Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Derby Casserole Recipe

Every year, for Christmas, my mom makes Derby casserole. It's an egg-y, bread-y, casserole-y, bacon-y dish of deliciousness. LauraC posted a link to a similar casserole the other day, which I must admit sounds even delicious-er, though I was shocked to find someone made something far more...shall we say, RICH, than the recipe I use. I mean, this isn't health food by any stretch, but just check out that link if you want to feel good about eating this recipe. Huge quantities of it, which is what I did Christmas morning.

So for LauraC, here's the almost famous, healthy only by comparison, recipe:


6 eggs, beaten
6 slices of white bread, crusts removed and cubed
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
1 lb bacon (or sausage, or a combo of both), cooked, drained, and crumbled
2 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard (optional)


Combine all ingredients in a 9x13" baking pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

That's it! Pretty easy, huh?

And for those of you who are interested, this type of dish is technically called a strata. There are lots of variations on how to make them, though the bread/egg combo is pretty constant. I've made a fancy-dandy one once with fresh herbs, sun dried tomatoes, and goat cheese. But I always come back to the good ol' plain Derby casserole!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hanukkah races

I'm new to this whole Hanukkah thing; we've really only been lighting the menorah regularly in the past few years. Before that, we might remember a night or two, but never all eight nights.

So I just have to know: does everyone bet on which candle is going to win? I mean, how can you not?

And secondary question: how do you define "win"? Is it the candle that burns out first, or last? I contend that the candle that burns out first is the winner, while TK holds that the candle that burns longest is the winner.

My position is that I'm being far more positive: of course the candles are racing to the finish line (being burnt out). Just watch 'em and you'll see...they want to burn out! If they're trying to stay lit longest, well, it's a Pyrrhic victory at best as even the last burning will soon succumb to the extinguishing of its flame.

And how come it's not the center candle that burns out first every time? It's lit first, it should go out first. And then the other candles should burn out from right to left, in the order they were lit. Why doesn't it work out that way? Can I please get completely uniformly sized and shaped candles? Are drafts of air in the house responsible for the different burning times? Has anyone ever studied the order in which Hanukkah candles burn out?

Do I think too much about this?

Well, I hope all of you who celebrate had a very happy Hanukkah this year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

He doesn't understand...or perhaps he understands all too well!

We have a Christmas tradition of making a donation for the boys as one of their gifts. This year is the first time we thought they were old enough to be really involved in the process, so after opening our gifts and eating breakfast, we sat down to talk about giving to people who have less than us.

I said, "We give money to help people who need it."

B-man said, "Maybe we should give it to the bank."

Has he been listening to NPR while my back was turned???


We ended up picking some ducks and some chickens to donate through World Vision. I thought something concrete would be easier for them to understand than just sending a check to March of Dimes or Red Cross or something. We were looking through all the things we could donate, talking about them and how they'd help people. When we picked the ducks, N-man said, "Wait, I have another duck!" Then he ran to the bathtub to get his rubber ducky.


All in all, it was a fun experience. I can't wait for future years to see what kinds of charities they'll get interested in!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cauliflower Latkes

For the first night of Hanukkah this year, I made two kinds of latkes: traditional potato, and a cauliflower latke recipe I found in Bon Appetit.

I love potato pancakes. They're so delicious, and I make them all year. Why wait for Hanukkah? But I must admit, the cauliflower latkes were even better! Here's the recipe, if you're celebrating Hanukkah, or if you just want some really delicious food. The original recipe appears in the link above, but we made a few changes (my sister-in-law, a wonderful cook, pretty much made this one):


2 medium head of cauliflower, broken into small florets
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. minced fresh parsley (or 1 tsp of dried parsley)
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 c. plus 2 T dried unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste...we used a lot less since my MIL doesn't like spicy food)
black pepper to taste
2 or 3 eggs
Oil for frying


Steam the cauliflower until very tender. Add garlic and half the cauliflower to a food processor and process until smooth. Add the remaining cauliflower, parsley, and dill and process until slightly chunky.

Transfer to a large bowl and add the breadcrumbs, baking powder, salt, cayenne, and pepper. Beat 2 eggs and add to the batter. Stir well...if it's too dry, add a third egg.

Heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Drop about 1 tablespoonful into the oil for each latke, flattening slightly. These will make very small latkes. For some reason, our were crumbly (I did add a third egg, but things still didn't hold together very well and we found it worked best not to flatten the batter).

Fry until bottom is browned, flip, and fry on the other side. Drain on paper towels.


In the original recipe, they suggest a Za'atar aioli to serve on the side. Which would be great, except I don't have za'atar (a middle eastern spice mix, according to the recipe). So my sister-in-law whipped something vaguely similar up, that was such a yummy accompaniment!


1 garlic clove, peeled
1 c. mayo
4 tsp lemon juice
1/4 c. olive oil
1 T. sesame seeds (or more to taste)
1T. Herbes de Provence (or more to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste


Chop garlic finely in a food processor. Add sesame seeds, mayo, and lemon juice. With machine running, drizzle in the olive oil and blend until smooth.

Remove to a small bowl and whisk in the Herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper.

Let stand at least 30 minutes.


We didn't take any pictures as it wasn't very pretty, but it was so delicious! Believe me, I won't be waiting until next Hanukkah to make these...we'll be eating them all year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What, other people noticed?

Do you know how many blog hits I get for "Stephanie Meyer terrible writing"? A zillion, every day. That's hyperbole, or an accurate count of the number of times we were told Bella was clumsy. Wait, was she clumsy? I can't remember.

Yes, I agree, the writing was terrible. Want to give a shout out all you random Googlers? Who are you, people who are searching for others who agree that the writing in the series was horrific? Or are you all Twilight lovers looking for blogs to boycott? Hee!

For the record, I enjoyed the first two books despite the writing. It wasn't until the last two books that things became unforgivable.

Overheard by my blog

Is this chick ever going to update her blog?

Yeah, what's up? She posted every day in November, and now is totally slacking in December?

Lazy, lazy.

You're not kidding.

And she'll probably try to pull some kind of "I'm too busy with all the holidays" junk.


I heard she's not even being a good bloggy friend.

Yeah, she's hardly commenting at all anywhere, and is behind in reading some of her favorite blogs.


It's true!

I don't know, this girl better get it in gear!


Hee! Happy Holidays all. I'm pulling the "I'm busy; it's the holidays" lame excuse. I hope you're all having wonderfully busy great holidays, too!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Why snowmen are scary

Today was the big holiday celebration at preschool. They had someone dressed up as a snowman to take pictures of with the kids. Of course, neither of my boys would sit with him. On the way home, they were telling me about it.

B-man: They had a snowman, but it was just a costume. Inside was a monster!

N-man: No, it wasn't a monster. It was SANTA (said with a tone of dread. They haven't grown any fonder of Santa in the past few years.)

B-man: No, Santa has black boots. I didn't see any black boots. It was a monster.

Me: It wasn't a monster or Santa. It was just someone's mom or dad in the costume.

There was a big pause while the boys considered it. Then they immediately went back to their original positions, and the monster vs. Santa debate continued.

No wonder why they were too scared to get close to the snowman!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wine Slush

At Thanksgiving this year, my brother-in-law made a delicious dessert: wine slush. I loved it, even though I don't normally like wine. As I've said before, though, the closer alcohol tastes to ice cream, the more I like it!

Anyway, as soon as I tasted it, I knew I had to make it for book group. Last night, it was a big hit and I was asked to post the recipe. I wish I'd taken a picture, though it doesn't look that pretty. I'd have to pretty it up in a martini glass or nice bowl with a sprig of mint or something on the side...none of which I had. So you'll just have to make the recipe and try it for yourself.

I got the basics of this recipe at Thanksgiving, and figured I couldn't really mess it up as it's so simple. I'm sure this isn't precisely the "real" recipe, but it turns out just fine.

Wine Slush


1 c. red wine (any kind, whatever you've got lying around)
1 1/4 c. water
2/3 c. sugar
3 thin round slices of an orange (I use rounds from the thickest part of the orange)
1 small container raspberries


Add raspberries and red wine to a large tupperware container.

In a medium saucepan, add water, sugar, and orange slices. Cook over medium high heat, stirring often, until all the sugar is dissolved. Pour into the container with the raspberries and red wine.

Cover and store overnight in the fridge.

Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the liquid into a container that will fit into your freezer. I use a small metal casserole pan (11" x 7"). Squeeze the oranges to add the juice to the liquid. Discard the oranges.

