Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Big Damn Movie Debut!

(image is a screen grab from Sci Fi channel website)

Serenity to air on Sci Fi channel
Preempting my previously scheduled post to jump for joy at the cable debut of Serenity on the Sci-Fi channel. That's right! For once a departure from the greasy, crap-tastic standard fare that Sci Fi airs in its weekend lineup. It's the Big Damn Movie broadcast (ain't it just) and it's gonna be shiny.

Now to go make some Fruity-Oaty bars and I'll be all set. You won't find any questionable concoction labeled Mudder's Milk at Silly Hat Central. A girl's gotta have standards.

Anyone want to come over for a shindig?

Of course you can bring your Jane Cobb hat. Toy dinosaurs and Hawaiian shirts too.

Friday, December 26, 2008

I scrapped! Weeeeeeeee!

Yes! I found time to scrap! And I wanted to share the page with everyone who has been so wonderful to us this year — all of you steadfast, patient and creative blog-friendly folks. Wishing you (Each and every one!) a love and light-filled year that is better than you could possibly imagine!

Friday, December 19, 2008

L-AHHHHHHHHHHHH-tke!

As a parent who is trying to raise a child with a lifelong love of reading, the bedtime story is an immutable part of our evening routine.

However, once he has finished pointing out all the pictures in the books that catch his fancy, Little Sprout usually loses interest and tries to run off. What's a mother to do? Make sure the story is entertaining for you too, of course.

Tonight I read a new holiday book: The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming - a Christmas Story by Lemony Snicket. True to persnickety type, the main character is an increasingly irate latke (a potato pancake) trying in vain to get a little respect from three Christmas-centric icons.

The Latke story appeals to me kids of all ages. It is irreverent, silly and blends holiday traditions while managing to teach about Hanukkah.

Before we go any further, my favorite stuffed toy as a child was a Jonnycake (a cornmeal cake that was a pioneer staple) which had yarn hair, hands and feet sticking out from its perfectly round body. Much like the Gingerbread Man, early memories involved the Johnnycake jumping out of a hot oven and running away. Presumably screaming.

Anthropomorphic flapjacks railing against their lot.
(See, the symmetry is almost poetic.)

Er, um . . . back to bedtime reading.

At first, Little Sprout didn't show the slightest interest in this story. He would wander off to play with Matchbox cars or trains or beg Big Daddy to flip him upside-down in a somersault. But I kept on reading aloud.

When the latke started screaming Little Sprout took notice. He could identify with a hysterical hashbrown that frustrated little latke. Whenever I would exclaim, he joined in with his own loud, "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"

After storytime was finished I said, "Sprout, what does the latke say?" and he rushed up to me (hugging me at the knees) and yelled, "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"

I think we just started a new holiday tradition.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You Still Have Time to Vote!

The holiday rush is on. Whew! So much to do and so little time to get it all done.

But I had to take a few moments out of the mad scramble at Silly Hat Central to share my overwhelming gratitude to each and every one of you who voted for my Chocolate Rum Cake in the Ultimate Chocolate Cake Challenge.

A huge, velvety, dark chocolate Thank You!

Voting ends December 19 so, if you've been wanting to vote, you still have time. Here is the link to the round up page:
Ultimate Chocolate Cake Round Up

I couldn't believe my eyes today when I saw my name near the top of the voting list. See?

There are so many incredible and masterful-looking cake submissions that I presumed my humble (though very tasty) entry wouldn't get many votes. Now I'm jazzed!

I encourage you to visit NotQuiteNigella and take a gander at all the delicious cakes. Drool, indulge in a calorie-free chocolate fantasy or two and cast your vote.

Mine is the last cake before the voting ballot. The recipe lives right here in the original post.

As I've said before, there are so many mouth-watering chocolate confections to choose from, I couldn't possibly expect you to choose my entry. Many humble thanks, though, if you do.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake Challenge

Mmm, chocolate is food of the gods. So when Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella emailed me about her Ultimate Chocolate Cake Challenge, I jumped at the chance to participate.

Did I want to bake chocolate cake and not have to share it enter for a chance to win a prize? Is this a trick question?

So I put the kettle on for tea and set about choosing a cake that was dense and decadent.

