Quote of the Day


Christmas wishes to melt your heart

Me: So, Dandy, what are you hoping that Santa will bring?
(long long wait)
Dandy: What I would most like, more than anything, is a picture of my old best friend from the orphanage and some news about him.
(he tears up, and continues)
I feel bad, being so happy, and he is so . . . so alone.

Dandy drives me to my wit's end with his poor choices and bad behavior, but his heart? His heart is full of all the right stuff.


:: one year ago today: and home again and yes, please, we'd love it if you prayed for us today
:: two years ago today: Mrs. Mama and EWwwwwww


coveting a Kuhn Rikon

One of my Thanksgiving guests inadvertently left behind one of these

and I am in love with it. It's a Kuhn Rikon Durotherm 1.1 -Quart Cook & Serve Pan and one touch was all it took. It is perfectly balanced and very heavy and it doesn't scorch and it is just so pretty. If there is a cook on your Christmas list, and you like them a whole lot, and you have loads of spare money sitting about, get them this pot.

In the meantime, my forgetful cousin can be assured that her little pot is being tenderly cared for until it can be reunited with her. And I have been given an opportunity to work on resisting the spirit of covetousness; I'll get started on that tomorrow.

:: one year ago today: Jenny Linsky how we love thee
:: two years ago today: nifty resource and snow report



So, after 3 days of busyness, we were finally tucked into our beds, nicely snoozing, when I hear a little voice from the doorway:

Dandy: Mom?
Me: Mrmrph.
Dandy (in a wee little voice): I forgot what it was that you had asked me to do.
Me: What?
Dandy: Mrmrph.
Me: You're asleep. Go back to bed.

Little footprints go up the stairs and I hear him crawl back into bed. Isn't that just the sweetest? He had been so focused on staying on task and helping mom that it carried over into his sleep-walking.

He got the whole day off today: nary a chore or responsibility for him, and precious few for me. Occasionally I hear a piece of pie calling me, and I do obey that. And the little kitty has required petting, as have the bunnies, so I buckled down and took care of them. All other chores are postponed indefinitely.

:: one year ago today: CNN/You Tube debates and Ron Paul's Statement of Faith


Thanks Giving

I meant to take an 'after' picture but I forgot, but this is what seating for 27 looks like, in case you wondered.

We had a merry time. The food was good, if I do say so myself, the designated helpers were efficient, and we gathered around the table only 20 minutes past schedule.

This was the biggest sit-down meal I have ever done. It got a little dicey at the serving up stage, and we all agree that we need a second oven, but it worked.

Nobody spilled anything; only one dried leaf caught on fire from the votives; we had several leftover pies; and plenty of turkey (we did a 22 pound and a 12 pound). Clearly I am blogging this for my own record-keeping, as I'm sure no one is really that interested. 15 pounds of potatoes is not enough. We could easily have eaten 20 pounds and I had wanted to have potato leftovers.

We were especially happy to have a distant cousin (my second third cousin once removed, to be precise) join us as well as Dad's care-giver, whom we all like tremendously and have made an honorary uncle. The new cousin attends our local university and snowboards skies (sorry Jason) and brought his own guitar and played games and we all liked him a lot.

We had a poetry reading from our poet-in-residence, a trek into the 100-acre woods, an impromptu musical interlude, games played in front of the fire, lots of snuggles on the couch, and a great deal of silliness, as usual.

1. pumpkin soup - me
2. spinach rolls - Mom
3. deviled eggs - Harrison & me
4. finger snacks - Uncle Chuck
5. hot cider - Harts
6. mashed potatoes - me
7. brined turkey - me
8. dressing - me
9. squash-squish - Mom
10. creamed onions - Mom
11. black-bean pumpkin casserole - me
12. ambrosia salad - Mom
13. waldorf salad - Greg
14. green bean casserole - Kayti
15. cranberry sauce & relish - Greg
16. rolls - Christy
17. cornbread - me
18. Martinelli's - Aaron
19. wine & good (aka dark) beer
20. apple pies - Aaron & Marina
21. pumpkin pies - Carol
22. gluten-free pumpkin pie - Schmitts
23. pecan pie - me
24. ice cream
25. whipped cream
26. coffee


just watch this

:: one year ago today: read the original and turkey curry salad and Thanksgiving Hymn Sing
:: two years ago today: How Snowy Is It? (cute kid pics)





