Those sunny winter days

If you are anyplace with snow, just use your imagination.

If you are someplace warm and sunny, do your best to come down to my level.

In any case close your eyes and picture this:

A bright, sunny day.

Not too warm, not too cold.

Like Baby Bear’s porridge, it is just right.

Now insert a playground, late afternoon, laughing, squealing children.

And you will have us this last Saturday.

This last weekend was exactly what we were promised from those trying to lure us from the snowy winters of Pennsylvania to Tennessee.

Last Wednesday there was snow, school was closed.

On Saturday and Sunday we were in the 60’s!


So, we did what any parent in their right mind does when the weather cooperates, we took Big and Baby to the playground to run off some excess energy and hopefully put some color in their naturally glaring white complexions.

We started out with coats. What can I say, I’m neurotic and don’t want them to catch colds!

But pretty soon, there was the whole, “Moooooooommmmmm, I’m hot! Can I take off my coat?” Yup, you can. Just put it back on if you start to get cold.

The girls decided to play pirate.

They finally talked the Ranger into playing, but he declined a photograph, and unlike the children, he has some pull. So, we’re skipping those photos and moving on to more fun.

Like follow the leader!

Oh, and I can’t forget one of those infamous “bum shots” is it just me or did God forget to give Big a bum? She’s lucky her pants stay up!

Anywho, it was a beautiful weekend in Tennessee, we got some fresh air and the girls got an extra layer of glare on their arms. But don’t worry, we’re supposed to get the edge of this big storm heading across the country this week, so the sun won’t last. In the meantime, au revoir from TN.



Writer’s Workshop – My Queen

Today I am participating in Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop with the prompt – “If you could change anything about your pet, what would it be?”

We have more than one pet, but only one of them is truly mine, Queenie.

A queen for the Queen of the House!

We rescued Queenie from the Humane Society on Palm Sunday, 2010.

We rescued her in memory of our cat Alley who passed away in early March.

There were a number of cats at the shelter that day, lots of cute little kissup playful kittens and Queenie.

Queenie is 3 years old, she came from a loving home (or so the paperwork said).

Queenie looked at us with disdain, she allowed me (and me alone) to pick her up.

I was sold! Queenie was mine! Mama got to pick the pet this time!

From the day we brought her home until we moved to TN, there were only 4 Queenie sightings in our home.

Queenie lived in the basement (we couldn’t get her to come out); we called her the Invisible Cat and the only way we knew she was there was that she was eating the food and using the litter box. We nearly had to sell our house complete with a cat (anyone want to buy a house, I can give you a GREAT deal!).

I ended up borrowing a live animal trap to catch her. I caught her the day before the movers came.

Before moving, I would say that the one thing I would change about my cat would be that she would become visible. However, since moving to TN, Queenie has become very social. Queenie is a hoot!

She puts up with Big and Baby talking to her in baby talk, “Who’s a good widdle kitty? Hmmmm? Are you a good widdle kitty? What’s a matter Queenie, cat got your tongue?”

She begs.

She sleeps.

She looks at me with disdain.

She is overweight mine!

The one thing I would change would be that she do less of this…

And learn how to use one of these.

I don’t think I’m asking too much?

I mean seriously, if I can teach Baby how to use a broom, why can’t I teach the cat to use a mop?

Oh, yeah, that’s right… she’s the Queen and we are just her minions.
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Wordful Wednesday: 100th Day

Tuesday was the 100th Day of School for Baby.

This is a BIG thing when you are in the 1st grade!

You get to eat 100 snacks.

You get to write 100 words.

You get to bring something with 100 pieces.

Baby chose a puzzle.

The box said there were 100 pieces to the puzzle, and at one time there WERE 100 pieces. Now there are 99, but I didn’t mention that to her.

So in honor of the 100th Day of School I decided to write 100 words. (So far we are at 94).


*Participating in Wordful Wednesday with Parenting by Dummies at

Book Review: Rick Riordan “The Red Pyramid: The Kane Chronicles, Book1”

I may have mentioned that I like to read.

If not, consider yourself informed.

I read a LOT!


I L-O-V-E Young Adult / Teen novels.

The Ranger says it’s my mental level, the eternal teeny-bopper.

I say that they are just fast, easy and uncomplicated to read.

I L-O-V-E Rick Riorden YA novels (he has some adult novels, but I haven’t read those).

So, who is Rick Riorden?

Mr. Riorden is a former teacher turned author from San Antonio, TX.

He is most well known for the Lightening Thief series.

That was a fabulous series.

If you’ve seen the movie, the book is much better!

But this review isn’t about the Lightening Thief.

This is a review of one the books in one of his newer series, The Red Pyramid. (He has several series going on at once).

The Red Pyramid is book one in the Kane Chronicles trilogy.

I liked The Lightening Thief, but I L-O-V-E-D
The Red Pyramid.

The book follows the mystery surrounding the lives of 14-yr old Carter Kane and his sister, 12-yr old Sadie. The pair have been separated since their mother’s death 6-yrs prior to the beginning of this book. Carter has lived a life on the go with his father, an Egyptologist, while Sadie has lived a stable life with their maternal grandparents in London. By court order, the family is allowed to be together only once a year, Christmas. However, this Christmas things go wrong, their father goes missing as the Rosetta Stone is destroyed and Sadie and Carter are thrown together in a race to find their father and save the world from a group of Egyptian gods who escape their jails during the chaos. The book travels the world taking readers to England, Egypt, the United States and even to the lands of Egyptian mythology.

What makes this book great? Well, where The Lightening Thief deals with the Greek gods, The Red Pyramid brings in the Egyptian gods. (I’ve always had a soft spot for ancient history and the beliefs of the people who lived in those eras; and I’ve also always had a love for Egyptian history). Another things about this book is that it is one of the few books I’ve read that portrays a strong, smart African-American hero. I like that the book is written from multiple viewpoints. While that can be confusing other books, in the case of this series it is written from the points of view of both Carter and Sadie. It clearly defines the speaker at the beginning of each chapter. I also found that I did not have to spend a lot of my time flipping the pages in the book back and forth trying to recall who was good and who was bad.

This book is a good read for those who enjoys adventure / fantasy books. It could easily be read by pre-teens, around 12 and up. It should be on most Accelerated Reading lists, and no one who has read this book on my recommendation has been disappointed.(And as a librarian, I’ve recommended HUNDREDS of books!). This book could also be used as a learning tool to supplement any non-fiction lessons on Egyptian mythology. The characters played by the gods in this book are true to their nature in Egyptian mythology.

The Red Pyramid was published last May. However, it is a great time to pick it up! The second book in the series, The Throne of Fire is to be published in May 2011. In the meantime, if you have not read them yet, you should pick up some of his other books. More information about Mr. Riorden and his work can be found on his website,

Wonder what I’ll read next.

*There are no pictures to this particular blog because I didn’t want to infringe on any copyrighted materials.

Some Snow, a Safari and a Needle

It has been a slow weekend at our house.

There was another Snow Day on Friday. We were assured that it didn’t snow in TN, those people LIED!

The snow was pretty much gone by noon, but still…

I’m working on a Domestic Pretender sewing project (post to come soon).

And, in the middle of this project I realized I was missing the talent an integral part to complete the project.

I haven’t even had to call my Mama yet! But stay close to the phone, Mom…

Anywho, in order to complete this project I just had to force my family myself to go to the Hobby Lobby.

There were three to pick from, we chose Paducah. I just love the name Paducah!

So, there we were in Paducah (hehehehehehe, Paducah) and we found a couple of friends to add to our family.

Normally we stick to letting the girls pick a new book when we head to town, which would explain why I still have 9 boxes of books to unpack.

But the Ranger is such a sucker for little girls with big eyes these guys were soooooo cute!

Anywho, life was happy until this morning. Why would things go haywire this morning?

Because Big thought she would be helpful. Big likes to be helpful.

Look at the camera, Sissy!

Big pulled the tag off Baby’s giraffe, Safari.

“How am I supposed to remember her name?” Baby asked. “Can you fix it?” sob, sob, sniffle, snuffle, flump.

“Never mind, Mama! I fixed it myself!” (Note the butterfly clip holding the tag on).

It didn’t quite work the way she wanted so she started sobbing again; so I assured her I could fix it by sewing it on.

“NOOOO!!!!! You might hurt Safari, she’d have nightmares! Don’t you go near my friend with a needle, Mama!”

So, Safari is now tag-less. I have to wonder how long she’ll remember the name of her little pet and how soon it will acquire the name Giraffe.

