Friday, December 31, 2010


OK I am using you all as experimental guinea pigs. I noted that on the days when I have the word "Panties" in my title, I have tons of people click in to read whatever I have said about them. Even people in South Africa and in far corners of the world.

In my researching phase of life, then, I am just checking to see if my hypothesis is true. If you put the word "Panties" in your title, more people will click on. You be the judge. If you are here reading this, and you have never been on my blog before, I say it is working.

We are getting ready to go to New Year's Eve dinner with my son, Cory, and my daughter-in-law, Ashlee. It is our first dinner where they (Ashlee) have cooked for us so I am looking forward to it, playing with the cats, and enjoying being with them. Life is good right now.

Just in case you are wondering, I am wearing panties. Have a great Happy and Safe New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Week After Christmas

Yes, I know I just wrote another blog on Self-Cleaning Ovens but I thought you, the readers, might enjoy my take on "The Week After Christmas."

‘Twas the week after Christmas
And Jeanne was still working
The shopping all finished
The housework she’s shirking

The cats are lying all snug in their beds
While visions of catnip danced in their heads.
The dryer was spinning the laundry with care.
In hopes that someone would soon be right there.

The washer had started, the clothes were all in it
But the pile of laundry had grown by the minute
with underwear, tablecloths, towels by the score
alas, the poor washer just couldn’t take more.

We put away presents, we took down the tree
We swept broken ornaments , just 2 or 3
Shiny glass ornaments make good cat toys
Swinging and swaying, and CRASH, what a noise!

The doggie had doodled once more on the rug
“Too cold to go peepee,” she said with a shrug.

The list of the things I must do is too long
I’ve crossed off the first three
Now I’m going strong

But wait, there are messages now in my box
My Kindle is waiting; I need my warm sox.
I should be writing and cleaning my home
But it’s time for a nap so just leave me alone!

Self-Cleaning? Really?

If you have been reading my blog, you probably remember that I had a dastardly cookie explosion in my oven during the week before Christmas. The peanut butter cookies (with the Hershey's kiss in the middle) slid right off the cookie sheet and landed in the bottom of the oven, igniting a few flames here and there.

I hoped that some little elves would come in and take care of it for me so I left it go till the next day. In the afternoon, I peeked in the oven and 'twas a sorry sight. The oven was a mess. I do have a magical self-cleaning oven, but this looked like too much for even an experienced oven. So I tried to wipe some of the slick black mass off the bottom of the oven. Alas, my arm muscles need more development for that type of torture. I gave in and turned on the self-cleaner mechanism. Time for the big guns.

The next day I am prepared to wipe out the ashes and dust that would be flaking my oven floor. I wiped it with a cloth. Some of it came off but the rest held tight. What was I to do? What I always do. Consult the internet.

The women on the internet recommended an Easy-Off product that has no fumes, so you don't asphyxiate as you clean. It is used for "self-cleaning ovens", which is beginning to sound like an oxymoron to me. Today I sprayed some on and was able to wipe away a bit of it but there is way more to go.

This brings to light many concerns facing me and my family.

1. Should Jeanne Kraus be allowed near an oven?
2. Should "self-cleaning ovens" be renamed?
3. If I have a self-cleaning oven, how come I am back to Easy-Off with the rubber gloves? I have taken a major step back in time.
4. Did men invent self-cleaning ovens? What do you want to bet?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cookie Disasters

On my last blog, I confessed that I did indeed flunk my Crock Pot Virgin Initiation. It seems that my Crock Pot (and a few other things) have a will of their own, wreaking havoc on what could be a normal Baby Boomer life.

The last two days have been cookie baking days. As I have mentioned before, my baking is somewhat better than my regular cooking ability. Which isn't saying much. Today, I had issues with cookie baking, which you can view for yourself in the set of pictures here on my blog.

I started out nicely with Bella the cat helping me to gather my ingredients. Eventually, she had to be shooed off the counter because I created such a mess with my cooking frenzy. I had several batches done when disaster struck. My new cookie sheets are very slippery. As I attempted to remove one sheet of peanut butter cookies (with Hershey's kisses) in the center, the whole tray of cookies slid downward.

