Friday, July 30, 2010

CSN Stores Again, and a giveaway

Can we say procrastinator and indecisive?  I've been working with CSN stores, just like nearly every other blogger out there it seems (CSN has been busy in their promotions department!) but never managed to order anything to review, because there is so. much.stuff.  Seriously.  Lighting, shoes, toys, office supplies, baking supplies, dining room furniture, bedroom furniture...what to choose?  If you guys haven't checked out CSN, or don't know what I'm talking about, you should take a peek.  Their dining room furniture is gorgeous, and while I love my table (and my tablecloth!)....our Sunday family dinners are about to swell again, up to 13 regulars, plus friends (and with 3 adult/teen kids, there are ALWAYS friends in attendance.)  Our table + folding table is already feeling a little crowded.

ANYWAY, I ordered something to review, and I'll show you that when it arrives.  CSN contacted me again- would I like to do another review or giveaway?  Ummm...yes?

So.  Leave a comment on this post to be eligible for a $40 gift code to CSN stores, good for ANYTHING they carry (but not shipping.  Because...they don't carry shipping.  Make sense?)  I'll draw a name on Monday, August 2nd!

--Myrnie

---Edited: PLEASE remember to include an e-mail address, if you don't have one set up on your profile!  You don't have to spell it out: something like madebymyrnie(at)gmail(dot)com is fine.  I want to contact you if you win! :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Walking and Heart Beats

What I did this afternoon, while the girls played

You guys are so fun, I love sharing happy news with you :)  Thanks for all the well-wishes.  I am half a week from being officially "second trimester" and am so happy to have energy and enthusiasm back.  I didn't realize how sluggy I've been...until I wasn't.  heh.

I went for a walk tonight for the first time in a long time, and stopped to say hello to a friend from our former congregation who is expecting her fourth in September.  She proudly showed me around her garden, and we had a great chat.  I've been realizing that I'm an introvert (which I knew) and that I've been lonely...and you know what, my friends have too.  Definitely need to be better about reaching out and contacting people- we got so wrapped up in our own concerns the past few months, with my pregnancy and my husband's new company.  I've been lucky to make some amazing friends in this area, and I want to keep them!

My second "baby" appointment was this afternoon- it was amazing to hear that tiny heart beat for the first time.  The baby was lined up perfectly with my own bloodways, and we could listen to both our heart beats together.  I had to laugh to myself- you and me kid, we're in this together.  It's a little weird to me to be in a new duo separate from everybody- it's just me and the baby, growing together, for the next 6 months until we finally get to meet.  That feels very holy to me, as it should feel.  It was nice to hear the heart beat- it always make the pregnancy real to me.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Do I Look Fat to You?





Aunt LoLo says I don't. But she also says I don't look pregnant, so then I whack her up side the head and go eat another piece of pie. Because that's the appropriate response to darn near ANYTHING when you're 3 months pregnant.

Although so many of you have written to me to say "Haha! You sound just like you're pregnant!" (See: copious mentions of food aversions and sloth-like behavior) this hardly seems like an announcement, but hey! Now it's official! (And after realizing that my baby grew from the size of a green olive to the size of a PLUM the last two weeks...well, that would explain the sudden need to cook, wouldn't it? Sakes alive, I've been hungry!!) And, umm....this ALSO explains my sudden insanity.

To everyone with whom I have day to day contact....I am truly sorry for how crabby I am, and please don't try to speak to me until I've eaten. It's not pretty.
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Meals for the Week

I did it, I wrote it down...so this is me, making sure I don't forget that I have ACTUALLY planned meals for this week!  (Plus....I admit that I forget that I know how to cook sometimes, and come to read these archives to remind myself: "Oh yeah!  I DO know some good recipes!"

So.  There's a lot more meat this week than I normally include, but my freezers are out of control*, and I'm trying to work on that before summer passes me by and I haven't done any stocking up!

Saturday: glass noodles with shrimp and cucumbers

Sunday: marmalade roast chicken, green salad with vinaigrette, boiled potatoes with green onions and sour cream, cherry (?) pie, mint ice cream (Shred extra chicken for frozen casseroles)

Monday: (bread making day) grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, mochi for dessert

Tuesday: (egg day- I trade piano lessons for eggs) biscuits and fried eggs, sausage

Wednesday: spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread

Thursday: fish sticks and mac and cheese

Friday: sandwiches?  

