Alright, it’s been WAY too long since I posted. There’s really too much to try to catch up on but let me hit a few highlights and then get on to the here and now.

  • Emma’s in 7th grade. How did THAT happen? In the past couple of years she’s gone from her natural medium brunette to adding a pink streak to dying the whole thing auburn, to dark brown underneath with auburn on top to now: Gorgeous, isn’t she?
  • She’s also taken on rodeo! She’s learning barrel racing; has raced a couple of times but is in the process of trying to get her horse trained (or get a barrel horse). I wish we had the space for her to have a horse here but it’s just not in the cards…yet.
  • She’s still dancing a ton. She’s student teaching two classes and can’t wait to be old enough to teach on her own. Also dancing with the Ballet 6 girls and Ballet 5 girls. Christmas time saw her dancing the role of Tinselina in “Twas the Night Before Christmas” this year and her mom, yes…me…was the grandma/narrator! That was fun!

So…my catching up appears to be all about Emma. Hmmmm. Well, we ARE moving ahead on the kitchen remodel. Cabinets were painted; doors are in the process of being installed (required some modifications and even some made from scratch); and backsplash tile is up on half the kitchen. Still to do: remainder of the backsplash tile; paint the kitchen; install new floor. (Tim’s also promised to build some organizing slide-outs in some of the cabinets but once I have a new floor I’ll consider the kitchen remodeled!)  More photos on our Flickr.

  • And Tim had a birthday. For 27 days he was the same age as me!
  • Then, 26 days later Emma turned 13. Her party was a New Years Eve party and was a smash hit.  With a cool cake made by her mom:
  • and 3 days after Emma’s party, I had a birthday. Here’s the picture from my birthday: Do YOU see me in the picture? Didn’t think so.

And now….  I’m knitting a lot lately. I decided to join The Yarn Harlot’s Knitting Olympics. The goal is to knit something that will be a challenge for me to complete during the time the Olympics are ongoing. I cast on during the opening ceremonies and am about half way through after five days. Pretty pleased with myself.  I’m making Stefanie Japel’s “Back to School Vest” from her “Fitted Knits” book. It’s a quick knit but I’m glad to have all the information that’s available over on Ravelry. I am definitely going to make a couple of modifications to make it more wearable for me but I’ll write about those as they occur if they are successful!  I’ve got the gauge swatch done.  I’m knitting with some of Chasing Rainbows 50/50 Merino Mohair and it’s not only gorgeous to look at it’s heaven to knit with.

OK.  That should be enough for now. I’ll try to make future posts more interesting. Items coming up:

  • Emma and I are going to the SF Ballet this coming Sunday.
  • Emma has auditions for Sunny Brae’s musical “Beauty and the Beast” coming up this week.
  • I’ve been asked to help with the directing/acting coaching of the musical.
  • I’m going to have dinner with a friend from grad school that I haven’t seen in 25 years.
  • We’re planning a big vacation this year (if we can figure out schedules!)
  • Tim continues to play with Ukesperience and to make instruments.

Haven’t written in awhile.  Always think it takes too long.  It doesn’t.

But today I have something to share.  Forgive my pride.  At our last parent/teacher conference we were told Emma had been nominated for a special county wide award.  Today was the big day.


This is what her teacher wrote and was read at the ceremony:

Emma Jones is an extraordinary individual and serves as a model of leadership at Freshwater School.  Her dedication to doing her best is reflected in everything she does.  Emma’s perseverance and commitment to learn has resulted in her maintaining straight A’s each report card period for the last two years.

Emma is an inspiration to her peers because she herself is inspired.  Her interest in journalism, her lifelong passion in dance, and newly developing interest in horses are all sources that encourage her to learn and experience all she can.  Her motivation, discipline and ability to balanced several extra-curricular activities help her to be the well-balance student that she is.

Emma possesses strength in character that is rare at this age.  She is a strong advocate for others and will “do the right thing” no matter what.  Her compassion for all led her to play a key role in establishing a class fundraiser to benefit Betty Chinn’s work with the homeless this year.  The blending of all her aspirations has created a very remarkable young woman.

Synopsis: Emma is a well-rounded leader, who is motivated to achieve in many areas, be it in academics, dance or advocacy.  Emma is disciplined and compassionate and her achievements will enhance her life and the lives of others.  She has a bright and fulfilling future ahead of her.

So…it’s that time of year again!  The annual Halloween Party!  As BalletDaughter has gotten older we’ve allowed her to invite more kids.  Somehow it just seems that there’s “less” to do (fewer games, etc.) as the kids get older.  This year they are mostly 11, 12 (maybe 13) year olds.  In the past she has invited about 20 but only about 10 show up.  We’ve held it the weekend before Halloween because Halloween was on a weeknight.

THIS YEAR…Halloween is a Friday so it’s party time tomorrow!  And this year (with very little real thought on my part of the difference between child availablity on Halloween versus any old other night; or the blatant desire of parents to be rid of their kids in a safe and sane (??!!?!) environment on Halloween) we let her invite about 30 kids.  Silly me.  I assumed we’d get the usual half saying they couldn’t make it.  Silly, silly, silly me.  Crazy me.  Poor delusional, shoulda been kicked in the head, me.

So far approximately 22 kids have said they’d be here.  22.  TWENTY TWO!!!  And that’s not counting BalletDaughter!  We have a good sized living room but still.  I envision that scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, after the ball when the kids are rocking out.  They’re all crammed together hopping up and down.  (Actually, I bought that soundtrack so I could have that song for the kids!)  I have a few games ready but in actuality I suspect kids will come and go (they still want to trick or treat at this age) so we may just play a couple and have a costume contest.

I’m about half way through prepping the food.  Here’s the menu:

  • Witch Fingers
  • Ghoul Guts
  • SssssssLime Punch
  • Filet of Ghost with Goblin Guts
  • Backbone Rollups
  • Bat Wings
  • Ogre Skin
  • Butterscotch Bones
  • Bat Chips & Spiderweb Dip
  • Peanut Butter Eyeballs

There will be assorted other stuff too…candy rocks strewn about the table, bowls of M&Ms, candy corn, pretzel mix.

A few of my Plurk buddies have asked about recipes and though I know it’s close, if you can’t use any of this this year, think about next year.  Photos will follow after the party.  In the meantime, this is me:

WITCH FINGERS: Using PIllsbury breadsticks, I cut the sticks in half, prepare them, and then before baking flatten one end with a butter knife.  After they are cooked I spray lightly with green food color spray and put a drop of ketchup on the flat end and lay on a sliced almond.  Voila – witches fingers with bloody nails.

BAT CHIPS & SPIDERWEB DIP: Using bat shaped cookie cutter, cut bats out of flour tortillas, spray lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with whatever seasoning you like.  This year I’m using an assortment of Mexican related spices.  In the past I’ve made these with cinnamon and sugar!  Accompanying them is a dip with: Mix cream cheese and salsa and spread on a round plate.  Over this, but not going QUITE to the edge (so you can still see the cheese/salsa) layer guacamole.  Put some sour cream in a plastic bag, make a small snip off one corner and pipe a spiral onto the plate.  Drag a toothpick through the spirals to make a spiderweb!

BUTTERSCOTCH BONES: I made up Rice Kripy treats but before you dump in the cereal, add 3 tablespoons instant butterscotch pudding mix! (What a marvelous idea.  I can’t wait to make other versions of this!).  Spread the mixture (with the cereal, I’m assuming here that you know about making this treat!) on a half sheet pan and press out flat.  You want it about 1/2″ thick.  Chill, then cut out bone shapes with a cookie cutter.  Cool these and then melt equal parts butterscotch chips and vanilla chips, dip the flat side of the bones in the mixture, chill again to serve!

OGRE SKIN: Ha!  This one is great!  I made this for dinner and actually got BalletDaughter to eat a green leafy vegetable!  Take fresh chard, cut out the stems, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for about 10 minutes.  Turn them over and bake about 8-10 minutes longer.  They will brown and get very crispy!  And believe it or not – a veggie is YUMMMMM!

BAT WINGS:Easy peasy.  Go to Costco, buy BBQ chicken wings, heat and serve! (SOMETHING’s gotta require little to no work from me!)

