Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June summer reading review pt 1 – the good

I spent June absorbed in a large number of chick lit mysteries.

(Thank you county library system. If you love to read please consider donating the cost of a new book to your local library, their budgets are being slashed across the country this year & every little bit helps keep their programs active)

Chick lit mysteries, with their modern settings, are not my usual taste in books. I like historic mysteries with lots of period details and witty dialog. Chick lit usually manages the dialog but I find the period details annoying because of the rapid pace of technology.

For instance, in two different series’ the characters were suddenly overcome with fascination at these things called ‘digital cameras’.

Both books were published in 2005.

By 2005 I was on my SECOND digital camera. I’m hardly on the cutting edge of technology either. So the gasping awe shown by both sets of characters upon seeing a digital camera was disconcerting and threw off the pace of the book.

Then there is the suspension of disbelief issue. I grew up reading fantasy & sci fi books along with numerous stories of saints’ miracles, so my ability to suspend disbelief is rather high. I can overlook all sorts of impossible, improbable or highly unlikely things in a plot, along with gaping holes in it if I like the people & setting enough.

But. The problem with mystery series that revolve around a single sleuth is explaining why dead bodies keep turning up around this person and why they are solving the crime. Historically there was no police force or it was small, overworked & often corrupt. So your whoremistress in 1100’s London, your traveling peddler in 1400’s York and your private detective in 1920’s Melbourne could reasonably be expected to encounter dead bodies and be inclined to solve the murder because they were either the prime suspect or getting paid to solve it.

However, explaining why a woman in 2001-2010 tiny American town is suddenly hip deep in dead bodies over a 12 month period is hard. And explaining why the police are not looking very hard at her as a suspect, if not actually arresting her for interfering with them is harder still.  Some series manage this better than others.

The best of the bunch for me is the Meg Langlslow series, which is currently 11 books long with a 12th due out July 6th. It is a measure of how much I enjoyed this series that about 5 books into it I went out on and bought all 11 of them for $9.85 (plus $17 in shipping but still...11 hardback books for $27 is a heck of a deal). Meg is a blacksmith in modern day Virginia. Murder with Peacocks is the first book in the series. She is organizing 3 weddings - for her mom, sister in law and best friend. An unpleasant woman, the SIL of the man Meg’s mom is marrying, is found dead and Meg gets involved with solving her murder in between dress fittings, parties and decorating. There are a bunch of well crafted secondary characters in the book, many of whom reappear regularly in the later ones. There is also some romantic tension as Meg finds time to meet the ‘wrong man’. It is a wonderful read, very funny, sometimes over the top, with a well plotted mystery. The other books for the most part can be described the same. I thought Murder with Puffins and Owls Well that Ends Well fell a bit flat, with Owls suffering from a certain degree of self imposed blindness on Meg’s part that someone who has already solved 5 murders ought to be over by now. But that is a problem most chick lit sleuths seems to suffer from  - “Someone *I* know can never be the murderer” - no matter how many times they are proved wrong. It’s still a wonderful series though and I highly recommend it.

The second best of the bunch is the Gourmet Girl series, which has 5 books so far and feature grad student and food lover Chloe Carter as a reluctant sleuth starting with Steamed.  Chloe finds her blind date with his throat slit in the bathroom of the fancy restaurant where they had been dining.  She then becomes involved with the restaurant employees and their friends including Josh, a chef under suspicion for the murder (his knife had been used). Spoiler… Josh didn’t do it and he and several other friends, family & acquaintances become regulars in the next few books.  I enjoyed this series for the most part. It helps if you are a foodie because all the stories involve chefs or restaurants and you get lots of behind the scenes details about restaurant life. If that doesn't interest you the books probably won’t either. Each book also includes about a dozen recipes for dishes that were mentioned in the story. The characters are for the most part well developed, the mysteries are interesting, the sub plots add to the overall story & they all tie together fairly well. I like that Chloe is perfectly willing to believe people she knows could in fact be the murderer even while she is hoping to clear them. There are some flaws, with some characters being too much of a caricature or stereotype & some having no motivation at all to do the things they do (why is Josh keeping his job hunting a secret from Chloe? that makes no sense) and little things like that do grate on me because I can suspend disbelief for plot but not for basic human interaction. I haven’t bought this series yet. But probably it is only a matter of time before I do. I’m waiting on the 5th book to decide. I have it on hold but someone else is ahead of me in line for it.

The one thing both these books have in common is in the first book the sleuths end up involved with someone and while the relationships may have their ups and downs in subsequent books there is none of that “Am I dating a murderer?” or “who will she choose?” going on to detract from later books. Don’t get me wrong, both of those subplots are nice when well done, but they are hard to pull off believably in book after book with the same characters. Janet Evanovich does it well in the Stephanie Plum books, with Stephanie, Morelli and Ranger, most of the time but even she can’t make it work in every book. (books 14 & 15 come immediately to mind).

Those two series are the best of what I have read so far.

Part 2 will cover the decent – The Blackbird Sisters mysteries, Murder 101 and two books by Kay C Hill – books I liked reading but not enough to own.

Part 3 will be the bad – the Hannah Swenson series and the Molly Forrester series, both of which I really thought I would like, yet didn’t.

***note – my links are a mix of Amazon affiliate links, which net me pennies if you buy the book after following the link, and Library Thing links, which net me nothing. Library Thing is like GoodReads but has a one time fee.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Potluck Monday



Ah Potluck! I took a weight lifting class at the gym Friday and I am so sore it still hurts to type, so this is going to be short this week







Havoc has been spending his allowance on Pokemon cards lately. That was/is the popular thing in the primary schools around here for the last couple months of school. He has a stack of them & trades them with friends & explains every single card to me and how you can battle with them. Silly Bandz haven’t hit here yet. You can buy them but they are have not reached ‘must have’ status




Dinner is still not inspiring me but I made some chocolate cocoa cookies earlier in the week after a big rainstorm. It had cooled enough to use the oven.





The word jar gave me lugubrious, which means mournful, dismal, or gloomy, especially to an exaggerated or ludicrous degree.

Probably I can work that into a sentence. I know a couple people that it could apply to in certain circumstances





The pool water is green again. Between the rain & the heat I just can’t keep up with the algae. There are only so many chemicals I can safely dump in it & still let the boys swim. I’m changing filters every 3-4 days. I want a pool boy, just to look after the pool. I don’t even care about him bringing me frozen drinks.


Thanks Holly for hosting potluck

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weekly Winners

There was some swimming


This guy wasn’t sure about the water at first


but he got over it


and joined his friends


It was also time for my monthly self portrait


and a sunset on the solstice


For more Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom.

Thanks for stopping by

Friday, June 25, 2010

Two weeks of summer vacation so far

We’ve swam most days. The pool has not turned green yet but it’s early days. Heat and rain combined cannot be defeated by chemicals & filters as I learned last year but I am trying to keep ahead of it.

It’s been in the 90s most of the time, hitting 101 yesterday! And it’s only June.

I’d like to take them to the park or something but it’s just too damn hot.

Vacation bible school was this week and the little heathens have enjoyed it for the most part, but I think they are done having to be somewhere every morning.

We’ve been to both libraries. They read almost daily, but we’ve been slacking off on the workbooks.

DH has been gone from 6:30a to 10p weekdays for going on 3 weeks now. I have no idea when that will end. It should have been this week but it turns out large corporations are just as disorganized and screwed up as tiny companies.

Which I already knew but seems to surprise some people.

I’ve baked cookies twice and been to the gym 5 times.

I consider that breaking even.

Sleep comes and goes. I had a few nights of 7 hours of sleep. I’d hopes that meant I had gotten a handle on the insomnia. But then I was awake most of the last 3 nights. The boys have been waking too & that isn’t helping.

The cats have fleas, despite pricy flea treatments to them & the yard. So the house has fleas & has been fogged twice & I am now spraying it  regularly to hopefully get the last crop of eggs as they hatch.

How’s your summer been so far?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Adventures with the sewing machine


I promised to make Mayhem a Batman cape, complete with pointy ends, just like Batman. But I can’t sew with the boys around. They are not the problem. They don’t bother me. It’s all the obscene language that accompanies the sewing that is the problem.

Don’t get me wrong…I like sewing.


I do.

It just doesn’t seem that way because of all the swearing sewing causes. It’s not the sewings fault, its the inadequate props.

Any sewing project always begins the same way – with the ritual opening cursing of whoever the hell took ALL the effing scissors and failed to put them back where they belong. The curse lasts for awhile and encompasses the whole damn house while I go room to room looking for one effing pair of the dozen or so scissors I know damn well are somewhere in this bloody house and wonder aloud why the hell no one has the common effing decency to replace the freaking scissors when they take them.

