Thursday, December 28, 2006

a visiting we will go

Today D and I went visiting. V and Tobi were invited but decided to stay home. Actually V decided to stay home so I left Tobi with her to keep her company *snort*.

We visited my cousin and her two adorable boys. L is 2 and into everything. Chatting up a storm Today he learned my name mee-ah he would say as he tugged on my sweater and dragged me off to show me something. So adorable. D loves him and kept swooping him off his feet every chance she got. Baby J (7 months old) is one of the prettiest babies I have seen in a long time with stunning azure blue eyes and loooong lashes. I was feeding him his bottle and humming to him while rocking him. After he was done I burped him and he promptly began to snore softly on my shoulder. Sounds silly but I'm so glad that babies seem to thing that I am snuggly-sleepy-soft.

We had so much fun playing together, chatting, munching, singing, reading books, all good stuff. D was great, a huge help when J needed to be picked up or L needed his shoes put on, etc she was there and just did what needed to be done without being asked. When she's not being an adolescent drama queen she really is turning into a responsible, mature young lady, it made me so proud to watch her pitching in so gladly.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Whoo boy technolog is taking over. For someone who used to make her living fixing networks and administering databases you would think I would love technology; you'd be wrong. I like it, don't get me my dishwasher, like my computer, but I'm not a technogeek. I used to consider myself a geek but that was pre-itsy-bitsy techno pieces. Now I find myself surrounded and I'm perplexed.

I have a cell phone. I do like it, it has become indispensible for keeping in touch with kids, hubby, family, etc. In emergencies (and I have had a few) it has been a lifesaver. I would have a hard time doing without it.

I have a Palm given to me by my parents and my brother. I really like it a lot. I keep shopping lists, address book, calendar stuff on it. Even a few games and a couple of ebooks. But I confess that I long for my paper calendar. Don't know why, I guess I like the tactile feel of paper. But this year I am not buying one...should force me to focus more on my palm and learn to handle it better than I have been.

Now I have an iPod. I'm thrilled to have it because I should finally be able to catch up on all of my podcasts. Previously I had to download them, burn them to CD and could only listen to them when I was driving a certain car with a CD player. Those days are gone...iPod on the go baby.

And tonight I broke down and got skype. I shared my first skype call with my Uncle and it was so much fun to be able to talk with him and his daughter. I enjoyed catching up and sharing a few laughs he pointed out, the price is right.

Technology is taking over and I'm beginning to wonder how much I will be acoutered with technodevices. I practically need a backpack to carry my wallet and devices, what if I lose one? I think we get sucked into these things. They're useful but we have to learn to use them as the tools they are intstead of feeling like they own us. It's hard to balance my desire for a more peaceful life, one where I can bake from scratch, raise fruits, visit the organic farm, etc with juggling all these small pieces of metal. Is this the challenge of the modern human? I don't know if completely denying onself the benefits of technology is advisable. Obviously others do, such as the Amish, but those of us who choose to live in a contemporary environment but have agro-luddite tendencies have a much finer line to walk. It is a balancing act and can be confusing at times. Hmmm.....more thoughts on this coming up later.

happy holidays

Indeed they were. We went to visit my in-laws and spent a lovely holiday with them. All the people, decorations, food, conversations, fun and more fun. It was wonderful to be surrounded by everyone on Steve's side of the family and enjoy this time together. Even the dogs had fun. The only drawback? We didn't have any snow.

The funniest gift exchange was between Steve and I. Totally unplanned we gave each other coordinating gifts (better than giving each other the same thing but close for odd coincidence). He gave me a new showerhead which has a mist control on it (for steaming without the steamroom) and I gave him a crescent shower rod (for the illusion of more space in the shower). He opened mine first, told me I would laugh when I opened his and indeed I did.

While we were at my in-laws we watched movies, played games (including one almost vicious three deck round of Uno -- won by yours truly), and talked, talked, talked. My sister-in-law and I knit together while chatting and catching up and there was plenty of pass-the-baby going on. Miss K graced me for her nap and it was a fabulous two hours of snuggle time. All in all a good emotional grounding of what the holidays are all about for me. I hope yours was similarly lovely and wonderful.

Friday, December 22, 2006

ho ho oh

Running out of steam over here. Some holidays items have been done, some haven't. As I mentioned in an earlier post this year is not quite as holiday-ey as others. I partially blame the lack of snow (very unusual for us) but most realize it's me. I'm not into the whole over-the-top thing. But now here we are a couple of days before Christmas and I'm feeling guilty and wondering if I should gather up a huge burst of energy and make it all happen. Then I think,, because then I'll spend the next week lying on the sofa in a comatose state of exhaustion.

So here's what's done and undone in our house this year:

Goodie boxes made and delivered

Family gingerbread party attended and a wonderful time had by all

Holiday cards? Half written and mailed. The other half? I think they'll be Happy New Year Cards this year.

Tree? Not up

Wreath? Lying on the front porch about to go up...the dog ate the pinecones and ornaments off it but it still smelly pine-y and has a pretty red bow

Decorations? Minimal but there

Holiday music? Playing, actually this is one of the highlights, drinking tea and listening to this lovely music as I do my household chores every day

Presents? Just mailed the last of them yesterday, hope they get there in time. This one is the worst offense but hey, real life interferes sometimes

Other presents? not wrapped, hoping for a marathon wrapping sesson with Steve tomorrow before we head off to my in-laws on Sunday

Holiday spirit? Pretty good actually. I've done the most important things, am not screaming at my kids in frustration because the "holidays" are not getting froofed (this must be my new word I seem to be using it a lot lately), and I'm looking forward to spending a quiet and lovely holiday at my in-laws house. It's all good.

winter reading challenge

Yesterday was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. From this point forward we are on an upswing with more daylight minutes every day until the summer solstice. It was also the end of the Fall Into Reading challenge. How did I do? Here's the wrapup:

1000 White Women and Savannah Breeze, Every Mother Is A Daughter got read and reviewed (sort of).

The Historian and The Memory Keeper's Daughter? They never got read.

Other books I read during this time (but didn't review)?

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen - It was okay but not great. The blog was better.

King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains - Wonderful! I loved this book, renewed it the maximum two times and then the library had to call me because it was overdue and someone else wanted it. The recipes were really good (the ones I tried), I learned a lot about baking with whole grains and am considering buying this book.

The Bread Bible - Another really great book. I love the way she writes, her explanations are simple and clear. I'm thinking about buying this one too.

The Eyre Affair - Recommended by someone else, sorry I don't remember who. Very cute, I liked it, an easy read with humorous twists on reading and books.

Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next Novels) - I liked the first one so I read the second. The first one was better. Some of the plot devices got a little worn and I felt the story wasn't as good.

So basically I read two out of five on my list but read several others instead. Not too bad. Now it's time for the

sponsored by Seasonal Soundings. Here's my list...we'll see how well I do this time around:

The Historian - recommended by my sister-in-law, I've really got to read this.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Recommended by my aunt who is going to lend me her copy, I'm really looking forward to reading this.

Great Expectations (Penguin Classics) - I made myself a promise to start re-reading some of the classics. So I'll start with this one which I really liked when I read it 20 years ago. We'll see if I can still process all of the allegorical connections and subplots.

So this makes three books on my list. Not a lot but two highly recommended works of fiction and one classic. A good start.

What am I reading now? The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation. I'm enjoying it very much. I like his style of writing, love the gossipy bits about the foodie world and am learning quite a bit about how our cuisine and food culture is developing.

Also reading Preserving Memories: Growing Up in My Mother's Kitchen my Mom's new book. I like the stories and recipes. She's a great writer, I have enjoyed all of her books and her website. I'm so proud of her and glad to have this newest book to put on my shelf.

What are you reading? Head on over to Seasonal Soundings and join in the reading.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

candy candy candy

Every year we make boxes of goodies to give to friends and to distribute to the mailman, library, etc. What goes in the box is different from year-to-year but it's always fun to put it together. This is one traditional that seems to have survived this year of "less froofy" holidays.

