Reflection.  That’s this week’s Photo Hunt theme.  I have chosen two pictures taken by my husband, Mr. Dragyn, this past summer, as he was driving up to meet us in Lutsen, MN.  He stopped in Duluth, and took these beautiful pictures of the moon shining on Lake Superior, with the city lights twinkling merrily.  He says that these pictures don’t show reflections.  I say they do and that they’re lovely.  What do you think?

To find more reflection this week, check out other Photo Hunts at TNChick‘s page!

We’ve lived in our current Lair for 10 years now.  It’s in a rather bucolic setting, with lots of trees, grass, and land around the house.  In fact, that’s one of the things we fell in love with when we bought this place – the maturity of the land surrounding the house.

Something that we didn’t take into consideration when we bought this place was Ma Nature and how we’d be sharing our space with her . . . largess.  By that, I mean her critters, large and small.  Some of the critters we have here are beautiful.  We actually had a red-tail hawk come and hang out on our deck for a while (they have a nest just off of our deck) and we’ve seen eagles flying overhead.  The deer are lovely to watch and the rabbits are cute.  I can sometimes do without the squirrels, but only when they tear up my sliding glass door screen and pee all over the deck.  I love the albino squirrels that have taken up residing in our trees!  There’s just something so cool about them!

The critters that we share space with that I honestly can say I loath are mice.  I hate ‘em!!  For some reason, the very sight of them reduces me to hysterics worthy of a child.  In fact, I wrote another blog post about that very subject earlier this year.

Unfortunately, as the weather becomes colder, those mice try to find a better place to inhabit instead of the great outdoors.  They, in their bid for warmth and food, have chosen my house, something that I simply cannot tolerate!  The latest infestation of mice was noticed this past Saturday, when Mr. Dragyn and SOC #1 were going through the drawers of our kitchen, looking for serving utensils.  There were mouse droppings IN THE DRAWER!!  Big Ewwwww!!!

We took out all the utensils, washed and sanitized them, and put them in other containers so they wouldn’t get icky. I used Clorax Wipes to clean the drawers.  Then Mr. Dragyn had a brilliant idea:  Why not put the trap inside the drawer and see if we catch anything?  Fine. Just be sure to put up a sign so that the other SOCs know not to open the drawer and get tangled up in the trap.

That was Saturday night.  We woke up Sunday to find that the trap did its job.  Mr. Dragyn disposed of the body, while I stayed wa-a-ay the hell away on the other side of the house.  He reset the trap that night.

Monday dawned, with another rodent in the trap.  This one, however, seemed to have been . . . cannibalized.  Yup.  Seems it’s mice-y bretheran decided to snack upon its flesh.  DOUBLE EWWWWWW!!!!!!  Mr. Dragyn disposed of that mess, reset the trap and put it back into the drawer.

Tuesday dawned with yet another mouse in the trap!  Dammit, this is getting old!  Once more, Mr. Dragyn disposed of the mousy remains, reset the trap and put it back in the drawer.  Then, he packed to go out of town for a conference.  **SOB**

Last night, I thought I heard a scrabbling in the kitchen and what sounded like the trap being sprung.  Being a big ol’ ‘fraidy cat when it comes to all things mouse-related, I refused to look.  Instead, I tried to sleep and had nightmares about it all night.

That brings us to this morning.  Wednesday morning.  I still couldn’t bring myself to look in the drawer.  I asked SOC #1 to do so before she left for school this morning.  Sure enough, there was yet another mouse in the trap!  CRAP!!  With Mr. Dragyn out of town, what in the hell am I going to do to get rid of the mouse??

After dropping #1 off at school, I called my friend and told her about the situation:  Mouse in the trap, in the kitchen, and Mr. Dragyn out of town.  She laughed at me, saying, “Didn’t you go through this in the spring?”  Um, yeah, but that was then, this is now!!  What am I gonna do?? “Why don’t you call your friend down the street to see if she can’t take care of it for you?  Or ask her husband to do it!”  Tempting. . . but since they’re going through a divorce, I seriously doubt either one would be interested in my dilemma.   At this point, I’m hysterical as I’m talking to my friend, saying things like, “I will gladly sell my body to get someone out to my house to take care of this rodent problem!”  And the sad thing?  I really would have!!  I am seriously afraid of mice, even dead ones!

