Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Retraction

Back in my college days, I read the biography of J. Willard Marriott. It was a fascinating "rags to riches" story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I clearly, CLEARLY (like it was yesterday) remember reading that J. Willard Marriott started A & W Root Beer in Washington DC by selling cold root beer in frosty mugs to hot and sweaty DC'ers in the summer. I also clearly remember reading that A & W stood for Alice (Willard's wife) and Willard.

I thought this was such a great piece of trivia that I have shared this information whenever the subject of root beer came up. Yesterday, however, my world was turned upside down when I found out that I had either misunderstood the information, or completely dreamed it up in my own imagination.

While researching famous Utahans for Ethan's state report project, I learned that A & W Root Beer was actually started by two guys from Lodi, CA named Roy Allen and Frank Wright. They eventually franchised A & W and Marriott bought franchises and opened them in several locations on the East Coast, including Washington DC.

At first I didn't believe this information, so I double checked Wikipedia AND the official Marriott Corporation website and it appears that for many years, I have been....WRONG.

So, if I ever told you that A & W stood for Alice and Willard, I am deeply sorry for misleading you. Even though it makes for an interesting story, it's just not true.

However, the Marriott Corporation did invent in-flight food service for airplanes, so that is pretty cool, even though in-flight food service is basically extinct. But still...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Read This Blog Post If…

…making dinner is NOT your favorite activity of the day.
…you need to stock your freezer with meals to prepare for an upcoming medical procedure.
…you are a busy student/career person and would like a home cooked meal, but just don’t have the time.
…you are looking for an easy meal idea.

This morning I made Apricot-Glazed Chicken Tenders from the “Don’t Panic, Dinner’s in the Freezer” cookbook. I multiplied the recipe by 3, so tonight we will eat this for dinner and I will have 2 more meals to put in the freezer for another day. Yay!

Chicken Tenders cost me around $6 for a 3 pound bag at my grocery store. Most everything else I had on hand. I substituted peach jam for apricot jam since I had some homemade peach jam.

I measured out the chicken tenders in to zip top freezer bags, then simply dumped the marinade ingredients right into the bags. I zipped them up and squished everything around to mix and started on the glaze.

Start to finish I probably spent less than an hour making 3 dinners. If you want to make this meal too, here are the ingredients and instructions.

2 lbs. chicken tenders

1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 cloves minced garlic
2 T. lemon juice
1 t. rosemary
1 t. thyme
Salt and pepper to taste (approx ¼ t.)
1 small bay leaf crumbled

1 onion, minced
1 T. butter
2 T. cider vinegar
1 cup apricot preserves
1 T. soy sauce
2 t. Dijon mustard
¼ t. ginger
¼ t. cloves
¼ t. salt
1/8 t. pepper

Cooking Day Instructions
For marinade: In large freezer bag, combine marinade ingredients. Add chicken pieces, toss to coat, and marinate at room temperature one hour. (If preparing for that day, chill 6-8 hours or overnight. Prepare glaze below and refrigerate.)

Meanwhile, prepare the apricot glaze following the directions below. After one hour of marinating time, freeze.

For apricot glaze: In saucepan, cook onion in butter over moderate heat, stirring until softened. Add vinegar and continue cooking until liquid has reduced by one-half. Add preserves, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, spices, salt and pepper. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until thick. Place mixture in a food processor or blender and puree. (I used a submersible stick blender right in the pan.) Freeze apricot glaze in a separate, smaller freezer bag. Store in freezer together with marinated chicken.

Serving Day Instructions
Thaw chicken pieces and discard marinade. Place chicken on rack of broiler pan and broil 6 inches from heat, 5 minutes on each side. Baste chicken generously with apricot glaze and broil 3 minutes on each side or until well glazed and brown. Adjust cooking time if using thicker cuts of chicken.

Chicken can also be prepared on a charcoal or gas grill. To bake chicken, place pieces in a large baking dish. Bake at 435 degrees for approximately 35-40 minutes, basting with apricot glaze and turning every 10 minutes. Do not overcook. Shortly before chicken is done, put the chicken under the broiler and broil until golden brown and bubbly.

The finished product and a tip for pouring glaze in bags.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Story of Ticklin

When I was a little girl visiting my Grandma M, I begged for her to tell me this story. As far as I can recollect, she told it to me every time I asked (and I asked repeatedly.)

Why did I love this story so much? It’s hard to say. Can you imagine a story like this being sold in book form down at Barnes and Noble? Would it be banned? What would Oprah have to say about it? (She would make it into a movie, no doubt!)

I would tell this story to my kids in order to preserve it and my memory of Grandma M telling it, but if anyone heard me they’d probably call Child Protective Services.

Are kids today too sensitive for this kind of story, or am I just not giving them enough credit?

There once was a little girl named Ticklin who lived with her father and stepmother in a little house by a big river. Ticklin’s father was very kind, but hardly ever home. Ticklin’s mother was cruel and frightening and always home. She made Ticklin work day and night doing all the household chores.

One day, after Ticklin had just cleaned the kitchen floor, she was carrying two large buckets of water through the kitchen so she could empty them out the back door. The heavy buckets were full of water right up to the very top. Ticklin was careful not to spill the water, but just before she reached the back door, one, tiny drop spilled out of the bucket on to the clean kitchen floor.

Ticklin’s stepmother was enraged. She grabbed Ticklin, threw her into a big burlap bag, tied it up and went to get a stick to beat her with.

But, Ticklin was a clever little girl. She always carried a little pair of scissors and needle and thread in her apron pocket. So, she cut a little hole in the sack, climbed out, filled the sack with all of her stepmother’s prized china, and sewed the hole shut and ran to hide.

When Ticklin’s stepmother came back with the stick, she started hitting the bag over and over as hard as she could. She heard the sound of her dishes breaking and thought it was Ticklin’s bones breaking, so she hit even harder.

When she finally opened the bag and looked inside she saw all her best china, broken to tiny bits. She was so angry she ran and found Ticklin where she was hiding. She put her into another bag, tied it closed and went to find another stick to beat her with.

Again, Ticklin cut a hole in the bag and crawled out. This time she got her stepmother’s prize winning geese and put them in the bag instead. Ticklin ran down to the river and saw a kind man with a boat who rowed her to the other side.

When Ticklin’s stepmother returned and started hitting the bag she heard her geese honking and wailing. She thought it was Ticklin crying out and hit the bag even harder. When she opened the bag and saw her geese, dead as doornails, she was furious and ran to find Ticklin.

She came down to the river and saw Ticklin standing on the other side. So, in her sweetest voice she called out, “Ticklin, how’d you get across the river?”

Ticklin replied in her sweetest voice, “I put my right foot in my left ear, and my left foot in my right ear, and I JUMPED!”

So, the stepmother put her right foot in her left ear, and her left foot in her right ear, and jumped. And she sank to the bottom of the river and drowned and was never seen again.

The End

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Back to Reality

If you have the opportunity to spend 3 to 4 days somewhere warm and beautiful all by yourself, I highly recommend it. OK, I wasn't exactly by myself. I was with my mom and dad, which was GREAT! I was by myself in the sense that I did not have cute kids and a husband hogging all my parent's attention. It was all me!

My little trip to St. George turned out to be such a great idea, my brother Jason has planned his own "one on two" visit with mom and dad for late October. (Copy cat!)

The general passenger grumbling on the airplane leaving Las Vegas and heading for Portland was centered on the climate change we would all have to endure upon our arrival. 80 degrees in Las Vegas and low 50's when we landed in Portland with hail on the way home.

I, however, wasn't one of the grumblers. I was a reader! (I know...shocking isn't it.) I started "Airman" by Eoin Colfer in the airport at 3:30 and didn't stop reading until the "fasten seat belt" light went OFF in Portland at 8:00. I did a lot of reading over my long and fabulous weekend, but "Airman" stood out as a real gem. I can't stop thinking about it. I almost wish I didn't read it so quickly so I could still be sucked into that world.

While in St. George, I photographed almost all of my mom's quilts as part of a "Jean Atwood" research project I'm working on. Unfortunately all the photos are on my Dad's camera and I didn't get them off before I left. I'm hoping he will send me all of them on CD. (Just kidding mom, there is no research project.)

Back to the books, if you are looking for some fun teenage spy books, Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series is a good choice. Just two books available right now: "I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You" and "Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy." They kind of reminded me of the boarding school Sydney Bristow might have attended as a kid if she'd been recruited by SD-6 earlier.

The other book I read was "The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks" by E. Lockhart. I thoroughly enjoyed this story that tells of Frankie Landau-Banks, sophomore at an exclusive boarding school, who infiltrates an "old boys" club on campus and secretly plans pranks for them to execute. She also creates new and exciting vocabulary rules, if vocabulary can be considered exciting, which I think it can and should.

One of the drawbacks of my long, relaxing weekend, is I'm having trouble motivating myself to do regular things. Like make dinner. Sigh.

So, I guess I'd better do something about dinner then.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Polygamist Sighting

While in Costco today, I saw an actual polygamist. How do I know it was an actual polygamist? Because she looked just like those women from the Texas compound who have been creeping me out on TV for the last few days: monochromatic pioneer dress, no make-up, and long hair with a tall, swooping wall of hair in the front. (How they get their hair up that high without hairspray is a mystery in itself!)

She was with a man who I assumed was her husband and I wondered what the circumstances were that brought her to Costco.

Is the Costco trip a special reward? Does the favorite wife of the week get to leave the compound, venture out into the world and pick out 5 gallon jugs of apple juice, 30 pounds of laundry detergent and 300 rolls of toilet paper?

Or, is the real treat staying back at the compound watching your husband’s 50 kids? (Somehow I doubt this is the case.)

No, I think Costco is definitely a reward. I wonder if the wives argue with each other about who gets to go to Costco. Is it a seniority thing? Are there hurt feelings when one wife gets chosen over others? Do the wives who were left behind all get together and rag on the Costco wife while she’s gone?

What if the wife who went to Costco came home with one of those berry sundaes and everyone was mad because they didn’t get one. This is the conversation I imagine taking place as a result:

Costco Wife: I totally would have gotten you a berry sundae, but it would have melted on the ride home.

Compound Wives: Whatever! You are just trying to rub our faces in the fact that you got to go to Costco and we had to stay home with the 50 kids, 3 of which have ear infections, 34 who were complete brats, 6 who were caught coloring a blasphemous dinosaur coloring book and 7 who are sobbing because they will be 16 years old this month and have to marry 60 year old men.

Costco Wife: Sister wives, let us not argue and fight. Instead, let us start preparing the evening meal. After all, we only have 3 hours. How about I set the table and the rest of you can put all this Costco stuff away and start cooking.

Then the Compound wives would think really evil thoughts about the Costco wife, but they would not show it on their faces lest they appear to be petty and vindictive to their husband because then they might NEVER be chosen to go to Costco.

Of course my other thought about the polygamist wife was this: How come the woman has to wear the odd, conspicuous clothing while the men can wear whatever they want and blend in with the regular folk? If the women have to wear the pioneer dress, the men should have to wear really old pioneer hats and red bandannas around their necks. Oooh! And they will only be allowed to wear suspenders to hold their pants up; no belts. Rainbow suspenders or ones with piano keys on them would be preferable. I think that would equal out the men and women appearance-wise.

Sunny and Warm

I survived airport security despite a mild amount of panic. I wouldn't have put some things in my zip lock toiletry bag if I'd known I was going to have to take it out and put it on public display, but whatever. I am used to mild embarrassment. I have kids, after all.

I didn't bring my camera, but am going to figure out a way to document the insanity that is the many quilts of Jean Atwood. Serious insanity I tell you. Tiny pieces of fabric all sewn together in quilting perfection, sitting in tall folded stacks, hanging on walls, thrown over the backs of chairs. They are everywhere.

The sun is shining, the sky is blue and the mountains are red and gorgeous. Time to get outside and enjoy it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How Does This Work Again?

So, tomorrow is the big day. I'm leaving for a trip to my parents house on an airplane, all by myself. It's been a good 4 hundred years since I've last flown, and I'm a little nervous about it. I don't worry that the plane will fall out of the sky. (Well, I do a little bit, thanks mom!)

I don't worry about hijackers or possibly having to use incredibly small toilets that suck with the force of 67 Dyson vacuum cleaners and use some kind of blue flushing liquid.

I'm worried about bringing something that might be confiscated, like bottled water or hair gel. I'm worried about checking in. I've already pre-printed my boarding pass, but do I still have to check in somewhere? Do I have to take my shoes off to get through the metal detector? Do I have to have my luggage checked by bomb sniffing dogs?

I've completely forgotten what to do in an airport and I'm fairly sure I will do something wrong, which will in turn create suspicion which will probably result in a full search of my luggage and the public displaying of my underwear. This is my fear.

