New Website—New Blog Post

Remember—I’ve moved.

On my new website I’ve got a new blog post up.

If you receive my blog posts via email, please sign up on the new website. Any page has the sidebar with blog and email newsletter signup.

Click over to the Blog page and read the latest.


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Countdown to Publication!

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 3.18.21 PM

The book cover is in process!

The days are counting down to the day I’ll actually push the “Publish” button.

Several weeks ago I made the decision to publish indie. Since then there has been a cascade of decisions and steps to take. My mentors in this process have been on a Facebook group, Christian Indie Authors.

I’ll also be setting up a new website—www.CristineEastin.com—where this blog will live. Stay tuned for that.

If any of you are wanna be authors— DO IT! It’s never been easier or more fun. That book you’ve been wanting to write for your kids—do it! A family recipe book—do it! The next Great American Novel—do it! With Amazon’s print-on-demand CreateSpace, you can print five copies for family or thousands may buy your book.

I have no idea if I’ll sell 50 or 5,000 books. I’m excited to see where this goes. I hope you’re one of my traveling companions.

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Wisconsinites Crazy from Weather

Water: Sometimes Ya Love It, Sometimes Ya Hate it!

Water: Sometimes Ya Love It, Sometimes Ya Hate it!

It’s true: we Wisconsinites are at serious risk of going crazy due to our weather. I’m surprised we don’t crack from temperature changes, or crack up from weather mood swings.

For instance, picture last night, April 13th, my husband and I are frantically shopvaccing rainwater out of a hole in the basement drain system—haul five gallon buckets to the window—climb out the window—dump the water in the middle of the lawn to avoid it draining back into our apparently faulty drain tile system—and back again. And again, and again—till 3 a.m.

So, the Rain of the Century that left us with an inch of water in our basement a year ago seems to have been repeated rather quickly. Only this time we were able to keep ahead of it and avoided huge carpet pieces laid out on the driveway to dry.

Then—this morning, April 14th, we wake up to snow on the ground. Aside from during ski season, that was the happiest I’ve ever been to see snow. No rain—no flood in the basement.

It’s a Wisconsinite’s birthright to complain about the weather—it’s obligatory. Even if I wasn’t born in Wisconsin, I’ve certainly been grafted in after 36 years. Anyway, it’s in my Minnesota genes. I remember back when we had “real winters” in Minnesota and some 100˚ temps in summer in the early 1970s. So I can complain about the weather like a pro.

How does this fit with the theme of my blog, “…because you can’t pour from an empty pitcher”? Because I got my complaints about the weather out of my system, for today. My pitcher nearly ranneth over!

Thanks for listening. 🙂




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Coffee, Please.

Let’s take a break from the travelogue, of which there are three more parts.

And talk about COFFEE.

Morning coffee-making has changed radically over the years. I remember when it was a percolator on the stove, and the formula was 8, 8, and 8—eight cups of water, eight teaspoons of coffee, perked for eight minutes. Then came the electric percolator. Plug it in and come back for coffee.

Then the advent of the drip coffee maker. Great! Except the hunt was then on for what brand of coffee maker made coffee I actually liked.

Then came the frustration of heating elements going out and glass carafes breaking.

I succumbed to paying $50 for a replacement carafe once! When that pot broke I fritzed out and looked for an alternative way of making coffee—GOOD coffee.

Being old and crotchety, I looked back to the good old days and bought an electric percolator. Yeah, what was so great about those days? Metallic-tasting coffee? But we adapted; we’d paid out the money.

But then we came to the end of our rope with so-so coffee. I mean, if your cup of joe doesn’t grab your attention first thing in the morning, what’s the point? If I wanted coffee-flavored dishwater I could get that cheaper out of the sink.

What to do? The search for a new coffee making system was on AGAIN. I won’t bore you with all the details of the quest, and believe me, it’s boring. Coffee making has gone nuts: all these high-priced, single-serving gizmos, and so many bells and whistles, gaskets and pumps to go bad.

Solution: my husband hit on it. Twice-perked coffee. Twice-baked potatoes are good, so why not twice-perked coffee? Dave makes the coffee before he goes to bed, lets it perk three or four minutes and unplugs it. Then he lets it go through the full perk cycle in the morning. Voila! Good, strong coffee! Strong enough to mask the metallic taste. So we’re keeping the stainless steel percolator and saved the $100 of a “coffee station.”

You’re rolling your eyes, I know. But you should see me without coffee.

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Mother’s Day’s A Pain

You motherless children of all ages…you know what I mean.

I lost my mother when I was 22, and she was 46—too young. Ever since, a long time ago, Mother’s Days have been tough.

The pain lessens, but it’s always there.

Being a mother helps ease the heartache of the motherless—so I’m told. Being a step-mother helps—this I know. Being a grandmother helps—yes it does. Being a Christian—well, that’s plugged the hole in my heart from the inside.

If you’ve lost your mother, and on this Mother’s Day you’re remembering her rather than giving her flowers and taking her to brunch, I pray comfort for you.

A wise woman I spoke to years ago said, “A woman is always too young to lose her mother.”

Mother's Day Flowers—Poppies for Remembrance

Mother’s Day Flowers—Poppies for Remembrance

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Pumpkin Pie, the Perfect Food

Really—if you want the single most perfect food—I think pumpkin pie is it. Eggs for protein, milk for dairy, pumpkin for vegetable, and sugar for dessert. What more do we need? A meal in a slice.

Eating pumpkin pie leftovers for lunch the day after Thanksgiving, and I mean ONLY pumpkin pie for lunch, we dubbed it the perfect food.

It’s too bad pumpkin pie is mentally reserved for Thanksgiving. I say I’ll make it at other times, but then I forget.

Pumpkin pie is a big hit with my family; I do make an exceptionally good one, if I do say so myself.

Here are my secrets:

Secret #1—Double the spices, and make the ginger a generous double portion. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, but easy on the nutmeg (it’s gritty).

Secret #2—Add an extra egg, which makes three eggs per pie. Ellie, an American neighbor when I lived in England, gave me this tip.  Pumpkin pie is, after all, a custard pie, so why not load it up with eggs to make sure it sets nicely.

Secret #3— Use only the best shortening for the pie crust. (My husband says, “Use lard.”) And don’t overwork the crust; it gets tough. But then, your mother probably told you about pie crusts.

Aside from forgetting the sugar one year, which you read about last week, here’s my most memorable pumpkin pie memory.

Living in England as a twenty-something, I at least had enough sense not to run up the American flag on the Fourth of July, unlike the Americans across the street—but I did invite my English neighbors over for Thanksgiving dinner. They were very gracious and indulged me.

Sally, however, wasn’t known for her tact. When I proudly brought out my beautiful pumpkin pies over which I had slaved—making the puree from scratch, since there was no canned puree to be had—Sally screwed up her face and said, “Squash pie? That’s not a dessert.”

I wanted to laugh—and upend the pie on her head for a hat.

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British Response to the US Election—It’s a Joke, Love

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.(You should look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’ Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up ‘vocabulary’).

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ”like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of ‘-ize.’

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse.

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater.

11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.

14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

PS: Only share this with friends who have a good sense of humour (NOT humor)!

* * * * *


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Think Snow!

I hate summer! What I really mean is, I loathe heat and humidity.

But rather than rant about the negative, I’ll tell you how much I love winter. I’m counting the days till snow.

Start with the basics—you can always put more layers on—you can only take off so many layers before it becomes a problem. Sweaters are wonderful. They’re cuddly, warm, and just generally feel good. I especially like wearing the sweaters I made with my own little hands.

I love being under the bedcovers. I like the weight of covers. I like having them up

around my ears. I love the quilt I spent three and a half years making. I like the bedroom chilly.

Winter is soup season. There’s nothing like homemade soup to warm you up and make you feel loved. Mmm-mmm good.

Winter is homemade bread season. Baking bread is a bit of a hobby, but I’m certainly not cranking up the oven to 450˚ for 50 minutes when it’s already 78˚ in the house!

We see more of friends and family during the winter. In the good old summertime people are busy with other things.

There’s no gardening in the winter.

Winter weather suits my clothes. I like my winter wardrobe much better—usually jeans and something.

Snow—now there’s the real reason for winter. Snow means fond memories of growing up in Minnesota when we used to have real winters—snow cave winters. I remember sitting in my snow cave in the vacant lot next to our house, the sunlight filtering through the snow crystals all around me.

Snow means skiing. For those of you who downhill ski, I need say no more. But if you don’t ski, then know this, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had doing anything!

I took a thirty year hiatus from skiing. Today I wonder why on earth I did that, but at the time it made sense. Money was certainly a factor. Paying tuition for a doctorate seemed like a higher priority, and then I got caught in the working net. But now I teach downhill skiing, and that makes my lift ticket free! At the end of a full day of teaching— and believe me, it’s hard work—I smile and think, I’ve been outside in this beautiful winter weather ALL day. Fortunately, the days when I can’t feel the end of my nose are relatively few.

Winter is my season. Fall is pretty good too, when it’s cool. I feel more awake, more alive. No Seasonal Affective Disorder for me.

The picture above of Skye in the snow was a few years ago when we had a record season snowfall, just over 100″. I’m hoping for a repeat. Don’t listen to my husband, who doesn’t like  snowblowing.

Now, I’ll grant you, summer has it’s good points—but I can’t hear the birds when I’m cooped up in the house, cowering from the  grasping sticky fingers of humidity. Oops! I got negative, sorry. But, really, I think we’ve had a weather inversion this summer with some jungle country. High humidity plus extreme drought—double ick.

Winter—sitting in front of a crackling fire—watching the snow sift down. “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”

I guess I do love one thing about summer—going barefoot in the house ALL day.  I’m a little sad when I have to put on socks. But then I remember, Winter’s coming!

© Cristine Eastin, 2012
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