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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pancake day

There was a time that I made pancakes on a regular basis.  It was always a cosy affair.  I would prepare the batter, the Teflon pans would be oiled, the house would be filled with a wonderful aroma, and once the pancakes were ready family and friend would gather around the table.

Then I learned that Teflon pans can be poisonous.

I didn’t hesitate, I threw my pans out and for the longest time that was the end of making pancakes.

Then a friend recommended that I use a stainless steel pan instead.  I had a look at stainless steel pans and … oh dear, they were rather pricy.

I waited patiently and eventually my patience was rewarded.  Canadian Tire put their stainless steel pans on special and I was quick to snatch one up. 

The following Saturday was D-day, or shall I say P-day for pancake day.  I prepared the batter, heated up the new pan and spooned some batter on it.  At first it looked okay, but when I wanted to turn the pancake over, it stuck to the pan like glue.  

Keeping in mind the saying “When at first you don’t succeed, try again” I scrubbed the pan clean and gave it another shot.  Unfortunately, with the same result.

I tried another pan, one that I had used before to fry eggs.  At the time the eggs slid smoothly off the pan, so I figured, maybe the pancake would be just as easy to remove.  I was wrong, the pan held on to the pancake for dear life.

Damn I thought, now what?  I had my heart set on eating pancakes that day and I knew I wasn’t the only one.  I had to make a plan.

Then I remembered … my cookware is Lagostina and the pans are supposed to be non-stick.  Maybe I should put it to the test.  If it didn’t get any better, it certainly couldn’t get any worse.

I grabbed the pan, oiled it, spooned batter on to it and waited.  When the time came to turn the pancake over I held my breath … would it work?  To my utter surprise, I was able to effortlessly turn the pancake.  Well I be damned.  If I had known this, I could have made pancakes years ago and didn’t have to buy a stainless steel pan that didn’t work.

With this success in mind, I’m ready to try my hand at some other baking projects: cookies – cupcakes and bread.  I’ll keep you posted how that goes.  Given my previous flops I’ll put 911 on speed dial, just in case ...

Friday, July 20, 2012

A day in the life of a klutz

I’m the first to admit, I’m a bit of a klutz. 

Whenever I visit the mall, I’m hesitant in going into a china shop, because with my luck I will knock something down.  I am literally one of these people who can only be trusted around plastic or wood.

Take last night for instance.  When it was time for bed, I switched off the light in the living room and accidentally knocked down an ornament of four birds sitting on a stone.
Part of the “stone” was missing and I spent the next ten minutes picking up pieces that had scattered all over the lounge and dining room. 

And then I noticed it ... the stone was not the only thing that was damaged, a bluebird was missing its head.  Oh dear.  I looked everywhere, on the floor, on the carpets, in the chairs ... the bluebird’s head was nowhere to be found.  The next morning I looked again in the light of day, but still, no head.

Later that day I ran into a bit of trouble, literally.  Was it the missing head or something else, I don’t know, but I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing.  While going around the dining room table, I took my corner to sharp and knocked my hip into the side of the table.  OMG but that hurt.  Fortunately it’s an oval table and not a rectangular one or it would have hurt even more.

From there on, it went from bad to worse.  While making a bed, I managed to knock my shin on one of the corners.  Bloody hell, that was nothing to sneeze at either.  For the next minute or so I did the hold-one-leg-and-hop-around-on-the-other dance. 

Was that the end of it?  No.  At lunchtime I went to the kitchen to fix myself something to eat.  The kitchen is the last place for a clumsy person to hang out, but what can you do.  Food isn’t going to make itself.  I put a plate of leftover food in the oven and waited until the timer went off alerting me that five minutes of heating was done.
I kept my wits about.  Before removing the dish from the oven, I used two folded towels to remove the hot plate.  With the plate safely on the countertop, I switched off the oven and closed the door.  And then ... then my wits left me.  Not thinking, I picked up the hot plate with my bare fingers.  Jeez Louise!!!

Yesterday being Thursday, it was our bowling league night.  Can you imagine ... a klutz like me with a 14 pound bowling ball?  Now there’s an accident waiting for a place to happen.  The ball can drop or it can go flying in a non-intended direction.  Yes, I have been known to throw my ball backward and you should have seen the people behind me scuttle for safety.

