Sunday, November 30, 2008

Are you guys related?

I got this one from Caroline, and I've stolen many answers from her, too. Who else wants to play? Consider yourself tagged...

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? both my mother and my paternal aunt have my first name as their middle name. My middle name is my mother's maiden name.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? a few days ago, probably. I tear up really, really easily these days--sappy movies, thinking about Mariah's move west, frustration--you name it. I did not, however, cry at Twilight, I promise.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? I do, but it's illegible to most. (Copied from Caroline!)

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Again I'm copying Caroline--it's bacon, though I don't eat it often.

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Yes, a girl and a boy.


7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Trying to give it up, but it's hard.


9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? No, why would I do that?

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? In warm weather, muesli; in colder weather, oatmeal, often with homemade granola, dried cranberries and milk.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? I only wear lace-up shoes to work out, and I don't untie them when I take them off.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Physically, I'm a lot stronger than I used to be. Tae kwon do helps a lot.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Anything with coffee, chocolate, and things to chew in it.


15. RED OR PINK? Deep pink or deep red. Often together.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? Hmm, really? Right now I think it's my tendency to procrastinate.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Oh, so many people: Roxanne and Kristy, Abby, Caroline (but I'll see her next month).

18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? No, but I'll enjoy reading the answers that turn up on other blogs.


20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Trader Joe's vegetable medley soup with leftover rice in it.

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Sports commentators, my father-in-law and Mark chatting.


23. FAVORITE SMELLS? I used to live in between a laundromat and a sourdough bakery--that was hard to beat.



26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? I will watch almost any sport with a ball: basketball, baseball, football, tennis. No golf, though.

27. HAIR COLOR? Brown

28. EYE COLOR? Brown

29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Used to; now, Lasik! (also stolen from Caroline!)

30. FAVORITE FOOD? dark chocolate, fresh-baked bread, summer pasta, winter squash and dark greens...

31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy endings. I can't watch scary stuff any more.


33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? silver-grey (I think of it as Caroline's color, though)

34. SUMMER OR WINTER? can't I choose spring? Or fall? This year, though, definitely summer.

35. HUGS OR KISSES? Depends on who's giving them (another stolen answer).

36. FAVORITE DESSERT? Chocolate guinness cake.

37. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Freshhell is usually up for something like this...


39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? I'm re-reading Feed and A Christmas Carol to teach.

40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? We have an Edgar Allen Poe mousepad up by the "family computer."


42. FAVORITE SOUND? Mariah singing, Nick laughing, summer rain, fire crackling in the hearth.


44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? Kyoto, Japan--summer of 07.

45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Hmm, does re-reading books and still being surprised by the ending count as a special talent?

46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Long Island.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank Full

Well, that was one successful Thanksgiving feast. Nick and I are sitting on the couch while Mark cleans up the kitchen and his dad slices up the leftover turkey. Mariah has disappeared to her room muttering something about being "too full." Remember, now, she's the wheat-free vegan; if I managed to overstuff her, I think I did something right.

I forgot to take pictures of either dessert before we ate them, but I can report that the wheat-free vegan amazing pumpkin pie is indeed amazing. I would make and eat it even if no one I knew had dietary restrictions; it was that good. (This picture is pretty accurate, though mine, made from fresh-roasted pumpkin which I then drained in cheesecloth for an hour or so, was a bit darker.) And Nick's apple crisp was perfect: crispy on top, meltingly sweet and tart inside.

Here's the rest:

Turkey and gravy, sweet potato casserole, roasted vegetables, Mariah's timbale, and the brussels sprouts that did indeed make a convert of me. I didn't get a shot of the stuffing, but it was not all that photogenic anyway...

I hope you and yours also had a happy Thanksgiving. We sure did; and we will have more of it again tomorrow.

(See yesterday's post for links to recipes; I'm too lazy to put them in again.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving menu, with vegan/wheat-free options

I think I have the Thanksgiving menu set now. I'd better, since both cars are out of the house without me and there's not much more grocery-shopping time left anyway. Here's what I'm planning; I'll report back tomorrow or Friday, with pictures if I think of it.

Maple-Glazed Turkey with Gravy: My most successful turkeys have been cooked quickly at high heat, like this one; I like the glaze idea and it looks pretty simple. I have a smallish (10 pound) turkey, so this may go even faster than two hours. Score!

I'm thinking of making a cornbread stuffing but I haven't actually dug up a recipe on the internet. Usually I make a version of an apple-chestnut stuffing recipe that a friend gave me years ago; she replaces the chestnuts with walnuts and I do, too. I think I can do that one with cornbread, so that will probably be it.

