Archives for August 2009

The Smell of Cookies No Longer Lingers


This weekend took the family to Traverse City – we attended some seminars, spent some time with the kids at Great Wolf Lodge, ate a lot of greasy hotel food (seriously, would it hurt ANYONE to put fruit on a buffet? Thank you and you’re welcome), and when there was some time, I decided I’d like to drive past my grandparents’ old cottage.

My grandparents lived in both Florida and Michigan – this wasn’t something that only started when they grew older – they did it back when my dad and my aunt were younger. They’d spend the school year in Florida and mosey up north to Michigan in the summers. Later in life, they would spent about equal time in both states.

When my grandfather died in 1989, my grandmother continued to make the trek each year – often accompanied by her sister, my great aunt.

My Great Aunt passed away two years ago in April. My grandmother died a month to the day after her. The last time I saw my grandmother’s cottage was at her memorial service, two years ago in July. While we were in town, I decided I wanted to see the place again. Already, the visit was steeped in memories – driving past the restaurant my grandmother would take us for breakfast. The place she took me shopping for dresses. The roads and the signs and the familiarity enveloped me.

We approached the dirt path driveway and I saw their sign with their last name and house number still hanging up, and it was like an unexpected twinge. I thought for sure the sign would have been removed. We drove towards the cottage and came to a stop in front of the house. Nothing had changed. Sure, unfamiliar trucks were in the drive – but the structure, the face of the cottage was the same as it’d always been. It was a relief.

It felt weird to have a nostalgia and to be hit so hard with emotion for my grandmother – we weren’t even close. She didn’t much care for me, and I knew it and that was confirmed at her memorial service. But yet, I’m like her in a lot of ways. Part of me thinks maybe she’d have liked seeing that I love to make cookies too – that I’m most at ease when I’m measuring and mixing and baking – like her. Part of me wonders if that would have made any difference.

And part of me is sad because my daughters are these spectacularly awesome little people – and my grandparents won’t know them. And vice versa.

Such a flood of emotions at the end of a driveway.

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

It’s a part of life – the circle, if you will – and I’m okay now. It’s just amazing how a memory can take over your brain, and make you wish for what never was, what you never knew, and that surely, things would be different if they were back with us. Maybe it would be, maybe it wouldn’t be. But we don’t get do-overs. Sometimes we just end up at the end of a driveway, wishing things had been different, better, or that we had more time.

Thursday Ten: In the Home Stretch Edition

1. Only one more full week until school starts. {big sigh of relief} The kids are bored and antsy and ready to get back at it, and I’m ready to get a set schedule in place – one in which I am more clearly able to separate when I’ve got my work hat on and when I’ve got my mom hat on. Assured, both hats are adorable and I look completely stunning in either one – but the constant switching of hats messes up my hair.

2. If you haven’t yet contributed to Lucy Kate’s care package, you can still do so. The response so far has been tremendous. It always restores my faith in humanity to see people selflessly reaching out to others going through tough times.

3. No guitar lesson for the  next few weeks. “Summer break” for a few, and then back at it the week the kids start school again. I miss it – because it’s the one thing that I do truly for myself. When I start again in September, it will be my one year guitarversary.

4. I’m kind of wondering how Rick Astley feels about the whole “rickroll” thing. If I was him, I think I’d be kinda giddy — because if it wasn’t for that, would anyone born after 1990 even know who he was?

5. I’m going to miss Project Runway tonight. I’m not happy about that little turn of events. Quite sad, actually. But, I’m sure they’ll repeat the episode eleventy-five times, so I’ll catch it before next week’s airs.

6. New music this week: I’m loving the new Ingrid Michaelson album, “Everybody”. It was released on Tuesday and I felt like some lighthearted music and it did the trick. Very catchy hooks, and I’ve been humming “Everybody” for days.

7. I think I already like The Princess’s 2nd grade teacher. She sent a pretty awesome letter to the parents – and from the sounds of it – I think her teaching philosophy meshes with what I want for my daughter. I’ve already volunteered to help out WITH AN AT-HOME PROJECT throughout the year. I’m thrilled that there are at-home volunteer opportunities for parents.

8. I don’t really enjoy in-class volunteering because I’m not a very patient person and I have never wanted to be a teacher. Acting even remotely in that capacity to twenty-some children doesn’t come easily. Admittedly, because things come so easily to The Princess, I’m not used to explaining things in detail. I’m the first to admit that teachers deserve EVERY PENNY of their (MUCH TOO SMALL) salaries. I know I couldn’t do it.

9. I decided I’d try a new method of keeping my house clean. Every day, ONE ROOM of my house gets special treatment to get super clean. Which has worked really well… til today. Today is bathroom cleaning day. I haven’t done it yet. Not only that – but the kids have TRASHED the living room, so basically I’m about ready to curl up in a ball and start sucking my thumb. GAH. I can’t think when it’s so messy. When school starts, some of these toys will mysteriously disappear during the school days.

