Sunday, December 28, 2008

Post Christmas Slump

I think I'm in the post Christmas slump. All I want to do is sleep. All night, as normal, and then all day, too! Maybe I'm just catching up from the girls' shopping spree!
For the first time, EVER, my little sis took me for the Day After Christmas sales. We shopped. And then we shopped some more. Every time she asked if I was done and ready to go home, I'd say, "Oh, well, we're here, we might as well check out this store too." ...Now all of this would have been no problem, other than I'm still gimping around on this new knee. I can walk the normal walk around the house, but you put me "out there" in the real world: on concrete and sidewalks and the shopping floors of the "big-box"'s a whole 'nother world. By my 2PM hubby-imposed curfew, I was pretty tired. (But I wasn't going to crumble to him! )
"I feel FINE!! Just make sure to stop at the coffee shop so I can grab a latte for the long trip home"(....the latte was a chaser for my pain pills and muscle relaxants.)
Regrets? you ask. NONE ! Bring it ON ! I'm ready to go again this weekend!

We sure had a fun Christmas this year. Yeah, I know. I was the whiner about the lost family traditions and how I missed them and it didn't feel like Christmas, and we didn't have any snow, blah, blah, blah. Well, shoot, be careful what 'ya pray for! Cause this girl got it ALL !!
My baby sis really stepped up to the plate and provided an awesome old-fashioned Christmas, with spiral cut ham, cheesy potatoes, shrimp aspic salad, scalloped oysters, yeast rolls, pumpkin pie and pumpkin/Philly cheese roll. Her house was so totally decked out for Christmas, unlike mine, with NO decorations this year. The house was cozy and full of family, Christmas carols playing, good food, good spirits to was wonderful! And there was LOTS of snow, just like in the old days!!

Then we stayed over night, instead of the mad rush to drive back home to tend to the chores always waiting for those who own/tend animals. The whole family gathered at IHOP for "breakfast out" together, before we girls all went shopping. It was grand fun!

Over the holidays, I received so many wonderful cards and calls from all my extended family and friends, with so many of you revealing that you are following my BLOG! You can't imagine how grateful I am for your kind comments!
Feel free to sign in on the Blog register, and to leave your comments on the posts! And thanks for stopping by to visit ! Miss Vic

Meanwhile.....back at the ranch...

Santa Baby

Santa Baby....Well, he used to be a baby. Not so much, any more! My sweet nephew donned the Santa hat prior to handing out gifts on Christmas morning. He is growing up so quickly! Where do our babies go?? Wasn't it just yesterday....?
No. I guess not.
I am just getting old. And the older I get, the more my comments sound like MY grandmother's! Our children grow up. And I guess we should be glad that they do! That is our ultimate job as MOTHERS : to ready our children for independence in the real world.
But goodness gracious godness - it's hard to see them grow up so fast!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dang! It's almost Christmas !


Cook Time
25 min Level: Int. Yield 3 1/2 doz
Times: Prep 30 min Inactive Prep 1 hr 30 min
Cook 25 min Total: 2 hr 25 min

2 (7 to 8-ounce) packages sweetened shredded coconut
2 ounces sweetened condensed milk
Pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites at room temperature
5 ounces granulated sugar
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 ounce vegetable shortening
2 ounces finely chopped dry-roasted macadamia nuts
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk, salt and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to whip the whites until medium peaks form, 6 to 7 minutes.
Gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. Scoop tablespoon-sized mounds onto a parchment-lined half sheet pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately transfer the parchment with the macaroons to a cooling rack. Cool completely before topping.
Fill a 4-quart pot with enough water to come 2 inches up the side, set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a small metal or glass mixing bowl and set over the simmering pot. Stir occasionally until melted, then remove from the heat.
Dip the cooled cookies in the chocolate mixture, sprinkle with the chopped macadamia nuts and place on parchment paper to set, about 30 minutes.
Cook's Note:
Alton prefers to use weight measurements for baking, to ensure the best accuracy. Please be careful if you try converting this recipe to standard measurements, especially for liquid ingredients. Two ounces of sweetened condensed milk is about 3/16th of a cup, which is less than 1/4 cup but more than 1/8 cup.

PARADISE MACAROONS , courtesy Alton Brown 12 Days of Cookies Food Network

Me Ship Ain't Quite Come In

For your amusement:
A bawdy tune known to be sung in the 1870's Fireside Establishment of St. Giles

Me Ship Ain't Quite Come In

'One day I'll dine on pheasants and grouse
And cocktails in fine crystal glasses
And roast pigs with apples stuck in their mouths
And silver spits shoved up their arses...'
'Me spotted dick puddin' will be such a size
Four footmen will carry it in!
But for now I'll survive on porter and pies
For 'me ship ain't quite come in.'

