Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Five Years Ago

Five years ago today, I was getting a manicure/pedicure with my matron-of-honor.

Five years ago today, Philip put a million bobby pins in my hair to keep the pretty flowers in place.Five years ago today, we had a wonderful time visiting with family and friends, some we had not seen in many years.

Five years ago today, I was this happy.

Five years ago today, Denis was this relieved that it was all over.

Five years ago today, we took vows to love and cherish each other, in good and bad, sickness and health, a serious covenant we were reminded of this week when we attended the beautiful wedding of our pastor's oldest son.

Five years ago today, we were pronounced husband and wife.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's almost Christmas!

Well, it's Christmas Eve. The presents are all bought and (almost) all wrapped and under the tree. The cats are waiting for all the action to begin... I thought I'd put up a bit of Christmas music on the blog to get us all in the mood. These are all from Sufjan Steven's 5 disc set that we own. I love his sound - it's a nice change from the usual stuff. I hope you're having a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones around you.

Two weeks ago, we went to get our trees along with my mom.

Denis didn't have to work and it was so nice to have him along to man the saw. He's much stronger than my mom and I. We were very impressed with how quickly he muscled right through our little trees.

Here we are with our tree.

And here it is all decorated. Joey has not been messing with the tree as much this year. But he seems to really enjoy pine-scented water to drink... And a few ornaments have "fallen" off during the nights.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mission Accomplished

I didn't get a lot accomplished today, but what I did get done was significant. I finished up my Christmas shopping. I had heard some terrible stories about the traffic around town, so I wasn't looking forward to getting out in it. But this afternoon I finally bit the bullet and navigated the streets. I think that I just happened to plan the right route so that I didn't get stuck in the really bad areas. For one thing, I didn't go to the mall. A friend of mine called me just the other day from the mall parking lot where she had been stuck for 45 minutes trying to get out! Ugh!

I also sent out my Christmas letters via email. I had to find people's emails one by one on Facebook because they don't have a feature for finding them easily. Annoying! You have to go to each friend's profile and click on the info page to find the email address. Oh well, it's done now. :o) I still need to send out by snail mail the letters to friends and relatives who are not regular internet people.

And can I just say that I'm really digging that first song in my playlist? (Arise by Shane and Shane). I found it by browsing some other playlists - I'd never listened to Shane and Shane before. I haven't really figured out all the lyrics to the song, but I really like the sound of it.

Pretty soon I will be able to answer that question, "Are you ready for Christmas?" with a firm "yes!"

Saturday, December 20, 2008


It's been a while since I've given any movie reviews or reports. Here are a few we've watched lately. * ratings are out of a possible ***** (five stars)

The Bridge **** - a documentary about people who kill themselves by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. There were 24 suicides in the year 2004... Who knew? Not an uplifting film, but an interesting look at what drives people toward taking their own lives.

Sweet Land *** - We just watched this one the other night. I was looking forward to it because Kristina said she really enjoyed it. This is a story about a mail order bride who comes to Minnesota during WW2 and how difficult it is for her to be accepted because she's German. The first few scenes were confusing and I thought that it could have been improved on to eliminate the confusion. The story itself was nice, though.

Darwin's Nightmare ** - a documentary about the massive export of a non-native fish species that is devastating the habitat of Lake Victoria, while the local Tanzanians suffer from a famine. We have friends who were missionaries in Tanzania, so the topic was very interesting to me. However, the filmmaker seemed to have his own agenda and he took his time making the point. The movie just dragged on with the same topics being covered over and over. So I ended up turning it off without finishing it.

The Devil's Playground **** - this was a fascinating and disturbing documentary about the teen years in Amish communities. Apparently, the doctrine of the Amish religion says that church membership and baptism cannot happen until you are an adult. In the teen years, you are allowed to experience "the world" and decide whether or not to get baptized and join the church. In some Amish communities, the teen years seem to be a huge distorted experience of "the world" that is just drunken parties, drugs, etc. The doco follows about 6 teens as they decide whether they are going to join the church or not. After watching the film, I did some searching on wikipedia and found that this is certainly not a universal experience in the Amish church. Some communities do not give their teens such free reign. But the movie seems to be an accurate portrayal of some Amish communities. It made me really sad to see that, at least these Amish groups do not have a true understanding of sin and grace...

