Monday, October 26, 2009

Impromptu Road Trip

Last Monday (or Tuesday, I can't quite remember) Anime Queen, our teenage daughter, asked, "Which one of you is going out to Tiny College that Offers Japanese with me on Friday and Saturday?" Uh, what was that?? How long have you known about this road trip & not mentioned it to anyone?? Er.. since October 5th. Several dozen phone calls and a few last minute arrangements later, the trip was a go.

Also last week, more great news! Joy of joys, the Pianist has been given a new piano. A gift from a friend at church who is seriously ill and will be unable to play anymore. Can you guess what the only compatible day to pick up our new gift? Why Friday of course. The day daughter and I will be on the road. The older son called in sick and the younger one was exempted from school so they could help dad put the old piano in storage and the new one into the house.

I guess it all went well. I didn't hear any horror stories about moving the pianos or the joys of driving a small moving truck in heavy Friday traffic. No fingers or toes were accidentally crushed. The old one will be given away via Craigslist soon. I hope. At least it would be if one of us could remember to put the listing up.

Thursday night Anime Queen and I made it 'down the valley' to the tiny, picturesque town where her potential college is. Kids and parents have traveled from up and down the East Coast to be there so I feel less put out about AQ's lack of advance warning. I guess. She has totally fallen in love with it. I kind of wonder how much of a fit it'll be, but she can be stubborn and persistent when she wants to be, so we'll see.

I ended up driving all the way home Friday evening. I couldn't face spending the night alone in an economy hotel at a tiny crossroad beside the highway, so I drove 3+ hours home in pouring rain to spend the night in my own bed with my own sheets and my own hubby. Then I got up at 6 am Saturday morning and did it all over again. I don't care, it was worth the stress to be home in my own bed. However, I might have felt differently if I was psychic and knew ahead of time that it'd pour cats and dogs all the way down the valley and back again Saturday morning.

Of course, never mind the fact that I had a midterm to study for or a paper to do research for or a blog that is being seriously neglected. You know, teenagers think it's perfectly acceptable to drop and/or rearrange your entire life to accomodate them. Hubby's theory is that she miscalculated and thought that we'd automatically tell her 'no way, we can't go' because of the ridiculous time frame and get her off the hook. I don't know which one of us is right, but she ended up loving the place- which she told me she didn't expect.

We're back now and so far all is pretty much right with the world- that is to say, completely crazy and a total soap opera from start to finish. This particular storyline has to do with Pianist, but I'm too tired to tell that one today.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

If You're on my Feed Reader

Please be aware that as I now have well over 1,700 posts on my reader I am forced to delete them all and begin anew. At almost zero. :{ Am unhappy at the necessity of doing this but I've no time to physically sort through the posts.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms, Jane Doiron

I guess the fact that I've posted all of three times in October versus roughly fourteen (which is still not great, BTW) in September qualifies me as a busy mom. So this was definitely the book for me to road test. Click the link in the title above to go to the book webpage. This review is part of a book tour sponsored by Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours. I received an ARC for this review.

TBH, I most likely would've purchased one of these from a bricks and mortar bookstore. I try very hard to be organized, and one of the keys is good tools to help you become and remain organized. This book is one of those tools. Funny observation- the dessert section is pretty early on in this book. To my way of thinking placing it there matches up pretty closely with how my days go sometimes- I just want to start with dessert and skip the main course entirely. IIRC Garfield agrees with me!

On a slightly more serious note, I appreciated the tips pages in the very front of the book the most. They helped keep me on track and out of the woods several times. The recipes themselves are as advertised: quick, familiar, and easy. Even your fussiest appetite will find something to love in here. Most of all the recipes use mainly pantry staples, which means no buying an unfamiliar ingredient that will then sit on your shelves unused. Which is always a plus nowadays with the economy being what it is.

Around my house the earliest bus pick up is 6:15 am. Obviously that means sleeping in until 5:45, racing through a shower and running out the door at 6:10. If I'm lucky this child remembers to grab the premade lunch & a quick yogurt or piece of fruit for breakfast. I tried some of Ms. Doiron's breakfast recipes, some of which can be 'bus stop friendly' or carpool friendly or what have you. Now, I tried them over the weekends, so we've yet to try and incorporate them into the am frenzy, but we're going to give it a try.

