blk: (sandwich)
Finally, Tuesday. My Thanksgiving week+ is done. 4 loads of laundry later, the house is sooooooo quiet; finally empty but for me for the first time in 11 days. It's lovely.

My favorite part of hosting the family is that I get to cook all kinds of foods that I want to make, everything gets eaten with compliments (and without complaints), and the kitchen cleanup happens without me needing to nag.

For future reference here's approximately the food fixed that I can remember:

Mon: roast chicken, cole slaw, roasted potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, bread
Tue: venison stew, kale salad, bread
Wed: kale chips, roasted cauliflower, bread (x3, to prep for making stuffing)
Thu: baked ham, brussels sprouts, corn, crockpot stuffing, green beans + bacon, mashed sweet potatoes, twice baked garlic potatoes, pumpkin pie (x2) and apple pie (x1) (made by mom), cranberry sauce (made by justin), biscuits (made by david)
Sat: okonomiyaki by katie, quiches (using thu leftovers as fillings)
Sun: tacos
Mon: cuban pork, black beans, yellow rice, hominy, bread

Other: 3 qts soup frozen pre visit, pancakes sun morning by david, a second batch of deviled eggs by mom, egg nog and nutmeg ice creams by katie, and chinese tea eggs by katie, which I knew I loved but didn't know the name for before she brought them, and now I'm attempting to make my own by using the leftover soaking liquid.

Leftovers that will be lunch or dinner this week: half a cauliflower, a little bit of ham, a few quarts of ham broth, a bag of brussels sprouts, a quart of stuffing, a tiny bit of cranberry sauce, a few deviled eggs, pork, rice, hominy, and bread.
blk: (sandwich)
Among the things I never thought I would willingly spend huge amounts of time and energy on, when I was younger: children and food. I'm not a super foodie. I'm not a scientist or an artist in the kitchen. I am usually perfectly happy letting other people create food for me to eat. But somewhere along the line, cooking became something of a hobby and I'm willing to venture that having kids and being a part-time single parent had a lot to do with that.

But anyways, what I'm saying is that I'm realizing that I've managed to get decently good at creating reasonably tasty dinners on demand, and connecting that with the result of nourishing and caring for others means I occasionally enjoy doing so. So being a host for Thanksgiving dinner for family and a few orphan friends is more of a fun things for me to look forward for me. Of course, there are plenty of other stressful parts, but the food itself was nice.

For the food of the actual day: there was a ham, because after years of making turkey, all the members of my family realized that we liked ham much better than turkey, and there hasn't been another turkey in our holidays since. There was a duck, since the Boy still wanted a bird, but I refused turkey, and chicken is boring, and I wasn't up to anything more exotic. It was my first time cooking duck and I think it could have been better but it wasn't awful. I tried out a new crockpot stuffing recipe, because of requests for stuffing (but no bird), that came out fabulously and I may attempt to repeat in the future. The [ profile] jboys made pies, which they are getting quite good at, with moderate supervision from my mom. [ profile] xuth made duck fat potatoes from the aforementioned bird drippings, of which there were not nearly enough. A few other sides to round it off, a small amount of oven juggling, and it was a great day and dinner. Leftover ingredients (for the week) include rendered duck and ham fat (I don't bother keeping chicken fat), duck/chicken/ham broth (or jelly, really), and duck/chicken/ham meat. Everything else pretty much got finished off within a couple days.

The rest of the week included managing dinners to feed 7, which it turns out really isn't that much more work than dinner for 5, and is infinitely more rewarding when the guests are adults who are vocal about how much they enjoy the food and willingly help clean up afterwards. Much wine was consumed, a couple movies watched, gossip caught up on, and all the necessary homework done.

It also let me know that I'm really horrible at actually doing this "relaxing" thing when I'm at home (and particularly when I have guests/kids around), and although it was relatively a very nice non-stressful time, I really didn't feel refreshed or do anything particularly useful. So of course on Sunday, after the guests had gone and the household chores were mostly managed, I went back to the kitchen and turned some of the leftovers into a big pot of yummy soup. Tomorrow I have plans to do similar. It's meditative and satisfying, which I didn't expect from me, but I'm not going to question it.
blk: (running)

pic via alanv

This year's Great Race challenges came about in a few different stages. The first one was last spring, when yet another family dinner conversation went the way of how I wanted the boys to get more exercise. So I said that I was signing them up for the Great Race 5k in the fall, which gave them about 4 months to train up to it. I planned to run with them for encouragement. But then I wanted to do more for myself, so I signed up for the 10k race in addition. 15k was a new daily record for me! So I had something to train for.

