Monday, March 31, 2008

Sweet Graffiti

In all fairness to Big Daddy, who is away on business, I felt obliged to post about the cute little notes he left around the kitchen for Little Sprout and I to find while he was away. Here is an example (written in red Sharpie® marker):

It is rather hard to call him Mr. Ridiculous when it is obvious he has been looking for little ways to show he loves us. Nothing says, “I Love You” quite like Spaghetti-O's®, after all.

[Spaghetti-] O' That Man O' Mine, ha, ha, ha.

Send March Off With Clever Cupcakes

In like a lamb and out like a lion?

The lion-lamb dichotomy may be reversed, but that's March for you. This old adage is just right for making a "bye-bye" batch of cheery lion-and-lamb cuppycakes.

If you're staring out at another dreary day — like me — why not banish it with festively frosted baked goods? It fits right in with my winter decorating philosophy. Even Martha Stewart thinks it is a good idea. (Not that I'd jump off a bridge or get involved in a stock scandle if she did...hee hee.) M. Diddy, as the lifestyle guru was dubbed during her prison stint, has jumped on the cuppycake bandwagon by hosting her own Cupcake Week celebration.

So I've decided to make lion and lamb cupcakes today to say sayonara to the month of March. Anyone care to join me?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Savor a Flavor Victory

Little Sprout and the Hummus Pot My 13-month old son is eager to try new flavors so today I gave him two new foods.

Well, in truth only one new food — Branston Pickle — the other food — hummus — he had sampled a few weeks earlier at a neighbor's birthday party. I am thrilled to say he likes both.

Here is a photo of Little Sprout's fussy face. I had taken his sippy cup away to fix the inside straw. It had come loose and was floating inside the cup. See how he splashed juice all over his tray?

No, no, NO! Don't take my sippy cup away!
But before sharing more photos of my messy Marvin, I have to brag about Branston Pickle. You will understand why in a minute.

Little Sprout liking Branston Pickle proves that he shares my DNA. It is a big win for Mommy in Silly Hat Central's ongoing "Pickle Wars." And since I've been forced to endure rude graffiti scrawled across my Branston Pickle label, this flavor victory is one to be savored.

What rude graffiti?

The word "Pickle" on my favorite British condiment label had been altered with a Sharpie® marker to read "Puke." Big Daddy delights in these clever surprises, which is why he is sometimes called Mr. Ridiculous on these pages.

I know that often the better part of valor is in choosing our battles. But after the graffiti stunt lines were drawn and trenches dug in the war over whether Branston Pickle is an epicurean delicacy or a palate profanity.

So it was with great pride that I watched Little Sprout pick apart the tiny bites of his cheese sandwich to eat the saucy pickle bits first. I wanted to hug him close when he baby-signed for more!

Naturally I called Big Daddy right away to share the good news. His response?

“He's no child of mine.”

Like I said, it was a banner day for Mommy.

Resorting to Barbarian Methods
You may notice how tired and achy Little Sprout looks in the photos; it shows in his droopy eyes. He is cutting teeth so his gums feel hot and sore. After lunch, a Popsicle® and a ½ dose of Infant Tylenol® the little guy was feeling more perky.

Fun Quiz - Which Austin Heroine Are You?

I am Marianne Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

You are Marianne Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility! You are impulsive, romantic, impatient, and perhaps a bit too brutally honest. You enjoy romantic poetry and novels, and play the pianoforte beautifully. To boot, your singing voice is captivating. You feel deeply, and love passionately.

GUYS: take the Which Austin Hero Are You? quiz.

I can't tell you how tickled I am about the results of this quiz.

Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actors. She is gorgeous, intelligent, witty, well-spoken and we share the same middle name. (For the record, both she and Emma Thompson are Eminent Women of Distinction in my book.)

Marianne Dashwood is the character I felt I most identified with the first time I read Sense & Sensibility. It is a sublime novel. (But you know that! If you made it this far, you've read it yourself, or at least seen one of the movie adaptations.)

The description is slightly off the mark on two points:

  • my singing voice sounds like a cross between William Hung's and a cat caught in a blender set to liquify

  • The only thing I can play on the piano is chopsticks

Here's hoping you are delighted with your results! Leave me a comment telling me which one you are.

A Summer Bombshell (Glau, that is...)

