Holiday Crap, California Edition


Midnight ramblings, borrowed laptop, legitimate wi-fi. Progress!

Yeah, I know. Phoning it in- and I hate seeing the quality of my posts and writing suffer- and yet, the alternative (not documenting my life or what’s going on) seems like an abdication. Born a blogger, eh? Don’t expect a Pulitzer this month…

Sorry no pictures yet- I HAVE taken them, but I can’t figure out how to get them from my camera into my mom’s computer. Ah, the perils of being tech-lame. Mo is rolling her eyes.

Grandma took the boys bowling today, and it would appear Rock-n-Bowl is the hot new thing. Grandma thinks Jeffrey might have a future in bowling, Beanie bounced his ball a couple of time and they all came home with little bowling Santa ornaments for the tree.

We had a chaotic but fun dinner at my adoptive Aunt’s house tonight. It was six boys seven and under, and Abby. She wore her new Christmas dress from Grandma and even had silver bows tied to her piggy tails, while she schooled those boys on how to stomp around and have a grand old time.


My cousin Naun made the most awesome hot spinach salad, with prosciutto, Gorgonzola, onions and portobello boomers.  Make a dressing of hot balsamic vinegar, honey and olive oil. Oh yeah… I pretty much skipped the lasagna and pigged out on salad and garlic pugliese. Oh, how I love California.

The kids had hot dogs and ketchup.

pedicure1Monday I get to hide from the kids and meet up with Bek, from Ignore the Crazy. I’ve known Bek for years, but we haven’t had the chance to hang out since I crashed my moms car two summers ago. We’re going out to dinner, sans kiddos, and getting mannis and pedis. Hate me if you must. I can take it.

I keep hearing rumors we have almost 30″ of snow at home. I wonder when we’ll be able to even get home, if this keeps up. I did get a call from my mother in law, who went to take our mail in, that someone had come over and shovelled our entire driveway, walk, and porch. I don’t even know who to thank. That seems to be a refrain in my life these days- kind people doing things, and not knowing for whom to be grateful.

I got to hang out with my brother at his work today. As I watched him tip back on his chair while we talked, I was overwhelmed by what a good man he has become. We named Beanie after him, and if my son grows up to be like uncle Eric, I’ll slap my hands together and call it a job well done.

I’m hoping I get to see my other brother too. His life path is a little more colorful right now, but I still miss seeing him. You out there, man? Call your sister!

My goal for tomorrow is to get the pictures into the computer. Somehow. I know it must be possible… right?

marenhenswns_468x333I miss Crazy Chicken Annie. One of the dangers of having a relative named Crazy Chicken Anything is that sometimes, things don’t go the way you want them to go. And sometimes, you  hope showing up on a doorstep with some gingerbread and a ball of organic yarn is enough of a peace offering. One can hope.

Cousin Heather just got back from a whirlwind trip, by herself, all over southeast Asia. Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos… she’s my hero.

As much as I love Fakey Fakerson waiting for me at home, I adore that one of my mom’s tress is the Real Deal. The smell… The smell? She is divine.

Merry Christmas, and Happy first night of Hanukkah, too, for anyone out there who celebrates that tradition. I have a menorah and a kosher pack of beeswax candles I’ve been storing. I want so badly to use them and do Hanukkah, but I feel like such a farce. It’s not my tradition to co-opt, just because I think it’s cool. And so they sit, in Phoebe the Buffet, and there they stay.

Is anyone else out there creeped out by the old Frosty the Snowman cartoon?

We Made It!

Oh, man, I really, really wish I could have live-blogged the trip down here!~ We’ve arrived, we’re at my parents, and all is well. We left home at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, because we heard a huge storm was blowing into the Pacific Northwest. Had we followed our original plan, we would probably still be driving. As it was, we only had icy roads, not falling snow.  Driving at night in falling snow is a level of hell.

The kids did great, and slept a good part of the way. It took 18 hours, and I drove the overnight leg. When we got to grandma and grandpa’s, we handed off the kids and collapsed. Being up for 24+ hours straight does not make for happy parents. So we’re here. It’s awesome- and, coolest thing ever (or at least of the week): My mom has given her permission to post pictures of her house! So check back in- I just have to find my camera now…

Soft White Underbelly

Sometimes, when I’m very still, I can see my heartbeat. It happened this morning, on the potty. Doesn’t that figure? The only time I get to sit still these days is when I’m peeing. It’s the silver lining, I suppose.

