Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Santa brought me a freezer!

Okay, technically I've had this since the day after Thanksgiving.  Dad and I went out to Home Depot, used his veteran's discount (10% off anything, all the time.  I later found out that Lowes does it too, they just don't advertise the fact) and a Black Friday sale to get me a little chest freezer.

I washed it out with baking soda and water a couple of times, but couldn't get rid of the "new freezer" smell.  I could only air it out when I was home.  I had visions of leaving the top up and going out, only to come home and find that the cat had tried to leap up there, fallen in, had the lid close behind her and suffocate her.  Who's a worry wort?  This girl!

I finally plugged it in yesterday.  Bought some stuff for my little New Year's party-of-one and put the frozen things in there (mozzarella sticks, jalapeno poppers, things like that) along with a box of baking soda specially designed for fridge and freezer use.  Have you seen these?  They have tear-away sides with fine mesh underneath them, so that all the funk can get right in that box.  Nifty!

In other news, this may be the last picture I take for a while with my Lumix camera.  I have now lost the replacement battery charger, which I bought to replace the original battery charger that came with the camera.  Here's the kicker--they are both somewhere in this house, dang it!  Last time I saw the replacement charger was when I juiced up the battery right before Thanksgiving.  It must have been stowed somewhere in my cleaning frenzy.  I did the same thing with the cord that connects the iPod to the computer.  Found that this morning.  Sigh.  I know where to get another replacement, but I want to do a more thorough search of this place before I give up on it completely.

So until then, let me leave you with a couple of pictures I took over Christmas:

The top of my sister's tree.  I think my aunt gave her that a few years ago, but I may have just made that up.

Same tree, a bit farther down.
Daisy, in a rare moment of rest, next to a sign inviting Nature to do her worst. Two days later the Eastern seaboard got smacked with at least a foot of snow.  We got a fraction of that, but the wind was fierce.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You'll need a tray.

Warning.  The f-bomb gets dropped throughout these videos, so you might not want to play them at work or around your kids.

Ran across this a while ago, loved it, bumped into it again recently and thought I would share:

Eddie Izzard as interpreted by Legos.  After looking at this one, I found a ton more:

Cake or death:

Not that Eddie isn't fun all by himself:

Friday, December 17, 2010

It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark

I've decided that next year's big project is crossing off #37 on my Life List: handmade Christmas.  Every person on my Christmas list will receive a present handmade by me.  There will be other things going on, I'm sure, but #37 is the big goal right now.

To this end, I've started compiling a list of who's getting what.  I haven't sorted that out completely just yet, but there's one project I know I'm doing, and for whom.  In the next 5 minutes I'm going to start casting on stitches to work this wrap with this yarn (color #2, fawn) for my aunt.

And no, I haven't forgotten about/given up on the sweater.  I need something portable to work on for the next week or so, though, as I make my way to and from my sister's house.  This project will do nicely.

I know, I know.   Isn't it a skosh early to be thinking about Christmas 2011?  We haven't even gotten to Christmas 2010, for pity's sake. Yes.  Yes, it is.  But I just bit off a very large piece of something, and it's going to take a while to chew it thoroughly.  I have an awful lot to do; might as well get started.

There will be updates throughout the year (with pictures) except for things being made for people who read this blog (I'm looking at you, Mom.  And you, Ditter).  Don't want to spoil the surprise.

Wish me luck.  I hope I don't drive myself crazy.  Though that might be fun to watch too, huh?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas baking for my colleagues

First I got organized:

Then I got busy:


Peanut butter cups (1st half of batch)
Raspberry bar cookies

Peppermint meringues

At some point I went out and bought maraschino cherries, only to come home and find I didn't need them:

My cabinet shelf isn't really this bowed. It's the angle I was holding the camera. I hope.
Then I got ambitious:

I call these negative chocolate chip cookies: white chips in chocolate dough.

Then I got tired, and didn't make cookies out of the dough in the picture above.  I abandoned my original plan, which was to give two types of cookie to each person based on what I'd learned of their preferences over the past few years.  Instead, I decided to give everyone some of each.

And tomorrow I get to play Santa.  Provided I don't trip on my way to the bus, land on my packages, and create 6 containers of tasty crumbs.

No tree this year

And this cartoon should explain why:

I think I need to wait until the Gray Fuzzy One is just a little bit older than 1 and 1/2 before I attempt a Christmas tree.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas season, Delilah, and Sophie

Last year, Delilah's failing health made it really hard to get into the Christmas spirit, or stay there very long when I did get there.

An example: all throughout Christmas Day, I kept forgetting to open the contents of my stocking (Yes.  At forty(mumble) I still get a stocking at Christmas. What?  Don't you?).  After dinner, I went to the room the cat and I were sleeping in so that I could fuss over her a bit, and to get her to maybe eat some canned salmon I'd bought for her.  She ate a little, then went back under the futon to lay on the heating vent.  I went out into the kitchen to put the plate in the sink and bumped into my mom.