Into the Freezer: chicken for casseroles
Out of the freezer: cherries, shrimp, mint, chicken, cooked ground beef, fish sticks, sausage


*It's so bad, I'm going to write an entire post about it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tired

If you hadn't noticed....I've  been kind of...LAZY the last little bit.  Hey, it's summer!  Today totally whooped me, but we had fun!

Aunt LoLo e-mailed me last night: "Hey!  Let's make jam!  Tomorrow!  Come, bring the kids in their jammies, let's do it!"  Aunt LoLo is nothing if not impetuous...and welcoming.  Mimi and I managed to sleep in till 8:15 (don't be too jealous, she had too much cheese yesterday and was up from 3:00 to 4:30 crying), so by 9:30 we were dressed and at LoLo's doorstep with all my canning gear, pounds of fruit, recipes, jars, freezer jars...we were quite a sight to see!  The kids splintered off into pairs and we didn't see them until they got hungry again, and we got down to business- I'll have to poach some pictures from Aunt LoLo when she puts them up.  I'm sure there's at least a good shot of my weeny child-sized hands and some madly boiling jam.

We made a double batch of my favorite raspberry-rhubarb freezer jam, and a double (plus a little more) batch of my favorite strawberry jam.  The strawberry jam was pureed completely, because I was using frozen berries, and they always seem a bit like foam rubber when you cook with them later, so I thought I'd just take care of that issue right away!  Two hours start to finish, we had a clean kitchen and a small army of filled jars.  Since most of my canning up to this point has been done alone, after the kids go to sleep, this was a very welcome change!  I still can't believe we got it all done so fast- it probably helped that only one recipe had to be processed in the water bath.  Four hands sure speeds up the process!

The kids got lunch (Ernie was in tears, because she never got BREAKFAST, which she specifically told me this morning she intended to skip when I offered it, but she agreed to eat breakfast for lunch and ate 5 bowls of Cheerios.  And felt much better.  Umm...wow, kid.)  Home for naps, tidy the kitchen, help a Costco fairy unload a trunk full of pantry staples (thanks for saving me a trip, among other things, Dad!)

I should tell you, my dad doesn't mess around at Costco.  I mentioned tortilla chips, he bought two kinds plus a double pack of tortillas.  All bases are covered!  Plus strawberries for the girls, three kinds of flour because he couldn't find the one I'd mentioned until after he'd picked up two other kinds, 2 kinds of soymilk for the Meemster, raspberries, enough cheese to keep us in pizza and pao de queijo for a LONG time, and loads of other goodies.

Loaded all the grated cheese into 2-quart bags for the freezer, gave the girls a snack, transplanted some badly neglected plants into the garden, and got dolled up for a date with hubby!  We missed a 5:00 session at the temple by about 15 minutes and so had until 6:00 to enjoy dinner in the cafeteria- I know totally romantic dinner, but it was the most time I'd spent with him all week so it was a perfect thing.  (I didn't pick up a dessert in the line, but I totally should have- those ladies know their way around Jell-O, and I'm pretty sure it was an ingredient in at least 5 different desserts!)  The man who was serving the food behind the counter was pretty funny- I don't think he heard very well, so it wouldn't have helped to ask, but he practically drowned my plate in gravy.  In hind sight I would have begged off the from-a-mix gravy and just grabbed a bit of butter!  (I had yummy baked parmesan chicken pieces with mashed potatoes and a salad, and the husband had a really veggie-heavy bowl of clam chowder and a soft roll and an ENORMOUS fudge-topped brownie.  I don't think I could work at the temple and eat there every day and not end up looking like a house!)

Oh man.  This post is so long I'm getting tired again.  Sweet Aunt LoLo came and gave the kids dinner and put them all the girls to bed even Ming Wai (she finally agreed to a sleep over, I just finished listening to the girls giggle themselves to sleep.)  We'll have pancakes in the morning, and Friday's in the bag!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Glass Noodles with Shrimp and Cucumber


In search of a dinner for tonight, I thought about the "glass noodles" (mung bean thread noodles) that I keep in the pantry- they're quick to make, love sauces, and don't heat up the kitchen. Granted, our 65-and-cloudy days don't CARE if the kitchen is heated up or not, but I do! Tonight I had cucumbers, basil from the garden, and "poached shrimp." Gosh, I love that euphemism for "I filled a pyrex cup full of water and nuked some frozen shrimp." Drained and set aside to cool on ice, they were pretty good. The girls topped their noodles with just cucumber and yoshida sauce, but the sweet chili sauce and soy I coated mine is was perfect. Do you like spicy? I do. Nuanced, and balanced with something else sweet or smoky, I love spice!