Downward to the bottom of the oven, where it caught fire on the heating element. Downward to the seams in the door where it would be difficult to get out. Downward to the floor of the kitchen, where hungry dogs roved.

It was terrible. I screamed. George ran in and beat out the fire. We scooped as many of the crumbs out of the oven as we could.

George threw the defective cookies in the garbage.

Rewind: Jeff, my oldest son, started unwrapping Hershey's kisses again.

I started mixing new batter. Later, a new batch of cookies, unharmed. Voila!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Flunked Crock Pot

My cooking skills have been sort of the joke of the family for years now, ever since my grown up boys were weaned off Gerber and tried Mother's first homemade meal.

"Ptooey!" they would say, and spit it across the room. No I am just kidding. It wasn't that bad, but there were times when my cooking was a close call. I remember making brownies one time, a solidified brick, that ended up serving as a foundation cornerstone of our new home. Wish I would have saved it to donate to the military as a secret weapon of mass destruction.

Then there was my ham glaze, which my sons still remember lovingly. I made a ham glaze and it did not seem to be thickening so I dumped a huge amount of cornstarch into it. Not only did it thicken up, it got up and walked away from the plate, looking for trouble. Jeff and Cory described it as Primordial Ooze.

My latest conquest was the Crock Pot. I had a Crock Pot years ago, when first married. We made all kinds of good dinners in it, no problems. Now that I have decided to go Crock Pot again, against my husband's better judgment, I bought a new Crock Pot.

You see, George does all the cooking. He is a good cook and it works out well for us. But I wanted to initiate him to the wonders of a Crock Pot. So we bought a beef roast, and followed the directions in my Crock Pot cookbook. We cut the meat into cubes and browned it. Dumped it in along with carrots, onions and potatoes and celery. So far, I was feeling pretty confident. Then I got to the rest of the ingredients list. We had no beef broth, whole tomatoes, bay leaf and other spices. So we improvised, which included adding a large can of crushed tomatoes. Let me tell you, when the can says crushed, it means crushed.

When we got done, it looked like a sea of tomato sauce. With misgivings, I turned it on and reassured myself that it would magically turn into a wonderful meal. 6-7 hours later, we looked in the pot. The meat had shrunk down to the size of pencil erasers. You needed a magnifying glass to find it. The sauce was bitter.

George got a bowl and sat down. "How is it?" I inquired.

"It's edible!" he said. He was being kind, very kind.

Later on, Ashlee, my daughter-in-law came over for a visit. She came over to fix everything in my life that I had screwed up or could not get to work. We spent about 3 hours on the computer, and then I let her look at the leftover dinner. She wrinkled her nose at the pathetic leavings in the bowl.

"How can you mess up a crock pot dinner?" I think she was in awe of my womanly powers. She examined the eraser sized meat. "I think you cooked it too long. You really did not need to put the tomato sauce in."

I listened intently. In the future, she might be giving me Crock Pot lessons. She is less than half my age. But the girl can cook.

Next stop: Christmas Cookies.

As Ashlee left, she gave me this reason for hope. "I told Cory that you were making Christmas cookies. He looked pretty concerned but then reassured me. He said that, 'Well, she's not so bad at baking (excluding that pan of brownies) so maybe they will be okay.'"

I'll take whatever confidence I can get.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

They Call This Low Maintenance?

If you know me, or have read my last book, you are aware that I lead a Low Maintenance Life, frugally saving so many hours in my life that I have added years on to my expected lifetime. My Low Maintenance lifestyle includes cutting back on things such as make-up application longer than 1 minute, hairstyling extravaganzas such as coloring and highlighting, manicures, etc. However, I added on one extra detail as of today.

Every 6 weeks I go in to JC Penney and get my hair washed and cut. I also get my eyebrows waxed. In a burst of interest in my personal appearance, I also had the beautician look at my upper lip.

