Monday, December 31, 2012

December Pointless Lists

Today I was going to be good and stay home and clean house and do laundry, but then my Public called (hi Mom!) and Johanna and I somehow ended up in the Big City with my parents.* Also, I ate at McDonalds for the first time in a year, and I won't lie, that McDouble was pretty damn good.

It started snowing while we were there, even though no precipitation was supposed to be anywhere near us, so whatever, weathermen. We made it home just fine, if you don't count me blowing through that stop sign and almost plowing into a guy while going like 10 miles an hour in low gear.

I do NOT count that, just FYI.

Not the pad Thai picture I'd planned, but close enough.

Usually on December 31 we have fish and chips for dinner, but this year Eric got crazy and found a recipe for pad Thai, so we made that instead. Actually, mostly he made it until he got to a point where the instructions started stressing him out and then I sort of stepped in and saved the day and it was all quite delicious. This is hilarious and worth noting because usually it's Eric calming me down. Role reversal! Anyway, Johanna was dubious about the whole ordeal until she tried it. We had Abby at "pad Thai." It was pretty salty so now I'm itchy, which isn't my favorite outcome, but still, tasty.

Tonight Johanna wanted to go outside and light off some fireworks, but the rest of us vetoed her because we're cold and lazy, so I just downloaded a few free fireworks apps onto the ol' poser iPad and she contented herself with that. I tell you what, Internet, setting the bar low early on isn't the worst thing. I like to think we're teaching the girls about the real world, i.e. it's pretty lame out there.

P.S. We're tired so we're pretending we're in Chicago and in a minute we're going to countdown to the new year. Hey, it works. Abby's rolling her eyes, Jo is totally into it.

"I'm practicing for when I'm old and have 500 cats," Abby says, chasing Skilly for a kiss.

Pointless list time!

Movies Watched:
Take Me Home. I didn't mean to actually watch this. Eric started playing it and I was going to just keep reading and then suddenly I was watching it too and it was pretty great so I'm not even sorry. I'd watch it again, even, so there.

Books read:
PEOPLE!  I finished A Storm of Swords: A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin! I've been laboring through these books, and then finally like halfway through this thing I got really involved, but now I'm afraid to download the fourth one because it's getting spotty reviews, so I've decided to take another sabbatical from the series for a while. Good lord, though, this book was crazy. It was like one big blood bath. Arya's still kicking though, as is Jon, and they're my favorites anyway, so that's that.

Then I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It's been a while, and I remember now why I love this series so much. Not that I forgot, mind you, because Harry Potter forever.

Refrigerator update:
Hey, our new shelf finally came! It's kind of weird having three shelves again. But I like it.

Christmas tree update:
Um, it's still up. Usually I take our tree down December 26, but this year I kind of like our tree, plus it's drinking water so we don't have needles poking up everywhere, which aids in my general feelings of warmth for the thing. Tomorrow, though, it goes.

Minimalism update:
For Christmas this year my parents gave our family a three day trip. So sometime this summer we get to go to Wildlife Safari and the redwoods with my parents and brother Tim. Talk about the best idea ever. Yay experiences!

Things I learned:
Sometimes you have to just take everything out of a room to get your minimalist ass in gear. Norovirus sucks, but when your baby turns eight and wants a homemade cake, you bake one. There is nothing wrong with leading the parade when it's snowy outside and you refuse to leave second gear. Curling up with a good book by the wood stove is a good way to spend an evening.

Bye, 2012! Thanks for the memories.

*Thanks for the birthday clothes, Grammie and Papa! She's still sporting her over-the-knee socks from the women's section, and Eric agrees that perhaps that compass isn't something you'd want to rely on in the wilderness.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pretty good year

It's no secret I like these end of the month pointless list extravaganzas because I like closure. I like to see what happened in black and white so I can nod to myself and move on. It's kind of therapeutic.

So of course not everything this year was all sunshine and roses, but you know what? I think that's how you remember you're even alive.  If everything was great all the time, how would you know?

And anyway, it's fun to go through a year's worth of posts (I like the sound of my own voice, obviously) and remember.

Favorite memories of 2012:
Surprise Valentine dinner with the girls.
March was homemade cleaner month!
Getting thrown out of a bar.  With my children.
Meeting Maggie.
Family vacation to Silverwood.
I turned 40 and all I got was an awesome weekend in Sunriver.
Becoming a minimalist.
Volunteering at the care center.
Our little Family Date Night.

...And some other stuff I don't want to forget:
Eric took these pictures of the ice storm in January.
Phone calls with my public.
I got a new Kindle.
I got pulled over for speeding.
And paid $65 for someone to break into my car.
Refrigerator destruction.

Most read posts:
Mormon Chicken
I'm on the verge, I'm on the verge
How do we sleep while our beds are burning?
New settings = no one will still ever comment, but they COULD
DYI hair detangler spray
Weekend ramble
August Pointless Lists
Welcome to the game
I only dream of you, my beautiful

(I don't really get some of these, honestly. New settings post? Most hits all year. Whaaaat?)

And I find this kind of cool: Besides the US, I've had readers from Russia, Germany, France, the UK, Malaysia, South Korea, Canada, China and Indonesia. Of course, they might have just clicked on and clicked right off again once realizing there's nothing much going on over here, but still, it makes me happy. Anyway, where ever you are from, thank you for reading. Or not reading. Or just clicking the link.

Um, looking back on my posts I see that I had a Cracker Project going on there for a while. That was a failure. Having a chore hanging over my head like that just stressed me out. Well, live and learn. And that, my friends, is why I do not have any kind of cooking resolution on the horizon for 2013.

The end, I guess. I can't really think of anything else I want to say about this year, except that if next year is more of the same, that would be just fine with me.

Tori Amos, Pretty Good Year. Hold on to nothing as fast as you can. Still, pretty good year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ain't this life so sweet

Once upon a time, like this spring or summer or fall or whatever, I decided that I was going to clean out the clutter and sell things in the classifieds section of the newspaper because having a garage sale is more than I can personally handle and a bunch of crap was piling up in the garage.

So that's what I did.  And then I waited around a lot.  Or wished that no one had called after all.  But you know what?  At least it wasn't a garage sale.

No one really seemed to want my stuff, but that's okay because my stuff has a high self esteem, so no harm done.  Those who DID balked at my rock bottom prices, so I went like earth's core bottom prices (what's lower than rock?  Science is boring).  Because the point really wasn't about making money, it was about getting crap out of the basement.

But hey, I ended up with $95 somehow, which is kind of a miracle, all things considered.

