"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of. but do it in private
and wash your hands afterwards." --Robert Heinlein.

We've moved!

For the next two years (Summer 2014-Summer 2016) I'll be blogging our family's adventures in China at www.chinesemileposts.wordpress.com

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Reading Goals

I did it!  This has been my best year so far for number of books and number of pages read.  100 books.  32,379 pages.  Both numbers far surpass any other year total.  I didn't reach this goal.  And I probably read 85% young adult books, but I should probably just accept that that's how my reading list looks every year.  :)

You can see all the books I read this year here: http://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/26010

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Reading Goal

Goodreads asked people to set reading goals for 2011.  I decided on 75 books, a number I'd never reached but to which I had come fairly close. I far surpassed that goal, as well as my individual goal of pages read (I'm over 30,000 pages which is about 7,000 pages more than I've ever managed in a year before).  And I'm at 97 books.  97!  I should go for 100, right?  The kids and I are finishing up Peter and Starcatchers with only about 26 pages to go.  That's 98.  Then I'll read them this quick chapter book (we've read the other two in the series in the past).  99. Here's my problem, book 100.  I'm reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog and it's killing me.  K-I-L-L-I-N-G M-E.  The premise is nice, but I seriously feel like this book is WAY above my reading level.  I keep wishing I was reading it on the Kindle where it's easy to look up the definitions of words I don't understand.  Plus, the book is set in France and was translated from French so there are a lot of French words.  I took Spanish in high school and college.  Add that the two main characters are supposedly brilliant thinkers and I'm lost.  I get the plot, and so far that's pretty boring.  But I have to finish!  One hundred books is in my sight...

Saturday, December 24, 2011


We open family presents on Christmas Eve.  All week month the kids have been debating back and forth which present they will open first.  Princess Sparkley bargains with Buddy, "I'll open your present first if you open mine first."  Etc.  In the middle of all of this, the 3 year old simplifies it for us all, "I'm opening all of my presents first." 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Menu before Christmas menu

I'm trying out some recipes I found on Pinterest this week:

Tuesday: South of the Border Sandwiches

Wednesday: Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

Thursday: Mexican Chicken Casserole

Love the idea...

I love the idea of this beautiful layered cake from Bakingdom.com, but I don't have the patience or talent to pull off something this beautiful and ... awesome.  Very cool though.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmasy Menus

     My family started the Christmas tradition of eating tamales on Christmas Eve several years ago.  Something to do with living in southern California and the heavy Hispanic influence there.  I think my mom started considering it sometime when I was in high school when she noticed that our favorite local Mexican food restaurant started taking tamale orders in November.  She signed up.  Then later, my brother-in-law decided he'd learn to make tamales and has taken over the tradition ever since.  Jed and I sort of broke free from this tradition when we were living in California, as well as my entire family, and his parents.  We decided to adopt the tradition of eating out at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Eve so that our little family had family time rather than always having to be at someone else's house doing something else for the holidays.  We still do that today, but I love tamales.  So tamales have become our Christmas Eve Eve meal.
     I like the idea of making my own tamales, but that scares me a little.  And I like the idea of tracking down some awesome Mexican restaurant in town that would sell me tamales, but I haven't done that either.  Usually I just buy frozen tamales and fancy them up with chili, cheese, sour cream and salsa. 

     On Christmas Eve, like I said, we go out for Chinese food.  This year I've been toying around with the idea of making our own Chinese food.  I'm still undecided.  But I've come up with an extensive menu for if I do stay home (and if I had an army to feed).  The problem is that going out, you are able to order four or five main dishes and I'm not sure that's something I'd be capable of pulling off at home on my own.  Especially when there are only five of us to eat it all.

    Here's my idea for a menu to feed a crowd homemade Chinese food:
Crab Rangoon dip
Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken
Orange Chicken (or this recipe that I've tried before)
Pioneer Woman's Spring Rolls (but chicken, not turkey)
PF Chang's Mongolian Beef
Fried Rice (minus the chicken)
Egg Rolls (I'd probably just buy them frozen, but maybe try the linked to recipe...)

