Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ever have one of those days...

...where all you want is to come across as cool, confident, and just all-around classy when, in reality, you know that all people are getting from you is this?



Yeah.  Me too.


This picture is from one of my favorite new sites, Upside Down Dogs.  Please go check them out-they put up new pictures on a regular basis, and they always crack me up!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Things I've Done

Okay, I admit it, I am a sucker for this kind of stuff.  I saw this on Softdrink's blog, who saw it on Stephanie's blog, who saw it on...etc., etc.    Oh!  Also, I didn't really plan this, but it seems appropriate to do a list of 100 things since, according to Blogger, this is my 100th post!  (Actually, it's not since some of my posts are just drafts, but I'll take what I can get right now.  If I feel like it, I will celebrate my 100th "real" post too!  You know why?  Because I can.)  

So.  The things I've done are in bold.

1. Started my own blog 
2. Slept under the stars (in a tree!)
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii (Well, I never visited before I moved here, but I've visited other islands.  Does that count?)
5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain 
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch 
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train 
21. Had a pillow fight (I don't remember any specific instances, but I just know that there's no way I made it to adulthood without having had at least one pillow fight somewhere along the line.)

22. Hitchhiked
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 my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself 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 my 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
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
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 (Hubby pointed out that I have, indeed, done this one.  Technically, he's right-40 MPH does constitute speeding out here!)
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 my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (does a fish count?)
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. Rode an elephant

Hmmmm...only 35*.  I guess I've got some stuff to do (well, some stuff I don't mind not doing)! There are a couple things that I'm not sure if I've ever done like bounced a check, been in the paper, and eaten caviar, but I didn't mark those, only the ones that I knew for sure.  How about you?  What have you done?

*12/28/08 Make that 36.  See #78!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Apple Kuchen" recipe

Bethany over at B&b ex libris is hosting a book giveaway, and I SO NEED THIS BOOK!  I wouldn't normally participate in a cookbook giveaway seeing as how my cupboard is full of cookbooks that I already don't use, but this one sounds different.  The Flavor Bible tells you how to put flavors together to complement one another.  What one flavor can you use to make another flavor really pop?  That's the kind of stuff they talk about in this book.  Bethany's already reviewed it, and she has videos!  So I would recommend going there for more info.  I seem to have the unique ability of being able to throw together a bunch of different flavors that I think will go well together only to find out that they have somehow magically cancelled each other out instead.  I then end up with, say, a soup that has 12 ingredients (11 of which are spices) and absolutely no flavor.  How does this happen?  Hopefully, if Bethany picks me, I will find out!

I received this recipe from a neighbor of ours when I was a little kid.  She was a super cool lady who made costumes for a living, and I always got to go over and try them on.  Talk about playing dress up!  Also, we would have tea and have very grown-up discussions about what had transpired at recess and how my book report was going and...I have no idea, but she managed to keep me entertained, bless her heart.  She must have made this for one of my visits or perhaps for Christmas or something, but either way, it's still one of my favorites.  I hope you enjoy it too!

Apple Kuchen

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup (?) coconut-My recipe says, "1/2 coconut", but I don't think that's right!  Anyway, the coconut is optional, so use whatever you want.  
1 can (20 oz.) pie-sliced apples, well drained OR 4 apples, sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sour cream
2 egg yolks

Heat oven to 350.

Cut butter into cake mix until crumbly.  Mix in coconut.  Pat mixture lightly in ungreased pan (13"x9"x2") building up edges.  Bake 10 minutes.

Arrange apple slices on warm crust.  Mix sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle on apples.  Blend sour cream and egg yolks.  Drizzle over apples (mixture will not completely cover apples).  Bake 25 minutes.  Do not over bake.  Serve warm. 

Notes:  I have never used coconut in this because I don't like coconut.  I have always used fresh apples-I'm not sure how this would be with apple pie filling.  This recipe is already fairly quick and easy, but the apple pie filling would just make it more so.  In regard to how thick to slice the apples...maybe 1/4" slices.  I haven't made this in a really long time, and it seems like the last time I made it I used one of those apple peeler/corer/slicer things and it made really thin slices and then I had way too much apple.  Also, now that I'm thinking about it, 4 apples seems like a lot.  Maybe start with 3, and see how that goes!  According to the recipe card, this serves, "1 if hungry!".  :)  

Do you have any favorite recipes that you have carried with you from childhood?  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day-December

Carol over at May Dreams Gardens hosts Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, a day in which all the bloggers in the world come together to show what's happening in their gardens. Okay, maybe not ALL the bloggers in the world, but quite a few! Anyway, I've seen a few of these posts over at My Bit of Earth, and thought, Hey, I like gardening and taking pictures-I could do that! Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is supposed to be the 15th of every month, but...um...I'm running on Hawaiian time?

