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Liana's Lifetime

Last Build Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2018 16:15:48 +0000


Morton Salt Girl Costume

Sat, 22 Jan 2011 22:51:00 +0000

This costume was years in the making.  I originally made and wore it myself in the late 1990's (1997?).  Bought a big yellow dress at Goodwill and cut it down to make this: My task for Halloween 2009 was to cut it down to size for my then 7 year old daughter.  I took off the sleeves and the skirt portion, hoisted them up a bit and reattached them.  Brought the waist in a bit and added better pleating to the skirt.For the salt can, we took a potato flake can and covered it with an enlarged photocopy of the actual label.  Added a spout to the bottom with trailing sparkly ribbons, and a handle on top to carry it as a trick or treat candy holder. In 2009 she tried it on and my husband took a couple photos.  Of course, she's holding the can the wrong way. And then she got a fever for Halloween and wasn't able to go trick or treating.  The costume got put away for a year.  I insisted she wear it the following year because we had put so much work into it, I felt like it needed it's Halloween in the spotlight it deserved. Fast forward to 2010.  She's grown a bit and now it fits even better.  We entered her in the Bend Bulletin costume contest, so she got her photo in the newspaper (but no prize, oh well).  She wore the costume trick or treating and it was a wild success! (We later re-did the left shoe, I had run out of tape for this photo.) [...]

Promotion Celebration

Sat, 22 Jan 2011 22:34:00 +0000

Finally a new post eh?  I must have totally skipped over my annual Halloween costume-making entry.  I'll try to do that one next.

But first, this last week I got a promotion at work.  The change in title isn't that exciting (going from "Document Control Administrator 3" to "QA Auditor 2"), but what is great is that I changed from an hourly to a salaried employee.  I never thought it would be that difficult to achieve, but apparently there are a multitude of reasons that at my company it is a huge undertaking.  (All other companies I have worked at where I performed the same duties, the position was a salaried one.)  In any case, we went out last night to celebrate.

We got dressed up, even though my daughter didn't want to.  She claims that getting dressed up makes her feel like we are rich, and that is embarassing.  I explained to her that since most of our clothing comes from Goodwill, E-Bay and garage sales, it certainly doesn't support our being "rich", and also if someone is going to judge us on our appearance, that is their problem not ours.

We went to "Blacksmith" for dinner, a swanky downtown steak and pricey comfort-food restaurant.  The drink I started with was a "Sum Yung Gai" which combines coconut rum with pepper vodka, ginger and lime to taste like a red curry dish.  It was very good, and a nice departure from the drink I usually order there, the Bubblegum Lemondrop (made with Dubble Bubble-infused vodka).  V wanted mussels as an appetizer and we tore through those.  However, things started going downhill from there.  The waitress brought our salads immediately after the app, so the table was suddenly crowded, and when our steaks arrived, they were lukewarm.  Tasted okay, but definitely not hot enough.  V had the mac and cheese "flight" with 3 different types (truffle, original smoked, and bacon).  They were good except the teacups they were served in had at least a centimeter of breadcrumbs on top (a tad excessive).  The beers we ordered with dinner arrived when we were almost done eating, and had a head on them 3 inches deep.

We skipped dessert there and instead went to 10 Below, the restaurant at the Oxford Hotel.  I had my old standby, trio of panna cotta, which didn't thrill me as it had in the past but was still the best option for me on the menu.  (I'm not a big fan of chocolate.)   In retrospect I probably should have had the creme brulee.  I did get to try absinthe for the first time, but didn't see what all the hype was about.  A lot of work for something that tastes like sambuca.

Cascade Winds Symphonic

Mon, 08 Mar 2010 03:42:00 +0000

You know that feeling you get when you are in a remote wilderness that is so beautiful you wish you could experience it with your good friends? Or when you are in a touristy city and find a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with the best food you have ever had? You feel like you have stumbled into a gold mine and just can't wait to talk about it. That's how I feel each time I see the Cascade Winds Symphonic perform.

I don't remember my first experience seeing them, but it was about 4 years ago. They perform 3 times a year, during the "school year" and I have missed only a couple performances since then. What I still can't believe is that there are any open seats. Unlike the Central Oregon Symphony, which performs three performances at the Bend High auditorium to a consistently packed house (based on the Sunday afternoon performances I attend), the Cascade Winds Symphonic performs at the smaller, yet more comfortable, Summit High theater for one performance only. And the crowd is about 70% capacity, regardless of the weather.

The kicker is that these performances are absolutely free. Donations are, of course, welcomed and definitely needed, but you can walk in the door, have a seat and enjoy the music free of charge if you like. (The donations are used to help the performers defray the cost *to them* to participate. Can you believe they would have to pay to entertain us?) The quality of the concerts is comparable to anything you would see in a symphony hall in a big city. These musicians are energetic, personable, and out there socializing with the audience during the intermission snack breaks (which are also free, but donation-based). The people of Bend don't know what a treasure we have in these symphony opportunities.

