Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Random Conglomeration of Awesomeness, a.k.a. An Excellent Gift Guide

Hurry, folks, time's a-wastin'. By my count, there are 5 more days until Hanukkah, 9 to Christmas.

Were you looking for CHEAP-ASS gifts for your beloveds? Ones that say "Even though I can't afford much, I still think you're worthy of cool stuff."? Look no further, here are four sweet deals for under $20, one for under $30 and one for exactly $40 that was too cool to pass up. Not too shabby.

This poster is about the coolest reference material ever made.

Yarn in beautiful colorways for the peacenik in your life.

A "Rad" tee shirt by rad artist Ray Fenwick.

Foxes in Trees.

A pretty little cardinal pendant, featuring my favorite colors.

I don't know about you, but I feel better knowing that you know about this now.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Fay Four: the Sitar

Not as exotic as a hurdy gurdy, and every Beatles fan on the planet is familiar with it, but who doesn't love a sitar?

This is Anoushka Shenkar, daughter of Ravi Shenkar, who taught George Harrison how to play. She is incredible.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Day Three: The Hurdy Gurdy

We saw a hurdy gurdy in action at Folklife Festival a few years ago, and I fell in love with it.

I've always been drawn to gypsy music, starting with Bartok's Romanian Dances in 7th grade, with my youth orchestra. There's something so complicated sounding about the hurdy gurdy. I think it's the drone strings.

Close your eyes, and you might mistake it for a bagpipe. If you're not Scottish, I suppose.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Day Two: The OUD

My belly dance classes have introduced a whole new world of instrumentation into my life. The oud is very impressive.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Theme Week: Exotic Instruments

Tonight, at dinner, we were (nerdily) listening to a radio program about Nicola Tesla. At some point, there was a theramin theme song. We asked Fezzik if he knew which instrument it was. Negative. We reminded him that he'd played one once, at the Science Center.

He replied, "Am I supposed to remember every exotic instrument I see?"

Yes, Fezzik, yes you are.

I bring you EXOTIC INSTRUMENT WEEK. Don't forget them, these instruments rule the world.

Day 1: Theramin

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Project Time

It's that time of year again, when thoughts turn to cheap but meaningful gifts. Using up what I already have is a plus, too.

Spoiler alert: it's rather difficult to make soap with Tiny Viking getting into everything these days.

Knitting projects have their appeal. I have tons of yarn (if not tons, maybe pounds), needles, and there are a million free patterns on the interwebs. I enjoy knitting, the design element, the ability to customize a gift to a loved-one's personality. And most people appreciate the time and effort put into it (and non-knitters are sufficiently amazed by my skills), so it pays off. I wonder if it's a bit hokey, though, and if the actual item is appreciated as much as the sentiment, or in equal relation to the efforts I put into creating it.

I just finished a headband for my friend Heidi's (belated) birthday. It only took about an hour and a half to make. Then I came home from her brunch, and swiftly made my friend Jessica one that she can use for a wedding headband, if she wishes. Then, after I finished that one, I started on a hat for Fezzik. I finished the hat this morning. Now it's time to find a pattern and start one for Tiny Viking. This is appealing, I must say, but perhaps a bit too difficult for this time of year. And, well, it is ridiculous.

Lawnboy's ever-more hairless pate is in need of a nice forest green watchcap, too. Yarn has been procured, all that's left is finding the right pattern.

I know I'm crazy, and what's worse is that these are just the ones I could mention; there are a dozen or so more ideas floating in my head, what to make for my friends. We'll see if I get my shit together in time to pull them all off. Don't hold your breath.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Never-ending Coral Maze

This post is for Brooks and Dave; I hope you already have tickets, dudes:


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Timing is Everything

Heh. Right, so the whole family has been running on empty for about a week. I'm exhausted, and I don't know why. I think it's me fighting off the flu (and succeeding, dammit!), but today Lawnboy asked me if I thought I might be, you know, maybe, pregnant?

WHAT THE EFF?! Oh hell no. Lawnboy, have you blocked that trip we took to Dr. Snip? Because even though they weren't my vas deferens, I remember it. Don't get teste with me. (Oh god, I can't believe I just wrote that. It's staying, though. I love puns. Especially dorky ones like "teste.")

Well, this whole post is way more than you needed to know, so I think I'll just keep on going. Here's the deal, the secret behind that question: Dr. Snip told Lawnboy that he doesn't have a green light yet. Something went wrong with that surgery. And he might have to repeat the whole procedure.

If there's one thing that trying to get pregnant for two-and-a-half years taught me, that thing is timing. It's everything. And, since there are only a few live swimmers in any given "deposit" (I'm so sorry, there's no delicate way to put it, and please rest assured I'm blushing right now, prude that I am), we've been mostly careful since his surgery, so the odds are slim to none, so don't get your hopes up.

Although, there's a sick, sick part of me who would really enjoy having another baby in the house. Tiny Viking is not a little baby any more, and holding our friends' baby Sadie last weekend reminded me that I might have agreed to the vasectomy a little too soon. Not that we could afford another child. That's another post in itself, although I'm sure most of you can relate. However, two in daycare almost completely mitigate my salary, so perhaps it's not such a terrible accident after all. Perhaps I'm not hoping I'm fighting the flu. PERHAPS I REALLY AM PREGNANT!

Whoa, is that hormones? Was I just yelling at my audience?!? Time to get an EPT.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chronic Overachiever

In my endless quest for attention, I've ventured into the world of online craft and vintage crap sales.

Hooray for the internets, and hooray for me!

I need a better camera, obviously, but that will have to wait for a while. Until, you know, we pay off the kitchen remodel. Unless anyone out there has a Canon EOS Rebel they want to get rid of. Anyone? Anyone? Email me & I'll send you our home address...

