Outside my window I can see the multicolored Christmas lights we keep strung up on our back patio year-round, and beyond that the lights of the city.

I am thinking about the Morning Glory Muffins I want to make tonight. Have I ever blogged that recipe? I really should.

I am thankful for Troy. I mean, I’m thankful for a lot of things, but right now what’s on my mind is how awesome Troy is and how blessed I am to have such a fantastic husband who takes care of me and our girls with zero whining and who watches the big game in between grilling hot dogs for lunch and playing outside with Elliora and giving me a shoulder rub because I have a headache. Like, SERIOUSLY, you guys. I totally won the husband lottery, and I know it and I’m thankful for him every single day.

I am wearing a Nebraska Huskers t-shirt, a Nebraska huskers hoodie, stretch jeans with stars on them, Wonder Woman underwear that I bought in Australia, my wedding and engagement rings, tiny silver disc earrings, and a purple stretchy ponytail holder on my wrist.

I am remembering that I really do like blogging and I should try to get back into the habit, maybe. What do you think? I should also get back into the habit of reading blogs. Since Google Reader went kaplooie I basically don’t read blogs anymore. (Now I hang out on Tumblr. If any of you are on Tumblr and you follow me there, shoot me a message so I know you’re a blog reader! Or that you were a blog reader, back in the days when I blogged. Sigh.)

I am going to spend this coming Wednesday hanging out with Brenda and Bug and Heather, aka CC! Heather lives in NorCal now, so I hardly ever see her even though we live in the same state, and I miss her.

I am currently reading about six different things. Let me see. I’m reading Deadly Heat, the latest book by mystery author Richard Castle…who is the main character played by Nathan Fillion on the TV show Castle, of course. Don’t judge, they’re good books, and a lot of fun if you watch the show because they always have tons of easter eggs for fans. I’m also reading the latest Rick Riordan book, House of Hades. I’m re-reading Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl; I’m pretty much always reading one or another of Rainbow’s books. I haven’t picked either of them up for a while, but I’m also technically in the middle of reading Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. Oh, and I’ve been reading Secret Agent Josephine in Paris (by guess who!) to Elliora at bedtime almost every night since we brought our copy home. It’s a really fun book–you should probably buy a copy or three if you haven’t already.

I am hoping that all the sleep I got last night (and all the sleep I’m planning to get tonight), all the Emergen-C and vitamin C I’ve been taking, and all the peppermint tea with honey I’ve been drinking are going to keep this cold from taking over my life for the next two weeks.

On my mind: Honestly? Thor: The Dark World. I just saw it today with Bonnie and Claire, and it was excellent. And Zachary Levi, AKA Chuck Bartowski, was in it! Forget Loki; I was more excited about Fandral.

—several hours pass while we eat dinner and get the kids to bed and watch episodes of Sleepy Hollow and White Collar and I make Morning Glory Muffins—

Noticing that I really don’t like this “True Airplane Disasters!” show that Troy is watching. (He changed the channel when I asked nicely.)

Around the house we still have way too much stuff. It’s a perpetual problem with growing children, I suppose. Also, our kids are the kind who shed belongings and leave a trail everywhere they go. I’ve become mostly-resigned to the fact that our house is just never going to be perfectly neat and organized. It’s either that, or spend my days nagging everyone to pick up their crap and living in a state of constant annoyance, and I don’t want to be like that. So most of the time I sigh and let it go.

In the kitchen, there are Morning Glory Muffins cooling on the counter and a sink full of dirty dishes.

One of my favorite things is our Fiber Friday homeschooling group. It’s basically a playgroup for the kids, and a knit/crochet/stitch/drink coffee/chat group for the moms. Everyone in that group is awesome and I’m grateful for them.

From my photo archive:

Ides of March fashion, by Annalie This is Elliora's Going-To-Pick-Up-Chinese-Food-With-Daddy outfit (with optional puzzle accessory), 100% selected by her.

On the left is a photo of Annalie in an outfit chosen entirely by her in March 2008, when she was almost 4. On the right is a photo of Elliora in an outfit chosen entirely by her today, when she is two weeks shy of her third birthday.

the taste of memory

March 13th, 2013

Years ago when we lived in Ottawa, there was a coffee shop in the Glebe that served this amazing sunflower-seed hummus and cucumber sandwich on triangle-shaped multigrain bread. I wasn’t a super-adventurous eater back then, so I’m not sure what exactly prompted me to try this sandwich in the first place. Maybe a friend recommended it to me when we went there for lunch, and I wanted to look cool? I don’t know. Whatever the reason, it immediately became one of my favorite foods.

Sadly, I probably only ate three or four of those sandwiches before the coffee shop closed. Shortly after that, the Navy decided they needed Troy elsewhere and we left Canada. I tried many times to recreate that sandwich at home but could never quite do it, even though I already had a go-to hummus recipe. Eventually I gave up, deciding that maybe it was the bread, or the ambiance of the place, or the company in which I ate it that made the sandwich so tasty.

Today as I was scooping some hummus onto a plate for Elliora’s lunch, that sandwich popped into my head for the first time in probably a decade. Thinking, Eh, what the heck, I threw a quarter-cup of the Trader Joe’s hummus in the food processor with a quarter-cup of sunflower seeds and some toasted flaxseed because it happened to be sitting next to the sunflower seeds in my fridge. I added a squeeze of lemon juice and whizzed it all together as best I could, scraping the sides of the processor bowl a couple of times to make sure it all got mixed in. Then I spread that on toasted multigrain bread and topped it with a few spinach leaves because I don’t have any cucumbers at the moment.

The first bite had me laughing, because it tasted EXACTLY like I remember the original sandwich tasting. Which seems ridiculous, right? The original recipe included cucumber slices, not spinach leaves; and I’m pretty sure flaxseed wasn’t involved (although who knows, maybe it was). What are the odds that I would off-handedly, randomly create an accurate replica of something I haven’t eaten since last century, when all my previous attempts at the time failed? So I’m thinking one of two things happened here: either I really did manage to fairly accurately recreate that sandwich, or it’s been so long since I ate it that my taste buds were fooled by a good-enough facsimile.

Either way, I don’t really care. I’m happy to have a delicious new sandwich filling—one that has the power to transport me to Bank Street in 1999, sitting in a cafe that doesn’t exist anymore, watching the rain through the windows and thinking about that cool kitchen gadget at the Glebe Emporium I wish was within my budget.

happy new year!

January 16th, 2013

I am also a big fan of @wwjend's hats.
My favorite hat, knitted by my friend Jen

Oh hai there. Yes, I’m still alive. Just out of the habit of telling you all what I’m doing.

You can see the sun sinking below the horizon. Golden.

A teeny sliver of moon. This sunset is SO much prettier in person.

So…what have I been doing? Well, taking lots of sunset photos, as usual.

Sunset photographer. Checking the shot.

Annalie has also been taking sunset photos. I’d show you the photos she took, but I haven’t downloaded photos off that camera in weeks. I love Instagram along with 100 million other people, but it’s made it way too easy for me to be lazy about taking pictures with my real camera.

Homeschooling in a blanket fort.

Homeschooling is going really well lately. Annalie mostly does her daily lessons without complaint nowadays. It probably helps that she’s almost nine years old (!), and that she can do them in a blanket fort if she wants to. Also she’s not allowed to watch any TV or movies or play any computer games until she’s done with lessons and reading and her daily chores. (It’s all about knowing what exactly motivates your particular kid. If you’d told me I couldn’t watch TV till I’d done my chores and homework, I’d have shrugged and retreated to my room with a stack of books, content.)

Annalie's door art.

A lot of art is going on lately, too. Annalie always loves to draw and paint and create, but she seems to go through occasional periods when she is creating more or less constantly. It’s like she wakes up in the morning with ideas, scenes, pictures she dreamed up and she can’t do anything else until she gets them down on paper or canvas.

Annalie and her portrait of Lady Gaga.

And then sometimes, we’re eating dinner at a restaurant where the tables are covered with paper and Annalie picks up a couple of crayons and casually whips out a portrait of Lady Gaga before our food arrives.

Annalie drew herself as a mermaid. A Christmas mermaid. Like ya do.

Annalie’s Christmas-mermaid self-portrait. (What? “Christmas-mermaid” isn’t a thing?)

I love this beach scene. I love all the amazing art Annalie has been creating lately.

I love this beach scene. There are so many amazing things going on in it: the detailed sand castle, the far-away sailboat, the plumes of smoke billowing out of the cargo ship, the different colors of blue of the water and sky, and the huge crazy sun dominating everything else.

New art in the front hallway, by Annalie.

I thought the sun in the picture went rather well with the ceramic sun—purchased by Troy in some Mediterranean country while on a deployment years ago—that hangs in our front hallway. I’d tried several different paintings and photographs in that spot, but nothing looked quite right. I framed the drawing and hung it up, and it works perfectly.

Bug's creations on the left; Annalie's on the right. Re: the top right canvas,  Bug's real name starts with H. :-) @secretagentjo

My mom gave Annalie a stack of a dozen small canvases for Christmas, and I think it might have been Annalie’s favorite gift this year. She hasn’t been hoarding them, but—atypically for her, the kid who uses every sticker on the sheet in two minutes flat—she hasn’t blown through them, either. The first time she used them, Brenda and Bug were here visiting, and she generously and excitedly shared her gift. The two canvases on the left are Bug’s; the two on the right are Annalie’s. (Re: the canvas on the top right, Bug’s real name starts with H. Awwwww.)

Awesome Narnia-themed card by Annalie.

I think this is my favorite thing Annalie has drawn recently. She made this awesome Narnia-themed birthday card for friends who had a Narnia-themed birthday party. Look at it! Aslan, Reepicheep, Susan’s bow and arrows! The Dawn Treader! The painting in the Scrubb family’s guest bedroom that drew them back into Narnia! What really impressed me about all of this is that it’s been probably a year or more since Annalie has seen any of the Narnia movies and even longer since we read the first book. (And can you tell that Annalie has recently discovered Cake Boss on Netflix?)

Sequined hat, pink rhinestone shades, rocketship footie pajamas. The girl's got style.

Why yes, I do have two children, now that you mention it. This one is just harder to get photos of these days, because she’s constantly in motion. She is something else, this kid. When we ask her how old she is, she tells us, “Six.” If we try to insist she’s two, she shakes her head and airily replies, “I’m not two. I six,” before wandering off to climb on something she shouldn’t be climbing on.

Double-handed I-love-you signs.

She flashes the ASL “I love you sign” two-handed, and tells us, “I love you too!” When someone is carrying her against her will, she demands, “PICK ME DOWN.” Troy has discovered that if he reminds her to use her manners when asking for something with the phrase, “Can I get a ‘please’ in there?” then Elliora will repeat her request for food or water or whatever and tack the phrase, “please in there?” onto the end. It makes us laugh every time. She makes us laugh a lot.

Doing our part to raise the next generation of geeks. #GeekShirts

They both make us laugh a lot, these little geeklings of ours.

E: "I'll snuggle and help warm you up, Annalie!"

I think we’ll keep ‘em.

Two colorful potholders I've crocheted recently.

I’ve crocheted a few potholders recently. Some of them I’ve given away as gifts, but these two I’m keeping because the two crocheted potholders I’d been using for years both got burned on Thanksgiving.

A galaxy of crocheted stars! Some last-minute gifts a friend ordered: crocheted balls and a star ornament. Fingers crossed they get there on time!

Some star ornaments I crocheted for Brenda and Bekah, and a few crocheted balls. I’ve actually crocheted about 20 balls recently to give as gifts, but I haven’t take pictures of them all. Yes, I said “to give as gifts.” Only about three people got timely Christmas gifts from us this year, and that’s only because I ordered their gifts online and had them shipped directly. Everyone else probably thinks we suck and don’t love them anymore. And let’s just say I’m hoping to get our holiday cards mailed out before Valentine’s Day. I won’t even mention all the Christmas baking I didn’t do this year. Ironically, however, our Christmas tree is still up. (Was it just me, or was anyone else particularly unmotivated this past holiday season?)

An owly hot pad for @secretagentjo.

An owly hot pad I crocheted for Brenda, at her request. It’s meant to look kind of like her book character, Little Hoo. I think it turned out pretty good, considering I was completely making it up as I went along.

Be wholehearted.

I’ve painted some stuff, too. Have I taken pictures of most of it? Noooo. In fact, one person who had commissioned me to paint her a mug, oh, a couple of months ago sent me a very sweet note on FB, wondering if her mug had been fired. I have been very, very slow about shipping items to people lately. Lucky for me, people are mostly kind and understanding about this, but I hate the fact that I’ve been taking advantage of people’s good natures. If I have been slow about shipping something to you, please accept my humble, heartfelt apology and this reassurance: I’m so sorry I’m slow. It’s not just you. Everyone has been waiting forever for their pottery. I promise I will try to do better.

Annalie found my origami book & paper. She folded the blue hat first, then the green hat.

I hate to end a post on that slightly bummer note, so here! Please enjoy this photo of oranges wearing origami hats, folded by Annalie. She found a book and some paper that I had and has been folding all kinds of things entirely on her own. It’s kind of awesome to watch her figure something like that out without any help.

Rainbow cake on a random Tuesday: that's how I roll.

If you were here in my house, I would further brighten your day by feeding you a piece of rainbow cake, which I made on a random Tuesday because that’s how I roll. Here’s hoping you all had wonderful holiday seasons and that 2013 is full of random-Tuesday rainbow-cake goodness for everyone.