Friday, February 26, 2010

Is Strawberry spelled T-E-A?

Doodlebug is learning to read, but I am NOT making it easy. I'm certainly not making it intentionally difficult. Quite the contrary. I try to help and encourage him as he learns and he's doing very well. But he noticed something odd the other day and was confused. First, some background: as most of you probably know, I like to bake. And therefore I have a canister set. A nice big canister for flour that holds a 5-lb bag and another nice big one for sugar that holds a 5-lb bag. And for whatever reason, canister sets often come with 4 canisters, one for flour, one for sugar, one for coffee and one for tea.

And you may not know this, but I am not a big coffee drinker. Neither is the hubby. We almost never make coffee at home and when we do it's when we have company over. And God help them if I make it! I know nothing about making coffee and when I attempt it I am sure it either comes out way way way too strong, or way way way too weak. Since I don't know how to make it and rarely drink it, I just follow the directions on the bag/can and hope for the best.  (So be careful if I ever offer you coffee!) Whenever possible I ask someone else to make it.

We are also not big tea drinkers. Occasionally we'll have a cup - some oolong or regular ol' Lipton or mint, but not very often. So, maybe you can see where this is going - we have two extra canisters, the coffee one and the tea one, but no need to put coffee or tea in them. But I can't split up the set! Or worse, leave two empty!  What's a Mom to do? Well, use if for something else of course! And with three ducklings in the house, two of whom like chocolate milk and one of whom likes strawberry milk, what better way to use the extra canisters than for chocolate milk powder and strawberry milk powder. So, the coffee canister has chocolate milk powder and the tea canister has strawberry milk powder.

So as I was making Doodlebug some strawberry milk the other day we had this conversation:

Doodlebug: "Mom, how do you spell strawberry?"
Me: "S-T-R-A-W-B-E-R-R-Y, why?"
Doodlebug: "They spelled it wrong! It says T-E-A!"

He looked very confused. So then I had to explain how normal people actually use the T-E-A one for tea and not for strawberry milk powder and the C-O-F-F-E-E one for coffee. Surely I can't be the only one, right? Right?


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Adventures of Mister Sinister : Tentative Tentacles

Did you know that one of my snails laid several clutches of eggs? And did you know that some of them hatched? I'm not quite able to get an accurate count, but I've counted up to 14 of the little guys and I'm sure I missed some. And just what do all those snails do in the tank all night long? Continue reading and find out.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

The fuchsia coral glowed softly in the tank. Several guppies swam lazily back and forth. But all wasn't as serene as usual. Why? Because 34 of Mister Sinister's 83 offspring inherited many of Mister Sinister's traits. Namely, they inherited his sense of adventure. It was only a few days ago when the little ones hatched. But it didn't take long for these 34 to exhaust the possibilities of the tank. It was only so big. There were only so many corners and plants and creatures to explore. And now, they were ready for adventure.

As the 34 little ones circled the tank restlessly and the other 49 hid contentedly under the coral and leaves and in dark corners, Mister Sinister peered through the glass. He saw no movement. The coast was clear. He slid silently up the side of the glass. 34 adventurous offspring followed at his heel. The remaining 49 stayed behind, watching silently, eyestalks quivering. Mister Sinister cracked open the cover, pushing with his shell and peered around the dimly lit room. The coast was still clear. He slid to the top, holding the cover open and gestured with his tentacles to the little ones. The scurried through the opening and down the side of the tank. When the last of the 34 tiny shells was through, he slipped out from underneath and followed down the side of the tank.

He slid quickly to the front of the queue and led them all down to the floor. He turned his eye stalks to the right, toward the television, then quickly away. No TV tonight. He turned left instead, under the kitchen table and across the kitchen. All the little ones followed. In front of the pantry he paused, considering, then continued. No chips tonight either. He continued into the next room, eye stalks scanning the room.

A snuffle and slight stirring from the far corner caught his attention. He stopped, tentacles quivering, then he continued forward. At the back of the room he slid up the side of a table, pausing to peer behind him. 34 tiny little shells, reflecting the faint light of a night light followed behind. He reached the top of the table and found what appeared to be a tank. A large tank with wire sides. His tentacles explored the surface, then he slid through the wire grate and onto the newspaper within. He turned his eyestalks down and scanned the page. Weather. Local weather from last week. Nothing interesting.

Suddenly, he was pushed from the side. He pulled his tentacles in and flexed his foot, grabbing onto the newspaper to keep from tipping. A flash of the television show he had seen recently flashed through his thoughts. Was he being eaten by a snake? Then he felt a light touch on his shell, a whispery tickle running over it. He popped his eyestalks out from his shell for a look. Above a large furry nose, two bright black eyes regarded him. Long thin whiskers twitched and he giggled, letting go of the newspaper and sliding into the tank a bit further to let the little ones in. All 34 little ones crowded in in front of him in a tight group and 68 tiny eye stalks gazed up in wonder at the animal before them. The creature made a soft squeak and a second one stepped out of the darkness, all fur and whiskers and bright eyes.

