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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




 

 


Last Day of November: 11/30/05

November is drawing to a close. We're having rain. We had to pull Sean's yellow jacket out of storage and he's thrilled to see it again.

Winter Stew:

Last night I made our first stew of the impending winter. Here's the recipe:

Few tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 pound cubed beef (browned)
5 cloves of garlic (diced)
2 leeks (diced)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups carrots (sliced)
1 16 oz can of butter beans
2 potatoes (sliced)
3/4 head of cabbage (shredded)
1/2 bunch of spinach
1 16 oz can of tomato paste
1 can of cream of tomato soup
1/4 cup red wine
2 cups water

Brown the beef, garlic and leeks in the olive oil at the bottom of the stew pot. Then start adding the other vegetables and the liquid. Put the spinach leaves on top and don't mix them in to the stew. Cover and cook on a medium heat for about 1 hour.

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Steps: 3200


Holiday Cards: 11/29/05

Today I've ordered this year's box of holiday cards from Shutterfly. I've also finished the bulk of my shopping. As with two years my card is a custom design done in Carrara, Bryce and Photoshop. Also most of my gifts this year will be custom made.

Raining:

The first serious rain of the season began last night just as Sean and I were loading our week's groceries into the trunk. I quickly got them into the trunk and then Sean in the car because it went from a slow drizzle to a full downpour in a matter of seconds. It has continued to rain since last night.

Cold Cat:

Besides the rain we have also been having cold weather. As it has been so cold we're leaving our bedroom door open for Caligula. She usually come in around four in the morning and curls up on our bed. This morning we found her curled up between us.

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Steps: 6000


Official NaNoWriMo 2004 Winner!Nanowrimo Winner! 11/28/05

I'm done! I'm done! I'm done! And I didn't have to struggle as much as I did last year. My second successful attempt at writing a novel in a month is finished. Woohoo! Tonight I can relax and not worry about word count. I'll probably be doing this crazy thing again next November.

Back to Work

It's Monday and I'm back to work. I was in a little late today because of an accident just at the on ramp to the 880 from where the 92 starts. It backed up traffic all the way to to D street.

Cold and Now Rainy?

Last night it was very cold as it was clear and windy. Today it is supposed to start raining for the rest of the week so at least it will be warmer. The cat this morning wanted to come in and snuggle in bed as it was so cold and probably because she had missed us on our trip.

Tonight Ian is going to make hot chocolate for Sean so on the way home Sean and I will pick up a package of mini marshmallows at the store when we do our weekly grocery shop.

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Steps: 12133


Home Again: 11/27/05

This morning we drove home. The 101 was shut down because of a bus accident so around Harris Ranch the traffic got really thick with people being diverted onto the 5. We lost maybe half an hour of travel time and that's with stopping at two rest stops and having an hour long lunch at a very busy Denny's.

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Steps: 5000


Decorations: 11/26/05

Today Ian helped me shop at Michael's for most of what Sean and I will need to make our own Christmas wreath for the door. We've decided to go for a California style with a fruit and vegetable theme rather than a red, silver and gold glass ball theme.

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Steps: 7000


Visit from Mom: 11/25/05

Mom made her annual trek up to South Pasadena for lunch and to see Sean. It was great to see her. I got a chance to give her a birthday gift and one for Bob. She also brought up a wonderful bike helmet for Sean when he's riding his trike to and from the park. Mom stayed until it was Sean's nap time.

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Steps: 3000


On the Road and Happy Thanksgiving: 11/24/05

Ian got up with the alarm and picked up Glenn at his hotel near Stanford while I packed and got the car loaded. Sean spent the time finishing watching Kiki's Delivery Service. We were on the road by eight thirty. We stopped at the truck stop diner we have eaten at once before. It's just outside Tracy. We had a great breakfast and lots of good and hot coffee. Sean packed away a breakfast that makes me wonder if he's growing again.

We stopped again at the Lost Hills Denny's because Sean and Glenn were hungry and Ian and I were thirsty. I ended up just having a bowl of soup and a soda but it was enough to refresh me and then it was my turn to drive. Though the traffic was light we had a lot of haze and that was hard on the eyes. Fortunately the haze cleared at the Grapevine and we arrived at South Pasadena at just past three, nearly an hour and a half earlier than expected.

Thanksgiving was wonderful though a little late for Sean's tastes. He ended up bowing out of it early having only eating a roll and having drunk a cup or two of milk. Ian and I tag-team washed him and got him tucked into bed. I think there were twelve of us present.