I wish I had a copy of the April issue of Vanity Fair on hand to scan in the photo. I don't, but you can turn to page 179 of the latest issue, or click on any of the links to see the 26-year-old Texan in her superbity. Oh sweet mercy, look at those legs!

What a Beautiful Summer a Pin-Up Girl in Vanity Fair

The next “pin-up” link is from 2006 and, I suspect, a movie poster. It is a lethal-looking pose of Summer as Firefly/Serenity sexy psy-asssassin (“I can kill you with my brain.”) River Tam.

Format Change

Like an Easter bonnet, A Parently Speaking is sporting a spiffy, new three-column look. Do you like it?

I've wanted to make this change for a while, but couldn't wrap my brain around the coding. So I begged Big Daddy to do it.

He's such a darling man.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Egg Hunt

Oh the joys of waking to find that the Easter Bunny has come!

Not yet old enough for jelly beans or chocolate bunnies, Little Sprout found an Easter basket filled with toys, books and animal crackers waiting for him on Easter morning.

Little Sprout went hunting for Easter eggs around the living room!

Oh my! He had a grand time searching for eggs behind the drapes, tucked into chair cushions or in a nook by the stairs.

He would find an egg and put it in his basket, then get distracted because he wanted to take his exciting, new egg out of the basket and put it back in again (half a dozen times).

Out of the 12 eggs that had been hidden, my little treasure hunter nabbed 9 before the novelty wore off.

After the big Easter egg hunt Little Sprout asked Big Daddy to read him a story, and instead of his new Easter book, he wanted Tails! by Matthew Van Fleet. It is an interactive book where he can touch different textures of animal tails, such as soft, fluffy, shiny, spiny, clingy, and stringy.

Oh the irony! Big Daddy asked me to share a precious moment that needs to go into his memory book. Little Sprout and Big Daddy were hanging out on the couch when Big Daddy asked,
"Do you know who the Easter Bunny is?"

Little Sprout looked up into Big Daddy's eyes and pointed right at him! Years from now when he's older and questioning whether or not the Easter Bunny is real, we will look back on this Easter with a knowing smile.

Okay, just one more photo. (I know, I should have dashed around behind Big Daddy so the shot captured Little Sprout's expression of wonder. Hindsight is always 20/20.)

Don't the bubbles look amazing? I am almost hypnotised by them, as is Little Sprout. It just goes to show, sometimes the simple things are what life is all about.

And oooh, ha, ha, ha! If you look carefully, you will see one soap bubble perfectly poised in front of Big Daddy's nose -- so silly!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Choice Quote Meme

I don't know if this has been done before, differently or better, but I'm a big fan of a choice quote and I want to see what your favorite quote is.

Please leave me a comment with your answer to this question:

If you had to choose one, and only one, quote as your favorite, what would it be? Please include attribution.

Mine is centered around insight into the creative process
(i.e. what goes on in writers' minds):

I just sit at the typewriter and curse a bit.
-P G Wodehouse (1881-1975), on his technique as a writer, _Collier's_, 1956

I so identify with PG Wodehouse's technique.

A Man with Bread dropped me an e-mail with his quote, since his login failed. Here it is:

Time is the fire in which we burn...
-Star Trek

CaelieSon tried to access the Choice Quote Meme post as I was updating it, so she got an error. Blarg and bother, confound the unlucky timing! Here is her quote:

Go to Heaven for the climate, go to Hell for the company.
-Mark Twain

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Love You “Two Pieces”

Yesterday a weather-related power surge K-O'd the network card in our computer, isolating us from the Internet. Gasp! Horrors! Big Daddy (that darling man o' mine) identified the problem and fixed it so we were only inconvenienced for one evening.

On slow TV evenings I typically look in on my favorite blogs, so during naptime this morning I had some catch-up reading to do before settling in for a nice, relaxing write. Apologies to anyone who thinks "relaxing write" is an oxymoron.

This endearing exchange from Chicky Chicky Baby really warmed my heart. Chicky's mom posted about the relationship Chicky has with her grandparents. After reading it, I resolved to ask Little Sprout every day:

“How much does mommy love you?”
In anticipation of the day he shyly answers, “Two Pieces,”
holding up two fingers.

