Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thanks to all of you who headed over to to try to comment on my team-mate's photo. I don't know what I was thinking to get into a photography survivor game at this time of the year, but it's been darn fun.

And by the way, if you want to get yourself in a festive mood, go over to flickr and search "holiday decorations" or some such thing. There are lots of people taking really pretty pictures of glowy holiday lights, ornaments, snow scenes, trees, and cookies. LOTS of Christmas cookies! It's enough to make you want to go bake.

I'm headed down to my parents' house for a night or two. They are conveniently located quite close to an excellent children's hospital and we have an appointment with a pediatric neurologist for specialized advice on the ongoing migraines.

At any rate, you won't see me blogging in the next day or two -- but my goal is to get some good information and then relax a bit to start enjoying the holiday season. Ooh! I see an eggnog latte in my future, too!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Hi, readers--

I need your help! I'm participating in a Survivor-like game on Flickr known as PFO Island and I need to gather comments for one of my team photos ASAP!

Please take a second and go look at this festive photo by my teammate Laura (aka Photo bug), and then leave a comment in the photo comments. Anything like "great photo" is enough.

Thanks! I don't want our team to be blown off of the island by a hurricane!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Merry Meme

I do enjoy a good meme -- so courtesy of Terry and Gerrie, here's one for the season:
Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate, made with real milk. (I can't stand that instant stuff made with water.) Although I do have to have an Eggnog Latte at Starbuck's each Christmastime.
Does Santa wrap presents or set them under the tree? Santa always wraps in plain red paper.
Colored lights on tree or white? Colored! It's more festive! But this year we have white and colored together, so it's VERY bright and sparkly.
When do you put your decorations up? Within the first two weeks of December. I like to get them up early as it helps to get me in the mood .... but it all depends on what else is going on. By Dec. 15, certainly.
What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? A raspberry jello dish that is so filled with raspberries that it's not jell0-y at all. It's sort of like raspberries held together and it's refreshing and wonderful and a gorgeous red color.
When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Truth? What truth? You mean that he doesn't do it all himself and has elves to help? Is there something someone's not telling me?
Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? When I was little, we opened one present on Christmas eve ... usually something from an aunt that turned out to be pajamas or some boring clothes thing. Now, we do Christmas eve at R's sister's house, and so presents on that side of the family are exchanged. Don't worry, there are more left for Christmas morning.
How do you decorate your Christmas tree? We have all different ornaments collected over the years, including wonderful ones made by Caroline in school. It's finished with strings of dark red wooden cranberries and strings of gold sparkly stars. C always puts a big ol' glittery gold star on top at the end.
Snow! Love it or Dread it? LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. I miss living in a place where it snows. When I lived in New England, I was always the one wishing for one more big blizzard before spring. That's what comes from growing up in California.
Can you ice skate? Yes. Love that, too.
Do you remember your favorite gift? It's a tie, between gifts my grandmother gave me. One year, it was a beautiful dress with a flowery print that had ribbons in the print. And if you looked closely at the ribbons, you saw that the ribbons spelled "Barbie." I LOVED that dress. Another year, when I was older, my grandma gave my sister and me our own blankets for our beds. Weirdly adult (and probably in an effort to help my mom) but for some reason getting that seemed so atypical of a gift for a kid that I loved it. Mine was white with blue flowers on it. I still have it and use it on my daughter's bed!
What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Family and wonderful traditions that bring back great memories.
What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Shortbread Christmas cookies.
What is your favorite tradition? Oh boy, that's a hard one. Filling the Christmas stockings. Watching White Christmas every year. We started a new one last year, which I loved: filling travel mugs with hot chocolate after dinner, and driving around town to look at the Christmas lights.
Which do you prefer, Giving or Receiving? Mostly giving -- but it's wonderful to be given something by someone who knows you so well that they know JUST what you'd like.
What is your favorite Christmas Song? "White Christmas."
Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? I don't hate them, but I don't particularly like them. I like mint and chocolate together, though.
Ever recycled a Christmas present? Nope.

Cat Spotting

I've had a busy day getting all the Christmas decorations up -- but in the middle of it all, managed to get this picture of Gemma on the stairs when she spotted a cat sneaking out the cat door.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Good food, good book, good tree...

I'm sorry about the long gaps between posts, readers and around here is, well, complicated these days. But in keeping with the totally jumbled state of my mind and household right now, I thought I'd throw out some random stuff...

