Saturday, July 29, 2006

Happy Birthday, Baby...

It seems almost impossible to believe that eight years have gone by already...

It doesn't seem all that long ago that your father and were I at the hospital, staring into your plastic bassinet.

We were so enthralled by you, and yet somewhat terrified, too. You seemed so small; so very, very small.

At first we just called you "the thing in the box that goes SQUEAK", because we were having a difficult time grasping the enormity of it all.

There was one thing that we were certain of that day, as we gazed down at you. We knew that we could never love anything more.

And we were wrong.
We love you more with each and every day.

Happy Eighth Birthday, Baby....

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Summer Reading List, Weeks VI - VIII

I've gotten behind on my reading list, if not my reading. (Although, I confess that the reading has slowed down a bit.
Darn Footballers Wives...)

Below is the list. I tried to keep things short and sweet, so as not to be too overwhelming. Recommended books are indicated by a hyperlink to Amazon*, so you can learn more about it. Or, if there's anything you'd like to hear more about - leave me a comment!

Seaside: A Lily Pascale Mystery - Scarlett Thomas
The third book in what continues to be a strong series. Lily must investigate the recent death of an 18-year-old twin. Is it suicide or murder? And exactly which twin is it??

The Booster - Jennifer Solow
Very promising debut novel - Upper East Side fashionista falls into a self-destructive downward spiral, which culminates with her involvement in a shoplifting ring.

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread - Kate DiCamillo
A lovely story for elementary-aged children, and the people who love to read with them. A tidy tale of mice and men; of hope, love and forgiveness. And, oh yes, soup...

Blue Screen - Robert Parker
The newest Sunny Randall novel - with Jesse Stone and Susan Silverman from other Parker franchises making appearances. Sunny is hired by a sleazy Hollywood player to investigate the death of his girlfriend's sister. (His girlfriend is one of the top action stars in L.A)
Even though I am not "recommending" this book - I did enjoy it. I figure, though, that if you're a Robert Parker reader, you're going to read it no matter what I say - and if you're not, then you need to start at the beginning of one of Parker's series, because after the first novel or so, he dispenses with any sort of character introduction or development - he assumes you already know who they are!

Two for the Road: Our Love Affair with American Food - Jane & Michael Stern
I love the "Roadfood" books and website. I enjoyed Jane's solo work, Ambulance Girl. I wanted to love this, too. I didn't. Parts of it were interesting, but I tend to become rapidly tired of any work where the author is trying to impress on me just how cool he/she is, how ahead of their time he/she is, etc.

Wedding Season - Darcy Cosper
Joy, who has declared that she will never marry, is set to attend 17 weddings in six short months.
I read a number of reviews which hailed this as a modern day Jane Austin novel, I didn't quite see that. It does seem to bear a debt to "Four Weddings and a Funeral" - however, with no funeral... I did enjoy this, and it was far more clever than I expected.

Goat: A Memoir - Brad Land
Land is brutally assaulted when his car is stolen. He then goes to Clemson University and pledges a fraternity. Tough to say which is more horrific. He has a very interesting story to tell, but has chooses to tell it in a very stylized and self-conscious voice - which detracts, and distracts, from his story's inherent strength.

Chew On This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food - Eric Schlosser
Schlosser simplifies the message of his best-selling "Fast Food Nation" for the tween and teen sets. He does a great job of simplifying without dumbing down. This should be required reading for every middle-school student in America. And if you couldn't stomach (no pun intended) "Fast Food Nation", you, too, need to read this book. It's that important....

Runaway Heart - Stephen J. Cannell
Cannell introduces a new protagonist, a fledgling PI in Los Angeles, in this thriller. There was way too much science fiction-y stuff and conspiracy theories for my taste: "It's all about Area 51! And aliens! And using genetic engineering to create a new species of super soldier!" Please....

User ID - Jenefer Shute
Vera, a middle-aged ESL assistant professor from NYC has her identity stolen by Charlene, who sells discount cosmetics at a drugstore in L.A. Each woman seems to think that her life would be better if only she were living the life of the other. They're both wrong. Neither of these characters is likeable or sympathetic. Which makes for a long book....

Princess in the Spotlight - Meg Cabot
So, it's a guilty pleasure. I love the Mia Thermopolis books...

Swapping Lives - Jane Green
I typically enjoy Jane Green's books, but this one was a bit of a disappointment. It's not a bad book, it's just not as fun or as fresh as her others. The story - two fabulous women with seemingly-perfect lives (one married, one single) decide to swap lives and see if the grass really is greener - seemed like one I had already read a half-dozen times before. It was all just a little too familiar and predictable.

The Little Lady Agency - Hester Browne
It's not that this is the most original story either - girl is hired to pretend to be HandsomeMan's girlfriend, girl falls for HandsomeMan, hilarity and misunderstandings ensue, along with some big time family dysfunction - but the writing style was fun and breezy, and I enjoyed this book far more than the previous one.

Glamorous Disasters - Eliot Schrefer
Just as I get tired with authors who want to beat me about the head and neck with how cool they are, rather than allowing me to discover it on my own (see "Two For The Road", above), I also tire very easily with books about disenchanted, disenfranchised youths. (Unless it's done well. Really well. J.D. Salinger-well!) So I was taken aback at just how much I enjoyed this book...
Noah is suffering a quarter-life crisis as he serves as an SAT tutor to the over-privileged children of Fifth Avenue (the eponymous "Glamorous Disasters".) Numerous books of late have documented these types of families - The Nanny Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada amongst them. Schrefer goes far deeper than the superficial stereotypes of these other works, however. This was a very compelling and strong debut...

*Just so you know, I have no affiliation with Amazon whatsoever. I do often link there just because it is so easily accessible to everyone, it's got all my books in one place, and it pretty consistently loads quickly. However, I do strongly encourage you to support your local library, or your local independent bookseller!

Three Cheers for GeekyMom!

One of my dear friends,* the incredibly articulate GeekyMom, is headed out to San Jose to present at the Second Annual BlogHer conference! The theme of this year's conference is "How is Your Blog Changing Your World" - examining the impact that blogs have on helping people change their own lives, and this impacts their families, their businesses, and their communities.

I find GeekyMom's writing to be both thoughtful and thought-provoking. So often, she says exactly what I am thinking, but she sums it up so beautifully, and in a way that I never could.
That is not to say that she thinks my every thought - in fact, I don't always agree with her on all topics, but she always makes me think, and I do appreciate seeing the other side of arguments.

She is presenting on the second day of the conference on the role of blogging in the classroom, and its use in raising academic profiles. I know she will do an outstanding job, and I wish that I were able to be there and get to see her in action....

Other BlogHer sessions that sound interesting to me are a session about group blogging, featuring Yarnageddon from the KnittingBloggers community, and a session entitled "MommyBlogging is a Radical Act!" - how I'd love to hear more about that.

I do realize that there is a (somewhat large?) contingent out there in the blogshpere who write off what I do here as just "MommyBlogging". Not just me, but what so many of you, my beloved CraftyGrrls, do on your sites, too...
To paraphrase Linda Hirshman, we're all a bunch of poor benighted souls, pregnant and renovating, reporting daily on our roofing and our barfing... I try not to read too much from the vitriolic MommyBashers out there - I can beat myself up for not making a more meaningful contribution to society, thankyouverymuch - but I would love to see a bunch of educated, articulate women argue that we MommyBloggers do have something to say, and an audience to whom to say it.

Good Luck, GeekyMom - travel safe!

*and one of my oldest, since I've known her since kindergarten/first grade!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

How Do I Love These, Let Me Count the Ways....

Earlier in the week, Autum from Creative Little Daisy posted about the anxiety she feels when creating something that is intended as a gift for another.
She made the point that when someone buys something you've made, you know they've bought it because it fills a need that they have. But to give someone something you've made - that's a little more perilous. As difficult as it is to believe, not everyone values handmade gifts.
You can read her original post here.

She then posted pictures of the intended gifts, and they were oh-so-lovely. She received many comments (including one from yours truly) assuring her that anyone would be thrilled to receive such gifts.