Then about a month ago at the Pretty Good Race, [ profile] bubblingbeebles came up to me and proposed running a three-legged race. I agreed on the condition that we could make it work in practice runs. So after a series of practice runs and various attempts to tie our ankles without causing too much discomfort we figured it was possible.

So today was race day! All of the boys ran a fantastic 5k, finishing in 34-37 minutes. And after complaining all summer about it, both [ profile] jboys spoke sentences this evening that started with the words "next year I want to run...." Bwahaha, I've infected them!

After the 5k I met up with my other race half, braided his hair to match mine, tied our legs together, and we were off. We got a lot of encouragement and amazement on the course from other runners, which was incredibly goofy and fun. Practice paid off and we didn't fall down or hurt ourselves. My earlier 5k caught up with me and by about mile 5 of the 10k I was running off of mostly desperation and inertia and not wanting to let my partner down, but we successfully managed to finish running, in 1:08:21, which is just fine.

Now my knees and toes are sore from normal running, and my right thigh feels pretty painfully stretched from the leg tie, but nothing is broken and I think it was overall a pretty successful morning, and hopefully there exist some interesting pictures somewhere.

The afternoon [ profile] xuth and I went to the Pittsburgh RenFaire for a few hours, which was cold and rainy until it turned nice and sunny, and I ate an entire turkey leg because I deserved it. Yum.
blk: (snowball)
As nice as holidays are in general? They're even better when I have a job and it means time off work instead of just another regular day. This four day weekend thing has been FANTASTIC.

We had a lovely and relaxing Turkey Day celebration this year. Just my mom was visiting, so it was only five of us. We all put in a little bit of time cooking a dish or few that we particularly wanted to have, so that there was a good amount of food, that contained dishes everybody was happy with (e.g., no turkey), and that didn't require too much work from any one person, so we all got to relax, too. And we have leftovers that will last us for the next year.

Several people i know are doing gratitude projects. It's a great thing to recognize your blessings, I believe. So here's to a few that I'm thinking about:

I'm thankful for family. What other word do we have for a person, whether blood related or not, who knows, installs, or finds EVERY SINGLE ONE of your buttons, pushes them until they wear out, drives you up the wall regularly in frustration, and yet is still someone who you want to spend time around? I have kids who are exasperating and hilarious and challenging and wonderful, and I'm eager for them to grow up so I can see what sort of awesome people they turn out to be. I have parents who must have done something right when they raised me, who I can still look up to and respect, and who I've been watching give of themselves over and above the call of duty to take care of their own family members. And I have a partner who I am so amazingly happy to have in my life, who meshes in so well with me, and who helps me make this house into a home.

I'm also thankful for an awesome and flexible house and job. This week I made quite a bit of use of the job flexibility, to run errands, catch up on appointments, and spend more time in the awesome house. We've also lately been observing large amounts of the house flexibility, in terms of a cracked and leaking front porch, a screen door falling off, a dishwasher and oven needing replacement parts, and most recently, a possible roof leak. Fortunately, I have this awesome job which means none of these things need to be more than annoyances.

November was a pretty darn busy month. It's looking like December will slow down a little.
blk: (tree)
It's been an up and down sort of week.

Steady improvement on my knee )

There's been a lot of summer )

I am around a lot of people )

The boys all started school )

I'm still looking for a job )

On the bright side of things...

Health-wise, my knee IS getting better, slowly but surely. I have almost all ROM back, just need more strength and time for the deep bruising to heal. Just need to be patient and keep working (argh). I've gotten in some good book-reading, too! Weather-wise, the nights this week have been mostly getting down low enough for me to sleep, and the rain today helped immensely. Heck, just a couple hours ago, the outside temperature dropped about 20 degrees from the lovely storm coming through! I'm really looking forward to this weekend's cool forecasted weather.

