Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Kringle

Last May or June, the Evil PXE (pronounced Pixie) attended the last campus administrative meeting before everyone went on summer holidays. It's a time for all entities on our campus to let the other administrators know about upcoming projects and concerns that might affect other departments. He returned to our tiny office bearing two small paper plates with a frosted pastry on each. "I thought you might want to try this. One of the other managers made it."

My eyes lit up at the sight and I almost burst into tears. "You brought me Kringle?"

He shrugged. "Yeah, I guess so. Do you want some?"

I gushed. "You brought me Kringle! My Mom only makes this at Christmas! I can't believe you brought me Kringle! Do you know how tough this is to make? Well, not really tough, just time-consuming compared to how quickly it gets eaten."

Last weekend we drove down to Eugene to spend Christmas with my Mom, the Social Butterfly. She called Mr. GoGoGo's house where we were staying, in a panic. "I can't find the Kringle recipe."

"But I rewrote it for you last Christmas when you made it," I continued, trying to keep my breathing regular.

"I've looked in the recipe box. It's not there. Don't you have a copy of it?"

At home, yes. "But I re-wrote it. On one of those new recipe cards CrafterKat made. The same time I did the Peanut Butter Fudge card."

"OOOOooooh! Then it's in the other recipe box. The one I don't use."

I exhaled slowly, relieved.

Christmas with my Mom was wonderful. And the Kringle one of the best ever. Even if I did forget to write down how much flour went into the pastry filling...

Christmas Kringle

Step I: Pie Dough

1 c. flour
1/3 c. butter
2 T. water

Mix the above ingredients like pie dough and then separate into two equal sections. Smooth each pile of dough into a long strip about three inches wide on a cookie sheet.

Step 2: Pastry Filling

1 c. water
1/2 c. butter
1. c. flour
3 eggs
1 T. almond flavoring

Bring the water and butter to boil. As you take from heat, add all of the flour at one time. Beat until smooth. Add one egg at a one time. Beat until smooth. Add the almond flavoring and beat until smooth again. Pile the filling onto the two pie dough strips, about one inch thick.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45-50 minutes.

Step 3: Frosting

1 c. powdered sugar
1 T. milk
1 T. butter
1 T. almond flavoring

Sliced almonds (traditional but optional)

Mix up the frosting ingredients and frost the Kringle pastry while it is still warm. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds.

Step 4: Aftermath

Eat. Go back for seconds. Then thirds. Wonder why Kringle is all gone.

Holly, Merry Times

It's been a little over a week since our state had A Perfect Storm, according to the weather reporters. Lots of rain, high winds, and power outages throughout the metro area. In fact our long-term summer intern, Princeton (now home for the Christmas holiday break), informed us that it took five days to restore power to his house. Critter had a second choir concert that evening over at the high school and had dressed up for the event only to have the concert cancelled a half-hour before she needed to be there.

The radio and TV began reporting power outages and highway closures due to fallen trees and car accidents. The rest of the evening CrafterKat and I finished up our holiday decorating. It was a But First evening.

First we had to separate out the boxes that we weren't going to use.
Then pile the boxes that needed to go upstairs.
Then climb into the attic and re-organize the boxes so the Christmas boxes are on the west side.
Only to discover the plywood panels hadn't been replaced after the kitchen wiring was done.
Redistribute the pink insulation into each bay.
Then push boxes out of the way to grab the plywood panels.
Wedge plywood panels into place and discover that one doesn't fit that spot.
Find an electrical outlet for the drill.
Pray that the power doesn't go out.
Perform acrobatic maneuvers to drill the plywood in without falling through the drywall into the kitchen below.
Perform human chain to carry boxes up the stairs and into a spot on the west side of the house.

We all clambered down and got into pajamas. CrafterKat, now coming down with a cold, scooped up her sleep gear to recover in the Craft Room. Critter brushed her teeth and began singing Christmas songs, "Have a holly, merry Christmas..."

CrafterKat stopped on the stairs. "Holly, jolly Christmas," she corrected.

Critter gave an annoyed sigh and almost stamped her foot in frustration. "If the English can say 'Happy Christmas' then I can say 'Holly, Merry Christmas'! It's just wrong!"

We chuckled, said our goodnights, and went to bed. Five minutes later the lights went out, the power returning a few short minutes later. Critter was back at my door the instant the lights returned. "The lights went out."

"Yes, but the power came back on." The Fuzzy Slug settled down across my legs, oblivious to the outage. I continued in a calm, unconcerned manner, "It may go out again, or it may not."

Critter remained in the hallway, unconvinced.

I chuckled to myself. "Do you want to sleep with me?"

"YES!" She grabbed her quilt, pillow and stuffie and leapt into bed, wrapping herself up in the blankets. I wished her goodnight after she was settled. "Goodnight, JewelGeek. And thanks for the Slumber Party!"

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Clarence, you been rehearsin' real hard to get a new saxophone?

The day after Thanksgiving, we all piled into the Tink Tank for leftovers at Mr. GoGoGo's house. CrafterKat pulled out of my Mom's driveway, turned on the radio and tee-hee'd. Christmas music poured forth from the Eugene radio station.