Next, using a plastic spatula (those flexible scraper kind), squish the raspberries against the mesh and let the juice strain into the wine mixture. Keep doing this until mostly all you have left is seeds (well, use your judgment. The longer you do this, the more likely it is some seeds will make it through the strainer and into your liquid). A lot of raspberry juicy stuff will collect on the bottom of the strainer, so make sure you use your spatula to scrape it off and add to the wine.

Stir it all up, and put it in the freezer. Every 45 minutes or so, use a fork to scrape it up so it doesn't freeze solid. You only have to do this a few times, and in my experience, it was okay when I forgot for more like 3 hours instead of 45 minutes.

That's it...it's ready as soon as it freezes (give it at least 2.5 or 3 hours).


Monday, December 15, 2008

Is it just me?

I can't read those words that pop up to verify I'm a real person instead of a robot. You know, the ones most people make you type in order to post a comment on their blog?

Which makes me wonder...am I a robot? It's all very Blade Runner in my head, and I think I'd like Harrison Ford to stop by and sort things out for me.

I guess technically, I always think I *can* read the letters. So I type them in, then get the message that nope, I was wrong again. Which I find even odder than if I knew I couldn't read it. I wish they'd leave the original letters up, along with the correct answers. How am I supposed to learn if I never get any feedback? Posting on blogs is like a test that I just keep on failing.

Am I the only one with this problem, or does it take everyone get a couple "fails" each day when commenting on blogs?

I am a robot, aren't I.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Here's one for the facebook and Jane Austen fans among us

Someone exceedingly funny wrote this one:


You'll love it, you know, if you love facebook and Pride and Prejudice. And really, who doesn't?

What's the deal with "followers"?

Anyone using this feature in blogger who can explain it to me? Is it just a way of saying "hey, I like your blog!" I only follow two blogs, and they were the two bloggers who specifically asked for people to follow their blogs...I figured, "Sure! Why not?"

But it clutters up my dashboard, which I rarely look at anyway.

But I don't want to offend people: does anyone want me to follow their blog? I'd be happy to!

More importantly, though, can some explain what it's good for? I don't think I'm using it right...

Do you "follow" people you also have on your blogroll, or just blogs that aren't on your blogroll? Which is better in your opinion? I add the blogs I really enjoy to my blogroll...that's essentially what I use as my blog reader ever since blogger came up with that feature that shows the most recent post.

Just curious, no biggie.

And I figured I better post something! I've been sick all week. I finally have some energy so yay! Of course, I should be expending said energy on cleaning rather than blogging, so trying to keep this short...

And failing.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The casualties of Thanksgiving...

Can you tell I'm going through pictures (trying to find appropriate pictures for holiday cards. Ugh, this won't do!).

I'm having a bit of a wordless Tuesday, I guess!

Is my tea trying to tell me something...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ugh, I'm sick!

Okay, we'll start with a whine. I'm sick again. It started hitting pretty hard yesterday (on my birthday! The nerve of these viruses!) I was up half the night coughing. My back and shoulders and chest are sore from all the coughing. Now I'm SO tired. Hopefully I'll be able to sleep tonight.

Whine over. For now.

On to the good part...my birthday, besides being sick, was fun. I got to catch up with a lot of friends which is always nice, though I spent a large portion of the day on the phone, when I normally rarely talk on the phone.

It got me to thinking: TK and I have moved around a bunch. It's been kind of fun, and a little adventurous. We've got to enjoy and discover all new parts of the country, and we've stayed in each place long enough that we've gotten to enjoy the feeling of it being home. But, we live nowhere near any of our family, and we've got friends spread out across the country. Sure, we've made friends here in Boston, and that's awesome, but it's still kind of sad that there are so many people we rarely get to see any more.

I wasn't one of those "desperate to escape my hometown" people, but I never really expected to stay, either. But every once in a while, I get a little jealous of those people who have family living all around, and friends they've known since birth around the corner. Sometimes I wish we had stayed, and not moved around.

Then I think about the people we've met, how much I love it here in Boston, and how many fun experiences we had living in Georgia. I don't know. What do you think? Are you a home-towner or a transplant? I guess there's good things on both sides. What I'd really like best is if all my family and friends moved to Massachusetts. That'd be the best...why can't I convince anyone? :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Guess whose birthday it is!


Yep, celebrating today. The earth is celebrating with me...we're getting our first snow of the year. I love snow! It looks so pretty.

TK ran out and got bagels and coffee for us this morning, and now he and the kids are playing with playdough while I play online for a few minutes. Then we're going to put up the Christmas tree.

What a nice day. I love birthdays.

Probably because of the cake!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Finished for Friday--my novel (first draft)

Oh boy, oh boy! Three Under Two over at Lit and Laundry hosts this one, and I'm so excited to play along this week.

What did I finish this week? The first draft of my novel! Yes, I know, those few of you who stuck with me through November got endless updates about NaNoWriMo, and know that I hit 50k words before Thanksgiving. That was enough to win NaNo, but not enough to finish my novel. I've been plugging away, and on Wednesday of this week, I reached the end.

So I'm celebrating this week. Maybe this weekend I'll do my first read-through, fix up all the glaring grammar/spelling errors (I have a wicked bad habit to never add ends of words. I get the main word, but forget about any -s or -ed or -ing that's supposed to be at the end. Weird, huh?) I'm curious to see how it turned out.

I'll include here a brief back-cover-type blurb about my novel:
In an alternate Earth, chaos reigns. Civilization as we know it has collapsed, fueled in part by a drug called Frantic. In our world, Kara, a single mother, and Erik, her teenaged son, are given a cure for Frantic. Will Kara and Erik be able to face the dangers before them, and will their efforts to spread the cure be enough to save a dying world?
I'm not sure yet what the title is going to be. I've considered Frantic or Hope for Frantic. But I don't love either.

Well, that's it. Now the hard work begins.

One of the great things about NaNoWriMo is that throughout the month, they send out emails from published authors to cheer you on. Some are really helpful, and we were sent an especially great one a few days ago from Kelley Armstrong. In it, she talks about how what you get out of NaNo might be the realization that your story isn't novel-worthy. And that it's okay if that's the result, that you still got a month of writing practice, a month of trying out a new idea. This was important for me to hear, because last year, my NaNo novel crashed and burned. Oh yeah, I have 50k words from 2007 (actually a lot more than 50k). It's a novel. A stinky novel, SOOO not worth editing or rewriting. But I've felt like it was a cheat, that I did the easy, fun part of creating the novel, and then wimped out on the less fun, more difficult editing.

But I really needed to read that pep talk from Kelley Armstrong. Because this year's novel has left me with such a different feeling than 2007. Sure, my novel this year is still rough. Really rough. But it's worth revisiting. And I'm glad someone has said that the piece of crap I wrote last year wasn't a complete waste of time, even if I never look at it again. So thank you, Kelley Armstrong. I'll have to look for one of her books. If her advice is so helpful, it's worth trying one of her novels.

And 2007 wasn't a total waste. In the process of researching a fairly minor plot point, I stumbled upon all the "eat local" stuff in a big way. I had already been on the CSA bandwagon, but researching more fully about the eat local movement really changed the way I think about food: what we eat, how we buy it, how it is produced. So maybe I didn't get a good novel out of 2007, but I did get a revamped outlook on eating.

But I hope what I get out of 2008 will be a novel. Even if it's never published, even if it's never worthy of sending out, I hope it's still a novel. We'll see. For now, I'm FINISHED FOR FRIDAY!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Prop 8 - The Musical

Have you all seen this? Pretty funny.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

How awesome (or should I say LEGEND...ARY) is Neil Patrick Harris? If any of your still haven't seen it, after you watch the above, set aside 45 minutes and google Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long blog. You'll thank me.

Back to gay marriage...can I say how happy and proud I am to live in Massachusetts? We totally rock.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


This weekend I took a trip to a spice store. A while back, Snick had told me about a shop in the area that just sells spices, but it's not that close to my house and I'd just never had the need to go. But I finally went. And it was awesome.

And I'm totally reinspired to cook. I was kind of in a rut since the CSA ended. I think I have to face facts that I'm someone who is inspired by new things: new recipes, new ingredients. I get bored of making the same ol' same ol'.

So here what I got:

Fleur de Sel, my one "luxury" item. I bought a tiny jar, so it wasn't too expensive, though I calculated it out and it costs almost 100x's as much as that blue cylindar jar of normal salt. I don't care, it was a fun $9 splurge!

Sweet curry powder
Taco powder
Cilantro (I know, boring. I just happened to be out of it)
Green Goddess mix
A mix for sprinkling on sandwiches
Lemon Grass
Vanilla extract (again, boring, but I use a lot in winter cooking)

The lavender was the real reason I went to the store. I found a recipe for lavender shortbread cookies (I'll post it after I try it if it's any good), but haven't been able to find any dried lavender to make it with. And I couldn't find it in this store.

