Author: Janet

The Accidental Alchemist Series

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Love that Gargoyle!

I actually started this series by listening to book 4; The Alchemist’s Illusion. I then went back and started in on the first 3.

I’ve read urban fantasy off and on for years and have heard about Nicholas Flammel in a variety of places (Harry Potter?). Gigi Pandian’s work focuses on an alchemist who has found a home in Portland, Oregon after many years on the road in her pick up truck and Airstream trailer.

I have to tell you that it was the gargoyle, Dorian, who really caught my attention – even though I did like the main character.

I should also tell you that I, too, have a gargoyle in residence. However, mine doesn’t converse, cook or scamper about (that I know of) at odd times of the day or night.

The first three books in the series explain a lot about alchemy, history and the intricacies of vegan food. I know it isn’t to everyone’s taste, but there is nothing that says you can’t give it a try. The resolution to Dorian’s situation comes in book 3, but his story continues.

The reader does an amazing job and really helped me get into the stories. I enjoy all the characters – and each is well defined and presented. Portland, Oregon is becoming a character in itself.

If you are inclined, check out Gigi Pandian’s website HERE

Categories: Audiobooks Books

There’s A New Barn Cat!

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We have a brand new barn cat here at the OrangePlaidCat!

Her name is Belle (or Bella) – think Beauty and the Beast.

If you would like to learn more about her, please sign up for our monthly Newsletter. The next issue will have her story and a few pictures.

Categories: Pets

A Study in Kindness

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Did you know that Sesame Street will celebrate 50 years on the air later this year? Fifty years of Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Elmo and countless others.

I was well past the targeted viewer age when it debuted, but I watched. In fact, like many others, I have watched off and on for most of those soon to be 50 years.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood has been around for almost 57 years. That one I came to much later in life. Like many people, I found myself captivated by the simple message:

You are okay just as you are.

Both iconic shows endeavored to educate youngsters on a variety of topics. Sesame Street sought to start pre-kindergartners on the road to education by teaching numbers, colors, and simple concepts like ‘near’ or ‘far’. Mr. Rogers, thanks to Mr. McFeeley and the magic mirror, gave us a behind the scenes look at lots of things. How crayons are made, what do bakers do, etc.

Both, however, dealt with topics and issues that went beyond basic education. They taught people of all ages about kindness, empathy, and compassion.

By dealing with scary topics like divorce, 9/11 and natural disasters, kids were given the tools they needed to begin to understand ways to deal with a world neither they, nor their parents, controlled.

Ethnic and religious differences were shown not as a negative, but as a potential starting point to getting to know your neighbor. This was extended to include Autism and physical impairment.

Not bad for shows with puppets and silly kid songs. 🙂

Happy Birthday, Sesame Street!

Categories: Musings TV

Odds and Ends

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I spent a lovely three hours last night with Murdoch Mysteries via AcornTV. The season started loading in January, but I’ve been deliberately holding off for Just The Right Time. Not entirely sure, but I might spend a bit more time with them tonight.

I’ve been enjoying lots of Duck Dodgers and Bugs Bunny, too. Sometimes you just need a bit of funny – y’ know?

Now that the Domestic Geek has delivered her brand new baby girl, I’m curious to see how the YouTube videos will evolve. She’s had a lot of projects come to fruition lately – book, new website and new menu planner – all look interesting.

Pootles Papercraft and Maymay Made It have had some great projects. Maymay has been working on Chalk Coutour projects to update the look of her home.

Both ladies have brought some great ideas to the table if you are contemplating some updates in your home.

Speaking of home decor, Hermione Chantal has been working on her home. Pulling some great ideas out of her bag of tricks, she turned her front entryway into a great showstopper spot.

We are having a rainy day today and I have an errand or two to deal with. Off to get all the necessary stuff out of the way so I can chill this afternoon.

Categories: Musings

Got Broiler Pan?

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For some of us, one of the most useful tools is not the standard equipment it should be with a new range. (I have no idea why, either.) What is that useful piece of equipment?

A broiler pan.

Yep, a two piece granite ware pan that is used under the broiler.

Before you click on past this post, give me a few minutes. Please. 🙂

That extremely useful and easy to maintain pan is perfect for cooking bacon in the oven – no need for fancy wire racks for your baking sheets. Simply put your bacon on the insert over the base pan and put all in the oven. The grease melts into the bottom pan, making clean up a breeze and your bacon is perfectly cooked WITHOUT swimming in bacon fat.

