Category Archives: humour

Peanut Butter Cookie Challenge

I had this sudden yen for peanut butter cookies—a plain, simple, home-made peanut butter cookie.

So I dug out my collection of cookie cookbooks and did some quick research. Some books didn’t even have a plain, old-fashion peanut butter cookie, but they did have the cookie dressed up with chocolate chips, orange peel, extra roasted peanuts and all other combinations using chocolate, dried fruit and crunchy nuts.

The first recipe used up most of the jar of Adams Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter. It was a jar I bought by mistake as  I had reached for the Adams Creamy. The drawback with Adams peanut butter is that it requires mixing the peanut oil back into the peanut butter before it can be used. The recipe also called for 2 cups of all-purpose flour, but I decided to mix some whole-wheat, ground flax and wheat germ into the mixture as well. I was able to scoop spoonfuls of dough into a ball and flatten with a fork. When this batch of cookies cooled enough to sample, I noted it was a solid cookie that would travel well in a deep pocket, along with a bag of trail mix—perfect for a few hours of hiking or a power walk. It also needed more peanut butter as it barely tasted like a peanut had rolled through.

After looking over more recipes, I decided to add a bit here, omit a bit there and increase the peanut butter. Hubby doesn’t eat this kind of cookie and I had to eat whatever I made so it had to be super tasty.

The next recipe I found had fine coconut and dried cranberries which I omitted. I also generously increased the amount of peanut butter from its original 1/2 cup to a full cup. The results were a slightly softer cookie, tasted like it had peanut butter in it and was addictive–not because it was tasty, which it was, but because the size and shape felt good in my hand and with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee, it was almost perfect.

Today, I tried one more recipe and this is the one I’ll return to next time I get the urge for a good peanut butter cookie. These cookies spread big, were crispy on the edges and slightly soft in the centre. There was a distinctive taste of peanut butter and when these cookies were baking, the kitchen smelled like roasting peanuts. And the amazing thing was there were no dark chocolate chips or chunky chocolate in these cookies—simply a generous addition of a creamy-style peanut butter.  To burn off those darn calories and the extra five pounds of “research”, I now power walk twice a day but it was worth every single bite of those 50+ peanut butter cookies.  What we must do to scratch a yen. . . . .’til the next time.

 

Those After Christmas Sales

I sympathize with my California friend, Eva S, who lost a sock  somewhere in the stratosphere (www.notesfromthecupcakerescueleague.wordpress.com/). My loss has been much greater—I lost 3 giant rolls of silver and gold  embossed Christmas wrapping paper plus 2 boxes of sparkling-snow-scene-with-cute-puppies Christmas cards. I know I have them because I fell for that after Christmas sales of wrapping paper, bags and cards that were 75% off at the store. I felt I was a giant step ahead for next Christmas when I had my supply of cards and  gift wraps. And yes, I did put them away in a safe place so I could put my hands on them as soon as the month of December loomed into sight. It was tucked in such a safe place I couldn’t find it when I needed it.

After Christmas sales, also known as Boxing Day Specials—can be a boon to some but disastrous to others. First of all, there is no such thing as a “bargain”–not unless it’s in the technological field and at least 80% off, if they want me inside their store. I remember my friends camping out overnight just to be the first through the door when the electronics store opened on Boxing Day. Back then, there were some great bargains.

My dilemma with the missing wrapping paper and cards came to the fore-front when Hubby and I walked past the card-shop. Yep, there were boxes and boxes of cards plus stacks of glittery, Christmas-y wrapping paper AND all for 70% off the regular price. I’m not falling for that this year–besides  it was a bit more reduced last year. Hubby and I walked on by.

I know I have at least 3 past post-Christmas sales of wraps and cards tucked somewhere in a secret hidey-hole. AND I just know that when I need some special occasion wrapping paper, my Christmas ones will fall out of the closet instead.

So Eva S–don’t worry about your missing sock. It’s probably with my missing wrapping paper and cards. Somewhere, they are commiserating with other misplaced items until their owners  finally reunite with them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Chocolate Cherry Christmas

At my house, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas unless there was something under the tree that held dark chocolate tucked inside its wrapped package. This Christmas, Hubby and I hit the jackpot.

A few years ago, we received a box of dark chocolate covered cherries with such a deliciously appealing picture on the box, that our brain had already signalled our mouths there was a treat heading its way. And, it didn’t disappoint—that distinctive taste of dark chocolate; that spurt of liqueur bathing a plump cherry; that satisfying melding of dark chocolate, liqueur and a juicy cherry was absolutely heavenly.

