Sunday, November 30, 2008

No Turkey Today

Current mental soundtrack: "A Hymn to the Virgin," by Benjamin Britten

A nice, relaxing weekend. On Saturday, we spent an hour or two raking leaves and cleaning the gutters, but that was the only thing resembling work that we did.

I started off today by going to church (subbing in the choir). After an hour of so of singing lovely music, I picked up the family and we headed over to San Francisco to meet up with my sister and parents. The plan was to go to the newly remodeled California Academy of Sciences. For those of you planning a visit, I have one piece of advice: buy a ticket in advance! After driving around Golden Gate Park for a while, we found a parking space, and strolled through the park to the Academy. It was about 1:30 pm, and they had already sold out for the entire day! We opted to walk across the street and visit the DeYoung Museum (our kids' favorite museum).

For dinner, we went to Ton Kiang, our new favorite Chinese restaurant. We had a feast: the Peking duck was the best we've ever had (crispy skin, tender meat), and we also had crab, squid, spareribs, shrimp, and potstickers. Yum!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turkey, Again

Current mental soundtrack: "Mack the Knife"

Tonight was the first of several turkey-based meals to come. (Last night was microwaved leftovers, which doesn't really count). I got this recipe from an online friend, and modified it to suit our tastes. It's become very popular in our household:

Turkey Pot Pie
2 cups diced cooked turkey
2 cans mixed vegetables [I like Vegall Original, because it has potatoes. You can also use frozen]
2 cans turkey gravy
1 can buttermilk biscuits [I usually buy two, because everyone wants extra biscuits]

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine turkey, vegetables, and gravy in a 2-quart casserole. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove biscuits from can and split each in half. Place biscuit halves on top of turkey mixture, and bake as directed on biscuit can. Serve with extra biscuits

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Current mental soundtrack: the Wii Sports theme (guess what the kids are doing?)

My family has a tradition of going shopping on Black Friday every year. We don't buy a lot of stuff, but we pick up a couple of things on sale, do a lot of window shopping, and have a nice lunch together. DH thinks we're insane, so we leave him at home :-)

The parking garage seemed a bit emptier this year than usual, although it's hard to tell: at 9:45 am, I drove up to the seventh floor and found it nearly empty. The mall wasn't too crowded during the morning, and we were actually able to get a table at the food court at noon without waiting too long (no longer than we would have waited on a regular weekend shopping day). By the time we finished our trip, there were a lot more people out shopping, so maybe things picked up in the afternoon.

I didn't buy anything really frivolous this year. I picked up a nice pair of socks and some underwear for myself, and a new pair of dress shoes for B (since she's outgrown her old ones). My parents did buy some more expensive items: Christmas presents for my sister and me. B found some little decorations for her Crocs, and my mom bought a pair of tennis shoes.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Night Of Thanksgiving

Current mental soundtrack: "Rosa Mystica," from A.M.D.G., by Benjamin Britten

'Tis the night of Thanksgiving,
And here in our nest,
DH is settling down
To a well-deserved rest!

The children are nestled
All snug with the dog,
Dreaming visions of video games,
While I sit and blog.

The dishes are done, [thanks, DH & Mom!]
Stock's bubbling in the pot,
I don't know how much I ate,
But I'm sure it was a lot!

With apologies to Clement Moore :-)

Happy Turkey Day!

I was even more disorganized this year than usual, and Thanksgiving somehow crept up on me before I got around to sending out the usual invitations to stray grad students and friends. So, it's just my family this year: parents, sister, DH, and the kids. Of course, I don't actually know how to downsize my menu, so I suspect we will be eating Thanksgiving leftovers for the next year :-)

Our menu is pretty traditional:
  • roast turkey

  • sage stuffing (made from white bread}

  • mashed potatoes

  • gravy

  • cranberry sauce (both jellied and whole berry)

  • green bean casserole

  • pumpkin pie with whipped cream

Some years we've tried sweet potatoes (the ones with the gooey marshmallows on top), but I think we won't be needing them this year!

Have a GREAT Thanksgiving, and try not to eat too much!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Death March

Weekends just fly by around here! On Saturday, DH had to go to a work retreat, so he wasn't able to take M to The Big Game (Cal vs. Stanford). Fortunately, my parents are here for Thanksgiving, and my dad was interested in attending. So, we left the house at 10:00 am on Saturday, dropped B off for her pre-ballet class (she's a teaching assistant), then parked the car on campus. I got M and Dad started in the right direction, then Mom and I walked back to the ballet school to pick up B (on game days, parking in Berkeley is at a premium, so I didn't want to move the car). The three of us then walked to lunch, walked back to the car, and walked back to the ballet school for Nutcracker rehearsal. Finally, a last trip to the car (we hiked over four miles that day), where we hung out until the game was over. After a quick trip to Costco to pick up pizza and groceries, we finally arrived home around 5:30.

