The most requested thing for dinner around here? Noodles. With butter.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

And so it goes...

2011 is going. It wan't a bad year, as years go. (Could have used more snow...) There were the usual number of bright spots and glitches, successes and failures. There were a couple of epic high points, and a time or two where I wished I could have turned back the clock. I learned some new things to use in my classroom, but not all of them worked as well as I'd hoped. I continued to daydream about owning and maintaining a smaller, cozier house but didn't put my own house on the market because the market is currently really really bad.

For the second year in a row, I kept my New Year's Resolution to read through the Bible. Well, almost kept. I still have about 80 pages to go. I know. Nothing like waiting till the last minute and making it feel like a race against time. Hard to digest the goodness when you go that fast. I was doing great until summer hit. Summer... and Jeremiah. Next time I plan to read through, I will start with the New Testament and then go to the Old. That way, Jeremiah won't ambush me in the lazy days of summer.

For 2012, I plan to discontinue a bad pattern I have set for myself. I currently fall asleep to the TV. I find a rerun show that I have probably seen before and turn the volume down so low that it's difficult to hear distinct words. Then I set the TV timer and I fall asleep to the white noise. It's probably not the best way to fall asleep, but it does accomplish the purpose of masking out the noises in my house. My house creaks and settles and makes all sorts of noises late at night. It's awful to be at that delicious "almost asleep" phase and then have some sound startle me fully awake and I am sure that someone is walking around downstairs until I realize it is just the ice maker in the freezer. It creeps me out. The noises outside my house are almost as bad. There's the wind, the neighbors, and the freeway. (See why I want to move? I need to find a deaf person to buy my house.)

I decided that the "white noise" idea was good, but using the TV was not so good. Music might be nice. Classical, easy listening, etc. My clock radio has a sleep feature on it, but I can't fall asleep to the same radio station that I wake to- the programming just doesn't work out. I would use my iPod with the speakers, but the speakers glow more than the TV does, which makes it hard to sleep. I finally hit on a solution- my old boom box. I could play a CD which would end by the time I was off in dreamland. Operating a CD is fairly quiet- there is no button that clicks off when the CD is done, it just stops spinning. Problem solved.

And what did I choose to hear as I fall asleep? The Bible on CD! This year, I won't do a read through, I'll do a listen through! Always want to engage different parts of the brain in the Word- this seems like a creative option.

So, my New Year's Resolution this year is to listen through the whole Bible- maybe more than once.

What about you? Any resolutions or goals?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Taco Tuesday

On Tuesdays, after 3pm, our local Del Taco sells 3 tacos for $1.17. We always order the soft tacos instead of the crunchy ones, and three per person is plenty. So, for two of us, dinner comes to $2.53. Can't beat that at home- and there are no dishes to clean up!

I love Christmas break. Yesterday we ran errands and I bought new socks. I love buying socks. Today we went to a movie and then to a bookstore and then to Del Taco and then worked on a jigsaw puzzle at home while listening to Christmas carols. I love doing puzzles while listening to Christmas carols.

I could so get used to being a SAHM. If only Publishers Clearing House would agree and let me win the $10,000,000... I could rock the domestic life. I could also buy tacos any day of the week.

Sigh. :->

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I know where my boxes went!

They went to Peru. I've never been to Peru, but according to Samaritan's Purse, my shoeboxes are there now- waiting to be given to a dozen girls who really could use some Christmas.

Last year, I did a dozen boxes for the older boys. Those boxes went to Indonesia.
This year, I decided to do them for the older girls. I didn't budget it out month by month like last year. This year I figured that since I didn't really need anything for my birthday, I would have a shoebox party. (Hey- If they are going to cut my pay at work, I'll figure out a way to rope everyone else into my charity giving!)
Since I wanted to build seven shoeboxes, I asked people to bring seven items (Because 7 times 7 is my age. I am prime squared.). We had great fun as we passed the boxes around the table and loaded them with goodies.
Combined with the five boxes I did with Ab, this made an even dozen. And now they are in Peru!
Check out the Samaritan's Purse website for more details on this ministry.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wish List

Remember the days of the big Sears Christmas Toy Catalog? I think they called it a Wish Book.
My brothers and I would stretch out on the floor and gaze at the displays in order to play "What's Your Favorite Thing On This Page?" for every single page.