"I found the one station here that is playing Christmas music all the time." She laughed again.

I sighed comically just as Bruce Springsteen's Santa Claus is Coming To Town came on. "So, this is the first of 300 times I'll hear this song this season." I sighed again, resigned.

For the record, I don't mind Christmas songs. Nor am I anti-Bruce (well, maybe a bit but mostly because the radio stations overplayed him so much in the 80's). I do, however, get ticked off with the repetition of the same songs every season.

Alas, my prediction is not proving true this year. It's the 14th of December and I've only heard Bruce's version of this classic three times.

Instead, every station seems to be playing the Snoopy/Red Baron song and the one about getting a hippopotomous for Christmas. Once or twice is fine--they are cute--but come on! Not every day!


I'm now half-expecting to see a hippo in my garage on Christmas Day.

After all, there's lots of room for him in our two-car garage
I'd feed him there and wash him there and give him his massage.

Well, Merry Christmas mein friend!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dipping In The Pocket Of Her Raincoat

Ah, rainy days in the Rose City. Now that the carpet and most of the furniture have been installed and delivered, we're beginning to sound like a Paul McCartney song.

Slipping Into Stockings,
Stepping Into Shoes,
Dipping In The Pockets Of Her Raincoat.

Ah, It's Just Another Day. Du Du Du Du Du
It's Just Another Day. Du Du Du Du Du

We're watching the new neighbors...

Spending time with our healthy friends...

Fighting for control of the couch...

Overseeing the melting of ice...

It's been a pretty busy few days!

Friday, December 08, 2006

House of Cards, Part 2

Note: House of Cards, Part 1 can be found here.

It’s been a little over a week since the new carpet has been installed in our home. Here’s what happened:

Friday, November 17
CrafterKat posts sofa, two chairs, and rocker on Craigslist at 9:15 p.m.
Phone rings non-stop beginning at 9:16 p.m. until we disconnect it at 10:00 p.m.
Furniture is brought upstairs and stored in Critter’s room.
JewelGeek sustains Craigslist injury moving overstuffed chair—bangs wrist against doorknob. Lovely bruise is just now fading…

Saturday, November 18
JewelGeek bakes cookies beginning at 6:00 a.m.
First Craigslist reader from Washington state shows at 7:00 a.m. to pick up furniture.
JewelGeek bakes cookies.
Second Craigslist reader shows up to claim remaining items.
We marvel at how empty living room is without comfy furniture.
JewelGeek bakes cookies.
CrafterKat brings up crafting supplies.
Cleaning. Baking. Cleaning. Prepping for party.

Sunday, November 19
JewelGeek bakes cookies.
Final cleaning and prepping for party.
Annual Craft Party!

Monday, November 20
Extra cookies taken to work.
We marvel at how empty the house looks without furniture.

Tuesday, November 21
Pack for Thanksgiving vacation.
Scritch kitties.
Dream of new furniture and carpet.

November 22-25
Thanksgiving in Eugene.
Eat too much food.
Play card games.
Scritch the Captain’s dog. Scritch the Egyptian Queen.

Sunday, November 26
Dismantle computers.
Move majority of furniture into dining room.
Take crafting party supplies downstairs.
Unpack, clean, recover from Thanksgiving.

November 27-29
Watch kitties race across open living space, devoid of furniture
Sit on wooden chairs in middle of living room, meals balanced precariously on laps.
Give up on eating while sitting on wooden chairs. Go to restaurants or get take out to eat in bedroom.
Move large oak bookshelf into kitchen, slightly blocking the refrigerator.

Thursday, November 30
CrafterKat stays home, feeling poorly.

Jewelgeek greets Homer who has come to install the carpet and the vinyl floor for the bathroom. JewelGeek states that the vinyl is for the landing where he is standing and tells him it should match the vinyl located in the kitchen.
JewelGeek checks the van and is assured that it is the correct carpet and vinyl.
Kitties locked in master bedroom with CrafterKat.

JewelGeek visits eye doctor at 9:45 and learns she needs new glasses.
Optometrist assistant urges JewelGeek to buy thick plastic frames popular in the 80’s.
JewelGeek declines and orders pair that is the same model she currently wears.
JewelGeek returns home to mariachi music playing on portable radio for the contractors.
The carpet is mostly laid out.
JewelGeek checks on CrafterKat’s health and invites her to lunch.


Homer and his crew break the sidelight window next to the front door with their equipment.
We fetch heavy plastic from the summer remodel and tape up both windows, inside and out, in case the glass explodes.
We attempt to exit the garage through the car port doors only to find them blocked with rolls of 20-year old carpet. Exit through garage back door.
Back Tink Tank out and around two contractor vans to go to lunch.
Visit to Lowe’s after lunch to inquire about putting in new sidelights.

Returned to find first layer of smoothing agent on the front landing for the vinyl. Have to step on dry areas to get up the stairs.
Living and hallway areas are carpeted.
We retreat to master bedroom to wait for vinyl to be finished.
Critter returns home from school.

Second layer of drying agent on landing is not dry. Fetch heaters and crafting heat guns to dry the landing (it’s about 30 degrees outside).
Notice carpet installers are huddled around gas fireplace trying to get warm.
Circuit for heaters and crafting heat guns blows.

Notice carpet is not wall to wall in the living room as per our specs. Homer’s crew had carpeted to where the old fireplace mantel sat. This carpet was supposed to be one large piece from the fireplace all the way down to the end of the hallway.
Homer says he can melt the pieces of carpet back together and refinishes the living room.

Mariachi music doesn’t help the vinyl sealant dry faster.

Remind Homer’s crew to install the metal bars between the carpet and the existing vinyl (holds the carpet down and provides a threshold as you enter the kitchen).

Critter and JewelGeek sneak out for hamburgers and milkshakes from Mike’s by crawling over the living room furniture blocking the rear door to the deck.
Dinner was scarfed in the master bedroom as we waited for the vinyl sealant to dry.

Noticed that the carpet was laid over the wooden threshold to the master bedroom so we have two different colored carpets meeting about three inches inside the bedroom door.
Crew replaces molding on landing with regular nails instead of finishing nails and have nailed over the tape we used to keep the plastic from flapping away.
Crew leaves house at 7:00 p.m.

Move stereo stand into living room, under window.
Slide TV off of stand and onto wooden chest.
Attach wheels to TV stand and, eventually, lift TV back onto stand.

Check for hernias.
Family retires to bed, exhausted.

Friday, December 1

Saturday, December 2
CrafterKat leaves for mandatory training at her office.

JewelGeek takes down the old light in the hallway.
Confirmation phone call with the Renaissance Man about electrical wires.
Critter helps install new light purchased at Lowe’s.
Circuit blows.

JewelGeek drives to Home Depot.

JewelGeek figures out that both the red and the black wires are live. Returns home to install the new light fixture the same way the old one was installed.
New hall light is beautiful. No circuit is blown.

JewelGeek carves carpet away from floor outlet so cover can replaced.
Critter replaces heat vent covers with new ones.
JewelGeek and Critter move oak bookcase back.

Lunch is scarfed.

Critter vacuums. Sort of.
JewelGeek empties clogged vacuum tube filled with five years of kitty fur. Vacuum works beautifully.

Cherry bookcase is unearthed from dining room clutter and moved back.
Critter and JewelGeek watch Christmas movies until furniture shows up.

Furniture arrives at 3:30 p.m.
JewelGeek and Critter test the furniture, exhausted. It’s been two full weeks since we’ve had a sofa and chair.

Desks are brought back into the living room.
Computer is set up. Friday, December 8
JewelGeek's blood pressure is considerably lower and can now write this blog entry.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Luck Be a Lady

Critter is definitely learning cribbage FAST. A game we played after Thanksgiving taught me that Luck prefers young ladies. She scored a 24-point hand! (She lost the game to my advanced pegging skills. And the fact that she led to me.)

The next game, she scored a 20-point hand. (She lost to my last-minute 16-point hand, which I got to count before she could earn her remaining 3 points. Neener neener neener.)

The deck and board sit on the diningroom table, in the middle of a game, covered by the mayhem that was carpet installation. We'll get back to it soon, I assume, and hopefully with no card drama!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

House Of Cards

It’s been just over a week since we have had computer access at home. And quite a bit has changed in our Rose City castle. We left for Eugene the Wednesday before Thanksgiving for lots of good food, stories, more good food, and card games.

A typical Thanksgiving conversation at Mr. GoGoGo’s house:

Critter: (perusing her cribbage cards) I need help with this hand.
CrafterKat: You can figure it out on your own. That’s how you learn.
Critter: But I don’t know what to put into the kitty. Grandpaaaaaa!
JewelGeek: Sweetie, try and figure it out yourself.
Critter: Arrrrgggggghhhh!
CrafterKat and JewelGeek: One Eyed Pete! *

We ate far too much turkey, raved about the seafood The Captain brought up from Gold Beach, and helped (?) Chef Flip Flop prep for his cooking test on sauces. Cooking school is serious stuff—he had over 50 sauces to learn that weekend. “My teacher is going to give me a meat and say, ‘Cook this pork with a such-and-such sauce. You have to use this starch for the base and you have one hour and ten minutes. Go!’” No pressure…

Our food bliss ended Saturday with one final leftovers lunch. CrafterKat had a friend from the Seattle area stop by on their way home. She and her husband had been with vegetarian in-laws, dining on tofu turkey and nut stuffing. Their Thanksgiving dinnercan be summed up thusly: “No meat should squeak in your mouth.”

The rest of the weekend was spent preparing the house for the carpet installation on Thursday. Which meant we had to move everything back into the kitchen, an interesting jigsaw puzzle.

But a puzzle which The Little Man enjoyed immensely. The ceiling fan is soooo much easier to play with when you can stand on the television!

* The name we have given Critter's Pirate Cow