Monday, November 30, 2009

Breaker, Breaker

In the late 70's, that was CB talk. I never had a CB radio but many high school classmates did.

Now in the late 00's, "breaker breaker" now means to me that something has tripped the circuit breakers in our house. This has been happening frequently in the last month. Unfortunately, most of our circuit breaker box is still labeled from whoever lived here 25+ years ago. (Except for the work our Exceptional Electrician did... if it's written on top of white out, it's accurate.)

Twice in the past month, Frank has come downstairs to ask, "Is the power off?" No. After a close inspection, we determined breaker #15 was tripped. Just barely. It wasn't in the "off" position, it was just slightly off of "on." So now we know breaker #15 is most of his lights.

Tonight, I was turning on the back porch light when a bulb blew. It blew so hard it tripped another breaker. Also out were: the other porch light, interior garage light, kitchen and dining room lights. And since the garage light was out, the breaker box was really hard to read. We flipped a few that were labeled as garage, kitchen, etc., then I actually noticed that one was off. Breaker #6a. "garupstairskitlights." Which I have now also labeled as porch, garage, kitchen and dining room lights.

Should I care? Should I relabel? I would have to turn off the whole house, and then flip the circuits on one by one. (We watched Jurassic Park the other night...that gave me the idea.)

Or I could just keep the element of fun and adventure. Get a flashlight kids, and let's play with the box!

As long as it's not the refrigerator that's off!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Usual Suspects

A few weeks ago, I took a day off work to drive and chaperone a CJSF field trip. Yes, I am one of those crazy mothers without which field trips would not happen. I don't have a mini-van, so I am limited to 4 kids, My personal mental limit, I tell you!

Ernest rounded up what I called The Usual Suspects, the same gang we drove to the Steinbeck Center last spring.

There were the usual hijinks and high spirits, but to tell the truth I really have a great time with these kids. They are smart, funny and good-natured.

But I digress...where did we go? Maybe you guessed from the picture?

The Queen Mary!

We highly recommend you stay away from the front deck when these babies blow! We were taken by surprise at 10:00, but when our tour ended up on the deck at noon we knew to hold our ears. Everyone else had heart attacks.

Gorgeous day. We had a historical tour of the boat, lunch was included, and then the Ghosts and Legends tour.

Wow. What a nice day. And what a nice kid here. "Mom, I can take our picture. I got good at that in Europe."

After the tours, each parent-led group was on their own. We chose to visit the Russian Scorpion submarine. I bought the tickets...I wasn't sure how much money everyone had and I didn't want to ask or embarass anyone. (Wise idea, as it turned out one guy had only $2.) They loved the sub! After several hours of "don't touch," they got to put their hands on everything, and fiddle with the periscope, and climb in the bunks. They are getting too tall to be submariners. (There was a photo of the crew -- the sub commander was 6'5" but the rest of the crew was about a foot shorter!)

Interesting traffic on the way home...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


This is for the Women's Colony Gratitude photo challenge.

Gratitude...for my family and other beautiful things.

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(Yes that is Donny in the second row -- closing night of Beauty and the Beast.)

Pie Day

Today was PIE preparation day here in the Smalltown Mom household.

I am thankful that my sons like to make pies.

Ernest's preparations...

And the result (I swear, that pie is smiling at me!)...

Frank's handy helper...

And his final product...

Yes, they make their crusts from scratch.

My Thanksgiving menu tends to be pretty basic: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, vegetable, salad, cranberry sauce and rolls, plus the pies of course!

Last year I made these green beans from The Half-Assed Kitchen (love that name!) and they were excellent. It's the french-fried onions. We'll be having those again.

Every once in a while I try out something new -- I'm thinking of Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin from Smitten Kitchen. But that means another trip to the store. Should I go for it? I could make it today. If we have a leftover buffet for dinner (or if I just throw them away), there will be enough room in the refrigerator!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gingerbread Pancakes

I made the most delicious gingerbread pancakes this morning from a recipe at Family Style Food.

Here's Frank's embellishment! Looks just like IHOP.

They were also good with maple syrup. I think we'll be having these often.

The only change I made to the recipe was to substitute maple syrup for molasses, because I didn't have any molasses. I haven't had molasses in the cupboard in years. I don't think it mattered.

What's cooking in your kitchen?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Merry Christmas to Me

My Handy Husband and I were just discussing Christmas gifts, and in the course of the conversation I asked him, "Should I just shop for myself?"