Oh, the coveting!

Funny. I don't remember if I ever received one thing from the Wish Book. I might have. I got some good presents over the years, but I don't specifically remember anything fulfilling the wishes in that catalog.

My kiddo made a wish list. It's really quite sweet and not nearly as grandiose as the wishes my brothers and I had. Her wish list is for a few books, a few DS games, some footy pajamas, and some time spent with me. She wants to go ice-skating with me, sleep in my bed, drink hot chocolate, play in the snow, and drive around looking at Christmas lights. Simple. Inexpensive. Easy to fulfill.

We started with the light displays. Armed with a list from the local paper, we aimed for the bigger displays so as to get more bang for our gas mileage. Here's a few shots from the west side of town- ending at our house:
I'm saving the east side for when we go ice skating because that is where the rink is.

As for the rest of her list? Check back here in about a week...

I will tell you that I don't go overboard with gifts. Other than a bit of candy stocking stuffers, I keep it to four gifts. I got the idea from a poem that dates from the Victorian era. It suggests you should get:

Something you want,
Something you need,
Something to wear,
Something to read.

With her wish list, the same gift could cover both something to wear and something she wants!

How about you? What's on your wish list?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My artsy kiddo

They held a contest at her school to see who would illustrate the cover of this year's program for the Christmas Sing.
Guess who won?
(I taught her everything she knows. With my left hand...)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Not even a brand new mouse. This mouse is supposedly ergonomically superior to my former mouse- you know... the flat, sleek, wonderfully modern looking, white Apple mouse. The go-to mouse that was smooth and matched my keyboard. Sigh. I loved that mouse. But the new mouse promises to have advantages and I will give it a try.

Not too much of a try, though. I'm still resting the thumb, taking my meds, doing the exercises, etc. It still hurts. I was hoping to be able to do some digital scrapbooking during Christmas break, but I doubt that will happen. Rats.

I'm trying to use my left hand as much as possible, but it is resisting. Silly left hand. It's been with me my whole life, you would think it would have picked up on a few things by now, but no. It can't use the mouse, can't brush my teeth very well, can't shake hands. It's great at wearing a watch and not too bad at typing or steering the car, but try and get it to put ribbon on a package or write something legible on the whiteboard...? Fugedaboutit. Slacker left hand.

Maybe its my fault. Maybe for forty-nine years I haven't been letting my left hand know what my right hand was doing...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Leftover turkey goes to pot...

Pot pie that is. I found an easy recipe on the internet and I made it even easier. It's so easy, it is almost like cheating.

Oven to 400 F.

Start with 2 cups of chopped up leftover turkey. White meat, dark meat, mix it all.
Add 1 can cream of chicken soup. (10.75 oz.)
Add 1/2 cup milk

The original recipe called for 2 cups of frozen "mixed vegetables", but I changed it a bit because my bag of frozen veg doubles as a flexible ice pack for my thumb, and also I prefer broccoli to carrots.

Add 1 cup frozen chopped broc, and 1 cup frozen potato cubes (Southern style hash browns)
Mix well and sprinkle with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. The original recipe said to saute some onions and then add them to the mix. Too much work for me.

The original recipe also expected me to make the pie crusts. Ha. Recipe writer, meet Mr. Doughboy!
Unroll the refrigerated pie crusts and put one in the bottom of the pie plate. I use a glass pie plate because I think they work better than the metal ones. No research there- just a feeling.
Add the turkey/veg mixture, put the top crust on and crimp the edges with the bottom crust.
Poke a couple of holes in the top crust and put it in the oven for about an hour.
The original recipe said that it serves seven. I think it serves six- it's much easier to cut a pie into six equal pieces than into seven!

