Monday, December 29, 2008

I love Christmas

I love it even more when it's over.


It was a great Christmas. My babies were here...which is a rare treat...and we got along fabulously. I mean, I love 'em both to death. But when we three are together for any extended length of time, we...well...we get on each other's nerves, to be honest. Jules has her way of doing things and I have mine. And we're both pretty stubborn. (Wonder where she got that?) And Karsin is...well, she's 9. And she's a lot like both of us. Need I say more?

Poor Ziggy. Stuck right smack-dab in the middle of three stubborn females. hehe

Anywho, it was great. It would have been even better if I'd have not gotten sick the day after. (Aaaachoo!) Luckily, it just seems to be a little head cold...alternating snotty/stuffy nose, headache, sneezing and just feelin like shit, in general. I started pokin Zicam up my nose as soon as I started feelin crappy on Friday and today I feel a little better.

(Karsin farted!) hehe

I wish I'd have had the camera in my hands when I suggested that next year, we all should volunteer somewhere on delivering Christmas dinner or toys or something. The look of pure...horror on Jules' face was priceless. Until I explained that it wouldn't take the whole day. And I reminded 'em of how lucky we all are to have jobs and family and plenty to eat and waaay more toys than any one child should have.

Case in point:

Jules and I both added to Da Zigster's extensive t-shirt collection.

And Simon...

...had a blast with all the ribbons and wrappings.

Stewie, on the other hand, was his more-than-usual curmudgeonly self. When he wasn't hiding from all the frivolity somewhere, he was hissing and growling. Asshole cat.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Eve cooking frenzy

Somebody stop me!

C is for cookie...

In this case, it's Paula Deen's recipe, initially found at
  • Chrissy's
  • . However, I decided to experiment a usual. Oh, I made chocolate, fer sure...Devil's Food, to be more accurate. But I used a Red Velvet cake mix for the red ones and a yellow mix...with a tablespoon of lemon extract...for the yellow ones.

    Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies
    1 8 oz. brick cream cheese, room temperature
    1 stick butter, at room temperature
    1 egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 (18 oz) box moist chocolate cake mix
    Confectioner's sugar for dusting

    Preheat oven to 350.

    In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the batter into balls. roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in the powdered sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart and bake 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and gooey. Cool completely and sprinkle with more powdered sugar, if desired.

    I also snagged some pre-packaged cookie mixes at the store and made Peanut Butter-Pecan, Sugar with Mini-M&Ms and Sprinkles and Chocolate Chip...with extra chips! Now, that's about as easy as ya can get.

    After all this dessert-type stuff, I needed a break. Soooo........

    Another killer from Paula's kitchen. (Gawd, but I love her!)

    Sweet Chicken/Bacon Wraps
    3-4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    1 lb. package sliced bacon (Mmmmmm...bacon!)
    2/3 C dark brown sugar
    2 tablespoons chili powder

    Preheat oven to 350.

    Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes. Pull out the whole slab of bacon and cut it into 3 equal-sized pieces. Wrap each chicken cube in one piece of bacon and secure it with a toothpick. Stir together brown sugar and chili powder, roll each piece of bacon-wrapped chicken in mixture, place on wire rack on baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until brown sugar and bacon are all caramelized.

    I sounds kinda bizarre. But the chili powder and brown sugar just seem to have an affinity for each other. Oh, and this time, I cubed up my chicken, put it in a bowl, sprinkled a little "Liquid Smoke" in, mixed up the whole mess and let it marinate for a couple hours.


    My very own recipe for Stuffed 'Shrooms

    1 package Low Sodium Chicken Stove-Top Stuffing
    1/4 C finely chopped onion
    1 T dried celery flakes
    2 T butter
    2 packages of large, fresh button "stuffing" mushrooms

    Preheat the oven to 350.

    When you put the water on to boil for the stuffing mix, add the onion, celery flakes and butter. Then prepare the stuffing mix per the box's directions and let it cool. Pop out the stem from each mushroom and save for...something. Brush each 'shroom off with a damp paper towel and place on foil-covered baking sheet. Stuff each one with the cooled stuffing mixture, sprinkle the tops with Hungarian Paprika and bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the 'shrooms.

    I also made a big batch of Dill Pickle Wraps

    1 jar small dill pickles, drained
    1 block cream cheese, softened
    1 large package thin-sliced deli turkey

    Let the pickles drain on some paper towels. Spread a little of the softened cream cheese on each slice of butterin' yer bread...and wrap a pickle up in each slice. Put 'em back in the fridge to harden up again and then slice 'em in half. You can also use the long spears (drain and blot really well) and slice 'em into bite-sized pieces.

