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Juice Pops

The Hubs’ Starbucks bill has been creeping up lately. When I asked him what on earth he’d been drinking, he informed me that minion #3 requires a cake pop every time he goes through the drive through. One of her aunties got her started on the cake pops 🙂 and now they are a thing she MUST have.

Another type of lollypop, or “sucker” as we call them in my neck of the woods, has recently become popular at out house, thanks to Santa Claus. He left silicone ice ball trays in the kids’ stockings, and when I saw them, I instantly had an idea.

Rather than explain, I’ll let pictures do the talking.

These little orbs of sweet, juicy goodness are a hit with all three of my kids. Not only do the pops slow down my kids’ juice consumption, they are also fun and much healthier than suckers. Who woulda thought ice trays would be such a good Christmas gift? Well, Santa, that’s who! He’s been at it for generations, he knows just how to make the kids smile.

Turns out, Amazon knows how to make kids smile too, because they sell ice ball trays. A little more expensive than I imagined they’d be, but worth it to hear your two-year-old say “Mommy, I wah ju pop” a few dozen times a day!

What more is there to say, but “Awwwwwwwww…” She’s pretty cute, isn’t she? I’d make a few dozen juice pops for her any day.


Who Is Pretty Odd?

My name is Jessica E. Thomas. I live in the tension between Pretty and Odd.

I am:

  • A girl who grew up on Star Trek and Carl Sagan, who started wearing glasses at the age of nine.
  • A woman who had severe postpartum depression after her first child, but went on to fight for two more children to create a family of five.
  • A foodie seeking a healthy lifestyle of whole foods and exercise, who has also been know to backslide.
  • An author who can’t decide between romance and scifi, and so she writes both.
  • A student who earned a Bachelor’s in English but prefers to live on an IT wage instead.
  • A programmer who occasionally dreams of database tables and POJOs and stacktraces and java code.
  • An entrepreneur and co-owner of Common Oddities LLC, and Editor of The Common Oddities Speculative Fiction Sideshow.
  • A sinner saved by grace who has been made new by Jesus Christ, and who is devoted to living by faith and not by sight.

This is my internet home. Feel free to sit back and stay awhile. Everyone is welcome here! If you feel inclined, drop me a note and say ‘Hi’! 🙂

Photo credit: John Hain


Let’s Get This Garden Started!

Progress on the garden hasn’t been as quick as I’d like it to be, but no worries, we had frost warnings a little over a week ago. Since Spring has been dilly-dallying, I haven’t really lost that much time.

We did get the corn planted today, finally, and in a couple weeks, it will be time to plant the beans.

Gardening is surprisingly strenuous, with all the squatting and crouching. This is good. Any calorie I burn is a bonus.

The boys helped me plant a few seeds and then they decided the big pile of dirt was more fun. Can’t say I blame them. Although, that’s some expensive dirt, I must say.

Check out our new garden (and my son’s dirty feet) in the blog below:

The Walking Challenge

The walking continues. Lots and lots of walking, up to 4-5 miles a day. On the weekends my step count goes down considerably, but I did discover that when I’m cleaning around the house, folding laundry, doing dishes, etc. I log about a mile, just in the house. Those step counts aren’t going toward my weekly total because I don’t wear my phone during those times. Oh well. That’s what I get for being too cheap to buy a FitBit. And I’m still burning calories. Even if my waistline begs to differ.

With all the time on the road, I continue to enjoy the local scenery.

Here are a few pics from my adventures!

In case of apocalypse, local water source within a half mile from house. Mmm. Brown.

In case of apocalypse, the local water source is a half mile from house. Mmm. Brown.

The fields are too wet to plant. On the upside: they get to rest for a bit and show off their hidden treasures.

The fields are too wet to plant. On the upside: they get to rest for a bit and show off their hidden treasures.

More yellow.

More yellow.

This stretch of road is becoming very familiar.

This stretch of road is becoming very familiar.

We have some new arrivals in our snowball bush. Cute!

We have some new arrivals in our snowball bush. Cute!