Eric thought I should use it to buy something I wanted, since the bulk of the cash came from my kitchen items.  And for about a day I thought I really wanted an immersion blender. Which WOULD be pretty awesome, I won't lie, minimalist or not.  But then I looked at my spanking awesome cleaned out kitchen and figured that one more thing was not what I wanted after all.

I decided what I really wanted was a family date.  In December, when our touristy town is all lit up in Christmas lights.  As the money came in, we would discuss where we could afford to go for dinner.  At one point, I was thrilled to have enough in my jar for three slices of pizza.  No joke.  Then suddenly dinner was taken care of, and we started working on bookstore money for the girls*.

And then all that was left to do was pick a date.

We went on our little family date last Saturday, and you know what, Internet?  That was the best idea I've ever had.  Just tonight Johanna was talking about how much fun it was. And this will sound cheesy, but sometimes the words just are: It was my favorite part of that whole Christmas weekend.
I had envisioned going to dinner and then the bookstore, but a couple of things happened: We needed to go to Confession (because group penance services make us sin more, what with the impatience we feel) AND we wanted to go to Mass, too, because Saturday night is the Folk Group and Sunday is the choir and, frankly, we like the Folk Group about seven billion times better.  Plus also, no stores would be open after dinner anyway.  So this is what we did:

1. Go to the bookstore.
2. Go to the coffee shop for a quick snack.
3. Go to Confession.
4. Go to my parents' to chat.
5. Go to Mass.
6. Go to dinner.
7. Walk around town and take pictures like tourists.
8. Drive around town to look at other Christmas lights.
9. Come home happy.

Lucky that is only nine things because as I've said before, ten just messes with the alignment.  You think about these things when you're OCD.

We gave the girls their allotted monies and turned them loose in the bookstore.  Abby made her choice super fast, Johanna took f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  Who cares, we had time, which is good because the bookstore was crowded.  CROWDED.  But hey, we were going to confession anyway, so pressure off.

(Um, that was a joke.)

Coffee shop (for some hot spiced cider that was NOT spiced, I don't care what the sign said, but it was hot), this could potentially get very long so yadda yadda yadda, our dinner reservation was for 6:30 and we were actually early, which we did not see coming.  We got a great table, we ordered, we drew on the paper table cloth, our food was amazing, the girls were so dang happy, we took a crazy amount of pictures and ended up not having room for dessert.

Johanna and I split the fish and chips and she ended up eating more than me.  I'd have been hungry but Abby decided to hand over her quarter of a swiss chicken burger in order to help Eric with his pad thai.  So it all worked out is what I'm saying.

Even though it was freezing and Johanna decided to only bring a sweatshirt, we ended up walking around town and taking pictures of the lights.  It was one of those cold, silent kind of evenings, and again, cheese, but: So perfect.  It was just perfect.  Until Johanna fell in the crosswalk and was afraid that she'd gotten gasoline on her kneecap (apparently having pants on didn't make her feel better) and we had to talk her down a bit, but it was okay because we were headed to the car anyway.  And she was able to pull herself together, maybe because she wasn't that hurt.

The cool thing about my kids is that they actually made the evening that much more enjoyable.  I mean, I'm all for ditching them, but their enthusiasm (and gratitude--we got thanked about half a million times all evening for the books and dinner) was kind of catching.

It wasn't exactly like I'd imagined it, but being a mother, I'm pretty well versed with Plan B anyway, and now that we've had our family date, I can't imagine it going any other way.  I'm feeling kind of smug that our unused crap could make this kind of memory happen.  And I think maybe a new tradition has been born.

*I don't care how minimalist we get, books don't count as clutter.

David Gray, This Years Love.  Another kind of depressing song perfect for winter.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A whole lot of nothing

Last night I dreamt (dreamed?) that it was 1:30 p.m. and I was at my parents' house and I realized that I was not only late for work, I was fifteen minutes away from home, where my work clothes were located. Then I woke up and was all, whew! So that was exciting.

That's what happens when you've had an unusually long weekend, I guess. And it's been a good long weekend, so even better.

And the thing is, I know I should be writing and updating and whatever, but I'm just not in the mood. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe Friday.

In conclusion, here's what my awesome daughter made me for Christmas:

"Creative Swearing." This kid knows me so well!
She bound it in blue fabric. It's pretty sweet.

...And a weather update:

The end.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Out of chaos life is being found

December 21! I know what you're thinking: Is today the big Christmas party at Trisha's work? Yes it is, if by "Christmas party" you mean lunch and munchies in the conference room. I've been looking forward to today all week. Not that I can eat spinach dip or, you know, anything aside from air and water, but there will probably be carrot sticks, which is a nice change of pace.

Oh, right, and the world is ending. I'm sort of wondering about the validity of this theory, though, since it's already tomorrow in Australia and so far so good over there. I keep telling the girls if I had a nickel for every time I have personally lived through what was supposed to be the end of the world, I could buy myself a nice can of Pepsi. One of those tin can 8-ounce things. Clearly I should think about collecting more than a nickel.

Here's what I'm thankful for today: Wet roads. Tuesday and Wednesday school was two hours late because of the snow, and wow, we had some exciting adventures even at that. My little car does pretty well, but I slid a time or two and lost traction at a stop sign twice. Good times. It took me 33 minutes to get the girls to school yesterday, where usually it takes 12. But it was just mostly wet pavement this morning (and school was on time!) and thus it only took 20.

Taken from my car on the highway Wednesday. I was having some quality alone time,
listening to music and wondering when traffic would start up again. Turns out
semis were stopped in the middle of the road to chain up.

Oh man, and it was almost too much cuteness last night as Johanna got presents ready for her teachers. She bought, with her own money, gifts for two of her teachers (and one for her grandma) at the class store. They earn "money" for doing their work and then can spend it on actual merchandise in this cute little shop area the teachers have set up. It's a nightmare, really, to have all these little crappy things come home when I try so hard to keep junk out, but it was so stinking awesome watching Johanna wrap this cup for Mrs. B and this ornament for Mrs. R, and then throw in some gum and mints of her very own because she just loves giving stuff away. Mrs. R is the PE teacher and doesn't take candy, so Johanna wrapped an apple. 

"Now I know why they say giving is more fun than receiving!" she announced as she put one more mint in Mrs. B's package.

"It's my favorite part," I agreed, and then she looked at me like I was crazy, so I guess this means she still wants her Christmas presents after all.

(I tossed in some peach butter and fudge for her classroom teacher, too. Jo didn't think it was necessary, but I was like, yeah, it kind of is.)

Um, so that's the State of the Union. I'm looking forward to passing out my own jars of peach butter at work this afternoon, glad that the two week break begins tonight when the girls get home, and am trying to just enjoy every moment between now and Christmas. Because I like the small stuff the best.

Gungor, Beautiful Things. Winter is not my favorite, but songs like this make it bearable.

Monday, December 17, 2012

They say that things just cannot grow beneath the winter snow

Our tree!
When I was younger, I was really critical of lights this time of year. Tree lights, house lights, basically Christmas lights anywhere. If they weren't white and completely straight, it would drive me insane. If they were crooked AND blinking, wow, that was more than I could take.

Now that I'm older, I find myself just being grateful that people put up lights at all. It seems like a very optimistic act. We never put up lights--Eric has optimism to go around, but we tend to be lazy. Lazy trumps optimism every time--but we appreciate those who do.

All of that is just to say we got our Christmas tree on Sunday. It's a long, narrow little thing that came out of an actual tree lot and cost actual money. And here I thought we were amazing last year when we threw down $10 for an overgrown extravaganza at a you-pick place. We're getting soft in our old age.

Proof: Eric got a permit from the Forest Service so we could go tromp around out the wilderness and cut our own tree this year, but then it started snowing all crazy and we were like, the tree lot is fine!

It's pretty. I like it. And the branches more or less hold up our ornaments, which is most of the battle. Eric borrowed lights from his parents this year because apparently ours aren't working and we'd just come home from town and who wants to go to Walmart anyway? We set it by the window because that's as close to putting up lights as this family is ever going to get. You're welcome.

Also: Johanna's first slumber party on Friday night was a raging success. Not only did everyone make it through the night, no one cried! I was looking at those four little faces, laughing and having fun, and thanked God. I cannot even begin to imagine what parents are feeling in Newtown. All I know is that I tried really hard to be grateful for the noise and clutter and chaos. My heart aches, but so does everyone's.

P.S. I ended making her a cake after all. Well, she came home from school and wanted to, and how do you say no to that?

And: Abby had a basketball tournament all day on Saturday and wow, is her team terrible. Really nice girls, just not a lot of experience out there. Getting the ball up the court? Is a challenge of epic proportions. It's going to be a loooooong season. Life lessons! 

Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, Winter Song:

I still believe in summer daysThe seasons always changeAnd life will find a way

Thursday, December 13, 2012

If you get lost, you can always be found

Eight years ago today, at 1:15 p.m., Johanna Regina came into this world ready to go. We mistook her "old man scrunchy face" for seriousness. It didn't take long before we realized we had an active little ball of joy on our hands.

Because that is Johanna in a nutshell: Joyful.

Today, we have a kid who bounces out of bed each morning with a grin on her face. She shares her Halloween candy without being asked. Actually, she shares everything without being asked. She has three very special stuffies and one very thrashed blanket that she needs to sleep.

Johanna likes building with Legos but isn't one to follow the directions. She draws and draws and draws. Art supplies are gold. Her heart is gold. She notices EVERYTHING.

Her favorite color is green. She loves cheetahs.

Chocolate Advent calendars are a tradition, but opening each window by the correct date is not, and she likes to peek inside and see what the chocolates look like without any temptation to actually eat them. She swears she's allergic to Bittersweet Symphony.

I find things like this in the freezer:

Gingerbread cookies we made together last week. I had no idea
she'd done this until this morning.

When she makes her Christmas list, she asks for things like nunchucks, Pepsi and Monster High dolls. She still sets her fan to low every night. She loves the snow. She wears t-shirts and no socks in December.

She does not care about matching. And she hates dresses.

She listens to Beethoven and One Direction. She loves to help. She's busy but has an amazing attention span. And can sit still when necessary.

She wants to try dumplings and sushi.

She goes ballistic when she's forgotten something she needs at school (reading sheet, looking at you). Her heart breaks if we watch the news, so we don't. She has a lot of friends but likes to spend time by herself, too.

And she's my own personal miracle.

Happy birthday, baby girl. Love you.

Phil Phillips, Home. Johanna LOVES this song. Since we've listened to it like 5000 times now, I do not, but hey, it's not my birthday, either.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I would be happy just to hold the hands I love

12/12/12. Fun fact: Today would have been Johanna's birthday had 2004 not been a Leap Year. Actually today already is the (26th, I think) anniversary of my Grandpa M.'s passing. Freshman year of high school. He had lung cancer, but I think it was a brain tumor that got him. I could be remembering that wrong. But Christmas and Grandpa's passing are always linked in my mind. Anyway, wow, not how I planned to start this, but sometimes the words just come the way they want.

The nativity that my Grammie M. put up every year. My cousin
Seth is keeping the tradition alive. I totally stole this photo
from his Facebook page just now.  It seemed appropriate.
(The photo, not the stealing.)

So this weekend we all got the stomach flu. Eric is sure it was the Norovirus, and now that I've read up on that, I'm pretty sure it was, too. Johanna succumbed first, early Friday morning, and then it was boom, boom, boom Saturday night for the rest of us. Good times! Not really. This is the worst flu I've ever had (Eric isn't sure about that, but he doesn't have my memory. Wait, what?). Sure, puking sucks, but you know what sucks more? Aching from head to toe. Dehydration. Fuzzy teeth. A stressed stomach that doesn't really want food even three days later.

Things are still kind of wobbly. For breakfast this morning I'm having water and a small bowl of crackers. I'm not even kidding, coffee isn't even on my radar, that's the level of trauma we're talking here. Last night we had salad and bread and thought we were doing pretty well... until all of a sudden it felt like we were carrying around lead balls in our guts. What the heck, Norovirus? I think we've paid the price and then some already, give it a rest. Jerk.

Of course, Johanna, being Johanna, is up and at 'em. Her recovery time was like 30 seconds. One minute she's on the couch and the next she's up banging on the drum my father-in-law made for her in his woodshop. "Johanna probably has more energy sick than I do on a good day," lamented Abby this morning.

Hey, Johanna turns eight tomorrow! That's pretty exciting. She's going to have her very first sleepover Friday night. She's been planning this since she was approximately five, so she's got lots planned. This morning as I was dropping her off, I asked what else she'd like to do, besides decorate scarves with fabric paint, and she was all, go on the computer! Wow, I was sort of prepared to get all crafty for the cause, but you know what? That is AWESOME.

But I'm thinking... and this is hard to write, let alone think to myself... that I am going to go buy Johanna a cake this year. I'm weak, you guys. I'm not sure how I'll manage to bake a cake and clean the house and pretend to be crafty and get four little girls to bed, too. Johanna has already chosen pizza as her birthday dinner, so I don't even have to justify that part. That's the upside.

I think the last cake I bought was for Jo's baptism party when she was like seven weeks old. Huh. Well, as I told Abby this morning, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. (I'm not sure how Abby is making it through school, let alone basketball. Eric has a meeting tonight and a full day of work. I'm so thankful I'm just part time and can go take a nap next if I feel like it.)

So anyway, to recap: Today is 12/12/12. I plan to just write that as often as I can, and eat more crackers. Well, you have to do something to pass the time.

Sarah McLachlan, Song for a Winter's Night. Sad and pretty, just like December. I'm so happy that I have Eric's hands to hold. Cheese alert: That's all I want for Christmas. And I already have it! Lucky me.

Monday, December 10, 2012

What I did on Saturday

Step 1: Empty all shelves.  (Mostly.)

Step 2: Try not to panic.

Step 3: Coffee.

Step 4: Enjoy.

Friday, December 7, 2012

This is me pretending

BLOODY HELL.  In my attempt to copy and paste text, I somehow lost an entire page of writing. Wow, that was fun.  I guess the good news is that I was getting way too introspective and nothing positive can ever come out of that.  So it's probably for the best.

Don't make fun of my hardback, special Twilight editions.
Unless you WANT to get beat up.  Your call.

What I should have been writing about, instead of all that self-awareness crap, is that I've been attempting to clean out my retreat, for reals this time, and it's not going well. I'm taking the "pile by pile" approach.  Which doesn't work.  All I do is move things from one pile to the next.  I'd like to just empty out the whole room and only put back what I love, but where would I put the spill-over while I do that?  I have no idea.

What's really killing me is that I can't just do a blanket clean and toss like I have in all the other rooms I've divided and conquered.  Sure, it's easy to put a dish in the rummage bag, but what the hell am I supposed to do with all of these pictures?  I don't scrapbook anymore (I make books online and have them printed and shipped) so there's no point in keeping them, but a lot of them are shots of my babies, for crying out loud, and how strong do you people think I am anyway?

Jeez, and the books.  I've got so many books that I will never read again, and books that I love but would rather read on my Kindle because I am a poser.  I've got a boat load of scrapbooking supplies I feel I need to keep in case I'm ever inspired to start that up again. And a bunch of recordable music CDs because we apparently live in 1998.  (Don't get me started on our very old music collection on tape and CD.)

Skilly is unimpressed with my dithering.

It's a lot of stuff that I don't want, but I can't get rid of.  I don't know why.  I just can't.  I'm a minimalist failure.

Now, pass the coffee and chocolate.

Linkin Park, My December.  Man, I love this song.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Oh deer...

Black tail deer, possibly with a death wish.
Abby and I came THIS CLOSE to getting hit by a deer on our way home tonight. Thankfully, no one was in the other lane--that actually ran through my mind as I was swerving--when the deer bounded over the guard rail smack toward the passenger side of our car.

We came home keyed up from our near miss, but Eric was all nonchalant.  Apparently that area is "known" for deer.

Um, what?

Oh, but: Why did the deer cross the road?  We have no idea, but look both ways before you cross the street next time, bastard.

P.S. At first I had a picture of a white tailed deer up, but Eric pointed out that we have black tail deer here in the Pac NW, so I changed it for the sake of truthful representation. You're welcome.

Monday, December 3, 2012

In the dark of this midwinter the moon slipped from night


Yesterday Eric and I ditched the children and headed to the Sort of Big City to the East to do a little Christmas shopping.  I've mentioned a couple of times that my goal for December is to just eat cookies all month, but sometimes you actually have to stir yourself and get things crossed off the list.

Oh, sure, we're still budding minimalists.  It's just that we like giving presents.

I don't know what else to say about that, people.  I keep reading about giving experiences rather than stuff.  And I really like that idea.  Yet most of what we're buying is stuff.  Well,  practical stuff, but it's still stuff.  So I'm probably breaking the rules.  Actually maybe I'm not, because the people we're buying for are not minimalists.

Looking at you, children.  They often remind me of their consumer status.  They like experiences... but they also really like art supplies.  And I really like making them happy.

Anyway, going from shop to shop with my one true love yesterday was fun.  We're not one for crowds (and wow, were there crowds), but we weren't in a hurry, so whatever.  You park that cart mid-aisle, we don't care.  AND THEN.  My parents ended up being in town, too, so we hit some shops together.  And then they took us to lunch.  Fish and chips. My favorite (thanks again, Public!).

So it was a nice day.  And now all I have left on my list is writing our annual holiday form letter and ordering prints.  Oh, and eating cookies.  And maybe taking down my Halloween quilt and replacing it with something more winter-inspired.  Who am I kidding, the house is still decked out in black and orange.  Panic attack.  Need more coffee.

P.S. This post took me like three hours to write.  I'm not even kidding.

Tori Amos, Snow Angel.  Tori always knows what to say.

Friday, November 30, 2012

November Pointless Lists

November 30 is a good day to be born.  That's because it's Eric's birthday, and he's my most very favorite person in the whole wide world.  Tonight we're going to party like it's 1970, if they ate a lot of tacos and oatmeal cake and played Mario Kart on the wii.

I've been kind of overwhelmed this month.  Too much going on, although that's a good thing, right?  Who wants to spend all their time just staring at the walls?  I imagine next month will be even more awesome, what with Johanna's birthday and Christmas and all.  P.S. I am seriously thinking about putting "Happy Holidays" on my cards this year because there seems to be a war on that.  Seriously, why is it so wrong to acknowledge that there are different religious celebrations in December?  Just calm down people, jeez.

Also: I'm attempting to blog while making Eric's aforementioned oatmeal cake, which is a recipe for disaster, except it appears to be already a disaster because the thing is looking ugly and very undone even though it's been in the oven for almost an hour.  But that, my friends, is why God gave us frosting.

Special Section:
Take Your Cake From Blah to Rah!

Old timey frosting under the broiler.

Close enough.

Pointless list time!

Movies watched:
Whatever.  Although Abby went to see Breaking Dawn II with her friend Lily, and Eric and Abby went to Red Dawn.  That was back-to-back movie going for Abby, which is worth mentioning just because we never go to one movie a month, let alone two.

I could have seen Breaking Dawn, but I decided I'd rather walk around town and get some shopping done.  So I did.  I'm dangerously close to being done with the whole Christmas ordeal* which is good because all I want to do in December is eat cookies.

Books read:
I'm reading A Storm of Swords and am like 40% finished!  That's what I have to show for a month of reading.  People are dying off like crazy in this one.  Don't get attached to anyone is all I'm saying.

Refrigerator update:
Our new shelf came within a week!  Except it was the wrong shelf, and the one we really wanted is on back order, so that's been exciting.  Well, you just stack stuff up is all.  I'm also finding it's easier to see what I've got in there.  Not that I won't be thrilled when the shelf finally does come.  Two shelves is for the birds, minimalist or not.

