Friday, December 30, 2011

Prepping for Festivities

      Someone living in my house remarked yesterday that January begins "soon".  Soon . . . . I don't really want to think about the number involved in "soon" because, quite frankly, I'm not quite sure where all twelve months of 2011 went.  I remember bits - and I have pictures to prove that 2011 actually happened . . . but that's beside the point.

THE POINT is that New Year's Eve is fast approaching.  And most people do something to celebrate the joy of the old year and the anticipation of the new year.  If you are one of these delightfully extroverted people who thrive on social fun (sadly, I am not), you're probably brushing up on your game skills, jokes and party tricks.  And if you need a new party trick with which to amaze and astound all your friends and relatives during your New Year's Eve festivities, might I recommend this one?  I think it is pretty safe to say no one will be copying you - at least this year.  :)  You have a little over 24 hours to learn the routine . . . . piece of cake!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Promise Delivered

    And now, for the special surprise we promised a few weeks ago!  To celebrate the fact that we finished our word goals for November we decided to let you all have a little sneak peak at what we have written.
What we are not going to do is tell you who wrote it or what genre the excerpts are - you're going to have to guess for those:)  And to make it more interesting still, we're going to only post two of three. :)  If we get at least six different people to enter this mini contest the closest guess will win a special little prize.

Excerpt Number One  

Reginald Alexander liked to start his day with a cup of good, strong coffee as black as his grandfather’s dark skin.  His wife, bless her heart, had never learned the knack of good coffee making, so for the fifty-one years they were married coffee had been his contribution to breakfast.  Every work-day, Elsie had made him bacon, eggs and toast.  On Saturdays she’d made him pancakes.  Whether it was jam on his toast or the syrup and stewed fruit on the pancakes, there was always something sweet on the table to balance out the strong acidic punch of the black brew that he favored so much.  
  He didn't remember much about the two years that followed her death.  He knew that he’d eaten a great deal of dry toast for breakfast and he couldn’t brew a decent cup of coffee to save his life.  He was reduced to a shell waiting to die, too.  His company had transferred his job to a dairy in Port Hope, and that had been the beginning of remembering how to live.  Nobody could explain how he had spent three weeks in town before discovering The Bread and Butter Bakery centered on the second of Port Hope’s two streets.  He’d gone in and savored the first good cup of coffee he’d had since the day his Elsie died, a fresh, sticky cinnamon swirl providing a perfect foil to its bitter blackness.  He still missed his wife, figured he always would.  But he knew he had business to finish - one last attempt to try make right what Elsie never could.
This morning the sun was shining a pale gold on the frosty buildings as he walked up second street.  The temperature was well below zero and his breath came in frosty puffs through the bright green scarf that protected his nose from frostbite.  When he pushed the front door of The Bakery open he shivered as the fragrant warmth hit his face.  He frowned as he unwound his scarf.  It was early enough he’d expected to be the only customer, but the emptiness of the dinning area mirrored in the glass display case under the counter was not encouraging.
“Is this a bakery or are we just playing at running a business?” he called good naturedly toward the well lit kitchen as he pulled of his toque and mittens.
“We’re just playing,” someone called back.  Her tone was light and merry, and a moment later Tessa had pushed through the swinging half-door and was hugging him warmly.
“Did your parents get off okay?” he asked, slipping out of his coat.
“They boarded their ship this morning and should be leaving The Island with the evening tide,” she said, hanging his coat on the stand by the door.
“It is so good to see you,” she smiled.  “We really missed you.”
“Not as much as I missed you,” he assured her.  “That young pup you got to lift mixers and tote flour is all brawn and no brain.  Can’t make a decent cup of coffee worth bench scrapings - even my Elsie’s coffee was better than his - so I’m drier than a bone in the dessert.”
“We’ll fix that,” Tessa laughed, but he noticed the sparkle in her eyes didn’t match.  “Come on back,” she pushed the door to the kitchen open, “and I’ll see what I can come up with.”
“My, my,” he mused thoughtfully, gazing around the kitchen as he accepted the chair next to a work station she pulled out for him.  “Flour on floor, mixers dirty on the counter, sink full of dishes dirty with last Friday’s soup . . . if this place didn’t look like a blizzard blew through I’d think it was as empty as that display counter out front.”
“Shhh,” Tessa frowned and put a finger to her lips.  “Kate is already on stressed overload.  Don’t say things like that out loud.  I have to live with her when this day is over,” she said, pouring coffee into a clean white mug. 
 “Am I going to have to wait long for you to tell me what is going on here?” he asked when she didn’t say anything.
“We’re trying to manage a bakery without our parents,” she evaded, thwacking a lump of dough on the counter.
“Tessa James, I was not born yesterday,” he said firmly.  “Your mama did not raise you to work in a kitchen that looks like a disaster area; your daddy would be horrified if he knew the display counter was still empty at 6:30 on a Monday morning.”
 “Owen hasn’t shown up for work yet,” Tessa gritted her teeth.  “When we got here this morning the kitchen was pretty much as you see it now.  But none of the prep work had been done so we had to skip all but the most basic cleaning and get right to work.  Discovering half our inventory is missing didn’t help, either.  Don’t tell Kate I said this, but on the whole this has not been an ideal first day back.  And we haven’t even opened yet,” she sighed. 

