Friday, December 31, 2010


Banished Word List

Dear BFFs: I just had an epic a-ha moment. Here's the back story with all the wow factor. If you google or facebook it, it could go viral. It's time for the american people to man up, live life to the fullest and refudiate the mama grizzlies' fail. I'm just sayin.

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

An Alternative Charlie Brown Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas to everyone...

from Medium Large...

That plant reminds me of our cat.

She'll have lots of ham and turkey to snack on soon.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pies Galore

It's been a pielicious month in the Smalltown household.

First, there were chicken pot pies, creatively using up various leftovers.
I knew I would have a use for the little aluminum pans someday!
Frank made 2 batches of dough; I put together the filling.
We ended up with 8 little pies.

With a beautiful golden glow from the egg wash.

There was enough dough left for a small pie.
Frank chose apple cranberry, and baked it in my grandmother's little pan.
(I once had a bigger pan of hers but broke it while serving a cheesecake.
I did save the cheesecake.)

Most recently we had a blueberry pie for the Handy Husband's birthday.
That is made in one of my classic Watkins pie pans.

That white lump in the bowl in the foreground? I had a Close Encounter with the whipped cream.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Strange Shapes

Some strangely shaped packages have appeared next to the tree.

They wouldn't quite fit under it.

I think they bear my name!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rainy Day No. 5

We've got puddles in front.

The creek's flowing in back.

Things are dripping.

Hey, when did the olive tree decide to have olives? I would swear it's never had olives before.

Monday, December 20, 2010


As my husband walked in the house, I read aloud a Yahoo news title, "Where does eggnog come from?"

"Naugahyde," he said.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hunkering Down

It's not always sunny in California. We are at the beginning of a predicted WEEK of rain. And what perfect timing, since school vacation just started!

So the Handy Husband is curled up by the fire with the cat, the sons are curled up by the TV with their laptops, and I am working on the Christmas cards.

What do you like to do when you are housebound on an inclement day?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Home Tour 2010 Edition

Come hell or high water, as my mother used to say, I am going to get this Holiday Homes Tour ready.

I put out the Christmas pillows. I confess, they are out all year but are tossed in different spots. I put them all in the same spot but the cat prefers Handy's nice wool sweater.

Handy was busy in the garage, so he was excused from getting the tree. Frank and Ernest put the stand on and carried it in, and Frank took over his dad's job of putting on the lights.

However, no one wanted to decorate it so I just did a half-assed job. I did hang the pre-school heirloom angels. I've seen those on someone else's tree.

There are tons of sad little ornaments waiting in the boxes. Maybe this weekend. I used to always make Handy hang the beer and barbecue themed ornaments.

This is the one ornament Ernest hung. I had no idea it was his favorite.

Mostly, I just put old decorations in new places. These are right behind the couch where Frank or Ernest could easily WHACK them WHILST playing WoW. The big one lost his sword last year. Note to self: find teeny tiny nail to reaffix said sword.

Most of the presents are wrapped and under the tree. I am waiting for a [redacted] to arrive for nephew McQueen, otherwise I think everything else is there. Note gift wrap coordination:
  • blue/polar bears = gifts for Ernest
  • green = gifts for Frank...he actually asked for socks this year but I swear there's something a little bit nicer than that
  • poinsettias = gifts for Handy (and his birthday is TODAY, so imagine how imaginative I have to be at Christmas)
  • newspaper = gifts from the cat -- she only had a $1.50 budget! She was a good shopper.
  • no color assigned yet for the mom = Yes, I wonder too??? Something has been built in the garage.

I dithered about Christmas Cards, whining that I didn't have a decent picture of us, until I finally remembered that YES, we had a picture from Ernest's graduation. Thanks to Shutterfly, the cards arrived today.

Then I was consumed by the Secret Santa at work. Most years, no one tells me about it until it is too late. This year, the teacher told me on time so I was able to participate. I used that ransom note look to keep it mysterious.

You can see I am seriously into chopping up bits of paper, probably thanks to my project...

My Recession Wreath is just awesome, if I say so myself. Newspaper, cardboard from a frozen pizza, Magic Marker, elderly watercolors and school glue left over from some other project. Plus some clear gloss spray paint, to weatherproof it. Everything found around the house.

Even the Regular Wreath got some Recession Snowflakes. I was tired of my Star Wars theme. (Although I'm never tired of Star Wars (Episodes 4-6). The real ones. But I digress.)

And TA DA --- The Recession Wreath's adjunct, the Recession Tree. Lousy picture, and when is Ernest EVER going to move that Taj Mahal? When he does move it, I'm going to take hopefully better pictures. Really, this is just the most charming little downsized decluttered tree I could have ever imagined.

I'm in love with its simplicity. Tomato cage, green spray paint, a strand of lights, and newspaper ornaments. It's Frank's inspiration -- when I was making wreath wannabes, he said, "We should put them on the tree." And so it goes...

It's the Charlie Browniest.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Best Wishes, Warm Thoughts, and all of that jazz to you and yours.

Much love from the Smalltown Mom family!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Working on my Wreath

I am hard[ly] at work on my Recession Wreath (can I trademark that, Cheri?) and its adjunct, the Recession Tree.

But they may not be ready in time for Jen's Holiday Home Tour. Heck, the rest of my house may not even be ready. Some of you wonderful overachievers may be decorated already, but since my husband's birthday is the 17th, we are in birthday mode till then. That's my excuse and I am sticking to it. (And no, the cake is not planned yet.)

But I am working on the Christmas. It doesn't help that I am the only one decorating the tree (the real tree, not the Recession Tree). Ernest hung one ornament, after this exchange.

Would you please put something on the tree?
Maybe this weekend...
What's your favorite ornament?
I like the Cheshire Cat.
So go hang it.
I'll do it on the weekend.
[Mom digs in the box.]
Here. Do it now.

I swear, would holidays even happen if I weren't around????

Monday, December 13, 2010

If You Give a Bear...

If you give a bear a home for the weekend, he'll want a ride back to school on Monday.

Meet Bernard. He lives in Mrs. R's classroom.

Last weekend, my nephew was the lucky student who got Bernard. His mom was not so lucky. She had to carry Bernard home. It was a heavy load to bear. So I offered to give Bernard a ride back on Monday. I could bearly get the seat belt around him.

It was a grizzly experience.

(Help me out here -- can you think of any other unbearable puns?)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Just Call Me Edna

Yesterday I spotted a fifth grader wearing a superhero cape while playing handball. Immediately, visions of cape-related accidents ran through my head. So I asked him to take it off.

Actual conversation:

"Please take off the cape. It's not safe."
"But Mr. P. gave it to me. He said it would give me superpowers."
"Haven't you seen the Incredibles? No capes. "

Just call me Edna Mode.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

So I Tried A Different Tactic This Year

Last year, I let my husband off the hook and shopped for myself. I enjoyed it and got myself some incredibly lovely pretty things.

But that seemed to be far too easy on my husband. So this year I asked him for a few homemade things that I have been wanting, longing, pining for a long time. He says I never asked for them before but I disagree with that.

There's one strange thing that's been missing on our house since we bought it almost 23 years ago and I've often complained about it... (If I get it, I'll write about it.)

Those of you who know my handy husband know that his homemade stuff is quite awesome. It has involved lots of wood, sawdust (tracked all over the black rug), bent metal, help from tall male children (that's the only kind I have), and that all seems to be a good thing.

One thing has been built already and stashed away I-do-not-know-where so at least I will have a surprise somehow!!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Is There a Laundry Goddess Out There?

Because I need help!

I have an adorable white sweater which inexplicably became discolored on the lower arms after I washed it. Well, not inexplicably. It appears to have had a reaction wherever my skin touched it -- a reaction to sunscreen? It's 80% cotton, 20% nylon. I know you can't use regular bleach on nylon.

I've tried Clorox 2, Woolite, borax, and am headed to the store for some Oxyclean next. If that fails, lemon juice and sunlight.

Any other suggestions?

Monday, December 06, 2010


Saturday was our Christmas parade. Ernest played guitar for the elementary school's group of carolers. It was hard to catch him in action from across the street, but I got a lucky shot!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Serving up the Bird

I hope your Thanksgiving went better than Snoopy's...

Our dinner was served at 6:00 so I had the whole day for crises to occur. Fortunately, nothing happened, unlike last year.

(I got my bad juju this morning, when the toilet backed up. There's nothing like unsuccessfully plunging a toilet full of poo to make your day start off on the wrong foot.)

But the good luck on Thanksgiving day continued and I got the traditional "boy with olives" picture.

Other boys learned new tricks.

I made a low budget harvest wreath.

Now Frank wants to make all our Christmas decorations out of newspaper. Maybe he should have his own bachelor tree in the man cave.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Marching to His Own Beat...or razor

It may be No Shave November or Novembeard or Beardvember or Movember for some, but not for Frank. He marches to his own beat. And so, he decided to shave.

And then he slightly regretted it because his face was cold. I think the beard will be regrown before the end of the month. If not the Guy Fawkes look, probably a Van Dyke.

And I remembered a book that his Bearded Handy Grandpa (my dad) sent to Frank many years ago...

I hope Frank's beard runs home soon. I miss it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


When I picked Ernest up at school Friday afternoon, he was wearing this:

(He declined to pose for the picture so the cat was conscripted.)

He wasn't the only student wearing a foil hat. Were they afraid of aliens reading their thoughts?

No, but if they wore one they got free ice cream.

I guess they'll do anything for free ice cream.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What is your Quest?

It's only his first day of vacation and already Ernest is bored. He doesn't like any of the fun quests I have suggested for him:
  • take all his shoes upstairs
  • bring down his sheets to wash
  • pick up the trash and dishes in his room
What's wrong with those? He's just going to have to think of something on his own.

Meanwhile, my quest for the day was to find out what was making that stinking smell in the refrigerator. It wasn't any kind of leftovers. I'm really good about cleaning them out, after all my childhood traumas of mistakenly opening my aunt's stinky cheese containers. I pulled out everything, including the shelves, and found some suspicious pink dribbles along the shelf tracks. Aha! Stinky meat juice. I have washed the entire interior and it is clean, organized and ready to be stuffed full of Thanksgiving goodies.

But then my nose was overly sensitive, and I could smell the garbage, so I also cleaned out the cabinet under the sink. I see in the picture I forgot the toe kick so it's back on hands and knees for me.

WHAT... is your quest?
And more trivially, WHAT... is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Revisiting the Deathly Hallows

With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows opening at midnight,
I thought I'd revisit another midnight.

The book release party at midnight, July 21, 2007.
Ernest was the first person in our small town to get his copy.
He won the book and the first-in-line privilege at a school auction.
That beautiful young woman between us?
She's a dearest friend's daughter.
She bought her first Harry Potter book at that store.
She had to return for the last one.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Daily Drive: Close Call

I learned something on the dark drive home from Hogwarts Tuesday night.

A deer running across the road does not prance like this.

It is simply a silvery brown blur in the headlights.

I didn't even see it coming. If Ernest hadn't seen the first deer run across the road and called out "DEER," I would have hit the second deer for sure. With his warning, I slowed and the deer flashed by me about 5 feet in front of the car.

Funny thing, it was just around the bend from the haunted house...