We Made It!

Yessiree bob, we made it 2300+ miles, cross country, to a foreign state called IDAHO.  I’m thinking- Barry Manilow, “Looks Like We Made It”, but I’ll spare  you, as tempting as it is to link you to that song!

At the wise advice of one who went before us, we resisted the urge to pull our truck, trailer, selves, in after dark.  That meant we had to hole up in a hole in the wall in Kellogg, ID.  Turns out it’s a quaint ski resort, but in the summertime, it’s just a hole in the wall. Plenty of parking, plenty of rooms.  It actually made me appreciate our dinky little cabin.  I guess you could say I’m spoiled when it comes to houses, hotels, bathrooms.  Maybe this trip and cabin will bring me down a notch.  I am thankful to have a roof over my head and running water!!  Ah, I get ahead of myself here…

We pulled into Idaho with little or no fan fair.  It was getting dark, there was no place to pull off at the ‘Welcome to Idaho’ sign, so we eased on it… WOW, it was quite an entrance.  As beautiful as Montana was (and WY and SD and western IA).  Idaho was everything and then some.  There were heavily treed mountains, water, views, the whole 9 yards.  Why do we not hear more about Idaho??  Because the natives are SMART!  They don’t want a bunch of tourists or transplants coming into their state to gunk it up ;-).  Maybe we’ll just have to keep it all on the downlow.  Promise the natives that we’ll only allow super-chic peeps to visit/move here.

We had about an hour drive (or less) that Tuesday morning.  A good night’s sleep and alot of anticipation to see the house we bought, without first previewing.  We are also quite blessed to have been able to send Lance’s brother on ahead of us to spruce it up a tad. Kirk got to live amongst the abandonedness of this cabin and put a bit of hominess into it before we got here.  He’s already met the closest neighbors, Merle & Mountainman Mike (both deserving of their own blog posts).

We live 6.9 miles down a well maintained gravel road.  They don’t spoil/pamper their residents in this neighborhood, there are drop offs into Black Lake on many turns of the road.  I am quite thankful we didn’t try to navigate this after dark.  It was even prettier than I had expected (and more remote, too).

Our new ‘hood.

Please excuse the streak down the middle of some of the photos, our truck windows needed a washing.  Sucha pretty place, sucha a relief to BE here.

Our front (back?) doorWho’s that man in the flannel jammie pants? Why, it’s our caretaker, Kirk (who happens to have the same last name as my beaufriend).

SO good to be here! I love hiking up to the top of our street to capture the breath taking views.

Stay tuned for the good, the bad and the fugly.

View from the top of our street
Where the cell service rocks!

MONTANA, the beautiful!

Pulling out of the Hampton Inn in Buffalo, WY went off without a hitch.  That’s always a relief when you’re driving a big truck, pulling a long trailer.  Wyoming is a pretty state, not many trees tho, wide open rolling terrain. Judy and Jimmy have 40 acres, I don’t think there is a single tree on their property, I could be wrong.  They can see for miles and miles…  I think what amazed me the most in our travels out west was how different and uniquely beautiful each state is. They all have their ‘ugly’ spots too.  There was a ‘hood’ just east of Gillette, WY that was rows and rows of rolling hills with mobile homes pack in on the hillside. It looked odd after miles of nothingness. There were many photos I didn’t capture, I’ll blame my seatbelt for not allowing me to move fast enough to grab my camera(s).

Ok, now on to the next state, Montana.  It is absolutely breath taking.  Pictures just do not do it justice. You must drive through it on Hwy 90 to experience it.  I found myself just oohing and ahhing at every turn.  I was beginning to wonder if the elevation was making me giddy.  Something like 5900 ft above sea level (I’ll verify that, later).

A spectacular view every which way you turn

There were creeks (‘Forks’) that wound around the mountain ranges and along the highway.  I kept seeing Clark Fork over and over again, never tiring of seeing where it would pop up next.  The water just sparkled.  Often I wondered why I was so giddy about MT. John Denver’s song “Rocky Mountain High…” played in my head, often.