And my goodness, the enthusiasm of his response: "That's a GREAT IDEA." I haven't heard him so happy in a long time. Really, it was like I had given him the gift.

So I shopped here.

And boy, did I shop.

He asked for it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bullet List

  • I back out past Frank's car every day.
  • I notice a spot.
  • What is it?
  • I watched The Godfather and Scarface recently.
  • The spot looks like a bullet hole.

  • Where would he get a bullet hole?
  • He hasn't been anywhere dangerous.
  • I look more closely.
  • I touch it.

  • Bird poo.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Here's Ernest at his piano recital. We shopped in the MENS department at Macy's for this shirt.

I repeat, the MENS department.

And he says he shaved, too.

I'd be lamenting the loss of the little boy if I wasn't so besotted with the big one.

Does anyone need some size 12-14 boys clothes? We've got some barely used handmedowns.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I have previously confessed that sometimes I buy wine just for the label. Sometimes I get lucky. Sometimes I don't. The Mambo Italiano was pretty good, but these halloweenish wines were not.

I'll never learn. And Life would be so boring if I did.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Ernest told me his 8th grade history class was learning the preamble to the constitution. So I started singing this, which was pretty horrible since I can't sing:

For those of you my age (cough cough) wasn't Schoolhouse Rock great?

I had to explain to Ernest that Saturday mornings were the acme of children's TV. Life without SpongeBob at all hours? Inconceivable.

Up until I was 10, we had one channel. Thank goodness it was the channel that got Dark Shadows at 3:00 every day. I remember reruns of Winky Dink, but I never got the Magic Screen.

When we moved into a real house the spring I was 10, my mother broke the bank and got a color TV and cable. Wow! 13 channels. How amazing was that????? Saturday mornings in color, that was the life. Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo. And Schoolhouse Rock. I was paralyzed with delight.

There was a great block of shows on ABC Friday nights: The Brady Bunch, Nanny and the Professor, The Partridge Family. But even with cable the local affiliate made a bizarre programming choice to show movies like the Nun's Story instead and I had to wait till Sunday when they finally played my fun shows!

(I will not discuss the time my mother promised we would get HBO and reneged, because I don't like to dwell in the past.)

Please, tell me about your favorite childhood TV show.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Thursday was a Big day in the Smalltown Household, Because Ernest got his Braces off.




Thursday, November 12, 2009

Man vs. Woman

I swear, breakdowns in my house usually*** come in threes: The stuck computer button on Tuesday, which Frank fixed. The leaking water heater Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. And the dead internet connection Wednesday afternoon.

Now there's a man/woman story about the water heater. My husband goes to bed. Not a peep. After Dancing with the Stars, I go to the bathroom and SQUISH, step onto a bathmat soaked with water. I clean up the mess and lay a towel down, just in case. At 4 a.m. he goes to the bathroom. Not a peep. Since I am now awake, I go to the bathroom too, and SQUISH, step onto the towel now completely soaked with water. I clean up again, and lay a new towel down. He gets up at 7, not a peep, but when I get up a few minutes later, guess what? SQUISH again and I clean up the mess a third time. To his credit, he takes the morning off to go to Home Depot for a new water heater. But to just leave the water there on the floor? If I hadn't kept cleaning it up, we would have had to wade to the toilet and the water would have spread to the bedroom carpet.

The internet problem? It happened right before Frank and I went to the movies. When we got back, I fixed it myself. (Reset modem for the third time and reboot computer.)

***I said "usually." We got off easy with the refrigerator...nothing else broke down at the same time!!! Unless...we categorize...that would mean we are due for 1 more computer issue and one more appliance issue. I don't want to think about that!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thankful Suspicions

I'm thankful for a lot of things in my life, but today I was specifically thankful for Frank. Because the computer's power button was pushed in and stuck, and he got it unstuck. It's nice to have Handy Sons as well as a Handy Husband.

My little computer crisis interrupted Frank's laundry process. He was washing not only clothes, but sheets and towels as well. Since he's not known for his housekeeping, I wonder what is up??? I'm always suspecting an ulterior motive.

There I go, being both thankful and suspicious.

So here's an option for you: What are you thankful for, or what are you suspicious about this week?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

If You Give A Boy, Volume 3

If you give a boy (this time, my great-nephew) a power washer, he may create art in your driveway.

If he creates art, it may start as a happy face.

If it starts as a happy face, it may morph.

If it morphs, it may become a jester. With glasses.

If it becomes a jester with glasses, it may later get washed away, just for the fun of it.

Sad for me, it is all gone. But there is another half of the driveway that is still dirty.

McQueen, please come back and make some more ephemeral art.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Speaking of Fruit Salad

This is the glorious fruit salad masterpiece that one or two flies we were buzzing about on Sunday afternoon:

I had nothing to do with this awesome creation.

She says I gave her the idea, but my beloved niece ran with it and made it her own.

The family was quite impressed.

Martha* away, my dear.

*definition: v. to create incredible projects that impress the rest of us

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Flyswatting, or Carnage in the Kitchen

We had a barbecue Sunday afternoon and left the door open. I noticed a few flies buzzing around the fruit salad, but nothing like what I found Monday morning, when we were inundated with flies. These are the first 18 victims.

Ernest swatted 7 more, bringing the morning's total up to 25. After lunch, I swatted at least another 25. They kept on coming and we kept on swatting. We might have been up to 75 total by dinner time. Ernest reports that squashing them with a science textbook did not work.

So, where was my legion of spiders when I needed them? Those lazy spiders only caught 2.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Hippie Hooray

While my standard fall-back costume is Poppins or a gypsy/pirate wench, Ernest's favorite (since he's had long hair) is the hippie. It's acceptable for school, and easy to march in when the band plays in the school parade.

But this year he wanted to try something different in the evening. So he dressed as a Monty Python flasher, with a BOO sign underneath his trench coat. However, he came home halfway through the evening saying, "People just don't get it," and went back to the tie-dye.

I say, "Don't mess with a good thing."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


A number of years ago, I fell in love with a Mary Poppins umbrella from the Disney Store.

I just love Mary Poppins. I've seen the movie, read all the books, and even been to the Broadway show. One cold Halloween evening five years ago, we were going to a street fair and I wanted a warm costume. The beloved umbrella, black boots, white blouse, blue sweater and skirt, pink scarf, gloves, and a tape measure...remember when Mary measures the children?

Well begun is half done! The hat took a little doing -- but I had a small black straw hat of my mother's, and I added paper daisies and apple stickers in lieu of cherries (thank goodness for scrapbooking supplies).

Over the years, I've upgraded a few accessories. I found a replica of the movie hat and scarf on eBay.

And just a couple months ago, some inexpensive old fashioned boots at Costume Express. But I think my Poppins has loosened up over the years! She looks much more relaxed now.

She's California-ized! Because it was hot here!

Remember, her special word does include Cali.


Monday, November 02, 2009


For the Women's Colony Green Picture Challenge...

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Click on the mosaic to make it bigger! It's better that way!

Clockwise from top left:

millstones in the garden at Mission San Diego de Alcala
the cemetary at Normandy (photo by Ernest)
gorilla amongst greenery at the Santa Barbara Zoo (sadly most of the greenery got cropped out)
the Handy Husband's Jolly Green Giant aka shuffleboard table
graffiti cacti at San Diego Old Town
a mossy cave at Blarney Castle, Ireland
volunteer green tomatoes
Ernest behind a green leaf on a 6th grade field trip
and in the center, the Niki St. Phalle sculpture garden in Escondido.

I just started doing these color things. My personal rule, just for myself only, is to try to find pictures from my archives. If red or yellow comes up next, I am set!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloweened OUT!

I was a lazy babe last night, and convinced my household to bolt the door and turn out the lights. No Halloween for 3/4 of us, although we did watch my favorite zombie movies: Shaun of the Dead, Fido, and Night of the Living Dead

The best zombie-smashing scene ever?

But truly, I was already Halloweened-out by the events at school on Friday. I somehow managed to hit each classroom for their respective parties. I was the queen of pin the face on the pumpkin, and had my usual internal rant about appropriate goodies (3 trays of the same grocery store cookies in the same class).

The most innovative treat? The watermelon jack-o-lantern with fruit skewer hair. That mom went all out. She was also there all morning, helping dress kids and serve the snacks. There were a lot of wonderful parents helping out!

The most awkward treat? The heavy glass dish of "mud pie" (chocolate pudding, gummy worms, oreo crumbs, and skull candy), sent with NO serving utensil and not enough skulls to go around. As I slopped it onto the plates with a tiny plastic spoon, I fielded the whines of "I wanted a skull." That mud pie would have been great in individual baking cups.

I was the original Super Nanny, and I'll talk about my Poppins obsession in another post.