Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mapeline Dreams

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merrry Mapleine! I got this box of the long-desired maple flavoring from my friend Pamela-la-la.

And then...

I got this box from my cousin Deets! And THEN...

I got THIS box...

And THIS box from my cousin Blissful Morning.
My peeps are awesome! They have enabled me to ruin many, many batches of fudge and fondant this Holiday Season!
Thank You All and God Bless Us, Everyone!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thieves and Laundresses

The day before Thanksgiving was my usual Wednesday Laundry day. I threw in a load of whites in the laundry room at the end of my building. As I was coming back up the walk, I saw this girl standing by the mailboxes and she seemed agitated or drugged or both, so I asked her if there was anything I could do to help her.

I said it in my best authoritative voice so that "May I Help You?" really sounded more like "You had better feel me depressing your pretensions and get out of here."

She answered that she was trying to get her sister's mail out of box #8 but that someone had punched the lock out. She was so distressed and I could see the telltale signs of Methamphetamine use in her face. I also saw that she had a very nice linen fabric scarf wound around her neck and one of the nicest big satchel style cloth bags at her feet. Because I was looking at her bag, I didn't really take a good look at the rest of her.

I told her that she should call the Landlord and he could get her mail for her, or talk to her sister.

I then left and came upstairs to grab my other basket of clothes. I noticed she was still down there, banging around at the mailboxes and muttering. I had to sign for a package from UPS and then I went downstairs...and immediately perceived that the laundry room door was standing wide open.

Yes, the Crank Ho in the nice scarf and the lovely satchel had stolen my load of whites from the washing machine. She made off with pounds of white granny panties, size XXL, half a dozen pair of very soft nice cotton socks, washcloths, bras, white cotton feed sack dishtowels and my very lovely white silk kimono with the embroidery, which was inside a very nice mesh zippered laundry bag for delicates.

Gone, all gone. I came inside to call the landlord and the police and noticed that she had thoroughly trashed the mailboxes. She had punched the locks out of them and torn the mail into shreds and stuffed it willy-nilly into the cubbyholes for flyers and magazines.

Because this was no longer a robbery in progress, I called the non-emergency police phone number and got...of all East Indian gentleman dispatcher.

Let us pause for a moment to consider the outsourcing of our police department phone calls to people who know English as a Second Language. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: I am calling to report a theft of laundry and a vandalism of the apartment complex mailboxes.

He: Did you see who did it?

Me: Yes, a woman with a Meth face, she was about 30 but looked 60, wearing a scarf around her neck and carrying a large, paisley cloth satchel in pinks and oranges with leather and cloth gusset handles.

He: You say she had scars on her neck?

Me: SCARVES, I tell you, SCARVES not scarfs.

He: And you say she could be anywhere between 30 and 60?

Me: No, I mean she had a Meth Face. You know, a Meth Face? She had that Meth User look to her. The cop will know what I mean.

He: So we have a female between 30 and 60 with scars around her face?


Suddenly, my brilliant brain kicked in: I have been an Indiaphile all my life. I watch Bollywood movies and Bollywood music videos. I wear Salwar Kameez. I own some sari's. What we had here was a translation problem, and I knew the exact word I needed to exchange for scarves.

Me: A Dupatti! She was wearing a Dupatti wound around and around her neck.

He: A DUPATTI! I understand! She had scars on her neck and was wearing a Dupatti to cover them!


Somewhere out there is a skinny crank ho in a duppati scarf toting around my wet underpants in a very lovely cloth satchel.

The police will never spot her because she does not have scars on her neck.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What To Do While the Guys Watch Football

What do you do if it's Thanksgiving afternoon and you don't watch football?

The food has been eaten, the dishes washed and put away and since I didn't have a turkey this year, I didn't need to take a nap! Amazing what that lack of triptophan can do!

I got out my supplies and made my own Christmas Wrapping Paper, that's what I did!

I started with leftover packing paper from my near-moving-experience last year, and I thought I would use it as a somewhat crinkled base for my design.