Oh! 'me ship ain't quite come in,
It's subject to delay;
Me ship ain't quite come in,
It's expected any day.
When me ship comes in, the grin on me chin
Will never go away
But me ship ain't quite - Me ship ain't quite
Me ship ain't quite come in!

Miss Vic

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Am Only One...

"I am only one, but I am one.

I cannot do everything,
but I can do something.

And I will not let what
I cannot do interfere with
what I can do."

-Edward Everett Hale

Earlier tonight, I visited with my bestest buddy and confidant, about the affairs of the church.

I/We be-moaned what we perceived were the problems that were taking place in our own little congregation. But somehow, I know I am as much a part of the problem as anyone, because I am not doing anything to fix what I see is lacking in our church family.

Lately, I am feeling "left out"....the "red-headed-step-child". Somehow, I feel that I don't matter at all, or that I am not missed when I don't attend services or extra get-togethers. No one calls or e-mails. No one checks to see if I am ill.

BUT, as I bluntly pointed out to my "captive ear", how often have WE made those phone calls or visits to the others in our church? We often "hear" that ___ is suffering or that "such n such" is struggling with a loss in their life...and we may think of them or pray for them. But have we reached out to offer our help or visited them to offer a moment of respite?

I am just as completely guilty of this. My answer is "No". It is so easy to get caught up in our own lives, our own worries, financial concerns, pain, family issues...that we never find the time to think of others or reach out. WE JUST DONT HAVE THE TIME ! But a phone call that can convey concern and love may only take five or ten minutes.

So while my buddy and I were visiting on the phone, I realized that I was so wrong! It is so easy to be judgemental of others. And when we are judging others, we are blind to what good we could be doing for others.

Whew. I'll be stepping down from my soapbox now.

Meanwhile...back at the ranch.......

Miss Vic

Santa lives here..

Santa Lives HERE !
This is the beautiful
Prenite and Peridot
and Sterling Silver
necklace I had created
for daughter Di for
Christmas...(yeah, I
know...she could read
this blog and ruin the
whole surprise....)
But, I already did that.

I can't help it.
I've never been good
at keeping surprises!

It was all I could do to wait until the package arrived in Seattle....

Then when she had the package in front of her, we're on the
phone, and I'm saying: "OPEN IT! OPEN IT !"

Well, part of my excuse is that she has at least three Christmas
parties coming up...
at least three occassions to GLOW beautifully in this little lovely.
Now, I know I got the world's worst pix of this little beauty.
The light was just AWFUL in the kitchen that night...and I'd
already sealed the blasted thing and had it addressed and ready
to post, when I remembered I wanted to take a picture of it to
show my sister.....(duh).

So I ripped the bloomin' package open and got the best shot I
could get....yeah, I know it's a sucky photo. BUT> I just happen
to know a professional photographer that has access to this piece
of jewelry, and she may be persuaded to get a great shot of it.
Maybe, somehow she can have someone take the shot of HER,
wearing the little jewels.


AND THEN !!!!!

"Little Betty Baker" decided
this was THE DAY to make
Christmas candy....My haircut
wasn't scheduled until 2:00...
I could get the caramel done by then,
me thinks...(that's what I get for

It was 9 AM when I started...
I figured I would have the caramel done
by noon, then finish by making turtles...
You know, pecans, caramel and fudge over
the top. groan
I didn't take into account that the temps were in the low twenties this morning
with a horrendous windchill of minus 30 in my kitchen.
(remember: log house. yeah....drafty little beastie.)

Well, all good deeds done well....The caramel finally hit the medium
soft ball stage at 1:35 and I literally flew out the door at twenty till
2:00 with no time to drag my sore leg.

Miss Vicki talking to self: just suck it up, dearie.
you can have pain meds when we get CANNOT MISS


NOW...After my haircut...., with caramel cooled in the pans instead
of over the pecans in the candy papers, where I wanted them.
(humph), I had to assemble them one at a time.

Oh well, what else did I have to do on a lovely winters day ,

However, uhm. thhey thurmed out yustt yummie,... gulp.

(Don't you just wish you were on my Christmas list?????)

Meanwhile.....back at the ranch...

Miss Vic

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Okay, I Have A Question

Okay, I Have A Question.

