Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Random Quote of the Day

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

~William Wordsworth, "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," 1804

They haven't bloomed yet. These are from last year. But soon, very soon.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Hot Showers

I hate my shower. Or maybe it's the hot water heater I hate. All I know is that some mornings the water is luke-warm. First thing in the morning, I'm the first one out of bed. There's no way we're out of hot water! Unless of course the shower fairy was here and used up all the hot water while I slept, but I think I would have heard her. Anyway, it's not like we never have hot water. Sometimes it's super hot. Like scalding hot. But other times, the best I get is kinda sorta warmish. Just the other day. I really wanted a nice HOT shower. But no, not even close. It's never cold, not even cool, just warm, but not quite as warm as I'd like. (So I suppose it could be worse.)

Sometimes if we're lucky, when we realize it's only warm, we can turn it off and come back in 5-10 minutes and it will be miraculously hot again. But not always. Sometimes when we come back 5-10 minutes later all we've done is waste 5-10 minutes because it's still just warm. It leads to shorter showers that's for sure! And it doesn't matter how long we let it run - it doesn't warm up that way. It stays the same kinda sorta warmish temperature.

Oh, I've tried googling it and hanging out in the plumber forums but I never see anyone with a similar problem. The water heater is probably 8 years old. Maybe not even that old, but it's been that way since the day we got it. And it's not just showers, although that's where I really notice it. It's any sink/tub/faucet in the house. Sigh!


Friday, March 26, 2010

I am NOT a hot snot rug, you foolie kadoolie!

My kids often argue. Just like most kids, especially siblings. And, while it can be annoying to listen to, it can also be quite amusing. With just a simple grunt or sidelong glance, a full-blown argument can start. And the curses are often quite original. Take for instance, "foolie kadoolie". Have you ever been called a foolie kadoolie? Me neither, but my kids sometimes call each other that. It's actually quite funny. I don't know if I'd be too offended by that one. Sure, it has the word fool in it, but it also rhymes and has the word kadoolie in it. It's rather endearing.

Of course there are the usuals - jerk, butt head, idiot, etc. So far we've avoided 'real' curses (as in swear words) but I'm sure it's just a matter of time before someone tries that.

But far and away, my favorite one must be,

wait for it,

wait for it,

Hot Snot Rug.

Isn't that great?! As in "You are a hot snot rug!" I don't think anyone wants to be a hot snot rug. I don't know exactly what it is, but it sounds gross. Snot is bad enough, but hot snot? Yuck! And rug? A fairly innocuous word, but rugs are dirty. They get walked on all the time. I don't think anyone wants to be a rug. Put it all together and ick!

I am NOT a hot snot rug, you foolie kadoolie!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I like mint. Mint chocolate-chip ice cream, shamrock shakes, mint tea, peppermint patties (Ghiardelli with dark chocolate - awesome!) I even have a recipe for mint cake. It sounds strange, but it is to die for! So good! Next time I make it (soon) I'll post the recipe.

Around Christmas I saw some Andes chips and picked 'em up. You know those Andes mints - little wafers of layered chocolate and mint. (For some reason I can't seem to find their website although they must have one). In any case, I've never been a big fan of Andes' mints for some reason - the flavor always seemed off,
but these chips caught my eye and I must have been hungry so I picked up a bag of the chips that are like broken pieces of the standard chocolate and mint candies (probably swept off the floor of the factory after a day of production/packaging) and a bag of white and red (like white chocolate with candy cane chips).

Finally, three months later (you don't want me to actually use them when they're fresh, do you?) I used the chocolate ones. The results were very yummy. I made a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe (from the back of the chocolate chip bag) and added 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 2 cups of these chips rather than chocolate chips. They came out nice and puffy. I think if I had replaced a half cup of flour with the cocoa, they may have spread out a little more and been a little flatter, but since I just added the cocoa powder, it made the dough drier and stiffer so the cookies didn't spread much. But it worked out fine. They are super yummy! Very minty-licious and chocolatey.

Of course, the hubster didn't like them. He hates mint in all forms except official York Peppermint Patties. And the boys wouldn't touch them. Ick! Mint! They won't even use mint toothpaste! But Sweet Pea, a girl after my own heart, loves them. (She also loves the mint cake.)

Here's a picture of the little minty-licious morsels:


Monday, March 22, 2010

I Know What It Feels Like To Be Medusa

I know what it feels like to be Medusa. Not so much the turning people to stone part, but the snakes on the head part. In my case, not actual snakes, but it feels like it. Let me explain.