I am not a musician, but I enjoy learning about music. When I was a child, I had a record album called "Children's Introduction to Good Music" which walked through the entire symphony and told the difference between all the instruments and what they sounded like. When my daughter got to the age where she could sit through a performance, I was determined to expose her to the symphony. The Bend symphonies made that possible. Granted, she still falls asleep during them once in a while, but I can tell it is opening her eyes to music, composers, instruments; teaching her not to clap between movements of a piece; and causing her to ask why there are percussion instruments in a wind symphony. I encourage anyone with children to attend these performances. For the most part, the audience is tolerant of children who might be restless, kids love the snack time, and you can always get up and leave knowing you aren't out a pocket-full of dollars for the limited experience.

As a starter, I recommend the Cascade Winds Symphonic over the Central Oregon Symphony for the following reasons: the Summit theater chairs are more comfortable, the venue is smaller and easier to navigate with kids (more leg room), the music is generally more upbeat (keeps kids attention), and there are no tickets required. (The Central Oregon Symphony requires tickets, but they are free at many locations.)

Check out the websites for more information and upcoming concerts. You'll be glad you did, and amazed that this caliber of performance has been here all along, just waiting to be experienced.

An Olympic Caliber Birthday

Tue, 23 Feb 2010 03:59:00 +0000

We normally downplay V's even-numbered birthdays, but because this year was an Olympic year, I just couldn't resist. I figured that by the time she is turning 12 she won't be as excited about a themed party so I'd better celebrate it now. We invited three girls from her school for a slumber party and two of them accepted. The plan was to award "medals" for a "make your own pizza" competition, so I made each girl an Olympic medal out of Fimo, with the Olympic rings on one side and something that resembled a pizza on the other. The cake was chocolate with peanut butter cream cheese filling, decorated with fondant. The first cake attempt didn't come out of the pan, but I saved it anyway and used it as the base layer. Even though the corners were crumbling, the fondant does a pretty good job of covering it up. I didn't have enough white fondant to cover the entire cake, so on the long edges I rolled red, white and blue strips together to make stripes. I made a bunch of international flags on labels and wrapped them around toothpicks. I used extra ribbon from the medals to make bows to cover up the seams on the top edges. It matched the long edges so I think it looked like I planned it that way.We actually ate this cake with the neighbors the day before her birthday at our monthly "game night". The cake the girls ate was a Ben & Jerry's ice cream cake decorated similarly.The girls made their own pizzas for dinner, I quizzed them on their knowledge of Winter Olympic sports, then we watched "Cool Runnings", the story of the Jamaican Bobsled Team. They seemed to really enjoy themselves and it was a nice mellow party.[...]

Friends, Romans, Countrymen...

Fri, 08 May 2009 20:30:00 +0000

V's 7th birthday earlier this year was a real Roman feast! Following up the Ancient Egypt 5th birthday 2 years ago, the 7th birthday was an Ancient Roman Goddess party. The idea arose when I showed V how to translate the inscription on the Statue of Liberty's tablet from roman numerals, and also somewhat from our trip to Italy last year. I ran with the idea. V, who didn't have a 6th birthday party, was suitably excited, but did take the opportunity to ask why her parties have themes. (And by that she wasn't referring to plates and cups with Spongebob on them. She meant why is there library research involved, and why do I make costumes and plan thematic games.) I asked her, "How many of your friends' birthday parties do you return from with a complete costume, and having learned something about history?" I think she understood. Our library research included a kid's version of "Julius Caesar", books about Ancient Rome and the Coliseum, and Roman myths. V's birthday (mid-February) is nicely timed so after the Christmas and New Years activity, we can pick a theme in early January and have time to buy related items on E-Bay. This year it was Roman God/Goddess bookmarks for the girls to color while guests arrived, Roman Numeral dice for the goody bags, a Roman Numeral placemat, Roman Numeral candles, and crown supplies. More on the crowns later. For costumes, I made 10 little togas out of white sheets from Goodwill and estate sales. I ended up having enough sheets for my own toga, and for my husband and dad to fashion their own costumes. The togas were trimmed with gold ribbon. The party was on the Friday of a week-long company shutdown, so I had plenty of time to spend on the sewing machine. I envisioned gold and silver leafy crowns, but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for in my price range, so I bought gold and silver leaves (like the ones used for corsages) with wired stems, and made my own by twisting them around metallic pipe-cleaners. The cake was an endeavor in itself. I knew it would be a Coliseum cake, and borrowed a tube pan from a neighbor to get the desired shape. I found a recipe for Lemon Grove cake (like a pound cake) in my California Heritage Continues cookbook. At Michael's craft store, I bought a package of fondant containing 4 colors (light flesh tone, tan, dark brown and black), and brown frosting tint. I made buttercream frosting and tinted it brown. The fondant was very easy to work with and by mixing the colors, I had enough to cover the outside of the cake plus extra. I cut out sections with a knife and vegetable peeler to make the windows, and applied it to the buttercream, then added details. Games were "Roman Numeral Bingo" and "Pin the Rome on the Italy". For Bingo, we used regular cards but I printed the numbers 1-75 in roman numerals on slips of paper. When I drew one out, I wrote the numerals on a big pad of paper and the girls had to help me decipher the number before they could mark it on their card. The winner got a Roman Numeral placemat. "Pin the Rome on the Italy" used a wall map of Europe, a blindfold, and labels with the girls names. Spin them around 3 times and let them at it. Food was an appetizer platter of grapes and cheese cubes (smokey cheddar and havarti), followed by Chicken Caesar salad. The best part was the salad dressing, which I special ordered from our local organic grocer. They don't normally sell it, but they make it for their Chicken Caesar wraps and it is out of this world. Goody bags included a Roman Numeral dice and scrapbook stickers of Italian landmarks. In the thank-you notes, we included a picture of the girls in their costumes as a memento. All in all a terrific party...and we all learned something! [...]

