A Hotel Hanukkah in Knoxville

Our menorah powers off of a 9-volt battery.  Instead of lighting a candle, The Boffin threw a DIP switch. Dinner was what we could grab at CVS since every place else was closed or closing. That was OK because of our gluttony at Skyline Chili earlier.  No latkes.  Just Stouffer’s or snacks.  Our presents were loaded into reusable grocery bags and lugged in for the evening.

It wasn’t home.  We didn’t have our Furball beating us with her paw and proclaiming her complete and utter starvation by standing pathetically by her bowl.  But we still had the quiet.  The calm.  The three of us.  Still good, though not usual.  I guess it is what you make it.

Here’s to a happy Hanukkah to all those who celebrate.

Quality Street and the Advantage of the Tall Tin

It’s the time of the year when many people are fortunate enough to receive tins of chocolates.  But the truth of it is that most of us cave and buy them in November even though we have piles of Halloween candy left over.  At least, that is the way it works Stateside.

Well, the Nestlé Quality Street tin is one of the British national favorites and is available year round.  John Mackintosh first started making his toffees in his sweet shop in Halifax, West Yorkshire back in 1890.  His business grew so much that he opened his factory in 1898.  Unfortunately, it burned down in 1909, and Mr. Mackintosh ended up buying an old carpet factory and started again.  To make a long story short, after Mr. Mackintosh’s death, his son, Harold, inherited the business, and rebranded the toffees as Quality Street after a J.M. Barrie play.  It was a play off the words, “Quality Sweet”.  Nestlé bought Rowntree Mackintosh in 1988 and have maintained its deliciousness ever since.

As you can see from the French text, I imported ours from Canada with the custard powder.  There was a reason for this.  They had the tall tin.  The tall tin is very important.  The tall tin has the ever important guide.  We got the wide tin last year, and it didn’t have one.  Being that I am the American, I still don’t have the wrapper colors memorized, and I didn’t want to keep bothering The Boffin.  (“Which one is the green one again?”)

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The only other option is to get this tattooed on my arm.

Secondly, the tall tin is a good lesson in sharing for The Sprog because it forces her not to hog her favorite chocolates and leave the rest for us. As you can see from the opening, it prevents the person from rifling through to hunt for the “good” ones.

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And we can easily catch anyone who dumps the tin out. Because someone who hogs one particular kind of chocolate is a nobhead. And the worst thing is if you are left with the one chocolate that nobody likes because the others hogged the good ones. We don’t want our daughter to be a nobhead.  We are a family.  Family means being kind to each other and sharing the good chocolates.

And with that notion, I hope your friends and family share the good chocolates with you too.

Of Custard Powder and Fables

I ordered Horne’s custard powder from Canada, and, to all the Britons out there, no, The Boffin is not starting divorce proceedings.  To the Americans out there, custard powder is a staple within the U.K. and many Commonwealth countries because custard is either served by itself, primarily to children, or it is served with so many desserts the same way you would with whipped cream or ice cream.  It is much quicker and easier to make than traditional custard because you don’t have to worry about curdled eggs.  All you have to do is heat with milk.

It was first invented by a chemist named Alfred Bird of Swansea back in 1837 because his wife was allergic to eggs and couldn’t enjoy traditional custard.  Mrs. Bird was a lucky lass, I say.

The British brand of choice is still Bird’s custard powder, and The Boffin still thinks it has a smoother, silkier mouth feel.  However, we decided to pick up a tin of Horne’s when we visited Canada.  I happen to like that brand better because it has vanilla, and it has four different starches which give it a fuller texture.  So we decided to alternate tins.  This is how an Anglo-American marriage works, folks.  Neither side claims superiority.

Besides, Bird’s is better for making custard creams.

Regardless, the Canadian company where I bought the powder sent a fable with its packing slip.  Service with a smile, so I thought I would pass it along.

canadian-fable

 

 

Marital Codes or Why We Don’t Have Many Friends

The Boffin and I will be celebrating our 15th anniversary on December 28th. And I realize, like many couples who have been together a long time, we have come up with our own code words and phrases that make sense to us but classify us as weirdos to the general public. I thought I would share a few in the spirit of making us just a little more understandable.

Lord Lucan 1 – “Lord Lucan” has become a long lost object: the forgotten leftover in the back of the fridge, the screwdriver that had been misplaced, that important piece of paperwork that was needed a month ago, etc. You get the idea. “I’ve found Lord Lucan!” is the tip-off sentence.

John Mills 2 – The ideal of masculinity that I jokingly thrust upon the Boffin.  I even have John Mills’s picture as the avatar for the Boffin’s contact info on my phone.

John Major voice – The Boffin is good at the former prime minister’s voice and characterizing this person. It is the voice of the overly educated, pedantic Englishman who complains about the most nitnoid things. (I don’t want to hear a word from the Boffin’s family.) It is the voice of the worst letters sent to Points of View. It is the person pointing out the blatantly obvious who is taking everything literally. The Boffin just wrote this letter as an example.