None of the recipes I found were exactly what I wanted so I adapted two recipes into one sinfully rich, satisfying confection. Et voila! A Chocolate Rum Cake was born.

NOTE: Several recipes called for chocolate frosting (or chocolate mousse frosting - yum!) and/or chocolate shavings. I chose to forego frosting and shavings in favor of a buttery rum glaze.

Next time, I will try dusting the cake with powdered sugar to showcase the lovely fleur de lis pattern.





Chocolate Rum Cake
4 eggs
6 Tbsp. butter
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 Tbsp. Rum Extract or dark rum
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
Dash of ground nutmeg (optional)
½ cup dark cocoa (unsweetened)
2 cups sifted flour
1 ¾ tsp. baking power
½ tsp. salt
⅔ cup milk

Rum Glaze:
½ cup sugar
¼ cup butter
2 Tbsp. water
½ cup dark rum

In large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy; gradually add sugar and lemon peel, beating well. Add eggs. one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add rum; beat until blended. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Bake in greased and floured pan at 350 degrees F, 50-60 minutes or until cake tests done. I used a 10-cup nonstick Fleur de Lis Bundt® pan.

Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then turn out on cooling rack. While cake is cooling, prepare glaze. In saucepan, combine sugar, butter and water to make a syrup and heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil for a minimum of 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Add rum.

Transfer cake onto serving plate. Pierce cake with a toothpick, cake tester or fork in several places. Pour warm glaze over cake. Serve warm or cold.

Makes 16 servings.

Sources: NordicWare Bundt Cookbook, Swedish Rum Cake, pg. 7.
Grandpa's Chocolate-Rum Cake, AOL KitchenAssistant recipe

Click on links to go to The Ultimate Chocolate Cake Challenge hosted by Not Quite Nigella

Special thanks to Not Quite Nigella for hosting this contest. I had great fun and got to eat cake!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Longing for line-item veto power

line-item veto powerBeth over at C. Beth Blog posited today about the wishful joys of having line-item veto power.
What an intoxicating idea!

So I'm spreading the love, which is so much nicer than saying I stole her idea, don't you think?

Like Beth – I'd keep cooking, but I'd veto dirty dishes!

I'd keep newborns but veto labor pains.

I'd keep my husband but veto nasty habits (like toxic gas) and petty arguments.

I'd keep ageless beauty and vitality but veto PMS and menopause.

I'd keep sexy firemen (or insert your favorite: men in uniform, cabana boys, men who love housework?) but veto pot bellies.

I'd keep snacks but veto empty calories.

Isn't this fun? While we wait for our line-item veto power, why don't you go over to C. Beth Blog and tell Beth how you'd make your life easier with that powerful red editing pen?

A New Quiz

I found this quiz on Baron Durr's Live Journal page.
I thought the dragon tarot was exquisite.


You are The Moon

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.

The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight.

You can and should trust your intuition.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Just FYI, there are three other tarot card options to choose from if you prefer. All are beautifully rendered (which is one of the things I love about tarot cards) and the outcome seems accurate.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nigella Lawson — Banana Bread
Scrumptious Banana Bread Pudding

Banana Bread PuddingThe other day I went on a baking spree, resulting in a loaf of banana bread and 6 1/2 dozen pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. The cookies turned out great. The banana bread did not.

My apologies to Nigella Lawson. Her banana bread recipe has been my go-to gold standard since I started feeding bananas to Little Sprout sometime last spring. But I got overconfident.

Attempting to execute her recipe from memory, I added a whole stick of vegetable shortening (1 cup) instead of the ½ cup of butter called for in the recipe. Remarkably, the baked loaf held together. (Just barely.) It had a light crumb but an oily texture.

I'm not afraid to admit when I screw up. What I like even better is turning a failure into a success! So the greasy banana bread got a makeover into a dessert pudding.

Banana Bread Pudding
⅛ cup apricot brandy
½ cup raisins
1 loaf banana bread
½ cup graham cracker crumbs
½ bag (6 oz.) mini morsels chocolate chips
2 cups milk
½ cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
4 eggs

Put the raisins and the brandy in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and leave for an hour, or until the raisins have absorbed most of the liquid. Drain remaining liquid into a mixing bowl.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with non-stick baking spray.

