Oh Christmas Tree

     Which is my favorite tree this year? Once you see what I am talking about you will understand why I selected the one I did. Every year for the past ten years I have taken my grandchildren to see the big trees in Chicago. The first one is always the Marshall Field’s (Macy’s) tree in the Walnut Room. We ooh and ahh about the beauty of the thing, have breakfast, take pictures, tour the store, and then view the windows on State Street.

     I thought the last two Macy’s trees were outstanding, one done by Martha Stewart, and the other by Tommy Hilfigger. This year, the Macy’s designers did the tree themselves. In my opinion, Martha and Tommy should hang it up. Macy’s outdid themselves with a stunning design that makes previous year’s pale in comparison.

Macy’s theme ornamented the tree with four words, “Dream, Imagine, Believe, Wish.” 

     A short walk west, and we arrived at the Daley Plaza to visit the Kris Kindle Market and the Chicago Christmas tree.

     It drizzled the whole time, but our Christmas spirit was not dampened. Usually, the Chicago tree is a huge live-artificial tree. It is constructed on site by inserting dozens of cut trees into steel tubes on the steel stem. When it is completed it is outstanding. This year, the Mayor insisted on a cut tree. It is a fifty five foot tall spruce, cut from a yard within the city. Are you missing a tree? If so, you can view it in the Daley Plaza. It is adorned with red, white, and green LED lights.  The Santa House is still there, but the G-scale train layout gave way to more market space.

     The market which is a German tradition and filled with vendors from Germany has given way to new vendors from South America. Somehow, the market just wasn’t the same. 

     My grand daughters love to chase the pigeons from the eternal flame, but this year, they were mysteriously missing. What? No pigeons in downtown Chicago? Whose idea was that?

      Our next journey was a short walk to Michigan Avenue to pay respect to the “Bean.” It’s real title is Cloud Scape, but no one calls it that. Because of the clouds, and the drizzle the reflections were surreal.

     We parked under the Bean, and retrieved the car with a mere twenty-six dollar parking fee. I think the Mayor taught the president everything he knows about how to steal from tax payers. I digress.

    The slushy ride home brought me to the next cheery Christmas tree, the one decorated by Peggy. Next to Macy’s I like it best, but it is still not the winner of my “Best Christmas Tree” contest.

The winner is the one created by my beautiful little grandaughter Jenna Rose. She crafted a card with love and addressed it directly to me. She knows me all too well; here it is. . .

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Grumpa Joe

Death By Chocolate

5 minute Chocolate Mug CakeLast week my cousin Rick sent me a recipe called “The Most Dangerous Cake Recipe in the World.”  It sounded cute, and just the type of experiment I would try with my grandchildren. Before I began, I Googled  “Five Minute Chocolate Cake,” and got 137,000 hits in .22 seconds. There must be something to this, I thought. I read several of the recipes, and the comments left by cake lovers from all around the world. They were serious about this yummy chocolate cake.

Over the weekend, I shopped for the ingredients I didn’t have on hand, namely unsweetened cocoa powder and chocolate frosting. The remaining ingredients were in the cupboard and the frig. I’ll post the recipe on my Cook page.

The recipe tauted five minutes from start to finish. It took me longer than that to assemble the ingredients, and then another five minutes to put it together, and yet another five minutes of mixing to get a smooth creamy uniform mixture of chocolate goo. The components are mixed in a coffee mug.  The final step is three minutes in a microwave at full power (1000 watts). The recipe writer warns that the cake will rise out of the cup, but not to worry that is normal.  Mine did, and then it retracted (fell) back onto itself. ????? What did I do wrong???? Nevertheless, I removed the super hot cup from the micro, removed the cake from the mug, and allowed it to cool. That’s when I sliced it into two pieces and spread the ready made chocolate over the top. I went so far as to experiment and cut one half into half again. This piece I made into a layer cake with frosting between the layers.

I cleaned up the kitchen while the cake cooled. By the time my implements were clean it was ready to try. I couldn’t wait.  I took a large forkful of the single layer version and tasted. My God!!!!!!!!!what a super mouth watering chocolate treat. Not the best chocolate layer cake made from scratch using a Betty Crocker recipe, but really good and tasty chocolate cake, and  I left out the chocolate chips.

