Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day!

"Ladies have a full and absolute license to propose marriage to single gentlemen on February the 29th; and if the gentleman is so rude as to refuse, he is infallibly bound to give the spurned lady a present, which is usually a pair of new gloves on Easter Day."

from The Arbiter of Polite Comportment, published in Great Britain in 1710

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

You knew it!

Humorous Pictures
Enter the ICHC online Poker Cats Contest!

You knew it, you just knew it, didn't you? You knew that working puzzles and games for thirty minutes a day would keep your mind sharp, right? You knew that offers free online games and puzzles, too. And you even knew that has links to other game and puzzle sites. It's fun, it's fast and it's free. And because you knew all this,I know I'll see you over there right now!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Not a sentence I would say out loud...

You Are From Uranus

You shine with brilliant creativity, and you're more than a little eccentric.

You love everything unusual and shocking. You're one far-out chick or dude.

Anything unconventional excites you - and you have genius potential.

Just don't let your rebel side get the best of you, or else you'll alienate everyone.

Your original thinking and funky attitude is all you need to be you.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Weekend recipe

banana bread/muffins
1/4 C. oil
2 eggs
1/3C. honey
3 bananas, mashed well
1t. vanilla
Heat oven to 350'F. Combine these wet ingredients well and set aside.

1-1/3C. whole wheat flour
3/4t. salt
1/2t. baking soda
1/4t. baking powder
3/4t. freshly grated nutmeg

Sift together. Stir in wet ingredients until combined completely, but do not over-mix. Pour batter into a small, greased loaf pan. Bake for about fifty minutes, until golden brown and fragrant. Let cool completely. If you want muffins, ladle 1/4C. of batter into each of eight-ten greased muffin cups and bake for about twenty minutes, keeping an eye on them near the end.

Options: You can add one cup of crushed nuts or a cup of finely diced, dried fruit, or a half cup of chocolate chips. You can add one teaspoon of cinnamon and one teaspoon of powdered ginger to the nutmeg, if you wish. If you do this, let the bread/muffins sit overnight for the flavors to develop fully.
You can even buck this up with a little dark rum or whiskey while it's cooling. When it's cool, wrap it well and refrigerate it for at least two weeks.

This makes excellent toast, and is especially good, toasted, with peanut butter or almond butter on top for a quick breakfast. When it's stale, it makes outstanding French toast.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Witty knitters!

Please take a moment to visit a new site, The Inside Loop. My dear friend, Diane, along with her friend, Kate, just launched this site. Although its aim is to provide greater resources for knitters in the U.K., knitters everywhere will enjoy seeing what they have to offer. Diane is a gifted knitter, spinner, designer and writer. You can be sure this won't be her only project.
You may also like to visit the site Diane and her mother have, Kurrajong Handcrafts. Heather, Diane's mother, lives on a farm in Australia, Diane's home until a year and a half ago. Heather raises alpacas; turns out, alpacas are pretty darned cute!

Booking Through Thursday

All other things (like price and storage space) being equal, given a choice in a perfect world, would you rather have paperbacks in your library? Or hardcovers? And why?

All things being equal, I would probably fill my library with handsewn, first-edition hardcover books. Why? Because, as Frank Lloyd Wright said, "Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities." I have a sensuous love of luxurious items such as beautiful books. This kind of books would add to my reading enjoyment.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

For tonight's eclipse...

because a lunar eclipse is a Moonshadow, after all.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A most delightful place!

My very dear friend just introduced me to ahappymiscellany, and I wish to pass along this blog to you. It is definitely worth your time to visit Merryville!

Poetry redux

"On this moonlight night
on Hansan Isle
I sit alone in the watch tower.
Great sword worn on
the side,
I feel weighed down by
From somewhere the sad
note of a pipe rends my heart."
(Yi Sun Shin)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Poetic Monday

"The vanity of men
they would like to retain
this passing winter moon."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Spiritual Sunday

Two small books are my dear, daily companions, augmenting my spiritual journey. Daily Strength for Daily Needs and Joy and Strength are long since out of print, but are available at places such as I found my first copy at a used-book sale, quite by chance.
The books are compilations of quotations from secular sources as well as from Holy Writ. Both are edited by Mary Wilder Tileston. There is one page for each day of the year, about two minutes' worth of reading, but a day's worth of contemplation and fortification of the spirit. Quotations come from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Gerhard Teerstegen, St. Teresa, Charles Wesley and many more sources. A Scripture quotation begins each day with the additional passages relating to the day's Biblical theme.
My Daily Strength... bears a publishing date of 1897. My Joy... is a 1929 edition of the 1901 orignal. I find it both comforting and interesting that the issues of those times relate to our own issues and feelings. I also find it interesting that, very often, the day's topic will be just what I need when I need it. These books have been, and are, wonderful resources for my Christian life.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Quotable Saturday, on Action

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." - George Bernard Shaw

"Never mistake motion for action." - Ernest Hemingway

"Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is the lightning that does the work." - Mark Twain

"Action is eloquence." - Shakespeare

Magazine cat

Humorous Pictures
moar humorous pics

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

I had a post ready for today, but I liked this suggestion from Chris even better, so … thanks, Chris!

