Saturday, February 28, 2009

Imageglow Candle Giveaway

Imageglow Candles offers unique pillar and lantern style candles that have images embedded into the wax so that when lit, the images glow. Check out the beautiful candles here and then go to Mom Fuse and tell her which ones are your favorites. You can win an Imageglow Trio Set in the pattern of your choice. Enter here. Contest ends March 6.

The Multi-Purpose Center

I spent Friday volunteering at the Multi-purpose Center. One of the part-time ladies is going to be quitting soon and Anne wanted me to learn how things go so I can fill in sometimes. It went pretty well. The main problem was trying to remember what different categories of things cost in the re-sale shop. The other lady made me a list, bless her heart, that I could refer to and that really helped. There were also several donations that came in that day that I sorted through and put on the shelves. That part of the job is fun. You never know what you'll find when you open a bag or box. Volunteers can take home something for free in return for working and I found a really nice purse in one of the boxes so it now has a new home. (Jim surprised me by not making any comments about me not needing another bag. Thanks honey!)

One of the problems facing a small shop like this is people who want to spend only a couple of dollars and pay for it using a twenty dollar bill or larger. The shop just doesn't keep that much change on hand. An even bigger problem is donors who use the shop to get rid of things they should have thrown away. Signs are posted on the door and inside that donations should be good enough to give to your family or friends - not stained, dirty, ripped, or worn out. Plastic dishes come in that have been blistered in the microwave and/or stained. Clothes come in, (including underwear), that are stained or maybe have paint on them, or they're torn. The Center doesn't have the facilities, money, or time to wash and dry or repair clothes. Some things immediately get thrown away but most damaged clothes are bagged and sold to a company that recycles them. Other donated things are sometimes broken or have missing parts. People will come after hours and leave bags and things just sitting outside that have to be gone through and disposed of. The Center has to pay for garbage pickup just like everyone else and this just adds to it.

The Center also sells small appliances like coffee pots, housewares, bedding, figurines, books, puzzles, toys, and though they don't have room to sell them, they take info from people who have larger things like furniture to give away. Last year I started several spider plants and donated them to the Center to resell. local gardeners are very generous and will bring their excess produce or a farmer will donate beef or pork or a hunter will donate a deer to the food pantry.

The shoppers are a varied bunch of people. One local man who sells antiques and ships them all over came in to buy some used blankets to wrap them in. Others were looking for clothes for their fast-growing children or grandchildren or just for themselves. Working men came looking for used clothes that they can wear and not have to worry about ruining. Maybe someone needed a glass carafe for a coffee maker or a frame for a picture. You never know what you'll find at the Center. A big rush came right before we were about to close at 4:30 and we actually had to hurry a couple of people to get them checked out so we could leave. (Hey, it was Friday night, ya know!) The Center is open M-F, 8 - 4:30 so that gives people plenty of time to shop, sign up for heating help, WIC, get emergency food help, or sometimes just a sympathetic ear.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Is Spring Coming Soon?

Rain has been falling and the skies are gray
All the snow has melted; it's a dreary day.
Everything is brown no matter where I look.
The only comfort I get is in the pages of a book.

Spring is surely coming; I mean it does each year,
But until the grass turns green I always have a fear.
I know we'll have some snow in March and maybe later on,
Sometimes it's on the tulips before the winter's gone.

So today I'll read my book and dream of warmer places,
Picnics at parks, and crowds of people at car races.
It's just a matter of time before my dream comes true.
But I'm ready for warmer weather NOW! How about you?
© Kat Bryan 2009

Win a Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Check out the neat stainless steel containers at The Tickle Trunk . They have a wide variety of products from various sized food storage containers and cups to water bottles and they're inexpensive. No worries about chemicals transfer from plastics and a lot longer lasting. Then go to leave a comment telling what your favorite is. You could win a stainless steel 18 oz. water bottle. Contest ends: 03/07/09

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review of The Reunion by Simone Van Der Vlugt

Two weeks ago I won a copy of The Reunion by Simone Van Der Vlugt from the British site This was a Dutch novel that was translated to English and it takes place in the Amsterdam area. The book arrived in Monday's mail and I finished it about 2 that morning. (What's that? No, I never go to bed before 1 or 2 or sometimes even 3. I get too caught up in a book or a blog or entering contests or something and time gets away from me.) The book is promoted as a 'thriller' but there was nothing thriller-like about it. It's just a mystery with a lot of emotional angst.