After that, when we saw a box of chocolate covered cherries, we treated ourselves to it. But the disappointment was too painful to describe. Let me just say that the dark chocolate was bland and waxy; the syrup was too icky sweet and not a liqueur AND the cherry was a pitiful wizened piece of dubious fruit. After those disappointments, whenever we spotted a potential box of cherry treats, we stayed away—mentally kicking ourselves that we never made note of the brand of chocolate cherries  given to us, way back when.

Last week, I saw an unpretentious sealed foil bag with a clear window, showing the supposedly extra-dark chocolate cherries in liqueur, wrapped in its red and silver foil. I grabbed a bag. On Christmas, Hubby opened the sealed bag and immediately our noses sighed with pleasure as the dark chocolate scent of liqueur wafted out. Immediately,  our brains zinged the message to our mouths that something great would be coming. And this time, it didn’t disappoint.

Our mouths bit into a decadent piece of extra-dark chocolate that immediately squirted a shot of liqueur that had soaked a plump, juicy cherry. This is how a dark chocolate cherry should be always. And yes, I have made note of the brand. Thank you, Witor’s IL Boero–may you always prosper and keep making these wonderful Italian chocolate cherries. It made our Christmas even more special. . . .

Pretzels

My first introduction to a pretzel was the cracker-like, snack-food kind—tiny, crispy. slightly salted and perfect with beer or a glass of wine.  I didn’t know they also came the size of a dinner plate; a twisty bread hot out of the oven with a slightly salty, crispy outside and a soft inside. My cousin demonstrated how to eat it slathered with hot mustard, but I preferred mine unadorned, tearing pieces of it and savouring the warm dough. Being young and skinny, both of us enjoyed our hot pretzels without any guilty thoughts of bread control.

So, it was a revelation to see that food trends had taken a new twist–pardon the pun. I always enjoy seeing “something old becoming new again,” but who would have put the lowly pretzel in the retro box?

I now think  of pretzels as the “perfect” food. You know, like a pizza that has your carbs, proteins and veggies, pretzels can be dressed up or down the same way.  There is a new pretzel cart in town. When I saw the pretzel cart, I dashed over to check it out. I love to nibble on the plain, hot twisty dough, but now I can add my choice of melted cheese, tiny cocktail sausages, teriyaki baby prawns, crispy bacon and a scoop of tangy salsa—see, carbs, proteins and veggies on a dinner plate size pretzel!

And, for all you chocolate lovers out there, there were also chocolate dipped mini-pretzels for dessert.  Heavens, what next?  Oh wait—I just spotted something new at my supermarket—chocolate dipped potato chips. . . Pul–leez tell me that’s not so!

Go Away, Christmas Blues

Now that we’re getting closer to the “Big Day,” I seem to be losing some of my momentum. Two weeks ago, I was out there, enthusiastically elbowing my way through the crowds and picking out a few things for the family. A week ago, I was doing my baking–the mince tarts, the fruit loaves, the shortbreads,–but somehow, between then and now, I’ve lost the oomph that’s needed to carry me through to New Year’s.

I think it’s very important when you start getting into the Christmas Spirit. I use to pop on the music, haul out my already decorated teeny-tiny tree and start my baking—usually mince tarts because the smell of the spices really gets you going. This year, all it got me was the thought that maybe, I started a tad too early because the mince tarts are gone,  only a few shortbreads are left, and we’re already nibbling the fruit loaves. The thought of what’s left to do on the pre-Christmas list is too depressing to think about. So, to cure myself of this blue funk, I did the next best thing to winning the lottery—I borrowed my best friend’s 4-year old twins.

First, we checked out Christmas Village, a miniature village set up behind a huge downtown corner window. It showed Santa’s Workshop with little elves scurrying hither and thither, trying to complete their toy orders to fill Santa’s sleigh.  There was a miniature train winding around and through the Village, its engine huffing and puffing up the steep hill and finally to the Station. The more the girls and I stared, more details became apparent—the horse-drawn buggy with the coachman nodding to everyone he passed; the elderly lady who had dropped her bag of oranges and the little boys who helped to pick them up; the children skating on the pond; the little dog running with the red ball in his mouth; the baker-man passing out cookies from his tray; the tiny houses with lights winking and blinking inside; sporadic puffs of smoke from a few chimneys and much, much more. The twins were fascinated and so was I.

