Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Twilight Blog Button

I scoured the internet looking for this blog button when I was writing my Twilight post. Then this morning when I was reading my favorite blogs, I found it over at Darlene's Days. I know a lot of you out there love Twilight, so take this if you'd like, and then head over to Darlene and give her some love.

Trashing the Twilight Series

Yes, you read that title right. I am going to trash the Twilight series just a little bit, but then I'm gonna give it some love. So if you are "one of those Twilight people," don't get your panties all in a bunch. Yet.

First I'll start by saying that my BFF, Mattie Cake, loves these books. She loves them so much that she made me read them. Well, not made, but encouraged vociferously.

All the books are definitely a fast read, I'll give them that, and they are written well for sure . . . but . . . how shall I say this?

They are dang sappy and romancey and full of ushy gooshy ick.

Which is not a bad thing necessarily, if you like that kind of stuff, I'm just not really into that. Probably because I'm suspicious by nature.

When I started this series, I found myself hyper aware of Meyers' choice of words, which is kind of annoying when you're trying to read a book. You're supposed to just get lost in the book while reality quickly falls away from your consciousness.

Laundry? I don't have any stinkin' laundry to do. Wear those underwear again, they'll hold up.

That's what I'm talkin' about.

I found that sweet escape impossible though, because she kept beating me over the head with the word smolder. Meyer uses this word often throughout the series, usually in reference to Edward's and Bella's smoldering eyes.

Seriously, what?!! Who says that? Ever?

It's so over the top that it made me vomit a little bit in the back of my mouth every time I read it. Which, I'm unhappy to report was often, especially in the earlier books.

And then there's the whole Bella character. She just grates on my nerves. She's so . . . uninteresting and floating through life with no goals or interests.

Unless you count doing her homework immediately and on time. And cooking dinner for her Dad every night which I found a lit-tle bit creepy. It was like she was his mother or something. Ick.

I read a book review in my local paper that summed up my feelings about Bella exactly. It stated that "Bella has less ambition than a Disney Princess."

I read this and I exclaimed "YES! That's it! That's why I hate her!"

Well, hate is a strong word. She irritates me, that's all.

However, I recently finished the last book in the series, Breaking Dawn, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Bella actually starts to develop a personality.

I think it's because she becomes a mother.

Becoming a mother makes you a little bit crazy. And I'm speaking for myself here, of course, but I'm sure there are others out there who can relate. Anyway, my point is, crazy can make you more interesting.


But I liked Bella in this book and there was no vomiting in the back of my mouth. At all.

And I think the word smoldering was only used once in this book, and it wasn't connected to eyes, it was something else. I'd go look for the exact phrase, but the book is like 750 pages long and I just don't have that much free time.

All that being said, I really enjoyed Breaking Dawn, the last book in the series. I think it was the best of all four books, and I was a little sad when I was done with it.

I think poor Mattie Cake was a little hurt that I was retching and gagging over the first few books, but I hope to redeem myself with this post.

How about it Mattie Cake? Do you forgive me?

ADDENDUM: Wouldn't you know, after this post went up and some of you all commented, AdSense went and plunked a Twilight add on my blog. I saw it twice, when I clicked to read the comments. One time it was at the end of the comments, and another it was on my upper right sidebar. Go figure.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Layouts of Playing with Cousins

I'm still plodding through the pictures of our trip to California over the summer, and I feel like I'm making progress.

I'm hoping that once I get past this trip, it will go super fast since I skipped ahead and did some layouts here and there.

The girls had so much fun playing with their cousins while we were in California. We don't have any family living near us, so they have to cram all their getting to know each other into short visits, which are sometimes more than a year apart.

This just means that they really appreciate each other when they're together. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Our Cat is Moulting

This is our cat, Jo Jo. If you ask our kids, they'll tell you we named her after Jo Jo from Jo Jo's Circus on the Disney Channel.

If you ask Peanut Head, he'll tell you her name is really Jumping Josephine, but we shortened it to Jo Jo.

Either way, she's the best cat we've ever had.

She has the perfect temperament for inconsiderate kids, and she is friendly to everyone.

Even Sammie. She tries to cuddle with Sammie, but it just makes Sammie nervous. Sammie learned early on that cats are unpredictable and moody.

Is that redundant? Unpredictable and moody. Hmmmmm.

Jo Jo likes to sleep in her cat bed, as in the picture above. Since Jo Jo is always in her cat bed, Annika likes to carry her around in it and put her to sleep in strange places.

