Orange You’re Glad I’m Not A Banana?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Orange is a colour that people either hate or love: tell us how you feel about it.


We are a pretty funny family, but we suck at telling jokes.

The delivery is always off and the punchline is followed by a 5 minute dialogue on the history of the punchline, and how it was very relevant to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution era in England, and while I am at it, here is the synopsis of “Wuthering Heights,” which also has a close bearing to the story.

You can imagine how much fun we are at Christmas.


main_wineThis helps!



However, my kids are absolutely set to be the best “knock-knock” joke tellers on Earth.

Even despite being in our genetic line.  So I don’t know how this is going to work out for them.

Case in point: this is my favorite Knock, knock joke:


Knock, knock

Who’s there?


To, who?

To whom.

*many, many groans.  I understand*


Last year for Christmas I actually bought them a book of knock-knock jokes, and it was okay for a while…but they reverted back to their own brand of humor:


Knock, knock

who’s there?


Banana who?

Banana wrapped in a sandwich!

*wild, crazy laughter from everyone*


The best one I have is the Orange one.  I remember the very day I unleashed this joke onto my, then, 4 year old eldest son who will undoubtedly grow up to be the world’s most amazing engineer.  We were driving on highway 120 on the way home from somewhere.  It was around 2:30 in the afternoon in the fall.  We were all having fun that day, and in good spirits, so I had the sudden realization that now…now was the time to give them the best knock, knock joke I knew:


Knock, knock

Who’s there?


Orange who?

Orange you glad you aren’t a banana!

*…wait for laughter…*


“That’s not funny.”


That’s all I got, kid.





The Date Night When I Wore A Purple Wig



10404500_10204884453973167_6121312052279610165_nThis is me in a purple wig, going on date night with my husband of 15 years.

Let me explain.

I really do live a very domestic life.  My days are spent largely at home teaching homeschool, doing 3 loads of dishes a day, a few loads of laundry, picking up toys, cheerios and bagel dog wrappers, and writing.  It’s pretty normal, all in all.

This was me a few hours earlier at a firehouse during a pancake breakfast with Ben and the kids:


I think I’m pretty normal.  Granted, <1% of people who know me will agree with this…but statistically, I’m very normal.

So purple wigs are kinda crazy.  Especially just for the heck of it.

But you know?  You only have this life to live.


“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
Mahatma Gandhi


I say, if you want to wear a purple wig, and wear leather jackets, and drink dusty bottles of bourbon in North Beach with your husband…why not?  Who is in your head telling you you can’t do stuff like this?

Go have fun. Especially with your husband 🙂


(I can’t end it there…we saw some crazy stuff that night!  Here are some things we found!!)


IMG_9251Inflatable Mounted Unicorn Heads

IMG_9255Individual Inflatable Unicorn Horns

IMG_9257Electronic Yodelling Pickles

IMG_9258Finger Tentacles…which I didn’t buy. But I’m pining for.

IMG_9259This might be a Christmas present for some people…

But the one thing we saw that I loved the most was the lit books.  These were books (or bookbulbs?) hanging from wires over an intersection, and they would flash in patterns every once in a while.  Being in such a literary area, it was a wonderful exhibit for the neighborhood 🙂  I looked like an idiot standing under them and holding my phone up waiting for them to start flashing though…

IMG_9261 IMG_9262 IMG_9263 IMG_9264 IMG_9265 IMG_9266

We All Wanted to Escape In The 80s

Friday, October 10, 2014
Tell us your favourite crunchy thing to eat.


In the 80s, we all wanted to escape.

Maybe it was the seductive fascination of James Bond who drove us across Europe on the back of his motorcycle with a warm marine wind in our (perfect) hair that led us to believe that the Mediterranean was the place to be.  Peaceful, blooming vineyards in the spring, winding roads through the mountains in the fall, skiing on perfect white snow in the winter, and bikinis that don’t fall down (or creep up) in the summer.

We didn’t have to worry about Japan buying all of our car plants if we were water skiing in Spain.  We didn’t have to worry about the recession of 1982 and the record bankruptcies that infected American businesses if we were drinking coffee in France.  And the only thing that would be “trickling down” would be the Italian gelato we held in our carefree hands.

