Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 2011 Round Up

Click mosaic to biggify. Created using Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker.

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
Still plugging away at Wuthering Heights. Less than 50 pages to go. Still not enjoying it.

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
* TV Time: Was up very late one night not sleeping, so tried Franklin and Bash (it was okay; prefer Suits) and Memphis Beat (surprisingly good, though Alfre Woodard needs to work on her accent; might try it again). In Plain Sight is done for the season, with one final season to go. Still going with The Closer and Rizzoli & Isles. Watched LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers; not good for adults, but Luke loves it.
* New Films: another big list, so let's go with bullets again:
- Cowboys & Aliens: okay; seen better, seen worse
- Pride and Prejudice: Colin Firth version; stopped after 3 hours of it, not really "getting" it
- Despicable Me: a couple of cute moments, but mostly not my taste in humor
- Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the Second Dimension: really cute, lots of great touches and references to various episodes
- The Mark of Zorro: 1920 Douglas Fairbanks; interesting from a historical and technique perspective, but a little boring as a film
- West Side Story: Good, but a bit long. I had seen probably 70% of it in bits and pieces, but never the whole thing at one time.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief: not bad, better than much kiddie fare
- Knight and Day: not great, not bad; better than I expected (I did not have high hopes), and cuter than it had any right to be
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: um, okay.... truly a bizarre movie, but I'm sure the book is equally bizarre
- The A-Team: eh; some cute moments, but mostly just blah
* Old Favorites: An American Tail: Feival Goes West, How to Train Your Dragon, Psycho, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Chicago, Tron, Chicken Little, Robin Hood (Disney), The Dark Crystal, Stargate

What special days did I celebrate and how?
DH's birthday, just did cards (had been to a movie earlier in the week). Also sent little brother cards for his birthday.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
Don't really think there were any.

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
Don't really think there were any. (Yay!)

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
Don't really think there were any. (That's sad, but things were so crazy with school starting and the job thing.)

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
Tried the Keebler Samoa knock-offs; not perfect, but close enough for when you get a craving between cookie seasons. Also tried basmati rice, which is wonderful. Made a Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuit clone recipe; again, not perfect, but easy and in the ball park, and most importantly, Luke loved them!

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
Bought my first 2011 Christmas gifts! And the usual back to school stuff.

What were this month's disappointments or frustrations?
Had really super bad day, just total meltdown; apparently more stressed than I thought. But that stress resolved itself (and created a new kind) when I was offered a job!

What were my accomplishments this month?
I think the only 101 Things Item I completed was this one:

18. Watch Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth version; counts towards 30). After 3 hours of it, I simply gave up. I really don't see what the big deal is; I found it rather boring. I'm sure someone will say that I needed to see it through to the end, but I just wasn't feeling it, and I didn't feel it was worth sitting through another 4-5 hours.

I spent all my creative juices on Behavioropoly. It's working okay, though not as well as I hoped. Part of the problem is just remembering to actually do it with everything going on, particularly....

My new job! Not sure that's really an accomplishment, though in a way, I suppose it is, since it is basically good word of mouth from several people who got me the job (and I guess I earned/accomplished earning their good will). I start September 1.

I joined two free online "services." One is Spotify, basically a free cloud of music. I haven't used it a ton, but so far they've had everything I have searched for (primarily Broadway and Josh Groban). The other is Pinterest (blog post about it here), which is a "visual bookmarking sight." I am totally and completely in love, and I have already wasted spent countless hours there. So much good stuff! And I got my first physical stickers printed from GetGlue, which I am ridiculously proud of, LOL.

I've also been cooking a lot and quite enjoying the food, if not the cooking process itself. Restaurant food just doesn't taste as good as it used to. I guess that's an accomplishment! LOL I'm sure it contributed to the fact that I can now wear the shirts I bought back in the spring that shrank in the wash, to the point that I couldn't wear them in June. They fit great now. :-)

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

The primary Luke accomplishment was starting First Grade. We really liked his teacher on first impressions, and we've seen nothing so far to dissuade us from that opinion. His reading is coming along, though not as swiftly as I'd like. The desire/ability to pay attention is truly his biggest enemy.

Soccer practice has also started back for the Fall 2011 season. Only one practice so far, and it went okay. We have 5 kids returning from our previous team (4 of whom, including Luke, who are now on their 3rd team together; it is so nice to already know half the kids and the parents). The accomplishment will come over the coming months, with surviving twice a week practices! We shall see.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
It was hot hot hot this month, around 100F/38C (give or take) for more of the month than not. I also did not feel the Virginia earthquake, though some friends who work in high rises in downtown Atlanta reported feeling it.

Monthly Round Up courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Currently feeling: very very late with this update (posted Sept 25)

First Post-Melanoma Check

I had my first skin checkup today since the melanoma incident. I guess it shouldn't surprise me that there is a higher than average number of redheads sitting in the dermatology waiting room than you would usually find in the general population? LOL Everything looks fine. She didn't even find anything to biopsy or remove, and she complimented me for having made it through an entire Atlanta summer with virtually no tan. "Look at that beautiful pale skin!" Yeah, well, I still have a *little* bit of a tan (i.e. my arms aren't as pale as, say, my stomach, which never sees sunlight), but she was very pleased, which is all that really matters. I have to go back in 4-6 months, and if she doesn't find anything to remove at that visit, I can go into "maintenance mode."

She did, however, change her mind about the frequency of my maintenance visits. Originally I was told that I could eventually go to a one year cycle, if I could make it three years without having to have anything removed. After seeing me (and my ghostly yet freckled skin) again, she's decided that I simply have to be checked every six months for the rest of my life. ::sigh:: It's a bit of a pain, but certainly better than the alternative.

Currently feeling: like people need sunglasses to look at me!

Wordless Wednesday - August 31, 2011

Currently feeling: ready for a nap

Sunday, August 28, 2011


(This is just me talking about a new site I love. No one asked me to post this, and I'm not getting anything for it, other than hopefully new people to follow! LOL)

Have you heard about Pinterest? It is my current online obsession! LOL I believe it is generally referred to as a "visual bookmarking" site. When you find a webpage and/or image that you want to remember, you can "pin it" to your "boards" on Pinterest. The board will then store both the image (there must be an image, or you can't pin) *and* the originating link, so you can go back to where you found it. You can also add your own caption to make it easier to remember what and/or why you pinned that particular item. You can organize them into whatever boards you want and name them whatever you want. You can pin things that you find on the web, or you can see what other people are pinning and "repin" those items directly from their boards. If you find people whose tastes mimic yours, you can "follow" them (similar to friending on Facebook or following on Twitter) so you can easily see what your favorite folks are pinning.

At first, I didn't see the big deal. I have a bookmark file in my browser, isn't that good enough? But I have to tell you, being able to look at the pictures all grouped together is awesome! My favorite board holds recipe links. I can flip through the images and check out my notes, and find something new and yummy looking to try. But I have other boards as well. Fun crafts I'd like to make, cute hairstyles or shoes I'd like to try, super smart home ideas, great quotes. Then there are the "just dreaming" types of boards, like fun shoes or dresses I know I will never wear, or jewelry I love but can't afford. Just things to look at and dream.

Anyway, I believe you can only get in by invitation, which means you have to know someone, or you have to request one and wait for it to come via email. I requested one, and I was invited in less than 72 hours. Can't promise yours would be that quick, but mine was. I would offer to invite you, but the number of invites each member can issue is extremely limited, and I've already used mine. (Sorry!) Shouldn't take too long, though, if you go the website invite route. It is still more or less in beta, so it does have the occasional technical issues and it does go down from time to time, usually due to excessive traffic. It usually doesn't take long to get back on track, though.

But the main reason I wanted to post was to find out if any of you are on Pinterest. I'm always looking for new people to follow, so if you're on Pinterest, please leave me a comment with your link or username so I can find you! I'm moviemuse, of course.

I have to warn you, though, it is the world's biggest time suck! (I mean that in the best possible way, of course.) You think Twitter or Facebook are bad? They don't hold a candle to Pinterest for me. I could lose hours there without even realizing it, and I did the first few days! I now literally have to set a timer and limit myself so I don't get lost in cyberspace. But I am having a blast! So if you're looking for me online and can't find me, I'm probably lost on Pinterest.

