Tuesday, December 16, 2008


R (who is 5) said to me the other day while laughing hysterically, "Have you ever seen yourself sneeze and blow your remarkable teeth out?"


G (who is almost 3) said, "7, 8, 9, 11".
I said, "What about 10?"
He replied, "10 is in the bathroom," at which point he started a full belly laugh.

They crack me up.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Anniversary / Birthday - Take Two

My blog turned two on November 27, 2008. I look back on my past year and see that...I blogged less this year than I did last year. Which is ok, really. My life has been very full and really, it wasn't that much less. I asked last year what my focus should be. And you know, I don't know that I really got more focused. But as I said before, that is ok. My husband thinks that Facebook may be the death of personal blogging. It is an interesting theory. If you are microblogging your status on Facebook or using Twitter, what need do you have to expand / expound?

I am still holding relatively steady with the ideas that I don't want to create a lot of stuff and I want to try to eliminate stuff from my life. I did paint 3 pictures this past year. Two were "laundry room art" (who says your laundry room has to be a boring place) for our laundry room. One was a sunflower that I painted for my friend's 40th birthday. I went to her house the other day and she has it hanging in her dining room. That made me happy.

I have been creating more music which to me doesn't fall into the category of "stuff". More exciting news there to come at a later date.

Thanks again for reading my blog. Do you know what my blog wants for its birthday / anniversary? For you to leave more comments please!

Have a good year!

P.S. Here are the blogs that I read on a regular basis (or at least as often as they post):

101 Cookbooks
bite my cookie
Bob's Photo Blog
Cheap Like Me
Eric Magnuson
Farmer Scrub's blog
Gene Ehrbar's [TBD]
Green Options
ikea hacker (1)
SeeingGreen (TM)
The Favorite Aunt
Unclutterer (1)
Will's Thoughtstream

Thursday, November 27, 2008


While on one hand, Thanksgiving is my favorite "food holiday" (followed closely by Halloween - yeah baby), on the other hand; it is also a day of gratitude. There are so many things to be thankful for. I am thankful for every member of my family (nuclear and extended). I am thankful for my friends, my cat, and my lovely house. I am thankful for my job which is challenging and interesting. I am thankful to live in a world where Obama will be the next president and the hope that brings. I am thankful that I didn't get booed out of my living room when I played the first song I ever wrote on my bass guitar for our guests. I am thankful to be alive.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Closing the Political Gap

Ok. The election is over. People are ecstatic. People are inconsolable. Everyone has an opinion.

This election was interesting for many reasons and here are two. One, voter turnout was the highest in 44 years. Two, we elected an African-American president. Here are some quotes from world leaders about Obama's win.

But, now what? Politics is divisive. People pick a side and they are passionate about that side. How do we now close the gap that we created? How can we find a way to be one United States?

I am not asking rhetorical questions here. I really want to know what you are thinking. How can we come together? Share your thoughts on how to cross political boundaries and work together to create a country using hope. I look forward to reading them. And I will share my ideas as well in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Exercise your right to VOTE!!!

I know the lines are long. I know they make it difficult. But it is your right to vote and you should exercise that right.

I don't even care who you vote for (well, maybe a tiny bit). The important thing is that you make your choices known.


Need more encouragement? Go here and read the quotes about how long people would be willing to wait in line to vote: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/11/4/9502/47563/225/651666

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sushi Train

Yesterday we took the family to Sushiland which is a sushi place with a conveyor belt which the kids call the "sushi train". It was a mad frenzy of plates flying as the kids jockeyed for position to get their favorites. We finally had to physically move G away from the conveyor belt since he kept picking things he wouldn't even try.

Winner of the "best sushi eater" of the evening? A surprising L ate 8 tobbiko sushi pieces. What is tobbiko you ask? Flying fish roe. My son, who won't eat anything except pasta and toast, gustily devoured 8 tobbiko sushi pieces. Amazing. Guess we will be going there again...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Good intentions

Back in June I made a weekly appointment with myself to keep working on clutter. I figured that if I spent 30 minutes a week on going through boxes, I would get through everything by October. Sigh. Here we are in October and while I know that I have made progress*, I have not made it through everything. Maybe I would have gotten farther along if my whole world hadn't imploded**.

Today I moved some book cases into my office which got a whole bunch of stuff off the floor. All well and good except I still need to go through most of it. But at least it looks pretty!

* Both yesterday and today I got rid of a entire car trunks full of stuff (consignment, Goodwill, plastics recycling, etc.). That is two entire car trunks full of stuff! Gone!

** New job, search for new nanny, new nanny, travel, speaking on multiple panels, planning events at work. Whew!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty: Blog Action Day

Last year I wrote a post for Blog Action Day about the environment. This year the topic is poverty. Imagine you could help someone who was poverty stricken to build a life where money was a rule instead of an exception. Well, guess what? You can! You can loan as little as $25 to finance an entrepreneur. Kiva.org makes it easy to do person-to-person loans. You get to see a photo of the person (or people) you are making a loan to as well as what he or she is planning to do with the money. And this is not charity - you are not giving people money. You are giving them a monetary loan. That is right, a loan. And the majority of loans are paid back.

I just made a loan. How about you go and make one, too? If you do, let me know in the comments!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Omnivore's List of 100 Things Eaten or Not

Here’s what I want you to do:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Mark any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos Rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush.
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle (love truffled anything)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (are you kidding???)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float (love this with vanilla vodka...)
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail (my dad loved this)
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S'mores
62. Sweetbreads - Would never even try this.
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis - Nope - not going there.
69. Fried plantain (One of my favorite things. Ever.)
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette - Nope - count me out for this one, too.
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini (YUM)
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict (had this for my last birthday - thanks W)
83. Pocky (ditto)
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (Don't drink coffee).
100. Snake

I scored a 64/100. What about you?

Monday, September 8, 2008

G's chocolate

Background: A few years ago my wonderful father-in-law sent me the most amazing chocolate cake from NYC. It was so thick it was like fudge. Amazing. Then, they actually started carrying it in our local grocery store (how weird is that?). W got one for my birthday last week. We ate part of it and then froze the rest. This morning, W sends me this exchange:

R yells, “I am going to eat my chocolate."
So then G yells, “I am going to eat my chocolate."
G runs into the kitchen, and I hear the freezer slamming open.
Then the refrigerator slamming open.
And G yells, “I am taking my chocolate and putting it in the refrigerator.”
And I walk in, and see him moving your chocolate cake from the freezer into the refrigerator.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Spider Hatch

Ok - imagine for a moment you are in your bed, looking up, and see a teeny spider dropping a thread down from your ceiling. Now multiply that by 20. It was like the spider paratroopers were coming to capture our bed. After frantically doing a "kill the spider dance" * on our bed and fibbing to our daughter ("it's nothing honey, just some dirt on the ceiling"), there are still spiders coming. I guess they hatched in the light fixture and neither W nor I are willing to open it up and check. Would you?

