Christmas 2.0

>> Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yesterday we drove to my folks house in the late morning, had lunch, bummed around, had Christmas dinner and opened presents. My folks gave me a largish ceramic anole lizard for the porch and the CorningWare I wanted, like this picture except all the dishes were circular instead of ovals:

Then we watched Prince Caspian, which Lanse had given me for Christmas. My parents don't go to movies, so when something good comes out we get it and then show it to them. I also just realized that they have the same number of stairs up to their bonus room as there are to the treasure room in Cair Paravel (16). Lanse says I earned some geek points with that comment.

Today we got up, hung around for a while, then mom and I went and bought shoes for me. Rack Room Shoes seems to be the best bet for me in the last few years; I got my (now broken) sandals there a year ago October, and today we walked in, found two pair that fit, bought and left. Here they are:

Every day shoes
Sunday/dressy shoes

I'm so glad the shoe debacle of '08 is finally over. Next I have to initiate the jeans debacle of '09.

So after the shoes, we came back and had lunch, I did my homework that's due tomorrow and some of what's due on Sunday, and then we headed out to Books-a-Million to meet up with our friend Marnie. YAY MARNIE! We met Marnie at college, she graduated in Lanse's class. She lives in a North-West suburb of Chicago now. We haven't seen her in a few years, and this was way too short... we only were able to stay about an hour and a half. But it was still very good to see her.

Then we got back to the house to find dinner ready and Lanse's cousin Sam arrived. Sam had Christmas in Atlanta with his folks, and is driving back to his place in Virginia, and is staying the night here. As I type, the guys are playing Fantastic Worlds, my folks are heading to bed (my poor Daddy is ill!) and we'll just be kickin' around until we crash. Oh, the joys of the holiday season!

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Random thoughts...

>> Sunday, December 28, 2008


Jungle Spook

  • I've never understood having to memorize names of people. I talked to someone who took the teacher certification test recently and she said all you really need to know (here in SC) are the people, who defined what theory, and write a bunch of practical application essays. But seriously, how many classroom teachers are going to be in the middle of a situation in which she needs to implement a theory she learned, and finds it absolutely necessary to know whether it was Locke or Plato or Addams? Names of theorists matter squat in the classroom when you're in a position to care about educational theory in a hurry. If you don't know the techniques, you can't apply anything you've learned.
  • It is December 28, and it's 72 degrees. I'm on the porch with my laptop, sitting on my chaise lounge with Spook, and my right arm is starting to sunburn. I really wish I could get used to this, but I just can't seem to manage yet.
  • Fireplace logs, of the pressed rectangle clean-burning kind, are fun because they're fast and easy, but is still missing the same elements we find missing in a gas fire: no crackle, no chasing down the embers that spit out onto the carpet, no pile of writhing coals to watch, no wood smoke smell. However, it also doesn't have the release of molds and allergens into the house or the potential to burn down the house quite as easily. I'm trying to decide if it's an acceptable compromise in light of those things.
  • I don't know if I ever mentioned, but the corn casserole worked great in the crock pot! I also had to make up my own green bean casserole recipe, since the can of mushroom soup was nasty. I think in the end it tasted great.
  • I hate shoes. And jeans. Above all, I hate popular fashion. The one pair of shoes whose shape looked like they really might have worked, I didn't even try on since someone in production had decided that plastering them with plastic Miley Cyrus faces was a good idea.
  • No news on the adoption front yet. Still haven't gotten a call for inspection scheduling. I emailed Bert yesterday and we'll see if she can't start making some waves.
  • My brother came down with Mono and stayed in bed over Christmas. At the same time, Kaylee got some sort of fungal infection rash all over her body that he calls Jungle Rot, and so far the only thing that's helping her feel better is smearing her with athlete's foot cream. But at least they're both on the mend now.
  • Lanse is wonderful. I had a rotten section of the day yesterday (note shoe comments), and he brought me food and built a fire for me and snuggled me and did all kinds of lovely things. I figured he was just concerned about my mood yesterday, but then he brought me coffee this morning. He's apparently just an all-around great guy.
  • I had a dream in which we were exploring a house we bought and lived in but somehow hadn't looked at it all yet. That was one really rockin' house. I should try to draw it. I miss my architecture program; it got lost in the move and now the company doesn't make it anymore, and doesn't even make a program that runs the file type, so now I have a couple thousand floor plans I can never look at. *sniff*
  • I have a paper and a discussion post to write today. I also have to have read the stuff about which I must discuss. Bah.
  • Finally, for your viewing enjoyment, Colin plays with the jingle mouse toy. It's a fuzzy, now really-beat-up toy mouse around whose tail we've tied a blue jingle bell. They all love it in turns. This is a wmv file, I don't know what you need to make it work. It's maybe two minutes long, I'm not sure. I hope you can see it... the back flip at the beginning is rather impressive.

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The flames of love...

>> Saturday, December 27, 2008

We have lived in this house for a year and three months and had not yet used the fireplace. Having been given instructions by a home inspector on fire burning in a pre-fab wood fireplace and finding a large box of starter logs and two long-burning fireplace logs, we finally did the deed!


Our first fire!


Lanse gets it started and then basks in the glow.

The starter brick went pretty quickly-ish, but the fireplace log burned for two and a half hours. It really didn't drop any ashes until Lanse came to shuffle it around as it was dying out and it collapsed. The flames were really neat, so I had some camera fun. It's a fire Rorschach test! I labeled with mine (and, in one place, Lanse's, I'm sure you'll never guess which one); feel free to leave a comment on what you see. (I hope it's large enough to read... click to get more details)


After lots of snuggling and some hot cooca, the fire started dying out and we had some fun with embers:





After a severely depressing late afternoon, this was simply the best ending to any day I've had for a while. Thanks, Love, for catering to my fire whims.

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Christmas 2008

>> Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas everyone!

We went to Green Dragon (the game store) yesterday afternoon; Lanse played a game, I did some homework on my laptop. I also secretly got stocking stuffers for Lanse and filled the stocking last night and he said I was very good at sneaky and he was very surprised this morning! Yay! We went to the 10:00 p.m. Christmas Eve service at church, which was very pretty but kind of disappointing because it was the normal Sunday morning litergy with extra music and flowers. I'd expected something very different after having talked with people who've been there for years.

This morning I got up first and ran coffee, then Lanse got up and we sat in the living room in our pajamas and drank coffee and opened presents. He liked his stocking stuffers, and I got him the graphic novel version of Terry Pratchett's first two Discworld novels. He got me Prince Caspian movie and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with the holographic cover. Ooooh.

As part of my "I love you" present I made the most enormous omelet with bacon and cheese and saute'd veggies.

My love gift to Lanse:


While I was cooking, he tidied the kitchen and dining room and living room. Then we ate, and he cleaned up breakfast, and I put our Christmas dinner into the crockpot. While I was finishing that, I looked up to see him MOPPING. (No, we don't own a proper mop. He did all the hardwood floors in the house like the picture.) He then informed me that he had cleaned the bathrooms as well.

Lanse's love gift to me:


A Bible verse came to mind (butchered by me): "Greater love has no man than this, that he clean his whole house for his wife." (Adapted from John 15:13). I feel so loved!

I think we may watch the Narnia movies later, now that we have both of them. So far it's been a great Christmas!

Happy and enjoyable Holy Days to everyone from us!


Us, midnight, Christmas morning.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

>> Wednesday, December 24, 2008

That just about says it all. YAY JESUS!!

Hope your day is fantabulous!

Love,
Jess, Lanse, Colin, Spook & Kira

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Disturbing dreams...

>> Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I suppose I could attribute it to generalized stress, but I've felt more stressed out than this before, and didn't have such graphic dreams. I'm not going to give specific details, mostly because I don't want to relive them, but I remember pretty much every freaky detail. Suffice it to say in the last month or so I've been through people burning alive, family members gone missing during explosions, pets happily feasting on their own innards, being kidnapped by cults and cut off from the world, missing (as in looking for them and they're not where they're supposed to be) or being betrayed by friends, and various bodily injuries ending in certain death (though I wake up before the death part). Poison's been a favorite. I'm pretty sure there were plane crashes in there too. And there've been at least three dreams of me trying to get home and something bad happens in transit.

I'm starting to want to not go to sleep anymore. I'm just glad I don't have insomnia and still get tired enough to sleep anyway.

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Kaylee, baggin' it.

>> Monday, December 22, 2008

YAY BABY!

We're talking about resilience in school, and I just love how when Kaylee falls over there's not a peep out of her. This girl's got it, I'm tellin' ya!

Supervised plastic bag

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Graduation

>> Friday, December 19, 2008

I just discovered that Walden's commencement ceremonies take place in Minneapolis in the summer, and Dallas in the winter. If they're still doing that in 2011, somebody may get the honor of putting up with us!

Right now I'm scheduled for my last class to start Winter term of 2010, which runs from December 1 through mid-January of 2011. However, I only have one 5 credit class for that term, which means I may not qualify for financial aid (need to have 6 credits). Therefore, if I double up my classwork in Fall term II, classes will end at Thanksgiving of 2010.

Plan 1 puts me attending in Minneapolis, Plan 2 puts me attending in Dallas. All we can do is wait and see! That's two years from now, a lot can change. But it's exciting for the moment.

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Miracle Chicken, and other fowl things

I was so impressed with the results of the last time I crock-potted a whole chicken, that I've done it again! We had dinner Wednesday night with Donna Rae and her grandson Tanner, so I put a chicken in with some orange juice and rosemary (and S&P and garlic salt and some onions) and we had it with mashed sweet potatoes and green beans and warm home baked bread.

Oh yeah, the bread was interesting because we ran out of regular flour 1/2 cup short, so we supplemented it with ground almond flour. The bread is really good, it's a bit more holey/airy than usual, but I don't know if that's the fault of the almond flour or not.

For the chicken, I went back through my blog posts to see what else I did with it the first time, and wouldn't you know it, I discovered that I'd cooked a Miracle Chicken! Here's a quote from the original chicken post: "We're now going on Day 3 of leftovers; the first leftover day we just ate the chicken again with a veggie, yesterday I made stoup (see next post), and today I think I may just have turkey sandwiches for lunch."

No one else noticed that my chicken miraculously turned into a turkey! Woo!!

For this week, I've played around with more chicken things. Last night I made a sauce with orange juice and curry powder and we poured that over chicken on rice. Today I've tried to make the stoup again, though I used a little less green pepper, more chives (which are actual herb chives, not green onions which I used last time), and instead of rice I put in a small box of Rice and Vermicelli that we got somewhere. The R&V came with a spice packet, and I wanted the little red/orange bits I've always thought were carrots, but then it turned out that most of the spice packet was beef broth. I put about half that packet in, so we've got beef and chicken broth in it. The whole thing looks wonderful though, and I can't wait for dinner!

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Wonderland Released! and other Cool Lanse news

>> Wednesday, December 17, 2008

First:
Lanse has been working (playing) with Kevin L. Anderson in England to develop a role playing game based on Alice in Wonderland.

A bit of explanation for non-gamer people, typically RPGs come with two different kinds of books. First you need the setting book, which explains the rules regarding the environment in which the game is played. For example, in a Star Trek game this would have the rules of space travel and the Federation and the USS Enterprise rules and information about Klingons and Ferengi and all the other races. Then there are any number of adventure or scenario books providing guidelines for the person running the game about the specific place the characters are going today or maybe what they're looking for in a quest, which in our Star Trek example could be some little-known planet on the edge of Klingon space, or an outline for which lovely lady lives on this particular planet who will (again) sweep Captain Kirk off his feet and the ways in which she then takes advantage of him in order to rule the world. That sort of thing. Think of it as Series details versus Episode details.

So Kevin and Lanse have been writing both types of books about Wonderland. It's Kevin's brainchild, and he wrote the Egg of Seven Parts book first (an adventure book), as an adventure for Wonderland No More (the setting book). Lanse did some editing on Eo7P, but didn't write any of it.

The book has now been released and is available for purchase!! I can personally say that this setting is totally cool and you must play it now. I have not played Eo7P but there is a different adventure in the same setting called The Crown of Alice that's available as a free download that our gaming group in New York ran as a playtest before its release, and it was very very cool.

Summary:
Setting book: The rules for the environment of the game; the rules for the TV Series; today's example: Wonderland No More

Adventure book: The rules for the particular adventure or journey the group is on today; the rules for the TV Episode; today's examples: The Crown of Alice (free download), Egg of Seven Parts (Buy yours today!)

Finally:
Fact 1: Lanse has had a lot of fun in the past making Mad Science miniature terrain and figures, which totally rocks. He's rather well known in gaming circles now for his home-brew mad science stuff.

Fact 2: Lanse's user name for a long time on Reaper's message boards was Herr Oberfroschmeister (Mr. Super Frog Man, or something like that).

Recent Cool Thing: New Reaper Mini from Jason Wiebe: Professor L.T. Froschmeister! No, it doesn't look at all like him, but it's a Mad Scientist with his name! THANKS REAPER!!