So there you have it- cheater turkey pot pie. We had it for dinner tonight and the leftovers might be dinner tomorrow! YUM.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

De Quervain's Disease

Also known as tenosynovitis (thumb tendonitis). I have it. I think it is my computer's fault. Well not the computer so much as the mouse. That's right- blame the mouse.
So now I get to wear the brace, relax with some ice packs, and take some good meds. I should probably not post too much for a while, and I guess I should stop emailing the President every night asking him to abolish Daylight Saving Time. He'll likely miss reading my research, but that can't be helped.

This brace is going to make it awkward to enter the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes every day- too much clicking with the mouse.

After the inflammation goes down a bit, I get to do some cool exercises like thumb lifts, passive thumb mp flexions, Finkelstein stretches, and resisted ulnar deviation stretches. Good times, people, good times.

Until then, I can pretend I'm Spiderman and shoot webs out of my brace...

Friday, November 25, 2011

The kitchen, the kitchen, oh how I love the kitchen!

Not really. Those who know me know that I would love to have a house with no kitchen- just a bunch of vending machines and a really large trash can... but I digress.

I made up this recipe. Again... not really. I saw something like it online, and then I changed it to suit my particular culinary skill set and supplies. They said to use a can of pumpkin and then add all the spices that are usually associated with pumpkin dishes. I changed it to a can of pumpkin pie filling that already has all the spices in it because my kitchen isn't equipped with all those specific spices. (Yes, I could buy the spices, but then I would have to organize them.)

Chocolate Pumpkin Walnut Muffins
(That's all that's in there. Really.)

1 box of chocolate cake mix. (Brand doesn't matter.)
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin pie filling.
1 cup of chopped walnuts (Big chunks of walnuts- don't spend too much time chopping. This is supposed to be easy.)

Mix the pumpkin pie filling with the cake mix. Don't add eggs or anything else, you don't need them.
Pour into muffin pans lined with cupcake liners. Bake according to the directions on the box of cake mix (That's why they put them there.)

Don't frost them when they are cool. (Cupcakes get frosted, muffins don't. That's how you can tell them apart.)

Variations on a theme...

Instead of chocolate cake, you could use white, or spice. If you use spice, you might want to switch to just a can of pumpkin instead of the pie filling. Otherwise, you are doubling up on spices.
If you don't like walnuts, try pecans. You could also throw in some raisins, craisins, chopped dates, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips or some combo of any of those. (Do they make caramel chips? Cuz that would be like... yum-o!)

In the next few days, I'll probably be sharing my "recipe" for cheater turkey pot pie- complete with pictures.
Stay tuned.

Happy Black Friday!

This is our dog. He's black. His name is Friday. He's usually happy.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dear Retailers,

I am not shopping tomorrow. Not in person, not online. Just thought you ought to know that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The TRIP- part 6 (Smile when you say that, Pilgrim.)

July 20, 2011 Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts

I thought these pictures would be appropriate for Thanksgiving week!

