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5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8




 

 


Happy Hallowe'en : 10/31/05

With the clocks reset, I had one of my best night's sleep in a long time. Sean, however, out did us all and actually beat our alarm clock. He came running into our room with his usual jolly: "I am awake!" He then jumped into bed and insisted that one of us get up so he'd have room to play "hiding" under our covers.

Sean will be taking his Spider-Man costume to school today where they will be doing a little Hallowe'en parade and party. When we get home we will light our jack-o-lanterns which we had cut last night. Sean called the process: "making pumpkins into lights like at school." I guess Joe an the kids must have carved pumpkins. Last night Ian and Sean turned the orange pumpkin into a "scary pumpkin light" and then he and I turned the ghost pumpkin into a "grumpy ghost pumpkin light."

Eating Turkey:

Ian's turkey turned out beautifully after an entire day of cooking. Ian decided to gnaw on a lot of the bones and Sean found that very funny. He scolded Ian a few times with: "Don't eat like that. That's how dogs eat!" The first time he said that, Ian almost fell out of his chair for laughing so hard.

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All Nighter: 10/30/05

Our late afternoon of running errands wore Sean out. We got home at three and he had fallen asleep in the car. Ian carried him into the house and Sean agreed that he wanted more nap time. He ended up sleeping until ten at night! We did try to wake him but he wasn't going to budge. He's done this a couple times before during growth spurts. Of course when he did wake up he was hungry! Ian made him some oatmeal and he also had a bowl of apple sauce. Sean didn't end up going to bed until midnight. Which meant we didn't get to bed until one in the morning. Of course with setting the clocks back it was only midnight.

We had hoped Sean would sleep in a little because of his late night but no, he was up at 7:30 and wide awake. He and I got up to give Ian some more time to sleep in and we did our baking. We did cupcakes which we had planned to do yesterday but hadn't because of Sean's nap. Then we did the dishes. Finally we made breakfast and by then Ian was awake too.

Back to the Store:

Ian decided to study at home, mostly to roast a huge turkey which will probably provide about two weeks worth of meals for us. He needed a few items so Sean and I went back to the store. This time we went to the Albertson's that has parking on the roof and elevators to the store. It has a larger selection than the closer one and Sean loves operating the elevator. This time though, Sean wanted to push the cart too. He has recently been helping me put away the carts by pushing them (with me helping a little). Today he wanted to push the cart through the store and put things into the cart. When I said yes, you would think he had won the lottery. He did the biggest dance of celebration! Only during the checkout time did he want to sit in the front of the cart because it is the only way he can reach the green buttons for the debit card machine.

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Steps: 5000


Last Trip to the Farmer's Market: 10/29/05

We went to the last Farmer's Market of the season today. They had some Halloween activities there too but Sean wasn't in costume and didn't seem interested in anything other than buying vegetables.

Speaking of vegetables, Sean likes artichokes. Fortunately I had bought three the last time although it took him two meals to finish it, he enjoyed it.

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Standard Time: 10/28/05

It's Friday again. This Saturday night we reset the clocks. I so prefer standard time over day light saving time. I just never adjust to having the clocks set an hour ahead.

To the Store:

On the way home Sean and I stopped at the store for milk, eggs and some other sundry items. While we were there I had to help a woman pick out some ant spray. The recent rains had brought the insects into her kitchen. Sean got a little ancy at first as I had parked our cart right next to the thing we needed and yet I wasn't picking one out. Fortunately Sean was nice enough to wait patiently when I explained that I had to help the lady first.

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Milk!: 10/27/05

I'm relaying a story Ian told me about his drive to Sean's day care yesterday...

Sometimes on the way to school Ian and Sean pass one of those drive-through coffee vendors. Yesterday when they were going by the one on Kelly Street Ian said, "COFFEE!" because he was really tired. Sean asked if they had milk too. Since they were stopped at the light Ian was able to see that they do have milk. So the next time Ian said: "COFFEE!" Sean responded "MILK!"