Handmade catnip mouse

Fri, 10 Apr 2009 05:16:00 +0000

(image) I won this mouse for being the 7000th visitor to a wonderful blog. Here is my happy cat, Red, testing it out.

What breed of liberal am I?

Wed, 18 Feb 2009 05:32:00 +0000

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Peace Patroller, also known as an anti-war liberal or neo-hippie. You believe in putting an end to American imperial conquest, stopping wars that have already been lost, and supporting our troops by bringing them home.

9 More Things About Me

Thu, 05 Feb 2009 04:38:00 +0000

I have already filled out a list of "XVI Things About Me" on Facebook, but have since been tagged by others at least twice for "25 Things About Me". So I will append my previous list with 9 more items to satisfy that requirement....and I'll tag 9 more people on Facebook. RULES: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you. 17. I have a chronically runny nose, every day of the year. Maybe I am allergic to something totally basic that I am around every day, but I have never seen an allergist. Instead I keep rolls of toilet paper in my car, office, and in every room of the house (I installed a toilet paper holder in the kitchen next to the paper towel holder). I also keep wads of toilet paper in almost every jacket pocket and purse/handbag/backpack. I will inevitably forget one of them when something goes through the laundry and find little bits of it in the dryer lint screen. (I use toilet paper to blow my nose because I find it more absorbent and cheaper, and the size of a toilet paper square is exactly the right size for a little sniffle, so I'm not wasting the extra real estate of an entire Kleenex. And when you blow your nose as often as I do, the cost savings add up quickly.) 18. When I need something, my order of locating an item is usually this: Freecycle (because you can't beat *free*), CraigsList, EBay, Goodwill, Garage/Estate Sales, retail store. I rarely pay retail for anything. I shop this way for clothing, furniture (I got my dining room set on EBay and had it shipped from Kansas), linens, toys, music, electronics, razor blades (for my head and leg-shaving husband) and vacuum cleaner bags. I do not shop at Wal-Mart. 19. I love to cook and find most of my recipes on the Epicurious website. Very rarely do I ever make the same recipe twice, however. 20. I believe kids need to be exposed to a food over and over again before they can really make a true determination whether they like it or not. I always make my daughter take "taster bites" of everything on her plate for that reason. I think that's why she was begging me to make brussels sprouts the other day. 21. All of my major childhood injuries resulted from jumping on a bed or riding a bicycle. 22. I have the last 5 years of my daughter's artwork plastered all over my office walls at work. 23. I was on yearbook staff in elementary school and high school. I reflect on that experience when I am scrapbooking today. 24. The tips of my fingers go numb and turn white at temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. My nose feels cold below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. My comfort zone is 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit. 25. My job involves Quality Assurance at an ISO 9001 certified company. I sometimes find myself evaluating my life in terms of continuous improvement, corrective actions, and supplier quality.

