Wednesday, 29 January 2014

A Grandmother's 'Whatever"

            Is there a Grandmother anywhere that is not drawn to those displays of named 'what-evers' placed so prominently near the entrance or checkout of most major department stores?  You feel a compulsion to search out the name of each and every grandchild, and then to purchase that pencil, pen, mug, thermos, key chain or 'what-ever'.  Kids love to have their own things, and having something with their name on it, makes it, unarguably, theirs.

            The kids may love them, but I think their mothers, secretly, hate them.  Why else has there been this trend to naming children with unusual names, or names with unusual spellings.  This has dramatically cut down on my personalized, 'off-the-rack' shopping.  I can never find the names of all my grandchildren, or even all the grandchildren within one family unit.

            So, I may continue to look at those racks of 'what-evers', though it's an exercise doomed to frustration and failure.  But, never fear, dear children, there is another new trend...monogramming.  Made to order, any 'what-ever' any grandmother could want.  It's hard to beat a grandmother in the gift giving, spoil the child arena.

            Mothers tend to forget, grandmothers have been there, done that, and with grandchildren, they get to do it all over again.


Saturday, 25 January 2014

All About Peanut Butter, Excerpt from "Left in Sorrow'


Holly shopped locally for the supplies she would need at the cottage over the weekend. She knew the routine well after all these years. The cupboards would be bare. Nothing could be left over the winter so she needed to stock up with all the usual staples; salt and pepper, condiments, peanut butter. For sure, peanut butter, she thought, and laughed.
On the kitchen wall at the cottage there was a wooden plaque, in the shape of a slice of bread, with the phrase…Man cannot live by bread alone, he must have peanut butter.
She loved peanut butter, ate it on bread, toast, crackers, even by the teaspoon right from the jar. It began as a pregnancy craving, and never diminished after Sarah was born.
The plaque had been a surprise gift from Richard, something he’d found in the village convenience store on one of his visits to the cottage. She’d loved the sentiment, and had immediately hung it over the stove.
In the Village IGA, Holly stood in front of the shelves, stocked full of various brands and types of peanut butter, and the memory hit her with an unbelievable sense of loss. She felt tears threaten, blinked her eyes to stop the flow before they began. After all the anger, it was good to have a memory of something good.
Until that moment, she hadn’t realized how badly she’d needed to feel that Richard had, at least in the beginning, loved her.
With one hand on the shopping cart, she used her other hand to wipe away the stray tear that had escaped.
“I know just how you feel,” a deep voice said from behind her.
Embarrassed to be caught in such an emotional state, in public, she turned and looked into the darkest brown eyes she had ever seen. “What?” she asked flustered and confused.
“I said, I know how you feel. Peanut butter, what a truly god-given gift it is. Chunky or smooth?”
Holly thought this the strangest conversation she had ever had, yet felt compelled to answer.  “Smooth, the chunky doesn’t spread well.”
“Exactly,” the man said enthusiastically, reaching by her to select a jar from the shelf. “Jam, grape jelly or marmalade?”
Holly laughed, getting into the fun of it. “Grape jelly first, jam second, and never, ever marmalade.”
“Right! I mean, who in their right mind would put marmalade on peanut butter.” He gave an exaggerated shiver at the thought, and looked at her seriously. “Okay, here’s the biggie. Peanut butter, banana and…?”
“Mayonnaise,” she quickly answered.
“Be still my heart,” the man said, beating his hand on his chest. “It’s a match made in heaven.”
She laughed at his antics. Not knowing what to say, she said nothing, and suddenly felt awkward in the silence. Remembering where she was, what she was doing, she grabbed her cart and prepared to move on. The stranger seemed to understand that she was uncomfortable and stepped back.
“I have to go,” she said and quickly grabbed a jar of peanut butter, tossed it in her cart, and rushed away down the aisle.
She hurried through the remainder of her shopping, aware she’d forgotten half of the items on her list, but she needed to keep ahead of the handsome stranger
It was embarrassing to think how long it had been since a man had flirted with her in such a fun and non-threatening way. While still married, she’d had other men come on to her, other lawyers or business men, so called friends of Richard’s. It occurred to her, as she loaded her groceries in the trunk of her car, that those men might have known that Richard ‘fooled’ around and figured she would be ‘game’ or easy pickings.
She slammed the trunk closed with both hands and stood, leaning on the car. It was a disturbing thought because it made her think Miranda wasn’t Richard’s first dalliance, and she had no way of knowing when, or why, or with whom he had strayed.
Turning, she reached for the cart to return it to the store when she felt someone pull it from her hands.
“Trade,” the man from the peanut butter aisle said. He quickly and easily shoved his cart into hers to return both to the storage area.
“Are you okay?” he asked, one hand on the carts.
“Yes, I’m fine, thanks. Just lost in thought.”
“I’ve got just the thing for that.”
She looked down at the hand extended to her…and saw a familiar orange package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. “You look like you could use a pick-me-up.”
“And Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are the cure?”
“They can’t hurt.”
She took the candy and smiled as the man walked away pushing the carts.
When she was finally seated behind the wheel of her car, she ripped open the package and took her first bite of the chocolate and peanut butter confection. She laughed, for it did brighten her mood. All thoughts of her marriage to a philandering husband vanished at that moment when she tasted that sweet treat.


Friday, 24 January 2014

Peanut Butter

I love peanut butter, on toast, in a sandwich and in the various dessert recipes I’ve acquired.

In November, 2006, I made an ice cream cake for my son’s birthday. I know it was that year because I have the recipe in my scrapbook cookbook. It was a layer of ice cream, a layer of chocolate sauce, more ice cream, followed by this absolutely fantastic peanut butter sauce, and then more ice cream.

This ‘cake’ has become a family favourite. I’ve varied it over the years by using different ice cream combinations. One time I used mint chocolate chip ice cream, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. Omitting the peanut butter sauce was not a popular decision even though mint chocolate chip is a flavour in our family.

The combination of vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and Reese’s Peanut Butter Chunk ice cream with the peanut butter sauce was a better combination.

I’ve made the sauce, for its very simple, and served it on its own, over ice cream, without all the fuss of layering, and everyone loves it. I made a double batch for the last family gathering, at my daughter’s home, and saw my two very adult children act like…well, children. There was a bit of that, na na na nana, stuff as my daughter figured she had leftovers in her future.

My sister-in-law asked for the recipe, to serve over brownies and ice cream. Mmmm, sounds good, chocolate and peanut butter is always a hit.

Here’s the recipe for the Peanut Butter Sauce

¾ cup peanut butter
¼ cup half and half
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp margarine or butter
¼ cup powdered sugar

In a small saucepan, combine peanut butter, half and half, corn syrup and margarine. Cook over medium heat just until margarine melts and mixture is smooth, stirring occasionally: remove from heat.

Stir in powdered sugar: beat until smooth and creamy.

 I will admit I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit. I use milk if I don’t have half and half, and I use whatever corn syrup I have on hand. Always good.

Peanut butter is a staple, and I always have to have some in my cupboard.

When I was writing my book ‘Left in Sorrow’ there was a scene where the main character is on her way to the cottage and stops at the local market for staples. The writing flowed and, without any conscious plan on my part, a memory from my life was incorporated into the story, a memory about peanut butter.

My Dad also loved peanut butter. In my parents’ kitchen in Florida was a wooden plaque, shaped like a slice of bread. On it were the words Man cannot live by bread alone, he must have peanut butter.

Somehow in the writing of my book, this memory emerged, adding some emotion and some fun into the scene where Holly meets a local who will have a part in her future plans.

When this happens, and it has many times, I just sit back and wonder. How does that work? That as I’m writing I can pull out a memory that so adds to the story.

I know every writer is influenced by what they’ve experienced in their life, and I understand that. But it’s these little fragments, words spoken and remembered, items loved and cherished that, when added to the story; give it a sense of real emotion.

Anyway, if you want to read the excerpt from the book about peanut butter, I’m posting it tomorrow.

I’m hungry now; maybe a PB and J sandwich is just what I need.



Wednesday, 22 January 2014

When a Tree Falls in the Forest

There’s some age old question…If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s no one there to hear, does it make a sound?

I’ve probably screwed that up, and I don’t know why that phrase came to mind right now. I think it’s because I got to thinking about how people behave when they think they’re not being observed.

This came to mind tonight as I was trying to relax after dinner, a meal that was not sitting well. I needed some relief, and as I’m here alone, I let out with a loud belch. I figured there was no sense in trying to be polite and hold it down to a lady like burp. But what was so funny was that I said “Excuse me,” afterwards. Like the empty room was going to be offended by an eruption of gas.

I’m so Canadian, eh?

This got me thinking, about what we do when we think we’re alone, how different we behave. Remember that old Candid Camera show, where people were unknowingly caught on camera? There was a reason it was popular, we can do strange things when no one’s watching.

I’ve had this thought before, on the drive home from my daughter’s place. The side road I take meets the main road at a T intersection. There’s a light there to direct traffic, and I often have to sit at that light, waiting for the green so I can turn left. It’s an isolated intersection, commercial/industrial to the right, farmland to the left; and open land directly ahead.

It’s often crossed my mind, as I’ve sat there, waiting, wondering. Would anyone see if I turned left on the red? Traffic is very light; in fact I’ve been at the intersection many times and never seen another car.

