December 30, 2013


Oh, I should be posting something about the holidays, but my heart is racing...

It has been announced that the 2014 International Symposium on ALS/MND will be in Brussels! Perhaps I will be so fortunate as to attend!  It would be hold double pleasure for me - a real professional highlight to join in on the single largest medical and scientific conference for ALS, as well as a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a corner of Europe.

A million details would have to fall into place to make this happen.  So many dreams, so many challenges.  =)

December 23, 2013

Simple Pleasures

The sun popped out just as we were sitting down to enjoy a hot cup of tea.  (Water, actually, but that's awfully boring, so let's just pretend I had the day's blend.)

A ray of sunshine.
A beautiful china teacup.
The fascinating movement of steam.

All simple pleasures that so easily get overlooked in this busy season.

December 20, 2013

No Pancake

Well, well, well.
She's such a great kid that we have to forgive her.


When I told her that we were so torn up about the thing that I even had the Bible study ladies praying about this, she felt terrible...but she was laughing her head off while apologizing!

She still has 12 days of being a teenager.  =)

December 19, 2013

Meet Pancakes


PS Anyone interested???!!


Daughter's text:
So what if i told you i got a shelter puppy...and im bringing her home for christmas as dads christmas present

hahahahahahahahahahah you r such a joker!

No, like seriously...

You know how much i adore and love animals and pound puppies steal my heart!  but we just cant have another dog. how about aunt jo?

Daughter's email response:
Subject:  Meet Pancakes

Today my friend Sally and I went to (the) animal shelter and met the love of our lives!  Pancakes, 5 months old, extremely sweet, very lovable.  Totally potty trained and has all shots and papers.  I'm bringing her home for just a couple of days so that Elsie can get acquainted with her before we find her a permanent home.  :)

Much love,

December 18, 2013

Christmas Cactus

Yes!  It's blooming again!

December 16, 2013

Felling a Big One

In Washington, we choose only the best, biggest trees!

It's only when they are brought into the house that one begins to wonder about the wisdom of such things.


December 13, 2013

Holiday Mom Stress

Ah, happy Friday, my friends!

For all of you who are behind on Christmas, take heart.  You are not alone!  There are no Christmas cookies in my freezer, not even a hint of shopping has been done, the tree is still living in the forest, the laundry is piling up, and work responsibilities are growing.  The only thing I can brag about is that I replaced the Thanksgiving candles in front of the window with the blooming Christmas cactus.

The traditional preparations are slow to come this year, but I'm convinced more than ever that enjoying good conversations and sharing lives is way more important.  The Mom Stress of orchestrating perfect traditions and memories comes at a high cost for me...and so this year I am seriously working on prioritizing the most important elements of the season.

And so I share with you my new plan.

2013 Christmas Resolutions
We will cut down our tree when we are ready and can enjoy ourselves.  
We will swap out chocolate chip cookies for gingerbread.  
We'll eat waffles with the new fancy schmancy waffle iron and play games and skate with socks on the neighbor's slippery new floor.
We will fill our home with laughter and love around a warm fire.
We will remember what we are celebrating.

December 12, 2013

Corn Bread

What goes with chili better than cornbread??!

We enjoyed a large dinner with good friends and I volunteered to bring the cornbread.  It's kinda sad if you think about it, but I consistently get more raves about this cornbread than just about anything else I make. The trick, no surprise, is to use totally fresh and high quality ingredients.  I have the luxury of grinding my own corn (popcorn has the best taste) and flour (soft winter wheat for this recipe).  If you prefer buying ingredients ready to go at the grocery store (like most of my friends, who I'm convinced think that I am a bit crazy!), just make sure to buy everything fresh...I'd recommend purchasing new bags of cornmeal and flour and freezing them until needed.  Don't forget the chopped corn. =)

Evidence that it's good:

Fresh Cornbread
2 c. finely ground cornmeal
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. sea salt
2 c. milk
2/3 c. canola oil
2 eggs
1 c. chopped or lightly smashed corn (fresh or frozen and thawed)

Mix well, place in large glass baking dish, at least 9" x 13".  Bake @ 400° x 20-30 mins until lightly browned.

December 11, 2013

Brooklyn Update

The phone pic arrived today.
Potential job here.
And he slipped, before hanging up: "I love you, too."

My heart is full!

December 10, 2013

Waffle Iron

Yes, I have a weakness for kitchen gadgets.

We also have a strict budget.

So it was a happy, long-awaited day when I ordered a very special waffle iron that I have had my eye on for many months.  It was on sale and came with free shipping.  Woohoo!  Beautifully made, it is nonstick but also PFOA and PTFE-free.

See that waffle peaking through?  It was marvelous!  Simply marvelous!

December 9, 2013

Bird Prints

The snow and ice arrived, followed by 11° nights, with another storm expected tonight.

It made for a 4-1/2 hour commute to work.  No typo!  Here in the Northwest, we can drive in the wind and rain like nobody's business.  But snow?  Everything comes to a sliding halt.

On a happier note, we enjoyed seeing evidence of our feathered friends.  =)

December 4, 2013

Scrabble Tiles

I recently found a duplicate set of Scrabble tiles in the game cupboard and I couldn't bear to put them away.

I also discovered some fun Scrabble tile art projects using Diamond Glaze.  But I'm not sure I can part with these old beauties.  Perhaps I will have to purchase new ones.

Aren't Z's great??

December 3, 2013

Comparing Lights

This is our view out the (rainy) window at the top of the stairs.  Our neighbor goes all out with his Christmas lights...and there's still more to come!  Who knew how many angels and deer and candles could fit on one house?!

I used to be intimidated by this, feeling our simple greenery bough on the front porch was silliness in comparison.  But like many things in life, we have learned that we cannot compare ourselves to the "Smiths" next door.  We now smile and enjoy our neighbor's hobby, knowing it brings him great pleasure - and also smile our our own, smaller traditions.  =)

December 2, 2013

French Meringue Buttercream Frosting

It was a memorable Thanksgiving here, with lots of kids and friends and eating and laughter.  After awhile it didn't matter what we ate - we were just together.  =)

We also celebrated my mother-in-law's 90th birthday, so it was time for something a little out of the ordinary. A 3-layered pumpkin cake did the trick.  I'm now really in love with 6 x 2" cake pans, which are way more interesting than the regular 2-layer pans.  I also tried my hand at a French meringue buttercream frosting.  It was fun to work with, but I must say, anything with 3 cubes of butter in it tastes like, well, butter!!