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!


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.


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.


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.



>> Wednesday, December 24, 2008

That just about says it all. YAY JESUS!!

Hope your day is fantabulous!

Jess, Lanse, Colin, Spook & Kira


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.


Kaylee, baggin' it.

>> Monday, December 22, 2008


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



>> 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.


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!


Wonderland Released! and other Cool Lanse news

>> Wednesday, December 17, 2008

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.

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!)

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*


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!


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.


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".



>> 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

"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.



>> 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! :)


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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