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Monday, November 28, 2016

Kids Love Crayola Washable Paints and So Do Parents


There's a lot of talk about Hatchables this Christmas. I'm not impressed. One parent told me that it took 20 minutes for the toy to hatch and that was too long for their child. The kid lost interest, left the room and missed seeing the toy begin to hatch. The little tyke cried.

Reminds me of the Furby my oldest granddaughter had. Its voice changed and this frightened her. There was no way to control the damn toy. It had become a toy in need of an exorcist. My granddaughter was terrified. We put the toy in a closet and it has stayed there ever since. It is not forgotten but shunned.

I've found some of the simplest toys are among the best. All my granddaughters love making art. This means washable Crayola paints. They come in a number of formulations and oodles of colours. Shoppers Drug Mart sells these and the Crayola paint brush kit at very reasonable prices

Kaleidoscopes have it a little harder when it comes to holding a kid's interested. But I find if I'm enthused and excited I can get the kids keen on these toys too. I love the kaleidoscope images and the kids love to take pictures of the constantly changing geometric patterns. A kaleidoscope plus a digital camera equals hours of entertainment but those hours will be spread over many weeks.

Hatchables? Humbug.

Individual Angel Food Cakes are Heart Healthy

Mini angle food cake baked in a small ramekin.
I have a bad heart. The problem is a severe arrhythmia and not hardening of the arteries. Still, my doctors have me on a heart healthy diet. One serious heart problem is enough. If the doctors and I can keep my arteries open, we will be somewhat ahead in this game.

Dinner tonight was pasta with fresh, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, hot peppers, sweet green peppers, grilled mushrooms and soft, low-fat, goat cheese. Dinner was healthy.

To follow such a heart healthy dinner,  my wife settled on angel food cake with three kinds of berries: black berries, raspberries and strawberries.

Tip: Keep an eye open for mini angel food cake pans. These hold about 2/3 cup of angel food cake batter. One box of angel food mix will make up to ten mini cakes. The best little pans have the traditional tube in the core. This helps to insure the middle of the cakes are cooked.

That said, the cake pictured was baked in a ramekin and it worked just fine. My wife is a superb cook.
I often hear folk complaining about being forced to eat healthy. They have no imagination. Healthy is fun. Healthy is delicious. Healthy is only way to cook.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The quietness of softly falling snow

I love winter. I like spring, summer and fall as well. Each season has its strong points. But winter are different. It stands proud, beautiful and apart. I'm surprised that such a wonderful time of year attracts so much bad press. Recently, columnist Larry Cornies went on an I-hate-winter rant. The piece was titled: No welcome mat for Old Man Winter.

Cornies has a rather depressing view of winter. It's a slushy-faced, drunken monster casting a dark shadow over all and sundry. He admits he didn't always feel this way but he was not too old when he began turning against one of God's fair seasons.

Cornies ends his rant by reprinting a poem by Thomas Hood, a 19th-­century English poet. I wondered if Cornies associates this poem with winter. If he does, he has attached the wrong poem. The poem is a downer, Larry. Allow me to suggest an more upbeat alternative.

When I was in grade school we memorized a poem with a much different tone. If memory serves me right, the poet was Dame Edith Sitwell who once said: "Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."


The poem I associate with winter is: "Christmas Snow."

 The night before Christmas
’Twas quiet all around;

’Twas quiet on the hills
And quiet on the ground;

’Twas quiet up above, 
And quiet down below;

And the quiet was the quietness
Of softly falling snow.


Whenever it snows, I recall that poem and smile as I look forward to the unique pleasures of winter.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Real life is filled with surprises


Recently my wife had our granddaughters, Eloise, 5, and Fiona, 7, making chocolate chip cookies. The two kids rallied to the task. They made some of the best tasting chocolate chip cookies I have ever had. The girls did not go light on the chocolate chips and I think that helped.

Now, about the hats. The kids didn't have hair nets and so to keep stray hairs out of the batter the two wore their outdoor winter hats. It worked, I guess. There were no hairs in the cookies.

When I look at this picture, I smile. This is a picture of two young kids making cookies. It is not a posed moment. Today if a newspaper is illustrating a story on kids making cookies, they might run a stock image rather than spend the time and money to shoot their own art. The image would work on the page but it would never show a neat moment like this one.

Stock photos reinforce stereotypical thinking and such thinking should be the antithesis of the thinking of a journalist. Sadly, today this is no longer the case.