All posts by sammee44

STICKY NOTES

I really love “sticky notes.”  You know, those little bits of yellow paper with a bit of a sticky back that allows you to tack the paper to anything as a “reminder?” Well, Windows 10 has a sticky note app and it’s great. I highly recommend it. I have a lot of stuff happening—deadlines to keep, stuff I need to do and appointments I need to remember plus all the other things that can clutter up your day. I get to type each day’s reminder on a different colour sticky note, not just yellow ones. Yep, my life is relegated to a colourful strip of sticky note reminders.

Up to a few months ago, the computer’s sticky note system was working well. That is, until the dreaded Microsoft updates. My computer is getting older and it can be persnickety, but each time it gets its updates, something gets lost or changed. This time, it hit the sticky notes.

Poking my computer awake from its sleep-mode, no sticky notes were visible—nothing on my task bar and absolutely nothing on my desktop. I didn’t panic.  I did have my backup calendar–the real one.  Calmly, I headed for my list of apps and clicked on sticky notes. Bingo! My chronological rainbow list of sticky notes bounced back on my desktop.

Today, my sticky notes were missing. Nada on my taskbar; nada on my desktop. I went to my list of apps and clicked on the yellow sticky notes. Nothing. I did it again. Nothing. I had to call in my expert. Hubby went through all the steps I had just done. Not a sticky note in sight. Sighing with frustration, Hubby and I looked at each other and turned the computer off.

Fortifying ourselves with a Dutch Bakery Dark Chocolate Kahlua, we braced ourselves and turned the computer back on. We then repeated the whole process again with no success.  I clicked on “Setting” and typed in “sticky notes.” The sticky note app popped up with a “Reset” button. Next to dark chocolates, I love buttons that I can push, turn or pull.  I pushed the button. It was a post-Christmas miracle—sticky notes were back with its rainbow list. Time to put the computer to bed–I’ll keep my fingers crossed that those darn sticky notes will still be on my desktop tomorrow.

Chaos, confusion, wars and disasters exist around the world, including North America. In 48 hours, the Old Guy will be heaving a huge sigh of relief that he can finally pass everything over to the New Kid, whose cocky confidence of leaping into the skirmish will be his initiation to a brand new year. The Kid will have a lot to contend with. I only hope he knows what to do if those darn sticky notes disappear again. . . . .

 

HUGGER MUGGERS

(Thank you Gingerbelles and 3Bees for requesting this 2014 post from my Archives. All of you give fabulous parties with not a single hugger-mugger in sight! See you all in 2019)

I’m normally a non-violent lady who enjoys the quirks and foibles of her fellow man, but the one custom I’m not fond of is being bush-whacked by a hugger-mugger. Have you met any? I’m sure you know at least one or two. The reason I’m venting now is because another social season will soon be upon us and there are hordes of hugger-muggers ready to launch their hugs at any given moment.

Generally, these people seem very congenial and friendly until they clasp your hand and haul your unwilling self towards them to give you the mother of all hugs—up close and personal. I’ve  checked my etiquette book and this is one custom not covered well. Chinese people are generally not touchy-feely unless it’s someone we know well—like really well.  But in social gatherings, meeting some stranger for the first time and discovering too late they are hugger-muggers, makes a person think murderous thoughts or at best, a violent solution like a knee to the you-know-where.

Hugger-muggers are very sneaky people. They look so ordinary and normal until they get hit with any excuse for hugs at social gatherings. Give them a glass of wine or two or three and hugger-muggers are in their dangerous zone. This is when their hands tend to roam all over as part of their friendly hugs. Hugger-muggers do not read body language well and will translate a verbal “no” as “yes.”

So, to all hugger-muggers who are perfecting their hugging techniques–take note. I’ll be wearing my Kevlar vest, my 3″ stiletto heels and bringing my 6’3″, 4th degree black-belt martial arts husband. I may be short, but I won’t be defenseless if confronted by any hugger-muggers.

 

There is Something About the Holiday Season

There is something about the Holiday Season, aka Christmas, that I both love and hate. I’ve noticed this as each Christmas comes and goes. I know some of you are thinking, “How can you not love this time of year?” Easy, I say.

The very first thing I dislike is hearing Christmas songs in October. How can anyone possibly think Christmas trees and jingle-bells when Canadians haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving yet and Halloween hasn’t ghosted by. Early displays of fake Christmas trees mingled with Halloween costumes doesn’t do anything for me except destroy whatever holiday spirit is struggling to survive.

Christmas should be in July because December travelers have to struggle through snow storms, blizzards, cancelled airlines flights, cancelled ferries and buses. Recent powerful West Coast gale-force winds caused extensive power outages that resulted in more winter chaos and holiday headaches for determined travelers. Travelers want to be with their families at this time of year and they go through a heck of a lot to be there.

I love the pastries, desserts and fantastic home-baking that comes out of Christmas. What’s not to like when you’re faced with butter shortbreads, minced tarts, gingerbread, sugar cookies, triple chocolate snickerdoodles, panettone, biscotti, tortierre and so much more. Oh wait–this also includes dark chocolate dipped marshmallow Santas and snowmen. When these are allowed to “age” for a month or two, the marshmallow becomes chewy and that’s the best time to enjoy them.

I hate the postal lineups because people like me, somehow wait ’til the last minute before firing off those overseas or international cards and parcels. This year I had the best excuse of all for being late–Canada was suffering through intermittent “roving” postal strikes.  This meant that even if your parcel or card was processed in your city, it may have been stalled in another city that was the designated “strike of the day.”

Regular shopping goes out the window at this time of year. That’s when the shopping ogres and grinches snarl their demands, apply their pushy ways and display attitude—lots of attitude. Leisurely browsing and shopping are put on hold ’til later, much later.

Now that Christmas is a mere 2 days away, the frenzy has dropped to a simmer because if the  important thing isn’t done by now, then it will likely never be done ’til afterwards and by then, it won’t matter anymore.  Most people are much nicer and the smiles are more sincere; after all, in 48 hours all this will be over until next year. I have this vision of a very weary and battered 2018 passing over the reins to an energetic, bouncy, fully-charged 2019, who’s eager to leap into whatever is awaiting us. That’s the moment in time I love—everything is new and ready for our footprints.

Thank you to all my friends and readers who have been following Chocofigbee—especially those leaving your comments when something I’ve posted connected with you. I always enjoy hearing from you.

May the love and joy of Christmas stay with you throughout the coming year. And, may 2019 be the year you reach for your dream and hold it in your hands. Merry Christmas. Everyone and a very Happy New Year. . . .

Triple Chocolate Doodles

When I was growing up, everyone in my family could cook or bake or do both, equally well.  We weren’t fancy cooks or bakers, just good at comfort foods and family favorites. One of the family faves was “Triple Chocolate Doodles” that my grandmother baked.  As I grew older, I realized it was actually a variation of the “Snickerdoodle,” a vanilla flavored cookie dough, soft enough to drop from a teaspoon, onto a cookie sheet. Snickerdoodles were good too, but if your tummy had a craving for chocolate, then the Triple Chocolate Doodles filled the bill.

The problem is, Grandma didn’t have a written recipe for this family favorite. It was made so often, the recipe was engraved on her brain.  It wasn’t exactly a real recipe when Grandma would show her grand-daughters, “Now, a chunk of butter like this, a couple of large eggs, a dollop of vanilla, cups of flour plus a smidge, until the dough feels right. . . .” and as she was talking, my tiny grandma would be beating the life out of the butter and eggs.  Fry’s cocoa powder played a huge part in the recipe as well as lots of chocolate chips. When the cookies were hot out of the oven and cooling on the racks, Grandma would add the finishing touch by drizzling melted dark chocolate over each doodle.

Every time Grandma made these, they were melt-in-your-mouth delicious and absolutely fail-proof. It didn’t matter if you asked what precise measurement would make a “chunk” or  how much exactly was a “dollop?” After all, it had to be the same every time because scientifically, a more or less difference in chunks or dollops would produce a less than perfect triple chocolate doodle, right?  At least, that was my logical reasoning. And another thing, when does the dough feel right?

Well, I just figured out the secret of the family recipe–precise amounts of ingredients won’t work. Throw logic out the window. Go with the chunks, dollops and smidges.  Add lots of chocolate and a heaping amount of love. Triple Chocolate Doodles are still a winner and absolutely fail-proof when you use “Grandma’s recipe” with her own special measurements.

COFFEE AND DESSERT

Dish of pastries        Okay, my official approval is officially recorded here.  Dark Belgian chocolate brownies and doughnuts still head my list of preferred goodies to co-mingle with my caffeine fix. Danishes are delish and will do in a pinch. Apple, lemon or pumpkin pies are a close second, but only if the pastry and fillings are made the way my Mom and Mom-in-Law, made them. They made the absolute best. But, whatever anyone else prefers, I believe desserts are getting a bum rap–yep, desserts deserve to be heard and seen. . .and eaten.  I’m speaking up for the real desserts.

What brought this on? Well, my fave coffee place ran out of desserts! What kind of caffeine-brewing place ever runs out of Danishes, doughnuts and brownies? Hoo-boy, this one did and not only that, the “vacancies” were filled with new tenants occupying their platters. Stuff like fat-free “Blueberry Bran Muffins,” “Whole Wheat Crackles” and “Oatmeal Quinoa” squares. Well okay, the squares did have cranberries and coconut. The muffins did have a cutesy-poo name like “Blue Mountain Muffins.” Carefully I scanned the display case again. Yep, no buttery croissants. No crisp flaky Danishes. Not even a light-as-air, puff pastry sausage roll. Don’t get me wrong. I have been known to eat the good-for-you goodies, but when you head out for a perfect cup of coffee, then it needs a delicious piece of pastry as its perfect mate.

“Hey, Stan. Where’s the good stuff? Still in your back room?” I asked.

“Too much fat and sugar, Toots. We gotta eat more healthy if we want to live longer.”

“Trust me, Stan. You will be losing a heck of a lot of clientele if you don’t bring back the sugar and fat. I like my sugar and fat—-in fact, I want your terrific coffee and all my fave desserts back.”

I figured, someone had to make a stand for desserts. The healthy ones are okay if you really, really need something to go with that great cup of java. However, the flipside is, if you don’t make a stand for all those delicious goodies made with real butter and  real sugar, then you’re going to be paying for more fat-free, sugarless, wholegrains, healthy stuff you can make and eat at home—free.  Pretty soon, fat-free sugarless goodies would be invading and taking over all the coffee bars in town. Desserts were definitely getting the bum’s rush out the door and no one was speaking up.

Well, I made my official stand for desserts–real desserts–with my caffeine fix. A week later, I stopped at Stan’s for my usual cup of his superb coffee and glanced at his showcase.

“Whoa, Stan! What happened? Your Danishes and Belgian chocolate brownies and croissants are back.”

“You were right, Toots. Not everyone wanted healthy. Apparently my place was their get-away from fat-free and sugarless. But, just in case, I have a few muffins for those who want healthy.”

“Stanley, you did the right thing,” I beamed at him. “I’ll have the cherry Danish and the brownie. It’s been a “dry” spell for your pastries and I’ll have to make up for lost time.”

Another Neighborhood Ramble

I love walking and discovering new things. My morning walk takes me to interesting places. I’m very fortunate living in an area where, no matter which direction I walk, it will be scenic with probably water, mountains or beautiful gardens.

Early in the morning is the best time as it’s lively with dogs walking their owners, wandering deer, some errant raccoons scurrying to their beds and those busy squirrels, scampering up trees and dashing across roads. The coffee bars open early and I have discovered some nifty ones tucked in a corner, known mainly by the neighbourhood locals. This also holds true for the bakeries that sells warm cinnamon buns, buttery croissants and flaky pastries wrapped around savoury fillings.

I tell Hubby I’m off on one of my “power-walks” and he knows I won’t be back for at least an hour or even longer. I usually choose a random direction and if I see an interesting road, I check it out.Mystery Path

I know my streets, but where I live, the streets do not move in a straight and orderly line. One street may start out as one thing. When it’s interrupted by hills and lanes, it usually emerges as something else.  I think I have devised my own version of a map of my area. Sometimes my mental map of the area doesn’t exactly match the actual map. I may be      slightly off my planned route, but I’m not lost.  A person can miss a treasure trove of fun things when passing in a car, but as a walker there are numerous things along the route that grabs your attention.

First of all, there is a number of “free lending libraries–many are miniature houses        painted in eye-catching colours and a few are entertainingly creative.

Snoopy Books - Copy      Library Retaken Closer

My faves are the Snoopy, draped on the roof of his “house” and the original  piano house.  Next, there are the garden ornaments that makes that particular home unique.      I like garden knick-knacks with a personality and some of the ones I’ve discovered             definitely fits that criteria. I’ve seen the mysterious East reflected in Buddha’s stone face,  the “sleeping Goddess” nestled in the ornamental grass and the “dancing lovers.”

Cropped Figure Head                           Cropped Lovers                     Sleeping Beauty Ornament

Down the street and around the corner is an attractive birdhouse as well as my favourite “fairy house.”

Cropped Birdhouse               Fairy Door

A detour down a beckoning lane takes me to an unexpected “Keep Out Deer” sign,          no doubt posted by a frustrated gardener. . .

Warning to Deer - Copy

Time to head homewards by a different route—wonder what other fun things I’ll see along the way?

 

Love, Not War

                                         Cropped Sole Red Heart-Shaped Leaf - Copy

On my  early  morning walk, I saw this  one lonely red leaf, still clinging

to its branch.

It had curled into a heart-shape and I saw it as a positive sign for this

November 11th.

Let’s have more Peace and Love, not War and Hate for this

beautiful World of ours.