She calmed me down and made me see reason.  Finally, she asked the perfect question:  “Isn’t there some pest company you can call to help you?”  That triggered my memory.  We do have a pest management company!  Environmental Pest Management!  I quickly get off the phone, give my 3 SOCs something to eat (all the while, trying to ignore what I knew was in that drawer), and called them.

The lady who answered the phone was wonderful.  She didn’t laugh at me as I explained the situation (dead mouse in drawer, husband out of town, and I cannot bring myself to remove it).  She contacted a technician, who in turn contacted me.  He was at my house within 40 minutes and removed the mousy remains.

Since we’d had so many mice in such a short period of time (for those of you keeping track, that was 4 mice in as many days), the technician suggested that he put out mice bait traps.  These are little things that look like black triangles with poisoned bait inside.  The mouse eats it, brings some of it back to the nest and poisons the rest of the colony.  Perfect!  He also said that they’d be back in a month and that if we got another mouse in the trap, to call him and he’d be back tomorrow!  SCORE!!

Life here in the Dragyn’s Lair is definitely interesting.  Yes, even with rodent infestations.  But knowing that I can take care of this with a simple phone call has given me a piece of mind like you wouldn’t believe.  And I didn’t have to sell my body to get it!

In August 2008, my Servants of Chaos (SOCs), I mean, children and I vacationed with my parents up in Lutsen, MN.  One of the things I remember so clearly about our time up there was how clear the colors seemed!  Perhaps it was the crisp mountain air.  Or just being away from the city.  Or just being on vacation!  Whatever the reason, I just remember how blue the water (for both Lake Superior and a lake up in the Gunflint Range) was up there.

Here are my offerings for this week’s Photo Hunt, all from our vacation.  Enjoy!

Lake in the Gunflint Range

Lake in the Gunflint Range

Oldest SOC on Basalt Rocks off of Artists Point

Oldest SOC on Basalt Rocks off of Artist's Point

Black Schooner on Lake Superior

Black Schooner on Lake Superior

To find more Photo Hunters, check out the tnchick’s blog.

I got this quiz from Eternal Sunshine’s blog and thought it would be fun to post. Enjoy!

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz…

You Are a Marilyn!

mm.marilyn_.jpg

You are a Marilyn — “I am affectionate and skeptical.”

Marilyns are responsible, trustworthy, and value loyalty to family, friends, groups, and causes. Their personalities range broadly from reserved and timid to outspoken and confrontative.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Be direct and clear
  • * Listen to me carefully
  • * Don’t judge me for my anxiety
  • * Work things through with me
  • * Reassure me that everything is OK between us
  • * Laugh and make jokes with me
  • * Gently push me toward new experiences
  • * Try not to overreact to my overreacting.

What I Like About Being a Marilyn

  • * being committed and faithful to family and friends
  • * being responsible and hardworking
  • * being compassionate toward others
  • * having intellect and wit
  • * being a nonconformist
  • * confronting danger bravely
  • * being direct and assertive

What’s Hard About Being a Marilyn

  • * the constant push and pull involved in trying to make up my mind
  • * procrastinating because of fear of failure; having little confidence in myself
  • * fearing being abandoned or taken advantage of
  • * exhausting myself by worrying and scanning for danger
  • * wishing I had a rule book at work so I could do everything right
  • * being too critical of myself when I haven’t lived up to my expectations

Marilyns as Children Often

  • * are friendly, likable, and dependable, and/or sarcastic, bossy, and stubborn
  • * are anxious and hypervigilant; anticipate danger
  • * form a team of “us against them” with a best friend or parent
  • * look to groups or authorities to protect them and/or question authority and rebel
  • * are neglected or abused, come from unpredictable or alcoholic families, and/or take on the fearfulness of an overly anxious parent

Marilyns as Parents

  • * are often loving, nurturing, and have a strong sense of duty
  • * are sometimes reluctant to give their children independence
  • * worry more than most that their children will get hurt
  • * sometimes have trouble saying no and setting boundaries

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy

After receiving the email about this week’s Photo Hunt theme from TNChick – SCARY – I had to tell myself to breathe.  I am not all that scared by many things.  But the things that do scare me, holy cow!  I will run screaming from a room that has any of them!  And this action was evident the other day when our cat, Eris, brought forth one of the scariest things the other day. . . a MOUSE!  Eeeekkkk!!  It caused the 3 younger SOCs and I to run screaming from the living room, while Mr. Dragyn and SOC #1 dealt with the cat unwilling to let go of her prize.

These pictures are from earlier this year, when Eris brought out another mouse (check out my blog post about it here), but I am especially proud of them because I took them despite them being scared.  Please note the blurriness of the last 2 pictures.  Yeah.  I was shaking that much!

Eris and Mouse

Eris and Mouse

Dead Mouse -- Eeeekkkk!

Dead Mouse -- Eeeekkkk!

Eris playing with Mouse

Eris playing with Mouse

Ever since I first got the email alerting me what this week’s theme for the Photo Hunt was going to be (FAMILY), I’ve been going through photos from various stages of my life, trying to find the perfect picture that exemplifies what family means to me.  There are tons of pictures from my childhood, showing pictures of me and my parents, siblings, and grandparents.  Then there are the pictures of me and Mr. Dragyn, dating.  Our wedding.  The births of our SOCs.  Pictures of our family as it is now. Pictures with friends so close, they feel like family!  So many decisions!

Finally, I decided that I would do 2 pictures.  One of the 4 SOCs after the 4th was born in 2005:

And a more recent picture of them:

I hope that you enjoy this week’s Photo Hunt theme of FAMILY by yours truly.  Please go to TNChick’s page for more participants in this week’s Photo Hunt!

This recipe is one that I found in the New BEST Recipe Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen and the editors of Cook’s Illustrated. It’s amazing!

I used a Sweet Marsala Fine from Italy, but you can use whatever Marsala you can find. Just remember, the sauce is only as good as the wine you put into it. I served spaghetti noodles with this dish.  Once again, I barely put this on the table before the family ate it all gone, so no pictures from me, I’m afraid.  But this is a fair approximation of what it looked like:

Also, you might be worried that the chicken isn’t cooked all the way through, but remember, it spends about 15 minutes in the oven as you make the sauce, which finishes whatever cooking you started on the stove top.

Chicken Marsala

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5 to 6 oz each), trimmed of fat
1 Cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Salt and black pepper
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
2 ½ ounces pancetta, cut into 1 by 1/8 inch pieces
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 ½ Cups sweet Marsala
1 ½ Tablespoons juice from 1 large lemon
4 Tablespoons ( ½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

How To:

1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position, place a large heatproof dinner plate on the rack and heat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Pat the chicken breasts dry. Place the flour in a shallow baking dish or pie plate. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper to tastes. Working with one cutlet at a time, coat both sides with flour. Lift the breast from the tapered end and shake to remove excess flour; set aside.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place the floured cutlets in a single layer in the skillet and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, turn the cutlets and cook on the second side until golden brown and the meat feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to the heated plate and return the plate to the oven.

4. Return skillet to medium-low heat and add the pancetta. Sauté, stirring occasionally and scraping the pan bottom with a wooden spoon to loosened brown bits, until the pancetta is browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain.

5. Add the mushrooms to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Sauté, stirring occasionally and scraping the pan bottom, until the liquid released by the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and cooked pancetta and cook, stirring constantly, until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute. Off the heat, add the Marsala. Return the pan to high heat and simmer vigorously, scraping the browned bits from the pan bottom, until the sauce is slightly syrupy and reduced to about 1 ¼ cups, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, add the lemon juice and any accumulated juice from the chicken. Whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

To participate in other Mouthwatering Monday recipes, check out Rachel’s site, From the Land of Monkey’s and Princesses: A Southern Fairytale!

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Kids grow up too quickly.  I don’t just mean by societal standards or anything.  I mean physically!  Look at my kids.  The oldest is 13 going on 21. The time from when she was an infant to teen seemed to fly. Next year she starts high school. My baby! In high school! I know this the natural order but this has caught me almost unaware. She really is a great girl, but has entered the teen years with a vengeance! Where has my baby gone? I look at this tall child before me and catch glimpses of that baby, but more and more, I see the woman she’s becoming.

The middle two are 8 & 6, almost 7. Both are in elementary school and, once again I can remember them as babies. Like their older sister, I see glimpses of the babies they once were but more and more, I see them growing daily. While I rejoice in watching them grow, it also makes me wonder were the time has gone.

My youngest is 3, almost 4, years old. Her independence is almost terrifying to watch, as she tries to do everything her older sisters do. At the same time, she is most definitely my baby, something I’m loath to give up. I know that I must, but its yet another measurement of time marching on.

The truth is that I love the fact that my 4 girls are growing as they are. I am tremendously proud of all of them, both as individuals and as sisters. I wouldn’t trade any one of them for any one or thing. I just want to enjoy the years that I have as their mother. They are wonderful children. And I am so glad to be their mother.

We have a serious problem here in the Dragyn’s Lair.  We have people who are unwilling to share their things.  This becomes a problem when there’s screaming involved.

If you aren’t familiar with the Toddler’s Credo, here’s a copy:

The Toddler’s Credo

If it’s mine it’s mine,
If it’s yours it’s mine,
If I like it is mine,
If I can take it from you it is mine,
If I am playing with something ALL of the pieces are mine,
If I think it is mine it is,
If I saw it first it’s mine,
If I had it then put it down it is still mine,
If you had it then you put it down it is now mine,
If it looks like the one I have at home it is mine,
If it is broken it is yours.

This particular credo is alive and well in the Dragyn’s Lair, what with 4 SOCs of various ages.  Today, however, it wasn’t the SOCs who had problems sharing.  No, it was me, their mother.

Mr. Dragyn was looking at my iPod Touch this morning, when he noticed a little black tab-like button on the back.

His next words sent my heart into fibrillations.  “I wonder if I can pull this off.”  Images of the broken fan my brother took apart when we were children flickered through my mind.  As he started picking at it with his fingernails, I started laughing, almost manically.  Hysterically, even.  “Why are you laughing?”   Um, because if I didn’t laugh, I’d start screaming.  You’re talking about taking apart my iPod! He then started reaching for the eyeglass repair kit in his bedside table drawer.  I swear, my heart almost exploded and I couldn’t hold it back any more.  I screamed!  A horror-movie, slasher’s-about-to-get-me scream!

“What the hell was that about?”

<giggle>  You were about to try and take apart my iPod.  Don’t do that!

“I’d put it back together.”

But. . . it’s MINE!

By this point, we were both laughing.  More importantly, he put my iPod down.  But, yeah, Dude, if you want to take apart anyone’s iPod, it’ll have to be yours.  Because this one’s MINE. . . and I ain’t sharing!

Since many of my friends have such wonderful recipes on their blogs, I thought I’d share one of my family’s favorites, Guacamole Chicken Tostadas.  This was a recipe that I picked up from the grocery store (Cub Foods) and we’ve since morphed it into something for our family.

Ingredients

1 Rotisserie chicken from grocery store
4 small avocadoes
1 or 2 limes, juiced
4 medium sized tomatoes, small diced (about 3 cups)
3 or 4 green onions, chopped, with whites sliced thinly
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 bag shredded lettuce
2 cups of shredded Mexican cheese
Salsa
Sour cream
Tostadas (6 inch diameter, strong, flat corn tortillas that are crispy)

Step 1: The Chicken.  Pull and shred the meat from the Rotisserie chicken (I pull off the skin too, saving it for the kids and me to eat as dinner’s being made).  Be certain to put this in a large bowl.  Once all the chicken has been de-boned and shredded, add 4 tablespoons of diced tomatoes, scant quarter cup of the chopped onions, the drained black beans, quarter cup of the chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well and cover with cling wrap.  Microwave for 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Step 2:  The Guacamole.  Cut the avocadoes in half and carefully remove the seed (we use the ol’ whack it with a knife and carefully twist it out method).  Spoon “meat” of the avocado out into a bowl and repeat with remaining avocado.  Mash up the avocado, mixing in a couple of tablespoons of lime juice (mix this in slowly and taste frequently so as not to mix in to much lime juice), and salt and pepper to taste.  Add 3 tablespoons diced tomatoes, 3 tablespoons onion.  Mix well.  Sprinkle on a bit of the cilantro for appearance.

Step 3:  The Assembly (at the table).  Start off with a tostada on your plate.  Add a tablespoon of the guacamole mixture on to the tostada, spreading to the edges.  On that, add a couple tablespoons of the chicken mixture, also spreading it out.  From there, dress as you would tacos, adding lettuce, tomato, cheese, cilantro, sour cream, and salsa as you like.  Carefully pick up and enjoy!

Disclaimer:  This is not a neat meal.  Expect messes.  It’s part of the fun!

This is totally *not* my picture, but it gives you an idea of what the finished product looks like.

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