Monday, September 29, 2008

Family Ancestry

No, this is not a treatise on evolutionism. My family is not descended from King Kong.

Well, not exactly.

My maiden name was Schoedsack. Now that probably means absolutely nothing to you, unless you are a major classic movie buff. Specifically a fan of the original King Kong.

If you look very closely down in the lower right hand corner, you will see...

Yep. "A Cooper-Schoedsack production."

That would be my great uncle, my father's uncle, my grandfather's brother: Ernest Beaumont Schoedsack. The story goes that my grandfather got his younger brother his first job in the film industry in 1914. He was stationed in France in the first World War as a newsreel cameraman in the Signal Corps. He later worked in Polish war relief efforts to assist Polish refugees fleeing from the Bolsheviks. In 1925 he flmed Grass, a forerunner of the documentary travelogue which followed the migration of Bakktiari tribes in Persia as they crossed the Zardeh Kuh mountains to find grazing land for their sheep and cattle. King Kong was released in 1933. Ernest Schoedsack was known as an adventurer and judging from other postcards I found, I think my grandfather was as well. Could be a bit of an understatement!

If anyone reading this has been following my Flashback Friday posts here, here and here, you will recall that I have unearthed a case of old family pictures. Among these treasures are photographs, postcards and other memorabilia that I will be sharing in future posts. But I thought I would share King Kong today. And this postcard to my father from his Uncle Ernest. The date is unknown but the message is priceless!

In case you can't decipher the handwriting, it reads:

Saigon, Indo-China
September 17th

I'm over here looking for tigers and wild elephants but expect to return to Siam in three weeks. Going up into the jungle tomorrow. Your Uncle E.

There is no year on the card nor can I make out the postmark, but it doesn't really matter. Wouldn't you just love to get a card like that in the mail!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Six Random Things

I'm always amazed that anyone actually reads my blog so it was a surprise to me when I was tagged by Alexia at The Mommy Rambles for this meme!
Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write 6 random things about yourself.
4. Tag 6-ish people at the end of your post
5. Let each person know he/she has been tagged
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
Here are my six random things:
1. I grew up in Southern California but have lived in the northeast since I was 21 years old.

2. I hate (yes, HATE) winter! Hey, I'm a California girl!

3. I am a chocolate snob. La Maison du Chocolat is the very best but I rarely get any - I've received it twice as a gift. But I can afford Lindt and indulge in their dark chocolate truffles.

4. I MUST HAVE cheese. Every single day. For the calcium :)

5. I'm a morning person. I need my quiet time to to handle the day. 6:00am is sleeping in.

6. I'm a garage sale addict. Apparently it is a genetic trait because my granddaughter needs to do this too. We're dangerous together.
I'm tagging these bloggers!
Shannon at Muzbeecrazy

Colleen at Mommy Always Wins

CanCan at My Greening

Chris at Dad of Divas

Renee at When 2 Became 3 or 4

Micaela at Mindfulmomma
Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Flashback Friday #4

Since I have posted photos of my parents when they were younger and of my mother as a child, I searched through the storage bin for the envelope of old photos of my father's family. I really liked this one, taken at the beach in 1919. The little boy is my Daddy. He would have been around two and a half. His mother is second from the left and his father is on the far right. I don't know who the other three are but I like the attitude of the woman in the center!

This is the same photo after someone artfully applied some color. Can't say how accurate the colors are to true life but I do know that my Daddy had red hair just that shade!
I love the tent...and the cars! Would you wear a swimsuit like that? (I think I probably should!)


Check out Mommy Always Wins for more Flashback Friday participants!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

An OCD Toddler?

My first two sons are exact opposites. I clued into this fact when M was very young. Everything his older brother was, M was not.

W was colicky
M was an easy feeder and good sleeper

W loved food, all food
M loved cereal and fruit...only

W was outgoing and gregarious
M was painfully shy and reticent

W self weaned at 15 months
M was still nursing at 2.5 years. I had to leave town.

W loved language
M loved math

W could make a mess and ignore it for days
M was a little OCD. He lined up all the family shoes in a neat row...daily

You get my drift. My point is that once I understood this dynamic, it made #2 son very predictable. Usually. I really should have known....

About the time my third son was born (M would have been 33 months) I noticed that my HUGE carton of sanitary pads had been opened. Not only had it been opened, MOST of the pads were missing. Seeing as I was the only female in the house, I just knew something strange was going on. I looked in the bedrooms. I looked in the bathrooms. I looked outside (yes, even outside) Nothing! There was nothing!

I broke down and asked M. Holding up one of the few remaining pads I said, "Do you know where the rest of these are?" Big grin. You cannot be angry at a grinning toddler. "Can you show Mommy?"