Locating truck stops were a little easier, they even had some funny names for filling stations here, too- ‘Whoa ‘n Go’ was a personal fave.  The ‘Pump Stop’ had coffee, booze and gas, what more could folks need?  We pulled off to gas up near a forest fire in the making.  It was eery, scary and mesmerizing to watch.  It started small (imagine that) and with the wind as whipping as it was, spread like, well wild fire.  There was one helicopter going to a nearby lake, scooping up water and dumping it on the fire.  He was fighting a losing battle.

Watching from a truckstop

Our Montana-Monday drive was my favorite for a few reasons.  The obvious, it’s freaking gorgeous!  It was also the last long day of driving.  All morning we were watching the GPS to see what time we’d arrive at our destination.  Kirk advised us NOT to come into our community at night.  The roads in our new ‘neighborhood’ are gravel, narrow, winding, dark and most importantly they drop off without any railings to protect you.  About lunchtime, Lance became OK with the idea of not rolling in that night.  We were so  close, yet so far.

A view from my window
Montana- Pretty as far as the eye can see

Sunny Sunday in South Dakota

South Dakota was nice.  Nothing to write home about, and where IS home, anyway? We bordered on being touristy.  We tried taking the loop through the Badlands, but a sign prohibiting trucks vetoed that plan.  We did pull off on a scenic exit to try to capture the view.  Pretty, but being closer would have been awesomer.  See below, don’t we look like dorky tourists ;-)?

Supposta be scenicI did get to have a much sought after Buffalo-(hot)Dog.  Eh, beef is better.  Lance said they have hybrid animals called Beefalos, am I gullible, cause I believe him and now seek a Beeffalo hot dog (with no luck, yet).  Just after this photo, we about ran out of gas. Even though my recent transplant friend in Wyoming (also known as Judy) warned me about the slim selection of gas stations.  I laughed (outloud even) at the sign that said “Gas NOW or gas can later”, great marketing ploy… only, it wasn’t a ploy!  By the grace of God, we made it to the tourist trap 1880 Town and paid an arm and a leg for a fill up.  Lesson learned?  Prolly not.

Sunday was going to be a ‘short day’ since we made plans (and even got a hotel reservation this time) in Buffalo, WY.  We wanted to hook up with former Bama-ians, Judy & Jimmy.  Judy posted something on Facebook that makes me smile even now “I feel like I spent my whole life- living in the wrong place”  I’m really excellent at misquoting people, but you get the gist.  Wyoming really is pretty, they had these large mounds scattered all over the landscape, Lance dubbed them “Earthtitties’ that made perfect sense to me (I apologize for the dirty windshield, I stink at cleaning windows).

We rolled into Buffalo with plenty of time for Lance to take a power nap before our double date with Judy & Jimmy.  Brand spankin new Hampton Inn, nestled at the foot of the Rockies (<–they even had snow still on them, in August!).

Rolling into the RockiesWhen Judy comes back to Birmingham, she travels without staying in a hotel.  She IS younger than me…   We had a yummy dinner, she wouldn’t let me take pictures, I guess she’s hiding out in the witness protection plan, hoping not to be sent back to the heat of her hometown, Birmingham, AL.

Fun night visiting their 40 acres and umpteen cats & dogs (+ newly acquired chickens)… next up MONTANA, oh how I loved, MT!

A Saturday Drive, Detouring Our Way Through the Midwest

Millions of $$s Worth

Driving until 1am the evening before meant not alot to see.  I didn’t mind so much because I’ve made the drive to Nashville and through KY before, it’s pretty, but nothing new to me.  Missing out on seeing what south IL looked like by day, not a problem either.  I was most thankful to have a place to lay my head and for Lance to recharge for the long journey still ahead of us.

