Sunday, December 31, 2006

I have a confession to make . . .

The truth is that my natural inclination is to dress each day like a parrot on acid. Every fiber of my being aches to be garbed in a rainbow of festive colors. It's taken years, but I've come to understand that this is not a good look for me, and that I am a tad young to pull this off as a side effect of being eccentric.

Knitting has generally helped with this problem - it allows me to add a brightly colored scarf or tank to an otherwise somber outfit, and thus, throw a bone (or sunflower seed) to my inner parrot. This week, though, I started a "ski" sweater to bring with me to Yellowstone in February, and the yarn I bought on eBay is even brighter than I realized. (la will recognize this as the top-down raglan pattern, modified for a V neck).

Will this sweater scare the wolves away? Will it lead to my fellow expedition members leaving me on an ice floe to quietly fade away? Only time will tell . . .

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Twelve Keys to Happiness:

No. 12 - Let Your Heart Be Your Guide.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Today I went to Barnes and Noble, courtesy of a Christmas gift card. My scores were:

Cooking Light 2007 - at the end of every year, Cooking Light puts all the recipes from the previous year's magazines into one book - this is my twelfth in the series.

The Gourmet Slow Cooker - Since I have a couple bottles of Guinness Stout in the 'fridge, I think I'll try the Beef Guinness Stew this weekend.

What Came Before He Shot Her by Elizabeth George - autographed! This is George's latest in the Inspector Lynley series.

Simisola by Ruth Rendell - Rendell is one of the finest writers working in the mystery genre.

A 2007 Calendar - half price!

On a different note, a few years ago I read a biography of Queen Elizabeth I. It is well known that Elizabeth eventually had her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, beheaded, after she was presented with proof (arguably dubious) that Mary had plotted with others to assassinate Elizabeth. What is often overlooked is that Elizabeth repeatedly refused to order Mary's execution despite incredible pressure to do so (most believed Mary had been involved in the death of her husband) because she feared the precedent she would be setting - that it was an acceptable alternative to execute a fellow head of state - even one who had been deposed. Elizabeth's wisdom allowed her to remain in power and the reigning monarch for decades despite the demands of Parliament and her advisors to find a suitable mate, to whom she would doubtless have had to relinquish power. Such wisdom is, indeed, a rarity.

The Twelve Keys to Happiness:

No. 11 - Stay close to family and friends.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The girls are very attentive when they see french fries in their future . . .

The Twelve Keys to Happiness:

No. 10 - Believe in Yourself!

One of the things I have enjoyed most about blogging is learning how many amazing, creative, funny people are out there in the cyber world!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Twelve Keys to Happiness:

No. 9 - Face Your Fears.

Speaking personally, there is zero chance that I will try to overcome my bug phobia. But I will try to work on my fears of intimacy and taking a chance at greater success.

In remembrance of President Gerald Ford

In 1976, while he was running for re-election, Ford was scheduled to make an appearance at Mile Square Park in Orange County. My parents knew alot of local politicians, and I was volunteered, along with a bunch of other teenagers, to set up the platform and pass out flyers noting the appearance.

A platform with seating and a microphone was set up, and we decorated it with pretty cornball decorations - a lot of red, white and blue streamers. I managed to piss off the secret service by going back on the platform to touch up after it had already passed the safety inspection, but since 15 year old white girls aren't on many profile lists of suspected assassins, he let me go with a warning.

Our reward for the work was to get a front row place as Ford walked by, accompanied by John Wayne, who introduced Ford to the crowd. I don't remember what Ford said - the speech was pretty short - but I can say that he was the last Republican I supported.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Re-plant my sideyard with native vegetation, and hopefully get it certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. To get certified, you must provide food, water, cover and places to rear young. They have certified everything from large pieces of land to city-dweller balconies.

I have found a couple of local nurseries that specialize in native vegetation, and that will also help with landscaping, and I've enlisted my brother and a neighbor to help with removing all my overgrown lantanas. Native vegetation is more likely to attract butterflies and birds and is also drought resistant. I may, though, try to find a spot to re-plant the lavender.

The Twelve Keys to Happiness:

No. 8 - Exercise.

The girls and I have walked 3 miles today, and found another benefit of exercise - we passed Sandra Bullock saying good bye to her father, and sending him on his way after Xmas!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas to all!

And in the words of Charles Dickens, may we all keep the spirit of Christmas in our hearts year round. God bless us, every one.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Can Hamburger Helper be far behind?

I bought a Crock Pot to prepare Barbecue Beef for sandwiches on Christmas Day. I've got my roast and BBQ sauce cooking on "Low" for 8 - 10 hours . . . and I'm actually looking forward to trying out some other Crock Pot recipes. Some times I think I missed my true calling as a Mid-western house wife.

Rat patrol, Day One -

No overnight signs of rat activity, and no dead rat in my supercalifragilsticespialidocious electronic rat trap. The wait continues . . .

The Twelve Keys to Happiness:

No. 7: Love your work.

I can't say I love my work day in and day out, but I have been making some changes over the last few years that have definitely improved my outlook, and I hope to continue on this path.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

This is the Victor Electronic Rat Trap by Woodstream.

According to the box, I can "Get Rid of Rats Quickly and Safely. Never Confront a Live or Dying Rat Again."

"Electronic rat trap activates when rat touches metal plates inside the plastic housing and completes the circuit. Patent pending electric rat trap design prevents escapes. Electronic rat trap kills rat in moments. Patent pending three plate design. Reduces escapes providing a 90% kill rate. Green indicator light: Flashes for up to 24 hours to signal that a rat is in the rat trap. Voltage applied for up to 2 minutes to insure death. Effective, quick kill. Easy to use, easy to bait. Just bait with peanut butter. For indoor use. Requires 4 "C" batteries (not included). Can exterminate approximately 12 rats on one set of batteries."

Please, God, let this work. I don't want to use poison, so that it will crawl into the wall and die. I don't want to use a glue trap so that I can find a stuck rat gnawing its leg off, and have to try to figure out how to drown it humanely. And I don't want to use a huge, spring loaded trap either.

Sure, this cost 10 times as much as the other options, but it will be worth every penny if it works. I have the batteries. I have the peanut butter. Tonight we will try it out . . .

p.s. I suppose this goes without saying, but I did manage to shock myself while putting it together. It didn't kill me, but I am about 200 times bigger than a rat.

I smell a . . .

I found some droppings in the big drawer where I keep the dish towels in the kitchen - judging by the size, this ain't no cute, cuddly mouse - it's got to be a rat living behind my kitchen cupboards, and I am not happy about this at all. I put the bird seed in a sealed container, but left some fruit in the fruit bowl on the counter (stupid, I know). So I'm glad to see that the rat got his vitamins from the bits of pear and apple he ate last night.

I have no problem with putting out poison, so long as I can put it where the dogs can't get it. The problem is finding the rat after it dies, and if it goes behind the kitchen cupboards it will be a disaster. The smell of a decomposing, poisoned rat is not something that is not easy to forget, nor is it easy to get rid of.

So this morning, after we hit Target when it opens at 8 am, the girls and I are heading off to Home Depot to explore our rat trapping/killing options. (Hanna loves to ride in the car, and Samantha hates to be left behind). I found some good options on the internet, but I'm not sure I can wait for UPS to deliver to deal with this problem.

All I have to say is . . . . YUCK!

The Twelve Keys to Happiness:

6. Limit television.

On the one hand, I think this is not difficult to do, mainly because although I may have 100s of channels,there is nothing much worth watching. But I know that I have the bad habit of always having a tv on in the house.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Hopefully, it is just one . . .

I've got a mouse in the house . . . I figured this was the case the way the dogs were sniffing around the baseboards, and I found where the mouse had eaten into the bag of wild bird seed (and neatly consumed some sunflower seeds). I really, really don't want to put out glue traps, but I also know that having mice (a mouse?) in your house is a bad thing. When I had a problem in the garage (not only mice, but a rat), I put out poison, and the problem was solved. Ok, it was solved once I found where the rat had gone behind a wall to die. Shortly thereafter, Hanna caught a mouse in the house (Elmo was his name) that I ended up re-habbing and releasing in a field, but that is a story for another day. (I still look longingly at the mice at Petco).

There is an empty lot behind the house, so we get the occasional mouse around here. For awhile there was a gal living downstairs who came to talk to me as the landlady because she was concerned that the mouse she had seen could give her dog the Bubonic Plague. I explained to her that it was a 21st Century Orange County field mouse she had seen, not a 14th Century European sewer rat, and I thought it was unlikely that the mouse was a carrier.

Anyways, I need to find a way to get rid of this mouse before I name him.

The Twelve Keys to Happiness -

5. Read Books.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My family is coming over Christmas morning to my house, and I'm trying to plan out food for the day. We've never really had a big Christmas dinner on Christmas day; it's always been more sort of open house noshing type food. So I'm going to make Overnight Caramel French Toast from Cooking Light Magazine for brunch, along with some sausage and a fruit salad, and then put out a buffet for lunch/dinner. Although chili is the "tradition", I think I'm going to prepare BBQ Beef Sandwiches instead. I made this french toast before and it is yummy - both for brunch or later, warmed up with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup light-colored corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
Cooking spray
10 (1-ounce) slices French bread (soft bread such as Pepperidge Farm)
2 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine first 3 ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until mixture is bubbly, stirring constantly. Pour mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Arrange bread slices in a single layer over syrup in dish.

Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour egg mixture over bread slices. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over bread.
Bake at 350E for 50 minutes or until golden. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1 piece)CALORIES 314 (21% from fat); FAT 7.2g (sat 3.2g,mono 2.8g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 6.2g; CHOLESTEROL 57mg; CALCIUM 128mg; SODIUM 360mg; FIBER 1.1g; IRON 1.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 57.4g

For the last few weeks, when I get in a particularly bad mood at work, I listen to Green Day's American Idiot, and it perks me right up (ok, well sort of - as perked up as I can get at work).

What do you listen to as a means to an improved mood?

I have recently finished two books - both audible - -

The first is Charlie Wilson’s War, the story of how a scandal plagued Texas Congressman ( democrat by the way) and a rogue CIA agent conspired to launch the largest covert operation in history, by which they funneled billions of dollars to support the Afghan "freedom fighters" in their war with the USSR, giving the USSR its own unwinnable Vietnam. Of course, it also lead to the rise of militant Islam, and funded the very terrorists we are battling today. The book is fascinating and truly frightening. I was reminded of how little we know about what our government is actually doing both at home and around the world. As little as 9 years before 9/11, we were sending 100s of millions of dollars to these terrorists. It wasn't until the Clinton presidency that the money train stopped rolling into Kabul.

"After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper..." So begins
The Meaning of Night. I found the premise of this book especially interesting - an editor has supposedly been given a diary/confession written in the 1850's, and has published it, with a minimum of comment. What comes thereafter is a tale of ultimate betrayal. The narrator has been robbed of an education, inheritance, title and true love by his enemy, Phoebus Daunt, but ultimately gets his revenge, albeit at a terrible price.

Now playing in my car and on my iPod are The Johnstown Flood by David McCullogh and Capital Crimes by Jonathan and Faye Kellerman.

The Twelve Keys to Happiness:
No. 4 Do Things You’re Good At.

What things do you like to do? For me, this would be knitting, cooking and jewelry making. I feel like I am good at all three, and I enjoy each.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Separated at birth . . .

Alfalfa and Josh Hartnett

The Twelve Keys to Happiness:

3. Help others.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Christmas Meme.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Wraps them - but more and more, puts them in gift bags.
3. Colored lights on tree/house? Colored lights. I don’t plant white flowers in my gardens - color all the way!
4. Do you hang mistletoe? Some times.
5. When do you put your decorations up? Two to three weeks before Xmas.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? We always have chili on Xmas day.
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: See #13 below.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I held on for years, but finally noticed that Santa used the same wrapping paper as my mom.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Growing up, we opened gifts from the folks on Xmas Eve, and those from Santa on Xmas morning.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Lights and ornaments. I have boxes of very nice ornaments, that have remained boxed since I adopted the dogs. Now I just use cheap ornaments from Target, but the tree still looks nice.
11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? It’s a rare treat, so love it. Ask me again after I get back from Yellowstone in February.
12. Can you ice skate? Not to save my life.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? My own fishing rod. I also loved a play house that my grandmother had bought me for when I was five for Xmas, but since she died over Thanksgiving, she never got to see me enjoy it.
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Spending time with friends and family.
15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Chocolate cake.
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Decorating the tree.
17. What tops your tree? As a kid, an Angel; now, a star.
18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving.
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole.
20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? I don’t eat them much now, but when we used to go camping in Girl Scouts we would use them to create what we called a Girl Scout Sundae - stick a peppermint stick into an orange and suck on it until it becomes a straw by which you enjoy the juice of the orange! Of course, we also used to drink hot jello (always served with Cheez-its) and eat Spam.

The Twelve Keys to Happiness:

2. Stay inspired.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Twelve Keys to Happiness:

1. Have a Sense of Wonder.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Last night, I went and saw the Nutcracker Ballet performed by the St. Petersburg Ballet Company at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The ballerina dancing Clara was lovely, and the Prince/Nutcracker partnered her nicely. In an offbeat celebrity sighting, Kobe Bryant was sitting a few rows in front of us with his wife and young daughter. There were lots of children there, and it was fun to see all the little girls wearing their very best party dresses.

I invited a friend who is a single mom, and is putting herself through nursing school - it was her first ballet, and I think she enjoyed it. It's always fun to have an excuse to get dressed up and drink champagne. We finished up the night at a local bar, where I had fun flirting with a fella ten years younger than me. Nanners was nice enough to let me sleep in until 7:30(!) this morning, and today we are just being lazy, and hanging around the house. Amazingly, I have even correctly picked a few games in the local football pool.

How was your weekend????

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Littlest Angel, my favorite Christmas story as a child. I still think its lesson - of giving from the heart - is a valuable one:

Once upon a time...

Oh, many, many years ago as time is calculated by men--but which was only Yesterday in the Celestial Calendar of Heaven--there was, in Paradise, a most miserable, thoroughly unhappy, and utterly dejected cherub who was known throughout Heaven as The Littlest Angel.

He was exactly four years, six months, five days, seven hours and forty-two minutes of age when he presented himself to the venerable Gate-Keeper and waited for admittance to the Glorious Kingdom of God.

Standing defiantly, with his short brown legs wide apart, the Littlest Angel tried to pretend that he wasn't at all impressed by such Unearthly Splendour,and that he wasn't at all afraid. But his lower lip trembled, and a tear disgraced him by making a new furrow down his already tear-streaked face--coming to a precipitous halt at the very tip end of his small freckled nose.

But that wasn't all. While the kindly Gate-Keeper was entering the name in his great Book, the Littlest Angel, having left home as usual without a handkerchief, endeavoured to hide the tell-tale evidence by sniffing.' A most unangelic sound which so unnerved the good Gate-Keeper that he did something he had never done before in all Eternity. He blotted the page!

From that moment on, the Heavenly Peace was never quite the same, and the Littlest Angel soon became the despair of all the Heavenly Host. His shrill, ear-splitting whistle resounded at all hours through the Golden Streets. It startled the Patriarch Prophets and disturbed their meditations. Yes, and on top of that, he inevitably and vociferously sang off-key at the singing practice of the Heavenly Choir, spoiling its ethereal effect. And, being so small that it seemed to take him just twice as long as anyone else to get to nightly prayers, the Littlest Angel always arrived late, and always knocked everyone's wings askew as he darted into his place.

Although these flaws in behaviour might have been overlooked, the general appearance of the Littlest Angel was even more disreputable than his deportment. It was first whispered among the Seraphim and Cherubim, and then said aloud among the Angels and Archangels, that he didn't even look like an angel!

And they were all quite correct. He didn't. His halo was permanently tarnished where he held onto it with one hot little chubby hand when he ran, and he was always running. Furthermore, even when he stood very still, it never behaved like a halo should. It was always slipping down over his right eye.

Yes, and it must be here recorded that his wings were neither useful nor ornamental. All Paradise held its breath when the Littlest Angel perched himself like an unhappy fledgling sparrow on the very edge of a gilded cloud and prepared to take off. He would teeter this way--and that way--but, after much coaxing and a few false starts, he would shut both of his eyes, hold his freckled nose, count up to three hundred and three, and then hurl himself s 1 o w 1 y into space! However, owing to the regrettable fact that he always forgot to move his wings, the Littlest Angel always fell head over halo! It was also reported and never denied, that whenever he was nervous, which was most of the time, he bit his wing-tips!

Now, anyone can easily understand why the Littlest Angel would, soon or late, have to be disciplined. And so, on an Eternal Day of an Eternal Month in the Year Eternal, he was directed to present his small self before an Angel of the Peace.

The Littlest Angel combed his hair, dusted his wings and scrambled into an almost clean robe, and then, with a heavy heart, trudged his way to the place of judgment. He tried to postpone the dreaded ordeal by loitering along the Street of The Guardian Angels, pausing a few timeless moments to minutely pursue the long list of new arrivals, although all Heaven knew he couldn't read a word. And he idled more than several immortal moments to carefully examine a display of aureate harps, although everyone in the Celestial City knew he couldn't tell a crotchet from a semiquaver. But at length and at last he slowly approached a doorway which was surmounted by a pair of golden scales, signifying that Heavenly Justice was dispensed within. To the Littlest Angel's great surprise, he heard a merry voice, singing!The Littlest Angel removed his halo and breathed upon it heavily, then polished it upon his robe, a procedure which added nothing to that garment's already untidy appearance, and then t i p - t o e d in!

The Singer, who was known as the Understanding Angel, looked down at the small culprit, and the Littlest Angel instantly tried to make himself invisible by the ingenious process of withdrawing his head into the collar of his robe, very much like a snapping turtle. At that, the Singer laughed, a jolly, heartwarming sound, and said, "Oh! So you're the one who's been making Heaven so un' heavenly! Come here, Cherub, and tell me all about it!" The Littlest Angel ventured a furtive look from beneath his robe. First one eye. And then the other eye.

Suddenly, almost before he knew it, he was perched on the lap of the Understanding Angel, and was explaining how very difficult it was for a boy who suddenly finds himself transformed into an angel. Yes, and no matter what the Archangels said, he'd only swung once. Well, twice. Oh, all right, then, he'd swung three times on the Golden Gates. But that was just for something to do!

That was the whole trouble. There wasn't anything for a small angel to do. And he was very homesick. Oh, not that Paradise wasn't beautiful! But the Earth was beautiful, too! Wasn't it created by God, Himself? Why, there were trees to climb, and brooks to fish, and caves to play at pirate chief, the swimming hole, and sun, and rain, and dark, and dawn, and thick brown dust, so soft and warm beneath your feet!

The Understanding Angel smiled, and in his eyes was a long forgotten memory of another small boy in a long ago. Then he asked the Littlest Angel what would make him most happy in Paradise. The Cherub thought for a moment, and whispered in his ear.

And then, in all those timeless days that followed, everyone wondered at the great change in the Littlest Angel, for, among all the cherubs in God's Kingdom, he was the most happy. His conduct was above the slightest reproach. His appearance was all that the most fastidious could wish for. And on excursions to Elysian Fields, it could be said, and truly said, that he flew like an angel!Then it came to pass that Jesus, the Son of God, was to be born of Mary, of Bethlehem, of Judea.

And as the glorious tidings spread through Paradise, all the angels rejoiced and their voices were lifted to herald the Miracle of Miracles, the coming of the Christ Child.The Angels and Archangels, the Seraphim and Cherubim, the Gate-Keeper, the Wingmaker, yes, and even the Halosmith put aside their usual tasks to prepare their gifts for the Blessed Infant. All but the Littlest Angel. He sat himself down on the top-most step of the Golden Stairs and anxiously waited for inspiration.

What could he give that would be most acceptable to the Son of God? At one time', he dreamed of composing a lyric hymn of adoration. But the Littlest Angel was woefully wanting in musical talent. Then he grew tremendously excited over writing a prayer! A prayer that would live forever in the hearts of men, because it would be the first prayer ever to be heard by the Christ Child. But the Littlest Angel was lamentably lacking in literary skill. "What, oh what, could a small angel give that would please the Holy Infant?"The time of the Miracle was very close at hand when the Littlest Angel at last decided on his gift.

Then, on that Day of Days, he proudly brought it from its hiding place behind a cloud, and humbly, with downcast eyes, placed it before the Throne of God. It was only a small, rough, unsightly box, but inside were all those wonderful things that even a Child of God would treasure!A small, rough, unsightly box, lying among all those other glorious gifts from all the Angels of Paradise! Gifts of such rare and radiant splendour and breathless beauty that Heaven and all the Universe were lighted by the mere reflection of their glory! And when the Littlest Angel saw this, he suddenly knew that his gift to God's Child was irreverent, and he devoutly wished he might reclaim his shabby gift. It was ugly. It was worthless. If only he could hide it away from the sight of God before it was even noticed!

But it was too late! The Hand of God moved slowly over all that bright array of shining gifts, then paused, then dropped, then came to rest on the lowly gift of the Littlest Angel! The Littlest Angel trembled as the box was opened, and there, before the Eyes of God and all His Heavenly Host, was what he offered to the Christ Child.

And what was his gift to the Blessed Infant? Well, there was a butterfly with golden wings, captured one bright summer day on the high hills above Jerusalem, and a sky-blue egg from a bird's nest in the olive tree that stood to shade his mother's kitchen door. Yes, and two white stones, found on a muddy river bank, where he and his friends had played like small brown beavers, and, at the bottom of the box, a limp, tooth-marked leather strap, once worn as a collar by his mongrel dog, who had died as he had lived, in absolute love and infinite devotion.

The Littlest Angel wept hot, bitter tears, for now he knew that instead of honouring the Son of God, he had been most blasphemous. Why had he ever thought the box was so wonderful? Why had he dreamed that such utterly useless things would be loved by the Blessed Infant? In frantic terror, he turned to run and hide from the Divine Wrath of the Heavenly Father, but he stumbled and fell, and with a horrified wail and clatter of halo, rolled in a ball of consummate misery to the very foot of the Heavenly Throne!

There was an ominous and dreadful silence in the Celesti'al City, a silence complete and undisturbed save for the heart-broken sobbing of the Littlest Angel. Then, suddenly, The Voice of God, like Divine Music, rose and swelled through Paradise! And the Voice of God spoke, saying, "Of all the gifts of all the angels, I find that this small box pleases Me most. Its contents are of the Earth and of men, and My Son is born to be King of both. These are the things My Son, too, will know and love and cherish and then, regretful, will leave behind Him when His task is done. I accept this gift in the Name of the Child, Jesus, born of Mary this night in Bethlehem."There was a breathless pause, and then the rough, unsightly box of the Littlest Angel began to glow with a bright, unearthly light, then the light became a lustrous flame, and the flame became a radiant brilliance that blinded the eyes of all the angels!

None but the Littlest Angel saw it rise from its place before the Throne of God. And he, and only he, watched it arch the firmament to stand and shed its clear, white, beckoning light over a Stable where a Child was Born.There it shone on that Night of Miracles, and its light was reflected down the centuries deep in the heart of all mankind. Yet, earthly eyes, blinded, too, by its splendour, could never know that the lowly gift of the littlest Angel was what all men would call forever


Friday, December 15, 2006

Ok, so these are the lady celebrities I supposedly resemble . . . in my dreams!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

In honor of tonight's Biggest Loser finale . . .


Take off, and keep off, 10 pounds, and more importantly, exercise regularly.

Sometimes when I have to hit the road early in the morning, I treat myself to a Sausage McMuffin with Egg, and today, after an early morning trip to Van Nuys, was one of those mornings. Why does something so bad for you have to taste so good? And because I didn't want the extra grease of a hash brown patty, (and so declined the "meal" option), it actually cost me more money.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Knit for charity.

A couple of years ago, I knit a baby blanket and donated it to a local chapter of Binky Patrol - a group that gathers knitted or crocheted baby blankets and distributes them to needy and sick children. There are many such groups across the country, and I think it is a worthwhile cause. As an avid knitter, I know the time and energy that goes into a knitted blanket, and I think this makes it different than a blanket bought at the store. For lack of a better way to say it, I think it carries with it love and positive energy that makes it more comforting to sick or lonely children. Maybe that is delusional, but I plan to try my theory out again in 2007.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Today I received an email with this tip (for "experienced knitters") from KnitNet:

"When I'm knitting small items like Barbie™ clothes, I take the sized ends from my interchangeable circular knitting kit (Editor's note: Denise is one brand) and put rubber stitch stoppers on the ends. I can then use them as tiny knitting needles. I do this to make working on such a small piece more comfortable and less tedious."

If anyone gets wind that I have started knitting Barbie clothes, please kill me. Unless, of course, I get a small dog named Barbie, then it is okay.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dinner tonight was one of my favorite recipes - Kung Pao Chicken from the December 2005 Cooking Light Magazine. I have made this recipe a few times, and highly recommend it, especially if you like spicy food.

1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
4 cups broccoli florets
1 tablespoon ground fresh ginger (such as Spice World), divided
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped salted peanuts

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add broccoli and 2 teaspoons ginger to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add water. Cover; cook 2 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender. Remove broccoli from pan; keep warm.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in pan; add remaining 1 teaspoon ginger, crushed red pepper, and chicken. Cook 4 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned, stirring frequently.
Combine broth and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl, and stir with a whisk. Add broth mixture to pan; cook 1 minute or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Return broccoli mixture to pan; toss to coat. Sprinkle with peanuts. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup chicken mixture and 1 1/2 teaspoons peanuts)

CALORIES 239 (30% from fat); FAT 7.9g (sat 1.1g,mono 3.7g,poly 2.3g); PROTEIN 30.9g; CHOLESTEROL 66mg; CALCIUM 60mg; SODIUM 589mg; FIBER 3g; IRON 1.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 11.4g

Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2005

Sixth time is the charm . . .

After starting and ripping apart the lacy, wavy cuff five times, I have finally made some progress on these Cowboy Slipper Socks made from Bison Wool. I am knitting these for my mother for Christmas. The Bison Wool is super warm and soft, and I wouldn't mind keeping them for myself . . . but that is not the proper holiday spirit.

Oh, and that box on the floor in the first photo, is the box of work I brought home this weekend that I am avoiding like the plague, but that I must get to this afternoon.

The beach the morning after our first storm of the year . . .

Enjoying the morning sun . . .

Saturday, December 09, 2006

If you haven't been watching The Wire on HBO, don't start now . . .

Tomorrow is the Season 4 finale - wait and watch the whole season on DVD - or better yet, start with Season 1 and enjoy the whole, wild ride.

Set in Baltimore, this show has explored the drug epidemic, corruption on the docks, in the political system and in the schools, and is one of the best, and most challenging shows on TV. Written by veteran writers, including Dennis Lehane (Mystic River) and George Pelecanos, it presents a disturbing picture of the problems facing cities across this country, and both the people who try to solve the problems, and those that cause and take advantage of those problems. It pulls no punches, and will leave you reeling. I highly recommend this show.

This is the best photo I could get of the earrings I made today for gal pals at work. Our office party is next Thursday, so I needed to get them done this weekend. From left to right they are: coin pearls and onyx; amethysts and white topaz; beige and white pearls; smoky quartz and pearls; and coin pearls and amethysts. And now I can see that one of the amethyst and white topaz earrings is longer than the other.

The dogs and I were trapped in the house for the past couple of hours waiting for the deck paint to dry on the front porch and stairs. They drove me crazy, but I did accomplish something! And I think the paint fully dried before the rains came . . . or at least I hope they did.

Friday, December 08, 2006

This morning I finished A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. (I like to read in the bath tub . . .). It’s my third Bryson book (after In a Sunburnt Country and A Short History of Nearly Everything) and the first with which I was a tad disappointed. This is by far the shortest of the 3, and also the least in depth.

The book starts out strong with the history of the Appalachian Trail, and ventures into Bryson and his friend, Stephen Katz’s, attempt to hike the entire 2,100 miles of the trail. Unfortunately, after 500 miles, both the walking and the book lose steam. After six weeks on the Trail, they take off to meet later for the final 100 mile leg, and in the mean time, Bryson attempts a bunch of random day hikes, which lend themselves to only unfocused story telling. I generally really enjoy his wry sense of humor, his environmental bent, and the pieces of history he delves into, but while the first half of the book doesn’t disappoint, the second half feels rushed and uninspired. I’ll give it 3 stars out of 5.

My Billy Graham Rose bush is still blooming . . .


Apply to grad school to get a Masters Degree in Library Science (I have a not so secret wish to become a librarian as my next career).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I'll take the tag from ffleur and mishy . . .

• A-Available/Single? yes - happily so
• B-Best Friend? my dogs
• C-Cake or Pie? Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
• D-Drink Of Choice? Diet Pepsi, cold beer, bottled water
• E-Essential Item You Use Everyday? Dog leashes
• F-Favorite Color? Red
• G-Gummy Bears Or Worms? Bears
• H-Hometown? The OC
• I-Indulgence? Yarn, books, travel (see photo of sunset over Turneffe Atoll, Belize)
• J-January Or February? January
• K-Kids & Their Names? Just the 4 legged kind
• L-Life Is Incomplete Without? A good book and a hot bath
• M-Marriage Date? see A (but I could list the dates for the 7 wedding I've been in as a bridesmaid?)
• N-Number Of Siblings? 1
• O-Oranges Or Apples? Apples
• P-Phobias/Fears? Bugs
• Q-Favorite Quote? Practice Random Acts of Kindness
• R-Reason to Smile? It’s a beautiful day
• S-Season? Spring
• T-Tag Three or Four People? Anyone who wants to be tagged
• U-Unknown Fact About Me? I have a degree in psychology
• V-Vegetable you don't like? Brussel sprouts
• W-Worst Habit? Sweating the small stuff
• X-X-rays You've Had? Both feet (once when I was run over by a truck in a cross walk, the others when I turned each ankle so bad it broke a bone in that foot), teeth, chest, collarbone (it was broken when my one sibling tackled me)
• Y-Your Favorite Food? Pizza
• Z-Zodiac Sign? Taurus


Learn to play a musical instrument.

I have to admit that this is a goal that is unlikely to be reached by me in 2007. I bought the used guitar about 5 years ago (along with every "learn to play guitar" book I could get my hands on), and it remains largely unplayed and in need of re-stringing. (It has occasionally come in handy to entertain male company - they like to play it, even if I cannot). I bought the ukelele on eBay 2 years ago after returning from Maui. I recently saw clarinets for sale at Target, too. In all honesty, a year from now I probably will take another photo, with the addition of a clarinet, and will still be unable to play any of these musical instruments.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bush Lied and Thousands Died . . . .

And he wasn't alone according to the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, as reported by the AP . . .

"U.S. military and intelligence officials have systematically underreported the violence in Iraq in order to suit the Bush administration's policy goals, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group said. In its report on ways to improve the U.S. approach to stabilizing Iraq, the group recommended Wednesday that the director of national intelligence and the secretary of defense make changes in the collection of data about violence to provide a more accurate picture."

"The panel pointed to one day last July when U.S. officials reported 93 attacks or significant acts of violence. 'Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence,' it said."

"'The standard for recording attacks acts as a filter to keep events out of reports and databases.' It said, for example, that a murder of an Iraqi is not necessarily counted as an attack, and a roadside bomb or a rocket or mortar attack that doesn't hurt U.S. personnel doesn't count, either. Also, if the source of a sectarian attack is not determined, that assault is not added to the database of violence incidents."

"'Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals,' the report said."

The saddest part is how unsurprising this is.