Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Changes, Closed Doors and Opened Windows etc...

As I sit here writing this post I am starting to freak out just a bit.
BIG changes are headed my way in the very near future.

I am getting really excited for lots of reasons, but freaking out for just as many. I am NOT ready, and I am not sure there are enough hours left in the days ahead to get as ready as I should be. Maybe my insomnia will serve me well in the next 10 days...
DID YOU JUST READ THAT???
AHHHHHHH...I only have 10 days!!!!  

Sorry, just another momentary lapse of sanity.
It's been happening a lot lately.

I have lived in Colorado for 42 years, that is a VERY long time. I have been in the Denver metro area since 1985 when I was just a young lass fresh out of High School (4 days out to be exact). And now I am about about to embark on a journey that will take me to a new place, and new adventure and hopefully a new job. It has not been an easy decision to make. In fact it has been a really hard one. But I need to start again, to find my purpose again, to feel needed and useful again.

A year and a half of unemployment has taken its toll. I feel stuck, in a rut, stagnant, depressed and just about any other phrase you can think of for ICKY. So when I found out I was going to have to move anyway (darn economy + darn housing market + darn unemployment = darn foreclosure) it set in motion a lot of things. If I had to find a new place to live anyway why not make a fresh start someplace new, right?


 I rolled around the idea of moving to Utah to look for work. I even planned a trip to go out and stay with friends and scout out the area. That trip fell through when stuff came up here that I had to deal with (house junk) so I was still thinking about it when my friend told my daughter who was visiting Provo from Cedar City to, "Just tell your mom to pick a date and we will be there to help her move, and she can stay with us." I wasn't there so I don't know exactly how the conversation went down but that was the general idea. When Ashleigh told me I thought, really?? You know how friends and acquaintances always say stuff in conversations but you are not sure if they really mean it. Things like, "Let's do lunch sometime." or "Call me if you need anything at all." or "Sure, I will watch your six kids for a weekend." etc. We have all said things like that. I honestly think that for most of us we do mean them in theory, we just hope we are never actually called on it. Am I right?

So I thought about it, and I prayed about it and then I called my friend Angie. I asked her. "Are you sure?" and you know what she said YES! I cannot express how thankful (tis the season for thankfulness, right) I am to have such a wonderful friend. She and her husband and her entire family are willing to make huge sacrifices to help me. I don't know how I will ever repay them (but I am willing to cook, clean, do laundry and take care of children so that might help.)

Photo by Patti Merrill
So meet my new family. I will be their new Sister Wife (JUST KIDDING...we are not THAT kind of Mormons)! I love them and have missed them so much since they left Denver 5 years ago. I am excited and I hope I don't overstay my welcome (I promise it won't be 5 years).

I already have a couple of leads on jobs in the area. There are lots of tech companies and many of the BIG craft companies in the area, my two strengths, so hopefully finding a job there will be easier than it has proved to be here. My dream job is to work on the corporate side of one of the major craft companies, and I WILL do it, just give me time! So if you know anyone looking to hire an eager worker in the Salt lake City/Provo area let me know.

To all my Colorado friends and family I say so long, because I will never really say Good-Bye to Colorado. I will miss so many of the people and things here. I have made some amazing friends and had some awesome experiences but as I prepare to leave I choose think of my life here as a chapter in the great book that is my life.

I am not closing the book,
I am only turning the page.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

PINtastic

I have a new obsession, I may need an intervention soon, or at least a 12 step program. What is my new obsession you might ask?

If you haven't been sucked in yet I would be happy to send you an invite. What is it? It's like a virtual bulletin board where you can "pin" ideas you find on your internet surfing rides. For a creative person like me it is hugely addictive. I can find TONS of ideas for things I would like to make, recipes to try, fashion ideas, DIY tutorials, photography, quotes, wish list finds, dream places and living spaces...I could go on and on. You can categorize and name each of your "boards" so things are easy to find later. You can also "stalk" other pinners by following them and get even more ideas. I can safely say I have pinned more ideas, recipes and things than I could ever do or try but I still  love finding new things to pin. Did I say obsessed?


So last night as the snow started to fall I decided to actually make something I saw on Pinterest. Here are the results...


I pinned this link to MICROWAVE CARAMELS. The great thing about Pinterest is that when you "pin" something you choose a photo to represent what you are pinning. SO much better than just a bookmark because the photo then links back to the original site and you can actually remember why you saved it in the first place.


Anyway, I gathered my ingredients.

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sweetened condensed mink
1/2 cup light corn syrup

I dumped them all into my Pyrex measuring cup

The recipe says to cook in the micro for 6 minutes stirring every two minutes. Since my brown sugar was a little on the hard side I only cooked it for 1 minute the first time so I could blend it all together. After that first minute I set it for another minute and stirred again. So far so good. Round three I set the timer for the recommended 2 minutes. And THIS is what I got when I opened the microwave door...
Ooey, gooey, boiled over stickiness! I scraped what I could back into the bowl with a spatula and wiped the microwave clean. This time I set the timer for just 30 seconds. That worked pretty well and I continued stirring every 30 seconds. After 6 minutes it didn't seem to be as caramelized as I was hoping so I continued my 30 second stirring intervals until it had been a total of 8 minutes.