Crumble banana bread into baking dish. Add graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips and drained raisins. Mix thoroughly.

Combine milk, butter, vanilla, and eggs into the bowl with drained off brandy. Beat until blended. Pour over bread mixture, soaking thoroughly. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until set.
____________________________________
† Link to original post about Nigella Lawson — Banana Bread and the Banana Bread Bake Off contest sponsored at Not Quite Nigella

‡ Special thanks to the incredible cooks in my dinner group for their advice on how to salvage a greasy loaf of banana bread.
You are my foodie heroes.

For examples of mouth-watering dishes my dinner group has made in the past year, read Food, Glorious Food

Cuteness Wins Again!

(Photo taken July 2007)

The October Harry Potter Costume Contest results have been posted over at The Leaky Cauldron.

Five month old Little Sprout in his Baby Mandrake costume won second prize in the Experienced Handmade category. Squeee! It is so much fun to win!

Forgive the shameless promotion, but I can't help but be proud. This is the second time my Baby Mandrake won a prize. Woot!

(Photo taken July 2007)

Who am I kidding? All of the costumes are incredible.

Don't miss the seriously adorable six-month-old girl wearing a golden snitch costume in the Inexperienced Handmade category. Or the Harry Potter Horse!

Then come back and tell me how Little Sprout is the fairest of them all. Or else I might just dress up as an old peddlar woman and deliver a poison apple to your door. Mwahaha!

(We've been watching a lot of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs of late. Can you tell?) It's late and I'm getting positively punchy. Time to head to bed. Good night, everybody!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Daily Distraction: Puppycam!

I'm sure I'm a Jenny-Come-Lately to this insanely popular internet sensation, but so what if I am? Who can resist a puppy cam? Have you seen the six adorable Shiba Inu pups? So cute...

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/shiba-inu-puppy-cam

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Startitus Relief & Holiday Ornaments

Another harsh, croupy cold has kept me away from the computer for the past several days. Glad to finally be on the tail end of it.

During the down time, a few crafty things happened.

Art Pen Pals
I took part in an Art Pen Pal project exchange over at the C. Beth Blog site. Since I was feeling under the weather I didn't have the fortitude to oversee an artsy toddler free-for-all. So I sent a handmade card to my swap partner instead.

I received the cutest art made by the Toncrey family from Mobile, Alabama. This SAHM and her daughter are wicked good with pom pom balls, googly eyes and Popsicle sticks!

Thank you, Toncrey family! I love it!!!

I Knit Something
Yes! A test hat out of a cheap-o, chunky, 50/50 wool-acrylic yarn, using size 13 circular needles. The Toddler Felt Hat pattern calls for 100% worsted weight wool so I reduced the number of stitches from 90 down to 60, and crossed my fingers that the hat would still be in the general ballpark to felt down to toddler size. It was a crap shoot, pure and simple.

I got lucky. The hat felted down to just a hair bigger than I wanted. The dimply crown, however, is my egregious error. I didn't follow the pattern correctly, ending up with a pointy top instead of a smooth curve. Plus, the only DPNs I had on hand were size 8 (quite a difference from size 13) which warped the crown even more. Kind of looks like a nipple, doesn't it?

That's why swatches and tests are good. I got some practice felting, made a bunch of mistakes and learned a lot in the process. This project knit up so quickly that I will be doing another one out of the same yarn, just because I like the colors so well.

Felt Christmas Tree Ornaments
A "no fragile ornaments" rule has been imposed on the holiday tree this year. That means, if I don't come up with some soft ornaments, my tree will be pretty darned bare.

So I've chosen to create felted pear and partridge ornaments. To that end, I've created partridge template pieces that resemble the animated partridge from the opening logo of the popular 1970s TV show The Partridge Family.


I started out thinking in 2D, but after seeing this adorable felted bird in Warm Fuzzies by Betz White, I had to make them 3D. See?

The pears will be two-dimensional with classic blanket stitching around the edges, just like in the photo below.

Did I mention that my holiday tree this year will be purple? Traditional red and green is done to death on my street so I decided to color outside the lines. Convention? Ha! I laugh at you.

