And the Winner is…

Two-month-old Nico isn't thrilled to get up close and personal with the Bearded One...

The results have been tabulated for the Santa Photo Caption Contest.  Caryn (mom of Nico) chose the winning caption, submitted by Annie at Six Ring Circus: Lose the beard, fatty. It’s itching my delicate baby skin.  Caryn adds: “I imagine he is saying this in a husky grumpy voice!!!”

Annie will be receiving an angel Christmas tree ornament made from recycled cookie tins by Scott McDade of The Recycling Bin.  She’s flying there as fast as she can (the angel, not Annie!)…her wings are only little!

Annie will have a beautiful angel to hang on her tree next year...photo by Scott McDade

Honourable mention goes to Monica at Monica’s Tangled Web for: And they woke me up and took me out of my comfy bed for this? Sheesh.

and

Jess at Jess Witkins’ Happiness Project for: What did I want for Christmas? To play with my thumbs! But no, instead, I get more Christmas pajamas with the mitten hand arms!!!

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest…I hope all my friends and relatives have an amazing Christmas!  I will leave you with a much more contented picture of little Nico:

"Outfits with ears make me happy!"

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‘Twas The Sunday Before Christmas*…

* With apologies to all real poets everywhere…

‘Twas The Sunday Before Christmas…

Twas the Sunday before Christmas, when along Hammond River,
Wendy woke up, and started to shiver.
She stumbled downstairs.  To the furnace she went,
And discovered that the fire was spent.

Jim and Devin were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Starcraft flew through their heads.
Wendy stood in the basement as her fingers turned blue,
“Brianna!” she called.  She’d know what to do!

When on the steps, there arose such a clatter,
Wendy ran from the furnace room to see what was the matter.
It was Brianna, whacking her head with a yelp.
“Walk it off, Bri!” Wendy said. “I need your help!”

Wendy watched as Brianna expertly stacked the wood.
She set it alight and soon, the temperature was good!
They went back upstairs where there was more to be done,
Christmas baking…not even begun!

Wendy filled the canister with more flour,
Knowing she’d have to do it again in an hour.
She mixed Shirley’s Cookies with precision,
As Anna jeered in derision!

“Molasses cookies are gross!” she whined.
“You should make chocolate chip! I’ve made up my mind!”
Wendy continued to work, and sipped from her tea,
And vowed to ignore Anna’s unreasonable plea!

Soon it was time to roll them out flat,
And cut them…the girls could do that!
On to the dinner rolls for the big Christmas feast.
Wendy measured the flour and added the yeast.

She covered the dough so it could rise,
And used her sleeve to wipe dust from her eyes.
Lemon squares were next…a fluffy delight!
Wendy separated three eggs, and did it just right.

The cookies took very little time to cook,
Anna was supposed to be reading a book!
There was an occasional burst from the smoke alarm,
They turned it off…the baking would come to no harm.

Jake hovered at their feet, hoping something would fall.
When he got bored, he’d play with his ball.
Hope was in town visiting her Dad,
Otherwise, there might have been more arguing to be had.

The roll dough was bulging…Anna gave it a punch.
In only an hour, it rose quite a bunch!
An hour later, Wendy hit it again…
Soon, the rolls could be put in the pan!

The cookies were cool…the icing guns loaded.
The dining room table looked like a sprinkle factory exploded!
Anna and Brianna did the decorating thing,
Pausing only occasionally to yell, “More icing!”

The next thing on the agenda was fudge…
Wendy was so tired, she could barely budge!
She measured the sugar and melted the butter,
As she searched for the can opener, she started to mutter…

Opener found…she punched two holes in the tin,
Measured the milk and poured it all in.
Two pots boiling on the stovetop,
Chocolate and brown sugar…Wendy was ready to drop!

At last she was done and the baked goods arrayed,
She snapped pics for the blog, and then put them away.
But I heard her exclaim, as she turned out the light,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Molasses Cookies before decorating...

 

Dinner Rolls...

 

Lemon Squares...

 

Brown Sugar Fudge...

 

Chocolate Fudge...

 

Cookies Brianna decorated...

 

Cookies Anna decorated...

