Friday, November 30, 2012

thank heavens for rockin' husbands

I had a terrible nightmare last night.  I blame CJane.  I've been reading her life story and have been mildly interested, although some of her rationale and choices had me scratching my head.  It all came to a point the other day when she posted the outcome of those misguided choices - an abusive relationship-turned marriage.  She tells it well.  So well in fact, that it's just haunting me - all the times I've been in less-than-stellar situations and the places those choices have taken me - and how I thankfully ended up somewhere far better than I deserve.  Holy snap I'm so thankful for my life, and how I'm miles away from where I ever thought I'd be.

My nightmare was awful, but strangely like my own decision to marry - although I was terrified but went through with it because I knew more than anything that despite my fear, this was something that was right and I had to do it.  In my nightmare I was engaged to a mysterious and angry person and wandered my parent's house on my wedding day, trying to find a way out of this horrible situation.  It didn't help that I have a raging sore throat that kept me waking up in a panic.  When I woke up from it all finally, I realized where I was and I was already married to the best guy in the universe.  Do you ever have mornings like that?  Oh, the relief!!

There isn't a huge point to this, just that being sealed to a honest, brilliant and loving partner is the greatest thing there is.  I hope you know exactly what I mean :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

365 days 320-322

Okay, so I cheated on this one.    But I'm IN is and I edited the tar out of it so I'm counting it.  It's actually from last summer.  I can't believe I'm so close to 365 - there are so many days that I just don't want to get in front of the camera, and I couldn't take another picture of my shoulder.
I like the perspective and the lighting on this one - plus the bit of the clock.
I am sure monochrome lately!  I put up a black background and tried to emulate a professional shot a friend just put on FB.  I think I mostly managed it - although my goal was to not over expose it too much, and at the very end this blue-yellow filter looked so good I couldn't help but use it.  I don't know if my photography skills are getting all that much better this year, but I'm learning some good tricks for editing.  And that's all you really need, right?  ;)

One thing I have learned though is there is a limit on total pictures you can publish on your blogger blogs.  Did you know that?  I've been posting for years on my family blog and this year has been FULL of my 365 shots and I never thought twice about it.  But all of the sudden I've hit the limit and I'm not allowed to post original sized shots and I have have to purchase most space... although so far, it lets me post resized pictures, which is kind of a hassle but I understand.  I wish I'd known about that before.  I've used lots of platforms in my 12+ years blogging and I've learned Blogger is the most accessible for me, so I'll muddle through.

And now, because that paragraph was so boring, here is a picture I found on Pinterest that made me laugh and then I imagined head Jane yelling that it was totally wrong and punching her computer in the face and then I laughed some more:

Haw.  love you Jane!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

my from scratch tortillas

I promised you tortillas today.  Like I said before, these are super easy and basic, so I feel if I am able to make them without turning them into a huge disaster, they MUST be foolproof.

I didn't figure out how to make them because I'm a tortilla snob - I did it because there are few things worse than trying to get dinner ready and realize you are out of tortillas and that would mean taking the Dude into a grocery store at dinner rush time... unnnngghhhh.  I'd rather make them myself than face that.  And it takes about the same amount of time, plus I don't need special ingredients.

I got the idea for a recipe on AllRecipes for Indian roti.  I simplified it a little and it ended up being exactly like a tortilla.  I made them first last New Years Eve for our crazy buffet, and the husband (a very picky eater - especially when it comes to my pathetic cooking) asked me if I would be offended if he said this was his favorite thing that I'd ever made.  I might have been - since it was so simple - but I don't get compliments on my cooking very often so I took it.

First, throw 2 cups flour into your Kitchenaid mixer thingy.  And 3/4 cup warm water, plus a teaspoon or less of salt.  Then let the dough hook go at it for a few minutes.   Oh, and preheat a nonstick pan up to a lowish medium-ish temperature.  It's tricky for me to get it hot enough, but not burn-y, so I start it early at a low temp so it's ready to go.

Don't let it mix too long, or it'll be too chewy.  I think if I added some lard or something they'd be softer, but these are just fine and I don't need extra lard in my diet.

Pinch off a wee bit and roll it into a ball.

Then roll it out on a floured surface until it's a nice circle looking thing.  Doesn't have to be paper thin, just use pressure to get it the way you want.

I don't put anything onto the pan, and it doesn't stick since there is plenty of flour on the tortilla.  My first one always cooks slowly, but I fiddle with the temperature and it start bubbling on each side around 30ish seconds.  I flip it around a few times and push on it to get the air bubbles poppin'.

While that's happening, I'm always rolling out the next one.   The whole process only takes a few minutes and I feel very productive while I do it.

I throw them into a pan right on top of each other and don't usually cover it until the end so they don't get too steamy or moist.  This batch made about 8 - you can make them bigger or smaller.

