Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I just realized how long it's been since I posted here. I'm no less grateful when I don't post. I was busy, for which I am very grateful.

I made my Father a wonderful gluten-free, sugar-free cherry pie on Sunday - from fresh cherries. A store had them on sale for only $2.99/lb., so we took advantage. Cherries and cherry pie are Dad's favorites. (Along with chocolate-covered cherries, which he can't eat anymore.) Well, when Dad and my sister bought the cherries, they went overboard. I made a big pie and had tons left.

Faced with another 4 or so pounds of cherries to cook with, plus another pound for eating, I had to come up with a new baking plan. This afternoon, I made cherry brownies and chocolate-cherry cupcakes (both gluten-free, but not sugar-free). Those brownies are to die for. (I used the Bob's Red Mill Brownie Mix Seriously, I don't know how something that good happened. The cupcakes aren't nearly as good.

Cherries are a taste of summer in the winter. They are sweet, juicy, and full of flavor. Wherever they came form and whoever grew them did good work on them.

(This is a picture from the web. My pies never have that nice a crust or mint leaves garnishing the plate.)

Can she bake a cherry pie,
Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Can she bake a cherry pie,
Charming Billy?
She can bake a cherry pie,
Quick's a cat can wink her eye.
She's a young thing,
And cannot leave her mother.

While I might not be a young thing, unable to leave my mother (who died in 2004, so seems a moot point), I can make a cherry pie. And, if you see me in the next couple of weeks and my fingernails look a little strange or dirty, they are just stained with cherry juice from all the pitting.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Unintentional Seasonal Humor

I love Christmas lights, although I didn't put any up this year - actually, my side of the street is on Christmas light hiatus for 2008. However, my father's neighbor has a joyful and fairly tasteful display, a few bushes wrapped in lights and 5 inflated things.

Inflatable Christmas decorations are usually cute, but don't make me laugh. Not this year. The animated reindeer helping Santa into and out of a chimney is darn cute, but this week it ventured into the realm of unintentionally funny.

It rained. Sure, not news if you're in Portland, OR, but in Phoenix, we notice rain. The first day after it stopped raining, Dad's neighbor turned on the lights and the reindeer/Santa had slipped and stopped moving as it normally did. It looked like the reindeer and Santa were wrestling - well, more like the reindeer was throttling Santa, but I was trying to be kind. Thanks for the laugh!

The neighbors apparently noticed, because the next day the Santa and the reindeer were upright, but not moving. So, instead of wrestling, it looked like Santa and the reindeer were dancing. (I'm really hoping the reindeer on the roof is Vixen.)

Santa and the reindeer are completely functional again, but to me, their relationship will never be the same. Is the reindeer helping Santa from hate (wrestling), love (dancing), instinct? I'll never really know.

On a humorous side note - the big Frosty the Snowman, a.k.a. the creepiest "Christmas" character ever, was also a small victim of the same disaster. After looking like he'd fallen down drunk for a couple of days, he's back up, but because a light broke that gift he's carrying looks like a tie-top garbage bag. Heaven only knows what that creepy snowman is carrying in that Hefty bag, but it probably isn't good.

Still, both roof-top characters and their weather-related injuries have made me laugh a lot this week.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Hymns

I love Christmas. I love music. I love Christmas music.

At the risk of being totally un-cool, I confess that I prefer Christmas hymns. And, I really enjoy seemingly obscure Christmas hymns from England. I don't know if they are obscure in England, but they aren't well known in the US. Just listening to the songs, however, I'd believe a few of them are not sung on every street corner in London.

On the whole, I like non-sacred Christmas songs also, but they don't really elicit much of an emotional response in me, unless I really dislike the song. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree is fun, but Frosty the Snowman is a bit creepy and I won't listen to the song. That BandAid/Live Aid song is stupid. Did no one ever take elementary school geography? Africa is equatorial and largely in the southern hemisphere. They would have huge problems if it snowed at Christmas.

The best part about Christmas music is that you can sing it out loud, in public, to the neighbors, or with a store's PA system. No one looks at you like you are nuts when you're singing it, because it's Christmas music, which is meant to be sung. Christmas songs are sung with more volume, gusto, and joy at church. Christmas music unites people as no other music does. It cuts across generations, genders, and denominations.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Time with Kids

I got to babysit for my brother last night. He has 2 children - Hunter (7) and Jordyn (1 week shy of turning 5). It is always refreshing to hang out with the kids for an evening. Kids let you just be who you are and take you at face value. They just want to know that you care about them.

Our rousing evening started off with playing a few rounds of Pokemon. It was a first for me and I have no idea of that the rules are or if we used any of the official rules, but you have to trust a 7 year old to know how to play Pokemon. (It is kind of curious that he has a deck that has a lot of high valued cards and kicked our butts in every game. Hmmmm.) I can knock "Play Pokemon" off my life's to-do-before-I-die list.

We followed the Pokemon game with dinner. Noting that my brother is a Le Cordon Bleu certified chef, you'd think there'd be something good to eat in his house. Nope. Don't go to his house to babysit and expect a gourmet meal. The Kraft Mac and Cheese was supplanted by Chef Boyardee - Spaghetti and Meatballs (nephew ate almost the entire can by himself) and princess Spaghetti-O's. I'm so grateful I ate before going. I think I'm too old to cheerfully ingest Spaghetti-O's - even with/for the kids.

Go Fish and Crazy 8's finished our card games. We had decks of kiddy cards. Jordyn is good recognizing 1-10, but 11 and 12 seem to still be hazy in her knowledge base. My family has a long history of playing card games. Grandpa Dewey loved to play cards and it has flowed down the generations. (No poker, though.) A new generation of card players is in the making. A Go Fish disaster was averted when I pointed out that we all had the same number of matches, so we all win! Kids are so easy to work sometimes.

I was introduced to "Fat Booger, the Blanket Monster." I'm pretty sure "Fat Booger" doesn't get to show up when Mom and Dad are around. I'm just the aunt, so I don't have to be as strict about them abusing the house and it's furnishings as the parents. As my brother said once, "I don't want to know."

I also got invited to a tea party. I haven't been to a tea party since I was the one throwing it. Mormon kids hosting tea parties- anyone else see the slight irony? Soon enough she'll be throwing watery kool-aid parties. (Another tradition passed through the generations. I guess as a people, we've mastered jello salads, but not the appropriate kool-aid to water ratio.) It all sounds so boring when you aren't there, but as you know, when you are with kids, it's fun to see their little personalities and hear their thoughts. They don't hold back and they don't edit. It's instant, honest feedback and a lot of fun.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Good Deals

I was at the supermarket today. Actually, I was at the bank in the supermarket, but why split hairs? I finished my banking and decided to see how much milk costs this week - $2.37 - not bad.

Miraculously, I found the reduced price bakery rack. I can't even begin to speculate why the rack was in the dairy area and not the bakery area, but I don't run the store, so I have to trust that it was due to some great supermarket marketing insight and not a random decision.

I've been looking for the bakery rack for a couple of months. I found it, shopped from it for a couple of weeks and then it disappeared. I was wondering what had happened to the rack and was starting to get paranoid about the store figuring out that I was only shopping from the reduced bakery rack and took it away. Apparently, they didn't take it away so much as they hid it from me.

As I finish eating a "Triple Chocolate Gourmet Cookie" for which I paid $1.49 for 10 instead of $3.49, I must say that


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gotta Love the Geeks

I spent today updating my website. I'm not a complete moron when it comes to websites and I've even created a couple, but my own hosting company sometimes makes updating items difficult - or at least the navigation is difficult. I was at a total stop a couple of times.

I must give props to the help desk people. Web support was done by web chat, which works really well for me. My technicians (I chatted 3 or 4 times on different issues) fixed my problems in short order and it all works right by some miracle.

BTW - you can now order gift certificates for Christmas, so give the gift of time.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Winter Wonderland

I hear it's snowing in the northern areas of the world - or, if not actually snowing, it's cold. I grew up in Massachusetts, so I remember cold weather and snow. I used to have to stand at the school bus stop when it was 10 degrees below zero. I used to have snow suits, hats, mittens/gloves, wool socks, boots, ice skates, sleds - you know - all of the required winter gear.

The weather people tell us here that our temperatures are going to drop. Of course, that means that the daily highs will be in the mid to low 70's. Brrrr! When I was a child, I mocked my Arizona cousins when I'd hear they needed winter coats, because it was only going to get up to 60 degrees. In my defense, I was wearing shorts and t-shirts when we got to 60, so I didn't understand how they could be THAT cold.

I live in Phoenix now, so I kind of understand how they could be cold. My house is at 75 degrees as I write and my toes are frozen. It's all relative.

Above is a picture from my front yard, taken yesterday. Yep, my roses are blooming.