Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Here's to Greg!

I discovered the Wiggles with Kira was about 2 1/2. I'd been laid off three times already that year, with one more layoff yet to come. Money was tight. We lived in a tiny, little apartment, and I worked in a very trying job that I couldn't walk away from. Every day, I'd come home, pick up Kira, and whisk her into the bedroom to pick out a Wiggles video. My favorites were Hoop De Do and Yule Be Wiggling, but I usually let her choose. Her favorite Wiggle was Murray, the quirky red head (hmmm.... I wonder why?!) but I loved Greg. We'd sit and cuddle together and I wouldn't do anything, not fix dinner, not change clothes, nothing, till the Wiggles were over. Often Randy would come home mid-Wiggle video and sit down and watch with us. They were so purely happy, so energetic and funny and lovable that between them and my crazy little girl my spirits were lifted and I could go about my evening happily.

So, it is with sadness that I direct you to this link: Greg Wiggle, is stepping down. Apparently he's been suffering from some health issues that make touring impossible. I know he has some beautiful little ones at home that need a healthy, strong daddy, so I understand, but he'll be missed!

Kiraism of the Day

Kira: "Mommy, if I go to a Christian school where everyone loves me, and everyone loves Jesus..." pause

Me: kind of in mommy tuned out mode "uh huh"

Kira: "And I'm say a teenager, and I meet a boy who loves Jesus and loves me"

Me: "uh huh" still cleaning dishes absentmindedly

Kira: "Then I think I should go ahead and marry that boy."

Me: finally paying attention, "In this scenario are you getting married as a teenager?"

Kira: "You never know, Mommy."

Me: "Um, how about if you marry that boy after you graduate... at least from high school."

Kira: "Well, ok."

Winter Wonderland

Sunday night we here in Seattle were blessed with a dusting of beautiful, sparkling snow. Sadly, it's caused a lot of problems for people, because we're just not equipped to deal with snow, and it quickly moved from a dusting to a dumping. My poor little Volvo didn't like it and protested twice while I was trying to get home from the store Monday. Fortunately my Alaskan grown husband came to rescue me. ;)

I'm going on day three of being grounded here behind the icy drive. I'll post pictures of our snowy playground soon, but of course the kiddos are here too and crazy things like attaching camera cords are really frowned upon by the special little baby who thinks all cords belong to her and should be worn as crowns. She also thinks she should be involved in all typing experiences. You can imagine the fun I've had working from home.

One more fun note - a big HOORAY for T-Mobile, because I checked out their holiday ring tones today and I'm now sporting "Christmas on TV" by Chris Isaak on my lovely Samsung slider phone. They had not just one, but FIVE offerings by my man, Chris. I'll, of course, be downloading the others and cycling through. ;)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

And now... Christmas!!

With Thanksgiving safely behind me, I can now celebrate Christmas without any fear of the sideways glance from those who think I'm slighting Thanksgiving. And sure, I am, it's not my fault that it comes in the middle of the Christmas season. ;) And I only know one Thanksgiving song - that's not much fun.

So, without further delay - on to Christmas! First, I hope you enjoy the subtle Christmas theme to the blog. I searched for days for a good Christmas template and couldn't find one with code that would work. So, we'll have to settle for the red and green theme. ;)

OK, enough intro, my first Christmas themed post is on Christmas music. I've been playing mine since October, but for those of you just pulling out the CD's, I'll offer some suggestions. Every year I buy a few new ones, and get rid of some that just didn't quite work and I've developed a list of tried and true albums.

1) Michael W. Smith's Christmas. He has several Christmas CD's, but this is the one I can't live without. It plays like a symphony, with common musical themes throughout the songs and really captures that feeling of magic and tradition that is such a part of Christmas to me. I can easily imagine myself in a chilly stone church with a boys choir and snow falling in front of gas lamps outside while I'm listening to this. In fact, Kira was named in large part due to track 6. ;)

2) Bryan Duncan Christmas is Jesus. Another old favorite - it has my all time favorite Christmas song on it "Please Come Home for Christmas". The only version of this song that comes close, is Bon Jovi's on "A Very Special Christmas 2".

3) Russ Taff - A Christmas Song - this has lots of brass and big band sounds and has survived many, many Christmases

4) Amy Grant - Home for Christmas - she also has many Christmas albums and this is far and away the best.

5) Harry Connick Jr. - When My Heart Finds Christmas - We actually had the title song of this cd sung at our wedding! I'll readily admit that I always skip past the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, but even with that, this is a standard.

6) Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Wishes You a Swingin' Christmas - Ella, Christmas, need I say more. We've played this so many times that Kira thinks "I'm just crazy 'bout horses!" comes at the end of Jingle Bells, always.

7) Marcus Roberts - Prayer for Peace - beautiful piano album

8) Blind Boys of Alabama - Go Tell it on the Mountain - I love the Blind Boys always, and their Christmas album has a ton of energy and a good gospel feel.

9) Chris Isaak - Christmas - Well, really, it's Chris, and I'd listen to him recite the phone book. That said, this really is an outstanding album. And for any of you who might doubt his sincerity (can't think of who that might be...) I direct you to "Brightest Star". He also has some heartbreaking songs about lost love... of course... ;)

10 and 11) Brian Setzer - Boogie Woogie Christmas and Dig That Crazy Christmas - both have made it into my rotation. I believe he has 1 other out, but I haven't heard it yet.

12) Tuck Andress - Hymns, Carols, and Songs About Snow - I admit, this one grew on me, but now it's a must have. Tuck has a really unique style that you have to hear to appreciate - lots of finger picking and detailed finger work on the guitar.

13 and 14) A Very Special Christmas volumes 1 and 2 - I'm not as crazy about the other volumes but these two are must haves. See above re: Bon Jovi!

15) Diana Krall - Christmas Songs - perfect Diana Krall style applied to Christmas music - it's a no brainer.

And now for the new additions for '06!

16) Third Day - Christmas Offerings - I should first talk about my love for Third Day. I LOVE THIRD DAY!!! I've worn out Offerings 2 and several other of their CD's. They are good southern rock and love to sing about Christmas and I can't help but play this CD at full volume.

17) Sarah McLaughlin - Wintersongs - Sarah hardly has a miss and this is no exception. It's very wistful and a little melancholy at times but gorgeous. And of course no collection is complete without her bootleg duo with the Barenaked Ladies on God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. I don't know if it ever made it onto a CD, but you can iTunes the single.

Stay tuned for more Christmas themed posts, coming soon!

Happy Thanksgiving

We had a very busy, fun-filled Thanksgiving weekend this year. First, we had the "feast" at Kira's school for all the Kindergarteners, and the Thanksgiving Day assembly. I did manage to come up with a Waldorf salad recipe. Whew! Kira and her class recited a Thanksgiving poem, sang 6 verses of O Worship the King, and recited their memory verses, A-I (they learn a verse each week, corresponding with the letter of the week.) The school is very heavy on memorization, but so far Kira is keeping up and it's fun to hear all the big words coming out of her little mouth. I'm not still sure she knows what "ineffable" means. Here she is in her uniform (or part of it - the tights come off awfully quick after she comes home) reciting the poem for me:

Next, was the gathering at my aunt's house. I snapped a few pic's of the girls before we left in their holiday outfits, hamming in front of the fireplace.

After that, Randy cooked me a "gluten free" Thanksgiving at home. YAY! All the bread pudding and stuffing I could eat! Incidentally, I think Kira may have a food allergy that's causing her excema, so she's off gluten and dairy for the next two weeks. I can't tell you how thrilled she is about the special diet.

And, last but not least, my mom threw a Friday Thanksgiving meal for some friends of ours. I didn't think I could eat one more bite of turkey, but Kira "never misses one of Grandma's parties" so she dressed up and attended. She even spent the night for her long awaited sleepover! I know there was a very late night, dessert, hopscotch in the cul de sac with Grandpa and some favorite books, so it's no wonder she said she thinks she likes sleeping there better than our house, but I do still wish she preferred Mommy. Such is the curse of wonderful Grandparents. ;)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Wintry Boxer of the Day

Twice baked sweet potatoes

A new gluten free, mostly plant based recipe for your viewing pleasure. :)

This was inspired by a recipe in a cookbook I picked up at the library, but I changed it up a little bit so it had a more middle eastern flavor rather than Mexican and it was delicious! And sweet potatoes/yams are so good for you with all of that beta carotene. :)

This is a really easy recipe, but you need to be home for a while so you can bake the potatoes in the oven.

1. Wash and prick 3 sweet potatoes
2. Bake at 350 in foil lined baking pan for 1 1/2 hours
3. Split potatoes down the middle lengthwise and scoop out flesh, leaving enough around the edges for the skins to hold their shape.
4. In a bowl, combine scooped out potato, 1/2 stick butter, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cardamom, 1/2 tsp salt
5. Scoop mixture back into potato shells. Top with minced onion and a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese
6. Bake 10 minutes or till cheese melts.


