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My Green Velvet Life

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beauty

Our Idiot-Tested Universe

 

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.  — Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Italian artist, architect &  engineer whose genius epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal

I finally bought a new camera.  Nothing fancy, just an unsexy Samsung PL120.  It takes great pictures, is reasonably priced, has fun features (see picture above!) and is nicely intuitive to use.

Normally, my savvy husband does all the research for our electronics shopping adventures.  This time, however,  I had decided, since I’m the techie idiot, who better to do the idiot testing?  My method was simple.  I went to Target and played with the cameras in the $150 range.  My idea of playing with electronics is disqualifying anything I can’t reasonably navigate within a minute.  Zero.  Patience.

Once I disqualified all but the Samsung, I did a quick research from my phone to see what others had to say.  I smiled.  I’m not the only idiot out here who appreciates simplicity.

I also appreciate the countless generations who came before me, those who made my camera buying experience possible.

It’s partly sentimental, because my dear dad was a techie in the Associated Press back in the 60’s and 70’s.  His huge, company-issued station wagons were only big enough to hold ONE computer.  He died at 38 and we often think of the immense joy he would have found at being on this earth in these days of amazing technology.

But there’s something else.  I have come to believe simplicity and technology are about much more than electronics and other cool stuff.  It’s about Project Humanity’s collective and progressive discovery of God, who built the universe upon the foundation of  witty mathematics.  Think of snapping your pictures and putting them on Facebook.  How could you possibly explain this to someone living in biblical times?  Or maybe you could show them?  Might they insist it was the work of God who put those glowing images in strange boxes all over the world?  Well . . . they’d be right.  Doesn’t the discovery of cameras, computers, the Internet–even our brains that figured out the cameras, computers, the Internet–hinge on thousands of years of collective mathematical discovery?  God is love but he talks in numbers.

I love that God says he is light.  In the story of Noah’s Ark, he gives us a rainbow to show his promise of love.  I’m guessing back in those days, people had no idea a rainbow was literally the revelation of light.   I think God was giving us more than a promise.  He was giving us a clue.

Maybe you’re not into techie stuff?  Maybe you just want to bask in the simplicity of nature?  Okay.  Sit under the trees.  Gaze at the stars.  Have zero patience for anything other than their beauty.  But don’t be fooled.  It’s thanks to God Technology that they are nicely intuitive to use.

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What’s on Your Christmas List?

Are you feeling it? That longing for simplicity and joy in the midst of running around like mad trying to keep up with the season? What is on your wish list? I have a feeling it’s not something from a department store. Most everyone is feeling the pressure of producing lovely Christmas memories on an increasingly smaller budget, while of course the dollars we get hold less and less value. Time to take a deep breath and think about all the things that make you smile at Christmas time.  Here are some of my favorites. (Cliche warning!  If you venture beyond this paragraph don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Enjoying the views of Wisconsin winter from our house on the hill.

Off to the woods to cut down our tree.  Okay, the woods aren’t ours.  They belong to the Christmas tree farms.  We’re lucky to have so many beautiful places here in Wisconsin.  This year we got ours extra early so no snow . . .

Our tree filled with memories of a lifetime.

Christmas carols.  We all have our favorites.  Here are some of mine:

That Spirit of Christmas by Ray Charles
Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley
December Child by Cyndi Lauper
A Baby Just Like You by John Denver
Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Music Box Blues by Trans-Siberian Orchestra (anything by these amazing people!)
Bluegrass, White Snow by Patty Loveless
Santa Train by Patty Loveless
Suzy Snowflake by Rosemary Clooney
Frosty the Snowman by Fiona Apple
Face of Love by Jewel
Here was a Man by Johnny Cash
Cool Yule by Louis Armstrong
Winter Song by Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson
Winter Light by Linda Rondstadt
Mary Had a Little Lamb by Garth Brooks
Beautiful Star of Bethlehem by Patty Loveless
Go, Tell It On the Mountain by BarlowGirl
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Jimmy Boyd
What Child is This by Tanya Tucker
While Roving on a Winter’s Night by Darol Anger
 

Making cookies with the kids.  It’s always a mess and there’s usually yelling at some point.  This is actually an old Easter picture but you’ll get the idea of the craziness.  Don’t worry.  No human mouths touched his finished cookies.

