Bring on the Clydesdales this Superbowl Weekend

Thursday, January 31, 2013

It's that time of year again!  SUPERBOWL is this Sunday!  And I know that many of us watch strictly for the latest, greatest, and in some cases- just plain over-the-top commercials.   Well, that and the snacks.   

So I couldn't think of a much better time than now to do a quick rundown of some of my favorite Superbowl commercials of all time.  No big surprise here- all my favorites feature those famous Clydesdales from the Budweiser ads.  For me, there will never be any better commercials than those.  I hope they never stop making them.  But I think all of America is pretty keen on them too, so hopefully we won't have to worry about that anytime soon. 

This one will always be my number one.  It depicts a young colt who has big dreams of pulling that iconic red Budweiser carriage like all the big horses.  He gets a bit of a helping hand, unbeknownst to him, to pull off this feat, ranking this one up there as my all time favorite. 



On the lighter side, this is another favorite.  Who can forget the streaker?






And the fetch the stick trick?





And those Clydesdales captured us all once again with their Superbowl commercial tribute to 9/11.





These beautiful and gentle horses just have me in awe.  In fact, when we visited jolly old England last year, we toured one of the local breweries there that still uses these work horses to deliver beer locally.  They even let us go down to their field to pet them.  They were gorgeous gentle giants. I wish I could have packed them up and brought them home with me.  






But back to the Superbowl...   For those who like to keep up with this kind of thing, there is even a Website dedicated to those famous Superbowl ads, http://www.superbowl-commercials.org/, that categorizes and archives them all for you in one handy place.  You can even catch an early glimpse of some of the ones scheduled for this weekend's big game, if it won't be too much of a spoiler for you.  I haven't peeked to see if there is a new Clydesdale commercial yet, and I don't think I will.  I plan to remain pretty glued to my TV on Sunday evening, along with most of the rest of you, so I will wait and catch it then.  And we will see whether it makes the rank for next year's review. 

So No One Told You Life Was Gonna Be This Way

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

. . . You know, with the aging and all . . .


. . . . Your mother warned you there'd be days like these, but she didn't tell you when the world has brought you down to your knees that I'll be there for you.

Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.

Love is All Around

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

From one of my all-time favorite movies, Love Actually- 

"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around."








Valentine Decor, Galore!

Monday, January 28, 2013

I actually like this time of year.  The hubub of Christmas and New Year's has passed, and we look forward to the coming days of Spring with much anticipation.  But until those tulips start to rise from their long winter's naps, I like to focus on the here and now.  And what's here and now?  Why, Valentine's Day, of course!

I always feel like the house looks a little "bare" without the glitz of the holiday decorations decking the halls.  So a few years ago, I decided the best way to decorate for the time between Christmas and Easter was to get into the Valentiney swing of things.

Here is a glimpse of my kitchen table setting.



Most of these special things have been collected over the years.  I've had the rose-shaped bowls the longest of any of these pieces.  Last year, John gave me the pink jadeite cake stand as a Christmas gift.  And I added the vintage tablecloth just this year.  It's fun to scout out little pieces to add to your collection as time goes by.  It's ok not to have everything all at once.  It's more fun to pick and choose the special pieces as you find them.  Of course, my prized possession is the Humpty Dumpty cookie jar taking center stage.  And what, you may ask, does he have to do with Valentine's Day?  In reality, not much.  But I LOVE this cookie jar, and I often try to work him into my tablescapes.

Here's a close up for you.  He was a find like none other from our favorite little vintage store in Roxboro a few years ago.



This year, I decided to decorate the the dining room a bit for our upcoming Valentine's dinner.  John and I rarely make use of this room.  But for holidays and birthdays, we always cook a nice meal and eat in the dining room like real grown ups.

Here is how the dining room gussied up for V'day.  First, the bird's eye view...  I have used this tablecloth for years now.  And the dishes.  I just added a few red candles (from Christmas) and a big bunch of roses to the center of the table.


And then, the close-ups...  I love tucking flowers into bowls.  It just looks so pretty.  And when it comes to Valentine's Day, it just HAD to be roses!


I added a couple of fat love birds.  They did the trick, I think. 


And on the hutch, I added my "Cupid Awake" and "Cupid Asleep" prints to the mix.  And to give a little history on these, they are old but not uncommon.  These are prints created from the late 1890's photographer, M.B. Parkinson's work.  He used the four-year old daughter of a friend as the model.  "Cupid Awake" captured people's hearts with her sweet innocence, while "Cupid Asleep" showed her clinging to her arrows in slumber.  