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Smiles, Soup, Santa and Silliness…

Last Wednesday night, Kaylee, Scott and Elise came over so that we could take the annual Christmas family photo.  It was past Elise’s bedtime, and we had a little difficulty getting her to cooperate!  The girls were upset that we hadn’t gotten the Christmas tree up yet…perhaps if they’d cleaned up the living room, it might have happened!  They also vetoed me wearing one of Jim’s Christmas ties!  Here’s the final product, courtesy of Jim and Photoshop:

Christmas Family Photo 2011...Back: Dad, Kaylee, Scott, Elise, Wendy, Jim. Front: Devin holding Jake, Anna, Hope, Brianna. Photo by Jim.

 

I was home nursing my infected toe again on Tuesday (it’s better now)…I happened to glance out the window and saw three deer making themselves at home near the fence to my garden.  I went outside to scare them off.  While I was there, I noticed my forgotten leek plants…four of them…standing in what was left of my ruined garden.  Since leeks are a member of the onion family, deer don’t like them!  I decided it would be a wonderful time to dig them up (the leeks, not the deer!).

Fooled by the balmy temperature (about 50 degrees F.), I was shocked to discover that the leeks did not budge when I pulled on the stalks…the ground was frozen!  Not to be deterred, I went back in the house and grabbed a big kettle of hot water, and retrieved my trusty garden fork from the garage.  I wrestled the kettle down the back steps and poured it on the earth surrounding the plants.  I plunged the sharp tines of the fork in, and began to wiggle the tool back and forth until the leek plants were loosened enough to pull out.  Three big ones and a small one…not bad!

Bucket of leeks, fresh from the garden...

 

I followed instructions from the Internet on how to clean and prepare the leeks, never having done it before!  I also took pictures, which did not turn out because the batteries in the camera were dying…the multiple rechargeables I had purchased were nowhere to be found!  I finally borrowed Anna’s camera to take this photo of the leeks after I cut them up:

Cut leeks in the measuring cup...

 

I ended up with two cups of leeks for my trouble…I decided to make vegetable soup.  Yesterday morning before I left for the bookstore, I cut up onions, carrots and potatoes, and loaded them into the Crock-Pot, along with some herbs, chicken and vegetable bouillion cubes dissolved in hot water.  We had it last night…not bad, but I’m hoping it will gain more flavour after sitting in the fridge overnight (homemade soup is usually better the second day).

This morning, I opened up my Facebook as usual, and was happy to see that my cousin, Caryn and her husband, Jaime, had taken their little boys to see Santa:

Four-year-old Alex is an old pro at this...natural charm!

 

Then, it was two-month-old Nico’s turn:

"Whatchoo talkin' about, Santa?"

 

Now it’s your turn: Come up with a caption for Nico’s visit with Santa.  The person with the winning entry will receive a handmade metal Christmas ornament made by my friend, Scott McDade, from The Recycling Bin (you probably won’t get it in time to use this year, but put it away for next year!).  Deadline for entries is Monday, December 19th.

Win one of these ornaments made from recycled cookie tins! Photo by Scott McDade.

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Yes, Virginia…You Can Write a Blog Post About Almost Anything…

Yesterday, I stayed home from the bookstore because I had a sore toe.  And because I could.  When one is not getting any money for working, it’s easy to make the decision not to go to work!

I had noticed on Tuesday that my big toe was a little sore…I attributed it to arthritis, and basically ignored it…just another bonus of being 50!  It was Wednesday night before I actually looked at it…be thankful I have chosen not to gross you out with a photo!

This is how my toe looked...and yes, I really drew this myself! Try to hide your amazement...

The skin around the base of my toenail was puffy and an angry shade of red.  The toe itself looked about 25% bigger than its sister on my left foot…not good!

Then I made the mistake of showing it to Jim, who, sweet as he is, has inherited worrying from his lovely parents!  “That looks awful!” he said.  “If I had a toe that looked like that, I’d be in BIG trouble!”  For those of you who don’t know, Jim is a Type 1 diabetic…it would be a concern for him.  But I’m not diabetic!  “If that doesn’t get better, we’d better take you to the after-hours clinic!”

I basically told him not to worry, and then spent the rest of the night doing just that…sigh…

Thursday morning, I told Jim and my dad that I was staying home because I had a sore toe and wanted to take care of it (I think my exact words to Jim were “You freaked me out about my toe, and now I’m going to stay home and soak it!”).  Dad went to his room and brought out a big bag of epsom salts for me.  He and Anna left for town without me.  Jim drove the rest of the kids to school, and went to work.  I went back to bed and slept for THREE more glorious hours!

