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12/31/2004  

locks of love


Kari began growing her hair long in 2001. Her goal was to donate at least 10 inches to Locks of Love. On the 22nd, her hair was cut -- 12 inches worth. She was sad to part with her hair and considered backing out. Robin, the stylist, asked her if she needed anything to help calm her before the scissors were brought forth for the snipping.

"Chocolate. I want chocolate."

Robin laughed and offered Kari her choice of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts or chocolate brownies. Kari opted for the brownies, but let me know that she fully expected to receive several Godiva truffles AND a steaming cup of hot cocoa.

Kari's hair was pulled back into a ponytail and Robin sawed through the hank of hair. Other clients and stylists gathered around to watch. Kari was embarassed, but focused on her brownie, not the attention. One woman kept gushing about how wonderful Kari was to donate her hair.

Kari's hair is now on its way to be made into a wig for a child who needs it. And Kari looks wonderful. Or -- as Brooks put it -- "Holy shit! You look pretty, Kari!"





12/30/2004  

*gasp*


Nana in jeans? Could it truly be? Did she give in? why? After 86 years of never donning a pair of jeans, Nana caved. She pulled on a pair of jeans given to her by her children.

Ann, Bill and Bob snickered at the thought of their mother in jeans. They couldn't imagine anything more unlikely.

I think she looks wonderful! You go, Nana. Show the young ones how to wear their dungarees.



(Obviously one of my uncles needs to learn how to change the date feature on his camera)




12/28/2004  

Katharine Blue


The day we brought her home, I held her in my lap for hours. Not because she wanted to be held, but because she needed to be held. She needed to know that even though she was in a strange place, she was loved.

She weighed a mere 4 pounds and was nothing but fur and eyes. Tons of blue fluff. Round pumpkin eyes peered out at the world from behind that fluff.

We took days to name her. Nothing seemed quite right for her. She was obviously royalty and deserved only the best of names. Turned out that the best was the simplest. Dad dubbed her Kate. This was a perfect match for her and for our other cat -- Spencer.

Kate was a calm presence. She rarely hurried, rarely meowed and rarely created messes. But she did declare that all my father's shoes were ultimately there for her enjoyment. She loved to rub her face all over his leather Florsheims. Strange kitty.

When I moved out, Kate went with me. She adapted to a strange cat named Shamika and a wacky dog named Rebel. When I moved again, she became used to yet another cat -- Mr. Grrrr. Despite all the other demanding and bold personalities around her, Kate ruled my heart. She cuddled up next to me at night, chatted with me at all hours and was simply there.

We discovered that Kate had a strong maternal instinct. All through my pregnancy with Rick, she carried around a green bow. Every place she went, she carried that bow. She even kept it nicely groomed. She did the same thing when I was pregnant with Kari, except then her preferred bow was blue.

But Kate wasn't a little people feline. Children terrified her. They wanted to hug her and squeeze her. She only weighed 6 pounds and didn't have a way to protect herself from them. Kate went to live with my parents.

She was happy. Once again she had access to my father's shoes. She could sit behind my dad on the sofa and lick his hair. She could wander through the house, sit in windows and not have to fear being attacked by a hard-hugging toddler or two.

Kate did have to get used to Spencer again though. But they quickly arrived at a workable solution. Mom was Spencer's human. Dad was Kate's. Spencer was allowed to sleep up near the top of the bed. Kate was allowed the foot. Spencer was to receive all left-over milk in cereal bowls. Kate was declared the owner of all rubberbands and bows.

And for years life went along swimmingly. Spencer died several years ago after an intense bout with cancer. Kate grieved, but continued on. She was responsible for two humans and did her best by them. In turn, they laughingly kept her supplied with rubberbands and picked them up from wherever she had strewn them around the house.

In her old age, Kate became surprisingly tolerant of little people and didn't run away when approached by Brooks or Coley. She didn't exactly purr in ecstacy, but she didn't run. She let them run their grubby little hands through her long blue fur and hug her.