Garlic:

Last night Sean helped me make beef stroganoff based on a recipe my mother sent me. As I was cutting up the garlic Sean said, "Can I have some of that garlic?" Sure, I replied, thinking he'd try one bite, find it too spicy and then go back to helping me cook. He ate the piece I had sliced and loved it! Next thing I knew, he had swiped half a clove and eaten it up. I had to move the rest of the garlic I wanted to use in the recipe before he had a chance to eat all of it.

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Steps: 6000


No Spam?: 10/26/05

I've been working on configuring my spam filters on my server. This project started when I stopped receiving a weekly newsletter from the BookCrossing website. I've certainly learned a great deal about different methods for filtering out unwanted email at the server level in the process. Now all my efforts seem to be working. My daily dose of spam has been cut down by about 80% and I've spent the last four hours with a spam free mail box. I can't remember the last time that has happened.

On Mathematics:

Sean's been practicing writing his letters and numbers at his day care / preschool and is quite proud of his efforts. So last night on the way home I asked him if he knew what Ian does during the day. He replied, "He goes to Berkeley with the big clock." I agreed and added that he studies numbers. Sean refused to believe that Ian could be studying numbers at school. "Only little kids need to practice numbers. Daddy's a big boy! He knows his numbers!" I replied that adults do study numbers and it's called math. I told him that there are really big numbers and really small ones. Sean thought about this a little while and then in his "grumpy" voice replied, "Okay. He can practice the big ones because he's a big boy. But I have to practice the little ones at school, okay?"

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Web Site House Cleaning: 10/25/05

The 3D Commune's database has gotten a bit bloated. Okay, it's become a behemoth and the script that keeps it in check just can't any more at it's current size. So we've all been asked to pitch in and chuck out some of our older or less popular images. This call to clean has prompted me to do the much needed clean up / restructuring of the older galleries here. I will only be keeping one or two years of images linking directly to the Commune's pages so you can see and make comments. The older ones will be moved here.

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Steps: 3500


No Sleep: 10/24/05

It's been a while since I haven't slept well so I guess my number was up last night. I didn't get to sleep until about 4:30 in the morning. I might have cat napped before then but I was not having the deep sleep I wanted and needed. So today at work I'm a little spacy.

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To the Park: 10/23/05

Sean was helping me recycle stuff and take out the garbage but once outside he declared that the day was too nice to just do chores. He didn't want to go back inside. I asked him if he wanted to play outside and he replied that we had to walk to the park. I agreed and off we went. As it was a fairly gray and damp morning we had the park to ourselves save for one woman who was reading a book while slowly walking her dog and another woman who did some yoga and then opted to take a nap in the driest and sunniest bit of the grass. That left both play areas to Sean. He had loads of fun climbing, sliding, and jumping. He also got the chance to throw sticks and rocks around without having to worry about hitting anyone.

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More Vegetables: 10/22/05

Today we went to the penultimate farmers' market for this season at Castro Valley. After next Saturday it won't open again until the first Saturday of May. We loaded up on egg plant, mini pumpkins, zucchinis, and some other vegetables that I can't remember right now.

For the pumpkins we plan to do pumpkin pie and perhaps another pumpkin bread. Last night Sean and I made a wonderful bread from his mini pumpkin that had gotten a hole in the skin and wouldn't last very long. I chopped the gourd in half and steamed it until it was soft enough that I could use everything except the seeds and the stem. Sean thought the bread was so good that he's calling it: "Pumpkin Cookie Bread."

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Steps: 7000


Vegetables: 10/21/05

Sean seems to prefer his vegetables raw. Last night while I was cooking dinner he scarfed down some slices of zucchini. I personally detest the taste of raw zucchini but to Sean it was yummy. He also loves raw carrot sticks. One cooked vegetable he does currently like is the Asian string bean.

