Monday, January 31, 2011

this and that...and a question for you

So, we're going to try to be financially responsible this year. We're not horrible, but it's taken us years to become as responsible with money as we are (and we could definitely still use some work). This afternoon, I'm working on updating the budget and on balancing the books.

I've closed one of my credit card accounts, leaving me with only one! (Yes, this thought excites me.) I thought it would be difficult, that the company's representative would try to talk me into not closing the account, but that just didn't happen. Thanks be. I'm not sure what kind of negative effect closing the account will have on my credit, but I'm just not willing to keep an account open just to play the credit rating game. And, having the account open presents too much of a temptation, although it's a temptation we haven't fallen into in a while. The account was basically an annoying little bill (monthly fee for checking my credit...ha!) every month. A waste of money.

Now, if only I had a super-high-paying job that still allowed me the time to keep Pic out of school, I could pay off my biggest debt and all would be well in my financial world. I'm okay with the long term nature of that debt, though.

My goal for us is that we become those people who can actually set a goal and save the money to reach that goal. I'm mainly thinking in terms of travel here. We have never been those people and I've always been a bit disappointed in us because of it.


Now for something completely different: I masticated a burnt peanut today. The shell was pretty dark and the peanut itself basically looked like a black bean, but I figured, "What the heck. How bad could this be." Ugh, ack, blech! Disgusting! I'm just using my experiential wisdom here to benefit anyone who might be reading this. Prego*.


Enough of that. I'm pretty sure that our microwave broke yesterday. We barely use it anyway and we keep it unplugged when we're not using it, so it's not even good as a clock, but I'm not sure that I only want to have a rangetop and oven for heating food. So, what experience do you all have with toaster ovens? I've kind of wanted one for a while, but I really didn't want to own a toaster oven, a microwave and a toaster. I'm thinking that if we do get a toaster oven, we'll rid ourselves of our toaster that I can no longer clean all of the crumbs out of.

So, toaster oven? Thoughts, please.



* Yes, I know, it looks like I'm suddenly interjecting pasta sauces here, but "prego" is "you're welcome" in Italian. Seriously.

musical monday: 'it's early to rise, early in the sack'

I can't remember the exact story, but it goes something like I used to be kind of infatuated with John Denver or I was obsessed with this song. Probably both.

"John Denver - Thank God I'm A Country Boy (LYRICS + FULL SONG)"

This song so does not describe my life (y'know, aside from me not being a boy). I still like it, though. And, I'll take some fiddlin' and a jig anytime.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


We were in the car today and Pic was playing with Cardo's phone when it started ringing. We had just pulled into a parking lot. Instead of Pic passing the phone forward to the front seat, Pic answered the phone. We heard, "Hello. Good, how you? We're here. We just got here." [No, I didn't mistype there; Pic really does say a somewhat slurred version of "how are you" that comes out something like "how you."]

Cardo and I were giggling in the front seat. Cardo asked her why she answered the phone. Usually, the only time she'll answer a phone is if Cardo is calling home or my cell and I assure her that it's him. Today, though, she responded, "It was my turn to answer the phone! You always do it!"

I'm sitting in the den catching up on e-mails and skimming through my Blogger dashboard. Cardo's phone just rang and I heard Pic answer it (apparently she's not asleep) and wake Cardo up to tell him, "Papi! Someone would like to speak to you." (I'm not sure who's calling at one in the morning.)

We might have to be careful with this. Who knows who she'll have conversations with.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

today in five acts

* started reading Their Eyes Were Watching God

* fantastically productive work hour

* bus, bus, bus (as Pic slept, generating a cozy heat against me)

* board games with Pic (Dinosaur Train, Candy Land, a Go Fish/Candy Land hybrid that only makes sense to us...and perhaps not even then)

* L is for Lawless, dishes, laundry, Diane Rehm podcast with Amy Chua as guest [um, yes, all at's a busy act and then the curtain falls down]

Monday, January 24, 2011

musical monday: 'wherever i'm with you'

"Home - Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros Acoustic Cover (Jorge & Alexa Narvaez)"

Friday, January 21, 2011

'twas a very good day

Today, I slept in. (Ah, glory be!) Pic did, too. I've got a catch-as-catch-can attitude about sleep lately. Sleep and I have our problems, so we're trying to work out some kind of working relationship.

