Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Things You Probably Like, That I Hate

This went over so well the last time I did it, I thought it was time I compiled another list of popular things that I hate.

*Victoria's Secret-What with the commercials, the numerous catalogs, and the icky runway 'show' that manages to somehow get past the TV censors every year, it's apparent that the media wants me to love VS and thinks that I should buy all of my fancy underthings there. But I haven't in years and I don't think I ever will again. I think most of their stuff is uncomfortable, tacky, or overpriced, and the store just feels very anti-woman to me. In my heart of hearts, I believe that VS doesn't make things that women find sexy, they make things that men find sexy and we're just supposed to squeeze into it and take it. Plus, time and experience has taught me that, although fancy unmentionables are nice, they certainly aren't necessary to get a man to have sex with you. The other morning Jay and I were laying in bed. I was wearing old sweats and an over sized Terminex tee shirt and the man couldn't keep his hands off of me. You know why? Because it was one of those rare moments when we both happened to be in the same place at the same time and there were no kids around. At this point in our marriage that's all it takes anymore. No $40 panties required.

*John Mayer-Why do attractive, successful women keep dating this giant douchebag? I just don't get it.

*Senior citizens-Okay, this one is going to get me into trouble, I can feel it. So before you call me ageist, let me explain.

As you all know, up until six months ago, I lived most of my life in Florida where the average age of the average citizen is 112. You can't go anywhere without overhearing some retiree complain about how better things were in their day. And let me tell you that if you work in a shoe store and an old person comes in you better be prepared for the hardest sale of your life. They want all their shoes to be hand sewn leather, made in America, and it better not be some wild color or have a heel like a "clod hopper." I couldn't tell you what a clod hopper was if my life depended on it but I do know that old people are very insistent that their shoe not look like one. Oh, and they want to spend about $14. If by some stroke of luck you have something like that in your inventory and you manage to pry their credit card from their tightly clenched fist long enough to sell it to them, there is a fifty-fifty chance they're going to return it.

I know a lot of people find really older folks cute and charming. I'm not one of those people. That being said, on the rare chance that I meet a spunky older person who maintains an active lifestyle that includes something other than lamenting the changes society has made in the last three decades, then I immediately love them and want to hear all their stories. But as luck would have it, I usually meet the grumblers.

*Chocolate candy-This one has come as a bit of a surprise to me, but I'm finding that as I get older my taste in candy is leaning more towards hard or fruity instead of my once beloved chocolate. The proof came to me this week when I noticed that I've had a giant bowl of chocolate Halloween candy on the table and not only have I barely been tempted, but I really don't even want it. Instead, I'm starting to actually enjoy eating candy that could also double as a throat lozenge. And Skittles. My dream is to one day be buried alive under an avalanche of Skittles and be forced to eat my way to safety.

*Self-Help Books-I avoid any book claiming to have "the secret" to anything. Not only do I just find them to be written by annoying people, but I also think they ultimately are not that helpful. I don't know if I know anyone who has actually read a self help book but they're always on the best seller list so their popularity can't be denied. Someone is reading them.

So tell me, what lately are you hating that everyone else seems to be loving?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Self Portrait: 34

This is what 34 looks like:
Well, actually it was taken yesterday so this is what 33 and 364 days looks like, but who's counting?

Before writing yesterday's blog post, I was playing around with the camera to see if I could get a decent picture of myself modeling the scarf I had made, which is what I was doing in this photo. I had meant only to get the scarf in the shot, not my face at all. Huge photography fail obviously but on the upside, I managed to take a totally candid picture of myself.

When I was looking back through the shots, the me-ness of this one freaked me out a bit. I'm sure Jay would back me up in saying that this is how I look all the time: serious and not smiling. Yet when I know someone is taking my picture, I smile. Because that's what people do, right?

It's not that I'm an unhappy person, but I'm certainly not jolly. I've never been described as a girl with an 'easy laugh' and I've never been told I have a 'nice smile.' Quite the contrary actually. More than once I've had strangers come up to me and tell me to 'cheer up.' Photographers tell me to 'smile more' and that I 'need to learn to relax.' It really puts people on edge when you aren't obviously happy or naturally effusive.

That's just how I am. I've never jumped for joy, I've never squealed with excitement, and if the football team were relying on me to cheer them to victory, then they'd probably lose. Even when in computer land, I never LOL or ROFL. And you can bet your life I have never typed out the word Squee!, until now of course.