I have that thought, but I have never been brave enough to ignore the rules. For all I know there are traffic cams waiting for just such behaviour, and, I admit, I’m not one for breaking the rules.

That said, I must confess. I have turned right when the posted sign says No Right Turn On Red. Okay, I’ve broken the law, arrest me. LOL

I’ve realized just lately, that I swear out loud, and very rudely, here in my humble abode. This usually occurs when I have a problem with my computer, or in response to something on television. I don’t say the expected F word, as you might have thought, but something I think is just as nasty and crude. Starts with a C and ends with an R, ten letters. Enough said.

Living alone allows me to say and do as I please. I kind of like it.

It’s why I like driving in the car, I can swear, I can yell and scream, (as long as the windows are up), talk to myself or belt out a tune. Whatever I damn well please.

I can also eat whatever I want, and this can be a downfall as there’s no one there to curb bad habits. I’m trying to change my bad eating habits, but it’s not easy.

Oh yeah, another plus to living alone? Total control over the TV remote. I can watch what I want, when I want, whatever suits my mood, be it a sappy romance, a crime drama, or an amusing comedy.

Living alone has its freedoms, but also its downfalls. I miss having someone to talk to at the end of the day, someone with whom I can share my thoughts and feelings.

I guess that’s why, at this late hour, I’m writing my blog, checking for E-mails, and taking a peek at Facebook.

As much as people slam social media, as replacing real, face to face interactions, for some of us it keeps us connected. And as I live with a chronic illness and get out less and less, I need that connection.

There are blessings, and there are pitfalls, and they’re all part of life. It’s up to us to make the most of it.





Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Junk Drawer

My new pantry stands 72 inches tall, 29 inches wide and is 12 inches deep. It has two cupboard doors on the top, two on the bottom, and in the middle is a drawer. I finally have everything that I need in my place, something that had been missing until now.

I have a junk drawer.

Everybody needs a drawer where all those odds and ends can be tossed, where you can store items you don’t have a place for, but might need every once in awhile.

I found this saying and liked it.

A clean desk is a sign of a cluttered desk drawer.

At my other place I had a drawer where I kept all the rolls of foil, wax paper and cling wrap. It also had a dish that held all my spare keys, and the neighbour’s keys, and my extra car key. It’s where I tossed the candles for the grandkids’ birthday cakes and loose change for the laundry.

I also had a junk basket that sat on the table beside my chair. It held pens and pencils, scissors, my favourite and most used crochet hooks, sticky notes, a darning needle for sewing crocheted sweaters together, and a dime for scratching those scratch tickets I like to play.

I think I need a new basket. At the moment I have all those items sitting on one table or the other. Last week I dropped a darning needle, heard it hit the wood floor, but I haven’t yet been able to find it. I’ve looked and looked, even vacuumed but it is still lost. It’ll turn up when I least expect it.

For now, I’m organizing my junk. I put a wood box in my junk drawer, empty for now, but at some point I’ll find something to fill it. It’s just marking the space. There’s a sense of relief that I have that space available, if I need it.

For all that my daughter thinks I’m unorganized, I’m really not. I just have some organization and lots of creative clutter. Like today, I have the sweater I just made my granddaughter sitting on the sofa, done except for the buttons. I searched my stash of buttons and found the ones I wanted, which are sitting on the table to my right.

I did some zentangle (doodle art) letters of the alphabet for the kids. Have frames with multiple openings, for their names. I just want to photocopy the designs, so the kids can colour their own names, and frame them for their walls. The designs are on the table, reminding me I need to go to Staples and photocopy enough copies to allow for each name and extras in case of errors.

I’ve started a new book, so the dictionary and thesaurus are on the table.

I just finished a crocheted chair caddie which will hang over the arm of my chair and hold the two controllers for the television. I also have a space in it for some pens and my scissors, if I can find the right plastic holder for them.

I made the caddie out of off white yarn to match my afghan, though the afghan has a touch of rose. I’m making pillow covers out of the same yarn, to brighten things up as the current cushions are dull and lifeless.

I know, I know, finish one project before I start another. But there are some things I like to do in the daytime, and some I like to do at night when I watch television. Tonight I’ll sew the buttons on and finish the pillows, this afternoon is for writing.

My neighbours used to think I was super organized, even OCD organized, because of my storage tower. Years ago I found one of those plastic storage units with nine drawers, each about five inches tall and a foot wide.

I have each drawer labelled, and have consistently kept those drawers organized. I tired of never being able to find what I wanted when I needed it so I got organized.

The top drawer is TAPE. Scotch tape, masking tape, painter’s tape, even double faced tape. The next drawer is GLUE. White glue, carpenter’s glue, glue-all, roll on glue sticks and glue sticks for my glue guns. The next drawer has the GLUE GUNS, followed by one for STAPLERS, household and a staple gun.

Next is RULERS, of various lengths, in inches and centimeters, along with math sets and measuring tapes.

Then come the SCISSORS, of all sizes and shapes, pointed ends and sharp, for paper and for fabric. You get the idea. The next drawer is OTHER CUTTING TOOLS. This includes my mat cutter, my three hole punch and hand held punches.

The last couple of drawers are CRAFT TOOLS and then TOOLS. See, I’m organized.

I even have a small, three drawer container in the closet that has string and cord in one space, light bulbs and batteries in another. I put all my plastic grocery bags in a container that hangs on the rod, have a hanging organizer with phone books, and garbage bags, blue for recycling, black for garbage and white bags for food garbage that will break down faster than plastic.

I’m organized in my own fashion, but the creative process is not neat, and that’s where my mess and clutter shows.

Except for doing dishes, I always seem to have a counter full of dirty dishes.



Saturday, 18 January 2014

Some Assembly Required

The pantry I recently purchased came unassembled in a large cardboard box. Even if the store had given me some assistance with it to the car, there would have been the challenge of getting it from the car into my place, in addition to putting it together.

So I asked a very big favour of my son, to get it, put it together, and deliver it to me. He’s become my go-to guy for anything that requires strength and manual dexterity.

I’m his mother, would he say no to me? I admit I have and unfair advantage.

Wednesday morning he delivered the pantry, and finished it by adding the doors and handles. I made the donut muffins mentioned in a previous blog and a fresh pot of coffee in anticipation. Not only was I getting my pantry, but I had the pleasure of a visit from he and his significant other.

A win-win situation for me. Not so positive for him as he was on night shift and needed to get home for some much needed sleep after being up all night.

After they were gone, I spent the remainder of the day in cleanup mode. I put things away in the pantry, dusted, and did my dishes.
I have a small table that I use for crafts and sewing, and I’ve not seen the top of it since I moved. It has collected all the stuff I had no room for anywhere else, other than to stuff closets to overflowing. There was yarn, fabric for quilts, supplies for Christmas gifts I never found the time or energy to complete, and a slew of other ‘homeless’ objects.

I’d hoped to finish the cleanup on Thursday but woke to such back pain I took to my bed and fell asleep on the heating pad. No worry, it has an automatic shut off.

I wasn’t much better a few hours later, so I took some Advil and sat in my chair, OBUS form at my back, my feet up and coffee at hand. I called a friend and we talked for hours. Nothing like an interesting conversation to take my mind off the pain.

Later, I was moving around better, but not wanting to test the fates, left the rest of the cleanup for another day.

My heartfelt thanks to my son for getting the pantry, putting it together and delivering it. It’s exactly what I wanted, and what I needed. The donut muffins were a small payment for all his efforts.

And thanks to my friend for the conversation. She’s a fellow writer (check her out at ). I always feel in a writing mood after we talk.

So my daughter can blame her for Thursday’s blog. Anyway, the day may have had a rough beginning, but all’s well that ends well.

As I was writing this I see my curio cabinet, full of my angel collection, and remember. When I saw my son pull in Wednesday morning, I moved the curio cabinet to another wall, making space for the pantry. I did that back and forth shimmy, sliding it across the wood floor, around the corner and to another wall.

What a dumb ass I can be. And I was wondering why my back hurt the next day.

You know those old sayings about ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink’? I think both apply.

What can I say; I’m a stubborn old fool who clings to her independence. The learned ability to ask and receive help is still a work in progress, but I’m getting better.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Is the Clutter Bug Inherited?

I know she’s my daughter, I mean I was there when she was born. Though, now that I think about it, I was asleep at the time. We never made our acquaintance until later, when the anaesthesia had worn off.

I just don’t know where this uber-organized, neat freak, minimalist came from. How I ended up with a daughter who doesn’t like to read and has no interest in sewing, painting or needlework is beyond me.


Being so very different we’ve had our issues through the years and have settled into a mature Mother/Daughter relationship. But we do have one major area of contention between us, namely clutter.

She hates clutter and I am constantly surrounded with it. I call it crafts in progress, what she calls it I won’t repeat.

She’s not entirely clutter free, I mean, who could be with three kids in the house? The good thing for her is her clutter makers will eventually leave home taking their clutter with them. As long as I can write, paint, sew or crochet, my clutter is here to stay.

Maybe this clutter or no clutter thing is inherited. You know; some hereditary trait passed down from one generation to the next.

Take sex. Females are XX, and males are XY. You remember this from biology class right? Basically the possibilities are XX, XY, XX and XY, so there’s a 50% chance any embryo will be a boy, as the Y is dominant.

We inherit any number of traits based on the combination of our parents’ chromosomes or alleles (to keep it simple). If any dominant allele is present, we will have that trait. For a person to inherit a recessive trait both recessive alleles must be present. Curly hair is dominant, straight is recessive. Then there are blue eyes or brown, and hair colour, so why can’t we inherit the clutter chromosome?

That would explain so many things. Like why my sister and my daughter are so much alike, in their clutter free minimalist ways.

Let’s break it down, like the XX, XY thing. M is the messy allele, and N is the neat.

If N is the dominant trait, and messy the recessive, I would have to be MM.

My mother was also MM, but for my sister to be MN; my dad had to be MN, as the N is dominant.

On to the next generation. If I am MM, both recessive traits, and my daughter so obviously a MN, her dad had to be MN, to pass on that dominant N trait. See, I knew it was all his fault, god rest his soul. Just kidding.

I feel so much better now that I’ve rationalized the whole thing. There has to be a reason for everything.

At any rate, my daughter will be glad to hear, I can only live with my own clutter for so long before it gets on my nerves. So, as my space is limited, I bought myself a pantry type cupboard to store my clutter.

But that’s a story for another day.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Coffee, A Matter of Taste

I make terrible coffee. I admit it, no taste test required.


It’s the reason I never drink coffee at home, I’d have to make it. I can’t even blame the coffee makers; I’ve tried plenty, drip, Melita, even old fashioned percolators, and bad, all bad. I switched to tea at home, and enjoyed my coffee whenever and wherever it was made by someone else.

A few years ago I gave it another try and bought a simple two cup drip coffee maker. I found a system that worked well enough to provide me with a decent enough pot of coffee with acceptable regularity.

I don’t drink milk, so I don’t keep it on hand, or cream, yet I like my coffee light. I use a flavoured oil product as it keeps longer, and I like the taste. So I was pleased with my coffee making prowess, and was enjoying my daily cups of coffee, until I ran out of coffee whitener.

This happened a few weeks ago, when I was doing some baking for the holidays, and resorted to using the cream I had on hand for a couple of specific recipes.

The coffee was terrible. What happened to my system? I thought I finally had the coffee/water ratios right. What went wrong?

I guess I had been fooling myself that I could make a decent cup of coffee…I just disguised it with vanilla flavoured coffee whitener.

I think I’ve found my solution. I had coffee at my daughter’s over the holidays, coffee made on a Keurig coffee maker. Since I seem to like flavoured coffees I tried a number of them, with fancy names that I can’t remember now, but the one with caramel was particularly good.

I’m toying with the idea of getting one for myself. The reasons are twofold.

Since I moved I’ve had to adapt to a smaller kitchen with very limited counter space. After the microwave and the toaster oven, there’s no room for my coffee maker and my kettle. I like coffee in the morning, but tea in the afternoon, and occasionally on a cold night, hot chocolate.

Those other beverages require boiling water, hence the kettle. I tried to nuke water but never seem to get the water to the right temperature. I’ll admit I have a bit of microwave fear. I once added something to microwave boiled water, only to have it explode in my face. Okay, it was more of a pop, but scary still…it was hot.

So the first reason I want a Keurig is that it makes coffee, tea and hot chocolate all from the one machine. I wouldn’t have to keep switching the coffee maker and kettle, in and out of the cupboard, in their constant battle for counter space. How convenient.

The other reason for getting a single cup coffee maker? It’s like the commercials advertise, make your drink to suit what you want, when you want. Sounds a bit self indulgent, but hell, why not?

Why not spoil myself; after all, I’m worth it. I think those words are from another commercial, hair colouring if I’m not mistaken.

Maybe this is all a subconscious message that I should get rid of the gray, something else to think about.
My how the mind does wander. LOL


Monday, 13 January 2014


Do you have a favourite mug, one you reach for each and every time?

Most people have a surplus of mugs; I know my brother does. When ever I visit there I always like to see his collection of mugs, though collection implies it’s an intentional accumulation.

He always has mugs with his favourite cartoon characters, or wise sayings (I say that with tongue in cheek). I wanted a collection like his, mine always seemed blah in comparison.

If he doesn't have a mug with a Despicable Me Minion on it, someone has missed out on a great gift idea.
He really loves the Minions.
When my parents were alive and we kids were home for a visit, we used to fight to get this one particular mug. See, no matter how old you get, siblings still squabble when they all get together. The mug in question was not anything special to look at, it had a hand crafted look, blue and rust coloured if I remember right.

What made this mug special was that it was taller than the usual mug and so made a perfect cup of tea when you (sacrilege I know) made tea in the mug, with a bag and some hot water.

I think my brother inherited that mug. He’ll say it’s because Mom always loved him best, though I’m not sure it wasn’t more of the possession is 9/10’s of the law kind of thing. I probably screwed up that saying, but you know what I mean.

I have a ceramic mug, oversize, that was a gift from my staff when I moved on to a new job. I just realized I’ve had that mug for fifteen years. It has great meaning because the people on staff there were the best I’ve ever worked with.

I also have a mug with an angel on it, given to me by a friend at another job. I’ve had that mug for twelve years. I had a number of other mugs, pretty ones with flowers, butterflies or Christmas scenes. Those I got rid of when I moved because of reduced cupboard space.

Because I paint I kept the mug covered in paint brushes, it’s on the bookcase and holds all my pens and pencils.

I gave two friends mugs for Christmas and I know their first thought was “Oh great, another mug.” But when they saw the mugs were so perfect for each of them, and too cute to resist, they were pleased. One friend has cats, the other dogs, and the mugs had cute cartoon renditions of their pet of choice.

Kat, who oddly enough is the dog lover, says she and her husband fight over the mug, which has become their new favourite. I’m immensely pleased, not that they’re fighting over it, but that I got the right gift for the right person.

Have you noticed that sets of everyday dishes come with mugs now instead of cups and saucers? Smart thinking I’d say.

I wonder what kind of mug collection teachers have, and how many new ones they receive from students each year. I usually do the teacher gifts for my grandchildren’s teachers, and I’ve been guilty of adding to their collection.

I was given a ceramic mug, tall and thin, with a top that could be used as a travel mug. I’d like it better, and use it more if I had reason to take a hot drink with me when I left home. It’s something I rarely do, as I find Tim’s too convenient. The size fits in my car’s cup holder, but at home I find I knock it over for some reason and prefer a shorter, squatter mug.

As I think about the mugs I’ve had, I realize I only bought one of those mugs for myself. It had butterflies on it and a matching ceramic lid, to keep the contents hot. I probably bought that style of mug because I tend to forget I have a drink at hand if I’m doing something creative like writing, painting or crocheting.

When I've had a drink on the table where I was painting I’ve often ruined it by inadvertently dipping my paintbrush my coffee, instead of the old mug I use for that purpose. Ugh.

It's become a new thing to bake in mugs. You only have one serving. It's a great idea for those of us who have no willpower.
This is coffee cake, but I've seen regular cake, brownies and even cookies.

I see on all the craft sites that mug cosies have become a popular thing. Hey, great use of leftover yarn. Maybe I’ll give everyone a mug cosy next year for Christmas, and if it just happens to match one of the hats I made this year, well it’s the thought that counts.

What does your mug say about you?

Saturday, 11 January 2014


The funny thing is, I thought I was having a pretty good week.

I had written the post for my blog, days ahead of time and scheduled it to run, on the 8th, just after midnight..

Imagine my surprise when I checked Blogger Dashboard, and saw my posting was listed as a Draft. No, it was not a draft, it should have read Scheduled, and now, or whatever.

Why was it listed as Draft?

There are many steps to a post. I write it in Word, cut and paste to blogger. I add any pictures and click on Save. Then I do Preview, wait, check the final copy, and go back and forth if I need to make any changes. Finally, if I'm doing a future post, I click on Schedule, pick a date and time, click on Done, and voila, done it is.

Oops, one more step that I forgot, click on Publish. A very important final step.

Sorry for missing my one constant, and I have been consistent, day for posting.

What can I say? It was a senior moment.

Snarled Yarn

There is nothing I like better than a new skein of yarn and a new pattern. Every knitter has their way of beginning, and it usually falls to personal preference. Do you start the yarn from the outside of the skein, or from the centre?

I like to start from the centre, that way the skein isn’t turning over and over as it unwinds. But eventually it will collapse in on itself as the inner portions are used up. If you’re lucky, you finish that project without
encountering the ‘big snarl’.
You guys know what I mean.

The ball of yarn, which is a misnomer as it’s a skein of yarn until you wind it into a ball, gets so snarled and tangled you have to stop any actual knitting until you get the yarn untangled.
And the bigger the skein, the bigger the snarl.
I hate to admit the number of hours I have spent hours winding yarn into a ball.

To unsnarl, I usually find the end of the yarn and start winding, until it’s untangled and I can continue with the active work. I’ve discovered if I don’t move the yarn too much it doesn’t get as snarled, but if I’m constantly putting it aside, or pulling it in and out of my bag, the snarls are worse.

I found this neat idea for keeping your yarn snarl free, it holds the skein in place, while easily letting it unwind from the outside. The bin could easily hold some other tools, or your pattern. I think I might try this.

I tend to buy my yarn in 7 oz skeins, as that seems to be what is available here, given our limited retail resources. When I had the opportunity to shop out of town, at Michaels, I bought the yarn for my Christmas projects and enjoyed the vast array of choices not offered locally.

I love to crochet and usually have plenty of projects I want to tackle. Just check out my Pinterest board of the knitting and crocheting ideas I’ve accrued, waiting for that ideal time when I have the perfect match of yarn and pattern.

I vowed last April, that I would only buy yarn for a specific project, and not because I liked the colour, or it was on sale. I’ve maintained that new practice. I bought yarn for the hats I made over Christmas and have been diligently using up the leftover bits and pieces.

My collection of crocheted hats has grown, what I’m going to do with them all is unknown. Maybe I’ll do the same as one of my friends, and donate them next Christmas to the Giving Tree or to the shelter.

Like most knitters, I have a big bin of yarn, some new skeins for future projects, (from before I vowed not to do this), and some leftover bits from finished work. The little bits come in handy for embellishing, especially in the hats I’ve been making for the last month.

I keep it all; you never know when you might need that little touch of colour, to add a flower to a plain hat, or owl eyes on another. But how to organize it is the challenge.

Last year at this time, I had completed all my Christmas projects and had scads of leftover bits. I grabbed a bunch of clear plastic bags and sorted all of it into colours, so I could quickly and easily see what I had, and they didn’t get tangled. When I moved it all went into a big pink bin, which my son has stored for the last six months and just delivered to me.

I have lots more to add to the bin, and am constantly finding bags of yarn I’ve stashed throughout my place. I think my January project is to organize all my yarn, before starting something new.

My friend is using her leftover bits to make herself a granny square afghan, all the squares joined with black. But I found a great sweater pattern, on Pinterest of course, that followed the same idea.

For now, while the snow is falling, and yet another storm is predicted, I think I have enough to see me through the coming weeks. Whether it’s hats, or something in granny square style, my resolution for this year is to use it all up, the challenge is to find a creative way to do it. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.





Sunday, 5 January 2014

Some Treats...another part of Eat, Drink and be Merry

I get daily E-mails with recipes from Fine Cooking, of the magazine with the same name, and All Recipes.

I have found All Recipes to be a great site, no matter what you’re looking for. The recipes that come in the newsletter are just a tease to what can be found on the website. I also get regular recipes from Kraft Canada.

For my brother’s birthday bash in November I served an appetizer called Mexican Fiesta Bites. These were a big hit, my sister-in-law, who is an excellent cook, liked them and even asked for the recipe.

Mexican Fiesta Bites

24 Won Ton wrappers
1 cup cooked crumbled Italian   sausage
½ cup Salsa
¾ cup Kraft Tex Mex Shredded Cheese
¼ cup sour cream

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place one won ton wrapper in each of 24 mini muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray, with edges of wrappers extending over tops of cups. Bake 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine sausage and salsa.

Spoon sausage mixture into won ton cups. Bake 10 minutes or until filling is heated through and edges of cups are golden brown. Top with cheese; bake 1 to 2 minutes or until melted.

Top with sour cream.

Won ton wrappers can be found in the produce section of your supermarket.

I found another similar recipe, also from Kraft, with a variation on the filling.

 ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup chopped pepperoni
½ cup Kraft Rancher’s Choice dressing
¼ cup chopped green peppers
¼ cup chopped red peppers

Prepare the won ton wrappers as above, and bake 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients.

Fill won ton cups with cheese mixture. Bake 6 to 8 min. or until cheese is melted.

The number of fillings is unlimited. Maybe a bit of cheddar cheese, browned ground beef and salsa for a Taco taste.

Or ham and Swiss cheese.

Maybe cooked chicken and cheese.
I don’t even want to think of the possibilities if you wanted this to be a dessert.
Ice cream, custards, mousse. Fruit.

Try the Mexican Fiesta Bites, I guarantee they’ll be a hit.
Here’s the website if you want more.




Friday, 3 January 2014

Unwritten Rules...School Fundraisers

I think it’s an unwritten rule, “Grandmothers must purchase at least one item from each and every fundraising campaign the school enlists”.

It used to be easy, who can’t use Christmas wrapping paper. And what happened to the frozen pies and cookies? That one was around when my kids were small.

Last year my grandson had a sales catalogue and I purchased a cookbook, titled ‘Summer Savoury’ It is apparently is full of “proven recipes from a season’s harvest of Vegetables and Berries”.

It’s a good book, I’ve tried a number of recipes from it and all have been a hit.

Today I’m making Apple Glazed Carrots. I found with my own kids and now the grandkids that cooked carrots are not a favourite. Raw carrots, especially with a dip are great, but cooked, no way.

I used to cheat, adding butter and brown sugar to give the carrots a glaze and make them more appetizing by appealing to their sweet tooth. It worked for my kids and they have continued the practise with their own offspring.

I’m making a side dish for a family dinner and decided to try this new recipe from my cookbook. It’s a slight variation, using applesauce with the brown sugar. Other versions I’ve seen use maple syrup or honey.

 Apple Glazed Carrots
1/4 cup apple sauce
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp butter
Cook until brown sugar melts. Pour over cooked carrots. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
The recipe didn't specify 'cooked' carrots, but I'm assuming cooked as 15 minutes in the oven wouldn't be enough time to cook the carrots, but enough time to heat them through and coat with glaze.
You'll have to use your own judgement on this.
I'm going to cook the carrots today, add the glaze to them tomorrow and put them in my slow cooker.
Here’s another recipe from the same book.

Carrot Dip

Sliced, peeled carrots                                              3
Brown sugar                                                            1 tbsp
Chopped chives                                                       1 stalk
Mashed garlic                                                          1 clove
Olive oil                                                                   1 tbsp

Cook carrots in water with garlic until tender. Remove from heat and cool. Blend in food processor: adding chives, brown sugar and oil. Add extra water if too thick. Place in bowl; refrigerate.
Great with nacho chips or crackers.

I’ve made this for summer barbecues, and had adults look at it askance. Carrots? Kids aren’t the only ones who have to be tricked into eating their vegetables.

The nice thing about carrots is they are cheap and available year round, not like…asparagus. Another vegetable the kids don’t like. And then there are Brussels sprouts, I won’t even go there.

I’ll let you know if the new carrot recipe is a hit.


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year

(Started at 11:30 New Year’s Eve)

The midnight hour is approaching, and a new year is about to begin. The end of 2013 has been a difficult time for people in this area of the province. The ice storm last weekend did a lot of damage, left many without power, without heat, for days on end.

Kudos to the emergency crews that worked tirelessly to restore power, so everyone could have their Christmas celebration.

The holidays have turned away from the old values and meanings, even though people seem to still think of it as family time, a time of celebrating with those we love. All that kindness and good cheer stuff.

I think the holiday is too commercial, I mean the stores barely got Hallowe’en stuff off the shelves when they were filling the space with Christmas. And what was with all those ads on television, not to mention the Christmas movies, all before American Thanksgiving.

December 1st was always my start date, and I would gradually decorate the house. The kids and I would have a little party, which meant fancy drinks and snacks, to decorate the tree. We did the same when we sat to wrap presents. We went to the Santa Claus parade, the Santa party at the library, and saw the trees lit up in the park.

It was a month of kid’s activities, and gatherings with friends. There never seemed to be enough time for everything. Maybe it’s a children’s holiday, and it just doesn’t have the same feeling without kids in the house with their innocent enthusiasm.

It’s different now, I have no desire to have a tree and have no Christmas decorations on display other than the odd Christmas card or a Christmas angel in my angel collection. I’ve lost interest, though I miss sitting by the glow of a Christmas tree, my gifts for the kids hidden beneath.

It must be doing things alone. I need to make a party of it. Maybe, next year, I’ll plan a round-robin of tree decorating with all my friends who live alone, to get ourselves in the Christmas spirit and decorate our trees and our homes.

Without the social whirl, the week between Christmas and New Years is a drag. Nothing will return to normal until after January 1st, so let’s get it over and done with.
I know, it’s a bit of the old Bah Humbug, so call me Scrooge.

I think my mood is greatly affected by my decreasing mobility and tolerance for activity. I find it much easier to be home, alone for the most part. But then I crave the human contact and need to see my friends and family; need to have a face to face conversation, one that I don’t have to type.

That’s a bit of a slam against the social media, which I love and would be lost without, but it doesn’t replace a true interaction where you can see facial expressions, listen to the tone of voice and hear someone’s laughter.

This was not where I intended to go with this posting, but that’s what happens when I leave it to the last minute. I’ll blame the sour mood on my cold; the constant sniffling and bleary eyes are getting me down.

2013 was a year of change for me. I had the move in June and my life has been very difficult since that time. As much as I love my new place, it’s not without its drawbacks. I knew the effort of moving was most likely to put me in a bit of an MS relapse, and was prepared for that. I was not prepared to screw up my back, (pinched nerve), and have my walking ability jeopardized, hence the walker.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to learn to say no, to myself. It’s like that old saying about your eyes being bigger than your stomach, when people pile their plates full with more food than they can eat.

I did kind of the same thing, buying supplies for gifts I wanted to make and then was unable to complete. But, hey, I have a head start on next year, right?

I’m learning to accept help, have even asked for it. But it’s a hard thing to do when you’ve been independent and self reliant. That’s one of my big resolutions for the year, along with the usual health oriented ones, like losing weight, drinking more water and less diet pop, eating healthy etcetera etcetera.

Maybe, this will be the year I actually keep a resolution.

At any rate, I wish everyone a Happy New Year, and all the best to you and yours for the coming year. Let’s make it a good one.