Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Pioneer Woman's New Photo Contest

Check out The Pioneer Woman's latest photo contest. The theme is green. Here are some of the "green" photos I pulled out of my archives. Not sure which ones to submit.

Which are your favourites, on the theme of green?

1. Gift bag

Number 2. Drops of Water

3. Columbine
4. Lily-of-the-valley
5. Strange Alien Plant (yes, that's the official name for it, from the Latin Plantus Alienus)

6. Hope springs eternal

7. Lady's mantle
8. Kathy Down The Road's hedge (I don't know what this is, but it's pretty. Like KDTR)

9. A Kid'll Eat Ivy too, wouldn't you?

10. Hosta La Vista, baby
11. Tulips are better than wan

12. A handcrafted dishcloth just makes doing the dishes more fun. Not.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Novel Woman waits impatiently for spring.

Does she knit? Does she peruse seed catalogues? Does she clean closets and air bed linens in a dizzying display of domestic fortitude and industriousness? Does she talk about herself in third person?

She makes granola. Healthy, crunchy, make-like-a-hippie-and-macrame-me-a-plant-holder granola. And you know why?

Just as sure as the tulips bud, the sap runs, and hope not only springs eternal but manages a few backflips because we've made it through another Canadian winter, that damn Mother Nature always pitches a fit and tells us, hey not so fast buster, I ain't through with you yet. It's going down to minus 13C tonight. Mother Nature has PMS and is making us all suffer.

And that's when I turn to comfort food. (Not the only time, but one of them. And in months with vowels in them.)

One of my staples is granola.

I've made granola since my student days. Like a lot of old recipes, that one called for a lot of brown sugar and oil (and inexplicably, skim milk powder) but now I make it this way. I have it every morning with milk or yogurt. It helps me get through the day when I wake up to snow covered tulips.

Keep Hope Alive Granola

4-5 cups regular rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup raw, unprocessed bran flakes (not the cereal, the light fluffy stuff)
1/2 cup natural wheat germ
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 TBSP oil (like canola)
1 tsp pure vanilla*
1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)
1 cup whole raw almonds, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional, but I like it)
1 cup dried fruits - I used a mixture of dried apricots, cherries, blueberries, & raisins

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine oats, bran and wheat germ on a large cookie sheet or in a deep baking dish (I use my roasting pan because when I stir it, it doesn't end up all over my counter top. Experience may be a cruel master but it's also a smart little bugger. Listen to it.)

In a microwavable measuring cup mix maple syrup, oil, vanilla and almond extract. Heat about 30 seconds on high to warm it, then stir it into the oat mixture and mix well.

Bake for 10 minutes. Stir. Bake another 10 minutes and stir again. Mix in almonds and coconut and bake for another 10 minutes or until the mixture is golden brown. Remove and mix in the dried fruits.

Cool and put it in an airtight container. It's good for a month but it lasts less than a week in our house. Serve it with other cereals, or yogurt, even ice cream.

* The vanilla I have come to lurve more than my dog (almost) (depends on the day) is Sonoma Syrup Co. blend Pure Vanilla Extract Madagascar Bourbon & Tahitian Vanilla. I want to bathe in it. I bought one precious bottle at TJ Maxx in the U.S. and had I known how good it was I would have bought more. Luckily, I have since found it online. It's the most amazing vanilla you'll ever taste. Usually vanilla extract smells more like alcohol than vanilla, but this one is rich and sweet and just makes me want to hug myself.

Go forth and toast your oats!

Monday, March 22, 2010

For the cat lovers

And those who love cowboys, comes this:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Knitting the Light Fantastic

I'm midway through this project, feeling pretty chuffed about it as the colours put me in mind of Easter which is my target date for finishing the thing. And this yarn is special. I scooped the last three handspun, hand-dyed skeins on eBay. So it's special stuff. I can't just run down to the wool shop and get more. It's a limited edition, one might say.

Are you picking up on the subtle foreshadowing here?

I set it aside on the dining room table to "keep it safe" between sessions. And it should have been safe because my cats know they are not allowed on the table. Never, ever. In theory.

Along came This:
And This, well, This Boris just doesn't believe in rules. Rules are for other cats, oh, and the dog who is too stupid to live, and perhaps small humans.

Unfortunately Boris is also a consummate glutton saddled with the constitution of a weak old woman, a crotchety binge-eater who can't make the connection between his behavior and natural consequences. If one eats a partly rotted mouse, it will reappear on the front hall carpet. If one insists on eating an entire bird - feathers, beak and feet included - it will end up as a sort of sparrow tartar mounded on the front step like some grotesque art piece. But the dots are never connected in his tiny cat brain.

