Friday, June 24, 2011


I've been a Scrabble addict most of my life.  I don't remember where it started, although I've always liked words, languages, spelling, etc.

I started playing online Scrabble several years ago when Ian told me about it.  He got me set up on the site and explained how it worked.

Once I started playing on the ISC site, I was HOOKED!!!

I've learned a lot since I first started:

1.) I like fast games.  That isn't really a 'revelation' since I find myself bored when playing drawn out board games.  (Or should I say 'bored games'?!)

2.) A good game time for me is set at 6 minutes.  Each player gets six minutes, plus an extra minute after the timer runs down.

3.) The first order of business when the game begins is to search for any possible bingoes I might have.  *A bingo is when a player uses all seven tiles in one turn.

4.) The best way to look for bingoes is if I have any of these combinations: 'ing', 'er', 'ed'.  If I do, I rearrange the tiles on my tray to see if I can combine those letters with something else to form a bingo.  (Example: ITNRGAN...would be 'RANTING'.)

5.) As much as possible, it is best to find bingoes early in the game because the board is open.  The more filled up the board gets, the less chance one has of finding a spot for a bingo to fit.

6.) Bingoes are important because they earn the player an extra 50 points on top of the letter value.

7.) On ISC, most players are of at least the same caliber as I am.  If I see a spot open, they do, too.  It often comes down to who is lucky enough to get the better tiles.

8.) Almost always, playing letters alongside another word is much better than playing them all separate.  For example: if the word 'teams' is played, and I have the letters to form 'zoo', it is better to place the z in front of the a to form 'za' (yes, it is a word, folks), the 'o' in front of the 'm' to form 'mo' (another word, yes), and the last 'o' in front of the 's' to form 'os', rather than to form 'zoos' off the 's' from teams.  Usually the resulting score is much higher.  The exception would be if there were a triple word score available or if there were a double or triple letter score available for the 'z', which is a high scoring letter.

9.) The moment I make a play, I begin to look at possible plays for my next turn.

10.) If I notice a player is using only one tile per turn, that sometimes indicates that he/she might have a bingo and is waiting for an opening.  I will try to thwart that by closing off any place that could be used.

11.) If I have a bingo, but nowhere to place it, I will pass two to three times, but then I will break it up.  I have learned that to pass too many times results in a huge loss of points.

12.) If I have all vowels or all consonants, I often use my turn to change my tiles.  Occasionally there is a chance to use several vowels at once, depending on the openings available.

13.) If I have a high scoring tile, I scan the board for double or triple spots.  For instance, an 'x' is a high scorer.  It can be placed after any vowel (except u or i) to make a word.  U or I can be placed after x to form a word.  Ideally, an 'x' used on a double or triple space with a vowel in front, and one behind, it results in a big score. 

14.) The tiles I value the most are 's', 'e', 'a', 'x', 'q', 'z', 'h', 'w', 'r', 'd', 'j'.  They are easy to play or high scoring.

15.) I dislike 'v', 'u', and 'c'.  They are not easy to use in most cases.

16.) Unfortunately, there are quite a few rude players on ISC.  I've had people accuse me of cheating, use profanity at me, belittle me, and ignore me.  (Ignore means that they do not use any common courtesy, such as greeting me or thanking me for the game.)  I will go through losing streaks, then win a game, and my opponent will say something like, 'You got lucky because you got all the good tiles.'  Do I really need to hear that?

Well, with that, I'm off to play a round of Scrabble before I get to my housework!!!


Thursday, June 16, 2011


It's been a really laid back vacation week.  As I said in my previous entry, I haven't been feeling up to par this week.  Things have been slowly improving, so today we took a little car trip to Grove City.

There is a big outlet mall there with all kinds of shopping opportunities.  I was craving their vendor's bucket of fries, but they don't sell those anymore.  :( Bummer.

There is a Primanti Bros. there now, but we didn't eat there.  We had to be back in time for Ian to be at work at 6:00, so we ate in the food court where we could get our grub fast.

Therese and I had a blast in the Cosmetics Outlet.  I got some Clinique goodies!  I gave her a couple things, and she gave me a big hug!  She really loves to play with makeup and has her own little cosmetic bag filled with stuff I gave her.

My favorite purchase was a 50 cent mini rubber baby from a toy store there.  I don't know why I like it, but I do.  I know--I'm weird.  :)  I like unusual things...It is about twice the size of my thumbnail. 

We went to Here's Howe candy store.  I'm going to do an article for on this unique place.  It's on Grove City's main drag, and it has almost every kind of candy a person could want.  They also sell many flavors and types of coffees and teas.  We ground our own coffee--one pound for us, one for my dad (for Father's Day). 

I told the kids to get their own bags and fill them up with whatever candy they wanted.  The store is set up so patrons can buy candy by the pound.  We got to the checkout and the cashier rang it up--$43.  That's a record for us.  It seems wasteful, but we're on vacation, and there are six kids.  (I got some stuff for myself and John, too.)  That's roughly a half pound per person, since the candy ranged from $2.25 to $5.00 a lb.  (The coffee was almost $9.00 a lb.) That's not so bad, is it? 

I found those little 'flying saucer' candies--the ones that taste and feel like styrofoam.  I bought some after being struck with "sudden onset reminiscent mood".  They tasted terrible.  There is a reason these things are not popular.  Why do they even make them? 

The day turned out to be a very nice one.  There was no pressure, we got sugar, and the whole Elliott clan spent the day together.  That's the best thing about vacation, spending time with my husband and children.