We started at the museum. There was an introductory movie. There's always an introductory movie. I'm not complaining... it was air-conditioned! I'm just saying that it's a pattern... start with a movie, move to the museum, and then check out the outdoor part of the site. (Have I mentioned that I love being a tourist?)
Then we moved outside to the Wampanoag Homestead. It had many of the same things that Jamestown had- dwellings, cooking fires, Native American Handcrafts. There were people there in Wampanoag garb, and, like Jamestown, we were encouraged to visit with them and ask questions. Unlike Jamestown, these folks were not really that interested in answering our questions. I tried to talk with the lady who was roasting the rabbits over the fire. She gave terse, one-word answers, as if somehow talking to me would go against her tribal code or even wreck the whole rabbit meal. I was friendly, polite, and I followed all the "rules" about what vocabulary to use, but still I was rebuffed. Others who were visiting felt the same way. We didn't spend much time there, and quickly made our way up the trail to the re-created Plimoth Village.
The village was fantastic! All the costumed interpreters had British accents, and they were more than willing to explain their 17th century lives to us. They stayed completely in character and we learned so much from them. This was my first trip to Plymouth, and I wasn't sure what to expect, but I sure enjoyed this part of it and would recommend it to anyone who likes US History.
Despite the heat, they were boiling water to demonstrate how clothes were washed in 1620. The whites were layered in a tub along with wood ash, and then boiling water was poured over the whole thing. To dry the clothes, they wrung them out and then spread them on the lawn. Woolens were treated a bit differently- they weren't washed so much as they were brushed and beaten like rugs. The interpreters did a great job of impressing on the girls how different life was without all the modern conveniences.
After that, we drove to the coast to see the Mayflower II and Plymouth Rock.
Mayflower II was a cool ship. It has actually crossed the Atlantic, so it feels pretty authentic!
Finally, we saw the Alden House. John Alden and Priscilla Mullins met aboard the Mayflower and were married in Plymouth. They had 10 children. This house was occupied by their son Jonathan and his family, as well as other family members through the years. The two ladies standing outside the house are sisters- descendants of the Aldens. It was pretty cool to meet them. Apparently, there are quite a few famous people in the US who claim Alden ancestry- among them are Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, publisher Frank Nelson Doubleday, actors Marilyn Monroe, Jodie Foster and Orson Welles, dancer Martha Graham, Vice President Dan Quayle, and Senator Adlai Stevenson, to name a few.
(There were no photos allowed inside the house.)

As a final thought:

"The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of Thanksgiving."
- H.U. Westermayer

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Well, the snow came, but it didn't reach me. It just wasn't cold enough to bring the white stuff down to my lowly elevation. Bah humbug.

It's clearing tonight, and getting colder. No sign of snow in the 10-day forecast. Looks like I'll have to wait a bit longer.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tis the season.

It's coming.
The weather.
Not just any old weather.
The weather I love.
It's coming.
Or, so they say.
"They" being The Weather Channel.
Could be right.
Could be wrong.
It won't be enough to shovel.
But, it might be enough to entrance...

I'll let you know Saturday.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Practice makes perfect

We just got back from a 45 minute ride. It was wonderful. The sun is out, the temp is about 45 F, and there's very little wind.
Kiddo and I are getting pretty good at coordinating our riding. Tandems have been known to break relationships, so as the captain, I am being extra careful to communicate to my stoker about everything I am doing. It's weird because riding is second nature to me. I rarely even think about shifting gears, I just do it. I don't consciously plan to have the pedal up on the side I am turning to, I just do it. Riding with someone else requires me to call out the gear shifting, the bumps in the road, the placement of the pedals, etc. It isn't difficult, just odd. I'm very blessed to have a great stoker- she's very forgiving when I forget to tell her the little things.
This coordination, cooperation, and communication is good for us. We are both learning to give and take (and pedal like crazy if the light turns yellow!).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's here! It's here! My favorite day of the year!!!!

Fall back!!! Yay!!! An extra hour of sleep!!!
But, more importantly, we are going back to REAL time, not some trumped up, weirdo, makeshift, hey-let's-have-more-sunlight-so-no-one-can-sleep-in-the-summer, anti-God time. Yeah, you heard me. DST is anti-God.
God put this planet in exactly the right place in space. He set up the elliptical orbits and the correct tilt of the axis. Times, seasons, etc. are all his. How dare we just take the bull by the horns and decide we don't like what He gave us?
Changing our clocks twice a year... Sacrilege. Rebellion. Prideful.
I feel so much better now that we are on non-rebellious time. It's like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Like I've confessed and been forgiven.

Monday, October 31, 2011


I'm upstairs in the bedroom, hiding from the beggars. All the house lights are off, and the computer screen is dimmed. It's sort of a game I play every year at this time- to see if I can fool the neighbor kids into thinking I am not home so they don't ring my doorbell. So far, no ringers, but the night is yet young...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two kinds of PERFECT

I love fall. I love the start of school, the smell of new books, the look of changing leaves, the feel of the down comforter on the bed... ahhhhhh.
The thing I like most is the change in the weather. I love cooler days and downright cold nights.
In my opinion there are two kinds of PERFECT fall days here in the PNW.