So, anywhoodle, go here and buy my thing. There are more things to come. But as you know, I'm busy, so please be patient.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Shiner

My boys have not yet broken any bones, or required any stitches. Before yesterday, in my 8+ years as a parent, I'd only been to the emergency room once, for pneumonia when Fezzik was about 2.

I'm not a freaker-outer, so there may have been instances in past that could have been borderline E.R. material. But my usual routine is to slap some hydrogen peroxide (or magic bubbles) and a bandage on their owies and call it good.

Yesterday, while I was in a meeting (at the job that pays me to stay there and do stuff), I got a call on my cell phone from Tiny Viking's teacher. I knew it would be bad when I saw the caller ID, because they NEVER chase me down on my cell phone. I excused myself from the meeting and picked up the call, and found out that Tiny Viking had hit his face on a window sill and required my attention. Immediately.

These are the moments in which I'm glad we pay and arm and a leg to have him onsite at my work. I was able to run to his class and get there while he was still crying. He had a cold wash cloth on his face, and whimpered when I reached out for him. I pulled the wash cloth back to see the damage, and I knew that it wasn't great. Head wounds bleed, y'all. A lot.

After I saw that the cut was pretty deep, I decided to err on the side of caution this time, and take him to the hospital. I felt a little silly, because there were no protruding bones or hanging body parts, but still.

Do you know that they super glue now, instead of stitching? It's so cool! They washed it out, and glued his face back together, and all he has is a little owie and a shiner now. Very dangerous, very mysterious. See?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Victory is Ours!

Oh happy day!

Monday, November 03, 2008

How Not To Parent

The budget doesn't have room in it for studio portraits of the boys in their (ADORABLE! CREATIVE! MOSTLY HOME MADE!) Halloween costumes, but do you think I could take a damn picture with MY OWN CAMERA? Nope.

Not of both of them, anyway.

I did capture the Tiny Viking in all his precocious glory. This was pre-pillage, so he's not all tuckered out in his stroller like he was when we went trick-or-treating. Fezzik did the door-to-door stuff. I figured we didn't need any more candy, and the small one doesn't know he missed out anyway.

By the way, the small one will henceforth be referred to as TINY VIKING. Because it's cute. And he's Swedish. And he dressed up as a Viking. And it's much, much easier to type than "The Amazing So and So."

Monday, October 27, 2008


Ten old fashioned terms I'd like to bring back into our daily lexicon:

1. Shenanigans (My boys and their shenanigans!)
2. Snazzy (Brooke, that's a snazzy top you have on today!)
3. Razzle-dazzle (This power point is boring. Let's add some razzle-dazzle.)
4. Houligan (Those houligans across the street are up to no good again.)
5. Trousers (These trousers are tight on me!)
6. Scram (Here comes Steve, we'd better scram.)
7. Meat hooks (Get your meat-hooks off of me!)
8. Unmentionables (I washed my husband's unmentionables with my red shirt, and now they're all pink.)
9. Davenport (Let me move the cat so you can sit down on the davenport.)
10. Drainboard (I left the banana bread out on the drainboad; help yourself.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween at the Zoo

We went to the zoo last night for the Pumpkin Prowl, and it was dark and scary for Fezzik, but fun for the rest of us!

We saw this fantastic acrobatics troupe from Portland, Kaz├╝m, performing to The B-52's "Planet Claire." It was amazing.

And the Youth Company from SANCA. No video, but they juggled glowing balls in the dark, and jumped rope (sometimes while juggling). These kids were so composed, even when they missed. I'm always in awe of folks who can pick up and run with it after a snafu, without a hint of poor showmanship. This is the place where we'll take The Amazing So and So for acrobatics classes once he turns two.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Winter Squash Obsession

This is the best thing I've ever done with a butternut squash. The sweetness of the squash melded perfectly with the roasted garlic. It sounds weird, I know, but if you like squash, you won't be disappointed. This recipe will serve 6 as a side dish, pretty easily.

2 or 3 lbs dry winter squash (Butternut, Blue Hubbard or Kabocha would work well. Use any dry squash, but not acorn or Delicata - they're too wet and won't caramelize enough when you roast it)
6 big cloves of garlic
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. olive oil
Salt, pepper
Preheat oven to 325

1. Peel and gut the squash, then cut it into tiny, 1/3 inch cubes. You can be lazy and cut the cubes bigger, but the extra caramelization that happens when you cut it into teeny tiny cubes is worth every knife stroke. Trust me.
2. Peel and roughly chop the garlic. You can use more if you are trying to ward off vampires, or if you're my friend Anna. I would use more next time, for sure.
3. Place the squash, garlic, flour and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl, and stir it all together.
4. Oil the bottom and sides of a large roasting pan. The biggest you can find. Then dump the squash mixture into the pan and pour the olive oil over the top. You can use more oil if you're not watching your girlish figure. It's good with more.
5. Bake/roast for 2 + hours, until the squash is golden brown all over.
6. Serve. Don't expect leftovers, but if you can't eat it all in one sitting, it's very, very good hotted up the next day too.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Movie Night

New drink recipe:
1 part Stoli Vanil vodka
2 parts root beer
Serve over ice

Had my three favorite belly dance friends over to watch "The Belly Dancers of Cairo" last night, and we finished off a fifth of vanilla vodka. Yummy!

Good movie, too (I think).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's time for another installment of Things I Own and Love.

My Grandma Bonnie's kitchen timer, from the '40's or '50's. It was one of the three items I claimed from her basement after she died a few years ago, along with her pickle crock and her Staffordshire china dog. There is beauty in the timer's simplicity (and its Bakelite hand).

