Sunday, December 13, 2009

12 of 12: The Frantically Preparing for Cookie Party Edition

'Twas the day before my cookie party, and all through the house...
All of these pictures were taking in my kitchen and entry way, in Thetford/England. 

0750- Christmas tunes on the iPod. I decided to kick off my baking day with Kristin Chenoweth singing Christmas Island. Her album, "A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas" is my newest favorite. I just love Broadway voices...KC is the original "Galinda with a gah" from Wicked.  With the music on, I'm ready to get my holiday spirit on and start TONS of baking!


0800-Can't bake without an apron! Today I chose the Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville... I was wishing that I had a Christmas apron to wear :(  But I'm very very proud of myself for not deciding to postpone the cookies in favor of making myself a new Christmas apron! Ha!


0900-First batch(es) of the day: Pumpkin-Cranberry Oatmeal cookies. (Recipe here) Made these earlier in the fall and loved them SO much that I decided these would be my cookie party recipe this year! That means I need 6 dozen of 'em!


0945- Too many doughs in the kitchen! I started baking the PCO cookies last night, and due to an oven malfunction, only ended up with 3 dozen that I felt were an adequate representation of my baking! So I needed to make another batch today. And, since I had a cookie party cancellation, I decided to make a second set of 6 dozen cookies: Orange Infused Snowballs. I started on that dough while I was working on the PCO dough and that was *not* a good idea. I ended up dumping a teaspoon of baking soda into the wrong dough. It's really hard to tell baking soda from powdered sugar, so I tried my best to take it out! Then I moved the OIS dough to the other side of the kitchen and focused on the PCOs!


1245- Three oven errors this morning totally blew my theory that my oven just likes to act rebellious after 11pm. I think this is an overheating error, so I had to change my cookie strategy (can't wait for the landlord to fix this when I have 17 dozen cookies to bake!). So, I baked 2 sheets (about 30 minutes), then turned the oven off for an hour. Then baked 2 sheets, then turned the oven off. Not the most efficient strategy, but better than ending up with half-baked cookies!


1300-During my oven's break, I decided to package up the PCO cookies that are done. I lined them up, wrapped them in clear cellophane, and tied some burgundy and gold bows on the ends. I think they looked so pretty!


1430-Here they are, all wrapped up and ready to go home and get eaten by their new owners! I had to store them on my stepstool in the entry way (where my basket of mittens usually is) because all of the kitchen surfaces were taken!


1600-My first batch of Orange Infused Snowballs are out of the oven. These bake at a lower temp, and don't spread, so I think I was able to get them all baked without having to switch the oven off! Almost 8 dozen!  Recipe here.


1700-Another break...for the oven and for me. I went to Wilkinson & Pound Stretcher to pick up some ball ornaments to use as vase filler, and to drool over the white Christmas tree and lavender garland. I didn't buy it...yet. I might go back tomorrow. I love that white tree! The black ball ornaments are for the baby shower I'm planning.


2000- I saw this cute cookie packaging idea here. I just used a 2.25" strip of patterned paper instead of fabric scraps. I think these are so cute! A dozen snowball cookies were a perfect fit!


2350-Here's my tiny fridge...eggnog, gingerbread eggnog, milk, hot broccoli dip, fudge, Buster bars & Buckeyes ready for tomorrow.
 
2359- It's midnight...and still TONS on my to-do list! I stayed up until 2:30 or 3, then got up at 7 to finish getting ready for my party! *Almost* everything was done in time, but I didn't sit down until everyone left at about 4:30. Well, I take that back...what kind of hostess would I be if I didn't sit and enjoy a nice chat with my guests?
But that's why I'm late in getting my 12 of 12 posted. Now all I want to do is sit and relax...but I have the party aftermath to tend to! :(

Check out other 12s here

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thursday 13: Christmas Movies I Love

Thirteen Christmas movies I love:

1. Elf. Elf just makes me smile. And smiling's my favorite.  I watched it in May and wanted to decorate my house right then! Watched it again in July and once again had to fight the urge to put the tree up! And the last time I was in an elevator, I was very tempted to push all the buttons like Buddy the Elf and say, "It looks like a Christmas tree!"

2. A Christmas Story. I miss having TBS so I can watch this for 24 hours on Christmas Eve. But I have the DVD, so I can watch it for 24 hours any day of the year!

3. A Charlie Brown Christmas. I love the Peanuts gang. I love Christmas. So, what's not to love?

4. Miracle on 34th Street. Old or new version.  I love Maureen O'Hara, but that little Susan in the new version is too too cute!

5. Snowglobe! I loooooove this one! I wish I had ABC Family so I could be watching their 25 days of Chrsitmas right now! Snowglobe is so cute!!!

6. Holiday Inn.


7. It's a Wonderful Life.

8. The Polar Express. The bells still jingle for me!

9. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

10. Mickey's Christmas Carol. I used to watch this one every Christmas Eve with one of my very best friends & neighbors.

11. Home Alone.

12. Meet Me In St. Louis. Judy Garland singing I'll Be Home For Christmas gets me every time!

13. The Christmas Raccoons. We had this cartoon special taped from tv and I loved watching it. Two kids and their dog cut down a Christmas tree that belongs to a raccoon family. And there's a weird pink villain.

14... I'm adding on here, because I'm having a flashback of another Chiristmas movie from my childhood but I can't remember 1--if I liked it and 2--what it was called! It might be Santa Claus: The Movie. Or Prancer. I remember there being a reindeer. (So that narrows it down...*eyeroll). But the logo I'm picturing looks a lot like the Santa Claus: The Movie one.

What are your favorite Christmas movies?
Check out other lists of 13 here

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My most favoritest thing about Dublin...

was this:

This is This is Knit.
And it is the very best place in Dublin.
This is Knit is in the cutest mall in the world. Or at least in Dublin.(Powerscourt Townhouse)
It is full of colorful yarn.
And nice people.
Very nice people who say wonderful things like, "Your Clapotis is lovely, by the way."
The nicest people are the ones who can look at your hand-knit scarf and call it by its pattern name.
Very nice people who understand how clever it was to knit a Knitty pattern with yarn in a limited edition colorway inspired by the Knitty editor.
These are my people.
I could've spent all day there.

But I was with some other people.
And, although they were good sports about finding the yarn shop, they just didn't get it.

Australia: The Complete Travelogues

Easy access to all of my posts about my 2008 trip to Gold Coast & Sydney Australia:

Interesting Blog Posts Coming Soon
G'Day
Australia Day 1: China
Australia Day 2: Part 1-Location, Location, Location
Australia Day 2: Part 2- It's Root, Root, Root for the Home Team!
Australia Day 3: A Rainy Day at the Fair

Australia Day 4: Part 1-Great Expectations
Australia Day 4: Part 2-Room Service
Australia Day 5: No Rest for the Weary-Crikey!
Australia Day 6: Location, Location, Location (II)
Australia Day 7: Blue Mountains Part 1-Fauna
Australia Day 7: Part 2-Leura
Australia Day 7: Part 3-Thrill Rides
Australia Day 8: Part 1-Divide and Conquer
Australia Day 8: Part 2-Family Reunion
Australia Day 9: A Manly Morning and a Royal Afternoon
Australia Day 10: Part 1-To Market, To Market
Australia Day 10: Part 2-Starring David
Australia Day 11: The State of Our Passports

Flashback!

I wanted to post a Christmas card here today, because it's SITSmas!! SITS is a fun community of bloggers who love to comment & get comments (and find "new" blogs to read!)...if you're one of those bloggers but don't know about SITS, head on over and check it out!

Our trip to Australia seems SOOOOOOOOOOOO long ago! I guess it was almost a year and a half ago, but so much has changed since then! And who knows what will change between this year's Christmas card (which I'm not posting here since I haven't mailed them out yet!) and next year's!?!

Since last year's card:
We left Okinawa :(
We spent a month (D) or two (me) in the states
D moved to Greenland
I moved to England

Before next year's card:
I'll send out this year's card
D's moving to England
We'll have to buy a car
I hope I'll get a job
Maybe we'll have some visitors
And who knows what else 2010 will bring?

If you want to read more about 2008's trip to Australia, click here!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

December Goals

Better late than never:

1. Run. It's becoming harder & harder to get motivated to run. The sun is stubborn. The rain and wind are persistent. I never know what to wear... long sleeves over long sleeves or long sleeves over short sleeves? Jacket or no jacket? Lightweight long sleeves or something more substantial? Shorts, tights or windpants? Headband/earwarmer, stocking cap or baseball-style hat? Usually by the time I've figured out what to wear, the weather has changed and I have to start over. 

2. Knit. Yay, I should have quite a bit of time for knitting this month! I'm going to visit David and he says I'm going to be really bored. So that means that before I go, I need to choose a couple of projects to take with me. Maybe one big project and one small? Or one big and two small? Even before that, though, I need to make 4 more pairs of mini-mittens as favors for my cookie exchange.

3. Stay up-to-date with my baby shower planning time line. I have it all planned out in a huge Excel file. So as long as I keep meeting the deadlines, the shower will be a success! Oh, and one of the things on the list happens to be a knitting project...so I can knock out two goals with one stone!


4. Clean the house. I'm having company on Sunday! And since I leave shortly thereafter, I shouldn't have too much time to make the house messy before my trip, so it will be nice and clean when I get back too.


5. Finalize travel plans. Good thing I'm writing this goal post... because I just realized that I haven't booked the final leg of my return flight yet!

6. Read. I still haven't finished The Know-It-All, just about 20 pages to go. I also checked out a Joyce Carol Oates book, Little Bird of Heaven. And I have The Summer Kitchen on loan from a friend so I need to read that too. Plus, I still haven't read Dewey, which I bought over the summer! I'll get some reading done on my trip as well though.

7. Mail stuff. I think my Christmas cards & presents (very few presents!) are going to be late. But, better late than never!

Reminder: 'Tis Better to Give Than to Receive

I'm going to visit David for Christmas, partly so we can continue our "streak" of spending every Christmas together (we've missed every other holiday at least once) and partly so I will be the closest I will ever be to Santa's Workshop (unless Santa makes all my dreams come true and invites me to intern as an elf at the North Pole!).

The people on D's floor decided to do a Secret Santa gift exchange, and I was included in the drawing. Secret Santa gift exchanges always make me nervous. I really put in some good effort to give great gifts, but don't always get the luck of the draw. But...the gift is in the giving, right? 'Tis better to give than to receive.

(My best Secret Santa ever was "Backpack" at Camp Lawrence Christmas in July. She spoiled me with all kinds of scrapbooking goodies. I think that year, I was buying for my camp director, Batty. He loves cashews, so he got some variety of cashews every day. I may have cured him of his cashew habit that summer.)

The instructions were to list "three likes and three dislikes". And that's what your Secret Santa has to work with. The Secret Santa who has never met me. This assignment was very difficult for me. How specific should I get? I don't want to sound picky, but I want to give this person some guidance, you know? I like a lot of things... but if I put "reading" on the list, how does that really help my SS? If I list "reading-fiction", that's still pretty darn vague. But if I get more specific and say, "reading-Jodi Picoult books," then what if I end up getting the ones that I've already read? I didn't really feel comfortable putting "knitting" on the list, because a non-knitter really probably has no idea what a knitter would want, where to get it, etc. Same issue with "scrapbooking"... what if my SS doesn't know a thing about scrapbooking and I end up with a pack of construction paper and some Hallmark stickers, which are great for putting on envelopes, but not exactly my scrapping-style, kwim? So I reminded myself that 'tis better to give than to receive, and tried to give my SS a little guidance with a good price-range. The likes I decided upon? Cooking & Baking, Christmas Decorations, and Flavored Lip Gloss. If I got this list, I'd be pretty good... maybe some kitchen gadgets, a cookbook or magazine, fun cookie cutters, pot holder or an apron, a cute Christmas ornament, candle holder, candy dish, or table-topper, and round it off with an assortment of LipSmackers. And probably a Burt's Bees for when you really need your chapped lips to feel good instead of just smell good.  Worst case scenario, I end up with $25 worth of plain colored ball ornaments. But... the gift is in the giving. 
Oh, I listed my dislikes as coffee, black licorice, and things that taste or smell like cinnamon candy.

So, when D came here to visit, he brought 2 slips of paper and I got to choose one. He assured me that I would be happy with either one. And, I ended up buying the gifts for both of them anyway. The one I picked listed (I am fairly certain he doesn't read my blog and so I can say here without spoiling the secret) "Ohio State T-Shirts, Ohio State Sweatshirts, Ohio State Sweatpants, Ohio State Slippers." So....a Michigan fan! Ha ha... I was happy enough to buy for this guy, because a---it was one-stop shopping! and b---I like Ohio State! As my "almost alma mater", the school I would've gone to had I not gone to Carthage, that's my fan school. Because Carthage football isn't even something I subjected myself to when I was in school there.
D's list had only one like, "Chicago Bears". So I had fun shopping for that one too!

Well, last night, I talked to David and he said he had some bad news. Of the dozen people participating in the gift exchange, guess whose Secret Santa had to leave unexpectedly and won't be back for Christmas? Mine. Of course. Good thing the gift is in the giving, because that will be the only Secret Santa gift I'm getting (until my SS returns after Christmas and has David mail me my presents). Except for the gift I bought for myself, just in case something like this were to happen. Yes, 'tis better to give than to receive... but you've got to remember to give to yourself too!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Thursday Thunks

Because I really should be folding laundry or washing dishes or making delicious Buster Bars, I decided to participate in this week's Thursday Thunks. And also because it says "egg nog". I love egg nog. 
1. Sometimes when you are sitting around doing nothing, a thought randomly pops into your head. How many measuring cups do you own?
ummm....liquid ones? Maybe 5? Dry ones... who knows! However many will fit in the bowl full of measuring cups!

2. What is your favorite ice cream topping?
Maraschino Cherries. Hold the ice cream.

3. Egg nog - is it digestible?
Yes, and in mass quantities. I loooooooove egg nog.

4. Were you one of the insane humans who went to a store last Friday?
Yep, the yarn store in Dublin! I need to write more about my Dublin trip. But Black Friday isn't exactly "celebrated" there. 

5. There are 12 months in a year, anywhere from 28 - 31 days in a month, depending on the year, of course. Each day holds a special meaning for someone, some days hold a special meaning for everybody. Do you have a 2010 calendar yet? 
Nope. Well, just the school-year one that my alma mater sent me. I need to get a day planner...should've put that on my Christmas list!

6. Kids are funny sometimes and say the darndest things, but it's ok because they are kids and they are so adorable. A two year old is cute when they say a swear word. Admit it, they are. What was your favorite nursery rhyme growing up? Hey - if you don't have a favorite, just work with me here and pick the first one that fell off the wall and broke like an egg or came out of the sky like a cow who just jumped over the moon.
I don't know!

7. Most of us have some type of machine that people like to call 'vehicles'. Some are blue, some are yellow, some are red. Some have trunks, some have beds and some even can't decide if they are a car or a truck. We put gas in them, check the oil and drive them all over the place and stop them in places called parking spots. Picture in your mind the machine you currently own and if you own more than one, picture the one you last drove - when was the last time you had a new tire on it?
Before I owned it. But I've been told to put "new tires & wheel alignment" on my to-do list.

8. For those of us on Facebook, do you wish to share your Facebook identity with us?
Those of you who I want to know it already do.  :) As for the rest of you, I'm far more interesting here, trust me.

9. Santa's coming! Where's the best place to hide presents? Any clever little tricks for keeping those nosey people from ruining the surprise?
Doesn't matter where they're hidden. I WILL find them.

10. Have you heard that the world is going to end in 2012? Some people think that the world isn't actually going to go BOOM! and be no more, they think that the "end of the world" is actually going to be a worldwide takeover by a certain country and/or religion, which all has to do with the current president of the USA. Do you agree?
Ummm...hadn't really thought of it. But no. 

11. Butterly, butterfly fluttering through the air, please don't land on my freshly washed hair. What brand of shampoo did you use this morning? (and for those of you who still stink.. think of yesterday morning... and if that still doesn't apply to you - go get your stinky butt in the shower!)
Aussie. I love the smell.

Thursday 13: 13 Things on my Christmas List

I can't believe I didn't make my Christmas list back in October like I usually do. Maybe that's because I got my big Christmas gift in October...a piano! Well, a digital piano/keyboard. But it sounds *just* like a real piano and fits in my laundry/office/gym/and-now-music multipurpose room.
But now it's December and the year just wouldn't feel complete without a Christmas list, so here goes:

1. Glee: The Music, Volume 1 Have you not watched Glee yet? I absolutely love it. And that's why I'm dedicating 3 of the 13 slots on my Christmas list to it. I'm sad that I looked this up too late (I think) to get the Target exclusive edition that has 3 extra songs that you can't get anywhere else. I don't know how I'll be able to go on.
2. Glee: The Music, Volume 2  This one comes out on December 8. Eeeeee!  So that means you can catch the last episode until "winter break" on December 9, fall in love with the show and go out and buy this CD without having to wait! And listen to it over and over until you just can't stop smiling!
3. Glee: Music from the FOX Television Show  How perfect is it that I now have a piano in my house, and there is a book full of Glee sheet music? Very perfect.
4. Scarf Style  I put this book on my list every year. I look for it every time I'm in a bookstore or knitting store. I don't know why I haven't just ordered it online already!
5. Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin  Because she is hilarious.
6. Make Mine Music This DVD has one of my most favoritest things from childhood on it... Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet. You can watch it here on YouTube. Or, I can get this for Christmas and you can come watch it on my big tv.
7. A cute box bag to carry around some little knitting stuff or small projects like fingerless mitts or teeny tiny sweater ornaments. So it makes it even more sensible and cute to choose one with Grazing Sheep on it!
8. Vera Bradley Coin Purse I have one already and I quite like it. The only problem is that I also have 2 other little accessories in the same pattern, so when I need to dig in my bag for my American money, I'm always pulling out the coin purse full of British money. Life would be so much easier if I had a coin purse in a different color/pattern, like maybe Purple Punch, Mod Floral Pink, or Java Blue.
9. Running Headband because ears get much colder in England than they do in Okinawa.
10. Dance 'Til Dawn  Love this movie! I want to watch it at my birthday party. And I want it to be a slumber party.
11. A fleece beanie for running when it's too cold for just an ear warmer.
12. The Runner's Rule Book: Everything a Runner Needs to Know and Then Some
13. And, because I can't think of anything else, but I know that if I go upstairs and get the Stampin' Up catalog my list will be longer than 13, a Survivor Buff!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Reading Rainbow

I came across a reading challenge today that I might try. Nothing *crazy* like 100 books in 2010 or anything like that! :)
It's the Lost in Books Colorful Reading Challenge.
When I go to the library, I often have no idea what book I want, I just pick something colorful. So this is an interesting twist to my "choose a book with a colorful cover" strategy...it's "choose a book with a colorful title" instead!
I'm not exactly sure that I'll do the full challenge, 9 books in 9 different colors, but I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for colorful titles.
Some books I might consider are:
White
White Oleander
Snow: A Retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Black Stars in a White Night Sky (a book of poems)
Black
Paint it Black (the sequel to White Oleander)
Black Star, Bright Dawn
The Black Pearl
Bitter is the New Black
Blue
Gathering Blue
Island of the Blue Dolphins (one of my favorites from my elementary school days)
13 Little Blue Envelopes (I checked this out before, but didn't get to it before returning it!)
Something Blue (I read the first book, Something Borrowed, but haven't come across this one yet)
Once in a Blue Moon
Green
Before Green Gables
Little Green Men
How Green Was My Valley
Purple
Purple Heart
Purple Hibiscus
Yellow
Half of a Yellow Sun
A Yellow Raft in Blue Water
Orange
Five Quarters of the Orange
Code Orange
Blood Orange  
Pink
My Life in Pink and Green
Little Pink Slips
Pink Palace
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit  
Red
Where the Red Fern Grows (If I'm in the mood to cry!)
Red Hook Road
Woman in Red
Red Dress Walking
Red Glass
The Red Umbrella  


That's 9 colors...but maybe there's books with color names that come from the Crayola 64 box instead of the crayola 8 box! I might look up some of those later. I think I've got a pretty good starting point for now though!

Dublin: IMHO

I went to Dublin with fairly low expectations. I had heard from three different people that Dublin may not be Ireland at its best. In my opinion, big cities rarely are. Places that got raving reviews were Cork, Kerry, Killarney & Donnegal. But, for this weekend, the only thing on the itinerary was Dublin, so I decided to go check it out for myself, since I hadn't made any other Thanksgiving plans anyway.

The verdict is in: I agree with my three friends--Dublin doesn't get two thumbs-up from me. When you think Ireland, you might think "green," "sheep," "craggy sea cliffs," "accent," or "cute little old men wearing tweed hats." that's definitely not what you get in Dublin! It has a few interesting, pretty points, but I bet I could've done enough Dublin to satisfy myself in one day with a hop-on/hop-off bus pass. And without a pregnant travel companion.

More later.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To Do



 Yeah right. I wish that was all there was on my pre-Dublin to-do list. The rest wouldn't fit on the post-it. What the heck did I do all day???


Even though it's not Tuesday, I had some time to waste, so I figured I'd participate late. Or early. You know, instead of doing the things I need to do. Makes perfect sense. 


Find out more about Post-It Note Tuesday here.
Or, if you just want to make your own Post-It, go here.

Feeling Lucky?

I have mixed feelings about the Kindle/Sony Reader/Nook.
In my last post, I was talking about how much I love libraries. I love that they just give you a book, for free, and you get to take it home and enjoy it for a while. Three weeks at my library. I love that if you pick a book and don't really like it or find another book that you want to read first, you just take it back. No money wasted. I love that if you want to read a book that your library doesn't have, they might be able to borrow it from another library for you! No running all over the place looking for a book.

So, even though I love getting my free books from a big selection at my library, I couldn't resist entering this giveaway for a Kindle! Because I like reading. And I like winning things. So it is a perfect contest for me. Click the link and try to win one too. Because if you enter using my link, I get an extra entry. And if you're not going to win, don't you want me, your internet friend, to be the one to win? If I don't win, I hope it's you!

Now, I don't have a Kindle---yet. After my name gets drawn in the Kindle giveaway, I will!---so I can't say for sure how much I would love it or when I would use it. But I like to think that even with a Kindle, curling up on the couch with a book will still be something I want to do. Partly because I love these little magnetic bookmarks that I have, and I would miss using those if I used the Kindle exclusively. Plus the whole paying-for-books vs. getting-them-free-at-the-library thing. (My friend and I were talking a few weeks ago about how we think there should be a some kind of library license, where the library purchases the Kindle file or whatever and you check it out onto your Kindle...and then just have it expire or drop off when the three weeks or whatever is up. Maybe they already do this. Or maybe we just invented it because we are geniuses.)
Right now, I am packing for a trip. At least that's what I'm supposed to be doing. I think trips would be the #1 reason to have a Kindle. Besides the super cute Kindle cases, of course.  When I go on a trip, I need to have plenty of stuff to keep me busy. Even if I'm never going to get around to it. I need a knitting project. I need a book. For the airport, maybe the plane, for waiting in the hotel for the other people to wake up or shower. But what if the plane is delayed? What if the flight takes longer than expected? What if the other people sleep really late or take long showers? What if I finish the only book and knitting project I brought with me? So, I must bring extra. It's the only solution. But what if both of the books I bring are real page-turners? And I can't put them down and I finish before I've even gotten there?  Do you see where this is going? If you had a Kindle, you could load that puppy up and put a thousand books into your carry on bag, and take up less space than a single paperback. So, try and win a Kindle!
My trip is only 4 days, and is a see-stuff kind of trip. I'm packing 2 books. Imagine what I would "need" to pack if I were going on a week-long lay-by-the-pool and relax trip instead! But at least that kind of trip would require fewer and smaller clothes in the suitcase! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One of my favorite places in the world...

I've been lots of places, and I feel grateful and lucky for that. But one of my very favorite places in the whole wide world is not faraway or fancy, and I feel grateful and lucky for that too! It can be found almost everywhere and it's FREE!! It's the library!
I've always loved the library. I remember my mom taking me to the "little library" down the street from my house. I mostly remember doing puzzles there. When we moved, we ended up getting a bigger library!
One of the first things I did when I got here was to get a base library card. I was so excited to see that the library here has a McNaughton collection. The library at Kadena had this collection (newer books) but then lost the grant/funding for it, so there was this big chunk of empty shelves that practically shouted (or whispered very loudly, it's a library after all) "Remember that best-seller with the pretty shiny cover that you wanted to read? It's not here anymore!! Go pick one of the old stinky books."

Today, I went to the library to return a book (House of Mirth, Edith Wharton) and print something out (boarding pass to Dublin) and ended up spending nearly an hour browsing. That's one problem with the library. It's very hard to "just run in to return a book". Because, you see, there are hundreds...no, probably THOUSANDS of other books whispering, "I'm good. Pick me. Take me home." Almost like puppies in a pet shop! The other problem with the library is that it's very hard to choose a book. That's why I normally choose 2 or 3. There's not a limit at this library...I could check out 63 books if I wanted to---but I wouldn't be able to read them all within 3 weeks. And when I renew too many times, I feel like I'm being judged.
So today I saw a whole bunch of books that I would like to read, and I didn't have a little notebook with me to write down the titles. So now I'm sad! This library doesn't have tiny pencils and index cards or paper scraps near the "card catalog" computers, so I had to try and remember which books were interesting (I only checked out two today...I already have 2 Ireland travel guide books checked out from the other base's library.) I've already forgotten...which means that next time I go to the library, I'll be there at least an hour perusing and choosing. Good thing it's one of my very favorite places!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Thanksgiving Meme

Maybe it's because there isn't a turkey defrosting in my fridge (good thing, because I don't think one would fit in there!) or because I haven't been busying myself with lists, timelines and spreadsheets about groceries, side dishes and serving utensils, but it hardly feels like Thanksgiving is just a few days away! 
I'm not hosting (or even going to) Thanksgiving Dinner this year, which feels kind of weird. I'm going to Dublin with a few friends instead. But that doesn't mean I can't think about turkey dinner!  



1.What are the traditional favorites?
Everything! Mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, corn souffle', pumpkin cake, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole.

2.What new recipes will you try this year?
Well, I'm not making anything for Thanksgiving, but if I were, I would make this pie I saw this morning on Bakerella. I think I will make it for Thanksgiving-in-June. Which I have decided should be an official event, right before Christmas-in-July.

3.What part of the meal do you never compromise?
 All of it!

4.Who gets to carve the turkey?
David. I don't know/remember who carves it at family Thanksgiving at home.  

5.Family style around the table or buffet style and everyone sits wherever there's room?
A little bit of both? In Okinawa, we had all the food in the kitchen, the only thing passed around the table was bread I think, and after loading up our plates, everyone who could fit would sit at the dining room table. Anyone who couldn't fit spilled over to the living room-couch or card table.  

6.How many will be at your table this year?
Four, I think. In a pub in Dublin, most likely!

7.Three best pies for Thanksgiving dessert?
Apricot Cranberry Pie. And that's the only kind of pie I've made. I don't love pumpkin pie, but I'll eat it. I love pumpkin cake!! Apple pie too, but not the recipe I attempted last year!
 
8.Cranberry sauce...yeah or nay?
Absolutely! Times two! One straight from the can, complete with the lines, and one "doctored up" version.

9.What time do you eat Thanksgiving dinner?
When we host, about 1600/1630

10.Favorite leftover?
All! Green bean casserole, probably. I love having mini Thanksgiving dinners in the days following Thanksgiving, and then I love having Thanksgiving on a Sandwich when the leftovers are dwindling.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Party Planning Panic!

In the middle of the night, I woke up from a nightmare.
In my nightmare, it was the day of a baby shower I've been planning since August. And I didn't have anything ready. None of the crafts on my list were done. My gift wasn't wrapped. My cupcakes weren't baked. The ONE request I had from the mom-to-be---taco salad---wasn't prepared.  But none of that really mattered, because I hadn't sent out the invitations.
So this afternoon and evening, I worked on my baby shower plans.
This baby shower is going to ROCK!
It's a "Rock the Cradle" themed shower, after all.