I have long hair. when Sweet Pea was born it was waist-length and whenever I carried or held her she would hold a handful of my hair in her fist like a security blanket. She loved it! In the years since, it has become shorter and is now shoulder length, but Doodlebug, like his sister, has always loved it - holding it, fondling it, burying his face in it, burying his hands in it, grabbing it as he runs by, swinging from it like a vine (It happened once. It was not pleasant!) Recently, the Hubsterama was out late, so Doodlebug wheedled his way into my bed. He's snuggly and warm and it doesn't happen often so I let him stay. As soon as the lights went out, his hands reached for my hair. And they wiggled and curled and pulled and fondled and wriggled and curved and flipped and flopped and scraped. I felt like my head was covered in snakes. Have you ever tried to sleep with snakes crawling all over your head? I haven't, but I imagine it would be similar. I was too tired to make him stop - it would only have started up again in a minute anyway and I knew it would only last until he feel asleep. And about 10 minutes later it finally stopped. After a few half-hearted restarts, it finally ceased and we both slept.

But for some reason I wasn't sleeping well. Maybe it was the hot little body next to me (although I'm used to hot big body next to me most nights) or maybe it was the hands still twined in my hair (but thankfully not moving). Who knows. But Hubsterama, the poor man, had to face Medusa's wrath when he came home. He came in late, all wired after a writer's meeting and complaining about a sore muscle. I could tell he was wide awake and wanted to chat. On and on. Endlessly. Ad nauseum. At 2 am. I was sleeping. So I said something to the effect of:

"Shut up! I'm sleeping."

I felt bad but was too, um, sleeping to care at the time. Sorry sweetie!

PS. I was right about the Calvin and Hobbes cookies. I've had almost no time to work on them this week/week-end. And the time I did have I squandered away playing Mario Kart on the Wii and doing Wii Fit. But here's some of the pictures I'm thinking of cookifying (That's duck for 'recreating in cookie form').
I plan on getting my butt in gear and having a new Calvin and Hobbes cookie post for next week.


Friday, March 19, 2010

I Live in a House Made for Short People

The other day I ranted about sleeve length. Today I'm going to complain about my house. These may not seem related, but I suspect they are. I am tall. Being tall means I have long legs, long arms (but NOT ape arms!) and a long torso (bathing suit shopping is quite a challenge!) Being tall means that some things that are placed at a reasonable height for average people (but who's average, really?) are too low for me. Let me explain. We have a chandelier in the dining room (also known now as the guinea pig room - that's where we keep their very large cage.) As you may suspect, this chandelier hangs over the table. Now, the table is not dead center - the room is stuffed so full (a table and 4 chairs, a piano, a china cabinet, coat hooks, small chest of drawers, cabinet, huge guinea pig cage, book shelves and a decorative table. Wow!) that the only place to put the table is off-center. So the chandelier is toward the end of the table. Most people can lean in to reach something off the table safely. Not me. Every single time I try, Bang! Chandelier to the forehead! Ditto the lamp which hangs over the kitchen table. And god forbid that the table is moved for some reason! Without fail my forehead will notice by clanging into the light. Ouch!

Everyone else in the family can walk right under it without ducking. If I try - Bang! Right in the forehead! It's happened enough in the kitchen that I finally raised the lamp a few links on the chain. But it even happens occasionally with the range hood. I lean in to grab something and Bang! Corner of range hood, meet my forehead.

And mirrors! Oh mirrors! I have one of those low dressers with a nice big mirror on the back running the length of the dresser. The only problem is, if I stand to look in it the top of my head isn't visible. I have to squat if I want to see the top of my head or to comb my hair. We also have a full length mirror on the wall. It was there when we moved into the house. Same problem. I'm cut off at the forehead. I would have moved it up, probably should have moved it up sometime in the last 12 years we've been in this house, but I never did. But that's actually a good thing sometimes. You know, after I've had a run-in with a chandelier for instance. I can see all of me except the bruises on my forehead. It really works out great! See, I just need to look at the positive side of things.

Fortunately, the mirrors in the bathrooms are sufficiently high. But if you see me and my hair is all crazy, but the rest of me looks normal (or at least as normal as I get :-)), there's a good chance I only looked in the bedroom mirrors and thus, missed what my head looked like. On the days when I check it in the bathroom mirror my hair is excellently coiffed! Really!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about being tall. Quite the contrary. I love being tall - always have. I can reach high things without a stool, I can look down on short people :-), I'm among the first to know it's raining. What I'm really complaining about is that my house is made for short people! (Nothing against short people of course. I married one after all ;-) It's just that I'm tall. I should have a tall house.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I So Do Not Have Ape Arms

What is it with long sleeves? It drives me crazy that about 99.9% of my long sleeve tops have sleeves that aren't quite long enough. I think long sleeves should cover your wrist bones and touch the back of your hand. Don't you agree? Well my sleeves don't. My wrists always stick out a little. I'm constantly pulling at them to make them longer, but they always bounce back! I feel like a grade-school kid who has outgrown my clothes!

I'm tall, but come on! I'm not THAT tall! I don't have ape arms. My knuckles don't drag on the floor when I walk. I don't have to duck going through doorways. So why are my sleeves so short? It drives me crazy! (I think I already said that.) Maybe I'll start sewing nice lacy ruffles to the end of all my sleeves to cover the fact that they are too short. That would look much better, wouldn't it? OK, maybe not.

(And yes, it's the sleeves that are too short. Not the arms that are too long!)


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chocolate Smellificence

I went out to lunch the other day with some of the girls I used to work with. (Hi guys!) It was so good to see them again! The weather was perfect - sunny and warm (50's). My lunch was excellent (a chicken and cheese quesadilla - I LOVE those!) and it was just a lot of fun to see them again and hear all the old nonsense :-). I really miss seeing them on a daily basis.

We also wandered a little bit after lunch and stopped into a chocolate shop. When we first walked in we were hit with a wall of solid chocolate smellificence. It almost knocked us over. It was divine! (And yes, I made that word up, but it just seemed appropriate).
I tried a mint cream (so-so), a caramel truffle (very yummy) and a dark chocolate covered shortbread (oh-my-god-it-was-heavenly!) Now that I know the chocolate shop is there I may have to stop in occasionally - I could use about 10 more of the chocolate-covered shortbread (well, my mouth and brain could, maybe not my hips and thighs). Then it was back to the daily grind. Sigh! But it was a fun break from an otherwise dreary day in front of the computer screen.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Calvin & Hobbes Cookies Part 8 –Spring is in the Air

This is part 8 in my series of the recreation of various Calvin & Hobbes comics in cookie form.

In this comic a trio of snowmen herald the coming of spring. Of course, the coming of spring is not a good thing for snowmen! This is the original comic here.

Here I am just starting out. I’ve got the cookies baked and ready for decorating:

And here it one of them outlined. The signs are handmade out of paper and toothpicks. The signs were actually the very first thing I did in this entire series of cookie making. But then I decided to hold off on posting this since it has a spring theme. I thought I’d wait until spring was almost here. And, maybe I’m being optimistic, but I’m hoping it’s almost here. I’m sure we’ll get another snow storm or two before all is said and done, but we’re getting close!!

And finally, here is the finished product:

I hope you like it. I hope to have another Calvin & Hobbes cookie post next week, but I had planned to get started on it this weekend and as I write this it’s already 2:00 PM on Sunday and I haven't done anything more than make the dough. And finding time for this during the week is not easy. So, if I can squeeze it in, look for a brand new batch, with a brand new theme next week. If I can’t squeeze it in, look for it the following week. It will be worth the wait!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Pomegranate Juice Experimentation

Have you heard any of the news in recent years regarding pomegranate juice and the health benefits of it? Well, apparently, this stuff is very good for you. If you google "pomegranate health benefits" you will get a slew of links from all over with all sorts of health benefits. Are they all true? Who knows? However, there have been some official studies done that showed cardiovascular benefits, prostate benefits and more. In addition, this stuff is loaded with antioxidants, and that's a good thing. You can read about some of the health benefits here.

This all sounds great. But does this stuff taste any good? I decided to try it out. I was given a free case of POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice by the nice folks at POM Wonderful. (Thank you Kristen!) I don't know that I would have tried it out otherwise. I'm very fond of my orange juice! But hey, it's worth a shot, right?

To begin with, the little bottles are so so so cute. Little bulbous, bumpy 8 oz bottles - very cute. But is what's inside the bottle, as cute as the outside of the bottle?

I tried some and it's not bad. The flavor is reminiscent of cranberry juice but sweeter. It has that dry tartness that cranberry juice has, but without quite so much pucker.

But how did the rest of the family feel about it? Well, right off, Doodlebug and Snickers refused to even entertain the idea of trying it. Sweet? Don't care! Don't want it! You might like it? Don't care! Don't want it!. OK. No surprises there. They have their few (very few) foods that they allow to cross their lips and it's very hard to break into that food safe zone. But Sweet Pea tried it. She was a little unsure, but up for the challenge. A tiny sip passed her lips, a grimace, "Too sour!" she proclaimed. But at least she tried it.

Then the hubster tried it and declared it drinkable. How's that for enthusiasm? He liked it, but wasn't WOW! about it. However, with a sugar content of 32 grams of sugar in 8oz (compared to about 21 grams in orange juice) it's a bit high for a diabetic so he won't be drinking a lot of it. At least not straight up in large quantities.

But one thing we often do with other juices, that would work well with this as well is to mix it about 70%/30% soda (diet lemon-lime soda) to juice (cranberry, orange, Hawaiian punch, etc). The juice adds a little flavor to otherwise boring soda. We tried it and declare it a success. Pom + soda is yummy!

So, what else could I do with this stuff? How about baking something? How about citrus pomegranate bars? Or pomegranate coffee cake? Or both?

First, I modified a standard lemon bar cookie recipe to use with pomegranate juice. If you like lemon bars, I think you will like this. The sweetness of the POM was a nice addition. Sweet Pea really liked these.

This is the finished product:

And a closeup of the tastiness:

Citrus Pomegranate Bars
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup flour
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

3/4 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp + 1 tsp pomegranate juice
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan.

For the crust, in a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, 1 cup flour, and confectioners sugar until fluffy. Scrape the mixture into the pan and smooth it out. Bake for 15 minutes or until it just starts to turn golden.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the eggs and white sugar. Add the extract and juices and mix. Add the 1 tbsp flour and baking powder and mix until well blended. Pour the mixture into the crust.

Bake for another 20-30 minutes until the filling is set. Let it cool before cutting and sift powdered sugar over the top if you'd like.

They are not quite as tangy as lemon bars and they are very very sweet! But also very good. A success.

And for a final experiment I decided to try pomegranate coffee cake and this was an even bigger success. Very tasty!

First make the pomegranate filling:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 cup pomegranate juice
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp butter or margarine

In a saucepan combine the sugar, cornstarch and pomegranate juice. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in margarine or butter. Let it cool.

Buttermilk Coffee Cake
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup shortening, margarine or butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 egg

Combine the flour, brown sugar and salt. Cut in the shortening until crumbly. Set aside 1/4 cup of the crumb mixture. To the remaining crumb mixture, add baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix well. Then add buttermilk and egg and mix well.

Spread 1/2 of the batter into a greased 8x8 inch baking pan. Spread the pomegranate filling over the batter. Add the remaining batter to the top and spread it around. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of crumb mixture over the top. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Neither recipe even comes close to using the recommended 8 oz daily portion, so in that regard, I don't know that there would be any health benefits there (and it would most-likely be countered by the vast amounts of sugar and butter) but it was a tasty experiment. I don't know that we're pomegranate converts, but overall, it's pretty tasty stuff no matter what you do with it.


POM Wonderful sent me a free case of POM Wonderful Pomegranate juice
along with some pomegranate juice information.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Your Arteries and Colon Will Thank You

I'm a picky eater. I like my food plain, no frills, with very little sauces and a minimum of mixing things up (keep it separate!). I am NOT adventurous when it comes to food. Having said that, here's a basic, no frills recipe for granola that I love. It's simple and tasty. And customizable. If you're more adventurous than I when it comes to food (and who isn't?) try fancifying it - add raisins, or chocolate chips. Add dried fruit or nuts. Add sunflower seeds. Put fresh fruit on top when you prepare it. Try it with honey or molasses instead of sugar. As it is, I eat it plain. A half cup  or so with 2% milk on top. Sometimes I add cinnamon to the recipe. It's delicious and loaded with fiber. Your arteries and colon will thank you. ;-)

Delicious Granola
8 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup shortening
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup ground flax seed (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Just mix is all together. I usually just use my hands so I can mix the shortening in good, but I suppose a spoon would also work. ;-) Then put it onto a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with raised edges and bake it in a 300 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes, stirring it every 10-15 minutes.

Let it cool then eat it! And store it in a covered container. Yummy!

I had a slight mishap the other day as I was making this. I have a big plastic container that is just the right size to hold a two pound bag of brown sugar. Well, it was just about empty so I decided to refill it. I cut open the bag and dumped it in. Oops! Wrong bowl! Oh no! I dumped all two pounds into my in-progress granola! So then I spent the next ten minutes scooping it carefully off the top and tried to estimate the 3/4 cup to leave behind. Sigh! Needless to say, there are a few oats in the brown sugar now. That's what happens when you make granola while watching American Idol, while talking to your ten year old at the same time. But it came out fine anyway. It certainly made the process more entertaining (albeit in a somewhat annoying way.)


