Monday, November 22, 2010

It's 12:01 a.m. 19 November, Do You Know Where Your Wife Is?

If she's with me, then we're at the midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!  SQUEE!

 Too bad Sarah's Hermione-esque hairdo is mostly hidden, as is the cool part of my hat.  I crocheted it from this pattern, oh so easy and vintage to boot!  And free.  I love me some free stuff.  Here's the crocheted goods sans moi:

The scarf is a new twist on the oh-so-chic Harry Potter house scarves seen in all of the films.  The wizards in the movies, however, have uber-long scarves which go down to their knees (in some cases) after winding around their necks.  I'm 5'9.  No scarf goes down to my knees, and to make one that did I'd have to shell out a lot of $$ for yarn.  Booo.  Etsy to the rescue!  I found this scarf on Etsy:

So I modeled my house scarf after that.  My scarf is super easy!
Chain 42 with G size crochet hook and worsted weight yarn
In third loop from hook, HDC
HDC in each chain
Chain 2, turn, HDC in each HDC across (repeat)
That's it.  My instructions aren't great, but if you've ever crocheted before, I think you'll get the idea.  I put stripes in mine (Ravenclaw colors).  Every 12 rows I switched to gold, crocheted two rows, back to blue, crochet two rows, gold again for two rows than back to blue for another 12.  I ran into a problem with my buttons 'cause they didn't fit through the HDC.  I solved the problem by stitching large buttons onto the visible front part and smaller buttons onto the back.  The smaller buttons do the work, but the bigger ones look nicer.

See what I mean? BTW, I used the blue and bronze colors that Ravenclaw sports in the books, not the blue and silver shown on screen.  I can't bear for my things to not be screen accurate without good reason, but creativity and book authenticity work for me.
The other thing I did for the premiere was perfect a butterbeer recipe.  Yum!  I serve mine cold and haven't experimented with hot butterbeer yet, but here's my recipe.

 Madame Baur's Butterbeer
Makes 4 16 oz servings

1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/3 cup heavy cream
Butterschnapps (optional)
Cream Soda

1. Combine the water and brown sugar in a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat.  You want the mixture to come to a low boil, then stir it constantly until it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. (That's soft ball for those of you who do this often!)

2.  Remove from heat, then stir in butter, salt, vinegar and cream.  Let the mixture cool to room temp (about 45 minutes).

3.  Divide the cooled caramel brown sugar mixture between 4 TALL glasses.  I used pilsner.  Now here's the part that depends on you; how much do you like schnapps, and are you giving this to children?  I add two shots to each serving.  You don't have to add the alcohol at all, or you could use a teensy bit of rum extract (add it with the butter and whatnot) for a similar flavor.  I stir the schnapps into the caramel mixture to thin it, then add 16 oz of cream soda to each glass.  This will foam a good lot.  If you choose not to use the schnapps, add a little cream soda to the caramel mixture and stir it well before adding the rest of the soda.  This will prevent you from having a thick blob on the bottom and straight cream soda on the top, get it?

You can also add a little whip cream to the glass before the soda and you'll get a nice frothy head.  I topped mine with a little extra because it looked cute, lol.
Bottoms up Potter fans!  Just don't drink too much of this stuff, or you'll end up like Winky the house elf...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

1940's Leia?

This is just AWESOME, isn't it?  If you'll agree to wear this, I'll totally crochet it for you!

You can find the pattern here.

Whoa There!

Contrary to popular belief, I am not dead.  I didn't really mean to take a break from my blog, but apparently it happened anyway. (Insert frowny face.) Halloween is just around the corner, and sewing costumes for the Fam is taking precedence over inventing new recipes and any other real form of creativity blog included.  Some highlights that may, cross my fingers, add up to a blog post...

- Ethan is dressing up as Master Yoda for Halloween this year.  Coincidentally, we've had to watch EVERY piece of Star Wars media approved by the George Lucas Canon, and E walks around humming the Imperial March. 
That's the "Darth Vader Song" for those of you who don't have the soundtrack titles committed to memory.
Yesterday my in-laws bought him a new spiffy red "Sith" lightsaber.  This morning I became Darth Ethan's apprentice ("Always two, there are. No more, no less. A master, and an apprentice.") and had my hand cut off by said lightsaber.  I am now, DARTH MOM.  The Emperor does not share your optimistic appraisal of the situation.