Anyway, the point of all this is that today I'm 34. The passage of time has brought many physical changes that I don't like. There is far too much sag and bag to my ass. It wouldn't hurt me to do a few more sit ups. Some days I look down at my hands and they look like the hands of an old woman. Every day I find one more grey hair, occasionally in places other than my head. There's no cream yet to be invented that will rid me of my forehead wrinkles and covering my purple eye bags has become a part of my morning routine. But there is one thing I don't have to think about: laugh lines. Score one for the sullen gal.

In spite of it all though, I'm happy. And the picture at the top? That's me. Being happy.

But the next person to give me the unsolicited advice to "Smile" is going to get stabbed in the face.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Scarf

So here's the scarf I made for Jay. And just let me take a moment to say how hard it is to take a picture of a scarf and have it actually look interesting. I mean, I've been working on this thing on and off for six months, I want my pictures to fully capture all of my long nights spent working my fingers to the bone. I really wanted Jay to model the scarf but he's at work. Then I thought of getting one of the children to model it for me but they are both doing things quietly on their own and it would be stupid of me to interrupt that just for the sake of getting a model who will probably have a bad attitude and then want me to make them something to eat immediately following the photo shoot.

So here we have pictures of a scarf on a table:And now for the details:

*The yarn is Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool in Brown Heather. I wanted to make sure Jay would actually wear this scarf, so he picked out the yarn. It would not have been my first choice because I think it has the feel and texture of pubes. But, if that's what Jay wants around his neck, then so be it.

*I found this yarn to be much harder to work with than 100% cotton yarn. The various strands didn't stay together and the colors kept playing little tricks on my eyes. Plus, did I mention it feels like pubes? The pube-ness of it dried out my hands and in order for me to work with it I kept having to lotion up. (Or lube up, if you'd like me to continue with the immature, vaguely sexual references.)

*I am a slooooooow crocheter. I've thought about making a few of these for holiday gifts but I don't know if I could get more than one done before the end of the year.

*I still don't consider myself to be a proficient crocheter. The fact that I ended up with something that someone actually wants to wear, is amazing to me. That being said, I think I've nearly mastered the single crochet stitch.

*A few months back Dani sent me Boye's I Taught Myself Crochet kit and it's been incredibly helpful. There were so many little gaps in my knowledge that this book was able to successfully fill in. I highly recommend it.

*I bought way more yarn than I needed so I may eventually end up making a scarf for myself too. Even though I don't love the feel of it, I do think it'll be warm and cozy for the cold, wet months we'll be having soon. Besides, nothing says love better than matching pube scarves.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Review: Sharp Objects

Sometimes the books I enjoy the most are the hardest ones for me to review because my love for them is so strong that I don't always know if I can do the stories justice. That was almost the case with this book. I finished it a few days ago and instead of immediately writing about it as I usually do, I tossed it aside and moved on to the next book. But it seems somehow wrong to not write about the books I love, so I'll give this my best shot.

Camille Preaker is a reporter for a very low budget newspaper in Chicago. She's trying to get her life back in order after a stay in a psychiatric hospital. She had an emotionally tumultuous childhood that eventually led to her becoming a 'cutter'. (She's carved words into her entire body to the point that in order for her to cover them all, she must wear floor length skirts and long sleeve shirts.) One of her first major assignments at the newspaper is to travel back to her hometown in Missouri to investigate and get the story on some recent murders. Someone is strangling little girls and pulling all of their teeth out. Camille is anxious to get the scoop on the murders but she's also fully aware that returning home will force her to deal with her controlling, manipulative mother and all the painful memories of her deceased younger sister.

When Camille arrives back in Missouri she's soon hit with the realization that, in the time she's been gone, not a lot has changed in her mother's house. She's still as cruel and controlling as ever, but only now she dotes on Camille's thirteen year old half sister, Amma, in a very unhealthy manner. Camille vows to stick it out in Missouri for the sake of the story, but can she do so without reverting to her old bad habits?

I'm going to come right out and say it: I absolutely loved this book. It was suspenseful without ever really being scary. You're given clues as to who is committing the murders, but never to the point where you're certain you know who the murderer is, and the last 30-50 pages of the book are some of the most intense pages I've read in a long time.

Camille is definitely now one of my favorite literary characters. She's the most realistic fictional person I've ever read about. Simultaneously tough but incredibly vulnerable, someone who screws up, makes serious mistakes, but also doesn't expect or rely on other people to bail her out of the messes she gets herself in. She was not perfect and I love that about her.

