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A Goddess by any other name . . .

Yes, I am blogging over at the Goddess Blogs today.  So drop on by and check it out.  And leave a comment or two . . . apparently goddesses really like comments.

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A Creature of Habits

I really am a creature of habits and rituals. Take my morning writing routine. I wouldn’t even think of sitting down without my double shot latte, nonfat milk and two teaspoons of raw sugar. Not only a routine sort of person, but a high maintenance one at that. No other time in the year do I feel the pull of rituals and routine than I do in December. The holidays bring out the worst in me.

The “to-do” list becomes the “must-do” list. Must get the house decorated. Must bake enough cookies to give everyone a plateful. Must make the Kringle. Must get the shopping done. Must make a pile of gifts. Must wrap all those gifts. Must get the tree. Must decorate the tree. Last year the tree went up and then sat there for a week undecorated until one of the little heroes shamed us into decorating. Well, it had lights on it.

Every year I swear I am going to do this Christmas different, and every year another “must do” bites the dust and I feel immensely guilty that I am not like all the other mothers who seem to have it all together–the perfectly decorated house, the gifts all wrapped before midnight on Christmas Eve, the house party that comes off like something out of the pages of Martha Stewart. The last house party we had, the cat got into one of the meat trays and ate half the ham off it before I caught her. Then she ever so politely waited until the party was in full swing to come into the living room and “share” her ham by urping it up on the carpet. Oh, and there was the little kid who stood by the cookie tray and very carefully licked all the sugar and frosting off all the cookies. I said a silent, thoughtful prayer that he waited until he and his family were halfway home before he “shared.”

I’m really not a Grinch. I love Christmas. But right now, with all the “must dos” hanging over my head, I must admit to feeling a little “bah, humbug.”

What gets you out of the holiday crazies? What is on your “must do” list that is driving you to drink . . . eggnog? Any suggestions?

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Seattle 0, Mother Nature 2

So for the second December in a row, Seattle got slammed with a storm that reminded all of us out here that while we might not get snow, or tornadoes, or hurricanes, Mother Nature doesn’t leave us out. Here are some photos from my poor neighborhood, which is slide prone to begin with–heck, we just got the main road in and out of our neighborhood opened a month ago after it had been closed for nearly two years, after a slide in 2005 closed it for nearly a year, and then last year, a week after it reopened, the wind storm caused another slide, that left it closed for another eleven months.

Here are the poor folks on Cove Point Road:

The rain and snow we’d had all last weekend left the hillside so saturated, that when the deluge came Monday, the hillside had enough and slid down into the neighborhood below, bringing with it a ton of mud and debris, which ended up filling the cul de sac and all the yards, destroying this house’s carport and driveway.

Mind you, this is after the county has been in here with backhoes and trucks hauling out tons of mud.

This house was red tagged earlier this week, but I see they’ve let the people back in. I feel so sorry for them, and all their neighbors who have suffered damage. And worse yet for the thousands of people down in Lewis County, which was hardest hit, who have lost their entire home, livestock, pets and businesses. We just drove down through this area over Thanksgiving when we went to Seaside, and can’t believe the difference one day of rain can make.

And I was complaining about the six inches of water we had lapping at our front steps and foundation Monday morning. At least we had somewhere to pump it, and make sure our house stayed safe. So many others had no place to go and no way to stop Mother Nature.

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I do too have a life . . .

Continuing my cinema themed posts this week, I saw this on a Myspace bulletin and thought it was interesting. Supposedly if you’ve seen over 85 movies, you have no life. I beg to differ because I love movies and think they add to life in ways books can’t sometimes. Still, I decided to take the survey and see how I fared. If you want to do it here are the rules:

1)There are 208 movies on this list.
2) Copy this list.
3) Then put an X next to the movies you’ve seen, and add them up.

Have fun!