Dear Sir,

After 15 years of almost daily use, my Worthington Bishop 12oz teapot recently met with an untimely accident.  As a result, I found to necessary to procure a new teapot.  However, I was shocked and dismayed to discover that the Worthington Bishop no longer is made in the 12oz size, and I was therefore reluctantly force to buy the Worthington Bishop 16oz pot.  However, I have discovered that because I only fill the pot with 12oz of water. In order to compensate for the additional evaporative cooling resulting from the larger headspace, I have had to raise my house’s thermostat by 0.1°C (not an easy feat as it generally increments by only 1°C).  Assuming that this pot also lasts me 15 years, and similar issues are happening in every household in the United Kingdom, I have estimated that this will force us as a nation to consume the same amount of energy as Huddersfield consumes in about 1 minute and 23.2 seconds.

In keeping with the Government’s environmental policies, I suggest that you reintroduce the Worthington Bishop 12oz pot and, perhaps, bring out it’s Eco-qualities in your marketing campaign.

Yours Sincerely

Mr Herbert Q. Pedant

George and Mildred 3 – The elderly couple cruising at 20 mph in front of us.

Tom and Barbara 4 – Whenever The Boffin and I are in a gardening or, more likely, in an us-against-the world mode.

Woody and Tinny Words – Woody words are pleasant sounding words. Tinny words are harsh sounding ones.  Thank Monty Python for this one.

“My Hovercraft is Full of Eels” – Our response to a nonsensical statement. Of course, we have to attribute this to Monty Python too.

I like cheese. – Code for “My brain hurts. Let’s talk about nice things.”  Sylvester and co. are our friends.

PEOPLE! AAAAH! – Quoting Gossamer from the Bugs Bunny cartoon. Our “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off” exclamation.

So, do you and your partner have any odd phrases you want to share?

1. To make a long story short, John Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan disappeared in 1974 disappeared upon having a warrant for his arrest for the murder of his children’s nanny and the assault of his wife. To those in America, chances are, you haven’t heard of him. He was quite an interesting character to say the least.

2. If anyone has heard of Sir John Mills in the U.S., it is usually either as Hayley’s dad or the father from Swiss Family Robinson. Meanwhile, from the 1940s to the early 1960s, he pretty much epitomized English film masculinity: stiff upper lip, courage under fire, wry humor, knowing when to break the rules and when to conform. The running joke is that nobody has seen the beginning of Ice Cold in Alex in years because they happen to catch it while channel flipping and remain stuck watching it until the end. Sir John Mills never mattered to me until I met the Boffin.

3. George and Mildred was a spinoff sitcom of Man about the House. It was the equivalent of The Ropers being the spinoff of Three’s Company.

4. From the sitcom The Good Life or Good Neighbors, depending on where you live. Tom and Barbara Good, played by Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall respectively, were a couple living in the London suburbs who decided to become self-sufficient by growing their own food, raising livestock, and bartering to meet their needs.  The disconnect between the two worlds made for some classic comic moments.

He’s No Fun.

So The Boffin was giving his face a once over with a razor before his flight to Houston yesterday. I was hovering just outside the bathroom, and, given how easily my propensity is toward boredom, I decided to stretch a Pilates band over my nose and mouth and make kazoo noises.  Naturally, it had to ignite another one of our mock arguments.

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The Boffin exclaimed, “Would you stop trying to kill yourself?!?”

Me: “WHAT!? What am I doing?”

Really, this is on the milder end of my self amusement spectrum.

The Boffin: “You are like Roger Rabbit with the tool kit when he was sticking the file in his ear.”

Me: “You don’t understand.”

The Boffin: “What do you mean I don’t understand!?!? I just gave an analogy that describes your behavior perfectly!”

Me: “But you don’t get it at a deeper level!”

The Boffin: “Just because I don’t understand how tornadoes are formed exactly doesn’t mean I don’t know what do when the alarms go off!”

But can’t he chase the tornadoes sometimes to see what they feel like?

This is What I Endure

The Boffin has taken up archery again, so when he gets into something, he has to explains what he does for hours on end.

This morning’s conversation revolved around his shoulder about how it doesn’t hurt when he draws his bow, but it does hurt when he pulls his phone from the case on his belt.  After his extensive demonstration of his point, I exclaimed, “OK, Robin Hood!”

“I’m not Robin Hood!”

“Well, what other English archers are there?”

Jeffrey!

“Just go to work.  Just go.  I want you to go to work.  I am looking forward to you going to work.  Just leave.  Get out.”

Wazzock:  See Jeffrey Archer  "Jeffrey Archer @ Oslo bokfestival 2012 2" by Bjørn Erik Pedersen - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Wazzock:  See Jeffrey Archer.   “Jeffrey Archer @ Oslo bokfestival 2012 2” by Bjørn Erik Pedersen – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons