Monthly Archives: December 2014

Art du Jour 27

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Here’s a happy little face to end the year. Or begin the next one, whichever you prefer.

All morning in my head I’ve been singing “What are you doing New Years Eve” – the Zoe/Joseph version, which is the best one I’ve ever heard.

Sing along…all day long….you’re welcome.

Happy new year.  Don’t drink and drive.  In my case it will be don’t drink and draw.  I did that once and the results were scary.

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Just another helper monkey 2014 review….

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Well, thank you helper monkeys.  I’m no statistician (can’t even spell the word without help) but I have poured over this report and come to a few conclusions.  I have listed them at the end, where all good conclusions belong.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 33,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

People are reading my archives.

I was more interesting (or made better tag choices and was thus easier to stumble upon) last year.  And the year before that.  Or somehow these old posts, as the monkeys suggest, have staying power.  Only the monkeys know for sure.

I have some very loyal readers/commenters.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Jazzy needs a new purpose in her life (besides consuming truckloads of red wine) so that she can make a come back.

Today, for some reason that even the monkeys can’t fathom, is my best day ever for follows.

Here’s to a happy blog crazy 2015.  We’re almost there.  Just have to get these monkeys off my back.

Sharing My World 13

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The names of my grandchildren in scrabble letters! The perfect gift from a gifted grand-daughter.

Share Your World 2014 Week 51

Would you prefer snowy winters, or not, and why?

You get what you get, depending on where you choose to live I suppose.  When we lived in the Arctic above the tree line, the winters were long and dark and frozen solid.  So living way down south in the middle of Alberta (which is way up north to many people) seems balmy in comparison.  I have never liked the snow and the cold, but a winter without any snow at all would probably seem weird.  So far this year we haven’t had too much of the white stuff, but now that I’ve said that we’ll get royally dumped on.  No worries, I don’t have to go out in it or shovel it or even look at it if I don’t want to.  That’s what spouses with snow blowers are for.  And snow always eventually goes away.  That’s the part about it I like the best.

So, you’re on your way out and it’s raining. Do you know where your umbrella is or do you frantically search for it all over your apartment/house?

Usually my umbrella is in a basket on the shelf above the coats.  If it’s not there, it’s in my car from the last time I used it and didn’t bring it back in to the house.  It used to get left at work all the time if it was raining when I left to go there and not raining at home time.  No matter where it might be, there will be no frantic searching.  Coats are made with hoods for a reason.  I like the rain.  It doesn’t rain enough here.

Do you prefer your food separated or mixed together?

I don’t really care.  Either way, it’s purpose is to satisfy hunger and supply nourishment.  Sometimes I feel like I’m living in the Hunger Games city of Panem where food is so plentiful we forget it’s not there purely for our entertainment.  We play with fashion and we play with food while there are people in the world who are going without proper clothes or food or shelter,  and who must look at us and question our priorities and our sanity in the grand scheme of things.  A starving child isn’t concerned about the presentation or the proper utensils.  Or what to do with the annoying cereal dust at the bottom of the Cheerios box.

What is set as the background on your computer?

Well, funny you should ask.  I just changed it yesterday.  I was tired of looking at this elephant.

The-beautiful-elephant-sunsetAnd now I am looking at this, where they should also have mentioned coffee and chocolate.

winter books

 

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful for the best Christmas yet (every one is the best ever – funny how they just keep getting better…) with all the grandchildren and sons and daughters and dogs.  It was relaxing and delicious.  I shared a bedroom with W, so I had to either learn how to use ear plugs or live with sleep deprivation.  I chose the former.  When he snores, the walls go in and out, I swear, and you can’t hear planes flying overhead.  Now I know what to expect when what’s left of my hearing finally goes.  It was kind of nice in a way, getting up and wandering around and having no idea at all how much noise I might be making.

This week I’m looking forward to New Years Eve and maybe actually making it to midnight with my eyes open!  That seems like a reasonable goal and one that I won’t be too sorry about if (as usual) I don’t make it.

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Timeless

 

Scanned christmas letter
If my spirit animal was not a sloth (sorry if I just insulted all sloths, some of whom in comparison to me no doubt look down right ambitious) I would have published this hundred and two year old treasure in a more timely fashion, on Christmas eve two years ago, when it was exactly one hundred years old.

Maybe I did, but I’m too lazy to check that out.

It is a letter written to my grandmother, by her grandparents.  Think about that for a minute.  My grandmother would have been twenty five years old in 1912, making her grandparents freaking ancient.  I’m also too lazy to look up their exact ages but it doesn’t matter anyway.  They were grandparents giving a Christmas gift to their grandchildren.  Time goes by and some things hardly change.