I used a tessellation stamp I have that always reminded me of a Christmas ornament.

Thanks to the Dollar Tree, I had some glitter glue to use.

I made a few sheets with different color ink and different color glitter. I had to drape it all over the furniture to wait for the glitter to dry. I did some with glitter and some without, and I like it without better, which is a good thing because it took forever for it to dry.

Here is a sneak peak at the results:
I like to use fabric ribbon that I make myself by trimming off the selvages of fabric. I think it looks neat! Because I like 'real 'ribbon not that plastic stuff, I get a bag of assorted ribbons from Hancock's Fabrics. They are usually a couple bucks for a huge bag of all kinds of different silky and grosgrain ribbons. Usually a bag will last me more than a year.

As you can see, I don't spend a lot of money on Christmas, but I get so much joy and glee out of making my own stuff. Luckily the friends and loved ones that receive these hand-crafted packages love those things as much as I do.

Time to stuff on leftovers! Happy Thanksgiving Afternoon!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I don't know about you all, but around here they seem to have totally squeezed out Thanksgiving in a mad rush to get us all started on Christmas Shopping a little earlier.

Back before they had completely sold out the Halloween Stuff, as a matter of fact!
Two full weeks ago, the local Christian station, "the Fish" had started 24 hour a day Christmas Music instead of their usual programming.

I guess since Thanksgiving is the tradition of Giving Thanks and Family Gatherings and can't conceivably be drummed up into a Commercial Enterprise, it's not worth the bother as far as major marketing companies are concerned.

If they could just tweak it so Americans would start calling it Thanksgifting! It could then take it's place with the Big, BIG BIG holidays like Easter, Christmas and now Halloween.

Instead, we are just left with sappy old illustrations by Normal Rockwell and that annoying cartoon turkey you see here and there. You know, the one wearing the Pilgrim Hat and carrying an old blunderbuss.

Still, there is no denying that we get the Holiday Spirit revved up and good things start to happen.

Such as the local Channel 3 having a turkey drive for the food bank, and asking for 500 turkeys to be donated. And getting 5000 instead! No kidding! I swung by there on Monday when they started giving them away and I saw easily 3000 people standing in line. The line went totally around the block and halfway down another block. The cops were there to block traffic because of the long lines.

I decided to forgo getting in the back of the line because I assessed the situation and realized that by the time I found parking, I'd be person number 5001.

No turkey for YOU!

Well, I don't have enough money to buy a turkey and that's all there is to that.


I was at the Safeway yesterday picking up a bag of potatoes and exchanging pleasantries with the check-out clerk. She asked if I was all ready for Thanksgiving and I said, everything but the turkey which I can't buy this year.

The person standing behind me said, "I'll buy you a turkey."

Really, I'm not kidding. The person behind me bought me a turkey, paid for it on the spot and told me to go pick it out.

I gave Thanks for that!!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Give Thanks! Gift Thanks!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back Before the Microwave Was Invented

I was cooking a hunk of meat and some fried potatoes yesterday when my friend Jeff came for a visit. He wanted food which is a request dear to my heart so I made more potatoes. As I was chopping the potatoes somehow the name Mr. Potato Head came up and Jeff, recoiling with true or mock horror said, “NO! He makes me feel so SAD! Look what they did to him! They cut off his BODY! They left him with only a HEAD! And they stuck those little prosthetic legs onto his HEAD!!! With nothing but little plastic HANDS sticking out where his EARS should be!!!!”

I was laughing so hard, I could feel his compassion for the amputee Mr. Potato Head. But it didn’t stop him from eating the rest of the Potato Family.

I always loved Mr. Potato Head. I think that was one of the genius toy ideas of my generation. Some thousands of people, I would suspect, don't know that we used a REAL potato for the Head of Mr. Potato Head. Yes, we used to PLAY WITH POTATOES!!!

It was the whole point of the toy. When you use a real potato you can stick the ears on anywhere you want and the mouth around to the back...the combinations are endless and FUN. Now, everyone thinks of Mr. Potato Head from Toy Story and he's made of plastic and there is only one hole for his mouth, eyes, etc; With no room for variation or creativity, it makes it kind of a dumb toy, doesn't it?

