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Archive for the month “August, 2012”

ABCs

I used to be on such a good posting schedule, and now, since I still haven’t figured out my photo software, I have lost track of what days I was posting. Oh well, I suppose it is more organic this way.

In one of my previous posts I discussed my love of reading and the library. My son and I go to the library at least once a week if not more. This last time we were there we picked out a few new books for him to check out, one of which was an ABC book. Most of them he hasn’t been interested in, but this one was all about food. He loves it, but it makes him hungry. When he was a few months old I started an ABC book for him using fruits and vegetables. Since we have to return the book soon, I have been trying to finish the one I started. I think I will see what it will cost me to have it printed and bound at Kinko’s (now FedEx), but I’m kinda leaning towards Shutterfly or possibly Costco. We’ll see.

Here’s a sample of what I’ve put together.  The formatting still needs some work as well as some of the color schemes, but you get the idea =)

A
B
C
D

Still Frustrated

Olympus IB still will not work properly and I am very frustrated.  I should be able to figure it out, and yet, nothing seems to be working. I think I will try calling the help center soon.

Since I am stalled from uploading pictures because of technical issues, I need to find something else to take my mind off of the matter.  I was editing older pictures of my son for our photo album, but that wasn’t doing it either since I am using the IB program for editing.  So…I turned to some of my favorite photos.

The pictures were taken at our previous home in the country.  My husband and I both miss it and someday we would like to return.   Most of these I have printed off and hung around the house for artwork.

I hope they make you as happy as they make me.

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Our neighbors cat Ruby who turned out to be Male. He was the best lap cat. I miss all his fluff.

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Technology Failure

A couple of days ago I had a post all ready to go.  The only thing left was to upload the photo to the computer and add it to the post.  As luck would have it, the program that I use (Olympus IB) decided to stall and would not (possibly could not, but I’m not certain of that) finish uploading my photos.  I spent hours after that trying to get the program to work.  I uninstalled, re-installed with both the old and updated versions, but it only got worse.  By the end the program wouldn’t even open!    I decided that if I could get the old version to install then maybe the update (if I disabled our firewall) would work and thus solve my problems.  Of course, the universe, who by this time I swear is playing with me, installed the older version perfectly and it opened!  Hooray.  Now time to update.  All seemed to be going well, when I got the same error message I have been getting: “Error 1334 File xxxxx cannot be installed.  File cannot be found in cabinet file Data.l.cab”.

Balls.

After much research I am still confused as to why this error is occurring.  So far the only solution it would seem is to download these “free” PC cleanup programs which then after registering make you pay.  So as of today, I am right back where I was two days ago– IB opens but won’t complete the upload from the camera to the computer.

Sometimes I highly dislike technology.

Any thoughts or ideas on what to do?

Computer Success and Play-Do!

Success!  I finally called Olympus and they sent me a new program which works splendidly.  It has a lot more editing power so it’s going to take me a bit to figure out, but I am so happy to have a way to get my pictures onto the computer now.  Phew.

So…here is the post that I was planning on posting when this whole mess began.

Once again our weather has turned cooler. Not that I’m complaining, but a little warmer weather would be nice. However, I have great hopes for after school starts. It always seems to warm up to torment the kids as they head back their classrooms. This weather though is very nice for our workers who are replacing our siding, so I can’t complain. They work better in cooler weather. What it doesn’t help is my routine with my son. Normally we spend a great deal of time in the gardens playing in the dirt and yanking out weeds. With the construction that’s just not possible. We’ve gone to the park, the library, and the grocery store which is all part of our normal morning routine. It is the after-nap hours, before my husband gets home, that the construction wreaks havoc with. So today, I had a brilliant idea…Play do! I posted a recipe for homemade play do in a previous post and today we made it. It was messy, gloriously fun and kept my son occupied for a good hour or more. At first he tried to eat it, but eventually he understood that it was to play with. We had a pencil, and a plastic utensil set to make our creations. Here is what he (I only did he hair) came up with.

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I think if he might have a future in sculpting.

Happy Playing!

I love books

Since my son was six months old I have been taking him to a branch of our library for story time.  At first it was sporadic since he usually wanted to take a nap during the story time hours.  He finally started taking one nap a day around one year, which has made our trips to the library regular and more frequent.  The added benefit of the one nap a day schedule is the length of time in which he naps.  It has allowed me more time to regroup and recharge which is necessary when you are chasing a growing boy around.

One of my favorite ways of doing this is by losing myself in a story.  In a matter of months I have read about 47 books.  A very good friend of mine can never leave a drink without finishing it first which is my policy with books.  Some of these books were better than others, but I can say that I read them cover to cover.

