Friday, December 22, 2017

Truffles: Nothing but Trouble

And so last week I made some chocolate truffles.


I'd always heard that chocolate truffles were divine. I'd never had one. Oh, I've had (and made) bourbon balls, but never chocolate truffles. I looked at a lot of recipes and was rather shocked when none of them called for sugar.  What's with that?  Apparently truffles are supposed to be bitter.  So I found a recipe that looked pretty easy and I made up the truffly part and tasted it.

OMG! Can you say "HORRIBLE?"

Nope. I was not going to serve my guests that bitter mess. So I started adding some confectioners' sugar a little at a time. Of course, with all this sugar, the batter/filling/whatever got really stiff, so I'd have to add more cream. Then it would be too soupy,  and I'd have to add more sugar.  I went through at least 8 spoons testing these truffles. Dreadful each time.  The heck with that.  I dumped in all that was left in the bag (in all, about half a pound of the stuff).  Finally, with no more sugar available, I told Mr. L that I was going to let them firm up in the fridge and if they were dreadful, I'd dump them in the trash.

Well, he tested one and said it was okay.  I was going to have one the next day (because of calories--I mean, I had been constantly testing them) but then my cold went into overdrive and I couldn't taste a thing for five days.

I finally had one yesterday. OMG -- talk about good. But I will NEVER make them again.  And I can't even share the recipe when I don't know exactly how much cream and confectioners' sugar I put in there.

Next year, I'll just buy some truffles and save the headache.

(P.S.  After all that work, I forgot to offer the Truffles to my guests. )

Have you ever made something you had to rescue and then couldn't make it again?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Not so easy entertaining

It's been quite a long time since Mr. L and I entertained people other than family. We used to host a holiday party every year, but that kind of fizzled out. But last week we invited our neighbors for a get-together.

Wow. I'd forgotten how much work that can be. I had to CLEAN the house. The cleaning ladies came on Monday, but our guests arrived 4 days later. With cats, there's always a lot of crud. Puke. Litter. Yeah, they may be the only self-cleaning things in the house, but they make a lot of mess.  And Chester litters the house with the toys he "kills" several times a day. (Oy, those hunter victory cries can make your hair stand on end,)

I finally got to do some baking. I LOVE to bake, but seldom have anyone to bake for and if I did it would just be us eating the stuff and ... CALORIES. So I don't bake nearly as often as I would like. I decided to do two different cookies: chocolate truffles and chocolate chip cookies. I was going to make shortbread and cut-out cookies, too, but then ... I caught a cold. OH NO!  I've done nothing but wash my hands and slather myself in Purel for a week now.

The big night arrived and ... uh-oh, only three of the four arrived at our door.  Mr. H had a stomach bug, which was bad for him, and disappointing for us.

I bought two bags of holiday (red and green) M&Ms -- because, hey, M&Ms. And why not send her children back home all hyped up with sugar, right? (That's a joke.) But -- nobody touched them. Uh-oh. Somebody is going to have to eat them.  (Raising my hand for designated M&M eater.)

Of course, I made my mother's famous "pink" dip, which was a big hit. (She got the recipe out of the TV guide one December back in the early 1960s -- and the ad was sponsored by the Hallmark Hall of Fame TV show.) With the dip we had chips and carrots and celery (the latter two were intended for me, but the cold was getting worse and who wants to eat when they can't taste anything?).

One of the kids complained about a rocky stomach about a half hour in.  I left the room to get something and came back to hear, "And he's vomited six times."

OMG -- I felt so sorry for the kid, who had obviously caught the same bug as his Dad, but then I cringed in horror.  I was already in the throws of a bad cold. Would I get the bug, too?  (So far, so good.)
My neighbor took her youngest home just as the pizzas arrived, and we chowed down with her oldest son, who is a budding artist, so he and Mr. L had a lot to talk about. I showed him some of the paintings Mr. L has done, and he was impressed.

My neighbor came back and we had a good time talking for an hour or so, but then everybody seemed to be drooping. I'd been awake for about 18 hours, so I was definitely pooped. (One of these days I'm going to learn how to sleep through the night).

So our first foray into entertaining in years wasn't such a hit. The next day, the cold hit me even harder. I spent the entire weekend lying in the recliner like a beached whale. But at least I got a lot of editing done on YULE BE DEAD, the 5th Victoria Square novel, which will be out next December (2018).