-  Arden is now in kindergarten, which means I get to help out!  Her teacher is, I think, a saint.  I've been helping out for three weeks and she's dealt with a sick child throwing up, a little girl wetting her pants while standing outside the bathroom door and Friday's project, dissecting OWL PELLETS.  Arden's contained a gopher skeleton.  That would have been cool, except for the smell.  It was reminiscent of musk and roadkill with a slight shade of BLEH.
And the other inedible animal parts mixed in with the bones.  HAIR.
Next week, the little bones the kindergartners glued down to make their "project" come home.  The joke's on Darth Mom.

-  I thought I was killing off my garden, rather slowly, but it turns out the plants were just waiting for it to not be 113 degrees outside.  Two of my berry plants have reproduced themselves subterranean-ly.  WTH?

I keep imagining that soon the boysenberries and raspberries will be tunneling under the house and breaking up the foundation.  Someday I'll have real berry vines as my kitchen decor!  It'll be sure to make the local home tour that way.

- I've also figured out how to change the hose over from one drip line to the other without a mass spray-down episode.  I do this kinky thing with the hose, no wait, I put a kink IN the hose to stop the water.  Yea!  Now I don't have to walk back and forth to the spigot every time I need to switch the hose to a new line.  This is a big deal folks, we've got no irrigation back there.  Too bad it's taken me a full year to figure this all out.

As side note, I'd like to point out that mascara melts.  This may seem obvious, but it came as quite a shock to me when I opened the oven door and my eyes melted shut. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Projects!

I love love love Summer time!  Aside from banishing my seasonal-lack-of-sun blues, summer makes me giddy with all of its possibilities.  Granted, I'm a stay at home Mom, so technically I could do whatever, whenever, but something about summer motivates me!  Combine that with a sale on Butterick patterns at Jo-Ann, and here's what I came away with today:
I have to admit I'm a little excited about trying my hand at millinery and creating a hat or two!  The fabric in the background will be used to make the dress with sleeves on pattern B5209 (lower left side).  Here's a close-up of that:

It's charmeuse.  I just like the way that sounds when you say it.  Try it!  I'm currently working on another retro Butterick pattern:

Cute, huh?  It's taken quite a lot of time.  Not because of difficulty, but because of A's first dance recital!  I sewed bits and bobs for a few classes, and designed and sewed A's Strawberry Shortcake costume.

I added silvers stars to her cowboy costume (as well as those of her classmates) and designed and constructed their tap shoe spats:

I ended up making satin flapper spats for another tap number, and frilly ruffs for a "Phantom of the Opera"-esque ballet costume.  Fun fun fun!  All of the kids had a blast and felt beautiful and talented, that's what's important!
Now to get sewing!

Friday, July 9, 2010

We've Been Inked! or, Arch Enemy Part II

So here's my laundry room today:

Tada!  I know it's not perfect, but at least the laundry that's left in there is all folded or hung.  That's good enough, I say.  I even put a door hanger on the cabinet to hang dry small things like tote bags and lunch boxes.  I thought that was pretty creative.

Now on to the inked segment.  You may have noticed a few, errrrr, "some" days have passed since I promised that I'd clean that mess up.  It's not that it has taken me a week to get the laundry cleaned up, not exactly anyway.  The day after my last blog entry the laundry room was lookin' good!  But then it happened.  E got into Matt's office as Matt was getting ready for work, and he found a bottle of ink.  Matt uses it to refill his fabu fountain pen.
I do actually love fountain pens.
After the lid was unscrewed, the ink managed to find its way into the keyboard of Matt's LAPTOP, then into all of the electronics therein.  Matt had just left when I happened upon a black handed toddler in the hall and discovered the catastrophe.  The carpet under Matt's desk also suffered a grievous blow.  I did the best I could, but we also sacrificed a good number of towels in the effort, which is how the laundry room cleaning and post was waylaid.  The towels are a lurid violet color now, thanks to some clorox.  There was a valiant effort to save the Acer, but it unfortunately succumbed to the ink.  ::sigh::
At least my laundry and laundry room are clean!  (Note my bag of Charlie's soap on the counter in the laundry room.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Meet my Arch Enemy