I highly recommend you read this book, I devoured it in just a few short days. Simply put, it's just a really good psychological drama. The author, Gillian Flynn, has another book, Dark Places, which you can bet I'm getting my hands on very soon.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday, October 22

Apparently now I've given on up proper titles and I'm just using dates, like I'm writing in my dream journal or something. If tomorrow's post is titled Dear Diary, I'm going to ask that you folks get me some help.

I'm writing this at the dinner table. The kids had pumpkin pancakes for breakfast and my wrist keeps sticking to the table. (Apparently someone-psss....that would be me-didn't do a very good job of wiping away the syrup.) Oh, and I'm also surrounded on all sides by algebra assignments.

Last night was the boy's parent/teacher conference. Going in, we knew he was doing really well in all of his subjects except for math, where he has a big, fat, ugly F. This confounded us because we see him do his homework every day and his tests scores, while not great, aren't terrible. We were wondering if he just isn't 'getting it' since it is a high school level class, and that maybe he needed to be bumped down to something a bit easier.

Turns out, that isn't the case at all. The problem is that he's a freaking slob who turns in shoddy, sloppy work. The teacher even made the statement that sometimes she assigns more than a few sheets of work at once and the boy turns his in with some of the papers stapled upside down or backwards. She refuses to grade it looking like that, hands it back to him telling him to fix it and turn it back in, but instead (here's where the problem lies) he shoves it into his clusterfuck of a binder and that's where it lives for a few days until it gets lost, thrown away, or mixed in with all the other junk in his locker. So he's doing the work (however poorly) just not getting credit for it.

His teacher is being more than understanding and giving him a second chance to redo it and turn it all in. So that's what he's doing right now, and will probably be doing all weekend long. And of course grumbling the whole time because he's frustrated and mad at himself for not taking the time to do it right the first time.

For my part, I'm actually kind of excited that he has a teacher who is expecting more of him than he's used to giving. He's always been a good student but I've often thought that all of his A's were coming a bit too easily for him. I'm not saying he isn't smart, but I also don't have any illusions about my boy. He has never been willing to do more than the bare minimum and he seems to be predisposed to laziness. Not to mention that I've been after him to be more organized for years and always been met with rolled eyes and the halfhearted argument that his way "works" for him. Clearly, it does not.

*************************************************
I want to thank you all for the comments left on yesterday's post. I was definitely feeling a little glum. I still am, but I'm ok. I'm a control freak at heart and it doesn't take much for me to start feeling overwhelmed when life throws me a bunch of things at once that I just can't control. And Florida real estate and my daughter's stutter are things beyond my control.

I also want to leave you with a few pictures of the tree that's in front of my apartment building. Last Sunday I heard that the coming 7-10 days were going to be some of the prettiest here in the Pacific NW in terms of the changing leaves and I definitely have to agree.

These first two photos were taken early in the morning on Monday, before I took the girl to school and moments before the lawn men came and bagged up all the leaves on the ground. (Excuse the blurriness, my focus isn't good before my third or tenth cup of coffee.)Now these were taken just this morning. What a difference a few days makes.
And check out all the leaves on the ground again. It's a good thing the lawn guys will be back again on Monday.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Get An "F"

At NaBloWriMo, that is. I'm a bit disappointed in myself because when I look over last October's posts, I was sewing and baking and immediately writing about it. I really had no trouble completing all 31 blog posts. This year, my mood and attitude has been different. I'm having a harder time quickly regurgitating all of my daily experiences for the blog and certain stories I'm wanting to keep for myself. It's a bizarre phase I'm in.

But here's the latest around here:

*Pumpkin baking is in full swing. Last weekend I made my first pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin and it was delicious. Yesterday I made pumpkin cookies with a glaze and there are plans to make a pumpkin bread very soon. And Jay will be whipping up a pumpkin soup that's actually baked inside of a pumpkin. Yum.

*Yesterday I helped chaperone a field trip with the girl's class to a farm/pumpkin patch. There is a really interesting mix of Mommies in the girl's class. Because we are all so different, it never feels cliquish. I'm still so amazed by this. After living in Florida and feeling like an outsider for so long, it's so refreshing to be with a group of women who actually behave like adults and not overgrown high schoolers.