On the way home, the clouds broke into a pounding rain.  I've always enjoyed riding in the car in the rain.  I find the rhythm of the windshield wipers and the pounding raindrops on the roof to be incredibly relaxing.  Once home, we settled in and a thunderstorm passed through.  It wasn't a violent storm, but rather, a gentle one with a few gusty winds and a sheet of rain that fell steadily for at least 10 min. 

Now the sky is blue and the sun is shining before it sets on the horizon.  The birds are all chirping and calling.  I'm thankful for this vacation.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Disappointments, camping at home, and spiked lemonade

I don't like to complain.  I dislike it when others complain.  So, this is not a complaint.  After all, life has so many blessings in it, I prefer to look at those things instead of looking at the bad.

The school year ended and I had high expectations for a week of vacation with my family.  It arrived this week, but because I have been hit with two different physical issues, I am taking Motrin every 4 hours and sitting around in my P.J.'s.  All the while, Therese's eyes look at me with betrayal burning guilt through me.  We were supposed to be spending time at Waldameer, her favorite place on earth.  And the beach.  And shopping in Pittsburgh.  In her defense, I would have felt the same way if I were nine years old.  And I see that she wants to cooperate.  She made macaroni and cheese with Daddy last night so I didn't have to cook.  She also cleaned the house up and washed her own hair.

The other kids aren't so much trying to make me feel guilty.  They go with the flow and understand better that things sometimes happen that are beyond our control.  Thank goodness for that. 

Part of me would like to sit here and cry.  After all, I waited and planned for a long time for this vacation.  I needed it desperately.  I do believe that it's better to let go and accept it rather than fight it.  The end result won't change, but I will feel better in the long run.

Maybe we'll set up a tent and camp at home tonight...we can still roast marshmallows and tell scary stories, even if it isn't in the know the saying about making lemonade when life hands you lemons. 

Here's a glass of lemonade for you--maybe I'll spice it up a little with a splash of whiskey--hahahahaha! 


Monday, June 6, 2011's a secret...

Yummy is all I can say as I enjoy a cool summery treat...wanna know what it is?  And  how many calories?  (Surprisingly very low calorie!)

It's only about 75 to 100 calories per serving.  I'm not overly fussy about measuring food.  I just estimate when I dole out a serving.

So, what is it?  Its my Berry Medley Parfait!  It is deliciously sweet, cold, and satsifying. 

I buy a 16 oz. bag of frozen mixed berries (blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries) from WalMart.  (Really cheap, too, Somewhere in the $2 to $3 range.)  Scoop out about 4 tbs. of fruit, place in bowl.  Mix in half cup of non fat (or low fat) whipped cream or Cool Whip.  Ta-da!  Sit back with a good book, a fan blasting on you, and imagine you're sitting on the beach!

I like to eat the berries as they slowly defrost.  The blueberries are really good when they're still frozen.  The strawberries are difficult to eat until they soften up a bit, though.  :)

Another wonderful idea is to take a tall glass of water, add 6 icecubes, and about  6to 8 frozen berries.  They enhance the water's flavor without adding calories.  It is a delicious alternative to sweetened drinks.  (Or artificially sweetened stuff that I'm not sure is all that good for you.)  You can experiment with different types of fruits--stores carry frozen peaches, too!  I have not yet tried that, but I have a bag of peaches in the freezer, so one of these days, I'll give that a shot.

These frozen berries are awesome on plain breakfast cereals, too!

Let me know if you guys like these ideas! 


Saturday, June 4, 2011


It's been some time since I've blogged!  The past few weeks have been overlapping events and other duties for us here at the Elliott house!

I'm thankful that it is now summer vacation!  I love that I can have some measure of control over my life for a couple of months.  (Although I will still be taking Ian and Jake to their respective workplaces.) 

It is a drag to have kids bogged down every night with hours of homework.  Then there's the early bedtimes, the early wake up calls, taxiing them all over timbuktu, and spending every weekend involved in school projects.  (That is the worst.  There's never much time to recharge the old batteries.)  Our school district is horrible about assigning projects in the middle and high school levels.  It takes so much precious time away from the hard to come by family time.  I have grown resentful over the years.  It gets expensive, too--we go through ink cartridges like they're water.  Those things ain't cheap, either.  I would think our school board and teachers might take that into consideration.

Yesterday was a busy day.  Maria was finished with school on Thursday, Tony had morning rehearsal for Commencement, JohnPaul and Therese had a half day.  I took Therese to Mass before school, dropped her off at school, then picked up Maria. 

We went shopping for a couple of hours...Pat Catan's--a favorite place to browse--bought some fancy ribbon...then went to Auntie Anne's for a warm oven baked pretzel...browsed at Rue 21, then went leisurely  through the whole antique store.  I got her a miniature vase and a gold wooden shoe (knick knack).  She and I like antiques.  We topped our trip off with iced coffees; but poor thing!  She had a reaction to the toppping on the whipped cream--it was a mix of cocoa and cinnamon.  She's allergic to cinnamon.  I thought they just used plain cocoa on it! 

In the afternoon, I picked up JP and Therese and we went to get pizza.  We had a combination lunch/dinner so we could get ready for Tony's graduation. 

The graduation ceremony was very nice.  The only complaint I had was the chaos following.  I remember the same kind of thing after Ian and Jake's graduations.  I would think that the school faculty would work to straighten things out so they'd run smoother.  If there had been a fire, there would have been a stampede, and people crushed.  If I was in charge, I'd dismiss the people in attendance row by row.  Instead, like a zillion ants going in all directions, people take off.  Everyone is in a hurry, yet no one is getting anywhere!  It's a bit like trying to pour a gallon of water thru a straw. 

Tony took off for Miranda's afterwards, then spent the night at Eddie's.  Now he's at Tyler's party.  I bought a cake to celebrate if he ever decides to stay and hang out awhile.