Because Boris also refuses to abide by any of the rules of the house, he not only gorged himself on a new food, a particularly pungent mixture which contains a lot of fish and fish oils designed to give him the shiny coat of a kitten, but he then climbed on the dining room table in order to digest it from a better vantage point. Unfortunately, he made himself comfortable on my unfinished scarf, and moments later, gacked up his entire fishy breakfast all over it. In the process, which involves simultaneous spewing and backing up as though the vomiting is something he can escape from, he managed to hit not only the scarf in progress, but also the giant ball of yarn, soaking both with fishy chunks and gooey strings of saliva. Ever tried cleaning a fat, fuzzy ball of yarn?

The question remains, do I wipe it off as best I can and keep on knitting then give it a thorough wash after I'm finished, or do I strangle the cat and call it a day?

Happy thoughts, happy thoughts. Spring is coming. Happy thoughts.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The end of publishing?

I think not. Thanks to one of my books and writers forum friends, I bring you this:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More Photoshop: Orange You Glad You Looked?

And I thought Photoshop was just for removing dust spots. (While you're watching, just close the annoying ad at the bottom of the video. Why do advertisers think these work?)

It's crazy, what she does digitally, with, well, her digits.

And you won't believe what she does to poor Mr. Bean. He ends up looking like a Fox news anchor. Photoshop should be used responsibly, people!

I prefer Mr. Bean as is, thanks!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Photo Play

I still don't have Photoshop installed on my laptop. Long story short, I bought CS3 for my Dell then got a MacBook for Christmas before I even got the thing out of its package. When I went to exchange it for the Mac version, they'd already moved on to CS4 and wouldn't accept it.

Anyway, until I do get it sorted out, I occasionally want to manipulate some of my photos beyond what my basic iPhoto application can do. While casting about for alternatives, I found this site, called Tuxpi Picture Editor.

All you do is upload your photo, and then choose from a variety of frames or cool effects like Wall Painting or Kaleidoscope or Pencil Sketch. There are 42 in all. Go to Tuxpi.com if you want to give it a try and send a link if you post your photos.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Every Academy Award Winning Movie Ever Made

And here is the trailer via Time.com, in reality a cracked.com video produced by Britanick. ("Two guys wasting their degrees.")

Inspired by movies like Good Will Hunting, Rainman, The Shawshank Redemption, Forest Gump and A Beautiful Mind, this is the movie trailer to end all movie trailers. If you like movies or you write fiction or screenplays, you will get a kick out of this. It takes every movie cliché and smacks it firmly on the bum.

Have a great weekend. I'm going to watch BRIGHT STAR tonight. Yup. A movie by a feminist director about 19thC poet John Keats and his romance with Fanny Brawe.

Doug, on the other hand, rented 2012.

It's why we have two TVs.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Cat Photos

Ree Drummond AKA The Pioneer Woman is having another photo contest, this time for cat portraits. Bush Babe posted a couple and wondered if anyone else did too. Here are a few I sent in.

This is Kenzie, the little cat who showed up under our cottage porch during a thunderstorm last summer. She was a delight from the moment we met, but with two cats and a dog at home (to say nothing of my husband's reaction) there was no way we could keep her. Eventually she found a home with a woman in my town via the owner of the pet food shop I frequent. Oddly enough, Kenzie's new owner and I had met once before, some 10 years ago on a plane from London, and although we only chatted briefly about lost luggage we both remembered the other. By all accounts, she and Kenzie are now "soul mates" and I couldn't be happier.

Boris in the snow, with a typical Boris Face. A bit like Bucky the cartoon cat, no?

Kicia, about a third of the size of Boris, but ten times as fearless.

Boris is just yawning.

The end.
PS Here is Olivia, my sister's cat. Happy now?

Two Delightfully Ribald Videos

The first one cracked me up, if you'll pardon the pun.

It comes from Sweden.

If this is what passes for entertainment there, I want to move to Sweden.

It could be titled Creative Alternatives for Swedish Crispbreads.

The second one is Irish writer, stand-up comic, director, video star and soon to be BBC TV star Brendan O'Carroll performing as Mrs. Brown. He's written seven plays, five novels and two screenplays but this Mrs. Brown character will be his legacy. Look out Dame Edna.

This is not safe for work, or little ears, or for those easily offended by profanity or old ladies talking about their sex lives. I, on the other hand, laughed my patootie off. (Sheeyah, I wish.)

Thanks Cindyloo Who, for sending these my way!

Monday, March 8, 2010

South Park Comes to Cottage Country

My husband never throws anything out. He still has his high school band shirt, in bright orange nylon, long underwear from the 70s when he used to cross-country ski, and this jacket. It's down-filled, very warm and there's "nothing wrong with it" according to him. At first glance, I might agree:

But take a look at it in profile:

Remind you of anyone?

I'm lucky I got a few shots in focus. I was laughing so hard I couldn't keep the camera steady.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Panopticon

Panopticon: a circular prison with cells arranged around a central well, from which prisoners could at all times be observed.

Also, this guy. Read about what happens when he has the audacity to knit in full view of passengers. His post gave me the giggles.