*We got an offer on our house in Florida. The bad news is that it's $20,000 less than what we owe so it will be a short sale. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this obviously. On the one hand, it will be great to be done with the house and not have to worry about it anymore. And as far as short sales go, a $20,000 difference isn't that big of a deal, especially in Florida where people owe hundreds of thousands on homes that are worth a fraction of that. But on the other hand, it makes me sad that we put so much time, effort, money, and work into the house, thinking it would pay off in the end, and it just didn't. I flashback to the weekends spent installing new siding, painting rooms, Jay on his hands and knees tiling floors or installing laminate, not to mention all the minor repairs that we did almost weekly and all the many ways in which we just tried to make it "home." It makes me sad to think we really did it all for nothing. But ultimately, it looks like it will be over soon. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

*It's parent/teacher conference time around here. This morning I had in depth discussion with the girl's teacher about her stutter. She confirmed a lot of what I already know, mainly that it isn't an all the time thing and that she'll go days without stuttering and right when we think it's gone away, she'll have a day where she can barely get the words out. It's frustratingly random and it nearly brings me to tears when she has one of those bad days. I see her getting frustrated at herself and I know that she can sense my own impatience when I just want her to spit the words out. (Jay, the boy, and I try to be very patient and understanding about this, but it can be hard at times.) The good news is that it isn't effecting her learning though, in fact she's doing above average in most areas. So I guess we just need to wait and see a bit longer.

*I've been crocheting again. I started a scarf for Jay about four months ago but just couldn't bring myself to work on it during the hot summer months when I had no desire to have a ball of woolly yarn in my lap. But it's almost done now and hopefully I'll be writing about it soon.

Let's see, other than all that, it's been the usual here. Reading, television, children and their friends, and basically just a lot of catching up on all the things I've neglected the past few months. I've been making a weekly to-do list and it feels good to be crossing things off that I've been meaning to get done for weeks now.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Patch Sunday

One of the things that Jay and I have been looking forward to is Pumpkin Patch time. You may remember that this time last year I was lamenting the fact that every pumpkin patch near me was affiliated with a church. That certainly isn't the case here in Oregon. I have yet to see even one that is connected to a church, although granted I haven't really been looking since we have so many other available options.

As far as I can tell, The Pumpkin Patch out on Sauvie Island is definitely one of the most popular ones around. We got there right as it was opening and traffic was already backed up. By the time we left an hour and a half later, traffic was backed up at least two miles. It was one of those awesome places though that had a little bit of everything: a gift shop, produce market, a cafe/eating area, corn maze, hay rides, and an animal barn. Sometimes it's hard for us to plan family activities that keep both a five year old and a twelve year old interested, so I get excited when we find things that have a little bit of something for everyone.

Jay at the produce market. (He now regrets not putting this giant zucchini at crotch level.)
Here are a few shots from within the corn maze. (If you click here, you can see an aerial shot of the maze.) The maze itself was pretty intense and although I had fun, I was glad when it ended because the girl was starting to drag and I knew that major whining was right around the corner. It took us a while to figure out that this sign meant Cow Poke. The cow seems to be enjoying it a bit too much, don't ya think? We passed this sign three different times. There were cheers all around when the end was in sight:Later on in the afternoon we drove out to Helvetia to visit the Roloff family farm, which you may or may not know belongs to the family from Little People, Big World. (You could get your picture taken with the actual mom and dad but the lines for that were super long.)
I don't watch a lot of 'reality' TV so I only know the most basic information about this family and I want to be completely honest and say that I expected to have a totally negative opinion about this particular pumpkin patch. But I didn't, and here are a few reasons why:

*It only cost $2 to get in, and that was to park. The petting zoo area was on a donation basis. There was a tour that you could buy tickets for, but we didn't do that. So to actually just come here and still have fun, cost very little. I thought that was kinda cool because I'm sure this family could have very easily jacked up the prices and people would still come.

*There was a gift shop where you could buy books and dvds and other things related to the show, but the vibe of the place didn't feel like it was about "the show." Despite this family's fame, it was all surprisingly laid back.

*Although I didn't actually speak to any of the family members, they were on the grounds, totally accessible to everyone. One of the sons was taking tickets for the tour, and the mom and dad were walking around being friendly and chatting animatedly with visitors. Again, I thought that was neat.

I think Jay put it best when he said, "It's like they're Oregonian farmers first, celebrities second."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Random Thoughts

*Wow! First off, I really want to thank you guys for all your comments over the past few days. I really wasn't fishing for comments with yesterday's post, but it's nice to know you all are out there. For now, I think I'm going to keep the blog a secret from my new friends, and then maybe casually mention it in passing. No big reveal or anything. And whatever happens, happens.

*All three of our cell phones died earlier in the week so we had to run out to AT&T that night to see what was up (we don't have a land line). Anyway, the problem was caused by some digital card inside them (or something like that-really, cell phone technology is way over my head) and the fact that since we still had Florida numbers, all of our calls were being routed down south. So, we had to get new numbers. Oregon numbers. It was kind of exciting. When I spoke to Dawn the next day about this, she said, "I'm kinda sad to see the 352 number gone. It's definitely final now." Yes, it is.