"Do you think I need to have it waxed?" I asked, sure that she would say no.

"Yes!" she said, as though she had been waiting for that question. "And let's do the sides of your face also."

To be honest, I had noticed that I was sprouting an unattractive peach fuzz on my face. I figured my mother had it, her mother had it. I would be hairy also. But then I decided to do something about it. What the heck. I would go for broke.

A little while later, my face was hairless and ready for her to cut my hair.
She wrapped a towel around my neck under my cape and we were ready.

George arrived to drive me home. I was done so I stood up and headed for the front counter. My hairstylist had to call me back to take off the cape and towel. As I neared the counter to pay, George noted that 2 long hairs were hanging where the towel had covered my neck. So back to the chair for a retouch. As I sat down, I leaned too hard on one side of the chair and tipped it over to the side,nearly going down with me in it.

Altogether it took about 1 hour of my valuable time, which was not too bad. Unfortunately, I had gotten there early and had time to the inexpensive visit wasn't so inexpensive once I spent 65.00 at JCP. But it was all on sale!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Key to Life

It has been a crazy week. I keep losing things. I had too much STUFF to deal with all week, on the home front and at work and just could not keep track of everything. Nothing unusual as of late. This week I once again lost my work key. Now I wear my key to my office around my neck with my laminated ID card. I always put it in the same place, almost always anyway, when I take it off. On Wednesday, I got in the car to go to work and noticed. My key was missing. Oh, I had remembered my jingle bell necklaces but my key that I needed all throughout the day? MIA.

I did not go back home to look for it. There wasn't time. I was pretty sure it was at work. So I got to work, annoyed and bothered by the missing ID tag. I made it down to my office and could not get in, of course. Silly me. My door was locked and I had no key. So my friend Daniel kindly let me in. I frantically ripped through everything in my office for about 5 minutes and then had to leave for AM duty. (If you work in a school you know what that is) I went to the cafeteria, ID and keyless, still bothered by the loss. By 9 AM I had decided not to worry myself over it. If it showed up, I would be happy. If not, I would have to report to the office manager that Jeanne Kraus, nitwit, had struck again. Not that that would be a surprise.

Around 12:30, I untangled my 3 bell necklaces and Eureka! There was my ID tag and key hanging around my neck. This meant that (A) It had been there all the time, (B) Someone had sneaked up on me and dropped it over my head when I was not looking, and (C) I found it myself and put it on without thinking.

For me, these are all totally credible possibilities. For now, I shall just enjoy the magic of Christmas and the Return of the Key.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Memories

In an elementary school, the last week before Christmas is a hectic one. For some reason, the kids are all revved up, not wanting to multiply 9 x 8, or write complete sentences. They're not on their best behavior, despite the undeniable fact that Santa lurks right around the corner.

As a child, I remember believing that I had to be "especially good" before Christmas or Santa would just skip right over me. I also believed the story that Santa would only come if we were in bed. If I got up to even just go to the bathroom, and it happened to be the exact moment that Santa arrived, he would not come in. On Christmas Eve, I tried to go to bed early so Santa would have plenty of time in which to do his good deeds for us. Oh, I was gullible.

But the year we got bicycles was probably the high point of my believing anything. My parents had bought us new bicycles and stored them in the garage. In order to keep us out of the garage, they told us that an exterminator had sprayed a toxic lethal poison in that garage to kill bugs. If the door was opened even a crack, the person would instantly die. Not once did we wonder about parents who would allow such a noxious chemical to be sprayed in our garage. We just stayed out of the garage and hope that no fumes would leak under the door. For two weeks, we breathed a sigh of relief that we had made it through each day. Even on Christmas, when the bikes were delivered by Santa, and the toxic poison seemingly and mysteriously evaporated, I didn't figure out that the bikes had been in the garage all along.

But the last couple of days of school have been filled with gift-giving, poinsettias, singing, cookies, candy and good wishes. I wore my 3 jingle bell necklaces every day and alternated my snowflake/snowman earrings daily. I was jolly. I was festive. I was in the spirit.