Let's say we have this little cedar box in front of us ...It is say 5" x 4" wide ... You can actually smell the aroma of the cedar in the wood of the box ... In the top of the box is engraved this absolutely beautiful rose ...The box has a little metal latch on it ... the lid is closed on the box. ..and on the latch is this little metal lock ... the top of the box is locked. Inside that box ... contains all your wants, your desires and your needs ... someone like me comes along with this long, golden key that has beautiful designs engraved in the key ... I insert the key into the lock and turn the key slowly ... slowly turn the key some more ... slowly turn the key some more ... and then ... finally ...the lock ratchets and springs open...we take the lock off the latch and open the latch ... we open the top of the box and look inside ...and there for the first time in your life are all your wants, your desires and your needs ... things you have been DREAMING about since you were a child ... and they finally become true ... and you, for the first time in your life feel this absolutely wonderful feeling of completeness and warmth and love ... ok ... the question is ... What was buried deep in that little box?

I welcome your comments.

In the meantime, back at the ranch....

What Matters/Calming The Flurry

Every year I re-read this
and find that it helps me
stop the insanity and deal
much better with those I love.
With no expectations but love
and joy in my heart.
What matters this Christmas/ Calming the Flurry
Dear Brave Souls: What matters this Christmas; just a reminder.
I know you know this in your bones: What matters, just this one day: is that you arrive, show up, open the door with a smile that starts at your heart and shines outward....
Stuff doesn't matter
What matters, just this one day: is that you tell each soul you love, that you love them and appreciate that they are on earth, and that your life would be poorer without them...
Stuff doesn't matter
What matters, just this one day: is that you tell a little story, sing a little song, offer a tasty piece of food, tell a funny joke, help carry people's coats, pat children on the head, listen to the old people for a bit, ask after everyone's dog and cat and bird and fish, tease the teenagers about their sweethearts, tell the gawky ones they're soon going to be tall and even finer looking, tell the awkwardly dressed how fine they shine in spirit and mind, criticize nothing, including oneself, bless everything that can be blessed, say only what is in your best heart and leave the b.s. that is day to day irritations and judgments, behind for this one day...
stuff doesn't matter
What matters is that we, just for today, accept people just as they are, all messy, undone, wound up, not well, unhappy, frightened, over the edge, out of it, and all the other things that poor souls on earth can get themselves into or are pushed into through no fault of their own. You cannot go wrong by having mercy on the sick, and clothing the naked psyche that shivers in the cold, and feeding the spiritually hungry, and calming and comforting and loving others...
stuff doesn't matter
Whatever you have already bought as gifts for others-- it is enough already. One more tinker toy or toilet seat doily is not, in the big book Up There, going to make one whit of difference in your final grade. One more candy dandy anything is not going to show your love, regard, or interest in others better than your real self, your deepest soul and kindest heart, being present at the feast...
stuff doesn't matter
In the end, stuff rots, falls apart, breaks, is consumed. But acts of kindness and of love do not deteriorate. When people sit in my consulting room across from me and talk about their families, about the good parts, they never say,"I got a 'such and such' that Christmas," or "Boy they gave me this cheap/expensive/ big/little/awesome/weird gift that I never forgot." People don't say things like that to me in the intimacy of revealing their most inner thoughts. Instead, they tell about the uncle who played a game of catch out in the alley on Christmas Day. About the grandmother who tilted their chin and looked into their eyes and asked how they were, and really wanted to know. They tell about the aunt who supervised them walking about in her high heels and took pictures of the event. They tell about how the big kids played with the little kids for a while. They tell about how someone showed them something beautiful, held them, talked to them, listened to them. And how they loved receiving living love in that way...
stuff doesn't matter, I assure you.
So today, may you accept people and situations just as they are without trying to change them. Believe me, if they were changeable by you alone, via your wishes and dreams and prayers and manipulations and cunning and hopes through all these years--they would already be changed by now, surely. But, if they are not, may you, just this one day, accept the terrain, and go on, with as much happiness in your heart as any human deserves to have---which is to the brim and overflowing. One more run to the store is not needed. It isn't. Don't argue with me. IT ISNT.
Stuff doesn't matter.
What matters? You matter, the fact that you are here, are human, are filled with love, matters--even if you don't feel that way---you were made for one thing far more than others--that is to learn to love and receive love on earth. The fact that you are given this time on earth to learn and to bring these goodnesses to life, that is what matters. No one is EVER ready for Christmas, in terms of gifts and decorations and food and all that la-la. The squirrel-mind of humans can always think up ten last minute things to rush around doing. I suggest you refuse. That, right now, you say, "it's enough and I am enough--- and MORE stuff doesn't matter". The heart is fully equipped and fully READY for Christmas ALWAYS. It needs no shopping malls, no stores, no wrapping paper, no ribbons. It costs only in resolve, in discipline, in filling it on a regular basis from one's own spiritual well. Your heartfulness is the greatest GIFT you can give. I am sure of this. You could give me a new wardrobe or you could give me a Taj Mahal, or you could give me a Ferrari--but they all would fall to dust in time, and the enjoyment of them would fall away from bright memory. But if you give me your loyalty, your concern, your regard, your inquiry into my life, you faithfulness to values we share.... if you comfort me, make me laugh, reaffirm that I am on earth with purpose and reason, that there is a place in your heart for me--then you have given the gift that LASTS forever.This is just Ceep's Christmas ka-jillion two-cent's worth, for I hope you will have peace today, calmness-- you know, 'silent night, holy night, all is CALM, all is BRIGHT.' If that song isn't about the human heart at this time of year, then I don't know what it is about. My grandmother used to say to me when I was little, that our hearts were the place where the New Child would be laid in the manger; that though our surroundings might be poor and not all we wished to receive such a golden child, that the heart is made golden for that Child of Light by our thoughts and deeds.So may it be for all of us, for just this one day, when stuff doesn't matter...
This comes with love and CALM
and passed on to you, my loved ones and readers, as meanwhile, back at the ranch....-V

