Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Media Surge

On a media related note, I actually got to see Casino Royale, the new Bond movie. I really enjoyed it, but this new Bond is rather, uh, buff. It's sort of odd. The movie also seemed a lot more violent. More action and less witty reparte. Not that there aren't some cute lines in the movie. And Daniel Craig is a good Bond. I think he's perfect for being "early Bond". Doug sent me out for time alone and it makes such a difference to get away for a few hours (that was a long movie!). I also got to stop off before the movie at the toy store and the book store. I need to get two very cool children's books for the girls (almost 5 years old and 2 years old). Any suggestions? We have a tradition where we leave a wrapped book on the edge of their bed for Christmas morning and we write a little something and the date on the inside. But it has to be a very cool, special book and I'm totally stumped this year.

I ended up getting Richard Dawkin's The Ancestor's Tale which is a look at evolution starting from the present and working back to the beginning. It is a really thick book. I just read The God Delusion and I was really impressed with it. I actually read it very slowly (I usually speed read through things--I can't seem to help myself) and could not put it down at the same time. His name was bugging me because it sounded so familiar and then I read that he wrote The Selfish Gene which I read when I was at UT Austin. Most book stores don't seem to have anything by Dr. Dawkins except the recent bestseller, so I was pleasantly surprised to see something different. It's not the book I would have picked out from a list, but it is something I do want to read. It's just going to take me a very long time.

God Damn It!

Fiona is sleeping in her own room now. I do not know how long this will last. I am dying now to paint her room and make it more her own...if only the farking wallpaper wasn't there! How I hate wallpaper.

I must confess to you all that I went to Hellmart (ahem, Walmart) today. I hate Walmart, ok? I don't know where else to go for some things, however. It's fairly rural here. I really only went for Christmas lights for the porch (they were already out of the hanging blue and white ones! I had to get just white.). Anyway, one reason I hate these big stores (I know Target must not be much better, but I have to say I like it a lot more than Walmart. Alas, there is no Target in Vermont.) is that I walk in for one thing, and if I'm not careful, I walk out with a lot more. That is what I did today. Well, Hershey's Kisses have all these cool flavors all of a sudden. They appear to be seasonal. Then I saw the chocolate mint candy canes. I got Fiona new bed sheets for Christmas. I got an Elefun game I've been meaning to get for them. Some play dough for the stockings. Some holiday cupcake papers. Damn you, Walmart.

I'm eating wonderful turkey pot pie made by Douglas last night. He mixed the turkey with carrots, leeks and potatoes (All hail the mighty leek!) in a veloute sauce, then put the leftover stuffing on top of that and some of the leftover gravy on top of that. Then he made biscuits and put them on top of that. It's real comfort food.

I did a tea swap with some far away friends and I just got some Hazelnut Lipton. This person is in Canada (thank you, Chantal!) and I am wondering if there is any in the U.S. It's pretty good! I don't usually sweeten my tea (unless it's Chai), but I did submit to adding some chocolate syrup along with my milk to the tea. It's good without the chocolate, too, though. I love that the back is in French. Maybe I can get more next time we go to Montreal. Really, I should go to a grocery in Montreal anyway, just to compare.

Fiona has started saying "goddamnit" on a regular basis. We've told her it's okay to say at home, but not outside the house or when we have guests. This prompted a slew of "goddamnit"s so she could try it out (I suppose). We then told her we would appreciate it if she did not use the word gratuitously. Yes, she asked what that word meant. I've discovered that there are many, many words I have a very hard time actually defining. Unfortunately, Sophia is a little tape recorder. She says everything Fiona does. It is actually very cute but you just know it's going to pop out at a very inconvenient time.

It's time for some homemade butterscotch pudding.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Thanksgiving was low key around here. I roasted at turkey at 450 for crispy skin (I could eat a sackful of crispy skin), made buttermilk mashed potatoes (good, but not as good as the usual hazelnut brown butter ones), whole wheat parker rolls (and for freak's sake--I forgot the salt! I did this once when Annie and Andrea were eating turkey day dinner with us and I made these beautiful challah rolls...that tasted like ass. So they look nice but you chew on them and think to yourself...what is off here? It's the salt. So I slathered butter on them and salted the top. It didn't really help.), creamed leeks (heavenly), gravy, and stuffing with bacon, apples, and dried cepes. I love stuffing. Oh, I also made some cranberry relish. Very cheerful, the dainty cranberry.

It was the first Thanksgiving in a while where we haven't had any friends visit. Fiona was sort of sad about this but we did some little crafts together for the table. When 2 PM came around, however (we ate early this year--I like this. It means we can eat dinner all afternoon and evening), Fiona decided on peanut butter and jelly after smelling the stuffing and tasting oh-so-faintly of the cranberry relish. Doug had made two pumpkin pies the night before. One we ate for breakfast that morning and the other we mostly ate on Friday. Apparently, Fiona also does not like pumpkin pie. Sophia does, but she fell asleep at her highchair at dinner time. Later, she gladly ate all the dishes of that dinner.

And on a completely unrelated note, I've decided we need a new couch. We have two very beautiful couches that came down to me through my Grandmother. Well, one is a love seat. They are both antiques, however, and not exactly durable. By durable I mean "meant for the hard wear that two young kids put on them". They both have wood trim and wood legs. One of the wood legs (the couch) is nearly broken off. It is heartbreaking. So the plan is to somehow move the couches into the storage room formerly known as the study (this is also known as the Wasp Room, if you have read my posts from last year). This room is collecting all sorts of things that aren't great to have out with the kids (ok, let's point fingers here--with SOPHIA. Although neither child is exactly gentle with the couches). I have dreams of something very cushy that you could sleep in, if you needed to. Something that will undoubtedly be covered with a spare bed sheet for a slipcover!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Catching Up

Ok, so let's see. I've spent the weekend trying not to cough up my respiratory system. Fiona also has a cough, but she's had it for 6 weeks now and we actually gave her antibiotics for it which did...nothing. Yes, she had it in Texas, but back then it was mostly at night. Now it's all the time. It's not really a bad cough and it's short in length, but it sure is persistent. I think we may have an allergy test done.

We have a new CAR! The Subaru (1999 Legacy) was turning into quite the money pit (I won't even list it all here because it is too depressing) so we just traded it in before we had to replace the clutch (and who knows what else). Not really wild about the Subaru dealership here, anyway. The HONDA dealership, however, is very reliable and seems honest. So we bought a 2007 (!OMG!) Civic. I call her Pippi (I called her Pippi before Fiona named the new parakeet Pippi in case you caught that). She's dark red. That's what was on the lot. It's an LX because now I am spoiled and I like the power locks and windows. I don't like that I can't do the windows when the car is off, though. There should be back-up for that. I still can't believe it--especially since we just paid off the fracking Subaru and now we'll have another car payment. It is really nice to have a reliable car, though. Our other car is a 1994 Honda Civic that Doug and I have had since before we were married (shh). He has 207,000 miles on him and we've never ever had serious problems with him (there was that one time he didn't start at all, but it was easily fixed--and I think it cost about $250). I am not even sure we've replaced the clutch...ever. I better ask to make sure. Oh, and the new car is an automatic. I usually insist on manual, but I don't feel so strongly about it now.

I will try to take pictures later. The inside looks a little like a starship to me. It's kind of odd. It didn't smell like new car. It didn't really have a smell. I'm sure it does now.

Fiona's new parakeet, Pippi, is green. Fiona is also starting a terrarium which is in the fridge for 8 weeks. I honestly had no idea there was a chilling period.

Sophia is really belting out the sentences. She adores Fiona more and more and now Fiona clearly likes to have her own time and space alone now and then. Not at night, however. They do play a lot together and they still put on those unicorn costumes or their fairy wings and fly. They use the play kitchen a lot. Fiona will bake and cook and Sophia goes inside the play kitchen under the sink and pops the sink out so it looks like half a person coming out of the sink. That is something I really need to get on film to post. She stays there the whole time. Oh,they also make pizza. Sometimes Sophia brings me something in an oven mitt for me to taste.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Travel Tome

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Whew, ok...where to start? We are back from Texas and we had a fabulous time! We went to see Corinthian and Ellen Aim get hitched. We all went in costume...there are great pictures on Ellen Aim's blog and Triana's (see the sidebar on right for the blogs). This picture is the lovely bride herself! My mom made the gorgeous dress.

I guess I will start at the beginning. We got up at the ungodly hour of 3:30 AM and trucked on down to Dartmouth Coach in Lebanon, NH. The bus was very clean, they showed good movies and I was impressed. I also discovered Sophia gets motion sickness on the bus. Good thing we are seasoned parents and had a change of clothing for her. Too bad I didn't have any for me. I also had Dramamine with us, but I thought I'd be using that for the plane. I should mention here that we were traveling with only carry on luggage and the huge Britax car seats. I mailed our costumes and clothing to my parents' house.

Our flight didn't leave until 10:15 (and it takes about two and a half hours to get to Boston airport from Lebanon) but with rush hour Boston traffic and the increased "security" at airports, I thought it would be just enough time. Rush hour traffic did suck, but the security line went really quickly. I would also like to cheer for on-line check-in. I printed out boarding passes and since we had no luggage to check, we sailed right on the plane (after checking the stroller--a.k.a car seat transportation--at the gate). It's true, though, at security everyone takes their shoes off...even 2 year old Sophia who was wearing her little leather Robeez (just a sort of slipper/shoe, very comfortable, flexible, and hard for kids to take off--ha ha!). All jackets come off. Even Fiona's fleece layer. I totally forgot about my tiny Swiss army knife on my keychain and that went through undetected. Oh well. It's really small.

The plane ride was hell. Sophia and Fiona were next to each other in their car seats (for a variety of reasons, we decided not to check them with the stroller)(I am now reading through this and I want to clarify that I do indeed mean the car seats and not Sophia and Fiona). Since these seats put them higher up, Sophia's feet naturally came to the middle of the seat in front of her and she kept kicking the seat in front of her the whole time, despite our best efforts. Thankfully, that person was very understanding. The kids slept for the last hour of the plane ride. They actually were not interested in the DVD player. They were interested in all the wrapped dollar store treats I had in my carry on, however. That was a great idea and I also recommend that.

At the DFW airport, which is way too big for its own good, we took a bus to the car rental place. Let me just say Thrifty isn't that and look out for all sorts of stomach dropping fees. I also somehow rented a tank, and I blame myself (and my travel agent) for that. At least we felt very safe.

At last we were at my parents' house and Fiona was thrilled to be there. Sophia warmed up pretty quickly. I felt like I hadn't been in Denton in years. Oh wait! That's because it had been years! The rest of that day and Wednesday are a bit of a blur (I'm also finishing this entry about a month later, by the way). We went to the North Park Mall with Alex and got there way too early for the LUSH party. We had a pretty good time, though, and Alex introduced me to the heavenly evil of the Starbucks Pumpkin Latte. Thankfully, there is no Starbucks here (actually, there are at least 2 in Burlington, incredibly). We meet up with Triana and look at Christmas LUSH goodies. I was very good and bought nothing (mostly because Doug went on a bit of a spree for me when he was in Montreal a few weeks before!). However, despite my RSVP, LUSH did not have me down on the guest list, so while I did get my free goodie bag, I did not get one for Alex. That was really lame. Triana got on the list, but she called twice. I mean, how hard is it to take names down? Honestly. Sorry, Alex. I'm making you your own goodie bag.

Then the cake making! Triana and I had great fun in Ellen Aim's kitchen (They have a fabulous house that is very nicely painted. Alas, that I did not sample the legendary hot tub. Another day.). Ok, here is one of the cake:

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Looking at this, I am pretty sure that this cake picture has been cropped to hide the part where the goddamn strawberries kept falling off because the buttercream was melting in the heat.

