Monday, May 3, 2010

Starlight Mice in Berlin

While the trip in checked luggage was a bit grueling (and we thought we had it bad in economy coach), our three Starlight mice arrive ears intact. Apparently the x-ray of my bag didn't trigger a security check.

Simone, Greta, and Alfred

The mice were still safely packed in their box when I unpacked my luggage, but I can tell you that they were eager to explore our apartment once we released them.

Simone is a party girl, so this German confetti looked quite promising to her. She got her nest together quite quickly.

Of course the Starlight mice were the first to find the chocolate eggs on our pillows.

You can bet this one isn't going to last long. Greta offered to help us find our way to the toy at the center of that egg (translation: to eat the chocolate shell). All three mice helped us eat our way to the toy.

Our first Kinder Egg toy is revealed! The Starlight mice have gathered on the kitchen window ledge to discuss their next job.

We need to get to the grocery store soon to decide what new treats to bring them. Apparently they snacked a bit while we were out walking today.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

An Italian Surprise

I probably should have gotten suspicious when I caught a young Starlight mouse reading an Italian food blog on my computer and then asking that I call him Topino instead of Frank. But my friend Laura was planning a trip to Rome for the holidays so I suspected he'd overheard our discussion and that is what had stirred his interest in everything Italian.

When Laura came to say goodbye before she left, she must have been carrying a large purse.

I didn't hear from her over Christmas. Then just after New Years a photo came by email of a New Year's gathering at the home of Laura's cousin Giovanni. At first I thought the photo was about the gathering and the food.

But then I saw the next photo.

Wait! Those almond ears and clove eyes look disturbingly familiar. (Click on the photo to see an enlarged version.) Apparently Topino, unable to pass himself off as another dinner roll or as part of the centerpiece, had been discovered by one of the children.

Obviously Topino had been dining well during the holidays in Rome. He'd clearly had put on some weight since I'd last seen him. And he doesn't look particularly repentant either.

I'd like to say that this is the next best thing to being there myself, but it's not. I'm sure when he arrives home I'll have to listen to detailed descriptions of the delicious foods he nibbled on before he was captured.

Lucky for Topino, Laura's family embraced their unexpected guest with Italian exuberance and warmth. Topino was expected to eat heartily along with the family and after dinner he was given a place of honor in front of their Nativity scene.

I want to thank Laura's family for their generosity and kindness to Topino. I'm sure it warmed his little chocolate heart to spend New Years in the midst of this lovely family and I'm happy to know that he is safe and well-fed.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Eating Local in Santa Barbara

Since I began writing for Edible Santa Barbara Magazine, the Starlight mice have quietly been keeping tabs on what I'm doing. You can see them here, checking out the Fall issue, which contains my article on local honeybees. (Although they seemed to be more interested in the glob of honey pictured on the cover than in reading my article.)

They were especially curious about why we hadn't assumed, as they do, that all of Santa Barbara is edible... even magazine pages. I had to explain that not being mice, we don't actually try to eat everything we see.

They shrugged and listened as I described the Eat Local Challenge where during the month of October we try to eat only foods grown or raised within 100 miles of home. For example, I pointed out, they themselves are not made from local flour, their chocolate hearts were made from chocolate beans grown in Africa or South America, and their clove eyes might have come from Indonesia or Madagascar--so while they are edible mice, they are not local.

When they realized how little of what is in our pantry comes from within 100 miles, they looked a little hesitant about joining me in eating local. So I offered to take them to the Saturday Farmer's Market to find out what we could get to combine with the fresh vegetables and fruits growing in our own garden. Here's what we brought home.

This is a jar of cold processed San Marcos Farms honey. As you can see, one taste led to another.

We agreed that we should try this Lemon Quark even though it's stretching the 100 mile limit a bit. I've been making my own yogurt using milk from cows in Downey, CA (about 120 miles away)--delivered to us via Trader Joe's . So if we like this, we can try making our own. We thought it would be good with pomegranate seeds from our tree.

We bought this wheat flour from Creekside Apple Ranch/Solvang Pie Company. We're planning to make a garden pizza with this. They sell pasta made from their flour as well.

We brought home a package of capellini and then went out to the garden to pick green beans, pasilla peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes to fix with pasta for dinner.

Even those hungry little mice were satisfied after this dinner, although I won't be surprised if I find a few nibbles on the edges of of my magazine by the end of the month.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Traveling Through Egypt

My friends and Starlight customers Gayle and Marty were headed off to cruise the Nile and visit to the pyramids in Egypt. Fellow lovers of whimsy, they took home some Starlight mice and set up a hidden camera to see if they could catch these little stowaways in the act of stowing away. Little did the mice know that Gayle and Marty were already planning to take them along on the trip.

It didn't take long for the mice to find the travel brochure and start planning. Those pyramids didn't look all that big to them, they commented in a barely audible whisper.

Here they are on camera, looking their sneakiest. A few seconds later they were deep inside their suitcases, burrowing quietly into carefully packed shirts and socks.

Taking pity on them Marty and Gayle coaxed them from the suitcases and assured them that they were welcome to travel carry-on class.

One problem with burrowing is that it's hard on your ears especially if they are made of sliced almonds. But no matter, these were two happy mice sharing a window seat with Gayle.

Then onto an air-conditioned bus!

Marty photographed them jumping for joy as they caught their first glimpses of the city through the tour bus window. Then they posed for a more formal photo.

And that was just the beginning! Next stop, the Nile River.

They reserved their own sun deck for the cruise down the Nile. Well-fed and pampered, it was a Starlight mouse's dream come true!

At stop in Aswan, Egypt... a photo opportunity.

Then back to Cairo to see the pyramids.

"Hey, this looks like the brochure only a LOT bigger," he said.
"Yeah, and I don't think I want to ride on a camel either," she said.

Gayle assured them she could get them safely past all nearby camels and they really shouldn't pass up their chance to scamper about on a pyramid.

In the end, they agreed that actually standing on a pyramid was awesome!

And all too soon it was time to go back to the United States. But they had to admit feeling a little homesick when Gayle and Marty took out for Sbarro Pizza at an airport in Egypt.

They were feeling a bit road weary but after nibbling on a pizza, sharing a can of Pepsi(?), and some refreshing bottled water they were ready for the long flight home and eager to share their adventures with other Starlight Mice seeking similar adventures.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mouse Meets Wolfe

Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, my family and friends come to bake cookies at the Wolfe Family Cookie Bake. I mean a lot of cookies... like so many you never want to see another cookie again for a while... like a day or so.

Hmm, we probably should have warned my nephew Ed about the Starlight mice.

Our two-year-old friend Maxine was not intimidated at all by the appearance of a Starlight Mouse. In fact she found them quite enchanting and took one home with her.

Learning to make cookies from the more experienced, this Starlight Mouse watched gratefully, nibbling on few dough scraps while he watched.

You can see that this is an especially good table to be at if you like sugar decorations on your cookies (click on the photo for an up-close look).

A Starlight Mouse quickly heads toward bit of chocolate dough when Lorna isn't looking.

Fortunately for man and mouse, we serve sandwiches between desserts. So while the rest of us were slaving over pans of hot cookies, Dave and Nick were busy making sandwiches.

For a Starlight Mouse, life can't get much better than this.

Friday, November 21, 2008

OSU Tailgate Party

My cousin Peg reads our blog regularly, so she knew about the spread of the Starlight Mice. But you can imagine her surprise when she arrived early for a football game at Ohio State University to discover that these Starlight Mice had arrived earlier and had chosen the best seats. They'd already had a little wine and cheese and were warmed up and ready for the game.

Peg and her husband George decided to join them for a little pre-game food and talk (after a few photographs since Peg knew I'd be amazed to learn that there are Starlight Mice in Columbus, Ohio!).

Peg and George are both academic advisors at Ohio State so they have no problem initiating discussion with fellow football enthusiasts.

But the really amazing thing is that by the end of the game, two of the mice had signed up for engineering courses and one was going to look into becoming a library media specialist online through the Ohio Learning Network.

Go Buckeyes!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Visiting Portugal

Recognizing that their second Starlight mouse needed a little sunshine, Lucy and Bill invited her to join them on a visit to sunny Portugal. (Their other mouse preferred to stay in Belgium to explore rain-soaked streets and alleyways with Jolie, his new cat friend... quite adventurous for a bread dough mouse).

You can see in this photo that the trip perked her right up. Here she is enjoying the sunny balcony of their beachside hotel in Bergau, Portugal.

Turns out that before leaving, this bright little mouse had been checking out Portuguese tourist information on their friend Gary's computer and she'd read about the Wind Rose Compass at the fortress of Prince Henry the Navigator in Ponto de Sagres (sometimes referred to as "the end of the world"). When she told Bill the Sailor and Lucy the Librarian about it, they too were excited about seeing it.

She explained that way back in the 1400s Prince Henry organized many expeditions to explore the world beyond Portugal. Henry was especially interested in the development of maps and navigational equipment. This compass is said to have been built at his fort during his lifetime. It was a seafaring tool used to identify the directions of the winds. The wind rose compass evolved into the compass we use today (which is much easier to carry in your pocket).

And she found a really cool looking rock right nearby to sit on...
so Lucy could take her picture.