*Today at the grocery store I bought some pie pumpkins. This weekend I plan on trying my hand at a totally from scratch pumpkin pie. I'll keep you posted.

*My children are having cheap Totino's pizza for dinner tonight. They're lucky they're getting even that. Right now I have no desire to be in the kitchen for any reason other than standing here at the counter writing this and drinking my hot apple cider.

*The girl lost a tooth at school today. She's practically toothless. She keeps the local tooth fairy very busy.

*I'm about to start reading Sharp Objects, which I'm very excited about because I've heard from a couple of you that it's a dark, creepy book. Now seems like the perfect time of year for it.

*Jay's latest copy of Esquire Magazine is sitting here on the counter and Minka Kelly's incredibly narrow and tan waistline is staring back at me, making me feel bad about eating all that candy corn earlier in the day. Jay may soon have a coverless issue of Esquire.

*Speaking of Jay, the other day he and I were discussing Teddy Thompson. Jay was quiet for a while and then he blurted out this gem: "If I was named Theodore, I wouldn't go by Teddy, or Ted, or Theo. I'd go by The. The Wilson." My response: "Thank you Jay, you just gave me something to blog about on a slow day".

Today is that day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Blogging

*We are almost half way through NaBloWriMo and I'm running out of things to say. Although, I'm going to do everything to keep it from happening, don't be surprised if I miss a day soon.

*Not Hannah did a post yesterday about some of her thoughts on NaBloWriMo thus far and one of the things she mentioned, which I've observed too, is that the amount of comments we've been getting has gone way down. My readership has gotten better and I've picked up a few more followers, but the comments aren't always there to back it up. I mean, I understand why this is because the amount of comments I've been leaving has gone down too, since I just can't spend all day on the computer. I do think this is sort of a sad side effect to blogging every day. I love the challenge of writing on a daily basis and the fact that more people are reading the silliness that I put here, but I miss the daily connections that I'm able to make with all of "my people." That's kind of why I blog in the first place.

*I've been blogging since February of 2008 and in that time I've seen a lot of bloggers come and go, especially recently. It seems like everyone is having babies, starting new jobs, in new relationships, or just so busy with the crap that life is throwing at them that they have no time for blogging anymore. Again, I understand why this is, but it makes me sad. Then I start to thinking about how much longer I can keep this up. I'm sure that when I go back to work, there will be less posting, but as it is now, I can't imagine not having my blog. It's such a huge part of me.

*Which brings me to my final thought: I've made a couple of new friends lately. Women I really enjoy being with and feel comfortable around. We've even exchanged phone numbers and email addresses. (This is a big step for me.) So now my question is, Do I tell them about the blog? It was never an issue with other real life friends because they either had or read blogs already, so it seemed like a natural thing to bring up. But I don't know if these women have blogs or read them. Now, it doesn't seem like something that will ever really come up, but on the other hand, since my blog is such a huge part of who I am, to not tell them seems like I'm keeping a secret. Do you discuss your blog with your 'real life' friends?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What Really Grinds My Gears: Outsourcing

I haven't done one of these posts in so long because for the most part, I've been irritant free for the past six months. And when I have been pissy, I've chosen not to dwell on it.

Until today, when I got my latest credit card statement and saw a $59 charge. A $59 charge that I didn't make. You know what this means right? Yep, I had to call India.

I don't think about outsourcing on a daily basis. I know it exists and I know it sucks for pretty much everyone involved except the corporations and big businesses who are making money hand over fist off the backs of a cheaper workforce. I know it takes decent jobs away from Americans and I know that the people doing the jobs in India are probably getting paid way less than they deserve. I also know that every time I have to call India, I am a TOTAL ASSHOLE to the person I'm speaking to.

I don't mean to be an asshole. But when I saw the $59 charge on my credit card statement my eyes glazed over and I thought about all the many different ways I could spend $59 in one month: two tanks of gas, 12 gallons of organic milk, a few new outfits for the girl, a fun trip to the liquor store for Jay, new sneakers for the boy, etc. I know it may not seem like a lot, but that's my $59 dammit. So yes, cue bad mood.

I make the call. But of course the first person I talk to isn't a person at all and I have to stand in my kitchen screaming, "I WANT TO TALK TO A PERSON!" about six times until the machine says, "I understand you'd like to speak to a representative." Correct.

