Category Archives: Honey Do Tales

O, Christmas Tree

All the left-overs are long gone, and I’m emerging from my status of missing in action for the last week or so.  I won’t bore you with the details–everyone has that list from time to time that keeps them busy with life.

The weekend after Thanksgiving is when our Christmas decorations explode across the house.

Maybe not, explode.  Two rooms and the front yard, tops.

The girls have finally gotten to the ages when they can take over putting all the decorations on the tree.  Together.  Just the two of them.  Without supervision.  Without mediation.

With some mediation and several breaks from each other.

“What were you thinking about?”

Every year, they pick two (or three) ornaments that they love.  These ornaments usually represent something they experienced or loved during the year.  For both of them, the tempation to buy the Lego Darth Vader was strong within them.  But they resisted the dark side.

Daughter 2 picked polar bears, penguins, and kittens.  There are two series of ornaments that she’s collecting.  Daughter 1 picked the puppy and horse that go with her two series.  She also picked something else.  It makes a geek mom proud.

If the store had the Hulk, she would have picked him.  I was surprised that she passed up Thor and Darth Vader.  I wasn’t surprised that she ignored Spider-Man (even though it crushed me on the inside).

She picked the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man from Ghostbusters.  He hangs with a Santa looking over him to keep him out of trouble.  I hope no one pushes the button on his side too often.  I can hear the theme song to the movie only so many times before I go crazy.  🙂

The girls decorated the tree.  They took breaks when the older one sensed that they might kill each other over pre-lighted bough territory.  After all, the carousel animal ornaments must hang on the same side of the tree.  Together.  In the same place.

*eye twitch*

Ahem.  The tree is beautiful, because my girls decorated it together.  I just put on the little ornaments at the top where neither can reach.

Speaking of the top, I have no tree topper.  I just can’t find one that I like.  My tree is topperless for the second year in a row.  I hate to even admit that my tree is topperless.  It is.  Do I want to replace the pitiful angel that used to be the topper?  Or, do I want a star?  There are too many choices out there. (Maybe I’m too picky or frugal or something.)

The rest of the ornaments are a mix from my husband’s childhood and things I’ve collected from trips we’ve taken.  There are also some antique, handmade ornaments that my grandmother used to hang on her tree.  It’s an ecclectic tree, but we think it’s beautiful.

When do you decorate for the holidays? Do you have any special decorations or traditions? 

For ROW80, I haven’t checked in for at least a week.  Sigh.  Here’s where I am:

  • I have a list of plot holes in my MG WIP.  I’m going to fill them in now.  I want to have the first draft finished by the first week of December.
  • The back garden is planted with carrots, spinach, kale, lettuce, and onion seeds. A few radish seeds are mixed with the carrots so I know where those rows are.
  • Get back into my size-smaller jeans. I miss them. I worked too hard to get into them in the first place.
  • I started my sweet potato slips. Only one piece is growing. I had to throw out the other pieces. More to come.
  • Catch up on blogging class!
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Eating Green Bean Blossoms

I completely spaced for my Tuesday post this week.  I’ll have something crazy for next week. 🙂

Last weekend was beautiful.  It was perfect for gardening.  My husband and I conscripted Daughter 1 to help clean up the summer garden beds in the backyard.  Daughter 2 cared only about whether we were going to plant the seeds.  She went inside when she got the news that the beds had to be cleaned up and prepared first.  Deserter!

Out came the eight-feet-tall okra plants.  I salvaged the last of the edibles, and Daughter 1 picked a few large ones for seeds.  The cuccuzza (Italian squash) vines were taken down from the fence they’d taken over.  I found one small squash that will be yummy in something.  The last of the green beans yielded a small handful of beans and blossoms.

What?! Eat flowers?

The blossoms are edible and wonderful.  They taste surprisingly like green beans.  The ones I picked ended up on my lunch salad the next day. Yum!

Before you start eating flowers, make sure the blossoms are edible.  This article about edible flowers by Linda Stradley at whatscookingamerica.net explains how to choose edibles.  Don’t use blossoms from a garden with pesticides.