I also loved Cootie. How I LOVED cootie!!! We could entertain ourselves for an hour playing for body parts to assemble a Cootie and win.

And nobody died in those games except I guess the jury is still out about the body of Mr. Potato head.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lottery Dreams

I think everyone ponders what it would be like to win the lottery, even if they don't buy a ticket.

My idea of winning the lottery would be not to tell a single soul, and then set about doing amazingly good deeds to the people I think badly need a good deed done!

And then I would buy a couple of houses so I could decorate them. Then I'd buy a couple more. Because decorating is my Sign!

When I was standing in line at the food bank last week, talking to the girl who said the stale bread baguettes were like baseball bats, we discussed the topic of winning the lottery.

And she said if she won the lottery she would buy a cul-de-sac. I thought that was very novel!

I had to ask her why she would buy a cul-de-sac and she explained that she would give all the houses in the cul-de-sac to her family and that way they could all live together and have picnics and barbeque's and parties in the middle of the cul-de-sac and then afterwards all go home to their own houses.

I thought that was so wonderful! And different from anything I would have thought up on my own. What are your Lottery Dreams?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Watching the Defectives

I think instead of saying I was going to start watching for defectives I should have said I was going to start looking for 100 dollar bills.
Because talk about manifestations! I managed to manifest 3 really annoying defectives in my own life right away.
First, I got a little tape applicator that lays down a line of dry adhesive for card making. It is totally defective! The tape is dry and has no sticky on it at all! It's worse than a very old post-it note. (and you know how annoying those are--they never stick on ANYTHING, has anyone but me ever noticed that?)
Then, the nozzle on my bottle of natural non aerosol orange room spray got stuck in the down position and so it's totally defective.
AND!!! This is the worst! I saw this wonderful recipe portfolio from Lang (the people who make all the calendars that are upscale and take up aisle after aisle in the bookstore around this time of year). I wanted it sooo badly! I had just finished my own Blair Recipe Project and quickly realized that the small binder I had used wasn't big enough to hold all the recipes I really NEED much less the ones that I accumulate all the time. It was only 14 dollars but I had to save up and use my birthday money and wait until I had enough for the postage (which was such a rip-off at 8 bucks for postage and handling. How much handling do they plan on doing to it?)

After 3 or 4 long weeks, it arrived last night and I was so happy! Isn't it pretty? Well, I opened the book to discover THIS:
The pages had been torn out of the ring binder! Before it ever even got to me!
Here is a close up:
And here:

All I could picture is that one of the Handler's whom I just paid 8 dollars to had dropped the binder on the floor and the weight of it had torn out all the pages. Well! Talk about defective!

So I literally LOST SLEEP over this! I had to wait until customer service opened up at some weird time like NOON, back east on the coast, and all night long I obsessed over what to say and how to say it. In my mind I planned every word and lay out my careful battle plan of how I was flat-out going to have to REFUSE to pay for that handling business! I had read in the fine print that they will refund your money but not the shipping and handling charges.

You know I've said this for years: if you stuff something into an envelope with bubble wrap and take it to the post office and mail it, it costs about a nickels worth of time and about 3 bucks in postage. And yet these places already charging exorbitant prices for their merchandise have the audacity to charge almost 10 bucks for 'shipping and handling'.

I really hate confrontations of this sort. You are ALWAYS WRONG if you are the customer, and there is always some little piss ant on the other end of the line and you can hear him gloating at your frustration.

However. Not this time! When I called this morning a perfectly reasonable person answered and when I told her I was calling about a defective item she was instantly VERY sorry to hear it! Oh, NOOooo! She said! I am SO SORRY that happened. We will ship you out a new item right away and you don't have to return the ruined one."

@@@Boing!!!!!@@@@ I couldn't believe it. She just simply took my name and addy again and asked for a daytime phone number just in case and said it would be sent out standard mail by the end of today.