My man totally rocks. *proud*

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Holiday Party

>> Thursday, December 11, 2008

We went to a Christmas party tonight. It was our first Hoity Toity party where everyone was dressed nice and the beverages were wine or wassail and we all gathered around the piano and sang old Christmas songs and talked politely while daintily seated in the parlour. Everyone there was at least fifteen years older than us. But we were invited. It was... strange. So beyond my
comfort zone. But fun too.

It's really strange how we both feel we don't really fit with people in our own generation. Between Africa and the Iowa farm, both of our parents (my mom, Lanse's folks) were raised more like other people's grandparents, and therefore we were raised more like their peers than our peers. My friend Cathy says that we're 'Old Souls'. But tonight was the first time in my life that I attempted to fit in socially with the next level up, so to speak. I think I appreciate the level of thought and introspection more, but obviously have a lot less common ground with cultural references and not having kids yet. It will definitely take a few more tries before I get comfortable with it. But we did enjoy ourselves!

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Meandering (oranges?)

>> Tuesday, December 9, 2008


A meandering orange, apparently from Texas somewhere.

A few thoughts recently thought:

1. There was a conversation about Judaism on the BBS I chat on, and I realized something. Not being specifically one ethnicity with specific heritage traditions in a racial or locational sense, (the way Germans in Minnesota tend to around Christmas, for example...) I have been filling that need for heritage with the understanding that Judaism and Old Testament Israel is my family's cultural heritage. I do understand that there's actually a Rabbi somewhere back in my mother's family line, but I haven't taken the time to deduce if it stayed completely within the maternal line (therefore making me Jewish according to non-reformed Jewish tradition). However, my taking on the historical Jewish culture as my own personal history stems entirely from the fact that I became a Christian so early in life, that it's been as strong a part of who I am as being Norwegian is for my friends who re-enact Santa Lucia Day. The Jews being the first official God's People, being one of His people as well means that they are directly related to me somehow. Anyway, I don't feel I explained it well, but I found it interesting. I've learned in my studies of human development that everyone needs to have an emotional bond to a past, a story of the history of the family. Judaism is one of mine, even though I'm (probably) not Jewish. Weird.

2. My cousin sent us photographs of the demolition of my Grandparents' house in Wheaton. I haven't looked yet, because I'll be too worked up. I had a depression relapse for a week or so when I heard the college, after having bought it from my Grandparents, finally decided to knock it down. Apparently it was a tough decision; it was a fantastic house for off-campus housing, but it was in the way of something else they're going to build and it cost more to move than to knock it down and build a new one. I lived in the house for the first few years of my life, but came back a few times every year to visit for holidays and things. The house was behind Wheaton College's dining hall, (it was there first, and the campus grew up around it) and it was my escape and refuge during my crazy years at college. I have a lot of good memories of that house and my family there; all of my earliest memories are in that house, with just a couple of clear memories in the house in St. Charles before we moved to MN. Obviously, this photo is not one of my memories, but it's at the house. Four generations of Long family women in front of the house. I'm the smallest one. :)


3. Christmas plans are all over the place, but narrowing down. We are not going to Florida. My parents are going to Arkansas, but only for a few of the days Lanse already took off of work. So we may do something out there off-day anyway. Unfortunately, school stops for no one holiday, at least not intentionally. I had the week of Thanksgiving off by coincidence, but I have a discussion post due Christmas Eve.

4. Why I was having trouble getting my reading homework done:



The end.... for now.

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Chicken Creation



Today's experiment is in the crock pot. I put in two chicken parts, smeared them with canned cranberry sauce, coated it with ground almonds, and nestled some rosemary in around it. Also dropped some cranberry sauce in the bottom of the pot.

Here's hoping!

UPDATE: It was acceptable. Probably won't do it often, but the chicken was really nice and moist and the rosemary flavor was great. The flavors overall didn't balance very well for me... like, when I ate a bite of the interior part it was all chicken flavor, but when I got near the edge it was all cranberry. They didn't mingle. But they do "Go". Maybe I have an eating-method problem; I'm not very good at analyzing flavors beyond "Mmmmm" and "Ewwww".

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Cimmanimanimanimanim....

>> Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's such a fun word. That's how I say it, sometimes, but then Lanse gives me that frowny schoolteacher look over his glasses, and I apologize. Cinnamon. It's what's in the oven!

I found a low-carb recipe for snickerdoodles. I'm hoping those are the soft and chewy cinnamon Christmas cookie, because I don't like those hard crispy ones. I think those are ginger snaps, so I'm staying away from them. We'll find out how they taste in about... ten minutes, probably. If they're cool enough.

I got the recipe off of Christmas-Cookies.com

"Low-Carb Snickerdoodles


(photo by me - after they came out of the oven)

Ground almonds create an "almond flour" which is a wonderful substitute for wheat flour for
many baking recipes.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups ground almonds
1 cup granulated Splenda
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons granulated Splenda
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add half the ground almonds, 1 cup Splenda, egg,
vanilla, baking soda and cream of tartar. Beat until well combined. Beat in remaining ground
almonds. Cover and chill in bowl for 1 hour. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, combine
the 2 tablespoons Splenda and the cinnamon; mix well. Roll chilled dough into 1-inch balls.
Gently roll each ball in the cinnamon-Splenda mixture to coat and place 2 inches apart on an
ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned at the edges. Carefully remove from pan to cooling rack to cool completely.

Note: 1.5 net carbs per cookie
Servings: 26" [not 26 inches, that's the end of the quotation. :) ]

As I was typing this, my 10 minute timer went off. The cookies still look really wet and soggy and haven't spread out enough, and are only brown by virtue of the fact that cinnamon is brown. So I'm giving it another five and we'll see what happens. My oven's been cooking crookedly lately. Sigh. Granted, the oven came with the house (which is 11 years old) so it may be on its last legs.

Update: They're good. I should have followed the directions and taken them out at 12 minutes even though they looked wet and sloppy. Now they're a bit crisp. They're very dry, which is true of my Mupcake recipe too, which also uses Almonds for flour and lots of butter and Splenda. So I think that's part of what you get. They taste lovely while eating them though. I'm starting to taste more and more the aftertaste of Splenda, which I didn't taste at all when I first started using it. So I may just try making these with sugar one day just to see. Or maybe half and half.

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December?

>> Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holy cow... how'd it get to be December already??

Thanksgiving was really relaxing, over all. We went to my folks' in Charlotte, but we'd had a huge Thanksgiving to-do when my brother and fam were there a couple of weeks prior, so we just kinda chilled out, had a regular-sized meal (but with nice dishes and appropriate traditional items, just not as many), watched a lot of movies, did a couple of my favorite Christmas puzzles. Went out driving with my dad just to drive around, hung out with mom watching movies, read three of four of the Wrinkle in Time books. Lanse painted a lot and hung out with the local gamers he knows from Rattrap Productions. Pretty relaxing.

Also, FYI... there's a new post on our adoption blog.

I've been fascinated to see via the live feed gadget who visits my blog! I'm really curious.... Chelmsford, Essex, who are you? Feel free to leave me a comment! :)

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Sickness

>> Sunday, November 23, 2008

Blargh. I hate being sick. I was sick pretty much non-stop in Rochester, except for the months of July and August. I assumed that I was probably allergic to something which is what started my colds. I have a 'sickness routine': first I sneeze, or get a shock of chill somehow. Sometimes this is 'sudden change in the weather' related. Then my throat hurts, I start to get the sinus gross, then it morphs into a nasty head cold. It drains into my lungs, and around the time I start not being able to breathe at night I also start to lose my voice. That's the sequence of 'the cold'. From there it becomes bronchitis, probably 99% of the time, and maybe 50% of the time proceeds into pneumonia. In NY this happened a minimum of three times a year, but maxed out at six during the 2005-2006 school year. Yes, I was diagnosed with pneumonia three times in ten months (the other three just stopped at bronchitis).

So far, in the year and a third we've lived in SC, I've only been sick once.... until now. The morning after the parking lot flood wading my sore throat kicked in; I managed to get almost entirely better before going to visit Kaylee, who was also drippy... but then after that trip it got a lot worse, and my mom and Kaylee's mom both got really sick with the same thing too. We're also having nighttime lows in the 20s, which came on suddenly and is very odd for this time of year here. As of tomorrow, we will have been home from there for two weeks, and I'm just now reaching the 'not breathing at night/lost voice' stage. I don't know if I've been sick then better then sick, or if it all counts as one big cold... if the latter, I've now been sick for almost a month.

It's around 1:30 in the afternoon, and I'm just now finishing up my morning breakfast and internet routine. I feel bad, I was supposed to assist with the preschool Sunday School and we slept through it. I need to find a way to contact the lead teacher for when this happens. But I'm gonna be curled up here with tea and cat and a paper to write, crack out my inhaler device, drug up and moan a lot. *heh* Maybe it'll help.

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Feline Interlopers

>> Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our neighborhood has a lot of stray cats, and through the first few months of us living here, they all wanted to stop by and check out the New Blood, ie: our cats. They would saunter into the yard, and our boys would spring into a huge territorial hissy fit, knocking over lamps and things running from window to window, and it all tends to end in Spook attacking the closest cat he can find who's usually Colin. Of course, the minute I started a photo record of kitten interlopers, they stopped coming through during the day (when I could photograph them).

Earlier this afternoon Kira and Spook were on the screen porch when I heard Spook starting in on his low throated territory yowl. I go out to see a beautiful Siamese standing just short of the porch steps... and another big fat cat on the fence on the other side of the yard. I can't get out the door to run them off since Spook is sitting right there. Kira was on the chair just above Spook's head, and apparently had been silent up to that point. Then she suddenly yowled at the Siamese, Spook went 'CLOSE CAT!' and full on attacked her.

I've never been that close to a fully-armed screaming cat fight. It was pretty intense! Lanse came out (being stronger and having longer arms) and brought them in; Spook had cornered Kira under the chaise lounge, but when I inspected them later, she had more of his fur in her claws than he had hers. *heh* No harm done, apparently, just freaked me right the heck out. We sequestered them in their own rooms until they calmed down, and then I kept them inside for about an hour.

After that hour passed, I scanned the yard, didn't see any cats, so I let them out. As I walked out with them I looked out to the play set to see this:



And in they came again. Lanse went out (being tall) and chased this one off. In case you've not been keeping track, that was three neighbor cats causing a riot at our house in one afternoon. I think a little later on one of us should probably go out there and sprinkle used cat litter around the yard so as to claim the territory.

I do wish I'd gotten a picture of the Siamese. It was so pretty.

Aside from feline negotiations, I've also done a load and a half of laundry and am working on a project to print or save all the resource files from class for my teaching resources binder that I don't have yet.

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Scholastic honesty

I had part two of a paper due in Philosophies of Ed last week. Part of the assignment was, "At this stage in your journey, what questions should you ask about Child Development and learning and how could you go about answering them?" I procrastinated like crazy because in all honesty, I really don't know. I'm the type of person to recognize a need (my degree), gather as much information as possible (what I'm taught in class), head to the situation (a classroom) and test it out in action, and then ask questions with things that don't work. So I will absorb as much information on education as I can, go to the classroom and apply it, see where it doesn't work, and then gather more information based on the differences in environment and the individual children who don't fit with what I've learned.

I do the same thing with job interviews. Basic things like pay and job requirements are usually covered in the initial stuff, so I really don't ever have questions for them. I don't know enough about the job environment yet to know what else to ask.

So back to the paper; I decided that since I honestly couldn't answer the question, my overall grade was strong enough to just take a risk and say so. I wrote about how I have questions about my own education, but not really any about Child Development yet. It was four pages of lovely BS.

Here's the comment I received from my instructor on my paper:

"80/80! Why I enjoy reading your papers, Jess, is because you are not afraid to show you still have some learning to go. This paper truly says it well…that you still have work to go as far as developing a philosophy. In spite of not knowing exactly which area your career will be concentrated, you are taking the information from your classes and processing it into what you want to do in the future."

So basically, I just aced this assignment by extensively writing "I don't know".

I am so incredibly amused.

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Persistence

>> Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Early this afternoon I heard someone outside our house singing really loudly. Through the window I saw a black guy came up onto the porch and rang the bell, still singing. I asked Lanse to please get it this time since I was still in my pajamas. On the way to the bathroom, I heard him open the door, then "HEEEEEEEEEEEEY, BIG GUY!" Lanse said, "We're not interested," and shut the door while the guy was mid-sentence.

I came out and asked, "What was he selling?"

"It was the cleanser guy. He had a bottle of something pink."


Scary thought #1: He was excited, but mostly quiet and well-mannered yesterday. He was (from audio only) very loud and exuberant today. I'm becoming quite confident that I don't ever want to drink that cleanser.

Scary thought #2: He was here yesterday. I sent him away. He came back.

Scary thought #3: He was here yesterday, and thought I was alone in the house. He came back.

Maybe it's time to get a peep hole in the door.