10. We are OUT. OF. PEANUT. BUTTER. This is a problem of epic proportions (and laziness). I’ll have you know, I just scraped the last littlest bit out of the jar so I could have a slice of peanut butter toast. I stopped just short of using my finger to sweep out the remains of the PB (creamy, in case you were thinking of asking – if I wanted crunchy, I’d just throw a handful of peanuts between two slices of bread). I didn’t do it though, but oh, my toast was woefully inadequate with only a small smear of peanut butter. And I’m too lazy to go to the store.

TIL Tuesday, Volume 2

These are all products and services that I have bought on my own (unless otherwise stated). These are things I love for their awesomeness and for their usefulness, and blah blah blah. No one is paying me to say nice things about these products. I don’t believe in kissing butt anyway, so, there’s that.

1. Nike+
If I can elevate the nerd factor in something, I love it a lot more. This lets me track my distance, my pace, my best mile. So, yeah, it was with some glee last night that I noticed my mile time was approximately 30 seconds-ish faster than my last go ’round. WHOOOOOHOO. Makes me sweat – check. Appeals to the nerd portion of my brain – check. Involves technology – check. FULL OF WIN.

2. My So-Called Life
Did you know “My So Called Life” (MSCL) is now streaming on Hulu? This show started my freshman year of college and I was hooked. I loved Angela and Jordan and Rayanne and… God, yeah. Even now, I still get nostalgic when I think of this show. I still have lines that rumble through my head occasionally – and if I hear “Late at Night” by Buffalo Tom? Total flashbacks. In the best way.

3. Aveda Smooth Infusion
Hey Aveda people… CALL ME. I love this stuff. Actually, I’ve loved every Aveda product I’ve tried so far. And it smells sooooo good. But the Smooth Infusion line is especially awesome, particularly if you’re like me and have “squiggly hair” (as Pumpkin says). This definitely cuts the frizz – and my hair needs all the help it can get.

4. Cheetos
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about Cheetos at some point, I mean… HELLO? Cheetos are my favorite. Unfortunately, I do not partake of their artificially orange goodness nearly as frequently as I would like because that might involve having to replace my whole wardrobe with stretchy pants and muumuu’s, but ON OCCASION, I do enjoy a Cheeto. Crunchy being far superior to the Puffs. Also, Cheetos Marketing peeps – I’d have directly linked to your website, but my goodness, it’s a loud and slow-loading monstrosity of a website, so… NO GO.



Sarah’s Note: Steve Whitaker has given me permission to plagiarize copy his post here. I have followed Lucy Kate Hopkins’s dad, Josh, on Twitter for quite awhile now – and wanted to take the time to reprint Steve’s message here to spread this message even further. You can follow Lucy Kate on Twitter or her blog (yes, even babies need blogs). Please take the time to read the below, and help out if you can.


If you follow Josh Hopkins (@thedayhascome) or his baby daughter Lucy Kate (@lucykatehopkins), you know that Lucy Kate has been in the hospital for about a week now. Josh and his wife have been there by her side the entire time, and we’ve been sending our thoughts and prayers and wishes and love to them. I don’t think most of us can imagine what it must be like to go through what they’re experiencing, but through it all, they’ve been an amazing, strong family.

Staying in a hospital for an extended period of time is trying. The comforts of home are too far both in distance and thought to be of any use. Some of us have been working to put together a way for everyone to do a little more; let’s send Josh’s family something to make it even just a tiny bit easier for them to get through this tough time.

There are two ways to help:

1. Send The Hopkins Family an item from this wishlist that I put together. We’ve taken suggestions from Josh and others, and would love to hear what you think should be added. If there’s something specific you want to send that’s not on the list, just tell me (whitaker at virginia dot edu) and I’ll add it so you can send it yourself.

2. Looking to help, but not with any specific item? Sean Hussey is handling donations through Paypal. Sean and I will take all the money pooled and use it to get something on the list or something else you might suggest. Send your donations to Sean via sean at seanhussey dot com. He’ll send you a confirmation and let you know for what your donation was used.

If you can think of any other ways to help, we’re all ears. There are many of us who admire Josh for his sense of humor, his strength, and his love for his little girl. Let’s help them out and give something back.

Times Have Changed, I Guess

Yesterday as I was waiting in the check out line at Target, I noticed the girl behind me in line with a mother-type-person with a cart full of home gear. As she loaded tons of new plates, mugs, silverware, linens and so forth onto the belt, she spoke about college move-in time and dorm stuff. And I thought to myself: REALLY? You are going off to a college DORM as though you are cleaning out a wedding registry?