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Steps: 3000


On Track for Pumpkin Pizza: 11/23/05

Last night Sean and I did all the preparation we needed so that tonight when we get home we can quickly whip up a pumpkin pizza. We cooked our remaining pumpkins and I made the pizza dough. The pizza dough is now half baked and waiting for us to add our toppings tonight: pumpkin flesh, garlic, pesto, and mozzarella cheese.

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Steps: 4500


KikiKiki's Delivery Service: 11/22/05

We introduced Sean to Kiki's Delivery Service over the weekend. He actually doesn't mind watching it in Japanese. I figure pretty soon he'll be picking up some of the words. On the way home from school, Sean was telling me about the movie. He likes the scene where Kiki's broom breaks and the scene where the airship crashes into the clock tower. He said though that Kiki and the airship drivers both need tow trucks!

Eat Your Beets:

Last night I made freshly cooked beets. Ian and Glenn both liked them (and were both sure they wouldn't). First of all the tough outer skin should be peeled. Then the beets are best when cooked with their stocks and leaves. Put in a splash of vinegar and the juice of one lemon. Bring the beets to a rolling boil and cook for half and hour to forty minutes. Yummy!

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Steps: 6000


Back to Work: 11/21/05

It's the Monday before Thanksgiving so things will be busy today. We will be doing everything ahead of schedule so we can sneak out early on Wednesday. Of course I won't be driving down to South Pasadena until Thursday morning because of Ian and Glenn's schedules.

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Steps: 7000


Owls with Glenn: 11/20/05

Sean and I took Glenn to Sulphur Creek to see the birds, fish, amphibians and snakes. They've done a nice job in the recent remodels. I think it's been about six months since our last visit so everything was new and exciting to Sean. Glenn seemed to enjoy the trip as well.

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Steps: 4500


Green Door Part Two: 11/19/05

The painter came at a very good time today to get the door painted. We kept Caligula locked in the bathroom during that time but we only had to keep the door open for an hour (rather than the three hours listed on the notice). Whatever paint he used is wonderful. It coats well and it dries quickly. Unfortunately the door sticks a little now and the cat snuck out and into our neighbor's home as her door was still drying.

Glenn is Here:

Glenn got an earlier flight but then the flight was delayed on take off so he ended up landing at the same time he would have landed on the original flight. Ian picked him up at SFO while I stayed home to straighten things up and to let Sean nap.

We finally got Sean up at just past six. At first he wasn't too keen to see Glenn after all the build up but he quickly warmed. By the time we were in the car heading to Pleasanton for dinner at Chevy's, Sean was giving his uncle the grand tour of the area, telling him about the broken back-hoe we had seen earlier in the week, the generator run lights at the grocery store parking lot, and other recent stuff of interest to Sean.

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Steps: 4500


Green Door: 11/18/05

Why is it on the one Saturday when we're going to be busy getting ready for Glenn to show up that we have to have our door painted green? The door has to then stay open for three hours while it dries. We have plans to take him out to dinner after Ian picks him up from the airport. Argh! Stress! It also means locking the cat up in the bathroom for three hours. Poor cat. Stupid green door. I'm tempted to ask them for a bucket of paint so I can do it myself.

Steps: 4500


World's Ugliest Cherry Pie: 11/17/05

Last night Sean and I finally had the time to make the cherry pie we've been planning for a week. The problem was the crust. I rushed to get it done and didn't work the butter in right so the bottom one was too dry. Then Sean had been playing with the remaining dough as I had been distracted by the bottom crust. He had added a bunch more flour (and gotten himself covered head to toe in flour as well as the table and his chair). The top dough just wasn't going to roll well either to make a proper lattice. I ended up just sort of making blobs of flattened dough a la a peach cobbler. At least the filling was delicious. Sean did most of the work on the cherry pie filling. It turned out tasting wonderful.

Silly CSS Goof:

I've been busy updating my digital art gallery on this site and in the process I've been noticing some goofy behavior from my div tags. Today I realized I hadn't set a height for them even though I know they'll never need to hold more than 220 pixels worth of content. I've fixed the style sheet and cleaned up my pages. The remaining pages I have to rebuilt will be much easier to do now.

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Steps: 4500


Career Choices : 11/16/05

Last night Sean decided he no longer wants to go to school. He told me, "I'm not going to school any more."

"What are you going to do instead?" I asked.