I’m really struggling with feeling wiped-out. I have so very much to do, and not enough hours in the day to do it all. My kids keep asking why there are no presents under the tree, and my pat answer is to wait until we get to grandma’s next week; yet, I swallow hard and gloss over the fact that there really are no presents under our tree.

The kids have been watching me make things all week. I have gifts done for my mom, my sister-in-law, my nephew, Mo, and two other friends. I still have to make things for about six other people, and I have three days to do it. Plus another friend is moving to Japan tomorrow, and I really want to see her, and have something for her- I don’t yet.

Remember how both my sewing machines broke at the same time? Well, my dentist’s wife came by the other day (she’s a quilter too) and brought me her machine, and told me to take mine in to be repaired and she and Mr. Dentist would pick up the bill. I want to be prideful and not take their help, but the truth is, I desperately need my sewing machines. Pride is such a bitter dish. But what an awesome dentist, eh? That’s some service.

I’ve been invited to several holiday luncheons, but I just can’t carve out the space. Plus, I’m cooking lunch for 20 on Wednesday at the Bishop’s Storehouse. I adore being at the BSH. I’m happy to go cook. I’m a little stressed because we’re leaving at o’dark-thirty that night/morning, and I have all that to contend with, but I know I love serving anyway.

We had our first real snow last night, and it’s really cold today. By real snow, I mean we got about an inch. I know. That hardly counts. It’s not even enough to play in. But that’s alright- you all know how I feel about playing in the snow? It hasn’t changed. I just would like the real snow to hold out until we drive over the mountains, if that wouldn’t be too much to ask…

I’m very excited about having Christmas at my mom’s. We haven’t been there for Christmas since Bean was a tiny newborn, and Jeffrey was two. Five years? Yeah, that’s a long time.

So I’m not sending out cards, I’m not doing any baking, I’m not shopping or buying any presents, I haven’t decorated besides the tree and the creche- it hardly feels like the Holidays. Hopefully, when I get to mom’s, that will all wash away. Do we ever get too old to want our moms? I’m on the darkish side of my thirties, and I still want my mom, I want her to hug me and tell me it’s all going to be OK. I want to sit in her kitchen with the comforting smells and sounds of home, and feel safe and loved. I want to see her familiar hands making cookies, and wrapping presents and playing with my kids. I want my mom.

A Hideously Narcissistic Look at my Week

Because I know how much my midnight ramblings stir my dear friends, and how stagnant my thoughtful posts seem to languish, I shall post a terribly navel-gazing look at what’s been up at my house since I waxed poetic on Sunday morning.

Abby’s little yellow birdie dress is done, and she loves it- and opting for the avian skirt was the absolute correct choice. It’s good I made this before I pledged the next six months of my life for only home-made… can I buy fabric on the Homemade challenge? Or do I have to just use what I have on hand…?

This is Abby’s next dress, with a vintage 1950’s pattern I got at an Estate Sale for a quarter. That fabric, in that pattern, ought to be adorable.

This bag, in spite the optic trick of foreshortening on what looks like an enormously out-sized hand, is actually quite large. I made it for a woman in my quilt group who likes red. It’s her birthday gift, only she didn’t show for the meeting on her birthday- so now I have to hold onto it until September. That’s what I get for scrambling and sewing ALL day before the meeting…

This is to contribute to a quilt a friend of mine is making. I kind of like it. But I’m partial to quilts where nothing matches- the scrappier the better. This is my taste.

These? These are NOT. These are barter for some dental work- I’m an indentured servant to my dentist’s wife, and this is what she wanted. She gives me the fabric, and I sew. She gets a quilt, we get nice teeth. Believe me, the math on creating (yes, I did) the measurements for the second block and the NINE set-in seams on the first block are equal payment for a few fillings!