Mushroom, Lentil, and Wild Rice Timbales: Mariah is vegan and is currently avoiding wheat; this looks like a terrific entree for her (and I may steal some, too). I don't have ramekins so I'm baking it in a casserole dish.

Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts: I don't actually like brussels sprouts, but I keep hoping I will. This looks easy enough that I don't mind experimenting, and it looks good. If there's room in the oven, though, I might roast them instead.

Roasted potatoes, parsnips, leeks, and red pepper: (The link is a soup recipe but I will stop before they are soup...) Everyone loves roasted vegetables. This is the only form besides french fries in which Nick will eat potates. Go figure.

Sweet potato casserole: Because I might not make enough dessert... I'll have to vegan-ize this recipe with egg replacer, margarine, and almond milk. I'm thinking the sweet potatoes will mask any slight differences in flavor. We'll see.

Cranberry sauce: I will probably just make regular whole-berry sauce this year, no bells and whistles. I love the garlicky gingery chutney one, but I'm really the only one in my house who likes it, so it's easier just to stop at step one.

If the brussels sprouts don't look good, or I go a little mad, I may also add some green beans or a salad. Though, really, there are enough vegetables here already, right? Then for dessert:

Wheat free vegan pumpkin "pie": Pie without crust? I am skeptical, but I love my daughter, and she loves pumpkin desserts, so we will try.

I may also make an apple crisp, which is a safe and sound vegan, wheat-free dessert as long as you sub oat bran for wheat germ, gluten free flour for regular, and margarine for butter.

Yes, this is a ridiculous amount of food for five people (Mark's dad is with us). But I love Thanksgiving, and we all love Thanksgiving leftovers, so nothing will go to waste.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things I've Done

Got this one from Ericka; you're tagged if you want to be!

Things I've done are bolded:

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (no, but from above, in a plane)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (do student films count?)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen (only when it's in my own church)
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (not all that fast, but on the freeway)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day.

Not even half! I'm leading a sheltered life...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

About the body

Yoga is about the body. Knitting, too, is about the body. The more I engage myself in mind-work, the more important I realize it is to feed, clothe, care for the body as a central, not peripheral, aspect of life.

I have my dad to thank for this latest reminder, which is also an unexpected plug for Mama, PhD.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The new yoga?

The New York Times discovers knitting.

too much

Becca's been blogging a lot lately, in what seems like one of those "I was thinking about giving up the blog" moments. I haven't been--not because I'm thinking of giving up the blog, but because we're at that point in the semester/year when I don't really have much time to think about anything. Over the weekend I speed-read my way through several critical books on children's literature, trying to determine which ones to nominate for the ChLA book award. I also did some knitting, and watched Nick pass another tae kwon do test, and made a run to Trader Joe's (now a weekly occurrence--yay!). The Trader Joe's run resulted in mostly home-made pizza (TJ crust and sauce), spinach salad, and apple-berry crisp for dinner last night, so that was definitely worth it. But for the most part I'm just hanging on right now, hoping that I reach the end of the year without too many loose ends flying.

Mariah's trying out a wheat-free diet (she had soup instead of pizza) at the moment as part of a battery of approaches to her chronic fatigue/pain (we're not sure yet if we can call it fibromyalgia, but it's definitely painful). So I made the crisp without wheat or butter and it was still really tasty. But I'm coming to the end of my imagination pretty quickly, so if anyone has fabulous wheat free recipes out there, I'll take them!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Literary Mama Logo Contest!

Literary Mama Logo Contest

Literary Mama is turning 5 and we need a fresh look! We're soliciting designs for a new logo that includes our name and tagline -- Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined -- plus, optionally, an image that captures the spirit of the site. The winning entry will become the property of Literary Mama, to be used on our site, and on any and all Literary Mama gear. We'll give the winning designer credit on our site, of course, plus a t-shirt and a copy of the Literary Mama anthology. Send your entries by January 1st as jpg files (800 pixels wide) to

Visit us at

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On Knitting...

I haven't actually had much time to knit lately, but I do think about it...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes, we can!

We got up early (ish) yesterday morning and all four of us were at the polls just a little after 8 a.m. The lines were long but didn't spill out of the building into the rain, and everyone seemed happy, if a little subdued. One couple was disappointed to discover they would have to separate because of their different last names--they'd only brought one cup of coffee to share.