For that matter, I have to wonder how soon she will forgive me for threatening her poor little Giraffe with a needle. Bad Mama!

Writer’s Workshop – Free to Imagine

It could be argued that children are overscheduled these days and aren’t given the opportunity to be bored and exercise their imaginations.

I can’t speak for anyone else’s household or children. But, in my house, the kids don’t come to me and whine, “I’m bored!”

Big used to try this, but she learned that the only thing she would get from that particular statement was chores!

“Fine, you’re bored. Go make your bed!” HA!

Bored is a naughty word in the vocabulary of this Mama!

However, my children are neither overscheduled nor are they lacking in imagination.

Early into the world of parenting, the Ranger and I decided that we would allow our child 1 extra-curricular activity outside school hours (not including CCD which is mandatory). Our children have a LOT of time to be bored! Especially right now because with the move coming just after the beginning of school, we missed all the sign-ups for the activities our kids would want to take part in.

Imagination is something this family has in spades. I like to imagine that someone else is going to come clean my house for me. I like to imagine that my computer lab will be finished soon so I can start work. I like to imagine that my Sissy, Mama, and friends are around the block and not hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Big has a fabulous imagination; Baby is imagination incarnate dancing through life.

Her imaginary friend will probably accompany her to therapy when she grows up.

Tonight was a prime example of Baby’s imagination. I was playing games of Facebook on my computer, the Ranger was in his office, Big was reading her book, and Baby was heard and not seen. I kept hearing hops, skuttles, “Take that! And THAT!” and I couldn’t quite figure out what she could possibly be doing.

This is what I found.

This was the conversation (paraphrased for space)

What are you playing?

The Princess Pirate! ARGH!

So, are you the princess and a pirate?


Then are you the princess or the pirate?

Ummmmm….wait, I’m going to have to think of a different name. How about the Pirate Rescuers?

Okay, sounds good. So the hanger is your sword then what is the glue stick (the green thing in her other hand).

No, Mom! The hanger is my hook! The glue is my sword. But I’m not Captain Hook!

Oh. Did you fix your dress yourself?

Yep, with this clip. Clever, huh? (Did I mention that my kids have crazy vocabularies?)

____    ___    ____

So I took the kids up to bed a few minutes later and suggested that maybe it would be a good idea for me to take Daddy’s hat back downstairs.

That’s okay, Mom. I’m not going to play this tomorrow. Tomorrow I’m going to imagine a different game.

No, imagination is not dead, at least not in this Mama’s household.





Wordful Wednesday – Snow Angel

Big LOVES snow!

Almost as much as she LOVES a snow day from school.

She was so very excited when we got our first snow in Tennessee.

You see, there is more than a foot of snow up in PA and she was feeling a bit homesick and she was missing the snow.

Then, one morning we woke up and there it was, a very light blanket of the white stuff!

After church she wanted to play in that stuff, so I pulled out the snow pants, the boots, the hat, gloves, scarf and heavy coat. I’m from snow country, we KNOW how to dress for the stuff…

She piled it all on and waddled her way out the door. There were no other children outside; (Baby wouldn’t even go outside) but that did not deter her from her mission.

A Snow Angel.

MY Snow Angel.

After about 10 minutes and a perfect Snow Angel she was ready to head back in the house.

They assured us there would be no snow in Tennessee. I’m so very glad they were wrong.

The Domestic Pretender Attempts Doughnuts

My Mother-in-law is Rose.

Rose can cook!

My poor husband has come down in the world since he married me, I can kinda cook.

Rose is known in her family as the keeper of certain family recipes, among them are doughnuts.

About once a year, the family would spend a Sunday afternoon in Rose’s kitchen rolling, cutting, frying and sugaring dozens of doughnuts.

Now we are in TN and Rose is in PA and that makes doughnut making a bit tricky.

You see, Rose has the recipe in her head, eyes and hands. Rose learned this recipe from her mother and knows what the mixture contains and what it should feel like when mixed.

Rose was nice enough to try to write it down for me once, but I’ve never tried the recipe myself. Rose has always done the ingredients and mixing.

I was going to make this recipe last weekend, but there was nary a doughnut cutter available in any store near me that was open when the Ranger pointed out that one of the necessities of making doughnuts was a doughnut cutter. In TN there are biscuit cutters aplenty, but not one with the extra hole doo-hickey that I needed to make the “chokers” (doughnut holes). So, I spent a couple days this last week searching high and low; and, after a rather humorous visit to a restaurant supply store where I was assisted by the owners’ very unknowledgeable gracious spouse and his friends, I am the proud owner of a doughnut cutter.

