Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Finally quiet for the first time today.  Our tree unfurled nicely, even if it IS a bit freeze-dried.

It's still a bit full for my tastes, I like a tree with gappy branches so I can hang MORE ORNAMENTS!  This type tends to look as if we dipped it in glue and rolled it in decorations.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


So today the kid and I were making Christmas cookies after she got home from school, which inexplicably ends at 11:30AM for the final three days before the Christmas break.

I think between finals and the holiday frenzy that kids indulge in the teachers have had enough.

At any rate, while it snowed outside we swarmed into the kitchen and made two things:  my mom's recipe for Bourbon Balls and Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies.

The Bourbon Balls are made from Vanilla Wafers, pecans, corn syrup, cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar and awesome all ground up together and formed into balls.  Oh, and bourbon.  Bourbon Balls in the past have also become Rum Balls, Brandy Balls--whatever is handy, really.  They are simple, yet the sort of thing that people take a bite of and then stop--their eyes widen, they moan 'Oh, my GOD' around a mouthful of cookie and their eyes roll up in their head.  They're that good.

The Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies are Sugar Cookies, Take #2.  I foolishly tried to make my regular sugar cookie recipe the other day because I didn't have cream cheese on hand...and THAT recipe called for shortening only, haha.

This marked the last time I ever bake with shortening at this altitude ever again.  It was 2012's Thanksgiving pie crust fiasco all over again.  Into the trash it went...

The cream cheese version uses butter only, thank you, and will be the only way I make the damned things from now on.  While we were baking, I had the MP3 player blaring away while the house birds chirped along.  We're noisy bakers.  At one point I realized I was striding through the kitchen with a bottle of bourbon clutched in one hand and a gallon Ziploc bag of granulated suger in the other, singing along loudly with 'Time Warp'.

Good times.  I mostly refrained from doing the dance, though.  Couldn't risk spilling the bourbon.

The kid helped cut and decorate the cookies.

They are quite pretty...

But some artistic license crept in.  This glum little fellow, for example.

This little guy is happy though, despite being one of the 'burned' cookies my husband always requests.  He's weird that way.

Between these and the molasses cookies, chocolate covered peanut butter balls and raspberry meringues that are on for tomorrow, we'll end up with a good amount of holiday yummies to take to the school, local fire station, our dentist and other places.

And yes, we have a proper dentist, his office encourages the bringing-in of goodies, just like the places I used to work.  I knew I'd found the right dental professional when I saw the pile of flyers offering 15% off at the local gourmet chocolatier sitting on their front desk.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

#26Acts in 2013

Along with tons of other people, I decide to participate once again in Ann Curry's #26Acts movement on Twitter, which she started after the Sandy Hook school shootings one year ago today.  She posted:  "Imagine if all of us committed to 20 mitvahs/acts of kindness to honor each child lost in Newtown. I'm in. If you are RT #20Acts"

The response she had to her idea was explosive. The number has since been upped to #26Acts to include the teachers as well as the kids.

Her Twitter feed is now filled with people around the world--not just in the US--doing amazing, surprising, heartbreakingly kind things for complete strangers, all in memory of the teachers and children killed. I highly recommend reading her Twitter feed, it will restore your faith in humanity:

If you want to participate in #26Acts on Twitter, do it! It's not too late, it's still going strong.

I thought that the origami doves fit well when I did them last year, so I'm doing it again and leaving 26 of them in various sizes around town today.

Since there is still some leftover snow on the ground and everything is pretty much wet through, some will be hidden in little brightly colored plastic Easter eggs for people to find.

The #26Acts movement basically asks people to do something positive for others--random acts of kindness.  My take on it is not political and is simply meant as a small, uplifting moment that just maybe will bring a smile to someone's face when they need it most, and encourage them to pay it forward.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Assistant For Today Will Be...

I'd just gotten started on decorating the tree when Sugar, my mostly-blind, ancient, buff laced Polish hen, insisted on helping to string the lights.

She climbed right in and tangled the wires, darn it.

I told her she was getting too many yellow lights in one spot...she got pretty exasperated with me for interfering with her project.

Sugar is quite, quite happy with us for bringing an entire tree into the house just for her.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Yes, That Is EXACTLY What You Think It Is...

Of course I had a Christmas tree in my bathtub today, doesn't everyone?

I actually think it improved the look of that bathroom, which as you can see I haven't gotten around to repainting/tiling/everything else yet.

The tree is in the bathtub because I've learned the hard way that Christmas trees require a good hosing out before being allowed to enter the living room--the amounts of mud, gravel, straw, sticks and other road grunge I've hosed out of the things over the years would consitute a small landfill.  Not to mention *ahem* living things, mainly spiders.  Yeah, I know, there is a cute little tradition that spiders in your holiday tree are 'good luck'.  Well, they can go bring their good fortune to someone not so deadly sensitive to spider bites as I, thank you.  I'll stick with four leaf clovers and finding pennies on the sidewalk.  I'm just glad that there were no freeze-dried critters in there that returned to life like zombie TV dinners.

