Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Friday, December 2, 2016

So That Was Fun

Well howdy, reader!

How're you doing?  Didja have a pleasant Thanksgiving?  Lots of good food, good family, good fun?

Marvelous!

We had a pretty fine time here at the Casa, ourselves.

We've had an exciting week here at Casa de Crazy.  There was Thanksgiving, and then there were some tornado warnings, and then Someone's son welcomed his first child into the world - a daughter - and made Someone an awfully proud grandfather.

Someone was so excited, he lit a candle in celebration.  It's a thing us witches do.  We like to celebrate.  With fire.



There we were, eating dinner and waiting for the brownies to cool enough to nom.  Someone is away for a week, and Mizz A came over to hang out and harass the kids.  I was typing along on Albino Bob when I smelled something a bit...off.

Kind of like a plastic spoon hit the heating element in the dishwasher.  Phew.

So I opened the dishwasher, but that didn't seem to be it.  Then Mizz A saw smoke curling up from behind the stove.

Umm.

No?

I cleared of the stove and asked her to go get the extinguisher that lives just outside the door to the garage.  I had one in the kitchen, but it was quite small and maybe 20 years old, and I wanted a back-up, just in case.

I had Bird stand by to call 911 if need arose, and told Sprout to stay away from the kitchen so she didn't get in the way or get burned or smoked like a sausage.

When Mizz A opened the garage door, she found out that the fire was actually in the garage.  Whew!  So glad my oven wasn't toast!

Umm.

Oh, yeah...but that means the garage is on fire.

Dang.

I carried my small halon extinguisher (the old one from the kitchen) down the stairs and asked Mizz A to open the big garage door.  I went out the front, around into the garage, and hit the fire with the halon.  I'm really going to miss that little giant.  Sniff.

It did the job, that wee marvel, but is now kaput and I will never be able to replace it.  Thanks for your sacrifice, my halon hero!

Just for safety's sake, I popped my 5lb dry-chem bottle and hit the fire spot again.  I emptied it.  It was my oldest dry-chem bottle, and I'll miss it, too.  I worked many races with that as my sidekick, even put out a care fire on the side of the highway and a grass fire once.  Sigh.

Turns out Someone sort of forgot to tell me a candle was burning in there*.  I don't think it was the taper candle**...I think it was the jar candle behind it.  I'll find out whenever he calls.  Meanwhile, what a mess!

I shot a photo or two AFTER I got the fire out and doused the whole area with water to keep any hot spots from flaring up.  


 
Pretty sure that's not right.  Cough.



And that's AFTER some of the smoke cleared.  The inside of the Casa wasn't much better.  Mizz A helped by making the smoke detector (that went off a bit late in the game) shut up and then opening windows and turning on bathroom fans up and down stairs.  Bird took care of his sister and then got a fan plugged in and placed in the door between the house and garage to help clear smoke from the downstairs.


I took more photos, because priorities.  I also called my mother to let her know what happened.  Yeah, I bet she's gonna sleep well tonight...the night before she leaves for a cruise in Europe.  I'm thoughtful, that way.  That white powder on the floor?  Used to be inside my dry-chem bottle.


All that blackened stuff?  Umm...didn't used to be blackened.


For a little while, Mizz A and I played "What the hell WAS that???" with all the charred, melted goo on the crate.  Good times.


Mmm, dry-chem powder...so tasty on the tongue, so lovely in the lungs. 


The cobwebs on the garage look spectacular.  Poor spiders... 


The ceiling above the crate where the fire was may need some love...but right now it looks like a goth kid's bedroom decor dream.


Seriously nifty cobweb action.  Mizz A will get some better photos in the morning with her camera that isn't a phone.  Everything is art, around here! 



More webs.  Groovy. 



So there was a bucket of fish tank gravel and an old TV remote.


This metal candle sconce thingy fared okay, just got a little powdered.  A wipe down will see it right as rain.


Then there's what we think may once have been a traffic light...light, and an old lawn sprinkler.


Now this hurts...Someone's carboys, some of them vintage, cracked.


Won't be brewing any more blueberry-pomegranate wine in there...waaaah! 


See that lovely soot?  It's kinds greasy and Mizz A and I had to wash our hands a bit to get it off.  Blech. 


Pan made it, and I'm glad of that.  I adore that Pan.