I awakened about ten a.m., and went downstairs.  I would make my breakfast (toad in the hole) and cook my rice for supper (I was making chicken fried rice, and needed to cook the rice ahead of time) before I soaked my foot.

I put the rice on, and quickly cooked breakfast, pouring a cup a tea to drink with it.  I went into the back kitchen and retrieved a plastic ice cream bucket (luckily, one of the square ones).  I ran a couple of inches of very hot water into it, and poured in a generous bunch of epsom salts.  I was about to sit down at the computer to eat my breakfast and soak my toe, when I remembered a towel (I always forget that until after I have dunked my foot in the water!).  I grabbed one of Jake’s dog towels from the closet (old ones that are too ratty for public display), and sat down.

I poked my toe carefully into the hot water, and nearly kicked over the bucket because it was so hot!  It was at least ten minutes before it was cool enough…I took the opportunity to Google my condition while I waited…

Looking at the pictures (which I don’t recommend doing while one is eating), it appeared that I was nursing a fungal infection of my toenail.  I vaguely remembered having a problem with the same toe as a teenager in which my toenail actually cracked and part of it fell off!  Could I have been harbouring that same infection for the last 35 years?  Apparently…

Correspondents on the Internet suggested all manner of home remedies including pouring straight bleach on the toe (OWWW!) and applying Vicks Vaporub (it’s fungus, not a chest cold!).  I opted for more traditional methods like epsom salts, anbiotic and hydrocortisone creams instead.

About 2:30, Jim called to see how I was doing.  He also mentioned that Devin’s girlfriend was coming over after school…my “jammy day” turned into a “I’d better have a shower because we’re having company day”!

By the time the kids came home from school, I was clean and wearing clothes at least, having hobbled up the stairs to achieve that!  Dev’s girlfriend, K, appeared not to notice the pains I had gone to, and they went right to Devin’s room and shut the door after the obligatory “Hi” to the parental unit.  It was suppertime before I saw them again.

Note to self…hold out for the “converted” or “parboiled” rice…do not buy the regular “long grain” because you’re too cheap.  My chicken fried rice was way too mushy, and I was disappointed!  Jim ate all of his, but he used to eat “Minute Rice” and “Sidekicks” before I got hold of him!

After we ate, Jim and Brianna left for town to do some Christmas shopping and pick up Anna at cheerleading practice.  Hope and I watched the premiere of Candy Queen on the PVR (regular readers know I’m addicted to food shows).  I only watched that episode before deciding I wasn’t going to watch any more.  The “Candy Queen” was almost as much of a “princess” as her customers (and I don’t mean that in a good way!), and I didn’t think her work was that wonderful!  We opted to watch a PVR’d American Pickers after that…Dad and I enjoyed that one!

Once Jim and the other girls got home, we watched the Big Bang Theory which was also PVR’d…I don’t know what we’d do without it…love fast forwarding through the commercials!  Leonard confronted one of his childhood bullies, and Penny was exposed as being a bully herself!  Good stuff…bravo to BBT for taking on this important topic!

Before going to bed, I carefully slathered my toe with hydrocortisone cream and wrapped it in three Band-Aids.

This morning when I pulled the Band-Aids off, my toe looked much the same as it had when I’d gone to bed…however, I was happy to see a bit of blood on one of the Band-Aids…at least the medicine would be able to penetrate now.  I soaked it again while I ate my bagel, and rebandaged it.  I wore shoes to the bookstore, but replaced them with sandals once we arrived there…still pretty tender!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this exciting saga…

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How To Clean an 184-Year-Old Building…by the Employees of Cleaners ‘R’ Us

1. Arrive in your company car, which closely resembles a dark blue roller skate.  Remove your vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies from the trunk.  Slam trunk hard enough to rattle the windows of the building.

2. Trudge up the steps with your burden, and enter the building while complaining loudly to your co-worker about your aching body parts.  Ignore the sign, reading “Please close this door,” on the beautiful curved mahogany front door with leaded glass…you won’t be there long anyway.  Who cares if those people in the bookstore get cold?  The inside door also has leaded glass, and an automatic closer…do nothing to prevent it slamming.  They have that glass at Wal-Mart, don’t they?

3. Stomp up the stairs to the architect’s office.  Vacuum the carpet in the office, making sure to chip paint off the baseboards with the powerhead while making loud thumps.  Slam the office door on your way out.