The first kind of perfect usually occurs in October. The day starts a little foggy, but then the sun burns off the fog and shines brightly on the yellow, orange and red leaves. Set against a bright blue sky, the trees seem to glow from within. The sky is not your ordinary blue- it's deeper, more intense, almost closer than the sky in the summer. The blue assaults your retinas- contrasted with some of the oranges and yellows, it's almost painful. I love that.

The second kind of perfect fall day is pretty much the opposite of the first. Lowering gray skies, wind picking up, big drops of rain kind of perfect. These happen more often in November. I prefer this kind of perfect on a Saturday when I don't have to leave the house. This is the kind of day when it's ok to stay in your jammies or lounge pants, read a good book by the fire, and sip tea till the storm passes. And if it takes awhile for the storm to pass, then you can change it up by snuggling with your favorite daughter on the couch while watching a movie and munching popcorn. Yeah. I love that, too.

We came close to the first kind of perfect this week. Maybe next week we'll get the second kind of perfect. I've got my eye on the weather channel...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bike update

Well, we've been out on the bike almost every day this past week! The two exceptions were days when it was pouring out.

We did have one small mishap. The turning radius is huge on this thing, and I tried to turn too sharp while pedaling too slowly. Since it is a recumbent, we didn't have too far to fall so we just got up, dusted ourselves off, and rode home. Here's our conversation on the way:
Me- Well, we survived our first wreck pretty well!
Kiddo- FIRST? You mean there's going to be MORE?

She still likes it, and asks to go riding every day. It has been fun teaching her about gears and brakes and how to watch out for broken glass, road kill, or storm drain grates along the bike lanes. I'm getting more used to how a recumbent balances, but I don't know if I am completely sold on the style just yet.

It's predicted to be sunny for the next few days- perfect for more practicing!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One bad apple...

I opened the fridge this morning, and this is what I saw:

Never a dull moment in our house.

Oh, by the way- best caption wins a prize! You have until Friday, October 14 at 9:00pm.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Let there be light

This is one of the most innovative things I have ever seen. Watch and tell me what you think.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Big plan

Before I tell you what this big plan is, I need to give you the back story...

In 7th and 8th grade, while living in Farmers Branch, TX, I rode my bike to school daily.
1.6 miles each way. I don't remember if this was the 1-speed bike with the balloon tires, coaster brake, and banana seat, or if it was the new yellow 10-speed with the dropped handlebars and the rack on the back that I earned by getting good grades. I suspect it was a bit of both. I remember some winter days the cold wind made my eyes water- even when I wore a ski mask to keep warm.

While attending community college in my current town, I rode my bike to school daily.
2.3 miles each way. This was on my blue 10-speed Nishiki with the brown seat and brown handlebar tape, fenders, rack with panniers on the back, and a light on the front. We live in a hilly town- local readers will know exactly what I mean when I say I used to go bombing down St. James- hoping the light at 39th would stay green so I could use the momentum to get me up the next hill. (And so I wouldn't have to wear out my brakes!) Of course, coming back home the same route was a chore. It took me half of the first semester each year to get to where I actually rode up St. Johns, instead of getting off and walking the bike. The winter days never really had the biting cold of Texas, but the NW rain was always something to contend with. A dear lady at our church prayed that it would not rain while I was riding, and for two years it only sprinkled twice while I was on the road. It would rain before I left, while I was in classes, or after I got home, but there was almost always a window of time where I could ride dry.
It. Was. Awesome.

At WWU, I lived off campus and often rode my bike to school. 5.5 miles each way. This was also on my trusty blue Nishiki. I didn't ride every day- the weather in Bellingham is colder and wetter than here, and the hills are hillier.

There is a teacher at my school who rides to work every day. He doesn't even live in this town- he lives across the river! He's rather inspiring and it makes me think back on my bike commuting days.