Anyway, here's what's going on in my garden. Sorry it's not a great shot, but it was raining cats and dogs-you can see my poor bushes are pretty weighted down from all the rain. I can't tell you what they are; the only name I've ever seen is Mexican poinsettia, but if you do a Google search for this, you don't get the right plant. They do change color in the winter, like your standard Christmas poinsettias, but the leaves are very fine. This is one of my favorite plants. I love the winter white, and when it is in its white phase it also gives off a very subtle almond smell. (They really do look much prettier when they are all upright and fluffy and not thisclose to snapping in half).


For comparison, here is a picture of the same bushes exactly one month earlier. It is from a different angle, but you can see how much they've changed in that short time!



Here is a closer-up shot of the leaves. (Sorry about the Basset butt-he was busy exploring!) If anybody can tell me what the actual name of this is, that would be great! **Edited 8/11/09-I finally found out what this is! It is Euphorbia leucocephala.

Thanks for stopping by to check out my garden!

Five Go-old Rings!

This is a post where I am mostly going to re-direct you to a bunch of older posts in order to appear "helpful," when really what I mostly am is "lazy."

Firstly, since it is getting close to Christmas, some of you may be starting to panic if there are still people that you haven't crossed off your list yet.  You know how it is, you want to get them something nice, but you are running out of time, and you're afraid you're going to end up buying them something cheezy out of desperation.  Perhaps I can help.  Go here to read all about my friend at Silversmyth who makes hand-made jewelry-beautiful, practical, AND personal.  (Just substitute "Mother's Day" for your holiday of choice as you read).   

Here is a showcase of some of the pieces you can find at Silversmyth.com




In case you're curious, you can see the Silversmyth herself at work here




Even if you don't buy anything, stop over and tell her I said, "Hi!"  She's quite sweet!

Maybe jewelry isn't your thing.  That's ok, because in the post I referenced you to earlier (here it is again, in case you forgot in all this holiday madness!), you can also read about the fabulous chocolates at Lesley's Life is Sweet.  Not only does she make chocolate to die for, but she donates part of her proceeds to charity, and I'm pretty sure that officially cancels out any guilt that might be associated with indulging in the chocolate.  

Okay, so maybe jewelry isn't your thing and nobody you know likes chocolate, and you'd just like to make some charitable donations this year to help out those less fortunate than you.  Guess what!  I have a post for that too!  Here is a roundup of some of my favorite charities and why I like them.  Maybe one of them will catch your eye, or maybe you have some of your own favorite charities.  Either way, donations (of time or money) are greatly appreciated, especially now with more and more people finding themselves in need and more and more people finding themselves with less to give.  

What is standard practice for gift giving in your family, and is it changing this year due to the current economic situation?  Are you finding it difficult, or is it a freeing change of pace?  Whatever your situation is this year, I hope you are finding ways to celebrate the important things like friends and family.   

Monday, December 15, 2008

Good news update

Our friend that was hospitalized last week with lymphoma is stage 2, which is much better than what they thought it might be, and it's NOT in his bone marrow or spinal fluid, which was another concern.  This also means less chemotherapy than they originally thought.  

My cousin's friend is also doing better.  She is sitting up and breathing a lot better.  They are still keeping an eye on her in the hospital, but things are looking up.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

A little help, please.

Remember how I told you that some of the nicest people we've ever met have been Cold Stone franchisees?  Well, one of those people was hospitalized last week with a diagnosis of lymphoma. We don't have all the details yet; they think it's fairly late-stage, but treatable.  Chemo began yesterday and is expected to run for 6 months.  

Remember how, in that same post, I told you about my cousin who cried because she was so happy to see me happy?  Well, one of her friends was hospitalized with pneumonia yesterday.  Today they pulled 3 liters of fluid out of her lungs and told her husband that it might not be a bad idea to get her family in town.  When asked to clarify, the doctor said it might be a good idea to get her family in town because otherwise they might not get another chance to see her.  

Back in...May, June (?) my great-uncle was diagnosed with lymphoma.  The good news is that they caught it pretty early, he has made it through all of his chemotherapy, and, so far, things are looking good.  The bad news is that a few months earlier his son was also diagnosed with lymphoma, they did NOT catch it early, and things are not looking as good.  

So, I know you all are busy thinking about your own friends and family this holiday season, and I'm sure many of you have worries of your own, but if you could just take a minute and send up a prayer, put a message out to the universe, visualize full recoveries for Dean, Doan, Joe, and Terry, whatever works for you, I'd really appreciate it, and I know they would too.  