Currently feeling: happily pinning my time away

Friday, August 26, 2011

Camera Cow

"Mommy, why is there a cow on my camera?"

It really is all about your perspective on the world, isn't it?

Currently feeling: moo

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - August 24, 2011

Currently feeling: that is one contented cat

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Operation Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuit Clone

You may recall that my son asked to go to Red Lobster recently, just for the biscuits! This prompted me to find a much cheaper alternative, because that is just too expensive to do very often, especially if what he wants is the biscuits and not the other food (though he will eat the shrimp). I knew there had to be some clone recipes out there, and I was not disappointed. I found three fairly distinct versions of it, ranging from out and out simple to much more complex. Figured I may as well start with the simple one and go from there.

I put one on Luke's plate this afternoon for lunch. "What's this?" What does it look like? "Bread." Any special kind of bread? ::shrugs shoulders:: Why don't you try it? I really expected him to balk, but he didn't. He sniffed it, then took a big bite. I wish I'd had a camera ready. His whole face lit up with a huge smile! So what do they taste like? "Red Lobster biscuits!" Are they good? ::flashes two thumbs up while chewing his third bite:: Mostly we figure that means yes.

They're not perfect, but they're in the ballpark. I imagine one of the more complex recipes I have would be closer to authentic, and I'll probably tinker a tiny bit with this recipe. But if he's happy with them the way they are, and they are dead simple to make (literally took 20 minutes from start to finish), then I'm happy to make them for him. He even asked if we could have them at his birthday party! LOL I'm sure that can be arranged.

So, score one for me (and the internet)! We can now make Red Lobster biscuits at home. The recipe I used is here. I used Bisquick, and I think I might mix half the garlic powder into the dough itself next time. But for a "quick and dirty" clone recipe, it is great.

Currently feeling: chef-ish

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Boston 2011 - Day 3, Part 2: Duck Boats

Previously: Boston 2011 - Day 3, Part 1: Freedom Trail, Part 1

After finishing the first part of the Freedom Trail, we headed back towards the hotel to pick up the Boston Duck Tour at Prudential. We didn't have Duck Boat tickets yet, since we didn't know exactly what time we would be finishing up with the post-lunch activities. As we were waiting for our tour to start, they asked to take our photo for purchase later. It turned out really great!

After taking our photo, we chatted with the photographer, discovering it was her first day at work. We asked how it was going, and she said not bad, though she wasn't looking forward to the warmer weather later in the week. She kept glancing at my husband's t-shirt, giving it a funny look. "Does your shirt say 'Browncoat'?" Yes it does.

(Image from, though his shirt came from ThinkGeek.)

"Shiny! You just totally made my day!!" I'm pretty sure Shiny is the Browncoat password! LOL We all had a good laugh about it, including my parents (also fans). I wish I'd thought to get a photo of her with my husband, but we started boarding about that time and she had to take everyone else's picture. Still, it was a nice little moment in our day. But as far as Luke was concerned, it was time for the main event!

Duck Boats, for anyone who may not know, are amphibious vehicles. They were originally designed for WWII, though most of the ones in use today are replicas. We did not do the Boston Duck tour in 2003 when we visited, and we were always sorry. They looked like great fun as you watched them drive around the city! Missing out actually promted us to take Luke to ride the Duck boats at Stone Mountain in 2009, and made it a must do for this Boston trip. Our boat in Boston was called Old Gloria, considered one of the most beautiful Ducks in the Boston fleet. (I actually took this photo myself later in the tour.)

Our conDUCKtor (that's their term!) was MacInQuack, and boy, was he a character! His bio from says:
MacInQuack’ s Scottish ancestors invented the game of golf and his parents were great golfers. MacInQuack just had to play golf. Unfortunately he was a horrible driver. One time he drove the ball into a tree, it bounced back and hit him in the head knocking him unconscious. When he finally woke up in the hospital his parents told him he better learn how to Drive the ball and to Duck! When MacInQuack finally came to his senses (this is questionable) he thought they said he better learn how to DRIVE a DUCK! So here he is loving beautiful Boston driving for Boston Duck Tours!

Most of the items on the tour were ones that we had just seen or would do later, so there actually aren't a zillion photos, believe it or not. We circled Beacon Hill, Boston Common, and the Public Gardens. We intended to go back later ourselves and get closer to Cheers, but we never did.

Note the statue of Washington in the Public Gardens is wearing his Bruins jersey. After the victory, both the jersey and Washington's sword were stolen! We also traveled most of the Freedom Trail, which allowed us to actually get some better shots of some destinations from earlier in the day, due to the sun finally shining and the height of the vehicle. These are the Massachusetts State House, King's Chapel, King's Chapel Burying Ground, and the Parker House (where we had eaten lunch earlier that day).

We also got some great shots of the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge, the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world. I think my husband (the bridge engineer) was more fascinated by it than everything else on the tour!

I posted that third picture because those were all the vehicles and news vans parked in the median near Boston Garden, preparing for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup playoffs later that night. Now, remember that Game 6 was in Vancouver, not Boston! The city was going absolutely nuts, and it was only to get worse.

But enough about land:

Let's get to the fun part, the water!

It doesn't really matter that I've done it twice now, it is still slightly frightening taking a wheeled vehicle and just driving it right into the water. Super cool, but a little scary. Anyway, we got some nice skyline shots.

You'll see that Citgo sign again later, though from a different angle. Anyone who watches baseball probably recognizes it, though. And here a couple of other landmarks. This is as close as we would get to either the Hatch Shell (where the Boston Pops perform for July 4) or the Bunker Hill Monument.

Again, we intended to hit the Hatch Shell (and Cheers) when we went to the Public Gardens, but it was not meant to be. I know it doesn't look like much from the back, but the inside is beautiful. Our intention was to recreate this photo from 2003 with Luke in it with us, but we never made it. It is my only regret about this trip, but we were just too dog tired that day!

(July 4, 2003, our 5th wedding anniversary)

But we did get a zillion photos of this bridge. This is the Longfellow Bridge, formerly known as the Cambridge Bridge. According to Wikipedia
Construction began in July 1900, the bridge opened on August 3, 1906, and was formally dedicated on July 31, 1907. The Cambridge Bridge was renamed as the Longfellow Bridge in 1927 by the Massachusetts General Court for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote about the West Boston Bridge in the poem "The Bridge", in 1845.

It is known locally as the "salt and pepper bridge" for the towers' obvious resemblance to table shakers. The seals above each ship are different, depending on which side of the river they are closer to: Boston or Cambridge.

The details on those ships are amazing, though. This first shot makes them look really flat.

But they're not, they are extremely dimensional. They are intended to look like Viking ships, honoring the supposed trip up the Charles River by Leif Ericson (a theory first proposed by a Harvard professor, according to our driver).

Here are some close up details.

The bridge is undergoing a ton of maintenance right now. There were these special metal plates hanging beneath the bridge to keep rust and debris from falling down on the Duck Boats. I took this shot just as we were coming out from under the bridge. Nice of the sailboat to add atmosphere!

Hey, anyone want to drive this thing? He thought you'd never ask! LOL (Luke had actually commented when we boarded, "maybe I can drive it!" But when we just nodded and said "maybe," he gave us the "yeah, right" look. Perhaps you should believe your parents sometimes, young padawan!)

The tour is about 90 minutes long (no stops, no getting on or off, though we did give Luke a snack). By the time we were back on land, Luke was really starting to fade. It had been a long day, expending lots of energy, and he'd been sitting for too long. At least we were dropped off less than two blocks from our hotel!

There was also an Uno's about another block up, so we popped in there for dinner before tucking in for the night. Dad got the Turkey Bacon Swiss, Mom had the Shrimp & Crab Fundoo, DH decided on the Personal Numero Uno, and I enjoyed the Mac & Three Cheese. We got Luke the kids thin cheese pizza, but he he didn't eat it at all. Not sure if he was just too tired or what. After that, we had to get him into bed, so we headed back to the hotel, while Mom and Dad went to the Public Library just around the corner. There would be a second excursion to the library later, so I'll save those pictures for then.

Currently feeling: just ducky