From the mind of a mild mannered maniac

Archive for the ‘Non Fiction’ Category

Cliff’s Almond Wreath Cookies


Back in baking school, many moons ago, I was asked to come up with an original Christmas cookie recipe. I decided to take the traditional sugar cookie idea, tweak it a bit and give it a festive spin. Since then it has become a Lewis family tradition, and not just at Christmastime.

Cliff’s Almond Wreath Cookies


(To make approx. 2 1/2 dozen)

All-purpose flour  – 2 Cups
Ground Almonds  – 1/4 Cup
Granulated Sugar – 1 Cup
Butter (unsalted)   – 1 Cup
Large Egg            –  1
Table Salt            – 1 tsp.
Almond essence  – 1 tsp.
Almonds (Blanched & sliced) 1 100g package
(1 egg, 1 TBS sugar & 2 TBS water for glaze)


1. Preheat oven to 375°F
2. For glaze, mix 1 egg with 1 TBS sugar & 1 TBS water, in a small bowl. Set aside
3. In a large bowl, combine sifted flour, ground almonds & salt. Set aside.
4.In a medium bowl, cream butter & sugar, then stir in 1 whisked egg and almond essence.
5. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and slowly stir in the creamed mixture until a  medium-soft dough forms.
6. Knead Slightly then roll into a ball. Place back in bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
7. Roll out on floured surface to a 1/8″ thickness, and stamp out dough with a smooth or flute edged 3″ round cookie cutter.
You can also cut out centers with a 1/2″ cutter if desired. (This will give your cookies more of a wreath-like appearance, but is totally optional.)
8. Place these on a cookie sheet at least 1/2″ apart. Brush with glaze and top with sliced almonds.
9. Bake in center of oven for 12 – 15 minutes, or until edges are a light golden color.
10. Let them set on pan for at least 5 minutes before transporting to cooling racks. Once cooled, your wreaths could be dusted lightly with confectioner’s sugar. (For a festive touch).
11. Enjoy ! 🙂

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Coming Home


My Right-Brain Rant

When I sit down to write, and I really start to slide over, into that fertile, right-brain territory, I can free myself of my earthly bonds, and constraints.

I slip away from all the mundane, day to day stuff, and escape into a whole new world full of dreams and possibilities. A place of my own creation, where the only limitatation is imagination.

Trouble arises though, when nosey old Left brain decides to crash the party. He is one heck of a party pooper! He marches in and starts demanding realism, credibility, common sense. All that boring stuff!

The other day I was off on a right-brain drift. It was great, ! I kid you not! The words were really flowing ,cascading onto the page like rapids over Niagra’s Falls!

Suddenly old lefty gets it into his side of the head to start editing.
There are some things you don’ t do in this life, you don’t tug on Superman’s cape and you don’t mess with  my words mid-stream like that.

“Get outta here,” I yelled, “You can do what ever you need to when I’m done here!”

He left in a huff, but by then I wasn’t in the mood anymore!

Don’t get me wrong, he is a handy dude to have around. I get him to do all my spell checking, proof reading, research, rewrites, fact checking and editing. When it comes to all that tedious crap, he’s a wiz!

A problem has arisen recently though, where lefty has been trying his hand at the creative stuff.
He is convinced that he is the second coming of Lord Byron! Can you believe it?
The trouble is that he is rubbish at it!

Yes, the verses are beautifully punctuated, and the spelling is spot-on, but the there is no flair, no feeling, and a totall lack of imagination. The waste basket is overflowing with his discarded attempts.

I really have to nip this one in the bud though. Writing is truly a division of labour between the pragmatic left and creative right side of the brain. I always try to let “Righty” fleshout a draft as fully as possible before “Lefty” comes in and tears it apart.
I’m certain that this is something that all creative people, the world over, struggle with daily,




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In light of a very recent and coincidentally similar writing prompt, this might seem like a strange stand-alone post.

Since I came by this idea several weeks ago, quite organically, though, a stand-alone post It shall remain.

I am nothing, if not a stubborn fool! 😉

My beautiful young niece, Taylore, an intelligent and creative eleven-year-old, had joined my parents and I for lunch at our local eatery.

This establishment offers very high quality homestyle fair and so it has a large local following, and the wait for service can be a prolonged one.

While we waited to be served, we sat and played our favourite make-a-word game.

The object of this game is to create an original word, and provide clues for the other participants, until one of us
Determines the correct definition.

My niece went first, her word was
BLOOMP and we were told it was an adjective.

The clues went something like this:

“The water in the lake, was bloomp and crystal clear”


“Pete thought his new hairdoo made him look really bloomp”

If you haven’t worked it out, the definition was “COOL”

My Mother a keen anagrams fan suggested we challenge ourselves further, and chose a word at random from a newspaper article. She stipulated that we had to create our “new” word by using every letter of the chosen word.

She chose “STUDENT”
Here’s what we came up with:

TUDENTS – (adjective) Horrid, nasty, extremely unpleasant.

DUTTENS – (noun) Hobbies or passtimes.

EDUNTTS – (adjective) Likeable, pleasant, generally pleasing.

