Saturday, December 24, 2016

Cookie shipping experiment

 I learned this year that cookies I had sent to Boise in earlier years had not arrived in such pristine condition as I had hoped. This was disappointing. I vowed to do better. Sadly, the post office took six days to get the cookies to their ultimate destination so I'm not so sanguine  but, well, I still share some photos here.

 My big breakthrough, which may or may not have been successful, was to not only layer the cookies with tissue paper but also to cushion them with mini-marshmallows. The idea was to prevent the cookies from shifting so much in transit, while also allowing them something soft to slide into if they did move. Plus, the recipient could then use the marshmallows in hot chocolate! The challenge here was to find the marshmallows at my local grocer. Should devoted readers of blahdeblahblah ever need to locate marshmallows at a Metropolitan Market, I share that they are inexplicably found near the pudding. It makes no sense to me either.

 Anyway. Scott and I made the usual suspect cookies (pillowcase cookies--aka rolled sugar cookies, fennel cookies, aggression cookies, molasses cookies--aka Army of Darkness, and mongol hordes--aka peanut blossom cookies) a week ago. I'm pretty sure I've posted plenty of cookie-making snaps before so this year I limit myself to the ingredients, the cookie cutter selection, and the baker (note cute owl apron purchased in Gearhart Labor Day weekend).

And the packaging:
Second or third layer: sugar cookies
Mongol hordes heavily cushioned
Top layer of molasses cookies, also heavily cushioned

The fully loaded box, with top tightly affixed, was then put into a sturdy box with plenty of packing paper, inflated air pocket things, and god knows what else. The cookie box within could not move a muscle, I'm certain. Then the whole lot was foolishly entrusted to the USPS that did god knows what with it for close to a week. As above, I anxiously await a report on the final results. 

[Myrna running on reserve battery power and the sound of cocktails being poured = no serious proofreading. Happy Christmas, you wonderful old blogosphere!]

UPDATE: Cookies unpacked on arrival. "Not a single broken one!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Update from the Behind-Schedule Santa Sweatshop, 2016 edition

This time of year I spend a lot of time vowing to be better next year because it's about now that I start working on the next year's calendar. The calendar I always want to give to people at Christmas. Obviously it would be sensible to start this project in, say, October at the latest. But somehow it never works out that way and I spend evenings when I'm already tired speeding through hundreds of photo files, trying to decide what I'm using. It was easier last year when I had at least decided to limit it to photos from the trip to Paris and and environs. This year I realize that I could have an entire calendar of Scott, Siobhan, and Carl pointing at things, but I don't think anyone, least of all those three, would appreciate such a calendar. And, sadly, I suspect that only I would really thrill to a dozen photos of things like the baby spiders discovered in the boxwood last summer.

Perhaps predictably, it's looking like it will probably be a lot of bird photos again. Because that's what I've got. Or spiders.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

"Blahdeblah" at its most blahdeblah

It's been a somewhat stressy and anxious weekend for no reason but the main, and I don't mean Hamlet's father's recent death or his mother and uncle's o'er-hasty marriage. No, it's the ongoing news of president-elect Trump and the alarming general trend of civilization. My mood likely was not helped any by Underground Airlines, a book I bought some months back in part because I liked what the author had to say about the cover design process. (And perhaps it's about the time that you're selecting books based on what the author has to say about how covers get chosen that you should consider you've maybe been in publishing too damned long. For those tracking at home, I've just finished my 30th year, with no relief in sight.)

Anyway. The premise of the book is that Abraham Lincoln was shot in 1861, rather than 1865 and the American Civil War never happened. By the time the 21st millennium rolls around, which is when the book is set, slavery still exists in the "Hard Four" states: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and "Carolina"; it seems the north and south split never happened there either. It's sort of an adventure/caper story, but it's mostly a lot of misery. The north isn't exactly thriving nor is it all that pleasant a place to be black or poor. So, maybe a little too like real life in some ways and with too many stretches and little flaws in the storyline to really be what I was after. I don't know what is up next, but I have a whole pile of options sitting not ten feet from me. Perhaps Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat or the Magda Szabo that I picked up at Elliott Bay after the Leif Whittaker reading last week. Or I could rejoin Scott in our supposed joint reading of Remembrance of Times Past; possibly some time along the Guermantes Way would settle my nerves (though that link suggests otherwise).

However. None of that is providing photos and I am all about photo content on blahdeblah. Today, unexpectedly, was sunny and clear but also cold: perfect weather for putting in the storm windows (the new screen windows slid right out--no sticking paint or fuss) and then putting up Christmas lights though, personally, I think it's a bit early for that sort of business. There's no guarantee that we'll have nice weather again next weekend, however, and with neither Figgy Pudding nor West Seattle tree lighting lifting my gloom, I thought it best to see if some time on ladders putting lights on the house would do the trick. As it happens, the one string of white icicle lights that was still working last year was only half working today so we're down to just color lights but they're pretty enough.

Dyes and damaged balls on the strikingly green front lawn
In situ
But the most exciting part of this year's outer decor is the Japanese maple tree. The paint on the glass balls we've used outside has largely been washed away by the weather, but I thought I'd try filling them with colored water since they always fill with rain anyway. We had only yellow and red food dye left (the blue, which had turned pretty green over the years, went into the moss for my Halloween costume) so that's what we used. I am always pleased to have an excuse to make use of the lab glass.

Scott captured the moon behind the tree because he's clever that way.