Tonight S was the only one who wanted to work with me to make the goodies...the other two bailed (they missed out because it was a lot of fun). We made chocolate dipped apricots (4 pounds worth!), chocolate dipped pretzels and fudge. I also put some homemade gingersnaps into the boxes. Working together with S was so sweet (pun intended) and we shared a lot of giggles as well as getting a lot done; 42 boxes to fill!

We started at 6:00 after dinner. At 8:00 I stopped to watch A Christmas Carol, making candy and filling boxes during the commercials.

Starting tomorrow we have the pleasure of delivering, and we get to visit with our friends as we make our rounds.

wfmw - proofing bread

When making bread you need someplace warm and draft-free to rise or "proof" your bread dough. I put mine in my microwave oven. Works for me.

You can see other wfmw tips over at Shannon's place.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


in history!!!

Thanks to Susan Wittig Albert of About Thyme I found out that today, December 19, in 1843 Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was written.

The story is a wonderful one and I think just about everyone knows the basic premise from "Bah Humbug!" to "God bless us, everyone."

There have been lots of movie versions of the story made. My two favorites are, I confess, The Muppet Christmas Carol and A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart which happens to be playing on TNT tomorrow night. Can't wait to curl up with the kids, the dog, some hot cocoa with peppermint sticks and popcorn to watch.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Despite my bah humbug type previous post I have to confess that there are certain things about the holidays that make me happy. Today was one of those days. We went to a family gingerbread house building. Steve's brother and his family, his wife's brother and his family, his wife's sister and her husband, family friends and us. Lots of people and lots of fun.

We ate a lovely meal and then the kids got down to business making houses. Every year K makes house pieces, one house per kid (there were 9 this year). Everyone else brings decorations. I brought Captain Crunch cereal, colorful twizzlers, stripey morsels, spice drops, and pretzels. There were all sorts of other candies too. The kids have so much fun creating their masterpieces. It's wonderful to see how different all the houses come out. This year we discovered that pretzels glued together with royal icing make a great chimney.

This is what the holidays are about for me...friends, family, fun activities, wonderful food and conversation. Joy joy joy.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Just got back from going to see Eragon. I rarely pay to go to the movies and almost never go in the first week. This was an exception and one that I am sorry I made. I did not like the movie at all and found myself wishing it were over half-way through. The book was great and I highly recommend reading it. But don't bother with the movie.

My objections??

- They cut the heck out of the story. It was very choppy and they left out a lot of important pieces of information

- They relied too much on pretty landscape/scenery shots that didn't really contribute to the story

- There was almost no character development. If you hadn't read the book you might be very confused about how certain people grew to their character/position/etc

- They took serious liberties with the storyline in order to have certain things (like Saphira's development) happen within the timeframe allotted

- There was no real sense of conflict or urgency to the storyline because of the way the movie was chopped up

I'm so disappointed because the story provided great material to work with and the movie really fell flat. I went with S, her two friends, V, her two friends, D and her friend. No one liked the movie and all but two of us had read the book (V and one of her friends had not yet read it). One of the kids pointed out that if someone saw the movie first they would not want to buy the book because the movie was so bad. That's bad. My advice? Save your $9.50 and don't go.

do i see a tree

It's the holiday season and all around me are lights and wreaths and bangles going up. In our neighborhood there is a plastic santa that seems to be on the move...he travels from lawn to lawn without any apparent warning.

One friend has eleven five foot trees that she puts up every year. Eleven!! One is a Wizard of Oz tree, an angel tree, a pink tree, a valentine tree, a gold tree. They're all over the house. Another friend of mine is so worried that she doesn't have enough decorations (her house was exploding at the seams last year but that was then...maybe the house grew in the last year). The malls are crowded, people seem very stressed and overwhelmed and in many ways unhappy.

While I am looking forward to Christmas I'm looking forward to the getting together with family part. I've put up a few decorations, I have gotten out the christmas tablecloth, I've put on the christmas music, but somehow I find myself not that into the whole overcommercialized oversaturated marketing hype. I think the fact that I have been seeing christmas c**p in the stores since before halloween and listening to christmas carols and seeing ads for it since before thanksgiving has taken away much of the joy of the season. It's supposed to be about friends and family and gratitude. Not about presents and money and greed.

I've gone so far as to think that I may not even put up the tree this year. String up a few more decorations, put up the stocking and call it a holiday. Simpler, more peaceful and less stressful.

Actually this brings me to the realization that I am thoroughly overwhelmed and fed up with all the overcommercialized holidays. The halloween "villages" that they sell now for decorations? You're supposed to buy all of this overpriced stuff to put it up for a few weeks and then find room to pack it away until the next year? No wonder we are buying bigger and bigger houses, we're taking on too many possessions. Thanksgiving, Easter, Fourth of July, all of this is moving away from a rememberance day or a day of special celebration and becoming an excuse to buy more junk. I feel like an oddball for being one of those who doesn't participate but I want out...don't want to do this overcommercialized overadvertized unquiet stress anymore.

We'll see if the tree goes up or not but I think it's definitely going to be a lower key, hopefully calmer holiday celebration in our family this year.

birthday boy

It's my baby brother's birthday!!!


victor borge dance of the comedians

victor borge - hungarian rhapsody #2

victor borge - inflationary language

It's amazing what you can find on the internet. I was watching a brief Victor Borge presentation yesterday and was reminded of how much I enjoyed his performances. Hope you enjoy it too.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

st.lucia day

The above picture is special for so many reasons. First of all today is the birthday of my darling S. My first born. The one who gave me the blessing of becoming a mother. I'm so amazed at what an incredible person she is and just thrilled to be her mom. She didn't get breakfast in bed, although she deserved it, but she did get a birthday breakfast surprise with friends, lots of purple balloons, joyous hallooing, wet puppy kisses and presents. Not a bad way to start your day.

Today is also St. Lucia Day and this picture painted by my favorite artist Carl Larsson shows the Scandinavian custom of the oldest daughter in the house portraying Lucia with her crown of light driving the darkness away.

wfmw - phone lists

Time for another Works-For-Me-Wednesday, don't forget to see what other bloggers have to say.

We have a phone list that we post on the inside of the cabinet door next to the kitchen phone. It is divided into three sections. The top 2/3 is divided in half and then the bottom 1/3 (approximately). The top left is for friends, neighbors, etc. The top right is for doctors, services, utility companies, etc. The bottom third has lots of 1 x 2.5 inch boxes to write in new numbers. Every six months or so I take down the list and redo it, adding and deleting as necessary. All the numbers we need the most are right there, room to scribble and it's usually up to date. Works for me!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

tackle-it-tuesday - christmas cards

Today my tackle is to finish my Christmas cards. I had started out with good intentions after 5-7 a day and I'll be done by December 10th. Hah! Real life interfered as usual and I am waaaaaay behind. Hoping to catch up today because I need to get them in the mail. I send mine to Santa Claus, IN for a special Christmas cachet.

If you would like to see what others are tackling today or add one of your own visit 5 Minutes for Mom.

laundry dweeb

As several of you know I like laundry, well certain things about it anyway. I'm good at washing and drying, love to hang my laundry. The ironing and putting away...that's a challenge some days, even with two of my kids doing their own laundry these days.

Yesterday I went to visit a friend for lunch. She has recently started making her own laundry soap because of skin allergy issues. We have the same issues in our house but I never thought of making my own laundry soap. She gave me some to try. oh my goodness!!! this stuff works great and smells fabulous. I can't wait till I've finished the container of detergent that I have to make my own, I am definitely going to switch. I washed and hung sheets yesterday (it's unseasonably warm here and was in the 40's yesterday) and kept running out to smell the sheets they smelt so good! So fresh and clean, mmmmmmm.

As my friend said, "Can you imagine how nuts people will think to hear us gushing about laundry soap?" I don't care this is great stuff. Here's the recipe:

2 bars soap (Fels Naptha is called for but any soap will work)
1 C. Borax
1 C. Washing Powder

Grate the soap, cover with water in a saucepan,heat on low until dissolved.