We stopped by 5th St. for a leisurely brunch. (Every meal with Pic seems leisurely. She's got her own slow food movement going on.) After that, we headed over to the library where Pic and I played a bit and she and her friends colored once they arrived. We had a recycling education presentation one of the other homeschoolers set up through Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful. The kids, although a bit on the eager side when it came to questions and comments*, really seemed to enjoy the presentation and the woman leading the discussion worked really well with them.

After we finished up there, a few of us headed over to a nearby park for a little while. We had to take off when we realized there is no bathroom at the park (argh!), but Cardo and I did get in a nice hour-long walk after availing ourselves of some other facilities. (Pic rode along in the wagon.)

It's entirely too early for us to be home, but here we are. If it weren't as cold and if night didn't roll around so early, we'd have walked longer (well, I would have). Perhaps tomorrow we'll party into the night...


* That's totally my issue. Every time Pic raised her hand and then blurted out her question or comment without waiting to be called on, I wanted to rush up to her and explain the whole hand-raising concept. (Am I a bit of a control freak? No. Not just a bit.)

what's on your reading list?

As you can (kind of) see, this morning Cardo was studying his car manual and Pic was catching up with Kinsey. I was relegated to the RN&R.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

'i make dozens of dollars'

"The Grad Student Rap"

Oh, so funny. And, perhaps a bit sad.

Monday, January 17, 2011

musical monday: 'all the trees are rare'

"B52's - Planet claire"

the hills are alive...

...with the sound of...apples. Okay, so that doesn't really work.

To kick off an incredibly busy October (can I even remember all of our activities?), we made a quick trip over to Apple Hill with some homeschooling friends. Unlike on a previous trip, we were actually able to pick apples this time -- a whole big fat bunch of them. Mmm.

Other than apple picking, we also had lunch and checked out some craft booths. At one booth, the kids made their own candles. I can't remember the name of the booth, but the women there were fabulous! They were so great with the kids, being very helpful and not condescending. Pic kind of pulled the wick out of her candle (oops), but somehow some is left for us to burn.

Pic's candle is the one on the left in the glass with the flowers.

The kids chose a glass for the container and then filled it with little wax granules. They could also choose a scent for their candles and Pic chose a banana nut bread aroma that kind of makes me ill, but it's her candle.

We went through a very short corn maze (unlike the crazy one we tried later in the month) and the kids rolled down a grassy knoll. As our visit was winding down, we stopped for chilled apple cider and apple doughnuts. Again: mmm.

I forgot to pick up any apple butter or honey. I get a little overwhelmed by the whole Apple Hill experience and we went on a weekend so every place was pretty crowded, so I tend to forget things. This year, I am hoping we'll be able to go on a weekday. We'll see.

On the way out of Apple Hill, it started to rain and there was an incredible rainbow arching across the sky. I was hanging out the window trying to get a good picture of it. It was difficult with the curving road and the evergreens, but I did manage to get about six billion pictures of the rainbow. I'll only share one.

I'm thinking we'll need to go berry picking this summer.


In the meantime, it's winter here, but you'd not know it. We went for a walk this morning and were shedding layers. I was tempted to shed my shirt, too. I was really longing for my sandals. It's strange the have temperatures in the sixties (and later in the seventies), but it was great to be able to get out for a walk.

Friday, January 14, 2011

from the mouth of the babe...

Cardo and I were talking about Volvos as we drove home tonight. I asked him one of my many random questions (how big are the gas tanks in Volvos?) and we had a short conversation about the cars.

