Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday 13: TV shows I watch

Last night, David successfully hooked up our AFN decoder, satellite, etc. I got hooked on AFN back in 2003 when I was a live-in nanny for a military family in Italy. (That's also where I got hooked on David!) AFN is the Armed Forces Network, and it gives us access to good ol' American tv when we're stationed overseas. There aren't a whole lot of choices as far as channels go, and two of the channels play the same shows on a different time shift (for those stationed in the "Atlantic", like me, and for those stationed in the Pacific, like I used to be). I actually think that there's another channel that plays the same shows on a third shift for those in the desert, but I've never had that channel (until now?) Some of the shows air on a big delay (like shows that take a "season break" might not start until after that long break), and some of the shows (like American Idol and SURVIVOR!!!!) air just one day late. On base, it's pretty much all set up and ready to go, but when you live off base, there's a little more work involved. We had to buy our own cable box (I think we rented it as part of our cable bill at Kadena?? Not sure.) and an antenna and a new cable to lead from the house to the antenna (??). Luckily, David knows way more than the average bear about all of this, so he was able to get it all set up and all I had to do was watch the television for the satellite signal and shout out the window like a crazy person "ZERO! 68! 71! ZERO! 86!" until it was all set. So, now I get to watch my AFN again! I love the "commercials"--they can't play actual advertising commercials so it's lots of PSAs about gambling, PCSing (military moves), historical info about people & places, etc. And, I'm excited to be able to watch some of my favorite shows again...we have British tv, and they play a LOT of American shows on some of the channels (Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother, 90210, Glee, True Blood, Without a Trace, Two and a Half Men, etc.) and I've found a few British shows to love (Countdown!! My fave!) but I'm so excited to be reunited with AFN... here are 13 shows I'm  happy to have the chance to watch on AFN:

1. Jeopardy--based on my reaction when I realized I'd be able to watch Jeopardy again, one would think I had won the lottery!
2. Oprah
3. Amazing Race
4. American Idol (this is on British TV, and we'll probably continue watching it there since we can record it and watch it at our convenience)
5. Survivor
6. 60 Minutes (although I usually download this audio podcast and listen while I make dinner, do dishes, etc.)
7. Wheel of Fortune
8. Top Chef
9. 20/20
10. Good Morning America (which I will probably never watch, because it's on at 10pm & 4am!)
11. Design on a Dime
12. Misc. Food Network shows
13. The Suze Orman Show

Now, I definitely won't get to all of these... I've gotten used to my Sky+ box and being able to record, watch later & fast forward through commercials!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Around the Town Tuesday: Parks

 Remember what we're doing on Tuesdays?

Last week, I gave you a little information about the town I currently live in, Thetford. (click that if you missed it) For those just now stopping by, I'm a military wife, so I get the privilege of moving somewhere new every 3 or 4 years. (Until it's actually time to move every 3 or 4 years, then it's viewed as more of a hassle than a privilege!) So, I'm  thankful for the Around Your Town blog hop for giving me some motivation to get out and learn a little more about my surroundings!  We LOVE it here, but as we learned when it was time to leave Okinawa last January, our time here will be over before we know it and we won't have seen and done half the things we want to!

This week's theme is "parks". So... let's get to it........

Are you ready for a quick tour of the Ancient Capital of East Anglia?

First, we need to hit the road and leave the subdivision... after we cross Castle Street, we'll pass by a stone bridge and a nice little picnic spot, and take a quick look at Melford Common, where you can walk your dog or play "football."

Now, let's take a look right across the street at the big green blob portion of that map:
(I decided to put my pictures for this week in "storyboards" because I had SO many, and "save-for-web-ing" and uploading to blogger gets too tedious)
This is Castle Hill, and it's less than 1/2 mile away from my house, along the route to the town centre. The top left photo was taken while we ate lunch outside at the Dolphin pub on Sunday! The hill is about 81 feet high, 1000 feet around the base, and is the "tallest medieval earthwork in England". Today, kids & grown-ups like to climb the hill (I haven't tried it yet!) and the playground is always packed on nice days!

On Sunday, we took the short-cut out of the neighborhood and took a walk down the paths behind our house:
This is part of the Nunnery Lakes Nature Reserve and besides geese, you'll find silly little deer called muntjacks, bunnies, pheasants, and people walking their dogs. (That's NOT our house in the background. :)  It's Ford Place, the nursing home, and you'll see just a little more of that in a minute.) There are nice paths, benches and a few little footbridges.

