Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Menorah on the Door-ah

Elf on the Shelf.

If you’re on the interwebs at all; facebook, blogs, anywhere or everywhere, those words most likely bring up your dinner make you shudder.

Being Jewish, I’ve never had an Elf on the Shelf (or anyplace else for that matter). Never woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, jumped out of bed searching for a doll that I forgot to move. Works for me.

But, I’m told, those elves also have an enormously useful purpose. Each night they go off to Santa to report who’s been naughty or nice, then return to stalk spy on keep those little buggers in line for yet another day. This goes on all the way from Thanksgiving until Christmas.

Now wait a minute. A doll that makes your kids behave? For a month? Genius. We may just need in on this scam scheme lovely tradition.

So lets see what I’ve got to work with. Crap, not much. I’ve got a menorah, a dreidel and gelt . . . oy vey.

Menorah, Dreidel and Gelt | | #humor #chanukah

But hey, I’m resourceful. I am, after all, a descendant of the people who not only crossed the dessert to freedom, but invented inedible crackers along the way.

So screw the Elf on the Shelf, you’re not gonna find any shiksa outdoing me in the manipulating-your-kids category. Just watch me make this work:

Sleep well, little darlings. Don’t even think of bothering your parents in the middle of the night. Look up, there’s a menorah on the door-ah, just waiting to report back to Santa the household money manager:

Menorah on the door-ah blog post | | #humor #chanukah

And remember to eat a good breakfast. Just to be sure, there’s a dreidel on the table, planning to save a little money for the family gift buyer.
 Menorah on the door-ah blog post | | #humor #chanukah

Need a little reminder while getting dressed? There’s gelt on the belt, soon to tattle tale tell all to the resident baker.

Menorah on the door-ah blog post | | #humor #chanukah

Have a fun day. Go play with your friends. But play fair, you’re being watched, now the menorah’s on the score-ah.

Menorah on the door-ah blog post | | #humor #chanukah

Make sure you remember to stay out of Mom’s belongings. You never know what you’ll find. See, there’s the dreidel on the jade-el.

Menorah on the door-ah blog post | | #humor #chanukah

And stay out of Dad’s toys too. Right there, the gelt’s on the dealt.

Menorah on the door-ah blog post | | #humor #chanukah

It’s dinner time, be sure to eat without complaints.

Latke for Two | | #recipe #chanukah
Latke for Two

And just to be sure-ah, there’s a menorah on the floor- ah.

Menorah on the door-ah blog post | | #humor #chanukah

And what’s that hiding in the drawer? It’s gelt on the felt.

Menorah on the door-ah blog post | | #humor #chanukah

Tonight before you go back to bed, don’t forget to put your laundry away. And do it neatly, there’s that dreidel, on the label. . .

Menorah on the door-ah blog post | | #humor #chanukah

I could SO keep this up for a month. Now who’s going to come up with something for January? And February. And March . . .

Whatever you celebrate, I hope it’s happy.
Baking In A Tornado | | #MyGraphics

Latke for Two
Printable Recipe
1 medium potato
¼ cup chopped onion
1 egg
2 TBSP flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 scallion, sliced
¼ cup of sour cream
Snipped chives
*Skin potato and grate onto paper towels or grate in food processor and place on paper towels. Pat dry.
*Place potato, onion, egg, flour, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix well.
*Spray a small skillet with no-stick spray. Just cover bottom with vegetable oil and heat on medium high until hot.
*Carefully add the potato mixture to the oil and spread it into the pan. Manipulate it with your spatula so it's thicker around the edges, which brown faster.
*Cook until the bottom is well browned. While cooking, gently press the center down with your spatula to help the center cook.
*Place a large spatula under the latke and use a second spatula to hold the top together. Manipulating the latke with both spatulas, gently flip it over. Blot the top with a paper towel.
*Sprinkle cheddar over the center of the latke, top with scallion. Cook until the bottom is brown, then slide onto a plate.
*Mix together the sour cream and chives and serve on top of the latke.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Holiday Story, Part Deux

This is the second installment of a very special post I published two weeks ago. It’s a rolling holiday story. I started the story and then one by one some very talented bloggers took the reins and added a paragraph or so to move the story along. The idea was that we’d all impact but not control the story. I’m honored to have been gifted with the participation of so many friends. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together.