So, will we be entertaining next year? I've got about 355 days to decide.

Have you had less than successful gatherings? Tell all!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Maybe you should skip this one next year ...

Every year Mr. L and I watch a DVD of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. I've seen it every year since I was 9. I can recite almost all the dialogue. And you know what? It's NOT a heartwarming tale. Not at all.

No sooner had Rudolph been born when his own father body shamed him. Even Santa put in his two cents, and that wouldn't be the last time. The body (or nose) shaming went on at the Reindeer Games. When they found out about Rudolph's "non-conformity," not only did the other yearlings laugh and tease Rudolph, but the adult coach (Comet) was the one to proclaim that "We won't let Rudolph play in any reindeer games." Even Santa gets in the act, telling Donner "You should be ashamed!" Ashamed because his son has a (so-called) birth defect?  Santa of all people???

Thinking he's found a friend in Clarice,  Rudolph is verbally accosted by her father, who says, "No doe of mine is going to be seen with a red-nosed reindeer." (I told you I knew all the dialogue.)

Nor is Rudolph the only character to be bullied. Hermie (or Herbie ... it seems like he's called both names) is mocked for aspiring to be a dentist, and is threatened with his job. ("Finish the job, or you're FIRED.")

Poor Rudolph and Hermie weren't even good enough for the Island of Misfit Toys.

The one redeeming character is Yukon Cornelius ("Ta-da! In person!") Although a bit of a blow-hard, he only has Rudolph's and Hermie's welfare at heart.

It isn't until Santa needs Rudolph to light the way on a stormy Christmas Eve that the residents of Christmastown decide to accept Rudolph for who he is. And the head elf decides he will allow Hermie to practice dentistry. (I hope Hermie pulled all that elf's teeth, too.) Of course, maybe Santa is so grumpy because Mrs. Claus feeds him such unappealing food.  (Even gray apples???)

Is this the kind of story children should be watching?

And don't get me started on the song "Baby It's Cold Outside," where the loutish host isn't listening when his woman guest tells him (more than once) "The answer is No!"

Despite the terrible story line, Mr. L and I did indeed watch Rudolph this week. But this time we watched it a la MST3K (Mystery Science Fiction Theater 3000). We made sarcastic remarks about the characters and how mean they were and found new joy in Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.  I highly recommend it.

What other holiday specials cause you to cringe?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Oh Christmas Tree!

Due to complicated circumstances, Mr. L and I took our Christmas tree down early last year. A LOT earlier than we normally do, so this year, I decided to put our tree up early so we could enjoy it longer. I started last Monday, but a week later and it's STILL not totally decorated.  (I like to take my time.)

It's always a joy to open the boxes of ornaments and decide what to put up. I say that because here it is five days later and we still haven't opened two of the (VERY LARGE) boxes and the tree is just about full. (How did that happen?) I thought I might share a few of them with you.

I recently wrote the 4th installment of the Life On Victoria Square series, It's Tutu Much, which revolves around a dance studio on Victoria Square.

My mother collected a bunch of ballerinas to put on or under her Christmas tree. These two beauties were under the tree for at least a decade. I think my mother liked them because my niece was a dancer. In fact, she danced right through high school, when a lot of other girls might have made fun of her (I know when I was in high school the bullies taunted the girls who still went for tap and ballet).

I wasn't a dancer. I loved to dance, but I remember at age 4 being forced to go to dance school and some of the other (younger) girls just didn't pay attention to the teacher who instructed us to dance to "I'm a Little Eskimo." I clearly remember telling my father, "That's just stupid and I won't do it." They took me to the recital and said, "Don't you wish you'd stuck with it?" and I said in no uncertain terms, "NO!"

Still, I now wish I had stuck with it. (Perhaps it was because I so love the book Step Ball Change by Jeanne Ray, a story about a woman with a dance studio--and how her daughter's engagement changed the entire family.) And did I mention how much I love to watch videos of people tap dancing?

And I have a "tutu" story about one of my Mum's ornaments, too.  She bought this little angel (right) at a yard sale. But, OH!, she was nekked!  My Mum thought that just wasn't right, so she took a bit of netting and made her a tutu.  Isn't she just adorable?  I know she was one of my Mum's favorites, even though she cost less than a buck. I wish my Mum could have read my story, It's Tutu Much (which will be available on January 2nd).