This timer serves us well. We use it for timing such things as hard-boiled eggs, tooth brushing, time-outs (not often), and clean-up blitzes (not often here, either). Most recently we have been using it to time Fezzik's reading sessions, not because we want to make sure he reads the specified homework amount, but because we want him to have enough time to live a little, too. Kiddo never puts down the books.

Except today, when he strapped his calculator to his belt loop and exclaimed "I know it's weird, but I like doing random calculations."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Awesome Decorating Tip # 42

I'm no Martha Stewart. But every now and then, I come up with a good homemaking idea.

Also, Halloween is my favorite holiday without presents.

And I like to outfit my home very creepily for this occasion.

This year, to build on the interior creepiness, including my handmade shredded muslin curtains, I've decided to print out old photos, portraits, dageurrotypes, and silhouettes, replacing my usual pictures and prints.

I've found some awesome images online, Victorian funeral portraits and antique autopsy photos. These are too gross even for me. But I really like the idea. You out there, yes, you, without the 7-year-old, feel free to make giant autopsy prints.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Overheard at the playground this morning:

Mom 1: You're a shining example. A single mom, with two kids, and no job, yet your kids are still dressed to the nines.
Mom 2: It isn't easy, but I do try to dress them really well. Nordstrom, Baby Gap, you know.
Mom 1: You do a great job of it.

Me (in my head): what does that make me? I'm a married mom, with two kids and a great job. Even so, my kids' wardrobes are about 75% thrifted. Right, that makes me smart.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Actual Conversation With My 89-Year-Old Grandma

I love my grandma. This will scratch at the surface of how cute she is. [By the way, she's a died-in-the-wool republican; I try not to hold it against her.]

Me: So, Gram, who are you voting for this year?
Gram: Well, I just don't know.
Me: What do you think?
Gram: I think I like O-bah-na [sic]
Me: Yeah? Me too.
Gram: I heard O-banna is a Hindu.
Me: I'm pretty sure he's a Christian, Grandma. [in my head, I'm screaming: NOT THAT IT MATTERS]
Gram: Oh really? I heard he was one of those Muslim.
Me: No, he has been a member of a Christian church in Chicago for years.
Gram: Oh, that's good. I really don't like that MacLaine, though. I just can't stand that MacLaine.
Me: Yeah, me neither. I don't like that MacLaine...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Boys

The Dark Knight on a Dark Night

Are you sitting down? Lawnboy and I went on a date last night. Without the boys!

We dropped the kiddies off at my auntie's house, and Fezzik got to ride a motorcycle with his Uncle Otter. He was terrified and even tried to put off the ride, but he came back with a grin from ear to ear, and exclaimed "This was the most fun I've ever had in my entire life!" Yeah, forget taking him to Italy, or Disneyland, a 10 minute ride on a Gold Wing wins. Whatevs.

Lawnboy and I had intended to grab a quick bite to eat and go see "Burn After Reading," but the quick bite took longer than we anticipated, so we were late. The Indian food was worth it, though. We rolled up to the cinema and saw that "The Dark Knight" was playing in 10 minutes, so tickets were procured and we saw the first grown-up movie we've seen in a long time. I can't remember the last.

I'm not a movie buff, but I know my pop culture trivia, and I've heard people bantering the words "Oscar-worthy" about, in reference to Heath Ledger's Joker performance. I was skeptical, chalking most of the rave reviews up to his death, but he did a fantastic job as a deeply scary villain. Aaron Eckhart is great too, as Harvey Dent. Did you see him in "Thank You For Smoking?" If not, you should.

I've enjoyed many a graphic novel, but I am not a huge comic nerd. I like Batman because he has a real story. It's not random, what he does. There's more feeling to it, and it's more real. He's not super-human. I guess I like the realism.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Week of the Baby Doll Arms

I would like to lay it on the line for you right now and say that I don't go in for trends. Remember the movie "Titanic?" I don't, because I never saw it. Were you an early adopter of Capri Pants? It took me a good year before I tried on a pair of those puppies. And right now, I'm giving those stupid open-toed boots the stink-eye. I hope I won't have to go on record next year and tell you I have three pair. Which gets me to my point: I didn't read "The Secret," and I don't think I believe in the Law of Attraction.

However, that doesn't mean I don't appreciate coincidence when it crosses my path.

You know how when you first spot someone new at work, and then it seems like they're following you down every hallway? Or how about when you learn the definition of a new, big word? Shortly thereafter, it's on a billboard you pass on your way to work. And in an email from your company's CEO, and then you hear it on CNN the next day. You know what I'm talking about, right?

Well, this week, this weirdness was manifested in the form of baby doll arms. Suddenly they are everywhere. I told you that I was shopping for a unique rack for my sister's birthday. I hit Etsy to see what cool handcrafted thing I could find, but all that turned up was this.

What the?! Creepy! I sent a picture to Sis to make her laugh, and she asked me to please not send her one.

Then, Saturday night? What should appear before my very eyes, but this?! Awesome, but also extremely creepy!

Enjoy the week of the baby doll arms with me, and please let me know if you run into any yourself!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Sissy's Birthday

My sister recently unearthed my mother's collection of antique beaded and mesh purses. They were weird to me when my mom was collecting them, but now that she's gone, they're one more thing I have around my house that remind me of her and fill me with good memories.

So, we divided them up among us, and she asked me for some kind of vintage-y display rack for her birthday, to show them off at her house. Mine are boxed up awaiting the right house to display them, and also waiting for my boys to get old enough to trust around them. I don't think the purses would win in a light-saber-vs.-mesh-purse battle. I'm just sayin'.

