Saturday, December 31, 2011

very quickly.....

Depending on when I get back to cyber land, I want to wish you a happy new year. I also want to hop back on later and post pretty things and updates. Responding to shameless requests for money from the democratic party has stolen a bit of that time, so I will be back later today.  I did a bit of painting last night and some design, so I am happier with myself than I have been in awhile. I also giggled for awhile during my responses, honestly, what do they think they can do with $12,000 anyway? Buy gas for the democratic party? Donuts and coffee?

As with most of you, the holiday season has been keeping us busy - in a good way. I wish for you all the same.

More later, must scoot now!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

To everyone, everywhere:

May your Christmas bring you joy, or, if you need it more, peace.

May your Christmas bring you something that helps renew your spirit.

May you find grace strengthening your steps in the New Year.

Be safe in the holiday season (that fake mistletoe can be real trouble!!)
I'll have new pics up next week - I am Quite Happy with how my mom's birthday card turned out :-)

Take care,


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Breathing In the Season - Eating, Writing, Thinking...

Goodness, only 3 days left 'till Christmas Eve! Before any other time slips by, may I extend further wishes for a stress-free end of the week! If you do not celebrate Christmas, at least half of those around you do, and I pray their stress doesn't raise yours :-)

In my last post, I mentioned that I draw a lot of relief from aesthetics. Happily, it's one of the revelations I use to stay on top of housework when I am in my current condition, sniffly, tired, and grasping for grace. As the Queen of Good Intentions, it would be remiss to not acknowledge that I am occasionally, also, the Fool of Follow-Through! I feel like I have not kept quite up with my ambitions for the week, but then, that's what babysteps are for. At the very least, shopping is done, all but 3 presents are wrapped for the kids, and there are not many others to take care of.

My mother's birthday is Christmas day, so I've set a good - relatively easy - brunch menu to make for her, my step-dad and my family. I've been looking forward to making Cinnamon-Pancetta waffles for some time, and I get to attempt a hollandaise (thank you Joy of Cooking!) sauce for Eggs Benedict. If I'm really on top of it, I can make her a cafe mocha. If I'm Not on top of it, it will be Coffee and Baileys, with Prosecco, OJ, and fresh fruit. I'm also considering the prosciutto/rosemary/raspberry jam panini with cheese and brown sugar.

Damn, I hope I stay on top of it!

I'm...stewing over the WIP. Again. Still haven't resolved my thoughts about how the story ends, either. It can go one of two ways, and the more violent ending seems to make the most "sense" for the arc of the story. Not sure how to refigure it if I aim for a less-violent ending. So, the twisty little bugger is in a thoroughly earned time-out for a bit! However, I haven't been entirely lazy in the Arts dept. I came up with a pretty design for my aunt's 50th birthday card, and have begun sketching ideas for my mom's. I did a respectable one for my step-mother as well, and surprised myself by playing a melody line of "Ode to Joy' on my son's violin - from memory (can't read music). And last night, in a rare quiet moment, I did some research for the next story on the burner. So far, it looks like I need a pre-statehood map of Minnesota/Michigan trading posts. Which seems less daunting than the ecotoxicology I've been researching for my horror WIP - still no title for the damned thing, either!

In February, I may get away with my husband for a bit of a winter vacation - I'm looking forward to quiet walks and recuperation. He deserves a break and a good amount of electronic downtime. Unplugging. We'll see about getting to one of the north shore resort areas, and take in the stillness for awhile. That idea is so calming to me now, that just meditating on the quieter air, the awesomely still and expansive horizon, I believe I may have just settled my allergies down a bit - or maybe that's just my Winter Minestrone kicking in ;-) (thank you, Giada).

So, that's what this fumbling, vaguely artistic, and perhaps overly-ambitious blogger has been up to...and very little else.

I think the morning of the twenty-sixth, I may let myself sleep in until noon.....

Wishing you all a beautiful week, a lovely holiday, and as much peace and respite as you need. Then, come back and visit.