Here is how I fared:

(X) Grease
(X) Pirates of the Caribbean
(X) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest
( ) Boondock Saints
( ) Fight Club
( ) Starsky and Hutch
( ) Neverending Story
(X ) Blazing Saddles
( X) Airplane

Total: 5

(X) The Princess Bride
() Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy
( ) Napoleon Dynamite
( ) Saw
( ) Saw II
() White Noise
( ) White Oleander
() 50 First Dates
(X) The Princess Diaries
(X) The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

Total all together: ..8

() Scream
() Scream 2
() Scream 3
(X) Scary Movie
( ) Scary Movie 2
( ) Scary Movie 3
( ) Scary Movie 4
( ) American Pie
( ) American Pie 2
( ) American Wedding
( ) American Pie Band Camp
( ) American Pie Naked Mile

Total all together: 9

( X) Harry Potter 1
(X ) Harry Potter 2
(X ) Harry Potter 3
(X) Harry Potter 4
( ) Resident Evil 1
( ) Resident Evil 2
(X) The Wedding Singer
( X) Little Black Book
( ) The Village
(X ) Lilo & Stitch

Total all together: 16

(x) Finding Nemo
(X ) Finding Neverland
(x) Signs
(X) The Grinch
( ) Texas Chainsaw Massacre
( ) Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
( X) White Chicks
( ) Butterfly Effect
(X ) 13 Going on 30
( X) I, Robot
(X ) Robots

Total all together: 24

( ) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
( ) Universal Soldier
(X) Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
( ) Along Came Polly
(X) Deep Impact
( ) KingPin
( ) Never Been Kissed
(X) Meet The Parents
( X) Meet the Fockers
() Eight Crazy Nights
() Joe Dirt
( X) King Kong

Total all together:29

(X) A Cinderella Story
(X) The Terminal
( ) The Lizzie McGuire Movie
() Passport to Paris
( X) Dumb & Dumber
( ) Dumber & Dumberer
() Final Destination
( ) Final Destination 2
( ) Final Destination 3
() Halloween
(X) The Ring
( )The Ring 2
( ) Surviving Christmas
(X) Flubber

Total all together: 33

( ) Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
() Practical Magic
( X) Chicago
() Ghost Ship
( ) From Hell
( ) Hellboy
( ) Secret Window
( X) I Am Sam
() The Whole Nine Yards
() The Whole Ten Yards

Total all together: 35

(x) The Day After Tomorrow
( ) Child’s Play
( ) Seed of Chucky
( ) Bride of Chucky
(X) Ten Things I Hate About You
( ) Just Married
( ) Gothika
() Nightmare on Elm Street
(X) Sixteen Candles
() Remember the Titans
( ) Coach Carter
( X) The Longest Yard
( ) Gridiron Gang
( ) The Grudge
() The Grudge 2
( X) The Mask
( ) Son Of The Mask

Total all together: 40

() Bad Boys
( ) Bad Boys 2
( ) Joy Ride
( ) Lucky Number Sleven
(x) Ocean’s Eleven
(X) Ocean’s Twelve
(X) Bourne Identity
( X) Bourne Supremecy
( ) Lone Star
(X ) Bedazzled
( X) Predator I
( ) Predator II
( )The Fog
( X) Ice Age
(X)Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
( X) Curious George

Total all together: 49
(x) Independence Day
() Cujo
( ) A Bronx Tale
() Darkness Falls
( )Christine
() Children of the Corn
( X) My Boss’s Daughter
( ) Maid in Manhattan
(x) War of the Worlds
() Rush Hour
() Rush Hour 2

Total all together: 53

( ) Swimfan
(x) Miracle on 34th street
() Old School
( ) The Notebook
( ) K-Pax
( ) Krippendorf’s Tribe
() A Walk to Remember
( X) Ice Castles
() Boogeyman
(X ) The 40-year-old-virgin

Total all together: 56

(x ) Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring
( x) Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
( x) Lord of the Rings Return Of the King
( X) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
( X) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
( X) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Total all together: 62

() BASEketball
( ) Hostel
( X) Waiting for Guffman
() House of 1000 Corpses
() Devils Rejects
(X ) Elf
(X) Highlander
( ) Mothman Prophecies
( ) American History X
( ) Three

Total all together: 65

( ) The Jackal
( ) Kung Fu Hustle
( ) Full Metal Jacket
( ) Shaolin Soccer
( ) Night Watch
(X ) Monsters Inc.
(x) Titanic
(X) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
() Shaun Of the Dead
() Willard

