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...


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?


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.