Otherwise, you'll never know if I managed to serve a tasty brunch at Christmas....or merely salmonella salad!

My best to you all ;-)


Monday, December 19, 2011

It's About That Snow....

Um, I was going to try to....avoid this.

I am having a meltdown.

Hah. That's only partially true. I am not having a meltdown - the bloody SNOW is having a meltdown! Or, rather, it had it's cute little meltdown and now it is gone. From Minnesota, of all places. Home of the beloved Frostbite Falls (if you aren't a Rocky and Bullwinkle fan, just.....try to keep up ;-). Let me assure you, more than half the Minnesotans I know have No Problem at All with this. But for those of us tender souls (oh go ahead and snort already, get it out of your system!) who are aesthetically dependent, this totally, totally SUCKS. As if Holiday Spirit isn't a tricky proposition in this economy anyway!!

Every one I know has one or more friends/family struggling with unemployment. Christmas is very stressful in general - add higher gas prices and price gouging on Amazon (thanks, guys!) and you have a ho-ho-ho season that feels a bit more like NoNoNo! And then, take away my white, fluffy, security blanket? Sledding? Ice skating?

Come. On.

I have a kinder relationship with snow than most, simply because I don't have to drive in it much. And if I have to be out in it (for sledding or playing with the kids) nothing stops me from making a pot of coffee ahead to help me recover. Every kid understands the power of the blank canvas that is snow, and there is something about the quiet and visual calmness that a fresh snowfall brings. Sound is softened by snow. Dirt, dead grass, and patches in the grass are all smoothed over, and the view is refreshed.

Unless you happen to live in my neighborhood. In my state. The state of chilly mornings and brown grass. Offering no visual respite to busy bodies and tired minds. I went through most of last week with my husband on long days (thank goodness my kids turned into wildly cooperative and cheerful ones!) while I got the house set for visitors and a big meal. My youngest aunt is turning 50, so we also went out to celebrate the big day, We even went to a Christmas concert this weekend - and all this should have been enough to thoroughly wipe me out. I have a hate-hate relationship with stress - it gives me allergies, headaches, bad dreams, and I swear it triggers my vertigo too!

If it were just another event coming up like July 4, or a big birthday, it probably would have.

My Christmas stress seems to come from feeling like anything I choose isn't 'good enough' for the ones I love. (smells a little like insecurity, right?) There's a lot of grace in 'knowing yourself', and that's a huge help in honoring your loved ones with gifts. And my faith tells me that giving generously with love honors God as well.

This morning, after I drop my daughter off at pre-school, I think I'll pick up a peppermint mocha. When I get back, I'll put on Celtic Woman's Christmas album, or something else vast and snowy (Sigur Ros?) and finish addressing my Christmas cards so they can get in the mail and 'make' it by Friday. I'll wrap gifts, drink my water, and plan good meals for the week. I'll remind myself that Christmas is inside, more than outside, and let that guide me through the final week of anxious children, tired spouses, and other facets of holiday Hell.

I've got a long way to go, but I think I'll just worry about getting through today. And work on sorting out our blessings, our priorities, and our time together with gratitude.

Snow, or no snow.

Have a good week - may the weather be kind and not let you, or anyone you love, down :-)


Friday, December 9, 2011

Snow Angel

It is Very. Very. Cold.

In order to hop back into the holiday mood, I have posted a pic of my homemade snow angel. She could use some tidying up, perhaps. But, considering she's made of a clothespin, brown paper bag scrap, paper doily, glitter and glue, scavenged feathers and cheesecloth, as well as a torn scrap of aluminum foil, I think she's acceptable for now. (yep, I know that angels are It's. Also, many of them are not at home without a flaming sword. But I was going for simplified ;-)

I had started a poem about a rookie angel, but I doubt this one is the same. This is more a celebration of the change of the year. And to peek at the glory around you (don't forget to get up early tomorrow morning for the lunar eclipse!)