The book is about a young woman, Sabine, whose highschool classmate Isabel, disappeared 9 years ago while biking home from school. While Sabine was there when she disappeared, she has no memory of what happened that day. The basis of the story is how tramatic events can be repressed by the mind. After Sabine reads an announcement in the paper about a highschool reunion, bits and pieces of her memory start to come back. At the beginning of the book, she has just returned to work after being off a year and getting treatment for job burn out and depression. She's finding it very hard to concentrate on her job as she's constantly harrassed by a co-worker, she's drinking and eating too much, getting into bad relationships, and having bad dreams as her memories start to return. In other words, her life sucks. Occasionally there were words that were used differently than what I expected which threw me a little bit. This, for example, " two-room apartment is a tip. After the utilitarian neatness of the office, my scruffy furniture seems even more tightly crammed together." I'm not sure if tip means messy or small. The odd, unpronouceable names for streets are distracting, too, but I know they're necessary for the location.

As for the disappearance of Isabel, the author does do a good job keeping you guessing who was responsible. My guess as to who the villian was kept changing as I read the book clear up until the end so the book was good in that respect.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another Poem - Only the Best (Toilet Tissue)

I swear I'll be gentle to my rear
I'll use the best tissue, never fear.
"Cause when I'm nice to my behind
It gives me such a peace of mind.
I don't want that thin, cheap stuff
I use more & more, it's never enough.
Give me the best and I'll be happy.
That's the end of my poem, it's getting crappy.

© Kat Bryan 2009

Free "Love Glove"

Here's a little bit different freebie for you. Go to Horny Goat Brewing's web site here.

Enter Site , then click "where to get horny". On right side in the menu, there is an menu item to get a free Condom.

Win an autographed copy of Bookmarked for Death

Win an autographed copy of Bookmarked for Death by Lorna Barrett.

Tricia Miles, owner of the Haven’t Got a Clue bookstore, must solve her own mystery when a bestselling author is found dead in the washroom.

Open to residents of the US only. Post a comment here. You MUST LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR ACTIVE BLOG ADDRESS IN YOUR COMMENT. Any comment that DOES NOT INCLUDE this information WILL BE DELETED. She has to have a way to contact you if you win. If you blog this contest and leave a link in your comment so she can check it out, you will receive an extra entry to the contest. Contest open through March 3rd. Winner will be announced on March 4th.

Flea Markets and a Freebie

We went to a small flea market Sunday at Boone, IA. That's about 60 miles away. It had maybe 25 vendors. Our son Jay who has been out of work since November, and his wife Dianna, set up a couple of tables this weekend to try and make some extra money. They're paring down their DVD and VHS collections as well as some collectible toys, paperbacks, Playstation games, candles, etc. They seem to enjoy it and visit a lot with the other vendors. Personally, it's not for me. We were there for about 2 hours and I was BORED after about 20 minutes. Don't get me wrong - Dianna's folks and her sister were there, too, and I was glad to see them and the kids and talk to them but the waiting for someone to come along and buy something in a chilly building with no comfortable place to sit is just too much. I can't imagine doing it for several hours 2 days in a row. I didn't find anything I wanted to spend my money on either which was disappointing. I'm always looking for a cheap paperback mystery and unique things to place in the garden.

It was over at 3 and we all went for a late lunch at Golden Corral. The food was kind of disappointing. I hate buffets where you're not sure what things are. I tried to only take things I recognized but Jim wasn't quite so choosy. I kept asking him, "What's that?" and he would say, "I don't know. I haven't tried it yet." The bad thing was,even after tasting a couple of things, he still wasn't sure. LOL They did have a good variety of salad fixings and it had fresh blueberries which I had never seen before on a salad bar.