I have rice cooking in the rice cooker during this whole process.

And a can of black beans with a clove or two of garlic (or a dash of garlic powder) in it simmering.

I keep it super simple.  I grate some cheddar cheese and sprinkle some taco seasoning into it to give it lovely flavor, then nuke a bit of freezer corn.  I didn't have sour cream that night and didn't miss it.  I always have a container of lime juice too - and salsa is a if-I-have-it option.  But just beans, rice, cheese and lime are always enough.  Oh, if I have cilantro then booya, or if I actually cook up some beef or chicken woohoo, but the meal doesn't feel like it's missing much with just these basics.  It's delish.

WG actually eats it only with cheese then eats her beans and rice separately  and the Dude only eats the rice and cheese.  But I eat it up and feel very good about myself.  Really - if I can do it, anyone can do it.  Let me know if you attempt it.  This is my I-have 30-minutes-to-get-dinner-ready-what-do-I-have-on-hand-so-I-don't-have-to-run-to-the-store meal.  What's YOUR I-have 30-minutes-to-get-dinner-ready-what-do-I-have-on-hand-so-I-don't-have-to-run-to-the-store meal??  And pasta doesn't count.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

So maybe it's not the best idea I have this CD in my car.  But ugh - from beginning to end, it makes me feel so amazing blessed that I ever got to play with these people and SO BLASTED HOMESICK.  This song rings in my bones and I have to listen to it at full blast.  If I lived near Michael, I'd insist on rerecording the violin track, but regardless it's all gravy.  I love how every single one of us is singing on it and it makes my whole body relax on the chorus.  I'm so happy and sad all at the same time.  MUSICS WHY YOU SUCH A CRUEL MISTRESS????  And why on earth am I living in Wisconsin??  It was 12 degrees driving WonderGirl to school this morning.  Although as I was driving home the bank thermometer had moved the temp up to 14.

Thanksgiving was fabulous.  Family came in and the husband cooked everything and the kids all played beautifully and even napped and then there was shopping and then they all left and then I crashed and spent the majority of Saturday in bed.  Then Sunday we woke up early, were on the road just before 7am and drove 3 hours to a baby blessing in Iowa City, stayed for church, had some lunch then drove the 3 hours home and still made it home before bedtime.  I'm pretty impressed with that one.

Now we're back home, the Christmas tree is up and the kitchen looks like a bomb went off.  We were able to maintain sanity all week, but then people left and I got tired - and then made tacos for dinner - well, it's not pretty.  So that's my to-do for the day.  Speaking of, did y'all know I make my own flour tortillas from 3 ingredients in like 20 minutes?  I took some pictures, I think I'll make a blog post about it tomorrow.  Because I feel like if I'm ever halfway decent at cooking something, it must be the easiest thing in the world and therefore everyone should be doing it.

But for now, here's an instagram of our wee tree.

Monday, November 26, 2012

365 days 314-319

I took this with the remote.  We took a great bunch of pictures with the help of a tripod, remote and a set of dancing grandparents in the background.  It was totally spontaneous - the husband came home early and since I'd mentioned how I wanted to take a family picture before the weather got bad, told us to get dressed and head down the street to Circus World.  Not bad, I say!
Resting with the sexiest man alive.  This amazing soul made Thanksgiving dinner for us all.  Ain't I the luckiest??
Jamming with the crew on sushi night.
Spent almost the entire day in bed.  Sweet husband picked up much slack.  I watched a documentary on PSY and most of the Star Wars movies!
Got up at 6am, drove 3 hours to Iowa for a baby blessing, had some church and lunch, then got back before bedtime.  Oh thank heavens for Veggie Tales and functioning portable DVD players!!
Gearing up to deck our wee halls today!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Updating on my phone. Family is still here, and we're about to have the annual sushi party. But I'm taking a moment to share with you the funniest craigslist posting I've ever seen. Tou're welcome!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

365 days 310-313

Busy day.  But I didn't miss!  The husband and I are here enjoying the Holly Jolly Light Parade.  The kids are enjoying the candy.
Another picture from the old buildings outside Circus World.  I seriously need to grab my tripod and a real camera and get a family picture over there before it snows.
We have 8 family members coming and I'm trying desperately to get the house in a livable state.  For some crazy reason, I actually had energy this day and cleaned a ton.  I was shocked - but it was short lived and today was not the same.  It gave me hope for life post pregnancy and baby though!  This shot is of the zen I get when something has been vaccumed!
Another idea that didn't exactly pan out.  That's my shadow.  They can't all be winners.

Monday, November 19, 2012

jus' wondering

We're hosting Thanksgiving this year so I'm a crazy busy trying to ready things.  So this will be short.

But I have a question.  Especially for you educator types.  Today I went into WonderGirl's class and helped with the literacy stations - usually games involving sight words and the alphabet and writing.  The kids are all varying levels of ability.  Today we did a word family activity where the kids would have a card with something on it like "_ig" and then some foam letters to put into that space and make a word, then write that word down.  Like pig, fig, wig, etc.

My job was to help the kids out.  Now I know they are all 5 and 6, but I'm wondering what is normal... since my child is anything but.  I had some boys that only played with the foam letters and made shapes with them, and when I tried to help them they didn't know what direction to put the letters or what the letters actually were or the sounds they made.  I understand they aren't reading like WG and that's fine - but the boys had a terrible time focusing.  They'd stab their eraser, touch the other kid's letters, and after about 4 comments from me would write the letters down.

I've read how schools just aren't geared towards boys way of doing things, but what do I do in a situation like that?  I have a boy now and I'm nervous about how he'll do in school.  I'm not nervous about him being 5 and not knowing his letters or sounds - good golly, that was depressing - but if it's my responsibility to come to show them an activity and they need to fidget, where's the line between fidgeting and being off task?  What do you expect out of kindergarten level boys?

Eeep.  Thanks smart kids!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


On the way home from an errand with WonderGirl, I drove by Circus World and was struck by how dang perfect the lighting was right at that time of day, right there.  There are a few really nifty old buildings and I just couldn't help myself, I screeched the tires and turned into a parking lot at the last second.  I almost ran home for my fancy schmancy camera, but instead I just captured everything on my trusty iPhone.

Then I headed home and did some scripturing.  As far as Sundays go, today could have been much worse.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Last night

I did this. Playing the blues on a fiddle is cool, but I think what's cooler was that the drummer took this on his cell while still playing drums one handed.

Friday, November 16, 2012

365 days 307-309

Feet??  Where'd you go??
This shot took a bit of work.  Overall, it's nifty.
I am so blasted tired today that this cell picture was the best I could do.  SO TIRED!!

By the way, y'all are aware I'm trying to keep up the family blog this month as well too?  Well, I IS.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

life goals

Last night was Wednesday night, also known as The Night It Takes Me All Thursday To Get Over.  I shouldn't be so negative, but I head to church to lead the activities for the teenage girls but because of the husband's meetings, I also get to do it while wrestling my kids.  It's not pleasant.

Last night one of my counselors led a class on making life goals and how to choose, prioritize and all that.  I didn't expect to participate, because hey, I'm chasing a 3 year old.  But they gave me some paper and my 6 year old got really into it, so I figured I should try.  But I couldn't come up with any life goals, besides potty training children and maybe playing some cool festivals with my band next summer (I had a conversation with my guitarist the other day...  he had called to find out when I was due.  Why am I due just before St. Patrick's Day???  I had wanted to be all settled and ready to play summer festivals which I will be, but why on earth as a fiddler in a Celtic band would I give birth anywhere near the holy gig day?  Ugh on myself, I say).

Check out WonderGirl's life list:

Aren't those awesome??  I wish I had made one at 6 - but I can predict it would have looked something like this:

  1. Go to college
  2. Be a rockstar on the violin

And we all remember, when I graduated from grad school I had a life crisis since I'd never looked past that point.  And life just sort of fell on top of me in this huge tidal wave of things I'd never planned on within a few months - cross-country move, real job, get married, AK.  It was a LOT to live through.  But I did fulfill my other life dream and joined a band and felt like quite the rockstar indeed.  Everything was awesome.

Until I got pregnant.

Okay. okay, I could live through that - this new mother thing would add dimension to the life I'd stumbled into. Except then I left the country and had to leave my band too.  Anyone who was there knows that leaving the country was far less painful than leaving my band.  They got another fiddler and moved on.  It hurt so much to leave my dream behind.  I came back, kind of joined the band again, started another band, but living an hour away from them made everything less fluid.

And then I got pregnant again... and moved to Wisconsin.

The teacher last night had a little pity for me and my lack of life goals, I think.  She has 4 grown children and has lived in the same house for well over 20 years, and does lots of crazy cool things.  Why would I be so amazingly dull?  But I think I've learned to stop having long-term goals because I have such little control over them, plus I've already done a ton of them - traveling the world and graduating from grad school and all that.  I had new goals after that and as much as I've tried to hang on, that life I had in Georgia is gone.  I'd give anything to have it back, but I have no control over that.  Losing my dreams hurt so badly, I'm just taking life as it comes now.

It's not all bad.  I have short-term hobbies now - I want to learn how to be a better photographer, and that's a fun dream to have.  Although it is a little frustrating to try and teach myself and know no matter how hard I try, my photos will never be as good as actual photographers with kajillion dollar cameras and such.  I try to ignore that fact.  And I'm trying to not live like a hobo.  I can clean a kitchen kind of - that is a HUGE improvement!  I still can't cook, but since I cook for picky eaters, I have no motivation to fix that.

Long term, I want to raise kind, loving, successful humans.  And I'm working my butt off on it.  But there are so many variables - and they have free will to decide how they'll end up in the long run, so I try to not wrap all my hopes and dreams around them.  That's not all that healthy, I think.  Although if they DO end up kind, loving and successful humans, I'll totally take a heap-load of credit and do a happy dance.

In other news, my way cool friend Aubrey who knew me in high school (an unfortunate time, but pre-minivan days) asked me the other day if I ever watched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries because Lizzie reminded me of her. A quick google search found this image, which was discouraging since the Lizzie in the middle looks psychotic:

BUT another google search found the youtube channel for the Lizzie Bennet Diaries webseries which is a vlog adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

It pays to have friends like Aubrey.  What an awesome Monday find!  You should watch them from the beginning and get addicted, but I warn you, you'll watch at 63 webisodes and discover it's only half-way through and then you'll have to wait.  ugh.  That's exactly why I haven't read the Hunger Games yet.  I got into Harry Potter WAY too early and had to wait years between books and movies.  I hate waiting.

Maybe my new dream will be to get a video camera thingy and learn to take videos and edit them and start a web series.  About whatever it is the the Dude is doing in the next room.  Which from the sound of it, is complimenting all his toys for doing a good job.  I'd watch that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

professor reva, camera expurt

I'm going to give you a wee photography head's up today.  I know, the last person to be giving photography advice is me, but I discovered a pretty nifty trick I just had to share, and it works for any camera with a flash - fancy schmancy or point n' shoot.

You know how when you use a flash, it can totally wash out whatever is closest to you and you can't see anything in the background?  our house has terrible lighting, which makes life a little more difficult for me since I never leave the house and take massive amounts of pictures of my children.   Real photographers have external flasses that they can adjust and wiggle around, but I'm not a real photographer or have a job where I can go out buying fancy stuff for my hobby.  One solution is a  Light Scoop, which you can put on your fancy schmancy SLR and it reflects the light up toward the ceiling and diffuses the light a bit.  Here's an example from their website:

See the difference before and after?  It's really awesome and I love mine,  The only problem is, we have really tall ceilings so it doesn't work very well in the main part of the house where we always hang out.  So when WonderGirl had a her huge birthday party here a few weeks ago, I was doomed to either have washed out pictures or to not use the flash at all - which, because of the low light, would result in lots of blurry pictures since kids refuse to ever stay still for a picture.

I went on Pinterest and found lots of ideas, one which was free and super handy.  I made my own thingy to diffuse the light of the flash a tad with a piece of plastic I cut from a milk carton!  I made you a picture to explain:

See?  I cut a piece out of the milk carton, then held it over the flash as I took the picture.  It took a bit of the harshness out of the flash but left me with enough light to get everyone.

Here's an example of a pic the husband took with the pop-up flash on the SLR:

 See, the ones closest up look like ghosts.  I'm the big pregnant blob in the corner handing the husband my make-shift diffuser and asking him to please use it in the next shot.  Which he did.
 See the difference in the color of the table cloth and the closest kid's faces?  It's not perfect, but it was just right to catch all these kids running around the house.

WG doesn't look like a ghost, or a blur, even though I'm using the flash right in front of her!

I took two pics with my point n' shoot, just to be clear this was possible with any camera.  My "diffuser" is resting next tot he SLR.  First, with the flash on:
 Now, flash on WITH my hand-held, handmade, makeshift diffuser:
The map in the background isn't in the dark and the closer camera isn't washed out.  Is it perfect, no, but is it better?  yep, and I have a lots of cute non-blue non-ghost pictures of WG's birthday part to prove it!

You can buy ones that hook onto your camera, and maybe I'll look into those some day.  For now, this free and easy hack worked great.

And yeah, you should totally pin it too :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

365 days 303-306

In our relationship, I am not the responsible one.  Except for Saturday, when I went through the mail (that I don't understand) and totally weeded it out.  Grown up me!
Twas raining.
I found the best place in the house for lighting, and messed around with a backdrop.  And then I listened to some really good music and wanted to know what it looks like when I hear that killer awesome high C that Stuart Duncan plays on Attaboy.  It looks like this.

I went somewhere!!  It's so hard to have inspiration to take pictures when I'm ALWAYS at home or have my arms full of children.  But today a super awesome friend invited me over for lunch and there are train tracks by her house, so I took my pregnant butt, camera and tripod down the street and took the risk of getting arrested for trespassing so I could look artsy-fartsy.  Mission accomplished!

HEAR YE. I need to document the fact that I ran 3 miles and didn't feel like death.  So just to make sure it wasn't a fluke, I did...