A look at the ceiling after most of the smoke cleared.

I will have to get quite a lot of wall and ceiling cleaned up and probably either re-painted or replaced, but that will keep.  Cleaning up the crate will keep.

The kids and cats re fine.  The Casa is fine.  Mizz A and I may have sucked in a bit of smoke, but we're fine, too.  Everyone responded marvelously to a moderately scary situation and the damage was minimal.  Also, we had brownies after, so there was that.

Now, I think we're due some good luck...so maybe tomorrow I will purchase a lottery ticket.

*We are usually very fire safe, and this was a rather unusual oversight.  No, really.  I've been burning candles and whatnot for more than 20 years and this is a first.  Had I known it was down there, I would have been looking after it and likely this wouldn't have happened.  Even so, this could have been far worse, and I'm just glad that this happened while I was here to deal with it and that when Someone comes home, he has a home to come home to!

**Edit - The candle in the photo at the top of the post did not cause the fire.  I repeat, that candle didn't cause the fire.  What DID cause it is a mystery and will likely remain so.  I'm not a fire investigator and I don't really need to know what caused the burn...we handled it and all's well that ends well.  There is no blame to be assigned.  The kids are fine.  They did great.  I'm proud of them.  The cats were annoyed.  They did fine.  I'm proud of them.  Mizz A and I are fine.  We worked well as a team.  I'm proud of us. Someone is chagrined that something of his cause such havoc.  He will live and learn.  We are now getting on with life, because that's what we do.  Thank you.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Here followeth a Casa de Crazy Thanksgiving Day Tradicion:

We hope you have a pleasant, tasty, mellow, comfortable, not-at-all-contentious Thanksgiving day if you are in the USA and an all around good one if not in the USA.

Here's the link of you want to view full screen:  Alice's Restaurant

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankful

I have a few traditions on Thanksgiving. Not many - the menu, recording the Macy's parade so I can watch it and fast-forward through all the crappy pop music, commercials, and talking heads to see the twenty minutes of balloons, floats and high school bands I'm interested in hidden among all that junk  (although I will have to forgo that pleasure, this year, alas, unless Mom remembers to record it for me to peruse at her house another time), and my list of some things for which I am thankful, in no particular order and in no way complete:

The house in which I live
The Evil Genius
Mum
Someone
Sprout
Gypsy, K2, Mizz A, Kit, Sam-I-Am, PJ, Mizz Beth, Martha 'n' Milo, Avalon, and all of my friends who put up with me when I am most myself and therefor least likable. They are the net beneath me when I fly and fall
Bread
The scent of leaf loam and woodsmoke in the crisp autumn air
Books, music, and art
Clean, plentiful water
Clean air
Clean clothes
Freedom
Nature and the way she finds to show me something new of herself every day
Words
Song
Dance
Adversity, that joy is all the sweeter (Okay, okay, the joy is sweet enough, so basta with the adversity for a minute, please)
Every creature and plant that I consume to sustain myself, because without the life I take, I would have no life to live
Love - that it exists at all is a wonder, and I feel blessed to know it in many forms
Chocolate, gift from the Gods (yes, even the perversion called "candy bar") (Mmm...candy bar...)
Honeycrisp Apples
Strong hands
Strong spirit
Strong will
Laughter
Cussed determination not to curl up and die just because life can sometimes be a succession of truly awful, bleak, and desolate days...but sometimes it isn't.
The Internet
You

I hope you have a blessed day, and that you the things you're thankful for outweighing the things for which you're not.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all, from us at Casa de Crazy to you out in the Blue Nowhere and beyond.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Cookery

Every year I post the menu for out Casa de Crazy Thanksgiving extravaganza and every year I wonder why I don't just cut and paste from last year because it very rarely changes.

Oh, the people change, and the weather, but what goes down in the kitchen and gets laid upon the table are as reliable as...well...something very reliable.

I also wonder if anyone cares, but I kind of get a kick out of seeing what y'all are doing and I like to share, so without further ado, here's the eats for Thursday's T-Day dinner:

Turkey, a 14 pounder this year because we have a couple of extra guests.

Dressing.  Not stuffing.  I like the stuff the gobbler with herbs and use the pan drippings for the gravy, so it's dressing.  No one has complained, yet.

