Saturday, December 23, 2023

Generosity and Good Cheer Spread by the MOTI

Christmas was a long time coming to the MOTUS house this year. We didn’t even get the tree out until this week and when we did the result was, well, predictable.

the problemThere’s always one naysayer in every crowd

Turned out to be one string that wasn’t plugged in so an easy fix but I was discouraged and let it sit unadorned for several days. We finally got it together when these arrived and shamed us into completing the task.

his and her

Two gorgeous His and Her bouquets from the MOTI! So, so big and beautiful. As usual my pictures really don’t do them justice but here’s a closeup of Raj’s.

hydrangeas and roses

Deep red and white roses, shiny red/green leaves, hydrangeas, purple thistles and red berries and greens all tied up with a green bow.

And Hers:

peonies and roses

Deep fuchsia and white roses, white peonies, red amaryllis, red berries and greens with a burgundy bow.  I know everything doesn’t show up in my pictures but they’re all there! Including pomegranates in both.



his and her  raj foregroundHis and Hers, as beautiful on the backside

And here we are, thanks to all of you, properly decked out. It’s finally looking a lot like Christmas around here. It may have been late coming this year but the MOTUS home is now done up proper, with love and care.

Even my tree,  now lit top to bottom:


and topped off this year by the little wolfie Jettie sent me for my birthday.


Raj and I cannot thank all of you enough for your kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity. You spoil us rotten (butt we love it).

Again, our heartfelt thanks. Now get those ovens fired up: those Christmas cookies aren’t going to make themselves!

scottie dog cookies

As if! (unless you’re Robin)

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Winter Solstice: The Beginning Of The End Of Darkness

It’s Throwback Thursday, so how about another repost? This from December 21, 2019:

For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter and confounds him there;
Sap cheque'd with frost and lusty leaves quite gone,
Beauty o'ersnow'd and bareness every where.

Shakespeare, Sonnet 5Originally posted by Lili, wherever you may find her

The winter solstice occurs in the Northern Hemisphere when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, or 23.5° south latitude; this year that happens at 11:19 PM EST. It is the shortest day of the year so rise early, although it will still be dark, and have your coffee and breakfast before the sun comes up. You cannot afford to squander even a minute of what has become precious daylight.

Winter Dawn Wallpaper Full HD#1

Where you live determines the exact amount of daylight you will get today. Sunrise in Detroit is at 7:58 AM, Sunset at 5:03 PM giving us 9 hours, 5 minutes of daylight. I am luckier than some but not as lucky as others.

Which of course is true about nearly every aspect of life; learning to accept and appreciate that fact is one of life’s important lessons.

Winter Dawn Wallpaper For Desktop

Each day grows a bit longer now, so we should celebrate the solstice as it is the beginning of the end of darkness. So get out there and enjoy whatever light you are fortunate enough to get.

O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
Should patch a wall to expel the winter flaw!

Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1

Image result for Snow at Louveciennes, France, c.1878 Alfred SisleySnow at Louveciennes, Alfred Sisley

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Nostalgic Christmas Shopping Part II: The Mall

Originally posted (mostly) December 16, 2019


It’s time once again to reminisce about the days of Christmas Past when shopping entailed a trip downtown to visit the Five and Dimes and your local department stores. From the heyday of downtowns we transitioned first to the era of suburban malls, enclosed meccas of commerce featuring anchor stores, hot pretzels, cheap boutiques and endless parking lots.



That vignette too has morphed into Christmas Past as once great malls have become wastelands of obsolescence. Many now sit empty, awaiting a rebirth.

Somewhere along the line the wizards of marketing decided that people really wanted to be exposed to the winter elements as they did their Christmas shopping. Accordingly commerce complexes moved to even more suburban settings involving an endless collection of Big Box stores congregated around busy intersections, an infinite number of fast food outlets and even more expansive parking lots. This configuration remains a part of the Christmas Present shopping experience but the Big Box era is approaching its own sell-by-date as more and more of the brick and mortars fall by the wayside.  

One by one…

circuit city2

once mighty retailers fall: Sears, Kmart, Circuit City, Bed Bath and Beyond, Toys ‘R Us, etc., etc. – all gone or reduced to online entities.


People are quickly migrating to the convenience of a new Christmas Present model: shopping online and having the  Amazon elves deliver your Christmas gifts right to the front door; either yours or your recipient's.