After several spiders fell on our bed, we pulled all the sheets and blankets off and will probably not sleep here tonight. I am sitting sentry and have killed another dozen** teeny spiders.

This is a true story and the sad part is that it appears to be a metaphor for my entire week. Er, um, I am not even sure what that means...just that I have had a hellish week.

* On the bottom floor of our house, in front of the kids, we use a spider ambulance and capture the spiders and then release them outside. In the bedrooms, we squish them.

** Make that 14.

Monday, September 1, 2008


We let the kids watch about 1 hour of video per week. Last week at the Oregon Coast, we let them watch 2 hours of video in the form of "Finding Nemo". They had never seen that movie before and we have since spent a lot of time talking about the characters. One character they really like is "Crush". I have been imitating Crush and my 2.5 year old twin boys have been doing it right back to me. All morning they have been saying to me, "Hey Little Dude Mommy" and laughing like maniacs.

They have also been running around for the past several days screaming, "makin' bacon" at the top of their lungs. I am not sure where that came from.

Monday, August 4, 2008


A blogger I like to read posted this on Friday. Sigh.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Box update: at work

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am moving from a spacious cube at work to a much smaller cube. I am supposed to self-move on Tuesday but am unclear as to whether my phone and LAN will be moved by then. Thursday was my last day in a job I'd held for 8 years and after cleaning out my new cube (of dirt, dust, and office detritus) I realized that I needed to do some more "shedding". So, I got to it and cleaned out several older boxes. When I left yesterday, there were 6 boxes (one of which has my computer stand and foot stand) and two large plants. I know there is one box that I still need to go through but I am still feeling good about the amount of stuff I let go. I feel like I can start fresh in my new job.

Monday I have no plans (well, that isn't entirely true - I have many things on my list but nothing I have to do). I am hoping to spend some of it refreshing my knowledge of Getting Things Done and 43 Folders. Getting a new job means I have a fresh start and I want to have a plan!!!

Box update: some hard stuff

Last weekend I took the opportunity to go through a box from 1993 (ish). Wow. That one brought back a lot of memories. Sort of one of those "good, bad, ugly" experiences. In simple terms, the good was that I cleared out another box. The bad was that now I have a huge pile of shredding to take care of. The ugly? In 1993 your entire credit card number would have been on a receipt (which accounts for the larger than normal pile of shredding).

In more complex terms, the box brought up a host of complicated feelings involving lost loves and missed chances. That sounds like it is about romantic love and I guess tangentially it is. But more it is about the fact that I was so focused on a boy (whom I now refer to as my "evil ex-boyfriend" - you do the math) that I missed out (ruined) some really important friendships that I had in my life. And you know, 15 years later, I don't believe those friendships have ever recovered. One is gone altogether - I get news only through common friends. I am still friends with the other person but not in the same way. Is it a curse of growing old (getting responsibilities, partners, etc) that you lose those deep relationships? Sigh.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Inbox Update

I am in a class this week (M, T, W) and start my new job next Tuesday. Subsequently, I haven't been able to keep up with my inbox totally. However, I still only have 12 emails in my inbox. Not bad for someone who had 1700 emails in her inbox last week!

Melt my heart

Last night as he was going to sleep, one of my 2.5 year old twins, G, said to me, "I love you a lot honey bunny mommy." Sigh.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One email inbox

Yesterday I had over 1700 emails in my work email inbox. Yes, 1700!!! Crazy, isn't it? After reading a post on Inbox Zero, I decided to tackle my email inbox instead of tackling a physical box this week.

I just started going through emails like mad. I sorted in all different ways. Most of the 1700 I file away. Some I deleted. I am currently left with 6 (as of this moment) and they are 6 that require attention I can't give them right now. I noticed that many emails I left there as reminders for action at a future date. It wasn't that the work needed to be done that second, it just needed to be done and that was my way of reminding myself.

I am going to see how clean I can keep my email inbox over the course of the next few days. And once I start my new job? I am going to save everything from my current job to CDs and biff it all off my computer. I want to start fresh.

There is no "away"

What if you no longer had garbage? Think about it. We have a piece of garbage and we say, "I am going to throw this away." Where is away, exactly? There is no away. If you create garbage and throw it "away" it goes somewhere else on earth. And if it is toxic? Then it becomes someone else's problem. Portland, OR is rolling out (pun intended) new roll carts. One is for mixed recycling (paper, plastic and metal) and one is for yard debris. The idea is if they make it easier to recycle, we won't throw recycling in the garbage.

But what if you took a different tack entirely? What if your goal was zero waste? That is what the city of Vancouver, British Columbia is thinking about. Read the Worldchanging article here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Another teeny box and a med sized box

I think I must be on a roll.

Teeny box

Last week I never got a chance to go through anything. Today I emptied a teeny box. I did give 4 bags of kids clothes away today but they weren't part of my original plan. (But I am still happy about it).

I am in a situation at work where I got a new job and will have to move from a fairly spacious cube to a very small cube. I am also going to a new job so I have the opportunity to shed a lot of the accumulation of 8 years in the same job. I have a feeling there will be a lot of clutter clearing in the next week or two.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The best part of clearing out clutter

$47 found! Cha-ching!

The worst part:

$130.00 in birthday checks from 1997. :(

Here is my weekly report. First, I went to clear out another of my small wicker file boxes and, ta da! It wasn't mine! So I put it on W's desk (he hates when I do that) and now it is one more box out of my office. I also looked through the files that were outstanding from last week. I got rid of a box (I still have a pile to shred and a pile to put away) and I got half way through another box. The pile dwindles...

In another room, I cleared off my dresser which hadn't seen the light of day in a while. That felt good but I still have a small drawer to go through.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Summer cleaning

As I recently wrote about, I made a weekly appointment with myself to go through one box and bag per week. This week I was not able to do this task on Wednesday at the scheduled time but instead worked on Thursday. I went through a small wicker file box which mostly contained bills and receipts dated circa 2002 to 2004. Sigh. I was left with 3 file folders to go through in depth, a pile of paper to recycle and a huge pile of paper to shred. I did this and ended up with three bags of shredded paper in addition to the pile of paper to recycle.
I still have to go through 3 files but I am pleased with the progress I made this week because...I also cleaned out our linen closet! And got W to work on it with me! And I made labels! Can you tell I am excited? It was long over due and is the kind of activity which makes you feel great.

Monday, June 30, 2008

5 Minute Shower Update

A few months ago I posted about going down to a 5 minute shower. After using the timer for several weeks, I felt like I had gotten the hang of it so I stopped using it. The other day, I decided to use the timer again and make sure I was still under 5 minutes. To my joy, not only was I still under 5 minutes but there was a lot of time left. I must be getting more efficient.

How are you doing with it?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Two boxes

Yesterday I had my first appointment with myself to go through a box and a bag. I set it during a time when I have a conference call where I only need to listen. I actually chose 2 small boxes to go through. One was a box of random stuff (I hate those) and the other box was the contents of some drawers for my old house. The majority of the stuff in the boxes went into two bags - shred and recycle. A small portion of things went to W and a few things got put away. It feels GREAT to clear out clutter and get organized.

