Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Charlie Brown Tree Part II

Now that our tiny little tree is decorated, I thought I'd share a photo of it. Maybe it should be called the Hunchback of Notre Dame tree instead. We pretty much made all of the ornaments on it ourselves. One of my favorites is the happy little plate of spaghetti Russ made a couple of years ago. :)

Anyway, we had to move the little stockings to an out-of-reach-from-the-kitties place... earlier today they almost destroyed one of them. Oi!

Sleepin' Kitties

Because I had a request for more kitty photos. I took this yesterday:


Sometimes it's a wonder I get anything done, at least when it comes to housework. For example, I just finished eating lunch, so the very next thing I did was wash dishes. Midway through my task, I washed the pot that I usually boil water in for making iced tea. Remembering that I wanted to make some more, I stopped what I was doing, filled the pot with water, put it on the stove and put some tea in it.

That's not too bad - only one interruption, after which I finished washing the dishes and putting them away.

After finishing with the dishes, I noticed that crumbs and drips needed to be wiped off the countertops. So I grabbed a paper towel and was about to get the 409 out when I noticed that the random plumbing and electrician parts that have been sitting on the counter for weeks were still there. Since they apparently weren't going to find a place to belong on their own, I took them downstairs to the cellar.

Once in the cellar, the washing machine finished it's cycle, so I moved the wet clothes to the dryer, and started another batch of dirty clothes in the washer.

That done, I went back upstairs. On the other counter I saw the plastic bag that I had taken from the floor of our bedroom earlier in the mornign and placed on the counter so that later I would remember to clean out the cats' litter box. Well, I guess this was as good a time as any, since the bag would have to go somewhere else before I could clean that countertop anyway.

I finished cleaning the catbox, and looking down at the floor, I noticed that the kitties had managed to track quite a bit of cat litter on it, even though I had just swept yesterday. So I got out the dust pan and brush and cleaned up the floor surrounding the litter box.

Heading back into the kitchen to clean those counters, I noticed that the tea was boiling and ready to be poured over ice. So I got out the pitcher, filled it with ice, poured the tea, cleaned the pot and lid, sliced and squeezed a lemon into the ice tea, and put it away.

So, is it time to wipe down the counters yet? Nope, not quite. Next I noticed the accumulating pile of recyclable containers gathering next to the dish rack. So I gathered those all together and put them out on the back entryway, with the help of little Spammy of course, who took it upon himself to chase a fly he found out there.

Ok, so I finally got around to wiping the counters down. And guess what? Now it's time to flip the laundry again! :P

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hike in South Mountain Reservation

On Sunday, Russ and I went on a little hike with a couple of people from the group I've been hiking with lately, Tereasa and Karen. The place we chose to hike in is very nearby. I'm told South Mountain Reservation has miles of trails, but the four of us decided we only wanted to do a short hike, maybe three or four miles. So we chose the orange trail - a short loop.

Either the beginning of the trail (well, where we started anyway) was not marked very well, or none of use paid much attention to where we were going, because it wasn't long before we found ourselves completely off the trail! We were on a trail, just not the orange trail. Then we realized we were right next to the Girl Scout camp, so it was easy to meet up with the trail again later on. Anyway we weren't worried because no matter which way we went, we were bound to hit a road or someone's back yard or something.

We also found these fun little houses someone made of sticks. Tereasa was the only one goofy enough to pose for a picture inside one of them with me. :)

After we finished hiking, we all went and had food at a nearby diner. Now we just have to teach Jason to build that into his hiking plans next time he organizes one. :)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Charlie Brown Tree

We're back in Jersey now, and after being gone for two consecutive nights, our kitties are happy to see us. They did a pretty good job of making a mess, putting their food all over the kitchen floor, and tracking their cat litter around the house. To prevent Spam from dehydrating the both of them (remember he likes to kick all the water out of the water bowl), we had to leave the bathroom sink filled with water. Needless to say the water was pretty icky by the time we got home, because guess who loves to stand in the water while he drinks...