If you haven’t read the first part of the story or need a reminder as to how it all started, click here before reading on: A Holiday Story.

Once again I’ve credited the author of each segment and linked to their blogs. I hope you’ll visit them all. They all have different personalities and writing styles, none of them ever disappoint.

A Holiday Story | | #MyGraphics

Picking up the story where we left off:

Damon’s eyes were big and shiny. “Is that MY key?” he asked in a hushed voice. His mother looked to her mother but she just sat with her head bowed.
“I do believe that is your key, Damon. It’s time that we start sharing our memories. Where would you like to begin?”
Damon sat quietly for a moment. Then he said “I remember Daddy’s hugs. He always had the best hugs of anyone. He would squeeze and squeeze me like he didn’t want to let go.”
Tears stung her eyes. She had to keep it together. “Yes” she said to him,”he always hugged me that way too.”
Damon asked “Can we write that in the letter to Santa?” 
“We sure can. What else would you like to put?”

Damon’s grandmother left the room and came back shortly with a quill feather pen, an old inkwell, and thick, beautiful, intricately decorated paper. 
“I’ve never seen paper or a pen like that before, Grammy! Are those for me so I can write my letter to Santa?” Damon asked gleefully while staring at the pen set.
His grandmother nodded and said “These are special instruments that have been in our family for many, many years. You will have to have your mother write the letter for you while you tell her what to say. You must not write with that pen yourself, do you understand?”
Damon agreed and noticed his mother and grandmother exchanging a look he had never seen before, it was a mixture of confusion, intensity and hope. Hope had not been on his mom’s face for a while, even though the overwhelming emotion confused him it also comforted him. Just as he was about to dictate his letter to his mom, the key, his key began to swing in her hands although she was not moving at all. The key began a slow circle movement, slowly and small at first, then faster and faster until it flew out of her hand and right into Damon’s. 
“I was not sure it would work, but it did” Damon’s mom excitedly whispered. A light that had been missing from her eyes for too long had returned along with a determined air. She smiled at her mom, picked up the quill, turned to her son and said “We must write the letter now”.

Candy Cane Shortbreads | | #recipe #bake
Candy Cane Shortbreads

 Jennifer of Outsmarted Mommy

Despite the fact that Damon was still so young and innocent he knew that he was about to experience something beyond special. He knew that there was something magical going on and he was not about to question the fact that they needed to write the letter this very moment. So he put his excitement and curiosity aside and began to think about what he wanted to say in this once in a lifetime letter. Before he began he squeezed the key as hard as he could and thought about how much he missed his father. 
“Mom, I’m ready. Are you?” She wasn’t sure that she was ever really going to be ready but she took a deep breath, looked at her mother then back at Damon and said “I sure am buddy.”
And so he began, “Dear Santa, I have a feeling you have been expecting this letter for quite some time. I think deep down I always knew that one day I would be writing to you about my father.” As he spoke those words, the key started to swing again but this time a beautiful golden glow started to fill the room. Damon’s grandmother looked at her daughter and said “I told you he had the gift”. A feeling of hope filled the room that had been missing for all too long.

Anna-May of Silence of the Mom

Damon looked at the two women who had always been there for him. His mother had sacrificed her own life for him after his father had passed away. She always put him first. There had been no boyfriends or dates and he could only remember a couple of times when his mother had done something for herself or had gone anywhere with friends without him. He knew how much she loved him, he could see it in her eyes every time she looked at him, and he loved her back every bit as much. Bet he also knew she needed more. All his friends had two parents. Not all of them were still married, but those who weren’t had moved on ad found new love and were happy again. As much as he missed his father, he wished his mother would find that happiness again.

It was all very confusing to Damon, as he didn’t yet understand love that wasn’t for a family member, and he DEFINITELY didn’t love any girls other than Grammy and his mom. He knew it was something that adults needed and he knew that his father would want his mom to be happy again. He could feel that in some way his dad was still with them. He wasn’t sure how, but he could just feel it. As he thought about it, the key started to glow even brighter as if to confirm what he was thinking.