Now that I had the caramel I had another idea. I had found these babies at the grocery store earlier.
Caramel covered marshmallows sounded pretty good to me so decided to dip them in. 
I thought I had some lollipop sticks but I couldn't find them 
so I had to use toothpicks (note to self get the lollipop sticks for next time).


Now that they were covered in caramel there was only one logical next step. Can you guess where I am going here? Here's a hint, my favorite See's candy is the Scotchmallow.

Bring on the chocolate!


So after a second dip into the chocolate this is what they looked like.
They could be prettier but they taste divine!


I think if I ever do these again (and I think i will because they are SO good) I will use the regular big marshmallows. These were a bit too much of a good thing (if that is possible).

Now back to Pinterest so see what I can make next!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

In an instant...

Over the past few days and weeks I have been reminded how life can change...in an instant. Sometimes the changes are subtle and sometimes they are more profound but there are those moments which you know you will never be the same.

Tonight I had one of those moments, in a Walmart. Let me first say that I am not a big Walmart fan. I much prefer Target for many reasons. Especially in the area I live. Ashleigh and I have for years called the store I went to tonight "Ghetto Walmart". It is small, always crowded and under staffed and usually not very clean. I hadn't stepped inside that store for 2-3 years at least.


A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that they were remodeling "Ghetto Walmart" and I stopped for something really quick. I was in and out in under 15 minutes, not too bad. After I got home I realized that I had bought the wrong thing. I placed the receipt in the bag with the merchandise and put it in my car to return (where it has been for the past couple weeks).

Tonight after enjoying dinner and a movie at Cinema Grill with a friend and her son I decided to swing by "Ghetto Walmart" and get back my $10 bucks.  It was just before 10:00pm and the store was pretty quiet. I went to the customer service counter and the return process was slow but uneventful. With my $10 bucks in hand I decided to go ahead and pick up a few necessities while I was there. While looking down the isles I ran into an older gentleman employee who asked,
"How are you doing this evening?"
"I am good, how are you?" I replied.
He reminded me of my dad. Even more so when he said, "I am good but kind of slow today."
I laughed and told him, "We all have those days."
To which he replied, "Well  I am 86 so I have them more often."
I laughed again. "Today is my dad's 86th birthday".
"Mine was on Wednesday."
"Well then, Happy Birthday".

Our conversation was cut short by commotion and people talking and running. I didn't know what was happening. A female associate came toward us and said,
" There are gunmen in the store!" Unsure where they were or what I should do I started moving away from the front end of the store.  I stopped and looked for the older gentleman employee, but never saw him again.  On my way towards the back I ran into a young mother and her two daughters, probably about 4 and 7 years old. By this time the employees had vanished so I quietly whispered to her what I had been told. The older of the two girls heard me and started to cry, obviously understanding what I had said. She was visibly shaken and scared. Without thinking the young mother and I huddled toward the side of the isle and knealt down, sheltering the two girls between our bodies. She reached for her phone to call 911 (which I  am sure others were already doing as well). It was just then that I realized that I didn't even have my phone. I had left it charging in my car outside.

We were kneeling in the isle when another store associate told us to go to the back of the store.  The two little girls were crying so I took the older girl by the hand and stayed next to her mom who picked up the smaller girl and we  followed other customers and employees through the back rooms and out the back of the store. At this point we had no idea what was going on inside. Were the gunmen still in there? Was everyone ok?

After a few minutes we heard the sirens telling us help was on it's way. It was the waiting that was the hardest, no one came to tell us what was going on or what to do. I was scared but holding it together so I could help reassure the girls that we were safe and everything would be ok (but I wasn't really sure myself).

I have no idea how long we were out there, it always seems like an eternity when adrenaline has taken over. I am wising I had my phone. I think about my loved ones and wish I could contact them. I don't feel like I am safe and lots of "what if's" run though my mind as I try to keep calm. The mom of the two girls makes a couple of calls, letting her loved ones know what is going on. She too is scared but keeping a brave face for her girls.

Eventually, we are escorted back inside but told we need to stay in a certain part of the store while the police secure the area. A few employees start talking about "last time" and that they thought it was the same guys that had held one of them at gunpoint during a previous incident. Obviously this had happened before. Other employees try to keep us as calm and comfortable as possible, bringing bottled water and folding chairs. Police officers come back to ask  if anyone saw the gunmen and take those who had to begin getting their statements. I was lucky not to have seen anything. Whispering starts that they were unable to catch the gunmen after they ran away on foot.

More waiting. The girls next to me are calming down. We talk about "normal" things and even laugh at the fact that the older of the the two girls has lost one of her shoes in all the commotion...only to be found later in mom's purse. Upon finding the missing shoe in her purse the mom also finds a roll of ribbon she stuffed in there but doesn't want to take without paying for. I check my purse too and sure enough the hair clips I had been looking at just before my conversation with the old gentlemen are tucked neatly inside. I set them on a nearby shelf. That conversation seems like an eternity ago, and I think again about my dad. More waiting.