The machine puts me on hold and I'm forced to listen to what sounds like the soundtrack to an Indian wedding.

Then a fellow named "Tim" comes on. (Of course that's his real name.)

After I give Tim all of my information, the conversation that follows goes something like this:

Tim: How can I help you today Ms. Jackson?

Me: (on edge) Hi Tim, I'd like to dispute this $59 charge.

Tim: And why would you like to dispute it?

Me: (um, duh.) Because I didn't make it.

At this point, I don't know what else was said. The connection was really bad and I could hear a lot of feedback coming from the other representatives at Tim's workplace. Plus, Tim spoke really fast. I was put on hold again, forced to listen to more belly dancing music for 20 minutes, and then Tim returned. I think he took care of my problem. I also think I may have signed up for credit card protection. Not sure though. I guess I'll know for certain in a month or so.

As a side note to all of this: Have any of you watched the NBC show Outsourced? I haven't and have no desire to. I find the whole premise very ill conceived and honestly, just depressing to the point where it sorta makes my stomach ache. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Things I'm Into Right Now

*My Halloween Rats
Would it be weird to keep them out after Halloween is over? I kinda dig them.

*Jojoba Oil
A few months back Daphne mentioned using this as a facial moisturizer and getting good results. I was a bit apprehensive about putting straight up oil on my face, but I'm loving it. It sinks right in and doesn't leave me feeling greasy. Plus, it only costs about $7 a bottle, which is about $25 less than my usual moisturizer.

*My new shoes, an early birthday gift from Jay.
*This cowl neck scarf, lovingly made by Maria Rose.
*Teddy Thompson I know I've mentioned Teddy here before, but I'm sure it's been a while. I try to keep the Teddy chatter to a minimum because I know the world doesn't love depressing mood music as much as I do. But he has a new album coming out next February and in preparation I've been listening to all the old stuff. February 2011 isn't that far away, right?

*The Banksy/sweatshop opening at the beginning of last Sunday's episode of The Simpsons. If you haven't seen it already, PLEASE watch. (You can read more about it here.)




Monday, October 11, 2010

Twilight Tour:: Oxbow Park

As I mentioned yesterday, Saturday we drove out to Oxbow Park, which is about 30 minutes from downtown Portland. Many of Twilight's gloomy, forest scenes were filmed here. To make this easy on myself, I'm going to hit you with the pictures first and then some bulleted thoughts afterwards. (I know there are a lot of photos here, so if you stick around until the end, you're awesome.) *Oxbow park has over 15 miles of hiking trails. We were at the park only about two hours so we didn't have time to fully investigate everything. I'm already very anxious to go back. There's a $5 entrance fee. Well worth every penny.

*Deer were everywhere. It seemed as if every time we turned a corner, there was another family of deer chomping on some ground cover, stretching their necks to get leaves from the trees, or licking the moss off of a downed tree branch. They didn't appear to be scared of humans either. The girl and I were carrying around leaves for her leaf collection and at one point a deer came up to sniff what we had. I guess it had our people smell on it though because he wasn't too interested.

*The weather was perfect for a day at this type of moody park. It was overcast and drizzly and the temperatures were in the sixties. Even in the drippy rain, none of us were ever really cold.

*I really think my family thrives in this kind of climate. All summer long we rolled around the apartment complaining about the heat and the fact that the damn sun wouldn't go down. If we did venture out to a park, it wasn't long before someone complained about being hungry, or thirsty, or tired. But this time, the kids raced through the grey, drippy forest with no complaints. The girl didn't want to leave and the boy declared it the best park he's been to.

*Other than a few people fishing, the park was nearly deserted. (I've quickly learned that not everyone loves the wet weather as much as we do.)

*Honestly, there is more I want to say, but the beauty of it all is still sinking in and I'm having trouble finding the words. My emotions for it are that intense. Living in the south all my life, a park like this was always something out of my dreams, never really being something I thought I could experience firsthand. I know you folks are probably tired of hearing it, but I'm so glad to be here.

(Oh, and thank you all for the compliments on the new header. I think Jay may have actually taken that one. My eyes are always drawn to the man fishing, he's the speck right above the 'i' in my name.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Small, Silly, Impromptu Twilight Tour:: Part One

Friday night Jay and I watched New Moon. It sucked. There was way too much shirtless Jacob and not enough sparkly Edward. Go Team Edward! (Are the kids still doing that?) But it did remind us how we've been wanting to tour some of the places around Portland where Twilight was filmed.