I don't have a lot of ornaments that remind me of my books, but since I started writing the Lotus Bay Mysteries, I've been looking for swans.  I found two, and they now don my tree.  One is sort of a stained-glass ornament, and the other is a carved wooden (white) swan. I love them both, and they remind me of my short story, Christmas at Swans Nest (set on Lotus Bay). If you haven't read the "series," but you like Christmas, you can read this and it will stand alone.

I've got lots of other cool ornaments, like this little white flat cat I got at a yard sale. It was painted onto a stone. Wow--I wish I had that kind of talent. How did someone see that there was a cat that could emerge from a piece of slate? Cool, huh?

And then there's the flying cat angel. I had never seen anything like it when my Mum and I went to a gift shop in Brockport, NY one cold November weekend. They were (maybe still are) famous for offering their customers home-baked cookies and punch on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (what's now known as Small Business Saturday). I remember
my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I looked at the price tag--TWENTY-FIVE BUCKS--but my mother said, "If you'd like it, I will buy it for you." I initially balked at the price tag, but then remembered what my friend Judy told me years before. "If your mother wants to buy you something, LET HER. Because (and Judy learned this through bitter experience) one day she won't be there." And now my Mum is gone, and I'm so glad I let her buy that little kitty for me because it's now one of my most treasured Christmas tree ornaments.Years later, I saw knockoffs in plastic for less than $5. But mine still has the original tag on it and is not only signed by the artist, but is so much prettier than any knock off.

These are just a few of the ornaments on my tree. You can see many more on a Youtube video I made. Just click this link.

Have you got a special ornament that comes with a story? If so, please feel free to share it in the comments below.

Friday, December 1, 2017

What's your pie pleasure?

It's National Pie Day! I'll bet there're three or four on offer everyday at Booked for Lunch. What's your favorite pie? (Mine is actually turkey pot pie. It has a crust--it qualifies!)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Stay home and read

Happy Black Friday, everyone. Today on The Cozy Chicks blog I'm talking about Black Friday and why I don't participate. What I will be doing later today is starting to read the holiday magazines that have been coming to my house since the end of September. YES, SEPTEMBER. Hey, I didn't want to read about Christmas before Columbus Day. (Or, rather, Canadian Thanksgiving.) So I saved them all up. Now I'm ready to start looking at them.

What are you doing today?  Shopping or something else?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Keep your hands warm!

Happy National Red Mittens Day! Red mittens will keep your hands warm on a snowy day! (Whew! Not supposed to snow here today, though!) Do you wear mittens or gloves?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Where's my pretty cover?

My publisher, Berkley, is teasing readers of the Booktown Mysteries by not showing the cover for #12 in the series, POISONED PAGES, on the websites of popular book retailers. The color of the title and author name is right, but where's the picture?

It turns out -- there was some kind of glitch, but still -- what's with that? What's the book about?

Tricia Miles, mystery bookstore owner and amateur sleuth, throws a housewarming cocktail party in her new apartment and has cooked all the food by herself--quite a feat for someone who previously couldn't boil water. Then one of her guests is poisoned and dies. Tricia's left to wonder if her cooking is to blame or if there's something much more sinister at play. Either way, Tricia's once again in hot water with her ex-lover, Chief Baker. Meanwhile the charming town of Stoneham is being disrupted by a vandalism crime wave. It's the hot topic in the race for Chamber of Commerce president which sees Tricia pitted against two bitter rivals. With all that's going on can she find the killer before she's the next item on the menu?

 You can't see the very pretty cover on those sites, but you CAN see it on my website. Click this link for a sneak preview.

To Pre-order, click the links below. 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | Chapters/Indigo
Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Don't miss A Very Country Christmas

I'm absolutely thrilled for my friend and fellow member Karen Rose Smith. A movie of one of her books, A VERY COUNTRY CHRISTMAS, will be shown on Sunday. Watch the trailer first, and don't miss the movie on the UP network on Sunday night!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lotsa love on Teacup Tuesday

Well, not much more I can add except ... what would go well with that wonderful cup of tea? How about a nice slice of pumpkin bread (with walnuts).  What would you like with your nice cuppa tea?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Maybe I'm not cut out for the simple life

How big is your To Be Read pile? I buy a lot of books and sometimes it's years before I get to read them. I bought a book at Barnes & Noble a while back ... it must have been QUITE a while back, because I though, "Wow -- I've never seen this book before IN MY LIFE." But I must have, because I always put the price sticker on the back of the dust jacket flap. Because my job is writing fiction,  read a lot of non-fiction.

