Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I Almost Named This "Adult Presents", But A Quick Google Search Shows The Error In My Thinking - So "Enjoy My Vintage Necklace" Should Be Safer

 This is the view off my back porch - pretty neat,  The house is quite far away, and I'm lucky they are so lavish in their decorating.   
Anyone who knows my son Zach knows that one of his hobbies is Origami, so when I saw this fabric, I had to get it for Pajamas for him.  Actually just the bottoms, since like almost every man I know, he wears a T-Shirt to sleep in.  I love it when I find a good print for my sons, but it's a little harder to find things for Nick.  He wore his Basketball Print ones inside-out, since the print was too bright, but how could I resist a Basketball Print for a Basketball player?  Pretty sure I'll just get him new baking sheets for Christmas and skip making him a pair.  He uses those Air-Bake ones (hollow inside) to cook turkey bacon so perfectly that you don't taste the difference.  And his are getting a little old.    My Point, and I do have one  is that adults are pretty hard to find good presents for.  And I am just so excited to come up with some!
Isn't this the best old necklace - notice the missing rhinestone? 
Hard to see where the flaw is when I wear it, so I put my hair up to make it more noticeable.  Still no reason to throw this in the trash bin, which is where it was headed when I rescued it.  Bet this is almost 50 years old.  Pre-Internet days, I thought I was part of a tiny group of people who enjoyed old costume jewelry - now I know better.  Unfortunately, so does everyone else, so these old treasures that people would give to me don't show up as often. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

John Brought Back Fresh Tim Tams And The Stroopwafels Have Arrived - Which To Attack First?

 While it was really hard to have John in Australia for a whole month, finding these Tim Tam Biscuits (Carolyn was so correct that these are not cookies!) on the table almost made up for it.  And those once a year treats, the best cookies ever, the Stroopwafels made by the Dutch Brothers Bakery in Montana that one of John's customers send him for Christmas arrived this afternoon.  I've purchased cookies that look the same from Aldi's and everyone raves about them, but that's because they haven't tried the Dutch Brothers.  And I'm not sharing!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Where I Am Hiding The Mini Panettone - Special Seed Topping For Bread Baking With Lynne - Halloween 2014

 Found this interesting material in the Los Angeles Garment District sitting on the sidewalk outside this little hole in the wall place.  The shopkeeper wanted $8 per yard and I wanted to buy it to wear once a year on Halloween.  (And maybe, just maybe at San Diego Comic-Con if I feel really bold, which I never have in the past.)  The price was just a suggestion he told me, a clear invitation to bargain.  I told him that the most I would pay for a Halloween costume was $24 and that it would take at least 4 yards to make a decent cape.  Now, not everyone who knows me knows that I am a terrible bargainer - I am just not good at it.  And so my sister, Lynne had to step in and tell the guy that I was not bargaining, and that if he wanted to sell me 4 yards at $6 per yard, I would take it.  Five cents more per yard and I wouldn't - which would have made me sad because it is the most perfect Orange Sequin Spider Web fabric that I have ever seen.  It's going to be fabulous over a long black gown!

 I have always loved the first Panettone of the season, and now that it's just John and me at home, the tradition has become buying one and the making myself sick by finishing it that day.  But Amanda alerted me to these Mini Panettone, so I rushed out and bought myself one.  And realized that they were the perfect size to put in with the other goodies I bake for my family at Christmas.  I know, now they won't be a surprise, but three weeks from now when I try to remember where I put them, I can check back here and see that they are in the cupboard over the refrigerator.  (While I may write like a tall woman, access to the top of the refrigerator involves standing on a chair, so I'm not likely to come across these by accident.) 
One of the things I am making for my family for Christmas is specially for the bread bakers.  The smell of this mixture of seeds is delicious.  Lynne and I went to this place called Honeyville (I think) and got Seasame (which we toasted), Golden Flax, Sunflower, Poppy, and Caraway seeds.  We picked up the Anise seeds at the Superior Mexican Grocer.  Not just tasty - fun to play with too.  Isn't this bread beautiful?     

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Amanda Has A New Car But I've Been Too Sick To Write About It Yet

 What did everyone do on Black Friday?  We all ran over to the Chevy Dealer and Amanda and Mike bought this nifty new Chevy Cruze.  So cute!  (And it feels better to have her in a trustworthy car,)
 Is anything cooler than having a Pi Pan to make Pi shaped Pie?
 So, I've had a cold, which I would normally have enjoyed.  Not that being ill is so great, but convalescence is a perfect excuse to indulge,  All that time I would have spent at Water Aerobics can be used for reading, watching old TV shows, building my little models, drinking mint tea, eating Vegemite on buttered toast (newly discovered) - just lazy self-indulgence stuff.  But this time I was just too sick to do any of this.     
This is the Nanoblocks version of the Sydney Opera House that I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Keep Calm And Lower Your Standards

 I was getting out the Christmas decorations and found this one that I made a few years ago in Seattle, which was displayed on our lovely mantle.  It was actually more work than it seems, different color inks and punches and trimming around images and lots and lots of glue, all tied together with a green dotted organdy ribbon.  Until I found the "S" in my craft room, I hadn't noticed the misspelling, nor had anyone else.  But this was long after Christmas stuff had been packed away again, so I just tucked the "S" away in one of the boxes and figured I'd fix it the next year.  For the last couple years, I have had either the misspelled banner or the square with the "S", but never both at the same time.  And this year the aren't even in the same state - yes, the "S" is in Oklahoma and the banner is in California.  Without that gorgeous traditional mantle behind it, it's more obvious, but I'm displaying it anyway.  Because imperfection is a kind of strength and displays a generous spirit allowing everyone to feel better about themselves.  Which is a very Chritmas way to be!    
Any one who knows me knows of my fondness for a good Pub Quiz - not a drinker, so the Pub is the best venue for me for a quiz, since our team is competing with lots of other teams that are not operating at their best.  Really like the Old Dubliner in Long Beach, which is part of a chain.  Taking the dogs for a major walk can take me past the Tustin one, which no longer has a quiz, but had this neat shirt for sale for the window.  A new to me variation on the "Keep Calm And Carry On" motto which I have always liked.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Carne Adovado And Southern California Superior Market

Can you believe these pastries from the Mexican Market called Superior Grocers?  And all those little bags of unusual spices for less that $1 each?  Coconut Sport Strings - what to do with them?  Pomegranate Mint Chia drink (more like a thin pudding).  And the dried New Mexico Chilies - these will be made into Carne Adovada, although I used chicken last time so perhaps the name is wrong.  Here's how- put on rubber gloves or you hands will be red for weeks.  Then take the stems off the chili pods and tear them into pieces, discarding the seeds if you want the sauce on the mild side.  Just cover the chili pieces with boiling water and let sit for at least 4 hours.  Then put the chili/water mixture in a blender, with 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, as much oregano as you like, (I use just a pinch), and liquefy.  You might also want to add salt, but anyone who know me knows that I don't salt when I cook, except for yeast breads, since it's part of the chemical reaction.  Strain out all the seeds and skin, usually a surprising amount, and marinate what ever meat you wish in the sauce for at least a day and then bake until cooked through.  I think pork is traditional and best, but this chicken turned out great.  Something I would never have tried if not for John's s preference for white meat chicken over beef or pork.  Now that I'm branching out, I wonder how it would be with shrimp?  Or tofu?  Or a plain cheese enchilada?   





How Margie Got Me To Go To The Funeral For Steve Manassero

The first intellectual puzzle to ever present itself to me was shared with my cousin, Tommy.  How could his Uncle Steve not be my Uncle Steve?  I had three fabulous uncles, smart, handsome, nice men, one of them his father, my Uncle Emile.  But he had these Italian uncles, Steve, Matt, and James.  When we put together the fact that he had a different set of grandparents, Jim and Bridgette, it started to make sense.  (We were very, very young when we tried to figure this all out.)
His Uncle Steve farmed with my uncle and they grew the best strawberries in California,  Well, I went to his funeral Thursday morning.  Really didn't want to, and didn't have more than a day to make up my mind about it, since I only found out the day before.  Knew I was being a big baby about it, but still didn't want to go.  But the oddest thing happened Thursday morning - one of my friends in Chicago, who would never ordinarily do this, called me a little before 6 am, my time,  Margie was so sorry, said she couldn't believe she didn't remember the time difference.  So I told her my funeral conundrum - and she talked me through it.  Being sorry you went to a funeral is irrelevant, the only thing to consider is that you can never fix being sorry you didn't go.  So I went.  And was on time, another benefit to the earliness of that call.  One of the main things I remember about Tommy's Uncle Steve is that he always treated me like a grown-up.  Only thing to do was be a grown-up and pay my respects to a fine, fine gentleman.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

What Is It About Christmas That Gives Me An Excuse To Eat Anything?

