Thursday, March 29, 2012

Not a post about Jeff's birthday

It is his birthday.
I took him out to dinner at a new buffet restaurant in town.
We both ate too much and now we're vegging (what an ugly word) in front of our respective laptops.
Yes folks, these Osbornes know how to have a good time!

My blogging friend Mari  linked to this website on her blog today and you know I couldn't resist taking a peek.
Oh. My. 
Just what I need: something else to lure me to my laptop.
Just as well the pantry got sorted a few days ago.

I took these pics with my webcam, using the webcam toy
It's my favourite page on the site. 

Scary times four.
Slightly underwater.
Just like the US economy.
Stars in my eyes. Not in a good way.
I like this one. Not too much detail.
Learning to love myself.
Nope. You're not sweet sixteen any more, my dear.
But that's okay.
We'll take what we are.
All 64 of us.
Some of these would make cool internet avatars.
Andy Warhol, move over!
Hahaha! These make me laugh!

I can't wait to show these to the grandkids.
What fun we shall have!

P.S. You can install the Webcam Toy as a free Chrome app.
P.P.S You know I did!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Have you ever seen a dino-boat?

Well, now you have!
Daniel was rather proud of his creation, especially the flight of stairs that leads to the boat.

I've been having the grandkids over, one at a time, to spend the night. Josh was first, on Thursday night and Friday, and Daniel was next. 
Papa nobly took him to see The Lorax on Friday night while Dolly and I caught The Hunger Games at the Cameo. 
I suppose he (Jeff) thinks I owe him one now.
Not even close.

[As for The Hunger Games, it was okay, but not brilliant. It wasn't helped by the crowd of junior high kids who went ballistic every time Katniss and Peeta came even close to having an emotional moment. I would have spoken sharply to them, except they were up front and I was towards the back and I couldn't tell who was making noise until they all trooped out at the end. They must have been on some kind of field trip because there was a school bus waiting for them outside. I am planning on being a real tartar and finding out what school they were from so that I can complain. 
Grumpy old woman, that's me.]

Saturday dawned sunny and warm, so Daniel helped me weed for a couple of hours. Last year was the war on dandelions. This year seems to be the war on hairy bittercress.  All you northwest gardeners will know this weed on sight, but I'll bet you didn't know the name! 
Google is my friend.

After we waged a good battle and Daniel had eaten his small tub of rewardly ice cream, he talked Jeff and I into going to the park. We rode our bikes, as I was feeling the ill effects of unaccustomed exercise, and he scootered. The sky had become mostly covered with dark, ominous clouds, but the sun still shone on the south side of the trees that border the park.

I sat on a bench, feeling old and bedraggled, reading my book while Jeff and Daniel explored.

There they go!

When we got home, Daniel helped me plant seeds in milk bottles. I've seen a couple of tutorials for this around the blogosphere and it seems like a fortuitous idea.
First, you cut around the bottles about three inches from the bottom.
Poke holes in the bottom section. Daniel enjoyed this bit.
Fill with dirt and plant your chosen seeds. We planted roma, beefsteak, and yellow hillbilly tomatoes, and marigolds.

Water well and wedge the tops back over the bottom sections. The tutorials all say to join with duct tape, but I'm pretty sure this will work just as well.
Don't forget to label the bottles.

The premise is that the milk bottles act as a miniature greenhouse and give your little seeds an early start.
We shall see.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The day I almost got reported to the RSPCA


One day, when I was about ten years old and my sister was about seven, we found a kitten in our back yard.
Here's the thing.
We were pet-deprived.

We had owned a budgie that mysteriously flew away from his cage when he was catching some fresh air in the garden. So we were told. Years later, Mum confessed that it died and she didn't want us to be sad. Little did she know that, for months afterwards, I would stand outside with my head back and look for the wayward budgie in the tall trees by our fence line. Kind of like when I was twelve and mum was pregnant, until Dad told us that she "lost" the baby, and then I hoped for a long time that she would find it again. True story.

So we found a kitten. And we wanted it so badly that we played with it in the tree house that Dad built for us in those tall trees. When we had to go in the house for dinner we left the kitten in the tree house so that we could play with it the next day. I don't think we even left a saucer of milk for the poor little thing, as we would never have been able to sneak it out of the house without Mum knowing.

The next day, I believe, was Sunday. And, even from within the house, as we donned our Sunday clothes, we could hear a loud caterwauling coming from some place in the back garden. As Mum and Dad puzzled about where the sound could be coming from, Anne and I shivered in our shoes, dreading being discovered in our misdeed. I can't imagine why we were so scared, because we were quite doted upon, but scared we were.
Eventually, of course, the sound was tracked to the tree house and the kitten was released. The mother in me thinks that there must have been a mess to clean up, but I don't think we had any part of it.

I remember my Dad was angry. He threatened to report us to the RSPCA. I was mortified and repentant and probably mad that I didn't get to keep the kitten.

I don't know why the incident has stayed with me. I still remember the dread of that morning, knowing that we were about to be discovered but hoping that there was somehow a way out of it. If I could have, I would have sneaked down the path to the tree house and let the kitten out, but there was no way to do it without being seen. Ours was not the kind of home where our parents were ever unaware of our doings.

Why am I telling you this story? I don't know really, except it occurs to me that Mum and Dad had no concept of what was going on in our little undeveloped minds. Of how we longed for a pet that we could cuddle or how we knew that what we had done was wrong but somehow couldn't help ourselves. And that there was no way that we had the courage to confess to the misdeed, even though things would have gone better for us if we had. And how I perpetuated this trend when my kids were growing up and how I wish I had been self-aware enough to encourage them to explore and discuss their feelings without condemning them for it.

Parental guilt.
I wonder if it ever goes away?
Maybe that's why I'm always working at being the world's best Nana.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The WORST chocolate cake EVER!

Beautiful Dolly is moving.
From me.

Which is hardly fair, seeing as how we just barely became best traveling buddies and bosom friends.
Wow. That was a mighty stretch of alliteration, don't you agree?

Dolly and her sweet friend, Idella. 
Anyway. I threw a little luncheon for a few of her friends today and we had beans and rice.
And this.

It is the worst chocolate cake ever, in case you didn't notice the post title.
I wouldn't recommend you make it.
But in case you want to ruin your day, and the next one after that, here is the recipe.
You can blame it on Pioneer Woman.
As usual, I've simplified the recipe, but feel free to refer to the original if you prefer the details.

Big Chocolate Cake

2 c butter
1 c cocoa
4 c flour
4 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 c water
1 c buttermilk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp B. Soda
2 tsp vanilla

Line 4 9" round pans with waxed paper. Or, if you only have two, like me, do it in two batches.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Melt butter in a pan and add cocoa. Mix together and then add water. Bring to a boil for about 30 seconds and remove from heat.
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in cocoa mixture, buttermilk, and eggs. Mix well. Divide between the four pans. Bake for 20 mins or until top is firm when touched. Cool in pans for 10 mins then tip out onto cooling racks.


3 c heavy whipping cream
24 oz semisweet chocolate (I used 4 c chocolate chips)
2 tsp vanilla

Scald the cream in a pan (you know, heat till little bubbles emerge at the edge of the pan) and stir in chocolate until completely melted. Stir in vanilla and refrigerate till cool but not solid. Beat with electric beaters until colour lightens and the frosting becomes fluffy. Ish. 
Spread between the four layers and all over the outside. If you're lucky, you will have some left that you can nosh on in private when the cake is only a sweet memory.
Keep cake cool, in the fridge or in a glacial spare bedroom that has the heat shut off.
I call it my second fridge.

That's it. 
It serves about 24, so if you do get brave and make it.
You know where I live.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A little madness in the spring

I know it's only weather, mundane at best, but the English in me cannot resist the blog post.

As I was driving home from a nearby town yesterday afternoon, weary and froggy-voiced from facilitating three music therapy sessions and still with piano lessons to teach, the rain was falling slushily onto the windscreen. I mumbled and grumbled all the way back to town about the cold, cold, rain and how I was sick of it.
By the time I drove back to our house in the twilight, the snow was drifting almost horizontally to the ground. This is what greeted me at my front door.


That, and a nice log fire in the house, for which I had hoped against hope. 
Jeff was rewarded with tilapia and fried potatoes.
His favourite.

It wasn't too long before darkness was falling and I discovered that it is necessary to use the camera flash in order to catch the elusive snowflakes in action.

This was the scene at midnight. I took these photos without a flash. Somehow, my magic camera compensates for the lack of ambient light. When I finally went to bed, the room was lit with the amber glow of light reflecting on snow.

Before I crawled off to work this morning (serve me right for staying up so late) I took a little jaunt around the garden. Luckily, there seems to have been no damage.

The gnomes got a bit chilly last night.

Likewise the hedgehog
Let's hope the tulips are unfazed.

Brave little aubretia flowers are still poking out around the snow.

So there you have it.
One of the strangest second-days-of-spring that we have had in a while.

I'll say it again.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Please don't pet the dust bunnies

The state of my kitchen window has been reprehensible for many months. When I cleaned the rest of the kitchen, I shied away from anything above the blue and grey tiles.
It may have had something to do with the accumulation of dead crane flies and other assorted bugs that had drifted to a state of permanent repose in the corners of the window sill.
Or the windows that were disgustingly covered with a layer of soapy water spots.
Or the otherwise-charming collection of miniature critters that were bedecked with old spider webs and a layer of kitchen grease.
Or the state of the wood itself, that suffered condensation damage in years past and wears a sadly cracked and deteriorated coat of varnish.

Are you grossed out yet?
Then you understand my reticence.

Whenever we invited people to dinner, I always hoped they will be so astounded at the quality of victuals and conversation that they wouldn't notice the kitchen window. 
So far, it seems to have worked. At least, no one has ever said, Susan, your kitchen window is so abominable!

Yesterday morning, I decided that I was going to swallow my abhorrence and clean the darn thing. 
I made an offhand comment to Jeff.
Maybe you should refinish the window sill today.

Hours later, two trips to Bi-Mart, and a layer of dust over the whole kitchen, the darling man presented me with this.

Is that a satiny-smooth shiny patina of gorgeousness or what?
Now my little turtles rock the view.

There was the added bonus of my getting in the mood to wash sheers and clean windows all over the house. The amount of dust in the lacy sheers was quite scary. I suppose I had better give spring-cleaning a try this year. If you're in the mood for a similar sort of venture yourself, there is a handy little spring cleaning worksheet at Vocalpoint that will work for any room. Go here for the download.

I mentioned to hubby darling, oh-so casually, that the kitchen window looks so good, maybe he could gradually work on the rest of the window trim in the house. 
Only this time, perhaps he should remove the wood and take it outside to sand.
My lungs and microfibre dust rag will thank him.

The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven-
All's right with the world!

~Robert Browning

HAPPY SPRING lovely readers. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Saint Paddy's Day

Somewhere on my Bucket List is a trip to the Emerald Isle. 
It keeps losing its place on the list to other travels, but every March 17th I wistfully consider nudging it back into prominence.

If you want to be Irishly inspired, I can't really improve on my post of two years ago, so go here if you missed it.
And do yourself a favour. Watch the Irish Rovers singing their famous Lilly the Pink
The synching is off, but their energy in a live concert is hard to beat.

Have a happy leprechaun day tomorrow.
Keep close watch over your lovelies.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The ones I'm missing

Nope, I'm not talking about brain cells.
I'm talking about those little darlings in North Carolina.
I'm working on a photo book of my grandkids, so Annie sent a stash of photos by email. 
So I got to drool over the feisty one...

...who really likes her bananas...

...and the sweet one, upon whose little chubbly cheeks I just want to smooch and nibble.

Elsie seems to enjoy being the boss of little Gabe.  We'll see how that plays out in a couple of years!

And speaking of missing someone, there is a certain someone whose return to the fold is imminent. The countdown is almost in single digits. 
Loose lips sink ships. 
So that is all I can say, but go ahead and hit the Like button if you know of whom I speak.