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Mupcakes (Revisted)



The latest batch was divided into thirds.
  • The first are flat plain chocolate cookies (we ran out of mini muffin tins, so I poured the batter in the cupcake papers and just set them on a cookie sheet),
  • The second have pieces of Snickers bars in the middle. They kind of exploded slightly so that caramel came squirting out the top. Mmmmm.
  • The third have mashed up Thin Mint cookies, this time just in chunks and not ground into the almond base. I also added some extra mint (herb) to strengthen the flavor.
They are all very good, though I think I need to buy some mint extract or oil to really make the mint ones the best. The mint ones also didn't set well for some reason, but I think the heat in my oven is uneven. Lunch this afternoon cooked weird too.

Click for the Mupcake recipe.

I also decided I talk about these enough I want to have a good picture. I've never officially tried food photography before, so the Mupcakes and I did a photo shoot to see what the big deal is. There were four finalists, which went onto Flickr for some feedback. So far, the photo above is the favorite. I rather like it myself.

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Door-to-door sales

>> Monday, November 17, 2008

Just as I was drifting off into my nap someone knocked on the door. Shave-and-a-haircut, now that I think of it. It's a good thing he was amusing, since he woke me up.

He was an average-height black guy, early 20s, buzzed haircut, worn out and wrinkled (but clean) jeans. Fit the stereotype of a po' South'n black kid without a nickel, trying to make his way in the world purely through exuberance. (It's hard to know how to react to obviously seen stereotypes when living in a highly multi-cultural area.) He had a lot of energy, and a fast sales patter; though why he started with "I'm from Alabama and..." I'm not quite sure. Maybe South Carolinians are supposed to feel sorry for Alabamians.

He was selling a cleanser that he had developed himself. This 'homemade' cleanser was sort of pink. I could see it through the dollar-store spray bottle. He sprayed it on the glass on my door and buffed it with one of the oldest bathroom hand towels I've seen in a while. He showed me how it didn't streak or splotch. He explained that it had a special coating in it that worked into the glass so that fingers wouldn't leave prints. It also had a defogger, which he proved when he breathed and huffed on the glass right at my face level. Best of all, it's non-toxic!

And then he proceeded to drink it.

He was very nice and went away quietly when I explained we had no money in the house and were not in the market for cleaning supplies. But I worry about how many bottles of cleanser he may have drunk before he got his formula right...

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This made me giggle.

>> Friday, November 14, 2008

Apparently some company somewhere installed a security system that scanned employee's hands. There must have been an uproar, because they then issued a letter addressing the fact that no, they are not related in any way to the Mark of the Beast as found in the book of Revelations. Click here to read more!

The hand scanner of the Beast

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Battle Grapefruit

Having just reigned victorious in the battle against my lunch grapefruit (Blinding Squirt, natural weapon, +2 damage against diners; vs. Sharpened Spoon, +3 damage against grapefruits, bonus for Opposable Thumbs), I was again reminded that grapefruit are one of those foods for which most people hold strong opinion in one direction or the other.

So I hereby put it to my few, though highly important, readers:

Grapefruit: Yea or Nay?

Also, Pink/Red or Yellow/White?

Finally, Why?

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Hair cut

>> Thursday, November 13, 2008

I got a hair cut. Here's a couple of bad pix, before and after:



Thanks, Mom!

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Color Quizzes

The Ultimate Color Test


When you are at peace, you are: Giving and unselfish

When you are moved to act, you are: Courageous and resolute

When you are inspired, you are: Flexible and experimental

When your life is perfectly balanced, you are: Philosophical and expressive

Your life's purpose is: To find contentment




You Are a Red Crayon



Your world is colored with bright, vivid, wild colors.

You have a deep, complex personality - and you are always expressing something about yourself.

Bold and dominant, you are a natural leader. You have an energy that is intense... and sometimes overwhelming.

Your reaction to everything tends to be strong. You are the master of love-hate relationships.

Your color wheel opposite is green. Green people are way too mellow to understand what drives your energy.




Your Inner Color is Blue



Your Personality: Your natural warmth and intuition nurtures those around you. You are accepting and always follow your heart.

You in Love: Relationships are your top priority, and this includes love. You are most happy when you are serious with someone.

Your Career: You need to help others in your job to feel satisfied. You would be a great nurse, psychologist, or counselor.

What's Your Inner Color?

My reply:
The first and third quizzes feel accurate, but the second one doesn't as far as the loads of energy part goes. Thanks to Flssgrl for the links. :)

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How am I smart?

>> Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This week we're learning about Lilian G. Katz, Howard Gardner, and Daniel Goleman. They offer us the Project approach, Multiple Intelligences (different strengths and weaknesses we have that affect our learning), and Emotional Intelligences (like your IQ, this tests your Emotional levels instead of your Intelligence levels).

Here's some fun quizzes we had to take for our discussion post:

Here's my results for the first and third options, testing my multiple intelligences. I took the snowflake one (test 1) twice (click to make it big enough to read):


Book recommendation for Multiple Intelligences:
How am I smart? by Dr. Kathy Koch (pronounced 'cook'). Originally written for jr. high/high school kids, it's now marketed to parents. It's a very easy read, quite fascinating; she also includes tips and ideas for how to create an environment to implement them in learning and every day life.

Here's the results of my Emotional Intelligence (EQ - test 2). Sorry, no spiffy chart. I wish there was!:

"Your results indicate an above average score on emotional intelligence.

What Does Your Score Mean?
People with a better than average score on emotional intelligence tend to be good at interpreting, understanding, and acting upon emotions. They are usually quite good at dealing with social or emotional conflicts, expressing their feelings, and dealing with emotional situations.

It's important to remember that no matter how good your score is, there is always room to improve your emotional intelligence. Consider areas where you are not as strong and think of ways that you can learn and grow. Take stock of your strong points and find ways to continue to develop and apply these skills."

How about you?

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Where we've been

>> Tuesday, November 11, 2008



Visiting with our Kaylee-niece!*
Yay!

*And a cow.

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I'm a Winner!!

>> Tuesday, November 4, 2008

For the first time in my life, (that I know of, maybe once in Elementary school or something), I won a contest! Based on actual skill!

I'm a member of a research community group for my college. We answer questions every week, and this month they did a 'Create an ad for your college' contest. I won! They're not using the ad for advertising, but the contest was to gather ideas.

Here's the announcement, along with the ad I made. Thanks to Mel's unknown contribution, as well as that of the little kids in VBS. I don't know who you are, but thanks!


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Citizenship

Four years ago, I voted in my first Presidential election (no, I'm not that young, I just never had before). We went to the church down the end of our road around 10:30. We'd been told there'd be lines at busy times, so we figured that was safe. It was raining and windy. There was a line... from the reg desk inside the... gym?... out into the lobby. It took us maybe half an hour total from leaving the house to returning to the house. I figured that "a bad line" in that situation would maybe have been out into the parking lot or something.

So when they said this year they expected a really high turnout, we thought "Well, we'll go around 10:30ish again, and just expect a little bit more of a wait." Yes, we're in a new state with new people, and we don't really know how it will go, but we just live a mile away so we'll run out, maybe take an hour instead of half.

Today's voting checklist:

  • rain
  • wind
  • no jackets (cuz "it'd only be a bit")
  • nothing to sit on (cuz "it'd only be a bit")
  • multiple districts in one location
  • line confusion
  • nice people having conversations
  • even nicer people running off to the closest pizza place and buying pizza and crazy bread to share with everyone around them
  • FOUR HOURS. Yes. 4. Hours. We arrived at 10:15. We joined the line. We then realized that even though we live in Windsor Hill, we're in the Lincoln district, so we went to the other line. Which, while shorter, actually moved more slowly. We returned home at 2:00.
  • When we arrived home, I also discovered I'd left all the cats outside on the porch. (cuz "it'd only be a bit"). Sigh. At least they still seem to love me.
I feel bad for the guy standing just behind us in line; when he arrived at 7am there was only one line, instead of one for each district. They split the line at some point and he ended up in the wrong one; he got all the way up to the desk after waiting for three hours, at which point they would not let him vote because he was in the wrong line and made him GO BACK TO THE END of the right line. He ended up having been in that parking lot for almost SEVEN hours. He was upset, but quiet about it, and I thought it was pretty cool that he felt it was important enough to stick it out. He finally voted right after we did.

Here's the map of Cathedral, where we voted. Click on it to see it up close. The red line is where we stood and waited. The yellow line is where the lady who stood with us told us that the line went this morning before standard work starting hours ("all the way out to the main road!") She apparently had nothing else to do today, so she drove by every half hour/45 minutes since this morning waiting to see when the line went down.


So anyway, we've done our duty and put in our votes. I actually spent all day yesterday looking up information on the local offices; it was discouraging how little information was available online, and there were a LOT of local positions with just one name of the person already on the job.*

A friend of mine is spending her day volunteering as a polling help person for Team Obama; her job is to travel around to polling places and help things go smoothly (non-partisanly). She told us all that if the wait was longer than 20 minutes we should call our local O field office and they'd send someone out, but I couldn't find any phone numbers for our local O field office. Which was sad. They definitely need help at our polling place!

I'm sure four years from now I'll feel differently, but I'm suddenly feeling all patriotic and wish I'd volunteered. I hate seeing a need and not being able to help... I'm all organizational, and totally could have helped people at least feel like they weren't standing around catching pneumonia in a parking lot for nothing!

At least we can go get a free coffee at Starbucks and a free sandwich at Chik-Fil-A with our "I VOTED" stickers!

*No, I'm not telling.

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http://tryonsadopt.blogspot.com/

>> Monday, November 3, 2008

I decided since we've got enough posts on our adoption process all over the internet in various forms, I'm combining them into one website. Stop on over and read our Tryon Adoption Story. It's growing slowly as I collect stuff; won't be up to date for a bit yet.

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Halloween Costume

>> Friday, October 31, 2008

Ahh.... another Halloween. It now always reminds me of our last Halloween in New York when the little kid shouted "TRICK OR TREAT", did a double-take, and seriously asked me how I figured out how to dress up as Short for my costume. Fantastic.

In case you're curious, I believe I told him that it was a trade secret, but I'd be careful to hang it up properly so it'd still be good for next year.

So he got his treat, and I got my trick.

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Book Recommendations

I've been coming back more and more to my lovely collection of children and young adult books, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you.


I'm not really sure why I love The Story About Ping, by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Weise. It's sad and definitely not politically correct. Ping is a hunting duck from China who goes up and down the Yangtzee River with the family that keeps him (uses him for fishing) along with all of his wide family. Ping gets separated from them one day and has an adventure.

Culturally speaking, this book is filled with stereotypes and faux pas that an American with Asian roots may be annoyed by. However, considering I grew up watching old-style Kung Fu movies with my dad, it didn't really bother me. At the very least, Ping can be a history lesson. But it has a lot of great sounding words, repetition and word plays that the kids can play along with. Great for ages 0-Adult.


I don't know about you, but all my dolls and creatures have names. They also talk to me. I don't care what you say, it's Real. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams helped me understand that those times when I was in a hurry and left Charlene or Teedee upsidedown on their faces or out in the cold, they didn't hate me, and everything was all right. This story is sad, but also helped me learn about love and loss and redemption. In a weird sort of way. Probably good for Pre-K and older, unless you have little kids who need to read about loss to get through something.


Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin. The farm animals are tired of the farmer, and fight back when they discover an old typewriter that helps them communicate. This book is just funny. Great for ages 0 - Adult.


Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw has great rhymes and fantastic sense of humor. General plot: stuff happens to sheep in a Jeep. Great for ages 0 - Adult.


The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Milo comes home one day to find a kit to make a tollbooth for use with his toy car. But when he drives through it, he ends up in another place! This story is education oriented, with characters like the Spelling Bee (who spells his words), and Tock the Watch Dog (pictured on the cover). The book recommends ages 8 and up, but I know an 8 year old who didn't get it. This book is all about word puns and taking things literally (or not). One of my top favorites.


The Green Book by Jill Paton Walsh, is a sci-fi book for young adults (probably Junior High and up, maybe 3rd grade and up for mature kids) that I found to be written in a much different quality than other standard sci-fi stories.


Yes, I know The City of Ember (by Jean Duprau) was just released as a blockbuster movie. The movie trailer motivated me to find and read the book, and I'm glad it did. With today's average kid, I'd say high reader Third Graders could follow the book, but it opens opportunities for discussions of many sociological issues and world responsibility issues for the Middle School level. It's very well written, is engaging and uses great vocabulary; to Lanse and myself it read like a "children's book" but it isn't condescending in any way.


Before there was Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings (at least in my reading timeline), there was John White's Archives of Anthropos. When I read them, The Tower of Geburah was the first of the series. Geared for young adults, or advanced readers in lower grades (my 4th Grade teacher read it to the class), this series is Christian allegory published by Inter Varsity Press (my copy's IVP, but Amazon says Topeka Bindery, which I've never heard of), but it's not nearly allegorical to the obvious extent of something like The Pilgrim's Progress. It's a fantasy series about children who travel to another world and save the day; similar to Chronicles of Narnia, but at the same time completely different. The good is very good, the evil is pretty evil, and there's a lot of magic going on... but it also continually offers explanations of how it exists and can be fought in the real world. While it's obviously fiction, this book helped form a lot of my ideas of my faith and how my life fits into the spiritual world.