Aside from a little rain and several big cities worth of Saturday morning traffic, the morning ride was uneventful.  Why am I still amused that Kansas City is primarily in Missouri, not Kansas.  I was also amused that MO had so many wineries.  I didn’t see any signs for ‘free wine-tasting’, so I wasn’t able to try any (nor did we stop to buy any).  Missouri was rather ho-hum.  St. Louis was unimmpressive too, I guess cause I am not a fan of big cities, traffic and slumish areas.  Much to my delight, we found a Cracker Barrel and had a decent meal.

We were making great time UNTIL the highway we seem to own (little or no traffic) came to an abrupt hault.  While pointing out points of interest to Lance, I saw on the map a body of water called ‘Big Lake’ I was joking at how unoriginal the name was, but the lake seemed big, indeed.  Lance asks, something to the effect of  “should there be houses and barns IN the lake?”  CRUD, the reason north I29 was so vacant was because of the upcoming DETOUR because of an early summer flood on the Missouri River.

Man what a detour; bumpy, winding, narrow 2 lane roads driven by old folks in no hurry to get anywhere. The positive in all this was seeing some of the coolest wind turbine farms (I call them farms, not sure what they call them).  I meant to research what/where/why and who the heck is paying for all that.  After that impressive display we were treated to the coolest looking cornfields in SE IA.  While Iowa is my home state, I didn’t travel in it much.  Maaan, it was absolutely gorgeous.  The fields were rolling hills and the land was tiered- so the water wouldn’t just wash off the fields.  It was quite pretty (and really surprising).

Riding in a truck, you have a different travel experience.  Having to stop at Truck Stops was actually quite pleasant.  The ladies restrooms aren’t nearly as crowded, they have great coffee and getting in and out was alot easier.  One gas station chain that amused me was Kum & Go, that’s just wrong ;-). MY biggest complaint about the truck was the seat belts.  Lance fussed at the ‘governor’ only allowing him to go 55mph down hill. I fussed at the seatbelt-governor, not allowing me to move forward.

Another thing that surprised me was how many different times we crossed over the Missouri River.  Very pretty, indeed.  I hope I got some photos.  By the end of our trip I had my lap full, cell phone camera, regular camera and mini video camera.  This whole trip was quite memorable.  I feel VERY blessed to have been able to make it here safely and funnly (yeah, I know, that’s not a word, but the dictionary is not the boss of me).  I’m certain there is an App on the iPhone for truckers to a.) avoid detours b.) find decent truck stops c.) get some good eats.  Our GPS got quite annoyed with us for putting her in recalculating mode, often.

We rolled into Mitchell, SD, late, once again, no room in the Hampton, thankfully the Comfort Inn next door had one more room, just for us! Perfect, we’ll take it!  Even got the ‘after-midnight’ discount, thank You Lord!

On tap for Sunday: South Dakota, Wyoming, plus dinner with JUDY & JIMMY and finally, a glass of WINE!

And Away We Go..

$200 spent in record timeFriday, August 19th, last day to live in Alabama (for now).  I know I brag on Lancelot, alot, but he really does some pretty amazing feats.  Last Friday his agenda included: take me to work (1 car family now) get Power of Attorney drawn up for closing next week, get it signed, notarized, taken to the title company. Finish packing truck.  Clean house (even if he did forget to clean the fridge, I hope Mo forgives us), load the Jetta onto a trailer not set up for low profile vehicles.  All this in the middle of August in Alabama.  Lock up and drive off to pick up–> ME by 3:30.

I spend the day trying not to let everyone know it’s my last one on duty.  My friend (and boss’s wife) Marie kept stopping by to say good-bye.  Not knowing if I’d still be there or not.  The HARDEST part (and I tear up even now) was when Kristie came by to hang out then I finally had to hug and say good-bye <insert cry break here>.  I don’t like good-byes, at least not with thems I love.  (Yes, editor-Lance, I know ‘thems’ isn’t proper, but this WAS my last day in Alabama, please allow it).  Fast forward to NOW, Lance asks, “do you have the sniffles”  me, “yes, sniffling indeed”  Lance, “that doesn’t really sound like sniffles in there…”  Ok, so I boo hooded AGAIN.  A lady that just moved back from China, told me to allow time to ‘mourn’ the loss of everything (peeps) I left behind.