This coming weekend is the big flea market at the Des Moines Fairgrounds. We rarely miss it as it has such a great variety of things. It's 9-4 in the 4-H building. There's quite a mess at that end of the fairgrounds right now with new building construction and roads torn up so it's a bit of a challenge to get to the building and then find parking that isn't a mud hole.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond True Delights

Complete the form on this page to receive your free sample of new Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond True Delights from Quaker. Samples available while supplies last. Please allow up to 8 weeks for delivery. Available to U.S. Residents only. Limit one sample per household.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Win a Yoplait Yo-Plus Gift Package

You can win a very special Yoplait Yo-Plus gift package of your own. You will get a mini-notebook, a BPA free red water bottle, a coupon for a FREE package of Yo-Plus yogurt, and a fabulous zippered LARGE insulated tote bag. Just visit Yo-Plus and check out all the great flavors. Then go here and leave a comment telling which flavor you would like to try. 3 prize packages are being given away. Contest ends Wednesday, February 25 at noon. Good luck.

Enter to win a Slanket

Enter to win a Slanket at Hey Lady's blog. A Slanket is a combination blanket and robe. It will keep you covered and warm while allowing you to use your arms to read, knit, etc. To enter just leave a post telling about your favorite blanket or if you don't have one, just say so. For additional entries, see the site. Enter here. The contest will be open until March 3rd.

Quilted Bag Giveaway

Green Fairy Quilts is giving away a very pretty quilted bag. To show you how versatile her "Quilted Bag" pattern is, she is showing five bags. She is going to be giving away the Posh Quilted Bag. Do you want to win it? Leave a comment, tell her your favorite bag and who sent you then leave your email if you don't have a blog for 1 entry into my giveaway.

To the person who gives her the most referrals through their blog, she is going to give a quilt bag kit to make the bag of their choice. So please, if you enter say Kat Bryan referred you. Thanks.

Good luck! You have until midnight Friday, February 27th. Enter here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

And that leaves Anne....

What can I say about Anne? She was christened Anna after a great-aunt but likes the plainer, more-straightforward name Anne or as many friends call her, Annie. When she was little Dad called Pam and her Sam and George. (I imagine he was hoping for another boy after 3 daughters. Bet he was mighty glad when Tom finally came along 7 years later.)

Anne grew up to be a very independent person but she got off to a rough start. She dropped out of school but later got her GED. She had a few minor run-ins with the authorities and lived with foster parents for a short while. She’s never taken any crap off anyone and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself or her friends. She became a single mom at 19 and always put her son first. She wasn’t afraid to ask for help, appreciated it when she got it, and that’s made her more sympathetic with people now who are in a bad situation.

Anne’s had 2 lousy marriages (her words, not mine), but gained a wonderful daughter, Ashley, in return. She’s been in a committed relationship with Gary for the past 18 years. He’s a deputy sheriff. (I think they're both too darned independent to ever get married!) She now has her 2 great kids and their families she's very proud of. When her son Ron was little, she would sometimes need help from the Multi-purpose Center, which is home of the local food bank, clothing room, place for energy assistance, WIC, etc. and in turn she volunteered her time occasionally. Because of her love for kids, she and Gary used to do foster and crisis care and some of the kids they helped still keep in touch with her.

Anne has had many different jobs over the years but in 1998 she started working part time at the Multi-purpose Center. In September 2002 she was named Assistant Director and in October 2004 she was named Director when her boss retired. The Center is the home for local food drives, Christmas toy donations, collection and distribution of Thanksgiving dinners (over 75 families were fed last year, I think), child safety seat training, handyman service, and a community resale shop. It’s a very necessary part of our community with more people using its services all the time. Anne likes her job most days but is extremely busy from October through December with energy assistance, Thanksgiving and Christmas. She runs the Center with the help of a couple part time workers and lots of volunteers. She tells me she’s getting tired of having her photo in the paper all the time after being presented with donations but I’m very proud of the work she does. I often tell her she's darn near perfect - she just needs to quit smoking.

In 2007 at age 50, Anne became a first-time homeowner. She bought a small, older house in our hometown and during remodeling found it was FULL of termite damage. She ended up having to tear out entire walls, ceilings, and floors and re-do them. Luckily, her son Ron is a wonderfully talented guy and he was out of work at the time. He did almost all the work for her with help from her and others. They put in an entirely new bathroom, kitchen, and living room, new windows, doors and siding, new floors and carpets, new drywall, ceilings, paint and trim. He tiled the bathroom floor and kitchen counter. Anne lived in the middle of this mess for months doing without a stove and other amenities for weeks. Without Ron’s help there is no way she would have been able to afford it and now she has a very nice little home. She loves what he did with the house and loves him for all his hard work. I think she and her cat are finally settled in.