The day after Christmas, Kate wasn't her typical kittenish self. She couldn't move well. She stopped purring. Her large pumpkin eyes seemed dimmed and she kept them half closed.

Two days after Christmas, I picked her up from where she had crawled to in the living room and went and sat down on the sofa in the family room. The sofa she liked to hide behind during the day and then sit on at night with Dad.

I cuddled her for hours, not because she wanted to be cuddled, but because I needed to let her know that I loved her. All 4 pounds of fluff with big pumpkin eyes.

Katharine Blue
25 August 1988 to 27 December 2004






12/21/2004  

NOT in OUR HOUSE


Take that, you New England Patriots.

Don't think you can come to our house and taunt us and get away with it.

Don't think your quarterback can save you from any and all threats.

You aren't football gods. You are human. Humans stumble. Then there's Brady who falls on his ass with 1:48 to go and throws an interception as Bowens takes him down.

The odds were certainly in your favor though. Not only were you 12-1 coming into a game against a 2-11 team, you were getting to play in chilly weather -- something you are used to and the Fins most definitely are not. You were playing against a team who had 2nd and 3rd string linebackers starting, a weak offensive line and a very inexperienced quarterback.

But you couldn't put it together.

Your fans thought you had it together. They were so confident that you would win that they filed out of the stadium when the score was 28-17 and just shy of 4 minutes left to go.

Then it got a bit rowdy in Joe Robbie Stadium. The fans of the teal and orange could finally be heard. And OUR team responded by scoring 2 touchdowns in the final 2:07. Yes, 2 TDs.

Take that, New England.

Did we spoil your December?

Will you manage to hold things together and win your final 2 games? Or will the Jets defeat you? And just think! You meet the 49ers in your final game. Better watch out.






12/18/2004  

cookies anyone?


Today I am baking. Baking a lot. I'm going to post the recipes as I finish mixing up the doughs. There could be just a few cookie recipes. There could be quite a few. Who knows.

Steph, thanks for all the recipes. Mwah!

Finnish Cardamom Balls

1/2 c. soft butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. skim milk
2 c. sifted white flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. crushed or powdered cardamom


Cream butter and sugar until light. Add egg, beating until thick. Stir in milk. Sift flour with baking powder and add with cardamom to creamed mixture, mixing until a stiff dough forms. Chill thoroughly.

Shape chilled dough into small balls (about 1 inch in diameter) and arrange on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 375*F for 10-12 minutes or until golden. If you wish, you may brush cookies with egg before baking to give them a shiny glaze.

Makes 4 dozen.

note to self: reduce baking time to 8-9 minutes.

Raspberry-Filled Chocolate Ravioli

2 squares bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp chocolate extract
1/4 tsp baking soda
dash salt
2 1/2 cups flour
Seedless raspberry jan
powdered sugar


Melt chocolate in top of double boiler over hot, not boiling, water. Remove from heat; cool. Cream butter and granulated sugar in large bowl until blended. Add egg, vanilla, chocolate extract, baking soda, salt and melted chocolate; beat until light. Blend in flour to make a stiff dough. Divide dough in half. Cover; refrigerate until firm.

Preheat oven to 350*F. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. Roll out dough, half at a time, 1/8 inch thick between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Remove top sheet of plastic. (If dough gets too soft and sticks, refrigerate until firm.) Cut dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Place half of squares 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Place about 1/2 tsp jam in center of each square; top with another square. Using fork, press edges of squares together to seal, then pierce center of each square. Bake 10 minutes or just until edges are browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Dush lightly with powdered sugar.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Foothill House Sweet Dreams

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cups brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
teaspoon salt
1 12-oz. package chocolate chips
1 cup powdered sugar

Cream butter. Beat in brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Blend into butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Refrigerate until firm. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets. Break off small pieces of dough; roll into 1-inch rounds. Dredge in powdered sugar. Arrange on sheets, spacing at least 2 inches apart. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on sheets. Transfer to racks.

Makes 6 dozen.


Eggnog Drop Cookies

1 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup eggnog
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cream sugar and butter until light. Add eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks; beat at medium speed with mixer until smooth. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined. Do not overmix. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Bake 20 to 23 minutes until bottoms turn light brown.

Makes 4 dozen.

Norwegian Spice Cookies


Makes 32 cookies, Prep: 10 minutes, Refrigerate: 1 hour. Bake: at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
teaspoon salt
teaspoon ground nutmeg
teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water

1. Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, nutmeg and cardamom in bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Stir in flour mixture. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 3 -to 4 -inch cookie-cutter molds with nonstick cookie-cutter molds with nonstick cooking spray.

3. On lightly floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll out half of dough inch thick. Press cutter molds gently into dough. Gently pull cookies out of molds. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Brush with egg white. Reroll scraps. Repeat with remaining dough.

4. Bake in 350 degrees oven 10 to 12 minutes, until golden. Remove to racks to cool. Store at room temperature or freeze.


Clove Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves


Melt butter in a small pan over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, then vanilla. Add egg and beat until mixture is smooth. In a small bowl, stir together flour and cloves; gradually add to butter mixture, blending thoroughly.

Drop dough by level teaspoonfuls onto well-greased cookie sheets, spacing cookies 2 1/2 - 3 inches apart. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-14 minutes or until edges are golden brown and centers start to crinkle and collaps. Immediately transfer cookies to racks to cool. Store in airtight container.

Makes 4 dozen.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups rolled oats
1 cups all-purpose flour
1-teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoons cinnamon
teaspoon salt
1-cup butter, softened
1 cups brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cups chocolate chips


Stir together oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the oat mixture. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Form into balls and place on cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Makes 6 dozen.

note: don't forget to grease cookie sheets. Let cookies cool for about 2 minutes on sheets then remove to a rack to cool.




12/15/2004  

project Xmas cards


Brooks likes to make cards for Christmas. I finally downloaded the pictures I took and the one he took of this endeavor. Here's a sample.














Now I must find my stamps, since he has finally (and painfully) finished writing his name.




12/14/2004  

winter


Winter has arrived in South Florida. Pull out your jackets, your mittens, your scarves and your knit caps. The temperature tonight is supposed to be in the low 40s. Inland will see temperatures in the 30s -- once windchill is figured in.

Anyone listening to the news would assume that the worst blizzard ever was getting ready to hit. The reporters are telling people how to dress, how to care for plants, how to prevent house fires and what to do if you think you have frostbite.

Frostbite? Here? Who are they kidding?




12/13/2004  

what's for dinner...


White Chili

3-16 oz. cans Great Northern white beans
4 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 TBS olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 4-oz cans chopped green chilies
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsps dried oregano, crumbled
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 cups chicken stock or canned broth
12 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese
sour cream


Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, then chilies, cumin, oregano and cayenne. Saute 2 minutes. Add undrained beans and stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and add chicken and cheese to chili and stir until cheese melts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chili into bowls. Garnish with sour cream if desired.




12/12/2004  

Happy Holidays!


Christmas is my favorite time of year. I get to decorate, create and bake. I can give gifts and sing at all times and people think I'm into the season and not totally nuts.

Well, until they walk into my house. After all I do have umpteen trees. Each dragonet has a tree. Robert has a tree. I have a tree. We all help decorate the family tree. Then there are 3 extras -- I blame those on Frog, Binky and Toby.

This is whatyou see from my front door. The nutcrackers belong to Brooks. The houses on the ledge are Rick's. (Okay, so you can't see them clearly.) The big Santa -- aka white blob on the piano -- is Kari's. The eleven foot tree is our family tree. The smaller green tree to the right is our wish tree. We write our wishes on papers and tie the paper to the tree.



This is my dining room. Above the wreath is the window that Frog fell from back in February. Currently the Grinch is in residence on that high up ledge. Brooks' tree is to the left. Since he isn't very tall, all the ornaments are on the bottom half of the tree. Rick's tree is to the right.



and here's the Grinch. He's 12 to 14 feet above the floor. Yes, I climbed the ladder and placed him there.


This is obviously a closer picture of my dining table. Are you hungry? No food is on the table... yet. Just give me a bit of time and I'll be ready to feed an army.



Now to get pictures of the various trees....




12/11/2004  

swiped from steph

selkie
The Scottish selkie was a being who appeared to be
a seal, but had the ability to shed their skin
and roam the land in human form. If a human
were to happen upon the discarded seal skin, he
or she could hide it and force the selkie to
marry him or her. However, if the selkie were
to ever find the skin, he or she would
immediately reassume seal form and return to
the sea from whence they came, leaving their
spouse and offspring on land to forever mourn
their loss.

As a selkie, you are a very withdrawn, secretive
and somewhat sad person, and those around you
find you alluring and mystifying. People who
come into your life find it difficult to find
the inner you. You are also curious, but you
enjoy the comforts of home most of all.


Who is your inner Shapeshifter?
brought to you by Quizilla




12/10/2004  

hands on


Today was one of those days where I head off to ye olde elementary school and talk to the students about life in the colonial days. Since they haven't a concept of what life was like, I get to pretend that I know it all.

We discussed clothing. The boys were horrified at the breeches and their buttons, at the knitted socks and garters to hold them up. The girls were against the idea of corsets, sleeping in their chemises and having to wear skirts. The moccasins though... those were considered to be cool.

We talked about food preparation. They were amazed at the idea of cooking in a fireplace, using coals to bake potatoes, at how a person could be tied to the fire tending food for hours. Rick's horn spoon fascinated them though. One boy blurted out, "You mean that he ate with something that used to be on a cow's head? No telling where that horn has been! Yuck!"

I demonstrated how to weave sashes, how to spin wool into yarn (badly). Several of the girls were so good at the weaving that I left my looms there so they could finish weaving sashes for their teachers. Next Friday, they'll learn how to finish off the sashes and to twist the ends into decorative fringe. Their eyes rounded in amazement at my quilt squares that were pieced by hand.

But the item that always brings down the house is my tea brick. I love having them guess what it is. They never guess tea. Tar... yes. Concrete... yes. Adobe... occasionally. Chocolate... always. Tea... never. After several minutes of guessing, I give them a hint... it was thrown into Boston Harbor. One girl told me that tea came in bags, not bricks. Everyone wanted to touch the tea brick, to smell it. One boy asked what flavor it was.

I hope the children got a taste of what life was like before Game Boys and tvs, before telephones and instant messaging. I hope they understood that life wasn't necessarily better or worse... just different. And it wasn't that long ago. Not really.




12/7/2004  

ho! ho! ho!



Brooks had never sat in Santa's lap before tonight. Here he is five years old and never had whispered what he wanted into Santa's attentive ear.

We didn't tell him where we were going. We simply went. When Brooks saw Santa, his eyes grew large and round and then he became quite upset. Seems the wee little man was concerned that he didn't have his Christmas wish list with him. Brooks didn't want to accidently forget to tell Santa something.

Santa whispered in Brooks' ear. Brooks whispered back. Robert and I tried desperately to read his lips, but all we caught was "Thomas the Tank Engine." Oh well.




12/6/2004  

need cards?


Of course Paul would send me a link to his website AFTER I finished ordering cards and AFTER Brooks finished his cards for all his buddies. I definitely will order some cards though... the thank you puppy ones are at the top of the list.

Anyway... Check out Paul's site. Support a friend of mine and most importantly... make a child smile.




 

missing


We took the stuff out of the attic to decorate for Christmas. We are missing several things. If you've seen them, please let me know.

--one deer. Last seen peering out of the garage last January.

--ten white extension cords. I desperately need these. I use them for all the indoor lights. Plus they do not stand out against the white tile floor or the cream colored carpet.