Back to the Christmas tree in the bathtub.

Two nights ago when we went Christmas tree hunting we'd had a good snow followed by several days of subfreezing temps, so every tree lot we looked at had wonderful frozen tannenbaum sarcophagi stacked up like hard, green cigars.  It was a balmy 9 degrees, so there was no unwinding the string and checking for a good tree this year, nosiree.  It was grab a likely frozen candidate, drag that conifer entombed in permafrost back home and hope for the best.  This one was a triangular shape that steadfastly refused to thaw for an entire day.

So today when it was at it's warmest--around 27 degrees--and there was absolutely no hope of running the garden hose without risking burst pipes and a really ice encrusted tree, we opted for the next best thing--drag the tree into the bathtub and hose it out there.

I fully expected this entire safari to evolve into a typical event for us involving several cascading mini-disasters, all of which would be disgustingly ridiculous and humiliating.  To my surprise everything went smoothly though, and tonight the tree is ensconced in the living room, slowly thawing out and unfurling the rest of the way.

I fully expect the other shoe to drop and something dumb to happen, this is too good an opportunity for fate to pass up.

Found Origami In The 21st Century

My revamp of my 'Found Origami' site is finally complete and the new look is uploaded, yay!

I hope to God it works on everyone's browsers and devices.  It was certainly one damned PITA struggle working out the kinks, although I learned a lot in doing it, and it's always fun to learn new things and expand on what you already knew.

Next will be the chicken site, which is already under way but is MUCH larger than the origami site and promises to be the big boss battle.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ghost Birds!

So last night into today the snow has been falling, sometimes with great force and a little too much malignance to suit me, thankyouverymuch.  But overnight we got a couple of inches of it, and when we got up, the local birds had been by.

We normally spread bird food on and under this table, the quail had come by and roughed up the lawn hunting for goodies.

The front porch was full of tracks, including those from a little one-legged quail we often see.  His track is the one with the drag mark from his leg stump, he hops to get around and does fine.  You can see the tracks from a two-legged quail nearby.

A sparrow had also hopped along the porch.

...and then taken off.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

An Evening Out!

So this evening, just after dark, the town had scheduled an outdoor concert/fireworks show at one of the local parks.

There is 2 inches of snow on the ground, it was 13 degrees outside and rapidly getting colder, with our next really cold storm expected tomorrow.

We went anyway, just like a bunch of other damned fools.  It was fun.

Some forward-thinking soul had placed 6 big 55 gallon drums lit with roaring bonfires here and there in the audience area, so we all cheerfully stood warming our hands with our feet in freezing slush denying that we were cold in any way.  There was a huge horse-drawn sleigh giving free rides and hot coffee, soup, cocoa and popcorn in abundance.

Husband went to the rest room, got back and nonchalantly reported, 'There was a dog in there, just watching me.'  Presumably to make sure he washed his hands.

Several local kid's groups got up on the gazebo stage and sang Christmas carols, then after they were done there was a small electronic lightshow set to holiday music, done very nicely.  After THAT, it was time to spirit the horse away, since horse + 20 person sleigh+ fireworks could equal loads of runaways, panicked screaming and lawsuits.

The fireworks were very nice and once you got into it and went with the smalltown groove of red/white/blue fireworks and country music-flavored Christmas songs, was fun.

Then suddenly in the midst of the medley of songs was a decidedly punk-themed barrage of only mildy holiday-themed music...it went on for a minute, then suddenly it was back to the country stuff.  This went on for a minute, then it was BACK to the punk music.  Then back to country.  It was like a weird Battle of the Bands, holiday-style.  We all started giggling, wondering of someone was hacking the music program...

Anyway, after the fireworks it was time to go, and no one had to tell people twice since it was damned cold.  We returned home to hot soup, warm crunchy bread and a good fire to thaw ourselves out in front of.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


We had out first real snowstorm yesterday, it's cold enough that I expect it'll stick around long anough for the next storm, expected this Saturday, to add more snow to what we got yesterday.

 To say that the chickens were NOT happy with cold stuff falling from the sky goes unspoken.  This was just about half an hour after it started, we got about 3 inches in as many hours.

Although the quail out front cheerfully forged ahead and scoured the ground for seed.  I tossed fresh bird food out front, which was met with a chorus of excited little 'Urk! Urk! Urk!' noises from the unseen quail in the hedges nearby.

And the snow made pretty patterns on one of the patio tables.

By this morning, the quail trails across the front lawn were evident.

You could even see their peculiar 'run run run *hop* run run run *hop* run run run' mode of travel in deeper snow, like little fat snowplows.  Having short legs is Hell.

And the icicles on the chain link fence sparkled prettily.

Meanwhile back indoors, Pidge spent his time wisely, wearing a chunk of newspaper as a hat and cooing into it.  Because...well, that's what pigeons do and it makes him happy.


He went right back to it.  We should all be as uncomplicated to be happy with something this simple.