There is one way to make this even better, I thought; pair it with some full bodied Cabernet. So I did, Wow, Super Wow! I started with a single fork full and couldn’t stop until I finished the single layer half, with a glass of rich red wine.

I am returning a  message to Rick to warn  him that I am re-writing my will. I will make mention that if it is proven that I died from chocolate overdose, he should be arrested. It was by his power of suggestion that I tried this recipe, and by my weak will that I overdid it.

I can hardly wait for the kids to come over, so I can teach them all how to make this cute little cake. I can see an assembly line of seven mugs with  flour and sugar flying around the kitchen as they make their own concoction. As the teacher, and ring leader of this experiment, I get to taste all of them. Of course mine will be with a glass of red.

Why is this called the most dangerous recipe inthe world?  I quote the inventor,

“Because now we are all only five minutes from chocolate cake  at any time of the day or night.”

I agree, with some practice, I could do it in five minutes.

“$1,000,000,000,000.00 Like It’s Chump Change”

My Flag Flies Everyday

My Flag Flies Everyday

We hear an awful lot of commentary these days about the stimulus bill, the budget, the Porkulus Bill, on and on. Each time we hear the amount of money being spent, politicians and commentators alike bandy about the phrase “a trillion dollars,” like it is pocket change. The number, one trillion, continues to fascinate me. Probably, because  in my mind that number is so large, and unreal I cannot mentally process the information.  

It has taken me fifty five years to accumulate a nest egg large enough to feel comfortable with. In spite of the nest egg, I still have to rely on Social Security to make ends meet.  The egg became scrambled in three short months, and my fifty five years of hard work went down the drain. I must now consider returning to the working population.

My dilemma is this; I spent fifty five years working in a number oriented business, if I can’t process the number, one trillion, how in the world can a bunch of lawyers elected to congress do it? They can’t. They have no clue as to what is happening to their constituents. If they did, they would have done the right thing, and voted the  trillion dollar packages into the toilet where they belong. They would also impeach the president and his cabinet as being incompetent.

As an excercise to get an understanding of what a trillion dollars is, I made a spread sheet to calculate how long it will take to pay off a trillion dollar debt. The numbers are too large to show the entire spreadsheet on this page.

      years to pay off debt
           
debt in trillions   1 2 3 4
payback rate          
1 Million per day   2,740 5,479 8,219 10,959
1 Million per hour   114 228 342 457
100 Million per day   27 55 82 110
1 Billion per day   3 5 8 11
1 Billion per hour   0 0 0 0

My three year old  grandchild will be thirty years old if we pay back one trillion dollars of deficit at a rate of one billion dollars per day, and not spend another dime along the way. We don’t have one trillion dollars of deficit, we have ten,  and it continues to grow exponentially. Only the fat cats in congress will survive.  

 Send the tea bag, vote them out of office, do what it takes to get the lazy bastards out of office. Elect some people who are real citizens, and  who care about the country, and its people. If we don’t take radical action now to stop  “Change We Can Believe In,” only the fats cats will survive. The rest of us will spend the rest of our lives waiting in lines to get a roll of toilet paper.

For This, I Give Thanks!

My Flag Flies Everyday

My Flag Flies Everyday

Flashy ZinniasHappy Thanksgiving!

Today, I give thanks for the following gifts:

I thank the Lord for allowing me to wake up.

I thank the Lord for the precious gift of time.

I thank the Lord for allowing me to be born in the USA.

I thank the Lord for three wonderful kids, and seven wonderful grandchildren.

I thank the Lord for my wife Peggy.

I thank the Lord for two step children and three step grandchildren.

I thank the Lord for my brother, sister, nephews, and nieces.

I thank the Lord for my abundance.

I thank the Lord for allowing me to belong to the Lions Club, the bike club, and the garden club.

I thank the Lord for all of my wonderful friends.

I thank the Lord for Aunt Marie who is ninety three.

I thank the Lord for this wonderful sunny day.

I thank the Lord for my health.

I thank the Lord for this Weblog.

I thank the Lord for all of the people who read this.

I thank the Lord for President George W. Bush for leading the country for the last eight years.

I thank the Lord for President elect Barack Obama, and his preparation to run the country for the next four years.

I thank the Lord for giving me the faith to believe in Him.

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