29 December 2009

An Exhausting Year

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas? Our was pleasant, albeit extremely busy. Time spent with family in both WI & MI, good times with friends, and most importantly the kids! Went to a fun Christmas eve mass which was exactly what I needed! How often do you get to genuinely laugh out loud at church at Christmastime? The priest really made a point of delivering a homily about Christ's birth with all the fun & excitement the season holds.

Now it's almost the end of the year. Time to look forward, because the backward hasn't been too great. Sure, there were moments this year, there always are, but the overwhelming feeling I'm left with on 2009 is one of frustration. Lack of employment, tightness of money, a strain on the relationship with my eldest daughter, lots of car troubles, it's a year I'm glad see come to a close. I'm looking forward to 2010 with new hope.

I was reading an article about our President Obama's first year in office. 2009 has taken it's toll on him, as well. The pressures he's faced with an unrealistic public watching his every move have had to be painful. I like that he says that his wife & children have been his refuge & grounding. Mine too.

Here's too a more peaceful, wealthier, and saner 2010, Mr. President! Cheers!

22 December 2009

16 Years

Today is my daughter,Kaitlyn's Sweet 16th birthday!
I can't believe that time has flown by so fast.
We struggle daily with our relationship lately, but I love her dearly.
I only want the best for her.
She gone from this little, adorable baby who did everything early...walking, talking, reading...to a sassy (sometime TOO sassy), funny young lady.
I wish I could just hold her in my arms & keep her away from the fears of the world, but she must fly. And fall. And hopefully gain strength and soar!

Happy Birthday Bunny!
Mama loves you, my 16 year old!

21 December 2009

Not in the Spirit

I just can't seem to get into the holiday spirit this year. Nothing is making me feel it. Just going through the routine...but just feel empty.

07 December 2009


I have been behind in stating the things I am grateful for this year.

1. My family.

2. My friends.

3. My health.

4. A roof over my head.

5. Unemployment income...as piddly as it is, we couldn't make do without it.

This Thanksgiving was pleasant, spending with hubby's family. And then we had a Friend's Thanksgiving, too. It was great, though it would have been wonderful to spend it with ALL of my good friends...but sadly distance prevents that from happening. Perhaps one day?

21 November 2009

Maturity Sucks

I hate being the mature one.
I hate doing what makes sense.
I hate giving others what they need when it breaks my heart.
I hate that there I have to hurt and have my soul ripped apart just so others than have the chance to grow.

No one told me that motherhood would be so freakin' painful.
No one told me that children would hate you while you try desperately to show them you love them.
No one told me that as an adult I'd so desperately NEED my own parents to hold ME and tell ME it's all going to be ok.

And then to be all alone.

My daughter has chosen her father's home over mine.
I have 2 months left with her.
I hate this.

19 November 2009

The Doldrums

Nautically speaking, the doldrums are that calm on the seas. That down time in which your sailboat is stuck, at the whim of the waters, waiting for a breeze to pick up so something can happen.

Personally speaking, my personal doldrums are rather the same. I feel like this time where neither Paul & I are working has been a time of existing on the whims of others who shall decide our fate as to whether we'll work or not. Each day is another day of waiting for something to happen...always hoping for it to be a strong but gentle wind and not a major storm waiting to keelhaul us.
I need some change. I need a wind toward adventure.

12 November 2009

I'd say "I Do" all over again

Today my wonderful husband, Paul, and I are celebrating our 4 year anniversary.

It was an unseasonably warm November day spent with friends family and much joy.

Today is an gorgeous day, too...and I think I love him even more!

Happy Anniversary honey! I'd marry you all over again...especcially if we could go on the 2 week honeymoon to England & Wales again right now!!! ;-)

06 November 2009

Burn the Guy!

Yesterday was Guy Fawkes Day in the UK. A day to remember that a government is supposed to work FOR the people. To me, its about a day of letting go of the past.

A good friend hosted a traditional Guy Fawkes bonfire, complete with effigy!

We all brought our own effigy too...that something we wanted to get rid of in our lives...whether it was money matters, weight issues, relationship problems, health problems, etc.