Today was Polar Express Day. We love the book and the movie. The movie was shown to the classes during the day and everyone, kids and staff, dressed in their jammies.

At the end of the day, I hopped aboard one of the buses to keep order with the kids on their last day. The bus dropped me off about 4 blocks from school. You may have seen me, in my candy cane jammies, Santa hat, decked out with jingle bell necklaces with a walkie talkie in my hand. Ah! Christmas memories.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Which Way Do I Go?

As the holidays approach I find that my attention span takes a lot of twists and turns. Of course, there are the endless Christmas lists, which I write out, lose and write out again. I think I have made 6 or 7 copies this year. A lot of shopping is done online, thank you. Love that convenience. I do not do any crowd-pushing, in-line standing things to get a special item. No one I know wants anything that bad and if they do, they can stand in line themselves.
How my attention veers off, is that I find things I want for myself. George and I don't do much in the way of gifts for each other so when I find something I want, or something I know he would like, I bring it home along with the gifts. TOday's find was buttons that you can attach on your pants when they get too tight and it will loosen up your waistband for you. Not that I know anyone who will need to use them.
For some reason, the Christmas season brings out the organizer in me and you will find me, in addition to wrapping gifts and searching for Christmas decorations, rearranging my files and my office. Today I came home with some bargain binders from Office Depot. 2.5 inch rings with 2 packages of paper included in each binder for 94 cents each. I had to buy them. I wiped out their entire selection.
Next was the annual Christmas cards and letter that probably puts everyone to sleep that reads it. But I have to write it, because it is one of my few traditions that I stick to. Around this time, I start searching for my Christmas decorations and gift wrap. I find my bell necklaces and snowflake earrings and my sets of Xmas socks and my 3 Christmassy sweaters and Santa Hat and I dress with festive pride to go to work.
We have a little Christmas table-top tree, pre-lit, which was greatly appreciated by George. I managed to get him to put it up last week. I started wrapping the gifts that I had gotten and it looks very nice. However, the ornaments and decorations are still stored in the garage so I have that to do tomorrow. By the time I have all the parts of Christmas together, it will be here.
I am also of the mind that when it is over, it's over. It is not unlike me to take the tree down the very next day after Christmas.
Christmas is also Maggie's birthday. Maggie is my little wiener dog and she is a Christmas baby. So we will have to sing HB to her in addition to our Christmas songs.
So as you can see Christmas is a many-splendored thing in our home. The best thing for us though is that we manage to help out someone less fortunate with a dinner, gifts, toys, whatever they need. All the's just tinsel. Happy Hollydays!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Open and Shut Cases

If you have met me in person you know that I am a firm believer that every time a door shuts in your life, a window, or a new opportunity arises. It happens to me all the time, in my relationships with people, in my job, in my writing career and in my personal life. As of late, however, the doors are shutting faster than I can manage to find the nearest windows. This weekend I am happy because tutoring extra is allowing me to get some extra money for Christmas gifts. Until, Maggie, our precious wiener dog, woke up Saturday with a totally swollen face. We took her to the vet immediately and she needed dental surgery on 3 teeth, to the tune of 1500.00. Door slams.
But they have a credit plan with no interest for one year. Window opens. I can do that and pay it off during the year, provided no other expenses happen.
I have not been marketing my books for the past month. Too much going on. No window in sight. The door is nailed shut. Yesterday, I get a request for an interview and a copy of my book for a review. The window is open again. I feel motivated to work on my marketing strategies.
Since we are living on one car, we thought we would save the cost of a car payment each month to put aside for a new down payment on a car. So far, in the 6 months we have lived with one car, I have saved a partial roll of quarters and one complete roll of pennies. Oh and a one-dollar coin. The year end sales for cars are happening without us. The door is swinging shut rapidly. But there may be a window opening in January, when George is entering Medicare world and off my insurance. Is it possible that we could save some money then? Hope blooms in my soul!