Saturday, December 26, 2009


The Bickerson's  The children and I made it to California in one piece (translation: I did not kill them) yesterday. Very long day. But happy to be here with all my girls and mom.

It's unusually mild up here at moms. Yesterday we sat outside and watched the dogs play in the sun. Temps will most likely be upper 50's during the day and 30's in the morning. Kids will be in moms pool as often as they can! Mom has paperwhite narcissus that are just blooming OUTSIDE, but the maples have Fall red leaves.  She also has oranges on her tree... which she says she uses as lemons they are so sour. Her lemon tree gave nothing this year.

It got chilly enough when the sun went down that we ate at the dining room table. I don't think we've done that in all the time mom has owned the house when we have been out to visit! A big salad, crispy thin fries, steak (rare!) and carmelized onions with mushrooms... Oh... and champagne.

And since the kids and I had gotten up at about 2:30am Chicago time... The littlest Bickerson (LB) and I were ready for bed by 8pm Cali time!

Our week will be simple yet fun. Today the kids get to swim in the pool. LB is going to "help" mom change the filter. She is really only helping so she can get in faster!

Fort Bragg on Monday; Dharma Trading,  Lagunitas Brewery tour, and In-N-Out Burger on Tuesday; the girls will tie dye with mom on Wednesday; Thursday I think I am cooking Greek/Meditarranean for a small New Year's Eve get together... menu is still a work in process.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009

California... countdown 3,2,1...

Of course the weather is crap this week... so out flying experience can be that much more special!

Watching "A Muppet Christmas" with my girls.... we are enjoying Dagoba drinking chocolate (a gift in my 'stocking' from Brad) and some popcorn. It's really good 'cocoa'... organic... none of the fillers in Swiss Miss... full-on chocolate taste.

Am in the process of testing out the (3) phosphate/bleach free dishwasher soaps that listed on the consumer reports... will fill you in when I make my decision.

We leave for mom's in a couple days... suppose I should start packing!
Monday, December 21, 2009

Do you remember when?


I was having a moment of nostalgia today... thinking of my Christmas stocking when I was little...

We got oranges (the special ones my grandmother ordered in a box from Florida) and they were the best oranges... and I think I did not appreciate them enough.

My uncle John always brough bars of Hershey's Gold chocolate bars with almonds when they came from Pennsylvania... I got one in my stocking... and my grandmother hid the rest as though they were gold from Fort Knox.  I remember breaking off the first piece... the crunch of the almonds...

Our tree was always a blue spruce... not big, or full, or bushy... not quite a Charlie Brown tree... but I loved sitting by it... the way it smelled...  and going out with my grandfather to cut it down at the back of the field... and the lights were those huge colored bulbs... I swear there where only 12 lights on the tree... but I am sure there were more! As I am sure I would not appreciate it so much if I took part in cleaning up the needles after a few weeks of the dry wood stove heat!

I miss the house on Bear Swamp so much... seconds, minutes and days I wanted to wish away at the time... now I would happily be there again. What a sap I am!
Friday, December 18, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life (really, it is)

Can you believe it? Christmas is only a week away. This year we will be in the air on Christmas Day... but it will be worth it since Brianna and my mom are at the other end!

Unless you live under a rock... you have seen "It's a Wonderful Life" with James Stewart. I honestly do not remember seeing it until I was in my late 20's... but it has become a seasonal staple each year.

Tonight we are going to see it on the big screen... and yes I am bringing plenty of tissue... since I know I will be crying... in public, no less!

On an "Eco" note... I am working hard on my list... and when I mentioned the "Five Minute Shower" rule to The Middlest Bickerson... well let's just say there was some drama... because as she put it... 'There's no way I can wash my hair in 5 minutes!"...  Oy! Serentity Now!

I am by no means an expert on this.... but want to make a conscious effort to do what we can... where we can... it's gonna take research... and time.... but if we can do it... you can do it! Perhaps you already are... and if that's the case... please let me know how you work the color "Green" into your life.
Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hard Water... Hard Times

As a local brewery near us says... " Warrenville water eats appliances!"

Indeed it does. We have incredibly hard water. Drops of water on the car from the hose leave white circles. And it's a constant battle in the shower. I had gotten a new dishwasher last year (replacing the 18 year old one we had). I have to say... I hated how it cleaned (or didn't clean as the case may be) and the white powdery residue left behind. I tried several rinse agents, different detergents, etc... getting very frustrated and ultimately going back to handwashing a lot of dishes! Which as you know uses a lot more water and energy.

A few months ago I found a product called Lemi Shine that helped in the dishwasher with the spots. Dishes got "cleaner", but not squeaky clean. It is citric acid based, thus eco friendly, and for its level of citric acid content it worked great... and I was a little happier with the dishwasher... for awhile...

On impulse I picked up Dishwasher Magic a few weeks ago. You use it in an empty dishwasher on the hot cycle. When I opened my dishwasher after, I saw that ALL of the thick mineral scale and deposit on the heating coil... poof... gone... I got so happy (my kids think I'm weird) that the inside of the dishwasher was sparkly. Again, this is an all citric acid product.

The next test would be how clean did the dishes come out? Spotless! Super clean! No crusty cling-ons! And it has continued to perform that way since Thanksgiving. And I have yet to add Lemi Shine to the cycle. Can't tell you how great that is... coming from a dishwasher that yielded gritty, white, not so clean dishes.

They recommend using Dishwasher Magic monthly and with my calcium and lime content... that's probably just about right for me. People with softer water could more than likely get away with using it less. It's about $5 a bottle and the way I figure it is... if I can load the dishwasher to capacity and get really clean dishes for a fraction of the water use... and cost... it's well worth it.