Christmas cards, a dying tradition I just can’t let go.  I save all of my favorite cards and dream over them during the season.  What a sap I know.  But don’t knock it.  It’s a great way to relax and simply enjoy beauty–no standing around in an expensive art museum, plus you can drink hot cocoa if you promise not to spill.

Handmade gifts.  When we were young newlyweds, we made most of our presents for family members.  Nowadays I try to at least make ornaments for all of our kids and grandkids each Christmas.  Here is one I made in 2008 using an old greeting card and painted cardboard.

Finding gifts in unexpected places.  My daughters and I love to spend the entire year keeping our eyes open for presents at rummage sales, Goodwill, St. Vinny’s  and small thrift shops.  No amount of mall shopping could have unearthed this little treasure.  Does anybody know more about these beautiful containers?  I’m picturing a little granny with her crochet hook . . . The cards all have a similar look.  I’d love to know who the artist is.

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Attempts to get all the grandkids in front of the tree and smiling at the same time.  We came close in 2006!

Remembering the excitement of getting ready for Christmas when my girls were little.   I can still smell their little shampooed heads.  My doll babies.

Wishing all the hurt away.  Let us remember the beauty of Christmas can be a source of great pain for many people.  But don’t stop celebrating because we have sadness and worry.  Just add a little compassion and gentleness to your gift list.  It’s the ultimate gift you can afford to give everybody, even yourself.  It’s free and personal.  It’s the original Christmas gift, recycled for over 2000 years.

DISH DARTS: Ode to Jergens Lotion (Cherry Almond) Bagel Spread

I love food blogs.  Someday I might even write a food blog.  But for now you’re stuck with my new food feature, DISH DARTS, on this everything-blog.  I’m all about no-fuss so don’t expect kitchen wizardry.  But I do have high standards:  Fresh.  Quick-and-easy.  Fun-to-eat.

You might notice I don’t give much direction on amounts and measuring.  Sometimes it is important to measure, but most of the time, you should be in charge of how much of whatever you like to put in your food.  You’re the boss and you get to eat it.

I also don’t have an endless store of ideas, so I might often hit up my talented friends and family for recipes/ideas to feature.  They’d get all the credit of course.  (All credit is paid in glory.  Sorry no cash.)  And if they’re shy I can use an alias or first name only . . .

When you have a few minutes, please check out http://foodpress.com.  It’s a brand new place WordPress has created for all sorts of food blogs and postings.  (For your convenience I’ve added it to my list of links to the right.)  Okay.  You’ve probably guessed it.  I wouldn’t mind getting featured over there once in a while.  But I don’t need it.  I am a homebody.  All I need is my cozy kitchen and comfy blog, and of course a few happy readers.

And . . . you readers will be very happy if you make this yummers Cherry Almond Bagel Spread.  It’s an Ode to Jergens Lotion because, as a young girl in the 60’s, I have very fond memories of the pretty black labeled lotion bottle sitting by our kitchen sink.  (Sorry Jergens but your vintage bottle was way cooler than the modern version.)  I’ve always loved the cherry almond smell, although as a child I had no idea it was cherry almond.  I also had no idea it would one day inspire my bagel spread.  Actually, I had never heard of a bagel back then.

Warning! Not for use with your bagel spread.
Ode to Jergens Lotion (Cherry Almond) Bagel Spread
  • cream cheese (I like Neufchatel cheese–it’s much less fat)
  • a little sugar (I like brown sugar)
  • a dash of almond extract
  • dried tart cherries (you can find these next to raisins, dates, etc.)
  • sliced almonds (best if you lightly toast them in a skillet with a dab of butter)
  • plain bagels
  1.  Soften the cream cheese.
  2. Add a little sugar to taste.
  3. Add almond extract to taste.
  4. Stir in dried cherries.
  5. Spread mixture over toasted bagels.
  6. Smother in toasted almonds.
 If you’re lucky enough to have some leftover you will get a delightful surprise.  After a day or so (stored in the fridge of course) the dried cherries in the mixture will plump up and burst open with yumminess when you spread it over the bagels.
Maybe you have your own memories of the Jergens 1960’s bottle?  I’d love to hear about them.  Whether you do or don’t, you can still go out and buy yourself the modern version.  It still smells wonderful.  And you might be buying a bottle of memories for your child . . .

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