Sunday, December 31, 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006

An Exciting Announcement and Friday Cat Blogging

Announcement: I'm a grandma!

OK, not really. Only sort of.

My sweet little dog, my sweet little and supposedly sterile dog (Shadow), just gave birth to six of the cutest mutts I've ever seen at about 5am this morning. Two girls and four boys.

There's a cat in this story so it's still cat blogging, right?

See, what happened was (all the greatest tales begin with "See, what happened was..."), my sweet little Shadow was just waiting on the right man, er, dog. It would seem that she wasn't sterile after all but just "confused", suffering an identity crisis if you will. Once she either realized she wasn't a cat or my cat Thor (who interestingly enough has been "fixed") would never return her love, she headed straight into the paws of a fellow dog.

Years ago, the vet assured me that Shadow must be unable to conceive after quite a few attempts over the years to introduce her to a certain fellow named Lucky (who turned out to be not so lucky after all). I would just like to note for the record that it was I who said, "Are you sure she's not just convinced she is a cat?" Yeah, he rolled his eyes at that, at me. Well, who is rolling their eyes now, Mister?! Everyone reading this post, you say? Shuddup, you!

Seriously, all the signs were there from the very beginning. The laying on her back and waving her feet in the air, like a total moron, every time so-called Lucky showed interest in her. Growling and biting him when he became more persistent, as if to say "Hello, I'm a friggin' C A T, you dope!" Then there was the refusing to eat anything but cat food. The chasing after and looks of longing cast Thor's way. Following him everywhere, wagging her tail (the tail tells no tales?) and slobbering on him whenever he walked by. The trying to follow him up trees and repeatedly attempting to join him on the back of the sofa, only to come crashing down again and again. Oh, and the sitting on his head! Dancing in circles on her hind legs, begging for him whenever I picked him up to save him from her obsession with licking his face. It was all there in black and white! Suffice to say, it was as if Shadow was never quite sure exactly what she was supposed to be doing in that respect...but whatever it was, she surely wanted to be doing it with Thor.

It probably didn't help matters much that Shadow was an apartment dweller the first years of her life, raised with cats, and never even saw another dog until she was two years old. Whaddyado? I loved her despite her sterile status (confused orientation) and only wanted her to have puppies for her own sake. I wanted her to experience the joy of motherhood just once before towing her off to the vet to be spayed, but it just wasn't in the cards.

Or so I thought...

Three years after moving to the sticks, Shadow has slowly but surely become a dog. She no longer smells of strawberries and cream, she rolls in the grass and dirt. She no longer lounges inside under the AC in the summer but digs a hole and lays in it. No more burying chew toys in the sofa cushions, she's out there running with the big dogs now. Her not so little friends, Duke and Zoe (both neutered males) from down the street stop by often to visit, play and chew bones (and anything else I forgot to put up). They bring her presents, such as the leg of a deer (I'm starting to think I'm not getting any good photographs lately because my neighbors are eating all the nature) and a good time is had by all.

Then, with the new neighbors came a new kid on the block, a blonde Lab. Oh, and a brindle colored Boxer too. Now where did he come from?! And here I thought that was sooo adorable, Shadow's making new friends.

Well, it would appear that Shadow was making a little more than friends as her tummy began to grow larger and larger (and larger still).

There was much stressing and running to the vet. I'm sure everyone found my major wigging out over it all quite amusing, but I had to make huge decisions for this very special little dog of mine. Could she safely have her puppies? Would they simply be too large? Would she need a C-section? Was it even worth the risk? Oh yes, there was much to consider and as you have already read, I decided that it was worth the risk (with close monitoring) as this was Shadows one and only chance to have puppies (at all, ever). Of course the good vet managed to reassure me with phrases like "nice wide bone structure".

If I didn't know better, I'd swear Shadow rolled her eyes at that.

Ahem.

So anyhow, today the six year old Shadow is one happy mommy. She did a great job and there was much rejoicing!

Most especially relieved by the recent turn of events, is Thor, I'm sure. :)

Brand new puppy pictures will follow. Tomorrow, after the new mom has had a chance to rest a little (and I've changed the grossness that is now her bedding, ew).

Until then...

Shadow, checking out the new camera. I think maybe she's checking to see if it needs killin'.











Here she is ferociously showing all the wild beasts of the forest her fangs in order to better protect me.










Honestly, that's really the middle of a yawn, getting terribly bored with all the taking photos.

Here she is even more bored than before, if such is even possible.










Last, but certainly not least, I give you Thor's thoughts on the entire subject.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Top Ten Tips to a Merry Christmas

I've created this list of tips in order to help my own family enjoy the holiday (which begins in less that one hour for us because my dad is working the holiday as usual...ggrr), and thought you guys might find these tips useful as well.

10. If sparks fly when plugging 20 year old Christmas lights into an outlet, go ahead and splurge on new lights.

9. It's way easier (and probably cheaper) to just replace certain decorations than to purchase 10 apple-spice plug ins to cover that electrical/melting plastic smell.

8. Spike that Christmas punch. Face it, nothing is more merry than getting grandma tipsied up.

7. Be certain that nobody is on prescription medicines (that aren't to be mixed with alcohol) before spiking the Christmas punch (doh!).

6. For those of you visiting alcohol free zones- Always keep trial sized bottles in the purse and glove compartment of vehicles.

5. NEVER drink and drive. Besides the obvious, it gives others joy to find you passed out under their tree, spooning the family pet, on Christmas morning.

4. When visiting multiple homes on Christmas day, never say "I've already eaten" or go on and on about how good someone else's stuffing is. Just shuddup and eat like you've never eaten before.

3. Never tell the story about when you first discovered there was no Santa in front of children.

2. Never tell that "When I was stationed in Korea at Christmas time..." story, involving two Korean prostitutes and an angry pimp, in front of children.

Honestly, we love it that you've served and adore hearing about how you came to get those stitches in your head (time and time again), but timing is everything here. ;)


And the number one tip to producing a Merry Christmas...


1. Never tell caroling 3-5 year olds in a Christmas choir to "shut up" then throw them out of the mall.

I guarantee, they will cry, and there's nothing merry about that.




I'll end with a funny Christmas quote:

The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C.

This wasn't for any religious reason.

They just couldn't find three wise men and a virgin!
--- Jay Leno

Merry Christmas to all. :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

First...Hooray it's no longer Monday!

Second...still all warm and pretty here- No Christmas snow. :(

Yet.

In case you've all not quite figured it out yet, posting will be light until after Christmas, and totally unrelated to politics at that. Who can think about today's political scene and keep their dinner down, much less enjoy the holiday? Oo

Speaking of losers, today I bring you the exact opposite- Winners!

The winners of the Christmas contest are Insolublog and Peakah (whose entry is in the comments here) , and not just because these were the only two entries (ok, that too) but also because their efforts totally rock. Bee-u-tee-ful! Be sure to check them out.

UPDATE I- Yay! I missed someone. Not yay I missed them but yay we have another winner. A Christmas memory from Wyatt Earp (that sentimental fool). Bring tissues. *sniff*

UPDATE II- Stew Magoo of The Right Place brings us "Twas The Night Before Christmas". A must read!

The second image, a digital Christmas painting, is finally finished. Preview here. First image here. The third image isn't finished so I'll just save it for a Christmas day post (if done by then).

Anywho, I guess maybe the busy week before Christmas isn't the best time to have a contest, huh? In any case, heartfelt thanks go out to both of you (yes, poetry makes me that happy *g*). Email at pj_maximum@yahoo.com with shipping information to collect prints and stuff (yeah, stuff is code for stalking), or hq images via email, your choice. :)

Hope everyone is getting in the mood for Christmas cheer (or booze), with less than a week to go now, the countdown begins...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Contests and Yummy Recipes

---Warning: Floating Post. Please scroll for new posts---

Update: One winter print has been completed. Click here to view. I think the next will be my favorite of the season, though, because kids are so darn cute. Be teased! :)



Yeah, we're still making "the list"...but the post will no longer float as there's even more holiday fun in store. But first, I'll share some yummy recipes (next post down). If you'd like to share a recipe (or two) in return, leave it in the comments and I'll give it a taste. ;)

Now for the contest.

There are three categories and there will be three winners, one from each category.

Best Christmas Poetry (any style)

Best Christmas Story (fiction please)

Best Christmas Memory/Story (non-fiction please)

Whether the submissions are humorous, political, religious or plain ole mushy in nature...please try to work Christmas in there somewhere!

Bloggers, please post submissions on your own blog and either link back or leave a comment letting me know you're submitting an entry. Those of you who do not have your own blogs can either leave your submission in the comments or email it to me at pj_maximum@yahoo.com. Again, I'll choose one winner per category so be sure to let me know which category you're entering.

Our winners will receive their choice Christmas (or winter themed) image on an 11oz mug, 9.25" x 7.75" mouse pad, 4"x3" magnet, or large key chain (exact size of key chain is undisclosed). I'll be using
Photobucket.com's printing services and have never used them before so quality is unknown (although I've personally heard good things). I will add the Christmas or winter themed images to my Photobucket gallery then post the link to the gallery so winners can choose an image. I hope to have three or more photography, digital art (or combinations of both) images to choose from...but no huge promises there because I have no idea how many friends will be taking me up on the free portraits offer this year and may run short on time.

Winners will need to share their address with me via email so I can have their item of choice shipped directly to them via Photobucket prints, and I hereby promise to never stalk you. Unless you're single, hot (and male)...then I might just happen to bump into you in the bushes in front of your house. I kid, I kid! Seriously, I completely understand those of you who may be uncomfortable with sharing such personal information and the only alternate solution I can think of is to send a very high quality image to any potentially nervous winner via email so they are able to order their own product (be it a mug, print...etc) from wherever they like, or they can just click on "order prints" themselves once the gallery link is made available (in which case they'll have to pay for it themselves). Whaddyado?

As for everyone else, when the gallery link is posted, you are welcome to click on "order prints" in photobucket as well (not that I could stop you anyhow, just sayin'). :)

The contest deadline is midnight, December 18th. You have exactly one week from midnight tonight to enter.

So start writing!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Recipes

Irish Chocolate Cake

6oz self-raising flour
1/2tsp salt
2oz dark chocolate
4oz butter
6oz superfine sugar
3oz cooked mashed potato
2 eggs, beaten
4tbsp milk

Filling
4oz dark chocolate
4fl oz double cream
2oz confectionery sugar
3tbsp Irish cream liqueur

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins. Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Melt chocolate in a bowl placed over a saucepan of hot water.
In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar together til it's fluffy, then beat in the chocolate and mashed potato. Next, beat the eggs in gradually, adding a little
flour with each addition. Fold the rest of the flour in then stir in the milk. Equally divide mixture between cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes
(or until top is firm but springy to the touch). Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.

While the cake is cooling, make the filling-

Melt the chocolate exactly as before, stir in the other ingredients, mixing well. Use the filling to sandwich the spongy layers together, then coat the top and sides of the cake.

(Note- If the chocolate sponge cake ingredients above make your tummy turn due to the potato-ee-ness, any basic chocolate sponge cake recipe will do. The devil's in the filling on this one, imo.)


Dough Bread

1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. shortening
1/3 c. milk

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Blend in shortening with pastry blender. Stir in milk with a fork until soft dough is formed. On lightly floured surface, knead dough 2 or 3 times. Pat smooth to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into fourths with a knife (floured). Place several at a time into the deep fat fryer, turning often, browning evenly.(Cooking time is approx 4-5 minutes.) Drain on paper towels. You can sprinkle with cinnamon, confectioners' sugar or top with butter.

Personally, I top with butter and then sprinkle with sugar as well. Great dipped into Blueberry Wojapi (recipe to follow).


Blueberry Wojapi

3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar (can replace sugar with 1 cup of honey)
3 cups water
1 cup blueberries
(Additional water to mix with flour to make paste.)


Mix flour with water to make a paste, set aside. (So sorry, I've never measured exactly how much water, so just make a paste already. Honestly, it is difficult to go wrong here.) Put blueberries into a medium sauce pan. Add the 3 cups water and 1 cup sugar (or 1 cup honey replacement), then mash the blueberries. Heat until boiling. Slowly add the previously mixed flour paste to make a gravy-like mixture. Serve hot, warm or cold with dough bread.


Last but certainly not least...chili!

Note- If you are a fan of Wendy's chili, you'll love this quick and easy chili recipe. :)

2lbs ground beef
1 med onion, chopped
1 med green bell pepper, chopped
1 14oz can stewed tomatoes
5 8oz cans tomato sauce
1 29oz can pinto beans
1 29oz can kidney beans
1 14oz can diced Rotel Tomatoes
1 McCormick mild chili seasoning

Brown ground beef, drain. Add all remaining ingredients, along with browned ground beef, into large pot. Cook until onion and pepper are tender. Serve. :)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Holiday Fun

All holiday fun should begin with song!




Oh the Senate change is frightful



Their leaders weak and spiteful



And since so many don't seem to know



Socialists blow! Socialists blow! Socialists blow!




It doesn't show signs of stopping



Pelosi's veins are popping



We have reached a new all time low



Socialists blow! Socialists blow! Socialists blow!




Give your security a kiss goodnight



How we'll hate the terrorist's scorn



But with our dollars liberals hold really tight



Laughing all the way (to the bank) they'll be warm




The freedom is slowly dying



Ruled with fearful spineless crying



Better stock your own arms and ammo
Cuz...
Socialists blow! Socialists blow! Socialists blow!



Hooray for holiday fun, huh?

Wait, that's not all!

Throughout the month of December, in anticipation of Christmas of course, we will be making a list. Yes, a list. A naughty or nice list to be more exact.

(pause for effect...)

We all know what a busy guy Santa is, so I thought we'd all pitch in and help him out this year by making a list (and uh, yeah, checking it twice...etc...etc).


Meet 3D Uber (who will be helping us keep track of those on Santa's list). Hooray for me in 3D! (created at IMVU.com)













Here is how we'll be keeping track of the naughty (and nice) who make our list.




If you'd like to add someone to the list, just tell me who in the comments and I'll add them. Add anyone you like (though I'm leaning towards crummy politicians). Giving a reason, quote, or link as to why you'd like to add them to the naughty or nice list is suggested but not required.

You can't produce a link? That's fine.

Your reasoning is merely because you don't like their looks? That works too.

You just want to make stuff up about them? Even better!

Hey, it's Christmas. :)

Just be careful to be nice throughout the month of December (the list will be finalized the 25th...or whenever I get to it). You wouldn't like to be the ham of a Clinton/Pelosi sammich on Santa's naughty list, would you?!

So what are you waiting for? Let's make that list!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pearl Harbor Day

Here's an interesting read from the Naval Historical Center.


"7 December 1941 Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor was one of the great defining moments in history. A single carefully-planned and well-executed stroke removed the United States Navy's battleship force as a possible threat to the Japanese Empire's southward expansion. America, unprepared and now considerably weakened, was abruptly brought into the Second World War as a full combatant.

Eighteen months earlier, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had transferred the United States Fleet to Pearl Harbor as a presumed deterrent to Japanese agression. The Japanese military, deeply engaged in the seemingly endless war it had started against China in mid-1937, badly needed oil and other raw materials. Commercial access to these was gradually curtailed as the conquests continued. In July 1941 the Western powers effectively halted trade with Japan. From then on, as the desperate Japanese schemed to seize the oil and mineral-rich East Indies and Southeast Asia, a Pacific war was virtually inevitable.

By late November 1941, with peace negotiations clearly approaching an end, informed U.S. officials (and they were well-informed, they believed, through an ability to read Japan's diplomatic codes) fully expected a Japanese attack into the Indies, Malaya and probably the Philippines. Completely unanticipated was the prospect that Japan would attack east, as well.

The U.S. Fleet's Pearl Harbor base was reachable by an aircraft carrier force, and the Japanese Navy secretly sent one across the Pacific with greater aerial striking power than had ever been seen on the World's oceans. Its planes hit just before 8AM on 7 December. Within a short time five of eight battleships at Pearl Harbor were sunk or sinking, with the rest damaged. Several other ships and most Hawaii-based combat planes were also knocked out and over 2400 Americans were dead. Soon after, Japanese planes eliminated much of the American air force in the Philippines, and a Japanese Army was ashore in Malaya.

These great Japanese successes, achieved without prior diplomatic formalities, shocked and enraged the previously divided American people into a level of purposeful unity hardly seen before or since. For the next five months, until the Battle of the Coral Sea in early May, Japan's far-reaching offensives proceeded untroubled by fruitful opposition. American and Allied morale suffered accordingly. Under normal political circumstances, an accomodation might have been considered.

However, the memory of the "sneak attack" on Pearl Harbor fueled a determination to fight on. Once the Battle of Midway in early June 1942 had eliminated much of Japan's striking power, that same memory stoked a relentless war to reverse her conquests and remove her, and her German and Italian allies, as future threats to World peace."
(Click for more.)

History teaches many a valuable lesson, does it not?

Visit The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.


"This date marked the first of one thousand three hundred and fifty one days of war that touched the lives of all who lived at that time.

The fabric of freedom is woven with the moral and spiritual lineage of the men and women of honor, courage and integrity. Those who value something more than their own personal safeties.

Let us never forget their strength, their love, their courage, their commitment, their dedication, their perseverance and their devotion for this great country."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Romance

Today, December 01, 2006...I hold the object of my desire.

The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi 10.1-Megapixel Digital SLR (released in August 06).



We are talking 0.2-second start-up time and shutter release lag of 0.01 sec. DIGIC II image processor, sophisticated signal-processing algorithms, low energy consumption, all sorts of photo style settings auto and manual exposure modes. 9-point, cross-pattern, wide-area autofocus with auto and manual point selection, AE lock, standard auto exposure bracketing; 35-zone evaluative, partial and center-weighted average exposure, and 3 fps continuous shooting with a maximum burst of 27 frames. White balance settings including auto, daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, flash and manual; built-in, pop-up E-TTL II auto flash (compat with EX-series Speedlite external flashes). Playback modes including single image, 9-image index, magnified zoom, auto play and auto play after shooting.

And all in a compact, lightweight design weighing 1.1 lbs.

Oh happy day, I am in love.

Canon does not make crap (and prices are sweet too)...remember that when/if filling those Digital SLR needs.

In celebration, I must go hiking. Photos to follow!