Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween let down

Halloween in Des Moines is straight up bizarre. There are very set times for trick or treating and they almost never fall on actual Halloween. They call it Beggars' Night and it looks like this:
  • It's almost never on actual Halloween, which is a definite buzzkill. For us, it was last night.
  • Sanctioned trick or treating lasts from 6-8pm ONLY. No surprise high schoolers in masks at 10:00 'round these parts. 
  • Kids expect to tell jokes. (Really, this one doesn't bother me because I remember always having a joke ready for those few stubborn old folks who wouldn't give me a Reese's without hearing a lame knock-knock joke first)
No matter how long I've been here or how much I flat-out love this place, nothing about Beggars' Night will ever make sense to me. 

Add to this cultural conundrum the fact that I live on what I can only assume is the least fun street in the entire city. It's a long, long block and I can see about seven houses in either direction. You know how many had our lights on last night? Three. Three measly little houses catering to just seven groups of kids.

Bah humbug, Des Moines!

Here at Bigger, Better, Best, we refuse to go down without a fight and we shall keep our Halloween humor til the last.

 28.5% of the kids who came to out door declared a definite desire to say hi to the kitties, which was not met with matched enthusiasm by the cats.
Our jacks!

 We made spooky scene with a giant spider and paper bats that flew around on fishing line. They looked pretty awesome in the wind, but where tough to capture in pictures.

Dracula showing off his teeth.

I've got to know: Is your Des Moines neighborhood so lonely at Halloween? Out-of-towners: can I sell you 7 lbs of candy for real cheap?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cookies you make when it's autumnal out-of-doors

First off, thank you readers for your thoughtful words on my last post. You are just the sweetest.

Second off, and speaking of sweets, I need to share with you this recipe, which came my way via Pinterest, which is the source of far too many outlandishly amazing fusion dessert ideas for this gal.

For instance: caramel apple cookies. Oh!

I tried unsuccessfully with three cookies to take photos beautiful enough to show you how delectable these gems are. My low success rate is due in part to my heavy reliance on a camera phone as well as the fact that, in actual life, these cookies looked too good to be merely admired and so I showed them the proper respect and ate them post haste.

For a more accurate visual account, please refer to the original recipe post, linked above in Paragraph Two.

For a more accurate digestive account, please make these cookies, microwave them for 8 seconds before consuming and report back.

Your urgency in this matter is appreciated.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A life well satisfied

Last weekend, my family gathered in a hospital room to be with our Nana, who had been sick for a while and late last week, took a turn for the worst. We sat with her, ate pizza, played Sequence and told stories. Sunday afternoon, Hubs and I began the drive from St. Louis back to Des Moines. About half way there, my sister called and asked me to turn around. I did and about 30 minutes after I got back in the hospital room and just one inning shy of the Cardinals securing their spot in the World Series, Nana passed away peacefully.

It's been a hard week with lots of little logistical frustrations made worse by our raw grief and coming to terms with what happened that night. But, through the sadness, we've been able to see the small signs and signals which remind us that someone is most definitely looking out for our family. It began with me spotting a billboard on my drive down for a podunk little airline - the same one that would later fly me over the hospital and return me to my family at the exact right time. It continued with a "Welcome" balloon given to Nana when she moved into a nursing home a few weeks ago rushing out of the car and sailing away as my Mom arrived at the church for the funeral. It happened again at the cemetery, where we arrived early, allowing my sister to be near her phone when, at the originally scheduled burial time, she got a phone call with good news about a potential job.

Small though these are, they have given me and my family the peace we need to move forward. We'd known this was coming for a while; Nana was diagnosed with cancer about 18 months ago. Thanks to her medicine and the care my Mom gave her, she was able to enjoy much of that time. If you look at her obituary, you'll see we asked for donations for the Chronic Disease Fund in lieu of flowers. That's the non-profit that paid for her meds, which was one of the greatest gifts we could have received. They help with medical costs for all kinds of chronic diseases: cancer, MS, heart failure, ALS and more. The treatments for these diseases can be incredibly expensive and can wipe out savings in just a few months in some cases.

Now, go send your Nana a letter. If she's anything like mine, she'll stash it away with all the others. Nanas are excellent stashers, as well as superb readers, skilled free-drink-getters, perfect knowers of current events, really good salad connosuiers and irreplaceable encouragers.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wherein smartphones save my basement

I've lived in a different town from my parents for the past ten years. In that decade, I've taken up residence in four different places in Des Moines and it seems like every time they visit, we take on some tiny project that invariably requires a trip to Ace Hardware. From fixing a broken futon sophomore year to getting nails to hand pictures in our first house, family time is also fixin' time.

(Fun Fact: I'd totally forgotten that Hubs clued my dad into his plans to ask me to marry him at our neighborhood Ace. If our life was a movie, that scene would have had some definite foreshadowing music.)

This time, we were hellbent on hanging our TV on the swivel mount we bought back in February, when a finished basement was but a distant dream. The mount itself weighs about 80 pounds since we wanted the fully swivle-able kind, so we had to do some serious drilling.

The sight of all these half inch holes in the drywall I had so lovingly hung, mudded and sanded broke my poor little heart.

It was here that we first ran into problems. Having wired the basement on our own, we kind of knew where wires were. We had placed them behind thick metal stoppers under studs so we wouldn't do something stupid like drill a half inch hole into a wire and have to re-electrify the entire basement and heavily self-medicate for the next six months.

So when that middle hole was blocked by metal, we got nervous. We knew the metal plates where much larger than the area where there was actual wire (or in this case, cable), so we needed to figure out if the wire was truly behind where the hole needed to be or if we were good to just bust through the metal since that particular half inch wasn't protecting anything.

Problem was, it was really hard to see through the tiny cable box opening to see down inside the wall. 

Luckily, Dad saved the day with his idea to angle his phone in the cable opening and snap a few photos.

Just so you know, we tried all four of our phones, hoping for better angles and it seems my Mom's Motorola was the skinniest and therefore best suited to getting the perfect shot. Just in case you ever find yourself in this exact same situation, which I'm sure you will.

Here is the inside of our basement wall in all its glory.

We were safe! The hole missed the cable by about an inch and a half, so we kept on keepin' on.
Good job, guys!

Once we got that figured out, it was a group effort to get the bracket mounted and then place the TV, but now we have a bar-worthy TV set up.
The entertainment stand is now looking pretty naked without that honkin' TV sitting on it, so I'm on the prowl for something cute to jazz it up. I'm thinking seasonal crafty-things would be good, but I haven't seen anything that slays me just yet. 

Agree or disagree: hanging TVs is a terrifying experience?
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