This takes about 20 minutes from pantry to table, dirties on pan, and some bowls. Definite win!

Serves 4
Glass Noodles with Shrimp and Cucumber
4 bundles glass noodles (mung bean thread noodles)
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped a few times into large pieces
cucumber, halved, seeded, and sliced
5-10 shrimp, cooked
2-4 Tablespoons oil
basil leaves
Sauce (sweet chili sauce, soy, terriyaki, etc.)


Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a wok over high heat until it smokes- add the onions and garlic, and stir for a few minutes until they smell good and are softened. Scrape into a bowl and set aside. Add more oil to the wok if you need to and let it heat. Add noodles and stir fry quickly until translucent, about 2 minutes- they want to stick together, so stir and separate and lift as best you can. Scrape noodles into a bowl and set aside.

Let everyone make their own noodle bowls, and top with sauce.
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Monday, July 19, 2010

Chatty

  • I signed off of Facebook a week ago today- I was surprised it had already been that long!  I'm glad I did- if you hadn't noticed, I'm a bit OCD.  (Or CDO...right?)  A constantly updating stream of information just isn't a good companion for me!
  • With all the novels I read, I'm thinking I should set up a deal...1 substance-free fantasy story, 1 gardening book.  One book about Girls Who Do Things, one church book.  At least I've worked my way through the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and have started back at Genesis!  Good thing I'm a fast reader, at least for brain-candy YA books.  I'd guess I read...about 100 pages an hour?  I finished the big honkin' Harry Potter book (was that #7?) in about 5 hours, maybe 6, back before Mimi was born.  
She likes to read too- read herself right to sleep!
  • I realized yesterday that boys and I just don't get along.  Once, as I sat in the lawn chatting with a friend, her 20-month-old picked up a softball-sized rock and lobbed it at the back of my head.  Yesterday, awfully proud of a little 5-year-old boy who agreed to come up front and help lead the junior primary in "Do As I'm Doing" I got him to pound my fist in the hallway yesterday while we picked up kids from the nursery.  Pound it once!  Pound it twice!  Pound it again!  With a "good job" I turned away to go through the nursery door...and he pounded me in the stomach.  No more punching!  Ouch!  Obviously, I was a bit nauseous through sacrament meeting yesterday- ugh.  
  • What's on your to-do list today?  I have kitchen work (we're out of chocolate syrup, yogurt, and bread) and some gardening chores- my cilantro and lettuce bolted over the weekend, and my bibb lettuce didn't get watered and flat-out died.  I have some plants that need more space, so hopefully they'll be transplanted today, and some seeds that I need to just sprinkle wherever I can find space- cosmos, carrots, baby's breath, sunflowers, hollyhock, nasturtium.  It might be too late....but it's still so cold outside!  We had a week of 90-degree weather, and we're back to the 65 and cloudy.  
  • I let the girls go to a birthday party instead of taking their regular naps.  It was fantastic- pizza, rainbow cupcakes, a pinata, and enormous park, and Ernie's best friend was there too.  Is it terrible that she never actually played with the birthday girl?  They're not very good friends, but they were school mates and the birthday girl was included in Ernie's recent celebrations.  There were tons of kids there, all splintered into little groups of 2's and 3's doing their own thing.  
  • We gave the little girl a store-bought present.  On the one hand, it was nice for the gift to not stand out...but on the other hand...it didn't really stand out.  Ernie was confused when we were leaving and I showed her the gift I had packed in a bag.  "But Mom...we BOUGHT that!"  "I know, but did you make her a present?"  "No..."  Wish we'd had our act together a little more.  What do you think- we love giving handmade gifts, but I'm sure most of her friends prefer dolls and toys from the store.  What do you give for gifts?
(My kids would be over the moon with a basket of rocks...but maybe not everyone would be?)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Chirashizushi and Sumeshi and Crabs

Gesundheit.  You know you wanted to say it, didn't you?

