Monthly Archives: December 2013

So Long 2013

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.  I thought it would be nice to include this random Facebook page picture of me to go along with it.  Because the stats are as weird as I am.  I got almost 800 hits on a post about my furnace.  Sorry to disappoint everyone, but I’m never writing about that again.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 29,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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My Three Word New Years Resolution

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Trifextra Week Ninety Nine:

Michael Hess inspired us with his three word New Year’s resolution – just be nice.  We’re asking
for your own resolutions in just three words.

I made a long list for inspiration.  Carry a pen, stop and look, have some fun, ride the waves, laugh like hell, find what matters, write it down, tell your story.  I aspire to do all these things, plus use more glitter and shoot the moon.  Why?  Because ultimately I want to do this:

Leave Something Behind

It finally came down to those three words when I realized it’s why we do it all and why we write – so that some small part of us will live on after we’re gone.  If you can’t make your words earth shatteringly memorable , don’t worry.  Glitter is almost impossible to get rid of and will keep people thinking about you for a very long time.

Happy New Year to everyone at Trifecta and everyone who participates in these delightful challenges.  Keep making memories.

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Good Things On A Sunday

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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.

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“And so this is Christmas…what have you done?”
― John Lennon

“Peace on earth will come to stay, When we live Christmas every day.”

― Helen Steiner Rice

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

 

“What do you think of Christmas?” “I like it,” she said. “I think we should have it every year.” ―     Liz Flaherty     One More Summer    

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“Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart…filled it, too, with melody that would last forever.”
― Bess Streeter Aldrich, Song of Years

I hate to be the one to have to tell you this, but you know those visions of sugar plums dancing in your head? They’re your own damned fault. Well, between you and the eggnog.

Just Jazzy Advent Calendar

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“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.”

― Andy Rooney

Sugar and spice and everything nice.  That's what I'm made of at Christmas.
Christmas at our house is not so much sugar and spice and everything nice as it is mistletoe and wine and sleeping in ’til nine.

Just Jazzy Advent Calendar

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“I lit the candles and said out loud, “what am I waiting on? Someone to sell them in a garage sale for a quarter after I die?” And it was beautiful. And the smell was even more incredible than I remembered.”
― Paula Heller Garland

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas. Except for that ugly green candle, which does not even remotely call to mind any pine tree that ever existed in the real world.

 

Just Jazzy Advent Calendar

 

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“The Little Drummer Boy was playing in the background for what seemed like the third time in a row. I fought off an urge to beat that Little Drummer Boy senseless with his own drumsticks.”
― Dana Reinhardt, How to Build a House

Tis the season to get frazzled.  Unless you're like me and have been stocking up on the Christmas wine since July.
Tis the season to get frazzled. Unless you’re like me and have been stocking up on the Christmas wine since July.

 

Just Jazzy Advent Calendar