"I'm going to go to work!"

"You're going to get a job?" I asked.

"Uh-huh," he replied with a big nod.

"What are you going to do for your job?"

Sean grinned. "I'm going to make waffles and funny shaped biscuits. I have everything I need: flour, sugar and baking powder." He paused. "Oh and milk and butter too and eggs."

Don't kids at this age want to run away to join the circus? Mine wants to run away and be a short order cook!

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Steps: 5000


Kirby: 11/15/05

Over the weekend Sean has taken an interest in playing Kirby Air Ride. He's actually getting very good at the races. Pretty soon I'll be coming in third behind Sean and Ian! We don't let him play very long, just while dinner is cooking for maybe for half an hour before his bath time.

The Sneaky Engine:

Last night we went grocery shopping for milk and a few other sundries. We stopped at the store that recently repaved their lot and are still using generator driven lights for the parking lot because Sean thinks they are so cool. We parked right in front of the light and hopped out of the car to take a look before we did our shopping. It only had two of its four lights on and was running very quietly.

"Why's it quiet when the lights are on? It has to make noise to make the lights go on," Sean said.

Not knowing what to say, I replied, "It's being sneaky."

Sean took the word sneaky immediately. It's his current favorite word. He's also come up with a little joke. It goes like this: "I'm going to be a sneaky engine." Then dead silence followed by a big grin.

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Steps: 4500


Back to Work: 11/14/05

It's Monday and I'm back at work. Not much else to report. The nanowrimo is going well, I'm just about at 30K words which puts me 4 days ahead of schedule.

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Steps: 6000


Riding the Trike: 11/13/05

Sean rode his tricycle to the park today. As he's now able to drive it himself we need to get him a bike helmet. We ended up spending two hours at the park. Half the time Sean was riding around on his trike. The other half he was either climbing up and jumping off things or playing with the other score of kids there.

Finding the Cat:

Our front door sticks now that its been painted. Sometimes it doesn't close all the way. Yesterday the wind blew it open and Caligula snuck outside. Fortunately Sean noticed and called it to my attention. We went outside and Sean found Caligula exploring under the front patio. Sean helped shoo the cat back inside for which he received lots of hugs from me for a job well done!

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Steps: 4500


Hayward Farmer's Market: 11/12/05

As the Castro Valley Farmer's Market is closed until May, we went to the Hayward one. We loaded up on enough vegetables to last until Thanksgiving.

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Steps: 10000


Veterans' Day: 11/11/05

Ian and Sean have today off but I'm at work as usual. The went to Lawrence Hall of Science Museum and saw the robot dinosaurs which Sean thoroughly enjoyed. Afterwards they came and joined me for lunch. We had lunch at Carl's Jr. and then we took a quick look at the British Import store.

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Steps: 6000


Up Too Late: 11/10/05

I got carried away with writing my Nanowrimo and didn't go to bed until half past midnight. Today I'm exhausted! On the plus side, I'm three days ahead of the 1667 words per day schedule.

Thunder and Lightning:

Last night around sunset a brief electrical storm came through the Bay Area. Sean was fascinated by the lightning but he wondered where the generators were hiding that were producing the lights in the sky. Ian tried to explain to him that the clouds were making the noise but I'm not sure he understood him.

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Steps: 6000


The Car is Home: 11/09/05

With just minutes to spare before my BookCrossing meeting last night, Ian arrived home with my car. It needed much of its electrical system cleaned (corroded wires) and now it drives like a new car. My headlights are either now brighter or better focused. I don't think I've ever seen that much of the road ahead of me in this car when driving at night. I was having so much fun driving my car I was afraid I'd be pulled over for reckless driving or speeding.

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Steps: 4500


Rain: 11/08/05

The rainy season has begun here in the Bay Area. We've been having rain on and off since yesterday. It is a refreshing sound to hear the rain falling at night.

The Car:

I am still driving Ian's car and he now has a rental. The service guys swear up and down that they've found the problem and that we'll be able to pick up the car this afternoon. I will see when Ian gets home tonight. He'll either be driving my car or still the rental.

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Steps: 4500


Sean to Work: 11/07/05

As I don't have my car, Sean, Ian and I piled into Ian's car. We dropped Ian at BART and then Sean and I went to work so I could do my morning publishing. We had cereal at my desk. Sean had two bowls (one mini box each; Cheerios first and then Fruit Loops). I had Frosted Flakes. Then I took Sean to school and came back to work.