The ritual opening curse ends when I at last locate some scissors, usually child safety scissors that I can’t use without getting my thumb trapped in the damn handle.

This is followed by much lamentation, bitching & moaning about my missing quilting ruler and rotary cutter. What the hell people? Who is using my rotary cutter? And where in the name of god did my ruler go?

Things go quiet for a bit while measurements are made and fabric is cut. Then some choice words are uttered regarding measurements and cutting and how nothing ever quite comes out like it should.

I am spatially challenged. I cannot look at things and estimate size, by eye, anywhere resembling ‘somewhat close’, let alone accurate. Some people can look at the object you are sewing something for and say “oh, 2 yards of fabric will be fine” and they will be right. I have to measure, and remeasure, and break out the graph paper and draw a sketch to scale and go online and find a pattern helper and then ask DH what he thinks and EVEN THEN I end up either 6 inches short of material or have a yard too much.

Then the pins come out. GOOD GOD THE PINS! And lots of expletives are heard while things are pinned because it’s slipper satin like fabric & the pins don’t stay put once you get them in, assuming you can get them in because either the damn pins are all dull or the fabric is hard as nails. OUCH! God DAMN it! BLOODY HELL! EFFING PINS!

Silence once again descends while the sewing machine itself is contemplated warily. The mind is searched to recall what was wrong with it last time & was that fixed? Were the wrong sized bobbins finally discarded or must every freaking bobbin be tested prior to loading it with thread?

You’d think I’d have bobbins with black & white thread on them but no, my bobbins are a riot of colors – chartreuse, lime green, burnt orange, 3 shades of purple, grey and aqua. So every time I have to wind up a damn bobbin.

Bobbins are easily wound & even threading the machine is such a habit I don’t need to think about it. It’s just one tiny irritating thing in a mess of larger irritating things.

And oh yeah the light bulb is burnt out and has been for almost 2 years now.

Because Singer is such a rare brand of sewing machine the useless Wal Mart doesn’t carry bulbs for it in the sewing department and my forays into other fabric stores are so rare I never remember to buy bulbs and should I manage to remember the bulb I never remember the model number of the stupid sewing machine. I have two bulbs that are the wrong size that I never returned because I have to drive an hour to do so.

Muttered curses then accompany me on a search for a lamp that will somehow fit on the table yet still leave room for the material being sewn. Once this is accomplished the actual sewing is done quickly and quietly.


Oh look. I sewed the wrong damn sides together! Where the hell is the seam ripper? How about my effing embroidery scissors? WTF people! Can’t you leave me one damn pair of pointy scissors? The opening cursing of the scissors thief/thieves is then repeated until something small & pointy that can cut thread is located.

Fortunately I rejected the idea of French seams because I ALWAYS screw up French seams. I simply cannot visualize how it will come together, despite having sewn them before. So even with the instructions in front of me I sew right sides together instead of wrong sides together. Or vice versa. Whatever. Stupid freaking seams.

Probably I should have used them though because this faux satin is very unravelly.

The pin performance is then repeated with added color because my fingers are sore from last time and my back is started to hurt.

Ergonomics have no place in my sewing room. Tables are too high, chairs too low and I end up hunched over somehow and the lighting sucks so I end up bent at an odd angle trying to see to rip out the black thread stitches on the black poly satin fabric. I can manage about 90 minutes of sewing before my back gives out and I have to go lay down for 20 minutes.

When I was childless, gainfully employed and making quilts I had none of these problems. Scissors stayed put. An hour trip to get a missing bulb or whatever supply might make my life easier was nothing! Neither was the cost. I knew I should have popped for that craft table & chair set up I wanted when I was pregnant with Havoc. That money is long gone now & who knows when I’ll be able to afford such a thing again.

90 minutes was enough to cut the cape out, sew together the two pieces, hem the sides, cut the bottom triangles, pin & sew them on backwards, rip them out and pin them back the right way.

I ought to be able to resew the triangles & then hem them & the bottom tomorrow.

Assuming no one borrows my scissors overnight.

And the thing is…I really do LIKE sewing.

It relaxes me.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Like Little House on the Prairie

but with indoor plumbing and a mini van.

Just call me Ma.

I didn’t intend for it to happen, it just sort of turned out that way.

Yesterday I took the kids off to bible school.  Then I came home to clean. I scrubbed the stove and the oven, then I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed the slate tile in the kitchen. Then I rinsed it, then I dried it with rags. ON MY KNEES! Mops don’t work well with natural slate, too many nooks and crannies.

In between scrubbings,I hauled dripping wet laundry (bedsheets) out to the clothes line and wrung the water out with my hands before hanging it up to dry. (Sorry Mrs Ingalls, I’m not scrubbing the laundry too. I wouldn’t have wrung it out but my washer has developed glitch where it stops spinning 3 minutes early & your only options are to rerun the load from the start or wring things out by hand)

I also swept and mopped the wood floors and brushed carpet freshener into the carpets.

Thank you god prairie dresses, corsets and multiple petticoats are out of fashion. I would have died trying to clean my floor in a corset.

And it was 90 degrees by 10:30am.

This took up the whole morning & it was time to go fetch the children home for lunch.

After lunch I started a batch of bread dough rising, made a pie crust and set up a quart of yogurt. Then it was on to doing the family mending,including some curtains I bought for the boys room when I went to IKEA 2months ago that have been hanging in their room with about 9 inches of excess fabric on the ground. This was followed by ironing and then working on sewing Mayhem’s cape.

I bought the chicken for dinner already roasted because you know how I feel about roasting my own chickens. I baked the bread. I did wash and peel the vegetables though someone else grew them - because you have to draw the line somewhere.

After dinner I made sure the young’uns got their book learning in for the day while I washed the dishes (WASHED THE DISHES! BY HAND! GOOD GOD PEOPLE!)

While the children played outside in the setting sunlight, I made the beds with the fresh sheets. The children were then brought in and put in the washing tub and scrubbed up real good for more bible school tomorrow. (wouldn’t want Jesus to think we’re dirty heathens). After everyone was in bed I sat by the (cold) woodstove and did my needlework.

Today I am dropping the kids off at bible school & heading to coffee shop for gourmet beverages and free wifi, play with my cell phone apps and then maybe I’ll lounge around in the afternoon watching DVDs with the kids.

Because I’ve done all the scrubbing I intend to do for weeks to come.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Potluck Monday


I drank a lot of wine this weekend, so random is really good for me today. I’m not hung over or anything, just sort of weary in that you spent the weekend drinking alcohol in the hot sun way of being weary.


DH was on site all week. Meaning he left the house at 6:30am and came home around 10p. Dinner was soup and sandwiches with your choice of raw broccoli or raw carrots.

All week long.

It’s hot and my most appreciative eating audience was absent so my effort level was absent too


boysThe boys want super hero capes. Mayhem had a Batman cape I made him out of a small black triangle shawl, but Friday he decided he wanted to have pointy ends like Batman’s & rather than asking me for help & he took some scissors to it with predictable results. So we found some fabric yesterday & this week I’m going to make him a pointy Batman cape & Havoc a Robin cape




I’m still sorting apps for my Droid phone. I download 4 or 5 apps that do the same thing & the fiddle with them & delete all but one. Unless I forget to delete them & then two days later can’t recall which one I wanted to keep. The double Twist music software was working fine but now it never wants to sync up right & that is beyond irritating right now. If I have to use Windows Media Player I am going to scream. I loathe Media Player



The ever changing pile of chick lit mysteries is still going. I’ve been lucky with most of my choices. The only real dud series for me so far has been the Hannah Swenson series by Joanne Fluke. The first book was good, but I have come to hate or at least seriously dislike most of the characters by book 5 and have given up on it. I have a whole review post on them I hope to get up soon. But I’m loving the Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews



Ever wish you could just reach into the pages of a novel and throttle someone? I’d have been committing fictional homicide right & left this week were it possible. And I think I could get off on an insanity plea where Amelia Peabody is concerned. Why her family hasn’t bumped her off is beyond me.




The word jar has given me slatternly as the word this week. It means being slovenly, dirty or untidy & is usually applied to women.

I don’t know how I am going to manage to use it in a sentence & remain friends with anyone. But we’ll see how creative I can be.


Thanks Holly for hosting Potluck!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekly Winners

Some from my 365 project

Mussels for dinner


Mixing bow from a different angle


My favorite bread books


Clone troopers reading group


Havoc calls these earthquake cookies because of all the cracks


For more Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Scrapbook Saturday

I didn’t do much scrapping in May. I lacked time & motivation but I am getting back into it this month.

Here are some of the layouts I have done so far:

We set up the pool



My then current book pile summer reading


This was based on my yogurt post



This was for a challenge to use roygbiv in a layout


Friday, June 18, 2010

I have the power!

Havoc is 7. In our home this means he has reached an age where his rewards & responsibilities begin to increase. Up until age 7 you mostly get a pass on responsibilities apart from picking up your toys and your rewards are limited to some candy in the check out lane if you were good all day while Mom ran errands. Once you are 7 you get an allowance, a later bedtime and chores. All of these things increase as you get older.

The other thing you get when you are 7 is your very own library card (complete with your very own late fees, so save up that allowance). Havoc just got his this week even though he has been 7 since October. He has to be with me to get the library card & he doesn’t get to the county library much during the school year.

Havoc immediately checked out 8 books just because he could. I always limited him to 2-4 books depending on how many he already had out and he had to try out his new found book freedom.

This made Mayhem no end of jealous because he is still limited to 2-4 books on my card.

Mayhem complained non stop from check out to the mini van. Havoc, very generously, offered to let Mayhem borrow books on his card next visit. First he said Mayhem could check out 10 books. But then I reminded  Havoc he would be responsible for those books, keeping track of them, returning them, paying the late fees and even the book replacement costs if a book was lost.

Havoc then began to rethink his generosity.  Maybe Mayhem could check out 4 books and if he didn’t lose any or anything then the next time he could get 5. Mayhem complained that this was not fair, he should be able to check out as many as Havoc can.

Havoc’s reply.

“I can check out as many as I want Mayhem. It’s my card. I have the power.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wordy Wednesday


I’ve been in need of new workout shoes for longer than DH has been in need of a new phone. But like him I failed to take action because the shoes still worked mostly and would be expensive to replace. But eventually the foot cramps got to me and I made the hour long trek to the running shop to discuss new shoes and take their various foot assessment tests.

I have weird feet.

I have unnaturally narrow heels, my pinkie toes lay sideways to my foot, arch problems and I run on the outside of my feet and a couple other things that I am forgetting at the moment.

I buy pricy athletic shoes to offset these things when I work out & run.

And you should see what I spend on boots that fit. (or have spent, being that I could only ever afford one paid of custom made boots & they cost two weeks pay in 1996)

My doc & the shoe specialists at the running store both thought barefoot running would be helpful. And I thought it certainly would be cheap!

But my gym has policies against that sort of thing.

So these Vibram Five Fingers were suggested to me. These are the KSOs. You wear them without socks. They look and feel like water shoes.  Like I should be at the river or lake, not at the gym. 

And they are not at all attractive.

Not in the least bit attractive.

Ugly in fact

But oh my!

They are wonderful for running. My feet did not get all sweaty like I feared. Even though they were a little large they didn’t rub or anything (they come in European sizes, 38 is snug on me, 39 is loose & you can’t get 38.5s) Every toe having it’s own little pocket feels weird and takes getting used to, and my pinkie toes did not enjoy the experience the first couple times. My calves hurt in places they hadn’t before as well, but now it’s fine. I like running in them and my feet don’t cramp up when I do aerobics type classes. The foot cramping thing is why I rarely took aerobic type classes.

And they are water shoes too. I can wear them to the gym and to river.

So I am liking them.

But they are so unattractive & I’m the only one at the gym with them & feel conspicuous in them. They make my feet look huge. Normally I just got straight from the gym to whatever shopping I have to do but now I change shoes because I feel so self-conscious in these. Like if I were in Wal Mart all these people would be looking at me and wondering “what the hell does she have on her feet?” and I don’t need that attention from the people of Wal Mart.

disclaimer – I bought these shoes, ugly though they are, with DHs hard earned dollars because they seemed right for my feet. The store was having a sale at the time but everyone got the discount regardless of whether they were a blogger or not. In fact, they showed no interest at all when I mentioned I was a blogger because you don’t need special shoes to blog & the running store employees only care about things you need special shoes to do

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Potluck


School has been out for 1.5 days, not counting weekends. My brain is already fried.



I twice tried to make buttercream icing this week. The recipe is here. Maybe I over beat it, maybe the butter was too soft or the flour mixture too thick. Or maybe I just have no clue what real buttercream icing looks or tastes like. I know what Pillsbury icing tastes like and the lard/Crisco heavy icing that you get in bakeries. Possibly I am making perfectly fine buttercream icing & just don’t know it. But it seems grainy not creamy. I’m blaming this on my foremothers who started buying premade icing as soon as it was available. Had they made buttercream icing I would be familiar with it & know what was wrong with mine.



Both boys are signed up for the summer reading program at tiny library and have already checked out 3 books each. We sign up at larger library next week when their program starts. They have different themes this year so the activities are all different.





I got a new cell phone this weekend. DH’s phone has been dying for months but he’s been dithering about it all this time. One might even say he was being rather feckless about it. It finally dropped dead this past week while he was on the job site 16 hours a day. I’ve been wanting an iPhone & am 3 weeks away from upgrade eligibility but he wanted a phone that was on Verizon. After visiting both phone stores he went with Verizon. We both got Motorola Droids. I’ve been loading mine with apps & music. I’m still trying to find a music player app I like. I wanted an iPhone for the music & web features, so I could stop carrying an mp3 player. I’m not 100% sold on this phone but I do like it.



This weeks word from the word jar is malfeasance, which means misconduct or wrongdoing, especially by a public official. It might be a bit tricky to use in conversation. It’s bound to start a political argument unless I am certain the person to whom I am speaking agrees with my opinion.  I’m sure I can come up with a sentence about the oil spill that includes malfeasance. I just have to watch who I say it to.



I loaded all my contacts into my new phone. I have 31 contacts. 10 of those are restaurants. 4 are stores. For reasons I don’t understand it bothers me that they have to photo attached to their contact so I had to go download logos and attach them to the contacts. My contact list just looked wrong with those blank spaces in it.


Thanks Holly for hosting Potluck!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

School is out!

The boys got home at 1pm & were in the pool minutes later.

note to self:buy more waterproof sunscreen

Followed by whining that they wanted specific friends to come over, but the specific friends live in the next county over & are not out of school until next week. Other friends are not home because their parents both work & they are in day care or with other family members. Obviously I need to call up some of their school friends parents and arrange some play dates or something.

Later we went to the county library and signed up for the summer reading program the school sponsors & the boys came home with a few books to start with. Havoc found some age appropriate encyclopedia type books. He has one on science & technology timelines – origins of science. (The series is 8 books each covering a time period) and a couple older Scholastic Star Wars books, written before Phantom Menace & the rest came out. Mayhem has a couple story books featuring trucks and one about deep sea diving.

I got a book called the Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, which is the first in a cozy series that all feature baked goods in the title and recipes in the book.

Tomorrow we are going to slack off a bit & then clean in anticipation of my parents arrival Saturday. Somehow I have to reassemble the futon bed in the playroom, which has been stuffed with random unused bits of furniture so there is no room to fold out the futon sofa.

Monday we start the summer routine which includes reading time, writing time and workbook time every day. They both need to work on writing sentences. Havoc lacks adjectives & adverbs in his and Mayhem is still working on forming 3 sentence groups. Both their teachers recommended I have them read a book or a couple chapters & then help them write synopsis of what they read until they can do it themselves. Havoc is also supposed to keep a journal all summer, so I have Mayhem keeping one as well. Both of them came home with half completed math workbooks & suggestions for using the rest of the books this summer. I figure an hour of school work a day isn’t too bad.

Plus we are watching the Young Indiana Jones series, which was written to be educational and the discs come with lots of ‘extra’ materials, stuff from the History Channel. My plan is go to the library weekly and look up a book or two about whatever interested them most from the episodes they have seen. Indy meets almost everyone of importance & goes all over the place between 1906-1928 so there is a lot of material to keep us occupied. We have a couple books about King Tut & Egypt to read up on this week.

Then there are the travel plans. They are old enough and tall enough to ride most of the rides at Busch Gardens or Kings Dominion. But GEEZ! the ticket prices are high! I’m hoping to get to one of them this summer. I’d like to go to a water park a few times as well but the nearest outdoor one is an hour and a half away so it’s not going to be a weekly feature. Plus we want to take a day trip into DC to visit the Air & Space museum and Havoc is interested in seeing the Lincoln Memorial & the White House. Plus a few days in my hometown visiting family, getting photos taken & stuffing myself with diCarlo’s pizza every evening.

Vacation bible school does not seem to be an option this year. Havoc has become a fundamentalist pagan & wants nothing to do with Christian bible school. He wants Heathen Bible School & I had to tell him heathens & pagans don’t have a bible, so no bible school. He’s reconsidering his position though because he enjoys bible school every year. I just have this feeling of foreboding that my 7 year old will get kicked out of VBS because he keeps harping on ‘all the other gods’ to the teachers.

Talk about being THAT mother!

Despite all the plans I suspect it will be a rather quiet summer & that is fine with me.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Yogi or Smokey?

We have a bear problem.

It’s a sudden development. We’ve lived here in our rural home for 13 years and have never seen a bear. The garbage has been sitting outside for 13 years and no bears have ever taken any interest in it.

Many many raccoons have.

To their detriment.

But, unlike raccoons, you are not allowed to just shoot bears and to be honest, we don’t want to, for a variety of reasons.

Not the least being, what do you do with a 200lb dead bear? especially one you are technically not allowed to have shot because bear hunting season is over. And Jeyzus bears are big! You want to be well armed and a good shot if you are going to meet a bear head on like that. And DH isn’t a hunter, he really does not like shooting animals, even the raccoons. He shoot guns for sport. Targets don’t stand a chance around him. Living breathing beings are a different story.

Also unlike raccoons, you can’t trap bears & release them elsewhere. Animal control suggests we lock up our garbage better but lacking a garage there is no place to keep a week’s worth of garbage inside. The garbage is currently locked up in a wood corral with a wood & metal lid that locks shut. It is an effective raccoon deterrent.

Bears laugh at it.

Last night this bear got into the garbage. It apparently dragged one bag of garbage down to the fence line & then dropped it, probably distracted by our dog Athena. Athena is mostly, possibly entirely, a Plott Hound, they are bred to hunt bears and wild boar in the mountains.

We didn’t know this when we rescued her from the shelter last year, we just liked her friendly disposition. Later, when we were trying to deal with her escape artist nature we learned about plott hounds & the bear thing.

She’s gone up against bears 3 times in the past month & chased them away twice & been intimidated away once.

The cats find it amusing to watch. They are unafraid of the bear but then, they don’t bother the bear either, they stay low to the ground & don’t move much when the bear is around.

All the barking last night got DH out of bed to investigate. Initially he went out on the porch and saw nothing but a opened trash bag on the ground next to the bin. Athena came in the house when he went out. She went back out when he came in. She stood in the middle of the yard and barked at the swimming pool, then out from between the pool and the deck emerged this big bear coming at her. She took off running one way and after about 4 steps the bear took off in the other direction.

Dh slammed the door shut as soon as he saw the bear.

So DH is debating his bear dealing options and I am trying to figure out what has changed recently that would account for these sudden bear appearances. There are two bears that we know of, since the one DH saw last night was considerably bigger than the one he saw a few weeks ago. Our wooded area is not large enough or dense enough to house a bear so they are coming across the cow pasture & climbing the barbed wire fence. Given where the one garbage bag was found today & the direction Athena chased the bear a few weeks ago, the bears are coming across the cow pasture land to the north & west of us, not the land east of us (different neighbors own each property). The NW neighbor recently mowed a lot of that pasture but it wasn’t dense woodland or anything. He mows it once a year or so. It’s far to open to be bear friendly living territory.

Our friends 5 miles away reported a bear coming up onto their covered side porch and rolling two garbage cans off it the night before last.

It’s like we’re being terrorized by a bear gang or something.

My kids play outside.

In the woods.

And in the swimming pool.

What happens if we come home from a party late?

Then there are the nights DH is away for work. I already barely sleep due to my fear of homicidal axe wielding maniacs. Now I have to worry about a bear trying to break in one of the sliding glass doors or attacking my dumb enough to attack it first dog.

I’m not liking this bear situation but I am at a loss as to what to do.

The only good note is that the bear might attack the homicidal axe wielding maniac, or at least scare him off.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Monday Potluck


I actually had 7 solid hours of sleep Saturday night. Unmedicated. First time since 2002. Sadly I did not repeat it last night so I’m a bit vague this morning.



Havoc got poison ivy over the holiday weekend and spent all last week covered in it. He is highly allergic & one small patch on his leg get into his system and within 2 days it’s popping up all over his body. He could barely use his right hand Thurs-Sat due to the huge blisters on his fingers. So naturally he has just been a JOY to live with. I understand he is not comfortable & it makes him cranky but seriously…it’s been like living with a 2 year old with all the meltdowns everytime things don’t go his way.



My baking quest this summer seems to be the perfect chewy, yet solid granola bar. I can make great chewy bar shaped granola but as soon as you pick it up it crumbles to pieces. I’ve got about a dozen recipes from the interwebs and I’ve been working with them, making small batches trying to mimic Quaker Chewy Granola bars, though Mayhem says mimicing the Special K bars is ok too.




Feckless – 1. Careless and irresponsible 2. Lacking purpose or vitality; feeble or ineffective.

I come across this word constantly in books but no one ever says it out loud in real life. I think it is highly applicable in everyday life with small children or lazy coworkers so I am hoping to use it often this week.




My parents are coming to visit at the end of this week. They were coming Thursday but now will be here Saturday. They were staying until Sunday but now will be here until Tuesday morning. I host our monthly bunco group on that Tuesday evening.

This works out so well for me. My mom is a cleaning nut and I have long since given up on cleaning to her standards or being offended when she cleans rooms I thought were clean. So. My main bathroom and kitchen will be spotless when she leaves Tuesday morning & I think even I can keep ahead of the little mess makers for 12 hours so the rooms remain spotless for bunco.

Thank you Holly for hosting potluck. Please feel free to join in with your own randomness!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Weekly Winners

All from my 365 Photos this week.

There was some camping over the holiday weekend


Some playing by the river


Some swimming


Some homemade granola bars (I need a recipe for chewy ones that don’t fall all to pieces when you pick them up)


A trip to the library for chick lit mysteries


And since my yardwork is done for a couple weeks, I did my nails


For more weekly winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

I just needed a few

(This was originally posted in 2008 but it happened to me again Monday so I am reposting it because it was such deja vu for me)

Just a few. All I wanted was to make some breakfast burritos. I needed maybe 6 corn tortillas. Small ones, but knowing how these things go package wise, I accepted I'd probably end up with 12 large ones or 15 small ones & make enchiladas for dinner one night. HA! I was determined to get corn tortillas, not flour. I like corn better, especially for breakfast burritos.

I run into Food Lion & scan the 'international food aisle' for tortillas. They only have taco shells and flour tortillas, so I head back to the refrigerated section. There I find corn tortillas. Except....they only come in bags of 100.


100 tortillas, when I need maybe 6.

There are slots for bags of 36 tortillas and bags of 15 large sized tortillas, but the slots are empty. It's 100 tortillas or no tortillas. The boys were very into having breakfast burritos and the boys rarely get excited about food that isn't cheese pizza, so I was feeling pressure about the burritos. I stood there in the refrigerated aisle and tried to come up with things to do with 94 corn tortillas. Enchiladas, of course. Quesedillas. Steak & veggie fajitas.  That's maybe 15 tortillas. Wrappers for BBQ pork sandwiches.  That lasagna thing Alton Brown made, that used a lot of tortillas. I could cut some into triangles & fry or bake them for nachos. We could do breakfast burritos twice in one week. That's maybe 50 tortillas.  I could cut them up and blend them to mush. I'm fairly sure Alton Brown did that, and use them like polenta & serve with ragu. Maybe I could layer them with cheese & top them and call them pizza? I'm sure I stood there a good 5 minutes pondering all the tortilla recipes I have heard of (I'm Irish & German, tortillas are a rarity in my life). Finally I decided I could use at least 70 of them & given the cost, that would be ok.  Then I saw the sign. 



200 tortillas, when I need maybe 6. 

I don't know how it is at your Food Lion, but the checkers at ours will not let you leave without your BOGO. Saying "that's ok, really, 100 tortillas is way more than I need anyway" will not stop them from sending someone back to get you your free bag. They don't seem to understand the concept that you might not want the free food to which you are entitled. If you stand there & try to insist that you don't want it, life will grind to a halt while you are stared at by checkers, baggers and fellow customers in blank incomprehensibility.

She doesn't want the BOGO? Why is she buying the item if she doesn't want the BOGO?  How can you not want a BOGO?

I have this problem all the time with soda products. I want a 12pack of Coke & one of Sprite for a cookout we're having, but the deal is buy 2 get 2 free. but I don't want 24 extra cans of soda in my house. I will drink them if they are in my house. I don't not need the calories of 24 extra cans of soda (and I can't stand diet so it's the caloried stuff or nothing). I can't not drink them. I know this about myself. So I just don't buy them. But you can't not get BOGOs. I can usually solve the problem when it is soda or something like chips or cookies.  The store is always collecting goods for the food bank and I just drop my unwanted BOGO soda into the collection box. Corn tortillas are perishable & they don't collect perishable items at the box.

There are now 192 corn tortillas in my fridge. I wonder if the boys would accept them as a substitute for buns on their ham & cheese sandwiches? I suppose I can freeze them?

I need your small corn tortilla recipes please!