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Give a little bit of your love to me…. February 11, 2009

Filed under: Gifting,Holidays — LotusMama @ 9:08 am
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Originally uploaded by * ire *

Gorgeous, aren’t these? Normally, Valentine’s Day decorations can look like cupid threw up all over the place but there is something about this collage that I found on Flickr that I really like.

For those of you who may have forgotten, V Day is Saturday, February 14 (yep, right after Friday the 13th this year, bwhahahaha…).

I love Valentine’s Day and I hate it. I love it when family and friends express how much they care for each other, genuinely sharing that love with homemade valentines, simple tokens and plain old hugs & kisses.

I hate it for sateen boxer shorts with would-be witty sayings silkscreened across the rear, plastic flocked roses, corpulent cherubs piercing anything that moves, and “naughty” nightgowns. That’s not my idea of sharing love. Bleh.

This year, NR made our Valentine’s tokens and our little cards. Nothing fancy, nothing showy and nothing involving sateen or cherubs. I think our family will like them.

We’re also going to be showing our love by making a donation with MissionFish (via eBay) to a non-profit of NR’s choosing. We’re going to sit down, go through the list of charities and choose a group that means something to him. Our donation won’t be a large one (I wish we could do more) but it’s a small token of care and a way for him to see that love doesn’t have to be just for those close to us.

I’ll close this post with my favorite band, The Goo Goo Dolls. I can’t think of a better Valentine’s Day song than this. Happy V Day, everybody!


Welcome to the New Year Pineapple January 2, 2009

Filed under: Holidays — LotusMama @ 9:54 am
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Hubby bought me a lovely book for Christmas, one that I mentioned a long time ago at this post about domestic porn – no, not that kind, the Martha Stewart, perfect house kind. The post (way back in October 2007) was inspired by a UK article that dissed on Jane Brockett’s book, The Gentle Art of Domesticity. Long story short, that’s the book that hubby purchased for Christmas.

Whew, way off track, sorry. Guess I can’t see the road for all the snow we just received last night. Blizzard Redux.

Ok, so I have the book and I’m enjoying it. Ms. Brockett writes about her inspiration and one small section deals with pineapples. She even quotes one of my all-time favorite songs, which just so happens to speak of pineapples – “It Couldn’t Please Me More” from Cabaret. If you don’t know it, here is a lovely version set to SpongeBob:

(Where else can you find cartoons singing Broadway tunes, huh?)

The whole pineapple fascination just happened to sync with my own longing for pineapples.  In crochet, I love pineapple lace and I hope to make some in 2009. Here’s a look at it:pineapplelaceWe’ve already talked about my pineapple upside down cake mishap on New Year’s Eve. I’ve also been adding a bit of country primitives to my home and the pineapple is a featured symbol of hospitality and home. I’m not sure how a fruit from the tropics took on that role for colonial America, but there you go. Perhaps because offering such a rare fruit to your guests would be the height of sharing.

Fruitily inspired, on New Year’s Day I bought a pineapple. Not in the can, a fresh pineapple, pokey leaves and tough skin and all. And like Fraulein Schneider, I have it on the counter looking at it, a bit timid to actually crack it open and eat it. Today might be the day that I slice into the New Year Pineapple (now to join the ranks of Christmas Tree, Yule Log and Santa Claus for Holiday symbols). Purchased on the first day of 2009, the pineapple will fill my new year with sweetness and sunshine…and possibly gas. But that is a small price to pay for a taste of Hawaii on a bleak cold day in January. Grilled fresh pineapple with a view of snowflakes couldn’t please me more.


The good, the bad and the sticky – New Year’s Eve January 1, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Holidays — LotusMama @ 9:52 am
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I can’t remember the last time I went out for New Year’s Eve. It might have been eight years ago when I was pregnant with my son and my family went out to a fancy dinner, which I could barely eat. That’s the last memory I can pull up but I’m sure there has been stuff since then. A midnight reveler, I’m not. Not surprising, we didn’t have any great plans for this Eve.

However, something remarkable decided to happen on our ho-hum evening just the same. My cousin’s baby girl decided to be born on New Year’s Eve instead of New Year’s Day. Talk about a humdinger of a New Year! Congratulation to momma and baby. I hope the fireworks didn’t disturb their rest.

That was the good part of the evening. The bad part of the evening came in the form of a movie we rented from Netflix. For those who have seen Tropic Thunder and who enjoyed it, all I can say is

(sound of crickets, a baby – perhaps my cousin’s daughter – wails in the background)

I can’t remember when I’ve seen a worse film. Really. I’ve seen some clunkers but this one was so bad it left me wanting eye-bleach at the end of it. I get that it was a parody, I get the spoof, yadda yadda yadda, Tom Cruise in a fat suit, exploding bodies, Jack Black tied to a tree (that sounds more interesting that it was, trust me).

Well, on to the sticky portion of the night. The plan was to make pineapple upside cake and it would have gone off without a hitch if I had actually had some pineapple in the cupboard. Alas, no pineapple. But I did the next best thing. I used a pineapple, strawberry and mango fruit blend from the freezer. After thawing out the fruit on the stove, I strained it and put that in the bottom of the pan. The final result still had pineapple but also had some other, dare I say, tropic flavors going on. And above all, it was sticky. Sticky with brown sugar goodness.

It was while eating this concoction of the sofa, watching Tropic Thunder and the scene with Jack Black in various fat suits (yes, there were fat suits a-plenty in this film) that I thought perhaps January would be a good time to pull back on the sweets. I have a feeling parfait with fruit and low-fat pudding may be making some appearances around here.

There you have it – the (really) good, the (really) bad, and the (just enough) sticky. I hope your New Year’s was exciting or at least couch-comfy. Here’s to a great 2009!


The lesser known (but equally talented) Kringle – Gretel December 23, 2008

Filed under: Crafting,Holidays — LotusMama @ 12:46 pm
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There are many wonderful tales of warmth and family at this time of year, stories that drive the chill from our hearts and make us glad to have our loved ones close by. This is not one of those stories. This is the story of Gretel Kringle, amateur yodeling champ (about to turn professional) and younger sister to a Goody Two Shoes brother (her term, not mine  – actually, in German it is Schuhe der guten Sachen zwei) named Kris.

Gretel and her brother have been estranged for many years. He lives far away from her, certainly outside of her cell plan, so visiting or even calling each other is infrequent. Gretel doesn’t really mind; she’s been working hard with her therapist to find the joy within herself; only those who lack self-esteem need greeting cards with their image, songs shouting their praises and mountains of cookies from kids to feel good about themselves. (Though she is secretly glad at how fat her brother has become from all the carbs.)

Gretel is currently perfecting her yodeling and learning to play the glockenspiel. She works in a small music shop in Berlin, except for the month long break she takes in December  (she likes to avoid the seasonal music). The Kringle family reunion is set for 2009 in Bermuda, but Gretel hasn’t rsvp’d yet – she is still deciding if she wants to make the trip (though seeing her brother in his board shorts might be amusing, she really can’t stand her sister-in-law).

Though sibling rivalry hampers her normally jolly disposition, Gretel would like to wish you all a very enjoyable late December and early January. She hopes that you all receive the presents that you wish for and that you should feel free to leave an extra cookie or two out for her brother.

Gretel’s story brought to you today by an increasingly cabin-feverish Kimberly Ann. For those wishing to make a Gretel of their own, check out Alicia Paulson’s book “Stitched in Time”.


Here comes Sinterklaas, Here comes Sinterklaas, right down Sinterklaas lane…

Filed under: Global Homemaking,Holidays,Uncategorized — LotusMama @ 12:48 am
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For those who have visited Disneyland, I bet your visit wasn’t complete without a ride through “It’s a Small World”, huh? Maybe because the line at the Matterhorn was too long or because it was ten degrees cooler in there, but most folks take at least one ride in the little boats that glide passed the children of the world singing “…it’s a world of laughter, a world of tears…”

Well, consider this your virtual ride but without the big ticket fees or long lines. Here’s a few fun Christmas facts from around the world (found at this thorough site).

In the Netherlands, Sinterklaas makes an appearance on December 5th, sailing from Spain and leaving gifts and treats in children’s shoes (after removing the hay and sugar that they leave for his horses). In Portugal, it is Pai Natal who brings the presents and fills the shoes left by the fireplace by the hopeful kids.

In Wales, singing songs from house to house is called “eisteddfodde”. The carolers travel around at dawn on Christmas morning, waking people with their music and joining families in their homes for refreshments. Making taffy and eating a Christmas goose dinner are also part of the Welsh traditions.

Ethiopian Christmas is celebrated on January 7th and children usually receive small gifts, such as clothing. In Brazil, fresh flowers and fireworks are among the decorations and the celebrating goes on until January 6th, which is Three Kings Day. In Greece, be on the look out for mischievous goblins that appear on earth during the twelve days of Christmas.

So whether you say Gledileg Jol, Meri Kirihimete, Sawadee Pee Mai or Tchestita Koleda*, you better watch out because You Know Who is coming to town.

