Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November = Crazy

This is what I've been doing all month, in addition to all of the other regular stuff plus Thanksgiving and Christmas planning... Not crazy at all.

Today I turned in my 50,000 word novel. A day early! The last 300 words were the WORST. IMPOSSIBLE, in fact. It took me five minutes to come up with the word "trace" and that's not even the word I wanted to use. It's just the only word left in my head.

And here is my spanking new badge - soon to appear on my side bar because you'd better believe I'll need the reminder when I do it all again next November!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Field of Mushrooms

We were reading one of The Princess' Highlights magazines and she noticed a craft and begged to do it. How could I resist?

We volunteered to provide the Thanksgiving table decoration and, considering that we have a huge gathering and at least 3 large tables packed with people elbow to elbow, we had quite a project in front of us. We split it over a couple of weeks so it was manageable and still loads of fun.

Things I have learned from making a toilet paper roll craft:
  • All toilet paper rolls are not created equally. Who knew?
  • If all of your friends have preschool aged kids, toilet paper rolls are a big commodity. Luckily my soccer team came through for me!
  • When highly motivated 4 year olds can accomplish a lot - I need to stop underestimating her abilities.
  • Paper hold punches are not made like they used to be - I broke the new one within 5 minutes of purchase.

The result was a beautiful garden of mushrooms almost completely made by The Princess. I punched some of the holes, that's it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


So...Skelly and Olivia have been relocated. By request they are now hovering specters over a 4-year old's big girl bed. I'm REALLY hoping that this doesn't mean I'll be up every 2 hours to screams of terror...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Body Worlds

Body Worlds has come to town and, since The Princess is all about skeletons, muscle, and organs, I thought it would be a perfect mother-daughter activity.

Do you know the Body Worlds exhibit? It's amazing, there are human cadavers that have been preserved and dissected to show all sorts of different aspects of the human body. It might sound a little grotesque and creepy, but both times I've seen it (they have different exhibits that travel with different focuses. This one was focused on the brain) I've come away with an awe for the intricacies of the body and amazement at the creators' ability to find art and beauty in what we typically are a little (or a lot) squeamish about. If an exhibit shows up near you it's really worth the time and money to see it.

So, I was 95% sure that The Princess would love the exhibit. My tentative 5% reared its ugly head as we walked in, what if I caused nightmares and scarred her for later therapy? But, I needn't have worried. We spent a good hour and half in the exhibit traveling the two floors and each display a minimum of two times and I finally had to convince her that it was time to go. She would have started over at the beginning a third time if I'd let her.

Inspiration and enthusiasm abounded:
  • She pointed out phalanges, patellas, femurs and spines at every body.
  • I got to hear her first (to my knowledge) attempt at a joke; something about dinosaurs and giraffes.
  • She attempted a number of the poses, her favorite being the figure skater in a back bend over the ice. (The body had the muscles and organs on full display with ice skates on her feet.)
  • We spent ten minutes in front of the animated display of neurons firing, the second time through she listed all of the different things her brain told her body to do: stand up, jump, sing, sleep, be happy and sad...
  • We watched red blood cells travel down blood vessels and she gleefully pointed out, for everyone passing by, each white blood cell that made an appearance.

We worked up quite an appetite and finished the day with a yummy lunch at Burgerville ("Burgerbill"). And, as I watched her inhale her lunch (!) with big blue eyes taking in everything around her, I simultaneously wanted to plan more of these days and tried not to melt into a puddle of tears. It's going so quickly, now she's 4, soon she'll be 14 and then 20 and out the door....

 My brain can't take it in...

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Birds Series: The Marabou Stork

Those that know me know that I have an irrational fear and hatred of birds. (Actually, I think it's perfectly justified!)  "But Why?" you might ask. There are a number of traumatic experiences to point to and, in an attempt to bring some levity to your day, I'm going to chronicle as many of those moments as I can remember.  So...keep a look out for The Birds Series.

I’ve encountered a variety of exotic birds while in Africa. Some small and, even I’ll admit, intriguing like the little yellow weavers. Others are big and odd, like the ostrich that roamed free through one of the hotels we stayed at. But there was one bird we encountered that was large, loud and scary. And it was roaming free at the hotel (different one. For some reason people go to Africa to bird watch! Can you imagine?)

The Marabou Stork may be where the actual baby-carrying stork legend came from. It’s tall, with skinny legs and a very large beak (bill). The sight of the beak is intimidating since it is so large and strong and pointy. But it’s the SOUND the Marabou makes with that beak that is truly terrifying. It is quiet and seemingly meek until it feels intimidated OR, and this is my own theory but I’ll stand by it, it sees a small human child that it towers over and definitely out weighs. It is then that the bird starts stalking towards its prey, gaining speed if needed, while clacking the beak together. The mouth opens and closes, CLACK, CLACK, CLACK, like boards clapping together or slipper slapped against the floor over and over again, ringing in your ears and spiking your adrenaline.