Who Killed the Electric Car **** - another documentary... This one about an electric car that was produced by GM in the 70's in response to a mandate by the state of California that a certain percentage of cars on the road be electric by a certain deadline. As the deadline was approaching, three auto makers worked on producing the electric cars as they simultaneously fought the mandate. When they finally won and the mandate was removed, they removed every last electric car from the roads. Again, a disturbing look at the auto industry.

Letters from Iwo Jima **** - We'd been looking forward to this one for some time. It was very well-done. Interesting to see WW2 from the Japanese perspective.

The Railway Children **** - placed on our Netflix list because Ruth is so fond of the book. This was a nice story about a family having to give up their privileged life, but keeping faith in each other and God's care of them.

Wah-Wah *** - kind of a quirky story, a period peice set in Swaziland in Africa. An alcoholic father, divorce, remarriage, a child trying to figure it all out. It was interesting.

Stranger Than Fiction **** - This one was really well-done and interesting. Emma Thompson is writing a novel and Will Ferrell is her main character who figures out that he is at her mercy. Dustin Hoffman is the English professor who counsels Will in what to do about it. Some really funny lines and a clever plot.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The quest for poached egg perfection.

Recently, Ben in Australia (who I did not meet in September because I had not yet made his acquaintance in the blogosphere at the time...) wrote a post about his poached egg conundrum. He's taken a fancy to them, but has not figured out how to achieve a nice consistent result with his cooking method. When I mentioned my egg poacher, he said he would like to see it in action. And so I present "The Quest for Poached Egg Perfection, a Pictorial Demonstration".

Here is the egg poacher. This device was created for the sole purpose of making poached eggs. The cups hold one egg each. The legs hold the eggs out of the water and no precious egg white is lost.

The first step is to lightly oil the egg poacher and place it into a pan with some water.

Notice that the poacher will hold three eggs, which generally compels me to make three poached eggs at a time even though no one person should really consume three eggs at a time. So for the purpose of this demonstration, I restrained myself and left one egg cup vacant.

Next, the lid is place on the pan so that steam will be retained. I generally cook them on medium heat since the food channel shows always cook eggs on medium heat. I'm not sure it makes any difference in this case since water boils at the same temp no matter what the heat is under it...

While the water is coming to a boil, one has time to prepare the toast. Now, don't think me strange, but I have a very specific technique for my poached egg toast. It must be cut into squares before receiving the eggs. I'll explain the reason a bit later in the process.

It is very important to STAY IN THE ROOM where the eggs are poaching. It is very hazardous to leave and PLAY FACEBOOK GAMES while eggs are poaching. It tends to result in the very disappointing overcooked egg. To test for doneness, check the whites with a fork. When the white are fully cooked but the yolk is still runny, they are perfectly cooked.

The extraction of the eggs from the poacher is not explained in the user manual of the egg poacher. I had to learn by trial and error that a knife inserted into one of the slots on the top allows you to suspend the entire device over the toast and then a fork can be used to gently dislodge the eggs. We're almost done.
The whole point of the runny yolk is for it to soak into the toast - ideally, there should be yolk in every bite since it's the best part. This is the reason for precutting the toast. As soon as the eggs are cut, you can mix the whole mess together. Perfection!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Travel plans

So I was chatting with Rachel the other day and she said, "When is your next vacation? It seems like it's about time for you and Denis to have another one." (She thinks we're always gallivanting around... :o)

Well, okay, I'll admit it. Yes, we are planning a couple of more trips for the coming months. We'll go to Bend, OR (in Central Oregon) for a quick weekend anniversary trip. We have some friends in Bend who we'll get to hang out with, probably go snow shoeing one day. Meet their baby for the first time. Other than that, we'll just be hanging out. We got a cute little cottage right in town for about the same amount as it costs to stay in a hotel.