Like here. The picture above was taken of Jo Jo inside this Princess tent, in her bed, and thrilled about it. Jo Jo actually crawled into the tent on her own, because she knew her bed was in there.

She lets Annika do whatever she wants to her, and she just takes it and thinks she's the luckiest cat in the world. You could say she's an attention starved cat.

Here the girls are making a Poinsettia plate head for Jo Jo, so she could be festive right along with us.

Here Jo Jo is wearing that Poinsettia, but as you can see, not thrilled about it.

We didn't do it just to torture Jo Jo though. She had boo boos on her head from what we thought was a cat fight.

We should have known better though. Jo Jo's a lover, not a fighter.

Alas, Jo Jo didn't keep the festive Poinsettia plate on her head, so we had to graduate her to a higher security level.

The ultra humiliating, yippy dog cone head.

Immediately after we put this on Jo Jo, she was pissed off. And remember, this is a hard cat to irritate.

She wore this cone for more than a week, very unhappily, before we realized she wasn't getting any better.

In fact, she was starting to moult.

Her skin flaked off her head first, accompanied by the fur that was attached to it, and we started calling her Baldilocks.

Then it started flaking off her back and we thought she had dandruff.

Then she got boo boos all around her neck where the cone was rubbing, and we knew it was something more than the remnants of a cat fight.

That was before Christmas, and we were lucky to get a vet appointment on Christmas Eve.

Our Kitty Bits has an auto immune skin disorder of some hard to pronounce, and impossible-to-Google-when-you-can't-even-spell-it, mysterious name.

Oh geez, why do we always get the high maintenance pets?

The good news is that it's treatable and it's not going to break the bank. The vet gave her a steroid shot that'll fix her right up. She'll have to have more shots as the condition flares up again, anywhere from six months to two years from now.

The shot relieved the itching right away, but we were told to keep the cone on her for a couple more days so she wouldn't try to scalp herself again.

Once the cone came off, Jo Jo immediately started bathing herself.

Annika was carrying Jo Jo around the house and Jo Jo was melting out of her arms, unconcerned, and focused on her bathing.

Jo Jo could care less if she was perched on the edge of a cliff, she was going to have a long overdue bath, dang it.

It was so funny to watch.

"My life is in your hands Stinkerbell, I'm havin' a bath."

"What? Haven't you ever seen a cat take a bath before? Give me some privacy for crying out loud. I don't want my picture on your blog. You do not have my permission to post these on your blog."

Ah ahem.

Eeeeeeew. After the first bath, Jo Jo started itching her neck, and fur and skin went flying.

That's when I got out the vacuum cleaner and started following her around the house. I would have vacuumed her, but I think I would have gotten the short end of that stick.

It gives me the willies just looking at these pictures. I'm feeling itchy.

I think I want to dust too.

Nah. False alarm.

Before too long we're going to have one of those hairless cats, I can see it now.

For now we're just calling Girlfriend here Baldilocks.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

White Chocolate Coconut Clusters

Geez, I'm such a slacker. I was supposed to get this post up last week. I sure hope you weren't holding your breath for these White Chocolate Coconut Clusters.

I don't like loose ends though, so I'm posting this recipe anyway and you can save it for next year.

C'mon, I'll show you how to make them.

You'll need small candy cups (get them now for next year, on sale . . . um, unless you live in my town because I bought all of them), finely chopped pecans or macadamia nuts, peppermint extract, sugar sprinkles, vanilla bark, white chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, and flaked coconut.

Combine the nuts, coconut, peppermint extract and sweetened condensed milk. Chill for an hour.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and vanilla bark in a bowl over a hot water bath. A hot water bath is simply a pot of hot water, not boiling, in a pot on the stove. Then you put your chocolate in a metal bowl that rests over the hot water.

This ingenious little condiment bottle is going to make your work practically effortless, and waaaaaaay less messy. This brilliant idea came from Peanut Head's cousin, Alison, who makes these treats with the Barefoot Contessa every year.

You simply take a condiment bottle and cut the tip slightly larger to allow the melted chocolate to flow.

Then you keep it warm in a pan of hot water on the stove on low.

Now you're ready to put a small amount of chocolate in the bottom of each candy cup.

See how neat this is. No mess.

Next, take 1/2 teaspoon of your chilled coconut mixture and place it in the center of each candy cup.

Finish with more chocolate, about half way up the candy cups.

Sprinkle with pretty sugar crystals and . . .