Things I learned:
Old people are kind of awesome, blue sky (even partially) after a week of fog and rain is a welcome relief, my brown cords are getting a little tight so I'm rethinking my couch and sugar diet except I'm partial to sugar so it's really hard, and it's good to pay attention when you're putting more vodka in your homemade vanilla or you could end up with a whole bunch of alcohol on your counter and make your house smell like a bar.

*It's a very minimalist Christmas!  Well, actually, it's always a minimalist Christmas because Eric and I set the bar extremely low early on due to our natural laziness awesomeness, so the girls don't have the highest of expectations anyway (they're asking for things like art supplies).  Um, and we don't really exchange with many other people, and most of what we do give comes in the form of peach butter and pickles I canned in the summer, so wow, I am a total poser for even starting this paragraph.  Never mind.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Untitled. Because I forgot

I would like some props right now because instead of sitting by the fire reading the third Game of Thrones book (whatever it's called, I've completely lost track, but the good news is that after a month of reading, I'm 29% through the thing!), I'm over here writing and pretty much freezing my tail off, even though I'm wrapped in my birthday Christmas quilt* from last year.  The things I do for you people, honestly.

Lest you think I'm a wimp, consider this: It's like 35-degrees outside.  I swear I saw some very tiny flakes today going into work.  Except that was maybe frozen fog, I don't know, but it's cold, okay?

So today was supposed to be my volunteer day at the care center, except when I got there I learned that the activity director was out sick.  I had the choice of striking out on my own and visiting my usual suspects, but since I've only seen them a couple of times and only in a group setting, I decided to just go to Walmart. This makes me lamer than lame, yes, I realize that, but on the upside I was able to procure toilet paper and all natural milk chocolate chips.

Hey, by the way, the care center gig is going well, despite this little hiccup today.  Geraldine went so far last time as to say it was nice of "the kid" (that's me!) to come back again. Also: I was sitting next to Geraldine the entire hour, looking at a magazine, and then suddenly she was gone.  The activity director went searching for her and found her out in the hallway, headed back to her room.  She'd had enough.  I had no idea Geraldine could move that fast.  It was actually pretty awesome.

(Skilly is under the desk and batting at my hands on the keyboard.  It's treacherous in here.)

My furry son this summer.

P.S. I am wondering if maybe I can break up with Walmart in the coming year.  Mostly what I buy there is the aforementioned TP and cat food and cleaning supplies, except I make my own cleaning supplies now and you can pretty much get vinegar and baking soda anywhere. Every time I go into Walmart I feel dirty and faintly smacking of The Man.  I would say that Walmart is what is wrong with America but I don't want to get sued.  If I can successfully break up with Safeway, why not Walmart?

I would also like to break up with Netflix.  We're thinking about Amazon Prime.  Thoughts and/or feelings, anyone?  ...Anyone?  Oh, never mind.

Fact: Abby keeps calling everyone Shanaynay** and it's driving me insane.

Another fact: Last night Johanna was reading this story about a kid and his parents who make a castle out of some cardboard boxes, and she was wondering what turrets and buttresses were.  I'm a modern mother, right, so I grab my iPad and do a quick Google search.  Turns out she didn't care.  She just wanted to call her sister a buttress.

So that was relaxing.

Um, the end.  Sometimes there's only so much ramble even I can stand.

*The quilt photo is near the end of that post.  I was apparently feeling wordy that day.

**No idea how to spell that, and spell check isn't any help.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

We ate cereal

I'm having problems writing this morning.  What I had hoped would be a funny assessment of Black Friday / whatever color is assigned to Thursday actually just sounds kind of shrill.  Not really the look I'm going for, so I'm starting over.  Well, words are expendable, you see.  That can be a hard lesson to learn, but it's the cold hard truth.

So here's the deal.  I'd rather just write about what makes me happy instead of focusing on something that drives me nuts.  The commercialism of Christmas isn't going away, and nothing I can say will change that.  I can only control myself.  I like to think of that as a sanity saver instead of a cop-out.

Well, anyway.

We had a really lovely Thanksgiving.  Only seven guests, but they were all people we love, so it was fun and quite perfect, really.  We ate a delicious meal together, took a two-mile walk around the neighborhood, watched a lot of football and just chatted.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Johanna decided we were going to "wrap" the dining room table in clean newsprint this year so everyone could draw during dinner.  She filled two half-pint jars with crayons and led the charge.  That was a surprising hit.  Mostly people doodled while watching football and chatting since, you know, we were sort of busy when we were eating.  I forgot to take pictures during, but here's some of the after:

Happy Thanksgiving indeed.

Another Bad Creation, Iesha.  Um, when my cousin Seth was eight, this was his favorite song.  I think.  That's how I remember it, anyway.  I introduced this song to Johanna recently--since she listens to it like 85 times a day I'm beginning to question my decision a little--and we played it for Seth after dinner.  Ah, the early '90s were really something.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Eve

Life is hilarious.

I got a beautiful 22 pound turkey on Saturday morning for Thanksgiving.  So what if 11 people are coming for dinner?  Thanksgiving is about leftovers that last for days.  I feel I need to mention that in case anyone here isn't up on the finer points of the American Thanksgiving holiday.  Which is basically all about gluttony, now that I think about it, but it's not commercialized gluttony, which makes it way better than Christmas.*  It's about stuffing yourself with your family at your side and being grateful for your blessings.  That's why it's so awesome.

Also: Turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce?  THE BEST.

Anyway, last night I decided to take the turkey out of the refrigerator for a few hours, just to make sure that the inside wasn't all icy and crusty and cold for Thursday morning.  Having my hand all up inside a half-frozen turkey is not my favorite way to start the day.

The plan was genius.  Until I left the thing on the counter all night.

It was still cool when we remembered at 6 a.m., but not cold.  Since food poisoning isn't exactly the look I'm going for when I feed people, we tossed it in the garbage (feel sick about that, but what do you do?) and I was at the grocery store by 7.  Incidentally, that's a really good time to shop.  I had the store to myself.

So Plan B it is.  I found a kind of partially thawed (read: Not) 12-pound turkey in the bin. Perhaps I should have just gone for the defrosted turkey breasts, but damn it, people, I want bones for broth.  We've got traditions to uphold, for crying out loud.

Well, anyway.  That's been all 3 hours of my morning so far.  Now I'm off to make cranberry sauce, roast the sweet potatoes and clean the bathroom.  Oh, and eat the apple fritter I bought while I was at the store.  I mean, come on!  There has to be some bright point.