The 80s was a decade of changing times, transitioning from the free spirited 70s into new technology and economic turmoil of the 80s, and it was a time of believing in the dream of escape.  However, the dream was being sold to the middle and lower class who couldn’t afford international travel: so, instead, it was brought to our homes.

Maxwell House’s International Coffees were the ultimate escape food in your kitchen, back then.  Through these tins, you could imagine yourself anywhere else in the world, other than in your kitchen.  You could be drinking…

f480Viennese Coffee51EzQ4dy7KL._SX425AA425_PIbundle-6,TopRight,0,0_AA425_SH20_Suisse Mocha Coffee
f6369French Vanilla Nut Coffee51n-g8YobkL._SX425SX425_SY331_CR,0,0,425,331_PIbundle-6,TopRight,0,0_SX425_SY331_CR,0,0,425,331_SH20_French Vanilla Cafe` Coffee, for when you want to sit in a French cafe` instead of hiding in the bathroom, pretending someone didn’t actually spill the entire box of Cheerios on the couch.

There is a song by Rupert Holmes called “Escape” that really shows this need for international escape at the time:

Pina Coladas, Viennese coffee, French cafe`s…there was something alluring about leaving our comfort zones and enjoying desserts from other lands.

Which brings me to my favorite crunchy food of all time: Viennetta.

 Viennetta was the delicacy of Kings.

It was served in martini glasses with linen napkins.  And you could have it in your own home!

I remember when I was younger and we got Viennetta a couple times.  It was, indeed, a delicacy.  We ate it in olive green tupperware bowls, but the feeling was the same.  Rich, creamy vanilla ice cream. Thin, crunchy chocolate sheets.  Wavy layers that looked like fine lace to my young eyes.  It was exciting, it was exotic and it was fun.  That was the best part: it was fun to eat.  You weren’t just getting spooned scoops of ice cream in your bowl, you were indulging in a luxury.  An affordable luxury.  A little slice of escape.

The Taste of Smug

Thursday, October 9, 2014
Is there any fall flavour that turns your stomach?


When I was growing up, I was the most pretentious person I have ever met. I only read obscure books and watched obscure movies and only listened to obscure music.



There was a friend I had years ago whom I got along with pretty well, all in all.

We had things in common, enjoyed talking about similar subjects, were on a pretty similar life path.  It was nice for a while because we could have frank conversations about things, like theology or philosophy, which was a refreshing change from small talk about furniture or chili recipes.

Yet, after a while I started to notice that I was dreading their visits.  I began to get nervous if they called and said they were on the way over: I spent the entire time before they arrived going around the house looking for anything they could criticize: the state of my kitchen, the merit of (“real”) health foods I had, the dinginess of my carpets, the crumbs under the cushions of my couch.

Their friendship was becoming a royal pain in the neck because of the smug comments they brought with them.

How I disciplined my children?  “When I have kids, I am learning from your obvious mistakes. It would be nice if they could behave themselves for once.

My college degrees? “I wasn’t an idiot and wasted thousands of dollars on a piece of paper that doesn’t matter. Was it really worth it?

My clothes? “At some point you want to dress like a woman. I have thought about auditioning for the model reality show, because I could make it.  Easily.  

My weight? “I think a pack of dogs could feed on you for a week, easily.  I work out for 2 hours a day.

These were comments that really stick with you.

I used to love talking with them about ideas, but their opinions of me, personally, were harsh; and they just escalated over time.  There was nothing I could do that they left alone, and they brought their smugness as a permanent carry-on.

Honestly, I can handle harsh truths: they are hard to take, but if they are true then you really do benefit from a little humble pie once in a while.

I can even handle people being jerks.  You learn how to tune them out after a while, since what they are saying doesn’t actually matter.

But the smugness…I just can’t handle.

It says that they are better than I am.  That they could raise my kids better.  That I am less of a person because of what they say.  In the end, you have two options: You can suck it up and deal with it, politely reminding them that you are a capable person and none of it was their business in the first place.  Or you can burn that bridge.


Yeaaaahhhhh….I tried talking to them about a couple things (like telling a woman on facebook that she was a danger to her kids and my friend would “gladly take her kids while she got treatment”), and they were pretty certain they were right.

The holidays can be tough because you are getting together for holidays, holiday parties and general holiday events.  That is a lot of people-time, and people bring a lot of things to the table.