4. Vacuum the stairway.  It is important never to lift the machine, but bounce it down the stairs, while bashing the powerhead into the wall repeatedly on each step.

5. Make a call on your cell phone.  You’ve worked hard…you deserve a break!  Talk loudly about something important, like what happened on the episode of Jersey Shore you watched last night.  If there are customers in the bookstore, double the volume of your voice.

6. Lift the entrance mat, and heave it out of the way, letting it drop with a thud.  Never stop chatting with your co-worker – she really wants to know the weather for Tuesday!  Using your mop, do a quick run over the tile floor, using the handle as a battering ram on the hall baseboards as you go.  Under no circumstances are you to talk to the people in the bookstore.  They’re readers…everyone knows that readers are dangerous!

7. Wash the windows in the doors, even though the leading makes them hard to see through.  Slam the door every time you come back in.

8.  Clean the bathroom.  Take the bag out of the garbage can, and don’t replace it until you’re ready to leave.  Those people can carry their used paper towels up the hallway to the store and throw them away!  Be sure to throw the door open hard enough to jangle the spring on the doorstop (bonus points for dislodging it from the wall completely)!  Don’t forget to fold the end of the toilet paper into a point!

9. Go back to your car.  Drop vacuum and cleaning supplies back in the trunk.  Slam the trunk and your car doors once again.  Drive away.  Don’t forget to come again next week!

 

Note: This satirical piece is based on my weekly experience with the company employed by the landlord to clean the building our bookstore is in…it is not intended to represent common practice for this or any other cleaner.  However, if I were paying these women, they wouldn’t be employed long!  I miss our old cleaning lady, Joanna, who was lovely…sadly, she left to go back to school!

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Has Anyone Seen My Dashboard?…or…She’s BAAACK!

The report of my death was an exaggeration.”  Mark Twain

I actually wasn’t dead, just working so much that Blogland was like Never Never Land…a place I never had time to visit.  That chapter in my life is now finished – the temporary, seven-week job turned into seven months with a somewhat disappointing ending – I didn’t get the permanent position!  However, certain facts came to light during the last month as I was training my replacement (yes – I’m that nice much of a patsy), and I’m rather glad someone else will have to deal with those “challenges” (which is corporate speak for things that are FUBARed).  I had a lovely going away party, and have made several wonderful friends.  I expect to be happily unemployed at least for the next few weeks…getting a new job in December is next to impossible!

So, WordPress has been changing things around while I’ve been gone…I really had to search to locate my Dashboard!  Once I get this post written, I hope to get around and visit all my blogging buddies and at least read their latest posts (sadly, I deleted more than 1500 unread e-mails this morning – they were stressing me out – best to start fresh!).  I’ve missed everyone so much…please forgive me if I’m ignorant of what’s been happening in your lives lately!

Okay…so in my last post, some (gulp!) four months ago, the deer had totalled my garden (it’s still completely useless, and the grass the landscapers planted in my devastated back yard isn’t growing!).  Jim and Devin have replaced the fence that was ruined, but we will definitely have to make it higher with wire, as the deer still sail over it like Olympic high jumpers (I refuse to award medals – it’s too hard to get the deer to stand still to put them around their necks!).  Ironically, to control the ballooning deer population, the powers that be in our province decided to allow hunting them with crossbows during the gun hunting season.  To protect our family and our dog, we bought multiple “No Hunting” signs at the Dollar Store and posted them around the perimeter of our (landlord’s) property.

Jim and the girls returned safely from their amusement park vacation (without me!), although there was a slight mishap which involved Hope losing $40 cash which she had placed in the cupholder of the van for “safekeeping”.  When the van door was opened near the top of Mt. Washington, the wind carried the money away (some $80 in total).  Jim scrambled down an embankment to save one $20 bill, while another two sailed over the cliff.  The last was later found by Anna on the floor of the van.  When I asked Hope why she didn’t have the money in her purse, she told me that she was afraid of being mugged: “Americans are sketchy, and they carry guns!” (please don’t take this personally…Hope’s 13, and she watches way too much Criminal Minds!).

Hope, Brianna and Anna drinking fruit smoothies at Cora's...

My granddaughter, Elise, celebrated her second birthday on September 9th.  Kaylee and Scott had a barnyard-themed party for her.

Menu for the Party

 

Elise wearing the sweater Gramma got for her...the tiara was not my purchase!

