Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas is.....

Special cards from friends and family...

 My grandma's crucifix and my mother's bell...

Cutter in the kitchen helping me make cookies...

Nature's unexpected gift after the rain...

 The color red...

Being greeted by the locals...

And feeling well enough to take a walk... I'm so thankful.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A walk outside between storms

"It was a happy thought to bring 
To the dark season's frost and rime
This painted memory of spring,
This dream of summertime." 


"But welcome, be it new or old, 
The gift which makes the day
more bright,
And paints, upon the ground of cold
And darkness, warmth and light!" 

Flowers in Winter by John Greenleaf Whittier


(Only two stanzas of a very long poem.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Feeling Better and Makin' Cookies

Saturday morning I was feeling better so I baked some cookies....
This is called the Ultimate Ginger Cookie. It's one of Ina Garten's (The Barefoot Contessa) recipes. You can find it on the Food Network website and a lot of other places because it's a very popular cookie.
I watched Ina make these on her cooking show a few weeks back and decided to try them. I bought the crystallized ginger and then got sick. Saturday was the first day I felt like baking again so this is what I decided to create.
The only changes I made to the recipe were to reduce the amount of ground cloves from 11/2 teaspoons to 1/2 teaspoon, (I wanted GINGER cookies not CLOVE cookies.) I increased the ground ginger to 1 tsp. from 1/2 tsp. and when I chopped the crystallized ginger (very finely) I only had 1 cup instead of  11/4 cups that it called for.That was plenty. Almost too much.  I think a half to three quarters cup would be fine.
I used a size 40 scoop and refrigerated the dough for about a half hour to stiffen it some. It's very soft dough. Then I dropped the scoop of dough right into the sugar and carefully rolled it around. This dough is sticky so you don't want to handle it very much. When it's covered with sugar pick it up and put it on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
I pressed each scoop with a fork (like peanut butter cookies) and bake for 13 mins. This is where I made a slight mistake. I only baked them for 11 mins. They looked done because they are so dark in color. I think I should have baked them the full 13 mins.
They came out crispy on the outside and moist on the inside but today they are soft all around. I think they needed the extra minutes to stay crispy. The sugar gives them a shine on top. I would like to try a decorative sugar that's bigger and doesn't melt in as much as regular sugar does to see how it looks.
After a taste test, the Prospector and I agreed that this cookie was a keeper. They were delicious. The recipe made about 30 cookies.
You don't need "kosher" salt. I don't even know what that is. I thought salt was salt. Although, it may have to do with plain or iodized. I don't know. Just use what you have in the cupboard.
Follow the mixing directions to the letter. Don't use butter instead of oil and cook them for the full 13 minutes.
Now... enjoy them. They are even better the next day. We had one for BREAKFAST yesterday. All those spices kind of shake hands and start dancing together overnight. The flavor blends and "marries". ( This is a relationship that deserves a poem, Chef E.)
I took a nap after the cookies were done. Still not back to normal but, oh, I feel so much better. Maybe it's the GINGER.
Have a good week before Christmas and Bon Appetit!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Slow Down for a Moment and Un-Grinch

" Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot,
but the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville - did not.
The Grinch hated Christmas - the whole Christmas season.
Now, please don't ask why; no one quite knows the reason.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
Or it could be that his head wasn't screwed on just right.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
may have been that his heart was two sizes too small. "

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags."
" He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!"

  "And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say
that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day.
And then - the true meaning of Christmas came through,
and the Grinch found the strength of *ten* Grinches, plus two!"

" Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer.
Cheer to all Whos far and near.
Christmas Day is in our grasp
so long as we have hands to clasp.
Christmas Day will always be
just as long as we have we.
Welcome Christmas while we stand,
heart to heart and hand in hand."

I'm feeling a little better today. This was a bad Grinch like bug.
Please try and enjoy the days before Christmas.
Take time to bring good cheer to someone... smile at a stranger, call a friend.... and when there is a moment, sit down with a cup of tea and close your eyes. Think good thoughts and say " Welcome Christmas, bring your cheer, Cheer to all (Folks) far and near."
Thank you Dr. Seuss for reminding us what Christmas means and showing us that even when we feel like a Grinch we can change our attitude.... simply by giving something of ourselves.

Christmas Quotes – Dr. Seuss – How the Grinch Stole Christmas

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Baby Bean

Hi Baby Bean.....
Remember when you were only 3 years old?
Remember when we found slugs at Strandwood school?
Remember when you told me that you had bigger 'matos at your house?... and walked up the hill, with Noni, above the chicken house?
And made this face.....
For the camera?
 You're 4 years old today..... Where did the year go? 
 We wish you a big, wonderful, gummy worm and 'mato day, big boy. Have fun! We love you and we send lots of tickles and sunshine wishes down to you.
Lots of hugs and love to you, Noni & Papa 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cutter Talks About Christmas and Other Things....