Off he runs to his bedroom and flings open the closet doors. There, neatly aligned in rows like little soldiers were my pads stuck to the back wall of his closet. He was so proud of his work. So nice and neatly organized. He had obviously put in a great deal of effort here: multiple trips between my bathroom and his closet, peeling off each sticky strip and arranging them all in straight rows. He had done a mighty fine job although I'm not sure what exactly he thought he was doing!

He had made his very own padded cell.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Princess Tea Party


Sweet little princess granddaughters having tea.
Check out Wordless Wednesday and 5 Minutes for Mom for more participants.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trading Up

Maybe you caught Dad of Divas post last week on Wordless Wednesday. A very creative, eye catching photo, I think you'd agree.
I posted a comment and he responded. Little did I know that his creative mind works in other wild and crazy ways.
You may have heard of the red paper clip tradeup that eventually (really only 14 trades in 12 months)led to the acquisition of a house. Well, Dad of Divas is attempting to acquire a Toyota Sienna minivan by trading up, item by item, starting with a vintage Kodak Camera.
Or you may have read about this exploit over at World of Weasels. Weaselmommma is participating in the tradeup by offering an evening of her company. No, that doesn't sound right. It's an evening of drinks (yes, her Hubby will be there too) plus an autographed photo AND her coveted cookie and candy recipes. It's Tradeup #5 at the The Great Minivan Trade Up site.
Now this method of commerce is not for everyone, but Dad of Divas certainly has my vote for thinking outside the box in these times of economic uncertainty and restricted cash flow. And if he can be patient, he just might end up with a minivan!
So at the very least, check him out. Offer some words of encouragement, spread the word or even trade up!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month


Michelle of bleeding espresso, Sara of Ms. Adventures In Italy and Jenn of The Leftover Queen are hosting the O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Contest.

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of Gina DePalma, author of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen and Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy, Jenn of The Leftover Queen, and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are asking you to donate to the:

Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (via

and then, out of the goodness of your hearts and to be eligible for the O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Contest, please do the following:

1. Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato) and include this entire text box in the post;


2. If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post this entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word about the event and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.


3. Then send your post url [along with a photo (100 x 100) if you've made a recipe] to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on September 30, 2008.

We will post a roundup and announce prize winners on October 3.


1 Recipe Prize for best “O food” concoction: $50 gift certificate to Amazon;
1 Awareness Prize for only publicizing event: Copy of Dolce Italiano cookbook.

From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,650 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the U.S. in 2008 and about 15,520 women will die from the disease.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose. There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.
In spite of this patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.
When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.
Please donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and help spread the word!
So without further ado, here is an "O" recipe for CARAMELIZED ONION TOASTS that I have adapted from a Tyler Florence recipe. I made it for two separate dinner parties over the weekend and it was devoured by young and old alike on both nights!
4 T unsalted butter
2 large onions, sliced
3 anchovy halves, chopped (I use anchovy paste, 1.5 t)
2 t chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 baguette (mine was quite long and I only needed half each night)
1/3 c pitted kalamata olives
extra butter, softened for spreading on the bread
extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano Reggiano
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat 4T butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, anchovy paste, thyme, salt and pepper and cook until the onions are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
With a serrated knife shave off the top and bottom of the baguette so it will lie flat, cut off the ends and slice the loaf in half lengthwise. Spread cut side with softened butter.
Spread the caramelized onions over the loaves, garnish with the olives, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes until the bread is crispy around the edges. Sprinkle with the parmigiano, cut into pieces and serve.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Where did I put that?

I'm always forgetting where I put my car keys
or my cell phone
or my camera
or I forget to bring my shopping bags into the store
and I forget the grocery list too.
I'm not really concerned that this could be the oneset of any form of dementia.
I think most of us experience this sort of forgetfulness from time to time. More often than not it's because we're just not paying attention. We're thinking about what we have should be doing or should have done, what we have to do in an hour, tomorrow or next week. And we are totally not thinking in the moment.
Today I lost the top to my coffee carafe. I took the carafe from the coffee maker, removed the top, rinsed the carafe and set it down. I put a new filter in the coffee maker, measured out the coffee, closed it up. Returned to the carafe on the counter and reached for the top. No top. Not on the counter. Not in the sink. Not on the kitchen table.
I really thought I was losing my mind.
I looked on the floor. I looked in the cupboard. I looked in the refrigerator.
My husband was no help. He just laughed at me.
Come on now, I wouldn't throw it away!
Or would I?
So I checked the garbage can under the sink. There it was, right on top.
I have no excuse. I cannot believe I threw it away. What was I thinking?
Well, that's just it, isn't it? I wasn't thinking. Making coffee is something I can do in my sleep so I obviously wasn't paying attention.
I am living a double life. Disturbing on so many levels.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Flashback Friday #3

These are pictures of my Mother and her brother Phil. He was born in 1921 and although the photos were not dated, I would guess that these were taken that same year: late summer/early fall at the beach, winter (that would be a California snow!) in the driveway and spring/summer of 1922 in the garden.
I love the wicker stroller and my mom's little trike. And how about those BIG hair bows! The two of them fit perfectly in the wicker rocking chair!




Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen things your children need to hear you say. Some are obvious, some not so easy, all are important.
1. I love you
2. God loves you
3. I'm proud of you
4. You can do it
5. Don't give up
6. Please
7. Thank you
8. Pardon me (banish "huh" - just my litle pet peeve!)
9. I need a hug
10. What do you think you should do?
11. You're a good person
12. I'm sorry
13. No
What would you add to the list?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Oopsie!




"It just opened and I painted!" (Sent from my DIL's iphone)
For more Wordless Wednesday participants check here and here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Facts of Life

Three words that can strike fear into the heart of any mother.
"What's wrong?"
"Bess and Mac are frozen together! You have to help them!"
Okay, I could breathe a sigh of relief. Bess and Mac were the barn dogs. And I seriously doubted that they were frozen together. A glimmer of what might have happened began to form in the recesses of my mind.
"Don't worry, Sweetie. I'm sure they're fine."
"No, Mommy! They're really stuck! You have to help them!"
We ran out to the barn. It was an icy cold March day and I could understand how my 5year old would think the dogs could be frozen together. Indeed, even I marveled at what I saw before me. By this time I knew exactly what had transpired, but not actually having witnessed the deed before, did not know that the male could complete his act, dismount and then swivel around so that the hind quarters of both animals would remained attached with their heads facing in opposite directions! A remarkable feat!
The boys looked to me to remedy the situation. Since they were convinced this was a weather related predicament, I doubted that they had seen the mating dance that would have come before. So I decided not to launch into the birds and the bees lesson. They just needed to know that everyone would be alright.
"I think they'll be just fine. They're not really frozen. We'll just give them a few minutes."
The air was heavy with worry and anticipation as the boys waited silently. The dogs looked at us with baleflul expressions, asking for a little privacy, please!
Suddenly they disengaged! Mac stood there, proudly displaying his swollen dog-manhood for all to see. Even I was surprised at this revelation.
"OH NO! LOOK WHAT SHE DID TO HIM!" my 9 year old screamed.
I didn't want to minimize this important life lesson by laughing, but it was hard not to. I knew full well that Mac was not suffering...I think I saw him grinning, as a matter of fact. But my sons were obviously not associating this tableau with either pleasure or procreation. There was a lot of information to absorb here.
"Don't worry, Mac is not hurting. He'll be fine in just a minute. He just gave Bess some puppies."
The mood in the barn visibly brightened,"Puppies?! Really?!"
And, of course, Mac was fine. I guess it's a guy thing that the boys would be concerned only for Mac. I wonder if I had daughters and they had witnessed the same thing, would they have been so concerned for Mac or would I have heard,"Oh No! What did he to do her!?"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Flashback Friday

I stumbled upon a treasure trove of family photos this week and I'll be sharing them every Friday in the weeks to come.
My mother's birthday was September 4th. She would have been 89. This first photo was taken in 1937 when she was 18, a senior at Hollywood High School.

The second photo is my mother in 1944 at age 25. Quite the transformation from high school senior to career woman! The Depression hit the family quite hard (my grandfather was a banker) and unable to afford college, my mother entered the work force in the typing pool of a major insurance company. She was promoted through the years and at this point in time was the executive secretary to the president.

She told me there was a "hairpiece" that she pinned under her hair to create that big roll on top. She was always fond of red lipstick and nail polish and I do remember those pearls!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Gone Fishing


My granddaughter gets the credit for taking this picture of her new fish!
For more Wordless Wednesday check out Wordless Wednesday and 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A little love in the morning


Esme's mama all the way from Mozi Esme surprised me Monday morning with this award! I almost fell off my chair as I, like many new bloggers, believed their posts to be largely unread. So I am humbled and grateful to receive this. If you have somehow missed out on Mozi Esme, visit right now and catch up on the exploits of a beautiful little toddler in Mozambique.
Now to pass this award on:
My Sweet Life Sometimes poignant, often hilarious, Kelsey regales her readers with stories of her 3 precocious children. Accompanied by great photos, you will always be touched by her posts.
Busy Mamas Kellie blogs from Hawaii and apart from thoughtfully and faithfully commenting on so very many blogs (she is everywhere on Wordless Wednesdays!)she posts great reviews, recipes and insight on being a busy working mom.
The Green Greek A blog awash in beautiful pictures and a love for Jesus that transcends the written word, Irene gives us a glimpse into her life in Greece. I guarantee that you will leave feeling inspired and thankful.
Now go enjoy your day and tell someone you love them!