The book?  Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James.

There are a lot of good ideas in this little book. Things like pay off your mortgage. (Yeah, that's an easy one.) Get out of debt. (Another easy one.) Buy in bulk. Works great for families, not so good for two people--especially if you follow her suggestion to move to a smaller house. I don't have enough closet space now? Where would I put my stuff if I moved to a smaller house? She's got the answer for that, too ... get rid of all your stuff.

Get rid of my stuff? Are you crazy?

Mind you, my Mum was a bit of a pack rat, and I don't have nearly as much stuff as she accumulated. Still, I've got a lot of stuff. I like my stuff and I have tried parting with it. But then I get more stuff.

I have this problem "rescuing" stuff at yard sales. Lots of times I find homes for the stuff. (Like teacups, teapots, etc.) Other stuff...not so easy.  Earlier this summer, I posted on my Facebook Group (Lorraine's Perpetual Tea Party) some little vintage cookbooklets I got at a yard sale; did readers think it was a good giveaway. YES!  So, every time I saw one at a yard sale, I bought it. We're in week three of the giveaway and it hasn't been as successful as I would have liked. (The contest is over for this week, but join the page and enter next week's drawing!)

Back to the book.

Another helpful hint: turn off the TV.  Too late. I did that back in 2003. Don't ask me if I've seen Game of Thrones, Outlander, or the Walking Dead. The last TV show I regularly watched was Fraiser. I do watch TV shows on Youtube. (well, I have it on; I'm usually doing other stuff). I think I saw about 40 gastric bypass surgeries over the summer watching Fat Doctor. (Fascinating stories.) I've seen just about every Gordon Ramsey show he's ever made (I like the Brit versions better), and watch a lot of tutorials. But network (and cable) TV. Nope.

Ms. St. James also suggests you get rid of your houseplants. WHAT? Just when my thumb has started to turn green? Listen, honey, if the plant still has life in it, I'm keeping it. Three of my late mother's violets are blooming right this minute and I can't tell you how much pleasure they give me. Nope. Not tossing them.

So, I guess the thing is that ... right now, I'm not ready to simplify my life.

How about you?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Time for a little comfort

It's that time of year ... Soup Time.

When the weather turns colder, is there anything more comforting than a nice, hot bowl of soup. (Don't answer right now) A few years ago, I made my very first turkey vegetable soup. It wasn't very good. But I made a huge vat so I had a LOT of servings, which I froze. Then I discovered that eating soup for lunch made it possible to lose a couple of pounds. Yes, soup is good food.

So I started making soup on a regular basis. I'd save the chicken carcasses and make chicken soup, but some of the bones on a chicken are really small and no matter how much I sieved it, and picked through the remains, a few little bones got through. Mr. L will NOT eat my chicken soup, so I quit saving the carcasses and, after a reader's suggestion, started buying turkey parts to make soup. Turkey's have much bigger bones, and seldom does one get through. (But Mr. L still won't eat my turkey soup. Go figure! Ah, well. More for me!)

I also make a lot of 16 (or 15--depending on the package) bean soup. Before the end of summer, I visit my favorite Mennonite grocery store and stock up on ham hocks. The ones in my regular store are not only overly smoked, but virtually have no meat on them. The ones from the Mennonite store are a little more money, but man--what a great bean soup they make. (I have 6 hocks in the freezer. That's about enough for 60 bowls of soup! Yum-Yum!)

The other day I made one of my favorite soups: Cabbage Soup. This soup has virtually NO calories, and there's a reason it's got a reputation as a weight-loss diet in and of itself. The thing is, it tastes pretty darn good, too.

Cabbage Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 quarts water  
4 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
½ head cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped Cabbage
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, drained and diced
4 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar (optional)

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic; cook until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Stir in water, bouillon, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then stir in cabbage. Simmer until cabbage wilts, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and the vinegar. Return to a boil, then simmer 15 to 30 minutes, stirring often.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Okay, now spill it. What's your favorite comfort food?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I may have a few too many cookbooks

I'm a fiction writer. And when I'm working on a book, I find it hard to read fiction so I rely on non-fiction or tried- and-true novels that I've read half a million times. (I can practically recite some of them.)