Luckily they only had to wait about twenty minutes. We all gave our names and got our little tickets, then handed them to the next phalanx of poll workers and got right into the voting booths. Nick went with Mark. We have touch screens in our district (they'll be gone by the next election cycle, though they're not paid for yet) and I touched all the right boxes and made sure that the review screen listed all the people I meant to vote for (we'd heard stories...). We got snazzy big red-white-and blue "I voted" stickers with the presidential seal on them, and headed back out into the rain.

Krispy Kreme was offering free doughnuts so we went there next--the line for the drive-through seemed like it might be longer than the line to vote, so we went in. A short line later: free doughnuts! (Leftover Hallowe'en ones at our location--I had to scrape a lot of black-and-orange sprinkles off mine.)

After a quick stop at home we went to the Obama headquarters, where we'd promised to spend the next four hours. They turned us around to a different location for driving and phone-banking volunteers, where we stood in the longest line of the day, for a good thirty to forty minutes. Cars driving by honked and waved and everyone was in a great mood despite the drizzle. I handed off a bag of snacks to one of the volunteers to take inside to phone-bankers. After a while another volunteer came out and gave us the facts: while we might all eventually get assigned to drive folks to the polls, it could take a while, but they could use canvassers now. We chose canvassing.

Off to another "staging area," an art studio not all that far from home. They sent us to the neighborhood right by the kids' old elementary school, where we knocked on doors and left door hangers for an hour. The few folks we actually reached had already voted and gave us happy thumbs-up signs. We took our clipboard back to the office when we were done and headed home by about 2:30 p.m.

So that was our election day. I baked a pie and did some reading for the next day's teaching, and we went out for a quick dinner then to an election party with friends. We had to leave there by ten since Nick and I had to be up early, but we did manage to stay up (except Nick) to get the results (we won Virginia! Yay!) and see the speeches. I thought McCain was gracious and Obama was appropriately solemn and inspirational. And so we went to bed, knowing that we'd made history.

It's raining again this morning but the fall colors are lighting up the trees anyway. Both kids are sick--happiness hangover or a late-fall bug? I'm off to teach in a bit, because life goes on as normal; it's a new normal, though, one in which we can finally say "President Elect Obama." Sounds good, doesn't it?

Yes, we can!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Getting out the vote

It's the day we've been waiting for. And over at the Mama, PhD blog at Inside Higher Ed, I try to talk a little about why I'm spending the day volunteering, trying to help get out the vote. Here's a sample:

This is my fourth presidential election as a college professor. I’ve dutifully reminded my students to go to the polls in years past, and have gone myself, but without much sense of hope, without much conviction that anything would change. While I now think the last several elections really did change our course as a nation, I remember in 2000, especially, thinking it didn’t really matter all that much. (read the rest here)

Remember what that was like? I was wrong: it did matter--and this time it really does. Get out and vote!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Some quizzes just aren't surprising at all...

Your result for Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test...


22% Logical, 16% Spatial, 75% Linguistic, 49% Intrapersonal, 18% Interpersonal, 27% Musical, 4% Bodily-Kinesthetic and 31% Naturalistic!

"Verbal-linguistic intelligence has to do with words, spoken or written. People with verbal-linguistic intelligence display a facility with words and languages. They are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and memorizing words and dates. They tend to learn best by reading, taking notes, listening to lectures, and via discussion and debate. They are also frequently skilled at explaining, teaching and oration or persuasive speaking. Those with verbal-linguistic intelligence learn foreign languages very easily as they have high verbal memory and recall, and an ability to understand and manipulate syntax and structure.

Careers which suit those with this intelligence include writers, lawyers, philosophers, journalists, politicians and teachers." (Wikipedia)

Take Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test at HelloQuizzy

seen at Shaken and Stirred

Sunday, November 02, 2008

On running for office

While I'm deeply invested in the outcome of this election, I have to admit I'm tired of the campaign. Running for president seems to me almost nothing like being president, and I'm tired of the minute-by-minute scrutiny of folks doing a job that isn't the job we're electing one of them to do.

This month my column at Literary Mama takes up some books in which children learn a similar lesson. These are books that implicitly say: democracy is hard. You might not actually want to be a leader. Gone are the inspirational stories of my own childhood, in which children embrace leadership and optimistically look forward to making the world a better place. These stories are, in fact, a little depressing in their realism about presidential politics.

Read the rest here...

(cross-posted at the other blog)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy Hallowe'en!

Nick was Darth Maul, thanks to his sister's awesome face-painting skills. That's his buddy William with the skeleton mask. Nick also carved the pumpkin--a wolf up on his hind legs, not that my photograph makes that clear...

(edited to add a close-up)