Best Meals of 2008

Sun, 28 Dec 2008 19:12:00 +0000

We enjoyed a particularly culinary year in 2008, mainly contributed to by our trip to Europe in June/July. This is a summary of the more memorable ones: 1. Homemade pizza, 2/10/08: P made the whole wheat pizza dough before he left for Salem and V and I made the pizza that evening. Pesto based with cheese, mushrooms and olives. 2. Thanksgiving in Spring, 5/9/08: Our 9th Annual TIS (or Ix for the Dune fans). Somehow we overestimated the number of guests attending and had a tad too much food (we made 2 turkeys and a ham), but a wonderful celebration with delicious dishes provided by everyone. Particular standouts were Lois' cheesy potato torte and Dave's Rhubarb Raspberry pie. 3. Every meal on our travels in Germany, Switzerland and Italy: We have many great pictures of the food, and only 3 of our family together. V was pouty about (name anything - she had some attitude issues in the early part of the trip) and somehow still managed to be disapppointed when this pear and ice cream sundae arrived during our dinner in Messkirch, Germany. She warmed up to it after tasting it. At this restaurant in Barolo, the waiter didn't bring us a menu when we asked for one, but instead started bringing out various small plates of food. We ended up with about 10 different dishes, some great wine, and a memorable meal. After our menu-less adventure in Barolo, I handled the ordering at this small side-street restaurant in La Morra the next day for lunch. We had a lovely chilled Moscato with meaty and cheese sandwiches and a buffalo mozzarella tomato salad. V enjoyed a white-chocolate and coffee popcicle for dessert. No pouting there. We arrived in the small town of Collodi, Italy, the evening before we planned to visit Pinocchio Park and Gardoni Garden (Carlo Collodi is the author of Pinocchio). For dinner we walked from our mini-RV overnight camping location in the Pinocchio Park parking lot to a restaurant on the Piazza della Vittoria to hang with locals watching the EuroCup final between Spain and Germany. V drew on the placemat and we ordered an appetizer sampler, meat plate, cheese pizza and bruchetta. The owner gave us a bottle of Chianti to take on our travels. (see next photo) The next day, we parked the RV at our campground in Fiesole (in the hills outside Florence). After a dip in the pool, I strolled to a small market in "downtown" Fiesole to buy meat, cheese and bread to accompany the Chianti. We ate in the RV and drank wine out of coffee cups. The next day in Florence, we had another great meal at Trattoria La Casalinga. A carafe of the house red, spectacular pesto that V couldn't get enough of, ravioli and tomato salad. Fortunately V took a picture of the restaurant sign when we let her loose with the camera to keep her from complaining about being bored at the table. We met P's friend Aldo for a terrific Florentine meal with lots of wine, good conversation and a bottle of limoncello and cigars provided by the restaurant owner (or just a hook-up by Aldo - my mind started to get fuzzy around that point). In Parma, Italy we had a nice meal at Croce Di Malta, down a side-street outside an old church. We just ordered randomly from the menu and got adventurous. The dish behind the wine bottle was Vitello Tonnato (cold sliced veal with tuna sauce). Everything was wonderful. Everywhere we went, every day (sometimes twice a day) we treated ourselves to gelato. You could hardly avoid it, especially with a 6-year old travelling with you. We were constantly being reminded of the availability of it, and of any promises that had been made regarding its purchase. Early in the morning in Parma, we took a free tour of a parmesano-reggiano factory. The tour was fantastic, starting with the arrival of the morning milk and walking us through every step of the process while it was taking place. Pl[...]

A Diplomatic Mission

Sun, 02 Nov 2008 06:16:00 +0000

This year V finally decided she wanted to be Princess Leia for Halloween. For a while she wanted to be a vampire, then a werewolf. I began encouraging the Princess Leia idea (she *is* one of the stronger princesses, after all) when I noticed the noise supression headphones on the workbench in the garage and it all came together. We started with a dress from Goodwill for $6.99. Plus some white pleather and silver metallic looking fabric for the belt, and some brown fuzzy material for the "hair" (another $6). (image) I ripped off the purple and silver sequin stuff from the dress, disassembled the chest area, and took off the sleeves. (image) Then I sewed pleats into the neckline to give it a gathered appearance, because this dress material wasn't as billowy as the real dress in the movie. I slimmed down the sleeves and re-attached them. Then cut about 8 inches off the length and hemmed it up. The belt was cardboard covered with white pleather hot-glued on. The "medallions" were also cardboard covered with metallic fabric. We had a problem after hot-gluing the medallions to the pleather, as they had a tendency to pop off with the slightest tug. I ended up Krazy-gluing them on as they fell off. (image)

(image) I made circles of the brown fabric and sewed elastic around the edge to slip them over the headphones, then made a fabric sleeve for the top of the headphones.

V wore a white turtleneck underneath to complete the look, and she was ready to go!(image)

Al Phillips Mirror Pond - 3 Strikes

Wed, 22 Oct 2008 03:11:00 +0000

When I moved to Bend in 1999, I thought Al Phillips Dry Cleaners was a great place. Bright and clean, right downtown, good customer service, *and* free Tootsie rolls! Since that time, they have wronged me three times, with the third time being today. Each time I say I'm never going back there again. This time I (likely) mean it. The first strike was in 2000 after my wedding. I had a long ivory-colored satin and velvet wrap that got blue paint on it while I was trying to clean off my car post-reception. (Some jokers decided to deface my newly-detailed car with silly string, glow-in-the-dark stars and paint.) Al Phillips attempted to clean it, and used some sort of solvent that not only did not remove the paint, but stained the wrap with huge rust-colored splotches. A couple years later, they lost a pair of my pants. Today, I picked up 10 of my husband's button-down dress shirts, which I had taken in last week with a 5 for $5.99 coupon. The total was $30 for the 10 shirts. I was told that I could not use the coupon because the shirts were *not* dress shirts because they have *french-cuffs*. I was never aware that french-cuff shirts cost any more to launder, but they were firm in their denial of my coupon although nowhere on the coupon does it say anything about french-cuffs. I should mention that we have always used that same coupon in the past for french-cuffs with no problem, and one of the shirts required dry-cleaning ($5.95) rather than laundering because of the type of design on the fabric, hence the $30 total. I still found their rejection of the coupon unreasonable and I am going to try to locate another provider of this service. Barring that, I'm going to start laundering, ironing and starching them myself.