That mean the pears won't be yellow. More like red Bartlett or Anjou pears. When I have one done I will post photos and you can judge how well I executed the concept. Right now, the prospect of needle felting roving onto the pears for shading excites me. Once I sit down and try it, we'll see if needle felting qualifies as a delusional activity.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Cocoa Kid

Wordless Wednesday is suspended this week to bring you two photos of Silly Hat Central's resident villain, El Cocoa Bandito.

This time instead of snitching brownies off the kitchen counter he was "gettin' all Maverick-y" after his first taste of delicious, homemade cocoa.

That mustache puts me in mind of two things: Dick Dastardly from the cartoon The Perils of Penelope Pitstop — Maybe it's the stripes? — and a young Salvador Dali.

Special thanks to Stephanie Nissan-Nichols for pointing me in the direction of this last image. It is the best comparison yet.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Fistful of Brownies

The other morning while I was washing up the morning dishes, Little Sprout crashed around the main floor in full-tilt mode.*

All of a sudden my mommy sense tingled because it had gotten too quiet and I went to investigate. Here's what I found:


Oh, ha ha! He had gotten the brownies down from the counter without me knowing! AND he carried them just far enough out of the kitchen to be out of sight before settling in to enjoy his spoils.

The caveat is that the moments that were captured on film weren't as priceless as the one when I first entered the room.

Imagine this angelic, brownie-smeared face looking up at you as if to say, "What, mommy?"

Little Sprout had three brownies gripped together in two, barely big-enough hands. Rounding out the scene are my two half-beagles poised eagerly over the open brownie box like Snoopy vultures, just waiting for their chance to pounce. **

All of these photos were taken a few moments later, after the initial shock had worn off and I'd made a mad dash for the camera.


All it took for me to get these reenactment photos was to take the box away for a moment and hand it back asking, "What do you have there, little guy?" See how eager he is to show me his stash?

The time it took to grab the camera and start snapping was just long enough for this contented little bandit to put his fistful of chocolaty evidence back into the box and close the lid.

No evidence, no crime. Get it?

SO BEGINS THE TERRIBLE TWOS...

Can you believe he has been asking for brownies for breakfast every morning since? I really have my work cut out for me.



* Full-tilt mode is generally recognized as a talent unique to toddlers. However, I have met one or two grown men who can still pull it off.

** Yes, I do know that chocolate is bad for dogs. My opportunistic beagles (Very Bad Dogs) and I thank you for your concern.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Haunting He Did Go

A ghost haunted Silly Hat Central this year, and what an adorable Lil' Boo he was! He wasn't the least bit shy about knocking on doors and asking for treats. To him it was spooky, good fun!

Our neighbor, who goes by the moniker SkyGranny, invited him over to haunt her garden and he had a grand time running in circles with his spooky dags flying.

In fact, running at top speed is his new favorite pastime, so we couldn't have planned a better costume for him if we tried. All that energy just added to his spectral appeal.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test

Another quiz! This one tests which type of intelligence you use to gain knowledge. Find out which intelligence you use the most.

Here is how I did:

Your result for Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test...

Linguistic

27% Logical, 25% Spatial, 47% Linguistic, 20% Intrapersonal, 31% Interpersonal, 45% Musical, 29% Bodily-Kinesthetic and 22% Naturalistic!


"Verbal-linguistic intelligence has to do with words, spoken or written. People with verbal-linguistic intelligence display a facility with words and languages. They are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and memorizing words and dates. They tend to learn best by reading, taking notes, listening to lectures, and via discussion and debate. They are also frequently skilled at explaining, teaching and oration or persuasive speaking. Those with verbal-linguistic intelligence learn foreign languages very easily as they have high verbal memory and recall, and an ability to understand and manipulate syntax and structure.


Careers which suit those with this intelligence include writers, lawyers, philosophers, journalists, politicians and teachers." (Wikipedia)

Take Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test at HelloQuizzy

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Startitis and Knitting Delusions

Ever since late summer started making way for early Autumn I have been itching to knit. It is like this for a lot of knitters. Cool weather is a siren call. It stimulates the knitting receptors in our brains and we instinctively reach for needles and cozy yarn(s).

But this case of startitus is particularly acute. I want to knit or spin everything in the house. I see a friend knitting and want to pet their yarn.