I asked at the counter, and got the most awesome example of food snobbery: "CULINARY lavender?" Yes, I answered. "You're going to COOK with it?" Yes, I answered. "Okay, we keep it in back so that only people who know it's for cooking will buy it."

Hee! So I got my culinary lavender.

Have any recipes I should try with my new spices? Link 'em or post 'em!

I made two great things with the Fleur de Sel last night. Soft pretzels, and caramel dark chocolate truffles with fleur de sel. Both were good, but the truffles were unbelievable. They took a zillion hours to make though. I'll never complain about the price of truffles again...I get it now! And I "ruined" some of mine by not tempering my chocolate after I had to take a break with one of the boys trying to use the potty. Oh well, they're still tasty, even if they're not all lovely.

Pics pics, to make my mouth water:

How much is a "funky"?

B-man is starting to understand the pattern of counting above 20, that the numbers 1 through 9 just repeat after the "twenty" or "thirty". He loves to count now. So, the other day, we were in the car and he was counting to himself in the backseat.

Twenty-one, Twenty-two, Twenty-three...all the way up to Twenty-nine.

Immediately followed by...

Funky. Funky-one. Funky-two. Funky-three...straight through Funky-nine.

Then we move on to Punky. Punky-one, punky-two, you get the idea.

We were rolling!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Help the chef

Some cooking blogs go so far as to, you know, actually offer cooking advice.

And that's why this will never be a cooking blog.

I need help. Help me, please!

I made Thai Pumpkin Soup last night. I followed this recipe, using one roasted acorn squash and one can of pumpkin puree (there were no sugar pumpkins at the store! Heresy!) It was okay. Nothing special. Kind of...one note.

I used a sweet curry because I don't like the spicy ones, and added a bunch of freshly grated ginger, and a hint of freshly grated nutmeg. It helped, but still wasn't awesome. I have a bunch of it I put into the freezer with a note that it needs SOMETHING. I hope you'll tell me what that something is.

Here's the picture of it. It's pretty, right? I garnished with roasted pumpkin seeds. This should have been great. I'm so disappointed it was just okay. Help a sister out, won't ya?


Last night was some GREAT television. First, let's talk Chuck. Casting Bruce Boxleitner, Captain John Sheridan himself, as Awesome's dad...well, it was AWESOME.

Then, in Heroes (spoiler alert! Stop reading now if you have it DVR'd and haven't seen it yet!)

Okay, you've stopped reading if you don't want to be spoiled, right? Last warning!

Oh my, I love Seth Green. Heroes has some great casting. But on a down note, please, please, please don't tell me my best friend Kristen Bell has been written off. I thought for sure she was going to end up preggies with a lil' baby watchmaker...

In other random news, I just saw the preview for the new Star Trek movie. Despite my full-fledged geek status, I'm just not a big Trekkie and have been ignoring this. And will continue to do so, except that did you see Zachary Quinto (Sylar) was cast as Spock? That cracked me up, since on Heroes his incredibly huge eyebrows do half the acting, and now he's cast as Spock, another famous eyebrow-actor. Funny, or maybe it's just me...

Merry SITSmas

What, you say it's only December 2nd and a little early to ALREADY be on to this? I know, I know, I don't set the date of SITSmas, it's just when it falls on the calendar. What's a girl to do?

Of course, my holiday season is nicely delayed this year. Hanukkah is relatively late, starting December 21. My inlaws are all coming up to visit for the holiday. And we're not doing Christmas until Martin Luther King Day. See, my idea of randomly changing the date of Thanksgiving is not without precedent.

But I'm in. I wish you all a very happy holiday season. May the lines be short for you, the traffic light, the prices on sale, and the cookies sweet. Oh, and all the "good will toward men" stuff, too :)

I'll leave you with this: my first experience torturing both my children and Santa. What's funnier: the looks on my boys' faces of sheer terror, or the look on Santa's face of sheer resignation? If my boys could have talked back then, I'm pretty sure they would have said, "We're half Jewish! Get us out of here!"

Happy Holidays, everyone! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy whatever it is you celebrate! Have a safe, happy, wonderful December!


Want to play along? Head on over to The Secret is in the Sauce. They're giving away a $200 Target gift card today, along with all the festivities...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Wrap Up

Here we are, already at the end of November. It went fast, didn't it? I was just commenting to TK that from Halloween to New Year is just one long blur...the fastest time of year. Weren't the Halloween decorations just going up? Now it's Christmas everywhere. I'm not complaining. My boys are so excited to see lights and those huge inflatable holiday decorations (awesome) people put on their front yards. The gaudier the better!

I thought I'd finish out the month with a wrap up of what I've learned from NaNoWriMo, and NaBloPoMo.

  • It's certainly possible to write a rough draft of a novel in a month. In fact, it's not really that difficult. It just takes an hour or two a day.
  • Said novel may be complete crap, but it's still a novel.
  • Wednesday nights at Borders are apparently pick-up night, as there was always a group of guys cruising for chicks. At a book store. It was awesome to listen in on.
  • People conduct a frightening amount of business in Panera. Other breakfast places, like Au Bon Pain, were no where near as filled with interviews and sales people on cell phones and business presentations. I have no idea how Panera has become the place to work for a vast number of people, but it was pretty annoying when one is trying to write in relative peace. It's a lot harder to ignore three different guys on competing sales calls all trying to push their products than it is to ignore more normal conversations. Of course, on the flip side, the cantankerous old man conversation happened at an Au Bon Pain. So perhaps the sales guys are preferable.
  • Writing is one of those things that is truly 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Perhaps good writing is more like 95/5, but it really is HARD WORK. Fun much of the time, but it's still a lot more effort than I thought.
  • Having won NaNo last year, it was easier this year. I knew I was capable, and that knowledge took a lot of fear out of the equation. I knew to expect slow downs, and blocks, and moments (days) of thinking it was a big waste of time and effort for something so terrible. But I also knew I could push past those things.
  • I don't have 30 continuous days of interesting blog posts in me. Look forward to my average of 4 to 5 posts a week in the future. And I'm sorry to those of you who suffered along through some of the less stellar moments :)
  • I don't know if I'd do NaBloPoMo again, though I love having a record of NaNoWriMo. That's just for myself, though...perhaps a less public forum would be more appropriate.
  • It's very fun to have "writing buddies". The write-ins I went to were great motivation. I really need to find a writing group. I wish I could have talked some of my real life friends into writing. Maybe next year!
  • My blog stats took a hit in November. I lost about 20 readers per day by the end of last week, and this week has been in the toilet, though I assume (hope) it's from the holiday. Or maybe I just bored you all so badly you ran screaming from your computers. Aaaaahhhhh! :)
  • I've missed checking in on blogs as often as I did previously. I "found" a lot of my writing time by cutting out blog reading time. That's especially true of "new" blogs, such as through The Secret is in the Sauce. I tried to stick by my favorite blogs, but I've missed stumbling upon new-to-me blogs.
  • I had an awesomely great time with NaNoWriMo, and am already considering it again next year. There's just such a fun energy to it!
That's it! My wrap-up of the month. As my niece would say, peace out!

If you have any questions about NaNoWriMo, feel free to ask them. If not, well, I'll probably spare you from the endless writing updates, or at least keep them to a more reasonable level :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Famous Mashed Potato Bar

I know, you've all been waiting with bated breath to hear about the mashed potato bar. Don't worry, I have photographic evidence.

It was pretty awesome. Even better, the next morning, we made individual servings of scrambled eggs that people personalized with leftover potato bar toppings.


Anyway, we're back from our Thanksgiving trip. The drive was suitably hellish, taking nearly 10 hours to get there (from Boston to NJ...usually about 5.5 hours), and 7 hours to get home. I hate Thanksgiving traffic. I swear, next year I'm petitioning the family to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. Or Columbus Day Thanksgiving. Or Veterans Day Thanksgiving. Anything that doesn't require me to be on the road the day before turkey day.

Other than the traffic, we had a great time. We had an awesome Thanksgiving. We went out to a fancy-schmancy lunch to celebrate my MIL's birthday. We played lots of games, like The Works and Super Munchkin. We were introduced to the TV show Big Bang Theory, which is ridiculously funny and I'm not sure how we've missed it. We hung out with family and generally had a good time.

I hope all of you also had a great holiday!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Why I love Sesame Street, Part 2

You may recall a few weeks back I posted about the Goo Goo Dolls on Sesame Street. I love them! Anyway, I meant to immediately follow it up with this second post, but I got distracted. So here's my second reason why I love Sesame Street.

I love the puppet they have singing Kate from the B-52's part. And I love when Michael Stipe says "we can be...HAPPY" with that crazy gleam in his eye.

It's genius.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you're all enjoying Thanksgiving with friends or family today and having a wonderful, turkey-filled day.

In the spirit of the holiday, I just thought I'd mention how thankful I am for TK and the wonder-twins. My three favorite guys :)

I'm keeping this short...you're all probably too busy to read blogs today, or so stuffed with food that a long post will probably put you right to sleep!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Honesty, it's such a lonely word

So, aside from unloosing a Billy Joel earworm on me, can I just say how touched I am by this award from Nancy at the Zimmer Zoo? Honestly, she's a gem.


As usual, there are rules that you agree to when you accept this award:

“When you receive the prize, you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in their content or design. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing that they were prized with ‘Honest Weblog’. List [if you can and/or dare] at least ten honest things about yourself. Then, pass it on!”

Ten Honest Things About Myself:

1) I need to lose (at least) 10 pounds, but I haven't been able to motivate myself.

2) Instead of getting angry, I try to find the funny in things. I'm not always successful, though.

3) My kids are watching Backyardigans while I post on my blog. MOTY, baby!

4) I honestly love the movie Dirty Dancing. I don't care how silly it is, it's pure genius!

5) I get extremely sick when flying on airplanes. Like throwing-up-for-days-after-we-land. I wish I didn't, because I like to travel. I've developed a fear of flying...not of crashing or of heights, but of how sick I feel.

6) I'm preposting this...NaBloPoMo is hard with Thanksgiving getting in the way! I hope that's not cheating. I'm writing this to you from the past...

7) I could eat popcorn for dinner every night. TK and the boys are the only things making me eat at all healthy or normal meals. Before the boys were born, whenever TK went out of town, that's always what I'd make.

8) I very rarely drink more than a small amount of alcohol. I don't particularly like the taste, nor how it makes me feel. Wine is especially gross. I suspect there's something fun about drinking that I'm missing out on because I'm usually all about the vice.

9) I watch too much TV...at least an hour most nights. And I say I wish there weren't so many shows I like, but then I'm sad when they get canceled.

10) I used to be a perfectionist, but with a lot of practice, I've been able to overcome it. ;)

I'm supposed to pass this on, but I just hit most, if not all of you with awards last week and I don't want to burn you out. Plus, all the blogs I read are honest. I think. Wait, are any of you big ol' liars? Hee, that'd be funny!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Worst movie

Another topic courtesy of one of the write-ins I attended. I'm guessing you've figured out we sometimes got a little distracted!

What is the worst movie you've ever seen?

I've got to give it up for Johnny Mnemonic. It doesn't even cross the line from awful to funny. It's just...awful.

Also in the running: Star Wars Episode I, and the third installment of The Matrix (I can't even be bothered to look up the title is how bad it was).

What's your vote?

And on the flip side, I have to mention Clerks, which contains some of the most ridiculously bad acting ever to grace the big screen. And yet the movie is STILL awesome. Nice.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Was this an exaggeration?

The other day, I was IM'ing my sister-in-law. I'm not great at IM'ing. I get kind of confused as the conversation jumps in different directions. As you're waiting for the other person to type, you introduce a new topic, then they do, then you're responding to something old and they're responding to something different and, well, it's an interesting mess. It's so...I don't know...non-linear. Fun, but sometimes some of the conversation threads get left hanging.

That happened to me the other day. My sister-in-law is hosting Thanksgiving this year. Her first. She's pretty excited. She likes to host really elaborate, cook-for-a-few-days kind of events. So as we're IM'ing, I asked what I could help with. She said the mashed potato bar.

It turns out she wants three kinds of mashed potatoes (regular, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower, which I know isn't technically a potato, but mashes up like an Atkins-freak's messed up rememberance of mashed potatoes. Of course, I've already owned up to my opinion of Atkins and cauliflower). And she'll serve them in martini glasses, with a toppings bar of things to add on top.

That sounds pretty neat, doesn't it?

Then she IM'd that she has a list of FIFTY toppings, like mini marshmellows and wasabi and chives.

Do you think she was exaggerating, or do you think she really has a list of 50 toppings? I don't know if I can even think of fifty potential toppings. But I believe she could. I have to send this to her to see if she was exaggerating for comic effect or just reporting the facts.

So what type of potatoes would you choose from the mashed bar? And what would you top it with?

I think I'd go with a mix of regular and cauliflower, with sour cream, chives, and bacon. If those are choices. With potentially fifty choices, I'd guess things as boring as those would be on the list!


Current NaNo Word Count: 51,569

Current NaNo Attitude: Still excited about being past 50k. I took Sunday off, and now I'm aiming for writing 1k a day until I reach the end of the novel. I'm close. I forgot about some subplots, but as I said, that's editing now. I'd guess I'm within 5k of ending, and I could be even closer if I skimmed over some stuff. I'm not rushing it, but I'm trying not to drag it out, either. It'd be fun if I actually finished the novel in November, but if not, at least I passed 50k in November!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ha! I'm dopey!

I'm going through old photos, and I came across one that I'd entirely forgotten about.

That's me, more than 2 months before the boys were born (I was 29 weeks pregnant I believe). When I still had a sense of humor about things. Do you like my low-tech speech bubbles? Like I'd never heard of the 7,000 programs I could have used to add word bubbles :)

I can remember so vividly how I was cracking up about this when I did it. I'm such a fool. Of course now, almost 4 years later, I'm still cracking up.

For the record, that's N-man saying "It's getting CROWDED in here", and B-man saying "Stop kicking me in the face."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Random post really just so I can announce I passed 50k

Do you think in two years we'll say Two Thousand Ten or Twenty Ten when we talk about the year?

Just something I've been thinking about.


Current NaNo Word Count: 50,543!!!!!!!!

Current NaNo Attitude: Relieved to be past 50k, and I'm also closer to the end of my novel than I expected, though I have some long-ish scenes I'd already like to go back and add. But that's an editing issue!

Good Books, Terrible Writing

At the last write-in I attended, we got to talking about good books that overcome their less-than-stellar writing. You know they're out there: a book you like even though you know that it's not particularly well-written. I'm actually pretty forgiving of writing so long as there's an engaging plot.

My examples: Eragon by Christophen Paolini. Not well-written, still loved it. I'd also argue that the entire Harry Potter series isn't particularly well-written, though it's not as glaringly bad as Eragon. And then poor Stephanie Meyers, whose writing abilities appear to be inversely related to how interesting the book is. Twilight? Not a shining example of perfected prose, and yet the story captured me from start to finish. But by the time Breaking Dawn rolled around, the writing had at least marginally improved, yet I hate the book with such vehemence that I'm actually angry with Stephanie Meyers for ruining the series.

So what are your examples of books that overcome weak writing?


Current NaNo word count: 48,024. I can almost taste 50k!

Current NaNo attitude: I can't wait to hit 50k. Now I just need to stay motivated to finish the novel.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Overheard at the Coffeeshop

Today, while the boys were at school, I went to a coffee shop to write for a while.

My writing was going...roughly, so I was kind of sitting there, thinking. And listening to the other people at nearby tables. This is what I heard, and it's an EXACT quote, as immediately after I heard it, I wrote it down on the back of my receipt as it was so funny.
Women have become unreasonable in their unwillingness to accept the term 'mankind'. [pause] They like to squawk a lot.

All this was said very matter-of-factly, by one older man to another.

I just about cracked up.


Current NaNo Word Count: 46,204

Current NaNo Attitude: I'm so close, both to 50k, and also the end of my novel is in sight. And I'm stuck. I need a kick in the pants.

Happy Birthday to my Mommy!

Sending out virtual Happy Birthday wishes to my mom. Happy Birthday, Mom!

I told the boys we'd call Grandma when they get home from school and I asked them what they were going to say. Here are their answers:

B-man: Happy Birthday!

N-man: Can we have cake?

I like the way N-man's brain works! We'll see what they actually end up saying.

She comments here as Jongirl, so I know she'll read the comments and would probably be amused by birthday wishes from virtual strangers :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tapping the collective wisdom

A few questions for you all. Yes, this is hardly a post, but more a request for help :)

How do you keep your kids' mittens from getting lost? Do you like the mitten clips? I've also heard of sewing a long piece of ribbon to the mittens and feeding it through the coat sleeves. Any other idea? My kids constantly take their mittens off/have them fall off, so I'm sure they'll get lost if I send them to school. But on the downside, they were outside in 30 degree weather yesterday to play and I hadn't sent gloves. Bad mommy!

Do you have any suggestions of songs I could use for a DVD I'm making for my mother-in-law of pictures of the grandparents with grandkids? My tastes in music run from "pretty inappropriate" to "insanely inappropriate".