The greenhouse scene was filmed here at Clackamas Community College:I wanted to get more pictures but I was sorta nervous because they was a campus cop hovering around and I didn't know if snooping around the greenhouse would get us into trouble. I also didn't really want to be forced to say why I was snooping around the greenhouse in the first place.

We next went to Madison High School, where some of the school moments were filmed. I was prepared to take pictures there, but really, it wasn't that interesting. It was just a high school, and sort of a dank one at that.

After that we went home to pick up the kids and head over to Oxbow Park, where some of Twilight's lush forest scenes were filmed, but that will be tomorrow's post because between the two of us Jay and I took almost 150 pictures of this very beautiful park and I need a bit more time to choose and edit photos.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

New Skirt

The other night I sat down and made this skirt for the girl. It was originally a skirt of mine that I had made well over a year ago but only wore a handful of times.

I feel weird wearing things that I make for myself. The sizing is always a bit off and I just never feel as polished and put together as I do when I wear store bought clothes. Although Jay has assured me that I never look like a hobo so it's probably all in my head and I need to just get over it.

Anyway, I love the fabric but it never really fit my life since I wear a lot of neutral colors. The girl though, wears her clothes loud and proud, as evidenced by the fact that she chose to pair the skirt with a rainbow striped shirt. Another thing that makes this skirt girl-approved is the major twirl factor since it was made with enough fabric to once cover my rump.

(Not sure why the chihuahua is skulking around in the photo. Probably contemplating pointlessly barking at something stupid. That's kinda her thing.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Science Kit

I really don't buy a lot of toys anymore. The boy has outgrown anything not electronic, and the girl, even though she asks for everything she sees on TV, is mostly content to play with what she already has. But she'd been saving her money for a while and was anxious to spend some of her $61. (That's a lot of saving when your main source of income is that skinflint the tooth fairy.) So earlier in the week Jay and I took her to MudPuddles, a super cute toy store not far from home.

After roaming around the store for a while and turning her nose up at all the dolls and other typical 'girl' toys, she ran and picked up a science kit. (I couldn't find it on the MudPuddles website, but it's this one by Scientific Explorer.) I was a little surprised and, I admit it, a bit scared because I thought this toy might involve a lot of work on my part, and to be honest, I'm more into letting the kids play independently these days. (Call me lazy if you like, but I truly believe that being able to entertain yourself is a wonderful skill to have.)

Anyway, when we got home I was glad to learn that all of the projects involve only very basic supervision and explanation from me, and they only take a few minutes. (The most exciting one in my opinion, was when we made our own soft crystals.)
Plus, I was even more thrilled to see that after the actual projects were complete, the girl was happy to sit and be a scientist for a bit, mixing colors and playing with her test tubes and pipettes. Now that I know the girl is into this kind of thing, I'm thinking ahead to the holiday season. Maybe a Mind Blowing Science Kit, or a Yuck! Science Kit. Who wouldn't want to make their own barf or snot?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pumpkin

It really is no secret how much I love the pumpkin. A few days ago I made my first pumpkin pie of the season. A day later I ate the last slice for breakfast.

A few thoughts on pumpkin:

*The last few times I've made a pumpkin pie, I've replaced the evaporated milk with sweetened condensed milk. It gives it a much richer flavor. But now that I write that, I kinda want a regular pumpkin pie. Plus, I think that Jay's a purist about that sort of thing.

*But I'm sure there will also be a chocolate bottom pumpkin pie sometime soon.

*I also want to make one with a graham cracker crust, the way Dani does. I tried this last year, making the crust myself by just eyeballing the ingredients and it came out okay. I need to find a good graham cracker crust recipe.

*Has anyone ever made a pumpkin pie using fresh pumpkin and not the canned variety? I'm wondering how this would work?

*Daphne keeps sending me links to delicious sounding pumpkin recipes, like Rigatoni with Pumpkin Cream Sauce. Um, yes please. Or this gluten free pumpkin pie bread.

*Of course there will be pumpkin pancakes and more pumpkin muffins.

What are your plans for the pumpkin this season? Has anyone ever tried making their own pumpkin ice cream?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Book Review:: Promise Not to Tell

Kate Cypher returns home to rural Vermont to take care of her mom, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. Soon after arriving, a young girl is brutally murdered and the circumstances surrounding it are very similar to the unsolved murder of Kate's school friend, Del Griswold, that took place three decades earlier. As even more frightening things begin to happen, Kate finds herself needing to get to the bottom of both mysteries, for the sake of her own life.