Have you ever seen Peppermint Marshmallow?  Neither had I, but couldn't resist them,  Plus the festive picture on the box of Peppermint Hot Chocolate with the Peppermint Bark just screamed Christmas.  I mean, is it even legal to have Peppermint Bark any other time of year?  It's one of my favorite things to make to send to my family.  But you need a tender Candy Cane, not one of those rock hard ones that Santa hands out when you sit on his lap to have your picture taken.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Origami Royal Corgis And Japanese Bookstores

 My son Zach started doing Origami when he was eight and quickly became an expert.  By the time he was ten, we were seeking out more difficult designs which meant that they were written in Japanese.  So we would spend hours in the Kinokuniya Book Store in the International District of Seattle.  (There is a huge one in Sydney, by the bye.)  That's where I started getting the Japanese Sewing magazines like Stylebook and Ladies Boutique and Sewing books like Pattern Magic, and the Nanoblocks - like a very tiny version of Legos.  And interesting pencils, wonderful pens, and miniature colored pencils for sketching.  Plus eraser in every shape imaginable, from Sushi to Hello Kitty.  Never use a boring eraser again.   
Still too lazy to look up the type of Corgi that Queen Elizabeth of England has, but Zach made a paper replica.  
John finally comes home from Australia next Tuesday!  And we're spending Thanksgiving at my son Nick's new house.  I can hardly wait!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gingerbread Loaf Time! And A Little Baking

 The Gingerbread Loaf has arrived at Starbucks!!  Happy Christmas!
 Zach's best friend Lewis has a girlfriend whose birthday was Wednesday, so I made the cake she wanted and took it to Quiz Night at the Pub.  It was an over-the-top Reese Peanut Butter Cup Cake consisting of two layers of Peanut Butter Blondie and one layer of a Dark Chocolate Cheesecake, (an actual Cheesecake without the crust - you have to freeze it to keep it from falling apart when you frost it), filled with a Dark Chocolate Ganache,
 and frosted all over with Peanut Butter Frosting.
 Then the sides are covered with a mixture of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and Peanut Butter Chips.
 And it's topped with Peanut Butter Cups, either whole ones cut into eighths, or these darling Mini ones.

Final verdict - too intense and too much work.  Don't care how much every one liked it!  But if you are interested, Reese's Overload Cake recipe. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Spider Patroling The Bathroom Or Rattlesnake De-Mousing The Laundry Room

Anyone who knows me know that I'm not afraid of bugs or spiders.  But my patience has been sorely tested (what do you suppose that old expression was originally supposed to mean - tested out a new horse until your muscles were all sore?   Or maybe I don't have the expression right at all - should it be sorely tempted - which also makes no sense?) by the massive number of tiny (and some not so tiny) beetle-like creatures that share our apartment in Tulsa.  So I was happy to come home last month and find a small spider had spun a web on the baseboard of my bathroom and had dealt firmly with a great deal of the beetles.  (Yes, he ate them!)  Since I would only be home for a few days before heading out again, I left him alone.  But unfortunately for Mr. Spider, my presence scared of his dinner and he had to be moved out to the front porch flower pot so he wouldn't starve.  Now my point, and I do have one, is that families understand these things about each other, even if no one else does, so I told my sister Lynne, (the one who lives in the state park with her husband the Park Ranger) my spider rescue story.  Not only did she agree that leaving a spider alone to do the exterminating was logical, she told that she had done the same thing when they moved into the Ranger House.  The house had all manner of mice and maybe some rats and other small undesirable roommates that had moved in between tenants.  But luckily, a small Rattlesnake moved into the corner of the laundry room through the same opening that the mice had found.  So for a week, she only did laundry at night (when all the snakes are asleep - as they teach you at Ranger School), until the house was varmint free.  Then she had the snake guy come and take away the Rattler, patched the little hole, and enjoys her pest free home.  Although the story seemed to freak-out her other friends, to me that made perfect sense.