Friday, October 24, 2014

bookie book talk

I'm not sure why I get so much pleasure out of this, but look! My library books match what I claim I'm reading, visible to you on the left.

Guess which one is for my work book club. Nope. Wrong. Guess which one is for my best-ever book club. OK, you may have gotten that one right. Maybe.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Kale Salad

A fine late-season salad, from my friend Beth. I know kale is ├╝ber trendy right now, but try this salad. It's super good.
Kale Salad
1 bunch of kale - curly is best
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. roasted sunflower seeds
salt & pepper to taste
2 T olive oil
1/2 fresh lemon, juiced
2 T honey
Cut kale away from stalk and chop finely. Toss kale in bowl with cranberries & sunflower seeds. Drizzle olive oil first, then add salt & pepper. Mix well. Then drizzle honey & lemon on salad and again, mix well. The more you mix, the softer the salad.
Beth says, "I sometimes make this salad on Sunday and eat it all week at lunch. It never gets soggy."

this image is from here

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Raising Monarchs

Say hello to Owen

Sometimes new hobbies just show up overnight, don’t they? There was discussion on Facebook about finding and raising monarchs, and I was bemoaning how I planted some milkweed two years ago and still hadn’t found any. Next thing I know, a friend drops two caterpillars off, and she and I find two more in my garden immediately. Then I found a bunch more. Then I gave some to friends to raise, since I figure if you are trying to save a species from extinction, you should definitely recruit members to your cause.
If you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend this book: How to raise monarch butterflies: a step-by-step guide for kids by Carol Pasternak.

Here’s who we found, in order of appearance in our lives:
  • Owen
  • Rosie (taken by the Nash family)
  • Daisy (taken by the Slusher family)
  • Sophie-Robert
  • Izzy (taken by the Long family)
  • Smally
  • Junior One
  • Junior Two
  • Stuccy
  • Beanie (Raised himself outside. Made a chrysalis on our bean teepee. Given to my dad as a birthday present.)
  • Buck
  • Timber
  • Flash
  • California (from an egg!)
  • Johnny Test (also from an egg! Born today!)

Junior One, Junior Two, and Stuccy
And a swallowtail named Ziggy. Still in chrysalis at press time. Rescued off some dying dill in my garden.
It’s amazing how quickly they grow up. From a tiny egg-dot to a caterpillar almost the size of your little finger in two weeks. At that point they eat around the clock and can finish off one and a half milkweed leaves a day! And those are big leaves. Then another 10-14 days in a chrysalis and VIOLA (ha), a butterfly that’s ready to party.

Beanie, cleverly hiding among the pole beans. That's him in the green with golden accents.

So go plant some milkweed. The flowers are pretty and smell nice and will attract all sorts of strange insects you’ve never seen in your garden before. Surely you have a bit of room behind the garage?

 Bon Voyage, Sophie-Robert!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Reading with apraxia

So, Nea is 10 now. She's having a great year at summer school (ESY). Finally a teacher who is teaching! He's reading real literature with them and introducing new concepts. He's doing fractions and teaching them about improper fractions using visual representations. Then he made some YouTube videos to show us parents what that means! Unbelievable.
This is, shockingly, Nea's 7th year in ESY (we skipped last year because we were traveling). And it's the first year I'm not disgusted with what a waste of time it is. She has always enjoyed going, though, and she gets a little speech therapy every week (45 minutes, half of her school year IEP amount), so we kept sending her.

At home we've been reading Junie B. Jones, gearing up for a book club with Nea's best friend, who lives across the street. Nea is reading chapter books! There was great rejoicing! And she's very excited about book group. Let me just tell you, when your friend helps motivate your child to read, that's the best kind of friend. Thank you, Beth! You are a gem.

Some people don't like Junie B. Jones books because they are written in the voice of a kindergartener with poor grammar. Poor past tense verbs, etc. What gets me is that the teacher doesn't know the difference between "good" and "well." So annoying. But if we weren't reading this book, I wouldn't know how well Nea understands adverbs! So instead of reading what the book says ("So listen very careful."), Nea reads, "So listen very carefully." And my heart sings.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Triathlon – end of an era

Well, I’m hanging up my swim cap, biking shoes, and running shorts. Not really, but I have vowed to stop the madness. No more triathlons. And I’m feeling just fine with that. I don’t enjoy the swim, and I don’t love the run. I can always sign up for a century bike ride if I feel the need for a goal.

I did almost as well this year as I did my first year. Less than a minute longer overall. I had a longer transition time in T1 (swim to bike transition). My swim was 4 seconds slower, bike leg was about 30 seconds slower, the run about 15 seconds slower. I did post a record T2, though! Transitioned from bike to run in just over 3 minutes. Go me. All in all, I’m in as good shape as I was 3 years ago, which is pretty good for a mid-40s person. And actually, my run was slightly faster than last year, which it damn well ought to be, with all the training I managed to fit in. All 3 years my run was 32 minutes and change. I'm not fast, but I’m really quite consistent.

Funniest moment: I nearly missed my starting wave for no good reason. Was puttering about, chatting with strangers. My orange-capped group was in the water, waiting for the horn, when I realized. So, bad start position, in the outside back. No wonder it was 4 seconds slower. Great weather, though. The water was in the 70s! I expected icebergs after the winter we just had, but it was nice. Glad not to have a wetsuit.

And although once again I was beaten by two women in their 70s, I did beat 5 women aged 17 and 18. So, ha. That’s something, anyway. And I’m proud to say that I am of average speed, among women who were in this sprint triathlon. A very friendly and enthusiastic group to be in, and I’m proud to have finished it three times. 

Here’s my proof.

Friday, June 6, 2014

What to wear to your triathlon

OK, I'm more excited about the race now. The weather looks a little crappy (68 degrees, rain possible), but I had a great bike/run workout this week, and swimming is a breeze, so it's all good. Started packing up stuff. I have fancy socks. They are labeled "L" and "R" so you know that's quality stuff. Recently bought new running shoes, bike odometer, googles, the shirt and shorts. I tested them all out. Should be good.

Here's my list:

Goggles (x2)
Neoprene Cap
Water Bottles (filled)
Sports bra
Bike (important!) with pump and spare tube
Cycling shoes
Running shoes
Hair tie
Clothing to change into post-race, sandals
Two towels (one to stand on, one to dry)
Snack, Gatorade
Disposable warm clothing for waiting to start
Map, info sheet
Plastic bags
Cell phone
Race number, timing chip with strap
Bucket to sit on (shut up. I'm old now.)
Bike computer

Make your own here:
Triathlon race checklist

Apparently, all the cool kids will be wearing wetsuits (as usual), but I have once again decided that since this is my last! triathlon! EVER!!! there is no point in buying one.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sixth Annual Trash Pick

OMG. The trash pick. I thought it was going to be a total wash, as the weather was 39 degrees and raining. Boo hiss. I missed last year’s -- wah wah oh the humanity. So, I steeled myself, dressed in about a dozen layers, and waded into the fray. More or less. You know, because I have to Rescue the Goods from Landfill.

Before I start, though, the best near-miss was a gorgeous antiquey-looking globe on a floor stand. Timing is everything in this game. The woman who got it was jumping up and down in glee. I congratulated her. It was fabulous. Shortly thereafter, I saw an SUV with someone standing very far out of the sunroof. That’s not safe, I said to myself, before realizing that it was a Justin Bieber cutout. I laughed, but it looked like an accident waiting to happen. Which really is part of trash pick night. The driving? Not safe. Everyone is casing the curb, and you have to be careful both when hopping out of the minivan to check a pile and just generally when trying to decide whether to turn or go straight at the next intersection.

Here in the first photo, we see a lovely oval planter that I hoped would fit in the oval basket next to it (from a different house) but it didn’t. The heartbreak of trashpicking. Between them, webbed swimming gloves. Then 3 new water bottles, a cashmere scarf, a funky fleece hat, a super cool aluminum Christmas tree, and a planter. And a desktop skeeball game, which proved very popular with the kids.

As always, one of the first finds is the best, with a concrete hedgehog. Ain’t he a beaut. Also a basket that I selected partially for the $29.95 price tag still attached. I find the rabbit Beanie baby, cast iron chick, and brass watering can cute.

Not the book haul of past years (I blame the rain), but some excellent titles. And a puzzle and 3 sets of goggles. And a red Coach belt.

(Don’t mind the garage wall.) OK, let’s talk about the oak Crate and Barrel wine rack. I confess that friends gave us first dibs before throwing it to the curb. The crazy lamp on the left was Boo’s pick – she’s wanted that style of lamp for years. In true good neighbor fashion, people had covered it in a clear plastic bag to protect it from the elements. The strange bowl-on-a-stick makes a fine fern holder, according to the nice woman who had just placed it on the curb. Next to it is a hydrangea, a wastebasket holding a Build A Bear bunny, 4 wide-mouthed canning jars, a candlestick, a picture frame, two watering cans for the school garden, and a (international sign of hospitality) wooden pineapple puzzle. On the wine rack are two small rugs that pretty much didn’t touch the ground as they were put to the curb. I was right there. (I ran them through the wash today and they are lovely. Don't worry; I used the delicate setting.) And on them are two pairs of Justice jeans, a hot item for the tweenie set.

This tub I grabbed as seen, with some bats, skates, a few other sports items, and a giant spider for Halloween fun.

Some candle stuff. A cool leaf dish.

OK, and I’ve saved the best items for last. This Steiff bear, paper tag still attached, was in a garbage bag. Now, I know it sounds crazy, but when I picked up the bag, I knew something good was inside. There were some other stuffed animals, Gund and stuff. But I had this weird vibe, and I was right. Steiff goes for some big bucks, so he came home with me.

And lastly. An Eileen Fisher 100% cashmere sweater. Yup. Not pictured: two black cashmere sweaters and a handmade Irish sweater size XXL that I hope Oma will find a good home for. Many knitters are willing to unravel and reuse quality wool. But this one? This one is mine. I washed it, and it fits perfectly!

Here are the two planters and hydrangea after fixing them up.