    Now, poke a fork in me, honey...cause I'm done for the day.

    Have a very Merry Christmas!

    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    From Christmases past

    I was browsin through the ole
  • archives
  • and ran across this little gem from a couple years ago....

    T'was A Couple Months Before Christmas

    By Ziggy

    (With apologies to Clement Moore...and most of the rest of the civilized world.)

    T'was a couple months before Christmas and throughout Carriage Hill
    Not a creature was stirring, not even Nabeel
    The flamingos were hung by the chiminea with care
    In hopes that St. Buffett soon would be there

    And Zig in his dermis and Pammy in her (BLEEP!)
    Had just settled down for a long weekend sleep
    When out in the hall there arose such a ruckus
    That Ziggy sat up and said, "What the fuck's this?!"

    A knock at the door - from the frozen North Pole?
    Just to be sure, we checked the peep-hole
    Not Jimmy, not Santa, no not in the least
    But two little guys from the steamy Mid-East

    We opened the door for the little brown man
    His problem, it seemed, was a massive divan
    He and his pal got it up the first flight
    But the turn on the landing turned into a fright

    He said, "I am sorry to bother you so
    Our new sofa is stuck and we can't make it go
    Up the next set of steps, then we still have one more
    We have engineering degrees, but our planning is poor."

    There they both stood with a hide-a-bed couch
    Just the thought of it's weight made my scrotum say, "OUCH!"
    It was new, you could tell by the cardboard and plastic
    But their efforts to move it were just short of spastic
    It was jammed at the turn and hung up on the railing
    They were sweating and panting, but their muscles were failing

    "We thought if one end was moved into your doorway
    The other'd swing 'round and we'd be well gone on our way."
    A logical plan, we thought to ourselves
    That would work if these guys weren't the size of two elves

    Pammy said, "Well ya know, if you'd take off the packing
    You'd gain a few inches that, so far, you've been lacking.
    You could then make the turn and not be stuck in our foyer."
    But the two little fellows just seemed to ignore'er

    No matter how jammed or hung up on the rail
    They were NOT taking advice from a lowly female
    More grunting and straining and pushing and stuff
    But the couch didn't move and we'd about had enough

    So Zig said, "You know, if you'd take off the packing
    You'd gain the few inches that, so far, you've been lacking."
    So the packing came off of the stubborn divan
    The idea would work fine, it seems, if expressed by a man

    Zig got on one end and the elves on the other
    He braced his feet and gave a shove on that Mother
    Well that's all it took for the couch to break free
    As their roommate arrived, and then there were three
    Three Mid-Eastern guys, two more flights of stairs
    But they're out of our doorway and now it's all theirs

    And what about Buffet, well he'll be along
    He's bringing Corona and a beachcomber's song
    And Mid-Eastern guys who knock on our door
    We don't think about them a bit anymore

    Flamingos glow softly by our Christmas tree
    And bring Key Largo memories for Pammy and me
    Our Christmas traditions are slightly offbeat
    Flamingos and palm trees and lobsters to eat
    Thinking of beaches and not about snow
    And don't ask what goes on 'neath our mistletoe

    So another year passes and we're doing swell
    And to you, dear readers, a joyous Noel!

    And, from
  • last year
  • , which included the "Vision of Sugarplums" photo of Karsin. I think it's my favorite.

    Ain't she just the cutest little thang?

    Sandy Claws...

    ...and Snoozy Claws...

    ...both wish y'all a very Meowy Christmas!

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    Oooo...the weather outside is frightful...

    ...but the fire is so delightful...

    Yea. The ole thermometer is readin a big, fat 0. Zero. Nada. To top it off, we're havin like major wind today, which brings the wind chill factor down to a nice, frigid -20 or so. Lovely.

    The big, sparkly dragonflies on our tree remind me of the nicer...gentler...days of May...when we usually have our first Mayfly "bloom". (sigh)

    Da boys decided that they'd interrupt their normal routine of nappin, bird watchin and more nappin for a game of Hide 'n Seek. So Simon hid...

    ...while Stewie...seeked.

    Friday, December 19, 2008

    Trapped!! (Updated)

    Send food and beer!

    We...literally...can't get out of our house.

    The doors are all frozen shut.

    You'll hafta forgive the quality of the photos...I was takin 'em from inside the house. Cause I can't get outside.
    (Click to embiggen.)

    See that little tree the middle...the one with no top? Yea. That would be the huge CRRRAAACCCKKKK! followed by the big BOOOOM! we heard a while ago.

