a view from the laundry pile…

…it's all about perspective.

The Unillustrated Caption (aka: The Shorty…Part II)

A dear friend of mine just gave me a new title for my version of the Shorty; “The Unillustrated Caption” (he also said I was a “master” at this. I don’t know if that’s right, but I do like the way it feels to be considered one…).

As I said in a previous post, “Shorties” are 140 characters, or less, micro-fiction posts or, in my case, captions without pictures.  I love thinking them up because they make me laugh. Hopefully, they’ll give you a smile, too.

“Even though Bill knew it was easier to live on Tums, he told Rebecca how he really felt about her “meatloaf surprise.””

“Roy’s dream was realized when he found out that, with the help of an extension cord, he could dust the entire apartment with a hair dryer.”

“With the bulb in the refrigerator burned out, Renee was forced to blindly navigate her way through maze of containers and squishy zippy bags in search of the Nacho dip.”

“As Miriam hid behind the door, waiting for Arthur to come home from the hospital, she wondered if the surprise would be too much for him.”

“Janie didn’t have the heart to vacuum her floors as all the dust bunnies had become her “special little friends.””

“When Ron came home that evening, Jessica was busy baking a pie for the neighbors to make up for one of the twins throwing up on their Azalea bushes.”

“Jenny finally felt alive as she ate the cherry yogurt that was two days past its expiration date.”

“Louise hadn’t intended to clip the police car but, once she got the ticket, she secretly wished she had hit him harder.”

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Ghost ship

It was a gray, foggy morning here and Fred was finishing up a job downtown when he sent me a message to “grab my camera and come on down” if I wanted to get some neat pictures (he’s great at spotting wonderful photo opportunities for me!).

The last few mornings we’ve had the most delightful fog banks rolling through. They burn off by afternoon and the sun comes out but, while they’re here, it’s fun trying to get some interesting shots. Today I thought I’d do something different so I planted myself on a bench by the water and watched the ferry go in and out of the fog bank for a while.

It almost had an “ethereal” quality to it, just before it disappeared, as the fog horn echoed up and down the bay. What a great way to welcome Fall to the Pacific Northwest.

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Blueberry “Muffings” (as my niece used to say…)

After two years, and many threats of ending up as mulch in the worm bins, our blueberry bush finally produced this year. To date, about a pint. Mind you, this is big. The first year, it was nothing. Not one berry. Last year we had seven which Fred and I shared in our cereal that morning. Three berries for me, four for Fred. They were a little tangy and turned the milk blue but we ate them because we grew them.  

Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping

I found this wonderful recipe on Allrecipes.com (the link is at the bottom). The only thing I did differently was to add about 1/2 the topping (much more and I think it would’ve caused the muffins to sink) and change the white sugar to brown (only on the streusel topping) – but this is the original recipe. You can change what you want/how it would work best for you.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cup White Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/3 cup Milk
  • 1 cup fresh Blueberries (though I don’t know why you couldn’t use frozen – just add them last and right before you pop them into the oven).

Streusel Topping

Mix all these ingredients together, until it gets crumbly, and set aside.

  • 1/2 cup White Sugar (this is where I used brown sugar instead)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup Butter, cubed (I stick it in the freezer about 20 minutes then grate it with a hand grater. Really works!)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C).
  2. Grease muffin cups, including the top of the pan (the muffins will bake up and over a bit)
  3. Combine 1-1/2 cups milk, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  4. Place vegetable oil into a 1-cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup.
  5. Mix this with the flour mixture.
  6. Fold in the blueberries.
  7. Spoon into the cups, filling right to the top.
  8. Sprinkle each one with the streusel topping.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick or knife, placed in the center, comes out clean.
 This recipe makes 6 very large or 8 large muffins. You can make smaller ones, if you want, but you’ll probably have to cut down the baking time. Oh, and they freeze very well, too!
 
(And, I don’t see why you couldn’t use other fruits here, like other berries, peaches, or pineapple — as long as they’re the same size pieces as the blueberries, yeah? Oo! I think, next time I make these, I’ll try pineapple and add some ginger to the streusel topping! Yum!).
 
 

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe-Tools/Print/Recipe.aspx?recipeID=6865&origin=detail&servings=8&metric=false

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G’night sun!

While looking through my photos, in search of one for a friend of mine, I realized I’ve got a pretty cool collection started of the sunsets here. I guess they look different everywhere, each night, but there seems to be a lot more change here, from one evening to the next, than I remember living anywhere else. Here are a few of my favorites…

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Reusing a tin canister

As a lot of people, I love old tin canisters. I think about when they were made, what they held, and wonder about the people who had them before. They’re getting harder and harder to find as they grow in popularity making them nearly impossible to get ahold of anymore — at least, for a decent price. So, when I do visit yard sales and thrift stores I always look for large and/or interestingly shaped tins that are in good condition (ie; no weird smells or unknown goo on them…). A few weeks ago I struck gold (by my standards, anyway) and got 5 tins for around $5.  They range in size from a gallon down to about a pint. Two of them were genuine old tins and the other three were new. Fred thought I was nuts (nothing new here) when I bought the “christmas” tin but I really liked the shape and thought it would be perfect to hold my tea, once I “redecorated” it.

The first thing I did, after washing & drying it, was to apply a (gray) primer (I did not take a photo of this. However, if you look just behind and to the left of the picture here, you can see another tin I have primed). I used a spray primer that was for wood, plastic, metal, etc. in order to keep the next layers from peeling off.  Then I sprayed on a coat of cream color for my base. It took a few layers in order to cover the primer and I made sure to let them dry well, in between.

I found some sticker paper that would work in my ink jet printer then went online and found a couple of old French labels that were available to print out and use for my project. Of course, my color ink was low and the three labels I printed came out with no green. But, I rather liked the look of one of them and decided to use it, anyway (right after I ordered more ink cartridges…). 

The sticker paper is quite forgiving and it was easy to use. I did have to glue down the two edges that needed to go around the corners but that was no big deal.  A dab or two of tacky glue and I was set. I liked the way it looked but felt it was too “new” for what I wanted so I decided to ‘antique it a bit. I’ve done this, in the past, two different ways; either by brushing on a dark brown paint then rubbing the excess off with a cloth or adding some pigment (in the form of acrylic paint) to the sealer. For this project I chose to add a bit of brown acrylic to my matte varnish (I like this method better as I have better control over the amount of antiquing it gets. If you paint over varnish, it acts as a barrier to keep the paint/pigment from soaking in and drying too fast). 

I brushed this all over the tin with a paint brush (first the lid, then the container) and blotted it with a clean  dry cloth to smooth out any obvious brush marks (then I went back and picked out all the dog hairs. You may not have to do this in your house). I did two coats of this, letting each one dry in between (I wish I could get paid for waiting for paint to dry. I’d be rich…). Then I did a wet rub using solid brown acrylic paint (take a dab of paint on a wet rag and rub it all over the surface, removing the excess as you go). Once that was finished and dry, I applied a coat of clear, matte varnish to keep it all in place. I think this will look great on my shelf or out on my counter!

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Oh, deer!

We have a lot of deer here. They wander, pretty much, wherever they want. The only time it ever bothers me is when they chew up our veggies. Other than that, I rather like going out in the morning and seeing them in the yard. Last week there was a bit of a “traffic jam” down town due to a small herd of deer running down Main Street. I must admit, it was a bit weird watching deer run past my car (where other cars were supposed to be) as I was driving along.

This little guy showed up in our yard the other day, with his Mom, to munch on our apples. And he was cute as can be. I thought I could get closer to get a couple of good shots, so I quietly and slowly walked over to the garden fence and planted myself there. Though they’re not really afraid of people, I didn’t want to spook them and cause them to run into the street.

As I was taking photos of him, he started walking toward me, very curious about what I was doing. I was thrilled until I realized my zoom was completely off and all I could see in the view finder was his head. I lowered the camera and realized he was about 10 feet away from me. Though I loved the idea that he was so comfortable with me, I knew it wasn’t good for him, so I took a few steps back. (It’s never a good idea to try to get “friendly” with any wild animals – and I wasn’t sure his mother was so keen on this idea, either).

 After a few minutes, Mom decided it was time for them to go so, off they went into the bushes looking for more food and adventure. What a great experience.

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Shorties anyone?

A friend of mine, here in town, has recently gotten into “The Shorties” and has been posting his on his Facebook account. They are 140 characters, or less, micro-fiction posts on Twitter. Not being a twitterer (or is that tweeter?), myself, I had no idea what these were other than random, bizarre, (and wonderful) blurbs that he’d thought up — until he explained it to me. I was quite excited that he started doing this as I’ve been doing my own version of these for years but, mostly, only for my “altered art” photo greeting cards. I have no idea if what I’m doing “qualifies” as an “official” Shorty, all I care about is that I now have someone else to “play” with and it’s been a great way to start (or end) the day.

Though not everyone “gets” mine, with my weirdly dry sense of humor, they’re still worth the brain cells I’m sure I fry thinking them up, as they really do make me laugh out loud — which is a good thing, unless you’re walking down a grocery aisle by yourself or in the middle of a very bad piano recital.

Some represent real life (though I’ll never tell which ones) and some are just things I think would be ironic or odd scenarios that I’d find funny (which, if you know me at all, isn’t a big stretch). I think everyone has Shorty potential. You just have to want to do it. Here are some of mine to get you started…

“Donna pondered a different life as she listened to the priest doze off in the confessional.”

“Miriam was concerned about what the other ladies at the senior center would think if she dyed her hair “Frivolous Fawn.”” 

“Harold laughed at Bonnie when she mistook the toothpaste for face cream but secretly found himself attracted to her minty fresh jowls.”

“Wanting to show Jane his sensitive side, it never occurred to Gary that group therapy class may not have been the best choice for a first date.”

“Lorraine felt empowered as she sped down the hill on her bicycle with the wind whipping at all her jiggly bits and bugs getting caught in her hair.”

“Jenny would’ve been perfect for Hal had her laugh not sounded like a wounded hyena on crack.”
 
“Becky knew the party had taken a turn for the worse when Mr. Grabby Hands decided to join the Twister game.”
 
“Kevin didn’t notice the dog hair on the floor until his guests commented on the lovely carpeting. He thought it best not to tell them it was actually linoleum.”
 
“Bianca reminded herself that “all was fair in love and war” as she lobbed a melon at the tart trying to pick up the new produce boy she had had her eye on.”

“Hildy knew the answer to the question “does this make me look fat?” but asked anyway, just to see if anything had changed.”

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A trip to Sequim

Fred and I didn’t quite make it to the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Sequim. In fact, we couldn’t find the balloons, at all. We knew they were there, somewhere, but must have missed them (seriously, where do you hide a hot air balloon?). But, since we’d driven all the way there, we didn’t see any reason not to enjoy what we did find.

We stopped at the airport, where the balloons  were supposed to take off from, and took a peek around. As we were looking at this very cool, old, restored airplane (it even had fabric wings!), a nice elderly gentleman came up and asked Fred if he wanted to buy it. Of course Fred’s eyes lit up and he said he would love to if we could afford it (which we cannot, the scowl on my face reminded him) but they got to talking about it, anyway. After a few “oooh, I dunno’s” from the gentleman, he finally confessed that it wasn’t actually his plane to sell. He was just trying to see what he could get for it. We all had a good laugh at that one. After a bit more chatting, and a little bit of coaxing on my part, he told us the story of  the first time he ever went up in a plane. It was in one, just like this, when he was only 10-years old. He found out the plane ride would’ve cost him $10 and, in the late 1930’s, that kind of money was a small fortune, especially to a young boy. He ended up working 2 weeks, straight, pulling weeds and cleaning yards, to get the money he needed — but he got it. He said it was the best ride of his life. The pilot even gave him $5 back after it was over because, apparently, it was a pretty good ride for the pilot as well.

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Homemade Microwave Caramels

I got such a craving for caramels last night, so I dug out a recipe for them given to me by a dear friend last Christmas (yes, I could’ve just gone to the store and bought some but that would’ve made for a pretty boring blog, now, wouldn’t it…).

Up until I tried these, I’d never had the best of luck with candies (not owning a candy thermometer has something to do with this, I’m sure) and was a little leery. But, I’m always up for trying something new and thought I’d give it a shot. The worst that could happen was that I’d catch the microwave on fire…again.

The first batch turned out perfect so I tried another. Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! I was pretty happy to finally have an easy candy recipe (and it’s great for giving as a gift, for any occasion – and who wouldn’t want to open up a beautiful box or tin to find a batch of delicious homemade caramels?). 

Homemade Microwave Caramels

  • 1 cup melted Butter
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Light Corn Syrup
  • 14 oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla (or Vanilla Extract)

Mix the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a large microwave safe bowl (I think glass works the best). Cook on high for 5 minutes. Stir in the condensed milk and cook on high for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the microwave and mix in the vanilla, stirring well until it’s smooth. Pour into a buttered 9 x 13″ pan. Cool well. You can either cut it in the pan or remove it from the pan and cut it into squares. Wrap or layer (single layer) in wax paper and store in an airtight container.

NOTE: Not to “mother smother” but please use potholders, and be careful when working with this, as sugar is very hot when it’s in a liquid state — and this isn’t a good recipe for younger children to make and/or participate in.

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Birds of a feather…

We’re trying to take advantage of all the beautiful weather while we can so, last night after dinner, Fred and I took a walk by the water. We’d only gotten about 6 feet or so out onto one of the piers and noticed…well, heard two squawking seagulls just below us. Pretty soon they came floating out and we could tell, by their size and coloring, they were just youngsters. They awkwardly paddled for shore, waddled onto the beach, and continued their protest, only much louder this time.

Pretty soon Dad came flying in and it all made sense. One quick *barf* and voila! Dinner was served. (Okay, it could’ve been Mom but Dad does most of the feeding once the chicks are out of the nest).

The kids seemed pretty happy about the quality of their meal but were a little perturbed at the quantity. They wanted more and kept ‘picking’ at Dads bill in case they’d missed any scrumptious morsel.

Dad, in no uncertain terms, let them know that meal time was over and it was now time for their swim lesson (I thought you weren’t supposed to go into the water 30 minutes after eating? Guess that doesn’t apply to birds…).  Obviously they were still working on their balance as their little heads kept bobbing in and out of the water as they swam. But they seemed to love it.

We watched them paddle around for a bit longer and, before you knew it, the kids took off and were flying around the boats in the bay. They’d swoop and dive bomb each other, too…obviously siblings.

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