She found some cute racks at Anthropologie, but they looked mass-produced and, well, common. I thought she and the purses deserved more.

So I got her these.

From here. Aren't they cool? They kind of remind me of coral, but they're really tree branches. Muahahahahaha, it's all a part of my Eeeevil Plan to decorate the world in a woodland theme. For Christmas, she's getting a dead deer. Or something taxidermed.

Friday, October 03, 2008

La Cuisine

The kitchen is coming along swimmingly. Especially when you consider that the labor is free.

That said, all cabinets are installed. The recycled slate countertop option didn't pan out (more on that next week), so I've been trying my best to find an acceptable substitute.

My dad's realtor was generous enough to give us her wholesale secret code, so when we went to the special tile store, we said a magic word and POOF!, everything was discounted by 25%. I found some porcelain tile that isn't my first choice, but the price is right, it's available for pickup today, and I'll have a working kitchen soon. So I DO NOT CARE if it's not slate. Or recycled. Or an old chalkboard.

The in-laws are behaving quite nicely, I must say. No complaints other than that I have to wear clothes to and from the bathroom whether I want to or not. Oh well.

Sunday is the day I should have a workable kitchen, then in the next 2 weeks, everything will be exactly in place as planned. YIPPEE!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Things on Etsy That Freak Me Out

Doesn't everyone need a miniature felted likeness of their beloved pet?

You still have time to get one before the holidays. Click here to zip on over to this Etsy store!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Unnatural Affinity for Swedish Ingenuity

Did I tell you we're REMODELING OUR KITCHEN???

YeeHAW! It all starts this week, and I didn't have to stamp my foot (too hard) to get my way.

And let me tell you, my way was THIS SINK:

In preparation, I've been stockpiling food in the freezer, hoarding paper boxes from work, and freaking out at having my in-laws in our tiny house for so long.

Love you guys, I really do, but it's difficult enough sharing a bathroom with my own 3 boys. I hope we're all speaking to each other by the time your plane leaves.

I have chosen, for the sake of my relationship with these beautiful people, to NOT take any vacation time during their visit. Grandma Kay has free reign on playing with Fezzik the whole time she's here, and Lawnboy and Grandpa Dave will be fastidious about the kitchen.

That's the plan, anyway. Before and after pictures to follow, I promise!

Things to do:
1. Donate old cabinets to Habitat for Humanity if they'll take them
2. Unpack current cabinets
3. Everything else

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Preciousssssssssss

I love these stainless steel bottles from EarthLust. We just shelled out half our grocery budget at Kir De Vries on 3 of these pretties. Aren't they gorgeous? So much better than the same old SIGG bottle!

Fezzik has claimed the owl bottle for his school lunches.

The Amazing So and So has already gummed up the shell bottle.

Lawnboy and I are in negotiations over the crow bottle. I foresee another purchase in the near future, as I just don't do backwash. I like my own bottle. Can't you just see Lawnboy with a tree bottle? Me too.

I went to fill the crow bottle up last night and found a tiny pinhole in it, so I won't be using it any time soon. The shop we bought them from was fantastic, though, and is popping a replacement in the mail tout suite, along with a few free sport lids for our inconvenience!

Friday, September 19, 2008

More of My Two Cents

Economy. The First World's economy is in the can. That's not new news; I'm aware that I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

Why, though? And what do we do about it?

Obama's economic plan looks like it will effectively bring us back to where we were before Bush and his cronies screwed us over. However, I don't want this country to be back on that track.

I want a new track. A track that we can sustain. A track with different values. An equitable track, where everyone has what they need, including healthy food, reasonable housing and healthcare, but not much more.

The new track will not rely on oil (foreign or domestic). It will bring our food back to reasonable production - no more industrial food products. Instead Real Food from Real Farmers (and our own back yards) will grace every table, school lunchroom, and restaurant. The track won't allow us to buy new luxury cars every two years, or live in 3,500 square foot houses. It won't allow us to have more things than we need. It will, though, put most of us on equal economic footing.

Our obsession with Stuff is killing us. It's robbing us of our health, and our children of their future. We all need to make a decision right now to stop and move in a new direction.

That's the track I want to be on.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

If You're Not Scared, You're Not Paying Attention

Lawnboy and I were shooting the breeze last night and talking about how just plain terrified we are with the state of our economy.

Short of moving to India (Lawnboy's proposal), I'm not sure if there is anything we can do.

Oh, wait a sec! We could vote. Note, Lawnboy thinks that it's futile at this point. I don't, if you were wondering. I can't think that it's futile. I just can't.

Can't embed this video, but please click on the link.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

If I had a Tattoo

I'm way too chicken; senior year in high school, Lawnboy, my BFF Desirae, and I drove down to the booming metropolis of Portland with the intent to get tattoos.

Desirae went first. She got a HUGE tribal design on her forearm. It bled. She was tough, but the tears sprang to her eyes nonetheless. My turn came up, and I wimped out.

Whoooooo, she wasn't happy about that.

Also, Lawnboy was too cheap (and I think he wouldn't mind if I told you he was also scared), and he ended up walking away uninked too.

Truth be told, it wasn't just the pain that freaked me out. It was the permanence. I kept thinking that some day, Desirae would regret that huge black mark on her arm. It didn't have much meaning, which bothered me very much. Flipping through the books of flash in the parlor, something rolled through my head: this decision deserves more thought than I've given it.

Fifteen years later, I think I've found the one thing I know I could live with for the rest of my life. It's irrelevant now, because I wouldn't fritter so much money away on something that isn't that significant to me, but it's pretty, and meaningful, and it would fit the bill if I were to find myself in a similar situation again.

One thing, though. I'd also need a waist. Or some hips. Something to make my back more closely resemble a cello.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I mentioned that we went to a wedding this weekend.

It was beautiful. Set against a backdrop of the sun setting over the Puget Sound, with Victoria, BC's twinkling lights off in the distance, it was like a picture out of Sunset magazine. There was even a doe grazing in the meadow behind the wedding party.

The wedding wasn't a big to-do, but more meaning-filled than others I've been to, officiated by the groom's best friend, with speeches by the grooms' close friends and family.

Yes, grooms. Two.

Big deal, right? To me, not at all.

But to the two of them, it was a big deal, because they, sadly and ridiculously, aren't able to do this legally in our state (yet).

During the ceremony, I found myself fighting back tears. The tears were because I know these two, I have felt the love they have for each other (trust me, it's palpable), and I know what marriage is like. Watching them watching each other was so sweet that I couldn't help but choke up. I am so excited for them to join into a contract with each other and with the rest of the world, a contract that says "I'm worthy of this guy's love." That's something that has helped me get out of bed some mornings.

One of their friends was sitting directly opposite me during the ceremony. He was weeping without abandon, and we made eye contact a few times during the speeches. I didn't get a chance to talk to him until just before he left. He approached me, and said "Thank you. I was watching you during the ceremony and I could tell by the look on your face that you get it. You totally get it. You are a beautiful person. You get it." To which I replied, "What's to get? They are in love, and they're doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing. I'm just glad I could be here to share it with them."

My friend Pete was in the closet when we were in high school. I never actually thought about his sexuality, because he wasn't so far in the closet that he overcompensated, so I just thought he didn't have a girlfriend because he was focused on his goals. (Which he was; I've never met another 16 year old who knows what he wants in a career and ends up there as directly as Pete did. Wow.) Looking back, I still wouldn't pick up on it even though our culture is much more accepting these days. However, I did think that something was missing for him. Because I knew even back then how much I wanted a family, I was worried that he wouldn't have time to find one because he was so focused on a career.

I know now that I don't have to worry about him. He has his family, and it's beautiful. Chris's eyes say it all, even when they're shrouded in $2,000 Cartier sunglasses. They love each other. What is there to get about that?

You might have noticed that I'm raising two boys. My wish for my boys is that they grow up to be kind-hearted, giving people like my friend Pete, and that they're able to find love, too.

Mazel Tov, Pete and Chris. We love you.

Feather Bed Eggs

We stayed at the Argyle House on Saturday night, and even though I was terribly hung-over (possibly still drunk?) on Sunday morning, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast. Well, the boys did; I enjoyed the fruit and a bite of the eggs, but it was a bit much for me. It was so good though, that I had to find a recipe so I can duplicate it here at home, and try it sober next time.

Feather Bed Eggs
* 4 Slices Thick Cut French-Toast Bread
* 1 1/2 cups Grated Pepper-Jack Cheeese
* 1 1/2 cups Whole Milk
* 6 Large Eggs
* To Taste Black Pepper, Oregano (I'd start with about a teaspoon of dried)
* 1/2 t. Mustard Powder
* Butter

1. Butter 4 small ramekins. Butter one side of bread, and place a single slice with buttered side up in each ramekin. Generously pepper each slice of bread and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of cheese. Beat milk with eggs and add oregano and mustard. Pour over the cheese and bread in the ramekins. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. In the morning uncover and place in a cold oven. Set to 350° and bake for 30-40 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from ramekin and serve immediately.

By the way, the wedding was beautiful. I didn't cry, but it was hard work not to. Tonight, I'll sit down and tell you all about it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Idiots! Imbeciles!

We forgot our camera and therefore have no pictures of the fair to share with you.

We do, however, have the list of culinary delights:
1. Krusty Pup corn dog
2. Meyer's Onion Burger
3. Onion Rings
4. Lots of lemonade
5. Elephant Ear
6. Cheese pizza

Now, where did I put those digestive enzymes?

A Fair Day

We've pulled Fezzik out of school today and intend to hit the fair. I have two measly vacation days left this fiscal year (through September), so I'm bagging a couple of Fridays this month. Three day weekends are very nice. Not as nice as the three day work week I dream about, but I'll take what I can get.

Pictures this evening!

Speaking of dreaming, here's a little video of two dreamy boys singing a funny song. Let's hear it for the erudite ladies! Anna, this one goes out to you!

Monday, September 08, 2008

McSweeny's: An Old Friend

Who doesn't love a good McSweeny's List?

Case in point: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/lists/3SuzanneBroughton.html

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Glorious Music

It's Sunday. But you know, I don't do the whole "god" thing.

We keep the t.v. off on Sundays, (obviously) not for religious reasons, but to keep our brains unencumbered and have a peaceful day. We usually listen to NPR until Garrison Keillor hits the air, then lunge for the dial and switch to CD's for the rest of the day.

Those CD's have turned into a time-capsule soundtrack to our lives. Here's one song that defines our Sundays this year. Enjoy, this song is so good it can make me cry.

Today it's making me cry because my dad's best friend Pat had another heart attack last night and is in the CCU. He married my mom's best friend Tyera, and my heart goes out to both of them. If there is any afterlife, my mom is watching over them right now and wishing Pat health and Tyera strength.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Outrage, but With Vengeance

My girlfriend called last night and informed me that her daughter had brought home a letter from the school district. Apparently, someone in our neighborhood was posing as a school district official, knocking on doors, and asking if any kids lived in the home. He said that he was there to take children to their tutoring session. The smart folks he called upon reported him to the police, who tried but couldn't find him. The police informed the school district of the incident.

