Lost in the Pages

I’m on a reading jag.  It’s mild compared to some of my years past – pre-knitting – when I devoured book after book, sometimes several in a week.  But given how little reading I’ve done since I started knitting, I’m quite pleased to see that I’ve read almost a book a week thus far.  Almost.  And several of those books were 700+ page epics.

Currently, I’m reading Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book.   It’s a nice mix of history and science fiction.   It’s going very quickly, even though I feel it stalls sometimes, and the beginning was a bit confusing.  However, right now I’m in a place where I’ve gotten to know a lot of the characters fairly well and I’m itching for answers.  Each pages builds the suspense and/or adds another loose end to the mix.   I do love that there’s a little dog in the cast of characters…

I don’t know what I’m going to read next.  There’s a long list on my Nook, and I still have about 450 pages to go in Doomsday.  Who’s reading what?  Or are most of you too deep into holiday knitting for much reading?

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The Froth Report

Ah, the weekend!  I blinked and it was gone.  Friday, I did try the froth experiment, and we’ll get to that in a moment.  Saturday, I visited Dog House Yarns and then I also hit the salon, did some knitting and that was the weekend.  How was yours?  Was it a long one?

I don’t have photos of the froth experiment, because frankly, it wasn’t worth it.  I tried the shaken not whipped method described below, but we use 2% milk and the dogs wanted in or out or both during the shaking, and I lost interest.  That, and several of you had better ideas…

Photo from IKEA

Sadly, IKEA no longer sells their bargain frother.   I’m going to be on the lookout for something very similar though.  I have a hand-held, single-beater mixer, but it’s too bulky for single-serving frothing.  It would be fine for about four servings or so, but the Knight only drinks his very special Starbucks White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha, Venti, single shot with whipped cream, no sprinkles.   Since I prefer to taste the coffee in my coffee, and I’m not big on white chocolate, the picky man can just continue to carry himself to Starbucks.  We’ve both agreed I couldn’t make one to suit him.

Keurig Frother

Now, for roughly $78 more, my beloved Keurig could have a kissing cousin.  Does anyone in my Keurig sisterhood have one of these frothers?  It *IS* smaller than my espresso machine, but really?!  I could buy at least 39 of the IKEA whippers (you know… if they were still available) for that price!  It’s also probably almost that many times bigger than the whipper, and saving space is a part of this whole search, since I do have that espresso machine…

Maybe Santa will fix this big dilema for me, but I suspect Santa would rather drop some Starbucks cards in my stocking, along with a note reminding me that I just had to have the espresso machine.  Hem.  But Santa, now I want to put frothy, steaming milk in my TEA!

Hand-made Steamed Milk?

Another double post day…

The Republic of Tea dropped a tempting recipe in my inbox this week.  

 

Photo from RoT

Chocolate Candy Cane Tea Latte         

Ingredients

  • 6 oz fresh, filtered water
  • 2 Republic of Tea Double Dark Chocolate Tea Bags
  • 6 oz steamed milk or milk substitute
  • The Republic of Tea Agave Nectar (to taste)
  • 2 candy canes or peppermint sticks

Preparation

  • Heat fresh, filtered water to a rolling boil.
  • Place each tea bag in a standard sized mug. Pour 3 oz. water in each mug and steep for 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove tea bags, stir in agave nectar. Top with steamed milk and garnish with a candy cane or peppermint stick.

Serves: 2

There are a few problems, easily corrected.  I am mostly a loose tea gal – THAT substitution is easy enough.  I don’t have their Agave Nectar either, but I’m guessing a mild honey or simple syrup would do nicely instead.

But steamed milk?  I do have an espresso machine, but it lives in a box, not even in the kitchen.   While my counter space isn’t too limited, I am a kitchen appliance junkie, so not everything can live in plain sight. 

Google to the rescue!   How to steam milk without an espresso machine.   Has anyone tried this?  (If you didn’t click on the link, the short version is, dump the milk in a container more than double the volume of the milk and SHAKE, then steam in the microwave.) 

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... and she wonders why we LOVE peppermints?!

 I’m also thinking peppermint extract is the way to go, because a candy cane sitting out of a mug is an invitation to both of my dogs to lick, slurp, etc., especially since they also LOVE milk!

(Why yes, I am going to go home and drag out the espresso machine and try both methods, unless some of you foodies weigh in first and assure me that the shaken, not stirred method will work just as well.)

Slow Down…

you move too fast…   Everyone hum along! 

My focus for this year has been choosing joy.   It’s been a real struggle a few times, but I’m determined to have more joy in my life, so I’ve made the choice to forgive people who can’t even admit they’ve wronged me, and I find joy in almost everything I do, somehow.

For the holiday season, that means reprioritizing for me.  Since my teens, I’ve been grumbling about the true meaning of Christmas getting lost in the gifts and shopping, so the time has come to put my time where my heart is.  Luckily, a few friends are of similar minds, and gMarie even designed a little badge and created a campaign

Slowing the Season Pledge

Please join us in our effort to reduce stress, reduce our carbon footprint, really slow down and enjoy the holiday season this year and in years to come. Exchanging gifts isn’t a big part of holiday preparations. For me and my family, the holidays are not about how much you spend, how much you give or receive, but spending time with loved ones making memories.

In an effort to achieve this goal – I plan to do the following to the best of my ability:
~exchange gifts only with my immediate family;
~give handmade gifts with meaning;
~give supplies to make a something that the recipient would enjoy;
~participate in free, local holiday events;
~buy from local artists whenever possible; and
~try to create one new family tradition.

