21 December 2009

Let the sun shine in

Happy Winter Solstice!

Today is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Starting tomorrow, the light begins it's return as the days become longer and longer, until we celebrate the Summer Solstice. (Well, at least in this hemisphere. It's all bass-ackwards Down Under. ;) Sorry, Chris.)

I don't attach any religious significance to the solstices, but I do like to note their passage as they remind me of the cyclical nature of, well, nature. And I've always found the mythos and traditions surrounding them very interesting.

(We're not planning any wild Saturnalias here, but, if you see me under the mistletoe ... ) ;)

On a more personal note, I look forward to the Winter Solstice because, right about now, I start to get itchy for more daylight. I hate that the sun is barely rising when I leave for work and that it's already dark by the time I get home. The lack of sunlight makes me a little cranky.

Ironically, I spend very little time in direct sunlight in the other seasons - very fair skin and a tendency for heat-related migraines make that a Bad Idea for me - but I've still never really liked the cold, dark days of Winter. I don't do cold well.

Evidence: We spent a couple of weeks at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002. Loved it! But I had to be bundled up like Ralphie's little brother in A Christmas Story just to leave the house. Brrrr!

Spring and early Fall are my favorite seasons. I sometimes think that if it wasn't for the fact that Christmas is my favorite holiday, I'd probably feel resentful of Winter - it would just be that cold, dark time in between the "fun" seasons.

But, for some reason, the solstice celebrations and their history and traditions remind me to take each season for what it is. To enjoy Winter for being Winter rather than resent it for not being Spring. If that makes any sense.

I'm still glad I live in sunny California, though. Especially when so many of my i-friends are blogging and tweeting about freezing ice and snow! *brrrr*

I am most definitely on the HeatMiser side of the weather debate. ;)

Wherever you are and whatever the weather is like there, wishing you and yours a Happy Solstice. :)

"Live each season as it passes;
breathe the air, drink the drink,
taste the fruit, and resign yourself 
to the influences of each." 
~ Henry David Thoreau

17 December 2009

Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read

Last year, I started keeping a formal reading list. It was kind a fun to go back and look at the books I'd read over the year. So I decided to do it again in 2009.

Except, looking at it now, this year's list is kinda sad. I read about 40 books in 2009. Which is probably less than half of what I'd read in a "normal" year (whatever that is).

I could make excuses: Busy year, two small kids, new challenges at work, more blog reading ... blah blah woof woof. Whatever.

Bottom line is: It's slim pickin's on the old ZenMom Reading List this year.

And the titles that are there ... well, let's just say this year's list is heavy on the light reading: Lots of sci-fi and fantasy, some mysteries, and a few vampires. I do love vampires. :) Astute readers will also note the continuing underlying theme of strong female protagonists.
In fact, seems most of these are continuations of series I've been reading for a while. I think the only new-to-me authors on this year's list were Ann Aguirre and Jeanne Stein.

The good news is that I can't think of a single book on the list that I didn't enjoy.

The really good news is that my in-laws usually give me a very generous Amazon Gift Card for Christmas, so I hope to be stocking up soon on several books that have been languishing away on my Amazon Wish List! Hopefully that bodes well for next year's list. :)

So, now, for posterity (snicker) and anyone who cares, here's ...

ZenMom's 2009 Reading List

The Time Paradox - Colfer, Eoin
Dead Over Heels - Davidson, Mary Janice
Hotter Than Hell - Harrison, Kim
True Blood - Waddell, Patricia
Promises in Death - Robb, J. D.
Plum Spooky - Evanovich, Janet
Watchmen - Moore, Alan and Gibbons, Dave
Just a Geek - Wheaton, Wil
Grimspace - Aguirre, Ann
Bone Crossed - Briggs, Patricia
Magic Strikes - Andrews, Ilona
Swallowing Darkness - Hamilton, Laurell K.
Fray - Whedon, Joss
Wanderlust - Aguirre, Ann
Blue Diablo - Aquirre, Ann
Made to be Broken - Armstrong, Kelley
Dancing Barefoot - Wheaton, Wil
Dead and Gone - Harris, Charlaine
Undead and Unwelcome - Davidson, Mary Janice
Dime Store Magic - Armstrong, Kelley
Industrial Magic - Armstrong, Kelley
White Witch, Black Curse - Harrison, Kim
Unusual Suspects - Harris, Charlaine
The Prophet - Gibran, Kahlil
My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon - Armstrong, Kelley
Holidays are Hell - Harrison, Kim
In Odd We Trust - Koontz, Dean
Suite 606 - Robb, J. D.
Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand - Vaughn, Carrie
A Carribean Mystery - Christie, Agatha
Glory Road - Heinlein, Robert
The Becoming - Stein, Jeanne
Finger Lickin' Fifteen - Evanovich, Janet
Skin Trade - Hamilton, Laurell K.
On The Prowl - (anthology) Briggs, Patricia