Here's the outrage part. Her son, and my son, are in the gifted program, so they do not go to their respective neighborhood schools. The school district chose to send letters home to three neighboring elementary schools, and both of our neighborhood schools were on the distribution list. The school that both of our sons go to, three miles as the crow flies down the street, WAS NOT INFORMED. Neither was the high school, which is outrageous, as many high school children babysit, and the incident happened close to the high school too.

Our district subscribes to a website called SchoolReport.org, which is a website that has the capability to push emails out to registered users, in cases of emergency. Our district uses it as a "pull" resource - meaning parents have to go to the website and read any information posted. Unfortunately, the district has chosen only to use this website for school closure information, so it isn't useful as an emergency notification system. It's set up to use as such, though, and you can bet I'll be at the school board meeting on Wednesday requesting (ok, demanding) that they start using it in this manner going forward.

I took the letter that was sent out to the few schools, and emailed it to our local TV news stations, along with a request that they get the word out that there was an attempted child luring in our neighborhood. As I didn't get a response right away, I figured it wasn't deemed newsworthy; who am I to judge what should be on The News?

However! I got a call on my cell phone this morning from a reporter who was very kind, and who told me "I think this is a very important story, and I'd like to come to your home and interview you if that's ok." EEP! I reluctantly agreed, and she suggested I call other parents who felt the same way, so she could interview them, too. I called my friend, who called a couple of her friends, and three of us are going to be on the news tonight. Along with my neighbor's "Everywhere Bush" (that's a technical news term, the cameraman told us), and anonymous shots of our kids playing on the swing set.

The interview was quick and dirty, and focused on feelings. I wanted to raise my fist and demand ACTION from the police and the school district, but I decided to play it cool and save my vehement protest for the school board meeting. See you there?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

It'll Be Between You, Me and the Cats

Last night, after the boys were snug in their beds. I flipped on the t.v.

Lawnboy came out to the living room and said to me "What in the hell are you watching?"

"ANTM, why?"

"WHY? Why do you watch this crap?"

"It's not crap, it's CAMP, honey. I can't not watch it, it's great. You just can't take it seriously."

"People take it seriously?"

"I dunno. You want I should be watching the Republican National Convention?"

"Point well taken. Want me to pop us some popcorn?"

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Long Lost Relatives

Getting to Know You

Fezzik's first homework was to put together a small bag of 4 items that could help him describe himself to his new class. Here's what he gathered.

1. The book "Eragon"
2. A drawing of Saphira, the dragon from the book "Eragon"
3. A Bionicle
4. An egg, from our chickens (we blew out the egg and wrapped the empty shell very carefully in tissue, then in a tupperware container)

My ideas, a pictgure of his family, a picture of him in Italy, a Star Wars figurine, were all shot down. I guess we've entered the age where I embarrass him. Yay, that should come pretty easily to me!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Rainforest Swordfight

Herein you can see how my oldest child doesn't understand the concept of videography, and continues to pose for the camera even though I keep telling him it's a movie. Please forgive me for not understanding the concept of holding the camera steady.

Also, this director's cut shows where same child got his Raptor Arms. At 0:50, watch his dorky dad model the same arm position, except without the two-claw T-Rex customization. Nice.

Note the rushing noise in the background is not a river, but in fact the soothing sounds of swiftly falling rain.

Untitled from Kathi Jenness on Vimeo.

Not What You'd Call Hard Core

Well, the camping trip was a bust. We headed out to Hoh for what was supposed to be a fun 4- or 5-night adventure. It's late August, for goodness sake, might I remind you. We're supposed to have sun.

My darling husband has wanted to camp at Olympic National Forest for years. Somehow, we kept missing it, mostly because I'm the boss of the whole wide world and I like camping on Orcas Island or in the mountains. This time, I caved, and we've been planning this trip since May.

You locals might be thinking to yourselves "but the Hoh! Why would you do that? It's in the RAIN FOREST."

You'd think that, and you'd be right.

We drove all the way to Port Angeles (maybe 4 hours from our house), before the rain kicked in. On our way to the National Park, another hour and a half from Port Angeles, we might have had the sense to turn around. Nope, though, we soldiered on. We got to the very wet campsite, and donned our rain gear, and set up the tent. Lawnboy kept telling me while he was setting up our new fancy tent that it wasn't rainproof. I kept saying "We'll be fine, Honey," all the while thinking "Man, I do NOT want to camp in this rain, you couldn't light a fire if you wanted to."

Even before he got the rain fly on the tent, the insides were covered in water. We might have brought our rain gear, but we forgot our waterproof pajamas. Lawnboy kept touching base, saying "We can go home if you want." But I didn't want to make another 5 hour drive back home that night, and I thought to myself "We can do anything for one night. We're not going to die from being damp."

Then my genius husband said "Honey, let's go into Forks and see if we can get a hotel room." I said "YES" before he finished the sentence. We left the tents to soak (we brought two tents and set them both up before he had the hotel epiphany), packed the boys into the car, and headed back to Forks, which is about an hour away.

WIMPS! But man, those dry hotel blankets and pillows sure felt good. And the opportunity to dry out our shoes was excellent.

We made a plan to go hiking at Hoh the next morning, and then to head over to the rain shadow after the hike. We were on our way before 9 AM. It was still pouring when we got back to the campsite, and because we had decided to head to Sequim to camp in the rain shadow, which was 2 hours away, we went ahead and broke down camp before trying to hike. Good thing we hadn't slept there, as our fancy big tent had puddles inside that were bigger than the kids' bodies. Lawnboy got all packed up while I kid-wrangled, and aside from being chased by The Amazing So and So with his pet banana slug, "AAAAAAA! LAWNBOY! HELP! HE'S CHASING ME! WITH A SLUG!!!" it was pretty uneventful.