There was a time I felt like quite a proficient traveler, but those days have passed.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Belated Blog-versary Post

I forgot to mention on April 11, the very day I bought my first music CD in probably 12 years, that it was my 1 year blog-versary. As with most anniversaries, birthdays and special observances, (including Columbus Day...sorry Columbus) I didn't realize the significance of the day until it was too late to send myself a charming e-card. But isn't it interesting that I chose that very day to buy myself the new REM CD (first studio album in 4 years)?

So I will put a link to the post that started it all way back on April 11, 2007 about our trip to Disneyland.

Also, in case you didn't notice, I've also included in this post a video of REM on the Colbert Report. Enjoy! And check out all the toy dinosaurs on the amps by the drummer.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Milestone

Today I bought a CD. Probably the first time in 12 years that I've purchased a music CD that didn't include songs about big red cars, choo choo trains, bumble bees or cleaning up.

Just for me, not for the kids and I love it. I'm still cool right?

I'm listening to it now, but it's not the same as it was 12 years ago when I didn't have little boys who refuse to go outside and play even though it's 61 degrees and sunny for crying out loud. Instead they'd rather sit in the same room with me and list off things they want for their birthdays that are over 4 months away.

When they are done listing off things I can buy them, they list all the places they'd like me to take them since evidently, spending 2 and a half hours at Chuck E. Cheese this morning was not enough.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

How Fast Are You?

85 words


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Spoiler Alert

I'm reading "The Other Boleyn Girl" By Phillipa Gregory. I'm about 250 pages into this 700+ page book and moderately enjoying it. I started to think about Mary and Anne Boleyn and wondered what they might have looked like, so I googled them. Wikipedia has pictures, as well as a lot of info on both Mary and Anne. I read everything.

I knew that Anne married Henry VIII and that he eventually had her killed. I didn't realize that he also had her brother George killed and that the parents died shortly after and that Mary's husband, Sir William Carey, died from the sweating sickness (which, by the way, sounds terrifying) and that Mary was most likely OLDER than Anne and that while Mary was Henry VIII's mistress, it was never public.

Bottom line: I learned lots of interesting things and now don't really feel like finishing the book. My only incentive for reading "The Other Boleyn Girl" now is that I read on Wikipedia that the book is quite controversial among historians because of the many deviations from strongly supported theories. In other words, the story most likely will not follow exact chain of events as outlined in Wikipedia.

Then again, this is Wikipedia we are talking about and according to Michael Scott: "Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information."

Has anyone read this book? Is there any need for me to continue reading it?

I Love Art

I'm tired this morning, this cartoon was funny, so it is my post. Also, it reminded me of Clarie D since she is going to museum school.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Hmm, Interesting

I've heard about this little event before but never participated. Now, I'm wondering if the time is right.

It's Mother Reader's Third Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge. Check out her blog post for rules, information and sign-ups. The challenge will last from June 6-8. There are prizes!

I was hesitant at first to take on this challenge for a few reasons. I am not a speed reader and worry that I wouldn't get very many books/pages read in the 48 hours. Also, do I really want to compete in reading...hmmm. Finally, I did consider the fact that I do have 3 children and surely they would be needing a bit of attention over the weekend.

But, there are prizes, and from the sound of it, some of them seem to be right covetable...like an original drawing by Mo Willems (well, that was last year, but I hear this year's prizes will be even better). Ooh, also, there are door prizes, so it's not all about speed and short books.

So, is there anyone out there with a "Heck yah! Let's do it!"?

At this point I'm curious, but not committed...not yet, that is. Anyone, anyone?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I'm a Winner!

April, as it turns out, is a GREAT month. Well, at least the first 3 days. I'll let you know how the other 27 turn out.

On April 1st I found out that Stephenie Meyer has NOT canceled book number four in her Twilight series which was very good news. Actually, I had no idea she was even considering canceling book number four, and as it turns out, she wasn't.

Later that day I got an e-mail from a friend asking if I'd be interested in attending Stephenie Meyer's book signing event for The Host in May. Um...YES!

On April 2nd I planted seeds in my garden. Beets, peas (2 varieties) and a really funky variety of carrot called "rainbow" which produces white, yellow, red, purple and, of course, orange carrots. I have my doubts that we will get the gorgeous 6-8 inch long carrots pictured on the package, but like that little boy in Crockett Johnson's (and Ruth Krauss's) book, I'm going to stay positive and see what happens. (Listen to a vintage Carrot Seed record here!)

Also, it was almost 60 degrees on the 2nd day of April. Not a cloud in the sky or even the slightest breeze. Ok, maybe a very slight breeze, but when I stood outside with my back to the sun I actually warmed up, and it was a delightful feeling.

Finally, (and this is big...) I purchased airline tickets to visit my mom and dad in St. George (where the sun shines all the time, evidently) all by myself, without kids, for a nice long weekend.

And today, April 3rd, I found out that I won a drawing for an ARC of Trouble, by Gary D. Schmidt, author of, among other things, The Wednesday Wars. Every month, my favorite children's librarian, Elizabeth Bird, has a drawing for an advance reading copy of a book. You simply send her an e-mail letting her know you'd like to be in the drawing and in a few days, she will reply letting you know if your name was selected out of the cereal bowl of destiny (I believe.)

Why haven't I mentioned this drawing on my blog before? Simple: I needed to keep the competition down until I won. Now, feel free to check the Fuse #8 blog around the first of each month and see if you can get yourself your very own ARC.

Yay cereal bowl of destiny!

As if that is not enough, today is supposed to be 63 degrees. How great is that?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Books I've Been Reading

It's been a while since I've done a little book report and it's also been a few days since I posted, so since I don't know what else to write about, I'll tell you about some of the books I've been reading.

Beauty Shop For Rent, by Laura Bowers - I really enjoyed this YA novel about a teen named Abby who is trying to not repeat history. For several generations, women in her family have had babies at 15 or 16 and she wants to be independently wealthy before she decides to have a relationship and start a family. There are great characters in this book, but especially the great-grandma, Granny Po and her group of friends who are a wonderful family to Abby.

Evil Genius, by Catherine Jinks - I loved the premise of this book, but would have liked to have seen it end differently. Still, the ending is ok and paves the way for the sequel Genius Squad. The story follows Cadel Piggot, a child prodigy and skilled computer hacker at age 7. When he's older, Cadel enrolls in the Axis Institue, a school that teaches courses in forgery, disguise, infiltration, embezzelment, and misinformation. His on-line friendship with a kindred spirit causes him to second guess his involvement in Axis as well as his relationships with many of the people in his life.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie - I read this in the car on the way to Disneyland. At first I started reading aloud so the kids could hear, but after having to censor swear words a few times, and after the content became clearly more Young Adult than Juvenile/pre-school (not that I thought this was a juvenile or pre-school book at all...), I decided to read on my own. Hilarious yet heart-breaking story of a native American boy on the "rez" who decides to change the direction of his life.

Lottery, by Patricia Wood - This is another book that I read in the car while Driving to/from Disneyland. A great story about a guy who wins the Washington State Lottery and the people in his life who try to help him and those who try and take advantage of him. Did I mention the main character is mentally "slow?" (Not retarded...he scored 76 on the IQ test and that means he is just slow.)

Just Listen, The Truth about Forever, Dreamland, This Lullaby, by Sarah Dessen - Young adult fiction, each about a female with issues. She tries to handle her problems by herself so that she doesn't burden her seemingly weak family who already has enough stress to deal with, but eventually things come to a head and all is revealed and her family gathers around her to help her solve her problems, proving they were stronger than she thought they were. I liked Just Listen the best probably because it was the first I read. I liked Dreamland the least because it was about a girl in a physically abusive relationship and it was sad, shocking and a little disturbing...but with a happy ending, of course.

Project Mulberry, When My Name Was Keoko, A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park - Each of these juvenile fiction books is simply, but beautifully written. Each story has a Korean main character, but Project Mulberry takes place in upstate New York in present day, while When My Name Was Keoko and A Single Shard take place in Korea; the first during World War II and the second in 14th century Korea. A Single Shard won the Newbery Medal. A recent interview with Linda Sue Park on Shannon Hale's website prompted me to read these books. Click here and read it for yourself.

Half Broken Things, by Morag Joss - Well, this book was interesting. Kind of hard to get into because the voice kept shifting from first person to third person, AND the narrative kept jumping between three or four characters for a while until they actually all get together. My mom loved this book and I just thought it was ok. The premise of the story is a woman who is a professional house sitter and has no home of her own finds out that the agency that employs her is forcing her to retire. This sets off a chain of events in which the woman becomes slightly delusional and invites a theif and a young pregnant woman to live with her in the massive, old, English home she is house sitting for 9 months.