Monday, March 30, 2009

Feathered Friend

I was abruptly awakened this morning by M shouting for me. It seems a bird somehow got into the house, and was desperately trying to escape through a window on the stairway (one that doesn't open at all). In my PJs, I dashed out to the garage for the butterfly net, and eventually guided the bird back down the stairs to the family room. He promptly made a beeline for the sliding glass door, slammed into the wall head first, and knocked himself out on the floor. After shooing away the dogs, I scooped him up and took him outside. His eyes were open, but he was clearly stunned, so I held him for a while until he finally flew away into a tree.

B and I searched through our field guide, and the bird that looked most like our friend was a house finch. If anyone reading this knows something about birds, we'd love to know if we got it right:

Still not sure how he got INTO the house. M thinks he came through the hole in the ceiling (DH removed the drywall that was water-damaged in the last storm, and he's waiting for everything to dry out before repairing it).


M participated in an in-house fencing tournament at his fencing school today, and won second place! The last two or three tournaments, he placed near the bottom of the field, so he wasn't expecting to do so well today. However, he did mention to me a few weeks ago that he had decided to start listening to what the coaches were telling him to do, rather than just jabbing away wildly..

I nearly missed the whole thing--I sang at church this morning, so I didn't arrive at the fencing school until noon. When I came in the door, I looked around for M, and eventually identified him as one of the two fencers bouting (all the kids look alike from the back, dressed in white fencing outfits with masks on, but the shoes and socks looked right). After the first bout, one of the coaches saw me and led me to a better viewing position so I could watch my son fence in the gold medal match:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Break

It's a glorious spring day: 70 degrees outside right now, blue sky, and I have the day off from work. I'm not sure WHY I have the day off from work--it says "Administrative Holiday" on the calendar. (Not that I'm complaining!)

It would be even nicer if the various educational institutions in the area could get their spring breaks synchronized. DH has spring break this week, which means he's not getting up early to teach that 8:00 am class. The kids are out early today, and off all next week, but their afterschool activities (ballet & fencing) break the week after next.

In garden news, the pink daffodils I planted last fall have started to bloom, and last night the first Dutch iris of the season opened (about a week earlier than last year).


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mom's Taxi Service

2:52 Left to pick up B from school (by car). Discovered road being paved right in front of school, traffic down to one lane, major delays in both directions. Should have walked.

3:12 Returned home with B.

3:15 DH called. Left to pick him up from BART station.

3:22 Picked up DH.

3:30 Picked up M and rest of carpool from middle school.

3:55 Returned home with DH & M.

4:05 Left home with M for his piano lesson.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Flowers That Bloom In The Spring

Current mental soundtrack: from The Mikado, by Gilbert & Sullivan:

The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la,
Breathe promise of merry sunshine —
As we merrily dance and we sing, tra la,
We welcome the hope that they bring, tra la,
Of a summer of roses and wine,
Of a summer of roses and wine.
And that's what we mean when we say that a thing
Is welcome as flowers that bloom in the spring.
Tra la la la la, tra la la la la,
The flowers that bloom in the spring.

In honor of the first day of spring, the first of the bulbs I planted last fall have bloomed:

The pink daffodils haven't opened yet, but it looks like it will be very soon. And some of the lilies are starting to poke out of the ground.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Three P's

1. Mr. P
Today B and I went to see her music teacher, Mr. P., perform in Seussical. It was a great show, and the entire audience was kids and parents from her school. I'm really impressed by people who do theater in their "spare time": rehearsing five nights a week on top of a day job is not easy!

2. Poppy
It's hard to take pictures of a dog! I know it's a little blurry, but this is the best one so far.

3. Petits Fours
I finished the petits fours for tomorrow's Voci fundraiser. They look pretty good for a first try, but they're a little on the bland side (vanilla cake, one layer of vanilla buttercream, and vanilla coating). Maybe next time I'll try something more flavorful.

Both kids also commented on the red ones looking like little cheeses: maybe red wasn't the best choice for the ganache. It seemed to fit with the "Flame of Love" theme of the fundraiser, but I guess in the future I'll stick to pink.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

All in an Evening's Work

Tonight I baked about a hundred heart-shaped mini-cupcakes for the Voci fundraiser on Sunday. They're going to become petits fours (I hope!). It took forever, because I was too cheap to buy more than one little pan (each pan makes twelve mini-cupcakes). I also folded several loads of laundry (didn't quite finish all of them), and decorated M's T-shirt with a pi. This year, Pi Day falls on a Saturday, so M's school is celebrating tomorrow. In math class, every student will get their own apple pi(e), and M's teacher is offering extra credit for showing up in a pi shirt.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Poppy came home with us yesterday, but I haven't managed to get a good photo of her yet. She's a six-month-old shepherd mix, black and tan, and very sweet. We found her at the Oakland SPCA, where she had been turned in as a stray.

Coda wasn't too sure what to think about all this yesterday, but today they played together for a little while. I think this will be very good for Coda--she has turned into a couch potato because we don't exercise her often enough. Poppy is a speedy dog, and I ended their first play session today because Coda was looking worn out from all that running!

B has ordered me to bring Poppy to school today when I pick her up. A lot of her friends have been getting new puppies recently, and she wants to show hers off, too. It's going to be a fun walk, as Poppy doesn't have leash manners yet--based on our brief walk yesterday, it looks like I'll be dragged up the hill to the school at a pretty rapid pace!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Daylight Savings Snooooze

Time to set all those clocks forward and change the smoke alarm batteries. Everything has a clock now. So far, I've counted five clocks in just the kitchen!

We finally got around to making a trip to the animal shelter today, in search of a puppy to keep Coda company during the day. Actually, we ended up visiting three shelters. The first one had no puppies, so they sent us to the one across the street, which had a litter of cute little cocker spaniels. We passed on those (adorable, but we were looking for something else), and made our way to the Oakland SPCA. Our trip was slowed considerably by the TWO rollover accidents involving red SUVs: I joked with DH that if we had been driving a red SUV, I would have pulled over at that point and taken BART home! On the way to Oakland, someone brought up the question of exactly what age was the cutoff to be considered a puppy. DH and the kids finally settled on six months. Lo and behold, we found a lovely six-month-old shepherd mix in Oakland. Because of the traffic issues, we arrived 15 minutes before closing, so we'll have to go back tomorrow (with Coda!) to start the adoption process.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Rain Has Gone...

Do you think it has anything to do with the fact that B's new raincoat arrived today?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Okay, I know we need the rain, but I need to it go away for a couple of days so DH and I can fix the leak in the family room. It started about two weeks ago when we had one of those storms where the rain comes in sideways--I think it worked its way under the roof. Since then, we've had a lovely hole in our family room ceiling.

I had a pickup rehearsal/help session for Voci members tonight, and interestingly enough, two of the four singers that came also had leaks from that storm. I guess I can't complain about ours--one of them has a new leak over the bed in the master bedroom, which has got to be much more inconvenient!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Coffee and Chocolate

Concert weekend is over--those of you not in the Bay Area missed a FABULOUS Mozart Requiem performance! Now it's time to get back to regular life again.

For the post-concert reception, I experimented with coffee buttercream on chocolate cupcakes. The cupcakes themselves were from a boxed mix, but the icing was a success--M thought it tasted just like coffee ice cream. I topped each cupcake with a dark-chocolate-covered espresso bean.

Coffee Buttercream
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 lb powdered sugar
2 1/2 tsp coffee syrup*
1 1/2 Tbsp water

Cream butter and shortening together. Add sugar, syrup, and water. Blend until creamy.

*Coffee syrup: Dissolve 3 Tbsp espresso powder in 1 Tbsp boiling water. Stir until dissolved.