Unexpected Pleasures

 

 

A couple of days ago I shared a bit about this year’s WEXMAS party. But I neglected to share anything about the gift Mister and I brought home: Thou Spleeny Swag-Bellied Miscreant – Create Your Own Shakespearean Insults book.

 

Here’s how it works. You open the cover to reveal ring-bound pages, divided into 3 sections. You can choose any “page” from each section. Read together, they equal something along the lines of this…

 

 

At first, I thought it was just another dorky WEXMAS gift. But now I’m starting to appreciate it. I mean, my vocab could definitely use a refresher. Maybe this little book is just the ticket. After all, I don’t want to always sound like a Milk-livered Burly-boned Coxcomb…

D-Squared T-Squared – Week 48

 

 

Mister and I tried our hands at making marshmallows this past week. We’ll be giving them as part of our holiday sharing this year. I got the recipe here. The only changes we made were to spread the marshmallow cream on a prepared cookie sheet instead of in a square pan (which made the final product thinner), and we cut them with a star cookie cutter instead of cutting them into squares.

 

How do they taste? Like the most lovely marshmallows I’ve ever had.

Body and Soul

 

 

Yesterday’s post told of my neighbor’s passing. I mentioned how, as a Southerner, my go-to response to a death in the family is to cook for the family. And my go-to food is a baked ham.

 

I want to share a little something I’ve learned to do in cases such as this. When I take food to the bereaved, I make sure to present the edibles on some sort of dish the family can keep. The way I figure it, the last thing they need to worry about is which plate belongs to whom and how to get it back to the owner. So I make a trip to a thrift store and find some sort of inexpensive yet keepable item, purchase it and give it away. I make sure the family knows they can keep the dish and that it’s theirs to use or pass on. One less detail for them to deal with.

 

Mister pointed out to me that my neighbors probably won’t be hungry at all. I know he’s right. But if they do need nourishment, at least they won’t have to cook. And if people stop by (and people surely will), our neighbors won’t have to bother preparing something for their friends. It’s little things like that, things that feed our bodies and souls, that make all the difference in life.

 

Heaven knows, the little things matter. Especially in the face of the big things. And losing a loved one is about the biggest thing I can think of.

Lucky

 

 

Yesterday morning found me battling computer issues. Something’s been going on with my network for a week or so. The morning’s problems were eventually managed, but I don’t particularly enjoy having to geek out on computer stuff, so I wasn’t happy about it. Then I realized – hey, the danged thang is running just fine, so get over it already. And I did.

 

The weather here in Los Angeles is expected to hit the 80-degree mark over the next few days. Our greenery is so confused, none of it quite knows what to do. People’s allergies are all out of whack and for some of us, this just ain’t right. But it is what it is, so I plan to dig in the dirt a little today and I’ll just have to sneeze my way through it.

 

The other day I was breakfasting with a friend. (“Breakfasting” – don’t you just love that word?) I said something or other about a mutual acquaintance and how he’s choosing poorly for himself and his life. My friend looked at me – without judgment – and said, “But he’s not you. Not everyone chooses the same.” Her statement hit me like a slap across the face. For she was right. We are not the same. We are all wonderfully different. Since that conversation, I’ve had more than a few opportunities to think about her words and to try and put their message into practice. I’m working on it. I get to work on it.

 

I am not so advanced as to always recognize the multitude of gifts bestowed upon me each and every day. I guarantee – about a jillion of them pass by, unnoticed. That’s on me, friends. I’m trying, and I suppose that’s good enough. I hope so anyway.

 

In the meantime, I plan on opening my heart a little more and not flipping out when called upon to use my noggin. And the dirt. I plan to dig, too. I am a lucky, lucky gal.

Cookie Factory

 

 

 

It hasn’t yet begun, but the gears will soon be turning on a cookie factory in my kitchen.

 

There will be assembly lines for toffee, sugar cookies and peanut butter blossoms. For a few days, every flat surface in our home will be covered with the sweets of my labor.

 

I do it every year, and yet it still requires mental preparation. I know how to make all the treats, I know what’s involved as far as ingredients and timing are concerned. Maybe it’s because I know what’s involved that I have to gear up. Maybe getting in over my head each and every year has trained me to still my mind before I begin.

 

The butter is soft and the eggs are at room temperature. I hear the work whistle blowing. And so it begins…

“Lawrence of Arabia”

 

 

This piece of art was an anniversary gift for Mister. It was a surprise gift, and working on it required a lot of sneaking around. Fortunately, when I told others it was to be a surprise, they were more than happy to help me out. In particular, the guys at the hardware store were tops. They cut the wood for me and even made helpful suggestions as to how I should brace the back of the piece. There are loads of good people in the world, y’all. They just get very little press.

 

But I digress. “Lawrence of Arabia” is Mister’s favorite film. As our fat anniversary neared, I thought of tracking down a vintage film poster as a gift. But investigations into that idea revealed just how spendy those danged posters are. So I decided to get a new poster (new equaling cheap) and make a whole to-do out of it. I wanted it to look as if it had been taken from a construction site. I aged it and added the “Post No Bills” flyers. In the end, I thought it turned out pretty good. But as it wasn’t a gift for me, my opinion didn’t really matter. The question was, would Mister like it?

 

I’m happy to report he loves it. And that is all that truly matters.

Scotland’s Secret Sculptor

 

 

If I’ve shared this already, forgive me…

 

A while back I saw a story about an artist, and I was brought to tears of joy. Apparently, Scotland has a Secret Sculptor who’s leaving works of art – made from books – spread around in public places. The pieces are left discretely, secretly and anonymously. As of today, the sculptor’s identity is still unknown.

 

These acts move me in so many ways. I love the fact that these works of art are gifts. (And make no mistake – these gifts are work. Look at the detail!) I love the beauty of each piece. So intricate, so lovely. I love the fact that the artist has thus far chosen to remain anonymous. Who would do that? In today’s world, everyone seems so desperate for attention. We’d lop off our little piggy toes if we thought we’d end up with an opportunity to squeal on television. And yet, here’s a person who’s actually worthy of attention, and not yet seeking it. I’m amazed. I’m touched. And I’m humbled.

 

The link above will take you to a BBC piece on this artist’s beautiful gifts. It’s just over 4 minutes long, and oh-so worth it. After watching, let me know what you think!

Kicks

 

 

Today I’m going to a baby shower. I know – I can’t believe it either.

 

Anyhoo, I wanted to show you the gift-wrapping job I did, as it’s so freakin’ cute! The gift itself leaves something to be desired (it’s a gift card), but the wrapping! Mister said I should always put tiny shoes on the outside of every gift I give for the rest of my life. Retiring? Here’s a watch! With baby shoes on the outside! Graduating? Here’s a briefcase – with baby shoes attached!

 

I won’t be harnessing  baby shoes to “regular” gifts any time soon, but I do like these little kicks. And y’all have got to know – if these came in my size, I’d be wearing them right now. For reals.