We followed it up with some traditional Bonfire Punch, Jacket Potatoes, Earl Grey Bread & Butter Pudding, brats, sausages & burgers. Let me say, I never had a more cathartic or fun night burning things!

05 November 2009

How to Let Go?

I'm being faced with a seriously painful dilemma. My teenager, whom I've both celebrated & ranted about here is thinking that she might want to go live with her father in Michigan. She's given me some rational reasons for it, and as an equally rational person I have to let her go, if that's what she wants. Her happiness & success is what matters most.

But heart is breaking. I feel like my soul is being ripped apart at the thought of it. I also feel angry. I do everything for her, take she & her friends everywhere. I try to expose her to everything so she'll be well rounded & smart. And it feels like her father will get to reap all the rewards of it.

Right now, I just can't stop the tears. She has to make the ultimate choice, and giving up that control REALLY hurts.

02 November 2009

Trick AND Treat

Halloween night was a blast!

The kids were precious and had a ton of fun "Trick or treating".

And some friends came by to put on a Dead Parade and help me scare the pants off teens & adults! it was hilarious fun!

I think I can still hear the laughter & screaming.

I love Halloween!!

30 October 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different...

Toff Pauper

That's my new site. Additional site, I should say. This will still remain my journalling blog, but I'm launching something for my outlets of saving money & beauty.

Check it out regularly, please. Leave feedback. Let me know if you share my love of all things beautiful AND affordable. I hope to have some money saving tips, tidbits, and recommendations there. And if you know of something worth sharing, please let me know!

29 October 2009


I interviewed for a job yesterday.
I felt the interview went really well.
I left just knowing I would be given a job offer.
It wasn't just one opening, it was many.
I already had plans and thoughts about working there.
I had NO doubt I would have a job today.

I was wrong.
I didn't get the job.
Apparently I am unmarketable.
I have to go cry now.

27 October 2009

Heaven & Hell Halloween

This past Saturday was my annual Halloween bash. This year's theme was "Heaven & Hell" so I had to plan & decorate accordingly. Paul & I put some of our cake decorating training to use and each took on the task of a cake each.

My Hell cake was originally intended to be a 6 tier tower alternating red velvet & dark chocolate with chocolate truffle frosting in between. And it was. I just didn't reinforce it enough and as I was adding the fondant flames, it started to lean. So I laid it down an replanned the cake, so it ended up having the skull being sucked into the flames of hell rather than atop the tower. I sort of liked it better this way!

Paul took on the Heaven cake, making a white angel cake with traditional white buttercream ribboning, lattace work, lace, flowers, with classic columns. It was classically lovely and could easily have been someone's very traditional wedding cake.

And in true fashion our friends came decked out in their usual creative selves.

22 October 2009

As Time Goes By

This made me smile today.

18 October 2009

Successful Recipe o' the Day

My eldest loves when I make eggplant parmesean. I always feel like it just "ok", but tonight's dinner truly hit on the definition of SUCCESS! Even the hubby commented, "Wow, this could be from a good italian restaurant!" Believe me, he usually thinks dinner is fine, so to get this sort of response, I knew I'd done well.

To start, I purchased Italian eggplant from the local farmer's market last week. It has a thinner skin & less seeds. I then sliced it, and used a tip from the farmer to sprinkle salt over the slices and let sit in a colander for about 1/2 hour. It really pulled the moisture from the eggplant. I patted them dry before dredging them in egg & breadcrumbs (to which I'd added some dried garlic). I then put the sliced on a baking sheet & baked for about 20 minutes, making them crispy (and healthier than the typical pan fry method). Then I layered them in a casserole dish, alternating the eggplant, fresh spinach, mushrooms, fresh grated mozzerella, and sauce. Then baked at 425 degrees for about `15 minutes, and Voila! Served some garlic rolls & spaghetti noodles with it, and it was fantastic!

Yeah me!

15 October 2009

The Green Eyed Monster

I'm finding myself awash with jealousy lately.
Jealous of friends who are taking wonderful trips.
Jealous of people on television who have jobs I want.
Jealous of the sheer joy I see in my children's eyes when all I'm feeling is down.

