Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Cake Disaster

Michael's family came over for Christmas eve. We had ten people for dinner, and I made a carrot cake for dessert. A few people ate a piece. I didn't eat any of the cake until today. When I tasted it, I thought, "it tastes funny," but the icing was so good....cream cheese, my favorite, so I mostly tasted the icing. The second bite still tasted a bit weird, so I just tasted the cake. Oh boy. No sugar. I forgot to put the SUGAR in my carrot cake!! Of course, I could taste the other the baking soda. Yech. If you've ever tried a no-sugar carrot cake, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't tried one...hope you never do.

The rest of the day I've had this no-sugar carrot cake taste in my mouth, and every time I think about it, it gags me. All day long, I've wanted to call the others who tasted it and apologize. I wonder if they want to gag, too, when they think of my carrot cake?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Housecleaner Nightmare

Do you remember the show Murphy Brown and her endless parade of crazy secretaries? That's how I feel when it comes to finding someone decent to clean our house. It took us forever to finally hire someone, but we did finally hire a woman about six months ago. The first time she cleaned, she did a great job. The second time she cleaned, she did a little less. The last few months with her were a nightmare. She wouldn't clean anything higher than her shoulders, which meant no shelves or light fixtures got dusted. She also didn't do baseboards. She only did things between about shoulder level and knee level, and she didn't even do that stuff very well. When she mopped and waxed, she actually waxed dirt and dog hair into the corners of our hardwood floors (which meant she must have just mopped without ever really sweeping very well). You, surely, are thinking the same thing we thought...."Yech!" The final blow was when she wouldn't move things on our kitchen counters to clean behind them...or dust anything sitting on tables. I mean ANYthing sitting on tables. We had dust bunnies the size of small cats, and cobwebs hanging from our chandeliers. It was BAD. We'd have to come home to clean after she finished cleaning...and WE were paying HER!!

So, Michael and I decided that I would talk to her. I asked her to pleeeeease move things on the counters and to pleeeeease not wax dirt into the hardwood floors. And you know what her response was?!?! SHE QUIT! We didn't get the pleasure of firing her. We simply asked her to do her job....and she actually quit! It amazes me that some people want to be paid for nothing. What a shame.
My grandfather taught me early in my life to take pride in the work I do, no matter what work it was...something as simple as making up my bed or cleaning a window, because the quality of my work made a difference in one way or another. It's a shame that more people don't feel that way.

So, now, we're looking for another cleaning person, and we've had no luck. The people we've talked to, quite honestly, have scared us. And now, because of the last person we hired, we're a little gun-shy. We've been doing the housecleaning ourselves the last few weeks, and I have to say the house is the cleanest it's been in six months!! But we're tired. We want the help. If we were actually lucky enough to talk to someone that didn't frighten us, we'd hired him or her in a minute!! Surely, someone out there can give us some advice in hiring cleaning people. We're not especially picky, although we do want someone to do the job we're paying them to do. Any suggestions would be SO appreciated!!!

The blog is short today...I'm off to do some housework...(sigh).

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Going Home

I'm not sure why it happens, but it happens every time. Every time I go home to Kentucky to spend time with my family, it's as if I digress back in time...back to adolescence. Suddenly, my brother gets on my nerves, monopolizes the bathroom too much, and calls me names just like he did when we were young. Still, it's always good to see him, and it's fun revisiting the past every once in a while. I get by with saying things and doing things when I go back home that I would never get by with in the "real world." Like...burping in my brothers ear and him giving me a high five because it's an especially good one. I can't see any of my adult friends doing that (or me doing that in front of them), but, somehow, it seems the thing to do when I go back home. I also talk louder, laugh louder, and become more animated. What's with that?!?!?!

I remember the first time Michael met my family. I was petrified!! Michael, being an only child, grew up in a much quieter home than me. Besides, his family isn't nearly as vocal as my family. My family is loud. Let me say that family is LOUD. I remember praying that, somehow, he would survive his first meeting with them and would be able to get a word in edge-wise. That's quite a feat around the Whitakers. We all talk loudly, we all talk at the same time, and we all think we're right and everyone else is wrong. I just KNEW Michael would run screaming from my parents' house and the romance would be over. I thought he would never be able to tolerate the Whitaker clan. But he was a trooper. He held his own. Now, he didn't really talk a lot...he stood around and watched in disbelief most of the time. But when he did say something, all the Whitakers stopped to listen. I couldn't believe it. I knew then that he would be okay. If he managed to somehow gain the attention and respect of my extremely loud family, he would be okay. And he was. That's not to say that some visits to Kentucky aren't hard on him and he doesn't want to lock himself in a room just to get some peace and quiet, but he's a good sport. And the Whitakers are so amazed when he actually does say something loud enough for them to hear, that they all actually shut up and pay attention! Miracles never cease!!

With that being said, I went home for Thanksgiving a couple of weeks ago. Michael and I loaded up the car and took the six hour drive back to Harlan. I was excited because my Aunt Vivian, her husband, Jerry, my brother Todd, sister-in-law Heather, and niece Mary Addison would be there, too. My mom cooked this year instead of my grandmother (as my grandmother feels that since she's reached the age of 90, she has earned the right not to cook), and Dad just enjoys having all his family back home.

Todd and I barely said ill words (although I think there were a couple of brother-sister insults) and nothing got broken. All in all, it was a successful Thanksgiving!!

Michael and me in Kentucky. Doesn't Michael look thrilled to be there?!?!

Michael, Jerry and Todd (Todd's giving Jerry a wet-willy...see, told ya...aren't we mature?)
Heather and Mary Addison play with Tiger, the puppy.

My grandmother with my Aunt Vivian. Grandmother turned 90 over the Thanksgiving weekend. Doesn't she look fantastic for 90!?!?!?!
Michael considering running for the state line.
Mary Addison in her princess dress (notice the furry cuffs) with Uncle Michael
Mary Addison and MiMi make a doll
Vivian and Tiger, the latest addition to the family.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Fayetteville 10:00 p.m.

Tonight, Michael, my mother-in-law, Suzanne, and I had a nice night, Fayetteville-style. We went out to dinner and to a movie, afterwhich I convinced Michael we HAD to take pictures of Fayetteville "in the dark." The Square looks beautiful at night, despite my poor photography skills.

View of the North side of the square that houses several gift and antique shops, an old fashioned hardware store, and our old Lincoln Theatre, named after our county.
South side of the square features several antique shops, a quilt shop, a jewelery store, a pool hall and diner, a book store and O'Houlihan's Restaurant, a favorite Fayetteville eatery.
The West side of the square is home to the Magnolia Mall, a great place to shop for antiques, a barber shop, a flower shop, an art gallery and several other businesses.

Another view of the South side of the square and a closer view of the book store and O'Houlihan's.

College Street bathed in street light.

North side of the square (where you turn to go to our bed and breakfast!)

A view of the Lincoln County Courthouse and the gazebo where many community activities take place.

A view of the courthouse with our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree all lit up for the holidays.

A view of the moon over the corner of one of the buildings.

A view down College Street.

This group of kids was walking the square the same time I was and insisted I take their photograph. Not enough light, so they each have four eyes in this shot instead of the customary two.

My mother-in-law's house in the moonlight.

Next door to Suzanne's house is the oldest cemetary in town at the Presbyterian Church.

Another view of the cemetary in the dark.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

At Home

Michael and I are so fortunate to own such a peaceful and beautiful home. The property that surrounds our house is shaded by beautiful old trees, and a creek runs down one side. Although we are located within the city's limnits, our one-acre of land is tranquil and abundant with simple beauty.

Today, we've been able to spend some time enjoying that beauty. Our animals make our home even more special and add so much pleasure to our lives. We love the days we get to spend at home enjoying our little place in the world. Thought we'd share some of the images that help to make our lives so special...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Tennessee Sunday

After church today, I had tons of work I could have done. My laundry was stacked up a mile high, I desperately needed to organize our storage room and pull out Christmas decorations, and the leaves in the yard need to be raked. But it was difficult to think about going home to work when the sun was shining so brightly and the autumn air was so crisp and clean. Autumn is my favorite time of year, and I was anxious to enjoy it for a few hours, so Michael and I left our work behind and went for a drive through the Tennessee country side. Max went along for the ride and ended up having an exciting day. He saw his very first cow, and he made friends with a country church dog who greeted us outside a small Methodist church near Coldwater Creek. We really enjoyed our day!!

Off we went down Molina Road in Lincoln County. We couldn't wait to drive out of town and enjoy the scenery!

It didn't take us long to leave our little city's streets behind and find wide-open pasture land dotted with farms.

We hadn't been on the open road long before Max spotted a cow. It was his first encounter with a farm animal, and he was fascinated! We think he thought they were really big dogs.

Old barns are abundant in the Tennessee Valley and they're beautiful in their own, rustic and weathered way.

We spotted this old home on a graveled side road. It wasn't hard to imagine at one time it was a busy place overlooking the beautiful farmland that surrounded it.

We found this beautiful little Methodist church down one of the backroads we traveled. It looked so homey and friendly that we just had to stop for a few minutes to admire it.

What a sweet front entrance with a beautiful fall wreath.

The welcoming committee met our car as we drove up to the church. Max met a new friend and we promised to bring him back again to play.
What a beautiful girl with a fantastic smile!

And what a nice profile!!

Some of the old barns looked as if they hadn't been used in years, but evidence closeby proved that they were very much used. It was just tough to find anyone around on a Sunday afternoon!

Nearby was the evidence of someone's hard work.

This farm is located right inside the city limits surrounded by historic homes and residential areas. Who would have thought...

Max was ready for a nap when we finally arrived home. I bet he dreamed of cows and church dogs.