But that all seems like a ton of work... maybe we should just go out.  :)  Besides, there are only five of us, the above menu would feed us for half a week!

And onto Christmas day's menu:
Christmas Breakfast: regular breakfast, followed by one hour of 9AM church.

Christmas Brunch/Lunch: after church we'll opening presents, then we'll have our real breakfast at lunchtime.
Scrambled eggs
maybe Hash Browns

Christmas Dinner:
Cheese Potato Casserole (aka Funeral Potatoes)
Magleby's rolls
Sweet Potato Casserole (my recipe has different proportions, but is very similar to this one)
Cornbread Stuffing (but my recipe calls for sour cream rather than plain yogurt)
Sparkling Apple Cider or Sparkling Grape Juice
Green Beans (or maybe just steamed green beans or steamed broccoli)

Still kind of a lot of food for five of us... but then there will be lots of leftovers too!

Christmas Dessert:undecided... I'll let you know.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"I'm Bored."

Today was one of those days.  Our school days have slowed down a bit getting ready for Christmas break, so once school is out of the way for the day, Princess Sparkley pesters me every five minutes with declarations of boredom and questions of what can she do.  I have very clear memories of doing the same thing to my mom when I was little.  I even realized how annoying I was when I did it, I just couldn't think of a thing to do.  And half the time I didn't even want to do what she suggested.  Today, after her third declaration of boredom where my response was for her to unload the dishwasher (her daily chore) she finally did it.  I even let her use glitter glue and scrapbook today, which are usually right up there with painting and Play-doh in the likelyhood that I'll allow it to happen.  I desperately need to make one of these.  An "I'm Bored Jar."  Maybe one for me as well because I was a little bored today too.

Monday, December 12, 2011


I haven't posted a menu in awhile and lately, we've been all about menus... so here's what's on for this week:

Monday: Pasta Alfredo
     And I'm cheating and using a jar of alfredo sauce over radiatore noodles and freshly shredded Parmesan and going vegetarian with just broccoli.  This is Princess Sparkley's FAVORITE meal!
  Dessert: Grinch Cookies (I made these last week following the recipe, today I'm going to try a regular cookie recipe (not the sugar cookie mix in this recipe) and mint it up.

Tuesday: Ham and Cheese Spiral

Wednesday: Chicken and Rice Stir-fry
   This is one of my dad's go to meals.  I'm going to assume it's from a healthy cookbook, because that's how he is, but I'm not sure.  We ate it a lot growing up.

Thursday: Hawaiian Chicken

Friday: Nachos (or bean burrito filling)

Saturday: Black Bean Chili Over Rice
     A roommate in college gave me this recipe and for some reason, I really really like it.  Maybe because it makes me feel like I'm eating sort of healthy. 

Sunday: Chicken and Tortilla Chowder

Monday: Best Grilled Cheese and tomato soup (minus the tortellini so we can dip our sandwiches in it)
  Dessert: Jed is in charge of our Family Home Evening treat, so probably these.

Thursday, December 08, 2011


I realized this morning that I never posted (on this blog) a picture of this Pinterest project my friend and I did so we had a spot to hang our stockings.

I love how ours turned out.  Thanks, Emma!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Almost Famous

The other day I did a Google search for "Ruby Redfort book" since Princess Sparkley has been waiting (sometimes patiently, sometimes impatiently) for its release for over a year now.  Ruby Redfort is the series that Clarice Bean reads in Lauren Child's (from Charlie and Lola fame) Clarice Bean books.  And now, Child has FINALLY written the first book in the new Ruby Redfort series.  But it doesn't come out in the US until March.  Still, PS is thrilled that at some point it will be available to her.  And I was a little excited that when you search "Ruby Redfort book," it brings up five images and numbers three and four are from my blog.  Number four is even handmade by yours truly!  It's like I'm famous!  Sort of. 

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