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Eye Color: 10/20/05

I really thought Sean was going to have blue eyes since they had settled on a blue color by about six months old but sometime in the last year they've gone green and now they seem to be going slightly brown. I found an article online that says that eye color in roughly half of Caucasian children do change between ages 3 and 6 and some even into adulthood. I remember when I was pregnant with Sean how I wanted him to have brown eyes like I do now that I've gotten used to his blue eyes I find myself missing his blue eyes. Aieieiee--another strange thing to feel mommy guilt about!

Nesting Nuttall's Woodpeckers

On my way to lunch, I noticed a male Nuttall's woodpecker wooing a female from the top branches of the oak tree in the alley way at work. Apparently the oak tree is the Nuttall's nesting spot of choice (even though they mostly eat insects). This particular oak tree is large enough to provide lots protection from predators and it's out of the way of most of the street traffic. When I got back from lunch the male was still chirping to the female.

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Nonsense: 10/19/05

The kids at day care have made up a couple nonsense phrases that must be part of a joke. Sean finds them howlingly funny and loves to repeat these phrases that he and the others have made up. Then, tears streaming down his cheeks he looks at me, expecting me to laugh too. And I just look at him like a moron and say something like, "Uh huh, that's nice." It brings back memories of when I was his age and I was annoyed because my mother didn't understand me.

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Steps: 6000


Fabric: 10/18/05

Yesterday after picking up Sean from day care he and I drove to San Leandro to pick up some fabric (okay a ton!) from a Freecycler. Sean in his usual enthusiasm decided we were on a grand adventure. When we got to our destination he was eager to help carry the bags of fabric back to my car and he chit-chatted with the woman who was given us the fabric. We also met her cockatiel named Huey. When it was time to head home, Sean said good-bye and told the woman to tell the "pretty bird good-bye too."

So why the fabric? On the practical front I have some mending projects that need fabric. On the more whimsical front, I've also wanted to try my hand at quilting. Free fabric seems like the perfect way to start! Last weekend I finished reading the Persian Pickle Club and was reminded how I've wanted quilt and do some other sewing projects.

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Steps: 6000


Halloween Decorations: 10/17/05

Yesterday we picked up a sheet of Halloween themed vinyl window stickers when we got Sean's costume. As soon as we got home Sean wanted to decorate the house with them. Half of the stickers went on the window above Sean's bed and the other half went "upstairs" on the window next to our front door. The stickers are all about 3 1/2 feet off the ground as that's as far as Sean can reach. I'll post pictures as soon as our place is finished being painted.

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Steps: 10000


Chicken Soup Stuffing: 10/16/05

Ian baked a chicken tonight and I made stuffing as a side. I used the remains of the chicken soup stock that we had from last week's wonderful soup. Here's the recipe:

1/3 cup no salt butter
1/2 an onion diced
2 cloves garlic diced
3 sprigs of parsley, shredded
1 sprig of rosemary, diced
1 leek, diced
4 cups stale bread, cubed
2 cups chicken soup broth

Saute the vegetables and herbs in the butter until the vegetables turn color. Mix in the bread and transfer the mixture to a small casserole dish. Pour in the soup broth. Cover the mixture and bake at 350° F for 1 hour.

Mission Accomplished:

Sean and I went to the local party store and found a Spider-man costume in his size. Rather than have all the little kid costumes displayed, they have instead a wall with the various styles and sizes displayed. We found the model number, the size, and then flag down an employee to get the costume from the storage room. We were in and out in less than ten minutes.

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Yummy Veggies: 10/15/05

We went to the Farmers' Market again today and came away with lots of wonderful vegetables. We got leeks, zucchini, summer squash, peanuts (which we need to roast), egg plant, spinach, bell peppers and carrots. I'll be making another fresh spaghetti sauce tonight. Yummy!

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Friday: 10/14/05

Friday has rolled around again. I'm ready for my chance to sleep in tomorrow. Saturday mornings Ian and Sean cook breakfast (usually waffles; sometimes pancakes) and I get to sleep in a little. Of course the last couple of weekends Sean has slept in so late that we've all gotten a chance to sleep in. Maybe he'll do that tomorrow.