It was a good weekend for our football teams: Cal beat Stanford, and Harvard beat Yale :-)

Yesterday, we raked a small mountain of leaves. The green bin was stuffed full, and we had five or six bags of leaves left over, which are now parked next to my compost pile. After a quick trip to the grocery store, my sister came over for dinner, then I sprinted out the door to Voci rehearsal. It's a lot more rushed when rehearsal starts at 7:00 rather than 7:30--I was still scrambling to get my music in order during the first half of the rehearsal!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And Around Again...

Today's destination of choice was M's middle school. Dropped off the carpool just before 8:45 am. Picked M up at 1:30 to go to the orthodontist (he got his braces off today!). Took M back to school at 2:30. Picked up the carpool at 3:30.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Round And Round We Go

Four trips to the elementary school today! DH did the first trip, dropping B off for school at 8:00. I was next, picking her up at 12:20 (they're on an abbreviated schedule this week for parent-teacher conferences). We went back at 1:45 for B's 2:00 audition for the spring musical, and also stopped by the book fair. Last trip was DH and I at 4:00, for B's conference.

At 5:00, B and I left our house for the trip to the ballet school in Berkeley (normally about 20 minutes). I drove through town, made a right onto the freeway onramp, and discovered that traffic was at a dead stop. It took another 10 minutes to make my way around the cloverleaf (finally driving on the shoulder with the other cars that were trying to exit the mess) and leave the freeway. We made a U-turn and decided to attempt one of the other routes over the hills, but traffic on the main road was so backed up (presumably because of the freeway problem) that we had still not managed to leave town at 5:25! At that point we decided to make another U-turn and just go home, as B informed me that students who arrive too late for class are not allowed to participate.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shades of Beige

Since B has moved up to Level 4 at her ballet school, she is now required to add foundation and powder to her makeup kit for the Nutcracker. We stopped by the drugstore on Thursday, and were completely overwhelmed by the selection there! We spent about ten minutes trying to figure out whether she would look better in Creamy Ivory, Golden Bisque, Neutral Buff, or another one of the million shades out there. We finally gave up, and decided to visit a department store today. A little pricier, but bringing home the wrong color from the drugstore could end up costing quite a bit, too.

Is there a method for choosing the right color at the drugstore? Other than buying more than one color and taking them home to try on? I have to admit that I know very little about makeup. I wear it for performances, but I order my foundation and powder from Zhen, a company that specializes in makeup for Asian skin. (And I remember spending way too long about a decade ago, holding the catalog up to my face with my mom and sister, so I could figure out which of Zhen's six shades I should order.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lessons Learned Today

1. Although Corelle dinnerware is generally break- and chip-resistant, dropping a stack of bowls onto a tile floor creates a spectacular mess with little tiny slivers of glass all over the kitchen. (Only the bottom bowl in the stack of three broke, so I guess it does live up to its claim.)
Shadow Iris Corelle

2. Homemade macaroni and cheese has to be made with whole milk: skim milk gives it a weird, grainy texture, and no one will eat it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thundering Ballerinas

Last night, while waiting for B to finish ballet class, I was sitting on the stairs outside the classroom. B's class was rehearsing their part for the Nutcracker next month. I was listening with half an ear to the music (the part that builds up three times before finally climaxing at the growing of the Christmas tree). Very pretty music. Suddenly, the mood was interrupted by what sounded like a herd of elephants! I'll bet you never knew about the elephants in the Nutcracker :-) (Okay, they're really soldiers, still learning the funny way that the soldiers are supposed to run.)

That section of the music always reminds me of the Nutcrackers I sang with the Boston Ballet in college. The growing Christmas tree was always our cue to quietly file out and prepare to sing in the next scene, so that music is firmly embedded in my mind.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekends Aren't Long Enough

The kids have a four-day weekend: tomorrow is Veteran's Day, today is a staff development day. I'm currently waiting for them to get out of bed (yes, it's almost 10:00 am here), and wishing that I could have a four-day weekend, too. I have enough stuff to do to fill up a bunch of four-day weekends!

This weekend was taken up by a Sacred & Profane retreat (all day Saturday), a lab party (Saturday night), sleeping in on Sunday (woohoo!), and planting 30 daffodils on Sunday afternoon. Oh, and the ninth load of laundry for the weekend is in the washer right now. At least I get tomorrow off--maybe I can catch up on some of those projects!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Did You Vote Today?

DH and I voted on the way to work this morning. I spent quite a bit of time yesterday afternoon studying the twelve state propositions on the ballot. Voting in California is a little strange--there are always a bunch of propositions on the ballot that I don't think should be there. I'd rather just vote for our legislators, and let them study the chicken-farming industry instead of everyone in the state voting on the size of chicken cages!

At least we don't live in San Francisco--they have an additional twenty-two local propositions on their ballot, including attempts to decriminalize prostitution and to rename a sewage plant after our current president.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

SimCity 4

I took advantage of the extra hour last night, and stayed up late playing SimCity 4. M bought the game a while ago, but I haven't had enough time to really sit down and play it until now. DH and I both enjoyed the original SimCity, but haven't really played any of the sequels. My experience with the original came in handy last night, as M was VERY impressed that I was able to put together a functioning city from the beginning! It's hard to impress an eleven-year-old boy in the video game arena!