"Toddlers and needles don't mix," I reproach myself, forcing my eyes downward and slowly backing away from the yarn.

So far chasing around my toddler has tempered my self control, but the two or three chilly evenings we've had this week are unraveling my resolve. Knitting delusions are starting to set in.

Yesterday I got an email from a local knitter on Ravelry announcing a new knitting circle forming in my area. Wham! I replied how I would love to join in the fun. And don't we all need a reason to get out of the house to work on our unfinished projects once in a while?

All afternoon I fantasized about finishing the baby bootie I started a month an a half ago for the baby shower that is taking place at my house in three days. Talk about a knitting delusion! What kind of twisted math was I doing in my head to rationalize that plan?

But when you are actually willing to lie to yourself about how long knitting takes in order to rationalize your plans, this is what happens.

Little Sprout needs a cap to keep his head warm on our morning walks. Delusion: start it now (Yes, start it! Cast on.) and you'll have it finished by next week! Reality: God only knows when that hat would get finished.

Then I read Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's latest blog post over at Yarn Harlot and I felt better. She and I have a few things in common: age (her 40 to my 43), oatmeal (tho' I know exactly where I stand on raisins) and a yen for starting projects.

All is right again with the universe because I know I'm not alone.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sugarplum Pie on My...

...2nd Anniversary!

Today marks two years since I started this blog. Happy Blog-iversary to me! Instead of passing around the cupcake tray, I've decided to share a recipe I found over at Emiline's Sugarplum blog (my newest food blog addiction). This recipe has a festive feel to it and it results in a purple pie. A fine choice for a celebration!

Sugarplum Pie (Recipe by Emiline)
Ingredients:
Pie dough:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 Tablespoons (trans-fat free) shortening
5-6 Tablespoons ice water

Filling:
2 lbs. black plums, peeled, pitted, thinly sliced
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried plums
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (not too coarse)
1 egg whisked together with
1 Tablespoon milk
1 Tablespoon Turbinado sugar (raw)

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Work the butter and shortening in, using a pastry blender or your fingers, until pea-sized lumps form. Sprinkle in the water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, stirring gently with a fork after each addition and adding only enough of the water to form a rough mass.

Using floured hands, divide the dough in half, and pat into 2 smooth, flattened disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together plums, dried plums, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and pepper, until well combined.

Remove pie dough rounds from refrigerator, and allow to warm up a bit before you start rolling. Roll out one of your pie dough rounds, thinly, on a floured surface, and fit into a 9-inch pie plate; dust bottom of dough with a little bit of flour to prevent the crust from getting soggy. Pour the plums into the pie plate. Roll out the second pie dough round and fit it over the top of plums. Trim away the excess dough, and make the crust look all pretty. Brush the egg mixture evenly over dough.

Bake pie for 40 minutes; remove from oven and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. Return pie to oven and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. If your crust or your crust edges starts to brown too quickly, cover with foil.

Cool pie on a wire rack to room temperature before slicing.

Yield: 8-10 slices

____________________________________

But, dear readers, that is not all!

I would like to thank you all for sharing in my journey. This blog started out as a journal/brag book of sorts, and has grown into a window into the world of first-time parenting in which I live, laugh and love.

In the beginning I expected this blog to fill a creative void. And it did (and does). The social aspect of blogging, however, took me completely by surprise. I didn't expect to make social connections: to post opinions and ask for others, to start conversations that often end in observations of things I have never considered before, to grow friendships from tiny seeds of ideas. The social aspect of blogging has made this blog worthwhile. So, hats off to all of you!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Look Who's Feeling Better

You know you're overdue in posting photos of your progeny when you get death threats requests from his adoring public.

Please don't send thugs with cement shoes or sexy assassins to my door. (Big Daddy is sure to object to that last part!) Here are three quick shots snapped today while Little Sprout was racing around the house, burning off bursts of boundless energy.

For the past week everyone (including me) has been sick with head colds at Silly Hat Central.

So I would have welcomed a visit from Guido or a Ninja assassin (to put me out of my misery!) a few days ago. But now we are all thankfully on the mend. I have always said the only thing worse than having a sick man moping around the house is having a sick kid and being sick yourself! *lol* I’m so glad that’s over.