Like the Narnia series, John White originally wrote this story first, wrote a sequel, and then wrote a prequel.... and then the publishing companies decided to re-release it in chronological order. So if you look it up on Amazon it'll put this as Book 3. Unfortunately, I didn't find the other books quite as captivating, and I'd worry that you'd miss out on the joy of this one if you do it how they say to. In my world, the series goes: The Tower of Geburah, The Iron Sceptre, and The Sword Bearer. I believe there are other books in the series published as well, but that's all that's listed in the front of my copy.

Also, I just discovered that the cover artist is Kinuko Craft, one of our favorite fantasy illustrators. Yay!

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Chicken Stoup

Since I'm sick (a wonderful gift from Friday's flooding) I really wanted chicken soup. Amazing what can happen when you want chicken soup and actually have a chicken! I didn't take any pictures of what ended up to be more of a stoup, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Into my Ellie (1.6qt crock) went

  • 1/2 diced green bell pepper,
  • 1 diced stalk of green onion/chives
  • 1 tiny can of sliced mushrooms I found in the back of the cupboard
  • Chicken from the parts of the chicken that we tend not to prefer; I put in mostly wing and leg meat
  • 3/4 cup of chicken broth
  • Dry whole grain Minute rice, didn't measure, just sorta shook the box over the pot.
  • I didn't put in any seasonings because the chicken I used was from the last thing I cooked and had lots of flavor, and the broth had loads of salt.
I actually started with 1/4 c. liquid thinking that, as a good crock pot, the liquid would double on its own. It didn't, and I don't know why; either the lid wasn't settled right, or the rice absorbed it all. So I added another 1/2 c about three hours in when I started to smell the stuff burning a little.

I ran this on high for 4 hours and then put it on low because we were too lazy to get up and eat it right away.

My stoup was REALLY GOOD. We had it with homemade bread and what was in the pot fed the two of us for one meal. It was a lot chunkier than canned chunky soup; it really was more like a soggy casserole with a little bit of broth poured over the top when we served it out. When I say it that way it doesn't sound as good, but it really was.

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Crockpot Rosemary Apple Chicken

>> Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We bought a whole young chicken (very small) and I just put it in the crock pot. We also bought 3 apples that I intended to use with the pork, and then for some reason changed my mind. So I did some digging and found a great recipe using both, plus some rosemary from my garden. This all went into my 6 quart crockpot.

(I love the Crock Pot Lady's blog format, so I'm imitating her. I mean to flatter, not thieve!)

Ingredients (as seen above):
  • A small chicken. I unwrapped it yesterday hoping to just plunk the frozen bird in, not realizing that there were weird bits of paper on the outside and the bag of guts inside, and I couldn't get them off/out. (It's my first time cooking a whole bird, be nice now.) So I had to put it in something else and re-wrap it and let it thaw the normal way. That's why it looks weird in the picture.
  • 3 apples, Granny Smiths in this case. I peeled and diced them.
  • Chives (about 3 stalks), chopped up. I ended up having 1/2 cup of diced chives. The original recipe also called for a whole sweet onion and a couple cloves of garlic, but I didn't have them.
  • Fresh Rosemary. The original recipe said 3 stems, but how long? So I put three stems of varying sizes inside the bird, one tucked in each wing, and I finely chopped the leftover little bits to mix into the liquid. Maybe it'll be too much, but I like rosemary.
  • 1/2 c. chicken stock; I've never used chicken bullion, and this is actually the granule stuff; the jar said 1 t. to 1 c. boiling water, so I did 1/2 t. to 1/2 c. boiling water.
  • To the stock I added: Kosher S&P, 1/4 t. Garlic salt (to make up a little bit for the missing garlic), and 1/2 t. dried onion (and then it clumped weird so I sprinkled more on top to make it even).

Directions:
  • Lock the cats in another room
  • Wash and chop/dice/hack all the things that need chopping/dicing/hacking.
  • Prepare the chicken stock; add the spices to it.
  • Prep the bird; take out the bag-o-innards, and I cut off as much fatty skin as I could because I'm just that way.
  • Put apple chunks and chives in the bottom of the crock, reserving 1 apple's worth and some chives. Put the bird in the crock. Stuff the bird with rosemary stalks, some chives, and as many apple chunks as will fit. In my case, it was just about one apple.
  • Pour the stock/spices over the top, and dump in any remaining ingredients.
  • Turn it on high and cook it until you know that it's safe to eat. I don't own a thermometer, so after 3 hours on high, I plan to put it on low and go out for the afternoon, get my free crunchy taco at Taco Bell, get a free mocha latte at Barnes & Noble, talk to Lanse for a while, and probably eat the chicken around 8. I figure if it's falling off the bone, it probably reached a safe temperature.
When I put it into the crock pot, this is what it looked like!


I'll update when we've eaten some to tell you if it's worth it. It's smelling pretty darn good right now though!

Update 1: the liquid level is now at about 3/4 of the crock pot, and the steam is making bubbles out the side of the lid. So maybe reduce the stock to 1/4 c. I let some steam out just now, since it was making hissing noises when the wet escaped.

Verdict:
It was very tasty. Very tasty indeed! I served it over whole grain rice, with a side of green veggies. Neither of us ate enough though, so we crashed big time... like rice tends to do, this made us feel full before we'd actually provided our bodies with enough energy, so keep that in mind when you serve it up. We're now going on Day 3 of leftovers; the first leftover day we just ate the chicken again with a veggie, yesterday I made stoup (see next post), and today I think I may just have turkey sandwiches for lunch. Yay!

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This week's Educational Philosophy

>> Monday, October 27, 2008

Up this week, we have: Johann Pestalozzi, Friedrich Froebel, John Dewey, and Maria Montessori.

Also due:

  • Discussion post (the equivalent of a 1 page paper);
  • 3 or more replies to classmate's discussion posts
  • another 1-2 page paper (these ones always turn out to be 3 for me);
  • a 3-6 page paper (3 parts, 1-2 pages each, so it'll probably be around 7 pages); This one could be fun if I take the time; it's basically going through all the philosophies we've learned about so far, highlighting a couple points from each, and creating my own educational philosophy. I'm looking forward to it, if I can manage to find some focus.
  • All of this is based on much reading, some of which I've done, some I haven't.

Also due for Making Connections class (Ed 1011):
  • 2 page research paper on career profiles and opportunities
We're going to Charlotte next weekend to see my brother and sister-in-law and Kaylee, so I have to do a little work ahead as well.

I also have to make bread and figure out dinners for the week, and we really really need to get those smoke detectors installed, and probably clean the house a bit... it's gotten really messy, and the clutter is distracting... and I'm having someone over on Thursday morning to hang out. And I really want to get into my Bible Study lessons as well, which probably won't happen.