Fill a 4-5 gallon bucket with hot water and add soap. Stir to combine. Add 1 cup washing powder and mix well. As it cools it will thicken, stir occasionally while cooling. May be used immediately. Use 1-2 cups per load.


V is learning how to juggle, one of the teachers at school is teaching a bunch of the kids during lunch. Yesterday she decided to demonstrate her prowess...with clementines. Luckily she didn't choose eggs because she's okay but obviously still learning.

Tobi thought this was GREAT fun as every time she dropped the clementines he chased after them and picked them up in his mouth, *yuck*. I had thought we could make juice out of them when she was done but the poor clementines were black, blotchy, misshapen and covered in dog drool...not very appealing.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

christmas meme

Why do I like memes so much? I don't know I guess because they're mostly fun and goofy. Since it 'tis the season here's one for the holidays that came from a couple different sources:

1. Hot Chocolate or apple cider?


2. Turkey or Ham?


3. Do you get a fake or real-you-cut-it-yourself Christmas tree?

It used to be real but we got tired of dropping needles, the cat drinking out of the water at the base, and are worried about our new puppy so it's artificial and pre-lit for the next 10 years (or as long as the darn thing lasts).

4. Decorations on the outside of your house?

No. We enjoy them but not enough to take the time to put them up. All our lights and decorations are on the inside except our wreath

5. Snowball fights or sleddin'?

snowball fights, definitely. But only if Steve is on MY team because he's the best shot.

6. Do you enjoy going downtown shopping?

No, no, no, no and no. In case you didn't get

7. Favorite Christmas song?

oooh, that's a toughie but if I had to pick only one I would say Adestes Fidelis because that's the song I always remember hearing as a kid when my Mom would start baking fruitcake (scroll down to November 16).

8. How do you feel about Christmas movies?

I mostly seem to prefer the classics...the cartoon version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", "It's a Wonderful Life", "Frosty the Snowman", White Christmas" and the like.

9. When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music?

Anytime before Thanksgiving

10. Stockings before or after presents?

Stocking as soon as you get up.

11. Carolers, do you or do you not watch and listen to them?

I adore Christmas carols and carolers. For many years we used to go out caroling but my kids no longer want to do that and it feels silly to go out by myself. Unfortunately no one else comes around otherwise I would gladly listen.

12. Go to someone else's house or they come to you?

We split it up

13. Do you read the Christmas Story? If so when?

We don't read any particular ones, we put out lots of books for people to read and enjoy. When the girls were little I would read a different chapter or story every night but they think they're too old for that now so we don't. I miss that time when we would all cuddle on the sofa and read Christmas stories.

14. What do you do after presents and dinner?

Jig-saw puzzles, drink tea, crack nuts, chat, relax

15. What is your favorite holiday smell?

I don't really have one unless it's fresh baking cookies...wait, that's anytime

16. Ice skating or walking around the mall?

No mall if I can at all avoid it. I like to send Steve if I really have to. Truthfully internet shopping has been a blessing in disguise.

17. Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day?

We always open one present on Christmas eve (and it's always a brand new pair of pajamas to wear to bed) and save the rest for Christmas morning.

18. Favorite Christmas memory?

S's first Christmas...she was so little and didn't even know what the holiday was about. Steve and I stuffed her into a Christmas stocking, it was rather silly but it was amazing to have this little gem of a person to share it with.

19. Favorite Part about winter?

How the snow blankets the scenery and makes it look so wondrous, all the trees and bushes, etc, decked in their winter finery.

20. Ever been kissed under mistletoe?


If you're reading this you're next!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

treadmill dance

My Aunt sent this too me, how cool. Wonder how long it took them to put this together. It's really fun!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

wfmw - recipes

I have certain recipes that I use all the time. My mix-and-match muffins, the recipe for Irish Soda Bread, and several others. To prevent having to look them up all the time in various different places I made a copy of the recipe and taped it to the inside of a cupboard door with my baking supplies. That way I always know where it is and it is near the pans, vanilla, etc. Works for me.

If you want to read more good tips or contribute one of your own go see Shannon and her wonderful Works For Me Wednesday list.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

cuddle bug

A friend of mine came for tea today and to let me play with her 9 month old son. He's grown so much since the last time I saw him (6 months ago) it's amazing. Tobi was VERY pleased to meet him. After all N's face was just at Tobi height and covered in all sorts of lucious baby biscuit *gag* crumbs mmmmm yummy yummy.

D accuses me of being a baby snatcher because I love to hug and cuddle them so much. I consider it my priviledge to give other Mom's a break and hold their child for them for a while. Unlike accusations that have recently flown I have absolutely no intention of having any more kids. My baby is an adolescent and I'm not interested in starting over thank-you-very-much. But I confess the fact that she has reached adolescence makes me appreciate how cuddle-able and sweet smelling babies can be.

Speaking of sweet smelling we had a rather interesting discussion at Stitch Sisters tonight. We were talking about, among other things, how wonderful babies smell. One woman remarked that her boys, 3 and 5, don't smell so sweet anymore; they smell like dirt. Another remarked that she wished that her boys, 13 and 16, smelled like dirt because what they smelled like now was not great. Another said that her boys, in their 20's, were out of the house but she hoped they smelled okay. Then someone shared that they had a family member, adolescent male, whose idea of freshening up was to throw his shirt into the dryer with some dryer sheets, put on fresh deodorant and he was good to go. Whoof!

Makes me glad I have girls. They may be messy but they loooove their showers!

Monday, December 04, 2006

poetry monday

Inspired by Dawn as well as Amy I decided to add some art and poetry to our Door of Learning.

The Door keeps growing; I confess that I do not keep up with it as much as I would like to. Originally I had thought every week. Now it's every two weeks and I'm thinking the one I just put up will have to suffice for the month of December.

In it's new incarnation the door has a picture by Georges Seurat and a wonderful poem by Anne Bronte as well as info about them. I chose this poem today because it's been a windy and blustery day and this one really spoke to me:



Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day
by Anne Brontë

My soul is awakened, my spirit is soaring
And carried aloft on the wings of the breeze;
For above and around me the wild wind is roaring,
Arousing to rapture the earth and the seas.
The long withered grass in the sunshine is glancing,
The bare trees are tossing their branches on high;
The dead leaves, beneath them, are merrily dancing,
The white clouds are scudding across the blue sky.

I wish I could see how the ocean is lashing
The foam of its billows to whirlwinds of spray;
I wish I could see how its proud waves are dashing,
And hear the wild roar of their thunder today!

mmmmm, gives me shivers just to read it.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

cookie exchange

Today was our annual neighborhood cookie exchange. I've been hosting it for five years now and it's a lot of fun. What I like the best is that it is not a "let's play Martha and impress the neighbors" kind of party. As I say in the invitation, if you don't have time or inclination to bake from scratch try whack-and-bake or buy cookies. What's more important is that you come.

This year we were very lucky, no duplicates; one year three people brought the same cookie! It was a small crowd with only 10 of us but lots of fun, chatting, munching, catching up with each other and taking a break before the crush of the holidays is upon us. My family is, of course, thrilled to have me host this since they love the different types of cookies that we get.

The rules are simple, bring a double batch of cookies, COUNT your cookies so you know how many you have, bring a container to get your hoard share home with, and come have fun.

I made gingersnaps (although I think they should be called ginger thins since they are not very crispy). It was the first time I had made this particular cookie and I didn't realize how many it made. I got 152 cookies out of a double batch, whew. The recipe comes from a dear friend who made them last year and then was gracious enough to share.

Melt 3 sticks of butter (no counting calories, this is the holidays)
mix together with 2 C. sucanat (or brown sugar)
add 2 eggs
add 2 t. baking powder, 2 t. cinnamon, 1 t. ginger, 1 t. cloves (I left out the cloves since my husband doesn't like them)
add 4 C. flour (I used fresh ground soft white so had to use 5 C.)

