Good Things On A Sunday

IMG_0399

These are good things on any day, really.

- Adult children.  Really, everyone should have a few.

- Finding decaf coffee for my Tassimo.  I have been blind.  (Thank you K and C for inspiring me to use this coffee maker for more than its previously mostly decorative purposes.)

- Blowing snow from the inside looking out.

- Candles that last all day and into the night.

- Driving home in the pouring rain and getting there just before it starts to freeze.

- Old movies on Netflix.

- Looking into the eyes of our children and seeing what miracles we have created.

- Good books, and lots of them.

- Today.

- Flux – a natural state.  (Our moods change, our lives change, our feelings for each other change.  Our bearings change.  The song changes, the air changes, the temperature in the shower changes.)  Accepting this.

- Magic

- A warm bed after a long day.

- Learning new words, like quaintrelle – a woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and cultivation of life’s pleasures.

- Big warm sweaters.

- The smell of dinner cooking.

- The sound of laughter.

- Having no definite plans.

- Realizing there is really nothing in the world we lack, and rejoicing in the way things are.

IMG_0434

Mocha Date Brownies

There’s a little health food store I go to whenever I’m feeling like I have way too much money and would like to get rid of a bunch of it.  They always give me a complimentary copy of a magazine called

alive, Canada’s natural health and wellness magazine

which contains lots of information on ways to go broke in the pursuit of health.  But that’s not all.  Along with the nice pictures of supplements and protein powders and smiling people with healthy immune systems there are recipes with random ingredients I’ve never heard of and promises of great results that are disgustingly good for you.

If you would like to go directly to alive.com and the mocha date brownie recipe you will miss all the incredible photos of my brownie baking experience.  I’m sharing them here because I feel like everyone should know that not everything I bake goes directly into the compost bin.

Here’s the list of ingredients (with my substitutions and helpful comments in brackets):

1 1/2 cups (350 mL) whole dates
1 cup (250 mL) fresh orange juice (I think the stuff from a jug is fresh enough)
1 Tbsp (15 mL) vanilla extract
2 large free-range eggs (I used ordinary eggs)
1/2 cup (125 mL) cocoa
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) espresso powder (I do not know what this is exactly or why anyone would have it in their kitchen at all times, so I used a couple of packets of Starbucks Via ready brew.  It’s all coffee, right?)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter (my butter is salted, so I used that and left out the above 1/2 tsp of salt)
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour (I am trying to go mostly gluten-free, so I used gluten-free brown rice flour)
1 cup (250 mL) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325, line a square baking pan with parchment paper.  Check.  So far, easy peasy.

Simmer dates with orange juice until tender.  Looks like lumpy brown sludge, but smells good.

brownies 002
Purée to a smooth paste.

brownies 005Look ma, no more date lumps.  Well, hardly any.  Use the same saucepan to melt the butter, and then pop this goop back in with it and stir it until it’s warm and bubbly.  Still looks like sludge only smoother and more oily.

brownies 006
Okay! Now you’re supposed to whisk the eggs with cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt (if you added the salt.)  I took them seriously when they said to use a large bowl.

brownies 003
before…

brownies 004…after.  You know what?  Using an actual whisk for this was a big mistake.  The reason there’s a knife in the picture is because using it was the only way I could get this stuff unstuck from between the blades of the whisk.  Just stir it with a fork.  No one will know.

Next you add the date mixture to the chocolate mixture, and then fold in the flour and the chocolate chips.

brownies 009I forgot to take a picture of this all mixed up, but you’ve probably seen brownie batter before and it’s not that exciting.  You’re supposed to smooth the top when you put it in the baking pan, and now I know why.  I also didn’t take a picture of the oven ready stage, but it’s okay because it came out of the oven looking pretty much the same as it did when I put it in there, unsmoothed top and all.

brownies 010Yes, this is baked.  It takes 30 to 35 minutes, which, if you’re anything like me, is about how long it takes to clean up the colossal mess you just made in the kitchen.

brownies

I would like to take credit for this last photo, but it’s from the magazine.  Let’s just pretend mine were identical to these.  The brownies are dense and rich (even though there’s no added refined sugar in them!) and they’re soft and chewy and really, really good.

They are also all gone.

Hey, it’s just another one of those 2012 Reviews!