Recently, I learned that squash blooms are also edible.  I wish I’d known that when we had squash growing this summer.  The Seasonal Chef’s squash blossom recipes are now on my list for next summer.  You can eat these without affecting a plant’s squash production. That’s not the case with green beans because the blossom is the bean eventually.

I’ve grown and eaten nasturtiums.  The leaves and flowers add a little something to a salad.  Dandelion flowers aren’t something I’ll add to a meal, even though they are abundant in my yard (LOL).

What do you think?  Would you consider eating edible blossoms?  Have you done so before?  If so, what did you eat and how did it taste?

Finally, #ROW80 update:

  • The back garden beds are ready for planting prep.   Need to turn the soil and add some compost.
  • Work out and eat better. Food does not define me.  Yep, working on this.
  • I’m a NaNoWriMo Rebel–finish the WIP and start editing. 15-20K is the goal.  Got 50 pages edited for structure and found plot holes to fill in.  I’ve written only 1 K and Daughter 1 banished all fiction reading (unless I’m reading out loud to the girls) until I finish the draft.
  • Blogging class is in full swing (WANA International).  I have a list of topics to finish for homework.  Still working on this.

Do Not Take This Call: Avoid Cyber Scams

Very recently, a very dear grandmotherly friend of mine got a phone call from someone who claimed to be Windows Tech Support.

They weren’t.

They asked her to give them access to her computer to check for viruses with a remote access tool, Team Viewer, that was very easy to install.

She did.

They explored her computer, while she watched, and told her that she had thousands of viruses on her computer.

She didn’t.

They could clean that up for her for a price.  She told them to get lost and hung up on them and closed the window to the remote session.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (click the link for more helpful tips).  How do you protect yourself (or older people who are not tech savvy) from this kind of scam?

  1. The computer companies, including Microsoft, do not like you enough to call you to check your computer for you.  They may love that you bought their software, but they will not call you.  Period.  Hang up.
  2. The sounds of a foreign-based call center and a caller with a very thick English accent on the other end of the line…. Hang up.
  3. The website they direct you to is not an official Microsoft website.  The fact that they use the word “windows” in their URL, does not make them Microsoft.  Do not download anything from their website.  Hang up.
  4. Do not, under any circumstances, give someone you don’t know or trust access to your computer.
  5. Report the call to the FTC.

While I talked to this dear friend, and got her to do a full system scan on her computer, I looked up this type of fraud on the Microsoft website, where they have some helpful tips, including this page of ways to avoid tech support phone scams.

Even people with common sense can get taken off guard by a phone call like this. Don’t be fooled.

And now for my #ROW80 Update:

  • Need to work on the back garden beds to get ready for more planting.
  • Work out and eat better.  Food does not define me.
  • Need to plan and research for a weekend of writing solitude.
  • Blogging class and logline class are in full swing.  Homework is progressing. 🙂

Veggies in the Front Yard

Autumn is here, finally.  It’s time for us to plant our winter vegetable gardens.  Right now, the backyard is a bit of a mess with a variety of peppers, cantaloupe taking its sweet time, and okra growing so tall that it can’t stand up on its own.  The Italian squash (cuccuza) has overrun a tree and the back fence, but it’s still producing.

We’ll cleanup and plant the backyard soon enough.  Now is the time we lay into our front garden beds.

The plants are still young in these pictures.

Yes,  front garden beds.  You read that correctly.

Every year we’ve spent too much money planting pansies, mums, and other cold-weather flowering plants.  By April or May in this Texas weather, the plants are done, and we have nothing to show for it.  Except a lot of now-ugly, dead plants in the front beds.

Last year, we tried something different.  We changed all the flower beds in the front into garden beds.  We planted broccoli plants (over 30), and seeded four different lettuce varieties.  My older daughter designed the lettuce plantings for the colors and shapes.  We also planted carrots, spinach, and kale seeds.

By late January, the beds were gorgeous with layers of greens.  My younger daughter couldn’t wait to pick broccoli for dinner, because she announced that she didn’t like the store-bought stuff anymore.  I can’t blame her.  My older daughter decided that kale chips are delicious and worth making often.

Our neighbors couldn’t believe how nice it looked, and we got no complaints.  Even the wild bunnies respected the gardens enough to leave the veggies alone (or the coyotes, foxes, and hawks policed them for us).

One of the side gardens with different kinds of lettuce in front of the broc.

Now, the broccoli plants are in and looking lovely, as baby broccoli plants go.  Next, we’ll plant the carrot and leafy seeds.

By late spring, when the broccoli is finished producing, I’ll let it flower into big yellow sprays.  Lovely.  And completely worth the extra work to make a garden grow.

Your turn…  Have you gardened?  Would you dare to use your front flower beds?  What kinds of veggies do you plant?

I hope you’ll go over to Rebecca Enzor’s blog and vote for my Marce pony entry for PonyFest12.  I’d love to win a custom-made pony!

ROW80 Check-In

  • Write at least 750 words every day on my middle grade WIP.
    Didn’t get done near as much as I wanted after a great beginning last week.  Got distracted by updating my laptop and installing Scrivener.
    New Goal: Write an average of at least 500 words per day while doing much-needed research for my middle grade WIP.
  • Submit and query my adult fantasy manuscript, HUNTER MOON.
    Last week, I submitted the manuscript to Harper Voyager (an imprint of HarperCollins).
    New Goal: Query agents.
  • Work out at least 4 times a week. I got 3 times in this week.  I’m shooting for 4 times a week this week.
  • Read a book.  I’m still reading We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media by Kristen Lamb.
  • Weather permitting goal:  Plant carrot, spinach, and lettuce seeds to accompany the broccoli plants.
  • Post at least 3 times a week here at Mermaids Don’t Do Windows.  Will keep this up!

A Promise is a Promise

Another title I thought of for this post was “I’ve Created a Monster.”  However, I decided that it really is about keeping a promise, no matter how small.

When my younger daughter saw the Marce and Kevvan ponies I made for PonyFest12, she wanted to make some, too.  I’d intentionally not shown her my ponies or the Pony Creator website, because I knew she would be all over it.

Part Princess Celestia, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash.

She caught me working on my last-minute brony entry and then hovered while I updated my PonyFest12 entry post.  Starting October 5, you can vote for my entry and get your friends to vote, too.  *hint, hint*   *nudge, nudge*

“What is that?” she asked.  She pointed at the Marce pony.

I told her that it was the other pony I made.

“What are you doing?” she asked.  “You made two ponies?”  Her voice said it all: “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me about this.”

I know where this was going.  She wanted that website under her control.  I told her that I was updating my blog with my new pony and she’d have to wait.

“Oh, I know what a blog is.  It’s where people put stuff and write stuff.”

This princess gets a princess tail.

Very eloquent.  I’m not sure how she knew that.

“So are you going to put mine on there, too?” she asked.

Hmmm….  “Not on this post,” I said.  She deflated before my eyes.  “How about if I make a new post for your ponies?”

That perked her up.  “Right now?”

All this was going on while I wrote a description of my Kevvan brony.  “Let me finish this post first.  Then, I’ll work on one for your ponies.  Will that work for you?”

Her version of Princess Luna in a costume.

She squeeeeeeed with joy and bounded off to play.  When I finished my update, she took over the computer for about an hour to create two very pink ponies.  I find it hilarious that she made them nearly identical after she started from a random selection both times.

She’s made a few more since, including her recreation of Princess Luna.

A promise is a promise, no matter how small or how young the child.

I hope you’ll go over to Rebecca Enzor’s blog and vote for my pony entry for PonyFest12.  Vote as often as you can so I can win a custom-made pony! 😉

What was the silliest or smallest promise a child asked you keep?  Have you made a child any promises that you found hard to keep?  Share in the comments!