I was so stunned and happy I went right in and baked some cornbread!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I was washing this 96 year old woman's hair this morning and she said to me as she was submerged in bubbles, "You know those commercials that say if you have an erection lasting more than 4 hours?"

I'm sure my hands paused in action for a moment but then I recovered and said..."Yes."

"Wouldn't he be bludgeoning things?"

I don't know what's scarier. That or the realization that this means he is effectively without a functioning brain for those 4 hours.

She likes to tell long stories and one of hers features a former caregiver who had 2 defective children. "Not Down Syndrome" she tells me, "But defective."

I've decided to keep my eyes peeled for defectives every since. Because I can't wait to use that word in a sentence!

Today was a good day for defectives because I had to go to the food bank. I'm out of money and food stamps until the 5th of next month so unless I want to eat peanut butter for the next 17 days I thought I should make the trip.

I am always astonished and disgusted at the kinds of things people decide to donate to a food bank. And I was not alone in this sentiment because the lady behind me kept muttering, "Please don't let it be bread! Please don't let it be bread!"

I knew of what she spoke! Last time I went I came home with 4 or 5 grocery bags stuffed with very hard loaves of French Bread. She and I started chatting about the dreaded overabundance of stale bread.

She said, "I told my boyfriend I come to the food bank for food and walk away with a bag of baseball bats!"

I told her if I got any milk she could have mine. I did get milk but I also got 4 loaves of bread. It appeared that she got about 8 loaves of bread. I also got out-of-date yogurt and a package of something in Spanish. It was a picture of some mussels and they were covered in chocolate sauce. The package which was one of those cardboard kind like juice boxes, said, "Mole!"

That is so defective. Who puts mole sauce on mussels for one thing. Who EATS mole sauce for another. I also got about 5 containers of yogurt but not normal yogurt: I got Jalepeno Bean yogurt and Parsnips Yogurt.

And this:

Is not this a prime example of defective thinking? To give a package of raw, uncleaned fish to the homeless who have no refrigerators, no cooking facilities and probably don't own a fillet knife?

But wait! It's Rainbow Trout.

And thus we have today's tutorial on how to do a defective job of cleaning and filleting a trout.

Number one: cut the head off and clean out the guts. See that red line in there? Scrub that out with the edge of your knife it will make a difference in the taste.

Number two:

Realize it is impossible to hold a camera in one hand and fillet a fish in the other especially when you don't own a fillet knife. Do you own a fillet knife? I do not own a fillet knife.

Cut to a plate of already cleaned, semi-quasi-defectively filleted trout:

Number Three: Prepare a large pan with very hot olive oil.

Number four: coat the fish in flour and cornmeal with lots of salt and herbs.

Number 5: Realize that life is bliss as long as you've got a skillet and a stove and a hunk of fresh fish.
P.S: If you've had an erection lasting more than 4 hours, do not call me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Popcorn Flats: The Sequel

Oops! Forgot to take a picture of the finished product.

Popcorn Flats

Start with a heavy bottom pan. That is the one essential. It also helps to have an accurate candy thermometer but you need to double check with a bowl of cold water to make sure you are at the soft ball stage. I don't know what the soy sauce is for...kind of scary if you think about it. I could so easily have grabbed that rather than the vanilla. But I didn't.
Another tip is to sift your popcorn and get out all the uncooked kernels, which I forgot to do and so if you look at the popcorn balls very closely you will see tons of unpopped kernels like little Death Land Mines for cracking your teeth.

*Popcorn Balls for Christmas*
(but you still need a heavy and I do mean heavy bottom pan or it will just scorch.)

1 ½ cups white Karo syrup
1 cup sugar
1 t. water (what good does one teaspoon of water do? I have no idea.)
1 T. butter
2 big batches unbuttered popcorn. You can use the microwave stuff, in which case you need about 4 bags. Try to get the plain popcorn.

Boil until softball stage 232-234° don’t quit until you reach this stage and don’t quit until you’ve been AT this stage for a good bit. Watch it constantly anyway and don’t stir. If you undercook it the popcorn balls will fall apart and never firm up.

