Tag: christmas

Time to put up the Christmas decorations

 

Yep, it’s Twelfth Night, the proper day to put away your Christmas decorations until the day after Thanksgiving this year. It’s also time to pull out the Mardi Gras decorations and eat every available piece of king cake. Shreveport’s Whole Foods, for one, is prepared. They’ve actually been prepared for a few days – I just wouldn’t let myself partake until the Proper Day, which happens to be today. Guess who’s going to Whole Foods.

Christmas this year was blissfully uneventful. You saw the beginning and Penny’s second-long tolerance of Santa. (Yes, she’ll be doing it again next year.) After that was a flurry of family-related activity that left everyone exhausted, as the holidays tend to do. At least I ate well.

Guess where I am. ❤️❤️❤️

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That, by the way, is arguably one of Shreveport’s greatest delicacies: the marinated crab claws at Ernest’s. Palmer’s parents took us there a couple days before Christmas. Yurrm.

Until just a few days ago, it still looked like Fall around here. I took this picture on December 22 while I was walking Penny:

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The temperature was in the 70s on Christmas, so I didn’t even get to wear my ridiculous kitten sweater. Penny has taken advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures for some surrious backyard play time, though I’m sure she’d be willing to roll around and play fetch even in below-freezing blizzard conditions.

Really, she might prefer below-freezing blizzard conditions. Hopefully we’ll find out at some point during her lifetime.

In other happy(ish) pet news, Louise appears to have figured out how to play:

I turned on my webcam when I saw her play for the first time. She was especially angry for a few days after I took her to the vet for her shots, but she seems to have calmed down again.

Aaand I just realized that I only took a couple pictures on Christmas. I have to be better at pulling out my camera. Here’s the highlight:

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Last year, I got a box of Christmas crackers and forgot about them, so this year Palmer and I opened all six at once. A good time was had by all.

In other household news, we tried unsuccessfully to complete a 1000-piece puzzle. We gave up after only a couple days of kitty helping.

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For New Year’s, Charlotte visited from Portland, and we had a time unlike I’ve had since I was about 25. It was an…adventure.

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She also finally got to meet Penny, which made everyone happy, especially Penny.

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So, now that Christmas is over, what’s next (besides a hunk of king cake)? I’ve got a few projects. There’s the 50-book goal, school’s about to start again (UGH), and I started a Massive Craft Project that I’ll blog about in the near future because I think it’s pretty neat. I’d also like to carry my good camera around everywhere and Take All the Pictures, but as only one of the photos in this post were taken by said camera, I’m not sure that’s going to happen.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Christmas tree FAIL. Plus super-tasty gingerbread muffins!

So, as you saw in the last post, we got a beautiful Christmas tree, and everything was going swimmingly. Even Zelda was (mostly) leaving it alone. I took the plunge and strung up the lights and garland, and Palmer put the angel on top.

 

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Pretty nice, right? (I’ll give you one guess why I didn’t take the garland down to the bottom.) Well, that lasted for a couple days, then THIS happened:

 

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And that was not the worst of it. I was minding my own business, watching TV, when I heard a creaking sound. Zelda wasn’t involved because she was lying on the sofa right next to me. I look at the tree, and it’s leaning so far forward I thought it would topple over any minute. I went over there and leaned it against the wall, but not before the angel fell forward, losing her head as she hit the floor. I thought the adjustable leveler had come undone, which I could fix myself, but one of the screws around the base had come loose.

 

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Awesome. Even more awesome is the fact that Palmer won’t be home to fix it for almost two weeks. MEH.

In more pleasant news, I made some fantastic gingerbread muffins, and I’m totally going to share the recipe. You really should try these. There are lots of weirdo recipes floating around Pinterest right now (one of which I was stupid enough to try), but this one is taste-tested and approved, guaranteed bs-free.

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And they’re SO easy to make – as are most muffins. They’re also pretty sweet. For me, anyway.

