Friday, September 30, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -- Inspired by SouleMama

Monday, September 26, 2011


The Professor is a pretty fabulous photographer -- when he tries.  Far too often he uses his camera to take shots up his sister's nose or inside her wide-open mouth or, heaven help us, shots of my backside when I'm bending over.  When he puts his skill to work, though, he actually has a good eye for composition.  He is also one of the few people who has taken a good photo of my notoriously unphotogenic sister, known to The Inmates as Uncle Chester.

Her name is actually Nancy Breen and she is a poet, freelance writer, Etsy shop proprietor, and owner of the writing website, Nudged To Write.  She is also the former editor of Poet's Market, the go-to guide for poets looking to publish their verses.  In fact, she wrote a piece for their 2012 edition and found herself in need of a photo to go with her bio.  And her photographer of choice?  Her nephew, The Professor.  I am very excited to say that not only is my 12 year old son in print, but he even got a photo credit in the margin of the book.  Not too shabby for a junior high student, I say.

OK, it's hard to read sideways, but that's his name above the arrow.

I want to give a big thanks to Robert Lee Brewer, editor of Poets Market, for giving my son his first taste of glory.  If you are a poet, please check out Robert's blog, Poetic Asides, over at  He has lots of great information, writing prompts, and interviews.  And if you're interested in getting a copy of the 2012 Poet's Market, it can be ordered through Amazon below (my affiliate link) or from any bookstore.

You might also be interested in:



Friday, September 23, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -- Inspired by SouleMama

 You might also be interested in:

Thursday, September 22, 2011


In early August I wrote about the thrill of my first tomato harvest.  Yes, it was only NINE cherry tomatoes, but they were fresh, organic tomatoes for Foghorn to nibble to her heart's content.  Then I waited for more...and waited...and waited...

I'm still waiting.  Oh, I got lots of lovely little flowers which promised to turn into tomatoes and then didn't.  I also finally had another full-fledged tomato sprout about a month ago and I've just been waiting for it to turn red.  The little b*astard won't so much as blush for me.

He's taunting me, I swear.

Does it really take a month for a tomato to turn color?  Much to my shock, this week I see that there are two other little tiny green tomatoes on another vine.  Of course, if I have to wait as long for these to redden I'll be picking them in the snow.  Which, of course, reminds me of my other problem --- namely the upcoming cold weather.  Tomato growing season is almost over and I've had NINE lousy tomatoes for all this time and money.  I have this overwhelming urge to grab a tennis racket and whack those little green Chihuahua testicles right across the yard.  Not that I'm bitter...

A friend told me her husband bought one of those commercial upside down planters last year and didn't get a thing.  I got the pitifully small eight from three tomato plants.  Now, I know there are people who grow them successfully upside down  Not being a gardener I can only speculate that maybe I needed a bigger pot with more soil, but since my current planters already weigh enough to make wrought iron bend I'm not inclined to try to hang anything heavier.  My personal opinion on upside down tomato growing is...well... I'm trying very hard to control my profanity around the children these days, so I'll just simply say "it stinks."

You might also be interested in:


Wednesday, September 21, 2011


When The Professor was little I was convinced he'd die of malnutrition.  My husband told me he just had the normal rounded toddler stomach, but I was convinced he had a distended tummy from malnutrition.  Yeah, I was one of those kinds of mothers.  He was a terrible eater, though.  While the 12-year-old Professor isn't exactly a health food addict, he does at least eat now.  Nonetheless, he continues to have the same breakfast that he has slurped down for the last ten years.  The Peanut Butter Breakfast Smoothie saved his life...or at least got some much-needed vitamins in him.  In one glass he gets a huge chunk of calcium, protein, and even a fresh fruit.  It's a great way to start the day (even if he ends the day with BBQ chips).


1 cup low-fat milk
1/3 cup dry milk
1/2 large banana
1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
Optional:  1-2 teaspoons of Udo's Oil (great for getting essential fatty acids in there)

Pour all ingredients in blender and whip until smooth.  Fast, easy, tasty, and healthy!  And even a sleep-deprived 12 year old boy can get it down and still catch the bus on time.

For more great mom-shared ideas, check out The Mommy Club - Resources & Solutions here

Monday, September 19, 2011


On this dreary and rainy Monday here in Ohio I'm not feeling very wordy.  Gasp!  She who can write three paragraphs about her husband's holey underwear can't seem to find the vocabulary to describe the weekend.  This may have something to do with the aforementioned weather or the allergies that are making everyone's sinuses go wild or the fact that I decided today was the day I had to get back on the Weight Watchers wagon and really count my Points.  (That last one has an accompanying sugar withdrawal that tends to make me sprout horns and has The Inmates running for cover.)

So, with few words and lotsa color, I give you The Warden's Weekend:

On Saturday, the annual Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Tents full of yarn, supplies, and lots of demonstrations.

I love those supercilious llamas.

A nekkid sheep following the shearing demonstration.

Foghorn's favorite?  Getting a free chunk of fresh wool, still damp with lanolin.

Totally intimidated by those who not only knit but card and spin their own yarn.  Ack!
Foghorn making friends with the suppliers.

The Gathering takes place on the gorgeous grounds of Young's Dairy...

and they happen to sell ice cream that's out of this world.

Two hunks of merino/alpaca hand-dyed yarn from Ohio's  Roving Acres, waiting to be knit into a scarf for my mother.
On Sunday, the annual Loveland Art Show
All types of artisans and all types of goodies, from glass...
to pottery...

to sculpture.  (Mermaid-obsessed Foghorn's favorite.)

And, of course, the student art contest.  Foghorn had a lot of competition.

Of her two entries, WE actually thought the toucan (pictured in above photo on bottom left) was superior...

but the judges preferred her clown -- a mix of paint, marker, and paper mache hair.  The winner!

And while waiting for the judges' decision, Foghorn constructed a fairy house under a tree.

Habitat for Humanity Fairies.

As for that promised recipe, yesterday my mother made a Weight Watchers two-ingredient cake from a recipe that's been floating around the Internet.  It uses a box of cake mix and a can of diet soda.  As you can imagine, the combinations are endless.  My mother made a white cake with a lemon-lime soda and topped with a light cream cheese and lemon frosting.  GOOD!  Not so good I'd binge on the entire cake, but definitely good enough to take the edge off a cake craving.  You can get the full recipe at her blog, Lillian's Cupboard, here.

With the ugly weather today, I wish I could go curl up in bed with one of those wooly sheep and just sleep away.  I'll have to settle for a hound dog...or two...

You might also be interested in:



Sunday, September 18, 2011


Foghorn walked away with the 1st place blue ribbon in her age group and $15 in prize money at the Loveland Art Show's student exhibit!  She's thrilled to death.  Fortunately she waited until we were in the van to yell, "I won first place!  In your FACE, other kids."

You might also be interested in:

Meet the Inmates -- "Foghorn"

* The Slammer

Friday, September 16, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -- Inspired by SouleMama


You might also be interested in:


Thursday, September 15, 2011


It was on this day in 1890 that Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, England, to which you might say "big fat deal".  Well, Ms. Miller married Archibald Christie in 1914 and with her new name went on to be the best-selling novelist of all time.  Not too shabby.

Having been an avid reader of Ms. Christie's works since the 7th grade, I thought it only fitting to give you what I consider to be her five best mysteries.  With over 80 books to her credit, narrowing my list down to Christie's best five is, for me, like trying to choose my favorite Beatles song.  Just when I say one is my favorite, a different song pops into my head.  For someone new to Dame Agatha, however, this list will give you a good taste of her varying styles, detectives, and settings.  Enjoy!

  1. Murder on the Orient Express - A classic story with the classic detective, Hercule Poirot.  With the whole story taking place within the confines of a train, Christie manages to weave a complex tale that leaves one guessing until the end (unless you've unfortunately already watched one of the numerous t.v. and film versions).
  2. And Then There Were None - While it has none of the well-known detectives of Christie's other works, this is a gripping story with a jaw-dropping conclusion.
  3. The Murder at the Vicarage - Christie's other classic detective, Miss Marple, in her very first appearance.  While the mystery itself is good, what is particularly appealing is the look inside the world of this spinster sleuth and her small English village.
  4. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Another Hercule Poirot mystery and seemingly just another village murder.  Seemingly...
  5. The ABC Murders - When a murderer appears to be systematically working his way through the alphabet, Poirot has his work cut out for him. 

As soon as I compiled this list I thought, "What about A Murder is Announced?"  I started to make a change to my list when I thought of Curtain, Poirot's last mystery and one that's not to be missed.  (Actually, I would suggest tackling a handful of his other mysteries first; it's a better read when you have a feel for the man.)  Then The 4:50 from Paddington entered my head.  And what about The Seven Dials Mystery, such a departure from her later works?  And we can't forget Cards on the Table, which inspired me to learn to play bridge...

You  might also be interested in:

Spending the Summer With Nancy Drew

Give Peace a Chance?  - Paul McCartney at Great American Ballpark

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I often lament my lack of Camp Fire Girls awards and dwell on the one tiny red, white, and blue bead I earned in 6th grade.  A few months back you may remember I had been eyeballing a necklace my sister had created for her Etsy shop, made of vintage wooden Camp Fire Girls beads in that familiar red, white, and blue.  Well, I didn't get my thumb out in time and a complete stranger swooped in and bought it. 
Never fear!  Chester is here!  At the end of the epic Camp Gonnawanna this year, my sister (lovingly known as "Uncle Chester" to The Inmates) presented me with two hand-crafted gifts.  The first is a journal she created using the covers of a 1917 novel called The Camp Fire Girls at Lookout Pass, adorned with a string of the vintage Camp Fire Girls beads on the top ring.

The second present, which is really more an award for not throttling any children during Camp Gonnawanna, is a necklace made with those same vintage Camp Fire Girls beads, but all in my beloved, horrendously beautiful 70s colors of avocado, marigold, and tangerine (with purple thrown in as well).   Now that summer has ended and my Official David Cassidy Puka Shell Necklace has been lovingly tucked away in the jewelry box, I think it's time to put this little darling to good use.  And since I just took down my summer-themed family room knick knacks and reestablished the area as my Brady Bunch room, I think this baby will work nicely as a piece of home decor when not being worn.

My sister has been hard at work with some gorgeous vintage rose-shaped beads in an orange-y coral shade which she's pairing with black beads for some awesome Halloween-ish necklaces, as well as some with shades of light green and cream which I have my eye on.  (That's if those pesky customers don't get there first.)  In the meantime she's having a summer clearance sale and you can check out her shop here if you're interested.

And while we're on the subject of kudos for me (isn't that what we were talking about?), yesterday Corinne commented on my post No-Blog Tuesday that I didn't provide "after" photos of my two disaster areas.  Just to show, contrary to what The Vulcan says, that I did do something yesterday, I give you the excavated tidied "after" pictures:

I know...  It's not nearly as much fun as seeing all my crap, is it?  Don't worry, my friends, I have so many other condemned spots I could share that you can rest assured of your superiority over me.

You might also be interested in:

* Camp Gonnawanna

* Patch Envy

* Patch Envy - Part 2


Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I interrupt my regularly-scheduled sarcasm for this announcement:

Given the amount of time that I have been spending on the keyboard of late and the we say untidiness of my home, I've declared today No-Blog Tuesday, meaning I won't be writing a post.  OK, yes, technically this is a post, but  it's gonna be brief compared to my usual verbose ramblings.  The house has finally crossed that line between cluttered and non-functioning, so some elbow grease is in order today.  I have laundry to do (The Vulcan keeps snarling something about wanting clean underwear), I have errands (I got hell from The Professor for buying the wrong type caps for his new Derringer and need to make an exchange), and I have a tower of paperwork in my inbox that's threatening to take a tumble onto the floor (where my paper-devouring hound dog lurks).

And just to make all you ladies feel better about the states of your homes, I'm adding photos of the two areas I plan on excavating cleaning up today.

Apparently you can have too many purses...  The bench in the foyer tends to be the family
dumping ground when we walk in the door.

The top of my dining room table hasn't been seen since the beginning of summer.
I gotta do something about this before I lose something important like a
bill or my keys...or my child.

There, now don't you all feel better?  For all those who answered yes, I say, "You're welcome."  Now that I've publicly shamed myself, I better get to work.

You might also be interested in:

Meet the Inmates -- The Professor.

Meet the Inmates -- Foghorn.


Monday, September 12, 2011


Here in the U.S., Grandparents Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in September.  This year it unfortunately coincided with the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.  I purposely didn't write a blog post about September 11th, my own experience of seeing it unfold on television while at home with my small son mirrors the experiences of so many others.  That's not to say it wasn't on my mind.  For anybody over the age of 17, it's a profound, lifelong memory.  On the way to Grandma's yesterday, I mentioned to the kids that it was the anniversary.  The Professor said, "Oh, yeah.  I almost forgot about that."  (He was a mere two years old on the day and remembers nothing first-hand.)  Then he thought for a minute and said, "But it's also Grandparents Day.  Shouldn't we try to forget about 9/11 and just focus on Grandma?"  He was right.  Never should the people who died on 9/11 be forgotten.  At the same time, though, the biggest lesson I came away with that day was you never know what's gonna hit you tomorrow.  Try to enjoy today.

With that attitude, we had a steak lunch at Grandma's, followed by a rich chocolate chess pie.  We then presented the gifts.  Since her birthday is at the end of September, we keep the Grandparents Day gifts small.  (In my family, any occasion tends to be used as an excuse to give elaborate presents.)  My own gift was a photo mug, a collage of memories of the kids from the past year.  A mug has been my traditional gift since Josh's first Grandparents Day in 1999 and this 13th mug will join the others in a place of honor in Grandma's sewing room.  The Professor and I went to Hobby Lobby last week, where he debated the merits of an art deco hand mirror, an antique-looking magnifying glass, and an atomizer before deciding on two small rhinestone-encrusted frames which I filled with freshly snapped photos.

Foghorn's gifts are a little harder to explain.  Saturday night she had decided she wanted to earn money for a second Figit Friend.  It's known around here that extra chores can be done for cash, but Foghorn always finds the idea of manual labor a little too exhausting.  Instead she arrived at the couch (where I had been lounging all day, sick as a dog with some unknown ailment) with a lovely picture of a mermaid.  She asked if I wanted to buy it and I said certainly, to which she snapped, "That'll be 10 dollars!"  What?!?  I steadfastly refused and said I'd give her a dollar.  That lead to a shrieking fit that went on for half an hour during which I was accused of thinking she was a terrible artist and that I liked the Professor better than her (even though I never paid $10 for a picture of his either).

The Vulcan emerged from his cave office at one point to quiet her down and even offered $2, but she wouldn't go lower than $7.  And she made that loudly and ferociously clear.  At one point she sat with a pair of scissors in her hand and the picture held before her, ominously saying, "If you don't think I'm a good artist I might as well cut it up!"  I pulled the blanket over my head and refused to play her game anymore.  After about 20 minutes she stomped in saying, "I'll sell it to you for $1."  I agreed and was handed a thoroughly wrinkled mermaid picture.  "What the hell happened to this?", I squealed.  "I crumpled it up.  I figured if it wasn't worth $7 I might as well destroy it."  Jokingly I thrust it back at her saying, "Well, I don't want it if it looks like this..."  Her eyes started to well with tears and I quickly assured her I was kidding and produced a dollar.  I didn't need another hissy fit.

Her mania for money probably explains Grandma's gifts.  The first was ordinary enough -- a picture of Grandma's dog, Rusty, colored from an image put through's "Lights, Camera, Color!" program.  The other gifts...well...  One was a picture to "My Perfect Grandma" and depicted Foghorn (stretching about 6 feet tall) and Grandma (dressed as a princess).  The other was a pop-up card, with Grandma's three-dimensional form on the outside and "The Best Cook" inside.   These would have been heart-warming if Foghorn hadn't written "Price:  10 dollars" on each.

We finished up with an outing to the Old West Festival in Williamsburg.  Grandma, I salute you for being a great cook, a wonderful grandmother, and the only person who can spend a day with my kids and still be cheerful at the end.

If you'd like to read about our excursion to the Old West Festival, please check out:




With the weather clear and warm, Grandma, Chester, The Inmates, and I decided to venture to Williamsburg, Ohio, about 30 miles east of downtown Cincinnati, for their Old West Festival.  Tucked away on a narrow road on dozens of acres of undeveloped land sits a Dodge City replica, complete with boardwalk, saloon, shops, and hitching posts.  There are regularly scheduled gunfight reenactments in the street, as well as a variety of shows throughout the complex including a medicine show, cowboy poetry, puppet show, and sing-along.  Standard county fair-type food is available like hot dogs, steakburgers, and rattlesnake chili.  What we had was reasonably priced at $2 for a hot dog, the same for a bottle of water, and $1.50 for a small Pepi.

Both Inmates enjoyed a horse ride, particularly The Professor who long ago grew too tall for the pony rides and has missed the contact with horseflesh.  (We have a history with horses in my family, which you can read about at Uncle Chester's blog here.)  Horse rides were $5 per kid and included two loops around the track.

The Professor also tried his hand at the bow and arrows for $2.  I had warned him it was harder than it looked, particularly with a bow that was half his height.  The guy running the booth was very patient with him, though, and took the time to show him over and over how to hold it without dropping the arrow.  While his aim was off, The Professor finally managed to shoot his three arrows at least toward the target, if not actually hitting it.

About a dozen vendors were scattered around selling everything from boots and handmade jewelry to animal pelts and genuine claws.  (I have a serious aversion to fur not still attached to a live animal, so I made a quick exit from that particular tent.)  One store sold your old time "cowboys and Indians" props.  The Professor emerged with a Derringer cap pistol (which he used to shoot things all the way home, despite our repeated warnings not to, including the produce of a farmer's market stand).  Foghorn chose a stunning headdress with pink faux fur and pink and white feathers.  Chester said she looked like she should be on Fire Island.

What The Warden had most been looking forward to was sending her children to jail.  For $5 the Sheriff would arrest the person of your choice, toss her in jail, and send you home with a keepsake warrant.  The Professor's eyes lit up at the thought of locking his little sister in there (not realizing I had intended to have them both incarcerated).  Foghorn played it off like I was joking when I said I'd have her arrested, but I could see fear in her eyes.  Despite her booming voice and over-the-top personality, she's actually rather timid around strangers, especially men, and I could just seeing her going into a hysterical crying fit when she landed in the pokey.

There are bathroom facilities on the premises, but I'll give you fair warning that you might want to do what you can to avoid them.  Foghorn never makes it more than two hours without a bathroom stop and I thought it might not be too bad, given that the toilets were located in a long trailer and had several stalls to accommodate multiple people at once.  I knew I was in trouble when a girl in 1800s garb stepped out, exhaled deeply, and said, "I won't be drinking any more water today."  It was pretty bad and when I related the story everyone else vowed to hold it and run in the first McDonald's we passed on the way home.

The Old West Festival runs Saturdays and Sundays, now through October 9th, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for children, with free parking.  We had a couple coupons clipped from Reach Magazine, which got the kids in free.  I have to say I would not have wanted to pay full price for all of us.  If you're interested in going, I highly recommend checking Reach Magazine or (the latter requires registration in order to print the coupons).  Donato's also has a deal going to benefit the charity A Kid Again.  At any Cincinnati Donato's location you can purchase a booklet for $1 that contains four free children's admissions with one adult paid admission, plus one free individual one-topping pizza coupon.

Information, including directions, can be found at the Old West Festival's site here.  Be forewarned that both parking and Dodge City are on unpaved ground.  The soaking rains of last week had dried up just enough to make walking around bearable, but if you're going right after a recent downpour be sure to wear old shoes or boots and prepare for swampy, muddy conditions.

You might also be interested in:

* The Loveland Bike Trail.

* Meet the Inmates -- The Professor.

Meet the Inmates -- Foghorn.