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,, and There was an optional recipe for vanilla caramels.

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (, as published on Bay Area Bites (

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... 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.


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 BF in Washington
Several people from Nigeria
Even more people genuinely concerned about my $ex life

Four of my favorite foods:
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.

Mama Goose

P.S. Where is Peggy Pompom?

Thursday, November 13, 2008


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


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, 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.

  • 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.

  • 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


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.


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.
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