I had mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, the story was interesting, I was immediately pulled in, and I couldn't wait to find out who had committed the murders and why. On the other hand, certain parts of the book never really gained any momentum and parts that could have been sort of chilling and scary, ended up falling flat.

For instance, fairly early on you get the impression that the person behind the gruesome crimes is not entirely human. There are talks of a ghost and of one of the main characters being possessed by the spirit of Del Griswold. When the truth finally comes out, it should have been much scarier than it was. The events themselves were really scary, the way they are written about is barely scary. Maybe just Lifetime movie scary. The way the reader never really gets the big, frightening payoff, makes me think of this as a Young Adult book, but yet it isn't.

All in all though, this wasn't a bad book. I just don't feel it lived up to what it was marketed as, which was a "terrifying" and "suspenseful" ghost story. So yeah, it's a decent, easy to read story, but if you're looking for bone chilling terror, you may need to go elsewhere.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Goats in the City

Sunday morning Jay and I decided that we didn't want to hang out in the house long enough to hear the kids start their daily argument over who gets to play with the PS3 first, so we threw on some clothes and ditched them for a drive into the city in search of something fun to eat. (I guess the good parent thing to do would have been to take the kids with us, but, we really didn't want to be with them. And not everything has to be about the kids.)

We were driving along, not really headed in any direction, when I spotted this:Goats, right in the middle of the city. (I wish I could have gotten better pictures but they were pretty well fenced in. Which I imagine is how you'd want your city goats.)

When we came home I tried to find out some information about these goats. Like, um why are they there in the middle of Portland? I couldn't find anything out about these specific goats, but it turns out that it's not that uncommon. As long as you have the space and they're properly fenced in, you can have livestock in the city. Which of course I'm fine with. The goats aren't hurting anyone. It was just an odd sight to see goats in amongst the cars, tall buildings, and businesses.

Oh, and for those wondering, we ended up eating at Best Baguette, where I had a sandwich made on the biggest, butteriest croissant I've ever laid my hands on. I will be going back.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What I've Been Reading Lately

Oh my I've been reading a lot lately. I have a stack of books needing to be read and one being held for me at the library as I type this. Speaking of my library, I want to list just a few of the many reasons I love my county's library system:

*They have many of the books that have been on my to-be-read list for years but for one reason or another was never able to get in Gainesville. (The library system in Gainesville doesn't have late fees, so even if you were put on a waiting list for a book, it could be ages before you'd ever get it.)

*They only have self check out, which means I don't have to talk to anyone.

*The 'Holds' section is in the middle of the library, not behind a desk or counter. I enter the library, go to the 'Holds' shelf, find my book and go. Seriously, the fact that this is all set up in a manner in which I don't have to talk to anyone, makes me think that I'm not the only anti-social person who frowns on mindless small talk.

*They have a section of books you can buy, all on the honor system, with a little padlocked box for you to put your money in. Rest assured, if I go back and buy that Sweet Valley High book I saw on sale for twenty five cents, I will not be embarrassed because guess what? I don't have to talk to anyone.

So anyway, enough mindless chit chat. Here's a quick run-down of some of what I've been reading lately:

*Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age
Just as the title suggests, comics by various artists about the awkward teen years. I love reading this kind of stuff and I only wish I had had something like this around when I was younger. I definitely would have felt less alone. I devoured this book in just a few hours, and then I gave it to the boy so that he could read a few comics.

*Why is My Mother Getting a Tattoo? by Jancee Dunn
I've talked before about my slight obsession with Jancee Dunn and this is the second book I've read by her. It's filled with personal essays about marriage, her siblings, and her aging parents. It wasn't as laugh-out-loud funny as I had hoped, but Jancee is so likable and her writing style is so easy to read and fun that I really have no faults with this book. In fact her novel, Don't You Forget About Me, is on my nightstand waiting to be read.

*Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi PicoultThis was my first Picoult and I wanted to like it but it just didn't pull me in. After reading about fifty pages, I tossed it aside. I know that Jodi Picoult is super popular, was this just an off book? Maybe I should have started with a different title?

*Strangers in Paradise Volume One by Terry Moore
I've been trying to get my hands on this series of books about a group of friends (or are they lovers? I don't know yet, I've only read Volume one) for a while but I wanted to start at the beginning of the series and back in Gainesville I could only find Volume three. I definitely plan on requesting the rest of the series as soon as I make a dent in my book stack. As it is now, if any more of my requests come in soon, I may have to hole up in my apartment and do nothing but read for a month. Although that certainly wouldn't be a bad thing.


What have you been reading lately?