Our next stop was “Tiny Chapters,” a children’s bookstore where we were  just in time for Story Hour.  After that, cocoa and cookies at “Maisie’s,”  then the Children”s Choir and toy-store in Market Square. The joyous sounds of children singing was the perfect ending to a fun day.  The kids and I had a great time. I got re-energized and my best friend enjoyed an unexpected “free” afternoon sans twins.  AND, I’ve got my oomph back so I’m good ’til after New Year’s. . . .

Pens

I love pens. I especially like pens with ornamental or novelty heads at the end. I have a few that are squishy so in those moments, when the pen is willing but the paper is blank, I can get inspired squishing the alligator’s head so that his cheeks and eyes bulge alarmingly. It doesn’t really inspire any great thoughts, just creates a bit of distraction. I also have a pen that, if you bash it against the palm of your hand, its green bulb flashes on and off—another distraction for a few seconds. My favourite had a goblin head but it fell off one day when I was writing like fury. The replacement pen with the squishy monkey-head with pink rubberized hair wasn’t quite the same.  And the weight of the head made the pen top-heavy so that writing was a chore. My bug-on-a-leaf pen is cool but it feels awkward when I write so I tuck it in my pen-cup, along with all the others. I have three pen-cups, all stuffed with pens of fine, medium and thick tips, black markers, highliters of various colours, permanent pens for writing on tapes and DVDs—the list goes on.

I find pens are important. You can never have too many because when you need a pen in a hurry, there they are—ready when you are.  And have you notice when someone lends you a pen, it mysteriously ends up in your pocket or purse?  Or, vice-versa.

Recently I bought a package of regular pens–these were the Bic’s ultra-round sticks with an easy glide. I like these pens because they start immediately—no scratching on a pad to get the ink started.  I’ve left several lying around but they seem to mysteriously disappear, so someone else must be enjoying them too.

Of course, with my collection of pens, I have to have my pads of many colours. Notepads not only have a choice of lined or unlined pages but now comes in different motifs, colours and cute slogans or messages.  I like “Sex is Better than Coffee But Chocolate is the Best” or “Don’t Tell the Boss, Send Him a Memo” or my favourite phone message pad, “Monkey Business Only.” My sticky notepad has a message too.

The other day, I had this crazy inspiration and just had to jot it down before I forgot it. I wrote it on my lime-green sticky pad and tucked it in my purse. Later at the bank while searching in my purse for my bank card, my sticky pad fell on the teller’s counter. Prominently across the top, in big black letters was “This is a Stick-up” and in much smaller letters, directly beneath, “Stick Me on Anything!”  Thank goodness the teller had a sense of humour and didn’t panic.

Okay—enough kabbitzing–back to work!

Hugger-Muggers

As the Holiday Season approaches, I am re-posting my earlier comments from 2012—nothing has changed. Hugger-muggers are still out there!

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 usually not touchy-feely unless it’s someone we know well—like really well.  But in social gatherings, meeting some strangers 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 always 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 stiletto heels and bringing my 6′ black-belt, 4th degree, martial arts husband.  I may be short but I won’t be defenseless if confronted by any hugger-muggers. . .

Manual Woes

There is nothing I dislike more than having to read a manual. It’s probably not that big a deal but when this issue comes up, it’s a biggie for me.  Most times I don’t have to read any manuals unless it becomes absolutely necessary–at which point, I become thoroughly traumatized.

Hubby and I have devised a system of sorts over the years. Hubby does the assembling and fixing. When needed, I read these folded bits of paper or booklets with the instructions and important information in sixteen different languages.  Sometimes the assembling instructions are quite detailed but stated in a unique form of English that defies interpretation–especially if the article is made in some obscure place like Outer Bhurkistan.  Conversely there are English instructions and information that are quite sparing in words–leaving you to fill in the blanks.

The one and only time I didn’t mind reading the manual was when we were assembling my desk. This project had a perfect manual. The instructions clearly showed every nut, bolt, screw and washer included. Each piece and part was labeled clearly. The desk was packaged to be assembled in sections that had to be done in a specific order. It was a dream project and one that went smoothly and frazzled-free. Best of all, the instructions were written in clear, concise and real English. To this day, I’m still using the desk which has held up well.  But. I digress.