works for me: stocking stuffer ideas

Stuffing those stockings always seems so easy in theory and challenging in deed. Here are some ideas.
:: bath poofs
:: sweet hope chocolates
:: toy mice for humans owned by cats
:: chewies and tennis balls for humans owned by dogs
:: postage stamps for anyone off at college
:: good cheeses
:: nuts
:: Christmas ornaments for young adults
:: pocket flashlights for the cars
:: chapsticks
:: winter-weight Atlas garden gloves
:: tulip or daffodil bulbs
:: long matches
:: smoked oysters
:: woolie socks
:: Starbuck's cards
:: Trader Joe's cards
:: iTunes cards
:: pencils and erasers for school kids - especially home-schooling families
:: chocolate oranges
:: bottle of favorite fragrance
:: paint brushes & other artsy supplies (hat tip to Audrey)
:: LUSH bubble bars

edited to add: Hey, my visitor tracker is telling me that a bunch of you folks are dropping by from Rocks in my Dryer! Surely you have an idea to share. If you leave one, I'll add it to your list and link it to your site. Let's make this the longest and best stocking stuffer idea list ever!

My other Works for Me posts.


:: one year ago today: thanks giving and holiday strata and Ron Paul & Sarah Palin
:: two years ago today: the menu and we got the power!


Twin Brook Creamery

Wasn't I just wishing for a better milk supply? I went into my local grocery store and was amazed to find glass bottles full of milk from local hormone-free cows. Well, I suppose the cows have hormones, but just the ones God gave them, no extra ones added. I saw the bottles and the Twin Brook Creamery, Lynden, Washington label and thought, 'nice, but I'm sure they'll be pricey.' Nope, setting aside the one-time bottle deposit, each item was priced exactly the same as its Darigold counterpart.

I happily paid the deposit on the bottles and brought home whipping cream, half-and-half, and 2 gallons of cream-top milk, that's milk that has not been homogenized, so the cream floats to the top.

  • I get fresher milk.
  • My local grocery store and a local family of farmers get all my milk money.
  • The landfill does not get any more plastic milk jugs from my house.

Now its just organic local chickens that I am wishing for.


egg happiness

It has taken me five years, but at last I have found a source of organic farm-fresh eggs. One of the ladies in our home-school group has extra eggs and lives directly on My Gift's commute route. When she has a dozen, she calls, hubby swings by her mailbox, and fresh eggs from happy ducks and chickens arrive at my house.

My goal is to just say no to industrialized food.
Our beef comes from cow who grazes the field up the street. I buy flour from the man that mills it who buys the grain from the farmer that grows it. Now if I can just find a milk supply and an affordable source for chickens that are hormone and horror-story free . . .


turkey soup

We cooked our practice turkey on the grill last week (speaking of turkeys, remember to thaw yours) and I casually made a soup that we all agree must be made again, and often. Here is is, lest I forget what I did.

Turkey Noodle Dumpling Soup

Boil down what is left of a turkey. Drain off the broth and then when the turkey is cool enough, pick off the meat. Pop the broth and the turkey meat back into a large pot.

In a skillet, saute together:
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1-2 large onions - diced
2 large carrots, sliced into pennies

When very soft and fragrant, add to the broth pot. Simmer for a couple of hours.

Shortly before serving, add:
any leftover gravy to pot
1-2 C cooked egg noodles (we had some leftover)

In a bowl, combine:
1 C flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t parsley
1/2 t salt
1/2 t sugar

Whip together, and then add to the dry goods (do not overmix):
1/2 C moo
1 egg

Drop spoonfuls of dumpling batter into the gently simmering soup. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for another 10 minutes.

For the kids, I pour a little milk into their bowls before ladling in the soup. This cools it a bit for them and adds a bit more milk to their diet. If you want to add milk before the dumplings, scald it first so that it won't separate when heated.



The Power of God

May the strength of God pilot us,
May the power of God preserve us,
May the wisdom of God instruct us,
May the hand of God protect us,
May the way of God direct us,
May the shield of God defend us,
May the host of God guard us
against snares of evil
and the temptations of the world.

~ St. Patrick

from The Wisdom of the Celts, compiled by David Adam



favicon weirdness

What little image do you see next to my the :: Adventures in Daily Living :: in the menu up top? You should see my favicon - the little cartoon picture of me. But for some reason, on my computer, I see Mary's (Owlhaven) favicon on my web address. I have no idea why; do you?



Friday Poetry: Autumn Leaves

Here is another poem by Aileen Fisher found in I See A Poem.

Autumn Leaves

One of the nicest beds I know
isn't a bed of soft white snow,
isn't a bed of cool green grass
after the noisy mowers pass,
isn't a bed of yellow hay
making me itch of half a day --
but autumn leaves in a pile that high,
deep, and smelling like fall, and dry.
That's the bed where I like to lie
and watch the flutters of fall go by.
~ Aileen Fisher

. . . flutters of fall.

Here is the coding if you want a button with a link to this week's round-up.

:: this post is part of the Friday Poetry roundup hosted by Holly Cupala.


:: one year ago today: our refuge and strength
:: two years ago today: more lovin''


Ore Ida's Steam n Mash Potatoes

As a member of SheSpeaks, I occasionally get a sample of a new product to try. The most recent was Ore-Ida®'s Steam n' Mash™ Russet Potatoes.

For 3-4 bucks, depending on where you shop, you can pick up a 24 oz (1 lb 8 oz) bag of frozen peeled and chunked potatoes with a little bit of salt and some additives (flavoring and preservatives). You then microwave them, mash them, add butter and milk, and you are good to go.

On the table they looked, smelled, and tasted exactly like real mashed potatoes, because they are actually real mashed potatoes. They were yummy and we gobbled them up. No complaints there.

I had a little bit of trouble with the microwaving, as some parts of the bag remained frozen whilst others were cooked to mush, this in spite of the fact that my microwave does indeed rotate.

My chief complaint though, is price. I can buy a 50 pound bag of potatoes for $5.00 if I buy off the farm. Even if I go to a grocery store, potatoes are cheap. You can have them delivered from Huge Idaho Potato for about $1.09 a pound, including shipping! Of course these ones are not peeled or chopped, as the Ore-Ida ones are, but really, how hard is that?

In fact, if you are willing to pay an extra 2-3 dollars a pound to have them peeled and chopped, offer the work to your kid. They will learn a useful skill and you will at least keep your hard-earned dollars under your own roof.

So, though they were tasty, I really don't see the need for them either in my own life, or in our community. This is one more example of food being turned into a product that requires assembly, packaging, storage, marketing, shipping, and more storage. For what?

I'm sorry Ore Ida. Would you like me to send the free masher back?


:: one year ago today: Ron Paul in the news and U.S. Constitution - Article 1: Section 1 and Greek Potatoes


works for me: Thanksgiving Checklist

I survive with lists. Here is my checklist for Thanksgiving. Yours will vary depending on what you are serving, whether or not you are having other people bring stuff, and whether or not you feel comfortable putting your guests on task. But for what it is worth, here is my big list of things to do and when to do them.

The Great Thanksgiving List
because proper preparation and planning prevents poor performance!

at least 1 week before
1. order brine
2. purchase turkey
3. if you are cooking a turkey for the first time, or trying a new method, do a practice turkey
4. press leaves for table decorations
5. polish silver
6. make & freeze pie crusts
7. finalize & delegate menu
8. clean oven
9. confirm table coverings
10. collect table decorations
11. confirm that your turkey fits in your pan
12. confirm that you have a working food thermometer

weekend before
1. clean house
2. make duty cards: door host, coffee sergeant, appetizer server, table waiters, before dinner kitchen tidier, sous chef, table clearer, after dinner kitchen tidier, garbage taker-outer, dessert server, after dessert kitchen tidier. Folks draw one card on arrival and that is their duty for the day (I assign some of them as I see fit).
3. timeline food prep
4. wash living room & dining room windows
5. figure out turkey thawing schedule
6. empty front hall closet and confirm available hangers

1. make mashed potatoes
2. roast pumpkins
3. make pumpkin soup
4. clean off all ancillary surfaces and tables

1. brine big turkey
2. set up tables
3. set tables
4. set out and label serving platters & utensils
5. set out extra platters and serving bowls for guest use
6. mix up turkey rub
7. make dressing
8. make pumpkin black bean casserole
9. mix up pecan pie filling
10. stage apple dumplings
11. lay in fire
12. clean house again
13. move living room furniture to accommodate extra chairs
14. filter and chill water for table

1. remove potatoes from fridge
2. rub down turkey if you didn't brine
3. run & empty dishwasher
4. confirm garbage can is empty
5. sweep front porch and walk
6. stage tea station
7. sniff check animal litter boxes just in case

1. make a thermos of coffee & prep coffee maker for next round
2. make sure you have eaten something sustaining

1. confirm small lamps and candles are on/lit
2. recruit valet for parking
3. confirm dishwasher is empty
4. turn on coffee pot
5. close and latch bunny room door against visiting dogs and small children.

Now, what is on your list that I forgot to put onto mine?

:: my other
Works for Me posts.
:: one year ago today: The U.S. Constitution - Preamble and the very least you need to know about Dr. Ron Paul and Thanksgiving Weekend Menu and turkey thawing
:: two years ago today: Who Loves You?



your opinion please

I want to install a top 10 posts feature, but I can't decide which ten to include. I've got the How to Help a Family in a Medical Crisis post on the list, and the Writing & Gardening. Without over-thinking it, what posts come to mind as really good ones? Don't bother going to find it, just put in the comments whatever scraps you remember and I'll go from there.




Did I ever mention that it is rather pretty where I live? This is the view off our front porch. I love the play of light in the late fall and early winter.


:: one year ago today: Thanks Giving and holiday strata and Ron Paul & Sarah Palin
:: two years ago today: The Menu and We got the power!


Greek Potatoes

I've shared these before, but they are worth another posting. This time you even get a picture.

Greek Potatoes

Combine in a deep flat pan
6 potatoes, cubed
1/2 C lemon juice
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 T olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
2 t sea salt
2 t oregano
1/2 t black pepper

3 C hot water

at 475 for 1 & 1/2 hours, no lid.
Stir now and then and -- in the first hour only -- add more water if you need to.

Sprinkle with
chopped fresh parsley & a wee dash of paprika

:: super yummy with feta pie, pita, and hummus.

~Suzanne:: one year ago today: car report and Ron Paul: Hope for America


turkey on the BBQ grill

We are conducting a feasibility study on BBQing the turkey. We have 27 people coming to Thanksgiving Dinner (in case you missed the gazillion other times I mentioned this) and we think we need a two-turkey meal.

I rubbed it with a mixture of chopped fresh rosemary and thyme, kosher salt, montreal steak seasoning, and olive oil. Then we popped it onto the grill. We ran the heat up to about 350 and then fiddled with the burners to try to hold the heat there. We basted it a few times. At 12 pounds, it took about 3.5 hours to cook. It looked good and it tasted good. As this was just a test turkey, we didn't tie the legs up, so the pic isn't as fetching as it could be.

:: one year ago today: today's news and Friday Poetry: Robert Frost's To A Mouse and my translation
:: two years ago today: boom BOOM out go the lights


from the archives

Too busy grading and mulling over local politics and fiddling with html and looking after kids to write anything interesting. Here are some bits from the past:

:: one year ago today: cold and ack and Man, Economy, & State.


Tea Fire News

Though the fire burned quite near the pretty little chapel, the chapel did not burn. Here are some good photos of the Westmont campus after the Tea Fire.

I got to talk with my niece a little bit this evening. Her dorm did not burn, though the home of a close friend burned to the ground. He is left with nothing but the clothes he was wearing. How strange it must be to go that quickly from being a person who has stuff to a person that has nothing. Imagine walking out your door and never seeing any of your things again. In a way, it would be a little bit freeing. But in another way I wouldn't much like it.

The book you were reading? Gone.
The comfy bathrobe? Gone.
The groceries in the fridge? Gone.
That end table with the nifty storage? Gone.
Financial records? Gone.
Favorite sweatshirt? Gone.

How unnerving it would be.


:: one year ago today: how to sell on e-bay and biopsy results
:: two years ago today: not quite dead . . .


Santa Barbara Tea Fire: Westmont College

See this pretty little chapel? It's at Westmont College, a pretty little college in Santa Barbara California. My Mom attended Westmont, and now our niece is there too. You have heard about her, actually from her, before: Lakme's Flower Duet.

Alas, according to the news reports, this little chapel is ablaze, as are several residence halls. The students, my niece included, are sheltering-in-place in the concrete gymnasium. My sister has heard from her daughter several times this evening - they expect to spend the night in the gym. Apparently they don't realize that there are fire-fighters on campus and the buildings are burning (including Clark dorm, according to this guy). I hope that my niece merely has to endure a night or two of sleeping in a shelter and then it's back to school as usual.