As we were finishing our discussion, Pic piped up from the back seat, "It's vul-va, not vol-vo!"

I had to explain to her that we were talking about cars, not anatomy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

'when the music stops!'

Speaking of peppermint patties...

"Peppermint Patty - Musical Chairs"

Chuck and Patty's dance at the end there is fabulous!

We recently played a party game that was a cross between musical chairs and duck-duck-goose, which was kind of hilarious. (And, by "we" I mean Pic, another kid and a bunch of adults. I watched.)

foodstuffs, glorious foodstuffs

So, before I ran out of steam this past end-of-the-year, I decided to make a treat or two for distributing to various friends. Here was (most of) the line-up:

The most popular treat were the caramel crumb bars (which, here, is just one giant caramel crumb rectangle). I figured they'd be pretty easy to make, and they were. There are very few ingredients. (Okay, so I just looked at the recipe again and it seems there were more ingredients than I remember.) I wouldn't say they were quick to put together, as Judy of No Fear Entertaining says they are, but I am pretty incapable of making anything quickly.

There is one odd thing about these, though: several people, including Cardo, thought they had fruit in them. Huh.

Next up, fudge.

I haven't made fudge, I guess, since Poke and I made army-man fudge in high school. I had forgotten how much butter goes into fudge. Fudge is okay, I guess. I always think I'm going to like it more than I do. I was in a weird mood, though, and thought I should make some.

Finally (kind of):

Peppermint patties. That was surreal. I had often wondered what was in the middle of the peppermint patties I've bought on occasion. It turns out it's powdered sugar. The process was a bit messy, but not horrible. As you can see, I wasn't exactly going for a really professional look here. I was kind of in a rush so we could go visit a friend.

I'm not sure how I feel about peppermint patties now. If I do make these again, though, I'll try to get the dough much flatter. (How weird is it to call the inside of the patty "dough"?)

Cardo and I also made some maple rosemary popcorn together, but not only did I not get a picture of it, I didn't get a taste of it either, as we gave it all away. (I did manage to utterly and completely burn the crap out of the first batch of pecan pieces, though. Why couldn't I have ruined something less expensive?) We need to acquire some more rosemary and make this again, because I really want some. We've been out of town off and on and we've also been a bit sick around these parts, but we're starting to feel normal again. I think we need to get around to making this popcorn before the following weekend is out. And, perhaps, some caramel corn. (And, perhaps, some bigger pants.)


So, wow, I can't believe I actually went back and posted on a topic I meant to get to. Maybe this means I'll get around to posting about our October unschooling adventures? Hmm, we'll see.


I must have been somewhat delirious yesterday (from lack of sleep, no doubt), but I was inordinately amused listening to the bit on Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! about this:

"Usher ripped off OMG from The Simpsons?"

Oh, Paula Poundstone (whom I love) cracked me up with her comment that if one night you happen to jot down the the lyrics "Honey got a booty like Pow! Pow! Pow!" (I have no idea how to transcribe that), you have to wonder, "What the hell's the matter with me?"

And, now, I can't stop singing the snippets. Ugh...but at least it makes me giggle.


Oh, geez, and the part about the Jershey Shore star's book made me laugh, too. My reaction was the exact same as the caller's (both times she avers that she has no idea). Sometimes I feel so out of touch, but I really don't want to be in touch with Jersey Shore. I'm not saying it's bad -- I've never seen any part of it -- I'm just saying I have no interest in it. (The years have presented plenty of good, bad and in-between of television programming to keep me idly busy for the rest of my life, so I don't need to be caught up on current tv offerings.)


And, finally (I promise), "butt-dialing" is apparently a term people know. I get the concept, but I've never heard anyone say "butt-dialing" before. Huh.


Overall, funny stuff. I promise it's much funnier when you listen to it rather than reading me ramble on and on about it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I haven't posted about food since...when? The year aughty-aught? It certainly seems like it.

I've had a trying few days. I've been trying to get over myself and my doubts and gripes. I've been trying to deal with a certain five-year-old who has been especially clingy lately. Anyhow...

There was some food-making going on last month. I'm not quite ready yet to post about all of it (see above: I'm tired), but here are a couple of sneak peeks:

And, a close-up?

(The recipe called for all semi-sweet chocolate, but I couldn't possibly make it without some dark chocolate.)

What could I possibly have made with this ball of dough?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

when harry met kinsey

I've been so restless lately, dreaming about finishing up obligations that haven't really started so I can move on to more dreamy endeavors.

I am yearning for warmer days when I only need a windbreaker at most. I miss my sandals and being able to walk around without three layers of clothes and at least one pair of socks in the condo. I want to be able to spend seven hours outside without freezing into a human popsicle.

And, I can't stand when I do this: wish away the days. I'm not doing it on purpose. I'm trying to remind myself to savor each moment of each day, but I'm just sucking at that lately.

I have been doing a lot of reading, though. There are about a million billion zillion books I want to get to, but at times like these, I fall back on the familiar. I have made it through "F" in the Kinsey Millhone series and I think that's about as far as I'm going to get for now. I have a lot of required reading that I'm also doing and I need to pick that up even more. So, for the next five months or so, I'll be sticking to a required reading list. Ah, well.

Sometimes I'll be traipsing around here on the interweb and I'll see that others sometimes resolve to or wish to read more. There are moments when I'm so overwhelmed that I almost (almost) wish to read less. I have read about eight of my own books in the last month. This afternoon, Pic and I read for about an hour-and-a-half.

Among other books, we read I Miss You, Stinky Face written by Lisa McCourt and illustrated by Cyd Moore, which I love. I love the imagination on both the part of the child and on the part of the mamma. And, I love the illustrations. Lots of love here. I'd really like to know why "Stinky Face," though. Hmmm.

Pic is also very into Smelly Socks written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko. This is not one of my favorites, but I'm really trying to be very hands off when it comes to what Pic chooses to read. The pictures are nice and bright, but I'm just not that into the story. I do so very much love Munsch's The Paper Bag Princess, though. (And, I like Martchenko's illustrations there more.) I'm definitely not one of the many, many fans of Love You Forever. The mom creeping across the bedroom floor freaks me out more than I can convey. I glanced at a few of the amazon reviews (too many to even begin making a dent there) and some people were upset that others didn't like it, saying that we dissenters were reading the book too literally and that it's just a representation of unconditional love on the mother's part. However, it's presented as literal...there she is creeping across the floor. And, that image brings to mind The Yellow Wallpaper, which, I've admitted before, is the scariest thing I've ever read. (Do I have a nice set of my very own issues? Why, yes, I do. I'm glad the so many love Love You Forever, but I'll continue to steer clear of it.)

So, as I said, I'm attempting to just let Pic find her own when it comes to reading material, although I will let her know when I really don't like a book or character (hello, Dora the Explorer, I'm looking at you). I'll read those books once, if asked, and then move on.

Anyhow, Cardo's new thrift shop scavenger hunt entails finding all of the available Harry Potter movies on DVD. He only has the first two, I believe. In the meantime (in between time), he's renting the others from Netflix. Last night, we watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Actually, it was more like he watched it and I tried not to. I have a hard time not pointing out where the movies diverge from the books (just ask Cardo...I'm sure it's his favorite part of watching the movies with me). I think he's finally, finally convinced that he wants to hear the books in full. I have no idea how long the wait is for the libraries' copies of the Jim Dale audio versions and I'm thinking these are items we just might end up buying new (gasp!). Actually, we can probably find some decent used ones online somewhere.

(If you haven't read/viewed the Harry Potters and you plan to, you might want to skip below in case I give something away that you didn't want to know beforehand. In other words, there might be spoilers forthcoming.)