BendFilm: ReelKids Reel-y Inappropriate

Mon, 13 Oct 2008 05:29:00 +0000

First, I'll say that I am a big fan of BendFilm and independent film in general. The film festival in general has always been a highlight of my year. I take in at least 5 films at each festival, and every year I take my daughter to see the kids' program. It was previously called "IndieKids" but this year it was called "ReelKids". That should have been a signal to me, in retrospect. The ReelKids program today was completely inappropriate for my 6-year old daughter. I have taken her the last 3 years and have always been comfortable with the content of the program. It has included a variety of live-action and animated films from the US and other countries; some with dialogue, some without; all made *for* kids, some made *by* kids. This year there were multiple times I felt totally uncomfortable. In the first 4 films, characters were smoking cigarettes. In one animated film a young boy is flipping channels on a television and sees a mostly naked skeletal drug addict, a "girls gone wild"-type censored scene, and other death/destruction type material which causes him to run out of the house and jump off a cliff. The only redeeming thing is that he "somehow" lands on the moon and sails off into the universe. Another film portrayed a domineering wife demanding her husband fire a penguin from their bird zoo because his act doesn't bring in enough money. Multiple times throughout the movie she torments her husband by telling him he's not "man enough" if he can't tell the penguin he's fired, and promises him special "favors" if he obeys her. Later in the film the manipulative wife is being humiliated in front of a crowd of onlookers and they all laugh at her. The entry that frightened the kids the most was about a ghost that haunts a historic Spanish house where a young boy's parents want to open a Mexican restaurant. This film also included the words "crap" and "stupid" multiple times. And the final insult was the last film. A teenage boy is walking down the sidewalk and sees a plastic grocery bag and *puts it over his head* and falls down on the sidewalk suffocating. Another teenage boy emerges from a house across the street, sees "bag boy" and investigates. Bag Boy jumps up and chases him back into his house, with the bag still on his head, until he corners him in the bathroom. The scared boy pulls the bag off the head of Bag Boy, and he is suddenly "free" and happy and runs out of the house. I can't even tell you what the message was of this film, but I don't need to be walking out of a theater reminding my 6-year old that you don't ever put plastic bags over your head...ever. And that's just the inappropriate stuff I recall from this morning. I will be writing letter to BendFilm organizers explaining my position. I recommend any other parent that attended this showing with their child(ren) and was equally uncomfortable do the same. Let's not have a program like this shown again next year.

Cooking Challenges

Sun, 21 Sep 2008 20:25:00 +0000

I'm not an Iron Chef by any means, but I love cooking, and I love cooking even more when I have an ingredient I must use, or a theme I must adhere to. Subscribing to the Groundwork Organics veggie box in the Summer motivates me to make recipes that I wouldn't normally discover. "What can I make with red chard and cherry tomatoes?" "What am I going to do with fennel, red onion and mini lettuce leaves?" Cooking under the pressure of vegetables spending their precious shelf life in my refrigerator is what gets me going. Right now it's artichokes, rainbow chard, yellow and orange bell peppers and spinach. A co-worker of mine and his wife have started hosting Monday Night Football each week. The best part (besides the company, their cool pets, and the fun my daughter has with his daughter) is that each week has a theme. For chicken wing week, I made a Hoisin-5 Spice variety. For last week's bratwurst theme I made German Potato Salad. For tomorrow's nacho theme, I'm planning some sort of refried pinto bean dish. Time to research recipes!

September Update (what happened to August?)