Here’s something for Valentine’s Day.

Have you ever fallen out of love with a favorite author? Was the last book you read by the author so bad, you broke up with them and haven’t read their work since? Could they ever lure you back?

Agatha Christie! When first I read her, I was in high school and eager to impress myself with my marvelous brain. Oh, deluded adolescence! I enjoyed Agatha Christie's books but always felt cheated out of the chance to solve the murder from the clues given in the book. Came the day I read a book where the murderer was "obvious" because of his resemblance to someone who was, supposedly, unrelated to him. I still remember my exasperation upon reading something such as, "The moment I saw you I knew you were his son!" But the reader was never told anything about that and could not conclude as the detective did.
I threw the book, and Agatha, aside for years, only picking her up one day when there was nothing else to read. Thankfully, maturity had brought perspective; I understood that, in life, the journey is the thing while the destination is almost beside the point. I enjoyed Agatha as never before. I was particularly impressed by her mastery in suspense and her economy with words, something I still can only hope to achieve.
Years later still, an estwhile penpal in Great Britain sent me a bundle of Agathas, first editions, but paperback and tattered. I loved them. I wish I could write one hundred pages of crackling, good mystery as she did.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

"The Love Letter,"
Carl Spitzweg

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What kind of sandwich are you?

You Are a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

You are a traditional person with very simple tastes.

In your opinion, the best things in life are free, easy, and fun.

You totally go with the flow. And you enjoy every minute of it!

Your best friend: The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Ham Sandwich

For the record, I certainly don't *feel* like a cheese sandwich, grilled or otherwise.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Word a Day

Another winter day brings another thick snowfall if not a blizzard. But if you feel like being pleasantly snowed in by a blizzard of words, check out The Dord, The Diglot and An Avocado Or Two, The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words, by Anu Garg.
Mr. Garg is the brain behind, an international community for those who are madly in love with words (online since 1994). Subscribers to the free AWAD (a word a day) newsletter get exactly what it promises, a word every day in their email boxes with pronunciation, definition and example of usage. There is also a quotation every day. AWAD has to be the best part of my daily email. In addition to the word every day, there is a weekend digest, a round-up of the week's words with reader commentaries, plus recommendations and announcements of new books for word lovers.
Mr. Garg's previous books are A Word a Day, A Romp Through Some of the Most Unusual and Intriguing Words in English and Another Word a Day, An All-New Romp Through Some of the Most Intriguing Words in English. All three of his books drop veritable blizzards of words upon the reader, perfect snowstorms for the linguaphile. I can't think of a better way to get through the last weeks of winter than by jumping in to these books and wallowing in all those lovely, fascinating words.

Monday is for poetry OR Even though it's Monday, cheer up, things could be verse

"Valentine week
Awake ye muses nine, sing me a strain divine,
Unwind the solemn twine, and tie my Valentine!
Oh the Earth was made for lovers, for damsel, and hopeless swain,
For sighing, and gentle whispering, and unity made of twain..."
(Emily Dickinson)
Do you like to carry poems with you, as I do? I recommend the lovely gift which TeaBird sent me during a year of upheaval, The Essential Dickinson, selected by Joyce Carol Oates (The Ecco Press, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers). Its size is pocket- and handbag-friendly, making it just the thing to take along when you need a spot of tranquility in your day. I have been known to keep this on the passenger seat of my car for making red light waiting more bearable. It's good for doctor's office waiting rooms, too.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Winter Brunch

It was 1' F when I crawled out of the covers this morning. I takes a while for me to begin my day, but when I did, I made this out of odds and ends:
Winter French Toast
I tore apart seven or eight slices of very old, stale bread and scattered them in a nonstick pan, 9"x 13". I chopped two good-sized, elderly pears, skins and all, and strewed them across the bread. I grated about one quarter of a nutmeg onto the fruit. Then I beat four eggs with the last of the milk - - between ten and twelve ounces - - until it was pale and creamy yellow, and poured it over all. I baked it for about forty minutes at 425'F until it was golden brown and fragrant. Housemate and I ate it with smidgens of butter melting on top. There are leftovers for a weekday breakfast on the run, or for a brown-bag lunch. The Republic of Tea's Vanilla Almond would make a lovely accompaniment to this dish. Ordinarily we don't eat rich food, but once in a very great while, we splurge.