I have to fly, much to do and little time to do it! My hands and face are dreadfully dry right now, so I am going to chug my icewater, wrap a present, indulge in some serious moisturizer and pull on my cozy gloves and scarf. I can't outdo my daughter in the winter gear - she has a panda hat, for heavens sake! - but I feel I need to layer on and protect my skin!

Stay warm, safe, and filled with enough joy to get you through the weekend :-)


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hey, you're here!!!

Hello Orchid Visitors!

I am full of apologies about being awol for a bit. On the other hand, with December rolling, and Christmas having me - and many other's in it's gunsight - you may look at it as a well-deserved quiet space on your side, or a predictably overdue lapse on mine.

There's no big news to share. I'm slogging my way through stock-making tonight, and have very obviously erred on water quantity, so in order to avoid Kitchen Mayhem, I may have to set the hot pot in a cool sink to cool it quickly (once the initial cool down happens) and finish the 'boiling down' process tomorrow. I've only done homemade stock once before, so chalk this fiasco up to ignoring my gut instinct. Only I can reliably confuse Joy of Cooking instructions this badly...

Baking has proved more productive, but slower - gingerbread has scented our house for the last two days. Thank God the neighbor popped by with some homemade tamales - it gave me an excuse to get a batch of cookies out of our house and into hers. I've decided I'd like to give up my gut for Lent. Any takers? I'm starting early ;-)

Off to cool that stock pot. The steam isn't bad for the orchids right now, our house is slightly too dry. A nice sink full of hot soapy water to finish the kitchen tidy-up would also humidify nicely, but my poorly-timed breaking of the garbage disposal tonight has obviated that solution. This is setting up tomorrow to be quite the 'different' day indeed!

Step one achieved, pot is off the heat and all flavor is thoroughly eradicated from the chicken. 10 minutes of typing and I will start cooling it off in the sink. I'll also be making a trip to the garage with the chicken carcasses. My obese felines are on a strict diet now - chicken parts in our nice steel-finish garbage can would just prompt those wretches to grow thumbs and dig out my can opener. They already whine all night - unless one of us gets up early with the kids for some reason - the cats are too confused to beg. One guess as to which one of us is the likeliest candidate to get up with them tomorrow - er, okay, THIS morning!

Hmm. chocolate teddy grahams don't go as well with the red wine as I'd hoped. Nice on their own, though. ANYWAY, back to the tedium, er, the work in progress....

I have moved the WIP to the back burner for the moment - you know, the burner with the stock on it? The burner, as it happens, where I Do, in fact, Take Stock of Things. And, near as I can tell, unless I start changing my ways (tonight being a Really Poor Start on this) that WIP is waiting another week (watch me get the writing bug Saturday night and look like an even Bigger idiot!). I skipped a meeting of our writers group (they are a fabulously forgiving bunch - they know when I plead incompetence that I'm not entirely joking!) but those lovely folks are having 2 meetings this month and I may strive to make that second one happen. I started a poem two days ago, but it's sensationalistic and preachy and may be better off in the can. With the chicken carcass.  It seems to be a dystopian presage to the God's Dremel Tools poem (unfinished) and that's a little grim series trying to happen there....and that's a downer even for me.

December 4th marks the anniversary of my brother's passing, and it's smacked me around but good this time. My brother was probably not the man I idolize, but damn, I bet he was close. I try to make a point, this time each year, to think about what made him the fantastic, giving, and honest person he was. Last year I gave you Denny stories (funnier to those who knew him, apologies to the rest of you) and maybe I need to re-post a few of them. He is who I want to be when I grow up. Not insignificantly,  I should also mention he was a hell of a better cook than I am!

(pause. Stock check). Yup, handsome, smart, giving, brilliant, hysterically funny as needed, and a good cook too. Annoying, when you come down to it. But like many, many others, his life was a too-brief one - aged 29. Filled with sound and fury, laughter and wit, ambition and longing, loving and giving. Yet he got the same thing you and I get.

He got a life.

If mine can be as genuine, as full, as giving, as joyful, well, I might start feeling pretty good the next time I take stock.

Have a good week, I'll post something pretty when I come back :-)