Monday, December 19, 2016

Where Has All The Context Gone?

I love observing online behavior.

Partly because it's my full time job, but also just because I suffer from TACS - Terminal Acute Curiosity Syndrome.

One thing I realized recently is what the source of TAPOS - Terminal Acute Perpetual Offendedness Syndrome - is.

It's the current inability of people to apply context to online content.

It could very well be that the lack of inflection in online chatter is responsible - perhaps context is only perceptible in person.

I'll give you an example.

Let's say it's cedar season. Which it is - we are all dying in Central Texas and it's just the beginning. We need prayers and Benadryl.

Let's say I post a horrifying picture of the cedar pollen killing us all, and I say something like "The cedar is so bad that this year I'm going to have a head transplant."

INEVITABLY, some little Eeyore will pop on and say "My uncle had a head transplant, and I am the head of the head transplant GoFundMe now and I don't appreciate it when people who aren't really having head transplants talk about having head transplants."

Well lean in, Eeyore, so that you can look deep into my eyes and feel my scary whisper wash over you when I say: LIGHTEN UP!

CONTEXT is the difference between making a joke about needing a head transplant during cedar season, and the difference between ACTUALLY talking about head transplants. No one would ever make a joke about a REAL head transplant patient. Only imaginary ones, like me. (PS - please go to a lab and see if you're a match because I could really use your help and your head between now and February. This will have to sort of be like a chain letter, because then you also have to find a head donor match and so on. Someone loses, but we probably won't know them.)

Sometimes, believe it or not, head transplants can be used in a humorous, hyperbolic way to make a point - in this case, the point that we are all dying of a horrid plague and feel as though we may never laugh again because you can't laugh and sneeze at the same time, and no one laughs in Texas between December and February anyway.

Sometimes, when you post a photo of your cat's handiwork after knocking over a container of 3,000 microbeads, you really don't want a lecture on how microbeads are destroying the habitat of the Mung Bean Golden Micro-Bear in Tiraloo, either. We just want to show you our bead mess.

We'd all get along much better if we re-introduced context into our online activities, and re-developed our senses of humor, and freed ourselves from the tyranny of believing in micro-agressions related to glass beads and head transplants.


I was straightening up some things after holiday decorating, and I came across some of the cards we made at one of my retreats last year and before popping them in the mail to friends, I thought I'd share them with you.

I did a detailed class on the Elegant Writer pen during one session. It's really one of my favorite, unpredictable watercolor mediums. I have a video using this pen here.

But for these two projects for the class, all I did was go over the stamp lines (waterproof ink) with the pen and then add water. I found that the spruce color that separated out looked just like Lost Lagoon, (retired) so I paired it with that for the card base. Love the plum shades that come out too, so I mounted the second card on Perfect Plum.

links to supplies used

The sort of dreamy look you can get was perfect for the elegant images and the sentiment. In another CONTEXT this might be happy, upbeat images and less moody and serious.

That's the beauty of art. I can change the mood instantly with a color or a style. If only Facebook would comply :).

Hope you're having a great lead-up to Christmas. I had my customer appreciation Christmas party last night and I promised to share the recipes, which were very well received. In order of enthusiasm - here they are.

Bacon Cheeseball Bites

  •     12 oz. cream cheese, softened
  •     1 c. shredded extra sharp cheddar - I microplaned a brick of it - makes a huge difference. I don't think they'd be as good with grated cheese from the store.
  •     1 tsp. garlic powder
  •     1 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
  •     kosher salt
  •     Freshly ground black pepper
  •     8 slices bacon, cooked and finely chopped (whatever - use however much you want)
  •     1/3 c. finely chopped fresh chives (homegrown here)
  •     1/3 c. finely chopped pecans (I smashed them with my smasher thing)

1. Mix together cream cheese, cheddar, garlic powder, paprika and season with salt and pepper. I did this by hand with gloves. Easiest. Form into 18 small balls (1/2" diameter maybe?) and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
2. In a shallow bowl or on a plate, stir together cooked bacon, chives, and pecans.
3. Roll balls in bacon-chive-pecan mixture and insert a pretzel stick in each ball.
 Churro Chex Crack

4 1/2 cups Rice Chex™ cereal
4 1/2 cups Corn Chex™ cereal
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1/4 up light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Place cereal in a large, heat safe bowl. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick baking spray. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup until the mixture comes to a boil. Let boil for one minute, stirring constantly, then remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Pour over cereal and stir until cereal is coated. Spread cereal on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake for about 5 minutes, then flip with a spatula and bake for 3 more minutes, until cereal turns golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely, then break up and store in an airtight container.