So, I gathered the usual suspects – flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg, milk, eggs, baking powder, and melted lard (yes, I said LARD!) and my apron (the Domestic Pretender is messy and always wears an apron) and began.

First I put the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

And then I started adding the wet ingredients.

Here the recipe gets fun (if you like making mud pies)

You mix the whole thing BY HAND!

Spoons are cheating and to quote Rose, “You won’t know if the consistency is right if you can’t feel what you are mixing.”

So I mixed it up, then took the whole shebang to the Ranger and said, “Taste this.” He just looked at me funny. “Taste it! You know how it should taste.” He still looked at me weird. The man makes home-made Orange Julius’ complete with raw eggs, but blanches at eating raw cookie dough or in this case doughnut dough. I got the nod of approval so I headed back to the kitchen.

I pulled out a Dutch oven and emptied an ENTIRE container of vegetable shortening into it and put it on a burner to melt. From this point on I was on my own. The recipe card stopped at the instruction of “use shortening to fry.” I had ingredients, I had a cutter, I had shortening, and nothing else except years of following orders in Rose’s kitchen.

The general idea is that you fry them until they are brown on each side then stick them on a towel to drain for about, ohhhhhh… two seconds, then plop them into a paper bag of powdered sugar. The powder sugar is usually the kids’ job, but they got bored after a few minutes and left it to us.

But, the end result is pretty darn good, if I do say so myself!

A nice cakey doughnut smothered in powdered sugar. I know I heard the Hallelujah Chorus when I snitched a bite! Looks good, huh?

Let’s look at that again.

The Ranger says they are pretty darn good, but not quite like Mom makes.

I think I’m going to try something else next weekend. I’m not sure what it will be yet, but I’m sure it’ll be another adventure of the DOMESTIC PRETENDER!

Book Review – Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series

You wanna know something?

I like to read.

I like to read A LOT!

When I pick up a new book, I swear I can hear the angels in heaven singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

I have the best career possible for someone who likes to read.

Technically, I am a librarian! No, my hair isn’t in a severe bun and I don’t “Shush!” people very often. I do however wear glasses that are usually perched on the end of my nose (they slip a lot)

One of my favorite things about being a librarian is introducing people to new books and authors so don’t be surprised if you come across book reviews when reading my blog. (If I can ever figure out how to set up new categories, Book Reviews will be one of them).

For today, Class, I will be talking about Patricia Briggs and her Mercy Thompson series. The series isn’t exactly new, there are 6 volumes so far, but it was new to me! The three I have read (so far) are: Moon Called (Book 1), Blood Bound (Book 2), and Iron Kissed (Book 3).

(all images for these books are from Patricia Biggs official website

Those who are fans of Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, and Laurel K. Hamilton should give this series a try!

This series takes place in my home state of Washington in the Tri-Cities area and in a world where the Fey have come out of hiding the fairies are living alongside the average human beings. This series has fairies, vampires, werewolves, coyotes and other creatures that go bump in the night.

No, don’t go back and read that again, I did say coyotes. Mercy Thompson, the main character, is a mechanic and a “Walker” who can change into a coyote on whim. It could be considered fantasy smut, but the first three books don’t really have much in the way of smut.

Book one, Moon Called introduces Mercy and a core cast of characters that you will see throughout the series. Unlike many series, the core cast in these books don’t make you flip back and trying to wrack you brain to remember who is who!

The cover of the books are a little iffy – chick with tons of colorful tattoos and sometimes a car. If I went by the cover alone, I probably wouldn’t have picked them up. But I liked the that the books moved along at a fairly good pace. I have a tendency to skim read the parts that get boring and these held my attention fairly well. I liked that the main character was strong and independent. She is sort of typical for a “supernatural romance” heroine, but she was different enough that I didn’t feel like I was reading a cookie cutter book.

You know, cookie cutter, every story is the same – strong heroine with special skill, insert vampire / werewolf, insert problem, insert solution of which the heroine plays a strong part, insert happy ending. It does follow this recipe to a point, but it was still a good read.

Now, if I can just get my hands on the next three books! FAST!

For a complete list of Patricia Biggs books and sample chapters, visit her website at

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