Next, we'll be travelling to Pasadena, CA with some folks from our church to attend a training conference put on by Joni and Friends Ministry. Eight of us are attending from our disability ministry group to learn some more nuts and bolts about getting our church up and rolling with this new focus. Denis and I plan to leave early and take our time driving South. Then, in Pasadena, we'll be sharing two suites with our team - 4 people in each one bedroom suite. It was the most economical arrangement. It will be fun to spend so much time with the team.

Finally, our summer vacation this year is going to be a long road trip out to OH to attend my niece's graduation in June. We'll stop on the way to visit Denis' family, conveniently located right along the driving route. And since we're going to be in OH, it's only a 7 hour drive to ... guess where! ....... Upstate New York! We're going to spend a few days visiting our blogger friends Martha, Priscilla and Rachel. (and the crowd goes wild...) This vacation is in the planning stage. I've planned out our driving route and how many days it will take. We have to map that out on a calendar and figure out what date to leave so we arrive in the locations on days that work for family and friends. What fun!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New songs

I've added some new songs and rearranged the playlist on my blog. I hope you enjoy the new stuff. I was getting a bit bored with the way it was. Some of the songs that were at the bottom are now nearer to the top. Remember, you can always click on whatever song you want to play and it will go from there through the playlist.

World's Best Peanut Butter Cookies

This recipe was created by a friend of a friend when she was in high school. Andrea had a chronic illness and died suddenly while she was in college. They really are exceptional cookies.

Cream together with electric mixer on medium speed:
1/2 C shortening (I used coconut oil, which is solid at room temp, instead)
1 C creamy peanut butter (I used Adams all natural)
3/4 C sugar (I used Splenda granulated)
1/2 C brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Add 1 egg and 1 Tbsp milk and beat until well-blended.

Combine separately:
1 1/4 C flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Add to wet ingredients and mix all well together. Form rounded balls of dough and place on ungreased baking sheet. Flatten with a fork in a criss-cross pattern. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

New Post

I can't believe that it has been over a month since I last wrote something... I guess I've been suffering from the same blog inspiration drought that a lot of my friends have been. Maybe it's contagious!

Well, it's time for it to end, so here I am typing something... I have had several ideas about things to write over the last month and a half. Hmmm... Let's see now.

Okay, here's one: Bad news - I got another traffic ticket. It happened the day before we left for Australia.
Good news - I can take the online traffic school again to have it removed from my record.
Bad news - I still had to pay a heft fine.
Good news - at least I'm supporting our city's budget in these rough economic times.
Bad news - I felt more annoyed than guilty when I was pulled over this time. It was a rolling stop at a four way stop. No school zone this time, no one's life in danger. I honestly think that he was giving a rookie cop some practice at writing up the ticket since it took him about 10 minutes to write it up.
Good news - I have till Jan 12th to do the online school. I'd better get going on it...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Disability Ministry

Now that I'm done with my commitment to the ADA walk planning committee, I'm excited to be diving head-long into our church's new Disability Ministry. Denis and I are both on the leadership team and we're just starting the process of getting it off the ground.

This is how it started - our pastor's wife and daughter have attended the Northern California Joni and Friends family camp as helpers for the last few years. Their participation has been a particular passion of the daughter. This summer, our pastor attended for the first time and he came back home fired up. What he learned at Joni and Friends camp is about the sad statistics of families who have a member with a disability. The divorce rate is high, church attendance is low - it is a very isolating situation for families. It is difficult to even get out the door to church, and when families do make it, they might not feel welcomed by the church once they get there.

Our goal with a Joni and Friends affiliated ministry is to be "Fully Accessible" not just in our building having wide enough doors, but also in our congregation to have wide enough hearts. The goal is not just to welcome people with disabilities to attend, but to participate in ministry. This is NO SMALL TASK and we are just getting started.

I'm so excited to be a part of a purposeful ministry that will take me out of my comfort zone and allow me to see God at work. In the past, I've participated in short term missions, but I have come to the realization that I'm not likely to be able to do that any more. If you happen to think of praying for our ministry, current requests would be a solution to a sticky problem of not having a wheelchair accessible bathroom, an upcoming training day for ushers, greeters and volunteers and planning our kick-off event in February.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Alright, Nixter!

Here is my "yearbook" self.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Digging myself out

I'm slowly digging myself out of the hole that I've been buried in since we got back from Sydney. I knew before we left for vacation that I'd be coming home to a very busy week. October is a month when several different BIG projects for work and my life are coming together.
1. the ADA walk, one week after we returned. I was on the planning committee so there were lots of emails and tasks to muddle through in that last week. It was this past Saturday, so that's behind me now.
2. an extensive education project for the OB department of my hospital. My boss and I are doing multiple talks and meetings this month. Some of it I had prepared before hand and some I left until I returned to plan. This is about half-way done now, so I'm feeling more in control
3. I'm taking my Diabetes Educator's certification exam on the 25th of this month and I haven't actually started to study for it yet... I have two weeks, so now's the time to start.

So with all this on my plate - the unpacking and household chores have taken a back seat for the last week and a half. I worked extra hours and came home and just didn't do anything productive.

This week, I've got the walk behind me. I'm just working my normal week. I don't feel as overwhelmed. And so I'm slowly digging out of the hole. I balanced our checkbook on Sat. afternoon. Started laundry and cleaned the kitchen yesterday. Today I've gotten some errands run already. I need to buy us some real food so we can stop subsisting on cereal and potatoes. :o)

The list is still long, but I'm feeling more hopeful about getting to the bottom.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Everything you need to know about owning a cat

This is a bit long, but believe me, it's worth it. Really clever and funny in a quirky way. :o)

Sunday, October 05, 2008


First a note about my pictures - It took me over 3 hours to upload all my photos to Facebook and organize them into albums, put them in chronological order and label them all with the related stories. It was a frustrating, painstakingly long process and I just can't stomach the thought of making a separate slide show just for the blog. SOOOO, for those of you who are NOT on Facebook, I discovered that I can give a link to those albums that you can access directly. You do NOT have to be a member of Facebook to view them (as I understand it). So, please see the photos, in order, here, here and here. I had to split them into three albums due to the number. It doesn't take that long to view them all though, I promise...

Here are the souveniers that we brought home from our trip. From the top left, clockwise:
1. wooden coasters made from 4 different woods that are typical to Tasmania
2. a novel, the cover of which was designed by our friend Nick (graphic designer) and written by their friend who we met at the Salamanca market and autographed it for us. It is about a musician who moves back home to Hobart (Tas) from NYC after a nervous breakdown. In my opinion, this is the BEST kind of souvenier!
3. wine from the Hunter Valley trip. We managed to bring two bottles home with us. It would have been a shame (and a bit embarrassing not to purchase at a tasting) not to bring some home to share with friends.
4. a commemorative Sydeny spoon for T
5. scenic calendars of Australia (one is actually full of aboriginal artwork for a friend who was particularly interested in knowing more about their history)
6. a sweater bought at the mall on sale since they are going into summer weather there. :o)
7. multiple postcards we intended to mail home but didn't manage to do so.
8. money (see below)
9. dishtowels with cute drawings of animals unique to Australia.

I've realized with chagrin that we didn't buy enough gifts... Oh well, hopefully people will understand. There's only so much room in a suitcase.

Here's a close up of Australian money. I collect money from any country that I travel to. I especially like the coins, but I try to get a few small bills as well. I'm very sad that I didn't make it to Europe before the Euro went in. You probably can't tell, but if you look closely at the pink bill, you might be able to tell that there is an emblem that is see-through. The bills have a plastic core to them. The small gold coin is a $2 coin. There is no $1 bill. Also, there are no pennies. All prices are rounded up to the nearest 5 cents. I think our money is so boring compared to other countries!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

There's no place like home

Especially when your mother snuck over and cleaned the whole house while you were gone... :o) THANKS MOM!

We flew into LA 3 hours earlier than we left Sydney, then through customs and a quick 2 hour flight back to Portland. We started driving south and stopped for the night at about the half-way point. Drove into our driveway about noon today, unpacked, started the laundry, visited mom to show her our pictures, plowed through the email, checked everyone's Facebook status and here we are 7 hours later. I'm too tired to fiddle with my pictures tonight. I work tomorrow, so it will likely be the weekend before I'm organized enough to get them in a post-able state.

So sorry to keep you waiting... We had a lovely time. I'm really looking forward to showing them.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

So far...

So far we have:
1. had a lovely visit with Kate and Nick, Pablo's people. We were so pleased to find that we had a LOT in common and plenty to chat about. Nick and Denis had a nice jam session as Nick has a few couple of guitars around the house and is keen to improve on his finger picking skills.
2. met the famous Pablo - he didn't want to change his aloof internet celebrity status, so he stayed a bit aloof, but we did sneak a little pat in and had some photo ops.
3. went to the street market with Nick, Kate and Christine - we did our part to support the Tasmanian economy and got some particular Tasmanian souvenirs.
4. went to morning home church with Nick, Kate, Christine and Mike. This turned out to be our only chance to get to meet Mike and I think he felt a bit there "by request", but it was great to meet him and get to visit even though it was short. We did get to spend more time with Christine since she came to pick us up at the airport, went to the market and also to church.
5. travelled North to Launceston (Hobart and Launceston are the major cities of Tassie) to meet some friends of friends. We saw emus and wallabies on the property of a friend of theirs. Many of the wallabies had joeys in their pouches and I was able to get some pictures.
6. went to Toronga Zoo with Ruth, Nixter, D, E and Ruth's mum. D and Denis became fast friends - so cute! D thinks Denis is too cool!
7. had a nice dinner interview by Ruth's boy's. They guessed things they thought were true of America and we provided verification. :o)
8. attended Bible Study led by AB - it was nice to meet some of the young people in their church.
9. Stayed overnight in downtown Sydney - we've ridden the fast ferry to the historic section of town. We also met Nixter for chocolate near her work.

Still to come: the 30 minute ferry ride to Manly beach which will get us great views of the opera house and the bridge, a day in the Blue Mountains and meeting Rodeoclown and fam, seeing the Aussie rules Football final with Scott and Nix, picnic with friends in the park and Hunter Valley overnight trip. Yay!! I'm getting some good pics. I'll be sure to get ones of people, except I totally forgot to get any pics with Mike and Christine!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Putting my lessons to use

Last summer I made salsa and had some problems with it. Well, I did learn my lessons this year:

1. real cilantro
2. a nice new bigger food processer
3. plenty of jalapenos.
= much better this time around. :o)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Walking again

I'm still on the committee to help plan the annual fundraiser walk for the American Diabetes Association and I'm walking to raise funds again this year. The walk is October 11th and I'm not exactly looking forward to how busy the next month is going to be. I've got some extra work projects going and planning our big Sydney trip. As soon as we get back, my feet will hit the grounds running because the walk is only 1 week after.

In case you are not aware of all that the ADA does, I'll summarize. They work to benefit people with all types of diabetes (type 1, type 2 and gestational) in three main areas:
1. Legal and political advocacy - Workers can have reasonable accommodations to be able to take their blood glucose readings, insulin and eat when necessary without discrimination. Children with diabetes should be able to safely participate in all school activities. Health insurance should help to pay for the costly care of diabetes. The ADA lobbies in DC for these sorts of rights and offer legal help to individuals who have been treated unfairly.
2. Education and professional leadership - The ADA authors an extensive informative website as well as many brochures about diabetes treatment, self-care and prevention. They also lead the way for appropriate treatment, providing professional conferences and guidelines for adequate care.
3. Research - the ADA helps to fund all kinds of research, some investigating best treatment for all types of diabetes, others searching for a cure. Yes, they do support, lobby for and fund stem cell research, both adult and embryonic. This is the one area that I do not agree with, but I feel that it is a very small piece of what they do.

If you would like to pledge to sponsor me for the walk, you can go here. Thanks

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Low fat, low calorie - who me?

