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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year: Grease (Remover - Not the Musical)

And so the holidays draw to a close! And now ... a small gift wrapped in a non-food recipe,  just for you. My oven caught fire the other day, thanks to the thick coat of grease pooled at the bottom. Ron to the rescue! He found this recipe goodness-knows-where and (miracle of miracles!) it actually did what it promised, which was to degrease the interior of my oven. I regularly say Ill do the same thing, but never do. So here’s the concoction that did the trick!


Grease (Remover - Not the Musical):

1/4 c. liquid dishwashing detergent (the kind you use in the sink)
1/2 c. lemon juice (the bottled type ... why waste lemons?)
1 c. white vinegar
1-1/4 c. cold water

Combine in plastic spray bottle. Spritz the stuff all over your oven’s bottom, walls, and the glass of your oven door. Then cool your jets overnight while you guzzle champagne, wear a lampshade, and do all the other stoopid stuff everyone does on New Year’s Eve.

In the morning ... Voilà! A grease-free oven! Using a metal spatula as a scraper, pile the remaining gunk from the bottom of your oven onto paper towels and discard. Accept that you’ve won the prize for the neighborhood’s dirtiest oven and don’t let it ruin your New Year. Resolve that you will never allow your oven to look like this again and then fuddedaboudit. At least, that’s what I do. 

But put the oven on its self-cleaning cycle, regardless. With 95% of the grease and gunk gone, you won’t need to wear a gas mask as your oven transforms the residue of gunk into a fine while powder.

Wot??? You don’t have an oven that cleans itself??? Dollinks, I will rush right over to scrub it out! (S*I*G*H! Another New Year’s promise broken!) 

Happy New Year, possums!  xox  Nicole

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays and New Year!

Although I’m still not blogging recipes, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to say I hope you had a blessed Hanukkah; to wish you a very happy Christmas; and to wish you a fine new year. Our holiday table will always have space for you!


Ron and I have just returned from Washington State: There, we saw our dear friend Darryl, who has contributed to this blog before. Darryl gave us our holiday gifts - Italian seasoning salt for me and a pirate’s “piece of eight” for Ron that Darryl found on eBay. 


So this was the series of thank you notes I penned the next day: 

7:00 am
Dear Darryl:

The seasoning salt is delicious! I used it to flavor chicken soup. Ron is so excited about his “piece of eight” that he plans to buy the other seven pieces on ebay. He wants to take out a mortgage to do this. You have ruined our lives.

Love, Nicole 

8:00 am
Dear Darryl:

Ron woke up with pink eye and I am seeing red. He’s made himself a black leather eye patch, and says he’ll wear it forever. I blame you

Love, Nicole

9:00 am
Dear Darryl:

Ever since you gave Ron that wretched piece of eight, he’s been telling me to “Avast, Matey!” The dictionary says this means “Stop, young man!” I think Ron is bisexual. This is all your fault.

Love, Nicole 

10 am
Dear Darryl:

Ron has started to wear one of my gold hoop earrings. He says he wants to grow his hair into a ponytail tied back with a ribbon. I don’t think he’s bisexual, anymore. I think he’s gay. Because of you, I am broken-hearted.

Love, Nicole

11 am 
Dear Darryl:

You know the phrase “I’d cut off my right arm for a friend”? Ron thinks so highly of you - especially since you gave him that #$@! piece of eight - that he wants to cut off his right leg. I told him that if he does that, he won’t have a peg leg to stand on when I divorce him. You did this.

Love, Nicole

12 pm
Dear Darryl:

Ron has bought himself a parrot. It’s sitting on his shoulder as we speak. I’m an animal lover, but the thing poops all over the kitchen floor. There are feathers that have never met a chicken in my chicken soup. By giving Ron that damned piece of eight, you encouraged him to do this. You are my sworn enemy.

Love and curses, Nicole

1 pm 
Dear Darryl:

Problem solved! I used the piece of eight to buy a plank at Lowe’s. I made Ron and his bleeping bird walk it. Hey, big guy! Want to drop over for lunch? I’ve got homemade chicken soup! All I need to do is strain out a few feathers.

Love, Nicole

Enjoy the rest of the holiday season, readers!  xox  Nicole

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fa-la-la-Land, Part 2

When my pal Graham Harrop read that I wasn’t going to mail out any more paper holiday cards (http://nicoleparton.blogspot.ca/2014/12/fa-la-la-land.html), he drew one just for me. Graham is an artist of considerable note: His work graces editorial cartoons, books, and a number of Internet sites. Should you find this card too small to read (it is, after all, a card and not a poster), simply click on the image to enlarge it.



Not everyone has Graham’s knack for drawing, but I firmly believe everyone has a talent. I, myself, am particularly skilled at tap dancing. Unfortunately, when a gossip-loving friend misheard me, she spread the word that I was a talented lap dancer, which landed me many unsought-after invitations to stag parties. I can say (with some modesty) that I’m not a bad pole dancer, either. During the holiday season, I favor the north pole in the living room, rather than the south pole in the bedroom. My husband can hardly wait for summer in the northern hemisphere, when things switch over.

Whatever your talent, use and share it, just as the little drummer boy did. I’m glad my friend Graham shared his talent with me - and thus, with all of you - xox   Nicole

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fa-la-la-Land

Dear Friends: 

This is the Christmas card you never got. Then again, you may have got it, or may yet get it … I can’t be sure. Some of you will receive at least two of the same card. Others will get nothing - not even a lump of coal. I’ve been makin’ a list, checkin’ it twice, but don’t give a rat’s ass who’s naughty and nice. What I really want to do is curl into a fetal position and thuck my thumb.

This year, I told Ron, we’re going to play it smart! This year, there’s no way we’re spending hundreds of dollars on cards and stamps, or devoting precious hours to signing and addressing cards (a job that seems simple, but isn’t, when your computer doesn’t understand the words “mailing label”). 

This year, we’re not slaving over our usual uplifting holiday message: “Ron’s receding gums are bleeding less and orthotics have helped my plantar fascism plantar fascititis foot problem.”

To be honest, despite the guilt trip our costly holiday words laid on their recipients, mailing some 250 cards (25 of them to friends; the rest, to bill collectors) has never been the social entré we hoped it would be:

• “Oh, Charlie! Another beautiful card from that Parton woman and that hopeless Ron Fisher! You know, we really should send them a card. (S-i-g-h!) Yes, Charlie, you’re probably right. I remember the year Nicole tripped into the china cabinet, smashing all that crystal. And the year Ron wouldn’t stop talking about his receding gums at our cocktail party. If we run into them, we can always say we lost their address.” Or, at another household …

• “Who are those idiots who send us a card every year? Haven’t they figured out we’re the wrong Wilsons?” Or, at yet another home … 

• “Harold Shmuckley’s still getting cards from the Parton-Fishers! Don’t those morons know he’s in the Witness Protection Program? Even his mother has no idea where he is. Which is a good thing, considering it was his testimony that sent her up the river.” 

Well, no more paper cards from us! But what we planned to send in their stead hasn’t exactly worked out. This year, we were going to email you that: “In keeping with the spirit of a green Christmas, we’ve gone digital! We hope you enjoy our electronic holiday card!”

I hunted-and-pecked 250 names and email addresses into a swishy electronic card program. The card I chose had gen-u-wine animated falling snow and seasonal music to accompany the fine phrases I stole from my friend Saleena, who sent us the best holiday card ever

I told Ron: “Once I program these cards, I’ll be one click away from finishing with these suckers!” I meant the cards - not you, dear friends. 

Then I remembered that some of you celebrate Hanukkah. Somehow, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to switch those cards from those that played O Tannenbaum to cards featuring the Dreidel-Dreidel-Dreidel song. I had to start from scratch, reposting Saleena’s best-ever message for our Jewish friends.

Then I also remembered that some of you are atheists and agnostics, so I found some electronic cards with digitized Santas hula-hooping “Ho-ho-ho!”

Then I noticed I’d made some spelling and other mistakes, like forgetting that He Who Shall Not Be Named ran away with She Who Shall Not Be Named while each was married to someone else. But that was last February and this is December and the scarlet letter and the gossip have finally faded, so it’s probably socially acceptable to send them a card. Besides, all they want for Christmas is a divorce from their former partners, nudge-nudge, wink-wink. 

Which brought up another card conundrum. Spouses and partners ought to get joint cards rather than individual ones, I thought. I retyped my list. But then I also thought: “What if their partner doesn’t show them our card?” So I changed things back. 

Then I also noticed that while some of my changes had gone through, many people were getting two electronic cards - one single, one spousal. Our Jewish friends were getting a card that played O Tannenbaum, and our Christian friends were about to be treated to the Dreidel-Dreidel-Dreidel song. Two of our friends are having December birthdays. With horror, I realized that their cards read “Happy Hanukkah!” Non-believers were getting a bit of everything - drifting snow (I-used-to-be-snow-white-but-I-drifted-ha-ha), spinning dreidels, and hula-hooping Santas playing the slots in Vegas. 

Worse yet, this is our fish Frankie’s first Christmas, so I sent Ron an electronic card featuring half-a-dozen little fish in Santa hats. Signing the card “I wuv woo - Fwankie,” I didn’t realize I’d clicked on the wrong “Ron.” In milliseconds, the card zipped off to an old boyfriend. Naming me as the cards actual sender, the card company’s tracking program showed the other Ron opening the card immediately. The note he sent seconds later said he was between liaisons and happy to hear I still had “feelings” for him.  

With every correction I made, the card company’s computer program tossed every name on my list into the air, rearranging it with no alphabetization and no relationship to the pattern of names I’d seen only moments ago. Trying to fix this mess took me three days. Three! Long! Days! I’ve given birth faster than that.

Our electronic cards are programmed to go out Dec. 20th. Yes, I know the Hanukkah date is wrong, but trying to fix it defeated me. If you don’t get our card, Saleena’s perfect message reads: Wishing you a beautiful holiday season filled with love, joy, peace, health, and happiness! May you have an amazing 2015! Which about sums it up. 

Ho-ho-ho and Xs and Os from Nicole and Ron