I'm feeling a bit busy.

EDIT: Just for kicks, we have Johann Pestalozzi (Philosopher) vs. Roger Rees (Actor)


Photo from my web homework * Photo from imdb.com

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Wet and Soggy

>> Friday, October 24, 2008

What an incredibly fun evening!!

It's been raining all day, the kind that you sit inside and go, "Wow, that's a heckuva lot of rain," but out the window of our house it wasn't flooding the street or anything. Lanse had a game scheduled to play at Green Dragon, and for whatever crazy reason I was feeling housebound
(even though I spent all morning out at church), so I decided I really wanted to go with him. I don't know what compelled me... I didn't think painting would be that interesting, but for whatever reason something inside me thought I had to go. So I did.

As we drove into the parking lot in front of the store, we realized that the water was nearly up to the bumpers on some of the cars. That's not good. So we parked a few rows up where there was *slightly* higher ground, and went in to play. I got my paint set up, Lanse got his game going. More people would arrive and say, "Hey, y'all might want to check where you parked your car..."
And then the water came up over the walkway in front of the store... and then started seeping in through the front door... (this is actually a pic of the back of the front section of store, the water came in from both sides to meet here... the plastic bag in the background was floating aimlessly around.)


and then the back door...


at which point the gamers got involved, since there was a D&D game right inside the back door. Then it was coming in the door by the videos. And suddenly, all games stopped and everyone started grabbing stuff off the floors in all the rooms, crawling under shelves, desperately trying to mop and push the water... until there was no where else to push it.


These kids were there with their dad, and were well prepared with their rain boots. The smaller girl was our resident mopper.


In order to keep the water out, all the doors were locked and poor-man sandbagged (towels and cinder blocks), though they did have to keep opening one door for people to go through, they eventually stopped and made everyone wait. It was finally decided around 8:30 that it was time to close up, the waters won the day. Everyone in the store gathered at the front door, Beowulf (a store owner) unlocked it, and there was a rather fast mass exodus, door slammed behind us.

Our car was enough higher ground that in the exact place we parked, we were only in an inch or so, but backing out put us at about a foot. The water was up to my knees between the store and the car. This was the view looking back towards the store, which is the dark green writing between the Imperial Store Cabinetry and the Sleep King. (Pointy roof bit on the right.) And somewhere under that water are periodical large concrete barriers dividing the parking aisles. I'm so glad the one by higher ground had shrubbery!


After dropping Tabitha off at her house, we came home and got out of our wet clothes, and got into the tub. I was more concerned about warming up and soaping off any kind of crap that was in the parking lot water, but Lanse stayed in the hot tub and let the bubbles go. He looks happily ruffled now.

Now, snuggled under an afghan and two cats and looking back on the evening, I'm really glad I went!

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Ellie made burgers!

We had hamburgers... well, cheeseburgers really... made in Ellie, my new 1.6 qt. crock pot! Now, a few people whined and complained, and said I obviously don't know what a crock pot is for, but darn if they weren't really good and didn't take much effort at all!

[Quick insert for mental visual: a 1.6 quart crock pot is about the width of a standard 2 cup tea pot, and half again as high. So it's small, but still useful. I could probably cook two regular cans of Campbell's soup in it, if I didn't put the lid on. (Since crocks cause the water level to rise, that could be disastrous!) But that at least should give some idea of how big this crock pot is.]

Usually when we buy hamburger, we buy a huge amount and the cut it into 1 lb sections and freeze them separately in freezer bags. We've realized how much faster they thaw if they're not in a large chunk, so when we put them in the bag we squash them flat so they look like pizzas when you glance in the freezer. Doing this also means that all I have to do is thaw it on a plate, cut it into pieces, and flip them into the frying pan! However, for whatever crazy reason, when I make hamburgers in my pan (I haven't got an indoor griddle) it takes 10 minutes of prep and 15 or 20 minutes on the stove plus fighting 3 cats off the whole time.

Total time fighting off cats: 30-40 minutes.

So instead of that, here's what I did:

First I put 4 pieces of rolled up tin foil tubes in the bottom of the crock pot in a square like Lincoln Logs. If you look up the Crock Pot Blog linked on the right and look up hamburgers, she did the same thing and put a picture as well. Putting the burger on the tin foil keeps it up out of the grease so it's not flat out boiling instead of roasting, or whatever the non-wet term is. While it turned out great this time, next time I plan to make my initial foil rolls larger; the bottom one wasn't completely out of the grease. (This also means you'll have a good half-inch of grease on the bottom to clean out later. Yay.)

So then I took:

1 lb. hamburger, flattened relatively thin.

Cut it into 4 pieces, two each of the same sizes. Over everything I put kosher salt and pepper, dried onion flakes, garlic salt, and savory, and then mexican blend cheese just on two of the four pieces. Then I took the other two and put them on top of the first two so I had basically two enormous hamburgers with stuff in the middle.

Put one hamburger carefully in the crock pot on top of the foil. Add 4 more pieces of foil and put the second one on top. Cook on high for 3 hours. (Mostly cuz that's all the time I had. You could feasibly cook it for 6 hours on low. Haven't tested it yet though.)

These burgers were the perfect size for the crock pot in both width and height! Yay!

However, because crock potting is a wet cooking method, while they were lovely and tender on the inside they were kinda gross and slimy on the out. So when it was time to eat, I popped each one into a hot pan for 30 seconds each side to crisp it up.

Total time fighting off cats: 3 minutes - 2 while prepping, 1 while cooking.

Put on home made bread (cuz that's what we had, but obviously hamburger buns are good too).

They were very tasty indeed, and a whole heckuva lot less hassle than my old method!

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A Classroom for Ana

>> Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I was bored. I drew a classroom. Ana wants to see it, so here it is. PLAN A



Here's PLAN B, basically the same classroom but shifted around so that a neighboring classroom could share the entry, bathroom and kitchen:



Ana thinks the whole group area is too big and some neighboring areas too small. But she really likes the term 'Recentering Zone', which really is actually the Time Out corner. *grin* So I guess I've done well enough.

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New Arrival

Everyone say hello to our new arrival! Her name is Ellie. She's 1 1/2 (quarts).



She joins her big brother Sy. He's 5 (quarts).


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About This Blog

Life is about changes; transitions from one place to another, from one purpose to another, from one being to another. They say that the person you are today is a completely different person from who you were ten years ago and who you'll be ten years from now. So far, at the age of 33, I've had four major transitions in my life which redefined who I am. Two years into the results of the most recent transition I am again - still - exploring how God is shaping me. Over the next few months I hope to review my past and set goals for the future, and embrace the next adventure of rediscovering me.
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