Realizing it was time to head on to the next camp, we decided to pass on the rainforest hike. On the way out of the park, we passed 3 or 4 rental RV's, and devised a plan to check into that for the next time. It seems like a good idea; all the convenience and dryness of a hotel room but still kind of outside. We can go hiking in the rain, then dry off inside our own little camper.

We unpacked at Dungeness Spit in dry weather, but then we realized we'd forgotten a few key items: a pot or pan to cook in, lighter or waterproof matches, a patch kit for our air mattress (which got popped when the boys were "helping" set up camp), and warm coats. Brought the raincoats, but nothing heavy to keep warm with. Dinner consisted of bananas, Lara Bars, tortilla chips and Smores. Hooray for campground nutrition!

At bedtime, it sprinkled a bit. We weren't worried. Our small tent had fared really well in the rain at Hoh, and had already dried out. We snuggled in it together that night, and even though it started pouring in the middle of the night, we stayed dry. The shoes, our only shoes, that were left outside the tent, were another story.

We woke up and donned our squishy shoes and packed up right away. We'd had it. We headed up to Hurricane Ridge, borrowed some matches from another camper to light our stove enough to heat water for the instant soup lunch, went for a tiny 1 mile hike down to a creek, and then got in the car and headed back to home sweet home that afternoon.

This ends our camping adventures for 2008.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mighty Life List

Maggie at Mighty Girl has inspired me to write my Mighty Life List. It will be an ongoing project wherein I list all the random, crazy stuff I want to do before I go teats up.

Here goes, in no particular order. Some are much more attainable than others, I know, but it's a list in progress.

What's on yours?

1. See the Aurora Borealis
2. Visit NYC
3. Go to Vermont after mud season, but before summer
4. Actually backpack somewhere with my husband
5. Visit my relatives in Sweden
6. Take the boys on a National Park road trip; Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, I don't care where
7. Work the Farmer's Market Circuit
8. Be successful with the above, and by successful, I mean enough to quit my day job
9. Live on a working farm, not just a suburban tract house with 3 chickens in the back
10. Finish one single home improvement project before starting another one

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Week of Adventure

After the weekend, we're heading over to the Olympic National Forest for a week-long respite. Fezzik starts at his new school on September 2nd, and we all need a break before we're ready for it. Our big plans for the week include sitting on logs and staring into the forest in honor of our friend Josh, "hiking" (for how well can we hike with an 18 month old in tow, one who started his independent stage early and refuses to be carried anymore), and splashing in the ocean and the hot springs.

School clothes: check
School supplies: check
Appointment for pre- school year/return to work massage: check!
Mental preparedness: in progress

This weekend is sopposed to be relaxing. ...right. Among other things, we're shopping for our camping trip (we're out of marshmallows!), cooking my dad (and his girlfriend, my grandma, and great aunt) a belated birthday dinner, making a batch of soap (BY GOD), finding someone to watch the chickies (have an offer from a friend, think we'll take her up on that), and putting together the last minute school supplies and such. I forgot to mention a possible sleepover tonight, and if that doesn't happen, a definite play date, and we're going to a matinee of THE CLONE WARS.

I was talking about this schedule with a friend last night, and she said "wow, that's a lot. I wouldn't want to live if I had that much to do." How cute, I thought. She's so not ready to have kids. Sorry Jess - but it's true! And I am slightly jealous of your plans for the weekend. Lazing about sounds deeeeelicous! But I have consequences if I do that, so enjoy it now, while you still can!

So here's a quick note to let you know we're not bringing the laptop on our vacation, so please stand by for pictures of our vacation, which will be posted after we return.

Photo from Sol Duc Resort

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


As Fezzik was getting dressed yesterday, I noticed his hair looked particularly dirty. Odd, because his every-other-nightly shower had happened 9 hours before this.

I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach: my little seven-and-a-half year old is growing up! Soon there will be armpit hairs! And worse! I've heard and read the horror stories of early-onset puberty due to the hormones in our food, but I've really counted on us avoiding that because he is a vegetarian, and we don't buy milk with rBGH.

Anywhoodle, I asked him to slap his baseball cap on that greasy mane, and off we went, me with a mental note to make him shower more frequently from here on out.

After dinner, I asked him to jump in the shower, which he did. I told him to wash his hair really well, at least twice.

He came plodding down the hall after his shower, and Lawnboy and I looked at his hair, then caught eachother's eye. Something was just not right.

"Fezzik, did you wash your hair?"

"Yes. Twice."

"Did you wash it with shampoo?"

"Yes, but it didn't foam up very well."

"Did you rinse your hair?"


"Did you use conditioner?"


"Can you please show us the shampoo you used?"

Plod, plod, plod back to the bathroom, then out to us with this in his hands:

Whoops! No wonder it didn't "foam up" very well! He used the BABY OIL!

I can see how it happened; we use the same brand of shampoo and baby oil. The only difference is the small words on the (almost identical) label, and the pump.

Note to Fezzik: please use THIS from now on!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lazy Sundays

Just kidding. I don't get to have those anymore.

Today we were up at 5 because of the flash of light and the KABOOM right outside our window. Then the rain started, and quickly stopped. I was reminded why I can never, ever live in Vermont. I hate muggy weather!

Then I tried semi successfully to get Fezzik to clean his disastrous room. Lawnboy came home, and brought his patience with him - we're so balanced, me with the "DO IT RIGHT NOW OR SO HELP ME I WILL GIVE YOUR TOYS TO CHARITY," and Lawnboy with the "It's really important to us that you clean your room. How can we help you get it done today?" His way wins, hands down. I suck at motivational speeches.