How about you? Did you make an appointment with yourself?

p.s. I am doing this for two reasons: one is to make our home a nice place to live and the other is that I need some changes in my life. Clearing clutter is really good for that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Made Box / Bag Appointment

One of the most effective ways for me to get things done is to set aside time to do something. I am happy to say that I made a recurring appointment with my self for the next 18 weeks. I set aside 30 minutes per week to empty one bag and box. I plan to report weekly on my progress.

What could you do in 30 minutes a week? Anyone want to do this with me? You don't have to do the same thing as me...just pick something! If you want to join me, just add a comment with what you are going to do. Then, you can comment on your progress when I blog about mine. (Hint: I set up my appointment for Wednesday afternoon).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another box and two bags

Ok, I guess I am on a roll...I brought a big box o'books plus to bags to Goodwill today. More stuff out of the basement. Yay!

I did not make an appointment with myself as I mentioned in my previous post (mostly because I had technology problems). But I did send myself an email to schedule time to go through one box and one bag per week.

My favorite blogger has been working on a new website that will have local information for people with pre-schoolers. I guess it started as a site to find the right pre-school for you but is morphing into a link with local things to do. Sounds cool...but when will Portland be up and running?

One more box

We love when our family comes to visit. Not only because we love our family but also because it always spurs us into "high cleaning gear". This is good for our guests and good for us. Today, I emptied a very large moving box. It felt really good to clear some more floor space. I certainly have many more boxes to go (optimistically, I would estimate 16 plus 4 grocery bags) but it is getting better all the time. If I could go through 1 box and bag a week, I could be be through them all by the end of October. Now wouldn't that be great?

Ok - I am going to set a date with myself once a week for the next 16 weeks and get through it all. When I am done, I will hang the beautiful hanging picture frame in my office (because there will be room!) as a treat. Then, I think the next step will be the organization of all the remaining precious items and craft supplies. But really - one step at a time.

What could you do once a week for the next 16 weeks?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Girl Effect

Whoa! Check this out. It might make you cry (and be hopeful at the same time).
Want to make one of those loans? Go here: http://www.kiva.org//

I saw this video on the CityMama blog but the video is a little cut off which is why posted the You Tube version.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What's it called when a log jam breaks free?

I haven't blogged about "stuff" in quite a while. But that doesn't mean that I haven't been thinking about it. In fact, up until a few weeks ago, a whole corner of my basement had been filled with baby items that were going to be sold at a huge 50 family rummage sale. The sale took place on the same weekend as Ladies Rock Camp and my mother graciously agreed to sell for me (bless her heart!). The sale got rid of about half the stuff. I went through the other half this weekend and saved a couple of items (which I think I can sell on Craig's List). I didn't count the rest of the bags but if I had to guess, I would say it totaled 16 bags plus two bulky items. Yesterday, I took that whole load to Goodwill. Whew! They didn't take one thing (a bed rail) which I still need to get rid of but basically I feel a huge weight off my shoulders. I still have some "clean up" to do from the sale. I had gathered a whole bunch of containers (mostly baskets and plastic boxes) for the sale and now I need to put everything back where it belongs. Once that is done, I can move some things in my office out of the way so that W can install an outlet and a heater. Just in time for summer. Sigh...at least I will be warm next winter!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Life changing

Ever have an experience that you know, intuitively, is life changing? My hand is raised because I just had one of those last weekend. I attended Ladies Rock Camp here in not-so-sunny Portland, Oregon. I have been trying to write about my experience but honestly, I am having problems processing the whole thing. Suffice to say (for now) that it was an amazing accomplishment and I am going back next year. :)

More to come. If you are interested in attending a Ladies Rock Camp and you are not in the Portland area, it turns out there are a whole bunch of other camps in places like NYC and Australia. Or you can just fly in to Portland like my band mates did. Check it out.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Listening to the Dalai Lama

Many years ago, W and I attended both a lecture and a talk given by the Dalai Lama. At that time we were practicing (or at least attempting to practice) meditation. Both events that we attended absolutely blew us away. I was literally awestruck. I look back at my notes from those two events and cannot make sense of them. And yet I know that I was profoundly and deeply moved.

I came across this post at one of my favorite blogs. It is a description and a Q & A with the Dalai Lama when the author of the post (Noah Weil) attended a talk at the University of Washington in Seattle. Two things amaze me about this post. First, the depth of feeling it arises in me as I remember the lessons I learned from the Dalai Lama all those years ago. Second, how wonderful Noah's notes are considering I couldn't even write a sensible sentence when I saw the Dalai Lama. Anyway, I hope you will enjoy reading the post.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I can change your life

"I can change your life." That is a bold statement, don't you think? But I actually think I can. My life was changed dramatically because of my interaction and participation with an organization called the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI). Because of the NWEI, I changed my job and changed my impact on the earth in many ways. I made new friends and deepened my connection with some old friends. Here is my story...

In the late 1990s, a friend invited me to join a NWEI discussion group called Voluntary Simplicity. The group was made up of co-workers and we met during our lunch hour. The mission of the NWEI is "motivating individuals to examine and transform personal values and habits, to accept responsibility for the earth, and to act on that commitment." Think for a moment about that mission. Think about a time when you examined something in your life and realized that you wanted it to be different. The only way it changed was by accepting personal responsibility. The class was like that - it opened my eyes. And once you "see", it is really hard not to take personal responsibility.

I enjoyed that first class and followed it up with two more: Choices for Sustainable Living and Neighborhood Sense of Place. I continued to learn and to grow.

Then in 2000 I had a crisis of faith. I was working for a high tech firm in the marketing department. My job was to create collateral (i.e. paper) to teach people how to sell more of our products. My emerging care for the earth and my job collided. I ended up taking a leave of absence from work to try to figure out what I wanted to do next. During my leave, I was attending a talk given by Paul Hawkin at Portland State University. Jeanne Roy, one of the founders of the NWEI, had organized the talk and she was running around getting things set up. I cornered her and said something like this, "You need to help me find a new job. Because I took the NWEI courses, I can't stay at my current job." She asked me where I worked and when I told her she said, "Then you need to stay there. We need people like you in big companies." And then she walked off.

Boy was I ever mad! That was not what I wanted to hear. Honestly, I was mad for several months until the truth of what she was saying really sunk in. Then I went back to my big corporation and found that I no longer had a job. They paid me for three months to find another job inside or outside the company.

A few days after I returned I saw the man who hired me into the company. He told me he hadn't seen me around and wondered what I was doing. I told him that I had just gotten back from a leave of absence and was looking for a job. He asked me, "If you could do anything, what would you do?" I told him I wanted to help my company be a better global citizen and be more environmentally friendly. "But there are no jobs like that," I told him. He replied, "Yes, there are and that person works for me. Why don't you go talk with her." I ended up shadowing her and working on some projects for her and came to the conclusion that the job would be a really good fit for my skill set. In a strange turn of events, the person doing the job took a medical leave of absence and did not return. At the last possible moment, the company offered me the job. I changed my life dramatically.

