In 2002 we ran away from Illinois where we were born and raised, and started a new life in SW Florida. This blog is about me (an eccentric old artist), ROM (my Real Old Man), Isabella (our neurotic Standard Poodle) and Emmy (our crazy snake killing Jack Russell Terrier). Oh- and the neighborhood old people. Life is good in Florida!

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What The Hell Are You Looking At?

Real Old Man is still working on his light display...


He just finished stringing new lights on the wicker sleigh...


Tragically, the matching reindeer died. I don't remember what they died of but probably West Nile or Zika from the damn mosquitoes that are still alive and active.  Now the sleigh sits there by itself.  I suggested we dress the dogs up, tie them to the front of the sleigh and put them on display for a couple hours every night. But ROM thought that would be mean. Pshaw- they'd love it! They would until Emmy saw a rabbit or a cat or another dog or a raccoon- actually anything that moved... which she would chase while pulling the sleigh and Isabella behind her. And Isabella would totally freak out, convinced the sleigh would overtake and kill her in some violent and bloody way. 

Between the two of us, ROM truly is the nice one. Like today, when I looked out the window and saw Dryer Sheet Lady on top of her house. The woman is 75 years old and doesn't have great balance on flat ground, let alone on a roof. For some reason she decided she had to clean her gutters right then and there. It was late afternoon and beginning to get dark so ROM went over and helped her. I would have called 911 for her if she fell but I wouldn't get on a ladder for anyone. 

But he's just a nice guy, it's his nature.  So many people tell us how much they enjoy his holiday lights and it pleases him to make others happy. Me? I try to be a nice person but sometimes I just have too much fun being a bit twisted. Like after ROM gets all the lights up there's a part of me that wants to sit out in the yard and when cars slow down to look at the display gruffly yell "What in the hell are you looking at?!?" I laugh just thinking about it. 

See? I told you he was the nicer one...

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Little Paint, A Few Beads and a Couple Dogs...

I finally finished painting our holiday card featuring Isabella and Emmy and setting it up in my graphic program to be printed out on blank Strathmore watercolor cards. I'll then do some finishing touches and line work with ink on each card. And...
...add some beading. 

I need to bead and hand finish 13 cards for the neighbors. I won't bead the cards I mail because in the past beads were crushed when sent in envelopes with no padding. Maybe I'll just add some fine glitter to those.

And I will bake 13 loaves of applesauce walnut bread and whip up 13 small containers of honey butter a few days before Christmas to go with the neighbors cards. Oh, and print out the recipe.

And we still have lights to put up outside. We seem to get slower and slower every year. By the time we're 80 we'll have to start our Christmas preparations in July. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

And The Winner Is....

Remember the recipe for Applesauce Walnut Bread I posted here? It's very good but didn't taste like my old family recipe. I couldn't remember or find my original one but I was sure it called for brown sugar and used chunky applesauce  instead of the smooth kind. So I played with the recipe and came up with one I thought would be more like my original one. 

While the new recipe baked, Emmy helped me clean up the kitchen...

... while Isabella napped (she's such a lazy bitch).


ROM was my more than willing taste tester and the clear winner was recipe number 2! 


As good as the first recipe was, I recommend you go with the new and improved number 2. Or try both recipes and choose for yourself.  I couldn't think of a way to improve the honey butter recipe- it's perfect as is. 

#2 Applsauce Walnut Bread (Winner of taste test)

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg
1 cup chunky applesauce
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans if you'd prefer)


Directions
Preheat oven 350°F. Mix flour, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice in large bowl. Set aside.

Beat egg in medium bowl. Stir in applesauce, brown sugar, milk and oil. Add to flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Stir in 1/2 cup of the walnuts. Pour batter into 9x5-inch loaf pan sprayed with Pam. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup walnuts on top.


Bake 55 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan.

Walter and Bertha unpacked their suitcases and settled in for the holidays... 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

We Need A Little Christmas...

On one of his numerous trips to get more lights for his outside display, Real Old Man came home with a tiny Xmas tree to plug into my computer. It gradually changes colors from white, red, green, gold, and blue. Now seriously, how can I not be in the Christmas spirit with this wonderful man in my life? 