Last night was another rotten sleeping night- I let Mimi fuss from about 3:30 to 4:15, changed her diaper, and listened to her howls and whimpers of disapproval until about 5:00.  This is after I managed to fall asleep around 11:00, and fed her (I know, I know...we're working on it!) at 12:30.  Gah.  Whenever I go right to her, she's absolutely fine and I should have left her.  When I try and let her work it out...I discover she has a nasty diaper.  Bad Mommy!  sigh.

BUT, some great friends that we hadn't seen in a very, very long time popped over for a play date this morning.  One of the best parts of having adults over, besides finding out over and over that your child is NOT alone in their ability to test our parenting mettle, is fixing adult food!  Kids had ramen with yoshi sauce underneath the play fort, while the moms ate red leaf lettuce tossed with grated parmesan, quick skillet croutons with parmesan and greek seasoning (follow the link to my recipe site for instructions), and my vinaigrette from the other night.  Yes, I love having adults to share lunch with- do we ever take the time to make good food for ourselves?  Not really.

Luckily both girls took naps this afternoon, I had time to rest on the couch and finish up a fantastic book- if you like fantasy and "girls who DO things" then you'll love this book.  (Girls who do things are kind of the antithesis of...girls who wait for other people to do things.  Heh.)

We finished up the afternoon with a family trip to the library- Ernie (very easily) met the halfway mark for the summer reading program (500 minutes in a month?  Oh please, she reads at least 2 hours every day!) but was pleased as punch to show the librarian all her colored-in squares and collect her fancy new notebook, complete with an elastic loop on the front to hold the pen she'll get if she can read another 500 minutes before September!  Actually, the challenge is keeping track of that piece of paper until she can turn it in!  It's the traveling reading chart- today we found it in the art cabinet.  She's decided that this notebook will be her special notebook for when we start school in September- good thing she's still excited to home school!

A quick stop in the grocery store* for supplies and Mimi's special lactose-free milk (she's been without for 3 days now, and was beside herself whenever we tried to serve her water or even juice.)  and home for...sushi! Poor Ernie, we only had one sheet of nori left, so I wrapped up one special roll for her, and made chirashizushi for the rest of us.  If you've never tried making sushi at home, but love the taste, or simply don't want to take the time to roll up enough sushi for your family, this is the way to go!  It means scattered sushi- think casserole.  A nice layer of seasoned rice, and all kinds of yummy toppings sprinkled over the top and the whole thing served family-style.  We had sliced omelette (just a few eggs with a pinch of salt and sugar, scrambled and cooked like a pancake in my skillet), crumbled cold leftover salmon, chunks and rounds of cucumber, and a good drizzling of my spicy sushi sauce I normally use for tuna sushi rolls.  I figured out why my sushi has been so bland- where I normally use a pinch or two of salt in my vinegar-sugar solution for the rice, Mr. Lopez-Alt instructs 3 whole teaspoons.  (see "seasoned rice" link above for more instructions.)  Wowzer.  Salt, where have you been until now?!  Totally made the difference, and actually made the sushi much more filling and satisfying because of the seriously upped taste quotient.  And yes, I found myself gulping back milk- that probably contributed to the "filling" part!


*Oh yes.  Our trip to the grocery was memorable not only because Ernie had to be carried screaming to the car for misbehaving, which has NEVER EVER HAPPENED BEFORE, our car battery died while Daddy and Ernie were waiting for Mimi and I.  The first woman he asked "Would you mind giving us a jump?"  She baldly said "Yes, I would mind" and drove away.  So much for making friendly eye contact and smiles on the way out of the grocery store together!  Granted, I was the one smiling, so maybe she didn't know we were together...the second woman I asked (why are there only woman at the grocery store tonight) apologized, but she simply HAD to get to a barbecue.  Third, a man pulled up, took the 30 seconds to help jump start the car, made sure we didn't have to drive too far, and went in to get his groceries.  Seriously, all we needed was about 30 seconds of power- we were so grateful for the help!  When Ernie figured out the car wouldn't start, I thought she was going to cry.  "You mean it won't go?  Ever again?!"  Umm...no, sweetheart.  It needs a new battery, that's all.  So when I got home and found 2 gorgeous crabs from my dad waiting in the sink...and knew I needed to serve dinner 15 minutes ago to my quickly melting family....sushi casserole won.  I am SO looking forward to those crabs tomorrow!  Dad's a total sweetheart :)  I found some of Mimi's favorite cheese, a super sharp 2-year-aged cheddar from Tillamook, in the fridge too, and some tuna for Ernie.  Ernie LOVES tuna fish.  Plus, this afternoon during naps I heard a quiet knock, and the front door opening...and Mom was there with some dresses- she bought a dress for herself a few weeks ago, realized it did not suit her shape at all, and would look fabulous on me!  I liked it so much, and wear it so often, she picked up two more colors, plus leggings.  I have the nicest parents in the world :)  Good looking, too!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Salmon, Salad, Bread, Pasta...what you could have for dinner tonight

I have to tell you about our dinner.  No, I didn't take a picture- that would mean I'm, like, a good and SERIOUS blogger.  Nope.  I just want to tell you about it.  Because this is the most dishes that have come out of my kitchen on a weeknight in a LOOONG time, and they were easy, and delicious.

First off, you have to know I slept last night.  After weeks of Mimi getting up 2 or 3 times a night, my own insomnia (laying awake in bed from 2 to 5, after getting up with a cranky toddler twice, and then finally falling asleep...only to have her wake up again at 6:30...I have not been a happy Mama.)  But last night, oh my.  Yes, she was up at 1:30 for a snack.  Yes, she was up at 5 for a diaper change.  BUT, we both slept till 9.  That was nearly 12 hours for me!  And the diaper change was forgiven, because it was the first thoroughly used-up diaper since Saturday, and I've been fretting about that.

OK, so we slept.  Friends came over for an impromptu and long-overdue play date.  Kids played fabulously well, friend-mom and I had a fantastic talk, and it was a wonderful morning!  Naps happened about 2 hours late, and Mimi didn't get up until five.  Score 3 more hours of sleep for our cranky miss!

4:45 I realized I had a fierce hankering for fish that would not be denied.  So!  Here's the dinner you're going to make soon, because it was awesome.  Plus, it's pretty darn easy.  Just make sure you go for a walk afterwards, yeah?

Oven Baked Salmon
Sprinkle salmon fillets with your favorite seasoning salt liberally, and wrap individually in foil.  Place in a single layer in a baking pan and bake at 350 until flaky.  (Ours were frozen so it took about an hour.)  Our favorite seasoning salt is Cavendar's Greek Seasoning- it's amazing on green beans and eggs, too.

Next up is your salad.  We had a head of red leaf lettuce torn up in the fridge (why do I always forget to do this to my lettuce?) but you can dress anything with this vinaigrette.  I used a few different sources for this one, but here's my final recipe:


Balsamic Parmesan Vinaigrette
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (white or red is good)
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon mustard (all I have is yellow, but dijon would be amazing)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced or smashed
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 cup olive oil

Dump everything into a screwtop jar and shake shake!  It's best if it gets to sit for a while.

Salad, fish.  This is getting good.  Next up is bread.  Since lately the smell of wheat bread makes me gag (what kind of granola head AM I??)  we've been enjoying french bread.  It's just bread, you don't have to baby it.  In fact, it's fine with one nice long knead in the kitchenaid machine and an hour rise, just like any other bread.

Finally, the noodles.  Yeah, it's a bit of over kill, because we already have bread on the table...but noodles are delicious, and bread is necessary for wiping up the last bits of vinaigrette after you finish your salad.  See?  Everything has a purpose in this life.  Bread just happens to be the cleaning crew in this case.

This recipe caught my eye in the Moosewood cookbook, Simple Suppers.  If you haven't checked this book out at the library yet, I recommend that you do!  If you don't like it, well...that was easy.  If you DO like this kind of cooking, I think you'll find a lot to like in this cookbook.  Vegetarian, easy, real.  Nothing stuffy or fancy.  Nothing complicated.  The cooking notes say this recipe was from Ruth Reichl, in Comfort me With Apples, and SHE picked it up from Danny Kaye.  I adored Danny Kaye as a kid, so that caught my eye!

I cut the butter by just a smidge, to make myself feel better.  (HA!)  I also used 3 tablespoons of jarred lemon juice instead of the juice of a lemon and zest that it called for, because it's what I keep on hand.  This says it serves four, but they'd have to be four pretty hefty eaters- it's rich, rich stuff.  I'd say it would serve 5 or 6 admirably as a side, and could definitely stretch even farther if you stirred in a load of veggies.  The cookbook suggests peas, and that would be perfectly lovely.  One more note- it looks impossibly thin, until you add the lemon juice and then it just thickens into the creamiest sauce....mmmm.  Ernie tried a few bites, but Mimi would have used a shovel to eat this, had a shovel been at hand.