Monday, March 8, 2010

Calvin & Hobbes Cookies Part 7 –Unsuspecting Townsfolk

This is part 7 in my series of the recreation of various Calvin & Hobbes comics in cookie form. In this comic Calvin prepares to sled down a hill into a group of unsuspecting townsfolk. This is one of Snicker’s favorites. He really appreciates this sort of thing. He’s really enjoying looking through my Calvin & Hobbes books with me and has fun drawing the comics on his own. This is the original comic here.

Here is the work in progress. All the little snowmen were fun to make (but not so much fun to frost – too small!)

And here’s a closeup (slightly blurry) of the Calvin cookie in progress. Once again, I had fun working with a little more color and this Calvin came out much much better than my last Calvin cookie.

And here is the finished product. I’m not real happy with this one. The photo didn’t come out quite like I would have liked and the snowmen came out too messy. It’s hard to frost those tiny little things! But they were mighty tasty! Just the right size - bite size!

Next week will be my last of the snowman series, then I’ll be moving on to some more colorful scenes and plan to have a lot of fun (and make quite a mess of course!)  I hope you'll check back each week for more.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Someday You'll Realize What You're Missing

Not too long ago I posted a recipe for potato soup and how much I love it. I thought my Mom was going to deck me when she read it! Apparently she has always loved it too, but being the picky eater I am, and always was, I refused to eat it as a kid. And the rest of my family apparently didn't like it either so she avoided making it for us. Oops! Sorry Mom! Next time I make it I'll have to bring her a nice big batch of it.

And speaking of learning that you like foods you never thought you would like, as I was growing up my grandmother used to make a cherry coogan (some sort of cherry tart/pie thing). And of course I refused to eat it. Without fail, every time she made it she would say "Some day you'll realize what you're missing." I'd like to tell her that she's right, that I wished I had learned to eat it when I was younger because, Boy! Did I miss out on years and years of cherry coogan. That I love that stuff and would eat it until the cows come home. But, well, I just can't say that. I have never, for a single day, regretted not eating cherry coogan. And to this day, I wouldn't eat cherry coogan if it was offered. It just does not appeal to me in the least. If I'm going to have a tart or a pie, it's going to be chocolate! 

And speaking of tarts, one day soon I'll post my recipe for chocolate tart. It's delicious! (Sorry for mentioning it and not going into more detail. I will post pictures and the recipe soon. I promise!)


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Snowy Mountain

We've had a lot of snow lately and with Thursday and Friday being snowdays from school, followed by a weekend, the kids had four days off and a lot of free time to play in the snow. I spent a good chunk of time over those days shoveling snow off the deck. And why do that you ask? Some strange impulse for a clean deck? Worry about the weight of snow collapsing or damaging the deck? An urge to exercise?

No! Don't be silly! The kids wanted a snow mountain to play on! So I shoveled and shoveled and shoveled, pounds and pounds and pounds of snow off the deck and over the edge and created a nice big snow mountain. It's close enough to the deck that the kids can climb on the bench and throw themselves over the edge, sliding down the mountain on their bellies and half way across the yard. It's super fun just to watch them on it! Lots of giggling, squealing and laughter. What fun!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Random Quote of the Day

"You step over the borderline of sanity not when you start talking to yourself, but when you stop to listen."

Twinkie the Kid told me he agrees. =)


Monday, March 1, 2010

Calvin & Hobbes Cookies Part 6 – Bowling Snowmen

This is part 6 in my series of the recreation of various Calvin & Hobbes comics in cookie form. In this comic a snowman uses his friend’s head as a bowling ball. Ouch! This is the original comic here.

And here's the work in progress:
 I made a few extra pins just in case. Turns out I didn't need them. They were delicious!

And here is the finished product:

This was part of a batch I made including last week’s cookies and the frosting was a bit too thin and I was a bit too impatient and didn’t wait for it to dry completely, so there is a little bit of leakage from the bowling snowman. But other than that, another recreation I am happy with.

Another couple of snowmen posts to come over the next few weeks, then I’m hoping spring will be upon us. Less snow, fewer snowmen, more color. I can’t wait. I've had a request for a Spaceman Spiff and that sounds like a great idea. Stay tuned.