A Brief History of Dumping

Yesterday I posted the breakdown of 50 tons of garbage an individual generates in a lifetime published by Betsy Towner in the September AARP Bulletlin.
Today's post gives you Ms Towner's "Brief History of Dumping," and it's got some surprises!
500 BC Athens establishes western civilization's first city dump and one-mile trash-free zone outside the city walls.
1690 First paper recycling mill opens near Philadelphia.
1899 NYC opens garbage-sorting facility to capture recyclables.
1900 To dispose of food surplus, US cities use "piggeries" where swine eat resident's discarded slop.
1934 US Supreme Court prohibits dumping of municipal waste into ocean.
1937 Fresno, CA establishes nation's first "sanitary" landfill, a dump where soil and ash are laid over garbage to contain fumes and odor.
1974 University City, MO, establishes nation's first curbside bin pickup program for recycling newpapers.
2008 Moviegoers slurp jumbo sodas and munch bucketsfull of popcorn while watching Wall-E, the tale of an endearing trash compactor on a toxic Earth.
Just think, if we could set up "trash-free" zones, we will have come full circle with 500 BC Greece!

Monday, September 8, 2008

50 Tons and what do you get?

I happened to pick up the latest AARP Bulletin in the doctor's waiting room and astounded by a short article by Betsy Towner that itemized just how much garbage the average American generates by age 70.
Would you believe that every day each one of us generates 4.5 pounds of waste? Today's 70 year old will have generated 50 tons of trash in his lifetime. The good news is that 1/3 of that waste is now recycled compared to just 6 percent in 1960.
This is how that 50 tons of lifetime trash breaks down:
1. Yard trimmings 15,450 lbs, 62% recycled
2. Food scraps 11,500 lbs, 2% recycled
3. Newspapers, books, magazines 8,100 lbs, 76% recycled
4. Glass & metal containers 3,700 lbs, 40% recycled
5. Beer and pop bottles/cans 3,600 lbs, 35% recycled
6. Furniture, furnishings 3,200 lbs, .05% recycled
7. Clothing, footwear 2,400 lbs, 15% recycled
8. Mail 2,200 lbs, 39% recycled
9. Electric appliances 1,850lbs, 65% recycled
10. Plastic bags & wrap 1,600 lbs, 8% recycled
Odds are if you are reading this, you are not even close to 70 years old! Hopefully, you are already reducing, reusing and recycling to cut back on the waste you and your family generate.
Let these figures simply encourage you to recommit and renew your efforts to live a more eco-conscious lifestyle. It would seem there's plenty of room for improvement!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Flashback Friday: June 29, 1946


My parents on their wedding day, June 29, 1946 in Hollywood, California. My mother's suit was a deep, dusty rose color. She was 26 and my Dad was 29. Gee, they were a good looking couple!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thursday Thirteen: Things I like about Fall

Fall may not officially be here but it seems to me that once school starts up, Fall is on our doorstep. This Thursday Thirteen is what I love about this season.
1. The humidity breaks, the temperatures drop and the sky is blue.
2. The nights are cooler too. We can open the windows and throw a blanket on the bed.
3. The leaves turn into a jewel box of color, universally appreciated. Who doesn't love a drive through the countryside just to admire the autumn leaves?
4. Pumpkins! Large, small, au naturale or carved into jack-o-lanterns, in fields or on front porches, pumpkins are great!
5. Apples! Pick your own or buy them at a roadside farm stand, the first apples of the season are crisp and juicy and everyone knows, apple pies are the best!
6. Sweater weather. We can put away the summer clothes and bringout the sweaters. There's only a short period before the snow flies when you can just grab a sweater as you run out the door and know it will be enough.
7. Halloween, whether you go all out for this strange holiday or just hand out candy (or hide in your house with the lights off) there is an excitement that is contagious when children don their costumes and believe, just for a night, that you don't recognize them.
8. Along with Halloween comes leftover candy, the best part of that holiday!
9. Not raking the leaves. I don't mean not to rake them, I mean it is not something I like to do! Raking leaves is greatly overestimated. Those leaves fall for over a month and just when you think you've raked them all, more will appear.
10. Comfort food. We always celebrate barbecue season when it arrives, but, man, it's good to have a hot bowl of homemade soup again and that first pot roast with roasted root veggies makes my mouth water!
11. Lighting the first fire of the year in the fireplace. Enough said.
12. Thanksgiving. Although I think the Canadians got the timing better, it is still good to take time to reflect upon our many blessings, even though that sometimes is overshadowed by consuming excessive amounts of food and football.
13. Listening to that little voice in the dark recesses of my brain saying, "Christmas is coming...better start getting ready now!"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday


This spider was hanging outside my window looking in at me. I was not going to invade his territory so I settled for taking his picture through the window. He's not really GIANT but he's big enough!
Check out more Wordless Wednesdays here and here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Breakfast for Dinner


You know that summer is over when it's dark outside at 5:30 am when it used to be light. And you need a robe in the morning.
And, as much as you love grilling, you are actually looking forward to cooking in your kitchen once again.
We love eggs. We often have a bagel with an over-easy egg and cheddar cheese for dinner...that's an open face, two egg plus cheese bagel dinner. It's a splurge, I know!
We were out of bagels so to satisfy my end-of-summer-cook-in-the-kitchen-love-me-some-eggs mood, I whipped up some Greek Omelets for dinner with a side of home fries! Yes, it was delicious :) And easy.
Welcome, Autumn!
5 large eggs, whipped until frothy
1/2 c feta cheese crumbles
12 grape tomatoes, halved or 1 med tomato chopped
10 kalamata olives, pitted
2 T chopped green papper
handful of fresh basil, chopped plus a few leaves for garnish
note: reserve some of the fillings to use as garnish
salt & pepper
butter or evoo
Melt a small amount of butter (I use evoo. We rationalize not using butter so we can eat cheese ;)) in a med-large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
When pan is hot (butter is sizzling) add half the egg mixture. Swirl the pan to move the egg mixture around. Using a silicone spatula, gently push the eggs toward the center of the pan and tilt the pan to let the raw eggs run underneath. You should be looking at an egg "pancake" slightly smaller than your pan surface. The eggs will cook very quickly; do not leave them unattended.
While eggs are still slightly underdone, add half of the fillings: cheese, tomatoes, olives, green pepper and basil. Sprinkle with salt and lots of black pepper.
Using the spatula, flip one half of the omelet over onto itself. Align the omelet parallel to the pan handle and slide the omelet onto a warm plate. It may take some practice to get this part done without totally reshaping the omelet, but if you hold the pan down very close to the plate, give it a little shake and push with the spatula, you'll be a pro in no time. The omelet practically rolls out of the pan and onto the plate. Repeat with the remaining eggs and fillings.
Makes 2 omelets.
Serve immediately and enjoy!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Rescue me!

As a child I often walked in my sleep. I would stumble around my bedroom, dreaming I was somewhere else, crashing into furniture and walls until one of my parents woke and came in to rescue me.
Ten years ago the dreams that troubled me were ones in which I would get lost. I could be driving or walking and suddenly take a turn that would take me into unknown territory. I could go round and round in circles, aware that I should know these streets. I might even enter an office building and not be able to find my way out. My solution of last resort, and my favorite if I could manage it, would be to levitate myself above the rooftops and fly away. I loved that sensation and usually headed out toward the coast, regardless of my point of origin.
Of late, however, I am once again actively participating in my dreams.
I don't know if perhaps life's circumstances have made me feel more protective, the defender of the family. Since my Honey's stroke, we have, of necessity, redefined our relationship and our life.
Over the past couple of years my dreams find me in a dangerous situation where I must engage in physical combat. I usually wake myself up when I cry out or shout. My poor husband has been the recipient of more than a few kicks, backhands and punches. If I don't wake, he will gently rub my arm and say, "it's okay, it's okay." We laugh about my little episode and go back to sleep.
There was one occasion,however, that did disturb me. My granddaughter K was curled up next to me when I let loose with a right hook that connected with her head. She didn't even wake up so perhaps it wasn't the mighty blow that I thought it was, but it did wake me and I felt just terrible.
Then last week I was dreaming that a strange man grabbed my right cheek and was pinching and twisting it with his fingers! I know it sounds odd and there is no explaining it but dreams don't have to make sense. Anyway, the pinching really hurt and I fought back only to wake myself up. I was on my left side, my left arm crossed over my chest with my fingernails dug into my right cheek. Lordy, I broke the skin and I still have the marks on my cheek.
This dreaming is getting dangerous! I need some dream intervention. I have met the enemy and it is ME!