Little Sprout is happy to be feeling more spiffy too. See? After up-ending the drawer of plastic container lids onto the floor, he turned the dishwasher into a drum set. (I captured a short bit of video, but it hasn't been uploaded to YouTube yet.)

This photo should be captioned, "Getting to know you...."

Yep! That's my lil' guy bonding with his Thomas & Friends potty seat — by dragging it all over the house. Wonder where he abandoned his slipper?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Toilet Talk

I stand (okay, sit) scratching my head at not one, but TWO public service toilet sites out there on the Net:

MizPee
Tagline: “Where to go on the go.”
According to the site: “MizPee finds the closest, cleanest toilet and gives you entertaining reading material once you get there. Since the service is cell phone-based, it’s always with you, when you really need it.”

Sit or Squat
Tagline: “A place to find and record bathrooms anywhere in the world.”
This site shows you the closest place to potty and whether that place qualifies as a sitting or squatting spot.

I can’t decide whether this is a good idea, or a bad idea.

Would you use either of these services? Would you send in a photo of a particularly appealing (or appalling) throne?

Wordless Wednesday



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Monday, October 20, 2008

Let Me Have My Words and Eat Them Too

I love words.

So when Clothilde at Chocolate & Zucchini added an Edible Idiom feature to her website I almost fell out of my chair in glee.

What is an edible idiom? It is Clothilde's series on French idiomatic expressions that relate to food.

This series is such a treat for me. The culinary-inspired phrases she serves up feed my French-starved soul. And the black & white photographs aren't bad either.

Want to play but ne parlent pas français?
Take this English food idiom quiz.
__________________________________________________

Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames
Clothilde's Edible Idioms reminded me of a delightfully diverting 1967 French tome entitled Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames by Louis d'Antin van Rooten.

At first glance, Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames is a collection of poems. But these funny little verses are not what they seem. Intended to be read aloud, they are a cleverly transcribed collection of nursery rhymes.

The best way to experience the richness of this silly collection is to uncork a bottle of wine (preferably red) and read it in your best French accent. Several times, until you get it. Try this one:

Chacun Gille
Houer ne taupe de hile
Tôt-fait, j'appelle au boiteur
Chaque fêle dans un broc, est-ce crosne?
Un Gille qu'aime tant berline à fêtard.


It's the Mother Goose rhyme Jack & Jill.

For two more excerpts, click here.

On February 2, 2005, Andrew Hearst wrote about this book on his cultural surveillance blog, Panopticist . I swear his experience was identical to mine, except that I was older than 15 out of college when my friend turned me on to The d'Antin Manuscript.

Like Mr. Hearst, the book was out of print when I first learned of it. So I photocopied my friend's book. All 40 pages. Over the years I have hung on to those woefully tattered and faded, binder-clipped pages. Flipping through them once again, the rhymes have not lost their appeal.

Un petit d'un petit
S'etonne au Halles
Un petit d'un petit
Ah! Degres te fallent....

Oh, ha, ha, ha! Such silly fun.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wordless Wednesday


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Monday, October 13, 2008

Give My Slump a Jump

Reprinted with kind permission of Terry Willis.
See more of his work at
Ruff Media


For the past few weeks I've been trying to kick-start my creative mojo with zero success. We've all heard of writer's block. Is there such a thing as scrap lag? A knitting slump? A cooking crisis? A sewing skid? Blogger's block?

This funk has flatlined my motivation. Case in point, I should have Little Sprout's Halloween costume finished, but I haven't even assembled the materials yet. My sister swooped in with a big save by mailing the cutest little ghost costume that she had made for her kids when they were Little Sprout's age. Thank you, sis!

(Too bad she doesn't read blogs. Not even this one, though it is the best place to see adorable toddler photos. But you all know that.)

Is the recession cooling my creative mojo? Lack of vitamin D? Whatever it is, I want to fire up a defibrillator, slap on the paddles, and jolt myself with about 50,000 joules. A high-voltage zap!

Tell me, what do you do to get your groove back?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wordless Wednesday


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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Silly Hot Dog Humor

Dean over at Varmint Bites has such a rich sense of humor. (Maybe it is a Southern thing?) When I saw these two video clips about Wienerschnitzel I nearly woke up my sleeping family with noisy chuckles.

