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Well, friends...

I'm moving my blog to blogspot.com -- you can find me there at:

'Needle Girl'


See you soon!
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Pantone's choice for 2008 Color of the Year, is:

(are you ready -- slight drumroll)


Lest those of you (like yours truly) aren't sure of this stunning new development's true shade, I present the 'official' notice, thanks to Trend Office:


Actually, it looks like good 'ol royal or cobalt blue to me...but who am I to argue with such brilliance!
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It's freezing here. The dogs huddle together...Goonie heaves a big sigh under the blanket Dave spread over him, with just his (Goonie's, not Dave's) nose showing.

After a few days of slug-ness, staying by the fireplace and watching movies, I feel my blood back up and flowing. Hardly any Christmas stuff up, except a wreath by the front door, and three houses glowing on the mantelpiece. Maybe I'll get the creche out tomorrow...and that signals the official beginning for the Bricks' holidays.

Hope you are not stressing too much -- and all is going well. Keep your nose covered!
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and here's a great start: some of the best 'do-it-on-the-cheap' ideas for decorating for the holidays, great presents, and dealing with family! This comes thanks to 'Crazy Aunt Purl,' a zany knitter with a houseful of cats who lives in the Los Angeles area. (and says that Christmas has 'vomited up all over' her neighborhood. (!!!)

Make sure you read the comments -- right to the end. There's where the meat of the ideas show up.


It is tan and gray here...a big storm is moving in, but looks like it will be bad north of us, and bad south of us...but here in the Denver area, we'll be fine! (This happened the same way in the last bad storm.) Well, what am I griping about -- last winter, we got nailed.
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I've got work to do, both upstairs and downstairs (in the office). So why am I goofing around, watching videos?

Because they are SO amazing!

Try this talking kitty video...needless to say, the "boys" (our two Weimaraners) were not thrilled:


And one of the most amazing ski videos I've ever seen -- if this one doesn't get your heart pumping, well, something's wrong:


And I have ten minutes left to fool around, then back to work (sigh).
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The floor is...gasp...naked!! It's the first time since early November that I've seen the linoleum next to the door. The boxes of quilts/fabric/just plain STUFF are gone. Downstairs, where they belong. Now to put them on the shelves...

I could get used to this clean house business. It is like slipping on a shirt, fresh from the clothesline. And for a moment, the smell of fresh air and clouds surrounds you as the collar slides over your head and the sleeves fit against your wrists. Mmmmm.

Turkey and gravy tonight -- and more cleaning up tomorrow. No matter. It feels good right now.
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...well, it couldn't last forever.

Thanksgiving, with both girlies (plus college buddies), friend Constance and son, was great. We didn't clean the house like we should have -- but I am still being drained by that stupid flu. (I can do stuff, I just run out of steam pretty fast.)

Nonetheless, I found that with the turkey on the (recently cleaned) table, and the candles lit, no one cared that the kitchen floor wasn't mopped. So nice, to have the people you love, faces looking at you, warmed by the candlelight. I am so thankful for them!

After cleaning up the mountain of dishes that remained (thank you, Angel), Dave and I left for a few days in Albuquerque with cousins Jack and Kathy. It wasn't so much fun getting there -- lots of snow on the highway -- but we had a good time wandering around Albuquerque, going to a Christmas open house, a surprise visit to Trader Joe's (an incredible store that makes Cost Plus and Pier 1 Imports look like Macey's!), and brunch with cousin Angie and J & K's grandson Cash. Got home last evening, lit a fire in the fireplace to take the chill off the house, and read the Sunday papers. Nice.

Now it is Monday. The phone is ringing, and I am looking at a pile of catch-up work for the biz. Sigh. At least it isn't dirty dishes!

Here are some great turkey-cooking tips...they'll come in handy for Christmas:

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It all started with Grandma. She only came up to the shoulders of 90% of her grandchildren, but that never stopped this feisty woman from Being In Charge. Every Thanksgiving dinner was spent at Grandma's house, stuck in the kitchen with the rest of my umpteen cousins. Being one of the youngest relatives-- my mom was last of 8 children, who each had at least four children themselves -- meant that I was relegated to the 'kids' table in the kitchen until I went to high school. Sure, we weren't jammed into the long table that ran the length of the living room, but it meant that we missed out on the good gossip. (On the other hand, we got to snitch bits of turkey when no one was looking!)

One memorable year, Grandma ran low on gravy for her insatiable brood, and decided to add a few jars of old stuff from the freezer. The problem started when people started lifting mashed potatoes and gravy to their lips. (We kids were lucky -- the bowl and ladle hadn't made it to our table yet.) The gravy tasted like an old, moldy shoe...and that from those who wanted to say something nice about it!

All conversation stopped. Dead. Needless to say, Grandma noticed. "Whats the matter with you all?" she demanded. More silence. Saying something bad about Grandma's cooking was the kiss of death, and no one wanted to do it.

"Uh, nothing, Gram. Nothing at all. Gee, the food's great!" And forks started (reluctantly) going back up. People soon discovered that if they gently scraped the gravy off and shoved it to one side, the food was still reasonably edible. Mashed potatoes and butter became the new favorite, and every now and then, someone gagged down a spoonful or two of the horrendous stuff.

In the kitchen, the aunts managed to get rid of any gravy left, as well as keep their innocent little children from tasting it. How they did it, I have no idea -- we had big mouths, and didn't hesitate to announce anything unusual within our notice! (We probably got bribed with extra sugar cookies.)

Somehow we all got through Thanksgiving without gagging down anymore of that horrible gravy...and Grandma finding out. But next year was a wash. The gravy was fine. (The aunts made sure of that.) But the second someone lifted a bite of turkey-and-gravy up, it started. "Grandma's gravy," someone said, and elbowed their neighbor. Poor Grandma. She fought off the snickers with dignified silence and dirty looks. But it was too much. By the time the gravy bowl reached the end of the table, people all the way down were choking on their food and snorting with laughter.

Grandma has been gone for more than two decades. But ever since, put our family at a holiday table, and the jokes begin. "Grandma's gravy," someone chortles. And I have been known to check and double-check that the gravy tastes ok!

I learned the basics of gravy from my mom (who learned it from Grandma!), but have been doing my own revisions for years. It works well for any kind of meat or poultry, but in the spirit of the holidays, this version is for turkey. It's savoury, easy to make and virtually lump-free. Here's what's needed:

*3-4 cups of broth...make it from the turkey neck, giblets, and any leftover vegetable detritus from making the stuffing or veggie platter. (I'll use onion skins, celery ends, and carrot stubs.) Put all this in a saucepan, fill with water, and let simmer while the turkey is roasting. (approx. 2-4 hours) Drain the broth off, add the giblets (chopped). Discard everything else.

*2-3 cups of drippings from the turkey pan. (Add a cup of water before you start roasting, to keep the turkey moist.) Gently scrape the pan to get the crusty bits - they'll add flavor.

*2 teaspoons celery salt

*1 teaspoon pepper (fresh-ground is best)

*2 chicken bouillon cubes

*1/2 cup cornstarch, stirred into 1 cup water (this is called a "slurry")

Put broth and drippings back into the saucepan. (If you've got time, cool this and lift the fat off - if not, gently scoop off the top layer with a big spoon - you'll get most of the fat that way, too.) Add salt, pepper and bouillon, and bring to a bubble. Gently stir in the cornstarch "slurry;" continue stirring for about a minute, until mixture thickens. Let simmer (low temp) for 10 min., then keep on low heat while you're serving the meal. Serves 4-8 amply...except for those who've had "Grandma's gravy!"

Happy Thanksgiving to you, dear friends.
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...no elk bagged. Dave and Angel got home Sunday night, tired and moderately stinky. They showered quickly, and off we went to the church Thanksgiving supper. I was feeling some better, but still dragged myself there.

They never even saw animals to fire at!

On the other hand, deer and antelope were everywhere. And the Department of Wildlife had decreed there would be no deer and antelope licenses offered for that section. Hmmm. And wild animals don't have intelligence? Ha!

It's wonderful to have Dave back home. (Angel's back in Boulder in her regular life, though we'll see her and Older Sister, along with some college buddies, on Thursday.)

I did a lecture in Pueblo -- hi, friends at Pride City Guild, I'm seeing your kind and welcoming faces in my mind right now!! -- on Monday. They are wonderful people (but don't tell 'em I said that, ok). Got home, collapsed...and have spent today catching back up. Oh yes, and washing hunting clothes, too.

Buck and Goonie are sad not to be sleeping on the bed anymore...but I have someone much more snuggly to cuddle up with right now. And the sore throat is gradually easing. Now, if I had more stamina...but that too will come in time.

Big snowstorm looming over us tonight. (It's almost 1 a.m.) Storms are weird here -- either the mountains protect us, and we get a bare scraping; or we get Dumped On. So far, no flakes coming down.
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Hi guys,
Doing better. Really. I stay inside, staring out the window and drinking boatloads of tea. The dogs are enjoying this; they get Mom's attention all to themselves, snacks, and even a cozy snooze nighttimes on Mom's bed! (Weimaraners are not lap puppies, and they take up most of the bed. Shoving. Snoring. Chasing phantom bears. Buck, the oldest, will even insist on putting his head on the pillow, unless Mom objects. I should mention here that though they are not, Weimaraners think they ARE lap puppies.)
The sore throat is letting up. Finally (again). But I am so behind on needed work that it's pathetic.

Check out http://www.suite101.com

and look for 'CindyBrick!'

P.S. Still no elk, still dry as a bone. It's Friday; hunting season ends Sunday. And a big snowstorm is slated to hit Colorado Tuesday morning. Go figure.
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