I’m guessing Christmas Future will bring something even more akin to virtual reality where money changes hands but the physical aspects of selecting, wrapping and delivering actual gifts will be replaced by an email notice and a computer generated image of things your friends and family imagine you’d like.

virtual-secret-santa-gift-ideasEvery time a bell rings someone gets an internet of things

So enjoy your 7 actual shopping days before Christmas while you still can: soon enough they too will become just another cultural anachronism.

And now, to make it a Christmas Recipe post, here’s the repeat of Raj’s family goulash recipe that always filled a huge pot on the stove on Christmas Eve all night long to welcome late arriving family or friends who just stopped by to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Mom’s Goulash

1 lb. bacon (find a good one that doesn’t have any “natural smoke flavor” added, butt is simply naturally smoked – Oscar Mayer is a decent choice)

3 lbs. ground beef or chuck

4-5 medium onions, chopped

3 large cans of good tomatoes with juice, squeezed by hand into chunks if whole ( or roughly pulsed)

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Salt, pepper to taste

1 lb.pkg. of noodles

Chop bacon into small pieces and cook until brown and crisp.

Remove bacon and – now this will scare some people, butt remember, the world is coming to an end anyway – cook the onions in ALL of the bacon grease. When lightly browned, add chopped celery and cook another 2-3 minutes. Place onion/celery mixture in a bowl and set aside.

Return pan to heat and brown the ground beef. Drain most of the fat (if you must) add salt and pepper to taste, garlic powder, tomatoes with juice plus a cup of water, onion /celery mixture (including the bacon grease they cooked in), and reserved bacon pieces. Stir well and bring back to a simmer and let it cook while you prepare the noodles.

Cook noodles according to package directions (don’t forget the salt!). Drain and add immediately to goulash mixture . Stir to combine and continue simmering  pn a very low heat for about 30 minutes, adding a little extra water if it begins to stick.

You can eat it now if you must, and it will be delicious. Butt trust me on this: if you can make it a day ahead and rewarm it slowly the next day it’s even better!

Gump’s original recipe called for a cup of chopped green bell pepper, butt since nobody in  Raj’s family would eat them, they never once made it into the Christmas Eve pot. I leave it to your discretion, butt I can assure you that it is perfect without them.

Crusty bread, green salad: it’s a humble feast.

Let the feasting begin.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Nostalgic Christmas Shopping

Still nostalgic after all these years:


When I was growing up  every town had at least one iconic department store that did Christmas right: fabulous back-lit and magical Christmas displays, often animated, gracing all of their street level windows. In a time before kids were so wired into their iPhones and “social” networks that they missed much of the amazement of the real world, there were all these fabulous windows of mystery and wonder, free for the taking. All it took was a dime bus ride downtown. 

I was very lucky as my hometown, Grand Rapids, MI, had three such emporiums of merchandise, all founded in the late 1800’s:


All now long gone. One of them, Herpolsheimer’s,  however lives on as it has been memorialized in the film version of Chris Van Allsburg’s book The Polar Express.

The-Polar-Express-HD-wallpaper[1]herpolsheimers polar express

The old Herp’s, as the locals called it, had what was called  the “Santa Express” – a monorail that ran around the entire basement level of the store during the Christmas season to keep kids occupied as mom and dad shopped.

santa express 1949Santa’s Rocket Express, Herpolsheimer’s 1949

It is said to have served as the inspiration for Van Allsburg’s  popular book.

The old Herpolsheimer’s building,

herpolsheimers-christmas-past-christmas-ornamentsPrint found on Pinterest but tracked down to ArleneFaye

which once housed the inspirational train and window wonders currently houses the Grand Rapids Police Department. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you probably wouldn’t want to take your kids there for a festive Christmas pot pie lunch in their tea room.

chicken pot pie

And don’t even get me started on the “dime” stores, of which Grand Rapids also enjoyed three:

3524fbacacbe2fe06c43ccfae4d7d852Print found on Pinterest but tracked down to ArleneFaye

Woolworths, above, at the foot of Monroe, Grants, right next door, and Kresge’s just up a block to the east.

kresgesPrint found on Pinterest but tracked down to ArleneFaye

Also all gone.

What about your town’s locally owned iconic department stores? Do any of them still exist? Are any of them still in the downtown area? Or is your downtown comprised of restaurants, bars and clubs these days? Just wondering.

Happy Sunday before Christmas MOTI! Be sure to post your favorite Christmas recipes even if you’ve done so before as some of us forget to save things or save them to places we forget about.

And everyone, thank GW. I’m not sure if he invented the “Recipe: DRINK!” game or just popularized it. Either way, have a great day cooking and/or drinking.