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Sunday Stealing: The Mommy Time Meme

Sunday Stealing

I stole Bud's Sunday Stealing logo right off his blog! I clicked that instead of the ... well, long story short, it was un accidente, and now that it's there, it amuses me because it's in keeping with the idea of the meme. Sorry, Bud. ;)

Link up here with the rest of us if you're playing along this Earth Day weekend!


Cheers to all of us thieves!

Sunday Stealing: The Money Time Questions

1. What are five passions that you have?

a.  EarthDayEve052a

These three knuckleheads. <3

b. Image may contain: 1 person, beard and drink

This chump of mine. <3

c.  EarthDayEve050aCrafting/creating/making in general; knitting, specifically.

d.  SelfiewithSophieMother Earth (and Science #FTW!)

e.  Pea falafel etc

Experimenting with food! I love to cook!

2. List up to ten random facts about yourself.

a.  Profile

I have had my nose pierced twice, but what I really want is a septum piercing. I told Hubs I would do it after my dad dies. When Hubs asked me why I didn't just go ahead and do it before Dad dies, I replied, "I don't want to kill him!" (The piercing was really hard on my father. His precious little girl... it was right as I was getting out of college, and he saw it and said, "I didn't send you to school so you could become some kind of hippie Bohemian!") lmao


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I'm married to a "hippie Bohemian." Seriously, my husband's maternal family is from Bohemia, which is now the Czech Republic. So, lol to that, too!


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I've had four pregnancies and four live births, but there is not a 1:1 relationship (for those of you who know your math) there. One of those live births is now our little angel baby, waiting for us...


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I have so many medical issues, my last neurologist labeled me "complicated" when trying to medicate me for migraines. The last med nearly killed me, so we're on to Botox next.


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I have Lyme disease, Fibromyalgia (maybe) and, I suspect, ME/CFS. (myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for those who hate acrobreviations) ;) And that only accounts for half the shit medicine I'm on.


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I also have Bipolar Disorder 1 w/ Psychosis, but I suspect it may actually be Schizophrenia - and so does my current psychopharmacologist. Thing is, the same drugs I'm on are used to treat both, I take my drugs, and I'm more or less stable (that's a myth, like a unicorn achievement, with serious mental health issues, really). I'm not going to go off my meds to find out, so we'll never know unless my chemistry raucously changes. Hey, I'm due for menopause in about 10-15 years, so...! (Hush yo' mouth, I'm not hoping!)


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My surviving kids are 15.5, 14, and 12, and I'm already looking forward to being a grandmother one day. Which damn well better be in a decade or more. ;)


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I'm a permanent Idealist/Optimist, despite all the trauma and abuse in my history. I'm a rainbow-seeker wearing my rose-colored glasses, I'm sensitive, and I'm splendidly naive. Please don't take advantage of me, or I will cry. And I didn't pack the waterproof mascara, 'kay?


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I consider myself a Biologist, a scientist who just didn't finish her Ph.D., as well as a Christian. This throws people way the hell off. 'Specially since I curse like a sailor - since long before I married one. Pretty sure God's okay with me the way I am. <3


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I have a (Young Living) essential oils addiction that about mirrors my JAFRA addiction... I'd love to share them with people, but I'm painfully shy and not at all a salesperson, so my only real clients are on the Interwebs. I keep thinking the older I get, the more my scaredy-cat nature will crack, but that's a Big Fat Nope.

3. List five people (personal, historic, living or dead) who have had a major impact on your life or the way you think.

All right, well:

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a. My mother (RIP), whom I have put on a pedestal of perfection when it comes to motherhood, since her early death at age 33;

b. My father, whom I have not with respect to fatherhood;

c. My stepmother, AKA "The Bitch From Hell," who played an enormous part in my becoming Bipolar/Schizo while "helping raise" me from ages 7 to 17 and beyond...;

d. My maternal grandparents, without whom my childhood would have completely sucked and who rescued me from my miserable home life many times (RIP, RIP, and THANK YOU!)

e. My U-Miami physics professor who, during exams, always used to write, "WAEFRTGDQ" on the chalkboard before starting. The meaning, "When All Else Fails, Read The God-Damned Question!" and which I have used many times in my own life. His surprising addition to this short list startled even me.

4. List 5 things you'd tell your 15 year-old self, if you could.


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While life might suck, at least you have your (relative) physical health and strength. Getting older can be quite painful!


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There actually are some blessings in your life, and you should appreciate them. Some of them won't always be there.



Yes, studying and good grades matter, but let loose every once in a while and try to enjoy yourself.


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Don't cheat on Ben. He's a decent guy, and he cares about you. And don't ever do that again, either! >:(


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You're in Syracuse, New York, one of the most perfect places to learn to ski, so do it, you bonehead. One day, you'll end up in freaking Idaho!

5. What is a major strength that you have?

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My husband will disagree, but he's only right when I'm pissed: I have the ability to use logic and reason in a Euclidean sort of way.

6. What is a major weakness that you have?

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I lose my freakin' shit when I'm really mad. (When I'm happy-manic, yay, baking is happening! When I'm angry-manic, you'd better watch the F out.)

7. Describe the family dynamic of your childhood versus your family dynamic now.

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Huge pile of shit (then)


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Unicorn farts... Capisce?

8. What popular notion do you feel that the world has most wrong?

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That Climate Change is not real, and Global Warming is not happening. As a scientist, this one kills me the most, I think. These are the people in charge of legislation, FFS, and they are ruining mankind for the rest of us. Oy vey. Don't even.

9. Name three things that always cheers you up when you are down.



Seeing one of my kids accomplish something that I know was difficult for her/him to do


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Coming to an understanding with someone who might ordinarily not have connected with me on a mental or emotional level


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10. Name three things would you like to be remembered for?


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Being a good mom to my bebes (and holy crap, my favorite author says what I say all the time to people, too!)


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Being kind


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That I did my hardest to protect the natural resources that have been bequeathed unto me.


That was a long one, but fun!

Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: Some Guys Have All The Luck

Ahhh, 80s baby here! I used to love this song, and I'm excited it was picked! Also yes, I know it's not Saturday. Yesterday was an awful day for me healthwise, so I took it off. Anyway...

Link up here if you wanted to play along yesterday but couldn't do it. Like me! ;)


Saturday 9: Some Guys Have All the Luck (1984)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Do you consider yourself lucky?
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Lucky? No, not me. I sometimes have seemingly "lucky" things happen to me, but to be honest, I'm not sure I truly even believe in luck.

2) When did you last risk money in a game of chance (lottery, raffle ticket, slot machine, etc.)? How did you do?
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I'm not sure, but I think the last time I took to the casino or anything like that was in October 2006, when we were on a cruise with some of our extended family. I dropped about ten bucks on chips and played the slot machine. I quickly lost that and took my leave!

3)  There's a major football game this weekend. Will you be watching? Do you have any money riding on the outcome? 
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We're going to a Super Bowl party at our church tonight to watch the game. I'm excited! I've never actually been to any game-watch party, let alone the Super Bowl! Maybe I'm a loser? Anyway, I hope it'll be way fun. Much less stressful than, and a great break from, all the political BS coming out of D.C. lately...
4) The composer of this song, Jeff Fortgang, is an interesting guy who's had two disparate careers: first pop musician, then Yale-educated clinical psychologist. It's possible that many of the patients who see him for help with anxiety or depression have no idea that he wrote this song. What's something your coworkers (or, if you're not working, casual friends) would be surprised to know about you?
Well, I'm an over-sharer on social media (I try to contain myself but have no real filter, so it's hard), so there would not be much. However, I do think some people would be shocked about how much I don't share. They probably think it's none, but it's way more than lots. ;)

5) Similarly, fans are often surprised to learn that this week's featured artist, Rod Stewart, is a history buff who loves reading about WWII. Is there a period of time or historic event that has captured your interest?

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I'd love to go back to the '50s and dance in a good, old-fashioned sock hop. What fun!
6) Rod met his current wife as the result of a dare. Penny Lancaster, then in her 20s, spotted the decades-older celebrity in a bar and only approached him because her friends bet her she didn't have the guts to talk to him. Are you, like Penny, vulnerable to peer pressure? Can your friends talk you into doing things you might not otherwise do?
Usually not. On the other hand, if I'm comfortable with the group I'm in, I ofted get amped up enough to go do shit on my own - with or without my friends' daring me to do it! 

7) Rod vividly recalls being 11 years old and going to see  Little Richard perform in a film comedy called The Girl Can't Help It. When you were a kid, did you enjoy going to the movies? What do you recall seeing?
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Oh, I have fantastic memories of going to the drive-in movies with mom and dad! The first two movies, which I still love, that I can remember seeing were E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and Bambi. Stacey (sister) and I would sit in the back of the car eating M&Ms and other snacks, and when my parents thought we'd fallen asleep, they started smooching. Haha!

8) The lyrics tell of when Rod's car overheats and he calls a friend, who doesn't come through. Tell us about a time recently when you were there and helped a buddy out.
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Note: This not the actual cake, but she'll get one similar to it.
My good friend, Domenica, doesn't have a car, and she needed to order a 4th birthday cake for her daughter, Emma. She was going to walk the nearest Publix and does that all the time, no problem. But she's pregnant and having some issues with that, so Chloë and I drove over to pick them up. Domenica and Emma ran with us to our local, organic CSA share farm and then to Publix to order the cake. Also:
Domenica and Chloë glommed onto the cupcake display case at the bakery and could not resist getting a couple of tasty treats for themselves! (And yes, I 'stole' a bit of Chloë's delicious cupcake, despite the fact that I can not have anything in it! Delicioso!)

9) The lyrics mention that "some guys do nothing but complain." Who do you know who is like that? Do you have a friend, relative or coworker who just always seems to find fault?

If I had a friend like that, always finding fault, they probably would not be my friend in the first place. I had enough of that growing up with my wicked stepmother. I complain, but honestly I just do it to hear myself talk! ha! I'm like my grandpa that way.


Thanks for stopping by! Have a great Super Bowl Sunday.


Saturday 9: A Summer Place


Saturday 9: A Summer Place (1960)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song highlights the soundtrack from the movie A Summer Place, which is about two teenage lovers named Molly and Johnny. Did you ever have a youthful summer romance? If so, what was his/her name?
Yes, with a guy named Alan. We met at the beautiful Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, FL, where I had just finished up my degree at the University of Miami. It was just a summer fling. Fun, but fleeting. I'd forgotten all about that, as it was [gasp] 20 years ago!!

2) The "summer place" of the song/movie is a resort along the Maine coast. What "summer place" are you day dreaming about this winter morning?
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I'm kind of doing the opposite. Our planned departure from Miami for the state of Idaho is about March 10th. Currently, I'm storing up images of our sojourn here in Florida from the past four years in order to help bring me to warmer days when I'm cold to the bone in Boise!

3) In the movie, Johnny was played by Troy Donahue, who is remembered as nice looking but not terribly talented. Can you think of one of today's actors who you could describe as "nice looking but not terribly talented?"
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Not really. Honestly, I don't even know who the new up-and-comers are, because I rarely pay attention to TV and movies at present. All of my choices for "nice-looking" (cough Matt Damon cough) have already proven themselves as actors, I think.

4) Molly is played by Sandra Dee, a perky blonde who was one of 1960's bankable movie stars. Two other blondes -- Doris Day and Debbie Reynolds -- joined Sandra Dee in the Top 10. The only brunette to sell a lot of movie tickets that year was Elizabeth Taylor. Do you believe men find blondes more attractive than brunettes or redheads? 
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I don't know. I guess it depends on the guy. Maybe more guys find blondes more attractive than there are guys who find the rest of us so, but it's not something I'm going to worry about at this stage in my life. By the way, I was told I would look "hotter" if I dyed my hair black (it's dark reddish-brown, so... auburn? I guess?), and I did in late November. I HATED it. Thank goodness it's back to normal-ish now that I've stripped that color out. Which do you prefer? (Lord, I am so unphotogenic. I look goofy in both pix!)

5) "A Summer Place" was by far the best-selling record of 1960. Also in 1960, two brothers in Ypsilanti, Michigan, opened a pizza place called Dominick's. That was the beginning of a chain now known as Domino's. What's the last food you had delivered to your front door?
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I don't support everything they're about in this operation, so this was definitely a work-related purchase. ;)

6) In 1965, one of the brothers sold his share of the business to his brother for cash so he could buy a VW Beetle. Tell us about a time you had buyer's remorse.

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Oh. Isn't this silly? This ^^^ is the food dehydrator I bought almost 10 years ago. I think I have used it exactly once. I'm going to sell it before we move, I think. But when I Googled for this picture, I found its current update looking much more sleek and modern:
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And now I want to buy it all over again! Ha! What a sucker for kitchen appliances I am!
7) In 1960, novelist Ernest Hemingway returned to the United States from Spain and settled in Ketchum, Idaho. Tell us about the last book you read. Was it a novel or non-fiction?

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Right now I'm reading Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice At a Time, by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. I just started it and am still on the long, long introduction, so no practices have been, um, practiced as of yet. I have high hopes!
8) In December, 1960, John F. Kennedy, Jr. was baptized in the Georgetown University Chapel. His godparents were Charles and Martha Bartlett, the couple who originally introduced young John's famous parents. Do you have godparents?
Well, now I'm going to go peep in my baby book, which is my most cherished gift that I have from my mother's things. (Well, other than the self-fulfilling prophecy wherein she wrote that I am lazy. I try to fight that every day, though. She also wrote I did not wipe my butt well during potty-training, but never mind that right now... hahaha!) So Mom said my godparents are ... Well, fudge. That book is already packed and under a pile of boxes. Guess you'll have to take a raincheck on that, because I don't know!
9) Random question: You're at dinner with a married couple who begins to fight. Would you intercede and try to make peace? Or would you just sit back stay out of it?
Oh, hell no. That is sacred ground over which I shall not cross. NO outsiders should trespass in a marriage (or any other relationship I can think of, really) unless one or both people are in any kind of pain or trouble. If one of them starts hitting the other, for example. my Mama Bear instincts would come right out, and I would have to involve myself. (With my phone. And the police. You know.) Interested to see what y'all have to say about this!
Welp, that was an interesting note on which to end, huh?  Thanks for stopping by!

Mis(Adventures) In The Kitchen, And Other Brain Farts.

Hello, World.

It's 0315 right now, and I cannot sleep.

So many things running through my mind. Does anyone care anymore now that my dear Mamacita (Mother-in-Law, for my uninitiated pals) has departed us?  I feel like she was my only audience who gave a rat's patoot, and now I should shaddup.

Of course, I won't, and then I remember my lovely teenage daughter, Chloë, loves to read my posts when she has time. The old ones about herself, especially. And so, for my beautiful curly girl, I will continue. (And I love you, Toots!)


So on January 2nd of this year, Rob and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. I'm guessing no one who knows us personally thought we would hit this mark. There were times over the past decade-and-six that make me think I'm not sure how we did it, myself. But here we are, still kicking away at this marriage thing sixteen years in, and not I'm thinking we'll go far longer than we all anticipated. I love this guy an immense amount, and he loves me an immense amount, and that's pretty much kept us going. It's enough, y'all.