Independent reporter Chris Meagher is on scene at the main gate of Westmont College in Montecito. Windy conditions are exacerbating the Tea Fire, which authorities say started early this evening in an area north of Westmont in an area known as the Tea Garden. According to Meagher's latest report, the chapel and several residences are on fire at Westmont, it is very windy, and embers are flying around everywhere.
It's such a pity, as it is such a pretty campus and she has been so happy there. My Gift From A Generous God grew up in California. He says that the news reports and pictures always make it look worse then it is. Here's hoping he is right.


Link to map of Westmont campus.

Latest from Westmont:


Conditions on campus improved to the point where staff were able to get food from the Dining Commons and bring it to the gym, where the community is sheltered in place.

Conditions in the area may make it possible now to leave the campus for a Red Cross shelter, but that option is still being explored.

Firefighters are currently attempting to put out several fires at Clark Hall. Structures lost to or significantly damaged by fire include the Physics Building, the 'old Math" building, Bauder Hall and the Quonset Huts.

Again, we are grateful that no one has been hurt on campus, and everyone is safely in the gymnasium and in good spirits.

And the latest from my sis: beloved niece and friends has been picked up from campus by family member of one of friends and is out of the fire area.

PS. And the pretty photo of the pretty chapel? The credit for that goes to my second cousin, Brad Elliott. uhm, Brad, is it okay if I use your pic?

:: one year ago today: collapsible blogrolls
:: two years ago today: ACK

Blog Template Conversion

Okay, so I am about to do it - I'm going to install a whole new template and try to preserve my widgets.

START - 9:54
Step 1. In 'Edit HTML' view, download full template (in case I have to revert to the last working copy).
Step 2. Using Notepad copy both the full template (with widgets expanded) and each and every widget. Switch over to 'Page Elements View' open the widgets in HTML view and then cut and past them into notepad. Why are we doing this? Because the template download just saves the placeholders for the widgets. The actual widget content -- the coding -- is contained in the little boxes accessible only via Page Elements view.

There will be some widgets that don't let you see the HTML. Don't worry about these. Either blogger will manage them or they are easy to reinstall. I'm just trying to not misplace any of the custom HTML that I am using.

I realize that when I install the new template, all my widgets will be deleted. But I can easily cut-and-paste them back from Notepad, so I'm okay with this.
STOP 10:19

Download neo, locate and open with Notepad. Click on Layout, then edit HTML and then cut and paste neo in from Notepad. Now my blog looks like this:

Oh my. Second thoughts are settling in. But, I can fix this.

10:31: From within HTML view, find this:< and change it to say maxwidgets='3' showaddelement='yes'. This will allow more items in the top of the blog (maximum number is now set to 3) and in the Page Elements view there will be an option to add widgets. Save.

hint: you are using Firefox, aren't you? From the 'edit' menu, use the 'find' feature.

10:46 - but most of the time was spent getting Picasa to 'see' my screenshot for this blog-post.
Switch to Page Elements view. Be happy the the 'Add a Gadget' option is now available in the headers. I'm adding an HTML gadget to hold my rotating quotes.

10:52 - that worked. If you are wondering why I am staying up late, I can never sleep on nights that I teach cause I am all jazzed up and yet I am too mushy to grade more papers. So there.

Now, the rotating banners worked from within my old template, not from within a gadget, so I'll have to go find them in the Notepad copy of the old template.

OK, got it. I picked up everything between widget and /widget. I'll past it into the Neo template and take a screenshot.

That worked. The colors are ghastly, but that comes later.

Now, for layout. I liked having the new posts load on the left so that there was something to read while the rest loaded, but if neo is as fast as they say, that may no longer matter. I'll leave the columns where they are for now.

Neither the peek-a-boo posts or the comments are working. Let's fix those next. Peek-a-boo. Hmmmm, how did that work again? I'll just go reinstall it from the source: http://hackosphere.blogspot.com/2006/09/expandable-posts-with-peekaboo-view.html .

[took some time off to snuggle with my poor old dog and chat with my honey]

11:29 Peek-a-boo reinstalled and working

I can't stand the colors any longer.

11:37 better, don't you think?

I gave up on documenting the process, but it wasn't too bad and it seems A LOT faster to me now. Kim? Kate? What do you think?