Current NaNo Word Count: 44,453

Current NaNo Attitude: Definitely looking forward to 50k! Someone at the write-in last night had already hit 50k earlier in the week, and last night reached the end of her novel. It was kind of exciting!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's a girl gotta do to find a pair of gloves?

Okay, I'm officially putting Kohl's on notice. I'm not ready to ban them for life, but they're pretty annoying. Here's the thing: their prices aren't good. They just aren't. They almost always have sales on everything, but if you price shop, a good number of their "sale" prices are comparable (or still worse) than you'd pay elsewhere. But whatever, as long as you pay attention, there are some good deals to be found.

Until I wanted to go buy a pair of lightweight gloves for the boys today. We have big bulky gloves, but the problem with those is that they're so big and bulky, the boys won't keep them on. I accosted a mom in the parking lot at school today about her son's gloves, and found out she got them at Kohl's. So off I went with the boys.

We get to Kohl's and of course I can't find the kids' gloves section, because their kids' section is an overfilled disaster area. No one is around working, so I went to customer service (right by the kids' section anyway). They get someone to help me, who helps me by wandering around, saying "Wow, I'm sure we must have kids' gloves. I wonder where they are."

Then he gets someone else, who leads me over to their kids' gloves 2 square inch area. And they only sell glove/hat combos. For $15 a piece, and it isn't even good quality, but on the plus side, their "sale" is buy one, get one half off: useful for parents of twins at least! On the minus side, they have one set in the boys' size, and it's a hat with a single glove. Yep, no second glove. The woman says she needs to restock and will be right back with some from the back. Another mom shows up then too to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

About five minutes go by, and B-man announces he has to go to the bathroom. So we go. He takes FOREVER, over ten minutes. We go back to the imaginary glove area, that has still not been restocked. No workers in site, line at customer service is approximately one mile long.

So we left, without any gloves. I would have left without buying anything...I was that annoyed, but N-man, who is NOT potty trained, saw a set of Wonder Pets undies. He asked for them. Oh yeah, baby!

I didn't get gloves, but I do have little N-man in undies. Which is huge, since he would cry every time we tried to get him to wear underware before.

But I'm still pretty unhappy with Kohl's. Unless N-man potty trains, in which case I'll forgive them.


Current NaNo Word Count: 43,054

Current NaNo Attitude: Looking forward to a write-in tonight. I crossed the 100 page mark in Word, which was kind of exciting. I should finish my 50k words this weekend, which will take a lot of pressure off (I have a ridiculous amount of other stuff to do, including minor things like, oh, paying bills), but my novel still has a ways to go (I'm guessing 75k words final).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A veritable outpouring of love

I have some awesome bloggy friends who have been so sweet to pass along some very sweet awards to lil' ol' me. Thank you! I'm touched. And now to show off my goodies, mwahaha!

The incomparably talented Three Under Two at Lit and Laundry was kind enough to bestow this on me:

The rules ask that we link to the giver, link to the original post here, and pass it along to 5 more bloggers. So here goes:

1) Ronnica at Tale of a Kansas Girl

2) Laura C at Laura's Mommy Journal

3) Theresa at Boston Dish

4) Snickollet

5) WriterDad


Bloggy award number two, from the very sweet and wonderfully prolific poster Melodie at Me & My Girls:

I'm not sure how creative I am, though my spelling is certainly kreativ from time to time!

I have to list six things that make me happy, and then pass the award along to six more bloggers. So, here goes...

Six Things that Make Me Happy:

1) My family: TK, the boys, parents, grandparent, siblings, all of them.

2) Reese's Peanut Butter cups (darn this Halloween candy! And how come the wii fit doesn't have "Halloween candy" as one of the choices when you have to explain why you've gained weight?)

3) Good books

4) Friends

5) Crisp, cold, sunny days like today

6) Heroes (yay Mondays!)

Okay, some of that was a bit shallow. Ah well! Now to pass it along:

1) Nancy at The Zimmer Zoo

2) Epicurean at Joie de Manger

3) Goddess in Progress

4) Amnesia at Loss of Memory

5) American in Norway

6) Mary Ellen at Snacks, Please


And last but not least, another award from a fun and unbelievably prolific poster (gosh, I struggle for NaBloPoMo to post once a day, where do you get the ideas for multiple posts a day???), Nancy at The Zimmer Zoo. Thank you Nancy, even if it took me weeks to post this!


The award is written in Portuguese. Since I only know a little bit of Portuguese, I’m going to have to trust that this is an accurate description of it. ;)

The Snazzy Blog Award

This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships!

These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

Can I tell you how much I love that it's "cleverly-written" text? Well, here goes the awarding:

1) Three Under Two at Lit and Laundry

2) Melodie at Me & My Girls

3) Two Moms and A Baby

4) Giovanna at Giovanna Diaries

5) VP of Domestic Affairs

6) Rhonda at Hannah & Sophie: Watch Us Grow

7) Multiple Madness

8) Epicurean at Joie de Manger




Current NaNo Word Count: 39,404. I know, I didn't make it to 40k last night. But I did watch Heroes, so it was a fair trade.

Current NaNo Attitude: Starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel! I'm hoping to reach 50k by the end of this weekend. We'll see...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Do You Love Me?

I was talking to my mom the other day, and she asked me what LOL means. She said she sees it in a lot of comments on my blog.

I have to point out, my mom is pretty internet-savvy, for the most part. So I forget sometimes that she doesn't know all the abbreviations.

I told her that it means "Laugh out loud", and she said she thought it meant "Lots of Love", but didn't know why so many people would be saying that to me.

I kind of like Lots of Love: LOL, Momma!


Current NaNo Word Count: 39,242

Current NaNo Attitude: Hoping to cross 40k today, though I have book group tonight so we'll see! Book group is sure to be far more fun than writing ;)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

These half years are tough!

2.5 years old was rough. 3.5 years old is shaping up to be a challenge, too.

Guess what caused a 45 minute meltdown today for N-man? I unzipped his coat instead of TK.

Poor baby! It's tough to be three and a half!


Current NaNo Word Count: 35,699

Current NaNo Attitude: Real life is intruding big time. It's finally a nice-ish day after a lot of rain, so TK and I went out with the boys to rake endless quantities of leaves. The other day, I was stopped at a light and the house across the street from the light had FORTY-ONE bags of leaves out. I'm hoping we don't break that record.

What does this have to do with NaNo? Nothing. Except that I wasn't writing while I was raking. And dry leaves always make me cough. And the neighbor has a wood burning stove, so now I smell of dry leaves, bonfire, and sweat. It's a lovely combo, not at all distracting from my writing. Oh wait, you can't hear my sarcastic tone.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Just wait until they're 16!

Conversation that took place today:

B-man: I hugged N-man at circle time [at preschool].

Me: Aw, that was nice! N-man, did you hug B-man back?

N-man: No!

Me: B-man, were you hugging to be nice, or to drive N-man crazy? [B-man has a tendency to use tons of unwanted hugs and kisses to annoy N-man, so it's not like that would be without precedent.]

B-man, confused: N-man doesn't know how to drive.

Oh, you crazy idioms!


Current NaNo word count: 34,641. I've already done a good chunk of writing today while TK did errands with the boys. Isn't he the best??

Current NaNo attitude: Thinking my novel is horrible, and noticing I've made some huge mistakes, such as failing to describe what any of my main characters look like, having one character have a completely unexplained personality switch, and leaving an important secondary character out of the story for vast swaths of time (hmmm, to be written out? She may be on the chopping board!)

I realize that every novelist goes through this, and that it's completely normal for a first draft to have weaknesses, and being tuned in to these weaknesses already (which for the most part should be easy to fix with a little editing and rewriting) is a pretty good sign. But then when I'm feeling more pessimistic, I realize that every novelist goes through this thinking their novel is crap...not just successful novelists. Most novelists are right. Their novel is crap.

But as I've said before, I'd rather have a finished piece of crap at the end of November than an unfinished "am I SURE it would have been crap if I'd just made the effort" half-novel.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Do You Suffer from cold palms?

I bought a pair of fingerless gloves today. I just had to admit it.

I've always considered fingerless gloves, for most people, to be an odd, Madonna-of-the-80's-esque affectation. Sure there are always the people who need them for medical reasons, or the people who have to be outside/somewhere cold yet still retain dexterity that is lacking with gloves. But for most people: trend-victim! Get some real gloves, since the tips of your fingers are generally even colder than your palms!

But then I was outside typing the other day. It was beautiful and sunny out. I brought the laptop outside and let the kids play in the sandbox while I wrote for a half hour. But no matter how beautiful it was, it was still November. It was cold (okay, technically it's November today, too, and it's not cold, but it was cold last week when I was out there!)

My hands were cold. I couldn't wear gloves since it would interfere with my typing ability. What did I need? Fingerless gloves. All those years of judging people for their fingerless gloves, and now here I was, seeing the usefulness of them.

I put it out of my head. How often am I going to be sitting outside with my laptop in 40 degree weather? Not that often!

But then today I was at the store, and I saw fingerless gloves. Fine. Then I saw the sign above it: 60% off. Which makes sense, since it's really only 40% of a glove. I looked at the price: $3.50. Sold!

So I'm now the proud owner of fingerless gloves. I can't wait until the next 40 degree sunny day, so I can head out to the backyard to type in comfort!

And I apologize to all those fingerless glove wearers I've unfairly judged in the past.


Current NaNo Word Count: 31,695. I hope to get in another 1k or so tonight. We'll see.

Current NaNo Attitude: Wanting to take a day off. Yo, that's what December's for!

I complained yesterday about my typing skills. Then I tried out this awesome thing called Write or Die on DrWicked.com. You enter your word goal and time, and then it brings up a window for you to type in. If you stop typing for too long, the screen turns colors, and eventually sings you annoying music. So you have to keep typing constantly.

It's so fun.

I wrote 928 (crappy) words in 20 minutes yesterday, right after I'd complained that about 750 was my max typing speed. Yeah, it turns out it wasn't. I guess it's not my typing skills slowing me down regularly, but rather my thinking skills.

I don't know how often I'll use this. It was great yesterday when I was on a roll. I think it would be really good for when I'm stuck as well as it would force me to barrel through the block. But today I've been writing a hard part. I have the idea, it's just a complicated, emotionally rough section. It's been SLOW, but I've needed the time to think. So I've resisted the urge to speed things up, even though today I wrote a paltry 1,000 words in nearly two hours. See, yesterday I did about that in twenty minutes. I would hope the writing today was more gooder*, but I'm not sure the slower pace really helped all that much :)

Back to banging my head against this part of the novel!

*"More gooder" perfectly describes the incremental improvement from complete and total junk to total junk.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Favorite Books, A to Z

I've shamelessly borrowed this from Ronnica at Tale of a Kansas Girl, who borrowed it herself from someone who borrowed it from someone, etc. You get the idea. It's like a tag-free meme, with no rules at all. Well, besides the obvious of you know, using the alphabet. And picking book titles instead of movies or games or people. I guess there are some rules, but I'm not going to list them here. I trust you to figure them out.

Anyway, I've had this as an unposted entry for a few days, and I'd head back to it to whenever I thought of a new book. It was very fun. At first, I didn't think I'd be able to come up with books for each letter, and I'm still not pleased with all my choices...if you can only think of one title that starts with Z, well, that makes it your favorite even if it wasn't that good. And I'm *sure* I've left great books off here, picking an inferior selection just because I didn't think of it. But who cares? This was fun!

Anyone want to play along?

Without further ado, my list of books, from A to Z:

A - American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I know, can you believe I didn't pick The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon? It was a toss up!

B - The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. Runners up: Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut and Brave New World by Aldus Huxley. I know, I'm not going to get anywhere with this list if I don't start limiting my choices!

C - Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

D - Dead Until Dark (Book 1 in the Southern Vampire series) by Charlaine Harris. This series is light fun. It's my favorite of the vampire/romance books.

E - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. This is the one book on this list that I wish EVERYONE would read!

F - Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

G - A Game of You (The Sandman, Volume 5) by Neil Gaiman. A stand-in for the whole Sandman series, though this does happen to be my favorite story line.

H - The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

I - Imajica by Clive Barker

J - John Adams by David McCullough

K - Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

L - Lost in a Good Book (Book 2 of the Thursday Next series) by Jasper Fforde. This book is standing in for the whole series. The first book, The Eyre Affair, just couldn't compete with my favorite book of all-time for the "E" slot!

M - Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

N - Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

O - The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

P - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Q - Queen of Sorcery (Book 2 in The Belgariad series) by David Eddings. Pickin's were slim for Q, though I do honestly like this series.

R - The Road to Wellville by T. C. Boyle

S - Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

T - The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

U - Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. The whole series is good, though I liked this, the first book, best.

V - Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. Good, though not my favorite of their work. But special for being the first time they worked together, and it wasn't like there was a lot of competition for the letter V. What was I going to pick? Visions of Sugar Plums?

W - The Watchmen by Alan Moore. Or perhaps The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami. They're so different, it's hard to pick. I swear, I'm trying to limit myself to one choice per letter!

X - Xenocide by Orson Scott Card. Another book in the Ender series. Outstanding, and I would have picked this even if it didn't happen to be the only book I can think of that starts with the letter X.

Y - The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

Z - Zodiac by Neal Stephenson. This book was just okay, but there wasn't really any competition for book titles starting with Z! At least not that I could think of!

That was fun! Though I was thinking what an easy job of it any Sue Grafton super-fans would have!


Current NaNo Word Count: 28,446

Current NaNo Attitude: Had a fun write-in last night, and hit my highest single day word count of the year (3,324 words yesterday...I know, that's not huge, but I've been trying not to burn out this year). I'm not going to have much writing time today, though, but I'll deal. Hopefully I'll still be able to hit my goal of 2k words today so I don't eat into the cushion I built up yesterday. But if I don't quite make it, well, I do have that cushion from yesterday :)

We did some 20 minute word sprints yesterday at the write-in. The idea is that you write full-out for 20 minutes, then see who "won". I'm in a class by myself, and it's right in the middle of the pack. Two of the women are far better typists than I...they both hit over 1,000 words in twenty minutes. I just can't type that fast. I've been doing my own 20 minute word sprints, and my very best are in the mid-seven hundreds. That's if I type full-out and never have to stop for word choice, or to think about what is going to happen next. Most of my word sprints end up in the 550-650 range. But there's no one at the write-in who writes at that pace...I'm stuck right between the people who write between 350-450, then the people who write 800-1,000. I sure wish there was someone there in my general typing skill range! And I think perhaps I better work on my speed typing skills sometime after November. Sometimes my mind is working faster than my fingers, and I wish my fingers could keep up! Though perhaps it's best that my fingers force me to slow down. I think quality might take an even bigger hit than it's already taken if I could type more quickly!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I fancified my comfort food!

Some of you may be surprised to hear it, but I haven't always loved cooking. Oh, I've always loved food, and always loved eating, but cooking wasn't something I was particularly good at, or particularly interested in learning about.

But as I learned more and became more daring in my cooking, I found I really enjoyed it. Now I find it fairly relaxing, and kind of fun.

The first things I learned to cook were comfort foods. My mom is a big-time comfort food master: soups, stews, casseroles are her signature dishes (what do you think mom, is that a fair assessment?) Beef stew and turkey chili were two of the first dishes I learned to make.

Now I cook all kinds of things and like to try new ingredients. But this week, I think I finally reached a new level of cooking...I succumbed to the urge to fancy-up my comfort food.

I made a batch of homemade mac & cheese, and on half of the casserole, I topped it with caramelized shallots and goat cheese* instead of crumbled ritz crackers.

It was yummy, though it felt a little frou-frou, like if I'm going to add goat cheese and caramelized shallots, I should use some unusually-shaped pasta and more adventurous cheeses than cheddar and colby for the cheese sauce.

I'll definitely be making this again, though, despite the incongruity of the pairing.

*This wasn't my creation. I'd read a recipe in some cooking magazine. I'm guessing Bon Appetit. I used my own mac & cheese recipe, though, just borrowed their topping idea.


Current NaNo Word Count: 26,707

Current NaNo Attitude: It was nice to cross the half-way mark, and to still be on track to finish before 11/25. Looking forward to the write-in I'll be attending tonight! It's not all sunshine and roses, though, in that I'm a little mixed up about what's going to happen next. Ah, psycho-plotting is on the agenda. When in doubt, have something very bad happen to your characters. I don't think it's going to be a good day for the folks in my novel! Mwahahahaha!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not Much to Report

It's a nice day today. TK is home, so we've been busy. Then he gave me an hour or so to write. A fun day. I almost forgot to post a blog entry, though!

I made some crispy duck breast with Bok Choy and fried rice for dinner. I thought it was yummy. TK thought it was yummy. B-man didn't eat a bite. N-man liked the duck, but he wouldn't try the bok choy. He said, and I quote, "I don't like to eat grass."

Hmm, bok choy doesn't look much like grass to me. I suspect he's never going to be a vegetarian!