Anne lives ½ block from her daughter Ashley, son-in-law Jason, and their twin sons who just turned 1. Anne loves being so close and likes to baby-sit often. Ron and his wife Bobbi have a son and daughter and live in a small town about 15 miles away. His daughter likes sports and girly things and is growing prettier every day. I think his boy is going to grow up to be talented like his dad.
BTW, I was nice and used the Glamour Shot photo. Does that earn me brownie points? LOL


I had two sisters at this time last year. Now I have one. Pam, who had smoked since a young teenager, died March 9, 2008 of cancer. It started in her lungs and progressed to her brain. Believe me when I say it's no fun watching someone you love slowly die.

Pam, our other sister Anne, and I were typical sisters. They were 3 ½ and 5 years younger than me and at one point we all had to share a very small bedroom. (Picture a small bedroom with 1 twin bed and a set of bunks plus dressers, toys, etc.) It was especially hard as I got older and wanted and needed some privacy. Pam was somewhat of a rebel. She dropped out of school and ended up pregnant at age 14. She begged Mom and Dad to let her get married and they eventually did. Her husband-to-be was 18 and neither was prepared for marriage. Eight years later Pam ended up a single mother with 3 young kids.

In the early 1980's Pam was living in southwest Iowa, working, and going to community college. She met the man who was to become her second husband and soul mate. George was more than 16 years older than her but young at heart and by then, life had made Pam very mature for her age. They moved from Iowa to Texas with his job and got married in 1983. He was a good husband and wonderful father to her kids and he had 2 grown sons of his own. They lived in Texas for a few years and my husband and I were lucky enough to be able to visit them. Pam had a great love for all animals and always had pets in the household, cats being her favorite. If they saw an animal killed along the highway, she would make George stop and move it to the side of the road. I remember her telling me about the time they were having problems with an armadillo digging up their yard. She wouldn’t allow anyone to kill it or hurt it in anyway. They ended up catching it by covering it with a large box and Pam sat on the box with the armadillo trying its best to get out until they could cage it and take it somewhere away from their yard. I would have loved to seen that.

Eventually, George quit his job, they moved back to Iowa to be closer to family, and he and Pam had their own company for a while. She lived very near to me when I lived south of town and again when we moved north of town. They even bought land and built a home right next to us. She stayed strong after the suicide of our dad in 1989 and was my shoulder to lean on. She couldn't understand why I cried all the time because, after all, ‘Dad was in a better place now’.
Pam and George were very involved in a local church which later established a branch in southeast Iowa. They moved there in 1993 so her youngest daughter Terri could attend the Christian school that the church had started there. After the first year the number of students outgrew the space they were in for the school and the church purchased an empty store building to turn into a new school. George took charge of the remodeling of this new building. During this time Pam cleaned the school. She would go in late at night with her Christian music and sing her heart out and clean. Sometimes she would take her little granddaughter Cheyenne, whom they had been raising since she was an infant, or her daughter Terri with her. After Terri graduated in 1996 Pam quit her cleaning job. She had done it for three years and it was really getting hard for her. She was having leg pains and trouble walking and found out she had blocked veins in her legs. She underwent surgery to correct it. George worked for the Christian school a couple more years and then went on to work for the church as it grew also and now occupied a remodeled grocery store plus additions. He still works there. They had a huge loss in their lives after her older daughter's baby was stillborn following a car accident. As our mom's health failed somewhat, Pam and George invited her to live with them for a while. Mom and Pam had a special bond .

A few years ago Pam had what she thought was a bad cold and the doctor thought it had turned into pneumonia. They admitted her to the hospital and after doing x-rays, they sent her to a specialist who determined the spots in her lungs were cancer. She had surgery at University of Iowa Hospitals to remove part of one lung and she underwent chemo. She went through the hell of constant nausea and losing her hair but I never heard her complain very much. After recovering, she did quite well for some time. Her hair grew back just as pretty as before. She was an Avon dealer and member of the President’s Club for high sales.