Creamy Lemon Pasta
Paraphrased From Moosewood Restaurant: Simple Suppers


In a small skillet on low heat, melt 1/4 cup butter.  Add 1 cup of cream, and heat slowly.  Stir in 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice and set aside.

Stir sauce into 1 pound of cooked pasta, with a cup of grated parmesan cheese.  Thin with reserved pasta water if needed.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  (We didn't need any salt, but everyone peppered theirs lightly at the table.)

And there you go! Baked salmon, a quick salad, bread from the cutting board, and a 4-ingredient pasta sauce.  (By the by, this sauce is remarkably similar to a sauce I made last year for gnocchi- a little cream, a little gorgonzola melted in, and thickened over low heat with a little pasta water.  Why is cream so darn delicious on pasta?)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Love? Don't Love?

Things I love:

  • Kids making choices
  • Sushi (Did anyone else see the slideshow on SeriousEats.com today?  Yummm)
  • A clean kitchen
  • Fresh flowers
  • Watching my husband play with kids.  Any kids.  He's a genius with them.
  • Tiny green tomatoes in the garden.  (There are two tomatoes and THAT means I get to use the plural!)
  • Pants that fit
  • Sunshine


Things I don't love:

  • Students who don't show up
  • Charging late fees
  • Uncertainty
  • TMI on Facebook.  I keep thinking I should just shut down my account...or unfriend people...but what if I can do something to HELP them with the trainwreck of a life they're creating?  (Like a well placed comment on my part will help??)  Just makes me want to cry.  And, unfortunately, it makes me sound completely judgemental.  Emphasis on the "mental."  
  • Vacuum cleaners that stop sucking when pollen season hits, and it's finally hot enough to open our windows at night.  And OF COURSE trees release pollen at 5:30 in the morning.  Vacuum cleaner, you worked perfectly until I cleaned your brushes last week.  What's wrong with you??
  • Stomach aches
  • Pants that don't fit.  

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why I Never Considered Myself an "Artist" Growing Up

More...umm...well, stuff from my box. This time, it's salt dough!

A collection of...what? Looks like Calvin has been here. Hordes of zombie snow men. Melting, deformed, sad-faced snowmen.
(I think I'm seeing more than one artist here...if I had to guess, this is, clockwise from the top, LoLo (very angular), Uncle T (very young!), me (rounded, organic), Mom (look at that perfectly pinched hat brim: she's a perfectionist), and Uncle R (green and blue. ALWAYS green and blue.)

Did we have some sort of crazy, salt-dough, family activity? Or was this a relic from our homeschooled art course?)



Little Boy Blue...your heads on sideways. Inexplicably, you seem to be made of paper clips unwound, and formed into some sort of "running man" skeleton.
And did you know you shouldn't be bending like that? 15 years in a crawl space will do that to a dough boy, I guess. This boy, I have to admit, DOES look like it has my "mark" on it. (Am I the only one that can see my particular way of doing things in every letter I write and picture I draw? It's hard to explain, but LoLo's work is always more angular, mine more round.)

Hello. You look like...a slug. Or maybe that freaky cloud guy from Mario Kart. Did I create you? Dad?? This looks like one of your "get out of art quick" masterpieces :) Wait, if it was Dad's, it would be a duck...I'm stumped. Little rainbow slug, who made you?

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Way Back Machine

Mom and Dad stopped by the other day, with an enormous box- seems I packed up some treasures in middle school, shoved the box under the stairs in the crawl space, and forgot about that.

Let's take a look at a few things!

Oh Ken. Ohhhhh Ken. Turquoise and pink, with a bow tie. Halter-style jumpsuit. BACKLESS jumpsuit. White shoes.

Why, Ken? Why?



Pretty, pretty pony. Curly pink mane, a horn through her ear (is she playing "Unicorn dress up"?)


