E.T. … D.O.A.

Ed Naha had a funny column that was featured irregularly in Sci-Fi magazines like Heavy Metal in the 80’s, here he writes “… novelizations I’d like to see in my Christmas stocking this year.

E.T. … D.O.A.

By Mickey Spillane

ET

He was short and lean and mean and green … and stuck in a clothes closet. He pressed his body again the wall. If felt good to the touch. He glanced around him. He was surrounded by dolls. Not the kind of dolls he was used to hanging around, either. These ones were stuffed with sawdust and probably wouldn’t survive a quick round of Hide the Tentacle without losing an arm or a leg, or a Made in Taiwan tag.

He strained his head to listen for the Earth woman called “Mommy” outside. He would have strained his ears but his kind didn’t have them. His kind never did. Sensing that big Mommy was gone, he flat-footed it out of the closet and across the room.

That’s when he spotted them.

They were round and shiny and chocolate.

Without thinking, he grabbed one. It felt good to his touch. Besides that, it melted in his mouth and not in his tendril.

The room began to spin around him. The shock of recognition hit him hard. He had wandered into a set left over from Poltergeist.

Christmas Pudding Black Oaks Style

The story goes that Great Grandmother Cole had secret recipes for melt-in-your-mouth puddings and cakes. Fortunately for us, her grandson, Albert Cole, found the book and over 60 years ago created a spectacular Christmas pudding based on his grandmother’s recipe.

Cole’s Gluten Free Christmas Pudding has the key flavours of Sultanas, Raisins, Currents, Brown sugar, Molasses and Candied Citrus Peel, Apples and Spices but it’s free from alcohol, nuts and gluten and because Cole’s suet is made with Palm Oil it’s perfect for Vegetarians.

I steamed the 112 gram pudding, but added the alcohol back spooning over a mixed topping of Double Devon Cream and Criollo Chocolate Salted Caramel Liqueur.  Um, yes, yummy.

117 g Single Cole's Gluten Free Christmas Pudding

112 g Single Cole’s Gluten Free Christmas Pudding

Half Portion Cole's Gluten Free Christmas Pudding

Half Portion Cole’s Gluten Free Christmas Pudding

While it’s not unlike me to wear something stretchy for Christmas dinner, I always think dessert is overkill.  I offer two sizes to serve to your guests with the requisite Chocolates, Shortbread, grapes and cheese with a lovely Tawny Port that I know you will also have lurking about.

Pudding Servings – The individual puddings can be steamed in a large pot all at once and inverted one pudding per plate.  Alternatively, break the pudding apart and split the contents into two small juice glasses layered with the topping much like a Trifle.

Topping Servings – The same amount of topping can go on the individual or the layered style pudding, but it’s really up to you.  I used approximately two Tablespoons of Double Devon Cream whisked into a generous Tablespoon of liqueur.   One bottle of cream 170 grams serves serves four to five portions of this recipe regardless of the pudding serving.

I going to update this recipe when one of my vegan friends steps up to recommend an ready made alternative to the Devon Cream, but so far I think making your own is the best.  There are many syrups that can be substituted for the liqueur like Starbucks® Caramel Syrup which is equally at home in coffee and in cream.

Meantime I am so happy to have found this Cole’s product at my local Metro in Mississauga.  I’m a terrible baker and hate to miss this traditional British dish the one time I crave it … Christmas!

The Other Diagon Alley

One of my best memories is after dinner at Grammie and Grampa’s house in Calgary.   There’s was a small house with a huge garden and behind that a triangulated alley with, at it’s heart, a small park.  After dinner, Grammie would do the dishes and I, many times with my three sisters, would lay in front of the television watching the Wonderful World of Disney.  Grampa on the easy chair behind us gently snoring with his false teeth teetering at the edge of his mouth.  This childhood memory evokes a sense of peace, calm and safety.

Macfies

Disney was my introduction to fantasy which later grew into a love of it, as well as historical and sci-fi literature. Among my favourite fantasy characters and in my opinion, the most famous of wizards, Merlin appears in dozens of novels including those penned by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Stephen R. Lawhead and T.H. White.