Fast forward to this afternoon - a package is on my doorstep. Thinking it must be something for Schecky's upcoming birthday*, I was startled to see my name on the address label in a gorgeous clear script.

I was stunned speechless - and trust me, that doesn't happen often - when I opened the box and realized that I was the lucky recipient! Just look at this:

As you can see, the both the pillow and apron are simply beautiful, as well as fantastically constructed.

What you might not be able to see is the amount of thought and consideration that is there as well...
Autum took time to think about what I might like and use. She took into consideration the colors that she knew that I liked, and she must have gone to Flickr to see what colors I have in my house (because this was before I posted the "Corner of My Home.")
Additionally, see the dots? the gnomes? the absolutely wonderful goldfish print fabric??? These are all fabrics that I have commented on when she's used them in other projects. She remembered and she incorporated...
As gorgeous as these both these items are - and they truly, truly are - I think the thing that I love the most about them is simply just how incredibly thoughtful they are.**

And, Autum, you should never, ever worry about how your handicraft will be received ...

* In an early attempt at "Gratitude Friday", let me just express my appreciation for - which allows me to do all my toy shopping late at night, in my pjs, without having to set foot in a ToysRUs...

**Although, if I may say so - look at how gorgeous that pillow makes my house look! You can see it on the mission rocker facing forwards, and on the couch facing backwards. It even looks at home on the old wooden pew - it's going to be hard to figure out where it gets to live, it just looks "right" in so many places...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

And there was banana bread... And it was good....

Much Better...
Much happier times...

I've bounced back from my tale of woe and ickiness from earlier in the day. A trip to the store was made. Butter was purchased. Banana bread was attempted again.

And I'm glad to report that it's good. It is really, really good! Thank you so much, Myra, from MyLittleMochi - I've been looking for years for a really kickass banana bread recipe, and thanks to you I've found it!

Myra's recipe can be found here - and you should check it out because not only is her photo styling is far superior to mine (darn dark house!), you'll probably want to adhere to her original version. I'll admit to tweaking it a little, just because I know the taste preferences of my own family. I like pecans more than walnuts, and I've got this weird quirk where no matter how much vanilla a recipe calls for, I'll always add more. Below I'll post what I did, with the changes that I made to Myra's recipe in bold.

And now I'm off to watch "Rescue Me", and finish my still-warm piece of banana bread... Life can be good...

Banana Bread
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
several grates of fresh nutmeg (See Note Below)
1 cup mashed overripe bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Streusel Topping (see below)

In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla well. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until fluffy.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a separate bowl. Sift a small amount of flour mixture into butter/sugar mixture, add a small amount of sour cream, and a small amount of mashed bananas and gently stir only until ingredients are mixed (do not over mix). Repeat step until all ingredients are incorporated into butter/sugar mix. Gently stir in chopped nuts.
Pour into a large greased loaf pan (or 2 smaller ones), then sprinkle streusel topping over surface.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. (Note: depending on the loaf pan size you use, and the hotness of your oven, the baking time may be a lot less.)

Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter (I recommend a pasty blender) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle this topping over surface of banana bread once it has been poured into the loaf pan.

Note about nutmeg:
I can't give you an exact measurement of grated nutmeg, because nutmeg is one of the few areas where I am a food snob. If you're going to use nutmeg, get whole nutmegs and freshly grate them. If you don't have fresh nutmeg, just skip it. Seriously├é… Life is too short to use pre-grated nutmeg. Particularly since it always looks and tastes like the crumbliest little bits you would empty out of a pencil sharpener...

Well, crud...

The Saddest Bananas in the Whole Wide World....
The Saddest Bananas in the Whole Wide World...
Originally, this was going to be my "before" shot...

I was planning on doing something all clever today - something along the lines of "When Life Hands You Some Really Skanky Looking Bananas, Make Banana Bread!" or something equally perky. But, as it turns out, sometimes life just hands you a bunch of skanky bananas, and that's all you end up with.

Let me explain....