Melissa of Home on Deranged

Damon began speaking again, although it really looked as if the quill was doing all the work for him. “You see, Santa, I love my dad. No matter how long he’s been gone, I still love him as much as the last time I saw him. But . . . I really love my mom too. She’s always been there with a smile or a hug or a sandwich, whatever I might need. But I’ve been thinking that maybe, just maybe, she needs more than just me. We need more to be a family.”

His mom was amazed at how quickly the words scratched onto the old paper, but she was speechless at the sentiment they expressed. As Grammy eyed the glowing key, she quietly said “Damon, I think Santa might be paying very close attention to what you are putting in this letter, right this very minute. Let’s not waste this chance. Keep going.”

Joy of  Evil Joy Speaks

“I’m not sure what my new family should look like, but my mom has so much love for me I know she could love more kids. And I’d love a brother to play football with and games and ride bikes with. If there’s a dad out there without a mom like my mom is without a dad, maybe you could help them find each other.”

As Damon’s mother wrote his words her heart swelled. It warmed her heart to hear Damon knew of her endless love for him. She decided right then and there . . .
Jenniy of Climaxed

. . . she was going to open her heart to whatever mysteries this key was going to unlock. She had always been skeptical of her mother’s stories about receiving this key herself as a child and how it changed her world. In her heart she had doubted that the woman who had loved her more than anything else, and expected that if the time came to pass the key to Damon, it would be more of a psychological comfort than an actual tool of magic. The idea of a real Christmas miracle handed down in families through generations in the form of a golden key given by St. Nick himself . . . well, who wouldn’t be a little unsure of it, right?

Looking at Damon tonight, seeing the love in his heart that made that key glow and move, she knew that things would be different. She wasn’t sure how or when, but something would happen to take away the pain she felt every time she saw her son standing on the back porch holding the baseball glove his dad gave him and staring out into the distance, every time he begged not to have to go to school when it was time for Father’s Day lunches, and every time he would turn to her with one little eyebrow arched looking so much like his dad that she found herself breathless. Something would finally take away this loving boy’s obvious pain from losing his father. The two of them had always been close, maybe closer now more than ever, but there was no denying that he had always been a daddy’s boy. 
“Mom . . . did you hear me?”

She snapped back to reality with a shake of her head. “I’m sorry, baby. I was lost in La-La Land again.”

He rolled his eyes a bit. He was used to it. She spent a lot of time there wrapped up in memories of her husband. Sometimes those memories and this amazing child of hers were all that kept her going.

“It’s okay. All I said was that’s it. I’m ready to close the letter and send it to Santa now.”

The quill felt almost as if it were gliding across the paper on its own as she added the last few words Damon Dictated to her: “I believe, Santa. Sincerely, Damon Myers.” But when she got to his name, the quill stopped completely. No matter what she did, it wouldn’t budge.

Grammy piped up this time, “It doesn’t need a signature, dear, not from the quill anyway . . .” Then she looked at Damon and said, “take your key in your hand and place it on the letter where your name would go.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ To be continued ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stop by this blog next week, on Tuesday December 23rd for A Holiday Story, Finale brought to you by another group of talented writers. See you then!
Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Candy Cane Shortbreads
Printable Recipe
Ingredients (makes about 30):
2 sticks of butter, softened
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
red food coloring
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
8 oz white chocolate chips or white candy melts
5 ounces Peppermint candies (about 30 candies), crushed
OPT: You can skip the food coloring in the dough and use green candy melts instead of the white
*Cream the butter with the extract and food coloring. Mix in the powdered sugar until just incorporated, then the flour. Roll into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
*Make the second dough exactly the same as the first except add red food coloring to the butter and extract. Roll this red dough into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate also.
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.
*Remove cookie dough from fridge and cut into ¼ inch slices.
*Place onto cookie sheets and bake for approximately 10 - 12 minutes, until they just barely start to brown.
*Remove from cookie sheet and allow cookies to cool completely.
*Melt the white chocolate chips or white candy melts in microwave until completely smooth when mixed. Dip (or paint with a pastry brush) one side of each cookie into the white chocolate and immediately sprinkle with crushed candies. Place on parchment paper in fridge to set.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Use Your Words: Blogging Advice

Today’s post is a monthly writing challenge. If you’re new here, this is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once. All of the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the recipient will take them. Until now.

Use Your Words | | #MyGraphics

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.
I’m using: reminiscent ~ compensate ~ manage ~ dismiss ~ organize ~ completion
They were submitted by: Battered Hope.

I always think it’s fun to start these posts by trying to use my words all at once. It’s sort of a challenge within a challenge:

I was hoping to manage to organize my junk drawer, reminiscent of the time when it wasn’t so stuffed full of crap. I was forced to dismiss the hopes of taking the task to completion when I found myself incapable of discarding most of the  . . . well . . . crap. I may need to compensate by buying a bigger house.

OK, that’s not going to happen. But I can always just go into the kitchen and work on a recipe. That always helps me to forget what I haven’t achieved and concentrate on something else.

Peanut Butter Turtle Cookies

Peanut Butter Turtle Cookies | | #recipe #bake

Speaking of what I’m concentrating on, one of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the result of requests I’ve had on my Baking In A Tornado Facebook Page. Many times over the years and twice just last week people have asked me about starting a blog. I’m certainly no expert, having started mine when I was completely oblivious. Although I’ve made some colossal mistakes, learned as I went along, and remain to some degree oblivious, I’ve also been supported by very generous bloggers and techies both experienced and new. I love being able to pay it forward in whatever way I can so I always answer questions and offer insight into what has and what hasn’t worked for me.

There are things I don’t say, of course. These are not about the logistics of blogging, but about the content. Really, what other people choose to say is none of my business. But if I were ever to give advice about content, it might be this:

Being reminiscent is great, we all write from experience. Remember, though, that I don’t know your Cousin Crazy Cathy, Bonky Brother Beelzebub, Husband Hairy Harry or your neighbor 3 houses down Nosy Neighbor Ned. Nothing ruins a post more than spending the whole time wondering who the hell you’re talking about.

Don’t write out of anger. If you’re considering exploring an issue and you’re passionate, go for it. I have to say, though, that I’ve read more than a few posts bashing in-laws, calling friends a “ho”, telling others’ secrets, and graphically espousing theories about what genetic inefficiencies a former boyfriend needs to compensate for. No bueno.

I know that the urge is strong, but if you could manage to keep the explicit descriptions of body parts and bodily functions to a minimum, that would be a great help in keeping my lunch down. I wrote a whole post about this a while ago. It’s called Virginia is the New Furt and it’s about what had been a popular subject when I started blogging, “furts” (those noisy things that escape your hind quarters) and how the newer fad was discussing “virginias” (a woman’s nether region, figure it out or click on the link and read about it).

Dismiss the urge to describe every ache and pain, symptom and doctor’s visit. You’re just going to send me to the internet in panic mode. I’m pretty sure it’s a proven fact that hypochondriacs keep Google in business, no reason to help out unless you’re taking a cut.

Organize your thoughts. Do not give your readers whiplash unless you’re willing to pay the chiropractor bills (or the bar bills as the case may be).

Be sure to take your story to completion. If I want to read a story and be left scratching my head wondering how it all worked out, I’ll re-subscribe to our local yokel newspaper. So no premature eventuation, please.

So that’s it, all the advice I’ll never give. Unless I just did, that is.

Links to the other Use Your Words posts:

Baking In A Tornado | | #MyGraphic

Peanut Butter Turtle Cookies
Printable Recipe 
1 stick butter, softened
1 stick margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Approximately 48 rolo candies
Approximately 48 pecan halves

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Either grease baking sheet or cover with parchment paper.
*Toast the pecan halves by spreading them out on a small baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 to 14 minutes, until they begin to change color. Remove from pan and cool to room temperature.
*Cream the butter, margarine, brown sugar, eggs, peanut butter and vanilla.
*Mix in the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and baking powder.
*Roll the dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheet. 
*Bake for about 12 minutes or until the bottoms just starts to brown.
*When they come out of the oven, immediately put a rolo candy in the center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet.
*As soon as the rolo starts to melt, press a pecan half into the top of the cookie. 
*Allow to set as the cookie cools.