Manuals were never part of my genetic setup. I’m the type of person who likes to watch how various stuff is put together and then do it.  My brain does not absorb the printed words or pictures of a do-it-yourself manual. I always figured the good Lord did not put me on this Earth to nut-n-bolt stuff together unless it was the edible kind.  And in that case, I can out-perform anyone.

But it’s not just popping the pieces together in the how-to section.  It’s the other part of the manual that explains the what-for, why-for and where-for. I really don’t need to scare myself knowing these things, since the only time I’ll dive for the manual is when something goes terribly wrong.  Hopefully, Troubleshooting will give me the answer or the 1-800 number for Customer Assistance.  For now, I’m stacking all these bits of paper and helpful booklets and stuffing them under “M” for Manuals.

 

 

 

Line-ups

Have you ever noticed that the more you hurry, the slower you are? It’s true, especially in line-ups.

The line-up at my bank had only three people in front of me.  And, checking out the tellers, I could see that two of them were just winding up their business, so  it should be a fast moving line.  No, it was unbelievable how everything slowed down when I got to the head of the line. I’m sure I could have bought and sold some stocks if I had some, moved my meagre funds around the world and had a long leisurely lunch with the bank president.  See, just when you think you’re ahead of the game, you’re suddenly behind.

The other day I was at the supermarket and with my five items, I headed for the Express Lane–you know, the lane that allows  9-items or less and cash only. There I was, thinking It was my lucky day because only one person was in front of me. Yep, you guessed right–that person had 15-items she had already unloaded and her debit card at the ready. The cashier gently pointed out this was a cash-only express lane for 9-items or less, but because there was now 6-persons behind me, the time and trouble unloading her stuff into her buggy and shuffling her off to another line was more trouble than it was worth. So, rather than being 10 minutes ahead of myself I was now 10 minutes behind.

Then there was my experience at the department store. I barely stepped inside the door and there was my one and only perfect wool sweater–-the right style, the right size and the right colour.  Of course I wasn’t going to leave it! So I grabbed this perfect sweater and ran to Customer Service. There were two cashiers working cheerfully and merrily away so the lineup, though long, was really moving quickly. Until it stopped at the lady in front of me.  Suddenly the cashiers weren’t looking so cheerful or merry and neither was working so efficiently anymore,

Three dreaded words when you’re in a lineup—Exchanges and Returns.

See, more proof that just when you think you landed in a fast lineup with a quick get-away, you inevitably can put down roots waiting for your turn to come up. And, from my experience, don’t look for the shortest lines–they’re usually the longest. I think that’s why supermarkets have all the snacks, chocolate bars and magazines close by. Smart marketing and “survival” rations for people held up by lineups.

Silly Thoughts

It’s uncanny how your mind can wander when you’re feeling blah and unable to get out.  Your thoughts tend to roam hither and thither, stopping at memories best forgotten or silly things that can make your head spin–you know, phenomenal events that  occur daily in  anyone’s home.

Coat hangers are an example. Before we moved into our house, we made sure all the wire coat hangers were left behind or recycled. There were no wire coat-hangers in our new home–that’s nada, zilch, zippo–no wire coat hangers, none. It was like some evil-genie who made sure these wire hangers kept popping up in various closets. It was like an epidemic of mass proportions. One wire hanger morphed into four hangers and the next time we opened a closet door, there were eight!

Paper clips must be the mini-cousin to coat hangers. I swear there were only a few paper-clips in my desk drawer. Suddenly paper clips popped out of file folders, notepads, reference texts, my pen-pot and I even found two more cohabiting in my coat pocket.

Buttons are another example. I find it very useful when the manufacturer tacks a “spare” button on the underside of cardigans and blouses. These “spares” are usually tucked away in my sewing box in the event a button is lost,  there is an identical button ready. Somehow, this never works at my house. The spare buttons have been zapped somewhere into the stratosphere as there seems to be lots of alien ones I’ve never seen before.

And one final thought. I am extremely careful in using my supply of straight pins to shorten a hemline or pair of pants. But no matter how careful I am, straight pins will be sucked up by my vacuum for the next six months. The proportion of straight pins sucked up is always proportionately greater than the straight pins actually used.  Straight pins are definitely another cousin to paper clips and wire hangers. They were invented to drive sane humans into a tizzy.

As I said at the beginning, it’s uncanny how your mind can wander and wonder over inconsequential things when you’re house-bound.