On to 2015!

We've chosen to spend a quiet New Year's Eve at home this year, probably only the second or third time for me since 1989. I have to admit, it's nice and it allows me a little time to reflect on 2014 and how I want to do some things differently. Something tells me 2015 is going to be very different than any year so far.

Thank you for continuing to read my posts, and may your year ahead be absolutely grand!


Christmas Polar Bear Cake

In my web searches this holiday season, I found a cake that's similar to this and thought, "Hey, I can make that!" Inside, though, I was afraid it might turn out like those awful Pinterest "Nailed it!" fails that people post in Facebook. I thought I'd give it a try anyway and this is the outcome. I opted for snowflakes instead of polka dots and a round shape instead of square. It was a lot easier than I anticipated. Although I'd never worked with fondant before, I'm really pleased with the outcome! So much, in fact, I'm going to make more cakes in 2015. Watch out, friends and family, when your birthday comes around!

Guess I should add that the cake itself is a gingerbread cake with seedless strawberry jam between the layers.


We'll Phone You

I love how my worst nightmares about the holiday season aren't coming true this year. Since about 2002 the prospect of gift and feast buying has sent me into a cold sweat, but things are, as they say, looking up and I'm ready for the hoopla that is Christmas. The house is festive with decorations, the pantry is full with the ingredients for various holiday treats, gifts are beginning to appear beneath the tree, and we're looking forward to the arrival of our two daughters from NYC and Memphis, respectively. The only unhappy thing is that our son, Nathan, can't join us this year. As a chef at Chicago's Fairmont Hotel, he's sort of up to his neck in preparing meals for other people (we have yet to receive the benefit of his culinary expertise).

Dare I say it? Things are great and there's a certain vibe in the air that this is just the beginning of even better things to come. Does this mean we passed the audition?


Cottage Cats

Lowrider & Mozie
We have two cats here at Bookends Cottage. Lowrider has been with us since 2007 when she was given to us by a neighbor at St. Michael's and Mozie, a kitten we adopted during the summer of 2012. Actually, Lowrider adopted Mozie after he was orphaned at the wee age of about five weeks. She was a good stepmother for a long time, but now she can't stand him and I think she regrets having taken him in. I took over the job of taming him, which took about two weeks of constant coaxing with food and the blinky eye cat thing, and now he's the most affectionate cat I've ever had the pleasure to know. At least with our family. As soon as anyone else appears, he's out the cat flap. Both of our cats are what I call "indoor-outdoor" cats as both of them were born feral.

"It's 5 o'clock. Feed me."
One of Lowrider's quirks is that she wants to be outside most of the time, regardless of the weather. She comes in only at dinner time after sitting on the little table outside the large kitchen window, staring in as if to say, "It's 5 o'clock. Feed me." Daylight savings time doesn't seem to faze her; she always there at five, sharp. She even prefers to sleep outside, even on the coldest nights, but I have no idea where. I always leave one of the garage doors cracked so that she can get in out of the cold, and she knows where the cat flap is and how to use it. Still, she stays outside unless it's raining, when she comes in, begrudgingly, to sleep on the counter in the master bathroom. Silly cat. There is soft, cozy furniture in our house. Before Mozie joined our family, Lowrider slept on the bed with us nearly every night during the cold months. Why his appearance should change this I don't know, because he doesn't sleep with us.

Mozie sleeps in the house most of the day, moving from the window seat in our bedroom to the leather chair beside the piano and then to the antique chair in the living room. After dinner, he begins his sprint in and out the cat flap, sometimes using it as often as every five or ten minutes. In, out, in out... I can't image what hell life would be if I hadn't installed that lifesaver. He finally settles in the antique chair about 2am when Nigel can be relieved from his duties as Cat Flap Sentry. Having decided he's too grown up for his crate, Nigel now sleeps in the maroon wing back.

Feel free to add your own caption
And lest you think these pictures are evidence that I'm a cruel cat mom because I kept the cats outside in the cold, they wanted to be there. I let them in a number of times, but they always wanted back out. And they do have a cat flap, after all. Silly cats.



This year we're giving ourselves a two-week break between the cooking and washing up of Thanksgiving and the decorating for Christmas. We usually like to do this the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but after everything that's happened since October, we just haven't had it in us to care. But the spirit of the season is beginning to tickle our toes and we've agreed to just do it.

Of course, what with summer stuff brought in out of the weather and two girls moving out-of-state leaving 30-gallon trash bags, cardboard boxes, and plastic bins of clothes, shoes, purses, and bottles of half-used product with us, getting to the Christmas boxes is going to be a major project. This means that, although I'll be hauling the boxes in (and out) on Saturday, I'll also be freezing my tush off blazing a trail to just get to them (which also means tearing down empty boxes and going through everything to sort the usual "keep, donate, or trash" specifications. It also will require me to lower the attic ladder and haul crap up there. This will be both exhausting and dangerous because I'm an old lady and cannot be trusted not to fall and break a hip.

See the boxes against the wall, beneath the dart boards? Those are the Christmas boxes. Once upon a time the garage was orderly and uncluttered, but now we can't even park one of the cars in it. All this must be changed this week, not only so we can get to the boxes, but also so that the cars can be pulled in before the snow season hits. Many trips to the city recycling dumpsters and thrift shops will be made this week.


The reward is the weekend of January 16-18 when we'll be staying at Tenkiller Ferry Lake, about 150 miles from here, in a lovely three-bedroom house that a friend has generously offered to us. Just Lynette, Nigel and me, no internet, no phones, just three days of R&R. All I'm taking in the way of "work" is my guitar and my journal in case a song comes to me. The anticipation of this mini-vacation / honeymoon sustains us and provides the incentive we need to get through the holidays. We haven't been able to afford going away alone with each other—even for an over-nighter—since 2001. I even had to text Lynette to find out when that was. That's how long it's been.

Now, that really gives me incentive!