The problem is that the first inclination is to turn and run as far and as fast as you can. But then, as soon as you turn your back you can just imagine, almost feel with certain terror, that the crazy bird, still clapping its beak at you, has sped up its slow walk on spindly legs. It’s wings are unfurling, beating and urging him on until he’s running, the air pushing him forward and strong enough to ruffle the hair on the back of your head. Finally, his speed is enough to float him into the air, legs trailing after him as he gains altitude and shortens the distance between the two of you until he can swoop down and drill his beak right into the top of your head.

There’s no defense. You just cower in fear and hope that some helpful soul will rescue you before your certain demise.

Kenya pictures aren't this will have to do for now.
If you want more facts check Wikipedia for descriptions of this
"massive" bird and it's "bill-rattling".
(In case you you thought I was exaggerating. I'd never do that!)

Go here for more in the birds series, or see the link on the side bar.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Every fall since I left Maine and moved to the West Coast I've mourned a little over the lack of vibrant color. Some years we get a nice yellow glow but it's nothing, NOTHING, like the eye searing color that explodes in New England.

But this year the rains held off as the nights turned cool and we got a little hint of those glorious fall colors my Mainer friends get to enjoy each year.

Why, oh why didn't I think to take more pictures?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bones, Part 4

Straight from Ireland because, when you have an obsession, it's important for it to be well-rounded.
Geographically at least.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Monthly (October) Menu review

No, don't worry. This isn't going to turn into a cooking blog. I'm not good enough nor do I care enough about food to do that!  However, since I've challenged myself to this 1-year menu planning thing I thought it might help me stay on track if I try to commit to a small report at the end of the month on the excellent dishes or spectacular failures (I'm totally expecting both. Especially since I have knowingly put things on the menu that Steve will hate but I will love.  Ha!  Setting myself up for failure, love it!)

My first completed menu was for October. I've made it pretty easy on myself because I have a husband who likes a small repetoire of dishes he likes and requests often so I've made sure to rotate those in on a regular basis. That means we have burritos on the menu each week, tacos twice a month (Steve swears they are completely different meals...REALLY??  The only thing different between tacos and burritos is whether you're using beans or meat. Whatever.) and at least one meal of spaghetti with red sauce (from scratch) and spaghetti with broccoli and bacon. Salad and bread is always planned for Sunday night and Saturday and at least one other weekday is wide open for leftovers or scrounging (because sometimes I just want popcorn for dinner!). So, you can see that it's not quite as ambitious as it may have originally sounds. But it's plenty of a challenge for me!

 So, on to the meals of the month!

Chicken, Roasted Butternut Squash and Feta Lasagna from Closet Cooking
My sister and I thought this was phenomenal!  Steve and the girls weren't as impressed...  It's the squash, either you like it or don't. I would make a larger batch of the tomato sauce (there's also a bechamel sauce!) and, be warned, there's a lot of prep work.

Roasted Garlic-Potato Soup from MyRecipes
Super easy and oh so good. This one was approved by all. This made enough that I froze some for a meal later.

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin from C&C marriage factory blog
Falling apart in the pan goodness that is a cinch to make in the crockpot! I'm not a meat fan and this was amazing! I have enough left over to use in some other recipe. I'm thinking enchiladas because it might be an interesting flavor mix. I love crockpot recipes!

That's it!  There are no spectacular failures but that's only because I stacked the deck this month AND I didn't end up making the Gnocchi mac & cheese that would have definitely made Steve sigh with resignation!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


When The Princess was two years old I spent 10 days in Paris with my sister. Even now, 2 years later, whenever she see a picture of the Eiffel Tower she exclaims:

"Mommy, that's where you lived!"

Friday, November 4, 2011


On a recent trip we spent the night at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla Washington. Since the girls go to bed so early I was up in the tower as the sun went down. The view was completely worth the early evening seclusion.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I don't know what to say except, look at those eyes!
It's just too much.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bones, Part 3

Some friends of ours put on a harvest party every October. It's amazing. Every kid gets a prize for their pumpkin. The Princess got to pick out her prize from a myriad of options including fairy wings, princess things and matchbox cars (she eyed them carefully). Her eyes skipped over all of the traditional options until focusing in on a dinosaur set.

What sealed the deal, though, was that they were SKELETON dinosaurs!