The gladsome time of Xmas has again come round and we the undersigned were young once but now are old.  We recollect the wants of  young folks and that often they must go unserved, therefore we thought it our duty to try to do a little for our young people, so concluded to enclose a trifle to each.  Providence having favoured more than normal we thought it but right to divide up a little of that with those whom Providence had used as instruments for our welfare.

Now enclose a trifle for you as a token of our love and esteem trusting that you will benefit in the same spirit as that in which it is given.

We wish you all the compliments of the season and many happy returns and may the Good Lord ever be with you to bless and comfort you. 

The transcription may not be perfect, but the sentiments are certainly clear.  Let me put that into “2014-speak”.

It’s Christmas!  Time for us old geezers (who surprisingly enough still remember what it was like to be young like you) to give you some Christmas cheer in the form of cash.  We’re doing okay, with some extra to share.  It may not be much, but it makes us happy to be able to help you out whenever we can.  Do some little thing for yourself that brings you joy.  Merry Christmas.  We love you and wish you nothing but the best, today and forever.

It’s been a long week off from all things bloggish, but this morning I made a pre-new years resolution to blog every day from now until the end of the year, thinking that was three blog posts, and then realizing it is in fact four.  Still, I think I can handle it.  Even though I’m ridiculously old and lazy as hell.  At least I don’t have to dip a fountain pen in an inkwell and compose something readable without spell check.  Horrors.

All the best of the season to you and yours.

Christmas Baking for the Christmas Baking Impaired

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Butter Tarts in Progress! I preheated the oven to 400. Separated the frozen tart shells (but left them in their little foil containers) and jam-packed as many as humanly possible on to a cookie sheet. Yes, I buy the frozen ones because it cuts the tart making stress in half.  I learned my lesson the hard way, because no matter what, tart shells and filling never EVER come out even.  Before I perfected my method,  if there was too much pastry I would mix up more filling, and if the pastry ran out I would have to make more of that to use up the filling, and this would go on and on until I got fed up and poured myself several drinks and said to hell with it.  So yeah.  Frozen pastry is the way to go.

I put raisins and chopped pecans in the shells first.  There’s nothing more annoying than picking a tart that has only three raisins in it.  Or maybe I’m the only one who would get annoyed by that.  Anyway,  on to the filling.

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2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup corn syrup

2 T melted butter

2 tsp vanilla

1 T vinegar

a pinch of salt

I’m sure there’s some fancy order in which you’re supposed to do this, but I throw everything into a gigantic measuring cup with a pouring spout and combine it with a hand mixer.  (I save my arms and wrist muscles for the fudge mixing which comes later.)

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The reason there’s a pouring thing on my ‘mixing bowl’ is because I have also learned from trial and error that using a spoon is messy and inaccurate.  And often involves a lot of finger licking.  And if you fill these things too full (try for 3/4) they bubble over and stuff burns on to the cookie sheet and you have to toss it and buy a new one.  Just kidding.  But it is a pain to scrub the stupid thing clean.  They are supposed to take between 12 and 15 minutes to bake, so I set the timer for lucky 13.

imageSee that original pan on the far left?  Notice how many more butter tarts I had to make to use up all the filling?  See what I mean?? A good thing about taking pictures of this process is that I clean as I go.  Sort of.  You of course cannot see what is behind me on the kitchen table and in the kitchen sink at this point.

imageThe fudge recipe I make is super simple and easy.  There actually should be no other kind of recipe allowed anywhere.  Especially at Christmas.  I should be giving you quantities in metric, but I learned to cook with cups and spoons, so this is just easier.  I am all about easy.

1 & 2/3 cups white sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

2 T butter

1/2 tsp salt

Bring these ingredients to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Boil for five minutes.  Do not try to make yourself a cup of coffee during this process, or attempt to take a picture during the rapid-boiling constantly stirring part.  No one I know is that coordinated.

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This is what it looks like after five minutes.  I doubled the recipe, by the way.  I hate doing things twice.

imageWhile everything is still all bubbly and hot, stir in

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups miniature marshmallows

1 & 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

(or chopped pecans which never made it into the butter tarts)

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Stir until the marshmallows and chocolate chips are melted, or until your arms or your spoon breaks, whichever comes first.  Spread in a parchment paper lined pan.  Choose a really beat up old piece of crap you’ve had in your cupboard for a hundred years because it is so photogenic.  Let cool.  Four hours or longer is good.  Cut into squares (some of which will crumble because you were impatient and did not wait for four hours) and store in an air tight container in the fridge.