BACKBONE ROLLUPS: Spread flour tortillas with softened cream cheese and layer on sliced meats, cheeses, veggie (whatever your little haunted heart desires).  Roll up and chill.  Slice into 1″ piece.  To serve, stack the pieces, each slighly off center of the other, to resemble the bones of the spine!

SSsssssLime Punch: I’m using lemonade mix and ginger ale, mixed with lime jello that has been set and then stirred up to be goopy!  I’m putting in the usual frozen hands, using blue jello for flavor and color and gummy worms frozen inside!  Adding flavor to the water keeps it from watering down the punch.  Be careful about what color you use for the hands ‘cuz you don’t want to change the color of the punch too much.  (I also added neon food color!)

FILET OF GHOST WITH GOBLIN GUTS: Cube of cream cheese covered with green pepper jelly.  (Hey, I never said I was clever!)

GHOUL GUTS: Spinach Dip.  (I was realizing there are only so many minutes in a day!)

PEANUT BUTTER EYEBALLS: 1C peanut butter; 6T butter (softened); 2C sifted powdered sugar.  Mix, form into balls and chill.  Melt 8 oz candy coating.  Dip balls to coat.  Dot colored (I used blue and purple) icing on the middle and set in M&M for pupil.  Chill again.  Add red gel squiggles for bloodshot!

I’ll let you know how it turns out.  (Now, what am I going to wear?? Costume?? Me??? We don’t need no stinking costumes!)

Ever since we moved to Eureka, Kiddlebiddle and I have taken one day of our summer visits to go to San Francisco.  When she was little it was the zoo.  A year later, Chinatown.  The next year, Fisherman’s Wharf.  Always touristy kind of stuff that could be done in a day.

This past year we’ve been to the city for very short overnights when we went to the ballet.  And as we drive through the city every three weeks on our “visit with Dad” drives, I’ve begun to think about showing her more of the city of my birth; the city I love dearly; where I went to college and where I lived for several happy years.

This year I decided to do just that.  At 11 she’s actually interested in learning more about mom’s history.  So I began a search for a reasonably priced hotel and was lucky enough to find  a package deal at what turned out to be a wonderful hotel!  The Galleria Park Hotel on Sutter, right in the financial district and just 3-4 blocks from Union Square (major shopping!) and Chinatown!  It was a FANTASTIC weekend!

First, the hotel was a renovated old building that was in outstanding shape and perfectly located.




in the lobby of the hotel

in the lobby of the hotel

On the way in to San Francisco Thursday afternoon, I took her by two of the places I had lived.  It’s been almost 20 years so though I knew where they were, finding my way wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped.  The trip down memory lane was pleasant for me and Kiddlebiddle seemed to enjoy it as well.  (more…)

Some of you know that my husband is a musician.  He plays bass guitar but lately (over the past couple of years) has been playing ukulele.  He and some friends formed a band, Ukesperience (  (Oh yeah…there’s a whole blog post about their trip to Hawaii! duh!)  Anyway, he also has started MAKING ukuleles.  He’s made a couple of bass ukuleles, and lap/slide ukulele and he recently finished the one he made for Kiddlebiddle (BalletDaughter).  Tonight he gave it to her and began her ukulele lessons.

First, she learned to tune it!

Then she learned a few chords:

Then they played a bit! 

She’s a very happy young lady!    Also pretty lucky.  It’s a very cool uke.  ‘Course, the others in the family weren’t too impressed:

Kiddlebiddle’s dance teacher has the most amazing ideas and choreography.  The show this year promises to be fantastic!  It’s not a “kids dance recital” but more of a themed dance concert, including adult professionals as well as the children from her school.  (She’s building her own dance company!)

This season it’s “Seascapes” and promises to be as fantastic as we can imagine.  Kiddlebiddle has three dances, one of them a solo.  She’s also appearing briefly in a couple of other scenes.  In her Latin dance class she’s a flying fish; in her ballet 4 she’s a lionfish, and her solo is as a manta ray. 

This time I am only involved in the design and construction of ONE set of costumes.  But what a doozy. 

 The ballet 4 girls are lionfish.  A lionfish is gorgeous! 

 So…how do you translate that into a costume?  You hand paint a white leotard (If there had been more time, the artist part of me would have liked to do more shades of red.  But farther on you’ll read why it’s pretty stark red and white.):

In order to paint on the leo, I had to stretch it over a mannequin and pin out the skirt to maintain tension.  Thank goodness for my blocking board and pins!

And how do you translate the spines of the lionfish?  Well…first I came up with the fins for them to hold (in class they had been holding paper plates).  Then…Erin wanted them to have a “mohawk” but couldn’t figure out quite how to make it work.  While I was putting together the fins, (and after DH cut tons of thin little pieces of wood – Michael’s didn’t have enough of the right size!), I realized that I should be able to set them in to foam; glue a horsehair strip on the bottom and provide some place for them to pin them to their hair.  The final piece of the “puzzle” is that I’m inserting some nude stretch mesh in the back of the costume (it has a deep “V” back) and then using velcro to add a spine down the back.  We rigged up a modified version for rehearsal today and boy…I must say, the costumes look fantastic!  (the spines in the following photos haven’t been painted yet.)  The choreography is strong and pretty amazing.  What’s going to be super cool – part of the dance is in black light and the white areas will glow (that’s why they’re as big as they are!)  I’ll post video after the show.  But these photos I took today will give you an idea.  Forgive the quality.  The lighting was dim and they were moving so much it was hard to get a shot.  But you’ll get the idea.  (Unfortunately, like the cobbler’s children…Kiddlebiddle’s costume wasn’t ready today!)  Enjoy!  (And wish me luck on finishing them tomorrow!)

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you that are mothers (of any sort!).  We have a rather traditional tradition in our family.  I’m not allowed out of bed (except for the bathroom) until Kiddlebiddle has served me breakfast and presented me with my gift.  For the past 7 years she’s had the help of my dear husband to make me breakfast.  I have a darling photo of him helping her break eggs when she was four years old.  But she’s 11 now…and HE made the whole breakfast!  I’m on weight watchers and they wanted to make me something I could eat so I found a Core recipe that was a bit more complicated than KB wanted to tackle.  (Though I’m sure she could have.)  So… 

Once she got up, she joined me in bed and we watched the last Indiana Jones movie while DH made this scruptious breakfast.  (It tasted and actually looked better than this photo shows.)  It was an egg and potato frittata, lite turkey sausage (2 points!), strawberries with yogurt, and a cappucino!  Yum! 

After breakfast, they presented me with my gift – a silver ring with KB’s name on it. 

I’m wearing it on my left hand, middle finger, next to my wedding ring.  My “engagement ring,” (which I got several years after we were married) is a blue topaz which is the birthstone of both DH and KB.  Although my hand is showing my age, I love the trio of rings.  (The wedding ring, which matches DH’s and a pendant we got for KB, is handmade with gold nuggets from the Truckee area of California.  DH lived there as a child and it’s absolutely gorgeous so there’s lots of sentimental meaning it it all.)

I’m still lounging around.  Decided not to get dressed today.  Apparently, lounging is the order of the day:

 Yaya (Sonya) joined us before I left the bed and apparently stayed for awhile. 

In other news…Kiddlebiddle didn’t win the talent contest last night.  She probably took the loss better than I did.  There were only five elementary school entries and I think the “cute” factor was what won over the judges.  The winners were a four piece “rock” band of fifth graders who performed a cover of a pop tune.  They were OK.  Now, I’m going to sound like a stage mother, but really…if you were judging a talent show, would you choose a band of cute little boys playing (not great…just playing…boom, cha, boom, cha, same rhythm over and over – and singing rather flat) a cover song, or one of the charming young singers with nice voices but little “movement,” i.e., stiff, or an 11 year old ballet dancer who choreographed her own piece and performed it well.  DH says that going the extra and writing your own work should count as quite a bit.  I agree.  I’ll post a video of the performance in a bit.

Anyway, she was fine.  She kept smiling while the award were given.


  That kid has grace (and I don’t mean the balletic kind, though she’s got that in spades!)  I am so proud of her!

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