Dean deserves all the credit for finding these, so go on over and send him some comment love. Tell him Is'Dihara sent ya!

VarmintBites: Slightly Inappropriate Food Video of the Day

Monday, October 6, 2008

Captain Hammer in Da House!

Photo Caption: Who needs my saving expertise?

THIS is what happens when you leave "the boys" home alone for an hour.

Big Daddy dressed Little Sprout up as "Captain Hammer" while I ran out to the grocery store. When I got home I was greeted by a black-booted superhero in a t-shirt with a hammer on it.

True to character, my Lil' Hammer 1 wore his bravado on his sleeve. He giggled and danced around until it was time to put on his pajamas. A bit like this Captain Hammer Caramelldansen animation I found on YouTube:




Okay, I admit that was a bit jarring to watch. Would you rather have had me use the tired and dated "Hammer Time" reference?

Photo Caption: Witness the magnificence that is me.

Here is Lil' Hammer showing off his superpowers (and his boots!) in a skillful display of imminent danger saving.

Not so much the saving from a boring Monday.
Unless you're a chick of course.

At least he wasn't wearing salad! (See my first post for a photo of Little Sprout with lettuce on his head.)



1 Lil'Hammer — not to be confused with Lillehammer, Norway. (Lillehammer was the home of the 1994 Winter Olympics.)

∴ Seeking New Evil ∴ Are You Bad Enough?


The Evil League of Evil is now accepting applications!



Calling all Evil Geniuses

Have you been practicing your maniacal laughs?


Back in August I told you that this day would come. (See Are You Bad Enough?) Now Bad Horse is prepared to reward you for your patience and loyalty. That is, if you're bad enough.


Dust off your evil alter egos and pull your application video together. Details on the EVE website.


The deadline to submit your application video is October 10th.

Taste of West Virginia Fall Giveaway

Today Ellie Lash posted about her foodie friend Tonia who is having a Fall Gift Basket Giveaway on her blog. If you go over and leave her a comment you’ll be entered to win a gift basket from vendors such as Happiness Spreads, Blue Smoke Salsa, Holl's Chocolates, Evan Scent Candles & more!

Click HERE to go there!

Plus she is a beagle owner, so you know I love her already.

Tonia has some great recipes and she writes nostalgically about food from time to time. Her S'mores Cupcakes recipe completely won me over. Go see for yourself and tell her IsDihara sent you!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Harry Potter Husband Test

In the mood for a quiz? Having read all the Harry Potter books, it was a no-brainer that I would take this test. I'll even admit that I have a bit of a thing for Ron Weasley. It's the red hair.

My result for The Harry Potter Husband Test...

Mrs. Weasley Twin

Your perfect HP man is Fred and/or George Weasley.


Laughter is important to you. You want a guy who's never boring, who can always put a smile on your face, and who can pull the best of pranks and never get caught. Or possibly two such guys. Because let's face it, they're pretty much a two-fer. You get one, you get both. Even if one of them's only a friend, he'll still be around so much you'll feel like you're married to him, too. Sure, they may not seem like the most mature guys in the world, in a traditional sense, but just ask them about their business plan. When they drive you nuts by relentlessly testing their latest inventions on you, you can console youself with that huge stack of cash and dragon-leather jacket. Besides, you know you're powerless against those stereo smiles.


Take The Harry Potter Husband Test at HelloQuizzy and let me know your results!

Heh, heh. This quiz is a bit like picking up a Magic 8 Ball.†
You pick it up, you ask it a question. Simple and diverting.

† The Public 8 Ball is also fun to play when it is online. If it was offline when you clicked on the link, try the Mystical Smoking Head of 'Bob' instead.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Where Have All the Good Puddles Gone?

A crisp Autumn cool has settled into the morning air and I'm wistfully reminiscing about bare feet on warm grass. But today was a day for dry socks in rain boots. Is it just me or are the days racing by faster than ever? Halloween will be here in no time.

Little Sprout is so excited to wear his new rain boots. The first photo is of him splashing in the one pathetic puddle we found today after a short morning drizzle. The photo below is of us looking (in vain) for more challenging puddles to jump.


