Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bacon Lentil Soup

By request, here's the recipe, with comments from Doug.

(modified from The Soup Bible, edited by Deborah Mayhew, New York: Hermes House, 1999)

Bacon Lentil Soup

Bacon (1 pound), sliced into 1 inch lengths. (Pepper Bacon is good for this)
1 medium or large onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced into rounds (I usually use more like six, and just chunk them)
1 large potato, roughly chopped (or more as desired)
(other vegetables: fresh string beans, parsnip cut as carrot or Trader Joe's Fire Roasted Sweet Corn)
1 cup lentils, sorted and washed (we usually use red lentils--they cook faster)

(Edit: We've discovered that we really like this soup with a leek in it, in which case we leave out the onion.)

Heat a soup pot, add the bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp.
Add onions, stir thoroughly. Cook until onions begin browning.
Add hard vegetables (corn, carrot, parsnip), stir thoroughly. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add softer vegetables (potato), cook for 5 minutes.
Add lentils. Add enough water to cover all ingredients (about 5-6 cups) and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender and lentils are mushy.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with bread!

We like to remove the bacon from the pot after it's cooked, then add it back to the soup at the very end. That keeps it from getting too mushy. The vegetables still pick up a nice flavor from being cooked in the bacon fat.

I've also made it with black beans instead of lentils.  Also yummy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Li'l Punkin

Doug got this little pumpkin/gourd thing for Kate a few days ago, and I drew a face on it with a Sharpie marker. Kate loves her little pumpkin. She went to sleep holding it the first night. She's got a thing for pumpkins right now. We've been playing scribblevision on Noggin and putting pumpkin heads on everything.

Yesterday we went out to Scholz Farm (Doug didn't have his classes at Green River, so we had a few hours free in the morning). Kate got off to a bad start when she tried to feed the chickens, stuck her hand through the fence, and got pecked. And then did it again. Poor kid. I was hoping to get some good pumpkin patch pictures, but it was really sunny (bad shadows) and Kate was a bit overwhelmed. We did pick up these two little Indian corn ears. (What are we calling Indian corn these days? Native American corn? Decorative holiday corn?) She was very impressed by the corn and was waving them around and talking to them, and held them all the way home.

Once we got home, we hit a snag that neither of us had anticipated. She didn't want to just hold the corn, she wanted to eat it. Kate knows what corn is, and she likes it. We got inside, I took her coat off, and right away she held up the corn and said, "Want to eat it, Mama!" I had to tell her that it wasn't eating corn, but she kept poking at the ears and saying, "Open it, Mama!" We did have some soup with corn in it for lunch, so that helped satisfy her. Doug had made this soup the day before--it's a bacon lentil soup with veggies in it, and he added some of the frozen fire-roasted corn from Trader Joe's (this stuff is so good). Kate mostly just picks the corn out and eats it. The soup also has carrots in it, which she normally likes, but boy, when there's corn around, that's all she wants.

It was such a beautiful day yesterday! We were outside briefly without jackets on (and then I decided that if we were going to stay out for a while I should get Kate's denim jacket for her). We painted letters on the porch and threw leaves in the air, and poked at puddles in the parking lot. Here's a picture of Doug putting Kate's shoes on in the doorway.

My camera is off at a local shop getting cleaned. When I called they said there would be a 24-hour turn around time, but then when Doug dropped it off for me they said 48 hours. So I am now camera-less.

Kate saw me working on these photos and wanted to color. Here's her contribution:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Don't let the pigeon etch-a-sketch

I was looking at Mo Willems's blog this morning and saw these cute pigeon drawings sent in by kids, and I was inspired to dig up this picture from a few months ago. Kate was asking me to draw things for her on this little mini etch-a-sketch, and she wanted a picture of the pigeon (which was not easy, let me tell you). I've seen pictures of amazing etch-a-sketch drawings. It's such an ephemeral art form. What if you want to save your creation?

Finding Shin Tae Ho

Over a year ago, I posted about how I'd been trying to track down Shin Tae Ho, a friend from Korea. A few weeks ago I tried another google image search and found him at yet another site (an online English institute). I emailed the webmaster but got nothing back, so then I emailed Eva, who's teaching in Suwon (for just a little longer), and her friend Tae Hun called the institute for me and, with a little persistence, got Shin Tae Ho's email address. So I wrote, and, amazingly, he wrote back! He's got two kids now, a boy and a girl, and he said he'll make a blog sometime and post pictures of them. He also said that he tells his students about me. This makes me wonder if he still has that list of things that Derek (the other guy from BYU) and I said at the office, while working on that internship. We didn't know he was doing this at first, but he would write down just random things that we said--usually single sentences with no context--as examples of "everyday English." It was absolutely hilarious to read through.

Isn't the internet wonderful?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Itty-bitty birdie feet

I'm the spotlight designer of the month at NDISB, which means I've got an interview in this month's newsletter (that was fun to do). And I made this little mini-kit for a freebie, also in the newsletter.  I made the birds' feet and beaks out of Sculpey, and the button. (The feet probably should have been a little thicker, but they worked out okay.) I must do more with Sculpey in the future. It's just fun to play with.

I also finished up this shoelace template yesterday. A few people asked me if I could make a "boy" version of my ribbon lace-up. I was looking for a nice heavy twine, and couldn't find any, but then I discovered this old grubby shoelace and thought it was perfect. It's not very long, though, and wouldn't work for a full-page template, so I made a photo wrap to go with it. I'm still planning something with twine.

Since starting this digital design thing, I've sure gotten to play with lots of different stuff: ribbons, paper, paint, clay, beads, felt, embroidery floss... and potatoes. Mustn't forget the potatoes.

(Update: Since NDISB has closed, the shoelace template is now available here.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Magic Lighting

When we got home from church today, we stayed outside for a while and got some pictures of Kate in this cute little dress that her Aunt Barb made. (She didn't make it for Kate, but we are using it while it fits.) She looked so pretty.

Normally I tend to go for the overcast days for picture taking, to avoid the harsh shadows. Boy, did I get lucky with these or what? I don't know if I'll ever be able to reproduce the effect!

Book signing with Brandon

Friday we went up to the University of Washington bookstore again to see Brandon Sanderson and Dave Wolverton, who are doing a book signing tour together. Brandon is a friend of my brother Peter's. He's apparently one of those disgusting people who make aspiring writers green with envy, able to write thousands of words in a sitting. He's been writing unpublished fantasy novels for years, during which time Peter has been a frequent alpha reader and sometime editorial consultant, and he made the break into print a couple of years ago with Elantris. Brandon's particular gift is for long, complex fantasy novels with very detailed and original magic systems. He's also just come out with a YA book called Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians, which he describes as "a cross between Lemony Snicket and The Da Vinci Code." I bought a copy and got Brandon to sign it. I'm about halfway through now and enjoying it. It's quite goofy.

Brandon is currently in the middle of a trilogy called Mistborn which I have also been enjoying, though the second book ended with a most dreadful cliffhanger and now we have to wait a year to find out what happens. (Aaaagggghhhh!) Brandon has included Peter in the acknowledgments of all his books, and the first Mistborn book mentions a place called Ahlstrom square. In the second book he thanks "the incalculable Peter Ahlstrom." We spent a while trying to figure out if incalculable was a good thing. I told Peter he should make a T-shirt with "Incalculable" on it. He did, and wore it to a recent book signing in their area. Brandon told me he's going to have to make a point of coming up with unusual adjectives for Peter now. Ha. (Alcatraz also has an internal nod to Peter, in the form of a misspelled Pterodactyl.)

Brandon and Peter met on the staff of The Leading Edge magazine at BYU. This is also where Peter met his wife, Karen. Our friend Fen says that between The Leading Edge and Quark, the science fiction club, they have more inter-club marriages than any other organization at BYU. In fact Doug and I were also both on staff, but not at the same time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Doodling Pumpkins

Corel Painter is a very cool program. It is so awesomely cool and has so many different brushes and controls that it takes a long time to try them all out and find out what they do. Just choosing a brush to use can be a daunting task. Do I want acrylic? Watercolor? Oils? Airbrush? There are some books by Cher Threinen-Pendarvis that I'd like to get, but in the meantime I'm playing around and trying different things, and figuring out what I like. Here I was doodling pumpkins in various different mediums (media?).

I should do one of these with banjos, and then I could call it "Doodling Banjos." That would be funny. Ha.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Peepholes, hailstones, and the great sucking vortex

We've enjoyed getting to know the other kids in the complex. We spent many hours this summer playing on the grass, or having kids in and out of our apartment. We haven't seen much of them lately, though, since school started back up, and the weather's been kind of yucky. Today they were out playing, and Kate tagged along. She's quite a bit younger, but they treat her well, and she likes being around them.

There are so many interesting things to do outside in the fall!

We were playing peekaboo through this knothole, which kept Kate amused for quite a while. We'd peek through at each other and say, "I see you!" and then she'd say, "Let's do other side!" so we'd switch sides and do it again. And again. And again.

I was just thinking it'd been a while since I got some really good pictures of Kate. Aren't these just too cute?

We went inside when it started raining. It was just a sprinkle at first, but a few minutes later the heavens opened and dumped buckets upon us. It was a regular torrential downpour. Then as Kate and I were standing at the back door watching the rain, I noticed that come of the raindrops were bouncing on the porch. I opened the door and picked up a few hailstones for Kate, and told her they were "little pieces of ice that fall from the sky." She was very impressed and went to show them to Daddy. And then they melted.

After the rain cleared up, I looked out and noticed that there was quite a lot of standing water in the parking lot. It looked like the drain was clogged with leaves. So I got my boots and our back-door stick, and waded out into the puddle to clear the drain. (I figured it would be fun, and Doug could take cool pictures.)

The puddle turned out to be a bit deeper than it looked.

"My socks are getting wet!"

After a few ineffectual swipes at the grate, I managed to clear some leaves away, and water began to spiral down with an impressively loud sucking sound.

Oleg, coming home from piano practice, expressed the opinion that it would have been much cooler to leave the water there.

The last of the water swirled away, with a sound like King Kong finishing off the world's largest slurpee.

While Daddy took pictures from the back door, somebody got out and got her socks wet and made little footyprints all over the porch.

We both had to change our socks.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What we have here is a failure to communicate

I'm often impressed by Kate's resourcefulness in getting her point across. There are still times, though, when her clueless parents just can't figure it out.

The other night we were watching The Incredibles after dinner --that is to say, Doug and I had finished eating and left the table, and Kate was still sitting in her high chair playing with her food. (She does that a lot. An oft-repeated question at our house is, "Are you eating that applesauce, or just playing in it?") As she sat there making snake noises and slithering her spaghetti noodles around on her tray, she looked up and pointed, and said, "Want the sheep? The white sheep?" The only sheep I could think of was the little wooden one that came with her train, so I found that and held it up. "Did you want this?" I asked. She shook her head "No!" then looked thoughtful for a moment, and said, "The dancing sheep?" "Ah!" I said, as the light dawned, "You want to watch Boundin'?" I was impressed that she remembered that Boundin' went with The Incredibles. (We hadn't watched either recently.)

That time I was able to figure out what she wanted fairly quickly. Other times I'm not so lucky. Recently Kate was asking for "the bouncing ball on the computer," and I just could not for the life of me figure out what she was talking about. I even called Doug at school (between classes) and he couldn't figure it out either. So Kate was, perforce, bouncing-ball-less. Then, several days later, she was on my lap while I was shutting down the computer, and when I got down to the desktop she suddenly lunged toward the screen, pointed at an icon and cried, "It's the bouncing ball!" Oh, that's the bouncing ball. It's this game called DXBall. So she played that for a few minutes. She can't really do it, but hey, she's having a good time. She also recently asked for "Big Ideas" which we eventually discovered was The Three Caballeros (and not, as we at first thought, perhaps something to do with Veggie Tales). I don't know where she got that from. Big Ideas. Three Caballeros. Nope, I'm just not seeing it.

Doug pointed out today that Kate is saying "carrots" now and not "darrots." Alas, for the fleeting ways of babyhood.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


I've been figuring out how to do all sorts of cool things to my blog. Let me know what you think! Is the border too much?

Friday, October 05, 2007


Kate and I haven't been getting out much. Doug's gone for a good chunk of the day with the car, and the weather hasn't been great. And I've been pretty busy, working on designing stuff. So the days run together, and then I suddenly realize that I haven't been outside in days. And Kate was sick over the weekend (she threw up on me on Saturday. That was exciting). When she finally felt better, it was raining. She stood at the back door, patting on the glass and saying, "It's raining outside! Get the umbrella, Mama!" I told her I didn't want her playing in the rain when it was this chilly, especially not when she was just getting over being sick, but I said we could go out and paint the porch as long as she stayed under the roof. I bundled her up in her pink coat with the hood--the first coat-wearing of the season--and she had a great time poking at puddles with her paintbrush.

I get caught up in projects, and then I have to stop and think about how much time I'm spending on them and how important they really are. Things like meal planning have not been happening quite the way they should, of late. I need to do something about that.

Doug gets home a little earlier on Fridays, so today we decided to go to the zoo. We didn't realize that they had started their winter hours and closed at 4:00. We got there at 3:30. I think we will be making our zoo visits on Saturdays this quarter.

I had another reading dream recently, and this one didn't make any sense either. In this dream I was looking at a map. There was a town on the map called "Penmanship," and another one called "Taco Bell." My brain supplied an instant back story about the area having been originally settled by teachers and fast food franchise owners. Wacky.

Monday, October 01, 2007

돌 -- Korean first birthday kit

I've been working on this kit for a few weeks, and finally finished. It's uploading to NDISB as we speak. (Which is going to take a while--the kit just kept getting bigger and bigger, and topped 100MB. I had to break it into three zip files.) I've been kicking around this idea for quite a while now, and was really pleased with the way it turned out, especially the "tancheong" style borders and elements. That was fun. I ended up making three separate previews, just because there was so much there, and because there are a few different styles in the kit.

Tol (also spelled Dol) is the Korean first birthday event, which includes the tradition of placing the child in front of a table with various items on it to see which one they pick. (That's what we did for Kate's birthday, even though she's not Korean.)

While I was at it, I also made some blog banners for Eva. I've been enjoying reading blogs of people in Korea lately (and Kimberly in China). Though it aggravates my travel bug, which may not be a good thing. Alas!

Update:  Since NDISB has closed, this kit is now available here.