These are especially timely for this time of year.  But I love them, and will likely use them more than just at Valentine's Day.    


Now to just plan that Valentine's dinner menu, and we will be good to go way ahead of time.  If I haven't mentioned it before, I'm not the handiest in the kitchen, so if you have any good meal ideas, feel free to pass them along, and I will be sure to share them with my husband (and lead chef) for his consideration.  I mean, I DID take care of the decorating, after all.  

Izzie, the Wonder Pup, Times Two

Sunday, January 27, 2013

 That's right.  Our little Iz has a sister, and they look almost exactly alike.  Her name is Hanna, and she lives in Indiana with her owner and handler, who is also a wonderful friend of ours.  You see - Hanna is an agility dog.  In fact, Hanna's mommy, Laura, judges agility trials on a national level, and has bred, owned, and loved cocker spaniels for these many years.

She called us this weekend to let us know that Hanna was competing in an agility show very close to our neck of the woods, so we grabbed Miss Iz and headed that way.

And here they are.  Together again!  That's sweet little Hanna on the left, and our precious Izzie on the right. They both have the same markings, right down to those big old white front paws.  In fact, that little asset earned them the nickname "The Go-Go Girls" when they were but pups.   Technically, they are brown and tan cocker spaniels, but the patches of white come from a party colored cocker way back in their ancestry.



But back to the action.  Here is Laura with Hanna, as they enter the show ring.  At a distance, I would have sworn that was Izzie sitting there with her.  You can't take pictures in the ring while the dogs are in action, so unfortunately I don't have those to share.  But let me try to describe it for you.  Watching a cocker run is like nothing else.  They don't really run; they fly.  Paws stretched, tail wagging, jowls flopping, and ears flying.  She ran, she jumped, she barked and wagged, then she hurdled, she bobbed, she weaved.  It was wonderful to watch.  Our little Iz could do that, no doubt.


And we got to see another old friend yesterday too.  This is Casey.  She is 10 years old now, and has been with Laura as long as I've known her.  When I first met Laura, she had four cocker spaniels, all show dogs, and Casey was my favorite from the moment I laid eyes on her.   We got to see her compete too, and let me tell you, you would never know she wasn't a mere pup.  This girl runs like the wind, and Laura says she is close to Champion status.  


Izzie watched all the action, and was such a good girl.  She and Hanna got along famously.  And we had more than a few people stop to ask if she was related to Hanna.  I guess they do rather look alike, and it seems that Hanna is pretty well known in this circle. 




 And to leave you with one final dose of cuteness, prepare yourself for overload.  This is Lucy.  She is Laura's new King Charles Cavalier Spaniel pup.  She's only 16 weeks old, and she is one fiesty little red head.  Her official name has something to do with Lucille Ball, but it was way to long for me to remember.



So it seems our Saturday just went to the dogs.  But, that's ok.  Valentine's Day is a coming, and there's nothing wrong with a little puppy love.

Cabled Ribbon Bag

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Here's another one of my creations. With the red satin ribbon, it is perfect for use around Christmas and Valentine's Day.


And here's a closeup of the cable work, which might be a little hard to see in the first picture because of the dark color of the bag:


This is another free crochet pattern that can be found here: Camille's Purse Pattern and you can also add it to your Ravelry queue.

I used two strands of worsted weight yarn to create the pattern. this makes for a thick bag that does not need to be lined, and the cables really stand out that way. Also, I did not complete the pattern to the same length shown in the pattern. That was just my preference, as I wanted a shorter bag.

When I finished threading the ribbon through the bag, I trimmed to the final length and then finished with fray check.

Fiesta Friday!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Oh, it's been a rainy, messy day here.  It started out a little on the icy side.  Now it's just gloomy and cold and wet.  But things are looking up!  For as long as I have known John, we have had a standing date at our local Mexican dive every Friday night.  We call it Fiesta Friday.

The restaurant owners know us by name, and every time we come in they greet John with a handshake and me with a hug.  It's a family-owned business called Pueblo Real.  They serve wonderful, authentic Mexican food and some of the best margaritas I have ever tasted.  It's sure to hit the spot on a cold wintry night like tonight.

But we aren't the only ones who know and love this place.  It draws huge crowds every night of the week, but weekends are always busy there.  So we always try to go a bit early and don't mind sitting at the bar if we have to.  In fact, the bar area is very warm and cozy, which actually sounds very appealing for tonight.