It's hard to bear when you're ready and eager to splash to your heart's content, but the clouds won't cooperate. Better luck tomorrow, Little Sprout!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Little Sprout in a Big Truck

Last week I posted a photo of Little Sprout negotiating for snacks at breakfast, and a photo of him in front of his Grandpa's truck during a recent visit. Here he is behind the wheel.


He was encouraged to explore Grandpa's truck, pushing buttons, turning knobs, playing with levers and the steering wheel — it was a toddler's dream come true!

After that visit, Little Sprout's focus on trucks has doubled, possibly even tripled. He points out trucks everywhere, calling them all "daddy's truck." I think he means to say "Grandpa's truck."

It is intriguing to see him label objects around him, using the words he knows when he can't yet say the words for the concept he understands. How long will it take for his vocabulary to catch up with his cognitive development?

And given the spiraling cost of gasoline — will he be able to drive a truck when he's old enough or will gasoline-powered engines have gone the way of eight-track tapes and Betamax recorders?

That's right. Eight-tracks and Beta. Let that sink in for a minute. When was the last time you saw an eight-track tape? Did you or anyone you know own a Betamax recorder? I'm just sayin'...

By the time Little Sprout can say, "Fill 'er up," those words may have no more meaning than the broadcast phrase "film at 11."

Is levity endemic to Australia?

Megan (a.k.a. Flergs) is a digital scrapbooking designer down under whose blogs I follow. She posted this recently after receiving it in her e-mail inbox. The comments about the drop bear and hippo racing had me laughing out loud.

This bit of levity looks like it has been flitting about the Internet for a while. Supposedly, the questions below were posted to an Australian Tourism Website and the answers are the actual responses by the website officials, who obviously have a sense of humor.

Australian Tourism
These were posted on an Australian Tourism Website and the answers are the actualresponses by the website officials.
Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK)
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.
Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA)
A: Depends how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney - can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles, take lots of water.

Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and Hervey Bay? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia ? (USA)
A: Africa is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Australia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not ... oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is North in Australia? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Austria is that quaint little country bordering Germany, which is ... oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in America which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It's a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA)
A: It's called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of Gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Can you tell me the regions in Tasmania where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay night clubs.

Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? (France)
A: Only at Christmas.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mother's (not Mudder's) Milk,
Would You Do It?

Pardon the Firefly reference, but I couldn't help but share this offbeat bit of foodie news gleaned from Dean at Varmint Bites. Thanks, Dean, for the sharing your thoughts.

Dean links to it in his post as well, but here is the original article from the British newspaper, The Telegraph.

Farscape Comics coming in November

Before my Firefly addiction, I was (still am) an ardent fan of the TV show Farscape.

CBR has an article on the Farscape comic books being written by Rockne O'Bannon. The first four-issue miniseries, starting in November, is being described as a direct sequel to The Peacekeeper Wars.

I'm so ready to delve back into that whole frelling universe.

ADDENDUM: More comic book cover art photos at GamerTell. Also read [SFX].

Friday, September 19, 2008

Talk Like a Pirate Day 2008

Aargh and abast ye, me hearties! The call o' the sea be strong. If ye be longin' t' feel the swells beneath ye, grab some grog (or a lusty wench) an' let loose with a hearty, "Yo Ho!"

For the past few seasons one o' me mates has sent me e-cards commemoratin' this fine day. The photo above is a screen shot of this year's card. Of course I run up the Jolly Roger and blast a bit o' buccanneer shot right back. I'd be nothin' but a bilge rat and bastard daughter of a biscuit eater if I didn't.

Aye now, if ye be likin' me light-hearted lingo, this privateer be goin' on the account to have me lookin' like a lily-livered sprog. He even beat me to me best site o' reference. Aye, ye'll be wantin' to share some grog wit' 'im. Savvy?

Lookin' to get ye a proper swashbucklin' epithet?

My pirate name is:

Deadeye Constance Bonney



Every pirate lives for something different. For some, it's the open sea. For others (the masochists), it's the food. For you, it's definitely the fighting. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network
Thanks to Dread Pirate Kidd for posting her pirate name, and that scurvy art. Good on ye, mate!

Smooth sailin' an' fair winds t' ye! Aaarrrggh!