Ta Da! The sweetest perfection.

And here's that recipe card. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Santa Mailbox

It's hard to believe that Christmas is already over. It seems to have whooshed by, in spite of my no-stress attitude and goal of enjoying the season.

One thing that didn't get done that I wanted to do, was to take the girls to drop their letters to Santa off at the Santa mailbox in our town. Since they did get to sit on Santa's lap and tell him what they wanted, I didn't feel too bad. And since the Santa mailbox is always a good photo opp, we decided to take thank you letters to the Santa mailbox instead. That's what we did yesterday.

The Santa Mailbox was at the museum this year. There's a Christmas exhibit going on at the museum right now, so we decided to check it out while we were there.

We saw lots of Santa collections, nativity sets, and other Christmas collections. It was a nice display.

My favorite was the Gingerbread house exhibit. The room it was in smelled exquisite. This is a picture of my favorite Gingerbread house.

Isn't it amazing?

Here's a view of the back side.

And an up close picture. I wanted to touch it so bad, I can't even tell you.

I was wrestling with my conscience, "Would anyone notice if I ate just one teensy little shutter?"

This was another nice set of houses.

And a Gingerbread Teepee. Isn't that the coolest?

I'm in the mood to make a Gingerbread house now. I'm going to do it next year, for sure.

This is just Stinkerbell on a wooden horse.

And Zoe Bug on the same horse.

Yesterday we started writing our thank you notes for Christmas. This is the first year that I don't have to help the girls.

I just handed them a list of who gave them what, a stack of thank you cards, and I set them loose.

My only rule is that they have to write at least one thank you note each day until they're all done. That way it's not an overwhelming task.

We also hit the after Christmas clearance sales bright and early yesterday. Well, before noon anyway. We stocked up on goodie buckets for next year's bake-a-thon. We got 50 of them so we'll have plenty next year.

And we scored big time on the candy cups. For some strange reason, we had a very hard time finding these this year. The only stores that had them were K-Mart and Target.

And if you live in my town, don't bother lookin' cause we cleaned 'em out. Sorry about that. We're hoping 2,000 candy cups is enough to get us through the next couple of years.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads;
And Papa in his cap and I in my kerchief,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap.
When out on the lawn arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Then I chickened out and ran back to bed. It's dang cold here in Idaho and my bed is warm.

Plus I'm a chicken like that.

[Poke, poke] "Peanut Head! I heard something noisy. I think we're being burglared!"

[Snore . . . . snore] [Long minutes pass, maybe a half hour]

"PEANUT! Go protect your family!"

Peanut Head got up to check it out, but since he was so nonchalant and slooooooooow about it, we didn't get to see the Fat Man.

But he left this.


In the snow.

From his sleigh.

Do you see it?!!!

Here, look closer.

See where he landed? Do you see the skinny part on the right where the runners to the sleigh first hit?

Then the tracks . . . He was not at all dainty about getting out of his sleigh.

I know you're thinking that Samma-Lamma-Ding-Dong made those tracks, but trust me she didn't. Remember, it's cold in Idaho, she poops right off the porch and runs back inside. The rest of our yard was pristine.

Until the Santa Man landed, that is.

Then here's where he's taking off after doing his business transaction.

And there are his runners again where he left the ground.

Can you believe that?!!!!

Of course it will all be gone in the morning (because it snows in Idaho) so we had to take these pictures to show the kiddos.

Have a very Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Nerdy Snowman

Remember how I said I was going to lay around and read and digiscrap and just basically be a slug for two weeks?

And I believe I also said "Let it snow" in the same post. The snow was going to allow me to be a slug without guilt is how I put it.

Well, we got snow.

And I forgot about the fact that last year we had to shovel daily, and sometimes several times a day, during our holiday staycation.

This year is looking like more of the same.

This is the window well in my cropping area in the basement.

Filled with snow.

Filled so full of snow, that no light can get in. Which means my basement was pitch black this morning.

This is the view from outside, after we dug our way to the window well and started digging out.

The side of our house gets some wind tunnel action going on, so we had huge snow drifts to clear away.

That's much better. Let there be light.

After shoveling for hours, Peanut Head decided he wanted to build a snowman. A square snowman.

Because he's a nerd.

Actually, we're both nerds, but he's really a nerd.

I think the Snow Nerd turned out pretty cute though. He looks like an ice cube man.

The girls were, of course, thrilled with the Snow Nerd.

I think we have enough snow now.