And to leave you with a little Nashville-related trivia about this fine establishment, it has been graced by Ashley Judd in the not so distant past.  No, we weren't there for that.  Darn it all.  But maybe I will remember to ask the owners tonight who else has dined in these hallowed halls.  You never know who you might bump into in Music City!

Adios, Amigos!  I hope you enjoy your Friday night as much as I plan to enjoy mine!

Shetland Ponies in Winter Woolies

Thursday, January 24, 2013

They may not have the long legs of traditional supermodels but we think these guys could rock any runway... or paddock for that matter. Watch CNN News TONIGHT to see these two uber cool ponies launch the Year of Natural Scotland!


Too precious for words!





Will You Be My Valentine?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It's another case of "things just aren't like they used to be"...  Modern day Valentine cards can't hold a candle to the oldies but goodies.  They don't even kind of measure up.  I remember exchanging little heart-shaped cards with classmates and friends as a kid, but I'm not sure even those were as good as these really old ones.

It turns out you can find vintage Valentine cards all over the place.  They are at flea markets and antique shops everywhere this time of year.  And since I have a hubbie who doesn't mind rummaging through those types of places, it seems that we have had the good fortune to stumble onto some doozies!

Here, let me show you...


For my wonderful husband:

I couldn't dream up a better Valentine if I tried!  Red-headed boy, blonde girl, and a sweet little pup! Yep, that's us captured on a Valentine, circa 1950s.



(And speaking of our sweet pup)  For Izzie, the Wonder Pup:

This one looks just like her.  Only she would never sit still long enough to tie a big pretty bow around her neck, but you get the idea. 




For my sister, Donna:

This one is perfect for someone is often found with a ball of yarn, working on her next crochet project!



For my sister, Misty:

This looks just like her sweet Baby Emma (and Charlotte too when she was that age).



For Daddy:

When I saw this one, I just laughed!  It is PERFECT for the man who may as well be the Town Crier!  



And even funnier is reading the inscriptions on the back of some of these cards.  My personal favorite is one that is simply addressed to "Me", from "Larry".  Sounds like someone had a bit of a crush on this Larry character, and made herself out a card "from" him.  How sweet and cute is that?  Makes me wonder if "Me" and "Larry" ever became an item.  


Makes me wish I still had some of my old Valentines too.  No, modern Valentine's cards just aren't the same.  There is something about the sweet charm of these that will have me displaying them each year at Valentine's Day!

Conversation Hearts- Some Things Never Change, Until They Do

Monday, January 21, 2013

Surely you remember the good old Conversation Hearts.  We all do.  They look (and taste) like chalk, but they are so quintessentially Valentine-y that they rank right up there with boxes of assorted chocolates, in my mind anyway.

So I found myself looking for a bag this weekend- not to eat, mind you; I think I would rather eat Peeps- but to use in my Valentine-inspired table-scape.  I found a humongous bag for less than $2, which I happily brought home and dumped into a heart-shaped bowl on my kitchen table.


Ahh, so pretty!  That's exactly what I wanted, and since I don't plan to eat these and I doubt seriously that they will ever disintegrate, I may be able to use these year over year!  All is well.  UNTIL...  I take a closer peek at my heart-shaped message candies. 


Do you see it?  Since when do Conversation Hearts say "Text Me"?  It got me wondering what other sayings have been added to my sweet little candies. 


After a bit of digging through my not-so-sweet tarts, I found I few others that appear to have been added more recently.  Now, these little hearts not only beckon you to "Text Me", but they also suggest that you "Tweet Me" and (my personal favorite) "Friend Me".  I thought the "High Five" hearts were interesting too, because as far as I know that is not a term of endearment or any other sentiment that has anything to do with Valentine's Day.  Who knows?  Maybe you all can explain it to me.  Then I came across an acronym I have never seen before - "LOML".  I am not ashamed to admit that I had to Google that one.  Turns out it stands for "Love of My Life".  Now that's more like it.

Now, if you don't mind, you will have to pardon me while I share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram.  How's that for jumping on a bandwagon?  If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, friends!

Spiderman Afghan

Sunday, January 20, 2013

If you have a little boy, it is likely that he's into superheroes. Well, after one Halloween costume and two superhero themed birthday parties, I'd say that Aidyn Kale Walkush is pretty firmly aligned with team Spiderman.

This afghan was the perfect gift for him.

Kids Superhero Crochet Afghan - Spiderman Design


The free crochet pattern can be found here on Ravelry: Superhero Dreamcatcher Afghan or the original blog post here: Stitchnfrog Blog.

And the only modifications that I made were to the pattern color repeats. I did them in a different order than the original pattern and I didn't do as many because the afghan was intended for a child and I didn't want him to get lost under it! The repeats I used were as follows:

5 rounds – Red
3 Rounds – Blue
1 Round – Black
4 Rounds – Blue
1 Round – Black
4 Rounds – Red
1 Round – Black
5 Rounds – Red
1 Round – Black
6 Rounds – Red
6 Rounds – Blue
1 Rounds – Black
3 Rounds – Blue

My finished afghan using the color changes listed above is 68" in diameter from point to point across the center. Some superhero yarn colors that would be good choices for this blanket are: 


For anyone having issues with how to create the "webbing," this YouTube video tutorial gives very in depth, step by step instructions for how to complete that part of the pattern successfully: 


Make this for your favorite superhero


And you're sure to have him singing:

Spiderman, Spiderman,
Does whatever a spider can,
Spins a web, any size,
Catches thieves just like flies,
Look out!
Here comes the Spiderman!

This post contains affiliate links.



Moogly HOHD

Wire Beaded Jewelry

Saturday, January 19, 2013

For you avid crocheters, I'm sure it comes as no shock to you that if you can crochet with yarn, you can also crochet with wire. Well, add a few beads and you have yourself some snazzy jewelry.

I created these pieces using this free crochet pattern tutorial Crochet Beaded Necklace Video Tutorial.

This first piece of wire crochet jewelry is a bracelet that I tend to wear in the summer. The beads' colors remind me of sea glass. I modified the pattern by using an H sized hook and making it shorter into a bracelet.


This second piece is a red necklace that I usually wear around Christmas and Valentine's Day. I modified the pattern by using an H sized hook and using seed beads in some of the areas that would have ordinarily been plain wire.


I found it surprisingly easy to crochet with wire (and here I thought it would be a bear). If you haven't tried it before, I encourage you to give it a go.

Black Bean & Salsa Soup

Friday, January 18, 2013

With the recent cold snap and "winter weather event" that has blown through, a nice tasty soup is in order. This one is perfect because it only has a few ingredients and they are ones you likely already have on hand. And bonus! If you wanted to try the Crock Pot Black Bean Soup, but just weren't up for the extended time frame associated with crock pottery-ism, this recipe is for you!



Black Bean and Salsa Soup
1 medium onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
sour cream
chopped green onions
  1. In a stock pot, saute minced onion and garlic in olive oil.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine two cans of beans, broth, salsa, and cumin. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add the bean mixture and third can of beans to the stock pot and heat over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
  4. Ladle soup into individual bowls and top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with green onions. Serve with your favorite bread.
Notes: 
This recipe is perfect to use up partial jars of salsa that hibernate in your refrigerator. I don't know about you, but I prefer chunky salsa, and my husband prefers runny salsa (I believe this is called "restaurant style"). Anyhootle, this means that we are usually stuck with two half-empty jars at any given time because one person can only eat so much salsa.

Also, I am not adverse to substituting the beans in this recipe. You will note that there are a few lighter colored beans in the photo above. That is because I substituted one can of black-eyed peas. With all of the spices and salsa in the recipe, you can't even taste the difference.

I Hope This Just Means They're Tired . . .

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Otherwise, you got some serious splainin' to do:


And, Harris Teeter, as appetizing as these sound (no, really) I don't want the first one, let alone the second one for free. But thanks for offering. (I guess.)

What I Didn't Know About Babies Until I Had One

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A couple of gals that I work with are pregnant, so I got to thinking that there is all sorts of information that I know now that I definitely did NOT know before I had kids. And I thought I would impart it to you, our loyal fans:


  • Just like Ross on Friends, you really can sing Top 40 music to your baby and get away with it. Baby won't know any different, and quite frankly, what could you possibly sing that would be any worse than a song about a baby falling out of a tree on a windy day? I sang "Brother Aidyn" (a modified version of Sister Christian) and "Free Fallin'" (also slightly modified) to my boys and as far as I know, they are not scarred for life.
  • Babies play with unconventional things. Sure, you can get him the best and most expensive toys, but those toys will sit in the corner collecting dust while Baby prefers to play with plastic water bottles and your dog's bones. Hey, at least you may have an avid recycler and animal lover on your hands, right?
  • Every baby is a precious angel to his own parents and grandparents. You can tell yourself that you will not spoil your child and that he will always behave appropriately in public. The answers to those misguided thoughts are "yes, you will" and "no, he won't," respectively. And that's OK.
  • No matter how many furbabies you've raised before this baby arrives and no matter how you've been able to tell them apart (even in the middle of the night when it's pitch black), there will come the inevitable day when you call Baby by the dog's name. As long as you're not in public, you can just smile to yourself and know that you were warned. If you are in public, I suggest that you start praying that your dog is around and doing something worthy of being called by his name.
  • If your husband changes a dirty diaper, he will not die. More important, if he can change one diaper without dying, he can change multiple diapers. Changing diapers is not a slow-acting poison; the more exposure he has to them, the more of an immunity he will build up. You do not want to deprive your husband of this immunity.
  • Babies will head butt you. Babies' heads are harder than you think.

I hope these tips come in handy if a baby is in your near future. Heck, I find that the last one comes in handy if you are even in the vicinity of a baby sometimes . . . 

Holiday Road III: A Video Diary by Char

A few years back on New Year's, I let Charlotte stay up for the big event.  We went to a diner, blew up balloons and lit firecrackers.  Ever since then, she gets so excited at New Year's and always asks for balloons!  So, this year, on New Year's Eve, we did our usual run to the closest grocem to raid their tiny New Year's selection and came away with noisemakers, hats and sparkling grape juice, oh and these things:


New Year's Eve was our last day in Florida, so we went to my fave, St. Augustine.  Howard calls it a tourist trap, but I always love to go there and walk around.  There is this little bakery that I always like to go to.  This time we actually found it!  (That is not always the case.)  As we were waiting in line, Charlotte took the baby's order:



At this time of year, they have a special tour of lights, so we purchased our tickets and warmed up our singing voices,


and positioned our 3D glasses.





Howard got to sing his favorite Christmas song, (numerous times, actually)


as we took in the lights and greeted our fellow tourist trap victims with a, "Happy New Year!"












Carrie Bradshaw Has Still Got It

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Or should that be Carrie Bradshaw Has Always Had It? I don't know, I usually struggle with prequels, but I certainly have no trouble with this one.

I have a confession to make. My guilty pleasure has always been CW programming - you know, TV shows whose "broadcasts are intended for teen viewing audiences." Yes, THOSE shows. I have watched every single episode of Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, and Hart of Dixie not to mention Dawson's Creek, Angel, Charmed, and Felicity when they were on the WB (the CW's precursor).

So, that to say, when the CW announced that they would be airing The Carrie Diaries, I was beside myself.


What's not to love? Teenage Carrie Bradshaw? Check! 1980s in all its glory? Check! Carrie's beloved voice overs throughout the show? Check! Carrie's write-ups at the show's end? Check! (Of course, as the title would suggest, this is before her computer days and the write-ups are in actual diaries, but they are still window-side as we have come to know and love.)

In episode one, Carrie has already befriended a pre-Samantha friend in Manhattan, who reminds me a lot of Downtown Julie Brown with her perky personality and spiffy accent. And Carrie has three other close friends along for the ride, that I'm sure we'll find out more about as the show progresses.

All in all, I know I will be glued to this show on Mondays at 8:00. As long as you take it for what it is (nothing more than a lighthearted look back at one of your favorite characters), I'm sure you'll enjoy it too. That is, of course, if you tend to enjoy shows that are well beyond your age bracket as well. :-)

Holiday Road II

And so we meet again...


I realized, recently, I have almost zero recent pictures of myself, so I put Howard in charge of that on our Christmas Vacation to Florida.


Charlotte has also become quite the photographer/cinematographer.

Howard was of the opinion, before we left, that it would be too cold to get in the water.  As the official packer, we specifically discussed packing swimsuits, not for the ocean really, but just in case we went to an indoor pool.




It was in the 70s at this state park, so we proceeded to roll up the jeans.



I hadn't noticed until I was going back through the pics how much Charlotte and her long legs resembled this bird.  lol.  Anyhoo, even though we were ill prepared with swimsuits, I always have my trusty picnic blanket:


This was Emmers first time at the beach.  She didn't know what to make of the sand and kind of waddled around awkwardly on it.  I was a little leary of taking her to the beach because when Charlotte was her age I remember her taking off down the beach and having to break into a run just to catch her, but Emma stuck right by Miss Charlotte, 


and posed nicely for a pic before we were even ready, 

and overall I would say Emma Lola conquered the beach.