This Too Shall Pass

A little something to send you on your merry little way this weekend. It's supposed to go up to 10C on Saturday, with sunshine. Oh, be still my heart. Can you see me skipping from where you are in the world? I'm hugging my pale little self. It means SPRING IS ALMOST HERE. The cardinals are singing their come hither songs, there are green patches in the snow, and my friend said she heard a robin. A robin. When I hear the Canada geese returning, then I'll know for sure.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Granny O'Grimm is going to the Oscars

Thanks to kc dyer, I discovered this Oscar nominated, animated short called Granny O'Grimm. (Are you watching the Oscars this Sunday? I'm a bit 'meh' about them this year, having seen very few of the films. Call me crazy, but I'm not willing to use our infrequent date nights for an evening of watching body parts blown to bits in THE HURT LOCKER or baseball bats to the head in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, as a fer instance. But of course I'll watch the Oscars with a Scotch in hand.)

From Granny's website:

We all know the Grimm fairytales. Granny's are grimmer...

Once upon a time there was a granny who dreamed of being the best granny in the whole world. Unfortunately, this granny was tormented by a lifetime of rage against the world and everyone in it. Luckily, nobody noticed what an angry old woman she had become because they took no notice of her one way or another. But there's only so much anger one old woman can repress before it BURSTS OUT FROM THE DEPTHS OF HER SOUL IN A SCREAMING FIREBALL OF BITTERNESS AND RESENTMENT!

Apparently Granny O'Grimm will be an animated series in 3D and 2D. Be still my heart.

Just stop what you're doing and have a look HERE. (Go to the bottom of the page and double click "The Film".) It's brilliant and it'll be the best five minutes you spend today, I guarantee it especially if you know a granny who is less sugar and spice and more sour daiquiri. I had one grandmother we called The Nana Who Never Said No, and another we called The Nana Who Spanks Us But Only When We Deserve It. That Nana gave my middle sister a whoopin' when she climbed up on a chair and picked off all the browned tips of a lemon meringue pie. I fully supported the whoopin', btw; those brown bits are the best part. As nice as the other Nana was, it was tradition to gently ram her with the car and back her into the garage wall like a frightened deer glaring into the headlights each time we left her home after Sunday dinner, but that's another story for another day.

See what Granny has to say about her Oscar nomination HERE.

The other nominees in the short animation category are:

French Roast by Fabrice O. Joubert (just the trailer):

Logorama by Nicholas Schmerkin HERE (just a snippet but I'm not blown away):

Another Wallace and Gromit by Nick Park, this time in A Matter of Loaf and Death (trailer only, and while I love Nick Park, I mean love him, to me this is the same old, same old):

And The Lady and the Reaper by Javier Recio Gracia. Very, very dark humour and a biting commentary on death and the heroic efforts we go to to preserve life. Can't say I cared for it, but if you want to see for yourself, the full short is HERE:

Take it from me. Granny O'Grimm is the best by a mile.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Retro Fashion 101

My sweet nephew, now an adult, dug up this photo of me. In my defense, it was during the 80s. My best years coincided with what was probably the worst time in history for fashion (next to the 70s) and I still harbor a grudge.

What was I thinking?

I don't know what's worse, the giant red glasses, or the fact that I thought that "fashionable" meant a nice silk scarf worn over a sweater featuring a rabbit and a raccoon. God only knows what was featured on the back. A giant squirrel?
The really, really sad part? My kitchen still looks exactly the same.

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Those Olympic Victory Bouquets

You know those beautiful, vivid green bouquets handed out to the winners? The 1800 bouquets from the games came from a Surrey B.C. flower shop and were assembled by marginalized women who are recovering addicts, former victims of violence or sex trade workers. It's part of a program called Just Beginnings, and more than 2 dozen women a day worked on producing the 150 bouquets needed for the Olympics.

The flowers are all organically grown, locally sourced as much as possible, and wrapped with environmentally friendly materials.

No pussy willows (you could take an eye out if tossed in the crowds) or cedar branches (allergies) but green hypericum berries and spider mums backed with leatherleaf fern, aspidistra leaves and loops of monkey grass. Aren't they gorgeous? I wondered about them during the Olympics and now, thanks to KNITTING ON IMPULSE, I know the story.

Read more HERE

Does anyone else besides me have Post Olympic Letdown?


Monday, March 1, 2010

Go Canada!

Permit me a wee bit of pride in my country. We Canadians hardly ever boast. We are a quiet, humble nation.

Until we get a hockey stick in our hands.

Or a beer in our bellies.

Or we totally rock the Winter Olympics!

Despite the fact that I thought the closing ceremonies were not very good (loved Catriona spoofing the failed hydraulics, and loved Neil Diamond, and Michael Buble, but come on, floating beavers and moose and women dressed like Mountie strippers?!) I loved the energy of the whole Olympic experience. This is so unlike Canada. We never wave flags or get carried away like this.

It feels good.

And this is what Bill Shatner tried to do last night: