Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Five More Days...

...Until I can send Yummy back to school.

But who's counting?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thinking of Girl's Names

Most of the time I receive nice presents. They are exactly what I asked for, and I am grateful for them. As a rule I do not like surprises so I am perfectly happy with this arrangement.

But once in a while, the perfect surprise happens.

And that is what my mother did this year for Christmas.

Meet the newest addition to My Sewing Room:
A dress form. An adjustable, pinable, stand alone dress form.
**swoon**
She keeps telling me her name is Vanessa or Denise. Neither of those names seems fitting (no pun intended) for my body double.
And since I know somebody will ask, she is wearing a dress I made for a friend's wedding several years ago. It's fully-lined, hand-beaded and has a matching stole. Approx size 12 if anyone needs to borrow it.

Won't You Be My...

My neighbor (the wife of the one who nearly electrocuted himself in my driveway) brought me three giant bags of boys clothing from her twins.

It was better than Santa. After all, he only has one bag.

I now have at least two years of basic clothing for Yummy, and Vicious will get the hand-me-downs. Not only does this help the budget (just think how much yarn and fabric I can buy now!) but I don't have to go shopping (for boys) for a while.

I think I'll make her some of my cinnamon rolls as a thank you.

Wouldn't it be great if all neighbors were neighborly?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Daring Bakers-December

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand

My camera is lurking in the depths of Christmas mayhem and the pictures sucked anyway.

This has been the most futzy recipe yet, which is why I joined DB in the first place so it's all good. I had to make a daquoise cake (I am learning some great terminology with this group), a mousse filling (I chose milk chocolate), a crisp filling (I chose coconut), a ganache filling (dark choc), a creme brulee filling and a frosting (I chose white chocolate). The link to the recipe is 20 pages long but once you choose your flavors it's more like seven.

I decided to use my springform pan and ended up with not enough room for the creme brulee filling. As my springform leaks anyway, it was probably good that I didn't make a creme brulee in it. I also experimented with agar for my frosting (as opposed to the gelatin) and learned I need more practice with agar--the frosting was more like a glaze, with bits floating in it--Very nice.

Luckily, I decided not to make this for any special event (less pressure) and simply spent a Saturday puttering around the kitchen, cleaning a TON of dishes and making my challenge. It tasted really good, but it looked sloppy. When it was done, I sliced it into 16 pieces and froze them individually. I still have several left.

Overall, I was disappointed with myself. I knew my frosting was a disaster but I still poured it on and I would have learned more from making the creme brulee (which I have never done).

I look forward to seeing January's challenge. Maybe I'll have my mojo back.

Recipe here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas



Holiday advice:

Vicious: Walk softly and carry a big stick.
Yummy: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Mountain Mama and the Businessman: Have a very Merry Christmas!

Hope you enjoy our card!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

No Better Use For a Computer

I can think of no better reason to own a computer than to go on this site:

Where is Santa now?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Card 2007

This was another montage year. Only it was because we had so few decent pictures. The inside was so lame I won't even blog it.

You wouldn't believe how much cropping and finagling it took to get these pictures.



You will just have to wait until after Christmas to see this year's card. If you're on my list, they went out yesterday (the printer taking two weeks to ship them to us).

We had one cute picture this year (well, one that had both kids in it). I'm still thinking the inside is witty, but that may change. The businessman likes it. He also likes Cops, Hamburger Helper and Windex so I'm leary of his opinion.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Card 2006

This was the year we had several pics we loved. It was also the year we moved to Colorado.



There is an exception to the "No Adults" rule here. Those are my feet (the big ones not the small ones).

Inside it read:

After six years in Washington
Enjoying the rain, trees, and fun,
We decided to head for high country.
Included: Grandparents and sun.

So Christmas is in Colorado this year
In the city where mom and dad met.
And though we still miss the Pacific Northwest
Santa will not get as wet.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Card 2005


This was our Christmas card/birth announcement. It is my favorite picture I have ever taken.

And also the last time Yummy was nice to Vicious.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Card 2004



This was the cover of our 2004 card. Inside it read "Happy Nude Year!"

That day we took pics of Yummy running around in the sprinklers. He grabbed a daisy and I loved the way the camera focused on the flower and slightly blurred the rest of the image.

This is also why I should be setting money aside for therapy sessions when he is an adult.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Christmas Card-2003

I love our Christmas cards. Every year, we go through our limited supply of pictures and chose the best to grace our card. I spend long hours thinking of something witty to write on the inside (and then come up with it after I place the order) and then we go to Starbucks and address, stamp and mail them out.







Love the pixilation. This is our first card. For Halloween that year we themed out and presented ourselves as an all American family. Little Yummy Bear (now age 5) is a bald eagle sucking his thumb. The others are self explanatory. Inside was the smarmy poem:

It started as a costume
Of feathers, felt and glue.
Now Liberty and Freedom
And Uncle Sam want you
To share the holiday spirit
as the year turns new,
And have a Merry Christmas
From the three of us to you.

Every Halloween my MIL offers to take our pic for the card. This is the only time we used a Halloween picture, and the only time adults appear on the card.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Update

$600.00

That's the cost of my car repairs.

Merry Christmas to me.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Carbon Monoxide or Hypothermia?

Businessman: Hello?
Me: Hey, when you drove the car this morning, did it smell like gasoline?
B: Uh, no.
Me: Hmm, maybe it's the car I'm driving behind.

This conversation happened while I was driving thirty miles away to a kid's birthday party. While on the interstate, the smell dissipated.

When the party was over, someone offered to start my car for me to warm it up. Five minutes later, I got in the car and almost gagged on the fumes. A quick check outside showed exhaust coming out of the tail pipe, so I didn't think it was clogged. However, every time I stopped at a light I was inundated with fumes. I called the Businessman and explained the situation. His suggestion:

"Promise me you'll crack the windows."

Of course this sounds ridiculously smart, except for one problem: the temperature outside was -5 degrees. Not a typo.

When I got our slightly blue children home (blue from cold, I assume, and not asphyxiation) he noted that my car made the garage smell like gas.

So, guess who gets to drive my car this week?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Membership

I joined a gym this week.

Yesterday I was trying to get Vicious dressed so we could go to the gym while 5yo was in school. He started crying because he wanted to go to the gym too.

So I went twice.

I wonder how long the kids will enjoy the play area.

Don't Kill the Cat

I received a sly little present in the mail today. From a devoted reader.

You're all curious aren't you? All three of you.

You'll just have to wait until I have a chance to try out my new. . .item. I live with people who are not worthy of such largess but I may indulge myself a little.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Zap

My neighbor got a new toy last year, a snowblower, and didn't get to use it. We got snow last week and I smiled to myself when I heard his toy start up. Gradually the noise got louder and louder and then there was a horrible grinding noise and the snowblower stopped. Ten seconds later there was a knock on my door.

"I was blowing your driveway and I ran over your extension cord (for the Christmas lights). Could you unplug it for me?"

!!! I rushed into the garage, unplugged the cord and then ran out to assess the damage. The cord managed to get wound around the barrel three times and was frayed in a couple places. He tugged and untangled but couldn't free it.

Enter Super-Homemaker. This operation was very similar to extracting yarn from a vacuum. I did it with finesse and a flourish.

And I am thankful the man didn't electrocute himself in my driveway.

How nice it is to have a neighbor who'll do nice things though.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Revolting

I brushed my teeth with baking soda today.

I tried to multitask last night and search for my iPod downstairs while brushing my teeth with my toothbrush. It automatically shuts off after two and a half minutes which seems an eternity unless I'm multitasking. I eventually found my iPod and brought it upstairs but left the toothbrush downstairs.

This morning, while doing my usual control-the-chaos-of-getting-the-kid-ready-for-school, I realized my toothbrush was downstairs, but my toothpaste was upstairs. In a pinch, I used baking soda. I should have climbed the stairs. Not only do my teeth not feel clean, but I almost tossed my cookies in the kitchen sink. Lovely.

Toothbrush is back in his home. Baking soda is back among my cleaning supplies.

We (baking soda and I) will never speak of this again.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Now It's Just Redundant

I saw yet another lady from my old colorguard today. That makes four in the past two months.

Since fate is filling in the holes with very little effort from me, I'll make a wishlist of missing links I'd like to find:

The one from Illinois who graduated a year before me
My co-caption
The red-headed guard instructor
My waistline

Well, that last one will probably need a LOT of effort from me.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Economy

I know someone facing possible foreclosure. In fact, among the five of us that were offering moral support, we knew four families facing this problem.

One lady asked: Why can't the government just insist that the banks stop raising the ARM rates?

I usually ponder questions like this and try to see the other side and this time I can't.

Why do the banks have to raise interest rates on ARMS right now? Wouldn't it be better for them to still receive a smaller mortgage payment than a foreclosed home?

It wouldn't solve our economy, but it would help out thousands of families. That can't be bad.

Or am I ignorant of something?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

He's Back!

My 5yo has been strangely charming. He's generous with unsolicited "I love you"s. He's doing all his chores and some of mine. On rare occasions, he's nice to his brother.

Which led me to realize...

The original Big Brother is back.

Parents everywhere who spend a big chunk of the year using every discipline in the book and inventing some that aren't now have their work made easy:

Santa is watching.

In the time it takes a two year old to climb on top of the refrigerator; in the time it takes a three year old to lock his parents out of the house so he can eat all the yogurt; in the time it takes a four year old pretending to be a cat to try using the kitty's potty (all of the above are true stories, though not all mine, and all happened in a ridiculously short amount of time); those three words practically guarantee good behavior.

Santa is watching. Let the holidays begin.

Potsticker Salad

My family loves potstickers. Rarely I make them from scratch, more often I buy a bag of them frozen and pull out as needed.

They can be high on calories though, especially since I could eat about 15 in one sitting.

So I went to workout with the Businessman (his gym is giving free guest passes until January) and I was starving, but I didn't want to betray all my efforts of the previous hour. We both agreed this salad should be in the permanent rotation. It is ridiculously easy.

Dipping sauce/Dressing:
Equal amounts soysauce and rice vinegar
Chili oil to taste.

Salad:
One bag of Broccoslaw
Potstickers, cooked your favorite way (see directions on bag)

Steam the broccoslaw in the microwave about four minutes until tender. Decide whether to cut your potstickers into bite size chunks or leave them whole. Toss them, the slaw and some dressing together.

You could also add shredded carrots, tofu, water chestnuts, whatever. The idea here is to make a salad out of a potsticker filling.

If you don't have potstickers on hand you could also cook some pasta (rotini comes to mind) and fry it in a little oil until it's crunchy and toss that in. I would add more fixins to the salad though, so it really was more like potsticker filling.

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Little Love to a Soldier

I mentioned before that I have a friend in Iraq. I can't imagine being in her shoes. She has two small children and is several thousand miles away from her family. We decided we wanted to help make her Christmas special.

She requested some "pretty slippers" to hang out in. With soles. I made her some.


She's also a quilter so I found some pretty fabric (at least I thought it was pretty) as well as some special fabric that you can print on. I don't know if she has access to a printer, but if she does she can print some pics of her kids and make a quilt around them.


I also included a quilting magazine, a puzzle magazine, some biscotti (thanks for the suggestion), some taffy (a rememberance from visiting her when she had a massive pregnancy craving), and hope that she'll be home soon.
I mailed it and have since learned that she might have liked coffee. I didn't know her coffee capabilties at the time or I would have hooked her up.
Maybe I'll send another package in a couple months.

The Vish



My 2yo becomes a 3yo today. He is headstrong, adventurous and daring--all traits that can be traced directly back to the Businessman. He has a mop of curly blond hair and a darling Germanic face--attributes from me I suppose. (Yes I know I have brown hair, but just look at my baby pictures.) He is into anything extreme: Hockey, skateboarding, BMX, flight and skydiving. He asked to go skiing for Christmas, well, skijumping but we'll start with skiing.

For his birthday we got him a helmet.

I love you Vicious. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring bakers-November

This month's challenge involved a lot of suger. I meant to make it. I really did. It was a Caramel Cake by Shuna Fish Lydon. The hostesses of this month's challenge were http://culinarycuriosity.blogspot.com/, http://blondieandbrownie.blogspot.com/, and http://forayintofood.blogspot.com/. There was an optional recipe for vanilla caramels.

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (http://eggbeater.typepad.com/), as published on Bay Area Bites (http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/).

Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111

This month's rules entail that I must cite my sources. I always try to do this anyway but this month they have a program that will scan all our blogs and make sure we complied.

So anyway, I didn't make the cake. I had lots of other baking going on and I didn't want to risk having to bake numerous times because of my altitude adjustments. Also, judging by the way I polished off my caramels, the last thing I needed in my house was an entire cake.

But I did make the caramels.



There are altitude adjustments to be made with candy as well. But they are far more obvious:
Water boils at 212 degrees at sea level. Here it boils at 185 degrees (according to my thermometer, which is what I'm calibrating). That's a difference of 27 degrees. I simply have to adjust all the candy temps by 27 degrees. There may be other adjustments, but this simple math worked for this recipe. I calibrate this everytime I make candy.
A few years ago I bought a marble tile at Home Depot. I don't remember the cost, maybe $5.00, but check out the price of marble slabs in a kitchen store and you'll see my brilliance. Marble helps disperse the uber-heat of candy. For this recipe I simply placed my baking dish on the slab. When the caramel was set, I pulled it out of the pan and slapped on the marble and started cutting.
It was yummy! A little too hard for me--I felt like I might pull out a filling at any time, but that did not stop us from eating it (probably because no one else in my family has fillings!).

Monday, November 24, 2008

hard Work Does Pay Off

I have a friend who can draw. Actually I have a few friends who can draw, but this one is recently published.

People who can draw amaze me. I can whip up a sketch a toddler can recognize, and I'm decent at pictionary (although there was that time that I got "glue" and drew a bottle of Elmer's complete with thier bull logo and rocket shaped, ridged cap and no one on my team believed that Elmer's had a bull in thier logo) but I cannot draw the way some of my friends can. I cannot even imagine how they do some of the things they do.

Back to my friend. When we were in college she wanted to illustrate children's books. That was one of her big dreams.

Her dream came true.

I'm so happy for her.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Am I being Irrational?

My mom gave me some birthday money which I decided to put toward a Wii game I had been eyeing. The game Sucks. With a capital S.

So I composed the following emails:

To Target:
I can respect a return policy. For the most part, I understand why certain policies exist. However, in an effort to prevent dishonesty, you are hurting honest people.

I purchased a Wii video game earlier this week. After playing it once, I hated it. The quality of the game was awful and I regretted buying it. So I tried to return or exchange it for a different game. Alas, your policy doesn't allow this.

I know why you have this policy. But returning this game is the only way I, as a consumer, can tell the mfr their game is awful. If I had purchased a toy, and it fell apart immediately, I could return it. If I bought clothing and the seams ripped the first time I wore it, I could return it. If I bought an appliance that didn't quite fit my lifestyle, I could return it. But I can't return this game.

There should be a way that I, as an honest consumer, can get my money back, or at least exchange it for a game made by a more reputable mfr.

Target recommended I contact the manufacturer:

I recently got the Wii Fit and shortly afterward, decided to research what sort of games are out there for this platform. I found your game and decided it was exactly what I was looking for.

I am dissappointed. The game quality is poor. The interaction between the Wii controller and the game is inconsistant. And the unlockable fitness tips are unoriginal. After playing the game once, I was afraid my copy was broken. After playing twice, and searching product reviews, I concluded I can't blame myself for this one.

What really irks me is that there seems to be no way to get my money back. When I tried to return or exchange at Target, I was reminded of their store policy, and they suggested I contact you. You will probably ignore my email, and enjoy the money I gave you.

The problem of course, is that the dishonest people out there have made it impossible for the honest among us to tell you how poorly designed this game is.


Your bottom line is not affected by my opinion. As a consumer, I want to speak with my dollars. I want my money back.

I could probably get my money back by taking bets on if they'll give me my money back.

Let's Hear It For the Boys

The boys in my family are playing with a whoopie cushion.

Businessman: You know, there is a real irony about the whoopie cushion.
Me: Oh?
B: Yeah, you blow it up, put it under someone's butt, then blow it up again. It's like you're constantly kissing someone's butt.
Me: No, it's like you are kissing someone's butt. I don't get near that thing.

Query: How is that ironic?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Never Thought of it That Way

Last Spring, a speaker at a women's group I go to talked to us about making our own natural cleaning products. I have been making my own cleansers ever since.

She came back this Fall and gave another great presentation.

On the heels of this, we all got the stomach flu. The Businessman came home with Lysol and Windex because he wanted to "do a good cleaning." After my 10 seconds of deep breathing so I wouldn't bite his head off, I quoted our speaker:

"If it's flammable and/or toxic, it should not be used in your kitchen."

Good point.

The Nastiness that is Motherhood

***Warning: this post contains subject matter not appropriate for anyone who has a sensitive stomach.

I was bundling my kids up to take 5yo to the bus stop. While trying to stuff 3yo into his jacket he kept squirming. Once he was bundled up, I gave him a big hug.

Me: I love hugging you when you're snuggly. I could just gobble you up!
3yo: Mom! Don't eat me!
5yo: She won't eat you, she doesn't eat blood.
Me: (Assuming this was a reference to vegetarianism) Do you eat blood?
5yo: Yes, in some of my boogers.

Yet this is the same kid who won't eat half of my cooking.

This is Why I Don't Knit for Boys

I sat down to hash out Christmas gifts in October. Imagine my delight to find I didn't need to do anymore knitting! Now it's mid/late November and I have the following (self-inflicted) obligations:

A helmet liner for an anonymous soldier
Felted clogs for a soldier I know
As many felted clogs as possible for an auction

I find myself knitting as quickly as possible, carrying it to the bus stop, sticking it in the car just in case I have to stop for a train...

And to top it all off, my 5yo lost the skull and crossbone hat I made him this fall.

He wore it twice.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I have a friend who recently blogged about the recession and concluded that we will be fine. Which, for the most part is true. In fact (and please don't send me hate mail) I think our society of consumerism could use a good recession to teach us to buy less. I also wasn't convinced high gas prices were a bad thing because it taught us habits we should have had all along but I digress.

Where I was a little irked, was her telling us that we just need to cut back on the Jimmy Choos and we will be fine.

I thought about this last night at a thrift store. I found a pair of Calvin Klein cords that fit me beautifully. Finding pants that fit me is always noteworthy. I looked at the pricetag and cringed: $14.99. I know how great a deal this actually is (I'm wearing the pants now), but I haven't spent more than $10.00 on pants for two years. My family has spent less than $500.00 on clothing this year (I used financial software to look it up). That's one pair of Jimmy Choos.

I'm fortunate in that I can live within my means (with difficulty but I can).

What about the people who are stretching to spend $15 on pants that fit? What will they do during a recession?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's About the Journey

I got the Wii Fit for my birthday. I love it, but it is definately something that would go under the I do not need this and I would never buy it for myself category. I have been slightly sore for the past two weeks. It's always different muscles, but something is always sore.

Between Wii Yoga, cutting back dairy, walking more and knitting less, I have lost...

...one pound. And if one more person tells me "muscle weighs more than fat"...well...just don't be that person.

I have also noticed that my calf muscles are more defined, my thigh and glute muscles are stronger, and my bra cups are too big.

Because the whole point of being healthy is to have smaller boobs and a bigger a$$.

For a Soldier

I have a friend in Iraq. I want to send her a care package. She has closer friends and family who can take care of the necessities and her major wants, but I want to give some clever little things.

She quilts. She has two small children.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tis the Season

There is a theory that cats bring you their prey not to get praise, but to teach you, the unequipped kitten, how to hunt for yourself.

After losing his prey yesterday. The Businessman and I had to take things into our own hands. By then, the mouse was inside the bedside table--a sturdy piece of furniture. After removing all the drawers and accidently pinching the cat's tail, we scooped up the mouse and tossed him into the night.

Thank you Kitty. We know how to hunt now.

He caught another mouse this morning. He decided to eat the thing this time, to the joy of my sons.

5yo: Look, Clive ate his head. Mom! Clive is eating the mouse's head!
2yo: Where did Clive get the mouse?
5yo: Probably from the basement
2yo: No, probably the mouse store.

Query-Why does the cat insist on dragging the poor thing up two stories to enjoy his repast.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hello Mama? This is Fate.

Two weeks ago, one of my friends from colorguard got in contact with me.

Last week, another one found me.

Today I saw another one at the store.

The universe is clearly talking to me. But what is it saying?

Not a Good Sign

My cat is still awake and glassy eyed. Either this was a catnip-studded mouse, or he still hasn't found it yet.

A Mouse in the House

So as I'm writing my last blog entry, the heat kicks on and I hear a weird squeaking. Odd...the heat doesn't usually sound like that.

Fearing the worst, I finish and stand up to discover my cat has caught another mouse.

Good Kitty! Good Kitty! Uh, Kitty...did you chase that mouse under the bed? Is that mouse now hiding inside our boxspring? Not so Good Kitty.

You stay here until you have the situation under control. I need to make breakfast.

Meme

Someone sent me a meme by mail:

Four jobs I have had in my life: (In no particular order)
Research Intern at Children's Hospital
Accounting Specialist at T-Mobile
Parade Control at Disney World
Retail Sales at Godiva

Four movies I've watched more than once:
Life is Beautiful
Dangerous Beauty
The Red Violin
A Very Long Angagement

Four places I have lived:
Evergreen CO
Minneapolis MN
Seattle WA
Ft Collins CO

Four places I have been:
Kuaii HI
Santa Barbara CA
Vancouver BC Canada
Victoria BC Canada

Four people who e-mail me:
My SIL
My BF in Washington
Several people from Nigeria
Even more people genuinely concerned about my $ex life

Four of my favorite foods:
Hummus
Anything Mexican Chocolate
Stouffers Mac n Cheese
Ripe, creamy cheese

Four places I would rather be right now:
Seattle WA
Kuaii HI
Anywhere in Europe
Any warm beach, under an umbrella, with a cabana boy catering to my every need

Four things I am looking forward to this year:
My 2yo starting Preschool
A debilitating snowstorm (as long as we are all safe at home when it happens)
A democratic government
Swimming lessons (for my kids) where I don't have to get in the pool.

Four Shows that I watch:
The Office
The Amazing Race
America's Test kitchen
Any PBS Kids show

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Letter to my CSU Colorguard--year withheld

Note to readers--if you don't understand, don't worry.

Hi Ladies,

I went to the game today. I mean, I went to see the band and there were some guys dressed in tight pants running around the field during the interem. I thought I would share what I know of the current band/colorguard.

Pregame is pretty cool. The trombones still do the suicides and they are featured during pregame. The colorguard runs out with a huge CSU flag (about 50 x 30 feet) before the cheerleaders and those tight-pants guys. The bands still forms the "CSU", "RAMS" and now they form ram horns. Overall, I'm impressed.

The band now sits in the center of the student section (it's about time!). It has about 200 members now. The stadium still sucks the noise and hides it from the fans. And there is now a pit. Don't ask me what they do with the xylophones during a parade.

Two years ago, the colorguard was incredible. They had lots of tricks (tosses) and they incorporated a lot with the cheer and poms (the entire group was called "Auxillary"). It was great to see the level of the colorguard, but the cheer and poms were less than our day. The cheer have no men (I don't know why) which means no great stunts, and the poms are not the athletes they were when I tried out. Though they are still better athletes than I am currently.

The halftime shows since then have gone downhill. Last homecoming (2007), They did music from Wicked and some student dressed up as a witch and sang. The whole show smacked of early '90s high school band (not that I would know). This year was worse. There was no marching, no guard drill; it was "CSU Idol." The band played music for two idols to sing to and we were supposed to Text our vote. This was Homecoming. I was thrilled I spent $28.00 on the ticket. The tight-pants guys didn't even win. Lame.

Today's show was better because it was band day. A few HS bands came and the bands just parked and blowed but the guards had drill. No marching. And I haven't seen any tosses for a couple years. The uniforms are better though (doesn't "Jolly Green Giant Grope," "White Pilazzos," and "Gold Poufs" take you back?).

I heard that when Drum Insructor left (don't know if he quit or was let go) Wife left with him. Neither of them are in the Colorado HS band circuit. I'm not big with the alumni band thing. I would rather take my kids to the parade and tailgate with my husband. Let's face it, there isn't a whole lot for alumni Colorguard to do.

Anyway, thought you might like an update.

Oh, and in cold weather they wear these great stocking caps that are white, green and gold and say "CSU BAND" on them. I have asked (begged) repeatedly and no one will sell me one.

No, I don't want to knit one for myself. I want theirs.

Love,
Mama Goose

P.S. Where is Peggy Pompom?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Knitting

I've been slowly working on some fairly difficult knitting projects. One is lace on size zeros. One is a pullover on size threes with thirteen colors of yarn. I force myself to do one row a day on each project.

Yesterday I broke. I pulled out some fingering weight that was lurking in my stash, four-plied it (this brings it up to a bulky weight), and cast-on for a set of felted clogs.

It feels good to work on size 13 needles. I'm flying through yarn like it's chocolate and I've already finished one of them.

Maybe knitting with needles the width of pencil lead is what has ruined my mojo.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How Weird is This?

When my college friend got in touch with me last week, I replied, with unabashed excitement, and said all I needed was to get in contact with another fellow member of the colorguard and my reunion would be complete.

Guess what? That person emailed me tonight.

Now if only I could win the lottery without buying a ticket...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Arrg!

I am having problems with technology.

After a few years of hard use, I decided to get a new desktop computer. I figured I would rather pay for memory and processor speed than portability.

The router was stashed away.

Now we have a Wii, and there are some cool features that benefit from an internet connection.

We can't get the router to work. We lost the CD that came with it. The website of our product is hard to navigate. We thought we made contact but they gave us a password to login to a place we can't find. Best Buy said we don't need software, we can set it up ourselves. Yeah right.

Here's the deal. All the lights do what they are supposed to do, but the desktop will not read the connection (which comes through wires, not a signal). The laptop sees the signal but won't connect and when I go to 192.168.1.1, I can login, but it claims there is no internet connection.

All I want is a set-up CD for a NetGear Router. The rangemax WPN824 v2.

It's all I want. It's all we asked for. Can anyone help?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Businessman

I envy women who have geek husbands. They will never have "issues" with their routers. They will never need to worry about internet speed, memory, or processers. They will have cool gadgets for thier websites and the latest in time-sucking video games.


I envy women who have handyman husbands. They will never have dripping faucets, dripping oil, or wires dripping from their ceilings (for months at a time). They will never need to worry about car repairs, home repairs or hiring contractors. They will have beautiful bathrooms, kitchens, and garages.

I married a businessman. I pay for car repairs, oil changes, new computers and "upgrades." I do most home repairs and renovations myself. I have ceiling fixtures that are not attached to the ceiling, routers that refuse to do their job, and a car that is 1500 miles overdue for an oil change.


I have a man who writes up business models based on every single item I have ever made. He finds genius in advertising during Saturday morning cartoons. He plays any and all games strategically and agressively.


He also lets me have one evening a week all to myself (we call it Boys' Night Out). He runs a hot bath for me when I have had too much "boyhood." He pretends to hate my cat (but secretly likes him). He cooks meals when necessary. He never questions purchases made from yarn, fabric, or craft stores.


And overall, I'm glad he's around. His new name is:

The Businessman

And if you're wondering where the "humor" comes in. Well, here you go. Just kick the kids out of the room for a couple minutes. If you're not laughing, stay married a little longer, it'll come.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Healthy Strategies

A friend has just blogged about changing up her diet for the better. She asked for suggestions. Rather than fill her comment section, I'll just post here.

I feel I should warn my loyal following that I do not resemble a fit person by any means. My diet is 50% meticulous (only whole grains, no hydrogenated fat or HF corn syrup), 40% healthy (few processed foods, lots of veggies, low cholesterol), and 10% Ben and Jerry's, chocolate, and treats I bake. That 10% is actually a lot of calories. If I could give them up, I would be a lean, mean mama.

They need rehab centers for chocolate. And cheese. I guess I could also run more.

Anyway:
  • I find the easiest thing to do is go through your cabinets/pantry at least quarterly and throw out EVERYTHING you don't want in your diet anymore. It's amazing how quickly it accumulates--like every time DH goes into a grocery store alone.
  • I've learned to make quick salad dressings from scratch. 3 or less:1 oil:acid. Add flavorings as desired.
  • If you're a popcorn person you can pop regular old popcorn in a brown paper bag in the microwave--wait until the popping slows, just like "normal" microwave popcorn. Add flavor after you pop it if desired.
  • When you cook things that take time and/or effort--like garbazo beans at altitude (three days in a crockpot!!!*) make double or triple batches and freeze it in individual portions. You can make cereal and salads with grains and beans are very versatile.
  • The novelty of cooking new recipes wears off quickly. Find two or three recipes you always fall back on and update them. This was the first thing I did when I became vegetarian. I still have comfort foods, they're simply updated.

So I hope these help. None are terribly original but they all work for me.

And maybe someone can give me suggestions about chocolate.

*Yes, I know. I got a pressure cooker after that. I still recommend double batches.

Experiment in the Kitchen

My mom was watching some foodie channel that I don't get and she called me to tell me about a cool trick she saw. A chef (and if I knew who it was I would totally link back to him) made a "Cole" slaw but used raw squash instead of cabbage.

Anything that involves squash is fair game for me (and induces eye-rolls in my family). I loved the idea of using the texture of raw sqaush.

Here's my riff on the theme.

2 apples, grated (keep the peel on for extra fiber)
1 raw acorn squash, peeled and grated
3T cider vinegar
2 cloves, 1 cardamom pod, 1 peppercorn, 1 allspice
2 t cinnamon
about 2 cups plain yogurt
brown sugar
  1. Put grated squash and apple in a bowl.
  2. In a microwave-safe cup, microwave the vinegar and whole spices. Let steep as long as you can (I was in a rush and it was maybe five minutes. My next batch is steeping right now)
  3. Remove the spices. Stir in Cinnamon. Add it and the yogurt (start with half the yogurt) to the slaw. Add enough yogurt to make it creamy enough for you.
  4. Add brown sugar to taste (I used a couple Ts)

Watch in amazement as 5yo munches it down for his snack.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Birthday Plans

I wish to have a contest among my readers. Consider it a Birthday present to me.

I would like a better nickname for my DH. DH is just so generic.

Rules:
  • It has to be clean (I know what you're thinking LEI)
  • It may not be smarmy
  • Humor and creativity are encouraged

Leave a comment. Sorry no prizes, except a link to your website/blog if applicable.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Collection

A dear friend from high school
A dear friend from college
A dear friend in Seattle

They all have the same name with different spellings.

My DH's BF in college
His BF in Seattle
His BF in Ft Collins

All four letter words names.

We have always been people who would rather have one or two good, strong friendships than several "buddies." This might explain things.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Why I Do It

When I first started blogging, two years ago, (happy blogiversary) my intention was to keep in touch with various friends I have around the country. Okay, so it was one friend (Hi CDB!) but now I have a loyal following of about five people (Hi mom!). Don't get me wrong. If you find me interesting I'm glad to write for you. But I write to a specific audience so don't feel bad if you don't get the joke.

Yesterday I got a message from a friend I have been trying to find for ten years. I knew she had probably changed her last name. I knew that she, like me, would probably be fairly transient after college. But I wanted to find her. I searched her through my alumni association. I Googled her. I kept looking for her name in Amazon (she wanted to illustrate/write children's books).

And she found me.

I'm not convinced all this technology is the best thing our society has created. But sometimes it has its perks.

Halloween

We all dress up in this house. Might as well right? This year my oldest wanted to be a robot. My youngest wanted to be a happy pumpkin (strange request for a boy's boy but I think 'Halloween' means 'Pumpkin" to him.
Of course I made the costumes. Do you know me at all?
I was a peacock again this year. I love this costume. It's simple, effective, and there are no parts I have to carry around and lose. I think I may be a peacock again next year. I keep thinking about using real feathers though.

DH also duplicated. He was Uncle Sam again. No pictures though (unless you got our X-mas card five years ago). When he got home he immediately removed the realistic eyebrows, sideburns and goatee I glued on him. They looked great while they were on though.

Daring Bakers-October

Once again, I managed to do my challenge early in October, but I forgot to blog about it.

Our recipe this month was hand-tossed pizzas. I make pizza all the time. But I've never tossed it.
Turns out, the tossing isn't as scary as I thought it would be. Than again:

Oops. But seriously, I have finally found a use for all those skills I learned in Marching Band Colorguard (Hi Kerrie BTW).
Anyway, the other aspect of the challenge was to have a couple toppings. I am all about creative pizza. But I had a few mouths to feed this day:
Applesauce and cinnamon-The kids love this. If I wasn't saving my apples for caramel apples, I would have used them. I probably would have put caramel on the pizza too.
Olive oil, fresh tomato, fresh mozzarella, Fleur de Sel (fancy sea salt). This would have been my favorite, but I'm trying to consume less dairy.
Hummus, Spinach, roasted garlic. My mom and I were the only ones who tried this. It was pretty good.
You can find the Pizza crust recipe for DB here along with the bittersweet story of why we covered ourselves with falling dough. Generally, pizza dough is easy to riff, but the story deserves to be read.
Had it not been raining this day, I would have wowed everyone by slapping the crust right on the grill and grilling the pizza. We do this all Summer. It's fairly easy as long as you can control your grill's temp. You simply slap the dough right on the grill (lowest heat) let it set up (about 10-20 seconds), flip it, add toppings, and remove before after the cheese is melted but before it burns.
There is a rumor that obsene amounts of sugar will be in November's challenge.
Shhhhh.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sick Sick Sick

I just popped into Ravelry for the first time in a couple weeks. I did some updating to my project list and imagine my shock when I discovered I only have seven projects in progress (there are 10 in hibernation but I put those there for a reason).

Only seven.

This is a record. Or a disease.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hello Fellow Golddiggers!

I was at a wedding this past weekend for a friend of mine from forever ago--I've known her since kindergarten.

A few other classmates were there as well. I refused to pour them wine until we exchanged contact info.

So, if any of you are fellow Golddiggers (alas, that is my high school mascot) welcome to my blog! I promise not to disclose any transgressions that may have occurred due to an open bar.

Oh wait...that was my husband.

They Grow So Fast

I had mentioned previously that I can do everything I do because my kiddos take a nap.

So of course, about thirty seconds after posting my secret, my 5yo asked if he needed to take a nap. I knew this was coming. He hasn't needed a nap for a year now, but he still took one without complaint.

So I struck a bargain. If he cleans his room, makes his bed, puts away his laundry, and helps clean the wreckroom, he may skip his nap.

He has kept his end of the deal. My workload is lighter. But...

...I don't get to create as much.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where's the Knitting?

I have been in denial for the past few weeks and I fear I must face the truth.

Knitting has not been very inspiring lately.

The new Fall magazines have come out and I have seen nothing I want to tackle. My UFO's are in pathetic little piles around my house. When I pack up for my SnB, the pleasure of deciding which project gets to come with me is gone.

But the most worrisome symptom was having two days in a row of dreary, bleak, gray weather (one of those days was spent almost entirely in bed while DH wrangled children) and I had no desire to knit.

I trace it back to August. A few things happened. I overdosed on knitting during the Olympics, I finished My Sewing Room, and I started working out again.

And I lost my knitting mojo.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Approaching the Challenge

I'm not supposed to post my Daring Baker's Challenge until the end of the month. Until then should be a secret. And it will be.

Knowing that in my heart I have been a Daring Baker for years, I knew that I would come across some recipes that I had made before.

Like this month. This month our challenge is something I make at least monthly--weekly during the Summer--but there is a twist, a flip, and a spin that I don't normally apply.

And it should be quite entertaining footage for all involved.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Infestation

Over the course of the week. Every member of my little family (including I) has battled the stomach flu.

Today, it's the washing machine's turn.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Thrill of the Week

I was at my local Library this week and they installed a new self-checkout system. They've always had a system that was easy: You put your card on the scanner, you scanned your books one at a time, you removed your card. Done.

Now you scan your card. You place your entire pile of books on the table. Done. The process takes less than two seconds.

I was so tickled by how cool this was that I realized...

...I must be the most boring person in the world. Seriously. The most exciting thing to happen this week was I checked out my books in two seconds instead of thirty?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Can it Hurt?

I'm toying with the idea of opening a Etsy Store.

For now, it's just a place I could sell a couple whimsies and anything else I come up with. Those of you who have known me know that this could be a realistic endeavor.

My LYS owner also told me she could try selling some of my stuff and would even take some to a convention this weekend to get some feedback.

Don't tell my husband, or he will spend the weekend writing up a business plan.

BTW, it's my anniversary today. Nine years with DH!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers-September

Has this ever happened to you? You know you have something due and you choose this one time not to procrastinate and actually finish with lots and lots of time to spare, only to turn it in late.

I woke p this morning to discover my DB challenge is due today (granted it's a loose guideline but...).

This month's challenge was Lavash. An Armenian style cracker. A secondary challenge involved an accompaniment that was vegan/gluten free. As I spent six weeks last Spring teaching myself how to bake bread, but never made crackers, I went into this one with confidence.

The ingredients: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5



I cheat and use my Kitchenaid Mixer to knead the dough. I just turn it on and leave it until the dough is ready--usually about 10-12 minutes.



I rolled the crakers out to fit into my cookie sheet and knew they would be too thick. I'm okay with that.



I dusted them with Fleur de Sel and rosemary. They made a wonderful, thin, flatbread. A little longer in the oven might have crisped them, but my family had no problem polishing off the batch.



I served these with a Cuban inspired black-bean stew (ad lib from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian) and rice. The stew recipe escapes me but I know it was vegan. Cooked blackbeans, onion, green chiles, carrot, seasonings. The kids ate the crakers and rice.

What I learned:
  • I had never made crackers before. And I must admit I still haven't.
  • There was a gluten free version of this recipe. I had no desire to try it.
  • Given my past experiences with bread, these were relatively easy. I might consider making crackers more often (but, then, who am I kidding?)
RECIPE - Recipe Reference: The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

  • 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
  • 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
  • 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
  • 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
  • 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
  • Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings
  1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.
  2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).
  4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).
  7. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Just Another Typical Naptime

I often get asked where I find the time to create. Answer: Naptime!

Today, during naptime, I finished a top (I just had to hem it--I didn't actually sew the whole thing today).

I'm wearing it to a wedding in October. And a dinner tonight with the extended in-laws.
But wait...What's that crawling on my shirt?
Meet Penelope. A quick whimsy I made when I decided I wanted a pin for the top when I wear it tonight. She helps me keep my sense of humor, i.e. like right now when I wish I was capable of taking a decent picture. Or later when I have dinner with the extended in-laws.
And that's what I do with my sparetime.
Instead of cleaning.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bat Cave to Cave of Wonders

Wreck room before:









Please note that I have nothing against bats. Or caves. However, I am not a bat and I am comfortable with the idea that my ancestors left their caves and started building their homes to suit.



Wreckroom after:
Light walls, floors are visible.


Dark paneling has been painted. TV is across from Treadmill.


The "Bar." I think I'll skirt the counter so I don't have to look at the plumbing.


Nesting is pretty much complete. Let the hibernation begin!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Politics

I don't like discussing politics. I was raised in a bipartisan home. My father argues with everyone, even if they agree with him. And my mom learned silence years ago.

But I have to say something.

Senator Palin was a brilliant move by the Republicans. McCain has taken a step back and is letting her do all the work. She seems just about perfect. Just rememeber...

...We are voting for the next president. Even if we vote for her, she still won't be Commander in Chief (unless something happens to McCain of course). I know there is a push to help Americans learn more about her (ergo the excessive presstime) but, again, do we want a VP we knew nothing about until 4 months before she took office?

And more importantly, where's McCain?

Just saying.

Constitution Day

My 5yo knows that on school days his job is to get dressed and brush his teeth before he goes downstairs to start his breakfast grazing. This gives me a couple extra minutes of sleep and I don't deal with the out-the-door-scramble later.

Today is Constitution Day. His school has requested all children wear red, white and blue. When I got downstairs I saw my son was wearing blue shorts with white stripes, and a red shirt. I praised him for remembering the day.

He pointed out the logo on his shirt has a little bit of yellow in it.

Infer what you will.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Tide is Shifting

Somehow, the Ravelympics inspired me to finish five sweaters in 30 days.

Granted, three of them have been hanging out for a while (years) but two of them were completed start to finish.

So as I turn over my Summer wardrobe (as I promised) I will discover that I have plenty of sweaters. Hats for the kiddos is the next order of business, and then maybe mittens.

But then what? How many stunning sweaters does a girl need?

So, I realized My Sewing Room (still can't help but capitalize that) should maybe get some use. I have a quilt, a duvet cover, other household projects in line. I also want a handbag, some nice fitting pants (oh what I wouldn't give for nice fitting pants), maybe some trendy little tops (as opposed to the cotton Ts I'm normally seen in) and a crafty project or two. . .or five.

And my knitting will be reserved for the car, the movie theater, and my SnB.

At least until the next VK comes in.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Makes Me Smile--Without Laughlines

5yo: Clive (our cat) was nine in that picture, now he's ten.
Me: Yes, and soon he will be eleven.
5yo: Why is Clive older than you, me and 2yo?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers-August


Due to a slight snafu with email, I did not get my first DB Recipe until later in the month. Rather than deal with more emails and explainations and excuses and delaying my membership by a month, I just baked.

And then I was done and remembered DH had the camera in another state. I did my best to preserve the remains but here is what was left after three days:

I love how this little creampuff looks like it's sticking it's tongue out at me.
The recipe was actually for Eclairs. I made some of those too, but they didn't make it to picture day. I kept a chocolate filling, but omitted the glaze. I also decided to veganize my filling (though my cream puffs were not vegan). I used a chocolate mousse recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Having a feti$h for Mexican chocolate lately, I tossed some cinnamon, nutmeg and chile powder in my filling--and I am shocked quickly I seem to be moving through chile powder and cinnamon.
I will also take this moment to tell you that I joined DB to challange myself. I'm happy to blog my adventure and post pictures, but I am not a photographer.
What I learned:
  • I had never made pâte à choux before. It wasn't hard.
  • My mom used to make cream puffs shaped like swans. I may have to pull out those instructions.
Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds bypositioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets withwaxed or parchment paper.
2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.
3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip thehandle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in theoven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continuebaking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total bakingtime should be approximately 20 minutes.
Assembling the éclairs:
• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)
1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside thebottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.
2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops ofthe éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill thebottoms with the pastry cream.
3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottomswith enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry creamand wriggle gently to settle them.
Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff DoughRecipe
from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour• 5 large eggs, at room temperature1)
In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to theboil.
2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to mediumand start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together veryquickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. Youneed to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the doughwill be very soft and smooth.
3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using yourhandmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again donot worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time youhave added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted itshould fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.
Chocolate Pastry Cream Recipe
from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé
• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.
2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.
4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.
5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mars vs Venus

Mid June:
Me: I think I want that corner unit in the basement to come upstairs.
DH: Why?

Late June:
DH: A coworker is switching apartments and needs help moving.

Early July:
Me: I want to bring up that corner unit. I need help though.
DH: (without moving) mm hmm

Mid July:
DH: My buddy needs help moving some furniture so they can refinish their floors.

Three Days Later:
DH: Buddy needs my help moving the furniture back.

Late July:
Me (to mother): I'm going to move this unit upstairs.
Mom: That would be perfect!

DH: I haven't lifted weights for a week! I need a workout.
Me: I need your help moving that corner unit.
DH: I mean a real workout. So why do you want to move it again?

This Week:
DH: Some coworkers had a disaster with their closing and they need help moving their stuff into storage tonight.
Me: ?!?
DH: What?
Me: I don't mind you helping. But I need you to promise you'll help me move that corner unit tonight.
DH: Okay, I'll do it when I get home. (In his head: Why does she seem slightly irrational? Must be That Time.)

Last Night:
Me: Look downstairs! I assembled five shelving units, picked all the toys up off the floor and moved the (250 lb)treadmill.
DH: Why didn't you ask me? I would have helped to move all that stuff.
Me (In my head): Because I don't think we'll still living here in 2015.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The WreckRoom

The gateway to My Sewing Room is an area the former owner set up for bachelor entertaining--perfect for a cheap kegger. There's a sink, and a space for a fridge, wood paneling, and a door that leads out to a patio area. He offered to install the rest of the neon (I kid you not!) and we declined.

We use it a playroom/gym. This is where all toys live when we have to clean and it's where I workout, when I workout.

I realized it was also a disaster area this week. The kiddos have been leaving toys in My Sewing Room because they are playing in it. I sweep all of it out and it comes right back in. I kept asking why until I realized:

They can't play in the playroom because it sucks.

Thus, we move on to the next project--Operation WreckRoom.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

End of Summer

Summer is drawing to a close. My kiddo starts kindergarten this week.

Overall, it was a successful summer:
  • No one got a sunburn (except DH, while he was telling sea-level visitors to put on tons of sunscreen)
  • No one got heatstroke
  • No emergency room visits

We also managed to find all the water features in the area and I got a healthy dose of Olympic coverage. Enough to tide me over for 18 months.

Now my favorite season starts.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Photo Finish and Why Do the Gods Hate Me?

Here is my Ravelympic FO. I love it. It fits nicely. I think it looks nice on me (perhaps not with a green polo) and I intend to wear it a lot this winter.



I was on such a high that I decided to take the opportunity to finish some dusty UFOs that had been lurking in the shadows and came to light while shoveling out my sewing room. I inserted a zipper, sewed some seams, knit a couple gussets for sleeves that were way too skinny for normal women, much less me.

Then I decided my mom had had enough of a head start on her race sweater. I started mine. It's a beauty from VK Fall 2008 that has a voluptuous cable traveling up the back and hood and up the sleeves. This sweater is luscious.

I started the sleeve first because I hate sleeves, well I hate the necessity of knitting two sleeves. I was knitting beautifully and the thing was flying off my needles. No sooner had I thought "Could I finish two garments by the end of the Olympics" when the knitting God(dess)--what is her name?--struck.

The cable is 22 rows, which are repeated as needed. I was supposed to knit 19.5 inches and end on row 1. My sleeve measured about 22 inches on row 1. I would have carried on but that little voice in my head kept nagging. I realized I had altered the cable to fit in an 18 row repeat. Which meant I had done one more repeat than necessary, and had really botched up the whole thing. Don't give me suggestions (unless it involves hard liquor or moments of silence)--It's too late:



I ripped out the cable (not the entire sleeve) and I am reknitting.


My only consolation is that my mom had to restart her sleeve 4 times.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Meddle Ceremony will be Delayed

I finished my Ravelympic Vest. It has been blocked and the ends are woven in. It has been gently folded and is sitting nicely with the other knitwear in my closet.

But you'll just have to trust me. It seems DH has taken my camera on a business trip. Talk about a gold meddle (mispelling intended).

A formal protest has been filed with the KOC (Knitting Olympic Committee) who will review the situation before awarding medals. I'm sure it will involve a photo finish.

Let's hope I pass the drug test.

School Shopping

Among the numerous supplies needed to send a Kindergartner off into the world:

4 boxes of 24 crayons
1 box of tissues

Shouldn't this be the other way around? I know my child won't go through four boxes of crayons in a year. He hasn't gone through one box in five years. But Tissue? Absolutely.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Out of the Mouths...

I have been joking to a few people about how much fun I have watching the Olympics--especially if the sport might exhibit Speedo-slippage.

I turned on the Olympics yesterday morning and I was explaining how the swim relays work to my kids. Then NBC did another article on Mr Phelps.

5yo: Is that the Slippo-speedage? He's fast.

Hmm..there are worse nicknames a swimmer could have.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Environmental Refugees--No Vacancy

Dear mice,

I am sorry you chose my basement as your refuge. I understand the the rain has likely flooded your usual homes and insurance deductibles are a bitch. Nothing sounds sweeter to a soggy mouse refugee camp that warm, dry, Mason de Mountain Mama.

But the cat was here first. It's nothing personal. If I were your size he would attack me too. It's just his way. I did my best to 'catch and release' you into the wild areas were you belong. But by kitty-catch number four, it was too dark and the kitty needs his exercise. And the extra nutrition.

And please don't pull the "abandoned baby" stunt again. It's just too cruel for all involved.

Sincerely,
the management

Olympic Knitting Day 8

Who wouldn't want to knit when the weather looks like this?



I woke up and saw this beautiful drizzle and drank hot tea out on the deck for a couple minutes. Then I packed the kids up and took them to starbucks for hot chocolate (it's been so long since we've had hot chocolate) and went to the craft store for a rainy day project--iron-on transfers and t-shirts. Puddle jumping will be the order of the afternoon.
And I knit:


This is right before the armhole shaping. This means I suddenly have rows that are 40 stitches shorter and they keep decreasing. What is it about armhole shaping that gives me more mojo? My rows are shorter, but that means the futzy end-weaving comes more frequently. Anyway, I am cruising along. At this rate I will be on the neck and arm bands by Monday.
Barring disaster.

Favorite Things Friday: Olympic Moments

My favorite Olympic Moments:



The Men's 400 Relay That last leg is amazing. You can see the adrenaline burst out of those men as they cheer their victory. Mr. Phelps' swimsuit riding a little low on the hips is nice too.

Whitewater Kayaking Finals This is the Olympics at their finest. A man representing a tiny country I couldn't find on a map wins a medal. He is so excited he breaks his paddle and is still jumping around with excitement during the medal ceremony. Who wouldn't want to cheer for Togo after that?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Because Knitting Doesn't Cause Enough Tears

My California connection has just informed me that Trader Joe's has discontinued vanilla paste.

If you see a forlorn mom sitting at Starbucks wearing black and draping half a fair-isle vest over her head like a shroud while jabbing knitting needles through her recipe files you will understand completely I'm sure. Dark chocolate and mochas are always appreciated at a time like this.

Unreasonable Marriage Vows

Goal: Fifteen rows a day. I know I am capable. The real question is if I can be monogamous (to the project--as if!) until the project is finished.

Day 1: Cast-on. Rib (corregated ribbing no less) 17 of 23 rows. Cheer! This will be easy.
Day 2: Finish ribbing and started fair isle. Decide to incorporate Olympic Rings in the design because that would make it harder drive me crazy teach me a lesson look nice.
Day 3: Knit 23 rows but frogged 8. Curse Olympic rings in fair-isle knitting.
Day 4: Spend day at amusement park. Knit seven rows then fall asleep and miss Men's Gymnastics Bronze.
Day 5: Knit 12 rows. Take project to SnB and cruise through 3 rows. Realize I made a mistake and have to frog them. Teach SnB new swearwords. While falling asleep that night remember I am a day behind.
Day 6: Knit 16 rows. Am sick of my colors. The pile of laundry looks big. Decide I should do laundry and maybe cook a fancy, cuban-style dinner. And go out with my family for the evening.
Day 7: Project is definately too heavy. I might get carpal tunnel if I continue to torture myself this way. Fantasize about next project. 5yo requests a new sweater and I seriously consider entertaining request. I am halfway to my car keys when I check myself. Lose count of rows.

Ten more days!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lack of Dedication

We took the opportunity of having a teenager in the house (and grandparents who are retired) to go to Elitch Gardens.

I haven't been to an amusement park for a while and it was fun. Lots of fun.

However...

I was only able to knit seven of my fifteen Olympic rows last night. I thought I'd be okay but I fell asleep while watching the Olympics. I missed the Gymnast's Bronze too. Not sure which causes more anguish.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ravelympics

Forgive my terseness. It's nothing personal.
Status Sunday morning:
The reason I ripped out about six rows on Saturday:
Worth it though, don't you think?

Dear Jane Squares




Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fanfare

You must forgive my absence.

The Olympics are on. Twice a year I am glued to the television. If this was the only television I watched I would be happy. It pretty much is the only TV I watch.

I also have some guests in town for a few days. Luckily they're easygoing. I am getting a glimpse into the future because one is a strapping gentleman of 14. The first thing he did was set up camp in the kitchen. I am going to entertain myself while he performs the much needed chore of eating all my food cleaning out my kitchen and pantry.

I am also doing a Ravelympics project--cast on during the opening ceremonies, be done by the closing. I'm doing a fair-isle vest and it's enough of a challenge that I can complete it in 17 days without obscenely neglecting my children.

But I fear I may obscenely be neglecting my blog. When I think about it, I'll post pictures of my Knitting.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Rumors, Heresay, Bunk

There is a rumor circulating that someone went to the Colorado Speedway to watch the races. The claim is that this particular person was knitting and eating a slice of Filbert Gateau while watching race cars crash and smelling exhaust.

You can't pin this on me. Would I do such classy pursuits as knitting with good wool and dining on European cakes at such a lowbrow locale?

I plead not guilty.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Whipping, Beating, and other Foodie Pastimes

One thing I noticed about the DB challenge were the numerous "DO NOT OVERMIX/BEAT/BLEND. Wise words to be sure, but I noticed a number of people having problems with the buttercream.

You probably underbeat.

I did an experiment a few months ago because I had some extra cream and thought it would be fun to make butter with the kids. I wanted to see how long it took to overwhip the cream. I whipped for about 15 minutes before I got butter. The cream stayed in a usable consistency for about 8 minutes. This is good to know, as before I was so scared of overwhipping my cream that I usually had more of a puddle than a dollop.

I have never beaten eggwhites so long that they collapse, but it seems a worthwhile experiment. Next time I make hollandaise, I may do just that. Then I'll have a handle on how long soft peaks are soft, stiff peaks are stiff and when destruction is eminent

Anyway, you cooks out there might want to try the same thing just to watch the changes that occur. You may find it takes longer to overbeat than you thought.

And your buttercream might be more successful.
 
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