If you get on the correct path, you end up really close to Thetford's Forgotten Garden:
The garden had been forgotten for 30 years and now "friends of the garden" have fixed it up. I can't wait to go back later in the summer when there's more in bloom! The garden is "through the gate in the wall" behind the Ford Place (the pretty back stairs of the Ford Place are in the bottom right photo.)  It's a "secret garden", surrounded by these great old stone & flint walls. We've got another hidden garden in town... I haven't tried to find it yet though.

From here, we headed back the way we came, but passed the path back to our house in favor of the Nuns' Bridges:
The Nuns' Bridges are old & neat looking, but a little nerve-wracking to walk or drive across (they're one lane). This is the place where Thetford's two rivers, the Thet and the Little Ouse meet. The bottom left picture is looking down the path toward the town centre, and at the Gentle Meadow...another "park". They are called the Nuns' Bridges because they used to lead to the Benedictine Nunnery of St. George. It's also said to be where the Icknield Way, one of the oldest roads in Britain, passed.... the Iceni tribe (I mentioned their warrior queen last time) may have used this route, as well as Romans as far back as 43 AD.

A quick stop at the Nunnery Arch:
And our last stop before heading home (on a different wooded path...we love where we live!):
The BTO, or British Trust for Ornithology (wildlife) has its headquarters in Thetford. The ruins are what remains from the 12th century Nunnery. This is where Queen Elizabeth I came to eat dinner in 1578! 
Now, it's a great place to take a walk, sit on a bench, see a few cats, pheasants, and other birds.

And that wraps up our tour of some of my favorite Thetford parks!
Click here to check out some of the other towns on the blog hop!

Monday, April 12, 2010

12 of 12: The Beautiful Day

I think I've played along every month so far this year... making a point to do so since Chad has decided this would be his last year hosting.
Next month, I WILL take 12 photos on the 12th.....and they should be exciting and/or beautiful! But I won't be able to post them until later in the week.

But for this month...not so exciting, but still a gorgeous day in Thetford!

1. My living room, 0900:
Double-checking yesterday's 10k race results. My official "chip time" was 53:28 and I was 389th out of 987.

2. My living room, 1215
I spent nearly 3 hours on the phone with my friend Jess (we both love to talk!) and while I was on the phone, I occupied myself dismantling Saturday's baby shower.

3. Melford Terrace, Thetford 1604
I finally made it out of the house to enjoy the beautiful day...sunny and not too cold! I walked to Aldi to pick up some groceries for tonight's dinner. I love running/walking up the Melford Terrace hill because, even though all of the houses look alike, there are a lot of neat house number signs.

I ended up taking 47 pictures today, quite a few outside in town... I'm going to save them for another "Around the Town Tuesday" post next week! 

4. Magdalen Street, Thetford, 1608
Somehow, I had never noticed that this pink house is a bed & breakfast. Lately, I've entertained the thought of one day having a bed and breakfast. And a Christmas tree farm.

5. Jolleyes (?) Pet Supply Store, Thetford, 1616
Before I crossed the parking lot to Aldi, I stopped in the pet supply store for the first time ever. It definitely smells like a pet store. I was hunting for duck food, even though my ducks haven't been around in a while... I think they might be tending to their ducklings???? Anyway, I was reading the notice board and these 2 caught my eye. The yellow one is for the Cinnamon Trust which is a group of volunteers that help elderly pet owners walk their dogs, tend to their cats, drive to vet appointments, etc. Between my new tutoring "business", spouses' group, and Girl Scouts volunteering, my schedule is filling up...but I might be able to squeeze just one more thing in if they're looking for volunteers!  The white paper is something I'm trying to convince David to let me do (since I won't be able to convince him to let me get a dog). The Breckland Cat Protection Society is looking for foster families for cats. The cats stay out in the garden in "cat cabins" and they provide the food and litter. Foster parents just need to take care of the cats and spend a little time with them each day. I have a plan that just might get David on board with this!

 6. Lime Kiln Lane, Thetford 1637
After browsing around Aldi and finding just about everything I needed (and satisfactory substitutes for the stuff they didn't have) I headed back home. Right around the corner from Aldi, I saw this banner and it reminded me of when I lived in Italy and when families had new babies they'd put beautiful pink or blue ribbons on their doors. This one was a "Birthday Girl" banner and not quite as beautiful, but I still wanted a picture.