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Cracking Eggs: 10/13/05

Last night Sean and I made banana bread to get rid of a few nearly black bananas. Actually I should give most of the credit to Sean. I did the measuring but he did the mixing. He also peeled the bananas and cracked the eggs. Sean has developed an interesting one handed approach to cracking eggs. He holds the egg skinny side up and taps the bottom of the egg against the bowl a few times until a hole opens up and the egg falls into the bowl. This process wouldn't work for separating yolks from whites but for everything else it seems to work fine. He was very pleased to be able to "open the eggs" by himself.

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Books Read in September: 10/12/05

A fellow BookCrosser asked us what books we had read in September and in compiling my list I realized I had read twenty-six! The outstanding ones in the set were: The Ballad of Typhoid Mary, Funny in Farsi and A Salty Piece of Land.

Here is the entire list:

On Monster Patrol:

This morning when I woke Sean up, he wanted me to look under his bed and behind his changing table. He said he had two monsters in his room that were growling at him. Fortunately he didn't seem very upset by having monsters in his room. I think he takes after me and enjoys a good nightmare every so often.

 

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BookCrossing: 10/11/05

It's that time again—time for another BookCrossing meeting in Dublin. Over the course of the month I've been filling up a box with books to release. I have thirty-eight books ready to release. Then when I get home, I'll start all over again. I actually have a pile ready to put in the box but I don't want to take more than I can carry! They will go to the November meeting.

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Steps: 6000


Three Cheese Enchiladas: 10/10/05

Last night I made enchiladas. Here's the recipe:

    Sauce
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, diced
  • six cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 can of green chilies, diced
  • 1 can (16 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (32 oz) tomato sauce
  • 3 Tbs ricotta cheese
  • dash of oregano for taste
    Filling
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 10 Tbs ricotta cheese (one scoop per tortilla)
  • 2 cups American cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 cup sharp white cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 10 sprigs of cilantro

Preparation:

Preheat the oven 350° F

In a wok or deep pot, saute the onion, cilantro, garlic and chilies. Once the onions and garlic have turned color, add in the tomatoes and reduce heat. Cook for about ten minutes and then add the tomato sauce and stir in the ricotta cheese. Cover and simmer for another ten minutes.

Microwave the tortillas for about a minute to soften them. Layer the bottom of the casserole dish with some of the sauce. Then add one table spoon of ricotta cheese and a scoop of the cheddar cheese mixture. Add a sprig of cilantro. Wrap tortillas and place seam down in the sauce. Cover the tortillas with the remaining sauce and cheese.

Cook for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.

Painting Soon:

If the contractors stay on schedule, our building will be high pressure washed tomorrow in preparation for priming and painting. We will have to bring our garden inside again until the painting is done. Fortunately the summer heat wave is over so the new plants will probably survive (assuming the cat doesn't eat them).

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Steps: 5000


New Shoes: 10/09/05

On Saturday Sean complained that his shoes were too small. So today he and I went to the mall and got him a new pair. It took a lot of looking and negotiation to find a pair that he liked. He's now up to a size 9 1/2 toddler from 8 1/2. We finally found shoes similar to the ones he has been wearing but he would have been happier if the new pair were identical to the old pair. He was most insistent on not getting shoes with cartoon characters on them as those shoes "are for babies" and he's "a big boy, not a baby."

In Search for a Costume:

We went in search of a Spider-man costume in Sean' size but we couldn't find one. Next week we'll be going to a craft store to get the necessary material to turn a pair of pants he's mostly out grown (in the legs) in to a pair of spidey pants. We can get the mask and gloves at Toys R Us and we did find a Spider-man shirt. So it will take a little more work than first hoped but he can still be the web slinger for Halloween.

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Steps: 10000


Curse of the Were-Rabbit: 10/08/05

We took Sean to see Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit today. We were worried he'd be bored by the end of the numerous previews but he perked up again when the short started (a Christmas one involving the penguins from Madagascar) and though he was squirmy during the feature he was clearly enjoying it. Afterwards, he exclaimed on our way back to the car, "I loved the rabbit movie!" The film was quite good although it did feel like an extended short than a feature film. The ever silent Gromit (or more properly, his animator) did the best acting job. There are many wonderful visual puns sprinkled throughout the film but the story itself is rather weak. I prefer the plot of A Close Shave. Nonetheless, I'm sure when Curse of the Were-Rabbit is out on DVD, we'll get a copy for Sean.

Sean's review: "I loved the rabbit movie!"

The Rest of Our Busy Day:

Before going to see the film, we had a busy day running errands. Our most interesting errand was to the farmers' market at the Castro Valley BART station where we loaded up on fresh vegetables for next week. We also got two new herbs for our garden: Mexican oregano and a ground cover thyme.

Home Made Spaghetti Sauce:

With some of the vegetables we got, I made homemade spaghetti sauce. Here's the recipe:

  • Six cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 small to medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 Tbs fresh rosemary, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, shredded
  • 1 can (32 oz) tomato sauce
  • dash of oregano

In a wok or deep pot, saute up the garlic, zucchini, onion and rosemary until the vegetables are golden and soft. Add in the parsley, give it a quick stir and then add the tomato sauce. Add oregano to taste. Lower the heat, cover and let simmer for half an hour.

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Steps: 6500


Up Early: 10/07/05

This morning I got up a little early to pop into the shower (I normally shower before bed but just couldn't face it last night). Sean though is used to hearing Ian shower in the morning and gets up when he hears the shower start. Boy was he surprised this morning when it was me who was up and showering! He was later disappointed at just how early he had gotten up (about an hour early).

When I got out of the shower and came back to the bedroom to dress I found Sean "hiding" in our bed, wrapped up in our sheets. It was really nice to see him as I don't normally see him for the first time until I pick him up from day care. He told me in a serious tone that I had to go to work and he had to go to "one more school" before we could "stay home together" (aka the weekend).

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Steps: 6000


Everybody Wants a Buzz: 10/06/05

Tonight during his bath Sean pointed out his two newest day care bruises and went on happily explaining how he got them. Apparently the older kids have decided that they are all Buzz Light Year and they should all be trying to escape from the the play house (aka Sid's house) via the window (which as you'll remember doesn't work for Buzz either). And they always either end up pushing each other out the window, or falling out, and getting bruised on their knees and legs. At least now that he's talking coherently, I know what he's up to! Goodness.

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Steps: 6000


Price of Packaging: 10/05/05

Why is it that a couple items that normally sell for $2 a pop when combined together and relabeled as a specialty item suddenly cost $30? The ingredients themselves when bought separately only cost $5. I think I'll opt for the separate ingredients and leave the fancy packaging to the more gullible.

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Steps: 6000


Now It's My Turn: 10/04/05

Last night at eleven it was my turn at having the 24 hour stomach flu or whatever it really is. I called in sick at 6:45 AM this morning and then retired to a day of lying semi-delirious under the purring cat on the couch. By dinner time my appetite was more or less back and by bed time my fever had broken. In terms of previous stomach illnesses I've had, this one was pretty tame. My fever never got above 100° F and I only barfed once.

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Steps: 3000


Low Fever: 10/03/05

The rain predicted today didn't materialize. Ian is back to school. He's feeling better but not perfect. I'm still feeling fine though I have been running a low grade temperature of 99° F but I'm not sure if that's related to the stomach bug going around.

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Ian Sick: 10/02/05

Ian came home sick from school with what Sean had last Sunday. We sent Ian to bed while Sean and I ordered pizza last night. Then when it was time for me to go to bed, Ian retreated to the couch on the hope that I won't get sick. This morning I've been keeping a close eye on Sean to keep him out of Ian's hair. Sean and I went grocery shopping together. Then we baked chocolate chip cupcakes. We had lunch together while Ian stayed on the couch. Sean then napped for the remainder of the afternoon.

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Steps: 6000


Another Month: 10/01/05

It's hard to believe September is over. Where did the month go? It seems like I was just looking for a new quote for the top of the page and here I am again looking for a new cat quote.

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Steps: 6000