Ok, here's the plan:
It's highly likely that next year, my daughter will attend the middle school where I teach.
Since I won't have to drop her off at day care in the morning, or pick her up from there in the evening... (do you see where I am going with this?) I thought it would be the perfect scenario for us to commute to school/work by bike!

Not like this:
She can't keep up with me, doesn't have gears on her bike, and isn't that good with the traffic rules yet.

Like this:
That's a tandem recumbent bike. It's a LWB (long wheel base- over 12 feet long!) with OSS (over seat steering). It has fenders and a rack on the back. I got it used on craigslist for an incredible price (cheaper than listed on the link. Had to pick it up in Port Townsend- there and back in one day. My mother was not amused.). Yesterday we got it from the shop after its tune-up, and gave it a test ride. It felt really weird. So much different from an upright bike! I suppose I could have gotten an upright tandem, but after about 30 minutes on my upright I get tingles in my hands and feet and it's just not the most comfortable sitting position (some folks call upright bikes "wedgies").

Ab loves this. She asked to go riding today- even in the mist. We both are having fun learning to balance, and we plan to ride some every day this fall and winter so we are ready next school year for the commute. Total distance is 5.5 miles one way. And- drum roll please- there are bike lanes or bike paths the whole way there- even over the freeway!

So, even in my advanced years (seven squared), I am ready for a new adventure.
Lord willing, if we do this, we will accomplish 4 things:
1 We'll have fun together.
2 We'll get more physically fit.
3 We'll have to avoid McD's drive through on the way home from school.
4 We'll $ave trip$ to the ga$ pump.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

THE TRIP- part 5

Finally- huh?
July 19 Philadelphia

I have toured east coast historical sites many times with students and with my daughter, but never made it to Philadelphia until this summer (during the heat wave).
Summer is not the best time to visit Philadelphia. The historical section of the city is ok, and somewhat tidy, but you venture outside of that and you get big city dirt and smells- all of which are accentuated by summer's heat.

One cause of city smells.

Independence Hall- there's scaffolding on part of the building because they are restoring it.

George Washington

The park rangers gave the girls workbooks to fill out and trading cards to collect throughout the day. It was fun and made them ask and answer good questions.

The room where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Next door- the room where John Adams was sworn in as President.

The Liberty Bell

They were asking the ranger about the crack in the bell.

Too bad Ben's house no longer exists. His grandkids didn't want the upkeep...

There's just a "ghost structure"- based on drawings, blueprints, and footprint of the foundation.

When we finished the historic stuff, the girls showed the ranger their completed books and their trading cards. They received badges to commemorate their achievements, and then we headed a few blocks south to get some treats.
It was about 98 degrees outside with about 98% humidity.

During our walk, the surroundings changed from tidy historic sites to smelly, unkept, littered urbanscapes. I'm glad we didn't venture too far into the 'hood...

I had heard about this place on Food TV. Guy Fieri, Mark Summers, and Duff Goldman all raved about the ice cream concoctions at the Franklin Fountain. I figured three stout men couldn't be wrong, so I mapped it and discovered it was a few blocks from the historic sites. We oozed our way down the heat blasted streets and found they were right-
this is old fashioned ice cream nirvana.
Abs is deciding on a root beet float, while I order the Franklin Mint-
here's how they describe it:
"MINT CHIP and VANILLA ice creams striped in chocolate syrup,
FLUFFY MARSHMALLOW glaze and Crème de Menthe finished with home-made whipped cream and a mint green maraschino cherry."
Drool, drool drool...

Finished- wow!

I shared it with Ab.
We had to eat it fast, or it would became ice cream soup in the heat of the day.

After she finished her float, we walked back to the car, paid the Philadelphians an arm and a leg for the privilege of parking in their fair city, and drove to Providence, Rhode Island for night.

We had originally planned to visit Valley Forge, but because of the energy sapping heat and the long drive ahead of us, we took it out of the itinerary. Gotta roll with the punches. Next time, though... next time.