7. Castle Street, Thetford 1648
Almost home!  By this point, with 2 jars of tomato sauce, one can of tomatoes, a box of juice, 2 containers of "soft cheese" and a bag of frozen veg in my carrier bag, I was really wishing that I a bag on wheels to push my shopping around in. I think they might really be for little old ladies, but I'm little and I'm a lady, so I think 2 out of 3 should qualify me for bag-on-wheels status!

8. Driveway, 1658
When I turned the corner, I was a little bit surprised to see David's car in the driveway already! And even more surprised to see him wearing his golfing clothes instead of his uniform when I walked in the house! (And a little bit ashamed that it took me 10 minutes to walk the quarter-mile in between the last picture and the house!)

9. Music/Half-Laundry room (the dryer is in here, but the washer is in the kitchen!) 1853
I love that it's so light out at 10 til 7! Watering my tomatoes, basil, thyme and cilantro. The cilantro is really getting out of hand... I wonder if I should be harvesting the leaves now? Each plant only has a few leaves, but a few of them seem to not be strong enough to handle the top-heaviness. Also wondering if I should sow more seeds in the same planter or if the roots will be competing with each other???

 10. Kitchen, 1941
David is such a sweetie and such a good helper! He washed "all of the dishes from the baby shower" (he doesn't know that I had stashed quite a few dirties in the dishwasher--it doesn't really wash dishes well so it is a drying rack and a place to hide dirty dishes when company comes over and I don't have time to wash them!) Then he helped me out by dipping pretzels in the last of the white chocolate while I got dinner ready.

11. Kitchen, 1941
So the problem with it being lighter later is that I totally don't realize it's time to make dinner! We ate really late tonight! Tonight's dinner was "lasagna rolls with herbed cheese" and it will be dinner for the family with the sick little girl tomorrow night. It was pretty tasty even though I had to herb the cheese myself since Aldi didn't have what I was looking for. The family (and the guy who delivers meals to them) will also get a few chocolate dipped pretzels.

12. Living room, 2225
For someone who mandated that there be "no pink" in our home before we got married, he sure does love this pink blanket that my cousin & little cousin made for me! David fell asleep while we were watching Vampire Diaries and is still curled up here on the couch right now. I'm either going to have to carry him up the stairs or wake him up after I get this bets are on waking him up! :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Totally Rocked the Baby Shower!

    (you may have seen some of these photos already in an older post... there are new pictures in here too!)

When I learned that my friend Jaclyn was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to be the one to throw her shower. Not because she is my best friend (I had only known her for a month or 2 before she announced her pregnancy), but because 1-she just moved here and if  I were having a baby and had just moved to a new place, I would be a little bummed that I wouldn't get a great shower and 2- I knew that if anyone else offered, their shower wouldn't be as good as mine.
Jaclyn & her husband have lots of tattoos and wear a lot of Ed Hardy-esque fashions. As I was researching & thinking of possible baby shower themes, I knew this one would be PERfect! And I wasn't sure that anyone else of child-bearing age in my social circle would be as likely to like this theme...
I asked Jaclyn & Jason what they would think of a "Rock the Cradle"/"Babies Rock"/"ROCK-abye Baby"/Rock Star themed shower and they were VERY receptive. So I totally ran with it!

The original invitation (top) was designed on photoshop elements using some digital scrapbook supplies. I recolored the guitars since the originals were pink and blue. After much thought, I decided (even though we knew Jaclyn would be having a boy) to go with the "gender neutral" color scheme of black, silver and red instead of black, silver and hot pink or black, silver and electric blue. My reasoning behind this was 1---I could get started collecting & making stuff before they found out the gender and 2---I would be able to re-use red stuff for other decorating & party purposes (Twilight, Oscars, Christmas, Valentines, etc.) And as a bonus, I found lots of red stuff at Christmas time.
The baby was originally scheduled for March 20, so his shower was set for January 31. arrived on January 15, so we pushed the shower to whenever he would be home from the hospital. He went home on March 7, but April 10 was the first weekend that we didn't have any conflicts.
So in addition to the original invitation, I made a cancellation notice (didn't get a pic!) and a new invitation (bottom). I had a whole extra set of invitations because they were late being delivered so I got some printed at the photo developer in town, so I cut these all apart to use them for the new invitations. It was a lot of cutting! But the invites ROCK, don't they?