Let me insert the obvious here that what I will miss most is my 2 kids!  I do plan to try to lure them out for a visit and maybe even a move (shhh, don’t tell me it ain’t gonna happen).  I raised 2 independent people, they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, living, loving life. I’m glad they each have a significant other (partner in crime, love of their life) to make their journey more fun.

Once Lance rolled into Mt Laurel with his big rig and Jetta in tow, he gets a call from a resident wanting to see the Jetta.  I only tried to sell this car for ONE MONTH and the exact minute we try to leave town, Ted rolls down on his skate board to look at the VW.  Thankfully Ted was just a tire kicker… Lance and Mary roll on out to Hwy 280, on a Friday afternoon during rush hour.  Can you say BLEHCK!

Once we got north of Birmingham, it was smooth sailing.  When people say ‘Godspeed’ I wonder if that is how we travelled.  Here we are, late in the day after a VERY busy week (especially for Lance) and we make it all the way to Mount Vernon, Illinois.  Dang. After our 2nd attempt to get a room after midnight, we got the last room at the local Hampton Inn.  The creepy little inn keeper gives us a key to 311, apparently he forgot, someone else was already there.  Thank goodness for the latches, or else we could have walked into someone else’s nightmare.  Note to self, write to Hampton Inn about the first crappy hotel I’ve stayed at that was a Hampton. Two tired puppies, thankful for a place to curl up.

Good-bye Cute Little Honda Civic Coupe

What a week!  These posts will try to capture the events of each day. Every day this past week has been an episode or a chapter in our fun adventure.  My attention span is short when reading blogs (reports, books, magazines).  Show me a picture and tell me a little about it. I’ll try to keep you interested and reading, wanting more.  Telling the good the bad and the fun.  Those of you friends with me on Facebook, you already got a ‘play-by-play’ of our days.

Today is Thursday, August 25th, 2011.  I would have been married 27 years, had I stayed on the road more traveled.  I chose to go down a gravel road and have an adventure!  Hooking up with Lance has made the ride quite enjoyable!  Wanna hear about our last week?  No? Well shoo.  Yes? Well, goodie.

A week ago was the eve of our move date.  I was going to stay through October to help with the transition of my job to the ‘new girl’ (Kim) and hang around for my favorite daughter’s wedding.  Plans change, sometimes for the best.  Kim is experiencing ‘baptism by fire’ and Kristie is handling all the wedding planning.  Time to exit stage left, Mare.

We had a moving truck full of 1/2 our stuff (Lance’s sweet brother Kirk already took 1/2 our stuff to our new house a month ago) plus 2 sporty cars to move.  I put an ad on craigslist late Wednesday night, early Thursday morning a man from west AL (near MS) called to say he wanted to come buy it.  Wow, that was fast, timely and a huge blessing for them and us.  I loved my car, but there was no way a civic would handle the roads and snow at our next stop in this adventure.  This car sat idle for several years because I was blessed to be able to walk to work.  I only filled up every other month (really).  It was almost 5 years old with less than 40,000 miles.

So, Thursday night, the night before we were to move, sweet Donny and his wife LuAnn drive away with their daughter’s (surprise) college graduation present.  One less BIG thing to move.  Thank You God for allowing things to go so smoothly.

Next up, ‘And Away We Go..’

