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.


Friday, November 15, 2013

The Garment District In Los Angeles Is A Fantasy Land For Lovers Of Jewelry And Fabrics!

Started out with a trip to Mood Fabrics, because it was number one on our list.  Spent an hour trying to decide if it was possible to narrow down what I wanted to one or two pieces.  It wasn't, so I didn't buy anything at all.  I know - I was surprised at myself.  The prices are quite dear, so I needed to know exactly how much my finished project would take.  I wish I had that brown sequin fabric to make a tank top, but at $60 per yard if it takes more than 1/4 yard, I'll pass.

  This Brown Sequin Fringe is so beautiful!
  Been back twice to Maple street, thinking I would buy this Rhinestone Mask, but haven't been in the mood for the haggling expected by the shop owner.  Maybe next time.  I don't need it until December since it would be a present for Nick's girlfriend, Kelsey if I do buy it.
 Two of my beautiful nieces playing around with by the pound fabric at the Michael Levine Attic Outlet.  That piece was about $1.50.
  And here's the main Michael Levine store, which was one of the three places on our list as not to be missed.  Surprise, we never got there.  Although we spent a lot of time checking out this fab fake fur on the sidewalk across the street from there.
 And finally at the third place on our list, the FIDM Store. Look at these beautiful Gold (filled, I am sure) earrings for only $8.  Did I buy them?  If I say yes, then my daughter will be expecting them to be in her Christmas stocking.  They do have the Fleur de Lis which as the national symbol of France would be appropriate wear for someone teaching Freshman French at Cal.  It is also the symbol for the Boy Scouts, and both her brothers are Eagle Scouts.  So I'm not saying I bought them, but if you happen to pop into the FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising), I'm pretty sure they won't have any.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Happy 11/12/13

Sequential date - they get rare as the century rolls on. What to do to celebrate?  Maybe just go to Chili's for their new Pumpkin Spice Hot Lava Cake?  Or take the train to the Los Angeles Garment District?  Or both!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Queen's Corgis, The Frustrations Of Trying To Blog Using Just An iPhone (Hint: It's Mainly That Darn Auto-Correct), And That Old (But True) Expression "Confession Is Good For The Soul"

Initially I figured I could take my time picking out a new computer and use my phone for writing and reading and commenting in the wonderful world of Blogs.  (Didn't some clever writer already dub this "The Blogosphere"?)  But as annoying and time consuming as the tiny keyboard is, the deal-breaker is Auto-Correct.  Somehow or other, when I tried to comment on how "incredible" a talented sewing blogger looked in her latest creation, on little slip of the finger on one of those tiny keys and suddenly I've called her "edible" - EEK!  Of course I'm the reason Auto-Correct "thought" to use that word - when John is out of town I expect him to text me with pictures of most of his meals and I send lots of food related email, (recipes, restaurants, nutrition, and such), so "edible" usually is the word I want.   The smart thing to do is wait until I get my new computer this week before I attempt anything blogwise.
I'm sure old Auto-C didn't mean to make me seem so odd, not that I need any technologically help in that regard.  Yes, I did it by myself yesterday.  And until I confess all on the blog, it will keep bothering me, although I an totally innocent in this misunderstanding.  It all started with getting my son's dogs groomed, an all day procedure which deserved the ultimate reward you can give a dog in Southern California  - Sunday Brunch sitting under the table with their own bowl of delicious Chicken and Rice at The Lazy Dog Cafe.  And the people food is scrumptious too!  As we waited in the sun for our table on the patio, they played with the other small dogs waiting too.  I was bending down petting the most perfectly mannered and groomed Corgi, and trying unsuccessfully to remember the exact name of the different types and which one this might be, so I gave up and just asked, "Is this one of the Queen's Corgis?"  When trying later to describe the look on the owner's face, the term "dumbfounded" was what both my son and I came up with.  I clarified with, "You know they are Queen Elizabeth's favorite dogs?  Queen Elizabeth, Queen of England?"  At that moment his partner showed up and he started laughing and finally answered, "Yes, and Yes!"  How embarrassing!  I didn't even remember that term could be applied to gay men!