Can I change your life? Honestly, only you can change your life. And if you are interested in changing your life (and I am guessing you are since you are reading this long, long post), take a NWEI class. You can organize a class at work, at your place of faith, with your friends or even with your family. Don't live in the Portland, Oregon area? Not a problem, the NWEI has many sister institutes. Click here to find yours (or start your own!).

P.S. The Choices for Sustainable Living class is my favorite - it is informative and give lots of actionable ideas.

Friday, May 16, 2008

5 Minute Showers

Last year W found a cool resource online. It turns out that if you are a customer of the Portland (Oregon) Water Bureau, they offer a variety of free water conservation devices. W went crazy and ordered a whole bunch of devices including a 5 minute shower timer. Of all the things he ordered, this was the one that confounded me the most. We put it up in our shower and occasionally, I would try to take a 5 minute shower. I never even got close! On a good day, I took a 10 minute shower!

But the shower timer continued to stare me in the face...and I kept thinking about how I could get to a 5 minute shower. It wasn't until I read about Jennifer Aniston's three-minute showers in The Green Book that I actually got serious about making a change. I mean, come on, if Jennifer Aniston can take three-minute showers, certainly I can do better than 10 minutes! She explains why she made the change in the book. Here is a quote:

"I found out that every two minutes in the shower uses as much water as a person in Africa uses for everything in their life for a whole day - drinking, bathing, cooking, and cleaning...everything!"

Think about that for a moment. A whole day's worth of water for someone in Africa going down the drain every minute we are in the shower. This may not inspire you to change, but it definitely inspired me.

How did I get down to a 5 minute shower? I changed the order that I shower and I cut my hair very short. I am happy to say that both these things got me under the 5 minute limit*. And do you know what I have figured out? If my shower is rated at 2.5 gallons per minute, and I cut my showering in half, I save 12.5 gallons of water every time I take a shower. I take a shower about 6 days a week (perhaps the next thing to work on?) which means I save 75 gallons a week. In a year, what will I save? A whopping 3,900 gallons! That is enough water to fill more than 10 hot tubs!

What about you? How long are your showers?

*Over sharing moment: I cannot get under 5 minutes if I am shaving my legs. But since that happens so infrequently (once per quarter?) I am not that worried about the effect it has on my water usage.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The High Cost of Stuff

Last year I spent a lot of time trying to reduce the clutter in my home. I feel like I did pretty well - when we moved into my house, my office was filled top to bottom with boxes. Now, I have shelving up and my desk and I work there. I purged by selling things, giving things away, giving things to Goodwill. I have never had a storage unit, nor felt like I particularly needed one. After reading this article on Get Rich Slowly, I am glad I never got one.

Do you have a storage facility that you store stuff in and pay for each month? You may want to rethink that decision.

I still have a long way to go in my basement. In fact, I have a whole area filled with toys, clothes, and baby equipment that I am storing until the end of May to sell at a big sale. But little by little, we are getting things out of our house. Now if I can just stop the flow of stuff into the house (especially paper!)!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Honey Bees vs. Yellow Jackets

Now, I can't really say anything bad about yellow jackets as that creature is the mascot of both my brother and niece. Yellow jackets are often confused with honey bees but they act in much different ways. Here's are some (tongue in cheek) ways you can tell the difference:

Pollinating flowers? Honey bee
Eating raw meat? Yellow jacket
Found close to bee hives? Honey bee
Found close to your picnic? Yellow jacket
Lives in a hive? Honey bee
Lives in a strange grey blobby thing? Yellow jacket
Fuzzy legs in the back (for acquiring pollen)? Honey bee
Non-fuzzy legs in the back? Yellow jacket

Both yellow jackets and honey bees are of great importance to the world. Yellow jackets eat pest insects. Honey bees make honey but also play a critical role as pollinators. Here is an interesting story about honey bees. Our neighbor on the next block has several hives and sells honey (how's that for ultra local?) and I am happy his hive is doing well. I am also happy to say that we have many of the bee friendly plants and trees on the list. How about you?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

One of our local alternative newspapers has an interesting story in their Earth Day edition. Living in Portland, Oregon I have often felt pride in our green city. This story says we are not doing enough. The author, Corey Pein, suggests "seven things Portland should do if we're serious about being green."

Here are the seven suggestions with a little commentary:
1) Do something about plastic bags.
States and countries worldwide are starting to ban or tax plastic bags. These bags don't break down easily and often end up as persistent trash. Our local grocery store doesn't even offer plastic grocery bags although most stoes in Portland do. Live in Portland and want to encourage a ban on plastic bags? Contact Commissioner Sam Adams and let him know that you want plastic bags to go (or whatever you want to happen). Oh, and don't forget to do your own personal plastic bag ban by using your own reusable bag.

2) Enact a "carbon tax" on consumption.
Canada has a carbon tax that is going into effect in June. It is a two step process with a reduction in income tax and an increase in taxes on pollution. These two tax moves are designed to make polluting more expensive. Choose a lesser polluting option like propane? Taxed less. Choose a more polluting option like diesel? Taxed more. Choose an alternative fuel like a biofuel? Exempt.

3) Use "congestion taxing".
In 2003, London created a congestion tax around its city center. Cars that travel into the city center during prime driving hours are taxed $16. Guess what? According to the article doing reduced traffic during peak driving times by 37 percent. An added benefit? Bicycle commuting increased by 43 percent. The best thing about this tax? All the money is spent on improving transportation - all forms including buses, cycling, pedestrians and drivers.

One of the comments for the online article says that the improvement to London's traffic issues were only temporary and after 4 years, traffic is just as bad. A friend also wonders how our downtown area would respond to congestion taxing. Interesting things to ponder.

We have some friends who live in downtown Vancouver. As much as we love them, we hate trying to drive to their house during rush hour (especially with a car full of cranky kids since rush hour is around dinner time). While it is not a monetary tax, the congestion itself is a tax on our time and turns out to be a great deterrent.

4) Use city's credit to fund home owner's green updates.
The city of Berkley, California is rolling out a new program whereby a homeowner can borrow from the city and the money is payed back over 20 years "through an increased assessment on his property tax bill." A great thing about this program is that because the loan is associated with property taxes they can be deducted from state and federal taxes. This may help decrease the return on investment for long payback items such as a solar installation, especially in combination with rebates, tax credits and a lower energy bill. According to the notes in the article, Portland's Office of Sustainable Development can help you navigate your way through paperwork that can reduce a $18,00 solar installation to $5,500.

5) Use money for buses instead of streetcars.
Curitiba, Brazil is a city known for getting buses right. You pay ahead of time, the bus arrives on time, the entire side of the bus opens facilitating getting on and off and buses are frequent enough and fast enough to be meaningful transportation. Where is Portland planning to spend its transportation dollars? On a streetcar which with a "6.7 mile loop on the inner east side." Is that smart? Would Portland's Tri-Met be better off putting that money toward a better bus system?

6) "Market rate" parking zones.
Examples of this item range from jacking up parking spot prices in Washington, DC to $18 per hour near ballparks to Redwood City's location dependent parking (the farther you get from main street, the cheaper it gets). This issue here is that if people are driving around and around looking for parking (ever been to the Pearl? ever been to NW?) they are wasting gas. The thing I can't figure out is how this helps. Does it just discourage you from driving?

7) Increase bottle deposit (and go a step further and fund glass recycling).
Increasing bottle deposits make it more financially attractive to return your bottles and recycling rates go up. In Michigan, where the bottle deposit is 10 cents, their recycling rate is 14 percent higher than Portland's recycling rate. The author suggests increasing the bottle deposit to 25 cents which would turn bottles into a commodity. But here's the problem, according to my work place, which now sports "glass is trash" signs on our recycling bins, we are too good at recycling. So good, in fact, that all the local glass recycling facilities are overcapacity. Instead of trucking the glass hundreds of miles (with a cost of dollars, pollution and added gas consumption), our company decided that for now, they will not recycle glass.

When I first read this item, I thought, hey, we can use some of the money to fund glass recyclers. But there is no money...you pay a deposit and then you bring the bottle back and get your money back. I did think of a way to really help this problem though, make your own beer and then reuse the bottles! What do you think? Or better yet, this idea from W, why have your soda or beer bottled at the grocery store? Of course this brings to mind the fact that you can bring a mason jar to any McMenamin's brew pub and they will fill it with beer. Don't forget about that!

So here is my question to you...what do you think of these ideas? Have you experienced any of them? Which one do you like best?

Happy Earth Day everyone...do something green!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008



I mean look at these pygmy hedgehogs...could they be more cute? I don't think so!

Besides, I think it is a little more likely than getting my own hippo.

O, Reader, How Do I Appreciate Thee?

How Do I Appreciate Thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth (your comments) and breadth (all two of you) and height (links to me) My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

Today is "Reader Appreciation Day 2008" as suggested by The Other Mother. I got this idea from one of my fav bloggers Citymama who is also probably one of the first bloggers I got to reading on a consistent basis.

I have slaughtered, er, adjusted the beautiful Elizabeth Barret Browning poem ("How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.") in order to show you how much I appreciate you, my readers.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. You are why I am here! (Well, that and self-therapy and accountability). Thank you for joining me here, for witnessing, for providing love and support. Thank you all.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cutting Grocery Costs

Our food bill is astounding. I know that some of it has to do with the fact that we eat organic and some of it has to do with the fact that our kids inhale fruit (could be worse). It also probably has to do with the fact that my kids eat a lot of snacks (like Veggie Booty and bagel chips). Lately, we have been trying to figure out how to significantly reduce our bill. In today's Oregonian, there was an article about how four families cut their food bill. Perfect timing! Last year, Rebecca Blood did a whole series on how to eat organic on a reduced budget. Although we learned some things, they didn't seem to affect our total food bill. One thing has really helped, and that is Citymama's Meal Planning Mondays. I subscribe to her blog so every Monday I see what she is cooking for the week. This inspires me to talk to W about what we are going to cook for the week. Having a meal plan and sticking to it is a great way to reduce food bills. Otherwise you are wandering around the grocery store grabbing random things that may not add up to an actual meal!

This is our menu for this week:
Sunday - Will's Indian style franks and beans with brown rice
Monday (yesterday) - Tacos (ground turkey, refried beans, tomatoes, avocado, cheese)
Tuesday - Meatloaf (pre-cooked and frozen), mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans
Wednesday - Pasta with white beans, arugula, garlic bread
Thursday - Salmon sushi balls (basically canned salmon wrapped in sushi rice with nori around it)
Friday - Out for sushi and to see Ani Difranco (yay!)
Saturday - ???

We make it a practice to bring leftovers for lunch so I had Will's Indian style franks and bean with rice for lunch yesterday and today I am planning to make a taco salad. W is actually starting to gather data on exactly how much meals cost.

So what do you do? Do you create a menu for the week? Do you know how much your meals cost? Do you have any tips for us? :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Squeaky Wheel

What do you remember, someone saying something good about a customer support experience or someone saying something bad? If you are like me, you remember the bad. For more information on what companies can do to make customer support better, go here: William Hertling & Support 2.0: The Rise of Support Activism.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Creative Spaces

I have a note by my desk that says, "I have a comfortable, organized space to do arts and crafts." It has been posted for several months and I haven't made any progress toward it. My artistic endeavors these days are more uncomfortable with boxes precariously perched on my stool while I am trying to lean in awkward angles to actually do the art. Reality is about two extremes. On one hand, you have a space that is comfortable and organized. On the other, you have something disorganized and in a sense, a space that works against trying to create art. I don't like trying to create in a disorganized space but I realized today that the other extreme isn't right for me either. For me, at least in my current creative mindset, art is elusive. It is a muse that comes to call occasionally. In the best of times, I can invite her in and give her a cup of tea while I create. In the worst of times she gets ignored and the creative urge leaves with her. But the thing is, even if she comes, she doesn't always stay until I am finished. Some times she leaves me mid-project. I think I will forever be the type of person that has projects in a variety of stages. And I feel ok with that reality. Now, I still would like to have a more inviting space that lends itself to creativity, but that vision has yet to reveal itself to me.

What about you? What type of space do you create best in? What is your idea space? Do you currently have projects in various states?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Earth Hour Failure

Remember this call to action? Did you do it? I didn't. I hope my excuse it good enough but I had raging flu / fever and I plumb forgot. If you remembered and did it, tell me about your experience! Sigh...there is always next year.

The Upside

I have not been feeling well for a few weeks. At first, it was just a general malaise and nausea. Then last week I got the flu which sadly morphed into pneumonia. The whole thing started out with me not feeling like eating (rare for me - I love food) and as I got sicker, I never restarted eating. This was a bad mistake. I had a raging fever for days (it peaked at 105 - but don't tell my mom). What they say is true, feed a fever. And I didn't. And that is why, perhaps, I got pneumonia. I was just too run down. Yuck. But I will tell you the one upside. And I am only telling you this because you will understand that I feel so bad, I needed to find an upside. I am seeing my cheekbones for the first time in months.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lights Out for Earth Hour - March 29, 8 pm local time

Earth Hour: What is it?

What if everyone on Earth shut off all non-essential lights for one hour? What would the effect be?

You may remember some startling photos from last year's Earth Hour in Sydney, Australia. This photo was taken by NASA but I was unable to find the original photo. The photo here is from this website. For one hour last year on March 29, 2007, Sydney, Australia turned their lights out.

