Sunday, December 31, 2017

Soap Bubbles Freeze At -14 Degrees F.

...and the night is young-we're expecting lows between -21-24 degrees F. Fun times.

I hope your New Year's Eve is warmer than mine! See you in 2018.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

I'm Mr. Ten Below

Thank you all for your kind words for Danny. He's very excited and relieved to start a new chapter in his life. Coming at his 13th birthday, and the new year, the timing was perfect. I've been blogging so long (since 2004) many of you have watched him grow up. As far as I'm concerned, you're family.  Thank you again for being such a great group of people.

What have we here? An outfit post? My goodness, I nearly forgot how to do one. sorry about that-got hectic around here in December.

I've worn these Star Wars leggings on the blog before. For some reason, I always pair them with a sequin mini dress. I don't know what that says about me that I own several sequined mini dresses, but eh, at least I'm not hard to find in a crowd.
This was last year. The leggings are too big/baggy, but I don't care-I love them.  This time around I wore a gold and silver flapper-like dress and an oversized 80's jacket.
We had a flock of starlings visit our feeders this week. They're maligned birds due to being loud and messy, but I enjoy them. They're stumbly and ungraceful, and can eat tonnes of food...I completely identify! Anyway, they moved on after a day to raid a better stocked bird feeder. We've had some unusual birds of late, including a pine siskin.
We've had some snow, which has been nice. I could do without the sub-zero cold, but that's life in the Midwest. Tonight is -14F, and it just gets worse tomorrow (-20). I'm leaving the taps running at a drip to try and help the pipes from freezing, but otherwise there isn't much we can do. Our place was built in 1968, so it isn't that terribly old. I'm very glad I'm not still living out in the country in that horrible, drafty old farmhouse. It would be an awful night out there.
Nope. Even that won't help at -20 degrees!
Outfit Particulars:
Boots-K Mart
Betsey Johnson bag-Goodwill
Sequin dress-Goodwill
Vintage 80's blazer-Goodwill (part of a suit)

For those that were wondering what a Stroopwafel is. Look Ann, I was thinking of you when I went shopping­čśü. If only we could join you at Dove Cottage for a cup of coffee.

If I'm not frozen into a block of ice, I'll see you in the New Year. I wish you all the very best for 2018.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Surrounded by Nuts

Danny finished his last nut challenge at the allergist today and is officially not allergic to peanuts or tree nuts. We celebrated by taking him out for ice cream, which is something he hasn't been able to do for 10 years due to cross-contamination fears.

He was incredibly lucky. Given the severity of his initial reaction, and the subsequent positive scratch tests, we never imagined he wouldn't be allergic to nuts. His former allergist didn't want to do a challenge, but when we switched doctors last year, it was brought up immediately. We didn't expect much, but here we are. That's not to say all scratch tests are false positives-I know for certain cashews and pistachios are deadly for me, but I have had reactions where I knew exactly what I had ingested-with Danny it was always uncertain. We'll never know what it was, but we now know what it wasn't.

We haven't eaten in a restaurant in ten years. I grew up seeing enough kitchens to know that the only nut-safe environment is a nut-free one.  Same for bakeries, food produced in facilities with nuts, etc. Basically, we've made everything ourselves, and relied on cheese and fruit when travelling. It can be done, and I suspect once Danny finds out how awful most commercially processed food is, he'll want to cook for himself again-but for now an exciting array of options is open to him.
It felt very strange buying these for him! When we were at the allergist's, I had to watch him eating spoonfuls of peanut and almond butter, and each time I winced as he raised the spoon to his mouth. After a decade of avoidance it will be strange seeing him eat without fear, and obsessive label checking.

I might not have gone the homeschooling route had I known he wasn't nut allergic (we lived in a very small town that would have had a hard time adjusting to one nut-allergic kid at school) but I don't regret it. We've spent more time together than most parents and children, and a good deal of that has been in the kitchen learning to take care of himself. I know Danny can shop, budget, and cook decently which as an older mother gives me one less thing to worry about. When my mum died, I didn't know how to do anything from boiling an egg to a load of laundry. If nothing else, he'll be ready to live on his own when I kick him out on his 18th birthday.

You really don't want to know how much money I dropped at World Market buying him exotic foodstuffs today. At least the Christmas items were 50% off! He might have to fight me for the penguin bars and stroopwafels­čśŐ.

I am going to continue posting nut-free alternatives to recipes as I get so many comments and emails telling me it is helpful. I've lived with a tree nut allergy since the 60's, but it was only when Danny was diagnosed that I took it as seriously as I should. I now know most of my reactions, when I swore I hadn't eaten nuts was likely cross-contamination. We have better labeling these days, and better treatments than chewing an antihistamine which was always worse than throwing up from the nuts. As a result of Danny's misdiagnosis, I've taken much better care of myself.  The whole thing still feels slightly unreal, but after 10 years of living in fear, it is a great relief.

