If They Can Do It, So Can Humans


The ‘united against the enemy’ thing isn’t working for us, so the ‘finding something in common’ thing might, eventually.

(Apologies – I can’t edit out the ‘ad’ at the end)

The Hardest Thing On Earth

I have a quote by Katharine Mansfield up on my wall above my computer desk where I write all this stuff. It goes like this …

‘Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.’

It’s a pretty wild quote don’t you think?

Every time I get freaked out about this whole Wunder-Lusters thing,(and believe me it happens a lot, sometimes they’re small freak-outs and sometimes they’re, not) I read that line I’ve used as the title of this post.

You wanna know what the hardest thing for me is? What the hardest thing has been for me for my whole goddamn life? Doing the hardest thing.

I’m good at a whole lot of things. For a high-school dropout I’ve managed to build an impressive skill-set. I can draw you up a set of houseplans, I make a mean spaghetti bolognaise sauce, I’m a pretty damn good writer. I can fix just about anything with a piece of coathanger wire, duct tape and a crochet hook. I can talk knowledgeably on a list of things from A to Z, and a just as many things I know nothing about, like … hmm, there’s a whole list of ’em but that’s not my point.

My point is that of all those things I’m good at not one has ever risen above the level of ‘really good’. Well, some of ’em have got as high as ‘really, really good’, but nothing has ever … shone, bright enough to qualify for having accomplished that ‘hardest thing’.

I have no idea where Wunder-Lusters is going to take me, us, or how we’re going to pay for it, or what I’m going to become, but I do know this, I’m going deaf, I wear three strengths of glasses, (for different things, not all at once) I’m down to half a working knee, and arthritis is starting to kick in everywhere else. Sometimes the future scares me so much I can hardly breathe.

I’m 61 years old, it’s time to do the hardest things.

Have you ever … A Lesson in Gastronomy …

… licked your fingertip and picked the crumbs off your plate because 1 – you’re an adult now and you just can and 2 – you know that the crumbs of what you just ate contain the distilled essence of all that is good and fine in the world?

Nah, me neither.

Shortbread - shorts, or breads, or cookies?

Shortbread – shorts, or breads, or cookies?

Ginger Snaps ... before and after

Ginger Snaps … before and after

Mrs Widds cuts the mincemeat with apple - means you can have more than one, even if you're not doing quality control

Mrs Widds cuts the mincemeat with apple – means you can have more than one, even if you’re not doing quality control

AllysNotebook Ginger Ale fruitcake recipe - still warm from the oven

AllysNotebook Ginger Ale fruitcake recipe – still warm from the oven

As Requested … The Recipe For Butter Tarts

Please bear in mind that this is Mrs Widds Secret Recipe, so don’t tell anyone, (without attribution) especially Great Uncle Algie. We all know what a gossip he is when he’s got a bit of eggnog under his belt



Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

TASTY TIP: Place foil in bottom of oven to catch any spill. (preferably before you turn the oven on!)

Spray 12 cup tart/muffin tin very lightly to enable easy removal of tarts if your filling overflows as it melts.



1 egg
½ cup butter or margarine softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups raisins or pecans or walnuts

½ tsp salt
2 cups Flour
¾ cup Shortening or lard
1 tbsp vinegar
5 tbsp cold water




Beat together the first 5 ingredients until creamy, not grainy.

Chill the filling to make it easier to work with – not necessary but less messy.

TASTY TIP: I usually make up a batch of filling early and freeze it until needed.



Mix dry ingredients together, add liquid and mix together lightly.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface.

TASTY TIP: Dust the rolling pin with flour to stop the pastry sticking to it.

Experiment with thickness, (I prefer my pastry to be fairly thin) but thick enough to hold the filling.

Pastry and filling and butter, oh my!

Pastry and filling and butter, oh my!


Cut pastry to fit your tart/muffin tin, leaving enough to create a fluted edge around the top of each tart. Experiment with sizes. Add a few raisins, walnuts, or pecans in the bottom of pastry cup just before you put the filling in. The tarts are delicious with or without them so adding them is at the discretion of the baker.

Fill each pastry cup approximately 2/3 full.



Bake for 15-20 minutes or until filling is set and pastry a golden brown.

TASTY TIP: Once baked IMMEDIATELY remove the tarts from pan … or you will have to hack them out with a jackhammer!

TASTY TIP: Scrape overflow into tart. To remove from tin, slide a fork down side and slide to one side gently lifting the tart as you go. Tart should lift easily out of tin.

Makes about 12, depending on the size of your tart/muffin tin, but the recipe can easily scale up for even more deliciousness.

The tarts can be frozen after baking, and reheated as desired.



Mrs Widds Goodie Basket Seasonal Baking Begins

Mrs Widds rose a little earlier than I yesterday and put her nefarious plans in place.

Because we live in such a little cottage I awoke to a tantalizing toffee-and-melted-butter aroma that gently lifted me from my recumbancy.

Although I’m not at my best before my first cuppa tea, I hastened to the kitchen to be greeted by this …

Pastry and filling and butter, oh my!

