Monday, July 19, 2010

Let Me Espresso My Love

I have acquired a daily vice. I now drink a cup of coffee every morning.

I had noticed that ever since Mercy arrived and I stopped getting as much sleep at night, I had been super crabby most mornings, with poor Dano bearing the brunt of Mommy's crankiness. But the days I had a Coke with lunch, my mood noticeably improved. So since the beginning of July, I've been drinking about 6 oz of coffee every morning. And mornings are going much, much better. Caffeine is my friend.

We have very little counter space in this apartment, and most of it is overhung by cabinets that are so low my coffee maker doesn't fit under them. A couple of years ago, my mom got me a little French press coffee maker like this one, and that's what I use every day now. I only fill it half full, as I never have time to drink a whole mug of coffee, and the half serving seems to do me just fine. It fits nicely in these beautiful coffee cups I inherited from my grandparents. Every morning as I sip my coffee from one of them, I feel so grown-up because when I was a kid visiting them, these cups only came out when their grown-up company came over. Yes, I'm thirty and "feeling grown-up." Guess I've achieved my goal of never actually growing up, at least so far.

Anyway, while I'm singing the praises of coffee, thought I'd share my favorite song about coffee, "Espresso My Love," by The Divers.

This is a performance on the theater stage at my alma mater -- the two guys in the center, Pete (singing) and Andy O. (playing the bongo), are professors at the college (Theatre and Art, respectively). The other two are brothers and also attended my alma mater back when Pete and Andy were students instead of profs. Since they sing fast and the video is a bit hard to hear, here's a link to their delicious lyrics.

Friday, July 16, 2010

An Unpleasant Milestone and The Farmers' Market

What a week! Mercy cut her first tooth on Wednesday, which means we have had a cranky girl for four days. At least now I know why she didn't sleep well on Tuesday... but she hasn't slept well since then either. That first tooth is such a killer :-(

Anyway, I took the kids downtown to the local farmer's market today. It just started up last weekend and is supposed to run through October. When the weather cools down a bit this fall, I'd love to walk there with the stroller, but today we drove. I bought tomatoes, blueberries, and a bulb of garlic. I haven't tried the tomatoes or garlic yet, but the blueberries are excellent! I'm going to have to find some recipes to make with them, as I doubt they'll last long even in the fridge. Hmm, maybe blueberry pancakes for breakfast tomorrow? :-9

Friday, July 9, 2010

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Heather! You won my Instant Canteen :-) I'll be contacting you via email to get your mailing address. I hope you get lots of great use and enjoyment out of your new water bottle carrier!

Everyone else, thanks for playing! Your feedback on what things you like in my shop helps me figure out what items I should concentrate on. I'll do another giveaway again one of these days, so check back here for another chance to get something for nothing.

(I chose the winner with the random number generator at

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Like Seven Inches from the Midday Sun

It's disgustingly hot here this week. I just read in the paper that it was 106 yesterday. In Connecticut! In Iowa, North Carolina -- I understand it when I'm in those places. Here? Not so much.

So in honor (?) of the heat wave, here are my fave summer songs. No particular order :-)

+ "Smooth" by Santana featuring Rob Thomas. Probably the first song I really liked by Thomas, though now I'm a fan of him and Matchbox Twenty. It's great for blasting while you drive with the windows down.

+ "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys. I first heard this at a skating rink when I was a little kid, probably right when it came out in 1988. Didn't know until years later who sang it, I just knew whenever I happened to hear it in the grocery store or mall that it made me happy.

+ "Lazy River" by Bobby Darin. Sure, Hoagy Carmichael wrote it, and everyone's recorded it, but for me, this is the best version. Naturally, since I'm a Bobby Darin addict. This song was on the first CD of his stuff I ever bought, and I sang it all summer long that year, especially while I was at Myrtle Beach with my family. I think I was sixteen.

+ "Summer Rain" by Johnny Rivers. I've loved this since I was an oldies-obsessed teen. I dig the imagery of things like dancing in the sand and stepping out of a rainbow. Great for groovin'.

Okay, time to go get a popsicle. Don't forget to enter my giveaway! That water bottle carrier is perfect for a hot one like today.

Monday, July 5, 2010

"The Pawn" by Steven James

I actually read this almost three weeks ago, but haven't managed to blog about it until now. Thank the Lord the rest of my summer looks calm and empty!

Anyway, my mom recommended Steven James' books to me when I was at home in NC last month. We were watching an old ep of Bones together, and I told her she should read Kathy Reichs' books that inspired the series. I said one of the things I liked best about her books is that they take place partly in North Carolina, my adopted home state. Mom said. "Oh, you should read the Patrick Bowers books by Steven James! The first one takes place here too!" So when I got back to CT, I got the first one, The Pawn, out of the library.