On to some of the other shower crafts: 
I wanted to use lots of skulls and guitars and the way to get just what I wanted, in the sizes that I wanted and for a decent price was to create photoshop projects with as many of the shapes as I could get on them and order them as photos (8x10, 5x7 and a few 8x8s). I had way too many skulls and guitars printed.  I see a lot of "You Rock!" cards in my craft table's future. 
Some were used on the toppers for the favors:

Chocolate guitar molds were possibly my most brilliant idea for the shower. I toyed with the idea of sugar cookies but an electric guitar cookie cutter was going to run around $12! The candy mold was $2 or $3 AND I didn't have to deal with any icing! So easy, and they were a BIG hit! 
I used the larger skulls & guitar on the ugly wreath I made for the front door. The cross bones had been put away in a pile of stuff that I moved off the couch so they hadn't been attached when this picture was taken. I found them and stuck them on later. I wish I would've used more skulls & guitars on this, but I was really really really working at the last minute by this point!
This may have been my favorite party detail! Get it? Potty like a Rock Star? Instead of Party? I crack myself up sometimes! And I used a blue & a pink guitar on the door here on purpose...because it's a bathroom for boys AND girls.
I found these perfect red and black (with red glitter) little balls at Pound Stretcher at Christmas time. My original plan was to have skulls & guitars dangling here too, but I couldn't get them to stick on the ribbon properly. It JUST NOW dawned on me that I could've dangled them from fishing line or thread and hung them straight down at the points where the ribbon is blu-tacked up to the mantle. Oh well......
I've been saving the silver paper that my friend Concetta had wrapped her cookies in for my cookie exchange in December! I knew it would come in handy for this! The silver can is a tea canister and I just glue-dotted a ribbon around it, stuck on a guitar and put a little floral foam inside. Taped chipboard letters to spell the baby's name onto lollipop sticks and smooshed a little square of red tissue in there. I also wrapped my plain clear votive cups with ribbon from my scrapbook stash. My friend Sandi picked up the silver star wire garland stuff for me after Christmas. I won't lie and say that I was underbudget for this shower, but I definitely was able to save on quite a bit using what I have, buying things that can be reused and taking advantage of sales.
Here's the whole mantle. I have 2 clear square bud vases that I wrapped with red and black ribbon and filled partway with clear marbles. One has a skull and a guitar on lollipop sticks sticking in it and the other has the pens for party games.....all red and black pens, of course!
And speaking of party games...

The prizes were little tea lights- cranberry cosmo and the blue one that smells like laundry. There weren't any black candles, so I went with blue for "it's a boy" plus laundry smells so good and I rarely do it, so I'm happy to keep the leftover candles and make it smell like clean laundry in here.
We played a pregnancy/baby trivia quiz with questions like, "Who did they share the news with first?", "What theme did Jaclyn choose for the nursery?", "What girl's name did Jaclyn like that Jason vetoed?" and "What was the baby's birth weight?" (3 lbs., 7 oz.!)
There was also a game in which people had to guess the measurements taken at his most recent doctor's visit (the Thursday before the party), a word scramble, and a baby-word scattergories type game.
I did some research and made a "Match the Rock Star Baby to the Rock Star" game. This one could've been much tougher had I not included the birth years!  I included some that I thought *everybody* just knew (Moon Unit, Lisa Marie, and "Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket") and some that were a little tougher.
At 2am the day of the shower, I remembered that I forgot to get a piggy bank for a game I wanted to play. I e-mailed Jaclyn and asked her to bring one if she or anyone else had already gotten him one. So funny.....she and her mother-in-law had gone to the craft store the day before and just happened to buy supplies for and paint a piggy bank for him! We played "I Never"--baby related. So for instance, I said, "I never....had a baby!" and anyone who HAD had a baby put a coin in the piggy bank. We each started with 5 coins, I shared some coins with anyone who didn't have any. This one was fun and got Coy's piggy bank off to a good start!
When everyone arrived, I had them pull a number out of a bowl. As I was writing down the gifts, I made tallies for how many bibs, pacifiers, socks and stuffed animals he got. (0, 3, 6, 2).  I asked "Did anyone have the number 3?" and whoever had pulled that number got a prize. We also set a timer during gift opening and the person whose present Jaclyn was opening when the timer went off got a prize.
Okay, time for more pictures!
The prizes were wrapped in red and black tissue paper and put in my corningware! That stuff is so handy! :)
More candles, red balls that I put out at Christmas time, another tea canister (I have a lot of tea) and star garland on the step tansu. Anything I can do to highlight the step tansu, I do. LOVE that thing!
The step tansu also functioned as the gift holder. Mine is (of course) wrapped in red and black! It's 3 pairs of pants that go with these:
These rockin' little outfits came from one of my many trips to the baby section at the BX. I just knew that if I checked often enough, something rock-ish was bound to be there eventually! I bought them all in 12-18 months sizes since babies usually get lots of tiny clothes as gifts!