Anyway, I'm sure he'll be acquainting himself with the local curry house any day now.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Think Spring

Only about 90 days to go until Opening Day!

So, we had a little snow for Christmas­čśü. It was great. The cold freeze that followed has been less fun, but you don't live in Nebraska if you can't take a little cold. Our snow is so dry you can't make a proper snowball out of it.

The jacket I'm wearing is a fun vintage piece by Nolan Miller part of his Dynasty Collection. He designed the clothes for the show, and I could just see Joan Collins wearing this as she throws around a baseball in the snow. "Here Krystal-CATCH you bitch!" Anyway, I adore the jacket big sequin trimmed shoulders and all.

Santa brought our Cubs fan some new attire.
He also brought him a peanut allergy challenge that was negative, which was the best gift of all. So no peanut allergy at all, and we need to go back and do the almond one, but then he's clear. We'll never know for certain what he reacted to in the tahini all those years ago, but it wasn't sesame or peanut (mould? Pesticide? ). The whole thing has been fascinating-how you can have a positive skin test and still not be allergic. It wasn't easy seeing him sit there eating peanut butter, even in a hospital setting, but it is done. It took about 3 hours as they only give a small bit at a time and then check your vitals every 20 minutes. So anyway, I agreed on a trip to Chicago this Spring so he can go to a baseball game. There aren't many reasons I'd go back to Chicago, but for my Cubs fan, I'll do it.
Still went nut-free on the Christmas cake though. The icing is nothing but butter and icing sugar with a bit of food colour. I was able to roll it out like fondant. It tastes better than fondant, and is less work.
 There was limpa bread (shown before baking)
And fish paella,
and leftover fish in pies. My favourite thing this year was the Christmas cabbage...
So bright in dreary winter.
 Danny has a new tea mug with a surprise...
Isn't that cute? Mr. ETB bought it for him. My gifts were on the hilarious side. A couple perfume bottles, which were normal enough, but then he bought me a Guerlain compact with pressed powder...for dark complexions. It is about time Guerlain started offering a more inclusive range, but as someone that often finds ivory shades too dark, I obviously don't need the darkest shade they make! If you looked up, "Pasty-faced white lady or, deathly white pallor" in the dictionary you'd find my picture­čśÇ. Ah well, the compact is nice. I really am pleased Guerlain is doing better with a range of skin tones-that always bugged me that they didn't.

I bought Mr. ETB a beautifully carved spurtle. It bothered me that he eats porridge every single day, and didn't own a spurtle. So that's remedied.
I wasn't kidding about the cold. Today we had-9 F. and this weekend they are expecting -17 F. I don't know what that is Celsius...about -21? Anyway, it sounds like a horrible way to spend New Year's Eve so thank goodness I'm too old to bother going out! We'll probably have a mini-Hogmany bash because I need an excuse to bake a black bun and drink too much. If it ever warms up I might wash my hair and do some proper photos but until then, I'm going to take advantage of everyone looking like crap in this cold.
Play ball!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas Everybody 2017

Well, we made it! Thanks to everyone for your wonderful comments and insights during this holiday brooch special. I had great fun doing it.

I hope you have a lovely holiday, or day off if it isn't your thing. I plan to spend the day sleeping.

Merry Christmas Everybody

Christmas Brooch of the Day-Day Twenty Six

I have owned the Donald Duck on skis since I was a small child. While not strictly a Christmas brooch, that was when I received it. Santa was purchased a few years ago at Goodwill.  

This snowflake is very delicate made of a thin, tin-like metal. As it bends easily, I tend to wear it on hats, or places where it is unlikely to get bumped by a shoulderbag or coat.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Worst Christmas Present Ever

I was at Big Lots today stocking up on sparkling apple juice for mocktails (not for me, obviously) when I spotted a four pack of Mitchum Deodourant elaborately packaged for holiday gift-giving. Uh, yeah! That says, "Merry Christmas" allright. I just can't. I mean, who would you give that to, even as a joke? Anyway, it gave me, and another shopper a good laugh as we pondered which executive thought they could sell more B.O. protection if they wrapped it in tinsel? It all felt very Reggie Perrin. 
This would make a lovely holiday gift. Did you see the news story about the elderly couple driving a van full of weed across the country to give as Christmas gifts to family back East? I immediately thought of this fragrance. It smells strongly of patchouli, but yeah, it also has that smell of a pipe that has ten year's worth of residue on it burning away like incense. I was never as interested in drugs as the people around me, which is probably for the best. I can barely stay awake after a couple cocktails these days. Anyway, for gift giving it is likely a better choice than a van full of  dope.
These vintage Avon earrings came in a bag of assorted items at the Sarpy museum sale. Still in the original box from the 70's, I couldn't get over how sweet they are. I would imagine as a stocking stuffer for a youngster they would have been a lovely gift, but I suspect they went instead to Nana, and she never wore them. I probably won't wear them either, but maybe someday I'll have a grandchild that will enjoy them. 
Speaking of Avon and Christmas...this lovely bottle of Moonwind  still smells great and does double-duty as a holiday decoration. Moonwind was such a lovely fragrance-green and woody with plenty of vetiver and oakmoss. I admit to stockpiling bottles of it because it is getting harder to find as people dump the fragrance, and try to sell the Avon bottles. Avon had some real beauties in the 70's (Charisma was another great one) that would rival many niche perfumes today. I'm not a perfume snob-I'm happy to wear Avon. 
I'm not icing the Christmas cake this year. Instead, I made some roll-out buttercream that I'll treat like marzipan and cut into designs. It takes well to tinting with food colouring. No one likes the hard, royal icing, so why bother? We'll have plenty of pretty things to look at on the table. 
Like a grilled cheese on stollen. That is Danny's creation. At least he didn't batter and deep fry it. 

For those of you that were curious about the turkey loaf, here it is fresh out of the oven. It took 2 1/2 hours to cook this thing. Anyway, they enjoyed it, so that's good.
This mini tree is great for my itchy nose. I was standing in front of the house posing for photos as my neighbours were moving out. I wonder if I had anything to do with it? I wouldn't want my kids growing up around me. Poor Danny.
Yeah...I'm pretty sure I'm the reason they're moving. Ah well, best of luck to them, but I know they'll miss me prancing around like a fool.

Okay, I'll leave you to your holiday planning just remember-deodourant, no matter how festive the packaging, is not an acceptable gift.

Christmas Brooch of the Day-Day Twenty Five

 I have a few brooches today as time is running out before Christmas.

 This tree sat in my repair pile for two years until I finally glued the red bead back on.
I have this identical reindeer in white.

We are in the home stretch now. I need to do a final photo with all of the brooches, which might prove challenging.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Some Clothes, Some Baking, etc.

That green tomato mincemeat I made and froze back at the end of summer? I knew it was a good idea. Having small packets I can defrost and use as-needed has been a great time-saver. I really want to make mincemeat tamales for Christmas morning, but I suspect the boys would prefer their usual limpa bread and stollen. Anyway, from now on it is frozen mincemeat for us-worked great!
I also baked Pulla buns. The cardamom buns are topped with a mixture of butter and sugar, then glazed and scattered with psrlsocker-in case they weren't sweet enough­čśĆ. I froze two dozen which should see us through winter along with the frozen panettone.

 Finally wore the crushed velvet palazzo pants. These are once-a-year trousers, so I got that out of the way.

Outfit Particulars:
Trousers-Bloomingdale's, early 90's
Poloneck-Can't remember
Lace jacket-Goodwill
Boots and hat-Both K Mart

 sooner or later I had to wear the plaid walking shorts. To avoid re-visiting an 80's preppy look, I wore them with a beaded top that must weigh five pounds. Definitely not preppy.
 What's this? Another red coat? This one is a polyester raincoat that has a matching maxi-skirt. I miss the 70's when you could get a coat to match your skirt. There's the sweetest red and white polka dot lining. The scarf was something I bought for Mr. ETB that he never wore.
Outfit Particulars:
1970's coat-New Life Thrift
1980's wool shorts-Goodwill
Boots-K Mart
Beaded 80's top-Hand-Me-Ups
Vintage Shiny Brite Christmas Corsage-Thrift World
Ornament earrings-Big Lots, I think

I like shiny things. This 80's evening coat is just my style. The hem is wired to make it even puffier,
Best thing to wear with gold? More gold, obviously.

Outfit Particulars:
Cachet 80's coat-New Life Thrift
80's beaded jacket-Goodwill
1960's polo neck with zip back-Goodwill
Lion handbag-New Life Thrift

We had a light dusting of snow, but it already melted. These pictures were taken on a 50 degree day-I just wanted to wear my vintage Snowland boots. Now we have cold, but it is sunny and the wind is calm, so I guess that will do.
Skirt and boots are vintage. Grey sparkly top is not.
"What do you mean, "No Owl? I'm right here, asshole." 
Someone dressed up the taxidermy at Chalco Hills NRD. 

I'm off to decorate the Christmas cake. Keep your fingers crossed I don't screw it up.

Christmas Brooch of the Day-Day Twenty Four

Lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with flu you.
I love all the details on this brooch from the hats on the riders to the holly on the sleigh. No markings, but it looks suspiciously like the sort of thing I'd buy at Woolworths in the 70's. I miss Woolworths at Christmas the most.
I don't remember where this dove came from.
And it wouldn't be Christmas without a few bows to wrap presents.
See you tomorrow.