TUNSTED – (noun) Wasted effort.

Thus the phrase;

Horrid people might say that hobbies of even a very pleasant nature, are little more than wasted effort. To wit, I reply, cool, the heck, down!

Could be said, thusly:

Tudents, people might say that even the most eduntts, duttens are merely tunsted. To that, I reply bloomp the heck, down!

As if by magic, we had entertained ourselves long enough for our lunch to arrive. 🙂

The last part of the game, was to try and use our new words as often as possible for the remainder of the day.

That came with some mixed and interesting results.

We told the waitress that the food was eduntts (pleasant) but that the rude customer at the next table was tudents (horrid) and that being polite to him was a complete tunsted (wasted effort).

She was understandably distracted, and when she simply
Smiled and nodded, we weren’t at all surprised.

When I walked in to the green grocer’s, and exclaimed that his store had such an eduntts (pleasant), aroma, I thought he was going to deck me!

So, there you have it, yet another peek into my nerdy little mind 😉

Have yourself an extremely eduntts day!

It would be bloomp If you should decide to leave me a little comment. 😉

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The Diabolical Blog

The blank word processor page, on my laptop’s screen, glared emphatically at me.

“How dare you parade me about in such an undressed way” It seemed to say. ” Come on, Mr. big shot, writer guy, At least cover me up, with a few words!”

l shifted us to a different spot on the couch. The light was better here, and it had a much nicer view of the garden.

I alternated from thinker pose to keyboard drummer and then finally to gazing vacantly out the window.

The whole time, that lousy, blank screen, with its annoyingly bouncy cursor was just taunting me.

“Let me be,” I cried! Can’t you see that I’m deep in thought? That I am mere moments away from manuscript magnificence here?”

Oh, but my wiley, old computer knew me better than that. Knew my faults, foibles and silly games, better than I knew them, myself.

Even now, as I stared distractedly at the empty page, the pointer was prancing around the bleak, blankness pointing out my pathetic lack of production.

My mind wandered and drifted around for thirty minutes, or more, never once landing on a decent story idea.

From across the room my session timer buzzed and I walked over to shut it off.

I don’t know if I half expected a magic writing genie, or wizard to have had it’s way with my keyboard, in my absence. Perhaps I had convinced myself that I had actually been creative, for a time.

You need to remember, just this, my mind was already, off, taking a vacation in Club Med, at this point. These things happen, I mean, after all, even the humble shoemaker had his elves, right?

I stared at my screen in dumb-struck, disbelief.

“No, no,” I cried! “This simply cannot be!”
The blank, screen loomed over me.
Where were my prolific, prose, my sparkling sentence structures, my pithy rejoinders?

A strangely sardonic, sonic, note unlike any other, errupted from the depths of my tortured diaphragm. It reverberated round and around, then like a tempest in a teapot, soared skyward.

The diabolical Block had struck again!


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Blueberry Picking Time

Hello you charming, lovely, wonderful people!
Just wanted to let you know I am not abandoning Cliff’s Notes, but I may not be posting very frequently, either, for the next month or two. 

Has anyone here worked at a Berry farm before?
If so, could you leave me a brief  comment or email about it?
Thanx 🙂

I am going to work on a couple of blueberry farms. Starting tomorrow in the early A.Ms. That’s pretty much a dawn until night-fall kinda gig, or so I’ve been told.

I will post as often as I can.
I have few poems and stories I’ve stock piled for such an occasion and who knows? I may have some crazy aventures to write about.

I bet there will be some mighty interesting folk there to talk about.
I will be sure to let you know. 🙂

I think this will be a good experience for me, and an awesome chance to step outside of my comfort zone.

I know I’m not climbing Mount Everest exactly, but It’s as far from my writing desk as I have ventured in some time.

Gotta go now, dawn is not that far away, and those berrys aren’t likely to pick themselves, are they?

Until next time,

Peace and Love to all,


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I’m back, I think?

I hope this random, jotting finds you all safe and well.

Sorry I haven’t posted anything new in the last little while. Did you miss me? (the sound of crickets chirping) That much eh?

I was very under the weather, and the last thing on my mind was adding new content to Cliff’s Notes.

Anyway, I am still alive,
contrary to common belief, and feeling slightly guilty about the fact that my wp friends have not had anything new from me in days. (cue end of world footage)

I guess, I could have written daily, describing my symptoms and griping endlessly about… well everything. I’m sure you woud have enjoyed that

Day one – Oh **** I feel like #%&% ! Why am I such a &*%#ing wimp? I just discovered a fascinating new substance oozing from my… Did anyone catch the license plate number of the thirty-ton truck that just ran over me? Where the **** is Bob Barker? Not another Flu remedy commercial!!!
I Suspect I may be dieing! …..
Oh ****! where’s my ###%ing bucket!!!

Some of you medical students, out there, might have found it an interesting case study. I seriously   doubt it though. Suffice it to say, that, when influenza rears its ugly head, I magicly transform myself into the biggest baby known to man.

———— (insert pithy segue here)
I am hoping to get around and catch up on all your pages and posts today, and then I’ll focus on posting new stuff for tomorrw.

Peace and Love,


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