*I'm a little confused about the Black Friday sales that are actually now Black Thursday sales. Um, calm down, people.  This needs to stop.  BOYCOTT!  Or, you know, just stay home and eat your turkey.  Good lord, no one needs anything that badly.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Minimalism, week whatever this is

Huh, I guess it's been a while since I've mentioned anything on the minimalism front.  That's mainly because there hasn't been anything new to mention.  Still decluttering*, still fighting the girls' natural tendency to bring crap home, still finding the balance between too little and too much.  Yadda, yadda, yadda, let's just skip to the part where the hard work is done and we're just pure awesome, shall we?

If only it were that easy.

Anyway, though, I read an interesting article recently about how minimalism is essentially just lifestyle porn.   Meaning it's a fun place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there. (Now that I've linked it up I notice the article is over a year and a half old.  So much for being cutting edge of research.)

It got me thinking: What the hell am I doing?  It's a valid question (even though I shrugged my shoulders as I typed that it's a valid question).

Do you see a list coming?  Oh, good.

1. Creating peace.
2."Attempting to," I mean.

Actually, I guess I don't need a list.  That's what I'm doing in a nutshell.  The more I shed, the happier I feel, whether it's paper clutter or unfinished projects or items we do not use.  It brings me peace.

But are we truly minimalists?  We are never going to live in a clean white box, I know this, and I don't actually want a clean white box anyway.  We are never going to have just four bowls in the kitchen or three outfits apiece or no furniture.  That may mean automatic fail, I have no idea.  Also, I'm finding consumerism is a train you cannot just hop off of.  We need food (duh) and a certain amount of clothing (Abby's gunning for new basketball shoes) and the stuff that makes life worth living, like books** and coffee and hair dye (and gum if you're Johanna).  We go places in our car and have a pantry that's overflowing and hold onto certain things that we may or may not ever use (looking at you, tart pan). We've got kids.

So I don't know the answer to that.

Labeling myself a minimalist helps me focus, though.  I tend to be a big picture kind of girl, and details stress me out.  Being able to say "I am a minimalist" sorts out of some of the confusion in my brain and helps me make better choices with my time and energy and resources. Sometimes that's dead easy.  Sometimes it is really, really hard.  Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes it seems kind of stupid, and sometimes pure genius.

Words suck sometimes.  Labels, too.

So that's the State of the Union, in case you were curious: Striving for more than lifestyle porn, defining what minimalism looks like for our family, wondering if this is really minimalism or more like mindful consumerism or even just attempting not to be so overwhelmed.

Does it matter?  When I open my cabinets and see empty space, "minimalism" isn't even remotely what I'm thinking about.  I'm just happy.  Maybe I'll just concentrate on that.

*My newest decluttering project is my retreat, which was supposed to be a cute little reading area but is really just a small space off the master bedroom that we throw all our crap into. Going over one piece at a time, making some hard decisions, not sure what to do about all the photos I've unearthed.  Gah. Makes me long for the glory days when I was cleaning out the kitchen.

** eBooks for me, that's minimalist, right?  Oh, wait, I forgot I'm trying to get past the label.  Man, this is hard...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lifetimes are catching up with me

After what seemed like months of waiting (and actually was months of waiting, now that I think about it), I'm finally volunteering regularly at the local care center (if twice in two weeks counts, which I think totally does).

And you know what?  I really like it.  I wish I could tell my 11-year-old self.

Last Thursday I went in to meet a couple of ladies who don't get a lot of visitors. It was an interview, I guess, to see if they liked me.  One was too busy watching a game show and the other was too busy falling asleep in her wheelchair to notice I was there.  It was sort of awesome, and I felt bad that the activities director kept apologizing for their behavior.

But since I was there, the activities director (whose name I forget.  Ironically they're doing memory tests at the care center this week.  Maybe I should look into that) took me around to a few other rooms to introduce me to the residents and give me a feel for the building.

I ended up in the rehab wing with these two guys, one maybe in his 60s, the other 83.  Mr. 83 told me right off that he was trying to "convert the heathen," aka Mr. 60s, but he'd "already found the Lord."  So we all know where this is going, right?

Wrong.  He rambled on and on about how he grew pot for ten years in Colorado and how he'd told his wife when the good Lord wanted him out of the business, He'd put him out of the business, and lo and behold, He did, but wow, that was a good decade with a to be unnamed here professional basketball team as his biggest customer.  And then calling some judge an off-colored, homophobic name in court and the trouble that got him into.  And how I need to dress sexier if I'm going to be volunteering here.

Um, wow.  That was a lot to take in.  I was not impressed with most of what he was saying, but was torn on whether or not I should tell him to shut up* because he's 83, for crap's sake, and his wife died on Leap Year and he doesn't care if he wakes up tomorrow or not. Although does that give you a free pass to say whatever you want,** no matter how offensive?

I'm a wimp.

Moving right along.

After meeting the peeps last week, the activities director and I decided that I'd come back on Tuesday and have a little "magazine party," as she called it, with a group of residents in the activity room.  She thought maybe that would be a better scene for everyone involved, plus apparently Tuesdays are field trip days but not everyone is in a position to go, you know?  So this would be something different for those left behind.

And that worked out amazingly well.  She wheeled in Geraldine, my TV watcher from last week, and Francis, who is practically nonverbal.  Westine (is that really a name?) wheeled herself in and was a kick.  Then later another lady wheeled in her husband just because she saw we were in there, and Francis' daughter came, so it was QUITE the group. Magazines, cocoa, trying to figure out what the hell*** tripe is (cow stomach.  Gross). Some were just there for the ambiance, others were there to chat.  Maybe a couple were there for the cocoa.

Anyway, afterwards the activities director was like, do you want to call me when you have another free day? and I was all, um, how about just next Tuesday at the same time? and she was very pro-that plan.

Next week we might scrapbook or something.  It's hard to say.

I thought that I wanted just one person, but this group thing seems to be the way to go. Who'd have thought that hanging out in a care center for an hour and a half would be so entertaining?

I guess I did make the right choice after all.

P.S. This story is for my public: Remember Blaine?  He wheeled himself in at one point, and I was trying not to make eye contact because he used to corner me at the store to talk about Dad, aka "Coach," and I was not really in the mood because he is still kind of icky. He abruptly left, so maybe he was thinking he didn't want to go down that road either, or maybe I look significantly different from my teens and 20s that he didn't recognize me. Close call!

*I would never actually tell an old person to shut up, but I could have said, Mr. 83, would Jesus use those words?  Honestly, I feel badly for not speaking up, but I know deep down that I still wouldn't.  Like I said, wimpy.  Confrontations are not my strong point.

**I was going to write "talk crazy shit," but I'm trying not to swear.


Pearl Jam, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town. Lyrically, this is my favorite PJ song of all, just FYI. My children do not get the whole grunge thing, which is disappointing. You can lead your kids towards good music, but you can't make them listen unless they're stuck in the car with you and you won't let them touch your iPod.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mormon Chicken*

Cranky Steve is a Mormon. That doesn't matter in real life, but I bring it up because it's sort of an important detail as far as this post goes.


The other day when I came into the office, Stacey was all like, Steve, are you going to give Trisha your spiel? and I was all like, whoa, am I about to be converted? because sometimes Steve likes to invite me to his worship services or whatever, but actually all that happened was that Steve's church was ordering 40-pound boxes of chicken and he wanted to know if I was interested, and then Stacey wanted to know if I'd like to share a box with her.

That's a run on sentence, yes, I know this, but I don't care. I actually shrugged my shoulders when I wrote that last bit.

Now THAT is a box of chicken.

I have food issues because I am mentally unstable (but that's what the meds are for, so no worries) when it comes to what I put in my mouth. Well, when you feel crappy most of the time,** you tend to... what?... control that aspect of your life as much as you possibly can. So I did venture to ask where exactly this chicken was from, and since I got a reasonable answer (I guess. It all seems kind of shady if you ask me), I said sure, bring on the chicken.

Incidentally, when I first told Eric about it, he thought I'd bought 20 chickens instead of 20 pounds of chicken. That was a fun conversation. That was also when we came up with the whole Mormon Chicken thing, which is pretty damn clever. (It's not bragging if it's true.)

So basically I ended up paying about $29 for 20 pounds of chicken breasts, which seems like a hell of a deal. Just please God, let this chicken not be from some industrial feed lot where a thousand chickens share a space equivalent to a small bathroom.

The boxes arrived on Thursday. Steve had an entire trunk loaded down with chicken. He'd given the spiel to half the office, it seemed, and we practically shut down as everyone tried to figure out how to split their boxes. Stacey and I decided I'd take it home and divide it up and then bring her share to work the next day, except then Steve opened up a box and discovered they were in bags (unsealed with liquid squirting out everywhere, whatever, the main bag was sealed so it's probably all totally legit), so then Stacey and I divided ours in the parking lot. That was totally disgusting and also kind of awesome.


Fast forward to that evening, and tons of chicken on the counter. I felt a little bad about the plastic wrap, but I'm not sure how else to get it into the freezer. Sometimes it's hard being environmentally conscience.

So then Abby was like, why does Steve's church get all this chicken? and we explained the two year rule (is there a two year rule or did I just make that up?), which she thought was a little excessive (as Catholics I guess we don't worry about that sort of thing, and I'm glad because when Steve talks about his cans of freeze dried potatoes, I have to wonder how that is a good idea on any level, the freeze dried potatoes, I mean), but then Eric pointed out that all that flooding and bad weather on the east coast? The Mormons are totally set.

Huh. This wasn't really much of a story after all.

*I am NOT calling Mormons chickens.  Had the chicken been, say, from the Presbyterians, we'd have dubbed it the Presbyterian Chicken. Or the Catholic Chicken. Or the Methodist Chicken. You get the picture.  I mean no disrespect.

**Actually I've felt so good lately that I've gained at least ten pounds. Um... that was unexpected, but I cannot seem to lose any of it on my couch and sugar diet, so whatevs.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Well, that was unexpected

I needed to clean out the fridge anyway,  I guess.

Thursday morning, making lunches, nowhere near the fridge, BIG BOOM that sounded like the ice maker exploded, open the door and see this. Close the door and hope it's all just a misunderstanding. Open the door and realize not so much. Close the door and wait for Eric.

"I guess I shouldn't have drilled it yesterday," he says thoughtfully as he examines the destruction.

Lesson learned, people. Tempered glass is NOT to be messed with. Good news: He's ordered a new shelf, which takes care of the problem he was trying to rectify with the drill (i.e. the meat drawer or whatever it's called came off and he was trying to fix it).

The end.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I think I'm done nursing the patience

So awhile back I alluded to the fact that I was in the process of "adopting a grandparent" at our local care center. I haven't said anything else about it because I wanted to wait until I had something to report. And actually I guess I still sort of don't. Not that THAT is any different than any other aspect of my life, now that I think about it.

Short story long: I lost my Grandma M. four years ago, and I can still remember that last time we visited before her stroke, when she sat on her couch and held my hand and told me over and over how she had hoped I'd come, and there I was. The next time I saw her, she was basically unresponsive in a hospital bed.

Anyway, I've been thinking about that, and about visiting someone. Originally I thought I'd volunteer in one of the assisted living centers, but after writing an article about the care center for the paper, I decided to take that route. Just because... I don't know. Lower income, maybe needier people. Maybe someone's grandma could really use a visitor.

Ironically, my sixth grade elementary school class used to visit this place during the school year, and I hated it: The smell, the old people who would catch you and not let you go, the dark halls and aura of sadness. Hate is too weak a word. I despised that place with the whole of my being and would come up with any excuse not to have to go.

Life is hilarious.

But anyway, the process has been progressing at a snail's pace. Yadda yadda yadda, I won't bore you with my frustration or doubts the past six weeks. Let's just say that there's a lack of communication and/or commitment that grates on my nerves, and I have wondered a thousand times if I'm doing the right thing by volunteering here. When the activities director missed the appointment she set up on Monday, I was really thinking the time had come to just bow out.

I rehearsed my words carefully before we finally met up. But before I found my nerve*, she was all, I have two women in mind who don't have a lot of family and would feel so special to have someone come just for them, and I was like, oh, FINE. So I held my tongue is what I'm saying. And I have another appointment later in the week to meet these ladies and see if they like me, I guess.

We shall see.

*Confrontation is not my strong point.

Foo Fighters, Learn to Fly. Huh, looking at the lyrics, this song is a little angry. Ah, well. Learning to fly is hard. "Fly along with me, I can't quite make it alone."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I'm on the verge, I'm on the verge

Sunlight filtering through fog is beautiful. This is not how I meant to start this post at all, but I just got up to refill my Ron Swanson coffee mug and happened to look outside. Fall is a stunning season.

Eric has been elk hunting--he comes home today!--and even though it's only been like four days, it's been four loooooong days. The good news is that we had so many distractions I've hardly had time to miss him.

Distraction #1: Lunch with my high school friend Anita on Friday, who is freshly back in town. I had an IBS attack--stress induced, I'm positive, yes, that happens--so that was exciting, but thanks to modern medicine and the fact that I am a boss, I made it not only through lunch, but through my four hour work day as well. Hey, it was the day Eric left, and I was so good this year about him going, you would totally not even believe it. Lesson learned: Don't hold in your negative emotions. (I'm sure Eric will LOVE that.)

Distraction #2: My Aunt Ann and Uncle John came on Saturday to bring us some flooring samples from their shop, and their car broke down once they'd reach town. That's the lucky part, that they weren't stuck on the side of the highway with the creepers (hey, I typeset the sheriff and police logs, I know what's going on out there, people). I got to ferry them around a bit, which rocked, and also helped my aunt figure out her own Vanilla Project. I only wish they could have stayed longer. Or maybe their car would have behaved so most of their time wasn't used up in repair shops.

Distraction #3: Sunday my public and I (hi, Mom!) worked TEN STRAIGHT HOURS at the church's annual holiday bazaar. Well, Mom did. I got out of there a time or two on various errands, aka "Sanity Savers." Mom runs the baked goods booth and I am the sidekick. All the good that I did was probably overshadowed by my rude observations about some of the altar society members who could not keep out of everyone else's business (drove me crazy, made Mom laugh), so bummer there, but anyway, we managed to sell quite a bit, even if no one but my own father bought the fudge I had painstakingly made in individual cups for optimal cuteness, but whatever, that did not hurt my feelings AT ALL and now I have fudge in my freezer for Christmas presents, so win-win, I guess.

Cellophane wrappers... and biodegradable muffin cups
to make myself feel better.
Bread is a hit. Candy is not. Weird.

I'm not even sure that paragraph makes any sense, but I'm not in the mood for a rewrite. Let's just say it was a heck of a day, but on the upside, I scored some homemade, all natural caramels that rock my world. And isn't THAT what this was all about?

Distraction #4: The girls didn't have school Monday--report card day or something--so I spent the morning trying not to tear my hair out and the afternoon trying to cross off as many items from my work list as possible. I failed on both accounts, but an attempt was clearly made. And then Eric called to say he was coming home early, so yay! I didn't pay attention after that.

So now you know why I haven't had time to blog this past week. Um, I guess.

The end.

Jack's Mannequin, I'm Ready. I so love this song. My favorite part: All of it. But especially this:

I wake up to find it's another
Four aspirin morning, and I dive in.
I put on the same clothes I wore yesterday.
When did society decide that we had to change
And wash a tee shirt after every individual use?
If it's not dirty, I'm gonna wear it.
I take the stairs to the car
And there's fog on the windows.
I need caffeine in my blood stream,
I take caffeine in the blood stream.
I grip the wheel and all at once I realize:
My life has become a boring pop song
And everyone's singing along.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Pointless Lists

Technically I'm finishing this up November 1, but the beauty of scheduling posts is that you can go back in time!  How's that for Halloween magic?

Halloween dawned dark and darker.  Johanna was pretty sure it was NOT morning (I was questioning the clock myself), but we managed to get everyone to school.  I helped out in Johanna's room most of the morning, working the cookie decorating station.  Pretty awesome station to get to run, all things considered.  The kids were a little too worried about making a mess, and when they'd drop frosting or whatever, I practically had to talk them down from the ledge.  You're frosting cookies!  Messes are bound to happen.

"Look, I'm 40 and I have frosting on my pants, so don't worry about it," I said at one point.  This got me a lot of open months, plus a "You're older than my dad!" in hushed reverence.  Because I'm THAT OLD.

It bothered most of them that I wasn't dressed up.  I told them I was--I was being myself from last year.  (I'm used to blank stares, so whatever.)  I forgot I was wearing Halloween socks (because I'm THAT OLD).  That might have saved me a lot of explaining.

P.S. If you think three hours of frosting cookies with second graders is enough, then you'd be correct.

P.P.S. Johanna's ninja costume looked more like a cat burglar.  "Everyone kept asking what I was," she thoughtfully explained today.  I told her she was so stealth as a ninja, that's why.  Honestly, I don't think she cared either way.  Abby borrowed a cape from the drama department and rocked it as a vampire.  Seriously.  She even won a prize that she had to collect at lunchtime.

Abby quote of the day: "I'll be the only eighth grader dressed up, probably, but who cares? I'm going to wear this cape like a boss."

Pointless list time!

Movies watched:
Um, right.  We're seriously thinking of getting rid of our Netflix account.  There's nothing "On Demand" unless you're seven and like the Disney channel.  Why not just hit RedBox?

Books read:
Simplicity: Essays by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus.  I follow their blog about minimalism, which is how I learned about the book.  For $5 I figured it would be worth it, even if you can find all but two of the essays on their blog already for free.  (I just found them maybe two months ago, so it's not like I've managed to read everything already anyway.)  I enjoyed the book--they have a very clear, straightforward way of writing and they have great ideas and questions to get you started on a simpler path.  A lot of the ideas and questions tend to repeat themselves... and I'm not really sure what to say about that, except I get it already, but maybe repetition is a good way to get things rattling around in your skull, so who am I to judge?  Recommend--even if all you want to do is hop on over to the website and check out what they have to say there.  They've really helped me on my path to minimalism, and I am grateful.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt.  This book is so weird and awesome.  I've been wanting to read it forever, and this month Amazon had it as part of their 100 Books Under $3.99 promotion, so I grabbed the thing for $2.99.  SCORE.  Because it would have been worth it at regular price.  The story is told by Eli Sister, who is a very serious, thoughtful kind of murderer in the 1850s.  The prose reminded me a little of how Jane Austen would have written a western.  It's a comedy because of the writing, not because of the situations.  Completely entertaining.  Highly recommend.

Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy.  This is the first book I've ever checked out from the library for my Kindle.  I chose it because the wait list was short (it only took a week to get the email saying I could borrow it now) and because there was a time in the late '90s when I read nothing but Maeve Binchy.  Even though all her books are pretty much the same story, they're enjoyable.  So I was not disappointed here--it's a good story, plus in her later books she liked to include characters from other books, so there were all sorts of people in this thing I already knew.  Ah, books.  It's a safe bet.

Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  So last October I found these books and thought it was a series of three.  No so much.  This is the last installment, and while it wasn't my favorite, it was decent enough.  I knew how it was going to end without even skipping ahead, but I wondered how the writers would get there.  And now I know.  Yay knowing!

...And another book that I got for free that I will not even tell you the title of because it was stupid and I'm embarrassed I read it/skimmed through wondering if it was really that stupid (yep, it was).  Sometimes just because you can self publish doesn't mean you should, people.

What I'm reading now:
I finally started in on the third Game of Thrones book, "A Storm of Swords."  It will probably take me another two months, but it's dark and dreary and Winter Is Coming, so I was sort of in the mood for the commitment.

Garden update:
The end!  It's funny how you go from chomping at the bit to being completely over it in four short months.  I haven't even been to the farmers' market because it's just too much pressure.

Things I did not think I needed to tell Johanna, but totally should have:
We do not eat tomato soup with our fingers.

Things I learned:
To make sure Jo has a spoon when I serve her tomato soup, just to be on the safe side.