What I have read:

Janet Evanovich:  Stephanie Plum series 1-16, Plum Spooky and Plum Lovin’

Nora Roberts: Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy, Bride Quartet (1-4), Inn BoonsBorro (1-2), Chasing Fire, The Villa, The MacGregors (Serena and Cain), The Witness, The Calhoun Women (Lilah and Susana), The Calhouns (Megan, Catherine, Amanda)

Susan Elizabeth Philips: The Great Escape

E.L. James: Fifty Shades of Grey

Julie Otsuka: The Buddha in the Attic

Robyn Carr: Virgin River series 1-5, Grace Valley Series 1-2

George R.R. Martin: Song of Ice and Fire series 1-4

Currently reading:

the 5th book in the Song of Ice and Fire series better known as The Game of Thrones series.

To-Read List:

Robyn Carr: Virgin River Series 6-11

Janet Evanovich: 16-18

Sue Grafton: A is for Alibi

Amanda Coplin: The Orchardist (releases Aug. 21)

George R. R. Martin: Song of Ice and Fire 6 and 7  (when they are released of course)
Time to get back to my book =)

What are you reading now?  What books are some of your favorites?

Because my day has lacked some creativity…

Maybe it’s the post Olympic lull or the heat wave we’ve been having, but I am feeling very lethargic and not at all inspired.  We are having our siding replaced right now so if we want to go outside we have to go to a park.  Not that we’d particularly want to in 95°+ heat.

So because I have nothing of the creative to share, I will tell you about an annoying conversation that, thankfully, my husband handled.  I was up in my son’s room watching the workers throw our old siding into the dump trailer when I noticed my husband talking to our retired next door neighbor.  My first thought, as dictated by the nosy side of my brain, was to go out and see what they wanted, but my more rational side said, leave it alone.  In the end I’m glad I stayed away.

We have a voluntary home owners association.  It’s a minor deal, and we aren’t required to pay if we don’t feel like it.  Well our neighbor, who is a retired lawyer and very seldom home, decided to come over and see if we had checked with the architectural committee before proceeding with our siding project, knowing full well we hadn’t because he’s on the committee.  However, it isn’t even written up in the rules that you have to get any approval to replace siding.  He then proceeded to tell my husband that not many people have hardy plank siding around here, to which my husband informed him that actually most of our neighbors do.  Our house was crumbling LP,  and is therefore necessary for the integrity of the house to replace.

Since he couldn’t win that battle, our oh so friendly neighbor decided to harp on some of our gardening choices, mainly the chopping down of a particular tree.  The tree in question was a willow that we both liked, but was planted too close to the house threatening the foundation.  My husband then explained all of the issues we have encountered since buying the house and that we have actually been in the process of remedying the issues.  It makes me annoyed.  It is our house, our property, we didn’t violate any of the “rules”, and has nothing to do with him.  I sincerely hope that when I get to be that old I have enough on my plate that I could care less what kind of siding my neighbors have decided to put on their house.

P.S.  I thought a voluntary home owners association wouldn’t be so bad (usually I dislike these associations) but I guess in this case it depends on your neighbors.  Oh, and he didn’t even know that he had an external alarm that happened to off at 10:30pm a couple of weeks ago while they were on vacation.  We had to call 911 to get someone to come turn it off.  Ugh.

Veggie Garden Update

So apparently moving the bok choy outside wasn’t so good in the end. It bolted (flowered). Sigh. So now, I am back to square one. I think maybe I will try for a fall crop which means planting soon. Ah the things you learn by trying something.

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In other news, we have several tomatoes growing. Yay!

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First Deck Cleaning

When we were looking to buy this house one of the things we loved was the deck. It was beautifully made (Ipe wood) with a deep reddish coloring. What I didn’t think about was the cleaning. Ugh. I had no idea where to start, so in June I went to Home Depot, because surely they must know something about decks, and bought some deck cleaner. It failed miserably; even with scrubbing which the bottle touted wasn’t needed. Well, come to find out, Ipe is a hardwood and needs a special cleaner and a special sealer. Duh. If only I had done a bit more research it would have saved me some time. Time yes, but my body would still be one giant ache.

For four days now I have been scouring the deck with a stiff bristled brush and feel more sore than lifting 100+ lug boxes filled with 40 lb of pears (yes, this actually happened). This feeling, however, might be closer to the time I had to fill all aforementioned boxes from two bins of fruit. But I digress. The deck looks wonderful now and all that’s left is the staining. And I’ve learned a valuable lesson: No matter what, make sure you clean the deck twice a year, if possible, because the pain of scrubbing that hard is not something I’d like to revisit anytime soon.