Excerpt Number Two

After the first few days of her employment, Crissa began to suspect that Edvaith had not mentioned her stipulations to his sons. The two eldest, Byron and Victor, did not enter the kitchen for any ulterior motives, it was simply the quickest way from the yard to the warmth of the large hall. She would not have minded so much, if it hadn’t been for the fact that they tramped through her spotless kitchen with their muddy boots, dripping dirty snow and barn leavings all over the floor.  Even that would not have been so terribly hard to deal with, for the annoyance of the dirtied floor paled in comparison with the extreme aggravation of Edvaith’s youngest.
Kyel seemed to have appointed himself head of supervision for the entire house, at least, any part of the house that held anyone breathing and that retained the capability of a pair of working eardrums.
      He had spent the entire first full day pointing out where she had missed scrubbing, which crocks, bowls, and spoons went where, and the most efficient (in his opinion) place for the various food items to be stored. It took every ounce of willpower for Crissa not to make some snide remark about why, if he was so adept at this, had the kitchen been such a pigsty when she had arrived. Instead she had firmly insisted that she knew what she was doing and told him to go occupy his time with something else.  It was of no use, for he would be back minutes later, pointing out this and that as though he were a fat headmistress with a ring of keys at her belt, bellowing out orders with the sole purpose of hearing herself talk. 
      It all came to a head one evening during preparations for the evening meal. Crissa, standing over the fireplace, tapped an extra spoonful of flour into the thin gravy as Kyel watched from his perch atop the wobbly, splintered stool in the corner. He had been strangely quiet all afternoon, though he had stubbornly refused to leave his perch near the kitchen fire, studiously examining every item that went into the various pots and kettles throughout the day.
      “Crissa, it would be ever so much more beneficial for time and efficiency if you kept the flour above the fire, on the mantelpiece. T'would save a tremendous amount of time running back and forth like that every time you needed a spoonful.”
      “Would it now,” Her lips pressed into a thin line.
      “Of course it would!” He sounded indignant that she would even think his idea would be anything less than brilliant.
      “And what good would it do to save myself a few trips back and forth when I would have to trek back and forth dozens of times when I needed to make bread or pastry dough?” She asked.
      “Well, divide the flour in half then, and keep two separate containers.” He spoke as though he couldn’t imagine why she had not thought of such a simple solution herself.
      “I do not need it enough to warrant it in two different places." She glanced in his direction, arching an eyebrow,  "Don’t you have some work you ought to be doing?”   
      Kyel bypassed the question entirely, instead leaning back and staring across the room with eyes half shut. He kinked his head ever so slightly when she leaned over to a small shelf, reached into a little dish, and threw a pinch of coarse salt into her gravy.
      “Are you sure you want to do that?” He asked quietly, smoothly, as if talking to a child. Crissa gripped the spoon so tightly her knuckles paled, the spoon making tight, aggravated swirls in the gravy.
      “You do know that it is terribly difficult to salvage a gravy that has been salted too heavily, don’t you? Once you get too much you might as well toss the whole thing." He paused for the briefest second,  "I mean, the cat won’t even eat it then.”
      “That is enough!” The spoon clattered into the pot, forgotten in the frustration that had finally reached a boiling point. “Out of my kitchen this instant, and not another word or I’ll be serving you boiled leather for supper!”  She threatened, eyes snapping angrily as she advanced on the youth.
      For one so slight she was surprisingly strong, nearly lifting the lad off his feet as she grabbed the collar of his tunic and thrust him into the dazzling whiteness outdoors. He knew better than to turn around and reenter the kitchen, but he could not resist the chance at having a last word.
      “And I wouldn’t put anymore salt in the bread dough either, it will make it too tough and heavy, twill sit in the stomach for hours . . . like a rock!”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Preparations

The house is decorated, the Nativity is in place on top of the piano, the tree has yet to be gotten, shopping has been mostly done, music has been pulled out and played over, and over, and over:) We watched our first Christmas movie. . . well, second I guess if you count the musical we watched about a week or so ago.
  In our home one of our yearly traditions is watching It's A Wonderful Life and Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol.  Despite the fact that we watch them just once a year, we can pretty much spout them in their entirety:)

We would like to hear from you; what are some of the Christmas traditions you hold?

Friday, December 9, 2011

12 Days of . . . .what?

How we discovered this group I no longer remember - but this has become one of our all time favorite parodies. :)
Here for your enjoyment - we would like to introduce Straight No Chasers and their version of '12 Days of Christmas'   Not only are they really good, but they are loads of fun to watch!
I dare you not to laugh

Friday, December 2, 2011

Yep, It's October. . . . .November. . . . December!!!

Ever have the feeling that the days are just slipping by? I can not believe it is already December!
   The Christmas music has been pulled out, the decorations are not long in coming (I'll probably try get them up this week:), we've already watched a Christmas movie, and the snow. . . . . . oh yea, well, the snow has yet to come.  I was so sad when we lost our beautiful blanket of snow a week ago, now everything is dry and brown, and though it doesn't look too bad out it has been so windy that it sounds absolutely frigid.  (This exclusive, up-to-date weather report brought directly to you by yours truly. . . . )

   Anyway, I knew we hadn't posted in the last week and wanted to drop a little post to say; We are still here, moving around a little less than usual because we can't take our nice, warm, cozy stove with us when we step out of our living room, but busy nonetheless.

    So, to start off December and the posts to follow we would like to hear from all you lovely readers:  What are your plans for this Christmas?  Staying home? Traveling? Spending it with family or friends?