Friday, November 30, 2007


We're in awe over Amanda's performance at her recital last evening. I was amazed how well she played. In fact, I was amazed at how well all the pianists performed. They did beautifully!

Here is her actual performance:

Bartok's Rumanian Dances


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Recital Hall

I was able to find a picture of the Cecilia S. Cohen recital hall @ ESU. This picture looks like it's one of their more recent concerts. When the students perform, the only instruments that will be in the middle of the floor are two pianos

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Being there in person is far different than looking at it in a picture. It actually seems larger in the picture :)

Daughter Practicing Her Recital Pieces

It's been a few days since I've updated my blog - busy, life, etc...

Here's my daughter, who has been practicing like crazy for her recital on Thursday. She's playing three of Bartok's Rumanian folk dances

Bartok's Rumanian Dances

She still has a little perfecting to do with number three, but overall I would say she's performed wonderfully, memorizing each piece exactly as it was written.

WTG Amanda!!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Another Thanksgiving Favorite Video

I've always enjoyed the episodes of "Roseanne" for Thanksgiving. I especially like the first one, from 1989:

Being up at 5:00 am, stuffing the turkey, and dealing with family is what I've been used to until this year. What a wonderful slice of Americana!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Update on the GFCF Pumpkin Pies :(

Sad to say, the pies are not all that great. I think it was the change I made with the tapioca pearls, instead of the Minute tapioca. I've gone back, and changed the post to reflect not using them by removing their use.

Amanda said it was like eating pie with little lead balls inside. She's a big fan of pumpkin pie, so I know it had to be pretty bad.

On the upside, the stuffing was excellent. It actually tastes just like regular bread stuffing :)

Favorite Thanksgiving Movies

It's been a long tradition in my family to watch certain movies on Thanksgiving Day. One that began with my grandmother was "March of the Wooden Soldiers" with Laurel and Hardy. I've been watching for so long, I can't remember a year I didn't watch it. It's also a tradition we're passing on to Amanda. She even looks forward to the march at the end.

Another favorite that has always been tradition is "Miracle on 34th Street" from 1947. So far, I haven't been able to find more than a few minutes of the movie on youtube. I'm also grateful NBC has gone back to the b&w version, after the movie was colorized. March of the Wooden Soldiers has been colorized as well, but it seems so odd. I also have that movie on videotape from 1985. It's fun watching not just the movie, but the cheeky commercials of the mid 80's, LOL!

Oh, and for some trivia: the actor who portrayed Silas Barnaby was a mere 22 years old at the time! Talk about great make-up!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Peanuts Thanksgiving, Part Three

GFCF Recipes For Thanksgiving

This will be the second year we will be cooking gfcf. For those who don't know what that means, it's gluten free-casein free. While Amanda is now able to have some dairy in her diet, she must steer clear of all gluten. To play it safe, I decided to stick with these recipes we used last year. They are quite good, and even I can't tell the difference between regular and the alternates.

Two recipes I used are for GFCF Stuffing and GFCF Pumpkin Pie. I'll post pictures along with the recipes from the original authors.

Dan's Wheat Free & Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe (Parve) courtesy of Dan Swearingen

Corn based piecrust

Makes two 10-inch pie shells
2/3 cup margarine (Shedd's Willow Run Soybean Margerine)
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups crushed corn flakes (Nature's Path GF CF "Honey'd Corn Flakes") – a bit over one full 10.6 oz box of cereal.
Notes: I've specified brands that, to date, have proven to be okay to use. Many brands of margarine HAVE dairy products in them. Check the ingredients carefully. Almost ALL "corn flakes" have wheat in them. Nature's Path is an exception.

Crush corn flakes to a coarse to fine meal in a food processor. A blender should be able to do this too. I suppose you could just pound at it in a sturdy bowl but this may be the real excuse to buy a food processor! I use an attachment for my blender. The finer the better but you'll find you can't really turn it into a powder (but it'd be nice if you could!).

Melt margarine and pour into a large bowl. Stir in sugar. Add crushed corn flakes.

I find mixing it all up with a pastry cutter works best but almost nobody has one of these anymore. Pastry cutters were for "cutting" big blocks of butter or margarine into flour and that kind of cooking is so non-PC these days even the tools are now hard to find.

Anyway, if you don't have a pastry cutter, use a pair of butter knives and mix the melted butter/sugar thoroughly into the corn meal. Divide all but a little bit of the mix into the two pie dishes.

I then gentle the mix into a pie-shell shape using a lid from a plastic food container. You could also use the bottom of a small bowl. Start soft and then as the shape and amount are about right start really pressing it down.

If you find any thin spots, add the bit of mix you left in the bowl to cover it. Set the pie dishes aside in the refrigerator.

Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie filling

Makes two nine inch pies
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup tapioca mix (Minute tapioca works best)
1/4 cup tapioca flour (or omit and double the Tapioca Mix above)
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Ground cinnamon
1 tsp. Ground cloves
1/2 tsp. Ground ginger
4 large whole eggs
2 large egg whites
1 can (29 oz.) Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
3 cups Rice Dream rice milk (soy is OK too if you like it)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, clover, ginger, and tapioca into a small bowl.

Beat eggs in a large bowl (I use the main mixing bowl for my big mixer) and then add the canned pumpkin. Running the mixer, add the sugar/spice mix, lastly add the rice milk. Mix thoroughly.

Pour into the pie shells. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, turn down to 350 degrees (maybe open the oven door for a sec to let some heat out), turn the pies a bit if spots of the crust are burning, and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes.

The usually you say a pumpkin pie is "done" if you can stick a knife in the center and nothing sticks when you pull it out. That doesn't work with this recipe since it isn't doesn't make a pie that solid (when hot out of the oven). So, I say the pies are done if he center is not completely liquid. If you care, the pies solidify nicely when refrigerated overnight.

Here are our finished pies:
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You can see the tapioca pearls in the pies, so I hope they taste as good as they look!

Thanksgiving Stuffing (Gluten-Free) courtesy of Scott Adams,

5-6 cups cubed and dehydrated Food For Life Rice Almond Bread
2 Tbs. olive oil
3 cups chopped celery (or 1-2 Tbs. celery seed)
2 cups chopped onions
1 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. cilantro
1-2 tsp. thyme
1-2 tsp. sage
black pepper
1-2 Cups gluten-free Chicken Broth

Prepare 1 to 2 cups gluten-free chicken broth. Prepare Food For Life Rice Almond Bread as follows: Cut into ½ cubes and put in food dehydrator for 8 hours (or put on cookie sheet and in oven on the lowest temperature for about 2-3 hours - I've been able to increase the temperature to 300 degrees and dry for about one hour or so in the oven).

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Sauté chopped celery & onions in 2 TBS oil in large frying pan over medium heat until soft. Add spices & pepper as desired to taste. Pour in chicken broth & simmer over low heat for 15-20 min.

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Stir in bread until fully saturated in sauce & seasonings *note, I add the broth, onions, celery and seasonings to the pan of dried bread. It's much easier to mix*

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Place in 400°F oven for 40-50 min, covering as needed with aluminum foil, until done. If you want to cook the stuffing inside the turkey add only 1 cup of Chicken broth.

I always make this recipe the day before, just to get it done. Same with the pies above. I also figured since I'm making this for Amanda, she might as well be the one to do most of the work, LOL!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Peanuts Thanksgiving, Part Two

I like when Snoopy dishes out the "food", LOL!!

Shoes, Or Should I Call Them Bling For The Feet :)

I finally broke down and purchased organ shoes for Amanda. Yeah, I was mean, forcing her to play with bare feet. It's not easy to do, especially since she has been going through foot scales without the heel.

I spend time online at Organmaster Shoes, telling her I refuse to purchase any of the crazy colors, and that she would be getting black shoes. Well, the black shoes in her size went out of stock, don't know when they're coming back in stock, and boy was I upset! The ones they do have in stock - the Diana shoes:

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So, she got the shoes she originally wanted (the silver ones)! She's going to look at lot like Diane Bish when she plays at church, LOL!!!

Monday, November 19, 2007


I always loved holiday specials, especially the Peanuts. Since their Thanksgiving special is one of my favorites, I decided to post one segment tonight and each day until Thanksgiving.

Let It Snow!

Today, we had our first snowstorm of the winter. While it was nice to watch from the sidelines, I certainly wouldn't want to have to travel in it. My dh decided to work from home today. He really would not have made it down the mountain. Instead, he would have either slid off the road in a ditch, or hit something when the van went out of control.

The downside was power in some areas was off most of the day. Fortunately for us, it was out only for an hour this morning.

What beautiful views of the snow
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Friday, November 16, 2007

It Costs How Much????

I posted elsewhere today about my dd's playing on a Bosendorfer piano for her recital in two weeks. I had been told that these particular pianos cost $100,000 or more. Well, the one she will be playing on actually costs $150,000. Shocking, to say the least! Dd's attitude is she prefers her Wurlitzer to the Bosendorfer. I think if she knew how top of the line the instrument is she is playing on, she wouldn't make such a silly statement.

I'm having sticker shock, LOL!

This one is similar to the piano she will be performing on
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The pedals are very smooth, compared to most pianos I've seen, although the mechanism can still make that "clunk" noise when released too quickly and with a sudden jerk.

Now if only Queen of Peace could afford such a piano...........

Thursday, November 15, 2007

William Tell Overture For Moms

Even though I homeschool, and can't relate to the bus part, the rest is very funny!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cats :(

Someone ought to remind me why we have two cats. One ignores everything that passes her way, the other kills anything and everything she can get her paws on. I don't know how it got there, but apparently a mouse (I believe, not sure) died inside the wall in the bathroom. There is a small hole in the wall, probably made some time ago by this mouse. It must have gotten stuck, and starved to death. The "killer" cat has been staring at this wall for weeks now.

Overnight, she must have gotten the creature out, and decided to share with her mom (me). It was about 1:30 this morning, when the little darling decided to drop her treasure on my chest while I was sleeping. My reaction was "oh, Monica, what do you have for mommy", at which point I jumped up screaming "ew, ew, ew, ew!!!". What does my husband d? NOTHING!!!! He doesn't even roll over, just keeps on snoring away without a care in the world. I, on the other hand, am completely grossed out by this dried up creature I had in my hands not more than a few minutes before (I had hurled it across the room, and had to go hunting for Monica's shared treasure). I don't know how many paper towels I grabbed, but I think it may have been half a roll, just to pick up this poor, pathetic dried-out animal. I even lost track of the number of times I washed my hands.

Maybe we should rename this 5 pound calico "Killer"
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And to think I overreact to dead animals, yet allow bugs in my freezer *rolls eyes*

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wild Turkeys and Virtual Tour

Today, I went on some internet hunt of wild turkeys in NYC (no pun intended). My husband's boss had mentioned he knew people who were having problems with them where he lives (Staten Island). I thought there was no way wild turkeys would be living in the city. Boy, I was wrong! Doing a search, I found a website that had a picture of one in Manhattan:

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Here in PA, we take the sighting of a wild animal for granted.

The picture of the turkey is from New York City Walk

Going through this site, it is literally a virtual tour of Manhattan. There are many different views to be seen, that wouldn't be in any tour guide. I remember some of these places while I lived there, and completely forgot about. There are a few images inappropriate for the kiddies, but overall I would say the photographs are excellent.

Here's one image I found rather disturbing:
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The picture of the World Trade Center on the background with the bomb was unsettling, to say the least.

I wonder if there are any photo tours of other cities out there?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Met Another Famous Person

Last night and this morning, my daughter was the accompanist for a performance by Frank Runyeon. He has written several one-man plays, which he performs for churches across the country. Last night's was "Sermon on the Mount". Amanda played "Seek Ye The Kingdom of God". I hadn't heard that hymn in a long time, as it's never played in my parish (we did hear it when we were Lutheran).

Frank's show is a must-see! Today, he gave a talk to the kids at the confirmation retreat, about Hollywood, faith, and the real world. It made all of us look at television and movies in a way I hadn't thought about before.

He also spoke of his years as an actor, acting opposite Meg Ryan on "As the World Turns", about being typecast as either ethnic or a drug dealer (!!), about his family, how we as Catholics ought to live, etc. He was also talking about how he was literally starving himself to look thin for the camera. The man is 6'3" tall, and when he said he was down to 160 lbs while on the soaps, I was shocked.

Here's a picture of Amanda with Frank:
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She played the piano, while two girls who are identical twins sang. They were congratulated by everyone on their outstanding performance. I think they performed wonderfully!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I Have A Real, Uh, A Real....

Life! Only kidding, LOL!!! Yesterday, I didn't have enough time to update my blog. Today, I had to take dd to her piano lesson at ESU. That proves that while dd has a real life, I have none. I just live vicariously through Amanda *VBG*

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hug A Friend, Get Detention

A girl in Illinois was given detention for hugging two friends, saying goodbye for the weekend. This "offense" took place on school property

Illinois Student Gets Detention For Hugging

Does anyone else think this is nuts? From the school's policy:

"Displays of affection should not occur on the school campus at any time. It is in poor taste, reflects poor judgment, and brings discredit to the school and to the persons involved."

So hugs reflect poor judgment and bring discredit to the school, yet I can almost guarantee bullying is fine. We live in a world that is truly backwards. Shame on this district, and the superintendent!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bloggin' Mama

I took the quiz from Therese's blog, and here's what came up:

The mom blogger quiz from MamaBlogga
Take the Mom Blogger quiz!

I'm not surprised, considering I've been spending more time with my blog than before. If asked this over a month ago, my blog would have been my neglected stepchild!

Practice, Practice, Practice!!!!

I think I've been saying those words repeatedly over the past week or so. While the pieces of music Amanda must memorize are relatively short, they have these little nuances she must perfect.

Here's the musical, bug girl, practicing like crazy:
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I pray she does well. The piano being used at the recital is different from ours at home and the one her professor uses for lessons in his studio. She's just gotten used to that one. Each one has a different feel, or so I've been told.

Introducing Our Newest Family Member

We decided to get a companion for our surviving guinea pig, Arwen. It didn't take long for her to display signs of depression after the death of Pippin.

Our newest member's name is Phloxxy, and she's 8 weeks old.

Her first picture:
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I love my veggies!
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Still a little piggie:
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She's barely the size of Amanda's hand, although I think she will be a pretty big pig :) She's also the only piggie we've had who turned her nose up at carrots!

We're following the guinea pig recommendations, and quarantining (sp?) her for at least two weeks before full introduction are made. Arwen knows there's another pig in the house, just by smell and sound. She sniffs us over, after handling the little one.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Should I Be So Shocked?

As I was going through some old bookmarks, I found the following video on Steve Kellmeyer's blog

Watching this, I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or scream. I don't know where this school is located, but I can say for certain the teens in the video have similar ideas about Catholicism as teens in my local Catholic schools do. What was more stunning was when the priest in the video didn't know the answer to the question. Is this what is being taught in Catholic schools across the country? Has the curriculum been dumbed down to the point where we can no longer distinguish Catholic schools from public ones?

Should I be shocked? No, and neither should anyone else, unless they're fortunate enough to have their children attend solidly Catholic schools. They seem to be more and more rare these days.

Next time anyone asks why I homeschool, I'll point them to this video ;)

Friday, November 2, 2007

See My Slide Show!

It took me awhile, but I was able to create a nice slide show of Amanda. I'm not sure how it happened, but the original slide show had music that was impossible to remove, so I had to go back and recreate the slides all over again. Let's just say I was not happy listening to music and watching a small video on the lower left corner of the slides.

Maybe I should go back and make another one of all the bug pictures, with a version of "Flight of the Bumblebee" playing in the background, LOL!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Changes She Has Gone Through

I've been looking at the changes my daughter has gone through over the years. Even looking at her Halloween costumes over the past three years amazes me.

This year's costume, as Miss Gothic

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Last year, as a lady of the Middle Ages

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The year before, as an Egyptian "queen"

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All I can say is wow, what a difference from 2005 until now. I should keep a picture diary of her, until she graduates high school. By then her hair will probably be green streaked permanently *shock*