Hands down, the taste I hate the most is SMUG.

Connecting Yourself: Autumnal Gluten Free Pies

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Which pie wins your heart as the classic autumnal pie: apple or pumpkin?

There is something about pies.

Baking_a_PieThis is what I wear when I am working in the kitchen. The poofy sleeves help me focus.

There is something about pies that make them comforting down to the pit of your soul.  Pies are the dish that connects us.  It is after dinner (sometimes breakfast…), relaxing with people, sipping coffee and letting yourself loosen up.  Everyone has their own favorite pie, which is why you need a few pies for a good spread.  I have never liked pecan pie, but my aunt loves it.  I like fruit pies, but I’m not a huge fan of berry pies (except for Knott’s boysenberries, which is on another planet entirely).

Pies are not to be taken lightly.  You might favor the pies with the graham cracker crust.  You might favor the pies with flaky pastry crust.  Personally, I refuse to put limits on myself.  Pie is not the sort of thing you start taking sides on.  You eat both.

Ultimately, baking pies and eating pies are all about connecting yourself to people.  Like, you and your son both love apple pies.  There is a glaze that films over your eyes while you guys are eating fresh, homemade apple pies.  It is a transcendence experience that you both share.  Nothing in the world can replace this kind of pie experience.  Especially if it was made in your kitchen.

Of course, you could buy premade pies.  They taste fine, no two ways about it.  But I guarantee you: a homemade key lime pie will be a conversation piece for years.

Connect yourself this season.  Make pies.


Let’s make this happen.

My own gluten free pie recipes.

I’ve been doing this gluten free thing for the past 10 years, and I have determined something as truth: I hate horrible food.  Just because it is gluten free does not mean it has to taste like cardboard…or worse!  Bad pies do not connect anyone.

So make good gluten free pies.

Do yourself a favor and make some really stellar desserts this year.  Be the rockstar of Thanksgiving!




  Always A Winner Pies:

Gluten Free Pie Crust Recipe…along with Pumpkin, Peach and Pear Cranberry Pie





 Rockstar Pie:

Gluten Free Lemon Meringue Pie




Autumnal Edible Threats.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Tell us about your favourite autumnal edible treat.


I keep reading this as “Autumnal Threats.”

So let’s go with that.

Autumn sucks hugely in regards to eating.

Oh sure, there is caramel apple cinnamon crumbles,



baked pumpkin fritter bites

4dbd32d9499f2902b6a5bc1e03fbf235Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins



Or an ENTIRE PAGE of Pumpkin truffles

Screenshot 2014-10-06 18.05.42


But my body was not designed for eating.  Well, it was designed for eating.  My body is just plain maternal, so it absorbs airborne calories, just in case my uterus kicks in again.  I have been skating, running and skating again for the past year…and I still get winded after 3 miles.

At least I look fantastic on purple skates to counter-balance this.  Geez.

10509540_10152143759952181_9057443813904455724_nHot Stuff. 

When I think of the fruits of the Spirit, I think of self-control.  Because it absolutely does not come naturally…it is definitely something I have to plan, organize, plant, grow, tend, water and see to it that it matures nicely in order to produce fruit.  At all.

All these foods that are just going to lead to my obesity, my high blood pressure, my possible future with diabetes…is just a plain ol’ threat.  And I already got 99 problems here in the laundry pile.


That’s right.  I’m saying the Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins of Wonderfulness are each, individually, an Autumnal Threat.


My ability to make my world famous Split Pea Soup for dinner, and 4 out of 5 children cheer for it, means I have victory over the threat.


Tamarah -1, Autumnal Threats – 0 




No joke:  My treat is resisting.

I Love Pumpkin Spice Because I Am A Clumsy Oaf

Monday, October 6, 2014
Pumpkin spiced flavoured everything: can’t get enough OR enough already!


201309271344_1380307477.02628This has happened to me before.

Except it wasn’t in a rather empty room with a few other people.  It was on choir risers. In front of an audience. At a women’s conference. I was on the top riser, and I tried taking a couple ladies down with me as my feet forgot how to feet.  I don’t know how I misstepped on there, but I was in heels and just stepped quite confidently… right off the step and straight into air.

Thankfully, no one was hurt and the women were upon me like blankets making sure I was okay and patting my shoulders.

I just walked it off…what else are you going to do?

Never get invited to another women’s conference choir, for one.


The thing is, pumpkin spice speaks to me because I am a clumsy oaf.

Pumpkin spice is not associated with delicate things.  Dainty things.  Things that are diamond encrusted, high society, “Oh no darling, I simply couldn’t eat another pumpkin spice thing. It is simply undignified” people.

Pumpkin spice is for people who fall off risers.  People who love to love flavor.  People who get excited about pumpkin spice vodka, because the possibilities are endless.  And you don’t even like vodka!!  Pumpkin spice is for the salt of the earth kind of people.

Or maybe the spice of the earth…???


Here is what I am talking about.  These are some of the amazing, tasty things that are associated with pumpkin spice:


pumpkin 006Martinis.  I am all over this.

And most importantly:



Wait, what??

enhanced-5425-1410215272-18Okay, maybe this has gone too far.

What isn’t associated with pumpkin spice may be things like,



bacon…hey, wait a second.  What is on that bacon…??

Screenshot 2014-10-06 12.35.59


Autumnal Smells

Friday, October 3, 2014
Which smell lets you know that it is autumn?

I truly believe that being outside in the autumn is the best.  We are rather outdoorsy people anyway, so we tend to take hikes exploring through the wilderness as often as we can.  We have a healthy dose of “free spirit-itis” in our blood, and the idea of being stuck indoors all day is a little unnerving.  There are quite a few lakes and reservoirs around our house that we visit weekly, and they have been part of our routine for years.  I enjoy getting out of the house for some fresh air, especially somewhere where the kids can run around and explore freely, and the kids love the freedom of exploring.  I love watching them climb hills, find sticks, find bugs and hop across the rocks on the shore.  This is where we are in our element, more than anywhere else.

IMG_8973 IMG_8978 IMG_8968 IMG_8977

The smells of autumn are distinctly of dry leaves that haven’t yet begun to decay but have spent months baking through the late summer.  The smells of the moss and algae that have dried onto rocks.  The dry, baked smells are the smells of autumn to me…

But the smell that lets me know it is autumn is when I am walking around my neighborhood and I smell smoke from fireplaces.  It means people are starting to stay indoors with their windows closed, rather than keeping their doors and windows open to try to get a breeze through the house to cool it off in the summer.  When there is smoke in the air, it tells me that people have made the change from flip flops to sweaters.  Families are beginning to keep their kids inside at 7:30pm because it is too dark, and they are entertaining their children with the mesmerizing flames in the fireplace.

The fireplace is the hearth of the home.  It calms tired minds at the end of the day, quietly crackling and dancing in the safety of its bricked home, warming our fingers and bringing us closer at night.

Autumnal Songs

Thursday, October 2, 2014
Winter and summer are two seasons that have songs clearly associated with the time period. But are there any songs that remind you of fall?

 Screenshot 2014-10-02 15.59.41











When I graduated high school, my first job was a (thankfully) short-lived seasonal job in the local mall at a virtual reality game store…called…something.  Oh man, I can’t remember the name of it.   They were all the rage in the late 90s, but none of them lasted.  It could be because they were trying to host an ISP out of their dimly lit bathroom where they gave us a phone book and  a telephone and we had to make cold calls at $3.25/hr, along with selling a million little knick knacks that fit perfectly into pockets, and so our inventory kept “disappearing” for some reason.  It was a weird, and moderately flawed, business model, but I met the owners a few times and they were enthusiastic dudes out of Berkeley with a million ideas.  That was almost 20 years ago, so I really hope they did something amazing.  Heck, they could have been the founders of Google and I just don’t remember their names…

After that sordid job, I found a job listing in the Anthropology department in my college for a real estate office assistant.  They wanted to pay me $9/hr, which was stupid crazy money back in 1997.  You could actually afford to live on $9/hr.  With crazy roommates.  Who brought over a thousand boyfriends and all their buddies.  And who forgot to call PG&E to get the electricity turned on for 3 weeks.

Ahh, college.

meme-diyNah, it’s cool. I’ll just get all the utilities in my name and have stellar credit for the rest of my life.

That real estate job was definitely a kick in the pants.