I was inspired by Myra over at My Little Mochi - she had a very nice post about banana bread, and was kind enough to share the recipe. And it was some fine looking banana bread, too.
I also remembered that I had a freezer full of icky bananas - mainly because Schecky reminded me. He went in to get a popsicle the other day, and came out complaining that the freezer was full of "old gross dead bananas."*

So I decided to make some banana bread of my own - and it was meant to be! I actually had absolutely everything that I needed - even down to exactly one stick of butter- no less, no more! Perfect! And if I got started now, it would be done just in time for eating after dinner! Sure, I was cutting it kind of close, time-wise... but I was on a mission, darn it!

So I got out all my ingredients - and began. Cream the butter and sugar. Check. Add twice as much vanilla as the recipe calls for, because anything that is good with vanilla in it will be that much better with twice as much, right? Check. Add an egg. Check. Add the second egg - and bloody hell...

No - the gratuitous swearing is not due to all the lovely British TV I've been watching lately. That's because that's literally what came out of the second egg.

It. Was. So. Incredibly. Gross.
I'm totally still shuddering as I type this....

It's funny - I've always worried about what a "bad egg" would look like. I'm kind of freakishly squeamish about it. That's why I almost always break the eggs into a small cup one at a time before adding them to anything.
Almost always - but not tonight....because I was in a rush. So, down the DisposAll with one barely begun batch of banana bread. Down the drain with my one and only stick of butter....

I'm know that there is a moral in here about how bad things are more likely to happen when you take short cuts. On the bright side, I no longer have to be phobic about wondering what a bad egg looks like. It didn't kill me, and I suppose that I am now stronger for it.
Although, I don't think that I will ever call anyone a bad egg ever again.

At the very least, it will be a very, very, very long time before I break an egg directly into my recipe again.....

*Why so many gross, old, dead bananas, you may ask? Well, Bubba and Schecky keep insisting that they love bananas, and they complain because I "never buy bananas." Well, I don't buy bananas unless nagged because:

1. I really, really, really hate bananas. Always have, always will. In fact, when Scheck was a toddler, and you know how toddlers love bananas, I finally learned how to be in the same room with an open banana without gagging.
I hate the smell, the texture, the taste - everything. Yet, ironically, I like fake banana flavoring - like those scary yellow popsicles that no one else likes, and banana flavored Laffy Taffy.

2. Despite what they say, they don't eat them and then they just go all ick. So I throw them in the freezer, thinking that one day I'll make banana bread with them...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Corner Of My Home

You probably won't see too many of these - corners of my home, that is. Because the simple fact of the matter is that I am not very good at interior design / home making / etc.

In some small way, this bothers me - I would love to have an eye for color, a flair for knowing exactly what thing needs to go on that table, or what I need to hang on that empty space on the wall.

But, in the grander scheme of things, I guess I can live with it.

It's funny, but I am coming to terms with the fact that I was born design-deficient - much in the way that my number-one-boy, Schecky, is color-blind*.

I don't really seem to have any sort of personal style of my own, but I do know what I like when I see it. I can walk into another person's home and recognize what they've done well, and what isn't quite right - I just can't seem to apply that knowledge to my own house. Ditto reading home improvement articles, etc.

People are often surprised at my complete lack of ability in this area. "But you seem so crafty!", they exclaim.
I'm living proof that you can be both crafty and yet utter crap at making a home.
Also, while I was teaching preschool, I did get a reputation for being very "artsy" - since I loved to do projects - painting, collages, etc. - with the children, and since I took great pride in decorating the classroom with the utterly gorgeous things that the children made... Still, obviously skills that don't translate into making a home of my own.

This having been said, I am more pleased with this particular corner than any other in my house. It's the closest thing to "being done" as it gets. I recognize that I need to have a plant in there somewhere, and that my poor bare walls are crying out for artwork or something. But knowing that I need these things, and being able to take care of those gaps are two completely different things.

Instead of dwelling any further on what is not there, let's look at what is....

First of all - I like all the wood. The trim on the windows has been there all along (since 1908!), but the blinds and the piano were my addition. The piano we just got last year, it was left to us by my husband's grandmother, who in her day was apparently quite the Grande Dame of Greeneville, NC society.