On a side note: See all those links up there? You can thank Amazon Associates for that! Used to be I'd have had to go manually look up and link up each book title. Blech. No thanks. But Amazon and Blogger just created this neat new widget that let's me do it all with two clicks right in my Dashboard! I know most of you are yawning about that. But, geek that I am, I thought it was very cool! And it made linking up my titles WAY easier!

So, what are you reading right now? What was your favorite book you read this year?

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. ~ Groucho Marx

11 December 2009

Treat Exchange: Uber-Krispies

Veronica at Another Suburban Mom is hosting a Treat Exchange!

Now, it's pretty well known, that' I'm not much of a cook. But I do enjoy a tasty treat. And this is my favorite. It's my mother-in-law's "secret" recipe for Rice Krispie Treats. 'Round our house, we call them Uber-Krispies, to distinguish them from the vastly inferior, made-with-marshmallow variety.

I often tell my husband the real reason I married him was to get my hands on this recipe. Yeah, they're that good. And they are so easy to make! 


6 oz Butterscotch chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 c Rice Krispies

Melt chips and peanut butter together in saucepan. Stir in Krispies, coating the cereal.

1 tsp water
6 oz chocolate chips
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp butter

Combine in saucepan and melt.
Layer in greased pan: Coated kispies, chocolate mix, coated krispies.

Refrigerator for at least an hour. Overnight for best results. Serve chilled.

Tip: I usually make two pans. One for me and one for everyone else. ;)

Don't forget to stop by Veronica's blog to see what other good eats are being offered up in the Treat Exchange.


Couple of suggestions: I like to melt the chocolate in a double boiler - I use a stainless steel mixing bowl on a medium-sized saucepan filled with soft-boiling water.

The most important thing with the chocolate is to heat it until it's melted, but not to "cook" it. Overheating it will cause textural issues when it cools. 

Basically, once you start heating the chocolate -don't take you attention away from it. And stir often. As soon as it's melted, take it off the heat and and pour/spread it into onto your bottom krispie layer right away.

Second, chilling it overnight is best. To let the layers set. Otherwise, they will be (more) crumbly and less cohesive. (I am usually way to impatient to follow this rule.)

Oh, and I forgot to mention that we like to make it a little more festive by putting fine red and green sprinkles on top at Christmas time. (Or orange and black at Halloween or red and pink at valentines day, etc.)

04 December 2009

Merry Merry Quite Contrary

I guess it's that time of year again; time to pull out my holiday soapbox.

Look, for the record (again), the phrase "Happy Holidays" is meant (in most cases) to be an all-inclusive wish for good tidings.

It's not meant to diminish or insult whatever specific holiday you, personally, choose to celebrate, okay?

Seriously, how freakin' sensitive do you have to be to get offended by "Happy Holidays"?!

And yet, there are those who are annoyed to the point of shrillness if - heaven forfend - someone should offer them a greeting or well-wish for a holiday they don't personally celebrate.

Really? It's such a brutal offense to your sensibilities to be wished a Happy holiday x just because you celebrate holiday y?

I've actually seen people respond to a perfectly cheerful "Happy Holidays" with a snide and venomous "Merry Christmas" hissed through clenched teeth like a curse rather than a blessing.

Really? That's your idea of holiday spirit, peace on earth, brotherly love and all that jazz?

Sheesh. Seriously, get over it.
Personally, I can’t imagine taking offense at any well-intentioned holiday wishes: Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwaanza, Happy Solstice, Blessed Yule, Happy Bodhi Day, Merry Giftmas, Happy Festivus or even the all-inclusive Happy Holidays that everyone seems to so revile – I just take them as I believe them to be meant – a show of fellowship, a wish for happiness.

Goodness knows most of us spend precious little time wishing each other good tidings the other 11 months of the year. So I choose not to begrudge someone the assumption that I celebrate the same holiday they do.

I choose instead to just accept and be thankful for the sentiment in any form.

So, Happy Chrismahanakwanzayulstice to you and yours, no matter what holiday, if any, you choose to celebrate.


If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

~ Lao-Tzu

02 December 2009

Coming out of the (Geek) Closet

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen one of my recent Tweets about my "Geek Couture" - my collection of geeky t-shirts. Well, now, you, gentle readers, can see a few highlights of the collection, all in one place! I know: I should totally start a museum, right?

Johnny Mnemonic

Yeah, I know if was only a B+ movie at best. But, what can I say? I love cheesy scifi. Plus, it's based on a short story by William Gibson, father of cyberpunk. No self-respecting scifi geek could resist that!

Speaking of futile resistance...

I can't find it in my closet right now, which is kind of annoying. Because I have one just like this - only without the word "Engage" on it. So, yeah, it's Jean-Luc Picard. Shut up! He's totally the best Captain ever! No, seriously, shut up.

Mischief Managed

Fortunately, my mom is as much of a Harry Potter Fan as I am. She scours ebay for all the best HP gear. So I can usually count on getting cool HP t-shirts and other paraphernalia for birthdays and Christmas.


Technically, this one is the ZenHusband's t-shirt. But I wear it at least as often as he does. I've also been known to "borrow" his Simpsons tees and a few others from his own geeky collection.

Bard to the Bone

File this one - and my three or four other Shakespeare fan-tees - in the literary geek folder. (Using the Dewey Decimal System, please.) I picked up both of these at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival - one of my top five favorite places in the whole world.

Wild Things

For the record, I had this shirt way before the movie came out.
This also has the distinction of being the only pink thing in my entire wardrobe.

This isn't the entire geek couture collection, of course, only a few highlights. For the next edition of Geek Couture, maybe I'll pull some samples from my expansive Disney collection. Or some of my geeky jewelry and accessories. Nah, too much work. Just trust me: It's very cool. In a nerdy sort of way. ;)

And still, it's a rather modest collection, by geek standards. For example, you'll notice the stunning lack of gamer shirts, techy tees and Whedon-esque attire. *hangs head in shame* I have no excuse.

I really, really, want this one, though.

And, um, yeah, pretty much all of these. ;)

Okay, I showed you mine. Now you show me yours.
What goofy things are hiding in your closet?

30 November 2009

Quote Junkie: On Communication

Do not speak unless you can improve on the silence.
~ Spanish Proverb

Noise proves nothing -
often a hen who has merely laid an egg,
cackles as if she had laid an asteroid.
~ Mark Twain

Two monologues do not make a dialogue.
~ Jeff Daly

The trouble with talking too fast
is you may say something you haven't thought of yet.
~ Ann Landers

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place
but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
~ Dorothy Nevill

It is better to keep one's mouth shut
and be thought a fool
than to open it and resolve all doubt.
~ Abraham Lincoln

Isn't it surprising how many things, if not said immediately,
seem not worth saying ten minutes from now?
~ Arnot L. Sheppard, Jr.

One of the lessons of history
is that nothing is often a good thing to do
and always a clever thing to say.
~ Will Durant

Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say,
abstains from giving evidence of the fact.
~ George Eliot

Calvin: Sometimes when I'm talking,
my words can't keep up with my thoughts.
I wonder why we think faster than we speak.
Hobbes: Probably so we can think twice.
~ Bill Watterson

Discussion is an exchange of knowledge;
argument an exchange of ignorance.
~ Robert Quillen

If everybody thought before they spoke,
the silence would be deafening.
~ George Barzan

The only valid censorship of ideas
is the right of people not to listen.
~ Tommy Smothers

The right to be heard does not automatically include
the right to be taken seriously.
~ Hubert H. Humphrey

Whenever two good people argue over principles,
they are both right.
~ Marie Ebner von Eschenbach

Ideal conversation must be an exchange of thought, and not,
as many of those who worry most about their shortcomings believe,
an eloquent exhibition of wit or oratory.
~ Emily Post

The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change. Communication does not depend on syntax, or eloquence, or rhetoric, or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them. Even the choices words lose their power when they are used to overpower. Attitudes are the real figures of speech. ~ Edwin H. Friedman

23 November 2009


The kids and I were playing with "action fingers" Sunday morning.

When Boba meets Buddha.

Using four hands is cheating, General!

I shall hug him a squeeze him and call him Boba.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have already seen the first picture,
but I just couldn't resist posting it here, too.