Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Bit like Christmas

As you probably already know, we feel strongly that each season should have its very own chance to shine. No mums on the porch while the geraniums are still going strong. No wreaths out before the pumpkins are composted. And no petunias while the spring bulbs and ephemerals are still putting on a show. It's just common courtesy. Daffodils have feelings too you know.

Well, the pumpkins are in the bin, the leaves are (mostly) raked, and the calendar agrees... It is time for the holiday greenery and lights to have a turn. Temps above freezing are expected for today and snow flurries are predicted tomorrow. Even though it is our tradition to hang the outside decor with noses running and fingers freezing, every few years there is an exception to our usually poor timing and the ritual is actually a pleasant one.

Thank you to all the happy pruners around town (and country) for the lovely greens and the beautiful bunch of red twig dogwood delivered conveniently to the municipal and neighborhood yard waste dumps.

The 2011 neighborhood light show is looking great by the way. Neighbors new and old are outdoing themselves with festive front porch frippery. It will be a beautiful walk for carolers, strollers, and even the mailman (who is now delivering in the dark) throughout the holiday season.

There is one exception to our overlapping-seasons rule. Approval is granted for outdoor lights remaining lit well beyond December 25. It helps to bring a little brightness to our very bleak midwinter. Please, just make sure they are unplugged before you are hanging Easter eggs from your shrubs. Thank you.

Monday, November 28, 2011

That's How the Cookie Crumbles

After a quarter century of mixing, scooping, swatting little hands out of the bowl, losing focus and burning the last pan, our days of routine cookie baking are numbered. Later this week the last child will be a child no longer. This youngest boy, the non-dough eater, prefers this cookie over all others. The two dough eaters in the family like it too. According to them it is like eating raw breakfast on a spoon with chocolate chips added.

Chewy Choc-Scotch-Oat-Chip Cookies
(a hybrid of Quaker Choc-Oat-Chip Cookies crossed with Nestle Oatmeal Scotchies)


1/2 pound (2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened
1 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, beat margarine and sugars until creamy. Add eggs, milk and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda and salt; mix well. Add oats, chocolate chips and nuts, if desired; mix well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 9 to 10 minutes for a chewy cookie or 12 to 13 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.


Photos and taste testing: S. Plasch

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Small Saturday Shopping

Relax, enjoy, and be inspired to support a small business, or DIY far from the madding mall.

Another pretty perusing possibility from Emily Henderson.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Local - It's for Smart Yokels

Here is the perfect opportunity to shop, show your local pride, support some hometown kids who done good, and stay in your jammies and out of the crush of the big-box stores today.

Lots of good stuff inside Volume One's Gift Worthy goods. See the last page for Black Friday deals.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bag O' Sliders, Hold the Pickles

Year after year we have been tempted by this coupon in the Thanksgiving week ad inserts. It's time to go for it. This is the year we make White Castle Holiday Stuffing.

Perhaps we will make a few slippery side dishes while we're at it. Nobody's choking on dry turkey this year!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Best Darn Yarners

A recent estate sale find reminded us that it is getting to be the time of year for tall tales, fibs, creative fabrications and recreational prevaricating.

World renown Burlington Liars Club, chooses the Championship Lie for 2011 on December 31. To submit your tall tale, send $1.00 with your entry to Burlington Liars Club, P.O. Box 156, Burlington, WI 53105.

It will be hard to top last year's winner, but maybe you will find inspiration from conversation around the holiday table this year. Just ask Grandpa about that walk to school. Once he's warmed up who knows what doozies will follow.

2010 winner:

“I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met.” - David Milz, Bristol, Wisconsin


“My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying.” - Ellen Everts, New London, Wisconsin

“My neighbor’s scarecrow was so good that the crows brought back the corn they stole last year.”
- Daryl Lockwood, Waupaca, Wisconsin

It seems that just as "Virginia is for Lovers", "Wisconsin is for Liars". marketing motto? Nah, no one would believe it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Let Your Fingers do the Walking

In the comfort of your armchair enjoy some shopping from Creature Comforts' Gifted Magazine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Very Best Find Ever

It was a tent sale miracle.

Never seen before or since. Just one pair of the cutest Eric Carle Hungry Caterpillar shoes ever. And not found by us! Hope the lucky recipient appreciates the excellent shopping skills of the thoughtful gift giver.

Field trip anyone?

Friday, November 11, 2011

La Guerre des Films

On our recent trip to France... we saw reproduction vintage posters for La Guerre des Boutons scattered throughout the Metro stations. With our limited language skills we determined that showings of the film being advertised were in conjunction with the release of a new version of the movie based on an even older book of the same name.

Back at home, while researching the entire topic of La Guerre des Boutons (because of course we are all over anything button-related) we were, as often the case, confused. This time however, it was with good reason. 2011 sees the release of not one, but two versions of the same story. Here we try to sort it out for you (because we know you will not sleep well until we do) even though it is unlikely that we will have access to any of the film versions of this French story.

La Guerre des Boutons or War of the Buttons is a 1962 French film directed by Yves Robert, about two rival kid gangs whose playful combats escalate into violence. The title derives from the buttons that are cut-off from the rival team's clothes as combat trophies. The film is based on "La Guerre des Boutons" a novel by Louis Pergaud (1882-1915), who was killed in action in the First World War and whose works portray a fervent anti-militarism.
The young and largely untrained actors included André Treton ("Lebrac"), Michel Isella ("l'Aztec") and Martin Lartigue ("Petit Gibus"). The character Petit Gibus's line of dialogue - uttered in frustration - "si j'aurais su, j'aurais pas v'nu" ("if I woulda known, I wouldn'ta come"), with its incorrect grammar (the correct form should be: "si j'avais su, je ne serais pas venu") has become a familiar tagline in France (the line was not in the original novel). - Wikipedia

1962 original La Guerre des Boutons by Yves Robert.

2011 remake number one by Yann Samuel.

2011 remake number 2 (la nouvelle) by Christophe Barratier.

Whew. That was alot of work. Didn't know what we were getting into. Si j'aurais su, j'aurais pas v'nu.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Best Buds

Just a couple of delicate, fragrant, humidity and light sensitive hothouse flowers.




Friday, November 4, 2011

Miracle Worker

Visiting the old alma mater and hometown we were pleased to see that at least one thing was not smaller than we remembered it. This legendary giant of the Indiana educational system tried to teach us driving and U.S. History, but even a veteran teacher such as Henry "Hank" Clason could only do so much with what he had to work with. We stayed awake in one class better than the other. And we suppose that if polled, most people would say that the more important subject to be alert for is the one that affects public safety. If we ever make it to Who Wants to be a Millionaire we'll be phoning a friend from a little higher up on the honor roll for names, dates, and places.

Since that barely-worth-mentioning incident in 1974 of over-correction into a tulip bed, and except for a few warnings for small matters like running lights that were (we swear) 3/4 yellow or driving a couple miles over the posted limit, our record is pretty clean. Ticket-wise that is.

There was that time we pulled away from the filling station before returning the gas nozzle to the pump.....

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Astrantia - Great Masterwort

It took awhile, but we have finally made a positive ID on this enchanting plant that we encountered on our tour of England and its Gardens. Astrantia, AKA - Great Masterwort is hardy in zones 4 - 9, but if we can find it we will plant it and give it a try. Let us know if you spot plants or seeds of this lovely specimen and we will do the same for you.

Astrantia is a genus of herbaceous plants in the family Apiaceae, endemic to Central, Eastern and Southern Europe and the Caucasus. The Genus name comes from the Greek word for star in reference to the star-like quality of the flower heads. There are 8 or 9 species, which have aromatic roots, palmate leaves, and decorative flowers. They are commonly known as great masterwort, which may be confused with masterwort, Peucedanum ostruthium.- Wikipedia