Finally, the assistant manager comes back and lets us know that the store and the perimeter have been secured and that we may leave. I walk with the stream of other customers toward the front of the store. The younger of the two girls grabs my hand (we're friends now). Her mother gives me a hug and tells me, "Thank you". I tell her, "You're welcome" knowing she and her girls helped me as much or more than I helped them.  We walk under crime tape that is being help up by a police officer. Lights flash in all directions and I try and remember where I parked my car. The older of the two girls runs toward a tall and anxious looking man in the parking lot, "Daddy!" I smile knowing they will be ok, but realize I don't even know their names.

I reach the car and search for my phone. I see a missed call from Ashleigh, and dial her number. It's good to hear her voice. I relay my evening's story and she tells me I need to move out of Aurora and I think I agree. I drive home and pull into my garage and quickly push the button to close the door.

Was I ever in any real danger, probably not. But, I was scared for my life just the same. This evening's experience has made me look at things (especially that particular Walmart) differently.

I am finally home, but forever changed.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dudleychicks Do Disneyland

Well so much for keeping up on my blog...stuff happens!  Lots of stuff actually but I have not been good about documenting it all here (for the three of you who actually read my blog).

But I did want to do a special post on the recent convergence of the Dudleychicks on Disneyland. I went to the CTMH convention which just happened to be held at Disneyland this year. Be warned it is a long post with LOTS of pics. Since Ashleigh didn't come home to work this summer but opted to stay in Utah I decided she should drive to CA and meet me for a couple of days of family fun. She agreed, but wasn't sure she could get the time off.  It took some creative maneuvering and sweet talking her supervisors in order to get the time off but she figured it out.

I headed towards California by air on Tuesday morning while Ashleigh took to the open road.

We converged here... ready for some fun!

The Disneyland Hotel



Unfortunately, our room was not quite ready so we had to wander around a bit,
but look who Ashleigh ran into!

Once our room was ready we grabbed our bags and headed to the Adventure Tower. The room was awesome. We loved all the little Disney touches everywhere but my favorite part was the headboard that lights up and plays, "When You Wish Upon A Star". So cool!





We knew we had limited time so we made haste settling in and headed for Disney's California Adventure.

Now when I was younger my father lived in CA and I would visit him for a month every summer. We always went to Disneyland but I think the last time I was there I was 16...that was just a FEW years ago. In those days what is now California Adventure was a parking lot. Now it's a hopping park full of fun (but partially under construction to add a new front entrance and Cars section). We had dinner reservations at Ariel's Grotto later in the evening but had some time to kill so we headed for one of our favorite rides. We knew it was a favorite because we have ridden the one at MGM in DisneyWorld many times.
Because we were staying at the above mentioned hotel we were given magic tickets known as FASTPASSES. These babies let us skip the hour wait in line...love that! Here we are just before we got on the ride.
These are our scared faces, but really we were excited.

We screamed and laughed like little girls and remembered when we once rode this ride lots of times in a row on New Years Eve in DisneyWorld. Good Times! Next we headed over to It's Tough To Be a Bug and donned our honorary bug spectacles.
Finally, our tummies were reminding us of our dinner reservations so we headed over to Ariel's Grotto.
Dinner was delicious!


The Menu

Yummy salad

Antipasto

Shrimp and Clams

Fresh Sourdough Bread flower with dipping sauces

My Tri-tip entree

Ashleigh's Fish

The desserts were divine!
With our dinner we got priority seating (which really meant standing) for The World of Color show. I have to say this show was probably my favorite show I have ever seen at a Disney park. Think Bellagio fountains on steroids with color and lasers and movie clips projected on walls of water. It was breathtaking! We were standing right up against the railing next to the water...front and center!






video


We were so close we got wet from the back splash of the fountains. This is what I looked like after. 
I guess I should have worn water proof mascara!

Day 2...
We got up leisurely on Wednesday and nursed the beautiful blister that had appeared on Ashleigh's foot before heading into Disneyland.  Angie and Vicki joined us for the day's adventures.




Our first ride of the day was Pirates of The Caribbean, followed by Splash Mountian. Vicki doesn't like the drops so she opted to wait for Angie, Ashleigh and I...little did we know how smart she was. I just wish we had left our backpacks with her. I think this is the absolute wettest I have ever gotten on a ride that wasn't at Water World. We got completely soaked! There was at least four inches of water in the bottom of our "log" when we got out. It took the camera a while to dry out but the phones were ok, thank goodness!!!

If you look closely at the pic you might just see a special appearance of the tie-dyed traveling underpants on this ride.


Next we went to new Orleans Square for a bread bowl of Clam Chowder, some Mickey Biegnets and a trip through the Haunted Mansion.


We took a short break from the fun to head back to the hotel and check in for convention
but were back just in time to watch the fireworks over the castle.
Mickey Fireworks shot by Vicki

All in all it was a blast and some much needed fun time with my girl. I just wish it had been longer.

Now it's time to say goodbye...M~I~C~K~E~Y    M~O~U~S~E.