« June 2007 | Main | August 2007 »

July 2007

Just to make it official

I made this deal with my kids, and I'm sharing it here, for the fun of it, to me, and so forth and so on. I have something all world-conscious to write later, if I'm up for it.

I have 5 kids at home. One is a voracious, rabid reader. The rest are less so. Kat reads plenty of books, she just doesn't devour them greedily like her sister. The three boys, well, two of them enjoy books if I make them read, but don't think to do it on their own. The other boy doesn't enjoy reading much at all.

Next week we'll be reading the new Harry Potter aloud, of course. But I've made some deals with them and I'm sharing them with you.

Ben, Aaron, Theron and Katrina will each read three books by Sept. 1, and then we'll buy Guitar Hero. The books are chosen by me. Whoever reads five books by then will get to choose a PlayStation game or DVD from Costco. They will be loosely tested on how much they remember of the books, just aloud. Their descriptions crack me up anyway, so I'll enjoy that.

Olivia has to read three books I choose and write an actual report about one of them, to earn a new outfit. She easily reads three books a day, but resists the official lists of Books Every One Must Read, though she's read many of them without being told to. It's the being told that gets her. And so she created this challenge for herself.

We are starting with these books:

Theron, age 9: Runaway Ralph, by Beverly Cleary
Aaron, age 10: Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Ben, reluctant but perfectly good reader, age 13,: Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli
Katrina, age 15: Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
Olivia, age 17: Howard's End, by E.M.Forster (I have promised her that not all the selections will be what we call "literature," but I really think she'll like this and then we can watch the movie, which I haven't seen in an age.)

I will give reports on "our" progress. :-)

Am I reading, too? Not exactly. I would read unceasingly given the means and opportunity. What I need is exercise. Taking a tip from Cap'n Crook's book, my goal is daily exercise instead, and if I lose all 10 of these annoying pounds by Labor Day, I shall reward myself with--something small or else just feel good about having achieved something worth achieving.



my new backyard (neighborhood only)

I don't mind sharing many of my pictures with the whole world. But this feels too intimate right now, maybe partly because the homeowners are still there and you can see their belongings. I can't quite embrace it yet.

The house itself is very prosaic and a little too small. But it's well-built, and comfortable, and we'll be able to garage our cars again. The garage here is so small our bikes and tools fill it up.

The new neighborhood is much plainer than we're used to, and I don't think I've ever before lived more than 1/2 mile from a creek, river or patch of woods. So this backyard and garden space will be my oasis, I guess, and it's a pretty nice one.

I guess they'll likely leave the bird bath, which would greatly please me. It would also be lovely if they left the windmill, as well, but I don't suppose they will. The plants need severe pruning, and most of the rest in this corner is weeds. But the flowers are really great, I love the little wall, and so I think it's a foundation for something spectacular.





QotD: I Take These Things For Granted

What are five things you take for granted? 
Submitted by meowkitty.

Although only a couple of these photos have any tiny bit of "art" to them, I owe the reminder of beauty today to Princesskasren, who posts the loveliest photos and thoughts on her page.

A beautiful shiny eggplant will grow from the death of this blossom.


I will make spicy soup and lovely fresh iced tea in my new home.


Fresh lavender has a heaven-born scent.


These tomatoes will eventually ripen, hopefully many of them before I have to leave them behind.


FrontleftFrontright

No one who is likely to move in here after we leave will appreciate the amount of work I put in here in such a short time. But I'm totally okay with that.






Death is not an option Wednesday: the carpet matches the drapes

I just felt like being gross.

I owe this week's matchup to ChickenGrrl. I'd mentioned one of these delicious fellows to her a couple of weeks ago, and she helpfully emailed me the perfect opponent, knowing I haven't had much time to think about these matters.

Since I didn't create the matchup entirely on my own, I'll go ahead and answer it, too. In a minute. You may have noticed I generally avoid doing that. :-)

Here are some videos of these two luscious redheads ripe for your plucking. And I do mean ripe, brother.




Here's Alan Kalter, doing what he does best; being really, really creepy.






And here's David Caruso, doing, well, the same thing.



The difference is that Kalter is funny, and Caruso is not. Also, Kalter varies his speech pattern and intonation. So he gets the nod from me over ol' One Expression David. Truthfully, anyone, nay, everyone, would. So it's not a fair match, to me, but I liked the parallel line.



Vox Hunt: On Writing

Book: Show us a book that has helped or inspired your writing.

Madeleine L'Engle is a Christian whom those on other paths can respect. She is truly a hero to me. Nearly all her books have inspired me, stories and meditations alike, but this one is specifically about creative energy, and it's a book I highly recommend to everyone I like.




jewelry and updates

I used to make jewelry and craft stuff all the time when the kids were little. I made hair wraps, brooches, bracelets, origami, painted furniture and canvases, you name it. Then we moved 3 and a half years ago to a cool mid-century house and I painted all the walls and decorated, but that was about all. I learned to knit then, but haven't made much, as it's hard on my wrists and eyes. Instead I concentrated on gardening. Then we moved again last year to a pleasant but boring house and I did even less. Other than painting one picture, and doing a front garden area, I've been super uninspired, not even cooking really interesting things very often. It's been an age since I made a cheesecake or any good sauces.

And now we are moving again next month! This is another mid-century house, but I won't be able to paint the walls or make any real changes until Spring 09, when the house will be officially ours. So I've got to get the creative verve going in other ways.

I'm working on the wardrobe project, building a writing portfolio, and making plans for souping up the garden there. I have one more year of homeschooling all the kids, so there's that to get in order soon. Then I want to start enjoying more cooking again.

In the meantime, inspired by faerie~wings and taking advantage of the Rag Shop going out of business sale, I bought some beads and made a couple of things yesterday.

I have no idea why this last photo is blurry, and I'm too lazy to take another one. I'd never really done tiny beads before, and couldn't quite see what I was doing, but I did make a pattern and then repeated it 7 more times, to make the bracelet 13 inches long, so that it wraps around twice. If you make one with a similar pattern and you have normal-sized wrists, you'll need 9 or 10 sets instead of 8.

 


Anyway. Soon I'll have to start packing up the house, again, deep cleaning and repairing and so forth. All my summer plans were wrecked again by this situation and my broken computer. Again again again. Again. But either I'm never meant to set goals for myself or else I have to keep resetting them. Either way, there's no choice; continuing on is all there is. So I'm making pretty. It's not exactly a catharsis, but something like it.


QotD: Sorry, You Can't Wear That Anymore

What clothing item do you wish could be banned?
Submitted by Mike E.

Banned, huh? Well, nothing, when you put it that way. There are some things I wish people wouldn't wear, and many things I'd never wear. Camouflage print, for one. It sort of turns my stomach.

I think thongs are horrible, and I'm hoping that all the new seamless underwear will help put a stop to those for everyday wear. You can still try to vamp it up for your partner or whatever, in your home where I don't see evidence of it, or have to endure sympathy chafing.

But I'm glad you asked, because I have a lot to say on this subject. I will be adding photos later, but I have to go do things soon.

I don't see why people whine over certain styles that don't suit them. Most every style suits someone, except some of the extreme high-fashion choices, which are mostly for show, anyway. For example, I see nothing at all wrong with skinny jeans on the right person, worn correctly, in the correct size, and so forth. At a half size smaller, I look good in them myself, though they're a bit young for me in general. I think flared jeans look good on almost no one, but some of the wide legs do, again, fitting properly.

There are so many fit and style choices these days, people can find what suits them, if only they'd put a little serious effort into it instead of whinging on about anything they find uncomfortable or strange. I like that we're no longer slaves to the fashion moment; instead we get to work within a wide spectrum. Younger people have no idea the strict limits we used to have with our clothing choices, even long after women were allowed to wear pants and jeans everywhere.

Usually, bad trends don't last, unless some dedicated and misguided souls out there attempt to keep them running. There was no need for women to continue to wear long sweaters over leggings a full decade after someone got a look in a mirror and said, "whoops." When was Kate and Ally cancelled, anyway?

There's little need for waistlines of pants to hit us right where we digest the food. Wearing them above or below, depending on what suits us best is much better, and I'm glad we have that choice now.

Many times, the trends that cause problems have to do with how the clothes are "enhanced," with attachments of various kinds, or the shape/cut/sizing of the garment. If people would figure out the cuts and colors that look best on them, they could easily decide which of-the-moment fashions will work with their basic wardrobe, and which ones to give a pass to.

And everyone should look in a floor-length mirror before they leave the house. I don't care how poor you are, and I've been there often, you can save up, get one of those for ten dollars, attach it to the back of a door, and never leave the house looking like a mess again. And if you shop twice a year at the department store clearance sales, when tons of things are 70% off, you can always look as good as anyone who has money.

I recently read a blog where the writer describes just what you need in a basic wardrobe. I agree, but I don't, because she's not factoring poverty into the mix, and it's kind of too much with the black. So I'm going to make a list and put it in here later, along with some shopping rules. Why, you ask?

Well, largely because I'm trying to redo my own wardrobe and this is heavily on my mind just now. Also, I'd like everyone else to dress better, as well. Then we all feel better about ourselves and make nice with each other. :-)



Sick all over

There's a group of logical fallacies called inductive fallacies. Read about them here, and think about them every time you watch a program that presents facts in order to make an emotional appeal to you. You can then read much more about fallacy at this site, if you are so inclined.

This article addresses some concerns raised by a viewing of the movie Sicko.

No one claims there are not severe problems with the American healthcare system, and few would deny that the fault lies largely with the control insurance companies have over how doctors and hospitals practice medicine. Those who would deny it either have blinders on, or are themselves part of the problem. But filmmakers such as Michael Moore can mislead the public from whom they accept their profits by only presenting their own view of the matter, yet calling their films objective.

Go see the movie, if you want to pay for it. But remember that it may not be objective; after all, it's a carefully edited series of perspectives created to build a two-dimensional picture with emotional appeal. If you then want to go out and make a difference in how our healthcare system operates, you'll need to check all the facts cited, and also look at what others are trying to do to create changes from other perspectives. 


not a foodie, so much

I just know how to look like one sometimes.

Here, this introduction is from ChickenGrrl. She made her answers funny. I decided not to, even though I agree with her about the extreme tiresomeness of it. I have answered it the way the creator knew our dear friend robbie wouldn't.

For those of you who missed it, robbbiedobbie's cousin is a "REAL CHEF [who] STUDIED IN FRANCE."  She sent The Divine Miss R this "cooking quizzy," "just to irritate [her]," apparently, because she seems to think R is a "Food Heathen."  So of course I had to take is, because this is just about the most pretentious thing I've ever read.  It's so pompous and turgid (yes, I'm well aware that I'm being "unnecessarily redundant"), in fact, that I had a hard time being terribly funny, but I gave it a shot anyway.


1. What is your favorite dish "tartare"?
beef tataki

2. Share your special way to prepare shrimp.
eh. it's good tossed into a sauteed mixture of tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, a bit of onion, garlic, and oregano, with a splash of white wine and maybe a hint of citrus.

3. Which cut(s) of pork do you grill most often?
I buy whole boneless pork loins, cut them up and marinate them in different ways.

4. How do you prepare your lasagna? From scratch? If not, what do you purchase, and why?
I take issue at the idea that someone would buy lasagna from a grocery store. Really. If you can't make it, at least get take-out from a restaurant. And I learned once that some company produces something in a can and calls it lasagna, and that's just offensive. Also offensive: the use of cottage cheese.

Lasagna is kind of organic; I probably never make it the same way twice. I'm going to do a layered baked penne later this week, with some sausage. I'll probably incorporate Classico jar sauce, because, hello, it's July. If you add some cooked onion and sausage pieces to the sauce and simmer it for a little while, it takes on a nice depth, without the time needed for fully homemade sauce. Traditionally, I wouldn't put meat into pasta dishes. But sometimes I do, because that is how LP likes it.

5. What is your favorite reduction?
If I told you I'd have to kill you. Just kidding. But it involves dry vermouth, or sherry if I have that.

6. What spice can you not live without?
cardamom

7. What herb can you not live without?
basil, maybe. Or thyme or oregano. I particularly like lemony variations of these herbs.

8. What style of cuisine so you prefer? If a combination, please describe.
I enjoy all the Mediterranean cuisines, and also Cuban, Japanese, and Argentinian.


yet another silly quiz

like I have time for this.

I took Sage Vivant's Erotic Personality Quiz and discovered I'm a Show-Off!

(The accompanying illustration was tacky.)

The Show-Off likes attention. This may or may not be true in daily life, but in a sexual context, they love to be watched, admired, gawked at, and viewed. They don’t necessarily have to be engaged in the sex act, per se. The Show-Off might be wearing something revealing or might be sauntering about a nudist camp—either way, they crave your eyes on them. At a sex party, they wouldn’t give a hoot what others were doing. They’d only be concerned about who was watching them. They are exhibitionists and their fantasy life is rife with scenarios where they have an audience. Compliments only heighten The Show-Offs need for exposure.

Am I, then? Huh.

What is your Erotic Personality? Find out now.