Thanks.    

  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Props to Hawaii Pacific Plumbing Supply Company

So, it seems that our house is made of spare parts.  It's coming up on 10 years of age, and it's at that point where things are beginning to need to be replaced.  So far, anytime we've had to replace anything, it's some funky size that nobody carries.  This could just be a function of living on an island where supplies are limited, or it could be that the guy who built our house got some great deals on clearance items.  I don't know.  Anyway, I need to replace our bathtub faucet, and after having no luck at Home Depot, I turned to the folks at Hawaii Pacific Plumbing Supply Company (HPPS).  

Sadly, this tale does not end with me being able to get the part I needed, but, BUT, the folks at HPPS tried really hard to help me, and sometimes that counts just as much as getting me the right answer.  I spent about an hour-and-a-half in their showroom over a couple of days, the first day with the broken faucet and the second day with pictures of the parts that are still attached to our house.  (Note:  I could have emailed them the pictures, which is what they asked me to do because that would have been easier than asking me to come back into town, but I was in town anyway, so it was ok.)  Over those two days, the staff at HPPS dug through their warehouse; made phone calls; looked up information on line; tracked down the veteran guys in the office, who have been around and seen some things in the plumbing world, to try to identify my mystery faucet; thumbed through catalogs; and generally tried to provide some actual customer service.  Also, they managed to use the term "nipple," which is a vocationally legitimate term, in a relevant manner without snickering; and, let's face it, unless you are in the medical or body-piercing field, that's not always easy to do.  But, I digress.    

The end result:  I now know that the piece I need has been obsolete since 2002, and I will probably have to call a plumber to fix our situation.  That's a drag, but the fact that they didn't make me run all over town to 6 different plumbing supply places and make 14 different phone calls to find out the same information meant a lot!  Because that's the level of customer service I've come to expect these days.  Has anyone else noticed this?  Is it just me or do you find yourself doing more and more of your own leg work these days in order to help Customer Service do their job, things that Customer Service used to do in order to provide, you know, service to their customers?  

Anyway, thanks to Justin, Jeannine, Courtney, and the rest of the folks at Hawaii Pacific Plumbing Supply Company who helped me identify the latest obsolete part in my house!  (You guys wouldn't happen to know if there's some place that carries screen doors that are about 1/2" smaller than everything that seems to be in the stores, would you?)   

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What I'm Reading Now-The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World


The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern Worldby Steven Johnson-In 1854 cholera swept through the Soho district in London, killing hundreds of people in a matter of days. Popular theories at the time blamed miasma (bad air) or the weak constitutions and filthy living conditions of the lower classes for these deaths; but the Reverend Whitehead, who attended many of these deaths, noticed that class and cleanliness seemed to have nothing to do with who was dying. Cholera appeared to be an equal-opportunity killer. At the same time, Dr. Snow, who was an expert in anesthesia and had done many experiments with vaporous substances like ether and chloroform, thought that the whole miasma theory was a bunch of bunk. He suspected that cholera was spread via the water supply and set out to prove his theory.


Dr. Snow was up against some strong opposition, mainly the head honcho of the health department who was an adamant miasmatist (?). In an effort to clear the air of London, this guy whose name I can't remember (I'll call him Bob the Killer) decided that all the cesspits and sewers of London could no longer be allowed to stagnate and foul the air with their deadly smells. Good thinking Bob the Killer-stagnate, overflowing cesspits are nasty, nasty things! To remedy this, they would all drain into the Thames, which happened to supply most of London's drinking water. Bad, bad Bob the Killer! (Some of these details might be slightly off-I've already returned the book to the library and I'm finding that my memory for details has deteriorated rapidly since high school-but the general gist is correct.)


Anyway, Dr. Snow and the Reverend Whitehead were able to work together in a remarkably effective manner to determine not only the source of the outbreak but also to establish a new theory of epidemiology. Bob the Killer drowned in a cesspit, complaining the entire time of the dangerous stink. I'm just kidding. I don't remember what happened to Bob the Killer, but I think he died spouting miasmatic bunk.


I enjoyed this book, but then I like stuff about cholera and the plague and all sorts of fun things like that. This book definitely has a pretty high gross-out factor though, so if you have a low tolerance for talk of poo and sewage and such, you might want to avoid this one. I thought Johnson did a good job of explaining how and why London ended up in the state that it was in-millions of people crammed into a small space with no effective way of handling all of their waste is the short answer. It was also an interesting look at cities and how the very thing that makes them susceptible to epidemics-lots of people in close proximity to one another-also makes them the ideal setting for problem solving and innovation, the type of problem solving that can help us avoid epidemics in the future. I also found the "scientific" theories and psychology of the day quite interesting. While it's very easy for me to sit here at my computer and mock Bob the Killer from the distant 21st century, I can see where he was coming from, and I wonder what theories we have today that people will look back on 150 years from now and go, "Whaaaaaa....?"