The Amazing So and So helped me grocery shop for the potluck this afternoon, and we were off to the Wild and Wacky at Josh's parents' house. Boy, do I love those people. I know I only get to see their good sides, but for a huge family, there is no tension, everybody genuinely cares about everyone else, and we feel so welcome with them. Not in the least because although we only see them once or twice a year, every single one of them remembers us, our names, and our kids names. So, thank you Josh, for having an awesome family and letting us be a part of its extension! I wish that your folks (or any one of your aunts) could officially adopt us!!! How many times can I say that without creeping you out? We'll see.

Updates on the chickens: they're messy and they eat gardens. We haven't had time to fence them off yet into their own run, so they're very free range at this point. Lawnboy finished making the coop functional - it's ugly as hell but we can fix that sometime. Priority one is to get the coop moved (it's a heavy sucka) into its permanent location, and two is to fence it off into their own little chicken run. Should happen this week, especially if we want to keep what's left of the veggies in the garden. They haven't touched the ripe fruits - the 7 cucumbers and the crookneck squash are all intact (and now on my kitchen counter), but they've pecked the hell out of the lettuce and the kohlrabi seedlings are officially toast. Oh well, I hope they're worth it. They haven't graced us with any more eggs yet, or at least not in places where we could find them. Should be much easier to know if and when they lay once we have them all fenced off.

Ta for now!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Egg Mystery

I found this under the tomatoes tonight; let's all hope it's a sign of things to come.

Lawnboy will be finishing the nesting boxes tomorrow, and I choose to believe that this will put an end to eggs in the garden.

Also, here is Pidgey enjoying her new roost. Not so, the Ladies Orpington. We think they're too fat (the poor dears), and we'll be making adjustments to the coop tomorrow to accommodate their girth. Pidge was not amused when Charlie the Wondercat decided to crawl under the coop and stare up through the wire floor at her. There was clucking, and I'm quite sure we'll hear about it if any predators come harrass these girls. They'll be our watchchickens.

Li'l Dinos

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you OUR HENS.

They appear to be two Buff Orpingtons and one Rhode Island Red. Pidgey, Starley, and Taloolah.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Within Sight

We are so close to realizing a dream here. As you know, I've been planning to get chickens for a long, long time now. We've dismantled the dog house in hopes of a fancy chicken coop conversion, and like most of our well-intentioned projects, we came to a screeching halt somewhere between ripping out the floor and actually making it functional. I should mention that this is the Royal 'We' here - and that I shant be responsible for any actual work on said coop. I'm the brains behind this operation, if you haven't figured that out yet.

Shut up, Anna.

The best way to get Lawnboy to finish a project is to force the matter. That is why, when We undertook the dismantling, I had in my head the niggling thought that I would one day come home with a few lovely laying hens, and make him finish the coop over the following weekend.

Friends, that day is upon us.

A girl from work sat down in a meeting today, and said "Who wants to come up to Shoreline and pick up the three stray hens that have been hanging out in my yard for a week?"

Without hesitation, I shouted "DIBS" - as if anyone else was going to beat me to the punch. Such a dweeb I am.

She ran home today to see if they were still there, and they were. Her husband is going to call all their neighbors tonight, and if no one claims them, THEY'RE OURS.

Don't be jealous of this glamorous life we're leading. It's hard to be so AWESOME.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I've had several nicknames, mostly nice ones, but my favorite is the one I've worked hard to earn.

My uncle calls me Pickle Princess. He is something of a pickle connoisseur, and I know how to make a mean dill pickle.

I love canning and preserving. When we moved back from Tucson, I asked my Grandma Bonnie to tutor me in the fine arts of canning. She always had pickles, jelly or stewed tomatoes going in her kitchen. I was really interested in making jelly, but she told me in no uncertain terms that I was to learn how to make pickles, so that she could have some. I agreed, and an obsession was born.

I've made a few different recipes over the years, but the one I found that wins the taste test every year is Short-Brine Dills, which I've adapted from The Joy of Pickling. I made them today.

Short Brined Dill Pickles
12 lbs 3 to 5 inch pickling cucumbers
1 1/2 c. pickling salt, divided
2 gallons + 2 quarts water
7 1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. sugar
16 garlic cloves, sliced
16 shallots, chopped
40 teaspoons mustard seeds
40 dill heads, plus fronds if you'd like
40 black peppercorns
20 small dried chili peppers
40 grape leaves

The cast of characters:

1. Gently wash the cucumbers, slicing off the blossom ends.

Then, dissolve half the pickling salt in the 2 gallons of water, in a large bowl or crock. Add the scrubbed cucumbers, and let them sit overnight.

2. Drain the cucumbers the next day. Wash and sterilize 20 quart-sized mason jars and lids.

3. In a stainless steel pot, bring the remaining 3/4 c. pickling salt, the 2 quarts water, the vinegar, and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt.

4. While that stuff is heating up, divide your garlic, dill, grape leaves, mustard seeds, shallots and peppercorns among the jars.

5. Stuff each jar as full as you can with cucumbers, then pour the hot vinegar mixture over the top of them to within 1/2 inch of the rim.

By the way, you'll likely get to your last jar and have tons of cucumbers left over. Start squeezing them, it won't hurt. I always manage to get more into the jars when I go back to get the leftovers in.

6. Close up the jars with your lids and rings, and process them for 15 minutes in a boiling-water bath.

Don't be too disappointed when this happens. I manage to break one jar every single time. I have just come to expect it.

7. Store them for at least a month before you open a jar.

Bonus points if you enter them in your county fair! I'm really going to do that this year, I swear!!!