Let sit in fridge for 20 minutes while preheating the oven to 350 F

Make small balls, roll in sugar and bake on ungreased cookie sheet 8-10 minutes
let cookies sit 1-2 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to cookie rack

The other cookies that we had this year?

turtle fudge chippers
peppermint candy canes
pecan nut balls
coconut macaroons (made by hand!)
brown sugar nut shortbreads
oatmeal lace wafer sandwiches
cocoa crinkles
creamcheese jam triangles

We listened to holiday music and it spurred me on to dig out the holiday linens and books from the attic so I've got a bit of a start on the holiday decorating thing.

Friday, December 01, 2006

real men knit

I know some men in my life who don't want their sons to learn how to knit because they think it's not "manly" enough. I think that's silly. It used to be that knitting was exclusively reserved for men. Women spun and wove but only men knit. Somehow it has changed. My personal feeling is that it shouldn't matter what your gender is...if you want to knit, go ahead.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

no-knead bread

My Mom shared with me the whole no-knead bread phenomenon. I'm a little late getting around to trying it, especially since it seems to have taken the blogosphere by storm. The pictures are gorgeous, the method stunningly simple and so I had to try it.

I knew that my attempt was going to come out a little different since I was using fresh ground. It worked but not as well as those who used aged flour. I ground up hard white figuring that would be the simplest to start with. I let it rise initially for 18 hours and it did rise. The two biggest things I noticed right off the bat was that the dough was not a wet and shaggy as everyone kept remarking on and that mine didn't bubble as much as I thought it should based on what I read. But I continued. The end result was a respectable loaf, especially considering that I used only 1/4 t. of yeast, but the crumb was much denser. Given the time required to make this it won't be a regular event but I am going to try again. I think next time I will add more water than the 1 1/2 C. called for since I think the fresh ground probably absorbed too much and that may have contributed to the texture. I'm also thinking of upping the yeast just a little to help with the fresh ground.

The general concensus was that it was tasty and in this house that's all that really counts.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

tackle it tuesday - laundry

After a wonderful visit with the family it's time to tackle the laundry. No pictures but I'm washing, drying, folding and putting away sheets and towels. Lots of them. Means we had lots of company and that's a good thing.

Get inspired to Tackle It too!

Monday, November 27, 2006


My Mom just updated her garden diary. Two really good reasons to send you there:

1. Her new book. I'm really proud of how well she writes, the fact that she is an acknowledged, award winning author in her chosen field of gardening, and the fact that she then chose to branch out and write about something else that she loves and is so expert at. Way to go Mom!

2. She very kindly put up stuff about my lovely treehouse. I didn't even get pictures up there, but she did. So if you want to see it in all it's naked autumn glory go check it out. Thanks Mom.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

accent? what accent

h/t to Amy for this:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Philadelphia

Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak! If you're not from Philadelphia, then you're from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you've ever journeyed to some far off place where people don't know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn't have a clue what accent it was they heard.

The Midland
The Northeast
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The Inland North
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
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For lunch today, while still having a houseful I wanted to make grilled cheese sandwiches. My children wanted to know why we didn't have a panini maker, claiming they would rather have paninis. The waffle iron was still out from the buckwheat waffles I made for breakfast so I threw a sandwich in there and goshalmighty, it made a waffle-iron looking, tasty cheese sandwich. S called them wafflini sandwiches. It worked! One appliance saved.

We liked them so much that we had them again for dinner! Try it, maybe you'll like it.

birthday blessings

The weekend was also my sister-in-law's birthday. We had cake and presents and singing (we scared the dogs as we each sang in our own key but it was fun anyway).

I'm glad we were all able to spend her birthday with her and hope she enjoyed the mayhem.

shop till i drop

It was a busy and bountiful weekend. In addition to Thanksgiving it was my sister-in-law's birthday!! My parents came back to my house for the weekend with my brother and his family so we were all together. We had a wonderful time, hanging out together and spending time catching up with various activities.

My sister-in-law and I got some knitting time in which was really lovely. We also horror of horrors! went to the mall on Friday. Yes, BLACK Friday. For those who know me...I hate to shop. For those who don't know me...I HATE to shop. I usually make it a point to avoid all of the big shopping marathon events. Unfortunately all of my kids needed clothes, S was home from college for the weekend only, there was a sale on, and I somehow decided that if my sister-in-law and niece came with me it would turn out to be fun. How silly of me.

Getting to the mall was fun. We laughed and joked in the car on the way down (it's a 45 minute drive). Arriving was a little overwhelming, it was packed. But we managed to find a spot. Entering wasn't too bad, the older two girls split off immediately to shop on their own leaving my sister-in-law, niece and I with the adolescent hormonal tornado that is my youngest. I believe she was rather miffed that she had to shop with her mother. It was not a pretty sight. I will admit that the fact that I hate to shop and she loves it doesn't help. That's she's a teenager reduces the odds. That it was crowded, noisy, and overwhelming made me realize that I had lost any semblance of sanity and this was a lost cause from the moment the stupid idea to shop on BLACK Friday occured to me.

We struggled through and emerged alive and rational (barely). This near death experience included a stop at the food court where I discovered that advice received from my Aunt was true; you can go into McDonalds tm and order a cheeseburger hold the burger. One of my cousins and her children are vegetarians and my Aunt told me how my cousin figured out that her kids could still experience McD's this way. Not that it's the best food for you but I admit to a weakness for their fries and it is convenient sometimes. I did have a little trouble when I tried to order because the person behind the counter didn't speak English very well. When I ordered she enquired, "You want a burger but not a burger? Just the bun?" I said, "No, a cheese burger hold the burger". She was very confused. We went back and forth a couple of times until she turned to the woman next to her, asked her a question in Spanish. The other woman said, "No carne, no carne." Showed her where the 'no meat' button was on the register. We got a cheeseburger-no-burger happy meal and D was happy (at least with the meal).

I have said this before but I have well and truly learned my lesson...I will NEVER take my children shopping on BLACK Friday again!

gobble gobble

We had a lovely Thanksgiving, surrounded by masses of family. My brother and his family came to stay with us. We drove over to my Aunt's house where we met up with our parents and various cousins, aunts, uncles and lots of new babies in the family. It was so wonderful to see, exclaim over, and hug everyone. Lots of laughter, talking, eating. And even some football watching in one corner of the house...some of the younger boy cousins are starting to join into the male-bonding ritual of falling asleep to the game after dinner. Of course they didn't sleep but they loved watching the game and listening to the uncles and grandpas talking.

Food being an important part of the ritual we had a feast that was truly not to be believed. Five kinds of cranberry sauce, broccoli bake, corn pudding, crockpot stuffing (see recipe below), braised carrots, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, pickled onions, pickled sweet potatoes, an olive platter, shrimp cocktail, a cheese platter, a roast turkey, a fried turkey, and probably some other stuff that I forgot. The dessert buffet was just as impressive with a pumpkin pie, apple pie, seven layer cake, cannoli cake, flourless hazelnut torte, pumpkin bread, two kinds of brownies. We are truly fortunate to be able to have such an abundance of wonderful food and all of these fabulous people to share it with. Safe, warm and loved. What a blessing.

Every time we are all together we try to take a family picture. It's getting harder and harder as there are more and more of us to squeeze into the frame. There were 32 of us this year. It's funny how the next generation is taking over. When my generation was the youngest in the picture my cousin E was the baby. Now E is 22 and there are many spouses and babies to include. Unfortunately technology has not kept pace with our needs. Digital cameras can be great but the time release picture feature did not work well so we had to take a picture without Aunt S, our family photographer. Usually she is diving for her "spot" just before the camera goes off. We still got a great picture, but I'm sad that she wasn't in it.

All in all an amazing Thanksgiving with many reasons to be thankful. I hope yours was just as wonderful.

Crockpot Stuffing
serves 16

1 C. butter
2 C. chopped onion
2 C. chopped celery
12 1/2 C. bread cubes
1 T. Bell's seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
4 1/2 C. broth (I used veggie)
2 beaten eggs

melt butter
sautee onion and celery
spoon over bread
add seasonings
add broth
add eggs
mix well

put into greased crockpot
cook on high 45 minutes
cook on low 4-6 hours

Saturday, November 11, 2006

apples apples everywhere

We belong to a supper club. There are four couples and four times a year we get together for a meal at one house; the host provides the entree, each of the other couples contribute a different part of the meal.