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Steps: 4500


Ian at Home: 11/06/05

Ian is exhausted today from yesterday's car debacle. As today is Sunday we can't get a rental car so that means Sean has to go to work with me in the morning so I can do my morning publish. Sean thinks this plan sounds like a grand adventure; especially the bit about "eating cereal out of tiny boxes."

We did go out briefly to go shopping for a few groceries and a hacksaw. We also stopped at the use book store on B street. Ian has gone a few times but this was my first time. Unfortunately we couldn't stay long because Sean was very punchy from last night's late night. While we were there I happened to spot a first edition Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery. Yes; I bought it. It's the first book I've bought for myself in about six months. The cover art on the book I bought is much closer to Emily's description than what is currently being used.

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Steps: 4000


My Car and Ian's Very Long Day: 11/05/05

Ian took my car in for a major service. He was gone all day, stuck on the peninsula as the Serramonte Honda is the only place in the area that has a service area open on Saturday. He was given the okay to pick up the car just minutes before they closed for the day at five. The service was very expensive as lots of things needed to be fixed / replaced (ugh!!!). At six o'clock just as dinner was nearly finished cooking Ian calls saying he's stuck just off the freeway because the car is shuddering when driving over 5 miles per hour and that the engine light is on. He had to get the car towed back across the bridge. At seven thirty Sean and I hopped into Ian's car and made the trek to Colma to pick him up and take him out to dinner. We didn't get Sean to bed until eleven!

The Compost Bin:

My one big accomplishment for the day while Ian was stuck in car purgatory was to put together the composter that came on Friday. I just have to say that I want to strangle the engineer who decided "snap together" building is "easy" enough for one person to do with minimal instructions. The sheet of instructions was less than what comes with Ikea furniture. It took me two hours of fighting with the damn thing and slicing my left hand open in a couple spots to get the thing built.

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Steps: 6000


Cupcakes: 11/04/05

Sean wanted to make cupcakes tonight and I foolishly said yes thinking we had all the ingredients. There we were almost done when I realized we were out of baking powder! Let's just say this batch would make great paper weights but Sean seems to like them. I think we'll just let him finish them by himself.

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Steps: 6000


Pumpkin Pie: 11/03/05

Last night Sean helped me carve up the three remaining pumpkins that we had bought at the Farmers' Market specifically for making pie. He did an expert job of scooping out the yuckies and the seeds. I then chopped up the small pumpkins into pieces and steamed them for an hour. By the time we were done the entire upstairs had the wonderful aroma of sweet pumpkin. Tonight Sean and I will make pumpkin pie from what we cooked last night.

Driving Glenn:

Glenn will be interviewing in the week before Thanksgiving at Stanford. Then on Thanksgiving day Ian will pick him up, he'll join us for breakfast and then the four of us will pile into my car and make the long drive down to South Pasadena for the holidays. I think he's going to be surprised at how much Sean has grown and how well Sean will be able to hold up his end of the conversation.

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Steps: 6000


Welsh Turkey Udon: 11/02/05

We had udon soup last night and we're calling it "Welsh Turkey Udon" based on the main ingredients. Instead of green onions, Ian used a leek. Instead of chicken, he used turkey. It was delicious!

Back Pay:

Ian heard this morning that the pay raise he was promised at Berkeley has finally been put in place and better yet, he'll be paid in two weeks the back pay he is owed for the start of the school year!

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Steps: 6000


The Cutest Spider-man Ever: 11/01/05

When I picked up Sean from school yesterday he was in his Spider-man costume and was adorable! The costume fit perfectly and he was clearly very excited to be wearing it. Maria has promised to send me photos from the party but I haven't gotten them yet. One thing they did was carve jack-o-lanterns so we had one to bring home and it was much cuter than the ones we had done over the weekend. Sean also had a full bag of candy and chocolates.

On the way home Sean told me how much fun the party had been and how excited he was to be dressed in his costume. He also said that he had a lot of chocolate like the "fog monster in Danger Mouse" but no "bubbles like the blue monster." He apparently now likes M&Ms and it was quite a struggle to keep him from eating his entire load of candy in one evening!

I asked him if he wanted to go trick or treating but he said it was "too dark" and that it "felt like bed time" because of the recent time change. We instead stayed home, lit our three pumpkins, watched My Neighbor Totoro and went about our usual evening schedule except for getting many more hugs than usual from Sean.

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Steps: 3000