About a year later she began to lose her balance. She told me she had leaned a little bit while sitting on the toilet and fell off. We both thought it was kind of funny at the time. She kept falling and began to get terrible headaches and the doctors told her the cancer had come back and spread to her brain. They did more surgery, this time removing a piece of her skull and what they could of the cancer in her brain. The granddaughter she was raising spent the night in her room after the surgery and woke up to find her unresponsive because her brain had swollen. If she hadn't been there, we would have lost Pam right then. Luckily, the doctors were able to bring her back and they made a larger hole in her skull to allow for the swelling. Do you know what they do when you have this type of brain surgery? They take a part of the bone and leave it out just so the brain does have room to swell. They freeze this bone so that later they can put it back. In the meantime, they close up the incision and you have to wear a rubber helmet to protect your head. It looks something like an old-time football helmet. The shape of your head in the meantime looks like a ball that has been kicked in on one side. Pam never let on that the fact that she was wearing a funny hat to protect her dented head bothered her. She let the grandkids sign her helmet, draw pictures on it and otherwise decorate it. She answered people's questions about it when they asked. She was still unsteady on her feet and had to have help getting around. She later had more surgery to put the bone back in place. Her hair never grew longer than about an inch after this. It was also mostly gray and she hated it and wanted to color it so badly. All this time I was living 3 hours away from her so I wasn't able to be there for her like I should have been and I'll forever regret it. I'll also admit that I hated seeing her this way and was probably unconsciously avoiding her.

Late in 2007 Pam was in a wheelchair because she was so weak and unsteady and she had to sleep in a hospital bed. Physical therapists came to her house but she wasn't improving. November 7th she was told her brain tumor was back and there was nothing more they could do. George couldn't give her the care she needed at home so she entered a nursing home. She and George checked all the local ones out and had picked this one because they had several pets there and Pam loved her animals. This was where she would spend her last few months. She was able to attend a large family Christmas dinner in our hometown in December and all her kids and their families were there. This was the last time most of the extended family saw her.

We talked on the phone occasionally until she got so weak she couldn't hold the phone. I occasionally would take Mom and make the trip down to see her. Towards the end of February she started going downhill fast and we knew it was just a matter of time. She knew if you were there to see her but she wasn't able to talk much. I took Mom to spend time with her on March 7. On the 9th we got the call we were expecting. Hubby and I made a flying 160-mile trip and got there in time to spend the last 15 minutes with her. She was barely conscious but I’d like to think she knew I was there. It was like she was waiting for me before letting go.

Pam donated her body to the Carver College of Medicine at University Hospitals so she could continue helping someone else. We all miss her terribly. A special thanks to her daughter Terri for helping me write this. It was hard for both of us. If you don't smoke, please don't start. If you do smoke, please try to quit. Believe me, your family will appreciate it.

We go on, and nothing hurts forever, though sometimes it seems right that it should.” - Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Brother Tom

My brother Tom is the youngest in the family. He came along 7 years behind everyone else and was named after our grandpa. My parents divorced when he was about 5 and he lived with my paternal grandparents for a while. They were too old to raise a young boy but it was a necessity at the time. He went to a different school district than my sisters and I so we didn't see him except on weekends. He later lived with our older brother, our sister, our mother ........ he was moved around a lot and I always wondered how he was able to get through school. Our cousin Matt is just a week younger than Tom and they were and are, as close as brothers. They both enlisted in the Army before graduating in 1984 thinking they would get to spend their enlistment together. The Army works in strange ways, though, and Matt ended up in Germany while Tom went to Korea. One tour was enough for Matt and he got out. Tom decided to reenlist and he's still in. Besides Korea and duty in the states including Texas, California, Missouri, and others, he has served in Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is presently stationed in Germany.

I am not close to Tom. I hardly know him as a brother since he has been traveling around for almost 25 years with not too many trips home. I worry that we may never get the chance to really know each other since he has talked about remaining in Germany when he gets out of the Army. He is doing his part for the U. S. though, and I am very proud of him.

My Brother Larry

I suppose a lot of people think the same way I do, but I have some pretty special brothers and sisters. Would you like to know why? Let's start with my older brother. Larry is almost exactly 2 years older than me. When we were little I resented this because with our birthdays just 2 days apart, we usually had to share a cake and party. He was the typical brother - looking out for me one minute and fighting like cats and dogs the next. I can remember one time when we went to town for the weekly shopping. I believe at least one of my younger sisters had came along by then and the folks left us in the car with orders to "Behave!" We got to wrestling around and my brother accidentally hit me in the nose with his elbow. Oops! When Mom and Dad came back and saw the bloody mess, I told them he had hit me on purpose. I don't remember if he was punished or not, or if he even remembers, but Larry, I apologize.