The Eve of Our Departure
Stopping traffic to wave good-bye

Moving is for the Birds

This stuff hasta gooooo
Chaos

Who ever said “moving is for the birds’ was not thinking clearly.  Actually, birds have got it right.  They take only the feathers on their back. Lance and I have been together about 3 years now and we’ve moved 5 times already.  It hasn’t gotten any easier, yet. I’m thankful he’s so strong and glad that our Realtor friend, Rockey, still answers his phone when he knows we’ve got a move on the horizon. The most interesting move was when we stayed 7 months at a house that was already completely furnished. We put all our stuff into PODS. Whoever created that idea is a genius. No truck to rent/drive/gas up and get back in a few days.  No loading truck, unloading to storage unit, reload from storage onto truck and unload at next house.

Everyone has moved, some of us, many times. I wish I could say I’ve gotten good about skinnying down. I still have much to learn. I DID go to Target & TJ Maxx last week and managed to buy ZERO (not even any popcorn, only because my crown was busted). When my parents became actual Empty Nesters- (it took awhile, cause a few of us ‘boomeranged’ back into the nest for a spell)they moved from Iowa to Florida. My mom and dad actually were snow birds, and they moved like the birds, taking zero furniture or dishes with them.  My mom’s friends thought she was insane. Some of my sisters-in-law thought it a bit odd, too. Mom told her 7 kids they could come get what memorabilia they wanted, but the rest was getting sold or given to charity. Wow, looking back I am quite in awe of that move. They bought a condo that had everything, even the silverware. What fun for them to have all new stuff. Later on they bought a 2nd house in TX and slowly started acquiring more ‘stuff’ (don’t we all?)

For our current ‘flip this house’ project, we borrowed alot of furniture to fill it up. We went from a 1200 sq ft house in the country to this 3300 sq ft house, closer in. Lance does a primo job getting our assorted furnishings staged just right. Potential buyers are impressed with what Mr. Fixit & Mr. Decorator have done! He’s even Mr. Clean, when he wants to be. Enough about my ‘mid-life catch of a man’. Mr. Right  😉 and I are headed to a 760 sq ft cabin, 1 tiny bathroom, plus an extra person (RKK). Thank goodness there is a big arse pole barn there, too. Another adventure awaits, for sure!  Maybe this blog will finally get to be about actually GOING TO IDAHO.

One day, maybe we’ll be done moving. Maybe we’ll even dub it  ‘Dunmovin Farm‘.  In the meantime, we pack up and wonder “how did we acquire so much STUFF?”  I think any young adult needs to befriend someone moving. How much ‘unwanted stuff’ they could acquire for free!  Not to mention all the freezer goods that just won’t be moved from point A to point B. Which reminds me, dinner needs to consist of frozen corn & lima beans.

The much dreaded question…

What’s for dinner?

What’s this got to do with going to Idaho? Wait for it. Lance asked me yesterday why I haven’t posted a blog lately. Followed up with ‘not complaining, it’s just a question’ (and I believe him).  I have ideas, then forget them.  I have ideas (today at 4am) and write it all up in my head, decide what photos I want and then get overwhelmed by the plan.  Excited to write about it, but until I’ve had 2.5 cups of coffee, that plan ain’t gonna happen – yet.  SO… I thought, why do I have to have photos for every post? The day I did, the hyperlinks wore me out (as learning new things tend to do to all of us).  This is MY blog and you’re here to read it cause you love me, hate me, are bored or just because it showed up in your inbox or status updates and you’ve got nothing better or convenient to read.

So, no photo shoot, no tasty dinner ideas, like my FB friend and supermom Sasha has to post each day.  Maybe I could just link you to her. Her life is rather full and she cooks the tastiest looking dinners!  Her life is pretty rich!

It sure takes me a long time to get to my point… Last week a friend posted on her status something about hating the predinner hour because her husband won’t answer her inquiry, “what would you like for dinner Mike?”  I remember hating to plan menus for the week because I’d be making the same boring meals again and again.  I was tired of making them. My family had to be tired of eating them.  For a few months I tried ‘scheduling’ the days.  I don’t recall what I did, something like Monday is meatloaf, Tuesday pork chops, Wednesday spaghetti…. Sunday EAT OUT.  It sure made it easier to get the kids up for church, when eating out afterwards was the plan.