 

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Mix brown sugar, molasses, milk, canola oil, unsweetened applesauce, and an egg with a mixer, which brings us to the Ugly part of this recipe:

 

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In another bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, wheat flour, baking powder, ginger, salt, baking soda (are both really necessary?), cinnamon, and allspice.

 

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You might want to add a tiny sprinkle of black pepper because said pepper is always good in gingerbread. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and you end up with a batter that looks suspiciously like peanut butter…or that uber-tasty Biscoff butter. Yum.

 

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Aww, yeah. I could have eaten ALL of that with a spoon.

And that’s about it! Dump it into a lined muffin tin, and pop it in the oven for about twenty minutes. You’ll be impressed with your Christmas baking skillz.

 

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I’ll take twelve, please.

Gingerbread Muffins!
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Lindsay Attaway
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
Instructions
  1. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin by lining the cups with paper cup liners or by spraying with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, molasses, milk, oil, applesauce, and egg until well blended.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. Batter will still be slightly lumpy, which is fine – do not overmix.
  6. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups (use an ice cream scoop!).
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.
Carbohydrates: 29

Recipe heavily adapted from The Seasoned Mom.

Yay Christmas! (And we survived Thanksgiving.)

The various end-of-the-year holidays are always exciting, but for me, it’s all just a build-up to Christmas. It’s been so long since I’ve lived in New Orleans now that it’s eclipsed Mardi Gras in my Hierarchy of Awesome Holidays, and I start looking forward to it once the first Fall cold snap hits.

Speaking of Fall, Shreveport is beautiful right now.

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We don’t get the amazing colors of the Northeast, but it’s good enough for me.

Did I mention that we somehow agreed to host Thanksgiving for the first time this year? I’m still not quite sure how it happened. We had six guests: Nunpoo, my uncle David, my mom, her husband, and Palmer’s parents – and somehow everything went well! Palmer was well-prepared with a 21-lb. turkey, which he put in a brining bag in our ginormous refrigerator for a full 24 hours.

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It turned out beautifully.

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There was SO MUCH food. I made brussels sprouts with apples and bacon, zucchini boats, and autumn squash soup; my mom made the famous Sweet Potato Business and a green bean casserole; and Palmer’s mom brought a(n amazing) pumpkin pie, a pecan pie, macaroni and cheese, cornbread dressing, deviled eggs, yeast rolls, and…I’m probably missing something. One table wasn’t big enough to hold it…

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So Palmer had to carve the turkey on the coffee table.

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The food was excellent, and we all had a good time.

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I even volunteered to do it again next year.

But wait, you say, where’s Zelda in all of this? She’s young and energetic and super-jumpy, and I’m always terrified that she’s going to knock Nunpoo down, so she was locked in my library until we’d finished eating and everyone had settled down and stopped moving. She napped during most of that time and behaved admirably once she was released. I made her Puppy Pumpkin Pies, which might have made her feel a little better about things. She was exhausted after everyone left.

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After a huge dinner and a nice, long puppy nap, it was Christmas!

On Friday, Palmer and I headed to Santa’s Woods in Frierson, where we always buy our Christmas tree. It proved a little difficult because the latest Arctic Vortex killed most of the pines, which looked bad this year, anyway. So we ended up with a cypress.

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We were both worried about how Zelda would react once we got it home, but things didn’t go badly at all.

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Palmer got a video of her first reaction, which we both thought would be different.

You can’t tell from the thumbnail (which I should probably change since it looks a bit violent), but all was well…until we noticed she was picking little pieces one by one. I think she’s stopped.

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Later today, we’ll be putting on the lights and garland. After that, we might add a few ornaments if the puppy allows. We’ll see.

We’re gearing up for a fantastic (or at least very interesting) Christmas!

 

Merry Christmas!

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Okay, I haven’t finished my book, so this isn’t a review because I don’t have anything to review yet. In my defense, Bleak House is an especially looooong book, and somehow Dickens doesn’t read as quickly as George R.R. Martin. I’ll probably finish by the end of the year. (I guess now’s the time to write my big end-of-the-year post, anyway. Which I skipped last year. I know.)

So. Since it’s taking me a long time to read this behemoth, and I haven’t posted in a while, I figured I’d offer a Christmas update (in the last half-hour before Doctor Who makes me cry. But that’s neither here nor there). So here goes. And since this post will be mostly photos (and thus very long), I’ll add a Read More here… Continue reading

2013 Book #58: The Magus

magusThe Magus wasn’t at all what I was expecting, and it’s a lesson in Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover (or its size). It’s a brick of a book, and the name made me think I’d be getting into something like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which I loved. But no. It’s nothing like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and by the end, I almost hated it.

It had a promising start: Nicholas Urfe, a young, directionless English womanizer gets a job teaching at a boys’ school on Phraxos, a Greek island. It’s beautiful, and John Fowles‘ descriptions are amazing. I was so into it. Anyway, almost as soon as he gets there, he hears about a mysterious man named Conchis, and he’s determined to meet him. Nicholas sneaks onto his estate, and there’s Conchis, waiting with lunch. He immediately starts playing mind games, and soon, Nicholas doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going. He meets and falls in love with a girl who is alternately called Lily and Julie, and the mind games continue. Meanwhile, Nicholas is trying to get out of a relationship with Alison, the girl he was dating when he got the job and moved to Greece. She fell in love with him, but he seems to be incapable of love and is more interested in getting girls into bed. (I thought that would be a minor, introductory part of the novel, but, no, it’s not. The Magus is full of surprises). As usual, Things Happen.

This book is long. Way too long, I think, though this isn’t the first time I’ve said it about a novel considered very good, which this one is. It just goes on and on. And on and on. At the beginning, I was intrigued. What in the world was Conchis doing to Nicholas? But by the time the story played out and everything was explained, I had lost interest. At some point, Nicholas describes my feelings exactly: It’s like a Lawrence novel suddenly turns into a Kafka novel. I don’t like either of those authors (okay, I liked them both very much a long time ago, but the more I read, the more I grow to hate them). I can’t think of a better way to describe it than effed-up. In some ways, it’s like The Island of Dr. Moureau, and in others, it’s like “The Most Dangerous Game.” It made me uncomfortable and frustrated, and I wanted out. Yesterday, I read the last 150 pages just to get it over with. It’s a world of which I don’t want to be a part.

I’m not saying that The Magus is a bad novel. I just didn’t like it. Like Salem’s Lot, it’s just not my kind of book. I would have quit reading it much earlier if I’d figured it out within the first fifty pages, but Fowles keeps you guessing, gives a hint, then makes you guess again. It was interesting and strangely traumatic at the same time. I couldn’t look away even though I really wanted to.

So. If you like books about mind games, you’ll probably like this one. I’m not a fan, and I’ll probably stay away from Fowles in the future. Now, to read something mundane and comfortable.

SEVEN HELLS, THERE’S A MOVIE. Which I will NOT be watching. I’ll go ahead and, just based on the book, put it in the pile with movies (all from that era!) that Should Not Be Seen and Cannot Be Unseen, like The Wicker Man and Salo.

In other news, Shakespeare is feeling much better after a round of antibiotics. Also: the Pill Gun is my new best friend.

Shakespeare is feeling much better. 🙂

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I finally made jambalaya. It’s my Very Favorite Food, but it’s so high in carbs that I hadn’t made it since the beetus. Once I cooked and weighed it, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. A bowl is only about 55-60 carbs, which isn’t too bad.

Jambalaya

Most exciting, though, is our new fireplace! I was surfing around Pinterest a few weeks ago and saw this 8-bit Zelda fireplace (IT’S DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE! TAKE THIS.) and squealed. Palmer approved of the idea and even got the paint chips and foam board. I spent about six hours punching out squares and pasting them on the board. The fireplace is now my favorite part of the house. It’ll look so nice once we get that room repainted – hopefully, in the near future.

Fireplace!

Despite my efforts to slow down, I guess I’m still on a reading tear. I just started Snow Country, a short Japanese novel that I’ve been meaning to read. Thirty pages in, it’s a welcome relief after the horrors of The Magus.

 

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