"You never opened this," she said, holding up my bulging stocking.

I burst into tears, said something like "I can't do this anymore!" and fled back to the bedroom.  That was it, I was done.  No more Christmas, please.

She and my sister followed me, let me sob it out, fussed over Delilah some (she came out to see what all the noise was about, I think, and to see who had come to visit) and eventually did get me to open my stocking.

I never got any cookies baked for the same reason.  The thought would cross my mind to do it, then the cat would come into the room with her poor little face, hop up into my lap, and I'd decide to just stay put.  One time she climbed up my chest and stretched out, chin on my shoulder, purring in my ear.  I sat contorted for her maximum comfort for over an hour, tears streaming down my face, thinking this is probably the last time we'll do this.  I was right.

 It took a lot of effort to do what I considered the bare minimum.  I'm surprised people got presents at all, the way I was feeling.

This year is better.  I'm glad Sophie's here, because otherwise I'd be doing a lot of moping and remembering last year--more than what I'm doing right now, that is.  Sophie's interested in all the the goings-on.  She inspects the results of every shopping trip, and I fully expect her to supervise present-wrapping when I start that.

Just as soon as I post this I'll start making cookies.  A lot of these first batches are getting wrapped up and given away.  The raspberry bar cookie from 2 years ago is making an appearance. So is a peppermint meringue cookie that someone I work with really, really likes.  I'm going to make a peanut butter cup cookie that uses itty bitty muffin tins.  I'm going to try biscotti too, and that means the very first thing I have to do is toast almonds.  Well.  The very first thing I have to do is look up how to toast almonds, because they don't give instructions in the recipe.  Google, here I come.

If I don't run out of steam, I'll be trying a molasses cookie recipe that I found through the Pioneer Woman's Cookie Week.  As soon as I check for my cookie cutters, that is.  I think I have Christmas ones.  I used to.  Maybe.  I know I gave some cookie cutters away, but I don't think it was all of them.  Ah, well.  I can always use the mouth of a glass, right?  I'm also making something called chocolate-covered cherry cookies, but not today; I forgot to buy the cherries. 

After I finish making the ones I'm giving as gifts, I'll go make a second set to take to my sister's.  There will be more raspberry bars (last time I brought them Ditter told me they tasted like an Entenmann's raspberry danish.  For those not in the know, that is high praise indeed), those chocolate cherry things, and the molasses cookies (by then I will have either found or bought new cutters).

Wish me luck!  Some of these I've never tried before.  I'll photograph the results.

Edited to add:  Didn't have to go as far as the Internet to find out how to toast almonds. There are instructions on the package.  Yay!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Missed me by *that* much

Every year my old place of employment (which I've affectionately nicknamed "Hell") invites my fellow escapee and me to their holiday luncheon.  Every year I react like someone left a dead fish on my desk.

I've often said (and I may have said so here already, but I'm too lazy to go check) that I can map the decline and fall of the morale in my old department based on the holiday celebrations.

We used to have a party in someone's house.  We'd get all dressed up for it.  There'd be food--potluck, but being a college town, it was funky potluck.  Mexican hot chocolate, olivada and crusty French bread, curried chick peas, things like that.  There would be music--Jimmy would bring his keyboard, Max his guitar, and those of us who could would sing along with whatever they played.  People's kids would run around and play together.  There was a gag gift exchange.

Then one year the gift exchange was dropped, as it was deemed "silly."  The next year the instruments stayed home.  The one after that instead of an evening in someone's home it was lunch out somewhere one day during the work week.  Then a few years later it was a potluck in the staff room.  Then it was cookies by the coffee pot.  Then it was bagels at the staff meeting, and bring your own coffee.

Since the department split into two, the one group has revived the go-out-to-lunch thing. The other, the one I worked for until I moved to where I am now, holds a luncheon in their staff room.  It's semi-potluck, meaning they all cook but guests from outside the department don't.  They invite a lot of people, and most of them come.  This group does know how to throw a party, I'll say that for them.   If I had never worked there I might actually want to go.   As it is, I notice things that make me uncomfortable: 
  • The people they invite are generally people who can do things for them: deans, associate deans, department heads, people in other departments with whom who they think they have "special relationships." 
  • The conversation always wends its way around to work somehow.  They always have an agenda, an angle, are looking for information and a way to push what they want forward.  
  • They may be friendly and chatty with their guests, but they don't have much to say to each other.  If you see them all together and they don't know you're there, they all sit silently munching, their eyes on their plates or the floor.
This year I have a prior commitment so I won't be able to attend.  I did a little dance of joy when I saw that on my calendar.  Otherwise, even though I really don't want to I'd have to go.  Unless I suddenly [cough, cough] got sick [feels forehead] right before the party [ohh, my throat's so scratchy!] and had to go home.