When I went to college (back with the dinosaurs, I walked uphill both ways, in the snow, blah blah blah), I went to Meijer and bought these plastic green plates (still have them – DURABLE FTW!), cheap plastic blue bowls, some cheap silverware that cost about a buck per place setting, and a roll of paper towels. Sure, I received nice sheets and towels for graduation gifts, but the point was – I didn’t look at moving into college as “setting up house”. I got the essentials and nothing more. My style was more like “roughing it – dormitory style”. That’s about as close to camping as I get.

So, I wonder now, as I think about this girl in Target: Is this what teens leaving for college do now? Are they stocking up on formal dishes (she had six place settings, no less – WHERE ON EARTH DOES ONE PUT ALL THAT STUFF IN A DORM? I’m sure they haven’t gotten bigger. Also, who is entertaining six for a formal sit down meal in a dorm room? Hmmm.)? Is it a different experience now than it was in the 90s? Or still, when did I become that lady who eavesdrops on the people behind her in line at Target?

Thursday Ten: Make It Work Edition

1. Finally. Project Runway comes back tonight. It’s now moved to Lifetime, and I’m kinda curious if that will make a difference. I just read that Lindsay Lohan would be a guest judge tonight. Guess that means the designers better include leggings in their designs. Gah.

2. I have passed on most of the planning for my sister’s bachelorette party to her best friend. It’s not my thing – I’m letting the young one do most of the work (but boy howdy, there will be another post about it – because I purposely had such a low key party for mine – I didn’t want to walk through a bar with glow in the dark phalluses pinned to my clothes – and I have a really hard time getting on board with doing that to someone else. I will likely have to put my big-sister foot down at some point).

3. They’ve made a movie of “Where the Wild Things Are”. It comes out on my birthday. I am oddly excited – can’t wait to see it. Anyone else?

4. In guitar lesson today, I played “Outside” all the way through before moving on to “Umbrella” – which The Princess really loves.

5. On the way home from my lesson, I gave in to an intense craving for beef jerky and stopped at a gas station. I hate buying food at gas stations. Also, the cashier looked a little like Vanilla Ice circa 1993.

6. The Princess’s school said that we’d have information on next year’s teacher this week. It’s Thursday. No go. Part of me wonders if they are planning this so that people receive them on Saturday so they don’t have to deal with related phone calls about the teacher situation. We’re all curious though, who she’ll spend the next year with. I’m sort of impatient.

7. There is a dead frog at the end of my driveway. It looks like it’s been run over a few times. I almost stepped on it with my bare feet today. Gross. (Sorry for sharing).

8. I can’t believe we’re just weeks away from completing the 365 project. I can’t believe I’ve remembered to take a picture every day. It’s been an AWESOME experience, and YES, I’m doing it again next year.

9. Did I mention Project Runway comes back tonight? {hee hee} Is anyone else excited, or am I just that big of a dork? (Shhh, don’t answer that).

10. Boo on Mother nature for raining during my workout today. I hate running on the treadmill. Bonus: I did get to watch “When Harry Met Sally” while working out. So, it’s a trade off for sure.

Things I Love Tuesday*

This indicates a slow news day/writer’s block for me. The products I am about to mention are things I actually adore – and I’m not being compensated at all for my love of this stuff. It’s all stuff I’ve found and purchased on my own, blah blah blah.

1. L’Oreal EverPure Shampoo & Conditioner
Yes. I color my hair, not that you’d really ever know because I don’t do extreme colors. I basically dye it my natural color with a smidge of a twist to hide the few pesky grey hairs that think they belong on my noggin. They thing I hate is that dyeing my hair makes my already thick hair feel THICKER. And it’s not a good thing. This stuff? It smoothes it out. And it smells sooooooo good. Evidently, it has UV filters in it to protect your hair from the sun – really, I don’t know about that (I can’t tell). But in general? My hair feels good. Love this stuff.

2. Almond Extract
I use it instead of vanilla when I make chocolate chip cookies. It’s just enough of a difference to make my cookies stand out from the pack. And that’s important. I take cookies VERY SERIOUSLY.

3. Covers on YouTube
Yeah, I love originals – but sometimes I like the covers better. I caught a link to Kina Grannis and her sister’s covering “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” (Death Cab for Cutie) – which made me check out the original. I love this version though.

4. Crayola Window Crayons

I bought these for me, actually. Thought it’d be fun to leave notes for my family on the windows and mirrors around the house. I keep them on my desk, and the girls ask permission to use them. They’re pretty awesome for rainy days and wash right off with a damp rag or Windex. And how cute is this?


What are you loving today?

*This abbreviates nicely into TIL Tuesday. Hush, hush. Keep it down, now.

Thursday Ten: No, Schools In Michigan Don’t Start For A Few More Weeks.