Just like Chicky and her Grandfather, I love Little Sprout to pieces. And those two pieces make everything whole. Thanks, Mrs. C for reminding us all about the power of love.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Death Does Not Become Her

This post was nearly titled: Morbid Much?

Why? After receiving the news of my beagle-mix Julie's latest trip to the vet, I have been breathing a huge sigh of relief!

I took Julie to the vet's office to have her lethargy, pale gums and tongue, and diarrhea checked out.

My previous post clearly shows how dismal I was feeling -- certain I saw portends of the end. Thankfully, the vet reported that she could find nothing amiss. Nothing except an increasingly taut, barrel-chested body cavity. (Julie has gained a lot of weight over the past four weeks.) Steroids will play havoc on a girlish figure.

A physical exam found no overt joint swelling due to arthritis, and confirmed the unfortunate return of diarrhea. (Poor Julie. Think of that scene from The Truth About Cats and Dogs where Uma Thurman administers first aid to a sick turtle. 'Nuff said!)

A sonogram of Julie's chest cavity showed no masses or lumps, just a whole lot of water weight. Her bloodwork was stable. No change in red blood cell count from last time.

I brought Julie home and hugged her close, thanking her for putting up with my hypochondratic episode. I beg the same indulgence from all of you!

Now, I'm off to bed before parades of pink elephants, twirling badgers in tutus or other freaky hallucinations creep out of the night.

Please do continue to send your caring thoughts and wishes for Julie's medically baffling and complete recovery. Your efforts so far have done wonders!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Julie Update

This is the most recent photo we have taken of Julie. She is scarfing down her dogfood as fast as she can before Little Sprout "steals" it out of her bowl and strews it all over the floor. It is a daily ritual they've developed and play out together.

I had intended to blog today about Little Sprout and all the new things he's learning and discovering (TRUCKS!), like scooping food onto his spoon all by himself and maneuvering the spoon (TRUCKS!) to his mouth without all the food falling off. Some even makes it into his mouth.

Instead I must share some painful and disheartening news. Julie's gums and tongue get a bit more pale each day. She is weakening.

What makes this seemingly sudden relapse more painful is that her last blood test showed her red blood cell count at 33 (35 is the beginning point for "normal" RBC count).

The vet took her off the last of the Immuno-type drugs last Friday and reduced her Predisone down a quarter tablet more. She had shown stability for several weeks and it was the next step in her weaning process. It is such a tragic turn of events.

I want to celebrate Julie and celebrate the place she has held in our lives. Each of us has shared a special relationship with her and she has left an idelible mark of love on our hearts. But all I feel right now is a swelling, desperate grief.

I try to take heart in the following three things. One, that A's Mom assembled an awesome 12x12 scrapbook for Julie that we all will be able to go through to remember her. Two, that we did everything we could do to help her recover. The drugs were stabilizing her but she wasn't really getting better. And finally, that when her time comes she won't be in any pain (just feel fatigued, go to sleep and not wake up).

Even so, our house is going to feel lonely and empty without our little Julie Bumpus.

Watching her slowly weaken casts a bleak and pallid pall over my heart and our house. Nobody but God knows how long we have left with her, so please, send your thoughts and prayers for Julie (for hers to be an easy, restful passing). Or even better, a miraculous and medically baffling recovery.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Happy 75th Anniversary, Drive-In Theaters

I was thrilled when I saw this bit of entertainment news on A quick Google search confirmed Variety and a few other news sites have picked up the story.

Three cheers for families going to the movies!

Big Daddy has fond memories of he and his brothers piling into the back of the station wagon - in their P.J.s - for a family evening at the drive-in. Even though I grew up within 20 miles of one, my family never ventured out to see a drive-in movie. Little Sprout needs to experience this bit of Americana!

Here is a link to a map of open drive-in theaters across the U.S.A.


Movie and Industry News
Posted by Tracey Coyle
Published: March 12, 2008 - 10:46 AM

Variety magazine is reporting that the Drive-In Theaters may be back on the rise. The outdoor theaters are celebrating their 75th anniversary and the remaining 636 screens in operation say sales have been jumping.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lordy, Lordy, now MORE Sins!

Those fine folks over at have posted an article on the 7 new SOCIAL sins the Vatican recently issued.

What?!? Now I have to worry about my sins affecting society at large? I'm not sure I can handle that kind of pressure. I mean, for the love of God, I recycle. I don't do drugs. And I generally consider myself to be a moral, upright, human being.


If this had really been that imperative to the salvation of our souls, wouldn't you think that His (departed) Holiness, the great Pope John Paul II would have covered it during his 27-year reign?

I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Colorful Brain Teaser

[Photo reprinted with permission]
Ellen over at Hurrayic posted a very interesting brain teaser recently that her daughter ripped from the back of an Annie's Cinna Bunnies package.

Try to say the color, not the word. It is not as easy as you might think. I ran through the list two or three times before realizing I was saying the word, not the color. Once my brain started interpreting the colors it was a lot more challenging.

Ellen was kind enough to grant me permission to use her photo. Leave her a comment if you enjoyed her amusing little puzzle. While you're at it, why not leave me one too?

Here's a tip: If you click on the photo a super-sized image pops up and it will be easier to read the small print.

Introducing Little Sprout

Ever since I started this blog, readers have had trouble identifying with the name Bruce.

Either they didn't know who Bruce was (That's him in the photo.) or they thought I had somehow misspelled his name.

So I'm throwing in the towel. From now on Bruce will be called Little Sprout.

And if you don't think he looks (even a tiny bit) like The Jolly Green Giant's young sidekick, then Lettuce Be on Your Head.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Kindness Is Never Wasted

I just had to share what happened to me yesterday. But to do that I have to rewind a bit.

Over the past year I have been downloading digital scrapbooking freebies from a couple of scrapbooking sites. During that time I have kept tabs on the blogs of a few designers whose work I like. Ellie Lash Designs is one of them.

Ellie does a great job on her digital scrapbooking kits, challenges and contests. Recently, she asked her readers to leave a recipe in her comments section and randomly chose four winners to receive her Kitchen Angels kit. It was such a simple idea, and one that really got me thinking.

Many designers ask for layout submissions before handing out free products. Now, I'm all for whipping up a layout for a chance to win cool stuff. But by randomly choosing winners from comments, Ellie's gift was more an act of kindness than a prize. And she got tasty recipes.

My college Public Relations prof would have said she is a relationship marketing genius. I think she didn't know what to cook and utilized her social network to get new ideas. Brilliant!

So I decided to share recipes in my blog.
(Isn't piggybacking off a good idea in itself a good idea?)

To thank Ellie, I e-mailed her about the Chocolate Coconut Balls recipe.

To my surprise, she sent a note back to say she appreciated my thoughtfulness and gave me two free kits -- just because!

I guess kindness is never wasted.

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” ~ Lao Tzu

(Chinese taoist Philosopher, founder of Taoism, wrote "Tao Te Ching" (also "The Book of the Way"). 600 BC-531 BC)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

-10 Hit Points for Gary Gygax

[Image Credit: wikimedia]

The deathnell tolled today for Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax. He rolled his last 20-sided die. He was 69. Farewell, Dungeon Master.

I played D&D in the eighth grade. Specifically, in eighth-period study hall waiting for the bell to ring.

I haven't thought about that time in my life or that idle pursuit in more years than I care to mention. But after hearing the news of the fantasy game developer's death, I e-mailed my old role-playing pals to suggest we pay tribute to the man responsible for fueling our creative imaginations.

And then a remarkable thing happened. I got replies from everyone I had contacted. Everyone.

Apparently I'm not the only one who felt a bittersweet pang of nostalgia at the news.

So this weekend we'll gather around a table, raise our glasses, nosh nostalgic D&D snacks, recount old war stories and before long we'll all be transported back. Those were the good old days.

Here's a sweet pang of nostalgia courtesy of my old DM's mom, who made a batch of these whenever her son asked her. He would bring them to school in a brown paper bag and store them in his locker. The contents of the bag would morph from perfect, coconut-covered balls into a solid mass of fudgy, sweet "goop" that we would devour right out of the bag. (I know, how gross, eh?) It was a messy mouthful of pure chocolate love.

This well-worn recipe has been guarded jealously since my D&D days. It is a must-have for any late-night gaming adventure. I also make a batch of these every year around Christmastime, since they look a bit like snowballs. But I still call it "Goop."

If you can't make out the penciled-in instructions at the bottom, here is what it says:

Don't use nuts.