I think one of the best ideas I found online on one of the many many party blogs I've been reading was about a baby shower that was brown and pink (maybe?) and they slipcovered their couches and chairs! I bought some cheap broadcloth cotton (with a coupon and got a rebate!) and just did a sloppy "cover & pin". I think it really put a nice touch on the party and brought everything together...the biggest items in the room went with the theme:
I covered the pillows too with red and silver favorite pillow is in the next picture, with a black tulle bow! The paper lanterns were ordered from Crate & Barrel at the end of summer, on clearance (they were paired with blue ones for 4th of July!)
You can't really see the tulle bow, but trust me, it's cute! I ran out of fabric, so covered the ottoman top with red and bottom with scraps of black and black tulle. Put my white table cloth on the brown coffee table (might have been a bad idea, as there was a 2 year old here and in attempt to be nice, I gave her crayons!!) I totally meant to sprinkle some temporary tattoos on the table too and forgot about them. :(

Now, time for he important stuff...FOOD! 

You already know about my napkins. (Which, by the way, one of the guests said, "did you make these too? you're really good at the little details!" Makes my heart sing!)
 Here are the napkins with the other food-- broccoli salad, the Dorito taco salad that my mom makes...Jaclyn requested this immediately after I took it to another party in September or October. She was so happy about the Dorito salad being here! Caprese on a stick... hardly anybody ate this! I told David that if I would've known WE would be the ones eating it, I would've had him buy the GOOD mozzarella instead of the cheap stuff! And sausage & cheese--lots of the cheese is star shaped. Thank goodness for my bento-supply binge shopping right before we left Okinawa!

More skulls and guitars to use as....
Cupcake toppers! (I couldn't wait to see how cute they would look!) I made chocolate Devil's food and Red Velvet cupcakes (from the boxes! gasp!) Silver baking cups were key! My mom sent me this great cupcake stand! I love it much more than the kid that hold individual cupcakes, because I could cut little squares of cake, brownies, or cookies etc. on here. I had my friend Jessica cover the edges of the stand with black and silver ribbon.
And here they are all frosted & sprinkled. Picked up the black sprinkles at the BX before Halloween. Since I took the lame way out and made cake-mix cupcakes, I made homemade frosting.
The rest of the dessert table included white-chocolate dipped pretzels (with black and red sprinkles) and cherry cheeseball dip with chips ahoy and nilla wafers. Shhhh....don't tell anyone, but.....the cherry cheeseball is leftover from my cookie exchange! I've been saving it in the freezer since it's red and white!

Coy was the only one who didn't eat any of my food :)
 I was so excited when Jaclyn and her mother-in-law came in wearing their handmade rock-theme t-shirts! She said they bought supplies at the craft store (I didn't see any of this when I went to the craft store!!) and painted shirts for themselves and a onesie for Coy! (He only wore his for a short period of time due to diaper blow-out).
David won this guitar for me at a carnival down the street a few weeks ago! 

My mom and Aunt Cookie made me a special apron to wear for the party! Even though I finished baking long before this was taken, I couldn't bear the thought of taking off my punky apron!
The girl who calls ME Martha Stewart brought the baby's gift in this cute basket! I thought that was fairly Martha of her!
I love love love that someone bought a set of rock star themed bottles & pacifiers for the baby!
And of course, presents don't need to be rock-star related to be absolutely adorable!!

I'm pretty satisfied with how the party went! I got lots of girl said, "I went to a baby shower a few weeks ago and it wasn't nearly as good as this!" We all had a good time and I was glad that Jaclyn's mother-in-law was able to make the trip to England to see the baby...and come to his shower! :)
Annnnnnd.....I have no idea what I will do with all of my free time now!

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