He got married right out of high school and moved away to Kansas City. I missed him so much I talked 3 of my girl friends into hitchhiking to KC after graduation to visit him. Can you imagine 4 young women doing that now?! Later, he moved even farther away to Baltimore and we didn't keep in touch very much. Now he's back in our hometown and we do talk and see other regularly. After an automobile accident several years ago left him unable to continue doing HVAC work, he went back to school and studied computers. He got a good job and later started his own company installing software for different businesses. That didn't last too long, though, as he began to have physical problems and was finally diagnosed with fibromialgia and chronic fatigue. He became unable to travel and do his job and once again was left wondering what to do. He had always dabbled a little bit in art so he decided to try it again. Check out his web site and see what you think. I especially love the graphite drawings. Larry's Art

He's still MY computer guru and he's able to do occasional computer work for local people and businesses. He's trying very hard to work through his pain even though at times it makes him very hard to live with. (Right, Sue?) I love him and his drawings and hope he can find a way to profit from them.

Birdhouse Gourds

Last year my older brother bought and painted several birdhouse gourds. It looked like fun and like something I could do, so when I saw some dried gourds for sale on craiglist I bought them. I gave him some and kept some for myself. Before you can paint gourds they have to cure over the winter. Then you have to soak them in water to loosen any remaining skin, and scrub them on the outside to remove the skin, dirt and mildew. I used a metal pan scrubby. It helps to add a little bleach to the soaking water to kill any remaining mildew. Then after they dry completely for a couple of days, you need to cut the hole and clean out all the seeds. I use a hole cutter that goes on the electric drill. It's a lot easier than trying to cut out a round hole with a craft knife or something. I have heard some people leave the seeds in and let the birds clean them out but I always remove them. I used a long screwdriver and ran it around inside the hole and then shook the gourd to dump the loose seeds out. Keep repeating this until you get most ofthe seeds and dried center out. You can plant the seeds to grow more gourds.
I decided to try and do something besides just paint them. On the one titled Little House I cut pinecones up and glued them on for shingles. The top part is supposed to be a brick chimney but it didn't turn out too well. I gave this one away last Christmas. For Here Kitty I took parts of other gourds and cut triangles for ears and glued them into notches on the head. It's one of my favorites. Dots has metallic paint which is fun. I'm actually using it outside and the dots shine in the sun. Violets is just simple and sweet with a couple of lady bugs on it and Africa was my idea of an ethnic look. I have more gourds so I'll have to think of some more ideas. Any suggestions?


Elaborate Architecture

I posted once about strange architecture but there is also the very elaborate like these two homes. The brown one is in Denison in northwest Iowa. People of the Victorian era certainly knew how to add on ornamental extras like turrets and balconies. Can you imagine what it would cost to build a house like this in today's market? I always wonder about the families who built such large homes. Was the father a lawyer, storekeeper or what? I would love to see if the interior of this home lives up to its outside appearance. The brick house is located in Bonaparte in southeast Iowa. It hasn't been taken care of like the Denison home but was just as impressive when built.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Make and Takes Birthday Giveway

Make and Takes blog is celebrating its 2nd birthday with a great giveaway - prizes will go to 7 lucky people. Check it out here . For your chance to win one of the seven items from this Locally Grown Giveaway, leave a comment on this post by Thursday, February 19th @ midnight. She’ll announce the 7 winners chosen from random on Friday morning February 20th.

Crock Pot Swiss Steak

I found this recipe on someone’s blog (Gasp! Imagine that! I think it may have been ). I made it for supper Monday night with some changes.

In the bottom of your crock pot, place 1 large onion and 1 green pepper ( both sliced ). Trim a round steak and cut into bite-sized pieces. Add these to the crock pot. In a bowl mix together 1 regular size can cream of mushroom soup and 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce with 1 tsp. grill seasoning and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours. The sauce makes a wonderful gravy and the meat is so tender. Serve it over mashed potatoes, rice, or noodles with a green vegetable or salad.

I didn’t get it in the pot until 2 but I used a tenderized steak and only ½ green pepper and the onion and cooked it on high for about 4 ½ hours instead of all day on low. I used McCormick’s Grill Mates Spicy Montreal Steak seasoning but next time I would only use ½ tsp. or something without red pepper. I really liked it but Hubby thought it was a little too spicy. He’s a potato guy so I made mashed but I think it would be even better over wide noodles.

