Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why Would a Child Go to the Zoo?

The end of November means the end of our season passes to the zoo. We got them as Ash's Christmas present last year. We've gone about two dozen times and boy, was it worth it! We have loved every zoo trip! Sadly, we will not be renewing, as it's just a little too far to keep driving twice a month. 

We went for the last time today. It was an amazing experience; we happened to be there when they were walking a cheetah, but this time the staff actually stopped to talk to us. I was only two feet away from a cheetah for about five minutes. I could hear it purr. It was AMAZING. 

But it hasn't been my only amazing experience at the zoo. So, for this post, I present my top zoo moments (not necessarily in order): 

Baby Hippo water ballet: 

The best exhibit in the zoo: The otters. I LOVE this exhibit:

Actually seeing a red panda. Because every time I go to the zoo it's always hiding. When this one was actually out and eating it's lunch, I nearly had a heart attack:

Watching a Cheetah run seventy miles per hour

Sunday, November 27, 2011

When Your Opponent's Sittin' There Holding All Aces, There's Only One Thing Left to Do: Kick Over the Table

Thanksgiving vacation was wonderful!

It started off on Wednesday; Drek had to go into work and I wasn't expecting him hope until five or six (that is not the wonderful part). Ash went down for a nap around noon, so I sat at the computer, furiously typing away a scene in my novel. I was in the zone; thoroughly captivated by burglars breaking into a dark house, guns abounding, and people being locked inside dog kennels. Right in the middle of this, the back sliding door opened and a man walked into my house. I must have jumped five feet. I gasped at flailed around.

Drek paused for a second: "You okay?"

"You scared me! I thought you were a burglar with a gun coming to lock me in a dog kennel!"

"I just came home from work early."

"Well, why didn't you use the front door?"

 Drek shrugs. But hey, he was home from work early! We played for the rest of the day. That night I went off to a girl's musical night. We watched Robin and the Seven Hoods.

Thursday morning we got up and played some Frisbee golf. I didn't actually start cooking until an hour before dinner. We went to a wonderful dinner over at our wonderful neighbor's house. The food was wonderful and the company was fantastic. After dinner we went over to a friend's house to eat pie and play games: We had twelve pies: Banana Cream, French Silk, Lemon Meringue, Cherry, Cherry Cream, Buttermilk, Pumpkin, two pecan and three Dutch Apple. For more variety we had a Pumpkin cake and little sweet potato tartlets, plus ice cream, whipped cream, and cool whip. Sadly, everyone had a huge dinner (and we had eaten a few slices of pie already) so the pies were mostly left for the next day. Still, the night was wonderful. We played some great games and had a wonderful time! 

Friday morning we played some Frisbee golf, then went on a short hike for the most spectacular view! Then we decided it was time for Christmas; we bought a tree and Christmas lights for our house. The rest of the day and most of Saturday was spent decorating our house for Christmas, listening to Christmas music and just having a great time together. My good friend came down to visit for a few hours and that was wonderful. Ash was sleeping and Drek was out at a movie with friends so we had a lot of time to talk. It was wonderful. Saturday we went to the beach and spent a lot of time outdoors because the weather was just so perfect!

I am so thankful for the wonderful time we spent together! I am thankful for my family and for such good friends.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon

And I'm done. 

With NaNoWrimo, not my novel. My novel is coming along nicely, but is not yet finished. I think I'm a bit more than half-way. 

I'm going to admit right now; I cheated just a little bit.  During NaNoWriMo you're supposed to write 50,000 words of your novel. Most days, I was in the flow and the frustrating thing was that I couldn't find time to write. However, there were a few days (towards the end, or course) where I was hit with Writer's block. So, to get my word count for the day, I wrote character description. These really helped me to solidify a few plot points. it also really helped clarify things and bring more character to my characters. It was also a good cure for writers block so I could keep writing in my novel. However, on November 23, when my word count his 50,090, I took out those character descriptions and realized that I had just lost 8,000 words. 

But, it was only November 23. You can't officially win NaNoWrimo until Nov 25, so I thought I'd keep writing and replace the 8,000 words from my character descriptions with 8,000 words of my actual novel. 

Yeah, since then I've averaged 500 words a day. And now Thanksgiving is over and everything for Christmas needs done NOW, so I'm out of time. That's okay though. I did end up with a final word count of 50907, and if some of that is character descriptions, that's okay. I'll keep working on my novel, but right now I need to do the things I've been neglecting all November. Like: cleaning my house, eating vegetables, actually talking to my husband and yes, posting on my blog. 

I am going to give myself a new goal: I need to write 5,000 words a week until the first draft of my novel is completed. That's not a lot compared to what I've been doing (my goal was 2,273 words a day) but it's still enough to make me sit down and write during my toddler's naptime. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We All Do Extol Thee, Thou Leader Triumphant, And Pray That Thou Still Our Defender Will Be

Last year I started thinking a lot about why I hate Thanksgiving so much. I love Holidays. I use any excuse to throw a party and often make up Holidays just because I want to. So why don't I like Thanksgiving?

There are many, many reasons, but I wanted to focus on what I could to like it more. What could I do to make Thanksgiving fun not only for me, but for my child, whom I don't want growing up hating Thanksgiving.

Last year I made a Thanksgiving themed meal a few days before Thanksgiving. I decided to do that again this year. I did it on Monday. We had the missionaries over for dinner, so it was a good excuse to do a really fancy dinner.

We had Rolls and stuffed mushrooms and cranberry sauce. Everything was from scratch except the cranberry sauce, which Drek loves from a can, in the shape of a can. 

I made a delicious juice drink made with apple juice, cranberries and pumpkin pie spice!

Dessert was an amazing lemon meringue pie made from real lemons from our friend's tree. So delicious! 

The main course was Orange You Glad It's Thanksgiving soup. I made a few modifications from last year, but had problems because I didn't follow the recipe last year and didn't write down the changes I made. So, for my use in future years, I will include my own recipe in this blog post. 

The dinner was great. Like last year, I had a wonderful time both making it and eating it. It didn't take tons of prep time and, while I was in the kitchen for a few hours, it wasn't ALL DAY.

I also wanted to focus on what I think Thanksgiving should be about; That is, being thankful. At the beginning of November my toddler and I made this:
Everyday at dinner we each wrote something we were thankful for on a leaf and taped it up to our tree.

While I cooked in the kitchen, I made a you tube playlist of songs about Thanksgiving; hymns, melodies and such. I enjoyed that quite a bit.

I liked my little way of celebrating: No pilgrims, no turkeys, no traveling. Lots of good food (but not too much) lots of good music, more gratitude and more family time. I'll try to improve on it next year.

The other interesting thing is since I did the dinner on Monday, I feel like Thanksgiving is already over. it's odd that people are still preparing for it. Another benefit is that since Drek has Thursday off from work, I can spend the day with him instead of in the kitchen. And actually, we are still celebrating Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving, but I put Drek in charge of Thursday, so we'll do whatever he wants to do.

Orange You Glad It’s Thanksgiving Soup 
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and finely chopped
1 baby butternut squash, peeled and finely chopped
1 orange
Salt and pepper
1 cube vegetable bouillon
3 cups water
Grated nutmeg

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add butter. When butter has melted, add the onion, squash, sweet potato and carrots and cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze with the juice from the orange and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Transfer the mixture to a food processor or a blender. Puree the mixture until smooth, then put into crockpot. To mixture, add water and bouillon and stir to combine. Adjust the seasoning. before serving, grate some fresh nutmeg and stir to combine. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chopped  orange zest.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I'm Calling to Celebrate a Momentous Occasion. We're Now Officially Moved In

Yesterday was 11/11/11 and it was quite a magical day. First, I hit the 25,000 words mark in my novel, meaning I am halfway through NaNoWriMo, so I can post on my blog, right?

It also marked a momentous occasion:  I finally unpacked the last box. Now, it's official. Ha, ha, ha.

The last box had been sitting in a corner, all by itself, ever since I finished unpacking all the other boxes. What was in the last box? Books, of course. I couldn't unpack them because I had no where to put them. That is, until yesterday, which is reason number three yesterday was such a magical day:

I got bookshelves! I got two matching ones off of Craigslist. They are seven feet tall and three feet wide and can hold a lot of books. They can hold so many books, after putting them up and stuffing them with all the books we own, there are still a few empty shelves. Hooray!

From what I could tell from the women I bought them from, she inherited the bookshelves when she bought the property that used to be a library in a neighboring town. So I guess my bookshelves used to be actual library shelves. That's pretty cool, right?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Well, See Ya On The Other Side

And it's November! I'm off to do NaNoWriMo again this year.

Two years ago I wrote my first novel, last year I edited  (read: rewrote it) it. A few months ago, when my laptop exploded, so did the novel. So it's gone and lost forever, which is good, because they always tell you your first novel should be tossed anyway.

This year I'm writing a new novel, the first in a trilogy (Or that's the plan anyway, we'll see how reality pans out).

Wish me luck!

I'll blog again when I win, or in December, since this is my first NaNoWriMo with a toddler (gulp).