This week, of course, as I’m getting ready to leave for a few days, I got a pattern order from a store in Michigan. So, that means, between packing, doing all the laundry, getting the travel stuff ready and generally freaking out, I get to go to the printers, too. Hooray! Oh, those are my 24 copyrighted, published patterns- not sure I’ve ever posted about them before…

My new nephew, who does in fact now have a name, is getting a pair of hand-made wool baby shoes. Just what every California baby needs, eh? But they are going to be SO cute! My first try at these…

Introducing the M’s book club. Sunday after church, Jeffrey was driving me nuts, so I gave his some pieces of wood, a hammer, a box of nails, and told him to go outside and make something. And he did! He came back inside with this little shelf he cobbled together, and declared it a home for all the chapter books he’s working on. Nice job. The books on top are the selection for Bean and Abby.

I’m taking a short little trip to Salt Lake with just Jeffrey. It’s a special treat for both of us, and David is going play Mr Mom for a couple of days while I sashay away for the weekend. Bean gets Daddy time, Jeff gets Mama time, and Abby is too little to care either way. Hooray!

Happy Thanksgiving

As for me and my house, this day we find ourselves thankful for:

The abundant blessings and freedom of being a free people, and all the goodness that enfolds. Our family, a wonderful, odd, yet somehow perfect, mix of characters who all somehow manage to love one another. Faith. Having faith has changed our lives in profound and personal ways I never would have imagined.

In a nutshell, (because I have to go cook now!) those are the things we are thankful for this day of Thanksgiving.

For someone who took the time and grace to say it much better than I, check out this link

Blessings to you and yours this day. 

Family Night

It’s getting better. Really. Well, OK, it’s still mostly a circus, but tonight, Beanie actually managed to stay in his chair (albeit on is head most of the evening) and Jeff sang two songs with two verses. Abs danced to the songs, and they even kinda sorta listened while I read about making promises and being honest.

We did a puzzle for activity, and devolved into a big fight, but hey, we’re doing about a million times better than we were a year or two ago.

I can really see why this is important. Even though we spend just about every night together, the kids really love family night– I don’t make special treats very often, and we just hang out together in the living room- but there’s something about it they key in on, and the really like it. Definitely a good thing.

Overheard At The M’s

I kid you not, this conversation just took place in my living room.

Jeffrey: “Mom, can I marry Abby when I grow up?”

Me: “Nope. You can’t marry your sister. Not anywhere. Sorry. You have to find another girl and fall in love”

Jeffrey: “Hmmm. I think I pick Bella. I love her. She’s pretty. Or maybe Emma, in class at church.”

Me: “Well, you should probably wait until you’re a little older to make that decision, and you don’t just get to pick- you have to get the girl to agree to your proposal.”

Jeffrey: “Oh dang, that means I have to be handsome.”

Me, hiding laughter: “Weeeeellll….handsome comes mostly from the inside, Babe. If you’re a good person with a good heart and good character, it makes you handsome. The outside is only a tiny part.”

Jeffrey: “Oh. I thought it was just about hair gel.”

Recipe: MD Picnic Potato Salad

This one I can’t take credit for; it’s my mom’s, and it’s seriously the best. Usually I won’t touch potato salad- euwsch! It’s a texture thing, I think. But this one is divine- well, it is if you like dill and eggs… otherwise, you may hate it. Like all family recipes, it doesn’t really rely on exact-ness, so tailor to your own tastes.


  • 15 medium russets, boiled in their skin, until tender.
  • 8 eggs, hardboiled and chopped.
  • 1 cup, or so, of mayonaise. We like Best Foods (Helman’s, on the wrong side of the mountains)
  • 2 good blops of stoneground mustard (3-4 Tbsp, I guess)
  • 5-6 dill pickles, diced
  • 2 good splashes of dill pickle juice from the jar (I know it sounds gross, but it’s really the secret ingredient here)
  • 1 tsp onion powder (grind up your cannery onions in your spice grinder!)
  • salt and course pepper to taste.

Put the potatoes and eggs on to boil. While they’re cooking, in the bottom of a large bowl, combine the mayonaise, mustard, pickle dices and juice, and spices. Combine into a uniform dressing, with the consistency of, say, thick cream. That’s how you know you’ve added enough pickle juice.

When potatoes are fork tender, remove from water and cool enough to handle. Or if you’re like me, you won’t wait, so peel them with your oven mitts on and get on with the show. Chop the potatoes into nice size chunks, and dice the boiled eggs.

Top the dressing with the chopped potatoes and eggs, and carefully fold all together.  That’s it. Tah-da! I love it hot and fresh, but it’s even better the next day, chilled and ready for your picnic.