 

A few days after the party, Elise made an announcement on Facebook:

Elise has some news...

Everyone is very excited!  The new kid has some big shoes to fill…Elise is a tough act to follow!  She’s PERFECT, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her Gramma (well, maybe I am!).  I don’t know of many kids who know all of the alphabet (as well as punctuation marks), and the sound each letter makes, before their second birthday!

This is getting a little long, and I’m getting hungry for lunch…I will leave you with this amusing anecdote from a couple of weeks ago:  I was talking to a single woman friend of “a certain age” who was lamenting the difficulty of finding a suitable partner for casual “whoopee”.  “I don’t want to get married,” she said.  “I just want an occasional roll in the hay, but I don’t want to be one of those…what do you call them?…JAGUARS!”

 

 

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Herbivore Havoc, Holy Crap, and Hamlet…NEW POST!

Herbivore Havoc

"We'll just wait here until she goes in the house!" (photo by Anna)

I’m really starting to hate Bambi and his relatives…because of them, I’m not going to have any produce to put in the freezer for the winter this year.  They have feasted on all the plants from my $130 worth of organic seeds, and the seedlings that I bought to replace plants that weren’t doing very well.  The arugula and the leeks are the only things they haven’t eaten.  My total harvest so far has been three or four salads, a few meals of spinach/beet greens (before the deer got in the first time), one zucchini, and three meals of green beans/peas (I put away some 40 bags of green beans last year!).  I have fewer than 10 green tomatoes (of various sizes and varieties) that they have not discovered and devoured.  The root vegetables have virtually no leaves on them…I had hoped my rutabaga, beets, and carrots would be spared…I was wrong!

Leafless, fruitless zucchini...

Leafless pole beans...

Leafless bush beans among the weeds...they're the stick-like green and purple things...

Chewed off tomato plant...

Munched beet greens/Swiss chard...

Holy Crap

About a week-and-a-half ago, one of my Market vendors asked me to put a new product they were carrying on our website: it was billed as “The world’s most amazing breakfast cereal” and was called Holy Crap.  The cereal had been featured on CBC’s Dragon’s Den (a program where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to experts) last fall.  I read the literature, and decided to [gulp] pay the hefty $13 bag price tag (8 oz. or 225 grams) to try some.  The cereal is a mix of three organic grains and seeds: chia, hulled hemp seeds, and buckwheat, and three organic fruits: raisins, dried cranberries and apple.  It is gluten and lactose-free.  Every morning since last Saturday, I have stirred a tablespoon of Holy Crap into a container of yogurt, let it sit for five minutes, and eaten it for a mid-morning snack.  I’ve been bringing half my bag lunch home with me…I haven’t been hungry enough to eat it all.  In the evening, instead of sitting down with a bowl of chips, I’ve been eating more Holy Crap with yogurt.  Here’s the best part: I’ve been watching my considerable “muffin top” get smaller and smaller all week.  My clothes fit better!  The first bag of cereal lasted nine days.  I’m going to keep using it, and try to get Jim on to it when he gets back as well.  If I can lose weight just by eating a certain food, I’m going to keep doing it!

Holy Crap (photo from holycrap.ca)

Hamlet

Last night, Dad and I stayed in town after work to see a performance of Hamlet – one of our friends had a lead role (Claudius).  The play was being performed in a tent behind the Saint John Theatre Company’s new building on Princess Street (billed as “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot”).  We paid our money and took our seats in folding chairs.  As we waited for the performance to start, we noticed music and loud voices coming from a party in the courtyard of the building next door.  Unfortunately, it continued, getting louder and louder throughout the first act of the play.  Shakespeare is hard enough to follow when one isn’t being distracted, but actors trying to perform while competing with beer-swilling yahoos and top hits of the 1970’s was more than either of us could take.  We made our exit, vowing to contact the theatre company to see if we could come back and see the whole show without disturbance (at no cost) next week.  The acting was wonderful, especially the man playing Hamlet – he showed how loopy the Danish prince truly was!

I sent a message on Facebook to the director of the play, and she is graciously providing free tickets for the Tuesday night performance…there’s an 80% chance of rain that night…perhaps that will keep the partiers indoors!  I look forward to seeing Act 1 again, and Act 2 for the first time!

Jim and the kids are back Tuesday from their vacation adventure…looking forward to seeing their pictures!

Have a good week…I hope to read some of your blog posts in my spare time…

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