Total all together: 68

( ) High Tension
() Club Dread
( X) Hulk
( ) Dawn Of the Dead
(X ) Hook
(X ) Chronicle Of Narnia The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe ( I even watched this last year as the girls school Christmas play!!!)
( ) 28 days later
( ) Orgazmo
( ) Phantasm
(x ) Waterworld

total all together: 71

() Kill Bill vol 1
( ) Kill Bill vol 2
( ) Mortal Kombat
() Wolf Creek
() Kingdom of Heaven
( ) The Hills Have Eyes
( ) I Spit on Your Grave aka the Day of the Woman
( ) The Last House on the Left
( ) Re-Animator
( ) Army of Darkness

Total all together: 71

(x) Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
( X) Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
( X) Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
(X) Star Wars A New Hope
( X) Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back
( X) Star Wars Return of the Jedi
()Ewoks the caravan of courage
()Ewoks The Battle For Endor

Total all together: 77
(x) The Matrix
(X ) The Matrix Reloaded
(X )The Matrix Revolutions
( ) Evil Dead
( ) Evil Dead 2
( )Team America: World Police
( ) Silence of the Lambs
( ) Hannibal
( ) Red Dragon
() Anger Management

Total: 80

See, I told you I have a life.

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It's December so I should be shopping, right?

Wrong. To me, December means head to the nearest multiplex because all the good movies are coming out. May/June/July and December are the best months for movie goers, so I always start scanning the holiday movie releases early to see what looks great. A few years back, the DH and I spent the week after Christmas doing nothing but hitting movies–I think we saw Walk the Line, King Kong and two others that I now can’t remember that week. It isn’t the holiday cookies that give me those extra 5-10 pounds we all gain at the holidays, but the movie popcorn with a box of M&Ms tossed inside it that gives me my winter coat, shall we say.

Now that DH isn’t a huge movie goer, but I’ve trained him up over the years and he’s gotten to be a bit of a cinema fan. Luckily for me, the little hero inherited my cinema genes and he’s always up for an afternoon of movies. So while we were in Seaside for Thanksgiving, we started the holiday season off, not with tax free shopping that Oregon offers, but a trip to the local cinema to see Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. I was sort of ho-hum about going to it, but it was his turn to pick, so off we went. Wow! Was it delightful. No cursing, no flatulence jokes, no scenes that make me wonder how they got into a “family” movie and that I’ll have to “explain” later. Just a beautiful, heartfelt story about the power of magic and believing. Truly a wonderful movie that shouldn’t be missed if you like just the right touch of innocence and don’t require any explosions in your movies.

With my heart full of warm expectations, and my stomach full of popcorn, I began to get excited about the rest of the holidays. But as I’ve looked over the holiday offerings, I am feeling a little ripped off. Nothing that looks like a heart pounding good time, like King Kong, or anything that offers a wonderful look into someone’s life, like Walk the Line. There is the Bob Dylan biopic that is coming out, but that sounds more gimmicky than good story telling with 6 different actors playing Dylan. There is the Will Smith movie, I am Legend, that opens soon, but I just can’t go see that. Not a fan of “they only come out at night” movies. I mean, how do you get home after the movies, in the dark, after you’ve seen a movie like that?

So next on the must see list is the new installment of National Treasure. Little hero and I loved the first one–him because he loves mysteries and history. Me because I love both those things and two other words: Nicholas Cage. Go sit and watch Nicholas Cage for two hours? I’m there. The other films on my list include, August Rush, Walk Hard (which looks totally hilarious), Atonement, Youth without Youth and my final must see: Enchanted.

The clips for Enchanted look hilarious and the reviews look decent, and I’ve always been a Patrick Dempsey fan, so this is one we’ll all go see. Besides, it looks like it will end “happily ever after.” And as a romance writer, I can’t argue with that–it happens to be my favorite kind of ending. Like when you find one more M&M at the bottom of the popcorn bag when you were convinced they were all gone.

So tell me, what movies are you looking forward to? What are your favorites? What actor won’t you miss, no matter what sort of turkey of a movie he’s starring in (think Nicholas Cage in Ghost Rider)? Favorite movie food?

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Feed the World, One Word at a Time

On the news Sunday night was a clip about all the Thanksgiving shopping, and they were say that while the Friday after Thanksgiving is “Black Friday, ” the following Monday, this past Monday, is known as “Online Monday,” one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. They went on to explain that while this is a great boon to online retailers, the companies that all these online shoppers work for loose half a billion dollars in productivity. Yes, half a billion dollars is lost on Online Monday because everyone is busy hitting Amazon.com, Overstock.com, BlueNile.com (hint, hint, honey, if you are online and reading this), and all the other online ways you can waste your time on do your part to help the flagging economy.

Of course reading blogs is exempt from the time wasting element, because you just learned the importance of online shopping on the Monday after Thanksgiving and you can forward the link to my site to all your friends so they can learn about it as well, and that is nearly as good as having spent an hour or so Monday morning shopping .But if you are still feeling left out because you didn’t spend some work time doing something frivolous, yet oh, so necessary, then let me do my part and send you to Free Rice. I only offer this site as a remedy because you can thumb your nose at productivity for a little while and yet feel good about it because you are feeding the world.

Oh, and just so we are clear on this, Free Rice is addictive. So force yourself to quit periodically and report back with your high scores. I’m at 40 so far.

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Anarchy Thanksgiving

Okay, I lied. I wasn’t planning a traditional, family laden Thanksgiving. All the while I was feeding you all recipes and encouraging a Martha Stewart marathon, I was packing my bags and cookware and getting the heck out of Dodge. And quite frankly, I don’t feel guilty. Not in the least. Because the four of us, instead of spending the Thanksgiving weekend working on cleaning and cooking and then cleaning again and resorting to Black Friday spent four days:

In Seaside, Oregon. Yes, this the northern Oregon coast in the late November. And it was a balmy 56 degrees. At Thanksgiving. And so we flew kites,

Taunted the waves:

And found out just what it’s like when the waves catch you:

I didn’t lie about cooking dinner, because I did cook a real a Thanksgiving dinner, which we enjoyed in a sort of peaceful, quiet solitude.

Not a lot of people were there, so we truly had the beach to ourselves,

and if I hadn’t taken these pictures, I don’t know if anyone would have believed us. We dubbed it “Anarchy Thanksgiving,” because it was a chance for us to get away to a place we love, not fret about work or autism (because Matthew loves the beach, and it is the one place where he is an ordinary, normal little kid)

(and yes, he is in bare feet–we were all in bare feet, again in November, in Oregon–crazy, huh?!) and there was no place to fret any of the countless other things that fill our regular days, and believe me, it was wonderful. Hope your T-day was just as beautiful, and perhaps had a pinch or so of anarchy as well.

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Three Things I Am Thankful For

This week always makes me ask myself what am I thankful for–which is probably something we should all be doing every day, but this is the week for blessings and here are mine:

1) My family. All of them. My husband and kids. My mom and dad. My brother and his family. My husband’s family–he’s got all these wonderful siblings and lots of nieces and nephews and they are all really great people. I am thankful I knew all my grandparents, even my great-grandmother, and will carry with me the stories and lessons they shared with me. To me, family is like a great heartbeat that carries life along.

2) My home. I love our house. It isn’t always perfectly ordered, not well decorated, but it is ours. I love the uneven hardwood floors, the view of the Sound from nearly every room in the house, my gardens in all their seasons–even now when nearly everything is dying back, but from my kitchen window I see one rose blooming defiantly against the coming of winter. I love the quilts on the beds because my mother made them, my dishes because they were my grandmother’s, and the cacaphpny of children that surrounds me most days.

3) Writing. I am ever so thankful for this gift I have been given. Every time I get an email, a letter or see one of my books on the shelf, I say a quiet prayer of thanks that this is how I get to spend my life. I am humbled on the days the words tumble out like water from a garden hose, for I know better than to think that such magic, such an incredible well-spring is just my mine and mine alone. I don’t dismiss for a moment that I got to where I am without years of hard work, writing is always a gift in process–to continue owning it, it must be used, polished and practiced, and when the time is right, celebrated.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with such celebrations and overflow with blessings.

So tell the rest of us, what are you thankful for?

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Two Sides to Make Ahead

So the real countdown happens now as I start making the dishes for Thanksgiving ahead of time. It really helps to get as many things “fixed” before hand so that the BIG day is relatively pain free. Here are two dishes I always make ahead of time, usually on Tuesday:

Fresh Cranberry Relish

2 bags of fresh cranberries
1 clean and blemish free seedless orange
1/2 – 1 cup of sugar
Food grinder

Rinse the cranberries and sort out the mushy ones and the ones that are really white. Grind the berries through the food grinder (I have a attachment for my KitchenAid mixer that does the trick). Quarter the oranges and send them through, rind and all. When you have it all ground, mix in a 1/2 cup of sugar. Taste it to see if it is too tart and then add a little more if necessary. Let it sit in the fridge so the flavors blend. On Thanksgiving, I love to put this relish in a beautiful cut glass dish that was my great-grandmother’s.

This next recipe is one my family begs me to make every year for any holiday. I found the recipe in Good Housekeeping years ago, and it was an immediate hit. Even better, it can be made ahead, put in an oven proof dish and warmed after the turkey is pulled. Oh, and did I mention it is quick to make and completely easy?!

Spiced Pearl Onions

Two bags of frozen pearl onions
3 T brown sugar
2 T butter
2 t raspberry vinegar
1 t tomato paste
1/4 t salt
1/4 red pepper flakes

Boil the frozen onions for about 10 minutes, drain and put into a skillet. Add all the remaining ingrediants and heat over medium high heat until the onions start to brown and the sugar carmelizes– about 10 minutes. Watch this dish carefully and stir often to keep them from burning. Then put them in an oven proof dish and let cool, and then refrigerate until Thanksgiving. Warm in the oven while the turkey sits and waits to be carved, or return them to a skillet and heat them quickly on the stove. Very yummy.

Okay, so do you want to share a side dish with the rest of us?

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Only How Many More Days?

Yes, the countdown to Thanksgiving has begun. If you read The Goddess Blogs, you might have seen my comments about disastrous Thanksgivings which the ever wonderful Kathryn Caskie wrote about, but usually around here, Thanksgiving in like my own personal Super Bowl. Tons of planning, working out hauling groceries into the house, and of course all the cooking that I get done ahead of time. Yes, ahead of time. So if you are cooking Thanksgiving this year, don’t make the rookie mistake of thinking that you have to cook the entire meal that day. Are you kidding? You’d be too tired to decide between the pumpkin or pecan pie (and just make mine a sliver of each . . . no a little bigger sliver, please!). If you do a little bit each day, starting now, by Thanksgiving, you’ll be the star quarterback of the finest meal around.

So let’s all take a deep breath, say it together, “I wish to channel Martha, I wish to channel Martha,” and get going.

I usually start with the menu a few weeks a head of time. With Thanksgiving coming early, I’m a little off my game, but I am going to catch up quickly. Getting the menu and ingrediants written out now will make the shopping over the weekend (I recommend early Sunday or Monday morning as the BEST time to shop for Thanksgiving). Tuesday shopping is frowned upon and don’t even drive past the grocery store on Wednesday. So here’s the tentative menu for Thanksgiving at the Boyles:

  • Turkey (Well, duh)
  • Stuffing
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • Spiced Pearl Onions
  • Asparagus or green beans (whatever looks good in the store)
  • Mom’s rolls (I know, we are having stuffing, but you have to have Mom’s rolls)
  • Some cranberry, pineapple, jello, marshmallow thing the kids (and adults who have room on their plate)
  • Salad with mandarin oranges and candied almonds
  • Cranberry relish
  • Fruit Punch for the kids

No sweet potatoes. I usually eat those year round, so I don’t do them on Thanksgiving. And no, I am not taking reservations. So now that I have the menu, I make the grand shopping list. We’ll go through that closer to Sunday.

So what is on your Thanksgiving menu that is special, you love, or that you absolutely hate?

NEXT UP: Making your own cranberry relish.

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