I screwed up the buttercream the first time. I did the "Neo-Classic Buttercream" from the Cake Bible, which is a wonderful recipe and, I thought, nearly foolproof. Nope. It's not. All that butter. All those eggs. The chocolate. I weep still. The second batch was divine. The chocolate dipped strawberries kept leaping to their demise during the wedding, however. Next time: either store the finished cake in the fridge until the last minute (a perilous task, however) or ice the cake at the last possible moment with many people watching you. I am used to people watching, so I should have done that. Oh well. I was otherwise pleased with the cake (a butter cake with lots of red food coloring, strawberry jam in one layer and raspberry in the other, and triple sec syrup) and I believe the bride, groom and guests were as well. Triana made these hilarious finger cookies (the recipe came from the eGullet forums) and the famous eyeball cake. I must show you more pictures.

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The wedding itself was perfect. I loved reading Ellen Aim's and Corinthian's account of it (his blog can be found if you go to Ellen Aim's. I am too lazy to link.) Fiona was the flower girl (and I hope there are pictures of her somewhere!) and did an amazing job---not only was she the first to come out, but she had to walk out into a crowd of strangers, who were all wearing costumes! Doug and Sophia spent most of the wedding outside. I only cried a little during the vows. I think that is because I couldn't see Ellen Aim's face. They both did so well and the minister they got was really good. (I have to confess here that I totally blubbered through the vows at my own wedding. I cry at everything. I am utterly hopeless.) The barbequed boar was delicious as was the homemade pumpkin ale made by a friend of the newly wed couple. I was surprisingly not that hungry, however. That happened to me while I was working, too. At the end of the day working on the line, I would be happy with a bowl of rice. But I digress.

The happy couple went on their honeymoon (Dallas, then Austin) and Triana went home to Austin. We spent the rest of the trip with my parents and Alex and went trick or treating with Doug's brother Matt's family in Keller (near Ft. Worth). Fiona and Sophia have cousins there, Taylor, 13 and Sydney, 7. Fiona is completely smitten with Taylor. She wants to call and write him all the time. Every day. He is very sweet. Still, I've been curbing things a little so he doesn't get overwhelmed! At the first house we went to, Sophia went right in when they opened the door. That was rather alarming, but she wised up after that. Sophia and Fiona were both unicorns. Here's Sophia:

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I forgot to mention the costumes we wore to the wedding! So the kids were unicorns and I was a genie (some thing I picked up at Jo-Ann's fabrics with a purple wig) and Doug wore his fabulous cape (that he made!) and Ren-fest style leggings and shirt with sexy boots. Here's a picture of me, Ellen Aim, and Alex. Alex is wearing the Lolita Gothic style. She looked amazing!

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Oh, and dig those roses. So fragrant and the most amazing roses ever. The color was also amazing.

We did go to the Ft. Worth Zoo with Matt's family and Fiona got to feed and hold the parakeets (and by the way, we now have a second parakeet named Pippi---she and Sweety are getting along wonderfully!)
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The trip home was uneventful. At the airport, they didn't board people with kids and other people who need assistance first (which I have never seen before). So that was interesting because we weren't even the only people using carseats on the plane--in fact, also Britax--and putting carseats on the plane with everyone else on board is not easy or enjoyable for anyone involved. Thank you, American Airlines. Oh, and they do feed you, but you have to pay four bucks for each snack tray. I did buy one on the way down to Texas even though I had more than plentiful snacks with us. I wanted the "meat stick". It's ok to laugh at this. Yes, I know what's in (or probably in) the "meat stick". I don't care. Rather, I do care, but I needed meat. Sophia slept for most of the plane ride. Fiona had her turn with motion sickness on the bus (no change of clothes this time! At least we were on the next to last leg of the journey). Our '94 Civic got a crack all the way across on our drive home.

It had been too long since our last visit and I am so thankful we were there for Ellen Aim's wedding. I think Fiona wants to live in Texas (I think she really just wants to be closer to our families!) Sigh, so do I!