Hi, It's Cutter here....

Merry Christmas! This is my first holiday dog post in my new "good" home. I'm a year old now and everything has been really great.... until Farmlady got sick. See these bags under my eyes. This is because I have to monitor all her activities. 
At first it was fine because she was really sick and when she took her medicine all she did was sleep. Now she's feeling better and look at this mess....
She sits at the dining table almost all day and makes Christmas cards and other stuff. There's glue and glitter everywhere. Glitter doesn't even taste good.
She took these pictures of cards that she made yesterday.... for some of her friends. I don't see one with my name on it. I have been trying to clean up after her and all I get is maybe a biscuit and a "Don't touch that, Cutter!". She makes a mess and then goes over to the couch and practices her knitting. She says this is called Ribbing. It looks like something good to chew on.... to me.
She gets all excited about this knitting. I've never seen her like something so much except when she takes Carl and I for a walk or when she's making cookies or cheese. By the way....walking has been slim lately and today it's all wet outside. I don't like this wet stuff. I just sit on the porch and watch for the cat, so I can bark at her. She must not like wet stuff either because I don't see her when it's wet out there.
Yesterday, Farmlady made something long with ribbons that I kept trying to grab. It has pictures on it  and more glitter. She says it's about "memories" of a trip to a place called Montana. She called it a GARLAND.
 She told me that if I grabbed any of this she would put me on the porch for a while. It was all laid out on the ironing board and hanging over the edge... I just wanted to grab the sparkley thing on the end. Just because she's sick she doesn't have to be cranky. 
The cards are nice. They have more sparkely stuff on them.
 Farmlady seemed happy with them. She smiled at me and said she needed to do some more. 
I think that she needs to lay down and rest so I can get in a little shut eye myself....

I let her have my bedroom since she's been sick. I've been sleeping in my crate in the other bedroom were she and the Prospector usually sleep. The coughing was keeping everyone awake so we traded. It's nice. It's a bigger room and because the Prospector sleeps with the window open, I can hear the Coyotes, at night, sometimes.

"Christmas is coming." That's what Farmlady says.... and then she always adds,  "with or without me."
I don't really understand it all but I think it's a good thing. We have a tree... in the house and there are lights outside with different colors. I like this at night. It's not so scary. 
Farmlady has been in the kitchen more again and I heard her tell the Prospector that she's feeling better. She also said that she wishes her two sons would call her. That sounded like a little bit of sadness in her voice so I thought I would say it, here, just in case they are reading this.
I guess that's all I have to say. Carl is sleeping. He can sleep a lot...
He's my uncle, you know. He's two. He can get cranky like Farmlady, but I like him. When I run around him in circles and jump on him, he gives me "the look" and growls a little. I have learned a lot from him. He's my best friend.
  Well, time for lunch and then I think I will go lie down for a while and catch a few....  
Merry Christmas everyone. May you all find  lot's of biscuits in your stockings. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Intimations of Life Without Christmas

Silly me! Christmas is almost here, and other than a few ornaments and what was handy in some boxes in the closet, this is what it will be this year.
I got a viral infection that has wasted a whole week and almost wasted me. It started with a small headache and loosing my voice. It turned into a monster that wouldn't let me breath and coughing that almost did me in. By yesterday I said "I give." and went to the hospital in Elk Grove to see my doctor. I started running a fever.
I wrote this poem for him....although I didn't take it with me, so he didn't actually see it.

Please Doctor.... Make me well

Christmas is a coming.
I've got so much to do...
The cookies need some baking 

and all the gifts bought too.
I can't be sick much longer. 
It's not the time of year.
I haven't finished anything. 

Please kick me in the rear.
Give me all the medicine

that you know will make me well.
Because the season is coming fast 

and, Oh, I feel like Hell.
Just one magic potion

to make my body right.
Just one magic potion 

to let me see the light.
I promise I will write a letter,

with cookies, to your boss,
And tell them you're the best darn "doc"

in the whole entire Hosp'.

(OK, that last line is kind of lame. I will work on it.)
The Prospector drove this wretched person down to her appt. The doctor listened, poked and did some tests and sent me home with antibiotics, Codeine cough medicine and Albuterol inhaler. He told me that I shouldn't have waited so long to come in. I was borderline. (I've known that for years.)
Today I feel...... better. Kind of.
Silly me. I thought I wasn't going to get better. It's hard to be positive when you can't breath.
I have this small thought inside that is getting larger, as I grow older. It's like a window with old distorted glass. I'm looking into it and I see my reflection. Behind me is my mother. She couldn't breath either.
At some point in our lives we see this reflection of what lies ahead... and it's so scary we can't even say it's name.
I'm so glad Christmas is coming..... Maybe it will snow.