You’d think being un (or under)employed I’d have plenty of time to keep posts up to date. I don’t know quite where my time goes every day. Looking/applying for jobs. Keeping up with paperwork. Trying to meet up with friends and network connections for lunch, working on Karin’s documentary… soon I find the day is nearly done. So here are some photos from the past few weeks. A weekend trip to Boston for the Red Bull Cliff diving, some canning with Karen, a ride on a tug boat… the weekends appear to be just as full as my week days.

JP Pond

Knit monster from book bought in Boston

Fellow Tug in the race

We smoked the rest of them!

Canned goodness



Karen, Me, Alexis, Kobe, Dad

My sister flew in from Seattle for Father’s day weekend to hang out with Dad & Karen and Gramps and Tom. It was quite the family weekend. Red eye flights, shopping down town, genealogy exploring and circus playing.

Of course, any time I head to my Mom’s house I pack in my hoops and my fire fans. Open space? Yes please! Mom is so much better at hooping than either of us! Even though I ended up bruised and sun burnt, it was a great afternoon in the sun.

This time as I was throwing my fans and fire box in my car I heard “Performing fire?” Um, yes. Who are you and how did you know that?? Most people have no idea what my fire fans are when I’m carrying them around. Apparently my neighbor is a tattoo artist and sees fire performers at conventions. Awesome! I left my second set of fans with Mom so she can practice. (She promised not to try lighting them till I’m back though. Safety first!!)

Mini birthday cake!


Mini-cake cooling

I’m not really a baker. I don’t follow recipes exactly when I cook, I just throw stuff together. But I know baking is a science, and you’re supposed to stick to the recipe to get the right amount of fluffiness, the right balance of flavors. Yeah… I still don’t really. My Dad’s birthday is coming up, and I got in my head that I wanted to make his favorite cake. All I remembered about it was it was a really dense chocolate, with an awesome coffee sauce and it was extremely complicated. But I had Friday off, and thought I could tackle it. But here’s the thing. He’s going through chemo, and his appetite is way down. Even if it wasn’t, the cake has flour in it, and Karen is gluten-free. So making a whole cake for just my Dad seemed kinda silly. The cake called for a spring-form pan, and when looking around online for a good one, I hit on my solution. A mini-cake!! I got a set of 4 small spring-form pans and set about to split the recipe. 3 eggs, huh? Guess I’m splitting it in a third! Now I’ve never actually made this particular cake, never made anything in a spring-form pan and never had to split a complicated cake mixture in a third. Lots of cups split into tablespoon/teaspoon measurements.

iced cake

Beating one egg is kind of funny. I felt like I was making a cake for a dollhouse. Carefully folding in the eggs, grabbing a pinch of this, a pinch of that. I wasn’t sure how high to fill the pan (just used up all the batter) how to adjust the temperature (reduced to 350 for the first 15 minutes, up to 400 for the last 10-15) or how long to cook it (ended up around the recommended 25, perhaps a little longer).  I just kept an eye on it and all seemed to go well. I don’t know if the top was supposed to be rounded, but oh well.  Released it from its spring form, and cut into three layers. Made the chocolate pudding, in a third again. Spread it over the layers. Let it cool. The whole thing fit under an upside down tupperware container. (Score! Perfect for cooling overnight!) Making the coffee sauce was my favorite part. I don’t know if it was the coffee liquor, the espresso powder or the vanilla bean but the whole thing made my house smell AMAZING.

blurry Dad blowing out the candles

And the whole thing? Huge (mini) success! The cake was awesome. The perfect size. Even Chris (who doesn’t really like cake) liked it. Probably because it is more fudge like than cake like. I got a gluten-free brownie for Karen at the farmer’s market so she could celebrate along with us (the coffee sauce helped make that tastier).

Now what else can I make with my awesome new mini-cake pans???

Yet the weather is still nice in patches. We’ll ignore that horrid Halloween snow storm, shall we? Its been a dramatic week for pretty much everyone that I’ve spoken with, for one reason or another. Work drama, family drama, etc. etc. etc. However, so far, Sunday has turned out pretty nicely. We met up with Chris’ sister and the kids to go the zoo- the weather was beautiful, the kids enthusiastic and the animals mostly out. Q’s gotten so big! He’s a pretty awesome little kid.

Making friends with a goat.

I hope next week is better. Maybe I’ll actually make it to the gym. Bah. Fingers crossed.

