Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Pies

First of all - Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I was rescued by another sister. This time it was Jennifer. And the occasion was Thanksgiving.

I can make a pretty good apple pie (and I have a really good story about why it's called blackbird pie) and I can make a pretty good pumpkin pie. But I just cannot make a good pecan pie. I've tried - but it always turns out as pecan soup in a pie crust, or pecan brittle in a pie crust.

Jennifer on the other hand makes the best pecan pie ever! But I was really worried that she wouldn't be able to send one down this year. She also makes wedding cakes and is making one right now for a niece that is getting married this weekend. So - my pecan pie hopes were not very high.

But imagine my surprise when it showed up last night! So "Thank You" Jennifer! That pecan pie is the icing on the cake (or maybe it's the whip cream on the pie!!!)

Yummy - pecan pie!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tracey's ultrasound

So today was the day. Tracey had her ultrasound! So now I know if it's a boy or a girl. And I'm sure I'll get around to mentioning it somewhere in this post. But for now, you'll have to read some more of my ramblings...

So - Tracey was doing good. She sounded really excited about the baby! Everything in the ultrasound was normal - the tech could see all four chambers of the heart and you could see the baby moving around. She was telling me that the baby looked like it had a big head - that should be fun for her when March rolls around!

Here's the ultrasound picture from earlier today! Isn't technology great? She has an ultrasound in Evansville and sends a snapshot to my cellphone and I can post it for the world to see. All in a matter of minutes. How cool is that? And at first glance, it looks like the typical ultrasound "static blur" - and while I'm no expert (obviously, since all ultrasounds look like blurs to me), it's pretty obvious that this is a great picture of the right side of the babies head. And look at the cute little nose! But you can't tell from this view if it's a boy or a girl...

Look at that cute picture!

Now - if you read the earlier post, then you already know about the lopsided count in the niece/nephew department. Currently, we have 9 - 6 boys, and a mere 3 girls. And you should also know that I was secretly hoping for a girl (I have this thing with symmetry...) and Tracey was hoping for a girl too - but everybody else was convinced that it was a boy. And all of Chuck's brothers all had boys (or at least there wives had boys - but the brothers are the ones who made the decision if you know what I mean!). I'm sure that Tracey had plenty of people offering their own unique speculation - "see that little lump in your stomach there? That means it's a boy" - or "see how your bellybutton is tilting up? That means it's a girl". I love hearing crazy things like that...

Of course - everybody knows that the best way to really determine the sex of a baby (other than birth!) is with the ultrasound. And today was Tracey's turn to find out. So - she asked the tech doing the ultrasound - could she see if it was a boy or a girl? And the tech said "Yep - I sure can. There is no doubt that it is....."

A girl!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The menu is set...

Only 4 days until Thanksgiving! And this year - it's the 4th annual "Leengrams" Thanksgiving spectacular! The menu has been finalized - there will be turkey (with stuffing!), cornbread dressing, ham, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and rolls. And when you are done with all of that, you can top it off with some homemade apple pie or homemade pumpkin pie.

Sounds pretty good doesn't it! The good news is - you are all invited. It's not too late! Just give us a call and we will save you a seat.

And for those of you who may not be able to make the trip - we completely understand. After all, Knoxville isn't exactly close to most of you! The good news is - Christmas is just around the corner and we are making plans to come and see you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bryon is guilty!

Actually not - but it makes for a sensational headline! And if there is anything that I've learned from the 24 hour news programs is that the headline is more important that the actual details...

So, I'm not actually "guilty" - but I did have to appear in traffic court this morning. That's right - I got a ticket.

I personally think it was a scam (isn't that what all of the ex-cons say?). I was simply following the law that says the un-posted speed in the city of Knoxville is 30mph. The problem is - there was a sign - even if it was hidden around a blind curve, behind trees, and was spray painted black. And never mind the fact that it was a city officer that gave me a ticket in the county.

Apparently, the judge thought that was a good enough excuse to drop the charges. Of course I still had to pay court costs - but at least the charges were thrown out (no points and the insurance won't go up!).

But I have to say - traffic court sure is interesting (and I was "lucky" enough to be one of the last ones through). There where the typical dredges of society - people arguing with the Sargent before court started - people arguing with the judge ("I don't care what the radar says - I wasn't speeding!"). But my favorite was the young lady in front of me.

The judge said, "Miss - your charges are speeding, running a red light, driving without proper registration, and driving without insurance. How do you plead?"

At this point, the young lady started crying and said, "I don't know... I don't know... What should I do?"

Judge: I can't tell you what to do.

Young Lady: What would you do if it was you?

Judge: It wasn't me. I can't tell you what to do. Where you speeding?

Young Lady: Yes...

Judge: Was the light red when you went through the intersection?

Young Lady: Yes...

Judge: Were you able to show your vehicle registration to the officer?

Young Lady: No...

Judge: Were you able to show proof of insurance to the officer?

Young Lady: No...

Judge: Do you believe you are innocent of these charges?

Young Lady: (begins crying again...) I don't know... I don't know what to do...

Bryon: (thinks to himself - 'Jeez! If I agree to pay her fine can we get her out of here and move on???)

Judge: The court hereby finds you guilty of all charges and places you on probation for 30 days. Please see the clerk...

Young Lady: But I don't know if I'm guilty!

Judge: I do know - and you are. You can have a seat now...

Sure - you could feel sorry for her. And you can wonder how someone like that will be able to survive in society. But I believe that she will do just fine. After all - she had enough common sense to pull her pants up all the way, not show her butt crack, and knew how to put on a belt. That was better than every other person under the age of 25 that was in court today!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


That's right baby! The Vols are UNDEFEATED!!!

Of course I'm not talking about the football team (although the Titans are still undefeated!). I'm talking about the men's basketball team!!! And of course, the women won their season opener too - but I expect them to win the first game (just like I expect that the sun will come up tomorrow).

The men on the other hand - they had some "preseason" cause for concern. The big one was offensive scoring. Three of the guys that graduated last year scored 80% of the 3-point shots last year. And they are a REALLY young team who has only been playing together for a few weeks. It's a big challenge to play in a Bruce Pearl "run 'em up and down the court" fast paced all out full court press high turn over big scoring team.

And they were playing UTC (one of the few teams who has beaten a Pearl team in the past). And UTC is supposed to be VERY good this year - actually favored to win their conference.

All of that adds up to a scary season opener

So - how did the young team do? Where they able to get those big turn-overs? Were they able to run that high-powered offense against a good quality opponent? I'll let you decide. The score was Tennessee 114, UTC 75. And that was with Teddy Valentine officiating! For those of you who don't know how "frustrating" a Teddy Valentine game can be - ask Bobby Knight. Teddy's calls are SO RIDICULOUS that Bobby felt it necessary to throw a chair at him.

So - you may be saying "1 and 0 - it was the season opener. No big deal." And if you are saying that then maybe you should talk to a Kentucky fan. I hear that winning the first game is so unimportant to them that they decided to not do it this year. We'll see how well that works out for them as the season goes on...

And for all of you Indiana basketball fans - you had your chance. Bruce is ours now! Did I mention that he just bought a 2 million dollar house in Knoxville? Yep - we are treating him right.

But if you are looking for a coach from the University of Tennessee, then we have a football coach (most likely an entire coaching staff) that will be available in about 3 weeks...

Friday, November 14, 2008

A nice even number...

I love my nieces and nephews. They are all so much fun!!! I have soccer players, baseball players, football players, basketball players, a volleyball player (who I just found out went UNDEFEATED - way to go KAITLYN!!!) and even one that I'm convinced is going to be a cyclist. Some have the "family resemblance". Some of them look like each other - just ask me about the story of Corbin coming to visit this past Labor day! And they are ALL fabulous! I love listen to their stories, play with them, buy them loud toys for Christmas (you're welcome "mom"!!!). It is all so great.

But there has always been something "odd". And I think I've finally figured it out. It's the quantity! Nine. That's how many. Nine. It's so close to being a nice, round, even number. You could even say that it's close to a "perfect ten".

So leave it to the youngest one to bail me out. Tracey is having a baby! She came down (with Corbin!) this past Labor Day - but she didn't have even the smallest "baby bump" that I could see.

But that's all over with now! She certainly can't hide it anymore!!! Still no word on the "boy/girl" scenario. I'm hoping for a girl myself - the boy/girl ratio is currently a little lopsided with 6 nephews and 3 nieces. I've heard that it's going to be another 3 weeks before we find out...

Andrea with "mommy to be" Tracey

I can't wait! She's not due until the end of March so I guess I'll have to wait a few months. I'm so excited!!! This is going to be fun...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Let the grass grow

I moved in to this house in 1997. Since then I've expanded the driveway (eliminating all of one side yard), added landscaping in the front yard (eliminating large chunks of grass in the front yard) and built an addition (eliminating all of the other side yard). My backyard is all "woods" and although I cleared all of the brush out when I first moved in - but it was remained wooded.

All of this means that I can currently cut my entire lawn in about 20 minutes. I thought I had it made...

The problem is - I really like grass! And I've tried several times to get some to grow in my backyard. I've even been successful in getting it started. But in the end, it has always wilted and died.

And now we have Foxy Brown. And she loves being outside. In the "all dirt" backyard. It takes about 1.8 seconds before she is filthy. And runs back in the house. And gets dirt all over the new furniture. Or better yet - in the bed.

Corbin on the bike in the "all dirt" backyard...

Then one day I was talking to my neighbor (who has a friend with an agriculture degree). Apparently when you let 18 inches of leaves decay on the ground every fall - it really throws off the pH of the soil. And you can send a soil sample to the UT Ag campus and they will kindly test it for you (after all, the university has tens of thousands of students that they can use as slave labor!) and then tell you what you need to add to your dirt.

Without going into the great detail of my soil report - the pH of my dirt was so far off that I had to add 520 pounds of lime to 4600 square feet! That moves me out of the "20 or 40 pounds" from Lowes and in to a real live field trip to the farmers co-op!

So - a couple of weekends ago I formulated my "backyard plan". I rented a tiller. I put down the 520 pounds of lime, an additional 50 pounds of fertilizer, and tilled up the entire backyard - just like my report said to do. I put down 40 pounds of seed and waited.

Now the grass has started coming up. I'm not expecting much this fall (I'm just happy that it was able to get started a little before it goes dormant) - but I'm REALLY hoping that it all comes back this spring.

The "new and improved" backyard with GRASS!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I lick my butt too!

My mommy and daddy think I do some strange things. I'm like every other dog - and sometimes I need to clean things up "down there". I don't think it's any big deal, but they think it's a little gross.

When I was little, I used to sleep with my mommy and daddy. Daddy's armpits would get dirty by the end of the day, so I used to clean them up for him before he fell asleep. Then I would give him a goodnight kiss (I would aim for the lips, but he usually turned away at the last second).

Now, I'm a big girl and my daddy has been better about keeping his armpits clean. But mommy's feet is another story. Every night while mommy is on the recliner, I'll nudge and pull on her shoes until I get them knocked off. Then I'll pull on her socks. By this point, mommy has usually figured out what I want and will take her socks off for me. Then I'll lick away until they are clean!

Boy - moms feet sure taste great!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Howling Dogs

Most of you know that we are dog lovers. And most of you know that we now have two dogs. What you probably don't know about is our fascination with "howling". We've tried and tried to get Izzy to howl (there's a great story that involves the pizza delivery guy) - but she just looks at us like we are absolutely nuts.

Last week, we decided to give it a try with Foxy Brown. Darlene and I were howling away. Izzy was barking (I think she was trying to tell us to shut up). And Foxy was just watching us like we were a three ring circus. Then all of a sudden, she leaned back, pointed her nose in the air, and let out the most mournful howl you've ever heard. It was great!

Foxy gives us a little howl

Last night - we decided to give it another try. She was pretty tired and it wasn't quite as heartfelt as the first time but it was still really cute! At least she was willing to humor us...

Seemingly unrelated - the weather here has been PERFECT for the last few days. Lows in the 40's but during the day it's been sunny and mid 70's! We've had the windows open (and haven't ran the AC or the heat pump for more than a couple of hours for the last 6 weeks - take that TVA and your 20% rate hike!). And I'm sure that all of our neighbors have been doing the same thing - who wouldn't want their windows open with weather like this?

Now, imagine what our neighbors must have thought was Darlene and I started howling...........

Monday, November 3, 2008

Burn it!

So - what do you do when you are through with a flooring remodel? You have a million little scraps of wood laying around - not to mention all of the old trim that was replaced. Sure - I could cut it up and put it in the trash. But what is the fun in that (other than I getting to use those power tools again!). Maybe there is a way I can dispose of the scraps - still use the power tools - but not add extra weight to the trash can. After all - who wants to roll a heavy trash can to the curb?

Why not burn it!

So that's what we did. I cut it up into small pieces (I love the sound of a radial arm saw on a Saturday morning! I hope my neighbors do too...). Then got out the camping chairs, set everything up, and waited for it to get dark.

Then I lit it up, sat back, and had a beer. Even Darlene had a beer! And the dogs thought we were stupid for sitting out in the yard (they were thinking 'hey - don't we poop out there?').

It was a great time - we wish you could have been there!