If I say this was all the rage in 2nd grade, can you tell me what year it was? I also remember two girls having a show down one day- they argued the day before about who had the biggest "parachute" pants, like MC Hammer had. They both wore them the next day, and the loser was quite huffy about it. (Yes- those are blue bubbles, in a glass bottle, on a string. Yes, I wore it to school as a necklace. No, I have NO idea why I saved it!) We also were really big into "slap bracelets" in our school, and quite a few girls had New Kids On The Block posters, sleeping bags, etc. MC Hammer was big, too...oh man. Somehow slap bracelets, bubble necklaces, and neon shoes were all the farther that pop culture made it into my life. We were too busy listening to U2, Janet Jackson, Tears for Fears, FYC, Men at Work, Peter Gabriel, etc. to listen to pop music! Mom, your taste in music rocks, and always has. I was too busy reading to pay attention to much of anything else, too! Haha- I'm probably the only girl I know who was reading Jane Eyre, Robin Hood, and Little Princess in elementary school :)

The pony is the only toy I've passed on to Ernie. There were two boxes of barbies and barbie clothes...but I looked at those clothes, looked at those fully-grown dolls...and I just couldn't hand them to my five-year-old. Call me a snob, call me head-in-the-clouds, but I want my little girl to play with little girl toys. And knowing that they'd be naked most of the time, because 3/4 of the fun of dolls is dressing them, and Barbies are easy to undress and near impossible to RE-dress...well, I just can't have those hussies laying out in the play room.
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Friday, July 2, 2010

Defying Gravity: Sneak Peek and a Work in Progress

Aunt LoLo is back in town, and you know what that means?  She has singing engagements!  You know what THAT means, right?  That's right: I'm suddenly the accompanist du jour again.

She picked a really fun song for an upcoming arts show- a family friend has a great big back yard, and puts on a "Cultural Event" every summer, with a catered buffet, white canopy for the performance platform, four-piece string quartets, etc..  Those folks won't know what hit them when LoLo busts out this piece, it makes me grin just to think about it.  (LoLo...I'm wondering, do you think Julie was expecting...Faure?  Mozart?  Or even Copeland?  Because I have your collection of "Emily Dickinson set to melodies by Aaron Copeland", that I'm pretty sure would...astound any audience.  Heh.  Guys, if I'm able, I will definitely record one of those songs for you- they're a modern mess and a HOOT.  Love 'em to pieces.)

After a few exceptionally rough "sight reading" rehearsals at her house, she let me take the music home to practice.  And I breathed a sigh of relief, because this is a TOUGH song.  One of my major pet peeves about show tunes transcribed for voice and piano is that they include the melody, in it's entirety, in the accompaniment. It gives the vocalist NO leeway for artistic expression, it unnecessarily complicates the accompaniment because now the pianist must play the orchestral part AND the vocalist' part, and it just sounds redundant and muddy.  Normally I can mentally scratch out the melody parts and just play the leftovers, but because of the intricacy of the accompaniment in this piece (which is a lovely change from most songs, believe me) I'm going to have to make a copy and just white out the millions of notes I won't be playing, and perhaps write in a few extra notes to make sure I'm not left with just block chords as an accompaniment.  Because as harmonically correct those block chords may be....compelling, they're not.

ANYWAY, I thought some of you might like a sneak peek.  It's just the first few pages, and the ending isn't...subtle.  Not when my  kids start jumping up and down saying "It's time to go!"  But hey- life's a WIP, right?

My main concern when I recorded this was:

  • Did the accompaniment appropriately support the vocalist, without overwhelming the melody line (so far, I think yes.  Verses 2, 3,4...are trickier.)  
  • Is the tempo appropriate for the vocalist?  Maybe...Aunt LoLo?
  • Is the accompaniment appropriately played, without sounding like a second-grader let loose on the piano with a kettle drum mallet?  Hmm...maybe.  Those low bass notes tend to get away from me.  Heh.
  • And finally, although not terribly importantly, is my mouth still crooked?  Why yes.  Yes it is.  We don't know why that part of my face seems paralyzed.  Wonder if my voice would be good and LOUD if I could consistently open both sides of my mouth at the same time?  *grin*


"Defying Gravity", from the hit musical Wicked.  Sung and accompanied by Myrnie.


Untitled from Myrnie Twin on Vimeo.



PS- Ten points to whoever first finds my extra-special "made up" lyrics.  Anyone??

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chores with Kids

Check out my post on MMB today!  I'm getting "free" labor out of the kids, and they're enjoying it.  Bonus extra, right?

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

--Myrnie