    I can't believe we still have power. Last I heard, there were about 20-some thousand in Central Illinois without.

    There's probably a good quarter of an inch...up to a half inch in some places...of ice, ice, baby...coating everything. Luckily, it looks like the temps are coming up, so hopefully, it won't hang around long.

    Da Zigster chopped and hacked his way outside and took a few more photos:

    Still have power. Limbs are still falling. Still waitin on the helicopters to drop the emergency food and beer. heh

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Whatcha got to say about that, Al?

  • WEEK

  • Central Illinois is in store for another round of travel troubles Thursday when a potential ice storm moves into the Midwest from the Four Corners Region. The National Weather Service office in Lincoln is already heading caution by posting a Winter Storm Watch that will go into effect from Thursday afternoon through late Thursday night. Counties in the watch area include: Knox, Stark, Peoria, Marshall, Woodford, Fulton, Tazewell, and McLean. Freezing rain is expected to develop across the watch area Thursday. This rain will freeze on contact with the ground and elevated surfaces causing icy conditions. Ice accumulations of one quarter inch or greater are possible, especially for areas along and north of a Fulton to McLean county line. A Winter Storm Watch means there is a potential for significant snow, sleet or ice accumulations that may impact travel.

    Global warming, my ass.

    Al Gore is an opportunistic, lying, gasbag who knows just exactly how to play on the fears of the tree-hugging sheeple.

    (YouTube clip swiped from
  • Pamibe
  • )

    Sunday, December 14, 2008

    Things I don't remember...

    ...and other stuff.

    A meme, swiped from
  • ElCap

  • Do you remember your first favorite song? If so, what was it?
    Good gawd. I don't remember what I had for supper.

    What do you refuse to eat?
    There are a few things that I don't much care for. But refuse? I really can't think of a thing. Except maybe
  • Durian
  • .

    Have you ever injected any kind of drug before?
    Too many times to count. Oh. Wait. Ya mean injected into me? Nope.

    Do amusement park rides make you sick?
    Didn't used to. Do now.

    Who is your favorite Star Wars character?
    I'm very proud to say that I've never seen Star Wars. Just not a big sci-fi fan.

    What kind of cheese do you put on your sandwiches?
    I'm a cheesehead. Swiss. Provolone. Pepper Jack. Cheddar. Pasteurized Processed Cheese Product. It's all good.

    What was the first thing you ever learned how to cook?
    Probably a tv dinner. I've come a looooong way, baby.

    Did you ever collect beanie babies?
    Again, proud to say "Nope".

    When's the last time you got a haircut?
    Last Friday, in fact.

    Have you ever been to a bachelor/bachelorette party?

    Where are you most ticklish on your body? neck, I think.

    Have you ever bailed anyone out of jail?

    What's the last board game you played?

    Do you still own any VHS tapes?
    I don't think so.

    Do you shop at JC Penney's ever?

    If there was a real Jurassic Park, would you visit it?

    Do you ever read the newspaper?
    Every day.

    Do you eat your mac & cheese with a fork or a spoon?
    Anything other than a fork is uncivilized.

    Is there any medicine/pill you take everyday?

    How many 20 dollar bills do you have on you right now?
    Three, I think.

    Would you do meth if it was legalized?

    Do you think Obama will be assassinated?
    I think maybe some whackjob'll try.

    Have you ever made out with someone and then never saw them again?
    Um. I was a hippie-chick. It was like...a rule.

    Do you drink egg nog?
    Love it.

    What are you wearing?
    Geeze...the last time somebody asked me that, it was over the phone. heh

    Friday, December 12, 2008

    I need a little...


    Geeze...what'd ya think I was gonna say??

    Nothin like tryin to do fifty-three things at once.

    I dunno what it is with me. I alternate between sittin here like a lump and startin four or five projects at the same time. I dunno why the hell I can't just start one thing at a time...and finish it. Or just sit here like a lump and forget the whole damn mess.

    Take fr'instance right now...I'm tryin to get started on my present-wrappin, cook a big ole pan of hot wings, watch "Little Women" on TCM and whip up a few more "gourmet" dipped pretzels for presents...all while browsin through YouTube.


    And, for some reason, I have the song "We Need a Little Christmas" runnin through my head like a friggin hamster on a wheel. Probably cause the song's kinda...frenetic. I mean...they need all these things...holly and carols and spinets and stockings and fruitcakes and candles in the window and they need 'em right now.

    Soooo...whilst browsin through YouTube, I ran across this little gem...

    Well, I did say "fruitcake", didn't I?

    I think my wings are done.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    What's for supper?

    'Tis the be busy.

    Shopping for presents. Decorating your home. Planning get-togethers with family and friends. Baking, making and creating...cookies, candies and homemade gifts.

    Who the hell's got time to make dinner?

    I do! And so will you.

    This casserole has been a family favorite for literally years. I "discovered" it during a potluck dinner that was given by the church ladies after the funeral of my ex's grandmother some...oh...thirty-odd years ago. Ya just know there's gonna be some good eats when the church ladies fix a dinner.

    The funny thing is, I'd have never...ever...tried the recipe if I hadn't tasted it first. One ingredient just sounded too...strange to me. I'd have never thought of adding Chow Mein noodles to a casserole. But trust me...after it's done, ya won't even recognize 'em. of our favorites:

    Six Cans and a Chicken Casserole

    1 large can Chow Mein noodles
    1 small can Durkee french fried onions
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
    1 can evaporated milk
    2-3 cups cooked, diced chicken
    Salt/pepper to taste

    Throw it all together in a bowl, mix it up good, give your favorite casserole dish a shot of non-stick spray, throw the mixture in the dish and bake it at 350* til it's golden brown and bubbling.

    Serve with a nice green veggie or salad.

    Poof! It's supper.

    Because I try to make most things a little healthier, I use the lower sodium/low fat soups and fat-free evaporated milk. I really don't notice any difference, but...ya each his own. I've used leftover baked chicken (pull the skin off first), leftover grilled chicken or boiled boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs...doesn't's all good.

    Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    It's called Karma... mugging, lying, corrupt Chicago cocksucker, you.

    Soon to be ex-governor,
  • Blagojevich
  • was arrested this morning.

    The only reason I'm surprised is because it took so long.

    Ya just kills me...all his cronies are on tv, spouting off about what a terrible thing this is for the state of awful it is...yada, yada, yada. And, all the while, ya just know most of 'em are either sighin in relief that it wasn't them...There but for the grace of god go I...or shittin their pants whilst waitin for the hammer to fall on them.

    Yea, it is an awful thing for Illinois...but we have only ourselves to blame. After all, we're the ones that put the bastard in office...twice.

    I just hope ole Goblowmebitch'll get exactly what's comin to him. But I ain't holdin my breath.

    Merry Christmas, Illinois!

    You can read the entire criminal complaint
  • here
  • .

    Sunday, December 07, 2008

    Random thoughts

    * 17 degrees is entirely too fuckin cold.

    * Did you remember that today is "the day that will live in infamy"? I did. I'm not sure why I remember it...I was but a mere twinkle in dear old Dad's eye in 1941. I'm sure I heard enough about it when I was a kid to permanently embed it in some distant brain cell.

    * I've felt really bad all week. But today, I felt nearly...normal. So I decided to get a little Christmas shoppin in. Strike while the iron was hot and all that. The stores were jam-packed and most of the check-out lanes were a mile'd never know that there's a recession goin on. I did manage to find almost everything I went lookin for, though. Even better, my stamina held out long enough for me to do it.

    * We have two cats. Neither has been declawed, so I try to do a "caticure" every few weeks. By nature, Simon is laid-back and mellow. Until it comes to clippin his nails. He doesn't go wild, but he ain't too happy about it. Stewie, on the other hand, is the very antithesis of "mellow", especially when it comes to trimmin the ole claws. Imagine tryin to trim the claws on a tiger. Somebody's gonna wind up bloody...and it ain't gonna be him. So when I was in Target today, I snagged a
  • Pedi-Paws
  • . If it goes well, I'll letcha know.

    If not, I'll post the pictures of my shredded arms.

    * I bought one of these...

    ...last year during the after-Christmas clearance. Da Zigster got it put up today and it's cute as hell.

    Thursday, December 04, 2008

    The weekend of living dangerously

    I'm still recuperating.

    The quarterly
  • Two Fat Ladies Weekend
  • happened last weekend.

    Good lawd! Where do I start?

    I suppose I hafta start with the fact that last weekend was Thanksgiving weekend. "Black Friday". The busiest shoppin weekend of the year. Traffic snarls that could make a nun cuss like a stiffed, one-eyed whore.

    Just before I left home, I called my cohort in crime, Jill, to tell her I'd be there in an hour to pick her up. forgot about Peoria's Santa Clause Parade.
    I got caught right smack-dab in the middle of that mess. It took me a hugely illegal U-turn right in the middle of Washington street...and forty-five get outa town.

    About two hours later, we're on our way.

    I decided to take the scenic route to St. Charles, a 'burb of St. Louis, rather than the interstate. That was pretty much the smartest thing I did all weekend. It took a little longer, but the traffic was great.