But since the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog, I do feel obligated to publish it.  Thank you WordPress.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 27,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

I am so pumped that my blog could power six Film Festivals.  Whatever that might mean.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the people (however misguided), who visited this year.  And to everyone who clicked the follow button and for all your delightful comments.  You’ve encouraged me to keep on going.  And to all the googlers who got here by accident, try to be a little more careful when you search for random stuff or you’ll just end up back here again wondering why.  It’s because my tags are all over the place.  Sorry.  But thanks for dropping by anyway.

What Are You Doing New Years Eve?

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve (Photo credit: besighyawn)

Time to get those last minute New Years Eve plans finalized!  I’m planning on feeling incredibly sorry for myself if these cold symptoms from hell don’t lighten up considerably.  It’s so hard not to share all the miserable details with you – I hope everyone appreciates my restraint.

And I’m also not going to complain about working on the 31st and on the first day of the brand new year.  Amazing, I know.  High five for me.  I’ll probably still be so high on decongestants I won’t really care where the hell I am.

For your listening pleasure, how about some Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon to help get us into a proper New Years Eve frame of mind?

Maybe it’s much too early in the game
Ahh, but I thought I’d ask you just the same
What are you doing New Year’s
New Year’s eve?

Who’s gonna be the one to hold you tight
When it’s exactly twelve o’clock that night
Welcoming in the New Year
New Year’s eve

Maybe I’m crazy to suppose
I’d ever be the one you chose
Out of a thousand invitations
You received

Ahh, but in case I stand one little chance
Here comes the jackpot question in advance:
What are you doing New Year’s
New Year’s Eve?

So Where Are We Headed From Here?

Winter snow

Winter snow (Photo credit: blmiers2)

Imagine my December Book of Days tossed carelessly on the snow, the wind whipping the pages and ripping some of the blank ones from their bindings to fly helter skelter into oblivion.

Now imagine me sitting here with weepy eyes and an elephant on my chest, groggy from having slept the afternoon away, a little sad about the missing pages, but without the energy to do anything about replacing them. They’re just gone.

Maybe this post-a-day thing has finally beaten me down, although I think I made an awesome stab at it.  There were some sad days in October where words seemed useless and empty or there was simply nothing left to say.  And these few days in December when falling asleep won hands down over staying conscious for even one more minute.

And now I’ve caught this stupid bug and my head is full of sludge.

But today I will not be thwarted by sludge head!  I’m here to explain that delightful button to your right which proclaims me to be one of many  Bloggers for Peace.  Please click on it and see where it takes you.  I am committing to doing a blog for peace every month in 2013.  I fell about a hundred blogs short on my Project 365, but that’s because I kept forgetting to put everything into that category.  So I’ll just slog on with that until I reach the magic number.  Because magic numbers are magical and we could all do with a little more magic in our lives.

I am going to try harder to accept the many Word Press Challenges.  Even when I think they’re stupid.  God knows I rarely come up with anything better on my own.  I will finally finish Alphabet Soup.  I will get Jazzy all the way to one hundred schmaltzy bits of advice with a wine glass that’s never empty.  I will write more poetry.  Before you run away screaming, come on, some of it might even be good.  There’s always that chance.

There will also be more tales for my poor neglected “Before The Lights Go Out”.  Because one of these days the lights will go out for real and there will still be so many stories left to tell.

So I guess that’s my vague master plan for the moment.  Now I’m going to drink a gallon of orange juice, take some decongestants and imagine myself being all bright and perky at work tomorrow.  And the next day, and the next, all the way to 2013.

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
May your every New Year dream come true

Sweet December song
The melody that saved me
On those less than silent nights
When snow would fall upon my bed
White sugar from Jesus
And take me to the day
She could always smile
The Virgin Child would always show, you see
Just to save me
(Just to save me)

There was always Christmas time
To wipe the year away
I guess that morning they’d decided
That the war would have to wait

There was always Christmas time
Jesus came to stay
I could believe in peace on Earth
And I could watch TV all day
So I dreamed of Christmas

Maybe since you’ve gone
I went a little crazy
God knows they can see (the child)
But the snow that falls upon my bed
That loving I needed
Falls every single day
For each and every child
The Virgin smiles for all to see
But you kept her from me

There was always Christmas time
To wipe the year away
I guess that morning they’d decided
That the war would have to wait

There was always Christmas time
Jesus came to stay
I could believe in peace on Earth
And I could watch TV all day
And so I dreamed of Christmas
Yes, I dreamed like you

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
May your every New Year dream come true