Best Wedding Toppers

My cousin Richard married the lovely Jill today. It was the first time I’ve met Jill, and as you can tell from their wedding toppers… she seems like she’s pretty great. The wedding is a full weekend event, but I  could only make the ceremony and reception. I made it to the church in time, after an accidental detour to the reception hall first (I had the wrong address somehow.) Found my Dad and step-Mom, took a seat, caught up on family. The ceremony started, and much to my surprise my brother was the first groomsman out the door. I didn’t know he was even coming, much less going to be in the wedding! It was a nice surprise.

wedding favor spices

Richard really loves cooking. He always talks to my Dad about cooking game meats, and my step-mom made venison chili (for the pre-wedding party) with a buck my Dad got on Richard’s mother’s property. I wasn’t there, but from the raves I heard, it was quite a hit. So the wedding favors made complete sense for the couple, and were pretty rad for all the guests. They included a link to a site where they gave suggestions for the spices and why they like them. So clever! Jill’s flowers were all made of twisted fabric, including the boutonnieres for the groomsmen. So pretty and again, clever! I think I’m really going to like getting to know her. Welcome to the family, Jill!

The one odd bit about the wedding was the DJ. His music was okay….. he played all requests from the party. Some Guinness Record schtick. But he played only cassette tapes. He had boxes and boxes of tapes with hand labeled cases. The audio quality was super lo-fi. It worked okay for an afternoon wedding party, but I think the limits in his selection may have been a bit harsh for a later-night-dancey wedding. Seems like the dancey bit is happening at the after party (I had to head home, so I’m missing that) so I’m sure it’ll work out… but this guy was seriously strange. Not just the tape thing. He also gave a little talk before pretty much every song. When it came out, what rank it hit on the charts and when, it was like he was a oldies-dj or an advertisement for one of those era-compilation-discs. I bet you could fit all the music he had on one iPod. With better sound quality. And faster to find the music. My table was convinced the modern pop songs he had he recorded off the radio. It was unique, I’ll say that.

Yay for the Dawn Patrol ride!

Dawn Patrol ride

So the neck strap for my camera worked fantastically…. but my camera sort of failed. It takes forever to turn on, and a really long time to focus. Add in that there wasn’t very much sun and my camera hates low light… yeah, didn’t get very many good shots. It was a ton of fun anyway, though. All the rain meant the usual parking area at the club house were swamped out, so there wasn’t enough room for the slow races (oh drat). Ate some picnic food, bought a pair of riding sunglasses, got myself some good sunburn. Oops.

Other highlights of the weekend: swinging by Spring Caravan with Mom, (we didn’t stick around too long, so didn’t get to see this Super Mario Brothers Bellydance number in person, but wish I had, it looks super cute!) bought some fun things for the costume I’m working on for the fire-dance-number, stopped by a BBQ where I got to meet the folks who have one of my nêspera plants, played in the yard with hoops and watched some Doctor Who. Had some friends over on Sunday for an impromptu BBQ and a game of “Ticket To Ride.” Not an awful way to spend a weekend, that’s for sure.

Me & Jes at one of our performances

The only bad part about this weekend was saying good-bye to Jes. She’s on her way out to San Francisco to start a new job. Sounds like its perfect for her, and she’s going to love it out there. But I’m really going to miss her. I have some flowers from her garden, and a ton of great memories, but it isn’t going to replace having a great friend around to meet up with, drink some tea and knit away. Guess I’ll just have to make it out to the West Coast to visit. San Francisco is pretty much the mecca for bellydance/fire stuff anyway, so I’m sure we can find something fun to do when I do make my way out there :-)

The Martinsville Beech

The house cleaning in Martinsville was a rough weekend for everyone. I’m a little late in posting about it, but it wasn’t something I wanted to reflect on right away. Long days, lots of dust, and lots of emotion. How do you sort through an attic’s worth of Stuff that spans over 30 years of a family’s life? (One box at a time, I suppose the folks in the carport over the weekend would have to say.) It will be hard to say good-bye to the house once it sells. I will miss this beech tree the most. Its a tree meant for climbing, for hanging squirrel-outfoxing-birdfeeders. For wrapping your arms the branches and hanging like a leopard. I really hope the people who buy the house appreciate that tree.

I didn’t take much home with me; a straw hat that I ended up wearing most of the day, a thank-you card that my father’s sister sent to my Mom’s parents after my paternal grandfather died… small things. But I did get an amazing quilt. It was my Grandfather’s, made for him by his mother. It is yellow and white, airplanes alternating with stitched eagles. Its fantastic, but very stained. I’m going to try to fix it up, I’ll take some photos when I do.

Something I learned over the weekend? For the love of everyone who will sort through your things after you’re gone- throw out your junk mail! And Christmas cards! Sort through your notes at least once a year! Opening insurance policy change notices from 1974 isn’t fun for anyone.