Spring is winding down. I hope yours has been enjoyable.

I can’t wait to see what summer will bring! (Hopefully lots of fresh veggies!)

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Novels novels everywhere and not a minute to write…

The Blog Everyday in May thing didn’t last long. I got bored of it real quick. (Or if we’re using proper grammar, that’s “really quickly”.)

Oh look! Something shiny!

Today’s something shiny is a novel I started about four years ago. I didn’t get very far with it. In fact, what you see below is all there is. Nevertheless, I’m intrigued with this cast of characters and I’d like to finish their story sometime. I have only a vague idea of what it would be about…

Poem’s Story

Yellow maple leaves fluttered overhead as Ed Watts pulled his 1964 El Camino off Ohio 52. October, yet the summer heat would not relent, intensifying as the speedometer fell.

Rose sat beside him, Poem on her lap—the two glued together with sweat. They hadn’t stopped since Batesville, the Camp Isle sign arching overhead signifying the end of their six-day journey.

Finn Lively didn’t notice their arrival. He was pounding on bull hide with a stick, biting the corner of his mouth as he tried to fall into rhythm with the pow wow drums.

Tents edged the circular courtyard. Donna Lively sat under one, offering Tarot card readings. Under others, mediums conjured deceased spirits. Carefully crafted lies became Aunt Maude’s turquoise necklace, Billy’s favorite teddy bear, Grandpa Ira’s gold pocket watch. Evidence that the departed could still speak, or that con artists could still fool—sometimes even themselves.

The drums droned, masking the sound of bald tires against pock-marked pavement. Festival-goers commanded the road. Ed lifted his foot off the break, idled the El Camino forward, stopped again to let two gray-haired ladies pass.

Poem rested her hand on the door and looked out over the courtyard. A breeze tickled her arm. She watched the full-bellied, bare-skinned men dance in their feathered head-dresses, too young to wonder what pow wows and sweat lodges had to do with psychic readings and séances.

The Ohio Association of Spiritualists understood the monetary value of multi-culturalism, and they milked it for all it was worth. They also offered cheap rooms at the Violet Hotel, and a cafeteria across the way with lunches offered on Fridays and Saturdays. For all other meals, the gas stoves and double sinks were free to use.

The road turned to gravel and curved right under the shade of sturdy
 maples. A breeze billowed through the yellow canopy in waves. Leaves
fluttered against leaves, saturating the pow wow drums in rustling 

They drove past Finn, still beating his drum. Limestone dust wafted
 against his back. He reached up and wiped his nose with his hand, 
adhering bits of dry foliage to his sweaty cheek. Poem watched the back
 of his hair part down the middle as the wind continued to blow. A piece 
rose up and wagged side to side like a finger, then fell to rest as the 
breeze died.

Ed turned left into the Violet Hotel’s parking lot, pulled into the only
 empty spot, and cut the engine. He leaned his head against the headrest and gazed at their new kitchen—a one story cinder block building with a green 
roof. Never painted, the stone aggregate had aged to a yellowish brown.
 The interior of the cafeteria was no cozier, but it would function.

Poem watched a bead of sweat roll down her father’s temple. It pooled
 in the crevice beside his eye, and then a slow blink sent it tumbling down his 

”What are you doing,” Rose said.

He pulled his T-shirt up to his face, shrugged behind a shroud of sweaty

Rose sighed. She grabbed the door handle and tugged. Hinges creaked
 against the force of her elbow. “Up… Up!” She motioned to Poem with
her free hand, her other resituating her tank top as she leaned into the
 door. Poem peeled herself from her mother’s bare legs and hopped to the

She walked to the back bumper, banging her fist against metal 
as she went, leaving dusty knuckle prints in her wake.

 The pow wow drums were silent now. Feathered men stood in clumps, 
scratching their backs, drinking from aluminum cans, laughing. The flag
 in front of the hotel snapped against the breeze, fluttered wildly for a 
moment, and then drooped like a scolded puppy.

The men in blue uniforms said 
Daddy could come home.

 To four-year-old ears, the word “deserter” held no negative connotation.
 It merely conjured images of vanilla ice cream and warm brownies.
”Gerald Ford” was just another brand of car. And “dishonorable 
discharge” meant moving south, going where the summers were hotter and
 the flag displayed three colors instead of two, a place Mommy and Daddy called “home”.

That’s all there is. Hopefully I’ll get around to writing more someday, although, it won’t be for awhile. This project is way down on my list.


Mother’s Day and other bits

It was a rainy week last week, with bits of sun and color. We’ve started a walking challenge at work, and initially I thought I’d need to buy a pedometer to track my steps, but a friend clued me in that modern phones now have this function hard-coded in. A couple days, I was able to log around 8,000 steps, which isn’t too bad. Other days, I managed less than 1K! That’s what telework will do for you. However, even despite rain and not so optimal spring temperatures, I got my b-u-t-t outdoors and took in the local fauna. See pictures below.

I also put together a vlog of last week’s funtivities, and I included footage that my eight year old took. He’ll get a kick out of it. I’m having trouble uploading it so I’ll post it as soon as it goes live. (UPDATE: It’s live. I embedded it below. Mother’s Day bits included!)

I hope you had a great week last week. Feel free to share some of your adventures in the comments below!

Spring Wildflowers




Blog Everyday in May: Catch-up Post

While participating in #MondayBlogs this week, I discovered another twitter tag that struck my fancy. It’s #BEDM, which stands for Blog Everyday in May. It seemed a good opportunity to get to know a smaller subset of the blogging community versus #MondayBlogs which gets a lot of traffic, especially via writers who are writing to other writers. (Ahhh, infinite loop. My head can’t take it.)

Since I’m a little late to the party, I’m going to smash the first four days’ worth of topics into this post.

Sunday: Tell Us Something New

Something people don’t often know about me is that I like reptiles, including snakes. If I find a snake in my yard, I’m not afraid to pick it up. In fact, I probably will pick it up.

I’m also a lizard fan. Once upon a time, in the year 2006 B.C. (Before Children), hubs and I owned a lizard named Beans.



She was awesome. And grumpy. We gave her to a friend when I discovered I was pregnant, due to the salmonella risk. Odds are that I will own another lizard one day and if I do, odds are high that it will be a uromastyx because I DON’T like bugs and I need a lizard that can subsist on veggies.

Monday: Monday Musing

I’m not much of a muser lately. I’m a scatterbrained, disjointed, disorganized ruminator. I also tend to hone in on one item/topic/task, and it captures my attention for a day, a week, and then something shiny draws my attention elsewhere.

Something Shiny

Something Shiny

If I were to muse about anything in particular, it would be about my children, and how wonderful they are (mostly), and how blessed I am to have them, and I would bask in the surreal reality that I have not one, but three of them, and I would wonder why God chose me for the wonderful task of raising them.

And baby makes three!

And baby makes three!

That’s what I would think about. If I had time to think.

Tuesday: Walking to Work

I’m narrowing this topic down to walking, because walking to work isn’t an option for me.

Walking is a bit of a sore subject for me, literally and figuratively. Literally because I’m out of shape. And figuratively… Well, come to think of it, figuratively might be the wrong word choice here. But anyway—

Just thinking about walking reminds me of how I made one of those dumb New Years’ Resolutions to lose weight. And guess what? It ain’t happening. (Surprise!) In January and February, I was good about getting off my duff and going for a walk or sweating to a Beach Body workout. But then my daughter’s first birthday happened and I ate cake. And ice cream. And I’ve been eating ice cream ever since, or if not that, then cookies, or if not that then Skittles.

So, I’m pretty sure I’ve gained back those 8 pounds I lost, but I’m sparing myself the disappointment of standing on a scale.

I’m reminded of how out of shape I am when I huff and puff up the stairs or when I walk a mile and it wears me out. Anyway, as you can see, this quite literally is a sore subject for me, so I’m going to stop talking about it.

Wednesday: What’s in My Bag?

Not much. I don’t like to carry a bunch of stuff around.

If we’re talking “bag” as in “purse” it’s just the usual things: keys, phone, a pen, Burt’s Bees chapstick, credit cards, no real cash, etc.

If we’re talking “bag” as in “bag”, I do carry a cloth bag around at times, crafted by my mother, who is a quilter.

Cloth Bag

What’s in my bag depends on where I’m going. It may or may not contain a water bottle, my lunch, a Ziplock bag full of makeup, a calendar/food journal (which I haven’t been using), and that’s about it.

What’s in your bag/purse?

(Okay. I’m all caught up!)

photo credit: christmas rainbow angel : union square, san francisco (2015) via photopin (license)


Noah Gabba Gabba and April Wrap Up

It’s been a busy spring at the Thomas residence. This past week was particularly…interesting?

I came down with a cold last Sunday and missed a total of 8 hours of work between Monday and Tuesday. As soon as my fever broke (it was as high as 100 degrees), I felt much better. While I was sick and in the middle of napping, a storm blew through that brought quarter size hail. It was loud, so it woke me up of course, and all I could do was stare out the window with my mouth hanging open, hoping it didn’t get any worse.

Aw, hail!!

Aw, hail!!

Luckily it didn’t. The hail maxed out at quarter-size, but still, it’s not something you want to see pelting your roof or your cars. Speaking of cars, they didn’t make it through unscathed:

What the hail? (Dents. All over both cars.)

What the hail? (Dents. All over both cars.)

Noah Gabba Gabba

Speaking of yucky weather, the boys played their soccer games in rainy 50-degree weather on Saturday. Despite the rain, they both had fun. (Isaac moreso than Noah, I think.) I dressed both boys up in winter coats and Noah kept his on when he was playing. As he was running around in his two-sizes-too-big coat, I kept thinking of Brobee from Yo Gabba Gabba. So I took some pics and made this collage. What do you think? Am I right?


Camp NaNoWriMo Winner!

On a positive note, I logged a ton of words last week, and much to my surprise, I actually exceeded my Camp NaNoWriMo goal of 20K words. I’m officially a winner!


The project I worked on is called Ignited Hearts. It’s the third novella in my Holiday Romance Series, and this one revolves around the Fourth of July. I’m very happy with how it has turned out. Although, I still have two mini-scenes to write and they could make it or break it. I decided to take today off so my creative juices have time to replenish. If all goes according to plan, I should complete the draft this week, and the story should be available for purchase in June.

April Wrap-up

I can’t believe April is already over. My children are growing faster than dandelions and I can hardly keep up. They keep me busy and there’s always something interesting going on in our house.

Here’s a quick photo wrap up of some of the things that happened last month, starting with a short vlog. (Actually, this was from today, May 1st, but close enough.)

My garden is coming along nicely indoors. I’ve already learned valuable gardening lessons, like, you don’t really need to start beans indoors. However, I did, and we’ll see if they survive the transplant.

Num Num.

Num Num.

On a related note, I tried to use a Mantis tiller to till up my soil. That didn’t work because the Mantis kept dying every time the hubs hit the throttle. At that point, feeling discouraged, I decided perhaps we should go to the store and purchase a tiller (a bigger one), but then I got to thinking that it would cost about as much to put in raised beds, and the bonus there is that I would have good, workable soil. So, hubs bought some cedar and he’s fashioned two beds for me at this point. However, I’m getting ahead of myself. More on my gardening adventures on a future blog.

While dreaming about my garden, I was trying to decide if I should incorporate some sort of bunny fence (to keep them out, not in, of course). I was leaning on not putting up a fence this year because I hadn’t seen that many bunnies running around. However, last weekend when hubs was mowing, he scared a family of bunnies and they all darted this way and that. Guess where they are living?? Right next to my garden. Chicken wire fence it is, then.

Bunny hole with my garden at their doorstep.

Bunny hole with my garden at their doorstep.

Not only did I garden in April, folks, but I also sewed. (Gasp.) My 5 year old somehow managed to pull his sleeping bag zipper completely off the track. The only way to fix it was to cut the zipper and create a new “stop” at the bottom. I did it. It’s fixed. No new sleeping bag required. Woot woot!


On a totally unrelated note, my 8 year old is getting better and better a drawing. He drew this with the help of a drawing book. He didn’t trace it. I think he’s got skills. They all come from daddy. (I can’t draw worth hooey.) And daddy is very proud.


And last but not least, my sweet 1 year old. Here’s a picture of her, just because:

Double photo bomb!!

Double photo bomb!!

Until Next Time…

Thanks for reading! Everyone stay safe from the hail!!


Garden Party

It’s more like February outside, with the snow, sleet, and whatever other frozen thing Mother Nature can concoct, but at my house, we’re still holding out hope that spring will arrive soon. As such, we are preparing for our garden.

I’ve had a garden in years past, if it could be called that. Let’s just say I’ve had limited success. This year, however, I want to give it an honest try, which will involve protecting my young succulant plants from the burgeoning vole and bunny population.

Last year, I tried to start some watermelon seeds directly in the soil. I started them too late, and I planted them in improper soil. As you can guess, they didn’t fare well. So this year, I’m doing it right (hopefully) and sprouting my seeds indoors.

This entire venture is a learning process. For instance, I’ve already learned that peas sprout very quickly (as in one day, believe it or not) and they have very vigorous roots. The pellets I started them in appeared to be inadequate for the plants’ root systems, so I made the most of my soggy Sunday afternoon and took a trip to Menards for proper containers.

As you can see in the video below, I have a helpful assistant gardener. My middle child is excited about planting seeds, and eager to help. I put him to work, of course, and he enjoyed it. At one point while we were planting, he said (out of the blue) “I’m happy.” 🙂 What more could a mother wish for?

I hope you enjoy the video, and please share your comments below!

(Royalty free music, compliments TechnoAXE.)


Guitar Tunes and Gnocchi

It’s Sunday at the Thomas residence, so what else is there to do but strum out-of-tune guitars and make gnocchi? (See vlog below for full explanation.)

The Recipe

I’ve never made gnocchi before, and I wanted to start with a simple recipe. I found a gnocchi recipe by Martha Stewart and decided to give it a go. I also watched this video, and it’s a good thing I did, because I probably would have kneaded the dough too long. Turns out you hardly have to knead it at all.

Oh, and the simple technique for making authentic looking gnocchi that the lady talks about in the video? (Roll the dumpling down a fork?) Not so simple. I ended up pressing the fork against the dumpling—once on each side—and then, when my feet began to hurt from standing, I simply decided to forego the fork marks altogether.


Next time I make gnocchi, I’ll make smaller dumplings. I also plan to experiment with whole grain and gluten free alternatives, and maybe even substitute russets with sweet potatoes.

The Soup

I featured my homemade gnocchi in a copycat recipe of Olive Garden’s chicken and gnocchi soup. My gnocchi held together and floated to the top of the simmering soup as they are supposed to.


I must say, they were quite yummy in the soup. Much better than store bought, pre-made gnocchi. (Lot’s more work too. But worth it. I think.)

The Verdict

My oldest son doesn’t like gnocchi, and he didn’t like mine. My middle child won’t eat anything but hot dogs and cheese quesadillas with the occasional fish stick. And my husband said the soup didn’t taste quite right. So, I’m chalking it up as a success.


Next time I will alter the copycat recipe by reducing the amount of thyme by half, and by reducing some of the cream in favor of chicken broth, for a slightly lighter soup. And as I mentioned, I will make smaller gnocchi. (Gnocchis?) With those minor adjustments, the soup will no doubt be perfect. I think.

The Vlog

Check out the video of my experiment below:


Spring Fever? Nope. Try, Baby Fever.

Ever have a sudden, irrational, urgent, all-consuming desire to have a baby? It’s called baby fever. And take heart, it’s curable.