The dynamics of this group of people is amazing. Every time we get together we laugh and laugh, truly enjoying each others company and the food we share together. Tonight was no exception.

The theme (which the host picks) was American Harvest. Our lovely hosts provided a roast with an apple cider glaze, sauteed apples and mashed potatoes. For the appetizer I made potato pancakes (see recipe below) with sour cream and homemade applesauce. The side dishes were a lovely green salad and a baked butternut squash/apple dish spiced with mace. Dessert pie with vanilla ice cream. Thatsalotta apples. It was all so very delicious.

The next event is going to be hosted at my house in three or four months. I'll need to think of a theme and assign dishes to my fellow supper-clubbers. So far we have done Lebanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, Norwegian, Italian, Hungarian, and American Harvest.

Potato Pancakes

Note: I shred the potato and onion in my cuisinart

3 pounds potatoes peeled and shredded
2 large onions shredded
3 eggs beaten
3 T. whole wheat flour
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the above together and let sit 10-15 minutes.
Heat oil in a pan.
Drop potato mixture by large spoonfuls into hot oil.
Flip after a couple of minutes.
Should be browned on both sides.

Serve hot with apple sauce and sour cream.

week in review

No, it's not leftovers (although that's what we call them at my house) but a reminiscence of this past really lovely week spent with my Aunt. We realized that it's been nine years since she came to stay just with me. We had such a fabulous time together, I hope that it's not another nine years before she stays with us again.

We had many wonderful conversations together, our dinnertable conversatons with the kids were really great, lots of talking and catching up.

The highlights of her visit (I hope they were highlights for her) were:

1. Attending Stitch Sisters with me. We had a huge meeting with 9 members in attendance! We laughed so much and had such a great time talking about knitting (my Aunt belongs to a knitting group called "Knit n Nosh" so we have adopted them as our Sister Stitch Sisters - if that makes any sense). We also shared the hats that we made for our Hats for the Homeless project. We made 60 hats!!! I'm so impressed with us. Each hat is unique and wonderful. Most of us used this as an opportunity to unload some stash yarn. I'm thrilled about taking it all down to the shelter within the next week or so.

2. My Aunt spent summers in this area as a kid. So we drove around to all of the old haunts...the library, the train station, the IGA, the lake, and even managed to find what we believe was where the house she stayed in was. It was very different now because when she stayed there only six houses existed on the street. Now there are over 50 and the old homestead has been torn down. It was a lovely walk down memory lane for her and fun for me to hear her reminisces about her childhood in the area.

3. Visiting a yarn shop. Totally necessary you understand. We were on a button seeking mission. The fact that we bought yarn is totally inconsequential.

4. Sharing tea and a gingerbread man at the local "pie joint." He was a very delicious gingerbread man with chocolate boots. So delicious in fact that we went back two days later to share breakfast and another gingerbread man.

5. I had a tea party in honor of my Aunt and invited a number of friends. It was really lovely for everyone to get together, sharing tea, muffins and good company. I love having tea parties, they're so much easier and more relaxed than having a big luncheon.

It was a great visit and I'm sad she's left because I feel like she could have stayed another month and we would still have had so much to talk about and enjoy each others company. Luckily I'll get to see her again soon.

too funny

Steve called and V answered the phone. She said, "The number you have dialed is not in service, please press numero uno to leave a message and other stuff." He hung up! Then called my cell to tell me there was a problem with the phone. LOL

Sunday, November 05, 2006

lovely weekend

We went to my parents where they had a house chock-a-block full of people, my Aunt, a friend of theirs, his lady friend, us, them, two cats. We had a really lovely time visiting with everyone and all of the great conversations and wonderful food.

Yesterday we got to attend a Guy Fawkes day party thrown by their slightly insane neighbors who live down the street. It's always a crowded and hilarious time. This year was no exception. After eating mountains of food the assembled throng was treated to a slightly revised version of English history, a truly spectacular burning of the guy (these people have a friend who is a pyrotechnic expert -- the head of the guy exploded!), fireworks, recitations of Der Jammerwoch (Jabberwocky in German) and Rindercella as well as some amazingly fabulous live celtic music. There were party hats of all types to wear, a tacky table (I'm going to have to find something suitably tacky to contribute next year) and lots of great people to have great conversations with. Fun, fun, fun.

Today was a lovely brunch put together by my Mom and her sister, a nice autumn walk afterwards and then more great conversations. My Aunt and I started knitting a hat together for my Great-Aunt. It's fun to be working on the project together. It seems to have been a popular idea because now everybody wants Dad, Steve... hmmmm...maybe they were kidding? All in all it was a very relaxing and fun weekend, just what we needed.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

wfmw - lost and found

It's that time of the week again, so here's my tip and remember, if you want to play too (or just read the great tips out there) visit Shannon.

I have a lost and found basket in my house. If anyone leaves anything and I can't mail it back or don't see them regularly I put it in the basket. When they come visit again I check the basket to see if there is something for them. I keep it in the front hall by the door.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

it's over

the madness, the mayhem...ghosties, ghoulies and more.

We were fortunate enough to have warm weather for Halloween this year, in the 60's. D went as an adorable geisha, V went as a white witch. But the hordes. My goodness.

We have lived here for five years now and know that this is THE Halloween street in the area. Usually the count is somewhere around 200. I bought candy sticks this year; enough for 240 kids. By 7:45 I was almost out so I called a friend who had offered candy if I needed it. She brought up enough for another 50-60 kids. At 8:30 I had to turn off my lights, we were done. By my count that is around 300 kids!!! Dang that's a lot of candy.

Some of it was fun, the cute little kids just learning to say 'happy halloween' and the older kids who chat for a minute or really put some thought into their costumes. Sometimes I ask if the kids can do tricks. This year I got a kid in a gorilla costume who walked on his hands for me. I like that part of it but admit that it gets tiring handing out that much candy, running back and forth, being up and chipper and "oh how cute" all night long.

My in-laws were here to visit, they were stunned by the sheer numbers. My friends Christina and Patty came with their families, they know this is THE street also but even they were stunned this year. All in all we had a fun evening, eating chili, playing monopoly and handing out candy. Now the kitchen is cleaned up, the candy debris has been cleared and it's off to bed.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

give him an inch...

...he'll take the whole sofa! I am of course referring to the furball-in-residence otherwise known as Tobi. When he first came into our life I thought there were certain rules that I wanted enforced. No dog on the bed. No begging at the table. Must be potty trained. No dog on the sofa. The children will walk the dog.

I don't know if it's because we got him as a puppy, because I am a weak lily-livered person (please don't answer that) or the conspirations of the universe but so far the count has become Dog 3 Mom 2. He does not beg and he is potty trained. Those are my victories.

D likes him to sleep on her bed...I find him there sometimes - with or without her. Then we (read not me) began letting him on the "old" sofa. He would curl up neatly in the corner and be happy communing with his pack while they watched tv. Then he began to stretch out; soon he was lying along the back of the sofa with everyone perched in front. Now I've just chased him off the "good" or "new" sofa. Curled up pretty as you please taking a snooze. I made him get down but I've realized this is a losing battle. Once he knows he can go on a sofa why should he care which sofa? With or without people? Without is probably better, there's more room.

And guess who walks him? Hrrrmph.

what is that white stuff?

OMG!!! It's snow! Yes folks, it's official. Here in our little corner of our little town we had a 5 minute snow flurry today. And it's not even November yet. All of a sudden I'm feeling distinctly colder. Good thing we have lots of wood for the stove.

baking day

I did indeed make sourdough bread today. But instead of making anything from the The Bread Bible I chose to use the recipe from The Joy of Cooking. I have an old copy from 1974 which is just about falling apart but this is truly one of my favorite cookbooks.

