serendipitous reflections

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Banana bread contest

Jeni was invited to enter her Grandma Staker's Banana Bread recipe into a banana bread contest. If you've known Jeni long enough, you've had her banana bread, and you know how good it is, so please go over and give her a vote.

Here's the recipe on her kitchen blog.

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Flying Umbrella of Death

It's cloudy and raining on the front side of the house, but sun shiny on the other. Seriously, our house is not that big!

Now, back to the umbrella story. Let's see if I can tell this right...

Beach umbrella -- my savior
We had a little rain when we first got to the beach on Saturday and Sunday (scattered showers), so Monday was the first real day to drag all the goods out to the beach. The beach umbrella is my savior because the sun starts to take its toll on me, but I want to stay out, so it gives me some shade. The last time we were at the beach we bought this really cool PVC pipe with an auger on the bottom that screws down into the sand to secure the umbrella so the winds won't blow it away. So first thing, I screw the anchor into the sand and we sent up for a day at the beach.

After we'd been out for a while, these four foul-mouthed 17-ish-year-old girls come down and sit just behind us and to the side. They're sitting back there in their string bikinis with the strings of their tops undone to not get tan lines when a sudden wind gust comes, grabs the umbrella, pulls it out of the sand, anchor and all, and sends it somersaulting toward them.

So as the "Flying Umbrella of Death" comes hurling toward these girls, they are left with one of two options: jump up to avoid the umbrella and risk losing their tops, or face possibly getting impaled by the point of the umbrella. Well, they all four chose impaling, and luckily only one was struck, slightly across her shoulder, as the umbrella fell in front and slightly on top of them.

They didn't sit near us the rest of the week.

It was really something you'd expect to see in a sitcom.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Back from Ocean Isle

Jeni and I had a great week at Ocean Isle with my parents and Doug's family. We can't thank my parents enough for all they did to make this week at the beach happen. They created this chance for Jeni and I to take Amy and Evan into the ocean (their very first time in the salt water -- Amy: "There's an awful lot of salt in this water" after taking in a mouthful), and we got to spend an entire week with our nieces and nephews, which was such a rare opportunity for us, and one we will always treasure.

The whole group
You can see in the picture that everyone was out having fun on the beach, soaking in the sun, Jeni of course with the best tan.

Happy Birthday, Jeni
We celebrated Jeni's birthday while we were there, too. What better way to spend her birthday than sitting on the beach, then coming in for cake and presents? She got a really cool crab picture from my parents and some great craft items from Doug and Cathy and the kids. Kelly also sent some good souvenirs from her trip to Greece for us.

Jeni's birthday pearls
I got her a string of pearls for her birthday. Now I just need to take her out so she can wear them.

I have a funny story about the "Flying Umbrella of Death" but when I typed it out it wasn't quite as funny as it was when I was thinking about what I would type while sitting on the beach. So maybe I'll retell it tomorrow...

[More pictures are up on Flickr]

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Scavenger Hunt Apartment

Apparently when this architect renovated this apartment in New York, he built into it a bunch of hidden clues and puzzles and created a giant puzzle box/scavenger hunt in the house. The homeowners took a few months to realize this, and then a few weeks to put all the clues together and break the codes and solve the puzzles.
link 1
link 2

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blooming all at once

The flowers in the front yard are all blooming at once. Last year one would bloom, then that flower would wilt and another would bloom, and it was hit or miss that way all summer. It seems they coordinated their blooming this year and it is so refreshing to come home from work and see all these flowers smiling at me.

Beautiful Butterfly enjoy Prairie Blue Eyes
I went out to get a few flower pictures and there was a butterfly sitting on this daylily. It let me get right next to it and showed off its wings for me. Funny, though, that it was by the daylily and not by the butterfly bush...


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Marathon grocery trip

Jeni and I went on a marathon grocery shopping trip on Tuesday. Apparently we hadn't been to the grocery store for a real grocery trip in about three weeks and our fridge was looking pretty sad. So we hit Sam's, Publix, Fresh Market, Bi-Lo and Kroger to stock up.

Two funny observations from the trip:
First, at Sam's, they have "Virginia Brand" ham, made in Oklahoma.
Second, at Publix, they had a Visine display hanging in the beer cooler. I think someone was pretty pleased with themselves over this one.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Catalog choice

Here's a website I heard about driving in this morning. It's called Catalog Choice, and you can select catalogs to no longer get, so you can stop getting the junk in your mailbox. I haven't poked around enough to see if it will let you pick catalogs to get, but I think the intent is to eliminate catalogs and waste, and not to help us get more.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Two Minutes Project

I followed a link to another link to one more that led me to The Two Minute Project, a site publishing super short stories. At a quick glance these are very brief stories, some that string together into longer stories. What is cool is the author's effort to exercise his writing, stories constrained to 100 words exactly, and to still write something that catches your attention. In our quick, no-time-for-anything lives, this is a good chance to actually read and use our imagination, if only for 100 words.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Happy Birthday Nanny!

My grandmother turns 90 today! What an amazing accomplishment for an amazing woman. She is such a great lady, so thoughtful, always remembering birthdays with a card, timed to always arrive on the exact day.

Dean's Nanny
These are some old pictures we copied a few Christmases ago. I know we have some more recent pictures, but I like these old ones for nostalgia.

Nanny is on the left. Pictures just don't look like this anymore.

Happy Birthday, Nanny! We love you!

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sex and the City

Jeni and I were invited to a Sex and the City party and went to see the movie yesterday afternoon. I never really watched the show, but I had an idea about the characters from the five-or-so episodes I watched, and they did a good enough job of re-introducing the characters that anyone with half a brain could pick up and enjoy the movie. There were definitely some awkward moments where you wouldn't want to be watching the movie with your parents. I don't know if I would have thought, this is a movie I have to see right away, but I'm glad we went.

The get-together afterward was very nice, too ... a little cookout and garden party in a very nice house with the kind of backyard we would love to have one day. Kristen Davis, who plays Charlotte in the movie, is from Columbia, and Jeni and I have had the opportunity to meet her parents. They hosted about 50 people at the "Columbia premiere" of the movie. (No surprise guest at the party...)

Today it's back to the pool to work on that base tan for the beach in a few weeks. (Or, for me, the base burn...)