It's laundry.  This is my laundry room right now, and it's scarey to my kids.  (Monsters live in unfolded laundry, you know.)
I'm trusting you to hold me accountable to folding this disaster!  I enjoy a good challenge, but it seems like the laundry is always presenting me with something new.  I cloth diapered the kids and learned a LOT about laundry, detergents, washers, line drying etc. before A&E were both potty trained.  And yet, the hardest thing to clean wasn't the dipes, but my husband's work clothes.  It's still that way.  Matt comes home from the field and I get this:

and this:

It's been living in the field for a week without a bath (the cammies and my hubs), and it's DIRTY.  And smells like a gym locker.  The dirt is easy enough to get out, but our wonderfully hard water makes it very challenging to get all of the SMELL out.  Bleach and anything harsh is verboten, as well as anything with optical brighteners.  Optical brighteners are nasty little additives that most laundry detergents have and they do just what their name indicates; make clothes look brighter.  That means build up on your clothes over time, and doesn't fly to well on tactical clothing.  It also means garments that get stinky retain their odor, yippy skippy.  My answer: Charlie's Soap.
     Charlie's soap is free from all the bad stuff; harsh chemicals, optical brighteners and is environmentally friendly.  It's better for babies than Dreft and biodegradable to boot.  One tablespoon of Charlie's and two tablespoons of water softner get the stink and dirt out of everything.  The nasty build up from commercial detergents washes out and Charlie's rinses clean.  Good stuff.
     So I may have a pile of laundry, but it's CLEAN.  No scary monsters lurking here!  I'll post another pic of my laundry room tomorrow, lol.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Eggs... It's What's for Dinner!

"Breakfast for dinner"  doesn't always fly in my house.  The kiddos don't mind it so much, but after a long day in the field or a forced 12 mile hike, the hubster's not always up for pancakes.  So what's a girl to do for a quick meal?  Not that there aren't thousands of tasty recipes for quick meals, but I invented my own this afternoon and I think it came out pretty well.  Let me know if I'm horribly off base!

Okay, it's needs a name still.

16 oz Acini de pepe pasta
a smidgen of butter
2 eggs, plus one for each serving
Grated Parmesan cheese
1 pint grape tomatoes

Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions.  Return to cooking pot after draining, stir in butter until it's melted.  I used about 2 tablespoons of butter, but you can use more or less to taste.  Break the eggs into a separate bowl, beat them slightly, then add to pasta while stirring.  You want to egg to coat the pasta as the egg cooks to avoid large curds of egg in the tiny pasta.  Cook the remaining eggs over easy.  Portion out the pasta into individual bowls.  Top each with Parmesan cheese, one egg and as many halved grape tomatoes as you'd like and serve with your favorite light white wine.  Yumm-o.

You could adapt this easily and change the dish completely;  try adding steamed asparagus or a different type of cheese.  Toss in some crumbled bacon for a pasta carbonara feel.  Especially good if you have access to home grown tomatoes (like me).  Bon appetit!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Doughnuts and Tents; or, My Weekend

When I was about 10 years old, my Grandmother made doughnuts with my little sister for a school project.  Hot, with a crispy outside and cakey inside, they were AMAZING.  Every once in a while, I try to recreate that experience, that recipe, but I'm usually unsucessful.  Enter Saturday morning.
We are (still) out of maple syrup, so pancakes were out of the question for breakfast, as were waffles. The same sister who made doughnuts with Gram has my aebleskiver pan, so those were a no go as well.  (I say that like I have more than one sis, lol.)  Decided to try the doughnuts again, and at least E was excited about it.  (See photo!)
     I used my newly aquired candy thermometer to get to oil to the right temp, which took FOR-EV-ER.  That must've been the problem with my previous attempts; without the thermometer I had no way of know that the oil wasn't up to temp.

The final result was fantastic!  Just the right consistency.  You should go buy a candy thermometer, right now!  Or ask for one for your birthday, which is how I got mine.  Thanks Gram!

Here's a tip: pitch your tent before you go on a trip, just so you know how to set it up and have all of the pieces.  Tip#2: don't do it in your living room.
We're preparing to go on our first camping trip and have a new tent, it seemed like a good idea to try and set it up.  Inside.

Haha.  Even with all of the furniture moved around, the tent was still a bit tweaked.  But hey, all the pieces were put together!  A & E got a kick out of playing in the tent with their new sleeping bags.  Makes me wonder if they'll actually sleep in them.  Guess we'll find out soon!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sexy Dancing or Pushy Parents?

Have you seen this video recently?

GOOD GRIEF.  The dancers in that video are seven and eight year olds from a dance troupe out of Orange County, CA.  I started to cry as I watched the video for the first time; how could this have happened?  It's easy - now that the video has gone viral and been on several news shows- to point the finger of blame at the coach and parents.  Obviously they shoulder the blame for allowing this to come to fruition, but society is the real culprit.  Multiple organizations failed to prevent this performance.

The parents of some of these girls were intereviewed on Good Morning America on May 14th and asked to respond to comments about the suggestive dance moves and costumes.  A comment from World of Dance spokesman Larry Peters pretty much sums up what they had to say "there was NOTHING provocative about what they were doing."  It's clear that both the parents and the organization who sponsored the dance event, World of Dance, see this as nothing out of the ordinary.  I would have to assume the the coach/choreographer feels the same way as the parents, and the administrating organization who runs the dance troupe.  I have to assume that the dance costumer who designs and manufactures lingerie-like costumes in seven year old sizes has no problem with any of this either.  It would be nice if this issue was isolated and we could blame the parents, then move on.  I believe the reason people are so riled up is because this is an epidemic, not an isolated incident.

In the last year we've seen multiple headlines centering on "outrageous" actions of young celebrities; everything from Vanessa Hudgen's nude cell phone pictures and Miley Cyrus' racy photo shoot to Lindsay Lohan's descent into further debauchery through drugs, partying and promiscuousness.  But I have to ask, is it really that radical if it happens so often?  Skimpy dresses and unbecoming conduct that caused Marilyn Monroe to be called "vulgar" by Joan Crawford are common media fodder for teen girl celebs now.  Dancing styles once limited to MTV music videos and pop stars are now being emmulated by grade school aged girls.  It's not just dance troupes either, check this out:

Our culture promotes the sexualization of girls, and it's reaching progressivley younger audiences.  There's a show on TLC called "Toddlers and Tiaras" about beauty pageants for kids.  Like JonBenet Ramsey, these girls are made up, perfectly coiffed and paraded around by their parents.  Is it any shock that girls have gone the road of Abigail Breslin's character in "Little Miss Sunshine" who danced a burlesque number as her talent for a pageant?  Parents have defended this by saying the grils are just doing as they're told and have no understanding of the moves some consider provocative.  So that makes it alright?  Who benefits when these young girls dress suggestively, act suggestively and dance suggestively?  Certainly not the girls who are being taught and shown that without exploiting their looks and "femininity" they won't succeed at anything!

So who's to blame here?  Everyone.  And without a dramatic cultural shift, seven year old being taught sexy dance moves is only going to be the beginning.  Let's re-examine ourselves, stop teaching our youth to misuse their bodies and model good behavior for them.  If one of those parents had watched their daughter practising "Single Ladies" and said "Not MY daughter!", how might things have turned out differently?  We'll never know until we try.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What did you want to be?

The preponderance of social networking sites has allowed me to reconnect with people I didn't think I'd ever hear from again, people I haven't seen in a REALLY long time. The question is always the same when you first accept the "Friend" request; what have you been up to? what the heck am I supposed to say to that? "Me, oh, I don't work and have a hard time leaving my jammies behind in the morning." LOL. Try feeling confident saying that to your friend who just passed the bar or got multiple offers from publishers on his new book. Or that you can make a mean lemon tarte. Yargh. So I think about the person I was last time we were together, usually young, naive and slightly egocentric. And quirky. I figure if they got along alright with me then, they'll probably like me now too, despite my apparent lack of progress into meaningful adulthood. I can usually one up them on buying a house though!
I found a MA program at UCSD in fiction writing I'm thinking of applying for. I don't think I'll put this blog on the application when I submit it (next year) since the writing here is unedited and generally atrocious. I want to post more often and see if I can work some of that nonsense out. Being a writer is the most challenging thing I can imagine, maybe that's why I'm drawn to it. We shall see.