Monday, December 21, 2009
I just want you to know that I read all your nice comments and I want to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a blessed holiday season - no matter how you celebrate it ... as long as you're being good to yourself and to each other. Life's fragile, so let's treasure it and enjoy it while we can.
I miss you and love you all....
Doris, Gizzy and Middi
you can also reach me at my e-mail here:
Honey Bee Crochet
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Merry Christmas everyon!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I have a small apartment and this tree is just the right size (about 6') and shape. I got it used from a friend who purchased a new one and I have been using it for the past five years. It's starting to show wear, but nothing that decorations can't hide. I prefer a real one, but they are too cumbersome for me to handle by myself.
Most of my white ornies are the ones I crocheted - including the dilapidated angel, but I expect my angel to look worn and well used since I've had kind of a busy and often rough life. I'm sure I put him through a lot. The main thing is that it still works and that's what counts. Does anyone remember that movie "Michael" with John Travolta? That's sort of what I expect my angel to look like...but I'm almost positive I have more than one anyway, so I'm covered.
After looking at my tree, tell me what the *Garland is made from and I'll send you two of my sparkling snowflakes for your tree...
*GARLAND - the stuff that is more or less draped horizontally over the tree branches, not the ornies hanging down and it is NOT crocheted. Please, be specific! Not just what material it is, but what was it made from, like what was it before it became garland...HINT: It is recycled or repurposed! Don't give up, if nobody guesses it by Tuesday, I will select three people with the most closest guesses and send them each two of my crocheted snowflake ornaments, so happy guessing!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
I think that with the often stressful and hectic schedules during the holidays, everyone could use a good belly laugh. I sincerely hope this will do the trick. I laugh so hard every time I read it. Here we go:
If you can read this whole story without laughing, then there's no hope for you. I was laughing SO hard that I was crying by the end. This is an actual account as relayed to paramedics at a chili cook-off in Texas . (Jack’s son Rick, an actual Judge, sent this to us!)
Note: Please take time to read this slowly. If you pay attention to the first two judges, the reaction of the third judge is even better. For those of you who have lived in Texas, you know how true this is. They actually have a Chili Cook-off about the time Halloween comes around. It takes up a major portion of a parking lot at the San Antonio City Park .
Judge #3 was an inexperienced Chili taster named Frank, who was visiting from Springfield , IL .
Frank: "Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table, asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy; and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted and became Judge 3."
Here are the scorecard notes from the event:
CHILI # 1 - MIKE'S MANIAC MONSTER CHILI
Judge # 1 -- A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.
Judge # 2 -- Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.
Judge # 3 (Frank) -- Holy crap, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the Flames out. I hope that's the worst one. These Texans are crazy.
CHILI # 2 - AUSTIN 'S AFTERBURNER CHILI
Judge # 1 -- Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.
Judge # 2 -- Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
Judge # 3 -- Keep this out of the reach of children. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.
CHILI # 3 - FRED'S FAMOUS BURN DOWN THE BARN CHILI
Judge # 1 -- Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick.
Judge # 2 -- A bit salty, good use of peppers.
Judge # 3 -- Call the EPA. I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting shit-faced from all of the beer.
CHILI # 4 - BUBBA'S BLACK MAGIC
Judge # 1 -- Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
Judge # 2 -- Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.
Judge # 3 -- I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the beer maid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. This 300 lb. woman is starting to look HOT... just like this nuclear waste I'm eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?
CHILI # 5 - LISA'S LEGAL LIP REMOVER
Judge # 1 -- Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
Judge # 2 -- Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
Judge # 3 -- My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted, and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I'm burning my lips off. It really ticks me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw them.
CHILI # 6 - VERA'S VERY VEGETARIAN VARIETY
Judge # 1 -- Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.
Judge # 2 -- The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, garlic. Superb.
Judge # 3 -- My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I crapped on myself when I farted, and I'm worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that Sally. Can't feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my butt with a snow cone.
CHILI # 7 - SUSAN'S SCREAMING SENSATION CHILI
Judge # 1 -- A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
Judge # 2 -- Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. I should take note that I am worried about Judge # 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.
Judge # 3 -- You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a thing. I've lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing its too painful. Screw it; I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.
CHILI # 8 - BIG TOM'S TOENAIL CURLING CHILI
Judge # 1 -- The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.
Judge # 2 -- This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. Poor feller, wonder how he'd have reacted to really hot chili?
Judge # 3 - No Report
To your health!
While I was talking with him on the phone a moment ago, my sister walked in to pick him up for birthday cake and coffeee, followed by card games (usually Canasta or similar) with one of his brothers and other family members and maybe a little wine - a long standing Birthday Tradion that's religiously kept in honor of my dad's birthday - the eldest of five brothers.
I thought this is a good time to share some of my early childhood Christmas memories that I have of me and my dad. We lived out in the country in a small village on a big property with ponds that was surrounded by a tall, dense evergreen hedge. Periodically my dad would trim the hedge, but he always allowed about three trees to grow tall so that he would have a few to choose as our Weihnachtsbaum or Kristbaum. (Christ is also spelled with K in Germany.)
Growing up Catholic, we celebrated the four Sundays of Advent before Christmas and then on Heiligen Abend (Christmas Eve) December 24th in the afternoon, my dad would fell one of the best evergreens. He'd pick the straightest one and the one whose branches were spaced just right for clipping on the real candles that were always used in those days.
So, there we were decorating our Weihnachtsbaum not only with delicate glass ornametns, but lots of sweets like fondant and jelly rings, pretty foil wrapped chocolate ornaments and celophane wrapped marzipan strawberries. I remember us play fighting over the marzipan, because it was both of our favorites and it often turned out into a wrestling competiton over the last bite...with lots of laughing and good tastes.
Lastly we would add the tinsel, one strand at a time... so it would hang straight on each branch making the tree look as if it were covered with liquid silver. (I was mortified when I saw one of my friends in the US grab a handfull of tinsel one day and just casually toss it on her tree.) I don't use tinsel anymore, not since I saw one of my cats eating it a long, long time ago.
In Germany we exchanged our Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve after dinner and after we all stood around the lit tree, holding hands and singing some Christmas carols. My dad would accompany us with his accordion and we all sang while gazing at the candle lit Christmas tree ... oh, Tannenbaum, oh Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blaetter...
When I still believed in the Kristkindl (bringing our gifts), my dad had to be creative to allow me to hang on to my childhood fantasy as long as possible. Later on, I figured out how he did it. Somethow he manged to sneak away without me noticing and got the little angel candle light going that makes the chiming sound as the heat of the candles makes the angels turn around. (pictured below)
It was never a whole bunch, but the few things I got, I really appreciated. I knew that one uncle always gave me colored pencils because he worked for A.W. Faber Castell in Stein, Bavaria (Germany) and another uncle always gave me a book that was age appropriate and even though I knew that, I looked forward to it every year. My Oma in East Germany always sent me a Teddy Bear in the mail and when I got the brown paper package, I ran home, turning the box back and fro and hearing the bear roar inside (they used to have that little baaaa sound build in.) I loved my teddies most of all because I could sleep with them and not get pocked in the ribs by stiff fingers on the dolls' hands.
So, thanks for the memories, Papa, and please live a good long time so I can see you again!
Friday, December 11, 2009
Santa's Workshop (Walt Disney)
I had to watch it twice to see everything - like the way the elf scares the dolly's hair straight with the spider - so cute! I hope you take a few minutes to watch this. It's really fun!
It made me smile, hope it will you too. Now I'm going to get bundled up and take Mr. Gizz for a walk. This is the weather we wait for all summer long.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Whenever I'm in Valdosta (the nearest city from where I live) I just have to drive through Taco Bell (yeah, shoot me!) for my Seven layer burrito and/or some tostadas...with the hottest hot sauce! I love Mexican food and although this is not really authentic mexican cuisine (I know, my name used to be Figueroa!) it's the quickest fix for one of my favorite tastes.
So, when I'm rushing around, here are a few things I like to make on my way out the door to avoid overbuying in the grocery store or eating at a fast food joint:
1. PB&P (that's peanut butter and pickle) sandwich. (I always buy smooth and always light whole wheat.)
2. Mock BLT using Bac-Os or similar soy bacon flavored chips in place of bacon
...and if you have just a few more minutes of time to spare (about 20 min) before you have to leave, this is a tasty and quick hot meal solution:
3. Ultra quick chow mein using ramen noodles and cabbage.
I usually always have cabbage, celery, carrots and bell peppers on hand, so that works well for this dish. I just put a little water in my trusty cooking pot, then use the chicken granules from the ramen noodles or you could use some canned chicken stock if you have it handy. The trick is to not use too much water because you don't want soup - you basically want pretty much all the water gone by the time this dish is finished. You can always check and add a little more as the dish cooks.
While that heats, chop your cabbage rather finely (I like the long thin strips so they mix well with the noodles) and chop up a little celery, maybe some long carrot peels (using the vegetable peeler on your cleaned and peeled carrot) for making nice, long strips, maybe a bit of thinly sliced bell pepper - put it in your chicken broth and give that a head start to cook down a little (but not all the way. The goal here is to cook the veggies so that they are semi-crunchy (as in stir fry.)