Shhh I'm Reading is having a Winner's Choice Giveaway

The winner will get to choose from the following list of ARCs:
--The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson
--Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
--The Help by Kathryn Stockett
--Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
--One More Year by Sana Krasikov
--Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein
Shhh I'm Reading

This contest will run until midnight Feb 22 and the winner will be chosen by random and posted on Feb 23. This contest is open worldwide for all books except The Help as it is quite large.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Strange Architecture

I love all the different styles of architecture whether it's modern or old, mansions or tract houses, offices or public buildings. I enjoy how people can design buildings with things like cantilevered wings, delicate Victorian trims, huge open spaces with little hint of how they're supported, carved stone, odd shaped windows, unusual sidings, etc. I am awed when I think of ancient castles and cathedrals and how they were constructed with no modern tools. But occasionally I come upon a building that makes me ask, "What were they thinking?!" That was my first thought when I saw this small home in Walnut, Iowa. If the architect was trying to depict the idea of an owl, I think he succeeded. The house has been sold since this photo was taken and is now painted in muted colors but the owlish impression is still there. What do you think?

The "Infamous" Butt Sisters

I found this picture of a statue in a magazine a few years ago and thought it was the perfect model for The Butt Sisters.
There were 11 children in my mom's family, eight of them girls. Even though my uncle Walt is 6'4" and skinny and the other 2 brothers were thin, too, the ladies were shorter and somewhat bigger, especially in the posterior area. (All except Aunt Ruby. She was over 6" and built like Twiggy.) I'm not sure who started it but it came to be that whenever they got together, they were called the Butt Sisters. When Mom and some of her sisters went to visit Aunt Neva in California several years ago, my young cousin went around telling all her friends the famous Butt Sisters were coming to visit! I doubt very much they were expecting to see a group of older, middle-aged women. Now that my cousins and I are older, some of us are lucky enough (?!) to be included in this group.

The photos were taken at a family reunion in 2000. The upper photo shows my mom and her sisters. The lower photo is the second generation and one of them is me but exactly which one is MY secret.

Time for another poem

Today isn't bad outside. We had about 7" of the beautiful white stuff last Friday but today's it's sunny and about 36 so it's melting a little bit. A month ago - January 16 to be exact - it was quite a different story. It was -25 overnight!!!! The weather inspired this poem.

I’ve Got the Winter Blues (or Wearing my Socks to Bed)

It’s yet another night of below zero temps.
The furnace is blazing but my toes are still cold.
I bundle up wishing for the warmth of summer
But Old Man Winter has me in his strong hold.
I pull on my socks and turn on the blanket;
Everything’s covered but the top of my head.
Even the cat hates this crazy weather
As she snuggles against me in the bed.
© Kat Bryan 2009

New Banana Nut Cheerios Giveaway

Cheerios has come out with another new flavor - Banana Nut. If you would like to try and win one of three Banana Nut Cheerios Baskets, which include a coupon for a free box of Banana Nut Cheerios, a banana tree with fruit basket, bread loaf pan, and a set of two cereal bowls, visit Connie's View here. Contest starts now and ends Friday February 20th at midnight EST.

Lennon Sisters CD Giveaway

Remember the Lennon Sisters who sang on The Lawrence Welk Show? No? Then you must be too young. LOL They were sisters who really harmonized well together. Now 2 of them, Kathy and Janet, have put together a CD featuring 12 favorite children's songs to sing along with! Best Pals Sing Together includes great children's classics like A Bushel and a Peck, How Much is that Doggie in the Window, and Let's Go Fly a Kite. I remember Mom singing How Much is that Doggie in the Window to us kids all the time. She probably still would if I asked. Anyway, 5minutesforgiveaways is giving away 5 copies of the CD. If you'd like to try and win one, click here and get entered. This giveaway will be open from Sunday, February 15th through Friday, February 27th. The winner will be announced Saturday, February 28th.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I get so tired of dial up!!

Nothing frustrates me more than the slow internet I have at home. I waste so much time waiting for pages and graphics to load and forget about trying to view videos or download large files. I usually have a game of solitaire open and I play while I wait.