This evening Russ and I began our Christmas decorating by digging out our vast collection of polymer clays and making one ornament each. A few years ago we made a whole bunch of ornaments out of Sculpey and Crayola Model Magic. Now we just make one or two more ornaments each year to add to our tree.

This year, Russ made a happy little spam musubi with tamago. The rice, whites and blues of the eyes and mouth are all made of glow-in-the-dark Sculpey (ooooooooo!), and the nori is cute because it looks like camouflage.

I experimented with making a 3-D version of a Mochichick Mochi Kid. It's not the easiest thing in the world to make the tiny body. The body and the hair had to be baked first, and then inserted into the head, and then the whole thing baked together. I think I will also try to make a Forky Mochi Kid this year too, so they can hang out together on the tree.

Speaking of the tree, it is the same sorry little fake tree we bought at Craft Supply of Honolulu five years ago. It normally stands about three feet tall (if that), but last year we began mounting it on a stool which adds almost another foot to its height. We call it a Charlie Brown tree because it looks so sorry. And because it is such a small tree, we are running out of branches to hang all of our ornaments on. I suppose we could get a bigger tree, but we decided that can wait for next year. Especially since we have kittens... we'll be lucky if any of our ornaments survive this year! As you can see, little Spammy was my very eager "helper" in getting the tree set up. And something tells me he's going to keep doing his part to set up the tree, every day all the way until we take it down after New Years!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Let it snow let it snow let it snow...

Yesterday Russ and I drove the 200+ miles from New Jersey to my folks' house in Massachusetts to spend Thanksgiving with them. This is the first holiday I've spent with my family in over five years. We were fortunate to have good weather for the entire drive, especially since the weather forecasters kept threatening us with snow for both Wednesday and Thursday.

So this is also the first snowfall I've seen in over five years. Nothing too dramatic, no 5-foot snowdrifts or anything like that. When we woke up this morning, it looked like "frosted mini-wheat" snow - snow that covers the ground, but you can still see the tips of the grass poking through. Later on it snowed some more, I guess just to make the drive over to visit my friend Patti a little more interesting.

So it's nice to see my folks, and although there are only the four of us, there is still plenty of food. I've especially missed my mommy's apple pie, which I think I will have for my supper. :)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Curiosity Singed the Eyebrow

Since I've had some requests for more kitty pictures, here they are:

Little Spammy isn't as little as he used to be. But as you can see, he likes to come visit me while I'm using the computer. He's much better about hanging out during computer-time than Musubi. He'll walk around and rub his face on my nose and then curl up and snuggle against my forearm, but won't get too much in the way of my typing. He's also good about not stepping on the keyboard too much.

Musubi also likes to visit during computer-time:

If she looks a little surprised in this picture, it's because she was busy taking a bath and I had to make kissy noises to get her to look at me for the photo. If you look carefully (click on the picture for an enlargement), you might notice that the whiskers above one of her eyes are shorter than the others. We think this is because she was being naughty a few days ago, and hopped up on the dining room table while we weren't looking. She was probably sniffing the candle we had lit, burning of the top of her eyebrow in the process. Silly kitty. That experience apparently hasn't got her to stop hopping up on the table either. Tsk-tsk-tsk.

Adventure Dance

Last night, instead of going to the dance we normally would have gone to because it is nearby, Russ and I took a drive down to Princeton, about 50 miles away, to check out the Jersey Jumpers monthly swing dance at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

I'm really glad we went, even though it took four or five times as long to get to it than the other dance. The dance hall is huge, and the floor recently resurfaced. There was a really nice mix of age groups, and everyone I met was very friendly. It's been a long time since I've been asked to dance so many times - usually I find I have to do the asking, so that was an added bonus. Plus more people at this dance know how to Lindy, and the music selection has a lot more early jazz and a lot less jump blues.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Have a Seat!

It's been nearly three months since we move into our home. During that whole time our living room furniture consisted of a couple of fold-up camping chairs, which we bought on our closing day, and a couple of sling-back chairs that arrived later along with the rest of our goods from Hawaii. Ohyeah, and then about a month ago, my folks brought down from Massachusetts the Boston rocker that belonged to my grandpa.

Today that's all changed. After two and a half months of waiting, combined with less than stellar customer service from Macy's Route 22 Furniture Gallery, our sofa, loveseat and recliner finally arrived! How nice it is to have something comfortable to flop down on and have a nap when you get home from a long day. Plus guests have someplace comfortable to sit. Yippee!

Now we just need to fill up that space in the middle with a coffee table. And an area rug would be good, too.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Evil Goodness

My friend, Rebecca, loves to cook with her crockpot. She'll cook anything in it, including cakes, which come out quite yummy and moist. She also cooks other kinds of desserts that she likes to call "Wholesome Goodness" because, well, they started off as brownies, but they were just too healthy to be called brownies. She puts all kinds of things in them like bran, fruits, yogurt, and, well, you get the idea. I think of them as poseur brownies.

Anyway, I was just baking a bunch of cookies, and was thinking about Rebecca because her birthday is coming up soon, so she will be the recipient of some of this batch. Unlike Rebecca, I don't make poseur dessert items. In fact I go out of my way to make them even worse (and hopefully yummier) for you than recipes call for (hence the name "Evil Goodness"). The following recipe is adapted from the "Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies" recipe found on the back of the Quaker Oats box. No offense to the raisin industry, but raisins have no buisness being in cookies. Or any other kind of fruit.

Evil Goodness

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
cocoa powder (I dunno how much, enough so the batter looks dark and yummy!)
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups oats
a whole bunch of chocolate chips

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars until creamy.
  • Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
  • Add combined flour, baking soda, cocoa, salt; mix well.
  • Taste batter to make sure you put enough cocoa in! (Ok, fine, if you are worried about salmonella poisoning, don't taste the batter.)
  • Stir in oats.
  • Stir in chocolate chips. Once you think you have enough chocolate chips in the batter, add some more.
  • Put blobs of batter on a cookie sheet. Make the blobs as big as you want. I like to make little blobs, because then that means more cookies, but you might like bigger blobs.
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes; remove from oven and cool cookies on a wire cooling rack.
Never mind what the nutritional information is for these cookies. If you're that worried about it, don't make them!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Allamuchy State Park (Hike #2)

Today I met up with many of the same folks as last week for another hike - this one through Allamuchy State Park. We had another great day, although this time it was a bit cooler (didn't actually break a sweat this time around). We hiked a little more than half of what we did last week, just under seven miles according to our fearless leader's GPS. Oh, and the Dave-count this week was only four.

It's been fun to hang out with new people, though I think I need to teach them a few things - like go out for burgers after the hike is over! Also, our fearless leader is planning a pau hana for the hiking folks a couple of Tuesdays from now... except he doesn't know to call it "pau hana" instead of happy hour. ;)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

1st New Jersey Hike

Yesterday I met up with a whole bunch of people I don't know for my very first hike in New Jersey. We went to a place called Ringwood State Park, which is somewhere along the NJ/NY border, maybe about 40-45 minutes drive from our house. The weather was beautiful, very much on the warm side for this time of year, but considerably cooler than what I've hiked in for the last several years. We were expecting to hike about eight miles. However, the end of the hike, our fearless leader, Jason, said it was probably more like ten or eleven.

(And in case Daniel reads this, the "Dave-count" was probably about six.)

So to say the least, it was a good workout. Just enough uphill to make me work up a pretty good sweat. Soon after starting out, it was apparent to me how out of shape I am, as I found it very difficult to keep pace and hold a conversation at the same time.

Oh yeah, and everyone thought I was weird because I brought spam musubi to eat (no, not the cats!) for lunch. And it was hard to get anyone to make shaka signs for photos. Silly east coast people. ;)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

East Meets West Again

Today, for lunch, I decided to put furikake on my Annie's Shells and Cheese. It was yummy! :)