I found this cookbook on sale at Safeway a couple of weeks ago, so I took a look at it. Have you heard of Hungry Girl? It actually started out as a small email newsletter produced by a gal named Lisa Lillien and sent to a group of her friends. It grew into a website devoted to finding low calorie, low fat foods that actually taste good - "guilt-free" cooking.

Now I must say that I have never been one to buy non-fat versions of food. I have switched to the "low-fat" version of some foods, but I'm really hopelessly addicted to creamy, cheesy, fattening foods. The nonfat version of these things just never taste right, so I don't get them.

Well, the idea of this book is to combine different non-fat products to make them taste a bit better than the sum of their parts. Often, they are also hidden underneath something more flavorful so that distracts you from the non-fat food.

Anyway, my goal is not really to eat completely out of this book. But I'd like to replace some of my splurge foods (fettucini alfredo, sausage mcmuffin with egg) with some Hungry Girl "splurges". She's got lots of suggestions for avoiding high calorie foods at restaurants and at work too.

Here is the recipe for the faux fudge that I made last night:


2 cups canned pure pumpkin

1 box Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies Mix (the 18.3-oz. Family Size box)

2 tbsp. reduced fat peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine pumpkin with the brownie mix in a large bowl; stir until smooth (do not add anything else). Spray a small baking pan (8" X 8" work best - no larger!) with nonstick cooking spray and pour in the mixture. Spoon 2 tbsp. of Better ‘n Peanut Butter (room temperature) on top and use a knife to swirl peanut butter around. Cook for approximately 35 minutes. The batter will remain very thick and fudgy, and it should look undercooked. Remove from oven. Cover with aluminum foil and let cool in fridge for a couple of hours. Cut into 36 squares and serve.

Serving Size: 1 piece (approx. 1.3 oz.) Calories: 63, Fat: 1g, Sodium: 56mg, Carbs: 13.5g, Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 9g, Protein: 1g

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Garlic - Mmmmm....

So, once you have grown your garlic and harvested it, you are supposed to hang it up to dry in a cool place. Where do you hang it when you live in an area that is 90-100 degrees for most of the summer? The garage is too hot and we have a small house.

How about the broom closet?!

It's been hanging in the closet ever since we harvested it about 5 weeks ago. It's perfect now and I'm loving cooking with it. The cloves are so perfect and white - no ugly bruises or rotting areas like what I buy in the store. And the heads are nice and big!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What have I been doing for the last month?

Well, over a month now. For goodness sake, I can't believe it's been so long. Here's a bit of an update on what's been happening:
1. We spent our one week vacation in Portland. It was fun and relaxing. We stayed at our second McMennamin's hotel, the Grand Lodge in Forest Grove. It did not have private bathrooms and we were very surprised to find that the shared baths were all single full baths. We were expecting dorm style shower rooms. We also went on a dinner cruise with our friend AMG, heard a free concert in Pioneer Courthouse Square - The Dimes, a Portland band was really good.
2. Two days after we came home from Portland, I developed a respiratory infection that I may have caught from AMG's husband... :o( I had a fever of 102 and took antibiotics for 10 days. The respiratory infection then set off my asthma which is normally almost non-existent. It was definitely not a good time to be sick from work because several of my coworkers were at a big conference in Washington D.C. and I was scheduled to work Mon-Fri. I wound up working just Tues and Wed. I think it was a good 3 weeks before I was fully well again.
3. I've been doing work helping plan our local American Diabetes Association fund-raiser walk in October. It's just around the corner, so it's time to really knuckle down and do some work. So I've been spending some of my days off making phone calls and running errands.
4. We've been nailing down all our plans for the Sydney trip - we've got our passports and travel authorities, hotel reservations, flights, itinerary is set. I can't believe it's just over 3 weeks away now.
5. I recorded most of the Olympics on NBC and watched a lot of it. I still haven't finished it all off - I've got about 2 days of events left to watch!
6. I found a cookbook on sale at the supermarket that intrigued me. It's all low cal/low fat recipes and I've been trying to replace some of my high fat indulgences with these recipes. I'll have to write more about that in another post.
7. And yes, I must admit, I've still been playing Packrat on Facebook a bit more than I'd like to admit.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Reading them again

I haven't read the Chronicles of Narnia in years and I thought it was high time to enjoy them again. I asked for the all-in-one volume for my birthday last year, but hadn't started reading it yet until a few weeks ago. In the past, I've read them in the order in which they were released, but this volume is in "chronological order" as the events unfold in Narnia. I'm up to the third book which is A Horse and His Boy.