I love yard sales. During the summer, I go to them every week, and it's kind of rare that during those weekly forays that I don't buy a cookbook.  Only ... that can end up being a LOT of cookbooks. In fact, my office is literally littered with them. As I type this, there are 19 cookbooks surrounding my desk, but I've got more sitting in my porch. I've done through every one of them at least once and ALL of them have tabs sticking out of them to mark recipes I'd like to try.

I don't think there are enough days in the year for me to attempt making all these recipes. Betty Crocker's Best of Baking has 9 tabs sticking out of it. It's such a great comprehensive baking book (especially their section on making bread, which fascinates and terrifies me (I had a bad yeast experience with a homemade pizza some years back)), that I know that one's a keeper.

I have good intentions and I do sometimes give them away (Hi Amy and Pam!). I also collect vintage cookbooklets and this summer was a bumper year for them. Today I'm starting a giveaway on my Facebook group and it'll continue until their gone (although there may be a hiatus for the holidays).

Body Building Dishes for Children. Now there's a title. They're talking food, but I keep picturing little kids lifting weights.

I usually pick cookbooks that have beautiful photography (and those vintage cookbooklets don't come under that category. They were made in an age when food styling was in its infancy, and color photos were muddy and unappealing.

I'm going to have to part with some of these cookbooks. If my readers don't want them, then it'll be the library sale. But parting with them is going to be hard. I still have a pile of about 15 of my mothers cookbooks that I haven't gone through yet. (Although I did start to read one on bread and soup. I love to make soup, so that one might have to stay.)

I buy cookbooks on all topics. Here are a few of the titles

The Classic 1000 Vegetarian Recipes. If I didn't like pork and chicken so much, I would be a vegetarian. (If I had to kill animals to eat them, I would definitely be a vegetarian)./What a great comprehensive cookbook. (Another keeper.) It's a shame there are only used copies available because anyone who truly loves vegetables would love this book.

Treasury of Christmas. I'm a sucker for holiday books, and have at least 20+ of them that I drag out during November and December--just to get in the holiday spirit. I haven't decided if this is a keeper, but it's a very nice book.

Betty Crocker's NEW Good and Easy Cookbook is definitely not new, because the very week after I bought this edition, I found an even NEWER (like 20 years newer) edition. The new one is very nice and is pretty much up-to-date with beautiful photography and the kinds of recipes you see today, but there's a lot more charm in the old one. If I had to keep one of them, it would definitely be the one pictured above.

Great American Cooking Schools Omelettes & Souffles This is a charming little cookbook and I love omelettes, but souffles...not so much. I'm thinking it deserves a home where it will be cherished and used.

I must have at least 10 or more books on Hors d'Oeuvres & Appetizers. Do I really need another one, even if it is from Williams-Sonoma and have gorgeous photography?  Hmmm.

I could go on and on ...
Slow Cooker Recipe Collection
The Taste of Home New Potluck
Better Homes and Gardens Annual Recipes 2013
Christmas with Southern Living Cookbook Volume 2
Crazy About Cookies
Simple, Fresh & Healthy
Party Food ... and on and on and on ...

Those are just a few. Do any of these titles make you want to read them?

P.S. If you want to see what I got the entire summer, check out my Yard Sale Pinterest page!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Violets on my teacup

Happy Teacup Tuesday! My cup is filled with English Breakfast tea. What's in your cup?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Big is better


I stopped at a roadside stand selling tomatoes and picked the one that looked the prettiest and dumped them in a bag. I didn't notice until I got home that there was Mr. Gigunda tomato in there.

The little one weighs 5 ounces. The big boy is more than a pound. (And that's a full size (10") dinner plate they're sitting on.) I bet I could make tomato soup for four out of that big boy.

What would you make with it?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Cut-out Cookie Season begins!

It's getting to be cut-out cookie season. Think about it. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and all the events that happen in December (Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa). 


Monday, October 16, 2017

Don't be SAD

A few years ago, a friend of mine told me she suffered from SAD. That's Seasonal Affective Disorder. My first reaction was ... Yeah, right.

Honestly, how can someone become light deprived?

Well, I thought it was totally ridiculous ... until it happened to me. As the days began getting shorter, I started becoming really depressed. This had never happened before. I asked my doctor (who has a SAD light in her office) about it, and she suggested I get a lamp. She told me to get one that has 10,000 Lux therapy lamp. She didn't promise a miracle cure, but said it would help.

She was right.

I've had my lamp for about 10 days now and I sit in front of it (while working on the computer) for about an hour a day. Half hour first thing in the morning, and half an hour after lunch. It's bright. Holy smoke is it bright. But the lamp I chose has two settings.  White light (that's the 10,000 Lux setting) and blue light (5,000 Lux). I must admit, the blue light is easier on the eyes if you're sensitive, but the white light gives you more ... whatever it is it's supposed to be doing for you. (Vitamin D?)

The results: I'm not quite as depressed. (The fact that I was in deadline hell might have been a BIG part of that. I finished the book and am feeling pretty happy about it.)  But the best thing that happened? I'm actually sleeping better.

I've been averaging 4 hours of sleep a night, which is not enough. (It gives me lots of time to read during the night, but doesn't make Lorraine a happy girl.) Since I've been using my lamp, I've been getting at least 6 hours of sleep a night. Still not where I'd like to be, but better.

I bought a PureGuardian 10,000 LUX Full Spectrum Energy Light with Customizable Blue or White Light Therapy Intensity, Timer, Pure Guardian SPA50CA (directly copied from Amazon). Besides the white and blue light, it has different timer settings for 5, 20, and 30 minutes and then switches off. I like that. Sometimes I can't sit for a full 30 minutes.  (I gotta get my tea refills, you know.) So I like to be able to add a 5 minute pop of extra light if I need it.

It's going to be a long dark winter here in Western NY. As the days get shorter, I'll be able to tell if this things has more benefits than what I've already seen.

Any other tips for SAD?

Friday, October 13, 2017

A vast improvement

Back in May, I wrote about how my thumb had stopped working. My GP (or whatever they're called these days) said (without looking at it) that I had arthritis. My gut feeling told me she was wrong. (And she was.)  A couple of readers suggested my sore thumb might be suffering from something called De Quervain's disease, but that didn't seem quite right (as I looked up the symptoms), either.

All I know is that my hand was in total agony for about 12-13 hours a day. I'm pretty sure it became inflamed because I'm on the computer most of the day and use the mouse a lot, especially when I do graphics. My thumb would get stuck in one position and I would literally scream when moving it back into a more comfortable place. (Mr. L's hair would stand on end when that happened.)

I finally went back to the GP a few weeks back and she referred me to a hand surgeon. (After telling me for a SECOND TIME that it was "only arthritis." HA!)

SURGEON??????? Holy crap.

But I was desperate, so I booked an appointment.

And then a funny thing happened.  Ten days before the appointment, my thumb started working again. Not all the time, but I could bend it back-and-forth for as long as half an hour every few hours and it didn't get stuck in the painful position anymore. YAY.  I could cancel my appointment with the hand surgeon.

Except I didn't. I wondered, what if it gets bad again?  I'd better go.

And I did.  He barely looked at my hand before saying, "Trigger Thumb." Next thing I know, I'm getting a cortisone shot and out the door I go.

He told me that if you have to have something bad happen to your hand, trigger thumb (and I assume finger) is the easiest thing to fix. Even if the cortisone shot doesn't work, out-patient (as in his office) surgery can fix it with a few snips--good as new and it would never happen again.

According to him, the cortisone shot would take 5-7 days to work, and that it may or may not be a long-term fix. But I'm telling you, even if it was only the placebo effect, my thumb was already back to 90% after only two days. Holy crap! It's like a miracle! Okay, a week later it's still not 100% -- but I'll take 90% better.

Of course, my health insurance has a high deductible, so it cost me $202 to get my thumb fixed. The best $200 I ever spent. I sure wish I'd insisted on having someone (with actual hand knowledge) look at it sooner. I could have saved myself an entire summer of pain. But it's working now and I'm a happy camper.

Have you ever had an experience like that?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Public Service Announcement

So what if the Stoneham, NH Chamber of Commerce decided to do a public service announcement to entice you to the village?

Take a look.


So, would you like to visit Booktown?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Teacup Tuesday: 9-26-17

Happy Teacup Tuesday. Love this Stafforshire bone china cup that was part of a grocery store giveaway years ago. I've got four of these, plus matching plates and a sugar and creamer, plus I've got several set aside for future giveaways.

What's your cup today?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Me? Carve?

My Dad did a lot of crafty stuff. He framed houses, fixed plumbing, put on roofs, did just about any home repair you could think of--and always on a budget. But he also made jewelry, fixed watches and clocks, and he carved. When he passed away almost eight years ago, I had the task of clearing out his workshop, and I was rather surprised at how many carvings were left unfinished. The ones below are some of them. Before my mother passed, I had found a box of "hounds" that were finished except for painting. He had one or two done, so I was able to figure out how to "finish" them off.

The box above held the rest. Or rather, I found them squirreled away all over his workshop and put them in this box. And I decided that painting them would be a nice summer job. Except ... they sat there for a year and nothing happened. I'm a busy person! But earlier this summer I thought I might like to take a crack at them.  The first thing I did was buy some acrylic paint and a yard sale that featured a LOT of craft items (including a bunch of rubber stamps, which I've been happily using all summer). But -- here we are on the first day of summer and I haven't done much more than photograph them for this post. (I did buy some paint brushes, so it's not like I'm not thinking about them.)

Aren't these snowmen cute? Or at least the finished one. But I suspect that  Dad didn't paint the finished one. He had two carving buddies that he met at a class he took at continuing education here in our town. After the last was over, they met at each other's houses. There was Estreter (I spelled that phonically--because I don't know how she actually spelled her name. She may have been Belgium (or maybe from one of the slavic states) and John.

My Dad was in charge of making the blanks, and Estreter was a wiz at painting. Dad's first carvings were rather drab, but once Estreter started pointing out painting techniques, my Dad picked up on it fast. But at least this gives me a guide as to how I should approach painting the one on the left.

 By the look of these bears, I can deduce that once Dad was happy with the carving and the sanding, he put a base coat of white acrylic paint on each carving. I think I have two bottles of white, and it looks like I'm going to need them.  The brown stuff on the bear is saw dust. Wow--that basement was full of saw dust, and so is the box that holds all the carvings. It makes me want to sneeze when I get near it. I will have to haul my compressor outside so that I can blow all the dust off each piece before I paint it.  Although quite a few of the carvings look like they could use a bit more sanding.  Where's my sandpaper?

As I said, Dad made the blanks. On the right is a finished angel blowing a horn, and the rough cut for the blank. I probably won't do anything with it because A) I am afraid of knives, and B) I don't think I would have any carving talent. Just thought you might like to see how they start out and how they were finished. (He would put brown shoe polish on the finished product to give it some "texturing.")

The top hound above is a blank, and the hound below just needs a little more sanding before it can be painted.  Sanding I can do.

This guy is holding up a canoe. What's with that? The little slab of wood he's standing on? My folks had cedar bushes/trees (whatever) at the side of their yard and one got cut down. Dad chopped it into slices and quite a few of his carving stand on them.  (Smells nice before the polyurethane goes on.)

You can see how the bear on the right is pretty much finished, but the one on the left is pretty crude. Dad added the mittened paws and skates, gluing them on. I don't have either, so I can paint the right one, but the left one will never be finished.  : (

These guys (and puppy) are all ready to be painted. Wish me luck!

These guys are interesting. This is the front side.

... turn them upside down and this is the back side. I'm not going to paint them. I don't think I could pull it off and perhaps they weren't meant to be painted anyway.

This bearded guy (Santa?) is from the earliest days my Dad carved. I know because he always dated his carvings, although this one isn't dated--I already have several finished ones that are. I think he'd be happy to join his brothers in one of my curio cabinets.

I think my Dad would be happy to know that I'm going to (at least) try to finish off some of his carvings. I'll never be able to paint them as well as he could, but ... I'm sure going to try.

And my Dad's carving are what inspired me to write the first Life On Victoria Square story, CARVING OUT A PATH. I wrote about it earlier this year. (Click this link.)  I wish my Dad could have read it. I think he might have enjoyed it.  (For more information on that, click this link.)

Do you have some craft projects you want to finish up?