Monday, December 8, 2008

How I'd Like to See This Go Down

The Big Three:  We'd like $34 billion, please.
Congress:  I think we can make that happen for you.  I'd really like to see you walk away with this $34 billion!  In fact, I think we can do this today, but I'm going to have to go talk to my manager.

...

Congress:  (sliding a piece of paper across the desk to The Big 3)  Well, my manager wasn't quite comfortable with $34 billion, but I think this will still make you very happy.  Whaddaya think?
The Big 3:  (crying) This is just a Polaroid of someone's middle finger!
Congress:  I think it's a pretty fair offer, but if you want I can go back and try to talk to my manager again.  

...

Congress:  Okay, I really fought for you guys, but this is the best I can do.  My manager says you can have twelve dollars and fifty cents, and you have to buy the rust-proof coating for all of your jets.  Oh, and I'm going to need that picture back.  Well, fellas, whaddaya think?

It might not solve anything, but it'd be fun to watch!

Helen, of Margaret and Helen, has a different approach, which I also like.  

**Updated 5:53PM-I just saw this article about Polaroid.  I think The Big 3 should take the picture and be happy.  It will be worth a lot of money someday.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Weekly Geeks #27-Dewey

This week's post is a tribute to Dewey, author of The Hidden Side of a Leaf blog, who passed away recently.  For anyone who doesn't know, she was a book blogger and was part of a huge community of bloggers.  One of the activities that she ran was Weekly Geeks.  Each week a new theme would be announced and everyone was invited to participate by blogging about this theme and then linking to their posts on Dewey's blog.  So, this week, in honor of Dewey, Becky has suggested that Weekly Geeks #27 be a tribute to Dewey.  Please visit Becky's site for links to other Weekly Geeks' tributes to Dewey.

Like so many people, I was shocked to hear of Dewey's passing.  I didn't really know her the way a lot of other bloggers out there did-we didn't email each other, we didn't chat, but we did exchange the occasional friendly comment.  Hers was one of the first blogs that I started following.  I was drawn in by the title, which comes from this Toni Morrison quote:

"Birth, life, and death--each took place on the hidden side of a leaf."

I love this quote; as a gardener, I know how true this is in a literal sense, but it is also infinitely expandable and applicable as metaphor.  We each live on our own hidden side of a leaf, and there are a thousand different things that take place in each of our lives that no one else (or at least very few others) is ever even aware of, but that doesn't make them any less miraculous or any less important to us.  Dewey's blog existed in a microcosm of the blogosphere that I might never have found, had I not turned over the right leaf.  But I did turn over the right leaf, and there I found a huge community of bloggers who were deeply supportive of one another, with Dewey setting the example at every turn.  In fact, I think 80% of my current Google Reader list can be attributed to Dewey in one way or another!  

She organized and participated in challenges, reviewed books, headed up the 24-hour Read-a-thon and the Bookworms Carnival, not to mention the Weekly Geeks.  I don't know how she managed to do it all, but I was always impressed by her.  And I was always going to participate Next Time.  

If you visit The Hidden Side of a Leaf, it is easy to see how many people had become a part of Dewey's on-line community, and also how many of them considered Dewey a true friend, even though many of them had never met her in real life.  I can't remember where I heard this-some movie or something I think-but years ago I remember someone saying that when we leave this world, we will not be judged by who we loved but by who loved us.  It seems to me that Dewey was loved by an amazing group of people, both in the blogging world and in her real life (she paid a lovely tribute to her husband and her son in her "About Dewey" section).  She has been an inspiration to me and to so many others, and for that I will always be appreciative.  I have added the memorial button (courtesy of Bethany) to my sidebar as a tribute to a fellow blogger whom I admired.  

My deepest condolences to Dewey's family.  I am so very, very sorry for your loss.                     

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Life in Hawaii in a Nutshell


Yes, I have put most of those 92, 537 miles on myself in the last 5 years.  And, yes, I have really averaged 28 MPH the entire time.  For those of you without a calculator handy, that comes out to just over 3,304 hours in my car, or a little over 137 days!  I would complain, but I know people have spent more time than that on life rafts, and I'm pretty sure they didn't have McDonald's, air conditioning, or (mostly mediocre) radio stations to break up the trip.  Besides, when you are meandering along at 28 MPH, you have time to look at things like this:


You also have time to ponder things like: How did they get the ocean so flat?