Growing up, my amazing mother (She really was. I’m not just saying that cause I think she subscribes to my blog, in heaven).  There were 7 kids in my family: 1 sister and 5 brothers (I cannot imagine feeding 5 teenage boys and 2 fickle girls).   Dinner was ALWAYS served at 5:30.  I think my dad got home a little after 5. This allowed him enough time to come home, change into his Mr. Rogers cardigan, and show up at the head of the table.  How did my mom think of things to have every night for dinner (not to mention shop, buy, cook and clean it up)?  She wasn’t a spectacular cook, but she got the job done.  I do not remember the infamous ‘hot dog soup’ my oldest siblings speak of, but I do recall meatballs and spaghetti, pork roast, meatloaf, baked chicken, ham and baked beans. Growing up Catholic, Fridays usually needed to be meatless.  I actually loved her tuna casserole, the frozen then baked ‘fried’ shrimp, notsomuch.  Prolly why I don’t like shrimp (or pork roast) today.

If you live in a household where someone cooks you dinner, the very least you can do is to give them some ideas for meals. Even if they don’t ask, ‘what would you like for dinner?’.  Make them a list of the meals you like or find a new recipe for them to try. Thinking of something new isn’t that easy.  There was a blogger out there that made a different meal in her crock for 365 days. Nice adventure for her family (or not).  If a recipe has more than 6 ingredients in it, I think long and hard about making it.  Heck, why not surprise the regular cook in your house and cook dinner for them.

My life has changed dramatically in the last few years.  Dinner time is almost nonexistent. Yes we eat, but not at 5:30 every night.  Yes we cook, but not every night, sometimes not even once a week.  When we do cook, we usually triple the batch and eat leftovers. Or Lance loves rice and can do things with a bowl of rice that will stimulate any palate.  I am the pesto queen, so easy and so yummy.  It turns any bowl of pasta into a delicious meal.  We’re actually a good team, joining my likes and his.

What has this article got to do with Idaho? Well, potatoes, my friends, potatoes.  Everytime we mention to someone that we’re moving there, they think they are so funny when they say…”You must really like potatoes” (it WAS funny, the first 2xs I heard it). But, funny thing is, we do!  We make a meal out of a potato (I always want to add an ‘e’, but the ridicule Dan Quayle got tends to help me auto correct myself).  So now I shall reveal our easy meal plan.  Zap as many taters as you want til ‘almost done’ rub them in oil and sprinkle with SeasonAll (you know, that tasty seasoning some places coat their fries in).  Place on pan and bake in the oven at 400 for 15-30 minutes (we eat the skin, so crispy is best). Cut open your potato, and if you must, put butter (I skip that part) and then (here comes the weird part)……. a couple of huge dollops of cottage cheese, followed by bacos, then salt & pepper.  It sounds ODD, but it  is SO yummy.  One of my favorite meals, actually.  Yeah, Lance and I, we’re not your average couple. For that, I feel blessed.

Next blog, provided I getter done, will be about Changes (I add this last line to remind myself so I don’t forget my plan).

These are a few of my favorite things~

We’ve all got things in our collection of STUFF that we .  We’ve all got things we wonder “WHY did I spend good $ on this??”  I may have to keep this an open-ended post, as we come across things we love and things we can do without.  It’s all about simplifying our life, not adding crap to fill drawers or pole barns.

If I may quasiquote Lance (again, can you tell, I’m quite a fan of his).  If I heard this once, I’ve heard it 32 times “Baby, it’s all in the tools”.  We say that to each other at least once a week.  I like it when I understand his idioms.  Other things he says I’m often left scratching my head – for weeks.  Like this one by Abraham Maslow, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”  I think I get it, but I won’t go requoting that verbally, just yet.  To quote another favorite person in my life, Della Pender JUST told me today “I truly believe we are to share our experiences and hard knocks with others in hopes they will not have to go thru things we go thru in life.”  ←That, my dear blog readers is the main reason for this blog: share our ups, downs, trials and accomplishments.  Hopefully you can learn from us and your journey will be even more enjoyable.

