on to the icing.

I found a new butter cream recipe which called for whipping merangue into the butter.  It was wonderful.  It turned out better than I ever thought possible.  I spent Saturday morning decorating the heart shaped cake with pink and purple icing.  I have attached a picture.

I attended Lexi's bowling party this morning along with at 40 other short people wacked out on sugar at 11am on a Sunday.  I was greeted by 6yr old Rae who announced " I just cannot believe that Lex is already 5.  I remember when she was just a baby and she would let me hold her.  Now she is just like a real little person."  Sometimes Rae is a 60 year old woman.

After I finished with the cake Saturday, I went for a walk.  The streets are beautiful right now.  The cherry blossoms are out in full.  The smell is sweet and somehow warming to the soul.  Feels like spring and the renewal is beginning.  I have attached a picture of my street. 

While on my walk, I came across a interesting spectacle.  A man was standing on the corner waiting to cross the street.  He must have been listening to some pretty intense music on his ipod.  He was conducting the orchestra.  His arms were flailing about and he was pointing like he was telling the horn section to 'pick it up'.  I stood and watched him for few minutes and realized this was really no different from me singing aloud to my music only to be told I couldn't carry a tune in my handbag.  Live and let live.

After my walk I decided that since it was such a nice day (relatively speaking), I would hop on my bike and go to the grocery store.  I finished a wee shop, just enough to fit in my backpack without causing me to fall over, and hopped back on my bike.  I had just finished crossing the street and headed towards home when this yaboo decides to pull a u-turn from the curb.  My bike tire clipped his bumper and I went backwards off my bike.  Thankfully, I had my handy dandy helmut on or I would have found myself explaining, once again, the my favorite emergency room doctors that I had indeed fallen down again and this time cracked my skull instead of the favorite rib. 

The idiots defence: " I am so sorry, I didn't see you there." "No shit, wonderbread, you didn't look over your shoulder. How could you not see me? I am a rubenesque woman wearing a bright pink shirt and a pink and white helmut on a giant black bike (I can barely reach the ground when sitting on it). Who the hell taught you how to drive - a 5 year old on a tricylce? If you want to feel better for knocking an old lady to the ground, come a little closer and I will kick you in the family jewels so hard that your father will feel it."

He decided to get back in his car and leave. I hobbled home and had a nap.

Well, getting ready for another big road trip. I know y'all are jealouis of my jet setting nlife style as I head off to Edmonton, Calgary, Regina and Winnipeg. 9 meetings in 5 days. I am then going to take a few days off to locate the part of my brain that I obviously misplaced when I took this job.

Stay tuned. I am starting to feel like my life is one giant Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ahh - the high life

I am back from another road trip.  On the upside, none of my teeth fell out.  On the downside, it snowed.

I am such a jet setter.  This trip was to Calgary and Red Deer, Alberta.  I get to go to all the hot spots.  I know I am the envy of all my friends.  I get to stay in crappy hotels and eat crappy food while running from one location to the next with GPS systems that hate me.

I arrived in Calgary all safe and sound but not before I was stopped at security in Vancouver for the obligatory pat down and evil eye.  I managed to make my way to the plane and board with seconds to spare.  After getting through baggage claim with no damage to my brand new suitcase, I made my way to the rental car counter to see what gift they had waiting for me.  I was not disappointed. 

Renting cars has become a bit of a gamble for me.  And since I am such a gambler, I look forward to seeing what surprise will be waiting for me.  There was the electric car that took me 20 minutes to figure out how to start.  There was the SUV with push button start but no one told me where the button was.  There was the car that came with a key chain that retracted the key after you took it from the ignition and no one told me how to get it back out.  I could go on but you get the gist.  I always allow an extra 30 minutes before booking a meeting just to try to get aquainted with my car.

This time was extra special.  I was "upgraded" to a Town & Country van with built- in GPS.   I was handed a fob with a panic button and 5 buttons to push.  I arrived at the designated slot and lifted the door handle to the already unlocked drivers door.  I loaded my luggage and sank into the rather plush drivers seat.  I looked at the fob and looked for a key or a slot to put the fob in.  I couldn't quite figure this out.  The fob had a big red PANIC button on the end so obviously that was not a key.  But, being a rather bright blonde, I figured that it must be an electric start - there were five buttons to push.  I pushed the first one - nothing.  I pushed the second - nothing.  I pushed the third and felt a breeze and heard yelling.  The rental guy appeared at my door to inform me that I had opened both side doors and the rear door and put on my flashers.  Was I ok?

Was I OK?  This was beginning to feel like the Keystone Cops.   I had a car with a mind of its own.  I could open all the doors and turn on the hazard lights but I could not start the darn thing.  Turns out the panic button was the starter and it was to be inserted into what looked like a cigarette lighter.  With relief and complete instructions, I headed out to find my way to the other side of Calgary.  GPS hates me.  It kept telling me to make a U-turn at my earliest convenience.  Seems there is lots of construction in Calgary.

The rest of the day went mostly smooth and I returned to the hotel to relax and have dinner.  I walked next door to a pizza joint.and ordered some chicken wings.  Now, I am no expert but I thought the definition of burnt was the same no matter what your location.  However, it seems in Alberta, blackened salt and pepper wings are defined as "oven baked" with a flash fry.  What I recieved were little chunks of charcoal and it took some 'splaining to the waitress that chicken wings should not disintegrate in my hand and leave bits of charcoal on my face. 

Tuesdays meeting went well and I headed on to my next destination - Red Deer.  After further arguments with the GPS lady, I finally found the right highway north.  I arrived on time and in one piece after setting the Panic alarm only once. 

After a quiet evening in my room watching Dancing with the Stars and hoping a fight would break out and a nasty sequin incident would require an ambulance, I awoke in a very cold room.  I hustled across the room wrapped in my blanket to turn the heat on and took a peak out the window.  To what my wonderous eyes should behold me?  A blizzard!  April 18 and I am in a blizzard.  I was not happy.  I was dressed for spring.  Oy Vey.  This did not bode well for my morning meeting.  I tend to be cranky when I am cold.  This year I have been cold since September.

A race back to the Calgary airport, return the car and head through security after a successful morning.  This time was a bit of a treat.  Not only did I get the pat down but I also got the x-ray scan followed by another pat down.  I am starting to look forward to the human contact. 

Ah well, I am home and looking forward to seeing my wee grandkids.  Xavier is healing well and will be back playing lacross soon.  Lexi turns 5 next weekend and I forgot my son-in-laws birthday.  This has been a good month so far.

I am off on another hot spot trip for big time successful executive women in 2 weeks - Edmonton, Calgary, Regina and Winnipeg.  I can actually hear the jealousy seeping from your pores.

Stay tuned for more fun and games.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Easter - or was it???

I had it all planned.  I had an easter egg hunt and dinner all planned out.  It was just waiting for the kids to show up to pull it all together.  I had even managed to follow the same theme as my dinner party and include a brand new recipe.

The ham was in the oven and the house smelled wonderful as I waited for the family to arrive.  A little ahead of schedule, the doorbell rang and my holiday began.  The girls looked pretty excited.  Their brother - not so much.  Perhaps he is getting too old for an egg hunt, I thought.

After everyone was settled, the hunt was on.  It was fun.  This year I was determined that the mistakes of the past would not reappear -  where I was finding hidden eggs days, weeks, even months later.  I had the right count and was pretty sure I made sufficient note as to where they were all hidden.  By the end of the hunt when the eggs were all counted, we were once again short three.  Hmm, not sure what happened and as much as I surreptitiously scoured the house, I could not for the life of me find them.  Oh well, at least it was an equal amount and everyone had the same.

Xavier took part in the hunt but you could tell that his heart just wasn't in it.  He had played lacross earlier in the day and had taken a bit of a hit to his tummy which he said was a little sore.

Well, a good dinner should help that.  We sat down to a nice family dinner of ham, scalloped potatoes, salad, corn and the aforementioned new dish - green bean casserole.  I should clarify, we sat down to everything but the green beans.  They took a while longer.  The potatoes were a hit and I was asked for the recipe by the ex-husband who had joined us.  Not a speck of those potatoes were left.  I had to think quickly...what would be a recipe for scalloped potatoes? 

While my brain was busy trying to cover for the fact that I had used a box of ready made potatoes (add milk, butter, water, empty dried potatoes and dried cheese mixture, stir and bake for 35min), we noticed Xavier really didn't look that good and he asked to lay down.  I took him down to my bedroom and turned on a movie and tucked him in.  While there, I quickly scanned a recipe I could pass off as my own.

The green beans were finally done and I brought them to the table.  Hmm, something did not look right.  They looked like a bunch of green sticks floating in a pool of grey goop.  Not sure what happened here but suddenly everyone was politely full.  Rae asked her dad (when she thought I couldn't hear her) "if I say I am full so I don't have to eat the beans, can I still have dessert?"  Fine - no one wants the beans, I should probably at least taste them myself and see if  I can figure out what I did wrong.  I did not get to the point of swallowing.  That is how bad they were.  Still cannot figure out where I went sideways with this dish - mushroom soup, milk, soy sauce, french fried onion rings.   YUCK!!!!!

Well, dinner could still be salvaged by dessert - blueberry pie and ice cream.  No one finished their pie (its still sitting in my fridge).  It was disgusting.  This time I did admit I did not bake it.  The ice cream was good though.

I took Xavier a dish of ice cream - surely that would make him feel better.  He came upstairs and cuddled me on the couch while admitting that most likely he would feel better if he could just puke.  OH MY GOD!!!  I poisoned my grandson.  It was only a matter of time but I really figured it would be an adult first. 

As time passed, nothing seemed to make him feel better.  As tears gently rolled down his beautiful face, he said it really hurt - even to the touch.  Needless to say, this was very much out of the ordinary for him.  Perhaps he got hit harder than we thought during the earlier game?  Time to take him off to Children's hospital which is thankfully, very close to my house. 

With their brother gone, the girls and I settled in to watch Shrek - 1, 2 & 3.  Rae asked that since Xavier wasn't here to eat his easter candy, maybe he would want them to share it for him so it wouldn't go to waste.  Very nice of her to be so considerate.

Well, as it turned out, the wee man had one very angry appendix and it was removed Sunday afternoon.  The girls stayed with me one night and then we went and spent the second night at their home so I could also look after the dogs.

We pulled in to the drive way at about 9pm on Sunday night.  I was hauling all of their stuff out of the car while trying to keep their dogs at bay so they wouldn't run away.  I suddenly heard it - the click.  The click that comes with an electronic door lock.  Standing beside my car was wee little Lexi telling me not to worry, she had my overnight bag and had locked my car door.  While I certainly appreciate the help and the initiative, I felt the lead in my heart as I looked through the window to view my blackberry, my purse and my car keys all still inside. 

Not sure what bothered me more - the fact that my purse would be outside in the car in plain view of any would be thieves or the fact that I no longer had my blackberry with me.  A bead of sweat started to form on my upper lip.

We made it through the night.  Xavier was being released and sent home on Monday.  Amazing  - the surgery is so simple now.  I would get a second set of keys and be on my way to work where I would come up with an excuse to my boss as to why I did not make the 9am conference call or answer any of the other calls to my phone that morning.  I would explain I was there - I was standing outside the car, listening to my phone ring trying to calculate the cost of breaking my window to release the precious piece of technology only to discover, it s easier to ask forgiveness than come up with $500 for a new drivers side window.

So, that was my holiday weekend.  None of it was my fault. Ok, the beans might have been my fault - but nothing else was.  I did not poison my grandson.

Off to Alberta next week.  Will keep ya'll posted.

Friday, April 6, 2012

It's Spring time

And I have been patiently waiting for spring to be sprung.  I feel like I have been cold since October.  I can hardly wait until I can peel off that extra layer of clothes and scrape off the layer (or 12) of hair that keeps me warm in the winter.  It looks like it might be warming up so I am off to Costco to buy a gross of razors to begin the weed wacking.

I have had lots of wee visitors since we last spoke.  I spent one weekend with just the wee girls where we played at the park, watched movies while eating junk food and had "chish and fips" for dinner.  Put a funny name on fish and the kids will eat it - just don't forget the ketchup.  The girls were very pleased that they were the first to sleep on my new red sofa.  They are at a pretty funny (and fun) age right now.  Little Alexis has developed into quite a philosopher.  During dinner, Lexi explained to me that while she is looking forward to starting school in September, she is concerned for her mother.  Lex is worried that her mom will be lonely and bored without kids around.  When I explained that her mother is ready to go back to work with all the kids in school, she paused, mid-fork to mouth and, looking very serious, stated "Yes, but we won't always be there to help her.  She will be lonely if she has no one to play with."  Her sister then jumped in with "but she will be busy selling lots of houses so we will be rich and buy whatever we want."  "well, that's true, "said her sister.

On the way home to "the parents" (as Rae calls them in the collective), Lexi pointed out that she hadn't seen Uncle Kris all weekend.  He was busy I told her and her response was to look up at me with those liquid brown eyes and ask "but you told him I was coming right?  He knew I was here?"  Confusion filled her face at the thought that Uncle Kris would be anywhere other than waiting anxiously for her to appear.

The following weekend I had all three kids.  Again, we played at the park, went for a walk, had junk food while watching a movie and we decorated quite possibly the very worst cookies ever known to mankind.  I know what you are thinking, but you would be wrong.  I DID NOT bake them.  We bought a kit of cookies for Easter. The youngest proudly presented one of her masterpieces to Uncle Kris.  Bold, brave, U.Kris.  After the kids left he let it be known that he would rather eat my cookies over those disgusting things any time.   Even my black bottom, missing baking soda but with added salt, cookies.  That's how bad they were.  The kids loved them.

After returning the brood to their father on Saturday afternoon, I came home to get ready for a charity event that evening.  I showered, put on copious amounts of make-up and perfume, did my hair and was ready to go.  It was a really nice evening and I met a bunch of new people - including a recently divorced man of the right age and temperment.  I tried my best.  Even going so far as to disappear into the ladies room to communicate with an aunt via messenger on how best to handle the situation.  He might have thought I had a bladder infection with the number of times I did this (as she so kindly pointed out).  I needed help with the flirting in person rather than via the internet or email.  Turns out if you put copious amounts of mascara on, winking at someone is out of the question.  I did manage to have a couple of private conversations with this man and wasn't, at least I don't think so, too bad.  I tossed my hair, balanced on one foot, sipped my drink seductively (ok, perhaps not seductively but I didn't snort it back) and laughed at his witty reparte'.  I was thinking that perhaps I was doing ok and had landed a live one until he mentioned children.  Everyone has children so no problem right?  Turns out this 56 year old man has 3 daughters aged...... wait for it......... 11, 13 and 14.  I felt my knees buckle.  His youngest is only 1 1/2 years older than my grandson.  He hasn't even gone through those dreaded teenage daughter years yet (never happened to me but I hear stories - mine were perfect :) ).  I wasn't exactly sure how I felt about this.  I felt ringing in my ears and for some reason I had to sit down.  I went back to my seat and he to his.  I promptly forgot his name (seriously - cannot even come close to recalling it now).

Perhaps my family is correct.  I am either too picky or too hard on these men (not the alcoholic gun collector, the spy or the druggie) but perhaps what otherwise might be normal, nice men who have little tweeks that I should just overlook or get used to.  After all, I am not exactly a prized catch either.  I understand that I have flaws and things that need to be tweeked as well.  Perhaps I will re-think this and get back to you.

I have added a couple of pics that my friend took.  I was trying to wink in the second one.  You can see the results.

By the way, in case I forgot to email you with my begging request, I have attached my link to my wierd little video for the 24 hour easter seal relay.  

Stay tuned for more.  I am having the kids over for Easter dinner  and a wee egg hunt tomorrow.  I can do baked ham without too much trouble.  Only once, while cooking ham, has my smoke alarm gone off.  I am pretty confident.  I am however, trying one new dish.  I have pie and ice cream on hand just in case that one doesn't work though. 

Happy Easter!