Now, let's discuss something which I rarely talk about: FASHION. (I know, right? Me.)

I know nothing about fashion, other than I'm no good at it and don't really mind that. So this should really be: CLOTHES MY KIDS WEAR.


First, there's this awesome boho shirt Chloë splurged her gift card money from my sister, Aunt Stacey, on. She got a couple pairs of leggings and a pair of cute socks to round out the total, and I had a coupon and a military discount, and it was after Christmas clearance time, so she did quite well. (Wherever the photo of Chloë actually showing us what it looks like, instead of, you know, a ton of curls... I can't find it. Oh, well.)


Next up, Señorita Wet Head is showing off her new LuLaRoe leggings and dress (Carly? I have no recollection which model). She loves these, and they look so awesome and feel so comfortable on her, I may have snagged a couple pairs myself.

I had no intention of getting in on the LLR craze. I really did not. But then I had an awesome friend, Summer from Virginia Beach (where from I did not meet her until a year or two after we moved away from there, which is crazy but awesome) gift Chloë with these two beauts following a Facebook conversation.

Not only do they look and feel great, Chloë and I both share nearly identical sensory issues with fabrics, and I find they will work for me, too. Here are the ones I've demanded requested from Summer:

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(because I love to cook and bake, duh) 


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because these just sing to me. Aren't they nice? I love 'em, can't wait to get 'em.


Speaking (constantly, at least in real life) of Idaho - oh, we weren't? - I've been collecting sales for cold-weather gear. They all now have snow pants that will grow with them, boots that will (well, who knows with the ever-growing Sophia?) fit awhile, and winter coats! Chloë is dying to go downhill skiing. I am not a skier, but maybe I'll take lessons with her if I can brace against the cold long enough. I've gone cross-country skiing, which I enjoyed, but a lot chicken about the other kind. On the other hand, Chloë is afraid of the ski lift, and I can't wait to go on that!

Sophia wants to go snow boarding, and Jack just wants to play in the snow, I guess. I don't know what he'll end up doing. I suspect I'll be nursing hot cocoa next to him in the lodge while the others frolic in the cold and snow, most of the time!


And now for another topic that is omnipresent lately: COOKING.


I don't always fail when it comes to cooking. I don't remember this so much, but I made a lot of it from the CSA share we get weekly, and none of it got thrown away! (I don't remember it because of my Fibromyalgia Fog that is making me dafter and derpier than even my usual self. It's muy frustrating.)

(If you're in the Homestead area of Miami, by any chance, check out this CSA. We get ours from Bee Heaven Farm, and the foods are organic, sustainably-raised produce. This year, we also get a small Mediterranean food share from one of the CSA-connected farms. I've enjoyed that a bunch. We have gotten Rachel's eggs from there and have even sought out more such foods at the Pinecrest Farmer's Market on Sundays. Pretty awesome stuff.)

Anyway, so sometimes I make decent stuff, and I don't get injured in the process.


And then, last Sunday night was different. As a semi-vegetarian (sometime-pescetarian here), I haven't had a steak in over 20 years. I don't know how to cook one! But I bought these sirloin steaks from Publix on the hunch that maybe extremely-picky (and tiny!) Jack would eat it and like it. In 16 years of marriage, I had never cooked Rob a steak, so I was all equipped with my Interwebs knowlij and ready to make it.

Fail. Fail, fail, fail.

Sure, I was able to 'gram the above photo of Rob's plate (that sourdough from Publix was amazeballs, btw). But then he cut into it, and that was not Pinterest-worthy. It wasn't done nearly enough. So I threw the steaks back in the searing-hot pan and started cooking it more thoroughly.

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I ended up burned and bandaged when I grabbed the hot pan a little too hastily and splashed the tiny bit of hot EVOO I was using so as not to burn the steak. That was after the apartment filled up with smoke and all five detectors starting screaming and rioting. Oh, my gosh, it's funny now, but at the time I was not laughing!

Here's how it looks a few days later (scroll past quickly if you're squeamish or cranky about boo-boo pictures):


The amazingly miraculous thing was, I used my Young Living lavender essential oil on the burn, as I had read was a THING, and you guys, it totally took away the pain. I had zero pain after that, none after the bandages came off, none ever. It blows my MIND.

(I haven't even talked much about my Young Living oils on this blahg, because I don't want to be coming off as the scientist who lost her marbles, but I am totally having an epic experience with the essential oils. I don't even care if it's a placebo effect but they help me. I lurve them.)

So yeah. Good lavender oil on a burn is a thing. Who knew?


I have returned to the kitchen successfully since then, though. All the small ingredients fell to the bottom of the bowl, but this Tablespoon recipe for Copycat Olive GardenTM Pasta e Fagioli turned out well. I subbed a lot here and there:

  • I needed lots more olive oil.
  • I used two 13-oz (I think) packages of Hillshire Farms Turkey Sausage instead of ground Italian sausage.
  • I had no celery, so I just put in extra diced onions. Why not?
  • I didn't have the Great Northern beans, so I put in small red beans and red kidney beans as requested.
  • I didn't put in dry pasta, because we had leftover orecchiette in the fridge. It turned out far paste al dente, of course, but it was fine for this time.
  • I had no chicken broth, so I put in water and some Lipton onion soup mix. Maybe don't do that, but it was fine.
  • I didn't have Parmesan, so I grated fresh Romano on it, instead.

I had mixed results with the kids, but Rob loved it and had eaten the whole pot (and it was a bigg'un!) by lunchtime the following day. I'll try this one again sometime, for sure.


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Meanwhile, I had ordered some $90' worth of Harry & David Royal Riviera Pears (not having paid nearly that much, but still) after Christmas that arrived looking less than regal. The replacements are being sent out to us, but in the meantime, that's a whole lotta sweet pears to use up! 

Since they had been frozen in shipment sometime and were wrinkly and um, subdued, I decided to cook with them.


Jack and I decided to try the Crockpot Pear Sauce recipe from the Pretty Hungry blog. Jack did all the work himself, while I just called out steps to him to do from the computer screen. We pretty much followed the directions verbatim, and it was a good one. This recipe is, to me, perfection. We loved it. Speaking of this, I think I'll go have some more after we wrap this post!


A few final Saturday morning fragments:


Rob and I had a good short visit with Anne-Marie from Miami International Riding Club, where Sophia took lessons until breaking her wrist following a fall (her mistake) this past July 1st. (Sophia misses horses and riding desperately and will continue after we move to Idaho.) I had made horse show bows for one of Anne-Marie's young equestrian students, and she came by to pick them up. Lovely girl. Too bad Sophie was already in bed and missed her. We'll go say our good-byes before we go, of course.


Our foster-fail Chiweenie puppy, Tapioca, is just a few months shy of a year old now. She was rescued by That Black Dog Rescue, Inc. after a tough start with a litter-eating mama and too-early weaning from her bottle by the initial rescuers. She's done well except for her major chewing problem, and now she's starting to exhibit more aggression toward Rob and Jack. We'll probably end up getting her doggy therapy in Idaho. Poor thing.


And finally, I'm going to miss my subtropical South Florida flowers and balmy winter weather after we move! This photo was from earlier this month.

However, I am excited for our look forward now that moving date is just over a month and a half away! Packing has not yet begun here at Chez Odette, but we will soon start in earnest. I plan to jettison a lot of my belongings to which I am no longer feeling a strong emotional attachment. A fresh start is just what the doctor ordered.


Well, if you read this far, thanks for sticking with me through it all! I hope to keep up more regularly and redevelop my readership and my blogging mojo. Famous last words from me, but I'm gonna try.


In Which I Slept Through My Favorite Holiday Of The Year


Like it says, America's Independence Day is my favorite holiday. It always has been. The pomp and circumstance, the coming-together of folks for patriotism, and of course, the fireworks - I love it all.

But today, I missed a great deal of it.


First, I stayed up well past midnight to help Chloë make this ginormous berry tart for our dessert. I have always wanted to make a flag cake for the Fourth, but it has always seemed a bit too cliché to me. I needed something amazing to check off this Food Bucket List entry. And then I spotted this slab pie:


on the Pillsbury Recipes website, and I knew I had to make it.

Only, I didn't realize that my 13" x 9" lasagna pan  (A) still not be big enough for it, and (B) Chloë would also be wanting to make making lasagna the same night, so I couldn't use that. I have two other similarly-sized metal pans for baking, but those were still too small. So, we had to use this huge cake pan from my old cake-decorating business in Virginia Beach and shift the whole recipe to accommodate its huge size.


It turned out beautifully, and she did a stellar job! 

If you're wondering just how huge the pie/tart is, maybe this will help: I bought an entire quart each of blueberries and strawberries, and a pint each of blackberries and raspberries. Not one berry was left out of the pie. Plus a whole can of mixed berry pie filling, plus two 8-oz packages of Philadelphia cream cheese, and the rest of the ingredients the recipe named. And other than my assisting as her sous pastry chef (is that a thing?), Chloë did it all.


I loved it. Sophia gave it two thumbs up. Jack just ate a couple of strawberries out of it, but that's all he wanted at the beginning. Rob must have eaten two or three helpings. And Chloë, poor thing, was not a fan at all! I have to laugh, but I also feel badly because she really wants some berries right now that aren't part of the pie! Poor thing. ;)


By then, it was after 2 AM, maybe closer to 3 AM, and I fell asleep shortly after we ate. The puppies woke me up around 7 AM, and I lasted less than an hour before I succumbed to the cravings and ate more pie. Not much more, but it put me into a Carb Coma, and I fell asleep again. I was shocked when I woke up again and looked at the clock: 4:45 PM!! Oh, my gosh. The festivities at the Homestead Speedway started at 6 PM, so it was time for Team Odette to get ready. My favorite part of the year was about to come. How 'bout a little bit more pie? Yeah. I had some. Cue another Carb Coma. I woke up again, and it was almost 11 PM. WTF?! Rob tried to wake me up. I know he did. But I was OUT. At least the kids weren't too disappointed in me, and Daddy had taken them outside to do one pack of sparklers with them.



After I finally woke up again, we all went outside and first let the kids pop each of their boxes of Pop-Its in the parking lot. Sophia asked me to help her open the inner bag, and when I tried to accomplish this task, I dropped half her Pop-Its on the ground, setting them all off! Oops. (I suck at opening stuff; ask Rob.) Never-chagrined Sophia laughingly took the other half and happily went and popped them with her siblings.


Jack had the idea, after Rob lit a sparkler for each of them, to light all the Pop-Its one more time, to see if any were still live. Of course, there are always a few, and this idea caught fire. (Sorry.)


Dauntless Sophia has been bored out of her mind with her cast inhibiting half the activities she wants to do (mostly water-related), but when she's having fun, she forgets all about it!


Chloë tired of lighting Pop-Its, finally took her last sparkler from her dad and started writing in the air. I have fond, vivid memories of doing that with my own mom and dad as a very young child. The best times!

Happy Independence Day, 'Murica. Until next year.


Sunday Stealing: Easter Meme

Happy Easter!! Link up here if you're playing along today!

Easter Meme

Stolen from: The Archives

1. Five Things I have A Passion For (not necessarily in any order): 


a. My children


b. My husband and our marriage (you're welcome for the gratuitous additions of Chloë & Otto)


c. Food: cooking, baking, eating...

Knit & Crochet

d. Fiber arts: all things yarny, knitty, and as I did here, crochet-y ;)

e. Environmentalism

2. Five Things I'd like to Learn Before I Die: 

a. Another language, aside from English and Spanish

b. How to spin my own yarn from raw fibers

c. Patience in all things

d. Giving up being a control freak

e. The secret to successfully growing plants - I have the blackest thumbs ever!

3. Five Things I say A Lot: 

a. "WTF?!" or "I don't know WTF you're talking about," often to Hubs, who speaks in esoteric military terms after serving 20 years in the US Navy! ;)

b. "LOL." As in, I actually say it like, "lollll." It amuses me to see my teen and tween kids roll their eyes when I do that.

c. Be "nice, kind, sweet, and loving!" is the mantra I preach to my kids, having tried over the years to instill the practice of the Golden Rule in them.

d. "Whatever." Just, whatever, dude.

e. "I love you." I say it all the time, to my kids and Hubs. ALL. The. Time.

4. Five Books and/or magazines I have Read Lately (we'll go with magazines, since books are a far reach for me lately): 

a. Martha Stewart Living magazine is my favorite!!!

b. Family Fun, which I used to devour as readily as Martha Stewart's mag; I do it a little less so now that the kids are older...

c. I really like Prevention; it's easy to read, with lots of short little blurbs that I find helpful in my daily life.

d. Reader's Digest has been my old standby favorite since I found dozens of issues in my grandparents' condo as a wee lassie.

e. People is my semi-guilty pleasure, though I haven't made as much time for it lately.

5. Five Favorite Movies: 

a. Grease, tied for first with:

b. Dirty Dancing

c. Finding Nemo, because I am sooo Dory; I cannot wait until Finding Dory comes out! I am SO there.

d. Ferris Bueller's Day Off is always a fun one.

e. I loooove Steel Magnolias.

6. Five Places I would like to Travel To:

a. Australia

b. Japan

c. Venezuela... and really, all over South America

d. Hawaii, since all I've seen of it is the Honolulu airport

e. The Galapagos Islands


Well, that was fun. I hope you enjoyed the visuals!


Sunday Stealing: How Are Ya Today?

Hey there, folks. Link up here if you're playing along today!

Cheers to all of us thieves!!! 

How Are Ya Today Meme

Stolen from: Love me some surveys


Okay, here we go. How are ya today?

This was me today: SLEEPY. I don't know why; it's been a very sleepy week for me since last weekend. Hoping to rev up tomorrow!

  1.  Have you ever been so happy you felt invincible? 


Actually, yes: The day Hubs and I eloped, nothing could stop us. That's the reason for this blahg's link byline: You and Me Against The World. Unfortunately, it only shows up as "...wo," and I can't change it, or I'd lose all my connecting link-ups!

  1. Would you ever refer to something as ‘bitter sweet’? 

Aside from these candy hearts? Actually, yes. I will be posting about this more next month, but giving birth to two beautiful, identical baby boys and then losing one twin was absolutely a bittersweet time for me. #Understatement

  1.  Is there a person in this world you don’t think you could ever figure out?

Probably, but it's not my job to try to figure people out. I either like them or I don't.

  1. When was the last time you were freaked out? 

The last time I was freaked out was a little embarrassing: We were at the horse farm where my daughter Sophia takes showjumping lessons. Her horse was lame, so she was walking him around the pasture to eat grass. I parked myself under a nearby tree for the time being. Right after I sat down, a black-and-white lizard came up out of the grass and bolted toward me, and then behind me, and then crawled up my right arm from the back! I was wiggling and screaming, and people were watching me! I couldn't help but laugh at myself after that!

  1.  Do you learn from ‘every’ mistake you make?

  1. I make a ton of mistakes. Sometimes, more than once, sometimes even bigger than the first time, and then I learn the lesson. So... maybe?
  3.  Do you sometimes think that you’re too nice?

Absolutely. At home, I'm not at all, but out in public, I can be a bit of a doormat. I get accused of this all the time. But when I feel I am wronged, then I speak out, in a BIG way.

  1.  Is there something you’re dying to tell someone?

Yes, but referring back to the previous question, I will never tell ______ that he is truly an asshole. I just may not mourn terribly when he dies.

  1. Do you think you have a unique name? 

Ha. Melanie? Not so much, but people seem to have a devil of a time either pronouncing it when they read it, or spelling it when they ask for it!

  1.  Do you usually try to find the good in people?

Absolutely. That is my whole MO, my quest in this life: Find the good - and BE the good - in everything. Sometimes I fail, but I try again. Always.

  1. Do you look back on embarrassing moments and laugh about them?

Generally, yes, unless there was something hurtful about it.

  1. Have you ever laughed just to save yourself from humiliation?

I do try, but as Hubs can attest, I dwell on those things for the next 20 years.

  1. What are you doing in 2 hours? 

Hopefully, by then, I'll have cooked an amazing vegetarian meal. And so, eating??

  1. What is the last thing you ate?

We received some more beautiful kohlrabi from our local organic farm, in our latest CSA share, so I bugged Hubs to make chips out of it. I ate them ALL. Every last one. In my belly.

  1.  Do you love your job?

2016-02-27 20.29.46

Mom to these three S'mores-munchin' knuckleheads? I LOVE it!

  1. When is the last time you showered?

I took a bath yesterday, so Friday, I guess. I'm due.

  1. Who is the last person you texted? 


Sophie's riding instructor at the farm, Dani, to let her know we'd be there yesterday. Oops, she was supposed to be there again today, but I forgot! :O

  1. When is the last time you were in a hospital?
  2. Last week, on Wednesday, I took a friend to the ER. She was deadly sick. Turns out, she has the flu. Now I'm trying to come down with it, or so it seems. Nooo... I don't have time for The Sick!
  4.  The last time you went out to eat, what did you order?

The last time we had food out, I ordered a bean burrito from Taco Bell. Does that count?

  1. Do you tend to have a lot of those moments where you forget something that you wanted to say?

ALL. THE. TIME. I am the queen of saying jacked-up things. Ask Hubs. It's a longstanding family joke.

  1.  How long have you known the last person you text messaged? 

Well, since that was the afore-mentioned fluishly sick friend, I guess about a year. She's still sick, poor thing.

  1. Will this week be a good one?

Definitely. I intend to make it so.

  1.  Anything happen to you within the past month that made you really happy?


It's been a slow news month, but the kids have been in the kitchen doing a serious amount of cooking and baking for the family. It brings me great joy that they are learning so much from their dad and me about not just academic subjects, but also how to take care of themselves at home and in the world around them.

  1.  Do you prefer to take showers at night or in the morning?

Whatever time I wake up, I prefer to shower. Except today. Today, I haven't.

  1. Have you been to New York City?

I was born near NYC, and my whole family is from NYC (both sides), so I have spent a great deal of time there, actually. Mostly Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Less time in Brooklyn and Queens, but I've been there, too.


Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: Sixteen Tons

I very nearly forgot it was Saturday! Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: Sixteen Tons (1955)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.


1) 16 tons = 32,000 pounds, because there are 2,000 lbs. to a ton. Without looking it up, do you know how many ounces are in a pound?

Yes, sixteen. I do a lot of cooking, and it's hard not to absorb that fact almost without trying, therefore...

2) The singer describes himself as having "a mind that's weak and a back that's strong." Think about yourself. Which feels more powerful today, your body or your brain?

For once, my body. My brain is in pain, stupid migraine. I think I'm having caffeine withdrawal.

3) The poor chap in this song has money troubles. Are you good at sticking to your budget?

No. I'm admittedly horrible with money; I always have been. I keep trying my best, though!

4) Tennessee Ernie Ford snapped his fingers as he recorded this song. It's been said that while it's possible to snap your fingers of both hands, the noise is louder with your "dominant hand." (So if you're a rightie, the finger snap will be louder with your right hand.) Try it yourself. Did you find this to be true?

No. I'm ambidextrous, but I generally write better with my right hand (I write in mirror-image with my left hand). I can only snap with my left hand, though; my right hand does some weak impression of the act.

5) Mr. Ford appeared as "Cousin Ernie" in three episodes of I Love Lucy. What's your all-time favorite sitcom?

Hmm... Currently, it's The Big Bang Theory, but I think of all time? It's gotta be Three's Company. I was a huge fan of John Ritter.

6) Tennessee Ernie took the money he made from his performing career and invested in a California cattle ranch. Think back to the last beef your ate. How was it prepared?

I'd have to think back to August 1995. It's been that long since I committed to vegetarianism. It was probably a cheeseburger at the dorm cafeteria in college. My sister was upset when I went to visit her that summer. She made a lasagna, in which she always puts ground beef. I couldn't eat it. Sorry, Sis.

7) Mr. Ford passed away at age 72 in 1991. That year, Dr. Seuss also died. What's your favorite Dr. Seuss book?

My standard graduate gift: Oh, the Places You'll Go!

8) Gene Roddenberry also died that year. Mr. Roddenberry is best known as the creator of Star Trek. Who is your favorite Star Trek character?

I don't think I've ever sat down and watched any Star Trek, but I am a huge fan of George Takei as a real individual. Can I just say him? (Incidentally, if you're not following him and his husband, Brad, on Facebook, you're missing out.)

9) Random question: We're having smoothies. What's your favorite?

We live around the corner from Robeks, so my kids are always clamoring to walk over there and have a smoothie. We indulge about once a month. I always get a peanut butter and banana one, with an extra shot of whey protein and fake sugar. I have low-carb, high-protein dietary needs or else I'd be all about a strawberry banana like my son, Jack. (I do steal a sip of his usually, though!)


Thanks for the visit!



Saturday 9: Love Story

Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: The Theme from Love Story (1970)

In honor of Valentine's Day
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) The very popular tagline for this movie is, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Here's your chance to rewrite it. "Love means _____________________."

Good enough.

2) The movie was famous for a montage of the lovers frolicking in the snow. Do you enjoy sledding, skating, skiing, snowball fights, snowmen, etc.? Or do you just want spring to hurry up and get here?

No. Nope, non, no way, José! I hate the snow. It's been down below 50ºF here this year, and believe me, that was absolutely frigid to my already-thinned blood!

3) In the movie, Oliver asks his father for $5,000. The money is required for wife Jenny's hospital treatment, but Oliver is too proud to tell his father why he needs it. Adjusted for inflation, $5,000 in 1970 is $30,000 today. How much would you be willing to lend a friend or family member without knowing the reason?

Pffft. It depends on how much I could lend. If I was a gazillionaire, things might be different. But right now, five bucks is a lot when I'm trying to feed three kids...

4) In the movie, Jenny is the daughter of a baker who owns a little shop in Cranston, Rhode Island. Think of the last baked goods you consumed. Were they homemade? Did you buy them from a bakery, the grocery store, or a coffee shop, like Starbucks?


I've been doing a ton of cooking lately, and I also happen to have a pantry full of baking mixes for no real good reason. I decided to make a big meal with cake for dessert last night. My nearly-13yo son, Jack, wanted to help me, but since he has helped me so much already, I told him he could do it by himself while I washed the dishes. He did a beautiful job, maybe better than I would have myself! I loved the look of concentration on his face while he was frosting it. (True to form, too, he's been keeping track of how fast that thing is disappearing today!)

5) In 1970, when the movie was first released, California's First Lady Nancy Reagan said she liked it but was upset to hear Ali MacGraw's character swear. What's the curse word you use most often?


All of them!

6) Now 75, Ali MacGraw has let her famous hair go gray. She says she's glad to "look like a grown up." Do you feel your age? Or older or younger than your years?

This past year has been really tough on me, physically and to a letter extent, mentally. Right now I feel every second of my 39 years + change.

7) MacGraw and her Love Story co-star Ryan O'Neal are currently on tour in the play, Love Letters, and they're drawing big crowds of fans who remember them in their famous film. Tell us of another movie couple you felt had romantic chemistry.


I'm an 80s girl, so for me it's a toss-up between Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in Pretty Woman and Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing.

8) Red is the signature color of Valentine's Day. Are you wearing red right now?

Nope, I'm wearing this sweatshirt and gray leggings.

9) Because Valentine's Day is such a big day for chocolate ... would you prefer a large, solid milk chocolate heart or a small box of four assorted chocolates?

I don't care, as long as it's good chocolate! ;)


Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: Carry A Tune Meme

Link up here if you're playing along today!

Cheers to all of us thieves!!! 

Carry A Tune Meme

Stolen from: Love me some surveys


Do you own a tablet of any kind? 

No, but if I did, I'd want a triangular one like Dwight has. My kids all have tabs, but I can't stand the smaller computing devices, personally...

What’s something people always assume about you that isn’t true? 

am quite an airhead, actually, but I'm not dumb. I just come off that way. I'm more like the absent-minded professor type.

On a scale of 1-10, how much do elevators scare you?

Elevators don't scare me at all, actually. I'm the weirdo that jumps when the carriage hits the ground floor, to feel the sensation. Not lately, of course; I'd probably pass out. But usually!

When you’re upset, do you vent to people or do you keep to yourself?

It depends on how comfortable with them I am. I'm a complete introvert, but I come out of my shell when I develop a certain level of comfort. Few people see me at that level, so I normally bottle it up and then vent it to Hubs. With Hubs, though, I just let loose!

Have you ever watched a meteor shower

I haven't seen a complete shower, like this one; just or two "shooting stars."

Do you tend to put things off until the last minute? 

Often, yes. But I can turn out some kick-ass work at the end of that deadline, so normally it's a win-win.

How do you react to random strangers suddenly trying to make conversation with you?

OMG. I absolutely loathe small talk with people I have just met or barely know. I suck at it. Who flippin' cares?!?!

Do you have a lucky number? 

From the time I can remember, maybe about three years old, I chose 64 as my lucky, favorite number. I have no idea why or where that came from. All I know is that I am very mathematically inclined, and I love that about my younger self. Why? Because 64 is a perfect square, and it is made up of other perfect squares: 4 and 16. There's more, but I'll stop there. This number is significant in my life, and you may soon learn why!

Would you go out to dinner with Oprah?

Sure! I admire her. As long as she doesn't bring a cold. I already have a compromised immune system.

Did you ever play sports? 

Yeah, no. I'd be like the guy in the middle. I was a dancer, but I didn't play any sports for school, for example.

Do you feel guilty if you throw food away?

Oh God, yes. It was just about beaten into my head that waste of any kind was bad, bad, bad. I now abhor wasting, and occasionally now, I feel guilty because my kids think they must make use of everything or I'll get mad. Only occasionally, like I said, but it's a teachable moment - for me.

Do you think you could make it as a baker?

LOL. That's an older picture of my daughter Sophia, who'll be 11 in April. We like to bake, lots and lots, and I even attempted to have my own dessert business once. It was semi-successful, but I just couldn't devote as much time to it as it required. I think I could definitely be successful with it full-time, though.

Are you one of those people who are wearing scarves with everything? 

Nope! I don't get why that's such a huge trend, but it is, so whatever. I guess I just like as little restraining of my neck as possible?

Have you ever been in a castle? 

Only Cinderella's castle in WDW!

When you were little, did you ever play with Play-doh?

Hahaha, that's hilarious! Yes, of course I played with Play-Doh! But never at my own house; Dad didn't want the mess. :\

Would you rather write a mystery or love story?

What about a mystery love story? Anyway, probably a love story, since I'm such a mush, but I don't know if that will ever happen. I'm still working on that dang first novel (but I do have one book ready for editing and illustrating)!

Tell me about your worst fashion mistake: 

It probably happens every day! I am no slave to fashion. I wear what fits and is comfortable. If it looks good, too, then it's purely unintentional.

Do you hate it when people smoke around you?

Um, yeah. Just a little bit. :\

How are you wearing your hair right now?

When I blow it out, which is never, it looks a lot like Keira Knightley's, here. But with bangs. So, yeah.

When’s the last time you were sick? 

I'm always sick, but I'm at my sickest just about right now. Hubs says there should be a Venn diagram of all the autoimmune diseases in separate circles, with ME in the overlap center. It's not a good time for me...

Would you rather have OJ or milk with your breakfast?


I hope you meant orange juice, because I'm lactose-intolerant. I can only have one or two sips, and only before I start eating, please. (Yes, I am this much of a pain.)

What were you doing thirty minutes ago? 

Sleeping. Poorly, but sleeping.

Do you own any school-related clothing articles? 

I own a thing or seventeen with my alma mater's colors on it. Go 'Canes!

Would you rather call people or have them call you?

Oh no, please don't call me. I'll call you. Maybe. On, like, the fifth of never...

Can you carry a tune?

I do all right. When I'm not sick. Which is forever. So, um...?

Who was the last person who unexpectedly texted you? 

My sister, Stacy ♥

Whom do you text the most?


Hubs and I text each other all the time. Sure, most of the time we are next to each other, but once your kids are well past the spelling stage of getting secrets passed, you have to resort to texting. Hee.


Yay, I finished a post. Granted, it was a prompt, but hey, it took work to look up those memes! ;)

Thanks for stopping by!


January '16 Wrap-Up


Black-and-white portrait of the man I love, Robert Allen Odette

So, I haven't blogged as much this infant year as I had planned, because I became even sicker than I had been all throughout the latter half-plus of 2015. That sucked. Basically, I had my iron infusion chemotherapy on December 21st and 28th, and I did not react well to it. I had a semi-kinda-fake-it-'til-you-make-it rally on New Year's Eve, when we went to South Beach for the big par-tay. And then I rested a whole bunch on New Year's Day, before we drove up to Orlando on the 2nd of January to celebrate Rob's and my 15th wedding anniversary.

Well. That sucked. That was actually for a mystery shopping assignment and fun though it was, I almost did not make it home. I had to stop and rest several times along the way, once for several hours, because I was in excruciating pain again. I never did complete that report. That was a Sunday.

By Tuesday, I was calling my father and my BFF, "Dr. Lisa," to say my good-byes. No, I did not call my sister yet at that time, because I knew she would rush down if I told her that I needed her to come help with the kids and Rob after my demise, and I was hoping for a Hail Mary.

Well, obviously, I got my Hail Mary! We still aren't sure what happened yet, because my ER lab results and my primary care doctor are calling it iron toxicity from an overdose of the chemo, but my hem/oncologist swears that I received the correct dose. So, I have no idea, other than that my death definitely seemed imminent but was clearly averted.

Whew. Anyway!

I spent a ridiculous amount of time lying on the couch recovering from that episode. I felt like I got NOTHING accomplished for the whole month other than recuperating. I did, however, manage to take a bunch of pictures of stuff, and lo and behold, as I discovered last night, that means I actually did stuff worthy (at least to me, so, good enough folks!) of that photography. I'm going to share it all here because, uh, that's kinda the purpose of this interwebular space, amirite?