Spiritual Sunday

"Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way."
Psalm 119:37

This verse has been useful since it jumped out at me during a daily devotional reading early this winter. I posted it near the computer to remind to stop wasting time on junk reading. I also think of it when I find myself tempted to watch junk television. As a reinforcement of this verse and as reminder of what I ought to do is this famous verse:

"...Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virture and if there is anything praiseworthy - - meditate on these things."
Philippians 4:8

I find it all too easy to fall into the habit of dwelling on the ugliness in the world, but these two verses stand as clear and bright markers to a better path for me to take.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Philosophical Saturday

"There is more to life than increasing its speed."
(Mohandas K. Gandhi)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Okay, even I can’t read ALL the time, so I’m guessing that you folks might voluntarily shut the covers from time to time as well… What else do you do with your leisure to pass the time? Walk the dog? Knit? Run marathons? Construct grandfather clocks? Collect eggshells?

Well, in my spare time, I read. Oh, wait, this is about my other spare time. I knock back oceans of tea; I dine on small portions of darkest chocolate; I help someone manage an unmanageable household; I make up recipes for cooking and baking (I'm quite the muffin expert); I rest a lot; I garden; I listen to music; I walk for exercise in and around my home; I work word puzzles; I read newspapers augmented by online news; I plan and scheme and dream, recording all ideas in a slim, leather-bound volume; I write in a journal; I play with my cats; I write to friends (though not as well as I ought to do); I watch Korean television programs (with English subtitles); and occasionally - - rarely - - I venture from home for a museum visit or similar outing.
(submitted by Moon Rani)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tea-break time waster

Here is a little puzzle for your next tea break. It's very simple. You just fill in the words that go with the numbers. I give you the first letter of each word. The topic is classic children's literature. For example, if I said, "1,001 A N," the answer would be 1,001 Arabian Nights. The first ones are the easiest but none is difficult.
1. S W and the 7 D
2. G and the 3 B
3. A B and the 40 T
4. 3 B M
5. The 7 V of S the S
6. The 5 L P
7. 4 L W (or, 4 M S)
8. 4 B C
9. 2 pairs of B T
10. 4 B T M
If you want the answers, post a comment and I will email you.
(submitted by Moon Rani)

A winter poem

We had a fast, thick snowfall last evening, which brought to mind the following poem.
Housemate and I have no fireplace, but we did sit around the radiant television.

The Snow-Storm
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north wind's masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer's lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer's sighs; and at the gate
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.
(submitted by Moon Rani)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Cherry baby

The Republic of Tea makes a very nice Vanilla-Almond black tea. It's perfect after dinner, especially - - for some reason- - if the dinner was Chinese. Sweetened or not, this is is lovely "book tea" to be sipped while reading, too.
Here's what I do when I want variety: brew a cup of Vanilla Tea; warm two ounces or so of tart cherry juice (currently in vogue for its health benefits); add the juice to the piping hot tea and stir. If you love the taste of cherry vanilla, as I do, you will love this tea blend. This fits beautifully into a snowy day tea break; some teas just do that.
Side note: The Republic of Tea makes a vanilla bean-infused honey just for tea. If you tried it, be sure to post a comment. I would love to know if it tastes as good as I imagine.
Tart cherry juice also blends well with tisanes to make delightful and richly-colored iced drinks. Try it with a cherry- or berry-based tisane.
(submitted by Moon Rani)

Peanuts and survival

Peanuts make frequent appearances in my daily diet, usually in the form of peanut butter, which is easier for me to manage than roasted peanuts. I enjoy a treat common in Dixie, boiled peanuts, but just try to find those outside of the South. Yesterday I made peanut butter-ginger cookies. Yes, peanuts and I are dear, old friends.
Here in America, the natural association with peanuts is Dr. George Washington Carver, who found about 350 ways to use that humble legume. He also worked with cowpeas and sweet potatoes, among other things. Not only was he a brilliant scientist and teacher, but he was a poet, a painter, an athletics enthusiast and a generally cultured gentleman. If he were still alive, he would be somewhere around 143 years old (his birthdate is estimated). If you feel like reading a book about him, you will have to make do with a children's textbook. There may be a boigraphy in book form for adults, but a casual search turned up nothing. N.B. to aspiring writers, here is a subject that is ripe for your attentions.
This means I have no book to recommend for you, but I do have a Website that is hemi-semi-demi-related to Dr. Carver because the topic is nutrition from peanuts. Visit This is a most worthy charity that provides a form of super-nutrient paste, based on peanuts. It is given to starving children in Malawi, (in southeast Africa) with a ninety-percent survival rate reported.
I like to imagine Dr. Carver's looking on at Project Peanut butter and smiling with approval.
(submitted by Moon Rani)