Wed, 10 Sep 2008 05:01:00 +0000

I had to read someone else's blog on mentioning they hadn't picked up their own mail in days to realize I hadn't either. For some reason not having my own vehicle accessible affects the flow of my life to an inappropriate degree. It's not a hardship by any means, but I just don't do the things I would freely do otherwise. Like visit a grocery store to buy a chicken so I can make chicken stock before the carrots and celery in my fridge self-compost. Today was the first day the school bus stopped right at the intersection to our cul-de-sac. And V's 2nd time riding the bus. This new bus stop makes it much more convenient for the 14 or so kids in this neighborhood. V came home from school with a story to tell me during bathtime. Her class had a substitute teacher today that attended St. Francis Catholic School (before it was a McMenamins) and one day during recess he and a friend saw a cat on the playground, took it to music class, and hid the cat in the piano. When he confessed to it, the nun gave him 2 raps on each hand with a ruler. V must have been enthralled with the story to remember the details. I figured P would enjoy that story, having attended Catholic school for 12 years, so I had her call him to share it. Currently reading: Three Cups of Tea Cooking adventures in the last three weeks: Smoked salmon stuffed anaheim peppers; Bruschetta with peppers, onions and pesto; Leek and fennel chowder with smoked salmon; Tandoori chicken bites with cucumber dip; Babaghanouj; 2 batches of popcorn (stovetop); 2 batches of yogurt; Hoisin 5-Spice chicken wings; Lentil salad with tomatoes and dill; Braised cabbage with apple; Banana maple ice cream with candied walnuts; Char-grilled beef tenderloin with 3-herb chimmichurri; and Beet Risotto.

July Update

Tue, 29 Jul 2008 05:27:00 +0000

The family trip to Europe earlier this Summer was terrific. Hopefully I will post about that sometime in the future. After our return, P hooked up our Digital Converter boxes to the 2 televisions (Don't tell me I'm living in the dark ages). I had no idea the number of channels we receive would triple, and also be crystal clear! The best part are the 5, count'em 5, OPB channels. One is called Create, and is non-stop cooking and arts/crafts shows. Recent borrows from the public library include: Flight of the Conchords: The Complete First Season, American Psycho, Rock Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, and The Greatest Show On Earth. Books I'm currently reading: Under the Tuscan Sun, and The Agony and the Ecstasy. Books V is currently reading: The Narnia Chronicles (I think she's on book 3 now?) Coming up next week: Our annual trip to the Nevada County Fair in Grass Valley, California.

Garage Sale Day

Sun, 08 Jun 2008 02:39:00 +0000

And by "Garage Sale Day" I don't mean that I attended them - that is a far more regular occurrence - I mean that I held one, along with many of my neighbors. Even though I felt that I didn't have that much stuff (once it was all spread out), I still cleared $130.35, which is the lowest of the three years since I've tracked it, but still respectable. After we all cleared our sales, the neighbors convened in the cul-de-sac for a potluck BBQ reminiscent of our July 4 tradition. My contribution to the potluck was a combination of items I had handy in the house - mandarin oranges, sour cream, pineapple, coconut, and mini-marshmallows. It wasn't my mom's ambrosia recipe, but edible nonetheless. Meanwhile, the neighbor kids experimented with a magnifying glass and dry pine needles on the sidewalk, eventually creating a small fire ringed by rocks, which they somewhat successfully toasted marshmallows on. At first I thought this whole project was not a good idea, but there was adequate supervision, water on hand, and after watching them fumble with bamboo skewers and mini-marshmallows, I ended up supplying them with metal skewers and large mallers. The fire was out and cleaned up shortly thereafter, and now I can relax with that dry warm feeling of being in the sun all day.

Snow in Retrospect

Wed, 13 Feb 2008 05:27:00 +0000

Now that the bulk of the commute-hindering snow is melting away to nothingness, I can look back at it and appreciate its beauty more fully. Here are a few pics: Shoes added for scale:(image) My shoveling helper: (image) My shoveling helper turns six years old tomorrow. She sleepily mumbled yesterday morning that "people will still think I'm seven".

Wisdom of a 5-year old

Sat, 03 Nov 2007 05:41:00 +0000

A portion of conversation between V and a neighbor boy that was over tonight: They are making a fort with a blanket draped over various chairs and an ottoman. To keep the blanket from drooping in the middle, V puts weighty items on top of some chairs to hold the blanket in place. Neighbor boy (J) wonders why she leaves one chair empty. V tries to explain to him that the blanket was not sliding off that chair so therefore there was no need. He tests her statement himself and finds she is correct. J: "Oh, there's something holding it down, down down." V: "Yeah...gravity."