Fortunately, everything went fine.  Short of the pins I didn’t knock or mow anyone down.  I may be a klutz, but when the occasion calls for it, I’m a careful klutz.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Terrorism in South Africa

James dP posted a picture of mandela this morning on Facebook.  A discussion followed.  
I lived in South Africa for 15 years so I know a bit more about the country than those who merely read a book or saw a movie.

Susan B remarked that mandela has received the Nobel Peace Prize, so that he must be a good man to receive such an honour.  I did some digging and found the following.  Note how mandela is mentioned to giving medals of honour to torture and kill men, women and children (some babies).

Also note how desmond tutu, an archbishop no less, is part of the Truth Commission.  A  commission that gives amnesty to criminals such as torturers, rapists and murderers.     

James, Susan, read and look at the pictures.                                                                                                                

TERKND_small.JPG (1990 bytes)How something like this is classified as an 'act of war' and part of a 'justified struggle' by the so-called Truth Commision chaired by 'Archbishop' Desmond Tutu, goes beyond the comprehension of any civilized true Christian. Such monstrous murders of babies like these resulted from landmines planted on private farm roads by 'valiant heroes of the struggle', who, believe it or not, were awarded medals for bravery by President of the New South Africa (Azania), Nelson Mandela. Medals for the killing and mutilation of whole families, innocent farmers, wives and children like this baby. Farm labourers were not spared, either. The photo of the wrecked tractor, which detonated a mine while ploughing, shown in the book "The Other Side of the Story, a True perspective" bears silent witness  to this.                                                                            TER3_small.jpg (2247 bytes) ter2_small.jpg (2107 bytes)[image 1] This victim of a necklace murder still has his arms tied behind his back. Although it is unthinkable for the normal human mind that people can dance and chant around a burning and begging human being, it actually happened in more than 400 reported cases. Why? One should ask the so-called 'Mother of the (Azanian) Nation',  Mr Mandela,  what she meant, when she said, quote : "With tyres and matches we will liberate this country", unquote...

[image 2] Still another victim of the "necklace" murders by supporters of the ANC/Communist alliance. Note the steel rings of the tyre still around the bodies' neck. All of these people were civilians, and they were murdered for such reasons as "not taking part in illegal strikes", not adhering to party policy and not obeying "non-shopping orders" Many mother's were forced to eat the borax and washing-powder they bought for their households because "they dared to challenge ANC's orders not to buy from whites".
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In memory of Chase

For most people, the loss of a pet is a traumatic experience.  It’s bad enough when a pet passes away in his sleep, but it’s so much worse when the decision to terminate a life has to be made.  Some wonder what happens to their pet after they die.  Is there such a place as Rainbow Bridge?

I’d like to think that there is. In fact, I’m pretty sure that there is. I had not one, but two visits from cats who passed away. I was rather hesitant including those visits in my blog, but when I learned that Glory L. lost her beloved Chase today, I felt the time had come to tell you about those visits.

The first visit happened a few years ago.

Six weeks after losing Kitty, a 12 year old ginger cat, I went to Belgium to visit my folks.  I was in bed one night when I felt a cat walking on the mattress and snuggling up behind my knees.  Kitty always used to do that when he slept with me. The odd thing was … my folks didn’t have a cat at the time.

More recently, last Wednesday night to be exact, I saw Charlie.  Charlie passed away on Boxing Day last year.  When he came to me, it wasn’t in a dream. I know for a fact that I was not asleep.  I only saw him briefly, but I saw him long enough to see that he was beautiful and happy.

Others have told me similar stories about cats and dogs, visiting their owners after death.  One woman said that, close to a year after Cassie passed away, she could feel her cat brushing up against her hand one night.  She couldn’t see her, but she felt her distinctive velvety fur.

I hope Glory finds comfort in the knowledge that Chase is not really gone, but merely moved on to Rainbow Bridge, where he – undoubtedly – will be welcomed by many others.  And who knows, he too might pay Glory a visit someday.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Frizzy hair? I have the cure.

There was a time that curls were in and ladies went to the salon for a perm three or four times a year.  Those days are gone.  Smooth and sleek hair is in fashion now. 

Unfortunately, smooth and sleek is not everyone’s cup of tea and those with curly hair or frizzy hair have to be nearly magicians to get their hair to obey.  Of course, hair doesn’t obey its mistresses’ wishes, it has a mind of its own.  So the mistress calls in a little help.