I'm sure that I've read these books at least twice through in the past, but I'm surprised at how much of the details I had completely forgotten. Everything is familiar to me, but I can't remember how the different storylines will come together in the end. I still really enjoy C. S. Lewis' humor sprinkled through out.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

New post label

I've added a label to my list called "Tracy 101". I added that label to the posts I've written that tell more details about who I am so that new readers can quickly learn more about me. It can also come in handy for those who want to cram for the "Tracy quiz" on Facebook. :o)

Getting Serious

It's time to get serious about planning our Sydney trip in September. I bought these two books for us to get some ideas. The one on the left is by Eyewitness Travel and it's just a "down and dirty" reference with lists of restaurants, hotels, sights, etc, grouped my neighborhood. I thought it would be good to take with us when we are out and about. The one on the right is the Lonely Planet book which is more in depth. I liked it because it includes info about some good day trips outside the city as well as within the city.

We've decided that we're going to head straight for Tasmania upon arrival in Australia. I haven't booked our tickets yet, but we should be able to fly to and from Tas for about $200 each round-trip. While in Tassie, we'll visit the cyber-famous Mike and Christine as well as Pablo's devoted human staff members Kate and Nick. They've suggested that we go to the Salamanca Market on Saturday. We'll also likely visit some acquaintances in the city of Launceston which is just 2 hours north of Hobart.

Once we return to Sydney, Ruth has very sweetly offered to help plan our itinerary to maximize the time and what we can see and do. Here is our list of planned stuff so far:

  1. Meet and have some sort of party/mixer with as many of the following people as possible: Ruth and family, Nixter, Craig, Ian (Rodeoclown) and family and Erin.
  2. Attend church and hear AB preach.
  3. Go to Toronga Zoo with Ruth and the kids
  4. Take the ferry to Manly Beach (this ferry goes under the harbor bridge and past the opera house) and perhaps a ferry that goes deep into the bay.
  5. See the Blue Mountains area
  6. Visit "The Rocks" historic neighborhood
  7. Wine tasting in the Hunter Valley
I hope that won't be too much to fit into 8 days. It is amazing how quickly a 2 week vacation can just disappear when you start planning all you want to do.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

My Wordle

Thanks to Kristina for telling us about this website. This is the "Wordle" created from the RSS feed of my blog.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Did she say chickens?

Yes, I did say chickens. Denis and I have several friends with chickens and love getting to eat very fresh eggs from healthy hens. We have been thinking very seriously of getting some of our own. In fact, we've pretty much decided that we will do it... eventually.

Here are the steps involved:
1. visit your friends who have chickens

  • ask them lots of questions
  • examine their coop design
  • ask about the breeds they like and why
We have done this step. We've picked the brains of my former next-door neighbors, my friend AMG, a family from our church and one of my coworkers who all have chickens.

2. research chicken coop designs
or fancy?

Knowing Denis, this phase will take quite a while... He is looking at all kind of designs online. I particularly like the AMG's advice to build the nesting part up at shoulder height so that egg collection and clean up are streamlined. Once Denis has figured out the precise design and how much material is needed we can move on to step 3

3. build coop in the area between our house and my mom's
Again, this is Denis' realm. Once he gets to it, I've no doubt it will be perfect. Part of the yard will also have to be penned in so that we can let them out to roam a bit.

4. decide what breed of chickens to get. Should we get adult hens? or chicks? AMG swears by getting adult hens. My coworker has an organic farm and gets chicks each year of all different breeds. They are so funny!

5. buy supplies and chickens.

6. collect and eat eggs!