Black-and-white profile of my sleeping beauty, Sophia Lorelei


This is from the 8th of January, when Sophia was feeling poorly from a yucky cold virus, and I was feeling poorly from all the aforementioned whatever-the-feck. We were lying together on Rob's lap, if you can discern his camouflage trousers in my sepia tones. A selfie? I asked. Of course, she responded. Snap


I rarely wear jeans, and never wear boots - certainly not leather ones - so when Rob pulled out my man-made pleather knee-highs from the depths of our closet, I decided to go for it and rock the cowgirl look at one of Sophia's showjumping lessons. Or something. No stetson atop my head, though. The big accomplishment here, though, is that I was up and about, ready to attend her lessons again!


That night, I felt like crap again and learned that my recovery would not come all at once but in slow bursts and small backslides each day and night. I rested and kvetched about how miserable I was... so much so that my awesome hubs asked what he could do to make my awful night better. Five minutes later, he was giving me his first pedicure. Not a bad job, either!

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Puppy love from Otterbox (Otto von Dieter) and the Doodle (Paco)


Rob and I, starting our 16th year of wedding bliss, are connecting on a whole 'nother level lately. Our marriage has had some really high highs and some really low lows, but right now we are absolutely soaring. It takes work, every day, absolutely. But we are both crazier about each other now than when we first began this story of true love.

January 2016

Rob and Jack both received NERF guns from Grandpa Al & Grandma Denise (thanks, y'all!) for Christmas, and Jack received several more from Ye Olde Maw an' Paw, so the boys were thirsting for an old-fashioned (water) gun fight! Okay, so that wasn't truly an accomplishment of mine, per se, but at least I got up off my duff and out the door to take some piccies!


On Wednesday, my neighbor drove Sophia and me to see my hem/oncologist. Sophia had a lesson right afterward, and I could not drive. The visit went well, I had blood drawn, blah blah blah. Afterward, our vecino, Frank, insisted us taking to the Sports Grille next door for a bite to eat before her lesson. Selfie time for me and Sophie!


And here's that neighbor, Frank, with me watching Sophia's lesson that day. He absolutely loved watching her ride Buddy. Frank clapped and cheered, and he called her a champion! It was really fun watching it through his fresh eyes, and it's true. On Wednesday, Sophie really did an amazing job!



Sophia walking Buddy to get saddled up


Buddy doesn't like to get his riding gear on, and he gets a little nippy. Once ridden, though, he's a gentle giant. He loves Sophia, though - and that might be due in no small part to her bringing him a treat at the beginning and end of each lesson!

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Sophia had achievements in January, too. She and buddy jumped together for the first time, and she got up to a canter, too! Way to go, kiddo!



It looks so freeing...


This is the only picture I have gotten of Sophie and Buddy jumping so far, but there been many perfect jumps since then. Gosh, I'm so proud of how far she's come in just four short months!


Sweet sign made by one of the other 'horsey moms'



Craftiness happened this month, too. I was bound and determined not to let the extreme pain in all my joints stop me from doing what I really love and find so calming: knitting. So... I started with this top for myself (and yes, some champagne might have been involved in a few mishaps there):


But, they're fixable.


I'm pretty happy with it, even though I would do a Small instead of a Medium next time, and extend the belly ribbing so it covers more of my, uh, mommy pooch... lol. But it's good. I might even wear it out one day?!


All the kids got onboard with Mommy knitting again, and all have asked for projects for themselves. We had a bit of a cold snap there, and Sophie already loves gloves and mittens, so together we picked out a pattern that's a combo of both.


Meet Tatiana. Yes, there are booboos and it's a bit tight, but my fingers are out of practice and frankly, my eyes just don't see as well anymore! But Sophie is happy and that's what matters. Now to work on the bottom halves some...

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Speaking of craftiness, Jack and Sophia received their Tinker and Doodle Crates for the month, respectively. Their arrival is always a fun day.

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For Jack's project, he had to build a gravity game. He really enjoys doing the Tinker Crates along with the YouTube videos for each one, so his tablet was trotted out for the assist.

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I told Jack that if he could get the ball into the 50-point hole at the end, he could have a day off from Math work. Guess who had the next day off from Math?!

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Sophia's project was about Watercolor Painting, which is something she knows and loves.

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She had to learn about color gradients, which was new and challenging for her. And then she painted some dishes, including my FiestaWare, which, um... was NOT okay with me!!! (But now I can laugh. A bit.)


For a bit more craftiness, Sophia fashioned these awesome sandals out of fallen palm fronds. I got a kick out of it!


 IMG_20160116_112322 20160124_211449-1

I needed a lot of help to get out to Bee Heaven Farm this month, which is where we get our weekly CSA shares, but Rob, Sophia, and Frank were happy to help me get there and get our box of fresh, local, organic goods!


You know what fresh food means? Cooking. This first dish, I went pretty simple: Salad. I wilted the kale first and did a stir-fry with some watermelon radish, some kind of pepper I forget the name of, and then just threw it together with pecans and shredded Colby Jack. Meh, it was all right, but Rob had to finish my dose portion.


A made-up dish: fried egg with (also-fried) French Couscous, topped with a conglomerate of stir-fried veggies from Bee Heaven Farm. And Spanish peanuts. I guess I was going for a whole fusion thing? I dunno, but it was tasty.


Kitchen Sink Mashed Potatoes

I don't think any of this was comfort food fare was from the farm, but that's okay. During my recuperation from the chemo debacle, I ate and ate and ate like a mofo! I've never eaten so much in the seven years post-op. And I still lost weight! It was cray-cray. Anyway, I used to make this in my poverty-ridden days as a vegetarian college student: loaded mashed potatoes. I add corn, sautéed Vidalia onions, cheese (I loves me some cheesy goodness), garlic... and all kindsa' salt, pepper, milk and butter. Mmm. So. Freaking. Good!


I made Ethiopian food for the first time ever! This vegan Gomen Wat was soooo good, I ate like five platefuls. Okay, maybe six? I'm definitely going to make it again. And no, I didn't serve it on a beautious bed of injera, because... um. Because and that's why.

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Southwestern Chili Mac


Chloë wanted to hone her cooking chops in the kitchen with me one night when I was too manic to cook, so I somewhat crazily guided her through the recipe from Hello Fresh for Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto with Feta and Pepitas. She somehow, despite my sabotage, managed to pull off a stellar dish! Rob and I inhaled the goodness she made. Way to go, Chlo!


Sophia wanted to join her sister in preparing a meal the kids would actually eat, and she lovingly put together a vermicelli and sauce dinner for the three of them. (There was supposed to be garlic bread too, but Mom forgot to keep reminding her to check the oven and, well, I'm just glad we didn't burn the house down.) Well done, ladies! ♥


I baked a scrummy loaf of bread, nothing fancy but tasty as all-get-out.


Jack and the girls pal around with the neighborhood kids, so one day while they held yet another NERF gun fight, I baked them up some peanut butter cookies to share with their friends. That plate came back EMPTY. Go, Mom. (Yes, I did diligently check for allergies first.)


Plátanos fritos

 I had never fried plantains before, in all my years of living in South Florida, though I sure have enjoyed eating my share of them! We did a quickie grocery trip to Publix and talked about making our own, at which point I just thought, Why not now? Some super-green plantains, a bunch of kosher salt, and a healthy squeeze of lemon, et voilá! Talk about tasty. I'll definitely be doing that again!


One week, our CSA box came with two of the most beautiful, juicy red grapefruits you ever wished to have. Oh. Em. Gee. (NO accomplishment here, I just wanted to drool over it some more. Moving on...)


I had planned on making these Honeyed Butternut Squashes from the CSA box myself, but after chopping up two good-sized gourds, I was petered out. Rob had to finish the cooking for me himself, and he did an amazeballs job. They ended up too sweet for my grumpy pouch, Oscar, and I experienced a lot of Dumping Syndrome. But I swear, I would've eaten them all if I could have!

January 2016-001

And lastly - but surely not least - on the cooking front, I made some of my favorite Artisanal Rustic Pizzas. The dough recipe comes from a back issue of Martha Stewart Living but the toppings are my creation. The kids don't like my fanciful ideas, so I made them a plain cheese-and sauce one. Only, we only had cheddar in the house and no sauce, so I had to improvise and make some sauce from scratch. Jack didn't care for it - he's no cheese fan (tha' heck?!) - but the girls devoured every last piece of Pizza #1.

Pizza #2 was the same but with a bunch of roasted organic scallions from the BHF CSA box on top. I unvented a different homemade sauce for that one. Rob is lucky he had any of that one, because I snatched up every last piece after he had his share!

Pizza #3 was way more unconventional: a third different homemade sauce, using torn-up fresh organo from the CSA box. Cheddar cheese, natch. And for toppers? I threw on chopped walnuts, pea sprouts from BHF, capers, and a drizzle of honey. I didn't think I would like that. My scale says the opposite! (Rob loved it, also.)

Whew. Now I'm getting hungry!



Random January blooms in the neighborhood


Rob and I were startled to find Jack, Sophia, and a neighborhood boy carrying a box with this "abandoned" duckling in it one day. They insisted its mother had left it and gone swimming with the rest of her brood. Of course, I had my camera with me. They took the ducky out of its box, I snapped a picture or two, and then... he waddled off, like a bat out of hell! Ahaha. So much for being helpless.


Here, leezard, leezard... 

Just an anole visitor who ran away from me at the horse farm after I let out a belly-bursting sneeze

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Lest you were thinking you'd get away from me without sharing some puppy pix... heeeeere's PACO! ♥

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Otterbox is really a beautiful GSD, but he's hard to photograph well sometimes. Anyway, this month, Robert declared that he has chosen ME as "his person," which about blew my heart up with joy. Our previous German Shepherd, Tiger Lily, was supposed to be my dog, but she chose Rob for her person. The exact opposite happened this time. And I love Otty-bot soooo much. He was a bit of trouble at first, but now he is just the most fun, loving, sweet thing, and I'm glad he is a part of our wackadoodle family!

And that's about it for the round-up! Here's another cookie, if you read the whole danged thing.


Sunday Stealing: Why Do You Want To Know That?!

Link up here if you're stealing along with the rest of us today!


List 5 things you want to do before the year ends:

  1. a. Bake Christmas cookies with my family,

b. Go to Christmas Eve candlelight services together,

c. Get our veritable mountain of laundry washed, dried, folded and put away for once,

d. Get everyone's Christmas presents wrapped, and

Buy more groceries and make sure we use up these ^^^ veggies & tilapia from the farm where we get our weekly CSA shares!

  1. What color are your pants?


They're a bit more red than in this picture, but cherry red not tomato red, on top, and black on the rest.

Favorite motivational quote:


I have this posted on my wall, here in my little office area of the living room. Whenever I'm feeling like poo, I look up at it and remind myself to BE the good, etc.

When was the last time you drank coffee?

  1.  Last night, Chloë and I made a run to Starbucks. She ordered a Java Chip Frappuccino, I ordered an Egg Nog Frapp "Light" with Coconut Milk (minimal dairy for me), and I brought home a Café Mocha for Rob. Technically, I don't think there was any coffee in mine, but I probably had some earlier in the day... maybe?

    What was the last thing you ate?
  2. I've been eating a lot of ice chips lately, so that was the last solid "food" I consumed. I'm not eating much else aside from the ice! It took me a few days to realize I probably have Pica from being extremely anemic. :\
  3. Favorite animal:

So, my favorite overall animal is of the sea: Shortfin Mako Shark.

  1. My favorite land animal is the African Elephant.

    1. And my favorite animal of flight is the soaring Bald Eagle.

      Favorite song:

  1. "Near You Always" by Jewel - though I adore that entire album!

    Last movie you watched?
  2. Well, I rented five movies (for FREE!) from the Redbox last night, but we only managed to get two watched (Paper Towns and Shaun The Sheep), but the one I'm really looking forward to watching today is the newer Vacation movie! Yes, I'm totally allowing my kids to watch it. C'mon, it'll be fun..! ;)

    Any turn-ons?

Nicole nailed it - in that order, too!

  1. Any turn-offs?
  2. Arrogance, lack of sense of humor, and stupidity are my major turn-offs.

    List 4 big words off of the top of your head.
  3. Okay... extraneous, superfluous, garrulous, expediency
  4. What are some meaningful movies?
  5. Jodie Foster in The Accused, and

Gabourey Sidibe in Precious really meant a lot to me.

  1. The two most important people in your life right now?
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  2. IMG_20151203_043657
  3. No. I cannot do just two. It's these four folks: Rob, Jack, Chloë, and Sophia. They are my life!

    What are 3 things you want for Christmas?
  4. I really, really want the Cards Against Humanity game!

  1. THIS new printer, which Rob already gave me, because I desperately needed it, and

  1. OF COURSE I want peace on Earth. Please, please, please, let there be peace.

    When was the last time you read a good book?
  2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Book 1 The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Novel Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce A Confederacy of Dunces Boo: A Novel
  3. These are the five books I just purchased from Audible. I hope I have time to listen to all of them in the next few months!

    What was the last thing you studied?
  4. I studied the ecological and functional morphology of the pharyngeal jaw apparatus of elasmobranch fishes, with this guy:

  1. Dr. Philip J. Motta, at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
    Do you have any nicknames?
  3. Aside from Smellyann? It's pretty much "Mom," or "Honey."

    Favorite kind of perfume?
  4. It changes. Right now, I'm really digging my JAFRA blends, which have some fruity elements, a little bit of floral, and a little bit of ... allure. I can mix and match which one(s) I use, depending on my mood. Love them!

    Do you have any international friends / friends who live out of state?

Yes, of course I have tons of friends (and family) from out-of-state, but I also have lots of international friends. Some of them, I have never even met. I'm hoping to meet Pammy, here, in the next few months. I have "known" her since 2004. She lives in Canada; I shall have to pack warm!

  1. 20. What is something unique that you do every single day?

I'm in a lot of pain these days, so I am trying to do gentle yoga as much as possible. Sometimes, it's a simple stretch or two. Other times, when I'm having a better day, I get more active. But I have a ways to go before I look this beautiful whilst doing it!

  1. If there was a movie based on your life, what would it be called?
  2. It would be called Does That Make Me Crazy?

  3. When was the last time you bought a gift for someone?
  5. I bought a drift fishing trip for Rob and Jack for Christmas, last. Shhh, don't tell Jack!

    Are you a shopaholic?
  6. In-store, not so much, but online... I have to be careful!

    What are some songs that always make you feel better?

The #1 song to get me in a good mood, up and dancing on my feet is "Kiss" by Prince. Guaranteed.


Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: Black Is Black

Playing along today? Make sure you link up here to join in the fun!

Saturday 9: Black Is Black (1966)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.


1) Black is this week's signature color because Friday, November 27th, was "Black Friday," when retailers cut their prices and consumers flock to the stores. Did you score any "Black Friday" bargains?


Well, I never do. But for the first time at Zero Dark-Thirty this morning, I took my daughter Chloë out to score a couple of things she wanted to get her dad for Christmas. We went to Kohl's, but the two things together were out of her budget, and she didn't want to get just one. I told her we could wait until Cyber Monday and try again. She did end up scoring a great deal on a laser toy for our four cats, though. Hee!

Oh! And then, I got a bug up my ass to start decorating for Christmas - which I insist on not doing until Thanksgiving is over - so I took my other daughter, Sophia, out to Michael's. I had seen that their Christmas décor was 50% off, and I had a 30% off coupon on top of that, so we got some garlands and a tree topper thingy to make a tree for our wall. We raced there at 0140, knowing they closed for the night at 0200, and got 'er done.

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Back at home, I got my girls and my son Jack together to help me construct a "tree" out of the garlands. I nailed it to the wall after setting the three of them to work making their first-ever popcorn and cranberry garlands, and then we unwrapped and hung some of our many ornaments. I think it's beautiful, and I love it! 

2) WalMart, Best Buy, Toys R Us and Target have all heavily advertised their "Black Friday" sales. If you could have a $50 gift card to one of those stores, which would choose? What would you spend the $50 on?

Definitely not Walmart or Best Buy. Ugh. Probably not Toys 'R' Us, since the toys my tween- and teen-aged kids want now are way over fifty bucks. I guess that leaves Tarjay. It's my favorite of the four stores anyway, though I prefer shopping at small businesses over the Big Box stores...
Hm. If I couldn't use coupons and had to shop for some Black Friday doorbuster, in the spirit of the question, I would use the $50 off $100 purchase I saw advertised for Target today and get Sophia the motorized scooter I saw advertised for $90, with a 20% Cartwheel, bringing this $250 item down to $72... and then I'd get $28 worth of Littlest Pet Shop toys for her to bring my total up to the requisite hundred bucks. In the end, after my gift card, I'd have paid nothing but a few dollars' tax. Now I wish I'd done that! Haha!
3) Star Wars items are predicted to be big sellers this Black Friday. Are you a big sci-fi fan? Are there any sci-fi fans on your holiday gift list? 
I am not. Not at all. But Chloë is enormously into Harry Potter right now (she's on book 6 of 7 but has not seen any of the movies yet), so I'm sure her Christmas presents will largely focus on that. ;)

4) Feasting and football are also popular Thanksgiving weekend pastimes. Do your Thursday-Sunday plans include pigging out or watching a game?
Having had gastric bypass surgery, there is no pigging out going on for me, ever again. I had intended to watch my alma mater (U Miami) play against Pitt today, but I napped through the whole thing! Ah, well. At least we won! #GoCanes #AllAboutTheU!

5) At Thanksgiving dinners, Crazy Sam's homemade gravy is always a hit. (Probably because she's so generous with the cognac, which gives the gravy a nutty taste.) Do you have a signature dish?
I didn't do any cooking or baking (my specialty) this year for Thanksgiving, sadly. I've been getting sicker and sicker since May, and now my energy is completely depleted while my pain is often unmanageable. Rob had to cook the whole dinner, which was great, but he does not bake. So, we didn't have any pie, because I refuse to have store-bought when it just doesn't meet our high gastronomic demands. I'm hoping I'll be doing great by Christmas, after a transfusion, and will shine then!
Also, that gravy sounds enviable! I want some!

6) What did you give thanks for on Thanksgiving 2015?
My family, of course. They accept me and support me no matter what. Without their love, I might not be here still.
7) Monday is Cyber Monday, when shoppers can save big online. Do you shop confidently over the Internet, or do you worry about security breaches and identity theft? 
I have actually been the victim of identity theft through Walmart's (surprise, surprise) website. I loathe that store anyway, so I just avoid shopping there online or at the brick-and-mortar stores at all costs. If I have to go, I pay cash.
Because of the repeated security breaches at Target, I don't shop online there, either. I get a little more skeered each time some news comes out about another incident, but for the most part, I don't worry too terribly much. I check my bank account incessantly, though!
8) This week's featured band, Los Bravos, was international. Their members came from both Germany and Spain. If you could travel to any foreign country in the world, which would you choose?
That's an easy one: Australia. I'd give anything. Even being sick, I'd go right now.

9) The band's name, Los Bravos, can be translated to mean, "The Brave." Do you consider yourself gutsy?
Not in any sense of the word. Because I'm still fighting after everything I've gone though, people constantly call me "strong." I disagree. I just feel like it's the only option I have, to maintain my integrity to continue. Is that gutsy? I really don't know. It's not for me to decide. :)

Saturday 9 & Sunday Stealing Combo Weekend

I wasn't feeling well Saturday, so I didn't get to post my Sat9 answers. I'll answer them in combo with this week's Sunday Stealing, since so many of you participate in both memes. Link up here if you want to join in Saturday 9 this weekend!

Saturday 9: Thriller (1983)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) In this video, Michael Jackson is transformed into a "werecat," with fangs, claws, yellow eyes and whiskers. What monster or ghoul frightened you the most?
Definitely Freddy Kreuger of the Nightmare on Elm Street series; I was so scared of him that I would jump from my bedroom doorway to my bed without hitting the floor, lest he be hiding underneath. Confession: He still scares me! ;)

2) Michael sings that evil things that will be lurking "close to midnight." Where will you be at midnight tonight?
Like I said, I felt crappy, so I passed out on the couch around 6:30 PM. I slept for eight hours, and now it's the middle of the night, so here I am!

3) Horror movie icon Vincent Price does the voice over on "Thriller." What's your favorite scary movie? 
I don't really like scary movies, because I'm quite the chickenshit when it comes to that stuff. I can't even read scary stories, because I close my eyes at the bad parts. I do like thrillers, though, so I'll say it's The Silence of the Lambs.

4) Mr. Price's House of Wax, made in 1953, was one of the first 3D movies. What's the most recent 3D movie you saw?
I think we saw something in 3D recently, maybe Tomorrowland or Pixels, but I can't remember. Both were great, with the former being very inspiring and the latter being very reminiscent of my 80s childhood. ;)
5) Horror fans might be surprised to know that, despite his sinister image, Mr. Price enjoyed very genteel and relaxing hobbies, like cooking, gardening and painting. What would we be surprised to learn about you?
Probably very little; I'm an open book. Maybe that with all my neuroses, including OCD, my house is often a disaster! :\
6) A Halloween tradition is the jack-o-lantern. Did you carve a pumpkin this year?
Le sigh. Noooo... In years past, we would do this early and the pumpkin would be fine, but here in Miami, it rots after a day. I saved it until the last minute, therefore, and we ended up not having time. Bummer.

7) According to Yahoo!, the most popular costume of Halloween 2014 was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Will you be in costume this Halloween? If not, who or what would you most like to dress up as?
Hubs and I dressed up as the Naughty Schoolmaster and his Student this year, but that was for a party last weekend. We were going to dress up for the actual day, but I just wasn't up to it.

8) When you went trick or treating as a kid, did you usually wear a store-bought costume, or was it DIY?
Always DIY as a kid! My kids have had about 50/50 DIY and store-bought, thinking back over the 15 Halloweens I've been a mom...
9) When trick-or-treaters show up at your door, what candy will they get?


They were greeted with this assortment, but we didn't get too kids many this year. I'm trying to refrain from touching it. On the other hand, the Laffy Taffy has done me in this year!

Coming up Sunday Stealing!

* * *


Link up here if you're stealing today, too!

Halloween Meme

Are you scared of bats? 


Not at all. When I was in grad school, I found a tiny bat on the verge of death after smashing into my office's window. I tried to nurse him back to health, even contacting my former professor who studied bats, but he didn't make it. :(

When you were a kid, did you go out on Mischief Night? (Mischief Night is an informal holiday on which children and teens engage in pranks and minor vandalism. While its name and date vary from place to place, it is most commonly held near the end of October to coincide with the night before Halloween)

No, I never did anything like that, but we definitely were the recipients of it when I was growing up. Many a smashed pumpkin and some vandalism to some of our cars happened.

What is your favorite trick-or-treat candy? 

Historically, it was chocolate and most notably Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. However, now that Candy Tax is paid to Daddy. Mom is trying to completely refrain. It's weight-gain season for me, and I don't wanna participate this year!

Have you ever seen a ghost? 

No, and I don't believe I ever will.

The most memorable costume you ever wore? 


Maybe this Angel/Devil costume I wore in 2012 to a concert and party afterward. I got a lot of attention there - not necessarily wanted!

Do you dress up on Halloween? 


We tried to get into the fun of it, yes!

Any cooking or baking you do for Halloween? 


I do if I have time, but this year and last year, I have not. These Halloween chocolate cat cookies were from 2013.

 Have you ever been to The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland or Disneyworld? 

Yes! We took the kids to Disneyworld for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in 2006. Of course, we visited the Haunted Mansion during that event. Great fun!

Any element of the season you don’t like? 

I hate rushing from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas so quickly. I've seen Christmas trees and decorations in stores all this month, in October FPS! Sloooooow it down, retailers!

What is your favorite scary movie? 

I do not like scary movies, Sam I Am! I'm too skeeeeered.

 Do you cook the pumpkin seeds from your carved jack-o-lanterns?

 Traditionally, yes, though not when we have done the now-too-commonplace Puking Pumpkin!

 Are you intrigued by vampires? 

Nah. Totally not my thing.

What is your favorite written work of horror fiction? 

No! Just no. I tried to read Stephen King's The Shining when I was in high school, but I just couldn't get through it. I haven't read anything like that since.

What is your favorite work of science fiction/fantasy? 

Fantasy and Sci-Fi are completely out of my wheelhouse, but I am enthralled with The Hunger Games series. I love, love, love it and can't wait for the last movie installment this month. Woo!

Who is your favorite monster? 

Cookie Monster, duh!

What is your favorite Horror movie? 

I've seen all of The Nightmare on Elm Street movies. I don't know if I could call those my favorite, but I don't have a whole lot to go on there.

What horror movie gives you the most chills? 

When I was seven, right after my mother died, my dad had my sister and me watch The Children of the Corn. Um, no. Don't do that. #ParentingFail

What character from any horror film would you most like to play?


I wouldn't. Listen, this $#!t scares me! I'm chicken! Bring on the shiny, happy unicorns pooping Skittles and rainbows, okay?!!

Thanks for stopping by, y'all. Happy November!


Saturday 9: It Don't Come Easy

Link up here if you're joining in the fray this weekend!

Saturday 9: It Don't Come Easy (1971)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This was Ringo's first big hit as a solo artist. Who is your favorite member of his old, very famous group, The Beatles?
I really don't have one. I could not even begin to select a favorite. Sorry.
2) In this song, Ringo sings that you have to pay your dues. Do you belong to any organizations that require you to pay dues?
At this moment, I don't, but I have thought about rejoining Mensa. I got my Mensa card and membership when I was about 22, when I was a young doctoral student feeling very insecure about my own intelligence. I needed it to prove to myself that I wasn't an idiot, I guess. Academia was overwhelming me at that point in my life.

3) He also sings, "you don't have to shout." When did you last raise your voice?
Last night. Listen, in a boisterous family such as mine, with a half-deaf husband who never lowers his voice, three zany kiddos, two dogs, four cats, and me? I often need to raise my voice in order to be heard.

4) Ringo has two piercings on each ear and one tattoo on each arm. Do you have more piercings or body art?
I have four holes in each ear, and my nose is pierced. That's it for me so far, but that may change in the future. And that's all I'm gonna say about that right now.
5) Ringo gave his first wife, Maureen, a one-of-a-kind birthday gift. Frank Sinatra made a recording of "The Lady Is a Tramp" personalized to her. Tell us about one of your most memorable birthday celebrations.
My most memorable birthday occurred when I turned 25. I had just given birth the day before for the first time, to Chloë Raine, but she was in the NICU while I recovered apart from her, from an emergency c-section. People were sending two sets of flowers to the hospital, for my birthday and for her birth, and I was so caught up in the wondrousness of being a nervous first-time mom that I forgot about my own birthday. That was on September 8, 2001, so three days before the terrorist attacks. Talk about tumult, especially since Hubs was on paternity leave from active duty service in the Navy at the time.
Also, when I was 17, I made my father an apple pie for his birthday. It was my first apple pie. He asked me to hold it up so he could take a picture. I had done an elaborate lattice top crust on the pie, so Dad asked me to tilt the pie up for the photo, and all of the innards of the pie slid out, onto the floor. After the shouting and hollering that ensued, we about laughed our fool heads off. Ah, well. The rest of it was still good!

6) Ringo appeared as Mr. Conductor on Thomas the Tank Engine. He recorded the narration for the entire first season in just a week. Tell us what you did last week. 
Well, this week (because I can scarcely remember last week, an ongoing situation) saw me going to downtown Miami, an hour away, for two separate doctor visits with University of Miami clinicians. On Tuesday, I saw my fibromyalgia specialist for the first time. I think she will really be able to help me get the intense daily pain I've been experiencing since May under some semblance of control.
Thursday was even better. I took 14-year-old Chloë, who is extremely petite and who has been diagnosed with "idiopathic short stature," to her pediatric endocrinologist. (Jack, who is also significantly small for 12 years, sees him as well, but he has a different diagnosis of pituitary dwarfism.) Anyway, Chloë should have been tested years ago, while Rob was still Active Duty Navy, for her delayed growth. The testing was finally done this year, and she just got news that she has been given approval for growth hormone shots! It would be an understatement to say that she is elated:

7) Ringo also did the narration for Ladybird children's books. Do you like audiobooks?
I have hated having someone read to me since I learned to read at three years old. I wanted to do it myself! But on the recent spate of long road trips we have taken, I listened to an audiobook or two while I drove. I didn't care for it, particularly, because I thought the tone of voice and inflections in each sentence were all wrong. On the other hand, I never take the time to read a book anymore, and I really wanted to read these books, so I definitely saw the value in them.

8) As a boy in Liverpool, Ringo loved watching American westerns. His passion for the genre is reflected in the outfit he's wearing on the sleeve for "It Don't Come Easy." Do you like cowboy movies/shows?
Nope, not my thing at all.

9) You know what else don't come easy? Nine questions every week. Crazy Sam has heard it all: this meme asks too many movie questions, too many questions about sports, too many questions that sound familiar ...  OK, now it's your turn. Help a tired meme mistress out. Contribute a random question that is not about movies or sports (pro or collegiate) and has never been asked before on this meme. Sam will compile these for an all-random Saturday 9 in November. That way she'll get a much-appreciated week off. Thanks for your help!
What's the perfect sandwich, complete with just the right bread, just the right fillings, condiments, and garnishes, and what kind of sides does it require? Chips? Pickles? Potato salad? (I say the word "pickle" a lot - don't ask - so I started with that thought. Haha.)

Saturday 9: That's All

Link up here if you're playing along this weekend!

Saturday 9: That's All (1983)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In the lyrics, Phil Collins sings of a time he was wrong when he thought he was right. Tell us about a recent time when you got it wrong.

Oh gosh. I get it wrong all the time. My biggest mistake was moving us out of our house in Va Beach into a rental, with plans to make the VB house saleable. That didn't work out at ALL. That, my friends, was a huge FAIL. We try not to talk about it now.

2) The song is addressed to a lover that Phil clearly feels is contrary. When he says, "day," she says, "night." Is there anyone in your life who seems to disagree with you all or most of the time?

Yeah, Hubs! We are definitely "day" and "night" people. Sometimes we clash, but most of the time we just really complement each other well. It works out.

3) This was Genesis' first Top 10 hit in the US. Can you name another Phil Collins or Genesis song? 

My favorite song is the one that goes, "You have no right.... to ask me how I feel.... You have no right, to speak to me so kind." I can't think of the name of it off the top of my head, but it's a Phil duet with a woman, and I lurve it.

4) Phil Collins is a model train enthusiast. Is there anything special that you collect?

Shot glasses from all my travels are my main collection. I love them!

5) Collins was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. At the ceremony, he delivered the commencement address. When did you last give a presentation or deliver a speech? 

Not since grad school have I given a real, professional presentation, so we're talking about 17 years... It's NOT my favorite thing!

6) One of Phil Collins' early solo albums was called, Hello, I Must Be Going. He took the title from a song in the 1930 Marx Bros. movie, Animal Crackers. What's the last black and white movie or TV show that you watched?

I couldn't even begin to tell you. It has been far too long. Probably the beginning of Wizard of Oz...

7) In 1983, when this song was popular, the Lotus 1-2-3 program made it easier for PC users to build spreadsheets. Are you answering these questions on a PC or a Mac? Laptop or desktop? Tablet or phone?

On a PC desktop. It's my favorite medium for computerating.

8) 1983 is also the year when McDonald's introduced McNuggets. What's your favorite chicken recipe (assuming it's not McNuggets)?

I like doing the chicken en papillote as we discussed in prior weeks. No-fail, easy, simple clean-up, and always delish. WINNER!

9) In 1983, President Reagan signed the bill making Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday a holiday. What's your favorite holiday?

The American Independence Day is my favorite. I love everything about it... except, maybe, the abundance of country music that plays during many fireworks shows. I could do without that. ;)

Thanks for stopping by!


Glad To Go, But Aiken To Leave

Unknown Mami

 Link up with Unknown Mami HERE if you're participating today! (warning: this is a long and photo-rich post)

So on August 8th, after a conversation with my dad, I became sufficiently panicked about there being a life-or-death situation happening in his home that I booked a hotel room for that Monday-thru-Friday for myself and the rest of Team Odette. I booked, then informed Rob that we had to go to South Carolina. Such is not like me, but I was desperately concerned and not sure what I would find. Long story short, my dad was severely depressed, barely eating anything, suffering from a bad case of shingles, and so on and so forth. I was, to put it mildly, worried.


I had two priorities for my visit to see my dad last week: Get him to go to a doctor, for maybe the first time in his entire life, and cook enough to fill his freezer full of delicious and easy-to-reheat meals. He is a major meat-and-potatoes guy, whereas I'm mostly vegetarian, so this presented somewhat of a challenge for me.


For months, Dad had been singing the praises of Aldi to me, but the one time I tried to go, I was not aware ahead of time that I needed a quarter to rent a shopping cart or that I needed to bring my own bags and boxes, so I never even made it inside the store. This trip, however, Dad was determined to get me inside the store, and so I took my father shopping at Aldi in Aiken.


I went up and down each aisle with my dad, who normally subsists on unhealthy convenience foods, explaining about olive oil being a much healthier alternative to other vegetable-based oils and extolling the virtues of getting a well-balanced diet with well-rounded nutrition for his aging body's needs. He mostly smirked in his "Sure, I"ll humor you, Mel" way, but I think some of it got through.


We arrived on Monday, checked in to our craptastic Howard Johnson motel on Whiskey Road in Aiken (if I could give it negative stars on Trip Advisor, I totes would), and I met up with my dad to do the shopping. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I cooked pretty much the whole day. I had to remember he wanted ground beef in his lasagna, so that was different for me. I promise I didn't cringe; I'm a non-judgemental veggie. I did his roast chicken and his pot roast in the crockpot his ex-wife had left behind. I made a shrimp scampi, baked cheesy artichokes with a lemon aioli dip for him to share with Rob one night, and so much more.

The most tempting for me, though, were the giant blackberries in the impossibly enormous muffins I made him. Whilst they cooled, I eyed those things ferociously, but I quickly popped them individually into the freezer before I took a nibble or ten. However, you can bet your sweet patoot that I bought some blackberries yesterday, and I plan on a repeat of that recipe for Team Odette in the extremely near future. My mouth is officially watering!


On Tuesday, while I cooked up a storm and dirtied every pot, dish, and utensil in Dad's meager kitchen, I dropped off Rob and the kids at Richardson's Lake down the road from the house. Despite my urgings, Hubs took not one single photo, so I had to steal this one off of Google Images. The kiddos had the time of their lives, swimming, jumping and diving, while Rob watched from his position in the sand. And still, I cooked, bagged, labeled, and froze the food for Dad.

Equine Rescue 031

Unfortunately, the kids forgot (and Rob didn't remind them) to reapply their sunscreen, so a week later, all are still suffering the effects of sunburnt faces. They look cute with some pink coloring on their faces, sure, but we all know that such damage is no bueno. There's Sophia on my dad's loveseat. I took a few pics inside his beach-themed home to help practice on his little digital camera, with which he was itching to become acquainted.

Equine Rescue 003

Chloë, who probably got the worst sunburn of them all, relaxed in Dad's living room after the visit to the lake. The kids fell asleep, all of them, on the living room floor while I fixed the shrimp scampi for their dad and grandfather.

Equine Rescue 028

Jack, of course, is never one to enjoy getting his photo taken. I don't know why; he's as cute as a button, but whatevs. Paco was happy to oblige me, right?!

* * * * * * * *

Equine Rescue 005

On Wednesday, before I got into the big cooking job of the day, Dad wanted to take us down the road from his house to the Equine Rescue of Aiken. They have about 70 rescued horses, among other animals, on acre after acre of beautiful pasture. Forgive my lack of proper terminology here, because I don't really know horse lingo too well, but I was wholly impressed by this privately-owned operation.

Equine Rescue 008

We were given a private tour of the facility by Caroline, who was extremely knowledgeable not only about the horses but also the ins and outs of running the Equine Rescue. I hadn't brought my wallet with me to the shelter, but I definitely plan to make a pilgrimage back to the Rescue every time we go visit my dad from here on out and, not just but partly because Sophia is such a huge horse lover, support their efforts.

Equine Rescue 011

 We had suspicious about why some of the horses were wearing these blinder-thingies, but we were all wrong; it was to help keep the flies out of their eyes.

Equine Rescue 018

I can't remember this woman's name, but she came up to us and offered assistance. Before our complimentary golf court tour with Caroline, she educated us on horses near the parking area. She was great with horses and kids alike, and she took it in complete stride when Sophia pointed out some kind of injury or infection on this horse's leg. 

Equine Rescue 024

On our tour, Caroline took an abundance of questions, mostly from me, with a great degree of both patience and knowledge. She also stopped frequently to let the kids off and pet the horses that were approachable. This one was so sweet; Sophia and Chloë bounded up the fence - and would have gone over it - to visit this guy!

The Aiken Equine Rescue visit was incredibly impressive. I'm so thankful my father had the idea for the field trip. We'll definitely be back! You can follow them on Facebook here, especially if you're near the Aiken/Augusta area of the world.

* * * * * * * *


Armed with the knowledge that the Odettelettes are major animal lovers, my dad suggested another great field trip for Thursday. I wanted him to take it easy and not feel like he had to entertain us, since he was feeling awful and I was there to take care of him, but he insisted he was up to it. And so, we ventured out the the Aiken SPCA (here is their Facebook page).


All three kids are enormous cat lovers, so of course they were in seventh heaven the moment we walked up and saw several in the windows. Before we got there, I warned the kids at least twice but maybe thrice that NO PETS WOULD BE COMING HOME with us to Miami!


I loved this sign. It warmed the cockles of my heart.


I don't know who was more active in there, the kids or the animals wanting to be adopted. Photography was not ideal. I don't like the motion setting on my Nikon, so... what you get is what you get.


Chloë will grow up to be (and frankly already is) a crazy cat lady, I have no doubt. She wants to be a cat-specific veterinarian, and I'm quite certian she would marry her Maine Coon, Pepper, if interspecies weddings were legal!


Stupid comment, maybe, but I just think itty-bitty Jack with a normal-sized watch on his wrist makes for a super cute image...


"Hi there, please adopt us?"


Sophia had a blast playing with this trio of kitties. They were in a display room that could be seen from outside, and once we discovered we could actually enter the rooms that didn't specifically prohibit it, oh ma gaw. The kids were giddy with excitement.




My dad and one of the SPCA residents, which is funny because he's notoriously not a cat lover


I'm partial to white cats myself. I'd love a Persian or Himalayan someday, but yeah. The expense is something I can't stomach!


The kids get their love of cats from Hubs. He would adopt ALL THE CATS if his wife would allow it.


Oh, somebody discovered El Gato Blanco.


These three puppies got out when we were trying to get in. Hysterical puppy chasing ensued. The volunteer in that area was less than amused. Don't worry; I made up for it.


That's Sophia for you, making friends everywhere she goes!


Finally, we got those puppies back in their room. I stayed outside to help corral them when Chloë and Jack emerged from their playtime!


Oops, my corralling efforts were to no avail! At least the volly was in better humor about the escape artists the second time!


I can't remember this pup's name, but she was beautiful, I thought. She was definitely eager to find a new family and home!


This nine-year-old pooch is Mitsy. I fell in love at first sight when I saw her. She needs me. SHE. NEEDS. ME. If she's still there when/if we move to the Space Coast next Spring, count on an adoption!


Another playful pup


Rob is much more a cat-person than a dog lover, but he's an all-around animal lover like the rest of his nonetheless. He prefers large dogs, which makes his deep affinity for our Chihuahua, Paco, all the more strange.



This employee came into the canine quarters to let me visit with Mitsy up close and personal. Holy crap, did we bond. I loved her, she loved me... she NEEDS me, people!!!


Sophia wanted to get into this room, but these two dogs were SO excited by her visit, they started getting jealously snarly with each other. I made her exit the room post haste.


A much calmer resident


We weren't allowed to visit or, if we had wanted to, adopt this guy. I don't know what kind of broken home he came from, but apparently he did not have auspicious beginnings at the shelter. Poor dude. I hope his situation improves.


Jack: "Look at these three puppies, Mom! Can we take them home?"

Me: "NO."


Sophia wanted to visit the trio, too. She implored similarly to Jack. My answer was the same: NO!


There were a number of thought-provoking quotes on the walls of the shelter. This is the one I loved the most.


Remember the three escape-artist puppies from earlier? Their escapades wore them out. It's possible they got even cuter!


On our way out of the SPCA, we noted the kittens were equally, er, fatigued. Three Odette kiddos will do that to ya!

* * * * * * * *


I don't remember ever having been in a Hobby Lobby in my life, but Dad wanted to visit and get some Christmas ideas for the kids. WOW! I'm not sure I agree with their politics, but I found lots of great inspiration for decorating our next home in there. As for Jack, he found what he wanted for Christmas. The boy, he looks his flying machines.


When we passed the art prints, the girls picked this one out of a myriad of images and almost in unison exclaimed, "We did this in Art class!" Indeed, they did make their own versions of this famous Kandinksy work, and I was proud and pleased that they remembered it!

082314 Chloë, Artist Kandinksy

Here was Chloë's interpretation of the above Kandinksy. I had encouraged them to put their own unique flair in their assignments, and clearly Chloë ran with the idea.


I found this photo and had to show it to Rob. I need this in our house! I tease him all the time about his apish, freakishly-long arms, and he returns the teasing about my freakishly-short, T.Rexian limbs. This, therefore, elicited quite a few laughs from us!

* * * * * * * *


Finally, despite a light drizzle (which we're used to during the six+ months of rainy season here in South Florida), Dad suggested we go down to the Augusta Riverwalk to walk around and burn off some steam. In all the 21 years and change that he has lived in Aiken, surprisingly I have never visited this riverfront spectacle. Dad knows I'm never without my camera, so he obligingly posed for some photos alongside the kids.


Rob, Chloë, and Sophia looking out over the Savannah River


There was a fountain in the street near the Riverwalk, and since they were already being rained upon, I relented and let them go run over and indulge themselves in further soaking. They didn't want to come out, it was so much fun. They wanted to go in again when we circled 'round and headed back to Miranda (our minivan), but I declined. No towels in the van = no dice.


Also at the Riverwalk was an amphiteater for concerts and other performances. The girls ran up and down the stairs in a vignette that reminded me of Heath Ledger in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. Am I alone here in remembering this scene?


A soaked Chloë by yet another watery feature


There were plaques memorializing those from the area who fought and died in various conflicts. We read them in silent respect, as our family is steeped in military history. My dad, a former member of the Coast Guard, paused for a photo.


Sophia had a mouth booboo, blisters on her feet, and a headache by that time, so instead of lingering, we headed back to the van at last. The Riverwalk isn't big on things to do, per se, but it more than makes up for that in beautiful scenery. I'm glad we went!

* * * * * * * *


On Friday, we drove home from South Carolina. I was feeling as miserable as Sophie, or we might have visited throughout the day before leaving, but I was eager to get on the road. I had even gone to the Emergency Department in Aiken the night before with a severe migraine I couldn't bring under control with my meds, and added to that a very upset tummy, well... let's just say the normally 9½-hour trip took several hours longer! Paco and Henry, our youngest kitty, were certainly glad to see each other again. I think the cats missed us, too...


Wordless Wednesday: Cooking With Jack


Jack loves to help out with cooking and baking, I think more than his sisters. The other day, he wanted to make Strawberry Shortcake from the Bisquick recipe. I directed him, but he did the whole thing himself.




I just love the look of intense concentration on his face.



He was as proud of his results as the girls were to eat them!


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Sunday Stealing: Get It All Down Meme


Cheers to all of us thieves!
Get It All Down Meme

Stolen from: My Random Randomness

  • Are you a good dancer?

I'm okay at home, but I have issues dancing in public.

  • Are you a good singer?

I'm all right, but I'm no Streisand.

  • Are you a good cook?

The James Beard Foundation isn't going to come knocking anytime soon, but the rest of Team Odette seems pretty happy with it. When I'm manic, I bake and cook enough for an army. It used to be great when Hubs had an appetite. Now I have to be careful not to be wasteful. 

  • Are you a good artist?

I'm just half-decent, and that's all. Sophia, my 10-year-old, is forever artsing and crafting, though. She does some pretty cool stuff.

  • Are you a good listener?

It's not my finest attribute... :\

  • What's your favorite clean word?

I couldn't think of anything in English, so I'm saying this instead: My husband loves to drink an Arnold Palmer (half-iced tea, half-lemonade). I can't say this man's name to save my life. It's the worst tongue-twister for me EVAHHHH. I can't even say it properly in my head. So when I run to the Racetrac or whatever, and I offer him one and say it right? Major cause for self-praise.

When I'm feeling really emphatic, I like to throw out a whole conglomeration of curse words. George Carlin would've adored me.

  • What's your least favorite word?

Any kind of derogatory term for someone's culture, heritage, race, creed, you get the picture. I hate slurs.

  • What was the last film you saw?

We saw Tomorrowland in the IMAX theater a few weeks ago. It was epic awesomeness. I came away feeling completely inspired. I hope my kids did, too.

  • What football team do you support?

Gotta support the alma mater!

  • Have you ever been bobbing for apples?

Once. I was eight or nine years old, and my step-family's friends had a Halloween party.  I had forgotten about that rare fun moment during that decade of my life.

  • What's your most expensive piece of clothing?

Honestly, the name brands I wear are, like, Crocs and Old Navy. I do have a few designer items like Calvin Klein and DKNY or whatever, but I got them secondhand from thredUP. For what it's worth.

  • What's the last thing you took a picture of?

Sophia Ginger

Sophia begged me to turn her blond hair red. I didn't wanna! Hubs said she could. We discussed. End result: blondie is now a ginger. I it!

  • What's the last thing you drew a picture of?

I don't do a lot of drawing these days, but mostly I doodle botanical things, like ferns and daisies, when I'm on the phone.

  • Have you ever bought anything from eBay?

Oh, yes. Sophia (this is a Sophie-heavy post, huh?) is obsessed with all things Littlest Pet Shop lately, so my latest find was a "rare" (she says, and I did not verify, but awesomely inexpensive) LPS from either Taiwan or Hong Kong, I forget. It took 17 days to get here. She hounded the postal carrier daily for that package. Oh, the squeals, when it finally got here on Thursday!

  • Have you ever invented a fairly unique meal or drink?

Hubs says I create great, unique meals all the time (drinks, not so much), but I didn't know what he was talking about. He specified the foil meals I mentioned in yesterday's Saturday 9 post! Cooking en papillote is fantastic. (Psst, Country Dew - They're great in the oven as well as the grill, and I swear to you, you can't mess 'em up. I generally use heavy duty foil instead of parchment paper, though.)

  • Do you have any secret family recipes?

I don't think so. My grandmother was a great cook, but she died before I could get any recipes from her. I don't remember my mom's cooking at all, except for two things: Pumpkin pie, which I'm certain was the Libby's can recipe my home-ec teachin' mamacita-in-law swears is the only one to use, and Chicken a la King, which made my sister and I feign many an upset stomach. To this day, I have never eaten that.

I swear by the Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe, incidentally.

Welp, that's all for the Smellyann Sophia and Cooking Show for today.

Enjoy your day, all ye dads!


Sunday Stealing: Swiped Meme


Link up here if you're swiping today!

Swiped Meme

Stolen from: Get It All Down

Do you need to write down things to remember them?


Abso-freaking-lutely! If it doesn't get written down, it doesn't get done.

Do you keep a diary/journal?

You're looking at it, Sweetheart!

Are you scared of thunderstorms?

Not since I was about six. Now, I love them. Unless the power goes out for six days. That, not a fan.

Do you have any unusual fears or phobias?


You're looking at my absolute worst nightmare. If mustard touches me, If freak out. If it were all over me, like this, ohhhh hell naw.

Whats your favourite Disney movie?


Finding Nemo, of course! And yes, I did just go to Kohl's and get a Dory stuffy for my bed, because like I recently mentioned, she is so me! And she shall be my squishy.

Have you ever painted a house?


The outside? No. But I had painted the interior walls of our Virginia Beach house every color of the rainbow. Except puce and chartreuse. It's driving me insane living in a box with white walls right now, y'all.

What's the tallest tree you've ever climbed?

I used to climb the tree in our front yard in Monroe, NY, until we moved when I was six. At the time, it seemed huge... now, I'm not so sure it was much bigger than a stick. Who knows?

Do you always wear identical socks?


Dudes. I can count on zero fingers the number of times I've worn socks at all in the past year. I live for being barefoot!

Do you live by any motto or philosophy?


My motto has long been: "If you want something done right the first time, you've got to do it yourself." 

Do you lick the yogurt or dessert lid?


Of course! Isn't that the best part?!

Do you lick the spoon clean after making something sweet?

Before children, of course. After children, I have to divvy up the spoon, the beater, and the bowl amongst the three of them!

Have you ever played the bongos?


On Halloween 2000, the night before we "met" online, Hubs went as a bongo-playing beatnik to a costume party. We still have those bongos. I, of course, have played them (however badly) on numerous occasions. They are now adorned with artwork from our youngest child, Sophia, who has came out of the womb wielding crayons...

Have you ever handled a snake?


When my sister was 16, she was emancipated, and she lived with her future husband - and Jade, a Florida King snake. I used to hold Jade and let her wriggle and writhe all over me. I was 15 and probably held her until I graduated at 17. I don't think I've held a snake since then...

Have you ever assembled furniture by yourself?

I have, even IKEA furniture. When Hubs was in the hospital one of the first times with his brain tumor, we had the kids up in Fort Lauderdale with friends for the extended visit. One night, I went all gung-ho and built the girls' dressers myself. It took ALL night, but I got it done. Woot!

When did you last go to the beach?

I was in Key West on Wednesday with the family. All Sophia (our artistic youngest child) wanted to do was wade in the water. We ate dinner - and yes, I had a rather large and delicious piña colada - shopped for towels since we hadn't brought any, and walked around endlessly to look for our cars after NOT wading in the water. I think she is still holding a grudge. We'll go back to Key West in the next week or two. Need anything? Gal??

When if ever did you last go to London?


The last time I was in London was in a previous life, I guess. It's still sitting on my bucket list. I'll get there. Ain't dead yet!

What do you do to cool down when it's hot?


Listen. I'm probably the only idiot in Miami who needs a heating pad. Too hot? You must be crazy. (My gastric bypass surgery took away my ability to regulate my body temperature. It's a curse my family must live with. MWAHAHAHA...)

What's the most unusual thing you've ever eaten?

Probably sea urchin sushi, which I highly do NOT recommend. I nearly barfed.

Do you have a favorite mug?


This is my mug, and I love it. Meh.

Do you know any self-defense or martial arts?

Image result for grab twist pull testicles

Not really. When we were in high school, we learned the bare minimum of self-defense, which consisted of "Grab, Twist and Pull" the testicles of any male attacker. That's pretty much all I got out of it, anyway. I've never used it...

Who's your favorite movie action hero?


Lately it's Iron Man. I'm not really an action movie type of girl, but let's face it: Robert Downey, Jr. is HOT.

Have you ever ridden a motorcycle?


I've ridden on the back of the bike with my uncle (scary on purpose) and my husband (scary NOT on purpose). I'm not a huge fan of either, but I'm too chicken to learn to drive one myself.

Do you collect anything?


I collect shot glasses. I just had to buy my third case. And yes, I have actually used a few of them, once or twice...

Is there anything you wish would come back into fashion?


I don't know or care much about fashion. I wear what I like.

Do you stick to conventional fashions or like to try and be original?


Like I just said... I wear what I like. Haters be damned. :P 

Have you ever given someone a handmade present?

I have. Sometimes you win some, sometimes you don't. Meh.

If you could have any feature from an animal what would you want?

Wings. I want freakin' wings. I want to fly. Someday... if it's the last thing I do...! ;)
Thanks for stopping by, y'all.

Sunday Stealing: Anyday Meme


Link up here if you're thievin' today, too!

Anyday Meme

Stolen from: Aromantic Aardvark

1. What is your dream career, and what path do you plan to take to get there? 

In a perfect world, I would be an author. I love writing. However, I'm lazy. I've started a book, like, a year ago, but I only have the chapter outline finished. The actual writing is still all in my head. Someday, someday... I will have the guts to get it out.

 2. Whom do you aspire most to be like? 

Image result for christ like

It's not the cool answer, but it's a true one: I am a Christian, and I aspire to be like Christ. Trust me, I fail a WHOLE lot. But I can keep trying.

 3. What do you like in a best friend? 

My best friends share the same qualities: Loyal and supportive, funny as hell, smart as whips, and tell me the truth when I really need to hear it.

4. Do you currently have any squishes (people you really want to be best friends with)? 

This question is silly. Next?

5. What is your ideal platonic relationship? 

That would be my same answer as #3. My best friends are my ideal platonic relationships; except Hubs, of course, my true bestie.

6. Best late night IM/phone conversation story. 

When Hubs was in the hospital this past week, he literally called me every five minutes, all day long. Hundreds of calls. He was bored and lonely. Poor guy! (And yes, of course, I was over there visiting every day, several times.)

7. List one person you’d like to wear the sweater of, one person you’d like to bake cookies with, and one person you’d like to drive around and get lost with. (can be celebrities or fictional characters, has to be three different people and not all the same person) 

I don't understand the sweater question?? But I don't want to wear a sweater, because that would mean it's cold outside, and I don't do cold, y'all.

I pity the fool who doesn't know Martha Stewart is my idol, so I would looooove to bake cookies with her!

And honestly, I would not like to drive around and get lost, either. I have to know where I am going and where I am at all times, or I panic. Like, straight-up, full-on, panic. It's not a good time for me. (What the hell did I do before Google Maps and GPS?!)

8. Describe your current best friend(s). 

Image result for Lisa Sousou

You know all about Hubs, so I'll talk about my beloved "Dr. Lisa." I met her in middle school in sixth grade, and we've been friends for the 27 years since. We rarely argue, since she's so chill and accepting of the fact that I am not chill. We connect on an intellectual level, and she laughs at all my stupid jokes and antics. I love her to death. I also love that she's in the medical field and puts up with my calling her every time some health issue comes up - which is altogether too often. I love you, Dr. Lisa!

9. What is a strange, little-known fact about you? 

I have Tardive Dyskinesia, a side effect of taking my Bipolar Disorder medicine, Abilify. It drives me absolutely crazy: my legs are always twitching, and my face is always moving. My jaw goes up and down, my tongue gets stuck up in the roof of my mouth, and it even happens in public. I can't control it without a whole lot of concerted effort. I hate it!

10. What is a career you wanted to have when you were younger, and still kind of want to have now? 

I wanted to be a marine biologist throughout my teens. I studied to be a marine biologist. I was a marine biologist. I gave it up to get married and be Mom. I sometimes miss it... a great deal. But I would not give up being a wife and mom for anything. And the "What I actually do" part in the funny pic above? It is absolutely true.

11. If you could have tea and pleasant conversation with one person, who would it be? 

Kate Middleton. I don't know, I just like the looks of her. Yeah. Kate. (Congratulations on the Baby Princess, Mama!)

12. If you had a time machine, what era would you go to? 

I'd like to visit the 50s and go to a sock hop in a poodle skirt, but then I'd have to go back to the present, 'cause I could not settle for being a good little 1950s wifey. Yeah, I mean, that's what I do, but that's not what I am. If that makes sense.

13. What celebrity or historical figure would you love to have as your best friend and why? 

Are these two taking applications?

14. What fictional character would you love to have as your best friend and why? 

I would pick Anne. I loved the Anne of Green Gables books, and I think I would be a kindred spirit of hers. I love her!

15. If you could have one wish, what would it be? 


If I could wish for anything, and get it, I would wish that Hubs has a complete recovery and starts living the retirement that he absolutely deserves.

16. If you were trapped on a deserted island and could only take one item, what would it be? 

Sunscreen! I mean, there are a lot of things I would pick to take with me if I could, but I would be exposed to a lot of sunlight, and I am one pale-ass mofo, y'all. Or yeah, that hat.

17. If you could pick one career other than the one you are pursuing/plan to pursue, what would it be? 

In my wildest dreams, I would be a singer. A really good singer. So that won't happen...

18. What is your best memory you have with a friend? 


Nothing major. Just sitting, talking about nonsense, and laughing our fool heads off... those are the best times.

19. Do you have any peculiar interests that most people don’t know about? 


Yeah, I read celebrity gossip mags like Us Weekly and People. I like my celeb fix. I'm not too proud of it!

20. What were your favorite childhood toys? Do you still have them? 

I had three Cabbage Patch Kids: A white, redheaded one named Auberta Lenora; a black one I begged my racist (and probably bewildered) father for named Tiffany Jacqueline when I was eight; and then I got a brunette cornsilk one named Andrea Gina. Obviously, they meant a lot to me, since I still remember their names 30 years later! 

My daughters have them now. They don't appreciate the history that goes into them, either personally or culturally since that was when the Cabbage Patch craze swept the nation. They're wrecked now. I try not to be sad about it. They're just... things.

21. Favorite baked good? 

I don't like cake (unless its first name is Ice Cream!), but man, can I kill a batch of chocolate chip cookies. People used to ask me how I could still be chubby when I was a vegan. Dude. There ain't no meat in donuts.

22. If your best friend were here right now, what would you do with them? 

I don't know, we're both mommies and stuff now, so we'd probably just have our whole families together for a great dinner (maybe some Arab food, since her hubs is Palestinian), go swim in her pool (if we were up at her place in NY) or the beach (if we were here in Miami), and just lauuuugh and lauuuugh. Something simple but real.

23. Who would you love to play video games with? 

What am I, 12? No.

24. If you could visit any country, which one would it be? 

Hands-down, my top pick would be Australia. I can't wait to go someday.

25. Are there any friends you miss having around?

Why isn't this called the "friends meme"? Fo'real, yo. Anyway... yes! All of them! ALL!

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: Funky Twenty-Five Meme


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Funky Twenty-Five Meme

Stolen from: The now-defunct Tense Teacher
1. Most unflattering hairstyle you ever had? What made it so unflattering? 


When I shaved my head 2½ years ago in a fit of bipolar mania, that was pretty unattractive. Unless no-hair doesn't count as a hairstyle. I think it should. I have no occiput, which makes the shape of my head non-conducive to going bald. Ugh.

 2. Favorite movie(s) that were made in the 90's? 

Image result for titanic

"I'll never let go, Jack." - Titanic, probably my favorite 90s movie.

3. Do you rent movies? If so, from where? 

We have Amazon Prime, Netflix streaming and, when that's just not enough, we rent movies from the ol' Redbox down the road. I have a billion codes for free movies, so I only pay for them when I forget to return them by 9 PM the next night. Which is always.

4. Do you like cookies better when they're just out of the oven or after they've cooled? 

If the chocolate chip cookies make it out of dough form, IDGAF whether they're warm or cooled. Get in my belleh!!! (and the kids wonder why I don't bake more often. I never met a CCC I didn't love.)

5. Do you still talk to the person who gave you your first kiss? 

No. And I would, except his wife blocked me on Facebook, because she's apparently deluded into thinking he's actually a "catch." Um. Not.

6. Did you go to pre-school? If so, what was the name of it? 

Nope, I was advanced and went straight to kindergarten. Don't hate. ;)

7. How do you take your coffee? 

Enough cream to make it the color of Bambi - flavored, please, but I prefer hazelnut over peppermint, for the love - and depending whether it's a Grande or Venti (because Tall is for weenies, amirite) - three Splendas. I can't do real sugar, 'else I would.

Really, if I go to Starbucks, more likely than not, I'm getting a Grande or Venti Java Chip Frappuccino "Light" with coconut milk. That shit is GOOD. I still only drink a third of it before I get pukey, so the kids usually finish the rest.

8. Do you like fuzzy things? 


I'm a fan of Albert Einstein, so picking this image was a no-brainer. Of course I like fuzzy things. It's the opposite of, say, coarse sandpaper. Which is my least favorite thing on the planet. Eww.

9. Favorite kind of chocolate? 

White chocolate is dead to me. Dark chocolate is okay, but MILK CHOCOLATE IS WHERE IT'S AT, people!