Other wizard characters Harry Dresden, Allanon, Dr Strange [Marvel], Elminster Aumar, The Crimson King [Stephen King], Gandalf and Harry Potter all have had a place in my library. Since we are talking about Disney, I must give honourable mention to Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice [Fantasia 1940], but I’d really rather mention his boss, the little known, but great wizard, Yen Sid.

Without prejudice to the products from Universal Studios or the fictional Diagon Alley in London, England, both which I would aspire to visit, the alley behind my grandparent’s house was as magical as any of literature or film fame.  From there I swung until I was dizzy, climbed trees, watched Canada Day fireworks, had crab apple fights, raided gardens with kids I met on the block and spent those rare sultry Calgary nights catching fireflies ~ all without the supervision of adults. This memory evokes feelings of independence, trust, strength and wonder.

You can look in your own back yard for a purveyor of fine gifts for wizards young and old ~ it’s called MacFie’s.

I first met Danny McAfee and his wife is Shayna at the Guelph Faery Festival.   Their small business started with walking sticks and wizard staffs.  Shortly thereafter adding wands, potions and apothecary ingredients.  Over the years they introduced owls, runes and even vampire hunting paraphernalia and all of these heirloom quality items are handmade right here in Ontario, Canada.

Macfies2My own Wizardry Kit from Macfies includes a beautiful Red Oak wand, wand bag, wand property card, plush owl, 2 owl accessories (brown owl hat & owl scroll) and one apothecary set (Phoenix Tears, Basilisk Teeth, Griffin Hair and apothecary stand).   Boxed and ready for wrapping, this heirloom can be found at Macfie’s for around $50.00

Shop on-line or Macfies will be at the Western Fair District, Progess Building, London, Ontario Dec 4-7.

#shoplocal

The Giving Tree – a Community Christmas Tradition

I don’t know what happened to the originally filed post, but it is gone in favour of my stock making video.  I have re-written and re-posted this article.

Our mother survived skin cancer, a brain aneurysm and a mini stroke only to die in her sleep in her 67th year.  With those regular reminders of our human fragility, my memories of our mother are very strong.

GivingTreePicThe year before she died, I was out West visiting and we were out for a long walk.  This is something all the women in my family share, a love of long walks, preferably with dogs winding between our feet.  Mom had taken me down to Sandy Beach, a rare place in Calgary with trees and water.  In this place, as children and teens, our Mom and Auntie Joan had floated down the river on inner tubes, skipped school to suntan and smoke, had bbq’s and likely kissed boys.

Not very far down the path, the Christmas snow well trodden by others, we came upon a small coniferous tree covered in all kinds of decorations.   I was delighted.  My mother explained it as the Giving Tree, because it gives people the same feeling it gave me.  Mom said someone starts by placing one decoration secretly and soon others follow.

When we moved to our new house, I chose a tree in one of our local urban forests to start this tradition.  It took weeks for people to cotton on, but now each year the Giving Tree emerges over the first two weeks of December.

How-To start your own tree.

Find a path that is well walked within your own Community.

Choose a Tree that ideally is coniferous, but mostly one that is the perfect size for the small and the tall to reach the branches.

When the snow flies or by December 1st, start with two or three homemade or store bought decorations.  Keep in mind they may be pilfered or broken, so don’t have any attachment to them.

Try not to let anyone see you decorating.

Even if you are not joined, I guarantee it will give an unexpected delight.  To encourage people to join, add some more each day and leak the story to other parents or neighbours.

Take the decorations down after January 7th and put them in a basket, so people can take them back if they wish.  If not keep them till next year, or gift some to others who want to start their own Giving Tree, or donate them.

*This article, nor it’s content, has any association with the book, The Giving Tree.

Befana from Goddess to Santa Claus

Kathy Kenzora of Karma is a great local entrepreneur and now a friend.  Opening in 2011, Karma is small independent Furniture and House Decor Consignment Shop in the Village of Clarkson, Mississauga.  You can imagine all the interesting items that pass through shops like this and it’s such a pleasure for me to tease out the story of as many items as I can.

Last week in a box of porcelain ornaments from “Around the World”, I spotted this.  As you know my education is in Anthropology and I own a web based business called FeeFiFoFun Costume Concierge.  Halloween is a Cultural tradition that fascinates me and I wondered immediately how a witch on a broom stick ends up as a Christmas ornament.

BefanaOrnament

I found the tale of Befana of Italy, an old woman wearing black, riding a broomstick with a sack over her shoulder.  She’s covered in soot because it’s said she enters people’s houses through the chimney.  Well she looks like freaky morph of a Halloween witch and a Christmas Santa Claus, but that’s too simple.

Like many legends, Befana’s origins have become foggy over the centuries changing to meet the needs of the current society.  Reports of Befana can be found in the Pagan Roman Strina to Eve of the birth of Christ, but currently Italian children can put their socks out to be filled with candies by her for Epiphany on January 5th.

Source: veniceredhouse.com

Source: veniceredhouse.com

Italy even has the Befana Regatta where adults dress and compete in a boating contest, but Italian kids have got it best  because they get goodies from both Father Christmas and Befana!

For more detail on this interesting character, here is a good link.

Kid’s Crafts – The Christmas Elf

If only to hide the evidence, I’m always looking for something to with the many, many corks left over from my favourite vice of wine tasting.  Here an easy Cultural tradition to do with kids.  They will look adorable on the Christmas table or hung on the Christmas tree.  Don’t forget to put the year and the child’s name on the bottom!

Ho Ho Ho

Ho Ho Ho

Tomte, Nisse or Tomtenisse [Sweden], Nisse [Norway and Denmark] and Tonttu [Finland] is generally considered the Swedish and Norwegian version of Santa Claus. He’s about three feet tall with a red cap and like the of Brownies of Irish lore, is a mischievous domestic sprite that can be extremely helpful or, if you don’t leave him butter or other treats, can be very naughty. So if your cow’s milk is soured or you can’t find your best woolen socks, you’ve no one to blame but yourself.

You and your children may have seen the new animated mini series, Over the Garden Wall, whose character Wirt look suspiciously like our sprite sans beard.  Thanks to Sam for introducing me to this charming series which I am going to share this Christmas with my granddaughter, especially the song Potatoes and Molasses.

I used a glue gun, but white glue is great too.

I used a glue gun, but white glue is great too.

What you need:

Scissors

Glue

Corks

Red Felt

Cotton Balls

Sharpie

Bells [Michaels Arts & Crafts, PartyCity and Dollarama in the Wedding Section]

How – To:

Cut 3″ X 3″ squares of Red Felt.

Run a line of glue in a reverse L.

Starting on the Left Roll a the Small part of the Cork to the Right till the Seam meets.

Join the Seam and Press till Dry.

Draw in the Eyes with the Sharpie.

Add Glue to the space beneath the Eyes and Pull off Enough Cotton to make the Beard. Press on.

Clip a tiny Triangle for the Nose and Glue on.

Crimp the top of the Felt Hat and Tie on the Bells.

Add a string for a wonderful Christmas ornament.

Add a string for a wonderful Christmas ornament.

How to Fall in Love with Morocco from your Couch

Bliss Bracelets

Bliss Bracelets

It would give me no greater pleasure than to visit Morocco.  The light of North Africa, the colours of spice, the intersections of costume and traditions of Berber, Jewish and Muslim communities.  I don’t have immediate plans to go, but I have found a way to enjoy a bit of Morocco [and Peru] from Canada and that is through Jessica Torres of Welland, Ontario.

Like me Jessica fell in love with One Earth and decided to become a sales consultant with them.  One Earth products meet my own criteria for company ethics and fair trade, sustainable income for locals, emphasis on local and hand made products, and well, the products are seriously cool.

From Jessica, I’ve already bought the small tea pot and a hand-tooled leather bag pack made in Morocco, but I’ve got my eye on the Lala Satchel Purse for me and the Peruvian Bliss stacking bracelets which would make exquisite stocking stuffers for my sisters and nieces.

Lala Satchel

Lala Satchel

If you are an Anthropologie junkie like me, you are going to loVe Jessica Torres and One Earth.  Shopping local in an entire new way.

Jessica lives in Welland, Ontario and her Twitter handle is @one1earthbyjess