January 27, 2014

Snow Way! It's Another Snow Day!

Fresh on the heels of my late night Grammy watching, I rose this morning to hear the deejay confirm what I hoped not to hear:  "all school buses in London Middlesex are canceled".  Ai!  Kids would be stoked; me not so much.  I let them sleep in because really, why WOULD I wake them?  I am definitely CUCKABONGA, but not THAT CUCKABONGA.

It is 10:21 am and I have decided to blog about the day.
Kids are homeschooling (each other - hahahaahahha!) at the kitchen table and Gwen just whined and bitched at her brother, who presumably hit or kicked her.  Can you tell that I am concerned?  I should be, actually.  A week ago, Gwenzilla gave Nathanimal a "Level 10" smackdown that saw us hanging at The Children's Hospital for two hours, while N received 3 stitches above his right ear.

But for now, I'll let them fight in peace.  :-)

My grand plans for the day, before I learned all buses were canceled, were to finish two short stories, go to the gym, grocery shop, make some soup, do some laundry, and shovel some snow.  Now I've got the kiddos to help me with all this.  And so, I have decided to chronicle our day, for fun.  And because I know that whatever we do, it will be awesome and EVERYONE needs to hear about it.  Heh heh. This is what I've accomplished so far, after rising at 6:15:
  • put in a load of laundry - so fun, cleaned my bedroom floor (last night, while I watched Beyonce dirty dance with Jay-Z, Gwen laid out 8 fashionista outfits from my closet at the foot of my bed for me to choose from this morning. grrrrrrr.  Here's a pic of some of the ensembles.  Love that purple orange combo, G!)

  • ate breakfast (coffee, rye toast with cinnamon honey and apple), read newspaper, checked email and Farcebook.  I know.  SO INTERESTING.  
  • cleaned up breakfast dishes, worked on short story for very brief period, finished cutting out quilt templates and selected fabrics.  This is what I'm making, btw:
This is a modern version of a clamshell quilt that I am in love with.  I want to marry it!  The clamshell is a traditional pattern and can look very fussy, depending one one's choice of fabrics.  The tone-on-tone tans and funky pops of colour definitely make this version very fresh and modern.  I will be making my own version with greys, purples and pale greens.   I have posted a pic of some of my fabrics below.
image from craftsy.com
Looks quite ugly now, but trust me, it will be magnifique.  I am rethinking that pink and grey in the lower right though. 
In case you are wondering how I am managing to blog, it's currently "recess" :-).  Now let me continue that list:
  • kids got up, they got dressed and fed themselves.   I oversaw their efforts while tidying up the kitchen and dining room tables so that I could put them to work. 
  • dumped another load of laundry on bed, hand washed lingerie (For those of you rolling your eyes at me, I am not trying to sound "all Martha", btw.  I really did do this.  It took 5 mins, tops.  I put my linge in to soak earlier in the morning, and then all I had to do was swish it around, give it a bit of a scrub, rinse, wring and hang to dry).  Snap.
  • forced children to "work" at table (they both have books with math and English lessons). 
  • Nathaniel helped Gwen with reading.  I decided that we would bake bread as part of our snow day.  Again, if you are thinking that I am some uberorganized hausfrau, I can assure you that I am not.  Can you hear me swear as I take this picture?

  • yelled at children to FOCUS.  HOCUS POCUS FOCUS!!!!! while I looked for bread recipe.  Found it!

  • made bread dough with N's assistance. Yes, we washed our hands. Yes, I am going to attempt to bake a baguette.  Yes, I am really am loco.  
  • Kids each kneaded dough for 6 minutes.  They seemed to like this.  I did not like flour all over my floor and counter, but I bit my tongue and sucked it up.  

doesn't this look delightful?
bread before first rise
  • Cleaned up floor and counter.  Complained loudly while doing so.  
  • at 9:54am, I decided to write this blog and wrote down all the shit that I'd already done 
  • handwashed silk blouse that has been sitting in laundry room waiting to be washed since New Year's Eve.  Lamented vomit stain.  KIDDING.  Just wanted a reaction.  As if I would vomit on NY's eve.   As if I would EVER vomit on myself.  
It is now 10:49.  I am giving myself (the rest of recess) another 10 - 15 mins to blog.  

12:31pm - more of list.
  • made lunch for evil offspring - Montreal style bagels with cream cheese and apples.  Kids tried to sneak down to basement to veg in front of screens while I was in the loo.  I screamed mightily when they came up.  
  • forced children into snow pants.  Went outside and shoveled, and entertained self and dog.
Nathanimal and Django.  Nath had to "take him down" after he let him off-leash in spite of repeated warnings from me not to do so.

One of Django's tricks that I hate.  It's called "HUG".  Nath taught him this wretched trick, which basically amounts to the overlarge 80 pound poodle jumping on people.  He knows better to try this with me or most adults, but if you're a kid, look out!

And still more of my list:  
  • shaped loaves and got them ready to go into oven

wow, they almost look like an adult, as opposed to a toddler, made them
  • you are supposed to spray the loaves every 5 minutes with water so that they get a hard crust. 
  • Seriously?  And so that's what I did, after making myself a cup of chai.  
  • Sighed.
  • I also learned that because French bread has no oil in it (oil is a preservative), that is why your baguette is stale the next day.  Who knew?
  • And then I cheered, because this is what they looked like, after all that spraying and baking:
Oh mon dieu!  C'est parfait!!!!
I can't wait to try these! I think they're my best effort to date.  Yay, me!

Okay, I'm done with my list, let's face it, no one wants to hear more and it's time for me to veg.  Have a great rest of snow day, peeps!

Music Pairing:  Bob Marley, Stir It Up

January 24, 2014

Darn it; It's Cold! Sew What? Quit Yer Stitchin'!

I have been sewing and writing like crazy lately; clearly, I'm on a creative bender.

The children ruined one of my pillows recently and so I sat down to make a new pillow last week.  Of course, Gwenzilla wanted in:  "Mum, can I make a pillow too?"  I sighed.  Why is it that she only wants to make a pillow when I want to make a pillow?  So, because I am a sweet and generous Mumma, I dragged out the machine and my fabric stash and let her go to it.  Here she is, at the Bruce Street sweatshop:

Okay, see how in the window on the left, it looks like I used that saran wrap window sealer to prevent cold air from coming in in the wintertime?  Well, I didn't.  I hate that product.  Ageism alert - if you use that, you are officially OLD.  I don't why I felt compelled to discuss this as it has NOTHING to do with this post; however,  now you know my feelings on "shrink film".  You can rest easy tonight. 
She's craft-tay!  GG is so cute with her pillow.  She selected and placed all the fabrics, then sewed them together herself.  
Looking at Gwen at age 8, I can't help but think of myself at her age.  I was reading the Little House series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (LOVE!!!!!!) and I wanted to make my own quilt.  So I cut up most of my socks into "squares" and tried to sew them together by hand.  Imagine for a moment, that you are trying to sew together knit socks into a quilt.  First of all, when you cut those socks up, they unravel because the knit is very fine.  Secondly,  the squares curl up at the edges - fine knits do NOT want to lie flat.  And third - it would have taken me approximately thirty years to amass enough sock-squares and sew them together just to make a quilt the size of a hand towel.  And so, after sewing three or four of my squares together, I did, at age 8, exactly what I would do now with a failed craft project - I stuffed it under my bed, never to be seen again.

Here is the pillow that I made after helping Gwen with hers:

Improvisational quilting -- basically means to amass pile of fabrics, cut and sew together haphazardly, admire results

And a close-up of the quilting:

I followed the pillow up with a sixties-inspired wall hanging, that I made from a silk sari, a silk blouse, a new king sized bed sheet that I cut up, and some new fabrics.  Here's a close-up of the quilting on the front and on the back:

And the finished hanging (17 by 38 inches), which will hang in my main floor loo.  Who says that art doesn't belong in the bathroom?  I love a quirky powder room.

I think I will christen this wall quilt Burst.  

And last but not least, I will provide a link to my most recent Canada Writes contest entry, because I'm a sucker for a contest.  I figure I have better odds of winning a writing contest than winning the 649, which I never buy tickets for anyway.

My story may disturb some of you, so consider yourself warned.  I'm over it though, honest.  :-)  If I wasn't, I wouldn't write about it.

You're Just Another Victim, Until You're Not

Musical Pairing:  although it has nothing to do with being crafty in the Martha Stewart sense of the word, it was one of my jams way back when:

She's Crafty by The Beastie Boys

January 16, 2014

Bear with Me

Do you know what this is?

image from http://db.tigsource.com/games/minecraft/screenshots/1478
It's a screenshot from a video game called Minecraft, or as I like to refer to it - Mindcrap.  

Many of you have heard of this game - if you have a kid, chances are he or she is an addict, or on the way to becoming one.  Sorry for those of you who are in denial, but it's true.  My son, who is 10, would rather play Mindcrap than do anything else.  Except maybe watch Mindcrap videos from THE BIGGEST MINDCRAP GEEK EVER, the Bajan Canadian:

This kid clearly spends WAY TOO MUCH time in his basement, eating Da-reets and drinking Sunny D like it's water.  

The amount of time that my kid spends (or would like to spend) on Mindcrap depresses me; however, I am hopeful that he will get over his addiction.  My brother and I played Atari incessantly as kids and I'm no longer jonesing for it.  Confession:  I once permitted N to play Mindcrap for 4 hours in a row.   Contender for bad mother of the year, obviously.  

N would rather play MC than watch TV, hang with friends, chase a soccer ball, go skiing, go to Disney (well maybe not that) et cetera.  I have caught him hunched and squirming at the computer chair, legs crossed tightly, because he has to go PEE so badly, yet still he slays on.  I told him that he should start wearing diapers like they do in the casinos, then he wouldn't even have to get up, making his life THAT MUCH easier.  I am nothing if not efficient.  

Thank god he likes to read.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Actually, I have myself to thank for that:  Brown Bear, Brown Bear

We were at the library recently getting some new books and this one caught my eye -  Let Them Be Eaten By Bears:  A Fearless Guide to Taking Our Kids into the Great Outdoors by Peter Brown Hoffmeister:

Yes, people, I am aware that mid-January is not a traditional time to think about going camping with kiddies; however, the book looked interesting and after it passed my "read the first page test" (I was hooked), I grabbed it.

I LOVE THIS BOOK.  It is full of life lessons, funny stories, kooky lore and ideas to get your family outside.  More on that in a few paragraphs.  And I will make the connection between Mindcrap and the great outdoors too.

But first, a story.  Nathaniel camped for the first time when he was 9 months old.

We had a pack and play (portable playpen) to throw him in during nap time or when he became annoying.  It was mid-June, the nights were cool and I was still nursing, so he slept under a goosedown duvet with me (we're glampers).  I have an awesome 4-6 man dome tent that I bought for around $150 and that's what we slept in.

Until I had a "better" idea.

I thought the pack and play and the double air mattress took up too much real estate in the tent.  It was cramped and stuffy.  I thought it made perfect sense to set up shop in my friend's "food tent":

you can see the playpen in the tent
My husband (voice of reason) said that we would be eaten by animals if we slept in that.  Well, he didn't actually say "eaten" but he did suggest that we would have nocturnal visitors.  I couldn't disagree more.  Never mind that our campsite in Elora was overrun by raccoons, who were an omnipresent threat during all hours of the day.

image from owned.com  - only funny because my kids are obsessed with Carly Rae Jepsen

"We are not going to get eaten by raccoons!  I tree planted for five years... yada yada yada..."

Because my husband is not a smart man, he listened to me.  We put the pack and play in the food tent, and also dragged the air mattress over, turning our "real" tent into a large, walk-in closet.  At bedtime, the three of us fell asleep, the husband on one side, Nathaniel in the middle and me on the other.  I recall being very happy with myself as I nodded off...  this is so lovely and fresh and roomy, and I am going to sleep like the dead... maybe N will even sleep through the night... zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Who was I kidding?  It was not to be.

I woke up in the middle of the night - it was PITCH black - and I was instantly aware that there was something wrong.

FUCKING WRONG because there was something crawling across my torso.  NOT KIDDING.  It must have crawled under the flimsy walls of the tent.  Because the tent has NO FLOOR, animals can crawl in and out willy-nilly.

Keeping in mind that there was a leaden beast crawling across my prone body, I did exactly what anyone would do - I whipped that duvet off my body like a woman possessed, exposing myself and my 9-month old to the elements, and screamed murderously.  Well not that murderously, because who wants to wake a sleeping baby?  Even if they are in danger of being eaten by a killer raccoon / rakunk!

My husband didn't wake up.  Neither did Nathaniel.

I had to poke my husband in the ribs to rouse him (a raccoon just crawled across me!, I hissed).  He was totally annoyed with me: I told you so. Now be quiet!


While reading Mr. Hoffmeister's book, I was reminded of this and my many other animal adventures.  I will save those for another post.  Today, I want to talk about kids and the great outdoors and what is keeping them from going there.  Hint: it's not bears.

Some quotes from Mr. Hoffmeister:
  • "it is not uncommon for a child to play more than a thousand video game hours per year" 
  • it took one of Mr. Hoffmeister's computer-addicted high school students a full twelve hours before he realized he was in the actual outside world, before he started to reference non computer material in his conversations.  While he looked across a valley at a snow-covered peak in Oregon, he said:  "oh yeah, I looked at this mountain online, and it looked way prettier on my computer." 
I find this to be alarming.    

I do not think that my children will end up like one of my former library colleagues, who had never camped, hiked or swum in a natural body of water (and had only gone in a pool once or twice!).   I am fortunate because I had a Dad who loved the great outdoors.  He took us skiing, skating, sledding and ice-fishing in the winter, and camping, hiking, and fishing in the warmer months.  I have slept under the stars in the Niagara Escarpment, and caught and cooked my lunch over an open fire.  I guess there isn't really a chance of my kids being outdoorsaphobes, even if Nathaniel is a vidhead and Gwen loves the telly.  

What I do worry about is the subtle and gradual transition to becoming an "indoors" person", described by Mr. Hoffmeister as such:
You like temperatures between 68 and 72 degrees F.  Much colder or warmer, and you might start to complain.  You like a dry environment but not an environment that's arid or dusty.  You are used to urban noise, comfortable with the sounds of computers, music, phones, cars, electronic bells, TVs, YouTube, alarms and large groups of people.  This may sound strange, but you might even like the toxic smells of bleach or other harsh cleaners or, near the street, exhaust, tar, oil, and burned gasoline.  These smells are, at the very least, familiar to you and therefore comfortable even if you don't like them.  
People, we need to wake up!  Our kids are getting fatter and the insidious, pervasive nature of video-gaming is the problem, especially with boys.  I urge you to kick your kids off the screens and into the outdoors.  They won't like it this time of year, as it's coldy-woldy.  Things like skating, skiing, and sledding help, as do snowmen and snow-forting.  If I told my son that he could whap me in the face with a snowball, that might be enough to get him off Mindcrap.  And that, my friends, is a step in the right direction.

I did not intend to write this entry as a review of Mr. Hoffmeister's well written and engaging book but it seems to be turning into that so I'll just go with it.  Bears is full of great information.  You will learn all you need to know to take your kids on a weekend or if you're up to it, a two-week camping adventure.  The how-to guide is full of anecdotes, humour, pop psychology and life lessons, all of which will teach you something about embracing the great outdoors.

I hear a lot of parents talking about how when I was a kid, I spent all day outside.  I walked or rode my bike everywhere.  Parents - it can still be like that!  Times are NOT that different.  Kids are still kids and like to do kid stuff like riding around on their bikes, terrorizing the neighbours and playing nicky-nicky-nine-door.  By letting them explore, your kids will build character and learn to trust their instincts.  This cannot be taught by reading or by playing video games.

I am not a perfect Mum; I'm far from it.  I do not always have the energy to go outside and chase the kids and dog around but I'd like to leave you with some great ideas (and some self-indulgent family photos).  They're good reminders for me too.

1)  Camp in your backyard if you haven't camped before or you're out of practice.  Sleep outdoors on your deck on a warm night.  We did this at my Mom's house when Gwen was one.  I should probably not tell you that in the morning, I went inside for a cup of joe and left Gwen and her father "sleeping" in the tent outside.  I looked out the kitchen window and saw Gwenny toddling alone toward the house (husband was still asleep and didn't even hear Gwen exit).  My parents' backyard is ginormous, unfenced, bordered by farmer's fields, and a highway in front.  It could have gone horribly wrong.  It did not.
Kids love to camp in the backyard and if someone has a freakout, you can always return to the creature comforts of your home.  Here's my son "camping" on the deck outside my bedroom in mid-November of last year (his idea; I did not join him).

2)  If you want your family to spend more time outdoors, consider getting a dog.  The dog needs to be walked at least twice a day.  You will experience more sunrises and sunsets, and family time.

3)  Let your kids climb trees, help with gardening and get filthy.

Some of you reading this may have never had children, or you may be grandparents.  You may wonder how a book about taking your kids outdoors can impact you.  It can.  I would argue that you too can benefit from getting "eaten by bears".  Of particular interest is Work Less, Make Less Money, Play More; Different is Good and There is Never a Better Time.

Now get out there!

Musical pairing:  FURR by Blitzen Trapper (such a foot-tapping, thumping song! I love it!)

January 07, 2014

Make Soup When the Snow Falls

You know when you use Crest Whitestrips and you fall asleep with them on and you accidentally strip ninety percent of the enamel off your teeth and then they hurt like hell?  Well that's how my chompers felt when I ventured outside earlier today - exceedingly sensitive to the bitter cold.  Incidentally, I haven't ever used any of the tooth whitening products.  I prefer the "natural" look of red wine and coffee-stained teeth.

Chattering aside, I am not sure that today and yesterday's spate of cold weather necessitated a cancellation of school.  As one of my FB friends lamented, "Is it just me or are we in London having a collective case of hysteria? Yes, it is cold and we should be very concerned for our homeless population.  But closing down schools, colleges and universities?  We are all a little less Canadian today."  

I was mulling over the school closures this morning, while tuned into the CBC, and I heard that people didn't know how to dress for the weather.  Seriously?  All the information in the world at our fingertips and we don't know enough to throw on a pair of long-johns?  Okay, I guess we really are becoming collectively dumber:  http://www.cbc.ca/q/blog/2013/10/23/qs-first-debate-show-tackles-internets-effect-on-intellects  

What I do know is that I need my children to return to their normal lives so that I can get on with mine.  

In my last post (HNY), I wrote about my personal goals for 2014.  One of them was to write more frequently.  As a stay-at-home Mum, I have jobs to do.  My list (like yours) includes but is not limited to:  cooking (I don't care if you hate stew.  We are not having Pringles and oranges for dinner); cleaning (who spat food behind the couch?); laundry (you want clean socks? wash your own clothes!); house maintenance (yes honey, I would be happy to plunge the toilet); arranging the children's extracurriculars (I want to do gymnastics, basketball, soccer, skiing, cheerleading and choir, Mumma); buying everything everyone needs to survive (yes, I'll go to the liquor store today); making and taking everyone to all appointments (my wart grew, Mumma); paying bills (how much did we spend at the LCBO this month?????); planning social activities (they are never staying here again; he drank every last drop of scotch!) et cetera.  

Now before all you full-timers bitch at me about having to work FT on top of the above duties, let me just say that the husband has two jobs and all tasks that I have listed are mine alone (except when I go completely crazy and scream my head off and threaten to strike).  In other words, I don't want to hear about your problems -- this is MY blog.  :-)

I guess what I'm really trying to say is that it is hard to change jobs.

Let me put it this way, could you show up at work and announce "I am done with stripping; I think I"ll work the bar instead".  No, you could not.  My current job is here at home and there are people who like what I do.  I am not one of them :-)

My solution is to get the hell out of my house.  Twice a week, I will be writing from a mystery location in London.  I am hoping that this will help with my productivity.  Today was a total bust -- I had the kids here and I just couldn't concentrate with all the distractions -- yelling, fighting, tv, music, board game hysteria, rangy dog-play et cetera.  I was supposed to begin my writing career in earnest yesterday, but there was a snow day.  Today, more of the same.  Tomorrow... my children will attend school even if I have to pay someone to educate them.  

This blog entry is all that I could manage today.  That and the pot of soup below.  I made this recipe up.  Let's call it Souper Duper.  If you are cold and crusty, I urge you to make soup.  I subsist on soup in the wintertime.  

Heat up some olive oil and butter in a pot.  Add:  diced celery, shallots, carrots, parsnips and onions.  Cook, stirring frequently until onions are translucent (around 7 - 10 mins).  You could also add some leeks if you're so inclined.  If you are a fan of garlic, add that for the last couple of mins.  You don't want it to brown or it tastes bitter.  

(A note on garlic and my nose:  I love garlic.  Love it, love it, love it.  The problem is that I am a super-smeller:  the smell of fresh garlic - YES!  The cooked garlic smell emanating from one's pores - NO!
I cannot abide that smell.  Because of my over-sensitive nose, I have stopped using garlic entirely.  I must be partially vampiric).

Diatribe against garlic over.


After the veggies are soft, throw in a pair of ham hocks (pig's feet); a cup of barley

two litres of chicken broth (I used Campbell's); around a litre of crushed / stewed tomatoes / tomato sauce --

(---see, I can't even write this damn blog -- I have three little girls who are demanding hot cocoa... brb)--

a bay leaf, some oregano / Italian seasoning and a can of black beans (you can use any type of bean you like, I almost used chick peas but my family doesn't really like them).  Simmer, covered, for 90 minutes over very low heat so the soup doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot like mine did.  

After 90 mins., you will want to remove the ham hocks.  

They look disgusting, but all that slimy, greasy ooze means flavour.  Make sure you discard all the fatty bits.  And don't ever call ham hocks, "pork hocks".  I once erroneously said this phrase to a repairman at Midas when I was dropping off the car:

Me:  (reaching in the backseat of the car for my grocery bag) "I have to get my pork hocks".

Repairman:  "Your what?"  looks at me amusedly

Me:  "My pork hocks."  ohhhhhhhh... that sounds baddddddd.  "I'm making soup".  turning red; laughing uncomfortably.  

Repairman:  "Sure you are."  hahahahahhaha.  


So wait for the hocks to cool and then remove the meat from the bones.  Chop it up and put it back in the pot.   At this point, your soup might be thick.  Add some more broth if it is.  Or some tomato juice.  If you like a more tomato-y flavour, now would be the time to add more sauce.  I added some frozen corn.  After adding more broth and corn, my soup was no longer hot, so I brought it back to a boil.  If you like, you can also add some chopped Italian parsley for colour.  Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.


And while I'm on the subject of cooking, here's how to make perfect oven-roasted vegetables, which I have been eating like crazy.  Put your cookie sheet / shallow roasting pan in the oven and heat your oven to 450 degrees.  You want a nice hot cookie sheet to dump your veggies on.  Chop up any combination of red onion, parsnips, carrots, peppers, sweet potatoes, mini potatoes, turnip, and brussels sprouts.  You could probably use other crucifers too (broccoli and cauliflower) but I stick to what I've mentioned above.  Try to cut them the same thickness so that they roast evenly.  Put the veggies in a bowl and drizzle them with olive oil - you don't need a ton, just enough so that everything is coated.  Toss with salt and pepper or Montreal Steak spice.  

When your oven is hot, open it up and quickly dump the veggies onto the hot pan.  Enjoy the sizzle and give the pan a quick shake. You want the veggies to be spread out on the pan - no crowding; you don't want them piled in a heap.  Roast for 20 minutes.  Eat your veggies happily, revelling in your easy dish and your cleverness.

You can also drizzle the cooked veggies with a delicious dressing:  a couple of tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp maple syrup, freshly grated ginger and some minced garlic (for those of you who aren't supersmellers like me).  These measurements should be okay, I just eyeball the amounts and it always tastes good.

Well that's it for today.  I need to rest up for tomorrow by drinking a mondo glass of vino so that I can write like the wind.

Musical pairing:  Oh Marie by Louis Prima

January 01, 2014

Aphpy Wen Eary!

I have been given a 671-page tome as an afterthought Christmas gift (The 4-Hour CHEF:  The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life by Tim Ferriss):

I know better than to judge a book by its cover and so I decided to delve into the table of contents to see what was up.  I was captivated by the chapter names:  Sexy-Time Steak, The Turbacon:  Sin Against Nature or Meat-Glue Masterpiece? and How to Gut and Cook Tree Rat.  I have just realized that I make the book sound like a primer on carne, which it is absolutely not.  In fact, what I like most about this book is its scope:
  • How to memorize a deck of cards (I know that this will come in handy during games of Crazy 8's and Go Fish)
  • How to chop wine:  hyper decanting in 20 seconds (because I always decant my wine)
  • How to make olive oil gummy bears (have I written a blog entry about my hatred of all things gummy?  I might try to make these for G though, because she's a GB enthusiast)
  • How to make the perfect MLBJ (meatloaf blow job) "I know how to keep my man happy, and keep him, period: meatloaf and blow jobs. That's it." Ayako N.)
  • How to read 300% faster in twenty minutes (useful for readers of this blog).  
While traveling to Welland recently to visit extended family, I had a chance to claw my way through the Lobstercide chapter.  I love lobster but I have issues (click here if you're curious).  There are two approved methods of lobster slaughter:  boil it alive or stab it in the head.  I might leave the lobster murder to others.
The subsequent chapter illustrates the Mexican Towel Snap method of killing chickens:  pick up the chicken by the head and swing it by your side violently for 10-20 seconds "as if winding up a towel to snap someone in the ass".  I can't see myself doing this.  For some reason, the MTS makes me think of cat videos that I've seen on YouTube:  a feline's claws cling to the blades of an oscillating ceiling fan (set on high) and the poor creature spins around and around wildly until it flies off like a missile, hitting a wall.  I shouldn't laugh, but I am.  And No!, I do not look these things up.  I have a ten-year old, remember?

In this same chapter, I read that Mark Zuckerberg (founder of FB for those of you living under a rock) sets yearly personal goals (e.g. learning Chinese, wearing a tie every day of the year).  In 2011, he wrote, "I think that many people forget that a living being has to die for you to eat meat, so my goal revolves around not letting myself forget that... the only meat I'm eating is from animals I've killed myself."
Mr. Zuckerberg began with lobster and worked his way up the food chain, all the way to (shooting) bison.  I think what he did was admirable, but I am not about to start killing my dinner, once again proving that I am a hypocrite. What I can do for myself, à la Mr. Zuckerberg, is to come up with two of my own personal challenges for 2014:

1)  Boring but Necessary Challenge
Write for a minimum of 90 minutes for 5 out of 7 days of the week.  No more excuses; I need to shift my priorities:  housework, kiddie extra-curriculars, social life, medical appointments, and dinner be damned!
Blogging counts, but I am going to limit myself to one or two entries a month.  I hope that writing will become habit rather than hobby.  When I told my husband about my goal, he told me that it wasn't really a goal, that my goal should be to produce something.  I am pretty sure that if I write for a minimum of one hour per day, I will produce something.  It might not be any good, but it will be something.  Like Woody Allen says, "eighty percent of success is showing up".

2)  Fun and Exciting Challenge - Cruciverbalism
Craft a crossword puzzle and get it published in the New York Times. Word.
I have always been a puzzler:  I have made word puzzles (Jumbles when I was a kid) for loved ones and when I discovered Games Magazine and Will Shortz at my orthodontist's office (brace-face!), I never looked back.  I became a crossword junky.

Here's a Jumble that I made for my Grandma 32-33 years ago:

Thank you, Grandma for keeping my Scrapbook; I love that I have a puzzle that I made when I was a kid.

Today, Will Shortz is the crossword puzzle editor of the New York times - what an awesome job he has.  All NYT crossword submissions go directly to Mr. Shortz for a decision and so when I create my crossword (without using crossword software- yikes), he will be the one to solve it!  Geeking out here.  
Also on the subject of Will Shortz, there is an amazing documentary called Wordplay (2006), which is available at the London Public Library.  From the IMDB (not the best write-up; where is the passion?):

A documentary that focuses on the world of crossword puzzles: those that construct them, those that love to solve them, those that compete in the annual Crossword competition in Stamford and also on Will Shortz, the editor of the New York Times crossword since the early 1990s.

In shortz, it is fascinating viewing.  :-)  Get thee to the library. Or find it online.

And so at the end of this rather lengthy and tiresome blog entry, I am so ready for 2014!  Thaw si oruy lagenlech?  Thaw liwl keam ouy cikt ni 2014?

Musical pairing: The Puzzle Song by Shirley Ellis.