That’s where it gets tricky.  Numerous products promise a smooth and sleek look, but how many of them deliver the desired result? 

From personal experience I found that some mousses and gels do a sort of smoothing job, but leave hair feeling hard and stiff.  Touching my hair was almost like touching wood curls.

When I tried serums, they weren’t all that satisfactory either.  Either I ended up with a greasy look, or over time my hair was drying out.  Little wonder, those serums are alcohol based and as we all know, alcohol dries out hair.

I didn’t give up though, I continued buying and trying, hoping that somewhere along the way I would find a product that did the job.  My perseverance was rewarded.  I found THE product.  An oil that lives up to its promise, doesn’t make my hair feel like wood curls, doesn’t make it greasy, and that is not alcohol based.

This little miracle in a bottle comes from Schwartzkopf and is called “Got 2b - Oil-lilicious”.  It contains argan oil, marula and white grape.

I felt I had to let you ladies know about this as I can imagine I’m not the only one who has been battling for years trying to find a product that controls curls and frizz. 

Best of all, “Got 2b - Oil-lilicious” is paraben free and is not going to cost you an arm and a leg.  It’s priced under $10.

Take it from me, an experienced hair magician, “Got 2b Oil-lilicious” is the answer to your frizz be gone prayers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The woman in the rose garden

This morning someone blogged about a dream she had last night.  I figured I might do the same.  Only this isn’t a dream …

She was as real as you and me.

She was standing in the rose garden, wearing a bright red and blue sari, with intricate gold embroidery.  Her long dark hair was hanging in a plait down her back, a white dog at her feet.  She was there one moment and gone the next.

I came down from my apartment on the 11th floor with the elevator and paused in the lobby to tuck my shirt in my pants.  While doing so, I glanced out the floor to ceiling lobby windows and that’s when I saw her … the Indian woman in the sari.

I didn’t think anything of it, as plenty of Indian women live in my building.  It was only when I got outside and the woman was nowhere to be seen that she had my full attention. 

She couldn’t have gone far.  From the lobby to the front door of the building had taken me a matter of seconds.  Where could she have gone?  I looked to my right, I looked to my left, I scanned the whole area, but the woman seemed to have gone up in smoke.

Passing the rose garden I continued to look for her in all directions.  So mystified was I with her that, even after leaving the building grounds, I continued to look for her.  I kept turning around, examining every inch of the front garden, but there was no sign of her. 

Where could she have gone in the mere seconds it took me to get from the lobby to the front door?  I suppose, if she lived on the ground floor, she could have climbed on one of the balconies, but someone I didn’t see that happening.  If she had worn jeans and a T-shirt, yes, but not in the sari she was wearing.

Curious as I am, I couldn’t let it go.  Was this woman real or was she some kind of spirit?  She didn’t look like a spirit, not that I would know what a spirit looks like.  I’ve seen them portrayed in pictures and paintings as transparent or luminous beings, which this woman was anything but.  She was as real as you and me.

A few weeks later I learned that Adheri and her white poodle had been killed in a car accident on their way to the vet.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Humor for writers

I found an email in my inbox this morning with a bit of writer’s humor.  I thought I’d share it with you all.  After all, it's Monday and you might need a laugh ...

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter 
This one I caught in the SGV Tribune the other day and called the Editorial Room and asked who wrote this.  It took two or three readings before the editor realized that what he was reading was impossible!!!  They p
ut in a correction the next day.   

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says 
Really? You think? 

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers 

Now that's taking things a bit far!

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over 
What a guy!  

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant 

See if that works any better than a fair trial!

War Dims Hope for Peace 

I can see where it might have that effect!

Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide 

They may be on to something!

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges 

You mean there's something stronger than duct tape? 

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge 

He probably IS the battery charge!

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group 

Weren't they fat enough?!

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft

That's what he gets for eating those beans!

 Local  High School Dropouts Cut in Half 

Chainsaw Massacre all over again!

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors 

Boy, are they tall!

And the winner is.... 

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead  

Did I read that right?

I have to add this one. Commode stolen from Police station. Police have nothing to go on.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Making cupcakes

I’m considering buying a bread maker.  I do say “considering” though, because I have some serious reservations.

I read the reviews of a particular bread maker online, and the opinions on the quality and performance of the machine varied.  One person was thrilled with her bread maker, the other would have just as soon thrown it out the window.  One said she had success from the first try, the other had to throw the first four loafs she made in the bin.

What worried me the most was that one person said “you have to follow the instructions to the letter and use machine yeast”, while another said “machine yeast doesn’t work, you have to use dry yeast”.  Well, what is it?  Machine yeast or dry yeast?

Another reason why I’m having reservations about the purchase of a bread maker is because … I’m not all that good in the kitchen.  Correction, I consider myself a good cook, but I can’t bake to save my life.
I remember the day like it was yesterday.  My son Dieter had his 6th birthday coming up and I was going to make cupcakes for his party.  I got all the ingredients together, mixed the dough, scooped bits of it in the paper cups and placed the lot in the oven.  
“Keep an eye on them will you Dieter,” I said, “I’m quickly gonna go and make the beds.”

It didn’t take long before he called “Mom!  The cupcakes are foaming.”  
I stuck my head out of one of the bedrooms and said, “You mean they are rising?  They’re supposed to do that.”

A short while later Dieter called again. 
“Mom, those cupcakes are rising really high.” 
“How high?” I called back.
“I don’t know,” he said, appearing in the bedroom doorway.  “The oven looks like a washing machine.  All foamy.”
Foamy?  That didn’t sound normal.

When I went to take a look I saw right away that something had gone horribly wrong.  The whole oven was full of foaming dough and it was forcing its way out through the cracks.  To cut a long story short, instead of normal flour I had used self-rising flour with a good dose of yeast.  It took me ages to clean the oven and Dieter got a store bought cake for his birthday.

Not one to give up easily, I decided to try my hand at cookies.  Maybe that would work better than cupcakes.  I followed the instructions of the cookbook and paid attention to using the correct flour this time.
When the time came to eating the cookies, Dieter took a bite and pulled a face.
“What?” I asked.
“They’re kind a hard,” he said.
I tried one too and … oh my goodness, this wasn’t a cookie, this was a stone and so were the others.

Instead of throwing them in the bin, I decided to feed them to the birds.  Imagine my surprise when a couple of pigeons showed up, briefly pecked at the “cookies” and took off again. 

Oh well, I could always feed them to the ducks. 
“Are you sure about that mom,” Dieter said.  “The ducks might sink.”

I believe that was the last time I ever baked anything.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Are you a writer?

With so many people writing stories, poems, blogs, books and other creative outpourings, some may have wondered ... when are you officially a writer?

It has been said that, if the first thing on your mind when you wake up in the morning, and the last thing you think about before falling asleep is writing, you are a writer.

If that indeed is the case, then I am a writer.  Every morning when I wake up, I think of all the mountains I’m going to move writing about this, that and the other.

Unfortunately, once in front of my computer, my inspiration more often than not, dies.  I want to write something, I feel I have to write something, but the inspiration just isn’t there.  So I do something else.

And then, when I’m no longer thinking, as if by magic, the words come.  Sometimes it’s a sentence, sometimes a paragraph, sometimes a whole storyline.

I had such a moment of clarity today, at 6:45 p.m. to be precise   Unfortunately, I had dinner on the stove at the time.  I had chicken breasts on a pan, potatoes in a pot and a salad waiting for seasoning on the counter.

It was wonderful, all day I had struggled to find the right angle to write about a specific plant, and now, now suddenly the words flew in my head and out of my fingers at the speed of a hare being chased by a pack of dogs.

I was in the middle of paragraph six when suddenly … I smelled something.  I knew that smell, it was the smell of something burning but I couldn’t … oh good grief, the chicken!!!

I would have given an Olympic athlete a run for her money at the time it took me to get from my chair to the kitchen.  Did I walk, did I run or did I fly?  I can’t remember my feet touching the ground.

Unfortunately, even though I was fast, I wasn’t fast enough.  What once were golden brown chicken breasts were now … how can I put this?  Well done … no.  Overdone … no.  Burned …. euh no.  What was on the pan looked close to being cremated.

I did what any guilty cook would do, when putting the meat on the plate, I flipped it over on its good side and served without blinking or blushing.  Once in the company of yellow potatoes, green salad and red tomatoes the meal look good enough to … well, eat.

Will this ever happen again?  Probably, for I am not a cook, I am a writer and when inspiration calls I can’t answer … “Can you come back after dinner?”