And now, I’m going to lounge on the sofa and read my book until the baby wakes up.

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Clean Deck. It’s not perfect, but it’s worlds from where it started.

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Wet deck. this is what it will look like once the sealer and stain gets put on.

20 things I learned from watching the Olympics

  1. I want to visit England. The aerial views have been stunning and since I live in a similarly wet climate, the rain wouldn’t be a big deal.
  2. Race walking is the strangest sport. I honestly thought they had gotten rid of it, but nope, it’s still an event.
  3. On the flip side, BMX biking is awesome. I loved watching the craziness of it all.
  4. I still love synchronized swimming. It is fascinating that you can create routines that involve almost all leg movement while upside down and underwater.
  5. Rhythmic gymnastics is much more entertaining than artistic gymnastics. It is much more creative and graceful. Not to mention that they are beyond flexible and get to have a moving apparatus.
  6. Handball still confuses me.
  7. Victory doesn’t necessarily mean a medal. For example, the Egyptian synchronized swimming team was so excited just to have gotten a higher score than they expected.
  8. Having prosthetic legs doesn’t make you any less competitive. In fact, I was highly impressed with Pistorius’s composure and attitude as well as his athletic ability.
  9. It is still really cool to see World Records broken, no matter who breaks them.
  10. You can still high jump with a t-shirt and clear the bar.
  11. Getting a medal promotes you to celebrity status in many countries and in the case of South Korea, releases you from your military duty.
  12. I love it when a country gets a medal for the first time. I love seeing the emotion and how much it means to them and their country.
  13. It is important to always try your hardest in each moment. Not only for your own integrity, but also to maintain the integrity of sport.
  14. Water Polo is a vicious battle below water.
  15. Wrestling has some really awkward positions.
  16. There is definitely truth to home field advantage. That being said, I have loved seeing England win because the athletes seem beyond excited and the crowd goes crazy.
  17. Male gymnasts should not take their pants off in front of the camera. It is a little TMI.
  18. It is important to enjoy the experience as much as it is to do your best.
  19. Athletes want to finish, no matter how long or by what means they get there. I find that strength and desire inspiring.
  20. Win or lose, it is important to be a gracious and humble competitor.

Slow-cooked Moroccan Spiced Chicken

Yesterday I was looking through the cook books for dinner inspiration. Sometimes just by reading a recipe I get a hankering for something and sure enough, something caught my eye. There was a big snag to the recipe…we don’t own a slow cooker. So my son and I went out in search of one. You can get anything from a programmable model to a basic model. For a very reasonable price, we picked up this…

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It was my first time using a slow cooker and it was a good one. The recipe was probably a bit more intensive than the usual, but the end result was very tasty. The chicken was tender and flavorful and the only thing I was concerned about was forgetting how long it had been cooking. Fortunately I remembered to set a timer. I paired the chicken with brown basmati rice and green beans to add some extra veggies.

Here’s the dish before serving. What I love is that it made a lot and I even halved the recipe!

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This recipe can be found in the American Test Kitchen cookbook.

Ingredients:

6 bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts (I actually used boneless and skinless chicken breasts and it was excellent)

2 TBS vegetable oil

2 onions, chopped medium

1 ½ tsp. hot paprika (I didn’t have hot so I mixed in about ¼ tsp of cayenne)

½ tsp. cardamom

6 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup dried apricots, cut in half

1 cinnamon stick

1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed

¼ cup flour

¼ cup cilantro (I didn’t add any in)

2 TBS lemon juice (I didn’t add any of this either)

Directions

  1. Dry the chicken with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tsp. of the oil in a 12-in. skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown half of the chicken on both sides, about 10 minutes, then add to the slow cooker. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and repeat with 2 more tsp of oil and the remaining chicken. Discard any fat left in the skillet.
  2. Add the remaining 2 tsp. oil to the empty skillet and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, paprika, cardamom, and ¼ tsp. salt. Cook until the onions are softened, about five minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 15 seconds. Stir in 2 ½ cups of the broth, the apricots and cinnamon stick, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer, and then pour into the slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours. Quickly stir in the chickpeas replace cover and continue to cook until the chicken is tender, about 1 hour longer.
  4. Transfer the chicken to a larger serving dish and tent loosely with foil. Discard the cinnamon stick. Set the slow cooker to high. Whisk the flour with the remaining ½ cup broth until smooth, and then stir into the slow cooker. Cover and continue to cook until the sauce no longer tastes of flour, 15 to 30 minutes longer. Stir in the cilantro and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the vegetables and sauce over the chicken.

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