This year many more locations are joining Earth Hour and here in my household we are joining as well. Want to join in? Just go to the website and sign up. Then, on March 29, 2008 at 8 p.m. local time turn off your lights for one hour. Not sure what to do in the dark? Click here for a list of unplugged ideas.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Silly Peep(s)

Ok...I should have known I would stumble upon something like this. If you like Peeps (tm) they you should check out the Washington Post "Peep Show". Very funny...which one is your favorite? I think "Peeping Peeps" is funny but so is "Say Anything". Here is another contest. I like "Harry Peeper at a quidditch match" (#4).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mini Mini Retreat

Friday was the day I planned for my mini retreat. I did not get 4 hours in, only 2 and they were far less productive than I'd hoped. I thought, in 4 hours, I will have everything figured out! Then, I only gave it two hours. The interesting thing was, it was a LOT more complicated than I had anticipated. At first, I was thinking that I was going to figure out what I was going to do with my many blogs. Then, after a conversation with B, it seemed worthwhile to think about my career. When I sat down, I was overwhelmed to say the least. What I realized was that both answers to these questions were related to my personal goals. What kind of life do I want to live? Where do I want to spend my time?

Many years ago I dated someone whose extended family created yearly goals. At that time (can I blame it on my youth?) I found the idea laughable. A few years later, I found myself creating my own goals. In the past few years, I stopped creating goals as I was just trying to survive. The exercise on Friday brought it all back. I can't just look at one area of my life separately because they are all connected. For example, spending time on blogging may positively affect my need for writing and creativity but may negatively affect my time with family and friends. (I am not saying it does I am just trying to show how it is all connected).

On Friday, I found myself going back to the basics of recreating personal goals. In the past I have chosen to create a goal or goals in areas such as career, creativity, health, finance and relationships. What did I accomplish on Friday? I worked only on the finance goal as this topic is something that I have been thinking about quite a bit. Creating the rest of the goals will take some serious time and I think that spending 2-3 hours each session seems both doable. My plan is to set aside 2 -3 hours every other week until I have created all the goals. (Also, this means once I am done creating the goals I will have a continuing appointment with myself to work on the goals).

One thing I have to do with the finance goals is prioritize them and set actionable next steps. What is the point of having a goal if you are not going to work toward it? Right? I will keep you posted.

Sources of Inspiration for Writing

I didn't realize this but Leo, who writes Zen Habits also has another blog called Write to Done. On it he posted a nice blog post that included 31 sources of inspiration for writers. Some of them seem obvious but others might surprise you. The one I found most surprising was number 3. Which one did you find most surprising?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mini Retreat Planned

A few blog posts ago, I mentioned that I really needed to think about the future of this blog. I was telling my "might as well" be my sister about this idea and she immediately thought I was talking about doing a mini retreat to think about my career. Hmm. This was not a bad idea especially considering some of the things that have been going on at work.

I set up time in the next few days for a mini retreat. I will definitely let you know the results.

Last (blog) words

Today I found a blog post that gave a tip for creating a truly compelling blog post. The idea is that you write as if the blog post were your last. Ever. If you could leave your readers with one thing, what would it be? Of course this brought up rather morbid thoughts for me especially after watching a video segment of Oprah where a dying professor is giving his last lecture. (You will need to click on a link to watch the video).

Warning: Don't watch this video in a place where you can't comfortably cry. Like work.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Trash Talk

How is this for a crazy idea? You get someone like Phoenix Suns All-Star guard Steve Nash to work with you on creating an environmentally friendly shoe. Then you take your manufacturing waste and craft it into a high performance basketball shoe and send it on the court. This is what Nike did when they created their "Trash Talk" shoe. Check out the photo closely and you will see that the upper is made from many tiny pieces of scrap leather stitched together. While this isn't exactly closed loop recycling, it does reduce waste overall and turns those scraps into green.

Thanks to M via A for forwarding the story.

P.S. The Suns won the night Nash debuted the "Trash Talk" shoe.

(This was originally posted on my internal blog at work.)

Over achiever

I enjoy blogging and I enjoy several other people's blogs. But I have a problem...and it revolves around being far too willing to say yes to blogging opportunities that come my way. I have this blog plus my accidental blog. I also own two more blogs at work plus occasionally posts for a group blog. (They are all internal to my company so I can't share them with you). All this adds up to a lot of fragmented blogging. I have struggled with finding my voice on this blog and on the others and I think that struggle is intensified by my schizophrenic blogging behavior. Sigh.

My friend Stuart says I am an over achiever (because I had to go and have twins instead of having just one baby at a time) and I think that it is applicable here - with this blogging thing. One of my favorite bloggers don't even stick to one particular topic but has an umbrella that many topics fit under. The name of my blog, Creation Halt, was chosen because it reflected my need to get away from creating more stuff. It also worked when I was doing a lot of decluttering last year to get rid of the stuff I had. But now I don't know what it means to me. It is like I need to go on a mini retreat to figure it out. Hey! That is not such a bad idea...I will plan to do that in the next few weeks.

One thing that W does that I don't do is that he uses some of the same posts inside our company and on his personal blog. Ok, I am seeing an action plan forming right now. Here it is...

1) Plan and execute a mini-retreat (let's say 4 hours) on the future of this blog. On this retreat, I would a) make sure this is what I want to be doing with my time (for me) and b) find something to focus on (for the sake of all of you readers).

2) Share some of my work posts here.

3) Do more simple linking posts once I have figured out where this blog is going and what I want to communicate.

Ok. I feel better now.

As always, thank you to whomever is reading this and thank you for your patience. Now I am going to quickly share a post that I wrote at work.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Just call me Erin Hussein

This blog post is to show support for something the MOMocrats are doing. They are making today Just Call Me Hussein Day. My name, Erin, was not popular at all when I was growing up. I think there was only one girl who had the same name but she was a bit older. I didn't like my name because it was so unique. People in my neighborhood would often pronounce it like this, "Aaron" and ask me why I had a boy's name. It also bugged me because my name doesn't really lend itself to creating a nick-name. No Jen or Liz or Terri. In fact, the only nick-names that I remember from my childhood are "Air" and "Ernie" (that one was from my Dad).

My name actually means Ireland in Gaelic which I always thought was pretty cool. However, around St. Patrick's Day someone would dredge up the saying "Erin Go Bragh" which means Ireland Forever. Again, a nice sentiment. Until someone made it into "Erin Go Bragh-less". Ouch.

I think the worst name related snafu I experienced was when the new 8th grade teacher called roll for the first time and pronounced my name "Erwin". Just think about that for a moment. I don't know what your 8th grade experience was like but I'll paint you a picture - I was descended upon by piranhas and mocked mercilessly. I hated that.

I like my name now. It is not as unique as it was when I was a child but it is mine. My children also have unique names (or at least unique spellings) and I hope that they aren't made to feel bad because of the loving name choices we made. I remember a saying from my childhood, "Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me." But it's not true; you can hurt someone by making fun of their name.

P.s. There was one Erin who made me proud of my name. I must have watched her on Buck Rogers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Twin Defense

After we found out we were having twins 2 plus years ago, we were in shock. After we talked with some twin parents, we went into even deeper shock. Basically they said that we could write off the next 18 months or so of our lives. We would be so sleep deprived and so busy that we would have trouble forming complete sentences. We thought, "lovely" (in the ironic "oh crap" sense).

So we knew, going into twin parenthood, that it would be difficult. And we quickly understood, based on the reactions of the people we told we were having twins, that we had a "get out of jail free" card. It was called, "the twin defense". Parents of a singletons generally see a parent with twins and think about how hard it is to parent just one child. They tend to feel sorry for twin parents automatically because of this. People who don't have children cannot even imagine what having two at the same time would feel like and they really feel sorry for twin parents. Again, this is generalization, there are always folks out there who are either in the "get a grip" category or the "having twins should be easy - you are just more efficient" category. But from the beginning, we knew we could invoke "the twin defense" should we need it. Little did we know how often we would need to invoke it!

Our older daughter (did I mention we have a total of 3 kids?) is a great sleeper. Once she falls asleep, she is OUT for the night. Our boys, however, are not like their sister. When they were newly born, they got each of us up several times every night. Have you ever tried to function after being woken up 4-5 times a night? Did you know that one technique for brainwashing is sleep deprevation? It is also a form of torture. Let's just say we were not at our best...literally for YEARS. We are still getting up an average of 2 times per night. I cannot tell you how much better that is from getting up 4-5 times per night. And I cannot tell you how much I long for a full night of uninterrupted sleep. The problem is, on the few nights when all our children have actually slept through the night, I wake up anyway and wonder if they are ok. Then I have to go check to see if they are breathing. It is crazy.

All of this to say, if you have ever felt slighted because we missed your birthday, your child's birthday, an important celebration or anything that you felt we shouldn't have missed, we are sorry. We didn't mean it. We love you and care about you, really. It is just, well, we are not right in our heads. Some day we hope to be but in the meantime, we contine to invoke "the twin defense". We hope some day we won't have to any more.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Creating a new habit

At some point I stumbled across a blog called Zen Habits which I have been reading regularly ever since. Here is an excerpt from the "About" page on the Zen Habits website:

"My name is Leo Babauta, I’m married with six kids, I live on Guam, I’m a writer and a runner and a vegetarian and I love writing Zen Habits.

Zen Habits covers: achieving goals, productivity, being organized, GTD, motivation, eliminating debt, saving, getting a flat stomach, eating healthy, simplifying, living frugal, parenting, happiness, and successfully implementing good habits."

I have enjoyed being inspired by Leo's posts and have tried to make some changes in my life because of them. One thing I am currently involved in is a challenge to create a new habit. The idea is that if a) you get into the habit of doing something daily and b) you report on your progress daily, you are more likely to create a habit. As such, I joined the February Challenge with the goal of doing my back exercises every day. I didn't read about it until February 4th but I have been doing my exercises and posting every day since then. My back thanks me.

Even better, the energy I am getting from meeting my committment to myself seems to be spilling into the rest of my life. The other day I finally cleaned off my dresser, I have been trying to keep the kitchen counter clutter free and I started the first paintings I have painted in I-don't-know-how-long.

Are there any habits you would like to cultivate? If you decide to join the challenge...let me know. I am planning to create another habit next month.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Cause he likes bows?

R: "Why did Uncle Bobby and Auntie Brooke name their dog Bowie?"

Me: "I don't know. Maybe they just liked that name."

R: "Do you think it was because he really, really likes bows?"

Me: "Yes, that's why. I think they named him Bowie because he really, really likes bows."

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sushifest 2008

Based on some droolworthy posts by one of my favorite bloggers, CityMama, I got it in my mind that I wanted to make raw fish sushi at home. One thing that really stood out in the second post was that she got an entire pound of tobikko. Yum! That is R and I's favorite! I made a comment asking her where to get tobikko (she used to live in my city) and she told me to go to Uwajimaya. In further correspondence, I asked her where to get sushi grade fish and she pointed me again to Uwajimaya.

Last Saturday, we took the kids and made the trek to Uwajimaya. The kids had a blast. The all loved the huge dragon hanging over the checkout counters. R got to meet her "Hello Kitty" needs and the boys wanted to sit in front of the live crab tank forever. As a raw fish sushi novice, I asked the nice man behind the counter to help me figure out what to get. Here is what ended up in our shopping cart: tuna (two cuts), yellowtail, salmon, octopus (my daughter wanted a piece the size of her head but we just got a few slices to try), tobikko (sadly no pound size containers!), and eel (unagi). We bought a variety of Japanese beers. I forgot all about the wasabi and the pickled ginger but happily, we had them both at home along with nori and avocado.

Our friends Nicole and Gene and their twins came over. Nicole had told me Gene was an experienced sushi chef. I immediately went to work with him to create nigiri, assorted rolls, and some sashimi (when we ran out of rice). Gene did turn out to be the master sushi chef (thank goodness). The kids had fun eating handfuls of tobikko (no kidding - there was tobikko EVERYWHERE!) and sushi rice while we were making the sushi.

It took us quite a while to make all the sushi. I had forgotten about that part! But in the end we all sat down at the table and had an amazing feast. R (who is 4) was game to try everything. Remember she was the one who wanted the octopus but in the end she didn't care for it.

Here is a photo of our spread. I can't wait until the next Sushifest!

Celebrating a Century of Posts

...plus 3. This post is my 103rd post. Who knew when I started this adventure that I would get to 103.? Thanks to everyone out there who reads this blog (all 3 of you). I'll try to continute to keep you entertained but meanwhile...


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Magical Hay

R: Mom, can you please go get my little truck from the car?

Me: Sure. I can do that right now.

R: Can you put it on the counter next to my money and my magical hay?

Me: Uh, ok dear. (R got a holiday gift from K which included some sparkly packing material. Apparently, that has now become "magical hay". Who knew?)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Temper Tantrum

Me: Are you mad a me?

W - dramatically: It's just...I didn't get any time to myself tonight. I had to do so many things. It felt like I had to keep doing things.

Me: What things?

W: The car stuff and I had to start the dishwasher.

Me: Why were you doing those things? Why did you start the dishwasher? I could have started the dishwasher.

W: You never start the dishwasher.

Me: I started the dishwasher last night.

W: I don't want to change the sheets! I hate changing the sheets.

Me: Oh, that's what this is about.

W: I never want to change the sheets again! Let's just get a new bed! And books! I don't have any books to read.

Me: I have books for you to read.

W: No - you don't have any books for me to read.

Me - looking in the closet where we keep the books: Yes, I do. Here is a Wen Spencer book. You like Wen Spencer.

W - wincing as he looks at the cover art: No thanks.

Me: No, you like this author. You liked that book called...what was it?

W - as I am paging through to find the name of the previous book sees something: Space ships? Does it say space ships?

Me: Yes, dear. It says space ships.

W: Ok, I'll read it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Potty Talk

WARNING: This blog post contains poop humor. Read at your own risk!

My twin sons turned two at the end of December. One of them, G, just told he first joke. I said to him, "Are you poopy?" His reply? "No, mommy!" Then of course I said, "No, I am not poopy. Are you poopy?" "No, daddy!" He had the funniest smile on his face as though he knew he was being funny.

His brother, L, joined in the fun. During one of these exchanges, he actually tried to check my pants to see if I was poopy and then he started laughing.

They are funny guys...

Getting to know the neighbors

A few days ago, R asked me to tell her a story. I started telling her a story about our neighbor's tree, whom our neighbor's named "Mabel the Maple". After I finished the story she asked us what our trees were named. I said we hadn't named them yet and did she think we should? She said, "Oh, yes!" very enthusiastically. I told her she could name one and that her dad and I would name the other two. The trees are enormous Douglas Firs and here is the name she came up with for hers (which is the one near the play structure). At first she said the name was "Hawk" because hawks like to live there. After she heard the names that W and I came up with her name turned into this, "Star Hawk Moon Lightening Moon Light." That is a pretty awesome name! She said she wanted to hang ornaments from the tree that were little bears and Cinderella and Aurora (I don't even know who this princess is!). She doesn't realize that the bottom branches of the behemoth tree are taller than our garage! I think she is thinking it is like our tiny Christmas tree.

W, after meditating on it, named the corner tree "Firestar". I named the hammock tree "Verde Sage". W said, "Do you have to roll the "r"?" I told him yes but really that is not fair because he can't roll r's.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Description vs. Dialogue

I was discussing with my friend Kathi the fact that my novel is lacking in terms of description. She asked me what I liked to read - description or dialogue. I realized that a) I had never thought about this before and b) I definitely preferred to read dialogue. So it makes sense that what I wrote was heavy (I do mean heavy) on the dialogue. I was feeling very nervous about this until I read something in John Scalzi's book, You're Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop To A Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing. Scalzi states in this book (p. 103), "As a writer, I am not particularly interested in description unless it's necessary to the plot." It was heartening to see it in writing. I had been thinking that I would go back and try to fill in description and I still may try that. But what will probably flow better is if I just honor the style that I have written in so far. I will have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

Which is not right now because...I am more focused on helping W get his book edited and published. I read through it a few nights ago (he also wrote it during NaNoWriMo) and it is really good. It is also very current which means he needs to get on publishing it because if he doesn't, I think someone else may beat him to the punch.

WRT my novel, I read a guide to editing your novel and the first step was just reading it through without editing it or making notes or anything. This did not work for me!!! While I did like what I was reading, I was too distracted by the edits I could be making. I think once W's book is on its way to the publisher, I will go back and read it at the computer and make edits along the way (having first made a copy on a CD!).

Friday, January 18, 2008

Clutter Entropy

With all the work I have done in the past year to eliminate clutter and stuff, I still struggle daily with this issue. I came across this blog post entitled The Minimalist's Guide to Fighting (and Beating) Clutter Entropy. It was a good reminder to me of how to stop clutter from accumulating. This weekend, I will clean all the surfaces in my living room and dining room and find new places for things. I will report back on my progress early next week. Do you have a problem with this, too? What will you do? I

Creation Halt vs. Creation Spot

I have been musing about how I now have two blogs* (sort of accidentally) and how the names are, in my mind, totally opposite. I started Creation Halt because I was overwhelmed with stuff and with the burden that comes from creating something. You put your time and energy into making something and that gives weight and meaning to those things. For me, this makes them very hard to get rid of and hard to give away to someone who must then bear the burden! I know, not everyone looks at stuff in the same way I do but still...I was having a crisis. My solution was just to stop creating. No more art, painting, pottery. Nothing physical.

It didn't turn out to work quite in that way. In the past year I have sewed a gold lame dress for my daughter, reusable gift bags, and purses. I have created collages. I wrote a book. I wrote many blog posts. I knitted a scarf. But through it all, I was very conscious of what I was creating. I am no longer creating just for the purpose of creating. Instead, I am creating with purpose.

But I am so drawn to creation!!! It feeds my soul. And that is why I think it is interesting that Creation Spot has come into my life. I was telling W that when our basement is finished being remodeled, I would love to have a monthly craft night with friends. I think it would be fun to have a spot for creation where a group can get together and have fun creating something together. I am still nervous about creating more "stuff" and I have to work my way through that but maybe, just maybe, I can find my way back toward creation.

* In reality, I have a total of 7 blogs that I contribute to - two public and 5 private, internal work blogs.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Calling Cards

I really need to have some calling cards made up. Otherwise, how do you point someone to your blog? It is not like they are going to remember creationhalt dot blogspot dot com! Heck, you can find this blog if you search for "creation halt" but who is going to remember to do that? What about the rest of you out there? What have you done? How do you share your electronic information in the physical world?

Then of course, there is this problem. We sent out a holiday letter this year and what did I do? I put the name of my blog down wrong! Arg! Luckily, that name wasn't taken so I created another blog to point to this one but I think the damage has already been done. I need to be better at editing I guess!

Friday, January 4, 2008

We like tha moooooooooooon!

Ok, who would have thought that an application on my customized iGoogle page would bring me closer to nature? I mean, who would have thunk it? When I set up my customized page a few weeks ago, I looked through all the applications that I could put on my page. I found a few that I really liked including "MapMyWord Dictionary" which shows pictorially how a word is related to other words (synonyms, antonyms) plus the definition. I put "Portland Weather" on my page and a direct link to "Wikipedia". But one of the best ones I have found is called "Current Moon Phase". Whenever I bring up my iGoogle page, I can see what phase the moon is in. Honestly, I have never paid all that much attention to the phases of the moon before. With this application, I am able to see that right now, we have a "waning crescent" that is "13% of full". This makes me look for the moon much more often (which isn't easy in Portland in Winter) and makes me feel inexplicably good.

Which leads me to another "moon" thing that makes me feel inexplicably good. DISCLAIMER: If you watch this, it may be stuck in your head forever. Be warned.

Note: It looks like MapMyWord Dictionary was bought by Thinkmap. If you go to the link above, you will be able to see what it is like. Either way, you can still get the original Google application.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Blog Vacation?

I guess my blog took an inadvertent vacation. I didn't mean to be gone so long (especially after blogging so much in November)! The holidays just got in the way. We were on kid duty 24/7 and even with my sister in town (god bless you M!) it was extremely exhausting. We didn't even get to play that many games of Scrabble. They say it gets easier...I am still hoping!

Speaking of Scrabble, my four year old knows that her dad and I both love the game. She knows that Grandma E and Auntie M also love it and she has been interested in playing. There is only one problem...she can't spell. Well, she can spell the names of all the people in our family (including the cat) but that is just about the extent of her abilities. I finally relented (at the behest of my DH) to play a modified game with her. I told her to pick some letters and spell out a word. The first letter she put down was a "X". I said, "R, I don't think you know how to spell any letters that begin with "X"." Her reply was, "Well I want to spell x-ray but I just don't know how." It cracked me up for several reasons. I don't think x-ray is in the official Scrabble dictionary but I let her have it anyway. :)

I realized while we were playing what a great game it is. You need to know how to spell, add, and multiply. Very cool. R beat me in her first game and we had a lot of fun. I look forward to playing with her for years to come.