There was an article in the Des Moines Register a couple weeks ago and it was about how part of the stimulus money should or should not be spent. Some had suggested spending part of it on bringing high speed internet to the rural areas because afterall, more and more people are depending on the internet to do things in their every day lives - pay bills, bank, shop, communicate, file taxes, etc. The Register said a study had already been done and high speed was actually more readily available to rural people than urban. Now I can only assume that by rural they mean people in smaller towns and by available they mean either in those small towns again or satellite service. I know satellite is the only thing available where I live in the country but that doesn't mean I or the majority of others can afford it. I got mad and wrote a 'letter to the editor' but it wasn't printed. I told them yes, high speed service (via satellite) is available to almost everyone, just like Cadillacs are available. That doesn't mean most people can afford them. I would love it if my area was brought into the 21st century and soon.

Bird Watching

Hubby and I love to watch the wild birds and have about 10 feeders placed in the yard where we can see them from our windows. You can see some of the male cardinals in a tree waiting to eat in this photo taken Friday. We only put out suet from the locker and sunflower seeds with some occasional peanut butter mixed with seeds but we are amazed at the variety of birds that come. In the winter we get cardinals, blue jays, juncoes, goldfinches, purple finches, titmice, chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, and several types of sparrows. We also get starlings at the heated water bowl and occasionally at the feeders. They come in groups and sit around the bowl together like they're having a party. In the summer we also get rose-breasted grosbeaks and Baltimore orioles. Believe it or not, the orioles eat at the suet feeders.

A surprise this winter was seeing robins at the water. It used to be that seeing a robin was a first sign of spring's arrival. Now they, like the Canadian geese, are spending winters in Iowa. Our local paper even had a story about it and said we would have to watch for the return of turkey vultures instead! I doubt many people in town will be calling each other to report seeing the first vulture of the year in their yard!

Yea! I won another book!

I got an email this morning letting me know I won Nora Roberts' Going Home from . Thanks Beth!

Last week I read Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet. It was a win from . (Thanks Megan!) It had received rave reviews from every blog site it was featured on and I was excited to read it. I have to say I was disappointed in the writing style. I think it was written on a teenager's reading level which is not what I expected. The story line was okay - a lonely child has an imaginary friend, an adult male,(?) who leaves on her 9th birthday. She never forgets him and her life is never very satisfactory. She meets him again when she's 32 and the story evolves from there. The book continually switched between her telling the story and him which kept breaking it up. All and all, I was disappointed.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Three Great Books Giveaway at BooksontheBrain

Books on the Brain has 3 good novels to giveaway. They include 'Welcome to the Departure Lounge: Adventures in Mothering Mother', 'American Wife', and 'Gardens of Water'. All of these books sounded very interesting to me. Make sure you check out the blog and enter to win a copy or three. Contest ends Thursday, February 19th. Only open to residents of the US and Canada). Click here.

Win 'The Little Pink House'

Win The Little Pink House by Jeff Benedict. Contest open until Saturday March 7th at 6 pm EST. Enter here.

Win A Book

Go to FreeBookFriday for a chance to win Love Walked In and Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. 4 Signed Copies (2 of each) will be given away on February 20, 2009. This is one of my favorite book blogs for contests. Make sure you check it out.

I love sweepstaking....

I've been entering contests and sweeps online for several years now. I've been keeping a journal and I've won something every month since January 2003 except for March 2008. The Sweeps Fairy wasn't thinking about me that month I guess. I've never won anything really big but even the small prizes get me excited. I've won backpacks and books, magazines and makeup, clothes and keychains, a boombox and beach towels, money and movies, totes and toys, watches and wallets, and jewelry and junk.

Valentine Chocolate

What do I love about chocolate?
What is it that makes it so cool?
It can be light or dark
Or so rich it makes me drool.

It can be full of nuts
Or have a center that tastes like wine.
It doesn't matter the flavor
As long as it is mine.

But I know my hubby likes it
And since I really care,
With Valentine's Day coming,
I'll do my best to share.
© Kat Bryan 2009

There has to be a beginning......

I'm not sure what my purpose is in starting a blog. I'm a BIG fan of blogs and other people in my family have them so I thought I'd try. I do want a place to publish my poetry (bad as it is - LOL) and comment on life in general. I hope if you stumble into my corner of the world you'll enjoy your stay. Feel free to let me know.

Publish Post