2 ½ hours before serving, place in ziplock baggie and store in a locker until squishy.

DM - Daren McCormick "Growf!" "Huey, Huey, Huey!"

I invite you to whip up a batch. Then post a comment back here to let me know what you think. I predict you will love them. They may even change your life.

Just like Gary Gygax did.

If you made it this far, here is a link to a YouTube video parody of Dungeons & Dragons.

Dragon Booster - Dr. Demento - Dungeons & Dragons

I would have embedded the video to make it an easy, one-click experience, but the content owner didn't want other people embedding this video on their sites.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Ward Off Winter Chill

What do daffodils, kites and Girl Scout cookies have in common? They're all associated (at least in my little corner of the world) with the month of March. March is a tenuous month, not unlike the creamy filling in an oreo cookie. It is sandwiched between two seasons.

John at From Here to Paternity describes March's delicate nature, likening Winter and Spring to roommates who don't see eye to eye. It's a great read, so please go see what he has to say.

Whether the weather in your corner of the world fits the bill or not, here are a few of my favorite early Spring indulgences to ward off Winter's chill and cure cabin-fever.

Daffodil Days
What is it about a bunch of fluffy, yellow daffodils that brighten your entire outlook? I always contribute to Daffodil Days because it makes me feel happy to have fresh flowers on my table, plus the contribution goes toward cancer research.

National Kite Festival
"Brushstrokes in the Sky" is the theme for this year's kite-flying extravaganza. Why not get out of the house and put up a kite?
All those bright "brushstrokes" will paint your heart light.

Saturday, March 29, 2008 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.

Girl Scout Cookies
As I do most Saturdays, I went to the grocery store this past Saturday to pick up a few things. And there they were! True harbingers of Spring: Girl Scouts selling cookies. What a sight for winter-weary eyes.

I rushed right over to grab a few boxes because, honestly, Girl Scout cookies are what get me through the month of March. You can bet that those girls will see me at their cookie table again.

What gets you through those dismal days before the snowdrops, hyacinth and crocus poke their heads through the last of the melting snow? Is it the sound of songbirds in the garden? Or tournament-style college basketball?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A New Look for Spring

Like the new banner? It was harder to create than I expected. I drove Big Daddy to distraction with my steady stream of PhotoShop questions before settling on a design. For the record he likes the old design "a LOT better" than this one.

It was a "Welcome Friends" weekend at Silly Hat Central. Early Spring-like weather coaxed friends and family out of doors. Three sets of visitors beat a path to our door, all of them wonderful!

First was my longtime friend Leslie and her daughter Mallory. They came to help me master a new software program and play with Bruce. We shared a terrific lunch of Roasted Red Bell Pepper Bisque with Shrimp and Romano Cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. All too soon they were called back home.

My parents arrived later that afternoon to spend some time with Bruce, rest and rejuvenate from the first leg of a long drive north from Florida. They hadn't seen their grandson in over a month so it was the first time they saw him walk, climb, dance, and say his latest new words. They were amazed at how fast he could crawl when he wasn't walking, climb the stairs, and how much he had grown since last they had seen him. Every look from him, whether he was flirting, laughing, shy or rambunctious, completely charmed them. He had them at hello!

Gammy and Grandpa got to share yummy cuppy-cake with Bruce, since they had missed his birthday party. He gleefully gobbled icing and fistfuls of tender cake, mashing it all over his face. He even offered to share bites. God love her, my mom accepted his gooey, crumb-covered, fisty-bite offerings without batting an eye. There was icing up his nose and behind one ear, cake matted in his hair, mushed under his chin and smushed thoroughly into both sleeves. Gammy looked almost as messy, but she didn't seem to mind. Now that's Grandmotherly love!

Not long after they had said their goodbyes we got a surprise call from Bambi and her husband Tony. They happened to be in the neighborhood and wondered if they could stop by? Of course, of course! They brought Bruce two adorable shirts: one said "Chicks Dig Me" and the other "Lock Up Your Daughters." Ha ha ha! They also spoiled him by bringing him a toy chest. With all the toys that are threatening to overtake our house, it couldn't have come at a better time. Sadly, they couldn't stay long, since they also had a long drive ahead of them. It was a short, but lovely visit.