(Merry Christmas in Icelanding, Maori, Thai, and Bulgarian)


Baked Bacon and other Sunday morning wonders December 21, 2008

Filed under: Cleaning,Cooking,Holidays — LotusMama @ 10:15 pm
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Bacon isn’t something I usually have in the house. I have to be thinking about it when I go grocery shopping, or see a well crafted display of maple flavored bacon at the end of an aisle that inspires me. Anypig, I happened to have a pack of extra thick bacon in the fridge today and I decided to waver from my usual breakfast of a) nothing, b) frozen waffles, c) corn flakes. Into the oven went the baking sheet, layered with slabs of bacon. Baking bacon? Oh yeah, that is my favorite way to make it. It crisps up evenly, doesn’t get all burned and keeps my stovetop clean. A quickie how-to for baking, for those interested.

So the bacon is a-baking, the coffee is a-perking, and the snow is a-piling. I have cabin fever, big time. Which, considering I was able to get out of my house yesterday and visit my family (thanks to hubby’s steady as steel nerves behind the wheel), doesn’t make sense. But I am itching to get out today. Itching to get to Borders to use my 40% off coupon that expires today. Itching to pick up the books I have on hold at the library. Itching to get a salted caramel hot chocolate and pick up the ham for Christmas dinner. But I won’t get to do any of those things because the snow is just too heavy.

Best to tend to the homefires today. On the agenda is some organization in my craft room, which given all my various Christmas projects, is in some sad shape. After Christmas, we are swapping my craft room space for the office space, so we have tons of boxes, desks, computers, yarn and books to move up and down one floor. A mini move, but it beats the real deal. It will be nice to have more space for the computers (present craft room is waaaay bigger than the current office) and to have my craft supplies closer to my living space upstairs.

Sundays make me hungry for comfort food, so we’re making chicken stew for dinner (and by “we” I mean hubby has been drafted into it). If you haven’t tried Ina Garten’s recipe it just might change your life. Really, it is that good. Especially when someone else makes it.

Tonight after NR goes to bed, the last of the Christmas wrapping will be done and Santa Mama can relax with either some episodes of 24 (thank you, Netflix) or one of the two novels I have going at the moment. Maybe both. These snow-bound days are hard work; kept indoors makes me tackle long standing projects and chores.

Here’s hoping for a non-white Christmas. I’ll take my soggy Seattle days where I can still get around or stay indoors out of choice, not because of climate. Ok, this is official my last whining blog post. No, really.


Bioluminescence, Tudor ghosts and Jane Austen the Sleuth – all before my coffee December 11, 2008

Filed under: Holidays,Jane Austen,Random Thoughts — LotusMama @ 5:07 pm

I tend to get up before everyone else in my house. No matter how late I go to bed, I’m up first and I usually have an hour or so to myself. Typically, I spend it on the computer, surfing. I follow up on random thoughts, check out obscure news, add books to my library “to read” list – the usual kind of stuff.

But today I was a bit weirder than usual. I started with checking airfare rates to London and tour packages – mind you, there is no way I’m going to be able to go any time soon, but what the heck, I can dream, right? BTW, British Airway has $1100 tickets if you are looking to fly in May. There are also some great tour packages to Derbyshire here.

Ok, so that little jaunt led me to reminisce about a family vacation many years ago to Hampton Court Palace (Henry VIII’s old digs). So I pulled up the website and prowled around there for awhile. Interesting photos and articles about the palace and a reference to a recent ghost sighting. Wait, what? I didn’t hear about that.

So, off to youtube to find the CCTV video of the ghost. . Even a guest at the palace that day saw it so it must be true, right?

A little more reading about other spots we saw on our family vacation (Tower of London, villages in Southern England, Stonehenge – it was an amazing trip) got me thinking about visiting Derbyshire – the gorgeous scenery in the latest Pride and Prejudice movie. Well, since I won’t be traveling soon I thought I’d check the library for any books on the subject. That search found me a series of novels where Jane Austen is the detective in murder mysteries. Yeah, there really is no historic person left in the world who hasn’t been turned into a sleuth. Ben Franklin, Elizabeth I, Jane Austen…I’m sure there is a Dolly Madison or Prince Phillip mystery out there somewhere in the world.

Ok, so at this point, I’m thinking about England, ghosts, Regency England and of course, Christmas. This leads me to do a little surfing on Christmas past and I read a little about the Twelve Days of Christmas (boy that song is annoying), which leads me to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, which leads me to an article that explains how bioluminescence could be why his nose glows so bright. So I guess that magic that makes him fly can’t handle glowing nostrils.

It’s an hour later and I’ve seen Henry VIII’s ghost, learned about glowing reindeer noses, added a likely cheesy novel to my “to read” list and planned a vacation to England. What did I ever do before the Internet? All I can say is God Bless Al Gore for inventing it.