Mashed potatoes (Mum usually helps with these and I let her because she is Mum and you don't tell Mum "no" when she wants to help with the taters, but this year she's got other plans so I will do 'em, whimper, snuffle, sob, moan).

Gravy, of the home made variety.

Green Beans.  Just plain old steamed green beans.

Green Bean Casserole, because Someone asked me awfully nicely if I would, and I feel obliging.


Mashed Turnips and carrots, because Mum and I adore them and they're pretty in the fancy, cut glass bowl.

Can-o-Cranberry, because cranberry that isn't can shaped ain't right.

Desserts include Chocolate Silk Pie and Dutch Apple Crumb Pie made just for us by Marie Callender (her pie crusts are way better than mine and I'm fine with letter her do all the work) and a Key Lime Pie with a shortbread crust (crust store bought, pie made here).  Also Ice Cream and coffee.  And Tums.  Lots of Tums.

Whew, I am full already.  How 'bout you - what's traditional at your Thanksgiving dinner?  What's your favorite savory?  Favorite sweet?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Counting Down

It is Monday of Thanksgiving week and there is much happening here at the Casa.

Someone is out looking for another job and taking care of other business, and the kids and I are terrorizing the cats...er...tidying up a bit.

This is a somewhat traditional post for me - every year I write a little something about this week, as it is the lead-off to The Silly Season and often one of my busiest here at the Casa.

So, here we go.

Monday (today) - Dental appointment for Sprout (all good, just a check-up).  Housekeepery of all sorts.

Tuesday - Possibly making a pie, possibly two.  Pulling the turkey from the freezer.  Pulling the turkey stock from the freezer.  Mashing turnips and carrots.  More housework, including washing every last dish/bowl/platter that we'll use on Thursday since they're the "good" dishes* and sit all year until I pull them out for Thanksgiving

Wednesday - cleaning, cleaning, more cleaning (I move slowly, the Casa is enormous, and I am not a good housekeeper so when we DO clean, it's a job).  Getting the dressing ready to bake.  Maybe making the green bean casserole ahead of time.  Panicking about the butter - is two pounds enough for the day?  Gah!  Making sure the table linens are washed and ready to use and pulling out the "good" flatware**.

Thursday - Turkey goes in to bake.  Dressing goes in to bake.  Green bean casserole goes in to bake.  Green beans are steamed.  Finishing up any last minute cleaning.  Children are shooed outside to frolic.  Friends and family trickle in.  Set the table.  Fill the water pitcher.  Watch TV and baste the turkey.  Make food, food, more food.  Serve.  Eat.  Coma.  Dessert and coffee/tea.  More coma.  Play games.  Pack leftovers to go for guests.  Sleep well.

Friday - NO SHOPPING!!!  There may,however, be cookie baking.  Lots of cookie baking.  Certainly lots of leftovers eating and probably some Netflix watching.  Almost certainly crocheting.

Saturday - Start figuring out Yule stuff, maybe start addressing holiday cards...or, who am I kidding?  Napping.

Sunday - I'm not gonna and you can't make me!

How is your week shaping up?

*These are dishes that Mum and I bought one piece at a time from a grocery store a long, long,looooong time ago.  Service for fourteen including serving dishes, either free or bargain priced with purchase of a certain amount of groceries.  I love them.  Not fancy, but pretty and simple and I like them.

**Not sterling, but some rather lovely and solid stainless steel flatware from the Oneida Company, back when there was a Betty Crocker catalog and we clipped Betty Crocker points from boxes and saved them in a tin on top of the refrigerator.  Service for twelve, and some day I hope to expand it and add more serving pieces and other cutlery, but that'll have to wait a bit because it's a discontinued pattern and getting the pieces I'd like to have will cost a small fortune.  I adore my pattern, bought a few pieces at a time through the mail with little bits of cardboard and postage paid.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Keylime Bars

This weekend, K2 is having her annual pre-holiday shopping extravaganza home show, and today I'm making some keylime bars to take and share with shoppers tomorrow.  A friend on Facebook asked for the recipe and I figured I could share it here and help spread the keylimey love.

The players:



For the crust you will need:
2 Cups flour
1 Cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt (optional)
Dash of cinnamon (optional)

For the filling you will need:
4 eggs
5 Tablespoons keylime juice
4 Tablespoons flour
2 Cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Aaaaand...action!

Heat your oven to 325 F.  I don't know what that is in C.  You can find a conversion calculator on the Internetz if you need it.  You can find darned near anything on the Internetz whether you need it or not.

Mix the dry ingredients for the crust well.  


Melt the butter over low heat.  Wow, that's a lot of butter.  This has to be good!



Carefully pour the butter over the dry ingredients and not all over the counter while you're trying to photograph the action for your blog.  Ahem.


Mixa, mixa, mixa with a fork.  Don't get too crazy here or you'll wind up with a tough crusty part, and tough crusty parts are a bummer, man.




Once it's mixed and still nice and crumbly, dump it into a 9 x 13 pan.  Or a 13 x 9 pan.  Your choice.  Sometimes I'm a rebel and use an 8 x 11 pan so I have a thicker crust and deeper bars.  I'm crazy that way.


You do NOT need to grease the pan.  Did you notice how much butter went into this crust?  Pat it down gently until it feels pretty even.  Or you could make it all bumpy and wavy and have kind of uneven bars if you want.  Who am I to judge?



Bake at 325 F for 20 minutes.  


Remove from the oven but leave that thing cranked to 325.  Look at that crust.  Mmm...



While the crust cools a wee, let's move on to the filling.  You can wait for the crust to cool entirely if you like.  Heck, you can just make the filling while the crust bakes and pour it right on as soon as the crust has cooked.  I'm just telling you how I do it.  Anyway, the filling...

Beat the eggs fluffy.



Next, add the sugar, still beating.  Pretend the mixer is all shiny and new and not distressingly worn and weird looking.  Thanks.


Once the sugar is well beaten in, add the salt.  I used Celtic sea salt because I like it, but regular table salt is fine.



Next comes the flour, one Tablespoon at a time.



Finally, the lime juice, one Tablespoon at a time.  Let it whisk around for a bit to get nice and creamy and smooth and tantalizing.



Pour over the crust, triumphant when you didn't spill it on the stove top while you simultaneously dumped and photographed.  Hurrah!



Oooh, purty...



Bake at 325 F for 25 minutes.  It should be well set, so if it still jiggles, leave it in for a few more minutes.



Oh, bubbly wonder!


Let the whole thing cool completely.  Once cooled, you can dust it with powdered sugar or just grab a fork and dive in.  Like I said, I won't judge!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Life Goes On

It's just after 10:00 at night.

The presidential election is being decided as I type.  It'll be a few hours before it's all settled.  I'm surprised at how close it is right now.  My son is worried about the results.  He's 13 and everything is so immediate, so urgent, so impossible, so he's worried.

I'm not.

The thing is, as far back as I can remember doomsayers have proclaimed that if this candidate or that wins, our country will crumble.  Various fates have been predicted.

And yet...

And yet...

Life goes on.

In the morning, when I wake and am bombarded by glee, misery, gloating, wound licking, and general post-election hangovery...I will still look for the hungry and try to feed them.  I will still do laundry.  I will bake cookies and play Candyland with Sprout.  I will empty the catbox and probably say a few cuss words as I clean up a puddle of pee from whichever cat has decided that litter boxes are for chumps.

I will play games on Facebook.

I will worry about bills.

I will plan dinner.

I will pester my children to do their chores, please, now, hey, chores, hello, can you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?

I will ask how I can help people who need helping and strive to embody compassion, love, kindness, patience, and even occasionally wisdom.  Sometimes I will succeed and sometimes I will fail and always I will hope and work to do better.

I will ask the gods to send the rain we've not had but desperately need.

I will watch National Geographic on Netflix and be thankful that my ex-husband lets us use his account so we can see so many beautiful and amazing things on our television.

I will crochet.

I will strive to help Cygnus walk his rocky path, and I will strive to walk mine with all the grace I can muster (scant though it be sometimes).

I will continue to love, as I always have.  Hatred is  cage in which I refuse to be captured.  I will love openly and freely and fiercely and madly and absolutely.

Nothing about this election can possibly change who I am at my core.  Nothing about any of the candidates or what the winner proclaims or attempts to keep or change about our laws, our nation, will alter one iota of my fundamental ME.


I will try, as always, to keep my integrity intact, and there's not a law on earth that can force me to do otherwise.

So, yes, life will go on.

It doesn't matter, this political brouhaha.

Life.  Goes.  On.