As one, all 68 tiny eye stalks snapped into 34 trembling shells. Mister Sinister slid to the front of the pack and reached out a tenative tentacle. The first guinea pig stretched out its nose, whiskers quivering and sniffed. Mister Sinister ran his tentacle along a whisker and the guinea pig squeaked softly. One by one, the little ones sent out eye stalks and tentacles, then slowly approached. Both animals remained still, sqeaking softly. One tiny snail slid up to the front and reached up with a grasping tentacle, curling it around a whisker. Then using its foot for leverage, it swung up onto the whisker, traveled the length of it and slid up and over the large nose and between the bright eyes. It perched on top, waving its tentacles triumphantly. At that, the remaining 33 did the same, swarming gleefully over the guinea pigs as they softly squeaked encouragement. Mister Sinister watched, swaying his tentacles back and forth.

A little one crawled down the furry creature's face and across a nostril. The guinea pig sniffled. She snuffled. She sneezed. Tiny snails flew in all directions. Mister Sinister laughed a silent snail laugh and set off to round up the little ones. It was time to get back. Within minutes, all the little ones were gathered together and Mister Sinister led them silently back to the tank. As they slid from one room to the next, they all turned and waved their tentacles. Fuzzy whiskery noses wiggled in return.

Then Mister Sinister and his little ones slid across the floor to the tank and up the side. Mister Sinister held the door open and they all dropped in and floated to the bottom like grains of sand. As they reached the bottom, 49 little snails slid over and gathered in a group around the 34, eye stalks open wide and shining, ready to hear about the adventures.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Calvin & Hobbes Cookies Part 5 - Those Poor Snowmen!

This is part 5 in my series of the recreation of various Calvin & Hobbes comics in cookie form.
In this comic we see terrible things happening to several snowmen - hanging, shot with a cannon and being buried alive. This is the original comic here. Usually I have been doing just the last frame of the comic, or part of the last frame. This time I recreated three frames of the comic.

Here is the work in progress. Cookies are cutout, baked, and outlined in black frosting:

And since this involved Calvin in the third frame, I got to use some additional colors this time. (This particular comic is black and white, but I looked at some full-color comics with Calvin and chose my colors based on what he was wearing there).

Here’s the first frame. That canon shot a canon ball straight through him!

And the second frame:

And the last. Unfortunately, Calvin didn’t come out great. His nose is way way way too big.

Oh those poor snowmen!

It was nice to get to use a little more color in this one. Once I'm done with the snowmen series I think I'll move on to something a little more colorful. Calvin, Hobbes, springtime, outdoors, who knows? Time to peruse through my Calvin and Hobbes books for ideas. But until I get to that point, there are several more Snowmen scenes to come. Stay tuned!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Random Quote of the Day

Most people see what is, and never see what can be.
-- Albert Einstein


Thursday, February 18, 2010

This Stuff Never Works!

Poor little Doodlebug had a cold. He had a dry cough that just wouldn't quit. I took him upstairs to get him some cough syrup, hoping to quiet the cough a little bit. Immediately after swallowing the cough syrup, he coughed.

"This stuff never works!" he yelled.

I tried to explain that it takes a few minutes to get into his system and start working. He was having none of it!
He then spent the next 15 minutes lamenting the failures of modern medicine and complaining bitterly about the absolute uselessness of cough syrup. He complained until he finally forgot about it because his coughing had stopped.

I didn't even bother to point out to him that it had stopped.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Should I Fart?

Kids are so much fun! The other day the boys and I were in the living room. Doodlebug was playing on the Wii and Snickers and I were watching. Snickers, for whatever reason, wanted to hide on Doodlebug so he wanted Doodlebug to leave the room for a minute so he could hide on him. This is the whispered conversation that ensued:

Snickers: Give Doodlebug a reason to leave the room.
Me: Like what?
Snickers: I don't know, just some reason for him to leave.
Me: Should I fart?
Snickers and I: {gales and gales of uproarious laughter}

The hubby gave us some funny looks, but we didn't think he'd appreciate the humor. We generally don't get into fart jokes much, but for some reason this struck both me and Snickers as extremely funny. Maybe we were tired. OK. Maybe I was tired. He's a little boy. Anything to do with farts is funny for a little boy.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Calvin & Hobbes Cookies Part 4 - Shrunken Heads

This is part 4 in my series of the recreation of various Calvin & Hobbes comics in cookie form.

This week’s Calvin and Hobbes recreation is one of Snicker’s favorites – a snowman in a safari hat with a pot of shrunken heads.  This is the original comic here.

When I started this I made the cookie shapes for several comics at once, and froze the ones I wasn’t yet ready to complete.  Unfortunately, some of them didn’t make it through the freezer very well and were cracked and broken when I took them out. Fortunately, I had made 3 of each cookie anticipating broken cookies, mishaps and minor disasters. That was a very good thing since several key cookies had broken.

Of course with broken cookies there is another advantage. I get to eat the broken ones! Yum! I sometimes end up with a lot of leftover cookies if I don’t need to use the duplicates, but hey, that’s OK. Nothing wrong with extra cookies!

So, here we are. This shows the cookie-recreation in progress – all outlined and waiting to be filled with white frosting. So tasty. So yummy. But no, I can’t eat them yet. Not until after I’m all done!

I wasn’t sure I would be able to get this comic to work with the cookies standing up like my previous recreations because one of the snowmen is holding another cookie. I actually put the stick-arms into the cookie, but it still isn’t strong enough to hold up another cookie. Not to mention how the heck would I balance it there. So, before trying anything that was likely to result in broken cookies, swearing and frosting smeared on the ceilings and walls, I laid them flat and tried it that way. Not bad, but not quite what I wanted.

But then I came up with an excellent solution. With some help from Snickers, some white thread and a lot of patience, we got it to work. The best photo came out somewhat blurry and since I was in too much of a hurry and the frosting wasn’t quite dry yet, when I stood them up to take the photos, there was some drippage. (I don’t care if that’s not a real word. It sounds good, so I’m using it!)

And here’s another shot, a little clearer:

Despite a few issues with balance and dripping, I think it came out pretty well.

And since some of you asked about the recipe I use, here it is:

Butter Cookies
1 ½ cups butter
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
½ cup heavy cream
4 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon vanilla
  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and mix until blended. Mix in heavy cream and vanilla. Add sifted flour and baking powder and stir until well blended. (I usually just dump in all the flour and then mix it with my hands because the dough is too stiff to use a mixer.)
  • Chill the dough for 2-4 hours.
  • (After removing it from the refrigerator, depending on how long you refrigerated it you may have to wait until it warms just a bit so you can roll and handle it.)
  • Roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thick and cut with cookie cutters.
  • Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.
  • Makes 8 ½ dozen cookies.

And for the frosting I just used 10x/confectioner’s sugar and water. Add the water slowly until it’s the consistency you want. You can also add a little vanilla or butter rum or lemon for flavor if you want. In this case I didn’t but it is nice with some vanilla. And of course, color it whatever colors you want. If you use liquid food color, keep in mind that will thin it somewhat as well.

I hope you like it. And, as before, stay tuned for more. I have at least four more snowman comic recreations to come, then I plan to tackle some featuring Calvin and Hobbes. I can’t wait to make a Hobbes cookie!


Monday, February 15, 2010

Redbirds - Attempt #2

About a month ago I posted my redbirds picture for the Creative Every Day challenge. I wasn't very happy with the way it turned out, so I decided to have another go at it.

This is my latest attempt:

I'm much happier with this second attempt. I think it's a little more balanced and overall I like the colors and textures better. I had a little problem scanning it which is why you can see a line down the middle. The line isn't on the actual piece of art. I probably could have fixed it with a couple of hours of messing with it, but I just didn't have the patience.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Random Quote of the Day

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. -Albert Camus 

A picture from a snowy day a few weeks back:

And the summer that is just waiting to happen again:


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Use Electronic Devices For Good, Not Evil

A recent conversation:

Sweet Pea: I want a cell phone. And an iPod.  
Me: What would you do with those?  
Sweet Pea: I would use them for good. Not evil.
Hmmm. Good answer, but no.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Did you ever notice how you spend as much time rearranging your supplies as you do using them? Well, maybe you don't, but I do. Maybe it's because I have so  much stuff jammed into such a small space. Or maybe it's the number of different things I'm interested in that I try to keep contained in one spot. In any case, I'm always rearranging it. This photo is from prior to my last rearranging.

I have two tables in my bedroom - a big table-like desk and a nice drafting table I got in college when I was taking art classes. I just rearranged it so the desk is in the corner with all of my supplies stacked on it, around it and under it with a rather small space for doing my scrapbooking and other crafting (with paper, rocks, paints, wire, cloth, etc). And facing it, with my chair in between is my fine art table/drafting table. It’s a bench type seat so I can spin from one table to other easily. My goal is to keep the drafting table cleared off so when I want to paint or draw, there is nothing stopping me. No supplies to rearrange, no need to try to make space to work, just a big open space where I can put down my paper, my water and paints and get to work.