We went to a used book store today, and I got a whole slew of new books to tempt me away from the novel I'm *supposed* to be writing. I'll have to pace myself. I just started Reefer Madness.

Okay, that's it. I really do need to get back to writing. I've only written about 1,500 words today, and I'd really like to hit at least 2k. Of course, tomorrow should be a good day (knock wood) with the boys in preschool in the morning and a write-in in the evening. But I'm still trying not to slack off today. I don't want to be playing catch-up tomorrow!


Current NaNo Word Count: 24,371...almost half-way there!

Current NaNo Attitude: Getting hit by the "this is so terrible!"'s. Trying to power through them. I'd rather have a terrible novel finished at the end of the month, than no novel finished! I'm also wishing I could have talked a friend into this crazy journey. It'd be fun to have someone along for the ride. Oh well...

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Concert Report

Stealing shamelessly from Nancy at The Zimmer Zoo, today I'm listing the concerts I've seen. My list is less hilarious than Nancy's, really only because I never saw NKOTB. But I did see Weird Al, so perhaps it's a tie.

I'm sure I've forgotten some. There are whole concerts I can't remember who played*. The college I attended had big concerts each Fall and Spring and had a whole slew of bands play each time. Usually they were smaller name bands, that either didn't impress me, or I never heard from again. Or I just missed. For example, I know I was at a Spring Fest where Iggy Pop played, but I also know I left before he came on. But I can't, for the life of me, remember who played before I left. So here goes, vaguely in chronological order, the concerts I can think of at the moment:

  • The Goo Goo Dolls. I've seen them a whole slew of times. The first time was at a show called Rock It To Russia, a fundraiser of local bands to help raise money for one of my friend's violin ensemble tour Eastern Europe. That's where I fell in love with them. I also saw them at a college Spring Fest on a date one year long before I was actually in college. I saw them at a free concert in the square series, where I fainted (from the heat, not in some weird "Oh, the Beatles" kind of way). I saw them outside Atlanta at a big show of a ton of bands.
  • 10,000 Maniacs. Anyone who knows music and sees these first two bands is going to be entirely unsurprised to find out I'm from the Buffalo area. I've seen the 10,000 Maniacs a couple of times. It was my first "official" concert and was so fun. I went with my girlfriend C., who was at many, many of these shows with me.
  • The Cure. I've seen them twice, once on the Disintegration Tour, once on the Wish Tour. As previously discussed, the Disintegration Tour was one of the best shows I've even seen. Amazing! The Wish Tour was kind of disappointing, but I still love The Cure.
  • At the Disintegration Tour, I saw The Pixies and Love and Rockets open for The Cure. Both bands were really amazing!
  • REM. We had amazing seats for The Green Tour...only a few rows back. It was a good show, though I remember more that Throwing Muses opened for them and made me want to kill myself, they were so bad. It seemed endless, and they hold the record for "worst opening band I've ever seen".
  • The Sugarcubes, New Order, and Public Image Ltd. The Sugarcubes were amazing, and New Order was far better than I expected. While I'm too young to have been around in the Sex Pistol days, it was kind of exciting to see Johnny Rotten. Of course, somehow I ended up in the very front row of a general admittance stadium when he came out. Talk about getting SQUASHED! Luckily some guy pulled me out...right into the middle of a slam pit. I survived, a bit battered for the unexpected moshing, but a fun day overall.
  • Sinead O'Connor. I saw her on the tour for I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got. There was some kind of controversy at the time, I think it was about the national anthem, though it was a non-issue at the concert. What I remember most vividly from this show is that there was a guy there who looked a lot like Tommy Lee of Motley Crue fame.
  • The B-52's. I saw them at the local University (where I later attended). I have an embarrassing story from this show that I'll never share in a venue where my mom is reading. Sorry, Mom! But I feel like between REM and the B-52's, it was foreshadowing that I'd move to Georgia.
  • Rush. I know, you're thinking, "wow, that came out of nowhere!". I think you'd have to be from Buffalo to understand how someone who clearly had punk/new wave preferences would be in love with a classic rock band. What can I say? I've seen them three times. They put on a great show. Classic rock kind of drives me crazy for the most part, but I really love Rush.
  • Guns and Roses, Metallica, and Faith No More. Was anyone else at this show? What a great tour! What a recipe for disaster! Faith No More was terrible, but GnR and Metallica kind of rocked.
  • Spin Doctors, Mighty Mighty Bostones, and various other bands. This was the first Fall Fest I went to in college, and is memorable mainly for being the first date TK and I went on. If you can count walking from the dorms over to a free concert as a date. I do :)
  • The Dead Milkmen. I love them! I saw them in a bar, and it was so much fun. I've always been a little bit in love with Joe from The Dead Milkmen!
  • Meatloaf. I saw him in a mid-sized venue for the Back Into Hell tour. I wasn't too excited about the show, but it ended up being really incredible.
  • Weird Al. I went with two girlfriends and saw Weird Al at a county fair while I was in college. It was weird, as might be expected ;). We were the only people there who were older than 12, but younger than old-enough-to-have-a-12-year-old. I don't care, Weird Al is great!
  • Billy Joel. I saw Billy Joel with TK. TK is from Long Island, plays piano, and as a result, has a weird fixation on Billy Joel that I believe can only be fully appreciated by other Long Islanders. It was a good show, though I'm not quite as in love with Billy Joel as TK is. TK has seen Billy Joel countless time, but I've only seen him that once.
  • Sarah McLaughlin. Pretty good.
  • Lilith Fair, where we saw Natalie Merchant, Bonnie Raitt, K's Choice, Queen Latifa, and a number of other bands. The Indigo Girls weren't on the lineup that year (1998), but we saw the tour in Atlanta and The Indigo Girls popped up on stage a few times to join other artists. It was a fun show, notable because I went with TK, and a friend and her husband. TK and our friend were two of the only guys there!
  • In the late 90's, I went to a show in Atlanta with a lot of bands. I can't think who was there. I know we saw The Goo Goo Dolls, the main draw for me. I believe Big Bad Voodoo Daddies were there, though I think we left before that. I just can't remember who else we saw here. The Goo Goo Dolls were good, though!
  • Ben Folds and The Fray. Ben Folds was, of course, absolutely amazing. I was also pleasantly suprised by The Fray, who I'd never heard of before. I went home and ordered their CD. Of course, like 2 months later, their songs were in practically every TV show imaginable and omnipresent on the radio. And now they've kind of disappeared. They put on a good live show, is all I can say.
That's all I can think of at the moment.

So what do you think? You want to play along as well? That was kind of fun!

*Geez, I reread that and it sounds like I was drunk or stoned all the time. No, nothing that interesting. I just have a bad memory.


Ugh, my personal website is down today. I don't know what's up...I like our hosting service, except they FORGET TO BILL US! This is the second time it's happened. Um, I'd pay, if you'd just send me an email asking me to pay. We pay a whole year at a time, so it's not like it's on the top of my mind like it would be if I paid each month. Jerks! I'm not getting any email today.

Gotta go fix this!


Current NaNo Word Count: 22781. That includes today's writing, as I got in a few hours this morning while the kids were at preschool. I might get in a few hundred more words, or maybe not. I'm taking the evening off to watch Chuck and Heroes. Hey, priorities!

Current NaNo Attitude: Having fun!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lazy Sunday

We're having a lazy Sunday here in the House of Cards. TK played some piano while the kids and I sang and danced around the house. We did a bunch of puzzles, we colored, we made some butterscotch pudding.

Most weekends we're running around like crazy, trying to make it to different places and fit in different errands. It's kind of nice having a day to do nothing. The boys are now playing quietly together (I know, small miracle!), and TK has fallen asleep on the couch. And I'm blogging.

Will the excitement never stop??

I don't know about you, but it's days like these that are special, when we have time to slow down and just be instead of do.

Of course, B-man just complained, "Mommmmm, we're not doing ANYTHING!"

So perhaps I better get on my cruise director hat and switch to "doing" mode!

Michael Chabon is quite possibly the greatest author ever. I should give him his very own label on my blog, since I'm clearly in love with him. I'm reading The Mysteries of Pittsburgh for my book group, and it's so incredibly well-written that I could almost cry. The story is good so far, though no Kavalier and Klay, but the actual writing is such a treat.

I was talking to TK, who argued that you shouldn't notice how well-written something is...that it shouldn't be a distraction. And I agree to a certain extent. I don't like writing where the author is clearly trying too hard to write LITERATURE. You know what I mean, right? Chabon's prose isn't flashy, though it does tend to draw me out of the story sometimes just to marvel at how perfect it is.

What do you think? Any opinions about distractingly well-written novels? Is that a problem? The only other author who has routinely made me stop reading to actually notice his writing is Kurt Vonnegut.

Current NaNo word count: 18,526

Current NaNo attitude: Chugging away, hoping to cross 20k today! I finished one major section of my book yesterday, which was kind of exciting, though I'm feeling the slow down of new characters/world building required in a new setting.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ugh, I keep getting turned away!

Okay, I'm getting a complex.

I get sick. A lot. But luckily, rarely seriously (knock wood!). Especially with twins in preschool, though, I catch a lot of minor colds.

What does that mean, besides that I'm constantly just a little bit sick? Well, I found out a few weeks ago it means I can't donate blood, even if it's just a runny nose.

More annoyingly, today I got turned away at the flu clinic. The nurse heard me coughing in line, and she said, "No flu shot for you!"

When am I supposed to get a flu shot, then? If I can't get a flu shot when I have a cold, isn't November a little late to have the very first (and only) flu shot clinic? Granted, I've been sick on and off since mid-September, and that probably would have been pretty early to get a flu shot, but come one! Doesn't everyone have a cold by the time November rolls around? Shouldn't they have let the "normal" folks get flu shots last month, instead of only offering them to "high risk" patients?

I swear, next year I'm arguing that having kids in preschool should qualify me for the "high risk" group.

What a pain in the patootie. If it's so important to get a flu shot (and I agree that it is), why do doctor's offices always make it so inconvenient to get one? I told the nurse today that I had to get my flu shot, even though I was sick, because I wasn't going to risk the flu this year. Luckily, she said once I was better, I could call and make an appointment to get a shot; she didn't think there'd be a flu shot shortage this year. So now I just have to hope that I can shake this cold before I catch the next. And that she wasn't kidding about them not running out of flu shots.

Have you gotten your flu shot?


Current NaNo Word Count: 15374

Current NaNo Attitude: I have a headache. Oh, that has nothing to do with my novel. It's just feeling more like work today, maybe because it's a weekend. Luckily, my awesome husband is taking the boys to the zoo after lunch, so I'll get an hour or two to focus.

Friday, November 7, 2008

More Celebrity Crushing

It's a Friday, I'm not proud. Today's post is going to be all about those good ol' celebrity crushes.

How fun it was to see the near universal appeal of Matt Damon among my blog readers. I always suspected my readers had exceedingly good taste.

There were some great mentions in the comments. John Cusack, James Marsden, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Stiles. I don't get the whole George Clooney thing, nor the appeal of Jake Gyllenhaal. I suspect I am in the minority on that, though.

So here goes, my not at all vapid post for the day. (Hey, remember when my blog earned a reading level of Junior High? And today, we all know I deserved it!)

I think I was going too broad on Wednesday with my post. I mean, even for celebrities, it's hard to be perfect. So I've created some categories of hotness. Please, leave a comment and give me your vote in whatever categories you'd like. Or make up your own categories.

Overall Hottest: I'm still voting Matt Damon. I'll give Johnny Depp a runner-up vote, though.

Hottest Politician: I know, a bunch of you said Obama. But I have to go with Jens Stoltenberg, the prime minister of Norway. Thanks to American in Norway for bringing the Norway!

Nancy had a good vote for Julia Stiles. I could see that. But I'm sorry, Kristen Bell gets my vote.

Hottest Fake News Guy: Jon Stewart.

Hottest Member of the Crew of Firefly: Sorry to the guys on board, but none of them can keep up with Zoe (Gina Torres). Jayne and Simon put up a little resistance, but come on. She's ridiculous.

Hottest 80's Hair Band Dude: Sebastian Bach, formerly of Skid Row fame. Did anyone catch him on Gilmore Girls? Genius!

Hottest and Most Awesome Spouse a Girl Could Ever Want: TK. Awww. I'm a lucky gal, I tell ya!


Current NaNo Word Count: It was 13,060 last night. I got in a good chunk of writing already today, though, so I'm currently at 14,681. I'll probably get another 500 or 1,000 in tonight, if all goes well. At the very least, I'd like to break 15k.

Current NaNo attitude: Kind of pissed at Michael Chabon. See, I'm struggling in my novel to capture the voice of a character who is just a little pompous, slightly arrogant and know-it-all-y, without being over the top. It's not easy!

Then I pick up our book group selection for the month, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. And in the first chapter, he kind of does it. I mean, I'm not far into the novel. Maybe the character isn't supposed to be a pompous, and I'm just projecting, but I think, I suspect, he's perfectly captured the voice I've been stumbling around. Jerk.

Seriously, he's an awesome writer. Reading him while I'm trying to write is an odd combination of encouraging and discouraging. Encouraging because it's always exciting to read great writing, and hoping to be able to do something half as great yourself. Discouraging, well, I'm sure you get that piece...the danger of "I'll never be as good as...". Which is true, though I keep reminding myself that there are plenty of authors who aren't as good as...whomever you want to compare them to with a more enjoyable novel.

I will say there's an over-abundance of description in this first chapter of his novel. Whenever I'm stuck, I start describing stuff, so this, to me, read like someone who was having trouble getting started. Still good, though. Oh heck, I should read more than 20 pages of a book before I start critiquing it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Facebook Etiquette

So, am I allowed to friend an ex-boyfriend on Facebook and be all "What the heck?"

Hee! I love facebook.

Don't worry, I haven't been sitting around for the past twenty years pining over this boy. I was pretty much past that within a month of our breakup. Anyone who knew me in high school knows I didn't waste much time pining about the ones who got away when there were always the ones to still get on the horizon.

It was just a weird relationship. I'm curious about it, in a "I'd forgotten pretty much about it until I saw he was on facebook" kind of way. He was far more popular than I was in the lovely stratified social world of high school...the first person I dated where random girls would come up to me in the hallway or cafeteria and threaten me.

Didn't you just love high school, I ask sarcastically?

Anyway, he was really nice to me, right up to the day he broke up with me.

It was pretty confusing, but as I said, I got over it. But I've always felt like there was a story there that I missed. I feel like I was very much a bit character in a larger story that I didn't get to read.

Maybe I'll write my own story about it. I'm sure it'd be far more interesting than the reality. Maybe he could have been visited by a future version of himself telling him he needed to break up with me so that I could go on and meet TK and have twin boys who one day would save the universe. Or maybe he was some kind of Jekyll/Hyde monster, and the evil half took over. Or maybe he just really liked the girl he broke up with me for. Hmm, that sounds the most reasonable but least intersting. I think I'll go with the "the universe fated me to end up with TK version". Yo, thanks, universe! You got that one right!

Any budding YA authors have an alternate explanation they'd like to write? I think this is far more fun and less stalker-y than finding him in Facebook and demanding an explanation nearly 20 years later.


You're all awesome. You're all so sweet! Comment burnout hadn't occurred to me. I could see I still had as many readers as normal, but instead of 10% leaving comments, only like 2% were leaving comments. I was feeling a little low. I promise to be a little less needy from now on ;)

But we can all come together to discuss hotties, right?

I have to do a follow up post about that one. I have more opinions about all your comments. I'll probably write it tomorrow, so it's your last chance to leave your vote for your celebrity crush.


Current NaNo Word Count: 10,830.

Current NaNo attitude: Much improved! I went to a write-in last night. I was in a bad place, struggling for every word of my novel, really hitting a brick wall. The change of venue was just what I needed, though. We spent too much time talking when we first got there, though it was good to get to know everyone and I certainly wasn't complaining as I was in a spot where it was NOT fun to be writing.

Then we got to work. I put a 500 word challenge out there (race to 500 words), and got trounced. Not surprising as I was still very much TRAPPED in my novel. Who said "No plot, no problem"? Because no plot....PROBLEM!

Did a 20 minute sprint, and I churned out a little over 500 words. Most of it random description that will probably be cut in the first edit I hate to say. Writing just to be writing, hoping that something would shake loose. And you know what? It did. It was amazing. The next part of my novel opened right up.

Some people had to leave, but the three of us left did another 20 minute sprint. And I hit nearly 750 words. That's almost 40 words a minute. I didn't even know I was capable of typing that fast.

It was amazing. There was a different energy about writing with a group, and it was just what I needed. This morning a huge plot point finally coalesced for me. I'm back on track, idea-wise. Which probably means I should stop blogging and start writing. Though the Backyardigans my kids are watching is almost over so I guess I'll be playing, which'll be fun, too.

Oh, and I crossed the 10k mark. 1/5 of the way to the goal of 50k words, though I'm starting to notice that once again, just like last year, my novel is going to be more like 75k words. No way will I get 75k words done this month. Ah well, still aiming for 50k this month, and the other 25k will be a problem for December.

Still nervous about the upcoming time constraints, but once again enjoying the challenge!