Ira Glass and This American Life

Sat, 03 Nov 2007 05:18:00 +0000

I am now officially addicted to "This American Life" on NPR. Actually don't listen to it on NPR (I think it's on Sunday afternoons?). What I am addicted to is listening to archived episodes from their website while I am working. Earlier this week, I was flipping through the huge repository of music files my company IT dude keeps out there "on the G drive". I discovered 8 files of "This American Life" and was enthralled all day with stories of the Little Mermaid voice mail message, the policemen and the squirrel, Music Lessons, and something witty by David Sedaris (per his usual). I had to crank up the volume so I could hear it over the photocopier, and not miss a single line. The remaining days this week I went to their website and started at the top of their "Favorites" list, listening to about 5 hours of shows each day. These stories have a way of sticking with you long after you listen to them. They are food for thought, an expansion of a viewpoint, an mini-education you would not normally receive, narrated by Ira Glass, whose voice can soothe me through any stress, with sound bytes and interviews with everyday people. Some of them cause my eyes to get dewy, some make me laugh out loud (I had only one co-worker walk in while I was laughing and wonder why. Unfortunately it was something vulgar that David Sedaris had said and I could not elaborate.), and all make me wish I was listening alongside another person so we could discuss the shows. Because I don't have an office-mate, however, I did discuss one of the more child-friendly topics with V, because I knew she could relate. From the "Cruelty of Children" episode:
Author and kindergarten teacher (and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient) Vivian Paley tells the story of an experiment she conducted in her classroom to make children less cruel to each other. She instituted a rule: "You can't say 'You can't play.'" In other words, if two children are playing, and a third child comes over and wants to join them, they can't tell him or her to get lost. They can't reject him or her. This is the cause of unending pain in most classrooms and playgrounds. The experiment was a remarkable and immediate success.
So now I am interested in reading Vivian Paley's book regarding this experiment. V acted as though it made total sense when I explained it to her.

In other news...

Fri, 02 Nov 2007 04:50:00 +0000

Recent happenings in no particular order:
  • V's first trip to horse races at Bay Meadows.
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  • I place 2nd in my company pumpkin carving contest.
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  • I get to Zachary's in Santa Cruz for Mike's Mess (with Oatmeal Molasses toast, of course).
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    Strongest Girl in the World

    Fri, 02 Nov 2007 04:44:00 +0000

    This Halloween, for the first time since 2001, I didn't have to sew anything. Not that I *purchased* one pre-made, but one came together thanks to a helpful neighbor. This year V wanted to be Pippi Longstocking. She got to dress up twice: once for the school Fall Festival on Friday, and once for trick-or-treating. Similar to last year, the costume did need to be washed on Halloween day to be ready in time, but not because she was ill, only because I didn't get a chance to wash it until then.

    You Never Forget How

    Wed, 11 Jul 2007 20:27:00 +0000

    I've ridden my bicycle more already this year than in probably the last 10 to 15 years. I am a bicyclist of convenience, and until this year it was not convenient. First, I have a Specialized Rock Hopper that I received as a gift in approximately 1995. The big knobby tires had seen so little use, the tiny rubber strings were still on the sides of the tires 10 years later. Riding to work on streets with these tires was labor-intensive, despite it being only 1.7 miles away. Plus, my helmet was outdated and looked like a big eggshell on top of my head. This year two things changed. First, my husband changed the off-road tires to smooth road tires. Hills I used to labor up are now a breeze. Second, I hit the jackpot at a garage sale where some bike afficionados or store owners were getting rid of inventory. I got a sweet new helmet, two bike pumps, and a headlight and taillight. This year my company participated in Commute Options week and I went 5 for 5, riding my bike every day, and even winning two of the daily drawings for prizes! I feel like a new person. Essentially, riding my bike makes me feel younger. That is why I don't desire to invest in serious cycling attire. I want to hop on my bike wearing regular street clothes and shoes and ride away. Just like I did when I was a kid, riding my bike to the marina or the ice cream parlor at the drop of a hat. No shoe clips or lycra for me. Here's hoping I ride so much these tires wear out before the next 10 years!

    Summer TV

    Thu, 28 Jun 2007 03:02:00 +0000

    I don't know why I expect to have much to say on this topic since I only get two channels, but I love this time of year on TV. Maybe I should say this time of year on NBC. When I was a kid (late 70's-early 80's), I thought that Summertime was reserved for reruns. During the "season" it was all new shows, and then at some point, which I think coincided with the end of the school year, they started from the beginning and showed the season all over again. Now it seems much more complicated with shows replacing shows mid-season and reserving all the "good stuff" for sweeps week, etc. I don't understand it at all. Except that during the Summer we get new stuff of different shows. Like "Last Comic Standing" and variations of dating shows ("Average Joe", "Age of Love"). "Last Comic Standing" and "America's Got Talent" are two that I easily get sucked into. During the regular season, I also get into "Biggest Loser" and "The Apprentice", and of course the Thursday night lineup of "The Office", "30 Rock" and, to a lesser degree, "ER". I love "My Name is Earl" as well, but V doesn't go to bed in time for me to catch it. Something I do miss is on the other channel I get, public television. They used to show these series where a group of people live in a house together in a different "era". Sort of like "The Real World" meets "The Time Machine": "Manor House", "Colonial House", "Texas Ranch House", "Frontier House". Those were fantastic shows. When I have the opportunity to see cable television, I pretty much only watch "The Food Network". Not only do I like the shows, but it's the only channel that I know I will not show something my daughter should not see. No questionable language, no pushy commercials aimed at children, no scantily clad women. Just food and how to prepare it. The rest of the time, I consider TV mostly a waste of time. I get news and information from the internet, watch "The Daily Show" on the Comedy Central website, show V my favorite clips from "The Electric Company" on YouTube, and rent movies from the local independent film library or the public library. (object) (embed)