However for some reason I was not content to follow the recipe. Using fresh ground flour was enough of a change that I should have stopped there to see what effect this would have on the bread. Instead I chose to use part barley flour. Then, not having any molasses, I chose to use barley malt for my sweetener. The bread rose well overnight but was colder than I would have liked in the morning. I punched it down, added the egg, butter and the rest of the flour and set it to proof over the wood burning stove to make use of the extra heat. It rose well but didn't continue to rise once I put it in the oven to bake. As a result although it is tasty it doesn't have the crumb that I wanted and is a little too dense and not fluffy enough. Well, I learned something and it's not feeding the birds so I guess that counts as a success.

I was in a baking mood so I also made another bread varying a recipe I have for something called Cuban Bread. I used Hard Red Wheat, Spelt, Buckwheat and Kidney Beans for the flours approximately 2:2:1:1. When I ground it I changed the grind to coarse about half way through the milling so that this would have more substance to it.

Cuban-sort-of Bread

2 C. warm water
1 T. salt
2 T. sucanat
1/4 C. ground flaxseed
5-6 C. flour

Mix together water, salt, sucanat, flax and 2 C. flour. Let rest for 10 minutes. Add yeast and remaining flour until dough is formed. Let rest another 10 minutes. Shape and let rise until double. Bake 350 degrees approximately 35 minutes or till done. This bread came out looking great. It's for tomorrow for dinner so I can't tell how it tastes yet.

While baking I guess I felt like I was on a roll so I made two batches of cookies. One was almond barley biscotti. The other was oatmeal raisin coconut pecan cookies. We haven't had cookies in the house in a very long time (mostly because yours truly eats them all and we didn't want to go there) but I guess it was overdue. Both batches were pronounced a success by the guinea pigs official tasters.

Then came cleaning the kitchen....aaaaaaaauuuuuugh!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

thirty-fifth day

Thanks to Chaotic Home I joined the 30 days of peace challenge. The thirty days is more than looking today I realized I was up to 35 days. Even though I haven't posted consistently I realized that I have gained a bit more peace in my life by learning to stop and think about the peaceful things in my day every day. Because I've been doing this for 35 days now hopefully it will be a habit that I can continue, it's defninitely one that is worthwhile.

book review - every mother is a daughter

Remember a while back I joined Callapidder Days Fall Into Reading Challenge. So here is my latest entry review for a book on my list that I read.

Every Mother Is a Daughter: The Neverending Quest for Success, Inner Peace, and a Really Clean Kitchen (Recipes and Knitting Patterns Included) is a great book. I felt a strong connection with the author (whose columns I admire in Knitter's magazine), her relationship with her mother, and her reflections on life, motherhood, culture and more.

Yes there are knitting patterns. Yes there are recipes. But mostly this book is an open and honest dialogue between mother and daughter about different areas of their lives, their approaches, their feelings. There was a lot there that I could relate to. I also found myself amused sometimes by the interjections each gave to the other when certain statements were made. It is a book filled with the love that they have for each other along with the exasperation that daughters have for mothers and mothers have for children. It made me look a little closer at some of my interactions with my daughters. Definitely a good book and a worthwhile read.

lazy saturday

I got to sleep in a bit which was a welcome change from all of the early-rise-and-run-around I've been doing all week.

I made sourdough pancakes for breakfast from my sourdough starter which is starting to smell and taste a little more sour as it matures. I made up the recipe and will have to continue to tweak it a bit but the results were rather tasty.

Sourdough Pancakes

1 C. sourdough starter
1 C. fresh ground soft white flour
1 C. water
2 t. vanilla
1 t. baking powder (I think I needed more)
1 t. salt

mix together
let rest 10 minutes

I did learn that when working with fresh whole grain flours and making pancakes you need to flip them as soon as the bubbles appear on the edges. Otherwise the pancakes will burn. I followed that and these came out perfectly browned. Very tasty but I think if I try again with more baking powder they will rise more which I would like. Served with melted butter and warmed maple syrup they were delicious.

After breakfast I took a big mug of tea back to bed with me and curled up to read my newest find from the library, The Bread Bible. What a luxury and a joy to sit quietly curled in bed reading this book. I really like it and think I'm going to have to buy it for my own personal library. The writing is very clear and I like the fact that the author, Rose Levy Beranbaum, talks about not liking sponges at first and then explaining all the different types, how she uses them and how they work (that's as far as I've gotten in the book). I flipped through to see some of the recipes and they look really lovely, can't wait to read through but I'm enjoying the beginning of the book as well.

I think I am going to try one of her sourdough recipes tonight; I was planning on baking tomorrow and instead of the recipe I was going to make I'll use my starter with a recipe from the book, we'll see how it turns out.

Friday, October 27, 2006

dating myself...

MacGyver Commercial

This is too funny. I remember this show from when I was a kid. Generational memory I guess because I'm sure my kids wouldn't find it nearly as amusing.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

end of day

It's the end of a very busy day and I'm feeling it but felt like posting before I go to bed.

Today was a cooking day. I have started a sourdough starter and made my first batch of fresh ground wheat/spelt bread from it. It turned out fairly well but I'm having problems with my ferschtunkene oven. I think it's off, maybe by as much as 50 degrees. It's a high end appliance and we had three service calls in the first two years, but I digress.

The bread came out well but I think it didn't loft as much as I would have wanted in the oven so although the crust was perfect the crumb was a little too dense. It was tasty but not too sour as it's still a new starter. I'll be interested to see what happens with the next batch of bread I make from this starter.

The recipe? I'm glad you asked...

2 C. starter
~5 C. flour (I used hard red and spelt)
1 T. salt
1 C. warm water

Knead, let sit overnight, punch down, form, let rise four hours. Bake 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Still in the kitchen I decided that today was the day that I was finally going to process the apples that I got when I went apple picking with the cousins. They've been hanging out on my porch and I needed to finally get them done.

I made 7 quarts of apple pie filling. I've been wanting to make this for years but every year I go ahead and make apple sauce instead. This year it was the pie filling. It looks delicious and I hope it turned out well. The great thing is that when we want a pie, all the peeling, slicing, dicing will be done. And thanks to my lovely friend Kay I own an apple peeler/slicer/corer so I was able to whip through a half bushel of apples in nothing flat.

Apple Pie Filling Recipe:

Fill your sterilized jars with slices of peeled cored apples and then pour the syrup over them, seal and process in a boiling water bath. The syrup is:

10 C. water
5 C. sugar
1/2 C. cornstarch
1/2 C. granulated tapioca
5 t. cinnamon (I used some very fragrant apple pie spice that my lovely friend Freydis brought over from England on her last visit)

Cook the above stirring often over medium heat until it comes to a boil.

When we were picking apples there was a bin of pears that we could help ourselves to so I did. I've been eating my way through them but still had quite a few left so I decided to make something. Rummaging through recipes I modified a couple and came up with the following:

Pear Cranberry Pecan Conserve Recipe:

4 C. peeled, cored, diced pears
1 C. dried cranberries
1 C. sugar
2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
1/2 t. salt

cook over low heat until ingredients have thickened together, approximately 30 minutes. Add 3/4 C. chopped pecans. Can and process 15 minutes.

This should be good with roast meats as a side condiment, I hope it comes out well.

After all of that my day was not done because I still had to go to the Leader Training for Girl Scouts. Our troop has bridged into the next level so they get you and make you go to training. Actually it was fun, we had a good time and laughed a lot but they could have accomplished the objective in 1 1/2 hours instead of 2 1/2 hours and it was 40 minutes away. Bleah! But it's done, I'm good for three years now unless we decide that we want to do mountaineering or something, unh huh.

And now it's off to bed.

wfmw - baking tiles

h/t to my friend David for this one.

He taught me that instead of buying an expensive pizza stone you can buy unglazed quarry tile at a home improvement store. They line up neatly on the rack and work very well. They work so well that I now use them for all of my baking. I've been doing this for years.

Simple, easy, inexpensive. Works for me.

