Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lebkuchen II - or - My cookies are so good they deserve a special box

I talked about making my own lebkuchen in the last post. I must report that they turned out very yummy. I sealed them up with sliced-up oranges for a few days, and they are now so spicy and Christmas-y that I am over the top with taste happiness.

In fact, they're so good, they almost deserve their own special box, like this one from Nuremberg which came stuffed with German lebkuchen and pfeffernusse:
The red sock is a failed felted slipper that I was attempting to make for my son a couple of years ago. It came out HUGE. My son has big feet, but not that big. So we saved it and now put it out with the Christmas decorations and call it, "Santa's Sock." I did consequently make him slippers that fit, and all in grey (although I must point out that red and white were his original color choices).

Here is a shot of the inside of the tin's lid - all in German, of course:
Here's wishing you all a Frohliche Weihnachten!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I'm attempting to bake the German holiday cookie, lebkuchen, today. I became hooked on them when I had a sister living in Germany and she sent them to me at Christmastime. My mother-in-law is German, too. In our earlier years, when we lived closer, my young family would visit the in-laws at Christmas. She always had a huge, beautiful tin full of lebkuchen and pfeffernusse cookies and treats sent to her from relatives in Germany. Yum!

I can find lebkuchen at a store here called World Market during the holiday season, so I always buy a few packages. I did so this year, too, but my children have come to like the taste now too so the packages didn't last long.

So I found a recipe. I made the dough yesterday, and today I will bake my first lebkuchen. I'm so excited! I hope they turn out.

You can find the recipe I'm using here. If it turns out that I don't like the results, there are lots of other recipes out there to try.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I am so far behind on everything!! What am I doing sitting in front of the computer?!

Oh yeah, getting my daily dose of lolcats.

Hope the holiday season hasn't run you ragged yet!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A photo is worth a million words

This photo was in my morning paper:

photo by Phil Masturzo of the Akron Beacon Journal

I found it extremely touching.

Let me explain. The University of Akron's men's soccer team was ranked #1 with an undefeated season going into the playoff games for the championship. The players are all talented and worked hard this season with their young and extremely effective coach to reach the championship's final game on Sunday against the University of Virginia, ranked #2.

At the end of 90 minutes of play the score was 0-0. This was followed by two scoreless ten minute "golden goal" periods. So the championship game came down to penalty shots. Each team had five shots on goal.

UVA scored on their first penalty kick. Akron's first penalty kick was blocked. Score 1-0 UVA. UVA scored two more times, and so did Akron, score 3-2 UVA.

Then hope sprouted as Akron's talented goalie blocked the next two UVA shots. If Akron scored with their last kick, the score would be tied and would send the teams into another five-shot penalty kick showdown.

We watched with anticipation - the Akron player ran to the ball, kicked... and the ball flew over the goal.

Final score UVA 3 - Akron 2, and the soccer team's chance to go down in history as the team with the perfect season and a championship win to top it off - dashed.

You cannot even imagine how the team looked after that missed goal. Completely devastated. Beyond completely devastated.

And that's why the picture of our mascot, Zippy, comforting one of the senior players afterward, touches me so much.

Zippy wasn't voted the nation's favorite collegiate mascot for nothing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Birdwings, campfires, and Christmas

We decorated our Christmas tree last night. We cut it down ourselves at a nearby Christmas tree farm last Sunday, but had to wait until last night before we all had an evening free to gather round and decorate it.

I was clicking through some older photos on the disk drive from my old computer, which I haven't had access to for a while. I came across this photo from a family backpacking trip a few years ago:

The caption under the picture was, "Campfire tales." It occured to me that the cozy feeling of sitting around the campfire and telling tales is exactly like the feeling of gathering together to decorate the tree and then sitting around afterward admiring it and telling stories. I suppose a scene like that would likely be captioned, "Christmas tales."

The morning after the campfire picture, I remember standing near where the fire had been the night before and hearing a strange zip-zip-zip sound. I looked up to see a crow flying over us, and the sound was the sound its wings made with each pulse. That's how quiet it was in the mountains of Pennsylvania that morning - quiet enough to hear a bird on the wing.

This morning, however, I woke to the howl of a biting wind and to snow. I hope you all are warm wherever you are, and out of the wind, and telling tales with your families.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm keeping my TruFocals (now called Superfocus)

(Edit: TruFocals are now called Superfocus) The other morning I remembered that I needed to post my decision - whether I had decided to keep my TruFocals after my 30 day trial. I had to make my decision right around Thanksgiving, but I forgot to post about it.

I've decided to keep them.

I had my daughter snap a couple of pictures of me the other morning, one without my Trufocals, and one with. You can see them below. My hair was still wet, so it's pulled hastily back into a clip.

My Trufocals work very well for what I use them for, but I must say, that if I were still taking classes, I would probably go with bifocals. I'm thinking that bifocals would be much better for taking notes from the board in lecture halls - no focusing back and forth.

I wear my Trufocals for reading, computer work, cooking, knitting, and when I go out shopping, etc. I don't wear them all the time because my distance vision isn't that bad yet (and I'm not trying to take notes off of blackboards anymore). But they're great for shopping, etc.

And my favorite thing is actually being able to read the small print on things like medicine bottles, or when trying to read off of a weathered label on a string of Christmas lights what type of replacement bulbs and fuses to use. I can actually see the print! Clearly!

With my old reading glasses, that was still an iffy issue because I had to hold the print at a certain distance for it to be in focus, but that's not helpful when the print is small. It might be in focus, but it's still too far away to read. That's not a problem with my Trufocals, I can hold things close and zoom into sharp focus to read all of that fine print.

And here is the lovely me without and with my Trufocals:

See? They're not so bad. Right? (The correct answer is, "No, in fact they look quite fetching!")

And btw, those flowers hanging upside down to the right are some of the last of the calendula I harvested from my garden. I got flowers right up through the first week of December. The succession of 20 degree nights lately has finally put an end to my plants. The garage is too cold now to use as a drying room, so I've hung them in the living room from the curtain rods. That room doesn't get much light. I now have plenty of calendula with which to make my herbal concoctions.

Friday, December 4, 2009

While searching for a Christmasey banner picture...

I came across this:

That's me in tears with my more composed, older sisters circa the early 1960's.

I'm okay with Santa now : )

Sort of creepy cell phone lady

My daughter's cell phone sometimes calls me back. It happens every once in a great while when I get the 'leave a message' mode when she doesn't answer. I'll hang up and almost immediately my phone will ring.

Me: "Hello?"

A lady's voice: "Are you still there?"

It's my daughter's cell phone. The lady's voice will go on to tell me how to leave a message.

The other day she had something new to say, and it was a bit creepy.

It was Thanksgiving day. Hubby was sick on the couch, son was at work, daughter was at boyfriend's for the morning, I was busy cooking. I called my daughter to ask if she would run to the store and bring me an ingredient that I needed. She was less than accommodating and I became miffed and like the mature mother I am, I hung up on her.

My phone immediately rang.

Me: "Hello?"

Cell phone lady voice: "I'm sorry you're having problems."


I think she listens in on our conversations.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

More painting shenanigans, and... a new computer!

While painting the entry hall, my daughter let the dog in from outside.

First, my brain registered that the dog was inside, then I made some kind of a noise ("gaaack!" I think) and checked to see if he had stepped in the paint. He hadn't, but he was tracking muddy paw prints everywhere. It's wet and mucky out.

Me: "Didn't you wipe him off!?"

Daughter: "No."

Me: "Well do it now!"

Daughter (said as she runs out the door): "I can't, I'll be late for work."

Me: "Gaaa!"

I ran, juggling paint brush, rag, and edging tool that helps you not paint on the ceiling, to let the dog back outside, while my daughter apparently ran back inside for something and tracked muddy footprints herself all up the carpeted stairway.

Which I had steam cleaned not even two weeks ago.

Me: "Gaaaaa!! Why can't anything I do stay done!?!"

I'll be showing my daughter how to work the steam cleaner tonight when she gets home from work.

The paint is drying in the entryway. I'm keeping the dog out for a while so that he doesn't rub against anything.

And in much happier news, my husband finally finished gathering all of the parts, and last night my son put together my new computer! I'm so happy! Now I'm back in my little office and don't have to steal into my kids' rooms to use their computers.

Maybe once I've finished with the painting (actually I'm done with that for the time being!), and the deep cleaning, and the departmental holiday party at our house is a thing of the past, I'll sit down and write. That would be nice. (My son just this second popped his head in and asked, "Are you writing?")

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Footprints in the carpet...

Or more appropriately, pawprints.

Have you ever noticed that dogs don't care what they're stepping on in their race to get somewhere? They fully embrace the mathematical truity that the shortest distance from point A to point B is a straight line. My dog will step on you, the cat, Christmas presents, mud, - or, say, a tray of fresh paint.

I now have doggie footprints painted into my carpet.

Oh, and a freshly painted room.

One room down, one to go. I need more drop cloths.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The last of the calendula

I'm afraid these will be the last of the calendula from my garden this year. Yesterday they were buds which were not quite open, but almost. I decided to cut them and stick them in a cup of water.

Today they opened up beautifully - only to be tied together and hung upside down to dry out, I'm afraid.

There are a few more tight, green buds still on my plants, but I think that with nights set to dip into the 20's before the week is out, my calendula is probably done for.

My mere handful of plants really produced a bounty this year. I grew them from seeds which I had saved from the year before.

I'm already looking forward to next year's garden.

Weathering the Holidays

The weather has just begun to turn cold. We had snow the day after Thanksgiving, and then on Saturday we had one more mild day with the sun. Toward the end of this week, however, we will be dipping into the 20's at night.

And the cold weather leaves me no excuses to be outside instead of inside where I need to do some deep cleaning and some painting of a couple of rooms before a bounty of guests descends for my husband's departmental holiday get-together (at our home this year). Frankly, I'm not sure everyone will fit comfortably in our home without slopping drinks and finger food on one another.


Hubby had the swine flu last week. He's better now and the rest of us are symptom free still. I don't know if it's because the bug is still incubating, or if it's due to wiping everything down constantly with Clorox wipees, spraying Lysol liberally in the rooms where hubby was lying about, or the "Stave Off" tea (one of my little concoctions) I made the rest of us drink everyday.

I'm really hoping that I don't come down with it, because then I don't know how I'll get the painting, and readying, and holiday decorating of the house done in time for the get-together.

Well, I'm hale and hardy now, so off to look at paint samples....