Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Lesson Well Spent

A few weeks back, I started thinking of ideas for holiday decorating. My theme was old timey, but in a sparkly 1930's movie way (ie. my fave film, The Thin Man). I started purchasing silvery balls to dangle from the ceiling and sparkly candles shaped like trees. I bought some glass candle holders in which to put red tapers and a garland made to look like icicles. On Sunday, while kidlet was napping, I thought I'd surprise her and have a sparkly, shiny decoration filled living room. Well, I put the stuff up and...it was spartan. Sparkly, yes, but cold and sparse. It may have worked in a sleek, modern home, but not on our weathered brick mantle. I was mad. I grumbled and took it all down (except for the tree candles). As I was packing the remaining stuff, I kvetched to myself about how I spent all this money and it all looked like crap. And then I stopped. Why did I spend all this money? Am I trying to buy an instant golden holiday memory with the junk that I put on the mantle? And I realized, yes, that was what I was trying to do. I put up our mismatched holiday stockings next to the tree candles and started making new plans. Maybe we'll go for a walk and pick up some pinecones or branches. Maybe I'll get kidlet to paint a picture in holiday colors. Maybe none of these things will happen but that's ok. Whatever happens, happens. I can't force a good yule on my family. In fact, that's a mighty bad idea. You'd think I'd know better. A lesson (re)learned.

We did get our tree this weekend and hubby pulled out a box of ornaments that his mom had brought by. It was the instant nostalgia fix that I was looking for. Old elves and gnomes, baked dough ornaments painted by a small hand, hubby's first ornament...the tree looks great. The photo above is a little corner that kidlet had decorated. I tried but couldn't get decent pictures of kidlet's decorating style, which consists of about half a dozen star ornaments all dangling precariously from a single spindly branch. Hmmm, I just typed 'brandy', instead of 'branch'. Talk about instant holiday cheer...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Five Words--Holiday Addendum Edition

1. Parade--Ummm, not as good as remembered. The whole first hour was celebrity interviews with people I've never heard of (as we don't watch tv except for The Office, which we download from iTunes). Lots of Broadway show bits. By the time the parade really commenced, an hour later, I was over it.

2. Nutcracker--Oh boy. I decided this was going to be the year kidlet wanted to float about like a sugar plum fairy but I think I decided this about 2 years too early. We pop in the video, I'm bursting with excitement. Kidlet is rapt. Then the tree grows, mice appear, ominous music, the Nutcracker turned into a Macaulay Culkin with a beard...oh dear. "Turn it off! Turn it off! I'm scary!" Ok, that will be put away for a few years. Maybe I'll have to pick up a Muppet Christmas Carol to make up for it.

3. Stress--What is it about holidays that makes me stress out even though we weren't officially doing the giga-feasting thing yesterday? (That's coming tomorrow.) I was snappy on and off all day. It started when I strayed from my pancake breakfast tendencies to make salmon scrambled eggs with mashed potato cakes. Nothing was done at the same time, kidlet was whiny, dogs wanted in and out of the house...oy vey. I'll have to figure out what sets me off. Maybe it was all those tv celebs on the parade broadcast that got under my skin.

4. Pie--I made apple pie yesterday and I think I am getting closer to my pie goals. It wasn't pretty, as they suggested an egg wash which just made it look overdone, hence no photo. But I worked more with the crust recipe and I have some ideas in mind to make it work for me. The filling was pretty good, but could have been a wee bit better. I think by strawberry-rhubarb season, I'll have this down.

5. Nora--The sweet doggina in the photo. One thing I am definitely thankful for this holiday is that she's still kicking and doing well (knock wood). It's too dang cute when kidlet goes up to Nora, puts her arms around Nora's neck and coos "Nora, my sweet dog". Nora looks stoically ahead and never loses her temper with kidlet. Keep on, keepin' on my sweet dog.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

On Why I Dig Thanksgiving by Ani

The beginning...

Thanksgiving as a kid was fun, but it was merely a prelude to the Christmassy (and birthday)goodness to come. I remember watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on T.V., wanting to be on a float or in a band, marching in the parade. The finale, when Santa comes down the street on the last float, had me glowing with excitement. Christmas! It's on its way! Holiday specials! Rudolph! Frosty! Charlie Brown! Going to the Nutcracker! You get the picture.

The Halcyon Days...

Once far removed from home, Thanksgiving didn't have much meaning. Or at least that's what I thought the first year we were in New Orleans. But every year after that first year, Thanksgiving grew in importance. It all changed when Hubby had to work and I went to a coworker's home for an "orphans'" Thanksgiving. I didn't expect much but I was gloriously suprised. Mark Bell, our host, made a turkey roulade, deboning the entire turkey, pounding it thin and then rolling up bacon and all sorts of herbs inside. Tons of food was consumed as was copious amounts of REALLY good wine. The memory of that evening is now behind a golden haze but I do remember emphatic discussions about gumbo making and tales from an Icelandic coworker who used to run around and drink homemade vodka with Bjork. Hubby came as soon as he finished working, snacked on what little was left and poured me into the car to take me home. Every year was a little different after this but Thanksgiving started to mean something more to me. I was blessed with a group of amazing friends who loved good food, fun and wine. It also didn't hurt that Thanksgiving was opening day at the New Orleans Fairgrounds racetrack. We'd go spend 20 bucks playing the ponies, watching the immaculately dressed professional bettors with their multicolored suits and pork pie hats. Oysters on the half shell. Beer. Then off to someone's home to eat and collapse in a sated heap.


Those wildly fun Thanksgivings are just happy memories now but the holiday's meaning remains. It's not just parades or food (wine). It's remembering what's good in life. I've sort of come full circle, now that I have kidlet to watch as she watches the parades and then creates her own path. Hope you have lots of good things to think about this feasting day.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Weekend in Review

It's a weird not having to race around, do homework, do housework and then just shoe-horn in the last few moments of the day for fun. This weekend, it was definitely the opposite approach. We went to a Christmas tree lighting (yes, before Thanksgiving...I don't know what to make of that either) with some friends of ours who then came up for dinner. Kidlet ushered the 1.25 year old into her bedroom and shut the door. Wild laughter erupted from her room and the adults got to relax a little too. Later, I heard mad giggling from the bathroom where the toilet was holding a flotilla of rubber ducks.

I didn't do as much crafty stuff as expected (I did manage to cast on one project) but I was a cooking fiend. I worked on my 'make a decent pie' goal and made a mediocre pumpkin pie from the last CSA pumpkin. I made a kickin' cranberry upside-down pumpkin cake. Yeeeoooow! I made pancakes (of course) and I also made carrot soup. I don't think the camera even came out 0f my bag this weekend but I'm looking forward to having Thursday off and playing with that Duaflex. I'd better start making my little tube connector for the digicam.

I still feel like I'm playing hooky and I'd better get it all in as fast as I can. You'd think I'd been working on a Master's thesis or something for all the hub bub I'm making. Sheesh. Oh well, I gotta celebrate the small victories so I keep my momentum up, right? Raise another glass...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Five Words: The Project Edition

Now that I have come out of my 'wow, I finished my class, now I'll raise a glass' haze, it's time to think about the good stuff...creativity! Projects!

1. Knitting--I am so dang ready! I've been seeing stuff I want to knit EVERYWHERE. I saw this in the latest Anthropologie catalog and am inspired. I have a blue bunny sitting in my head made of Rowan Soft Baby. Christmas gifts that still can't be talked about. Socks made of this. I'm hoping I can maybe cast on tonight but I've got some work stuff to take care of when I get home tonight and I really have to start making pie dough as I've got three pumpkins and a box of apples that need transforming.

2. Holiday Cards--I really want to make my own this year. I don't send too many out any more, which is sad because that means I've lost touch with a lot of folks. But on the other hand, that means I might be able to make cards since I only need to make 8 to 10! Seeing the good side of everything, eh? I drew up a little elf-y guy last week and last year (yes, last year) I doodled a reindeer in a necktie that I still like. I bought some blank cards at Ben Franklin last year for when Ruby painted our cards and glitterized everyone's homes but they just aren't the quality I'd like to have. Anyone have any good ideas for getting quality blank cards really fast?

3. Craft Fair--Last year was the first year that work did a holiday craft fair. I made baked goodies that flew out the door. I knew all year the craft fair was coming again and no, I didn't do any planning and now I guess I'm making baked goods again. Last year, I made three different types of brownies (super-choco, mint and peanut butter), Pinky's brown sugar fudge, and chocolate chip cookies. This year, I think I'm going to keep it down to chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter brownies (by special request of a fave coworker), super-choco brownies and a vegan treat (unknown at this point). I've never baked vegan but we do have some vegan folks here and I could tell they were bummed when they asked me last year if any of the treats were friendly for them. Hence the question...anyone out there know any good vegan cookie/treat recipes?

4. Decorations--OH I'M SO EXCITED FOR THE HOLIDAYS! I like to change up the look of the house. Right now, I'm planning the decorations for our little mantle. I think I'm going with a snowy frosty theme with silver, white and either pale blue or red (or both). I'm trying to pull together this stuff a little early, I know it's not even Thanksgiving, but I want to try my very best to keep the holiday as stress-free and relaxed as possible. So I will do all my 'hustle 'n bustle' now.

5. Inspiration--Started reading my Moomin book last night and Tove Jansson's drawings are so simple and beautiful. I need to start drawing a heck of a lot more often.

Ok, I thought blogger lost my post for a moment there so I'd better send it on its merry way. And have yourself a merry little weekend...see, I am in the holiday spirit.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Oh. My.
I can hardly believe it. The dent in my finger from writing as quickly as I could is the only evidence I have that I finished my class this morning. Umm, I think I slayed on the first half of the test, but the essay. Oh, the essay...I do believe I bombed that portion. But it is time to let that go. Till February when I start it all over again...bye bye!

The mail I received yesterday was just in time for the last day in class. I received my Kodak Duaflex camera so I can play at doing this. The camera is in rougher shape than advertised on ebay, but for my purposes, it should be fine. The Moomin book came too! Woo hoo! And the other stuff in the photo are just other goodies I'm looking forward to doing...knitting needles (of course) and learning a few 'easy' Christmas favorites for piano.

Still trying to clear my head of school and jump into the workday so that's it for now, my friends.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Yes, those boots...

It was one of those mornings where kidlet takes her time doing everything. Brush teeth? Twice. Elaborate hairdo request? Yup. They are merely ponytails, but this is hard for the hair-impaired such as myself. I ask which shoes she'd like and the answer was "sneakers". We start to put them on. "I want to tie, Mama! Let me do it!" "Honey," (undercurrent of impatience starts to swell) "You need to let me do it. If we had more time, you could try. We. Have. To. Go. Now." Coats are debated over. "Yellow." No, it's too chilly for that one. "Pink." We start out the door. "BOOOOOOTS! I WANNA WEAR MY BOOTS!" "Honey. We. Have. To. Go. NOW." "BOOOOOTS..." The tears start. I snap at her, "We don't have time to go back. We are running late! NO." Full crying mode. We get in the car and drive. Between sniffles, she sings her new favorite sad song by Gonzo on the Muppet CD. My heart is broken.

I am a schmuck. How long would it have taken to change into boots? Mmm, maybe a minute. I can blame it on my lack of sleep last night, the stress of work and school but really, she's a two year old. Patience, Ani, patience! Please, throw overripe tomatoes at me and give me stern looks. Thank you.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Geeking Out

Still geeking out on the camera thing. I started thinking about going SLR but the weight and size (and crazy cost) of those things means I won't be carrying it with me all the time. So there we were, strolling about the computer store, daydreaming of gigantic iMacs, when I sauntered over to the cameras to see if they had the Nikon I had been considering. Well, I then ran across the Canon Powershot A640. Ok, game over. Canon, you win. I will now be saving my pennies for you. 10 megapixels, ton of control, not too big, crazy movable LED...all for the same price as the Nikon. No image stabilization but the ISOs make up (at least a little) for it. It gets rave reviews too. Ok, you may now return to your regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon fun. Mine is called, 'studying for test'.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Five Words

Originally uploaded by Pancakemama.
Hip hip horray! It's Friday! Let's all do a bed jump in celebration...

1. Nora--Yes, that's the cute dog on the bed. She went to the vet this week to get routine bloodwork for her hip medicine and our beloved vet, said that Nora is doing well (Nora has cancer, for those who just tuned in). My hypochondria has expanded to my dog and this assuages it for at least 5 minutes. I sure do love that silly, sweet dog.

2. Thanksgiving (planning stage)--So excited. I really do love Thanksgiving. I'll save the stories for the actual day but right now it's planning. Lists! Recipes! I'll be making my super easy, super yummy cranberry sauce. I was tempted by another recipe but I think I'll just make that one just for fun, not for the holiday when everyone is expecting the usual. Last year , I made an amazing mushroom stuffing that will now be a feast staple. I think we will also be cubing some butternut squash, tossing it in olive oil, rosemary and sea salt and roasting it till tender. Hubby and I only eat seafood so I think we'll do some salmon and let someone else take care of the turkey. I made the turkey for the first time last year, and, well, it made me cry with anger. It told me it was done and then it wasn't. Delayed feast. Wine was imbibed. Mushroom stuffing was eaten and all was better.

3. Leaves--Must. Rake. Leaves. The trees are almost done with their drop which makes me sad. Now it will be bare trees for months. Time to get to work and sow the seeds for the summer flowers. Whew. Busy weekend ensues.

4. EARLY!--I hear we're closing up early today! Hubby and I may sneak out for sushi!!!!!! Woo hoo! Hope it all works out...

5. Bloggy friends--I really dig y'all. It's been so much fun seeing little bits of other people's lives, exchanging support and inspiration. Love it!

Hugs and cozy weekend fun to all!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


You'd think I was working toward PhD, the way I rant on about school. Nope. Just a little BA (heh heh) so I can then get a Masters as either an Archivist or in Library Sciences. Anyway...
I finished writing my paper for my class last night. Now it's just a test and then I have a break (YAY!!!) until I decide I'm ready for another online class. This class would have been long over had it not been for a 38 inch high imp. That's ok though. If I didn't try to work on school now, in five years I'd look back and say, "dang, I could have almost been done with school (and have a new career) by now". Keep on, keepin' on...

My head is full of ideas this morning. As soon as I get the photos scanned in, I'm going to do some 'long lost friends' posts in the hopes that maybe one of these folks will be googling themselves, find my post and then get in contact with me. I can always hope, eh?

Then I found a perfect oak leaf on my walk in to work this morning. I decided I'm going to clean off all the junk on my work desk and start a little seasonal display of stuff I collect from outside. It's an idea that was kind of sparked by The Children's Year (full of good ideas, this book is).

Ok, it's an uber-hectic day here so off I go. You can stop by flickr if you want any gory details of what is on my desk.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Road Ahead

the road ahead
Originally uploaded by Pancakemama.
Almost there...almost there...

That's my mantra right now. I just need to finish writing this paper, take a test and then voila! I'll be done with the class. Whew...what a long, boring trip that's been. I'm hoping to sneak out of work early today to make the paper thing happen. BUT THAT WOULD BE AFTER I VOTE. Vote, my friends. Vote early, vote often (ok, I'm just kidding on the often part).

And then planning! List making! Crafting! Egg-nogging! Camera shopping! The hubby said that since I'm so interested in making photos that maybe I should upgrade. (Happy dance, happy dance). However, I have no money for upgrading at this moment. I'll do a little saving and see what happens. Right now, this looks like my new friend. I have a Nikon right now and have been really pleased with it. The jump from 3 to 8 megapixels and the image stabilization features would be awesome. Anyway, I've got time. My little camera has been doing pretty well.

Enough tech-y talk, I'd better get working if I want to skee-daddle a little early.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Five Words

1--Photos. Dang, I really really really want to start taking more photos. I was a photo major in college for a while (in between French, English, and now I'm a History major). I miss the weekends in the darkroom, the acrid smell of the chemistry, checking test strips and best of all ...the magic of getting the photo you were hoping for! I also love digital photography because by nature I'm impatient and hate waiting for a lab to send back (or destroy--but that's a horrible story) the results.

2--Slackin'. I've been slackin' on thie blog. I guess my mood hasn't been the best as of late and I don't feel like I would be 'planting positive seeds' by kvetching about it here.

3--Dancing. We've been reading Angelina Ballerina and now kidlet wants to be a dancer too (an aside: I don't dig the commercialness of the Angelina empire, but I do like the book). Luckily, we're hitting this interest at the perfect season. I just ordered Balanchine's Nutcracker on DVD. I can't wait to show it to kidlet! I loved going to see the Nutcracker with my parents way back when in Omaha. They had a pretty good production at the old Orpheum theater. The Christmas tree growing out of the stage...magic! I'll fall on the floor with glee when kidlet is old enough to see a real production.

4--Muffulettas, baby. Try this recipe. Really. This is the best sandwich in the world and I will be making a slew of them this weekend. This recipe is the closest I can find to the ol' Central Grocery flavor.

5--Stormy. LOVING the cloudy, rainy weather. I like my seasons to follow the traditional form. You know, autumn is for blustery cool days with rain. Round these parts, fall is usually just an extension of summer: sunny and warm. I like a cloudy week or two. Yes, indeed.

Enjoy your weekend, my friends. Hopefully, I won't fall into a quivering mass in the office on Monday due to my insanely busy weekend that I have up ahead of me. Must keep eye on the prize...muffulettas and beer (or wine, wine...how I love thee).