I'm Depressed

I'm Depressed. I can't help it.

There's still no snow.

There's still no Christmas tree
or decorations..I've still not started
the Christmas cards; I've not hung a
Christmas wreath...

I'm not able to sing with the choir
for the Christmas Cantata.

I'm trying. REALLY! I'm playing Christmas carols- over and over. I MADE myself write our annual Christmas letter today, but I haven't printed them off. I can procrastinate doing THAT for at least another week, can't I? I bought every one's gifts WAY early this year, knowing I'd have my knee surgery and not be able to do it afterwards. So there's no shopping and wrapping to do. It almost seems like Christmas happened months ago. And for me, it did! I purchased, wrapped and delivered all the gifts to my kids in Seattle, the first of October.

And Huggs and I each purchased what we wanted for Christmas, while we were shopping together, so there's no need to wrap those gifts!

There's just something so, I don't know, sad, I guess, about growing old and losing hold of the traditions we've always shared as a family. Each year, something changes. Someone in the family can't be with us for one reason or another. Or we can't go "home" for Christmas and have to find a new place to share our Christmas. Huggs and I have the biggest house, and it always makes me so happy when the family wants to come here for the holidays. But nobody wants to come HERE for Christmas any more...We have the worst weather....the wildest winds...the deepest snow, the worst roads. And as our parents become aged, their days of driving on bad roads have come to an end. So it is our responsibility to travel to them. But then, we have to decide where to hold the gathering. Because all of the reasons that keep them from traveling to us are the same reasons that prevent them from being able to prepare a holiday meal and suffer through the un-nerving noise of so many kids and grand-kids stuffed into a too-small space for hours.

So again, another tradition is gone, as each year, we try to decide where we're going to meet, what we're going to eat, who's going to be able to be there, ...I just want it to be the way it ALWAYS was. At Gramma's house, with EVERYONE there. Where Santa always knew what you wanted for Christmas and he always brought it in the right color.

As a family, when I was growing up, we ALWAYS had Christmas Eve at our house and opened gifts after a simple meal of fragrant casserole and an endless array of salads and desserts made by Mom, Gramma and my Great Aunts. It was all about good spirits, drinking egg nog and Tom & Jerry's by a roaring fire that Dad always had burning in the fireplace, Christmas carols sung around the piano as Dad played, and we'd open gifts and spend the whole afternoon and evening together. Then, Christmas Day was ALWAYS spent at Grandma and Grandpa's house, where we all dressed in our Sunday best, or at least in the newest clothes we'd received as gifts the night before. And we'd eat a full sit-down turkey dinner, with the ENTIRE family together. I grew up surrounded by a loving, supporting cast of Grandparents, and Great Aunts and Uncles. There was never any excuse about having to be somewhere else. The only reason someone wouldn't be there, is if they'd passed away that year!! Back then, we didn't have divorces and have to share our kids with the non-custodial parent. And back then, people didn't travel long distances from home - either to live or to travel, especially during the winter in the northwest United States, where winter blizzards have historically kept us thankfully huddled around the fire. Back when I was a girl, everyone lived close by, and we were always together. When I was a girl, our Christmas was "Martha Stewart perfect" .
Now, the members of our family live hours apart, and subsequently, we have to make more of an effort to get together. And I realize how much effort our family made, to make our holidays perfect.

Just because I'm middle aged now, it doesn't mean I want to grow up. I don't like change. Not when it's about family traditions. I'm not ready for people to grow old, especially me. I still want everyone to be together at Gramma's house for Christmas; I still want Huggs and Santa to know exactly what I want for Christmas, and exactly what color. the meantime....back at the ranch...........

Thursday, December 4, 2008

20 Shopping Days....


There's only 20 more days till Christmas. Gasp. Gulp. Grin.

Yep. Just Grin.

What else ya' gonna do when you can't leave home; can't drive....

What hasn't gotten done, may not GET DONE.

What I can't buy via the net, probably won't get bought.

Maybe another two or three weeks of this full leg brace,

that keeps me from driving my sweet Monte Carlo.

And so far, I'm doing alright.

Daily visits from Fed Ex and UPS trucks have the dogs

salivating at the end of the driveway. Our driver's out here

have gotten smart and carry a bucket of doggie treats at

the top of their truck steps - the first step out of the truck

is one with out-stretched hand with dog bones. Now THAT's

a smart man! What is it about those vibrating brown panel

trucks that drive a dog mad? They instantly HATE what

ever comes out of the door of those trucks. ((I'm sure I

could grab a fast cash grant from our US government to do

a full-scale, five-year double-blind research-study

and follow-up documentary in full-screen High Def on the

Discovery Channel...))

Tonight is the opening round of the National Finals Rodeo.

Now there are only about ten days a year where hubby

demands his televisions rights, AND THIS IS ONE OF THEM.

The week of the National Bull Riding finals and the National

Finals Rodeo, I just don't plan to watch TV. AT ALL. There is

NO compromises here. OH. And a Big part of the deal, is that

hubby can turn the volume up where HE CAN HEAR IT.

Years of abuse, from loud machinery has rendered him

virtually deaf. Nerve deaf. There's not much you can do for

that. Hearing aids can only make it louder, not clearer.

When I turn in at the end of our lane, from the main highway,

I can hear the rodeo announcer as I round the corner. And

can view all the windows in the house vibrating.

((There's no real worry of them actually shattering -

They've stood up to this abuse for the 25 years since we built.))

This year, since I've had the knee surgery, I can't run away

from home, so will have to find other ways to fill the time, such

as post to my BLOG,(!what a concept!), write my annual

Christmas letter.....and ride my new stationary bike!

Since surgery on Oct. 28 , I've gained from 80 degrees bend to

110 degrees, yesterday. My surgeon wants 125 degrees bend,

so I'm getting closer every week. I'm walking around the house

without the use of any aid, and only carry a cane when I leave

the house, just as a precaution. I still haven't gone anywhere,

shopping, where I could find a running pant that snaps along

the leg for easy removal, and access to my brace, so I'm still

wearing shorts to my P.T. sessions. It's getting a bit cold for that,

as it's down to 17 degrees at night, with snow on the mountain

behind town. It's only a matter of luck that we don't have snow

here at the house yet. I'm really not Jones-ing for snow, but I do

love a white Christmas.

I just realized tonight, that I won't be able to do up my huge tree

this year, as is my routine...reality hit me HARD. I guess I'll have

to be satisfied if Huggs gets me a little table-top tree where I can

stick a string of lights and a few teeny ornaments. I sure can't go

crawling around the attic,digging through the boxes and boxes

of goodies, to decide what color I'll do up the tree, THIS YEAR.

I'm a bit OCD about creating the perfect tree. And I had

planned the perfect designer, deep purple tree......

I guess it will have to wait till next year. THEN I'll climb the ladder

and do it up RIGHT !!!

Huggs n I traveled to the city to his favorite western wear shop to

snag some clothes, as they're going out of business, another vic-

tim of the poor economy. We grabbed up $250 worth of dress

shirts that he needs for his art shows and found some really fun


And while down there, I found Christmas for his almost 90 yr

old Mom. We also visited an old neighborhood friend that had

moved to the valley. He'd been calling and calling me to come by

and choose something special from his late wife's china closet,

since I'd refused payment for singing at her funeral. Since I collect

old tea cups and have one from many of the elder ladies from my

neighborhood and family, that was what I chose. A beautiful, dainty

floral English teacup that is just wonderful and makes me just want

to linger over my tea in the morning. My neighbor insisted that I

should have another one, which he had chosen for me; one that he

thought matched my kitchen well, so I came home with two lovelies

for my collection that has over-grown the room I have to display

them - another kick in the butt to get me to complete my own Grand

mother's curved glass china cabinet. It won't hardly take another

full day to finish some necessary work, and then I can re-set the

glass door and move it back to the upstairs....and. fill. it.

I have a love of pretty things. LOTS of pretty things. It's a very

good thing that I have Grand hopefully they wont

all want to be farmers or Peace Corp volunteers.

Meanwhile, Back at the ranch........