    We got to our hotel, got checked in and headed downtown to grab an early supper...a delicious rib-eye sammich at
  • RT Weilers
  • . Downtown
  • St. Charles
  • was all duded up for Christmas. White lights strung in all the trees that line Main Street. Carolers dressed in old-fashioned garb. It was gorgeous. Of course, I didn't get any photos even though I did remember the camera. Duh.

    Stuffed full of rib-eyes, we decided to try our luck at the casino. And that's all I've got to say about that.

    On the way back to the hotel, we decided to gamble (botulism and e-coli, be damned!) a little more and grab a bag 'o burgers at a nearby
  • Jack in the Box
  • . Not having eaten fast food for quite a while now, I've gotta was pretty tasty.

    Saturday was "shopping day". Jules wanted to take us to this designer knock-off handbag place she said was in the 'hood. Handbag whore that I am, I was all for it, 'hood or not. But *I* wanted to drive. See, Jules' drivin scares the shit outa me. Especially in St. Louis traffic. So, with her ensconced as "navigator", we headed toward St. Louis proper. Dandy.

    Except Jules, bless her wittle heart, we say a bit directionally challenged?

    Drivin in 70 mile-an-hour, bumper to bumper, four and six lane traffic, I'd ask her what lane I needed to be in or what exit I needed to take. She'd say, "left". I'd head across four lanes and arrive without managing to create a 15 car pileup, only for her to say, "Uh...I mean right".

    We finally find the place, only to be confronted by a jam-packed parkin lot, full of gigantic SUVs, Cadillacs and BMWs...all sportin black-tinted windows and spinners.

    Well...she did tell us it was in the 'hood, didn't she?

    Passing four of St. Louis' finest, who are pretty much stationed in the parkin lot during business hours, we entered It was like a giant, ghetto flea market. No, it was a giant, ghetto flea market. As promised, it was just chocked full of designer knockoffs. Handbag heaven. Sorta. Prada. Jimmy Choo. Dooney & Burke. Chanel. Dolce & Gabbana (my personal fave). Coach. Pick a designer name and they had it. And amazingly enough, most were high quality knockoffs...and you could dicker. A little.

    Anywho, we spend an hour or so there, snag a coupla bags and decide we wanna head to
  • Garden Ridge
  • . We pull outa the parkin lot and head the direction that Jules says she's "certain" the store is.

    Um hmm. Remember? I said she was directionally challenged.

    We turn left...and drive...and drive...and drive. And as we drive, the is gettin more...uh...well, let's just say it was startin to look like...well, hell. We were in the ghetto. I mean IN. We wound up in
  • Wellston
  • , a perfectly lovely little 'burb of St. Louis, which, as the City Data site tells me, is about five percent white and ninety-five percent...not.

    Oh, hell. Our little pasty-white faces were the only ones within 10 miles. Remember the scene in National Lampoon's Vacation where Chevy and family get lost in St. Louis? Uh huh.

    When we discovered just exactly where we were, Jules started to sweat. Jill and I, on the other hand, thought it was kinda funny. Well, at least I did. Jill, safely tucked in the back seat was probably a little rattled, but she didn't say a word. heh

    Deciding that maybe Jules didn't know where the Garden Ridge store was, after all, we headed back the way we came, found some lunch and a nice, safe Kohl's. We shopped there for a bit, then headed back to Julie's and dropped her off. Thinkin that we didn't have our pee-pees slapped enough the night before, off we went to the casino again. I mean...we did manage to survive our little trip to Wellston unscathed. Lady Luck must be smilin on us, right?

    Well, she smiled on Jill. She flipped me the bird. (sigh)

    Already becoming creatures of habit, we stopped at Jack in the Box on the way back to the hotel. this time, it was like 11 at night...and St. Charles isn't exactly a late-night, fine dining kinda town. A word of warning, though, peeps...don't try the tacos at Jack in the Box. I think they import 'em directly from Mexico.

    Sunday morning dawned, cold and snowy. Snow? Shit. But it wasn't bad, so we figured we'd get a little more shoppin time in before headin north. The trip home was good...until after I dropped Jill off. From Lewistown to Chillicothe, I drove through snow, rain, sleet, fog and more snow. At night. Did I mention that I can't see worth shit at night?

    At any rate, I finally made it home, safe and sound. And exhausted.

    But we had a blast, as usual. And I even managed to get a good portion of my Christmas shoppin done...despite the casino takin a bite outa my budget.

    Can't wait to do it again!

    Except for the Jack in the Box tacos.