I also like the round table, and that's just been there for a year or so as well. It's basically a filing cabinet that I had my mom, who is an excellent seamstress, pretty up for me. This actually caused me great stress at the time, because I picked out the fabrics myself. When I sent them off to my mom, she immediately called me up wanting to know what I was thinking! Of course, at that point I as thinking that I had just spent what seemed like to me a small fortune on fabric, and that it must be ugly - even though I had thought it was so pretty... This has a happy ending though - when she delivered to me, we put it all together and she decided that she liked it after all. "I get it now, " she said - which is about as high a praise as you are going to get from that one. (I love my mom, but she's got a lot of Farmer Hoggett in her. You can knock yourself out winning the sheep herding competition, and all you're going to hear is: "That'll do, pig...")

Of course, that moment was somewhat short-lived, as she began pointing out my lack of decorative tabletop items with which to build a proper "table scape." I had the lamp, but was informed you can't just have a table on it with nothing but a lamp. I added the silver tray, which was my grandmother's. My mom decided that I needed some sort of red accessory, to pick up the accent color in the room. I didn't have anything handy, so she put Fluffy in there - to serve as a guide. I am supposed to be on the lookout for something that is as red and as tall as Fluffy for that spot - I guess a vase, or something? Anyway, Fluffy suits me just fine and he's been sitting there for months... And probably will stay there until the next time my mom is in town, and sees him and immediately marches me out to Bed, Bath and Beyond or some sort of KnickKnacks R Us store, where she will effortlessly find just the perfect thing and tell me to buy it.

The books are: (and this is for Manda, because she likes to know the books....)
Under the Lamp:
An Atlas - which I actually look at all the time.
Miss Manner's Guide To Raising Perfect Children - which was given to me by a friend of my mother's (a dear old friend, they were TriDelts at Kentucky together) when I was pregnant with Schecky. It was not intended as a gag gift, either, I suspect. I have never opened it - I like the irony: Miss Manners may not have helped me raise my child, but she did help me raise my lamp...

On the table:
Stitch and Bitch
Stupid Sock Creatures
Jess Hutch's Unusual Toys for You to Knit and Enjoy

None of these are supposed to be here, since they clutter up my table space - but I look at them all the time and I like to have them handy....

This corner looks a little spiffier than is usual, due to the roses. Bubba brought those home the other day, completely out of the blue, "just because," as he adamantly informed me that they were NOT birthday roses. I'll admit that I am not really a big flower girl, a topic that the clever and entertaining Editrix has discussed over at her site, Pathetic Fallacy. I'll let you check it out there....
However, I do have to admit that they look really, really pretty and I might have to rethink my whole "never, ever, ever buy me flowers" stance....
A stance in which Bubba is obviously well versed - when he walked in the door with the big bundle of flowers, he immediately said "You can't get mad at me for this! I got them at Publix, they were practically free...." I've trained him too well, perhaps????

*Yes, the Scheckster is almost completely color-deficient. Which is politically-correct speak for "Color-Blind". I usually avoid any and all phrases that are stupidly PC - however, we got Scheck tested when he was so young, and he didn't really understand and the word blind got him all worried. We got in the habit of using "deficient" instead, and even though he's old enough now that the fear is gone, the word is still around.

In school, a million years ago, they taught us that there are two different types of color-blindness: red/green and blue/yellow. I thought that you had one or the other. This is not exactly so - you can have one, or the other, or there's a whole spectrum in between. Scheck is totally red/green color-deficient, and almost wholly blue/yellow. I'd love to see the world through his eyes, I really, really would.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I'm Sorry...

that I've not been able to post this weekend and talk about Tennessee or all the birthday goodness. Why?

Because I am utterly, totally, and hopelessly addicted to Footballers Wives. This may very well be the trashiest TV that I have ever watched.
And that's saying something, because I do love my trashy TV...

Bubba gave me the complete first season on DVD for my birthday, and I've already vegged my way through all eight delicious episodes.

I then promptly went into withdrawal, and had to run out to Borders and buy the second season. Not only did I make a special trip to Borders, but I totally overpaid for it, just because I was too darn impatient to wait for to deliver it in a few days... I do enjoy Borders, but their DVD prices are terrible. Ah well, they had sent me a lovely email coupon for my birthday...

Why do I suspect that I'm not going to get any sleep tonight???

How did I not know about this show? Why can I only get the first two seasons on DVD, when the show just finished its fifth (and final?)* season???

And honestly, is there any couple on earth more evil than Jason and Tanya Turner????

*I am having to be very careful, and I am trying not to look at anything about it online, since I don't want to accidentally read an episode guide. Although, after I am done with my Second Season, I may have to break down and cheat and see what happens next... 'cause I don't think I can wait....

Friday, July 21, 2006

You Say It's Your Birthday?

Image taken (and thoughtfully provided) by: mag3737.

It's my birthday, too.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig...*

Scheck and I are back from our extended stay in East Tennessee. It was absolutely lovely, and a fab time was had by all.

I've actually got way too much to say about the trip: what we saw, who we saw, where we went, what we did - but I think I need a day or two to process it all, now that we are just a tiny bit removed from it.
Let's allow that editor that allegedly resides inside my head (the one who is supposed to stop me from saying thoughtless things, or rambling on far too much - you know, the one who usually seems to be asleep on the job...) to actually earn his keep and to help me to contemplate what I want to say, and make some sense of it all.

I also need some time to process all the wonderful information I came home to.
Masses and masses of information: mail (both snail- and e-), newspapers, library books, TiVo'ed programs, and the blogs, oh the blogs that I have to catch up on! So much information-y goodness.

I am both overwhelmed and excited...
It is amazing how much I was able to accomplish when I wasn't reading the paper cover to cover each day, or watching TV, or keeping up with the blogsphere. It really did give me noticeable amounts of additional free time. However, I feel shockingly ignorant. I am shockingly ignorant. I think a tsunami hit, and that the Middle East is really in turmoil - but that's about it. It's frightening how quickly you can lose touch of what is happening in the world....

*And to welcome us back, Georgia greeted us with open arms.
And an outdoor temperature of 100+°. Holy crud, that's hot!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Thank God, I'm a Country Grrrl...

...because today I want to talk about cowboy boots. And beer.
Honestly, could I be more of a Hillbilly than that???

First, the boots...

Cutest Boots EVER!

OK, I must ask you, could these be any cuter???

I fell in love with these the very first time I saw them (at Zappos.) However, I am the thriftiest girl in the world, and I just couldn't justify the pricetag -- $100+ seemed a tad steep.

But they stuck in my head like a big shiny diamond, so I've been prowling eBay for months, hoping to score. And finally I did - winning these little beauties* for less than $50! WooHoo!

I am thrilled, but I also find that I have something of a dilemma. You see, I am fashion challenged. Severely. In fact, if it weren't considered insensitive to bandy about the term, it might not be too far off the mark to say that I am retarded when it comes to fashion. Hence my dilemma: now that I've got these little lovelies, just what the heck am I supposed to wear them with????

Seriously, I welcome any and all advice... I've never owned a pair of any sort of cowboy boot before, and have no idea what I am doing.

A beer you need to try (even if you think you do not like beer)

Pomme Lambic

Let me start off by saying that I do like beer.
And whereas I can usually find a wine that I can drink on the occasions where drinking wine is the thing to do, if given a choice, I will always opt for beer over wine any day.

What I want to wax poetic about today are lambics. Lambics are a style of beer which are made only in one particular region of Belgium. (Other similar beers not brewed in this region are known as "lambic style".)

What's neat about these is, unlike other beers - which are fermented through the addition of brewer's yeasts - lambics are the process of spontaneous fermentation - basically, the process is left to nature. The brewer allows wild yeasts to do the job.
Once the initial fermentation process is begun, the lambic is moved into a second cask, and allowed to ferment a second time (a process that can take a year or two, aging the beer as you would - dare I say it - a wine).

In addition to the natural fermentation process, it is often traditional to add various fruits or vegetables to season and flavor the beer (since Lambics do not use hops).

The end result has been described as mysterious, magical, romantic. Elegant, sparkling, clean, natural. I just say "Yum".

My personal favorite one of these is Lindeman's Framboise Lambic - it is truly wonderful. It's got a gorgeous berry color, and a flavor that I am simply unable to convey adequately. I have frequently served it to guests who have asked me what it is, and are shocked when I tell them. "No way," they say, "I don't even like beer!" I typically serve this in a more delicate stemmed glass than the one pictured above.

The one above is a new one to me; I found it at the Farmer's Market earlier in the week. I had never seen the Pomme (Apple) Lambic before, and had to give it a try. It was not as ethereal as the raspberry, but it was still quite good. It was like a cross between a good wheat beer and a hard cider (which I also love!) It seemed far more casual, hence the big pub glass. It made pizza and movie night seem much more of an occasion...

*Although, technically, these could not be called "little" in any true sense of the world. I've got some big old honking feet....

Friday, July 07, 2006

She knit WHAT????

This is pretty darn unbelievable....

(additional info is available here.)

Work In Progress... Yeah, Right!

I started to photograph the only real "Work In Progress" that I have going on today. But after some reflection, I decided I really didn't want to take a picture of the 18 piles of laundry that I have sorted out on the bedroom and hallway floors.
The 18 piles that I have to keep remaking because Schecky has a friend over, and the two of them keeping running through the piles and strewing them all over creation.*

I also didn't want to put up a picture of my literal dirty laundry, because it looks like I've got a whole new crop of visitors, all headed this way thanks to sweet Autum at Creative Little Daisy. I think you should get a chance to know me a bit better before you are subjected to my grungy unmentionables...
If you wandered over here from Autum's site - welcome! And come back, please. I like to think that I am more interesting than this. On occasion...

The reason for the surge in laundry activity is because Schecky and I are getting ready to escape to East Tennessee for the next 10 - 12 days or so. Bubba will be staying home and holding down the fort here.
While in Tennessee, Schecky will be attending a sweet little day camp here, and then we will stay on for a few more days to celebrate FunFest.

FunFest is held annually in my former hometown for 10 days in the absolute hottest part of the summer. I always took it for granted as a child, and never thought much about it. But since having Schecky, it has made me come to appreciate the spirit behind small-town festivals. He and I have gone for the past 6 years.

It'll probably be kind of slow here at the Fortune Cookie whilst we're gone - we're staying with my parents: they do have internet access, but only just barely!

Photo by Creative Little Daisy.

I hate to leave without a picture, so I am going to cheat a little bit and link to a photo of my most recently completed WIP - which I foolishly forgot to take a picture of myself before packing her up.
Although I am secretly glad, as Autum is a much better photo stylist than I will ever be, and it is such a treat to see one of the little bears in a pretty setting!

This little lady has gone to live with Autum, who has named her "Ami" and is much better to her than I could ever hope to be. Not only is Ami surrounded by all sorts of lovely, crafty things, but she's even got her own perfect, tiny chocolate cake! We should all be so lucky....

Take care!

*So maybe that's my real "Work In Progress" today - not murdering two small boys...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Summer Reading List, Week Five*

Somehow, I seem to have angered the library gods - nothing came in on reserve this week. Which was OK, as a whole bunch of magazines arrived, and I actually got to sit down with them right away and enjoy. As opposed to letting them stack up and then frantically scanning them before I give them away, having I decided that I just can't stand the clutter anymore, as is what normally happens...

The other thing that made me OK with the lack of new books was that I had a big old book to savor and enjoy, and I could really devote a lot of attention to it.

Which was good, it needed a lot of attention... (much like the man to whom the book was devoted!)

The book in question was Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote, edited by Gerald Clarke.
And it's a big old honking behemoth of a tome, weighing in at just under two pounds!

Clarke is the author of a very highly regarded biography of Capote, which I would enjoy reading. I'm putting it on the list.

I'm very glad that I read this book, but I am not sure that I would recommend that you drop everything else and go read it. It was a very unusual read: it managed to be both wildly interesting and yet somewhat dry at the same time. I know that that sounds strange, but I can't think of a better way to put it.

Capote was a shameless, shameless name dropper (which didn't surprise me at all) and seem to catch the crabs fairly frequently (which did - see, it's the unexpected stuff that kept me reading!) He could, and did, turn ruthlessly on his acquaintances, but if you were a true friend, he would do anything, anything for you. In short, he was as fascinating as I had imagined, even if this collection of his letters grew a little wearisome at times.

I also snuck in a silly little read - Breakfast at Stephanie's, by Sue Margolis. A rather by-the-numbers, but inoffensive little British-chick-lit book.**

*Ack - we're already done with the fifth week of summer vacation? Where is it all going????

**Yes, you would be right in thinking that I read an inordinate amount of "chick-lit".

It's funny, I don't dislike the genre, but I don't have any real affection for it either. However, when Schecky was just a baby, I got to talking with one of the librarians at our branch library about "Bridget Jones". Turns out this librarian is the Queen of Chick-Lit, and whenever she reads a book and enjoys it, she sets it aside for me. That, to me, is such a thoughtful and lovely thing to do.

Plus, I really enjoy talking about the books with her once I've read them. So, whereas I don't have any real natural affinity for this genre, I have a genuine fondness for her. And if she's thoughtful enough to pull a book for me, I'm going to read it.

Besides, sometimes a fun, non-taxing read is just what the doctor ordered. And, BTW, I do think that Bridget was a smashingly enjoyable book.....

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Born on the Fourth of July....

Born on the Fourth of July....

A good friend of mine, who dates back from my college days, requested a bear for her niece. She explained that she is interested in turning her niece on to "lovely handmade things, gifts from the heart" as opposed to all the plastic mass-merchandised crud from ToysRUs. Now, how could I say no to that???

She specifically requested a lil' bear in a turquoise sweater with a red J on it. I didn't think anything at all about the combination until I was almost done with it*....

What was unusual about this little 'un is that she is the first bear that I have ever sat down and completed in one sitting. Admittedly, it was one long sitting - she was crafted during a marathon movie-watching session: a double feature featuring Breakfast at Tiffany's and Reality Bites**. So she ought to be a spunky little thing...

And patriotic, too, bless her heart!

*Red, White and Blue!

**It was really a most excellent afternoon.....

Musings from the Long Weekend...

Alternatively, this post could also have been titled: "Random Things You May Not Have Known"...

First of all -

Elephants in Georgia Are Red...
Elephants in Georgia Are Red

We had a chance this weekend to go to Zoo Atlanta, which was really pretty neat. We used to go to the zoo all the time when Schecky was just a pup, but it has probably been a few years since our last visit.

We were invited to go with friends to a "Behind the Scenes" Horticulture Walking Tour of the Zoo - which was very interesting, even though I know next to nothing about plants.
As we were looking at the elephant exhibit, I got amused because here in Georgia, the Red Clay Capital of the World*, our elephants are red. When I first started going to the zoo, it really bugged me. Now, whenever I have the opportunity to go to another city's zoo, I always think their elephants, the naturally grey kind, look wrong somehow....

Rally Cap
Rally Caps Don't Actually Help the Braves to Win...

We were also fortunate enough to score tickets to see the Braves v. the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday. Schecky announced his intention to root for the O's as we were driving to the game. (Seems he became attached to them during our Spring Break Trip.)
Scheck had the right idea, as the Braves lost (and deserved to) once again.

Oh well - it's a good thing that I like to go to the ball park to wander and people watch... It was a lovely evening for a ball game.

Home of the Braves

Schecky with Sno-Cone
Gratuitous Schecky Shot....

Just because. :)
You can see more pictures from the zoo and the Braves game at Flickr.

And the final random thing, which really is inexplicable....

When did I start loving "Jessie's Girl"?
Yup, that's right.... Rick Springfield - that "Jessie's Girl".

My word, I caught it on the radio this weekend, and was so excited. Now I'm listening to it non-stop... (Probably should not have admitted that one out loud, huh?)

*OK, I don't know for sure that we are. I just made that up....