Are you surprised by my thoughts about chickens?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More flowers

Is anyone getting bored with flower pictures from me? Above are our roses in bloom.

Below is our rhododendron that we planted last year. This is the first year that it's bloomed for us.
Here's a close up of the flower. I like it.

I'm getting some suggestions for a new post. Here are the options:

  1. more about our plans for Australia
  2. something about the cats
  3. something that I've read lately
  4. a movie that I've seen
  5. a project that I'm working on
  6. a friend coming to visit
  7. my thoughts about chickens
So, what's your vote? What shall I write about next?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A very good sign

Our renters decided to plant a garden! They asked our permission first and we said, "go for it". They have plans to make some changes in the front yard as well. They've been mowing, watering and even offering to do some of the yard work that is not really their responsibility at all. They seem to be "putting down roots" so to speak. Ha! Pardon the pun.

Below you can see some more of their handiwork. The deck badly needed new stain. Denis was planning to just do some minimal prep work, so he purposely bought stain the same color so that it wouldn't be obvious. Well, then we thought, why not ask if they would like to do the work in exchange for a reduction in the rent for one month? They did, and boy a job they did. They sanded the entire deck and really did a good job. We're hoping they stay for a while.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I win!

Ever since I became a cat owner, I have not been able to have flowers around my house. I really like to have a cheerful boquet of flowers on a table top or counter, but whenever I do, curious cats always manage to get up when I'm not looking for a sniff. They don't stop with a sniff - then they have a nibble and before I know it, my beautiful flowers are not very beautiful anymore. Petals fall off, greenery disappears. Not only that, I'm not really sure what plants are safe for a cat to eat, so I worry about them

Well, I found this tiny vase at a local street fair a few weeks ago. I thought it was a rather ingenious solution to my problem. Last time I checked, my cats were not able to scale a refrigerator!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Future Veggies

Here is the new planting bed that Denis built this year. It is not up off the ground, but rather just an improved area in the grounds with the wood border around it. It's for our larger vegetables and the vines that want space to spread out.

Here is a close up of the corn, beans and green onions sprouting up.

One of the raised beds from last year is now occupied with maturing garlic. This is our first attempts at garlic and I'm so excited to taste and see how different it is from the stuff that we buy in the store.
The other bed has the old familiar folks from last year - tomato, carrots and lettuce, plus some new comers - radishes and broccoli. I also picked a head lettuce this year instead of leaf. A friend gave us a "ground cherry" plant. Apparently, it is a relative of the tomatillo but it's sweet. Should be interesting.

I didn't take a picture of our two strawberry plants or our raspberry plants that were put in last year. Hopefully we'll get some nice berries this year.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

It's about time!

I added a few new songs to my music playlist and changed the order around a bit. Don't want you all to be getting bored by the music. I'm so happy to know that some of you open my blog while you link to others' so that you can listen. :o)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Big changes coming...

Denis is making a big change in his employment - it's a change to benefit his sanity rather than our pocketbook. He is changing his status in the Emergency Room to on call only. That means that he loses his full benefits as an employee and will go on my insurance. We'll pay a bit more each pay period for that.

He's been working some shifts at two other jobs for the last two months and this change will allow him to accept more work for them. One is for a local pediatrician and Denis really enjoys that one. When I ask him how his day was his reply is generally, "it was great fun!" Such a change from the stress of the ER. The other job is in the Occupational Health department of our same hospital. That job involves caring for people who have had on the job injuries as well as doing work-related physical assessments. There are some legal details to be learned in that job and it's not quite as fun, but it is a low stress environment.

Denis will still fill in with shifts in the ER, but he'll be able to pick and choose, which will be nice. He hopes to cut down on or eliminate working on Sundays so that he can attend church. Eventually, there is the chance (and we hope that this happens) that the Occupational Health job can become a half time scheduled job. That would give Denis back his benefited position. This was a bit decision and a long time coming. The big change happens in July. Now he just has to get through June... Prayers are welcomed. :o)
These are some photos of some of the more noteworthy flowers in our garden this year.