I use mine to roast pork shoulder steaks. Makes the process easy and the clean up a breeze.

Clean Up?

I spray both pieces with cooking spray – this way things don’t stick and clean up is a breeze. You can line the bottom pan with aluminum foil, but you might also need to wash the pan after you remove the foil.

The pierced top section is also sprayed so the foods won’t stick. This really helps with clean up, too.

Uses?

As I’ve said, I roast bacon on the pan, but I also cook steaks, chicken and vegetables on it too. The pierced top section is great not only to allow fats to drip off, but air to circulate.

Broiling is a good function as well. 😉 Read your oven’s user guide and your recipe to be sure you know what to watch for and don’t leave your broiler unattended.

Need One?

Not sure where yours is or you need a new one? Go to Amazon.com and put “broiler pan” in the search box. Bypass the disposable ones – they are a waste of money and not geared toward heavy usage. The rest of the options should run around $25.00. Mine is granite ware and I love it – easy to use, easy to clean.

The top section can come in a variety of forms; holes, slats, combination. Look carefully and think about cleanup. The slats are a lot easier to deal with than the holes and they provide better drainage.

Make sure the pan has a deep bottom section – this will catch a lot of fat or dripping without spilling in the oven.

Note, I do not use the broiler pan to roast a whole chicken. That requires a different type of pan.

Dig out your pan, or get a brand new one, and see what you can do with it. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it has become one of your favorite tools in your kitchen.

Categories: Cooking Food

Recipe Collections

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A few days ago a friend and I were talking about one of the items she had in a holiday meal. One of her youngsters was watching one of her youngsters inhale Grandmother’s rolls and said, “Mom, you’ll have to teach me how to make that.”

As we chatted, we both acknowledged that many of our favorite recipes came not just from our mothers, but our grand – and great-grand – mothers. Handed down over generations and updated as needed based on what was available.

A while back, I wrote about creating a cookbook to collect and hand down family favorites. My friend remarked that that was a project she wanted to embark on this year.

While I love perusing cookery sites and magazines, not to mention cookbooks, I think the hand made route is perfect. You can put in not just the recipe, but recollections, pictures, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

Why not include family photographs along with the instructions?

One other thing I think invaluable is the How To section. Every good recipe explains how to actually create the dish, but sometimes they lack that bit of … … … instruction that gives the maker the information that will result in success. (Not everyone is a master cook, and sometimes you need some directions to go with the <cough> directions.) 🙂

Years ago I was stunned to discover that Julia Child had created what amounts to a How To book for herself. It was a collection of quick recipes and notes she needed to make everyday things. Gathered in a binder it was handy on a shelf in her kitchen.

One of the country’s most revered cookery teachers had a cheat sheet in her kitchen. Makes perfect sense to me!

Each stove and each oven is a different animal, so it is a good idea to keep notes about the quirks. If you are one of us who needs a reminder about how long to boil an egg – why not just make a note and put it where you can find it, rather than dig out the phone, laptop, book or whatever and browse the Internet?

How many of us remember Grandma making something and not using measuring spoons? Grandma knew how to measure using the palm of her hand.

By the way, “Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom” is available if you are interested. I perused it at my local library, but Amazon has it as well.

If you are thinking about creating your own recipe collection – either for yourself or to pass down – take some time to sketch out what you would like the final book to be.

Not just recipes, but How To’s and such.

Then, as the year progresses, make notes about what you have made and add it to the recipes for the book. Why not include some pictures?

I’d bet you could have quite a collection ready for next Holiday Season. And someone will be speechless to have received it.

NOTES:

There are several types of recipe software available – some at nominal cost. I prefer to use this type of tool rather than a word processor because the software has tools to make the creation easy, organized and simple. You can also get nutritional information, should you want to (and why not?)

If you decide to go the paper route, you can pick up blank books pretty much anywhere. Many of the ones I’ve seen come with divider and pre-printed pages.

Whichever way you choose, good luck, have fun and enjoy the process. There is a lot of great food out there!

Categories: Cooking Food Gifting Musings

Cartoons

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I grew up watching cartoons and indulging in the funny pages. Long before I met Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck competed for my attention with Peanuts, Popeye and loads of other colorful eye catchers.

As I grew up, my love of both mediums evolved. I learned to watch story lines in the daily comics. Doonesbury was an early favorite as was For Better or For Worse. The trials and tribulations of Cathy caught my eye as one of my BFFs looked like the main character. Really!

My love of cartoons confounded some folks, but I carried on keeping up with Winnie the Pooh, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, Wacky Racers and, of course, Flintstones, Jetsons and Bugs Bunny.

In some way, the continued adventures aimed at kids was calming and consistent in a way that the adult world wasn’t. The weekly catch up provided time to chill and relax.

When I started collecting for my own video library I had a rule that kept the budget under control and allowed space allocation to be a thing, rather than an attempt. The rule was simple: I would not buy any video that I was only going to watch once or twice.

I admit there have been a few … misses, but for the most part my collection contained a lot of cartoon series. Lots (and lots) of Hanna Barbera, Warner Bros and a few Disney cartoon series, but lots of Disney animated movies.

I was a kid who grew up in a time before cable, video recorders and collections. I knew what it was like when there was nothing to watch on TV and going to a movie just was not possible. My collection allows me to find something to curl up with when what I find on TV is a bit boring.

Some people still find it a bit odd, but I am perfectly happy settling down with more Darkwing Duck, Duck Dodgers or Fred Flintstone.

All I need is a bowl of cereal and milk. 🙂

Categories: Musings TV

New Stuff

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Or, things you might find interesting. 🙂

Mobituaries by Mo Rocca

Mo is back with a new and interesting project. Mobituaries (mobituaries.com) is a collection of podcasts (and an upcoming book) about people who have caught his interest.

Note: The people could be real or not.

If you are one of us folks who find ourselves curious about … history, life stories, odds and ends, this might be right up your street.

There is an introduction to the podcast – and as of this writing the first episode – available on the website. Check it out!

Star Trek Discovery is Back!

I finally sat down to watch the first episode (I admit I was holding off just a bit) and loved it.

The production values are amazing, the story telling compelling and the addition of new characters intriguing. Tig Navarro is a treat – that’s all I’m going to say. 🙂

Good Trek makes your mind work and I loved observing mine as we maneuvered through the first episode story. It sets up the season well, introduces us to new(ish) characters and provides some needed touch base with old friends.

Lady Sherlock Book Series

I just finished book three in the series by Sherry Thomas. WOW!

It helps to know that I had recently been listening to the Stephen Fry read collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The comparison between the two works is amazing. Thomas really – and I mean REALLY – did her homework.

The series is best read in order. While you can expect some intricate plotting, the real gems in the work are the characters. I’m an audio reader and the narrator/reader is amazing. Check out the series at The Lady Sherlock Series.

That’s all for now – have fun!

Categories: Books Musings

Revisiting the Mirror

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Or, will I color my hair…again?

Much to the chagrin of the lady who cuts my hair, I am contemplating coloring my hair.

For many years I’ve dabbled with colors and processes.  My mid-brown locks have been frosted to the point where I was considered blond.  I’ve been more shades of red than I can remember – but I can remember the one shade I really liked only to discover that it had been discontinued.

My hair has been its usual mid brown with touches of sliding/fading into a sorta gray for a while now.

I’m a touch bored.

The lady who cuts my hair (I decline to consider her a ‘hair dresser’) likes the color, calling it becoming to me.  <Shrug>

I remember my mother’s medium brown hair going gray in such a way that there was a sort of halo of dark under the beautiful silver gray.  Mine just isn’t doing that.  Or, if it is, it is taking its sweet time about it.

Will I frost it again?  I doubt it – too much maintenance for me.  I’m more of a wash in / wash out color girl.

And, while I bemoan the color of my hair and fantasize about going Real Red or Teal or such, the reality is I probably will stick close to my own color.

Not feeling That Adventurous at this point in time.  Hey, the last time I went red most of my closet and I did not coordinate.  🙂

New Year.  New Ideas.  New Ambitions.  New Thoughts.

Categories: Musings

Happy 2019!

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We’ve made it!

While the celebrations and festivities are behind us for a while, there are some changes that need to begin soon. Today, in fact.

After a lot of deliberation, and in conjunction with the soon to be extinct Google+, I’ve decided to stop posting to Facebook and Google+.

If you are following me on one of those platforms, please go to the blog (OrangePlaidCat.com) and either add me to your Favorites or sign up for the monthly newsletter.

The blog is where you can find out what we are up to and see the newest cards in the CraftyBarnCat Etsy shop.

The monthly newsletter will give you all the articles posted during the month and a discount code for use in the CraftyBarnCat Etsy shop.

I hope to see you here to keep up with the Next Adventure.

Happy New Year!

Categories: Musings

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