People-wise, I have a whole lot of relaxing planned for this weekend, and will enjoy the parties as much as I can (and leave when I want to, without feeling bad), and then come Tuesday, we get an empty, quiet house. And I have a lovely partner who is just fine with me telling him I need space, and a fantastic co-parent who is willing to take on all three boys for an extra evening for me. School-wise, the boys all seem to have survived their first week just fine, were happy to see their friends, and I hope school will be overall a good experience for all of us this year. And job-wise, I've had friends giving me helpful leads on recruiters and companies; I'm finding plenty of postings to apply to, and I'm not in any sort of desperate situation.

So overall, I declare that things are good for me. How are you?
blk: (no-el)
My vacation started early morning, three Sundays ago, right after a bunch of snow came through Pittsburgh. A tired and sick [ profile] severinpgh helped a tired and sick me escape to the airport, and onto a plane that miraculously left mostly on time, without mishap. I was offered a nice window seat... sort of, which I kept because it came with a row of three empty seats on an otherwise mostly full flight. Annoyingly, heavy congestion (+ decongestant!) + airplane altitudes = completely stuffed up head for the next full day. Fortunately, I didn't have much on my agenda except relaxing and recovering for the next few days.

relaxing in Tampa, theatre ninjas, and Myakka state park )

the trip up north, Boston, New Years, and back home again )

Back home, I slept soundly, back home in my own bed, with my wonderful kitty snuggling me all night long next to me, buried under blankets with me. I'm slowly catching up on various stuff and things, although running behind on other things, such as prepping for Arisia next week. Aiee!
blk: (fall)
And fall it is now, even though this week has been full of mostly Pittsburgh summer weather. I challenge myself to take time to take stock, give thanks, and find balance.

My joys this summer have been full of the wonders of rediscovering various ways of how to enjoy both myself and other people. I've gardened and cooked. I've run and climbed. I've visited and had visitors. I sadly got no apples this year, but plenty of tomatoes instead. I have the internet in my pocket and I'm not afraid to use it. I've done a lot of awesome things, and I'm not at all done yet.

The boys are back in school, and I'm happy with the schedule that it gives us. I'm working early hours and taking the bus to and from campus, which I'm finding I like a lot. This may mean that even in the dark of winter I'll still be outside for a short amount of daylight. [ profile] mj2q is off on business, so life has been on the all parenting all the time channel lately. I'm rather quietly proud of myself that I've managed over a week so far, with attempting to stay on top of school, soccer, teacher conferences, soccer, homework, and soccer, and still managing to occasionally cook dinner, throw parties, see friends, and not kill anybody.

I'm very aware of the diminishing sunlight from the summer. The days are at a precarious balance now - I still wake up with the morning sun, but it is only dim light these days. The sun goes down about as we are starting to settle in for the evening, but every day cuts off more minutes that should be used playing outside. Every summer I spend these last six months recharging my internal solar powered batteries, and hope that I have stored enough to last me through the next six, when I will wake up in darkness and fight against the cold.

And so as usual, I watch the sunset with a feeling of urgency, of needing to race the days to get in everything I want, see everybody I want to see, and still maintain myself in the way that I need. And as usual in this month, I feel I have not enough time, but I know that as cycles around the sun go, this is just another, and things will slow in time, at which point I will probably ache for them to start moving again.
blk: (computer)
Why yes, I do have a geeky family.
blk: (sandwich)
This was a holiday week(s) full of family and food, which made it tons of fun.

I got to share Christmas with my family and the boys for the first time in I can't remember how many years. We stayed in Pittsburgh. My parents drove up from Florida for a week and a half, and [ profile] katybeth and [ profile] eub flew out, somewhat delayed, from Seattle for a week. The boys and I decorated trees (inside and out), hung stockings, made cookies, and did lots of those delightful generic christmassy things.

My parents arrived with the first best present evar - several dozen of the Best Grapefruit in the World, which you should all know is grapefruit from the trees in their backyard, grapefruit I grew up eating and which has spoiled me for every other grapefruit, grapefruit which is tart and sweet and seedy (which perhaps I get my disposition from). A few thrift store searches later, and I was able to acquire some grapefruit knives, which were immediately put to good use.

snoopy, our hero, saluted the host )
blk: (house)
Well, I'm returning from the dead, or rather from a rather textbook upper respiratory infection. I spent the last week going through all the symptoms listed here, one at a time. It's day 7, and I can feel a marked improvement, so I have high hopes I'll continue to progress as expected and be "well" in a few days.

Meanwhile, I can catch up on a few things I was going to post about.

My younger son turned 7, and had a Star Wars themed party, where they made their own lightsabers )

[ profile] katybeth was visiting for the weekend, and when the day after the party dawned warm and sunny, we took wheels out to the trails )

Then after that, this virus brutally attacked me, and brought me to my knees. But after a day of sleeping, I found that if I coked up on dayquil, I felt well enough to Do Something, albeit slowly, so I worked in my yard )
blk: (elfcycle)
Saturday, the [ profile] jboys participated in an open chess tournament by the UPitt chess club. The participants entered in 4-person teams, and [ profile] qiika had invited us to join her J and a friend. Turnout was quite low, and the Hobbits earned 2nd place (out of three), mostly due to the fact that they had four team members, while the other teams only had three.

However, the point of the day which earned the post on this journal is that since overall turnout was low, just before the first round, Kelli suggested that we grab two other chess players and enter our own team.

Read more... )
blk: (bike)
Today in links:

The [ profile] jboys and I set out late morning with our new bikes, starting out at the Greenfield end of the Eliza Furnace Trail, crossing the Smithfield Street Bridge at downtown over to Station Square. From there we rode the Station Square section of the River Trail, connecting to the South Side Trail, and over the last unpaved section into the South Side next to the Hot Metal Bridge.

At that point we docked out bikes and wandered around the new REI for a while, eventually spending far too much money on bike toysuseful accessories. Hopped back on the bikes to look for a decent pizza place, eventually hitting success with Vesuvio's on Carson (huge slices AND yummy). Angled back towards the Trail, hit it at 9th, then back up to Station Square, where we had gawked at the Segway tour going by, and had ice cream while watching (me) and getting soaked by (boys) the fountain.

More biking, this time upriver to the end of the Station Square trail, then turned around to go home. Crossed back over the Smithfield bridge, quacked at the Ducky Tour we passed, and back along the trail to our car.

miles driven: about 5
miles biked: about 15 (total for the weekend: about 27)
hours out: about 7
sunburned people: 1 (me, oops)
smiling kids: 2

Tomorrow: RenFest.
blk: (icicles)

The kids had two snow days in a row, so I did my best to take advantage of the free time while still getting work done at home. This meant taking a break in late afternoon to go out and play in it. Happily, we have a playground within walking distance, as there was no way I was driving anywhere.

For the non-Pittsburghians reading, we had a day of wet snow, followed by some sleet and rain overnight, then fresh snow the next day. The result was about 4" of icy snow, melting into almost 0.5" of solid ice, with a couple more inches of fluff on top, as demonstrated by the picture here, which I carefully dug out from the Wightman field. The bottom layer was much thicker, but not stable enough to pick up. Total depth was around 6-8".

snooooooooow )
blk: (summer)
Now that the heat wave over the northeast has mostly passed, I can talk about my love for summer without getting beaten up. Yes, I am a hot weather person. For those who don't know yet, I hail from the exotic, tropical country of Floridia (more commonly known as the state of Florida). More than just a 'gator-infested swamp with a mouse stuck in the middle, it's also home to mosquito hoards that will eat you alive in 2.6 seconds and cockroaches the size of small rats, as well as more pleasant things, like beaches with toasty warm waters and the occasional hurricane.

It is also, in case you hadn't guessed, where I am currently visiting and posting from.

cut for the heat )
blk: (me_baby)
One of the kid imagination games I've seen across generations is one where the participants are not allowed to touch the floor or ground, and must traverse around the area on objects (frequently furniture) above it. I played this frequently as a child, and I watch my kids play it today.

When I learned the game, and also the way my kids do it, the ground was always "hot lava." If you stepped on it, you'd obviously suffer greatly, as hot lava is not ideal for stepping in. However, I never taught this game to my kids. So I'm curious: is this really a universal kid game? Do you remember playing this? Is the ground always hot lava, or did you play with something different? Any other interesting variations?


blk: (Default)

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