BTW - I found it easier to smash up the cardamom pods with the mortar and pestle if I added the cinnamon in with it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Boxer of the Day

That's one tough lookin' boxer!!

Reasons I'm happy today...

1. I don't seem to be in danger of either sneezing uncontrollably or throwing up today. YAY!

2. The 76 station next to the Barnes and Noble near me already has it's Christmas decorations up. YAY! I'm not the only one! (And no, I don't wait till after Thanksgiving which comes right smack in the middle of the Christmas season, if you ask me)

3. I'm making forward progress on my novel again. YAY!

4. I only have 4 more days to work till my entire month off. Double YAY!!

5. And this is my very last day of being 31. Which is fun, both because I'm still 31 today, and because tomorrow I get to celebrate my birthday. I don't care if I'm turning 120, birthdays are always fun!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Boxer of the day...

She appears to be thinking about something troubling... like why she doesn't have a tail.

More on food...

Sorry for the lack of posts - between a crazy month at work and all kinds of illnesses, blogging has been crowded out.

Here's a couple of recipes I've worked on lately for my gluten free dinners:

1) Pad Thai - super easy

First of all, rice noodles are $.99. Very nice, and gluten free, of course. Take about 4 oz of them (a quarter of a package the way I get them) and cook them in 3 cups of boiling water for about 4 minutes. Then drain and rinse them with cold water.

Next, scramble an egg.

Next, in the pan where you had the noodles, cook some tofu cubes up in a little olive oil, then add back in the noodles, egg, and jar of pad thai sauce (See, I said this was easy). Just make sure there's nothing scary (aka chemical) in the sauce. Add some veggies - bean sprouts are ideal but I put in broccoli last night because that's Kira's favorite.

Once it's all heated through, serve and enjoy!

2. Chicken, broccoli, and potato casserole

First, chop up 2 potatoes into thin scallops and sautee
Next, dice some red onion, green onion, and garlic and sautee in another pan.
Dice chicken and add to pan with onion.
In a small sauce pan, add a cup of milk, and a pat of butter. Heat through then add some corn starch and bring to a boil so that it will thicken. Stir constantly! Add a bay leaf, some parsley, and tarragon and Parmesan cheese. This is the sauce that will hold the casserole together instead of cream of mushroom soup or something like that. Feel free to use soy milk in this step - I have and it works just as well.
Once potatoes are soft, layer them in a casserole dish, dump chicken mixture in when chicken is cooked through, drizzle sauce on top.

Optional: Sprinkle mozzarella on top. I've done it both ways and can't decide which I prefer.

Cook in oven at 350 for 10 minutes or so. If cheese on top - cook till cheese browns.


I also made pizza last night with a gluten free crust, but I'm still tweaking that recipe and it's not good enough to blog about... yet. ;)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Smile Greta!!

Miss Greta is now grasping the concept of smiling for the camera. Holding up the camera and saying "Smile Greta" gets a laugh on command and a wide, dimpled grin. Here is the evidence:

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Question of the Day

*warning I will be referencing current events (not spoilers) on Lost, Gilmore Girls, and Grey's Anatomy

How do writers craft characters that leap off of the page or screen and seem to live long after the book is put down or the television turned off. This is what I've been pondering lately. I just finished Grey's Anatomy Season 2 and I've been walking around sad about Denny for days. Apparently, I'm not the only one.

Some enterprising fan found tony Phelan's home number and called him asking why Denny had to die.

I won't even comment on the night I had to work after watching Luke and Lorelai break up (the first time). I was not in good shape.

And then there's Shannon's death on Lost. I was pacing the floor ranting about the insanity of it at 1:30 in the morning.

Characters in books get under my skin the same way: Jay Gatsby, Heathcliff, Sophie Zawistoski, Rhett Butler, Ellen Olenska. Many a book has been flung against a far wall when it was over.

So, what characters come alive to you - in any medium? I've decided that this is key in crafting a book that really works. I can't think of a single "classic" with characters that I don't care about.

I'll leave you with a picture of my dear Denny while you think about it. :)

Halloween at the Lemkes!

Here are some pictures from our Halloween celebration here at the Lemkes:

Gigi's first pony ride at the pumpkin patch
Gigi loved the goats!
Hanging out in the patch, waiting for the tractor to pick us back up. My pumpkin is the one in front with the funny shape. Isn't it great! It got a less than enthusiastic response from the rest of the family, but I loved it!
Gigi seems to be looking for The Great Pumpkin

Kira all dressed up for her Reformation Day celebration!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006