It's been set up like for a couple of weeks now and so far so good. I have two pictures in progress and I actually completed one (a second go at my red birds – I’ll post it when I get a chance to scan it into the PC.)  My work will often sit half finished for days or weeks at a time, but that's OK. It's there and ready for me when I have a few minutes to work.

How do you organize your crafting/art spot?


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I made some chocolate cookies this weekend. I'm not going to post the recipe because, although they were good, they weren't great. Nothing to brag about. They came out the way they were supposed to, nice and chewy, but the flavor wasn't really that great. So instead, I'll just post a picture. They look nice, but trust me, you don't want to waste your time with this recipe. Hopefully my next attempt at cookies will be tastier - I have several (dozen) recipes I'm anxious to make. And I'll post the recipes for any that are worthy.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Calvin & Hobbes Cookies Part 3 - Snowman Sports

This is a continuation of my recreation of various Calvin & Hobbes comics in cookie form.

This time I chose to recreate a comic where the snowmen were participating in various sports (or a sort). This is the original comic here.

Here's a picture of the decorating process:

And a picture of the finished work:

I hope you like it. Leave a comment and let me know what you think! And stay tuned for more Calvin & Hobbes Comic recreations.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Random Quote of the Day

“Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle…a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl.  And the anticipation nurtures our dream.”

– Barbara Winkler

I'm looking forward to seeing these again in a couple of months. (OK, more like 4 months.) This one is from a plant that sprouts in one of my pots each year. I love these. They are so tiny and colorful).


Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Job!

This past Friday was my last day at the company that I've worked at since getting out of college (with a 2-year break when I worked somewhere else, then returned). I've held various positions there, and for the most part, enjoyed them all with the possible exception of the six months as a secretary (which was a job from hell!) I've been there for over 17 years! But now the company is going out of business.

While I know that not everyone there feels the same, I have always enjoyed my time there. I was respected, truly enjoyed what I was doing and overall the company was a great fit for me. I worked with some truly awesome people and made some wonderful friends.

But now it's time to move on. I'm excited and can only hope that my new place of employment will be as good a fit. I'm optimistic, hopeful and I know that whatever happens, I am a lucky woman! I have a beautiful family, a wonderful husband and a good job.

But, with a new job, my schedule will be changing. Probably not a lot, but I'm sure I'll be busier than normal for a little while, so my blog postings will most-likely not be daily like they have been. But I'm aiming for 3 days a week. I have fun with this, and hope my readers enjoy what I post too.

So, wish me luck!

And since a blog post just doesn't seem complete somehow without a picture, I'll post this picture. I think he's saying 'Good Luck'.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gotta Get Me S'more of Those

I found a recipe on the lovely Bakerella's web site the other day for S'more's Cupcakes and I just had to try them. Oh my goodness you wouldn't believe how good these are. They are awesome! Very sweet, very tasty, very delicious. This is what they look like:

I found they were best when warm, with a generous drizzle of chocolate ganache. If they are cool, just pour on some ganache then pop them in the microwave for 7-10 seconds. Utter perfection!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Groundhog Day!!!

Today is Groundhog Day. Yippee! Let's all celebrate. With chocolate! I must have some here somewhere. Of course, you never need an excuse to eat chocolate. But if you feel like you need one, Groundhog Day is an excellent excuse. You have my permission. Indulge!

And, to get back on topic (Groundhog Day, not chocolate), every year (or at least, most years) the hubby and I celebrate by watching the 1993 movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. Yes, aren't we weird? I know the kids will tell us all about just how weird we are someday. Soon I'm sure. But it's a good movie. Check it out for yourself.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Calvin & Hobbes Cookies Part 2 - House of Horrors

This is a continuation of my recent post regarding Recreating the Awesomeness that is Calvin and Hobbes.  For my second in the series I chose the Snowmen House of Horrors comic.

There were actually fewer mishaps with this one than the last one, but it was somewhat tricky to get it set up right. I struggled with the sled and the snowman arms, but I was able to come up with something I was happy with - a cardboard sled and real stick arms. Only one cookie broke during construction (the tree snapped off) and for some reason, all three of the tennis racket snowman pieces broke when they came out of the oven - the racket broke off from the cookie. But with a little cardboard and glue everything was all set. (Just don't eat that one! The glue is non-toxic, but still.)

Here are some pictures of the process:

The initial outlining in frosting:

Some close-ups:


The left-over pieces when all was said and done. (Time to eat the pieces. Anyone hungry?)

And this is the completed masterpiece:

All in all another fun project! Stay tuned for more.

Update: I just found out that Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes has been interviewed (for the first time in 15 years). What timing! Check it out here.