--one base for the 4.5 foot tree that goes in our family room. Ummm, the tree can't stand without it.





12/5/2004  

caught in the tuna nets


The Dolphins are horrible this year. I expect they will be horrible next year too. Hopefully one day we will look back and say, "Oh the growing pains of the 2004 season...."

We have learned that AJ Feeley could one day be a decent quarterback. Consider how few NFL games he has played in, how few games he has ever started and then look at his arm. If he could only manage to not throw multiple interceptions each game! Perhaps he is so excited to be out on the field as a pro-quarterback that he feels any completion is a good one.

The defense is capable of doing a good job even without Zack Thomas and Junior Seau and the hordes of other defensive players that have been injured this season. I am rather sad that Sam Madison has lost a step and that he will not get to play for a Superbowl winning team (unless he gets traded or the Fins pull a rabbit out of the hat).

I could go on, but my mind is wandering and I want to skip along behind it.






12/3/2004  

christmas is coming


And I am stressing out.

Oh my. Tomorrow is the Holly Day Parade in my section of town. I'm not participating in the parade, but I will be selling items for one of the women who is on a float. Oh, the joys of retail during the holidays. Of course, I had believed that the UM-VA Tech game was late afternoon. Wrong! I'll be the seller with headphones on. Just listen for colorful language to emerge from my mouth.

Sunday is the Lphins' game against the Bills. Not that the Fins stand a chance of winning, but I do love my Fins. I want my favorites to do well (do you hear that Perry and Madison?) Besides, we're waiting for Sage to get in the game. We wanna see what the man can do with a football in his hand rather than a clipboard.

Then there is baking to work in. I'll make more of Steph's rum cakes, another batch or two of mandelbrot. I'll drool over the baklava that must set for at least a week before it is ready to eat. Shocking that. Hmmph.

Next weekend is my open house. My womens club is hosting a Parade of Homes... four homes are open for others to walk through and ooh and aah over the decorations. Now to get the dog to behave for several hours. I may have to cave and send him to the doggie spa for the day. I'll be stressed, and Toby will be getting a doggie massage.

I must finish my niece's afghan too. I'm knitting away on it. Only 30 inches more to knit, so I'm 25% done. Somehow I'll get it done.

Rick's party is the following weekend. Oy.

Then Yule.

Then Xmas.

I'm exhausted thinking about it.




12/2/2004  

this week


Medial tibia stress syndrome -- aka shin splints -- major pain in the ... leg

Two sick children.

A rattling van.

Depression.

Hot weather.

Approaching holiday.

Run!!!!!!!!




12/1/2004  

shin splints


The other night I had hit the .8 mile mark on my run when I felt something pop in my ankle. Being sensible (for once), I stopped and stretched and gingerly tested my ankle. Just a slight ache. I decided to walk for a bit and see what happened.

Big mistake. At least the continuing on my merry way instead of turning around and heading back towards home was a mistake. My ankle started throbbing at just over a mile from my house. I turned and hobbled my way home.

And developed shin splints.

I have been hobbling around for days now in pain. Supposedly shin splints take 2 to 4 weeks to recover from. Supposedly they are most likely to occur when someone hasn't exercised in a long time. Ummm, I've been walking 4 to 6 miles per day for months. I've been running/jogging anywhere from .5 to 1.5 miles for the past 3 months.

All blame is being put on my shoes. My faithful shoes that I wear whenever I want to walk or run. The shoes that have danced in many a rain puddle, slid across wet grass and covered enough miles to go from here to Kennebunk and back again. At least that distance.

I need to retire my faithful shoes and buy new ones. I need to get over these shin splints first though. Now I do intend to go to grappling class tonight. But first I have to ice my shins for 15 minutes, then tape them from my ankle to my knee, then slowly warm up. I'm not allowed to run. I am allowed to walk (did you know that walking is considered a non-impact form of exercise? First I'd heard that!)

This sucks, but at least I have time to stop and smell the jasmine.




"Earth laughs in flowers." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson