Friday, February 29, 2008

The end...

Well, February challengers, the end is finally here and we all survived. Plus we posted some pretty cool stuff. Thank you so much for going along with me. You made this cold, dark month much brighter.

Our last reward goes to the person with the most posts this month. Several of us had 29 posts, Debbie was second runner up with 31 posts, Taylor had 33. She also happens to be the only person in our group who posted every day in February. What you probably don't know is that she started blogging on February 1st... after following her mother around for hours and begging for a blog. Love of chocolate is a powerful thing.. but week after week went by and Taylor didn't win any chocolate and she still kept blogging. I think it just comes naturally to a girl who has been keeping a journal since she learned to write. The prize is a box of delicious Stephany's Truffles and a fun book of writing prompts. Taylor, I hope that you will continue to post to your blog. I really enjoy reading it.

I'm getting ready to mail out the last of our February treats... Candy bars for everyone who posted about where they grew up last week. February blogging bookmarks for everyone who participated in the challenge. And more candy bars... for anyone who didn't win anything, because I never feel good about leaving anyone out. I have addresses for almost everyone. Heidi and MS Teacher, if you want chocolate please email me at

Lastly, I want to thank you all. This has been a lot of fun for me.


Thursday, February 28, 2008


I've been doing some thinking about the blog lately and trying to decide what exactly I want to accomplish with it. I didn't really have a goal in mind when I started writing this.. other than to write something every day. I figured if I told a few friends I might feel as though I had to write for them every day. Leeann can testify that it didn't work! But she refused to give up on me and continued to ask every few weeks if I was going to be updating any time soon. You are a great friend Leeann, and a very patient woman.

Anyway, in September I made a commitment to give myself six months to work on nothing but writing. It was a serious commitment.. at least I thought it was.. and the first thing I did to prove that was to start posting to the blog. I intended to use it as something of a warm up and an organization tool to keep me on track with menu planning and time management. Well, of course, plans change and instead of six months I got six weeks. A staffing emergency led my husband to ask me to come work in his office part time for a few weeks. A few weeks turned into a few months, part time turned into full time, and I've written very little other than the blog. Next week marks the end of my six months.

Six months isn't very long at all.

For those of us who have been married for a long time...

This is awful and hilarious at the same time... and it's mild compared to the other commercial at the "shave everything" website.

Second Puberty
Update... my son just informed me that the makers of this video are probably going to hell.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Despite being a generally grumpy pessimist I am stubbornly optimistic about what I can accomplish in a day. Probably a bit too optimistic, if truth be told, and everyday I am disappointed by my lack of progress. This is a problem. Especially in the evening when I'm desperately trying to get something written while my family is trying to live their lives.

Something needs to change.

Monday, February 25, 2008

February Challenge - Final week update

First of all, I want to thank everyone who wrote about their homes or where they grew up last week. I loved reading all of your stories. I think it's interesting that all of you wrote about where you grew up rather than about where you live now. Is that because you are worried about security issues or simply because childhood memories are just more fun to write about?

Leeann, your years in Milan sound like heaven. Thank you for the photos so that we could "see" your memories too!
Nicole, your post was every kids dream of a perfect summer! What wonderful memories you have.
Debbie, someday I would love to hear how a girl from small town Colorado moved to Nagasaki. Your description made me a little homesick for my own small towns (I lived in a few just like that).
Taylor, hopefully your memories of cow poop mountains will grow sweeter with time!
Nancy, Washington DC in the fifties and sixties must have been just fascinating. It's amazing that it was safe enough for you and your sister to go sightseeing on your own.

I've thought a lot about our prize for this week and I've decided that instead of one prize I'm giving everyone who wrote about their homes a treat from my area. So, Nicole and Debbie please email your addresses to (Leeann, Taylor, and Nancy, I know yours already)and I will send you a bar of Dilettante Chocolate. It's made in the beautiful city of Seattle, about sixty miles north of here, and it is delicious.

This is our last week of this challenge and you have all done so well. It's been wonderful to read all of your posts. Our final prize will be awarded to the person who has the most posts for the entire month but I am working on something I want to send to everyone who has participated in the challenge. So, Heidi, Debi, and MS Teacher, could you please email your addresses to

And lastly... I have a confession to make to all of you who have already won prizes. I just mailed them today! I'm sorry, I really did mean to get them in the mail sooner but I kept forgetting to put them in the car on my way to work, or running out of time, or just being really lazy. But, the US postal service does indeed now have possession of them. So, Leeann and Nancy, you can expect your packages to arrive in two to three days. Karen, yours will take six to ten days.

Have a good week ladies and keep writing!

February Challenge - Final Week!

Ok ladies... I've been shirking my responsibilities and letting this challenge drift off course. Sorry about that. I have to leave for work right now but I will be back later to post our weekly winners and talk about the coming week.

Don't let my bad example discourage you from writing!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Where I live...

Eighteen months ago we moved to Olympia Washington. It's a very odd city. Home to one of the most liberal, liberal arts colleges in the US and home to a huge military population who work at the largest army base in the US. In the last year and a half I have seen hemp festivals and military appreciation parades, peace protests and my neighbors coming home from war. The most surprising thing about Olympia is that, despite it's astounding contradictions, it is the friendliest place I have ever lived. People are genuinely nice here. I'm still getting to know the area but I am happy to call this home.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

100 posts...

and I totally missed it! This is number 102. For some reason this is typical of my life. Milestones and landmark events are overlooked, anniversaries and birthdays forgotten. Why is this? I have no idea. It's not that I'm a heartless creep who doesn't care. I'm just completely lame.

Thank you for sticking with me through 100 silly, sad, lame and pointless posts. I truly appreciate each and every one of you!


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

You just have to read it...

It is very rare to find a man who is capable and willing to express his deepest emotions about his wife and children. Even rarer... a glimpse of that man on the night his son is born. I can't begin to express how much this post by Jim at Sweet Juniper touched me. It is truly a gift.

Final Product

It's off to the Science Fair today. Good luck Delaney!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Science Project Rules

  1. Never allow any experiment involving animals or spores!
  2. Remind your child to keep good records. Discourage any attempt to make up data... until the day before when your child suddenly remembers that a chart/table/graph is required.
  3. Plan how long you are able to spend helping your child with their science project. Add 72 hours to your estimate.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Honestly, I don't feel like planning at all this week! But I've got to do it so here goes...

  • Monday - Hey.. Monday is done! Yippee! (and I'm not telling you what we ate because it was shameful. Truly shameful.

  • Tuesday - Spicy Roasted Chicken with Avocado, Rice, Romaine Salad .

  • Wednesday - Lasagne, Salad, Focaccia.

  • Thursday - Steak Quesadillas, Black Bean, Pepper, and Corn Relish.

  • Friday - Dinner and a movie!

  • Saturday - Two birthday parties and a major formal dance for my high schooler. We will be having something very easy.. probably Soup and Panini..

  • Sunday - Bob cooks something delicious.


pinch of sugar
2 3/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil - this is a an occassion to use really good olive oil. It will make a huge difference.
6 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon course sea salt

Sprinkle yeast into 1/4 cup of water and let stand about ten minutes.

Stir in remaining water and olive oil. Add flour one cup at a time.
Dough will be soft. Add salt.

Knead dough until smooth and springy, about ten minutes by hand or five minutes with an electric mixer and dough hook. (I'll admit it.. although I love to knead bread I almost always use the mixer now. I think hand kneading makes better bread but the mixer is just so easy.)

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plasic wrap. Let rise at room temperature for about one and a half hours. After the dough has doubled in volume spread it into an oiled baking sheet. Cover and let rise thirty minutes. Uncover and gently poke the loaf every four inches, cover again and let rise another hour. Heat oven to 425. Brush the loaf with olive oil, allowing indentations to fill with oil, and sprinkle with more salt. If you like you can also sprinkle with fresh rosemary or basil.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve warm.

Check out for more Menu Plan Monday menus!

Another week down..

Three weeks into the month and you are all doing so well! I'm really enjoying reading everyone's posts. The box of Hershey's goodies goes to Nancy at A Step at a Time. Congratulations Nancy! Please email your address to and I will send the box out right away.

This week I want to do something a little different. I would like to encourage you to share more about where you are from... where you are living now or, if that really doesn't excite you, then perhaps something about where you grew up. We are a diverse group from all over the world and I think this will be a fascinating assignment.

The prize this week is a few wonderful things from Batdorf & Bronson a coffee roasting company based here in Olympia, Washington. I'll be writing more about them later in the week after I tour their roasting facilities!

Now there are a few catches.. first, I don't think that a random drawing will be a good way to choose a winner for this one, and second, I don't want to "judge" your work. So, on Friday I will post a poll and I'm going to ask you all to read everyone's work and vote for a winner. In order to be in the poll you have to have your "Home" post done by Friday, ok? Does this make sense or am I making it too difficult?

I'm still thinking about the voting issue. I've never used a blogger poll so I want to give it a test... by giving you all a chance to decide whether or not we should vote for the best post this week. Could you please take a minute to vote so I can see if the poll feature is working. Thanks! gina

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wire, Bread, and Wine

If you spend the entire day building a wall.. and I do mean WALL of these things...

and you even find time to make a delicious olive oil enhanced foccacia...

then it's ok to spend the evening drinking a bottle of this...

Especially if tomorrow is a holiday.

Happy Sunday everyone.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I've fallen...

... and I can't get up!

This is what it's come to. My creativity has sunk so low that all I can think to do is quote crappy commericals from the 80's.
Hopefully someone is sending help immediately.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I think my car doesn't love me anymore. Yesterday it started flashing a "low coolant light at me". So, I procured coolant and topped it off. Then I came out this morning, already running late for work, and my right front tire was low. So, I filled it. I drove for a mile and the "change engine oil" light came on.. even though it's not due for an oil change until March. A half an hour later the "check engine oil level" light started alternating with the "change engine oil" light. Flash, flash, flash... darn the darn lights!

It's just been that kind of week.

Happy Valentine's Day. I hope everyone had a lovely, warning light free day.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Week Three

Hurray! We made it through our first full week of February and everyone is doing so well. You should all be proud of yourselves! I wish I could give a prize to each and every one of you but today our winner is Karen Meg at A Day In The Life! Congratulations Karen. I hope you get a lot of inspiration from The Pocket Muse. Please email your address to and I will get it in the mail tomorrow.

Our prize for the coming week is a Hershey's gift box filled with yummy chocolate treats, a really cool silicone pan that makes brownies look like chocolate bars and a t-shirt.

Write on Bloggers!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Night

I had big plans for the weekend but I think I only accomplished a third of what I wanted to do. I really don't want to go to work tomorrow. I want to stay home and putter around my house, cleaning and putting things in order. Funny, six months ago I used to grouse about having to clean the house, now I just wish I had time. This is one of the things that working again has taught me. I've learned that I didn't appreciate what I had and now I want it back. I want to move all of my furniture out onto the back patio and scrub floors. I want to organize the garage. I want to make 17 trips to Goodwill and get rid of all the crud that's clogging up my life. Oh.. and sometime during the day I want to find a couple of minutes to write.

I think it's time to reevaluate my priorities.

In the meantime I guess I'll just analyze my menu choices for the week.

  • Monday - Beef Stew
  • Tuesday - Chicken Scallopini with Pasta and Asparagus
  • Wednesday - Chili Verde, Beans, Tortillas, and Salad
  • Thursday - Chicken Mei Fun
  • Friday - Soup and Paninis
  • Saturday - Bob Cooks
  • Sunday - Who knows, maybe we'll just have ice cream...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

It's just a number

Delaney and her friend were having a conversation about birthdays this afternoon. My dear nine year old said "My mom turned 43 on her birthday!" and her delightful friend said "Oh! My Grandma turned 46 on her last birthday!"

For some reason they both thought this little coincidence was very funny.

Rotten whipper-snappers.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Cheesecake on a spoon...

You really don't need a pie shell for this... it would be just as good (and lower in fat) if you just spread it on a graham cracker. I bought the chocolate version and, although it was very tasty, I won't be buying it again. It's good but not good enough to justify the fat content.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Why is it that sometimes we just can't communicate with the people we love? Teenagers are especially difficult and I find myself often living with warring emotions... regret that I wasn't more careful about how I said something and anger because I have to be so careful all the time. Why can't we have simple conversations like "Can you take me to point A at 9am on Saturday the 16th?"

Instead I get:
Kid - "Are you taking me and my friend to the city where point A is sometime next weekend."
Me - "When do you need to go?"
Kid - "I don't know.. like sometime Saturday."
Me - "What are you going to be doing?"
Kid - "I don't know"
Me - "Well, I want to know what your plans are because I'm going to have to hang around for hours waiting to take you home. But I think Saturday will work."
Kid - "We want to go on Sunday and I don't know if we are going to go to point A or maybe point D."
Me - "What?"
Kid - "Never mind! We'll just ask friend's mom to take us!"

Parenting is too difficult.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


You Should Be a Teacher

You are patient, optimistic, and good at explaining things.
You work well with all types of people, and you are a good role model.
Success and positive outcomes are extremely important to you.
You are both a good leader and instructor. People look up to and depend on you.

You do best when you:

- Can see the results of your work
- Are able to teach someone a new skill

You would also be a good nurse or non fiction writer.

Or maybe I should just have lots of friends who are teachers?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Today was cold, rainy, and miserable. Delaney was sick so we stayed home and rested. Well, she rested, I decided to make good use of the time off and start our taxes. Five hours later Bob came home to find me buried under reciepts. Mountains of receipts. The little scraps of paper tell a story of 2007. I had tried to save every single receipt for medical expenses and there were a lot of them.

Adding it all up created a moment of epiphany for me. In the midst of crisis last year I think we just put blinders on and stopped thinking about money. We had to. It was hard enough to think clearly about what was happening to our family and make rational decisions about our son and his problems. Money was one worry we just set aside. Today the blinders were ripped off. One quarter of our income was spent on medical expenses last year.

In a strange way I feel better having it all reduced to dollars and cents. Money is transitory. I can weather the momentary shock of having spent so much and then be thankful for everything we do have. I wish that it was as easy to shrug off the other costs but the memories that are tied to those receipts won't be as easily erased as the debt.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

The Super Bowl seems to be our traditional "end of the holidays" blow-out. It is the final indulgent meal in a season full of bad-for-you food. Today we start a new season of healthy eating... and the best way to stay on target is to plan ahead. Thankfully there's Laura and Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie to help keep me on track!

Monday - Steak Sandwiches, Baked French Fries, Green Salad
Tuesday - Salsa Chicken and Rice, Corn and Black Bean Relish
Wednesday - Chopped Salad with Spicy Pork and Buttermilk Dressing
Thursday - Chicken Vegetable Soup with Noodles
Friday - Make Your Own Pizza
Saturday - Bob Cooks
Sunday - To be decided later...

My nutritional goal for this week is to stop drinking soda... again. It's one of my toughest habits to break.

And the winner is...

Our first weekly winner is Leeann at Is It Morning Already. Congratulations Leeann! Please send your mailing address to and your chocolate will go out in tomorrow's mail.

The prize for this week is a copy of a book that I have found very helpful when I'm feeling like there is nothing more to write about.

The Pocket Muse: Endless Inspiration, has a good balance of writing prompts and advice plus some really cool photos. For me pictures are great creative triggers. When I'm out of ideas a few minutes of flipping through the pages of this book is often enough to get me writing again. In addition to the book there will be chocolate, of course, because I'm a great believer in the brain boosting power of the almighty cocoa bean! (plus I did promise food and prizes)

Write on bloggers.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ripped out by the roots...

Delaney told me one day that she can always tell when I'm angry. I know I'm pretty easy to read, but I played along and asked her how she can tell that I'm angry. She leaned closer, a serious look on her face, and said "It's easy Mom, because when you are upset your mad hairs poke out."

Mad hairs??? Holy crap! I knew exactly what she was talking about because every old woman in my family has this problem. Coarse little mustache hairs that stand straight out from tightly clenched, thin lips in times of stress. But I must point out that it's the OLD women that have this problem, the ones in faded black and white family photos, not young, vibrant, modern women such as myself. But after surveying my "angry" face in the magnifying mirror (these things should be illegal) I had to admit the kid was right.

Thankfully, modern women have ways of dealing with these problems.


Saturday, February 2, 2008

February Blogging Challengers

Hi again... sick of me yet? Here is a list of everyone who has currently said they are participating. The logo is uploaded to if you want to snag it for your blog. I had a lot of fun today shopping for prizes... More on that later.

Here's the list... and, of course, it's still open to anyone!

Leeann at Is It Morning Already?
Nicole at You Have Got To Be Kidding..
Heidi at Viking Conquest
Karen Meg at A DAY IN THE LIFE... one glass at a time
Debi at Life: The Journey
Debbie at Etc.,Etc., Etc.
Taylor at Taylor's Blog
MS Teacher at ms_teacher
Nancy at A Step At A Time

What does Fuego mean anyway?

The key question isn't "What fosters creativity?" But it is why in God's name isn't everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything.
Abraham Maslow

Today I found a place where the human potential is being lost. A place where our children are taught that only a few are capable of creation and those few elite should be the center of attention while the majority devote their time and energy to the support and worship of the minority. Where is this evil is taking place? It's a sinister place called Radio Disney.

Radio Disney seems innocent enough, with it's wholesome teenaged stars singing songs that are sanitized for our children's protection, but behind the velvet mouse ears lurks a megalomanic monster. The station plays approximately thirty songs, most by artists who also star in movies or television shows produced by Disney, over and over. In the course of two hours in the car with my daughter we heard three songs twice and one artist singing six different songs. Interspersed with the songs are advertisements encouraging kids to spend their evenings on the computer voting for their favorite song "again and again" so that it will be number one. What message is this sending? That some people are stars and the rest don't have anything better to do than to vote for them?

Perhaps I'm making too much of this, especially since I have been known to dance around the kitchen to High School Musical tunes and I know the lyrics to a few too many Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana songs, but I want my kids to have broader tastes in music. Thirty songs just isn't enough to develop an appreciation of music.. especially the thirty that Rad Dis has chosen! Will I forbid my daughter to listen anymore? No, probably not. But after we got home I made sure she got a healthy dose of Tom Jones... just to be sure...

Friday, February 1, 2008

Yesterday I announced the February Challenge... I'm afraid I haven't come up with a better name for it... There are many people out there who are much better at this sort of thing but I've officially jumped off the cliff and I'm soaring.. sort of. I'm really excited and honored that anyone responded!

As I said yesterday, the challenge is to post to your blog every day in February but, since it's a big goal and big goals are more achievable when broken into small parts, I've decided that we need weekly motivational prizes. Since my readership is still very small I think it's pretty safe to just use the names in a hat method of choosing a weekly winner. Our prize will be posted on the first day of the week with the winner from the preceeding week announced that day also. In order to get your name in the hat you just have to post each day of that week (and let me know that you are participating if you are a "maybe" participant). Ok, that would be enough to make my head spin but the migraine I'm currently fighting has already done that so if any of this doesn't make sense to you just let me know and I'll babble on even more.

Ok, enough of that! Here's the big announcement:

Today is officially the first day of week one.. and week one will officially end on Sunday February 3rd. It's a nice short "week" but our first prize is delightfully long-stemmed... and yummy. It will only take three posts for you to be eligible to win 200 grams of delicious swiss chocolate in a pretty rose themed box.

Write on Bloggers!