Flash Mob Failure

At dark-thirty this morning, my husband started texting me.  Here’s our conversation:

The Husband: Got here early just to find AA doesn’t open until 5

The Husband: The Fun

Me: Ick
(What do you expect?  It was dark-thirty.)

The Husband: Sing I am bored, standing here with 25 of my closest friends

Me: Start a round of “Row, Row Your Boat”

The Husband: Great idea. It will be on YouTube in a few

I asked my husband when he landed safely and returned home about that promised YouTube video of his closest friends waiting for the AA counter to open and singing rounds of “Row, Row Your Boat.”  Do you know what he said?

“Yeah, right.”

I admit that I didn’t expect him to create a video and post it, but that would have been cool to see an impromptu flash mob sing rounds in front of the AA counter while they waited for their flights to be delayed the counter to open.  I am glad my husband’s flight was not on the list of 300 canceled flights and was on time.

Anyway, flash mobs are fascinating.  A request goes out into cyberspace, the routine is posted, people practice it, and then they all show up and perform at the appointed time.  There are websites devoted to events.  There was one called Coloring Book Flash Mob this summer.  I so would have done that if it had been local (and I knew about it).  Any excuse to stop what I’m doing and use crayons for five uninterrupted minutes!

Here’s one at an airport in March this year:

What do you think about flash mobs?  Have you ever participated in one?  Would you dance, sing, or color with a group of strangers and then walk away as if nothing happened?  Use the handy comments box below and let me know. 

Celebrate World Chocolate Day

Today is World Chocolate Day.  Yum!  Chocolate is so popular that it has at least four other national days and a national week.  (Can you say marketing? Who makes these things up?)

The “Love you” squares were perfect to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.

Dark chocolate is my favorite.  I’m talking about 70-85% dark chocolate.  More than that is too bitter for me.  Less than that is too sweet.

The darker the chocolate is, the more bitter it tastes.  A former co-worker used to break off a tiny piece of 90-95% dark chocolate, put it on her tongue, and then sip her black coffee.  I tried it, but it was all too dark–I’m not a black coffee drinker to begin with.  She had definitely acquired a taste for the combination.

Rather than going on a semi-sweet rant about Dark Chocolate vs. Milk Chocolate, I’d like to share with you some handmade chocolates from around the world.  It is World Chocolate Day, after all.

It all started when The Husband went to Europe on business.  He took a side trip to Brussels, Belgium, and found the famous Manneken Pis fountain (yep, little boy peeing) on Rue de l’Etuve.  At that intersection are two Belgium chocolate shops across the street from each other: Neuhaus and Leonidas. Both shops have large chocolate imitations of the fountain’s little boy taking care of business (or having a contest with each other? *eyes roll*  I only mention it because you can see them in Google Street View.  LOL).

The Husband brought home a box of Neuhaus chocolates that we shared.  We split each piece and then savored the flavors–one piece per day.  After deciding that we liked the dark chocolates best, we ordered a box of them.  The Husband admitted that he tried the Leonidas chocolates, too.  They were delicious, but he neglected to bring some home.  Grr.

The Koko Black pocket poster..so you know what you’re eating.

Then he went to Melbourne, Australia, and brought home a box of Koko Black chocolates. While the Neuhas chocolates were flavors were the expected traditional pralines, nuts, and ganaches, Koko Black added spices (cinnamon, saffron, and chillies) and created unusual liquor pairings, including a caramel made with a Western Australian microbrewery stout. We savored the selection piece by piece, too.

When I went to Boston (hey, it’s still in the world) with a few of my friends, I saw a Max Brenner shop and restuarant.  There, I picked a box of dark chocolates to bring home to  continue our tradition.

Of the three, the Neuhaus chocolates are my favorites. Since then, I’ve discovered that they have a store and a cafe in not that far away from home.  Can’t wait to go!  Maybe I’ll go today for World Chocolate Day.  Yum.

Do you love chocolate as much as I do?  Would you travel the world or the Web for chocolate or another delicacy?  How will you celebrate World Chocolate Day?