During the last 3 minutes or so, place your ramen noodle pack in your pot and nestle it in there with the veggies. Put some hot veggies on top to help it cook quicker. Just another few minutes later you will have a nice hot meal (for now and later) that you can enhance with a little soy sauce, hot sauce or some fresh, chopped, green onion or cilantro (if you have it.) After plating, I like to sprinkle some sunflower seeds on top for crunch and protein instead of my usual toasted sesame seeds when I make the authentic stir fry version.
As you can see, this fresh veggie dish leaves lots of room for augmentation and the sky's the limit, as long as it's fresh. Just thought I'd share a couple of quick meals so you don't have to do the fast food thing all the time.
Oh, be sure and employ your crockpot. It's the perfect time to pull it out and use it again - especially as a working parent with a family to feed. It worked wonders for me when I was there and did that.
Have a blessed season and remember to slow down just a little and avoid switching to auto pilot. Granny was right in saying: "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
REMEMBER: Safety first! You'll get there eventually - just be sure you get there alive and all in one piece!
I also heard from Tina via e-mail of Beansie Bables. As most of you know she moved and will try to get back to blogging soon. I was worried because I've not heard from her and hoped nothing had happend to her during her move. I often wondered about that. What if something happened to anyone of us. Notifying ones friends on the Internet is probably the family's last concern. So, I just thought I'd share what I know with those of you that know her - albeit she's probably e-mailed you too.
Well, off to picking up my vehicle from the dealer, then the post office and then more crocheting...I'm a crocheting fool today - I'm a hooker, an Etsy Hooker to be specific - a gal with a hook (what were you thinking?)
Oh, by the by, I won't have Internet access for a while. My contract runs out on the 14th, so until I get a good deal again for another year, I'll be holding off renewing and just use the computer in the library for now. I wont' be able to upload or download from there, so I'll just do the best I can without the pretty pictures ;-)
Before I run off again, I want to show you some photos I took the other day of this red shouldered hawk... they are everywhere right now, hunting and scaring the little critters, but they sure are beautiful! The other morning one ended up on my hedge right outside my apartment, but I was so excited that the picture turned out blurry, besides it was through the screen - not a good shot. I often see them sitting on the ground tugging and stomping at something or another. Every day I can hear them as they fly around making that hawkish cry that they have...I think they are so handsome!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Since 1984, PNC Financial Services advisors have calculated the cost of the gifts from the Twelve Days of Christmas carol each holiday season. Everything is factored in, from eight maids to 10 lords to 12 drummers. Here, you can see a chart of the cost of the Christmas Price Index over the years.
For those of you looking to get your true love all the gifts mentioned in the "Twelve Days of Christas" carol, don't come with chump change: The total cost of all the items this year (2009) is $21,465
This is what's called a "bunte Teller" meaning a colorful plate, a typical gift from St. Nikolaus if you were good as it is St. Nikolaus Tag in Germany and other European countries. I trust most children got some tasty treats on their plates or in their shoes, but I bet there also will be some very scared (probably) little boys vowing to do better next year. (Read my previous post for details.)
Saturday, December 5, 2009
(Personally, I think some people need a little foretaste of hell to make them behave decently, but then, that's just my opinion - I could be wrong!)
17th century European history reveals that St. Nikolaus has traveled with an array of unsavory servants, known as Zwarte Piet, Cert, Knecht Ruprecht, Krampus, Black Peter. Read this to learn more.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Did you know baked goods containing honey have a longer shelf life? This is due to honey's natural preserving qualities? (Honey does not require refrigeration.) Here's a recipe you can try using honey:
German Honey Bars Lebkuchen (makes about 6 dozen bars) Ingredients: 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/3 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 cup honey 1/2 cup dark molasses 3/4 cup packed brown sugar 4 tablespoons butter (not margarine) sweet unsalted, melted 1 large egg 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds (optional) Optional Glaze (recipe below) Preparation: 1.Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 15X10-inch jelly-roll pan; set aside. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom and ginger in medium bowl. Combine honey and molasses in medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, butter and egg. 2.Place brown sugar mixture in large bowl. Gradually add flour mixture. Beat at low speed with electric mixer until dough forms. Stir in almonds with spoon, if desired. (Dough will be slightly sticky.) Spread dough evenly into prepared pan. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until golden brown and set. Remove pan to wire rack; cool completely. 3.Prepare Glaze. Spread over cooled bar cookies. Let stand until set, about 30 minutes. Cut into 2X1-inch bars. Store tightly covered at room temperature or freeze up to 3 months. Glaze Recipe 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (organic or very well washed) 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice Preparation: 1.Place all ingredients in medium bowl; stir with spoon until smooth. (Find more recipes on How Stuff Works)