1. Yeah, all you fancy pantses in other parts of the country with your kids going back to school this week…. Yeah. You’re awesome. School’s here don’t start until after Labor Day. Meh. A few more weeks of juggling and then we can all return to the routines we crave. All of us. “I’m bored” is getting to be a common refrain around here — except from me. I don’t say it – I’m too busy to be bored.

2. RIP Les Paul.

3. Music of the week: OF COURSE, you’ve picked up Chris Mann’s EP already. I know you have. But the other song in my ear is “Sideways” by Citizen Cope. Also, some Matt Hires courtesy of my friend who likes fill my iTunes with cool music from guys named Matt.

4. Still working on Staind in guitar lesson. Today, we tuned my guitar down a half step and so I got to play it as it was meant to be played. It’s still pretty amazing to play “real stuff” when a year ago at this time, I didn’t have a guitar, knew no chords and was soon to be starting from square one. Would I love to be further than I am right now? Of course. But even so, progress is amazing.

5. I think I hate cooking even more in the summer time. We’ll be picking up a rotisserie chicken tonight for dinner. Easy, yummy. And doesn’t involve me turning on the stove. Bonus.

6. New addiction. Barbecue flavored Popchips. Yuuuuuuum.

7. Starting the planning of my sister’s bachelorette party – boy, there are so many ways to make a bachelorette party tacky, aren’t there? I have my sister’s friend helping me and yet… I’m somewhat alarmed. My sister is going to either love it or be totally MORTIFIED.

8. I’ve got the nifty little pouch to hold my Nike+ sensor on my shoe. And now I just need to calibrate that puppy and get started. Anyone else using Nike+? I figure if people can see how slow I move it will motivate me to get my booty moving more.

9. I painted my fingernails red last night and hate it. My favorite look for them is bare. Or my dark blue OPI color (my fingernails are so short, I can wear blue). Do you have a signature polish look?

10. My guitar needs new strings. I left my lesson and my fingertips were totally black. Guess I’ll need to have that done. Soonish. Of course, I don’t know how to do it myself so I have to have someone else do it – I hate that. I like to know how to do things. One of these days I’ll learn.

Where I Remind You What Yesterday Was….

 Yesterday was August 11.

That was a big day – you remember this, right? You remember me saying that something big was happening on August 11. I’m sure you remember.

Well, yeah.

Yesterday, Chris Mann’s EP came out. This was supposed to be out MONTHS ago – and I’ve been waiting for it since first hearing his music this winter before BlissDom and then seeing him perform and meeting him in Nashville. Was able to see him again a few weeks ago in Chicago – and you know what – seeing someone live really dictates how talented they are. And his voice? Swoon. Flawless. Smooth. (And it really doesn’t hurt that he’s CUTE).

Yeah. Chills. And the EP is good. All of it is good. It includes a cover of Kanye’s “Heartless” (sneak peek the video while you’re waiting for your download to complete).

So go forth and download. Whether you use iTunes, Amazon, or whatever your poison.

 Download Chris Mann’s awesome EP HERE

Bonus points if you can find me in this video.

There’s An App for That?


The other night, a bunch of peeps posted screen shots of their iPhones (dorks we may be, yes). One of the things that it made me realize is that I haven’t really altered my phone a whole lot from its factory settings. For example, I almost never use the iPod function on my phone. I should probably move that little iPod doohickey somewhere else and sub it out with the Text function, because I use that one all the time.

Also, YouTube? That can get the boot to page four. I almost never watch videos – and if I do, it’s linked from somewhere.

But. I’m lazy.

What I will say is that I LOVE Shazam. It deserves its page one spot. The Weather Channel (free) app is alright, but their accuracy is pretty typical for weather peeps (which is to say that it predicted storms all afternoon yesterday and it was W R O N G).

I love the Voice Memo function (not shown, on my page 2) – and I use it often in guitar lesson, and to record goofy messages to my friends that I email (I fully embrace my dorktastic nature). I have apps for a lot of different things, but so few get regular use.

Sadly, (Men, avert your eyes) the cycle tracker gets regular use because it’s both fascinating and disturbing at the same time. Want to know when you’ll get your period every month for THE NEXT TWELVE MONTHS? Yeah. There’s even a little setting so you can email it to someone (I haven’t done this, though that would be a little like, “Hey You: Stock up on ice cream, Midol and then STAY OUT OF MY WAY!”).


ColorSplash is the one I mentioned in my Thursday Ten recently. You can take your pics to black and white, and then colorize certain elements pretty easily. I like it because it’s fairly easy and amusing. (Comfortini, anyone?).

I recently downloaded a To-Do list app, as well as the Couch to 5K app (in an attempt get back into the whole running thing since I’ve been a bit lazy about running this summer).

If you have a favorite iPhone app, tell me about it. What does it do? What makes it worthy?