Those were the two most amazing things. Then I did phyllo cups with a piece of brie and Melanie Hope's homemade apricot pepper jam (the apricots are from her own tree). Those disappeared, along with mushroom sausage phyllo cups and mushrooms stuffed with that same mixture. You just saute chopped mushrooms and onions in butter with some thyme - just cook until all the moisture is cooked off. While hot, mix that with a brick of cream cheese and one package of Jimmy Dean Natural (has no MSG) sausage that you've already cooked. Stuff this into mushrooms or pastry and it's delicious. That's a recipe I got from Melanie. Then we had spinach dip with torn up Hawaiian Bread and broccoli salad - I crowdsourced this recipe - and mashed up a few people's to get this one. I like it because it's less sweet than some other recipes. I could eat this all day.

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli - I got two huge stalks from an organic farm in California, so I don't really have a quantity - maybe four cups or so, chopped into small pieces.
2 C. Mayo - I used half Hellman's, half Duke's
1/3 C. sugar - I think you could even do 1/4
4 TBS white balsamic vinegar
1 C. dried cranberries
1 C. sultanas
1 C. cooked, chopped bacon

Mix the mayo, sugar and vinegar thoroughly and store overnight in the fridge - very important. The next day, toss the rest (except the bacon) in the dressing. It seems like too much dressing, but it's not. Add bacon when serving so it stays crispy. Add nuts if desired.

A good time was had by all and they did what I told them to do and ate all the food! :)

So go out there and make it a fun and funny week - no Eeyoring allowed, you hear me?



  1. so glad you posted these so I can crawl out of my drool pit since I have been drowing in it waiting for you to post said recipes....word of the day..."said" ya, Di

  2. LIGHTEN UP! AMEN!!!!!!!!! Really enjoyed your thoughts today. Your cards are stunning. I surely need an Elegant Writer. Recipes sound cinnamon and bacon so I can imagine I would enjoy both.

  3. Lydia, I love your blog posts...and your sense of humor...and your cards...and now your recipes. I NEED to make those bacon bites.

  4. Totally agree with your thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I can so relate! Years ago I was having a conversation in an AOL womens chat room. Were talking about menopause in a humorous way and lamenting together. Someone said to me, "you might be pregnant" to which I laughed out, "shoot me now" as my 50 year old body just couldn't handle that. Well...that started a tirade from a person with whom I wasn't familiar and she just wouldn't let up. Every nasty thing she could think of to say was directed my way. I just signed off. I signed in again about a week later and there she was and she came after me again. I signed off and never went back. I love that you say what's on your mind and with your considerable writing ability in a way that is both entertaining and enlightening. I tested to see if I could be a donor but the tests were inconclusive...they said they couldn't find anything in there.

  6. Lydia - had to laugh - know not funny for you - luckily I LOVE cedar and look forward the Christmas every year when is the only time I can ever get any. I am a demo and live in desert outside Vegas - not much cedar here. Secondly - loved the recipes. My favorite snack during year is the Chex mix - have several ohter recipes - can't wait to try yours. Your blog posts are delightful and insightful, entertaining and educational - love them. Have a great Christmas.

  7. Oh my gosh, I can't believe you wasted precious water on a frivolous art project. Don't you know that is a precious resource and some people are dying of thirst in the desert right now?

    Kidding, of course. I love both your cards (they are just gorgeous) and totally agree with the point about context. This is why I avoid facebook these days.

  8. I love your posts Lydia. Your sense of humor is delightful and your cards are wonderful!

  9. LOL, you have me laughing all alone, staring at my computer don't want my head! LOL!

    I was reading your recipes and had to ask Siri for a definition of a Sultana. One of the sources Siri gave is this one where there were a lot of people responding as to what a Sultana is and how it is different from a raisin. Some serious explanations, but many hilarious such as: "It's easy to tell the difference - just use the nostril test: how many can you get up one nostril? Currants are smallest, raisins larger and sultanas largest of all. So, if you only manage a few, they are sultanas, lots and it's currants. Somewhere in between and you've got raisins. (This does not apply for Australian Lexia Raisins of course but these are horrid anyway). Simon, Sheffield England."

    LOL!!!!!! You all must go here and read for more laughs!! More LOLing by myself while staring at the computer!!! (,5753,-3680,00.html

    1. haha that's so funny! In America - sultana is a golden raisin. I think in Australia it's just their word for raisin.

  10. Your blog should be required reading for anyone in need of a mental health prescription. You always make me smile, laugh out loud, exclaim something in agreement. Many thanks for the insight, the sarcasm, the beautiful artwork (always) and the fabulous recipes. A true Christmas present of a blog post. May all your sultanas be merry and bright.

  11. I so agree with you. I posted a vid a couple of weeks ago of 2 pups, maybe 10 days old, "fighting" with a warning of graphic material. I hope I deleted the comments of the woman who accused me of pretending to work with Cavalier Rescue USA just so I could take in and resell bait dogs. And did I know how serious the problem of dog fighting is (duh). And she was going to unfriend me and report me. Then went to my business page and found a picture of Toby to continue her tirade there. I seriously wanted to bait her with, "You have lost. your. mind." but I simply deleted the comments, and asked my friends to accept my apology. *sigh*


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