Pastry and filling and butter, oh my!

She waved her magic rolling pin, and in a great act of alchemy transformed these base elements into ….



I quelled my beating heart for I was about to face my greatest test ..

Quality control ...

Quality control …

I girded my spleen, also pancreas, and bravely hoisting my tea, sallied forth to do my duty …

Going ...

Going …

Gone, in a sugar induced haze of glory ... if I should fall in service to the season, bury me where the wild tarts roam!

Gone, in a sugar induced haze of glory … if I should fall in service to the season, bury me where the wild tarts roam!

One of the ‘playlists’ on our ‘Wunder-Lusters’ video channel is going to be about cooking these sorts of things with a propane oven, dutch oven, campfire, all sorts of RVcooking in general really, because we do love our food, we does.

Mrs Widds Eviscerates

I have occasionally featured Mrs Widds and her exceptional baking skills on my blog as ‘Mrs Widds Bakes’ – prime examples of which can be found by doing a search for Mrs Widds Bakes, where you will find such gems as THIS.

Due to her expanding skill-set she is now also our resident Fixer-Upper.

But first … on a personal note, I was promised snow the other night. It didn’t happen. I am … disappointed.

For those new to my blog one of my little, quirks, lets call them, is an (‘over’, some might say) enthusiasm for snow. It’s in my genes.

I was born in the northern hemisphere, (in a little town called Rochford, in the county of Essex, England) but for reasons that were never adequately explained to me, my parents chose to emigrate to Australia when I was 2. Had I been able to voice an opinion at the time I would’ve voted for the alternative destination, Canada.

The ways of one’s parents are inexplicable.

It took me 42 years but I did manage to get here (Canada) by 2004. Having been so long deprived of snow I have since discovered a deep well of (insanity, some might say) joy when the fluffy white stuff falls from the sky. …

… back to Mrs Widds and her evisceration-ing.

Out little cottage used to have a real fireplace but a previous tenant used the flagstone hearth as a base for his firewood splitting endeavours. Needless-to-say the owner wasn’t at all impressed with the mess he left behind and removed the fireplace.

Mrs Widds and I grew up (separated by the Pacific Ocean) with fireplaces, so we decided to use the old fake-it-’til-you-make-it principle, and, as all our power here on Widder Island is sourced from electricity, we bought ourselves this fabulous electric fan heater.

Although you can't really see it at all in this hasty photo, the flickering light is rather lovely to stare into on a cold winter's eve whilst sipping one's chai-latte

Although you can’t really see it at all in this hasty photo, the flickering light is rather lovely to stare into on a cold winter’s eve whilst sipping one’s chai-latte

Then a few years later, it suddenly died!

Wailing and gnashing of teeth was heard across the land!

Then it started again.

Great rejoicing was heard, you guessed it, across the land.

Then it died again.

… deathly silence …

All was not lost however, because Mrs Widds, fresh from her triumphant carburetor replacement on the generator. (which can be found HERE – you have to scroll down a bit, and HERE) swung into action.

I on the other hand, retired to my computer with chai-latte in hand and proceeded to work on my ‘How to become a YouTube video-making Mavern’ (not real name) course for our Wunder-Lusters adventures next year.

Meanwhile, appropriate tools were sought, and with a few sub-sonic mutters, Mrs Widds reduced our faithful heater to it’s component parts …

Upside-down, back-to-front, and eviscerated

Upside-down, back-to-front, and eviscerated

… and isolated the miscreant …

Corrosion of the miscreant-y kind

Corrosion of the miscreant-y kind

It turns out one can’t just replace these tiny wires by themselves, or even with the plate they’re connected to, no one has to buy the whole assembly.

Some reassembly will be required . The bit at the front is the heating element and the round thingy at the back is the fan

Some reassembly will be required . The bit at the front is the heating element and the round thingy at the back is the fan

The upside is that Amazon carries many of these gizmos that are slightly less powerful and fairly cheap, (and probably will fit, probably) but to get one exactly the same as this we have to pay pretty much double the price.

We are currently quandary-ing the odds, and consulting the bank balance … will update soon.

Have You Ever … Gets Weird …

Time is weird

Time is weird

… been busy minding your own business when suddenly whatever it is you’re doing feels like it’s a déjà vu moment from your past but you remember it happening in a dream so it’s really a forward déjà vu moment because it actually hasn’t happened yet and so you start spinning your wheels about the meaning of time and you feel like you have a new understanding of time-travel and maybe you could use it in a story so you open Scrivener but another program you’ve been waiting to update finally finishes and your computer needs to do a restart and you automatically click on the restart button and the fleeting time-travel idea you just had has now disappeared but you think you might find it at some point in the future because a déjà vu and time-travel are the same thing?

Nah. Me Neither


It was either this or the Time Warp song from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but I’ve always had a soft spot for this song after I accidentally started watching a spooky horror movie called Fallen, in which this song features heavily …(I usually avoid horror movies like the plague but this one had Denzel Washington in it so I thought it might be … interesting – it was