Happy Hobbit Day!


It’s hard to resist posting on Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday!

Since I have my French students today, I have a special treat for them: the scene of Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday party from the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. In French.

Want to hear it for yourself? Check out the video below. Have a happy Hobbit Day!


Happy Hobbit Week!

September 22 is almost here! While it might be a day like any other to most, it’s a huge celebration for us. It’s Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ birthdays! And that means a weeklong Tolkien celebration.

What that looks like depends from year to year, but there are always a few staples.

1. British food

It’s the most appropriate thing to eat. Cottage pie, scones, fish and chips, and of course some lembas. (Though when we say lembas, we mean shortbread. That must be what the Elves ate. All of that butter and sugar is a dose of energy just waiting to happen. It’s also a good excuse to use the shortbread mold with its hobbit appropriate designs.)


Scones and tea.jpg

My mom’s pumpkin scones with cinnamon glaze are amazing!


2. A movie/book marathon

What Hobbit Week is complete without some Middle-earth immersion? This year, I started with the first Hobbit movie. I don’t adore them as much as The Lord of the Rings so the The Fellowship of the Ring will likely be next, but it’s hard to resist watching Martin Freeman as Bilbo. He makes a great Bilbo.

This year, I also plan to read some of Le retour du Roi (The Return of the King) to my French students as well. When I was learning French in college, it was one of the books I found for my own immersion. Seems appropriate for the occasion.

3. Middle-earth inspired clothes

Since my love of Middle-earth goes back so long, there are plenty of t-shirts and other clothes inspired by Tolkien’s works. This year, I have a new favorite that seemed an appropriate way to start the week.



All of the Inklings reunited on one t-shirt… and Tolkien is at the top of the list.


How do you plan to celebrate?

New Adventures (in Art)

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered a new creative outlet that I had never really explored before: painting. Not just on the computer with imprecise tools but with a paintbrush on a canvas.

Okay, so I painted a faux Door of Durin (complete with Elvish script containing my own name, of course) on my bedroom door at my parents’ house, but that was the most I had ever done besides paint a wall. So when the opportunity arose to paint something with a group of friends, I figured it was worth a try. I ended up discovering that painting isn’t unattainable magic. It’s more like writing a story.

When I say it’s like writing a story, I mean that there are many elements. Certainly more than I know from one couple hour group painting lesson. But it’s a bunch of tiny things put together that create the magic. And there’s so much variety that can happen with those tiny things. It’s not that there’s no wrong way to do it, but it seems that there are many right ways to make it work.

The most mind-blowing revelation of the evening was that the entire canvas needed to be painted one color before anything else happened. In my case, we used acrylic paints and a brown base. When the instructor told us to paint over it with other colors (blacks and grays) but not completely cover it, I didn’t quite understand. However, as I painted, I realized that the brown shows through. Adds depth. I would have thought it would mess up the painting. Instead, it makes it more interesting.


One of the fun things was watching how everyone interpreted the different instructions we were given. Only one person in the group had any painting experience before this. Her strokes were pretty effortless. I fiddled until I understood how it was being done. Once I did, it was amazing to see how each of us painted the trees, shrubs, and fields so differently, yet they all looked great.


After we finished the main body of the painting, we were allowed to add our own details. Some people added flowers. Several of us added cats (because we’re crazy cat ladies). I decided to add some very apropos things into mine…


I know one pretty good painting doesn’t make me even a novice artist, but the thing I discovered through the process is that I like doing this. A lot. Maybe enough to buy some acrylic paints, brushes, and an easel to play with it on my own…

Do you paint? Have you discovered any unexpected hobbies?

15 Years of Remembering

Hard to believe it’s been 15 years. For me, almost half a lifetime ago. I still remember that day as clearly as when it happened.

Finding my brother watching Regis and Kelly when we were supposed to be starting school work. Hearing that a plane had crashed into some big building in New York. Running into my mom’s room to tell her as the second plane hit. Spending the rest of the day watching in horror, praying, wondering what would happen next. Watching President Bush read Psalm 23 to a nation in shock. Standing outside and seeing no planes overhead. At the time, we lived under the path of a busy airport. It was the first time I had looked up and not been able to find a single plane in the sky.

I remember stumbling across the silent field in Shanksville and seeing the side of the Pentagon six months later while we were on a road trip. How quiet both places were compared to how they had looked on the tv that day.

Today, I still remember. The loss, but also the heroism and courage that marked that day. In the face of evil, may we always have the courage to say, “Let’s roll.”

Fan Girl Friday: Team Thor

Ever since he first joined the Marvel cinematic universe, I’ve been a fan of Thor. (Captain America is a close second.)

I’ll be honest, before the recent batch of comic book movies, I wasn’t familiar with most of the characters. My brother and I watched the animated Batman and Spider-Man from the ’90’s, but that was the bulk of my experience with Marvel and DC until Christopher Nolan began directing Batman movies.

That means that, before the MCU, I had only ever heard of Thor. But when I finally saw him on screen, he immediately jumped up to my favorite. At least in my eyes, he wasn’t like the other superheroes. They were all normal people turned into something else through experiments or experiences. (I realize that doesn’t reflect all superheroes, but that described all of the ones I knew of to that point.) He was an explanation for the Norse god, Thor. Fantasy (and sci-fi, since he is an alien) meets another genre. Right up my alley.

So, because of that, here’s what Thor’s been up to in case you haven’t seen the video yet.

Who’s your favorite superhero? Were you into superheroes before the movies or did you join the fun later in the game too?

50 Years of Star Trek #LLAP50 #StarTrek50

Today marks 50 years since Star Trek first appeared on tv. Needless to say, it’s a day that will be heavily celebrated here. (After all, I do have the Star Trek cookbook.)

We were assimilated long ago. He grew up watching the Original Series every day on a local channel. As a kid, I watched the Next Generation with Mom, and she always said that the little point on one of my ears meant that I was part Vulcan. My husband loved it more than me until we got married. Then Star Trek became a staple of evening tv and I found a new appreciation for it. I’ve watched it all, even part of the Animated Series. Only part of that, though. The purring replacement for Uhura was just too much for me.

My favorite Star Trek memory, though, is the time that a traveling exhibit came to the area, years ago. A group of friends, some family, my husband, and I were anxious to check it out. When we got there, it didn’t disappoint.

As expected, there were original costumes to check out.


And plenty of prosthetics on mannequins.

DSCN1254 (2).JPG

But the best was standing on the sets.

DSCN1273 (Medium).JPG


If wasn’t behind glass, you were allowed to touch it. That included the Original Series bridge. You could sit in the chair and touch the panels, and people were patient enough to wait for you to snap all of the pictures you wanted before taking over the bridge themselves.

So happy 50th birthday, Star Trek! May you continue to live long and prosper.

Are you a Star Trek fan? Which series is your favorite?

The 5 Stages of (Tropical Storm) Grief

I’ve spent most of my life living in a tropical system-prone area. While Hermine is the first hurricane to darken the state’s door in over a decade, we’ve had our fair share of tropical storms over the years and plenty of hurricanes before that.

Since we have so much experience, the community here tends to talk about any tropical system lackadaisically. Before you get the wrong idea, we do actually take them seriously. We’ve witness firsthand how destructive they can be. Three hurricanes hit us over the course of two months several years ago. One of them was completely unexpected. It was headed a different direction and turned, so we only had a few hours to prepare. Board up windows, bring everything inside, fill the tubs with water, get propane, make sure the cars’ tanks were full. It wasn’t nearly enough time. Two more hurricanes followed it almost immediately. It was a rough summer.

But during that summer, the whole community banded together and we made it through. One of the best ways to deal with hard situations is to laugh, so the storm-related jokes started to roll. Jokes that we should change the state flag to a tarp. Jokes about the phrase “hunker down,” which was the weathermen’s new mantra that year. Jokes that anything less than a category 3 isn’t that bad compared to what we’d been through. Now, whenever storms come, social media and conversations are filled with jokes and memes.

As Hermine made her approach last week, people stocked up on water, food, and batteries and let the jokes roll. Since I can never resist joining in the fun while I count water bottles, here’s a satire of the way we talk about storms here.

The 5 Stages of (Tropical Storm) Grief

  1. Denial
    These weathermen are too excited. That storm’s not coming here. It’s not even a tropical wave yet.
  2. Anger
    What? The hurricane is coming over the weekend? But I wanted the day off!
  3. Bargaining
    If we get the edge of the storm, it won’t be too bad but we’ll still get the day off. Just as long as we don’t get the northeast corner of the storm again.
  4. Depression
    I’m out of white chocolate chips and the stores are mobbed. How am I going to make hurricane cookies?
  5. Acceptance
    Regular chocolate chips will do. We’ll call them tropical storm cookies instead.

Does your community have jokes about the common weather issues in your area?