Wednesday, October 30, 2013



Donuts in the morning, legos in the afternoon, Star Wars in the evening, breakfast for dinner, triple chocolate brownies for dessert, and a candle to note the year, all his requests. We love you to the moon and back, little guy, and have enjoyed immensely these eight years with you. We can’t wait to learn what your future holds and cherish being able to journey with you.

Monday, October 28, 2013


This week's menu is a couple of stand-bys, a couple of new dishes, and a planned night of food brought in, as I won't be home until late Friday. It's the first of the month, and a busy one at work. But hey, at least I'll be in jeans, though I may be only an hour late and I could also be as many as three hours late. So, that night, yeah, I'm telling everyone to pick up some dinner and -- hopefully! -- save some for me. (Maybe a beer, too?)

I made the chicken-potpie pasta tonight and we really liked it. The recipe, to which I added about half a teaspoon of thyme and some mushrooms, made a large amount, and we all had seconds. I claimed the leftovers for my lunch tomorrow (and maybe the next day, too, since I doubt I'll be wolfing down the ~4 cups that were leftover in one sitting. (Woof.) I make the Marcella Hazan sauce to go with sausages and peppers, and then the leftover sauce will be in chili I'm making another night--no recipe for that; it's one of those things you just, ya know... make! Chili or spaghetti sauce is my traditional Halloween dinner, which is easy to make to have either before or after candy-begging time is over. Paul will probably pick up fried chicken, which is Carter's favorite for Friday, and I've been asked to make "breakfast for dinner" for Wednesday night dinner, which is also Carter's EIGHTH birthday! (He wants me to make "a ton" of sausage for him--breakfast sausage, one of his favorites.

Hope it's a great week on your stove!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Did you know the zig zag bridges in classic Zen gardens are designed to keep out evil spirits? At J.C. Raulston Arboretum the Japanese Garden is one of many theme gardens. Meant to be a place of contemplation and serenity, my family obviously could only stay for a brief while before the rascals among us grew restless.

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Carter loved the koi. He always loves koi.

Near the “Necessary” are a wonderful display of tender perennials, most of which had huge leaves and heady scents. Also, I think I want to call the bathroom the “necessary” from now on. How funny would that be, to be so delicate that I could only make the most vague of suggestions about certain “necessities?” After ~12 yrs of parenthood, I am constantly amazed by the things I will say now, so the mismatch of asking my kids if they need to visit the “necessary” amuses me. ;)

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And then there was the Rose Garden. I love roses, but have grown tired of their neediness. So, I’m not sure I’d be into having a full-on garden of roses… all the more reason to appreciate others’ gardens! Adjacent to the roses is grouping of marble statues called Italian Reflections, which was pretty. It’ll be nice to revisit the area in spring when the wisteria are blooming.

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This next photo is not so great, but it makes me laugh.

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A while back, Bunny told me, when I was standing in front of her combing her hair, that my armpits were “too deep.” I really don’t know how that even is a *thing* but well, as you can see… They are extra ‘pitty.’

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Friday, October 25, 2013


While the kids and I had a great time at Bass Lake Day, we knew we’d have to return soon with Paul to show him what a nice place the park is, and to explore beyond the small part we saw that day, which really was only one building and an adjacent grassy area.

There is a perimeter trail around the lake, amounting to about 1.5 miles, but at this time the trail does not fully circle the lake—sooo close—so hikers need to backtrack. (A map inside the nature center says the trail is meant to be completed in spring 2014 and needs one last bridge.)

I became mildly obsessed with the turtles found everywhere a decent sized log protrudes from the water.

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Seriously, the buggers were everywhere (well, everywhere logs popped up from water) and I just love the way their heads look.

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We also came across ample evidence of busy, busy beavers.

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Then Bunny became a little more than mildly obsessed with the concept that she could find a beaver, catch it, name “her” Mrs. Beaverson (and she added she didn’t care if it was a girl or not), and…. well, she didn’t have a plan beyond that. Good thing we never found a beaver.

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After we walked (almost) around the lake and then back again, we enjoyed a picnic on the verandah around the Visitor Center, Bunny and I went inside the Nature Center where the attendant kindly took out a hognose snake for us to see up close, and we spent some time hanging out on the dock in the late afternoon warmth.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013


It's been kind of gray--okay, it's been super gray here. Rainy. Bleh. So, I've been wanting soup... and tacos are a given. (almost always tacos, mmm.)

I made the chicken soup last night and added... KALE. (I put kale in half our meals. Hey, it's nutritious and in season!) The fried rice was never made last week so it's been pushed forward to this week. I made it once before, or as close a facsimile as I usually make, since I tend to think of recipes that are not pastry/baking as a general guideline, and the rice is yummy. I have a couple of salmon filet left from a large package of frozen salmon, which will be good for soup, and I may add some shredded cooked chicken to the bean/posole soup... The stroganoff is a favorite of Bunny's.

Monday, October 14, 2013


In the first couple of days of October, on our drive to school we noticed a sign up notifying everyone about a couple of Holly Springs community events. The first one was Bass Lake Day, coming up that weekend. The kids and I decided to swing by, figuring it’d probably be kind of lame, but worth a look-see nevertheless, since we’d been thinking about seeing what was at Bass Lake Park anyway. (I mean, really, it was a free event, and often those can be underwhelming, right?)

We were pleasantly surprised that it was a really well done event! Before going, I looked it up online and it was promised that a hawk would be there, as well as face painting and some music. They undersold by a mile.

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Walking in, we did see the hawk right away, and she was a very pretty girl.

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We learned she is named Sandy because she was found near Sanford about a year ago. She weighs about 4 pounds, and female hawks are larger than males, which would be a pound of so lighter. She was injured and had parasites when found, but nursed right back to health. The red anklets she wears protect her from squirrels, one of her main hunting prey, which apparently will fight like the dickens when caught. We spent about 15 minutes admiring this pretty girl.

The line for the free face painting was getting rather long, so we decided to head over and get our spots ASAP. It was fun to watch Belle and Prince Charming painting faces, and while it’s hard to wait in lines sometimes with 5 year-olds, I was happy to see that they really put their all into doing a great job and weren’t putting speed ahead of results – that would have made the wait less rewarding, for sure.

Cole had plenty of time to change his mind a few times about what he’d like to be, first thinking he’d like Batman, then a mummy, and finally Frankenstein’s Monster. Justine, the artist, quickly looked up an image and got right to work.

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Carter is generally happiest being just himself, thankyouverymuch, and so was not interested in any face painting. Bunny was, but was unsure if it was too babyish. She first said she’d like a rainbow unicorn, but then a girl ahead of her either had the same idea or heard her idea and liked it, ‘cuz, hey: rainbow unicorn!… at any rate, Bunny likes to be original and also thought maybe it was not mature enough for a middle schooler. Justine overheard her and was so sweet. She said she does adult parties sometimes and if Bunny would allow her some free reign, she thought she could give her a really nice bit of art that was more like a mask.

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Bunny was delighted with her new look!

A place about an hour away called Noah’s Landing also had an area for us to see. From afar it was hard to appreciate what a special group of pop-up tents this was. There were so many exotic creatures there not only to see, but also to handle.

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Bunny is definitely the most brave when it comes to handling exotics.

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We all would have loved to touch the 4 week-old coatimundi (sp??), but that was nearly the only animal we could only look at. The lucky handler seemed to enjoy wearing it, though. :)

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There also was plenty to see inside the building at Bass Lake Park. A naturalist group brought in a variety of bones we were able to handle: deer jawbones, antlers, skulls. There were also pelts and a oddly amusing “guess the poo” game…

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I thought this one was really interesting. It’s the jawbone of a yearling deer that is about to lose its baby teeth. You can see the new teeth about to cut.

There also were some examples of taxidermy on view. While I’m not a fan of sport hunting, we did appreciate the opportunity to see the really well-done work.

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Outside on the verandah there were inviting rockers, and the kids enjoyed some ice cream while looking at the lake and listening to a bluegrass group performing.

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By that point we’d been there nearly 3 hours, and there still were tents we had not visited. However, we agreed it was time to call it an afternoon. We also said it would be fun sometime to come back and rent a boat… maybe even try our hand at fishing (they have poles for loan!). Bass Lake Day was so much fun, we’re looking forward to Holly Fest later in the month.

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