Archive for the ‘Not Writing Related’ Category

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 24th, 2020
Greetings from Yours Truly and the Holiday Cat (Photo by Marguerite Jewel)

From Jewel HQ, wishing everyone Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! My sister took this picture of Shinshi’s very first encounter with our Christmas tree. As you can see, this year, we went small. It’s pretty cute, if you ask me, and yes, we have been finding the small ornaments all over the kitchen.

Stay safe, everyone.

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Wishing Everyone Happiness and Love

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

To all who observe U.S. Thanksgiving, may your holiday be full of love and happiness even though it’s difficult or not possible to see friends and family in person. My son and his girlfriend are, wisely, staying in Seattle for the holiday which means this is the first year he will not be home on this holiday.

So many people this year are going through this holiday without people they hold dear, myself included. I am sending all of you love and the hope that you will find a moment to reflect on fond and happy memories of those we have lost. I know my family will be remembering those we have lost.

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A Profound Stillness

Monday, November 16th, 2020

On October 16, my beloved nephew Dylan passed away. He was 24. The times being what they are, I will say that it was not COVID related. Our entire family will forever be devastated. He was talented and generous and kind and beloved by all. We will never recover.

On November 12, my youngest brother, Geoffrey, was killed. He’d turned 52 just two days before, and all of us had been texting him that day with love and birthday wishes. Geoffrey was the extrovert among his siblings. He, too, was talented, generous, and kind. At this time, I cannot say more about what happened. We do not yet have all the facts. All of us were devastated yet again and now our grief is redoubled.

Two tragedies in such a short time is more than any of us can bear. It’s terrible that our family and all the people who loved them cannot safely be together to mourn our loss. We will when it is safe to do so.

To everyone who has offered their condolences, thank you. It helps. It really does.

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In Memoriam

Monday, May 25th, 2020

I have several relatives who served in the military. My mother’s oldest and favorite brother, Vern, served in WWII in the South Pacific. According to my mother, after the war was over, he was discharged with the expectation that he would not survive six months.When he passed away in 1977, my mother was heartbroken. He was a wonderful, gentle, calm man and I remain grateful that I knew him. My son’s middle name is Vern. I wish he could have met his great uncle.

My cousin Jimmy was in the air force (like his father). He flew helicopters in Kuwait and worked at the Pentagon. My understanding is that he was there on 9/11. He passed away only a few years ago.

I am grateful to everyone who serves in the military and will always be grateful to them for their service and sacrifices.

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Renovation Dream/Financial Sinkhole?

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

In my between-books downtime and Pandemic anxiety reduction time, I have been watching a British show from a few years ago called Restoration Home. The show follows along with the restoration of historic homes in Britain. So far, all but one have been registered historic, but all have been at least two centuries old and most are far older. They intersperse the restoration work with research into the history of the house, its architecture, and its owners. It’s really, really interesting.

There is a pattern, however, and it goes like this: Someone falls in love with a historic house that is in serious need of rescuing, so they buy it and, starry eyed, embark on the nightmare that is all home renovations, only these are renovations on steroids. The registered homes have strict rules about what you can do and how you can do it , which I agree with, only some of the ensuing red tape is just awful. OMG.

Soon after the renovations begin, the first (of many) serious problems arise and so far every single house has had structural issues. The walls are standing on sheer stubbornness alone, the wood is rotten, ground floors are built on mud, everything leaks and has been leaking for centuries . . .

Halfway through, everyone is over budget and running out of money. Or is out of money. Some of the houses have not been finished or were simply abandoned. Some go on the market and stay there even when listed for less than the property plus renovations. Some owners appear to have got creative and are operating as a B&B.

One couple DID NOT DO A STRUCTURAL INSPECTION and guess what? The original builder in 1800 whatever was a DIY guy and/or way too trusting of his workers and many walls were not actually structurally connected. They were just leaning against each other and plastered over. I don’t understand why the house didn’t come down on his head. I can just imagine him telling his guests “DON’T LEAN ON THE WALL!” Fun parties.

After saying all that, once the structural issues are addressed and they start on the interiors, the results for the houses that get that far are magical. The proportions of these houses are breathtaking.

It’s a good thing I don’t live in England because I would be one of those people looking at a falling down historical house and I would buy it and go way over budget and be totally thrilled.

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Carolyn Reviews Stuff

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

I’ve been working hard at mentally refreshing myself after a tough several years. To that end, I’ve been watching movies and TV Series and here’s my thoughts on that. In no particular order

Locke and Key: (Kids discover keys with magical properties.) Enjoyed this series but there are plot holes you can drive a bus through. However, the antagonist is incredibly scary.

October Faction: (Teen twins discover their parents work for a demon slaying organization). I intensely disliked this at the start, particularly because the writers had no control over the backstory timeline and couldn’t be bothered to google basic facts. The story was driven by a chronologically impossible/unbelievable series of events and the parents were supposedly the same age but (predictably) the wife looked 20 years younger than her husband. So I was settling in to hate watch and about halfway through the whole premise turned upside down and took on some intensely serious themes about hatred and bias and by the end, I was on board.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: (A take on Sabrina the teenage Witch) I really enjoyed the first two seasons. Excellent all around. Season 3 was an emotional let down. The first two seasons were full of amazing female characters and by season three they were all dead or stripped of their agency and moral character.

Van Helsing: (In a dystopian future where vampires rise to supremacy, a descendant of Van Helsing awakes from a coma and evinces strange powers against vampires.) I liked the first season but quickly had trouble with season 2 and 3 and I think I’ve bailed because of the focus on violent scenes for the sake of . . . violence. I am disappointed by the way Vanessa Van Helsing was so quickly stripped of heroic qualities.

Parasite: The South Korean film that won Best Picture at the Oscars. Fully deserving of the win. What a great movie.

Knives Out: I loved this movie. Loved it. It’s hilarious.

Late Night: Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling) gets a dream job as a writer for a female Late Night show host (Emma Thompson). Great movie. Made me laugh at the same time it tackles serious themes about racism and misogyny.

Sex Education: A British series centered around a nerdy, repressed high school student (male) with a sex therapist mother who teams up with the school’s gorgeous and brilliant slut-shamed girl to offer sex advice to students. There are so many characters to love here and the series delves into issues of class, sexual violence, race, and sexual identity.

The Stranger: Richard Armitage stars in this series based on a Harlan Coban novel where a mysterious woman divulges secret truths/blackmails to people with terrible consequences. Pretty gripping.

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Leaping Birthday Lizards?

Saturday, February 1st, 2020

Happy February 1st in a leap year and congrats to everyone born on February 29 who can have their birthday celebration on their official birthday.

This leap year month at Jewel HQ we are having a party for the big dog. We don’t know her actual birthday but we subtracted her age (~8mos) when we got her from the shelter and arrived at February.

She needs a new collar. What would you get a dog for its birthday?

Below is a picture of Bella with her BFF Tiger the cat.

Bella The Birthday Dog and her best friend Tiger the cat.
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Happy Thanksgiving to All

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

To all who celebrate, a Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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Happy 4th!

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

To all who observe, happy Fourth of July.

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Delicious Pancake Recipe – You’re Welcome

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

This morning I decided I wanted pancakes but we didn’t have buttermilk for my usual recipe. So I read a few recipes and remembered another recipe that called for egg whites. What I came up with was DELICIOUS and and made from what I had on hand. Here’s the recipe so I don’t forget what I did and so you can enjoy:

  • 1 cup All Purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp regular salt)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly whisked
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (unsalted)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp (or so) lemon zest

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl

Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites to soft peaks.

Lightly whisk the yolk with a fork, add the oil, butter, lemon zest, and almond milk and combine. It turned out one of my eggs was a double yolker so I think you could safely use two egg yolks. I’m sure any kind of oil would work, but I used walnut. If you use sweetened almond milk, you might want to cut down on the sugar.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid. Combine until mostly smooth. Fold in the egg whites and don’t over stir at this point, just until everything is combined.

Cook your pancakes at whatever size you like. I used a buttered griddle at medium heat and a cup of batter for each pancake.

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