I already have the invitations designed, I just need to finalize a date with the mom-to-be. (Late Jan/Early Feb).
I've already drawn out what I want my living room & dessert table to look like. 
I made a list of all of the weekends in Jan/Feb as well as the dates invitations would need to be mailed, etc. so when we do pick a date, all the "math" is already done.
I asked the mom-to-be to let me know who's on her guest list.
I asked the mom-to-be to send me a baby picture of herself for a "Very Important Project"
I started working on the Very Important Project--a concert-style VIP Pass for her to wear during the shower. Like a corsage, only hipper.
I made a list of baby shower games that I would be interested in playing, and prizes. I'm going to see which games the mom-to-be is interested in.

I still have lots to do... ordering some things (temporary tattoos! guitar shaped soap! white chocolate bark/melts!), making some things (ribbon wreath for my front door! paper globes to put in vases! onesies to hang on the wall!), and planning/organizing some things (menu! guest addresses & phone #s! plan for parking!)... but I feel like I accomplished at least a little bit today and should sleep soundly!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Small Talk Six

It feels like I just did a Small Talk Six post... this week has gone by without my even noticing! This week's topic:
6 things you are most thankful for this year

1.  Being Independent. This year, I had to move from Japan to England by myself, while my husband is stationed somewhere far away. I had to find a place to live, accept three shipments of household goods, open a bank account for pounds, hook up the internet, etc. And the military refers to us as "dependents". Puh-lease. 
2. Hobbies. Like I said, I've been in this house alone all this time, no job, no consistent human interaction. Good thing I have plenty of hobbies to keep me busy! Reading, running, knitting, scrapbooking, crossword puzzles, and now, playing the piano!
3. The Kindness of Others. Coming here on my own, I wasn't sure what to expect. People here have checked up on me, included me in weekend plans, invited me for dinner, helped me find a car, a house, the commissary, kept me company, and gushed over my baked goods. What more could I ask for?
4. Airplanes. I've been on a lot of them this year, and a few more to go. One took me home from Japan, then here, to Florida so David and I could see each other after about 6 months apart, back home again, back here again. Then one brought David here, and another took us both to Scotland. Next week, I'll be on an airplane again headed to Dublin. And next month, on another airplane to go spend Christmas with David.
5. My family. They are the very best.
6. The Armed Forces. Thank you, for what you do and for what you would be willing to do.

Road Block

After moving along so nicely on my Amused sweater, I have officially hit a road block. I hit the road block about a week ago. Yep, it was definitely a week ago. The body is finished, the sleeves are finished, and now it's time for the collar. I have to pick up (and remove from the crochet cast-on...maybe there is an easy way to do this, but I don't know it!) a hundred and something stitches around the collar. I did maybe half of them last Saturday (and I did about a quarter of them twice, because I decided I was doing it wrong the first time), put it down because I just couldn't take it anymore and I needed a break. I've picked it up twice since then...and moved it to a different part of the living room. Maybe today I can make myself finish! Finish picking up the stitches, that is... not finish the collar! I bought the yarn for this sweater almost a year ago! I am determined to finish. I am determined to finish. I am determined to finish.

I even washed a whole bunch of dishes this morning rather than knit. That's how intimidated I am by this project right now!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My new substitute-favorite game show

I haven't seen my old pal Alex Trebek or heard that "thinking music" in ages. When David was here, we played Trivial Pursuit (Pop Culture Edition, and I WON!!!) and I didn't give all of my answers in the form of a question. I miss Jeopardy. I think my brain pistons aren't firing as rapidly as a direct result of not watching.
So, I must find something to take up for my daily dose of smart. I have the "Challenge" channel which airs a lot of game shows. I love game shows. But mostly, I love Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. I was pretty excited when I saw that Wheel of Fortune was on, but when I watched it, I wondered why on earth the WoF set was so dated. Our Wheel of Fortune has come a long way since the 80s, but this one...well, hadn't. As I watch more and more "Challenge" channel, though, I think (or at least hope) that many of the shows are actually rebroadcasts from the 80s. The hair, the clothes, the glasses... wow.  Who Wants to Be a Millionaire seems to be new, but they ask questions about stuff I don't know. British stuff. One day, I was super excited because I got a question about English Geography right!!! Because they said "What county are Diss and King's Lynn in?" and I knew that because those names are on a sign that I pass nearly every time I drive away from my house. But that was not a typical occurrence, so I needed to find a game show that I could watch, play along with and have a chance at feeling good about myself afterwards.
And then, a couple of weeks ago, I found Countdown.  (again. I had seen just the end of it once before)
Oh, Countdown. It's on every weekday afternoon at 3:25, just five minutes before Jeopardy would be coming on at home, so that's got to be a good sign!
Here's how it goes: There are two contestants. Each "letters" round, one of the contestants asks for 9 letters by saying "consonant" or "vowel" and the letters are revealed one at a time. The players then have some time (30 seconds, maybe?) to find the longest word they can with the letters. I'm not exactly sure how the scoring works...sometimes only one gets points and sometimes both do. There is also a lady with a dictionary who tells you the longest or most interesting words that could be made with the letters. I love letter games, but I'm not that good at Countdown yet. If the point were to find as many words as possible, I'd really be something at this game. But it's not.
Today I was really excited to find an eight (!!!...usually I'm stuck with sixes, and sevens with the right letter combination) letter word from these letters:
E A I T T M N E S
I also found the longest word possible in this round:
T P O I F O I N T
But I did not fare as well with
R W S U A A I D P or R F R O E A L S J
(I won't tell you what I found, just in case you want to play along in the comments!)

There are also three "numbers" rounds in each game and this is where I really struggle. My math anxiety kicks in when the Countdown version of "think music" comes on.
For the numbers game, the contestant chooses 6 numbers by asking for "big" and "small". I think the available "big" numbers are 25, 50, 75, and 100. Then a target number is randomly selected and you have like three tenths of a second to use addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to make any or all of the six numbers (don't have to use them all, but can't use any of them more than once) equal the target number. The players try to reach the target number, or as close as possible.
It always stumps me. Except for the day when the target number was 108 and two of the numbers given were 100 and 8. I finished that one way before time was up.
Today I was SO proud of myself, because I solved a slightly more challenging numbers problem within the time limit.
The numbers were 5 small and one large (3, 9, 2, 5, 5, 100) and the target was 175.
Right away I saw what to do... again, I won't tell here in case you want to play along.
I was so excited that I drew stars all around my answer.
The next numbers challenge was to reach 336 using 9, 1, 9, 25, 50, 100.
I managed to get to 334, which was just as close as the contestants. The Vanna White of Countdown (Rachel Riley, who is apparently incredible at math) said she got to 335, but didn't show how.
And the final numbers challenge, the target was 167 and the numbers were 6, 3, 4, 75, 100, 25.
I got to 168 (and 166), and I was happy enough with myself for tying with the contestants. The Pat Sajak of Countdown (don't know his name) got 167 exactly. But he used division, and I just don't think I'm ready for that. :)

Thursday Thirteen*

Thirteen cookies & treats on my 2009 Christmas baking list:

1. Chewy Chocolate Cookies (check!)
2. Snickerdoodles (check!)
3. Pumpkin-Cranberry-Oat Cookies
4. Easiest Fudge Ever. In the History of the World.
5. White-Chocolate-Cranberry Shortbread Cookies (but only to share with people who have never had these baked by my mom)
6. Buster Bars (which are so good that I named them after myself!)
7. Minty Thins
8. Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies
9. Chocolate Chip Cookies
10. Candy Cane Cookies (just like my grandma's! only drizzled with chocolate & crushed minties!)
11. Saltine Toffee
12. Buckeyes
13. Snickers Surprise Cookies

I originally had only 12 things on my list (because 12 seemed like a good number for Christmas treats--12 days of Christmas, a dozen cookies, etc. It just made sense)...but after a friend at ScrapVillage mentioned the Snickers Surprise Cookies, I had to add them!

*The Thursday Thirteen is something I saw on this blog and learned a little more about here. It's simply a blog meme where participants make a list of thirteen things on Thursdays. Makes sense, huh? The list can be anything you want it to be, there isn't a weekly topic or prompt.
Beware, you might see a sudden increase in the number of meme posts on this blog. But don't get too attached, because bloggy stick-to-it-iveness is not necessarily my forte'.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Scotland: The Complete Travelogues

Since it's taken me 8 posts to tell about my 2.5 days in Edinburgh, and since those posts are scattered around among the other attempts to make 30 posts in November, I decided I'd compile a list of all of my Scotland entries, right here to make them easier to find!
 November Goal #6
 Edinburgh: First Things First
Royal Mile plus 250 meters (part 1)
Royal Mile plus 250 meters (part 2 and 4)
(Not Quite) Just like Rabbie Burns
Royal Mile plus 250 meters (part 3)
Up Again
Goodbye Edinburgh

I  must take a moment to be completely honest. The real reason I decided to compile this list is because I'm supposed to be cleaning up the living room and/or (oh, alright, AND) kitchen because I'm having a friend over for lunch and possibly crafting (or possibly not, because that would mean I'd need to clean up my crafting room too) in 12 hours, 6-8 of which I intend to be sleeping. If my middle name began with P, it would be "Procrastinate." But it doesn't. It begins with S. So it's Suzanne.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Goodbye, Edinburgh!

We turned in early on our last night in Edinburgh (actually, we were exhausted early *every* night of our trip, but we purposely went to bed early on the last night) because we knew we had an early morning ahead. We woke up at 0300 so we could get ready, get checked out, get to the bus stop, and get to the airport in time for our 0630 flight.
It had been "fireworks night" on Thursday and on our way to the bus stop we passed lots of night owls in the streets.
We thought that the AirLink bus would leave at 0400, but it didn't leave until 0420, but it only took about 20 minutes to get to the airport, so we weren't feeling rushed. The bus was packed!
Our goal was to stay awake until we needed to board the flight, so we walked around in search of some breakfast. Look what we found:

A vending machine for books! In Okinawa, there were vending machines everywhere, but only for drinks.  Here, the vending machines are less plentiful, but I've seen them for candy and snacks as well as drinks (when I was here in 2000, there was a Hooch machine and a Grolsch machine in our hotel lobby!) But this was the first time anywhere that I'd seen a vending machine full of books! As luck would have it, it was out of order! That was actually a lucky thing because 1---the books were more expensive than typical vending machine fare and 2---I already had a book and a half left to read in my bag. If the book machine had been functioning, I don't know if I would've been able to resist getting a book just for the fun of getting it out of a vending machine!

We ended up having a "delicious" airport breakfast consisting of Cadbury chocolate and McCoy's crisps (chips). Once we boarded, I think we were both zonked out before take-off. We both slept through breakfast, and we both woke up right after the meals had been passed out. I would've rather slept for another 10 minutes so I wouldn't have known that I slept through an airplane meal. I think airplane food is fun!
Anyway, the great thing about the flight between London and Edinburgh is that, unlike the flight from Chicago to London (or especially, from Okinawa/Tokyo to Chicago!), when you wake up and check your watch, you're going to be landing in just 15 more minutes instead of 6 more hours. After we landed, we had a lot of time to wait in the airport for the shuttle back to base. D played with his PSP and I read my book. When we got on the bus, we tried to get comfortable enough to sleep just about the whole way back. I fell asleep to the sound of a retiree talking to this other lady and woke up to the same thing when we were just a couple miles from base. He seemed like a real sweetheart, but I was thankful that he hadn't chosen me to talk to because I really wanted more sleep! Edinburgh really knocked us out... we were asleep again for the night by about 8 or 9 pm!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Up....again.

Arthur's Seat was crossed off our list, but we had more climbing to do on Thursday morning. One of the first things we noticed on our first day in Edinburgh was the super-tall, Victorian-Gothic-style Scott Monument.
 
I think David was more interested in the car than the monument. 

After a Scottish breakfast (the Royal Mile Full Scottish Breakfast for David and the Mini Mile for me... both had eggs, toast, sausage, haggis--I ordered vegetarian haggis this time--hash browns, and some kind of mystery meat. David's came with black pudding as well), we headed to the Scott Monument and spent a little time checking out the poppies in the Garden of Remembrance that was set up for 11 November.

Poppies, just like us! 

Then we paid our entry fee, which one of the workers assured us would be the best three pounds we'd spend all day. Right after getting our ticket/brochure thing, I spotted the sign on the wall that said, "If you are afraid of heights or don't like small spaces, don't come in." Ha! Perfect for me on both counts! *eyeroll*
We started climbing the 287 steps to the top. The steps were small and spiraly, so they were extra scary! And I don't know exactly what would've happened if we would have met up with people trying to come down as we were trying to go up. I was thankful that it wasn't high tourist season and that we got there right when it opened, rather than trying to battle crowds in this tiny space.
The first "landing" had a really pretty indoor section with placards, carvings, and stained glass paying tribute to author Sir Walter Scott, Scotland, Edinburgh, and the design, building and restoration of the monument.

The Scotland crest/shield thing. 

And then there were more stairs. The next 3 viewing areas were just small paths leading around the monument. The views were nice, but the whole time we were up there, I was dreading getting down! But I didn't necessarily like being 200 feet off the ground either. David took tons of photos on the way up and down the monument. We met an American on one of the landings on our way down. He was on his way up, and was contemplating whether to continue, because he didn't like heights or small spaces. I assured him that if I could do it, he could do it!


Looking out at Edinburgh, down at the poppies, and up at the monument.
When we got out of the monument, we were both feeling a little dizzy from coming down the spiral stairs! Our next stop was right around the corner at the National Gallery. We could see it from the monument, as well as Edinburgh Castle.


 

We spent quite a bit of time in the gallery (more than I had thought David would be up for, honestly) checking out art by artists like Monet, Degas, Titian and also Scottish artists. There was an exhibition in the Scottish artists section inspired by Robert Burns.

We had thought we'd hit up one more museum, but it turned out we were both feeling kind of museumed out. We headed to Princes Street & Rose Street to browse some shops. I really, really wanted to find the black boots that I was searching for in London.

Really, really wanted to find them! We went into Clarks, where 3 pairs came close to meeting my specifications: really low, stack-style heel, tall enough but not too tall, the right kind of leather, etc. One pair wasn't available in my size. The other two pair were alright, but I decided to wait and maybe come back later if I didn't find anything. There was another shoe store right next door. We went in there, and I found a pair of boots that looked a little better than the others and were 10 pounds cheaper. But I still wasn't ready to commit! We went into one more store and I chose 2 pairs to try on. While I was waiting for the girl to get them from the back, a pair in the children's section caught my eye. I tried those on and they were perfect AND half the price of the adult boots next door. It took all of my might to refrain from hugging the salesgirl. I am now the proud owner of a practically perfect pair of black boots... a pretty atypical souvenir from Scotland! We did a little more shopping and browsing, then had lunch at the Fueling Station (I think). After lunch, a little more browsing (we went into a golf shop and Jenners, which I read was like the "Harrods" of Scotland.)
We dropped our bags off at the hotel, and headed back out to look at the souvenir shops (that we had already looked in many times in the past two days! Got a few things (David got a fleece jacket, I got a real kilt!) and relaxed in the hotel a little while before dinner at an Italian restaurant right around the corner. There were real Italian girls at the table next to ours and I had fun trying to listen in on their conversation ;) We made it an early night, as we had to get up at 0300 to get ready, checked out, and to the AirLink bus to make it to the airport for our flight. Our trip to Edinburgh was officially almost over! :(

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Small Talk Six

This week's Small Talk Six survey asks for a list of "Six stores at which you wish you could register for Christmas presents for yourself."

Etsy---I looooooooove so many things at Etsy! I think it might be time for another Etsy favorites post! 
Amazon---I was going to pick Borders or Barnes &Noble, but then I figured Amazon would work for books and a vast range of other stuff too. And, I already have a wish list there!
KnitPicks/Sonny and Shear/Jimmy Beans Wool/Eat.Sleep.Knit---yarn, needles, patterns & more yarn!
JoAnn/Hobby Lobby/Michaels---for all the other crafty stuff!
The Gap/Banana Republic---I'm definitely a Gap/Banana girl!
Pier 1/Pottery Barn/Crate & Barrel---for seasonal and all-season decorations and serving dishes. I love serving dishes.

Edited to Add: I *totally* forgot about another store at which I'd want to register... so maybe I'd drop Pottery Barn, etc. in favor of Road Runner Sports. I just used a big gift certificate from last Christmas there and only ended up making a very very small dent in my list. (Just to give you an idea, I had to knock about $1,430 off my list in order to make it to the amount on my gift certificate. And it was a bigger-than-average gift certificate!) 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Belated October Round Up

Saw this "round-up" questionnaire out in blog-land somewhere and it's been sitting in my drafts since the end of October. I got side-tracked by posts about Halloween, London, Scotland, etc. but rather than just scrap this, I thought it would be useful in helping me get to my 30-posts-in-November goal!


What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
The Know-It-All (still reading that!), Gossip Girl (first in the series) and House of Mirth (I decided that I was doing too much fluff reading and not enough brainy reading)
What movies, television shows, plays, etc. did I watch this month?
How I Met Your Mother, Gossip Girl, Ugly Betty, Two and a Half Men
What fun things did I do with my family and/or friends?
David came here at the end of the month!
What gifts did I give and/or receive?
A piano! It's an early Christmas present.
What special or unusual purchases did I make?
I bought an out-of-print NFL logo crochet pattern book
What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
None... I don't have a classroom full of kiddos to give me germs this year!
What were my accomplishments this month?
I made the most delicious cupcakes IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.
What were my disappointments this month?
Adjusting to sharing my time & space with David again was tricky, but not altogether disappointing. Definitely not as disappointing as neglecting to order my Survivor buff on time for Halloween.
Anything else noteworthy to include?
I can't really think of anything *noteworthy*... I pretty much laid low all month!

Royal Mile plus 250 meters (Part 3)

So, as I alluded to in Parts 2 and 4 of this story, we needed to travel to the South (I think...or maybe West. Possibly North or East. Let's just go with "other") end of the Royal Mile to get to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. You see, the Royal people just weren't satisfied with Edinburgh Castle. I think it's on the top of my "favorite castles I've visited" list, but they just didn't think it was fancy enough...and that was precisely what I liked about it! Even though there was a long span of time in which I fantasized about meeting, wooing and marrying Prince William (or any prince, really, but he was the only one I ever saw on People magazine, and there wouldn't have been a language barrier, so that seemed the most realistic option), now I see that I would not make good royalty. I think that the palaces and castles I've been in have been really over-decorated. All that gold stuff and the tapestries and ... it seems that people who live in castles and palaces don't really subscribe to the notion of "less is more". Nor do their decorators. I just wouldn't be happy there. And that's why I decided not to marry a prince after all.

Well, anyway, according to the guide, Edinburgh castle just wasn't fancy enough and a little too drafty, so the royal family decided to relocate to the other end of the road to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which had been a monastery and a guesthouse where Kings had been staying for years. James IV decided to add on to the guesthouse and make a proper Palace in 1498. This was Mary, Queen of Scots' residence until she fled (lots of good stories about Holyroodhouse to share in another entry) and today, this is the official residence in Scotland of The Queen.


We weren't allowed to take photos inside, but it was a lot like all the other castles I've been in. Lots of paintings, beds with curtains, and intricately carved (sculpted?) ceilings. Some of the highlights of the palace included seeing the table where Queen Elizabeth entertains guests and learning which seat was hers (and it's not at the head of the table) and seeing her official Order of the Thistle ensemble. Here's something that *wasn't* like most of the other castles I've visited---the audio guide was FREE! Woohoo! Well, maybe not free, but "included" in the admission fee. I enjoyed listening... and taking notes in my little notebook.

My favorite part of the palace was Holyrood Abbey, and it was photo-friendly. This is the oldest part of the palace grounds, and was originally a small monastery in 1128. It grew into an Abbey, and an important one at that, with coronations and royal weddings taking place here. It was pillaged & plundered in the 1500s and again in the late 1600s, and after a brief attempt at restoration in the 1700s, it ended up deteriorating. It's in "ruins", but beautiful ruins.

(I'm not on the phone, I'm listening to the audio guide. And I think I'm standing on a grave! Didn't realize that as the picture was being taken!)
As we were leaving the Abbey, a royal beast came bounding toward me. At first I wanted to keep him, but then I realized that a Scottie Dog would've been a more appropriate souvenir-pet, so we left him frolicking in the park. 



Doesn't it look like we should be holding a "SOLD" sign in this picture?
 

After shift-change, when David was free to stop guarding the palace, it was time to scale Arthur's Seat. David read about this in one of the guidebooks (sometimes knowledge is NOT a good thing!) and decided that we should do the 30-minute climb to the top to check out the views of the city. Since I had encouraged him to be involved in the planning of the trip, I had no choice but to go along with his suggestion. 


It was only 250 meters (over a three and a half thousand less than Fuji) and took less than 40 minutes to climb, but I was still having Fuji Flashbacks. Just like Fuji, this is an extinct volcano (actually, Fuji is not extinct, just dormant). And just like Fuji, the beginning of the climb started out with a nice trail of steady but moderate incline. Then, bam! Suddenly you are on slippery rocks with no idea where to safely step next.


I don't really understand the compulsion to go to high places to get great views. I, for one, do not like being so high that the massive palace you were just standing in front of looks to be the same size as Barbie's Dream House.




We made it to the top (well, David made it all the way to the tippy-top, I stopped at what I deemed the "official" top) and I held on to this cement marker-thingy for dear life. I let go long enough for a picture with David, and then hurried back to the cement thing until it was time to descend.
 
 We finally made it down. It took a while because I kept getting "stuck".


This is my "I'm stuck. I'm scared to take another step. I'm going to die on the side of this stupid hill" expression...all the more reason to avoid climbing up and down things.

And that concludes my tale of the Royal Mile plus 250 meters. Finally.




Friday, November 13, 2009

(Not Quite) Just like Rabbie Burns

I found a blog through another blog that led me to this teacher blog, the Miss Rumphius Effect. I figure I can at least keep my teacher brain active by reading what other teachers say.  Each Monday, she presents a "Poetry Stretch" in which she challenges her readers to try a particular poetry form or topic. This week's challenge was to create a "Rictameter"-a non-rhyming poem of 9 lines in which the first and last line are the same. The trick is that there's a certain requirement for the syllable count of each line: 2-4-6-8-10-8-6-4-2.

So, I figured that, since I had just come from the land of Robert Burns, maybe I'd take a page from his book (not really, they were encased in glass at the Writer's Museum) and take the poetry-writing challenge this week.

So, here goes:

Scotland.
Spent two days in
Edinburgh*, where we
followed a Royal foot path from
the castle to Holyroodhouse and scaled
Scott's Monument to get a view
of this old and charming
city, star* of
Scotland.


*1-remember to pronounce Edinburgh the right way, Edin-burrah, not Edin-berg, to make the syllables work! And to sound like you know your stuff!
*2-I'm going to pat myself (and my AP English teacher, Ms. Frye) on the back here because I think I am so darn clever as Edinburgh is the capital and a star is the symbol for a capital city on a map!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A 12 of 12 in which I left the house....

I have to interrupt the Scotland "travelogues" to share my 12 of 12. It's a good one because the photos aren't all of my living room (although I did sneak a couple of living room photos in, because it just wouldn't be my 12 of 12 if there weren't some lame living room photos thrown in there!)

So this was a pretty exciting 12 of 12, because: 1. I remembered that it was the 12th. 2. I had plans to leave the house. 2. I had plans to leave the house and go to London. and 3. I had plans to leave the house, go to London, and meet up with another 12 of 12er! Oh, and 4. I had 5 articles of handmade-by-me knitwear with me.

But it wouldn't be MY 12 of 12 if I hadn't let plenty of photo ops just pass me by. Here is the 12 of 12 that will exist only in my mind:
1. 6 tubes of wrapping paper falling out of the closet when I removed my blue coat.
2. Me remembering to put my running clothes in the washing machine. This would've been hard to photograph, as it did not actually happen.
3. The 4 balls of yarn I put in my bag as a reminder of just how much I overestimate myself sometimes.
4.  The clock in my car, to prove that I managed to leave the house even earlier than I had planned. Miracle!
5. A new parking pass machine at Epping.
6.The girl filing her nails on the tube. I wonder if she does this every morning. She had really nice nails.
7. My hazelnut hot cocoa.
8. A singing vacuum cleaner in the underground station. No photos without a donation. And I used all my change in that new parking meter.
9. The Christmas garland decorating Debenham's department store.
10. UniQlo- another reminder of Okinawa!
11. Frogging the three rows of new knitting project I started on the ride in, and casting on again...twice. 
12. The super-hot actor Channing Tatum sitting next to me on the tube and asking if he could hold my hand. It exists in my mind, and you can't disprove it!

And here are the 12 of 12 that actually exist in photo-form:
1-Dominion
1. 0800- Tottenham Court Road, London. Helen said that an easy place to meet would be the Dominion Theatre and that I couldn't miss it because there is a big bronze Freddie Mercury and a huge "We Will Rock You". She wasn't kidding!

2-Dino
2. 1045-(I think...my camera is still on Okinawa time and I'm too tired to figure it out) National History Museum, London. A dinosaur! Don't be scared, this diplodocus is a plant-eater! And he's dead and has no muscle tone whatsoever.

3-chimps
3. 1055-National History Museum, London. On to the primates! Chimps are cute! Even though I read a friend's facebook status this evening and it said something about a bad chimp that was featured on Oprah. I still think they're cute. Mom, tell Aunt Cookie that neither of these guys stuck their tongue out at me.

4-moose
4. 1120-National History Museum, London. There is something out there that is cuter than a chimp. Waaaaaaay cuter...and it's called a moose! I thought this would turn out to be a bad picture (and you may think that it did) but as it so happens, it's an excellent picture. How could a picture with a MOOSE in it be anything but excellent?

5-NHM
5. 1135-National History Museum, London. The museum building is really beautiful! If you want to see photos that really do it justice, you should probably check Helen's blog. She takes so much care in taking her photos and actually takes more than 12 seconds to get her camera out, turn it on, snap a picture, turn it off, and shove it back in her bag. Which is probably why her photos are always so great and mine are always so... not quite as nice.

6-dry ice
6. 1200-Science Museum, London. The 3rd floor of the museum had all kinds of things to play with. Now, we all know we shouldn't actually play with dry ice, but this exhibit was fun to watch.

7-thermal imaging
7. 1205-Science Museum, London. This is Helen and I as thermal images. The light spots are the warm spots and the dark spots are colder. I am the one with the cold nose and cheeks. And freezing cold glasses.

8-magnets
8. 1210-Science Museum, London. These magnets reminded me of the same sort of activity at the museum we went to in Fort Lauderdale. David and I spent quite some time building towers of magnets there. Partly because the longer we played, the longer we got to stay in the airconditioned museum, but mostly because connecting magnets together is just plain fun! I will have to bring him here because there was lots of fun stuff!

9-milkshake
9. 1330-Dee's Diner, Debenham's, London. Yesterday Helen e-mailed me and asked if there was anywhere particular I wanted to go for lunch. She said that there's a diner in this department store and that they have fun milkshake flavors like Rolo and Oreo. I think she went on to talk about some other food options, but I'm not sure. She does not know me well enough yet to know that once I hear or read "milkshake," I've checked out of the conversation... there is only one thing on my mind, and it is cold, thick, and, preferably, chocolatey. Like my Rolo Milkshake.

10-tree
10. 1845-Living Room, Thetford. I promised you living room photos, didn't I? I had a lovely day touring and chatting with Helen, but I was glad to get home, because it meant that my hour and a half drive from Epping was over and that I could turn on my Christmas tree!

11-slippers
11. 1915- Living Room, Thetford. Time for jammies and slippers! I loooooove my new slipper boots. I try not to let them make me think about the slipper boots I'm knitting for myself but need to rip back quite a bit. They are hiding because they don't want to depress me any more than they already have.

12-knit
12. 2100-Living Room, Thetford. My Amused sweater, which I am determined to finish tomorrow, one month after starting it. I have just a little bit of sleeve left, and the collar. The title of this photo is, "Get off the computer and Knit!", but I think I will get off the computer and sleep. After all, I have until tomorrow to finish it! I'm not happy with the way the yarn is pooling in the 2nd skein I used. :(

Anyway, thanks for reading about my 12 of 12. And, Helen, thanks for doing 12 of 12 with me today!
Tomorrow, I'll return you to your regularly scheduled programming (Another Scotland blog entry).
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