Saturday, December 3, 2016

Pumpkin Head Baby Jezzuz...

It's my intention to blog every day this month but this will be a brief one. We enjoyed the day at the annual Bradenton Blues Fest and I'm one tired old lady. So as I sit on my ass in front of the TV how about you visit one of my older blog posts... keeping in the holiday and decorating mode I present to you Pumpkin Head Baby Jessuz- click here

Friday, December 2, 2016

Getting My Ho Ho Ho On... A Christmas Tradition

Christmas sweets have been a part of our holiday tradition for as long as I can remember. Some of my best childhood memories are of my mom and grandma spending weeks baking cookies and holiday breads and making an assortment of fudges and candies. We were forbidden to touch any of it until Christmas Eve after all the platters of goodies were delivered to the neighbors and friends. By my early teens my mom had stopped exchanging holiday treats with our neighbors and the tradition seemed to die. 

One Christmas after I became an adult with my own home I got nostalgic and decided to revive the holiday tradition I had enjoyed so much as a child.  That Christmas Eve I had platters filled with cookies, fudge and candies for each of our neighbors... and they were delighted! Especially two older ladies who each lived alone. They said they no longer baked for the holidays since it was just them. I enjoyed it so much it became one of my Christmas traditions. Over the years I lived in different towns and neighborhoods, but I continued my new/old tradition and whoever happened to be my neighbor when the holidays rolled around got a platter of goodies on Christmas Eve. 

When we moved into this senior community I was surprised that none of my neighbors had continued this old tradition. The first year we were here my neighbors were surprised when we delivered our holiday goodies. I kept hearing "oh, you shouldn't have!" or "I feel terrible that I have nothing for you." And I assured each of them that I did this for me as a way to relive those long ago and much loved times with my mom and grandma. Some years I added handmade items like the cute little angels I sculpted and finished off with cloth skirts filled with Hershey kisses or fabric Christmas cards decorated with free stitched embroidery. But three years ago I stopped with the tradition of Christmas platters. And it's now time to revive it once again. 

Just the thought of baking dozens and dozens of cookies and stirring batch after batch of fudge and candies exhausts me. So I've decided to scale way back and will be only baking holiday applesauce walnut bread and whipping up spiced honey butter with the recipes printed on a card. 

As I'm writing this post I'm wondering how many of you have traditions from your childhood that you've continued in your adult life? If not, maybe this post will remind you of a long forgotten family tradition that you could bring back and make your own. 

Here is the front of the recipe card and the recipe printed on the inside. Feel free to take it and make it your own. It is set up to print on a 7" by 5" folded card. 





Thursday, December 1, 2016

I Shall Grab December By The Pussy...

... and make her my bitch!

Those of you who have read my blog the past few years know that December has been a struggle for me since my son's death. Last year I completely surrendered to it, like it was a penitence I was obligated to pay. But sadly I ruined the holidays for my Real Old Man. Y'all know how much my man loves the holidays... with his legendary outdoor light displays and festive underwear. Last year the lights were unstrung and the house remained dark. And there was no donning of his Christmas undies. 

Last month I began to feel the start of that now familiar downward spiral. I'm reminded that it's the appointed time for my misery to begin when we switch to standard time and the nights become long. The dreaded month of December is quickly approaching. But what if...

... I refused to indulge in wallowing in past memories and if onlys. Instead I could choose to put all my energy into creating new memories and cherishing what is. I could try my damnedest to make it a great Christmas for my Real Old Man. If not now, then when? Who knows how many more Christmases we will share together? 

I was reminded of that yesterday morning. A new couple had recently moved in a few houses down from us. They're only in their mid sixties, have a couple little dogs and seem happy. Tuesday night an ambulance was called and he was transported to the hospital. By Wednesday morning he was dead. They won't get another Christmas together.  So...

The decorating has started, the yearly original holiday card is being sketched and painted, recipes for yummy holiday treats have been pulled out and we watched our first Christmas show of the season together last night. I'm even digging the sappy holiday commercials. And I'm sure with enough cups of Bailey's coffee my ROM will model his festive underwear on Christmas Eve.

Here's a photo of the start of the decorating. Still a long way to go...



 

Yes, this December will be my bitch!