Remove from the stove and add
1t. vinegar
1 t. vanilla

Stir it into the popcorn while still hot.

Butter and Water your hands to keep them from burning and the mixture from sticking. It’s messy but it’s worth it.

Form mixture into balls without crushing the popcorn and place on wax paper to cool and set.

You need a lot of room for this recipe so have a big kitchen table.

When balls are firm and completely cool, wrap in saran wrap individually and tie up with Christmas Ribbon.

Make sure you have a very good soft ball stage to your syrup mixture or else you will end up with GOO-balls. Still delicious but very messy to eat.

Friday, November 14, 2008


One of the best parts of autumn and winter is getting to turn on all the lights and also to burn candles.

The days are short enough that there is plenty of time to spend quiet time at home with the candles lit and the lights down low.

I like it even more when there aren't any lights lit and it's just the candles. Except I stumble around in the dark trying to find my snacks.

I think I would love it if we had more power outages so that I couldn't really turn on any electric lights at all. Except all my food would go bad in the fridge. Except that I could just eat it all up and not worry about it. Except I would have to cook it over a brazier, which I don't happen to own.

Cooking over a brazier is passe: nobody does it anymore. Most folks don't even own any braziers of their own. They have to go to Dairy Queen to get any brazier cooked foods. And those are mostly microwaved.

Which is why I decided to take pictures of the various lights around my place so that, in the event that lights become obsolete like brazier's have, there will be a record that such things once existed and lit up our world!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I want my MAYPO-LINE!

Every year along about now, I get a hankering for all things maple. Maybe because the Apple Festival back home is this time of year, and that's where you can get maple nut buns: giant chocolate patties filled with a maple cream and topped in nuts. Like those old fashioned Bun candy bars.
Which cannot be made without THIS:
A nice big bottle of this lasts several years because it is the best, richest, most concentrated maple flavor on the market. The other 'imitation maple flavoring' that they sell with the spices isn't worth a dime.
I have trudged mile after mile, across the frozen tundra, mile after mile in vain, trying to find a bottle of Mapleine.
But it is not to be had, not for ready money in the market. The grocery manager tells me it is no longer distributed to the west, and may only be found back east along the coast: Places like Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky-Tennessee. I did not question him about his geography. I know that most people from California consider the "east coast" to be places like Montana or Pennsylvania.
And for all I know he meant the Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario coasts.
(I just had to list the names of the Great Lakes like that. I plan on winning the Big Prize someday by knowing the answer to that particular trivia question: Name the Great Lakes.)
So I decided to carve a maple leave out of a hunk of carving eraser to appease my flailed sensibilities.

While I was at it, I invited friends for tea and crepes and started a little cottage industry sweatshop: Here are just a few of the final results of a day in a card labor camp:

Monday, November 03, 2008

Cupcakes, anyone?

I've long ago known that you cannot reduce your fabric scraps by making things out of them. They seem to increase and multiply the moment you even think about opening the scrap bag!

Likewise with paper scraps. A surefire way to increase the amount of them on hand is to decide to decrease them by making a few paper-scrap crafting projects.

It reminds me of those Tribbles in the Grainery on Star Trek, if anyone remembers that episode. Cute little furry creatures.

Anyway, I'm multi-tasking as I watch my Netflix Movies and this is one of my almost-completed projects. It's going to be a dozen cupcakes but had to photograph them now!

What do you think?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Drive-by Gifting

So here I am blithely typing away and playing on my computer at 5 in the morning when I happened to notice that my computer said it was 5 am but my clock on the wall said 6 am. Uh-Oh! Daylight Losing Time Again!

And then I panicked! When had this happened? It's November 2nd! Doesn't the time change back in the middle of October somewhere around Columbus Day? Oh NO! Que'lle Horror ! What if I've been running an hour ahead of myself for nearly 2 weeks now and nobody told me? After all, it's not like any of my ladies know what time it is! Heck, they don't even know what YEAR it is!!!!