Another child despises standard breakfast fare and is known to eat hot chili or tuna salad in the morning before school. Make Ahead Meals came to the rescue for this child too, because the recipes I tried hold up quite well for reheating any leftovers the next morning. If you're lucky enough to have leftovers, that is. I don't always have those. The hubby is on a supervised diet, which the side dish and soup sections accommodated with only a few changes here and there.

Overall, Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms was a success for our house. The recipes are teen friendly (both to cook and to eat), fussy-eater friendly and sure to save your bacon in an emergency. Plan out a week's menu using this book, go to the grocery store and try it out. Ms. Doiron's book is a winner in the daily struggle to feed the kids and maintain some sanity.

Cover image found on Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chemistry in the Rain

Friday was spent standing on a pebbly spit beside a stream in the middle of the woods surrounded by twenty five high school seniors (17 years old). The kids were testing the stream water for: fecal choliform (eewwww!), organophosphates, nitrogen, dissolved oxygen, two temperature readings, turbidity (cloudiness) & some other stuff. The park ranger says the stream is the standard for purity in our area because it flows through both the park and the military base beside it, which means the land around it is protected from development & thus protected from pollution. The weather was chilly and drizzly, made worse by pouring rain the all the previous day.

Fortunately I was dressed warmly and I made sure I stayed dry so it was fun. I love the woods. One of the boys nearly fell face first off of a log into the water trying to take the upstream temperature. I have to be honest here and say I laughed, although it would've been a serious issue if he'd actually fallen in. Stupid kids are always afraid of not looking the part or whatever, so only one of them was dressed warmly- the rest of them were in t shirts or other thin shirts and sweatshirts, no warm jackets or (heaven forbid) raincoats. No hiking boots or wellies for their feet, sneakers all around. They all spent the entire morning whining about how cold it was & how they couldn't wait to get back to school because it was warm!!

Luckily the teachers ignored this & wandered around making sure they finished all of their experiments. She only had one parent chaperone (ie: me), so she had to ask one of the administrators to accompany us so she didn't have to cancel the whole thing. The park doesn't have the funding to support this type of event, so a nonprofit called The Alice Ferguson Foundation steps in to provide an extra resource teacher/biologist and all of the equipment the kids used for the experiment. It was really neat watching her lead the kids along to recognizing that all of the development they enjoy can damage the environment and thus the water they drink, bathe in and cook with.

It was a relaxing if chilly way to spend the morning watching the kids play in the water & realize that in science, as in many other things, one must follow the directions to get optimal results or else start all over. LOL :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Back Again

Somehow I managed to catch a serious chest cold. Two days in bed, low grade fever for three days, went through two jumbo boxes of tissues and two packages of cough drops all by myself. Managed to worry everyone in my family, since I barely remember the last time I was so sick. I think the last time I got pneumonia- which was on Christmas Day when I had thirty people over for dinner- was nearly ten years ago. I'm generally a healthy person, thank heavens.

Anyhow, I had to get out of bed before I felt better to take an exam from a prof who refuses to allow test retakes. Then two days later I had to to turn in a paper to another prof who doesn't allow papers to be submitted via email (!!!!) the first time. So I ended up getting worse again & spent a few more days in bed. The hubby made some of the best ever chicken soup, which I've no doubt made me stronger sooner than I would have been otherwise.

Of course, college courses wait for no one and nothing short of the end of the world. Homework piled higher and higher- I was assigned another paper. If you please, "write a Socratic discussion between two Nobel Peace Prize winners with appropriate citations." Yes, folks you can just imagine how thrilled I was when I found out about that one. President Obama hadn't won when this was assigned. I also have to write a paper about the indigenous people of Sweden- the Sami, nomadic reindeer herders. That one's not due for another five weeks or so. I need to do some food history research for an 'ethnic food night' next week. You know the drill, give a 5 minute presentation & contribute a dish.

What about books you ask? I managed to finish Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. That will be a buddy review with Kailana over at The Written World. A doorstopper, for sure. Worth the time though, especially if you like 'locked room' mysteries and can tolerate business and financial details.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Out sick

Sorry for the temporary hiatus- been in bed sick since Thursday last. Am now behind in my homework on top of everything else. :( Missed the reread. Double :( Back soonest.