Today has been my attempt at a bit of joy. Halloween decorating!
So far, no alot has been accomplished short of a small graveyard out front.

Tonight is a job interview I'm hoping will turn into an offer for a company I really respect.

Trying to stay positive. So far, I'm just green.

13 October 2009

Nice! Nice? Nice.

So, lately things have just been. Nothing too thrilling. Nice. Just nice.

I feel nothing on a daily basis other than jealousy or stress. Not so nice.

I'm desperate for change. In a good way. A nice way.

I need to figure out how to appreciate little things. Nice little things.

A blogger I read addresses them as "sparklies", as it was her way of dealing with the death of a daughter who adored all things sparkly, and as young kids do, she would be awed by little things that adults forget to appreciate.

I've always hated "nice". It's what you say when you have no better word to describe things.
Life is too nice.

12 October 2009

New Look

Yep, time for a little something new.
Whatcha think?

07 October 2009

Friends, Fall and Fun...Part 2

Well this weekend was another lovely autumn weekend (ok, so it was cold & misty all day Saturday, but it was a good day) with friends out at the Stronghold RenFaire in Oregon, IL. We always have low-key fun performing out there, and this year was no exception.

I played my new character, Mistress Dorothy Smith, and I have to say, I like her alot! She's friendly & fiesty. I created a "gossip rag" that most people really enjoyed and got a chuckle from. I think I would have felt more comfortable in her skin if that skin (the new costume) wasn't suddenly huge on me. I don't think I've lost weight, but it was ridiculous & looked that way, sadly. Oh well, I've rethought her & the costume, so I'm looking forward to that. It was good to have a character that didn't hate my husband's character, too! HAHA!

Saturday night was some awesome ghost hunting. Experiences that I can't possibly express here, but let's just say it wasn't like anything I've ever encountered before. It was GREAT!

Sunday was sunny & fun. Two very dear friends were engaged, and I get to help them in some of the planning. I'm SO happy for them! It was definately the perfect cap on a fun weekend!

29 September 2009

Friends, Fall and Fun

This past weekend we visited friend in southwestern Michigan for a lovely autumn weekend away.

Friday the teenagers (they have 2, we have 1) babysat the toddlers (they have 1, we have 2) while the adults had a delicious dinner & movie night. Let me say, tableside guacamole can't be beat! The new version of "FAME" however left alot to be desired. I will say more about this later in another post.

Saturday we went out to Windmill Island in Holland. It was lovely, peaceful, and really did give you a sense of being in the Netherlands. The little boys needed to nap, so Kaitlyn & Alex stayed home while the rest of us wandered downtown Holland.

Sunday all of us headed out to a cider mill/orchards for typical Autumn day of apple picking, hayrides, raspberry picking, and general fun. It was a delightful day!

21 September 2009

A Brick Wall

I do not know what to do with my teenage daughter anymore.
I love her, but I have so much anger toward her it takes all of my self-control and prayer to keep me from wanting to beat the crap out of her.
To the rest of the world she is sweet, kind, helpful.
To me she is rude, obnoxious, hateful, disobedient.
She won almost a full scholarship to her school (the best school around, I might add) because she scored higher than anyone else on her tests. She's been in the advanced gifted & talented programs since she was 4.
She's failing 2 classes, not because they are too hard, but because she's too lazy.
We've grounded her, taken away things, been nice, been angry, been rational...nothing matters to her. She's arrogant & pigheaded and if she doesn't want to do it, she won't. It doesn't matter to her that she is throwing away her whole future. She has the potential to be the #1 student in the school, and instead she's failing. By choice.
Last night was the last straw.
She called me an f-ing bitch all because we (God forbid) wanted her to shut up so Paul could help her with her math homework. (One of the classes she's failing.)
This escalated from there.
Today she started the morning with yet another fight.
I've called a child psychologist to please contact me.
I just don't know what to do anymore other than cry.
I do NOT want to ship her off to go live with her father, but part of me feels like maybe that's what she needs? I just don't know what to do anymore.

18 September 2009

Are Yo-yos supposed to have Ups as well as Downs?

My life has been a broken Yo-Yo. All down, no up.
I'm seriously depressed, and I don't know what more to do. Not only am I getting NO bites on any resume'/applications I send, neither is Paul. He handles the bills, so I'm not asking, but I don't know how we're going to cover the mortgage, etc. this month. I'm sure there will be some creative juggling, but I'm just so angry that this is where things are right now.
Angry that, once again, I feel worthless & unmarketable.
Angry that I have to worry so much.
Angry that others get ridiculous amounts handed to them and they appreciate nothing.
We aren't bad people. We aren't uneducated or unexperienced. So why the hell are we the ones who must struggle so hard?

14 September 2009

Creating Anew

So every year, after Bristol Renaissance Faire ends, everyone gets their things cleaned and packed away, and the lull of "real" life starts to set in...and then we get to do it all again for one short weekend! The Stronghold Faire happens the first weekend of October ONLY, and it's a great, low key, try something new opportunity. We all spend the night in the castle, go on hayrides, and take the shuttle into town where they have a big harvest festival going on. Last year I was able to go for a day. This year all of us (well, not the little ones) are going for the whole weekend and I'm giddy about it for some reason? Maybe it's because I'm trying on a new character to see how she fits?

SO, I sort of chose someone semi-randomly, and started some research. Turns out she's one of those women of the renaissance who actually have quite a bit written about her, and she's pretty darn interesting! So, I'm going through the process of making someone old, new. I'll let ya know more later!

07 September 2009

A Mind Obsessed

I don't know what it is lately, but my brain is obsessed with Mackinac Island.
Every time I fall asleep, I dream about the island.
Every time my mind starts to drift, I envision being on the island.
I don't know if it's just that time of year, or if something in the cosmos is trying to tell me something, but I do know that I can't stop thinking about it. Remembering it. Wishing I was there. Feeling the need to go there.
But my bank account tells me a different story.
Why can't someone just magically show up on my door step with an all-expense paid trip to Mackinac?


26 August 2009

I know, I'm nuts

A new costume & new character in development for the weekend.
Here is a pic of the mostl completed middle class costume for "Hilde von Thenard".
I've always wanted a teal & lime green dress!

20 August 2009

Sweet 16 plans

So I introduced my daughter to the coolness that is Steampunk, and she's hooked.
Now she wants her Sweet 16 party to be a Steampunk theme.

As her birthday falls just before Christmas, and since she's due to be wit her dad for that holiday this year, we have decided the best time for her party is to be New Year's Eve. Cool, eh? Well, we are going to invite our friends too (so those of you who read this, this is your warning...start planning now!)

Yes, it will be a costume party. STEAMPUNK.

What is it? Well, it's this cool sci-fi/literary cross over phenomenon in which fashion is Victorian influenced, but futuristic, in that the world progressed via the steam engine, NOT electronically. Atoms weren't discoverd. Einstein's theory doesn't exist. You're familiar with it already, you just don't realize it. Think "Around the World in 80 Days" or even the movie "Wild Wild West" (Will Smith/Kevin Kline).

14 August 2009

Is this yet another sign??

I have performed with renaissance faires for 18 years.
I have performed with the Bristol faire, specifically for 11 years.
I was with the Michigan faire for something like 12 years.

I saw Michigan, in my opinion, go into a downward spiral into nothing but fantasy with compete disregard to history. I believe the whole point of an event set in a specific time period is to present history. Entertain AND educate.

Now I'm seeing thing at Bristol that have me concerned of this same fate.

This photo is a friend of mine. She is THRILLED to be playing a role this season as a fairy, and for her I am also thrilled. She is loving it! and she deserves to feel this bliss.

I, however, loathe and detest the idea of fairies at a historical renaissance faire. I am willing to accept them, for the sake of little children, IN the children's area. I will NOT accept the "Barbarian" area that has arrived for people to hit each other with glorified "fun noodles". I will NOT accept the zombies visiting this weekend.
Today I received an email from my "historical guilde" director disregarding the historical facts.
Needless to say, I'm worried these are all signs of Bristol's own downward spiral.

13 August 2009

Moving Forward, Letting Go

I've come to the realization recently that certain people just need to be cut from my life.
People whom I've tried to maintain as friends. People who I've attempted to respect.
But I just simply cannot any longer.
These few individuals have proven themselves immature and hateful on several occasions.

There is so much I could say. I choose not to only because it isn't worth it.

08 July 2009

Some are Silver & the others Gold

This past weekend we had a dear old friend & her family come to visit. We had not seen each other in about 12 years, so it was wonderful to reconnect and have them here. They were WONDERFUL! All 3 of their kids are adorable & charming, she & her husband are as sweet & fun as I remembered...it was just a truly wonderful weekend! I think my son has a new best friend now in their 2 year old. They played SO well together! I only wish the weekend had been longer!

To top it off, I also had 2 other old friends from my MI clubbing days come up for the 4th! Robbie & Brad, Robbie's adorable new boyfriend, Jonathon, and Brad's friend, Aaron (whom I'd also not seen since my wedding) were just hilarious! Add to the mix our buddies, Misty & her whole family & Matt...it was just such an amazing weekend!

We also celebrated Darcy's first birthday! She was a trooper! Happy Birthday Little Princess!!! Love you!

02 July 2009

Freedom & Liberty

As I furiously work to get my house spotless for much anticipated guests coming to visit for the 4th of July (YEAH!!) I would like to state that I see the day as the day we're celebrating my daughter's first birthday. I am NOT much of a patriot, pure & simple. (Given my choice, I'd be living back in England.) I respect this country. I respect our new president and get very angry when everyone keeps blaming him for things that aren't his fault (hello, he's only been in office a few months! This mess is the onslaught of our former Chief's stupidity!) And I also believe that the majority of Americans are self-centered, insular, spoiled brats. (Not saying I think any other mass of peoples in the world don't have their faults, I'm only speaking of the country in which I reside.) Anyway...in preparation of the 4th, I'm doing a "rerun" of a post I wrote this time in 2006.

Thanks to the Rest o'the World
Today Americans celebrate the 4th of July...America's Independence Day. I know there are going to be blogs everywhere extoling the virtues of the United States, so I wanted to do something a little bit different. I want to recognize that many of the symbols we associate with our "freedom", actually come via other countries. Or the facts we know may be just a little bit squewed. I'm not trying to incite a riot or upset any patriots...I just want to look at things from a slightly different point of view.

First, let's begin with the day itself. Why do we celebrate today? I think most people will answer "Because its the day the Declaration of Independence was signed!" Wrong! It was the day it was adopted by the 2nd Congress. It was read on the 9th, when it was approved by the 13 colonies, officially created on the 19th, but it didn't actually get signed until August 2nd!

Betsy Ross created the original American flag, right? Wrong! The flag that was created to represent the new country was created before the Revolutionary War by Rebecca Young. It was the flag General Washington raised on New Year's Day 1776. It was also our official flag on July 4, 1776. Now, did Betsy Ross actually make our flag? Well, she was a flagmaker, and made flags for almost 50 years, which is where her notoriety comes from. The "Stars & Stripes" flag (originally with 13 stripes & 13 stars) however, was created by Mary Pickersgill in 1813. It was the flag that was flying over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 that was seen "by the dawn's early light" by Francis Scott Key.

Speaking of Mr. Key, the author of our American anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner", he was witness to the 25 hour retaliation attack of the British against the Americans at the fort during the War of 1812. Indeed, the in morning when the British ceased fire, the flag was still flying. He felt inspired and wrote the poem "The Battle of Fort McHenry". It was soon published in many places, and someone came up with the idea to sing it. However, the music ironically, is a popular English drinking song "To Anacreon in Heaven". It wasn't officially made our national anthem until 1931.

That same night's non-stop cannon & gunfire by the Brits is also the reason we celebrate with fireworks.

And let's not forgot that the quintessential figure of freedom, the Statue of Liberty, was a gift from the French in October 1886.

So today let's not be so ego-centric as to believe that we wouldn't have our freedoms of liberty, or the symbols of that, without the rest of the world.

29 June 2009

In Bloom

Why am I a full week behind on posting anything? Ugh...life.

Ok, this is just a photo-filled post of pics I took last week at the Chicago Botanical Gardens.

Enjoy...let me know what is your favourite!