    VOCs of home

    Tue, 15 May 2007 02:41:00 +0000

    This evening I planned to have V paint our house address numbers to match our trim, and only 1.5 years after we changed our house color to tan, thus rendering them invisible. We took them off the siding yesterday, just in time to confuse the people coming over to pick up stuff from Freecycle. ("Remember, the address is 1107, but we're the house *without* the numbers.") Anyway, V's body decided it would rather run a fever. So she's in bed obscenely early, and happy about it. She even voted herself into a short bath, which she never wants. So I get to relax with the Mexican Wedding Cookies I bought from the Women's Rollerderby Bake Sale on Saturday. (They were too good to pass up, being my favorite cookie, *and* rolled to my car by two flashy women on skates.) And post some stuff on E-Bay, and periodically check in on the San Jose City Hall Peregrine Falcons. In other news, I received the Summer 2007 Philatelic catalog from the U.S. Postal Service and was surprised to find a new addition to this year's stamp releases which was not originally publicized in the 2007 collection: Star Wars. Still think my favorite of the year will be Pollinators. V's dance recital is coming up on June 16. The theme, much to my chagrin, is Disney. Boy, I love them Disney productions, don'tcha know. Her class is performing a dance dressed like newspaper deliverers ala "Newsies". Pinstriped knickers and ties, black flat caps and red leotards. Their song is by "Squirrel Nut Zippers". Could be much worse, considering the alternatives. And the topic I originally named this post for, the Volatile Organic Compounds of home. I realized recently that I love this time of year not only for the tangible appearance of sunshine, but also the aromas that begin emanating from the inanimate objects in the house when the temperature rises above 75 degrees. When I can walk in the door and am instantly hit by the smell of *my* house. All the vapors in the air melding into something so familiar, so homey and comfortable, that you only notice it within the first few seconds of opening the door from the outside. Also coming up: hosting Bunco this week, hosting a Pampered Chef party next week, and then front-row tickets to see the Killers in concert!

    5th Birthday Party

    Sun, 25 Feb 2007 03:29:00 +0000

    V's 5th birthday was a great success. A month before the party, we had been (for some reason I can't recall) talking about the sphinx and pyramids in Egypt. I decided shortly after that to have V's party with an Egyptian theme. We checked out books from the library to keep her interested and found some great museum websites with ancient egyptian games she could play online. I'm not the type to fork out cash to reserve a party room or take a group of kids on an "outing" so we had it at home, and V was allowed to invite 9 people (turned out to be all girls) because we have a 10-person dining room table. One was not able to attend. This was the first real party where we welcomed gifts. Previous years we specified "no gifts please" when we were gathering at a coffee shop or for a play group to celebrate her birthday. Recently I figured that if she didn't receive gifts in a party setting, she wouldn't be able to practice being thankful and gracious. She did a fantastic job and thanked and hugged each girl before moving on to the next gift. She even handwrote her own thank-you notes. I spent most of my prep time finding the right font for the invitations that would look egyptian while still being legible by 4 and 5 year olds, and their parents. Then, for the planned treasure hunt, I needed a simple hieroglyphic font that correlated roughly to the actual heiroglyphic alphabet. I also researched online for appropriate activities that would occupy the two hours I planned for. Because the girls attending are into dressing up in costumes, I bought 10 yards of white broadcloth and made each girl a "kalasiris" or egyptian robe. Also gold rope to tie around their waist, and enough stretchy gold sequin trim to make each girl two "bracelets". I kept the robes simple, and each one took about 20 minutes to sew, even with finishing all seams except the neck hole. I made three on the larger side for the older girls, and one smaller one for the youngest petite girl. Once I made the first one and had a pattern, the rest were cake. Speaking of cake, I had immediately eliminated the possibility of a Sphinx cake, and settled on a pyramid cake which would be much easier to architect. V wanted something with strawberries, so I found a good strawberry cake recipe and made buttercream frosting with high-quality european butter. I estimated for 5 layers, based on the sizes of pans I had available, with a 9" square bottom layer, decreasing by 1.5" each layer up to a 3" top layer. Using the scraps cut from previous layers, I only needed one 11 x 17 and two 8" square cakes. I intended the frosting to be yellow/tan/sand colored with edible glitter, but I ended up choosing "copper" as my frosting tint. I disliked the color so much (too orange) I used the entire container of coloring and various food colorings to achieve something that was more brown, with edible yellow sparkles. I placed it on a board covered with foil and frosted the foil to look like a desert, complete with blue paper Nile and sushi grass growing along the riverbank, with a bedouin leading two camels across the "sand". One activity was that the girls would color their own neck capes, which they really got into. I only had to buy two packs of highlighters at Staples. After they put those on, we took some pictures (a couple girls, as I had expected, decided they didn't want to wear the kalasiris, or put on a neck cape, or be in a picture,[...]