10. Are you more optimistic or pessimistic? 

I'm definitely an idealist, and that does not translate well to pessimism. The few times I'm cynical about something, it's "write this down on the calendar" noteworthy!

11. What about peopleofwalmart.com? Do you think the site is mean, funny, or both? 

I have this motto: "Anything is okay, as long as it's funny." However, I don't find something that denigrates other people to be the standard by which humor should be measured, so it is not okay in my book. NOT funny.

12. Do you like fat sandwiches? If so, what does your favorite one have on it? 

I have a small jaw, so not too fat, please. My favorite sandwich is tuna from Subway on an Italian herbs and cheese roll. I put on Provolone cheese, lettuce, cucumbers, and oil and vinegar. Heavy on the acetic acid.

13. One restaurant you'd never been to but would like to go to?

There's a restaurant here in Homestead, Florida, called Mario's that is something of a fixture. They serve Cuban cuisine. It comes highly recommended to me, but I have yet to go. Soon, I hope...

14. Last time you got a haircut? Do you need one? 

I just got one at the beginning of the month. I was overdue. I'm good now. My stylist asked me to model for his web page when get it to the length and exact cut we want. Cool, huh? Little ol' me?!

15. What's your favorite pattern for clothing (stripes, plaid, etc.)? 

I like mixing patterns, but truth be told, my favorite pattern is paisley. I've never owned a single paisley thing. Why not? Gonna have to get me some. And not Brad.

16. What's your age backwards? 

I'll be 39 years old on my next birthday. I'm kind of stuck on that fact and couldn't get around to actually reversing the digits. When did I get so old?

17. When you see typos in a survey, do you correct them? 

Of course I do. I'm a Grammarly fan, aren't you?

18. When was your last vacation? Did you go someplace special? 

We went to Playa del Carmen, near Cancun, Mexico, in November. It was our first getaway as a couple since, I think, 2008. I guess you could call that special! We had a good time. Drinks were included, so of course it was.

19. What's your favorite kind of pancakes? 

I prefer Belgian waffles. With blueberries. Or strawberries. Or bananas. Or... okay, I can't lie. I can't eat them regardless. Too many carbs.

20. Do you like movies with computer graphics, like Avatar?


Burn! And unless it's Pixar or something, then I don't think I do?

21. Do you know how to sew? 

I sewed these shorts for Jack and Sophia when they were itty-bitties, when I was going through my sewing phase. I went a little crazy sewing at the time. Let's just say, thank goodness I knit better than I sew. I just couldn't really get the hang of it!

22. Are you good at wrapping gifts? 

I can be when I want to be, and usually I want to be.

23. Do you like flavored yogurt? 

Yes, but if it doesn't have strawberries in it, I pretty much don't want it.

24. How old will you be in December of 2015? 

We covered that already. 39 years old. I'm busy keeping 40 at bay, here.

25. What's the age difference between you and your siblings?


My oldest half-sister, Pamela, is... I have no clue how many years old. Maybe 50? I really don't know. I've never met her, and I probably never will. My sister, Stacey, just turned 40. She's 17 months older than I am. I'm the baby of the family. I'm pretty awesome, but I can be a spoiled, self-indulgent brat. I'm not my own biggest fan...!

Now that I'm finished, I'm going to go pop a Tramadol. And then probably another Fioricet. Pain sucks. I wish I could get off this merry-go-round; it's no fun!

Thanks for stopping by.


Sunday Stealing: Have You Ever?


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The Have You Ever Meme 

Stolen from: From My Random Randomness 

1) Have you ever gotten lost in a maze? 

An actual maze, or any modern hospital...?

2) Have you ever been attacked by a wild animal? 

No, but when I was an undergrad at the University of Miami, we were doing a survey out in the Dry Tortugas. I slipped between a bunch of mangrove prop roots and really tore up my leg. People asked what happened, and I invented all manner of shark-attack stories. I always admitted the truth, though!

{Don't they look fearsome?! ;)}

3) Have you ever ridden a camel? 

I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I have, but I was a little kid and knew nothing of the wrongness of such. I have also ridden an elephant and my own German Shepherd dog.

4) Have you ever pet a rat? 

I had a pet rat, named Barkley, after fifth grade. I loved that little boy. He was loads of fun, even though he outwitted all my attempts to keep him contained in his cage and chewed up all my stuff. What a fun critter!

5) Have you ever been a member of a gym? 


6) Have you ever been in a helicopter? 

Last year, in April or May, I wanted to take Sophia (then eight years old) on a helicopter ride at the airport in the Florida Keys. She was all gung-ho until we got into the chopper, and the pilot starter 'er up. At that point, she flipped OUT. Way OUT. "There are no sides?!" she screamed. She's probably scarred for life now. #MomFail

7) Have you ever cheated at a test? 

Once. In AP Biology class as a high school senior, I cheated on the Plants Unit test. I blew the curve on all the other exams in the class, and my classmates hated me for it, so I was due for a lower grade than perfection. Only, the pressure was so heavy, and I just never "got" plants as well as animals, and I peeked at someone else's paper. I probably didn't need to, since I still got the highest grade, but there was one question I did not know without looking. I'm so ashamed.

(However, I studied muy hard for my AP Bio Exam, and I got the highest grade of '5,' and it earned me two semesters' worth of college credit at UM. Without cheating. If that makes any difference...)

8) Have you ever ridden a tractor? 

I have had... relations on a tractor, decades ago. And that is all I am going to say about that. *COUGH*

9) Have you ever passed gas in an embarrassing situation? 

My nickname is "Smellyann," is it not?! Surely I have.

10) Have you ever played the bongos? 

Bongos cartoons, Bongos cartoon, funny, Bongos picture, Bongos pictures, Bongos image, Bongos images, Bongos illustration, Bongos illustrations

One of the first pictures I ever saw of Hubs was of him playing the bongos the day before we met. I have played those bongos. And I'll never forget that picture of him.

11) Have you ever handled a snake?


When I was in high school, my older sister had Jade, her pet Florida kingsnake. She had several others, but Jade was the only one I actually held and let slither and writhe around on me. Her hubs was breeding cool morphs on Ball pythons until recently; they numbered in the hundreds. In their basement. Not a huge fan, myself!

12) Have you ever assembled furniture by yourself?


Hey, I've bought furniture at IKEA, man.

13) Have you ever been SCUBA diving? 

C-card-carrying SCUBA diver here (PADI OW1)!

14) Have you ever had a disastrous interview?


I think the worst thing I ever did was forget to take out my nose ring when I interviewed at the law office. Meh, I still got the job.

15) Have you ever sold your services? 

Sure, what do you need?

16) Have you ever raised money for charity? 

Raised money for charity? Only my own, CARE Package, Inc., but even I can't find a link for that now.

17) Have you ever won a giant sized cuddly toy from a fair? 

Nope. Stupid, small stuffed banana? Check.

18) Have you ever milked a cow? 

Not yet. It used to be a bucket-list item, but now? Eh. Not really.

19) Have you ever used the phrase "back in my time" to someone younger than you? 


Yes, I have used it fairly recently with my own kids, caught myself, and then slammed my own head into the wall.

20) Have you ever invented a fairly unique meal or drink?

Oh, my gosh, you have to read this page! EWWWW!!!! (But nothing is grosser than Balut, right?!)

Okay, so I know you said "unique" and not "disgusting," but my brain interpreted it as "go find a picture of mealworm soup or something."

Anyway, nothing really interesting, but when I was in college, I'd make mashed potatoes with cheese, corn, garlic, and of course the usual suspects (salt, pepper, milk, and butter). I loved it. Hubs hates it, so I don't make that anymore. Wah.

So, what about you - eaten balut yet?


Sunday Stealing: The "Are You?" Meme

Link up here if you're joining us this weekend!

The Are You Meme 

Stolen from: From My Random Randomness 

1) Are you psychic in any way?

I don't know what I believe about that sort of thing, but I will say this: I get deja vu a LOT. I dream inane, mundane conversations and things that end up really occurring the next day or soon thereafter, all the time. It's so odd.

2) Are you a good dancer?

I dance sillishly to be funny now, but I was a dancer in my kidhood, and I was apparently pretty good... That was ages ago.

3) Are you a good singer?

I am a good back-up, choir-type singer. Lead singer material, I am not, though I have always wanted to be. I had strep several times in sixth grade, and it ruined my vocal chords for good.

4) Are you a good cook?

People seem to like what I make, usually. That's good enough for me.

My brother-in-law is a chef at his own restaurant, Sycamore, in Columbia, MO. You should go; the food is excellent.

5) Are you a good artist?

Not in the fine art sense of the word, but I'm pretty good with artsy-craftsy stuff. I do believe, however, I could be a decent artist with some training.

6) Are you a good listener?


No, it's something I continually need to remind myself to do. I'm a good interrupter, a good chatterer, but listening is hard for me. #TheStruggleIsReal

7) Are you a good public speaker?

Uh, no, not at all. I do not like attention focused on me, whether it's positive or negative attention, and I have panic attacks. Crying, shaking, the whole nine. Not a good scene.

8) Are you a good babysitter?

I love babies! BAAAAABIEEEEEES!!! (I think so?)

9) Are you a good mechanic?

Not in any sense of the word!

10) Are you a good diplomat?

I try very hard to be diplomatic, fair, and tactful. Sometimes I fail, but it's important to me.

11) Are you a good employee?

I love Dilbert! ;)

I am a very good employee. My one failure is timing. I hate being late, but sometimes I am.

12) Are you a good dresser?

It's not something I really care about, so probably not.

13) Are you a good swimmer?

I'm decent, but not great. Grandma made sure that I could tread water indefinitely when I was four or five years old, though! My sister, Stacey, and I were always in the community pool when we visited her and Grandpa, and it was important to her that we could swim and tread water so we could be in the pool by ourselves if she wasn't feeling it. She watched like a hawk, though!

14) Are you a good skier?

I've never gone downhill skiing. I used to like cross-country in P.E. back in high school. We certainly had enough snow and hills in Central New York, but I didn't go out for downhill ski club. Too afraid, I think I was... 

15) Are you a good gift giver?

Yes, I am! But I do appreciate appreciation in return. I recently gave a gift, and the recipient said, "Why did I get this? I wanted that!" Really? I was disgusted. Thankfully, it wasn't my own child who said that.

16) Are you a good musician?

Not really. I try, but I am pretty horrible at sightreading music. It just doesn't come naturally to me. I envy my good friend Shana's skillz, because she is a natural.

17) Are you a good comedian?

I've been told I'm funny and should do stand-up, but alas, that is like comic public speaking and... NO. Never gonna happen without drastically altering my state of consciousness.

18) Are you a good cleaner?

I am an awesome cleaner. I don't half-ass it, I clean until it's clean. However, I have 3 slobby kids (and a slobby husband), and we homeschool (and he's retired), and I do not like to waste my effort! So please don't pop in unannounced! ;)

19) Are you a good actor?

I recognize good and bad acting when I see it, and I recognize in myself that I would probably not produce the good kind.

20) Are you a good writer?

I like to think that I am, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? 

I have a book or nine in me. I just can't seem to draw them out. I think I'm afraid of success more than I am of faillure. Time will tell.

Well, howdy doody, I'm at the end!



Thanksgiving Week, 2014

DSC_0394 (2)

So, it's been busy around here, and Thanksgiving was over a week ago, but here I am posting about it just the same.

Let's see, what happened? 


My dad came to visit from South Carolina. Only, instead of arriving on Wednesday night like he had originally told me, he got here on Monday afternoon! Eek!

Victoria came to stay with us for the same week as well, because her mom, Veronica, was in the hospital giving birth to this little cutie:


Melodie-Grace, born 25 November 2014

I was kind of a wreck during that whole week (but I dutifully took my bipolar meds and tried my best to keep myself together), because:

1. We all had the flu,

2. Chloe ended up with pneumonia,

3. My dad was visiting us in Miami for the first time,

4. He's a total neat-freak,

5. My house is a perpetual mess,

6. I had a ton of cooking and baking to do for Thanksgiving,


7. There's this humongous side-drama bullshit going on simultaneously that few people know about, but I don't really want to go into right now.


It was fun, to say the least...


All Dad wanted for the week was some beautiful Miami weather, as a respite from the 30s he was experiencing back home in Aiken. Tuesday, he got his wish, so we went over to Biscayne National Park, which my kids have nicknamed "Remora Beach," and had a little bit of fun and a photo shoot.


Victoria joined us at Remora Beach, and the kids really just wanted to play in the water. Dad did not: it was pretty cold! And, like me, he is not fond of the cold. So, we did a little of that and a little walking around the park as a compromise to the children.


Despite having pneumonia, Chloe felt well enough to get off the couch and go with us. That day, anyway, was not bad... but I shouldn't have let her. She spent the next three days after that in complete misery, crying and barfing and aching and not eating and ugh! She lost a full pound, and for a tiny 13-year-old, it was a pound she could ill afford to lose.


We walked around the whole lagoon area, and the kids stopped and exclaimed multiple times over the fishies swimming in and around the mangroves. Sophie tried to tell me that she saw a barracuda, but having snorkeled with them myself many times, I simply did not believe her. I'm glad I didn't say as much out loud, though, because I would have eaten my words:


It was only a juvenile, but there it was, in living color, right in front of me! Oops. Sorry, Sophie.


Dad wanted me to take photos of him for his online dating profile. He's looking for his soulmate in his 70s, and I agreed to help him out!


On Wednesday, we were going to go to the pool, but it turned a little chillier, and Chloe became sicker, and I needed to bake my pies. We didn't, therefore, go.

Thursday, of course, was Thanksgiving Day. We don't have television service, so we couldn't begin my favorite way and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. However, my high school alma mater's current marching band performed in the parade, and they were pretty good!

It's actually C.W. Baker High School, not Baldwinsville HS, but close enough, eh?

We had a pretty good Thanksgiving feast with homemade everything. Can I tell you what it was, for posterity's sake? Good, I'm gonna:


  • Mimosas, for the adults (OJ for the kids)
  • Bacon & eggs
  • Banana Muffins with Sugar & Spice Butter
  • Lemon-Raisin Scones with Cranberry-Orange Butter


  • Spinach Ricotta Dip on Crostini
  • Pickle & Olive Plate
  • Mixed Cheeses and Crackers
  • Chocolates
  • Mixed Nuts


  • Rob's Famous Turkey and Gravy
  • Wine/Sparkling Grape Juice
  • Stuffing
  • Corn
  • Cranberry Relish
  • Potato-Leek Casserole
  • Cheddar-Pepper Biscuits with Thyme-Shallot Butter
  • Broccoli Custard


  • Dutch Apple Cream Pie
  • Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream
  • Strawberry Mascarpone Custard

I have to give credit to the November 2014 issue of Martha Stewart Living for several of the recipes, as well as for the front door decoration at the top of this post.

I love that woman!

Anyway, Dad left with a cold of his own (sorry, Pop!) on Friday morning instead of Saturday as planned. Maybe he'll come back, maybe we scared him off? I don't know.

All I know is, I am now hungry and all that yummy food is gone.

I hope you all had a lovely holiday with your loved ones, too.