Back to a few of my favorite things (those of you old enough to remember, feel free to sing while you browse the list →Flashback~Favorite things).

First off, I loathe going to Walmart these days – crowded, rude, lack of selection (and NO ONE can read the EXIT/ENTER written over the doorways).  Have any of you EVER gone and bought just one thing at the store?  You may save money on one item, but the other 12 ‘must haves’ usually put the tab well over $50.  That’s one reason I love Amazon – FREE shipping if you spend over $25. I read somewhere that they’re Walmart’s #1 competitor, not Target (as I expected).  My links take you to where they can be found on Amazon, but feel free to endure the crowds, traffic, dumb cashiers and shop till you drop at your local retailer.

Many of my recent product ♥s are Lance induced. A few I discovered on my own. No matter, we love’em. Maybe you will too:

◊ Why pay grocery store prices for sprouts?  They’re so much healthier, tastier and cheaper if you make your own sprouts at home

◊ Lance isn’t a fan of anything Black & Decker, but this Rice Cooker has served us well. It was a gift (thank you Fay!) and we use it all the time.  Rice is one of the cheapest ways to feed and fill up your family (not to mention store, for the future – think TEOTWAWKI).  It’s not just a rice cooker, either. We steam veggies in it, too.

◊ I try to resist infomercial deals, but I really love my Magic Bullet. I use it for smoothies & shakes. Lance uses it for mixing up sauces, like when he makes Kimchi. It’s great for pesto and chopping nuts, too.  Very little to clean up and its gadgets are all pretty handy.  I store all mine in the bag it comes with, so I don’t have to go looking for stray parts.

◊  Any ice cream lover must get one of these (or borrow Kristie’s, cause mine is in Idaho): Ice Cream (made easy). The first time I used it I went all fancy and made mango sorbet (TOO MUCH WORK). Then I made the old fashioned kind (again TMW).  I stumbled upon an easy vanilla recipe that Lance loved.  End of experimenting (+ end of paying $6 for premium ice cream).

◊ We love our cheese. This tool is quite handy, a Cheese Slicer .  Easy to use and adjustable slice thickness – a must have for cheese addicts.  It wouldn’t hurt to friend the Sasha J, from B’ham, she’ll keep you stocked with the best cheese around.

◊ If it doesn’t stack right or isn’t microwave friendly, it’s not welcome in our cupboard.  Form AND Function (another Lism). That’s why we really enjoy our Corelle Dishes. They’ve got enough style to to avoid a “ho hum” label. Plus they’re light-weight, thin, stack well and come with a 3-year break and chip warranty.  We use the heck out of them and they look brand new.

◊ We drink alot of coffee. We had so many mismatched to-go mugs, we threw a bulk of them out and kept only a few. My son gave me one of these  XOXO Java 2GO . Lance liked it so much, he ordered one in every color.  We can mix ‘n match lids. Now we’re well stocked for life!

◊ My life would not be complete without this Micro Popper.  I do not care for the prepackaged microwave popcorn (+ it’s not healthy for you). The bowl is so easy and cheap. Plus it uses very little, if any, oil.  I don’t even wash it out between uses – I call it seasoned.  Sometimes I splurge and put butter on it, but usually just butter salt.

OK, that was fun (and a lot of work)!  I’ve got a long list of favorite Pampered Chef items I love (+ some Lance loves that I can do without – I sent those to Idaho on the first boat up there).  Stay tuned for PC faves (maybe my PC lady will give me some free stuff if I pimp her wares).  But she may not be happy when I express some dislike for some PC products.