I saw they also have a product for washing machines... Washer Magic and that will be my next test... I can only imagine what deposits are lurking in that old baby... so will keep you posted.

If anyone knows of a "green" dishwasher detergent that actually cleans... let me know and I will try it out! Going to try Simplicity first... Brad thinks he saw it listed in Consumer Reports as Eco and functional.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Going "Green"... 365 days... 365 ways...

With less than 3 weeks to go in this year... I am preparing a list of green behaviors... not sure how many it will number... but my goal is to incorporate as many (on a consistent basis) in my life as I can over the course of one year. The key will be to build upon each one... and stay with it...

I can say one thing... Greenie number 1: Remember my $#%*&*!#$ grocery bags! Every frigging time I get up to the cashier... I smack myself in the head and say "Damn! The bags are in the trunk!"

Of course not sure how that impacts my Bella Yard Duties... but I have a couple more weeks to figure it out!

Saturday, December 12, 2009
The Bickersons girls and I loved Let It Be Christmas as much, if not more, seeing it the second time. Took Bella to the vet this morning to get her Bordatella booster so she can go to the boarder while we are in California at Christmas.

House cleaning today... and my work Christmas party today with Brad. Maybe a few pics later. Might even need a nap after cleaning as I am deficient several hours after work travel this week.
Thursday, December 10, 2009

Baltimore business trip

We had our morning meeting today at Blue Moon Cafe in Baltimore. Had seen it on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives and was excited to be able to eat somewhere that was local and non-cookie cutter-ish for a change. Most business trips have the pharma reps picking where we go and they pick the usual chain suspects. Today was a pleasant surprise. I had heard that Blue Moon's service was "brusque"... but I thought our waitress was nice and our needs were well met.

We started with a cinnamon roll which we split. It was big and sinful. One of the better one's I've had (Ann Sather's being my favorite!). Bill, my co-worker got an omelette with lump crabmeat, avocado, bacon, and cheese (Swiss I think). It was very tasty and was loaded with crab.

I got the Cap'n Crunch French toast (as did the Bayer rep). It came with real whipped cream and berries. It was very good. No syrup needed as the cereal was sweet enough. I would have liked a more eggy/custardy insides though. But I would get it again... after I had a chance to try other things on the menu. After our meeting (which lasted about 2 hours, and they never made us feel rushed) we walked back over to the car and saw we were near the Broadway market... stalls with fruits, meat and some really fresh looking fish on ice...

We went to a lunch meeting at another nice little gem called Regi's (Federal Hill) where I think I experienced the best wait service I have ever had... attentive, pleasant and in no way obtrusive. I watched all the wait staff at other tables and was really impressed. Really nice atmosphere and again they never made us feel like they needed the table. We were still STUFFED from breakfast, but we were told their cream of crab soup was not to be missed. Very good with quite a bit of lump crab on top. After we wondered through another indoor market Cross Street Market. Cross Street is one of the 2 remaining markets built in the 1800's. Food stalls, flowers, fresh produce, butcher, fish market, oyster bar candy... we people watched and looked at the food like one would after a big Thanksgiving meal... looks nice, but please take it away :)

Tonight was my last night in Baltimore. I told Bill that I really wanted to have steamed Maryland crab... and even though we had eaten crabcakes for dinner last night, had crab in an omelette this morning, crab in our soup at lunch... we stayed with the theme and went to Mr. Bill's Terrace Inn for steamed crab for dinner. We asked our Pfizer/Wyeth pharma rep at lunch where she would go for good crab (as she is a local girl). She said you don't go for posh surroundings, it's not on the water... the decor is very basic. We just got crabs and some steamed peel and eat shrimp. An Old Bay types of spice and salt mix dregding the crabs after their steaming. Very messing and a great deal of work. A couple beers and a few crabs... just enough to enjoy the experience. I learned in Maryland (perhaps other places) when you go in and ask what crabs they have they say it like this "tonight we have 48, 52, and 58's and they are heavy." Which means how much they cost per dozen and that they are heavy with crabmeat (which varies depends on the seaon. And the owner was a riot.

Bill made fun of me because I took pictures of everything on this trip... but it was nice to have a bit of exposure to local scenery and cuisine for a change... Typically it's fly in and fly out... and eating at the same restaurants I can find any city we're in. Good trip. Even found the girls their ornaments for this year in a tiny shop in Federal Hill.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I set Lauren up last night with supplies to paint silk... this is what she came up with... and she wants to give it to her third grafde teacher... I hope her teacher find it as precious as I do!!

Tom Skilling is the bearer of bad tidings... I am due to fly to Baltimore at 8:15am... Uncle Tommy thinks that might not be the case!
My sunflower...
Monday, December 7, 2009

Digging the daisy's... all golds and browns... next piece is in my head!

Snow.... Meh...

It's been year since I have been here... time does really fly, so it would seem!

First snow over here this morning... listening to the metro traffic and not looking forward to it kicking off into high gear!

Of course I am flying on Wednesday so there is supposed to be significant snow and sleet... perfect! Hope the weather in Baltimore is a little milder... have not been out that way in awhile. Excited... was able to get a sweet deal at got my room for under my company room rate policy... 4 stars... should be a good trip... but it's going to be a whirlwind week...

Friday night the girls and I are going to see
Let It Be Christmas at CCC... we saw their production last year and were so impressed... so thinking this year will be just as good, if not better...

Excited to help get care packages over to our soldiers... the kids and I are going to get zip locks filled with trial size items and drop them off at
Naper Nuts & Sweets for their Operation Caramel Corn program...

I have 6 scarves to get made in the next 2 weeks... fingers crossed.

More coffee is in order... and since I have a home office... I don't have to venture out today. Tomorrow is a different story:)