1. You may remember that I've had a love-hate (read: mostly hate) relationship with the job of putting up the Christmas tree in recent years. The idea of an artificial tree (absolutely anathema in my younger years) started sounded pretty good. Well, last year a good friend of mine bought an artificial tree from Balsam Hill, a company whose trees look pretty darn realistic. But she discovered that the tree was too big for her room, and too big for her (a petite single woman) to put up and down comfortably. So she offered it to us, and I jumped at it. I put it up on Monday (real pictures of it soon) which wasn't a total piece of cake but was easier and less sappy-prickly-frustrating inducing than wrestling with a real tree. (Mainly the problem was the inadequate instructions on connecting the various plugs to make the lights work. Now that I've done it once, it'll be way easier next time.)
So now we have the tree up (lit but otherwise undecorated at the moment) and we're having fun using the remote control to change the lights from clear, to colored, to all. Very exciting. As my mom would say, "small things amuse small minds."
2. If you want to read a good novel, check out "Love Walked In" by Marisa de los Santos. It's about love and mothers and daughters and creating the family you need. It's lovely and funny and beautifully written. I'm reading the sequel right now, "Belong to Me: A Novel'>Belong to Me," and I'm loving it too.
3. I've been turning to the crockpot to help me deal with food on these crazy days, and I made a really easy and delicious tortilla soup yesterday. Here's the recipe, in case you want to give it a try on a cold December day:

1 pound shredded, cooked chicken (or raw -- I cubed boneless chicken breasts and threw them in raw and they cooked while the soup cooked and were fine).

1 (15 ounce) can tomatoes (diced, or crushed, or whole peeled tomatoes, mashed -- whatever you have on hand)

1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups water

1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 bay leaf

1 (10 oz) package frozen corn

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (I omitted this because I hate cilantro)

7 corn tortillas, vegetable oil (you can fry your own tortilla strips, but we just crumbled commercial tortilla chips into it and it was fine)

1. Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, and garlic into a slow cooker. Pour in water and chicken broth, and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir in corn and cilantro. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours.

2. If you opt to make your own tortilla strips, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with oil. Cut tortillas into strips, then spread on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. To serve, sprinkle tortilla strips over soup.

It's a good time to make some soup, and settle in in front of the tree with a good book. Take time to relax! That's a good reminder for all of us at this time of year, yes?!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Put it in the Book

These day, I'm riding a bit of an emotional roller coaster as Miss C continues to experience all-too-frequent migraines, and is dealing with the messy trials and tribulations of 7th grade girlfriend stuff. Some days I long for toddlerhood, I tell you.
So, I'm continuing to find great pleasure and a zen-like calm with my moleskine notebook, colored pencils, and black marker. I am not creating ART but I am entertaining myself with illustrating moments in the simplest of ways.
Here's a page I did when I was thinking about abacuses (abaci?) in preparation for the 12x12 mathematics challenge...

I came across this quotation in a catalog (Have you seen the Bas Bleu catalog? They have some great stuff for book-lovers) and it seemed all too appropriate.

And then just doodling whatever strikes me.

I highly recommend this activity, and if you're feeling in need of serious self-indulgence, then you can do this while watching appropriately non-educational television (you know, Celebrity Rehab, The Housewives of Orange County, Top Chef...) and sipping tea.
There'll be fabric content again one of these days. Meanwhile, back to those colored pencils...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Spotlight's on Me!

I'm honored to be the spotlighted photographer today in a Flickr group I really like, called Photo Face Off Challenge. You can go read it here!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Kitties Always Help

It's not easy being a seventh grader, and Miss C is experiencing some angst about school and friendships and adolescence. So today after school we made a stop at our local animal shelter where C is a well-known and long-time volunteer kitty cuddler. We love our local shelter -- it's a no-kill shelter, and they really work on socializing the kittens so they'll be good pets. When you're feeling frazzled and emotionally worn down, a room full of kittens will cheer you right up. Trust me.
We plunked ourselves down on the floor and started rolling little balls around. The kittens watch with wild and mesmerized eyes, and cannot resist coming over to play. Inevitably, they end up crawling all over us, purring.
Isn't this one a beauty?
This fellow was fascinated by the camera lens -- seeing his reflection, maybe?

This little girl would love a comfy home for Christmas.

This guy raced around playing with a little felt mousie, and then plunked down to do some serious cleaning business.

This guy spun himself into a frenzy, raced across the room and shot right up the wall. I know how he feels.
C and I came away feeling soothed and contented, and the kitties were tired out and ready for naps. By the way, all of these kitties are available for adoption at the Healdsburg Animal Shelter, if you're in the area and thinking that you could use a furry companion.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday Math

Quick! Head on over to the Twelve by Twelve blog -- today is the reveal day for our pieces on the theme of "mathematics." (And, as usual, it's wonderful and fascinating to see how unique and varied the pieces are!)