Thankfully, a quick research on the net informed me that the time change was late this year and indeed, it just happened in the wee hours of this morning. Whew!

I went to visit my ppp yesterday (prisoner pen pal) before he get transferred down to Timbuktu. The California Dept. of Corrections likes to spend a lot of time and money moving guys around from place to place for no reason whatsoever, and it was my friend's time to get shipped out. Because this was a window visit, I didn't want to get any food from the vending machines because that would just be cruel. So I had to sit there smelling popcorn and microwave pizza's and all that other fun stuff and I was just starving! So on the way home I stopped at Trader Joe's and took full advantage of the gift card I got for my birthday. (Thanks, Q's!)
Of course I didn't get any actual FOOD, you know, because I was HUNGRY. Instead, I got crackers and pub cheese and a big container of coconut almond patties.

Trader Joe's was having an anniversary and there were all you could eat hot dogs and ice cream and lemonade, so I didn't really need to buy meal-food, now did I?

Where was I going with this? Oh, yeah. When I got home, I had two main tasks to accomplish while stuffing my face with pub cheese and crackers and chocolate coconut almond patties:
I had to change to a seasonal purse. That's right, ladies, you know of whence I speak.

It was raining yesterday and my open-face avocado purse was getting soaked inside and out, so it was time for the black zippered one I use for winters. Which is smaller. Than my fall purse. Which means dumping the entire contents out onto the ottoman and rifling through it and trying to pare down what is not essential. Like, do I really need 3 lipsticks AND a chap stick AND some Carmex for my lips?

And that was when I discovered...I don't really need to carry around feminine protection anymore. And I'm not talking about MACE, either. Wow! Talk about an end of an era! I've been carrying around pads or tampons for 40 years of my life now. It is, indeed, the reason that I and every other female in Christendom start carrying a purse to begin with. I don't know whether to feel overjoyed or just naked.
It did not, however, seem to decrease the weight or the bulk of what was stuffed into the winter purse.

The NEXT thing on my list was to tackle the television cable cord disarray. For a long time now I have decided that the TV had to come out of it's cabinet and be placed on TOP of the cabinet. For one thing so that I could actually watch it from somewhere other than right in front of it, and because my reason for having it inside a cabinet originally was because I like my living room to be about guests and gatherings and not necessarily dominated by the Alter of Television Worship. But since the computer is now the Alter of Dominant Attention in my home, it seemed silly to make the TV be so sequestered and hidden away.

And besides, I really needed that armoire for my quilts. So here it is:

It's okay. I'd much rather have a formal living room and a TV room but I don't mind having the TV be out in plain sight. Although...I have to say it has been about 20 years since I've had a television just HANG OUT in a room with me!

And now my quilts have a home and look happy and tidy at last.

I really, really need a new TV. I don't mean just for cosmetic purposes, either. Mine has gotten these weird orange and green spots on the screen. So that when you are watching programs, people's faces will turn up orange or green. It's very distracting. I think this means the TV tube is ready to blow? I would love one of those flat-panel screens. Just a small one, you know, not some huge football stadium sized thing. Maybe for my NEXT birthday.

Speaking of birthdays, I was talking to another one of my ppp's (Matthew 25:36) who has the annoying habit of being a Jehovah's Witless. His birthday is coming up and of course he blew off acknowledging MY birthday. Which isn't fair, is it? Because even though I don't observe that quirk of not believing in birthday presents or Christmas presents, I have to SUFFER for it because of someone else's beliefs. To me, this means that I don't have to ignore HIS birthday because it is not my belief to ignore birthdays. But of course he finds THAT offensive. It's like double jeopardy.

I finally told him that I would still be getting him a birthday present but I wouldn't be calling it that. I'd just be saying it was 'an anonymous unspecified gift attempt'. Ha-ha! Like a drive-by Gifting!

(ps: I did not type this as one, run-on paragraph. Blogger has decided that breaks or paragraph spacing isn't necessary, I guess. It won't let me fix it no matter what I try)