Last night, though, I just couldn't get over how subdued some of the parts of the movies were. The beginning of Order of the Phoenix, for example, with the dementor attack. I thought everything would be much more frantic. And, Mrs Figg was way more laid back than she ever is when I read the books. And, when Ron drinks the poison in Slughorn's office? I would have been freaking the crap out if Poke had just been poisoned. (It may be that I'm just a tad overly dramatic, no?)

We made it partway through Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince before Cardo declared he was heading off to bed. We might watch the rest this evening. Give me about five more months and I'll sit down and read the books again. (I thought I might do that this month, but I opted for Kinsey instead.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

okay, one more

* What is with the "man room"/"man cave" thing? I remember seeing the idea on that Tim Allen show forever ago, kind of a joke. However, watching interweb-provided episodes of House Hunters, I heard so many men proclaim, "This could be my man room." I kind of kept waiting for them to pound their chests and drag female partners out by their hair. (Okay, not really.) Seriously, though, the idea of having a "man room" leads to the idea that a home is no place for a man. The house is the female's domain, right (which also implies that there is a female, but I only heard the phrase used when there was a male-female couple involved)? The powers that be forbid that "the man of the house" have any real connection to the house. It seems that the idea that a man's house is his castle has been forgotten or tossed aside. Where do men belong now? Apparently in basements with mini-fridges full of beer. Other than that? At work? Earning the money to keep his little woman and her domestic haven?

I'm finished with this now. (I'm pretty sure.)


And, yes, I'm still up and, yes, thoughts like these plague me in the quiet hours.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

on real estate

Okay, so as I said, I've been watching a wee bit of House Hunters on this here interweb. A few reflections:

* I wonder if real estate agents love or hate all of these shows. People suddenly sound so learned (perhaps), coming into houses and drooling over the crown molding, stainless steel appliances, open floorplans, hardwood floors throughout, the separate tubs and showers in the master baths, ecc, ecc, ecc. Do the agents, enjoy hearing all of these keywords bandied about, or do they feel the way doctors must feel now that sites like WebMD exist?

* Am I the only one who doesn't really care about stainless steel appliances? I'm sure not. I do like the idea of many other seemingly in options: open floorplan, hard floors (not wood, but sustainable bamboo, if you please, although we'll have to do plenty of research...unless the home already comes with well-kept hardwood flooring), gas range. What else? These are the only keywords I keep hearing that I might be spouting off also.

* Why do the real estate agents on the show keep asking people, "So, are you ready to sign your life away?" They make the whole adventure sound like an ominous end of something, instead of a fantastic beginning.

* Why do the real estate agents insist on showing these people houses that are so much above their price ranges (scusi, I mean "price points")? I'm guessing it has something to do with commission.

* I can't get over watching people buying houses that are 2000-square-feet and hesitating because the houses just feel too small. I haven't seen any overly large families on the show.

* I saw one family moving from a house with four bedrooms and six full-baths and two half-baths. All I could think was, "Wow, everyone I know could have designated bathrooms." I'd hate, hate, hate to clean that place.

* I also can't get over watching people buy their first houses with budgets of several hundred thousands of dollars.

(Those last two points are my own deal. I just can't imagine having to keep a huge house and the people featured on this show, at least the episodes that I have access to, must make so much more money than I do.)

* And, the whole concept of first houses? I once told my dad that I only want to buy one house ever. He seemed skeptical that that would happen. I go back and forth on this. We can't afford to buy anything in our dream neighborhood, but I kind of loathe the idea of buying a house and then later selling it and having to buy a new one. I like the idea of buying only one home ever. We'd rather travel than buy and sell houses. So many of the real estate agents keep focusing on keeping the resale value in mind. One just mentioned something about keeping future buyers in mind, but why? When I buy a house, I want to keep our desires in mind. (Perhaps I'm just incredibly selfish.)

* I can't imagine buying a new house and all new furniture at the same time.

* Rooms without windows depress me, even if there are skylights in those rooms.

* Watching these shows, somehow, leads me to appreciate the condo we live in right now. There might be things I'd like to change, but I've really enjoyed living here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I thought I was just about over being sick, but, alas, no. I woke up this morning to a pounding head and a windpipe that felt like it was contemplating shutting up altogether. So, I shot off a somewhat coherent (I hope) text and went back to sleep until well after morning was over. Pic, who seems to be fully recovered, hibernated with me most of the day. I'm feeling a bit better now (I just knocked wood) and I hope to be back to myself domani. (Cardo, however, has sunk under the weather now, also.)

To help speed my recovery, I've relied on the following:

* reading

* preliminary research

* note-taking

* dreaming (both waking and sleeping)

* chocolate

* hot tea, hot tea, hot tea (repeat another several times)

* vitamin c

Monday, January 3, 2011


Pic and I have been under the weather (such a strange phrase*) for the past few days. Actually, she's only been sick since yesterday. We know things aren't going well when she actually tells us she's sick. Usually, she denies it vehemently.

She spent most of yesterday asleep, which was nice. She was very clingy, as if she thought I was about to head off on some six-month trip without her. I spent a lot of time laying on our bed while she slept. At one point, when she finally fell into a deep sleep, I snuck out to come to the office and watch episodes of House Hunters on hulu. (I've always been a bit obsessed with real estate stuff, so this age of shows like House Hunters and Flip That House is sometimes fabulous for me.) Less than an hour later, though, Pic emerged from my bedroom, wailing. She insisted that, even while she was cuddling with Cardo, I be very, very near. We all spent the night in the living room on the pull-out bed.

Today, Pic and I spent a good long time sleeping. She sounds so much better and I feel better also. Now, I'm looking forward to finishing up some reading, taking a nice hot shower, and finishing my kitchen clean-up.

Tomorrow will be dedicated to getting back to paycheck-earning (kind of; okay, not really) business. Ah.


* According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the phrase originated in the US in 1827, first recorded in The Austin Papers and, according to, might have something to do with sailing.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

dream a little dream

It's funny to me how our family daydreaming shifts, and how my own daydreaming shifts.

So many years ago, I dreamt of Pic reaching school age and us dropping her off in her little classroom. Cardo and I do most of our dreaming together and I remember autumn days, walking through little neighborhoods, imagining Pic coming home from school with art projects, tales of new friends and reports of new favorite books.

I imagined visiting Pic's classroom: a low-ceilinged room with a row of windows and painted cinderblock walls. The bulletin boards would be covered in maps and pictures and written projects. There would be bookshelves full of well-loved, dog-eared books near the reading rug. Tiny desks would be stuffed with crayons, papers and pencils. A big cabinet would sit off to the side, and it would be full of paint pots, glue, safety scissors and construction paper. Cubbies would hold lunch boxes and thermoses, gloves and hats.

When we contemplated neighborhoods we might want to one day move to, we wondered whether the schools were any good (although, honestly, we never thought too much about that).

These visions no longer reflect what we want, though. Less than six months ago, we decided we weren't sending Pic off to school. It's taken a bit for us to grow into this decision, but I'm more comfortable with and excited about the decision every day.

Most of our ideas about what we want in a home remain, without the niggling concern about where nice, close schools are.

Now, instead, we daydream about a library in our home -- a room full of natural light and built-in bookcases. I'd like a space on one wall to display Pic's work (and, perhaps, my own). We dream of a warm hearth around which we can spend cozy evenings, reading, playing board games or watching movies together. Plenty more little dreams fill this imaginary space.

It's both scary and exciting to think about the options we have in deciding where our lives are going. Scary because I (let myself) become overwhelmed when I have too many options, when there seems to be a gaping maw of space in front of me rather than a clearly defined path.

In the meantime, we'll continue to walk down familiar local paths while our thoughts soar.