We’re just reclaiming the PEACE and JOY of the season.

If you care to join us in slowing the season – feel free to use my badge (or create your own) and add the pledge to your blog. Between now and Christmas share little ways you are reclaiming the Peace and Joy of the Season with you family.

Along with this pledge, I encourage you to participate in Small Business Saturday. I have many friends who own or are employed by small businesses, and that 86% of every dollar spent is vital to the local economy.

Amy also blogged about a Shop Hand-made pledge, and while I fully intend to stick to the pledge above, one exception I’ll be making is books. I believe strongly that books are powerful gifts… they educate, inspire, remind us to dream, etc.

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One of last year's Christmas sweaters...

It’s not that I don’t love giving and receiving; I truly do.  But for me, the next few weeks had become a series of to-do lists, and I haven’t been able to enjoy the celebrations, much less feel the peace and love of the season for a very long time.  So, this year I’m baking more and shopping less.   I’ll spend more time at home dressing Gretchen in her collection of frocks and sweaters and less time at the post office or the shipping store.

Today is also the day I begin to listen to Christmas music.  What’s your favorite song, CD? 

Oh – and it is Friday, so how ’bout those weekend plans?  I’m going to do a little shopping LOCALLY, then ship a few things on Monday. 

Very Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving, Thankful Thursday and little friday!  The girls have already gotten their Dogs on Thursday post up, so now I can sip my tea and work on mine.

I have so very much to be thankful for.  I have a great husband, the best dogs and friends, and I truly want for nothing.  I live a charmed life, and I know it!  We were blessed to have Thanksgiving options this year, and in keeping with my holiday plan for the upcoming weeks, we chose the path that allows for the most peace and joy.  My heart will be with my aunt and her family and the friends who love us enough to want to share today with us, and I suppose that best explains why I’m most grateful; we have a strong network of love and support!

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I hope each of you has someone in your life who runs that hard to be with you!

I’m also thankful for each of you.  I’ve made some fabulous friends through blogging, and my friends mean the world to me.  So pardon me for being brief today; there are three warm bodies who deserve my full attention right now!

I’m Bored…

Sorry.  Slow day in the office, so if you’re bored too, read along.  If not, see you tomorrow, or scroll down for my cranberry sauce interpretation.

Let’s talk street and place names.  Would you want to live on Lovers Lane?  Haunted Hollow Road?  How about Gasburg?  It’s actually in a pretty part of my state, but really?  Nimrod Hall?  Yeah.  I’m not making this stuff up. 

Photo borrowed from linked site

I can’t think of some of the strange place names I’ve seen on road signs as we travel.   I’m not talking strange like Zuni, which is a Native American tribal name.  It doesn’t exactly flow off my tongue, but it is hardly silly, not like Cuckoo

The jukebox in my head is singing So Long, Farewell from The Sound of Music, with all the kids singing, “Cuckoo, cuckoo…”  (Warning!!!  There’s sound with that last link.) 

Are there some funny place names near you?  I actually found several websites with lists of such, so clearly, I’m not alone. 

Photo from Wikipedia

I even have one friend who didn’t buy a house she liked because of the street name.  I can’t recall it, and while that sounds extreme, I truly wouldn’t want to live on Haunted Hollow Road.  I’m sure there are nice homes there, but really?!  I had nightmares from Scooby Doo, people!

(Great.  Now I’m singing the theme song in my head…  Scooby, where are you?!)

We are Thankful

We will have our regular Thursday posts tomorrow, but it’ll be big fun to write them with the fur-girls for a change.  However, a lot of you are already elbow deep in the holiday baking, and others already have house guests, so I wanted to get a somewhat timely Happy Thanksgiving out there!

The buffet

Un-garnished version from Christmas 2005

I’ll make my cranberry sauce tonight.  I’m terribly picky; I gagged a bit earlier this month when Sandra Lee suggested just buying the canned stuff because it’s so much cheaper and no one will know the difference.  Hello?!  You bet I will!   (And no, I’m not a big fan of Semi-Homemade, but it was on…) 

It’s a very simple recipe; just follow the cooking instructions on the bag of fresh crannies, add orange zest (or a teaspoon of marmalade if you’re without a fresh orange) while cooking.  Chill overnight, then garnish with finely chopped pecans or walnuts.

A hint on zesting…  It really is more of an art than one might think.  Do NOT add pith – the white stuff.  It’s bitter!!   I actually use a micro-grater and then just add a few pretty “curls” of zest to the top, along with the nuts.

I had planned a lovely pumpkin bread pudding for dessert, but the Knight announced this morning that he and his brother require their grandmother’s strawberry cake.  Oh boy.   It’s not always fun being the keeper of the strawberry icing.  (That’s the secret…  Anyone can make the cake well enough.  I’m pretty sure real, fresh, unsalted butter, whipped to a frenzy is the key.)

The buffet

The popular corn pudding

Do you have go-to dishes that your family expects every holiday?  I’m also expecting a call tomorrow morning, asking me to make corn pudding.   Aside from my cranberry sauce, I’m a baker, not a cook.  (Thanks to MJ and her strange collection of holiday pot luck tables on Flickr!  Without them, I would have had to use stock photos from somewhere…)

Whatever you do, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  And if you’re not in the US, we’ll see you tomorrow for the usual posts!