Pray that the fudge and the tarts won’t all be gone before you leave to visit your grandchildren.

Art du Jour 25

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If you want to make a rather disgusting chalky black mess, charcoal is definitely the way to go. Look how sad this lady is.  She is hoping her soulful eyes will draw your attention away from her dirty face and neck.

This drawing is actually black and white, but my photo makes it look sepia-like. Lately there is just not enough daylight in a day it seems to get anything done in natural light.  So I will carry on in the dark.

Tomorrow I am putting the pencils away in favour of messing about in the kitchen.  There are tart shells waiting to be filled with an astounding amount of glucose.  And a ton of fudge in my future.  If all goes well there will be pictures.  If not, forget I said that.

Sharing My World 12

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Share Your World – 2014 Week 49

What is your preferred hot drink: coffee, tea, water, hot chocolate, or other?

Coffee addict here.  Start, spend and end my day with some form of it or another.  I love the idea of a cup of tea, or afternoon tea, or a tea party, and I’ve tried to like tea itself,  but I just can’t do it.   Plain hot water would be preferable to any kind of tea, no matter what blend or flavour you try to tempt me with or whatever wonderful things you add to it.  Hot chocolate is okay, but generally too sweet.  I went through a stage at work once drinking nothing but mochas (half coffee and half hot chocolate) but I’m a coffee purist at heart.  Whatever that is.  Probably made it up.

What was your favorite toy as a child . . . and now?

One Christmas I asked for a black baby.  This was in the early 1950’s when I was three or four.  I don’t know where the idea came from, but there was nothing I wanted more and Santa must have known that because he delivered.  Yay!  She was the most beautiful doll I’d ever seen, with her black hair and chocolate face and little red and white checkered dress.  I must have loved her to pieces, because I don’t know what became of her.  All my Christmases have been pretty much down hill since that one.

Now my favourite toy is my I-Pad.  I use it so much that sometimes I have to recharge it during the day if I want to watch NetFlix on it later.  The corners of the cover are starting to fray and the rubbery stuff is peeling off at the edges and the screen is filthy most of the time.  It’s like having a little mini computer permanently attached to my right arm.  It is well-worn and much-loved.  But not quite to pieces yet.

Candy factories of the entire world have become one and will now be making only one kind of candy. Which kind, if you were calling the shots?

Oh gawd, I don’t care.  Something with vegetables in it that tastes disgusting so I won’t be tempted to eat it.  But do you know how sad this world would be without Mars Bars?  Pretty damned sad.

Would you want $100,000 right now or $120,000 in a year (tax Free)?

I’ll take it now, please.  Who knows how many buses I could get run over by in the next 365 days?

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last week was a rather lazy one for me, not unlike all the other weeks of my entire life.  However, I am getting things ready and organized for Christmas this week.  We will be travelling north and spending time with kids and grandkids and grand dogs.  I’m grateful for the weather staying less than horrible.  I can’t say it’s good, because it IS winter after all.  It’s less than a week to go to the shortest day of the year.  And before we know it, 2014 will be over and gone.  Just like the remaining hours of this day.  Those gifts are not going to wrap themselves.  Guess what I’m doing next.  If I had that hundred grand I bet I’d seriously consider paying somebody to do it for me.

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Art du Jour 24

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Although perhaps it’s hard to tell from this round baby head, I’ve been working on softness and subtlety. And patience.

I spent the better part of my Sunday doing this, and still, the eyes are a little too blue, the lips too red, pencils are hard to blend…..and my patience faded with the light, so I stopped and took a picture of my picture in the daylight and this is what you get.

Then I continued watching Scott and Bailey on Netflix.  It’s a good series.  I’m too lazy to find a link, but it’s easily googled.  I like that it was created by, and stars, women.  If you think whatever you’re doing is hard, imagine being a murder investigator.

Christmas prep in earnest tomorrow!  I keep saying that….

Santa on a Saturday

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This is my favourite Santa. I painted him many years ago and gave him to my mom.  She hung him up for a lot of Christmases. When she died, somehow I got him back with little effort on my part.  He was a gift and I didn’t expect he’d ever come back to me.  But I’m glad he did.

I love the softness about him, and the impossible floaty star-shaped balloons.  And the fact that he might not even be wearing pants or boots under that too-long dragging coat, for all we know.

Most of all I love the warm happy feeling I get when I see him and remember my mother.  Maybe he made her think of me too.

It’s just a funny little old Santa who surprised me by turning in to my best Christmas treasure.