Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The "Alternative" Halloween

It all started last month when I noticed October 31st fell on a Saturday. I asked the girls if they would like to spend Halloween at Sea World, and they both jumped at the chance. We know they decorate the park and have special shows during October, so we thought this would be a lot of fun.

Plus, it would get us out of Trick-0r-Treats for the year. This is a good thing, because neither girl holds their sugar well. And besides, this still left the Trunk or Treat activity our church does every year for costumes and candy.

The bombshell came a couple of weeks ago, when it was announced that Trunk or Treat would be held the same night as Anna's band concert. "I'm not going to the concert," she announced.

"You're willing to fail band just to get a bunch of candy?" I asked.

"Yes," she replied.

"I don't think so."

So this year, Halloween is going to be a little different around our house. We still brought down the old Imagewriter II box and unloaded the traditional decorations, but that's about it. We won't be buying candy or pumpkins. We're not even doing costumes this year which, after my recent dress-up post on my writer's blog, might make me a bit of a hypocrite.

But we'll still be celebrating Halloween, just in a different way, and with several thousand of our closest friends. Plus a few dozen marine mammals.

That's better than a whole pillowcase full of Tootsie Rolls and Hershey bars, right?

RIGHT?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Kara's Meme Answers

Josi, Thank you for your kind words. You are an inspiration to us as well! I have some thoughts on who to tag. I'll pass on my suggestions to Don.

1. Where is your cell phone?....On the counter charging.

2. Your hair? ...... Thicker and curlier than ever.

3. Your mother? ...... Hopefully smiling.

4. Your father?..... cat lover.

5. Your favorite food? ...... Do I have to choose just one? cassava and yak, oh, and pumpkin pie!

6. Your dream last night?.... should've asked me when I woke up.

7. Your favorite drink?.... Since this is Texas, I have to answer Dr. Pepper. It's like the law or something.

8. Your dream/goal? .... For my family to be in perfect health and on our way to Italy.

9. What room are you in? ...... bedroom.

10. Your hobby? .... creating recipes for the family.

11. Your fear? ..... I will be stuck inside for the rest of my life!

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years?... Financially secure and physically healthy.

13. Where were you last night?..... home, watching Halloweentown with my kiddos and hubby.

14. Something you aren't?..... a seamstress

15. Muffins? ..... Love, love, love 'em. Unfortunately my kids don't.

16. Wish list item? .... Cirrus SR-22.... same as Don's. They're like a flying sports car! Way fun to fly!!

17. Where did you grow up?...... Othello, WA

18. Last thing you did?...... Take an antigen for my digestive enzyme. :-)

19. What are you wearing? ...... Green shirt and a linen floral skirt.

20. Your TV? ..... 32 inch Sony, with the captioning turned on.

21. Your pets? ......... Guinea pigs Duchess, Lillie, and Mia. Also, Tucker the orange tabby tom cat who loves it when I bring him tuna.

22. Your friends? ...... Always been one to have just a few close friends. Been able to reconnect with many on FB. Also made a few new ones through blogs ... and a few more through doctor's offices.

23. Your life?...... a much better place to be the last 1 1/2 years.

24. Your mood? .... mostly happy.

25. Missing someone? ..... All the family in Washington and Utah.

26. Vehicle? ...... Faded red Chrystler mini-van with two missing hubcaps that I am so happy to have because I can sit in it AND be able to feel relaxed and breath. White Ford Ranger with a quarter-million miles that still smells a little like rubber. Both more than half-way through their second decade.

27. Something you're not wearing? ...... Shoes

28. Your favorite store? ....... Nordstrom.

29. Your favorite color? ...... it seems to change daily. Today, dark green.

30. When was the last time you laughed? ...... A few minutes ago when Alyssa planted a "tooth pastey" kiss on my nose.

31. Last time you cried? ..... This afternoon watching this video of one of my favorite songs.

32. Your best friend?...... Don is my best friend.

33. One place that I go over and over? ....... Oh, gee, what choices. The only place I go besides my doctors office's is Whole Foods.

34. One person who emails me regularly?....... Betsy

35. Favorite place to eat? ....... Carmellos in Ausin, TX. On the corner of 5th and Red River.

Bloggy Award and Meme


Last week Kara and I were given this award by the lovely and talented Josi Kilpack, an amazing lady who has quickly become one of our favorite authors. I'm honored to consider Josi both a mentor and a friend, and I was tickled to get this award from her.

This is Josi and I at the 2009 Whitney Awards Gala.

Here's what she said about us:
Don & Kara—They joint blog, so it goes to both of them, but together, and apart, they are such examples of what life really is. They have some trials, big ones that I can’t imagine, and yet if you ever read their blog they have such joy in their lives, in each other, and in their two daughters. AND, despite their family focus and optimism amid trial, they are generous and motivated toward the accomplishment of their own goals and dreams. That is a very rare gift indeed.

Wow - that was great! Thank you, Josi.

This award comes with a meme, which I have completed below. (I'm still thinking of who to pass this award on to - I'm not particularly good at that kind of thing, although I really probably ought to be better. Maybe Kara has some suggestions...)

1. Where is your cell phone?.... In my pocket, where my thigh can press the buttons and disconnect my calls before they ring. I had a holster once, but once it was worn out enough to dump my phone all over town, I got rid of it and haven't been able to find a suitable replacement.

2. Your hair? ...... Grayer and thinner than I ever wanted it to be. But it got cut this week, so it's not too long any more.

3. Your mother? ...... The sweetest woman you would care to meet.

4. Your father?..... Brilliant and funny.

5. Your favorite food? ...... Pizza

6. Your dream last night?.... Has been completely forgotten. Certainly not as interesting as the time I dreamed I was Kermit the Frog and got to host the Muppet Show.

7. Your favorite drink?.... Since this is Texas, I have to answer Dr. Pepper. It's like the law or something.

8. Your dream/goal? .... For my sweeties and I to be well and well off enough to do some traveling - preferably in our own little plane. Vroom!

9. What room are you in? ...... office.

10. Your hobby? .... Mostly writing at the moment, although I pick up my ukulele every once in a while.

11. Your fear? ..... Missing out on the good stuff in life.

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years?... Financially secure and physically healthy.

13. Where were you last night?..... Since Anna went to the circus with a friend, I took Alyssa to her favorite place - The Ice Cream Shop (yes, that's the name). A little old drive in with very low overhead costs, serving great, inexpensive food. She got chocolate chip in a cup; I got a pineapple cone.

14. Something you aren't?..... Confident - although I've made great progress over the last dozen years.

15. Muffins? ..... I really liked the big ol' bran raisin muffins that came from Costco. I don't think they even make that flavor any more.

16. Wish list item? ...... Cirrus SR-22

17. Where did you grow up?...... Laie, HI

18. Last thing you did?...... Started making cookies - then found out the dough needs to refrigerate for an hour. Perfect for a blog break.

19. What are you wearing? ...... Kirkland Signature jeans (we go for the big labels around here) and one of the three non-Hawaiian casual shirts I own.

20. Your TV? ..... 32 inch Sony, with the captioning turned.

21. Your pets? ......... Duchess, Lilly, and Mia - the guinea pig troika. Also, Tucker the tom cat eats and sometimes sleeps in our garage.

22. Your friends? ...... Maintaining friendships during the last decade has been a real challenge. In the last few years, however, I've made a lot of great new friends and caught up with a ton of old ones, mostly through blogs and Facebook.

23. Your life?...... "an aggregate of hope and dispair; joy and pain; failure and (sometimes) success - all held together by a large helping of delusion."

24. Your mood? .... more hopeful than it's been in years.

25. Missing someone? ..... All the Utah and Washington family.

26. Vehicle? ...... Faded red Chrystler mini-van with two missing hubcaps, and a white Ford Ranger with a quarter-million miles. Both more than half-way through their second decade.

27. Something you're not wearing? ...... Shoes

28. Your favorite store? ....... It's not PetSmart, I can tell you that. Or Toys R Us. I'd have to say Ikea.

29. Your favorite color? ...... Purple

30. When was the last time you laughed? ...... A couple of hours ago, during AFV. Love that show!

31. Last time you cried? ..... A couple of weeks ago, looking through pictures of fun times before Kara got sick and the world turned upside down.

32. Your best friend?...... Kara is my best friend. Anna and Alyssa are tied for a close second.

33. One place that I go over and over? ....... This year, it's been Sea World in San Antonio - 4.5 hours away. I'm kind of looking forward to the season passes expiring on January 1.

34. One person who emails me regularly?....... David Farland. Okay, so it's actually a daily email newsletter. Still, it's regular.

35. Favorite place to eat? ....... It's been over a decade since I've been there, but my favorite place to eat is Mangia Pizza in Austin. Yum! I looked them up real quick, just to make sure they're still in business, and found that they've opened a location right across from the apartments where we used to live. It's probably a good thing that wasn't open when we were there - pizza every night!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Few Recipes to Keep You Going

Things have been happening here. Rain and temperatures are both falling, animal populations are shifting and changing, and seasonal decorations are finding their way out of the attic. We also got a nice blog award from our friend, Josi, and we'll be posting about that soon.

But first, a report on some of the fun things happening in the kitchen.

We have an old recipe, a new recipe, a blue recipe, and they're all borrowed. (It kinda works, right?)

Okay, here we go. First up, the old: Gingerbread.

This is an old favorite. We've been making these cookies for years. With the cooler weather, it's now gingerbread season, although in my opinion it's always gingerbread season.

In the interest of typing time, blog space, and giving proper credit, I'll go ahead and link to the recipe. We use the classic Betty Crocker recipe, which can be found here.

Next is the blue: Almond Blueberry Cookies.

These are some cookies Kara recently came up with. They have quickly become a favorite. They taste a lot like blueberry muffins. Yum! The recipe is on the Food Network site, and can be found here.

The new is: Soft Pretzels.

We got this recipe long ago from a friend of ours, Bette Hawley, in a ward cookbook. I've been itching to make soft pretzels for a long time now, and finally did it.

I decided to make sticks instead of twists for several reasons. First, they're easier, and I wanted to focus on the baking rather than the twisting. Second, sticks take up less room on the sheet, so I could bake the whole batch at once. And finally, each serving is smaller - so important when one's delusions involve trying to lose weight. Never mind that I ate six last night after they were done. Ahem.

Anyway, here's the recipe for the pretzels:

1 Tbsp. Yeast
1 1/3 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp salt
3 1/2-4 c. flour
1 egg white + 1 Tbsp water

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add to remaining ingredients. Knead for 5 minutes. Let rise until double. Roll and shape. Brush with egg white and water mixture. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.

Mine went longer than the fifteen minutes, but I didn't time to see exactly how much longer. I got 20 sticks, each 40 grams of dough. (Yes, I weigh as I divide my dough. It's a nerd thing.)

Have a great week, and bake up something yummy!