Ironically, I had warned her that Reichs' mysteries can get rather gruesome and spooky, and I wasn't sure if they'd bother her because of that. Turns out, I needn't have worried, because The Pawn was more gory and creepy than any of the four books I've read by Reichs. A goodly chunk of it is written from the point of view of a sadistic killer, and it creeped me out so much, I had to read it in just three days because I wanted to get it over and solved and behind me as fast as possible.

The Pawn is about FBI Criminologist Patrick Bowers tracking down a sadistic serial killer in the mountains around Asheville, NC. Bowers is recently widowed and alienated from his teen stepdaughter, and his personal life gets tangled up in his work and vice versa. Overall, the book is taut and suspenseful.

I think this is James' first mystery thriller, and as a debut in the genre, it's pretty good. The only thing I didn't like, besides it being a little creepier than I care for, was that I kept seeing the author in the book. By that I mean there were things that made me go, "Oh, he's setting up the workplace conflict here," or, "Here's the obligatory Special Ability that will come in handy at the book's climax." As the book went along, it had fewer obvious Mystery Components, and there were quite a few twists I didn't expect, so I'm betting the other books in the series (it totals four so far) are smoother and bear fewer authorial fingerprints.

Anyway, I liked James' style, so if I can get more of his books from the library, I probably will read more. So yes, if you like suspenseful mystery thrillers, you'll probably dig this book.

PS. Don't forget to enter my canteen giveaway here! Only four days left!!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Popcorn Cookies

Looking for a fun recipe to try with your kids this summer? I found this one on, and it was easy and tasty. Plus, it doesn't make so many cookies you're stuck with them for weeks (okay, never a big problem around here, but I can see how it could be), but you have enough to share if you want. I sent some to a friend who's serving in Afghanistan right now and still had some for us to enjoy here too.

So, here's the recipe. Yum!

Popcorn Cookies


1/2 cup butter -- softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 cups popped popcorn -- lightly crushed
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans


In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in the popcorn, chocolate chips, and pecans.

Drop by tablespoonfuls two inches apart onto greased (or non-stick) baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 13-14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Yields 2 1/2 dozen.

++Don't forget to enter my giveaway for your chance to win a free Instant Canteen!++

Friday, July 2, 2010

Giveaway: Instant Canteen!

What could be a more perfect giveaway item for the summer than one of my Instant Canteens?

They're the hands-free way to stay hydrated -- an Instant Canteen ensures you'll never set your water bottle down and forget it ever again! They're great for any outing, whether you're going to the zoo or beach or hiking trail... or just the playground down the block, which is where mine goes the most. And you can enter to win this Peacock Swirl canteen for free right here!

(I sell these for $10 in my shop if you love the idea but don't like this one -- I have oodles of different fabric designs and strap colors.)

So, how can you win the Peacock Swirl canteen? There are two ways:

+ 1. Comment here listing your favorite item from my store -- -- and either your email or blog address so I can contact you if you win.

+ 2. Post about this on your own blog. Leave a comment here with a link to your blog post, plus either your email or blog address so I can contact you if you win.

This means you can be entered twice!

Giveaway ends the morning of Friday, July 10th when I draw the winner, announce who it is here, and contact them to get their mailing address. Good luck!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Adieu, Adieu, We're Going to the Zoo!

I'm finally getting a chance to post about our zoo trip! Things have been crazy here -- we took off for Boston for a couple days to help my brother and his wife pack up their moving van 'cause they're deserting us, sniff sniff sniff. Between packing for the trip and then unpacking and doing laundry, I have had few minutes to call my own. But right now, both my little ones are napping, so maybe I can get this written and posted.

Dano loves the zoo. We took him to this same one three times last year, and he remembered it pretty well. We walked through their rain forest exhibit first, where Dano loved the birds and was leery of the monkeys, but thought their ocelot was awesome. Here's a shot of his favorite way to check out the animals: crouch as close as possible to the glass/fence.
After that, we lunched at one of their many picnic areas, where Dano ate his sandwich as fast as he could "so the ants can't have it," then roamed around, climbing on rocks, while I fed Mercy and myself.

Usually she loves the stroller and conks out in it, but this time she was at The Zoo! She wanted to see the animals! She had to ride in the sling so she could see! In fact, she refused to have her head inside the sling pretty much the whole time -- she had to peek around it to see everything.

Okay, I've got a recipe, a book review, and shop news I've been wanting to post for over a week now. And a giveaway! I plan to get that rolling tomorrow, then do the rest next week. Adieu!