Go visit Shannon for more tips.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

more coolness

In aimless wandering diligently searching for sites of interest or amusement on that great web out there I came across this. How cool! I'm tempted to do this as I have plenty of fall foliaged leaves but then can't figure out what the heck to do with them next. Perhaps I'll just enjoy the pictures.

last day

On the farm. I'm so sad, the farm season is over for the year. No more peaceful pick-your-own afternoons in the field. No more lovely, lovely produce. But I know it will be there again next year because I have already sent in my deposit!

Today's haul included a pie pumpkin, butternut squash, red cabbage, 2 quarts of potatoes, spinach!!!!, a rutabaga (I've never made one, I hope they're tasty), red peppers, kale (yummmm), and brussel sprouts. Three more weeks and the fencing around the farm will come down so that the deer may browse and enjoy the leavings in the field. It's always nice to drive by and see them; I'm much happier to see them there than in my yard.

blog thievery update

Thanks so several very sympathetic people who responded to my last post. A couple of you, including my Mom send this very helpful link that has lots of good info. One option would be to remove the RSS feeds from my site. But then everyone who reads it wouldn't know when I updated and I'm reluctant to do that.

I am looking into contacting Google Adwords to make sure that at least the site in question does not profit from my writings on their site with Google Ads. I'm also looking into some other options referenced in the link above.

My friend Meg even sent me a lovely Shakespearean cursing site that came up with this gem Thou fawning shard-borne maggot-pie! , thanks again to everyone.

Friday, October 13, 2006

pissed off

I got online this morning in a vain attempt to catch up on some of my favorite blog posts. Life has been very hectic (as evidenced by the limited posts on my end) and I have been behind. What I got was a smack in the face.

Reading Mommy off the Record, one of my new favorites, I was abruptly introduced to Bitacle and their blatant thievery of blog posts for personal profit. To say that I was stunned was an understatement. I followed some of the leads and wound up here which is probably the best place to get info about this. I was outraged at what these people are doing. They are stealing other people's words, pictures, and work for their gain. Since they are in Spain they probably think that copyright laws do not apply to them.

Out of curiousity I decided to check for my blog. Another slap in the face. I'll start with the honest statement that I do not think my blog is anything amazing. There are far more talented bloggers out there. But I enjoy it, friends and family keep up with me this way and I have a few blog-friends who I am slowly getting to know by cross-posting. I enjoy this communication with them and I enjoy sharing parts of my life. 364 of my pages have been stolen. And advertised! I don't even advertise on my own site. I do this for personal enjoyment not to profit off of it.

I'm so angry that I don't know what to do. I am going to have to investigate this further to determine what's next for me. But for the next few days there will be no posts as this has taken all of the joy out of it for me.

If you blog I encourage you to check and make sure your content is not being stolen. If it is you can join the rest of us in fighting against them.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

wfmw - utility papers

It's Wednesday again and you know what that means....

Today's tip is courtesy of my husband. In case no one has been keeping count I've realized that the last few posts have all been things that work for me but that I got from someone else. I have no original wfmw ideas? I'll have to ponder that.

Take a gallon size ziplock bag. Duct tape the sides to the wall near an appliance (hot water heater, furnace, water softening unit) and put the important appliance related paperwork inside. Zip closed. Then when you need something it's right near the appliance in question and at least zipped shut against potential water damage.

Definitely works for me.

For more great hints skip on over to Shannon's and check it out.

Monday, October 09, 2006

pickle challenge

Well this is a first. My cousin Eric gave me a jar of pickles today. He said, "These are not for you to enjoy. They are for you to figure out how to make them." He loves these pickles so much that he wants to be able to get them at home because they are not easy to get where he is.

Amish hot pickle chunks. Hmmmmmm. I don't know if I can do it but I'm willing to try. The ingredients are on the label so I don't have to guess there. Just a matter of trying to figure out the proportions. We'll have to have a grand tasting and then see if we can figure it out.

Stay tuned for further developments.

30 days of peace - day 14

Graphic and concept courtesy of The Chaotic Home, check it out.

Today had lots of peaceful moments. And those moments that weren't so peaceful? They weren't so bothersome either; that's a good thing as we could all do with a little more peacefulness in our day.

  • playing play-doh with E and M
  • seeing my cousins and Aunt
  • hugs and kisses from my girls
  • lunch in the treehouse with Susan
  • a surprise box of authentic bakery baked goods from a neighbor for picking up their mail

    Hope you had a peaceful day too.

  • apple picking day

    It was a gorgeous sunny day today. Funny enough it didn't feel "fall-y" enough for apple picking. I usually expect the weather to be crisp and cool with a wine-y scent of groundfall apples. It was over 70 degrees but the smell of fall was there.

    My Aunt Susan came up and we met at my cousin's house with her adorable twins, E and M. They are so adorable and we played with play-doh for a while before heading off to the orchard.

    The orchard, unfortunately, was quite a disappointment. It was not well kept, there were poison ivy vines at the bottom of a lot of trees, the trees did not look well pruned, the trees were not marked as to type of apple, the bottoms of the trees had been so thoroughly picked that you needed a pole to get to the apples at the top. The orchard did not have enough poles to pass out to everyone. I was rather upset about it and have decided that I will not be returning to them next year.

    We did manage to pick a bushel of apples. Well, my Aunt and I did. My cousin, E and M sat in the shade of a tree with M throwing apples while they waited.

    After the apple picking the twins went down for a nap and Susan and I went back to my house. We had a lovely lunch in my wonderful tree house (so perfect for entertaining in good weather) and enjoyed hours of great conversation before she finally had to head home.

    It was a really wonderful day.

    Sunday, October 08, 2006

    30 days of peace - day 13

    I find it hard to believe that I am already at day 13. The time has been flying by. Truthfully I will admit to not feeling overall more peaceful but on a day by day basis as I sit and reflect on the journey toward a more peaceful existence I do realize that certain aspects of my life are getting more peaceful.

    Today's big peaceful moment is that I took time for myself. Lots of it. After doing necessary chores today I had some unexpected free time. I chose to use that time to lie on the sofa and read, read, read. Something I rarely get to do. It was such a treat that I don't even feel a shred of guilt about any of the dust/cleaning/laundry that didn't get done. The girls were busy with their activities and the house was peacefully and blissfully quiet (except for the dog who is worse than the cat when it comes to the in-and-out-and-in-and-out-and nonsense).

    That and looking foward to a fun family day picking apples tomorrow makes for a whole lotta peacefulness.

    If you want to have your own 30 days of peace journey or to see what others are doing check out The Chaotic Home.

    apres camp

    Well, here I am. The fact that I'm posting does indeed mean that we all survived the campout.

    Actually it was a lot of fun (aside from bedtime but we'll get there in a moment). We had a pod tent with three sections. The leaders got one pod and the girls split up into the other two. We wound up with six campers which was a good number.

    Dinner was hotdogs/veggie dogs over the campfire. The girls loved it and proclaimed that hot dogs cooked outside over a campfire taste way better than any other cooking method. They even tried to roast the baby carrots which kept falling off the sticks so nobody got to taste one.

    After dinner we sang campfire songs. That was a lot of fun. Sitting there with the sun going down listening to their sweet, energetic voices singing campsongs, laughing and giggling by the glow of sunset and campfire. It was truly one of those magical moments that made me feel very happy.

    After songs we had s'mores. As I had mentioned Miss D is a vegetarian. So we had gelatin-free fluff which she spread on a graham, topped with chocolate and another graham, wrapped in foil and roasted. Her invention was even better than mine as she made the foil long enough to put the stick through both ends and suspend the s'more-a-like over the fire. It was sooooo goooooey that everyone else wanted to do that too and slowly fire-softened marshmallows went completely by the wayside.

    We didn't get a chance to do any star gazing because even though there was a full moon there was a very dense cloud cover so we'll have to find another time to do that for our badge work.

    Flashlight tag and other games ensued before it was finally time to brush teeth. We told the girls that they had to brush their teeth outside, no going up to the house. Please spit in the bushes near the pond. They were so excited about spitting in the pond that they completely mis-heard the directions. D remarked, "Now the fish will be minty fresh!" Not sure how happy the fish were about that.

    Bedtime was a challenge to say the least. Coyotes howling in the distance and what we think was a racoon keeping up a splishity-splashity clatter on the other side of the pond. None of this was helped by the "don't point your flaslight at my tent", "stop talking to me", "well make me", "but I don't WANT the window open" tween chatter that went on for quite a while. It was rather exhausting for both leaders and it wasn't until we threatened to throw them completely out of the tent that everyone finally settled down and went to sleep. As near as we can figure out they fell asleep at 1 am and woke at 7, urgh.

    Breakfast was a complete surprise. Our Fearless Leader's husband, Mr. Fearless decided to "treat" the girls for their first campout experience and went to Dunkin Donuts. Try telling a pack of adolescent girls that they have to forgo the gooey donuts and hot chocolate for campfire cake (well, and hot chocolate). I'm here to assure you that donuts will win, hands down, every time. I'll confess that I wasn't too pushy about that though because I hied myself up to the house for a hot cup of green tea to get my corpuscles moving.

    After a sugar-laden breakfast the girls had enough energy to pack up, take down the tent and hike around the pond trail. Everyone had a really great time and we are already talking about our next campout in May.

    In case anyone was wondering...yes I brought toilet paper; no the girls did not pee in the woods. I guess it sounds more exciting in theory than in practice.

    Friday, October 06, 2006


    One of the problems with volunteering for things is that occasionally it gets you into trouble. Not serious, messing with the law, trouble. Just trouble.

    Like tonight.

    It all started last May.

    D's Girl Scout leader asked for a co-leader. Somehow I found myself volunteering before any form of conscious and rational thought could make its way through the blobby grey matter that serves as my brain.

    All summer long we happily made plans for the troop, activities for the girls, fun stuff that we could help them work on. It's all for a good cause, for the girls. Helping them to become independent, self-aware, self-caring human beings. Definitely worthwhile for everyone involved.

    However the second not-quite-rational thought was to plan a camp-out. Somehow in August the idea of a camp-out seems like fun. Even though you are planning it for OCTOBER!!!! We did not think (in case you hadn't guessed) that it might be cold. Now we are planning on spending the night in a tent near a pond :probably lots of bullfrogs to keep us awake she grumbles:

    The girls were thrilled to say the very least. Half of them are very excited about the idea of being able to pee in the woods. My thoughts on that matter? If you want to pee in the woods honey, go right ahead. I personally will be bringing a huge honking flashlight and hiking over the hill to the nearest house (luckily belonging to the Leader).

    Now I'm somehow managing to plan the evening's activities:

  • We have to watch stars to finish the Outdoor Creativity Badge (full moon tonight, wonder if that affects the viewing?)

  • eat s'mores [no real challenge there except my daughter is a vegetarian and can't eat marshmallows. Did I go to the healthfood store over an hour away to buy $4.89/bag vegan marshmallows? Nope. Muy bad (and I do feel awful about it). In my own defence I have invented the tinfoil-s'more-maker. Marshmallow fluff has no gelatin therefore you assemble your s'more-a-like, wrap it in foil and bake in the fire. No charcoaled exterior on the marshmallows but gooey and delicious just the back to regularly scheduled blogging]

  • sing campfire songs - It's my job to teach them as this is our first campout. I've been running through some oldies but goodies, I'm thinking this will be lots of fun. I've also got a head-start in that D already knows all the songs.

  • tell ghost stories - I really don't like that part as I'm sure I will wind up with somebodylying on top of/next to me in quakey-shakey terror of the latest boogey man. And let's not mention that I have a very active imagination and really don't like scary stories to begin with.

  • keep warm - I personally plan to bring three pairs of socks and thermal underwear. I'm a wuss, I like to be warm while I sleep. I've been told that Boy Scouts camp even in the winter but that's them.

  • eat - for dinner the girls planned weenie wraps on a stick, potatoes in foil, and baby carrots (probably to try to appease the two moms into believing they would be eating something healthy. Breakfast? Our Fearless Leader says she's not cooking coffee over a campfire, she's hiking over the hill. I have put in an order for a cup of green tea thankyouverymuch.

  • sleep - as if

    Unfortunately I will not be able to take a nap before I go, should make for a very interesting tomorrow.

  • fun stuff

    h/t to: Knitting Iris for this link.

    Have fun!

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    30 days of peace - day 10

    Today was a bit more fractious. It was a running, running, running day with lots of errands and not much getting done around the house. I really dislike days like that because at the end of the day my house looks like a tornado came through it followed by a demolition derby.

    Although I am feeling overwhelmed and behind on everything I am also grateful for the following:

  • seeing a baby deer by the side of the road. They're so cute that it's unfortunate they grow up to munch the garden.
  • Another beautiful sunny day. It was so sunny that the autumnal colors literally glowed on the trees.
  • Steve made pizza for dinner and it was delicious
  • a quiet evening

    All good things that will hopefully continue tomorrow.

  • thursday thirteen - food

    I confess that this is only the second time that I have been able to participate in the Thursday Thirteen meme. Part of the problem is that there are so many people who participate and I want to read all of them. So if I think I have a good chance of reading them I will participate, otherwise I'll wait until a better week.

    As I was racking my brain for thirteen things I realized it's not that easy. But here's one...thirteen things I make that my kids like to eat. Some of the kids are pickier eaters than the others but these are family favorites:

    1. homemade mac and cheese
    2. red rice and beans
    3. spaghetti with Dad's sauce
    4. homemade pizza
    5. fresh homemade bread with homemade grape jelly
    6. cassoulet
    7. pesto pasta
    8. leek and potato soup
    9. tacquitos
    10. latkes
    11. homemade applesauce
    12. cookies (of any sort)
    13. banana bread

    free hugs

    I found out about this video from It's interesting to watch. Makes me wonder if I would be able to hug a stranger.

    It also makes you stop and realize how often we don't interact with those around us, refusing to even meet a stranger eye-to-eye when we pass them.

    And how can you ban hugging?

    Food for thought

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    30 days of peace - day seven

    Day seven on the journey toward a more peaceful existence. I try to take it all one day at a time and at certain times one moment at a time.

    Those things that created calm or serenity in my day and that I am grateful for:

  • going to the farm (love that) with Steve (even better)
  • Stitch Sisters (always a plus for me)
  • a beautiful fall day (I'm so fortunate to live where I do)
  • Hugs from my kids
  • Making a great dinner and feeling really good about it

    To follow along with others or to start your own 30 days of peace visit Chaotic Home

  • stitching the night awy

    Stitch Sister night, one of my favorite nights of the week.

    Two people brought hats, three of us were working on hats, but we're winding down.

    It was a wonderful evening filled with laughter and lots of craft work. It's funny how we can all related to certain subjects such as:

  • "I'm not supposed to buy anymore yarn but..."
  • "My husband found my stash closet"
  • "Did you see this cute pattern?"

    and we all oooh and aah and commiserate about having not enough time to knit everything we want to work on. I also love the fact that we are all at different skill levels and can encourage each other to aspire to greater heights of knitting. It is a wonderful thing.

  • farm day

    Today was the day I go to the farm. Steve was home so he went with me. It was a gorgeous sunny fall day and the company made it even better.

    We were treated to the sight of a flock (?) of turkeys in the field. It was neat to see them there.

    Today's pick your own haul included a large bag of beans that I will shell for dried beans and a large bouquet of flowers.

    The share was butternut squash, turnips, pie pumpkin, onions, garlic, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower. Wow we came home with a bag full.

    Dinner tonight was mostly from the farm. The last of last weeks potatoes cooked Indian style with mustard seed, and tomatos. The last of last weeks kale also cooked Indian style with mustard seed, cumin seed, onions and garbanzos. I made some curried chicken and attempted to make injera, Ethopian flat bread, to go with dinner. Steve turned out to be better than I at cooking it but I think it didn't come out the way it was supposed to. Lovely dinner though, very tasty and I loved the fact that the majority of the ingredients came from the farm: kale, potatoes, onions, garlic, and tomatoes.

    Only three weeks left for the farm season, I'm going to miss it when it's over.