It wasn’t a seasonal mall job where you always ran into people from high school who would never stop (“please…help….me….”).  It was a real job with a real desk and the people in the office were making real money.  It was a 30 mile commute from my house, so it also got me out of my local community, which was nice.  All in all, it was a pretty sweet gig.

The kicker was: I was 18 and working in a pool of other late-teen girls, most of whom were all too enamored with being hit on by their mid-30s bosses who were bored with their marriages.  I had made myself very clear where I stood on the issue, and my name was brought up in meetings of “whom to not hit on, for verily there shall be lawyers after our hindsides if we do.”  So, I kept my job and they kept to themselves, and to other girls, and I left after a few years.

On the plus side, I got my real estate license and understood the business and how real estate works.  Our brokerage was just refinancing mortgages, so it was all paperwork and appraisals and whatnot.  This made things remarkably easier for Ben and me when we bought a house, 15 years later.

On the down side, I certainly had to grow up fast in that place.

This wasn’t high school, and I wasn’t just angry at the system anymore.  If I wanted to make money in a job in order to survive on my own, I had to put in time and effort.  I had to learn how to be nice to jerks, and also put up boundaries to keep them at a safe distance.  I was not going to be one of the girls in the office who was taken for a ride by some fancy suit, paid off with cars and health insurance (to cover pregnancies/abortions/stds...).  I was going to make it on my own.  I was going to study like mad and get my own real estate license and have people work for me.  I was going to be their peer.  That was the plan.

I ended up quitting right before Ben and I got married, just because it was so difficult working in that place.  I got no help from the other agents, because I was no help to them, and it just wasn’t panning out.  So I went back to college and got a job at an art gallery, which was by far one of my favorite jobs I have ever had.

But I first started working in the real estate office in the fall, and I remember standing on the front steps with the agents, smoking and shooting the shit while the sun went down.  Lots of dark evenings cold calling customers and fiddling with paperwork, determining how to save money for families with 18% interest rates, or retired veterans with worse rates than I care to admit.

I spent a lot of time listening to Everything But The Girl’s album, “Amplified Heart” during that season.

Tracey Thorne had an earthly, yet somewhat ethereal voice that spoke real words about real situations.  She sang from the heart, and she sang about life.

During this time I needed something to anchor me to reality.  It was such a bizarre time of both freedom and bondage, most of the time it didn’t feel real at all.  Ben and I were both advancing our careers and our home, and were still treated like kids by people around us.  It was a tough transitional time to become a woman while I was still wearing the same clothes I wore in high school.

“Amplified Heart” is definitely an autumnal album.  It is a little on the slow tempo side, getting ready for the season of hibernating in winter, but not so on the down note to make you want to curl up under a blanket.  Tracey’s songs are ones you can take with you on a walk through an orange forest.  It is the end of a time of growth, and is preparing for a time of rest and reflection.

Still one of my favorite albums of all time.




The Gasp

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Crunch crunch crunch: leaves are starting to carpet the sidewalks. Tell us about your favourite autumnal sound.

I have the ears of a bat.

That is what I tell my kids when they are whispering secrets while they are supposed to be doing schoolwork.  I can hear whispers just as well as I can hear the singing, the talking, the yelling.

What I love to hear is The Gasp.

The Gasp when they see a new creature on Nautilus’ live camera.  I love when they have learned more about coconut crabs than I have.  I love hearing The Gasp from the next room over when they have discovered a new land in Minecraft.  I love witnessing The Gasp when they find a caterpillar crawling across the front sidewalk.

I heard The Gasp when we were at the mountains this weekend, and the kids saw a thunderstorm gestate in front of them; and I loved hearing The Gasp when we were all caught in a sincere rainstorm.  The Gasp happened when we rode a small train around a pond, littered with domestic geese itching to bite one of them in order to get their apples.  I heard it when we rode past apple orchards and blackberry patches, ooohing at the fresh berries just within reach: but be careful, because there are thorns.

The Gasp is my favorite sound in Autumn because it tells me that the magic of life is still alive in my children.  They are as awestruck by the changing of seasons and the shift in colors, as I am still.

When I hear The Gasp, it is listening to a breath of hope, for a mother.  My children can see the magic of the colors of life, the mysteries of nature and the utter delight of changes in life.  Every change is a new door of opportunity, and they are excited to swing the doors open and poke what they find inside.